Reading Time: 141 Minutes
Title: Home Is Where the Heart Is
Series: We Are All Works In Progress 1
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Genre: Drama, Paranormal/Supernatural, Shifters, Slash
Relationship(s): Stiles Stilinski/OMC
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Violence – Graphic, Canon Hunter Racism, Canon Hunter Hate Crimes, Discussion-Murder, Discussion-Other Trigger Topics, Discussion-Rape, Discussion-Torture, Violence-Canon-Level, Violence-Graphic, Explicit Sex
Author Notes: A wonderful thank you to my alpha readers VMures and Starkindler and to my beta ScarlsLikeVelvet, you all made my story better than it was! And a HUGE shoutout to my artist Twigen! Twigen made me such wonderful art. I love it so very much.
Beta: Alpha: VMures & Starkindler Beta: ScarsLikeVelvet
Word Count: 60,140
Summary: Stiles decides to leave home so that he can pull himself out of something that was no longer serving him. He had no pack with Scott or with Derek and while he loved his father, staying was hurting him.
Stiles Stilinski looked around his bedroom and sighed. His face still hurt, and he was grounded for who knew how long. His father knew that he was lying about something to do with his kidnapping, but Stiles wasn’t sure that Gerard was dead, despite how sure Scott was with the Mountain Ash powder that he had poisoned the man with. Though, Stiles wasn’t sure that Scott was firing on all cylinders anyway. He laughed as he looked at the date. He still wasn’t sure that Scott had even remembered that Friday was his birthday. Friday the day that had been so good and had fallen so low.
“Are you ready to talk?” Noah asked as he slipped into Stiles’ room.
“I don’t know. I’m scared, Dad.”
“Scared about what?”
Stiles looked outside. It was still daytime, but he had no clue if anyone was around. Stiles was scared for his life because it seemed that no one but him cared about his life. He knew that his father did, but it seemed that no matter how hard Stiles tried to keep the supernatural from his father, the more it tried to pull him in. He wanted to be away because Scott didn’t have his best interests at heart. He loved Scott, Scott was like his brother, but it seemed that Scott only cared about staying on the good side of Chris Argent to stay with Allison.
“I’m scared about a lot of things, but the biggest is something that you have to take me at my word for it, Dad. I am not lying, and I’m going to stop lying about it all, but you have to promise me something.”
“You’ll believe me.”
The look on Noah’s face made Stiles’ heart feel like it was breaking. He felt small and like a child again. He felt like he was already in trouble.
“I’ll believe you.”
Stiles nodded his head.
“Then the first thing that we need to do is leave Beacon Hills and go for a drive. Someone could be listening, and I don’t want them to.”
“Son, you are worrying me.”
Stiles laughed and stood up off of his bed. “I’ve not begun to scare you yet.” He grabbed the bag that he had packed and laid beside his desk. It was enough to keep him entertained until they headed back home the next day. “We can head to San Fran for the day?”
“Sure. Staying the night?” Noah asked. He at least seemed to be willing to go along with Stiles for this part. Once they were on the road, though, that was going to be another thing.
“Yeah. Tara said she would cover your shift tomorrow, and you can give her a Friday off some other time.”
Stiles waited for his father in the living room. He had his phone out, looking over all of the missed calls that had gone out to Scott and how the conversations with him by text were stilted and had been off for a while. Since Allison had entered his life. Stiles knew that girlfriends were supposed to take up time and shit, but it had been more than that.
Scott hated being a Werewolf except for the things that it gave him. Stiles was kind of sick of that. He hated it with one hand, but if pressed, he wouldn’t give it up. He would still bitch, but he wouldn’t have Allison or first-line without it.
“Ready to go?” Noah asked.
Stiles looked up to see him standing there. He hadn’t even heard his father coming down the stairs or get that close. Stiles stood up and shouldered his bag. He waved for his dad to go first. He had been given his badge back, but Stiles wasn’t sure that his father would run again. Stiles really hoped that he did, but he was so afraid of how the last few months had gone.
“Hungry?” Noah asked as he started up the SUV once they were both piled into it.
“Not really? Maybe we can hit up the slushie place on the way out of town for both of us?”
The silence of the ride was oppressive. There was such a divide between them. Stiles hated it. He hated everything that had to do with him, not telling his father the truth from the moment he figured out that Scott had turned into a Werewolf. He wondered how many people would be alive if he had done it. It was done, though. He couldn’t change that, and wishing for something like that to change wasn’t going to help anything.
Once they were in the open air of the highway heading toward San Francisco, Stiles rolled down his window and let the air hit him for a few minutes before he rolled it back up and looked at his father.
“Once we hit a rest stop, you can call someone at the station and tell them to have the Beacon City Police Department pick up Mister Argent.”
“Mister Argent, which one?”
“The eldest. He’s the one that kidnapped me that night as a warning to Scott. Which he didn’t get.”
“Does this have something to do with Jackson, who isn’t dead but had made it down to the morgue with everyone thinking that he was?”
“Yes, and dad, this is going to sound like a horror movie plot, but I promise you on mom’s grave that I am not lying. I’m not making this up to deflect anything from you. I just…I was worried about you getting hurt, and then it just got too serious with the station being shot up by Gerard with his pet assassin being used to threaten Scott, Derek, and I.”
“Son, start at the beginning. I have a feeling you are talking about the end and not the start.”
“Well, it started the night you caught me in the woods.”
Stiles talked, and he talked, then he talked some more. He stayed in the car at the two gas stations that his father stopped at to get him more slushies. It worked best to keep his throat happy with all of the talking that he was doing.
When they parked outside of the hotel that they liked to go to in San Francisco, Stiles was ready to go to sleep, but it wasn’t anywhere close to that. His father had not called in to have Gerard arrested yet, but he was going to when they got inside. So far, Stiles thought that his father believed him. He hadn’t turned around and taken him to the psych ward at Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital.
Stiles settled on the bed in the room that they got and looked out into the living room. It was a suite of some kind with two bedrooms and then the main room.
“That’s quite a story, son,” Noah said as he stood in the doorway.
Stiles nodded his head. His throat was feeling the not talking for the last little bit.
“I have some tea coming up and a kettle. So why don’t you let me do some talking for a while?”
Stiles nodded again and got up to head into the living room.
“The cops are working on a plan to raid the Argent house. They have a SWAT team in place and will try and not fuck up enough to where anyone dies, but I can’t promise anything on that. Given the whole Werewolf healing thing, we can’t do anything about their blood, but if there was tape on them, we might be able to get skin cells enough to get DNA. I explained what was going on with you, and the police chief is more than willing to wait for us to get back to town. Once I explained that your principal abducted you and two other students, and another student was used to take them. He understands you want you and me out of the city before you told me everything. He’s willing to work this since I can’t be involved since it’s you.”
“I want to say that it’s fine, but it’s not, but you came to me when you felt you were over your head. I would have hoped it would have been earlier, but it’s not like teenagers make the best decisions. It’s why they aren’t allowed to make legal decisions. Now you said that Peter Hale is alive. How much proof can I gather to get him thrown in jail?”
“None. I mean, after the article, any lawyer he gets would be able to use that, and really, I did a lot of research on it. Peter had books hidden around the Hale house that I found with Scott over the last little while. I don’t think that a court would find him legally responsible. He seems…safer now. When I saw him, he was calm and fine. He didn’t feel as creepy. I genuinely think he was on some kind of unbalanced revenge spiral. Given the way that she had that journal about Werewolves that she killed that was found before Chris could get her things cleaned of that stuff, there it was easy to pin all of the murders on her. Even if the murder weapon wasn’t found.” Stiles groaned as the talking made him hurt.
The knock on their door had Noah slipping into the living room and opening the door. He grabbed the kettle and the bag that had a lot of different teas in it. Stiles watched as a mug was handed over next.
“We thought that you might like something sturdy to drink out of, Sheriff,” the lady who had brought everything up said.
“Thanks. It’s for my son. He’s losing his voice.”
The lady looked at Stiles and waved, her face a picture of condolences. Stiles just gave her a smile and a wave. She turned to leave after Noah gave her a tip. Stiles walked over and took the kettle from him to get it set up. It wasn’t anything like what they had at home. Instead, it was pretty fancy. Stiles got water from the sink in the kitchen area and got it going. Noah washed out the mug and handed it over before he started to sort through the tea.
Stiles watched him toss a few over that were not ones that Stiles would drink at all. They were all sealed up, so Stiles assumed that they would take them back. His father tossed a bag at him, and Stiles found that it was a blend he had never even thought of before. Stiles opened it up and inhaled the smell. He loved Earl Grey tea and hadn’t found a blend of it that he didn’t really like or love. He was pleasantly surprised with this one having lavender and rose petals. Stiles dropped it into the mug and waited for the water kettle to shut off. He walked to the microwave and set the timer for how long the tea would need.
“Your mother loved her evening tea ritual. When she was pregnant with you, she swapped to tea in the morning and then did herbal in the evening. She would get everything right and take her time on picking the tea that she had made you happiest,” Noah said.
Stiles smiled. His father liked to tell that story, and Stiles loved to hear it. Stiles was sure that her love of tea was why he loved tea so much. His father sure didn’t drink it or even make it for Stiles as some of the smells were enough to make him hate it. Still, he did it when needed.
“So, the Chief will keep me informed. I have my guys set up and waiting to do the backup. Tara is leading them like a boss.”
“She’s good at that,” Stiles whispered.
“Stop,” Noah said.
Stiles looked at him to see his worried face. Stiles nodded. His dad didn’t like to see him in pain. Stiles could understand that. The kettle went off, and Stiles poured water into the mug before hitting the button to start the timer.
“You did good, Stiles. You tried your hardest to do the best that you could. It seemed that the other adults that were in the know didn’t step up and do the same. I will be talking to Melissa, and I will be talking to Chris Argent.”
Stiles looked at his father.
“Not alone. I’ll take another deputy with me and maybe even Hale. I’m not going to do anything stupid. I promise.”
“I’m going to sit down in the living room and sort through the list of places that deliver, and we can see what we want for lunch.”
Stiles nodded. He turned back to his tea, watching as the water in the mug became darker as the tea steeped. It reminded him of a tea that his mother used to get. Stiles never knew where and he had never found it after she died. He asked her a lot where she had got it, and she never answered him. Stiles had loved that tea, and he missed it so much. He wanted to make another cup of it now as it used to calm him better than anything else, even though it had caffeine in it.
The timer went off, so Stiles went through the motions of getting the bag out of the water and setting it in the sink at the edge. He wouldn’t steep it again since there was so much tea. He sorted through them while he waited for the timer to go off. He made a few piles of teas he wanted to try and then made a big one of the ones he liked. There was a smaller one of the ones he didn’t like at all.
When Stiles was ready, he walked over with his mug of tea in his hand as he sat down on the chair that faced the spot where his father was sitting on the couch.
“Do you think that Scott has made the best decisions that he could have?” Noah asked.
Stiles shook his head no. He blew on the tea and then took a sip. “He’s making decisions that affect more than him and doing it without asking anyone who is affected. Derek looks at the bite like a gift because that was how his family looked at it. Yes, Peter bit Scott without permission, but what Scott did to Derek because Gerard wanted the bite was…monstrous. I look at it as rape, and Derek’s autonomy had been taken too many times before. First, Kate, and then just everything that came after.”
“If she wasn’t dead, I’d like to kill her myself.”
Stiles raised his eyebrows at that.
“I remember Derek after the fire, Stiles. He was despondent and just broken. Now that I look back at it, I can see it was more than just his family dying. I’ll get a quiet word out to a few people who look for this kind of thing. If we could set a pattern based on what she did here, we might be able to close out a few other fires that were not accidents like they were originally put. I’m sure the BAU would love it as a training case.”
“If you can get the Werewolves part out of it.” Stiles took a few more sips of the tea; it was helping to soothe his throat a lot.
“I’m sure that I can find someone in the BAU who knows about the world you just shoved me into. You can’t tell me that they don’t skirt cases like this.”
“That’s true,” Stiles said.
They walked a while longer until they were both hungry, and his father put a stop to all discussion of it. Dinner was stilted, but they worked through it, and after a while, it was like the last few months hadn’t happened to their relationship.
Stiles stretched in the bed and groaned as he grabbed his pillow and pulled it to his chest. His head thumped onto the bed. He was glad that his father had grabbed his pillow. He almost forgot about it when they had left the day before. He got up out of bed and walked to the window to look out into the city. It looked so clean and nice. Unlike what Beacon Hills looked like to him at the moment.
Trying to listen, Stiles couldn’t hear his father moving around anywhere, so he just stayed where he was. He leaned his forehead against the window. He knew that no one would be happy with him for the choice he had made, but he had to do it. He had ended up going to bed when his father spent half an hour on the phone with the Chief of Police for Beacon Hills.
“Stiles?” Noah called out from just on the other side of Stiles’ door. “You up?”
“Yeah, Dad,” Stiles said. His voice sounded like shit. He needed tea. Well, anything warm and soothing.
“I got you some honey to add to your tea. I know you don’t like sweet tea, but it’ll help.”
Stiles walked to the door and opened it up. His father was standing there with a notebook and a pen in one hand. Stiles raised an eyebrow at the items he had in his hand.
“Notes. I know that your grades haven’t slipped. I know that you do shit to mess with Finstock, but other than Harris, you have no issues in any of your classes. I’m going to see about having you do your schoolwork from home for the rest of the year. You might have to do a few tests at the school and maybe go for a week, but I will get you out of there to get settled into everything before you go back. We can use your ADHD as a reason.”
“Been thinking, have you?” Stiles asked.
“Yes. You are a smart kid. I know mostly why you decided to just flake out the fifth-grade year; you were checked out of everything. I supported your wanting to be held back, and you made good friends. Or at least people I thought were good friends. So if you want to stay at home, I’ll make sure it happens. I am sure that a few teachers would be more than happy to not have you in class when you are going through medication changes. We can have a lot of fun playing with that. I’m sure Harris would be more than happy to make sure that he never sees you again.”
Stiles nodded his head. It seemed like a cop-out, though. Not making everyone see him day in and day out. It felt like he should do something like that. At least for the rest of the year. He grabbed his cell phone and got onto Facebook. He didn’t get onto it that much; he hadn’t ever posted up anything but then saw a post from someone in the family.
It was a picture of his Aunt Celeste at a New York Rangers game. New York was hell and gone from Beacon Hills. There was no way that his aunt would take him in like that, though. She and her husband had kids, but all of them were older, happy, and either in college or out of it and out of the nest. Stiles knew that they had been happy when the last had moved out and into an apartment a few years back for college.
Stiles wondered what kind of schools there were in New York that he could go to. It could be nice to be away from Beacon Hills. It wasn’t a small town, but it was limited in a lot of ways. In New York, he could hide away from anything and everything in a way he couldn’t here. Not as the son of the Sheriff.
The thought of leaving Beacon Hills had never occurred to Stiles before now. He had just assumed he would be here until the end of school, then head to college. Yet now the thought was there. He would have to think about it a lot more.
“When I noticed you were missing, and we started to look, Scott said you were overwhelmed with everyone looking at you after doing so well in the game.”
Stiles raised his eyebrows at that. It sounded nothing like Stiles. He was used to be the center of attention when he did stupid stuff or talked too loudly when saying something. He would have loved to have been there when everyone was rushing the field and giving the team a bunch of pats on the back. He would have loved to have seen everything and felt that pride.
“Yeah, I know. I was a little too preoccupied with being worried about you, and it didn’t hit me until today that it was vastly out of character. When we had you in soccer until you were eight, you loved making goals and the rest of the team mobbing you. You also loved mobbing team members when they scored.”
Soccer had been a lot of fun, but it had been something that Stiles hadn’t felt really attached to. Lacrosse was the same. He did it because of Scott, but that was it.
“You could pick up a membership for the rink again,” Noah said.
“I could. I was just thinking about that. I bet the one group of guys are still doing weekend game things there. I could get back into practice some. Rink time would fit my gym credits needed if I’m going to school from home. I can look into that. The coach for the hockey team would probably sign off on my stuff.”
“I can talk to Bill about that.”
“Oh, he’s the new coach?” Stiles asked. He was now kind of looking forward to that part. He laced up every once in a while, and skated. He wasn’t as bad as he had tried to make himself seem to be that one time but then he had wanted Lydia’s eyes on him the entire time.
The thought of Lydia made Stiles’ mouth feel like there was nothing in it. He picked up his tea and took a sip, finding it a good temperature to sip it more. Lydia might be smart, and she might be beautiful, but there was a part of her that turned Stiles off now that he had got to know her more. The way she had played Jackson and Scott off each other. The way that she had treated Jackson. Jackson was an asshole, but breaking up with him because he was co-Captain instead of just Captain had been something that Stiles didn’t think he could ever put up with.
“Dad,” Stiles said.
“I…” Stiles swallowed the spit in his mouth and took another sip of his tea. He looked around and then settled on his hands. Stiles shook his head. His dad hadn’t even entertained him being gay when Stiles had only partially jokingly told him. “Nothing.”
“Stiles, don’t lie to me.” There was a tinge of anger there, and Stiles couldn’t take it.
Stiles stood up and walked to his bedroom; he pulled the door shut and locked it before sliding down. He heard his father getting closer to the door, and he didn’t care. He covered his ears with his hands. He leaned his head onto his knees and just breathed. He could feel a panic attack coming.
It was easier to just ignore. Just like he had been for a long time. To lust after someone who he knew would never want him because it was safe.
Stiles wasn’t sure how long it took for him to get calmed down. When he was sure that he wouldn’t go into a full panic attack, he leaned up to where his head wasn’t on his knees.
“It’s okay, Stiles,” Noah said. There were a few seconds, and then he said it again. It seemed like he could have been saying it the entire time Stiles had been trying to stop himself from having a panic attack. He grabbed the edge of his shirt and wiped at his face.
“You okay?” Noah asked.
“Not really,” Stiles answered. He wasn’t shocked that his father knew from his breathing that he was back from the edge of whatever he had been in.
“Talk to me. I don’t like that look of fear that was on your face right then. You have never looked at me in fear like that before.”
“Please, it’s not you. I wasn’t scared of you. I just thought about being taken by Argent.”
“So it has nothing to do with the failed coming out you did in the Jungle’s parking lot?” Noah asked.
Stiles shook his head. He knew that his father couldn’t see him, but he really didn’t care about that. He would be able to get out of this. He tried to laugh.
“Stiles, your obsession with Lydia was a little over the top, just like a lot of the time when you are trying to cover up something. I should never have said what I did about your clothes. I know that fashion has nothing to do with sexuality. I tried to work on getting you to tell me why you were there and hoped that shock would do it. I chose the wrong words, and I am sorry. You don’t have to hide that from me. You know that I have two deputies who are out and working.”
“Yeah, but they work in remote areas.”
“On their wish. I can give them a call, and they can tell you that they wanted to be out of Beacon Hills and Beacon City area. They live at the edges of the county, and they like it out there. I promise.”
Stiles stood up and opened up the door before he could talk himself out of it. His father was standing up, and he looked at Stiles with such a look of disappointment. But not a disappointment at Stiles but at himself. He grabbed Stiles and pulled him into a hug, gently. Stiles hissed, and he felt something move in a very wrong way, and he jerked back.
“Sorry.” Noah reached up and cupped the sides of Stiles’ face. He smiled at him. “Let’s sit down. You are still sore. We can talk about your crush on whoever you have one on, and then we can just talk some more.”
Stiles grabbed his skates and looped them over his shoulder before he grabbed his bag with his protective gear. He looked out the window and smiled as the sun was just beginning to rise. He opened up the door to his bedroom and slipped down the hall to check to make sure that his dad was still asleep. He left the note taped to the area right beside his father’s phone. It’s what he used to do when he slipped out to skating years before.
After becoming friends with Scott, Stiles backed off skating and hockey because Scott hadn’t been able to do it. So Stiles had let it all go. He had spent the past month getting his body back into shape for hockey and skating and was ready to hit the ice again.
The city was just waking up, and the only open businesses were the ones that served coffee and food to start the day. He grabbed what he wanted from the coffee shop that was closest to the rink. He downed his first coffee and got the second iced so that it would stay cold enough in the rink. He had food for now and for afterward.
Stiles found the side door open like it always used to be. He gripped the handle on his bag and stepped inside. He heard the clatter of sticks on the sideboards and the chatter of the team. The hockey team’s Saturday practices were all voluntary, and anyone in the community could come and skate as the team only took over half of the ice. There would be a net protecting the rest from random pucks.
“Holy shit! MISCHIEF!” Brandy yelled as Stiles got to the edge of the opening to look out at the team.
It took only seconds for Brandy to get to him and hug the shit out of him, nearly toppling them both over.
“You have skates. Get your ass dressed!”
Behind Brandy was the rest of the team. It wasn’t the school team but the community team. Many were on the Beacon Hills High School team, but some were also in the team for the other school as well, and then a few just liked the game and didn’t want to do it professionally.
“It’s okay?” Stiles asked, looking beyond Brandy to the team.
“We will chase your ass if you don’t get on the ice,” Brad said.
Stiles nodded his head. He pulled the skates off and settled on the bench behind to get ready to head out. He looked to see that nearly no one had pads or protection on. He looked to see that it wasn’t set up for free skating.
“Is it okay that I am here?” Stiles asked. He looked to see the coach Bill Dye walking over toward him.
“Yes. Your father reached out a few weeks ago. He said he didn’t know if you would show up or not.”
“I had to work through some stuff. Who is driving the Zamboni these days?”
“Well, Boyd was doing it, and he quit. Said something about having to focus on school. Anyway, we’ve got a few kids on the team taking turns. Seems that they kind of enjoy it.”
“Well, duh!” Stiles said, and he laughed. He grabbed his thicker hoodie and swapped out what he was wearing for it, and stood up. He wobbled a little, but his legs got used to it again. He grinned and headed to the ice. Mostly everyone was warming up as they skated around.
Stiles looked for Brandy and found her with her twin on the far side. Stiles headed toward them, using the time to get used to his ice legs again.
Brandy had been into figure skating as a younger girl, then she had gone to hockey practice, saw what her brother was doing, and joined the team right then. She was the hardest checker on the team, and most of the time, Stiles tried to avoid her. They both went to Devenford Prep, and Stiles didn’t hold that against them.
“Hey, where have you been?” a voice asked.
Stiles looked to see that it was Sam from school.
“Dad pulled me out. I’m changing my ADHD medication, so the school lets me do all of my work at home. I still have to go in for tests soon.”
“Harris has been grumpy that his favorite punching bag isn’t there,” Sam said.
“No kidding. He tried to get the school to let him fail me, but when my father talked about how I went to the station, and he locked me in a cell so that I wouldn’t bother him anymore when I had a bad reaction to the last pill that I tried, Harris backed down.”
“Harris is a dick; I’m glad I’m not in general school,” Brandy said.
“So, what is going on today?”
“Drills for the morning after we have an hour of goofing off, and then we will play a game. No free skate today. No one showed up last week, so we are kind of doing a full practice,” Brad said.
Stiles spent half an hour getting used to skates again before he grabbed a stick to get used to carrying it. By the time the coach had them all get into full gear, Stiles felt sure of himself. He had grown, so a few bits of the equipment didn’t fit him or couldn’t be expanded to where it did, so he dropped those into the kit exchange and grabbed the stuff he hoped would fit him. When he could get stuff that fit him better, he would drop it all back in. He was gonna leave the other stuff there for younger kids as they grew.
Brad grabbed Stiles and pulled him close as a few of the younger kids from the younger team rushed past, nearly clipping Stiles and sending him down.
“You are welcome. Well, lacrosse helped with your arms,” Brad said as he kind of felt up Stiles’ arms. He was giving Stiles an incredibly significant look.
Stiles felt that frisson of heat that he did when Derek looked at him and saw him instead of the show that Stiles put on. Stiles gave Brad a weak smile, and the teen nodded his head and stepped back.
“There’s someone else,” Stiles said.
“Does he deserve you?” Brad asked.
“Not really, but he needs someone, and I think I’m the kind of guy to help him.”
“Change him?” Brad asked.
“No. Changing never works. No, he’s got no one, and the whole family is dead, well, most of them, but the uncle that’s left isn’t a good guy. No, he needs someone to help him remember that he has something worth living for because right now, he acts like dying to save someone else is the best thing that he can do.”
“Just…don’t let him walk all over you.”
“I won’t, and if things end up different, I’ll come and see you.” Stiles hugged him, and he felt the way that Brad melted into him. Brad had been out since he was a young kid. His parents had been supportive.
“What’s the Sheriff think?”
“About me being bisexual or the guy?” Stiles asked.
“He’s supportive of me in both. He was good to me when I came out and wasn’t making a full joke about it. As to the guy, he understands. I mean…I’m a caretaker. I live for that, and this guy needs that.”
“So, what grade is he in?” Brad asked.
“Graduated. I know.” Stiles said when Brad gave him a weird look. “I just turned seventeen, but this guy needs help, and he’d never take advantage of me. He was when he was younger than me, and he would never do that. I promise. I’ll probably have to strip my clothes off after I turn eighteen for him to even think that he could do anything close to sexual.”
“Good. You deserve the world,” Brad said.
“Brad,” Stiles said.
“No, I’m not…no, I just mean after your mom and then your dad and his drinking and checking out after she died, you deserve someone who will actually be nice to you. Brandy and I worry about you. Sam’s been a little spy and told us that you weren’t around McCall as much and then that you weren’t even in school.”
“When this is over, wanna go and get lunch? Us four?” Stiles asked.
“Sure.” Brad nodded his head and smiled before pushing away and skating toward where the team was talking while waiting for Coach to finish up.
“Why here?” Sam asked as they slipped into one of the nicer restaurants in town that didn’t require a certain dress code. No one was looking at them, and it was just about time for the lunch rush to start.
“No one from Beacon Hills High comes to eat here unless their parents make them so no one will see us or overhear us.”
“Dude, I know you are paranoid, but really?” Brad asked.
“Yes, really.” Stiles followed behind the hostess, who sat them down.
“Does this have to do with McCall not even worried about where you are?” Sam asked.
“Really? You’ve been out of school a month, and he’s not asked Mischief,” Brandy said.
“Yes. Yes. I know, but you both know I’m loyal as fuck. So don’t even.” Stiles grabbed the edge of the menu and started to mess with it. He watched as the other three worked on looking at the menu to figure out what they wanted.
“Nachos to start?” Stiles asked as he looked at the waitress walking over.
Stiles ordered after getting a few murmurs of assent to it. He knew what he was getting, and right now, he just wanted to talk to Sam, but he wasn’t going to bother him while he was trying to figure out what he wanted to eat. The others ordered their drinks, and the waitress left. Slowly the others put their menus down.
“Hey, wait, your birthday just passed,” Sam said.
“Yup, and Scott didn’t remember it.”
“We told you that Scott wasn’t the kind of friend who deserved you,” Brandy said.
“I know, and I let him isolate me. I was friendly with a few people, but Scott always got too worked up when I hung out with other people.”
“So tell me about this boy,” Brad said.
Brandy looked at Stiles, but she didn’t say anything as the waitress came over and took their food orders and dropped their drinks off.
“His name is Derek. I thought that I hated him. He was an asshole, but he wasn’t one of the ones that hurt people. He tried to stop Scott and me from doing stupid shit, only we were already in the thick of it before that. We had to ride it out.”
“You went missing off of the lacrosse field,” Sam said.
“I did. I was kidnapped by a guy who had a message for Scott. He didn’t get it, by the way. He hasn’t even called to ask me what the hell happened that night. I’ve kind of washed my hands of most of them. Derek, though, I was never in that much contact with him, and well, I’m sure that he’s going off of what Scott is saying. I am going to reach out to him and talk to him about what is going on. I’m waiting until school is over. I have to go next week and take some tests. I’m gonna test the waters after that.”
“Putting yourself out there, I’m proud of you,” Brandy said.
“Yeah, I’m a little scared. I’ve decided that Scott’s just not the kind of friend that I want anymore. He doesn’t listen to my opinion, and he…” Stiles trailed off and sighed. He grabbed his straw and pulled it out of the wrapper. He dropped it into his Dr. Pepper and then took a sip before playing with the wrapper. “He’s done something that I can’t forgive. I just can’t.”
“Do you want to tell us?”
“He made a decision that took away someone else’s body autonomy without their permission. I can’t…”
“Rape?” Brad asked.
“Something really close to it.” Stiles dropped the last piece of wrapper and looked at the shreds of it on the table. Brandy reached over and scooped it all up and laid it on top of a napkin before folding that to where nothing could escape. Stiles smiled at her. She was well used to this. He was used to these people, and even though he had been away a while, they still took him. They still liked him. “He was-” Stiles shook his head.
“Look, man, Scott was fun, and he was good to you after your mom died. We knew you had a lot of issues after your mom died. We never held that against you. This was something for your mom and you, the team. You had fun, but I knew that you hurt doing it.”
“It doesn’t anymore,” Stiles said as he looked at Brandy. He gave her a smile. “It felt good today. I have missed it. So you three are graduating.”
“Yeah, I got picked up for a scholarship in New York City,” Brad said.
“Me too.” Sam was grinning.
Stiles looked at Brandy. Stiles would be shocked if she went anywhere that Brad wasn’t. Stiles was glad that they had grown close enough to Sam, though over the years. Stiles had always been younger, but they had been kind to him.
“I got into Long Island University on a full-ride. Mom and dad are getting an apartment for the three of us. Well, we talked them into one that would allow Sam to go with us. We can’t lose our hockey buddy to the dorms. That will suck.”
“Maybe I can come and visit sometime. I have an aunt in New York City. So, I can come and visit at least a few times. I have two years left here in Beacon Hills. We could have some fun, and you guys can get me into college parties.”
“So, tell us everything that you’ve been doing,” Brad said.
Stiles logged into his laptop and smiled as he saw the Skype message waiting for him when he booted up that program. He stopped when he saw that his aunt had accepted his request. He had messaged her over Facebook and asked her to make friends with him on Skype so that they could talk. With Brandy, Brad, and Sam going to college in New York, it was something that Stiles kind of wanted to do even more now.
Rolling his shoulders, Stiles regretted the active day before with the hockey team. He felt like he had been tackled by an irate alpha when that alpha wasn’t anywhere around him. Thoughts of Derek had Stiles pausing before he hit the button so he could message Celeste. He hadn’t heard from Derek, but then he never had really before. He usually just showed up in Stiles’ bedroom demanding research and the like. They didn’t have a close enough relationship that Derek would just text him or call him for anything that wasn’t related to the pack. Hell, it was usually life and death before Derek got a hold of him.
It wasn’t like Stiles knew Derek well enough, but the bits he had seen when he went with Scott made Stiles like him. He was a hard-ass when it came to training, but then Stiles had seen his father doing just as bad, on a human equivalent, when he was training the Deputies. Yes, the ways were wrong to him, but Stiles had never seen other Werewolves train. He had never seen what Derek’s parents trained him like. He couldn’t make a judgment based on the fact that Scott didn’t like Derek.
Derek wasn’t trained to be the alpha, neither was Peter, but at least Derek wasn’t going crazy with power. Stiles knew mostly what Derek had told the betas; Erica had told him, and yeah, Derek might have been a little weird with how he got her, but then wasn’t Peter much different. He had been driven crazy by the alpha power to bite.
The icon for Celeste went from not there to there, and it pulled Stiles out of his thoughts of Derek. He smiled and clicked to send Celeste a message.
“Stiles!” Celeste cried out as soon as she saw him. She was smiling at him. It looked like she had a black eye.
“What happened?” Stiles asked as he leaned forward like it would help him see what was wrong with her.
“Oh, this? Training accident. I was giving a lesson in self-defense, and one of the girls startled and cracked me with her elbow. You’ve gotten so big.” Celeste was smiling at Stiles. Her eyes going over him. “You look good enough, but something is bothering you.”
“My life has kind of imploded. It’s being handled, but it’s still very tiring. I’m doing school from home. Dad has the school convinced that I am changing medications, and no one wants me in school during that.”
“He’s good at doing what he needs for those he loves.” Celeste smiled at Stiles, and for a few seconds, Stiles was seeing his mother. It made his heartache. “So, what else is going on?”
“I scored in a lacrosse game; I was the MVP. It felt good, but I’m not going to join the team next year. I went back to hockey.”
“Really? How did that go?”
“Really good. Brad and Brandy were not pissed at me. Sam has made friends with them. They are going to school at Long Island U this coming year.”
“That’s not too far by subway from where I live,” Celeste said.
“Yeah. I was hoping that maybe I could come for a few weekends to see this coming year? Stay with you and Kaïs?”
“Of course. We can work on getting a room set up for you in the private wing.”
“Wing?” Stiles knew that his aunt was doing well in her business, private security, but he didn’t realize that she was doing well enough to have a place big enough for wings. He really needed to see what kind of stuff they did in private security. He wondered if there were any actors or actresses that they could introduce him to. It would be great if there were. He would enjoy that.
“Yes, Stiles. Sometimes my staff will stay with us or someone that we are protecting, so we made sure to have enough room for that. Plus, there are days I don’t want to look at my husband, and we have enough room for that as well.”
Stiles laughed and turned when he saw Celeste’s look behind him.
“Hey, Pops!” Stiles said with a smile on his face.
“Celeste, Stiles. How are you doing?”
Stiles looked back to look at Celeste as his father came up behind him. He felt the hand on the chair’s back, and he felt happy that his father wasn’t upset with him anymore.
“Good. The business is going well at the moment, so we are all busy as hell. I’ve had to hire seven news guys, and Kaïs is having fun training them. I actually have two of your former deputies. Robbie ran into them near San Fran, and they were intrigued and wanted a job. They are in the next batch. Just getting them moved here to New York to start training. They will hopefully not be as green as the seven guys we got now.”
“Who?” Stiles asked.
“Sean Wilcox and Matthew Roberts. They had you down as a reference, but in the interview, I did with them over Skype, they both were truly kind about Stiles and how much he was there at the station right after Claudia died. That made me want to hire them right away.”
“There was always something about Wilcox.”
“Yes, he told me you used to try and follow him home and be a detective,” Celeste said. She was smiling as she said it, though, so the words didn’t have any sting at all.
“I miss him. They were my favorite deputies.” Stiles leaned back into his dad when he put his hand on his shoulder.
“I’m getting pizza for dinner, Stiles. I’m gonna pick it up from the place that doesn’t deliver. Everything?” Noah asked.
“Yeah, Daddio. That sounds great. Can I get the…” Stiles trailed off.
“I’m getting a six-pack, and you can have one.”
Stiles let Celeste and his father talk a little bit before his father went down to order their pizza. Stiles Was looking forward to the beer and the pizza that his father was going to get.
“He’s letting you drink?” Celeste asked.
“Hey, it’s Sunday, and one beer with pizza isn’t bad. But yes, I can have one beer a week and only with a heavy dinner. It’s his way of sneaking pizza more. Well, not sneaking, but he knows I’ll let him have it, and they have this awesome beer. They brew it themselves. He likes it too.”
“How is his drinking?” Celeste asked.
Stiles smiled at her. “Good. A few beers a week at max, and that’s it. We had a few cases that caused him to drink a little a few months ago, but now it’s fine. He’s doing a lot better.”
“Good. I know things were iffy for a little while. You’d tell me if they weren’t right?”
“Yeah.” Stiles wanted to tell her all about Werewolves and shit, but he didn’t want her to come here and try and take him from his father. It really wasn’t his secret to tell anyway.
“So, you take tests this coming week, right?”
“Yup. Then I’ll be a junior. I’ve actually raised my grade even higher by doing the home school stuff. A few teachers had remarked on it and were pleased. They are also glad that my medication change is working well for me so far.” Stiles laughed after saying it, and Celeste laughed as well. She turned her head, though, and Stiles figured that someone was talking to her. It was low enough that he didn’t hear a single thing.
“Well, Mischief, I gotta go. Work calls. Be good, yeah? Don’t give your father ulcers.”
“I won’t.” Stiles kept the part about anymore. He’d been good. He had told his father where he was going and what he was doing all the time now. Even though most of the time, he didn’t leave the house too much.
“Love you, too,” Stiles said. He waved as she reached up to shut down the chat.
Stiles leaned back in his chair and relaxed. He had had a little while before his dad was going to get home, so he thought that maybe making a small side salad for them to eat with the pizza would be good.
Content was the feeling that Stiles was feeling, and it took too long for him to figure out what the feeling was. He wasn’t sure when the last time he had felt it was. It had been a little while, and that kind of sucked.
The pizza was a hit, and the beer washed it down well. After a hard day of work, his father went to bed early, and Stiles played a little video game to wind down before he had to wake up and go to school in the morning. He wasn’t sure that he was ready for it. To know why no one had been around to talk to him and why Scott still wasn’t responding to his texts.
Stiles knew that he would have his answers in the morning, maybe the afternoon, but he had the feeling that he wasn’t going to get the answers that would make him happy. He smiled as he looked at his phone, though, seeing a new post from his aunt on Facebook. He liked it and commented before turning the screen off and plugging the phone in. He needed to get a good night’s sleep for tests.
Stiles parked in his old spot as he was one of the first to arrive at school like it used to be. He smiled as he waved at a few other kids who were early like him. They were looking at him like they saw a ghost. The seniors were already gone, and Stiles figured that a few from each of the grades were skipping unless they had to be there as well. He didn’t really care about them. Stiles didn’t even care about the ones that he used to care about.
“Where the hell have you been?” Harley asked as she walked up to him.
“Medication changed, and it really messed with me. The doctor thought it would be best for me to stay at home instead of driving the teachers nuts. I’m here to take my end-of-year exams. Have two of them today.”
“I asked Scott about you, and he didn’t know where you were. Sam had to tell me. He came to tell me after he talked to you.” Harley reached out and hugged Stiles before she linked her arm in his and dragged him in along with her. It felt good, almost like Stiles had never been gone, but he knew that soon, it wouldn’t feel like that anymore.
A few people waved, and Stiles wasn’t shocked when he saw Lydia come in with Allison in tow a while later. Harley was catching him up on all of the gossip that he had missed, which wasn’t much that he actually cared about. Stiles watched them as they walked. Allison glanced toward him and stopped dead in the hall when she saw him. Lydia stopped and looked back at her, then followed her gaze to where Stiles was.
“Couldn’t hack being at home?” Lydia asked. Her voice was dripping with disdain, and Stiles really didn’t care.
“Actually, I am here for my exams, and that’s it.”
Lydia looked at him with a sharp eye. Stiles wondered if she even cared what he and Scott had done to protect her from being killed. To stop Jackson from being killed. That affection that Stiles had for her was long gone. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to ever like someone like that again. He had been distracted by a smart mind, and he didn’t like it.
“Where’s Jackson?” Stiles asked.
Lydia made a huffing noise and flounced away, leaving Allison to stare at Stiles.
“That was a dick thing to do,” Allison said before following Lydia.
“What?” Stiles asked, and he looked at Harley.
“Jackson’s parents pulled him from school, and they left. I think I heard something about London, but I could be wrong. You know how the gossip works here. There are still those that talk about seeing Harris at that rave. I just hadn’t got to that bit since it’s newer than the rest of the stuff I’ve been telling you.”
Stiles laughed like he couldn’t believe it, but he had seen Harris there. He wasn’t going to say anything, though, about it. Harris was a dick, but he wasn’t that bad of a dick.
“Well, that time, I didn’t mean to be an asshole. I gotta check in at the office. I’ll find you at lunch unless I need to study, yeah? I gotta try and talk to Scott.”
“He’s not talked to me since you left school. He just hangs out with the lacrosse guys and Isaac now.”
“Yeah, I doubt he’ll hang with me either.” Stiles pulled away from Harley, and he headed for his locker. He had his backpack with him, and it was empty. He hadn’t been back to get anything out of it, and all of his books were at home anyway. He had brought them all home just before shit had gone down. He was glad that he had. Everything that he needed to take with him fit into his backpack, and he stuffed it full.
“Watch it, loser,” someone said before they bumped into Stiles, who was still standing flush with his locker. He actually heard his door slam into another locker before the guy was done.
“Mister Loren, that’s an after-school detention today,” Alberts said.
“Mister Alberts,” Stevie groaned.
“You know this school’s tolerance for bullying is being stepped up. He was at his locker, and even I could see a sliver of his locker door behind him. That means that you stepped over to run into him, and he’s not even been here in over a month. So yes, after-school detention with me. Keep it up, and it will be more than one day.”
“Thanks,” Stiles said when he looked at Alberts.
“You are welcome, Mister Stilinski. Your first test will be with me. Just head to the office, and I’ll take your backpack into my room. Come over when you can. I know there are some forms you need to fill out. I have the first two periods free. Well, free enough. The second will have a few kids as it’s a self-paced AP class. You can easily get your test done. Then I think it’s a break, and your second test is after lunch?”
“Yes. I was going to study a little in the library after I finished your exam.”
“That sounds good. I’ll make sure the librarian lets it happen.”
“Thank you again.” Stiles handed over his backpack and then waited for Alberts to get into his room before heading toward the office. The secretary, who was waiting for him, smiled and handed over the paperwork that he needed for each class today. It wasn’t going to be hard to get done what he needed to get done. He had all morning for the first test, and he didn’t think he would take even all the way through the second period to get it done. He signed what he needed to sign. His father had signed his stuff before work. He really didn’t envy the person who had to meet with him at that time. It was fucking early, but they were willing to do it, and Stiles was happy.
Stiles rolled his shoulders as he pushed away from the history book that he had been studying. It was the only book he had brought with him as it was his second exam. He was good. He had more than enough information needed to pass the test, but he worried about it as it was the only thing he could do.
“What are you doing here?” Isaac asked as he looked at Stiles.
Stiles hadn’t even realized that he had got close enough for Stiles to smell his cologne. It smelled like Derek’s. So that answered where Isaac had gone after his father’s death and him being cleared of it. Stiles was glad that Isaac had someone. Though Derek’s weird train depot area wasn’t the best place for Isaac to live, then the house he had lived in before was pretty good-looking, but the man he had lived with was horrible. A horrible place to live, but with a pretty good man now that he was more settled, was better.
“I’m here to take a few tests, Isaac. Why do you care?”
“Scott said you dropped out after running away the night of the game,” Isaac said.
“Ah, I see. Well, he would be wrong. I’ve been taking classes at home.”
“They let you do that because of the shame?” Isaac asked.
“No, they let me do that when I have a medical doctor that is seeing me about my change in medication,” Stiles said.
Isaac looked at him like he was trying to spot the lie. Derek might have been able to hear the lie, but the baby betas never would. Especially not Isaac.
“So, you are too good for classes with us?”
“Actually, no. I mean, you guys can’t handle me when I’m all normal for me, that is, and this is like extra. I mean, I spent half an hour talking to dad this morning about periods.”
“The punctuation?” Isaac asked.
“No, the bloody female time of the month. How the products used by them over the centuries hasn’t really changed all that much.” Stiles inhaled like he was going to start to talk more but stopped when Isaac turned to leave. Stiles waited until he was far enough away, and then he started to laugh.
Stiles figured that he was as ready as he would get, so he grabbed a few books from the mythology section that dealt with Fenrir and the Norse Gods. It was as good of a place as any. He stopped when he saw a book with the triskele like Derek had on his back on the spine. He grabbed it and added it to his pile. He walked over to his table and spread his books out. He saved the one for last. One of the new deputies, Parrish, was going to be bringing him lunch. It was the one thing that his father made Stiles do. If it wasn’t Parrish, in full uniform, it would be his dad, and Stiles would rather have the deputy do it.
“Miss Green?” Stiles asked when it got closer to lunch.
“Stiles, sweetie?” Miss Green said as she looked up.
“Is it okay if I go to your break room? One of the deputies is bringing me lunch.”
“Sure. You know that you can. Anytime that you want.” Miss Green gave Stiles a smile.
Stiles picked up his things and headed into the break room. He texted his father with instructions on getting where he was in the library to forward them to Parrish. Stiles still didn’t have the deputy’s number, and hopefully, today, that would be corrected. Then a few minutes later, just when Stiles was getting into the book with the triskele on it, he got a text from an unknown number that he assumed was Parrish.
Laughing, Stiles shoved his phone back from him on the table and then looked at the book. It was a history of the Hales in the area. He could tell by the forward that it was highly sanitized for normal people’s consumption. It spoke of how they were there for the city’s founding and helped its rise into the County’s seat. The book wasn’t all that old, probably published in Stiles’ lifetime, and it talked about how much the Hales owned in the city and why they owned so much of the Preserve. It was interesting. Stiles grabbed the book and tucked it close to him.
The door opened, and Stiles looked at Jordan Parrish as he walked into the room.
“She looked at me like I was doing to come in here and do unspeakable things to you.” Parrish was blushing a little. He looked like someone who had just stepped off the farm. Stiles could see him passing himself off as Clark Kent while flying around and saving Metropolis as Superman.
“Miss Green likes me. She feeds my research habits. You’ve not been around long enough to learn anything real concrete about me, but most people love me and like to protect me. Especially women who feel about me being motherless.” Stiles saw the flinch from Parrish, and he felt bad about it for a few seconds, but then it went away. Stiles loved his mother. He missed her, but he didn’t like how many women thought that he needed a mother. He was doing fine with the memory of his. Miss Green was better than most. Her maternal feelings for him went mainly to let him eat in her break room. “You are just a little on the young side and haven’t been here long enough for her to know that you are a boy scout.”
“Your father was very adamant that this was what you wanted, but I don’t know.” Parrish held out the bag that was from the nice little restaurant down the street from the Station.
“Yeah, they have the best good-for-you salads. Enough roughage that it sticks and doesn’t make you hungry a little while later. They make their dressings, so there isn’t a lot of sweetness to them. I love it. This is their biggest selling salad. Even dad loves it.” Stiles got into the bag and grabbed out the salad and the little box of the chicken chunks that were still a little warm. He lifted the salad’s lid and tossed the chicken before adding the dressing and mixing it all up. Parrish was looking at the salad like he was intrigued by it.
“That actually does look really good,” Parrish said.
“See!” Stiles said around a bite of the salad. “So, how are you liking Beacon Hills?”
“It’s better than being overseas in the Army.”
“Dad said, you just showed up and don’t have any family here.”
“Yeah, I was at home and saw the listing for the openings and then about the attack that had made the County need so many Deputies, so I just packed up and came. I don’t have a lot of family, and here is just as good as anywhere. When I met your father for the interview, I kind of felt like I was coming home.”
“Sorry for being an ass that day I met you. A few of the deputies we lost were really close to me.”
“Your father explained, and I get that. He said you practically grew up here after your mother’s death, so I can understand it was probably like losing older brothers and sisters to you. I never took it to heart because I could see the pain in your eyes. Look, you enjoy this. I’m going to head back out. If you need anything at any point, Stiles. Text. I won’t take any of their places, but maybe we could be friends?” Parrish asked as he held out his hand.
Stiles nodded his head and stuck his hand out. He shook Parrish’s hand, and there was something there. It felt like a lick of flame over his hand. Stiles wondered if his father knew that Parrish was something. He would have to tell him. Stiles could understand him keeping things quiet, and unless they outed that they knew about that facet of the world, Parrish would probably keep it to himself. Stiles would wait to tell his father. He would make friends with Parrish first and let him get used to them before doing something about it.
When the salad was gone, Stiles turned back to the book that he was looking at. He found the section that seemed to be talking about Derek’s grandparents, but he wasn’t sure. It only talked about a daughter, Talia. The way that she was talked about, Stiles was quite sure she was the heir apparent to be the alpha. Stiles wondered how that worked, given everything he knew. Was an alpha able to just give up the alpha spark without making their child kill them to take it? If Talia was Derek’s mother, then she was the alpha long before her parents should have been dead, given what Derek had said.
Stiles was finishing up the book when the bell rang to signal the end of classes before lunch. He grabbed his stuff and packed up, throwing his containers and other lunch stuff away. He carried out the stack of books he was done with and laid them on the cart to be filed again, and then went back to get his bag and the book on the Hales.
“Hey, Miss Green. Do you know if there are newer versions of this book?” Stiles asked as he slipped it onto the counter.
“Oh, yes. There was one published with a chapter on the fire. It wasn’t written by the same person who wrote this one, but the school didn’t think we needed a new version. I have a copy at my store. I can send it over to you.”
“That would be great.” Stiles pulled out his wallet and handed her some cash. She looked at it and handed some back. Stiles knew that she gave him a discount of some kind, but he didn’t really want to fight it. Her used bookstore was great, and she had enough people to staff it that she got to stay the school librarian. The bookstore had been in her family for a long time, and she got to do both jobs that she loved.
“The house or the station?”
“Will it be today?” Stiles asked.
“Station then. I’ll be heading there after I get out of my last test. I’ll probably be in here every day, so you can also just give it to me tomorrow.”
“Hush. I know you wanna read the book again and devour that last chapter. I’ll not be a book tease.”
Stiles laughed and nodded his head. “Wish me luck. I’m going to brave the halls and see if I can find Scott.”
“He’s not been in much for anything class-related. How is he doing with his schoolwork?”
“I have no clue,” Stiles answered.
Miss Green looked at him, and her face went soft. Stiles gave her a smile and then waved goodbye.
“Have a good day, Stiles,” Miss Green called out as Stiles got to the library door.
The hall was packed with teens rushing to their lockers or their cars to get off of campus for lunch. Stiles headed toward the lunchroom and paused as he saw Scott at a table with Isaac, Allison, and Lydia. He looked around for Boyd and Erica, but he didn’t see them. They all had the same lunch period, but they weren’t there. Stiles shrugged it off and headed toward where they were.
“Hey,” Stiles said as he got to the table. He looked at Lydia. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know that he had left. I never would have asked that if I did.”
“How could you not know?” Allison asked.
“Um, I’ve not been in school since your grandfather kidnapped and tortured me,” Stiles said.
“Stiles,” Scott said.
“What?” Stiles asked as he looked at Scott.
“Don’t bring up stuff that doesn’t matter.”
“It doesn’t matter? Me getting kidnapped off the field and beaten up and left as a message for you, that you never got, by the way, doesn’t matter? Oh yeah, that’s right; I don’t matter. I learned that over the last while. I mean, no one here has checked up on me. I’ve had no texts to see how I am doing. No one stopped by the house to find out why I wasn’t in school.”
“You ran like a scared little girl after running away from the football field,” Isaac said.
“Really? So, nothing I said to you penetrated the brain, Isaac?” Stiles asked. He looked around. “Where are Erica and Boyd? They were down there as well. They will tell you that I was beaten up.”
“Erica and Boyd are gone,” Scott said.
“Missing,” Isaac said.
“They went to Derek and told him they were running away, but then Erica called him and said she had changed her mind, but they still never came back,” Isaac said.
“So, has someone reported them missing?” Stiles asked.
“We have no clue,” Allison said.
Stiles looked at them. If they had been reported as runaways, his father would have known. Even if it was just to the Beacon Hills Police Department because they were underage and even if they were runaways, they would be treated as missing.
“No one thought to tell me? The guy who has a cop for a father?” Stiles hissed at them.
Scott was looking at Allison like she hung the moon, and it made Stiles a little sick to his stomach. He wondered if Scott even cared what Allison had done to all of them. How dark side she had gone.
“Well, this has been fun. Don’t call me; I’ll call you.”
Stiles turned around and looked for Harley. She was looking at him with a sad look on her face. She gave him a big smile, though, and waved for him to leave. Stiles did. He headed to where he knew his next test would be, and he slipped into the class. The teacher was on duty during lunch, so Stiles just set about doing a little more studying before taking the test.
There was little to do when the test was done. Stiles had pushed away all thoughts that weren’t passing that test. He needed to go into the Station and talk to his father. He wasn’t sure what had been told to the school that hadn’t had them report Erica and Boyd as truant, but he wasn’t sure if the school really actually cared.
“Stiles?” Noah asked when Stiles slipped into his office.
“Erica and Boyd, I said they got out and went to Derek.”
“I guess I was wrong. They got out, went to Derek, and then they ran away. Only Scott says that they called Derek and said they were on their way back to him, but they never showed up. Isaac thinks they are missing while Scott thinks they just ran away.”
“I see. I’ll go and check with Erica’s parents. I wonder if they know anything.”
“They are pretty…I’m sure they are happy that she doesn’t have her issues anymore and don’t have to watch her nearly as much. I know that Erica’s told me before that she’s a burden to them, but they can’t stand how people would look at them if they got rid of her, given her medical issues. Boyd’s parents were distant and had been since his sister disappeared. His parents were attached to his sister, and they blamed him for losing her.”
“I knew that part, the Boyd part. The parents call every six months for updates. She’s never been found. So, we have two teenagers missing who shouldn’t be. And you are sure they got out of the basement?”
“Yes. I know that they did. Gerard didn’t mind cutting omegas in half; no one would report them missing but having two teenagers cut in half that go to the school he is a Principal at? Yeah, that’s gonna cause a few issues.”
“I agree. Look, hang out here today. Bug Parrish and teach him all about life with Stiles in the Station. Make Tara do a coffee run and get you hopped up. Don’t leave.”
“I won’t, Daddio.” Stiles dropped his backpack down onto the couch in the office and then flopped down onto the other end. He had more studying to do for the next final since he had now had a full list of when he was taking all of them. He had two tests the next two days and then on Thursday one test. It would allow him to get the hell out of there quicker. With how tired he was mentally; he wasn’t going to see about taking four the next day and then one the day after.
“Stiles?” Parrish called out a short while later.
Stiles looked up, but Parrish wasn’t in his father’s office door. He pushed himself up off the couch and groaned as his body protested. He had been moving around a good bit while at home and teaching himself. He’d get up, go get a drink, and move to a new room for a new lesson. His body didn’t like how sedentary he was at the moment.
“Yeah?” Stiles asked as he looked at Parrish, who was standing by the door that separated the front and the back. He saw a guy standing there. Stiles didn’t know him.
“He says he has a book for you?”
“Oh, from Miss Green!” Stiles rushed up and took the book. “Thanks!”
With everything with Erica and Boyd, Stiles had forgotten about that. He grinned as he saw that it had been published just five years before. He stopped when he saw the author of the book, though. The one at the school had been worn down on the cover, and Stiles hadn’t paid any attention to the title page. Peter Hale. The guy who had been dead and was now not dead, but no one knew it, Peter Hale.
“Creeperwolf,” Stiles said low enough.
“Huh?” Stiles looked up at Parrish. The guy who brought the book was gone, and it was just him and Parrish standing there.
“Oh, ugh. Nothing. I read part of this book, but the pages were damaged. Miss Green said she had a used copy at her bookstore, and she had sent it over so I could finish it. When I get my studying done, I’ll read the last of it.”
“Your dad is going to be gone a little bit longer dealing with whatever goose chase you sent him on. He told me that you aren’t allowed to leave to get dinner. So, pizza?”
“Pizza sounds good. Ask for Stiles’ Hawaiian for me, please?”
“Anywhere!” a few deputies called out before laughing.
Parrish looked a little shocked.
“Yeah, I ordered it enough that most places know it. So yeah, and water for me. I need to lay off the pop for a while.”
“Sure.” Parrish looked at Stiles like he wasn’t sure that he was human, but Stiles just shrugged as the deputy walked off.
Stiles was tempted to follow him to bug him, but the book’s lure was too much. Especially since Peter was the author. The book had been good, and there was no other author listed, so it wasn’t like a thing where Peter wrote most of it, and then someone else turned it into something really readable in their own words and not Peter’s.
The smell of pizza drew Stiles out of his reading binge, and he looked up to see Tara standing in the room with a pizza box.
“You are a Goddess,” Stiles said as he held out his hands.
“And this isn’t for you. You need to come out and be social, or I am going to look for a pod that you escaped from and are holding the real Stiles hostage in.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles said as he made a blah, blah, blah motion with his hand. He put his bookmark into the spot in the book he was at and looked at the marker. It must have been from the book’s release as it had the old Hale House standing and the triskele at the top. He laid the book down and got up. He would have to go on a run the next morning, or his body was going to protest. He pulled his phone out of his shirt pocket and added half an hour to his alarm so that he got up earlier so he could.
The deputies who were not on patrol at the moment or dealing with paperwork from something were all sitting kind of in the middle of the bullpen area. Stiles found the cleanest desk close to where they were and settled down on top of it. He saw that it was Parrish’s. Which tracked given that he was the newbie. It wouldn’t take long for him to be like the others.
“So, your dad said that things are kind of weird with your friends,” Tara said.
Stiles looked at her and glared, but a pizza box was handed to him, and he opened it and grinned. Someone had taken a slice, but he didn’t care. He saw that Parrish was the one with the slice on his plate. It seemed that his father had started to actually tell the truth to the Deputies about why Stiles had been hanging so much instead of just him being on a new med and his father being worried.
“I guess the rumor is that I’m not going to school because I’m ashamed of being, you know, kidnapped off of the lacrosse field by a geriatric man who is now missing and beaten up. But you know they don’t believe that part and think that I’m just ashamed because I ran away from the field. So yeah, I guess that things are weird. I mean, the girl that my best friend is in love with is the granddaughter of the guy who kidnapped me. I mean, all I have left is dad, you know. I can’t do anything that would hurt dad. I’ve already done enough.”
“Stiles, sweetie, you did what you thought was right,” Tara said.
“I know, but dad nearly lost his job because of it.”
“Yeah, and then everyone found out about how Jackson was taking drugs and going after other kids. You tried to help him, and it failed.”
Stiles was shocked, but he looked at the other deputies. They all looked the same; there was pity on their faces. It wasn’t like the pity that had been on there before. This was different. It was a better pity if there was a way to have that. Stiles wasn’t sure that it was a good thing, but it was enough, at least for now. They weren’t looking at him like they thought he was a horrible kid, not like they had before. This was better. It was a lot better.
There weren’t many things that Stiles could call a win at the moment, so this was one.
Stiles looked around the school as he pulled in. It was his last time going here. He had plans, and those plans didn’t involve coming back. He had taken the placement test for going to Devenford Prep. He just needed to collect his transcripts. The lot was full of many cars, a little more than he was used to seeing for summer school.
The office was empty, so Stiles dropped down into the chair to wait for the secretary to come back from wherever she was. He had a book in his hand as he figured he would have to wait. Summers were never all that rushed, and his father had told him that he had to wait like twenty minutes the last time he came in to take care of some paperwork. The school really wasn’t that happy about losing him, but then there wasn’t much that they could do. He wasn’t happy to be leaving, but he couldn’t take the way that finals week had been. He had been glared at, ignored, and more than a few of the lacrosse team had been assholes to him even though he was the reason they had even won the championship this past year.
Stiles was two chapters into his book when the door opened, and he looked up to see Scott. Scott was looking at him like he saw a ghost.
“Hey,” Stiles said.
“What are you doing here?” Scott asked. He looked pissed off now.
“Waiting to get a few bits of paperwork. The secretary said she would have them done for pick up today, according to dad.” Stiles wasn’t going to ask what Scott was doing there. Stiles was fairly sure that he was not doing well in classes. He had not been doing well at them before Stiles had left the school to do it from home.
“She’s not here?” Scott looked around and then huffed before just leaving the office.
Stiles shrugged. He wondered how Scott couldn’t know that she wasn’t there. Though he was so unbelievably bad at being a Werewolf. He was more than happy using the perks that he cared about and forgetting the rest. He didn’t care about being a Werewolf when it got him on First Line, but he hated it otherwise. Stiles wondered if Scott would ever accept what he was. Stiles figured probably not. It wasn’t like it was that big of a deal if one actually worked at it. The Hales had hidden in Beacon Hills for years, so it wasn’t impossible. He shook his head to clear it before he went back to his book. He really needed to get a Kindle at some point. It would be better suited to his learning. Though there were books that he couldn’t get on it, at least his fiction habits would be supported without drowning himself in books.
“Stiles, honey, you should have yelled or something,” the secretary said as she entered the office. She smelled of recently applied perfume, and there was something else, and it took Stiles a few seconds to realize that it was the hot new Algebra teacher’s cologne. There was something else, and Stiles hadn’t smelled it except on people like Scott after he was with Allison or Danny after a hookup in the locker room with someone after a game.
“I have my book; I am fine. Not like I have much to do today, anyway.”
“I thought there was hockey today,” the secretary said.
“Yeah, in like three hours.” Stiles looked at his phone to confirm, and yeah, that was three hours from then. He smiled and dropped his phone down between his book’s pages and then settled it down in the chair beside him.
“So, how are you doing? Your medications figured out?”
“Yeah, we have a good handle on them. Took less time this time than the last time, but it’s all good now.”
“I made you two copies of them. Just to be safe, you know.” the secretary handed over two envelopes with a smile on her face. “We have a record number of kids in summer school this year, so please be careful. A few are a very rowdy bunch. Coach Finstock isn’t happy as it’s about half of the team, which means that a few can’t join the cross-country team when the year starts in the fall.”
“Dang,” Stiles said. He caught himself from saying the other word, which earned him a smile from the secretary. “That’s gotta suck.”
“I told him about you, and he’s a little pissed off at you.”
“I need to be challenged a little more, and Devenford Prep seems like a good fit.”
“I’ve heard the test can be hard.”
Stiles laughed a little at that and shook his head. “Well, it might be for some, but I passed it with nearly perfect scores. I’m sure that some do have issues with passing it. I didn’t.”
“I’m glad. You better go. It’s about time to swap off between classes. Wouldn’t want you to get caught in the crush.”
“Thanks. Have a good day, and I hope you get to throw a few into detention. I know you love that.”
The secretary laughed and waved him out.
Stiles grabbed his things and noted the page number he was on before shoving the book into his pocket and holding his phone tight in his hand. He was halfway down the hall when the kids started to flood out of the classes. He stopped when he found Scott and Isaac heading right for him. There were no teachers in the halls, so Stiles tried to make it out the doors before they got to him.
“You are leaving?” Isaac asked.
“Uh, yeah. Got the papers I needed.”
“No, leaving Beacon Hills High,” Isaac pointed out.
“Oh, that. Yeah, I am. Got a good scholarship to Devenford Prep.” Stiles didn’t need to tell them that he got it Freshman year but hadn’t wanted to leave Scott behind since he was his only friend. Stiles had to wonder, though, what would have happened if he hadn’t stayed.
“Not even going to tell your best friend?” Scott asked.
“Well, considering my best friend never checked up on me after I was beaten to shit by an adult, no, not really. I mean, you’ve not called me, texted me, or done a damned thing that shows that you give a fuck. I have thirty-eight text messages that have been sent to you with no reply.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be pissed at Allison for what her family did.”
“I’m not. I’m pissed at her for what she did to Isaac, Erica, and Boyd. I would have thought you would too.”
“She was just messed up for what Derek did to her mother.”
“Yeah, what he did. While saving your life. He was in danger there too. That shit would have hurt more than just you. He risked his life, and you can’t even tell Allison the truth of what happened so that she knows the kind of monster her family is.”
“What…” Isaac trailed off and looked between Stiles and Scott. “What happened?”
“Yeah, the night we were at the Rave, Victoria went after Scott. I had to break the Mountain Ash line so that Derek could save him. Victoria was using a vapor version of wolfsbane to kill Scott. In the fight that followed, Derek bit her trying to subdue her. That’s why she is dead. Derek saved Scott’s life, and Scott can’t even be happy about it.”
Isaac looked at Scott, and his face was strange. Like he wasn’t sure that he believed Stiles but also that he could see it.
“She was upset at the death of her mother. What Derek did.”
“Yeah, and by that logic, I could walk into Allison’s house and hurt her for what her grandfather did to me.”
“No,” Scott said.
“Why, because it’s Allison? Pretty and perfect Allison, who is to be forgiven for her mistakes as long as no one dies? Where do you think Erica and Boyd are? Do you think that they ran because of Derek? No, they ran because of hunters, who won’t leave them alone. Argents who kill based on nothing more than racism.”
“That’s not what it is,” Scott said.
Isaac took a few steps back before he looked at Stiles. “I think I’m going to go back to class, and then I am going to talk to Derek.”
Stiles watched Isaac head toward class as the rest of the students were filing back into other classes as well. Stiles looked at Scott. “Shouldn’t you be headed in there as well?”
“You think you are so smart. Turning everyone against me.”
“Dude, I told the truth. If the truth turns people against you, that’s not my issue. Maybe you should think about what that says about you.”
“I was trying to save Jackson and Lydia.”
“Yeah, and Derek was trying to save everyone else. I get it, Dude, I do. You and Derek were both bullheaded. I wish I would have forced you both to sit down and talk this out. He knew more than you did about something. Saving lives is a good thing, Scott, never stop wanting to do that, but there is a point where the death toll makes saving a life a little lopsided.”
“You will never understand.” Scott shoved Stiles into the door behind him, and his head cracked off of the metal pole between the doors. The world swam a little, and he groaned. He tried to walk, but the world moved a little more.
“Fuck,” Stiles said. He slipped down and found his phone. He pressed and held one for speed dial.
“Beacon County Sheriff’s department,” Parrish said.
“I have a concussion.”
“You need to call 9-1-1; this is the non-emergency line.”
“Parrish, it’s Stiles,” Stiles said.
“Shit, okay. Where are you?”
“School. There are cameras in the hallway, and it’s Scott who shoved me. I want my dad.”
“He’s on his way along with Tara. Tara will take care of the footage and talk to other people. Your dad will take you to the hospital. Then Tara will drive the Jeep back here.”
“I got my transcripts, so that’s good. I was going to enjoy playing hockey this afternoon. Shit, someone needs to call the coach.”
“I’ll do it after I get off of the line with you,” Parrish promised.
“Okay.” Stiles closed his eyes as the world swam a little. He was fucking pissed that Scott had lost control in a not that heated moment. Stiles needed to talk to Derek about that. Someone needed to teach control to the fucking asshole as Stiles was done with it.
Stiles settled down into the SUV’s front seat and looked at his father as he came around the front. His face was set in a frown, and Stiles figured that he wasn’t happy because of whatever was going on with the thing with Scott. Stiles watched his father stop head in front of him and answer his phone. He nodded his head as he was talking and got a smile on his face. He hurried about the SUV as he hung up and jerked open the door.
“Dad?” Stiles asked.
“We’ve got a lead on a case, so I’m going to take you to the station. You can stay in my office while I head out to follow up on the lead.”
“Cool. I’ve got stuff I can read. The doctor said as long as my headache doesn’t get worse, I can read a book. I can turn off the overhead lights and just have the one lamp on.”
“Yeah, that sounds good. It’s just after lunch, so I’ll have someone call you in food to be delivered. Did you want to stop and grab drinks anywhere?”
“Nah, Tara has tea in the fridge, and I can always make more if needed. Tea will be fine for me.”
Stiles stayed silent as they made their way through the streets. He knew that he would have to give his statement when he got there. He hoped it was Parrish who would be taking it. Stiles’ father would easily allow him to talk to him without an adult present.
The parking lot where the cruisers were parked was full, probably getting ready to head out and do whatever they needed as far as that one lead went. Stiles waited for his father to come around and help him out. He was dizzy and moving from sitting to standing was horrible. Stiles snagged his book and phone and clutched them to his chest as he slipped down out of the SUV seat. He wobbled all little, but his father’s arm on his shoulder helped to right him. He took a few steps as his body got used to moving. He smiled when he saw Parrish at the door.
“Miss Green heard about the concussion and sent over some books since you can’t do anything on the computer at the moment.”
“I knew she loved me,” Stiles said.
Parrish walked in front of him and his father behind, so Stiles didn’t get to see much of what was going on in the station. He couldn’t move his head quick enough to take it all in. He wasn’t that worried about it all. His father was good at his job, and the other deputies would protect him. Stiles remembered Deputy Wilcox saying that if they lost him on the job, they were shit at their job. Stiles missed Wilcox and his partner Roberts.
Stiles let his father settle him down on the couch and get him a bottle of water. He drank some of it and found that his stomach didn’t rebel at it. He was glad. He had been given injection pain relief due to extreme nausea and something to help with nausea. He had two scripts that his father needed to fill, so hopefully, he would drop them off and then pick them up at some point while working.
“I’m good, Dad,” Stiles said as he started to lay down.
“Parrish is staying here to work the station, and he’s going to take your statement when you are feeling up to it.”
“Now would be good.”
“And then food will be ordered when you are ready. I know your stomach’s still a little off, so maybe after the pharmacy drops off your stuff. I called them in and am going to drop off the scripts. Mable is getting them ready and won’t deliver them until they see the scripts.”
“Cool.” Stiles closed his eyes as looking up at his father wasn’t good. He felt a brush of lips on his forehead and smiled. Despite everything, they were closer now than they had been in years. Stiles hated what brought it about, but he wasn’t that upset about the turn of events.
Giving his statement didn’t take long, and then Stiles was left with little to do. He rolled to his side, got comfortable in a good way, and opened up his book again. The font in the book was larger than he normally liked, but given what was going on with him at the moment, he was glad of it.
“Hey, Parrish!” Stiles yelled.
It took only a minute, and then Parrish was slipping into the room.
“I’m gonna be reading, but I might fall asleep, feeling pretty tired right now. So, check on me every hour, yeah?”
“Sure thing. Let me know when you want food, and I’ll order it.”
Stiles got comfortable again as the deputy left the room. He started to read and wasn’t sure when he nodded off.
The howl of a Werewolf pulled Stiles out of his sleep. He looked at the door to see that it was open, and he could see Boyd fighting against the hold of three deputies. He was wolfed out. Stiles jumped up and regretted it as he felt like he was going to throw up. He moved slowly toward the door to see that Boyd was being shoved into the cells’ area.
Three minutes later, one of the deputies yelled that it was clear. Then the door opened up, and another set of deputies came in, carrying a girl that Stiles didn’t know. She was screaming and snarling and was just like Boyd and wolfed out.
She was carried into the cell area, and a clear called out, and another three deputies came in with Erica. She looked a little less feral but still fucking scary.
Stiles looked around and saw that Parrish was looking at everything like he would run for the hills.
Finally, a few moments later, Noah slipped into the station with Tara on his heels.
“Everyone, in the bullpen!” Noah yelled.
All of the deputies who had carried in the three feral wolves were standing in a semicircle around his father, so Stiles started to slip toward the holding cells.
“Stop right there, Stiles,” Noah said.
Stiles looked up and over to see his father looking at him. He pointed to the spot beside him.
“Dad, I wanna check on Erica and Boyd,” Stiles said.
“And you can after you help me explain Werewolves to my staff that is not in the know.”
Stiles sighed and traipsed off to stand beside his father. He could tell the ones that his father had let into everything as they were looking at the rest who were freaking the fuck out. Stiles had been around cops long enough to know when they were holding it together but freaking out.
“So Werewolves exist, and for the most part, they are good people.”
“Those people are feral.”
“It’s the full moon,” Stiles said. He had kind of forgotten about it. He wondered why they were like they were, though. It wasn’t impossible, but there was something else going on. He would research it when he was allowed to do so. He grabbed a notepad from the desk closest to him and a pen and started to write it down. He could figure out where they were and how things were before he got an answer.
The whole debrief took over an hour, and Stiles was not that tired, so he went with Parrish into the holding cells. Boyd was sitting on the floor in a corner, but he looked just a feral as he had before. Erica was settled onto the bench, looking like she was ready to leap at him. The other girl was in the middle cell, and she was looking at Stiles with a strange look on her face.
“Who should I call?” Noah asked from behind.
“Their alpha for now. Not their parents. Not until they are calmed down. How are the guys taking it?” Stiles asked.
“Well enough. I wasn’t expecting them to be feral like that when we finally found them.”
Stiles looked at the clock on the wall to see that he had slept for a lot longer than he thought. It was just before midnight. His father had been gone for a long time.
“So, the tip didn’t pan out?” Stiles asked.
“No, not the first one, but it got me thinking on a few other things, and then we found that the bank that was shut down a while back was being used for something. I wasn’t sure if it was drugs or what, but since it was an open case on our end that had been shuttled up to us, BHPD didn’t mind letting us handle it.”
“Anyone get hurt?” Stiles asked.
“A few scrapes, and the worst was a dislocated shoulder. They are at the ER. Boyd got a hold of him through the bars inside the bank vault they were being held in.”
“I want the building stuff for that area to see if I can figure out what is going on with them. They are pretty out of it. But she’s not nearly as bad off.” Stiles stepped closer to the cell with the girl in it. Her face was slowly receding into a normal human face.
“Stiles,” Noah warned.
Stiles didn’t get as close as his father thought he was, but it was close enough for the female Werewolf to lunge at him. He didn’t even step back, or anything but her clawed arm tried to snag him, but it just barely brushed the edge of his shirt with the tips of her claws. Her face hasn’t changed. She looked fully human and had claws; her eyes flashed yellow.
“She’s a born wolf. I’ve seen Derek do that kind of shit before.”
The girl’s head tilted to the side at the word Derek. Her eyebrows wrinkled, and Stiles knew that look. He had seen it on Derek’s face enough.
“Get the alpha here, now!” Stiles said. He didn’t want to say Derek’s name again.
Stiles had done research into the Hale family and had the names of everyone who had died in the fire. There were issues with that and the burning of the bodies in the basement as it seemed like there should have been more bodies and such.
“Cora?” Stiles asked.
The girl looked at him like she was a little afraid of him, but she slipped away from the bars.
“Dad, grab that baggie of stuff I gave you,” Stiles said.
“Sure. Parrish is going to stay in here with you, and he’s got orders to pull you back if you start to do something stupid.”
“Sure thing, Pops,” Stiles said. He wasn’t going to get closer. If this was Cora, she was a born wolf-like Stiles thought and also fucking deadly.
The bag was dropped onto Stiles’ shoulder, and he easily spread a line of Mountain Ash powder in front of the cells. It would keep them contained as Stiles wasn’t going to let anyone by him.
Ten minutes later, Stiles heard the doors to the station slam open, and there was a lot of yelling. Stiles turned to look at the doorway to see that it was Derek, and he had eyes only for Cora. Behind him was Peter, and he was looking at Cora like he was gutted as well. Stiles stepped out of the way and let them get a good look at her. Boyd and Erica were watching the pair of them closely.
“Where did you find them?” Peter asked.
“In a bank vault. As soon as my men broke the barrier, they went crazy, but we were ready for them,” Noah said.
“Cora?” Derek asked as he stepped closer.
“You can’t get too close. I’ve got a barrier set up to make sure they can’t get out unless they go through the wall,” Stiles said.
“What happened?” Peter asked.
“I don’t know. Dad’s looking up what the walls in the place were made of, especially the vault.”
“Hecatolite,” Noah said.
“It’s called moonstone,” Stiles said.
“And it stops Werewolves from feeling the moon. How long were they held there?” Peter asked.
“Um, at least a month, so one full moon?” Stiles said. He wasn’t fully sure, but it was that for Erica and Boyd. He was unsure about how long Cora was held there. “At least for Boyd and Erica.”
“They are going to be like this until the moon sets,” Peter said.
“How many saw them?” Derek asked.
“About half of my force. We gave a speech, but if you wouldn’t mind answering questions,” Noah said.
“Peter?” Derek asked.
“Yeah, I’ll talk to them. Are they all still here?”
“Writing reports. Trying to write it up on them being in isolation and torture has turned them into this. Which, I mean, it’s happened to many others.”
“I’ll gladly talk to them,” Peter said.
Stiles glanced at Peter and saw that he looked…calm and collected, but his eyes were full of feelings.
“Parrish, Dad, can we have the room. I’ll stay in case they need something, but…” Stiles pointed at where the two Hales was barely holding on, it seemed. Stiles could understand them not wanting to be open in front of two strangers, but Stiles didn’t want them to be in there alone.
“Derek?” Cora asked.
“Yeah, we will go. Don’t break that line unless you are just letting those two through,” Noah ordered.
“Sure thing, Daddio.” Stiles nodded his head, and Noah left the room.
“Derek, calm down,” Peter said as he stepped up to Derek and laid a hand on his shoulder.
“Peter, she’s alive,” Derek said.
“I know. I know.” Peter wrapped an arm around Derek and pulled him close.
Stiles slipped back and settled on the area where prisoners were chained to the wall when there wasn’t a free cell or not long to be here. This was a side of the two Hales that Stiles hadn’t seen before. Peter wasn’t creepy, and Derek was showing honest to God’s emotions other than anger.
“Do you want to cross? I’ll be closing it again and won’t let you out unless you are both under full control,” Stiles said.
The two Hales looked at Stiles like they forgot that he was even there.
“Yes,” Peter said.
Stiles walked over and broke the line and waited for the two wolves to cross before picking up a little and thought about the line being closed again. The powder fell, and then they were trapped. Stiles knew that it was a lot of trust for them to be on the other side of the line.
“We know that you had nothing to do with Scott’s stupid plan,” Peter said.
Stiles snorted. It was like Peter had read his mind.
“Argent is alive, by the way, Derek was able to break the bonds a few days later, but he felt that he stayed alive. Christopher probably ushered him away somewhere safe.”
“Thanks. I’ll tell dad.”
“Yes, I saw where there was an arrest warrant for him based on kidnapping an underage boy and assaulting him. It didn’t…” Peter trailed off. He looked at Derek and then at Stiles again.
“It was just fists and kicking. There was no under-the-clothes action,” Stiles said.
“Oh, good. I would hate to have to hunt him down myself with everything else going on.”
Stiles nodded his head. He didn’t understand Peter. He knew that there was something there with Peter, but he still didn’t know why the man liked him as much as he did. It didn’t feel like it was something he needed to fear, though. Peter wouldn’t harm him.
“You smell of pain.”
“Concussion. Baby wolves and not able to control their strength.”
“Isaac?” Derek asked as he looked at Stiles.
“No, Scott. Dad’s already got the paperwork to have him facing what he did. It was caught on a school camera.”
“Isaac said you dropped out of school.”
“Nope, did it all online. Dad didn’t want me going, so we made up a big thing about me changing my ADHD medication, and no one wanted to be around me during it. I’ll be going to Devenford Prep this next year, though. Distance and all of that jazz.” Stiles held up his hands and made jazz hands. Peter smiled at the show, but Derek looked back at Cora.
Stiles tried to give them as much distance as he could as the two Hales waited for the third to come down from what was going on. Stiles watched Boyd and Erica as they moved to get close to their alpha.
It would be a long night, but Stiles was glad that Erica and Boyd were found. They could deal with who took them later. The Sheriff’s Department would be making sure that all evidence could be found to link to who did it.
Stiles grabbed his cup of Dr. Pepper and took a drink. He didn’t know what he was doing there. He wasn’t sure if he was doing the best thing here, but he couldn’t wait any longer to find out what was going on with the pack. It had been five days since Erica and Boyd had been rescued. Cora Hale too. Stiles was still shocked about that one. His father was looking into how she was marked as dead without a body. It was a mystery, and Stiles didn’t like it. It meant more than just the guy who was supposed to be looking into the fire for arson had been paid off.
A knock on the window of the Jeep had Stiles looking up. He saw Peter standing there with a bag of food in his hand. Stiles opened up the door and set his Dr. Pepper down.
“You heading up?” Peter asked.
“Uh, I was thinking about it.”
Peter laughed. “Well, I have dinner for him. Your father wants to talk. Do you like Sweet and Sour shrimp?”
“Sure,” Stiles said.
“Good. You can eat my dinner while talking to Derek. Cora’s out for a run on the city streets. She’s not doing well being trapped. She stormed off, and I called your father to have someone check on her. That’s how I know he wants to talk.”
“Why are you helping?” Stiles asked.
“Well, it’s been a long time since the pack has had someone in law enforcement helping us. It’s best to keep things good for that sake. I don’t mind helping when it helps the pack or me. This does nothing but help. He’s not running scared, and his deputies are all taking it rather well. In fact, it’s kind of nice to not have to hide away from everyone. We haven’t found the alphas, though.”
“Alphas. As in more than one?” Stiles asked.
“Has Scott not told you?”
“Other than Scott giving me a concussion, I’ve not talked to him since before school let out. Finals week, I was taking them in the school, and he confronted me. I said a few things about Allison that he didn’t like. It was quite interesting to see him react that way. There is nothing that she can do wrong in his eyes.”
“It’s the way of anchors sometimes when a wolf fixates for the wrong reason. He focuses on her to stop himself from being bad when he should want to be good for her. He’s fixated that she is the good thing in his life and that nothing she can do could be wrong.”
“So he is drinking her Kool-Aid,” Stiles said.
“Yes, though I would not have said it like that. It’s a good enough comparison. Derek’s anchor after the passing of our family has been anger. You see how that has worked out for him.”
“What’s your anchor?” Stiles asked. He turned toward Peter, finally snagging the bag of food and settling it into his lap. Peter settled into what passed for parade rest for Werewolves.
“Well, you saw what happened when it was revenge. Right now, it’s the love I have for Derek and for Cora. The love I didn’t feel for Laura.”
“I read that book you left me. It took me a few days to figure out that you left it. The pack is everything; a wolf can lose all of its family and still have a pack and be fine. Your family was your pack, and you lost all of it.”
“I’m glad the book is doing some good. I saw you were reading my book. I plan on fixing that end chapter. Then adding another. A good closing to the legacy of the family. It’s gonna be hard.”
“I bet. Dad’s working on getting your full recovery figured out. You left the area after waking up and wandering out. You went for safety and assumed that everyone had been told of you waking up. It’s a surprisingly good tale. He would be good at writing books.”
Peter laughed and nodded his head. He looked toward the building.
“I’m sure you can figure out where he lives. Follow the abject misery. He was pacing like a caged lion because of Cora, so expect that as well.”
“I will. Thanks. I’m sure between Derek and me, we will finish off this food.” Stiles raised it up.
“If you look in the fridge, you’ll find Dr. Pepper hidden behind the cabbage in the bottom crisper.”
“I don’t know which I am shocked about more, the cabbage or that Derek put it in the crisper.”
“I put it there after Derek bought it. Fried cabbage is good. You’ll have to come over sometime when we make it.” Peter nodded at Stiles and then headed for his car. It was a sleek thing that was very much something that Stiles could see him driving. It was a very, very pretty car as well, much like Peter.
Stiles looked up and swore he could see Derek looking down at him from his loft window. Stiles snagged his Dr. Pepper and finished it off before he got out of the Jeep. He headed up, and it kind of felt like he was marching to his doom.
“I feel like I’m going to Mordor,” Stiles said as he landed on Derek’s floor. The door to the loft was already open, and Derek was standing there. Looking at Stiles as if even being in the same building as Stiles was pissing him off. “I brought your dinner. Peter left it with me while he went to help dad with something.”
“Thanks.” Derek reached out for the food. He got a whiff of something and wrinkled his nose. “Peter got shrimp. I hate shrimp.”
“Yeah, I think he got that for him. He said I could eat it.”
“Good, then it won’t stink up the loft any more than it needs to. Let’s go.”
Stiles nodded his head and followed Derek into the loft. Stiles set the food down on the weird table that had two very used chairs sitting around it. Derek grabbed a milk crate and set it down beside where Stiles was standing. Stiles guessed that meant it was for him. He sat down on it and found that he wasn’t too low. Derek grabbed the bag of food and started to divide it up. He kept all of the egg rolls, and Stiles was a little upset about that but not horribly so.
“What do you want to talk about?” Derek asked.
“I just wanted to check in on you. You’ve had a lot happen over this past week. Erica and Boyd were found. Your sister is alive, Dude. I mean. That’s like huge. Peter said she was out, and the deputies are checking in on her running path.”
“Scott sent you to check in on me?” Derek asked.
“Dude, Scott’s not told me shit.”
“I didn’t know about the alphas until Peter just made an offhand comment. So what’s up with them?”
“They are supposed to be a group that watches over the packs and kind of rules them. They are supposed to check in on new alphas, which is what I’ve heard from other packs, but they don’t. They want something from me, and I haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t like it, but I can’t do anything until they make a move. That Erica and Boyd were not rescued by me means that they are going to do something else.”
“That sucks. Well, they had to go away from the bank so setting up somewhere else means time. Though they have a human working with them, right?”
“Yes, probably their emissary.”
“So someone like Deaton?” Stiles asked.
Derek looked up at him.
“Yeah, I kind of figured that out with the way he knew a lot of stuff and a few things I’ve overheard him say to Scott when they thought I wasn’t listening. You would be shocked at the stuff Scott says that he thinks I can’t hear just because I am focused on something else.”
Derek actually laughed at that, and Stiles grinned at him before he ducked down to look at what he was trying to eat.
It was silence as they both ate. Derek inhaled the food like he hadn’t eaten in days, but given how sweaty he was, Stiles figured that he was working out to deal with his emotions. It wasn’t the best way, but at least he wasn’t taking them out on people. He knew that Derek wasn’t the best at teaching his betas, but Stiles wasn’t sure what kind of teaching Laura had given him over the last six years, and he wasn’t sure that he wanted to ask. Bringing up Laura was a good way to make Derek pissed off.
“So, what are your plans this summer?”
“Get the betas trained better at fighting. Peter’s good at it, and he’ll help me. It’ll be good since fighting with me means they don’t heal as fast. They can train with him, and they all heal quicker.”
“Really?” Stiles leaned in, and Derek got a weird look on his face, so Stiles leaned back. He got up and walked to the fridge. “Want a drink?”
“Dr. Pepper,” Derek said.
Stiles grinned and snagged two cans of Dr. Pepper from the fridge and hip-checked it to close it. The fridge actually looked like it had food inside of it that was more than fast food leftovers. Stiles set Derek’s drink down in front of him and popped the top on his. He took a drink, looking at Derek out of the side of his eye. It was kind of nice to be sitting here with Derek like this. He hadn’t been around anyone he liked before like this.
“Did you want something else?” Derek asked.
Stiles looked up at Derek to see that he was looking at Stiles like he knew what would come out of his mouth. It gave Stiles a few performance issues. Derek was so different than anyone else, and over the last month, it felt like they were growing closer. After the pool and the conversation that happened outside of it after the Kanima had left.
“Yeah, do you wanna go to a-”
“Dude, you didn’t even let me finish what I was saying.”
“No.” Derek eyed Stiles like he was going to rip his throat out with his teeth if Stiles kept talking.
“Hey,” Stiles said. He turned to face Derek fully and glared at him. Derek just stood up and stood with his arms crossed as he looked down at him.
Stiles got up and stepped up closer to him. He didn’t touch. Derek had enough boundary issues at the moment between the shit that Kate had done to him and then the bite rape.
“I’m seventeen, I know that, but Dude, it’s nothing like-”
“I said no, Stiles, what the fuck don’t you get about that?” Derek asked.
Stiles looked at Derek and the hatred that was there on his face.
“I just want one date,” Stiles said. He felt like a child who had done something wrong.
“Well, that’s not going to happen. I’ll never date you.” Derek took a step toward Stiles and made him back up with the whole, not touching him. “I’ll never think of you like anything remotely close to what you think of me as.”
Stiles nearly tripped as he ran into something. He turned back to see what it was, but then he realized that Derek was still advancing on him.
“I am around you only because I have to be because of Scott and now your father.” Derek ran into Stiles and knocked him down onto the ground since he wasn’t steady on his feet. Derek loomed over top of him. “If I never had to see you again, I would be happier. Hell, I would probably throw a party.”
Stiles wasn’t sure what to say to that. He looked at Derek, who at least had stopped advancing on him, and he felt like kicking him in the balls. It wouldn’t help him get away, but he just looked at Derek with a glare in his eye, and he scooted back before standing up. He wasn’t going to cry; he wasn’t going to give Derek that satisfaction. He turned on his heel and rushed out of the loft. He had trouble getting the door open, but he did, and then he was gone. Stiles didn’t stop until he was down and inside of his Jeep. He could feel the tears in his eyes. He reached into his pocket to get his keys, but they weren’t there. He sighed and leaned his head on the steering wheel. He wasn’t going back up for his keys. He wasn’t going to be that kind of person as he would break down and cry. Stiles reached down and started to hotwire the Jeep. He had lost his keys for about a week once and learned how to hotwire the Jeep so he could get to and from school. He would maybe see about his father asking Peter to get the keys for him. If Derek didn’t throw them away.
Stiles hoped that Peter wasn’t there when he pulled onto the block two hours later. He was pissed off, though, when the car was still there. It was at least parked on the street so Stiles could park in his usual spot in the garage. He normally didn’t park inside of there, but tonight he was so that no one would see him hot wire his Jeep again.
The garage door leading inside was unlocked, so it was good as Stiles didn’t need to knock to be let in. He saw Peter and his father sitting at the table in the dining room. Peter looked up at him in shock as soon as he got close to them as he tried to move toward the stairs to go upstairs.
“Stiles?” Noah called out.
Stiles kept on going, but after two more steps, Peter pulled him down the stairs. Stiles didn’t fight it. He knew it was Peter because of the hold that he had on Stiles’ wrist. His father would never have grabbed him like that. He saw the look on Peter’s face as he looked at Stiles.
“Stiles, son, what happened?” Noah asked as he moved over to him. He reached out and pulled Stiles away from Peter.
“My keys are somewhere in Derek’s loft. Can you drop them off at the station for me?” Stiles asked as he caught Peter’s eyes. He knew that he was crying. He didn’t care if Peter saw him crying. He had no fucks to give on that anymore. He wasn’t Derek. There was a part of Peter that was cruel but not on something like this. Stiles just knew it.
“I will, but how did you drive your Jeep home?”
“Stiles learned how to hotwire it when he lost his keys right after he got his license. He lost his keys for a week, and it was only after he found them again that he stopped hot wiring it. It’s why he parked in the garage so that the neighbors didn’t see him.”
“You smell like misery.”
“I don’t want to get into it, Peter. Please. I just want to go up to my room and maybe forget that the last day happened.”
“What do you need?” Noah asked.
“Well, I ate dinner already, and I’m pretty well tired, and I just want to sleep, Dad.”
Noah nodded his head, and he looked at Peter before allowing Stiles to head up to his bedroom.
Stiles grabbed a pair of sleep pants before he headed back out to the bathroom across the hall. He stripped naked and turned on the water. He got under it long before it was warm, but he didn’t care. He just wanted the water on his body. He was cold inside. He wasn’t sure that he could get Derek’s words out of his head.
Lydia had spent years ignoring him, and he had looked at her from afar. He had spent so much time wanting her that he never thought about what it would be like to be rejected. Derek hadn’t just rejected him, though. Derek had been cruel when he had no reason to be. Stiles hadn’t even been his normal exuberant self. He hadn’t needed to be talked over. He had just been trying to explain that he just wanted to slowly date. Derek needed time, and Stiles knew that he had issues, many of them, but he hadn’t thought that he would ever be that mean to anyone.
Stiles thought it was a gross overreaction if Derek hadn’t wanted to go on a date with him; he could have just said that he wasn’t interested after Stiles had been able to tell him what he wanted. Stiles had only wanted to clarify that he wasn’t looking for sex. Yeah, sex would be good, down the road when he was of age and when Derek was ready. After Kate, Stiles wasn’t sure that Derek would want sex quickly at all, no matter who he was with.
Stiles actually set about washing himself up and getting the agony off of him when all of his tears were gone. He dried off and looked at himself in the mirror. His eyes were still red. He didn’t care too much, though. It wasn’t like anyone was going to try and jump his bones anyway.
Stiles stopped when he saw Peter sitting at his desk with a book open. There was a new pile of books.
“I am sorry,” Peter said.
“For what?” Stiles asked.
“I didn’t think he would be this cruel to someone that he was friendly with.”
“He’s not friendly with me. He hates me. He is only nice to me because of Scott and now dad. He said that he wouldn’t ever want to see me if it wasn’t for them.”
Peter made a clucking noise, but Stiles didn’t care. He turned away from Peter to find that his bed had been made, and there was a thick and heavy blanket on it that Stiles knew wasn’t his. It was patchwork and had a lot of different fandoms on it.
“What is this?”
“Your father told me that you are having nightmares. Not horrible ones, but this world hasn’t been kind to you. It’s a weighted blanket. I know a lady in town who makes them. Cora used to have one. I had one started for her.”
“This isn’t hers?”
“No. I paid her to rush this one for you after your father talked about you waking up screaming. Cora was captured by another supernatural being when she was younger. The weighted blanket helped when she needed sleep, and the pack couldn’t sleep with her. Try it.” Peter stood up and walked over to where Stiles was sitting on the edge of his bed.
Stiles lifted up the turned-over corner of the blanket, and he found that it was hefty but soft. He rubbed it between his fingers. It felt like something that he could sleep under for hours. He looked at Peter and then to the side when he noticed that his father was standing at the room’s edge. He looked worried.
“Do you like it?” Noah asked.
“It’s nice. It’s got all of my fandoms on it.” Stiles rubbed his hand over one of the Millennium Falcon. He laughed and lifted it up to rub his face on it. It felt good. He looked at his dad again. He was so tired he did just want to curl up under it. Peter stayed at the edge of the bed as Stiles got under. There was a soft and thin sheet between him and the weighted blanket, and he snuggled under. The weight was good, and he wasn’t sure if he would like it in summer, but he watched his father as he moved to the thermostat outside of the room. Stiles’ mother had liked it cold in the house, so they had a good unit, even now. It would keep it cooler so that Stiles would sleep well under the blanket.
When he was done, Noah came back into the room and sat down beside Stiles on the bed, Peter at his back.
“If you need anything, just yell. Peter is staying the night, and we are heading out to do a little digging into something first thing in the morning. Are you going to be okay tomorrow here alone?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.” Stiles thought that he would probably actually like being alone. He had a lot of things to plan out. He had nothing but his father left in Beacon Hills, and he wasn’t even sure that going to Devenford Prep would allow him what he wanted, which was peace from everything.
A fresh start just might be what he needed.
The house was quiet, and Stiles was looking forward to a day just doing little to nothing. He went down to the kitchen and found that he had breakfast waiting on him in the microwave to warm up. He did so, and while it was cooking, he looked in the fridge for juice. He found orange juice and poured himself some when the beep came to tell him that his food was done.
Stiles settled in with his laptop at the dining room table. He got comfortable as he looked at the schools in New York City around his aunt’s location. He frowned as he didn’t like any of the public schools. He sighed and pushed the laptop away. A beep sounded, and he looked to see it was from Skype. He clicked it to expand to see that it was his aunt. He clicked and waited for the call to connect.
“Stiles!” Celeste looked really happy to see him and Stiles smiled at her.
“Hey, so is there a school you like around you?”
“A college?” Celeste asked.
“No, a high school.”
“Stiles, is everything okay with your father? He’s not-” Celeste stopped, and she looked at him harder. “No, it’s not your father.”
“No. Dad’s been really good. He’s been taking extra care with me. It’s my friends. Well, I guess none of them are really my friends. It’s been months and nothing. Scott’s ignoring everything, and he’s pissed at me for some reason. He gave me a concussion.”
“But that’s everything we’ve already talked about. What happened?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Mieczysław,” Celeste said.
It was just like Stiles’ mother. The tone and the lilt to her voice gave it the accent.
“I like someone, and they don’t like me back.”
“You are a Gajos and a Stilinski; that’s not enough to make you run across the country,” Celeste said.
Stiles looked away from the laptop toward the picture of them on the wall. His mom was smiling, and his father looked better than he had in a long time. There wasn’t as much stress on his face. Not all of that had been put on there by him, but some of it was. His father deserved to know that Stiles was safe, and as long as he was in Beacon Hills, no matter how close he was to the others, he was going to do something to help with anything Supernatural.
“He wasn’t genuinely nice at all about it. I mean, he’s older than me, but he was cruel. I just wanted a date to see, and I would make sure not to do anything before turning eighteen. He had a really bad relationship before this, and I didn’t want to rush either of us into something. I thought, you know, nine months of a built-in barrier where we both knew we were not going to have sex would be good. He said he’d throw a party if he ever found out that he didn’t have to see me again. He only tolerates me because of the other friends that we had in common. It just goes to show me that I have nothing in common with any of them.”
“I used to have stuff in common with him, but we really don’t anymore. He’s more worried about his girlfriend, who is a psycho. I don’t understand much about what is going on with him, and I haven’t since he started to date her. I want a fresh start, Aunt Celeste. I want to go somewhere that I don’t have to see them every day and think about it. About what I have lost.”
“And you don’t think it’s going to get better?” Celeste asked.
“I don’t want them to gaslight me into forgiving them,” Stiles said.
“Talk to your father. I have more than enough room, and there are several good private schools that I will pay to put you through. You and your father don’t need to worry about that. I want to talk to him, so after you do have him call me on my office phone. He has the number.”
“Sure. I love you,” Stiles said.
“Love you too, kid. Now go and make sure this is what you want.”
Stiles nodded, and he disconnected the call. He closed out of Skype and brought up a few browsers to look at private schools in the area. He found ten close to where his aunt was, and there was one that didn’t have a website. Well, it had one, but it had nothing on it outside of a roster of teachers there and a few shots of empty buildings. It was kind of creepy, but Stiles had seen worse. There were no testimonies of where the kids had gone onto. He wondered if it was the kind of place that took people with old money, and that was it. He crossed it off of his list of schools that he wanted to ask his aunt about. It didn’t look like the kind of place for him. It looked like the halls were made of gold.
The list of schools that Stiles liked was short, so he opened it up to the whole city. It wouldn’t take him long at all to get used to moving around the place, so he hoped that a commute wouldn’t be too bad. He could probably go anywhere in the city. He had a lot of fun looking at schools and making lists over the rest of the day.
It was hours later when Stiles came up out of his research when he smelled food. He popped his headphones out of his ears and looked to see that his father was in the kitchen. Not only has his father got home, but he must have gone down the hallway instead of through the rooms. Stiles wondered what kind of food he was trying to sneak into there.
Stiles got up after closing the lid on his laptop. He closed his notebook as well and then headed into the kitchen. He found that his father was frying meat of some kind. It didn’t look like hamburger meat.
“Turkey?” Stiles asked.
“Yeah, for tacos. How does that sound?”
“Tacos sound awesome. Are you using the recipe?” Stiles asked.
“Of course, I was the one that made it up, you know.”
“Yeah, but mom’s were always better.” Stiles smiled as he said it. It was a long-running joke in the family. This time it didn’t hurt to bring it up.
“Moms make everything better,” Noah said. He reached out and pulled Stiles into him.
“So I saw you were researching schools in New York, private schools?”
“Yeah, I…don’t wanna stay here. I love you, Dad. I just can’t be around the pack and especially Derek.”
“Yeah, Peter said that he thought that you were going to say something like that. He told me that he figured you would want to go and lick your wounds somewhere else, and he supports you leaving. He said that sometimes it’s the only way to grow. I don’t want you to go, but I agree that you need to get out of here. Celeste will take good care of you in New York.”
“Just like that?” Stiles felt his heart starting to break again; even his father wanted him gone. He started to turn to leave because he couldn’t take this. He felt his breathing speeding up; it felt like he couldn’t get enough oxygen. He rushed out of the kitchen and heard his father let out a curse. Stiles tried to make it out of the house, but his father caught him. He was pulled into his father’s chest, and they fell down.
“Stiles, Stiles, breathe, tell me five things you see.”
Stiles shook his head. He couldn’t open his eyes and look around. His father pulled him into his chest a little more, and Stiles could barely understand the words out of his father’s mouth because he had his lips pressed to Stiles’ head so closely.
“Tell me five things you see.”
Stiles opened his eyes. He looked around the living room. “Fish.”
“Okay, four more.”
“Coat.” Stiles turned his head and tried to stop his freaking out, but it wasn’t working. He exhaled and shuddered. “Blue fish.”
Noah laughed and laid Stiles’ head against his shoulder in a better position. His hand dropped to start rubbing on Stiles’ back.
“One more,” Noah whispered.
“Okay, four things you can hear.”
Stiles listed off four things even though two of them were his own heart and his father’s. He listed three things he could smell. Two that he could feel and then finally one thing he could taste, which was his own tears.
“Back with me?” Noah asked.
Stiles nodded. He was done talking for now.
“Okay. I want you to listen to me, Stiles.”
“Peter and I spent more time talking about you today than we did anything else. He told me that you were unhappy that the scents you are putting off are closer to someone in a deep depression than anything else. He said even this morning in sleep, you didn’t smell any better than last night. He explained to me in great detail what keeping you here might do to you and that it’s not like I can’t see you every single day over Skype. I can take my laptop to work and use it to talk to you if I don’t want to use the work ones. We can make plans to at least talk on the phone. You are my son, and I love you. I know that things have been strained between us, Mieczysław, but I can’t keep you here if it’s going to hurt you.”
“Who is going to make sure you don’t go back into the bottle?”
“Peter promised that he would. He said that he would do whatever you thought was needed to make sure that I don’t succumb to my demons as he put it.”
“He said that you saved Derek’s life. He didn’t tell me how, but he said that you did.”
“I held up his ass in a pool for two hours while the Kanima was hunting him. He tried to get me to leave, and when he turned to shove me, the Kanima gave him the stuff that made him mostly paralyzed. I thought that in the aftermath that something changed between us. He looked at me less like I was this annoying person and like he saw me. I thought that he was the only one to see me.”
“I think that Peter sees you. I think that he sees you better than even I see you. Your room will always be here, Stiles. And if you get to New York and hate it, we will work out something. I know that Devenford is an option that you liked, but I understand that while Beacon Hills is pretty big, there is no way of getting away from them. And New York’s got your friends, or will, when they start college this fall. So there will be a whole bunch of people there to watch you. I think that you’ll like New York. I’m sure that you’ll find something supernatural there, and then everything will be all crazy, but I need you to make me a promise.”
“If it does happen, if you find the supernatural and you make a friend, you have to tell your aunt. I won’t force you to tell her before it happens. There are some things that being ignorant about are just a good thing. She should stay in the dark unless it impacts her life. Just like we were. Though I still hold that I should have been told as soon as I became Sheriff. We’ve already closed four cases, and Peter’s working on looking at a fifth to close. He’ll protect me. He’ll make sure that I’m safe.”
Stiles wasn’t sure how he felt about Peter protecting his father, but he really hoped that Peter kept his end of the bargain up. Though, if stuff started to happen, Stiles was sure he could get his aunt to have someone join the Sheriff’s department to make sure that his father didn’t do anything stupid. Stiles wasn’t going to lose his father, but he also knew that he wouldn’t be able to get his father to leave Beacon Hills for anything. The man had left and joined the Army, and when it was done, he had come back even though he had no family to pull him back. Stiles was happy about it as it had allowed him to meet Claudia in college, but it had also set all of this on the path.
“I love you, Dad,” Stiles said before he hugged his father tightly.
“I love you, too, son. Let’s see about getting Celeste ready for another teenager in her life. I’m sure that she was happy to have Robbie stop being a teenager.”
Stiles laughed and shoved at his father. He looked at his father and smiled when he saw that while his father was a little sad, he looked better than he had before. Stiles figured that he thought that getting him out of Beacon Hills would save Stiles’ life. Stiles felt like it was the truth as well.
Stiles looked down at his packed bags and then at the time. It was still five hours before he had to leave Beacon Hills to make it to the airport with a lot of time to spare. He heard his father moving around upstairs, and he thought about what he had promised him a week ago. He had promised that he would try and reach out to Scott again. He wondered if Scott would answer his phone if he called. Stiles grabbed the keys to the SUV and headed up the stairs. His father had today and tomorrow off work since he stayed in San Francisco to spend the night since Stiles’ flight out of there was so late. He waited for his father to open the door.
“Shit, Stiles, don’t creep.” Noah was smiling, though, as he said it.
“Sorry. I was going to borrow the SUV. See about finding Scott.”
“Sure. We’ve got time.” Noah looked at the clock that was on the wall in the hallway. It wasn’t even noon yet. “You packed?”
“Yeah. I loaded the last of the things after I got ready for the day.” Stiles looked down the hall toward where his bedroom was. The furniture was still there but little else. A few sets of sheets for when Stiles would come back to visit his father. If he did. It was part of why everything else was packed up; Stiles was sure his father was going to come to him more than he would be coming back to Beacon Hills. The moving pod was already on its way to New York with everything Stiles actually cared about. All of his books on the Supernatural that Peter had given him, and he had taken from Deaton in little bits here and there. Roscoe was in there as well. Stiles knew that there wouldn’t be many chances for him to drive in New York City, but he couldn’t leave Roscoe to gather dust. Celeste had a huge garage and already had a spot cleared for Roscoe.
Stiles was actually looking forward to New York. He would have two weeks to look around before his aunt was going to make him start to buckle down and pick a school. She had tours set up with the five schools that he liked and the one that she did as it was not on his list of schools. Stiles wasn’t sure which one she liked as she had been tight-lipped about it. Still, Stiles was kind of happy to be leaving.
Even for a Wednesday afternoon in July, the town was kind of busy. There were kids everywhere, enjoying the summer, and adults who looked to be busy as hell all over. Stiles headed toward Deaton’s, but the lot didn’t have Scott’s bike chained to the rack or his mother’s car in it. So he left that area and headed toward Scott’s house. He stopped a few blocks over and dialed Scott’s number.
The phone rang before swapping to voicemail, so Stiles hung up and called back three times. At some point, Scott would answer, or he would shut off his phone.
“Stiles, I’m busy,” Scott said.
“Yeah, sure. Okay.” Stiles said as Scott hung up on him.
Stiles laid the phone in the cup holder and then headed toward Scott’s house. The bike wasn’t on the porch, so Stiles headed to Derek’s. He headed toward the edge of town where Derek’s loft was. He found that the lot was full of cars. Allison’s car was there, which kind of shocked Stiles. What was Allison doing there? Stiles was back far enough to see things, but that hopefully, no one could hear him. Lydia’s car was parked beside Allison’s, and then there was Derek’s car, but Peter’s wasn’t there. Stiles wondered if Derek even cared what his uncle did since he had Cora now.
A new car joined the grouping, and Stiles watched as Chris got out of it. He scanned the area around the lot before heading up. It seemed that whatever was going on with the Alpha Pack was enough that the Argents and the Hales worked together.
Stiles looked down at his phone when it vibrated, and he had hoped it was Scott asking him what he wanted, but it wasn’t. It was from the Coach who wanted him to come and do a last skate with the team before he left. Stiles was about to text that his hockey stuff was packed up and on its way to New York when the Coach texted for him to come no matter what, as they had enough stuff for him to be able to skate with them safely. Stiles smiled as at least some people would miss him. He had already done his rounds with Harley and everyone else that he cared about. He turned the SUV on again and looked at the cars one last time. This was goodbye, even if they didn’t know it. He wasn’t even sure that any of them would actually care.
The Argents were stuck in Beacon Hills until everything was through the courts about Gerard. Stiles had heard Scott complaining about the court cases hanging up Chris and Allison going to France for the summer. He didn’t care about that, but he didn’t care about the Argents all that much. He wasn’t sure why she was there when she had shot Erica and Boyd, stabbed Isaac, and all-around just hated Derek for, in her eyes, killing her mother. They were all a group of people who would kill each other if the conditions were right.
It wasn’t going to be long before shit happened that caused something to happen that would fracture them. Stiles was upset that he wouldn’t be around to see it, but he was also glad.
The hockey rink was just filled with cars from the team, so Stiles was happy about not sharing anything. He stepped inside to find that there was a pair of skates sitting with his name on them. They were new but looked to be his size. They were black, so Stiles wasn’t sure why they had got him black until he saw that there were various versions of Batman all over them along the sides. He looked out to see the team was on the ice, looking at him. Stiles grabbed the skates and settled down to get them on. He needed to start getting them broken in. He found that they were perfect for him in size. This was going to be hella better than trying to make Scott see him.
Stiles laughed as he headed onto the ice to see that the team wasn’t set up for practice, but there was a beach ball on the ice. He snagged it as he headed over toward the team.
Stiles watched the city appear, and it was not just a huge blob of lights anymore. Stiles hadn’t been to New York City before, so he was interested in seeing how the city was at five in the morning local time. It was about an hour before the sun would start its rise in the city, and Stiles was kind of glad to be seeing it while he and his aunt drove around. They were hitting a place to get him breakfast before heading home. Stiles had barely slept the night before, and he was bone-tired since he hadn’t slept at all on the flight. He planned on passing out and only waking up to eat dinner and then going back to bed. He would wake up tomorrow and meet everyone that lived with his aunt.
Robbie was in France for the summer, and Stiles was bummed about that. He had stayed on at his college there and would only be coming home for a week in two weeks. At least Stiles would get to see him before he started his next year of college.
“First time?” the man next to Stiles asked.
“Yeah. I’ve never left the West Coast before. Been all over it with my parents.”
“You never said what you are going to New York for,” the man said.
“Going to stay with my aunt. There is a school there that is up my alley for education purposes, and so I jumped at it.” It was a lie that was falling off of his tongue pretty easily. No one needed to know what was going on, especially a stranger on a plane. “What about you?”
“I live here. I was in San Francisco for a job, and my boss wanted me to stay and watch over someone else on their flight from there to here.”
“Ah.” Stiles looked out the window again as they were getting closer to New York City, then he thought about what the man said and turned to look at him again, narrowing his eyes. “Really?”
“It’s nice to meet you, Stiles. My name is Adam Calavera.” The man’s plain accent dropped, and there was a lilt to his voice now that told Stiles he was from a Spanish-speaking area.
“Dude, is my aunt really that paranoid?”
“No, she’s not. She knew that nothing would happen to you on the flight, and she told me to introduce myself before the end of the flight, but mainly I was here in case you started to have a panic attack. Your father was worried about that, and if he could have taken time off and worked his shifts after a flight to here and back, he would have come along. So I offered to stay in San Fran for an extra day to catch a flight with you. She did move me to your row and made sure that it was just us two in the row.”
Stiles nodded his head. He could see that. He was kind of glad that Adam had waited this long to introduce himself. It would have been strange to know who he was the whole time.
“I won’t be going with your aunt and you, though. I have my car in long-term parking.”
“Where are you from?”
“Mexico. I’ve lived in New York for over ten years, though.”
Stiles looked at Adam to see that over ten years meant when he was younger than Stiles was at the moment.
“I didn’t like my family, and so I ran away. I got across the border and was caught by border patrol. Your aunt claimed me and adopted me; I was fifteen at the time. I don’t call her mom or anything as she was pretty hands-off as I worked through. She forced me into therapy. I hated her for a while but never as much as I hated my mother.”
Stiles nodded his head. He knew that Celeste had adopted two different kids older than Robbie, but he wasn’t sure what their names were. Stiles had never met them.
“Who is the other kid that auntie adopted?” Stiles asked.
“Helena. She took the Gajos name. I never knew her original last name. She’s in France teaching at the college that Robbie is at. She didn’t like the protection business.”
Stiles nodded. He listened as the hostess called for them to get ready for landing. He looked out the window again.
“Celeste might be a little late, according to what she texted me before we took off. Do you want me to stay with you?” Adam asked.
“Nah, I’m good.” Stiles looked out the window again and smiled as the plane started to angle down a little bit. He had enjoyed his first flight, and even if his aunt was a little overprotective, it felt good. A panic attack wasn’t outside of the realm of reality for him, given how he had been having them a little more than normal lately. He knew it was stress and just too many emotions. He hoped that being away from the pack would calm him down.
Adam stayed with Stiles, though, until the baggage claim.
“You only have this?” Adam asked when Stiles had claimed his three bags and had his backpack that he had taken on with him.
“Yeah, the rest of my stuff is coming in a pod with my Jeep. This is mostly my technology and then my books and a few clothes.”
“Books? You brought books? Celeste has a massive library, you know.”
“Yeah, I know, but these books are the ones I am reading for a personal project.”
“What kind of technology?”
“Game systems, two of them, well three if you count my DS and then my laptop, MP3 player. I wanna get a Kindle at some point, but a lot of my personal research won’t be on it, but at least I can have like three thousand books at my fingertips.”
“How about I take the one with books and tech with me? I’ll get them in your wing of the house.”
“Oh, you live with us?” Stiles asked.
“Yeah. I kind of like it. Not going home to an empty place, but I can be alone if I wish. You keep your personal stuff with you. That way, you don’t have to worry about that.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’ve got an SUV. I can fit your stuff, and you aren’t lugging it around on a cart. You can wheel that bag, right?”
Stiles lifted the handle on the bag with his clothes, and Adam nodded before adding Stiles’ other two bags to his cart that had his two bags on it.
Adam left him sitting and waiting at a little café, and Stiles turned his phone back on. He texted his father that he had landed and was waiting on Celeste. Stiles settled in to wait for Celeste to arrive. He looked around every few seconds, and he was sure that someone would freak out about him. He tried to calm down, and after about half an hour, a TSA agent came out and sat down beside him.
“Need help?” the guy asked.
“Nah, my aunt had a work issue that popped up, and she’s late to get me. She told me to stay at the airport since this is my first time in New York City. I’m just a little nervous. Dad’s a Sheriff back home, so my mind won’t stop with all of the things that could happen to me while alone here. I have ADHD as well, and I’ve been up for like two days and couldn’t sleep on the flight.”
“That sounds like you need some sleep.”
“That’s my plan. Get home to auntie’s and just crash until tomorrow morning. I may or may not wake up for dinner.”
“Do you wanna come back and see some of the fun stuff?” the TSA agent asked.
“Dude, that would be freaking awesome. Is there somewhere I can leave my bags?”
Stiles followed the guy when he grabbed Stiles’ suitcase, and he shouldered his backpack. He was searched before being allowed back in, and Stiles was sure that they had already run some kind of check on him. He got to sit and look at the security cameras as the TSA agent watching those kept an eye. He could see where he had been sitting and that it was zoomed in.
“Watching me, huh?”
“We weren’t sure if you were scared or freaked out, but we knew that you weren’t a danger to anyone but yourself,” the agent said. She smiled at him before zooming the camera back out. “This one here is short-term parking for coming inside to grab someone. You can watch it for your aunt if you want.”
Stiles looked at where she was pointing, and he saw that it was clear enough that he could see everyone coming inside. He got distracted on another screen, watching a young woman juggle a set of twins who wanted to climb on things. Thankfully other passengers were giving them a lot of room to play and keeping away. It was too early in the morning for that kind of stuff. When it hit just about six-thirty, Stiles felt his eyes drooping. He jerked up and saw Celeste looking around, where she told him to wait on her.
“That’s her!” Stiles said, and he poked the screen.
The TSA agent beside him radioed to bring Celeste to where he was. Stiles felt a lot of energy hit him as he got up and was escorted to a small room. Stiles wondered why until he saw the other door open, and there was Celeste. Stiles was struck by how much she truly looked like his mother. He nearly tripped over his feet, running to her. Celeste hugged him tight, and for a few seconds, Stiles thought he was in his mother’s arms. They smelled the same. The smell triggered tears.
“Hey, Mischief, we gotta go,” Celeste said a little while later.
Stiles could feel how dried out he was from crying. A TSA agent was standing in the doorway with a bottle of water in his hand. It was the one who had taken him back to the office.
“Thanks,” Stiles said as he held his hand out for the water.
“You are welcome. We have your backpack and bag in the hall, and you won’t be stopped on your way out of the secure areas. You were a delight to have, Mister Stilinski.”
Stiles saw a few napkins sitting on the table, and he wiped his face and blew his nose before looking at Celeste. Her eyes were red as well. Her make-up had run a little, and she was dabbing at her eyes with a napkin. When she was mostly put together, she pulled Stiles into her body and then herded him toward the door. She grabbed Stiles’ suitcase and started to roll it, leaving Stiles to get his backpack. He was happy that he had given Adam his stuff.
“This is all?” Celeste asked.
“Adam got the rest of my stuff.”
“Ah, Adam’s a sweetheart.”
Stiles nodded his head, and he looked around at the people that were waiting on rides still. He was glad that he didn’t have to sit for that extra time out in the main area. He probably would have freaked people out.
“So, how do you feel about a large breakfast buffet?” Celeste asked once everything was in the SUV. It was a pretty standard black SUV that kind of reminded Stiles of the ones that he saw FBI agents driving when the FBI came to visit about cases and such. It felt a little weird, but then these things were built to last, so it made sense with the security firm that Celeste ran.
Stiles took pictures and texted a few of them to his father as they drove, and the sun started to rise and bathe the city in red.
“A red sun rises; blood has been spilled this night,” Stiles said. It didn’t pertain to his life anymore, but it was good for his mind to think about the Lord of the Rings.
“What?” Celeste asked.
“Oh, just a quote from the Lord of the Rings movies is all. Well, the books too. The Two Towers if you want to know. Anyway, it just came to mind with the red of the sun this morning is all.”
“Ah, I get you.” Celeste chuckled, but a little of it was forced.
Stiles wondered if she was as tired as he was.
“Oh, I never answered. A buffet sounds great,” Stiles said.
“Good. That’s where I was headed anyway. I know how to feed teenage boys.”
Stiles nodded his head. He gripped his wrist. He hadn’t been eating as well as he should have been, but he had found he had an upset stomach more than not with everything going on. His father had been pushing him to eat more, but he knew when to stop.
The buffet place looked like a hole in the wall in the middle of an alley. Stiles was sure that someone had died in this alley the night before, but he just sped up to keep up with Celeste as she walked. The door was down below the street level.
Stiles’ stomach growled when the door opened, and the smell hit him. Inside wasn’t like any buffet place that he had ever been to. There weren’t rows and rows of tables either. There were three buffet tables, two hot and one cold. The smell of potatoes drew Stiles right to the first hot table, and he was about to grab a plate and load it up when he stopped. He found Celeste talking to a lady at a counter.
“Grab a plate and load it up, boy!” someone yelled from somewhere.
Celeste nodded her head, and Stiles grabbed a plate and loaded it with hash browns and then poured white pepper gravy on them and popped a few strips of bacon. He looked at Celeste again to find a waitress dropping off two glasses of orange juice at a table and waving him over.
“Your aunt said no caffeine, but I have other things.”
“Nah, I can’t do the sugar, juice, and some water is fine.” Stiles laid his plate down and then went back and got a few eggs and what looked like some kind of casserole filled with all kinds of breakfast stuff. The cold area had fruits and a few other things, so Stiles would get that next.
Celeste sat down when Stiles was halfway through his potatoes.
“Your mother loved that,” Celeste said as she pointed with her fork at the hash browns covered in gravy.
“Yeah. The place that used to serve hash browns on the breakfast buffet stopped. It doesn’t taste the same with home fries. I just want all of the carbs.”
“Growing boy, and don’t think that I didn’t notice that you lost weight you really didn’t have to lose. Kaïs will be working on a diet for you, and I expect you to stick to it.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Stiles said, and he saluted her with his empty fork. He laughed and started to eat again at the look that she gave him.
Stiles grabbed the other plate when his potatoes and bacon were gone and pulled it close before he looked around. He saw a few people sitting around at tables; most looked like they were waking up for the day.
“You come here often?”
“Every Saturday and Sunday morning with Kaïs, and now with you. Robbie, when he’s in town. Adam and Helena when they are in town. We all really like it here.”
“It’s small as hell; how do you fit this many people?”
“Oh, Stiles. This is the main area. Like the come and go point. This entire basement is full of rooms.”
“Seriously?” Stiles looked around the area, and he saw what he thought were doors into the kitchen, and they had to be doorways into the rest of the place.
“There are two long hallways that allow people to come in here and get food. We have a room that we use that’s just off the left side there. It’s big enough for all of us. The rooms are all mostly the same size, but the tables in there are different. Some are full of two people tables; others are just four and up person tables.”
“I would kill for a place like this back in Beacon Hills,” Stiles said.
“This is Claudia’s boy?” a woman asked.
Stiles jerked his head to look at her. Her accent was Polish, just like a few others that had visited his mother over the years. Stiles narrowed his eyes as he looked at the woman. She wasn’t coming too close, though, thankfully.
“Yes, this is her son.”
Stiles didn’t miss that Celeste didn’t give his name.
“He looks like you both. I look forward to getting to know you.” The woman gave Stiles a smile, and then she left. She dropped money at the register before heading out.
“Who was that?” Stiles asked.
“She goes by Maria. She’s been here in New York since your mother and I were young. She lived in the same city as us in Poland. We remembered her when we were younger. I found her a few years ago here. I had kind of forgotten about her. I guess she went to Beacon Hills on occasion to visit your mother before she got too ingrained in staying here.
Stiles let Celeste tell him stories as he ate, and when he was done, he felt like he could fall asleep where he was. Celeste prodded him out to the SUV, and then they were driving again. Stiles kind of remembered someone pulling him out of the SUV. He thought it was his uncle, but he wasn’t sure as while Kaïs was tall, he carried Stiles like he was nothing.