Title: It’s the Education That Matters
Series: We Are All Works In Progress 2
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Genre: Drama, First Time, Paranormal/Supernatural, Shifters, Slash
Relationship(s): Stiles Stilinski/Jackson Whittemore
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: VMures & Starkindler Beta: ScarsLikeVelvet
Word Count: 65,030
Summary: Stiles has a lot of schooling left to get him ready to take over a team on his own. Along the way, he finds out what it really means to be family and he might even have a chance at love.
Stiles grabbed his bag as he looked around the street they were on. Helena was already heading into her apartment building, but Stiles was enjoying looking around. He had plans to run around the area later. The college was doing a few summer courses, but Helena wasn’t teaching any. She would be showing him around on Monday, but these next few days was just Stiles to get used to being here. Stiles had planned it all out. It was just after six in the morning. He had slept for nearly the entire flight over, so he was wound for sound and ready to go. He had already set himself up to where he had stayed up so he would sleep on the flight so he could get used to this time zone.
Pulling his phone out of his pocket, Stiles saw that he had full service here, and he was happy. Every phone on his aunt’s plan was international, making things a hell of a lot easier. Stiles dialed his father’s cell phone.
“We actually landed early, so I thought I would call you after I knew you were going to be home. Peter told me you got off at nine. I’m outside of Helena’s apartment right now. France is freaking awesome, Daddio.”
“You sound like you aren’t tired at all.”
“Nah, I did the reverse thing for adjusting to jet lag. I’ve been up a while before the flight. Slept the whole way here. The first class is awesome, even if the flight attendant didn’t give me alcohol. Tomorrow I have to go and get my papers for being here. I’m gonna look around today. Helena promised to allow me today to do what I wanted on foot in the area. First off, I’m going to find the bakery that smells like heaven.”
“I’m jealous,” Peter said.
“You have me on speaker?” Stiles asked. He wasn’t offended. He was more than happy to talk to Peter as well. They were a package deal.
“Yes, he does. He’s eating dinner. He promised to eat and talk.”
“That’s cool. I would have thought you would be jealous of me. France is great. Well, so far. Kaïs said that my French is good enough that I won’t get laughed at. I’m just pleased that I got it and Polish down all the way before coming over here. I wanna have fun with the rest of the Gajos I have never met or even heard of. Auntie said that she left a good bit of them behind in Poland to make sure that it didn’t go to hell. Though that also means I need to meet the Argents as well, and I’m not all about that.”
“Do you have your ring on?” Noah asked.
“Yeah. Anytime I’m outside of the apartment, I’ll be wearing it. That just makes it all so much easier. Helena said that she laughed the first time that she saw me. Robbie and I pass for cousins, but like this, we look like brothers. She keeps calling me weird names,” Stiles said. He looked up to see that Helena was looking down at him from the window in the apartment. “I should go. I called auntie and uncle when I landed, and then Helena called when she got me. I’ll call tomorrow when I have time. Well, your tomorrow. It’ll still be today for me.”
“Be safe, Stiles, and I love you,” Noah said.
“Love you too, and you, Creeperwolf.”
Stiles hung up when Peter told him goodbye. Stiles laughed when he saw Helena tapping her finger on her wrist that didn’t even have a watch on it. Stiles blah-blah-blahed her and then headed inside. He put in the code that Helena told him would get him access to the building. There was no key to the main door inside the building. Well, there was, but those were for emergencies, and she didn’t have one of him yet. Just to be an asshole, Stiles pressed the intercom button for the apartment after putting in the code. He pressed it four times before heading up to the apartment. The door was open, so Stiles slipped right inside. Helena was in the kitchen, making what smelled like coffee. Stiles crinkled his nose at getting her homemade coffee. He wanted to find a real coffee shop and get something from there.
“Gonna get my shit put up,” Stiles said. He raised up his backpack and suitcase he had brought with him on the flight. He hadn’t checked anything, and everything was carry-on. He laughed as he saw that his bed was already made in red. Helena said that she had set it up for him. She was obsessed with calling him little red riding hood after getting to talk to him a great deal about his dealings with Werewolves. He laid his suitcase on the bed and popped it open. He found the weapons that were inside and spelled to be hidden from normal metal detectors. He hadn’t brought much with him, just daggers that were his most used. He strapped them to his body in the places that they needed to be before he worked on getting his clothes put up.
Getting everything set up took little time at all. Stiles had brought no household products with him. Helena had bought all of that for him before leaving to go and get him from the airport. The plans had changed from her escorting him to France. She had something pop up that made it hard for her to leave, so Stiles had enjoyed flying alone. Stiles looked at himself in the mirror attached to the wall beside his walk-in closet and couldn’t see anything out of place, so he went into the living room to get a good look at the place. He knew that Helena had an office, and he had no interest in it yet. The living room, dining room, and kitchen were all open wide, feeding directly into each other with no walls.
“Paranoid much?” Stiles asked.
“Two weeks after moving in here, a rogue Hunter tried to kill me, so no.”
“I stopped him from killing a Wendigo that hadn’t eaten human flesh in years. Once the boy had got away from his family, he hadn’t touched humans. He had never even killed any as before eighteen that family made the adults do the hunting. The night before he turned eighteen, he ran away to the Argents. The family was hunted down, and they were all killed as they refused to give up and tried to eat one of the team hunting them. I guess they killed one of his buddies, but the kid hadn’t even been alive then. The family was operating for a long time without anyone knowing. The kid was brave. What are your plans again?”
“I have none other than learning the area. I just want to get a good feel for the place. So I want to wander around and get to know everything close. I also aim to find the bakery making the place smell like heaven when we were driving. I could still smell it when we got out. I wanna find that place and propose marriage.”
Helena laughed before she took a sip of her coffee. “Well, that’s where you are going to want to get coffee every single morning. dad said, you don’t like his coffee, and I make mine exactly the same and drink the entire pot. We can get a second carafe or something if you want.”
“Nah, I don’t drink too much coffee since I am still on my ADHD meds. One cup from somewhere will be good.”
“Then there is this place two streets over, next door to the bakery that you already love. They have a door that connects. They are owned by a couple. Each runs a side, and items can be purchased in either place. You can go and get your sweet and then coffee or tea and vice versa. Anyway, here is money.” Helena handed over a good bit of notes.
Stiles knew that France used Euro notes and coins, and he had a wallet that would hold them and a separate coin thing that he could put them in. He felt like an old person with it, but it was okay. He wasn’t going to take that with him today; he was just going to stick to putting them in his pockets. He just had the key to the apartment and his phone and wallet, so it wasn’t going to be hard to keep the key in his wallet as it had been since Helena had given it to him and his change in the pocket his phone wasn’t in. He had a plan, and he would stick to it, which was that he had no plan beyond the bakery. He also planned on getting lost, but he wasn’t going to call for help. He was going to find his way home, or he was going to die.
“Be home by ten. I know you are an adult and all of that shit, but if you are not home by ten, I’m telling the police and putting out an APB on you.”
Stiles nodded his head. He waved goodbye and headed out. Helena was the adopted kid that Stiles knew the least about. She had come to the Gajos when Stiles was like two years old. She was a decade older than Stiles and acted very much like an older sibling to Stiles and Robbie. Her accent was just like Kaïs’, a strong French undercurrent top with enough Polish to freak people out. She could drop it at will, though, and speak just like a typical Londoner or a New Yorker. Stiles was learning that kind of mimicry, and Assisi had been good for that but not the greatest. Rivers was supposed to boast a good education for spies, according to Helena. She said it with a laugh, so Stiles wasn’t sure that she didn’t mean actual spies.
“Well, Stiles, which way? She said two blocks but not what direction.” Stiles looked left and right and then straight ahead. He inhaled and could catch the faint scent of bread. He headed towards the right and stopped when the smell faded. He went back to the left and kept on going until the smell stopped as well. He looked ahead and behind where he was and chose ahead. Stiles was pretty sure he had chosen the right direction, not just because the smell was getting stronger, but it seemed like the little area was getting more and more people around it. Shops were on the street instead of houses and apartments.
Stiles found the coffee shop first. He looked at the printed menu taped to the glass in the corner of the shop’s front. He liked that as he could look and see what he wanted. He found that the coffee was different than in America, but he was okay with that. He also found that the shop boasted a tea that would help him get ready for the day. He debated getting it for his running around the city instead of coffee. The bakery had sweets and loaves of bread inside. It was like a little bit of heaven. Stiles looked at what they offered while choosing between coffee, tea, or just both.
Twenty minutes later, Stiles had his sweets in hand, paid for, and in the small backpack he had brought with him to carry things that he didn’t want to carry in his hand. He looked at the hours to find that both places were open twenty-four hours a day. They were close enough to Rivers’ campus that Stiles was sure why they were open all night long.
“Starting college this fall?” the guy at the register asked when Stiles got there. There was no one behind him, which was probably why the guy was willing to talk to him.
“American?” the guy asked. He wasn’t wearing a name tag at all. His accent was London based or at least in that general area; it was a little different than the English accent that one of Stile’s classmates had at Assisi, who had been from backwoods England before his family had moved to New York for his father’s job.
“Yes, very much so.”
The guy eyed him, and there was a small flash when the door opened to from someone leaving. He was a Werewolf or another of the Were variety. He had seen the flash from the light.
“Mieczysław Gajos,” Stiles said as he offered his hand over. The man relaxed with the name he gave. It was like saying you were Elrond or Gandalf or something like that with the way people reacted to his name.
“So you’ll be sticking around for all four years at Rivers. Staying with Helena?”
“Yes, I am…” Stiles trailed off.
“Marius Ghent. My husband runs the bakery side; his name is Pierre. He’s born and bred French. We met one summer when I came here for a summer vacation. I stayed after I graduated from college with a business degree.”
“So…coffee or tea? I have ADHD and take medication for it. My aunt wants me to see how cutting back on the pills and going to coffee to manage does, but I’ve been on them so long that I worry about swapping. The pills are easy for me to take, but if I can’t drink my coffee and forget.”
“I understand that. Well, I saw you eyeing our wake-up tea. We keep it brewed all morning long and even have a travel mug that you can get in cheaper refills since you aren’t using a new cup each time. It works for drip coffee as well. The other fancy coffee only gets the cost of the cup discount when you do it.”
“That’s good. I’ll take tea to go in one of the cups. You guys are close enough that I think I’ll be coming over for coffee and/or tea before classes and maybe in between.”
“We do lunch sandwiches over there that we sell here. On the bread that they make and then the meats and cheeses are all got from the shop a block and a half over. Then there is veg from a local farmer.”
“You are really selling that.” Stiles thought that it sounded good.
“We do a limited spread during the week. Five different sandwiches each day. Some do repeat once or twice more a week, but some are only one day a week. We are open all week long. Helena stops in here for lunch at least twice a week during classes. She likes cooking, but that’s for dinner.”
Stiles nodded his head and took the menu that he was handed; it had the foods from both places. He slipped it into his backpack before handing over the money for his mug.
“It’s a fresh pot, so I added a few ice cubes. The mug holds hot things hot for a while. So enjoy that, and you can tell me tomorrow what you think.”
“Dude, unless I find another place that sells a lunch I want, I’m gonna be coming back for lunch today. I really like the sound of your BLT you are doing for lunch today. Are they hot or cold?”
“All cold. It is mostly grab-and-go. We have a few special orders, but we are making a lot of them during lunch. It’s not like the materials aren’t out already.”
Stiles gave Marius a wave and then slipped out of the shop, taking a sip of his tea as he figured out where he wanted to go. He closed his eyes and spun around until he was a little dizzy and headed that way.
Rivers was a fairly nice-sized city for France. The university got its name, but the town got its name from how two rivers met and branched out into one. The city was big enough that Stiles knew it would take him a few hours to go around the edge of it and at least an hour to go from one end to the other. He would figure that out at some point. He needed to map his running track and figure out when was the best time for that. Helena made a comment that the track at the college was good to use once school started. He could even take a bag with him and shower and everything there. But he had nearly two months until school started for him.
Stiles laughed as he watched a girl walking down the street with her nose buried in a Kindle with what looked like a food basket on her arm. It reminded him of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. He made sure not to run into her and then set about learning his new place of residence.
So Helena was scary, Stiles thought as he slipped back into the apartment. He heard Helena yelling at someone. He brushed his hand over the runic matrix on the door jamb and found that, yes, she had silenced sounds out of the place. Stiles had no clue what the people who lived above and below thought about how all sounds stopped in the place on occasion, but he figured that Rivers was a lot like Sunnydale; people ignored the shit they didn’t want to deal with. It made a lot of sense.
Stiles grabbed the first aid kit from where it hung on the wall in the kitchen, then he thought about it and grabbed the one on the stand in there instead. It was a heavy-duty kit. He laid it down and popped open the lid to find the suture kit inside as well as the needles that were pre-measured for him. His had his initials on them. Helena’s had hers on them as well. The kits were kind of scary if one hadn’t been in life as Stiles’ had been. He would have loved to have kits like this when he had started to run around with wolves.
“NO!” Helena yelled.
“Helena Gajos, quit yelling at your mother,” Kaïs said.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell like that. I want him out of France. He needs to go back to training. He needs to be put in a place where he can’t harm anyone. He has no instincts, and he bluffs too much with nothing to back it up.”
Stiles would be worried except for the fact that he knew it wasn’t him they were talking about. He wondered just how Guy was doing where he was licking his wounds in his apartment. He was part of Helena’s hunting team that was based in France. Usually, they only went to help back up Argents, but tonight they were asked to take the lead on something since no Argent team could get to it.
It had ended up being a dark coven of witches, and Guy had fucked everything up. It was only Stiles and his ability to trap the witches to stop them from leaving while they were picked off that saved the mission.
Stiles looked at his leg and groaned at the sight of the blood and other gunk. He pulled out two of the needles with enough anesthetic that he wouldn’t feel a damned thing in his leg until he was done. He lined up the first and pushed in as he looked away. He pressed the plunger slowly and then repeated it for the other. It would take a little time for those to start working, so he laid out everything he needed. He got up, washed his hands after he was done, then donned the gloves and cleaned his wound. The kitchen floor would be covered in blood and debris from the wound as after Stiles had been hit by an athame when one of the witches moved to defend herself, he had to roll around on the ground. The blood picked up a lot of nasty stuff. He grabbed the bottle of pills that were in there for infection. It wasn’t the stuff that humans used but a magical variant that worked a hell of a lot better. Stiles had figured out how to make them his last semester at Assisi, and now he had an actual fucking patent on them in France. There was a magical branch of the FDA that would get them approved for magical use in the US to make money on them there. The drug company that had won the right to make them in France was also in the US, so they would do it there as well. The money was being invested, and some of it sent back to his father to get the house payment taken care of. Stiles knew that his father was only taking it since Celeste wasn’t letting him pay for a single thing at all during his college years, and the money was just going to grow.
“How is it?” Celeste asked.
Stiles looked up to see that the laptop was on the table looking at him. “My magic tells me that nothing was damaged beyond just skin and fat. It won’t be hard to heal up, and I have the pills needed. I’m gonna suture it and apply the healing salve to it, and hopefully, by morning, I can take the stitches out.”
“Let me see what your magic says.”
“Ugh.” Stiles laid down the suture and took off the gloves. He stuck his finger in his blood and drew a new symbol on his leg, and a little hologram-like thing popped up, showing the lay of the land under the skin as it were.
Helena moved the camera around to where the laptop was, seeing everything that Stiles was as well.
“I know how to read this. I wasn’t allowed to move here until I did.”
“Don’t sass at me, young man. Guy caused that?”
“Yes, he was not listening to me or to Stiles about what the ritual was and what it entailed, so he thought he knew what he was doing. Then he fucked up, and Stiles had to take out the main witch. She was not happy at all about it. She went after him with her athame. It broke since it’s not used for that kind of fighting. We got it taken care of, though. Stiles handled himself a hell of a lot better than other greenies you’ve sent me. Now I’m going to help him clean up the blood all over and get things taken care of, and then I’m introducing him to my team’s way of welcoming him.”
“Well, at least it won’t be too bad since he’s not in classes yet. Make sure to check on him.”
Stiles wasn’t sure he wanted to know what was up with that. Celeste and Kaïs were both laughing as he watched their faces disappear on the screen. The door to the apartment opened up, and then three guys and a girl were slipping inside. Stiles had only met them earlier that day when they had headed out into the forests to find the witches.
“Sean, Gabe, Aria, and Ashley,” Helena said as she pointed at each of them like Stiles hadn’t learned their names as soon as she had told him earlier.
“Aria, my dear, please help me,” Stiles said.
Aria laughed. She was the witch for the team but also was a good person to suture wounds. Stiles had been all for doing it until she entered.
“I’ll get you,” Aria said. She dropped to her knees and grabbed the bottle of spray alcohol and sprayed her hands, and rubbed them all over before shaking them to get them dry. Gloves were snapped on, and she poked at his wound. “Nothing?”
“Nah, I didn’t feel my cleaning of the wound at all.” Stiles hissed as the first suture went into place just from looking. He looked at where Helena was getting into a cabinet that Stiles hadn’t gone into before. He hadn’t snooped around the apartment all that much, really. He had stuck to his bedroom and learning everything inside of the city. Plus, he had gone running the last few mornings. He would have to just walk tomorrow so that he didn’t rip out his stitches or make the wound worse, even if the stitches were good to come out.
“You okay there?” Ashley asked as he slipped into the kitchen. He had a mug of something in each hand. Mugs that he had never seen before. In fact, the two mugs in Ashley’s hands were matching. Stiles looked at the rest of the mugs in people’s hands to see Helena coming at him with two. There was a moon on the mug, and it looked like it was shining bright.
Stiles took the mug that Helena handed to him, and he looked as Aria picked up the mug that Ashley set down and took a drink. She grimaced and shook her head before focusing on his leg again. He looked into the mug and took a sniff before he nearly jerked so hard that he almost kneed Aria in the head. Helena took the mug from him, and even with the anesthetic, he felt the pain of that.
“You are my favorite family member ever.”
“Why?” Helena asked.
“You just gave me moonshine, and it’s in a mug that has the moon shining on it. That’s the best pun.”
“Moonshine is how we celebrate hunts with new people,” Helena said.
“Well, I am not sure I like moonshine.” Stiles held out his hand for the mug, and Helena gave it back over. Stiles took another sniff of it before he took a sip. It was strong, but it wasn’t like that one time he had licked his hand after using hand sanitizer. It tasted nothing like his father’s whiskey as well. It wasn’t horrible—he kind of liked it.
“Lena makes it in the basement. It’s good.”
“Been working on the recipe since I turned fifteen. My family I left used to make it in stills in the woods. I knew their recipe but hated what it tasted like, so I changed it to how I wanted it. I like this better.”
“It tastes…almost like a tea I like. I just can’t place it.”
“Bergamot and lavender,” Helena said.
“Suck up,” Gabe said as he dropped into the chair next to Stiles. He leaned over the table and whistled. “That bitch got you good.”
“Yeah, but I’ve had worse,” Stiles said.
“So Helena said that you are wearing a glamour,” Sean said.
“Yes. I am.” Stiles looked at Helena, and she nodded her head. She trusted her team, which wasn’t in doubt, but Stiles hadn’t been sure what had been decided on him and Helena’s team. Stiles took the ring off of his middle finger and laid it on the table.
“Those moles are great,” Gabe said.
“What?” Stiles asked.
“Gabe has a slight mole fetish but on girls,” Aria said before anyone else could say anything.
“Dude,” Stiles said.
“I like tracing them with my fingers when lying in bed with a woman. I’ve never been into dudes, but I could see having fun with yours depending on how far down they go.”
“Everywhere,” Stiles whispered. He took a long drink of his moonshine and felt a little of that burn, but he still really liked it. He set the mug down when Aria was done, snapping her gloves off of her hands. She started to clean up the kit, dropping the needles that Stiles had used into a small red box inside for sharps. Stiles stood up, wavering a little at the feel of his leg and how dead it felt and just weird. The moonshine wasn’t helping either.
“Gabe, take him and get him cleaned up; I know that Sean’s nose has to hate the smell.”
“Yes, Ma’am, let’s go, pup,” Gabe said.
“I thought that you were both wolves,” Stiles said.
“We are, but Sean’s nose is like thirty of mine. I have better eyesight, though. We work well as a pair. It’s why Helena wanted us for the team.”
Stiles nodded his head. He grabbed shorts from his bedroom before heading into his en-suite bathroom. Gabe had a rag and a sink of water ready to clean him up. Stiles jumped up on one leg to sit on the counter. He had balked at how big the counter was and how much empty space there was, but he could already see himself sitting here doing something like what he had done in the kitchen here. He now understood why the bathrooms were as open as they were.
“You settling in okay?” Gabe asked.
“Yeah, I love Rivers. Helena took me to the college yesterday and showed me around. It was great. I’m really fucking excited to be going there. The track is like fucking awesome.”
“Lena said you were running every morning.”
“Trying to find a path around the city that I like. Tomorrow will just be walking. I’ll probably baby my leg for the next week. The salve will help to heal up the wound, but it will be tender and easy to injure again.”
“I can’t smell anything, but that doesn’t mean Sean won’t be able to. Let’s head out. Well, you get dressed. Get into clothes that won’t be hard for you to get out of when you go to bed. Lena plans on getting you drunk.”
“I look forward to it.” Stiles waited until Gabe was gone, and he turned around to look at himself. He looked good. His cheeks were still a little round with what Kaïs called baby fat. He didn’t think that he was done growing just yet; Kaïs thought he might put another inch or so on. Stiles wasn’t sure.
The team was all in the living room. The kitchen looked pristine when Stiles picked up his mug from the table. He found that it hadn’t been refilled. He was glad. He settled into the chair that he had claimed his first morning he had woke up in the apartment. He was the youngest of the group, but there was always someone close to his age, if not in college, then just graduated and moved here to learn from Helena. He laughed when Gabe tossed something at him. It was a bottle of water. He frowned as Stiles had never seen anything like it in the place before.
“Self-filling. It’s magic. You need to drink half a bottle for every mug. Even us wolves do it so that Helena doesn’t become a pissed-off mother.”
“I’m younger than all of you except for Stiles,” Helena said.
“You are still the mom of the group,” Aria said.
Stiles could see that all of them were relaxing. He looked to see that the bottle that Gabe was filling his mug from was more purple in color. Theirs must have a little wolfsbane in it to make them able to actually get drunk. Sean looked a little sedate for how he had looked before.
“To Stiles’ first fight with the team,” Helena said as she held up her mug. Everyone held theirs up as well before taking a drink.
Stiles laughed and held up his mug when he was done with his drink. “To getting drunk legally for the first time.”
Ashley laughed so loud that he actually snorted. Stiles laughed, tucking his feet up to his chest. He listened as the team talked about the hunts they had been on for the last little while, giving Stiles information on the area’s players. He knew most of the stuff, but it was nice to hear it, along with the stuff that didn’t make it into reports that Celeste had given him.
This would be his family for the next little while, and he was looking forward to that.
Stiles hadn’t been sure what the hell to expect about his summer after freshman year. He had figured he would be shoved into some training camp. No, he had been shipped home to spend two weeks in San Francisco where his father came up as much as he could, including one whole week and then the following weekend. It wasn’t enough, but there was nothing that would be enough. Another week later in the summer, Stiles would be a little closer to Beacon Hills, but he still wasn’t going to set foot there. Stiles still had no clue when that would be, but now it was the middle of June, and he was in London. Stiles had no clue what he was doing in London, but here he was.
No one had come with him. He had boarded his flight that had been a layover in London, but instead of that, he had no ticket to head to France. Stiles literally had the money that he had before he had headed home. There was some American money, but mostly it was Euros that he had. He was still in the airport, trying to get a hold of Celeste or Kaïs. Even Helena wasn’t answering her phone. Hell, no one was. He groaned and sat up before heading to the nearest phone. He would call from a payphone. If they were ignoring him, he was going to be pissed off.
“Mieczysław Gajos?” a voice asked just as Stiles was picking up the phone.
“Yes.” Stiles turned to look at the person. It was a security guard for the airport. Stiles hung up the phone and looked at him. Stiles didn’t trust the man, so he put his hand behind his back to touch his dagger.
“I have a letter here from your aunt.”
“Who?” Stiles asked.
“Celeste Gajos. She said you were smart. I hope that you truly are.” The man handed over the letter and then just turned and left. Stiles glared at the man’s retreating back. He looked at the letter. He brushed his magic over it, and it seemed to be fine. He opened the flap, enjoying the sound of the paper tearing. The letter inside was short and to the point. Stiles didn’t even need to open it all the way as his aunt’s signature was at the bottom of the first fold.
Stiles, I hope that this finds you just fine. You have a month to live in London. One month to use what you have on you to survive. Be alive in the end; that is the only requirement. Your cards will not work, and you won’t be able to access anything you have had access to. At the end of the month, Kaïs and I will meet you at a secure location we will text you. You may text us during the month to scream and rant, but we will not answer unless things are dire. If you are injured and cannot protect yourself, message us. This is to test how you do on your own in an unknown location.
Stiles glared at the letter and was about to crumble it when he heard something. He opened the letter all the way, and inside was a key. He had no clue what the key was. He figured that it was a clue to something that would help him, but he would need to figure out what it was first. Stiles shook his head and sighed before he stuffed the letter into his backpack. He had been traveling light so that nothing was checked, so there was nothing to wait for. Instead, he just had the backpack and a small carry-on bag. Thankfully, the weather wasn’t that different from back in San Francisco, so Stiles didn’t have to worry about buying clothes. He had his magic, and it was the best way to defend himself. He just needed to find a place where he could bunk down to sleep.
Steeling himself, Stiles headed out of the airport. He plopped down on the bench and waited for the bus to come and pick up people who were leaving the airport and didn’t want to pay to park a car. Stiles knew enough about London from a Google spiral that he could get himself around it. The first thing he needed to do was find food. He hadn’t eaten on the plane, and he wasn’t going to drop money on food inside of the place now that he was on his own for a month.
Stiles knew that he should have expected this. He had heard Robbie and Helena both talk about a month trip to cities after their freshman years of college, but he had thought it was an actual trip, not being stranded. Stiles knew that he wasn’t alone either. The whole texting thing was something, but there was no way he was alone in the city. Someone was watching him.
There was nothing really to do but wait. So Stiles played on his phone. It was at full charge after using the charging port in first class to make sure it was good for him to fuck around during his layover. He heard someone talking near him and looked up, shocked to see that it was Jackson Whittemore. He nearly dropped his phone. Jackson looked at him, his eyes going up and down Stiles’ body like he appreciated it.
“Danny, listen, I’m sure that you did see Stiles in Beacon Hills. It’s Beacon Hills, and his father is there.”
Stiles really wanted to hear what Danny was saying on the other end.
“What?” Jackson stopped looking at Stiles and looked away. “What do you mean that he hasn’t been in Beacon Hills since the summer that I left? His father is the only person in the world that matters to him. What do you mean that you can’t find anything on him? Did McCall get him killed?”
Jackson actually sounded worried about him. Stiles wondered what had happened that made it so that Stiles was here right now just when Jackson was as well.
“Okay. Look, I’m still at Heathrow, and I see someone that I wouldn’t mind taking back to the house and fucking into the mattress. So I’m going to let you go. Try and find him. I would hate it if McCall got him killed.”
Stiles wasn’t sure what he believed what he was hearing. Jackson hung up the phone and walked over to Stiles.
“In town long?” Jackson asked.
“All month long,” Stiles answered.
“Want to go back to my place and spend a little time on the mattress?” Jackson asked.
“Sure.” Stiles wasn’t about to actually have sex with Jackson, but that would at least get him into London with no money spent. He was here alone for a month; it was his choice to show Jackson who he was. “What about that guy you are looking for?”
“An old high school friend that I’m a little worried about. I asked my friend Danny to find him. His phone works, but I haven’t got a response to things that have happened back home.”
Stiles nodded his head. His old phone was still on, and he checked it on occasion, but now it was back in France. He was here, so there would be no checking it. He was sure that Helena was checking it on occasion. It was how anyone in Beacon Hills was going to be getting in contact with him, even if he had a phone in Mieczysław’s name on Celeste’s plan now. It was just better that way.
“You must be worried about him,” Stiles said.
Jackson jerked his head to the side and toward where the bus was that would take them to long-term parking. Stiles followed along behind him, carrying his bag. He wondered who was watching him at this moment or if that would start later after he was out of the airport. The car that they went to was very fancy. It wasn’t a Porsche like Jackson used to drive; no, Stiles was sure this car was a James Bond movie.
“Fancy,” Stiles said.
“Thanks. I like things that go fast,” Jackson said.
Stiles nodded his head. He waited for Jackson to pop the trunk before he slipped his bag in beside Jackson’s. He carried his backpack up front with him. He didn’t want to be defenseless in a car with Jackson after what he was about to reveal. He was pretty sure that his aunt wasn’t going to like it but hiding with Jackson was better than nothing.
“So you are worried about this Stiles person? Why?” Stiles looked around as they headed out of the parking lot. Jackson paid with a card that Stiles was pretty sure was limitless, but then he had one just like it in his bag. He wondered about what had happened to Jackson since getting into London since his father had never given him a card like that before.
“He was in a mess, and I was able to get out, but he wasn’t, and it wasn’t until this past year that I started to really notice that he wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought he was. He was loyal, and he cared about people living and dying, even if he hated them. I wasn’t aware of just how loyal he was until after everything was over.”
“Sounds like it was a hoot for you back in Beacon Hills.”
Jackson nodded as he got into the flow of traffic around the airport. Stiles knew the second that Jackson figured out what Stiles had said. His hands tightened on the steering wheel, and there was a creaking noise.
“So funny story, Jackson Whittemore. If you had been about five minutes later with coming out of the airport, I would have been headed on a bus to the city.”
“I’m very hard to kill.”
“Oh, I know you are. I watched you die and come back to life once.” Stiles reached out and plucked his ring off of his finger. “I’m actually touched you cared enough to have Danny start to hunt me down, but please, have him stop. That’s nothing good down that path right now.”
“Stiles,” Jackson said.
There was nothing else from Jackson as he changed lanes to get off the highway and into the main part of London. He pulled into a parking lot of what looked like a very run-down restaurant and turned to look at Stiles.
“What the hell?”
“Magic ring to make sure that no one knows it’s me. I’ll explain more on that soon, but why are you looking for me?”
“I learned a few things over the last year at college. I found a pack, and they have taken me in and taught me. I don’t live with my parents anymore. I didn’t like being pulled away from everything that I knew, and we fought a lot over it. I got my trust, and I just never looked back. What the hell happened to you?”
“Well, I have a long story on that, but it’s better suited for an apartment, not a parking lot. Unless you don’t want me to go back to your place. I can understand if you don’t.”
“No, it’s fine. I’ll text Danny quickly and tell him to not look into you and that I will explain later. He’s working on other stuff, so he shouldn’t be too worried about it.”
Jackson’s apartment was nearly as posh as Stiles would have thought it would be, but then he felt the wards on the place and found that whoever the emissary was for the pack that Jackson was in took their job seriously. The place was pretty fucking pricey, but it wasn’t gaudy. It was nothing like what Stiles thought Jackson would live like. The place felt fucking warm. Though Stiles had changed a lot since Beacon Hills, Jackson was still the same asshole in his head.
“So,” Jackson said as he walked over and grabbed two cans of something from the fridge. He walked over and handed one to Stiles.
“This isn’t even the good stuff for you.”
“No, but even this won’t get you drunk. I feel like I need the burn of it or something. So spill, Stilinski,” Jackson said.
Stiles sighed but popped the top open on the beer that Jackson had given him. He took a drink of it and found that the taste was pretty good.
“I was outside of the group,” Stiles started.
“That’s part of what I heard from Danny. That you were the outcast. Danny knew about Werewolves, by the way. He told me that he knew. I guess he had found weird shit once and looked into it. He didn’t know it was local at all until the shit started to go down the summer that I left. I guess an alpha tried to hit on him? I have no clue as he said it didn’t matter since it was over with. You were on the outside, and McCall didn’t even notice when you weren’t in school for a while. I found that funny, and then I didn’t when Danny stopped talking about you.”
“Well, there is a lot I am not going to tell you at all. Family secrets.”
“Stiles, your father is a Sheriff; there are not a lot of family secrets to be had.”
Stiles shrugged his shoulders and was about to go into the story when someone knocked on Jackson’s door.
“Hold on, that’s probably my alpha or his left hand.”
Stiles slipped the ring on, and when Jackson checked on him just before opening the door, he had a shocked look on his face.
“Gareth,” Jackson said.
“I was told you brought a visitor here and that I needed to talk to them.”
“Of course, Alpha,” Jackson said, and he stepped back.
An older man stepped inside, and Stiles knew him on sight as someone who had come and visited Celeste once while he was in high school. The alpha had never seen Stiles, but he had seen him.
“Alpha Gareth,” Stiles said.
“Hunter Gajos, you are most welcome in the building, as are all who are peaceful, but I have to question what exactly you are doing here.”
“Well, Sir, I was picked up by Jackson here for a good time. I didn’t know he was one of your betas, or I would have introduced myself first.”
Jackson looked confused as hell.
“I see. Well, don’t be shocked when Jackson doesn’t call back. He’s still finding himself.”
“Ah, well, Sir, I went through my last year of high school with a friends-with-benefits relationship with my best friend. College is a little harder to pin that down. I’m in town for the month, so if I don’t see him again, it will be no skin off of my nose,” Stiles said.
“Give your aunt my best and tell her that the next time she comes to visit Helena, she should stop by here. I have a few agents that I would love her to take down a peg,” Gareth said.
“I will tell her.”
“Jackson, we have a pack meeting tomorrow afternoon.”
“Of course,” Jackson said.
“Your friend can come if he would like. I would love his opinions on a few items.”
“Sure, if I am still around.”
Gareth left, shutting the door behind himself.
“So, what the hell was that?”
“I said I had family stuff I wasn’t going to tell you. There is a little that I now have to tell you, but Stiles Stilinski is not in this world anymore. Mieczysław Gajos is the name I go by. It’s the name that matches this face.”
“Where did that name come from?” Jackson asked.
“Mieczysław is why I went by Mischief in grade school and then went by Stiles later. It’s a name that I couldn’t even say, and Mischief was the closest that I could get, and so it’s what Mom called me. When she started to get sick, I didn’t want to be called it anymore, and I latched onto Stiles. It was a nickname for my paternal grandfather, who I didn’t know was an abusive asshole at the time. I then tried to change it, but dad told me that it was good that someone good was using it again.”
“You have changed,” Jackson said.
“So have you,” Stiles answered. He plucked the ring from his finger again and laid it on the coffee table. He grabbed his beer and drained it before standing up. Jackson walked closer to him.
“Were you seriously going to come here and just fuck me and leave without me knowing who you are?”
“No, I was going to tell you who I was before that. I saw the way you looked at the other me. I didn’t think you would be serious about me like this.” Stiles waved at his actual person.
“You got fit,” Jackson said.
“No, I was always fit; I just hid it from most people. I wasn’t built like you, but I had muscle.”
“I can see that you do now.”
“You really want to take me to bed?” Stiles asked.
“I don’t see why not. We are both hot, and there is nothing better to do right now.”
Stiles shook his head at that.
“Actually, there is one thing better to do right now.”
“What is that?” Jackson asked with a smirk. Like he already knew that he was going to be able to shoot down what Stiles said.
“Eat lunch. I’m starved. I was going to eat during my layover, but it was delayed.”
“Well, there is a thing where you are dumped in a random city to see exactly how you survive with little money and no place to live. I have a key that’s supposed to help me, but I have no clue what it’s to. I need to research, but that’s better on a laptop. I need to find a library to use.”
“Or you can use my laptop while I am ordering Chinese. You still like the same stuff as in high school?”
“You remember what I like?” Stiles asked.
“It was the same stuff that I like,” Jackson said with a shrug.
“I never knew that.”
“I would see you eating it with McCall and was a little jealous. You only ever got that when your dad would drop it off for your lunch. You were always so excited to see him when he dropped it off. I was jealous.”
“Huh,” Stiles said.
“I never thought you would be jealous of me. Scott always was jealous of you. The flashy car, the being good at lacrosse and swimming. Being captain of both. I was only ever jealous that Lydia gave you the time of day.”
“My relationship with her was abusive. My alpha here taught me that. I wanted to go back to her, for her, but he made me see what was wrong with that. She pitted me against other people to have me prove that I was better. She flirted with other boys to make me jealous.”
“I saw all of that, but I was still too stuck in, Lydia was smart, so if she was doing that kind of thing, you deserved it. I understand now that no one deserves to be treated like that.”
“Danny said you didn’t come home, but he swore he saw you there the other day.”
“Nah, I was close to Beacon Hills but not in Beacon Hills. He might have seen someone who looked like me. I have no clue what Adam does to make everything think I haven’t left my father to rot.” Stiles knew that Adam didn’t walk around with Stiles’ face, but he could leave flashes of it around town for those who knew him. He didn’t care much what happened in Beacon Hills as long as his father was safe.
“You don’t go home?”
“I don’t want to run into Derek or Scott. I don’t feel like talking anything out with them about what led me to leave Beacon Hills.”
“You’ll have to tell me one day.”
“I will. Now, food and computer. Where’s the laptop?” Stiles looked at where Jackson waved to see that it was over on a desk in the corner.”
“So, how long are you in London?”
“A month.” Stiles sat down at the computer and booted it up. It went right to the screen where Stiles didn’t need to log in. He fucked around with the browser when it popped up a few things he didn’t care about. Then he pulled up Google and started his search.
“HEY!” Jackson yelled before he kicked at Stiles’ chair.
Stiles startled and jumped up, grabbing Jackson around the throat and taking him down, the dagger pressed just under his chin. Jackson’s eyes were wide, but he did nothing else but just stared at Stiles.
“Well, that answers that,” Jackson said.
“What?” Stiles asked.
“That being pinned down gets me hard.”
Stiles nearly scrambled back, but he stayed where he was, dagger still at Jackson’s throat.
“Or it’s the knife at your throat, or being dominated,” Stiles said.
Jackson laughed. He rolled his hips, and Stiles could feel the start of an erection there.
“I’m too hungry to want sex without food,” Stiles said as he stood up and put away his dagger. He felt Jackson’s eyes on him.
“How many weapons do you have on your person?” Jackson asked as he got to his feet as well.
“Two daggers and my magic. That magic is what should worry you more,” Stiles said. He followed his nose into the kitchen area and found that Jackson had ordered enough for more than just the two of them, even if Jackson was a Werewolf.
“I figure that the more food we have, the less we need to cook. I like cooking, but if we are fucking, I’m spending all day in bed,” Jackson said.
“I can agree with that. So let’s eat and then fuck.”
“Did you find what you were looking for?” Jackson asked.
“I did. It’s a key to a locker at one of the bus stations. I need to figure out which one, but that’s a different spiral for later. I’ll take the laptop into the bedroom for after we fuck. Thought tomorrow I could head out and get whatever is there for me.”
“I can drive you, and we can pick up breakfast while out or something like that. So a month…where are you going to be staying?”
“No clue. Depends on if I can find a cheap place to stay.”
“Or stay here. It’s safe here. The pack will protect you. My alpha is scared of you.”
“I think he was more scared that I would get upset at being a booty call.”
“Are you Celeste Gajos’ nephew?” Jackson asked.
“I heard my uncle say that her nephew was going to be taking her part of the family and that Robbie was going to be alpha when Kaïs was ready to give it up. You are going to lead the biggest hunting family in the world?” Jackson passed over two containers and
“Well, I hadn’t set out to do that when I left Beacon Hills, but I plan on it now. It’s heady. I was just trying my best to learn everything that I could to help Scott, and I ended up in the biggest fucking shit. I went to New York to get away and found out that my mother’s family are all Hunters, only the good kind. The ones that would have killed Gerard for even thinking of doing any of what he did.” Stiles started to dig into his food, and he laughed as Jackson looked like he was sure what to ask next.
“Tell me everything that you can,” Jackson said.
Stiles had only ever been to Gajos Pack meetings, and those were few and far between; the whole pack was never in one place at the same time since the pack was humans and Weres.
Looking around the room they were in, Stiles really hoped that this pack wasn’t like all London-based Packs. There were seven. This one was the biggest. Stiles looked at the men and women who were sitting around the tables and tried to figure them out.
Two of the tables held men and women at them that Stiles had learned to never cross paths with. His aunt had made sure he knew that the kind of job they held was more important than them being Werewolves and the like. Spies, they were and the kind that was sent on missions they didn’t always expect to come back from. Stiles wanted to know what kind of hell Jackson had got himself into with this pack.
Jackson was sitting beside him at a table that was just big enough for the two of them. Every single Wolf there had to be able to smell that they had sex and a lot of it. Many eyes looked at Stiles when he had arrived with Jackson, but no one questioned what he was doing there.
A young man stepped up to him, and Stiles gave him a smile.
“Young Master Gajos, welcome to the Mallory Pack.”
“Thank you. I’ve seen good hospitality since I came back to the building with Jackson.”
“My name is Quincy,” the man said as he held out his hand.
“No, it’s really not, but that’s okay. Mieczysław Gajos, at your service. Thank you for allowing me to your pack meeting.”
“Your aunt doesn’t do meetings like this, but then her pack is massive. Dinner will be here soon. Gareth is getting ready to come in to talk to all of us.”
“Quin,” one of the agents from the table that Stiles wasn’t going to go hear called out.
“Who was that?” Stiles asked as Quincy walked away and settled in over at the table with the agents.
“That’s the pack’s left hand. Quincy is the name that he gives everyone. No one really knows who he is. He works with Gareth and the agents.”
“Ah,” Stiles said. So he had dropped himself in the middle of a pack that had people who were in the spy business. He didn’t rightly care about that. He was here for a month, in Jackson’s bed if he could wrangle that, and then he was gone and maybe having a good deal with the Mallory Pack in the meantime. He hoped so, at least.
Stiles listened as people talked. No one was shuttering themselves around him. No one feared him, and he loved it. There was never fear in the eyes of anyone who was good when his name was brought up. Not like the Argents.
“Jackson, does your friend like fire?” one of the agents asked as he walked over to the table after talking with Quincy.
“I like fire to sit in front of, but that’s about it, really. Why?”
“There is a party on the next full moon. Quincy’s family’s land. If you are still in Jackson’s bed, you are welcome to come.”
“Well, so far, he’s talked me into staying tonight. Let’s see how long he can talk me into staying,” Stiles said with a laugh.
The agent seemed to like Stiles’ answer, and he laughed, clasping Stiles on the shoulder before wandering away.
“Is it always like this?” Stiles asked.
“Yes, those there are not always around. It depends on their job. Tonight the right hand is missing, and Gareth is going to be late.”
Jackson handed Stiles a glass of wine as a tray of it moved from the room’s back area.
“Is this place all pack?”
“It’s one of the ones across this area of the city, yes. This is the main one. It’s why I was given the apartment here. Since I’m from a different pack, to begin with, he wants to make sure I am protected. He fears that someone will try and use me to get to the Hale pack. Since I’m a Hale bite,” Jackson said.
“I see. Well, at least he is protecting you. So what exactly happens at these meetings?”
“What you see. It’s less of a meeting and more of a way for everyone to check-in. We talk and get to know each other a little better. The pack is big but spread around with the jobs. Since the handful of us that are in college are home, we are having a meeting so that everyone can check-in.”
“What about parents?”
“There are two Wolves that went to college that have parents in the pack. Others are runaways or orphans. He takes in the hard cases and tries to make them good or finds them a pack that would do well with them. I was pretty horrible when I joined the pack, I was the same asshole I was in Beacon Hills, but they beat it into my head that they weren’t going to throw me away. I could be the biggest asshole, and I would be stuck with them. I bit so many people that I swear I was feral that summer. I got settled into the pack here, and I’ve been happy.”
“You went to therapy as well, didn’t you?” Stiles asked.
“So did I. My aunt had me in it, and then when we found my magic, I went to even more. My magic is will-based, belief-based. So anything that would eat away at me inside had to be purged. I’m still in therapy. Though I think next year I won’t be. Rivers wants to make sure that being in France and away from the bulk of my family isn’t going to make my magic go haywire.”
“So you always said you were magical.”
“He’s very magical and very inventive. I’ve seen the specs on your pill, Mieczysław,” Quincy said as he sat down as he pulled over a chair from another table.”
“That was him? I heard James talking about that last week.”
“Yes, that was me. It’s all magic. Still, I don’t like boasting about it. Not in unsafe spaces,” Stiles looked around. He trusted that Jackson trusted these people.
“And you are just as smart as your aunt said.”
Gareth entered the room and behind him was a group of people carrying in boxes of what Stiles hoped was food.
“Humans first, including guests. Jackson, help Mieczysław through the line,” Gareth called as he walked to the other side of the room, and the boxes were settled down.
Jackson grabbed Stiles around the back of his head and pulled him close as he stood up.
“That sounds good,” Stiles said.
“He gets the best food.”
Stiles nodded his head and followed Jackson toward food. He was given a plate and then asked for his drink preference. It was a lot like a family, just a little different than his own.
Stiles wasn’t sure what woke him up. He stayed still and listened to the sounds around him. He was still in his bed, well, Jackson’s bed. Jackson was asleep somewhere behind him, and he could hear the snoring. It wasn’t a horrible snore, just something from the way that he was lying. Stiles knew if he poked him, Jackson would move his head, and then it would stop. There were no other sounds in the apartment, so Stiles wasn’t sure what had woke him up. Then he heard the soft chime again. Jackson’s phone. It wasn’t a text or email that was important, which was a good thing as Stiles wasn’t going to wake his ass up. Jackson needed his beauty sleep, and they had been out late as hell. London’s party scene was a lot of fun, and Jackson loved to take Stiles around to it. Stiles learned a lot about how Werewolves interacted with humans in a setting where they weren’t known to them. Some of the clubs were supernatural only, with Hunters’ addition, but mostly it was a full-on mix.
Jackson moved, and Stiles wasn’t sure that Jackson’s phone had woken him up. Stiles looked down to see that what he thought was the blankets bunched around his stomach was Jackson’s arm. Jackson was wrapped around him. Even when he and Liam had been at the height of their relationship, they didn’t do this. They didn’t cuddle. Stiles wasn’t sure what this meant. Liam hadn’t been a wolf, though, and Stiles had seen the way that his aunt’s pack had been around each other. They weren’t able to not touch in some ways. Wolves were tactile and especially with those that they considered pack. Stiles wasn’t in Jackson’s Pack, though. Stiles wasn’t anywhere near pack, but he had to admit that it felt food.
Closing his eyes, Stiles willed himself back to sleep. It was too early to be awake and also just too early to be thinking deep thoughts.
When Stiles woke up again, he had moved, and he wasn’t sure that the way he was now was better than he had been before. Jackson was on his back, and Stiles was half on top of him; their legs were tangled together. Stiles’ head was over Jackson’s heart, and Jackson’s arm was wrapped around his back. They were cuddled like lovers, even more than they had been before. They were both hard, which was a standard for most mornings.
“I can smell you thinking, the smoky smell is putting me off,” Jackson said before he stretched. As soon as he was done, his arm was wrapped around Stiles’ back again. His hand rubbed and down before sliding down to cup Stiles’ ass cheek. He gripped it and then was manhandling Stiles exactly where he wanted him, which was on top with their cocks touching. They both slept naked as it was just easier given how many times they had woken up in the night for sex. They were both young as hell with a high libido.
“You cannot smell me thinking,” Stiles said. He leaned forward, putting his hands on either side of Jackson’s head, and looked down at him. He gave Jackson a grin before rocking his hips into him. Jackson growled, his eyes flashing blue for a few seconds before he surged up to roll them. There was nothing more arousing than Jackson manhandling him. He kind of loved it—especially when they were on the dance floor, and Jackson could be himself. Stiles and Liam had been pretty much matching on strength and size, but Jackson had more muscle on him, and even without his supernatural strength, they were no real match without Stiles playing dirty. Which Stiles would gladly do.
“I can too. There is always a smell like that one tea that Quincy drank a week ago whenever you think about deep things. I wanna smell something else.” Jackson rocked their cocks together, nothing was slicking the way, but that was fine. They wouldn’t stay like this, especially with Stiles’ plans.
“Slick me up,” Stiles said.
Jackson growled a little as he always did when Stiles was like this. He pushed up and reached over for the lube. Stiles used that time to roll onto his front and then pushed his ass up. Jackson made sure that Stiles was slick, and as soon as he was dropping the lube back onto the nightstand, Stiles moved. He wasn’t being held down in any way, so he launched himself off the bed, knocking Jackson onto the floor on the other side of the bed that Stiles got off of.
Stiles shot down the hall heading for the living room. He nearly tripped over the stupid rug in the living room, but he made his way to the corner that he wanted. Just as he spun around to face Jackson, Jackson came out of the hallway. He stopped and locked eyes with Stiles. His eyes flashed blue, and they stayed like that as Jackson’s beta shift moved over his body. He was calling forth just the wolf side of him, which wasn’t all that unusual. The Kanima was still there inside of him. He could call the tail and the claws out, and his skin would get a little scaly. It took concentration, but Gareth thought that he would be able to pull it as his normal shift with time. Stiles thought he was kind of hot now that he wasn’t scared to death of the Kanima.
“Don’t run,” Jackson said.
“Why? Don’t you want to throw me down and fuck me after a good catch?” Stiles asked. He needed something to put distance between them again. He needed that distance, or he would do something stupid, and he couldn’t do anything that stupid right now. He had years ahead of him where his life wasn’t his own.
Jackson growled, and his body surged forward as he ran around the table that Stiles was using to put something between them. Stiles didn’t go over or around the table but just shot fully off to the side and into the kitchen. He knew what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it. He just needed to get the hell away from Jackson to get space between them. As long as he stayed out of the hallway, he was fine. Once he was back there, he was trapped.
The rush from the running had Stiles getting a little giddy. He was still thinking well enough to stay just out of Jackson’s reach, and Jackson only got claws near him once. The sting of that scratch was long gone, overtaken by lust. He wanted to keep it going, but he knew that the longer Jackson was denied his prey, the rougher the sex was going to be, and so Stiles wanted to make sure it was as long as he could get.
“I’m going to get you. I’m going to hold you down and fuck you.”
“Only if you can catch me,” Stiles said. He watched how Jackson moved, making sure that he knew where Jackson was going to go.
As soon as Jackson moved, Stiles moved as well. It wasn’t until Stiles was fully committed to how he was moving that he knew he made a mistake. He wasn’t going to escape Jackson this time.
Jackson took him out at the waist, carrying him down to the floor, but he made sure that Stiles’ head didn’t crack off the floor. He was there along Stiles’ back, radiating heat and lust. Teeth gripped Stiles’ shoulder to hold him in place as Jackson settled to trap him. Jackson’s teeth didn’t break the skin, though, but the threat was there. Stiles stayed still as Jackson grabbed his arms and pressed them into the floor above his head before letting go with his teeth.
“Stay,” Jackson said.
“Make me,” Stiles answered.
Jackson’s growl was actually a little scary, which was something that Stiles was shocked at. He had around those who were scarier than Jackson, but he stayed when Jackson let go of him. It took only seconds for Stiles to figure out what Jackson was doing. He was lifted up and carried to the bedroom and dropped onto the bed. Stiles didn’t have to roll onto his front before he had two hundred pounds of Werewolf on his back. Jackson grabbed his wrists and pressed them into the bed before sliding down. His cock dragged over Stiles’ back and then down further to settle between his cheeks. Jackson spread Stiles’ cheeks with one hand before pushing forward.
Stiles gasped as he was breached. His body was tight from the run, and the way that Jackson was sitting on his legs didn’t allow him to spread them. It didn’t hurt, they had too much sex lately for that, but the breach felt different. It was almost like it was his first time without the pain of the burn of the muscles. When Jackson was fully inside of him, he paused, his mouth touching Stiles’ neck. There was the feel of teeth on either side of his neck, and Stiles stilled. He was in the worst position of his life, and years before, he never would have let a wolf get him like this. He groaned when Jackson didn’t move after a few seconds, his cock still far inside of Stiles and his mouth over his neck. He moved slowly, making sure his teeth never pierced Stiles’ skin but holding him in place as he fucked him.
The sex wasn’t nearly as hard and as fast as stiles hoped it would be. When Stiles didn’t fight back or try and escape, Jackson let go of his neck, but he kept hold of his hands, pressing them into the bed just at the top of Stiles’ head. This felt different than any other time they had wrestled a little before settling down into sex. It wasn’t just that Jackson was topping either. They swapped around, usually depending on who wanted to be the one on their back. Last night they had gone two to one with Stiles fucking Jackson twice. There was nothing for Stiles by lying there and taking it.
At least he knew exactly what he was in for when he pulled Jackson into a chase scene on the morning of the full moon. It would be cresting later that night, and Stiles knew that they were planning on going to the party that Quincy was throwing at one of the various halls around the city.
“Come,” Jackson growled into Stiles’ ear, and it was like his voice and mind were connected to Stiles’ dick as he did. A few thrusts later, and Jackson was coming as well. Stiles shuddered through his orgasm and slumped down onto the bed as Jackson finally let go of his hands. Jackson slumped down onto him, half on him and half off. It was not exactly normal, but Stiles liked it. He closed his eyes to get a little more sleep. He needed it to stay up late with a bunch of partying Werewolves later that evening.
“No,” Jackson said as he held open the door of the shop for Stiles.
“Oh, come on. I only have like days left here. I have no clue when they are going to show up for me. I have my phone, and Celeste hasn’t checked in this week at all. I’m afraid that means they are just waiting to find me. I need one honest order of fish and chips before heading back.”
“Fine,” Jackson said. “Not for lunch. For dinner. Let’s get these back, and I’ll get started on lunch.”
“Dude, it’s like two.”
“Yes, and it won’t take long, and we didn’t get out of bed and eat pop-tarts until like eleven. You are not going to starve while I cook.”
“Or we can just drop these off and go get them for lunch, and you can cook for dinner. So come on, and let’s do that.”
Stiles knew by the way that Jackson rolled his eyes that he had won. He pumped his arm in the air and jumped a little. He nearly dropped the one bag of groceries that Jackson had given him to carry and was glad that he hadn’t been given the eggs. He started after Jackson, who hadn’t stopped to wait for him. He never did the asshole.
“So, what exactly are you making for dinner?” Stiles asked.
“It’s a surprise, and since you are making me eat fish and chips, you don’t get to know until you eat it.”
“Asshole,” Stiles said as he bumped his shoulder into Jackson’s. Jackson bumped back a little harder, and Stiles ran into the guy who was coming at him. “Sorry.”
Stiles knew the second that his wallet was lifted. He dropped the bag and spun around to grab the guy. He pulled the wallet from his hand, where he was trying to put it into his pocket.
“Next time, lift from someone who doesn’t know exactly what everything on their body feels like,” Stiles said. He didn’t need to say that it was magic. His magic gave off a buzz if his wallet was taken from him unless his hand was the one doing it. It wasn’t punitive since he had people snag his wallet from his pockets when he was holding things all the time at college.
“Get the hell out of here,” Jackson said.
The kid took off. He looked to be no older than they were, but he still seemed younger. Probably because he hadn’t lived through the shit that Stiles had so far in his life. He watched as the kid turned a corner, but before he started up again, Stiles felt something. He looked at his wallet and saw that there was now a logo in magic on it.
“He was a plant. Let’s get home,” Stiles said.
Getting back to the apartment was easy, and Stiles let Jackson put up the food while looking at his wallet. He could see the pulse of magic on it, but he wasn’t sure what it was. He touched it, and it was like it was testing him. He pulled his finger back before it was done.
“Well?” Jackson asked.
“I think that someone has figured out that I have magic, and they want to test me. I just don’t know if I want to take their test or not.”
“The Stiles of a few years ago would have done it, no matter what.”
“Well, I grew up,” Stiles said.
Jackson hummed and leaned against the table. He cocked a hip up onto the edge of it.
Stiles could see his eyes watching the wallet as if it was going to jump up and bite him. Stiles didn’t know that the wallet wouldn’t if Stiles did nothing with it. It might even start talking like the stupid letters in Harry Potter. He really hoped not as that would mean that he would need to get a new wallet, and he really liked this one. Helena had bought it for him for passing his first year of college without killing someone in his classes that asked stupid questions. Which had been a big thing as Stiles thought he was going to spell a few of them silent just on the first day.
“What are you going to do?” Jackson asked.
“I have no clue,” Stiles said. He looked at the wallet and then sighed before he pushed his thumb into the glowing bit again. The magic on it crested and then disappeared. “I guess I shall find out what happens next.”
“Do you feel anything?”
“Should I?” Stiles asked.
“I have no clue. I don’t know much about magic at all. You are the expert.”
“Well, I have no clue what is going to happen.”
A knock at the door had Stiles turning to look at it. He sighed and looked at Jackson, who started for the door.
“Yes?” Jackson asked when he opened the door.
“I’m here for the magic-user,” a woman said.
“Sorry, you can fuck off and talk to Gareth.”
“Gareth doesn’t have any new magic users.”
“He’s under Gareth’s protection while he’s visiting me. You still need to go through the alpha, Melody.”
“You know who I am. Gareth has trained you well. Give him to me, and I won’t kill you, pretty boy.”
“You think that I’ll just give him up? For what?”
Stiles had enough. He stepped around to where he could take in the woman at the door. Her aura around her body was dark as fuck. What was she doing living in London? How had the packs not killed her already? She was a dark magic user; it seemed she was dark as hell. Unless no one else knew it.
“You make threats and never follow through. Go back to your basement, Melody,” Jackson said.
“Give him to me,” Melody said, and there was magic in her voice, but Jackson just laughed.
Stiles stepped up to the door and opened it up all the way, standing beside Jackson. “Who are you?”
“Melody Black, I’m the local head of the magical branch. You are on my land, and I won’t let you stay unless you join my group.”
“Good thing I am leaving to go home, huh? I just visiting and found a nice fuck buddy in Jackson here.”
“What is your name?” Melody asked.
“You gave me your name easy; it doesn’t mean I’m just going to give you mine. I want nothing to do with you.”
“You will come with me.” Melody’s voice was mixed with magic again.
“I guessed when my aunt asked me to not cause an international incident, she meant it, but I just can’t.” Stiles held out his hand, and Melody smiled and reached out to shake it. He felt the dark magic all over and wondered if maybe it was that she was that good at hiding it. His aunt said that he would learn what he was best at while in college, but he wasn’t sure that she was right; maybe she was with this.
“What are you doing? How are you doing this?” Melody asked as she dropped down to her knees.
“How am I doing what?” Stiles asked.
Melody screamed, and even Stiles could hear the sounds of doors opening up and the thudding of feet as the wolves in the building headed toward them. The first to arrive was Quincy.
“What the hell have you done?” Quincy asked.
“I caused an international incident. I would go ahead and call my aunt, Quincy. The new head of magic for London isn’t going to be happy, and I will protect myself from whatever they do until I can prove what I found as soon as I touched her.”
A Wolf stepped up behind Quincy and said something into his ear. The Wolf had ice blue eyes when he was in his human form and golden yellow when he was in wolf form. Stiles was pretty sure that the man had killed a lot of people, but he felt no guilt over those deaths. Stiles looked at Jackson, who still had blue eyes in his beta shift. Stiles would love to get rid of those. He hoped that he could with time.
“Okay, Jackson, bring him to Gareth’s building. James will give you an escort in case someone else felt what happened. The rest of the Wolves and I will deal with her. She’s alive, yes?”
“Yes, just in a coma of sorts while magic decides what to do with her.”
“You invoked magic?” Quincy asked.
“Oh, yes, I did. I made sure that she paid for what she did. She’ll not hurt anyone unless someone pulls her out of it.”
“You’ve been hiding a lot from us, Little Spark,” James said.
“I don’t have to tell you all anything. I promised your alpha I would play nice unless someone came after me. I want to know why none of you came to protect me. I mean, if she had made off with me, the Gajos would have come down on this city and taken out anything in their way.”
The few Wolves who Stiles could see looked away. It seemed Melody had been the one to make them all think she was good. He wasn’t sure what the hell was going on in London, but it seemed that at least Gareth wasn’t doing the best that he could in protecting it, but this one seemed to be on all of the alphas.
Stiles was sitting and being quiet for once as the main alphas for London were all sitting in the room inside of a building that they had gone into using underground tunnels that they had come off of the Thames and into. The building was laced with magic, and Stiles was pretty sure it was some kind of official building. He probably shouldn’t be in there, but then he didn’t think that Jackson was either. Each alpha had their second and third or left and right hands, as Stiles likes to call them. That had started when the Wolves had moved into the higher up ranks in English society hundreds of years ago and had adopted a little bit of hierarchy like the King and Queen of the time.
The history and lore of shifters worldwide were interesting, especially when it wasn’t tainted with the Argent slant about making them all beasts. Stiles still mourned the amount of information that had been lost in the Hale fire as he had learned that Peter Hale’s collection of texts on their history of the world was unparalleled. Stiles hadn’t asked him about it after finding that out. He hoped that Peter could rebuild it, but he feared there were texts that Peter had the only copy of.
“He’s an impudent child who was sent here to teach him a lesson,” one of the alphas nearly yelled.
“Actually, all of the Gajos hunters are sent to a random city with almost nothing to see what they do. He was smart and just shacked up with someone,” Quincy said.
“Gajos? You are really telling me that this is someone from the Gajos’?” the alpha asked.
“I mean, he’s a Gajos, like Matriarch Gajos’ nephew and next in line,” Gareth said.
The other alphas all paled and then looked at Melody, who was still in the coma. Three others from the city’s magical council were there with her, trying to figure out what was going on.
“I don’t believe you,” one of the alphas said.
Stiles sighed. He looked at Jackson just in time to see the door beyond open. Celeste, Kaïs, Robbie, and Helena all stepped inside. The only person missing was Adam, and Stiles wasn’t shocked that he was there. He was still in Beacon Hills.
“Celeste,” Gareth said.
“Gareth, I hear that you have an issue with a magic-user attacking your head of the council. Your normal Hunters called me in since I was in the city looking for my nephew.”
Jackson snorted. It drew the eyes of the four Gajos to them. Stiles smirked and waved.
“Well, I found my nephew, and should I be saying that I’m shocked you are in the middle of this?” Celeste asked.
“Who is the pretty boy?”
“Jackson Whittemore. He’s from Beacon Hills, California, and used to be Kanima. He’s a great lay,” Stiles said.
“This is why no one found you in any of the spots that I figured you would go?” Celeste asked.
“He offered sex the day I got off the plane. He had just landed himself. I had a little time, and then I just never left. I saw no reason to. Though I guess it’s good as he was there to protect me when Melody there tried to take me.”
“One of my Wolves heard it all, but he didn’t think that she really meant she was going to take him until they all felt the rise of magic in the building,” Gareth said.
“So someone tried to kidnap my nephew that all alphas in the city promised to protect?”
“Well, he was protected. He goes nowhere without Jackson on his six, and they mostly just live in Jackson’s flat,” Quincy said.
“You were supposed to be learning how to move around the city and not draw attention. To learn how to be on your own.”
“Yes, well, you dropped me in this city, and I took the first offer that I had.” Stiles shrugged and leaned back in his chair again.
Melody screamed, and everyone was moving. Hands moved to protect the alphas, Robbie and Helena moved to protect their parents, and Jackson shoved Stiles behind him. Stiles watched as the magic users from the council all stepped back. Melody started to move like she was having a seizure and one of the people stepped up to help hold her down, but magic threw her back.
“What exactly did you do?” Helena asked.
“I invoked magic to judge her. She’s wrapped in so much dark magic that I got sick to my stomach as soon as Jackson opened the door. I don’t know how no one knew what she was up to.”
“Her family has been the head of the council for nearly two hundred years,” Gareth stated. “Her mother was good at what she did but died in a car accident a decade ago.”
“I think you’ll find that she is the mother and that everyone in the line since that first has been the same person.” Helena stepped closer to where Melody was still convulsing on the floor as her body slowly changed to that of a very old woman.
“What?” Gareth asked.
“The black magic used is meant to extend life. She’s spent years perfecting it. You’ll probably find that as the first head, she was the daughter of someone else.”
“How do you know this?” one of the alphas asked.
“I study magic. I can’t use it, but I can study it. There have been whispers of someone who had been alive too long and is not an Immortal.”
“Immortals are fairy tales,” someone said.
“Just like Werewolves?” Stiles asked.
“You know nothing, boy,” the person said.
“I’m not Jon Snow. I know a hell of a lot more than you do about magic. I have been studying it for a few years. I’m a Spark, and that takes control.”
“Which is how the boy knew,” one of the council said. She stood up and looked at Stiles. “His magic isn’t damaged like our own. We all felt something when we met her the first time, but power can feel wrong if someone is more powerful than you. It’s the way of things with magic. We will be checking into everything that has happened over the last while. I’ll make sure about people who were supposed to join the ranks but never did.”
“I’d also look into deaths as well.”
“You may leave, Mieczysław,” Gareth said.
“You got it. I gave Quincy my statement. Am I going home?” Stiles looked at Celeste as he asked the question.
“Yes, we are returning home. We’ve been looking for you for days. Your signal keeps on bouncing around the city.”
“Oh, that’s probably me when he’s connected to the Wi-Fi of the building,” Quincy said.
“I wondered as Mieczysław is good with technology but not quite that good when he doesn’t have my tech with him,” Kaïs said.
“I’ll take him back to my place to get his things,” Jackson said.
“Helena, go with them. Talk to them about it.”
“Let’s go, Hellcat!” Stiles said as he rushed over to hug her tightly.
Helena laughed and ruffled his hair when he pulled out of the hug.
“I’ll drive,” Stiles said as he plucked Jackson’s keys from his hand when he got close to him.
The drive was mostly silent, but as soon as they were inside of Jackson’s apartment, Stiles pressed the wards that would make sure that no one heard them, and he took off the ring.
“So no one but Jackson knows?” Helena asked.
“Correct. I wasn’t giving up that information. As far as they know, Jackson picked me up at the airport, and I just stuck around. They know I am Gajos and that I am on my little training holiday here. Jackson and I have had a lot of fun finding the seedy underbelly of London, and I think that now that Melody is dead, the darkness I’ve felt here will go away. I just hope that it was on time.”
“I hope so as well. We will be staying the night and going home in the morning. You can stay here if you would like. We have a hotel in the middle of the city as Celeste was about to start an all-out search for you, block by block, since we have been looking for days. You are hard to find, even if you weren’t trying to actually hide.”
“I wasn’t. I’ve been all over with Jackson, so I am sure you would have found my scent at some point.”
“You are the Kanima, right?” Helena asked as she looked at Jackson.
“Yes,” Jackson said. He looked wary.
“I’m glad that they were able to save you. I’ve saved one other Kanima in my life. She had been used very horribly by a pack who had set about getting revenge for something that had never happened. It was a mess, and I hated it.”
“Oh, in Libya?” Stiles asked.
“Yes,” Helena said. She waved her hand at the couch, and Jackson nodded his head. Helena walked over and dropped down before putting her feet up on the coffee table. “We were going to get fish and chips for dinner. What are your plans?”
“Well, Jackson was going to cook, but we were supposed to get fish and chips for lunch, but we didn’t get to eat.”
“I’ll text mom, and she can pick up what we want to eat, three orders and two?”
“Yes,” Stiles answered. His stomach growled.
“I’ll make tea for an army,” Jackson said.
Stiles followed him into the kitchen. He laid his hand on Jackson’s shoulder to turn him around to face him. Jackson looked a little lost. “You’ve got my number, and you knew I would be leaving at some point.”
“Oh, I know, but I didn’t think it would be like this. Not after nearly having some crazy person try and take you away from me.” Jackson pulled Stiles close and rubbed their cheeks together.
“Yeah, it was a sucky ending to this, but we have tonight, and then I’ll be leaving tomorrow.”
“You are texting me every single day,” Jackson said.
“Of course, just remember you can’t tell anyone other than Danny that you have contact with me.”
“Don’t have sex in there!” Helena yelled.
“Fuck you!” Stiles yelled back before he started to laugh. Jackson smiled, and Stiles felt his heart skip a beat. He had no clue why he was so attached to Jackson, but he was. He wasn’t sure he wanted to give it up either.
Stiles dropped down into his chair beside the desk in his bedroom after throwing his backpack onto his bed. He didn’t know what he wanted to do at the moment. Today had just fucking sucked, and he wasn’t sure why it had started to go wrong. Things had been great in class.
“You break it, you buy it!” Helena yelled before she slipped out of the apartment with the door banging behind her. She was covering an evening class for another professor whose daughter went into labor a month early.
Stiles didn’t answer her as she wasn’t going to be able to hear her anyway. He snagged his laptop and pulled it close before turning it on. It booted up pretty quickly. Jackson should be out of class but whether he was home or not was the question. Jackson left his laptop on and ready to Skype with Stiles at any point in time when he was home. The icon beside Jackson’s name showed that he was home and online. Stiles clicked to call him.
“You look like shit,” Jackson said as soon as the camera showed his face.
“Thanks, bugaboo, I missed you too!” Stiles said. He laughed, though, and he felt a hell of a lot better.
“Yeah, Lena’s covering a night class for a professor who had a family emergency.”
“You are alone at the house, and you still look like shit?” Jackson asked.
“Eh, classes were good today, but I slept crappy last night, and I don’t know why and everything just feels wrong.”
“Miec, you need to sleep.”
“Too wired up to sleep,” Stiles said, but he knew that Jackson wasn’t home alone. A pair of visiting Werewolves from Switzerland had a kid with them and the kid, who was a teenager but just barely, loved Jackson. He liked to hang out with him, and Jackson liked to hang with him as well. It was kind of adorable to Stiles as he thought that Jackson needed someone who looked up to him, despite his blue eyes.
“Is your laptop charged?” Jackson asked.
“Yes,” Stiles said. He checked the battery anyway and found it was at 97%. He had charged it the night before and unplugged it as soon as he had woken up. He wasn’t sure what Jackson wanted.
“Go lay on the bed, let’s find a movie to watch. A nap or even just sleeping for over twelve hours won’t hurt you.”
Stiles got up and laid his laptop on top of the book on his bed so that the vents weren’t smothered and it wouldn’t overheat. Stiles made sure the camera was facing his closet as he walked over to it and stripped down to nothing before grabbing his sleep pants and a sleep shirt. The shirt was actually Jackson’s. One of the two that he had stolen from the wolf before leaving London. Jackson had seen the first one a month ago when Stile had a shitty first day back at college and a professor that Stiles knew he would end up mouthing off to.
“I wondered if you had snagged that one as well.” Jackson laughed, and when he leaned back just as Stiles was turning around, Stiles found that Jackson was wearing his hoodie. The one that Stiles had bought while in London and had used around Jackson’s apartment a lot. He had just assumed that it had been taken by Helena as she stole at least one hoodie from him before letting him have it back or buying a new one when she ripped the other in training or a hunt.
“I did. I see my hoodie found a good home. Red’s not really your color, though,” Stiles said.
“I like it, though, and that’s all that matters. Now talk,” Jackson said. He was messing with something off-screen. He had actually followed Danny’s path of education and was pursuing a technical degree of some kind. Stiles hadn’t figured out what it was as Jackson didn’t like to talk about it. He had a setup, though, with three different screens in his bedroom where he did most of his school work as his living room felt too open. There were still many issues around Jackson’s turning and the Kanima thing, but Gareth was working with him on all of that.
The Jackson that Stiles had fallen into bed with while in London was so different than the one who had been in Beacon Hills they were almost two different people.
“I went on a date last night. I didn’t even mean to agree to it. I was doing a study session in my advanced anthro class, and this guy asked me about getting a drink last night; and I said yes, and it wasn’t until someone else called it a date that I realized I had done it. I’ve not dated since…fucking hell, my first semester at Assisi. So yeah, I settled in and went on a date, and he tried to get me back to his after the hour we spent drinking and talking. I would normally be all for a night between the sheets as he is hot as fuck, and he looks like he can go for hours.”
“He wanted just the night, and I said I didn’t do that.”
“You, mister one night stand, didn’t want a one night stand?” Jackson asked.
“Right? I went home and I kind of just…pushed it all away. I think Helena thinks I got in a fight with someone from the family as she’s staying away from it all. The last time I got in a long-distance fight with Robbie, she did the same thing.”
“So you didn’t want a one night stand with the guy. Maybe you like him.”
“No, that’s the problem that I figured out when he said he could try the whole dating thing. I didn’t want him at all. I don’t want sex with him. I went through all of the people I did casual sex with last year, and none of them tripped me wanting more.”
“Aww, Miec, do you miss me?” Jackson asked.
Sties nearly bit back that no one would miss him, but then he stopped as his heart kind of raced at the thought. He reached out and closed out of Skype without saying a thing. He closed the laptop next and laid down on the bed. He wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, but his heart shouldn’t be racing at the thought of Jackson, not like that. He wasn’t sure what the hell he wanted, but being in a relationship with Jackson, wasn’t it, was it?
No, Stiles said to himself as he shook his head. He got up off the bed and grabbed his cell phone just as it started to ring. He saw it was Jackson and ignored it. He texted Jackson that he was fine; he just needed space.
Fuck space, Stiles. What the hell? Give me a call now.
No, I’m fine. I just need to not talk to anyone right now.
It was fine until I made the joke about missing me. You looked like someone had just dropped into your room and aimed a rocket launcher at you. You looked scared as hell, and I won’t stop until you respond to me. I’ll call your aunt. Don’t think that I won’t. Now call me.
Stiles didn’t believe him, so he just dropped his phone to the bed after putting it on silent. He saw it light up a few times before he finally turned it over and still just laid there. He missed his father. He missed his aunt. He missed his uncle. He did not miss Jackson. Did he?
Full night fell, and the room was dark since Stiles hadn’t turned on a light, and still, he laid there.
“I’ve got him. He’s just lying on his bed, Jackson. No, I am not going to force him to talk to you. I am going to crawl into bed with him and hold him until he’s ready to talk. I’ll have him call you when he’s ready. Not a moment before.”
The sound of a phone being dropped down, but Helena didn’t get into the bed. No, she walked around and picked up Stiles’ phone before plugging it in and setting it on the nightstand. After that, Helena left the room and came back in a hoodie of Stiles’ and a pair of sweat pants before she got into the bed and wrapped herself around him.
“Let’s just sleep the night away. Tomorrow is Friday, and you don’t have classes, and the professor I covered for is covering my two classes tomorrow. We can head into the woods, and you can deal with this there.”
Stiles nodded his head and let sleep tug him under. Sleep allowed him to be something other than what he was, which was confused.
The woods were dark and deep as Stiles tread water in the small waterfall pool he had found last winter. He loved the area, and a concentrated spell made the water a temperature that he could stand to be in the long term, but he also made sure that the water wasn’t affecting the area around it. Helena had gone back to the city while Stiles had stayed out. His schoolwork was all caught up, and the only outstanding paper he had was not due for two weeks, and he had over half of it done. He did his homework as soon as he was given it so he could go on hunts when he was able to. If his homework was done or at least everything due that next week was done, he could go. He even got credit in a few classes for it, as long as he did a paper on his hunt.
Stiles went under the water, diving down to the bottom of the pool before casting a spell that was close to the bubblehead charm in Harry Potter. He had learned it not too long ago, and the more he learned about magic, he learned that there were a few authors in the world that had stumbled on authentic texts while working on their writing. He wasn’t sure that a few weren’t in the damned world, but he wasn’t really that interested in finding out.
Something hit Stiles on the head. He looked around at the fish that were finally coming out of hiding to find that it wasn’t one of them. He saw something settle at the bottom of the pool, though, and he reached out to grab it. It was just a rock. He wondered how it had got into the water like that. Another rock floated down in front of his eyes, so he looked up and looked around the pool. A person was standing up there at the water’s edge. The water’s movement from the waterfall made it impossible for Stiles to figure out who it was. He drew his dagger from the sheath at his ankle before he kicked up to the surface. He was ready to throw the dagger until he realized that it was Jackson.
“I’m going to kill her.”
“She told me you were in the woods, but that was it. From there, it was just easy to ask around Rivers where you were last seen headed into the woods and where you liked to go. I found your trail, and well, you didn’t try and hide it.”
“Go home, Jackson,” Stiles said.
“Nope, I asked for permission to stay in Rivers until tomorrow night. I’m here, and I’m going to follow you around.”
“I’ll trap your ass in Mountain Ash powder and leave you to die in the woods,” Stiles threatened.
“You wouldn’t. But as long as I have you there, what the hell, Stilinski?” Jackson tossed out a handful of rocks.
Stiles dodged most, but he felt the anger behind them even if he was human. Jackson looked worried as hell.
“Get out of the water.”
“Nope, I’m good where I am.” Stiles stayed where he was, treading water.
Jackson glared at him and then started to strip. He jerked his pants off so hard that even Stiles heard the ripping. His underwear was last, and then he was diving into the pool. Stiles had just long enough to remember that Jackson was the swim team captain before he was being captured by Jackson.
Stiles grabbed onto Jackson, dropping the dagger as Jackson took them backward. They didn’t stop until they were under the waterfall spray, and Stiles’ back was pressed into the smooth rock wall. Jackson kissed him like he was trying to prove a point. Stiles tried to kiss back, but Jackson was so pissed off that he was hard to follow in the kiss, and finally, Stiles just submitted to it. He grabbed Jackson’s shoulders and tried to wrap his legs around him. Jackson stopped him, though but pining him in with his body.
Stiles was trapped, and for the first time in a long time, he felt like it wasn’t something horrible. He let Jackson control the kiss and kept his body right where it was. When Jackson was done, he only moved back enough to where Stiles could see his face, and that was about it.
“You are running from me,” Jackson said.
“And from myself,” Stiles said.
“Is it really that horrible? Wanting me?” Jackson asked.
“No, it’s not that. It’s just that I’ve never wanted something like this. I’ll tell you one day, I promise but just give me time.”
“Don’t hide from me. I…shifted, and my alpha almost didn’t get me calmed down,” Jackson said.
“I won’t, but there are times I will want to be alone and not talk on the phone.”
“As long as you don’t push me away and scare me like that. Stiles, it looked like someone was there to murder you, and you knew you couldn’t stop them. I was afraid that someone was going to answer the phone and tell me you were dead.”
“Sorry, I just freaked out. I don’t do well at not understanding what is going on in my own mind.”
“Don’t run from me, Stiles. Please.”
Stiles could hear the strain in Jackson’s tone.
“I won’t as long as you don’t crowd me.”
“We are agreed then.”
“I really hate the end of the semester,” Jackson said.
“Same,” Stiles answered as he laid on his bed. He could hear Helena moving around as she worked on whatever research project she was doing for money from the Mallory Pack. It had been overnighted from London to Rivers for her. The London Packs were all in debt to Stiles for finding Melody and helping to heal up the city.
Stiles still wasn’t sure exactly what was going on with the packs as Jackson was tight lipped about it, but there was something big going on. Afterward, Robbie had stayed in London and was living in the same building as Jackson under the Mallory Pack’s protection.
“Helena said that she had a present for you,” Jackson said.
“Oh yeah, she did. That short trip that I went home had an issue,” Stiles said. He looked to the side and snapped his fingers.
Princess jumped up from the bed she had been lying in and landed on top of Stiles.
“Jackson Whittemore, this is Princess Shepkita. I started to form a familiar bond with her over the summer. This means that now where I go, she goes. We had to do some stuff to get her ready to come over here. A lot of spells to make sure that she was safe.”
“She’s beautiful,” Jackson said.
“And she knows it. When you get here next week, you can spend time bonding with her. She doesn’t like Lena all that well. I think they both like to be the top dog, and Lena doesn’t let her be. You are still coming for the whole break, right?”
“Yes. My last exam is the first thing on the twelfth. Then I don’t have to be back until the eleventh for classes on the twelfth.”
“Nearly a month together then. Good. Helena has a few trips she’s going to be making, so the area is under my control. Dad’s flying out. So you’ll get to re-meet him under a lot better circumstances.”
“Yes, I’m well aware. I have a good suit ready to go. Gareth has me on the earliest flight. James is going to escort me to Rivers and then head off for work. I am not sure what he’s going to be doing, but I learned long ago not to ask what he does. He or one of the others will pick me up.”
“They don’t trust you alone?” Stiles asked.
“No, he doesn’t trust that someone won’t come after me. It’s well known that I have my trust fund and the eye of the Gajos heir. He doesn’t trust that someone won’t try and take me to use to get my money or to get to you.”
“One of the council has been made aware of everything, and he got drunk and told a lot of other people. Gareth is not happy. You look tired.”
“I had my last Hunter exam today. They do them a week before the normal exams instead of a week after. Today was the worst of the physical exams. Which is why it’s last. I passed through, top in class across everything still so far.”
“That’s good. I’m still in the top five, but that one asshat’s about to be found out to be cheating. He’ll get booted out of this place so fast.”
“How?” Stiles asked.
“He’s a Werewolf, and someone reads him exam stuff from another room where they are using a camera to look at the test of someone else. I finally heard them. It’s gonna take some work, but someone else caught him. They are going to use this to catch the fucker.”
“Sounds like your exam is going to be horrible,” Stiles said.
“Something like that.”
Stiles laughed a little at the look on Jackson’s face. He looked put out as hell but adorable at the same time. Stiles moved around a little, pushing Princess onto the bed fully behind him before moving the laptop to where he could stretch out on the bed better and relax. He laid his head on his arm to look at Jackson, who was laid out on his bed as well. At least once a week, they did this, talking until they were too tired and would just close the laptops.
It had been good for them; they had been going slow as hell and talking more than anything. Stiles was still a little scared about everything, but he didn’t want to be without Jackson in his life. He felt like it was a little like Stockholm Syndrome, but he hadn’t been forced; he just got used to Jackson being around with his month living with him.
“Hey, go ahead and close your eyes,” Jackson said.
Stiles hummed and got comfortable. It was Jackson’s night to read to him. Usually, it was a passage out of whatever he was studying. The soft hum of Jackson’s voice as he read over the passages. It wasn’t long before he was asleep with Princess curled up with him.
“So,” Stiles said as he slipped into bed and handed over the bowl of ice cream to Jackson. The spoon scraped as it slid around the lip, and Stiles hunched down, hoping that no one heard.
“So…what?” Jackson asked.
“We gotta talk, and I thought midnight talking was better.”
“In the dark?” Jackson asked.”
“Yes. In the dark. I talk better in the dark,” Stiles said. He knew that Jackson could see to eat, but Stiles hadn’t grabbed any ice cream for himself. He had Reese’s peanut butter cups to eat instead. He had an entire bag of them. Post sex snacking was fun. Especially when he knows he’s going to get weird looks from everyone smelling like sex. His father was going to be there in the evening, along with Celeste and Kaïs. Stiles wasn’t sure about Peter. He really wanted him there, but he wasn’t sure if Peter was able to get away for long enough to head out to visit for Christmas. His father was only going to be there for two days. It wasn’t nearly long enough, but it was enough for now.
“So spill,” Jackson said around a mouthful of ice cream.
“I asked Derek out.”
“Derek, as in Derek Hale? When?”
“Before I left Beacon Hills. It was the last straw. I was being ignored by everyone. Scott was up Allison’s ass so much that he forgot all that she had done to Derek’s Pack. Beacon Hills has changed a lot since then, but I’ve not really been back. I…was pretty depressed. Derek was pretty damned mean about the whole thing. He degraded me, and I’ve been pretty much against anything related to a long term relationship.”
“You spent years lusting after Lydia’s brain, and then you moved onto Derek Hale of all people.”
“There were moments when we were working on the whole Kanima thing that I thought we connected. I wanted to date for a year before we did anything, but he wouldn’t even listen.”
“Did he think you were too young or something?”
“I don’t know. He was almost disgusted by the thought of me. He had a few issues, but I knew those, so I was more than willing to just take things slow as hell. I mean, I was a virgin at the time, and there was no pressing need to get rid of that. I wanted to get to know him better to see if the man I thought was in there was really in there. I never got the chance. Dad says he’s been doing better as an alpha, learning how to be a better alpha, a better person. He really didn’t have a good teacher on that with Laura keeping him on a war footing in New York, but…my therapist tells me that his rejection of me pushed me to not want to form any kind of permanent relationship. I had a good thing with Liam but wasn’t invested in it other than the orgasms.”
“So you run because you are afraid that I’ll leave you first,” Jackson said.
“Hey, my brain is fucked up. You knew that in high school.”
“Did, Miec, I did, but it doesn’t mean I won’t forget sometimes. I’m happy with what we have, going slow on the romantic part. My relationship with Lydia wasn’t the best, either. I got a lot of therapy because of that. Gareth sent me to more when he realized how attached to you I was.”
“Helena knew before I did. She didn’t act as bitchy as she could have once she realized how freaked out I was. I mean…I wasn’t attached to Liam like that, and he and I were lovers for a hell of a lot longer than we were. It’s strange, but then reality is stranger than fiction. Look at the life both of us had before we left Beacon Hills. Look at our life now.”
Jackson snorted at that.
Stiles popped open another Reese’s and carefully peeled the underside wrapper off. He made sure the wrapper made it to the trashcan at the bedside before he sat up again and popped it into his mouth. He had brought in a few bottles of water earlier, but he had no clue what Jackson had done with them. He snagged the pillow beside him and leaned over to feel around for one. He touched the lid and knocked it over as he tried to grab it.
“Can I take you anywhere?” Jackson asked. He leaned over and grabbed the bottle before dropping it into Stiles’ lap.
“Not really without making some kind of scene.”
“You don’t have your ring on here.”
“No, not inside this place. Outside of it, yes. Like I said before. No one knows that Mieczysław Gajos and Stiles Stilinski are the same person. No one can know.”
“I know that. I like Miec, though. Calling you that. I don’t want to even try to say the full name unless I’m carefully saying it. It feels intimate, saying the nickname that I gave you. Like we are sharing a secret. Even Danny only calls you M now. We are trying our best to protect you. Now that he’s at MIT, it’s better. He wants to come here this summer for a while. He was coming to me for the summer, but I thought maybe we could both come here? I can find a place for us, no big deal.”
“We’ve got the room. There is a really nice pull out bed in the office, and Danny can sleep there or here with us on some nights.”
“You are serious about that,” Jackson said.
Stiles really liked the darkness of the room. Yeah, Jackson could see him if he wanted with his eyes, but Stiles couldn’t see him, which was the point.
“Dude, I got injured once and was not all that hurt, but still, my uncle decided that he needed to have someone cuddle me all the time. Sometimes him but mostly other betas under him. I woke up to puppy piles in my own damn bed sometimes. Usually, it was guys and gals who I knew well, and they just wanted to be around me.”
“So you are used to packs wanting to be like that.”
“Yes. Also, I kind of love it, really. I think that I would be as fucked up as I am if something like that had happened after mom’s death. It was just dad and me, and we weren’t that close for a while after her death. He was drunk, and when he was drunk, he blamed me for killing her. When he was sober, he never remembered, but he tried to figure out why I was sleepwalking and having panic attacks. It was shitty all around. Having people around that would have cared for me in place of my father would have been a lot of fun.” Stiles shrugged and opened up another Reese’s. He was careful again about making sure nothing was dropped on the bed. Jackson took the wrappers from him though and tossed them into the trash.
The clink of the bowl on wood echoed in the near-silent room, and Stiles waited to see what Jackson was going to do. The bed moved, and then hands were grabbing Stiles and pulling him into Jackson’s lap. They were both still in their sleep pants, the only clothing that Helena said they had to wear when they left the bedroom. Stiles usually wore a shirt, but no one else was awake, so he slipped out in just the pants. Stiles wrapped his legs around Jackson’s back for leverage.
Jackson cupped the sides of Stiles’ face before he started to talk. “I hate that I hated you even then. I am sorry for the way I treated you after that.”
“Hey, you didn’t let people make fun of me for Mom’s death. That was fine enough with me. We don’t need to rehash the past. We said our sorrys for what we did to each other in high school. It’s all fine. We fucked it out, and everything is good. If you had made fun of me for Mom’s death, I never would have sucked your cock at all nor let you touch me, really.”
“I would have worn you down,” Jackson said in Stiles’ ear before he nipped at it.
“Ugh, we showered already. No, bad lizard wolf,” Stiles said as he slapped at Jackson’s shoulder.
Jackson growled and nipped at Stiles’ ear before he bore him down onto the bed.
“Ugh, Jackson,” Stiles said as he shoved at him, but Jackson wasn’t hard, and he wasn’t pressing into Stiles to rut against him. He was just pressing him down into the bed.
Jackson moved them to where they were lying down, and he moved the bag of Reese’s off the bed before covering them up. Stiles wasn’t allowed to lay like he wanted; he just had to take his two-hundred-pound Werewolf boyfriend lying on him and like it. He reached up to scratch at Jackson’s head, knowing it would help him fall asleep quicker, both him and Jackson.
“Are you sure he’s fine?” a voice asked.
Stiles kept his eyes closed as he surfaced out of sleep. He could still feel Jackson on top of him, and the sun was shining in his face.
“Yes, they were like this yesterday morning as well. I can hear him breathing just fine,” Helena said.
“Well, the others in my team can, the Werewolves in it. He’s fine. He’s slept better with Jackson here than he had the last few weeks with the school. They are both just playing catch up after finals week. Now let’s get you bacon and see if that rouses him from sleep to yell at you, Noah.”
“No bacon for you, Dad. Not until Christmas morning,” Stiles said.
Noah laughed and the bedroom door shut.
“They are early,” Jackson said.
“Yes, they are. Let’s get up and get ready.”
“Once we are in the living room, you can cuddle me all you want. I wanna talk to dad. You can lay on the couch, and I’ll scratch your head, and you can sleep, and I’ll chat.”
Jackson nodded his head to that and got up off of Stiles. He went to the bathroom to get ready. He came back out in a pair of sweatpants and a long-sleeved T-shirt a few minutes later. Stiles took his turn in the bathroom after Jackson left the room.
“How is France treating you, Jackson?” Noah asked as Stiles finally got into the living room.
Jackson was lying on the couch with his eyes closed. Stiles moved over to give his father a hug and then got on the couch, lifting Jackson’s head before sitting down and putting it in his lap.
“France is treating him just fine. He needs more sleep, though, so he’s not gonna be chatty until he’s got food and coffee in him,” Stiles said.
“You seem more chipper than I thought you would be.”
“I’ve adapted to being up this early. Jackson has afternoon and evening classes, so he can sleep in every morning. I have classes that are skewed to morning. I’m glad you were able to make it, Daddio.”
“It’s not nearly as long as I would want, but we can make it work. Peter’s at the bakery getting us all drinks. He said he knew what Jackson would like, but I am not sure I trust that.”
“He knows,” Jackson muttered.
“Well, that’s good.”
Stiles smiled at Jackson and ruffled his hair before going back to scratching even more on his head. He looked up at his father to see a soft look there. It was a lot like how Stiles had seen him looking at Claudia in pictures or in person when she was alive. Stiles ducked his head and tried not to blush. If he was blushing when Peter got there, things were going to turn ugly. He just wanted a good and happy Christmas with his father. He had missed this so much the year before.
“What about the Gajos?” Jackson asked.
“They are flying in tomorrow. They let me and Peter have a day before they get here.”
“Good.” Jackson rolled over to give Noah his back, and he seemingly dropped into sleep between one breath and the next.
“He trusts me and therefore knows I’ll protect him. I guess it’s a wolf thing. I’ve seen Kaïs do it when he’s out with Celeste on a hunt, and it’s her turn to keep watch.”
“Ah, well, that’s good. I guess I have seen Peter do the same thing.”
Stiles nodded his head and looked at his father. He looked good. He looked a hell of a lot better than he had when Stiles had last seen him. There was less stress on him. He was glad that having Adam and the team there to help with cases lowered his father’s stress levels.
“Wilcox and Roberts sent gifts for you.”
“YAY,” Stiles said, and he threw up his arms. Jackson didn’t even stir.
Stiles looked down at him to make sure that he didn’t wake up. He ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. He was on a path that he wasn’t sure he was ready for, but he wasn’t going to be getting off of it. Stiles knew that he was there for the long haul now.
Stiles stopped and leaned over, dropping his hands down to his thighs and trying to get his breathing under control. He snagged his bottle of water as he stood up and walked over to where his towel was hanging on a tree. The path he was on in the forest was simple and laid out well. It was his favorite path to run, even in the near dark of pre-dawn. He had woken up early and hadn’t been able to get to sleep, so he decided to start his daily exercise early.
Helena was on a hunt for a temple in the jungles of South America, so Stiles was staying in Rivers along with a secondary team to make sure that nothing needed their work on it. So far, it had been quiet, but there was talking of something in the forests. Stiles was hoping that whatever it was came out soon. There were no attacks, just someone in the trees who didn’t let people see them. Yet, this person was following Stiles, or at least someone was. He had felt the eyes on him the last half of his current lap around the trees.
The people of Rivers were all very much in the know about the Supernatural, even if most of them tried to hide it. Anything weird, and they were going to either one of the Hunters who was in the area or someone at the school who was in the know.
“You should be more careful of just stopping,” a voice called out from the trees. It was a man who was trying to hide his voice. Someone that Stiles might have heard speaking before then.
“And you should know that I am never unarmed,” Stiles said. He didn’t turn around to face the person talking; instead, he just finished off his bottle of water and tossed it toward his pack on the ground. Stiles was shirtless as it was warm, and he was alone. He still used clothes that were a little big on him to hide how ripped he was. Whoever this was had already seen him, though. He wasn’t sure that he could fight them off if he needed to. He just hoped that whoever it was didn’t value their lives if they didn’t disengage quickly.
It was a kill or be killed world, no matter what others thought.
“I’m well aware of that, Little Hunter,” the man said.
Stiles looked around for the person where the voice had come from, but he couldn’t see him. He brushed at his arm and the newest tattoo that he had there. He was going to get hell from Helena for it since he had applied it himself, but he had learned a few things while she was gone. A tingle of magic and Stiles smirked as he heard movement. The sword that manifested was raised, and just as the man got close, Stiles put the tip of it at his throat.
“You have a fucking death wish, Jackson,” Stiles said.
“I didn’t expect a sword. Where the hell was that?” Jackson asked.
“Oh, that’s right. I didn’t tell you about it.”
“Where is Princess?”
“Being a lazy dog. She didn’t want to go on a run with me in the predawn hours. When did you get here?”
“An hour ago. Took that long to track you down when no one answered the door. The soundproofing was still on, so I went to your normal haunts.”
“Helena wants it on until she gets back. A few too many people ask about me for her liking, and there is no main training I’m doing at the college this summer. So since I’m at loose ends and just reading up on magic and studying it, she didn’t want me doing something stupid.”
“Like tattoo yourself?” Jackson asked.
“Eh, most of them are invisible, but I made a few visible.” Stiles looked at his family sigil on his chest just above his heart. That was the first tattoo that he got. The rest were all ones he had done on his own. Usually, they were temporary that he was using to test his theory. He had gotten the idea from a paper and dice RPG game called Rifts and their True Atlantean race. Magical tattoos to summon weapons and even animals to help them fight and protect themselves.
Stiles’ first one had been small and a dagger. He had done it under the watchful eye of his magic theory teacher and then summoned it from his arm. The ink he had used was magical, and it was only after he had got it all down pat and turned the whole of the project in for his final for the class that he had turned his eye toward permanent tattoos on his body.
“Invisible ink?” Jackson asked.
“Yeah, come here.” Stiles held out his hand. Jackson stepped closer and slipped his hand into Stiles’. “Feel.”
Stiles placed Jackson’s hand over the place where he had tattooed a small image of a dagger. It was one of his favorite ones. Jackson’s fingers traced over it. “You can feel it, right?”
“A little yeah. It’s weird, but that’s actually pretty smart; how did you do that?”
“I used just the magical potion and drew it on my skin and then used the same spell work that I did for the temporary tattoos that I did but kept it permanent. I wanted a few obvious ones and a few not. The items themselves are all in a magical bag of holding. My magic summons them from there to my hand. The bag is hidden in a very safe spot in the apartment, and I’ll move it around as needed. I do need to have it kind of close. I haven’t been able to figure out the exact distance I can go from the bag, but it’s at least across the city.”
“You should never be left alone,” Jackson said.
“Dude, you don’t even want to know the things that I do when I’m bored and learning magic. I have so many projects that are fucked up but work and should never. I’m learning the limits are sky-high for me, but I do have them. I have to play to find them. So how long are you here for?”
“Two weeks. I have an outing with the pack after that—some kind of wilderness training. I’m going with the agents so it ought to be fun. I was allowed to head here as I have no clue how long I will be gone. What are your plans?”
“I haven’t decided yet. You are going to be gone, so London is out. I don’t know. I have a trip planned for the end of July to San Francisco to visit with dad. Before that, I guess I will play by ear. I’m stuck here until at least Helena gets back.”
“Gotta do patrol and stuff?”
“Nah, just be on hand. She took her whole team with her and the others who are very green. Like greener than me, and I’m pretty green.”
“Then we can go spend the day in bed?”
“Ha, no. Well, yes, but I need to eat first. I’m going to pack up, and then we can head there and eat, get coffee. They might be nice and let us pick up sandwiches for lunch if we are nice.”
“Well, then I guess that will be you talking to them as I am not nice. Especially not after traipsing around these woods trying to find you. I still suck at sniff tracking.”
“It doesn’t help that I am all over these woods when I train. Don’t worry, you’ll get better.”
The trip to get food didn’t take long at all. Stiles sprawled on the couch in the living room with his feet up on the coffee table as Jackson tossed his things into Stiles’ bedroom. The place was empty feeling without Helena is there to nag him about random shit.
“Place smells weird,” Jackson said.
“Like how weird?”
“Helena and her teams’ scents are mostly gone, and that smells wrong. Just mostly smells like you, which after Christmas, smells weird. So you literally have nothing planned?”
“My school year is a lot of work. The summers are to recharge; yeah, I study the history of magic, but my summers are mostly mine, I’ve found out. Last summer’s training exercise was the only year that they do something like that. So I just planned to relax. I was going to see about leaving early for New York if Helena got back early.”
Stiles heard claws on hardwood and turned to look at Princess as she came trotting in from the bedroom. She looked like she had been sleeping in the sun that came in Stiles’ bedroom. It was her favorite place to nap and sleep in the mornings.
“So, how are we doing?” Jackson asked.
“We, as in us, or the royal we of you being a pretentious ass and asking how I am doing?” Stiles asked.
“That one,” Jackson said. He picked up his second sandwich and started to eat it. He took a sip of his coffee before looking at Stiles. “You’ve not been texting me as much since school let you for you, and you didn’t call last night.”
“Actually, I did. I called your landline, and Quincy answered and said you were out. I didn’t know you were on your way here.”
“Oh, no, I was out with Gareth getting things ready for my trip here as well as the stuff needed for the trip we are taking. I am getting back and immediately heading out with them.”
“Ah. Well, that makes sense. So you are at my beck and call?” Stiles asked.
“I love that. Now…bed?”
Jackson laughed and finished off his sandwich as quickly as he could.
“What?” Stiles asked as he turned to look at his laptop where Helena was sitting in her office in New York.
“I said, next year, three women and two men are transferring into Rivers to work with you.”
“To work with me. What? Why?”
“Your team. While they are your team, they are picked by me.”
“You said I would have a seven-person team. That’s only six,” Stiles said.
“Are you really that thick?” Adam asked.
“Shut up in the peanut gallery. Are you sure that no one can hear?” Stiles asked as he looked at Adam on the other half of the screen. Celeste was going over a few bits of information on things in Beacon Hills with Adam, and Stiles had called into it in the middle.
“Yes, there is no one in the apartment with me, and that means no one can hear. I can do spells well enough, thanks,” Adam said.
“Stiles, Jackson’s going to be on your team,” Celeste said.
“What? He’s not in the Gajos Pack. He can’t be on my team.”
“He will be in the pack. As soon as he graduates, he’s changing packs. Has he not told you?” Celeste asked.
Stiles dropped the spoon he was using to stir his soup and grabbed his cell phone. Jackson had been back just about three hours from the training he had gone on with the Mallory Pack.
“Did you forget to tell me something, you asshole?” Stiles asked as the phone connected, and he heard Jackson start to talk.
“Um, I texted you and told you I was taking a nap,” Jackson said.
“Yeah, not that. How about you being on my team?” Stiles asked.
“She told you? I was going to tell you when I came to visit again next week!”
“Yes, well, she was talking about the other five people she thinks she had narrowed down for my team. You wanna get on Skype?” Stiles asked.
“Sure. I wasn’t sleeping well anyway.”
Stiles hung up the phone and walked over to the laptop to pull up to where he could accept Jackson’s call to this when he called. He went back to the stove and turned the soup down. Celeste had called to do her normal check-in with him and wanted to have him listen in on how she checked in with Adam.
“You rat,” Jackson said as soon as the call was accepted and Stiles could see him.
“I assumed that you would have told him, and then by the time that I realized you hadn’t, I couldn’t take back what was said. I had to tell him. He’s like a dog who doesn’t want to give up his bone when he thinks someone is keeping anything from him.”
“I’ve been working with Gareth and the rest of the pack more to learn everything that I can. Celeste said there is training that even you will be going through to make sure you are ready for working on a team, but I don’t want to hold back the team.”
“It’s not SEAL Team training, but it’s pretty intense,” Adam said.
“I’ve read about it in the manuals that all people get before working for Celeste. It’s got two prongs, one for the humans and one for the Supernatural. Everyone knows about the Supernatural, but not everyone goes to school for it as I do. So the training courses are a matter of formality except for the stuff on being a bodyguard and security person.”
“Cool. So the team.”
“I have picked people that I think will do well with Stiles and you and not have issues. Stiles knows one of them, but the other four are unknowns. I have a pair of Werewolf twins from Las Vegas. They are the Stone Pack’s Alpha twin children, but they don’t quite fit in with the pack. They respond well to Kaïs and are finishing up college at Yale this year. They graduated high school early just to get away from the pack. The Stone Pack is not mean to them; they just don’t get them.”
“Sounds fun,” Stiles said.
“They and Jackson will make up the Shifter side of the pack. You will hold up the magic side, and then you will have two other flavors of Supernatural that will make up the last of the team.”
“What kind?” Stiles asked.
“Kitsune, a friend of mine here in New York, has a daughter who was very much pissed off that her mother kept that she was a Kitsune from her until it was too late. The daughter had spent a year trying to figure out what was wrong with herself and found it on accident, much like you did when you found out about Scott being bitten. No one on the team will be allowed to know your name for the first year. It’s a good thing that Jackson had gotten used to calling you Miec instead of Stiles.”
“So the last?” Stiles asked.
“Immortal. She’s thrown her weight into it with her guardian being kind of pissed, but then I think she’s making a good choice.”
“Maia?” Stiles asked.
“Yes.” Celeste smiled at that.
“Good. She’s also kept this shit from me. I will have to have words with my team about undermining me,” Stiles said with a laugh.
“Jackson will be your second and Maia your third. Trust is paramount, and you will need that as you get used to your team. Kaïs has already started calling you guys Team Asshole. Most of them would be considered to be assholes by everyone around them.”
“It’s the start of a bad joke, two humans, three wolves, a kitsune, and an immortal walk into a bar.”
“What’s an immortal?” Jackson asked.
“Think like Highlander, only you know people don’t just go around cutting off heads to win a game. It’s the only way to kill them. Poison doesn’t work; shooting the heart doesn’t work. We are pretty sure that it’s kind of where the idea for Highlander came from,” Stiles said.
“Seriously? What doesn’t exist?”
“All versions of myths that are around the world got started somewhere.” Celeste looked like she wanted to say more, but she stopped.
“Vampires?” Jackson asked.
“Yes, I actually have a few in my employ. They are not immortal like the myths suggest; they just age a little slower. About twice the lifespan if they are bitten when younger. I know a guy who was bitten when he was seven and turned. It took forever to get to eighteen. Though back then, adulthood was not exactly such a strict line. He died two hundred years after being born. Passed five years ago.”
“I started a book,” Stiles said.
“What?” Stiles asked.
“What’s the name?”
“The Things that Go Bump in the Night that Do Exist,” Stiles said.
“For people like you who are getting into the world after being dragged in by something crazy?” Celeste asked.
“Yes, it’s full of the shit that I wanted to know instead of the boring shit. I would need to get myself settled quickly and then expand on all of it as needed. It’s not that detailed, but it’s got the details that matter. Like only the alpha can turn you, so if you are bitten by an omega or a beta, just get rabies shot and tetanus if you haven’t had a re-up of that in a while.”
“You are such an asshole,” Jackson said.
“Well, I wouldn’t do that if you were the one biting me. I like it when you bite me.” Stiles winked at Jackson.
“I’m a little sick to my stomach,” Adam said.
Stiles looked at him; he had kind of forgotten that he was there. He had been quiet as Celeste had been talking about his team.
“You know that you love me,” Stiles said with a pout.
Adam laughed, and he turned away from the screen to look at something. “Someone just knocked. I’m going to go.”
“Bye!” Stiles called out.
Then it was just the three of them.
“So a year of keeping everything under wraps?”
“Yes, and then Kaïs and I will decide if they can be trusted enough.”
“Sounds good. Maybe I’ll just get Jackson used to call me Sir, just in case.”
“No flirting with your aunt listening and watching,” Jackson said. His cheeks were red, and he looked kind of adorable when he blushed.
“Is there anything else?” Stiles asked.
“You don’t want to know the names of them?”
“Are you actually going to tell me?” Stiles raised an eyebrow at Celeste.
“Then that’s it. I’m gonna chat at Jackson for a while, so goodbye, and I love you.”
“Love you too, see you soon.”
“Soon?” Jackson asked when Celeste closed out of Skype.
“Yeah, she’s heading this way for a talk she’s giving at Rivers for the hunting community here in Europe. Rivers has the best protection, so it’s the best place to do it. Anywhere else wouldn’t have the capacity and therefore would need to have new protections up. Rivers is the only college in Europe that’s wholly supernatural in origin. Anywhere else has a few rooms that are protected.”
“Even Yale’s college is not all over the campus,” Stiles pointed out. He snagged his water and took a sip of it before heading to the kitchen to take his soup off the stove. “And those that do have whole buildings to themselves is part of why people think that there are secret societies that meet there that are not just prestigious assholes that wanna keep things from other people. The far-reaching ones that don’t do shit.”
“I think I’m happy with my university,” Jackson said.
“Most are. So what do you think of the team?” Stiles asked.
“Does she always pick the teams?”
“Mostly yes, but she talked to me about what I wanted. I gave her profiles of the people I wanted. Not you know I want all humans but the kind of people who can deal with the shit that I do. Or my mouth, or my ADHD. My magic. There is a lot to handle, and you seem to do it fine, but you had years to get used to me.”
“And I only wanted to kill you for some of them.” Jackson laughed after he spoke. He looked down at something and then back up at Stiles. “You are okay with me being on your team, yes?”
“I love it. If we break up or have a huge fight, I will have Celeste move you elsewhere, but our first years as a team will be busy. We will get the worst of the bodyguard cases and then the worst supernatural cases once we have proven ourselves. I know what I can look forward to, and having you there to share my bed will make it better.”
“So, how does this all work?”
“I’ll get profiles of every single one of them, even you, but yours won’t be scrubbed. I’ll have everything that Celeste thinks that I need to know about them before I meet them. Which will be the summer after we graduate.”
“The first team that I have might also be the last team that I have. Celeste’s team is the same outside of deaths and injuries that pull people from the field. Those who can’t do fieldwork run the offices now. She’s replaced no one since she was given the team by her mother. The only addition was Kaïs. So yeah, she picked who she thinks is the best, but she doesn’t want a name to put me off.”
“Like if she picked an Argent, you would hate them on sight,” Jackson said.
“Something like that. Even places of birth and the like will be scrubbed. I will know them based on what actually matters. Their favorite drinks, movies, books, and the like will all be on there. It’s all the stuff they have agreed to have shared with me. The team for the heir is the most important team to the family. They don’t go with the best of the best; they go with the ones who fit with me. On paper, the team probably wouldn’t make sense at all.”
“So…Suicide Squad?” Jackson asked.
“Yeah, something like that. Actually, that’s pretty much a perfect match.”
“So, how does it work when Celeste retires?”
“Oh, she might retire from the field, but as far as Head of Gajos Security, she won’t retire for a long time. She runs some of it, but mostly it’s a board of people who can’t do field work anymore. She’s the public head, but she doesn’t do the day-to-day stuff that much at the moment. Even when she finally wants to, the board will still exist to handle the overflow.”
“It sounds complicated.”
“Ah, it’s more of the old world business model, family. The people who work together are family. You don’t shit on family when they are down. It’s gone on from there. The business is old as hell in Poland. Gajos Security is still the lead for most of the country. A good ten percent of staff all work in Poland on jobs they have had for years. Thed rest are all spread around mostly Europe and the US, but there are a few other areas that they go as well, and not just their charges go there, and they go along to protect them.”
“You have a minor in business, yes?” Jackson asked.
“Eh, yes. It was kind of forced on me. Why?”
“It’s my major,” Jackson said.
“Really?” Stiles realized that they had never talked about classes all that much beyond the “I have this class on Tuesday” type thing. Which since they didn’t get much time together, Stiles understood.
“Yes, with a minor in international law. Celeste said I would be a good match for your team.”
“Not everyone will have a degree or a degree that would be good for anything. I will know enough about business to not be a fuck up, as Celeste said. She took dual degrees here at Rivers, but she wasn’t learning magic at the same time. My minor might be turned into something more while on the road. Rivers does have some stuff for online degrees once you have a degree from them. So I have hunting, magic, and a minor in business, but of course, the hunting degree will read as something to do with security, and the magic degree really won’t exist to anyone but those who know about it.”
“That sounds like a lot to keep track of.”
“Not really. I won’t be talking about my degrees all that much. Just saying that I graduate from Rivers will be enough for even the mundanes to realize that I’m special. Outside of some of the Asian colleges, Rivers is the hardest to get into in the world. The ones in Asia are for locals only, and they are hard to get into even among them. Anyone can go to Rivers if they are part of the supernatural world. So yeah, just saying that I went there will be enough for people to pay attention to me.”
“That sounds hot.”
Stiles laughed and shook his head at his boyfriend. “So what are you doing before you come and see me for a few days?”
There was nothing really much to do in San Francisco that Stiles hadn’t done before. So when his father texted that he would be late because of a case in Beacon Hills, Stiles headed out to just walk around. The city was bustling like it was, especially since it was summer, and that meant tourists and kids out from school.
It wasn’t Beacon Hills, but it was close enough. Stiles could feel the Nemeton even from where he was. It was fully awake, which he knew, but he wasn’t sure what else was really going on with it. He hadn’t been following those reports that close. He knew everyone’s dead or alive status from the Hale Pack, but other than that, he only cared about his father, Peter, and Adam and his team. He wasn’t sure if Scott was even thinking about anything other than Allison anymore.
“Hey, looking for a good time?” a woman asked as Stiles passed by a door to a shop.
Stiles turned to look at the woman; if it wasn’t for the stink of magic all over her, Stiles would have thought that she was a hooker. He looked at the store to see that it was a tattoo shop. He could see the shifting runes over the door and knew that it was a place that served Werewolves as well as humans.
“If I am, it’s not with you,” Stiles said.
“Yeah? Why don’t you like pain?”
“I like pain well enough. I just have enough ink to last me for right now.”
“Really?” The woman’s eyes tracked up and down what she could see of Stiles. Which was just his neck, wrists, hands, and face. At Jackson’s prompting, he had inked in a few of the invisible weapons on his body, just the smaller ones, they were stylized, and while the image wasn’t needed to be exact, his arms had artwork on them now. Jackson had loved tracing them right after Stiles had gotten the first filled in by a guy who ran a shop in Rivers.
“Wanna see?” Stiles asked.
“Yes,” the woman said. She waved for Stiles to enter the shop.
The wards that passed over him had Stiles shivering. They kept out Hunters who weren’t safe.
“Stop,” a man said as he came out from the back. He was frowning as he looked at Stiles. “Where are your weapons?” The man’s eyes went to the places that the weapons would be if Stiles was wearing them.
“I can show you.” Stiles unbuttoned his shirt and then tugged it off, his arms on display. He jerked his T-shirt off next, and the man sucked in a breath as soon as he saw the small Gajos sigil over his heart. Down from it was his first dagger. He touched it, and then it appeared in his opposite hand. “Magic is cool, huh?”
“Heir Gajos, you are most welcome in my shop,” the man said.
“Thank you. How come I’ve never seen this place before?”
“We trade off years between here and New York City. I have counterparts that swap with us. We get antsy sitting in the same place for long, so we swap back and forth. I’m sure it felt much different from my friends. Alfred Worth.”
“Mieczysław Gajos. I am in need of new ink. I can add the spell work later for the summoning of a weapon. Do you have the stuff to do UV tattoos?”
“Yes, I do. What are you looking for?”
“I have a new weapon in my arsenal, and I wanted to see about adding a small version of it to my body.”
“A staff. It’s magical, but I don’t need to carry it around all the time. It’s made to last and to beat the shit out of people.” Stiles pulled out his phone and showed the picture of it to the guy.
“That’s beautiful. The Faeries of Rivers are well enamored with you.”
“Yes, they gifted it to me for helping to save a few of them when human hunters were messing up their lands in pursuit of ill-gotten spoils. It’s not powerful on its own, but there are crystals at the core that I can store my magic in.”
“Where do you want it?”
“I don’t know. I was thinking up my spine?” Stiles turned around to show the Gajos tattoo that stretched from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. “The tip of it pressing right against the lower edge of this tattoo.”
“Can you teach me how to do this?” Alfred asked.
“The pulling weapons-free? Not really. Rivers is working on it, though. There is a small issue with the whole magic thing. Like, my magic placed it so only my magic and pull it out. The magic to place it is massive, though, which is why I’m not gonna do it now. I added magic to other tattoos that I did before, so I know that works.”
“Contact Rivers about it, and they will make sure you are attached to all information on it. I’m gonna be making a lot of money from it one day if they can do what they think they can with it.”
“Like what?” Alfred asked. He waved Stiles into the back. He settled into the chair that he would be lying on to get the tattoo as Alfred sat down at a small station that had a sketch pad and pencil set at it. “Email it here.”
Stiles opened up his email and attached all of the photos to it. The thing had been shot from every angle so that Peter could get a good look at it. He would see it later that day as it was in Stiles’ hotel room. He hadn’t slipped it into the bag of holding yet, but he would do soon.
“You are going to be covered in tattoos, aren’t you?” Alfred asked.
“Yes, I kind of like never being weaponless.”
“I can get that. Hunters always feel like that, and since I know that a few of the Hunters who had minds like the older Argent and his ilk have been gunning for your aunt, I can see why.”
“Yeah,” Stiles said. He really didn’t want to get into the fact that they were also gunning for Stiles Stilinski. They thought he would be easy to get a hold of. They hadn’t found him yet as Celeste and her hackers made sure that Stiles Stilinski had disappeared off the face of the earth.
“I use magic to do the tattoo; since you are fully magic, I can quickly get it done. How long do you have today?”
“A while. I’m meeting someone, and they haven’t even left to meet me yet, and they are a few hours away. They had a 911 issue pop up at work.”
“Well, do you want to stay there, or I can call you when I have the sketch done.”
“Dude, I’m fine right here.” Stiles held up his phone as he opened up a game to play. “Take your time.”
“Good. Let’s get going then.”
Stiles nodded as he began a new level in his game.
“Does she do this to just fuck with you?” Jackson asked. He was looking around the park-like he was expecting something to jump out at them and attack.
“I have no clue, but I think she’s just a troll. Mom was too. I am. Maybe it’s genetic.” Stiles looked around the location that he had been given by email from Celeste. The SUV was kitted out, and they were in Seattle. He had no clue why he had to meet his team on his first hunt alone as the leader and not back home in New York.
It was muggy as hell in the city, and Stiles just wanted to be inside. Yet here they were in a park, waiting on the rest of the team to get to him. He had no clue what any of them looked like, except Maia. The park was full of many people, but no one stood out as someone who didn’t belong.
Princess barked, and she tugged on the leash she was on. Stiles looked at where she was looking, and he frowned as he saw Sammy. It had been a year since he had talked to him in person over Skype, but he chatted with him through text every single week with his Stiles phone.
“Jax, my name is Mieczysław with this one, got it?” Stiles asked.
“Sure. Oh, hey, isn’t he…yeah that Snyder, right?”
“Yes, he’s the first guy I went on a date with after leaving Beacon Hills. We were much better friends.”
Jackson growled as Snyder noticed them as the track he was on took him toward them. He smiled and waved, and then he realized who he saw there. He stopped and paused whatever device he was listening to before walking over to them.
“Whittemore, right?” Sammy asked.
“I’m in the area visiting. Do you live here?” Sammy asked.
“No, visiting myself.”
“Cool. Hey, if you see anyone who is weird, let me know. I’m meeting someone here.” Sammy stopped and looked down at Princess before looking up at Stiles. His eyes narrowed, and he looked at Jackson next. “Where did you get this dog?”
“Fucking hell,” Stiles said. He reached up and rubbed his eyes. “Just…move on, Sammy. Please.”
Sammy crouched down, finally giving Princess the attention she wanted from the human that she knew. She licked up his face, and Sammy scratched at her head and neck. He caught the collar she was wearing and lifted it up to see the Gajos symbol on there. “Fucking hell is right. Mieczysław Gajos? What are you doing with Stiles’ dog?”
“Sammy, just walk on.”
“I’m here to meet you, so no. I’m the human for your team.”
“What?” Stiles asked.
Sammy stood up and looked him in the eye. He was looking over Stiles’ face. “Holy shit. I thought it was funny that Stiles never mentioned a cousin that wasn’t Robbie, Helena, or Adam. You are the Gajos heir. You knew about this whole damned world.
“How did you find out?” Stiles asked.
“Just after you left to go to college, I was on campus alone. I was attacked. I didn’t get turned, but it was a feral omega who had lost their entire pack. I was hurt but not horribly. A guy handled talking to me until I mentioned Brad and Brandy and that I needed someone to talk to. Your aunt was the next person to talk to me. She laid out a lot of the world for me. Let me read a few books. Brad and Brandy know as well, but they are fully set on their careers while this kind of changed my life. Your aunt was wonderful about it all. I learned what I needed, and when she asked what I wanted to do with my life, I told her I wanted to help. So here I am. I didn’t realize she was a big troll. She talks up her nephew being a big asshole, which yes you are, but you are the kind of asshole that I can deal with.”
“Well, we can talk more later, but no one on the team but you, my third in command, and Jackson, who is my second, will know that I am Stiles Stilinski. Many people would hurt dad to get to me, to get to Celeste. They stay away as they don’t know that he knows about the world, and most people have some kind of honor that stops them from pulling people into the world. My aunt is a troll, and it’s fucking genetic, prove me wrong.”
Sammy laughed, and Jackson pulled Stiles close for a hug.
“So, we can keep the same background. Met when you came to New York and tried to date, but we were better friends. The best lies have a basis in truth,” Sammy said.
“Yeah. It’s not like Princess is going to allow you to act like you don’t know her.” Stiles looked at his dog, who was the epitome of happy, leaning against Sammy.
“So we are waiting for four more? Do you know any of them?”
“One. My second. Maia. You met her once at that coffee shop when we met Brad and Brandy there.”
“Oh, yeah, I do remember her. What’s she?”
“That’s her own to tell you,” Stiles said.
“I’m a hybrid,” Jackson offered.
“Hybrid? What like your mom was a muggle and your dad a witch?” Sammy asked.
Stiles laughed, and Jackson actually gave a little snort.
“No, I had issues after I was bitten. Turned into a Kanima. I was used wrong by my two masters, and therefore, it messed me up. We thought for a short while that I would turn back into a normal Werewolf after I was saved from being a Kanima, but instead, I have some issues. I can turn into just a Werewolf or just a Kanima, but my normal form is a mix of the two. I’ll show you sometime.”
“How do you do this?” Sammy asked, waving his hand up and down on Stiles’ body.
“Jax?” Stiles asked.
Jackson turned so that between them, they blocked everyone from seeing him. He pulled the ring off long enough for Sammy to see the shift and then put it back on.
“Magic. It’s my bread and butter. This was made by someone else, though, and while usually, other people’s magic doesn’t do well with strong people like myself, it works well since my magic was still young and mostly untrained when I started to use it. My magic grew to accept and kind of love it. Every time I think I need to change the spells to my own, my magic refuses to do it.”
“We have someone else incoming,” Jackson said.
Stiles turned to look around and saw that it was a woman who wasn’t Maia. She looked alone, so that meant it had to be the Kitsune. She didn’t move like the one Kitsune he had met and spent long enough with. There was something about her that was wrong to Stiles’ senses.
“Two,” Stiles said. He turned his head to look at the man who looked a lot like the girl. He was moving with more stealth, meant to not let them know that he was there. Stiles grinned at him.
“Well met, Gajos,” the man said.
“You would be the Stone twins?” Stiles asked.
“Yes, my sister Janice and I’m Joseph. You can call us Jan and Joe. However, do not ever say ‘Sure, Jan’ and expect to keep your body parts where they are.”
“Yeah, it’s a good thing to say, Miec here would,” Jackson said.
Stiles elbowed Jackson in the gut, and the man laughed before pulling Stiles into a hug from the side. He scented Stiles’ neck and growled a little. “Down, boy. You can do that kind of thing later.”
“Your aunt said you were sickeningly in love, and it made her gag. I can see why,” Janice said.
“They are well suited. If they had only stopped fighting in high school, they could have been together for longer,” Joseph said.
Stiles turned to look at the man. He could see a slight change in the man’s eyes. Like there was a film over them. Then it was gone. Twins in the Supernatural world were usually some kind of powerful entity. There was a reason they were coveted in most packs but also why sometimes they didn’t fit. Stiles looked at Janice with a raised eyebrow.
“I don’t have visions of the future like my brother. I see the past. Usually, strong emotional moments.”
“That means that between the two of you, I won’t be able to keep who I am a secret, will I?” Stiles asked.
“No, Mischief,” Janice said.
“That’s why my aunt sent you first, along with Sammy. That means that literally, the only person who won’t know who I am is the Kitsune, and I hate that kind of shit. Fuck a year. I’ll probably tell her soon,” Stiles said.
Jackson kissed Stiles’ forehead and kept them pressed there.
“My team is going to be Team Asshole, all right. I’m probably going to spend a lot of time dealing with assholes as well. Jan, Joe, this is my boyfriend and the teams’ second, Jackson Whittemore. This is Sammy Snyder, and he’s a human. Don’t break him.”
The twins nodded their heads and looked at Sammy with a grin on their faces.
“Another incoming,” Joe said a few seconds later. He pointed over his shoulder.
“That would be Maia. I have no clue what she knows about me. My aunt is lacking in telling me the things that I really need to know about the team.”
“Hail and well met, my friends,” Maia said. She stepped up to them, close enough for them to hear what she said but far enough away that it still took a minute for her to reach them. “My name is Maia Deering.”
The introductions went around, and it was Stiles who stepped up to shake her hand. She shook it and smiled at him.
“I feel like I know you,” Maia said. The smile on her face fell into something else. “I had hoped you were someone else. It was a small part of why I told your aunt I would love to be on this team.”
“I bet. Joseph, how long?” Stiles asked.
“She’s gonna be a good ten-minute sand we meet her over here,” Joseph said as he waved toward where a small copse of trees was.
“Good. Then let’s go over there. Miss Deering, please follow us.” Stiles took off first and walked over. From the area, there was a perfect place to hide. No one would see them.
“If it wasn’t for the fact that I know you are safe, I would call this fucking stupid to go into a hidden area with a group of strangers,” Maia said.
“Well, it’s not like you wouldn’t stay alive,” Stiles said.
“This is true, but there are things that one endures that one wishes they had died instead.”
Stiles nodded his head at that. He looked at Joseph to see that his eyes were clouded over again. “What do your Elf eyes see?”
Joseph smiled, and his eyes returned to normal. “My Elf eyes just see a lot of happiness as well as misery.”
“As it normally is with all teams. Maia Deering, welcome to hell,” Stiles said. He plucked the ring off of his finger and smiled at her. Maia stopped and just stared at him.
“I don’t…now I…what kind of magic is all over you?” Maia asked.
“A lot. Your memories of Stiles are a little suppressed and what I looked like, so you don’t make the connection. You remember everything about what I look like when you are around me.”
“You are fucking badass. I keep on hearing about Mieczysław and what he does in the world, and here it’s the fucking geek kid I went to school with. No wonder Celeste was giggling when she sent me along here from New York City. Holy shit.”
Princess barked, making Maia look down at her.
“Well, I really should have paid attention to the dog. Hi, sweetheart.” Maia dropped to her knees, and the leash was let go of so that Princess could run over to her.
Stiles turned to look at the twins. “This is what I actually look like. When we are alone, and I know that no one will actually see me, I’ll probably take the ring off a lot.”
The twins nodded their heads and then laughed when Princess knocked Maia over.
“So what is the job?” Janice asked.
“Hmm, escorting a prisoner from jail to a prison. We are just going as backup and will not be seen by the cops. If the prisoner escapes, we will take them in with minimal harm and no death. This person needs to spend the rest of their life in prison for what they did. It’s a Wendigo that wasn’t just killing humans to eat but just slaughtering them and not eating. They gave in to their bloodlust more than they should have. They tried to be good and just eat animals, but it failed.”
“Damn,” Janice said.
“Yeah. It was disgusting when the killer was found. Thankfully, there was no need to hide much of anything when it came to their activities since they were found in the den where they were keeping their kills. The humans had no issue convicting, and now they are headed to prison. They will be in the supernatural wing of it.”
“And we are going to make sure someone who isn’t in the know doesn’t fuck up shit,” Jackson said.
“Yes, Jackson, that’s the long and the short of it.”
It wasn’t the most glamorous first job, but Stiles’ magic was needed, and the prison transfer was actually happening a week earlier than it was supposed to be, and the team that Celeste had tapped into it were not available. So Stiles and his team were being tapped for it.
“Here she comes,” Jackson said.
Stiles turned to look at the entryway of the copse of trees, and he saw a person heading toward them. He slipped his ring back on and waited to see what she was going to do. About three feet from the far side of the opening, she tripped. She looked like she tripped over nothing, which wasn’t impossible. It made him laugh. She was beautiful and looked like a deadly warrior. She had a belt on that Stiles had seen once before in a book. The details were different, but he knew it. That was a sword. It was kind of a magical feat to have one of those. It was also something that he hadn’t thought about. He would have to see about adding something like that to his weapons that he carried on his person.
“Well, meet,” Stiles called to the girl.
“Hello, I’m Kira Yukimura,” the Kitsune said.
“Mieczysław Gajos and this is my boyfriend, Jackson Whittemore. Then we have Maia Deering, who is on the ground with my familiar, Princess, on her chest. Then we have the Werewolf twins Janice and Joseph Stone and finally human Samuel Snyder.”
“And your boyfriend?” Kira asked.
“Werewolf, and a little extra.”
“Kanima,” Jackson said.
Stiles kept his mouth shut on praising Jackson about that. He had gotten so much better at admitting what he was to people without shame. His eyes were still blue over the guilt of some of the people he had killed. Stiles didn’t think that he would ever regret Isaac’s father. Stiles reached out and cupped the side of Jackson’s face to pull him into a kiss. He kept it chaste, just a peck on the lips before letting him go.
“So this is it—the team. We will be heading out later today to head down into California. I have the SUVs ready to go. I’ll drive one, and who wants to drive the other?” Stiles asked.
Sammy raised his hand.
“Sweet. So who is going with Jackson and me?”
Maia raised her hand, and Kira did as well.
“Then Joe, Jan, you are with Sammy. Now I am hungry as hell. I reserved a room at a slightly swanky place in town. We are all going to head there, and Kira, don’t worry about changing. We will be using a side door to get in and out so no one will notice your very lovely Marvel leggings.”
Kira blushed, but she didn’t look ashamed.
“Just for future reference, I’m mostly gay. Jackson is all gay except for one girl he was with for a while. No one else has to give up their sexuality. However, if any of you make even a slightly off-color joke about gender or sexuality, I will fucking make sure you are burned to ever work in this world again.”
The other five nodded their heads up and down pretty quickly. Stiles’ files on them didn’t have that kind of information, as Celeste didn’t think it mattered since most supernatural races were not nearly as homophobic as the rest of humanity.
Stiles wasn’t sure what the hell Celeste was smoking as he looked at the main deputy who slipped out of the transport vehicle. He knew exactly who was in the lead vehicle behind.
“Holy shit, your aunt is a troll, all right,” Sammy said.
“What?” Kira asked.
The team was all in one vehicle at the moment. It was still an hour before the prisoner was leaving the jail cell and being moved to the federal prison he was going to.
“That’s my father,” Stiles said as he pointed at where Noah was getting out of his SUV.
“Dude,” Kira said.
Stiles laughed at Kira. He felt like they were going to get along really well. He opened up his door and looked at the team. Janice was sitting on Joe’s lap in the back seat with Maia on one side of them. Sammy and Kira were in the third row of seats. “Jackson, stay just for now. I know you don’t like me going without you, but I don’t want anyone to see you. I know we are in Beacon City, but still. It will be best to have you stay here.”
“I’ll stay with him,” Sammy said.
“Okay, then the ladies and I,” Stiles said. Stiles opened up the door to the SUV and slipped out of it. He waved for the girls to go with him. He waited for them to join up with him, Maia slipping her arm through his before he started.
It was just Parrish, Wilcox, Roberts, and Parrish who noticed them first.
“Incoming boss,” Wilcox said.
Stiles winked at the man, and he kind of recoiled.
“May I introduce my companions?” Stiles asked.
Noah laughed and shook his head. “Sure.”
“Kira Yukimura, Janice Stone, and Maia Deering,” Stiles said.
“And you are?” Roberts asked.
“Really?” Stiles asked. Then he thought back and realized that he had never talked to them when he looked like this. “Sorry, um Mieczysław Gajos.”
Wilcox’s face didn’t change, but Roberts’ did. He looked a little green under the gills as it were.
“So soon?” Roberts asked.
“I graduated. Luck just happened to have this be the first since the transfer was upped by a week. Adam is still hunting that group of Hunters who broke the code in Los Alamos. They get help from someone, and Adam isn’t stopping hunting them until he has them.
“Fucking hell, that didn’t feel like four years,” Wilcox said.
“What’s going on?” Maia asked.
“Those who were around with me growing up. They are remarking that they don’t think I should be as old as I am as they have not noticed the passing of time.”
“Watch it, Miec,” Roberts said.
“They should not know this,” Wilcox said.
“Well, they do. And I don’t mind Parrish knowing either. Anyway, I grew up with Sammy and Jackson, and I know Maia from Assisi. The twins are magical, so they see the past and the future. I wasn’t going to keep everything from Kira; that wouldn’t be right. If Celeste wanted me to keep things from her, she shouldn’t have stacked shit against her.”
“Agreed. So the van is warded. Adam thinks the wards are enough, but he also set them a month ago before leaving. He said last night that you would be able to up them if needed given your magic and his know each other.” Noah seemed like he was trying to get things back on track.
“Yeah, I’m going to send Jackson and the guys to get some food as I know I will be hungry, and they will get that way. Sammy knows enough snacks that he’ll get some stuff for me, but I want tacos from Jimmy’s.”
The SUV started up a few seconds later, and it backed out.
“Gotta love a Werewolf’s hearing,” Stiles said.
“The rest of the deputies will be coming soon,” Noah said.
“Yes, and by the time that they get here, we will be in our SUVs and mostly hidden from them. Joe will drive the other from where we parked it.”
“I have the updated file on how he’s been acting since his updated sentencing. He’s too calm for me. That’s why I asked Celeste about this and wanted her help.”
“I get that.” Stiles took the file from his father. “So when this is all done. You have to stay to do the paperwork. Wanna send the rest of the guys home and drive home alone?” Stiles asked.
“Sure. I can do that. Especially if I get to hang out with you.”
“Yeah. I can send the five of them around, and you can hang with Jackson and me for a meal.”
“Or I can get to know your team. Stiles, Celeste told me that this team would be your family. I want to get to know all of them a little better. It’s been years since you hung out too much with Sammy. I’ve given Jackson the whole speech, but I need to make sure the others are worthy of you.”
“Aww,” Kira said.
Stiles elbowed her a little, and she just did it right back to him.
“Sure. We can do that. I can get a room somewhere so that I can take this ring off. Okay. I’ll go over here and look at the file. The guys will be back with food. Girls, go over the vehicle, and then I will. Maia, you will know Adam’s magic as it matches the ring I wear. Anything else, cut it out like cancer,” Stiles said.
“You got it.”
Kira, just protect. Janice, tell me what you can about the history.”
Stiles wasn’t shocked when he settled down that his father walked over to join him.
“So how does seeing the future thing work?”
“He can’t make it happen. He gets feelings though. I’ve got him trained already to just tell me that he has a bad feeling about this.”
“As if I expected anything else from you,” Noah said. He laughed and relaxed back on the bench they were on.
“You really shouldn’t, Daddio.”
“It’s gonna be hard to not call you son.”
“I know, but someday it might be safe. Someday we might have this country under better control.”
Noah nodded his head.
Stiles looked at the file and started to read again. He was excited about the information inside of it. Technically he shouldn’t have it. He had many things he shouldn’t have when it came to jobs that he took with other people. This was his first job when he was the lead without a backup person. He needed to do his best.
Stiles had lost sight of the transport van two miles back, but he was okay with that. Sammy has his SUV on track while keeping an eye. Stiles was more interested in the vehicle that was following them. It had passed them at some point when they had headed off to do a stop after four hours to swap drivers at the same time that the transport van did. Then they had passed it twenty miles later. It was like they were playing a game of leapfrog.
“I don’t like this,” Jackson said from where he was driving.
“No, shit. That is why we are back here.”
“I don’t like this either,” Maia said.
Stiles turned around in the passenger seat to look at Maia and then at Kira. He dialed Sammy’s number, but it went to voicemail. He called Janice and then Joseph. It was the same for them, and then as traffic started to slow down, the car they were following sped up, weaving in and out of traffic in a way that said they had a goal.
The last number that Stiles tried was his father’s. The phone was picked up, but before Stiles could say a single thing, there was the sound of talking.
“We have mass casualties and civilian vehicles thrown wide. The two officers in the back of the vehicle were killed, and the driver is barely holding on.”
“Jackson, get us up there. Girls, get ready for a fight.”
There was a garbled sound of talking.
“Yes, sir, it was a bomb of some kind. The van was checked and rechecked before we left, and it was never left without someone on all four sides and in the back of it after it was checked the last time.”
Stiles looked at Jackson, who had his eyes on the road. He took the SUV off the road and just followed the grass up to where it looked like a warzone. Stiles was the first out when the SUV stopped. He snagged his backpack and rushed to where his father was with the driver.
“Sir?” Stiles asked.
“East. He went east with another person who was waiting.”
The car had been just seconds in front of them and was sitting there with deputies from the escort vehicles, all aiming weapons at them.
“Jax?” Stiles asked.
“Wolves the lot of them.”
“Dad, mountain ash cuffs, on them. I’ll find the escaped convict,” Stiles said.
Sammy, Janice, and Joseph looked a little scuffed up and were not happy. Princess was at Sammy’s legs, looking into the woods.
“GO,” Stiles said. He pressed on the rune that he had added to her collar that unclipped her leash. She took off with Jackson on her heels. They were a good pair on hunting down scents. Stiles felt a little bit of happiness from her at being allowed off of her leash, but it disappeared seconds later into the hunt.
Jackson was the best at hunting down scents. The twins were okay at it, but they had never been trained for that kind of thing by their pack. Jackson was going to enjoy teaching them.
Stiles didn’t pull any weapons; he just followed the feel of his familiar as she rushed through the trees with Jackson as her back-up.
“Jackson’s following Princess?” Sammy asked.
“Yup, we spent this past spring break at school training them on it. I can follow her, which means I follow him.”
The next half an hour was spent catching up to the Wendigo trying to escape justice.
Stiles wasn’t sure what the hell the Wendigo thought would happen.
When Stiles finally got close enough to Jackson to know that he was close, he realized that Princess wasn’t growling. She was barking.
Jackson was sitting on a tree that had fallen at some point. He looked down at a guy on the ground and looked to be knocked out, given the blood on his head and how Princess was sitting on his back.
“Issues?” Stiles asked.
“No. Actually, Princess jumped at him from behind, and he tripped over a root and then cracked his head off a tree. He knocked his own ass out. I did use the stuff you gave us to make sure he stayed out.”
“That was almost anticlimactic,” Stiles said.
“Says you who didn’t have to chase a fucking dog through the trees,” Jackson said.
Princess turned her head to growl at Jackson, who just growled back at her.
“I kind of pity you,” Maia said.
“Eh, they get along well, but Jackson is a jackass, which everyone knows but they love snarking at each other in their own way. Which means they talk in growls,” Stiles said.
“Who has the cuffs?” Jackson asked.
“I do,” Kira stated as she headed over to where Jackson was, holding out the cuffs.
“Good. Good. Okay,” Jackson got the cuffs on the Wendigo, and as soon as they were closed on him, he woke up shouting as Princess jumped off him.
“You know, Miec, you had a lot of interesting ideas back in school, but fucking hell. Cuffs that wake up people as soon as you put them on them. That’s a bit of genius.”
“Yeah, it only works when something of mine is keeping them under, like a spell or a potion. Doesn’t really work if he hadn’t begun to wake up on his own despite Jackson’s potion. So yeah. But I’m working on that.”
“You are working on a lot of things, aren’t you?” Janice asked.
“Yes. Yes. I am. I have ADHD. I work on a lot of things and many of them at the same time.”
“Better at managing the ADHD, though.” Sammy grinned as he said it.
Stiles reached out and shoved at him. “I was a child then.”
“You were a teenager, and you took so much you saw sounds once when you had a project that was due and your partner flaked and destroyed it all.”
“Ugh,” Stiles said. “I’m going to get no respect, aren’t I?”
“Pretty much,” Jackson said.
Stiles shook his head. He dropped down into Jackson’s lap, though, and rubbed his cheek against his.
“So let’s get this guy back to my father.”
“Let’s go,” Kira said.
Stiles stopped Roscoe in front of the house Celeste had sent him the address to in New Orleans. The place looked all kinds of creepy, but he really liked it. He wondered who lived there. He also didn’t understand why he couldn’t fly down the ward stones he had made. It had taken him a week and a half of working on them to get them done. Though it had been good practice. The stones that he had been given were old as hell, and they resonated with something that he wasn’t sure was entirely good, but the wards had been soaked up into them.
It was only when he was done that he realized what the malice he felt was. The stones would kill someone who crossed them with the intent to murder. He shook his head as he slipped out of the Jeep. He shut the door and locked it before heading up to the front door of the house. The wards were going to stay in the car until he was sure that this was where he was supposed to be. The address was right, but even within the people who trusted Celeste to get them what they wanted, as far as ward stones went, they didn’t fully trust. Things were changing in the United States when it came to hunters, but it wasn’t fully changed yet. There was still a lot of mistrust for the families that had not moved from Europe to the States. They didn’t trust the Gajos.
Stiles knocked on the door, and a moment later, it was opened to a lady in a business suit. She had a phone in her hand and a smile on her face.
“Yes, yes, the new occupant is here, so I need to go. I’ll call the Robards later and set up the time to go through the house they want to view.” The woman pressed something on her phone before turning to look at Stiles. “Welcome home.”
“Um, I’m just supposed to be setting up a security system,” Stiles said.
“Oh, you are not Mieczysław Gajos?” the woman asked.
“No, I am, but I don’t own this place.”
“Oh, no, sweetie, your aunt owns it. The last team had to leave New Orleans in a very big rush after being cursed by a Voodoo Priest for fucking up a mission horribly. They had a day to get out before the curse would take place. They can’t come to New Orleans anymore. New Orleans takes a special kind of people to stay here and work on protecting it. Your aunt said that you were the best option. The temporary team is not that happy to have been stuck here, but they will be happy when you take over.”
Stiles nodded his head. He knew that his team wasn’t going to be moving around that much the first two years of them being a team. He had just hoped he would be closer to where his father was. However, this was a need. Stiles had learned all about the hive of supernatural that New Orleans was in college. New Orleans was a place that no one had ever thought about being as magical and supernatural as it was. It was like a Mecca for them. The team who worked in New Orleans needed to not be fucking idiots. Which the previous team had been. They hadn’t been malicious, but they hadn’t allowed themselves to understand the place and how people were from all walks there. Especially that black magic wasn’t always bad.
“Come in and see the house.” The woman waved her hand inward, so Stiles went inside. He felt no wards on the house. It was like they had been ripped away. He could feel the painful echo of it. Whoever had gone after the team had ripped apart their wards. Now he understood why Celeste wanted him to have a ward stone on the house.
“There are five bedrooms between the top three floors. The attic was converted into a massive one that I have been told you will probably take over. The third floor has one bigger bedroom than the rest, and I figure the twins will want it. The other three are around the same size and on the second floor. The third floor also houses a library and an office. The basement is fully open and, while finished, doesn’t have any creature comforts one wants of a bedroom. The team before had exercise equipment set into it. The kitchen door has been modified to have a doggie door. Your aunt said you would set wards to where only Princess can go in and out of it.”
“Sounds like this place is mostly set up for us already. What did the other team do? There were eight of them, and none of them were siblings or lovers.”
“They had a pullout in the office, which is still there, and the other randomly slept anywhere else. I guess they didn’t like to sleep in beds. I didn’t ask.”
“Who are you?” Stiles asked.
“My name is Sookie, and please, no vampire jokes. I run a realtor business here in town, so it’s easy for me to make sure that this house is taken care of between teams. I’m fully human, but my family is the local pack. I’ll do introductions for them later. There are actually eighteen packs, but the pack in this sector is mine.”
“Sure. I have no clue when my team gets here, but I’m okay meeting anyone who wants to meet me now. Including the Voodoo Priest.”
“I can set that up. I’ll text you the address of where you will be meeting him for dinner. He only does dinner meetings. Will that be fine?” Sookie asked.
“Good. Keys are all on the kitchen counter. I have to make them as they are magically made. There is enough for each member of your team to have two and then a few extras as well.”
“Thanks.” Stiles walked into the kitchen and found that it was spectacular. It looked like a place that they could eat together and be happy. The island in the middle was massive and had enough stools around it for them all. The dining room was a little formal, but Stiles figured it wouldn’t be used except for research.
Stiles could see them making a home here, and that was what mattered.