Lion Inside – 2/2 – HarleyJQuin

Title: Lion Inside
Series: Werewolves of London
Author: HarleyJQuin
Fandom: Teen Wolf, NCIS
Genre: Crossover, Family, Paranormal/Supernatural, Pre-Relationship, Shifters
Relationship(s): Pre Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Violence – Graphic, Mentions of past DubCon, Canon Typical Violence
Beta: Alpha: Dark_Nights_Syn, Beta: Annabeth_Crestfallen_LeMorte
Word Count: 68,400
Summary: When Stiles is left in the lurch, again, by Scott, and it results in him being attacked by one of the alphas, his dad decides enough is enough and sends him to live with his Uncle Clive Paddington in London. What neither of them realized is that rather than saving him from the supernatural life he had been drawn into, it just pulled him in deeper. Leading to a change that could save the Hales, the Nemeton, and Stiles himself.
Artist: Bibbity88



Chapter Eleven

September 3rd, 2011

“Scott’s a what now?” Stiles demanded. “How the fuck did that happen?”

Derek shrugged, and Peter said, “I suspect a ritual. But I am not aware of one that would boost a beta to an alpha. At least not one that isn’t a dark ritual performed by a darach.”

Dalton asked, “Wouldn’t that take a sacrifice of some sort? There would have to be an alpha spark given to the ritual, surely?”

Peter shrugged. “We aren’t sure, it’s not a ritual I’ve come across in all my reading. Deputy Director Conway has got a few of his magic-users looking into it. Speaking of magic, Stiles, Derek said he overheard Deaton telling you to be the spark that night at Jungle.”

Stiles nodded. “I just thought it was more of his cryptic doublespeak, to be honest, but judging by Dalton and Adam’s reactions there is more to it?”

Peter nodded, “Sparks are powerful magic users, more powerful than druids.”

Dalton snorted. “Druids wish they had the potential magic levels of a spark. Sparks have more power in their little fingers than druids. The only problem is they can go untapped until they learn what they are.”

Stiles looked at him and he said, “What? Can you try that again in English?”

Peter explained, “Sparks work on belief. What a spark wills, will happen in some form, it’s not limitless, but it does rely on the spark knowing how their magic works and how powerful they are.”

Stiles asked, “You think I was a spark?”

Adam shook his head, “No, it’s a known fact that magic users don’t survive the bite.”

Derek said, “He was able to ring Jungle in mountain ash when he wasn’t given enough ash to complete the circle. It held enough to keep me out.”

“But,” Adam hesitated, “All the lore we have written is that magic users, including sparks, shouldn’t be bitten because they won’t survive the bite.”

Stiles said, “How many people kill the alpha that bit them as they are biting them?”

Cora asked incredulously, “You think the alpha spark was stronger?”

Stiles shrugged, “Honestly, I have no idea. I don’t even know if I was a spark or not. I doubt we’ll ever know now.”

Peter had a calculating look on his face as he said, “There would be an easy way to test if you have a human available.”

Stiles frowned, “You think the ash won’t work on me? That’ll screw up my full moon plans.”

Dalton held up a finger, and he said, “I’ll go see if Louisa is still here, she’s one of the few humans on staff. It would be good to know if we need to worry about mountain ash.”

Stiles called out, “See if she has cookies!”

Jackson laughed, “Does your stomach ever quit rumbling?”

Stiles shook his head. “It seems like I’m always hungry at the moment. I only finished a huge breakfast an hour ago.”

“It’s your body adjusting to the alpha spark,” Peter explained, “As you get closer to the full moon you’ll need to eat a lot more, as the first full moon for you will probably be quite brutal.”

Stiles asked, “Worse than Scott’s first moon? I had him cuffed to my radiator, and he still managed to get free.”

Derek nodded in agreement. “Much worse. He was just dealing with basic wolf instincts. You’ll be dealing with alpha instincts and a pack that’s separated.”

Stiles looked crestfallen as he said, “So what do we do if the mountain ash doesn’t work?”

All the born wolves shrugged, and Adam eventually admitted, “I don’t know. We have a containment cell, but it relies on mountain ash to keep an alpha locked away. We also have to factor in that we don’t know how big your alpha shift will be. Often a beta will gain traits from the alpha they inherited the spark from.”

Derek nodded. “I bulked up a bit after I killed Uncle Peter. Not a lot, but enough to require a shopping trip.”

Stiles looked nervous and Jackson asked, “Just how big was Ennis?”

Cora laughed. “He made Adam look tiny. He was about 6’5” and built like a tank. It’ll be interesting to see how much Stiles changes.”

Stiles frowned, “Adam is only slightly taller than me, but yeah, a lot bulkier.”

Adam agreed, “We have been talking about it and we think you’ll maybe grow a few inches, maybe catch up to Dalton, he’s 6’3”, but we all agree you’ll gain bulk.”

Peter warned, “Your pack bond to the Hale Pack may also give you a full-shift form.”

Stiles’ eyes widened, and he asked, “Derek? You found your full-shift form?”

Derek shook his head. “I’m close, but not there yet. Uncle Peter is warning you because we’ve never had a bitten alpha in the Hale Pack. He went through the journals in the vault to try and find more information for you. But all the previous alphas were born wolves. We don’t know how being both a bitten wolf and an alpha will affect you.”

Stiles muttered, “Fuck.”

Dalton entered with Louisa. “Sorry, we had to find some mountain ash. It’s not something we normally keep in the house.”

Louisa explained, “I had some in the car. Now, what do you need me to do with it?” She saw the Skype window, and waved. “Hey there, Hale Pack.”

The pack all waved back. They had heard all about the woman’s lovely cooking. Peter suggested, “Why don’t you try to surround an object like a coffee cup with the ash. It’s how we showed Noah how the ash worked earlier.”

She nodded and she let the ash fall from her hand to form a circle around Stiles’ coffee cup. Dalton leaned in and he tested the ash barrier.

Jackson poked at the barrier and said, “It’s like poking glass, but there is nothing there. Is this what you used around Jungle? Would it have contained me as the kanima?”

Dalton, Adam, and Cora all nodded. Cora said, “The pack I stayed with in South America had a kanima. Mountain ash contained her quite well.” She turned to Stiles, and she said, “It’s your turn.”

Stiles took a nervous breath, and poked at the barrier. It shocked him when his finger went through the area where where the barrier should be. He pulled back before he gathered his wits and reached through the so-called barrier to grab his coffee cup. The teen took in the expressions around the room and on the Skype call before he decided to be reckless, and he scooped up the ash around the cup and let it fall between his hands like sand on the beach. He said absently, “I shouldn’t be able to do this, right?”

Dalton shook his head and with a bit of awe in his voice he said, “No, not at all.”

Jackson held his hand out and Stiles let the ash fall so Jackson could catch it, but true to his dual nature, the ash hit a barrier above his hand and trickled down to the tabletop.

Stiles scowled at the ash and asked absently, “So if I still have a spark it works on belief, right?”

Peter agreed as he watched the expressions on Stiles’ face through the Skype call. “It’s not infinite, but yes, the lore says it works on the belief of the spark; the stronger the spark, the stronger the magic. What are you thinking, Stiles?”

The teen answered his question with another question, “Why does mountain ash repel supernatural beings?”

Peter grinned, “Magic. Everything I’ve read on the subject said that a curse was cast on werewolves using the burning wood of a rowan tree. From that point on, mountain ash has been a barrier for all things of a dual nature.”

Stiles let the ash flow again from hand to hand as he pondered the issue. He looked up at the screen and asked, “So my magic is overpowering the curse? That’s why I can manipulate it?”

Peter shrugged. “I can’t say for sure, as I am not there, but I would assume so. Dalton? Adam?”

Adam agreed. “I would agree with Beta Hale. There is a feeling you get when mountain ash is repelling a wolf, it’s like static in the air. I always thought that’s the magic at work. It’s not there when you are playing with it, but when you were letting it fall into Jackson’s hand, the static feeling was there.”

Peter and Derek both grinned as they saw the calculating grin on Stiles’ face. They knew he was processing what he’d learned. They kept the group distracted, discussing the darach and the investigation into their identity as Stiles stayed silent.

Eventually, Stiles pulled Jackson’s hand towards him again and he let the ash drop over his hand. He screwed up his face in concentration and he watched as the ash was repelled by the invisible barrier, until Jackson could suddenly catch the ash in his hand.

Jackson looked at his hand in confusion as he watched the ash gather in his palm. “How?”

Peter snickered, and he said, “Magic.” He looked at Stiles and he asked, “Darling boy, it’s not just Jackson, is it?”

Stiles shook his head, and he simply stated, “Pack.”

Danny realized, and he grabbed the bag of mountain ash the FBI Deputy Director had left him earlier, and he laid a ring around one of the coffee cups on the table. Both Derek and Peter reached for it, and they were both shocked that the ash didn’t affect them at all. Derek grinned. “Stiles, is this permanent?”

Stiles shrugged. “I think so. As long as I am a member of your pack, it’s based on the pack bond. I wanted my pack protected, and preventing the hunter bastards from using a weakness against the pack, protects the pack.”

Dalton wanted to see if he and Adam had been affected, so he gestured to Stiles, who let some of the ash fall out to Dalton’s hand below his. He wasn’t sure if it was relief or disappointment he was feeling, but the ash barrier still repelled him. The guard was happy that the kid hadn’t accidentally broken the magic of mountain ash for all wolves, but disappointed that he wasn’t part of the kid’s pack. He’d grown close to the mouthy teen over the last few weeks.

Adam muttered, “So it just affects his pack. That’s good.”

Stiles smirked, “What? Were you worried that I accidentally broke magic?”

Peter snarked, “Knowing you and your brain Stiles, that’s not entirely outside of your wheelhouse.”

The teen alpha blushed, and he muttered, “Shut up, Creeperwolf. Ok, now that I am done breaking the rules of magic. What’s being done about Scott?”

Derek shook his head. “Nothing at this stage. He’s just an alpha in the Beacon Hills territory, he’s not the alpha of the territory, and nothing he does will change that. We are going to keep him and Deaton busy for the next few days so the magic users your uncle sent over can help us find and claim the Nemeton.”

Stiles asked, “Shouldn’t you be able to find it, since you’re bound to it as the Hale Alpha?”

Derek nodded, “Technically, but my mother took the memory of its location from both me and Uncle Peter using her alpha claws not long after Paige died. The alpha spark didn’t fix that for either of us.”

Dalton said, “They should be on the way if they’re not already in Beacon Hills. Lord Paddington let us know he sent members of the team to Beacon Hills to assist the FBI with the investigation into the darach.”

“Thanks,” Derek said. “I think they’ve got plans to interview Deaton and McCall tomorrow, which should give us enough time.”

Dalton said, “Right, I need to get these guys back into the library for more studying. Keep us updated, please. Alpha Hale, sorry, Derek, I will contact you and Peter to get ideas for how to contain an alpha without mountain ash.”

Derek nodded. “We’ll check our library and see if there are any notes there from previous alphas.”

-x-

A knock on the loft door woke the Hales and Danny early the next morning. Peter motioned for the other two to stay upstairs as he silently approached the door of the loft.

Peter opened the door only wide enough to see out, and he asked, “Can I help you?”

The woman at the door nodded. “We have been sent by the Earl of Faolán to help you with your Nemeton issue. I am Heidi Vealer, and with me are Jonathan Kore, Gretchen Welch, Alex Fable, and Agatha Gould. Feel free to verify our identity. We understand that the pack is short on trust at the moment.”

Peter nodded, “Thank you. If it’s all the same to you, I would like to take a photo for identification verification.”

Heidi smiled, “Go ahead. We’re happy to wait.”

Peter pulled his phone out of his pocket and he took a photo of the group and quickly sent it off to the group chat.

Big Bad: [Photo attached] Are they all MI5?
Lord Paddington: Yes. Heidi, Gretchen, and Jonathan are druids, Alex is an apprentice druid, and Agatha is a witch. They are there to help you claim the Nemeton while Deputy Director Conway is distracting your local druid. They also want to assess Alpha Hale to make sure Druid Deaton no longer has an emissary bond with the Hale Pack before they proceed.
Big Bad: Thanks. We’ll let you know how they get on.
Lil Red: Don’t scare them off Creeperwolf.
Big Bad: Shouldn’t you be studying Lil Red?

He opened the door wider, and welcomed them in. He asked, “Does anyone need a coffee?”

Heidi held up the coffee holder full of coffees in her hand, “We brought some to share and Jonathan has the pastries we picked up.”

They all got settled at the dining table as Heidi introduced her team properly. Once everyone was seated she said, “Ok, so our plan is for Agatha to find the Nemeton. Her witch magic should be able to find the tree through your bond even if someone blocked the location from you. Once we find it, I will work with Gretchen, Jonathan, and Alex to cleanse the node before we assist you through the ritual to reassert your claim on the Nemeton, well its claim on you, to be precise. We may not need to do the second part. My hope is that once we cleanse the tree that the tree should connect with you on its own. Does that sound good to you, Alpha Hale?”

Derek asked, “Will you swear to keep the location secret once it’s found again?”

Heidi nodded, “It’s likely once the bond settles, the Nemeton will remove the knowledge from anyone who is not in your pack.”

Peter smirked. “Which is why you want to make sure there is no pack bond for Deaton before we leave. I didn’t feel an emissary bond when I was alpha, but I was out of my mind at the time.”

Heidi nodded, “A talented druid can hide their bond to protect themselves and their pack, just in case an enemy of the pack kills the pack alpha.”

Derek scowled with his murder brows at DEFCON 1. “I really don’t want a link to someone who has worked against the pack. So what do you need to do to check?”

Heidi said, “Eat up. We’ll do a health check on the bonds after breakfast. Lord Paddington has warned your London-based pack members what we will be doing, so they will be forewarned when they feel the pull on the pack bonds. We will be working to identify the links you have in the pack bonds, and the health of the bonds themselves. The deputy director also let us know about Beta Lahey, and he has asked us to check that the beta has actually left the pack.”

Derek nodded sadly as he finished his breakfast. “That would be good. I felt the bond snap last night, but I would like to be sure before we leave town.” He stood and put his dishes in the sink before he asked, “Where do you want me?”

Heidi took in the living room and said, “The middle of the sofa is fine, as long as you don’t mind me sitting on the coffee table?”

Derek moved to the sofa, and he assured, “That’s fine. Don’t rush your breakfast, I am still going through the course catalog for GWU so I can work on that while you eat.”

He picked up the catalog and the highlighter he was using the night before, and he continued highlighting the classes that sounded interesting to him.

Eventually, everyone finished eating, and as Danny and Peter settled in with their own catalogs, the magic users settled in around Derek.

Heidi explained, “I am going to reach into your pack bonds and do a basic assessment of the bond itself, then I will work with you to identify each bond separately, so we can make sure there aren’t any that shouldn’t be there. The easiest way for me to do that is for me to hold your hand as we work. I’ve also called Alpha James, so he can be here when we are done.”

Derek held his hand out as his pack watched nervously. Heidi grasped his hand firmly, and he felt the rest of the world fall away.

Chapter Twelve

September 3rd, 2011

She stood in front of him in his mindscape and reassured, “It’s fine, we are still in the loft; this just gives us a way to see the bonds in a more visual way.”

Derek nodded, and he asked, “So what now?”

Heidi grinned, and she reached into his chest and pulled out the pack bonds so he could see what she could see. “This is far more than what I was expecting.” She separated them out so they could see the individual bonds, and she found two that seemed stuck together. She looked through all the bonds and she said, “Let’s identify them first of all. From what Lord Paddington said, you should only have bonds to an alpha, three betas, and a human. Possibly two humans depending on if the sheriff has accepted a bond to either yourself or his son.”

Derek nodded, “That sounds about right.” He looked down and he could see six bonds that seemed to be extra on top of the bonds he should have. “So what are the extras?”

She asked, “Can you feel each one and see if you can identify who it belongs to? Once we identify the bonds you should have, we can put them back and concentrate on the extras.”

Derek felt each one. They were all different colors, and each had a different feel to them. He started touching them and identifying each bond. “This one’s Cora. I can feel the stubbornness and pride. Danny, it’s new but strong. This one’s Jackson, I can feel the underlying confusion he still has around his sense of self.”

She pushed the three bonds back into his chest as he identified them and she said, “Lord Paddington is already getting the kids into therapy due to the shitstorm this town has been over the last year. I would put money on the FBI doing the same for you three that are going to attend GWU.”

Derek nodded. “We need it, Danny, not so much, but myself and Peter definitely do after the last six, wait, nearly seven years. Right, I feel like this one definitely shouldn’t be here, it’s a link to Scott, the new so-called True Alpha. My uncle bit him without his consent while he had the Hale alpha spark. He was feral at the time.”

Heidi took the bond from his hands and she gave it a sharp tug and pulled it from his chest.

He gasped as he felt the bond truly break, and he felt instantly lighter. “If I didn’t have doubts about Scott before, this would have confirmed he was not good for the pack. I feel so much better without that bond weighing me down.” He sifted through the others and he pulled out another that didn’t belong anymore. “This one’s Isaac. He left the pack and joined with Scott as soon as he got the alpha spark. I could have sworn I felt the bond break.”

She smiled sadly. “It’s fragile for sure, but clearly not broken… Yet. It’s possible that Alpha McCall’s bond with you, allowed Isaac’s bond to piggyback it so he could remain within your pack? Who knows?”

She grinned viciously as she yanked the unwelcome bond out of his chest.

He held up two that were very similar in their feel, however, one was a far stronger bond. “This is Stiles and his dad. I guess we have a full pack bond because of Stiles being an alpha? I don’t know for sure, but I am happy to keep the sheriff in the pack bonds.”

She pushed them both into his chest and then she motioned to the last four. She picked up one of the bonds, one that didn’t feel good to him at all, and she said, “I suspect this one is the druid. It’s not a healthy bond in any way, shape, or form, and it should be removed. Even if he was part of your pack, I would have recommended its removal.”

Derek nodded, “It feels like Deaton, feel free to rip it out.”

She worked at pulling the bond free. Unlike the bonds he had with Scott and Isaac, this one did not want to budge. He put his strength behind rejecting the bond physically, as well as grabbing it and trying to yank it out of his chest. It took them a while, but eventually; the bond was removed. They were both left panting and trying to catch their breath.

Heidi snarked, “He’s not a darach… yet, but he’s not far from it.”

Derek agreed. “I’ve had my doubts about him for a while, but I didn’t realize he still had an emissary bond with the pack. I understand that while you’re here, you will be putting some wards up around town to protect the territory?”

Heidi nodded. “That’s actually why we were sent. Baron Paddington wanted his dad’s house and the sheriff’s station protected. Lord Paddington extended that to the pack and your territory, including the loft and the preserve, and especially the Nemeton. You’ll need to get yourself an emissary at some point. Maybe look at getting your young human tested to see if he’s a druid. Danny? Judging by the feel of his pack bond, he has potential and the calmness that is needed by an emissary. There are people at GWU who can train him if he is a latent druid and you decide to go down that route.”

Derek chuckled, “I would have suggested Stiles, since he appears to still be a spark even after the bite; but his idea of diplomacy is explosive.”

Heidi raised an eyebrow in question and he explained, “If someone is trying to take the territory, his first response is to kill them all. He doesn’t see the point in negotiations if someone has trespassed. Hell, it’s how he became a wolf and an alpha all in one attack. The alpha attacked him while he was out on patrol. He was going to be a message for me that humans don’t belong in wolf packs. Stiles’ first reaction was to stab him in the leg so the guy would get his fangs out of his shoulder, then he spun and stabbed him in the heart with a wolfsbane imbued knife.”

Heidi laughed, “He’s unmistakably related to Alpha Paddington.” She looked down at the three bonds that were left. “I think these two are your Uncle’s bond and the banshee that he used to resurrect himself, and that last one is the Nemeton.”

Derek nodded. “I agree, that ghostly tether feels like Lydia. Will it harm him if we remove it?”

Heidi examined the bond with her magic, and she slowly shook her head. “It shouldn’t. If anything, it feels like it’s draining him, like she’s pulling on the bond for some reason.”

Derek frowned. “She won’t be doing it consciously. She hates Uncle Peter for biting her. Honestly, I’m not even sure he knew she was a banshee when he bit her. He was mostly feral and desperate for revenge on those who burned our pack to the ground. I think he was building a pack to try to regain some level of sanity.”

Heidi agreed, “I can feel it in his pack bond. They tortured him for years after the fire, that’s why he was feral. He is very loyal to you, though, and to the pack and Baron Paddington.”

Derek grinned. “They live to snark at each other, it’s hilarious to watch. I think he respects Stiles because he was the one to work out why he was attacking people. He worked out their links to the fire and didn’t condemn him for it like Scott did. I mean, Scott stood by his bed while he was still comatose, and said to me that the Argent’s must have had a good reason for attacking our pack.”

Heidi looked at him with an incredulous expression and demanded, “And they are trying to claim he’s a True Alpha? Are they on crack? Has he changed at all since he made that statement?”

Derek laughed. “Hell no. If anything, he’s only gotten worse. He was quite happy to have me paralyzed so he could force me to bite Gerard Argent. I was so sure there would be a pack bond for the hunter, and you have no idea how grateful I am that there isn’t.”

It incensed the druid on his behalf. “He bite-raped you? Bloody hell.”

Derek shrugged. “He also worked with Deaton to switch out Argent’s cancer meds for mountain ash, so the hunter would die slowly of bite rejection. Honestly, if it wasn’t for Stiles, Peter would’ve killed him already for his assault on me. I mean, the kid knew that Kate had groomed me specifically for information she could use to attack my pack, and he still took away my ability to say no. But we both know that Stiles would be gutted if we were to kill him, even if the pragmatic side of him would recognize that the kid deserves it.”

Heidi nodded sadly. “I think that karma will eventually bite him in the ass, and if not, you can deal with him and his pet druid when you return after your training.”

Derek agreed, “Right, so let’s deal with this tether to Uncle Peter.”

She said, “We all read the information Baron Paddington gave his uncle on your uncle’s resurrection. So if there is any fallout, Gretchen will be able to work on healing him with Alex’s help. The bond to the Nemeton feels odd, but that could just be your lack of knowledge around its location and the fact you haven’t visited it since you became an alpha.”

She pushed the Nemeton bond into his chest before she inspected the bond with his uncle and the ghost tether to the banshee. She asked, “She’s definitely not pack?”

Derek shook his head. “Her best friend is Allison Argent; Scott’s girlfriend.”

She gave him a hefty side-eye, and she asked, “He’s dating an Argent? And her parents approve?”

The alpha laughed as he remembered exactly how much her mother didn’t approve. “God no. Her mother tried to kill Scott by gassing him with an aerosolized form of wolfsbane. She hoped to make it look like an asthma attack. I rescued him, but in the chaos, I accidentally bit her. She chose to take her own life, rather than be a wolf, and Allison blames me for killing her; even to this day.”

Heidi promised, “She will be getting a reality check before we leave town. Right, I’m going to separate the tethers before I pull hers from you completely. It may be like the druids, so I will appreciate any help you can give me.”

They worked inch by inch to separate the bond and its tether until they fully separated them. She carefully pushed the bond for Peter into his chest, and the alpha grinned in relief at how much better the bond already felt.

The druid said, “Right, this is the last bond, let’s yank this sucker out.”

Derek asked, “Will she feel it?”

“Only if she was aware of it,” Heidi confirmed. “Otherwise she won’t notice it breaking.”

Heidi yanked hard and the bond to Lydia faded away, leaving him with just the pack bonds that belonged.

The druid let go of his hand in the real world, and the alpha opened his eyes. He took a deep breath as he checked on both Peter and Danny, then said, “That feels so much better.”

Gretchen was sitting beside Peter, and they both looked exhausted. The alpha asked, “How are you doing, Uncle Peter? Heidi said you should feel better now that the tether to Lydia is gone.”

Peter nodded. “I didn’t realize it until you removed it. The tether was why I felt so weak. I have to assume it was why I was healing so slow from my resurrection. Gretchen has done what she could to finish up my healing that started in limbo. You didn’t keep her in the pack bond?”

Derek snorted and shook his head. “No way, not when Stiles doesn’t trust her, especially since she’s best friends with Allison. We can make the decision to invite her into the pack later, if we want to. But right now, it’s a hard no.”

Agatha cleared her throat to get everyone’s attention. “Heidi, does he have a bond to the Nemeton?”

Heidi nodded, “A very powerful bond, but there is something wrong with it.”

Peter suggested, “Could it be due to the tree being cut down? My sister had it cut down years ago when it was rotting and becoming a hazard.”

Agatha was speechless. “She… What? How?”

Gretchen said, “I think what she’s trying to say is… What. The. Fuck. Seriously, who told her that was a good idea?”

Peter rolled his eyes. “Probably Deaton, but I am not 100% sure. I was away at college when it happened.”

Agatha stood, “Let’s go to the preserve and find us a Nemeton.”

“Wait,” Heidi said, “We just need to do the proxy bond for Alpha James before Alpha Hale confirms his bond with the tree, otherwise there will be issues when he leaves town next week.”

They got the bond sorted, and the druid helped set up the bond as a proxy territory alpha bond, one that could be broken once both parties were in agreement that his time as proxy was complete. Once that was done, they headed to the Hale house ruins in the preserve.

It took them several hours to narrow down the location of the formerly majestic tree. The entire time it was in the back of their minds that if Deaton left the station before they found it, he would find them before they could reaffirm the pack’s claim to the node. Especially since the health check of the bonds took a lot longer than expected. When they left, Sam confirmed in the group chat that they were still questioning Deaton about his alleged kidnapping, and he said they had about an hour before they had to release him.

The druids took one look at the tree and Heidi said, “This is terrible, the tree wasn’t rotting, it was hosting a spirit. Something the local druid should have recognized.”

Peter snarked, “Do you still think he’s not a darach? He was our emissary when he convinced Talia to cut down the tree.”

Heidi shook her head, “His bond didn’t feel like the bond of a darach, just a druid overly obsessed with the balance. He’s definitely someone to monitor though.” She gave the clearing an assessing look, before she barked, “Right you lot, Beta Hale said there is a cellar under the tree. Let’s get in there and see if we can find what they have imprisoned in the tree.”

Peter pointed to the cellar doors that were about six feet away from the stump itself. The four druids searched the cellar, and they heard Alex crow when he found a jar with a firefly inside. “Wow, this feels as malevolent as hell.”

He clambered out of the tree with the jar held carefully in his hands. He said, “I felt it hiding, buried in the roots. It feels like it’s been trapped in there for a long time.”

The four druids watched as the firefly tried desperately to escape the jar. Heidi said, “Right, this is coming back with us to England. We’ll examine it in the warded cleanroom at the manor. I have a container that will hold the jar securely back at the hotel. Even though this wouldn’t have affected the tree due to the warding on the jar, let’s cleanse the tree anyway and see if we can fix the bond to the Hale Pack.”

Alex kept hold of the jar as the other three druids worked to cleanse the tree to fix the bond. Heidi asked, “Can you feel that? I can feel the link to Alpha Hale, but there is another one there.”

Gretchen agreed. “I can feel it; it’s sneaky, and it’s almost piggybacking on his connection. It makes me wonder if whoever it is, is planning something to solidify that bond.”

Heidi shrugged. “Not our problem. Let’s just cut them off at the pass. We can hope that the magical backlash from a healed Nemeton makes it difficult for them to hide. Gods, this feels oily. The sooner we can cut the bond, the sooner the tree can start to heal and maybe grow.”

They all pushed their magic harder to cut the superfluous bond to the tree, and they all cheered twenty minutes later when the bond snapped. They could all feel that the Nemeton was excited at the rebuilt bond with the Hale Pack. When she was finished with her ritual, Heidi said, “Alpha Hale, you’ll need to bleed on the tree and confirm your vow of loyalty to the Nemeton. Just as I explained on our walk here.”

Derek approached the Nemeton and while pulling on the bond he had to the tree, he slashed his palm and let blood fall to the stump. Silently, he reaffirmed his pack’s bond of loyalty to the tree as he explained that Alpha James would be here in his place while he was away training to be the alpha that the territory needed. He felt a warmth down the pack bond as the tree accepted his vow.

Derek pet the stump as he said, “You can ward the tree now so only the pack can find it. Please link the wards to the alphas of the Hale Pack.”

Heidi raised an eyebrow, “Including Baron Paddington?”

The alpha felt it was important that Stiles was included in the wards on the territory, even though he was so far away, so he nodded his agreement. “Yes, please. I can’t explain it. I just know it’s important that he’s included in the wards. All of them.”

Heidi smiled, and she agreed, “Sure. I got a good sense of his wolf through the pack bonds this afternoon, so that should be easy enough to do.”

They decided to ward a square mile area of land so that if someone was outside the wards, they wouldn’t be able to see the tree to see if they were in the right place. They also added intent wards, so if someone was roaming the preserve, looking for the Nemeton specifically, the wards would alert the three alphas so they could intercept the intruder, depending on who was closer at the time.

While they were in the preserve they also checked out the Hale house ruins, which would be torn down soon to make room for the new build. The magic users promised to arrange warding as soon as the foundations were ready, and they would ward the house itself as soon as it was finished.

Chapter Thirteen

September 3rd, 2011

At the station, Sam was getting regular updates from the group chat as Derek was going through his examination of the pack bonds. He could tell it was taking longer than any of them expected, but he was calm as he watched the feeds from the two interrogations. The druids had assured Peter that the delay was not unusual with everything they had heard about the events of the previous year in Beacon Hills.

He focused on the screen showing the interview with Scott McCall, when he noticed an unexpected flinch from the alpha during his questioning. The new alpha just shook it off like it was a shiver down his spine, and he answered the next question as if nothing was wrong. He glanced at the teen’s mother, and she didn’t seem to notice anything amiss.

The sheriff looked up from his phone and said, “Huh, Danny just said that Scott had a pack bond to Derek; the druid just broke it.”

Sam grinned. “That explained the flinch. So it’s likely Deaton still has a link too.”

Both men then focused on the video feed of the druid. They knew if he still had a link to Derek, his reaction would be more obvious. They were not disappointed. About half an hour later, Deaton seemed to freeze before he grimaced in pain and anger.

Noah smirked. “Wow. That’s the first time I have ever seen him show anything but a calm demeanor. I always wondered what it would take to crack his stoic mask.”

Sam asked, “You mean that serene mask was normal?”

Noah nodded. “Absolutely. I have seen nothing but that calm mask since I met the man nearly 20 years ago. He’s been treating the K9 unit since he moved to town.” The sheriff saw the shifty look on the vet’s face. “He wants to leave. He’s going to want to leave to see if he can find out what happened.”

They heard him through the speakers as he demanded to be released. Noah commented, “You might need to take over, so he recognizes the seriousness of the situation.” He considered the facts, “Can you threaten him with making a false statement? It’s clear the kidnapping was staged and doesn’t match the MO of our current killer, which he shouldn’t know.”

Sam agreed, “I’ve eliminated him as the darach… But personally, I believe he’s sitting right on that border between druid and darach. I agree with you though, it’s time I take the interview, and I think we can threaten him with more than making a false statement.”

Before going into the interview room, Sam requested that Peter send him a text once they were done and away from the Nemeton, then he turned off the group chat notifications. He didn’t want to release the druid until he knew the Nemeton was safe.

Deaton stuck to his story that the killer kidnapped him with a knock to the head, and he woke up to find he was hanging from the noose in the circle of weird ash. They went around in circles for nearly two hours, with Sam approaching the interview from different directions, trying to budge the vet from his stubborn position.

Sam finally opened the file he had in front of him and placed several photos down slowly on the table as he said, “You stated, on the record, that you heard a suspicious noise outside the clinic and that you sent a text to your assistant to warn him. You then stated that someone knocked out, and the next thing you knew, you were hanging from a noose inside a circle of weird ash. Does that sound correct?”

Deaton hesitantly nodded as he looked at the photos. Sam had a near feral grin on his face as he said, “However, these photos paint an entirely different picture. These are photos of you in your car driving across town about an hour before you were allegedly taken. There is no sign of distress on your face.” He placed a sheet of paper on top of the photos then tapped it, “This is a report from your cell company, confirming that you sent the text from the warehouse, not your office as you claimed.”

Sam felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out so he could see the screen and he could see it was Peter declaring the pack was clear and the Nemeton was warded. He looked up with a grin and he placed one last photo on the table, “Additionally, we have a photo of you carrying a long length of rope, a jar of what looks like the powder found in a circle around you, and a ladder into the warehouse. Can you explain this?”

Deaton tried to shift his face into the serene mask he usually wore as he said, “I would like to call my lawyer.”

Sam snorted. “I think that’s the first sensible thing you’ve said all day. Sit tight, we’ll send a deputy in with a phone so you can make that call.”

In the end, they charged Deaton with making a false statement, breaking and entering, and wasting police time. He was fined several thousand dollars and given two years probation. Finally, due to the fact that the warehouse he broke into for his stunt was owned by the Hale family, Derek and Peter requested and were granted a restraining order. Alan Deaton was ordered to stay away from all Hale owned properties for a period of no less than two years.

Once the interview was finished and they released Deaton from custody, the FBI refocused their attention on finding the darach.

-x-

Derek took advantage of the empty loft and called the number he’d been given for Lord Paddington. The older alpha had sent him a private message to let him know he was available if Derek ever had questions. Derek figured surprising Stiles was as good a reason as any.

He timed the call for an hour after his daily call with Stiles, so he knew the alpha would be out of the house and well out of earshot of anyone who could spill the beans.

Clive saw the Caller ID on his cellphone, and answered with a warm, “Alpha Hale, is everything ok?”

Derek said, “It’s Derek, please Alpha Paddington.”

Clive grinned and said, “Then by all means, call me Clive. I insist.”

Derek agreed, “Ok. So the reason for my call, Al… Clive. Everything’s ok. I just had an idea for a surprise and I wanted to know if you would be ok with more of the pack invading your townhouse for a few days? You’re aware that me and Uncle Peter are moving to DC and I was thinking we could do that with a stopover in London.”

“So you can spend my nephew’s first full moon with him?” Clive said, “That’s a great idea. I’ve been trying to find another alpha to help us out, but it’s difficult without telling them of his immunity to mountain ash. Would Danny and Noah be joining you?”

Derek looked at the calendar and tried to figure out the flight times. “I know Danny would like to join us. We could probably arrange it so he only misses a few days of school. I’ll offer the trip to Noah, but with the investigations going on, it would be a hard time for him to get away. The alpha pack has been dealt with, but there is still a darach running around causing havoc.”

Clive asked, “Would you and Peter be willing to stay a week or so? It would be good for the pack to have support as they go through their exams. You’re not due in DC until October, right?”

Derek agreed. “We aren’t actually starting at GWU until the Spring Semester in January. Deputy Director Conway has arranged for some training with his instructors before we start at Quantico; similar, I think, to what you’re doing with Stiles, Cora, and Jackson. Including training at the range, and combat assessments. That’s not due to start until mid-October though; he wanted to give us time to settle in.”

Clive chuckled. “I’ll have to tell Sam I want a live video feed during Peter’s assessments. I know of his reputation and I think he will clean the floor with Sam’s usual trainers.”

Derek sounded proud when he said, “I agree. I know when Deucalion and Kali attacked us at the loft, Kali was quick to capture him before he could attack and incapacitate either of them. That in itself told me a lot about his reputation with the other packs.”

Clive said, “Email me your flight details. I think I’ll keep it a secret from the pack and their guards. I’ll pick you all up from the airport myself, so there is no way the surprise can leak. Book Noah’s flight. Even if he says no, I’ll get Sam to push him into coming. We aren’t sure if Stiles’ anchor is you or Noah, so it would be prudent to have both of you here.”

“Oh boy,” Derek agreed, “Will do. I’ll leave our flights to DC open. Thanks, Alpha Paddington.”

He hung up before Clive could admonish him for the formality, and pulled his laptop across the table to arrange the flights.

-x-

SSA Charlie Duthie, Sam’s second in command, had joined his boss in Beacon Hills after having recently finished his investigation into the remaining Talos Task Force team members. He had found three FBI agents and one NSA liaison that had taken bribes, mostly from hunters, to shut down investigations. He had a feeling there were others that had since left the task force, but he vowed that they would thoroughly vet all incoming team members.

So he was in Beacon Hills when Wednesday rolled around. There had been no new bodies and no reports of suspicious activity from the agents who were in place as orderlies. Sam gathered Charlie and Noah together and asked them, “Is it possible their target was the alpha pack? There have been no new three-fold deaths since the attack at the loft.”

Sam scowled, “Which means we need to check for murders around the prison they are being held in, and we need to research the five-fold knot to see how moving locations would affect it.”

Charlie added, “We also need to stay vigilant in Beacon Hills in case that’s not their target. What a mess.”

Sam looked up the details for Deucalion and Kali in the system. “Right. I’ll send the Delta Team to Colorado to investigate if there have been any ritualistic murders between Beacon Hills and the supermax prison they are being held in.”

Charlie turned to Noah, and asked, “Do you mind if I borrow a couple of your deputies to visit some of our suspects?”

Noah nodded hesitantly, “Maybe. How likely is it that the darach will be able to detect if someone is a supernatural creature?”

Sam shrugged. “I can almost guarantee it. They’ve completed the virgin and warrior sacrifices, which gave them the ability to use glamor magic and strength. Both would definitely boost their magic.”

“I’m reluctant to let my human deputies assist,” Noah explained. “They’ll have no defense if the darach feels cornered and attacks. However, I am happy for you to borrow Jordan and Connor if they agree.”

Charlie nodded. “Sounds good. They are both talented investigators and should be able to put people at ease. They are just going to be verifying alibis for the six deaths. We are hoping the uniform puts regular citizens at ease.”

The sheriff checked his calendar, and he said, “That’s fine, I’ll just need the pair of them on Saturday morning. We’ll be dropping Derek, Peter, and Danny off at the airport.”

Sam suggested, “Why don’t you take them up on their offer and join them in surprising your kid. Take advantage of us being in town. I know Stiles would appreciate having you there for his first full moon. Derek was telling me he’s nervous as hell, especially now that they know the mountain ash won’t restrain him. It’s why Derek decided on the surprise visit.”

Noah asked quietly, “If I put Tara in charge, you will both back her up? There are a few deputies that won’t accept her being in charge. They’re assholes, but with the high turnover due to the recent losses, I am a bit limited in my staffing choices.”

Charlie grinned. “Oh, I’ll back her up. I’ll also put feelers out for more supernaturally-inclined deputies. I think there will be a few around the country that would be keen to move. Especially if it’s to work for a boss that’s aware of the issues that come with being supernatural.”

Noah frowned, “Issues?”

Sam laughed, “Nothing too serious. Just things like weres feeling sluggish the day after a blue moon; or some creatures’ inherent needs, like needing to spend at least a day in the water every month, so no back-to-back shifts; or not scheduling a wendigo on shift with a lamia, as it gets a little messy when they fight.”

Charlie mentioned, “Oh, if your hellhound is caught in a fire, you’ll need to have a cover story ready. He’s fully fireproof. He should be able to pull the shadows in to hide, but some fires burn too bright and he will still be visible.”

“I should write a manual,” Noah joked. “Supernatural Management 101. Peter can help me.”

Sam snickered. “You jest, but that’s actually a great idea. You could treat it as an extension of the Bestiary, and I agree, Peter would be a great help. He was Talia’s Left Hand, but he was also the Hale Pack Lore Master. There is not a lot he doesn’t know when it comes to supernatural creatures. It’s why I am so keen to get him into the Talos Task Force.”

Noah laughed, “Oh, I think we should get Stiles to write it. Maybe he can find a way to use it as a thesis project? He was telling me this morning that he’d learned a lot about researching the supernatural with his ADHD research spirals.”

The sheriff sent a quick text to Derek, accepting the offer of the flight to London before he confirmed, “Right, I’ve confirmed the trip to London. I’ll come back with Danny. I think he’s heading back the day after the full moon so he doesn’t miss too many classes.”

Charlie grinned. “Good to hear. We’ll take good care of Tara. We’ll fully read her in on the supernatural, as she’s your second, and you’ll need someone else in the chain of command who is aware.”

Sam agreed, “It’ll give you someone to commiserate with for the tough cases.”

-x-

A few days later, the team leads were gathered in Noah’s office as they discussed the findings in the case. The sheriff reported first, “So Connor and Jordan were able to speak to all but one of the people on your list. They all had alibis for at least two of the murders. The only one they couldn’t speak to was the new English teacher, Jennifer Blake. They went to the high school to try to catch her there, but she’s been absent since the weekend.”

Sam asked, “No sign of her at the address on file?”

Noah shook his head. “No. I took a look into her background, and it held up to the checks the schools do, but not the deep check I ran last night. Her identity was only set up around four years ago.”

Charlie said, “I’ll put in a request for a warrant to search her home. If she is the darach, we will probably find ritual items at the very least. Delta Team did a search along various routes between here and the prison holding Deucalion and Kali, but there were no deaths matching the MO. They widened the search parameters and found no deaths matching any known ritual. It’s possible the darach was regrouping after the rest of the Alpha Pack was removed from Beacon Hills, but we aren’t entirely sure.”

Sam agreed. “The research team is still looking into the five-fold knot ritual. They agree it’s unusual for the deaths to stop, but they can’t find any definitive proof that the ritual has to be performed over a certain time frame or in one particular place. The one thing they can all agree on is that each group of three has to be performed together, so no more than a few days between them, and all in the same area. They looked into the deaths locally and they confirmed all the bodies were found on the telluric currents.” At the confused look on Noah’s face, he explained, “The ley lines. They all feed into the Nemeton, the great tree in the preserve that was cleansed in the… weekend… Oh.”

Charlie looked up in realization, “If they were connected to the Nemeton, the cleansing would have interrupted the ritual, or stopped it completely.”

“Could it have killed them?” Noah asked. “Stiles mentioned something about magical backlash. He was warning me that cleansing the Nemeton might have affected the vet, but could it have affected the darach? Given they were doing human sacrifices for power and beauty, surely the backlash would have been equal to the damage they had done?”

Sam nodded. “We’ll execute the search warrant while you’re in London. I’ll keep you updated via our group chat.” He checked the time, and he said, “You should get a move on, Connor will be waiting to take you to the airport.”

Noah nodded. “Thanks for looking after the place for me. It’ll be great to see Stiles. Any tips for what I should expect for his first shift as an alpha?”

Sam smirked. “Betas take on traits from the alpha they gain the spark from, and the alpha he defeated was built like a tank. He was 6’5” and huge. Oh, you’ve actually met him. He claimed the body of his nephew that died of an infected gunshot wound about seven years ago.”

Noah’s eyes widened. He remembered the case, as it always seemed off to him. “I do remember him. The best way to describe him is intimidating. I gave him a pass because he was grieving, but he loomed, that’s about the only way to explain it. He was huge. Wait, you’re saying Stiles could get that big?”

Sam shook his head. “Not that big, no. But it’s likely he will grow in height, and I doubt he will keep his lanky build either. There is also a slim possibility of him gaining a full-shift. It’s a gift of the Hale Pack, and from discussions with Peter, most of the initial shifts have happened in times of high stress.”

Noah chuckled, “I think the first shift as a wolf also being an alpha shift would be counted as seriously stressful. Ok, Danny and I are booked on a flight back on Tuesday. Connor has all the flight details and he’ll be picking both of us up when we arrive.”

Noah sprinted upstairs when he got home. He knew he was running late, he had a quick shower and changed into casual clothes for the flight. He packed his phone and the Kindle Peter had bought him into his carry-on. Peter had loaded the Kindle with various books about werewolves, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. He figured the ten-hour flight would be a good time to get some catch-up reading done.

By the time he got downstairs, the Hale boys and Danny were waiting by Connor’s SUV.

“Sorry,” he apologized, “We were having a meeting about the darach and it went a bit long. Sam and Charlie promised they would let me know in our group chat what’s going on once they have more info.”

Chapter Fourteen

September 9th, 2011

The four men stepped off the plane, and saw Lord Paddington and two guards waiting at the bottom of the stairs. However, Derek wasn’t expecting his uncle to sprint across and tackle one of the guards in a hug.

“Monty, you bastard,” Peter yelled, “This is why I couldn’t find you after the fire?”

Derek asked, “Uncle Peter?”

Peter took a step back, and he said, “I was at Columbia with Monty. He was part of a pack on the east coast. I tried to track him down after I recovered from the fire, but no one knew where he had disappeared to.”

Monty smiled sadly. “Anyone who does know where I am was instructed to say nothing. I also instructed them to pass me the details of anyone who tried to get in touch. Especially you, old friend.”

Derek rolled his eyes, and he said, “Knowing Uncle Peter, he refused to leave any details. We’ll be here for a week at least, so you can catch up while we’re here.”

Peter blushed at the accuracy of his nephew’s statement, and Noah and Danny both laughed. It was no secret that Peter was the most paranoid member of the pack, especially after the trauma he’d been through for the past seven years. Noah was pulled into a hug by his brother-in-law. “It’s been too long, Noah. Come on, let’s go get your bags. The kids are holed up in the library studying for their exams next week.”

As they drove to the townhouse, Derek asked, “Do they know we’re coming?”

Clive shook his head. “I am sure Stiles suspects something, especially since I have arranged for a few days off and you both missed your calls with him this morning. I told him I took the time off so I could be there for his first full moon. But…”

Peter laughed. “Yeah, he would have seen through that in a heartbeat. Even if you’d kept your chemo signals neutral and your heartbeat level, he still would have had figured it out.”

Clive agreed. “He’s too smart for his own good. I see a lot of Claudia in him; she would have made a wonderful wolf.”

They pulled up at the townhouse, and Clive led them quietly through the house. He was hoping they would dismiss the extra heartbeats as a shift change of the staff that the alpha had to take care of the large house.

They stood just inside the library entrance, stunned that the three teens were all quietly studying. Noah watched his son as he was focused on his work and realized the wolf cured Stiles’ ADHD, so he no longer had the constant fidgeting that came with the illness. He whispered to Clive, “I’ve never seen him so still.”

Stiles’ head whipped up at the whispered comment and yelled, “Dad!”

The teens all stood, and as Noah wrapped Stiles in a hug, Danny ran to Jackson and pulled him into a hug, while Cora was surrounded by her brother and uncle.

Stiles demanded of his dad, “What are you guys doing here? What about the investigation?”

With a shrug, Noah reassured, “The investigation is fine. Sam and Charlie are looking after the station so I can spend the full moon with you all. They said the first moon is an important one.”

From his spot beside his sister, Derek said, “I thought it would be good to get the entire pack together for your first full moon. It will help you get through it a bit easier.”

Stiles’ face fell, and he burrowed into his dad. Noah asked, “Son?”

Clive motioned them to the seats and said, “Why don’t you all take a seat, get yourselves comfortable, and we can talk. Louisa is going to bring lunch up for all of us in about an hour.”

Derek settled in beside Stiles and his dad on the larger sofa as the others settled in around the room. “Stiles?”

Stiles muttered, “I’m scared, Sourwolf. I remember how Scott was on his first full moon, and he was only a beta.”

Derek chuckled. “Stiles, I’m not worried. You’ve had far better control than all of the betas in their first month. Dalton and Adam said you’ve only had a few wolf-outs since you were bitten. Scott was wolfing-out most days, remember?”

Jackson agreed. “You’ve barely even flashed a fang outside of the house. And you forget, most of us learned how to control our wolves from you before you even turned. You’ll be fine and if you’re not, there are enough of us here to restrain you.”

Peter gestured around the room, “You have two alphas, six betas, and whatever Monty’s partner is.” He took a close look at Eric, and said, “You don’t feel like a wolf.”

Eric chuckled. “I’m Eric, and I’m a kitsune; an Ocean Kitsune. Not quite as strong as a beta wolf, but I’ll be able to help if it comes down to it. After what I have observed, and from the confidence I can feel in your pack, I don’t think it will be needed.”

Stiles smiled, “Thanks. So what’s the plan?” He looked at Danny and asked, “Won’t you get in trouble for missing school?”

Danny smirked. “I told the principal that I was doing a college visit for a school in England that was headhunting me, and I just happened to mention they would be willing to give me a full ride. He fell for it hook, line, and sinker.”

Jackson asked, “So what are your plans?”

Danny scowled. “I was planning to start next September at GWU, but if Scott doesn’t cut the bullshit at school, I think I’ll just test out and join Derek and Peter in January. He’s seriously pissing me off.”

Disappointed that Scott was still causing issues, Stiles asked, “What’s he doing?”

Danny rolled his eyes and said, “He’s determined to find the killer in Beacon Hills. Deaton told him it was a druid gone bad, so Scott is convinced he can find them.”

Jackson laughed, “So, what, he wants you to help track them? Does he even know who they are?”

Danny shook his head. “No, but he expects me to do all the research, since I am smart and know all about werewolves. Apparently, Lydia wants nothing to do with the supernatural.”

Peter shook his head. “She can’t avoid it forever. Her abilities are already developing. It’s why she found the lifeguard at the pool.”

Jackson demanded, “What abilities? I thought she was human. Allison told her she didn’t turn because you didn’t bite deep enough.”

Peter explained, “I bit her while I was feral, and trust me, I bit deep enough. When I bit her, I was trying to create another beta. But she’s a banshee, so she was immune to the bite. I don’t know if it was the bite that brought her abilities forward, or if they were already developing, but she’s already screamed for the dead.”

Clive said, “She’s how you came back? So it wasn’t planned?”

Peter shook his head, and with a snort, he said, “No. My mind was gone when I woke up. The fire burned any rationality out. Limbo gave me time to heal, though. I did some research after they brought me back and I discovered Lorraine Hennessey, her grandmother, was a banshee. She died in Eichen House when Lydia was very young. Lydia’s mother had her committed after Lorraine predicted the death of her partner, but wasn’t able to save her.”

Eric shook his head. “Banshee’s can go insane if they see the death of their loved one and can’t stop it. There are other ways to snap a banshee out of it, provided the daughter knew?”

Jackson snorted, and Danny was snickering quietly beside him. The beta said plainly, “Mrs. Martin would never accept that the supernatural is real. If it’s not normal, she doesn’t want to know. Even being gay is a step too far for her.”

Danny agreed. “She avoids me like the plague. It’s like she’s afraid that being gay is contagious.”

Stiles muttered, “Sounds like we should call her Petunia.”

Noah said, “I remember Lorraine. She was high up in IBM. A gifted programmer, I think. After the accident, she was pretty much catatonic. It was around the time of the Martin’s divorce, which is why Natalie had her committed; she didn’t know how to care for her.”

Danny said, “So Lydia’s involved, regardless of if she wants to be or not?”

Stiles shrugged, “It’s Lydia. If she doesn’t want to be involved, no amount of pushing will force it.” He grinned at Danny. “How do your parents feel about you moving to DC?”

Danny laughed. “Peter has them charmed, so when I mentioned starting in January instead of September, they jumped at the chance. I had Peter and Derek introduce them to the supernatural and then explain the Talos Task Force we are all being recruited for. They think it’s a great use of my talents.” He smirked, “Personally, I think they just hope it keeps me out of jail.”

The guards all stood when they heard Louisa call for them and they returned a few minutes later with trays laden with sandwiches and other finger foods. As she placed the last tray on the table, she said, “I thought something light and easy to snack on would be a good call for lunch while you’re all catching up and planning the full moon. Dinner will be in the main dining room, and I expect you all dressed appropriately for it.”

Stiles blinked, “Seriously Louisa, they’re all tired after their flight.”

Louisa waved her finger at Stiles, “That’s no excuse young man. You all need bulking up in preparation for Monday. You’ll be busy all weekend with training, so tonight we’ll have a proper dinner.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “Bulked up? I’m not sure I could bulk up any further, and Uncle Peter doesn’t need bulking up either.”

Louisa chuckled as she looked them over, “No, I’ll agree with that Alpha Hale, but the rest of your pack? They definitely need to eat more.”

Stiles said, “She’s just mad. We forget to eat when we are studying and we’ve been studying pretty hard over the last few weeks. Next week is going to be brutal.”

Jackson snarked, “That’s what you get for changing your major the week before the exams.”

“I didn’t change it,” Stiles protested. “I added a degree program. I am going to see how I do in the exams to see if I do just a bachelor’s degree or go for a master’s. It would be useful if one of us had experience in forensic accounting.”

Clive nodded. “Someone to follow the money trail would be useful. Especially with the hunters who like to bribe all and sundry to hide their activities.”

Derek sat back and asked, “So how do these exams work? Are they just the first and second year course exams?”

Clive shook his head. “It’s something they do for gifted supernatural students, it’s a graduated exam that uses magic to grade it as they work there way through the exam. So when they show proficiency in the first year material, the exam will update to show second year material and so on and so forth. The results will show the examiner where they should be placed and if there are any courses they have tested out of entirely.”

Cora asked quietly, “You think that’s possible?”

Clive nodded, “I’ve been getting regular updates from Dalton and Adam on your progress, they both agree that Stiles and Jackson will probably test out of most of the criminal justice courses, and Cora, they think you’ll blitz through the computer science courses, which is good. The faster we can get you all through university, the quicker we can get you into full-time training.”

Stiles muttered, “Or it’ll give us time to do at least one Ph.D.”

With a chuckle, Clive agreed. “Or that. I’m sure you’ll all do fine next week.”

Now that Stiles seemed a lot calmer than when he first arrived, Noah asked, “So what’s the plan for the full moon?”

Dalton explained, “We are going to head to Paddington Manor tomorrow. It’s outside of London and has a large warded forest to play in. We’ll be doing exercises with Stiles, we want to narrow down his anchor and try and exhaust his wolf.”

Stiles added, “We also want to do some tests to figure out my baseline skill levels, so we know how much my first shift affects me. We are all curious to see if there is as much of a difference between a standard first full moon and the full moon for someone who kills their alpha right after they’re bitten.”

Noah asked, “It’s happened before?”

Clive hedged. “I’ve seen it once. But the person who was bitten wasn’t aware of the supernatural, and they were too dangerous to leave alive as a wolf. They were damn near feral as a human, let alone as an alpha.”

“Dangerous how?” Derek asked curiously. “I’ve not heard of it happening. I mean, it’s so rare that there is a myth that if you kill the alpha who turned you, it makes you human.”

Stiles laughed. “That myth is why Scott hates you, Sourwolf. God damn, I still can’t believe he actually believed that bullshit. When I wanted to work with you during the whole kanima and Gerard mess, he kept telling me that you stole his chance to be human. I even found a book where it stated that it was a myth spread by hunters to get betas to kill their alphas, and he still wouldn’t believe me.”

Noah said, “He always was a stubborn, self-righteous little shit. I am curious though, how can someone be too dangerous as a wolf.”

Clive shuddered. “They made Peter’s little vengeance spree in Beacon Hills look like child’s play. They took out the alpha, then went after the rest of the pack slowly and methodically. We took them out before they could get to their first full moon.”

Adam clarified, “And by slowly he means the guy took hours to kill them. He was sadistic, and he didn’t care about their age or species. They were associated with the alpha that changed them, so they had to die.”

Even Peter looked a bit green at that. He said, “I’ve read about a few bitten alphas that previous Hale alphas have met, but none killed the alpha that bit them like Stiles did.”

Stiles asked quietly, “Are you all worried that I will gain the mental instability that Ennis had?”

Derek laughed, “Stiles, if there is one thing I am not worried about, it’s about the alpha spark overriding your inner sense of self. Ennis was unstable after he killed his entire pack. It was the lack of a stable pack that left him going slowly feral. You have a pack, and we are all here to help you through your first shift. Trust us to take care of you.”

Stiles blinked at the alpha and said, “Wow, I think that’s the most I’ve heard you say at once.”

Derek blushed and nudged him with his shoulder as he said, “Shut up, Lil Red.”

Peter agreed. “My normally laconic nephew is correct, though. We are all here to help you through your first shift.” He gestured around the room and he asked, “Does anyone here actually look worried? Because honestly, we’re not. I’ve said it before, you will make a marvelous wolf.”

Noah pulled him in for a half hug and said, “I might be new to all this, but even I’m not worried. Now if it was Scott going straight to alpha, I would be running as fast as possible in the opposite direction.”

Derek paled. “Shit, I forgot it will be Scott’s first shift as an alpha.”

Noah leaned forward, and he said, “It’s fine, Sam said he’s got a couple of agents watching him to make sure he doesn’t step out of line.”

Clive chuckled. “Sam finds the young supposed ‘True Alpha’ entertaining… for now. Speaking of agents, I have some dossiers for you to go through while you’re here. Sam and I have been talking, and we’d like to get a few more agents into Beacon Hills as deputies until things calm down a bit.”

Noah frowned. “More than the four you both have already assigned? I know Sam said he was putting out feelers to find others in the supernatural world that would be interested in moving to Beacon Hills to work as deputies. This is outside of that?”

Clive nodded. “In a way, yes. Jordan is pretty much on permanent assignment to Beacon Hills. He’s a hellhound, and they’re drawn to Nemeta to guard them. He will probably be assigned to the task force once they move to Beacon Hills, that is, if he doesn’t decide to stick with being a deputy. I’ll leave that decision up to you all when the time comes.”

Noah agreed. “Then sure, let me know how many you want to send and I can see who we can fit into the budget. We still have three slots open thanks to the attacks by Matt Dahler and Gerard Argent. And as I discussed with Sam, there are also a few I would like to fire but can’t right now due to a lack of available staff.”

Stiles demanded, “Like who?”

Noah said, “Like Deputy Haigh, who refuses to work with Tara because she’s a black woman. He’s also taken exception to Jordan due to his age.”

Stiles muttered, “That entire douchebag squad needs to go. None of them will accept Tara is your second in command.”

Clive asked, “How many of them are there? Do you have grounds to fire them?”

Noah explained, “Three survived the attack on the station, and I have plenty of grounds to dismiss them. The biggest is their lack of respect for the chain of command. Tara is my second in command, and they refuse to listen when she gives them orders.”

Clive nodded. “That’s not too bad then. I have ten dossiers for you to read through and choose from. It will state if they are happy to be long term or just until you replace the deputies you’re missing. Eric will bring them out for you to go through after dinner.”

Noah looked over at his son and saw him in a heated debate with his alpha over his projected coursework. He murmured almost subvocally, “They don’t see it, do they?”

Clive led him out of the room to his soundproofed study and gave Noah a tumbler of whiskey as they got settled in a pair of wingback chairs. He sighed, and said, “They won’t see it until their wolves deem them both in a place to accept a mate bond. I don’t know the details, but I do believe it will be Derek that will delay things. He’s not mentally in a place where he can accept a mate bond on top of everything else going on.”

Angrily Noah muttered, “Fucking Argents.” At Clive’s raised eyebrow, he explained, “You are aware Kate Argent raped him, right? She groomed him, and I suspect somehow drugged him, into sleeping with her for information on the pack. Information she later used to burn the pack to the ground.”

“Stiles had hinted it was bad,” Clive said. “He didn’t want to go into detail, though. We’ve had Stiles and Jackson going through the reports we’ve had from Beacon Hills for the last seven years. They’ve been updating them to be more accurate, especially for the fire and the ‘Year of the Hellmouth’, as they call it. I’m sure you’re aware of Sam’s second, SSA Charlie Duthie, and the audit he was doing on the Talos Task Force members. He’s had several arrested for taking bribes from rogue hunters.”

Noah drank the rest of his whiskey. “What a clusterfuck. Part of me is mad I didn’t know about the supernatural before all this mess, and part of me is glad.”

Clive frowned. “Why glad?”

“I would have been a threat,” Noah said plainly. “If I had been in the know, I am pretty sure they would have killed me. I wouldn’t have accepted that the Hale fire was an electrical malfunction, and they would have killed me to shut me up.”

Clive nodded sadly in acceptance. “You’re not wrong.” He leaned forward in his chair and asked, “What else do I need to know that you haven’t told the others?”

Noah thought about all the things that had been going on in his town and said, “I think you need to push Danny to leave sooner rather than later. I think if he stays, Scott will sink his teeth into him. Literally.”

Clive nodded. “Agreed. I don’t think it will take much for him to go to GWU in January, especially with the kids here going to Oxford in a few weeks.”

Noah said, “They are still looking for a DA to replace David Whittemore. It could be a good way to get another agent in place if you have one that has the required qualifications. The last five applicants who have made it through the vetting process have failed the background check.”

Clive made a note on his phone, and he emailed his second in charge. “Should I be worried about the Whittemores? They’ve been back from their European holiday for a week now, and there has been no effort made to get in touch with Jackson. He’s trying to act tough about it, but he’s upset at the lack of care from the pair of them. Stiles is of course pissed, and would love to visit to give them a piece of his mind.”

Thinking some very uncharitable thoughts about the couple, Noah said, “Just make sure you get your ducks in a row legally, both here and back home. They won’t pull something here until David knows the lay of the land, but I don’t think they’ll react well to knowing that Jackson has seen the will.”

Clive said, “No, from what I’ve heard from the boys, I think they’ll both react quite badly. We’ve been working to keep Jackson distracted. Between studying for the exams and training, he’s been too tired to think of confronting them.”

Noah laughed. “Don’t be surprised if you find Stiles and Jackson missing one day. If there is mischief to be had, Stiles will help.” He glanced at the door and grinned, “Or he’ll send in Peter to scare the shit out of Jackson’s parents. David never won a case against Peter; he was scared shitless of him in the courtroom.”

Clive laughed. “That I can get behind. I would prefer that Stiles not show how easily he can evade his guards just yet.”

Chapter Fifteen

September 10th, 2011

They arrived at Paddington Manor early on Saturday morning. The wolves all scattered to explore the property, both inside and out, while the guards left to do a perimeter check.

Stiles stuck by his uncle, so Clive gave him a mini-tour as he explained, “It’s pretty big, lots of room to run around, and I warded the Manor to the hilt. The rear of the property is mostly forest, lots of deer, rabbits, and other small game to hunt down if you get bored with running.” Stiles still looked hesitant so Clive nudged him and said, “Go find your pack, make sure they aren’t getting up to mischief without you.”

Noah murmured, “He still seems nervous.”

Clive shrugged. “Honestly, it’s a good sign. He knows what can happen on the full moon. He’s seen McCall at his worst, and I suspect he was at the wrong end of Derek’s former betas during the full moon too.”

The pair headed to the terrace at the back of the house. The staff had set up several recliners for everyone to relax on as they enjoyed a rare sunny fall day in England. Clive had arranged for snacks to be available on the terrace all day as the pack enjoyed training with himself and the guards on the back lawn. The manor house was surrounded on all sides by forest and wards to keep intruders out, so the shifters had the freedom to train in their alternate forms.

The guards planned to use the weekend to train the pack in various forms of combat with their shifted forms, how to best use their claws and strength to their advantage. Clive had also invited a few other agents to join them at various points, including the alpha kanima he had in his unit.

Rick was keen to work with Jackson. He wanted to help bring out the kanima traits so they would be more natural for him to fight with. He’d never come across another former kanima who still had access to the tail and venom before, and he was very curious to see a werewolf kanima hybrid. The Hale Pack was also curious to see a full-shifted alpha kanima, especially after seeing the video Peter had of a beta evolving to an alpha kanima.

Clive, Derek, and Peter worked with Stiles on both exhausting him and his wolf, but also training him in what he could expect to happen the night of the full moon. When Clive had to disappear for a few hours to make some phone calls, the Hales talked to the teen about the possibility of a full-shift wolf form.

Peter explained, “It’s not common, but it’s often high stress that causes the first shift.”

Stiles said, “I’m not a born Hale though, so wouldn’t it skip me?”

Derek smiled sadly. “Unfortunately not. It’s magic that’s tied to the Hale Pack, not the Hale bloodline. Mom’s first shift was legendary around our allied packs. She was facing off against a couple of rogue hunters. Peter and I had both been shot and were behind her on the ground. She shifted to her full form, a giant black wolf with blazing red eyes, and she attacked the hunters, ripping most of them to pieces.”

Stiles frowned, and Peter, understanding what Stiles was thinking, explained, “She was a shit alpha in the fact that she thought she knew best, and screw anyone else’s opinion on the matter. But she was a protective alpha. If anyone went after her pack, they rarely survived the experience to try again.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Thank fuck Sourwolf is a better alpha than his mom.”

Peter agreed. “Very much so. For one thing, he actually asks for help. She would never lower herself to accepting help from anyone, especially not a human.”

Derek nodded. “The few humans we had in our pack were married in, and Talia repeatedly offered them the bite until they capitulated. She even refused to accept humans as pack adjacent members. And there was no reading in humans on the secret, ever!”

“Hence why you asked her to bite Paige?” Stiles asked, “Otherwise she wouldn’t be accepted or read in until after you were married?”

Derek nodded. “Yep, not that it helped at all. Ennis was supposed to be a safe option. He had a reputation for being fair and reasonable, far more so than Talia.”

Stiles looked at Derek and he asked, “So no full-shift for you yet?”

Derek shook his head. “No, I think it was a close thing at the loft, but the shift wouldn’t have changed anything and I would have been stuck in my full-shift form until I healed enough to change back.”

“So,” Stiles pondered, “Maybe it still unlocked whatever it is that gives you the full-shift form? Is it just Hale alphas that can gain a full-shift?”

Peter looked thoughtful, “Yes, and no.”

Stiles rolled his eyes, and he said, “Should we call you Deaton? That was vague enough to be out of his playbook.”

Peter nudged him and snarked, “It’s because the answer isn’t so simple. Reading the journals of our ancestors, it said that all pack members could gain a full-shift, it just takes time and effort. But they never really explained how, and the way of it was lost over time.”

Stiles asked, “Have you tried asking your wolf?”

The two Hales looked at him like he had lost it, so Stiles huffed and said, “Ask your wolf. How do you think I was able to hide that Ennis had bitten me through the pack bonds? My wolf told me how. He taught me a bit of control too, so I didn’t shift on the plane on the way over.”

Peter asked, “How does one ask their wolf?”

Stiles shrugged. “I just centered myself and looked for my wolf. He was sitting there, proud as punch just waiting for me. It’s not like a conversation. It’s kind of hard to explain… It’s like feelings, or the knowledge of how to do something being pushed at me.”

“Meditation?” Derek asked.

Stiles wiggled his hand, and he clarified, “Maybe? It wasn’t like I sat there chanting ‘Ommm’ until I found him. I just centered myself and concentrated on what I was feeling. Ugh, I dont know how to explain it. I did it while I was in the bathroom cleaning up the bite wound, but you could do it anywhere. Just center yourself and look inside for your wolf.”

Stiles sat on the ground in the clearing they were in and centered himself the same way he had back in Beacon Hills. He approached his wolf, and he saw the wolf assess him, happy with what he could see. His wolf was a dark gray in color, almost dark enough to be black, but not quite, and he held his head high with his blazing red eyes. The teen sat down in front of his wolf and he asked, “Is the full-shift possible for me?”

He could feel his wolf’s smugness as it pushed the feeling of running free on four legs, although it felt almost questioning, so Stiles asked, “Is there an advantage?”

The wolf pushed images of what he could only assume were Hale werewolf ancestors fighting in their full-shift form, larger than a standard wolf, both stronger and faster than the humans they were fighting would have expected. Stiles sighed, “Wicked, I seriously want that.”

The next thing he knew, he was in pain as his body started to shift and grow. Peter and Derek scrambled back as he started to change and they both yelled, “Stiles!”

Stiles looked at the two Hales when he was more aware, then down at his own feet… Wait… Paws. He tried to ask what was going on, but all he could do was bark loudly. Panicked, he sprinted away from the wolves, barking as he yelled his confusion and tried to remember the last place he saw his father.

Noah looked up from the book he was reading while relaxing on the terrace, when he heard loud barking coming closer, and the two Hales yelling at the enormous wolf headed in his direction. What he wasn’t expecting was for the huge dark gray wolf to try to burrow its way under the lounger he was relaxing on.

Peter and Derek jogged over, with the older Hale holding the tatters of the clothes Stiles had been wearing. When he saw Noah’s raised eyebrow, Derek explained, “We were talking about the possibility of the full-shift. Apparently, after Ennis bit Stiles, he talked to his wolf. It’s how he was able to hide the fact that he had been bitten him from the pack. His wolf had showed him how to manipulate the pack bond so he appeared as a human pack member.”

Noah looked at the awe on their faces and deduced, “That’s not something people normally do?”

They both shook their heads. Peter explained, “We get feelings from our wolves, like a gut feeling when something is off, but we aren’t taught to look inside and talk to our wolves. It’s just assumed we’ll learn what we need to know from our pack.”

Noah smirked as he looked down at his son, still trying to hide under the lounger. “Stiles has never been one to conform to a mold. Stiles, come out of there or I’ll just lift the lounger off you.”

Stiles let out a little bark that sounded almost like a ‘no’ but at Noah’s stern expression he belly crawled out from under the lounger.

By this point, everyone else on the property had joined them to see what the ruckus was about.

Cora looked at the massive wolf, now laying beside the lounger with his head down between his paws, looking despondent, and asked, “Stiles?”

Stiles looked up at her and she said, “You’re a gorgeous wolf, and I think you’re bigger than my mom was, but that could be perception though. I was only nine the last time I saw her shift.”

Peter shook his head. “No, you’re not wrong. He’s a lot bigger than Talia, but she was barely bigger than a standard timber wolf. Stiles looks like he’s around the size of a dire wolf. They’re extinct now, but they were around chest height on a human, and he’s definitely around that big.”

Stiles sat up and looked at the various people around him. It was hard to tell, but he was definitely higher than he expected. Peter moved to stand beside him. He remembered how big Talia was when she stood beside him in her full-shift form so he could show the comparison.

He looked down at Stiles and said, “Sit up as tall as you can, please.”

When Stiles rolled his eyes and sat up straight, the tips of his ears were nearly at Peter’s shoulders. He held his hand out just below his chest and said, “This is where Talia came up to when she stood beside me.”

Jackson asked, “How? I know Stiles is a werewolf, but I didn’t realize shifting into a wolf form was an option.”

Derek shrugged. “It’s an ability that’s appeared in some of the Hale Alpha’s since the Nemeton gifted the Hale Pack with an alpha spark. It apparently used to be an option for the whole pack, but we don’t have any information on how. For alphas, it’s usually triggered by trauma or upheaval.”

Peter chuckled, “Unless your name is Stiles. He was asking his wolf if the full-shift was possible when he changed suddenly.”

Dalton nodded. “He mentioned that when we were taking him through basic control lessons. He told me that he asked his wolf how to hide the bite from his pack and how to control his shift. I didn’t realize he meant it literally.”

Peter explained, “He said he centered himself after he was bitten while cleaning the wound, and then went looking for his wolf. We were talking about the stories of our ancestors who had the full-shift as betas, and he looked at us like we were missing something, then he asked us why we haven’t asked our wolves how to do it.”

Clive started laughing. “That boy. He’s always getting to the point by the straightest line rather than the flaming hoops we all expect to have to jump through.”

Jackson laughed. “He’s always been like that, though. He looks for the loopholes in everything. It’s how he got away with submitting homework assignments that were often not even about the topic we were assigned, and yet still getting graded for it.”

Noah snorted, “Like the history of male circumcision essay he did for Economics. Coach Finstock looked so uncomfortable discussing that in the parent-teacher conference.”

Stiles laid back down and ducked his head under his paws. His dad was sure if he could, he would be blushing.

Noah asked, “So, is he stuck?”

Derek shrugged. “Honestly, we don’t know. The only wolf we knew of that was capable of the full-shift was my mother, and she never documented any part of the process. She just made it look flawless.”

Peter snorted in derision. “After that first shift, she spent hours in her office practicing the shift until she had it down flawlessly. I do wonder though, if Stiles can put his magic to use again. The biggest disadvantage of the full-shift, is it shreds whatever you’re wearing at the time,” He held up the tattered remains of Stiles’ clothing as an example. He looked at Stiles as he said, “Maybe if you treat it like an animagus shift, like Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter, your clothes will shift with you.”

Derek could see Stiles tilting his head in thought, so he crouched down in front of the wolf and suggested, “Do you remember reading Prisoner of Azkaban? Picture Sirius Black when he shifted to his grim form. It’s about the closest equivalent.”

Cora asked, “What about his clothes though, where would they go when he shifts?”

Adam grinned, and he suggested, “Chewie!”

Stiles perked up in understanding and Adam explained for the others in the group, “Chewie is a flerken from the Captain Marvel comics. She looks like a cat but her body, I guess, contains pocket dimensions where she can store things much larger than herself. You could create a pocket dimension for your clothes and whatever else you’re wearing or carrying at the time.”

With a laugh at his friend, Dalton muttered, “Geek.”

Noah asked, “So how does he change back now?”

They all shrugged, and Clive suggested, “I suspect he’ll need to calm down and ask his wolf. Why don’t we all go back to what we were doing? Stiles, head back to the clearing with the boys. Peter, if you could grab him some clothes to change into before you follow them?”

Peter nodded, and he headed into the manor to find the suite assigned to the heir. He was glad he warned Stiles to pack more clothes than he was expecting to use.

On a hunch, he slipped into both his nephew’s room and his own to grab spare clothes. He put them into a backpack for the three of them. He wanted to see if gaining a full-shift form was as simple as talking to his wolf. Something Peter had been doing as a child until Talia had laughed at him for acting like a baby.

When he arrived at the clearing, he found Stiles sitting up and watching him. Derek was sitting beside him and hadn’t even noticed his approach.

Peter asked, “He’s talking with his wolf?” At Stiles’ nod, he asked, “Have you tried shifting back to human?”

Stiles shook his head, and he looked pointedly at Derek before looking back at Peter.

Peter suggested, “How about you try it now while I’m here, and can watch you both. I brought out a few pairs of sweats for you to wear as you experiment.”

Stiles huffed, and he lay down to center himself. He was a bit calmer now that he was used to running around on all four paws.

Derek opened his eyes and said, “I’m close. My wolf is gorgeous, Uncle Peter, he’s pitch black, and I get the feeling he will be a comparable size to Stiles’ wolf. He looks similar to Mom’s wolf, but there is no white around his eyes.”

Peter asked, “So what’s holding you back?”

Stiles grabbed a pair of sweats from beside the two men as he said, “Guilt, I suspect. You need to let that shit go, Sourwolf. I have told you until I’m blue in the face, that what happened to your pack wasn’t your fault. You weren’t the only one she abused in this way.”

Peter murmured, “He’s not wrong. It’s not on you that Kate got close. Hell, even I know it’s not on me. Talia sent me away after Paige died. Your mother should have been watching you to make sure you were coping ok.”

Stiles muttered darkly about know-it-all alphas as he contemplated how to shift while keeping his clothes, especially since the sweats Peter had grabbed for him didn’t fit anymore.

“Sourwolf,” he asked hesitantly. “Can I borrow a pair of your sweats? Mine don’t actually fit me anymore.”

He stood up to show the two wolves that the sweats that were baggy on him earlier were now too short and bordering on too tight.

Derek stood, and he said, “Wow. That’s more bulk than I was expecting. You’re now taller than me by a good few inches, and almost as broad as Dalton.”

Peter pondered. “Derek, I wonder if you’ll change too. I know you said you changed a bit after your first full moon, but to be honest, it wasn’t as much as I expected.”

Stiles took the sweats Peter handed him, and he went back to figuring out how to shift while keeping his clothes intact. He liked Adam’s idea of using a pocket dimension. It was just a matter of working out the best way to do it. He was thinking he could anchor it to a tattoo of sorts.

He asked, “Could I use magic to create a tattoo rather than having to go through the whole ink and needles thing?” He thought back to Scott’s tattoo and snarked, “Oh and the blowtorch, can’t forget the blowtorch.”

Peter said, “You could try it. Spark magic works on belief, after all. You would just have to be clear in what you’re visualizing.”

Stiles nodded to show he had heard the beta as Peter went back to talking quietly with Derek. He was trying to get Derek to understand that Talia should have seen what Kate was doing.

Peter implored, “Your mother was the alpha. She should have been able to scent that you were seeing someone, and it was on her to check your girlfriend out. I still don’t understand why she didn’t. She did it for everyone else; she even did a background check for Paige. Talia should have recognized that after Paige you would have been vulnerable.”

Derek shook his head and said morosely, “She barely spoke to me.”

Peter put his head in his hands and said, “I warned her that you had taken the girl’s death hard. It pissed her off that you talked to another alpha about biting your girlfriend, and rather than deal with it, she acted like a child about it. Something that is in no way your fault. Now, center yourself and try again. Let go of the guilt, and accept your rightful place as our alpha.”

Derek looked over at Stiles as he was about to try to shift again, and saw the new triskelion tattoo on the teen’s back in the same place as his. It did something to him to see the Hale Pack symbol on the teen. He wasn’t quite sure how to describe it, but he felt elated knowing that the teen had accepted his place in his pack. He gasped out, “Stiles?”

Stiles grinned as he tried to look at his own back. “It worked?”

Derek tilted his head, and he asked, “You were trying to put the Hale Triskelion on your back?”

Stiles nodded, “It’s a sign of the Hale Pack, right? I wanted the tattoo to mean something, and declaring my place in the Hale Pack means something to me.”

Peter felt the tattoo, and he said, “It’s not just a tattoo, is it dear boy?”

The teen shook his head. “If it worked, it should work as a pocket dimension of sorts. I figure Chewie has the storage inside her body, but I’m not a flerken, so I needed something else more physical to anchor the magic.”

He wiggled his fingers at Peter and he said, “Want one?”

Peter nodded, “I’ve always wanted the pack symbol as a tattoo, but not the burning that usually comes with it for wolves.” He felt the tattoo on Stiles back and suggested, “You could do a tattoo near your hands for quick access to regular items. It would be a good way to get weapons through airport security.”

Stiles grinned. “That would be worth testing. We would need to find something cool to use as a tattoo though.”

Derek suggested, “What about runes? We had a book in the library at home that detailed runes that could be placed on objects to protect them. You could look into doing runic tattoos and pick something similar so it blends in.”

“Wards,” Peter corrected. “You can use runes in warding. Various runes can do different things; fire protection, intent wards, all sorts of things. We had runic wards around the house and Beacon Hills, but they require that the emissary maintains them. I don’t think Deaton ever did after he took over as Talia’s emissary, as the ones on the trees on the border faded after a few years. When I asked about them, Talia had assured me that Deaton had placed new ones, but I never saw any evidence of it.”

Derek snarled, “Let me guess, you asked where they were, and she told you it wasn’t any of your business even though you were the pack’s Left Hand?”

Peter nodded. “Exactly so. Anyway, the book you mentioned is one of the ones I had smuggled out of the house before the fire, and it’s currently on its way to the house in Alexandria.” He looked at Stiles, who had been listening quietly, “So how do you want to do this?”

Stiles tilted his head in thought before he eventually said, “Remove your shirt, it’ll be easier if I can put it in the same place as ours. What’s the bet the others will want one too?”

As his uncle removed his shirt and sat down in front of Stiles, Derek nodded. “Cora definitely will. She loved mine when I showed it to her last night. I’m not sure about Jackson, Danny, or Noah though.”

Stiles shrugged and put his hand over Peter’s back between his shoulder blades. His hand was there, more for visual aid than anything else. He closed his eyes and pictured the tattoo he created on himself and the triskelion tattoo on his alpha. Once he had the image firmly in his mind’s eye, he pushed the magic into the beta wolf. He made sure that the tattoo would have the option of functioning as a pocket dimension for whatever he is wearing or holding when he shifted into his full-shift form. He tried to think through all the possible loopholes before pushing his magic so Peter wouldn’t have to have it done a second time.

Derek grinned as he watched the tattoo form on Peter’s back, and he could feel the same type of magic in it that he could feel from Stiles’ tattoo. He asked, “Would it be possible to alter my tattoo, so it does the same thing?”

Stiles shrugged, “If I can’t I’ll just overlay the same tattoo I did on myself and Peter over the top of the one you already have.”

Derek grinned. “That’s probably easier, and from watching Uncle Peter’s face, it didn’t look like there was any pain involved.”

Peter shook his head. “Definitely no pain. I could feel it as it went on, but there was definitely no pain.”

The alpha was already shirtless from his earlier attempt at the full-shift so he turned around so Stiles could place his hand on the tattoo that he’d gotten while living in New York. His alpha had been pissed that he’d done it without her permission, but by that point, he’d been past caring what she thought. She’d been pretty clear in her thoughts on her little brother’s complicity in the fire.

Stiles placed his hand on Derek’s back and murmured, “You ready for me, alpha?”

Derek just nodded as he waited to feel Stiles’ magic roll over him.

Chapter Sixteen

September 10th, 2011

It took them a few hours, but thankfully there were no more ruined clothes. Stiles was able to shift between his wolf and human with barely a thought, and Peter was already planning lessons on how the shifting could be integrated into their hand-to-hand training.

Derek was almost able to change just as easily, he just needed a bit more practice. His wolf was slightly bigger than Stiles and, as he’d said, it was pitch black. When he put effort into trying to hide, he seemed to almost disappear into the shadows, which the younger alpha thought was pretty cool. Derek had also changed somewhat after his first shift. He was now slightly taller than Stiles at a respectable 6’4”, and he had grown slightly broader. He was definitely going to have to go shopping for more clothes before they flew to DC or he’d have nothing to wear.

Derek was able to shift seamlessly about 80% of the time. It was getting the clothing to do what they wanted it to do that he was struggling with. Either the clothing fell off Derek rather than go into his tattoo, or the clothing didn’t shift back with him. Stiles pushed a bit more magic into the tattoo, which seemed to give it a red border. He wanted to see if that helped. If he still had issues, he would set a new tattoo for Derek for his pocket dimension.

Peter was still having trouble with shifting to his wolf form. His wolf had agreed it was possible, but he couldn’t quite make the transition to the full-shift form.

Stiles sat in front of him and said, “You need to give control to your wolf. At least that’s the impression I get from mine.”

Derek agreed. “Mine too. I know you find it hard to give up control, Peter, but we want to see your wolf. Now come on. You know from watching us for the last few hours what you need to do. Think about how cool it will be to show the others that Hale betas can shift too.”

Peter reluctantly admitted, “I’m worried I will still have the monstrous alpha shift I had after the fire, rather than the full-shift wolf.”

Stiles asked, “When you center yourself, does your wolf look like your alpha form, or like a wolf?”

“It’s a gray wolf,” Peter described, “A little lighter in color than your wolf.”

Stiles implored, “Then trust your wolf and give over control. If you are the crazy alpha form, we are both here and we can restrain you until you shift back.”

Derek added, “Trust us to look after you.”

Peter nodded, and he reached for his wolf. The alphas watching could see the moment he relaxed and let his inner wolf out to play, and he shifted in front of them to a beautiful gray wolf.

Stiles grinned as he ran his hand down the fur. He was happy to see that Peter had shifted with his clothes, which means the tattoo he created was working well. He asked, “Now, the important question, can you shift back?”

Peter barked, and it sounded indignant, before he shifted back to human. Peter looked down at himself, pleased to see his clothes were still intact. “Well, the tattoo works perfectly. Thank you, Lil Red.”

Stiles stood and said, “It looks like you haven’t grown at all. Maybe that’s just for alphas, to allow for the alpha spark. Who knows how the magic of it all works.” He gave his pack mates a mischievous look, and he asked, “Wanna go surprise the others?”

The two Hales nodded and shifted to their wolves. They waited as Stiles packed up the rest of their clothes into the backpack Peter had brought with him. He put it on his back before he ran through the trees. He trusted the magic in his tattoo, and he shifted into his wolf as he ran. The three of them were headed for a second clearing, where the guards and Rick were taking Cora, Jackson, and Danny through some hand-to-hand training.

Cora sprinted across and pounced on the three wolves as they ran into the clearing. She demanded, “All three of you got it? Teach us!”

Stiles shifted back and threw the backpack across the clearing to land with the gear the others had brought with them.

Dalton laughed and said, “I guess I’ll be loaning you some clothes until we get back to London.”

Stiles agreed, “Derek might need to borrow something from someone too, he’s grown a few inches taller and a bit broader across the shoulders and chest. Not as big of a change as me though.”

Derek shifted and stood beside Stiles as Cora commented, “Nope, not much change for Derbear. You need all the shopping, though. What about Uncle Peter?”

Stiles and Derek both shook their heads and looked down at the beta, Stiles commented, “Come on Peter, shift back.”

Peter shifted as he walked back to the backpack so he could put a shirt back on. He heard Cora’s gasp, as she demanded, “When did you get the tattoo, Uncle Peter?”

Stiles explained, “It’s the physical form of the pocket dimension Adam suggested earlier. I figured the triskelion means something to our pack, so it would be better for visualization.”

Adam, who they could see already had a few tattoos, perked up. “You can do tattoos without the needles and blowtorch?”

Stiles nodded, but he clarified, “I’m not sure how fancy ones would come out. But yeah, the triskelion was one I was familiar with, so it was easy enough to do on the three of us. Peter thinks runes would work too.”

Dalton agreed. “I’ve seen rune tattoos of specific wards on magic users. Never on wolves, though. I’ve heard that the fire that’s involved in making the tattoo stay on the wolves; nullifies the magic in the runes.”

Stiles shrugged. “I’m willing to try it if there is a book of runes around somewhere. Preferably one that explains what the runes do in plain English rather than cryptic druid speech.”

Monty said, “I’m pretty sure I’ve seen at least one book on runes in the library. If there is one in Latin, I can translate it for you.”

Jackson asked, “So if it’s possible for a born beta, what about me as a bitten beta kanima hybrid?”

Stiles shrugged. “I’m a bitten alpha, so if it’s possible for me, then I’m sure it’ll be possible for you. You just need to center yourself and find your wolf.”

Rick pondered, “I wonder if you’ll have access to your wolf and your kanima form?”

Cora said, “It can’t be that simple. Surely.”

Stiles shook his head, “No, but if you ask your wolf she’ll tell you how to do it. You just need to trust your wolf. If you want, I can sort out your tattoo before you try it. I suspect as a born wolf you’ll find it easier than Jackson.”

Cora nodded, and she asked, “What do you need me to do?”

He asked, “Where do you want your tattoo? I need to see where you want it, so I can visualize it on the skin as I push my magic.”

She contemplated the tattoos she saw on her brother and uncle and said, “The same place as Derek and Uncle Peter, please. I wearing a sports bra that will still give you access to my back.”

She hastily stripped off her tank top and spun around so Stiles could see her back. He explained, “It won’t hurt, but you will feel it as I push my magic.”

She nodded and decided to center herself as he was working his magic. Cora had seen her wolf before, but she’d never thought to ask her about the full-shift. She didn’t think it was possible, especially since that’s what her mother had taught her. She figured at some point she’d sit down and have a long talk with her wolf and find out what else she had been taught that was blatantly wrong.

Cora felt the rush of magic, and she knew that Stiles had completed the tattoo. She gave her wolf a look and with a nod from her; she knew she could shift.

Derek grinned as he watched his sister shift smoothly into a large, dark brown wolf. He shifted to his wolf, and he barreled into her, knocking her off her feet before he sprinted away. He took off across the clearing while she tried to catch him.

Peter watched the as the siblings were running around and having fun, as he and Stiles tried to explain to the guards, Rick, and Jackson how to center themselves to find their inner wolf. He was curious if the full-shift really was a Hale Pack gift or if it was just a gift that the Hales worked to remember.

Dalton stood, and he shook his head. “My wolf says no to the full-shift. It shrugged when I asked if switching to the Hale Pack would give me the full-shift. So I guess it’s definitely a gift of your pack; probably granted by the Nemeton when she gifted the first Hale Alpha their alpha spark.”

Peter nodded. “I did think that would be the case. Otherwise, there would have been rumors of other packs having full-shift wolves in their histories.”

Jackson opened his eyes. “I think I’ll have both forms. Well, the option of both. The kanima is still there, it’s just dominated by my wolf. Also, my wolf looks kinda strange. He’s black, but with dark gray patterns. They kind of look like the patterns you would see on a snake.”

Stiles grinned. “Now that I want to see. Do you want the tattoo?”

Jackson nodded. “It’s the Hale Pack symbol, right?” When Stiles and Peter nodded, he confirmed, “Definitely! It’ll show I’m proud to be a beta in the Hale Pack.”

Peter reassured, “Oh, that we know, sweetheart. The triskelion is a symbol that has been used over the centuries to signify the Hale Pack. It’s usually worn by pack members as amulets around the neck or on leather wristbands, as most werewolves would balk at a tattoo.” He glanced at Adam as he said, “Most. The good thing is, Stiles’ method of doing tattoos doesn’t involve having a blowtorch used to seal the tattoo.”

Jackson frowned at Stiles and asked, “Wait, so what you ‘re saying is, McCall didn’t trust Derek to teach him how to be a wolf, but he trusted him to use a blowtorch on him?”

Stiles nodded with a snort. “Shit, that tattoo is awful. I told him so when his first attempt had it healing over.”

Peter asked, “What did he get?”

“Two bands around his arm,” he pointed to his upper arm. “One thick band and one thinner band below it. It looks ridiculous. He tried to show me on the ground and it just looked like a bullseye, a target.”

Jackson stripped off his shirt and said, “Ink me up, please. Same place as you did on Cora.” He glanced at Adam. “I’d also like to see if you can do other tattoos. I’ve always thought about it, but David made it clear he wouldn’t accept a son of his with tattoos. Now that I am no longer under his thumb, and I don’t have to answer to Lydia, I would like to look into the options.”

Stiles grinned. “I’ll be looking into runic tattoos first. I want to see if I can create tattoos that work as wards on the skin before I try anything complicated. I think Adam is eager to be my test subject though.”

Adam nodded enthusiastically. “Very much so. Just getting the ones I have now was excruciating. If I can get more intricate designs without the blowtorch every twenty minutes, that would be fantastic.”

“We have a few years to experiment while we’re at Oxford.” Stiles asked curiously, “What’s the commute from here to Oxford?”

Dalton said, “It’s about a twenty-minute drive. Are you thinking of basing yourselves here rather than in the townhouse in Oxford?”

Stiles shrugged. “The library is much bigger and has room for us to set up individual study nooks as well as having that enormous table in the middle. Having room to run around in our wolfy forms would be good for letting off steam too.”

“Talk to your uncle. He would have to approve the change,” Adam said. “I can’t see him saying no. You could keep the townhouse for late nights in the Oxford library or whatever.”

Jackson grinned. “I can finally get myself a motorbike. Anyway, let’s get this tattoo done, daylight’s a-wasting.”

He turned so his back was to Stiles, and waited for Stiles to do his magic. He felt a gentle tap between his shoulder blades before he felt the rush of magic flowing over him.

Stiles stepped back, “It’s done, it’s getting easier each time, I know how to channel my magic so it flows into ink now.” He tapped Jackson again, and he said, “Go play with your wolf, Jacks.”

Peter pushed Stiles towards the house. “Go spend some time with your dad, I’ll watch over the wolves.”

Stiles shifted and sprinted hell for leather toward the terrace where his dad and Uncle Clive were catching up. The two men hadn’t seen each other in person since Claudia’s funeral. As he approached, he shifted back, still wearing the sweats, and he sat on the end of his dad’s lounger.

Noah sat up. “Holy shit. What the hell?”

Stiles rubbed the back of his neck and he said, “It looks like the full-shift brought forward the changes we were expecting on the night of the full moon. It’s actually easier right now to walk around as a wolf, since my human body feels like it’s all limbs right now.”

Clive chuckled. “I’ve heard that from other alphas, that you’ll feel like you need to retrain your body after that first shift as an alpha.”

Stiles nodded, “Derek grew a bit too, he’s still slightly taller than me and he got a little bit broader across the shoulders.”

Noah stood. He was a respectable 5’11”, and his son had been a few inches shorter than him when they arrived at the manor. He gestured for Stiles to stand, and he was shocked at just how much Stiles had grown. The alpha now towered over Noah and no longer had the lanky, lithe build of a runner.

“Wow.” He looked at Clive. “What do you think, 6’3”, ish?”

Clive stood beside his nephew, and he agreed. “That looks about right. He’s just slightly shorter than me and I am 6’4”. Did the others find their wolves? I’m guessing from your comment about Derek that he did, but what about Peter and the others?”

Stiles nodded as they all got comfortable on the loungers, Stiles grabbing another plate of food to snack on since he was starving. He explained, “Derek was fairly easy. The biggest issue with him is I had to do the pocket dimension tattoo over his existing tattoo, which seems to cause issues. He is a pitch-black wolf that almost seems to hide in the shadows. Peter’s wolf is gray, a slightly lighter gray than my wolf, and Cora’s is dark brown. Jackson was attempting to find his shift when I left the group, but I have a feeling his wolf is going to be pretty unique. He said that when he centered himself to find his wolf, he was black with dark gray scale patterns like a snake.”

Clive leaned forward and asked, “So he still has access to his kanima form?”

Stiles nodded. “He thinks so. It would be pretty cool if he did. I remember seeing the kanima fighting and it was pretty agile, but it also had the ability to climb walls and hold on to the ceiling when we saw it at Jungle.” He looked at his uncle and he asked, “While you’re here Uncle Clive, I wanted to ask; could we please use the manor as our base while we’re at Oxford, rather than the townhouse in Oxford proper?”

Clive laughed. “Let me guess, the library and the forest?”

Stiles nodded with a grin. “Of course, the library is perfect and probably as good as the one they showed us at the university, and having the ability to run around in wolf form after a shitty day would be a bonus. We can keep the townhouse in reserve for late nights at school and the like.”

Clive nodded. “I do use the house for training occasionally, but it wouldn’t be too hard to warn you all when it would be occurring. Odds are we’d include you all in the training exercises if you’re here, anyway. There is a private gun range under the garages and a training gym in one of the cottage-like buildings near the garages. So it would work well for the five of you.”

Stiles asked, “So with the major changes already done before the full moon, will it be easier for me, or still a play-it-by-ear thing?”

Clive said, “We’ll play it by ear, but I think with your full-shift nailed, it shows that you’re connected to your wolf and you won’t be fighting it. That’s usually what causes most wolves to lose control. I think you’ll probably spend the night gamboling with your pack in the forest.”

Stiles commented, “I hope the house Peter found for the pack in Alexandria has room to run around.”

-x-

Rick sat down with Jackson the next day in the clearing as Cora was taking Danny through some more hand-to-hand training. He asked, “So when you approach your wolf, the kanima is there as well?”

Jackson nodded, “It’s separate, and the wolf seems to be his master, if that makes sense.”

Rick nodded. “It does. So when I followed the instructions, and I looked inside, I only saw my kanima side. But that’s because I never completed the transformation to my wolf. Instead, I choose to become an alpha kanima. I was hooked as soon as I found out alpha kanimas have wings. Also, because I never completed the transformation to a werewolf, I still have the full-shift that the kanima allows for. I am willing to bet that you would have lost access to your full kanima shift if you hadn’t been part of the Hale Pack.”

Cora agreed, “I spoke with Delilah last night; she’s the beta kanima from my old pack. She did the centering exercise, and she said she only saw the kanima. She’s like Rick and wants the wings. She loves to fly and even went and got her pilot’s license just so she could fly.”

Jackson asked, “How does she have access to the kanima while a beta without a master?”

Cora explained, “She has a master, her alpha. He essentially gives her free, and he is assisting her in the transformation to alpha so she can be her own master again.”

Rick wanted to get back on track so he asked, “Have you asked if your kanima has its full-shift still?”

Jackson nodded hesitantly, “He said he does, but only with the permission of the wolf, and right now the wolf is saying hell no.”

Rick asked, “How so?”

Jackson chuckled, “Well, that’s how I interpret the snarling and growling its doing when I asked. When I said the wolf was the master, I meant it. I get the feeling I need to get used to being a wolf first, then he will allow me time with my kanima.”

Rick asked, “Get used to, or accept?”

Jackson shrugged. “Both, I guess. I mean, look, my turn was shit. I was used as a murder puppet by two different masters before I was able to complete the transformation to a werewolf.”

Rick nodded. “I read the reports.” He sighed. “Look, I think you should listen to your wolf. When you’re ready to play with your kanima side, I will be here. I do plan to help you train your beta shift so you can fight with the kanima tail and claws. Your tail could be an immense advantage in a fight, especially if your opponent isn’t expecting you to have a giant lizard tail.”

Danny asked. “He can have that much control over his tail? I know he did while he was in kanima form, but even as a beta?”

Rick nodded. “It takes training, but once you get used to how the tail works as an extra limb you can become quite formidable, especially since the claw at the end of the tail also produces venom.”

Jackson smirked, “Wicked, now that I definitely want to learn.”

Rick sat back and helped Jackson with how to bring out his full kanima beta shift, something Jackson’s wolf was happy to allow, since he would be a stronger fighter as the kanima beta. Derek, Stiles, and Peter also spent time with the betas, training in their beta shift form so they would be effective fighters no matter what form they were in.

Rick spent time with them in his full-shift form, showing them how to use their bodies effectively while fighting so it wasn’t all claws and fangs.

In between training sessions, they could often find Stiles and Adam with Peter in the library. They were going through the various books on runes Stiles’ uncle had found over the years. Trying to find runes and wards that would be effective as tattoos; with Adam busy creating art to disguise the runes for use as tattoos.

Adam pointed at one of the newer runes. “What about this one? It should give us some protection against being poisoned.”

Stiles nodded, and he slid over a book titled ‘Olde Norse Runes’. “I like the look of most of these. Aegishjaimur looks brilliant for us and will aid us in fighting, and I like the illusionary rune.”

Adam agreed, “I’ll work on unique designs for each of these, then everyone will have different tattoos.” He held a book open and said, “I think Jackson needs this one, we probably all do, but I think this will help Jackson with the fear he’s trying to hide around his kanima side.”

Stiles looked down at what looked like a fairly simple Japanese Kanji. “Self?”

Adam nodded, “It will give his wolf the confidence that they won’t give up control to another again.”

Stiles agreed, “We’ll talk to him tonight. This one is simple enough we could do it without the extra designs.”

Chapter Seventeen

September 12th, 2011

Early Monday morning, they had news from Sam. He reported that they had executed the search warrant on the house of the missing teacher. They had found her dead in the house, and the autopsy showed she had been dead for at least a week.

Stiles asked his uncle, “Did they prove she was the darach?”

Clive nodded. “They found the knives and gloves she used for the murders, and there was blood splatter on both that tied back to the victims.”

“Knives? Plural?” Noah asked. “She used different knives for each kill?”

Clive confirmed, “It looks like it. They are still testing the blood to match it to the victims. We aren’t sure if she interpreted the ritual in a strange way, or if she had a different purpose for it, but she had different knives and gloves for each of the sacrifices. She had a stash of 15 identical knives. We suspect she had one for each of the listed sacrifices.”

Derek asked, “Do they know who she was, or why she was in Beacon Hills?”

Clive looked down at his iPad and pulled up the report. “Her name was Julia Baccari. She was working at the school under the name Jennifer Blake.”

Stiles asked, “Our English teacher? I guess that explains the crows committing mass suicide in her classroom our first week back.”

Peter looked up from his phone. “She was after Kali, wasn’t she?”

Clive nodded. “They found her journal during the search. Someone had magically sealed it in a trunk, but our druids were able to break the enchantment. She left careful notes about previous attempts at completing the five-fold knot in other towns the alpha pack attacked. She made it pretty clear that Kali was her target. Apparently, Kali had left her for dead in the Beacon Hills Preserve when she killed her pack to join Deucalion. Julia was able to bond to the Nemeton to help keep her alive.”

Derek mused, “And when we cleansed the Nemeton, it cut her bond, which was probably the only thing keeping her alive.”

Clive agreed. “Exactly so. Noah, when you get home Sam will be getting ready for his team to pack up and head to the next case. He’s happy to wait a few days for the new deputies you selected to arrive.”

Noah grinned. “Excellent. Thanks, Clive, I’ve already emailed the mayor to let them know what’s going on, especially since he’s been working with me to find new deputies to replace the three insubordinate, racist assholes I currently have to work with.”

-x-

As the full moon got closer, Stiles could feel its pull like an itch under his skin. When he started to get snappy and irritable, Derek took him outside and said, “Shift. We’ll go for a run while the worst of it is happening. The others can join us later.”

Stiles shifted and sprinted for the forest. He knew it was warded to keep them safe, and he wanted to hunt. He’d seen a large buck the night before, but it had escaped before he could catch it.

Derek flanked him as he slinked into the forest. The alpha was proud as he watched Stiles work hard on staying as silent as possible as he tried to track the herd of deer he’d smelled with the buck. When they’d talked with the Earl earlier, he had assured them that someone trained the staff at the manor on how to prepare a kill, so they wasted none of the meat.

Stiles caught a scent. So, with a quick glance at Derek, he hunkered down and started to stalk his prey. He wanted a buck for his first kill, come hell or high water. He crept through the trees as he saw the herd he was tracking in a clearing ahead. Derek broke off, lopping silently through the trees, and Stiles waited until he could see the red eyes on the other side of the clearing.

When they’d talked about how to take down the buck after first spotting it, Derek had suggested rushing them from the other side of the herd to drive them towards Stiles’ position hidden in the trees, so he waited until Derek started moving. As soon as he saw the buck, he locked his eyes on it and started sprinting. Derek worked well to drive the bulk of the herd out of the clearing, then joined the younger alpha in cutting off the buck’s escape so Stiles could go for the throat.

It took him a few feints to make the buck a bit cocky, then he dived under the antlers that were aimed at his head before he grabbed the throat in his jaws and he shook his head to rip the throat out cleanly.

Once the buck was down, he lay beside it, panting hard to catch his breath before standing and shifting back to human. He leaned down, and with a single claw slit a line down the center of the buck’s chest before reaching in and pulling out the still warm heart. The teen placed the heart gently on the ground before shifting back to his wolf form.

He carefully picked the heart up in his jaws and carried it to his alpha. Stiles placed the heart down in front of Derek, who was just sitting and watching, before walking back a few steps and dropping to the ground to wait.

Derek knew this was important, so he took a gentle bite from the heart before he shifted back to human and sat beside Stiles. He gestured to the heart and asked, “Why?”

Stiles shifted back and settled beside him with a shrug. “I don’t know. My wolf told me it was important for me to offer you the heart of my first kill.”

Derek nodded and quietly explained, “What you offered me from your first kill has meaning. If you had offered me the beast in its entirety, it would have meant you see me as your dominant, your alpha in all ways. It’s the ultimate sign of submission for a wolf. If you’d offered me the liver, it would have meant you wanted to gift me strength as your alpha and strength for my next hunt; it’s an old ritual and can be taken as both a good offering or an insult, depending on how it’s offered. However, offering the heart of your first kill, it’s taken as the first offering of a courtship. Werewolf courtship involves offerings made over a period of time, usually as a prelude to dating. It’s not something often done in modern times, but I suspect that’s more because we stopped listening to our wolves.”

He sliced off a piece of the heart and he fed it gently to Stiles as he whispered, “I accept your courtship, Alpha Paddington.”

Stiles leaned into his alpha. “This was definitely something that came across pretty clear from my wolf. He’s pretty smart sometimes.”

Derek grinned shyly. “Just like his human. How about we listen to our wolves and do the courtship thing at their pace? They seem to know better than us what we need.”

Stiles nodded, “They haven’t led us astray yet. I think mines on crack to be honest since you probably think I’m too young and you’re clearly out of my league hot, but if you—”

Derek decided to stop the rambling with a quick kiss. He felt Stiles sink into it as he pulled back slightly. He admitted, “Yes, you’re young in age, but I think that’s why our wolves started with the courtship. We can just follow their lead and take it slow. As for that ridiculous comment about being out of your league hot, you need to look in a mirror. You’re everything I would want in a mate. Gorgeous, smart, sassy, and, most importantly, loyal. Hopefully, by the time you move to DC, I’ll be mentally ready to accept that I deserve you.”

Stiles whispered, “You, my alpha, Derek Hale, deserve all the nice things, and I will happily spend my entire life making you believe it.”

He stood and with a quick kiss to Derek’s forehead, picked up the buck and started carrying it back to the manor.

The hunt was exactly what the new alpha had needed to return his equilibrium. Once he dropped off the buck to be prepared and cooked for a late meal, he took off running with the wolves that were at the manor for the full moon run.

-x-

They had a lot of fun playing in the woods. The full moon run ended up being a giant game of tag with the Hale Pack getting used to their full-shift forms as they shifted back and forth under the light of the moon. Clive showed why he was the Queen’s Alpha, being the only wolf to evade being tagged during the several hours they were outside playing.

Even Noah and Danny had fun running through the trees with the two packs. Noah spent some time over the weekend teaching the human teen some of the self-defense skills he’d learned during his time as an Army Ranger, adding evasion and hiding techniques while they were all playing tag. He showed the teen how to use nature to confuse the heightened senses of the wolves, how to disguise his scent, utilizing strong smelling trees, flowers, and even streams to hide in plain sight.

He’d agreed to continue their training when they got back to Beacon Hills, and he promised to organize one of his former Ranger buddies to continue his training when Danny moved to DC.

It was a very exhausted group that settled into the den at four am for a huge puppy pile to try and get some sleep before the hectic schedule they had coming up.

Noah and Danny were booked on a lunchtime flight out of Heathrow for their flight home. They were both sad to leave the pack, but they knew they had to get back home.

There was much hugging and tears at the airport. Noah promised to keep Stiles and his mini pack in the loop on what was happening in Beacon Hills, especially for news on the Fail Alpha and his pack.

When he pulled Danny in for a hug, Stiles murmured, “Test out. We all know you’re smart enough. Meet the Hales in DC. It’s not worth staying in Beacon Hills if Scott’s going to try to pull you into his pack by force. Dad has Connor and Jordan there to protect him, so don’t worry about him.”

Danny nodded. “I’ve already emailed the admin at school with a request to take the exit exams. As soon as I’ve passed, I’ll let you all know.”

Once the plane was out of sight, the rest of the pack headed back to London. With a quick stop at the townhouse to drop off their bags, they headed into the city. Clive headed back to work with his guards at his back, promising he would see them at dinner. He was only scheduled to work a half-day, most of which would be spent catching up with Sam.

The first stop for the pack was the visit to Stiles’ uncle’s tailor to get measured for a few bespoke suits. Now that he’d fully settled into his alpha spark, they could get him fitted correctly. Derek, Peter, and Jackson were all keen to jump in and get a few suits made while they were there. They could see why Lord Paddington trusted the man. He had impeccable taste, and knew instinctively what cuts and material would suit them best.

While the men were all being fitted, Dalton took Cora to the attached shop next door. It catered to the tailor’s female clients, so she could shop for more formal wear, as well as being fitted for a few suits of her own.

After a quick stop for a late lunch, they stopped in at a mall. Stiles and Derek needed to replace the rest of their wardrobes after their changes over the weekend. Stiles was lucky he fit into some of Derek’s clothes for the trip to the mall. Derek only bought a few replacements, enough to see him through the rest of the week. He would order most of what he wanted when he got back to the states. Jackson and Cora took over Stiles’ shopping. They made sure that Stiles bought only a few plaid shirts and graphic t-shirts. The pack knew he used them as armor, a way to hide in plain sight. They vowed to each other to spend the next few years building his up his self-esteem; so he could be the confident alpha they could see hiding under the surface.

They’d arranged with help from Stiles’ guards to have most of their purchases delivered to the manor with same-day shipping, so they wouldn’t have to carry all the bags around as they shopped. When they got back to the townhouse, the teens spent a few hours packing everything for their move. Stiles spent time in the library going through the books to select the ones he wanted to take with them. If there were any double ups, he could bring them back during a weekend visit.

After dinner, Clive took Stiles up to his office. He said, “I know you’re moving to the manor, and I will be out there as often as I can around work, but I want to continue our breakfast talks via Skype.”

Stiles sagged in relief. “Oh, thank god. Those chats are a lifeline for me. I spend time with you, then I call Dad, and then if he’s still awake I talk to Derek. The three of you help keep me centered and balanced with all my new instincts. Plus, I get my family time and pack time with the distant members of both.”

Clive grinned. He understood where the teen was coming from, especially with regard to his family. “It’s nice having a wolf in the family again. You have a few very distant cousins that are wolves, but all of the current Paddingtons are human and would prefer to stay that way.”

Stiles snorted, “They just don’t want to be the Queen’s Alpha; it’s an enormous responsibility. One I shall be trying to pass to Tony as soon as I get to DC. He’s got the political mindset and contacts to pull it off. You know me, while my my wolf cured my ADHD, my lack of filter and tact remains. I honestly can’t see that changing anytime soon.”

“And that’s fine,” Clive reassured. “I have a feeling with Tony’s job he will end up taking the bite at some point. He’s already come close a few times, especially when he went mob hunting in Philadelphia. I just hope NCIS treats him better.”

Stiles asked, “You’ll be sending agents out to train us during the year?”

Clive nodded. “We’ve had quite a few volunteers. The rumors of our plans to have a pack that works as one of our teams has been spreading like wildfire. Sam and I have been talking, refining our future plans. We think having a team that’s half FBI and half MI5 based out of Beacon Hills will work well. You’ll get most of your orders through Sam, including any requests that come from the ICC. You will lead the MI5 half of the team and Derek will lead the FBI half, as an alpha pair.”

Stiles smiled and asked, “Did he tell you I’m courting him?”

Clive shook his head. “No, do tell, my boy. Do tell.”

Stiles blushed. “I gave him the heart from the buck I killed. My wolf told me how to present it as the initial courting gift and he accepted in the traditional way.”

With a tilt of the head in curiosity, Clive asked, “You went for courtship because of your age? You know you’re technically legal here. And don’t tell your father I told you that.”

Stiles laughed, “I know, that’s not why I went for courtship, though. I might be more mature than most people my age, but Derek isn’t even close to ready for a relationship. Not when his last relationship resulted in his family dying horrifically. His alpha refused to arrange for therapy after the fire, so he’s been wallowing in guilt for nearly seven years. He’s already talked to Sam about seeing a therapist when they get to DC, so he can start working on the damage from that relationship.”

Clive shook his head. “Fucking hell. At least he recognizes it and wants to change. I’m guessing Beacon Hills doesn’t have any supernaturally inclined therapists?”

Stiles shrugged. “Not to my knowledge, and honestly, knowing the shit show it’s been since the Hale fire, I wouldn’t trust one that came forward. I think it would be worth finding one or two that would be willing to move to the area. Maybe get them to look into Eichen House.”

Clive grinned. “Two of the druids who helped Derek with the Nemeton cleanse are already investigating the institution. There are concerns about the high death rate. The others are on their way back with the jar they pulled out of the Nemeton. They’ll be taking it to the warded clean room at the manor to investigate it so we’ll pull you guys in to observe.”

Stiles grinned. He loved that his uncle knew him well enough to know he would want to watch. “Thanks, Uncle Clive. We should get moving, I want to get enough sleep for the first bunch of exams tomorrow.”

Clive pulled him into a hug and said, “You’ll do fine, kiddo.”

Lord Paddington had given the teens access to choose cars, from the vast collection in his garage, to take with them to the manor. He’d said with their choice of courses, it was unlikely they would end up with matching schedules so they would want their own transport. He’d already given them permission to take the black Mercedes V-Class for when they were all traveling together, and Adam would be driving it to the manor with all their belongings.

Cora went straight for the sporty blue Subaru WRX STi that was hiding in the back of the garage. Jackson found his dream motorcycle, a Honda CBR 1000RR Fireblade Repsol Team replica, and he was looking forward to riding it on the backcountry roads. Stiles was predictable, and went straight for the Jeep that he suspected was purchased with him in mind. It was a deep blue Jeep Wrangler upgraded with the 4×4 options, including a full roll cage.

They headed out in a convoy after digging out safety gear for Jackson to wear, taking their time to get used to the vehicles on the way out of London. Peter went with Cora in the WRX; he was curious about how the car performed. Dalton and Derek went with Stiles in the Jeep, and they spent the drive drilling Stiles on the various exams he was due to take over the next few days. They both knew the kid was hell-bent on skipping enough classes so he could aim for at least one doctorate.

Chapter Eighteen

September 14th, 2011

The exams were exhausting, and they ended up going for nearly two weeks. By the end of it, Stiles was able to skip most of his course work for his criminal justice degree; he just had a few classes to take during the first semester to complete his first bachelor’s degree. He skipped through to the second year of his psychology degree and to everyone’s shock; he went straight to the third year of his accounting degree.

He still wasn’t sure if he wanted to take the forensic accounting studies beyond the bachelor’s degree, but he wasn’t going to decide until he knew how much work would be involved in completing his criminal justice PhD.

After all the results came in, the group decided that they would stay at school until Stiles had received his first PhD, then they would do two years at MI5 before transferring to the FBI.

Jackson and Cora had similar successes with their exams, thanks mostly to the intensive studying they had done before the full moon. Cora skipped most of her computer science degree and went straight into her second year for her criminal justice degree, and Jackson skipped through to the third year for both of his degree choices. He was looking into doing a PhD in law, if he could keep up with Stiles.

Dalton and Adam reassured the pair that if Stiles finished before they were done, they could finish their degrees remotely.

-x-

After the druids had warded the sheriff’s house and the building site for the new pack house, three of the magic users flew directly to London to deal with the nogitsune. They had nominated Heidi and Jonathan to stay behind to investigate Eichen House.

Gretchen wanted to use the warded safe room at the Manor, where they could cleanse the nogitsune and talk to it to find out how it ended up imprisoned in the Nemeton.

Even though the kids were busy with their exams, they still sat in and watched around their busy schedule. Gretchen led the cleansing and healing that was needed, and after a few days, they had an incorporeal form of a nine-tail kitsune floating around the warded clean room.

It took a few days, but he finally managed to transform back into a human form, albeit still incorporeal. He introduced himself as Asora. They were all thankful that he both spoke and understood English, as fluent Japanese was the one language that was missing from the vast pool of linguists at MI5.

Asora explained, “I was held captive for some time before I was summoned to the Oak Creek Internment Camp during World War II. The last big event I can remember before they summoned me was the execution of Anne Boleyn by her husband, King Henry VIII. After that, it’s just nothing. It left me on my own in the void going slowly feral.”

Peter estimated, “So, just under 400 years in the void. I spent six years inside my own head, and that was bad enough. 400 years would be pure torture.”

Asora nodded. “It was. The kitsune who summoned me to Oak Creek was unhappy with the type of chaos she ended up with. Being feral, I was rather cruel in how I exacted her vengeance. She worked with an alpha werewolf to capture and imprison me in the Nemeton.”

Peter asked, “So I am curious about something. If you had been rescued from the tree earlier, could it have prevented the corruption?”

Asora frowned and asked, “What corruption? My imprisonment wouldn’t have damaged the tree. The jar I was trapped in, was warded. The wards on my jar would have had minimal impact on the noble tree.”

Derek demanded. “So the Nemeton didn’t need to be cut down? The emissary told my mother that the Nemeton was corrupted and that it needed to be cut down to prevent that corruption spreading to the pack.”

Asora snorted. “No, not at all. While the druids would have felt my presence, it would have been clear that I was a separate entity.”

Gretchen confirmed, “We did. It was pretty clear that you were inside the tree, not part of the tree, nor did we sense that you were affecting the tree in any way. We have healed the tree as much as we could and then warded it to keep the local druid away. He seems overly invested in gaining control of the Nemeton.”

Peter conceded, “Yes, but we don’t have cause to banish him. Yet. We would have been able to, if my Fail Beta hadn’t immediately taken him on as his emissary as soon as he became an alpha.”

Asora agreed, “It’s very difficult to remove an emissary from their pack’s territory. Even if the alpha doesn’t have territory rights.”

Derek asked, “Asora, now that you’re free, what are your plans?”

Asora shrugged, a very modern gesture from such an ancient being. He said, “I would like to take up Druid Welch’s offer to take me to Japan to a specialized kitsune retreat. They will assist me in regaining a corporeal form, then they’ll teach me how to survive in the modern world.”

Derek offered. “We’ve been talking it over, and we would like to offer you a place in our pack. I understand that it’s not possible for you to accept a pack bond until you’re corporeal again, but when that happens, the offer is there.”

Asora asked, “Why? I’m not a wolf.”

Derek said, “Neither are Jackson nor Stiles, mostly. They are both hybrid wolves. We also have a human sheriff in our pack. I am not a speciesist alpha. I think you’ve had a rough deal and if you want time to chill with a family, we can offer you that.”

Asora smiled. “I would like that, Alpha. Being in a pack would actually help me. It would prevent me from being summoned for chaos again.”

Gretchen asked, “Can you tell us about who summoned you?”

Asora shook his head. “No. I would rather not talk about it. They had their reasons for what they did; very valid reasons. It was just bad luck that they got me after I had gone feral. They fixed it the best way they could.”

Gretchen nodded, “Very well. We’ll coordinate your transport to Japan and Alpha Hale said he would organize a way for you to stay in touch with the pack. It’ll probably be a cellphone that the staff can operate at the retreat until you’re back in a corporeal form.”

Asora bowed. “Thank you.”

As they were leaving the warded room, Asora overheard Stiles whisper to Derek, “Imagine how cool he will look when he gains his full-shift.”

-x-

Derek and Peter wound up staying in England for nearly three weeks before they flew out to New York. They wanted to stop in at their house in New York to pick up various books from their library as well as their previous coursework. Peter was a little worried that Laura had thrown his things out, but Derek promised he had hidden it all away when they arrived after the fire.

Derek had contacted one of his old professors, Ken Yukimura, who had looked out for him when he was in New York with his sister. He wanted to introduce his uncle to the professor and his family, as they had been his lifeline after Laura had essentially cut him off when he turned eighteen. By his second year at NYU, he had been practically living with his professor’s family. He also wanted to come clean about the false identity he had been using and explain to them why he had been in hiding.

They’d arranged to have lunch with the Yukimura family on a Saturday, that way they would have the entire weekend to catch up. They’d all been worried about Derek since he dropped off the planet just after Christmas.

They caught a cab to the Yukimura apartment on the Upper West Side. It was only a twenty-minute walk to NYU, but a good half-hour cab ride from the apartment Laura had purchased near Columbia University. Ken greeted Derek with a hug before he welcomed them both in.

Derek received hugs from Noshiko and Kira, then once they were all seated comfortably in the living room Derek introduced, “Ken, Noshiko, Kira, this is my uncle, Peter Hale. He recently came out of a coma back home in Beacon Hills. Peter, this is Ken and Noshiko Yukimura, and their daughter Kira.”

Noshiko paled and asked, “You’re a Hale, one of the Beacon Hills Hales?”

Peter nodded. “There are only three of us left now. Cora, my niece and Derek’s younger sister, is back in London with part of our pack. They start at Oxford in a few weeks.”

Ken smiled. “You must be so proud; Oxford is known to be tough to get into.”

Derek chuckled. “Stiles was telling me the interview was brutal. They just did nearly two weeks of placement testing, which they all did brilliantly at.”

Noshiko asked, “Can I ask; what happened to your family?”

Peter put his hand on his nephew’s knee to offer him comfort as he said, “A rogue hunter, Kate Argent, targeted us. She surrounded the house in mountain ash before setting fire to the house. I was the only one to survive the fire itself, I was trapped near one of the basement windows.”

Derek returned the comfort when Peter couldn’t continue and said, “Uncle Peter ended up in a coma for six years, and when he woke he was feral. He killed a trespassing alpha, which gave him the strength to start taking out those who had harmed our pack and been left to go free for six years.”

Kira grinned. “They deserved it.”

Ken admonished, “Kira!”

Kira shook her head. She was not at all apologetic. “No Dad. Packs have humans and children. How would you feel if it was us?”

Noshiko asked, “What about the wards. A pack as old as yours would have had strong wards to protect you.”

Peter scowled. “We aren’t sure why, and honestly it’s too late to investigate, but there were no wards on the house at all. The land is now healing after we healed the Nemeton as much as we could; my sister stupidly cut it down. There was a nogitsune buried in its root system. The druids we worked with think that the nogitsune was leaching a small bit of power from the Nemeton, but not enough to have affected any wards that should have been up around the territory.”

Derek noticed how pale she’d gotten and asked, “Noshiko, are you ok?”

She shook her head in denial, but she deflected, “Let’s eat first, then I’ll explain. It’s a long story.”

Kira jumped up when the timer went off. “It’s nearly ready, I’ll go set the table.”

Ken escorted their guests to the dining room as Noshiko went to dish up the meal.

Lunch was lively. Peter spent a lot of the meal interrogating the Yukimuras about Derek’s time in New York. His nephew was taciturn by nature, so he had to get his information from other sources. Ken was proud of Derek and considered him one of his best students. He talked about trying to stop Derek from holding back.

Peter asked, “What do you mean?”

Ken explained, “He’s smart, but holds back so he sat around the middle of the class rankings; he did it in all of his classes. As a teacher, it was frustrating to watch when I knew he could do better.”

Peter chuckled. “We know a few people like that. The three pack members we left behind in London are all exactly like that. They all skated through high school and got good grades, but never great grades. Stiles and Jackson are just sixteen, Cora is eighteen, and the three of them just blitzed the placement exams for Oxford.” He explained how well the three kids did; preening when he saw the stunned amazement on the faces of the Yukimura family. He went on to explain, “Derek and I were there to help them study during their exams, and it was Derek who did most of the academic work with them.”

Derek laughed. “You helped. You’re just as guilty of hiding your intelligence. The only time anyone sees it is when you’re planning chaos and mischief.”

Peter grinned. “I was busy helping Stiles’ guards plan out their training schedule. It’s going to be a tough few years for them, but I think the three of them will emerge stronger for it.”

Ken asked, “Training? For what?”

With a glance at his uncle, who nodded, Derek explained, “They are being trained for MI5. Stiles’ uncle is Lord Paddington, the Queen’s Alpha.”

“Clive?” Noshiko asked. “I knew his father, George, quite well. He was a good alpha. He did some time here in the states after World War II closing down the internment camps. I met Clive a few times when he was a child.”

Ken asked, “So what are your plans now that you’re heading to DC?”

Derek grinned. “We were both recruited to join the FBI. There is a task force that deals exclusively with supernatural cases, the Talos Task Force. It deals with rogues on both sides of the fence. We’ll both be spending a year at GWU, full-time, completing as much as we can on our degrees, before we start our training at Quantico.”

Ken asked, “Are you going to do placement testing? I know it’s something GWU offers when requested.”

Derek looked at Peter and asked, “Are we?”

Peter shook his head. “Deputy Director Conway didn’t say anything when he arranged to have us attend GWU. We’ll have to look into it.”

Ken offered, “I can put you in touch with someone there who can arrange it. It’s not something that’s publicly known. If you’ve been studying with the kids going to Oxford, you’ll likely be ready for the exams depending on how close they are to your own degree program.”

“That would be great,” Derek enthused. “It would give me the chance to catch up to Stiles. He plans to have at least one doctorate by the time he’s 20.”

Kira’s jaw dropped. “Seriously, he’s that smart?”

Derek nodded proudly while speaking of his pack. “They all are. Danny, one of their classmates who is back in Beacon Hills, is also planning to test out and join us at GWU in January.”

“How?” Kira asked incredulously. “I can understand one or two smart kids in a school, but that many in one area.”

Noshiko whispered, “The Nemeton. There is a lot we don’t know about Nemeta. I have seen them do some pretty spectacular things in my lifetime.” She looked around and saw everyone was finished with dinner, so she suggested, “How about we eat dessert in the living room while I give you that explanation I promised?”

They all got settled with large servings of a delicious tiramisù. Noshiko asked, “How old do you think I am?”

Derek shook his head, and Peter said, “Definitely older than you look if you remember George Paddington.”

Noshiko chuckled. “Very much so, I am almost 900 years old.” At the flabbergasted looks on the faces of the two Hales she explained, “Kitsune are essentially immortal, we can’t die until our tails are all destroyed.”

Peter said, “I read that kitsunes earn their tails in their first hundred years.”

She wiggled her hand in a so-so motion, “We can earn our tails at any time, even destroyed tails can be earned back, but most of us become Kyuubi no Kitsune, a nine-tailed fox, in our first hundred years, which is how the legend began. I am a Tengoku Kitsune, or in English, a Celestial Kitsune, and my daughter is a Sanda or Thunder Kitsune. If you shift to your beta form, you should be able to see our kitsune aura.”

Derek and Peter both flashed their eyes, and they could see the auras around the two women. Noshiko asked in wonder, “Derek, when did you become an alpha?”

Derek smirked. “How about a trade, you tell us your story, and then we’ll share ours? I have a feeling they are related.”

“Deal,” Noshiko agreed. “So I moved to Beacon Hills at the end of the 1930s. I was good friends with Satomi Ito and we moved to the states together. We wanted to escape Japan and find something better for both of us. She started a pack on the outskirts of Beacon Valley, on the neighboring territory to Sebastian Hale and his family.”

Peter smiled. “Sebastian was my grandfather. He died before I was born.”

Noshiko nodded. “When the Japanese entered the war, Japanese-Americans like myself and Satomi were rounded up and placed in internment camps around the states. I ended up in Oak Creek Camp, which I believe is now known as Eichen House, and myself and Satomi were there for a few years. The men who were guarding us were mostly good men, but there were a few that were stealing the supplies meant for the prisoners and selling them on the black market.”

Peter asked, “Why are there no records of the camp? I did a report for my high school history class on how World War II affected Beacon Hills, and there was no mention anywhere of an internment camp.”

Noshiko agreed. “The records were sealed, and they covered up the existence of the camp in the end. We had an outbreak of bacterial pneumonia and several prisoners died due to a lack of medicine. I discovered that one of the doctors had been selling the medication that was needed to treat the disease instead of using it to treat the prisoners. This led to a riot that killed even more prisoners, but also one of the guards, one who’d become a very good friend, Corporal Rhys.” Rage showed clear as day on her face as she bit out, “The army covered up the incident by burning the bodies and transferring the doctor who had been selling the drugs, rather than dealing with it honorably.”

Derek hung his head. “What did you do? I’ve seen that exact look of anger on Uncle Peter’s face after the fire. It’s a look that promises vengeance.”

She nodded. “I summoned a nogitsune, a void kitsune. They are known to cause chaos and are often used as tools of vengeance. However, it did more harm than I ever intended. It took both myself and Satomi to take it down after it possessed the body of Corporal Rhys. We captured it in a jar and buried it in the Nemeton. It should have been safe there.”

Peter agreed, “And it was, but my sister listened to our emissary, and he wanted the Nemeton cut down.”

The older kitsune gasped. “No! A druid suggested this? Why?”

Peter shrugged. “We don’t know. The good thing is we had a group of druids heal the Nemeton as much as they could before we left Beacon Hills, and they retrieved the nogitsune from the roots before taking him to London. Lord Paddington has a warded clean room they use for rituals. One of the MI5 druids healed him before taking him to a kitsune sanctuary in Japan.”

Derek said, “Based on their findings at the Nemeton, and the tests they did on the nogitsune before and after they cleansed it, I can categorically state that what happened at Oak Creek was not entirely your fault. The druids said the nogitsune you summoned was quite feral, and he had been driven that way by whoever had previously summoned it. If it had been sane, it would have heaped the vengeance you wanted, as that’s what Void Kitsunes do, apparently. But then it would have stuck around just creating mischief on everyone else. They are pranksters at heart.”

Peter added, “Based on world events, we narrowed down that Asora was born over 1000 years ago. He even helped build the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Before you summoned him, someone had locked him away for, near as we can figure it, 400 years. He was on his own the entire time, going slowly feral. The last major world event he could remember was the execution of Anne Boleyn by King Henry VIII.”

Ken said, “Back in the 1500s, wow, no wonder he was feral.” He got a far away look on his face as he murmured, “The things he could teach me.”

Kira scoffed and muttered, “You’ll have to excuse my dad, he’s a real history nut.”

Peter nodded. “Don’t worry, I feel the same way. I am actually excited. Once he’s finished his rehab at the sanctuary in Japan, he’s joining our pack and moving to Beacon Hills. He and Stiles got on like a house on fire.”

Noshiko frowned, “You would accept a kitsune into your pack? Speaking of the pack, Derek, how did you become an alpha?”

Derek sighed. “So you know I was living here in New York with my sister as my alpha. Well, she was lured back to Beacon Hills last Christmas. We aren’t sure if Uncle Peter did it while feral or if it was the hunters. We’ll probably never know. But she went to Beacon Hills and was killed. The alpha spark went to Uncle Peter, who had been locked in his own mind for six years reliving the fire.”

Peter grimaced at the memory. “Honestly, it was mostly my wolf that was in control. The fire had destroyed the human side of me.”

“I went to Beacon Hills to try and find her,” Derek continued, “But instead I found a teenager who had been bitten against his will. He was running amok around the town with his then-best-friend, Stiles, who was trying to rein him in. We also had rogue hunters in town trying to kill us, as well as a feral alpha wolf systematically taking out those who helped Kate Argent kill our family. It was a mess.”

Peter rolled his eyes. “I was the feral alpha wolf, obviously. Eventually, I had Kate cornered at the old Hale house ruins after she’d spent a week torturing Derek in the basement, and I managed to kill her. I was then aiming to kill the other Argents when Stiles and Jackson arrived. They pelted me with Molotov cocktails and Derek was able to kill me.”

The three Yukimuras blinked at him, and Kira asked, “You’re a zombie?”

Peter shook his head. “No, but Stiles does love calling me Zombiewolf when I vex him. One of the teenagers I bit while I was feral was an emerging banshee. I was able to use her as a tether to return from limbo, and thankfully being in limbo restored my sanity.”

Derek nodded emphatically. “Yeah, I would’ve hated to have put you down a second time.”

Peter flicked him a dirty look so Derek continued with a grin, “So after we dealt with Peter, Gerard Argent came to town. It’s hard to believe, but he’s more of a psychopath than his daughter. He spent a few months terrorizing the town as I was building a pack of my own. I bit Jackson, he’s one of the teens now in London with Stiles, but his bite went… wrong. He became a kanima rather than a wolf.”

Peter said, “I came back using a ritual during the Worm Moon, and I was able to help Derek finish Jackson’s transformation into a werewolf. Unfortunately, not before my Fail Beta used the kanima to force Derek to bite Gerard Argent. On advice from the local druid, he had replaced Gerard’s cancer medication for mountain ash, so he had planned that when Gerard took the bite, it would force a rejection.”

Noshiko asked, “You keep calling him Fail Beta, but what’s his actual name?”

“Scott, Scott McCall.” Derek said, “He is not happy being a werewolf.”

Peter rolled his eyes so hard it’s surprising he didn’t see his own brain matter. “He loves everything about being a werewolf. It cured his asthma, made him popular, and the captain of the high school lacrosse team. However, his paramour is an Argent. He doesn’t seem to understand that if he was the asthmatic nobody he was before the bite, she wouldn’t be interested.”

Noshiko asked, “So, he’s not a member of your pack?”

Derek shook his head. “Definitely not. Not after he used me, against my will, to bite that bastard. Sorry.” He took a few calming breaths. “He is actually an alpha now, apparently a True Alpha, but I have my doubts.”

She asked, “So, he’s the territory alpha of Beacon Hills, now that you’ve left town?”

Derek shook his head. “Hell no. The FBI has loaned us one of their agents, an alpha, who is acting as the proxy alpha in the territory for me while we train. He has a couple of others there to assist him if needed, including a hellhound on loan from MI5.”

Ken asked, “You will accept a nogitsune into your pack, but not this kid, Scott?”

Peter nodded. “Asora, that’s his name. He’s largely innocent, and he said he’s been alone for too long. Once he’s finished in the sanctuary, he should have a corporeal form again. They’ll set him up with whatever he needs to live in the modern world, including teaching him about the technology, before they send him to us. We can’t take him into the pack officially until he restores his corporeal form.”

Kira said, “I thought wolf packs only took wolves? That they were fairly insular.”

Derek shrugged. “Most probably are. Mine, not so much. I have a werewolf/spark hybrid, a werewolf/kanima hybrid, and a resurrected uncle so far. I am more about the fit with the rest of the pack, versus the species.”

Noshiko stood and dragged her husband out of the room, “Excuse us please, we won’t be long.”

Kira looked at her parents in confusion before she shrugged and spent time catching up with her friend and getting to know his uncle.

Chapter Nineteen

October 1st, 2011

Noshiko and Ken returned half an hour later, looking a bit lighter, and they stood together in front of Derek. Noshiko formerly asked, “Alpha Hale, we request permission to join the Hale Pack, as a family. We would like to move to Beacon Hills to help protect your territory in your absence.”

Derek’s jaw dropped and said, “What? That’s a huge change for you all, and there’s no university close by for Ken to teach at.”

Ken chuckled, “No, but the high school is hiring for several positions, including history, and the salary they are offering is on par with what I earn at Columbia. It would also give me time to research and complete some of the academic papers that have been waiting on me to have spare time.”

Derek said, “The high salary is probably due to the high turnover. Just this year a darach murdered several teachers.”

Ken shrugged. “Honestly, if Asora is going to be moving to Beacon Hills, the chance to learn from someone else who has experienced history rather than just read about it is something I can’t pass up. The danger pay, as well as the extra spare time, will be worth it.”

Derek asked, “Do you mind if we set up a Skype call, I’d like to talk to the other alpha in our pack. I have my tablet with me.”

Noshiko nodded. “Sure, it would be good to meet the rest of your pack.”

Peter suggested, “Why don’t we see if Noah and Danny are available? You know Jackson and Cora will be with Stiles.”

A bit of creative wrangling, mostly Danny going to the station so he could use his tablet, and they were able to hook up a Skype call with all the current members of the Hale Pack, including Connor. Stiles had heard a lot about the Yukimuras from Derek while he was in England, and he was excited to chat with them.

Once everyone was connected and Derek had introduced them all, Stiles asked, “So what’s going on, alpha mine?”

Derek explained, “It turns out Noshiko is the kitsune that Asora refused to name. The one that summoned him in World War II.”

The English members of the pack were stunned at this news, and Cora snarked, “It’s a small world.”

Derek agreed. “It is. Noshiko and her family would like to join our pack. They’ve offered to move to Beacon Hills to help look after the territory in our absence.”

The pack was all keen to have the family join them, and they agreed wholeheartedly; on the condition that Kira would attend GWU with Danny after she graduated from high school. The teens promised to stay in touch so she would have somewhere to vent about the antics of the McCall Pack.

She asked, “Will I need to?”

Everyone said, “Yes!”

Noshiko said, “I know you called him a Fail Beta, but is he honestly that bad?”

Derek and Peter both nodded, and Peter explained, “The only person he listens to is the local druid, our ex-emissary, Doctor Deaton. And he listens without question. If Deaton said the sky was yellow, he would agree.”

Stiles warned, “If he gets a sense that you’re supernatural, he will try to draw you into his pack.”

Kira grinned, showing her mischievous fox side as she asked, “Why not let him, if he’s as new as you think he may not know how to use pack bonds. I could be a spy from the inside. If I use misdirection and evasion, I could join the pack without actually bonding to his pack.”

Peter nodded. “That could work. But only if it doesn’t put you in danger.”

Cora warned, “Just be warned, he’ll hit on anything with tits. The douche completely ignored Derek’s glaring at him when he was hitting on me in front of his girlfriend.”

Peter concurred. “Both Allison and Cora looked pretty pissed off, but that didn’t stop him. As for the pack, the only one who might figure out that you’re spying is Christopher, and I don’t think he’s overly happy with Scott.”

Noah agreed. “No, he’s really not. I don’t even think he considers himself part of the pack. He’s dropped in a few times to chat. He’s worried that with you guys leaving town, that Beacon Hills will be overrun with creatures. Chris knows Connor is here as your proxy, but that leaves it to just the three of us to monitor the territory.”

Connor added, “Chris also asked after Stiles. He wanted to make sure the kid was staying in touch with Noah, even though he was living in London.”

Noah grinned. “He said to pass on his congratulations for your acceptance into Oxford, and he promised to keep the news to himself. He wants to see you on your next visit to town though, just to reassure himself that you’re fine.”

Stiles was sure he saw a bit of a blush on his dad’s face, but kept that to himself. He asked, “He suspects something happened to me to make me leave town, doesn’t he?”

Noah and Connor both nodded and his dad said, “He’s going with don’t ask, don’t tell at the moment. I guess he’s worried about Allison telling Scott if he lets something slip.”

Noshiko asked, “Chris is Chris Argent? The local hunter? He doesn’t trust his daughter’s boyfriend?”

Noah rubbed the back of his neck, a move that looked almost identical to his son’s nervous tic, and said, “Chris doesn’t entirely trust Allison either. He suspects she knows where Gerard is but hasn’t asked her yet.”

Derek nodded. “If he asks her, it tips his hand. The Argent’s are matriarchal, and right now she is the Argent matriarch and in charge of the hunting side of the family.”

Stiles asked, “Isn’t it just the two of them?”

Peter shook his head. “No, there is family back in France that she answers to. They consider men the foot soldiers, pretty and brainless, so they are unlikely to listen to reports from Christopher.”

Noah asked, “Has he taken action to harm any of our pack?”

With a shrug, Derek said, “He threatened me at the gas station, but he had some of Kate’s goons with him.”

Stiles agreed, “He threatened me and Jackson at the hospital after Lydia was bitten, but again, he wasn’t alone.”

“His heart wasn’t in it,” Jackson agreed. “It was like the threats and intimidation were a show for the goons. Stiles played ‘mouthy, pissed off teenager’ perfectly.”

Stiles snarked, “What can I say? I’m a natural.”

Noshiko offered, “We could befriend him when we move. Let him know that we are in Beacon Hills as part of the Hale Pack. It’ll let him know that you definitely plan to return.”

Noah agreed, “It would. He’ll also appreciate more help that doesn’t just want to let the bad guys go.”

There was an incredulous laugh from Danny until he realized the sheriff was deadly serious.

“Ummm what?” Derek asked, “Who was let go?”

The sheriff took a deep breath, and he said, “Chris overheard Scott and Allison talking. They weren’t being subtle at all. Scott was talking about finding the darach, not to kill them or capture them, but to talk to them and warn them that he wouldn’t tolerate random killing. Then he planned to just kick them out of town; never mind the long list of people they’ve already killed.”

Peter growled, “So not only is he under the delusion that the territory is his, he’s willing to let threats go, and odds are, those threats will affect other territories.”

Connor suggested, “Why don’t you spend your breaks back here? It would be a good time to firm up your alliances with neighboring packs.”

Noshiko offered, “We can introduce you to Alpha Satomi Ito. She has a small pack in Beacon Valley. We stayed in contact after the war. As far as I can remember from our phone calls over the years, she has reasonable connections with the various alphas around Beacon Hills. We can at least let her know we’re in town as part of the pack, and we can introduce Connor as your proxy until your return.”

“Thanks,” Derek said appreciatively. “That would be great. Oh, Asora will be moving to the pack house once he’s been through rehab. I think he would appreciate more kitsunes around.”

Kira offered, “If he has email or a phone, I wouldn’t mind helping with his modern world education. I can teach him via memes.”

Stiles grinned. “We have a group chat for him that his nurses are helping with for now. I’ll add you to it once Derek sends through your details. For now, though, we need to go. The trainers just turned up for our range time.”

“We need to go as well,” Noah confirmed. “We need to go on patrol and Danny has to study, so he can test out in December.”

They all signed off Skype, and Derek and Peter spent the next few hours with the Yukimuras, bringing them all into the pack and then giving them a crash course in what to expect when they arrived in Beacon Hills.

-x-

Before Sam and Charlie left Beacon Hills after closing the case on the Darach, they had a meeting with Noah, Chris, and Allison to discuss their findings on the death of Victoria Argent.

They were both concerned that Allison seemed to be blaming Derek for her death. Sam and Charlie made it clear that had Victoria not died, they would have arrested her for the attempted murder of Scott McCall.

They detailed how they had interviewed both Scott and Derek, as well as going through the evidence from the scene. They found that Derek only bit Victoria in self-defense after she stabbed him while he was trying to rescue Scott; a fact the newer alpha had admitted to, but he had decided to keep from his girlfriend.

They could see that she refused to accept the findings, but Chris thanked them for trying.

-x-

The next six years were eventful. The kids in England all graduated from Oxford. Stiles became Dr. Paddington, he graduated with a PhD in criminal justice, he also had dual master’s degrees in forensic accounting and psychology. Jackson became Dr. Whittemore as he graduated with a PhD in law, as well as a master’s degree in criminal justice. Cora stuck with dual master’s degrees in computer science and criminal justice.

She left Oxford a year before the boys, moving to DC so she could work with Danny to develop a few apps they could use during their investigations. Between the two of them, they had developed a mobile bestiary and other programs that other law enforcement agencies could use for mundane crimes, once they had been altered slightly.

Instead of joining MI5, she joined Danny at Homeland Security, working as a technical analyst under Deputy Director Tom Morrow. Kira joined their small team once she had graduated from GWU a year later with a computer science master’s.

About a year after they left Beacon Hills, Danny had a weird phone call from Lydia. She demanded, “Where are you? I’ve been searching all over MIT and I haven’t seen you anywhere.”

Danny chuckled. “I don’t attend MIT, Lydia. I got a better offer from another college, which is why I graduated high school early.”

Lydia huffed. “Are you going to tell me where? And where’s Jackson? He’s supposed to be here at Harvard.”

“He got an even better offer,” Danny said smugly. “And no, I’m not telling you where either of us are living now. He’s exactly where he needs to be, and my location is classified.”

It wasn’t, but she didn’t need to know that. He didn’t want to get sucked into her orbit again.

She said quietly, “It’s lonely here without you two.”

Danny offered, “I’ll send through the details for a pack in Boston that might be interested in taking on a banshee. And before you ask, yes, I am fully aware of everything that went on in Beacon Hills. If you want my advice, join the pack, join a pack, any pack. It will be good for your inner wailing woman. Just stay away from McCall and Beacon Hills. It’s safer that way.”

Derek had been listening, and passed over the details for the more accepting pack in Boston. It was one that often took on college students that ended up staying. Danny sent through the details in a text when he ended the call.

Peter and Derek both spent a year at GWU before officially joining the FBI in 2013. Thanks to Ken, they had been able to test out of a few classes, which enabled them to get closer to the master’s degrees than they had originally planned. After they completed their training, Sam had them rotate through various teams to get experience. It was an open secret that they were being primed to be a new team within the Talos Task Force on the west coast, together with members of MI5.

Derek enjoyed his time with the BAU, and he learned a lot about profiling that could only be learned on the job. Peter had a lot of fun with Tobias Fornell in the Major Case team, often working with him to rile Tony’s boss Leroy Jethro Gibbs at NCIS.

The pack regularly met with Tony for movie nights, but they kept their friendship on the down-low at Tony’s request. Tony knew his team at NCIS had issues with privacy, namely, they didn’t respect his. The SECNAV had locked the knowledge of his link to the Paddington family down when NCIS hired him. Only those with clearance level above Top Secret knew. Even his boss at the time, Director Tom Morrow, was unaware of the link.

The only person at NCIS who knew of his connection to the MI5 Deputy Director was Tony’s team lead, Jethro Leroy Gibbs, and it had taken a few years for Tony to trust his taciturn boss with the entirety of the secret. He’d even been read in on the supernatural by Derek and Peter, which he took better than any of them expected, and the pair regularly attended the pack gatherings. Gibbs’ cowboy steaks were a hit with the pack, even if he refused to share the recipe for his marinade.

When Gibbs had an accident that resulted in him losing years of his memories, the pack rallied together for their friend, and they arranged for him to recuperate in London, with Stiles and Jackson. They let NCIS believe he had run to Mexico to hang out with his old mentor, Mike Franks. However, he had actually spent the three months he was away in England with one of the MI5 therapists, recovering his memories, and dealing with the loss of his wife and child all over again, albeit in a healthier manner.

He realized when he returned home, that he had been in love with Tony for years now and he was finally in a place he could accept it. It was soon after he returned to Washington, DC, that Tony officially moved in with Gibbs, in Alexandria.

The pack returned to Beacon Hills frequently to perform renewal rituals on the Nemeton. They wanted to help it recover from the damage that had been done when it was cut down. They timed these with the seasonal festivals, usually Mabon, Ostara, and Litha.

Dalton and Adam grew close to the pack, and after a few years, they requested permission to become permanent members of the Hale Pack. They would continue to guard Stiles while he was based in England, but they wanted to stay with him when he joined the FBI with the rest of the pack.

It took Asora about a year to completely regain his corporeal form, and the pack celebrated with a party in the newly built pack house during the Christmas break. He spent another year with the rehab center learning about the modern world and getting his real life experience converted into educational degrees. Thankfully, one of the local universities had worked with other long-lived creatures on similar projects, so he just had to take exams to judge his actual proficiency, and by the end of it he ended up with a few master’s degrees.

He’d thought about joining the pack in law enforcement, but instead, he decided he wanted a quiet life for a while. Asora thought about how he wanted to help the local community, so together with Noshiko, they opened a martial arts training dojo near the edge of the preserve. Asora taught Eskrima, Katana, and Taekwondo, while Noshiko taught fencing and karate. They were very popular with the local deputies, who were offered a discount on the various classes.

Chris joined the dojo as an instructor just over a year after it opened. He assisted the two kitsunes with the martial arts classes, and he gave archery lessons in the specialist range they had built onto the back of the studio. Chris still ran Argent Arms International, but he had hired someone he trusted, and who’d wanted out of the hunting life to do most of the legwork.

During Allison’s senior year, he’d finally had enough of her behavior. The tipping point was when he realized his daughter definitely knew Gerard’s location, but refused to give it to the local police. He told her not to contact him again until she gave up his location.

To everyone’s surprise, Chris sold the apartment he shared with Allison and moved in with Noah when she left for college. It was the final step for him to divorce himself from the Argent hunting family.

Scott had been told until they were blue in the face that the Beacon Hills territory was still Hale Pack territory, but he refused to accept it, no matter who tried to tell him. Especially when he’d had his emissary contradicting that information.

Deaton tried a few times to do the land claim ritual, but an increasingly pissed-off Nemeton rebuffed it. The last ritual caused a magical backlash so strong that it put the druid in a coma for a week. That’s when he finally gave up and accepted that the land still belonged to the Hales. However, he continued to tell Alpha McCall that he was the territory alpha and not to accept information to the contrary.

The best part for the pack was when the England-based members of the pack returned to Beacon Hills for the various vacations, ceremonies, and parties; Stiles wasn’t recognized as they wandered around town. Hilariously for the pack, Scott and Allison waited behind Stiles and Jordan for coffee at the local coffee shop, and there wasn’t even a hint of recognition.

After Derek and Peter had been in the FBI for around a year, they had invited both Sam and Charlie to join the Hale Pack as adjacent members. This would give them rights within Beacon Hills to stay in the territory should they wish to retire there, but they could also attend pack gatherings as members of the pack. It was an offer they both accepted wholeheartedly. While they had other werewolves within the FBI Talos Task Force, they all belonged to various packs around the country, so there wasn’t as much of a sense of belonging as what the Hale Pack had. They made sure to keep their interactions in the office more formal, so there would be no accusations of favoritism.

The Yukimura family settled happily in Beacon Hills. Kira spent her senior year of high school at Beacon Hills High School, and she joined in with the local pack for movie nights on the full moon. However, Kira left angrily one night, and she refused to associate with the pack near the end of her senior year. Scott had cornered her at one of the movie nights when Allison was busy, and tried to coerce her into sleeping with him.

Ken and Asora became fast friends, and Asora was a great help to Ken while he was writing his doctoral thesis on Japanese history. Noshiko had apologized profusely for calling him down to cause chaos, and after Asora accepted the apology, they had a long talk about what should have happened; she accepted that it was just bad luck that she got a feral vengeance demon instead of a prankster void kitsune.

-x-

Over the years they were training, the pack had a side project. Derek had mentioned Noshiko’s comment about the Nemeton and how it could be related to how so many smart people came from the same town. Add to that a few of their teachers, on both sides of the pond, had made comments about how strange it was that so many smart people came from one town; none of them noticed that the group of highly intelligent people was larger than they thought.

Using Danny and Cora’s resources, they pulled records for the individual pack members, and they looked into others from Beacon Hills who had graduated with above average grades and started to look for the commonalities. Other than the six in the pack, they had noticed no one else who stood out. Even Lydia, who seemed to be above average in smarts, but her intelligence was mostly focused on her math skills.

It was when they looked into the birth records for the pack members that they found what may be the common element. Peter, Cora, and Derek were all home births, and the Hale Pack house was quite close to the Nemeton. Stiles was born in the preserve and while it did not mention the exact location, they were pretty sure it was near the Nemeton. Jackson discovered he had been born on the side of the road, not far from the Nemeton, and Danny was born on the main road through the preserve, as his parents had tried to make it to the hospital.

Danny and Stiles both spoke to their parents about their births, as they were the only parents still living from the pack, and they were surprised at the stories they heard.

Noah explained how Claudia went missing one day, when she was a week away from her due date. She was eventually found in the preserve by the tracker dogs, with baby Stiles asleep in her arms. He said, “When I asked her what she was thinking, she said she had to; that something told her to have her baby in the preserve and she was protected. I guess she was talking about the Nemeton, but I’m not sure if she even knew about the supernatural. She was very big on following her instincts, though.”

Olivia and Sam had a different story, but the same ending. They had been visiting San Francisco, shopping for the nursery room. Olivia had two weeks until her due date, so she thought they would be fine to make the trip.

On the way to San Francisco, she started to have mild contractions, nothing too serious, and she had passed it off as Braxton Hicks contractions. However, on the drive back to Beacon Hills, they started to get more severe and Sam delivered Danny on the side of the road. When they looked at the location, they realized it was a similar distance from the Nemeton as the Hale house.

Noah was also able to shed a bit of light on Jackson’s birth. He explained, “I remember attending your birth, Jackson. There was a car accident, it had been raining pretty heavily, and your father lost control of the car as they were driving on one of the roads bordering the preserve.”

Jackson had a feeling it wasn’t far from where Danny was born. Noah said, “The EMTs weren’t able to save either of your parents, but your mother’s last act was to curl around her stomach so you would be protected. I think you were born maybe a month early via a roadside cesarean. You were then adopted pretty quickly by the Whittemores who had been told they couldn’t have a child.”

Derek talked with Noshiko and Asora about their findings, and Asora said, “Nemeta are mysteries. We are still learning what they are capable of. It’s entirely possible that the Nemeton here in Beacon Hills could see that the six of you were its best chance at survival and it wanted to give you an advantage.” He shrugged. “We may never know.”

-x-

Three months before Stiles and Jackson were due to move to Washington, the pack all descended on the Paddington Manor for a long-awaited wedding. Chris and Noah had started dating not long after Danny left for DC, and after Chris moved in with Noah, they quietly got engaged. Their relationship was a secret to most in Beacon Hills, as they had made sure to spend most of their date nights out of the county.

Clive had offered the manor up as a location for the wedding, since he felt Claudia would be glad to see Noah happy again. They had invited several of the alphas Noah and Chris had been working with in Northern California, so it became quite a big event. Stiles had arranged for one of the MI5 crime scene photographers to take lots of photos of the wedding. She was experienced in capturing supernaturals without the telltale eyeflash. So Chris and Noah would have some fantastic photos from their big day.

Chris was sad that his only child wasn’t there to celebrate with them. She still hadn’t given up Gerard’s location, and after he sold his apartment, she had refused to speak to him. Stiles, Derek, and the rest of the pack did their best to make up for the absence.

-x-

As for Derek and Stiles, they took their courtship slowly. Stiles wanted to give Derek time to come to terms with just how much Kate’s actions were not at all on him.

Derek and Stiles both talked to their therapists about the courting process. They advised Stiles to take things slowly and be patient. He understood that it would take Derek a while to accept he was allowed nice things.

It took Derek’s therapist longer to convince him to accept the possibility of the relationship, and to not just push Stiles away with the misguided notion that he could do better. He was told to trust his wolf, who seemed to know that Stiles was the right one for them both.

As they were separated for much of their courtship, they found ways to enjoy dates remotely, with the occasional flight to see each other for weekends together. Stiles enjoyed their nights watching movies and TV series while talking together on Skype, and he loved that Derek didn’t mind his rambling during the shows.

They also spent most of the main holidays in Beacon Hills. They wanted to spend time with the pack, and they were also able to use the time to renegotiate many of the alliances that had fallen when Laura had vanished from Beacon Hills without a trace after the fire.

Many of those pack alphas expressed sympathy over the losses, and they mentioned that they would have been willing to take in the two teens and protect them, even more so, had they known that hunters were involved.

Jackson, Cora, Peter, and Danny were happy to give them space while they were on Skype so they could talk and really get to know each other properly. They all knew from reading the books they had access to that talking was an important part of the courtship process on both sides. Not only did it help them with selecting the appropriate gifts for each stage, but it also helped them get closer and discover just how compatible they were.

It amazed Derek at just how much his wolf wanted the whole courtship process. He got the feeling his wolf enjoyed being pampered by the many gifts his mate was showering him with, but also with just how right the gifts were for him. It showed a level of attention and care he hadn’t had from many others in his life.

As they got closer to their move to Washington, Stiles was alternating between excitement and nervousness. They had decided since Stiles’ courtship and subsequent long-distance relationship with Derek had gone so well, that when he moved to DC, it would be straight into the master suite with Derek. They planned to do their mate bond ceremony at the first full moon after they were settled in Washington.

After nearly five years of courting, they were both sure it was the right move for them and the pack. They couldn’t wait to get back to Beacon Hills so they could see just how strong the pack would be once they were all together.


Post Archive

HarleyJQuin

She/Her, geek. Lego Photographer exploring a different creative medium.

39 Comments:

  1. That was great.
    I really enjoyed this. 🙂

  2. Well done Harley. I had a lot of fun reading this 🙂 I’m excited for the next part.

    Thank you for sharing,
    ~Sibyl

  3. I enjoyed this! Fixits for the win! Thanks so much for writing and posting!

  4. I very much enjoyed this story and how you’ve altered (& vastly improved upon) canon. Plus adding another fandom – I love crossovers and mergers!
    Thank you!

  5. Great Story

  6. Great story. I enjoyed it enormously, and I’m a sucker for a happy ending :).

  7. Really enjoyed this fic. I love how Stiles is so nonchalant regarding his talking to his wolf. What’s wrong with all you born children, don’t you listen to your wolf? Love that he kept his Spark. Love Asora. Thank you for saving the Nogitsune and making him cool. Love how you brought the pieces together. I’m very glad there’s mor coming. I like this world and it will be awesome to see more.
    Thank you

  8. Thanks for sharing!

  9. That was a great story! I enjoyed it tremendously.

  10. Great story. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Fantastic story, totally loved it. Scott’s stupid self righteousness typical. Always love fixits where the adults are sensible. I always think Tony’s snark and Stiles’ sassiness are a combination made of win and we got that little tidbit at the end. Really loved how you worked in the Yukimuras and their connection to Derek. Very much looking forward to reading the second part of the series. Thank you very much for writing and sharing this gem of a read.

  12. Very well done. Couldn’t put my tablet aside until I finished. It’s two in the morning and I’m wide awake because of the sheer awesomeness I got to enjoy here.
    Thank you for sharing. <3

  13. This was so good and I loved it.

  14. Great story! You had some really interesting plot threads and ideas. I really liked that you brought Jackson in as a member of the pack; it’ll be interesting to see him using his kanima side. Can’t wait to read part two!

  15. This is a wonderful read! Thank you so much!

  16. This was fun. Thank you.

  17. Harley my love! Not sure what more I can say about this that I’ve not said already. I always, always adore your writing and the creative story telling that you continuously put out. This by far is one of my favorites of yours and I can’t wait to see how the second story goes….I know you’ve added quite a lot since I looked it over previously.

    Wonderful work; once again I’m amazed by you.

  18. So much fun to read! Thank you for sharing! <3

  19. Great story. i enjoyed it very much.

  20. That was a really fun read with lots and lots of fix-it and no fucks given.
    Thank you for sharing !

  21. This was a fun read! I love Stiles talking to his wolf – like duh Hales, why wouldn’t you just ask for help. Fun to see the adventures of Cora, Jackson, and Stiles abroad as well. I also really liked the nemata world building, really cool stuff. Thanks so much for sharing!

  22. Very good story, thanks for sharing it

  23. I had so much fun reading this! I’m so glad someone gave Derek and Peter the pack they deserved. Thanks for sharing!

  24. This was amazing. I loved watching as the pack was built up and how you pulled everyone into it! The relationship between everyone was fantastic, and watching as they built up and seeing Derek and stiles both deal with their issues and letting their wolves guide them was perfect.

  25. Great story.
    I loved Stiles’ approach to his wolf, he will be a powerful Spark as he looks at things in a different way.

  26. This was a brilliant story, I had such a great time reading it, thank you! I loved the whole Paddington idea and how you managed to bring all the TW elements into your story (like the nogitsune)

  27. I’m a sucker for Alpha Stiles fics and I really loved how you handled his role within the pack. There’s just something about the way you write Jackson that always has me excited to see him in a fic, especially being something familiar for Stiles when everything else is changing. It’s always fun to see the different incarnations of the Paddingtons but Clive being Alpha of a government sanctioned pack is a fun variation. And the idea of courtship for Derek and Stiles is really sweet.

  28. This is a great story, thank you for sharing with us!
    I love this idea of Stile’s spark and the alpha spark merging. I loved to see how the pack grew and how their relationships grew strong.
    I’m very much looking forward to the second story in your series!

  29. Gosh I love a good Alpha Stiles story, and this is cream of any crop! Wonderfully story, as soon as I finish writing this I’m rereading because it’s so good! A much, much, oodles greater Teen Wolf season 1 fix-it indeed!

  30. Love love love 💕💗💓💞 this. Off to read the next part now. Thank you!

  31. So very excellent! 💕

  32. Great read! Loved when Stiles said “did you ask your wolf?” Having the Hale pack rediscover the full shift was awesome.

  33. Thank you for the lovely Teen Wolf story. I haven’t read anything in that fandom for a while and your story reminded me how much I like it, and my love for Stiles.

  34. I really enjoyed reading this story. At one point, I got up to make a cup of tea and banged around the kitchen, prompting my husband so ask why I was in such a bad mood – I realised that it was because I was so mad at Scott in your fic, ha ha! If that’s not a sign of a completely engaging story, I don’t know what is.

  35. Loved this. Well done! Really interesting ideas, especially where all the pack members were born and how the Nemeton affected them, or not, because they all might just be that brilliant in their own way……nah.

  36. I very much enjoyed this! Thank you for sharing!

  37. Thank you for the great story and ending.

  38. Wonderful story, adored every chapter, loved the extended timeline, thank you

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.