Actions

Work Header

hell I'm just a kid myself

Chapter Text

In retrospect, Stiles thinks that he really should've known better.

 

***

 

Lydia and Jackson breaking up isn't anything new. It happens at least once a month and usually only lasts for a week. They're one of the school's hottest couples, but they're still a lot better at fighting than they are at communicating, or generally getting along. (Stiles has several theories on why this is, any one of them could be true.)

 

Stiles hears about this most recent breakup on a Wednesday, he somehow gets involved in the drama the following Thursday. It's not a particularly interesting Thursday. It's a Thursday like any other Thursday. Stiles got up that morning, drove him and Scott to school, and then suffered through a few classes in which he was mostly bored. Lunch is when everything changes.

 

Stiles doesn't go to the cafeteria for lunch on that particular Thursday. Scott had forgotten to do his English essay the night before and Stiles had agreed to help him finish it over lunch. Stiles is heading to the library when he comes across Lydia. Or, she comes across him. He's all set to stand aside and have his compliments and greetings be ignored, as per usual, but his "You look lovely today, Lydia" dies a swift death halfway out of his mouth when Lydia actually acknowledges his existence and makes a beeline right for him.

 

Her eyes are wide and sparkling, her red hair is shining from the sunlight coming through a nearby window, and she's smiling widely at him. Thinking back on things later, Stiles knows that this should have been his first clue. He's always had the hope that, eventually, his persistence would pay off and Lydia would have to develop feelings for him. At this point, though, he's well aware that she isn't overly fond of him (when she even knows he's alive, anyway).

 

"Stiles!" Lydia exclaims, that Thursday afternoon. "Just the person I was hoping to find today!"

 

"I—wha—really?" Stiles asks, pointing at himself like a dork. "I—okay, here I am!" He spreads his arms wide in an exaggerated motion and nearly knocks something from a nearby bulletin board. Lydia briefly glances over at it, and then back to him, her smile never wavers. That right there should've had alarm bells going off in Stiles' head, but he had been too preoccupied with OMG Lydia Martin is talking to ME AND SMILING!!11!!1!!1

 

"How would you," Lydia starts, immediately closing the distance between her and Stiles. She rests a hand on Stiles' chest and Stiles sincerely hopes she can't feel how hard and fast his heart is pounding. "Like to take me out tomorrow night?"

 

"Like, on a date?" Stiles asks.

 

"Exactly like on a date," Lydia says, still smiling. Stiles is nodding like a bobblehead before his mouth decides to answer.

 

"Yes!" He exclaims. "Totally. I would love to take you out on a date tomorrow night."

 

"Excellent," Lydia says. "I'll pick you up at 7. I'm not getting near that death trap you call a Jeep." Stiles just nods dumbly. Lydia pats him on the chest and saunters off down the hallway. Stiles is completely frozen as he watches her go, only jumping into motion when Lydia reaches the end of the hall and disappears around the corner.

 

"Oh my god," he mumbles. "Scott. SCOTT!"

 

***

 

Scott had initially been skeptical when Stiles told him about the date, but eventually his eternal sense of optimism had won out and he'd been nearly just as excited.

 

Stiles doesn't know what his father's reaction would be to the whole situation, and he never really finds out beforehand because the sheriff is working the evening and night shift all week and Stiles never gets a chance to tell him.

 

Scott and Stiles text back and forth continuously Friday night while Stiles waits for Lydia to pick him up. She shows up at 7 o'clock on the dot and Scott's final text is a 'good luck dude' as Stiles climbs into Lydia's car.

 

He doesn't question why they drive to a restaurant in the next town for a meal, and doesn't disagree when Lydia tells him that they should take this to a more private venue. And he definitely has no issues when Lydia ends up driving them up to her family's secluded lake house in the woods.

 

Stiles genuinely wasn't expecting things to go as far as they did, but he can't say he's anything but happy when he's lying, sweaty and sated, next to Lydia in one of the lake house's bedrooms. He really hopes the experience was as good for her as it was for him, but they don't end up lingering around long enough for Stiles to ask.

 

He's a bit disappointed that there isn't any post-coital cuddling, but the smile Lydia gives him when she drops him off home gives him a bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of something great.

***

***

Chapter Text

Things almost immediately start going to shit after that night.

 

***

 

It's pretty late by the time Stiles gets back home, but he still texts Scott as soon as he's up in his room.

 

From: ScottBro

Congrads, dude

 

From: ScottBro

Dos this mean u guys r dating now??

 

To: ScottBro

I really hope so dude. I really feel like we made a connection tonite.

 

From: ScottBro

Yeah u did lol

 

To: ScottBro

Not what I meant.

 

To: ScottBro

I'm choosing to be optimistic about this.

 

From: ScottBro

Aww

 

To: ScottBro

Shutup

 

Stiles is smiling goofily to himself and shaking his head when he sends Lydia a goodnight text. He still hasn’t heard back from her by the time he falls asleep for the night.

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't want to seem desperate or creepy, but he hasn't heard from Lydia at all since she dropped him off back home the night before. His goodnight text has still gone unanswered.

 

There's a niggling thought at the back of Stiles' mind that's starting to worry him. He checks Lydia's Facebook page when he gets up Saturday morning. There are recent new posts on it, so he's assuming that she made it back home Friday night.

 

There are no posts at all referencing the date the night before (even Stiles had made a vague 'best nite evarrrr' post), and it makes something turn over in his stomach. He tries to convince himself to not overthink this, but it's really a lost cause.

 

He makes it until a little after noon before he sends another text.

 

When he hasn't heard back by early evening he calls Scott.

 

"I'm concerned," is what he opens with.

 

"What?" Scott asks, sounding completely confused.

 

"Lydia," Stiles says. "She hasn't texted me back since before our date last night."

 

"Does this mean no second date?" Scott asks.

 

"I'm serious here, dude."

 

"It's probably nothing. Maybe she's just busy?"

 

Stiles isn't entirely sure about that, but Scott still manages to talk him into an all-night Left 4 Dead marathon that only ends when the sheriff returns from his night shift and yells at them both to go to sleep.

 

***

 

After a whole weekend of silence from Lydia, Stiles is a little bit apprehensive when he and Scott arrive at school Monday morning. Stiles parks the Jeep and follows Scott into the school. He's looking around, trying to spot Lydia in the crowded hallway. He finally does spot her when the crowd thins out a bit. She's standing next to her locker with some of the lacrosse girlfriends. Stiles smiles and waves when he catches her gaze and gets ready to walk over, but then Lydia just looks through him like so many times before. Like Friday night never happened. Stiles slowly lowers his arm and his smile turns confused.

 

He doesn't resist when Scott pulls him away to homeroom.

 

***

 

He runs into Jackson in the boys' bathroom between first and second period.

 

It's really awkward.

 

Stiles doesn't know how to react to this. Jackson is, by far, not Stiles' favourite person in the world for a number of reasons. Him dating Lydia isn't the whole reason; Stiles and Jackson have been at odds since kindergarten, before Lydia was even a part of things. Their interactions are usually pretty antagonistic, but Stiles really doesn't know what to do now.

 

Jackson has a history of not taking his and Lydia's regular breakups very well; usually turning into an even more obnoxious bully until Lydia takes him back and all is right in his world again. As far as Stiles knows, neither Jackson nor Lydia has ever been with someone else while on a break. This is new territory, possibly for all of them.

 

Though, Stiles doesn't really know where he stands with Lydia right now. She still hasn't returned his texts, and after the scene in the hallway earlier he's feeling very nervous.

 

Jackson eyes Stiles when he enters the bathroom. He looks angry, but that's not uncommon with them. Before Stiles can start babbling to fill the thick silence, Jackson roughly shoulders past him and out into the hallway. Stiles ends up hitting into one of the sinks. He's not sure of much in this situation, but he knows one thing now: Jackson definitely knows about Stiles and Lydia.

 

Stiles doesn't know how to feel about that, but there's a growing sense of dread.

 

He sends Lydia another text. He doesn't get a reply.

 

***

 

Stiles spots Lydia in the cafeteria at lunch.

 

She's sitting at her usual table, cuddled into Jackson's side under the arm he has thrown over her shoulders.

 

Stiles stops dead in his tracks as soon as he registers what he's seeing. Then he just feels sick. Scott, walking with him, also stops and the smile on his face immediately vanishes. He looks about as stunned as Stiles feels.

 

Stiles is frozen in place, sure that everyone's eyes are on him (though he knows, somewhere in his mind, that they probably aren't). Jackson and Lydia do look over at him, though, heads turning at the same time. Jackson scowls at him, Lydia doesn't seem to have much of a reaction, but then she turns to smirk at Jackson. A boy sitting across from Jackson looks like he muffles a laugh into his fist.

 

It's with a sick feeling of horror that Stiles understands exactly what happened.

 

He's grateful that Scott pulls him out of the cafeteria and down the hall before the tears come.

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't tell his father anything that happened.

 

If the school notified the sheriff when Stiles left early, the man doesn't say anything about it. He also doesn't say anything about Stiles wrapped up in bed like a sad burrito, with Scott sitting next to him scowling down at his phone as he texts back and forth with, Stiles can only assume, Danny.

 

Stiles has been teased and mocked by his classmates for most of his school career; bullied by Jackson for about as long. But this is a totally new experience for him and it cuts deep.

 

He always knew that Lydia was scheming and manipulative, he even sometimes admired her for it. But he never once thought that she could be this cruel. Either to him or to Jackson (though, honestly, he feels no real sympathy for Jackson, he still hates him).

 

***

 

That Friday night with Lydia had been one of the best of Stiles' life.

 

It had been everything he'd wanted, everything he'd dreamed of. He really, genuinely thought that Lydia had decided to give them a chance. He'd honestly thought that what they'd shared meant that they'd be together, like a couple.

 

On Friday night he'd felt euphoric. He'd gone on a date and lost his virginity with the girl of his dreams; the girl he'd been pining over for years.

 

Now he just feels used. Dirty.

 

***

 

Stiles is very grateful to Scott for letting him cry on his shoulder without comment.

 

***

Chapter Text

Stiles finds out about the pregnancy from Jackson, of all people.

 

***

 

Stiles is pretty sure that Jackson, Lydia, and their friends are laughing at him behind his back.

 

Poor Stiles, actually thought he had a chance.

 

Lydia has taken to ignoring him. He thinks. He's mostly ignoring her these days. He spends a lot of time looking back on his life and re-evaluating his feelings and opinions about Lydia. He wishes he could go back to Thursday and turn Lydia down, let her target someone else for her cruel scheme (though, would it have worked the same way if it had been anyone other than Stiles?). He'd still be pining after something that would probably never happen, but at least he wouldn't feel like this.

 

He feels as if his heart has been ripped out of his chest and stomped on.

 

He wonders if Lydia knows how deeply this has affected him.

 

He wonders if she even cares.

 

***

 

Stiles has been avoiding Lydia for weeks. To the point where, if he can, he'll leave any area he finds himself in with her. He used to lament the fact that they didn't share many classes, now he's grateful for it. He stops listening any time her name is mentioned, and he stops seeking her out in crowds.

 

Jackson still gives him dirty looks whenever they cross paths, but otherwise ignores him, Stiles ignores him back. He's well and truly given up on Lydia at this point. If Jackson wants to stay with someone who could do what she did without remorse, Stiles will leave him to it.

 

He doesn't expect Jackson to interact with him much going forward.

 

He definitely doesn't expect for Jackson to corner him in an empty classroom one day in between classes.

 

Stiles is eyeing the door as Jackson locks it after himself. Oddly, he's not scared of whatever's about to happen, he just wants it over with as soon as possible.

 

"Something I can do for you, Whittemore?" Stiles asks. He tries to feign nonchalance by leaning against a desk, misses the desk, and almost falls over. Jackson waits patiently while Stiles flails himself back upright.

 

"I'm going to tell you something," Jackson says. "and you're going to keep that to yourself unless I say otherwise." Stiles pauses at the other boy's tone. Jackson sounds mostly resigned, and not even a little bit angry or threatening. Stiles narrows his eyes at him and studies him. Jackson seems like he's looking a bit wilted today; his skin is slightly pale and there are bags under his eyes. His shoulders are a bit hunched, like he's bracing himself for bad things.

 

"I'm gonna be honest with you," Stiles says, slowly. "That statement doesn't exactly inspire confidence."

 

"This is a fucked up situation, Stilinski," Jackson says. Stiles raises his eyebrows, he can't remember Jackson ever swearing before.

 

"Whatever mess you've gotten yourself into doesn't have anything to do with me," Stiles says. "If you need me to smooth something over with my dad, or something, I'm telling you right now that I won't do it."

 

"This has nothing to do with your dad," Jackson says, scowling. "I need you to take a paternity test."

 

"I... I don't know what to say to that," Stiles says. It's the only thing he can think of to say.

 

"Lydia's pregnant," Jackson says.

 

"Of course she is," Stiles mutters. Because that would happen, wouldn't it? This situation just keeps getting better and better. And by 'better' Stiles really means 'worse' because this is just a huge mess. Not so long ago Stiles would've been overjoyed to have children with Lydia (it was part of his, now scrapped, 10-year plan), but that had been before Lydia had stomped all over his heart and feelings and used him as a pawn in whatever twisted plot she'd had to hurt Jackson.

 

Stiles is feeling a bit light-headed now and shakily lowers himself into the nearest chair. He's surprised when Jackson pulls a chair closer to sit beside Stiles. Neither of them move or talk for the next few minutes. The bell for the next class rings and they both ignore it.

 

"What makes you think it's mine?" Stiles asks, finally breaking the silence. "Chances are that it's most likely yours. You've had way more sex with her than I have."

 

"Yes I have," Jackson says. "And this has never happened before. Because I know how condoms work." The like you clearly don't goes unsaid, but it's heavily implied and Stiles bristles.

 

"She said she was on the pill," he snaps, but he's more embarrassed than angry. Jackson rolls his eyes at him and Stiles tamps down on the urge to punch him. "I didn't have any condoms; she said it wouldn't matter."

 

"Seriously?" Jackson asks. "Who doesn't bring condoms on a date?"

 

"Uh, me?" Stiles snips. "No one told me the night was gonna end in sex. I was expecting dinner and a movie. It was a first date!" Jackson gives him a pained look, Stiles looks away from him. More silence follows.

 

"Look," Jackson says. "Maybe it's yours, maybe it isn't. My dad's asking for a paternity test anyway and if, somehow, it comes out that the baby's not mine hopefully it'll be yours."

 

"Hopefully?" Stiles asks. "Didn't ever think you'd want more of me out there."

 

"If it's yours then I can keep telling myself that you're the only other one," Jackson says, looking down at his shoes. Stiles feels a lump in his throat.

 

"This is fucked up," he says.

 

"It is."

 

"I'm telling Scott about this."

 

Jackson shrugs. "I told Danny."

 

Stiles nods. The two of them sit there in silence (mostly, on Stiles' end) until the bell rings for the end of class. Then they both get up and leave the room, still not speaking. They go their separate ways once they reach the hall, walking away without looking back.

 

***

 

From: Unknown

Ull have to get a blood test

 

To: Unknown

WHAT?!?!?

 

From: Unknown

This is Jackson u idiot

 

From: Jerk-son

U have to get a blood test

 

From: Jerk-son

For the baby

 

To: Jerk-son

Fine. Where?

 

To: Jerk-son

Also how did you get this number??

 

From: Jerk-son

I got it off lydias phone

 

From: Jerk-son

She doesn’t know.

 

To: Jerk-son

Weird, but whatever. Where do I go for the blood test?

 

To: Jerk-son

And when?

 

From: Jerk-son

I'll let you know what my dad says

 

***

 

"Wait, explain this to me again," Scott says.

 

"I don't know how you didn't get it the first time," Stiles says. "Lydia's pregnant, it might be mine, Jackson wants me to take a DNA test. Pretty simple, actually."

 

"Pretty simple except that it makes no sense!" Scott exclaims. "How did this even happen?!"

 

"Well," Stiles says.

 

"Shut up," Scott interrupts. Stiles shrugs his shoulders.

 

The two of them are up in Stiles' bedroom. It's mid-afternoon and they've both just returned from school. Stiles is surprised he'd waited as long as he had before letting Scott in on the bombshell Jackson had dropped on him earlier. Stiles is laying on his bed, staring blankly up at the ceiling, while Scott is sitting hunched in Stiles' desk chair with his face in his hands. Eventually Scott straightens out and leans back in the chair.

 

"So, what are you gonna do now?" He asks.

 

"I have no idea, dude," Stiles says. "I don't even know when I'm supposed to go for the test. I can't even make myself think past that yet."

 

"Doesn't the baby have to be actually born before they can do a DNA test?" Scott asks. "Are you really gonna have to wait that long before you find out?"

 

"I don't think so," Stiles says. "I Googled it during lunch. There're ways to test paternity before the baby's born. I think that's what Jackson's father wants. I just don't know when they can do it though."

 

"How pregnant is she, though?" Scott asks. "A few months?"

 

"Sounds about right," Stiles says.

 

"Is she keeping it, though?" Scott asks. "I never thought Lydia would be the first teen mom I ever knew."

 

"Or I'd be the first teen dad," Stiles says.

 

"Alleged teen dad," Scott says.

 

"Way to make it sound like a criminal offence, Scotty," Stiles quips.

 

"It will be once your dad finds out," Scott says. Stiles groans out loud and turns over so he's face down on the bed.

 

***

Chapter Text

The sheriff finds out about Stiles' impending fatherhood before Stiles does. Because of course.

 

***

 

"STILES!"

 

Stiles fumbles with the milk carton he was just drinking from, nearly sending it flying across the kitchen. He's just managed to shove it back into the fridge when his dad storms in, something clutched in his fist.

 

"Hey, Dad," he says. "You seem... excited today." It's still before noon on the sheriff's day off, there's no reason that Stiles can think of for him to be this close to blowing a gasket. Stiles tries to think back to anything he's done lately (aside from the whole Lydia thing, which he hasn't even so much as thought about with his father in the house) that could upset his father so much. Nothing really comes to mind, he's been surprisingly well-behaved of late (Scott says it's a guilty conscious, Stiles says that Scott can keep his opinions to himself).

 

"What," the sheriff walks over and waves his fist in Stiles' direction, "is this?" Stiles can see a sheet of paper clutched in the sheriff's hand. Confused, he looks from the – slightly mangled – paper to his father's face. He's not quite sure what the right answer is here.

 

"It's... a piece of paper?" He tries. The sheriff's eyes widen as his eyebrows draw down into an even more severe frown. "An important piece of paper?"

 

"This," the sheriff gestures with the hand holding the paper, "is the results of a paternity test, Stiles." Stiles' stomach immediately drops into his shoes and he stumbles back. His knees go weak and he tries to brace himself against the fridge behind him, misses, and hits the floor. The sheriff is immediately at his side, dropping the paper and grasping Stiles by the shoulders.

 

"Oh shit, are you alright?" He asks. Stiles just stares at him blankly as he waits for his brain to reboot. His mouth flaps uselessly for a minute until he manages to force some words out.

 

"I think I'm gonna need a minute," he croaks.

 

***

 

Stiles only really starts functioning properly again about an hour later. By then his father has calmed down a bit and installed Stiles on the living room couch with a water bottle and a paper bag. The water has been drunk and the bag ripped to shreds by the time Stiles is ready to start talking. The sheriff sits patiently next to him on the couch until he starts.

 

"It's mine then," he says, voice slightly hoarse.

 

"Yup," the sheriff says. "Time to tell me exactly what's going on. Past time, really." The sheriff is speaking calmly and he certainly looks calm, but Stiles can tell that he's probably still a bit angry.

 

"I, um, seem to have gotten Lydia Martin pregnant," Stiles says. The sheriff runs a hand over his face and sighs.

 

"Jesus Christ, Stiles, what were you thinking?"

 

"I didn't do it on purpose!" Stiles exclaims. His legs start jiggling, sending pieces of brown paper bag to the floor.

 

"I never said you did," the sheriff says. "I thought you were smarter than this, Stiles. I know you know about safe sex. Hell, with what you could find on the internet you probably know more about it than I do."

 

"It... was really unexpected," Stiles says. "It was just a first date. I didn't think things would go that far. She said she was on the pill anyway, that should've counted for something."

 

"Sometimes that fails," the sheriff says. "Either that or she was lying to you." Stiles shakes his head.

 

"No, Lydia's smarter than that," he says. "She wouldn't've risked herself like that just to get back at Jackson."

 

"Wait, wait," the sheriff says. "Get back at Jackson for what? Jackson Whittemore? What does he have to do with anything? If you were on a date with Lydia I'm guessing that means she wasn't with Jackson."

 

"It wasn't a real date," Stiles says. He feels a burning behind his eyes and he clenches his jaw. He's come to terms with what happened, but it still stings that he was used like that. His feelings for Lydia have always been genuine, and he's finding that this isn't something he's going to get over quickly.

 

"What do you mean?" The sheriff is frowning at him. "Why would you go through all that if it was just some sort of... revenge? I know how you feel about her." Stiles looks down at his lap and starts fidgeting with the shredded paper bag.

 

"I didn't know it wasn't a real date until after," Stiles says. "When she was already back with Jackson."

 

"Oh, kid," the sheriff sighs. Stiles swipes at his eyes and doesn't look up. "What are you gonna do now?"

 

"I dunno," Stiles says. "What am I supposed to do?"

 

"No idea," the sheriff says. "I guess we'll have to follow her lead on this one. What are you thinking?"

 

"I'm not thinking anything right now," Stiles says. "Except that I can't believe this is actually happening."

 

"You and me both, kid," the sheriff says. He scoots closer and slings an arm around Stiles' shoulders. Stiles takes the opportunity to cuddle into his dad's side like he hasn't in years and tries to not think too hard about anything.

 

***

 

Stiles texts Scott about the paternity test results as soon as his father lets him escape to his room. Scott makes it to the Stilinski house in record time, getting a drive with his mother. Mrs McCall and the sheriff linger in the kitchen while Scott bounds up to Stiles' room.

 

"Oh my god, dude!" Scott exclaims. Stiles, just a lump under the bedclothes from where Scott is standing, shoots up into a sitting position.

 

"I know!" He exclaims. Scott joins him on the bed and the two of them sit there in silence for a bit. Stiles can hear the low murmur of voices coming from the kitchen, but can't make out what's being said.

 

"So what's the plan now?" Scott asks.

 

"I don't even know, man," Stiles says. "We just found out. I think I'm still in shock."

 

"Did you talk to Lydia yet?" Scott asks.

 

"I haven't talked to her since our 'date'," Stiles says, doing air quotes with his fingers. "We've been avoiding each other."

 

"Did you talk to Jackson?" Scott asks.

 

"Not yet," Stiles says. "I'll get to him later. Or I'll just wait for him to talk to me first."

 

"Do you think he's sad it's not his kid?" Scotts asks. Stiles flops back down onto his back and talks to the ceiling.

 

"I have no idea," he says. "I think he already knew it wasn't his though. It's not like we really talked about it. I thought it would be his though. I don’t know what to do now." He really has no idea how to move forward from here. The whole time he'd been waiting to take the test, and then waiting to hear the results, he never really entertained the idea of the baby being his. He always figured that the baby would turn out to be Jackson's after all, and then he could put this whole mess behind him and move on with his life. He's not really sure how he's going to deal with the fact that he's going to be someone's father in a few months.

 

The whole thing sends him into a sudden panic attack and he has to listen to Scott count breaths for him before he can calm himself down.

 

***

 

Stiles calls Jackson that evening, after Scott and Melissa leave. The sheriff is in the room with him, obviously listening in, but this isn't the kind of conversation Stiles can have over text.

 

Jackson answers the phone just when Stiles thinks the call's about to be kicked to voicemail.

 

"Stilinski," Jackson greets.

 

"Whittemore," Stiles returns. He sees the sheriff rolls his eyes in his peripheral vision, but ignores him. He's having a crisis, he can posture if he wants to.

 

"Congratulations, I guess," Jackson says.

 

"I guess," Stiles says. "Sorry? I think. I really don't know how to react to this."

 

"Yeah, no. It's fine, I guess. Giving me a kid probably isn't a very good idea anyway."

 

"Can't be any worse than giving me one." Jackson snorts, so does the sheriff. "Did you talk to Lydia yet?"

 

"Yeah. I was over earlier. She's not taking it well. I think the only reason she even kept it is because she thought it was mine." That answers the question that Stiles often thinks to himself but never dares to ask. As far as he knows, Lydia isn't interested in children. Stiles always admired her intelligence and her ambition; that girl is going places. Although, now there's a baby in the mix, which surely throws a wrench in things.

 

"Ask him if he knows what her plans are," the sheriff says, from Stiles' desk chair.

 

"My dad wants to know if you know what Lydia's doing," Stiles says. "With the baby, I mean. In the long run."

 

"We didn't really talk about that," Jackson says. "I think she was maybe thinking about keeping it and us raising it together. It's why my dad wanted to get the paternity test done. He wasn't totally onboard with the idea."

 

"What's he saying?" The sheriff asks.

 

"Hold on, I'm gonna put you on speaker," Stiles says. "My dad wants to hear this too." Stiles pulls the phone away from his head and hits the speaker button. Jackson's talking when the phone switches over.

 

"-- his grandchild, really." The sheriff makes a choking sound and Stiles wants to laugh, but he can't make himself do it. "But that's only if Lydia actually keeps it."

 

"What's that mean?" Stiles asks. "She'd have to keep it at this point, wouldn't she? She's like..." - he does a quick mental count - "about six months pregnant now? Or something?"

 

"I meant adoption, Stilinski," Jackson says.

 

"Oh, yeah," Stiles says. It's a bit insane, and Stiles knows this, but that idea hurts him a bit. Right in his chest. He still hasn't really come to terms with the fact that there's a baby on the way, a baby that's half his, but the idea of giving that baby away never entered into his mind. For better or for worse, that baby is family, and Stiles really doesn't have enough of that to consider wanting to let it go.

 

"What if... What if I don't want that," Stiles says, speaking to Jackson but looking at his father. The sheriff has a hand over his mouth and is looking back at Stiles. There's silence on Jackson's end. The sheriff moves his hand and pins Stiles with a hard look.

 

"I want you to think about this, Stiles," he says gravely. "A baby is a big responsibility. Bigger than anything you've ever been involved with before."

 

"I know," Stiles says. "I'm not saying anything for sure now. Just putting the idea out there. I think I want a chance to raise my c-child." He stumbles over the last word and the sheriff huffs out a weak laugh. Jackson clears his throat over the phone.

 

"You want to raise the baby with Lydia?" He asks.

 

"No," Stiles says, surprising probably everyone in the conversation, including himself. "I'm still angry at Lydia right now. I think I probably will be for a while. I don't want to raise the baby with her. But... if she has to be there I can deal with that."

 

"I'll pass the message along," Jackson says. "See what she says." Stiles is about to thank him when the line goes dead. Stiles lets his arm drop and the phone slips out of his limp fingers and onto the bed beside him. The sheriff is studying him silently.

 

"I'm getting a headache," Stiles says. The sheriff nods.

 

***

 

Stiles slowly pushes his father's bedroom door open later that night. Or, more accurately, very early the next morning. He's trying to be quiet, but the house is old and the door squeaks. There's a rustling noise coming from the bed, but Stiles can barely see anything in the darkness.

 

"Stiles?" The sheriff asks. He doesn't sound the least bit sleepy. It's possible he's slept about as much as Stiles has tonight. Which is not at all.

 

"Yeah, it's me," Stiles says. He picks his way across the room and narrowly avoids stubbing his toe on the nightstand before climbing into his father's bed. It's been a while, years really, since Stiles has crawled into bed with his parents. The last time was probably before his mother got really sick. The sheriff lifts the covers for Stiles and Stiles curls up into his father's side.

 

"What's on your mind?" The sheriff asks. "Did you even go to sleep yet?"

 

"I was up Googling about babies," Stiles says.

 

"Oh boy," the sheriff says.

 

"They're very expensive," Stiles says. "Like, insanely expensive. And they're a lot of work. I've read mommy blogs."

 

"Mommy whats?" The sheriff asks.

 

"I know you know what a blog is," Stiles says.

 

"Mommy blogs," the sheriff repeats to himself.

 

"They're a thing," Stiles assures him. "Anyway, I've been reading a lot of them. And they give off the impression that babies are a lot of work. So much work."

 

"I could've told you that," the sheriff says. "Does this mean you changed your mind?"

 

"Not even a little," Stiles says. "Honestly, I'm a bit excited. Which probably makes me insane."

 

"No less insane than any other new parents," the sheriff says with a chuckle. He sobers up almost immediately. "I'm not gonna sugarcoat it for you, son. You're gonna have it more difficult than most. You're a teenager and still in school. I'll help and support you as much as I can, but all of the real responsibility will be on you and Lydia."

 

"I know, Dad," Stiles says. "But I wanna do this."

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles hasn't actually spoken to Lydia face-to-face since their one 'date'. Then the sheriff schedules a meeting with Lydia and her mother.

 

***

 

It's not that Stiles had never noticed Lydia's pregnancy. It's more that, back when there was still a chance that it wasn't his baby, he had the luxury of ignoring the whole thing. He'd seen Lydia around school, sure, and he'd definitely noticed her getting more pregnant as time went on, but he'd never really made it any of his business.

 

Things are very different in the days after he learns that it is, in fact, his business. It doesn't change the way he thinks about Lydia, or the way he interacts with her, but it does change his thought patterns. The baby still hasn't been born yet, and Stiles still has no idea what's going to happen with it when it is born, but he almost feels as if he's become a father overnight.

 

He hadn't been lying to his father the night he found out; he is a little bit excited about the prospect of having this tiny person – a person he'd helped make – around to take care of and teach things and watch grow.

 

He's also terrified because he knows very little about babies other than that they are crazy expensive and barely sleep. Stiles had always thought that his biggest immediate future money worries would be about paying for college and to keep his Jeep running. Now he's not entirely sure if college is even an option anymore. Being at loose ends like this is making him more than a bit anxious.

 

"I really need to find a job that's not porn," Stiles says.

 

"You really need to calm down," Scott says. Stiles leg, which has been jiggling at high speed, bumps against the cafeteria table and Scott has to hold his water bottle to keep it from tipping over into his sandwich.

 

"I'll calm down when I get a job," Stiles says. "Do you think Deaton needs another assistant?"

 

"Dude, Deaton doesn't even like you," Scott says.

 

"That's true," Stiles says. To be fair, Stiles isn't all that fond of Deaton, Scott's slightly creepy boss at the animal clinic, either. "I still need ideas."

 

"You could try writing papers for people again," Scott says. "It worked out in middle school."

 

"If by 'worked out' you mean that I ended up getting caught out by the school and my dad, then, yeah, Scott, it definitely worked out," Stiles says.

 

"You did make decent money before your dad shut it down though," Scott points out, talking through a mouthful of bread and cheese.

 

"Don't talk with your mouth full, Scotty," Stiles says, wrinkling his nose. "And decent money by a 12-year-old's standards isn't anywhere near what it would cost to keep a baby alive indefinitely. Do you know how much a pack of diapers costs?"

 

"No," Scott says.

 

"A lot," Stiles says. "Especially when you have to buy them over and over again."

 

"Fair enough," Scott says. "But I'm sure your dad can help you out."

 

"A bit, probably," Stiles says. "But he even said that most of the responsibility will be on me; and he's right. It's my kid after all. Also I'm pretty sure he's still paying off medical bills from when my mom was sick. There isn't a lot of extra money just lying around."

 

"That sucks dude," Scott says. "Hey, Lydia's family is rich though. Maybe she can pay for most of it." Stiles' gaze instinctively finds Lydia where she's eating lunch with Jackson and the lacrosse team on the other side of the cafeteria. With the table hiding her belly, she looks almost normal, if a bit fuller in the face and chest areas. She doesn't look at Stiles, and he looks back to Scott.

 

"I'll always admire your optimism, Scott," he says.

 

"Thanks, I think," Scott says.

 

***

 

About a week after the paternity test results came in, Stiles is on his laptop playing World of Warcraft (instead of the homework he should be doing). He hears the front door opening and closing downstairs, signaling the return of his father.

 

The sheriff peeks his head into Stiles' bedroom on his way to his own room to undress and store his service weapon.

 

"We're meeting with Lydia and her mother tomorrow," he says. "Make sure you come straight home after school." He doesn't stick around to hear Stiles' answer. Stiles quietly starts panicking and turns back to his game.

 

***

 

Scott, as per the sheriff's demands, is not allowed anywhere near the Stilinski home while the meeting is in progress. Stiles drops him off at the McCall home, where Melissa McCall is waiting for them (Stiles is never sure whether it's great that his father is friends with his best friend's mother, or if it's a curse). Stiles doesn't really have time for pleasantries, so Scott just exits the Jeep and Stiles immediately backs out of the driveway and heads home.

 

He's not even surprised that he's the last to arrive at the meeting, though he hopes he's not excessively late.

 

His dad, Lydia, and Mrs Martin are all sitting around the kitchen table when Stiles walks in. They all look up at the same time as soon as he's in the room and he has to fight down the urge to panic.

 

"Stiles," the sheriff says, "have a seat." Stiles shuffles over to the table and takes a seat next to his father on one side of the table; Lydia and Mrs Martin are sitting side-by-side across from them. Stiles has never officially met Natalie Martin before, but he's always known of her (Beacon Hills is a small town), and he's definitely never been scared of her before today. He tries to keep telling himself that he has no reason to be afraid because he did nothing wrong. It's barely working.

 

"Okay," the sheriff starts. "We all know why we're here today. So let's just get to it." Lydia looks the sheriff square in the eye, her mouth set in a determined line.

 

"I'm not raising this baby," she says. This doesn't surprise Stiles at all, but it still makes a weird feeling bloom in his chest. This situation is one giant clusterfuck, starting with that stupid date that Stiles really should have known better than to go on. The fallout from that hurt quite a bit, and the fact that Lydia really does want nothing to do with any part of him just drags the hurt on. Stiles briefly wonders what would've happened had the baby actually been Jackson's, or if Lydia returned Stiles' feelings. But that’s not reality and Stiles can't dwell on those scenarios, he has to deal with what's right in front of him.

 

"That's fine," the sheriff says. "No one's going to make you raise it." Mrs. Martin levels a glare at the sheriff and Stiles has the thought that, if it were up to her, Lydia would be raising this baby. Suddenly the question of why Lydia just didn't get an abortion becomes a lot more complicated, and possibly not entirely dependent on the Jackson factor.

 

"We were thinking of putting it up for adoption," Mrs Martin says, breaking into Stiles' thoughts. "Find a nice family to care for it and then Stiles and Lydia can get on with their lives." Stiles and his dad share a brief look.

 

"Not a bad plan," the sheriff says. "But I've spoken with Stiles, and he's let me know that that isn't something he'd be comfortable with."

 

"I am not going to put my plans on hold because he wants to cling to a weird happy family fantasy with me," Lydia spits, glaring at Stiles, who flinches back in his chair. Mrs Martin places a calming hand on Lydia's arm and frowns at both Stiles and the sheriff. Stiles wants to speak up, say something, but there's a lump in his throat that prevents him from making any sort of noise. It's also making it a bit hard to breathe.

 

"We don't want you to put any plans on hold," the sheriff says, seeming to stop just short of placating hand gestures (which is probably for the best considering the intensity of Mrs Martin's glare). "If Lydia doesn't want to be a mother right now that's fine, we won't force her."

 

"But Stiles doesn't want an adoption," Mrs Martin says. "So we're at a bit of an impasse here."

 

"Not necessarily," the sheriff says. "Stiles wants the baby. As the baby's father he has that right."

 

"He doesn't have the right to force Lydia into something she doesn't want to be a part of," Mrs Martin says.

 

"No he does not," the sheriff says. "That's not what he's trying to do. Give him sole custody after the baby is born and Lydia won't have to be a part of anything after that. If Lydia changes her mind later I'm sure they can work something out. Right now he's not asking for anything other than the right to raise his child."

 

"And how is Lydia supposed to move on with life and put all this behind her if she has a constant reminder living in the same town?" Mrs Martin asks. "Beacon Hills isn't nearly so big."

 

"Well, Natalie," the sheriff says. "Sometimes there are things that happen in life that can't be put behind us. Part of being an adult is living with the consequences of our actions and realizing that we can't control everything. Stiles and Lydia aren't adults, and this isn't an ideal situation for either of them, but they both made an adult decision and they have to live with the consequences."

 

"And what if I don't want to give Stiles the baby?" Lydia asks. "What if I just put it up for adoption without telling him?" Something in Stiles' chest goes cold at the thought. He'd like to say that Lydia would never actually do something like that, but he now knows firsthand just how cold and manipulative Lydia can be. He's not sure he'd put much past her these days.

 

"That would be a violation of his parental rights," the sheriff says coldly. "At this point it's too late to keep him out of things. And once the baby's been born Stiles has to be included in further decision making, especially because we have proof that he is the biological father and he knows that he is the biological father. If you try to adopt out that baby behind Stiles' back he can fight it."

 

"I'm not raising it with him," Lydia says. "I want no part of whatever idea he's got in mind."

 

"I don't want to raise a baby with you," Stiles says. A sudden burst of courage and frustration has him gripping the table with white knuckles as he stares directly at Lydia. Lydia looks shocked, but only for a few seconds. She quickly channels her features into the disinterested look that Stiles is used to getting from her. "If I have to raise it on my own, that's fine. I don't want your help."

 

"This is ridiculous," Mrs Martin scoffs. "There's nothing wrong with adoption. Look at Jackson, the Whittemores have been able to give him an amazing life. Far more than what you'd have to offer a child."

 

"Yeah, and they still didn't manage to teach him to not be a complete asshat," Stiles says. "Speaking of Jackson, I'd bet good money that all this wouldn't be an issue if the baby were his."

 

"Well, it's not his," Lydia says. Stiles can see her eyes mist a bit, can tell she's holding back tears. One part of him, the part of him that fell in love with Lydia at eight years old and will probably always love her, feels a bit sorry for her. The other part of him, the part still hurt at how Lydia used him and broke his heart, wants to lash out and cause more pain. He holds himself back, because that would only make things worse. The sheriff clears his throat and draws everyone's attention back to him.

 

"Look," he says. "I wanted everyone here together to figure out what we're all doing going forward. If Lydia's determined that she doesn't want anything to do with this baby, that's her right and I'm not going to try to change her mind. Stiles is willing to keep the baby and raise it on his own, and I've never been able to change his mind about anything."

 

"You really think it's a good idea leaving a baby in his care?" Mrs Martin asks.

 

"I think that Stiles can be responsible and dependable when he has to be, and I have faith in him on this," the sheriff says. "I also think that I'll be here to help if he needs me, and I'll be the first person to step in if I think the baby isn't being cared for like it should."

 

***

 

Later in the evening, long after Lydia and her mother have left, Stiles finds himself slouched on the living room couch staring blankly at the TV. He can hear his father puttering around in the kitchen, it's soothing.

 

There's a text from Scott on his phone wondering how the meeting went. Stiles can't really bring himself to answer it yet. He feels as if he's shut down for the night. All he can make himself do is stare at the TV. The only reason he isn't up in his room staring at his laptop is because he can't make himself get up the stairs.

 

The sheriff suddenly walks into Stiles' line of sight, right in front of the TV. Stiles barely reacts. "Are you okay there, kid?"

 

"I can't feel my brain," Stiles says. The sheriff shakes his head and sits down next to Stiles on the couch.

 

"I think that went well," he says. "Earlier."

 

"I suppose it could've gone worse," Stiles agrees.

 

"Talk to me," the sheriff says. "How are you feeling about this?"

 

"I dunno. Numb?" Stiles answers. "It's still sinking in. I don't think any of it ever felt real until now."

 

"I'm sure that'll pass," the sheriff says.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "I need to get a job now though. My college fund won't last forever."

 

"Stiles." The sheriff frowns at him. "Your college fund is for college."

 

"The thought of college stresses me out right now, to be honest," Stiles says. "Trying to survive high school without a baby is hard enough, it's gonna be even harder with one."

 

"So you're just going to throw your future away without even trying? Just like that?"

 

"No, I'm saying that my future doesn't include college. At least, maybe not my immediate future. C'mon, Dad, you didn't go to college and you managed just fine."

 

"Yes, I'm doing fine, but I could be doing better. And, as a parent, I want for my son to have better chances than what I had so that he can have a better life. I wanted to work in law enforcement, and I know I'm good at what I do. But, Stiles, you're so much smarter in ways that I never was, you have so many more options than I ever did."

 

"I think... I'll only be able to put enough energy and focus into a few things and be able to do them properly. Finishing high school and keeping a baby alive are more important to me right now than worrying about college."

 

"High school, a baby, and a job." Stiles nods absently.

 

"I think I'm just gonna spend tonight freaking out and I'll get myself in gear tomorrow."

 

***

***

 

Chapter Text

Stiles isn't allowed to be there for the birth. He actually considers himself lucky that Lydia doesn't make him wait until she's out of the hospital before he's allowed to go see the baby.

 

***

 

True to his word, Stiles throws himself into preparations the day after the meeting with the Martins.

 

He goes to school and does all his work, but spends all his free time researching infant and child care. He hunts around for a place that will hire inexperienced teenagers at a decent rate and a reasonable schedule, before his father finally intervenes and hires him to do odd jobs at the station (sure, the salary isn't exactly 'decent', but he can get away with doing homework during his downtime without worrying about getting fired).

 

Stiles enlists Scott to help him clean out the guest room in preparation to turn it into a nursery. Scott also helps him scour Pinterest for theme ideas, but they eventually scrap that because Stiles is neither especially artsy nor made of money.

 

"There's nothing wrong with Wal-Mart," the sheriff says, one night over dinner. "Do you think your mother and I went crazy and bought all your baby stuff at Pottery Barn or something?"

 

"Why would you decorate a baby's room with pottery?" Scott asks. "That seems really unsafe."

 

"Eat your food, Scott," Stiles says. Scott kicks him under the table, Stiles kicks him back, the sheriff starts ignoring them.

 

***

 

School is almost over for the summer by this point. Stiles and Lydia don't interact with each other at all if they can help it. It's pretty much all over school now that Lydia is pregnant with Stiles' baby, and it's still the hottest gossip topic when the school year ends.

 

Stiles has never before had so many people come up and talk to him and ask him about his summer plans. He knows that they're all doing it in a weak attempt to get more details to fuel more rumours, especially since Lydia isn't giving anything away, but it still weirds him out. He hopes this will all be old news by the time September rolls back around.

 

The only person outside of Stiles' usual circle who genuinely seems interested in Stiles' current goings-on is Jackson, who approaches Stiles just as he's leaving school on the last day of term.

 

"Stilinski!" Stiles had been about to get into his Jeep, but he turns at the sound of his name. Jackson and Danny are walking across the parking lot towards him. Lydia is nowhere to be seen. Stiles blinks in confusion. Stiles and Jackson will never be friends, but this whole situation has had an unexpected outcome in that Stiles and Jackson seem to no longer be at odds with each other on a regular basis. Actually, they've been downright civil to each other as of late. Stiles can't even remember the last time Jackson made snide remarks about him just loud enough for him to hear, or shoved him in the hallway, or any of the other things Jackson did on a regular basis to make Stiles' schooldays miserable.

 

It's the weirdest things that bring peace, Stiles guesses.

 

"You called?" Stiles asks. Scott is already sitting in the passenger side of the Jeep, and he looks like he's prepared to jump out and stand between Jackson and Stiles if he has to. Jackson eyes him as he moves to the other side of the Jeep, where Stiles is standing. Stiles startles as Jackson suddenly thrusts a hand out in front of him. Stiles looks from Jackson's hand to his face, looking for the trick, he cautiously shakes Jackson's hand and Jackson rolls his eyes.

 

"I just wanted to tell you good luck," Jackson says. He lets go of Stiles' hand and shoves his own in his pockets. "Lydia says that she hasn't changed her mind about not wanting anything to do with the baby."

 

"Thanks?" Stiles says. "Also I feel like I should be wishing you luck. You're the one who's gonna have to deal with Lydia the whole time." Jackson shrugs.

 

"It's not all bad," he says. "Or, it wasn't totally bad back when she thought the kid was mine." Stiles has a sudden flash of an image of Lydia pulling one of Jackson's hands to the swell of her belly to feel the baby kick. He has to tamp down on a sudden surge of jealousy and anger and sadness. He has no idea if that's something that's actually happened, and he doesn't really want to know. He'll never know what went on with his child before it was born, but he does know he's ridiculously lucky that he's going to get to know his child all he wants once it is born. Something must show on his face because Jackson frowns at him and looks away.

 

"So," Stiles clears his throat awkwardly. "Everything's all good, then? On the baby front?"

 

"Yeah," Jackson says. "I think so. Lydia doesn't really tell me much more than she tells you."

 

"Lydia doesn't tell me anything," Stiles says. "You know, she probably would never have told me that baby was actually mine if you didn't tell me to take a DNA test." Jackson's mouth does something that looks like it's supposed to be a smile.

 

"Anyway," he says, after a bit of an awkward pause. "I have to get out of here. Just... good luck, Stilinski."

 

"You too," Stiles says. Jackson nods and then spins on his heel and walks away. Danny follows after him with one last wave to Stiles and Scott. The boys watch them go.

 

"That was weird, right?" Scott asks. "I'm not the only one who thinks that was weird?"

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. But he thinks that really wasn't all that weird at all.

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't see much of Jackson or Lydia or Scott or anyone, really, once school lets out. His time is completely taken up by working at the station and preparing for the baby's arrival. The baby's due to arrive during the summer, so Stiles is scrambling to get everything ready in time.

 

The sheriff and Mrs McCall both take turns answering Stiles' questions, giving advice, and generally keeping him from completely losing his mind. Scott helps as best he can with things, but he's really more out of his depth than Stiles is.

 

The nursery is starting to take shape, and Stiles does end up filling it with second-hand furniture and other odds and ends from Wal-Mart. Though Scott and Mrs McCall do gift Stiles a Batman backpack, to use as a diaper bag, from Pottery Barn (which makes Stiles laugh every time he looks at it).

 

After one disastrous attempt at putting together baby furniture, Stiles and Scott are mostly relegated to decorating and stocking. Stiles has a bit of a melt-down while buying baby clothes; first at the prices and then at the actual size of the clothes, which also has him temporarily banned from clothing duty and stuck with decorating.

 

By mid-July the sheriff declares that everything is as ready as it's going to be. But Stiles is still fussing with things and scouring the internet for child care tips right up until The Call comes in.

 

***

 

In most media Stiles has seen, babies tend to come at ridiculous times in the early morning or late night. His baby comes at three in the afternoon on July 19th, an otherwise uneventful Tuesday.

 

Stiles hasn't heard anything from Lydia since their meeting so he's surprised, and very much apprehensive, when her name shows up in his caller ID. She's calling him, not texting him. He's in one of the supply closets at the station, organizing some office supplies, so no one sees him when he nearly flails himself off his stepladder in shock.

 

"Hello?" He asks when he answers the call.

 

"Stilinski." Stiles pulls the phone away from his ear to check the caller ID again. He's definitely getting a call from Lydia's phone, but the voice speaking belongs to Jackson. He puts the phone back to his ear.

 

"Hi, Jackson," Stiles says. "Fancy hearing from you on Lydia's phone."

 

"I deleted your number off mine," Jackson says. "Listen, we're at the hospital."

 

"I- what?! Is everything okay? Is the baby okay?" Stiles may panic a bit, and he does fall off the stepladder this time.

 

"Everything's fine," Jackson says. "The baby's here. We need you to come get him."

 

"Already?!" Stiles exclaims. "I don't- How- Wait, 'him'?"

 

"Yeah," Jackson says. "It's a boy. Doesn't actually look much like Lydia, except for maybe the hair."

 

"You saw him?" Stiles asks. Jackson hums.

 

"Lydia didn't want to," he says. "They're moving her to a different ward, away from the babies. I just came down to make sure he was alright... or something. I dunno. He definitely isn't mine, though. Looks too much like you."

 

"I'm sorry," Stiles says suddenly. He's not entirely sure where that came from, or maybe he is. Stiles doesn't know all of Jackson's feelings about this whole situation, and he probably never will. But he does know that, for a little while, Jackson probably thought that the baby was his. Stiles doesn't want to think about what it would feel like to think he'd have a child and then have it basically taken away from him.

 

"Whatever, it doesn't matter," Jackson says. "McCall's mother is here. She'll wait for you until you get here." Jackson ends the call abruptly and Stiles is left listening to empty air. He takes a few seconds to compose himself before he goes tearing out of the closet.

 

"Dad! DAD!"

 

***

 

The sheriff ends up driving Stiles over to the hospital in his cruiser because Stiles is much too worked up to drive anything anywhere.

 

Stiles doesn't remember the drive, or how he gets from Beacon Hills Memorial's front doors to the maternity ward. Basically everything is a blur until he's led into a private room and finally lays eyes on his baby – his son! - for the first time.

 

His eyes are tearing up and he's shaking a bit, so the sheriff pushes him down on the room's lone bed before the maternity ward nurse (not Mrs McCall, who had to go back down to her shift after meeting Stiles and giving him a tight hug) will let the baby near him.

 

Once Stiles is settled the nurse comes over and puts the baby in his arms. Stiles is awestruck when he looks down at the baby. He falls in love so hard and so fast he can almost hear the 'thud'. The baby is asleep, tiny eyes shut with surprisingly long eyelashes resting on flushed cheeks. His skin is pale, like Stiles', and there's even a tiny mole above his left eye and a slight upturn to his nose. He's wrapped up in a receiving blanket with a blue knit hat on his head. There's a tiny tuft of reddish hair peeking out from under the cap; Stiles wants to pet it.

 

His hold on the baby is stiff and unpracticed, and the baby can obviously tell because his tiny face screws up in distaste after a little bit. Stiles stiffens even more when the baby starts to wriggle.

 

"Dad!" He chokes out. "He's moving!" He knows that there's something he should be doing right now, a way to relax himself so as not to upset the baby. Everything he's crammed into his brain over the last few months seems to have disappeared.

 

"Yeah, they do that," the sheriff, leaning against the bedrail, chuckles. "You need to calm down, he can sense your fear. Babies are like dogs that way." He shares a look with the nurse above Stiles' head, and Stiles frowns at both of them.

 

The baby's eyes are open when Stiles looks back down. They seem to focus on him for a second and his breath catches.

 

"Hi," he whispers. The baby grunts and his gaze becomes unfocused again as it trails away from Stiles' face.

 

***

 

The hospital wants the baby to stay overnight, as procedure.

 

Stiles spends the rest of the afternoon and early evening with the baby. The sheriff has to go back to work eventually, but a nurse sticks by Stiles at all times. Stiles gets a practical crash course in baby care as the nurse has him washing, changing, feeding, burping, and basically everything else under her watchful eye. Aside from a mishap where he accidentally sends a bottle of baby powder flying across the room, Stiles feels like he does pretty good.

 

Mrs McCall pops in for a visit before she goes home at the end of her shift. She has Scott with her and they both coo over the baby a bit.

 

"What're you gonna name him?" Scott asks. He and Stiles are sitting side-by-side on the bed and Scott is holding the baby. Stiles' hands are hovering nervously, afraid that Scott will hold the baby wrong, but he's doing alright so far.

 

"I haven't decided yet," Stiles says. "I literally just found out it was a boy when Jackson called me."

 

"You didn't think of any options earlier?" Mrs McCall asks, one eyebrow arched.

 

"I completely forgot about it," Stiles says sheepishly. "It kinda slipped my mind while I was researching about baby formula and car seats and things."

 

"You would," Scott says.

 

"No need to rush," Mrs McCall says. "You have time to decide on one you really think fits."

 

"The nurse said that it's better to have a name before I take him home," Stiles says. "That way I can get most of the paperwork done here."

 

"It is easier to get all the paperwork over and done with before you leave the hospital," Mrs McCall says. "But don't let that rush you into decisions if you need more time to think on them."

 

"I'll see what my dad says tonight," Stiles says.

 

"It sucks that they're not letting you take the baby home tonight," Scott says. The baby starts to fuss and Scott is quick to hand him over into Stiles' waiting arms. Stiles cuddles the baby against his chest and rocks slightly to settle him down.

 

"Yeah," he says. "But it's just one night, so it's not too bad."

 

"Did you see Lydia at all since you've been here?" Mrs McCall asks. "I saw Jackson near the nursery earlier, but I didn't see her." Stiles starts fidgeting with the baby's knit cap. He doesn't look up at Mrs McCall.

 

"Jackson told me she didn't want to see him," he says. "I don’t think she wants to see me either. To be honest, I don’t really want to see her. I think Jackson would've told me if something was wrong, though."

 

"It's like you and Jackson are almost friends now," Scott says. "It's weird." Stiles nods in agreement; although he's pretty sure that he and Jackson will probably never really talk again after all this. Might improve the bullying situation somewhat.

 

Mrs McCall and Scott leave after a bit, and Stiles has another hour alone with the baby until the sheriff arrives to take him home. Stiles tears up when he has to hand the baby over to the night nurse, and then he cries all the way home.

 

***

***

 

Chapter Text

Stiles names the baby Noah Claude (after his mother, Claudia Norah), and brings him home from the hospital the day after he's born.

 

***

 

Stiles was under no illusion that taking care of a newborn full-time would be easy, but he wasn't expecting it to be this difficult.

 

Noah's contentedness and general calmness back at the hospital had clearly been designed to lull Stiles into a false sense of security. Once he's home (and Stiles may or may not have teared up a bit when he laid Noah in his little bassinet for the first time) Noah apparently decides that it's time to drop the charade and seems to suddenly forget how sleeping works.

 

Stiles barely sleeps Noah's first week home. He tries to sleep when the baby does, but Noah only sleeps a few hours at a time and there is still stuff to get done while he's asleep that means that Stiles needs to be awake. And even when he doesn't have anything pressing to do, he'll sometimes just sit there and watch the rise and fall of Noah's tiny chest as he sleeps. It's mesmerizing.

 

***

 

Taking care of Noah leaves very little time for Stiles to do other things. Things like working, playing video games, or hanging out with Scott.

 

Scott shows up at the house every now and then, but he never ends up staying for long. Stiles doesn't really blame him, he isn't very good company these days, and Noah stops being cute to the average bystander when he's wailing for a change or a feeding.

 

***

 

Stiles spends all his time with Noah, taking care of him and trying to establish routines that won't fall apart with schedule changes. He's forever thankful for his father's help with grocery and baby supply runs, and for restraining himself from commenting after Stiles hasn't showered in days and probably smells like death (only taking the baby and pushing Stiles in the direction of the bathroom). The sheriff helps when he can, but he has a full-time job and has always been adamant that Noah is Stiles' complete responsibility.

 

Noah himself doesn't do much aside from eat, sleep, and go through diapers like crazy (Stiles had panicked a bit about that until Mrs McCall assured him that that was normal), but he somehow manages to be the most fascinating part of Stiles' life right now. Sometimes Stiles just sits with Noah in his arms and marvels at this tiny person that he'd helped create and that he now gets to see grow up and become a person. This time last year, Stiles had never really given much thought to children and if he'd like to have any (beyond vague ideal-future-with-Lydia daydreams), but he now has one and he's excited about it.

 

There are other times where he looks at Noah and takes in the parts of him that he got from Lydia (most notably his red hair) and he wonders how he's going to handle that part of Noah's life. How is he going to explain it to his son when he asks (and he's Stiles' child, of course he's going to ask a million questions about everything) why he doesn't have a mother? Stiles knows what it's like to grow up without a mother, but then, he'd had his mother for ten whole years before he lost her. And she hadn't left him by choice.

 

Stiles watches Noah change in real time, each and every new thing he does is exciting (except for the diaper blow-outs, those are just horrifying) and he wonders if Lydia knows what she's missing.

 

***

 

"Do you think Lydia feels like she's missing out?" Stiles asks. "Or if she even thinks about him at all?" He's sitting on the living room couch one evening, channel surfing. His father is sitting next to him, holding the baby for some grandpa-grandson bonding time. Stiles is fresh from the shower and feeling the cleanest he has all week.

 

"It's hard to say," the sheriff says. He's running a thumb over one of Noah's hands, which is slack with sleep. The sheriff is about as enamored with the baby as Stiles is. "She didn't want to raise a baby, so she might be more concerned with getting her life back on track. On that end, she might not have any regrets at all."

 

She didn't want to raise my baby. Stiles thinks but doesn't say. He really can't conceive of Lydia seeing Noah and not immediately falling in love with him. Stiles tips himself over and cuddles into the sheriff's side.

 

"What," he pauses and licks his lips. "What do I tell him? When he's older and he asks about her?"

 

"I dunno, kid," the sheriff says on a sigh. "That's something you'll have to decide for yourself, see what's going on when the time comes. Luckily, though, you have at least a few years left before it becomes an issue."

 

***

 

Noah is almost a month old when the sheriff reminds Stiles that real life is still a thing and school starts soon.

 

"Can't I just, I dunno, homeschool myself?" Stiles whines.

 

"No," the sheriff says. "You can go to school just like thousands of other teen parents."

 

"But I'll miss him," Stiles says. He's sitting in his desk chair with Noah cradled against his chest (skin-to-skin today because it is beneficial, and also it's too warm for clothes) and frowning at the sheriff, who is standing in the open bedroom doorway. The sheriff huffs out a small laugh and walks over to Stiles and drops a hand on his shoulder.

 

"I know, Stiles," he says. "I remember when you were a baby. I didn't have the option to stay home with you, like you got to with Noah, and I missed you like crazy when I was at work."

 

"Then you know how much it sucks," Stiles says.

 

"Yes. And I also know how much you can't change it. You have to go to school, there's nothing else for it."

 

"Doesn't mean I have to like it."

 

"I don’t expect you to, but at least you'll have Noah in the same building." Stiles nods at that. The daycare center at Beacon Hills High is one of those things people only acknowledge when they have need of it (or, in the case of certain groups, when they want to complain about it). It's tucked into the back of the building, out of the way where there's less traffic. It's a space primarily for the children of teachers and students, though there are spots available to the public for a fee. Stiles actually hadn't even known about it until he'd started looking for childcare options for Noah.

 

"I think they'll let me visit during lunch," he says.

 

"There you go," the sheriff says. "It won't be so bad once you get used to it."

 

***

***

 

Chapter Text

After the major life-changing event that is Noah, Stiles tries to hammer his life into a new routine that'll generally make things easy on himself. He gets about six months of peace before everything gets turned upside down again.

 

***

 

If Stiles had thought that taking care of Noah was time-consuming and exhausting when he had no other obligations, it's nothing compared to taking care of Noah while attending school and generally attempting to have something resembling a life.

 

Two weeks into the new school year Stiles decides that having a life is overrated and focuses all his attention on keeping Noah alive and not failing his classes, with the added burden of working at the sheriff station evenings and weekends (as long as childcare is available).

 

He had thought that his lack of free time would mean that he and Scott wouldn't be seeing much of each other, but at some point Scott manages to get over his aversion to Noah and he starts hanging around the Stilinski house again. He gets to have front row seats to both Noah's growth and Stiles' slow decent into exhaustion-fueled insanity.

 

***

 

"Scott," Stiles says, one sunny morning in second period. "Can you turn around and see if Jackson really is staring at me?" Stiles would do it himself, but he knows that Scott's puppy-like demeanor makes him generally less threatening and annoying than Stiles. It's easier for him to get away with being unsubtle in situations that would benefit with subtlety.

 

Scott twists around to look behind him, to where Jackson is sitting a few rows back.

 

"He's definitely staring at you, dude," he reports. "Did you do something to him?"

 

"Not lately," Stiles says. Then makes a face. "Well. I haven't actually talked to him since the day Noah was born." It's late October now, so that means that Stiles hasn't had much interaction with Jackson in about three months. That's not normal for them; usually Jackson and Stiles would've had some sort of conflict by now, at the very least. Stiles has to admit to himself that he's grateful for that. It's been hard enough dealing with everything without Jackson being a dick on top of it all so he'd never questioned it.

 

Unless that was all Jackson trying to lull him into a false sense of security.

 

"You think he's still mad about that?" Scott asks, turning back to Stiles.

 

"No idea," Stiles says.

 

The teacher eventually notices that neither of them are paying attention so they're both forced to turn back to their work.

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't see Lydia around school much.

 

This doesn't really surprise him.

 

He and Lydia had never really travelled in the same social circles before, so any time Stiles did see her it was either in a class they both shared or in a crowded space where Stiles was deliberately looking for her. They don’t share many classes these days (Lydia is in advanced classes for the most part, Stiles didn't bother to sign up for them once he knew he'd be keeping Noah), and Stiles doesn't look for her anymore in the halls or anywhere else the student population gathers (he doesn't see her in the cafeteria because he spends his lunch hour in the daycare with Noah).

 

The current lack of Lydia in his life suits him fine. He's not sure how to act around her anymore anyway.

 

He's even less sure how to act around Jackson, whose normal behaviour has also changed where Stiles is concerned.

 

He decides to just ignore them both.

 

***

 

Scott brings up trying out for the lacrosse team a few days after Christmas.

 

"Can you even do that?" Stiles asks. "I've seen you get winded running down a hallway."

 

"My doctor cleared me," Scott says. "And my mom said that it would be okay for me to try it and see."

 

"And they're sure it's not just gonna be a repeat of last year?" Stiles asks. Scott shrugs with a small grin.

 

"I guess we'll find out," he says.

 

The two of them are spending the afternoon in Stiles' bedroom, ignoring their winter break homework. Scott is stretched out on the floor, on top of some open textbooks, and mashing buttons on the Xbox controller he's holding. Stiles is sat on his bed with an Xbox controller in his hands and Noah on his lap. Noah's big enough now that he no longer sits calmly in Stiles' lap while Stiles games, instead he's more interested in pressing all the buttons on the controller. Stiles is torn between finding it incredibly cute and incredibly annoying (while also crying a bit inside - in a perfectly manly fashion - that his little baby is growing quickly before his very eyes).

 

"I'll be sure to go visit you in the hospital, Scotty," Stiles says. Noah squeals loudly and slaps at Stiles' controller, pausing the game.

 

"It wasn't that bad," Scott grumbles. Stiles hands Noah a rattle to distract him and un-pauses the game. Unimpressed, Noah throws the rattle to the floor and starts fussing.

 

"It was pretty bad," Stiles says. He drops his controller next to him on the bed and cuddles Noah against his shoulder. "It's okay, Tiny Pants, Scott will probably survive this foolishness."

 

"You're a terrible person," Scott says.

 

"I know," Stiles says, grinning.

 

***

 

Stiles has no idea why Scott would want to be on the lacrosse team with all the assholes (not including Danny) he'd have to put up with. He tries to not be too much of a cynic when Scott talks about it.

 

"You should try out with me," Scott says. It's the last day of winter break, Stiles and Scott are mourning their return to school the next day by moping around the Stilinski house. Or they had been doing that until the sheriff kicked them out, tired of looking at their sad faces.

 

The weather is fairly nice so Stiles loads Noah up in his stroller and they all head out for a walk.

 

"No thank you," Stiles says. "Organized sports and I have an understanding: they won't hurt me if I don't try."

 

"It could be fun," Scott says.

 

"Not likely," Stiles says. "I'm not a fan of spending any more time around those jerks than I have to. I don't even know why you want to."

 

"I'm just trying to fit in. Be normal," Scott says. "I think it'd be nice to be able to get a chance to hang out with more people. You've seen sports movies, everyone becomes friends on teams. And it might even help me get a girlfriend."

 

"Scotty, I've never been normal in my life. Ever," Stiles says. "And now that Noah's here, that ship has well and truly sailed. Besides, I won't have time for lacrosse with everything else I've got going on."

 

"Sucks, dude," Scott says. "Will you come watch me though?"

 

"I'll even make a sign," Stiles says.

 

***

 

Letting Noah have an unscheduled nap during their walk that afternoon is turning out to have been a bad idea.

 

It's getting late, Stiles has school in the morning, and Noah has declared himself completely over sleep. Stiles is sprawled across his bed, letting Noah crawl all over him, and very thankful that his father isn't here right now to judge him.

 

"I will pay you right now to sleep," Stiles tells the baby, who mostly ignores him. "I will find money and pay you." Noah rolls over onto his back and squeals, kicking his legs. Stiles wriggles himself around so that he's propped up upside down over Noah. Noah blinks up at him, and then giggles when Stiles makes a face at him.

 

Stiles' cellphone suddenly comes to life, trying to vibrate its away across Stiles' nightstand. Stiles scoops Noah up in one arm and goes over to investigate the call. It turns out to be from Scott and Stiles immediately picks up.

 

"You're so lucky that Noah was already awake," he opens with, not giving Scott a chance to say anything. "He's-"

 

"Stiles!" Scott's voice is low and panicked and sets Stiles instantly on alert. "Stiles, you have to come get me!"

 

"What's going on? Where are you?" Stiles asks.

 

"I'm out in the preserve," Scott says in a whisper.

 

"The preserve? What the hell are you doing out there?" Stiles asks.

 

"The lacrosse team dared me! It's a long story. Doesn't matter. Stiles, there's a dead body out here and it stared right at me and then something BIT me and you have to come get me!" There's a lot there for Stiles to process but he still shoots off the bed and starts groping around for his hoodie and a warmer outfit for Noah.

 

"A dead body?!" He exclaims. "And it bit you?"

 

"No!" Scott whisper-yells.

 

"Oh god are you a zombie now?" Stiles asks.

 

"The dead body didn't bite me! It was a wolf or a bear or something. Something with teeth!"

 

"I'm on my way! Get to the road and I'll pick you up!"

 

"Hurry!"

 

Stiles ends the call, grabs Noah's diaper bag, and runs down the stairs. He barely remembers to lock the front door behind himself as he runs out to the Jeep. He straps Noah, who is enjoying this sudden outing far more than Stiles thinks is necessary, into his carseat before throwing himself into the driver's seat.

 

He has to consciously resist the urge to slam his foot on the pedal and speed his way to the preserve. He needs to get to Scott as fast as he can but he can't risk getting pulled over, especially with Noah in the back seat.

 

There aren't many cars on the road at this time of night. It's not until he gets closer to the preserve that Stiles finally sees significant signs of life. Those signs happen to be the blue and red lights of police vehicles. Stiles' heart almost stops in his chest. He pulls over to the side of the road, grabs his phone, and calls Scott.

 

It seems like an eternity before Scott answers.

 

"Where are you?!" Is what Scott opens with.

 

"I'm close," Stiles says, heaving a huge sigh of relief. "Dude, there's, like, a lot of cops cars out here. What's going on?"

 

"I don't know, man," Scott says. "I didn't see any cops before. I'm not even sure where I am right now!"

 

"Okay, just stay where you are, I'll see if there's anothOOOH WHAT?!" Someone knocks on the Jeep's driver side window and Stiles startles so badly he almost drops the phone. From his carseat, Noah lets out a matching squeal.

 

"What's going on?" Scott's voice shouts from the phone.

 

"Stiles!" A voice shouts from outside the Jeep. It's his dad. Stiles ignores Scott on the phone for the moment and rolls down his window. His father is standing next to the Jeep, arms crossed over his chest and not looking especially pleased.

 

"Heeey, Dad," Stiles says. "Fancy seeing you out here."

 

"What are you doing?" The sheriff asks. "There is no reason for you to be out here at this time of night. Especially with a baby." Stiles glances down at his phone, then up at the rear-view mirror where he can see Noah's carseat in the back. Noah, who can't see the sheriff but can hear him and has definitely recognized his voice, is squealing in delight and waving his arms around.

 

Noah who, when he eventually becomes a teenager, Stiles definitely wouldn't want traipsing around in the dark woods running into who-knows-what.

 

Being a father has really started to put quite the damper on teenage shenanigans.

 

"I'm looking for Scott," Stiles says.

 

"Scott?" The sheriff asks, his brow creasing with worry. Stiles looks down at his phone; Scott's no longer on the line.

 

"Scott's out in the woods," Stiles says. "Something to do with the lacrosse team. He called me to come pick him up. He..." He hesitates and trails off. Maybe there's a good reason why Scott called Stiles and not someone more responsible or adult – his mother, for example – and Stiles doesn't want to let him down. But there's really no way out of this situation they've both found themselves in.

 

"What?" The sheriff asks. "I'm in no mood for games tonight, Stiles."

 

"He said he found a body," Stiles says. "In the woods. Then something came and bit him. Not the body, the body's dead. Scott's not a zombie now, he told me. Though I guess he wouldn't turn right away, that'd be--"

 

"Stiles, focus," the sheriff says. "Dial Scott and give me your phone." Stiles does what he's told. He doesn't miss the worry in his dad's expression.

 

"Is that what everyone's here for?" He asks. "There's really a body out there?" The sheriff shakes his head at him. Stiles knows the moment Scott answers the call, because the sheriff immediately snaps rigidly to attention.

 

"Scott, it's Sheriff Stilinski," he says. "Where are you?" Stiles can hear Scott's voice coming from the phone, but it's not loud enough to tell what he's saying.

 

"Where is he?" Stiles asks. The sheriff waves his hand at Stiles and doesn't answer. Noah starts whining in his seat; Stiles can see his little arms waving in the rear-view mirror.

 

"Scott, get to the nearest road and wait there. Someone will be by to take you to the hospital," the sheriff says. There's a pause where Stiles can hear Scott's slightly panicked voice. The sheriff frowns. "I'm not arguing with you on this. If you do not get into a car with one of the deputies I will call your mother and let her deal with you." There's another pause, then the sheriff nods and ends the call.

 

"Where is he?" Stiles asks as the sheriff hands him back his phone.

 

"He's still out in the woods somewhere. If he's not at the road soon I'll send a deputy for him," the sheriff says. "Either way, we'll deal with him. You go straight home and do not leave the house again tonight."

 

"Is there really a body out there?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yes, Stiles, there's a body," the sheriff says on a sigh. "I can't tell you any more than that. Go home, get you and Noah to bed, and go to sleep. I might not be back in the morning but I still expect you to get to school on time."

 

"But what about--"

 

"Stiles! Go home. I mean it."

 

"You'll tell me if you find him though?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yes, Stiles." The sheriff's expression softens. "I'll text you once I know he's on his way home. Now, seriously, take Noah and go to bed. I'll see you tomorrow sometime." Stiles nods and rolls up his window. He puts the Jeep in gear and gets back on the road, he glances at the rear-view mirror and sees his dad watching him leave.

 

***

 

The impromptu trip seems to have tired Noah out because he finally goes down when Stiles gets him back home. Stiles drops face-down into his own bed, but doesn't even try to fall asleep until he gets the promised text from his dad saying that they found Scott.

 

***

 

Stiles' alarm wakes him up in the morning, for once.

 

Another first is that he gets to wake up Noah, who is definitely cranky after not getting enough sleep the night before. Stiles is not above saying 'I told you so' to a baby, but he's a bit busy this morning with juggling calming Noah down and calling Scott while at the same time trying to get his eyes to stay open.

 

When the call finally goes through it's not Scott on the other end, but Mrs McCall.

 

"Stiles?" Mrs McCall answers, sounding tired and confused. Stiles' immediate reaction is to panic.

 

"Oh my god is Scott dead?" He asks.

 

"What?" Mrs McCall asks. "No! No, he's fine. He's still sleeping. He got his rabies shot and his bite treated and he's resting right now."

 

"Oh, that's good," Stiles says. "So he was definitely bitten by an animal? Not a um... not-animal?"

 

"No, Stiles, he did not get bitten by the body in the woods," Mrs McCall says. Stiles can practically hear the eye-roll in her voice. "It was most likely a stray dog or something."

 

"Scott said he thought it was a wolf," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah, I know, he told me the same thing," Mrs McCall says. "But it was dark and he didn't see it properly, and there are no wolves in California. Anyway, the main thing is that he's back home and he's okay. He won't be in school today, though. And you better get a move on or you'll be late."

 

***

 

Stiles' first order of business once he gets to school and drops Noah off at the daycare center is to seek out the lacrosse team. He finds Danny and Jackson hanging around near their lockers. Danny spots Stiles first, then nudges Jackson until he turns around.

 

"Stilinski," Jackson says as Stiles walks up to them.

 

"What the fuck, Jackson?" Stiles asks. Jackson seems to know what this is all about because he at least looks mildly uncomfortable. Danny looks vaguely worried.

 

"I heard McCall is in the hospital," Jackson says.

 

"And who's fault is that?!" Stiles exclaims.

 

"Don't yell at me," Jackson says. "I didn't send him out there."

 

"Then who did?" Stiles asks. "You're the captain! Who else would it be?"

 

"Some of the other guys," Jackson says. "Look, McCall's probably too asthmatic to even be on the team. You think I'd send him out in the woods like he is?"

 

"I dunno!" Stiles exclaims. "But someone sent him out there and now he's in the hospital! What are you gonna do about that?!"

 

"I'll deal with the rest of the team later," Jackson says.

 

"What does that even mean!?" Stiles exclaims, throwing his arms up. Jackson doesn't answer, just gives Stiles a look and walks past him. The fact that he doesn't purposely bump into Stiles' shoulder on his way by is a reminder that things between them are still weird, and it's enough to keep Stiles from chasing after Jackson to demand more answers.

 

Danny gives Stiles a sympathetic look before following Jackson down the hall, leaving Stiles standing by himself at the lockers.

 

***

 

Stiles is surprised to find Scott waiting beside his Jeep after school. Stiles frowns as he approaches Scott, taking in his best friend's worried expression and nervous fidgeting.

 

"We have a problem," Scott says in greeting.

 

"Please tell me you're not actually a zombie," Stiles says. Scott shuffles out of the way as Stiles starts loading Noah and his carseat into the backseat of the Jeep. "And aren't you supposed to be in the hospital?"

 

"They sent me home. And I'm not a zombie," Scott says. "But, um… The, uh, bite has… changed?"

 

"Changed how?" Stiles asks. "Like it's infected?"

 

"More like it's gone," Scott says. He glances around the parking lot to make sure no one's looking at them before lifting up one side of his shirt. There's a bloody gauze bandage taped to his side, which Stiles wrinkles his nose at.

 

"Gross, dude," he says. "That's whoooaaaat the hell?" Scott rips off the bandage, revealing smooth, unbroken skin. He looks up at Stiles with both eyebrows raised.

 

"It's like it completely healed overnight," he says.

 

"That's, hm," Stiles says. "I don't know what to do with that." He prods at Scott's side until Scott smacks his hand away.

 

"You think I do?" Scott asks.

 

"I'd be surprised if you did," Stiles says. "What did your mom say?"

 

"I didn't tell her," Scott says. "She actually doesn't know I'm here right now."

 

"Great," Stiles says. "She is not going to happy when she finds out."

 

"Definitely not," Scott agrees.

 

"How did you get here anyway?" Stiles asks. Scott doesn't have a car, or even a driver's license. Stiles or Mrs McCall are usually the ones who drive him wherever he needs to go. The high school isn't insanely far away from the McCall house, technically within walking distance. At least, walking distance for someone who isn't asthmatic. Walking distance for someone who isn't Scott, who Stiles has never known to have walked to school. Ever.

 

"I, uh, sort of ran here?" Scott says. Stiles' eyes almost bug out of his head.

 

"You what now?" He asks. Scott seems to be about to repeat himself when he gets cut off by Noah loudly fussing. The workers at the daycare center had warned Stiles, both at lunch and when he'd gone to pick Noah up at the end of the day, that he'd been tired and cranky all day. Stiles had already been expecting a difficult afternoon, this new twist with Scott certainly doesn't improve that outlook.

 

"I think I also lost my inhaler in the preserve," Scott says.

 

"Oh my god I am going to stroke out," Stiles says. He makes sure Noah is secure in the Jeep and then throws himself into the driver's seat. "Get in." Scott runs around the Jeep and gets into the passenger seat.

 

"It's still light out," he says. "If we go now we can go look for it."

 

"What?" Stiles asks. "Scott, I'm not taking you to the preserve, I'm taking you home. Obviously something weird is going on and I won't be able to handle it myself if it turns out that your bite disappearing is suddenly some kind of... I don't know, mutant healing phenomenon that happens right before you die or something. Not to mention that my dad will have a cow if he finds out that I took Noah into the woods where a body was literally just found."

 

"Stiles, that doesn't make any sense," Scott says. "And inhalers are expensive. Do you know what my mom will do when she finds out I lost it?"

 

"I don't think it'll matter once she finds out that you ran to school without even having one," Stiles says, starting the Jeep and putting it in gear. "Or that you left the house alone while injured. Now, please tell me that the bite disappearing is the only weird thing happening with you right now."

 

Scott stares straight out the window and doesn't say anything, looking nervous.

 

"Fuck sakes," Stiles mutters.

 

***

 

Getting home to find Mrs McCall standing on Stiles' front porch, when he'd expect her to be at work, staring at them approaching with her arms crossed tightly over her chest, is bad enough. The sheriff appearing out of the house behind her, stony-faced, makes the situation even worse. Mrs McCall starts down the porch steps before Stiles even has a chance to put the Jeep in park.

 

"Do you know," Mrs McCall begins, stalking over to the Jeep's passenger side where Scott is slowly sinking lower in his seat, "how worried I was when I found out you'd left the house?!" Noah is fussing in his seat, which gives Stiles an excuse to slide out of the Jeep and attend to him, leaving Scott to his fate. The sheriff levels Stiles with a look as he rushes up to the house with a cranky Noah.

 

"For the record," Stiles says, "I had nothing to do with this."

 

"Get in the house, Stiles," the sheriff says.

 

"Going," Stiles says, scurrying past him. He can still hear Mrs McCall in the driveway reaming Scott out and he winces. He does not envy him right now. He makes quick work of changing Noah's diaper and clothes, tries to put him in his crib for a nap, ditches that plan when Noah screams at him, then brings Noah with him to his own room and sits down at his desk in front of his laptop.

 

Noah is sulkily quiet in his arms now, but he doesn't seem to have any objections to Stiles researching instead of entertaining him.

 

Which is perfect for Stiles at the moment because research seems very necessary for this situation. Stiles isn't any kind of medical expert, but he's pretty sure that an animal bite severe enough for a trip to the hospital wouldn't disappear overnight like nothing had happened. He's also pretty sure that animal bites don't cure asthma.

 

Unless the Beacon Hills preserve has a magical dog infestation that Stiles doesn't know about.

 

***

***

 

Chapter Text

Derek Hale's sudden return to Beacon Hills brings up more questions than answers.

 

***

 

Stiles doesn’t expect everyone to join him in his bedroom, but that's exactly what happens.

 

"This is ridiculous," Mrs McCall says from where she's sitting on Stiles' bed. "Injuries just don't disappear like, like, poof." She wiggles the fingers on one hand, while the other hand prods at Scott's fully intact skin. The sheriff, crouched down so that he's eye-level with where the bite originally was, studies Scott's side.

 

"Yeah, I don't get it either," he says. "I saw the bite last night with my own two eyes. It was definitely there."

 

"It's really gone, though," Scott says. "Not even a scar or anything." Stiles sits at his computer and types as quick as he can with one hand, Noah snuggled against his chest and sucking on one tiny fist.

 

"Should we take him back to the hospital?" The sheriff wonders out loud.

 

"Definitely not," Stiles says, glancing at him over his shoulder. "All that's gonna get us is a whole lot of unwanted attention. Did you never see a sci-fi movie, Dad?"

 

"This isn't a movie, Stiles," the sheriff says.

 

"Still," Stiles says. "You really think the doctors are just gonna let a disappearing bite go?"

 

"I don't wanna be experimented on," Scott says, finally moving away out of Mrs McCall and the sheriff's reaches. "Did you find anything yet?"

 

"Werewolves," Stiles says. "But I'm still looking."

 

"Werewolves?" Mrs McCall asks dryly.

 

"Still looking!" Stiles insists.

 

"I don't wanna be a werewolf either!" Scott says.

 

"Nobody's gonna be a werewolf," the sheriff says, getting to his feet. "I'm sure there's an explanation for this that makes sense and doesn't involve the supernatural."

 

"Is there a non-supernatural answer that wouldn't involve disappearing injuries, curing asthma, and super-senses?" Stiles asks.

 

"Please stop calling them that," Scott sighs.

 

"Well what else would you call them?" Stiles asks. Because aside from magically disappearing dog bites and magical cures for incurable illnesses, apparently Scott has also developed super speed, super hearing, and super smelling.

 

"I don't know!" Scott exclaims. "Just not that." Noah startles at the sudden loud voices and starts crying. Then the sheriff's cell phone goes off and he leaves the room to answer it. Stiles gets up from his chair to walk around, trying to calm Noah down. Scott throws himself on Stiles' bed and shoves his head under a pillow.

 

"This doesn't make any sense," Mrs McCall mutters to herself.

 

"Agreed," Stiles says. Noah sobs at him. The sheriff comes back into the room, face slightly pale.

 

"Now what?" Mrs McCall asks.

 

"That was the, um, the coroner," the sheriff says slowly, "informing me that the body of Laura Hale has somehow been switched out with a wolf's."

 

***

 

Laura Hale is the name of the body Scott had tripped over in the preserve.

 

She was torn in half by what looked like a wild animal; her bottom half had been found by a jogger. Scott had found the top half.

 

Police had initially assumed that she'd been attacked by a mountain lion, or something like that. Mauled animals had been showing up in the preserve lately, but Laura is the first human victim.

 

Possibly.

 

Because, apparently, after the wolf's corpse had been removed from the morgue and sent to the local animal clinic, it had turned back into Laura Hale.

 

The sheriff doesn't come back home that night.

 

***

 

Scott doesn't go to school the next day.

 

Stiles isn't surprised.

 

Stiles hadn't wanted to go either, but the sheriff hadn't been having any of that.

 

So Stiles arrives at school on time, drops Noah – much happier and well-rested this morning, even if Stiles isn't – off at daycare, and then heads to his locker. Where Jackson is waiting for him.

 

"Hi?" Stiles asks.

 

"How's McCall?" Jackson asks.

 

Possibly a werewolf, no big.

 

"He's... fine," Stiles says. "He won't be in again today. Still... recovering. Why?"

 

"He missed tryouts yesterday," Jackson says. "Coach wants to be fair, or, like, not get sued, and offer him a second chance to try for the team."

 

"I will pass the message along," Stiles says. "He might be back tomorrow." Jackson nods and walks away without another word. Stiles watches him go.

 

Lydia is waiting for Jackson at the end of the hall. She and Stiles make brief eye-contact and Stiles turns away, not bothering with his locker as he heads off to homeroom.

 

***

 

From: ScottBro

Dude, what am I gonna do!?!?!!?!!?!?

 

To: ScottBro

Relax, we'll think of something.

 

***

 

There's a fancy black sports car sitting behind the cruiser in the Stilinski driveway when Stiles gets home from school. He makes a whistling noise and parks his Jeep on the street. He doesn't want to take any chances trying to maneuver it into the driveway; that car looks expensive.

 

He collects Noah from his carseat and enters the house.

 

There's a good-looking man with murder-brows sitting on the living room couch.

 

"Uh..." Stiles says. This isn't a normal occurrence. The sheriff walks in from the kitchen, nodding at Stiles and giving a tired smile at Noah's squeal of greeting.

 

"Stiles," he says, nodding his head at the man on the couch. "This is Derek Hale, Laura's brother."

 

"Oh," Stiles says, and then doesn't know what to say after that.

 

"He's agreed to answer a few questions for us," the sheriff says. "We're just waiting for Scott and Melissa to get here."

 

"Oh," Stiles repeats. "Oh! Are you a werewolf too? Is that really a thing?" Derek Hale's eyebrows shoot up, but he doesn't say anything.

 

"Stiles," the sheriff sighs.

 

"No, but really," Stiles says. He shifts Noah so he can hold him propped on one hip and gestures at Derek with his free hand. "It's a valid question."

 

"And he'll answer it later," the sheriff says. "When Scott and Melissa get here. Now, I imagine that Noah might need a change?" Stiles takes the hint and heads up the stairs.

 

***

 

Stiles is almost afraid that he won't be allowed into Derek's Possible Werewolf 101 info session, but no one tells him to leave when he takes a seat on one of the living room arm chairs. Sitting Noah in his lap with a bottle gets him a side-eye from Derek, but that's about it.

 

Mrs McCall and Scott, who had arrived while Stiles was upstairs, are sitting side-by-side on the loveseat staring at Derek, who hasn't moved from his spot on the couch. The sheriff is standing next to the couch, arms crossed and surveying the room.

 

"Okay," the sheriff says. "First things first... Werewolves."

 

"So that's definitely what we're going with?" Stiles asks.

 

"Apparently so," the sheriff says.

 

"Oh god," Scott groans. A mildly offended look crosses Derek's face before his expression goes blank.

 

"Now, now," the sheriff says. "I'm sure it's not all bad. Let's just listen to what Derek has to say." Everyone turns to Derek, who blinks at them but doesn't say anything.

 

"Derek?" The sheriff prompts. "Werewolves."

 

"My sister is a werewolf," Derek says on a sigh. "And so am I." His voice is a lot higher than Stiles was expecting. The thick, angry eyebrows, the hint of scruff, the leather jacket, the muscles Stiles can sort of see under the jacket, the hard look in his eyes; all things that led Stiles to expect a deeper, gruffer voice. He sounds kind of young.

 

"How does that work?" The sheriff asks. "Were you both bitten too?" Derek shakes his head.

 

"We were born this way," he says. "Most of my family were werewolves."

 

'Were', he says, because he doesn't have a family anymore. And Stiles suddenly remembers exactly who Derek Hale is. He's never met Derek before, but almost everyone in Beacon Hills over a certain age knows about the fire. The fire at the Hale house out in the preserve that wiped out three generations of family members in one night. All except for three survivors.

 

An awkward silence settles over the room.

 

"Soooo..." Stiles says, ever the silence-killer. "It's possible to be born a werewolf?" Derek looks over at him, and frowns like he's not sure what to make of Stiles. Or he could be confused about the baby, who is looking curiously back at Derek over the top of his bottle.

 

"Yeah," Derek finally says. "It's genetic. And it can also be passed through the bite of an alpha."

 

"The who of the what now?" Stiles asks.

 

"Alpha?" The sheriff asks.

 

"What does this mean for my son?" Mrs McCall asks. Derek's eyes bounce from person to person, and he doesn't say anything right away.

 

"Did you bite me?" Scott asks suddenly.

 

"No," Derek says. And his eyes flash bright blue. Everyone flinches in surprise, except for Noah, who squeals in delight and dribbles formula down his front.

 

"I guess you made a fan," Stiles says, swiping at Noah's chin with his sleeve.

 

"So there's another werewolf out there," the sheriff says. "Do you know who?"

 

"No," Derek says. "That's what Laura came down here to figure out."

 

"I wasn't planning on getting into this just yet," the sheriff says, "but why was Laura in town? As far as I can tell through the department investigation so far, neither of you have even been in California since the fire."

 

"Someone sent her a message. I don't know who," Derek says.

 

"Someone lured her back to kill her?" The sheriff asks.

 

"I don't know," Derek says with a shrug, not looking at anyone. "Maybe. It was a picture of a dead deer with a symbol carved on its side. Could've been anyone who knows about the supernatural that sent it for any reason. But she came back to check it out. And now she's dead."

 

"Yeah," the sheriff says. He rubs a hand over his jaw. Noah finishes his bottle and Stiles burps him. It earns him another confused look from Derek. "This symbol wouldn't happen to have been a spiral, by chance, would it?"

 

Derek's gaze snaps to the sheriff and a surprised look briefly crosses his features. He nods. Stiles narrows his eyes at his father. This is the first time he's hearing about any of this. Though, to be fair, between schoolwork and Noah it's been hard to find time to listen to his 'borrowed' police scanner to keep track of what's going on with Beacon Hills' criminal population.

 

"Is there something going on we should know about?" Stiles asks.

 

"There's nothing going on that you need to be concerned about," the sheriff says. "At least, there wasn't. Just some animal mutilations. Honestly, we all thought it was a mountain lion, or something. Until that spiral showed up, anyway."

 

"What does all this have to do with werewolves?" Mrs McCall asks. Derek looks at her silently, then looks at Scott, who is staring back at him with worried eyes.

 

"Well," Stiles says. "I guess a loose werewolf has to eat something? Might as well be deer."

 

"But what's the spiral about?" Mrs McCall asks.

 

"It's a message to other werewolves," Derek says. "A symbol of revenge."

 

***

 

Stiles so wants to stick around for the rest of Derek's explanation. He has an almost burning desire to know what's going to happen next. With Scott, with werewolves, with this whole revenge thing. But then Noah has to be cared for, chores and homework have to be done, and in the end the sheriff shoos Stiles along to deal with all that.

 

"But-" Stiles tries to protest as his dad ushers him out of the room.

 

"Stiles," the sheriff says. "We can fill you in on the important details later. You have other things to worry about right now."

 

"But!" Stiles repeats.

 

"No buts," the sheriff says. "Go on." Stiles goes. Grumpily.

 

"I expect a full report later!" Stiles calls behind him as he bounds up the stairs. No one answers him, but he imagines his father his rolling his eyes. Stiles swerves into the nursery to change Noah out of his soiled outfit. Noah wriggles on the changing table as Stiles wrestles his tiny pants off him.

 

"What do you think, kid?" Stiles asks him. "Werewolves and revenge symbols. What's that all about?"

 

"Abababa!" Noah babbles, grabbing at Stiles' hands.

 

"Good point," Stiles says. He bares Noah's belly and blows a raspberry into the pudgy flesh, making Noah shriek with laughter. Stiles giggles himself, but he sobers up a bit as he gets Noah into a one-piece sleeper and he thinks about the discussion going on downstairs.

 

He knows he's far from having all the pieces, but nothing is making sense.

 

Revenge symbols.

 

The Hales returning to Beacon Hills.

 

Mutilated animals.

 

A dead body.

 

Werewolves.

 

Scott is a werewolf now.

 

That last fact chooses now of all times to start sinking in and Stiles briefly loses his breath. He finishes dressing Noah with shaking hands and pulls the baby to his chest.

 

His best friend is now a supernatural creature – a supernatural creature that apparently exists now - and Stiles has no idea what that means or what's going to happen next.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles isn't sure that Scott is taking this turn of events as seriously as he should be. And it's becoming more clear that this new situation is very serious indeed.

 

***

 

Derek Hale has already left by the time the sheriff calls Stiles down for supper.

 

Stiles walks into the kitchen to find the McCalls sitting at the kitchen table, pizza sitting in front of them. Stiles trades Noah off to his dad for a slice of pizza and takes a huge bite before starting in on his questions.

 

"So what's happening?" He asks. Scott clears his throat and then starts counting on his fingers.

 

"Derek Hale is a werewolf. Now I'm a werewolf. The one that bit me is an alpha that Derek doesn't know. I will transform on the full moon, but not into an actual wolf. I am completely healthy and can't get sick. Derek can help me control my new wolf powers." He pauses and shares a look with Mrs McCall. "Also apparently Deaton is some kind of magic user and can also help me with this."

 

"Okay," Stiles says. "Can't say I was expecting that."

 

"Also," the sheriff buts in. "There may be werewolf hunters in the area."

 

"Of course there is," Stiles says. "So now what?"

 

"Now Scott works with either Derek or Deaton, or both, to make sure he doesn't go wild on the full moon," the sheriff says. "Other than that, nothing."

 

"But what about Laura Hale? And the alpha?" Stiles asks.

 

"I will be dealing with that," the sheriff says. "With Derek's help, obviously. Laura's death is still a police investigation; the whole alpha business will be a completely separate thing."

 

"About that," Stiles says. "What the heck is an alpha?"

 

"Ah, basically the leader of the pack, from what I understood," the sheriff says. He shares a look with Mrs McCall, who nods.

 

"That's what I got out of it too," she says.

 

"So Scott's in a pack with some alpha leader he doesn't even know?" Stiles asks.

 

"Basically," Scott says.

 

"Great," Stiles says.

 

***

 

Stiles drives Scott to school the next morning.

 

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Stiles asks him as they enter the parking lot. "I mean, the full moon is coming up, and high school isn't exactly a calming environment even for non-mythical creatures."

 

"Derek said it'd be fine," Scott says. "And he said he'd be keeping an eye on things. Whatever that means." Stiles gives Scott a side-eye that goes ignored. He drops Scott off at the main entrance before driving around the building to the back parking lot near the entrance to the daycare. By the time he drops Noah off and gets him settled, Scott has beat him to their homeroom. He perks up as soon as Stiles drops into the seat next to his.

 

"Hey, guess what?" Scott asks. "Jackson said that Coach'll still give me a chance to try out for lacrosse." Stiles nods absently, remembering Jackson mentioning that to him the day before.

 

"Do you think that's a good idea?" He asks. Scott frowns at him.

 

"Of course, why wouldn't it be?" He asks. "This is my chance to finally join a school sports team! And now that my asthma is basically gone there's no reason why I wouldn't make it in."

 

"You mean aside from the whole... grr, thing?" Stiles makes clawing motions with his hands.

 

"It'll be fine," Scott says. "I've been doing fine so far."

 

"Scott, it's only been, what, three days?" Stiles asks.

 

"It'll be fine," Scott insists. "Anyway, it's gonna be today after school. Can you come watch?"

 

"Today? That's quick," Stiles says.

 

"They want to get it done as soon as possible so Coach can choose the first line right away," Scott says. "So will you come?" Stiles still thinks this is a bad idea, but he nods.

 

"I'll see if I've got enough supplies for Noah for the afternoon," he says. "I'll meet you at the field later; I'll text you if I can't make it."

 

"Sweet," Scott says.

 

***

 

Stiles turns out to have an extra pouch of soft food in Noah's diaper bag, so he loads Noah in his carseat and treks out to the lacrosse field.

 

Stiles notices, as he approaches, that only a few players are there for Scott's special tryout. It's easy to pick Scott out on the significantly less crowded field, especially when Scott turns and waves to him. Stiles nods at him, unable to wave with both hands full, and is then waylaid by Coach before he can figure out where to find himself a good seat to watch.

 

"Stilinski!" Coach booms, eyes wide as he marches over to Stiles.

 

"Hey, Coach," Stiles says, and stops.

 

"What are you doing here with that?" Coach jabs a finger at Noah, who stares up at Coach in what Stiles thinks is confusion. "I'm not running a babysitting outfit here!"

 

"I'm just here to watch Scott, Coach," Stiles says. "And he pretty much goes where I go." He nods at Noah. Coach looks between Stiles, Noah, and Scott, disgruntled.

 

"Stay away from the bench!" He says, and then whirls around to walk back onto the field, yelling at one of the players as he goes.

 

"And that," Stiles says to Noah, "was the coach. I'm not sure whether or not to hope he's still here when you start high school." And then, carefully tucking away the image of a high-school-aged Noah very deep into his subconscious, Stiles turns to the bleachers.

 

And promptly locks eyes with Lydia, who is sitting front and center on a seat nearest the player bench next to a girl Stiles doesn't recognize.

 

Awkward.

 

The girl sitting next to Lydia waves, and Stiles just smiles awkwardly at her before speed-walking past them and choosing a seat high up on the next set of bleachers. He removes Noah from his seat and sits him on his lap, facing the field.

 

"And now," Stiles says, being very careful not to look in Lydia's direction, "we watch Scott and make sure that he doesn't do anything stupid."

 

And then Scott executes a perfect backflip to avoid someone coming at him, and launches a shot at the nearest net. The small white ball whizzes past Danny, who's playing goalie, much to the shock of apparently everyone watching.

 

"That right there," Stiles points with one of Noah's hands, "was something stupid." Noah babbles at him and shoves his fist in his mouth. Scott turns to where Stiles is sitting and shrugs helplessly. Then Scott turns away, towards the nearest patch of woods, shakes his head once, then turns around and jogs across the field towards the goal. Stiles turns towards the same patch of woods and only sees trees.

 

The tryout continues much the same way for the next hour. With Scott seeming to barely be trying to hide his new athletic abilities, and Stiles cringing every time he does something he wouldn't have been able to before. Or that he potentially wouldn't be able to do with a non-disappearing dog bite. Though he's sure he misses a few things because he gets distracted by Noah a few times, including a diaper change that gets him yelled at again by Coach.

 

"That is unsanitary, Stilinski!" Coach bellows from the field to some snickering from the players.

 

"I have a change pad!" Stiles calls back. "And hand sanitizer!"

 

"You should go help your wife out, McCall!" One of the players calls, to more snickering. That guy, Stiles can't tell for sure who he is from the current distance, then gets a lacrosse ball to the helmet. Stiles follows the ball's trajectory to see Jackson lowering his crosse. Jackson briefly looks up at Stiles, before immediately turning around to face the opposite direction.

 

Stiles turns back to Noah, who's watching him, and makes a face at him as he starts clearing away his mess. Noah giggles and tries to shove his foot in his mouth. Then he tries to roll off the bench seat and Stiles is quick to pull him back in his lap.

 

***

 

Stiles meets Scott down on the field after the tryout is over.

 

"You'll have a decision tomorrow morning," Coach is saying as Stiles walks up.

 

"Thanks, Coach," Scott says. Coach mumbles something to himself as he stalks off in the direction of the locker room entrance. Scott turns to Stiles.

 

"Was that cool or what?" He asks.

 

"Or what," Stiles says. "You really think this is a good idea?"

 

"Of course!" Scott says. "Wasn't I awesome out there?"

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "And that's part of the problem. You really expect people to just accept you suddenly being awesome at sports without any questions?"

 

"Hey, they don't know for sure that I've never been good at sports," Scott says. "I could've been great all this time!"

 

"Scott, anyone who's spent at least one gym class with you knows that you've never been great at sports," Stiles says.

 

"Whatever, it'll be fine," Scott says. "Are you driving me home?"

 

"Yeah, whenever you're ready," Stiles says. "I'm sure you have to shower first?"

 

"Right," Scott says. "I'll be quick." He starts jogging away.

 

"I'll be waiting at the Jeep!" Stiles calls after him. Scott waves at him without turning around. Stiles double-checks that he has all of his and Noah's things, and then starts walking away from the field and towards the parking lot.

 

***

 

It seems to take Scott longer than necessary to come back from the showers. The fact that his hair is barely still damp when he finally makes it back to the Jeep gives Stiles pause. Noah has fallen asleep in his car seat by then, and Stiles is a bit annoyed that he's had to disrupt his afternoon routine even further.

 

"I thought you said you'd be quick," Stiles says.

 

"I was talking to Allison," Scott says, a wide smile on his face.

 

"Who?" Stiles asks.

 

"Allison Argent," Scott says. "She just moved here. She was sitting on the bleachers with Lydia."

 

"Right," Stiles says. "Well hurry up and get in. I have to get Noah home." Stiles climbs into the driver's seat of the Jeep and waits for Scott to climb into the passenger's side.

 

"She invited me to a party on Friday," Scott says. "This high school sports thing is already working out for me."

 

"Do you think that's a good idea?" Stiles asks, starting the Jeep and putting it in gear. He pulls out of the parking lot. "Pretty sure it's a full moon on Friday. Or Saturday maybe, sometime close. Maybe see what Derek Hale has to say about this?"

 

"He's not the boss of me," Scott says. "Besides, I did fine today at school. And at tryouts."

 

"One, I think a party is a lot different than an average day at school, especially when there's a full moon involved," Stiles says. "And two, you did fine at tryouts except that it sort of looks like you spontaneously developed mad sports skills, which I'm pretty sure is gonna raise some eyebrows."

 

"Maybe," Scott says. "But, like, who's gonna guess werewolves as the reason?"

 

"Hey, for all we know there could be other people in town who know about the supernatural and are just really good at keeping it a secret," Stiles says. "Didn't my dad say something about werewolf hunters being around?"

 

"Still not convinced that that's not Derek just being paranoid," Scott says. "He said that hunters killed his family, so he's maybe a bit sensitive about it." That stuns Stiles into silence for a minute. This is the first he's heard about the Hale fire being anything other than an accident.

 

"I mean," he says eventually, mind racing. "I'd say that's a very good reason for one to have their guard up about these kinds of things."

 

"It's called paranoia," Scott says. "Derek also said that most hunters have a code. They don't go after werewolves unless they're causing trouble."

 

"A whole family though?" Stiles asks. Scott shrugs. Mrs McCall is waiting for them when Stiles pulls into Scott's driveway.

 

"I'll text you later," Scott says, grabbing his gear and jumping out of the Jeep.

 

"Ask Derek about the party," Stiles calls out the window.

 

"What party?" Mrs McCall asks. Stiles cringes at the dirty look Scott shoots him and backs out of the driveway.

 

***

 

"So, Dad," Stiles says as soon as the sheriff walks through the front door. The sheriff startles in surprise, which makes sense considering that the house is dark and Stiles is sitting in the dimly lit kitchen.

 

"Jesus, kid," the sheriff says. "What are you doing?"

 

"Waiting for you," Stiles says. "There's a plate for you in the oven."

 

"Right," the sheriff says. "Let me get settled first before you spring whatever it is you've done now on me." The sheriff toes off his boots and heads down the hall to his office, where he keeps his gun safe.

 

"I haven't done anything!" Stiles calls after him. "I've been on my best behaviour this whole time!" He hears the sheriff snort as he heads up the stairs. "Rude," he mutters.

 

Stiles still hasn't moved by the time the sheriff has returned, out of uniform now, and he pins his father with a look as the man goes over to investigate the oven.

 

"Alright," the sheriff sighs. "What's going on?"

 

"Why didn't you tell me that the Hale fire was an arson?" Stiles asks.

 

"Who told you that?" The sheriff asks. He removes his dinner from the oven and brings it over to the table to eat it, sitting next to Stiles.

 

"Scott told me that Derek told you," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah," the sheriff says. "He did say that. And before you ask, that's all he said. He didn't go into it much."

 

"Hmph," Stiles says. "But you're looking into it, right?"

 

"Of course," the sheriff says. Stiles' father had been a deputy at the time of the fire, and Stiles knows that he'd worked a bit on the case. Stiles can remember his father coming home from work, subdued and clingy and staring at Stiles, his mother, and the house as if etching the memory of it all in his brain.

 

"What do you have so far?" Stiles asks. "Scott said that Derek said that it was werewolf hunters." The sheriff gives Stiles a look, chewing thoughtfully. "It's technically not an active case," Stiles wheedles. The sheriff rolls his eyes.

 

"I've gone over the old file. All the evidence points to an accident," he says.

 

"But..." Stiles says.

 

"There are some things that bother me," the sheriff says.

 

"Like..." Stiles says, making an impatient hand gesture.

 

"All the bodies were found in the basement of the house," the sheriff says. "It almost looks like they went down there to escape the fire, but... why go to the basement when there were other escape options?" Stiles mulls that over, slipping into a more detached analytical mode to avoid thinking too deeply about what it must have been like in that basement.

 

"What about the survivors, how did they get out?" He asks.

 

"Apparently, none of them were home when the fire started," the sheriff says. "I was on the team that interviewed Derek and Laura at the time. They both said they'd snuck out to hang out with friends. The other survivor, their uncle Peter, was already in an induced coma by then. And then he never recovered so we never had a chance to ask him anything. But it looks like he was out as well that night. He got his injuries trying to get to his family."

 

"So no one who was in the house when the fire started made it out," Stiles says. "Because they all went to the basement? Why the basement?"

 

"In their defense," the sheriff says, "it looks like there were tunnels that led from the basement to out into the preserve. But those tunnels were either locked up or caved in by the time we started investigating. Might have been that way before the fire started."

 

"Hmm," Stiles says. "So we know they were all werewolves. That changes a few things."

 

"Yes," the sheriff says. "It presents a motive. One thing that pointed more in the favour of accidental fire was that there was no reason for someone to want to kill the Hale family. They weren't overly active in the community or anything, mostly they kept to themselves. But I remember them being well-liked enough. Didn't know anyone who'd had a bad thing to say about them."

 

"Scott said that Derek said that hunters have a code that they follow," Stiles says. "That they don't go after werewolves who don't cause trouble."

 

"He did say that," the sheriff says. "And he also said that sometimes hunters don't follow the code. Which is what he's saying happened with his family. I have no reason not to believe him, considering I never would've pegged the Hales for werewolves so they certainly weren't causing any trouble around here."

 

"Who are the hunters that are maybe back in town?" Stiles asks.

 

"Not sure yet, I'm still looking into it," the sheriff says.

 

***

***

 

Chapter Text

Scott makes first line, which Stiles isn't too surprised about considering his skills during the tryout.

 

What he is surprised about is that Mrs McCall actually lets him join the team.

 

"She talked with Deaton about it," Scott says, after he tells Stiles the news Thursday morning in homeroom. "Deaton said it would be fine as long as I keep myself in check and don't go too hard on the other players."

 

"Scott," Stiles says, "you barely kept yourself in check during the tryout."

 

"I didn't hurt anybody," Scott says.

 

"That's not the point," Stiles says.

 

"Anyway," Scott interrupts. "Now I have to go to the party tomorrow night. The whole lacrosse team is going."

 

"I still don’t think that's a good idea," Stiles says. "Especially since tomorrow's the full moon. Who knows what could happen."

 

"It'll be fine," Scott says. "You worry too much. You should come with me. It'll be fun."

 

"No thanks," Stiles says. "You do remember this is Lydia's party, right? Why would I want to go to that?"

 

"It's not like you'd have to talk to her, or anything," Scott says. "There'll be plenty of other people there." Stiles just shakes his head. He has no desire to be anywhere near Lydia most of the time. He definitely doesn't want to go to her house. So he won't be wasting any money on a babysitter to be at a party he doesn't want to be at.

 

"I'll pass," Stiles says.

 

***

 

Stiles picks Scott up for school Friday morning and Scott bounds over to the Jeep with a smile.

 

"I feel perfectly fine today," he says, opening the passenger-side door and getting into the Jeep.

 

"I'm glad," Stiles says. "But the day's only just started, who's to say you'll still be fine later?"

 

"Don't be such a spoilsport," Scott says. "It's a new day, I'm finally on the lacrosse team, and I have a date for the party tonight. No matter how you feel about Lydia, she still throws the best parties."

 

"Good for her," Stiles mumbles, and backs out of the McCalls' driveway.

 

***

 

Stiles keeps an eye on Scott throughout the day. He seems to be doing fine, if a bit more twitchy than usual.

 

"Are you gonna be okay for lunch?" Stiles asks, catching Scott before he heads to the cafeteria.

 

"I'll be fine," Scott says. "I'm gonna eat with Allison. And I've been doing well so far." He certainly has been, and Stiles hesitates before heading off in the direction of the daycare. But Scott hasn't done anything weird all day so far, and Stiles really misses Noah.

 

Noah's smile when Stiles arrives for lunch pushes Scott and his issues out of Stiles' head for now.

 

***

 

Stiles drops Scott off after school with one more attempt at making him reconsider the party, which Scott ignores. Stiles brings Noah home and is surprised to find the sheriff in the kitchen.

 

"Don't get too excited," the sheriff says, "I just came back to get something." But he swoops in to take Noah from Stiles for a hug. Stiles drops his school bag and Noah's diaper bag on the kitchen table.

 

"Any updates on the Hale fire investigation?" he asks.

 

"Not really," the sheriff says. "Some of the people who initially worked on the case are either retired, transferred, or otherwise no longer in whatever job they were doing at the time."

 

"It hasn't been that long since the fire," Stiles says, frowning.

 

"A lot can change in some jobs in six years," the sheriff says. "I went from deputy to sheriff in that time. It's not weird that these people are hard to get a hold of, just inconvenient."

 

"What about Derek?" Stiles asks. "What's he have to say about the whole thing?"

 

"His story hasn't changed much since the last time I heard it," the sheriff says. "He isn't hiding the supernatural connection now, but I still think he's keeping something from me."

 

"You think he knows more about the fire than what he's been telling," Stiles says.

 

"Yup, I just don't know what," the sheriff says. "Anyway, I have to head back. Here you go." He hands Noah over to Stiles, the baby whines at being separated from his grandfather. The sheriff drops a kiss on his cheek with a chuckle and heads out the door. "I'll see you boys tomorrow, I'm working all night. Don't stay up too late just because it's the weekend."

 

"Yeah, yeah," Stiles says.

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't hear from Scott the whole evening aside from one text confirming that he's on his way to pick up Allison for the party and to wish him luck. Stiles heaves a frustrated sigh and doesn't reply to the text.

 

He busies himself with playing with Noah while also trying to figure out the mysteries of the Hale fire, and what it means now that he knows the fire wasn't an accident.

 

"What reason would werewolf hunters have to wipe out an entire family if they weren't causing any trouble?" Stiles asks. Noah stares at him while chewing on a teddy bear, having no opinion about it one way or the other.

 

"I wonder if there's a policing system to keep hunters honest and make sure they're following this code that they have," Stiles muses while he gives Noah a bath.

 

"I hope Scott's handling his first full moon," Stiles says while he's putting Noah to bed. Noah blinks sleepily up at him.

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't hear anything from Scott until the early hours of the next morning, around dawn.

 

From: ScottBro

Dude, I need a ride

 

The text alert wakes Stiles up and he spends a solid minute squinting at his phone screen before he finally responds.

 

To: ScottBro

Dude, what?

 

From: ScottBro

I need a ride home

 

From: ScottBro

I'm out in the woods or smth

 

To: ScottBro

The fuck are you doing out in the woods!? What happened last night?!

 

From: ScottBro

I dunno man can you just come get me?

 

Stiles checks the time, it's way too early to be up. Noah is still asleep; Stiles can see him passed out in his crib on the fancy video monitor Stiles keeps on his nightstand.

 

Stiles rolls out of bed and pads down the hall to his father's room. The sheriff's bed is empty and looks unslept in. It's so early that his night shift isn't over yet. Stiles briefly considers the time and energy it would take to get Noah ready to go out and then deal with a cranky baby all day.

 

He texts his father.

 

To: Daddio

Scott needs a ride home from the woods

 

From: Daddio

What the hell is Scott doing out in the woods?

 

To: Daddio

No idea. He just texted me about a ride and Noah's still asleep

 

From: Daddio

Right

 

From: Daddio

I'll go see if I can find him.

 

To: Daddio

[thumb's up emoji]

 

Stiles shoots a text to Scott about the sheriff going to pick him up.

 

Scott doesn't reply. Stiles goes back to bed.

 

***

 

Stiles catches up with his father during lunch, once they're both awake and functional.

 

"Did Scott tell you why he was in the woods?" Stiles asks.

 

"Not really?" The sheriff says. "He said something about the moon, but that was it. I told him to talk to either Deaton or Derek about it. Why was he even at a party on the full moon, anyway?"

 

"He said that Deaton said that it would be fine as long as he kept himself in check," Stiles says. He manages to get a spoonful of puréed carrots into Noah's mouth. Noah spits most of it back out, spraying orange slime all over his highchair tray. Stiles briefly considers exclusively bottle-feeding him until he's two.

 

"Has he not been talking to Derek at all?" The sheriff asks. "Because when I mentioned the party to him he was surprised that we didn't have Scott contained somewhere for his first full moon." Stiles looks up at his father with a frown. Noah whines at not being fed fast enough, even though most of his next mouthful also ends up on the highchair tray (and his bib... and Stiles' shirt).

 

"Do Derek and Deaton not have the same info about werewolves and full moons?" Stiles asks. "I thought Deaton was some kind of werewolf expert?" The sheriff shrugs.

 

"Not sure," he says. "Derek just kind of looked mad after I mentioned anything. I didn't bother trying to clarify anything then." Stiles thinks back to Derek's angry eyebrows.

 

"Fair enough," he says. "So you just dropped Scott off home and nothing happened?"

 

"Well," the sheriff says. "Melissa was there when I dropped him off." Stiles winces. Definitely grounded.

 

***

 

"Do you talk to Derek Hale often?" Stiles asks the sheriff later that afternoon. Scott is still giving him the silent treatment and Noah is down for a nap, so Stiles is a bit at loose ends.

 

The sheriff looks away from the game on TV for a second. "Often enough. Between his sister's death, the alpha, and the fire, I regularly have quite a few questions for him."

 

"What about questions about werewolves in general?" Stiles asks. "Do you ask him anything about that?"

 

"Not usually," the sheriff says. "I'm not concerned with that too much right now. That's why I keep saying that Scott should contact him. But if you have any questions I can pass them along next time I see him." Stiles hands him a list. The sheriff sighs.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles goes the whole weekend without talking to Scott. He only doesn't panic because he gets confirmation from both the sheriff and Mrs McCall that Scott is fine, just surly and grounded. But not grounded from his phone, which means that Stiles is getting the silent treatment.

 

Fine, if Scott wants to be that way then Stiles has other things he can concern himself about.

 

***

 

To: ScottBro

Am I driving you to school tomorrow?

 

From: ScottBro

I dunno, can you?

 

To: ScottBro

I'm petty enough to just not pick you up and you can figure out your own ride

 

From: Mama McCall

Stiles, can you please give Scott a ride to school in the morning? If he's not waiting for you outside at the usual time then feel free to just keep driving.

 

***

 

Scott still seems pissy when Stiles picks up him for school Monday morning. He's waiting on the sidewalk with his arms crossed over his chest and a scowl on his face. Stiles briefly debates whether it would be worth the drama to just drive right past him, but he stops in the end.

 

Scott climbs into the Jeep without a word and Stiles starts driving.

 

"I don't know what you're so pissed about," Stiles says. "You got home in the end."

 

"Dude!" Scott exclaims. "I texted you for help and you didn't even bother coming!"

 

"You wanted help and you got help," Stiles says. "What did you expect me to do? Noah was asleep and I wasn't just gonna leave him home by himself! I can't come running every time you call anymore, Scott. Sometimes I won't be able to."

 

"You could've just brought him with you," Scott says. "He would've slept in the Jeep."

 

"No he wouldn't have, because me putting him in the Jeep would've woken him up in the first place," Stiles says. "And I doubt you would've helped put him back down later, or dealt with him being cranky the rest of the day." Scott doesn't say anything to that. The rest of the ride to school is silent, aside from Noah babbling to himself in the back seat. Stiles stops the Jeep at the school's front entrance and Scott gets out without saying anything. Stiles sighs through his nose and drives around to the back of the building.

 

***

 

"Stiles." Stiles looks away from Noah to see one of the daycare workers, Quinn, standing in the doorway connecting the daycare to the school administration offices.

 

"Yeah?" Stiles asks. "What's up?"

 

"There's someone out here asking for you. He says it's important," Quinn says. "I know you've been good about not having friends in here, but I just want to remind you that we don't allow any students in here unless they have children here. Even during lunch time."

 

"Yeah, I know," Stiles says. Because that had been repeated to him several times when he first went in to secure a placement for Noah. There are a few other students currently at the daycare to visit with their children. Stiles hasn't gotten to know them that well, hasn't really tried, but everyone recognizes each other by now. It's hard to sneak anyone in, so people having friends in the daycare isn't usually a problem. And it certainly isn't a problem for Stiles because Stiles' only friend is Scott and he'd never really expressed any interest in visiting Noah for lunch.

 

It's probably Scott here now, coming to apologize for being a shit this morning. Stiles gets up from the floor, bringing Noah with him, and leaves the daycare. Stiles gets a few looks as he passes through the offices – technically he's not supposed to bring the baby into the school area – but he ignores them as he looks around for Scott.

 

Scott isn't there.

 

Jackson is.

 

Stiles freezes as soon as he spots him. He's not sure what's happening right now. Jackson is looking at Stiles and making a face like he's smelled something bad. Or, more accurately, he's looking at Noah and making a face like he's smelled something bad. Stiles tries to not hold it against him because he's pretty sure this is Jackson's first good look at Noah since the day he was born, and Stiles is sure there are some weird feelings associated with the whole situation.

 

Stiles wonders if Jackson and Lydia ever talk about the whole thing. About Noah. About how he might be doing with Stiles. About how there's a child that's part Lydia living his life out there. Though the reality is probably more that neither Jackson nor Lydia bring it up at all.

 

"Hi?" Stiles says, hitching Noah higher on his hip. "You were looking for me?"

 

"Yes," Jackson says, not looking away from Noah for another beat. Noah blinks at him with a hand in his mouth. "I need to talk to you about McCall."

 

"Uh... okay?" Stiles says. "What about him?"

 

"What the hell is going on with him?" Jackson asks. "You and I both know that no one suddenly gets that good at sports that fast. Especially not with where he started."

 

"Yeah, well," Stiles says. "I have no real answer to that." Jackson inches closer to Stiles and gives a quick look around the offices before saying with a lowered voice:

 

"It's drugs, isn't it?"

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"Steroids," Jackson clarifies, as if he's still making any sense. "It has to be." Stiles blinks at Jackson, and then lets out a burst of laughter. Noah lets out a responding squeal. Jackson backs away, looking offended.

 

"Dude, are you serious?" Stiles asks. "Do you think Scott would even know where to get something like that?"

 

"McCall? No, he's an idiot," Jackson says. "But you would know." Stiles considers this. He actually doesn't know right off the top of his head where to go to find steroids or anything else like that, but he's sure it wouldn't take him long to find out.

 

"True," Stiles says. "But, no, I haven't sourced anything like that for him. As far as I know, he's completely clean." And wouldn't Stiles' life be easier if Scott really was on drugs. It would be so much easier to explain then him suddenly turning into a supernatural creature that isn't supposed to really exist.

 

Stiles misses the days when Noah was the weirdest thing that ever happened to him.

 

"I know something's going on," Jackson says. "And I will find out what it is."

 

"Whatever, dude," Stiles says. "Do what you want."

 

He turns and goes back into the daycare, leaving Jackson in the offices.

 

***

 

Scott has lacrosse practice after school, which he informs Stiles of by text at the end of the day while Stiles is waiting for him in the front parking lot.

 

To: ScottBro

You couldn't have let me know about this this morning?!

 

He gets no reply.

 

Grumbling, he sets the Jeep in gear and heads for home.

 

He gets two texts during the drive. Once he's parked in the driveway he checks them, expecting them to be from Scott. They're not.

 

From: Unknown

Tell your friend that he shouldn't be playing sports if he won't stop showing off.

 

From: Daddio

I gave Derek Hale your number to make it easier to answer your questions. Don't make me regret that.

 

Stiles considers both messages. Then Noah starts complaining about still being confined to his car seat when the Jeep isn't even moving, and Stiles gets out to deal with him.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

You'll have better luck trying to get Scott's mother to convince him to tone it down re: sports

 

From: Derek Hale

She didn't do so well keeping him inside on the full moon.

 

To: Derek Hale

They're both still taking advice from Deaton. He ok'd it.

 

***

 

Stiles' text alert goes off while he's eating supper with Noah and the sheriff. He quickly checks it, finding another text from Derek Hale.

 

"That Derek?" The sheriff asks.

 

"Yup," Stiles says. "Apparently werewolves can shift outside the full moon, but the full moon makes it harder to resist the shift." Noah squishes a handful of mashed potatoes in his tiny fist and tries to shove it all in his mouth. Stiles senses a bath in his future.

 

"Did he say anything about why Scott ran off into the woods Friday night?" The sheriff asks.

 

"He said it was probably to get away from the party," Stiles says. "Less sensory input in the woods." They eat without talking for a few more minutes.

 

"Do you think it would be out of line if I asked him about hunters and the fire?" Stiles asks.

 

"I'd rather you didn't ask him too much about the fire," the sheriff says. "I'll handle that for now. Go nuts with the hunters. He'll answer what he wants to."

 

"You didn't ask him about hunters?" Stiles asks.

 

"Didn't get to that yet," the sheriff says. "I'm content to leave that to him for now while I deal with everything else."

 

"Right on," Stiles says. He sends a text to Derek.

 

To: Derek Hale

Hunters in town y/n?

 

From: Derek Hale

Yes

 

Stiles flails overdramatically, making Noah laugh and the sheriff roll his eyes.

 

To: Derek Hale

Names?! Locations!? Mugshots if you have them?!

 

From: Derek Hale

The Argent family, not sure exactly who yet.

 

From: Derek Hale

I'm keeping an eye on them.

 

Stiles feels icy cold wash through his body.

 

He remembers the girl sitting with Lydia at Scott's lacrosse tryouts. The one who invited Scott to Lydia's party.

 

Allison Argent. Who just moved here.

 

To: Derek Hale

We may have a problem

 

***

***

Chapter Text

"Scott's not answering me," Stiles says, pacing back and forth across the living room. "Calls and texts."

 

"Melissa's on her way home to check on him," the sheriff says, poking at the screen on his phone. "She said she texted him earlier and he answered her."

 

"He's probably just ignoring me 'cause he's mad at me," Stiles says. "He's still pissed that I didn't go pick him up from the woods the other night."

 

"For god's sake," the sheriff mutters. "Did he say he was dating this Allison Argent girl for sure?"

 

"Not in those words," Stiles says. "But he did say she invited him to Lydia's party and he went with her. And then he hasn't really spoken to me at all since then, so I don't know if anything else happened between them."

 

"Text from Derek," the sheriff says. "He says he's on his way to the McCall house. I'm gonna head over there too."

 

"Great, I'll..." Stiles trails off at the look the sheriff shoots him. "… I will be here."

 

"Exactly," the sheriff says. He taps something out on his phone as he throws on a jacket, and then he's gone. Stiles shares a look with Noah, who has been sitting in his playpen this whole time and watching the drama play out.

 

Stiles loves Noah and would absolutely die for him any day of the week. But sometimes he wishes that he wasn't such a big responsibility. He misses the freedom of being able to just drop everything and go.

 

Noah grins suddenly and waves a set of plastic keys in Stiles' direction. Stiles smiles at him and pulls him out of the playpen for a hug. He presses his cheek against Noah's red hair and suddenly discovers some mashed potato he'd missed after the rushed after-dinner cleanup.

 

"Definitely bath time for you," he says.

 

Noah smacks him in the chest with the plastic keys.

 

***

 

From: Derek Hale

Your friend is an idiot and is going to get himself killed.

 

To: Derek Hale

Is this about Allison Argent?

 

From: Derek Hale

Is he dating any other hunters?

 

Stiles pauses before shooting off a replay. He can't tell if Derek is being sarcastic or seriously asking.

 

After a bit of deliberation, he calls Derek instead.

 

"What?" Derek answers. Stiles hasn't actually seen or heard Derek since that afternoon he came over to the house. Stiles' mind offers up a deep, gruff voice when he reads Derek's texts, so it surprises him again how high and almost soft it is.

 

"Sorry," Stiles says. "I couldn't read your tone in the text. Scott isn't dating any other hunters that I know of. I don't know of any other hunters."

 

"One is bad enough," Derek says darkly. And a shiver runs through Stiles. Noah, ready for bed and sitting up on Stiles' lap, suddenly reaches for the phone and pulls it out of Stiles' hand.

 

"Hey!" Stiles exclaims. He grabs the phone back and Noah shrieks in displeasure. Definitely almost bedtime for him. Stiles puts the phone on speaker and places it on his desk out of Noah's reach.

 

"Is that a baby?" Derek asks, sounding suspicious.

 

"Yep," Stiles answers. "But back to the dating hunters thing. What are we gonna do about it? Dad hasn't come back from Scott's house yet. You really think Allison is going to hurt Scott? How do we know if she knows he's a werewolf?"

 

"Allison's still an unknown, but it's better to assume she knows something," Derek says. "And it's not just her. The Argents are an old hunting family. Even if Allison doesn't know anything, the rest of her family definitely does. And they won't waste time once they figure out what's going on here."

 

"I thought you said hunters had a code," Stiles says. "Scott hasn't hurt anyone."

 

"The Argents don't care about that," Derek says.

 

"You sound like you've dealt with these guys before," Stiles says.

 

"I have," Derek says. Stiles waits for him to elaborate. Derek doesn't. Stiles very carefully does not think about the fire.

 

"Right," Stiles says. "Well. What did Mrs McCall say about all this? And my dad?"

 

"They both told him to stay away from her," Derek says. "But I doubt he'll do it."

 

"Yeah," Stiles sighs.

 

***

 

"Do you think the Argents have a connection to the Hale fire?" Stiles asks.

 

"Jesus Christ, Stiles!" The sheriff actually jumps a little in surprise and almost trips over a pair of shoes. Stiles, sitting in the dark living room with Noah asleep in his arms, can't really find it in himself to laugh.

 

It's late, both Noah and Stiles should really be in bed, but Stiles had been thinking. And he'd been waiting for his father to come home.

 

The sheriff squints into the darkness of the living room and starts groping around for the light switch. Stiles takes pity on him and turns on a nearby lamp, providing some dim lighting. The movement jostles Noah a bit, who wriggles and makes a whining noise but doesn't wake up.

 

"What are you doing?" The sheriff asks, annoyed.

 

"Waiting for you," Stiles says. "It's not my fault you took so long to get back. Now back to my original question."

 

"Which was what?" The sheriff asks. "I forgot it after that mini heart attack you gave me."

 

"Ha," Stiles deadpans. "I asked if you thought the Argents had a connection to the Hale fire." The sheriff crosses over to the couch and sits down next to Stiles with a sigh.

 

"I hadn't heard of the Argents before tonight," he says. "What makes you think they had anything to do with the Hales?"

 

"I was talking to Derek earlier," Stiles says. "He mentioned that he'd had a run-in with the Argents before. I don't think it ended well." The sheriff stares off into space, like he's thinking something over.

 

"I'll look into it," he says. "I don't remember 'Argent' ever coming up in any of the official files, but maybe there is a connection."

 

"An old werewolf hunting family and a dead pack of werewolves," Stiles says. "It's not a total stretch."

 

"Yeah," the sheriff says. "That's even if the Argents were even in the area at the time. What do you know about Allison?"

 

"Nothing you don't," Stiles says. "I guess she's friends with Lydia? The only time I really remember ever seeing her was at Scott's lacrosse tryouts."

 

"Scott hasn't told you anything about her?" The sheriff asks.

 

"All he's told me is that she just moved here," Stiles says. "But between the full moon and him being pissed at me for not picking him up in the woods, he hasn't been telling me much of anything." The sheriff shakes his head and then gets up with a groan.

 

"Well," he says. "Melissa and I had a talk with him. Derek mostly just talked at him through us. So he knows what we think he should be doing. We'll see how it all shakes out. Maybe we're wrong about Allison and her family and Scott's biggest issue will be with his control."

 

"Speaking of, I don't think Deaton is the right person to be in charge of Scott's werewolf education," Stiles says. "He's the one that okayed the party on his first full moon, and look how that ended."

 

"Yeah, I agree," the sheriff says. "I keep telling Scott and Melissa to go to Derek, but Scott doesn't seem to like Derek much." Stiles has noticed that, though he's not entirely sure of the reason why. "Anyway, I'm off to bed. Like you should be."

 

Stiles nods and rises carefully from the couch to avoid moving Noah too much. He and the sheriff head upstairs, but it's still a long time before Stiles can fall asleep.

 

***

 

Stiles isn't sure about whether or not he's still driving Scott to school in the morning, but he drives to the McCall house at the usual time just in case.

 

Scott is waiting for him out on the sidewalk and Stiles stops the Jeep to let him in.

 

"So you told Derek Hale about Allison," Scott opens with. Stiles sighs, not looking forward to this conversation.

 

"Yup," Stiles says.

 

"Why would you do that?!" Scott exclaims. "Now Mom is saying I can't go out with her! And even your dad and Derek showed up last night!"

 

"It's not like their concerns aren't valid, Scott," Stiles says. "If Allison is a hunter, and her family are hunters, you're not safe with her."

 

"Pretty sure I'm safe from Allison," Scott scoffs. "She's, like, totally sweet. And she doesn't even know that I'm a werewolf."

 

"How do you know?" Stiles asks.

 

"It's not like I told her," Scott says. "That's not something you just spring on someone when you start dating. If I said something like that she'd think I'm nuts."

 

"Ever thought that maybe she started dating you because she already thinks or knows you're a werewolf and she's just trying to feel you out?" Stiles asks. "Dude, in any other circumstances I'd be happy that you got a new girlfriend. But this is a weird situation and I really think we need to listen to the people who know more about this stuff than we do."

 

"Like Derek Hale?" Scott asks sharply. "Like he knows anything."

 

"Dude's a born werewolf," Stiles says. "Pretty sure he's the closest thing we have to an expert right now. And, look, you literally, like, just met Allison. You don't know anything about her or her family. Just cool it with her until we know for sure that she isn't planning to kill you."

 

"She's completely innocent, Stiles!" Scott exclaims. "Don't act like you know anything about her. You haven't even met her. I would've introduced you two if you came to the party, but you didn't."

 

"Scott, you're my friend and I want you to be safe," Stiles says. "That's why I'm warning you about Allison. That's why everyone else is warning you about Allison."

 

"If you were really my friend you'd want me to be happy," Scott mutters.

 

Stiles grips tight to the steering wheel. "I'll settle for alive."

 

***

 

From: ScottBro

You don't need to drive me home today. Getting a ride with Allison.

 

Stiles gets the text a little after lunch and groans when he reads it. He relays the message to both the sheriff and Derek and then promptly makes it not his problem. If Scott wants to ignore his advice, then that's on him.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Have you and my dad made any progress on the alpha yet?

 

From: Derek Hale

Not really. A few more mutilated animals have turned up, but that's not a whole lot to go on.

 

***

 

Stiles hears about Scott dislocating Jackson's shoulder from Jackson himself.

 

It's an unexpected turn of events, to say the least.

 

But hey, Stiles is a teen father, werewolves are a thing now, and Scott isn't talking to him. Apparently nothing is out of the realm of possibility at the moment.

 

He's loading Noah into the Jeep in the back parking lot when Jackson suddenly shows up, arm in a sling and glaring daggers.

 

"Seriously!" Jackson explodes. "What the hell is going on with McCall!?"

 

"Why would I know?" Stiles asks. "Pretty sure you're seeing more of him than I am these days." It's been a few days since the day Scott got a ride home with Allison. Scott has been getting rides to and from school with Allison since then, despite everyone's warnings, and he and Stiles haven't been talking.

 

The whole thing makes Stiles more annoyed than truly upset, because it feels to Stiles like Scott has chosen Allison over him almost out of spite. Also, since Allison is friends with Lydia, Scott has been hanging around with Lydia as well, which makes Stiles uncomfortably angry. And on top of all that, Scott doesn't seem at all invested in the mystery of the alpha, or learning how to deal with being a werewolf.

 

"Lucky me," Jackson snaps. "He dislocated my shoulder in yesterday's practice."

 

"Scott did?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yes," Jackson says. "And he was weird about the whole thing. There's something weird going on with him. If you're not getting him drugs-"

 

"I'm not!" Stiles interrupts sharply. "And don't even suggest I am because if that starts a rumour and it gets back to my father I'll have a social worker on my ass so fast I won't have time to even panic!" He doesn't realize that he's advancing on Jackson and basically getting up in his face until Jackson takes a step back, looking a bit bewildered. Stiles clears his throat awkwardly and returns to his spot at the Jeep's open back door.

 

"Okay, fine," Jackson says. "But I'm going to get to the bottom of this. It was bad enough that he made first line by some freak miracle, but now he's literally causing physical damage to people. He's no good to the team if he's gonna be pulling shit like this." He whirls around with one last glare and stalks off across the parking lot. Stiles leans heavily against the Jeep and watches him go.

 

"Jesus," Stiles mutters. Because the last thing they all need is Jackson poking his nose into the werewolf clusterfuck.

 

***

***

 

Chapter Text

Stiles' father shakes him awake Friday morning.

 

"Whaz happen?" Stiles slurs out. It's so early his alarm hasn't even gone off. It takes a few seconds for everything to come into focus around him. And he doesn't like the look of the sheriff's worried face when his vision clears.

 

"We have a problem," the sheriff says.

 

"Oh god, what now?" Stiles asks.

 

"There's been a... incident," the sheriff says with a wince. "And Scott's missing."

 

"What!?" Stiles exclaims.

 

"Listen to me very carefully," the sheriff says, putting both hands on Stiles' shoulders. Stiles' heart goes into overdrive and he can feel a cold sweat break out across his forehead. "We have a body."

 

"Oh god," Stiles chokes out.

 

"It's not Scott," the sheriff quickly reassures him. "It's not. It's one of the bus drivers for the school. But he looks like he was torn up bad. I need you to stay home today."

 

"Wait, what?" Stiles asks.

 

"I'm not sure what exactly happened here," the sheriff says. "Derek is out looking for Scott, Melissa is watching out for him at the hospital, and I'll be coordinating things from the station. I need you to stay here in case Scott comes by." Stiles processes all this, but it's only winding him up tighter.

 

"Do you think Scott's involved in this?" He asks.

 

"I don't know," the sheriff says. "I already snuck Derek into the crime scene for some" -the sheriff waves his hand vaguely- "werewolfy detective work. He said he could definitely tell that Scott was there, but that he wasn't alone."

 

"The alpha," Stiles says.

 

"Maybe," the sheriff says. "Maybe not. We're still looking into it."

 

"Is anyone watching the school?" Stiles asks. "Or Allison's house?"

 

"Yes," the sheriff says. "Deputies are watching both places, and also this house. Just stay inside and keep the doors locked. I'll call you in sick and let the daycare know to not expect Noah."

 

"Be careful, Dad," Stiles says.

 

"You too."

 

***

 

Stiles is hyperaware of his phone's silence as he gets up and starts his day. He's too anxious to try going back to sleep, and he doesn't want to wake Noah this early, so he just goes downstairs to search out some breakfast.

 

A dead body.

 

Another dead body.

 

Stiles thinks about what he knows about Laura Hale's body. She'd been torn in half by what seemed to be a wild animal. Stiles knows that the official report says 'mountain lion', but he also knows that everyone in the know suspects that it was actually the alpha that had done it. And Laura's had been the only humanoid body to turn up until now.

 

Is there a reason for that? Or maybe the bus driver had just been unfourtunate enough to be wandering alone in the woods, like Laura had presumably been.

 

Like Scott also had. Although Scott hadn't been viciously attacked, he'd been bitten.

 

Why?

 

Stiles ponders that while chewing absently on a Pop-Tart. He's suddenly startled back to awareness when Noah starts crying. Stiles shoves the rest of the Pop-Tart in his mouth and bounds up the stairs while sending a text to his father.

 

To: Daddio

Bus driver guy died in the woods?

 

It's a few minutes until he hears back. In that time he's gotten Noah changed and dressed for the day.

 

From: Daddio

Bus parking lot at the school. Most likely got him while he was getting ready to start his route.

 

From: Daddio

Still no sign of Scott but Derek says he's on his trail.

 

To: Daddio

Keep me posted.

 

From: Daddio

[thumb's up emoji]

 

***

 

Stiles lugs Noah's playpen up to his bedroom from the living room and sets Noah in it to keep him out of the way. Noah rolls onto his back and sucks at a bottle as Stiles tries to clear off the bulletin board in his room without making a total mess. He still ends up having to chase pushpins all over the floor (because the only thing worse than accidentally finding one later on with his foot is Noah finding one). In the end he lugs out the vacuum cleaner and does a quick sweep just in case.

 

Once that's done, he has to change Noah's diaper. And then Noah doesn't want to go back in the playpen, so Stiles holds him while he contemplates the now empty bulletin board.

 

"Looks like you're gonna be my assistant today, Tiny Pants," Stiles says. Noah smiles at him and slaps a hand against Stiles' cheek. "Glad you agree."

 

Stiles checks his phone again, no news. He stares at the empty notification screen for a few moments before calling Derek. As soon as the call connects, he puts it on speaker and moves the phone out of Noah's reach.

 

"Stiles?" Derek asks.

 

"Hi," Stiles says. "I know you're still looking for Scott, but do you have a minute to answer a few questions?"

 

"Make it quick," Derek says.

 

"Right," Stiles says. "Do we know for sure that the alpha killed both the bus driver and your, uh, your sister?" Only after the question leaves his mouth does Stiles realize how awkward that is. But if Derek is feeling uncomfortable about it, Stiles can't tell from his voice.

 

"Yes," he says. "I could smell him on Laura, and the whole area where the bus driver was killed."

 

"So you really don't think Scott did it?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Derek says. "I'm not sure he could, but I could also be wrong. I don't know what your dad told you about the body-"

 

"Just that it was torn up," Stiles says. Noah starts chewing on Stiles' shoulder and Stiles starts hunting around for a clean pacifier. Although maybe that's a sign that he should shower and get dressed.

 

"He was," Derek says. "But not in a way that struck me as out of control, like I would expect with a newly-turned werewolf."

 

"So you're saying this was a controlled mauling," Stiles says. He can't find a pacifier, which makes no sense as Stiles is pretty sure he own about 50 of them, so he just resigns himself to being a chew toy.

 

"Yeah," Derek says. "Same with... Laura."

 

"I had a thought," Stiles says, ignoring Derek's small pause. "Feel free to tell me if I'm off-track." Derek grunts something that sounds vaguely agreeing. "But were Laura and the bus driver specific targets? I mean, they're the only two dead human victims so far. Everything else has been animals. And then there's Scott, who was just bitten instead of killed." There's silence on the other line for a bit. Stiles double checks that the call hasn't dropped, it hasn't.

 

"Derek?" He asks.

 

"I'd always figured that the alpha went after Laura because she was an alpha," Derek says.

 

"What's that mean?" Stiles asks. He still hadn't gotten around to asking Derek about what being an alpha actually meant in the grand scheme of things.

 

"One way for a beta werewolf to become an alpha is to kill an alpha," Derek says. "A beta that kills an alpha automatically receives their alpha spark."

 

"So the alpha we're looking for wasn't always an alpha, is what you're saying."

 

"Exactly." Stiles contemplates this for a second.

 

"So... did the alpha lure Laura here to kill her? If so, it means that the alpha knew her. Or, at least, knew of her. Hold on." He sits down at the desk and moves Noah to his lap, which detaches him from Stiles' shirt. Noah starts wailing and Stiles quickly moves him back to his previous position. He hopes he isn't cutting another tooth.

 

"What?" Derek asks over the phone. Stiles ignores him. He grabs a loose sheet of paper and a pen and starts scribbling notes on it.

 

"The alpha lured Laura back here with the revenge symbol to steal her alpha powers," Stiles says, talking quickly. "That means he knew that he would be able to a) get her here, and b) take her out. Then he bit Scott, which was more of a wrong place –wrong time kinda situation, but didn't kill him. And now there's this dead bus driver, who Dad says was killed at the school. But why would the alpha be at the school? And what's the purpose of the revenge symbol? Revenge for what?"

 

There's no answer from Derek, and Stiles checks his phone to see that the call has ended. Either Derek hung up on him or the signal dropped. Stiles pushes aside his phone and studies his messy notes, trying to see the bigger picture of what's happening right now.

 

He needs to know who the bus driver is.

 

But first he has to find something else to occupy Noah so Stiles can have two hands to work with.

 

***

 

From: Daddio

Found Scott. He's with Derek. I'll be by soon with more info. Do NOT leave the house.

 

From: Daddio

I'm serious.

 

***

 

Stiles pounces as soon as the sheriff walks through the door.

 

"I need more details about the bus driver," he demands.

 

"Hello to you too, Stiles," the sheriff says. "I'm fine. How's Noah?" Stiles hands him the baby and then whirls away into the kitchen. Noah squeals loudly.

 

"Oof," the sheriff says. "Aren't we all excited today." He tickles Noah under the chin, making the baby giggle, as he walks into the kitchen. Stiles knows when the sheriff spots the kitchen table by the tone of his voice when he says "Stiles."

 

"I've been working on this all morning," Stiles says, waving an arm at the table. The table is buried under Stiles' bulletin board, loose paper, pushpins, pens, markers, and yarn.

 

"Why is it all over the table?" The sheriff asks.

 

"Noah needed to eat and I didn't want to lose my rhythm," Stiles says. He gestures to Noah's high chair, which is still messy from what the sheriff presumes is his lunch. "What happened with Scott?" The sheriff takes a seat in one of the kitchen chairs and scoots away from the table a bit to keep Noah from reaching out and grabbing anything. Stiles sits in one of the other chairs and folds his arms on the table in front of him. He's sure he looks mildly insane, he's been running his hands through his hair repeatedly and he's sure there's some part of Noah's lunch smeared over one cheek, but his father is kind enough to not mention it.

 

"So Scott was out in the preserve," the sheriff says. "Derek finally tracked him down and brought him back home. Scott actually went without complaining, so I think whatever happened really freaked him out."

 

"What did happen?" Stiles asks.

 

"From what I gathered, the alpha was trying to call Scott out," the sheriff says.

 

Stiles blinks at him. "I don't know what that means."

 

"Me either," the sheriff sighs. "Not completely. I'm gonna go over it more with Derek later. But the main gist is that the alpha and Scott have some sort of bond because they're alpha and beta, and the alpha used the bond to try and call Scott to him. Looks like Scott ended up going, but he wasn't totally conscious when he did. To hear Scott tell it, it was like he was having a dream. Something to do with Allison, I guess. It's all very confusing. Derek has taken over with all that so it's all out of my hands." Stiles writes something on the nearest scrap of paper.

 

"So the alpha has a connection with Scott," he says. "If the alpha can somehow control Scott with it, then it's really important that Scott learns control."

 

"Derek's department," the sheriff says. "I think Scott's plan is to work with both him and Deaton on it. In the meantime, I'm focusing on the bus driver."

 

"How's that even gonna work?" Stiles asks. "It's not like you can put 'werewolf' in the report."

 

"Once we rule that it wasn't a homicide we're just gonna say it was a mountain lion again," the sheriff says. "Same as we did with Laura. That's all we can do, really."

 

"Right," Stiles says. "I still think we need to look into the bus driver though. There may be something there."

 

"Is that what all this is about?" The sheriff waves his free hand over the mess on the table.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "So far the alpha had been killing animals. And then Laura's body turned up, and now the bus driver. But there's also Scott, who was attacked but not mauled. I think the alpha is targeting certain people, but I'm not sure why."

 

"Makes sense," the sheriff says. "Tell you what, I need a bit of a break from all this excitement for a bit. How about I hang out with Noah for a bit while you work on this. After you shower and do whatever. Have you eaten lunch or anything?"

 

"I'll get on it," Stiles says. "Thanks, Dad."

 

"We'll regroup later," the sheriff says. "I'm not sure what's actually happening right now, but I don't think it's gonna be over any time soon."

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles stands in his room and contemplates his bulletin board, which is back up on the wall. He's cleaned and organized it since this morning, and there isn't much on there now but he's still working on it.

 

They'd gotten the identity of the dead bus driver earlier that day: Garrison Meyers. No one that Stiles recognizes, though he hasn't taken the bus to school in years. Not that he'd remember the bus driver if he did, he supposes.

 

There's a picture of Garrison Meyers on the bulletin board next to a picture of Laura Hale. Above them is a slip of paper that says PEOPLE VICTIMS. ANIMAL VICTIMS, which lists the list of mutilated animals reported so far – including the deer with the spiral – that were known or suspected to come from the alpha, is tacked underneath the PEOPLE VICTIMS. Scott's picture is on the other side of the bulletin board under the heading of BETA. The pushpins holding each picture to the board is connected with yarn to the pushpin holding up a sheet of paper with a question mark on it labelled ALPHA.

 

There's two other slips of paper labelled ARGENTS and HALE FIRE tacked to the side of the bulletin board, but not connected to anything because Stiles isn't sure where they fit. If they fit anywhere at all.

 

He takes a picture of it with his phone and sends it to Derek. He doesn't get a reply, not that he expected one because he's pretty sure Derek is still at Scott's house.

 

He hasn't heard anything from Scott either. But he's still not sure if it's because Scott is still avoiding him, or if he's just that busy.

 

***

 

Scott finally contacts Stiles mid-morning on Saturday.

 

From: ScottBro

I'm officially on house arrest except for school and lacrosse.

 

From: ScottBro

And Derek is still trying to convince Mom to keep me off the team.

 

Stiles reads both texts a few times. Then waits to see if anything else comes up.

 

He's a bit put-out that neither of the texts contains an apology. He's starting to think that Scott doesn't think he needs one.

 

To: ScottBro

What about Allison?

 

From: ScottBro

Still pretty sure she's not a hunter. Derek's just being paranoid.

 

Stiles sighs hard through his nose. He's not sure what it's gonna take to get it through Scott's thick skull that he needs to be more careful. He never knew that his friend would be the type to lose his head so thoroughly over a pretty girl.

 

From: ScottBro

Also I need a ride to school on Monday. And after that until I can convince Mom that Allison isn't a threat.

 

Stiles has to resist the urge to slam his head down on his desk.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Does the name Garrison Meyers mean anything to you?

 

From: Derek Hale

No

 

***

 

Stiles picks Scott up Monday morning and looks him over as he climbs into the Jeep. Scott looks fine, in good spirits. Not at all like someone who maybe witnessed a murder a few days earlier.

 

"So tell me about the bus driver," Stiles says, as soon as they're back on the road.

 

"Not much to tell," Scott says with a shrug. "I don't really remember what happened. It was kind of like a dream until Derek found me in the preserve. He's really a huge asshole, you know."

 

"Who? Derek?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah!" Scott exclaims. "Like, the first thing he did when he found me was throw me into a tree and then start yelling at me about control! What a dick." Stiles blinks in surprise at that, because his interactions with Derek have always been fairly calm. Although, to be fair, all of his interactions with Derek (aside from the first and only time he'd come over to the Stilinski house) have been over the phone.

 

"Yeah, that does sound like a dick move," Stiles says. "But he is right that you need to learn control. This is, what, the second time you've run off to the woods because of werewolf shenanigans?"

 

"I'm trying!" Scott insists. "It's just hard. It's like... there's this uncontrollable force inside me and I'm still trying to figure out how to hold it back."

 

"How've you been holding it back so far?" Stiles asks.

 

"I dunno," Scott says. "Sometimes I just close my eyes and think real hard about Allison. That usually helps." Stiles resists the urge to roll his eyes.

 

"Getting back to the bus driver," Stiles says. "Can you explain more about what that was all about?"

 

"I don't even know, man," Scott says. "It was like... I was dreaming, like, really vividly. About Allison."

 

"TMI, dude," Stiles says.

 

"Not like that!" Scott exclaims. "But I was dreaming about her, and we were on a school bus. And everything was fine, and then suddenly it wasn't. It was really, really weird." Stiles doesn't say anything.

 

"It was kind of scary," Scott continues. "I wasn't sure what was happening, but I felt like I was in danger and that I had to run."

 

"Derek says he doesn't think you actually hurt anyone," Stiles offers. "He said that it was the alpha."

 

"Yeah," Scott says. "He explained that to me and Mom. And then he went off again about Allison. I had to call her and tell her that my mom said that I can't get rides with her anymore and now she thinks Mom doesn't like her. They've never even met!" Stiles bites his lips to keep from saying anything about it one way or the other.

 

When they pull up at the school, Scott shoots out of the Jeep without saying anything and beelines straight to where Stiles can see Allison standing on the front steps of the school.

 

***

 

It seems like Scott is back on speaking terms with Stiles. Although most of Scott's communication seems to be him complaining that Derek is ruining his life by trying to take Allison and lacrosse away from him.

 

The whole thing frustrates Stiles to no end because Scott's focus is narrowed on Allison to the point where he's ignoring almost everything else happening around him. He doesn't seem to care that there are more important things going on outside of Allison or playing lacrosse, and he doesn't even ask anything about the alpha.

 

He certainly doesn't seem interested in Stiles' investigation on the subject because the one time Stiles brings it up, Scott waves it off as him buying into Derek's paranoia and being on Derek's side.

 

And it doesn't take long for Stiles to realize that there are even sides to take, and that he's firmly on Derek's side because Derek will at least communicate with him on everything that's happening. And he seems to take Stiles' theories and concerns seriously.

 

Stiles likes that he has someone else other than his father to lean on in this whole mess, because Scott's proven himself to be unreliable in that department.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Do you think maybe the bus driver's death was an accident and the alpha was trying to turn him like he did Scott?

 

From: Derek Hale

No, too much carnage for that. Even if the guy had tried to fight an alpha would've been able to overpower him and bite him easy.

 

***

 

To: ScottBro

For the 100th time, you really need to stop being so obvious about the werewolf thing at lacrosse. Jackson is really getting suspicious of you and he's bothering me about it.

 

From: ScottBro

Just tell him to knock it off, he'll get bored of it eventually.

 

***

 

Stiles comes out of school one afternoon to find Jackson hanging around his Jeep again.

 

"No," Stiles says, pointing with his free hand (which isn't entirely free considering the diaper bag hanging from the crook of his elbow). "Whatever it is this time, I don't care."

 

"You might be interested to hear that I may have figured out Scott's source," Jackson says, lowering his voice as Stiles gets closer.

 

"His what? Never mind, here." Stiles thrusts the diaper bag at Jackson, who seems too surprised to not take it. "If you're going to annoy me you might as well make yourself useful."

 

"I'm not your maid, Stilinski," Jackson says, but he keeps holding the diaper bag as Stiles manoeuvres Noah in his carseat into the back seat of the Jeep.

 

"Whatever," Stiles says. "What were you saying about Scott?"

 

"I said I'm pretty sure I figured out his source," Jackson says. "You know, for the steroids he's clearly on."

 

"The steroids I already told you he's not on?" Stiles asks. "Whatever, I'll humour you. What have you 'figured out'?" He finishes securing the car seat and leans back against the Jeep, leaving the door open for now. Noah looks up at them both, sucking contentedly on a pacifier. Jackson shoots a quick look at him but otherwise ignores him. He hands the diaper bag back to Stiles.

 

"I was driving around the other day and saw McCall out near one of the entrances to the preserve," Jackson says. "He was there with some older guy, and it looked like they were arguing. And I've never seen this guy before, but he definitely looks like someone who'd be selling steroids to underage kids."

 

"And you'd know about that, would you?" Stiles asks. Jackson glares at him. "Relax, if you saw who I think you did, the guy's not a dealer. Did he have dark hair, a leather jacket, and murder-brows?"

 

"Uh," Jackson squints at him. "There was dark hair and a leather jacket. Also an expensive looking car."

 

"Yeah," Stiles says with a nod. "That was Derek. He's from out of town, working with my dad on something. No steroids involved."

 

"If he's working with your dad, what's he doing getting in arguments with McCall out in the woods?" Jackson asks. Stiles just shrugs.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

One of the guys at school saw you arguing with Scott and now thinks you're dealing him steroids

 

From: Derek Hale

??

 

To: Derek Hale

A better explanation of Scott's new sports superpowers than werewolves I guess

 

To: Derek Hale

This is the same guy whose shoulder he dislocated at lacrosse practice btw

 

From: Derek Hale

Between the Argents and lacrosse it's like he's trying to get caught

 

To: Derek Hale

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

From: Derek Hale

??

 

***

***

Chapter Text

To: ScottBro

Have to take Noah in for his shots tomorrow, can't drive you to school.

 

From: ScottBro

Sucks dude. Are you still coming to the game tmr?

 

To: ScottBro

What game??

 

Stiles is not at all keeping track of the lacrosse schedule. He has no idea when the games are, and half the time he doesn't even know when the practices are (he no longer drives Scott home in the afternoons since Scott tends to disappear once school lets out, most likely to be with Allison).

 

He's still not sure that Scott should be playing lacrosse while he's still not in full control of himself, but he does agree to attend that Thursday's game, which will be Scott's first game.

 

Of course, the sheriff is working that night so Stiles will have to bring Noah with him. Noah, who will be getting his six-month shots earlier that day and may or may not still be put out about it by game time.

 

Although he'll probably recover before Stiles will, if any of his other immunization appointments are any indication.

 

There's a reason Stiles booked the whole day off school for it.

 

***

 

"So I'll be going to the lacrosse game tomorrow night," Stiles mentions to the sheriff when he brings him his supper at the station. The station seems busier than usual, which would make sense with two bodies having been recently found in the area, even if they are officially put down as animal attacks.

 

"Oh?" The sheriff asks. He opens the takeout bag Stiles hands him and frowns at the healthier menu options Stiles had gotten for him. "You know I'm working tomorrow night, right?"

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "I'll take Noah with me. I probably won't stay the whole time anyway, so he'll be fine." He pulls some unsalted fries out of his own takeout bag and rips one into pieces for Noah, sitting on his lap. He pokes a piece into Noah's mouth and Noah gums at it. The screwed up expression on his face as he tries to decide whether or not he likes it makes the sheriff laugh. Stiles shoves a few curly fries into his own mouth, being careful to keep them out of the baby's sight.

 

"Be careful out there," the sheriff says, picking at his own supper. "We don't know what'll happen with the you-know-what."

 

"I'm sure Derek'll be there lurking," Stiles says. "Scott says that he does that at practice sometimes. Just hangs out in the woods near the field and keeps reminding him to focus on keeping calm or whatever. Super hearing's apparently better than walkie-talkies."

 

"I suppose that would explain the couple of calls I got a while ago about a strange man hanging around on school grounds," the sheriff says.

 

"That is delightfully hilarious," Stiles says. "Also Jackson Whittemore thinks Scott is on steroids and Derek's his dealer."

 

"Christ," the sheriff says, rubbing a hand across his forehead. "Anyway, there will be a police presence at the game because of the bus driver thing, but they won't be prepared for any supernatural happenings, so you need to be really careful whether Derek is around or not." Noah accepts another piece of french fry, but that seems to be his limit so Stiles hands him off to the sheriff so he can prepare a bottle with the aid of the sheriff's personal office coffee pot. (A decent workaround Stiles had accidentally discovered early on in Noah's infancy.)

 

"Did you figure out anything else about the bus driver?" Stiles asks.

 

"Nothing that jumps out as interesting," the sheriff says. The door to the office is closed, but he and Stiles still make sure to keep their voices down. "The official cause of death is going to be an animal attack, so I can't really justify allocating more resources to investigating it."

 

"Hmph," Stiles snorts, fiddling with the coffee maker.

 

"On another note," the sheriff says, "I'll be bringing the Hale fire files home with me tonight. I'll leave them in your room. Go through them and maybe something will jump out at you. Fresh pair of eyes and all that."

 

"Is that even allowed?" Stiles asks.

 

"Eh, it's technically a closed case," the sheriff says. "Also, I am the one in charge. Worst case scenario is that you won't find anything and I'll just bring them back here."

 

***

 

The less said about Noah's immunization appointment, the better.

 

At least Stiles hadn't cried this time.

 

He's on his way out to the Jeep, carrying Noah in his arms because they both need the comfort, when one of the hospital map posters catches his eye. He's not sure what makes him decide to take a closer look at it, but he studies it for a bit.

 

His gaze eventually falls on a hallway labelled 'Long Term Care Ward', and he suddenly thinks of Peter Hale, the only other Hale fire survivor aside from Laura and Derek. His dad had said that Peter had never fully recovered from his injuries after the fire. If Peter is still in Beacon Hills, then the long term care ward of Beacon Hills Memorial is where he'd be.

 

Stiles wonders if Derek's been to visit Peter since he's been back.

 

***

 

Noah is still cranky by the time Stiles gets him home in the early afternoon. He doesn't want to be placated, but he doesn't want to be put down either, so Stiles is forced to lug him around like a particularly angry sack of flour.

 

"Look, I'm sorry," Stiles tells him, as he paces circles around his bedroom rubbing Noah's back. "But it's for your own good. We like not dying from preventable diseases. Being healthy is nice." Noah grumbles at him, his face smushed against Stiles' neck.

 

"Yeah, yeah," Stiles says. "I suck."

 

He does another turn around the room and then pauses to look at his bulletin board. Which has him thinking about the two boxes of files on the Hale fire shoved under his desk. He checks the time and figures he has enough time to maybe skim through one of the folders.

 

Although there's also a possibility of him being sucked into his investigation and missing the lacrosse game, which would piss off Scott and probably cause him to give Stiles the silent treatment again.

 

He leaves the boxes alone for now and instead pulls out his phone to Google whether or not it's too early to bribe Noah with sugary treats.

 

***

 

The lacrosse game is in the early evening, late enough that Stiles and Noah have a chance to eat supper before they head out. Though supper still somehow ends up being messy enough that by the time Stiles makes it to the lacrosse field the stands are practically full and the game is about to start.

 

Stiles eyes the full stands as he wonders where to sit. Noah is quiet and wide-eyed in his arms, and Stiles isn't sure if he's scared of the noisy crowd or entranced by it.

 

"Stiles." Stiles turns as the sound of his name to find Allison Argent suddenly next to him. She's standing a little ways away from him, but she's close enough that Stiles notices her dimples when she smiles shyly at him. From a physical standpoint, at least, Stiles can tell why Scott likes her so much. She's pretty cute. But hopefully her personality is absolutely amazing if Scott's prepared to literally risk his life to date her.

 

"Hi," Stiles tells her. "You're Allison, right? Scott's girlfriend."

 

"Yeah," Allison says. "And you're Scott's best friend, though we haven't really gotten a chance to meet before now, I guess."

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "I don't have a lot of free time." He gestures with Noah, who has his gazed fixed on the crowed where someone is waving a homemade flag.

 

"Oh yeah, of course," Allison says. "Scott mentioned you had a kid. Must be hard, a baby in high school." Stiles shrugs.

 

"Not having a social life helps," Stiles says with a grin. "I think this is the first after-school event I've been at since he was born."

 

"Must be exciting," Allison says. "Do you want to come sit with us? I'm here with my dad and my friend, but there should still be some room for you guys." Allison points into the stands and Stiles looks over. There's a man with greying hair staring down at Stiles with piercing blue eyes, who Stiles guesses is Allison's father. Who is most likely a hunter. So, no thank you.

 

Sitting next to him is Lydia, who is looking down at the field in a way that makes Stiles thinks she's deliberately not looking over in his direction. That's another no.

 

Though that does make Stiles question Allison's motives a bit. Did Scott not mention that Lydia is Noah's birth mother? Or does Allison know and is trying to suss him out for something. It's hard to tell.

 

"Uhh," Stiles says, resisting the urge to just do an about-face and run off. "I think I'll need to get a seat near the ground in case I need to, y'know, get away quick. Diaper change and whatever, y'know?"

 

"Oh," Allison says. "Oh! Right. That makes sense. Well, I hope we can hang out some other time. I'd really like to get to know Scott's friends." Someone on the field blows a whistle and then Allison is rushing off to her seat with a quick wave at Stiles. Stiles waves limply at her back before going to find an empty spot of bench near the ground, which he does on a completely different set of bleachers to the one Allison is sitting on.

 

***

 

Stiles picks up on there being a problem half-way through the game.

 

He's kept his focus on Scott the whole time, so he's seen all of Scott's tricks and skills. He has to admit, he's not doing a completely horrible job of toning things down. Sure, anyone who knew Scott before is still probably scratching their heads over his sudden new talent, but people not putting too much thought into things probably wouldn't pick up on much. There's no more backflips, at least.

 

Although, there's also a possible werewolf hunter in the crowd, so Stiles is still a bit nervous.

 

Noah does fairly well throughout the game. He seems to enjoy screaming with the crowd, waving his little arms in the air as Stiles stands him up on his thighs. Stiles only has to leave to change him once (Coach is gracious enough to let him use the locker room, though he does threaten to come for Stiles later if he leaves a mess). Stiles is finally starting to let himself relax when he thinks he sees a flash of yellow out on the field.

 

A flash of yellow that turns out to be an eye flash from Scott. Because of course it is.

 

Stiles stiffens in his seat to keep from jumping up, his eyes following Scott around the field. There are a few times when Scott's movements seem jerky and awkward and Stiles wonders what's going on. He turns his gaze away from the field and towards the surrounding forest. Is Derek Hale really out there keeping an eye on this?

 

Why did Scott ever think that playing in the game was a good idea?

 

Someone suddenly tackles Scott to the ground and a whistle blows. It seems to take a bit for Scott to get back to his feet. Stiles is pretty sure he's not injured, not with the werewolf abilities, but he is worried that Scott is starting to lose control.

 

But Scott does get to his feet eventually and the moment passes and the game continues.

 

Stiles absolutely does not relax.

 

***

 

"Hey! You made it!" Scott seems happy to see Stiles after the game. Stiles had hurried to the bench once the game ended, hoping to get there before Allison and Lydia. He makes it, barely, which gives him no time to ask about what happened during the game.

 

"Yup, here I am," Stiles says. "And I think even Noah had a good time." Though Noah seems to be flagging now, rubbing at his face with one hand and chewing on his hat that he'd pulled off earlier and refused to let Stiles put back on.

 

"It was awesome, wasn't it?" Scott asks. "Oh, hey, Allison!" Stiles moves out of the way to let Allison through. She goes right up to Scott's side and puts an arm around his waist. She kisses his cheek chastely, probably because her father is standing nearby and watching.

 

"You did such a good job!" Allison says, beaming at Scott. "Hi, Stiles."

 

"Hello," Stiles says. He gives a short, awkward wave. He spots a flash of red hair out of the corner of his eye and turns a bit to see Lydia approaching Jackson, who is wiping his face with a towel and glaring at Scott.

 

Stiles is pretty sure he will be hearing from him later. He turns back to Allison and Scott in time to see Allison reach out and brush a finger over one of Noah's hands. Noah blows a spit bubble.

 

"He's cute," Allison says. "How old is he?"

 

"Six months," Stiles answers.

 

"A fun age," a deep, male voice says from behind Stiles. Stiles' head snaps around to see Allison's father standing directly behind him, looking at Noah.

 

"Y- yeah," Stiles says. "Very."

 

"He talking yet?" Allison's father – the possible werewolf hunter - asks. "Allison was already saying a few things at that age, I remember."

 

"Dad!" Allison exclaims, her cheeks going red.

 

"Surprisingly not a whole lot," Stiles says with a nervous laugh. "Still mostly just noises now. My dad's already saying that he's dreading the day that there'll be two of us talking all the time."

 

"Your dad's the sheriff, is that right?" Allison's father asks. Stiles' heart starts racing. He's not sure what's happening right now. Scott suddenly looks towards the woods with a frown and shakes his head briefly. Stiles sees Allison's father watch that with a carefully blank expression and he wants to die a little. Luckily for him, Noah chooses that moment to throw his hat on the ground and start fussing.

 

"Right," Stiles says, rather loudly. "I'd better get him home. He's already had a pretty exciting day today. Needles and a lacrosse match. I'm just gonna…" He stoops down to grab Noah's hat and starts walking backwards in the direction of the parking lot. "It was nice meeting you Allison. Allison's dad." Allison hides a laugh behind her hand while her father just smiles and nods.

 

Stiles doesn't relax until he's in the Jeep and halfway home.

 

Even if it turns out that Allison's dad isn't a hunter, he gives off a slightly threatening vibe that Stiles doesn't like.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

You were at the game tn, right?

 

From: Derek Hale

Some of it

 

To: Derek Hale

You see Allison and her dad?

 

From: Derek Hale

Chris Argent

 

To: Derek Hale

You know who he is because he's a hunter right?

 

To: Derek Hale

RIGHT!?

 

***

***

Chapter Text

"Explain this!" This time Jackson hasn't even bothered to wait until after school to get Stiles alone. He's waiting in the back parking lot the morning after the lacrosse game when Stiles pulls up to drop off Noah.

 

"What?" Stiles asks. He's halfway out of the Jeep when something hits him in the chest and falls to the ground. Stiles looks down, Jackson has thrown a lacrosse glove at him. "No, seriously, what?"

 

"Look at it," Jackson says, pointing. "Look at that and give me your theory, because nothing I'm coming up with is making any sense." Stiles arches an eyebrow at Jackson and bends down to pick up the glove. In the Jeep's back seat, Noah starts shrieking.

 

"Oh hell, here," Stiles says. He throws the glove back to Jackson, who catches it easily (of course), and opens the Jeep's door to take Noah out of the car seat. He props Noah on one hip and then turns back to Jackson. "Show me what you're so excited about."

 

"This," Jackson turns the glove and shoves it finger-first at Stiles' face. Stiles doesn't know what he's supposed to be looking for, but then he sees the holes in the glove's fingertips.

 

"Oh," he says.

 

"Yeah, oh," Jackson says. "What the hell is going on here? This is one of Danny's gloves, but I know McCall was the one using it last night. And now there's these holes in it. And I know Danny didn't do it because he takes care of his equipment." Stiles narrows his eyes at the glove. Noah reaches out and makes a grab for it. He misses, and then starts whining when Jackson moves the glove away.

 

"You don't want that, Tiny Pants," Stiles says, jigging Noah on his hip. "You don't know where it's been." Jackson looks at the glove and frowns, then makes a 'eh' face and shrugs. Then he glares at Stiles.

 

"Seriously, what is this?" he asks. "This isn't steroids. What the fuck is going on?"

 

"It's…" Stiles runs a hand through his hair and then gestures uselessly with it. "It's not steroids. It's not drugs. I can't tell you what it is."

 

"You know what it is," Jackson insists.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "But I can't tell you. Like, not allowed to tell you." Jackson gives Stiles a searching look and then the fight seems to go out of him.

 

"This." Jackson waves the glove in Stiles' face. "This is weird. And potentially dangerous. Something clearly pushed out of the glove from the inside."

 

"Yeah, yeah, I get it," Stiles says. Noah starts fussing and wriggling in Stiles' hold, throwing his head back so that Stiles has to hold him with both arms to keep him from falling.

 

"What's wrong with him?" Jackson asks, edging away.

 

"Got up on the wrong side of the crib," Stiles says. Because Noah had been cranky all morning, to the point where Stiles had ended up taking his temperature just in case, which Noah really hadn't liked. "Anyway, don't worry about Scott, I'll deal with it."

 

"Any more shit like this," Jackson says, gesturing with the glove, "and I'll be arguing with Coach to get him off the team. This is nuts. We can't make it to State or playoffs if I have to be worried about the other players around Scott. You know he almost completely wiped someone else out at practice? Whatever he's on to be suddenly good at sports, he's not handling it well."

 

And wasn't that an understatement?

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

We have a problem re: Scott

 

From: Derek Hale

I'm aware

 

To: Derek Hale

No, like, a different one.

 

To: Derek Hale

The captain of the lacrosse team is worried about what Scott can do

 

From: Derek Hale

And I should care why?

 

To: Derek Hale

Because he just brought me the glove Scott was using last night and it has puncture holes in the fingertips

 

To: Derek Hale

He keeps bugging me for answers and I don't know what to tell him

 

From: Derek Hale

Don't tell him anything, I'll deal with him

 

To: Derek Hale

Are you gonna deal with Allison's dad too? I think he knows something.

 

From: Derek Hale

I'll think of something. For now watch your back

 

To: Derek Hale

Do you think Allison knows something?

 

From: Derek Hale

Don't be alone with her

 

***

 

Stiles is in the middle of a quiz in chemistry class when the classroom door opens to reveal Quinn from the daycare. Stiles notices and rises halfway from his chair.

 

"Can I help you?" Mr Harris asks from his desk, where he's been observing the test-taking students for the past fifteen minutes. Quinn looks over the rows of students before turning to Mr Harris.

 

"I'm looking for Stiles Stilinski," Quinn says.

 

"I'm here!" Stiles exclaims, shooting to his feet. This is the first time that someone from the daycare has come looking for him in class. With the way Noah had been acting this morning, this turn of events has Stiles worried.

 

"Mr Stilinski is currently in the middle of a test," Mr Harris says.

 

 

"Not important!" Stiles exclaims, shoving his things in his schoolbag. "What's wrong?" Quinn looks back at Mr Harris and opens her mouth, but doesn't say anything. By then everyone in the class is watching Stiles as he stumbles up to Mr Harris' desk and drops his half-finished quiz on it.

 

"Mr Stilinski, I do not make a habit of accepting half-finished work," Mr Harris says. "If you leave now I'll have to mark you down for a failure."

 

"Go right ahead," Stiles says. Like he cares about a chemistry quiz when something could be wrong with his son. Mr Harris can shove it.

 

"I'll have to call your father too," Mr Harris calls as Stiles practically pushes Quinn out of the classroom.

 

"Knock yourself out!" he calls back over his shoulder.

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Noah running a fever, probs vaccine-related. Taking him home early.

 

To: Daddio

Also might get a call from Harris later.

 

From: Daddio

I'm almost afraid to know how those two things are connected.

 

From: Daddio

Hope Noah's doing okay. Call me if you need anything.

 

***

 

Stiles kind of feels like an asshole when he gets home with Noah.

 

He knew this morning that Noah was a bit off and had taken him to school anyway. Even though his temperature had been normal, Stiles should've stayed home with him just in case.

 

The school nurse, who had looked over Noah at school, had assured Stiles that Noah was most likely suffering a common reaction to his immunizations and that Stiles had nothing to worry about.

 

But of course Stiles is going to worry. And he does.

 

Noah is warm and flushed when Stiles takes him out of the Jeep and into the house. His first order of business is to bathe Noah and get some water into him, per the nurse's orders.

 

Noah complains as Stiles takes him into the bathroom and starts the bath. He complains as Stiles undresses him. He complains very loudly as Stiles wrangles him into his bath seat in the water. Stiles tries to distract Noah with a rubber duck as he checks out the injection sites on Noah's legs. They're a bit red, but nothing out of the ordinary as reported by the school nurse and backed up by Google.

 

Noah, who is generally positive about baths, fusses and flails as Stiles wipes him down. It's a quick bath, and Noah is soon wrapped in a towel and crying into Stiles' neck. Stiles feels bad, and is still kicking himself about not seeing this coming and keeping Noah home.

 

He takes Noah's temperature again to the sounds of more crying. Still feverish. He puts Noah in a fresh diaper and a soft footed sleeper, wraps him in a blanket, and hunts in one of the changing table drawers for the baby Tylenol. He studies the box for a second before calling his father.

 

"What's wrong?" the sheriff asks.

 

"Baby Tylenol is what I should be giving him, right?" Stiles asks.

 

"Noah? Yeah," the sheriff says. "If he still has a fever."

 

"He does."

 

"Right, give him some now and then check again in a few hours. Do you want me to stay on the line?"

 

"… Yes."

 

Stiles puts the call on speaker and places the phone on the change table. Then he prepares the dose of Tylenol under Noah's slightly suspicious gaze, glancing back and forth between the instructions and the syringe to make sure he has the right amount.

 

"Okay, here I go," Stiles says. He holds up the syringe with the pink liquid in it (the box says the Tylenol is cherry-flavoured, which Stiles is betting is a lie but it's not like Noah knows what cherries taste like).

 

"Make sure you have a burp cloth or something handy," the sheriff says from the phone. Noah perks up at the sound of the sheriff's voice and looks around the room. Then seems offended when the sheriff doesn't appear. Stiles side-eyes the baby and then the syringe, then grabs a cloth from the change table.

 

Then he has the dilemma of not having enough hands, so he sits on the floor with Noah in his lap and holds the cloth under Noah's chin as he directs the syringe into Noah's mouth.

 

"Open up, Tiny Pants," Stiles sing-songs. He wiggles the tip of the syringe into Noah's mouth. Noah frowns up at him, but allows this. Stiles pushes the plunger on the syringe slowly and holds his breath, just waiting for Noah to spit the medicine out. The baby frowns and wrinkles his nose, but takes the medicine anyway, with only a little bit dribbling down his chin.

 

Stiles counts it as a win.

 

"Alright! Good job!" Stiles cheers when the syringe is empty.

 

"All good?" the sheriff asks.

 

"All good," Stiles confirms. He drops a kiss on Noah's head, Noah bats the syringe out of his hand. "Thanks, Dad."

 

"Anytime," the sheriff says. "Enjoy the rest of the afternoon, I'll see you boys later. Bye-bye, Noah!" Noah shrieks in the direction of the phone and the sheriff chuckles as he ends the call.

 

***

 

Fifteen minutes later finds Stiles and Noah curled up on the living room couch. Noah drowsily sucking water from a bottle, and Stiles rummaging one-handed through one of the boxes on the Hale fire.

 

It's time to find out if there's any evidence here someone overlooked of the fire being an arson, and if it can be connected to the Argents at all. Or connected to what's currently happening with the Alpha.

 

Stiles is flipping through some deputy's reports when his text alert goes off.

 

From: ScottBro

Dude, you go home?

 

To: ScottBro

Yeah, Noah's sick

 

From: ScottBro

Sucks dude

 

From: ScottBro

Guess what though?

 

To: ScottBro

?

 

From: ScottBro

Got an official date w Allison

 

From: ScottBro

Like, in public

 

To: ScottBro

Srsly? Pretty sure her dad is a hunter dude

 

From: ScottBro

Well, he's not coming on the date so it's fine

 

Stiles doubts that very much, but there's really nothing he can do about it short of chaining Scott up somewhere.

 

Although…

 

No, he doesn’t have any chains.

 

From: ScottBro

We're going bowling

 

To: ScottBro

What kind of first date is that?

 

From: ScottBro

I think it was Lydia's idea. We're doubling w her and Jackson

 

To: ScottBro

Why?

 

From: ScottBro

Allison and Lydia are like bffs now. And Allison says her parents don't like her going on dates with boys they don't really know. Even though she's almost 18 already.

 

From: ScottBro

Isn't that weird?

 

To: ScottBro

What I think is weird is you hanging out with Lydia

 

From: ScottBro

I'm not hanging out with Lydia. She's just gonna be there too.

 

"Ugh," Stiles says to himself. He tosses his phone to the side and scrubs a hand over his face. The text alert sounds but he doesn't check it. He's officially putting this out of his mind for now. He reaches into the file box and pulls out another folder. This one seems to be full of victim reports. He gets as far as reading that the youngest casualty was only a little over a year old before shutting the folder and pushing it off the couch.

 

He hugs Noah tighter to his chest and tries very hard not to picture a baby stuck in a basement, choking on smoke, with no way to escape.

 

***

 

The sheriff arrives home in the late afternoon bearing pizza.

 

"You're a saint!" Stiles exclaims, following the smell into the kitchen with Noah in his arms.

 

"Thanks," the sheriff says. "It's nice to be appreciated. How was your afternoon?"

 

"Meh," Stiles says, making a see-sawing motion with his hand. "Noah napped, I looked through the files, Scott texted that he has a date with Allison even though he should probably be staying away from her. Nothing too exciting."

 

"That boy," the sheriff sighs and shakes his head. "He's not gonna get the message until something happens to him, and then it'll be too late." He puts the pizza box on the table and Stiles approaches. The sheriff holds his arms out to Noah, who willingly goes over to his grandfather.

 

"Did Derek tell you about Allison's dad being a hunter?" Stiles asks.

 

"Sort of," the sheriff says. "He's been going off on his own more and more so I'm not entirely sure what he gets up to most of the time. But he did tell me that Allison's father, Chris Argent, is definitely a hunter, along with his wife Victoria."

 

"Oof," Stiles says. He grabs a slice of pizza and takes a bite out of it. The sheriff places the back of his hand on Noah's forehead and makes a considering noise. Noah grabs at his hand and squeals.

 

"Maybe some more Tylenol for him before you put him to bed and then he should be fine," the sheriff says.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "He seems to be doing better now. He'll probably be perfectly fine by tomorrow." He takes another bite of pizza. "So the box of files I looked through today was mostly about the victims and witness statements. Nothing really of interest there that I could tell."

 

"Yeah," the sheriff says. He sits down at the table and takes his own slice of pizza. Noah doesn't seem too interested in trying to grab it for himself so Stiles figures he's still feeling a little off. He moves over to the cupboard to look for the baby cereal, possibly he can interest Noah in some of that.

 

"Is Peter Hale still in Beacon Hills?" Stiles asks.

 

"As far as I know," the sheriff says. "Should still be in the long care ward at the hospital. He was still in pretty bad shape when Laura and Derek left town, and then they never came back for him so he's still there."

 

"Still in a coma?" Stiles asks.

 

"More like a persistent vegetative state," the sheriff says. "He looks conscious, but it's like he's not all there. Sad, really." Stiles makes an agreeing noise.

 

"I'm gonna properly look through everything this weekend," he says. "Hopefully something will jump out."

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Chains, are they good for containing werewolves?

 

From: Derek Hale

Sometimes. Mountain ash is better.

 

To: Derek Hale

I don't know what that is

 

From: Derek Hale

Ash from a rowan tree. Has some sort of magical properties. Werewolves can't pass through an unbroken line, it's like it creates a sort of barrier.

 

To: Derek Hale

Where would I find some of that.

 

From: Derek Hale

Deaton

 

***

 

To: Daddio

I need you to go to Deaton and get something from him called mountain ash

 

To: Daddio

Apparently it can contain werewolves in a barrier or something

 

From: Daddio

Should I tell him why you need it? Should I even ask you why you need it?

 

To: Daddio

Maybe don't mention me, he doesn't like me

 

***

 

Stiles is flipping through folders in the second file box late Saturday night in between half-heartedly replying to texts from Scott. Though Scott has been going on and on about how perfect Allison is for the past 10 minutes and that hasn't really required any responses.

 

From: ScottBro

She's just really perfect dude

 

To: ScottBro

Yeah, aside from the hunter thing

 

Scott ignores that one.

 

Stiles finds some crime scene photos and, after making sure there's none of the bodies, starts flipping through them. There's an odd one of the front porch, where there's a bunch of ashy footprints on the otherwise undamaged wood floor (which had been one of the few parts of the house left relatively unscathed from the fire). It takes Stiles a second to figure out what he's most likely looking at.

 

Mountain ash.

 

Bingo. New clue #1.

 

He finds the next new clue in a different folder. On an insurance investigator's report. The fire had been ruled accidental. And the investigator who'd signed off on it was Garrison Meyers.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles is practically vibrating in his seat when he picks Scott up for school Monday morning. Scott gives him a look as he climbs into the Jeep.

 

"What's up with you today?" he asks. "Did Noah start walking or something?"

 

"Dude, I discovered some new clues about the Hale fire," Stiles says.

 

"Oh, cool," Scott says. "Didn't know you were still looking into that."

 

"Of course," Stiles says. "I had to see if there was any connection there. And there's definitely something."

 

"Awesome," Scott says. "Hey, guess what, I have another date with Allison today." Stiles resists the urge to roll his eyes.

 

"Seriously?" he asks. "Also, it's a school day."

 

"Yeah, I know," Scott says. "It's just a study date. But her aunt just came into town and her and Allison are pretty close and she wants me to meet her." Alarms instantly start going off in Stiles' head and he almost slams the brakes on the Jeep.

 

"Another hunter!?" he exclaims, sounding slightly strangled. Scott rolls his eyes and Stiles has to fight down the urge to slap him upside the head.

 

"Stiles, for the last time, you're just being paranoid," Scott says.

 

"I'm being perfectly reasonable," Stiles says. "You're being an idiot!"

 

"Dude!" Scott exclaims, looking wounded.

 

"Don't 'dude' me!" Stiles says. "It's like you're walking right into the lion's den. They're hunters, you're a werewolf! There's no way this can end well."

 

"They don't know I'm a werewolf," Scott says. Stiles is pretty sure that if he weren't currently driving then Scott would just jump out of the Jeep. "I'll just keep cool and calm and not shift anything and they’ll never suspect a thing."

 

"I am going to have a stroke," Stiles announces.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

MAYDAY!!

 

To: Derek Hale

Scott is actually going to Allison's house WHEN HER ENTIRE HUNTER FAMILY WILL BE THERE!!!!!!

 

To: Derek Hale

Including randomly appearing aunt?

 

***

 

From: Daddio

Brought in Chris Argent today. No criminal record and seems totally legit.

 

From: Daddio

Remind Scott that he needs to be careful

 

To: Daddio

He's going to their house tonight for a study date.

 

From: Daddio

Jesus Christ

 

To: Daddio

Any new info on bus driver

 

From: Daddio

Still running checks on him. Did find out that he was fired from his insurance job not long after he finished his work on the Hale fire.

 

From: Daddio

For fraud

 

To: Daddio

AH HA!!!!!

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Any info on the aunt would be appreciated if you have it

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Have you heard from Derek today?

 

From: Daddio

No. But I haven't been expecting to. Anything you need to ask him in case I run into him somewhere?

 

To: Daddio

Ask him if he knows anything about Allison's aunt who just came into town

 

From: Daddio

[thumb's up emoji]

 

***

 

From: Unknown

I think you have a problem

 

To: Unknown

WTF is this??

 

From: Unknown

It's Jackson you moron

 

To: Whittemore

Oh

 

To: Whittemore

What's the problem

 

From: Whittemore

McCall's drug dealer is here at the school.

 

From: Whittemore

Looks strung-out af and is looking for McCall

 

To: Whittemore

For the last time he's not a drug dealer

 

To: Whittemore

Where did he go? I'll go find him.

 

***

 

Stiles leaves half-way through his afternoon English class, claiming he needs to see the nurse. He barely sticks around for the teacher's questioning his motives, which earns him a confused look from Scott that Stiles ignores.

 

Jackson's texts tell him to go to the locker room, which is luckily empty at this time of day. Stiles bursts into the locker room, which still smells of a combination of BO and Axe even while empty, and is surprised to find Jackson there.

 

"What?" Stiles asks. "Did you actually follow him here?"

 

"No, you idiot," Jackson says. "I brought him here. It was the closest place to hide him. Do you really just want a drug dealer wandering around the school?"

 

"He's not a drug dealer!" Stiles exclaims. "God! Where is he then?"

 

"Over here," Jackson says. He leads Stiles around a bank of lockers and then there is Derek Hale, partially leaning on a bench with his lower half sprawled on the floor. This is the first time Stiles has seen him since the first meeting after Scott was turned, and Derek looks completely different now. He's pale and sweaty, with dark scruff along his cheeks and jaw. His eyes are shut and he's breathing hard, and if it isn't for the rigid way he's holding his head up Stiles would assume that he was unconscious.

 

"What the hell happened to you?" Stiles asks. Derek's eyelids flutter open and he stares up at Stiles with glassy eyes.

 

"Where's Scott?" he asks.

 

"In class," Stiles says. He gets down on the floor next to Derek, almost kneeling in a puddle of… "Is that blood!?"

 

"What!?" Jackson, who is still there for some reason, yelps.

 

"Ohhhh no," Stiles moans, inching backwards on his knees. "That's totally blood, yup."

 

"Oh God did I just drag a dying drug dealer in the locker room?" Jackson asks.

 

"He's not-- Look, we need to get him out of here," Stiles says.

 

"We!?" Jackson exclaims.

 

"You want to insert yourself in this mess, you might as well help out," Stiles says. "Help me get him to the Jeep, we'll figure out the rest from there."

 

"No way," Jackson says. "I am not getting mixed up in this freak show mess."

 

"You want answers about Scott?" Stiles asks. "Help me get him in the Jeep." Stiles walks around behind Derek, ignoring the glare Derek is giving him, and waves his hands around Derek's shoulders, trying to figure out the best way to go about this.

 

"Argh!" Jackson suddenly exclaims before joining Stiles at Derek's back. "Fine. Fine! But if you don't tell me everything after this I will end you."

 

"If we mess this up in any way I'll let you," Stiles mutters.

 

***

 

It takes some doing and maneuvering, and Jackson is absolutely judging Stiles for not being able to contribute more in the strength department, but they do manage to get Derek out of the school and into the passenger seat of the Jeep without getting caught. Even after closing the door on the Jeep, Stiles still isn't sure how they managed it.

 

"I feel like that shouldn't have been that easy," Stiles says, wiping sweat from his forehead.

 

"Yeah," Jackson says. "Now what?"

 

"Now we get Scott out here and decide our next move," Stiles says. Derek, slumped in the passenger seat, is still conscious but seems content to not contribute anything. He somehow looks worse out in the sunlight than he did in the locker room and Stiles really hopes he won't have to explain away his dead body if something goes wrong.

 

To: ScottBro

EMERGENCY DUDE! Derek Hale in bad shape out in my Jeep rn. Need your help.

 

From: ScottBro

What happened?

 

To: ScottBro

Not sure yet. Go clean up puddle of blood in locker room and meet me out in the back parking lot.

 

From: ScottBro

What blood!?

 

To: ScottBro

HURRY!!

 

"You really fine leaving that up to McCall?" Jackson asks, peering over Stiles' shoulder.

 

"Well either he does it, or one of us does it and the other one stays with Derek," Stiles says. "Or we can just leave a literal blood puddle in the locker room and hope no one notices." Jackson gives him a bitch-face, Stiles returns it with an exaggerated shrug. Derek coughs and wipes something black off his lips.

 

"What was that?" Jackson demands, pointing. Derek glares at him, which isn't very intimidating since he also looks like he's dying.

 

"Seriously, dude," Stiles says, frowning at Derek through the Jeep's open window. "What the hell is going on."

 

"I was shot," Derek says with a grimace.

 

"What!?" Jackson exclaims.

 

"What!? When!? Where!? By who!?" Stiles babbles. "I'm calling Dad."

 

"What is happening right now?" Jackson asks, running his hands through his hair. "How did I get myself involved in this?"

 

"It's your own fault," Stiles says. "Dad?"

 

"What's up, Stiles?" the sheriff asks.

 

"Derek got shot," Stiles says.

 

"What!?" the sheriff asks. "When!? Where!?"

 

"I dunno," Stiles says. "He's here at the school. In my Jeep. Looking like death."

 

"Where's Scott?" the sheriff asks.

 

"He's hopefully on his way out here," Stiles says.

 

"Isn't Derek healing?" the sheriff asks.

 

"Healing?" Stiles asks. "Oh, shit, right. This shouldn't be a problem then."

 

"What?" Jackson asks.

 

"It's not healing," Derek says.

 

"What?" Jackson asks again.

 

"What's going on, guys?" Scott suddenly rushes out of the school building. "I cleaned up the best I could."

 

"Scott's here," Stiles says.

 

"Why is Derek in your Jeep?" Scott asks.

 

"Can someone please ask Derek what is happening and what he needs us to do right now?" the sheriff asks, yelling into the phone. "He needs help and we can't take him to the hospital, so where does he need to go?" Jackson, Scott, and Stiles all turn to Derek, who grimaces in pain and suddenly flashes his eyes blue.

 

"What. The. Fuck," Jackson breathes.

 

"Deaton," Derek gasps. "Deaton should be able to help me."

 

"Deaton?" Stiles asks.

 

"Deaton? Great, I'll meet you all there." The sheriff hangs up.

 

"Uh," Scott says. "Do we just…" He starts in surprise as Stiles throws the keys to the Jeep at him.

 

"Start the Jeep and get ready to go," he says, turning back to the school. "If we're leaving I need to get Noah."

 

***

 

The Jeep is crammed full of people and anxiety as Stiles races to the animal clinic where Deaton works.

 

Derek is pale and bleeding in Stiles' passenger seat and Stiles is panicking because shit just got real and he's not sure what's happening right now. The threat of hunters - because who else could be responsible for this? - has never before been so real and Stiles had honestly never thought he'd be in the middle of it like this.

 

Stiles can hear Noah babbling in the back seat. A quick check of the rear-view mirror shows Stiles one of Noah's arms flapping at Jackson, squished up against the car seat looking like he's regretting ever getting up this morning. Stiles winces and presses down a bit harder on the gas.

 

He almost feels like crying when he screeches into the animal clinic's parking lot to find the sheriff waiting for them.

 

"We're here!" he chokes out.

 

"Thank Christ," Jackson mutters. Stiles stops the Jeep next to his dad's cruiser and the sheriff is instantly on them and pulling the passenger door open to help Derek out.

 

"Deaton's waiting for us inside," the sheriff says, getting a shoulder under one of Derek's arms. "There's no one else inside, just go straight to the back." He spots Jackson and blinks in surprise. "What are you doing here?"

 

"I don't know anymore," Jackson says.

 

"Less standing around, more moving," Stiles says. He takes Noah from the car and leads the way into the clinic. Deaton is waiting at the front counter, holding open the gate that leads to the examination rooms and back offices.

 

"I wasn't expecting a party," Deaton says, expression barely changing. The sheriff rolls his eyes.

 

"Yeah, yeah, just tell me where I'm supposed to put him," he says. Scott scrambles to prop up Derek's other side, taking some of his weight.

 

"Examination room at the end of the hall," Deaton says. He moves off to the side, still holding the gate open, to let the sheriff and Scott help Derek through. Stiles and Jackson wait a beat before following them, much to Deaton's apparent distaste, going by his expression. Stiles ignores him.

 

He reaches the examination room in time to see the sheriff and Scott get Derek up on the exam table in the middle of the room. Once they have Derek sitting with the sheriff's help, Derek starts struggling out of his leather jacket. Then Deaton enters, motioning for Stiles and Jackson to stay out of the way.

 

"So what's the problem?" Deaton asks, approaching the table, not even reacting when Derek flashes his eyes at him. Jackson jumps and Noah squeals. "Sheriff Stilinski mentioned you'd been shot."

 

"Yeah," Derek says, getting his left arm out of the jacket. The sleeve of his shirt is covered in blood and Stiles feels his stomach lurch. "A wolfsbane bullet."

 

"Hmm," Deaton hums. He grabs a pair of scissors off a nearby counter and approaches Derek with them. Derek rears back and it's only the sheriff that keeps him from toppling off the exam table.

 

"That shirt needs to come off, son," the sheriff says. Derek holds himself stiffly in place as Deaton starts cutting away his shirt. Eventually half the shirt is peeled away to reveal abs, but also a bullet hole in Derek's bicep that's oozing blood and some black liquid. There are black lines under Derek's skin starting at the bullet hole and going up and down his arm. There's blood smeared everywhere and Stiles can only look on in horror, holding Noah closer and turning his face away.

 

"Holy shit," Jackson breathes.

 

"That looks wrong," the sheriff says.

 

"Wolfsbane poisoning," Deaton says unemotionally. Stiles wants to shake him. Deaton prods at Derek's arm, ignoring Derek when he growls at him. "I can remove the bullet, but unfourtunately I don't have any wolfsbane on hand to neutralize the poison."

 

"Where do we get wolfsbane?" The sheriff asks.

 

"What's wolfsbane?" Scott asks at the same time.

 

"Wolfsbane is a poisonous plant," Deaton says, still apparently the calmest one in the room. He moves over to a cabinet and pulls out a scalpel and a pair of tweezers. "It can be reduced to a powdered form and combined with ammunition to be used against creatures like werewolves. Scott, can you prepare some gauze and tape?"

 

"Werewolves?!" Jackson exclaims in a strangled whisper. He turns wild eyes to Stiles.

 

"Not the time," Stiles says.

 

"You mean hunters use it as a weapon," the sheriff says.

 

"Usually," Deaton says. He starts working on Derek's arm and Stiles' view is blocked, but he can see Derek's grimace of pain and can guess what's happening. It's probably better that he can't see it. The sheriff has a clear view and is wincing with every movement Deaton makes.

 

"So where do we get wolfsbane?" Stiles asks.

 

"You'll need to find the same strand of wolfsbane that was used in this bullet," Deaton says, extracting something from Derek's arm. Scott immediately moves in with some gauze to cover the hole. "Your best bet is to get another bullet and use the wolfsbane powder inside it."

 

"Oh great," Stiles says. "Because that sounds simple."

 

"I didn't say it was," Deaton says. "But however you go about it, you'll have to be quick. See these?" He points at the black lines under Derek's skin. "That's the poison moving through his bloodstream. As soon as those black lines reach his heart, it's all over." Derek glares at the vet, the sheriff stares worriedly at Derek's arm, Stiles feels bile rise in his throat.

 

"It would be helpful if we knew who shot you," Deaton says to Derek.

 

"Kate Argent," Derek growls out. His eyes flash again.

 

"Allison's aunt?" Scott asks.

 

***

 

Stiles, Jackson, and Scott are silent on the ride back to school.

 

"I'm still not sure this is a good idea," Stiles says.

 

"It'll be fine," Scott says, though he does look a bit unsure. "I have a legit reason for being in the house. No one will suspect anything." Stiles shares a look with Jackson in the Jeep's rear-view mirror; Jackson looks about as skeptical as Stiles feels.

 

The plan is Scott's, which makes Stiles extra wary because Scott isn't generally a planner (that's usually Stiles' thing). Back in Deaton's exam room, he'd reasoned that since he'll be at the Argent house after school to study with Allison he'll have the perfect opportunity to snoop around and find one of Kate Argent's bullets.

 

Kate Argent, who is Allison's aunt and had arrived in town the night before. And her first order of business upon returning to Beacon Hills was to shoot Derek Hale, for reasons yet to be determined.

 

Stiles is worried she'll catch Scott in the act and shoot him too. His idea had been for the sheriff to go to the house and get the bullet, though the sheriff had pointed out that he'd have no probable cause to even ask to be let into the house.

 

Stiles is still keeping it in mind as a backup plan, though.

 

They make it back to the school in time for Scott to meet up with Allison in the parking lot. He bounds out of the Jeep as soon as it's stopped and disappears among the students leaving the school building. Stiles and Jackson watch him go.

 

"This is a giant clusterfuck," Stiles says.

 

"Yes," Jackson agrees. "You're going to tell me everything."

 

"Yes," Stiles says. "Are you leaving your car here?"

 

"No," Jackson snorts. He gets out of the Jeep and runs off in the direction Stiles assumes he's parked his Porsche. Stiles puts the Jeep in gear and pulls out of the parking lot.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

The sheriff is in the living room with Derek and Noah when Stiles gets back to the house.

 

Derek is slumped on the couch in one of the sheriff's borrowed t-shirts and still looking like death warmed over. He looks up at Stiles with overly bright eyes when Stiles walks into the room.

 

"Scott and Allison should be on their way to the Argent house now," he reports. "Hopefully he won't be long and this will all be behind us."

 

"This won't be behind us," Derek says with a humourless laugh. "Even if we get the bullet in time, she's gonna come after me again."

 

"She's come after you before?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," Derek says. "And she won't stop until she either gets me or I disappear."

 

"But she's a hunter, right?" Stiles asks. "What about their code? Or are you, like, a wanted man among hunters. "

 

"Hardly," Derek says. "I don't think Kate Argent believes in a code." He shifts a bit and winces, glaring down at his arm. The sheriff walks into the room with Noah, who he hands off to Stiles.

 

"I need to go back to the station," he says. "I'll do some digging and see if I can find anything I can use to get into the Argent house just in case Scott's plan doesn't work. Call me the second anything happens."

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. The sheriff looks between him and Derek, nods, and then leaves. Derek and Stiles share a look, then Derek's gaze shifts to Noah in Stiles' arms.

 

"Why do you always have a baby with you?" Derek asks.

 

"Well, he's my baby," Stiles says. "Why wouldn't I always have him with me?" Derek squints at Stiles, thick eyebrows furrowing.

 

"You're... young, though," he says after a short pause. Stiles just shrugs at him. An awkward silence follows. Derek shifts on the couch and grimaces again. Stiles eyes his injured arm. There's a bit of rubber tubing tied above his bicep as a tourniquet to slow down the spread of the poison and a bit of gauze directly over the bullet would, but it's still not pretty to look at.

 

"Are you sure there's nothing we can give you for that?" Stiles asks, gesturing vaguely at Derek's arm. "Does Tylenol or Aspirin or whatever work on werewolves?"

 

"No," Derek sighs. He closes his eyes and leans his head back against the couch, stretching out his throat. "We metabolize it too quickly for it to do any good. And we usually heal too quickly for it to be necessary in the first place."

 

"Except if there's wolfsbane involved, apparently," Stiles points out.

 

"Yes, Stiles," Derek says.

 

Then the front door slams open, startling Noah into tears, and Jackson bursts in, slamming the door again behind him.

 

"Okay, someone needs to tell me what the HELL is going on!" He demands. "Right now! Werewolves, Stilinski!?" Stiles glares at Jackson over Noah's head while he rocks in place trying to calm him down. Jackson takes in the scene and at least looks a little sorry. He crosses into the living room and goes to sit in an armchair across from the couch. Derek squints his eyes at him.

 

"Who's this one?" he asks.

 

"That's Jackson," Stiles says over Jackson's offended sputtering. "He's… an acquaintance?"

 

"Sure," Jackson says. "Let's go with that." Derek looks back and forth between them, one eyebrow raised in confusion. Noah has quieted down now, snuffling wetly into Stiles' neck.

 

"Now that we have nothing better to do than wait for Scott," Stiles says, going over to sit on the other end of the couch, "let's fill Jackson in before he blows a gasket."

 

"I'm a werewolf, Scott's a werewolf, we're in danger," Derek deadpans. "That's all you need to know."

 

"Werewolf," Jackson says. "Is that seriously what you're going with?" Derek considers Jackson for a moment, and then his face suddenly changes. Both Stiles and Jackson rear back as Derek's ears go pointed at the tips, his eyebrows disappear and his brow lowers, his nose scrunches up, his teeth grow into fangs, and his eyes flash bright blue. He growls at Jackson, who seems too scared to make any noise. Noah, on the other hand, crows in delight and claps his hands at the display. Instantly, Derek's face changes back to fully human and he stares at the baby in confusion. Noah stares back at him as if in anticipation.

 

"Maybe do the eye thing again?" Stiles asks. Derek glares at him, but does flash his eyes. Noah squeals and claps again. Stiles thinks he sees Derek's lips twitch a bit, but he turns back to Jackson with a serious look. And Stiles is pretty sure he's gone a bit paler. Maybe shifting like that hadn't been a good idea with that poison still in his system.

 

"Okay," Jackson is muttering to himself. "Werewolves. Why not?"

 

***

 

To: ScottBro

Dude, what's the hold up?

 

"How long has it been?" Jackson asks. An hour after he arrived at the Stilinski house he's still sitting rigidly in the same arm chair. He has his phone clutched in one hand and Stiles is pretty sure he's been texting with Lydia for most of the time he's been sitting there. Stiles looks up from where he's trying to feed Noah without making a mess on the couch (so far he's not succeeding).

 

"It probably just feels like it's been longer than it has," Stiles says. "And I'm sure he won't be too much longer."

 

"He's probably gotten distracted by Allison's eyes, or whatever, and forgotten all about us," Jackson says. Stiles opens his mouth to defend his best friend, but closes it when he realizes that Jackson isn't completely wrong to say it. Scott does seem to prioritize Allison above most things. Like his safety.

 

"You think they figured him out and shot him too?" Stiles asks, feeling his stomach twist.

 

"I doubt it," Derek says. "Chris and Victoria aren't as much loose cannons as Kate is." Stiles glances over at him; he looks worse than before. There's pronounced dark bags under his eyes, and Stiles is pretty sure he can see something thick and black oozing through the gauze on his arm.

 

"How well do you know Allison's family?" Jackson asks.

 

"Well enough," Derek says. "I know we shouldn't trust them. And as a werewolf Scott should stay away from them, but he isn't."

 

"Does Allison know about any of this?" Jackson asks. "Because I've been around her enough at school and haven't noticed anything weird about her. Aside from her interest in McCall."

 

"We don't know," Stiles says. "But according to Derek she comes from an old hunting family. I'd rather not take the chance, but Scott won't listen to me. Or anyone else, for that matter." Stiles' text alert goes off.

 

From: ScottBro

Might be a bit later, they invited me to stay for dinner

 

"He can't be serious," Stiles mutters, reading the text.

 

"What?" Jackson asks, getting up from his chair.

 

To: ScottBro

DID YOU FORGET THAT WE'RE ON A TIMELINE HERE!?!?!?!?

 

"He's staying for dinner!" Stiles exclaims. Derek squeezes his eyes shut and sinks lower into the couch.

 

***

 

A half hour after Scott's text about dinner, Stiles figures they must be out of time because Derek suddenly stiffens and vomits black goo on the living room floor. Stiles and Jackson immediately jump to their feet and panic.

 

"What is that!?" Jackson exclaims. Stiles puts Noah in the playpen and rushes to Derek to make sure he's not actively dying. Derek is coughing and choking and clawing at his arm.

 

"Shit, shit, shit, shit!" Stiles chants. "What do we do!?"

 

"Call your dad!" Jackson yelps. Noah starts crying in the playpen and Stiles is torn. Derek grabs him by the shirtfront and pulls him closer.

 

"Listen," he rasps. There's black goo dripping down his chin, it's pretty gross. "If Scott doesn't get back in time, I'm gonna need to lose the arm."

 

"Say what now?" Stiles asks.

 

"Right now the poison is still contained in my arm," Derek says. "If I cut it off, it won't be able to spread further."

 

"Okay, you're clearly delusional," Stiles says. He pushes at Derek's shoulders with shaking hands. "Why don't you just lay back and not think about… amputation right now."

 

"Stiles," Derek insists. "It's the only way. Otherwise I'll die." Stiles stares at Derek, his eyes roving over his face. Derek looks really, really bad already. But Stiles really, really doesn't want to have to cut off his arm. That would give him nightmares for forever.

 

"Okay," Stiles says. "If I have to, I'll cut off the arm."

 

"Oh, god," Jackson moans in the background.

 

"Just let me call my dad first," Stiles says. "We'll get one last try for the bullet and if that doesn’t work… You know." Derek nods and releases the hold Stiles had forgotten he had on his shirt. Stiles lunges for his phone and calls his dad.

 

"Dad, we have a problem," Stiles says as soon as his dad picks up. "Scott isn't back yet and Derek is talking about cutting his arm off."

 

"Fuck," the sheriff swears. Stiles eyebrows shoot up. "Okay. I can't find anything in the system on any of the Argents. But I'll head over there anyway. I'll think of something on the way."

 

"What about Scott?" Stiles asks.

 

"I'll deal with him," the sheriff says. "I'll try to be quick. If I run into any problems, well... The chainsaw is out in the shed." Stiles fights off a dry-heave.

 

***

 

It takes twenty minutes for the sheriff to return. He bursts into the house and Stiles could cry he's so happy to see him.

 

"I have 'em," the sheriff says, waving a wooden case in one hand. "What do I-- what happened to the floor?"

 

"Never mind," Stiles says, turning his dad away from the black stain on the floor. "You have the bullet?"

 

"Yes, pretty sure I have all of them," the sheriff says. "Derek, what do I do with this?"

 

"Break it open," Derek says. He's using the arm of the couch to struggle to his feet, almost toppling over before Stiles lunges over to prop him up. Jackson is halfway out of his arm chair, gaze bouncing madly between everyone in the room.

 

"Derek, sit down," the sheriff says. He brings the wooden case over to the coffee table and opens it. Inside are two rows of shiny bullets nestled in foam padding. There's an empty slot in the middle of one of the rows that Stiles assumes used to house the bullet Deaton had taken out of Derek's arm. "Stiles, get me the pliers under the sink."

 

"Right-o," Stiles says, scurrying into the kitchen. He comes back to find Derek wrestling out of his t-shirt and the sheriff studying the bullets in the case. Jackson has approached the coffee table, eyes wide and anxious.

 

"Where's Scott?" Stiles asks.

 

"His mother took him home," the sheriff says.

 

"Ooh," Stiles says. He's sure he's going to get an earful about that later. He hands the pliers to the sheriff, who uses them to pry open one of the bullets. He upends it over the coffee table and is rewarded with a pile of purple powder. Derek rips off the gauze bandage and tourniquet. The bullet hole looks even worse than before.

 

"Is that it?" the sheriff asks.

 

"I need a lighter," Derek says suddenly. Jackson silently produces one and hands it over, ignoring the confused looks both the sheriff and Stiles send him. Derek takes the lighter and, with a shaking hand, produces a flame that he sets to the pile of powder. The powder catches almost immediately and starts sparking.

 

"Okay," Stiles says, leaning in. "Now wha--"

 

Derek scoops the sparking powder into his hand and immediately slaps it directly into the bullet hole. The effect is instantaneous as Derek's body goes completely rigid and he falls to the floor screaming. Stiles, Jackson, and the sheriff all jump back as Derek starts writhing in agony on the floor. Noah starts screaming in what sounds like terror and Stiles almost trips over his own feet running over to him.

 

"Jesus Christ!" The sheriff exclaims. Stiles takes one last look on his way out of the room and stops dead in his tracks at the sight of the black lines under Derek's skin receding up towards the hole before they vanish in a puff of purple smoke. Then the bullet hole closes up, leaving Derek's skin completely intact. Derek stops writhing on the floor and falls still aside from his chest heaving for breath.

 

Noah sobs against Stiles' neck, but Stiles can't really hear it over the sound of ringing in his ears.

 

"Stiles!" The sheriff shouts. "Stiles? Shit."

 

The room starts tilting, and Stiles wraps his arms tight around the baby as he goes down.

 

***

 

Stiles wakes up to Jackson Whittemore's pale face hovering over his, and a stinging sensation in his cheeks.

 

To say he's confused is an understatement.

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"You passed out," Jackson says. He rises and Stiles suddenly realizes that he'd been kneeling next to him on the living room floor. Stiles squints up at him in confusion and tries to sit up. He levers himself up with his arms and finds it odd that they're empty. Because they weren't? His neck is damp and he remembers the sound of a baby crying.

 

All at once he remembers what's just happened.

 

"Noah!?" He asks, starting to scramble. "Derek!? What's— Where-- !?"

 

"Relax," Jackson says. He hauls Stiles to his feet by the arm and steadies him while he sways. "You didn't hit your head when you fell and you weren't out for long. Your dad took the baby upstairs. He's fine."

 

"Good, good," Stiles says, still feeling a bit lightheaded. He looks over to the couch, which is empty. "What about Derek? Did the bullet work?"

 

"Yeah," Jackson says. "Your dad sent him to the shower."

 

"And you're still here?" Stiles asks.

 

"After all that," Jackson says, waving a hand in the air. "I deserve some answers. Because what the actual fuck, Stilinski?"

 

"Yeah, yeah," Stiles says. "Even with some answers everything's still gonna be confusing. Trust me." He breaks away from Jackson on shaky legs. "I'm gonna go check on Noah." Jackson waves him off and drops down in the nearest chair with his phone in hand.

 

Stiles staggers over the stairs and starts climbing. He's feeling more steady by the time he reaches the top. He finds his dad in the nursery, sitting in the rocking chair giving Noah a bottle. He looks up when Stiles leans against the door frame.

 

"Hey!" The sheriff says. He gets to his feet in a practiced motion that doesn't interrupt Noah's feeding (Stiles still hasn't learned how to do that and is slightly jealous) and walks over to Stiles. "How're you feeling?"

 

"Mostly embarrassed," Stiles says. "How is he?" He runs the back of a finger down Noah's cheek. Noah looks at him and reaches out to grab his hand. Stiles' throat clenches.

 

"He's fine," the sheriff says. "Just a little scared of all the excitement."

 

"Didn't enjoy the fall either, I imagine," Stiles mutters.

 

"Nope, probably not," the sheriff says. "But Jackson actually managed to keep you from hurting yourself too much, and you made sure to keep Noah safe. So all's well that ends well, I guess. Is Jackson still downstairs?"

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "Still waiting for his explanations."

 

"I suppose that makes sense," the sheriff says. "You coming back downstairs? I was gonna go order takeout or something."

 

"I think I just need a minute to myself," Stiles says. "Here, I'll take him and hang out up here for a bit where it's quiet."

 

"Are you okay?" The sheriff asks, but he hands Noah over anyway.

 

"More or less," Stiles says. "But I thought I was about to watch a guy die in front of me, and then I fainted about it. I think I just need a minute."

 

"Okay," the sheriff says. "Come downstairs when you're ready." He gives Stiles a quick hug and pats him on the shoulder before heading downstairs. Stiles looks down at Noah, who's staring up at him while he drinks. He's been changed into his pyjamas and looks fairly content after his traumatizing experience. Stiles forgoes the rocking chair and brings Noah with him back to his bedroom, where they curl up together on the bed. Eventually Noah finishes his bottle and is content to lie with Stiles, babbling to himself and trying to chew on Stiles' pillow.

 

That's how Derek Hale finds them a few minutes later.

 

"How's your head?" He asks. Stiles, who hadn't noticed him in the doorway, snaps his head up.

 

"Hi!" He exclaims. "Good, it's all good." He pushes himself into a sitting position and looks Derek up and down. He looks a lot better now that he's not slowly being poisoned to death. He's damp and soft from his shower, and dressed in what looks like some of the sheriff's casual wear. Even though he's been texting Derek for the past couple of weeks, Stiles finds that he suddenly doesn't know what to say to him now that they're face to face.

 

Noah seems to have no such issue, because his reaction to spotting Derek is to pull himself (using Stiles) slightly upright and reach out to Derek while making excited babbling noises.

 

"Er," Derek says, looking surprised.

 

"He seems to like you," Stiles says. Derek still doesn't move, and Noah's babbling gets more insistent and frustrated-sounding. "Might as well pick him up, dude." Derek eyes Stiles as he inches into the room. He surveys the bed for a moment before pulling over Stiles' desk chair and sitting on that. He checks with Stiles again, and reaches out to pull Noah on his lap when Stiles nods at him.

 

Noah seems delighted at this, and starts excitedly patting at Derek's face. A lightbulb goes off for Stiles.

 

"Oh," he says. "He wants you to do the flashy-eye thing."

 

"The what?" Derek asks, frowning at him.

 

"Make your eyes glow," Stiles says, pointing to his own eyes. "He seems to like that." Derek gives Stiles an uncertain look, but does what he's told and flashes his eyes at Noah. Noah squeals and claps in excitement. Derek grins down at him. It's the first time Stiles has seen him smile. It's a nice smile.

 

Derek brushes a hand over Noah's head. "I didn't think he was yours, because of the hair. I mean, that and the fact that you're still in high school."

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "I think a lot of people think that. His mother has red hair, that’s where he got it from."

 

"You and the mother aren't together?" Derek asks.

 

"No," Stiles says. "It's a long, ugly story." He flops down on his back and stares at the ceiling. Derek hums and doesn't say anything else.

 

"So, you're all good now?" Stiles asks. "With the poisoning and all?"

 

"Oh. Yeah," Derek says. "Once the wolfsbane is out of the system, everything else fixes itself like normal."

 

"Yeah," Stiles snorts. "Like healing in seconds from a bullet wound is normal."

 

"Normal for me," Derek says.

 

"Have you been shot before?" Stiles asks. He turns his head to face him. Derek is looking down at Noah in his lap with an unreadable expression in his eyes. He glances up at Stiles.

 

"This would be the first time," Derek says. "But I've broken bones and things like that, when I was a kid. Those healed in minutes."

 

"If werewolf healing is so fast," Stiles says slowly, not sure he should be asking this, "then what's up with your uncle? The one who survived the fire?" Derek shrugs and looks back down. Noah's gazing up at him expectantly. Derek flashes his eyes again and the baby laughs.

 

"Boys!" The sheriff suddenly calls from downstairs. "Food's here!" Derek passes Noah to Stiles and gets to his feet.

 

"Smells like Chinese," he says.

 

"Ooh, yes!" Stiles exclaims. He grabs Noah and rolls off the bed to the soundtrack of Noah laughing. "Hopefully it's from the nice place this time."

 

***

 

Noah isn't very happy about not getting to share the Chinese food, but he does seem intrigued when Stiles instead offers him the fancy Apple Cinnamon Cheerios he usually hides from him. Jackson doesn't seem to know what to do with himself when he sits at the kitchen table and the food starts being passed around.

 

"Might as well eat something," Stiles says. "It's gonna take that long to explain everything." Jackson eyes him, but stops automatically passing off various food containers when they reach him.

 

"Alright," the sheriff says. "Derek, why don't you give Jackson a brief rundown, since he seems so determined to know everything."

 

"After this afternoon I think I at least deserve that much," Jackson says.

 

"Fair enough," the sheriff says. He gestures at Derek. Derek takes a drink of water and pins Jackson with a serious look, and then launches into the Sparks Notes version of what's been happening lately, although he actually starts with a brief mention of the Hale fire.

 

"It kind of sounds like you're implying that you think the Argents have something to do with the fire," Stiles says when Derek's finished.

 

"I know the Argents had something to do with the fire," Derek says. "Maybe not all of them, but some of them definitely did."

 

"And you know this for a fact?" The sheriff asks. Derek nods tightly and doesn't elaborate.

 

"Okay, but we know for sure that it was arson because of the mountain ash and the lying insurance guy," Stiles says.

 

"You probably still couldn't prove it in a court of law, though," Jackson says, which is apparently all he has to say on the matter. Derek shrugs.

 

"If what Stiles thinks is right, that the alpha is going after specific targets, what the courts believe won't matter," Derek says.

 

"Wait," the sheriff says. "You think the alpha is going after people connected to the fire?"

 

"It makes sense, though," Stiles says. "The bus driver turned out to be the guy who ruled the whole thing an accident. And then he got fired for fraud, which implies that he was in the habit of falsifying reports. Why not the Hale fire report?"

 

"That's just one body, though," the sheriff says. "What about Laura Hale?"

 

"That was probably just for her alpha powers," Derek says. "She didn't have any other connection to the fire. Aside from surviving it."

 

"So, what, we wait for another body to turn up to see if the pattern continues?" Stiles asks.

 

"Wait, you guys never figured out who the alpha is?" Jackson asks.

 

"Still working on it," Derek mumbles. Jackson scoffs and Derek glares at him.

 

"So what happened at the Argents?" Stiles asks, changing the subject. "How'd you get the bullets?"

 

"Told them that I'd had a witness report of Kate Argent shooting at someone last night," the sheriff says. "Asked if I could see any weapons or ammunition she had on hand to compare to the sample we had. Didn't mention where I got the sample, of course."

 

"And she just handed them over?" Stiles asks.

 

"I didn't talk to her, I talked to Chris Argent," the sheriff says. "He gave me everything I needed. Gave me a look like he knew I was lying, though. I suspect we're gonna catch some flack for that."

 

"Probably," Derek says. "Now Kate will know we're connected. Which puts you in danger."

 

"Hopefully not, but I told Chris Argent I'd be keeping an eye on them," the sheriff says. "And I definitely will."

 

"What happened with Scott?" Stiles asks.

 

"I called Melissa on my way over to the Argents and she picked him up while I was still there," the sheriff says. "Turns out she'd forbidden him from going there, so I suspect he's not having a nice night tonight." Stiles winces. He's definitely going to be hearing about that later.

 

"So where do I fit in all this?" Jackson asks.

 

"You fit with Stiles," the sheriff says. "Keep an eye out for anything dangerous around you, but don't handle anything by yourself. Let us" he gestures between himself and Derek "handle things for now. Just go about your business as normal, but be careful."

 

"I think I liked it better when you were a drug dealer," Jackson tells Derek.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

From: ScottBro

DUDE!! Your dad got me grounded.

 

To: ScottBro

You have no one to blame but yourself for that and you know it

 

***

 

Mrs McCall drives Scott to school the next morning, and Stiles is kind of glad he won't have to deal with him first thing.

 

After all the excitement was over the night before, Stiles had spent a few sleepless hours staring at his ceiling and slowly getting angry with Scott's nonchalant attitude of everything happening to them. Derek could've died yesterday, and Scott was too concerned with being with Allison to do his part to help.

 

Even Jackson had stepped up yesterday and he hadn't even known what was happening half the time.

 

So, yeah, Stiles is happy to avoid Scott for as long as possible.

 

He arrives in the back parking lot at school to find Jackson waiting for him. Stiles can't say he's surprised to see him, though he is confused. He stops the Jeep and gets out.

 

"Is this our thing now?" Stiles asks, opening the back door to get Noah out of his car seat.

 

"This is the easiest time to catch you alone," Jackson says. "What are we doing about the whole Hale fire thing?"

 

"Ahh... what do you mean?" Stiles asks.

 

"Your investigation," Jackson says. "I saw your board yesterday."

 

"When were you in my room?" Stiles asks.

 

"I wasn't," Jackson says. "I saw it from the hallway. It's obvious you're looking into it. And Derek is looking for the alpha, right? And your dad has a full time job, and McCall is completely useless. So that leaves us to figure out the rest."

 

"So you're all in on this, are you?" Stiles asks.

 

"Look," Jackson says. "Allison is friends with Lydia. No matter what you think about her, I want to keep my girlfriend safe. This is the only way I can think to do it. Unless you want me to tell Lydia what's happening."

 

"Do not do that," Stiles says. "The less people involved in this, the better."

 

"Exactly," Jackson says. "So, again, what are we doing about the Hale fire?"

 

"Basically where we were at last night, we don't have enough to be sure that this is about the Hale fire at all," Stiles says.

 

"Derek knows more than he's telling us," Jackson says.

 

"Obviously," Stiles says. "But do you want to corner him and demand him to reveal everything."

 

"... No," Jackson says.

 

"Exactly," Stiles says. "So right now we have to work with what we have until something definite comes up. Or we wait until Derek trusts us more to let us in and tell us everything he knows."

 

"I think if we figure out who the alpha is, everything else will make more sense," Jackson says. "The revenge spiral thing, remember?"

 

"If It's all the same to you, I'd rather leave that to Derek," Stiles says. "I'd say that Scott should be able to help him with that, but, well..."

 

"Yeah," Jackson says. They trail off into awkward silence, which is suddenly broken by the school bell ringing and then suddenly they're scrambling.

 

***

 

Scott catches up with Stiles at lunch while Stiles is on his way to the daycare.

 

"Stiles!"

 

Stiles turns around in the middle of the rapidly-filling hallway to see Scott making his way towards him.

 

"What are you doing?" Stiles asks, knowing Scott can hear him even from a distance.

 

"Wait up!" Scott says. Stiles does, moving off to one side so that he's not in anyone's way. It doesn't take long for Scott to reach him.

 

"This better be important," Stiles says.

 

"Dude, it is," Scott says. "Your dad totally busted me yesterday!"

 

"Dude! He didn't even know you weren't even allowed to be at Allison's house!" Stiles says. "And if you hadn't taken so long he wouldn't have had to go!"

 

"What did you expect me to do, just sneak around the house and then run out?" Scott asks.

 

"YES!" Stiles shouts, arms flying up. "That's exactly what we expected you to do! We were in a hurry, Scott!"

 

"It would've been weird to just suddenly sneak off in the middle of a study date," Scott says. "And it would've been even weirder during a dinner!"

 

"So!?" Stiles exclaims. "You don't think we could've figured out an excuse or something to get you out if we had to? The priority wasn't about Allison's feelings or you not looking weird, it was making sure Derek didn't die!"

 

"Can't you two even try to be subtle?" Jackson asks, suddenly appearing behind Scott. Both Scott and Stiles start in surprise.

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"Pretty sure people can hear you two," Jackson says dryly. "What with the hallway being full and all." Stiles looks around quickly and winces.

 

"This is none of your business, Jackson," Scott says.

 

"Oh yes it is," Jackson says. "I can't ignore it now that I know what's going on. Especially since you insist on fucking things up. Anyway." He turns to Stiles. "Don't you have somewhere to be right now?"

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"I've had to listen enough to McCall bitching about you ditching him every lunch period," Jackson says. He makes a shooing motion at Stiles with one hand. "Figure it must be important since you two used to be practically up each other's asses." Scott sputters at Jackson and Stiles narrows his eyes at the both of them, still not entirely sure how this dynamic suddenly happened.

 

"Right," Stiles says. He turns to Scott. "I'm letting this go for now because I really have to go, but you really dropped the ball yesterday, dude." He turns around and heads for the daycare before Scott has the chance to say anything else.

 

***

 

To: Whittemore

So are we friends now?

 

From: Whittemore

Absolutely not

 

***

 

From: Daddio

Had an interesting chat with Chris Argent today. Make sure you come straight home after school.

 

From: Daddio

Bring Jackson and Scott with you

 

***

 

To: Whittemore

Dad is demanding your presence at the house straight after school

 

From: Whittemore

I have other stuff to do y'know

 

To: Whittemore

Wasn't a question dude

 

***

 

To: ScottBro

Dad says you need to come to the house straight from school

 

***

 

Stiles waits around as long as he dares after school lets out, but doesn't catch sight of Scott. He hopes that's because Scott already left and is on his way to Stiles' house somehow. He'd already seen Jackson leave, Lydia in the passenger seat of his Porsche, and he's not really sure what that means.

 

He gets home to find the sheriff, Jackson, and Derek sitting in the living room. No Scott.

 

"I swear I told Scott," Stiles says, hitching Noah higher on his hip.

 

"I know," the sheriff sighs. He pulls out his phone and goes into the kitchen.

 

"I'm just gonna..." Stiles says, pointing between himself and Noah. "Be right back." He heads up to the nursery to change Noah's diaper and outfit. The sheriff is back in the living room by the time Stiles makes it back downstairs.

 

"Scott is apparently with Deaton at the moment, according to Melissa," the sheriff says.

 

"I dropped Lydia off at Allison's so that's probably true," Jackson says.

 

"Scott never mentioned anything about going to Deaton's," Stiles says. He double-checks his text messages, but there's still no reply to the message he'd sent earlier. "Maybe he's working on his control?"

 

"He picked a funny time to suddenly get serious about it," Derek mutters from where he's standing in a corner of the room. Noah seems to finally notice him and makes grabby-hands at him. Derek's eyes widen in surprise.

 

"Told you he likes you," Stiles says. "Do you...?" He makes as if to start walking across the room and Derek makes an aborted move forward.

 

"Um," Derek says.

 

"Here," Stiles says. He crosses the room and holds Noah out to Derek. Noah beams at Derek and kicks out his legs. Derek hesitates for a second but eventually takes Noah into his arms. He flashes his eyes at the baby, who reacts much the same as the day before, before settling him more comfortably in the crook of one arm.

 

"Isn't that precious," Jackson drawls from where he's sitting on the sofa. The sheriff looks at all of them and just shakes his head.

 

"Anyway, might as well get started while you're all here," he says.

 

"Yes, let's," Jackson says. Stiles drops next to Jackson on the couch and elbows him. Jackson gives him a dirty look.

 

"Boys," the sheriff says. "So Chris Argent stopped by the station today, as I sort of expected, really."

 

"Is he onto us?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yes and no," the sheriff says. "He knows that Derek is back in town, and he knows about the alpha. He also knows that Kate shot Derek the other night, though he mostly talked around that, and implied that she was right to do it."

 

"How's that?" Stiles asks. He turns to Derek. "How did she shoot you, anyway?"

 

"We accidentally crossed paths while I was chasing the alpha," Derek says.

 

"So you're actually out there physically tracking the alpha on the regular?" Stiles asks.

 

"Of course," Derek says. "There's no real way to catch him otherwise."

 

"Did Kate know she was shooting at you?" The sheriff asks.

 

"I'm not sure if she knew it was me specifically, or just a random werewolf," Derek says. "Chris Argent knows I'm in town so it's possible she knows now that it was me."

 

"Well," the sheriff says. "Chris briefly mentioned you and that you could be dangerous. But, and here's the important thing, he also told me that he knows there's another beta out there." There's silence for a minute as everyone thinks that over.

 

"Do you think he knows it's Scott?" Stiles asks.

 

"He didn't say anything about it one way or the other," the sheriff says. "But I'd rather not take any chances."

 

"Do they think Derek's working with the alpha?" Stiles asks.

 

"No idea," the sheriff says. "I think we all need to start being very careful here. I'm not sure I trust the Argents, especially Kate if she's going to go around randomly shooting people."

 

"It's a good position to have," Derek says.

 

***

 

Stiles is initially worried that Kate Argent's arrival into town is going to throw everything into chaos, but things are fairly quiet in the few days after Derek gets shot.

 

Stiles doesn't see much of Derek in those days, and he assumes he's just out there hunting down the alpha. He keeps in regular contact with him over text, though, just to make sure he's still in one piece.

 

Stiles doesn't see a whole lot of Scott, either. Scott is still pissed about what happened the day Derek was shot. Stiles is finding himself out of fucks over Scott's feelings on the matter.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Does it seem too quiet around here to you?

 

From: Derek Hale

It's only been a few days

 

***

 

From: Whittemore

Asked my dad about the Hale fire. He was suspiciously nervous about it.

 

To: Whittemore

i can't think of any way he could be connected to it tbh

 

From: Whittemore

Same, so I'm not sure what it means

 

***

 

The next full moon is almost a week away and Stiles is starting to get nervous. He's been trying to connect with Scott to see how he's feeling about it, but Scott seems to be mostly ignoring him. Stiles has asked Derek about it and Derek seems cautiously optimistic, but not overly so.

 

***

 

It's a calm and quiet evening, and Stiles and Noah are joining the sheriff for a fast food break in a McDonald's parking lot. They're all sat in the cruiser because the sheriff is still on-shift and needs to be able to man the police radio. Stiles is trying to wrestle an empty ketchup packet out of Noah's hands when the radio suddenly crackles to life.

 

There's been an incident at the video store. An incident that's left behind a body.

 

"Welp," the sheriff says. "Break time's over."

 

"What do you think happened there?" Stiles asks. He climbs out of the cruiser with Noah and watches the sheriff gather up the dinner mess.

 

"Hopefully nothing too interesting," the sheriff says. "I'll see you two later." He starts up the cruiser and drives away. Stiles watches him go and then turns to his Jeep. His cellphone goes off.

 

"Stilinski." It's Jackson, sounding like he's whispering. Wherever he's at, Stiles can hear sirens in the background.

 

"Whittemore," Stiles says. "Are those sirens?"

 

"I'm at the video store," Jackson says. Stiles' blood runs cold. "I think the alpha was here."

 

***

 

The sheriff doesn't look too happy to see Stiles' Jeep arrive to the crime scene. But he's busy, and Stiles stays inside the Jeep and behind the yellow crime scene tape so there's not much he can do at the moment.

 

Stiles surveys the scene through the Jeep's windshield. The first thing he notices is the giant hole in the front of the store where the door used to be, and the shattered picture window. Police officers and paramedics are entering and leaving the scene, and the sheriff is off to the side next to an ambulance interviewing Lydia Martin, who is sitting in the back of the ambulance wrapped in a blanket. Jackson is standing nearby wrapped in his own blanket. He makes brief eye-contact with Stiles and nods.

 

Stiles gulps.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

You hear what just happened?

 

From: Derek Hale

Video store? I got there a little after you did.

 

To: Derek Hale

I didn't see you there

 

From: Derek Hale

There was a spiral carved into the roof of the store

 

***

 

Stiles calls Jackson that night around midnight.

 

"What happened?" Stiles asks.

 

"Shit, I'm not entirely sure," Jackson says. His voice sounds shaky. "The store was empty and I couldn't even find an employee. Then suddenly I find a guy with a nametag lying dead on the floor. All of a sudden this giant thing comes out of nowhere, knocks a bunch of shelves on me, and then jumps out the front window.

 

"Lydia wasn't with you?" Stiles asks, thinking back to the sight of Lydia sitting in the ambulance.

 

"No, she was waiting in the car," Jackson says. "Giant monster thing landed on the hood. Scared the crap out of her. So was that the alpha?"

 

"Must have been," Stiles says. "I texted Derek earlier. He was there. Said there was a spiral carved on the roof of the store. And there's more." He looks up at his bulletin board, which has some new information on it.

 

"More?" Jackson asks.

 

"The dead guy you saw was the clerk on shift that night," Stiles says. "His name was Jeremy Taggart, and he had a history of arson. I looked through the Hale files again and actually found an interview with him. They had him as a suspect, but they stopped looking into him when the fire was ruled an accident."

 

"So this really is all about the Hale fire," Jackson says.

 

"It has to be," Stiles says. "The alpha didn't do anything to you?"

 

"No," Jackson says. "Got a bit bruised up from the shelves but I mean, compared to the other guy…"

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "You're not one of his targets, so he let you live. Surprised he didn't bite you, though." Jackson makes a sound that's the equivalent of a verbal shrug. Stiles narrows his eyes. "The alpha didn't bite you, right?"

 

"No," Jackson says. "He did sort of… sniff me a bit though?

 

"Weird, but not life-threatening," Stiles says.

 

"So what now?" Jackson asks.

 

"I honestly have no idea," Stiles says. "If this is all a revenge thing, who would need revenge for the fire?"

 

"Aside from Derek?" Jackson asks.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "My dad already checked Derek out when he first came to town. He's clear. The only other survivor from the fire who'd want revenge is Derek's uncle, Peter Hale. But he's, like, a vegetable right now, so I doubt he's been up to anything recently."

 

***

***

Chapter Text

A few days after the video store incident, Stiles wakes up with a cold.

 

He's unamused.

 

His head feels like it's stuffed full of cotton and he walks straight into the door frame on his way out of his bedroom. He's so glad his father isn't here to judge him right now. As he hunts through the bathroom cabinet for some Dayquil, he considers whether or not it would be worth the effort to go to school today. He goes to blow his stuffy nose and all he gets for his trouble is a still stuffy nose and sore sinuses.

 

He decides to take a personal day. He's earned it.

 

To: Daddio

Staying home w a cold today. Can you call the school for me?

 

From: Daddio

Will do. Bad cold?

 

To: Daddio

Eh. More annoying than anything else. Just taking a me day.

 

From: Daddio

Right on.

 

From: Daddio

I'll make the call. Also I'll be late coming home tonight. I'll be going to parent-teacher night straight from work. Don't wait up for me for dinner.

 

To: Daddio

[thumbs up emoji]

 

Stiles had actually completely forgotten all about parent-teacher night. With everything going on, he's surprised the sheriff even remembered it. Stiles tries to remember if there's anything he should be worried about the sheriff hearing, but between raising Noah and his part-part-time job he hasn't been getting into his usual amount of trouble. Although Harris will probably think of something to say, but that's just Harris being a dick.

 

Stiles briefly considers going back to bed, though there's really no point because Noah will be up soon. Stiles walks over to the nursery and pokes his head in. Noah is splayed out on his back in his crib, face turned away from the door and arms stretched over his head. His breathing is deep and even in sleep, but Stiles can tell by the small twitches in his limbs that he won't stay asleep much longer.

 

He backs away from the door and reasons that he can at least have a few minutes of quiet to go over his bulletin board for the nth time.

 

The killing of Jeremy Taggart at the video store has officially moved the HALE FIRE heading to an active position on the board. Whoever the alpha is, it really seems like he's taking revenge for the Hale fire by going after the people responsible for starting it and covering it up. The question is, how many more people were involved?

 

The sounds of Noah waking up coming over the baby monitor interrupt Stiles' musings, and he heads over to the nursery. He finds Noah sitting up in the crib, gripping the bars and watching the door. He lights up when Stiles walks in, babbling excitedly.

 

"Hey, Tiny Pants," Stiles says. "Guess what?" Noah's smile turns into a confused frown as Stiles approaches, and Stiles figures that it's because his stuffy nose is making his voice sound weird.

 

"Yeah, Daddy has a cold. Which means" -he reaches into the crib and lifts Noah out- "we both get to stay home all day!" He raises one hand for a high five, but Noah just looks at it briefly before shoving one of his own hands into his mouth.

 

"Okay, we'll work on that," Stiles says. "How does a new diaper and Cheerios sound?"

 

Noah squeals.

 

***

 

Stiles has never been so happy for Noah's mid-morning nap since the time between when he was born and when Stiles went back to school, back when Stiles had had him the whole day every day.

 

As soon as Noah starts whining and rubbing at his eyes, Stiles takes him upstairs and puts him in the crib. Noah fights sleep for a bit, but it doesn't take too long for him to succumb. Stiles leans on the crib railing, watching him for a bit, the slow rise and fall of his chest still as mesmerizing now as it was back when he was still brand new. Which wasn't that long ago, actually.

 

Sometimes Stiles marvels at how much has changed in a relatively short amount of time. Noah, especially, is the more obvious visual of time passing. It doesn't feel all that long ago that a nurse was putting a tiny baby in Stiles' arms for the first time, and he'd been almost terrified of how small the baby was.

 

Now that baby is almost seven months old and big enough that Stiles needs two arms to hold him for any prolonged length of time. He can hold his own bottle and eat solid food (that he now has the ability to swipe off Stiles' own plate if it's close enough) and sit up on his own and interact with the world around him in ways that makes Stiles excited for what will come next.

 

Although he's hoping that what will come next now is at least an hour-long nap so that he can close his aching eyes for a bit.

 

***

 

In the end, he gets closer to 45 minutes. Though it's not Noah that wakes him.

 

From: Whittemore

If you're not off skipping with McCall then we may have a problem

 

Stiles squints at his phone screen, going cross-eyed in an effort to focus faster.

 

To: Whittemore

What?

 

From: Whittemore

McCall isn't in school today

 

From: Whittemore

Neither is Allison

 

"Fuck," Stiles says. He feels a headache start up in his temples and now his nose is running.

 

To: Whittemore

I'm home sick. No Scott here.

 

From: Whittemore

Think he's with Allison?

 

To: Whittemore

Must be.

 

To: Whittemore

Does Lydia know anything?

 

From: Whittemore

I'll ask and get back to you.

 

Stiles rolls out of bed, blows his nose, and decides it's time for another dose of Dayquil. He goes back to his bed to lay down but doesn't try to go back to sleep because he knows either Noah or his phone will wake him up soon.

 

In the end he turns out to be wrong because the front door opens and then his father is calling for him.

 

"Stiles!"

 

Stiles vaults out of bed and races down the stairs. He makes it to the living room in time to see the sheriff helping Derek settle on the couch.

 

"What happened?" Stiles asks. Because Derek is looking a bit worse for wear. Nowhere near as bad as the wolfsbane bullet incident, but definitely like he's had a tough time of it.

 

"Kate Argent happened," Derek growls.

 

"You don't look like she shot you again," Stiles says.

 

"She didn't," Derek says. He doesn't elaborate. Stiles turns an expectant look on his father.

 

"Everyone had already cleared out by the time I got there," the sheriff says. "I'm still not entirely sure what happened."

 

"They all scattered as soon as they heard the sirens coming," Derek says, a hint of a smirk on his lips. "They didn't think I'd actually involve the police." Stiles arches an eyebrow at him.

 

"Yeah, speaking of, why do you have a deputy uniform shirt on?" He asks, pointing. Derek looks down at where his obviously borrowed shirt is stretched taut over his chest and shoulders.

 

"It's an old spare we had at the station," the sheriff says. "He needed a shirt when we brought him in to file a report."

 

"Like an actual police report?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yup," the sheriff says. "Which officially puts Kate Argent on police radar for non-supernatural related events." Stiles raises his eyebrows and nods.

 

"Good idea," he says.

 

"I thought so," the sheriff says. "Anyway, how's it going here?"

 

"Pretty good," Stiles says. "Noah's down for a nap, Scott's gone AWOL, I haven't overdosed on cold meds yet."

 

"What was that middle one," the sheriff asks, a pained look on his face. Derek sits up straighter on the couch, eyes boring into the side of Stiles' head.

 

"Ah... Jackson texted a little bit ago," Stiles says. "Apparently Scott and Allison aren't in school. Not sure if they're together or not, but I'd bet they are." The sheriff covers his face with his hands and sighs.

 

"Of course," the sheriff says. "Okay, you know what? If we can't get Scott to leave Allison alone, maybe we can get it to work the other way around."

 

"Oh?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," the sheriff says. "I'm heading back to the station. It's time I had another talk with Chris Argent. Derek, you're welcome to stay here. Remember what I said about the house." Derek nods and the sheriff leaves.

 

***

 

From: Whittemore

According to Lydia, Scott and Allison are off on a romantic adventure because it's her birthday today

 

To: Whittemore

I think my dad's on his way to talk to her dad

 

From: Whittemore

Underhanded but possibly effective

 

To: Whittemore

Let's hope

 

***

 

Noah wakes up from his nap not long after Derek arrives. Derek doesn't seem to have anywhere to be in a hurry so Stiles invites him to stay for lunch.

 

"Why aren't you in school today?" Derek asks. He's sitting at the kitchen table watching Stiles frown at the instructions on a frozen pizza box.

 

"Woke up with a cold, decided that I could use a day off," Stiles says. "I'm taking a 'me' day." Noah, sitting in his highchair next to the table, squeals and slaps his hand on the highchair tray. "Noah's just along for the ride."

 

"Huh," Derek says. He flashes his eyes at Noah and smiles when the baby squeals and flaps his arms. Stiles smiles to himself at the sight. He carefully doesn't think about the victim reports from the Hale fire. About the children that were lost in the flames, and what Derek's relationships with them would've been like.

 

"So what's up that Kate Argent seems to keep going after you?" Stiles asks. "She have a grudge or something?"

 

"Just..." Stiles looks up when Derek's pause runs long. The look on his face is troubled.

 

"Just..." Stiles prompts.

 

"Just trying to finish what she started," Derek blurts out. "I guess." He doesn't look at Stiles. Stiles puts the frozen pizza in the oven to avoid saying what's currently on his mind, which goes along the lines of 'OMGWTF'.

 

"So... you're telling me... that Kate's the one who set the fire?" Stiles asks. Because there really has to be only one thing Derek could mean.

 

"No," Derek says. "She wouldn't get her hands dirty like that. But I know she basically organized the whole thing." Stiles starts mentally rearranging his bulletin board.

 

"But you don’t have any proof, though," he says.

 

"She was smart enough to not leave any," Derek says. "Nothing concrete, anyway. Just my word against hers. And the mountain ash at the scene. But what human police department would believe that?"

 

"How do you know for sure it was Kate?" Stiles asks. The look in Derek's eyes when he turns to him makes Stiles suddenly regret asking. Derek doesn't answer the question though; Stiles doesn't know whether to be thankful or disappointed. There's a few minutes of silence aside from Noah's babbling.

 

"So, is Scott always this stupid over his girlfriends?" Derek asks with an obviously forced lightness.

 

"Well, Allison is his first ever girlfriend, so I have no idea," Stiles says.

 

"Huh," Derek says. "Were you like this with your girlfriend? Er, ex?" Stiles shoots Derek a confused look.

 

"I've never had a girlfriend either," he says. "We were both complete outcasts before. We only really spent time with each other."

 

"But." Derek points at Noah.

 

"Oh, yeah," Stiles says. "That was... Hmm... Not sure how to explain that without looking like a total rube."

 

"You don't have to say anything," Derek says.

 

"Nah, it's fine, it just makes me look like a moron," Stiles says. "Noah's mother only slept with me to get back at her ex at the time. She just neglected to tell me about it, and I only found out the next time I saw her and she was already back with the ex. Noah was unexpected, to say the least." Derek's eyebrows shoot up and Stiles shrugs helplessly.

 

"That's..." Derek says.

 

"Stupid, I know," Stiles says. "I really should've seen what was really going on, but, I had a huge crush on her since forever and thought I was finally getting my chance."

 

"That was still a horrible thing she did," Derek says. "That's a kind of betrayal that hurts pretty deep."

 

"I honestly try not to think about it much," Stiles says. "But it sounds like you can relate."

 

"I can a bit," Derek says. "Completely different circumstances, but, still. Being used like that is..."

 

"Yeah..." Stiles says.

 

They go quiet again until the oven timer for the pizza goes off.

 

***

 

From: Daddio

Located Scott and Allison. They're fine.

 

From: Daddio

Chris Argent and Melissa McCall will never be friends, incidentally.

 

To: Daddio

I hope you got anything interesting on video

 

From: Daddio

[eye-roll emoji]

 

***

 

When lunch is over and done with, Stiles takes Derek up to his bedroom to show him the bulletin board.

 

"So this is what I have so far," Stiles says, gesturing to the board with one hand, Noah held in his other arm and chewing on stuffed animal of indeterminate species. Derek walks closer to study it, arms crossed over his chest and face giving nothing away. Stiles worries that he maybe should've removed the list of Hale fire victims beforehand, but it's too late now.

 

"So we know for sure that the video store guy lit the fire?" Derek asks, tapping a finger on the picture of Jeremy Taggart.

 

"I mean, circumstantially," Stiles says. "But cases have been made on that kind of evidence before. Though, our biggest clue is that he was killed by the alpha."

 

"Works for me," Derek says.

 

"So you've been tracking the alpha, any idea who it could be?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Derek says. "I actually thought... I had a crazy idea that it could've been my uncle Peter. But I've gone to visit him a few times and I can't get anything off him that suggests he's capable of even sitting up on his own, never mind all this." He makes a sweeping gesture at the bulletin board.

 

"He does make a good suspect," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah," Derek says. "I remember he could be pretty ruthless at times. So this revenge for the fire isn't something I'd put past him. But I don't think he'd hurt Laura like that."

 

"Were they close?" Stiles asks.

 

"More or less," Derek says. "Peter is my mom's brother, and he was a lot younger than her, closer to our age, really. I might've been a bit closer to him than Laura was, but that was probably because he always got a kick out of messing with me, and I was always easier to mess with than Laura."

 

"Sounds like a good time," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah," Derek says. "It was. Even when he was being a dick. And then I... never mind." He turns away from the board and stares out Stiles' bedroom window. There's something there that Stiles desperately wants to pick at, but he manages to hold himself back.

 

***

 

From: Daddio

On my way to parent-teacher.

 

From: Daddio

I already told Derek he's welcome to stay the night so get some extra sheets out for the couch.

 

To: Daddio

[thumb's up emoji]

 

***

 

From: Whittemore

Heard from Lydia that there's some drama happening with Allison and McCall

 

From: Whittemore

Apparently Allison's dad got into it with McCall's mom.

 

To: Whittemore

That is hilarious and also distressing

 

***

 

Derek is sitting on the living room floor with Noah and the two of them are playing with a little plastic piano. The sight of someone who looks like Derek Hale (hot buff dude with some scruff in a too-tight shirt) playing games with a baby makes Stiles want to swoon. But he doesn't. Because that would be weird.

 

He's decided to cook dinner for them - fancy mac 'n' cheese in the oven - so he's taking advantage of Derek's presence and willingness to occupy the baby and going all-out with it. Homemade bacon bits level of all-out.

 

He's also been texting back-and-forth with Jackson, who is getting intel from Lydia about the whole thing with Scott and Allison. Apparently, Mr Argent and Mrs McCall had a bit of a blowout concerning whether or not Scott and Allison were bad influences for each other, and then Scott and Allison were grounded from each other for skipping school. Then Mrs McCall heard about Kate Argent's latest attack on Derek and proceeded to panic and then flip out at everyone involved. And Stiles has been on the receiving end of Mrs McCall's (well-justified, he can admit) anger before and he does not envy anyone in this scenario.

 

From: Whittemore

There's also some extra judgements from Lydia I don't think you'd be interested in

 

From: Whittemore

But the bottom line is that McCall and Allison are sort of having their very first couple fight

 

To: Whittemore

Ah yes, that noble right of passage

 

To: Whittemore

*rite

 

"I guess Scott and Allison are on the outs at the moment," Stiles says.

 

"Good," Derek says. "Maybe now he'll stay away from her."

 

"I wouldn't hold my breath on it," Stiles says. "He's, like, in love with her. This won't stop him."

 

"He's not in love," Derek says. "He's 16."

 

"Doesn't mean the feelings aren't there," Stiles says. "Or strong." He thinks back on his old feelings for Lydia. How deeply he felt for her and wanted to be with her, until ice cold reality had dropped on him and he came to realize that she wasn’t a safe person to trust with his feelings. He thinks that maybe that's what Scott feels for Allison, and that an equally traumatic shock is what it would take for him to finally get over her. Not that Stiles wants Scott to feel what he felt that day in the cafeteria when he saw Lydia cuddled under Jackson's arm.

 

Although, if that's what it would take to keep him safe…

 

No, Stiles wouldn't wish that sort of pain on anyone he considered a friend.

 

***

 

Stiles' cold has cleared up enough that he can finally breathe through his nose and smell the mac 'n' cheese as it cooks. It's the best he's felt all day. He's dropped a set of sheets on the couch for Derek to use later, all the while apologizing for the current lack of guest room.

 

"Its fine," Derek says.

 

"What happened to where you were staying before?" Stiles asks. "Did Kate Argent kick down your door when she went after you earlier?"

 

"Ah, no," Derek says. "I was staying in my, er, old house and your dad kinda told me I shouldn't do that. Also probably that legally I couldn't be there because it's technically condemned."

 

"Waittaminute," Stiles says. "This whole time you were in town you were staying at your old house? That burned down once? Why?"

 

"I didn't have anywhere else to go." Derek says it almost casually and with a shrug, but Stiles would bet money on him actually having a lot of feelings on the subject. Sad, tragic feelings.

 

Luckily for both of them, Stiles is saved from commenting on that by his phone ringing. His dad is calling him, which he takes a second to be worried about.

 

"Hey, Dad," Stiles says. "Is this call an actual emergency or a 'it's easier to yell at Stiles over the phone' thing?" Maybe Harris was able to make his petty complaints sound more serious than what was actually accurate?

 

"Well," the sheriff says. "You're off the hook for being yelled at because most of your teachers had only good things to say about you because your grades haven't suffered too much considering your 'circumstances', although some of them did say that your concentration in class could be better. Then Harris tried to feed me some bull about how you're one of his worst students even though your grades are among the top in his class. Also I'm not entirely sure if Finstock is an actual teacher or if he just wandered into the school one day and they never made him leave."

 

"Okay, sounds about right," Stiles says. "And, please, Finstock is the best teacher."

 

"He expressed great concern over your essay on the history of male circumcision," the sheriff says. "For economics."

 

"Hey, it all made sense in the end," Stiles says.

 

"Hmm," the sheriff says. "Anyway, I'm just calling to say I'll be home late. We had an incident at the school." Stiles' heartbeat picks up and he can see Derek straightening to attention out of the corner of his eye.

 

"The alpha?" Stiles asks.

 

"No, no," the sheriff says. "Nothing that exciting. A mountain lion suddenly came out to the parking lot."

 

"An actual mountain lion?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yup," the sheriff says. "Chris Argent, ah, handled it. Though it's still weird for one to come this close to civilization. Even though I guess we technically did blame the bus driver and the video store clerk on one."

 

"Yeah, that is weird," Stiles says.

 

"Anyway, I'll be dealing with the paperwork for that one for a bit," the sheriff says. "Is Derek still there?"

 

"Yeah, he said he's fine sleeping on the couch for tonight," Stiles says.

 

"Good," the sheriff says. "I don't want him going back to the old house. For several reasons. I'll see you boys later. Stay out of trouble."

 

"Will do," Stiles says. "I'll save you some supper in the microwave. Enjoy your paperwork."

 

"Har har."

 

***

***

Chapter Text

"Hey," Stiles says.

 

"What are you doing?" Derek asks. Which is a fair question to ask someone who's come to disturb you in the middle of the night.

 

"Just wondering if werewolves can, like, commune with animals," Stiles says.

 

"How so?" Derek asks. There's a rustling noise and Stiles can just make out the shape of Derek in the dark as he sits up on the couch. Neither of them turn on a light.

 

"I keep thinking of the mountain lion from earlier," Stiles says. "Do you think the alpha could've compelled it to run into the parking lot?"

 

"I don't think so," Derek says. "But why would it want to do that in the first place?"

 

"To prove that it exists," Stiles says. "I've looked into this and apparently Beacon Hills historically hasn’t really had an issue with mountain lions attacking people outside of forested areas. So having one suddenly turning up in town would help with the story that it's the most likely suspect for the mauling deaths in town. Like the bus driver and video store guy."

 

"Did you even sleep at all?" Derek asks.

 

"Couldn't," Stiles says. "Too much to think about. Also you sound pretty awake."

 

"Couldn't sleep either," Derek admits.

 

"If neither of us are going to sleep, wanna be useful instead?" Stiles asks.

 

"What do you have in mind?" Derek asks.

 

***

 

"Please tell me you two weren't up all night."

 

Stiles starts in surprise at the sheriff's sudden appearance in his bedroom doorway. Derek doesn't look away from the bulletin board, and Stiles figures that he'd already heard the sheriff approaching with his werewolf hearing.

 

"Um..." Stiles says.

 

"Stiles," the sheriff says. "You have school today. And you already missed yesterday."

 

"I'll be fine," Stiles says with a shrug. "It's not like I haven't gone to school on no sleep before." He has a baby, he's had more than one sleepless night over the past almost seven months. The sheriff makes a face like he wants to argue, but in the end he just throws his hands up and goes to finish getting ready for work. Stiles checks the time and realizes that he technically could fit in a nap before his alarm is set to go off.

 

He doesn't feel particularly tired at the moment though. Wired, maybe. He and Derek had spent the night throwing theories back and forth, trying to solve the mystery of the alpha with the information they have on hand.

 

"Sorry," Derek says. Stiles looks up at him. "I didn't realize the time passing."

 

"Nah, don't worry about it," Stiles says. "I didn't either. It happens. Maybe I'll catch a nap before my alarm. It'll be fine."

 

***

 

It turns out to not be fine.

 

"You look like shit," Jackson says when he meets up with Stiles after lunch.

 

"We can't all be pretty like you," Stiles snarks at him.

 

"That's true," Jackson says. They're in the library, technically skipping class, but they've made it look like they're actually studying so the librarian won't pick up on the fact that they aren't supposed to be here.

 

"Derek and I were up all night going over the evidence on my crime board," Stiles says.

 

"Is that seriously what you're calling it?" Jackson asks, flipping idly through a reference book that's probably at least ten years out of date.

 

"Crazy alpha murder board doesn't have quite the same ring to it," Stiles says.

 

"Fair enough," Jackson says. "Why was Derek at your house all night?"

 

"Dad invited him to stay over because apparently he's been staying at his old house the whole time he's been in town," Stiles says.

 

"You mean the old house out in the preserve?" Jackson asks, both eyebrows raised.

 

"Yup," Stiles says. Stiles has seen the old Hale house before. Many local kids have, out of morbid fascination if nothing else. The last thing Stiles would ever consider it is 'habitable'. "That and I guess Kate Argent attacked him there yesterday."

 

"I remember Lydia saying something about that," Jackson says. "Allison was pretty weirded out about it because now I guess the police are looking for Kate and Allison doesn't think that she's the kind of person who would do whatever it is they're saying she did."

 

"According to Derek she's the kind of person who would orchestrate a mass-murder," Stiles says. Jackson's eyes go wide and he turns a shocked look on Stiles.

 

"You believe him?" He asks.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "That something you think Derek's not telling us about the fire? I think it's to do with how he knows for sure Kate Argent was involved." He remembers the look in Derek's eyes yesterday when Stiles had asked him how he knew Kate was involved. Stiles doesn't think that that depth of pain is something that could easily be manufactured.

 

"Did he know her before the fire?" Jackson asks.

 

"He's never really said," Stiles says. "But I can't really see how he would have if she's a hunter and he's a werewolf. Maybe he just knew of her, if the Argents are supposed to be an old hunting family." Jackson shrugs.

 

"Did he have anything to say about the alpha?" He asks.

 

"Just that he's still trying to track him," Stiles says. A sudden yawn takes him by surprise and his jaw cracks. "Ugh."

 

***

 

Stiles feels completely drained by the time he gets home after school.

 

He finds his father cooking in the kitchen, but doesn't see Derek anywhere.

 

"Did Derek leave?" He asks.

 

"Hey," the sheriff says. "Derek said he had something to do. Didn't say he wasn't coming back though, but he's been out a few hours. How was your day?"

 

"Meh," Stiles says.

 

"That's what you get for staying up all night," the sheriff says.

 

"Yeah, yeah," Stiles mutters. "Anything exciting happen at work?"

 

"We arrested Kate Argent," the sheriff says. Stiles instantly perks up. "And then a lawyer showed up for her and got her released on house arrest for now."

 

"Seriously?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," the sheriff sighs. "That's gonna be a whole thing."

 

 

***

 

Later that evening, Stiles is lying in bed, trying not to fall asleep, when his phone rings. The caller ID shows Scott's name and Stiles briefly debates not answering because he doesn't have the energy to deal with Scott at the moment. But in the end he accepts the call.

 

"Hello?" He asks.

 

"Stiles, what are you doing tonight?" Scott asks. He sounds upbeat, which instantly puts Stiles on edge.

 

"Probably nothing, why?" Stiles asks.

 

"Nothing? Great!" Scott exclaims. "Because I had a great idea."

 

"Oh?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah! I have a plan to draw out the alpha," Scott says.

 

"And why would you want to do that?" Stiles asks.

 

"Because we have to catch him," Scott says. "And if the alpha can use our bond thing to call me out, then maybe it'll work the other way around."

 

"Wait, wait," Stiles says. "Has the alpha been calling you out? Besides that time with the bus driver?"

 

"He's been trying," Scott says. And Stiles is pissed that Scott never thought to mention that to him. Although they haven't really been talking lately. And Stiles supposes that if he were in Scott's shoes he probably wouldn't talk to himself either. But still. "I've been working with Deaton, though, and I'm getting better at ignoring the pull."

 

"And you didn't think this was important information we needed to know about?" Stiles asks. "Scott, something could've happen to you!"

 

"Deaton was handling it, Stiles, it's fine," Scott says.

 

"It's—y'know what? Fine, whatever. If everything's good then that's fine with me," Stiles says. He's pretty sure that it won't take too much longer for the word 'fine' to lose all meaning for him. "So what's your plan? You're gonna call out the alpha?"

 

"Yeah!" Scott says.

 

"Alright, then what?" Stiles asks.

 

"Then we'll trap him," Scott declares. "My mom got some mountain ash from Deaton and I borrowed some off her."

 

"How are you planning to use mountain ash if it's supposed to be used against werewolves? Can you even touch it?" Stiles asks. He makes a mental note to get ahold of some mountain ash of his own, and is low-key annoyed that he'd forgotten to get some before now.

 

"That's where you come in," Scott says. "Humans can use mountain ash, so you can come trap the alpha."

 

"Uhh... sure?" Stiles says. "Did you say you were planning this for tonight?"

 

"Yeah," Scott says. "I'm not doing anything right now, and my mom's at work so she won't even know I went out."

 

"Yeah, no," Stiles says. "I'm not up for anything more exciting tonight than sleeping."

 

"Dude," Scott wheedles.

 

"And even if I was ready tonight? I'd rather get a second opinion on this whole plan," Stiles says.

 

"Man, it's a good plan," Scott says. "Just get the alpha in one place and trap him in mountain ash. Simple."

 

"Did you forget that the alpha could also possibly kill us in the process of all this?" Stiles asks. "It's like a killing machine."

 

"Why do you always have to be like this?" Scott asks.

 

"Either think up a better plan or wait until we can get more people in on it to help," Stiles says. "Either way, I'm not going anywhere tonight." He ends the call before Scott has the chance to say anything.

 

***

 

From: Whittemore

Why am I getting a text from McCall about meeting him at the school tonight?

 

To: Whittemore

Some plan to call out the alpha. Try to talk him out of it.

 

From: Whittemore

Aren't you the one who's supposed to be his keeper?

 

To: Whittemore

Already tried it, clearly didn't work

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Scott has some messed up plan to lure the alpha to the school tonight and catch him with mountain ash.

 

From: Derek Hale

I'll deal with it.

 

***

 

Stiles tries to hold out until at least Noah's bedtime, but the sheriff eventually takes pity on him and offers to do Noah's bedtime routine so Stiles can go to sleep.

 

"You're the best," Stiles says, hugging the sheriff.

 

"Yes I am," the sheriff says, mock-smugly. "Anyway, just go to bed. And maybe you'll learn something from this."

 

"Doubtful, but it's nice of you to think so," Stiles says. The sheriff rolls his eyes. Stiles gives Noah a hug and a kiss and heads upstairs. He takes the quickest shower he's ever taken and pulls on a pair of sweats before face-planting in his bed and immediately falling asleep.

 

***

 

A ringing phone wakes Stiles up and he pries his eyes open feeling like he's barely slept at all. The clock on his nightstand shows him that he's slept maybe two hours. His phone stops ringing, but then quickly starts again. Stiles accepts the call without bothering to check the caller ID.

 

"'Lo?" He mumbles, scrubbing at his eyes with one hand.

 

"We fucked up." It's Jackson. "Bad."

 

"What happened?" Stiles asks, a sudden burst of adrenaline waking him up completely.

 

"McCall called out the alpha," Jackson says. "And now we're all trapped at the school."

 

"I thought you were gonna try talking him out of that," Stiles says. He gets tangled up in his sheets and falls out of bed trying to get to his feet.

 

"I thought I did," Jackson says. "I threatened to tell his mother and it seemed like he backed off. But then I was driving Lydia and Allison home and I guess I was close enough to the school to hear Scott roaring, or whatever."

 

"Shit," Stiles says. "Shit, shit! Now what?"

 

"Now I think Derek's dead, and the alpha has us trapped here, and Lydia and Allison are panicking and McCall just fucking locked us in a classroom and fucked off somewhere!" Jackson is whisper-shouting into the phone, and Stiles' ears are ringing.

 

"What do you mean you think Derek's dead?" He demands. This is so bad. So very bad. Stiles stumbles out into the hallway and runs into his father.

 

"Did you fall out of bed?" The sheriff asks. Stiles just wordlessly thrusts the phone at him and sinks down to the floor. The sheriff follows him down, looking alarmed.

 

"Hello?" He barks into the phone. Stiles watches the sheriff's face pale a bit as Jackson explains what's just happened. "Stay where you are and hide the best you can, I'm on my way." He ends the call and hands Stiles back the phone.

 

"Dad..." Stiles says. His hands are shaking.

 

"Stay in the house," the sheriff says. He helps Stiles to his feet and leads him back to the bed. "Stay here and answer your phone immediately if anyone calls. Any new information you let me know right away, okay?"

 

"You can't go out there by yourself," Stiles says. "You--"

 

"I'm not going alone, trust me," the sheriff says. "I'll be fine and I'll try to be back as quick as I can." He squeezes the back of Stiles' neck once and then jogs out of the room to go get dressed.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Please don't be dead

 

***

 

The next hour is possibly one of the longest of Stiles' life.

 

He spends most of it pacing in circles in his room, slowly working himself up into a panic. At one point he goes into the nursery and lifts a sleeping Noah up out of his crib – somehow managing to not wake him – and the baby is a comforting weight in his arms as Stiles continues to pace.

 

At one point he calls Derek and almost throws his own phone in frustration when there's no answer.

 

He doesn't know what it means that no one has called or texted him with an update yet. Not even his father. He hopes that it means that they're busy dealing with whatever's going down, and not that something worse has happened.

 

Stiles nearly jumps out of his skin when his phone finally rings. The ringtone wakes up Noah, who is not happy about that, so Stiles has to deal with him crying in one ear while he answers the call.

 

"Hello!" He exclaims.

 

"Stiles," The sheriff says. "Why is Noah crying?"

 

"Not important, he's fine," Stiles says. "What happened!? Is everyone okay!? Where's Derek!? Where's Scott!?"

 

"I have Derek, he's alive," the sheriff says. Stiles drops to his knees in the middle of his bedroom. "Scott's fine. Jackson and the girls are fine too. They're all on their way home. I have Derek with me, we'll be there soon."

 

"Okay," Stiles says.

 

"Okay," the sheriff says.

 

***

 

From: Whittemore

I am going to kill McCall and make it look like an accident

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't even try to calm himself down until the sheriff and Derek are inside the house. And then Stiles gets a good look at Derek and starts panicking all over again.

 

"Why are you covered in blood!?" He cries. Between his exhaustion, worrying, and panicking, he's embarrassingly close to bursting into tears. Noah is still crying because now he's feeding off of Stiles' anxiety and Stiles feels awful about that but can't make himself stop.

 

"He's okay, he's healing," the sheriff says.

 

"Healing!?" Stiles exclaims. The sheriff helps Derek into the living room and lowers him gently to the couch. Derek is pale and shaky, and his leather jacket is hanging open to reveal a bloody t-shirt with a large hole in the chest area. Derek closes his eyes and sinks into the couch as soon as the sheriff lets go of him. Stiles rushes over to him and takes in the sight of him.

 

"Jesus Christ," he breathes. Derek slits an eye open to look at him. "What the entire fuck happened!?" The sheriff removes his jacket, which has blood on it, and takes Noah from Stiles' arms before pushing Stiles down onto the couch next to Derek.

 

"I'll go put him down, you two stay here," the sheriff says. "Stiles, relax. Everyone survived. The danger's over for now." Stiles makes wild arm gestures in Derek's direction. "Derek will be fine soon, he just needs to rest a bit." The sheriff leaves the room, Stiles can hear him trying to soothe Noah as he goes. Stiles turns on the couch to face Derek.

 

"Did you get shot again?" Stiles. Derek shakes his head without lifting it from the back of the couch, or opening his eyes. "What happened?"

 

"The alpha," Derek rasps with a wince. "Didn't see him coming."

 

"Christ," Stiles says. His text alert goes off and he checks his phone.

 

From: Whittemore

Back home. Girls got back home. Lydia keeps texting me and freaking out.

 

To: Whittemore

Derek here looking like he got hit by a truck wtf dude??

 

From: Whittemore

Alpha got him just as I got there. Fist through the chest.

 

To: Whittemore

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

 

From: Whittemore

Yeah

 

"You got a fist through the chest!?" Stiles asks, looking over at Derek. "How are you even still alive right now?"

 

"Missed anything important," Derek says. "Healing eventually kicked in. I'll be fine."

 

"Next person who says the word 'fine' is getting punched in the face," Stiles mutters. Derek's chuckle is barely more than a breathy exhale.

 

A wave of pure exhaustion suddenly crashes over Stiles and he finds himself sinking deeper into the couch. He's curled up facing Derek, who is doing a fairly good impression of a corpse, except for minute twitches in his face and the rise and fall of his chest as he breathes.

 

Stiles reaches out and lays a hand on Derek's chest so he can feel him breathing. Derek jerks a bit at the contact but doesn't shoves Stiles' arm away.

 

He doesn't know when he falls asleep.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up the morning after the school attack with a crick in his neck because he'd somehow tipped forward in his sleep and was curled in an awkward position on the couch with his forehead pressed against Derek's arm the whole time . He feels like an old man as he tries to untangle himself, which is completely unfair because he's slept in weirder positions before without incident.

 

Fatherhood has prematurely aged him. He'll go with that.

 

His legs seem to have gone numb in his sleep because trying to stand up only ends up with him on the floor. Which must have made him look incredibly silly because his fall gets him a laugh from Noah, who is sitting in his playpen (which the sheriff must have moved back downstairs) with a front row seat to the show.

 

"Thanks, kid," Stiles mumbles, wincing at the pins-and-needles sensation in his legs. Back up on the couch, Derek is slowly waking up. He grimaces as he sits up straighter, but his colour is a lot better than it had been the night before, so Stiles figures he's doing a lot better.

 

"What time is it?" Derek asks.

 

"Almost lunch time," the sheriff says, walking into the room. He's in his uniform, but doesn't look like he's in any hurry to leave.

 

"What!?" Stiles exclaims. "But, school?"

 

"Yeah, about that," the sheriff says. "The school is closed for the rest of the week."

 

"Did the alpha destroy part of the building or something?" Stiles asks. He turns to Derek, who shrugs.

 

"Ah, no," the sheriff says. "He destroyed the janitor."

 

"Oh, that's… unfortunate," Stiles says. "Wait, was he someone else connected to the fire?"

 

"It's looking unlikely, based on preliminary checks," the sheriff says. "No criminal record, and only moved to the area two years ago. It's more likely a case of wrong place, wrong time." Stiles winces. So not only had luring the alpha to the school to capture him not worked, it had almost gotten Derek killed, and gotten an innocent person killed.

 

"How'd you deal with the alpha, anyway?" Stiles asks, cautiously standing up.

 

"I didn't," the sheriff says. "I had Chris Argent do it. All I had to do was mention that Allison was there and he volunteered himself to help."

 

"Did he get the alpha?" Stiles asks.

 

"No, he only managed to wound it and drive it off," the sheriff says. "Luckily he managed to do it before the other officers got there. Because I saw the thing and, let me tell you, there is no way we could pass it off as anything resembling a mountain lion."

 

"Mountain lion from hell, maybe," Derek mutters. Stiles can't stop a giggle from breaking out. Derek smirks briefly, then looks down at himself and grimaces.

 

"Derek, why don't you hit the shower," the sheriff says. "I'm sure we can find you some clothes until you get a chance to bring your own stuff over."

 

"Yeah," Derek says, levering himself off the couch. His movements seem a bit stiff, but he looks fine otherwise.

 

"Stiles, you go get dressed," the sheriff says. "I have to head back out soon." Stiles looks down at himself and realizes that he's been shirtless this entire time. He feels his face heat and quickly crosses his arms over his chest. Not that that does any good since everyone has already seen everything. Stiles remembers seeing Derek without his shirt back when he was shot and feels inadequate.

 

"Right, I'll go and, y'know, do. That," Stiles says. "Be right back!" He races up the stairs to his room, fake old-man joints be damned.

 

***

 

To: Whittemore

Any damage this morning?

 

From: Whittemore

My parents are kind of freaked that this is the second time I've almost died.

 

To: Whittemore

Second?

 

From: Whittemore

Video store

 

To: Whittemore

Oh yeah

 

To: Whittemore

How's that going?

 

From: Whittemore

My mother is insisting on enforced bonding time

 

To: Whittemore

Pretty harmless in the grand scheme of things I'd say

 

From: Whittemore

Also Lydia's on my back about trying to figure out what the alpha is.

 

From: Whittemore

And Allison is asking questions too. Also I think she officially broke up with McCall

 

To: Whittemore

!?

 

From: Whittemore

She's angry at him for locking us in the classroom to go after the alpha.

 

To: Whittemore

Of course

 

***

 

"Are you sure we shouldn't get you examined somewhere?" Stiles asks. He's staring at Derek's chest like if he stares hard enough he'll suddenly develop x-ray vision and be able to see through Derek's shirt. "Just to make sure everything really is back to normal?"

 

"I'd feel it if anything was really wrong," Derek says. "Besides, where would I go? Not sure the hospital would be a good idea."

 

"Deaton?" Stiles asks. But he knows even as he says it that Derek wouldn't go for that. And that's confirmed when Derek frowns at the suggestion. "Or Scott's mom. She's a nurse."

 

"Seriously, Stiles, I'm fine," Derek says.

 

"Seriously, Derek," Stiles snarks. "You literally got punched through the chest."

 

"I got better," Derek says with a shrug. Stiles narrows his eyes at him. Noah, lying on a blanket on the living room floor, complains that he's not getting enough attention. Stiles swoops over him and tickles his belly, making over-exaggerated monster noises that make the baby giggle madly. A snort from behind him makes Stiles' cheeks heat slightly, but making a fool of himself in front of Derek is a small price to pay to entertain his kid.

 

"So did you want to go get your stuff, or are you fine with… that?" Stiles asks, waving a hand at Derek's torso. The only things that the sheriff and Stiles own that will properly fit Derek are some of the sheriff's old worn-out sweats (Derek, Stiles decides, has too many muscles). They're certainly comfortable (Stiles has stolen them enough times to know), but not exactly presentable if Derek wants to go out.

 

Derek looks down at himself. "I'd like to be wearing my own things, but I'm not really in any hurry."

 

"Just say the word," Stiles says. "It's not all at your old house, is it?"

 

"No," Derek says. "I kept everything in the car and I hid the car."

 

"Smart move," Stiles says.

 

***

 

Noah falls asleep in Derek's arms for his afternoon nap. Stiles is all set to move him to his crib, but the look of surprised awe on Derek's face when he realizes what's happened has Stiles deciding to not interfere. He knows how peaceful it can be to hold a sleeping baby, and he figures that Derek could use some of that right now. Especially after what he went through last night.

 

Derek does frown at the picture Stiles tries to take in secret on his phone (damn shutter noise), but Stiles only shrugs. He finds something for them to watch on Netflix and prepares to settle down and relax for a little while.

 

And then the doorbell rings.

 

Stiles looks over at Derek, who is frowning in the direction of the front door.

 

"It's Scott," he says. "And his mother." Stiles' eyebrows shoot up in surprise. Scott has been coming over less and less since Noah was born, and he hasn't been over at all since all the werewolf stuff really started kicking off.

 

"Wonder what they want," Stiles says. He gets up from the couch and goes to open the door. Mrs McCall is standing there, with Scott standing sullenly off to the side. He has a duffel bag hanging off one shoulder.

 

"Hey," Stiles says.

 

"Hi, Stiles," Mrs McCall says with a tired smile. "Sorry to barge in on you like this. Can we come in?"

 

"Sure," Stiles says. He steps back and gives them both room to pass through the door, which Stiles closes behind them. "If you're looking for Dad he's at work."

 

"Yeah, I figured," Mrs McCall says on a sigh. "What with the whole… thing that happened down at the school." She shoots Scott a look at this. Scott looks away, chastised. There's been an angry lecture sometime between last night and this afternoon, Stiles can tell.

 

"Yeah, I don't think this one can be passed off as a mountain lion," Stiles says. "I'm pretty sure they aren't known for breaking into buildings." Mrs McCall raises her eyebrows in agreement. Stiles leads them into the living room, where Scott stops in his tracks in the doorway.

 

"What's he doing here?" he asks, pointing at Derek on the couch.

 

"He's sort of staying here for a bit," Stiles says with a shrug.

 

"Seriously?" Scott asks.

 

"Yeah?" Stiles says. Derek doesn't make any move to get up from the couch. Stiles is pretty sure that it's because he's afraid to move in case he wakes Noah. Though the way he's currently glaring at Scott doesn't make him look any less intimidating, sleeping baby or no.

 

"Oh, your dad never mentioned that," Mrs McCall says.

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"I was talking with him earlier," Mrs McCall says. "About Scott coming to stay here for a bit. I knew that he was in contact with Derek a lot, but he didn't say anything about Derek staying here."

 

"I don't have to stay here," Derek says, looking a bit uncomfortable.

 

"You don't have anywhere else to go," Stiles points out. "Look, let's just wait until we hear what Dad has to say. He can clear all this up."

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Is Scott moving in?

 

From: Daddio

Are they there already? Hold on I'll be home soon.

 

***

 

The tension and awkwardness is thick in the living room as everyone waits for the sheriff to arrive. Stiles and Derek stay on the couch, Scott and Mrs McCall in the arm chairs. Stiles is trying to figure out a way to break the silence that won't devolve into a shouting match. In the end he just takes out his phone to distract himself.

 

To: Whittemore

There might be a slim possibility that both Scott and Derek will be staying over at the house for a bit

 

From: Whittemore

You poor bastard

 

To: Whittemore

Thanks

 

From: Whittemore

[sunglasses smile emoji]

 

To: Whittemore

!!!!!!

 

To: Whittemore

A smiley face!!! You do like me!!! :D :D

 

From: Whittemore

No

 

Stiles immediately jumps to his feet when the front door suddenly opens. The sheriff walks into the living room and surveys the scene.

 

"Hello," he says.

 

"Yes, hi," Stiles says. "What's happening?"

 

"Sorry about this," Mrs McCall says. "I didn't know you hadn't talked to Stiles yet."

 

"It's fine," the sheriff says. "I should've done it earlier but I kept getting distracted. On another note, janitor is completely unrelated to the Hale fire. Had a few deputies looking into him, couldn't find a thing."

 

"Yikessss…" Stiles hisses. "But, um, I guess on the bright side of that, we know the alpha isn't shy about killing when he thinks he has to. Though… why not just bite him?"

 

"Probably saw what happened last time and decided it wasn't worth the headache," Derek says, jerking his head in Scott's direction.

 

"Hey!" Scott exclaims, offended.

 

"Before we get too far into any arguments here," the sheriff says. "I did tell Melissa that it was fine for Scott to stay here for a few days. At least for the full moon."

 

"That's this week," Stiles points out.

 

"Yep," the sheriff says.

 

"Between my shifts and Scott's schedule, it's been hard to really keep track of him," Mrs McCall says, sliding a sad-eyed look at her son. "After last night especially it's clear that I can't trust him to be on his own. I thought it was a problem when he was just sneaking around with Allison, but now… Anyway, I thought it would be better for everyone if I had help keeping an eye on him. And with Derek working with John at times, I figured that he'd be better to help Scott with werewolf stuff."

 

"Deaton can help," Scott mutters stubbornly.

 

"Deaton has a full-time job and so far has been less than helpful," Mrs McCall snaps. Stiles eyes her warily. He actually has no idea how Deaton has been helping Scott cope with being a werewolf, but it looks like it hasn't been going as well as he'd assumed.

 

"Deaton doesn't know as much about being a werewolf as a werewolf would," Derek says. "There's only so much he can do to help, and, in my experience, he generally makes it a habit to be hard to work with."

 

"Just what does he do?" Stiles asks. "Like, in the grand scheme of things?"

 

"Right now? As far as I know he's just an unallied magic-user," Derek says. "Though when I was younger he worked with my pack. Mostly with my mother, but I never knew for sure what exactly he did."

 

"Regardless, it would make me feel a whole lot better if I had some help other than Deaton to keep Scott out of trouble," Mrs McCall says. "At least until we're past the full moon and things settle down with the Argents."

 

"Things probably won't settle down with the Argent until they leave town," Derek points out. "And they won't leave town until they finish what they came here to do."

 

"Which is what?" the sheriff asks.

 

"If it were just Chris and his wife? I'd say it was to deal with the alpha," Derek says. "Now that Kate is here, and she's apparently brought buddies, I'm not convinced they'll stop with just the alpha."

 

"You think they'll come after Scott?" Mrs McCall asks.

 

"Probably, if they figure out he's a werewolf," Derek says. "They’ve already come after me."

 

"So we'll have to be extra careful and vigilant," the sheriff says. "I think it'll be safer for now for Derek and Scott to stay here. The Argents, at least, should have enough sense to not directly attack the town sheriff. And the alpha, hopefully, will be too focused on his revenge plot to come here causing trouble."

 

"Let's hope," Derek says.

 

***

 

The plan is for Scott to take Stiles' room, and for Stiles to bunk in the nursery. Derek gets to keep his spot on the couch.

 

Scott looks around Stiles' room as Stiles grabs what he'll need for the night. Eventually Scott wanders over to Stiles' crime board.

 

"What's this?" Scott asks. Stiles looks up briefly from where he's rummaging through a dresser drawer.

 

"That's my evidence for the Hale fire and alpha-related stuff," he says.

 

"Why does it say that Allison's aunt is the one who planned the fire?" Scott asks.

 

"Because Derek said that she's the one who did it and I believe him," Stiles says.

 

"Have you ever thought," Scott says. "That if the fire was started by hunters that there was a reason for that?"

 

"No," Stiles says. "I can't even begin to think of a reason why someone would feel the need to burn an entire family to death, Scott."

 

"But they were werewolves," Scott says, looking up at the board. "Werewolves who could've been dangerous. Maybe Kate, if she really did do it, had a reason."

 

"Yeah, the reason is that she's a genocidal lunatic," Stiles says, seething. Thinking about the victims of the Hale fire, the list of which is on the board directly in front of Scott's face, makes his blood boil. "There were children in that fire. A literal baby. Tell me how they could've been so dangerous that they'd need to be eliminated."

 

"Maybe not them," Scott says, visibly backtracking. "I'm just saying--"

 

"Just because she's Allison's aunt doesn't make her a good person," Stiles says. "Even outside the fire, we know she isn't. Just based on what she's done to Derek since she's been in town it's obvious that she's a loose cannon."

 

"Yeah, like Derek's a saint," Scott scoffs.

 

"As far as I know, the worst thing Derek's done since he's been in town is be a dick to you," Stiles says. "That's not a criminal offense worthy of constantly being under threat from the self-instated werewolf police." And with that he whirls around and stalks out of the room.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

From: Unknown

What do you know about my aunt?

 

To: Unknown

??!

 

From: Unknown

This is Allison

 

To: Allison Argent

Why do you have this number?

 

From: Allison Argent

Scott gave me your number. He says you know weird things about my aunt Kate.

 

To: Allison Argent

I am not the person who should be answering any questions about her.

 

***

 

Stiles wakes up the day of the full moon very much anxious. His mood doesn't improve much when he finds out that there's a lacrosse practice that afternoon and that Scott plans to attend. He's already on-edge with the tension in the house between Scott and Derek and he doesn't need any more grief in his life. And yet.

 

Of course Scott lets him know about the practice on the drive to school, which is back on now that the police have finished dealing with the janitor's crime scene (though the gym is still closed for now), so Stiles has no real chance to try to convince him to skip it.

 

"Are you serious!?" Stiles demands after Scott makes his announcement.

 

"Yeah," Scott says. "I can't skip practice. And I think Coach thinks I'm really doing well."

 

"Scott, it's only your second full moon," Stiles says. "Is this really a good idea?"

 

"I can control it, Stiles," Scott insists.

 

"Can you, though?" Stiles asks. "The full moon is different than just another average day. You know this."

 

"Look, as long as I concentrate on my anchor, I'll be fine," Scott says.

 

"And your anchor is…"

 

"Allison, of course."

 

"I thought she broke up with you." Stiles looks over at Scott in time to see a surprised expression cross Scott's face before he clenches his jaw.

 

"She didn't," Scott says. "She was just a bit freaked out about the whole thing with the alpha. Once I talk to her today I can smooth everything out and we'll be fine again."

 

"You haven't been talking to her since that night?" Stiles asks, surprised. Because he'd seen Scott on his phone over the past few days. And he himself had gotten texts from Allison because Scott had given her his number.

 

"She doesn't want to talk about it over text," Scott admits.

 

"Of course she doesn't," Stiles says. "And I suppose the fact that everyone keeps telling you to stay away from her means nothing to you?"

 

"Dude, she's like…" Scott says. "I think I really love her, y'know?" Stiles bites his lip to keep from saying anything, because he can't come up with anything positive to say to that.

 

***

 

To: Whittemore

So lacrosse practice on a full moon

 

To: Whittemore

How excited are we?

 

From: Whittemore

McCall still saying he's coming?

 

To: Whittemore

Yup

 

To: Whittemore

Don't suppose there's any chance we can make Coach keep him out for today?

 

From: Whittemore

No, McCall is like the second best player, no way is Coach gonna do anything to bench him if he doesn't have to

 

From: Whittemore

Even for a practice

 

To: Whittemore

We can tell Coach about werewolves?

 

From: Whittemore

And then we'll have to explain it to your dad why Coach will go after McCall with a wooden stake

 

To: Whittemore

That's vampires

 

From: Whittemore

You have met Coach, right?

 

To: Whittemore

Ah, yeah, fair enough

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Are vampires real?

 

From: Derek Hale

Not that I know of

 

From: Derek Hale

Why?

 

To: Derek Hale

No reason

 

From: Derek Hale

Stiles!?

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Staying after school for lacrosse practice just in case

 

From: Daddio

I'm getting off early today, want me to swing by and pick up the baby?

 

To: Daddio

That would make my life infinitely easier

 

***

 

The sheriff meets Stiles in the back parking lot when school lets out.

 

"Thanks for this," Stiles says as he moves Noah's carseat from the Jeep to the cruiser.

 

"No problem," the sheriff says. "Honestly I think I'll enjoy an afternoon where all I'll have to worry about is entertaining an infant."

 

"The good old days, huh?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," the sheriff says. "Anyway, have fun, I guess. And be careful. Derek said he'll be hanging around out of sight in case something goes wrong." Knowing that actually makes Stiles feel a lot better about the whole situation. He drops a kiss on Noah's nose as he straps him into the carseat, and then waves as the sheriff drives out of the parking lot. Then he climbs into the Jeep and drives to the parking lot closer to the lacrosse field.

 

Jackson is there to meet him, leaning against the back of a set of bleachers with his arms crossed over his chest and a serious look on his face.

 

"We may have a problem," he says when Stiles walks up to him.

 

"Already?" Stiles asks. He looks at the field over Jackson's shoulder, but can't see Scott anywhere. "Has practice even started yet?"

 

"Chris Argent is here," Jackson says. "Apparently the only way Allison could come here to hang out with Lydia is if her father came with her to make sure she wasn't sneaking off to see McCall." Stiles puts his face in his hands and groans.

 

"Oh this just keeps getting better and better," he mumbles.

 

"Well, there's one upside," Jackson says. "Apparently Kate had wanted to come too, but she couldn't because of, like, house arrest protocol or something."

 

"Do we have to worry about her sneaking around somewhere?" Stiles asks. "Because my dad said that Derek would be keeping an eye on things out of sight and I'd rather they not run into each other."

 

"Let's hope she has the sense to stay home," Jackson mutters.

 

"Jackson? There you are." Allison suddenly appears from around the set of bleachers. "I think Coach is looking for you? He keeps looking around and muttering you and Scott's names?"

 

"Is Scott missing too?" Stiles asks.

 

"Not really," Allison shrugs. "I sent Lydia to find him and deliver a message to him from me so I think they're both still in the school."

 

"Lydia agreed to be a go-between for you?" Stiles asks.

 

"My parents are monitoring my phone so I can't really call or text Scott to give away that we aren't completely as broken up as they think we are," Allison says with a shrug. "Lydia volunteered to help."

 

"That seems… nice of her," Stiles says.

 

"You don't like Lydia much, do you?" Allison asks. Stiles shares a quick look with Jackson, who shrugs.

 

"It's a long story," Stiles says. And this is basically official proof that neither Scott nor Lydia have told Allison anything about Stiles' history with Lydia. Unless Allison is fishing, but there'd be no real point to that, it's not really information she can use for anything. "And based on that I know that Lydia's motives tend to be more self-serving than anything else."

 

"She's been a good friend to me so far," Allison says. "I think friendships between girls are different than the ones between girls and boys."

 

"Lydia and I were never friends," Stiles says. Which stings a bit, but not nearly as much as it would have before. Stiles isn't sure what to do with Allison's confused frown.

 

"WHITTEMORE!" Coach bellows from the field and Jackson, Stiles, and Allison all jump to attention.

 

"That's my cue," Jackson says. "Time to break in the new co-captain." That last bit comes out in a bitter mutter, which immediately piques Stiles' interest.

 

"Co-captain?" he asks.

 

"McCall," Jackson says.

 

"Oh, how exciting," Allison says. "Er, for him, anyway."

 

"Yeah, exciting," Jackson says. "Especially when the other guys are gonna use this opportunity to 'initiate' him." He gives Stiles a significant look before turning and jogging to the field. Stiles' heart skips a beat.

 

"That doesn't sound good," Allison says.

 

"I'm pretty sure it's nothing," Stiles says. "Boys' sports, y'know, hazing is sort of just a thing. That happens. A lot. C'mon, let's go get good seats to watch this."

 

"Is that why you didn't join the team too?" Allison asks. "The hazing?"

 

"It was more a combination of that, not being good at sports, and, y'know, parenting," Stiles says. "Also Jackson was kind of a dick to me for a long time so I didn't want to deal with that either."

 

"Really? You seem kinda close now," Allison says.

 

"Yeah, well," Stiles says. "Things happened." Stiles automatically follows Allison up a set of bleachers to where her father it sitting.

 

"Hello, Stiles," Chris says. "No baby today?"

 

"Hi, Mr Argent," Stiles says. "Got the afternoon off today, thought I'd spend it with Scott. We don't get the chance to hang out much these days."

 

"Babies are a lot of work," Chris says.

 

"They certainly are," Stiles says.

 

"Which is why I'm glad that Allison has decided to get a bit of distance from Scott," Chris says. "Though I can't imagine he's thrilled about it. He's your best friend, right?"

 

"DAD!?" Allison exclaims, face going bright red. Stiles low-key wants to die on the spot. Where's a well-timed lightning strike when he needs one? His phone goes off in his pocket and he checks it while Chris and Allison are busy bickering.

 

From: Derek Hale

What the hell are you doing??

 

To: Derek Hale

Fuck if I know dude

 

To: Derek Hale

Where are you?

 

From: Derek Hale

Around

 

From: Derek Hale

Be careful around Argent, we don't know what he knows

 

To: Derek Hale

Roger

 

Stiles looks up from his phone to find Lydia suddenly sitting next to him. He's not sure when she got there, or what to do about her. Luckily for him and his nerves, Lydia doesn't seem too inclined to make conversation with him. Or acknowledge his existence in any way. Which honestly works for him.

 

"So, do you have any pictures of Noah with you?" Allison asks.

 

"Sure," Stiles says. He feels Lydia stiffen beside him even as he turns to Allison with his photo app open.

 

This is going to be a long practice.

 

***

 

It becomes clear pretty quickly to Stiles that some of the other players are deliberately going after Scott on the field. It's pretty obvious that they're taking things extremely seriously even though this is just a practice. This worries Stiles because he's sure this sort of aggression isn't helpful for Scott's control.

 

"I never knew that lacrosse could be this… violent," Chris Argent comments.

 

"It usually isn't," Allison says. "Not that I've seen. Even during a game."

 

"It's because Scott was just named co-captain," Lydia announces from Stiles' other side. "As the newest player on the team, some of the other players don't really feel like he deserves it." Stiles' phone gets a text message.

 

From: Derek Hale

Any ideas on how we can get him out of there?

 

To: Derek Hale

Not off the top of my head, I'll try to think of something

 

Stiles notices Jackson heading towards the players' bench for a water break.

 

"I'll be right back," he says, and practically falls over himself going down the bleachers. Jackson looks up at his approach and spits out a mouthful of water.

 

"What?" he asks.

 

"Derek's getting worried," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah, the guys are kinda going at him hard." They both turn to the field in time to see Scott elbow Danny in the face. Danny goes down.

 

"Oh shit," Stiles says. Jackson runs back out onto the field. Stiles isn't sure what to do here. He pulls out his phone to text Derek just as Lydia and Allison go running past him.

 

"That got rather exciting." Chris Argent appears next to Stiles, hands in his pockets.

 

"Everybody likes Danny," Stiles says. "This isn't gonna go over well."

 

"I'm sure it was just an accident," Chris comments. Stiles fidgets nervously. He can't text Derek with Chris standing right next to him. Everyone on the field seems to be gathered around Danny, though Scott is standing off to one side with his head turned to face the woods. Two of the other players help Danny to his feet and start walking him off the field. Stiles can see the blood running down Danny's face from where he's standing.

 

Yikes.

 

"I can't fucking believe you!" The shout is unexpected and seems to get everyone's attention. It's Jackson. Yelling at Lydia. Stiles watches as Lydia says something to Jackson with a smirk on her face, but the smirk disappears at something Jackson says to her before he whirls around and stalks off towards the school. He rips his helmet off and throws it to the ground hard enough for it to bounce in the grass. He looks furious.

 

Coach is yelling at everyone and the remaining players start to get back into position, and Lydia and Allison get off the field. Stiles sees Scott get reamed out by Coach, but he's still allowed to stay on the field. Stiles moves away from Chris Argent.

 

To: Derek Hale

Are you still watching?

 

From: Derek Hale

Yeah

 

To: Derek Hale

K, I'm gonna go see what's up with Jackson

 

From: Derek Hale

I'll let you know if something happens out here

 

***

 

Stiles finds Jackson in the locker room sitting on a bench with his face in his hands. He's not sure if he should approach, but he ends up taking a seat on the other end of the bench.

 

"What happened?" he asks. Jackson raises his head to look at Stiles, and it looks like he's trying not to cry. Stiles blinks at him in surprise. "Danny's fine, right?"

 

"Danny's fine," Jackson says.

 

"So…"

 

"It's Lydia," Jackson grinds out. "Got to McCall to get back at me."

 

"Er, when you say 'got to'…" Stiles says. Jackson gives him a look. It takes Stiles a minute, but then he gets it. "Oh!"

 

"There it is."

 

"Oh, god. Was that earlier? When Allison… Oh shit! How…"

 

"She didn't have sex with him," Jackson says, with a grim smile. "Guess she learned that lesson."

 

"Then what?"

 

"She just 'made out with him a little'," Jackson says, with finger quotes. "No big deal, apparently. But I should apparently consider that incentive to do better, because Lydia only wants the best, don't you know."

 

"What's that have to do with anything?" Stiles asks.

 

"McCall's quick rise to co-captain," Jackson says. "It took me a year to get the captain spot. McCall's barely been on the team a month. Lydia thinks he'll be better than me soon. And then it'll be back to just one captain, and it won't be me if I don't shape up."

 

"That’s cold," Stiles says. That's more than cold, that’s… Stiles isn't sure what, but it's not good. "Shit."

 

"Yeah," Jackson says. "Shit."

 

"You wanna cut out early?" Stiles asks.

 

"Sure, why not?" Jackson asks. He doesn't bother changing as he lets Stiles lead the way out of the locker room through the school entrance, out of sight of the people on the field. They're both silent as they get into the Jeep and drive away.

 

***

 

From: Derek Hale

Scott on his way to the house. Hanging onto his control.

 

To: Derek Hale

Me and Jackson and Dad here, we can handle him

 

To: Derek Hale

Dad has mountain ash apparently

 

From: Derek Hale

Good. Keep him contained. I'll be there soon.

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't know what to say to Scott when he gets back to the house after practice is over. Jackson is sitting, quiet and sullen, in the living room, still in his practice gear, and not making eye-contact with anyone. The sheriff, who doesn't know what's going on beyond full moon drama, announces at large that whatever he's cooking will be ready soon.

 

Scott looks a bit agitated. He keeps convulsively opening and closing his fists, and Stiles thinks he can see a hint of claw at times. Stiles manages to catch Jackson's eye and gets a nod. Jackson heads upstairs without a word and with, Stiles knows, a bag of mountain ash in his pocket.

 

"Hey, Scott," Stiles says. He'd been playing with Noah on the floor, and now he sits the baby in his lap. "I hoped you ended up apologizing to Danny."

 

"I'll do it tomorrow," Scott says. "He was already gone by the time practice ended." There's a palpable sense of 'threat' in the air, and Stiles isn't sure if it's because Scott's just throwing off that aura or if Stiles' anxiety is manufacturing it. Either way, Stiles can tell that Noah is picking up on something because he's clinging close to Stiles.

 

The front door opens and closes and then Derek is there. Scott turns and flashes his eyes at him. Derek doesn't rise to the bait, just looks blandly at Scott and crosses his arms over his chest. That just seems to upset Scott more, and he growls. Stiles gets to his feet.

 

"Hey, Derek, why don't you go put Noah in his high chair, I have something to show Scott upstairs." He walks over and presses Noah into Derek's arms. Noah goes without complaint, seeming happy to see Derek. Stiles motions for Scott to follow him upstairs, but doesn't touch him.

 

Jackson is waiting for them in Stiles' room, sitting in Stiles' desk chair. Stiles notes the empty plastic bag on his desk and a quick glance to the floor shows the line of black ash all along the baseboards in the room, with only a gap at the door. Jackson doesn't get up from the chair until Scott is fully in the room and seated on the bed.

 

"You brought me up here to show me Jackson?" Scott asks.

 

"No," Stiles says. Jackson silently makes his way over to the door and kneels down in the hallway. Scott watches him confusedly as Jackson uses a pile of mountain ash beside the door frame to close the line that he'd put all around the room. Scott doesn't realize what he's doing until it's too late to stop it.

 

"What is that?" he demands, jumping to his feet.

 

"It was either that or chaining you up," Stiles says. "This way is more foolproof." Scott turns to Stiles, eyes glowing yellow. Stiles stands his ground, not moving away from where he's standing next to the desk.

 

"You can't keep me here," Scott says.

 

"Actually," Jackson says, making a sweeping motion at the ash on the floor, "we clearly can. This way we can keep you from running off to tangle with the alpha. Or running into any hunters. Or making out with other people's girlfriends."

 

"Is that what this is about?" Scott asks. "She's the one that kissed me. It's not my fault that you're such a shitty boyfriend that Lydia feels like she has to keep going off to other guys." Jackson's face twists in anger.

 

"You don't know a goddamn thing, McCall," Jackson snarls.

 

"I know that Lydia would've done a whole lot more if we'd had the time," Scott says. The look on his face is mean, and Stiles briefly contemplates jumping out the window just to escape all the negativity. It's almost like Scott and Jackson have forgotten he's here. He hears footsteps on the stairs and hopes that it's someone coming to de-escalate the situation.

 

"Maybe," Jackson says. "And maybe I'll go swing by Allison's later. Now that you're stuck in here, there's no way you can stop me." Scott roars and lunges at the door. Jackson scrambles back until he bumps against the wall opposite. Stiles jerks away from Scott, which lands him further into the room. Scott bounces off the mountain ash barrier, stuck in the room. But now Stiles is also stuck in the room because Scott is practically in the doorway.

 

Footsteps pound up the stairs and then suddenly Derek is there, eyes glowing blue and lips pulled back to reveal fangs. But he can't get past the barrier any more than Scott can.

 

"You need to calm down," Derek says.

 

"NO!" Scott shouts. Stiles sees the sheriff appear over Derek's shoulder. His eyes are wide as he takes in the situation and starts ushering Jackson downstairs. "Tell him to leave Allison alone!"

 

"This isn't about Allison!" Derek shouts back. Scott roars at him. Stiles is convinced they're going to end up with a noise complaint from the neighbours. Which would be a hilarious thought in any other situation. Derek and Stiles lock eyes over Scott's shoulder and Stiles shrugs helplessly. He can't go anywhere until Scott moves away from the door. He doesn't think trying to sneak by would get him very far.

 

Scott is angry and feeling the pull of the full moon. He's dangerous, and clearly not able to be the Scott Stiles is more used to. Stiles is pretty sure this is the most danger he himself has been in since the whole werewolf thing started.

 

He takes a step back, thinking that maybe he'd be better off going out the window after all, and the sound must alert Scott because he whirls around and pins Stiles in place with a glowing yellow gaze. Time seems to freeze, and then Scott lunges.

 

Stiles can't even find enough air to shriek as he throws himself out of the way. He's unbelievably lucky in that he manages to get out of Scott's way in time, bounce off his bed, and land relatively close to the door. There's a crash behind him that's probably Scott taking out his nightstand. He scrambles to get out of the room and as soon as he sticks one hand past the barrier, Derek is grabbing it and pulling Stiles into the safety of the hallway.

 

In another stroke of luck, Stiles manages to somehow not disturb the line of mountain ash in front of the door. Which is good because Scott ends up bouncing off it when he tries to leap out of the room again. Derek is practically crushing Stiles to his chest, which Stiles does not take any issue with because at least he's not being gouged by Scott's claws, which are out and looking particularly lethal.

 

Stiles is finding it hard to breathe at the moment, and he doesn't fight it when Derek drags him downstairs and away from Scott's enraged howling.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles doesn't stick around once he's rescued from his own best friend in his own bedroom.

 

Instead the sheriff sends him, Jackson, and Noah outside while he and Derek try to deal with things in the house. They end up huddling in the Jeep, listening to Scott freaking out in the house.

 

"I never want to go through something like that ever again," Stiles says. He's in the passenger seat, cradling Noah to his chest and running a soothing hand up and down his back, even though Noah seems perfectly fine, if not a bit confused as to why he's in the Jeep but not in his car seat. Jackson has ended up in the driver's seat, and he looks about as shell-shocked as Stiles feels.

 

"You think he was that close to snapping during practice?" Jackson asks. "Danny only ended up with a bloody nose, imagine how much worse it could've been." Stiles doesn't want to imagine that. Doesn't want to think that someone like Scott, who has never been any sort of threatening and has never been prone to violence, could hurt someone so seriously.

 

"I don't think so," Stiles says. "Couldn't have been. This is more like him out of control with anger."

 

"Good thing we didn't go with chains," Jackson says.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. His phone goes off in his pocket.

 

From: Allison Argent

Do you know where Scott is right now? He's not answering my texts.

 

Stiles puts his phone away.

 

***

 

Derek and the sheriff come outside after a little while. Stiles can still hear Scott up in his room, and he's not sure he really wants to know what's going on in there right now. The sheriff opens the Jeep's passenger side door and pulls Stiles and Noah into a hug.

 

"Are you alright?" The sheriff asks.

 

"Shaken up, but otherwise fine," Stiles says. Derek is standing off to the side and quietly observing the Jeep and its occupants. There's a crash from upstairs that has him looking up, and Stiles is really surprised that none of the neighbours are coming over to complain.

 

"What are we supposed to do with him like this?" Jackson asks.

 

"Ideally, we'd get him to calm down by using his anchor," Derek says.

 

"I think Allison is his anchor," Stiles points out.

 

"Oh, of course," Jackson mutters.

 

"Should we... bring her here?" The sheriff offers. "Not in the house, just close enough that he can tell she's nearby."

 

"I can't see Chris Argent ever going for that," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah," the sheriff says. He turns to Derek. "You seem to be handling the full moon well enough."

 

"I've been dealing with full moons since I was born," Derek says. "And I was taught how to keep myself in control since I was young."

 

"Maybe Deaton has werewolf tranquilizers," Stiles jokes weakly.

 

***

 

Jackson's parents text him demanding that he return home. His car is still at the school, so Stiles offers to drive him over in his Jeep. Then the sheriff suggests that Stiles and Noah go home with Jackson, because he doesn't want them in the house with Scott still raging like he is.

 

Jackson and Stiles share a look at the suggestion. Jackson just shrugs, and Stiles doesn't think too deeply about it because he's actually not too keen on going back into the house with Scott. And he's even less keen on bringing Noah back in.

 

The sheriff goes back inside to pack a bag for Stiles and Noah, while Stiles moves Noah's car seat from the cruiser to the Jeep. Jackson and Derek stand awkwardly in the yard, Noah in Derek's arms. It doesn't take long to get everything sorted, and then Jackson and Stiles are in the Jeep and off to the school. Stiles' grip on the steering wheel is white-knuckled the whole way. If Jackson notices he doesn’t comment on it.

 

They pick up Jackson's Porsche in the parking lot near the lacrosse field, and then Stiles is following Jackson to the Whittemore house.

 

Jackson and his family live in what Stiles would consider the more affluent part of Beacon Hills. He isn't sure what, exactly, Jackson's mother does, but Stiles knows that Mr Whittemore is a powerful attorney. Stiles feels every inch of the class difference between himself and the Whittemores as he parks the Jeep in the driveway behind Jackson's Porsche.

 

The front door of the house opens and Mr Whittemore steps out.

 

"What is going on here?" He asks, crossing his arms and pinning Jackson with a stern glare.

 

"It's a long story," Jackson says. "Stilinski needs a place to stay for the night. I told him he could stay here." Mr Whittemore arches an eyebrow. And then the other eyebrow flies up when Stiles removes Noah from the back of the Jeep.

 

"What--"

 

"Long. Story." Jackson growls. Stiles tries to juggle Noah and their bag until Jackson just grabs the bag from him and stalks into the house. Not knowing what else to do, Stiles follows him in. He ducks past Mr Whittemore without looking at him, just staring at Jackson's back as he's led through the house.

 

Stiles has never been to Jackson's house before, even when they were kids, and he can't even bring himself to be nosy right now. They run into Mrs Whittemore on the second floor, and she looks even more shocked than her husband to see Stiles and Noah there.

 

"Jackson, what's going on?" She asks. "Where have you been this whole time? You know, Lydia has been calling us saying she couldn't get a hold of you."

 

"Don't worry about it, Mom," Jackson says. "It's been a long day and I just want to go to bed. We can talk in the morning." He leads Stiles part way down the upstairs hall and opens a door seemingly at random. He tosses Stiles' bag just inside and makes a sweeping arm gesture at the room.

 

"This is all yours for tonight," he says. "There's an attached bathroom. Don't leave any dirty diapers anywhere."

 

"I was planning on hiding them in your bedroom before I left," Stiles deadpans. Jackson flips him off.

 

"Jackson," Mrs Whittemore admonishes him.

 

"I'm going to bed," Jackson announces, taking off down the hall.

 

"Make sure you shower first," Mrs Whittemore calls after him. Jackson still hasn't changed out of his lacrosse practice outfit. Jackson enters into another room down the hall and closes the door behind him, leaving Stiles and Mrs Whittemore in, what has to be, a guest room in an awkward silence. Stiles is suddenly very tired.

 

"So, um, Stiles," Mrs Whittemore says. "Is there anything you need? Or the b-baby?"

 

"Uhh," Stiles says, shuffling his feet. "I might need something to warm up a bottle?" Mrs Whittemore nods at him.

 

"Follow me," she says. "I'm sure we can manage something."

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

So how was your night?

 

From: Derek Hale

I hope you weren't attached to most of your bedroom furniture

 

To: Derek Hale

I was always partial to Floyd

 

From: Derek Hale

??

 

To: Derek Hale

My bookshelf. I've become emotionally attached to him over the years. He was always a good friend.

 

From: Derek Hale

[eye roll emoji]

 

To: Derek Hale

HE JUST GETS ME DEREK!!

 

From: Derek Hale

Oh my god

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Damage report?

 

From: Daddio

We'll replace your furniture

 

From: Daddio

Also your crime board has disappeared

 

From: Daddio

How was your night?

 

To: Daddio

Probably better than yours, only more awkward

 

***

 

Stiles wakes up the next morning to Noah patting him on the face. The patting is not gentle.

 

"See, this is a perfect argument against co-sleeping," Stiles mutters. Noah laughs gleefully and comes very close to getting a finger in Stiles' eye. "I am your father, I deserve more respect than this." Some drool lands on his face.

 

"Lovely," Stiles mutters. He grabs Noah under one arm and wipes at his face with his free hand. Noah wriggles in his grip, kicking his legs and squealing. Stiles changes Noah's diaper and then lets him scoot around on the floor (he hasn't quite gotten the hang of crawling yet) while he gets dressed. There's no chance that he'll be bothering with school today, but he doesn't want to wander around in his pyjamas in a strange house.

 

He's in the process of trying to re-pack his bag when there's a knock on the door.

 

"It's me," Jackson calls through the wood.

 

"You can come in, I have pants on," Stiles says. The door opens and Jackson slides into the room. Noah notices him immediately and rolls over onto his back to look up at him. Jackson gives him a brief look but otherwise ignores him. Stiles would normally be offended by that but, well, circumstances.

 

"You get the all-clear to go home yet?" Jackson asks.

 

"Not yet," Stiles says. "But I texted both Dad and Derek and they haven't told me to not come back yet. I'll make sure before I leave here, but it looks like everyone made it through the night."

 

"Barely, I imagine," Jackson says.

 

"My crime board has apparently bit it," Stiles says. "Along with a lot of my bedroom furniture."

 

"In any other situation that would be hilarious," Jackson says. "Come on downstairs, I imagine the kid probably needs feeding or whatever."

 

"He would appreciate it, yes," Stiles says. He scoops Noah up off the floor and follows Jackson out of the room and down the stairs. "Shouldn't I make the bed first?"

 

"It's fine, we have someone who comes in to do stuff like that every morning," Jackson says.

 

"The truth about how the other half lives," Stiles says. Jackson shrugs and Stiles rolls his eyes. Mrs Whittemore is in the kitchen when they walk in. She's fully dressed and put together, make-up and hair and everything, and standing near one of the counters drinking from a steaming mug.

 

"Good morning, boys," she says. Stiles tries to ignore her curious look, busying himself with preparing a bottle for Noah. They hadn't really talked much last night, mostly Mrs Whittemore had just pointed out things Stiles could use and Stiles tried to not make a mess in the nice-looking kitchen.

 

"Morning," Jackson says. "We don't have time for breakfast, Stiles has to get back home."

 

"Of course," Mrs Whittemore says. Stiles' phone goes off in his pocket and he's grateful for the distraction. He finishes Noah's bottle and hands it to the baby to feed himself while Stiles pulls out his phone.

 

From: Daddio

Things have finally calmed down. Waiting for Melissa to come over.

 

To: Daddio

Gonna head over soon, just made Noah's breakfast

 

From: Daddio

[thumbs up emoji]

 

"Everything all right?" Mrs Whittemore asks.

 

"Yup," Stiles says, pocketing his phone. "That was my dad."

 

"If you leave now you'll still have time to stop at your house before school," Mrs Whittemore says. Stiles nods. And then has a passing thought for his backpack and whether it's survived Scott's rampage. Or the Hale fire files that have been living under his desk for the past month. Or his desk, for that matter.

 

"He looks a lot like you," Mrs Whittemore says suddenly.

 

"Huh?" Stiles asks. Mrs Whittemore is looking at Noah. "Oh, yeah. My dad says the same thing. Except for-"

 

"Except for his hair, yes," Mrs Whittemore says. She looks like she's studying Noah, and it strikes Stiles suddenly that this woman is looking at what should be her grandchild. What she probably thought was her grandchild for a little while. Stiles feels more and more awkward the longer he stands there. He doesn't look at Jackson, not sure he wants to know his feelings on all this.

 

Finally, Noah finishes his bottle and Stiles starts putting his things together to leave.

 

"You two be careful driving," Mrs Whittemore says.

 

"We will," Jackson says. Stiles waves as he follows Jackson out of the kitchen.

 

"Love you!" Mrs Whittemore calls out.

 

Jackson practically shoves Stiles out the front door.

 

***

 

Derek is the one who opens the front door when Stiles gets home. Jackson had decided to continue on to school.

 

"You're still in one piece," Stiles says. Noah makes grabby-hands at Derek and Stiles immediately hands him over. The sheriff is asleep on the living room couch when Stiles walks in.

 

"He was up all night," Derek says at Stiles' confused look.

 

"Were you both up all night?" Stiles asks. Derek shrugs.

 

"Someone had to keep an eye on things," he says. Stiles takes a closer look at him. There are faint bags under his eyes and he seems wilted overall.

 

"Why don't you just sleep now?" Stiles asks. "Or is something else going on?" Derek shakes his head. He doesn't seem to be reacting to Noah rubbing his tiny hands in his stubble, which Stiles takes as a sign that maybe he could at least use a nap.

 

"I think you really should just take a nap or something, dude," Stiles says. "The air mattress is still set up in Noah's room, since Dad took your bed and all. I'll be fine down here. Scott's still stuck in my room, right?"

 

"Yeah," Derek says. "The mountain ash barrier is still set up. He's not going anywhere."

 

"See? Go sleep and I'll entertain myself," Stiles says. Derek gives Stiles a searching look.

 

"Don't go upstairs," he says. "If you need something I'll bring it down to you." With that he hands Noah back and disappears up the stairs.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles is expecting Mrs McCall when the doorbell rings not long after Derek goes upstairs to sleep. Opening the door to find Chris Argent on the porch is an unpleasant surprise.

 

"Hello, Stiles," Chris says. Stiles immediately slams the door in his face, waits a beat, and then engages the lock. The doorbell rings again. Stiles backs away from it and runs to the living room, where his father is still asleep on the couch. Stiles shakes him awake.

 

"Dad!" he whisper-shouts. "Dad, Chris Argent is at the door!" The sheriff's eyes snap open and he heaves himself into a sitting position.

 

"Chris Argent?" he asks. "What's he doing here?"

 

"I dunno," Stiles says. The doorbell rings again. "I locked the door."

 

"Good," the sheriff says. "You wait in here, I'll deal with him." Stiles fidgets anxiously in place, wondering if he should get Derek. That dilemma soon solves itself when Derek comes barreling down the stairs.

 

"Weren't you sleeping?" Stiles asks.

 

"Heard the doorbell," Derek says. Derek plants himself in the living room doorway, basically putting himself between Stiles and Noah and Chris Argent, who the sheriff has invited into the house.

 

"I would think it would be better to leave the hunter guy outside on the porch," Stiles says to the room at large.

 

"The hunter guy has some news he'd like to share," Chris says dryly. "In the interest of a common goal." Derek doesn't say anything, or move an inch. Stiles has to talk to Chris over Derek's shoulder.

 

"Common goal?" he asks.

 

"Eliminating the alpha," Chris says.

 

"And that requires us to work together?" Stiles asks.

 

"That would make things a bit easier," Chris says. "I'd like to keep my focus on one enemy instead of several."

 

"We wouldn't need to be enemies if your family didn't make a habit of going after werewolves just for existing," Derek says. Chris clenches his jaw and doesn't back down from Derek's glare.

 

"In the interest of not having an all-out brawl in my living room," the sheriff says, "can we put the posturing aside and just have the news?"

 

"Yes, I imagine you've had enough destruction last night," Chris says.

 

"How…" Stiles asks.

 

"I was in the neighbourhood," Chris says. "Allison happened to mention that Scott has been staying here the past few days. Thought I'd drive by to see how he was handling this latest full moon."

 

"What?" Stiles asks. "How!?" How did Chris find out about Scott? How long has he known? Who has he told?

 

"I've been around him enough times to spot signs," Chris says. "And I've seen him play lacrosse. He's not exactly subtle or discrete." Stiles doesn't have anything to counter that. It's not like Chris is wrong. It's also not like they haven't been warning Scott since the beginning that something like this would happen.

 

"Jesus Christ," the sheriff mutters. "Who else knows?"

 

"My wife and my sister," Chris says.

 

"But not Allison?" Stiles asks.

 

"She doesn't know about the supernatural," Chris says. "My plan was to keep her out of it until she turned 18, and now I've run out of time."

 

"Oh?" The sheriff asks. "Is she 18 already? I thought she was in the same grade as Scott and Stiles?"

 

"She was held back a year because of our moving around a lot," Chris says. "But she's 18 now and my wife is starting to make noise about getting her involved in the family business."

 

"Of killing people?" Stiles asks, with a frown. He doesn't know Allison well at all, but she certainly doesn't look like the type of person who'd be into something like that. But then, he's been wrong about people before.

 

"Of protecting people," Chris says. Stiles narrows his eyes at Chris. He's not sure how he can say that with a straight face when his sister orchestrated the murder of an entire family, including young children. Derek is standing so rigidly it looks like one touch would shatter him.

 

"Anyway," the sheriff says. "News?"

 

"Yes," Chris says. "My father is on his way to Beacon Hills." Stiles looks at Derek, who doesn't visibly react to this. The sheriff gives Chris a considering look.

 

"What does that mean for us?" He asks.

 

"It means that you need to be really careful because my father has been in the hunter business much longer than I have," Chris says. "And he's good at what he does."

 

"Is he as psychotic as your sister?" Stiles asks. Chris glares at him.

 

"Stiles," the sheriff warns.

 

"A legitimate question," Stiles says.

 

"My sister and father are certainly more passionate about what they do," Chris says, jaw tight. "Protecting the vulnerable population from supernatural threat isn't something to be taken lightly."

 

"So who protects the vulnerable supernatural population from you?" Stiles asks.

 

"Pretty sure they can take care of themselves," Chris says with a significant look to the ceiling. Stiles suddenly realizes that it's completely possible that Scott is listening to all this. He can't figure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. "Anyway, that's all I wanted to say. I don't want to have to deal with Scott if I don't have to, but my father won't be as lenient. Especially when innocent lives, like his only granddaughter's, could be at stake."

 

"Right, you're the good guy here," Stiles drawls sarcastically.

 

"Well, I imagine you saw it yourself last night," Chris says. "All that rage and destruction. That danger."

 

"We kept him contained the whole time," the sheriff says.

 

"All the while managing to resist the urge to burn the house down around him," Stiles adds. This time both Chris and the sheriff turn a glare on him. Derek still hasn't moved. He might as well be a statue for all the participating he's doing in this conversation.

 

"I don't know what you've been told about us, Stiles," Chris says.

 

"I've been told enough," Stiles interrupts. The smiles that crosses Chris' face isn't pleasant. Neither is the quick look he shoots Derek's way. Stiles can't see Derek's face, but he imagines that his murder-brows are out in full force. Noah, in his playpen, starts fussing and shrieking in ways that suggest that Stiles needs to pay him some attention or there'll be hell to pay.

 

It seems to break the tension in the little stand-off, and Chris starts backing away towards the front door.

 

"Remember what I said," Chris says. "Working together would only help us in dealing with the alpha. Let's not make things more difficult than they have to be. And I'd suggest finding better ways of dealing with Scott, because whether you like it or not, he's a danger to himself and everyone around him right now." He's out the door before Stiles can think up a decent response that isn't a hearty 'go fuck yourself', which he's sure his father wouldn't approve of.

 

***

 

Once Derek is sure that Chris Argent has indeed left the property (by keeping track of his heartbeat, apparently), he goes upstairs to talk to Scott. Stiles takes Noah from the playpen and brings him into the kitchen for a snack and a change of scenery. While Noah is busy making an absolute mess of his high chair tray with applesauce, Stiles pulls out his phone.

 

To: Whittemore

Just had a visit from Chris Argent

 

From: Whittemore

About?

 

To: Whittemore

To tell us that he knows about Scott, that Allison doesn't know about Scott, that his hunter father is coming to town, and that we should all be working together to defeat the alpha

 

From: Whittemore

I saw Allison earlier, she's worried because she hasn't been able to get a hold of Scott since yesterday

 

To: Whittemore

What did you tell her?

 

From: Whittemore

Not much. I'm mostly avoiding her because she's always with Lydia and I'm not talking to her right now.

 

To: Whittemore

Does Allison know about Scott and Lydia?

 

From: Whittemore

I doubt it. And I'm not gonna be the one who tells her.

 

To: Whittemore

Right on

 

To: Whittemore

How's Danny's face btw?

 

From: Whittemore

Nothing broken

 

"Has anyone heard from Melissa today?" The sheriff asks, coming into the kitchen.

 

"No," Stiles says. "Should we have?"

 

"She should've been here by now," the sheriff says. "I texted her this morning and she said she was on her way."

 

"Was she at work when you texted? She might've got held up," Stiles says. "Text her again." Derek comes back downstairs.

 

"Scott seems ready to be let out," he says.

 

"Am I sensing a 'but' there?" Stiles asks.

 

"But I'm not sure I just want to let him run loose," Derek says. "I don't trust him to stay here instead of running off to go find Allison the first chance he gets."

 

"I, uh, feel kind of like an asshole saying this," Stiles says. "But I'm not sure I'm comfortable just having him here, even with the mountain ash."

 

"After what happened last night I'm not too excited about the idea either," the sheriff says.

 

"But do we just leave him for his mother to handle on her own?" Stiles asks.

 

"Ah, text," the sheriff says, looking at his phone. "Melissa says she's having car trouble and needs a ride over."

 

"I'll go once Noah's finished here," Stiles says. "You two can stay with Scott and try to figure something out."

 

***

 

Stiles is pretty sure he's interrupting Noah's mid-morning nap for this trip, and he's going to pay for that later, but he'd rather not leave him in the house with Scott still there. Which is a shitty thing to think about one's best friend, but last night had freaked Stiles out and he's still not over it. Scott will just have to deal.

 

The parking lot of Beacon Hills Memorial is as full as usual, and Stiles has no idea where Mrs McCall is parked, so he just parks the Jeep closest to the non-emergency ER entrance. He doesn't see Mrs McCall anywhere when he walks into the emergency department, but that makes sense if she's not currently on shift. He approaches the nurse's station, and the woman behind the counter smiles when she sees Noah in Stiles' arms.

 

"Can I help you?" She asks.

 

"I'm looking for Melissa McCall?" Stiles says. "I'm her ride home today." The nurse frowns thoughtfully.

 

"I haven't seen her lately," she says. "I'll call down to the break room and see if she's in there. Does she know to expect you?"

 

"I think my dad told her I was coming," Stiles says. The nurse turns to the side to make a phone call. Stiles shifts his grip on Noah. He's really going to need to start doing some sort of weight training if he's going to keep lugging the baby around like this. He briefly wonders if lugging the baby around would actually count as weight training. He could ask Derek, he looks like he'd know.

 

"Okay," the nurse at the desk says, and Stiles snaps back to attention. "One of the nurses in the break room says that Melissa was called up to the long term care ward upstairs. She hasn't come back down so you could try looking for her there. Just ask someone at the nurse's station at the entrance."

 

"Will do," Stiles says. "Thanks a lot." He turns and seeks out one of the wall poster maps, and then heads for the nearest elevator.

 

To: Daddio

Mama McCall called away on some kind of errand after her shift I guess? Omw to look for her.

 

From: Daddio

[thumbs up emoji]

 

The long term care ward is quiet and somewhat creepy when Stiles reaches it. He gets lucky in that the elevator he chose ends up opening right in front of the long term care nurse's station. He's unlucky in that the nurse's station seems completely deserted. He walks up to the desk anyway, looking for a little bell like they have at hotel front desks. There isn't one.

 

"Hello?" Stiles asks. He doesn't get an answer. He frowns at the empty desk area and the equally empty lobby area. There aren't even any visitors waiting to get in, he doesn't know enough about long term care to decide whether he should find that odd or not.

 

To: Daddio

Long term care section seems completely deserted. Is that weird?

 

To: Daddio

I feel like there should be some people around to do the caring, at least

 

From: Daddio

Everyone probably busy, might be why they needed Melissa there.

 

Stiles frowns at his phone.

 

To: Mama McCall

At the hospital to pick you up, where you at?

 

He hits send and then hears a text message alert sound from down the hall past the nurse's station desk. And then it hits him exactly how quiet the place is, which definitely strikes him as weird because he's in a hospital. Even back when he'd spent long visits with his mother at the end of her illness in what was meant to be a quiet environment, it was still noisy.

 

Stiles is unsure about whether he should just go to find the source of the text alert when there's no one there to let him in. He calls Derek.

 

"Did you find her?" Derek asks as a greeting.

 

"No, but," Stiles says. "Take a listen and tell me what you hear." Stiles holds the phone out and waves it around a few times. And then almost loses his one-armed grip on the baby when Noah tries to lunge for the phone. It's a bit of a juggling act to get everything in the proper place again, but Stiles manages.

 

"I don't hear anything," Derek says, when Stiles puts the phone back to his ear. "Should I?"

 

"Even with your super werewolf hearing?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yes, Stiles, even with my super werewolf hearing," Derek says. "Where are you, anyway?"

 

"Long term care ward," Stiles says. "Which I feel should be noisier than this. Also more populated."

 

"Yeah, that is weird," Derek says. "I've been there recently, I should definitely be hearing something over the phone, even if it's faint."

 

"You've been here?" Stiles asks. "When? Why?"

 

"I've gone by a couple of times to see my uncle, just to see if there's been any change at all," Derek says. "There never is."

 

"Huh," Stiles says. "Is there always someone at the front desk when you go there?"

 

"Yeah, it's kind of a closed ward, or something," Derek says. Stiles starts feeling very uneasy. Hopefully there hasn't been an evacuation or something, though the nurse downstairs hadn't said anything about it not being safe to be up here.

 

"Do you think--"

 

"I thought I heard my nephew's voice."

 

Stiles whirls around to see a man standing next to the nurse's station desk, blocking the way to the ward. The man has dark blond hair, piercing blue eyes, and looks to be in his mid-to-late thirties. He also has rough scar tissue going down one side of his face and down his neck, disappearing into the collar of his shirt in a way that makes Stiles think it goes even farther down. The man is smirking at Stiles. It's not a nice smirk.

 

"You're Peter Hale, aren't you?" Stiles asks. Peter Hale's smirk spreads into a smile, stretching the scarred side of his face weirdly. Stiles hears Derek swear over the phone.

 

"I'm on my way!" Derek exclaims and the call ends. Stiles doesn't lower the phone as he seems to be frozen in place a bit.

 

This isn't good.

 

"Ah, good," Peter says. "It'll be fitting to have Derek here for this. Honestly I was expecting him to come back here with the McCall boy. I never imagined you."

 

"You know Scott?" Stiles asks. Peter flashes his eyes bright red. Noah coos in response, but without the excitement he usually displays when Derek does the eye-flash. "You're an alpha. You're the alpha!"

 

"Yes," Peter says. His teeth look a bit sharper.

 

"Well, shit," Stiles says. Peter shrugs. "Where's Mrs McCall?"

 

"Don't worry, she's fine," Peter says. "Relatively speaking." Stiles' heart starts pounding. He hugs Noah closer to his chest and takes a step back.

 

"What did you do to her?" He asks.

 

"Derek mentioned you in passing once when he was here, but I never pictured you as a teen father," Peter says. "That's not something you see very often. Or maybe things have changed since I was your age."

 

"If Derek's mentioned me before that means you know that my father's the sheriff," Stiles says.

 

"That really doesn't mean a whole lot to me in this situation," Peter says. "What could he do to me? Arrest me with handcuffs I could break through in seconds?" Of course, the first time Stiles ever gets to the play the 'my dad's the law' card is the only time where normal rules don't apply.

 

"I mean, he has a gun," Stiles says lamely. Peter just gives him a look, then raises one hand in front of him and extends his claws. He arches an eyebrow at Stiles. Then he cocks his head to one side and his smile widens.

 

"Ah, we have company," he says. Seconds later Stiles can hear footsteps getting closer, and then suddenly Derek is bursting through the door that leads to the stairwell. The door flies completely off its hinges and crashes to the floor. Stiles may scream a little. Noah screams a lot.

 

"You!" Derek growls, glaring at Peter with eyes glowing electric blue.

 

"Me," Peter agrees. "Hello, nephew." He flashes his eyes red.

 

"He's the alpha," Stiles points out, unnecessarily. Derek gives him a quick look before immediately moving to stand in front of him, blocking him from Peter. Over Derek and Peter's shoulders, Stiles sees someone poke their head out of one of the rooms down the hall. A woman. For a second he thinks it's Mrs McCall, but then he registers the pale skin and reddish hair. It's not her. Stiles has no idea who she is.

 

"Get in the elevator," Derek says suddenly.

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"Oh, come on now," Peter says.

 

"The elevator," Derek says. "Get in it."

 

"But what about Scott's mom?" Stiles asks.

 

"I'll find her," Derek says. "Just go." He turns his head to look at Stiles, and Stiles can see so many emotions in Derek's eyes. One of them is determination. Another is fear. Stiles swallows roughly and nods. He darts over to the elevator and starts pressing the 'down' button. He can feel Derek at his back, providing cover, but it doesn't seem like anything is happening.

 

Stiles isn't sure what that means.

 

The elevator arrives and he gets in. He turns back around to face the doors and the last thing he sees before they close is Peter's teasing smirk.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles stumbles out of the elevator and calls his dad as he runs through the ER and out into the parking lot. Noah does not approve of this frantic running and makes his displeasure known with loud wailing, which doesn't help Stiles' nerves.

 

"Stiles?" The sheriff asks.

 

"Dad! Peter Hale is the alpha and I think he has Mrs McCall!" Stiles shouts into the phone.

 

"I know," the sheriff says. "Derek gave me the basic run down before he practically flew out of here. Is he with you? Is Melissa with you?"

 

"No!" Stiles exclaims. "I left him up there and we never saw Mrs McCall. Derek said he'd find her, but, Dad, he's going up against the alpha alone!"

 

"Fuck," the sheriff says. "Alright... get in the Jeep and come straight home, I'll figure something out."

 

"But I can't just leave him there!" Stiles exclaims.

 

"What are you gonna do, bust in there to fight with Noah?" The sheriff asks. "Derek can at least hold his own for a bit, you would have no chance. And the baby would have even less. Come home. Now." Stiles clenches his jaw and takes one last look at the hospital before going for his Jeep. He puts Noah in his carseat, throws himself into the driver's seat, and speeds out of the hospital parking lot.

 

***

 

The sheriff is standing out in the yard when Stiles pulls up.

 

"Why are you outside?" Stiles asks, getting out of the Jeep.

 

"Scott's in there raging," the sheriff says. "He overheard me talking about his mother being in trouble and he wants to go help."

 

"Please tell me that wasn't your plan to help Derek," Stiles says.

 

"Oh no, definitely not," the sheriff says. "Chris Argent was my plan." Stiles pauses in the process of taking Noah out of his car seat.

 

"I'm not sure that's any better," Stiles says.

 

"To be honest, I trust Chris' control more than I do Scott's," the sheriff says. "I already warned him what would happen if he hurt Derek in any way. He's just there to help deal with the alpha, that's it." Stiles sincerely hopes that they can trust Chris Argent enough to help. If he's anything like his sister, then it doesn't matter that Derek is out here not hurting anyone. He doesn't want Chris to turn on Derek. He also doesn't want Derek to turn on Chris, because that would also be a bad move.

 

"Is Chris going there alone?" Stiles asks.

 

"I told him to," the sheriff says. "I can only hope that he does."

 

***

 

To: Whittemore

Found out who the alpha is

 

From: Whittemore

Who? And how?

 

To: Whittemore

It's Derek's uncle Peter

 

From: Whittemore

The vegetable?

 

To: Whittemore

Not as much as a vegetable as we thought

 

From: Whittemore

??

 

***

 

Stiles basically plasters himself to the living room window to keep watch for either Derek or Chris Argent to return. The sheriff settles in one of the arm chairs with Noah, who eventually takes a delayed morning nap in the sheriff's arms.

 

Scott is still in Stiles' room upstairs, though he's no longer closed in by mountain ash. He's now free to move around the house as he pleases, but he hasn't come downstairs at all. Stiles can hear movement coming from his bedroom that sounds like maybe Scott is trying to clean up whatever mess he made in there the night before. Stiles still hasn't seen the damage and he thinks it might be better if Scott weren't around the first time he gets a look at it.

 

"What do you think is taking them so long?" Stiles asks.

 

"I'm not an expert in supernatural showdowns," the sheriff says. "So I'm not sure I can answer that."

 

"Ugh," Stiles says, letting his forehead fall against the window with a soft thud. His head shoots back up at the sound of a car pulling into the driveway, but when he looks up he knows right away it's not Chris and Derek coming back. Jackson's Porsche is now sitting behind the sheriff's cruiser and Stiles' Jeep. And the person who jumps out of the passenger side door is Allison Argent, charging towards the house as if she's on a mission.

 

"We may have another problem," Stiles says, just as footsteps start pounding down the stairs.

 

"Allison is here!" Scott exclaims, suddenly appearing in the living room. This is the first time Stiles has seen him since last night. Scott looks completely disheveled, and like he needs a good sleep and a shower. But otherwise normal.

 

"Stay there," the sheriff demands, pointing a finger at Scott. Scott, to his credit, doesn't move from his spot in the living room doorway. Stiles goes to take Noah, who is starting to wake up, from the sheriff and moves back over to the window in time to catch Jackson's eye as he comes up the driveway. Jackson sends him an apologetic look and a shrug.

 

The doorbell is going off continuously and only stops when the sheriff opens the door, at which point Allison storms in.

 

"Where is he?!" She near-shouts. And Stiles gulps and sincerely hopes she's not looking for him.

 

"Allison?" Scott asks. He pokes his head past the living room entrance and into the front hall.

 

"You!" Allison exclaims with a crack in her voice.

 

"Can we move things along here?" Jackson asks. "There isn't enough room here for this." And then he's pushing his way past Allison and the sheriff and squeezing past Scott to enter the living room.

 

"Do I even want to know what's going on right now?" Stiles asks tiredly. Noah is awake now, but the look on his face suggests that he isn't pleased with the short length of his nap. Stiles guides his head down to rest on his shoulder and hopes that he'll be able to fall back to sleep. Although, with all the excitement that looks like it's about to kick off, Stiles isn't totally optimistic.

 

"Did you seriously make out with my best friend!?" Allison shrieks.

 

"This is above my pay grade," the sheriff announces suddenly. "I'll be in my office." And with that he disappears down the hall and Stiles hears a door slam.

 

"Allison, it wasn't like that," Scott insists.

 

"Oh?" Allison asks. "Then tell me, Scott, what was it like?" They're both in the living room entrance now and Allison is very much up in Scott's face. Her eyes are red-rimmed and her face is flushed, and she does not look happy. Scott looks mildly scared, and Stiles is really having a hard time reconciling this image of the Scott he's used to with the rage-monster from last night.

 

"This has been a very long day," Stiles sighs, lowering himself onto the couch. Jackson sits down next to him. "So what happened? And why bring her here?"

 

"Lydia and I got into an argument and I broke up with her," Jackson says. "Allison was there and basically read between the lines of what we were shouting about. And then demanded that I take her to Scott."

 

"Not sure if I prefer this kind of drama, or the other kind," Stiles says.

 

"Well, look at it this way," Jackson says. "This isn't our drama. Technically we're just casualties." Stiles slants a look at him, Jackson's own eyes are slightly pink along the lids, but he otherwise seems fine.

 

"So..." Stiles says. "You and Lydia done for good this time?"

 

"I really think so," Jackson says. "I mean, we haven't really been totally okay since after what happened with you. And this mess shows me she hasn't really changed. I don't think I could handle being in a relationship with her after this and constantly wondering if she's going to do something like this every time I don't live up to her expectations."

 

"Yeah, that seems toxic," Stiles says. This is an aspect of Lydia and Jackson's relationship that Stiles has never really thought of before. Was this the sort of thing that happened for all their break ups in the past? One constant that Stiles has always been aware of is that Lydia and Jackson are well-known for their constant break ups and make ups, and he'd often had theories about the reasons for it, but he can say that he'd never expected it to be this.

 

"Lydia only wants the best," Jackson says bitterly. Scott and Allison are still arguing, but it's been relegated to background noise at this point. "And apparently a co-captain position does not count as 'the best'."

 

"Yikes," Stiles whispers. "Where did I fit into all of this last time? Or do I want to know?"

 

"Doesn't really make a difference at this point, does it?" Jackson asks. "That one was just to hurt."

 

"You or me?" Stiles asks.

 

"Might've just been two birds with one stone," Jackson says. "Got you off her back, didn't it?"

 

"What are you two talking about?" Stiles and Jackson bolt jolt in surprise and suddenly realize that all seems quiet on the Scott and Allison front. Scott is sitting in an arm chair looking subdued, and Allison is watching Jackson and Stiles with a look of suspicion.

 

"What?" Stiles asks her.

 

"You're talking about Lydia, right?" Allison asks. "You mean she's done this sort of thing before? Going after her friend's boyfriends just to make Jackson jealous? And no one thought to mention it to me!?"

 

"In our defense," Stiles says. "As far as I know, anyway, she's never done this sort of thing before me. And I spent a large part of my life observing Lydia Martin."

 

"So, she made out with you before?" Allison asks. "Is that why Noah's mother isn't around? Because you cheated on her? Was this before or after she had a baby with you, because that’s even more messed up."

 

"Lydia is Noah's mother," Jackson announces. "Stilinski has never had a girlfriend in his life because he was always obsessed with mine." Allison blinks at Jackson in shock and drops down to sit in an empty armchair.

 

"Thanks, dude," Stiles says dryly.

 

"I'm not wrong," Jackson says. "The thing you need to know about Lydia." He says to Allison. "Is that she's a manipulator. Trust me on this, everything stays fine in the relationship as long as things are going her way. The minute you cross her, she goes into payback mode."

 

"But what did I do?" Allison asks, sounding justifiably betrayed. She's staring at Stiles and Noah, and Stiles wants to squirm under her gaze. Jackson shrugs.

 

"I'd put money on Lydia not considering yourselves as close friends as you did," he says. "She wanted to get back at me, and Scott was just a pawn." Allison's eyes quickly fill with tears, but she's just as quick at wiping them away. Scott gets up from his chair and makes a move in her direction, but Allison shoots him a glare that has him backing off.

 

"Don't you dare," she tells him in a steely tone. And Stiles suddenly gets the impression that maybe she could be the type of person that would make a good hunter, given the right motivation. Allison turns back to Stiles.

 

"Is Lydia really Noah's mother?" She asks. "She's never said."

 

"I was there when he was born," Jackson says. "She definitely gave birth to him."

 

"You were there?" Stiles asks. He didn't know that. He knows Jackson had been at the hospital that day, but he didn't think he'd been in the room when Noah was born. Stiles feels a burn of anger and jealousy in his gut, that he'd missed out on such a momentous occasion but that Jackson had been there. Not that Lydia would've let Stiles see that anyway, even if Jackson hadn't been there, but still.

 

"I was there," Jackson says, giving Stiles a quick look. "She wanted support, and her mother didn't bother showing up." Stiles doesn't even want to think too deeply into that whole mess. He turns back to Allison.

 

"I have sole custody," he says. "Lydia isn't involved at all. I'm actually surprised you didn't hear anything about it from anyone else. It was a pretty big thing when it happened."

 

"I'm not really one for gossip," Allison says with a shrug. "And I never thought it was my business to ask. Lydia was my new friend, and you were my boyfriend's friend with the baby. That's it."

 

"Funny McCall never mentioned it at some point," Jackson says. "It's not like it was a secret."

 

"Scott never really talks about Noah," Allison says.

 

They're all interrupted by the sound of a car pulling to a stop at the curb outside the house. Both Stiles and Jackson turn around on the couch to see a black SUV parked almost on the sidewalk.

 

"Allison, what kind of car does your dad drive?" Stiles asks.

 

"Some kind of SUV," Allison says. "Black with tinted windows kind of thing. Why?" Stiles and Jackson scramble from the couch, disturbing Noah again, who is less than impressed and is now crying in Stiles' ear.

 

"What's going on?" Scott asks. Jackson gets to the front door first and throws it open in time to see Chris Argent get out of the SUV. Melissa McCall walks around from the passenger side, looking a bit shell-shocked but otherwise fine.

 

"Mom?" Scott asks, coming up behind Stiles and Jackson and pushing them out of the way so he can run to his mother.

 

"Dad!?" Allison asks, staying inside the house.

 

"Everyone back away from the door," Chris orders.

 

"Clear a path," Mrs McCall says, giving Scott a quick hug but not lingering. Stiles is confused until Chris opens the back door of the SUV and pulls Derek out. Derek is barely standing under his own power and his shirt is slashed and bloody.

 

"Oh my god!" Allison gasps. Everyone backs up into the house and Stiles goes running for his father.

 

***

 

About an hour later Stiles, Jackson, Derek, and Noah are huddled up in the nursery while the sheriff, Mrs McCall, Chris, Allison, and Scott congregate in the kitchen to try and explain to Allison just what the hell is going on.

 

Derek is stretched out on Stiles' air mattress, bandaged up and brooding. Stiles is in the rocking chair with Noah. Jackson is sitting on the floor against the wall, flipping his phone in his hand.

 

With the curtains closed and only a nightlight on, the nursery is dark and quiet and Stiles feels himself start to relax for the first time in a while. It's been a hell of a long day and it's barely afternoon. Honestly, Stiles feels like going back to bed. And he absolutely would do that given the option.

 

The door is closed, and the sheriff knocks on it before opening it and peeking his head in.

 

"Everyone's getting ready to leave," he says. "Chris doesn't think that Peter Hale is going to be a pressing threat just yet, but he's offered to bring over some mountain ash to line the property with. Derek, do you need to be elsewhere or are you fine staying here?"

 

"What about Scott?" Stiles asks.

 

"He'll be going home with Melissa, and they'll line their property too," the sheriff says. "It looks like Deaton will be on hand for them if Scott's control starts slipping, but he seems fine now. Jackson, I don't know if he's thinking of doing your house too, but..."

 

"We should be fine," Jackson says. "I don't think the alpha would have any reason to go after me."

 

"Alright, but I'm gonna give you Chris Argent's number, just in case," the sheriff says.

 

"Chris is really helping us out?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," the sheriff says. "I think if he doesn't then Allison is going to give him several different types of hell over it. She's taken to the supernatural reveal better than I expected her to, honestly."

 

"I think..." Jackson says, then he hesitates.

 

"What?" Stiles asks. Jackson shoots a quick look at Derek, who is now sitting up on the air mattress and picking at his bandages.

 

"Allison says that she's been spending a lot of time with her aunt," Jackson says. Derek's head snaps up and his eyes bore into Jackson.

 

"She's working with Kate?" He growls.

 

"I don't think so," Jackson says. "It's just some things she's said to Lydia before. That her aunt was always kind of out there and cool and whatever, but lately she's been kind of weird. Saying weird things. Like, you know Allison does archery, right?"

 

"No, how would we know that?" Stiles asks.

 

"I though McCall would've mentioned it," Jackson says.

 

"You mean—y'know what? Never mind," Stiles says. If Scott has known all this time that Allison was a possible threat and also had training in weapons proficiency and neglected to mention it, then Stiles is going to have a small coronary and then kill Scott himself. "What does Allison's weapons hobby have to do with anything?"

 

"Well, Allison says that she mostly does still target practice," Jackson says. "You know, shoot arrow at a bull's-eye on a stick or whatever? Like as a sport? Well she said that Kate was trying to convince her that she should start practicing on moving targets. Just in case. And then she'd get all secretive about it. Like she wanted to tell Allison something but never did." A low rumble fills the room and it takes Stiles a few seconds to realize that it's coming from Derek. That he's growling.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

It takes Derek until early evening to recover from his injuries from his fight with Peter.

 

"They took longer to heal because they're wounds inflicted by an alpha," Derek explains as he removes the bandages under the sheriff's watchful eye. Stiles doesn't think he'll ever not be amazed when he sees bloody gauze removed to reveal smooth, unbroken skin. It's also not something he wants to get used to because that implies regular injuries.

 

"So Peter Hale is the alpha," the sheriff says. "So was he faking the coma the whole time?"

 

"No," Derek says.

 

"Did he actually explain what he's doing?" Stiles asks. "Did he villain-monologue you?"

 

"A bit," Derek says. "But he was always a bit showy that way."

 

"So what's his story?" The sheriff asks.

 

"We were right when we figured that the alpha was out getting revenge for the fire," Derek says. "I'm not sure how exactly he found out who was all involved, but he has a list and he's going through it."

 

"How much longer is it?" The sheriff asks.

 

"Not too much longer, I don't think," Derek says. "I think it's only the Argents left. That's why he decided to expose his recovery to me. He said he needs my and Scott's help to finish the job. Oh, and I forgot to mention, there's apparently two bodies out in the preserve right now that he's responsible for." The sheriff swears and takes out his phone, leaving the nursery where Derek had been recuperating the whole time.

 

"So this is the endgame," Stiles says. He holds open a garbage bag for Derek to put the used bandages in. "The final showdown. Everyone is getting their troops in order and heading off to battle."

 

"Nothing that exciting, but yeah, basically," Derek says. Stiles is quiet for a minute.

 

"So he really did kill Laura," he asks quietly. Derek freezes for a second, and then sags.

 

"Yeah, he did," he says.

 

"I'm sorry," Stiles says.

 

"Thanks."

 

"So he didn't say how he found out who was responsible for the fire?" Stiles asks.

 

"No, he conveniently left that part out," Derek says. "I didn't even know who else was involved aside from Kate."

 

"Speaking of, how did you know Kate was involved?" Stiles asks. Derek takes the garbage bag from him and ties it off. Then he lets it sit there between them.

 

"I know because it was my fault that she got to us in the first place," Derek says softly, not looking up. Stiles' heart starts pounding and he almost doesn't want to ask, but he does want to know.

 

"How?" Derek looks up at him, and the pain in his eyes is stark. Stiles wants to look away, but he can't, even though he's afraid of what Derek's going to say next.

 

"Because I told her how to get in," he says. "I told her when everyone would be home. I told her about the secret tunnels under the house. I even told her how to disguise herself so that no one would sense her coming. About the only thing I didn’t tell her was that we were werewolves."

 

"But why?" And now Derek looks away.

 

"Because I loved her," he says hoarsely. "And I thought she felt the same way." Stiles goes cold all over. There's a lot to unpack there, and he's not sure he's qualified enough to even attempt it.

 

"Let me get this straight," he says, rubbing at his forehead with one hand. "You were in love with Kate Argent, who is a hunter, and also Allison's aunt. How does that even work?"

 

"I didn't know she was a hunter at the time, or I wouldn't have trusted her with any of that information," Derek says. He's getting agitated, fussing with the garbage bag in his hands and starting to tear it. Stiles doesn't say anything. He barely even breathes in case that'll interrupt Derek. "She was just my teacher."

 

Stiles thinks he feels his heart stop. "Derek, how old were you?" But he doesn't need Derek to answer, because Stiles remembers his age from the file. Derek Hale, survivor, 15 years old. "Oh my god."

 

"It's not a huge thing," Derek says. But it obviously is because of course it is. Derek still isn't looking at Stiles.

 

"Uh, yeah, that is a huge thing," Stiles says. "She preyed on you to get to your family. That's why she keeps coming after you, isn't it?"

 

"Probably," Derek says. His hands are shaking now. The garbage bag is now in pieces and the bandages are on the floor again. Stiles reaches out as slow ly as he can and lays one of his hands over Derek's. Derek's hands still, but that's his only reaction.

 

"Does Peter know about that?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Derek says. "There's no way he'd know. Or he would've come after me the first chance he got."

 

"He wouldn't have," Stiles says, though he doesn't know Peter well enough to say one way or the other. "It wasn't your fault that you were... taken advantage of. I'm pretty sure that counts as rape somehow." Derek flinches.

 

"I wouldn't go that far," he mutters. "I should've known better. I was old enough then to know better." And Stiles' heart breaks for him. Because Derek hadn't been old enough to know better. He hadn't been old enough for any of it.

 

***

 

To: Whittemore

You know that thing that Derek hasn't been telling us about the fire?

 

To: Whittemore

I know what it is

 

From: Whittemore

What is it?

 

To: Whittemore

Can't say

 

To: Whittemore

But I can tell you that I know why he never told anyone before

 

From: Whittemore

That bad?

 

To: Whittemore

And worse

 

***

 

From: Allison Argent

So what's the plan?

 

To: Allison Argent

??!

 

From: Allison Argent

I can't just ignore all this now that I know about it

 

From: Allison Argent

What do we do now?

 

To: Allison Argent

I guess that depends on what side you're on

 

From: Allison Argent

What are the sides?

 

To: Allison Argent

As far as I know: the alpha, your family, and the rest of us

 

From: Allison Argent

Which is the side that's gonna get the least people killed?

 

To: Allison Argent

Ours

 

To: Allison Argent

Though if I'm being completely honest, there are probably some members of your family that might not come out of this alive, and I won't be sad about it

 

From: Allison Argent

??

 

To: Allison Argent

Ask your aunt what she knows about the fire

 

***

 

From: ScottBro

How long do you think it'll take to make things up with Allison about the whole Lydia thing?

 

To: ScottBro

Bigger things to worry about dude

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't know what he expects when he finally checks out the damage in his bedroom.

 

"Well it looks like most of the damage is just to the big furniture items," the sheriff says. "The biggest targets, I guess."

 

"You mean like Floyd?" Derek asks dryly.

 

"The bookshelf?" The sheriff asks him. "How do you know about that?" He turns to Stiles. "I thought you stopped naming your furniture a long time ago." Stiles shrugs.

 

"Wait, you were serious about that?" Derek asks Stiles.

 

"Me and Floyd are eternal," Stiles says with a wide grin. Derek's eyes briefly un-focus and he looks like he's questioning his life choices. The sheriff rolls his eyes. Stiles hasn't said anything to the sheriff about what Derek had told him about Kate. It's not his place. He's a bit surprised that Derek had told him, honestly, but he's glad he did.

 

Although now that presents a dilemma for Stiles, who isn't so interested in stopping Peter Hale from tearing Kate's face off. But whatever. That's a problem for future Stiles.

 

"Most of this will need to be replaced," the sheriff says. Stiles looks around. His desk is basically the only piece of furniture actually left standing (RIP Floyd). Stiles makes to move closer, but Derek stops him by grabbing his arm.

 

"Probably not a good idea to walk around in there without some kind of protective footwear," he says. "Who knows what's all over the floor in there."

 

"How am I supposed to get my stuff then?" Stiles asks. "How am I supposed to even find my stuff?" The sheriff heaves a loud sigh and rubs at his eyes.

 

"Should've made the mountain ash circle smaller," he mumbles into his hand.

 

"Lesson learned," Stiles says. He crouches down to poke at something nearby on the floor. It turns out to be a piece of his crime board. "I'll go get some trash bags."

 

"I'll get a shovel," the sheriff says.

 

"I'll see if I can move some of the bigger things around without making an even bigger mess," Derek offers.

 

"You're a saint," Stiles says.

 

***

 

From: Whittemore

Peter Hale is at my house

 

To: Whittemore

!?!??!??!

 

To: Whittemore

WHY!?!??!?

 

From: Whittemore

HOW SHOULD I KNOW???

 

***

 

This month is apparently going to be a poor month for attendance overall as Stiles finds himself driving to Jackson's house instead of school in the morning. Noah is in the back seat and Derek is in the passenger seat, and Stiles isn't sure whether or not that's a good idea, but it's too late now.

 

In his defense, Derek wouldn't let him go by himself, and the sheriff is at work, and they couldn't just leave Noah home alone.

 

Stiles reaches the Whittemores' house to find Jackson standing in the driveway looking a bit freaked out but generally unharmed. Derek is out of the Jeep almost before Stiles puts it in park.

 

"Where is he?" he demands.

 

"He's in the kitchen with my parents," Jackson says, pointing over his shoulder. "Drinking coffee." That seems to take the wind out of Derek's sails and he stays by the Jeep, looking unsure.

 

"Is he, like, doing anything shifty?" Stiles asks.

 

"Not that I can tell," Jackson says. "Though my dad didn't seem too happy to see him."

 

"Do they know each other?" Stiles asks, leaning out of the Jeep's open window.

 

"It looked like it," Jackson says. "But that could also be because my dad knows that Peter Hale is supposed to be in the hospital as a vegetable and now he's sitting in our kitchen looking perfectly fine."

 

"What's his endgame here?" Stiles asks. He looks at Derek, who shrugs.

 

"If this isn't to do with revenge for the fire, it could be that Peter is up to something completely different," he says. "He was always causing trouble before the fire, this could just be him being himself."

 

"Jackson?" Mrs Whittemore opens the front door to the house and comes out on the front step. "Oh, are you getting a ride to school?" Jackson looks from his mother to Stiles and Derek, then shrugs.

 

"Sure," he says.

 

"Your bag is still here," she says. She goes back into the house, and then Mr Whittemore comes out with Peter Hale. Peter's face, which is somehow completely healed of the scars that Stiles had seen on it yesterday, practically lights up when he spots Derek and Stiles. Stiles is immediately apprehensive.

 

"Ah! Stiles and Derek! Good morning!" He says jovially. Stiles is pretty sure that the incredulous look on Derek's face matches his own. Jackson just looks annoyed. Mr Whittemore is glancing between all of them and looking increasingly uncomfortable.

 

"You all know each other?" He asks.

 

"Oh yes," Peter says. "Derek is my nephew. And you might know Stiles too, the sheriff's son?" Mr Whittemore nods. "He's come to see me in the hospital with Derek. I haven't really been introduced to your son, though. I wasn't aware he knew Stiles and Derek. Small world, isn't it?"

 

"Yes," Mr Whittemore says through clenched teeth. "Small world." Stiles feels like he's missing something here. Derek looks torn between confused and irritated. And Jackson just looks put-out. Noah suddenly starts crying and Stiles opens the door to go deal with him, only to have Derek shut it on him.

 

"Don't get out," he says, with a glance up at Peter. "I'll do it." Stiles and Jackson share a look. Mrs Whittemore emerges from the house again, with Jackson's school bag.

 

"Excuse me," she says, squeezing past her husband and Peter. She goes over to Jackson and hands him the bag and kisses his cheek. "Have a good day at school. Oh, is that the baby?" Stiles looks back to see that Derek has taken Noah out of the car seat and has a diaper in one hand.

 

"Uh," he says.

 

"Maybe I should..." Stiles says, reaching for the door.

 

"Stay in the Jeep," Derek says.

 

"Okay, just lay him on the back seat, I'll change him from here," Stiles says, starting to climb over the seat.

 

"What is happening right now?" Jackson asks.

 

"Well, Derek hasn't changed a diaper before," Stiles says.

 

"Yes I have," Derek says, sounding mildly offended.

 

"Derek was always willing to help out with the younger children in the family," Peter says, suddenly closer to the Jeep than Stiles is comfortable with. Definitely closer than Derek is comfortable with given how stiff and jerky his movements have suddenly become as he places Noah on the empty side of the Jeep's back seat. "I'm actually not surprised he's dating someone with a baby now."

 

Stiles' head whips around to face Peter, who is smirking gleefully. "What!?"

 

"Oh, was that supposed to be a secret?" Peter asks.

 

"Peter," Derek grinds out. "We're not--" Stiles cuts him off with a smack to his nearest arm, because he may be able to work with this. He's not sure if it was intentional or not, but Peter has basically given them a gift here. A reason for Derek to actually have a connection to Stiles that makes some sort of sense. Because at the moment there really isn't one beyond 'my sheriff dad informed him of his sister's death', especially because them looking into the Hale fire is supposed to be a secret. And the whole werewolf thing is definitely supposed to be a secret.

 

"No, not a secret," Stiles says, playing cool but probably starting to nervous sweat through his shirts right now. Which he's sure the two werewolves in the vicinity can tell. "Just never got around to telling people yet since it's still new. Derek, hand me the diaper cream please." Derek, giving Stiles a strange look, does as he's told and Stiles proceeds to give Noah the most awkward diaper change ever performed. Derek stands awkwardly outside the Jeep, half watching Stiles and half watching Peter. Jackson is standing off to the side looking like he's trying not to explode with some kind of reaction, probably laughter.

 

"Does your father know about this?" Mrs Whittemore asks uncertainly, side-eyeing Derek.

 

"Oh yeah," Stiles lies through his teeth.

 

"Anyway, I'm afraid I must be off," Peter suddenly announces. "Things to do, people to see. David, it was nice to see you again." Mr Whittemore nods stiffly and Mrs Whittemore also nods, though more politely. Jackson and Peter seem to share some kind of look before Peter starts walking away, off the Whittemores' property and down the sidewalk.

 

"How do you know him?" Jackson asks Mr Whittemore.

 

"You're going to be late for school if you don't hurry up," Mr Whittemore says, turning and storming back into the house.

 

***

 

To: Daddio

On the off chance Jackson's dad mentions to you about me dating Derek, just play along

 

From: Daddio

WHAT

 

From: Daddio

STILES

 

***

 

They are very late for school, so Stiles is surprised to see Allison loitering in the back parking lot when he pulls up.

 

"Is she taking over for you now?" Stiles asks Jackson, who's sitting in the passenger seat. Jackson turns a glare on him. Allison runs over to the Jeep as soon as Stiles has it parked.

 

"Where were you guys? I was waiting—what's Derek doing here?" Allison asks. Derek, who is sitting in the backseat next to Noah, shrugs helplessly.

 

"It's been quite the morning," Stiles says. "Why are you even out here?"

 

"I was waiting for you," Allison says. "We have a problem."

 

"Y'know, when all this is over, that phrase is going to become a trigger for me," Stiles says. "And I'm going to blame the two of you." He points to Jackson and Allison in turn. Jackson rolls his eyes. Stiles takes Noah out of his car seat and grabs the bag with the dirty diaper in it. Hopefully the daycare staff won't judge him too hard when he goes in to throw it out. Derek slides out of the other side of the Jeep and stands awkwardly in the parking lot.

 

"We can't stay out here like this," Jackson points out.

 

"No," Stiles says. He looks around at all the windows that face this parking lot, sure that they're probably being watched through one of them. "I have to go drop off Noah, I'll meet you guys in the library."

 

"I'll hang around here out of sight," Derek says. "Just in case Peter decides to come by."

 

"Oh no," Stiles says. "You go with them. It'll save us the trouble of having to fill you in on whatever this new bit of disaster is later."

 

"I can't go into the school, Stiles," Derek says. "They're gonna notice I'm not a student." Stiles gives Derek a once-over, thinking. He knows that Derek isn't all that old. Counting ahead from the time of the fire, Stiles knows he's actually only 21. With some changes, he could conceivably pass for a senior.

 

"Actually, if you lose the beard and the leather jacket," Stiles says. "You'll probably be fine." He thinks back to the first time he'd met Derek (god, has it really only been about a month since then?), sitting in his living room. He'd been clean shaven then, and being bare-faced did make him look younger. Or maybe it's that his facial hair just makes him look older.

 

"What?" Derek asks.

 

"Actually, he might have a point," Allison says, giving Derek a considering look.

 

"I'm going in," Jackson says. "If you guys aren't there in the next five minutes I'm going ahead to class." Allison starts rummaging around in her school bag and then pulls out a little zippered bag of the type that Stiles generally associates with makeup. From that bag Allison produces a disposable razor. Derek backs away from her a bit when she holds it out to him.

 

"Wait a minute," he says.

 

"Just take it and hurry up," Stiles says, heading into the school with Noah.

 

***

 

From: Allison Argent

You were right, he's got a baby face under the scruff

 

To: Allison Argent

Ikr?

 

***

 

From: Derek Hale

I hate you

 

To: Derek Hale

😀

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Luckily for Stiles, they don't ask too many questions at the daycare and he's able to drop off Noah and get to the library fairly quickly. Allison, Jackson, and Derek are sitting at a table the furthest from the librarian. Stiles almost laughs at the sullen look on Derek's now-bare face. The perfect image of a sulky teenager.

 

"Is that gel in your hair?" Stiles asks, pulling out a free chair and sitting down.

 

"I had some with me," Allison says. "Thought it would look more convincing." She waves a hand between Jackson and Derek, who are sitting side-by-side on the other side of the table. Their hairstyles are similar now with the gel.

 

"Huh," Stiles says. "Good thinking."

 

"There's no one else in here aside from the librarian," Derek says. "So go ahead. What's the new problem we have?"

 

"My grandfather arrived in town last night," Allison says.

 

"So on a scale between Kate and Chris, where does he land?" Stiles asks.

 

"Definitely closer to the Kate end," Allison says.

 

"Do they know you know about werewolves now?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Allison says. "My dad told me not to tell them. He even said to keep it from my mother."

 

"Ooh!" Stiles exclaims. "This is perfect! You can be our spy!" A smile crosses Allison's face, dimples and all.

 

"That sounds dangerous," Derek points out.

 

"Probably, but, I mean," Allison says. "It's a dangerous situation for me either way. Might as well get something out of it."

 

"So have you learned anything so far?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," Allison says with a frown. "Basically my entire family has been talking about this-" she makes a hand gesture in the air "- around me since I was a kid and I just never understood what they really meant."

 

"Like a secret code?" Jackson asks.

 

"No, like, you know how sometimes kids movies or whatever will have adult jokes in them? But they always go over kids' heads because they don't have the context for it?" Allison asks. "Something like that."

 

"But now your eyes have been opened and you see all," Stiles says dramatically. Jackson rolls his eyes.

 

"It's the werewolf equivalent of my family telling dick jokes to each other that went over my head for years," Allison says. Stiles bursts out laughing and nearly falls off his chair.

 

***

 

From: ScottBro

I know you saw Allison today

 

To: ScottBro

And?

 

From: ScottBro

Did she say anything about me?

 

To: ScottBro

Do I have to remind you again that the world doesn't revolve around you?

 

From: ScottBro

You don't have to be a dick about it

 

To: ScottBro

Of course not, but when has that ever stopped me?

 

***

 

Stiles thinks it would be hilarious to sneak Derek into class with him to see if the teacher would notice. Derek immediately vetoes that idea and slips away at the first possible opportunity.

 

To: Derek Hale

Coward

 

From: Derek Hale

*Sane

 

Stiles rolls his eyes at him, even if Derek's not around to see it.

 

"So what do you think Peter Hale wanted at Jackson's this morning?" Allison asks as she and Stiles walk to their next class, which they don't share with Jackson.

 

"No idea," Stiles says. "Honestly, it kinda seemed like he was just there to cause shit. But I'm not sure with who, exactly. Though Jackson's dad doesn't seem to like him much." They round a corner and suddenly spot the sheriff walking towards them.

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"Relax," the sheriff says. "I'm just here on mundane business. Carry on."

 

"What?" Stiles asks again.

 

"Did something happen?" Allison asks. "Here?"

 

"Not really, I don't think," the sheriff says. He quickly closes the distance between him and Allison and Stiles and lowers his voice. "I'm pretty sure this is nothing, but it looks like your chemistry teacher, Mr Harris, is missing."

 

"Oh?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," the sheriff says. "He didn't show up for work today and the principal called it in after seeing a disturbance in the chem lab. I elected to send myself over, just in case, but I doubt it's anything."

 

"Honestly, I don't think Mr Harris going missing is necessarily a bad thing," Stiles says. The sheriff frowns at him, Stiles shrugs.

 

"Anyway, get to class, the pair of you," the sheriff says. He nods at them, claps a hand on Stiles' shoulder, and continues down the hall. Stiles and Allison watch him until he's out of sight.

 

"What are the chances that this is completely unrelated to what's going on?" Allison asks, making a circle in the air with a finger.

 

"The timing is a bit odd," Stiles says. "Is anyone keeping any tabs on Peter?"

 

"My dad probably," Allison says. "He might know something."

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Any way my chem teacher could be involved with the fire?

 

From: Derek Hale

Still Mr Harris?

 

To: Derek Hale

You know him?

 

From: Derek Hale

You know I did actually grow up here right?

 

From: Derek Hale

He taught chemistry when I was in high school

 

To: Derek Hale

The same time Kate was there?

 

To: Derek Hale

Derek?

 

From: Derek Hale

Yeah, they were teachers at the same time for a bit

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Turns out Mr Harris might have crossed paths with Kate Argent around the time of the fire

 

To: Daddio

Could be something there

 

From: Daddio

I'll look into it

 

***

 

Stiles hasn't heard back from his father by the end of the day, so he has no updates on the Mr Harris situation.

 

He collects Noah from daycare and heads out to the Jeep to find Scott and Derek there. The fact that they're both in one piece has him feeling optimistic about what's coming next, but not overly much.

 

"Hi," he says cautiously. "What's up?"

 

"I wanted to talk to you," Scott says, side-eyeing Derek, who is leaning against the Jeep with his arms crossed. "And you were with either Allison, Jackson, or in the daycare all day so I couldn't get you alone."

 

"Right," Stiles says. Noah reaches for Derek, so Stiles passes him over. Noah pats his hands against Derek's still-bare cheeks and Stiles wonders if this is the first time that Noah's actually seen Derek properly without facial hair. Scott watches the interaction with a confused frown, but doesn't comment on it.

 

"So what did you want to talk about?" Stiles asks Scott.

 

"I, uh, I wanted to apologize," Scott says.

 

"Oh," Stiles says. "Er, thanks." He pauses. "Apologize for what, specifically ? "

 

"For, y'know, trashing your room like that," Scott says, waving his hand vaguely. "And for the thing with Lydia. That wasn't cool of me." Stiles nods.

 

"Thanks for that," he says. He doesn't think he'll get apologies for Scott not listening to him about the warnings about what would happen if he didn't take his new abilities seriously and learn proper control, so he decides to just let it go.

 

Scott does look like he's going to say something else, but suddenly turns his head to face the school, where Allison and Jackson have suddenly appeared. Scott clenches his jaw and his fists.

 

"Hi, Scott," Allison says when she's close enough, but she doesn't go to him. Scott glares at Jackson, who just returns it with a bored look. Jackson shifts his gaze over to Stiles.

 

"I need a ride home," he says. Stiles waves at the Jeep. Jackson looks over to see Derek with Noah and arches an eyebrow. "How far are you taking the boyfriend thing, anyway?"

 

"What!?" Scott exclaims.

 

"What?" Stiles asks, looking back at Derek. "Oh, uh, I dunno. I'm not thinking too hard about it, to be honest. Pretty sure Peter just said that to annoy Derek anyway. It does make a decent cover story, though, not gonna lie."

 

"What!?" Scott asks.

 

"That's true," Allison says. "It would explain why Derek is hanging around Stiles so much."

 

"How would that make sense?" Jackson asks. "The sheriff letting his underage son date a grown man?"

 

"I mean, look at that face, though," Allison says. "He really doesn't look that much older."

 

"What is happening?" Scott asks.

 

"Can we stop talking about my face?" Derek asks.

 

"Relax, dude," Stiles says. "Pretty sure I can already see some stubble starting to grow back. You'll be back to normal by tomorrow morning."

 

"Guys!" Scott exclaims. "What is going on right now!?"

 

"Excuse me." They all turn around at the sound of a slightly annoyed adult calling to them. A member of the school staff is talking to them through one of the open windows. "School is over and, unless you have any business on school grounds, it's time for you all to be going home."

 

"Right," Stiles says. "Sorry!" He waves and gets a frown in return. He turns back to the others. "So we should probably get moving."

 

Scott turns to Allison. "Do you... need a ride home?"

 

"Uh, no," Allison says. "I have my car."

 

"Oh, uh..." Scott says. Stiles cringes. This is just painful. He distracts himself by taking Noah from Derek and strapping him into his car seat. Jackson climbs into the Jeep's passenger seat.

 

"Do you have a ride home, Scott?" Stiles asks.

 

"My mom's picking me up," Scott says.

 

"Right on," Stiles says. "I guess we'll see you guys later, then?"

 

"Definitely," Allison says. "Did you hear anything back from your dad about Mr Harris?"

 

"Not yet," Stiles says. "Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing."

 

"What happened to Mr Harris?" Scott asks.

 

"He's missing," Stiles says. "Still not sure if it should be anything for us to worry about yet."

 

***

 

From: Daddio

Sending Deaton over to the house with mountain ash

 

From: Daddio

Also still trying to figure out what happened to your chem teacher

 

To: Daddio

Any theories?

 

From: Daddio

All I've got is that he probably didn't leave on his own, we're still looking into it

 

***

 

Tonight is a quiet evening at home, which hasn't happened in so long that Stiles almost doesn't know what to do with himself. He'd dropped Jackson off at his place after school and so far hasn't gotten any SOS texts from him so he assumes everything is good on that front.

 

He also hasn't heard anything from Allison or Scott.

 

So once Noah is fed and settled Stiles relaxes with him and Derek on the living room couch to watch a movie. That has somehow become a bit of a novelty as of late.

 

The doorbell rings halfway through the movie and Stiles goes to answer the door to find Deaton on the porch.

 

"Hello, Stiles," Deaton says.

 

"Hey," Stiles says. "Dad said you were bringing mountain ash over?"

 

"Yes," Deaton says. "He thought it would better for you to have some on-hand, just in case."

 

"Well, he's not wrong," Stiles says. Deaton hands him a cardboard box that's surprisingly heavy. And then he turns and leaves without another word.

 

"Oh, well, thanks," Stiles calls after him. Deaton doesn't turn back around. Stiles brings the box into the living room and places it on the coffee table. This gets Noah's interest and he scoots over, though Derek catches him before he gets too close and gets ideas.

 

"Mountain ash," Derek says.

 

"Yup," Stiles says. "Kinda stupid that we didn't bother to get any before now, but this should help. Especially with Peter on the loose." There is already a ring of mountain ash surrounding the house (Stiles or the sheriff have to deal with that to let Derek come and go), but it'll be good to have some to keep on his person in case of an emergency.

 

"You could give some to your dad and Jackson," Derek says. "Allison is probably already well stocked."

 

"No doubt," Stiles says. "Do you think she's going around armed now?"

 

"Kind of hard to hide a bow and arrow on you," Derek points out.

 

"Do you think Peter is up to anything right now?" Stiles asks. "Or is he just biding his time until he can go after the Argents?"

 

"I think he's biding his time," Derek says. "He knows he can't go up against the Argents alone, even if he is an alpha."

 

"Do we know what kind of fire power the Argents are working with?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Derek says. "But, like you said this morning, we have a spy."

 

Stiles shoots him a beaming smile.

 

***

 

To: Allison Argent

Your family: armed to the teeth: y/n?

 

From: Allison Argent

My dad's an arms dealer

 

To: Allison Argent

Of course he is

 

To: Allison Argent

But like, man-power and anti-werewolf weapons?

 

From: Allison Argent

Just assume there's a lot of weaponry. And wolfsbane. I'm not sure on the man count, but both Kate and Grandpa brought friends with them

 

To: Allison Argent

Balls

 

From: Allison Argent

On the bright side, they haven't noticed that me and my dad are basically collecting info for the 'enemy'

 

To: Allison Argent

Let's hope they don't catch on

 

From: Allison Argent

[fingers crossed emoji]

 

***

***

Chapter Text

From: Daddio

We found Harris

 

To: Daddio

!!

 

From: Daddio

Alive

 

To: Daddio

🙁

 

From: Daddio

Stop that

 

From: Daddio

We're taking him to the station for now, hopefully we'll get his story out of him soon

 

***

 

With all the bodies turning up around town (the two bodies Peter mentioned leaving in the woods had turned out to be two more arsonists), the sheriff department has been extra busy lately. The sheriff has been putting in more time at the station, and so has had less time to do other things.

 

Things like grocery shopping.

 

Which is why Stiles is in the grocery store Saturday morning. Derek and Noah are also with him, because Derek apparently believes strongly in the buddy system. Though Stiles is glad to have him there. Now that Noah is getting older and becoming more aware of his surroundings, he tends to need more entertaining in some situations.

 

Stiles is happy to let Derek push the cart while Stiles entertains the baby. Today that means he's carrying Noah around and pointing out different things in the store. He's not sure if Noah is actually retaining any of this information, but he does at least seem amused by Stiles' narration.

 

"And that is turkey bacon," Stiles says, pointing with one of Noah's arms. "We buy that for Grandpa because it's healthier than real bacon, whether he likes it or not."

 

"And we know that Grandpa doesn't like it," Derek comments, picking up the package Stiles points to and dropping it in the cart.

 

"Grandpa needs to learn to deal," Stiles says. Derek just shakes his head and pushes the cart forward. "Next is vegetables."

 

"Stiles?" Stiles turns to see Allison walking out from a nearby aisle.

 

"Oh, hey," Stiles says. He uses one of Noah's arms to wave, but stops at the look on Allison's face. "You're here with your family, aren't you?"

 

"Yeah," Allison says, nodding. "My parents."

 

"Oh, that's not so bad?" Stiles says. Allison winces and makes a see-saw motion with one hand. Then Chris Argent appears from the aisle Allison had come out of. He raises his eyebrows in surprise when he sees Stiles and Derek.

 

"Hello," he says.

 

"Hi," Stiles says. Derek doesn't say anything. Then a woman emerges from the aisle and stands next to Chris. Stiles assumes that this is Allison's mother. And even though Stiles knows that Chris is technically on their side, he still comes off as mildly threatening. Allison's mother, on the other hand, gives Stiles total 'danger' vibes, especially as she stares at Stiles and then Derek with wide, intense eyes.

 

"Stiles, Derek, these are my parents," Allison says. "Mom, Dad, this is Stiles and Derek. And Noah."

 

"Yes, I know Derek," Mrs Argent says. "But I don't think I've met Stiles before." Her gaze is unrelenting and Stiles feels like an old-time movie criminal under an interrogation lamp. He imagines it must be worse for Derek.

 

"Stiles is Scott's friend," Allison says nervously. "I mostly know him from school. And Derek's his boyfriend." Stiles sees Chris' jaw go slack and he thinks that if Chris were a different man his mouth would've just dropped open in surprise. Mrs Argent actually turns toward Allison to shoot her a confused look.

 

"Boyfriend?" Chris asks with a cough.

 

"Yup," Stiles answers. "Boyfriend." Completely innocent association. No werewolf connections here. Nope.

 

"Huh," Chris says. And then, because the universe clearly hates both Stiles and Derek, Allison chimes in with:

 

"Yeah, they're totally adorable. I'm hoping to double-date with them for the winter formal. You said it would be fine for me to go if I went with more friends, right?" Stiles hears Derek make a slightly strangled sound behind him, but he doesn't dare turn around. Both because he doesn't want to turn his back on Mrs Argent, and because he suspects that if he sees the look on Derek's face right now he might either burst into hysterical laughter or just take off running.

 

"Honestly I'd rather you didn't go at all," Chris mutters.

 

"Dad, I'm 18, you can't keep me locked up in the house all the time," Allison says.

 

"There are better places to discuss this," Chris says. "The grocery store isn't one of them."

 

"Maybe it's time we hurry then," Mrs Argent says. She lifts up her arm, showing off a half-full shopping basket. "Also I think the ice cream may be starting to melt."

 

"Good idea, let's get going," Allison says. "See you later, Stiles, Derek. Bye-bye, Noah." She darts forward and jiggles one of Noah's hands as she walks by. Noah coos at her. Stiles stands closer to Derek as Allison's parents walk past them, his eyes following them until they disappear down another aisle.

 

Once they're gone, only then does he turn to Derek, whose skin looks pale and whose expression seems carefully blank.

 

"Well," Stiles says. "That could've gone worse." Derek doesn't respond.

 

***

 

To: Allison Argent

Excuse me, what winter formal!?

 

From: Allison Argent

The one at school

 

From: Allison Argent

You didn't see any of the posters up?

 

To: Allison Argent

No!?

 

***

 

Stiles is surprised to find his dad home when he and Derek get back from grocery shopping. They walk into the kitchen to find the sheriff at the kitchen table with the Hale fire files spread out in front of him.

 

"Dad?" Stiles asks. "I thought you weren't gonna be home at all today?"

 

"I just came to grab some of these files," the sheriff says without looking up. "Turns out that Mr Harris' vanishing act had more to do with the fire than we originally thought."

 

"Really?" Stiles asks. He puts Noah in his highchair with some toys to keep him occupied while he and Derek put away the groceries. "I thought you said you found Harris alive?"

 

"We did," the sheriff says. "He's fine. He's still at the station. But the story he's telling puts him on the fringes of the whole fire plot."

 

"So Peter didn't, like, kidnap him or whatever?" Stiles asks.

 

"No, just kind of scared him a bit and then left," the sheriff says. "Then Harris hid out for a bit before coming to us."

 

"That doesn't really fit with Peter's MO," Stiles says. He turns to Derek, who shrugs.

 

"Well," the sheriff says. "From what I can tell, Harris wasn't directly involved with the fire or coverup like the other victims were. All he did, according to him, was give some information to someone without ever knowing about the whole plot."

 

"Explain," Stiles says. The sheriff closes the folder he's looking through and folds his hands over it, looking up at Stiles and Derek.

 

"Harris is claiming that he was out drinking one night, when one of his colleagues came up to him and they got to talking," he says. "You know Harris is a chemistry teacher, and these questions happened to be all about chemistry and framed as hypotheticals so he didn't really think anything of it."

 

"Was this colleague Kate Argent?" Stiles asks.

 

"I think so," the sheriff says. "And if we can prove it was her gathering this information, and that she used it to cause the fire, then we can start building a case against her."

 

"Wouldn't Harris be able to identify her, though?" Stiles asks. "Just ask him to do a line up or something."

 

"The problem with that is that even if he can identify her by sight, there's no real proof that the woman he spoke to at the time was Kate Argent," the sheriff says.

 

"Uh… work documents?" Stiles points out. "She was teaching at the school at the time, that puts her in the area at the time of the fire."

 

"She wasn't teaching under her real name at the time," Derek suddenly pipes up. He's leaning against one of the counters, arms cross tightly over his chest and shoulders tucked in, like he's trying to make himself look smaller.

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"He's right," the sheriff says. "I looked into that a bit too, but didn't find much. There was no one teaching at the school at the time under the name Kate Argent. Looking into employee files only told me that there was a woman working there at the time that I'm pretty sure was Kate Argent working under a false identity, but right now there's no concrete way to prove it was her."

 

"Well, shit," Stiles says. "I thought we had something here."

 

"Well, hold on now, it's not like we have nothing," the sheriff says. He takes a piece of scrap paper off the table and shows it to Stiles. "Harris gave me this sketch. Said that the woman he talked to was wearing a necklace that looked like this. He still remembers it all these years later because it was pretty unusual. And also, and I quote, 'ugly as sin'. If we can put this necklace on Kate Argent, we might have something to start with." Stiles studies the sketch, which is kind of crude and messy, but does have a distinct design. He shows it to Derek, who just shrugs.

 

"I'm gonna show this to Allison and maybe Chris," Stiles says, taking a picture of the sketch with his phone. "If this is from a necklace that Kate wore, chances are one of them might've seen it before."

 

"Speaking of Chris Argent," the sheriff says. "He texted me earlier. What's this about Derek taking you to a dance?"

 

Stiles sputters uselessly and Derek suddenly disappears from the kitchen so quick Stiles is surprised he doesn't leave a smoke cloud behind him.

 

***

 

To: Allison Argent

[attachment: image]

 

From: Allison Argent

Where did you get this?

 

To: Allison Argent

Harris drew it for my dad, said it was a necklace that his coworker who was probably definitely your aunt was wearing when he told her different ways to use chemicals to "hypothetically" burn a house down

 

From: Allison Argent

Wow, that's a lot

 

To: Allison Argent

Ikr? I thought maybe you or your dad has seen it before and could tell us if Kate ever had one like it.

 

To: Allison Argent

If we're lucky we'll be able to connect it to her

 

From: Allison Argent

I've seen it before alright

 

From: Allison Argent

[attachment: image]

 

To: Allison Argent

Well, okay then

 

From: Allison Argent

That's not even all

 

From: Allison Argent

It's a one-of-a-kind family heirloom

 

To: Allison Argent

Holy fuck

 

***

 

Stiles' room has been cleaned since Scott's full moon assault on it, but the only furniture still standing is the desk, so Stiles is sleeping in the nursery for now. That means that he doesn't really have a place to hang out in after he's put Noah to bed, so he finds himself spending more time in the living room with Derek. Not that he minds spending time with Derek. Derek is actually pretty fun to hang out with a lot of the time.

 

A particularly fun discovery during this time is that Stiles learns that Derek has discovered The Great British Bake Off on Netflix and has become very invested in it. In his defense, it is a ridiculously wholesome and calming show. It's a great way to wind down and try not to think about all the chaos that is happening around them on the regular.

 

"Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to make something like that" - Stiles gestures wildly at the TV, which is showing a zoomed-in shot of a cake - "whenever you wanted?"

 

"Definitely," Derek agrees. He and Stiles are sitting side-by-side on the living room couch. The sheriff is still at the station and Noah is in bed. The house is quiet aside from the TV. There aren't any crazy alphas or hunters coming after them at the moment. Just a quiet night in.

 

"I was searching on Pinterest a lot before Noah was born, and I came across this board that had a bunch of baby birthday cakes on it," Stiles says. "And I so wanted a cake like one of them for Noah's first birthday and, like, a big fancy birthday party just to celebrate that I've been able to keep this child alive for one whole year."

 

"Have you changed your mind since then?" Derek asks.

 

"Not about the celebration bit. Noah's not gonna remember a first birthday," Stiles says. "He'll get all the presents and cake smashing and whatever, but it's mostly just going to be a celebration for me. Throwing a party for myself to clap myself on the back, basically. But I'm not gonna go nuts on the cake. Mostly because I looked up how to do a fancy one on Google and it had, like, 50 different steps or something."

 

"Cake-baking not something that comes naturally to you?" Derek asks.

 

"Dude, if I make a boxed cake mix and it comes out of the oven in one piece, and I haven't forgotten to put the eggs in, I call it a win," Stiles says. Derek laughs, eyes crinkling in mirth and bunny teeth on full display.

 

"I once made one of those for my mother for Mother's Day when I was about, I dunno, 12," Derek says. He's looking at the TV, but his gaze seems far away and there's a small wistful smile on his lips. "Except I, of course, waited until the last minute. Like, that day, and I was in a hurry to ice it and didn't let it cool down first. The icing melted almost entirely off the cake and just kinda sat on the edges of the plate."

 

"Oh no," Stiles says with a laugh.

 

"Yeah. Of course, Mom still said she loved it," Derek says. "Though Laura brought it up every chance she got for the whole year after that."

 

"I once served my mom a grilled cheese breakfast in bed for Mother's Day," Stiles says. "Except that it wasn't at all grilled and was just a Kraft Single - that wasn't even unwrapped - between two untoasted pieces of white bread." Derek giggles, which makes Stiles smile widely. "In my defense, I was maybe six at the time."

 

"That's hilarious," Derek says.

 

"She still ate it," Stiles adds. "After unwrapping the cheese, of course."

 

"Same with my mom," Derek says. "She ate the cake. Kinda used the melted icing as a dipping sauce, but she ate it."

 

"I sometimes wonder," Stiles says, not sure if he should even be mentioning this, "if one day Noah will feel left out on Mother's Day when he gets older."

 

"I know you're not together with his mother," Derek says. "But is she not in his life at all?"

 

"Nope, she signed away her rights when he was born," Stiles says. "I have sole custody. Didn't I… Oh wait, you weren't here when I explained all this to Allison." Derek shakes his head.

 

"Well, Noah's mother is Jackson's ex-girlfriend," Stiles says. Derek's eyebrows shoot up and his eyes widen. "I know right? It's a whole thing. Basically, me, Jackson, and Lydia have known each other for forever. And I was always in love with Lydia, but she never liked me all that much. And she and Jackson were together for a long time, but they were constantly breaking up and getting back together. Like, a year and a bit ago, they broke up and Lydia came up to me to ask me out. And I thought, 'finally, here's my chance', y'know?"

 

"Yeah," Derek says.

 

"So we went on one date and, well, I have Noah," Stiles says, waving a hand in the air. "At the time I thought it meant that we would be together. But it turned out that she'd just used me to get back at Jackson, because me and Jackson kinda hated each other back then and she knew it would get to him."

 

"Wow, that's… cold," Derek says.

 

"Yep," Stiles says. "None of us were expecting Noah. And Lydia didn't want anything to do with him or me once she found out that I was the father. And I already didn't want anything to do with her once I found out that I'd been used like I was. I still don't know how I'm supposed to explain that to him once he gets older."

 

"I wouldn't even know where to start," Derek says.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says.

 

"When did you explain this to Allison?" Derek asks.

 

"I think it was when you were fighting Peter at the hospital," Stiles says. "She'd just found out that Lydia had sort of pulled the same stunt with Scott that she had with me, just, like, not to the same extreme. And then she'd come here to confront Scott, and then one of us had let slip that something like this had happened before and then we sort of had to explain it."

 

"Wow, that's a lot," Derek says.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "But on the upside, Scott is staying away from Allison like we always wanted. Though now she's on our side so it wouldn't be a huge issue for them to be going out now, I guess?"

 

"I think this whole situation gets less and less straightforward the more people get involved," Derek says.

 

"But it wouldn't be as fun if everything made sense," Stiles says.

 

Derek grunts.

 

***

 

From: Allison Argent

Who should I get to take me to the dance that my dad won't try to scare off?

 

To: Allison Argent

Why are we going to the dance again?

 

From: Allison Argent

I think we need at least one night off where we get to just go out and have fun

 

To: Allison Argent

It'll be all fun and games until Peter crashes the dance or something

 

From: Allison Argent

It's fine, I have a purse big enough to fit a mini crossbow

 

To: Allison Argent

… have I ever told you that you're terrifying?

 

From: Allison Argent

😀

 

***

***

Chapter Text

From: ScottBro

Do you think Allison would go for it if I asked her to the formal?

 

From: ScottBro

Even as just friends if she wanted?

 

To: ScottBro

I don't think your chances are good, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt to try.

 

***

 

Derek isn't at the house when Stiles gets home from school Monday afternoon.

 

He doesn't think anything of it until the sheriff arrives home a little later and comments on the state of the mountain ash line around the house.

 

"Stiles, you have to remember to close the barrier back up after you let Derek through," he says. Stiles looks up from where he's trying to convince Noah to put his supper in his mouth instead of on his person.

 

"I always do," he says. "Besides, weren't you the last one to break it to let Derek out today? Because I was at school all day."

 

"I was at the station all day," the sheriff says. "I never came back to the house for anything and I didn't touch the line. But there's a small gap out in the front." He points over his shoulder. Stiles frowns, and his heartrate picks up.

 

"Did Derek mention to you about having someone come over to let him out?" he asks.

 

"No?" the sheriff asks. "I thought he was still here until I saw the break and thought you let him out at some point." Stiles feels a hot flash sweep through him and sweat breaks out across his forehead. He must go pale too because the sheriff is suddenly at his side to put a hand on his shoulder.

 

"Now, don't start panicking yet," he says. "It's possible that Derek just left without telling us. He doesn't need to report all his movements to us or anything."

 

"But would he go somewhere without telling us?" Stiles asks. The sheriff grimaces.

 

***

 

To: Allison Argent

We may have a problem

 

From: Allison Argent

See, now you're doing it

 

From: Allison Argent

But what's happening?

 

To: Allison Argent

Derek might be possibly missing

 

From: Allison Argent

!!

 

To: Allison Argent

Not sure yet. But someone broke the mountain ash line and Derek never told us he was going anywhere today.

 

From: Allison Argent

Oh no

 

From: Allison Argent

I'll check with my dad and see what he knows and get back to you

 

***

 

To: ScottBro

Have you heard from Derek at all today?

 

From: ScottBro

No, why would I?

 

***

 

To: Whittemore

Please tell me you've seen Derek today

 

From: Whittemore

Pretty sure he likes you more than me

 

From: Whittemore

Did something happen?

 

To: Whittemore

I dunno, he's just not here

 

From: Whittemore

I'll let you know if I see him anywhere

 

To: Whittemore

Thx

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Where are you?

 

***

 

Derek still isn't back by that night, and Noah won't go to sleep. Stiles paces a circle on and around the air mattress in the nursery, and he's convinced that Noah knows that something is going on. Or he's just gotten used to seeing Derek at some point during the day and is out of sorts about him being gone.

 

He's not the only one out of sorts, because Stiles is also worried.

 

He knows that Derek is a big boy and can take care of himself, but he's gotten used to at least having an idea of where Derek is at all times. It's not even that Derek is gone that's bothering him (though he has to admit that he'd rather Derek not be gone in general), it's that he seems to have disappeared into thin air.

 

The sheriff had even gone so far as to put out an alert for sightings of him after checking that the Camaro is still where Derek last left it in a public parking garage.

 

Stiles tries to put Noah in the crib again, but the baby wails and clings to his hands. In the end, exhausted and worried, Stiles makes sure the nursery door is shut and takes Noah to sleep on the air mattress with him.

 

Sleep still doesn't come easy.

 

***

 

Allison and Jackson are waiting in the back parking lot when Stiles arrives at school the next day. Stiles isn't surprised to see them.

 

"No news yet?" Allison asks when Stiles jumps out of the Jeep.

 

"Nothing," Stiles says. "Dad's got the police out checking for him and even they haven't seen him."

 

"So we have no idea of where he could've gone?" Jackson asks.

 

"If I may make a suggestion." They all jump at the sound of the strange voice and then Peter Hale is sauntering towards them. He's smirking and doesn't even seem to care that he's somewhere he isn't supposed to be. Stiles stands in front of the Jeep's back door, Jackson pushes Allison behind him, and Allison shoves a hand in her messenger bag.

 

"What did you do, Peter?" Stiles asks.

 

"That's Peter Hale?" Allison asks. Jackson nods, not taking his eyes off Peter.

 

"Now what makes you think I did something?" Peter asks. He stops near the rear of the Jeep, nearly close enough for Stiles to reach out and touch, and Stiles' heart goes into overdrive. Peter is also close enough to do some serious damage to the Jeep - the Jeep with Noah inside it - with very little effort.

 

"You're usually to blame lately when something happens around here," Stiles says shakily. Peter seems to consider this, and then nods.

 

"True," he says. "But generally only when it concerns my revenge plot."

 

"You also fought Derek in the hospital that one time," Allison pipes up.

 

"Derek started that one," Peter says with an eye-roll. "Now, as to my original reason for coming here like this: have you put any thought into the movements of the Argent family? I think we can all agree at this point that they are generally not too fond of any of the Hale family hanging around." Both Stiles and Jackson turn their heads to look at Allison, who is staring back at them wide-eyed.

 

"I… I'm sure he's not at our house," she says. "There's always people coming and going, hunters and whatever, but I never heard any of them talking about any plans to hurt Derek."

 

"Do you think they're onto you?" Stiles asks.

 

"I don't think I've given them any reason to be," Allison says.

 

"You think this is Kate again?" Jackson asks. "She did attack him at his house once, remember?"

 

"Yeah, but she didn't kidnap him from the place," Stiles points out.

 

"She could be stepping up her game," Jackson says. "Learning from her past mistakes. And it's not like she's going to stick around and attack someone in the sheriff's own house. Especially when she's still on the hook for the last time."

 

"I thought I heard Grandpa say that she was cleared from those charges," Allison says, frowning.

 

"My dad never mentioned anything about that," Stiles says.

 

"In my experience," Peter pipes up, and Stiles starts a bit because he'd almost forgotten about him, "the Argents aren't the most trustworthy bunch when it comes to their methods and motives." Allison bristles, offended. Stiles thinks back to Kate Argent's original tactics for gaining access to the Hale family the first time. He wonders what Peter knows about that, if anything.

 

"Hey!" A shout comes from the school. "Leave those kids alone and get off the property or I'm calling the police!" One of the teachers has stuck his head out a nearby window. He's also got a smartphone in one hand that he's waving in their general direction. Peter smiles at the sight, apparently amused.

 

"I believe that's my cue," he says. He gives one last look to Stiles, Allison, and Jackson, then turns around and starts casually strolling away.

 

"You ever get the feeling he knows more than he's telling us?" Jackson asks.

 

"He's the villain," Stiles says. "Of course he knows more than he's telling us."

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Don't freak out, but saw Peter

 

From: Daddio

What!? Where!?

 

To: Daddio

Showed up at school, insinuated that the Argents have something to do with Derek going missing, then just left

 

From: Daddio

Of course

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Okay, if I don't hear back from you I'm just gonna assume you're in trouble

 

To: Derek Hale

We're coming to find you I swear

 

***

 

Allison and Jackson meet up with Stiles in the back parking lot again after school. Though this time they have Scott with them.

 

"So what's the plan?" Allison asks.

 

"I think our best bet is to find out what your family knows," Stiles says. "Do you think you can try to find out in a way that won't tip them off?"

 

"Definitely," Allison says.

 

"You're going to ask them if they know anything about a missing werewolf?" Scott asks. Allison turns a look of worried innocence on him.

 

"Werewolves don't exist, Scott," she says. "I'm just saying that it's kind of scary that my friend's boyfriend has suddenly gone missing. Especially with all the weird deaths that've been happening around town lately." Stiles and Jackson's eyebrows go up, and Stiles is very impressed and very much glad that Allison is on their side.

 

"That's perfect," Stiles says.

 

"McCall can also try tracking him," Jackson points out. "We should get some use out of him being a werewolf, even if he is bad at it."

 

"Hey!" Scott exclaims.

 

"That's a good point," Stiles says.

 

"Hey!" Scott exclaims.

 

"You can try it by scent," Allison suggests. "Just start at Stiles' house and see where the trail leads."

 

"Right," Stiles says. "Everybody in the Jeep!"

 

"We drove ourselves in," Allison says, waggling a finger between her and Jackson.

 

"Right," Stiles says. "Everybody meets at my house then!"

 

***

 

"I'm not sure this is gonna work," Scott says, standing in the middle of the Stilinski yard with his nose in the air.

 

"You're not getting anything?" Stiles asks.

 

"I'm getting a lot of smells, but I can't really figure out which one is supposed to be Derek," Scott says.

 

"Hold on," Stiles says. He hands Noah to Allison and runs into the house to grab one of Derek's shirts. He runs back outside waving the shirt over his head. "This should help!"

 

Scott takes the shirt from him and sniffs it. Then he lifts his nose in the air and takes deep inhales, starting to wander around the yard. He looks absolutely stupid, but Stiles doesn't have time to worry about that right now. Allison, Jackson, and Stiles stay where they are as Scott starts walking towards the road. He stops on the sidewalk, turns in a circle, and then looks toward Stiles and shrugs.

 

"The trail ends here," he says.

 

"Shit!" Stiles says, with feeling.

 

"They must have put him in a car," Jackson says.

 

"Sorry," Scott says. "I tried."

 

"Not your fault," Stiles says. "And now onto Plan B."

 

"Looks like you're up," Jackson says to Allison.

 

"I'll do my best," Allison says.

 

***

 

Stiles is a nervous wreck for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. He doesn't hear from Allison for a while, and he's not really expecting to, but the radio silence doesn't help his nerves any.

 

The sheriff comes home from work but goes immediately into his study with his laptop. Stiles isn't sure if he's using legal channels to search for Derek, or if he's just catching up on paperwork.

 

Stiles is lying on the living room floor and letting Noah use him as a jungle-gym when his text alert goes off.

 

From: Allison Argent

Awkward family dinner over

 

From: Allison Argent

My mother worrying that Derek is too old for you, thinks he ran off to find someone his own age

 

From: Allison Argent

Kate said that age is just a number

 

Stiles feels an unpleasant shiver go down his spine.

 

To: Allison Argent

Nobody said anything that even hints that they know what happened to Derek?

 

From: Allison Argent

Not at all

 

From: Allison Argent

But Kate just invited me out with her to do night shooting

 

To: Allison Argent

?? Is this normal?

 

From: Allison Argent

No, but maybe she thinks I'm interested? She mentioned something about this back when I was asking her about her necklace.

 

To: Allison Argent

This seems dangerous

 

From: Allison Argent

Yeah, she told me to keep it a secret from my dad for now, said it was time we bonded properly without his interference

 

To: Allison Argent

Be careful

 

From: Allison Argent

[thumbs up emoji]

 

Stiles scoops up Noah and jogs over to his father's office. The sheriff is frowning down at his laptop, an open file folder next to it on the desk. He looks up when Stiles comes in.

 

"Kate just invited Allison somewhere for night shooting," he says. The sheriff scrubs a hand over his face.

 

"Did she say where?" he asks.

 

To: Allison Argent

Do you know where you're going?

 

From: Allison Argent

Not yet, I'll let you know once we get there

 

"She'll let me know once she gets there," Stiles says.

 

"I'm gonna talk to Chris Argent," the sheriff says. "See if he has any idea what's going on."

 

***

 

The doorbell rings about fifteen minutes later and Stiles opens the door to reveal Jackson.

 

"What are you doing here?" Stiles asks.

 

"Couldn't think of anything else to do," Jackson says with a shrug. "You hear anything yet?"

 

"Allison's going somewhere with Kate," Stiles says. "That's all I've got."

 

"You think it's related to Derek?" Jackson asks.

 

"I think it's a hell of a coincidence," Stiles says. "Come in, you might as well wait here." Jackson passes Stiles and walks into the living room. Noah watches the two of them through the mesh sides of his playpen. The noise he lets out at the sight of Jackson seems almost disappointed.

 

"I think he's missing Derek," Stiles says.

 

"Just how far are you two taking the whole 'boyfriends' thing?" Jackson asks.

 

"What? We aren't taking it anywhere," Stiles says. "Noah just really likes him. Independent of me."

 

"Uh huh," Jackson says. He drops to the couch in a sprawl, only to shoot back up a few seconds later when Stiles gets a text.

 

From: Allison Argent

[attached: image]

 

"Oh fuck," Stiles says.

 

"What?" Jackson asks. Stiles shows him his phone screen with the picture opened. A picture of Derek, shirtless with wires in his skin, strung up on what looks like some kind of fencing.

 

From: Allison Argent

We're in the old Hale house

 

From: Allison Argent

You have to send someone

 

From: Allison Argent

She has him hooked up to electricity!!

 

From: Allison Argent

And she has a lot of weapons here!!

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles practically trips over himself running to his dad's office, waving his phone in the air.

 

"Kate has Derek at the Hale house!" Stiles exclaims. The sheriff shoots up from his chair.

 

"What!?" he asks. Stiles hands him the phone to show him the picture just in time for another text from Allison to come in.

 

From: Allison Argent

[attachment: video]

 

"What is that?" the sheriff asks. Stiles almost doesn't want to know. The sheriff opens the video.

 

"The electricity stops them from shifting. Keeps them human." Kate's voice emerges from the phone's speaker. Jackson appears in the doorway, clutching the door frame and listening in.

 

"But doesn’t it hurt them?" Allison's voice.

 

"So?" Kate's voice. Then there's a second of silence before Derek screams once. The scream cuts off with a snarl. "Oh, c'mon now, Derek, you don't have to keep it in. No one can hear you out here. There's no one to come interrupt us. You know I like the noises you make."

 

Stiles wants to be sick.

 

"This one grew up in all the right places." Kate's voice again. The sheriff is frowning severely at the phone screen. "I'm not sure whether to kill it, or lick it."

 

"Aunt Kate-" The video cuts off there.

 

"Forward this to Chris Argent," the sheriff says, handing Stiles back the phone. "I'll give you his number."

 

"We have to go get him," Stiles says.

 

"Don't worry, we'll get him out of there," the sheriff says. "You two stay here and do not leave this house." The sheriff goes to his gun safe and removes his service pistol, and then he's out of the room like a shot. Stiles and Jackson share a look, Jackson looks about as shaken as Stiles feels.

 

***

 

To: Chris Argent

[attachment: video]

 

To: Chris Argent

It's Stiles, my dad gave me your number

 

To: Chris Argent

Allison just sent me this video, she's out at the Hale house with Kate and Kate has Derek

 

From: Chris Argent

I'm on my way

 

***

 

To: Allison Argent

Troops assembling

 

From: Allison Argent

Hurry

 

***

 

The doorbell rings and this time it's Mrs McCall at the door.

 

"Your father called me," she tells Stiles. "Something about Derek maybe needing medical attention? Where is he?"

 

"Derek still hasn't been rescued from being kidnapped," Stiles says. "Hopefully he'll be back soon. He's been missing since yesterday."

 

"My god," Mrs McCall says. "Hi, Jackson, I wasn't expecting you here." Jackson, sitting on the couch, waves at her but doesn't say anything. Mrs McCall looks at Stiles, who shrugs.

 

"We're friends now," he says. "It's a thing."

 

"Right," Mrs McCall says. "And how is Noah doing?" Her voice goes high-pitched and gushy as she approaches the playpen. Noah sits up and grins at her. "Oh my! You've gotten so big!" She picks up him and cuddles him, resting her cheek on his head.

 

"I think he's going to start actually crawling soon," Stiles comments, climbing on the couch to look out the window. No sign of anyone coming back with Derek.

 

"That'll be fun," Mrs McCall says. "Then he'll be walking and you'll have to chase him everywhere." She sits down in an armchair with Noah on her lap.

 

"It's Stilinski's kid, he'll probably start talking first," Jackson says. He's fiddling with his phone.

 

"That's true," Mrs McCall says. "See anyone coming?"

 

"Not yet," Stiles says, breath fogging up the window pane.

 

"No one's texted?" Mrs McCall asks.

 

"Not me," Stiles says. He looks at Jackson, who shakes his head.

 

"Just Lydia," he says, gesturing with his phone. "Unrelated."

 

"How's that going?" Mrs McCall asks. "Scott mentioned that you two broke up and that now you're dating Allison?"

 

"I broke up with Lydia. That's going," Jackson says. "But me and Allison aren't dating."

 

"They're friends now," Stiles says. "It's a thing." Mrs McCall gives them both a confused look. "Where is Scott, anyway?"

 

"Working," Mrs McCall says. "He's been picking up extra shifts with Deaton. He wants to get himself a dirtbike to ride around on so I won't have to drive him everywhere."

 

"A dirtbike?" Stiles asks.

 

"Cheaper than a motorcycle," Mrs McCall says. Stiles nods, then turns back to the window. The street is quiet and empty, and Stiles is anxious.

 

"What's taking them so long?" Stiles asks, mostly to himself.

 

"I'm sure they're just trying to be as careful as possible," Mrs McCall says. "They can't exactly go in guns blazing with Derek in trouble. And they don't want to put Allison in danger either."

 

"You think Kate would hurt Allison if she found out she told us where Derek is?" Stiles asks.

 

"Who knows?" Mrs McCall says. "Let's hope not."

 

***

 

Stiles gets a sense of déjà-vu when a black SUV pulls into the driveway and then Chris Argent is helping a battered-looking Derek out of the back of it. This time Stiles runs out of the house to meet them.

 

"Take him," Chris says, pushing Derek at Stiles. "I have to get back." Chris gets back into the SUV and speeds off again. Stiles watches him go and then turns back to Derek, who's standing in the driveway hunched into himself and looking at the ground. Stiles approaches him slowly. Derek's wearing a button-up shirt that's obviously not his and he's holding it shut with his hands. It would be a funny sight if Derek didn't look so… traumatized, for lack of a better word.

 

"Are you okay?" Stiles asks. He places a hand on Derek's arm; and Derek flinches a bit but doesn't throw off the contact.

 

"I want a shower," he says, voice raspy. Stiles nods.

 

"Yeah, go ahead," he says. "Um, Jackson and Mrs McCall are inside." Derek nods and stays quiet as Stiles leads him into the house. Stiles ushers Derek in the direction of the stairs, shaking his head at Jackson and Mrs McCall in the living room. Derek is silent the entire way up the stairs and into the bathroom.

 

"Did you need, like, medical attention before you get in there?" Stiles asks. Derek shakes his head, still looking down at the floor. "Right. I'll leave some clothes for you outside the door. Just, take whatever time you need." Derek nods.

 

Stiles closes the bathroom door behind himself and goes back to the living room.

 

"Is he alright?" Mrs McCall asks.

 

"I don't think so," Stiles says, throat tight. "He's probably fine physically, but like… y'know…"

 

"Right," Mrs McCall says. But she doesn't know, not really.

 

***

 

From: Allison Argent

So things have kind of blown up here

 

From: Allison Argent

How's Derek?

 

To: Allison Argent

Oh, you know, could be better

 

From: Allison Argent

Yeah, my dad is totally tearing Kate a new one over here

 

To: Allison Argent

She's actually back at your place??

 

From: Allison Argent

Oh no, we're still at the Hale house, there's a lot of things being shouted that shouldn't be shouted in a public sheriff's station

 

To: Allison Argent

Fair enough I guess

 

From: Allison Argent

Your dad's just standing here waiting to arrest Kate

 

To: Allison Argent

No other hunters around?

 

From: Allison Argent

No, I think this was just meant to be some personal mission for her, no one else here but me

 

***

 

Fresh from the shower, Derek is sat on the couch between Jackson and Stiles with Noah in his lap. He's still quiet and subdued, but seems generally relaxed. Mrs McCall is still there, just in case, though it's clear that Derek has completely recovered from his physical injuries.

 

Stiles wants to ask about Derek's time with Kate, but he's pretty sure that Derek doesn't want to talk about it. And he's equally sure that he doesn't want to know all the details. The little bit he'd heard on Allison's video has convinced him that the whole ordeal wasn't a great one for Derek.

 

The sheriff arrives home a little while after. He regards the assembled group on the couch for a minute before shaking his head and sighing.

 

"Whatever," he says.

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"Nothing, don't worry about it," the sheriff says. "We can discuss it another time. How are you feeling, Derek?"

 

"Alright," Derek answers softly, not looking at anyone.

 

"Okay," the sheriff says. "Well, Kate Argent's in lockup. Her father seems to be scheming some way to get her out, which won't work since this is the second time she's gone after Derek like this. And we're officially re-opening the case of the Hale fire with her as our prime suspect." Stiles' eyebrows shoot up, and even Jackson looks impressed. Derek looks up for the first time, face impassive but eyes swirling with emotion.

 

"Do you think they'll be able to get her for it?" he asks.

 

"At this point, no idea," the sheriff says. "But we're gonna do our best to get something to stick. Cases have been won on circumstantial evidence before, so hopefully we'll manage a win this time."

 

"Worse case scenario she'll walk and then we'll just sic Peter on her," Stiles says.

 

"Stiles," the sheriff warns.

 

"What?" Stiles asks. "She'd deserve it." A small grin crosses Derek's lips and Stiles can't bring himself to feel bad.

 

***

 

After a rough night best not discussed, Stiles looks out the kitchen window in the middle of preparing a bottle for Noah to see Peter Hale standing in the backyard. He's standing just outside the mountain ash barrier, arms crossed over his chest and staring at Stiles through the window.

 

"What the…?" Stiles asks. Then Derek comes clattering down the stairs, eyes glowing.

 

"Peter's here," he says.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says, pointing out the kitchen window with the hand not holding the bottle. Noah, in his high chair, babbles and waves a toy at Derek when he appears, but Derek only pats him briefly on the head as he storms to the back door. He's certainly looking more animated this morning than he had last night, especially as he practically rips the door open and stalks out into the yard.

 

Stiles rushes to the open doorway, but isn't overly worried since both werewolves are on different sides of the barrier and therefore can't really cause each other any physical harm.

 

"What are you doing here?" Derek asks, the edge of a growl in his voice.

 

"I can't come to check up on my nephew after a difficult night?" Peter asks. He's smirking, but Stiles can detect some kind of undercurrent in his voice that makes him think that Peter actually is here honestly.

 

"What do you know about last night?" Derek asks.

 

"Enough," Peter says. "I make it a point to always be keeping track of the Argents' movements. Though I clearly need to be keeping a much closer eye on them."

 

"Hey, so, I have a question," Stiles says. "While you're here and can't attack us right now."

 

"Oh?" Peter asks.

 

"Why haven't you dealt with Kate Argent yet?"  Stiles asks. "She's the last on your list for the fire, right? Why not hurry up and kill her and get it over with?"

 

"Didn't think I'd ever hear the son of the sheriff advocate for someone's murder," Peter says, eyebrows raised.

 

"Yeah, well," Stiles says, with a quick glance at Derek. "I think a lot of people would be better off with her out of the picture."

 

"True," Peter says. "And I would love nothing more than to finally get my claws into the woman who killed my family. But she's a hunter, and a damn good one. Going up against her on my own would be suicide. Especially with her cronies and father in the area. I'd need help."

 

"You mean Scott?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yes and no," Peter says. "If Scott were at all competent I could use him. So far, though, he's turned out to be a massive disappointment."

 

"Hey, you're the one who bit him," Stiles points out. Peter shrugs.

 

"I'd just become an alpha after spending six years in a coma-like state," Peter says. "I can't be held responsible for my actions that night."

 

"So I can't hold you responsible for Laura?" Derek suddenly asks. The smirk drops from Peter's face, and this is the first time Stiles has seen him look this serious. He thinks that this is Peter Hale not playing games.

 

"Legally I probably wouldn't be," Peter says. "But personally, you're free to hold me responsible for it for as long as you want. I know I'll never be able to forgive myself for it." Derek whirls around and walks back into the house, leaving Stiles and Peter alone with each other.

 

"So what happens after you kill Kate Argent?" Stiles asks. Peter shrugs nonchalantly, his smirk back on his face. Serious and heartfelt moment over, apparently.

 

"Who knows?" he asks. "Some things will all depend on whether or not I'm still alive by the end. Though one thing that's guaranteed is that there will be some sort of retaliation from the Argents. You and Derek will have to make sure that your little pack is well protected."

 

"Pack?" Stiles asks. "What pack?"

 

Peter doesn't respond to that, just turns around and walks off.

 

"Hey, Derek?" Stiles asks, turning back into the house. "Do you know what he's talking about? Derek?"

 

***

***

Chapter Text

To: The Pack Group Chat

So, we seem to have accidentally Pack'd?

 

From: Derek Hale

That's not a verb

 

From: Allison Argent

My dad gave me a very constipated look when I told him this, I love it

 

From: Whittemore

I don't remember agreeing to this

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

You got automatic membership

 

From: Derek Hale

Look, it's not a requirement. I mostly accidentally formed the pack bonds out of stress-bonding. No one is being forced to be here

 

From: Whittemore

I never said I didn't want to be in the pack

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Then it's settled, we are officially Pack

 

From: Whittemore

What exactly does that mean anyway?

 

From: Derek Hale

It means we're connected. We draw strength from each other and can rely on each other in times of danger.

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

And if this ain't times of danger we're in right now

 

***

 

Stiles and Jackson cut class after lunch to go hang out in the library again. Though this time Allison comes with them.

 

"So how's Derek?" she asks, sitting down across from Stiles and Jackson at the table. "I didn't want to put him on the spot like that in the chat."

 

"Physically he's back to normal," Stiles says. "Emotionally… I'm not totally sure."

 

"Stiles, some of the things Kate said," Allison says, lowering her voice to a near-whisper. "Some of the things she did to him…" Stiles and Jackson had watched the video right after the sheriff had left to go rescue Derek. They'd watched Kate put her hands all over Derek, seen her lick a broad stripe up his stomach. Seen the way Derek flinched away from her even though he couldn't go anywhere, tied to the fence like he was. It had been horrific. Jackson hadn't said anything at the time, but Stiles had seen the disgust in his expression.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. He still has the video on his phone. He's not entirely sure if Derek even knows it exists. He'll have to tell him about it. Later. "Yeah, I can't really say anything about that."

 

"But it really looked…" Allison says. She taps her fingers nervously on the table.

 

"Derek's always said that Kate is responsible for the fire," Jackson says. "It's possible they've met before."

 

"I can't say anything about that," Stiles says, giving them both significant looks. They both seem to eventually get what he means, because he sees the realization in their eyes. Allison looks like she's about to cry.

 

"That's it, isn't it?" Jackson asks. "That's the thing Derek wasn't telling us about the fire."

 

"I can neither confirm nor deny anything," Stiles says. "It's not my place."

 

"Oh my god," Allison says, putting her head in her hands. "Oh my god."

 

"Yeah," Stiles says.

 

"Do you think my dad knows?" Allison asks.

 

"No idea," Stiles says. "Sometimes I think he knows nothing about the fire at all. But sometimes I wonder if that's just a front. Your dad can obviously keep a secret, considering he kept his werewolf hunting side hustle from you until now."

 

"But my dad told me that he believes in the code," Allison says. "That's what he said to Kate yesterday too. That their job as hunters is to go after the supernaturals that go after humans, and that Derek has never hurt anyone in his life."

 

"I don't think anyone in the Hale family has ever done anything that would give hunters a reason to go after them," Stiles says. "I think Kate is just a psychopath. Who knows how many more families she's done this to?"

 

"Packs," Jackson says. "Not just families. But packs."

 

"So, moving away from this for a second," Allison says. "Now that you've brought up packs, we're apparently in one?"

 

"Looks like it," Stiles says. "I managed to get some of it out of Derek this morning. I think he's a bit embarrassed about it, to be honest."

 

"You wouldn't think it to look at him," Allison says. "But Derek's pretty shy, isn't he?"

 

"Oh yeah," Stiles says. "And I don't think it helps that he's just used to being alone all the time. He told me that for the past six years it's really just been him and Laura. He also said that werewolves do better in packs, that having those bonds keeps them centered. With that bond to Laura gone, he needed more, so he started forming them with the first people he got close to."

 

"He imprinted? Like a baby duck?" Allison asks.

 

"I'm so gonna tell him you said that," Stiles says. "But not really. He said he felt like his pack was us, and my dad and Noah. Remember he also spent time with Scott and his mom early on, but he didn't try to form any bonds with them."

 

"Can't blame him there," Jackson says. "Has Derek even spent any time with McCall where they've gotten along?"

 

"Not that I know of," Stiles says. He looks at Allison, who shrugs. "Anyway, he also said that we're not, like, a super proper pack because we don't have an actual alpha, but I think we're doing alright so far."

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Allison says that you've imprinted on us

 

To: Derek Hale

Like a baby duck

 

From: Derek Hale

At least she didn't make a Twilight reference I guess

 

To: Derek Hale

*gasp*

 

From: Derek Hale

No

 

To: Derek Hale

YOU’VE READ TWILIGHT!?!?!!?

 

From: Derek Hale

NO

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Kate Argent still locked up?

 

From: Daddio

Yup

 

To: Daddio

How goes the evidence gathering?

 

From: Daddio

Slow, but we did manage to confirm Harris' story with the necklace and all that

 

To: Daddio

Yiss

 

***

 

To: Chris Argent

How much do you know about your sister's psycho behaviour?

 

From: Chris Argent

It's not my job to keep tabs on her

 

To: Chris Argent

It should be someone's

 

To: Chris Argent

I just want to know how many packs she tried to wipe out like she did with the Hales

 

From: Chris Argent

Kate didn't wipe out the Hale pack

 

To: Chris Argent

No but she tried, didn't she?

 

***

 

There's a lacrosse practice that afternoon, and Stiles decides to go watch. He'd already packed extra supplies for Noah that morning in preparation.

 

He hasn't gone to watch a practice or game in a while, and he's curious to see if Scott has finally taken everyone's concerns to heart and maybe reigned in his abilities any. Allison comes with him to pick up Noah, and it's a pleasant surprise to find Derek waiting for them in the back parking lot.

 

"Hey," Stiles says. "What are you doing here?"

 

"Thought I'd come see the practice up close for once," Derek says. "Hi, Noah," he adds when Stiles hands him the baby. Allison coos at them both and the tips of Derek's ears go red.

 

"Is that safe?" Allison asks after a minute. Derek shrugs.

 

"Should be fine," he says. "Kate's stuck at the station, and your entire family knows I'm around anyway. And I can't see any of them being reckless enough to attack me in public in broad daylight. Especially when they also know that I'm friendly with the sheriff."

 

"Do they know that Dad is in your pack?" Stiles asks.

 

"I don't think so," Derek says. "I'm not sure they know if I have a pack. Or they might think I'm just pack with Peter and Scott since they're both werewolves."

 

"Do they not know that humans can be pack?" Stiles asks. "Can humans be pack? Or is it only, like, emergency accommodation pack?"

 

"Humans can be pack," Derek says. "Most packs tend to have some at some point. Some of my family members were human." And Derek just drops that bomb all casual like it doesn't really mean anything. Stiles' heart drops into his shoes, because what? Stiles looks over at Allison, and going by her expression he figures she's come to the same realization.

 

Derek seems to realize what he's just said because he winces. "Sorry."

 

"No, no, it's fine," Stiles says. "Not saying that there being humans in the fire makes the whole situation better or worse, but like..."

 

"It makes it worse in terms of Kate's... everything, to be honest," Allison says. Derek's looking off in the direction of the lacrosse field, but Stiles can tell his gaze is faraway.

 

"I actually think it might've been better for the humans in the fire," he says. "They would've gone quicker." Stiles shuts his eyes for a second against the sudden burn of tears. It's weird that he sometimes forgets that he can't even fathom the depths of the pain that Derek has been through.

 

"Is there a reason you guys are all standing around here like weirdos?" Stiles opens his eyes and turns to see Jackson coming towards them wearing his practice gear. "What the hell's wrong with you?" He asks Stiles.

 

"Nothing," Stiles says. There's no tears on his cheeks, but his face must be doing something weird because Jackson is giving him a strange look.

 

"Right," Jackson says. "Anyway, practice is starting soon. And I should probably warn you that Lydia is in the stands."

 

"Why?" Stiles asks.

 

"She's dating one of the players," Jackson says.

 

"Scott!?" Allison exclaims.

 

"No, one of the seniors," Jackson says. Stiles isn't sure what to say to that. He shares a look with Allison, who just shrugs at him. Jackson gives them all one more look and turns to head back to the field, Allison jogging to catch up with him. Stiles goes to start walking but is stopped when Derek puts an arm around his shoulders.

 

"You okay?" He asks.

 

"What? Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" Stiles asks.

 

"I thought you had... like, a moment there, or something," Derek says.

 

"No? Oh! About the... yeah, but it's passed," Stiles says. "I'm the one who should be asking if you're okay."

 

"It's something you get used to after a while," Derek says. Stiles hugs him, because how could he not after that? He's pretty sure that Derek needs more hugs. Derek pats him awkwardly on the shoulder, and his ears are red again when Stiles lets him go.

 

"Anyway," Stiles says. "We better get going. I need to show off my hot boyfriend and adorable kid to the masses." Derek rolls his eyes at him, but there's a tiny grin playing on his lips.

 

***

 

Stiles doesn't know why he keeps forgetting that Derek is actually from Beacon Hills. It's like it never crosses his mind until Derek crosses paths with someone in Stiles' life other than his father or friends.

 

"Derek Hale!" Finstock declares as soon as Derek gets near the field. Derek almost stops in his tracks, which makes Stiles chuckle.

 

"Coach?" Derek says cautiously. "Hi?" Finstock marches away from the bench and walks up to Derek, who's still holding Noah, who seems just as stunned as he is.

 

"Did you play lacrosse in high school?" Stiles asks. He really doesn't know a whole lot about Derek's life outside of the Hale fire. He needs to fix that soon.

 

"Basketball," Derek says. "Finstock was the coach for that too at the time."

 

"Small world," Stiles says.

 

"Small town," Derek says.

 

"What are you doing back here?" Finstock asks. He circles Derek, then stops beside him and squints at Noah. "Isn't that Stilinski's baby?"

 

"Yeah, I'm here too," Stiles says. Finstock waves him off. "Okay then." Stiles looks away and spots Allison standing near the players' bench and giggling at him. Stiles gives her an exaggerated eye-roll. Confident that Noah is fine with Derek, Stiles hitches his diaper bag more comfortably on his shoulder and wanders over to the bench.

 

"Scott out there yet?" He asks, standing next to Allison.

 

"Not yet," Allison says.

 

"Did he talk to you about going to the formal, by the way?" Stiles asks.

 

"To me?" Allison asks. "No, why? Did he say something?"

 

"He asked me if he thought he had a chance with you going with him," Stiles says. "Even as friends." Allison makes a face. Stiles shrugs at her. "You did say you wanted to go."

 

"Yeah," Allison says. "I don't know if I could go with Scott, though, even just as friends."

 

"Is this about the whole thing with Lydia?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," Allison says. "I just… really did not expect something like that from him."

 

"Yeah," Stiles agrees. "Me neither. I've known Scott since we were, like, four. He's always been the 'good' one out of the two of us."

 

"You kept getting into trouble and dragging Scott along for the ride?" Allison guesses.

 

"Naturally," Stiles says. "And that was basically our dynamic until I found out about Noah."

 

"Scott was my first, you know?" Allison says. Stiles takes a moment to process this. He hadn't actually known that Scott and Allison had gotten that serious (not that he's in the habit of thinking about Scott having sex). That just adds another level of wrong to Scott making out with Lydia, even if he had been under the influence of the full moon at the time.

 

"That kind of, I dunno, betrayal is kind of hard to get past," Stiles comments. He and Allison share a look. A mutual understanding passes between them.

 

"It is a betrayal, though," Allison says. "Isn't it."

 

"Not sure what you two are talking about, but McCall is glaring at you two like he wants to come over here and start something," Jackson says, suddenly walking past the two of them. Allison and Stiles look to the field and see Scott standing near one of the goals. And he is, indeed, glaring at the two of them.

 

"His eyes aren't flashing at us," Stiles says. "Looks like his control's improved."

 

"Well, he can glare all he wants, I'm not changing my mind on this," Allison says.

 

***

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

So formal, are we seriously doing that?

 

From: Allison Argent

Why not? We deserve a bit of fun, don't we?

 

From: Allison Argent

It's not like Peter can do a whole lot while Kate's still in prison. Why not relax a bit until the family lawyer finds some bs loophole and things get crazy again?

 

From: Whittemore

Sure, why not? Not like we have anything better to do right now.

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

I'd have to find a babysitter. Pretty sure my dad is working that night.

 

From: Derek Hale

I volunteer

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Absolutely not. If I'm going, you're coming with me.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

From: Allison Argent

We should go dress shopping

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Already got one, thanks

 

From: Allison Argent

?

 

From: Whittemore

Wtf?

 

From: Derek Hale

!?

 

***

 

"Have you ever been to a formal dance?" Stiles asks. He's sitting on the couch folding Noah's clothes while Derek keeps the baby occupied by waving - what Stiles is sure is - a cat toy in front of his face.

 

"Not really," Derek says. "The closest thing I've been to is a semi-formal."

 

"Did you have to wear a tie?" Stiles asks. He tries to picture a teenage Derek Hale looking awkward at a school dance and can't bring anything up. Looking at Derek now, Stiles figures that he probably skipped the awkward teen phase. People as pretty as Derek always seem to.

 

And then his thoughts take a sick turn as he wonders if that's what initially drew Kate to him. Derek must sense something - maybe in Stiles' heartbeat that werewolves can apparently hear - because he turns to look at Stiles with a worried frown.

 

"What's wrong?" he asks.

 

"Nothing," Stiles says. Derek arches an eyebrow at him. "Seriously, it's nothing. So, you have any cool werewolf dance moves?"

 

"The Thriller dance," Derek says. Stiles immediately sits ramrod straight and a wide grin breaks out across his face. Derek's ears go pink.

 

"Please tell me you're serious," Stiles says.

 

"Laura made us all learn it once for something," Derek says. "I can't really remember what now, some kind of family event. Drove my grandparents nuts." Derek doesn't talk about his family a whole lot, and Stiles is often afraid to ask him about them. He wants to hear more of Derek's happier memories, but he doesn't want to accidentally drag up something painful. Or force him to think too much about what he's lost (though Stiles is sure that it's never really far from his mind whether anyone mentions it or not).

 

"Do you demonstrations?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Derek says.

 

"Aw," Stiles groans. "Come on!" Derek just shakes his head, smiling down at Noah. "I bet Noah would like to see it."

 

"Noah wouldn't know the difference between that and the chicken dance," Derek says.

 

"Worth a shot," Stiles mutters.

 

***

 

From: Daddio

Spoke to Chris Argent about Allison's video

 

To: Daddio

And?

 

From: Daddio

Made sure he deleted it off his phone, and got him to tell Allison to do the same

 

From: Daddio

You should let Derek know that it exists, see what he wants to do with it

 

To: Daddio

I thought it was evidence against Kate??

 

From: Daddio

Can't use it. He shifts a bit in the video. And there's no way we can explain him not having any signs of the injuries he should have after what he went through in the video.

 

To: Daddio

Ah, right

 

To: Daddio

I'll talk to him about it

 

***

 

From: ScottBro

Are you going to the dance with Allison?

 

To: ScottBro

Not with with Allison but we'll probably be there together

 

To: ScottBro

I'm going with Derek, why?

 

From: ScottBro

Is Allison going with Jackson?

 

To: ScottBro

Dunno, she didn't say one way or the other, why??

 

From: ScottBro

I heard you two talking at the lacrosse practice

 

To: ScottBro

I figured

 

From: ScottBro

So how do I convince her to go with me??

 

To: ScottBro

I don't think you can?

 

From: ScottBro

You have to help me out with this, you're supposed to be my best friend!

 

To: ScottBro

Dude, Allison's my friend too, and I'm not gonna trample all over her feelings just because you asked me to. Especially not for something like this.

 

From: ScottBro

Is it because it was with Lydia? Dude, I thought you already got over her.

 

To: ScottBro

That is so far from the issue I don't even know what to tell you

 

***

 

"Hey, Derek, do you have a minute?" Derek looks up from where he's trying to repack his newly-washed clothes in his bag. The bag is a reminder to Stiles that Derek isn't actually staying here permanently, and that he'll be leaving once things settle down. Stiles isn't sure if that means Derek will just be leaving the house, or leaving town altogether. It's not something he likes to think about. He doesn't actually want Derek to leave either way.

 

"Yeah, what's up?" Derek asks. "I don't think any of this will be proper for a formal." Stiles sits next to him on the couch and peeks at the bag.

 

"Oh don't worry, Allison's taking us all shopping," Stiles says. Derek's lips thin out into a line. "Yeah, I feel ya. So anyway, about that night Kate kidnapped you..." Derek's face instantly goes blank and Stiles winces.

 

"What about it?" He asks.

 

"I just..." Stiles says, he rubs a hand over the back of his neck. "Allison's the one who let us know where you were."

 

"Yeah," Derek says. He knows as much, he was there, after all.

 

"Yeah, so," Stiles says. "She sent us a picture, and a video." Derek stiffens. "It's not a long video, and right now I think me and my dad have the only copies. I just wanted to know what you wanted us to do with it. Dad says we can't use it as evidence because of the whole" - Stiles waves a hand over his face and torso - "thing. So..."

 

"Delete it," Derek says, voice hard.

 

"You sure?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yes," Derek says. Stiles pulls out his phone and does as he's told. Making sure that it's gone from his Deleted folder as well. "Who's seen it?"

 

"Uhh, Allison took it, and she was there for the whole thing, so her. And then me, Jackson, Dad, and Chris Argent," Stiles says. "Just the night it happened. I haven't looked at it since." Derek just nods. He's sitting ramrod straight on the couch with his hands clenched into fists in his lap. Judging by the tightness of his jaw, Stiles can tell that his teeth are also clenched. Stiles wants to touch him, maybe a comforting hand on his arm, but that doesn't seem like a good idea right now.

 

"Um, if you're worried about any of us spreading it around, we won't," Stiles says. "We wouldn't anyway, that's really no one else's business but yours."

 

"It's not-" Derek cuts himself off. His face crumples a bit, but smooths out again. "It's fine."

 

"Yeeeeahhhh," Stiles says. "I don't believe that for a second. You're allowed to have feelings about this you know. Pretty sure this counts as a trauma of some sort."

 

"Yeah, probably," Derek says.

 

"No, it really does," Stiles says. Derek shrugs and looks away. "You wanna watch a movie and not think for a bit?"

 

"Yeah," Derek says, after a pause.

 

***

 

To: Allison Argent, Whittemore

So let's never bring up that video from the kidnapping ever again

 

From: Allison Argent

[thumbs up emoji]

 

From: Whittemore

Noted

 

***

 

"I can't believe I'm letting you drag me around like this," Stiles grumbles as he follows Allison into yet another store. He didn't even know the mall in Beacon Hills even had this many fancy clothes stores.

 

"If you weren't so picky this wouldn't be an issue," Allison says. "Besides, this place has some nice dresses too." It's only the two of them going to this store, but they'd come to the mall with Jackson and Derek (and Noah, naturally). Jackson and Derek had found decent outfits early on in their venture and elected to wander elsewhere in the mall while Allison kept dragging Stiles to store after store.

 

Stiles really should stop being so picky. He isn't usually too fussed about his clothes, but he really wants to look nice for the formal. He's going with Derek, after all, and even if they are only fake boyfriends, Stiles doesn't want to embarrass him. Surely, someone as good-looking as Derek could do a lot better than someone like Stiles.

 

"Do we have to do the colour-coordinating thing?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yes," Allison says, leading Stiles past racks of slacks, button-up shirts, blouses, and who-knows-what else. "Nothing too wild, but we should at least complement the people we're going with." Allison had ended up asking Jackson to take her as a platonic date. Jackson had agreed, not having had any other prospects lined up. Stiles is pretty sure that Jackson isn't even looking for someone else to date right now, and that he's still getting over Lydia. He figures that'll take a while, considering how long they've been together.

 

Even Stiles himself has some residual feelings for Lydia, despite everything she's done. She'll always be his first love, for better or for worse. He thinks it might be the same for Jackson, but he doesn't think it's something he should ask about. Or even if it's something Jackson would talk about even if he did ask.

 

"What did Jackson get?" Stiles asks. Stiles hadn't been paying much attention earlier, distracted with trying bowties on Noah under the suspicious gaze of the nearest salesperson. (The pictures had been so worth it, though.)

 

"Some kind of white suit," Allison says. "It looks nice, but I'd rather something more colourful for myself. I'm getting him a nice tie and matching my dress to it." A white suit; Stiles would not have the courage to even attempt that. Mostly because he's sure he'd be guaranteed to spill something on it before the night was out. If he'd be even lucky enough to leave the house without Noah doing something to it first.

 

"Derek's tie is blue," Stiles says. Derek hadn't gone for a whole suit, just a pair of black slacks and a black button-down shirt. The tie had been Stiles' idea. He'd grabbed it as soon as he'd seen it on the tie rack a few stores ago.

 

"It matches your wolf eyes," Stiles had said, thrusting it at Derek. Derek had rolled his eyes a bit, but had accepted the tie.

 

"I wonder if we could get away with putting you in a blue shirt," Allison says. "Or did you want a suit?"

 

"No suit," Stiles says.

 

"What are your feelings on skinny jeans?" Allison asks.

 

"Generally hostile," Stiles answers. He sees Allison putting something back on a nearby rack.

 

"These pants are on sale," Allison says, drifting over to a different rack. Stiles follows her obediently. It's a double-sided rack and they each start sifting through a side. Stiles pulls out a pair of blue khaki slacks – the same bright shade as Derek's tie and eyes – that look promising, and when he looks up to show Allison, he spots two things that cause him to instantly start nervous sweating.

 

The first is Lydia Martin, who is standing a few racks away and staring at them.

 

The second is Peter Hale, making his way towards them with a deceptively casual smirk on his face.

 

***

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Maybe not a huge panic, but Peter is here

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

And also Lydia

 

From: Allison Argent

Can confirm

 

From: Derek Hale

On our way

 

***

 

"My, my, doesn't this look like fun," Peter drawls once he reaches Allison and Stiles.

 

"I'm armed," Allison tells him simply, with a dimply smile. Stiles thinks again that it's too bad that Scott screwed up his chances with her before they had a chance to realize how awesome Allison actually is.

 

"I have no doubt," Peter says. "You would be foolish not to be."

 

"I have mountain ash?" Stiles says, gesturing with the slacks he'd pulled off the rack.

 

"Oh, is that what you're going with?" Allison asks, coming around to Stiles' side of the rack to inspect the pants. "These are nice." Peter looks mildly offended at being ignored over clothes. Allison turns to Peter with wide, innocent eyes. "Do you think we should get him a matching tie in this colour? Or would that be too much, since Derek has one too?"

 

"Are you seriously asking the bad guy here for fashion advice?" Stiles asks.

 

"What?" Allison asks. "If he's going to interrupt our good time he might as well make himself useful."

 

"So are you two actually going to the formal together?" Stiles whirls around to find that Lydia has moved closer and is standing just one rack away with her arms crossed over her chest. She pins Allison, and then Stiles with a look.

 

"Uh…" Stiles says. He turns back to Allison for help, only to catch sight of Peter giving Lydia a quick once-over before focusing on her hair.

 

"Ah," he says.

 

"What does that mean?" Stiles asks. Then Derek and Jackson show up, storming through the store like they're on a mission. Stiles sees a saleswoman start to walk towards them, then stop as if she's thought better of it.

 

"Ah, nephew," Peter says. "Jackson."

 

"Lydia?" Jackson asks once he reaches them.

 

"Jackson," Lydia says.

 

"Peter," Derek growls. He still has Noah in a one-armed hold against his shoulder. Noah looks around at everyone with one fist in his mouth. He grins a bit around his fist when he spots Peter. Peter's answering smile seems reluctant.

 

"Derek, what do you think of these pants?" Allison suddenly asks.

 

"What?" Derek asks, not taking his eyes off Peter.

 

"What is happening right now?" Stiles asks.

 

"Stiles and Derek are going to the formal together and their outfits need to coordinate," Allison announces to the group at large.

 

"Oh?" Lydia asks. She slants a quick look at Jackson. "And I suppose Jackson is your date?"

 

"Yup!" Allison chirps. Stiles is now officially terrified of Allison's ability to navigate whatever situation is going on here. "I think I need a night of fun out with friends to get my mind off Scott." To her credit, Lydia doesn't so much as flinch at the sweet smile Allison gives her. Stiles vows to never get on Allison's bad side.

 

"Well, this has been fun," Peter says. "But I really should get going."

 

"Things to do?" Stiles asks.

 

"Always," Peter says. And with that, he saunters off. They all watch him go until he exits the store and disappears into the mall crowd. Stiles notices that Derek doesn't relax even after they lose sight of Peter. He stays turned towards the entrance while Stiles and Allison go back to putting his outfit together.

 

Lydia, for some reason, keeps hanging around. Eventually, Allison takes Jackson off to look at dresses. Then Lydia turns to Stiles, and Derek standing right behind him.

 

"I'd heard that you'd gotten an older boyfriend," Lydia says. "But I didn't realize he was 'out of high school' old. I'm surprised your dad is allowing this."

 

"Yeah, well," Stiles says. "Turns out that going out with someone my own age doesn't guarantee that I won't be used or abused, so…" He shrugs. "Plus he seems to like me and he's good with Noah." That last bit is maybe a cheap dig, but Stiles figures he at least deserves to get this one thing in. Lydia's only reaction to that is a huff, though Stiles thinks he sees some sort of emotion in her eyes, but it's there and gone in a second.

 

Lydia doesn't stick around long after that, just long enough to make it seem like her leaving is completely unrelated to Stiles. Or to Jackson and Allison laughing and generally having a good time in a far corner of the store.

 

***

 

"I don't think that's what I expected Lydia to be like," Derek says at home later that evening. He and Stiles are putting together Stiles' new bedroom furniture (paid for out of Scott's savings, which Stiles would feel more bad about had the whole situation not been preventable, and were Scott not being kind of a jerk right now) and doing a fairly decent job. Stiles has only hammered his fingers twice so far.

 

"Was that the first time you met Lydia?" Stiles asks, trying to think back.

 

"Yeah," Derek says.

 

"Huh," Stiles says. "What were you expecting?"

 

"I'm not sure," Derek says. "Someone more… devious looking maybe? She just looked like a typical popular high school girl to me. I was expecting a twirly villain moustache." Stiles imagines that for a second and lets out a loud burst of laughter at the thought. Derek gives him an answering grin.

 

"Most of that's an act, you know," Stiles says. "Lydia's always been pretty smart. I think that's why I first fell in love with her. Back in the third grade." Derek's eyebrows shoot up in surprise, though he doesn't look away from the nightstand he's wrestling with.

 

"That's a long time to be in love with someone at that age," he says.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "I think that's just how Stilinskis are built, though. My parents went to school together. Apparently my dad was in love with my mother from grades six to eleven without them barely even interacting. And then she ended up being the one to go after him. I kinda thought me and Lydia would be the same."

 

"And then you weren't," Derek says.

 

"No," Stiles says. He gives a vicious twist to a screw in the new bookshelf he's assembling. "I think I knew, deep down, that it wasn't going to happen with us. Definitely not in high school, just going by our social status. Pretty sure she wouldn't have looked twice at me if I hadn't been the perfect option for really getting back at Jackson at the time."

 

"You know, for one perfect night, I thought that I was finally getting everything I ever wanted," Stiles says, putting down his screwdriver. Derek also stops what he's doing to look at him. "I'd always hoped that one day Lydia would notice how I looked past all her bullshit and saw the real her: the smartest person in the school who was going to really make something of herself one day. I hoped that one day she would realize that Jackson wasn't the guy for her, and that I was and we'd, like, ride off into the sunset together. She could go off and be brilliant and I'd be there to watch her and cheer her on from the side."

 

"Not a bad fantasy to have at your age, I think," Derek says. "I thought that about my first girlfriend. She was this amazing musician, and to me it sounded like she could take it anywhere. It took a bit to actually get her attention, but once I had it, it was the best feeling in the world. I would've followed her anywhere."

 

"But you couldn't?" Stiles asks.

 

"Her family moved away and we lost touch," Derek says. "I was really down about that for a while afterwards. And then I met Kate, which was somehow the best and worst thing that ever happened to me."

 

"You think we'll ever get the chance to have normal, healthy romantic relationships?" Stiles asks.

 

"I like to think so," Derek says. "After the fire, Laura would always tell me that we would be happy again, someday. She never got the chance, I feel like I owe it to her to at least try."

 

"Did Laura know about Kate?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Derek says. "No one did. You’re the first person I've told. It's like my wolf instincts told me I could trust you with it. And it didn't hurt that you could relate to it."

 

"Relate?" Stiles asks, blown away by what Derek's just admitted. "Uh, pretty sure what you've been through is about ten times worse than anything I've been through."

 

"Maybe you can't understand everything," Derek says. "My situation is strange in all sorts of ways."

 

"Yeah," Stiles says.

 

"But you do know what it's like to be used in that specific way by someone you loved," Derek says. "To have someone use… I'm not sure what you'd call it… Sexual coercion? To take advantage of something good and turn it into something awful."

 

"Sexual coercion?" Stiles asks. He's never really thought too deeply on Lydia's actions and motives surrounding their one night together. He tries not to think about it for the most part. It still hurts sometimes, and he's never been one to poke at his own bruises just to feel the hurt. He's not a fan of feeling hurt. But even in the fleeting moments when he does think of it, he's never framed it in the terms he'd frame Derek's experiences in.

 

The base similarities between the two events stun him.

 

"Or something like that," Derek says, seeming to get that Stiles is having some kind of realization right in front of him. "I still don’t really understand it myself." He goes back to the nightstand, and Stiles goes back to the bookshelf.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

"Dad, do you think Lydia raped me?"

 

The sheriff almost chokes on his mouthful of chicken and Stiles winces. Maybe mealtime isn't the most appropriate time to be bringing up things this heavy.

 

"What!?" The sheriff exclaims with a cough. "What are you talking about?"

 

"Uh, well, Derek said something yesterday that kind of made me think about the whole situation in a different light," Stiles says. Stiles is aware enough to know that rape doesn't mean a strange man in a trenchcoat dragging unsuspecting women into dark alleyways. He's been around the internet enough to read articles and think pieces about rape and rape culture and things like that. But he's also never really thought more about it beyond it being someone forcing another person into sex one way or another. And of course, like in Derek's situation, an adult taking obvious advantage of a younger person.

 

His own situation with Lydia definitely falls into more of a grey area. The sex he'd had with her had been consensual at the time, very much so. It was only after when he realized that Lydia had had her own agenda going into it that the feeling of being used had crept in.

 

He'd spent a while on Google the night before, trying to figure out the subtleties of his situation. Sexual coercion didn't seem to fit (though that did make him wonder if Derek had used the wrong term for his own experience, or if it was the right term and Derek had just glossed over a lot of what he'd been through).

 

Stiles had never felt any kind of pressure to have sex with Lydia. He'd been surprised at the time that she'd wanted to do that with him, and had gladly and enthusiastically gone along with it.

 

But would he have had sex with Lydia had he known that she'd done it just to get back at Jackson, and that she hadn't been interested in Stiles that way at all? No. No he would not have.

 

Rape by deception seems like too strong a term for what Stiles has been through, but he can't deny that it fits. There can be no complete consent without proper informed consent and all that.

 

The sheriff is giving Stiles a bewildered look from over his desk. They're sitting in his office at the station eating dinner. Noah is on Stiles' lap cheerfully squishing the food that's supposed to be going into his mouth.

 

Derek is actually with Jackson right now, helping him put up a mountain ash barrier around his house. Apparently they have to keep it hidden to avoid ruining the aesthetic of the Whittemores' property. ("Rich people," Stiles had said, rolling his eyes, when Derek had told him about it.) And also, Stiles allows, because the Whittemores have no idea about the supernatural and wouldn't know what the mountain ash is for. Though Stiles gets the impression that Mr Whittemore would be all for whatever if it would keep Peter Hale off his property (Stiles still isn't quite sure what that's all about).

 

"Well," the sheriff says, putting down his fork and scrubbing a hand through his hair. "I mean, I don't think so. Do you feel like that's what happened?"

 

"Not really?" Stiles says, awkwardly running a hand through his own hair. It's starting to grow out a bit. "But I ended up looking it up online after I talked to Derek about it, and apparently what happened to me could be considered rape by deception."

 

"Rape by deception?" The sheriff asks. "Gotta say, that's a new one for me."

 

"Yeah, I hadn't heard about it either," Stiles says. "But it makes sense. If you trick someone into consenting, is it technically consent? Even if it doesn't look like the 'traditional' kind of rape?"

 

"When you put it like that, I don't think it is," the sheriff says. "It sounds like... sex fraud?" Stiles huffs out a laugh. "I'm not sure what laws there are surrounding that, though. It honestly seems like more of a 'he said/she said' than the average rape or sexual assault."

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "The law sucks that way."

 

"Lotta work needs to be done on it," the sheriff says. "There was a time back when no one believed men could be raped at all. We know better now, thankfully, but there's still a long way to go on it." Stiles nods. He briefly wonders if he should mention Derek's situation, but he's not entirely sure what the sheriff knows about it. It's obvious from the video that Kate and Derek have some sort of history, but did the sheriff figure out the exact nature of it? Stiles doesn't want to out Derek, he already feels bad that he sort of told Allison and Jackson about it.

 

"So what did Derek have to say about all that?" The sheriff asks, almost as if he's read Stiles' mind. Stiles has always wondered if that's a trait all parents develop eventually. He wonders if it's something that he'll eventually learn to do once Noah gets older. Or it could be that Stiles is just that easy to read sometimes.

 

"Uh, mostly that he doesn't totally understand it himself," Stiles says. "I think he still has to work through a few things in his own mind."

 

"Based on Allison's video, which I sincerely hope you spoke to Derek about, by the way."

 

Stiles nods.

 

"Good. But based on that video, it looks like Derek's been through something with Kate Argent. And not a good something."

 

"Yeah. Has he mentioned anything to you?"

 

"No, but I could read it on him when we took got him away from her that night. I don't know the specifics, and if he's told you anything I won't try to get it from you, but if you two have some kind of common ground on this kind of thing, I hope you can at least talk to each other about it instead of keeping it bottled up."

 

"Yeah. I think it'd be good for him to talk about it, maybe." The sheriff pins Stiles with a serious look.

 

"What about you?" He asks. "I might not know much about this kind of thing, but I do know that it has an effect on people. How are you doing with all this?" Stiles forces himself to think about it for a second. Noah wipes a messy hand over his face and hair and onto Stiles' shirt. Stiles absently wipes at Noah's head.

 

"I mean... I think I'm doing alright," Stiles says. "I didn't even consider it a kind of assault until I researched it, so like..." He shrugs. "Oh well? Like thinking back on it still makes me feel kinda shitty, but nowhere near as bad as it did at the time."

 

"Well, you let me know if anything changes," the sheriff says. "If you need help, I'll get you whatever you need."

 

"Thanks, Dad."

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

Derek

 

To: Derek Hale

Derek

 

To: Derek Hale

Sex fraud

 

From: Derek Hale

!?

 

To: Derek Hale

I had a talk with my dad, and I looked up what you told me about, sexual coercion

 

From: Derek Hale

How'd that go?

 

To: Derek Hale

Good. My dad's pretty cool. He'd probably be open to talking to you about your experiences or whatever, if you were looking for closure on that, or however that works

 

From: Derek Hale

I probably won't, but I'll keep it in mind

 

From: Derek Hale

What's sex fraud?

 

To: Derek Hale

So I was researching sexual coercion and it doesn't really apply to what happened to me. But I found something called rape by deception that does

 

To: Derek Hale

Basically it's like lying to someone to get their consent that they wouldn't have given otherwise

 

To: Derek Hale

Like fraud. Sex fraud.

 

From: Derek Hale

Sounds like a band name

 

To: Derek Hale

[heart-eyes emoji]

 

***

 

It's the day before the formal and Scott has made a rare appearance at the Stilinski house.

 

There was a time when Scott and Stiles would spend almost every afternoon and weekend together, but Stiles didn't see much of Scott after Noah was born. It was understandable, even though Stiles didn't like it. Things had improved a bit after a few months, and then werewolves happened and threw everything into chaos and then Scott was too busy with his new powers and sports aspirations.

 

To be fair to Scott, though, Stiles is near-constantly busy with Noah, so it's not like he has a whole lot of free time to hang out anyway. And certainly not like they did in the time before Noah.

 

But today Noah gets to hang out downstairs with Derek and the sheriff while Stiles entertains Scott upstairs.

 

Though 'entertain' might be pushing it a bit.

 

"I still can't believe you're going to the formal with Derek," Scott says, looking around at Stiles' newly assembled room.

 

"You know he can hear you, right?" Stiles asks. "He's only downstairs." Stiles is stretched out on his new bed (the sheriff had paid for the new mattress, since Stiles had needed a new one anyway, even before Scott had taken his claws to it), enjoying the feeling of not having to deal with an air mattress.

 

"So?" Scott asks.

 

"I just don't get why you don't like him," Stiles says.

 

"Because he's a dick," Scott says.

 

"Is he a dick because he wouldn't let you get away with ignoring the whole werewolf thing?" Stiles asks. Though he knows the answer to this. "And because he kept telling you to cool it with Allison until we figured out if she was dangerous or not?"

 

"No," Scott says. "And anyway, don't you only like him because you think he's hot or something?"

 

"No!" Stiles exclaims, sitting up. "I like him because I like talking with him and hanging out with him and he seems to like me and my kid. If you spent more time with him, or me, you'd know that." There's no denying that Derek is hot like the sun, but also Stiles feels like their friendship started back when their sole interactions were over the phone. It really feels like he's known Derek longer than he has. Sometimes Stiles still can't believe that Scott was only bitten just last month. Apparently time passes funny when everything's in chaos.

 

"Right," Scott scoffs. "I doubt it."

 

"Y'know Derek's actually spent more time with Noah in the past few weeks than you have since he was born?" Stiles asks.

 

"So?" Scott asks.

 

"Never mind, I guess," Stiles says. It high-key sucks that someone who's supposed to be Stiles' best friend doesn't seem to care much about the most important person in Stiles' life. He's not quite sure what to do with that, honestly. "So are you going to the formal with anyone? Or are you going at all?"

 

"I'm definitely going," Scott says. "I can't believe Allison's going with Jackson."

 

"You know they're just going as friends, right?" Stiles asks.

 

"Still," Scott says. "And I can't believe you and Jackson are even friends now."

 

"It's weird to me to, but I think we've grown on each other," Stiles says. "Like fungus or something." He doesn't mention anything to Scott about being in a pack, not sure that he'll understand. He's actually not sure if he wants to say anything about it to Scott, wanting to be protective of his friends and packmates.

 

Although, does Scott even know anything about packs?

 

"Hey, has Derek or Deaton said anything to you about werewolf packs?" Stiles asks.

 

"I think Derek said something about it once a while ago," Scott says. "That we were 'brothers' now, or something. It was weird. But Deaton told me that werewolves are usually in packs, with like an alpha and stuff. That's why Peter Hale was trying to get me to join him. Having a bigger pack means more power for the alpha."

 

"So have you thought about, like, joining a pack, or making a pack, or however that works?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Scott snorts. "I just want to be normal. I'm doing better with my control now, and I have my anchor, so I should be fine without one. Besides, I don't want Peter Hale as my alpha. Not after what he's done."

 

"Fair enough," Stiles says, because he doesn't want Peter as his alpha either. "But please tell me you found another anchor other than Allison."

 

"Of course not," Scott says. "She's still my anchor, Stiles. I love her." Stiles bites his lip at that because he's pretty sure that if he says what he's thinking about that, Scott will end their friendship right here and now.

 

"Okay then," he says instead.

 

***

 

Scott decides that his visit is over when Noah gets fussy and isn't content to stay downstairs without Stiles. Even Derek flashing his eyes won't work. Time for Noah to go to bed, and Stiles to have uninterrupted Netflix time with Derek. Even though Stiles has his room back, he's come to enjoy this new evening ritual with Derek, so he hasn’t bothered to stop it.

 

"I guess I'll see you at the dance?" Scott asks, halfway out the door.

 

"Oh yeah," Stiles says. "Definitely." Stiles gets the feeling that if he hangs out anywhere near Allison at the formal he's sure to cross paths with Scott at some point. He's not really looking forward to it.

 

***

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

So Scott says that Allison is still his anchor

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

Of course she is

 

From: Allison Argent

For the record, I did tell him that I'm not interested in dating him ever again

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Not sure that matters to him, unfortunately

 

From: Derek Hale

He's in for a bad time if he doesn't change that

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

He's in for a bad time if he doesn't change the way he thinks all around

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Agreed

 

***

 

To: Allison Argent, Jackson Whittemore

Hey quick question

 

To: Allison Argent, Jackson Whittemore

Should I try for a slow dance with Derek if the opportunity comes up?

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

I guess so?

 

From: Allison Argent

Yes. Do that.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up Friday morning with the feeling that all is right and good in the world.

 

He's immediately suspicious.

 

"What's wrong with you?" Derek asks when he finds Stiles in the kitchen and jittering anxiously around the room.

 

"I feel good today," Stiles says. "I don't trust it." Derek arches an eyebrow at him and goes to the counter to make himself a bowl of cereal.

 

"Are you just nervous about the dance later?" He asks.

 

"No," Stiles answers, probably too quickly. "Why? Are you?"

 

"A bit," Derek admits. He takes his cereal to the table, sitting next to Noah's highchair. Noah greets him by waving a rubber baby spoon at him. Derek grins and flashes his eyes at him, which makes Noah squeal excitedly. Stiles takes a short break from worrying to be amused at the interaction.

 

"I don't see what you have to be anxious about," Stiles says. "All you have to do is show up looking all mysterious and pretty and everyone will be intrigued."

 

"Right," Derek says dubiously. "What time should I be ready for?"

 

"It's at like, seven o'clock, or something," Stiles says, waving a hand at him. "Plenty of time. We could probably go out to eat before that if you want."

 

"With Jackson and Allison?" Derek asks.

 

"Sure," Stiles says. "Mrs McCall said that I could drop Noah off with her right after school today to give us time to get ready." Mrs McCall is the official babysitter for the night. She's also not accepting any money for it, and Stiles thinks it's because she still feels guilty over Scott's full moon tantrum. Though it's not like he argued much with her about it, he's not exactly rolling in cash here.

 

"Scott's going to the dance too, right?" Derek asks. "Even if Allison's not going with him?"

 

"Yeah, I think he has some sort of thing planned to get back in her good graces," Stiles says. "Personally, I can't see it happening." Derek raises his eyebrows in agreement.

 

***

 

Since Stiles is dropping Noah off at the McCalls', he drives Scott home after school so Mrs McCall won't have to come pick him up.

 

"So do you have a ride to the formal?" Stiles asks as Scott helps him get Noah's things into the house.

 

"Yeah, Mom's letting me borrow the car," Scott says.

 

"It's too bad you couldn't think of anyone to take with you," Stiles says.

 

"Dude, the only girl I'm interested in is Allison," Scott says.

 

"Right," Stiles says. He feels kind of bad for not inviting Scott to join him and the pack for pre-formal dinner, but he really doesn't want to subject Allison to him if this is how he's gonna be. Also he doesn't want to have to feel like he has to run interference between Scott and Derek the whole time.

 

Mrs McCall meets them at the front door, immediately taking Noah from Stiles.

 

"Hello there!" she coos at Noah. Noah babbles at her happily while patting at her face. "Is that all of his things?" She nods at the equipment Scott is propping up against the wall by the front door.

 

"Just the playpen, table highchair, and the stroller," Stiles says. "I doubt you'll need the stroller, actually, but just in case." He hands her the Batman diaper bag she and Scott had gifted him before Noah was born. "There's a made-up bottle and a snack in there for now, and some leftover diapers. Dad'll drop off some extra food and diapers and things for later on his way to work."

 

"I'm sure it would've been easier if I just watched him at your place," Mrs McCall says.

 

"You're already doing this for me for free, I didn't wanna put you out even more," Stiles says. Mrs McCall shrugs.

 

"You gonna hang around here a bit before the dance?" Scott asks.

 

"Sorry, I'm getting ready at home with Derek," Stiles says. Scott kind of makes a face like he wants to roll his eyes but is stopping himself. Stiles ignores it. Mrs McCall hands Noah over for one last hug and kiss goodbye, and then Stiles is out the door and back in the Jeep.

 

***

 

"Do we get dressed and then go eat?" Stiles asks Derek. "Or go eat and then come back and get dressed?" He's studying his bowtie, and regretting that he didn't get a Velcro one. He's about five seconds away from searching for a YouTube tutorial on how to tie one.

 

"Usually you'd get dressed and go eat," Derek says. "And then the dance, make a whole night of it."

 

"Is that a prom thing?" Stiles asks. "I think I've seen that happen in prom movies." Derek shrugs.

 

"I've never been to a prom," he says. Stiles very carefully doesn't think too deeply about that. Though Derek winces like he's just realized what that sounded like.

 

***

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Dinner first then dance?

 

From: Allison Argent

Yes, easier to keep on track of time that way

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

Already started doing my hair so might as well get ready first

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Fair enough

 

***

 

From: Mama McCall

[attachment: image]

 

From: Mama McCall

Been a long time since I had a baby in the house, but the mess is still the same

 

Stiles forwards the picture - Noah sitting in the table highchair with some sort of puréed food smeared all over himself and the table - to Derek, who grins when he sees it.

 

"So this is why your dad laughed at me when I asked him if he really needed to send Noah's bath stuff over," he says.

 

"You can never underestimate the amount of mess a baby is able to create," Stiles says. "Be glad you haven't witnessed a diaper blow-out yet."

 

"A diaper what?" Derek asks.

 

"Just be glad you don't know," Stiles says.

 

***

 

Jackson is the official driver of the night, and he picks Stiles and Derek up - not in his Porsche, but an equally nice car - about an hour-and-a-half before the formal. Allison is already in the passenger seat when Derek and Stiles get to the car.

 

"Don't you two look nice," she says. She gives them each a once-over and nods, satisfied. Stiles looks down at himself and tugs awkwardly at one of his sleeves. He's wearing the blue khaki pants from that last store at the mall, along with a matching bowtie and a black button-down shirt. He has to admit that he looks nice, though definitely not as good as Derek does in his all-black outfit and bright blue tie. Stiles feels that Derek fills out his clothes better than Stiles does his, but they do match and there's something he really likes about that.

 

Allison's white knee-length sleeveless dress - which is hard to see while she's in the car and wearing a red long-sleeve half-sweater over it, but Stiles had seen it when she bought it - also looks pretty nice, and matches the red tie she's chosen for Jackson. Jackson also looks good in his white suit. Also, to Stiles, Jackson's hair looks pretty much the same as it always does, so he's not entirely sure what Jackson's done to it that he had to start on it almost right after school. He's not sure he wants to know.

 

"Where are we eating?" Stiles asks. Derek holds the back door open and ushers Stiles in first, only sliding himself in once Stiles is settled.

 

"Dairy Queen," Allison says. "I want ice cream too."

 

"Yes," Stiles says. "Brilliant idea."

 

"Yeah, until you drop it on yourself," Jackson snorts, driving off.

 

"I am not gonna drop it on myself!" Stiles protests.

 

***

 

He drops it on himself.

 

***

 

"Stop messing with it. No one will notice, it's a black shirt," Derek says. He takes Stiles' wrist and gently pulls his hand away, forcing Stiles to stop scrubbing at the bottom of his shirt where he'd dropped some soft-serve earlier. They're in the parking lot at the school, standing around Jackson's car. It's dark out now, the only light coming from street lamps and from the outside door of the gym, where Stiles can also hear music coming from.

 

"Is ice cream the kind of thing that dries white on black?" Stiles asks. "I don't want to look like I have a giant come stain on my shirt, Derek!" Allison and Jackson burst out laughing. Derek's lips twitch.

 

"You wiped it off right after it happened, Stiles," he says. "It'll be fine." He doesn't let go of Stiles' wrist. Actually, Derek's hand has slipped down a bit and his grip is loosely wrapped around Stiles' fingers. Stiles isn't sure what to do with that.

 

The ringing of Stiles' phone interrupts the moment, and he pulls away from Derek's hand to answer it. The caller ID says it's Mrs McCall. Stiles tries not to panic too much as he answers.

 

"Hello?" he asks.

 

"Don't worry," Mrs McCall says. "Everything's fine. I think Noah's just missing you since you're not here to put him to bed." Stiles can hear Noah crying and fussing in the background, and his immediate instinct is to go over to put Noah to bed and then come back to the dance. But he knows that Noah is in good hands with Mrs McCall and that he won't suffer without Stiles there for one night.

 

"Can you put him on?" Stiles asks.

 

"I'll put you on speaker," Mrs McCall says. "Okay, go ahead."

 

"Hi, Tiny Pants," Stiles says. He starts rambling into the phone, turning to face away from anyone walking through the parking lot. Noah stops eventually stops crying and instead starts making grumpy sounds that Stiles knows means that he's tired but not distressed. Finally, Mrs McCall comes back on the line.

 

"He's just this close to passing right out," she says. "Good job."

 

"Thanks," Stiles says. "It's a gift."

 

"I don't know if I've ever told you this yet, but I'm really proud of how you are with him, and I know your father is too," Mrs McCall says. Stiles feels his eyes prick and his face heat. "Not all teenage parents handle themselves like you do, and Noah is lucky to have you."

 

"Thanks," Stiles squeaks out, throat tight. A warm hand drops on his shoulder, and Stiles looks over to see Derek smiling at him. His face heats up even more. "I'll try not to be too late getting back."

 

"Go and have fun," Mrs McCall says. "I think you've earned it."

 

"Thanks," Stiles says. "And thanks again for babysitting."

 

"It's really no problem, Stiles," Mrs McCall says. "Go enjoy your dance."

 

"I will," Stiles says. He ends the call and turns around to find that Jackson and Allison have disappeared. "Oh, that went on for longer than I thought it did. Sorry about that."

 

"No problem," Derek says. "Some of Jackson's friends from the lacrosse team came by and Allison and Jackson went ahead with them. Also I smelled Scott coming and figured it would be easier to keep him and Allison apart in a crowded gym instead of out here in the parking lot, so I told them we'd meet them inside."

 

"Good thinking," Stiles says.

 

"Also I saw Lydia pass by, so she's here," Derek says.

 

"I think I can deal with that," Stiles says. "We're probably just gonna ignore each other the whole time anyway. And if Jackson's with Allison and his friends he should be fine too."

 

"You ready to go in?" Derek asks.

 

"Absolutely," Stiles says. "Though I should probably warn you that if you dance anywhere around me I will probably embarrass you with my moves."

 

"That's fine," Derek says with a shrug. Stiles grins and, grabbing Derek by the arm, leads the way into the gym.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles barely even recognizes the gym when he walks in.

 

"Woah," he says, stopping in his tracks just to look around. The gym doesn't even look like a normal school gym. It actually looks nice. All the indoor bleachers and sports equipment are nowhere to be seen, and the only lighting is provided by strings of fairy lights stretched between the walls. The walls themselves are covered in some kind of dark material with strings of tinier fairy lights on them, giving off a decent effect of a starry night sky.

 

"This looks nice," Derek says. He wrinkles his nose. "Also, I can tell from here that the punch is spiked."

 

"Of course," Stiles says, dragging Derek further into the room by his sleeve. "Isn't that how it always is?" He looks around for Jackson and Allison, though it's a bit hard to distinguish people in the large crowd with the lighting so low.

 

"Stilinski!" Stiles jumps a bit as Finstock suddenly appears out of nowhere. Finstock looks about as insane as he ever does, only this time in formal-wear. His bowtie looks even sadder than Stiles', which is saying something.

 

"Hey, Coach," Stiles says, backing up into Derek. "What are you doing here?"

 

"I drew the short straw and got roped into chaperoning you hooligans," Finstock says. "Anyway, have you seen McCall anywhere?"

 

"No," Stiles says. He looks over at Derek, who shakes his head.

 

"Didn't he come with you?" Finstock asks.

 

"No, he came by himself as far as I know," Stiles says.

 

"And you didn't sneak him in?" Finstock asks.

 

"Why would I have to sneak him in?" Stiles asks, wondering if Finstock has gotten into the punch. "The dance is open to all students."

 

"Not him or anyone else whose grades are suffering," Finstock says. Then his eyes widen even further, somehow, as he points viciously somewhere over Stiles' shoulder. "GREENBERG!" And then he marches purposefully away. Stiles and Derek watch him go with wide eyes.

 

"I'm not sure what just happened here," Stiles says.

 

"I think it might be better if we don't ask," Derek says.

 

"Agreed," Stiles says.

 

***

 

With Derek's senses it doesn't end up taking too long to track down Jackson and Allison in the crowd.

 

They find them at the far wall hanging out with some of the lacrosse players and a stray member of, Stiles is pretty sure, the marching band.

 

"There you guys are!" Allison exclaims when she spots them, waving them over. "How's Noah?"

 

"He's good," Stiles says. "Basically talked him to sleep."

 

"Surprised you made it out tonight, Stilinski," one of the lacrosse players - Jones? James? - says, gesturing at Stiles with a cup of punch. "Didn't think you were, like, allowed out now that you have a baby, or whatever."

 

"I got a babysitter," Stiles says. "That's a thing. That parents do." Jones/James snorts and takes a sip of punch.

 

"Who's this guy supposed to be?" another player, Hilroy, asks, pointing at Derek.

 

"Derek," Stiles says. "My boyfriend." Derek nods at the assembled players, but doesn't say anything. Doesn't even smile, though at least he's not doing the murder brows.

 

"You mean he actually exists?" Jones/James asks, looking mildly impressed. "I thought that was a fake rumour to get back at Whittemore's girlfriend."

 

"Ex-girlfriend," Jackson says, giving the guy a side-eye.

 

"Whatever, man," Jones/James says. "It's not like you won't get back with her eventually. You always do."

 

"I mean, dude, you took her back even after she fucked Stilinski," Hilroy says, leaning into Jackson. Jackson scowls at him and steps away. Hilroy has to catch himself against the wall to keep from falling over. The marching band kid looks at them all with wide eyes, clutching an empty cup in his hands.

 

"Well, Stilinski's clearly moved on," Jackson says, gesturing at Derek. "It's about time I did the same."

 

"Gonna get you an older man too?" Jones/James says.

 

"Is he, like, your sugar daddy or something?" Hilroy asks Stiles, smirking. Derek glares at Hilroy, Stiles rolls his entire head.

 

"No," he says.

 

"If you say so," Jones/James says. "I need to get a refill."

 

"You know that's spiked, right?" Stiles asks.

 

"'Course," Jones/James says with a sly grin. He tips the cup in Stiles' direction and then saunters off towards the refreshment table. Stiles makes a face at his retreating back.

 

"So have either of you seen McCall yet?" Jackson asks, turning to Stiles and Derek. "Coach is looking for him."

 

"Oh, we know," Stiles says. "Coach accosted us on our way in. Didn't know Scott isn't allowed to be here." Jackson shrugs. Allison looks around at the students nearby, as if Scott is hidden among them, waiting for the perfect moment to jump out and reveal himself.

 

***

 

To: Mama McCall

Proof of life picture?

 

From: Mama McCall

[attachment: photo]

 

From: Mama McCall

He's sleeping and perfectly fine

 

From: Mama McCall

Go have fun

 

***

 

From: Daddio

How's things so far?

 

To: Daddio

So far people have asked me if Derek was taking advantage of me and if I needed help, or my sugar daddy

 

From: Daddio

For the love of god, please do not say anything that'll get me worried phone calls

 

To: Daddio

Who? Me?

 

From: Daddio

[eye-roll emoji]

 

***

 

Predictably, Scott finally shows himself when Allison joins the throng of dancing students in the middle of the gym. Jackson and Derek find a table to sit at while Allison drags Stiles out on the dance floor.

 

Stiles' dancing is just as awkward as he'd warned Derek about earlier, but Allison isn't slowly inching away from him and pretending not to know him, so he figures he's at least entertaining her. They both dance and bop around for a song or two, and then suddenly Allison is whirling around in shock and freezing. It catches Stiles' attention and he also stops dancing and looks past Allison to see Scott standing there, looking sheepish yet determined.

 

"Hi," he says. Stiles finds it hard to hear him over the music. He hears Allison say something but can't make out the words. Scott grimaces briefly but quickly covers it up with a smile. Stiles kind of wants to jump in and help, but he's pretty sure that Allison can hold her own here. Stiles is pretty useless here, but he doesn't want to leave Allison on her own, just in case. He turns back to face the table Jackson and Derek are sitting at and gives an exaggerated shrug. Derek returns the shrug, Jackson looks like he rolls his eyes and he starts getting up from the table.

 

Stiles sincerely hopes that Jackson and Scott aren't going to cause a scene in the middle of the dance. He turns back in time to see Scott try to take one of Allison's hands, only for Allison to raise both her hands and take a step back.

 

"Leave me alone!" she exclaims. And Stiles has no problem hearing that. Neither do several other nearby students, who are only now seeming to notice that there's a potential problem starting up.

 

"Allison, please!" Scott says, reaching for her again. Then Jackson steps smoothly between the two of them, which Scott reacts to by briefly flashing his eyes. Stiles wants to face-palm.

 

"Cut it out, McCall," Jackson says. And then Allison is pulling Stiles back to Derek at the table. Derek is sitting on the edge of his chair, prepared to pop up and run over at the slightest sign of a blow up.

 

"God," Allison huffs with a sigh as she drops into Jackson's vacated chair. "He just doesn't know when to give up!"

 

"He's always been a bit stubborn like that," Stiles says. He takes the empty chair beside Derek's and scoots as close as he can to him without it looking too weird. "Can you hear what they're saying?"

 

"Yeah," Derek says. "Scott's arguing that he's a better match for Allison than Jackson is, and Jackson is just winding him up."

 

"Because Allison doesn't get a say in who's better for her, apparently," Allison snarks. She props her elbow on the table and rests her chin in her palm. "I can't believe I used to think this kind of thing was romantic when I saw it in movies and TV shows. But it's just really annoying."

 

"I have a sneaking suspicion that media has been lying to us for years," Stiles tells her.

 

"You mean high schoolers don't usually all look like ridiculously pretty 20-something college students in real life?" Allison asks sarcastically.

 

"You think Derek would be getting so many double-takes if they did?" Stiles asks. They lapse into silence as they watch Jackson and Scott continue to bicker among the dancers. Eventually, Finstock appears and starts yelling and gesturing wildly at Scott. The other dancers quickly start moving away and Jackson returns to the table.

 

"You think he'll actually get kicked out?" Stiles asks.

 

"He'll probably just sneak back in," Jackson says. They watch Finstock lead Scott to the exit, waving his hands madly the whole time.

 

***

 

They've been at the dance for an hour before Stiles finally works up the courage to decide to ask Derek to dance on the next slow song. Jackson has long left the table to go hang out with his lacrosse buddies, though he and Allison do dance a few times. Allison actually ends up finding another dance partner for a bit, one of the newer players on the lacrosse team, Lahey. Stiles and Derek stay at their table.

 

Stiles is sure he's nervous-sweating through his nice shirt and his heart is going a mile a minute, but Derek is polite enough to not call him out on it. Or it's possible that Derek is just keeping his focus on tracking Scott's movements. Predictably, he'd snuck back in at some point after Finstock escorted him out, though he's now doing a better job of keeping himself out of sight.

 

Although most of that could be put down to the chaperones finally cottoning on to the spiked punch and the following to-do of them replacing the punch and going around to try to find the person responsible. No one's fessed up to it so far, but Stiles did see his English teacher uncover someone with a series of mini liquor bottles strapped up and down his legs. He has to admit, it's a decent set-up and he's suitably impressed.

 

Finally, though, the DJ announces that the next couple of songs will be of the slower, couple-y variety, and Stiles promptly loses his courage for the entirety of the first one.

 

In the short lull between the first and second songs, Stiles screws up his courage and taps Derek on the shoulder. Derek half turns around in his seat as the opening bars of the next song start and Stiles loses his breath. It's like a movie moment, Derek is backlit by strings of lights and there's a soft smile playing around his mouth. The strings of lights in front of him reflect in his eyes and make them look like they're sparkling.

 

Stiles has known since the first time he saw him that Derek is ridiculously good-looking, and their time together has only reinforced that opinion, what with his entire face and all. But it's somehow only now that Stiles realizes that Derek is good looking and Stiles is attracted to him. He's beautiful in this lighting; and everywhere else too, if Stiles is being honest.

 

"Did you want something?" Derek asks, arching an eyebrow. And Stiles realizes that he's been staring at Derek for a bit longer than one would consider normal.

 

"Uh," Stiles clears his throat. "You wanna go dance? Now? With me?" Derek looks stunned by the question, and for one horrible second Stiles thinks he's about to get turned down. But then Derek smiles, bunny teeth on full display, and nods.

 

"Yeah," he says.

 

"Yeah?" Stiles asks. Derek gets up from his chair and holds a hand out to Stiles. Stiles grabs it and lets himself be led onto the dance floor.

 

***

 

Stiles finds it kind of odd that he's only about an inch or so shorter than Derek. He's not sure if it's because Derek is older or just because he's broader (dem muscles), but Stiles has always had the sense that Derek's a lot taller than he actually is. And then they arrange themselves on the dance floor with their arms around each other and Stiles realizes that he can basically look Derek straight in the eye this way.

 

He sincerely hopes that the low lighting means that Derek can't seem him blushing.

 

It's a bit awkward trying to figure out who puts their hands where - apparently neither of them have done this before - but eventually they sort themselves out with Stiles' hands on Derek's shoulders and Derek's hands on Stiles' waist. It works for them.

 

Stiles spots Allison dancing with Lahey over Derek's shoulder, and Allison flashes him a thumbs up. This gets Lahey's attention too, and he turns his head and nods at Stiles. Stiles nods back at them and then focuses again on Derek, who's looking directly at him.

 

"So… this is awkward," Stiles says. "Not, uh, because we're awkward or anything. Just that I've never, like, done this sort of thing before."

 

"Me neither," Derek says. "But it's nice."

 

"Yeah," Stiles agrees, nodding frantically.

 

They sway along to the music for a bit, and then someone bumps into Derek from behind, pushing him closer to Stiles. Stiles ends up basically hugged to Derek's chest, which certainly isn't a bad place to be. Derek seems to agree with him because he doesn't try to put any more space between them.

 

Stiles isn't sure what's happening right now. It's definitely nice, whatever it is, but he doesn't know what's going on. Does this mean that he like likes Derek? Or that Derek like likes him back? Or is Derek just being polite? Or friendly?

 

He knows now that someone doing couple-y activities with him doesn't automatically mean that that person is interested in him that way (he can thank Lydia for that painful lesson), but he's not sure how to go about determining potential interest.

 

Does he just ask?

 

Honestly he has no idea.

 

What he does instead is put his head on Derek's shoulder and let Derek rock him in time with the music. He definitely doesn't imagine Derek tilting his own head to touch Stiles', or the tightening of Derek's arms around Stiles' waist.

 

Stiles smiles to himself. Maybe this is something he can build on.

 

***

 

Derek doesn't make any moves to separate from Stiles when the current song ends and the next one starts. And Stiles doesn't either. So they're still holding each other close with Stiles' head on Derek's shoulder turned to face outward when Stiles notices Jackson's white suit leaving the gym. Jackson is one of three people at the dance who are all in white (and the other two are Boyd, who is Black; and the yearbook photographer Matt, who has dark hair) so he's easy to spot.

 

He hopes Jackson isn't leaving the area entirely because he's their ride home. Then he realizes that Jackson is following someone out. And that someone looks a lot like Peter Hale.

 

Stiles's head shoots up from Derek's shoulder, almost catching Derek in the nose.

 

"Stiles, what--"

 

Then Stiles' phone vibrates in his pocket and he pulls it out to find a text from his father.

 

From: Daddio

We have a major problem

 

"Shit," Stiles says. Derek reads the text over his shoulder and Stiles feels him take in a sharp breath.

 

Another text comes in.

 

From: Daddio

Kate Argent's escaped

 

Stiles entire body flushes cold and he can feel Derek stiffen behind him, his hands tightening on Stiles' waist.

 

From: Daddio

We're not sure how or when, but we think she had inside help

 

From: Daddio

I want you all to stay alert and stay together until I get there

 

From: Daddio

Do NOT leave or go near any other officer other than me, I'm getting in my car now

 

***

***

Chapter Text

"Fuck," Stiles says. He looks towards the gym exit, but Jackson and maybe-Peter are gone. "Shit."

 

"Where's Allison and Jackson?" Derek asks, already scanning the crowd.

 

"I just saw Jackson leave, like, just now," Stiles says. "I think… someone who looks like Peter was with him."

 

"Come on," Derek says, grabbing Stiles' free hand. "We need to find Allison." Stiles types a text to Mrs McCall one-handed, and his hand is shaking.

 

To: Mama McCall

Something might be happening, stay away from doors and windows and don't let anyone in the house

 

They find Scott first; he's huddling behind a pillar near the refreshment table.

 

"We need to go," Derek tells him, no-nonsense.

 

"Why?" Scott asks, glaring suspiciously at Derek.

 

"Kate escaped," Stiles says. "We don't know where she's going but she might be coming after us. Also I think Peter has Jackson."

 

"Where's Allison?" Scott asks.

 

"Guys, we have to go!" Allison says, jogging up to them and waving her phone. "My dad just texted me!" Lahey is following her, looking confused.

 

"So did mine," Stiles says. "And I'm pretty sure I just saw Jackson leave with Peter."

 

"Dammit!" Allison exclaims, and then takes off running for the exit. Scott follows her. Lahey makes to follow them, but Derek's hand on his chest stops him.

 

"This is a private thing," he says. "You have to stay here."

 

"But-" Lahey protests.

 

"She'll call you," Stiles says. And he grabs Derek's hand and chases after Allison and Scott.

 

***

 

It's kind of surreal moving from the gym into the parking lot, to go from loud music and a lot of bodies to nighttime quiet and cars. It's especially jarring because everything still looks normal, but Stiles knows that there's danger out there and it's coming for him and his friends.

 

"Where'd they go?" Stiles asks, head whipping back and forth.

 

"This way," Derek says, pointing.

 

"Stiles!" Both Stiles and Derek turn back around to the gym to find Lydia coming towards them.

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"Where's Jackson?" Lydia asks him. The look on her face says she not here to mess around, but Stiles doesn't have time for whatever it is she's up to now.

 

"I dunno, Lydia," Stiles says. "But I'm sure he's busy."

 

"We have to go," Derek says firmly. He tugs on Stiles' hand and starts drawing him away.

 

"Stiles!" Lydia exclaims.

 

"Busy!" Stiles calls back over his shoulder as he starts running to keep up with Derek. He hears the sound of Lydia's shoes on the pavement as she starts running after them, then the sound stops with muffled swearing. Stiles looks over his shoulder briefly to see Lydia taking off one of her shoes and inspecting it. Then Derek pulls him between two parked cars and Stiles loses sight of her.

 

***

 

They find Allison and Scott on the edge of the lacrosse field, Jackson and Peter - and it is Peter - are standing in the center of the field. Jackson looks over when Stiles and Derek arrive on the scene, but doesn't do anything else.

 

The space surrounding the field is in darkness, but the field itself it lit up by the bright lights used for night games. Stiles isn't entirely sure why, but he wouldn't be surprised to find out that Peter somehow engineered it to be unnecessarily dramatic.

 

"Peter!" Derek shouts. Peter and Jackson both turn to look at him. Peter is smirking, Jackson is looking spooked.

 

"Ah," Peter says. "Everyone is finally here. Now we can get things started."

 

"What does that mean?" Derek asks. He edges himself in front of Stiles, Scott, and Allison. Peter chuckles, sounding very sinister.

 

"This, of course," he says. And before anyone has a chance to react, Peter grabs one of Jackson's arms, drags it to his face, and bites down into it. Jackson yells and tries to tug his arm back, but Peter isn't letting go. Peter's eyes flash bright red, and he looks triumphant as he stares at Derek.

 

Derek roars and rushes at Peter. Jackson pulls at his arm again and this time Peter lets him go. Jackson stumbles back. His hand is covering his arm but Stiles can still see the bright red blood spreading over Jackson's white sleeve.

 

"Ohhhh fuck," Stiles says. He and Allison run over to Jackson, Scott following a step behind them. Derek leaps to tackle Peter, but Peter easily bats him away. Derek hits the ground, rolls over, and lunges at Peter. This time he manages to land a hit and they both go down.

 

"Let me see!" Allison exclaims. Stiles turns to see her produce a knife from some sort of thigh holster (what) and start cutting the sleeve of Jackson's suit jacket. Jackson looks like he doesn't know whether he should let her be or push her away.

 

Derek roars and Stiles whirls around to find him being pinned to the grass by Peter, who is half-shifted and terrifying-looking.

 

"You do realize that we're actually on the same side here," Peter says, voice not entirely human. Derek snarls and jerks away from him, and Peter lets him go. Derek puts himself between Peter and the others, crouched in a fighting stance.

 

"Stiles, come look at this," Allison says. Stiles rushes over to her and drops to his knees next to her and Jackson. Just in time to see the (surprisingly clean looking) bite mark on his forearm heal and disappear, leaving bloody but smooth unbroken skin in its wake.

 

"The hell…" Stiles breathes.

 

"Mine didn't go away that fast," Scott says, leaning over Allison's crouched form for a better look.

 

"Well no," Peter says, back to his human form. "You were completely human to start with."

 

"What?" Scott asks.

 

"What!?" Jackson exclaims, staring at Peter with wide eyes. Wide eyes that flash bright blue for a second, causing Stiles, Allison, and Scott to start in surprise.

 

"A human with werewolf heritage will turn faster after receiving the bite of an alpha," Peter says. "It does make sense if you think about it."

 

"I don't have werewolf heritage!" Jackson exclaims.

 

"Oh, yes you do," Peter says.

 

And that's when the sheriff shows up.

 

***

 

"I thought I told you all to stay in the gym," the sheriff says, striding up seemingly out of nowhere. "And what the hell is Peter doing here?"

 

"Dad!" Stiles exclaims.

 

"Sheriff," Peter says, with a jaunty wave. The sheriff scowls at him, Peter's only reaction is an answering grin.

 

"Is Kate here?" Allison asks.

 

"Peter bit me!" Jackson exclaims.

 

"What do we do now?" Stiles asks.

 

"Whoa!" the sheriff says, holding his hands up. "One at a time! First of all, what happened to Derek? Why is half his shirt missing?" Derek's back on his feet and his shirt is certainly ruined. It's torn at his left shoulder and the left sleeve is completely gone. Also the fabric across his chest is shredded and his tie has disappeared. At least he doesn't seem to be bleeding out.

 

"Peter happened," Derek says, pointing. Peter just shrugs. Stiles isn't really sure what to do with the fact that Peter is just standing there. He's not trying to attack them, or run away, and Stiles is confused.

 

"Am I a werewolf now?" Jackson asks, gaze whipping from person to person in search of answers. The sheriff crosses his arms and turns a stern look on Peter.

 

"He's turning," Peter says. "Shouldn't take too much longer."

 

"And why is he turning?" the sheriff asks. "Why did you bite him?" All levity disappears from Peter's face and demeanor, and he stares down the sheriff, Jackson, and everyone else in turn.

 

"Because to end this thing with the Argents once and for all, Sheriff, I need a pack to stand behind me," Peter says. "I need betas to lend me their power."

 

"There're a lot of flaws in that thinking, Peter," the sheriff says.

 

"So?" Peter asks. "I have to work with what I have, and three reluctant betas are better than none."

 

"Three?" the sheriff asks. "Who else did you bite?"

 

"Just Scott and Jackson," Peter says. "But as my nephew, Derek still technically counts as my beta as long as he hasn't submitted to another alpha. Which I know he hasn't because I'm the only alpha in the area."

 

"Just because you bit me doesn't mean I'm going to help you," Jackson says. His lips pull back in a snarl and his canine teeth are suspiciously pointy; clearly his transformation is moving right along. His eyes flash again, bright blue, and Derek sucks in a gasp loud enough that even Stiles hears it. He looks over at Derek, and the expression on Derek's face is one of disbelief.

 

"What?" Stiles asks. "What's happening?"

 

"Blue eyes are exclusive to direct descendants of the Hale family," Derek says. "But…" He turns to Peter. "Jackson's last name is Whittemore. If he was a close enough relation to have the Hale eyes, even if he didn't have the name, I'd know." Now everyone is staring at either Jackson or Peter.

 

"Jackson's adopted," Stiles says. And now Derek's staring at Stiles. "But I thought his biological parents died in a car crash."

 

"How do you know that?" the sheriff asks. "Or do I want to know?" Jackson is looking very pale under the bright lights, and staring at Peter like he's grown two heads.

 

"His biological mother died in a car crash," Peter says. "Along with her new boyfriend, who was not her baby's biological father."

 

"Because you're his biological father, aren't you?" Stiles asks, his mind whirling. Jackson makes a noise that Stiles finds hard to interpret. Peter smirks, but Stiles can see an edge of sadness in it.

 

"How long have you known?" the sheriff asks.

 

"I've always known," Peter says. "But not all teenagers have parents as understanding and supportive as you, Sheriff. Some of us are even unlucky enough to have parents that actively work against them." There's a whole story there, Stiles knows, and he'll probably never hear it. He's not sure he wants to hear it, pretty sure that it resembles the nightmares he used to have where he worried that his dad would change his mind about helping him and that Noah would be placed for adoption after all. It's something he doesn't even like to think about, even though that danger has more or less passed.

 

"But…" Derek says, gaze darting between Peter and Jackson. "I don't understand."

 

"You were only about five at the time," Peter says. "It wasn't hard to keep it from you. But you did ask me once, when you were a bit older, why me and your grandparents never really got along. This is why."

 

Derek turns to Jackson. "Your birthday's in June, isn't it?"

 

Jackson nods.

 

"This explains so much," Derek says.

 

"Okay, okay," the sheriff says. "As… mind-blowing as this all is, I'm sure we can come back to this after we've dealt with the current problem. Namely that Kate Argent is out there on the warpath."

 

"Right!" Peter says heartily, clapping his hands together. "The final name on my hit list, as it were."

 

"Yeah, about that," the sheriff says. "The plan here isn't to just let you have free reign and kill her. The plan is for me to re-arrest her, find her inside man in the department, and bury her under so many charges that she'll rot the rest of her life in prison." Stiles perks up at this.

 

"Can you get her for the fire?" Stiles asks.

 

"We have enough to try," the sheriff says. "So I can't let you kill her, Peter. I can't condone vigilante justice. Let the law deal with her and you can put this whole thing to rest. Chris Argent has tracked her to the old house, where she's stashed her weapons hoard. She can be taken in on weapons charges to start with, and we'll add the others on later. You just have to let me do my job."

 

"Beautiful sentiment, Sheriff, but unfortunately that won't be enough for me," Peter says. "She's taken almost my entire family from me, and I'm going to make sure she pays for it."

 

"I can't let you do that, Peter," the sheriff says.

 

"And you can't stop me either," Peter says. And with that, too quick for anyone to react to, Peter shifts and runs off into the darkness and out of sight. This is the first time that Stiles has seen his alpha form, and it's downright terrifying. Sometimes it's easy to forget that Peter and Derek, and now Scott and Jackson, aren't actually human.

 

They all stare into the darkness for a few beats as the magnitude of what's happened,  and what's about to happen settles over them.

 

"Oh, fuck," the sheriff says.

 

***

 

To: Mama McCall

Totally might be back later than planned SORRY I SWEAR ILL EXPLAIN LATER!!

 

***

***

Chapter Text

"Alright, you all get somewhere safe, I'm going after Peter," the sheriff says. He puts his phone to his ear and starts barking warnings to the person - most likely Chris Argent - on the other end of the call. "I mean it!" he throws back over his shoulder at the group still assembled on the field as he jogs back towards the parking lot.

 

Stiles watches him go until he's out of sight before turning back to the others. "We're totally not staying here."

 

"Duh," Allison says. She's at Jackson's side and is trying to pull him to his feet, but Jackson looks too dazed to cooperate. Stiles can't really blame him, he's had a lot of things dropped on him tonight. And on top of that he's suddenly no longer human. He imagines that it's a lot to process.

 

"Is this why my dad was so weird about Peter coming around the house?" Jackson asks no one in particular. "Because he knew the truth?"

 

"Let's plan on surviving tonight and then you can ask him," Allison says.

 

"Yes," Stiles says. "Let's do that. What's our next move?" He turns to Derek, who's staring off into the dark where Peter had disappeared. "Derek?"

 

"Hmm?" Derek asks, turning back to Stiles.

 

"You okay?" Stiles asks.

 

"Maybe ask me again when this is all over," Derek says. He scrubs a hand over his face and lets the hand drop to his chest. "I need a new shirt."

 

"We can worry about that later," Stiles says. "Let's go. Scott, are you coming with us? Pretty sure there's room for you in Jackson's car."

 

"Huh?" Scott asks. "Yeah, sure."

 

"Awesome," Stiles says. "Allison, you wanna drive, or should I?"

 

"I'll do it," Allison says.

 

"Hey! It's my dad's car!" Jackson protests.

 

"And you're freaked out and turning into a werewolf," Allison says. "I'm driving." She starts pushing Jackson in the direction of the parking lot. "We need to get there before Peter does."

 

"We are definitely not going to make it there before Peter," Stiles says. Allison huffs, but doesn't contradict him. "Would it matter though? What's the endgame here? To keep him from killing Kate? Because I gotta be honest here and say that's not high on my list of priorities."

 

"I know she's done awful things," Allison says, eyes brimming with emotion when she turns back to Stiles. "But she's still my aunt. I have to try something."

 

"If you say so," Stiles says. "Just so we're clear on the score here."

 

"You're on Peter's side!?" Scott yelps, grabbing Stiles by the arm and stopping him in his tracks.

 

"I'm on Derek's side," Stiles says, pulling his arm from Scott's grip. "Coincidentally, Kate just happens to be on the opposite side of both of them."

 

***

 

They reach the edge of the parking lot and Derek scans the area before he allows anyone to run forward.

 

"There's people out there," he says.

 

"Well, yeah," Stiles says. "High school dance, there's bound to be kids around. Probably a couple of someones getting drunk out here."

 

"Yeah, but..." Derek says, turning his head back and forth as he surveys the place.

 

"I can tell that there's definitely some sex happening in one of these cars right now," Jackson says, wincing. "God, it's like I can hear everything. Especially the things I don't want to hear."

 

"You get used to it," Scott says. They start heading for Jackson's car, but Stiles notices that Derek keeps turning his head to look at something at the other end of the parking lot, nearer to the road.

 

"Derek?" Stiles asks. "What are you doing?"

 

"There's a weird scent somewhere over there," Derek says. Then he stops walking. "I don't…"

 

"We don't really have time for this," Allison says.

 

"Jackson!" Lydia suddenly appears from behind a car, barefoot, and starts walking towards them.

 

"We really don't have time for this," Allison says. "Jackson, give me the keys." Jackson looks like he's about to protest, but one look from Allison has him tossing the keys over. Allison uses them to unlock the car and they all pile in. Allison behind the wheel, Derek in the passenger seat, and Jackson, Stiles, and Scott in the back seat. They barely have time to settle in properly before Allison starts the car and peels out of the parking space, Lydia growing smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror.

 

***

 

To: Daddio

You see Peter yet?

 

From: Daddio

No sign of him, but Chris says he's definitely out here

 

To: Daddio

What about Kate?

 

From: Daddio

Holed up in the Hale house with all her weapons

 

From: Daddio

Chris is trying to talk her down right now

 

To: Daddio

Think that'll work?

 

From: Daddio

No, but it might give us some time to get some backup out here

 

***

 

"Does anyone else find it a bit strange that Kate is apparently working alone on this?" Stiles asks.

 

They've arrived at one of the entrances to the preserve, one that Derek says has a bit of a shortcut to the Hale house. They're starting the walk into the woods, using their phone flashlights and the faint moonlight to help light their way.

 

"Not really," Allison says. "According to my dad, Kate's mostly a loner. She's always gone off on her own a lot."

 

"Ah," Stiles says. He doesn't believe that for a second, given that she had a handful of accomplices for the Hale fire. Probably more accurate is that she didn't go off with many hunters, people who she couldn't risk not sharing her views on which supernatural creatures deserved to live or die. Or people who might have qualms about wiping out entire families who'd shown no sign of being active dangers to humans (and Stiles very much doubts that the Hales had been her first - or last - mass-murder).

 

They all fall silent as they make their way through the dark woods. Stiles has absolutely no idea where he is in the preserve, just clings to Derek's hand and follows his lead, trusting that he'll get them all to where they need to go.

 

In the end, it doesn't really take them that long to get to the clearing.

 

The remains of the Hale house look even creepier in the dark; like a haunted house out of a horror movie. It definitely looks like a house that a lot of people were murdered in, but there's nothing entertaining about this sort of haunting atmosphere. Stiles feels sick just looking at it, now that he knows the true scope of the horror of what happened here. He can't even imagine what it must be like for Derek, who was even living in the place until recently.

 

"What the hell are you all doing here!?" Stiles nearly screams at the harsh whisper that comes out of the nearby darkness. He whirls around to face the source of the noise, trips over his own feet, and falls. The only thing keeping him from completely dropping to the ground is Derek, who uses their still connected hands to pull him back upright before he can hit the ground.

 

"Holy hell," Stiles breathes.

 

"I told you all to go somewhere safe!" the sheriff, because of course it's the sheriff, continues. "This is not somewhere safe, Stiles!"

 

"Well I wasn't just gonna stay behind and let you deal with this alone!" Stiles says.

 

"I'm not here alone," the sheriff says. "And besides, this kind of thing is literally my job."

 

"Actually, it's my job." And then Chris Argent suddenly materializes out of the darkness. He looks just as serious and vaguely threatening as always. And then Allison turns her phone light on him and reveals the tactical gear and weaponry he has on him and Stiles has to amend his 'vaguely threatening' to 'threatening as hell'.

 

"What's with all the guns?" Allison asks. "Aren't you here to talk down Kate?"

 

"He's planning to take down Peter too," Jackson says, eyes wide.

 

"He's out of control and dangerous," Chris says. "He's the type of werewolf that needs to be put down."

 

"He's not out of control, though," Stiles says. "Outside of biting Scott and killing the janitor, I think he's been pretty consistent in what he's doing here."

 

"Don't defend him, Stiles," Chris says.

 

"I'm not," Stiles says. "I'm just pointing out that he's not just some mindless killing machine. I think he's just angry. And vengeful. Which makes sense, I would be too if some psychopath killed my entire family for no reason."

 

"Look, it's a little more complicated than--"

 

"Eleven people were in that house, Mr Argent," Stiles says. "Some of them were young children. Some of them were even human." There's a sharp intake of breath somewhere behind him, but Stiles doesn't take his eyes off Chris Argent. "Kate didn't have any reason to go after the Hales. None. And considering what she did to even get access to them in the first place, I think there's a whole lot more wrong with your sister than you're willing to admit."

 

Chris has no chance to respond to any of that before a sudden loud roar rips through the clearing, chilling Stiles to the bone. The roar sounds furious and like it means business.

 

Then the gunfire starts.

 

***

 

Kate's standing on the house's front porch. It's hard to see her with only the moon for lighting, but the muzzle flashes that go off every time she fires a shot are clearly visible. It's hard to tell if she's actually hitting Peter because Stiles can't really see Peter very well in the darkness (only his glowing red eyes are clearly visible), and Peter isn't making any sounds like he's being hit. It's all very confusing and Stiles isn't even sure what he should be doing right now.

 

"Kate!" Chris yells, stepping further into the clearing and waving an arm. "Kate, stop!"

 

"Should we try to take down Peter?" Scott asks. "That might stop Kate."

 

"Taking down Kate will stop Kate," Jackson says.

 

"Did she surround the house with mountain ash?" Stiles asks. "Maybe--"

 

Peter lets out another loud roar, just as terrifying and angry as the first one, and suddenly he's flying through the air and directly at the house. It takes Stiles a second to realize that Peter isn't flying, he's just jumped very far.

 

"Oh god," Allison gasps. The moonlight suddenly gets brighter, like a cloud has just moved out of the way. The clearing gets brighter, and Peter and Kate are now clearly visible on the porch. Peter, looking huge and grotesque in his transformed state, has Kate by the throat with one giant clawed hand (paw?) and her feet are no longer touching the ground. Kate has dropped her guns and is clawing at Peter's hand.

 

Stiles feels frozen in place, afraid to move, afraid to even breathe. One of his hands is gripped so tight to Derek's that his fingers are throbbing. Or that could be because Derek's hand is gripping Stiles' right back.

 

"Admit it." Peter's voice is barely more than a growl. Completely inhuman, but somehow still understandable.

 

The whole situation is now completely out of hand, and Stiles has the sinking feeling that he's going to see a person die tonight. He's not looking forward to it.

 

Kate is making horrible choking sounds. Stiles sees Chris start aiming one of his guns.

 

"ADMIT IT!" Peter roars. The sheriff moves to stand in front of Derek and Stiles, which also puts him in front of Allison, Scott, and Jackson, standing a bit further behind. Stiles misses what happens next, but Peter must have loosened his grip a bit because Kate starts talking.

 

"What?" her voice is raspy. "You want me to tell everyone how I trapped your family in their own home and burned them alive? And how I used your sweet little nephew to help me do it?" Stiles feels Derek's hand tighten even more around his own. He sees Chris stumble in place and his gun lowers a bit. He hears Allison make a choked off sound behind him, thinks he hears Jackson and Scott gasp. Sees the sheriff go rigid.

 

Sees Peter Hale tear out Kate Argent's throat and let her body fall to the half-burned porch.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles doesn’t realize that the shrill noise in his ears is actually Allison screaming until she's running past him towards the house.

 

"Allison!" Chris shouts, and raises his gun again, aiming at Peter. But Peter isn't moving. He's just standing on the porch and staring down at Kate's body.

 

"Dammit," the sheriff says, running a hand through his hair. Jackson suddenly darts past him and catches up to Allison, grabbing her by the arm and stopping her before she can reach Peter and Kate.

 

Peter still isn't reacting to any of them.

 

Stiles wants to say that the whole thing has been rather anti-climactic when he'd been expecting a showdown of epic proportions. Except that there's a newly-dead body cooling in the night air and Peter is still standing there looking like a movie monster on steroids.

 

"What's he doing?" Scott asks, coming up to stand next to Stiles.

 

"I dunno," Stiles says, shaking his head.

 

"Dammit," the sheriff says again. "I need to hurry up and call this in. We need to get a move-on here."

 

"How are you gonna call this in!?" Stiles asks, waving his hands, one of which is still holding Derek's, at the scene on the front porch.

 

"Mountain lion?" The sheriff asks helplessly.

 

"You'll have to let me clean up a bit first," Chris says. He still has his gun aimed at Peter.

 

"Don't bother," the sheriff says. "Depending on what she's got stashed in the house, we can just say she was out here shooting at animals. One of them took offence. Anyone want to volunteer to report shots fired in the preserve? Just to give the police an excuse to be here in the first place?"

 

"I'll do it," Allison says, raising a hand. Both her hand and her voice are shaking. "I can say I came out here to be alone and heard the shots. And even what sounded like an animal attack, if that'll help."

 

"Don't move!" Chris suddenly barks. And everyone's attention turns back to Peter, who seems to be shrinking. He's shifting back to human form, Stiles realizes. Allison and Jackson start backing away, even though they're already both out of his reach.

 

"Relax, Mr Argent," Peter says. "I'm done with your family. For the moment." He looks down at Kate's body, makes some kind of noise, and then turns and hops off the porch.

 

"Excuse me, why are you naked?" Stiles feels compelled to ask, because that seems like the least charged topic he can comment on right now.

 

"Hazards of the full shift," Peter says with a shrug, seeming completely unconcerned with his nudity. Stiles sees Allison clap a hand over her eyes and Jackson turn his head completely away.

 

"Christ sakes," the sheriff mutters. He pulls off his jacket and lobs it at Peter. It doesn't make it anywhere close to him, landing in the grass. "Cover yourself up, there are children here." Peter shrugs and does as he's told. With Chris' gun still trained on him, Peter approaches the jacket and picks it up and wraps it around his waist.

 

"Don't worry about getting that back to me, either," the sheriff says. "I can get a new one." Stiles feels a laugh bubbling up in his throat, but he squashes it down because he's pretty sure that if he starts he won't be able to stop. And he's sure everyone's already freaked out enough as it is.

 

"Nice material," Peter comments idly.

 

"Moving on!" The sheriff declares. "We need to decide what to do with you."

 

"I have an idea," Chris says.

 

"Unfortunately, I don't think your idea aligns with my plans," Peter says.

 

"Ask me if I care, Hale," Chris says. Peter shrugs. And then he turns towards Stiles and starts marching over. Stiles is frozen in place, but then he realizes that Peter isn't even looking at him. He's looking at Derek.

 

"You're going to tell me what she meant," Peter says, eyes starting to glow red. "What did you do?" Stiles scrambles to put himself in front of Derek.

 

"Stiles!" The sheriff exclaims.

 

"He didn't do anything!" Stiles exclaims.

 

"Stiles," Derek says, trying to shove Stiles back behind him. Stiles plants his feet in the grass and Derek can't move him. He pulls a baggie of mountain ash out of his pocket and accidentally rips it. He's still somehow able to wave the bag around enough to get the mountain ash to fall in a circle around him and Derek.

 

Peter practically skids to a stop before he has a chance to hit the barrier. Stiles breathes a sigh of relief. Then he tenses up again as Peter circles them, peering at the ash circle. Did he do it wrong?

 

"Huh," Peter finally says, after he's made a full turn of the circle. "Can't say I was expecting that."

 

"What, you didn't think we'd have mountain ash on us?" Stiles asks.

 

"No, I smelled it on you already," Peter says. "It was your magical ability I wasn't expecting."

 

"My what!?" Stiles yelps.

 

"What!?" The sheriff echoes.

 

"Not important," Peter says.

 

"Uh, I think that's very important!" Stiles says. "You can't just say something like that and then dismiss it!"

 

"And Kate can't just allege that my nephew helped her murder my whole family without expecting me to follow up on it," Peter says, eyes back on Derek. He flashes his eyes again. "So tell me. What. Did. You. Do."

 

"He didn't do anything," Stiles says firmly.

 

"Stiles," Derek says. Stiles turns around to face him, only brave enough to turn his back on Peter because of the barrier. He takes Derek's face in both hands and squeezes a bit.

 

"You didn't do anything," he says firmly. "It was all her."

 

"You can't say I didn't help," Derek whispers.

 

"I can and I will," Stiles says. He turns back to find Peter scrutinizing the both of them. And even standing bare-ass naked in the moonlight with only a sheriff department issue jacket tied around his waist, he still looks incredibly dangerous. It's very much intimidating.

 

"Um..." Stiles says. "Can I also just point out that Kate didn't say that Derek helped her out. She said that she used him to help her out. I feel like that's an important distinction to make."

 

"Oh?" Peter asks.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "I mean, Derek was just a kid at the time and Kate was an adult. A teacher even, a person in a trusted position of authority." Peter's gaze flicks from Stiles to Derek and then back to Stiles. Stiles can't tell what he's thinking. "The type of person who could burn an entire family alive is also the type of person to use such a position of authority for her own benefits."

 

"It wouldn't the first time a teacher took advantage of a student for her own gain," the sheriff says.

 

"Now, wait a minute," Chris interrupts.

 

"Do I have to remind you of that video?" The sheriff asks pointedly. Stiles feels Derek stiffen behind him, and he reaches back to place what he hopes is a comforting hand on Derek's arm. Peter's gaze is flitting around to everyone nearby, and when it finally lands back on Derek, Stiles sees a different gleam in them.

 

"I see," he says flatly. He turns back towards the house. Towards the body on the porch. "Clearly I didn't make her suffer enough."

 

"I'm sorry," Derek rasps.

 

"It wasn't your fault," Peter says.

 

Derek hides his face in Stiles' hair.

 

***

 

Stiles is absolutely exhausted. He trudges along behind Derek in the woods, towards wherever the sheriff had parked his car. Jackson, Allison, and Chris are making their way through the woods to where they'd left Jackson's car. Peter had offered to go with them, but then Chris had immediately vetoed that suggestion. So Peter is walking along with the sheriff. Stiles isn't sure that that's totally safe, but no one knew what else to do with him.

 

The sheriff has one of Chris' guns trained on Peter, so that's something.

 

Scott is also in their little party, sulky that he doesn't get to walk Allison back through the woods. He'd been muttering something about her and Jackson under his breath for a bit until Stiles, thoroughly tired of the whole affair, told him firmly to 'shut the hell up'. Scott has been quiet since then, probably more out of surprise than anything else.

 

They reach the sheriff's car, parked in one of the preserve's official entrances which means there's an actual parking lot and street lamps. Stiles has never been so happy to be able to see clearly, even though the light hurts his eyes a bit after being in the dark woods for so long.

 

The sheriff opens the trunk of his cruiser and pulls out something that he tosses to Peter. It turns out to be clothes.

 

"Put those on," the sheriff says.

 

"You often travel with extra clothes in your car?" Peter asks. "These smell stale."

 

"You aren't the first indecent exposure case I've ever dealt with," the sheriff says. The radio crackles to life in the cruiser and the sheriff sits in the driver's seat to deal with it. Stiles, Derek, and Scott all avert their eyes while Peter dresses himself.

 

"So what happens now?" Stiles asks. "Do you just ride off into the sunset now? Scot free?"

 

"I was thinking of sticking around here," Peter says. "This is still Hale land, after all. And my hometown. Could be a good place to rebuild the pack once the Argents are gone."

 

"Why would the Argents be gone?" Scott asks.

 

"Peter!" The sheriff yells, making everyone but Peter jump. "Why the hell am I getting a report of a body being found in a car in the school parking lot!?"

 

"A body!?" Stiles exclaims. He can't help but think back to them driving away and leaving Lydia by herself in the parking lot. Had something happened to her? But, no, surely not. The gym was right there, full of people. It's not like she was totally alone out there.

 

But still...

 

"Why do you think that it has anything to do with me?" Peter asks.

 

"Because she was your nurse at the hospital," the sheriff grinds out.

 

"Oh, yes," Peter says. "That body in that car. Honestly I'd forgotten about that." Derek opens his mouth to say something, but closes it again with a shake of his head. "I wouldn't worry too much about that, she got what was coming to her."

 

"What did she do?" Stiles asks. "Make up your bed too tight?"

 

"She used a spell to control my movements enough so that I was able to kill my niece for her alpha powers to finally jumpstart my healing," Peter says. "Among other things."

 

Stiles' mouth opens and closes like a landed fish. "Okay, yeah, I guess I'd be pretty upset with her too if she did that to me."

 

"Wait, what?" The sheriff asks.

 

"I can explain it all later," Peter says. "I'm sure I'll have to at some point, what with the Argents still hanging around. All you need to know is that I had my reasons. Reasons of the supernatural variety."

 

"That doesn't help me close this case though," the sheriff says. "Especially now that the police have it."

 

"Why not just blame it on Kate?" Stiles asks. "It's not like she's going to be around to complain about it."

 

"I can't just--" the radio crackles again and the sheriff goes to it. "Shots fired in the preserve. That's my cue. You all better get out of here. And Peter--"

 

They all look around to find that Peter has disappeared.

 

"Should've seen that one coming," the sheriff mutters.

 

***

 

Allison and Jackson drive by to drop Chris off in the parking lot, and to pick up Derek, Stiles, and Scott to drive them home.

 

It's been a long night, and it's not even really that late by some standards.

 

Mama McCall

All the excitement over, will be by soon for the baby

 

Scott gets dropped off at the school first so he can pick up his mother's car. The parking lot is swarming with police officers, EMTs, and confused teenagers. Flashing lights everywhere and some congestion as the police seem to be stopping everyone who's trying to leave.

 

"That seems like a huge mess," Stiles says.

 

"Yep," Allison agrees. And they drive off again. The next stop is Stiles' house so he can pick up the Jeep to drive over to the McCalls' to pick up Noah. Though when Allison turns into the driveway and stops, no one gets out of the car.

 

"So this was a wild night," Stiles says. "Let's never do anything like this ever again."

 

"How are you holding up?" Jackson asks Allison.

 

"Me? How is everyone holding up?" Allison asks, voice shrill. "I just saw my aunt get killed right in front of me and I'm not even sure whether or not I should feel bad because she was a horrible person. I don't know what's going to happen with the family now. And I saw Peter Hale's junk, which I did not want to see! Like, ever!" For the life of him, Stiles can't stop the laugh that bursts out of him. Then suddenly they're all laughing, even though they're pretty sure that nothing is even funny.

 

It's short-lived hilarity, however, and they soon lapse into silence again.

 

"So, Jackson, are you gonna tell your parents about Peter?" Stiles asks.

 

"Might as well, if he's apparently sticking around," Jackson says. "Is he going to be our alpha now?" Stiles turns to Derek, who just shrugs.

 

"Technically, me and Jackson and Scott are all his betas unless we submit to a different alpha," Derek says. "But that doesn't mean he's going to be an active alpha to us right away. There's still a lot of... mess to sort through here."

 

"Well, he is technically a serial killer," Stiles points out.

 

"Anyway, I really need to get home," Jackson says. He's looking at his phone. "My parents have heard about the body at the school. So you two" - he points to Stiles and Derek in turn - "need to get the hell out of my car."

 

***

 

The ride to the McCall house is silent. But at least it's not an awkward silence. More of a stunned one. Both Stiles and Derek have been through a lot tonight. Stiles' brain is definitely whirling, he imagines that Derek's is probably the same.

 

They get to the house at the same time as Scott, and pull into the driveway after him.

 

"Did the police hold you up?" Stiles asks, getting out of the Jeep.

 

"Yeah, they wouldn't let me leave until your dad got there to vouch for me," Scott says.

 

"Stiles," Derek says. Even with that one word Stiles can tell that something's wrong. He looks over at Derek, who is halfway out of the Jeep and staring at the house very intensely.

 

"What?" Stiles asks. He looks at the house. It doesn't look like there are any lights on, which doesn't immediately worry him. But the way Derek is standing, head cocked to one side and eyes open wide, does. Stiles makes to start running for the door and suddenly finds his way blocked by Derek.

 

"Stay out here," Derek says. "Call your dad."

 

"W- what's going on?" Stiles asks. He feels his heart drop to his shoes and his stomach lurches.

 

"Call your dad!" Derek says over his shoulder as he runs into the house, Scott on his heels.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

The sheriff picks up on the first ring.

 

"Dad," Stiles says, voice trembling.

 

"What's wrong?" The sheriff demands.

 

"I don't know," Stiles says. " I don't know, w e got to Scott's house and Derek told me to stay out here and call you. Something's wrong."

 

"Where's Noah?" The sheriff asks. "And Melissa?"

 

"I don't know!" Stiles exclaims.

 

"I'm on my way," the sheriff says. "Don't go in the house." The call ends and Stiles stares helplessly up at the dark house, mind spinning with possibilities of what horrors Derek had sensed inside it.

 

Stiles watches the house and sees the windows start lighting up one-by-one, presumably because Scott and Derek are searching the place. Stiles scrolls back through his text messages to Mrs McCall. The last few have gone unanswered, the last he's heard from her was when he'd asked for a picture of Noah shortly after he and Derek had entered the gym.

 

Had something happened right after that?

 

Stiles soon becomes aware of the sound of a baby crying, and then Derek is rushing out the front door with Noah, wailing, in his arms. Stiles doesn't think, just runs. They both meet in the middle of the driveway, almost crashing into each other. Stiles clings to Noah with one arm and Derek with the other, and Derek wraps an arm around Stiles' waist to keep him from falling backwards.

 

"Stiles, he's alright," Derek says. But Stiles isn't alright. His throat feels like it's squeezing shut and his chest is aching. There are tears running down his face. His knees go weak, only Derek's arm around him is keeping him upright.

 

"Stiles," Derek says again. Noah is still crying, but it's not the angry, distressed wailing from before, and he's rubbing his face on Stiles' shoulder.

 

Suddenly there's a loud 'whoop' noise and flashing red and blue lights coming from behind him. Stiles can't make himself turn around, can't make himself move at all.

 

It's like everything that's happened tonight as finally caught up to him and he's having a hard time processing it all.

 

The dance. The preserve. Peter. Kate. Derek. The body in the trunk. Noah.

 

"Stiles, you need to breathe," Derek says.

 

"What's wrong?" The sheriff's voice.

 

And Stiles sort of breaks a bit, clawing at the back of Derek's shirt – which is still ripped up from his earlier fight with Peter – with one hand and straight-out sobbing into Derek's shoulder.

 

"Oh hell. Here, let me..." Stiles feels arms come in to remove Noah from his grip and he can't stop the panicked sound he makes. "Never mind, I guess."

 

"I can't find my mom!" Scott's voice. "She's not in the house anywhere!"

 

"Did you touch anything?" The sheriff asks.

 

"Stiles, come on," Derek says. Derek starts walking him backwards, away from the house. They end up at the Jeep, and Derek moves Stiles until he's sat sideways on the passenger seat of the Jeep, Noah in his lap.

 

Stiles finds it’s a bit easier to breathe with Noah's weight in his lap to ground him and Derek standing close enough that Stiles doesn't have to strain to keep his grip on Derek's shirt. Stiles doesn't know how long it takes him to actually calm down enough to be more aware of his surroundings, but eventually his environment comes into focus.

 

All the front-facing windows on the McCall house are lit up, making it look occupied and inviting, though Stiles knows it's empty. The sheriff's cruiser is parked behind the Jeep, lights still flashing. Noah is warm and slightly sweaty in Stiles' lap, and he's still crying softly into Stiles' chest. Derek is standing in the Jeep's open door, crouched down enough that Stiles has a grip on him and Derek has a grip on Stiles. One of his hands is heavy on Stiles' shoulder.

 

Stiles inhales a shuddering breath and wipes at his face with a shaking hand.

 

"Are you okay?" Derek asks.

 

"No," Stiles says. "What is even happening right now? What happened in the house? Is Mrs McCall gone?"

 

"I think so," Derek says. "I found Noah crying in his playpen in one of the rooms upstairs. No sign of Scott's mom anywhere." Stiles looks down at Noah. His face is flushed and damp, and Stiles' heart sinks at the thought of how long he must have been crying, alone in the house.

 

"Someone took her," Stiles says. "Mrs McCall wouldn't have just left Noah there by himself."

 

"She didn't," Derek says. "I smelled traces of wolfsbane on the air."

 

"Hunters?" Stiles asks. Derek nods solemnly.

 

***

 

Stiles is changing Noah's diaper, after the sheriff has recovered his things from the house, on the backseat of the Jeep when Peter and Jackson show up.

 

"What the hell happened here!?" Jackson asks, coming up to the Jeep's still-open passenger door.

 

"What are you doing here?" Stiles asks, snapping Noah's sleepsuit back up.

 

"I felt some kind of emotional... thing," Jackson says, patting absently at his chest. "I knew something was wrong. Peter tracked you both here. Were you crying?"

 

"It's been a long night," Stiles says defensively.

 

"Scott's mom is missing," Derek says. He's leaning against the side of the Jeep, looking up at the McCall house.

 

"Oh, shit," Jackson says. He looks down at Noah, wriggling on the backseat in a much better mood now that he's no longer being ignored and his needs are being met. "He seems fine."

 

"Derek found him in his playpen," Stiles says. "I guess whoever took Mrs McCall didn’t know he was there. Luckily." Stiles doesn't even want to think about what it would've been like to get here to find his son missing. Or worse. He shudders. He cuddles Noah to his chest and backs out of the Jeep, walking around to stand next to Derek.

 

Another police cruiser pulls up to the curb, lights on but no siren, and Stiles watches as a young blond man exits the driver's side. Stiles is familiar with nearly all the deputies at the station, having grown up around most of them and also worked near some of them over the past year, but this guy in unfamiliar to him. The passenger door opens and a deputy Stiles does recognize but doesn't particularly like, Haight, steps out.

 

That's when Stiles notices Peter standing off to one side, looking up at the McCall house with a frown on his face.

 

"Did you two come here together?" Stiles asks Jackson, pointing at Peter.

 

"He showed up at my place after I first felt whatever it was I guess you were going through," Jackson says. "Something about pack bonds." Stiles arches his eyebrows in surprise.

 

"That's handy," he says.

 

"Why are you here!?" Everyone's attention is drawn to the front door of the house as Scott appears in the open doorway. He starts stomping his way down the driveway in Peter's direction, hands clenched into fists at his sides and teeth gritted. "You did this!"

 

"Scott," the sheriff warns, coming out behind him.

 

"Sheriff," the new deputy calls, starting to walk up the driveway while eyeing Scott.

 

"Parrish," the sheriff says. He catches up with Scott and stops him with a hand on his chest. For a second, it looks like Scott is going to push past him and keep advancing on Peter, but he does stop. "This is Scott McCall, it's his mother that's missing. Do me a favour and take his statement. I'll deal with this bunch over here. Haight, you go talk to the neighbours. See if they noticed anything." Haight nods and heads off to the house next door. Parrish pulls a notepad out of his pocket and goes over to Scott. The sheriff approaches the Jeep, which draws Peter over.

 

"So, did you have anything to do with this?" the sheriff asks Peter.

 

"No," Peter says. "I'd have nothing to gain from it. Also I'd never just leave an infant unattended."

 

"You didn't know Noah was here," Stiles points out.

 

"I'd have known as soon as I walked into the house," Peter says. "Actually, I'd have known before I even went in."

 

"Who would gain anything from kidnapping Mrs McCall?" Jacksons asks. "She's just a nurse."

 

"She's also Scott's mother," Derek points out. "I smelled traces of wolfsbane in the house."

 

"Hunters," the sheriff says. "You're thinking Kate?"

 

"I doubt she would've bothered," Peter says. "She seemed like she had one clear goal: to get Derek. She didn't even have the time to manage that. She wouldn't have had time for messing with Scott like this. Especially with the police out looking for her."

 

"That seems pretty convenient," Stiles says. "Scott's mother goes missing at the same time the police are occupied with chasing around an escapee."

 

"May I remind you all that Kate isn't the only hunter in town," Peter says. "Chris and Victoria are fairly accomplished hunters. And Gerard Argent is also here, along with some minions, apparently."

 

"But would they go after a human?" the sheriff asks.

 

"They probably would if it would benefit their end goal," Peter says. "They could use her to get to Scott."

 

"But they wouldn't hurt her, would they?" Stiles asks. He gets a sick feeling in his stomach at the thought. Mrs McCall is about the closest thing to a mother Stiles has had since age 10, when his own mother died. He can't bear the thought of her being used as a pawn in some plot to get to Scott.

 

"I wouldn't put it past them," Peter says darkly. "As we all know, the Argents can be pretty ruthless. And cruel." Derek turns away.

 

"Okay, well, one thing to our benefit in this is that, motives aside, this whole crime is pretty human," the sheriff says. "Which means that I can throw police resources at it to solve it." Stiles looks over at Scott, still talking with Parrish and gesturing wildly at something he's saying, and hopes that solving this whole mess really is as easy as the sheriff is making it sound.

 

***

 

In the end, there's really nothing for Stiles, Derek, Jackson, or Peter to be doing at the scene, so the sheriff sends them off. He tries to get Scott to leave with them, but Scott isn't having it, insisting on staying at the house just in case.

 

Peter also elects to stay behind, just to see if his supernatural senses can pick up something regular police work won't. The sheriff doesn't look too happy about it, but grudgingly agrees. And then Stiles threatens Peter with Chris Argent if anything at all happens to his dad. Peter just rolls his eyes at him and gives him an infuriating smirk.

 

Then Stiles, Derek, and Jackson - with Noah now asleep in his carseat - head for the Stilinski home. Stiles doesn't even think to question Jackson's presence, even as he's following them all into the house.

 

It's been a long, stressful night, and Stiles figures that tomorrow isn't gonna be much better. Let Jackson do what he wants.

 

Derek heads immediately for the shower and Stiles heads for his bedroom with Noah. Jackson goes to the kitchen, mumbling something about being hungry.

 

Stiles doesn't want to put Noah down, but he also wants to get out of his dance clothes. Attempting to change his clothes one-handed only results in waking Noah up, so Stiles puts him on the bed and lets him scoot around grumpily while Stiles gets into sweats and a t-shirt.

 

Then he sits on the edge of the bed, pulls Noah into his lap, and stares silently at the wall while he thinks of all the different ways tonight could've gone wrong. Or, more wrong than it already has.

 

He doesn't know how much time has passed by the time Derek shows up in the room and shakes Stiles back into awareness.

 

"Are you putting him in his crib?" Derek asks, nodding towards Noah. Stiles responds by tightening his arms around the baby, who has fallen back to sleep. "Alright. Why don't you lay down?"

 

Stiles does as he's told. He lies down on the side of the bed closest to the wall and lays Noah out beside him. Derek, dressed in a long-sleeve Henley, sweat pants, and even socks; surveys the scene and must find it acceptable enough because he nods.

 

"I'll be downstairs if you need anything," he says. He turns to leave the room, but Stiles doesn't want that.

 

"Stay." Derek freezes half-way to the door and then waits a beat before turning back to the bed. There's a complicated look on his face, but Stiles is way too tired to figure it out. Now that he's finally horizontal, his body seems to want to give into sleep. He feels like he could sleep for a week. But he also feels vulnerable.

 

Someone entered the McCall house tonight and kidnapped a grown woman. Stiles was extremely lucky that whoever it was hadn't also done something to Noah. He's aware of the extreme unlikeliness of someone breaking into the sheriff's house, especially when it's somewhat full, but his anxieties are fueled mostly by his feelings. And right now Stiles doesn't feel very safe. He doesn't feel that Noah is very safe right now.

 

Derek makes him feel safe.

 

So he asks. And he lets out a quiet sigh of relief as Derek comes back and lowers himself onto the bed on Noah's other side, stretching out on top of the blankets.

 

"Go to sleep, Stiles," he says.

 

Stiles closes his eyes.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up in the morning feeling suspiciously well-rested.

 

Also Allison Argent is looming over him, which is a sight so foreign to him that Stiles briefly wonders if he's even woken up at all.

 

"Oh good, you're awake," Allison says. Stiles just blinks up at her, totally confused. His bedroom is bright, late morning sunlight shining through the window. That also confuses him, because he doesn't usually get to sleep in this late, even on the weekends. Noah doesn't really care about things like that; probably doesn't even have a concept of what 'sleeping in' actually is.

 

Noah...

 

Stiles jolts into a sitting position and Allison has to back away quickly to avoid a collision.

 

"Where's Noah!?" Stiles asks, voice still hoarse with sleep.

 

"Over here." Stiles peers past Allison to see Derek sitting in his desk chair with Noah. The baby seems content, chewing on a rattle as he reclines against Derek's torso. Noah notices Stiles looking at him and offers a wide smile and an uncoordinated baby-wave.

 

Stiles scrambles off the bed and rushes over. Derek instantly hands him the baby and Stiles practically crushes him to his chest, getting an offended squawk for his efforts.

 

"I happened to wake up the same time he did," Derek says. "So I got up with him to let you get some extra sleep."

 

"Thanks," Stiles mumbles, his nose pressed to the top of Noah's head as he waits for his heart rate to go back to normal. "What time is it?"

 

"A little after 10," Allison says. "I just got here not long ago. Your dad's back. And my dad's here. And Jackson, Scott, and Peter."

 

"They're all downstairs now? At the same time?" Stiles asks.

 

"Why do you think we're up here?" Derek asks.

 

"Fair enough," Stiles says. "Any word on Mrs McCall?"

 

"Not yet," Allison says. "Your dad says that none of the neighbours noticed anything. Peter is saying that my family was definitely involved. And my dad is saying that they weren't. Scott's saying that it's Peter's fault."

 

"No offense, but I'll bet anything your family is totally involved somehow," Stiles says.

 

"I agree with you," Allison says. "After learning the truth about Kate, I can't put anything past them anymore. Never mind that they've been lying to me my whole life anyway, I can't see why I should trust them blindly now."

 

"So how are you doing with the whole Kate thing?" Stiles asks. Allison sits on the edge of Stiles' bed and takes a deep breath.

 

"It's all a bit confusing," she says. "I mean, I used to think she was totally awesome until, like, this month. She was always travelling and telling me stories of all these cool places she'd been. Sometimes she'd even take me cool souvenirs. But now I think of all those places she's been and wonder how many bodies she left behind. The psychopathic murderer wasn't the Kate I knew, but that's who she was, isn't it?"

 

"It's a weird thing to have to figure out," Derek murmurs. He has his chin in his hand with his elbow propped up on the arm of Stiles' desk chair. He's staring out the window, gaze seemingly unfocused. Stiles remembers back when Derek had first told him about his relationship with Kate Argent. That he'd loved her once upon a time.

 

"What about you?" Stiles asks him.

 

"I'm glad she's gone," Derek says. He turns away from the window, but doesn't meet either Stiles or Allison's gaze. Stiles and Allison share a look. They don't say anything. A few minutes pass in silence, then Derek cocks his head slightly and gets up from the desk chair.

 

"They want me downstairs," he says, pointing at the door as he leaves the room. Once he's out of sight, Allison turns to Stiles.

 

"So…" she says, with a grin Stiles doesn't trust. "I saw you two at the dance, and Jackson tells me that Derek spent the night here. In your bed, even. Are you guys boyfriends for real now?" Stiles sputters, and then comes a stumbling sound that sounds suspiciously like someone almost falling down the stairs.

 

"What is going on up there?" the sheriff's voice rings out from the kitchen.

 

***

 

Stiles finally makes an appearance downstairs after he puts Noah down for his mid-morning nap. He doesn't bother getting showered or dressed because his life is insane and it's Saturday morning. Real clothes shouldn't be required at times like this.

 

"Morning, kiddo," the sheriff says from his seat at the kitchen table. "Sleep okay?" Stiles narrows his eyes at him, wondering if the question is a trap. Derek and Jackson are leaning against the counter behind the sheriff. Jackson snorts at the question and Derek's ears slowly go pink.

 

"… Fine," Stiles says. The sheriff nods as if satisfied with that answer. Stiles doesn't trust it. "Do you have any leads about Mrs McCall yet?"

 

"Nothing concrete," the sheriff says.

 

"Though, of course," Peter, sitting across from the sheriff at the table, pipes up, "it's obvious who's involved."

 

"I keep telling you," Chris says, standing a little bit away from the table and glaring daggers at Peter, "there's no proof that anyone in my family is involved."

 

"I have to say, Chris," Peter says, "it would be one hell of a coincidence if they weren't." Chris has nothing to say to that. Stiles looks around the kitchen.

 

"Where's Scott?" he asks.

 

"In the living room," the sheriff says. "I told him to go in there to cool down."

 

"Right," Stiles says. He turns and leaves the kitchen. Even though he and Scott haven't really been seeing eye-to-eye lately, and Scott isn't pack, he is still Stiles' best friend. Stiles wants to see how he's doing.

 

He enters the living room to find Scott huddled on one end of the couch, staring down at his phone in his hand. He looks up briefly when Stiles sits next to him.

 

"Hey," he mutters.

 

"Hey," Stiles says. "How're you holding up?" Scott shrugs.

 

"Okay, I guess," Scott says. "I have this feeling that I'm pretty sure she's okay, but I won't be satisfied until I see her with my own two eyes." Stiles wonders if Scott's feeling about his mother is anything like Jackson's feeling when Stiles had his mini-breakdown outside the McCall house. Stiles doesn't think Scott knows about pack, but maybe he's managed to form one with his mother.

 

"I'm sure we'll find her soon," Stiles says. "Eventually the Argents will slip up and we'll catch them."

 

"The Argents didn't take her, Stiles," Scott says, glaring at Stiles. "You know Peter had something to do with it. He's the one responsible for all the bad things that've been happening around here lately."

 

"Peter's only gone after the people responsible for murdering his family," Stiles says. Which is more or less true, if you don't count the janitor or the nurse (though Stiles will concede that the nurse probably got what was coming to her since she apparently facilitated Laura's murder). "And I'm pretty sure your mother didn't have anything to do with the Hale fire. Peter has no reason to do anything to her."

 

"He could be doing it to get to me," Scott says. "To make me submit to him as his beta."

 

"I don't think Peter's too worried about that, honestly," Stiles says. He doesn't want to say that Peter has most likely given up on Scott wanting anything to do with him, but he's not sure how to phrase it in a way that doesn't sound too mean. "Remember, he's got Jackson now. And Derek, technically."

 

"And you?" Scott asks with a sneer.

 

"I don't think so," Stiles says. To be honest, he doesn’t really trust Peter as a leader. That feeling is probably due more to his first impression of Peter being a serial killer movie villain, but he stands by it. Stiles doesn't take a whole lot of issue with Peter getting bloody revenge on the people who killed his family, though he does feel weird about being on acquaintance terms with a guy who's killed a bunch of people. Practically overnight, Peter has gone from 'bad guy' to 'guy with questionable morals who is now on our side'.

 

And he's sitting in Stiles' kitchen like everything's normal.

 

"Whatever," Scott says. "I know Peter did something. And once I have proof, I'm going to do something about it."

 

"How?" Stiles asks.

 

"Deaton said he'd help me," Scott says. "He can use magic to help me find Mom. Unlike you guys, he's not on Peter's side." The mention of Deaton's magic suddenly reminds Stiles that he himself apparently has magical talent. He gets up from the couch.

 

"I really hope that works out for you, Scott," he says, somewhat distractedly. Because he really needs to talk to Peter. He feels he's owed some answers. And who knows, maybe he has enough magic to find Mrs McCall too.

 

***

 

Stiles gets back to the kitchen to find Peter gone, along with Derek. He looks around the room. The sheriff is poking around in the fridge and Chris Argent is now sitting at the table. Allison  has come back downstairs and she and Jackson are sitting together at one end of the table and huddled around Jackson's phone.

 

"Where's Derek?" Stiles asks. "And Peter?"

 

"Out in the backyard," the sheriff says, pointing vaguely at the back kitchen door. "They wanted to have a private conversation."

 

"I promised to not listen in," Jackson offers.

 

"I guess you got the hang of werewolf hearing pretty quick," Stiles says. Actually, Jackson seems to be having a pretty uneventful transition overall.

 

"Perks of already having werewolf blood in me, I guess," Jackson says. Stiles nods and doesn't question that any further. That's a whole can of worms he's not sure he wants to be getting into right now. He wonders if the fact that Jackson apparently hasn't gone home yet means anything.

 

Stiles moves over to the back door and looks out the window. Derek and Peter are standing in the middle of the backyard, and it looks like they're having a heated discussion. Stiles is sure they have some things they need to work out, and he just hopes that it doesn't devolve into bloodshed.

 

And just as soon as he has that thought, he sees Peter curl a hand around the back of Derek's neck and then jab his claws right into Derek's nape. Derek goes stiff all over and doesn't make any move to fight Peter off.

 

"No!" Stiles cries, and nearly brains himself with the door trying to get it open. Everyone in the kitchen snaps to attention as Stiles trips outside to the backyard. Derek and Peter are still standing together, not moving, and Peter's claws are still in Derek's neck.

 

Stiles runs at them, and just as he reaches them Peter lets go of Derek and crumples to the ground, landing on his hands and knees. Derek stays standing for another few seconds before dropping to his knees. Stiles sees four claw puncture marks on the back of Derek's neck, and they close up as Stiles watches. Stiles drops to his knees next to Derek and grabs onto his arm, hoping that he isn't going to have to watch Derek die right in front of him. He doesn't miss the commotion behind him as everyone else spills out into the yard to see what's going on, but he doesn't react to it, completely focused on Derek.

 

"Derek…" he whispers.

 

Derek turns towards him, looking stunned.

 

"Stiles," he says.

 

And he flashes red eyes at him.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

"So let me get this straight," Stiles says. "You're telling me that Peter just transferred his alpha powers to you? Because that's apparently a thing that can be done?"

 

"Yeah," Derek says, sounding pretty confused himself. He and Stiles are up in Stiles' bedroom and Derek is staring at himself in Stiles' new dresser mirror. He flashes his eyes again, still red, which seems to come as a surprise to him because he flinches.

 

"I sincerely doubt he did it out of the goodness of his heart," Stiles says. "What's he planning? This isn't gonna hurt you somehow, is it?"

 

"I can't think of how making me an alpha would benefit him in any way," Derek says. "He did say something about the alpha powers going to the rightful person, but I wasn't meant to be an alpha anyway so I'm not sure what he's getting at."

 

It'd be a good question to ask Peter, but Peter had made himself scarce after transferring the power over. Stiles has no idea where Peter goes when he's not with them, where he's been going this whole time since he sprung himself from the long term care ward at the hospital, and he wouldn’t even have a clue where to start looking.

 

"What's that mean, that you weren't meant to be an alpha?" Stiles asks.

 

"My mother was my alpha, back when she was alive," Derek says. "Before her it was her mother, and before her it was her father. Laura was in line to be the next alpha after my mother, and that's why the power went to her after Mom died. It happened sooner than Laura was expecting, but she'd been expecting it to happen someday."

 

"Sounds kind of like a monarchy," Stiles says.

 

"It's a bit like that," Derek says. He turns away from the mirror and leans back against the dresser, crossing his arms over his chest and looking down at the floor. "I always considered it more like an inheritance."

 

"And inheritances can be stolen," Stiles says.

 

"Peter stole the alpha power from Laura and disrupted the chain," Derek says. "I don't know who it would've gone to after Laura. Maybe her kids if she had any. It wasn't supposed to be me, though."

 

"Wasn't supposed to be Peter either," Stiles points out. "What are you gonna do now?"

 

"Hope I don't screw this up?" Derek offers. He looks up. "One thing, though, this does make our pack a little more official."

 

"What's that? You, me, Allison, and Jackson?" Stiles asks.

 

"And Noah and your dad," Derek says. "And Peter. As an alpha I'll have new instincts and responsibilities, hopefully I'll be able to manage them." Stiles wonders what Derek being an alpha now means for the two of them, but he's too afraid to ask.

 

The baby monitor on his nightstand comes to life. Noah's up from his nap and demanding attention.

 

"I'm sure it'll be fine," Stiles says. "You were already pretty good at being leadery with us even when you were a beta." The grin Derek shoots him is small, but it's still there.

 

***

 

Scott heads out after lunch to go see Deaton. The sheriff is obviously not completely onboard with the idea, but he can't really stop Scott if he's that determined. He's also too busy dealing with the pile of mess that Kate and Peter have essentially dumped in his lap, and that's not even counting his work on the search for Mrs McCall.

 

His workload doesn't get any lighter when his phone rings in the middle of a quick lunch. Derek pauses with a forkful of food halfway to his mouth, and Stiles looks over from where he's simultaneously trying to feed himself and Noah.

 

"What've you got for me?" The sheriff answers the call at the table, already starting to clean up his place before he even hears what's happened now. "Okay, I'm on my way."

 

"Any news?" Stiles asks.

 

"Found a body," the sheriff says. Stiles goes cold all over. "It's not Melissa." The sheriff adds quickly. "It's a man." Stiles' next breath comes out in a wheeze.

 

"Maybe lead with that next time," he says.

 

"Sorry," the sheriff says. "I'm heading out. Text me if Scott comes back or if he and Deaton figure something out. Don't wait up for me tonight." Stiles nods. The sheriff drops his plate and fork in the sink and leaves the kitchen. Stiles hears his footsteps go upstairs, come back downstairs, to and from his study, and then out the front door.

 

"Wonder if this body's related to what's been happening," Stiles says.

 

"If it is, let's hope it's a simple connection," Derek says.

 

***

 

Jackson and Allison, who had left that morning after Peter transferred the alpha power to Derek, show up at the house again later that afternoon.

 

"Scott's been texting me," Allison says as soon as Stiles opens the door. "Apparently I don't have to worry because he doesn't believe that my family had anything to do with his mother's kidnapping."

 

"How nice of him," Stiles says flatly. He leads them both into the living room, where Derek is watching Noah scoot around on the floor.

 

"So how's our new leader?" Jackson asks, dropping down on the couch. Derek looks over at him from where he's sitting on the floor.

 

"So far so good," he says. "How's your control?" Jackson lifts up a hand and extends and retracts his claws. Derek nods in approval.

 

"Honestly, it's a bit freaky how natural this all feels," Jackson says.

 

"That'll be the latent werewolf abilities you've probably always had," Derek says. "It'll be different – easier – for you than it was for Scott."

 

"So my new bedroom is safe for the next full moon then?" Stiles asks.

 

"From him, at least," Derek says. "Hopefully Deaton will have taught Scott enough control for his next full moon to be less of an issue."

 

"Speaking of Deaton teaching things," Stiles says. "When are we gonna talk about the fact that I'm apparently magic? If that's true, can Deaton teach me magic too?"

 

"Oh yeah," Allison says. "That thing with the mountain ash. How'd you do that anyway?"

 

"It just sort of happened," Stiles says with a shrug. "I needed a circle to happen and hope that it would. And then it did." Noah has scooted – Stiles is convinced that he's going to figure out crawling any day now – himself over to Derek and seems to be trying to climb over his outstretched legs.

 

"That's gonna end in some kind of face plant," Jackson says.

 

"Eh," Stiles says. "Derek has good reflexes." Noah can't really manage to even get himself on top of Derek's legs, so instead he drops to his back on the floor and holds up his little arms to Derek. Derek, of course, picks him up right away. Noah has them all wrapped around his little finger, Stiles is not ashamed to admit.

 

"So, magic," Stiles says. "Am I Harry Potter now?"

 

"Magic doesn't work like that, Stiles," Derek says. Noah reaches for his face and Derek flashes his eyes at him. Noah stares at Derek in bewilderment, little mouth dropping open.

 

"Oh," Stiles says. He'd actually forgotten about Derek's new alpha red eyes. "Uh... Guess he's not used to that yet." Noah's hands dart out and start patting at Derek's face. He grumbles. Allison lets out a giggle.

 

"He's checking the beard," she says.

 

"He's still Derek, Tiny Pants," Stiles says. "He sort of got an upgrade?" Derek turns to Stiles and flashes his eyes at him. Stiles grins. Noah squeals, seemingly satisfied that Derek is still Derek, different-coloured eyes and all.

 

***

 

From: Daddio

Got an ID on the body

 

To: Daddio

Spill

 

From: Daddio

Adrian Harris, your chem teacher

 

To: Daddio

😮

 

To: Daddio

What happened!?

 

From: Daddio

Gunshot wound. Not sure of everything, but definitely happened sometime last night.

 

To: Daddio

Suicide?

 

From: Daddio

I highly doubt it

 

***

 

Scott doesn't get back to the Stilinski house until that evening. He's quiet when Stiles lets him in, and doesn't even say anything when he passes by Allison in the living room on his way to the couch. Allison is sitting in an armchair with Noah on her lap; they're looking through a picture book together.

 

"Any luck with Deaton?" Stiles asks him.

 

"No," Scott says. Stiles waits for him to elaborate, but Scott doesn't continue. Stiles and Allison share a look. Even Jackson, sitting in the other armchair, looks concerned. Derek appears from the kitchen, where he'd been calling for takeout, and stands in the living room entrance.

 

"Deaton won't help you?" He asks. "Or he couldn't help you?"

 

"He tried," Scott says defensively. "But he says whoever has her is blocking his locater magic somehow."

 

"Does your family have that ability?" Stiles asks Allison.

 

"Hunters have to protect themselves from everything somehow," Allison says. "They could have magic-blocking tools or equipment or whatever."

 

"It's not the Argents," Scott insists. "It's Peter. We all know it's Peter."

 

"Scott, you're the only one who thinks Peter actually took your mom," Stiles points out. "I already told you that Peter has no reason to kidnap your mother. He's not even an alpha anymore." Scott turns his head away and doesn't say anything. Stiles throws his arms up in the air with a huff and whirls around to go to the kitchen. Derek follows him back.

 

"I just don't get it," Stiles says, knowing but not caring that Scott can still hear him. "I don't get why he's so convinced that the Argents can do no wrong!" His text alert goes off and he checks his phone.

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

One word: Allison

 

"Well, yes," Stiles says. He shows the text to Derek, who nods.

 

"I haven't known Scott long," Derek says. "But I really think he is that simple."

 

***

 

From: Daddio

Chris Argent keeps assuring me that his family doesn't have Melissa

 

To: Daddio

I wouldn't believe him

 

From: Daddio

I think he believes it, so I told him to find evidence to prove me wrong

 

To: Daddio

Think it'll work?

 

From: Daddio

Hopefully. I don't have cause to get a search warrant to turn the place over myself, so this is the next best thing.

 

To: Daddio

Good thinking

 

***

 

From: Daddio

Any reason why Chris Argent is texting me that Allison isn't coming home?

 

To: Daddio

She's pissed that her family is still keeping secrets from her and she's convinced that they kidnapped Mrs McCall

 

To: Daddio

She wants to stay here tonight

 

From: Daddio

With Scott there?

 

To: Daddio

Jackson and Derek will be here too

 

From: Daddio

Fine. Just be sure to text me if Chris shows up with a shotgun

 

To: Daddio

I feel like she wouldn't appreciate that

 

From: Daddio

I'll be sure to let Chris know

 

***

 

Like an idiot, Stiles leaves figuring out the sleeping arrangements until the last second.

 

"We have my bed, the couch, and an air mattress," Stiles says, counting them off on his fingers. "I'm sure we can figure something out."

 

"What about your dad's bed?" Scott asks.

 

"Nah, I want to leave that free so he has a place to crash the next time he comes home," Stiles says. "He's been working almost non-stop the last couple of days. The least I can do is keep his bed free for him."

 

"Allison can take Stiles' room," Derek says.

 

"I can't take your bed, Stiles," Allison says. "Honestly I should probably just go home."

 

"If you don't feel safe at home, you stay here," Derek says. "Uh, the sheriff didn't say she couldn't. Right?"

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "I'll put the air mattress back in Noah's room and stay in there. I guess that leaves you three to fight over the couch?" He points back and forth to Scott, Jackson, and Derek.

 

"I thought Derek would be in with you," Jackson says. "If that's a thing you're both doing now." Stiles feels his face heat and does not look over at Derek. Derek clears his throat awkwardly.

 

"Why don't you just go home, Jackson," Scott says. "You don't need to be here anyway."

 

"Not that it's any of your business, McCall," Jackson says. "But I'd rather be with my pack right now." He looks away from everyone and his cheeks colour slightly. "It still feels like there's a threat hanging over us, and I'd feel better if we were all together." Scott scoffs at him.

 

"I feel the same way," Derek says. "I can't control the sheriff's movements, but I would feel a lot better if the rest of you stayed close. It's easier to protect you all that way."

 

"Alpha instincts?" Stiles asks.

 

"Basically," Derek says.

 

"What?" Scott asks.

 

"I'm the alpha now," Derek says. "And the leader of this pack. Part of my job is to keep you all safe in dangerous times. I can do that better if we're all in the same place."

 

"I feel like that's going to present a problem since we don't all, y'know, actually live here," Stiles says. "And what about school?"

 

"We can work around that," Derek says. "Becoming an alpha is going to be a big adjustment for me. And it's only my first day. Let's just get through tonight and we can figure out more in the morning."

 

"I don't mind Jackson sleeping on the floor in Stiles' room if he's up for that," Allison says. "That leaves the couch for Scott."

 

"What? No!" Scott protests

 

"What about Derek?" Stiles asks, ignoring Scott's outburst.

 

"Like Jackson said, he can just stay with you," Allison says. Stiles sputters. "You don't want to stay with Derek?"

 

"That's not the point!" Stiles exclaims.

 

"Just tell me where you keep the extra blankets and I can help Jackson get set up," Allison says. "If he's alright with the floor, that is."

 

"Works for me," Jackson says, with a shrug. "Me and Danny used to do that when we had sleepovers as kids."

 

"Excellent," Allison says.

 

"Wait a minute!" Scott exclaims.

 

They all ignore him.

 

***

 

"Look, I really don't have to share with you if you don't want me to," Derek says. "I can think of something else."

 

Stiles and Derek are standing in the nursery, staring at the air mattress that takes up almost the entire floor. Noah is asleep in his crib, the nightlight in the corner throwing off just enough light for Stiles to see the shape of him.

 

"It's not that I don't want to," Stiles says. And it isn't. Actually, he wouldn't mind sharing a bed with Derek. And not only because Derek is hot like the sun and Stiles is thinking that he might like to get all up in that, eventually. He does like Derek, and if nothing else he considers them friends. And he maybe wants to know what it's like to have Derek's arms around him when he's not having some kind of panic.

 

They shared a bed the night before with no problems. This shouldn't be any different. Although, this time Stiles would be going into it with full premeditation, instead of asking for it at the last minute. And Noah won't be right there as a buffer this time.

 

"I mean," Stiles says. "This thing is big enough that we won't be stuck together all night. There's enough space for both of us on there."

 

"Yeah," Derek says. Stiles wants to maybe ask about the actual state of their relationship, but he's pretty sure this would be a terrible time to bring it up.

 

"Look, let's just go to bed," Stiles says. "Worst case scenario there'll be some accidental spoonage, but nothing too traumatizing."

 

"Spoonage," Derek mutters to himself. Stiles ignores him and gets on the air mattress. He settles on the side closest to the crib, for better access to the baby, and fusses with his pillow and blanket until he feels comfortable. He turns back to Derek to find him just standing there, watching.

 

"Well?" Stiles asks. Derek mutters something under his breath before settling onto the empty side of the mattress. "I apologize in advance if Noah disturbs you at all. He's usually a good sleeper but he might wake up at least once during the night."

 

"It's fine, Stiles," Derek says.

 

"Well, good night then," Stiles says, not sure what else to do here.

 

"Night," Derek says.

 

Stiles stays on his side and faces the crib, watching Noah's chest rise and fall in sleep. He unconsciously finds himself matching his own breathing to the rhythm, and sleep comes easier than he'd been expecting.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles feels decidedly crowded and overly warm when he drags himself awake the next morning.

 

He lies there completely disoriented for a minute, trying to get his half-asleep brain to remember why he's back sleeping in Noah's nursery when he has a perfectly nice bedroom to stay in.

 

Something moves against the back of his neck, and it's a feeling so foreign that Stiles' brain instantly wakes up the rest of the way. It's then that he becomes aware of the warmth all along his back and a weight slung over his ribs.

 

Then he remembers exactly why he's sleeping in the nursery, and just who he's sleeping with.

 

He clears his throat awkwardly, the body on the air mattress beside him doesn't outwardly react. "Derek?" He asks cautiously.

 

"Yes?" Derek asks, voice low.

 

"Okay, just checking," Stiles says. Stiles feels Derek shift behind him and the weight – Derek's arm – over his ribs starts moving. Stiles instantly grabs it to keep it from moving too far. He's never been cuddled/spooned/whatever like this before, it's rather nice. And if Derek doesn't have a problem with it, and he doesn't judging by the way that he hasn't thrown himself away from Stiles immediately, then Stiles certainly isn't going to stop him.

 

Derek doesn't shake Stiles' grip off his arm, and he very clearly can given his werewolf powers, instead settling back against Stiles' back. Stiles is absolutely confused by this turn of events, but pleasantly so. It's a nice way to wake up. He's still facing the crib, and Noah is just starting to twitch and make little noises that means he's about to wake soon. That must be what woke Stiles initially.

 

"So this is your worst case scenario accidental spoonage?" Derek asks.

 

"Yup," Stiles says. "Somehow not as awkward as I was expecting, to be honest."

 

"No," Derek agrees. Bit weird though."

 

"Yeah, bit weird," Stiles says. "Because I distinctly remember falling asleep separately. Twice." He'd gotten up sometime during the night to change Noah's diaper and then collapsed back on his side of the mattress. Derek had been on his own side at the time, awake with red glowing eyes tracking Stiles' movements. It should have maybe freaked Stiles out a bit, just on the visual alone, but it hadn't. Stiles had just assumed it was an alpha thing, one of Derek's new instincts, and just gone along with it. Stiles is also pretty sure that Derek has been keeping track of the rest of his nearby packmates through scent and sound.

 

"That did happen," Derek says. "Are you sure you don't want me to move?"

 

"I'm sure, as long as you're fine like this," Stiles says. "Though you know Noah's going to wake up any minute so our time's a bit limited."

 

"This works for me," Derek says.

 

***

 

Noah, as per usual, wakes up ridiculously early for a weekend morning. He seems excited to see both Stiles and Derek in the room as Stiles lifts him from the crib, kicking his legs and babbling happily.

 

"I keep thinking he's going to be saying actual words soon," Stiles says, carrying Noah over to the change table while the baby watches Derek over Stiles' shoulder.

 

"He sounds like he's getting the hang of sounds at least," Derek comments. Most of Noah's babbling is complete garbled gibberish, but Stiles often catches a 'dadadada' or 'mamama' or other similar sounds mixed in. They never seem to be related to any person or object in particular, so Stiles knows they're just sounds. He still can't wait for the day when he'll hear Noah say 'Dada' to him and mean it.

 

"Dad says he's still a bit too young," Stiles says. He lays Noah on the change table and removes his pyjamas and starts in on his diaper. "I've read on websites that he could start saying real words around eight months."

 

"You seem excited," Derek says.

 

"Any milestone he hits on time is proof that I'm actually any good at this parenting thing," Stiles says. "That it wasn't a mistake to actually raise him myself instead of giving him to a family who would probably do a much better job." Stiles is pretty sure that that's a feeling that won't go away until Noah is 18 and off to college (or whatever he ends up deciding to do with his life). He'd stopped constantly second-guessing himself every time something goes even a little bit wrong a while back, but the compulsion to do it hasn't disappeared completely.

 

"Stiles, I haven't been around long, but I know a happy baby when I see one," Derek says. "Noah is genuinely happy with you. And he's healthy. I've seen you prioritize him above everything else, including yourself. You're a good father." Stiles feels himself get a bit choked up. It's not something he hears too often, especially not from people who aren't the sheriff.

 

"Thanks," he says, clearing his throat. "I try my best."

 

Stiles suddenly thinks of Peter, of what he'd said about his own experience with being a teenage father. Or, lack of experience, really, due to the lack of support from his own family. If the sheriff was a different kind of man, that experience could've been Stiles', and he wouldn't have gotten the chance to know his own son, and the person he will eventually be one day. He wonders how Jackson feels about the whole thing.

 

He's not quite sure how to go about asking, or if that's really any of his business.

 

***

 

Once Stiles gets Noah ready for the day, he and Derek take him downstairs to the kitchen. Stiles' bedroom is quiet as they pass it, as is the living room where Scott spent the night. Stiles isn't surprised that no one else is bothering to get up right now. He wouldn't be up at this hour either if it weren't for Noah.

 

Stiles puts Noah in his highchair and goes to fix his breakfast, leaving Derek to entertain him. That's where the sheriff finds them when he gets home a minute later.

 

"Morning, boys," he says, dropping into a chair at the table.

 

"Morning," Stiles and Derek echo. Noah squeals and slaps at his highchair tray. The sheriff offers him a tired smile.

 

"You want coffee or something?" Stiles asks. "Or food?"

 

"Nah, I'm just gonna go right to bed," the sheriff says. He looks exhausted, which makes sense because he's been on the go almost non-stop since Friday night. And even before that, really. "Everything go alright here last night?"

 

"Nothing to report," Stiles says. "Any word on Mrs McCall?"

 

"Not a damn thing," the sheriff says. "Chris says he hasn't found anything strange at his place. I say he's not looking hard enough. And I'm sending Parrish out to re-interview Melissa's neighbours. I just can't believe that no one saw anything."

 

"Even Mrs Grant across the street didn't notice anything?" Stiles asks. "I thought spying on her neighbours was like her full-time job, the nosy old bitch." Derek's eyebrows both arch in surprise, but the sheriff just sighs.

 

"Stiles," he warns.

 

"I'm not taking it back," Stiles says. He still hasn't forgiven the woman for nearly getting him and Scott arrested a few years back when they'd been trying to break into the McCall house because Scott had forgotten his key. And Stiles knows she'd known it was them trying to get in, it's not like they were strangers to her since she'd complained about their 'antics' (normal kid behaviour) to Mrs McCall multiple times over the years.

 

"Fine," the sheriff says. And Stiles is pretty sure the sheriff holds a little bit of a grudge over the whole thing as well, he's just more diplomatic about it. "But the report I got from Haight basically says that no one saw anything. Including Mrs Grant. So I'm sending someone else. I know Haight can be a bit" - he see-saws his hand in the air a bit - "you know. Maybe the neighbours just didn't react well to him."

 

"You think Parrish is gonna be better?" Stiles asks. "Is he new, by the way?"

 

"Yup, just transferred," the sheriff says. "He's young. Kind of baby-faced. Personable. He'll probably do better."

 

"Let's hope," Stiles says.

 

"Now, about your teacher," the sheriff says.

 

"He's still dead, right?" Stiles asks.

 

"You could at least sound a little sad about it," the sheriff says. Stiles shrugs and shares a look with Derek, who also shrugs. The sheriff rolls his eyes. Noah bangs on his highchair tray and starts whining. Stiles gets a move-on with his breakfast - baby cereal - and sits down to feed him.

 

"Anyway," the sheriff continues. "Yes, he's still very much dead. Single gunshot wound. Coroner put the time of death at sometime Friday night."

 

"Kate?" Stiles asks.

 

"I doubt it," the sheriff says. "She wouldn’t have had the time. It's looking like she went to the Hale house directly from the station to get her weapons, and then Chris and I made it there before she could leave."

 

"She couldn't have shot Harris on her way to the Hale house?" Stiles asks.

 

"With what?" the sheriff asks. "It's not like she had a gun on her in lockup."

 

"Oh yeah," Stiles says. "Wait, didn't you say you think she had inside help? Couldn't whoever helped her escape also arm her?" The sheriff opens his mouth to answer, then pauses.

 

"Well, shit," he says. "Can't believe I didn't think of that." He pulls out his cellphone and gets up from the table, muttering to himself as he walks out of the room and puts the phone to his ear. Stiles turns to Derek.

 

"I really think arranging Kate's escape was really a diversion to keep the majority of the police occupied while the Argents went around causing mayhem," Stiles says.

 

"You don't think Kate killed Harris?" Derek asks. "She had a motive. His story could connect her to the Hale fire."

 

"She probably had someone else do it on her command," Stiles says. "She had the minions for it. And then someone else in the family either kidnapped Mrs McCall or commissioned it. Commissioned? Had someone do it."

 

"But why kidnap Mrs McCall in the first place?" Derek asks. "Just to get Scott? In that case why not just wait 'til he got home after the dance and deal with him then." Stiles ponders on this while spooning cereal into Noah's mouth, and actually getting some to stay in his mouth long enough for Noah to actually eat it.

 

"Maybe… they don't want to 'deal' with him," Stiles says slowly. "What if they want him alive?"

 

"For what though?" Derek asks.

 

Stiles doesn't have an answer for that.

 

***

 

Despite the tension and worry hanging over everyone, the rest of the day passes by fairly uneventfully.

 

Jackson eventually goes back home to his parents, though not before Derek extracts a promise from him to check in often. Stiles is a bit worried for him when he leaves, not sure what Jackson's told his parents yet, if he's even told them anything, and what that means for them all in the long run.

 

Allison decides to stay at Stiles', much to the very vocal displeasure of both her parents. There's a hushed phone conversation that Stiles can't hear and Derek consciously doesn't listen to, so Stiles has no idea what Allison says to her parents, but Chris Argent shows up that afternoon with a packed bag for her and a scowl for everyone else.

 

Scott also decides to stay. And Stiles can't quite figure out if it's because he wants to stay close to the sheriff (because of the investigation into the kidnapping and because he needs a familiar adult to be around right now), or to stay close to Allison (who he still seems hell-bent on wanting to get back with, whether Allison wants it or not) (she doesn't want).

 

Peter is still basically in the wind, which concerns Stiles a bit, but Derek doesn't seem too bothered by it so Stiles decides to just take cues from him and not worry about it.

 

Allison temporarily sets up camp in Stiles' bedroom and refuses to let Scott sleep on the floor in there like Jackson had done the night before, relegating him back to the living room couch. Which he is not happy about. Stiles and Derek share the air mattress in the nursery again.

 

***

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

All good here, for the record

 

From: Derek Hale

Good

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Have you seen Peter at all today?

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

Not me, but my dad did I think

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

He's been pissy all afternoon

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Yikes

 

From: Allison Argent

Peter told him?

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Peter definitely told him

 

***

 

Stiles drives Allison and Scott to school Monday morning and it's a tense ride. Stiles doesn't bother dropping them off at the front entrance, instead just going directly to the back parking lot where they find Jackson waiting for them.

 

"Hey," Stiles greets, jumping out of the Jeep. "Ready for your first day of school as a mythical-but-not-really creature?"

 

"I'm so excited I could puke," Jackson deadpans.

 

"That's the spirit," Stiles says. He gets Noah from his carseat as Scott and Allison exit the Jeep. "I'll see you guys later." They walk into the building and go their separate ways. After Stiles drops Noah off at the daycare and crosses through the administration offices and into the school proper, the first thing he notices are memorial posters for Harris proclaiming the news of his passing and how missed he will be by the Beacon Hills High students and staff (Stiles gives a disbelieving snort at that). There's also notices about a memorial to be held in the gym that afternoon to honour Harris' memory. Stiles will absolutely be skipping that.

 

The second thing Stiles notices is what seems to be a confrontation in progress further down the hall that involves Jackson, Scott, Allison, Lydia, and Isaac Lahey.

 

"Oh, balls," Stiles says, and immediately rushes over.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Students seem to be quickly gathering, often appearing from seemingly out of nowhere, to watch whatever drama is about to play out. All these extra bodies make it harder for Stiles to reach his packmates and friend, and the closer he gets the more he has to start actually shoving people out of his way.

 

The excited murmurings of the students around him don't do anything to cover up the rising voices at the epicenter of the upcoming disaster.

 

"This is getting to be long past ridiculous." Lydia's voice, irritated. "You've already made your point. Both of you. So you can just stop this now."

 

"I really have no idea what you're talking about." Jackson's voice, strained.

 

"I thought you said you weren't dating anyone." Isaac Lahey's voice, confused.

 

"Why does no one believe me when I say I'm not dating Jackson!?" Allison's voice, angry. "This is what's getting to be 'long past ridiculous'." Stiles finally pushes through the last barrier of students and stumbles right into the middle of whatever is happening, knocking into Allison.

 

"Stiles!" Allison exclaims.

 

"You know you guys are attracting an audience, right?" Stiles asks.

 

"We noticed," Jackson says.

 

"Just checking," Stiles says.

 

"Can we help you, Stiles?" Lydia asks. She's standing a little apart from the group with her arms crossed over her chest and looking at Stiles like he's something unpleasant that she's just stepped in. For maybe the first time ever, getting a look like that from her doesn't make Stiles feel small or defensive. He just feels annoyed. Like, who is she of all people to treat Stiles like he's done something wrong, just by being there?

 

"Just checking out that my friends don't need my help here," Stiles says. Lydia rolls her eyes. Maybe at Stiles, maybe at the whole situation.

 

"We're fine, Stiles," Scott says. And he's not even looking in Stiles' direction, he's starting at Isaac Lahey, who's fidgeting nervously and whose gaze keeps darting back and forth between Allison and Scott. Stiles makes eye contact with both Jackson and Allison, who look annoyed but otherwise in control of the situation. So Stiles backs off a bit to join the crowd of spectators. Whatever's going on here isn't about him, so he'll just stay on the sidelines in case he's needed.

 

"Is all this really necessary?" Allison asks, waving a hand around. "Do we really need an audience for this?"

 

"It kept you from avoiding me again, didn't it?" Lydia asks.

 

"Maybe you should've just taken the hint?" Jackson asks.

 

"We need to talk," Lydia says.

 

"There's really nothing else I have to say to you," Jackson says. "I'm pretty sure I covered everything I had to when I broke up with you."

 

"Look," Lydia says. "We both know you didn't mean all that. You were just angry."

 

"Of course I was angry!" Jackson exclaims. "I'm still angry!" Stiles can almost feel the anticipation in the crowd around him. Even he's not entirely sure how or why, but Lydia and Jackson are still the school's hottest couple even though they're no longer a couple. To the other students, this is probably just another saga in the Lydia & Jackson show that's been happening for years. But Stiles is pretty sure that this is actually the series finale.

 

For all their ups and downs and stunts over the years, Stiles is pretty sure that Lydia went too far when she slept with him to hurt Jackson. That was the beginning of the end. And her making out with Scott for the same reason, while also screwing over her newest friend in the process, just showed that Lydia had learned nothing.

 

"Jackson," Lydia says.

 

"No," Jackson says. "I'm done. How do you expect me to actually trust you after what you did?"

 

"I already apologized," Lydia says. "You need to get over it."

 

"No, I don't," Jackson says. "And you apologized after Stilinski, but then you went and pulled the same shit with McCall." A gasp ripples through the assembled crowd. Stiles wonders where the teachers are. Lydia glares at Jackson and then at the nearest students.

 

"I did not pull the 'same shit' with Scott," Lydia says. Jackson waves a hand at her dismissively.

 

"You didn't sleep with him," he says. "But you still cheated on me with him. Because I was maybe going to not be the best player on the team anymore? What the hell, Lydia?"

 

"I deserve the best," Lydia says simply.

 

"You deserve something, all right," Jackson says. "You should've just kept McCall."

 

"Hey!" Scott buts in, and all attention turns to him. Stiles can't be the only one who finds this whole situation absurd, but he'd be lying if he didn't say that he also really wants to see how this all ends.

 

"Scott's already spoken for," Lydia says.

 

"Who by?" Allison asks. Which gets a reaction from the crowd. They're starting to sound like a live studio audience on a teenage sitcom. Scott turns a confused look on Allison, who just regards him coolly. "Because it's not by me. I already told you I wouldn’t put up with something like this from a boyfriend."

 

"But Allison--"

 

"But nothing," Allison says. "I deserve better. Jackson deserves better. You two" - she points between Scott and Lydia - "deserve each other. I'm done here. Isaac, walk me to class?" She doesn't wait for Lahey to answer, just turns and starts walking off as students move out of her way. Lahey gives Scott one last nervous glance before following after her. Stiles resists the urge to start a round of applause. He's pretty sure Scott wouldn't appreciate it. Lydia stares after Allison, before turning back to Jackson.

 

"Told you I wasn't dating her," he says. "I'm not not getting back with you because I'm with Allison. I'm not getting back with you because you're a horrible, manipulative person and that's not something I'm looking for in a romantic relationship."

 

"Mic drop," Stiles mutters, because he can't help himself. Jackson, who of course hears it, rolls his eyes at him.

 

"Hey! What's going on out here?" A teacher suddenly - finally - appears on the scene and everyone starts scattering. Lydia gives Jackson one last scathing look and marches off, head held high. Stiles sidles up to Jackson.

 

"So, how are we feeling?" he asks. Jackson just gives him a look.

 

***

 

Stiles overhears people talking about Jackson and Lydia all day. Just little bits here and there, just enough to know that they're hot gossip. Again. Stiles even hears his own name a few times, along with 'the baby', and isn't entirely sure he wants to know what people are saying about Noah. Only one person, a freshman girl he doesn't really know, is brave enough to actually approach him.

 

"Um… Is it true that Lydia Martin had your baby because Jackson wouldn't let her have his?" she asks timidly. Stiles, in a rush to get to the bathroom before he heads to the daycare for lunch, almost walks into a wall in his shock. While standing still.

 

"Um, no," he says. "That's not what happened. I need to, yeah, I'm going." He points vaguely in the direction he'd been heading in and then scurries off.

 

***

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

So the rumour gossip generator mill has gone completely insane

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

You have no idea

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Someone legit just asked me if Lydia got pregnant by me on purpose

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

Oh, you got one of the tamer ones

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Wat

 

From: Allison Argent

Lucky you didn't hear about the sex trading thing

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

WAT!?!?!!?!?!?!!?!!?!?!

 

From: Derek Hale

What the hell is going on I thought you guys were in school!?

 

***

 

To: Daddio

On the off chance that anyone asks, I'm not running a sex trading party arrangement out of our house

 

From: Daddio

I'm going to pretend I didn't just read that

 

***

 

From: Allison Argent

Just a heads up, I might have gotten into it with Lydia again and maybe might have called her a rapist

 

From: Allison Argent

Like, to her face, just in case she says something to you about it

 

To: Allison Argent

Oh goody

 

From: Allison Argent

Sorry :(

 

***

 

"Stiles!"

 

Stiles halts in his tracks in the middle of the school hallway. He almost made it to the end of the day without having to deal with Lydia. Classes are over and he's just on his way to pick up Noah. So close.

 

"Hey, Lydia," Stiles says on a sigh. Might as well get this over with.

 

"What the hell is wrong with you!?" Lydia demands. She marches right up to him and stops just short of actually getting in his face. Luckily, the hallway seems fairly deserted at the moment. The memorial for Harris hasn't let out yet, so the only people around are the few people who've managed to skip it. A couple of students glance back at them as they walk past, but no one stops.

 

"Um…" Stiles says. "You might wanna be a bit more specific."

 

"Allison told me that you're saying that I raped you!?" Lydia asks, lowering her voice to a near-whisper.

 

"I don't think I used those exact words," Stiles says, wondering if it would be worth it to just take off running. "But basically, yeah."

 

"I did not rape you, Stiles," Lydia seethes. "You--"

 

"Stop," Stiles says, holding up a hand. "Just stop. I know you're not stupid. You know that what you did to me wasn't cool, or even a little bit above board. A lot of people probably wouldn't come right out and call it rape, but at the very least it wasn't totally consensual."

 

"I remember you consenting just fine at the time," Lydia says defensively.

 

"Consent based on a lie doesn’t count," Stiles says. "You think I would've agreed to anything that happened if I knew what was really going on?"

 

"You're trying to tell me that you would've actually passed up a chance to have sex with me after all the time you spent obsessed with me?" Lydia asks with a smirk.

 

"Yeah, I would've," Stiles says. "I was in love with you. Or, at least, I thought I was. I didn't want you unless you really wanted me too. And I thought you did. But the joke was on me, wasn't it?" Lydia scowls, but doesn't say anything.

 

"You and I both know that if our genders were reversed people would look at it differently," Stiles continues. "And we'd be having a different conversation right now And my dad would probably be on your ass about it. Both in a parental and lawman capacity." Lydia narrows her eyes at him, but still doesn't say anything. Stiles is sure he's made his point. Whether or not Lydia actually feels bad about what she did, she knows Stiles' feelings on the subject.

 

"Anyway," Stiles says, turning around. "I have to go pick up my son." He walks away, and Lydia doesn't try to stop him.

 

***

 

Jackson and Allison are waiting at the Jeep when Stiles comes out of school with Noah. With them is Isaac Lahey and Peter Hale. Stiles actually pauses in surprise on the school steps, but not for too long. Peter waves.

 

"Hi, what is happening here?" he asks. Noah must recognize Peter because he makes a cooing noise and flaps a hand at him in greeting. Peter wiggles his fingers at him in return. Stiles watches this play out in confused amusement.

 

"I told Isaac we might be able to give him a ride home," Allison says. She slants a look at Peter. "That one I can't explain."

 

"I was just in the neighbourhood," Peter says.

 

"Of course you were," Stiles says. There's a stack of books on the ground by Peter's feet. Stiles points to it with his free hand. "What are those?"

 

"I come bearing gifts," Peter says.

 

"What did you do?" Stiles asks.

 

"Why, Stiles, I'm offended that you ever thought I would do anything untoward," Peter says, a hand going to his chest in mock-offense. Allison disguises a laugh as a cough and Jackson rolls his eyes. Isaac peers nervously at everyone.

 

"Maybe I should just get the bus after all," he says.

 

"It's fine, just get in the Jeep," Allison tells him. "Don't mind Peter, he's just being weird." Isaac looks nervously at Stiles, who nods, before even approaching the Jeep. He opens the door on the carseat side and just stands there in confusion.

 

"Just climb over it," Stiles tells him. "It's anchored in there pretty good." Isaac does as he's told. Stiles turns to Peter. "Explain."

 

"In all seriousness, my family had some old tomes on the subject of your… abilities," Peter says. "Thought you might get some use out of them. Call it a gesture of goodwill." Stiles blinks at him in surprise.

 

"Thanks," he says. "They aren't cursed, are they?"

 

"Just a little dusty," Peter says. Stiles nods.

 

"Cool," he says. "So where've you been hiding yourself lately?"

 

"Around," Peter says, smirking.

 

"Right on," Stiles says.

 

"And with that, I must be off," Peter says. "Things to do and whatnot." He turns and starts walking away. In the direction of the woods. Stiles squints after him.

 

"I don't agree at all with Scott that Peter's the bad guy, or anything. Anymore," he says. "But can we all agree that he's really weird?"

 

"Yep," Allison says.

 

"Speaking of McCall," Jackson says. "Where the hell is he?"

 

"I haven't seen him lately," Stiles says, he turns and starts buckling Noah into his carseat. "We can wait here for him for a few minutes."

 

"I'm gonna go on ahead," Jackson says. "I have to talk to Derek about something."

 

"We'll see you later then," Stiles says.

 

***

 

In the end, Scott doesn't turn up even after Stiles waits an extra 15 minutes. He eventually just leaves because he needs to get Noah home. Scott knows what time he needs to be in the parking lot if he wants a ride, and he should know enough to text if he's going to be late, so Stiles doesn't feel bad about leaving without him.

 

He makes a detour to drop off Isaac, who lives in Jackson's neighbourhood, and then heads straight for home.

 

"So you're going out with Isaac Lahey now?" Stiles asks Allison, who's sitting in the passenger seat.

 

"Not yet," Allison says. "But I'll have to ask him out if he won't ask me himself. He's a bit shy."

 

"Perpetually nervous, I'd call it," Stiles says.

 

"Do you know him well?" Allison asks.

 

"Not really," Stiles says. "He mostly keeps to himself. I think his dad used to be the swim coach at school years ago. But now he just works in the graveyard. Or he owns the graveyard. Or something graveyard-related."

 

"Right," Allison says. "So what do you think is in the books Peter gave you?"

 

"Hopefully they're about magic," Stiles says.

 

"Like spell books?" Allison asks.

 

"That would be awesome," Stiles says.

 

***

 

Allison volunteers to take Noah into the house while Stiles grabs the diaper bag and the books. Derek meets them at the front door.

 

"What are those?" he asks.

 

"Gesture of goodwill from Peter," Stiles says. Noah makes grabby-hands at Derek and Allison passes him over. Once they're all in the house with the front door closed behind them, Derek flashes his eyes at Noah, who giggles and babbles out a string of gibberish. Derek turns back to Stiles.

 

"Those books smell like they're covered in dust," Derek says. Stiles' phone rings before he can say anything about that. Caller ID says it's Scott. Stiles accepts the call.

 

"Finally, where the hell--"

 

"Stiles!" Scott sounds frantic. "Stiles! I need help! I'm in trouble here! You have to send Derek to help me! Please!"

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles paces tight circles in the living room. Noah watches avidly from his playpen, probably assuming that Stiles is playing some kind of game. Allison is sitting rigidly on the couch, a terrifying-looking crossbow lying across her lap.

 

"Have you ever actually shot anyone with that thing?" Stiles had asked when she'd first produced it from his bedroom.

 

"Not on purpose," Allison had admitted. "But it's better than nothing."

 

Jackson and Derek aren't there. Because they'd run out as soon as they'd gotten more information from Scott on his distress call. Because Scott is in trouble. And Stiles had just spend the last hour or so being pissy because he'd been late catching a ride home and hadn't let them know about it.

 

It turns out the reason he hadn't called is because he's been taken. He's in danger. And god only knows what's happened to him since Stiles last saw him.

 

Stiles feels like shit.

 

The sheriff and Chris Argent are also on their way to help with the rescue. Stiles had called his dad before Derek and Jackson had even had the chance to slam the front door behind themselves.

 

Stiles is frustrated that he's forced to stay behind, but his job now is to keep Noah safe. Scott hadn't said one way or the other, but Stiles is pretty sure that the Argents have finally made their next move by taking him. No one's sure if they'll stoop so low as to come after Noah (after all, they did kidnap Scott's mother), but Stiles can't take that chance.

 

Allison had volunteered to stay with Stiles, and Stiles is grateful for her presence because he's pretty sure he'd go crazy waiting here alone.

 

Stiles is making another turn of the living room when his phone rings. He trips over his own feet in surprise and goes crashing to the floor. His phone is sitting on the coffee table and Allison reaches over and answers the call on speaker.

 

"Stiles?" The sheriff's voice fills the room. Noah perks up in interest.

 

"Dad?" Stiles asks, crawling over to the coffee table. "What's going on? Did you find Scott yet? Where's Derek?"

 

"Stiles, calm down and listen to me," the sheriff says. Stiles claps a hand over his mouth, heart pounding in his chest. "We checked out the address Scott gave us. There was a convoluted paper trail, but in the end it turns out that the property is owned by the Argents. We're not sure what we're walking into here, but we all need to be extremely careful. All of us."

 

"Right," Stiles says.

 

"Do you remember the combination to my bedroom safe?" The sheriff asks. Stiles' entire body flushes cold and then hot. It suddenly gets a little harder to breathe. He looks up at Allison, who's staring back at him with wide eyes.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says shakily. "Yeah, I remember it." The combination to the bedroom safe is his mother's birthday, not something Stiles could ever bring himself to forget even if he tried. Over the years his father had drilled into him that the extra gun (unrelated to any of the service weapons he's had over the years that live in the gun safe in the downstairs office) he keeps in there is absolutely not a toy and only to be even acknowledged in extreme emergencies.

 

Looks like that time has finally come.

 

"Okay," the sheriff says. "Don't open the door to anyone who isn't myself or pack. Anyone comes sniffing around, you get into the safe. I know Allison is armed. Your job right now is to protect yourselves and Noah."

 

"Dad, what's going on?" Stiles asks.

 

"I don't know yet," the sheriff says. "But I'm not taking any chances. They took Melissa and now they have Scott. Who knows how far they'll go to do whatever it is they're determined to do here. Lock all the doors and stay away from the windows. I'll call you back when I know more." He ends the call. Stiles and Allison share a quick look, and then they're bursting into motion.

 

Allison checks the doors and windows while Stiles grabs Noah from the playpen and takes him upstairs to his father's bedroom. He closes the blinds, plunging the room into gloom, and settles with Noah on the edge of the bed. Allison joins him a few minutes later, crossbow and all, and sits next to him on the bed.

 

"I locked all the doors and windows," she says. "Did you get whatever's in the safe?"

 

"Not yet," Stiles says. "I'd like to leave that for a last resort." He doesn't feel comfortable having a loaded gun loose in the room with the baby. Allison's crossbow makes him paranoid enough.

 

"How fast can you get it open?" Allison asks.

 

"Pretty quick," Stiles says. "But let's hope it doesn't come to that."

 

They settle down to wait.

 

***

 

Stiles is thinking about heading down to the kitchen for food when the doorbell suddenly rings.

 

He and Allison stare at each other with wide eyes.

 

Neither of them have heard from anyone since the sheriff's phone call. They aren't expecting anyone back.

 

"What do we do?" Stiles whispers.

 

"I'll go check it out," Allison says, raising her crossbow. "You hear anything even slightly weird and you go for the safe." Stiles nods. He darts his eyes to the nightstand on the right side of the bed, the side his father's always slept on. The safe with the emergency gun lives in the bottom cabinet.

 

Allison leaves the room on silent feet, leaving the door open behind her. Stiles tucks Noah close to his chest and kneels down on the floor next to the nightstand with the safe, one hand on the baby and one hand on the cabinet doorknob.

 

He barely breathes as he waits to hear any sign from downstairs. A minute or two – that feels like much longer – passes and then Stiles hears Allison coming back, sounding like she's not even trying to be quiet. She appears in the doorway to the room.

 

"It's Peter," she says. "He started talking at me through the door before I even tried to get a peek out the window. He knows we're here."

 

"What does he want?" Stiles asks.

 

"He says he's getting distress signals through the pack bonds," Allison says. "Wants to know what's going on. I didn't know he was pack."

 

"I think right now he's only really pack with Derek through family ties or something," Stiles says. If Peter's feeling distress through the bonds, Derek must be in some real trouble. "Shit."

 

"What should we do?" Allison asks. Stiles agonizes over it for a minute. Up until very recently, Stiles has considered Peter as the villain in this new supernatural skirmish he's found himself in. But ever since Kate Argent's death at his hands, Peter hasn't really felt like a threat. There've been countless time since then where Peter could've ended them all. Instead, he transferred his alpha power to Derek and then just stayed away. Sure, Peter can be a bit of an asshole (what with biting Jackson, dropping the adoption bombshell on him, and also not asking Derek before transferring the alpha power, and just being plain old smarmy a lot of the time), but Stiles is pretty sure he's actually on their side. Or, at least, on Derek's.

 

"Tell him where they all went," Stiles says. "I think we can trust him on this." Allison studies him for a full minute before nodding and going back downstairs. Stiles hopes he's made the right choice.

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Sending Peter your way

 

To: Daddio

Be safe

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale, Jackson Whittemore, ScottBro

Peter on his way to you

 

To: Derek Hale, Jackson Whittemore, ScottBro

Be safe

 

***

 

Stiles and Allison are in the kitchen scrounging up something to eat. They're doing their best to move around with only minimal lighting on. It's grown dark outside, and Stiles would like to keep giving the impression that there's no one home. Allison is taking plates out of the microwave and Stiles is rounding up baby food jars one-handed while Noah whines against his shoulder.

 

Loud pounding suddenly sounds on the kitchen door and Stiles jumps about a foot. He manages to not accidentally send Noah and the baby food flying across the kitchen. Allison freezes in front of the microwave, frozen dinners in her hands. She and Stiles stare at each other in the dim light before turning as one to face the door. Which gets another pounding.

 

"I know someone's there! I can see the lights! Open up!" It's a man's voice, one that Stiles doesn't immediately recognize, though he thinks it sounds a bit familiar. The pounding comes again and then Noah starts crying.

 

"Shit! Now what!?" Stiles asks, jigging Noah up and down in an attempt to calm him. Noah isn't having it though, and starts wailing. Allison abandons dinner and grabs her crossbow from the kitchen table. She marches towards the door as Stiles escapes into the hallway. There's no way he can hide with a crying baby, but this'll at least give him a head start if he needs it. Stiles strains to hear what's going on in the kitchen, but he can't over the sound of Noah's cries and his own shushing noises.

 

"You can come back, Stiles," Allison says, after a minute of non-activity. "It's only Jackson's dad."

 

"What?" Stiles asks. He goes back into the kitchen to find Mr Whittemore standing in the open kitchen doorway, hands up in the air as Allison stands in front of him aiming her crossbow directly at his chest.

 

"No, really, what?" Stiles asks. Stiles grabs a rusk biscuit to distract Noah with. Thankfully it works and Noah jams the biscuit in his mouth, gumming it while laying his head on Stiles' shoulder with tears still clinging to his lashes. He looks deceptively adorable like this.

 

"I'm looking for Jackson," Mr Whittemore says, not taking his eyes off Allison's crossbow. "I thought he might be here again."

 

"He isn't," Allison says.

 

"Can you please put that down?" Mr Whittemore asks. Allison slowly lowers the crossbow, though not all the way. "What the hell is going on here? Where's Jackson?"

 

"Uh... we don't know," Stiles says. "He's... out. With Derek."

 

"Derek Hale?" Mr Whittemore asks.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "Look, not to be completely rude or anything, but can you just go?"

 

"Excuse me?" Mr Whittemore asks.

 

"Please leave," Allison says, raising the crossbow a little.

 

"We'll tell Jackson you're looking for him next time we see him," Stiles says.

 

"Okay, no, listen to me," Mr Whittemore says, raising his voice and taking a step into the house. "I'm not-- Whoa!" Allison raises the crossbow and aims it at Mr Whittemore's face. Mr Whittemore pales and stumbles back until he's back outside.

 

"Leave," Allison orders him.

 

"I will be talking to your father about this, Stiles," Mr Whittemore says, backing away. "Whatever it is you're mixed up in, whatever you've gotten my son mixed up in, I am going to put a stop to it. Mark my words." Allison slams the door shut and locks it. Both Allison and Stiles are quiet as they listen to Mr Whittemore walk off. They scramble to the living room in time to see him get into his car and drive away. Stiles turns to Allison.

 

"Have I ever told you that you're terrifying?" he asks.

 

She smiles sweetly at him. With dimples.

 

***

 

Stiles is planning on maybe giving Noah a bath, just for something to do, when his phone rings. He scrambles to answer it, and Allison crowds him as he puts the call on speaker.

 

"Stiles." It's the sheriff speaking in a whisper, which instantly causes Stiles' anxiety to ratchet up.

 

"Dad?" Stiles asks. "Where are you? What's happening?"

 

"No time for that right now, Stiles," the sheriff says. "I need you all to get out of the house. It's not safe. I'm gonna text you an address. Go there. Don't take the Jeep, it's too recognizable."

 

"Dad, what--"

 

"Hurry up! And, whatever you do, don't stop for any cop cars."

 

The call ends.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles scrambles around to re-pack Noah's diaper bag. He has no idea what they'll need or how long they'll be gone, so he figures he'll just take as many things as he can fit and hope for the best. Allison follows him around with Noah, who seems to be enjoying this new game of 'rushing around the house with Daddy', if the giggling is anything to go by.

 

At least one of them is having a good time.

 

"How are we supposed to get to wherever we're going without taking your Jeep?" Allison asks. "This address is in a completely different part of town."

 

"We'll get to Scott's house and take his mother's car," Stiles says, cramming extra diapers into the diaper bag because you never know. "It's close enough to walk to easily enough, and hopefully no one will be expecting us to try to get there."

 

"Okay," Allison says. "Do you have keys for the car?"

 

"No, but I know how to hotwire it," Stiles says.

 

"A good skill to have, I suppose," Allison says. Stiles' last stop is up in his father's bedroom. Stiles opens the nightstand cabinet door, revealing the safe. He quickly spins the combination in the lock and pulls the safe open. The emergency gun is on the top shelf. Stiles pulls it out with shaking hands, loads it, makes sure the safety is on, then tucks it in the back of his jeans. He closes the safe and the cabinet and stands.

 

"Alright, let's go," he says. Allison takes the diaper bag and a duffle bag of her own (that makes soft 'clanking' sounds that Stiles doesn't ask about) and arranges the straps on her person while Stiles bundles Noah into his puffy winter snowsuit and hat.

 

"Okay," Stiles tells Noah, popping a pacifier in his mouth and hoping it stays there. "We all have to be very quiet right now, because we're in some real trouble here and need to be sneaky. Can you be sneaky for Daddy and Allison?" Noah makes a brief 'gheee' sound from behind the pacifier but otherwise stays quiet. Stiles doesn't believe for a second that Noah understands what he's just said, but he hopes for the best anyway.

 

He hugs Noah to his chest and follows Allison out of the house, only pausing long enough to lock the front door before sneaking off into the dark.

 

***

 

Driving to Scott's house takes maybe less than five minutes. Walking, via the sidewalks, takes about ten minutes. Sneaking through people's back yards, trying to avoid automatic lights and being careful to not trip over anything in the dark and make any noise, takes about twenty.

 

To Noah's credit, he doesn't make any sound louder than a soft garbled babble around his pacifier, but Stiles is absolutely on edge the whole time. His heart is beating a mile a minute and he feels like he's about to pass out from the stress alone by the time he and Allison make it to the McCalls' backyard.

 

The McCall house is dark, but Stiles has the paranoid thought that it doesn't mean that the house is empty (hadn't he and Allison just been hiding out in his own house with the lights off pretending to not be there?).  Through a series of over-the-top hand signals and frowning, Stiles gets Allison to follow him across the dark yard and stick close to the house to circle around to the front.

 

Stiles is pretty sure he'll never be able to watch a spy movie again without getting nervous sweats.

 

They both crouch down in the bushes at the front of the house and take stock of the front street and neighbouring houses. There aren't any people outside, and Stiles hasn't heard a car drive by in a while. They wait a few minutes, straining to listen for any out of place sounds, before eventually deeming it safe and running for Mrs McCall's car, parked in the driveway relatively close to the house.

 

They're both out in the open now, and Stiles hopes that his car hotwiring skills are still as good as they were back when he'd first learned how to do it. The car ends up being unlocked, and Stiles feels a pang of anxiety at the thought that he hadn't even thought of that earlier and thus had absolutely no plans for what to do if the car had ended up being locked. Smashing a window would've brought so much unwanted attention, and also damaged the car, but he guarantees that's all he would've been able to come up with.

 

He opens the driver's side door and ushers Allison in first. She crawls over the driver's seat and center console and into the passenger seat, then accepts Noah when Stiles passes him to her. Then Stiles gets into the driver's seat, doing his best to ignore the unfamiliar feel of the gun pressing into his lower back, and produces a screwdriver from his jacket pocket.

 

That's when he notices the keys hanging in the ignition.

 

"You've gotta be fucking kidding me," he blurts out.

 

"What's wrong?" Allison asks.

 

"Nothing, for once," Stiles says. "But Scott left the keys in the ignition." He and Allison both stare at the keys for a second before bursting into hysterical giggles. Noah joins in for a bit, clapping his mittened hands in delight.

 

Normally, Stiles would get on Scott's case for making it so damn easy to still his mother's car, but this isn't normal and Stiles is grateful for Scott's absent-mindedness because he is, in fact, stealing Mrs McCall's car and Scott just made it that much easier for him.

 

Stiles starts the car and starts reversing out of the driveway. He checks the rear-view mirror and immediately notices some activity in the window in the house across the street.

 

"Shit," Stiles says. "I think we've been made."

 

"What?" Allison asks. "By who?" Stiles gestures to the rear-view mirror as he backs out onto the street and hits the gas, tires squealing as he speeds off.

 

"Nosy neighbour," Stiles says. "I've had run-ins with her before. I bet you anything she's on the phone with the cops right now, reporting a stolen car."

 

"Dammit," Allison says, gripping tight to Noah and Stiles takes a corner slightly too fast. "Now what."

 

"We need to ditch the car," Stiles says. "Find a public place closest to where we're going, ditch the car in the parking lot, and go the rest of the way on foot."

 

"This stuff is way more exciting when it's happening to people in the movies," Allison says. "At least then I just have to watch it all happening from the comfort of my own couch."

 

"Mood," Stiles says.

 

***

 

The closer they get to the address the sheriff had sent them, the more it looks like they're getting into the more industrial part of town. Less housing and restaurants and playgrounds and convenience stores, more empty businesses and garages and parts supply stores.

 

Allison manages to spot a bar with a parking lot that looks like it might be filling up. Stiles pulls in as far away from the actual building as he can while still not parking in total darkness. He and Allison get out, making sure to take the keys and lock the doors (Stiles doesn't want Mrs McCall's car to actually get stolen), and start walking.

 

There doesn't seem to be a lot of street lighting, and Stiles isn't totally familiar with this area, so this walk is about ten times more creepy then the walk to the McCalls'. Allison pulls out her crossbow and Stiles makes sure that he has easy access to his gun. Even without the Argents, their cronies, or apparently dirty cops possibly after them, this seems like an overall good place to get mugged.

 

His dad must've really though they weren't safe at the house if he was fine sending them both out here.

 

"I can't really figure out where we're supposed to be hiding out around here," Stiles brings up at one point, about five minutes into the walk. Wherever they're going, he hopes it isn't too much farther because Noah is starting to get fussy.

 

"Well, at least no one will think to look for us out here where we have no business being," Allison says. "Not until someone finds the car, anyway."

 

"Hopefully that'll take them a while depending on what my dad has the deputies doing right now," Stiles says. "Though, I wonder if it'll complicate things that the car belongs to a missing person."

 

"Either way, once this is all over, your dad is gonna deserve one hell of a vacation," Allison says.

 

"He's gonna deserve a pay raise and a goddamn medal," Stiles says.

 

***

 

The bar is long out of sight, street lamps are mere suggestions, and Noah is making sounds like crying is about to happen soon.

 

Stiles almost does start crying when Allison suddenly points directly ahead and says "I think that's it!"

 

Stiles double-checks their position on Google Maps and finds out that, yes, that is it.

 

And "it" turns out to be an abandoned-looking apartment complex straight out of an indie horror game, especially in the current lighting (which is almost no lighting).

 

"Oh god, we're gonna die," Stiles says. "There's no way there aren't ghosts or monsters or an escaped serial killer hiding out in there."

 

"Come on," Allison says, but she still leads the way with her crossbow aimed in front of her.

 

The building isn't any less scary up close, and even Allison pauses briefly before leading the way inside. The inside of the building is as rundown as the outside, only with less weather damage. The outside door doesn't seem to lock, which makes Stiles incredibly nervous, so he figures they should get as far away from it as possible.

 

"Up as high as we can get," Stiles tells Allison, leading the way to a stair case on one side of the lobby.

 

"Your dad never specified where in the building we're supposed to stay?" Allison asks.

 

"Nope," Stiles says. They keep climbing the stairs until they reach the top floor, which turns out to be a loft apartment that seems to take up the entire floor. The giant metal sliding door is open when they get there, so Allison makes it a point to check the entire place out before she allows Stiles to close and lock the door.

 

The only light coming in is moonlight and faint street light coming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows along one of the walls. Otherwise they're in darkness. Stiles quickly moves away from the windows and into what looks like a kitchen, where he feels safer pulling out his flashlight for a quick look around.

 

The kitchen is bare, but not completely dusty, which means that someone has been here recently.

 

"I think someone lives here," Stiles tells Allison when she joins him in the kitchen. Allison holds up a dusty old book not unlike the ones Peter had given to Stiles.

 

"I think this is where Peter's been staying," she says.

 

"Huh," Stiles says. He sits Noah on one of the kitchen counters and starts removing his outerwear. "So what do we do now? Just wait here?" Allison checks something on her crossbow.

 

"Looks like it," she says.

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Made it

 

To: Daddio

Also if you get a report about a stolen car that was probably us

 

***

 

The apartment is eerily quiet, and neither Stiles nor Allison feel comfortable making any noise. Even whispering feels too loud for Stiles. He's glad that Noah, after a snack and a diaper change, eventually falls asleep in his arms. Stiles takes him up to the loft, where Stiles and Allison discover a large new-looking bed, so that's where they decide to set up camp. There isn't much for windows up here, just a skylight, so Stiles has no problem using the flashlights freely up here.

 

If Stiles weren't so wound up and worried, he might be bored, but he's too stressed to be bored.

 

He hasn't heard from anyone in hours, and thus has no idea what's actually happening with anyone. He won't know for a while if something goes wrong, and he doesn't really know who to turn to if it does. He's long gotten used to waiting up for his dad and being worried about whether he'd make it home from work, especially if there was something dangerous going on (though, Beacon Hills as a rule generally didn't get too exciting) (until now), but he's not used to basically everyone he cares for being in danger.

 

His dad, Mrs McCall, Scott, Derek, Jackson.

 

That's too many people to be in danger of losing all at once.

 

He can't imagine Allison has it any easier. She's already lost an aunt, and her family is all tangled up in this mess. And it's even possible that Stiles' dad's safety might come at the expense of Allison's family's safety.

 

It's a tricky situation.

 

***

 

With neither Allison nor Stiles talking, moving, or doing much more than breathing, it's deadly silent in the loft. In the whole building, really.

 

It would be almost peaceful in different circumstances, but at most Stiles can only really consider it useful. There's no traffic of any kind outside, so it's easy to keep track of the environment by sound alone.

 

The sound of an approaching vehicle is almost as loud as a gunshot after so long in silence.

 

Stiles and Allison look at each other in the dark. They both hold their breaths as they listen, not moving until they hear the sounds of the vehicle pulling up to the building and stopping. Only then does Allison roll off the bed and, still with her crossbow, heads for the stairs. Stiles takes Noah and tucks them both to the floor beside the bed, one hand on the gun in his waistband.

 

His heart's beating so fast that he's sure he's going to have some kind of cardiac event before this is all over. Noah twitches a bit in his other arm, and Stiles sucks in a breath.

 

He listens to Allison's footsteps going down the staircase into the main apartment. But then he hears rushing footsteps coming up the main building staircase, the sound seemingly reverberating around the whole building, and then Allison is rushing back towards the bed.

 

"Oh fuck," Stiles squeaks, throat tight with terror.

 

"It sounds like only one person, though," Allison says, crouching down next to him on the floor. "We could probably take them." Stiles pulls the gun out of his waistband, careful to aim it away from himself, Noah, or Allison, and removes the safety.

 

The footsteps on the stairs get louder as whoever it is gets closer.

 

Stiles bites his lip so hard he tastes blood. Allison raises her crossbow and peeks up over the edge of the bed. The main floor of the apartment can be seen from the loft, and there's a clear view to the big metal door. Allison aims her crossbow at it and then waits. Stiles also looks, poking his head up just enough to see.

 

"The door's locked, right?" Allison whispers.

 

"Oh yeah," Stiles says emphatically.

 

"Good," Allison says, just as the footsteps reach the door.

 

Then there's a loud scraping sound as the door is unlocked from the outside.

 

"Well, fuck," Stiles says, voice edged with panic. He brings the gun in his hand up to rest on the bed, aimed at the door. His hand is shaking. It's possible the rest of him is shaking as well.

 

The metal door practically flies open with a loud screech. Noah wakes up at the sound with a loud wail. Stiles just about jumps out of his skin.

 

And then Melissa McCall stumbles into the apartment.

 

Followed by Peter Hale

 

***

***

Chapter Text

For one second, nobody moves.

 

"You can both relax," Peter announces. "I come in peace, or whatever." And then he crumples to his knees. Mrs McCall fidgets in place like she doesn't know what to do. Noah is still wailing. Stiles and Allison look at each other before getting up. Stiles engages the safety on the gun, drops it in the diaper bag, and practically races down the spiral staircase to the main apartment. Allison isn't too far behind.

 

"Mrs McCall!" Stiles exclaims.

 

"Stiles!" Mrs McCall says. She looks pretty rough. Her clothes are dirty and dishevelled, her hair is a mess, and her eyes are puffy. They shine with tears as Stiles runs to her and wraps his free arm around her.

 

"Where's everyone else?" Allison asks.

 

"They're on their way," Peter says. He, too, looks like he's had a rough time; rumpled and bloodstained and holding his side like he has a stitch.

 

"Noah's alright, is he?" Mrs McCall asks, backing out of Stiles' grip and running a hand over Noah's hair. Noah has stopped crying and is now pouting at everyone.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "Derek found him in the playpen. Whoever took you didn't know he was there."

 

"Thank god," Mrs McCall breathes. "I had no idea what happened to him. He was upstairs asleep and I was in the living room watching TV and then... I barely even know."

 

"Was it my family?" Allison asks her. Mrs McCall looks over at her, eyes sad.

 

"I didn't think so at first, because I didn't recognize the men who took me," she says. "But, yes, your grandfather planned the whole thing." Allison closes her eyes briefly.

 

"Dammit," she says. She walks away towards the kitchen and out of sight. Stiles watches her go, then turns back to Mrs McCall.

 

"So what was the big panic with us having to leave the house?" He asks.

 

"Some of the hunters got away in all the confusion," Peter pipes up. "They knew about you and the baby, and they knew that you'd most likely be home if you weren't part of the raid."

 

"Your father was afraid they'd target you directly and didn't want to take the chance of one of them reaching the house before he did," Mrs McCall adds.

 

"Raid?" Stiles asks.

 

"They had a whole compound set up," Peter says. "It was actually quite thrilling."

 

"'Thrilling' isn't quite the word I'd use," Mrs McCall mutters. Peter shrugs at her. Then he heaves himself to his feet and staggers over to a nearby couch that Stiles hadn't noticed earlier.

 

"What happened to you?" Stiles asks.

 

"I got shot," Peter says, sprawled across the couch. "Several times."

 

"And you're sure everyone is on their way here?" Stiles asks.

 

"Well, not Scott," Peter says. It's a bit hard to see in the dark, and the couch is already in shadow, but Stiles is pretty sure Peter cuts a side-eye at Mrs McCall. Stiles' heart drops in his shoes and Allison comes rushing back out of the kitchen.

 

"What happened to Scott?" Stiles asks.

 

"He's been arrested," Mrs McCall says, sounding near tears.

 

"Arrested!?" Stiles and Allison exclaim together.

 

"For what?" Stiles asks.

 

"Conspiracy to commit murder, for starters," Peter says.

 

"WHAT!?" Stiles almost shouts. Peter is stopped from elaborating on that by more footsteps pounding up the stairs. This time it sounds like multiple people.

 

"Oh god, what now?" Allison asks. Stiles reaches around his back for the gun, before remembering that he left it in the loft. He's an idiot.

 

"Relax," Peter drawls, getting up from the couch. "It's fine." Then the sheriff bursts into the room, followed closely by Derek, Jackson, Chris Argent and, for some reason, new guy Parrish. The room suddenly fills with light; Stiles spots Peter near the door with his hand on what must be a light switch.

 

"Stiles!" The sheriff exclaims, and immediately rushes over to Stiles and Noah and engulfs them in a tight hug. Over the sheriff's shoulder, he sees Allison run into Chris' arms.

 

"Dad!" Stiles exclaims, suddenly close to tears. Noah squawks. The sheriff lets go and backs up, and then suddenly Stiles is wrapped up in Derek's arms.

 

"Are you okay?" Derek asks. Stiles nods. Noah squawks again. Derek loosens his grip, but doesn't move away. His glowing red eyes rake over Stiles and Noah, apparently taking stock. Noah babbles in delight and reaches for Derek's face. Derek smiles and lets Noah pat at his cheeks.

 

"Let's not do any of this ever again," Stiles says, letting his forehead drop onto Derek's shoulder. Derek's bare shoulder. "Where's your shirt?"

 

"Don't worry about it," Derek says.

 

"If you're concerned about Derek's shirt, check Parrish out," Jackson says from nearby.

 

"What?" Stiles asks. He lifts his head up and looks for Parrish. He's still standing by the open door. In a pair of boxer shorts and nothing else. He waves awkwardly when he catches Stiles' eye. "Uh..."

 

"It's a long story," he says. "I got set on fire."

 

"Oh, is that all?" Stiles asks. Parrish shrugs. Stiles leans back to look Derek in the eye. Derek shrugs. "This was a whole night, apparently."

 

"On the bright side," Peter pipes up. "No one died. On our side anyway."

 

"What!?" Allison yelps. Chris grimaces. "What happened? Where's Mom?"

 

"Your mother's fine," Chris says. "She's probably at the station by now."

 

"Grandpa?" Allison asks.

 

"Dead," Chris says grimly. Stiles doesn't see Allison's reaction, and she doesn't say anything about it.

 

"Is it safe to go home yet?" Stiles asks.

 

"Not yet," the sheriff says. "I want you and Noah to stay here with Derek tonight. Hopefully we'll get everything sorted out tomorrow."

 

"It's still not over?" Stiles asks.

 

"We're just making sure," the sheriff says. "I don't want to take any chances. Tonight was... fucking insane." Stiles' eyebrows fly up at the swear, but he just nods.

 

"I have to go back and finish dealing with this," the sheriff says. "Melissa and Parrish have to come with me. Chris?"

 

"I'll go with you if Allison can stay here," Chris says.

 

"Of course," Derek says.

 

***

 

The sheriff, Mrs McCall, Chris, and Parrish are gone. The pack has retreated to the bed upstairs, with the exception of Peter, who seems more content to stay on the couch downstairs. Stiles can see the shape of him from his spot on the bed; Peter is sprawled across the length of the couch with an arm slung over his eyes. He looks like he could be sleeping, but Stiles doesn't think he is.

 

Noah, however, has fallen back asleep, in Derek's arms this time. Derek is sat in the middle of the bed with Stiles and Allison on either side of him and Jackson on Allison's other side. The lights are off again, but the atmosphere in the loft is much different this time around, now that Stiles isn't worried that danger is coming for them. It feels more cozy. Peaceful.

 

Stiles is so tired right now. After being on edge for so long, he's ready to just let go and fall asleep. He's almost halfway there already, cuddled under Derek's arm with his head resting on Derek's chest. Derek's still shirtless chest, which Stiles is too tired to fully appreciate. He's a bit put-out about that. Derek's skin is so smooth and warm under Stiles and Stiles wants to live here forever. Maybe they wouldn't notice if he just passed out.

 

"Why do I have a bunch of angry voicemails from my father about 'that Argent girl' threatening him with a deadly weapon?" Jackson suddenly asks. That call back to reality is enough for Stiles to shake himself more awake. Right. There's things he needs to know. Better that he's not drooling all over Derek's pecs for this.

 

"Probably because I threatened him with a deadly weapon," Allison says. She's sat up squished between Derek and Jackson. "He just showed up at the house pounding on the door and didn't leave when we asked him to. So I gave him an incentive."

 

"He said he's gonna call my dad over this," Stiles says. "Let him."

 

"So what happened with Scott?" Allison asks. "He got arrested?"

 

"Yeah!" Stiles exclaims, flapping an arm around. "What's that all about? Conspiracy for murder? Who'd he try to murder?"

 

"Me," Derek says.

 

"What." Rage fills Stiles so fast that he goes a bit light-headed. He works his jaw for a bit, trying to think of something to say to that. But all he comes out with is: "Explain."

 

"I thought he was kidnapped," Allison says.

 

"He lied," Derek says.

 

"Oh my god," Stiles says.

 

"Wait'll you hear the whole story," Peter calls from downstairs.

 

"What?" Stiles asks. He makes to sit up, but Derek holds him in place and starts running his hand up and down Stiles' back. "But, the phone call..."

 

"From what I could piece together, this is what happened," Derek says. "The Argents had Mrs McCall kidnapped and they were going to use her to lure Scott to them."

 

"But Scott didn't even think that the Argents had anything to do with it," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah, that's why they had to go to him," Jackson says. "They got him at the school, got him to leave with them."

 

"They were at the school?" Allison asks.

 

"They were that close?" Stiles asks. His heart starts pounding and he goes tense. They'd been at the school and he hadn't known. It would've been so easy for them to get to Noah if they'd thought of it. Stiles brings an arm up and clutches at Noah, who grumbles a bit in his sleep.

 

"Hey, it's okay," Derek says. "I don't think they actually went into the school." He moves his hand up to the nape of Stiles' neck and gives it a reassuring squeeze. Stiles goes practically boneless against Derek's side.

 

"They wouldn't have been allowed in," Allison says. "I'm pretty sure."

 

"Knowing McCall, they probably just called out to him and he went with them," Jackson says. "He'd probably still fall for a stranger in a van offering him candy." Stiles can't even muster up a half-hearted defense of his best friend at that. He's not feeling too friendly towards Scott right now.

 

"But if they proved that they had his mother, and threatened to do something to her if he didn't go with them, I'm pretty sure that still counts as kidnapping," Stiles says.

 

"I'll give him that, he probably didn't go with them completely willingly," Jackson says. "But he wasn't completely honest when he called you. The phone call wasn't totally for help, it was just to get Derek to him."

 

Then, with Derek and Jackson taking turns, the story as they know it comes out. How Gerard Argent ("Head asshole in charge," Peter is quick to clarify.) had been the one who'd given the orders to kidnap Mrs McCall Friday night with the express purpose of having Scott seek them out to rescue her.

 

("Guess he had no real way of knowing just how much of an Argent fanboy McCall is," Jackson snorts.)

 

Then, once Scott didn't do as he was expected and go straight to the Argents to demand his mother back, Gerard had given the order to have Scott brought to him instead. And once he had Scott, he'd apparently promised to let Mrs McCall go if Scott could get him the alpha.

 

("He meant Peter," Derek says. "He didn't know Peter had transferred the alpha power to me.")

 

So Scott had called Stiles, not having Derek's number, trying to get Derek to come rescue him. And once Gerard had Derek, Scott and Mrs McCall would be free to go according to Gerard. But neither Gerard nor Scott had expected a cavalry to show up.

 

("He definitely seemed surprised when your father and everyone else showed up," Derek says. "Clearly he was expecting only me to come to his rescue.")

 

Once it was clear that Gerard's plan had gone sideways, things had taken a bit of a turn. Guns had come out then. A lot of them.

 

("Don't forget the wolfsbane diffuser," Peter calls.

 

"The what!?" Stiles asks.)

 

Peter had been right earlier about calling the place a compound. The property was on the very outskirts of Beacon Hills and had very likely been a farm at one point.

 

("Lots of outbuildings," Derek says.)

 

It turned out that Gerard and Kate had brought several hunters with them when they first came to town. Hunters who, like them, had no interest in following a code and were more invested in ridding the world of supernaturals just because they could. Though it soon became clear that they had no idea that the local sheriff was in on the secret, which was ultimately their downfall because then they weren't just dealing with a ragtag bunch of werewolves, but also with a whole functional police department.

 

("Can we get back to the wolfsbane diffuser?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah, I think you skipped a bit there," Allison says.)

 

Victoria Argent, Allison's mother, had been holed up in one of the outbuildings, a small shed. Derek had been separated from the main group early and been lured there, aided by Scott. It had been Victoria's job to subdue Derek with a diffuser full of powdered wolfsbane, which would incapacitate him but not immediately kill him. It would've worked if not for Peter and Jackson finding out what was happening and basically smashing through the wall of the shed for a rescue.

 

("You would've probably enjoyed that, Stilinski," Jackson says. "A very 'Kool-Aid Man' moment."

 

"Who are you and what have you done with Jackson Whittemore?" Stiles asks.

 

"Shut up, it's been a long day and I'm pretty sure I nearly died tonight," Jackson says.)

 

The purpose of the whole plot had apparently been to get Gerard Argent, who had apparently been dying of cancer, the bite of an alpha werewolf to turn him and thus cure his cancer. Luckily, things never got that far.

 

("I would never had agreed to give him the bite, so they would've had to force me, and they were prepared to do it," Derek says. "I was always taught that the bite is a gift, and to be forced to do something like that against my will…")

 

The hunters had put up a fight, but had ended up either surrendering or being overpowered by the police rushing the scene. Some had escaped into the surrounding woods, prompting the sheriff to call Stiles and tell him to get out of the house and go to an address supplied by Peter for safety, and some had gotten arrested. Some had also been either killed or wounded exchanging fire with the police.

 

("Did we lose any officers?" Stiles asks.

 

"None of them died, but one of them did get arrested," Derek says.)

 

The dirty cop that had helped Kate escape on the night of the formal had turned out to be Haight, which didn't become clear right away because at first he'd arrived as part of the rescue. And then he'd blown up his cruiser with Parrish, his partner, inside it.

 

("He was fine, though," Peter pipes up. "As you saw.")

 

In all the confusion of the firefight between the police and the hunters, the Argents and the Hale pack plus Chris Argent had a confrontation that eventually ended with Gerard Argent villain monologuing his entire scheme before dying by Chris' hand, Mrs McCall eventually rescued from what might have been an outhouse at some point, and the sheriff arresting Victoria and Scott. Then they'd left the remaining deputies in charge of the scene while the sheriff and the others left to check on Stiles, Allison, and Noah.

 

***

 

Stiles feels almost winded after Derek and Jackson are finished their retelling. He's having a hard time keeping everything straight in his head, he's so tired and confused. Allison doesn't seem to be having the same problem, if her sudden tears and swearing are anything to go by.

 

"How could they do something like that!?" Allison cries. Jackson throws an arm around her shoulder and hugs her to his side. She cries softly into his shirt.

 

"But it's over now, right?" Stiles says. "We're safe now?"

 

"Yeah," Derek says. "I'm sure your dad still has a few things to tie up at the station, but we're all safe for now."

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles walks into the station the morning after the confrontation with the Argents like he's on a mission.

 

He's wearing yesterday's clothes, feels like he hasn’t slept in a week (even though he spent most of the night passed out on Derek's chest), and is pretty sure he's only being powered by his own rage.

 

He makes a beeline for the holding cells but is intercepted by the sheriff, who steers him into his office instead.

 

"What are you doing, Stiles?" the sheriff asks. He looks even worse than Stiles feels, and Stiles wonders if he'd gotten any sleep at all the night before. Maybe he should've brought him a coffee, but he hadn't thought about it. Almost immediately after waking this morning, he'd sent Derek back home with Noah before driving to the station.

 

"I want to talk to Scott," Stiles says. "I need to know why he did this." The sheriff sighs and runs a hand over his face.

 

"Stiles…" he says.

 

"I know he's probably going to feed me some bullshit," Stiles says. "But I need to hear it from him." The sheriff pins him with a look before sighing again and making a sweeping motion at the office door.

 

"Fine, I get it," he says. "But don’t stay too long in there and after this you go straight home. Go relax, spend some downtime with Noah. Have a nap maybe? After the night you've had, the night we've all had, some rest is definitely in order."

 

"What about you?" Stiles asks. "No offence, but you look like you could use the rest more than me."

 

"Har har," the sheriff says. "Once this is all wrapped up I will be taking a few days off. I think I've earned at least that much."

 

"You should ask for a raise," Stiles says.

 

"Wouldn't that be nice," the sheriff says. "Go on to the cells. Scott's in the one on the far end." When Stiles opens the door to leave the office, he comes face-to-face with Parrish. They blink at each other in surprise.

 

"Hi?" Stiles says.

 

"Hello," Parrish says. He's wearing civilian clothes and holding a take-out cup of coffee in each hand. If he didn't already know otherwise, Stiles would never even assume that he'd been set on fire just last night based on his appearance. If Stiles were in a different frame of mind he'd be all up in Parrish's business trying to figure out just how a man comes out of a burning car without a scratch on him. But he just can't seem to muster up the interest right now.

 

"I have to say, you're looking pretty good for someone who got blown up last night," Stiles says.

 

"Come on in, Parrish," the sheriff says. Stiles moves out of the way to let Parrish pass. Parrish shoots Stiles a grin that doesn't really reach his eyes.

 

"It happens," he says, and then shrugs.

 

"Shut the door behind you, Stiles," the sheriff says. "And don't stick around too long, or antagonize the others in the cells."

 

"Who, me?" Stiles asks. And laughs at his father's look of resignation as he heads out.

 

***

 

All the holding cells at the station are full, which Stiles is pretty sure he's never heard happen before.

 

He can't help but study the people in the cells as he passes them, even with most of them glaring daggers at him. They're all strangers to him, he can't even remember ever seeing them around town (not that he gets around much, but still). He doesn't see Haight, which means that he's either in the hospital or at the station in Beacon Heights. He does spot Victoria Argent in one of the cells, and she definitely doesn't look too happy to see Stiles, not that he cares much.

 

He finds Scott alone in the very last cell; the smallest cell in the station and the only one with its own dedicated security camera. Stiles wonders if the sheriff had done that on purpose because he can't trust the hunters to not do something to Scott even while they're all locked up.

 

"Stiles!" Scott exclaims happily when Stiles reaches his cell. In what seems to be a running theme for today, Scott also looks like hell. Stiles doesn't imagine that last night had been any fun for him either.

 

"Hey, Scott," Stiles says. Scott gets up from the cell's tiny bed/cot/thing and approaches the cell door. Watching Scott through the bars is a surreal sight and Stiles almost wants to pinch himself to make sure he isn't actually dreaming all this.

 

"Man, am I glad to see you," Scott says. "Does this mean your dad'll be letting me out soon?"

 

"Letting you out?" Stiles asks. This is the first he's hearing about this. Not that he's actually in the loop of Scott's legal troubles. "He didn't mention anything about it to me."

 

"Oh," Scott says, looking a bit disappointed. "My mom was here earlier and she was saying that they might not be able to make my charges stick."

 

"How so?" Stiles asks.

 

"No evidence," Scott says. "Also I didn't actually do what they're saying I did, so..."

 

"I thought you were arrested on conspiracy charges," Stiles says. "Which is what you did, as far as I've been told." Scott frowns at Stiles.

 

"Who were you talking to?" He asks.

 

"Derek, Jackson, and Peter," Stiles says. "They told me what happened with the raid on the Argent compound."

 

"The what on the what?" Scott asks.

 

"Last night," Stiles says. "When everyone went to save you and your mother? At the farm thing, or whatever it was?"

 

"Oh, yeah," Scott says. "Yeah, that was nuts."

 

"Yeah, it was a hell of a night," Stiles says. "So back to the part where you tried to get Derek killed."

 

"I didn't try to get him killed!" Scott exclaims.

 

"Really?" Stiles asks. "Because that's what it sounds like to me, Scott. What the hell!?"

 

"It's not... it wasn't like that," Scott says.

 

"Then tell me what it was like," Stiles says. "Because last night was entirely fucked up. I wasn't even there and I still thought I was gonna die. More than once!"

 

"I doubt you were in any real danger, Stiles," Scott says. "Everyone was at the farm."

 

"I didn't know that!" Stiles exclaims. "And my dad didn't know that for sure. No one knew what was happening except that you were in trouble! Just not as much trouble as we thought, I guess."

 

"I was in trouble," Scott insists. "And so was my mom."

 

"Is that why you helped Gerard to get to Derek?" Stiles asks.

 

"I didn't help Gerard get Derek," Scott says. "I just..."

 

"Explain it to me," Stiles says, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the wall opposite the cell. "Because it really doesn't look good from where I'm standing." Scott sighs and runs a hand through his hair. He leans against the bars of the cell, resting his forehead against them and looking down at the floor.

 

"Okay, so I was in the parking lot in front of the school when this guy came up to me," Scott says.

 

"Hold on," Stiles interrupts him. "Why were you in the front parking lot when you knew you were getting a ride home with me?"

 

"I was trying to see if I could talk to Isaac," Scott says.

 

"Isaac Lahey?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," Scott says. "I needed to warn him away from Allison. I'm still trying to get her back, you know? And it'll be harder to do that if he keeps hanging around her and distracting her."

 

"I do not know how your mind works sometimes, Scott," Stiles says. "Okay, so a strange guy in the parking lot. Then what?"

 

"He showed me a picture of my mom on his phone and she was, like, in a dark room with a piece of tape on her mouth," Scott says. He shivers. "So I knew he must've been one of the kidnappers. And he told me that we could help each other out if I came with him. So I went with him."

 

"That's it?" Stiles asks. "That's how they got you in the car?"

 

"Well, yeah," Scott says. "They had my mom, Stiles. Did you think I wasn't gonna go with them if I thought they'd take me to her?"

 

"No," Stiles says. "But I thought they, like, drove by and snatched you into a van or something. And that's why you didn't send out a cry for help."

 

"Look, I didn't think of it, okay? It was a very confusing situation and I was worried for my mom," Scott says. "Anyway, I got in the car with them and they took me out to the farm. That's when I found out that they were hunters and that Allison's grandfather was in charge of everything. He's the one who told me that if I helped him out then he would let me and Mom go."

 

"And you actually believed him?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah, he seemed sincere," Scott says. "He told me how he was dying of cancer, and that one thing that would cure him for sure was getting the bite and becoming a werewolf. It would cure his cancer just like it cured my asthma. So I just needed to get the alpha to come to me, bite Gerard, and then he'd let my mom go."

 

"So you called me to send Derek to you," Stiles says. "You wanted me to send Derek into, basically, a trap where hunters who hate him would be ready and waiting for him?"

 

"Not a trap, really," Scott says. "He just needed to bite Gerard and then everything would be over."

 

"You really think that Gerard would've just let Derek go after that?" Stiles asks. "Because that's not something I could see happening. And I heard about the wolfsbane diffuser. That sure didn't seem like any kind of show of good faith."

 

"Well it would've probably worked out fine if Derek had come alone instead of bringing everyone else with him," Scott says.

 

"Why did you think he'd go alone?" Stiles asks. "He thought you were in danger. We all did. We were pretty sure the Argents had you, and there was no way that Derek could go up against them alone. And another thing, did you seriously think that Derek would just bite Gerard? Just because you asked?"

 

"It would've been the easiest way to fix everything," Scott says. "Gerard would get his cure for cancer, and then he'd let me and Mom go. He even said that he'd talk to Allison about me, try to convince her that I'm not such a bad guy and that I deserve a second chance."

 

"Of course it comes back to Allison somehow," Stiles says. He shoves the heels of his hands into his eyes and presses down until starbursts appear behind his closed lids. He's honestly not sure what to do with this situation. Scott was put in a difficult position with his mother in the Argents' clutches. Stiles knows he himself would do whatever it took to save his dad or Noah if he were ever put in Scott's position. But he's also pretty sure that he wouldn't just lead people into an ambush for any reason.

 

"Look, it all turned out fine in the end," Scott says. "Except for your dad arresting me, which was kind of a dick move."

 

Stiles is tired of this conversation. He's tired of trying to wrap his brain around Scott's train of thought and trying to figure out if he's just naïve or just doesn't care about the bigger picture of what was going on last night. He's also just tired period, both physically and emotionally.

 

"Okay, well, I need to get going," Stiles says. "I left Noah with Derek and he hasn't really ever been alone with the baby before so I should get back and make sure he's doing alright."

 

"Alright, man," Scott says, though Stiles can tell he's disappointed that Stiles isn't staying longer. "I'll text you or something when I get out. I don't think it'll be that much longer."

 

"Sure," Stiles says.

 

And he walks away.

 

***

 

Jackson and his parents are walking into the station just as Stiles is walking out.

 

"Hey, Stilinski," Jackson says, stopping to greet him.

 

"Hey, what are you doing here?" Stiles asks.

 

"Jackson," Mr Whittemore says, continuing into the station. "We don't have time to waste here."

 

"He's going to talk to your father about Allison threatening him with her crossbow," Jackson says.

 

"Sounds like a good time," Stiles says. "I was just talking to Scott."

 

"How'd that go?" Jackson asks.

 

"I'm not entirely sure," Stiles says. Then Jackson puts his hand on Stiles' shoulder and gives it a reassuring squeeze, which throws Stiles for a loop because he hadn't been expecting that. Then Jackson removes his hand and follows his parents into the station.

 

***

 

The house is quiet when Stiles gets home. He checks the time; Noah should be down for his usual mid-morning nap about now. He heads upstairs and checks the nursery. It's empty. After everything he's just been through, his first instinct is to panic. So he does.

 

"In here." The call comes so softly that Stiles almost doesn't hear it over the pounding of his heart in his ears. He crosses the hall to his bedroom to find Derek in his bed, with Noah curled up asleep on his chest. Derek looks like he's just woken up, his eyes are half-lidded and his body looks totally relaxed.

 

The whole image hits Stiles right in the gut (and possibly a bit lower as well) and a warmth spreads through him. The warmth intensifies when Derek raises an arm, inviting Stiles to snuggle up to him in the empty space on the bed beside him. Which he does, slotting against Derek's side like it's the most natural thing in the world to do. Which is weird because this shouldn't really be natural for them because this is only the second time it's happened (accidental sleep spoonage - as nice as it is to wake up to - doesn't really count since they always fall asleep apart and wake up together), the first time being the night before and that was mostly driven by emotional distress.

 

"How was your visit with Scott?" Derek asks, voice slightly drowsy.

 

"Unproductive," Stiles says. "I don't think he realizes what actually happened last night. What he almost caused, even without meaning to."

 

"I don't think Scott's the type to think things like this through," Derek says.

 

"No," Stiles says. He turns his head to tuck his face into Derek's neck and closes his eyes. He's so tired. And he knows that Noah is going to wake up fairly soon, but if he's lucky he'll have time for a tiny nap.

 

He drifts off to the feeling of Derek's fingers carding through his hair.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

The day following the raid is fairly uneventful, for which Stiles is grateful.

 

He can't bring himself to go to school, doesn't want to be around so many people all at once yet, so he pleads with his father to let him stay home for the rest of the week. He honestly feels like he hasn't stopped since the whole werewolf thing started, and he could really use a break. Allison and Jackson offer to bring him his coursework so that he doesn't fall behind, which must seem like a decent arrangement to the sheriff, because he lets Stiles have his break.

 

What probably also helps Stiles' case is him waking up from a nightmare in the middle of the night and panicking when Noah isn't immediately within sight. Panicking loudly. It isn't pretty. And the end result is Stiles moving back into the nursery on the air mattress, accompanied by Derek, despite the sheriff's hard side-eye at this new arrangement. Stiles knows there's going to be A Talk about that at some point, but he's content to ignore that for the moment in favour of the safe feeling of having Derek around when he sleeps.

 

That's something else Stiles is content to ignore for the moment because he can put off worrying about that for later.

 

***

 

Noah wakes Stiles up as usual the next morning. Stiles takes him from the crib and gets him ready for the day while Derek goes to get himself ready. Just because Stiles has decided to take a break from things, doesn't mean that Derek has. Though Stiles isn't entirely sure what Derek's up to, only that as the alpha he has his own business to attend to concerning the Argents and their assorted hunter minions.

 

Stiles is feeding Noah breakfast in the kitchen when Derek comes back downstairs. Stiles looks over to wish him good morning and is instantly distracted by the outline of Derek's muscles in his shirt. Stiles is pretty sure that shirt hadn't been that tight just a week ago. He frowns.

 

"What's wrong?" Derek asks, looking down at himself.

 

"Did... did your muscles grow more muscles?" Stiles asks.

 

"Uh..." Derek says. Then the tips of his ears go pink. "It comes with the alpha power, I think. Big boost of power at first so things get a bit..." He waves a hand in the air.

 

"Huh," Stiles says. He looks down at himself. "That sounds nice."

 

"There's nothing wrong with your body, Stiles," Derek says. Then freezes. "Wait--"

 

"No, no, I'll take it," Stiles says, grinning widely. Derek rolls his eyes at him, but now there's a blush on his cheeks peeking out from under his scruff. "Anytime you want to say nice things about my person just let me have it."

 

"Noted," Derek says.

 

"I thought this 'boyfriends' thing was supposed to be a cover story for the Argents," the sheriff says, walking into the kitchen. Stiles had forgotten he hadn't gone into work yet.

 

"It was," Stiles says. "Is? Yes? What does that have to do with anything?" The sheriff just rolls his eyes at him. Derek sidles off to the fridge.

 

"Anyway," the sheriff says. "Derek's coming with me to the station today. You gonna be alright here by yourself?"

 

"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" Stiles asks. "And I'm not gonna be totally by myself. I'll have Noah."

 

"Uh huh," the sheriff says. "Alright then, call one of us if you need anything."

 

"I'll be fine," Stiles insists. "But what's going on at the station today? And what did Jackson's dad want yesterday anyway?"

 

"Deciding what to do with the hunters is what's going on at the station today," the sheriff says. "Apparently there's actually a policing body for hunters who go against the established code."

 

"Huh," Stiles says.

 

"Also, Mr Whittemore wanted to complain about Allison and her crossbow," the sheriff says.

 

"And?" Stiles asks.

 

"I introduced him to Chris and told Mr Whittemore to explain to him why his daughter might've felt that she needed to threaten him," the sheriff says. "He backed off after that, but he's still got the wind up his back about something."

 

"Probably Peter," Derek pipes up. "I think he's up to something."

 

"You think he's going to do something to Jackson?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Derek says, with a head shake. "I think he's just trying to antagonize Mr Whittemore. He let slip a few things about Jackson's adoption that makes me think he still has unresolved issues about it. Mr Whittemore is apparently the only one he can take them out on." Just judging by the little information Stiles has about Jackson's adoption, he guesses that Peter has several unresolved issues about it.

 

"As long as he isn't doing anything illegal I am officially deeming that none of my business," the sheriff says. "I have too much work to do right now as it is. Anyway, Derek, as soon as you're ready we'll head out. Get all this over and done with."

 

***

 

After making sure the house is locked up and secured, Stiles has a relaxing morning just hanging out with Noah. They spend time on the living room floor with Stiles trying to coax Noah into crawling, and then into talking, but Noah mostly just ignores his attempts and continues on as normal.

 

"Can't you try just one word?" Stiles wheedles. "Just one tiny word for Daddy?"

 

"Phbbt!" Noah says.

 

"Complete nonsense but I'll take it," Stiles says, scooping Noah up and blowing a raspberry on his belly. Noah shrieks with laughter and Stiles feels that all is right in his world for the moment.

 

Noah takes his mid-morning nap at the usual time, and Stiles joins him. He ends up being woken up by a text from his father.

 

From: Daddio

Scott's out now. His mother took him home.

 

To: Daddio

Oh?

 

From: Daddio

No real evidence to prove anything

 

If Stiles is honest with himself, he kind of expected that. He has mixed feelings about it all. It's not that he wants his best friend to go to prison, but Scott did really – however unintentionally – almost get someone killed. It's not a situation Stiles ever thought he'd be in, and he really doesn't know how to deal with it.

 

***

 

Stiles waits for his promised text from Scott. By the time Derek comes back from the station a little after lunch, Stiles still hasn't heard from Scott at all.

 

"Hey, how'd it go?" Stiles asks. He's in the living room with Noah, rolling a ball across the floor so that Noah can scoot after it. Of course when Derek comes in Noah completely abandons the ball and starts for him. For a second, Stiles thinks that there's some actual crawling happening, but then Noah is back on his belly, inching forward along the floor.

 

"Good," Derek says. "I think." He walks over to Noah and picks him up, swinging him a bit in the air to make him squeal with delight before cradling him in his arms.

 

Stiles remembers the feeling of Derek's arms around him when they share a bed and is briefly jealous of the baby.

 

"So what's the verdict?" Stiles asks. "Are the hunters gonna be dealt with, or what?"

 

"Yes," Derek says, sitting on the floor next to Stiles. "They're going to be processed through the legal system, but the hunter council thing is going to be monitoring all of them for basically the rest of their lives."

 

"Hunter council thing?" Stiles asks.

 

"Basically a policing system specifically for hunters, by hunters," Derek says. "I don't know much about it, this was the first I've ever heard about it."

 

"Huh," Stiles says.

 

"Yep," Derek says. "Also I officially declared to them my intent to be the alpha of this territory."

 

"What does that mean?" Stiles asks.

 

"Basically that I'm taking responsibility for the werewolf community in Beacon Hills," Derek says. "It's what my family's always done. Beacon Hills has always been Hale pack territory, and it still is even though there really hasn't been a Hale pack living here for the past six years."

 

"So, does that mean you're staying?" Stiles asks. "In Beacon Hills, I mean."

 

"Yeah," Derek says. "I think so."

 

"That's great," Stiles says, smiling wide.

 

"Yeah," Derek says, matching the smile. "I'll have to go back to New York for a bit first. There's the apartment to clean up and move out of. And some other loose ends to tie up. But then I'll come back here to stay, which is something I never thought I'd say. But I think it's a good move. Now that Kate's not out there anymore, it feels like it's safe to be here again."

 

***

 

Allison and Jackson drop by the house after school. Surprisingly, they have Isaac Lahey with them.

 

"Hey guys," Stiles says as he lets them in.

 

"I present you: your homework," Allison says. She takes a binder out of the messenger bag slung over her shoulder and thrusts it at Stiles.

 

"Gee, you shouldn't have," Stiles deadpans. Allison shoots him a dimply smile and heads off to the living room, pulling Isaac along by the hand. Stiles turns to Jackson and points at Isaac's retreating back over his shoulder. Jackson just shrugs.

 

"Allison said that he didn't want to go home so she figured he could hang out with us here," he says.

 

"Huh," Stiles says. He and Jackson walk into the living room to see Isaac being introduced to Derek.

 

"This is Stiles' boyfriend," Allison says.

 

"Yeah, I remember," Isaac says. "From the dance."

 

"Hi," Derek says.

 

"So have either of you heard from Scott yet?" Allison asks.

 

"He still doesn't have my number," Derek says.

 

"He said he'd text me but I still haven't heard anything," Stiles says.

 

"Scott McCall?" Isaac asks. "I thought he was in jail." Allison is sat on the floor so that Noah can scoot over to her, and Isaac sits down next to her. Noah pulls himself up to his knees with Allison's legs and then turns his attention to Isaac. Isaac looks at the baby as if wondering whether or not he bites. Stiles finds it low-key hilarious.

 

"He got out this morning," Allison says. "No evidence."

 

"Of course," Jackson says. He's taken a seat on the couch.

 

"He's sent me a few texts," Allison says. "But I've ignored them so far." Stiles feels something sour in his gut. Of course Scott has texted Allison and blown him off. Again. He really should've expected this. He sits down on the floor next to Derek and starts forcefully flipping through his homework binder. Then suddenly Derek places a comforting hand on Stiles' lower back. The warmth bleeds through Stiles' shirt and into his skin and he leans into Derek.

 

"You should just block his number," Jackson says.

 

"I don't know," Allison says. "That seems sort of, like, mean?"

 

"I blocked Lydia's number," Jackson throws out casually. Almost too casually, though no one comments on it. Allison gives him a considering look before pulling out her phone and looking at it.

 

"If they start to get too much then I'll do it," she says.

 

"So, Isaac," Stiles says in a bid to change the subject. "You and Allison?" Allison immediately brightens up and Isaac flushes.

 

***

 

The doorbell rings that night a little after Stiles has put Noah down for the night. He's still a bit antsy about having Noah out of sight (which, incidentally, is why he'll be sleeping on the air mattress again tonight) (mostly likely with Derek), but he's curious enough about this unexpected visitor that he heads downstairs to investigate.

 

Maybe it's Scott.

 

The sheriff is the first one to the door, and Stiles gets downstairs in time to see Parrish being let in.

 

"Dad?" Stiles asks. Parrish isn't wearing a uniform, just jeans and a hoodie, so Stiles knows he's not here in an official capacity. He's got a bit of a haunted expression on his face, and his hands are shoved into the kangaroo pocket of his hoodie. He looks really young like this, even though Stiles is sure that he's a bit older than Derek. He stands awkwardly in the hallway as the sheriff closes the front door behind him. Derek, standing in the entrance to the living room where he'd been watching TV, surveys the scene.

 

"Boys," the sheriff says. "I don't think I actually introduced him properly, but this is Jordan Parrish. He's still new to the force, but not to policing."

 

"He also got set on fire the other night," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah, that's why I asked him to come over tonight," the sheriff says. "Parrish will be living in Beacon Hills for the foreseeable future and so I thought it'd be a good idea to introduce him to Derek, since he's also going to be sticking around."

 

"Because…?" Stiles asks.

 

"Sheriff tells me that Derek's an alpha," Parrish says. Stiles freezes in alarm, but all Derek does is cock his head to one side and study Parrish.

 

"You're not a werewolf," Derek says. "Even they can't come out of fires unscathed." Derek would know all about that. Stiles bites his lip against the sound that wants to come out of him.

 

"No, but I'm something," Parrish says. And then his eyes start glowing bright orange and a fiery aura suddenly appears around his head in a shape that reminds Stiles of feathers. Derek's mouth drops open at that, bunny teeth peeking out. Stiles' gaze bounces back and forth between them both.

 

"What's that all mean?" he asks.

 

"He's a phoenix," Derek says, awed, glancing briefly at Stiles before turning back to Parrish. "I've heard of them, but I didn't think there were any still around."

 

"A phoenix?" the sheriff asks, peering at the fiery feathers - and that's definitely what they are - around Parrish's head.

 

"Seriously?" Stiles asks. "Those are things? But I thought they were actual birds. And also, like, myths."

 

"Like werewolves?" the sheriff asks. Stiles shrugs.

 

"A long time ago, there were phoenixes that could transform into bird form," Parrish says. "But they were hunted to near extinction, and these days the phoenix powers are basically so diluted that we can only really perform a fraction of what the legends say we should be able to."

 

"So that's why you survived the car fire," Stiles says. "You're immune to fire."

 

"No," Parrish says, and closes his eyes briefly. He doesn't say anything for a second, and when he opens his eyes again, they're dark with pain. "I'm not immune." It takes a few seconds for Stiles to understand what he means, but when he gets it the implications have him rocking back on his feet.

 

"Oh god," he says.

 

"Yeah," Parrish says. He looks over at Derek. "Phoenixes don't typically live in packs, but I think I'd benefit more from having people around me who know what it's like to be human but not human at the same time. If you'll have me. I don't know a whole lot about werewolves or werewolf packs."

 

"Um," Derek says. "I'm still new to the whole alpha thing, but if you don't mind being led by a novice, and if the others don't mind, I'd be happy to have you in the pack."

 

The grin Parrish gives him is small and brittle, but genuine.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles' week at home passes by way too quickly for his liking.

 

He spends his free time with Noah and Derek, or doing homework, or staring at his phone waiting for Scott to contact him because he doesn't want to be the one to give in and call him first.

 

He also hangs out with Allison and Jackson after school, and sometimes with Isaac. Isaac seems pretty skittish and shy, but Stiles thinks he's warming up to them. He's at least stopped looking at Noah like he's a bomb about to go off.

 

Derek talks more about his upcoming trip to New York. He doesn't seem overly excited about it, but explaining what he needs to do over there leads him to open up a bit more to Stiles about what his life had been like there. With Laura. Stiles could listen to Derek talk for hours about his time in New York, but Derek never talks about it for very long at a time and Stiles can tell that it's because it's still too painful for him to talk about. Stiles used to be like that about his mother; he'd talk about her to someone, suddenly remember that she was gone, and then be unable to continue.

 

He'd tried, once, to ask Derek about how he's dealing with Laura's death, but Derek had immediately shut him down and Stiles didn't feel comfortable asking him again.

 

Parrish also drops by the house a few times. He's on a short leave from work for his mental health, so he has enough free time to get to know Derek and the other members of the pack. Sometimes Parrish and Derek will hang out in the kitchen and talk about whatever it is they talk about. (Stiles asks Derek about it only once and Derek says something about a shared trauma, and Stiles is too afraid to ask for clarification.)

 

***

 

The sheriff finally manages to get a few days off at the end of the week, and his first order of business is to essentially kick Stiles and Derek out of the house for a bit while he stays in to have a Grandpa day with Noah.

 

"Go out and do something fun," the sheriff says, physically pushing Stiles out the door. "We'll be fine here and you need to get out of the house."

 

"Why?" Stiles whines. Derek is absolutely no help here, just watching this play out from his spot in the driveway, looking like he's trying not to laugh.

 

"Because holing yourself up like this isn't healthy and you are not staying home from school again next week," the sheriff says.

 

"But!" Stiles protests.

 

"Bye, Stiles," the sheriff says. "Have fun!" And he finally gets Stiles out on the front porch and closes the door behind him. Stiles makes a face at the closed door before joining Derek in the driveway, grumbling all the while.

 

"Can you believe him?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yes," Derek says. "I think he's right about you needing to get out of the house." Stiles huffs at him and stalks over to the Jeep, Derek falling into step behind him. It's not like he doesn't want to go out with Derek, or that he doesn't want his dad to spend some quality time with Noah, he'd just appreciate some advanced warning.

 

Stiles gets in behind the wheel of the Jeep, Derek gets in on the passenger side, and then they both sit there. Not moving.

 

"I don't know where to go," Stiles says, frustrated. "I don't think I ever left Noah with anyone unless I actually had something to do."

 

"You never just got someone to watch him to get a few hours to yourself?" Derek asks.

 

"No," Stiles says. "When he first came home I was so busy with him being here and being mine and any spare time I had went to sleeping. And then after that I was worried that if I tried to get some 'me' time to myself that my dad would think I wasn't making good on my responsibilities to Noah and he'd get child services involved. And then school started and he went to daycare and then I was just so happy to have him again after being separated all day that I never thought to not just keep him with me."

 

"Wow," Derek says.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "It's a lot. I don't think I've had any free time away from him since he was born. Either I was at work or school, or assorted events here and there, or he was always with me."

 

"Well, now you have a few free hours," Derek says. "What do you feel like doing?" Stiles considers this for a minute, clenching and unclenching his hands on the Jeep's steering wheel.

 

"How about a date?" he asks.

 

"Uh…" Derek says. Stiles doesn't look over at him, and he feels his face slowly heating.

 

"Like, I know the boyfriends thing isn't real," he says. "And I'm sure you didn't think we'd keep it up for this long. But… I like you. As a friend… aaaaand as a possibly-more-than-friend. If you're into… that. …?"

 

"Um… I would be. Into that," Derek says. Stiles head snaps to the side.

 

"Really!?" he asks. Derek isn't looking at Stiles, just down at his hands in his lap, and his face and ears are flushed.

 

"Not…" Derek scratches at his cheek awkwardly. "I'm not sure how to say this without sounding like a dick."

 

"You're not ready for a relationship?" Stiles guesses. Derek does an awkward head bob that Stiles takes as a nod. "Is that, like, in general? Or just with me?"

 

"In general," Derek says. "I, uh, haven't really had a relationship since Kate. There's been other people. But nothing that felt like… this."

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "Also there's Noah. I mean, it's obvious you really like him, but I get that it can be a lot."

 

"Also there's the age thing," Derek adds.

 

"Right," Stiles says. "So, you wanna try this anyway? Just, like, really slowly? Pretty sure everyone already thinks we're dating anyway."

 

"Yes," Derek says.

 

"Hey!" Both Stiles and Derek jump a bit at the sheriff's sudden shout. Stiles looks out the windshield to see the sheriff on the porch with Noah on one hip. "This doesn't look like going out and doing something!"

 

"We're going!" Stiles calls. He starts the Jeep and backs out of the driveway. He drives in silence for a bit, no real idea where he's going.

 

"So, you're really serious about dating for real?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yeah," Derek says. When Stiles looks over at him, he's grinning. Stiles turns back to the road.

 

"Awesome," he says.

 

***

 

They eventually decide to go for ice cream. It's not even lunch yet, but whatever. Soft serve, breakfast of champions.

 

The Dairy Queen is pretty empty when they get there, so it's not long before they're back outside with their ice creams (Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard for Stiles and Strawberry Cheesecake Blizzard for Derek). They settle into the outdoor eating area and Stiles does his best to not make things awkward. Sure, this is a real date they're on, technically, but it shouldn't be any different than being with Derek usually is.

 

He wonders if they should be holding hands on the table or something. Then wonders if that's even a thing.

 

"So, I'm thinking of going back to New York next week," Derek says. Stiles takes a brief pause mid-chew.

 

"Oh yeah?" he asks.

 

"Yeah, the sooner I go, the sooner I can come back and start settling down here," Derek says. "I'll have to find a place to live."

 

"I'm sure my dad won't kick you out of our place," Stiles says. "You don't have to go." He doesn't like the idea of Derek moving out. Over the past few weeks, he's gotten so used to having Derek around all the time.

 

"Oh, I'll have to," Derek says. "Especially once your dad finds out we're dating for real."

 

"Ah, yeah, good point," Stiles says. He feels a thrill at the 'dating for real' comment, and his body must do something to alert Derek to it because Derek suddenly grins at him.

 

"Plus," Derek says, "I'll need a pack house. I want a place big enough so that it can also double as like a headquarters. Somewhere where there'll always be enough room for anyone who needs it. Like we had when my mother was alpha. If I'm going to be the alpha of this territory, I'll need to be serious about it."

 

"If you want a really big house, I don’t know if there are a lot of options in town," Stiles says.

 

"That's why I'm planning on rebuilding my old house," Derek says. "I think it's time."

 

"Good for you," Stiles says. "But are you sure you can't just stay at our house?"

 

"I can't just keep freeloading off your dad," Derek says. "I have a pack to rebuild and a territory to protect."

 

He sounds genuinely excited and Stiles grins at him.

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Can we come back yet?

 

From: Daddio

No

 

To: Daddio

:(

 

From: Daddio

Go do something!

 

***

 

Derek asks Stiles to take him out into the preserve. To the old house.

 

The ride there is a much different experience in the daytime. And the house, or what's left of it, looks less scary with the sun shining on it. Though the sun doesn't make it any less depressing.

 

Stiles parks the Jeep in front of the house and Derek gets out, staring up at the house. Stiles gets out of the Jeep as well and walks over to Derek. He contemplates taking Derek's hand for support. Decides that they might not be there yet. He senses that this is going to become a running theme for a while.

 

"This is gonna be a big job," Stiles says. "Lots of work to do."

 

"I'm going to have it demolished and rebuilt from the ground up," Derek says.

 

"Sounds like you have some big plans there, nephew." Stiles and Derek look over to see Peter emerge from the trees.

 

"Is this where you hang out all the time?" Stiles asks.

 

"No, I just like to come by and see the old place every now and again," Peter says. He keeps his distance from Stiles and Derek, standing in front of the house and looking up at it.

 

"You have any problems with me tearing it down?" Derek asks.

 

"I'm surprised it's still up, it's been six years already," Peter says. "Though sometimes it doesn't really feel like it."

 

"Yeah," Derek says. It sounds like an agreement, but Stiles doesn't think they're talking about the same thing. He briefly wonders how conscious Peter had been in all those years he spent in the hospital, and whether he'd felt the time passing. Then shakes the thought away, he's not sure he wants to know the answer. He's still unsure about his feelings for Peter, though he acknowledges that it really looks like he's on their side now.

 

"So you're really going to build a new pack," Peter says. "Here?"

 

"Yup," Derek says. "Technically I've already started a new pack."

 

"Mostly by accident though," Stiles points out. "Except for Parrish."

 

"You really think it's a good idea?" Peter asks.

 

"Well, you made me the alpha," Derek says. "You must've had some clue that this is what I'd do."

 

"I suppose," Peter says, looking up at the house. "The last memory I have of this house is watching it burn. Thinking of this empty shell just sitting out here is depressing. Maybe it's time to finally put it to rest. Build something new out of the ashes of the old."

 

"Yeah," Derek says.

 

***

 

From: Allison Argent

I am going to kill Scott

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

!?

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

He's back at school today, making an ass of himself

 

From: Derek Hale

What is he doing?

 

From: Allison Argent

He's trying to get into it with Isaac! Over me!

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Why am I not surprised?

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles is not allowed to attending the meeting between Derek, the sheriff, Scott, and Mrs McCall. He protests at first, until the sheriff points out that Stiles and Scott still have some issues to work out between themselves, and this meeting would not be the best place to do that.

 

So Stiles and Noah head over to Jackson's house, because the only other option would be Allison's and Stiles isn't comfortable going to what is essentially a hunter's den. (Also Victoria Argent is currently out on bail and Stiles isn't totally confident that she won't try to murder him out of spite.)

 

Stiles does pick up Allison on the way to Jackson's, though, because being in the house is uncomfortable for Allison in many more ways than it is for Stiles. Stiles senses a possible divorce in Chris and Victoria's future if things continue on this way, and he suspects it'll be a messy one.

 

Jackson meets Stiles and Allison at the door to his house and leads them upstairs, past his confused-looking mother.

 

"Are you sure it's okay that we're here?" Stiles asks. "Especially with the baby?"

 

"It's fine," Jackson says. "My mother's just used to the friends I bring over being either Danny or Lydia."

 

"Aw, we are friends now," Stiles says, delighted.

 

"Yeah, yeah," Jackson says. "Don't rub it in." Stiles just grins at the back of his head. Allison giggles behind her hand. Jackson takes them all to what looks like might be a game room, judging by the consoles sitting under a big flat-screen TV on one side of the room and some game tables on the other side.

 

"Wow," Stiles says, looking around. "Fancy." Jackson shrugs. Allison wanders over to the TV and inspects the assorted gaming consoles.

 

"Some of these look very old," she says. "Or is this… no, this looks like a real Super Nintendo."

 

"It was my Dad's," Jackson says. "It still works, somehow, so we just keep it in here." Stiles tries to imagine Mr Whittemore playing a Super Nintendo, or any kind of video game, and his brain blanks out.

 

"I wanna play it," Allison declares.

 

"Hold on, let me set it up," Jackson says. He crouches down behind the TV and starts fiddling with some wires. Noah whines to be put down, so Stiles sits on the floor with him. The floor in here is carpeted, and Stiles studies the area immediately around him to make sure there's nothing for Noah to hurt himself on or stick in his mouth. Once Stiles pulls some toys from his diaper bag, Noah seems content to stick close and amuse himself with them. Thankfully.

 

"So, you think this meeting with Derek is going to set Scott straight?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Jackson scoffs. He slides back out from behind the TV and drops a controller next to where Allison is sitting on the floor. "This should work. Games are in the cabinet over there." He points over his shoulder as he drops down on the couch that Stiles and Allison are ignoring.

 

"You really don't think Scott can change?" Stiles asks.

 

"Not really," Jackson says. "Not if it's something Derek's asking him to do. And not when it's related to Allison."

 

"I never thought I'd end up having this kind of problem with Scott," Allison says. "Or anyone, really."

 

"I didn't think Scott would be like that either," Stiles says. "It's weird."

 

"Well, wasn't Allison McCall's first girlfriend?" Jackson asks.

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "And maybe it's a combination of that and the whole, y'know, grr problem."

 

"My mom's downstairs, she can't hear you," Jackson says.

 

"Werewolf thing," Stiles says. "It doesn't excuse how he's acting, but if that's really the problem maybe Derek can help him deal with that and then he'll back off."

 

"Let's hope," Allison says. She takes a game out of the cabinet, puts it into the Super Nintendo, and starts playing. Stiles watches her play curiously, he's never seen a Super Nintendo being played in real life.

 

***

 

To: Derek Hale

How's it going?

 

From: Derek Hale

We're calling Deaton over

 

To: Derek Hale

Yikes

 

From: Derek Hale

Exactly

 

To: Derek Hale

Though if you get a chance can you ask him about my magic?

 

From: Derek Hale

Will do

 

***

 

"So Derek says he's going back to New York next week," Stiles says. He and Allison have started playing a game together and Allison is absolutely kicking his ass at it. Stiles blames Noah, who is sitting in his lap and batting at the controller ("Sure, Stilinski." had been Jackson's opinion on the matter).

 

"He's leaving!?" Allison asks. "Already?" Even Jackson seems concerned, coming down from the couch to join them on the floor.

 

"Why?" he asks. "He's supposed to be our alpha."

 

"He's going to settle his affairs up there, or whatever, and then he's coming back here," Stiles says. "He's going to rebuild the Hale house and start establishing an actual pack."

 

"Oh," Jackson says. "Well that's alright then."

 

"What about you?" Allison asks.

 

"What about me?" Stiles asks. "I'm not going to New York with him, if that's what you're getting at. My dad would have a conniption if I even asked."

 

"No, but like, how are you feeling about all this?" Allison asks.

 

"I'm not crazy about him moving out, of course, but I'm excited for him," Stiles says. "He's planning to move to Beacon Hills permanently, it sounds like, so it's not like he won't be close by."

 

"Oh, good," Allison says.

 

"Also," Stiles says. "We may have started dating. For real. Kinda." Allison makes a squealing noise, Noah shrieks in agreement, Jackson shoots Stiles an impressed face, and Stiles flushes. "We literally just started so it's still pretty new. And we're taking it very slow. But it's been a few hours and so far I haven't screwed it up so I'm feeling optimistic."

 

"Good for you guys, seriously," Allison says.

 

"Thanks," Stiles says. "What about you and Isaac? How's that going?"

 

"It would be going a lot better if Scott would leave us both alone," Allison says. "Also I think Isaac might be hiding something from me, but I'm not sure what."

 

"I always thought he was a bit off," Jackson mutters.

 

"Pretty jumpy," Stiles says.

 

"He definitely is that," Allison says.

 

***

 

Stiles and Allison get the all-clear from Derek and leave the Whittemores' just as Mr Whittemore gets home (presumably from work). There's a bit of an awkward encounter at the front door.

 

"What are you two doing in my house?" Mr Whittemore asks.

 

"Relax, Dad," Jackson says. "They were here visiting me."

 

"I left my crossbow at home," Allison says, smiling sweetly.

 

"Out," Mr Whittemore says.

 

"Going," Stiles says. "See you later, Jackson."

 

"Bye, Jackson," Allison says. And she and Stiles hustle out of the house and into the Jeep. Once Noah is in his carseat in the back, and Allison and Stiles are in the front seats, they burst out laughing.

 

"He is never going to forgive us for that," Stiles says, wiping at his eyes. "Never."

 

"I'm sure I'll get over it," Allison says, grinning.

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

My father has just forbidden me from seeing you two, as if he has any say in it

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Did you tell him 'good luck'?

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

He said something about a restraining order

 

From: Allison Argent

He wishes

 

"Your dad wouldn't give out a restraining order between us and Jackson over that," Allison says, putting her phone back in her bag.

 

"I don't think that's how restraining orders work," Stiles says. He backs out of the driveway. "Am I taking you back home?"

 

"Yeah," Allison says. "I don't want to see Scott right now. I don't want to risk him still being at your place."

 

"Fair enough," Stiles says. He drops Allison off at her house. Chris is in the driveway and he waves to Stiles, who waves back. Stiles also spots Victoria glaring at him out of one of the upstairs windows in the house and shudders as he drives off.

 

Back at his house, it turns out that Scott is still there. Along with Mrs McCall and Deaton. The sheriff meets him at the door and immediately takes Noah off him.

 

"It's almost time for his supper," Stiles says.

 

"I'll take care of that," the sheriff says. "Everyone's waiting for you in the living room."

 

"Sounds ominous," Stiles mutters. The sheriff just shoos him along before taking Noah into the kitchen. All eyes are on Stiles as soon as he walks into the living room, and he pauses in the entrance.

 

"Hey," Derek says, and holds a hand out to him. He's sitting on one side of the couch with Mrs McCall on the other side. Scott and Deaton are sitting in the arm chairs. Stiles walks over and takes Derek's hand in his before sitting down between him and Mrs McCall. Their hands separate when Stiles is seated, but not before Derek gives Stiles' hand a reassuring squeeze.

 

Stiles makes a mental note to definitely create more opportunities for hand-holding in the future.

 

"So," Derek says, once everyone is settled (and clearly ignoring Scott's goggling at the hand-holding incident). "Stiles, you have questions about your magical abilities, Deaton said he'd rather wait until you were here before discussing it."

 

"Well, here I am," Stiles says. "Let me have it. Are you going to teach me magic."

 

"No," Deaton says.

 

"Well," Stiles says, taken aback. "Uh… Just 'no'?"

 

"Based on what Derek's told me, and the fact that you haven't displayed any magical talent before now, I feel that any magical talent you have might be insignificant to the point where it won't go anywhere even with training," Deaton says.

 

"Well that sucks," Stiles says.

 

"Sometimes this is how it works out," Deaton says, getting up from the chair. "Unfourtunately, not every hint of magical ability can be expanded upon. Now, I really must be going. Scott, I'll see you tomorrow." And with that, he leaves the room. Stiles hears the door open and close as he leaves the house. No one says anything for a few seconds.

 

"I guess I should give Peter back his books?" Stiles says.

 

"No, hold on to them." Derek is staring off in the direction Deaton left in, a frown on his face.

 

"Okay," Stiles says. "Well then."

 

"Were you just with Allison?" Scott suddenly asks, frowning at Stiles. "I can smell her on you."

 

"Uh, yeah," Stiles says. "We were just at Jackson's house. Why?"

 

"You're hanging out with Jackson too?" Scott asks.

 

"Yes," Stiles says. "I thought you knew that already."

 

"No," Scott says.

 

"Huh," Stiles says.

 

"Boys," Mrs McCall suddenly says. Both Scott and Stiles turn towards her. "I think now would be an excellent time for you two to catch up with each other before I have to take Scott home."

 

"Mom," Scott whines.

 

"No, she's right," Stiles says. "We really need to talk."

 

"Is it about the thing with Gerard?" Scott asks. "Because we already went over that."

 

"No, I can think of a few other things," Stiles says. "C'mon, we can talk in my room." He gets up from the couch and starts walking towards the stairs. He's almost halfway up them before he finally hears the sound of footsteps following him.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

"Okay, so what did you want to talk about?" Scott asks.

 

He and Stiles are up in Stiles' room now. Scott is leaning against Stiles' desk and Stiles is standing at the bedroom door, hand on the knob after just closing it. He looks over at Scott before moving over and sitting down on the bed.

 

"You were supposed to text me a few days ago," Stiles says. "When you were let out of jail."

 

"I was busy," Scott says, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

"Doing what?" Stiles asks. "Bothering Allison and Isaac?"

 

"I wasn't bothering them," Scott says defensively. "I'm just trying--"

 

"You're bothering them," Stiles interrupts. "I've been hanging out with Allison. She's said that she doesn't want you calling her, not if you're trying to bug her into getting back with you. And I'm sure she definitely doesn't want you going after Isaac."

 

"Look, I know you don't get it because you've never actually dated anyone before, but Allison is my girlfriend--"

 

"Fuck you, Scott," Stiles snaps. "Also, newsflash, dude, Allison broke up with you. She's not your girlfriend anymore."

 

"That was just a misunderstanding, or something," Scott says. "If I just get the chance to talk to her I can get everything sorted out and we'll be fine again."

 

"You cheated on her," Stiles says. "What's there to sort out?"

 

"It wasn't like that!" Scott exclaims.

 

"Then what was it like, Scott?" Stiles asks.

 

"I dunno!" Scott exclaims. "But it didn't mean anything!"

 

"I don't even know if that makes it better or worse, honestly," Stiles says. "Anyway, I don't want to get into this with you. It's more Allison's business and I'm sure she could handle you just fine on her own if she wanted to."

 

"I don't see why you're hanging out with Allison all the time anyway," Scott says.

 

"Because she's my friend," Stiles says.

 

"You're supposed to be my friend," Scott says.

 

"What are you, five?" Stiles asks. "I can have more than one friend. And I'm not stopping you from spending time with me. You're the one who's been ignoring me on the regular. For example: not contacting me when you got out of jail like you said you would!"

 

"It's not like you contacted me either," Scott says.

 

"Because I was waiting to see if you would do it," Stiles says. "Or if you'd blow me off again like you've been doing lately."

 

"I haven't been blowing you off," Scott says.

 

"Yes you have," Stiles says. "And not just lately, we haven't been hanging out as much as we used to for a while. Which makes sense with Noah and all, but after you got turned it got even worse."

 

"I've been busy!" Scott exclaims.

 

"Too busy to even text!?" Stiles asks. "And you found enough free time to spend with Allison even though we kept telling you not to because we didn't know if she was dangerous or not."

 

"Ha! See! Now you're being hypocritical!" Scott says, jabbing a finger at Stiles. "It wasn't okay for me to be with her but suddenly it's okay for you? You were just jealous that I had a girlfriend and you didn't!"

 

"What the hell are you even talking about?" Stiles asks. "It's okay for me to hang around her because now we know that she's on our side. It would be okay for you to hang out with her now too except that you fucked up your relationship and she doesn't want to hang out with you anymore."

 

"I did not fuck anything up!" Scott says. "She just needs to give me another chance!"

 

"Another thing I have a problem with is that you just don't listen to people!" Stiles exclaims. "Allison doesn't want to give you another chance!"

 

"I listen," Scott says, offended.

 

"No you don't," Stiles says. "I distinctly remember basically everyone having to tell you to stay away from Allison for everyone's literal safety, including yours. And then you proceeded to not stay away from her at all. In fact, it's like you went out of your way to ignore every warning any of us ever gave you!"

 

"Because you were all trying to keep me from doing anything that made me happy!" Scott exclaims. "I got a girlfriend and you all lost your minds over it. I got on the lacrosse team and you all wanted me to drop that too. It's like none of you want me to have a life, and just stay home all the time like you."

 

"Well excuse us for wanting you and everyone around you to stay safe," Stiles says. "All we wanted was for you to be more careful because there were literally people around who wanted to hunt you. To death. And for some reason you wouldn't take any of us seriously when we warned you about the threat. Derek tried to help you so many times and all you did was ignore him and then try to get him killed!"

 

"I did not try to get him killed!" Scott nearly shouts. His eyes briefly flash yellow. "I already told you that all he had to do was bite Gerard and then everything would be over."

 

"You honestly can't believe that," Stiles says. "Gerard and his little hunter buddies wanted Derek dead, and probably would've killed him the second they didn't need him anymore. Then they would've killed you next because they wanted you dead too and you were just too far up Allison's ass to see it."

 

"Oh, and you're not up Derek's ass?" Scott asks.

 

"I am not!" Stiles exclaims. "Derek has done nothing but try to help you out since the beginning and all you've been is pissy with him because he never let you have your own way!"

 

"All Derek's done since he's been here is try to control me and tell me what to do!" Scott says.

 

"For your own good!"

 

"And the only reason you think Derek's so great is because he's hot and maybe holds your kid once in a while!"

 

"You don't know anything you--"

 

"Boys!"

 

Stiles and Scott leap apart in shock. Stiles hadn't even realized that they'd basically started advancing on each other at some point. He didn't realize they'd started shouting either. They both blink at each other and then turn as one to the now open door, where the sheriff is standing. He stares sternly at the pair of them until they start shuffling their feet awkwardly and looking down at the floor.

 

"I think it's time to settle down and say what you really need to say before things come to blows," the sheriff says. "Because a fist fight between the two of you now won't end the same way it did when you were kids." Stiles and Scott glance at each other and then look away again.

 

"I think you're trying to keep me from the things I like because you're jealous that I can go out and do things," Scott says. "You don't want me to have a girlfriend, and you don't want me to play lacrosse, even though you know those things are important to me."

 

"What the hell are you even talking about?" Stiles asks. "I was fine with you having a girlfriend and playing lacrosse when you weren't a werewolf who couldn't control himself and dating a possible hunter."

 

"Whatever, Stiles," Scott says.

 

"I think you're the jealous one," Stiles says. "I can't make you my number one priority anymore and that bothers you, but you keep going on as if nothing's changed. Same with the werewolf thing. It's like you ignore the parts of life that you don't like and expect everyone to cater to your expectations."

 

"I'm not jealous of you, Stiles," Scott scoffs. "I just wish that you hadn't, like, almost completely abandoned me just because you had a kid."

 

"I really don't know what to say to that," Stiles says. "I can't just not take care of my kid just because you want us to hang out more. And there's nothing stopping you from hanging out with me here while I'm with Noah. Things can't be like they were before, just because you want them to be."

 

"Yeah," Scott says. "I guess not."

 

***

 

Stiles is lying face-down on his bed, head shoved under his pillow, when Derek comes into the room.

 

Scott left with his mother a few minutes earlier, and Stiles feels like they've resolved something between them, and yet not at the same time. Because Stiles doesn't really know if they're friends anymore. There was no big declaration of 'We're Over!', but there wasn't one of 'We'll Make It Work' either.

 

A part of Stiles thinks he'll be fine if Scott decides to fade out of his life. Good riddance to someone who doesn't want to try to work within Stiles' new life circumstances to maintain a friendship. Especially when Stiles' new life circumstances involve a child that's the most important part of Stiles' life that Scott seems to want nothing to do with.

 

Another part of him remembers all the good times they've shared and still doesn't want to believe that they can both just walk away from everything they've been through just because their lives have changed and Scott doesn't want to deal with those changes.

 

"Your dad's wondering if he should put Noah to bed, or if you want to do it," Derek says softly. He sits on the edge of Stiles' bed. Stiles feels the mattress dip. He turns his head in Derek's direction, but doesn't take it out from under the pillow.

 

"You know I like you for more than because you're hot and good with Noah, right?" Stiles asks. Because it's suddenly occurred to him that Derek could probably hear everything that he and Scott had said earlier. Even before they'd started shouting.

 

"I know," Derek says.

 

"You're a good person," Stiles says. "You keep helping us even though you don't have to. And you really care about us and do your best to keep us safe. You even keep trying to help Scott even though he doesn't like you very much."

 

"Thanks," Derek says. "I'll keep trying to be that person. For you. For all of you." Stiles squirms closer to Derek until his side comes into contact with Derek's back.

 

"Do you think me and Scott will ever get over this and be friends again?" Stiles asks. "Like we've always been?"

 

"I've never seen how you both were before, so I can't speak to that," Derek says. "But I think that if you both really want it, you can find a way to be friends again, but probably not exactly like before." It's maybe not exactly what Stiles wanted to hear, and he's still really annoyed with Scott and his attitude, but he likes the idea of his friendship with Scott not being completely obliterated.

 

***

 

From: Jordan Parrish

So does this count as pack bonding or something?

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

It can

 

From: Jordan Parrish

Why isn't your dad on here?

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

He was for a bit but then got annoyed with all the meme sharing so he bounced

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

Might've been the dirty jokes that did it

 

From: Allison Argent

I refuse to apologize for those

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

I don't think he likes that we understand all the dirty jokes, probably reminds him that we aren't the children he likes to treat us like

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

The guy literally lives with a constant reminder that you aren't a child anymore

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Yeah, but in his defense there's a difference between a baby and a 'gay porn face reaction image' meme

 

From: Allison Argent

I apologize for nothing those were hilarious

 

From: Allison Argent

[attachment: image]

 

From: Jordan Parrish

That's actually disturbing how it fits the text

 

From: Allison Argent

SEE!?

 

***

 

Derek leaves for New York in the middle of the next week. Surprisingly, he decides to take Peter with him.

 

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Stiles asks him as Derek is checking over his bags.

 

"We can probably use the space to talk," Derek says. "I want Peter to see what my and Laura's lives were like up there. And it might be easier with someone else there." Stiles wants to ask about Derek's feelings on the subject of Peter and Laura, and that one was killed by the other, but he doesn't say anything. This morning is going to be tough enough with Derek leaving without Stiles bringing up really heavy topics.

 

Derek and Peter's flight leaves while Stiles is in school, so Stiles will be spared from actually seeing Derek leave. But he's really not excited about coming home from school and not having Derek there like he usually is. Stiles still feels like he lost Scott, he doesn't want to be without Derek as well. But this is something that Derek has to do, and it's only temporary, so Stiles is just going to suck it up and get through the day with minimal upset.

 

(He in no way believes that he absolutely won't burst into tears when he gets home and it really sinks in that Derek's gone, but that's between himself and himself.)

 

The sheriff is already at work, having done his goodbyes beforehand. Stiles imagines they'd been a bit easier than what Stiles' goodbye is going to be like.

 

Derek keeps Noah entertained while Stiles cleans up from their breakfast, flashing his eyes to make the baby laugh and bouncing him on his knee.

 

Finally, Stiles can't stall any longer and they all go out to the Jeep. Stiles lets Derek strap Noah in, and he drops a kiss on the baby's head before closing the door. It's the first time he's ever done that, and Stiles hopes it won't be the last. It's a ridiculous thought because Derek is coming back, but Stiles is feeling a bit dramatic this morning.

 

Then Derek gives Stiles the longest hug they've ever shared with each other, and Stiles feels his eyes burn.

 

"It's only for a few days," Derek says. Stiles nods against his shoulder, clutching at Derek's shirt. They let go eventually and Stiles tries to not obviously wipe at his eyes, though Derek can probably smell his tears anyway. Derek doesn't mention it, just backs away from the Jeep so that Stiles can get in and back out of the driveway.

 

***

 

Surprisingly, Jackson doesn't make any jokes about Stiles' red-rimmed eyes when they see each other later on that morning. It's probably one of the nicest things he's ever done for him, honestly.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

The house is empty when Stiles gets home from school. It's not something that used to be unusual, but now Stiles has become used to at least Derek being around. The silence of the house unnerves him a bit. The lack of air mattress propped against the wall and the absence of Derek's back on the floor next to the couch make the living room seem especially empty. It's enough to raise a bit of a lump in Stiles' throat, and he has to clear his throat a few times before it goes away.

 

"Okay, Tiny Pants," Stiles says, settling Noah on the living room floor. "Looks like we have the house to ourselves for a bit. Time to party."

 

Noah's response to that is to scoot over to a discarded book on the floor nearby (and he's really starting to move around pretty quickly that way, Stiles is almost afraid to see what he'll be like crawling) and try to shove it in his mouth.

 

"Ew, no," Stiles says, lunging over and taking the book off him. "Bad. We don't eat books. Even if they're boring old classics… that I really should've returned to the school a while ago. Oops." Noah starts fussing at his new plaything being taken away, so Stiles distracts him with Cheerios and a puffy baby book that squeaks when Noah squeezes the pages.

 

Stiles lies down on the floor next to Noah and stares up at the ceiling. He feels a bit at loose ends with no danger happening, nothing that needs to be researched, and no one else here to talk to. He's gotten used to being around people more in the past couple of weeks, and now that they aren't in each other's pockets all the time he doesn't know what to do with himself.

 

He briefly debates texting Scott, but ultimately doesn't.

 

He hasn't heard anything from Derek yet, but that's most likely because he and Peter are still on the plane.

 

After a few minutes, Noah needs a diaper change so Stiles gets up to change him, and decides to put something together for supper while he's mobile.

 

The whole thing feels a lot like life pre-werewolf. He's not sure he likes it much.

 

***

 

From: Derek Hale

Landed in New York

 

To: Derek Hale

Flight went okay?

 

From: Derek Hale

Peter behaved himself

 

***

 

The sheriff arrives home from work just in time for supper, and it seems to only be then that Noah notices that something is up. Stiles is having a hard time spooning food into the baby's mouth because Noah keeps turning his head back and forth and looking around the room.

 

"He's looking for Derek," Stiles suddenly realizes.

 

"Well, he's gonna have a hard time finding him," the sheriff says. "Maybe you can all Facetime later, or something."

 

"Probably," Stiles says. "Derek isn't here, Buddy, he's gone on a trip." Stiles manages to get a spoonful into Noah's mouth without Noah spitting half the food back out onto his tray.

 

"He's going to have to deal with Derek moving out at some point too," the sheriff says. "You both will."

 

"I'll be able to deal with that fine," Stiles says. He doesn't appreciate the skeptical look the sheriff gives him. "I will!"

 

"If you say so," the sheriff says.

 

"He's not leaving town," Stiles says.

 

"I know," the sheriff says. "He mentioned something about rebuilding the old house?"

 

"I think he's gonna knock it down and build a new house in its place," Stiles says. "Someplace for the whole pack."

 

"You aren't moving in with him," the sheriff quickly says.

 

"Not like that, Dad," Stiles says. "We're not there yet."

 

"And where are you two going, exactly?" The sheriff asks.

 

"Uhm..." Stiles stalls. Noah grabs the spoon from his hand and bangs it against the highchair tray, splattering puréed chicken all over it. "That's gross, Noah." Noah shrieks and then starts spreading the mess around with his hands.

 

"Stiles," the sheriff says.

 

"We maybe started dating," Stiles says. "For real. A bit."

 

"Maybe?" The sheriff asks.

 

"Okay, so we did start dating," Stiles says. "Though it's basically the same as when we were fake dating only we're not calling it fake anymore."

 

"And when did this start?" The sheriff asks.

 

"That day you kicked us out to go 'have fun'," Stiles says. "We both decided that we might like to be actual boyfriends instead of fake ones. And then we went out for ice cream."

 

"Stiles," the sheriff says.

 

"It was all very above-board," Stiles says. "And we've been on our best behaviour since then." They haven't even slept in the same bed since, though that probably has more to do with Stiles moving back into his bedroom and Derek taking the air mattress back downstairs.

 

"He's a lot older than you," the sheriff says. And he has his stern face on. Stiles rolls his eyes.

 

"Dad, he's not that much older," Stiles says. "And we're taking it slow. Very slow. He hasn't been in a relationship in a while, and I have Noah, so it's not like we're just jumping into it." Not to mention the past relationship-related trauma on both their parts, Derek probably more so than Stiles, which is why Stiles doesn't feel entirely comfortable bringing it up.

 

"It's not that I don't trust him, or your judgement," the sheriff says. "It's just... not what I pictured for you at this age."

 

"Well, I already tried being with someone my own age, and look how that turned out," Stiles says. Noah blows a raspberry and then sticks the wrong end of the spoon into his mouth. Then he throws it to the floor with a bright laugh.

 

"Yeah, I suppose," the sheriff says. "But don't think that I won't be keeping a very close eye on the pair of you."

 

"I would expect nothing less," Stiles says.

 

"And the pants don't come off until you're 18," the sheriff says.

 

"Dad!"

 

***

 

From: Derek Hale

Why am I getting texts from your dad that sound like vague threats?

 

To: Derek Hale

I told him about us tonight

 

From: Derek Hale

Ah

 

***

 

Stiles is surprised when his phone rings during lunch at school the next day.

 

He's even more surprised when he checks the caller ID to find that it's Derek calling him. He and Derek don't usually call each other, either they text or they just talk in person. They'd Facetimed the night before with Noah, and had been texting on and off since then, so this phone call is a bit worrying.

 

Stiles gets up from the table he's sitting at and takes Noah with him to a quieter part of the daycare before accepting the call.

 

"Derek?" he asks once the call connects. "What's up?"

 

"Hi, Stiles," Derek says. He sounds a bit off, which has Stiles on alert. Noah babbles and tries to grab the phone from Stiles' hand, and then starts whining when Stiles won't let him have it. "Is that Noah?"

 

"Yeah," Stiles says. "It's lunchtime here so I'm hanging out in the daycare."

 

"Shit," Derek says. "I didn't even think about the time difference." He makes a noise that sounds suspiciously like a sniffle, and Stiles narrows his eyes at the phone.

 

"Don't worry about it," Stiles says. "What's wrong?"

 

"Nothing," Derek says. Another sound, and that's definitely a sniffle of some sort. "Just wanted to hear your voice."

 

"I think you're the first person who's ever said that to me," Stiles says. "Are you and Peter getting along?"

 

"I haven't thrown him out a window yet, or anything," Derek says. "He's out right now. We were going through Laura's things and just stopped to take a break." Ah, there it is. Stiles feels a pang in his chest. He vaguely remembers having to help his dad go through his mother's things after her death. It hadn't been a pleasant experience and it isn't a pleasant memory. He cuddles Noah closer to his chest and the baby makes a grab for the phone again.

 

"Noah says hi," Stiles says.

 

"Hi, Noah," Derek says. Noah babbles at the phone. "By the way, Stiles, Peter says he might know someone up here that can help you with your magic."

 

"Really? I thought Deaton said that I didn't have enough to bother training with," Stiles says.

 

"I think he was just feeding you a line," Derek says. "It's hard for me to get a read on him because he knows how to use his own magic for that kind of thing, but I'm pretty sure he was lying when he said that."

 

"Seriously? That dick," Stiles says. A passing caregiver shoots Stiles a frown, Stiles mouths an apology at her. "I didn't think he hated me that much."

 

"It might not have anything to do with that," Derek says. "Deaton's always been like that. He feels that things should be done a certain way and never wants to explain that way to anyone else. There was always something about him that never sat well with me."

 

"You know him long?" Stiles asks.

 

"Not well, but he was always on the edge of the pack when I was growing up," Derek says. "My mom often consulted with him for pack business."

 

"Hmm," Stiles says. "So, should we be worried that me may be up to something?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Derek says. "He's annoying and sneaky, but I don't think he's necessarily malicious. Not that I've ever seen, anyway."

 

"But he's not gonna be helpful?" Stiles asks.

 

"Probably not," Derek says. "He wasn't very helpful with Scott. Though I'm not sure if that was him being himself, or Scott being himself."

 

"Fair," Stiles says. The bell rings, signaling the end of lunch. Stiles' quiet spot becomes less so as visiting parents start saying their goodbyes to their children and the caregivers start preparing for the afternoon. "Listen, lunch is over here and I have to get back to class. Are you gonna be okay up there?"

 

"Yeah, I'll be fine," Derek says. "Thanks."

 

"Anytime," Stiles says.

 

***

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

Hey Parrish

 

From: Jordan Parrish

??

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

Out of curiosity, what's the police's position on breaking and entering if it's done in a case of emergency?

 

From: Jordan Parrish

What did you do?

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Are you robbing someone?

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

What? No, why would I need to rob anyone?

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Then what are you breaking into somewhere for?

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

There was an issue at Isaac's

 

From: Allison Argent

What kind of issue??

 

From: Allison Argent

Nevermind, I'm going over there

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

Maybe bring your dad?

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

What is happening right now?

 

From: Jordan Parrish

Should I go over in my uniform?

 

From: Jordan Parrish

Or get the sheriff to go over?

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Is this going to end with one of us getting arrested?

 

From: Derek Hale

What the hell guys I've only been gone for one day!!!

 

***

***

Chapter Text

Stiles jitters aimlessly around his bedroom as he waits to hear back from anyone about the latest fuckery that's apparently happening right now.

 

Noah is asleep in the nursery, having gone down easier than the night before after Facetiming Derek again. Stiles can see him, completely dead to the world, on the new fancy video baby monitor his father had gotten him to convince him to go back to sleeping in his own room instead of in the nursery.

 

He hasn't heard from anyone in a while, which he's deciding to take as a good sign because at least no one is telling him to get out of the house for his own safety. Also, because whatever is happening seems to involve Isaac, it's highly probable that this new crisis isn't supernatural related at all.

 

A guy can hope.

 

He's not sure how long he's been waiting when his phone finally rings. It's the sheriff.

 

"Hello?" Stiles asks when he answers the call. "I'm not gonna have to take Noah and run again, am I?"

 

"No, no," the sheriff says. "You're good. We're all pretty good here. Except maybe Isaac, but he'll be fine. Eventually."

 

"What happened?" Stiles asks. "Is Jackson okay? Did he actually break into someone's house?"

 

"Jackson's fine. Allison's fine. We're all fine," the sheriff says. "I won't be home until later because I am taking Mr Lahey to the station as soon as he's finished in the hospital."

 

"Mr Lahey as in Isaac's dad Mr Lahey?" Stiles asks.

 

"Yup," the sheriff says. "Don't worry, though. Just normal police procedure. I'm sure one of your friends will fill you in on everything later." Stiles hears some muffled talking in the background, and then the sheriff sighs. "Okay, apparently Allison and Jackson are on their way over there. They're a bit excitable right now, but please make sure they don't wake the baby."

 

"Okay?" Stiles says.

 

"Also, if Mr Whittemore shows up, just call me and I'll deal with him," the sheriff says. "If I have to listen to him go on and on about keeping you and Allison away from Jackson, or the public in general, I'll have to threaten him with a crossbow myself." The call ends and Stiles is left even more confused than before.

 

***

 

Stiles meets Allison and Jackson on the front porch and they are both, indeed, excitable. Stiles reports this to Derek, who he is on the phone with.

 

"Stiles!" Allison exclaims, running up the driveway.

 

"Hi," Stiles says. "I have Derek on the phone."

 

"What happened?" Derek's voice asks from the phone speaker.

 

"We had a bit of a situation," Jackson says, coming up behind Allison.

 

"Dad said that he has to take Isaac's dad to the hospital," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah, I maybe threw a freezer lid at him," Jackson says.

 

"What?" Stiles asks.

 

"What?" Derek echoes.

 

"Like a deep freezer," Allison says. "One of those big wide ones. That Mr Lahey had Isaac locked in!"

 

"What!?" Stiles exclaims.

 

"Explain," Derek demands. An outside light goes on at the house next door and Stiles ushers Allison and Jackson into his house.

 

"Keep it down because the baby's asleep," he says. "But also tell me everything." They all migrate to the couch in the living room. Stiles sits in the middle with the phone and Allison and Jackson crowd in on either side of him.

 

"I was out for a run because my dad was being annoying," Jackson says. "And I was close to Isaac's house when I heard him screaming and crying inside. I don't think it was loud enough for normal people to hear, but I could hear it fine."

 

"Holy shit," Stiles says.

 

"Yeah, so I kind of panicked and just... burst through the front door?" Jackson says.

 

"He found Isaac locked in a deep freezer," Allison breaks in. "With chains and everything!"

 

"Was the freezer on?" Stiles asks.

 

"No, I don't think it was even plugged in," Jackson says. "But I just ripped the chains and lid off and Isaac was just in there. And, like, the inside of the freezer was covered in scratch marks, Derek. It smelled like dried blood and-and-and- I don't even know. It was awful."

 

"Christ," Derek says. Stiles feels sick, and Allison beside him has gone completely pale. Even Jackson is looking pretty shaken. "Where's Isaac at now?"

 

"The hospital," Allison says. "They sent him there to be checked over while the police investigate the house."

 

"Everyone kinda already knows that Mr Lahey is a pretty weird guy," Jackson says. "Like, I've heard him yelling at Isaac before. But I wasn't expecting this. My dad yells at me sometimes, but he's never locked me in a freezer." Stiles hears something in the background on Derek's end of the call that sounds like Peter saying "good".

 

"Also Isaac definitely noticed that I literally tore a lid and chains off a freezer with my bare hands, so I'm not sure what you want to do about that," Jackson adds.

 

"Did Mr Lahey notice?" Derek asks.

 

"I don't think so," Jackson says. "By the time he got down there – this all happened in their basement, by the way."

 

"Oh, how atmospheric," Stiles snarks.

 

"Anyway," Jackson says. "By the time Mr Lahey got down there I'd already got the lid off and he was yelling and whatever, so I just threw the lid at him and knocked him into a wall. And then I got Isaac upstairs and then texted Parrish."

 

"Okay, well, Jackson, you did good," Derek says. Jackson puffs up a bit under the praise. "I'll talk to Isaac when I get back. Worst case scenario we tell him what's up and ask that he keeps it a secret."

 

"He's apparently good at keeping secrets," Stiles says.

 

"God," Allison says. "This is what he was keeping from me, wasn't it?" Stiles pats her on the back with his free hand.

 

"You really couldn't've known," he says.

 

"I still feel like shit about it though," Allison says.

 

"Yeah," Jackson says.

 

"I'll be home soon," Derek says. "Hang tight until then."

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Allison and Jackson spending the night

 

From: Daddio

The house better be in one piece when I get home

 

To: Daddio

You offend me

 

To: Daddio

Where's Isaac now?

 

From: Daddio

Might have to be in a youth shelter for tonight

 

To: Daddio

🙁

 

***

 

Noah seems delighted with all the extra people in the house when he wakes up the next morning. The sheriff and Parrish come back in the middle of breakfast, where Noah seems too preoccupied with Allison and Jackson's presence to bother eating much.

 

"Lively in here this morning," the sheriff comments as he makes a beeline for the coffee maker.

 

"How's Isaac?" Allison asks.

 

"He's fine," the sheriff says. "Maybe a bit shaken up, but I think he'll be alright."

 

"Did he really have to spend the night in a youth shelter?" Stiles asks. He coaxes a spoonful of baby cereal into Noah's mouth, but the baby doesn't even look away from Jackson's bowl of Froot Loops. Jackson eyes Noah briefly and takes a mouthful of his own breakfast.

 

"Does he eat this?" He asks Stiles, pointing at his bowl.

 

"Not yet," Stiles says. Jackson moves his bowl a bit further from the highchair and Noah pouts, even though there's no way that he can reach it from where he's sitting anyway. Stiles rolls his eyes.

 

"Isaac's been taken care of," the sheriff says. "We found him emergency accommodations with a local family and he's fine. He should be in school today, actually. Which-" he checks his watch "- oh, no, you all still have time."

 

"Well, me and Jackson have to go back home for changes of clothes," Allison says.

 

"Then you'd better hurry up," the sheriff says. Jackson starts wolfing down his cereal. Allison crams the rest of her toast in her mouth. "Any more word from Derek?"

 

"Got a good morning text, that's about it," Stiles says.

 

"Aww," Allison coos. Stiles blushes.

 

***

 

Stiles and Isaac don't have the same homeroom, so Stiles has to actually go seek him out after he drops Noah off at the daycare. He finds Jackson instead, taking books out of his locker and chatting with Danny.

 

"Hey, Stiles," Danny says as Stiles approaches them.

 

"Hey, Danny," Stiles says. "Either of you seen Isaac?"

 

"Not yet," Jackson says.

 

"Is he alright?" Danny asks. "I heard that he and his dad were in the hospital last night."

 

"Yeaahhh," Stiles says. "I heard he was back in school today though." Danny shrugs. Then Allison comes jogging up the hall.

 

"Any of you guys seen Isaac?" She asks.

 

"Not yet," Stiles says. The bell rings for first period and they all disperse. "Text me when you find him!" Stiles calls over his shoulder as he heads to class.

 

"Will do!" Allison calls back.

 

***

 

From: Allison Argent

I think Isaac might be avoiding me 🙁

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

How do you figure?

 

From: Allison Argent

I finally spotted him in class and he didn't even look at me the whole time

 

From: Allison Argent

And he hasn't even texted me

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Maybe try cornering him at lunch?

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

In a non-threatening way?

 

From: Jackson Whittemore

We could use the baby as a prop, that's completely non-threatening

 

From: Jordan Parrish

Your dad says to not bother Isaac too much or do anything to get in trouble

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Hey! No fair reading the texts to Dad, he already opted out of the group chat, that's his fault

 

From: Jordan Parrish

He's also my boss

 

To: The Pack Group Chat

Good point, you're forgiven

 

***

 

The look Quinn gives Stiles when he asks if he can take Noah into the cafeteria for lunch is withering, but she does give him permission.

 

"Only because I have no issues with any of your behaviours in all the time you've been bringing Noah here," she tells him. "But one wrong step and you'll be dealing with me."

 

"Yes, Ma'am," Stiles says, and successfully resists the urge to salute her. He grabs his and Noah's lunches and crosses over into the school proper. Of course the first person he sees on the school side is Finstock.

 

"Stilinski!" Finstock shouts as soon as he spots Stiles with the baby.

 

"Hey, Coach," Stiles says. "What's up?"

 

"Why do you have a baby with you?" Finstock asks, eyes bulging comically.

 

"It's my baby, Coach," Stiles says. "I feel like we've already covered this."

 

"What is it doing in the school?" Finstock asks.

 

"Isaac Lahey's had a bad night so I'm bribing him to hang out with me and my friends with a friendly, non-threatening infant," Stiles says. He jigs Noah on his hip, prompting a smile.

 

"Yes, I heard about that," Finstock says. "No idea why they forced him to come to school after what they're saying he's been through."

 

"I know, right?" Stiles asks. "Anyway, I only have lunch break to have the baby out here, so if you'll excuse us…"

 

"I better not see that baby roaming around the halls on its own," Finstock says. "We don't want a repeat of the pig incident of '99." Stiles opens his mouth to ask about that, but then figures he's better off not knowing and just nods and starts backing away.

 

"If he's still teaching here by the time you're in high school, I'm homeschooling you," Stiles says to Noah. Noah babbles something and then sticks his fist in his mouth.

 

Stiles meets up with Allison and Jackson outside the cafeteria, ignoring the looks of people walking past him. He briefly wonders about bringing Noah inside and worries that the baby may make a scene, but Noah seems almost enraptured by the bustling cafeteria full of students. He keeps looking at the throng of kids and then back to Stiles, a look of awe on his face. It's actually pretty funny and Stiles takes a quick video of it to share with his dad and Derek.

 

"Isaac's in there," Jackson reports. "He's got a table near the back of the room."

 

"Perfect, let's go," Stiles says.

 

"Actually, I think it'd be a good idea if I went in alone first," Allison says. "Just in case he reacts badly."

 

"Makes sense," Stiles says. "Just give us a signal when you're sure that he won't bolt." Allison gives him a thumbs up and then walks into the cafeteria.

 

"In the interest of full disclosure," Jackson says, once Allison has briefly disappeared among the packed tables. "I should mention that both Scott and Lydia are in there somewhere."

 

"Hoo boy," Stiles says.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

From: Allison Argent

Safe to approach

 

"You don't think Lydia is actually gonna come over just because I have the baby there, do you?" Stiles asks, putting his phone back in his pocket.

 

"I don't think so," Jackson says. "But you never know. C'mon, follow me."

 

"Scott would probably come over though," Stiles says, trailing Jackson into the cafeteria.

 

"Wouldn't surprise me," Jackson says. Stiles feels that people are starting to whisper to each other as he passes them, but that might also just be him being paranoid. He doesn't look anywhere but Jackson's back as they wind through the tables to get to the back where Isaac is sitting.

 

It turns out that Isaac isn't sitting alone, even without counting Allison. Sitting on either side of him is Boyd, who Stiles knows works at the local skating rink, and Erica, who Stiles knows for more unfourtunate reasons. Boyd and Erica seem to both be minding their own business, focused on their lunches, so Stiles isn't sure if they're there with Isaac or if they just happened to be at the table when Isaac first got there.

 

Isaac looks a bit panicked when he spots Jackson, and then just confused when he sees Stiles and Noah. Stiles waves, Isaac blinks at him.

 

"Hey, guys," Allison says. She's sitting across the table from Isaac, Boyd, and Erica, and she has a grin on her face but it seems forced. Stiles and Jackson sit down on either side of her, Noah in Stiles' lap.

 

"That's your baby?" Erica suddenly asks. Her voice is soft and she peers at Noah from between curtains of messy blond hair. Stiles looks down at Noah and then back to Erica.

 

"Yup," Stiles says.

 

"I didn't think you were allowed to bring babies to school," Erica says.

 

"Well, usually he's at the daycare, but this is a special occasion," Stiles says. "This is the first time I've been in the cafeteria all year."

 

"Wait, really?" Isaac asks, then seems annoyed at himself for talking.

 

"Usually I eat lunch in the daycare," Stiles says. He produces a bib from the diaper bag and fastens it one-handed around Noah's neck. Then he takes a jar of baby food out and opens it. Then he has to quickly move it farther across the table when Noah tries to stick his hand in it. Jackson eyes the jar and wrinkles his nose.

 

"What is that?" He asks.

 

"Chicken stew," Stiles says. "I know it smells weird, but Noah likes it." Jackson just gives him a look and gets up to join the lunch line for a hot lunch. Stiles gets out his lunch – a sandwich and a bag of Cheetos – and does his usual dance of trying to feed himself and the baby at the same time without putting the wrong food in the wrong mouth. Erica, Boyd, and Isaac watch this in fascination.

 

"So, Isaac," Stiles says. "How're you doing today? After, like, last night, or whatever?" Isaac starts fidgeting with an empty chocolate bar wrapper and keeps his gaze pointed down.

 

"Fine, I guess," he mumbles. "I stayed with Boyd's family last night."

 

"That's good," Allison says.

 

"Yeah," Isaac says. "I'll probably go back home today, though. As soon as my dad's out of the hospital." Stiles and Allison share a look, but don't say anything. They don't want to air Isaac's private affairs in public. Jackson soon returns to the table with a tray and sits back down next to Allison.

 

"Incoming," he mutters.

 

"What?" Isaac asks.

 

"Hey, guys," Scott says from behind Stiles. Stiles resists the urge to turn around and look, instead putting some more food in Noah's mouth.

 

"McCall," Jackson says, taking a pointed mouthful of some surprisingly non-cardboard-looking pizza.

 

"What's up?" Scott asks. "I didn't expect to see you in the cafeteria, Stiles. Usually you just avoid it."

 

"Got special permission to take Noah here today, so here I am," Stiles says. "Can't make a habit of it, though. Rules."

 

"Right," Scott says. "Can I sit down?"

 

"Not up to me," Stiles says. He scrapes the last of the chicken stew from the jar and feeds it to Noah. Then he switches out the empty jar with a dessert pouch, which should distract Noah enough - since he can actually eat it on his own -  so that Stiles can eat his Cheetos in peace.

 

"What do you want, Scott?" Allison sighs.

 

"Just, y'know, to hang out," Scott says. Stiles has absolutely no idea what to do here. He hasn’t spoken with Scott since their blow out, and he's not sure he wants to be hanging around him right now. But maybe this could be a first step in repairing their friendship? Allison shrugs and Scott grins and sits down next to Stiles.

 

"Can I hold him?" Erica suddenly asks. "The baby, I mean."

 

"Uh," Stiles says. "Sure. If he'll go. But he generally likes people, so..." He stands up to hand Noah to Erica over the table. Noah, sucking contentedly on his baby food pouch, seems to take the transfer in stride. Erica settles the baby on her lap and grins at him, and then Noah reaches out with one fist and grabs a chunk of her hair.

 

"Noah, no!" Stiles exclaims, reaching over. Luckily Noah doesn't pull, and Isaac and Erica manage to untangle the baby's fist from Erica's hair. Though now Stiles is sure there's some foodstuffs in Erica's hair. "I am so sorry, I didn't think he'd do that."

 

"No problem," Erica says, and accepts the napkin Isaac hands her. "I have little siblings and cousins, I know how it goes." She boops Noah on the nose and is rewarded with a wide grin.

 

"He's never done that to me," Allison says.

 

"I'm sure it's coming one of these days," Stiles says. He wipes up his area of the table and shoves a few Cheetos in his mouth. "So, Isaac, can we expect you at my place this afternoon?"

 

"He needs to come straight home after school," Boyd says. This is the first time he's spoken this whole time. Stiles had almost forgotten he was there.

 

"Oh, uh, okay," Stiles says awkwardly. "That's fine." Boyd nods at him, Isaac fidgets uncomfortably. Noah throws his baby food pouch across the table and it lands on Jackson's tray. Jackson makes a face at it.

 

"Do you want to hang out tonight?" Scott asks. Stiles turns to him to find him leaning forward against the table to talk over Stiles to Allison.

 

"I don't think that's a good idea, Scott," Allison says.

 

"Because you're hanging out with Stiles?" Scott asks.

 

"Because I don't think it's a good idea," Allison says. "I still don't get the impression from you that you've accepted that I've moved on."

 

"With Isaac?" Scott asks. "Seriously?"

 

"There's nothing wrong with Isaac," Allison says. "And even if Isaac wasn't in the picture, I've still moved on." Stiles feels very uncomfortable being literally in the middle of this, but he doesn't want to move away and remove himself as a buffer between Allison and Scott. He manages to catch Isaac's eye and they share a brief uncomfortable look, at which point Isaac gets up from the table and leaves.

 

Boyd checks the time on his watch. "Lunchtime's almost over."

 

"So it is," Stiles says.

 

"Excuse me." Everyone, including Scott and Allison, turn to look at a new arrival on the scene. Matt the yearbook photographer is standing at the end of the table, camera in hand.

 

"What do you want?" Jackson asks him, eyes narrowed.

 

"I just... Is that Lydia Martin's baby?" He asks, pointing at Noah. Erica twists her body to give Noah a bit of cover.

 

"No, he's my baby," Stiles says.

 

"You can't tell?" Allison asks. "Looks just like him." Matt rolls his eyes.

 

"You know what I mean," he says.

 

"Look, what do you want?" Stiles asks.

 

"I want to get a picture for the yearbook," Matt says, gesturing with his camera. "There are some shots of Lydia, y'know, pregnant in last year's book, and I thought this would make a decent update. It's almost like a celebrity baby watch update."

 

"Yeahhh, how about no," Stiles says. "If my kid somehow ends up in the yearbook, it won't be as a topic of gossip over Lydia Martin. I wouldn't like that, and she definitely wouldn't appreciate it."

 

"Oh, come on," Matt says. "It's not like it's a secret or anything."

 

"Bye, Matt," Jackson says, shooing Matt away with one hand. Matt narrows his eyes at Jackson, but doesn't say anything to him. Instead he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a business card, which he slides down the table towards Stiles.

 

"Here's my contact info if you change your mind," Matt says. "I think it could make for a decent spread." Then he walks away. Jackson grabs the card and rips it up, leaving the pieces in a small pile on his tray.

 

"That was weird," Stiles says. "I'm not alone in this, right? That was weird?"

 

"It was something, alright," Jackson says.

 

"Why don't you just go for it," Scott says. "It wouldn't hurt anyone."

 

"I don't know about that," Stiles says. "But it would definitely cause problems that I don't need."

 

"I'd better get going," Erica says. "Here." She passes Noah back to Stiles and then gets up. Boyd gets up with her and they leave together. Stiles sits Noah on the table in front of him and lets Noah pat at his face.

 

"Well that was useless," he says. One of Noah's hands lands on his mouth and Stiles pretends to eat it. Noah laughs loudly, drawing a bit more attention than Stiles is comfortable with.

 

"Well, not totally," Allison says. "We know where he ended up, and he's in school so we know he's some kind of okay."

 

"And he didn't run away screaming when we first showed up," Jackson adds.

 

"What are you guys talking about?" Scott asks.

 

"Isaac," Stiles says. "You know he was in the hospital last night, right?"

 

"Yeah, my mom mentioned something about him and his dad being there," Scott says. "What does that have to do with you guys?"

 

"Well, Jackson's the one that..." Stiles flounders a bit. "Called him the ambulance?"

 

"Sure, let's go with that," Jackson says.

 

"Right," Stiles says. "So we feel a bit connected to the situation. Plus, he's Allison's boyfriend and sort of our friend now, so we're worried about him." Scott frowns at them all. The bell rings to signal the end of lunch and Stiles all but leaps to his feet.

 

"Welp, I'd better get this one back to daycare," he says, propping Noah up on his hip.

 

"I'll walk with you," Allison says quickly. "See you later, Jackson. Bye, Scott."

 

"Later," Jackson says with a small wave.

 

"Later, I guess," Scott says. Allison gives him a tight smile as she gets up from the table. Stiles grabs his diaper bag and leads the way out of the cafeteria, continuing to ignore the looks he gets as he walks by some still-occupied tables.

 

***

 

Allison isn't allowed to go into the daycare with Stiles so she says her goodbyes to Noah at the door to the administration offices and then heads off to class. Stiles isn't expecting her to still be there when he leaves the daycare to go to his own class.

 

He definitely isn't expecting Lydia to be waiting for him either.

 

"What the hell was that?" Lydia hisses at him as soon as Stiles is back in the school. He flinches a bit at the venom in her tone, but manages to not turn right back around and run back into the safety of the daycare.

 

"What was what?" He asks.

 

"That," Lydia says. "In the cafeteria. Parading the baby around and giving people something to gossip about."

 

"Uh, excuse me?" Stiles asks. "I wasn't 'parading the baby around', I was taking him to eat lunch with me and my friends. If people want to gossip about that then I don't care, they can do what they want."

 

"And you didn't think that it would affect me at all?" Lydia asks. "Now I have to deal with people coming to ask me why I didn't go say hi, or why they never see me with the baby, or if that's why Jackson broke up with me! I worked hard to maintain my reputation here and I don't need you ruining it with your theatrics." Stiles bristles at this.

 

"First of all: fuck you," Stiles says. Lydia's eyes widen in surprise. "Second of all: I don't need to check in with you whenever I want to do anything with my son. You forfeited that right when you signed away your rights. Do you just expect me to not take him anywhere just in case someone notices and asks you about him? Fuck that."

 

"I expect you to not flaunt it all over school," Lydia says.

 

"I'm not keeping him a secret just to protect your ego," Stiles says. "He deserves better than that."

 

"Hey!" Stiles starts in surprise and turns to see one of the admin staff leaning out of the door to the offices. "Get to class, the pair of you. This isn't a social venue." He glares at Lydia and Stiles until they both walk off and around a corner.

 

"This is why I wanted to put him up for adoption," Lydia says in a harsh whisper. "I don't need my biggest mistake following me around my whole life." Stiles' heart clenches and he hopes that Noah never learns about Lydia's true feelings for him. Not that Stiles really ever expects them both to interact in any meaningful way at any point, but still.

 

"Maybe you should have thought of that before you tricked me into sleeping with you," Stiles whispers back, equally harsh. Lydia gives him a dirty glare and speeds up to put some distance between her and Stiles. Stiles growls softly and tugs at his hair in frustration.

 

***

 

To Stiles' surprise, he gets approached by other students a few times over the course of the afternoon. Apparently he and Noah are the hot topic of the moment, even though all Stiles did was accidentally remind everyone that he and the baby exist.

 

A common question is wondering what it's like to co-parent with Lydia, and if she's the same kind aloof popular mean girl with him and the baby as she is with everyone else at school. Stiles usually redirects these people to Lydia herself because he's feeling petty and vindictive. Maybe he'll get an earful about it from Lydia at some point, maybe not. His parenting is none of these people's business and Lydia's feelings are none of his concern.

 

He's glad for the end of the school day, and practically leaps from his desk as soon as the final bell rings. He picks Noah up from the daycare, listens to a lecture from Quinn about the appropriateness of bringing his baby to mingle with the student population, then heads outside to the Jeep.

 

There are two people waiting for him at the Jeep. Jackson and-

 

"Derek!" Stiles exclaims excitedly. He rushes down the school steps, across the parking lot, and straight into Derek's arms. Derek wraps Stiles and Noah up in a tight hug and sticks his face in Stiles' neck. Stiles feels and hears him inhale deeply, even over Noah's excited squealing, and fists his hands in Derek's shirt.

 

Has it really only been a few days since they last saw each other?

 

"When did you get back?" Stiles asks.

 

"About an hour ago," Derek says. "Dealing with the apartment and arranging for the rest of our stuff to be shipped down didn't take as long as I thought it would, so I decided to come back early."

 

"I'm glad you're back," Stiles says. "We missed you."

 

"I missed you too," Derek says.

 

Stiles spots Jackson over Derek's shoulder, rolling his eyes but with a smile on his face.

 

***

***

Chapter Text

To: The Pack Group Chat

Derek's back early!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

From: Allison Argent

Yay!!!

 

From: Jordan Parrish

Welcome back

 

***

 

To: Daddio

Derek's home

 

From: Daddio

Oh good

 

***

 

Noah refuses to be separated from Derek for any significant length of time, so Derek spends the rest of the evening with him either in his arms or on his lap. Derek doesn't seem at all put out by this development, and Noah certainly doesn't mind at all.

 

"So you just left Peter in New York?" Stiles asks. He, Derek, and Noah are lounging on the couch with some kids show playing on Netflix. Noah is staring at the TV while tucked into the crook of Derek's arm, and Stiles is just barely not sitting in Derek's lap. The sheriff, sitting in one of the armchairs with a newspaper, is mostly pretending to not notice their close proximity, for which Stiles is grateful.

 

"Yeah," Derek says. "He ran into some old contacts and decided to stay to catch up. Now that he's conscious and part of a pack again, he wants to re-establish some old ties so he can go back to his former duties."

 

"What does that mean?" the sheriff asks, peering over the top of his newspaper. "Should we be worried that he's going to snap again and go on another spree?"

 

"No on the snapping and the spree," Derek says. "He actually didn't snap the last time. Aside from Laura and maybe the janitor, he was perfectly sane when he went after the people involved with the fire."

 

"He wasn't crazy?" Stiles asks.

 

"No," Derek says. "Just very, very angry, apparently."

 

"Huh," Stiles says. "No