As Derek had made himself scarce—literally running toward the woods at the edge of town—Stiles drove to the grocery store for supplies after calling Scott to tell him where he was. Since Stiles had not noticed Derek’s car anywhere near his house when he came to speak to Scott, Stiles figured it was keeping a place at a local hotel, and he briefly wondered what type of car a werewolf would drive.
Probably something responsible and eco-friendly.
Stiles decided that pasta and sauce would be a good and filling dinner, and quickly purchased the tri-colored veggie pasta that he favored and fresh basil and garlic for a home-made pesto sauce. He also bought new yeast for some home-made bread.
John had almost laughed at the request for a high-end food processor that Stiles wanted for Christmas when he was fourteen, but it was eventually well and often used: fresh salsa and salad dressing and bread were great additions to Stiles’ increasingly healthy menu goals.
When Stiles finally opened the door to his home, he found Scott napping on the sofa in the living room.
“Hey! Scott! Come help with the groceries, dude!”
Scott flailed off the sofa and landed in a crouched position, eyes flashing bright yellow, relaxing only when his eyes landed on Stiles.
“Sorry, bro. Not sleeping last night kinds caught up to me.”
Stiles shrugged. “Not a problem. Can you grab these bags, please? I want to get the bread dough started.”
Scott scrambled to the entryway and hefted the grocery bags easily. “You’re making bread? I love your bread! What’s the occasion?”
“Derek’s friend from Oregon is coming, remember? Dad said to invite her to dinner, so I thought I’d try to make a good impression.”
Scott began to rummage through the bags. “So what’s for dinner, and can I help?”
Stiles was pouring dry yeast into a cup of warm salt water. “I’m doing pasta and pesto, with fresh bread. I’m gonna make chocolate and yogurt fruit parfaits for dessert, too, so if you want to help you can grate the chocolate and wash the berries.”
Scott nodded and unpacked the rest of the food-stuffs, setting aside the bar of semi-sweet chocolate and the packets of berries. “Is your dad totally not freaking out about the werewolf thing, because I’m still freaking out?”
“He’s dealing. I think once he has more information he’ll be on track. He only wants to help you and to keep Beacon Hills safe from the crazy wolf that bit you.” Stiles looked at his friend as he poured the flour and water into his processor. “We can all be there to tell your mom, if you want. You have support, Scott. You aren’t alone, you know.”
Scott gave a wan smile. “I know. I just don’t want my mom to hate me.”
“She’s not going to hate you, Scott. She birthed you. She is contractually obligated to love you no matter what.”
“I don’t think that’s how that works, Stiles.”
Derek spent the hours between lunch and dinner reading in his hotel room. The Beacon Inn was a fairly upscale place, so the walls were not paper-thin and the bed was comfortable. Derek had tried to nap, but he was too keyed-up after his confession to the Sheriff.
Now he was just waiting for the arrival of Regina Kincaide, Emissary to the Gallagher Pack of Prospect, Oregon.
He should probably, he figured, feel nervous about having her come to Beacon Hills, but he was really anticipating her visit. Regina had been the first to make Derek feel welcome within the Gallagher Pack. Laura had been the one to contact their mother’s old friends and ask for sanctuary, and she had been the one to tell Liam Gallagher about the deaths of the Hale Pack—and Derek’s culpability in the fire. Liam was open to having the remaining Hales live within his territory, but he was always reserved with Derek. Regina was the one to spend time with Derek, asking him about his plans for schooling or employment, or talking about sports and literature. Derek was starving for positive female attention, and he really opened up to Regina. She was the first to hear the real story about Paige and she was the first person ever to not blame him for the fire—even after hearing about the hunter that he was involved with. Regina begged to be told the name of the woman who killed his family, but Derek was ashamed of the whole thing and would never tell her. He resolved to fix that omission during her visit to Beacon Hills. If he could tell John and Stiles Stilinski—who were practically strangers—then he could tell the Emissary that had befriended him during the past summer.
Regina called around five o’clock, letting him know that the drive was long and tedious, and that she was not driving any farther so where was his hotel, because she was getting a room near him and hiding her own car keys. Fifteen minutes later, Derek was carrying her very large and heavy suitcase into the room directly across the hall from his own, while Regina carried a carved wooden crate.
“This is a beautiful town, Derek. I’m sure you were very happy growing up here.”
Derek dropped the suitcase carefully onto the valet stand and backed toward the wall so she could walk past him. “From what I let myself remember, it was good here. Peaceful. I had friends in school, but I don’t know what’s become of them now.”
Regina turned toward him and placed fisted hands deliberately on her dainty hips. “Tomorrow, you will take me to your former home, so that I may lay blessing on your sister’s grave. I shall also take the measure of the place. I have a feeling you will want to leave us eventually, and return to your own territory, so I need to make sure there is a place for you here.”
Derek shoved his hands into his jeans pockets. “There’s nothing for me here, Regina. Peter is…not well, and I was going to follow Laura’s wishes and move him north to that hospital in Medford.”
Regina leveled a shrewd look at him and Derek felt the need to fidget. “I think, young Mr. Hale, that there could be good things for you here, if you open yourself to them. But,” she continued as she grabbed her purse, “That is to be established later. I was promised a meal, yes? And I need to councel a young, bitten wolf?”
Derek nodded and opened the door for her. “The Sheriff is a good man, and he invited us to dinner. His son is cooking, and the kid is on a ‘healthy-eating’ kick, but the food is good.”
“There is nothing wrong with not eating junk food, Derek. Is the new Wolf going to be there?”
“Yeah, I think so. He said something about his mother working late tonight.”
Regina tsked loudly. “She’ll have to be educated, I suppose? I hope she’s a clear-headed one.”
“I guess we’ll find out some time tomorrow.”
Stiles was still busy in the kitchen, trying to keep Scott from helping too much (the boy was a disaster in the kitchen, despite Stiles’ tutelage) when John stepped off the staircase in time to answer the doorbell. Through the frosted window, John could make out the tall form of Derek Hale, but it looked like he was alone.
Until John opened the door.
Regina Kincaide was nothing like John had let himself expect.
She stood just around five feet tall, so Derek towered over her, and she was thin as a rail. She had graying red hair and bright grass-green eyes that held a steely resolve that belied her apparent frailty. She carried a quilted purse and a walking stick that was as tall as she was, carved out of some dark wood with metal adornments and a faceted crystal on top. Aside from the walking staff and old-lady purse, Regina was dressed in a soft taupe sweater and faded jeans with worn-in walking boots.
She could have been someone’s cool grandmother, but she seemed oddly ageless.
John stepped back and permitted his guests’ entry. He held out a welcoming hand in greeting. “I’m John Stilinski, and you must be Regina Kincaide. It’s so good of you to come all this way for us.”
Regina returned the handshake, holding John’s hand for just a moment too long. “It’s is a great pleasure to meet you, Mr. Stilinski. Or should I call you ‘Sheriff’? Your energy is lovely.”
John gave a bemused grin. “Just call me ‘John’, please. I’m not one to stand on ceremony.”
Regina nodded. “Derek tells me your son’s name is ‘Stiles’? Was that intended sadism on your part, or that of your wife?”
Her eyes brightened with laughter as she said this, so John did not take offense. He glanced briefly at Derek as he responded, “His name is actually Szczepan—and that was intended sadism on the part of his mother. When I struggled with the name, she allowed me to call him ‘Son’, but when hestruggled with it, she nick-named him ‘Stiles’, and that’s what stuck.”
“Then that is what I shall call him.”
John ushered his guests into the living room and Regina sat in place of honour in the recliner while Derek sat near her on the sofa. “I think dinner is almost ready, so I’ll go check. Can I get either one of you a drink first?”
Derek shook his head but Regina said, “I would not say no to some water. It was a long drive, and I did not allow many stops in order to get here in a timely manner.”
John nodded and headed into the kitchen, where he found Stiles and Scott leaning on the counter, watching the stove. Stiles turned toward him when he reached for a glass near the fridge. “So, Dad…what does an Emissary/Witch look like?”
John wrinkled his forehead in thought as he filled the glass with ice and water. “She looks like she could be very mischievous, but also very serious. Whatever she has to say, you both need to pay attention. I remember a college professor telling me, long ago, that ‘witch’ once meant ‘wise woman’, and Regina Kincaide fits that mould at first sight.”
Stiles nodded and reached a slotted spoon into the pot on the stove. “Well, dinner is just about ready, so you can bring them to the table. I cleaned off the formal dining table for the occasion.”
Scott huffed in annoyance. “You mean I cleaned it off.”
Stiles looked unimpressed. “Scott, I let you shave the chocolate for the dessert, and you helped knead the bread. That was all I was prepared to risk for this dinner. Cleaning was a much better use for your kitchen skills. Now, carry the bread basket and water pitcher to the table and then come back and help me with the plates.”
John chuckled as he traveled to the living room with Regina’s water glass. “Here you go. Dinner is, in fact, ready, so Stiles wanted me to show you to your seats.” Derek rose from the sofa and offered his arm to Regina, who left her walking stick behind in favour of her water glass.
John was amazed at the properly dressed table in the formal dining room. They rarely used this room, only for holidays with Scott and his mother, so it was often covered in John’s work files and stacks of junk mail.
Now, Stiles had pulled out the good china, crystal goblets, formal silverware, and cloth napkins. There was a centerpiece of glass candleholders and pillar candles of different heights and colors, but the main chandelier light was lit with dimmed bulbs. The bread basked was filled with still-warm sliced bread and Stiles had filled his mother’s butter dish with what looked like real butter.
John pulled out a chair for Regina, seating her on his own left, with Derek next to her. Stiles and Scott would sit on the opposite side of the table, leaving the seat at the end empty. John was just sitting when Scott appeared carrying plates covered with red, green, and white pasta and a bright green sauce. He smiled shyly at Regina and nodded at Derek as he sat the plates in front of them and returned to the kitchen. Scott returned immediately with two more plates, followed by Stiles, who was carrying his own plate and a bottle of…wine?
John raised an eyebrow at the bottle and Stiles smirked. “I thought sparkling red grape juice would taste good with the pasta. I also have water and lemon slices if you don’t want bubbles.”
Stiles nodded to the guests and raised his fork. “So, the pasta is boxed, but the pesto is home-made, as is the bread. Oh! Don’t fill up too much on the pasta, because there is dessert, too. I hope you like it!” And then he took a dainty bite, which served to allow the others to begin eating.
There was light conversation—how was your trip, where did you get this recipe, what is your favorite subject in school—but mostly they ate in silence, somehow knowing that the serious conversation would have to wait until the table was cleared. Regina kept an observing eye on Scott, noticing how he held himself stiffly, so as not to embarrass himself. Stiles had no such inhibitions, and he laughed freely, totally unconcerned with how often Regina looked at him as if she were uncovering a hidden treasure.
Derek helped clear the dinner plates while Scott carried in the parfait dishes and Stiles started the coffee-maker. John and Stiles both carried the coffee accoutrements—sugar bowl and creamer and spoons on two trays– and John, Regina, and Derek doctored their coffee carefully. Stiles took his black with a little bit of sugar, but Scott had a small glass of milk in front of him. The chocolate/yogurt and berry parfaits were a huge hit, and soon enough, those dishes were cleared away and coffee was taken to the living room.
It was time for the serious portion of the evening.
Regina had spoken with Stiles during dinner, getting a feel for his humor and intelligence, but she had not purposely touched the boy. As she stood in the entrance to the cozy living room, she reached out and touched his hand.
They both felt a small static-shock.
Regina leaned close to Stiles and murmured, “I must speak with you and your father privately tomorrow. It is nothing to worry about, child, but there is information you simply must have.” Stiles nodded in agreement and took a seat on the floor in front of his father, ignoring the questioning looks he got from both Derek and Scott–both of them had clearly heard the whispered comment, though John had not.
Regina sat back in the comfortably worn recliner and clasped her hands together in her lap. She watched Scott squirm for a moment before speaking. “What have you noticed about your body since your bite, boy?” Her voice was soft, but her tone was pure steel.
Scott swallowed deeply. “Um, I can hear, like, everything. All the time. And I can smell things better.” Scott frowned deeply and his forehead wrinkled. “Man—that locker room is going to be horrible when school starts again!”
Regina nodded and smiled. “Anything else, Scott?”
“Yeah—I don’t need my inhaler anymore. I thought it was a fluke at first, but I usually need it at least three times a day.”
Regina sighed. “You will notice, in a very short time, that you are stronger than you used to be. You will need to become very aware of your body; else you could harm someone unintentionally. Your vision will become more acute and your hearing will become more sensitive than it is even now. There are some Wolves in the Pack that I serve that claim to be able to hear the blood rushing through someone’s veins, and I know they can all hear heartbeats.
“Pay close attention to the heartbeats, Scott. You will be able to hear when a person lies to you, or when they have fear in their hearts. You will be able to scent when someone is aroused sexually, or when someone is taking illicit drugs. You will also be able to taste chemicals in foods, so you may want to start eating more organic and natural foods. Derek here has a fondness for take-out pizza, so all is not lost to you, but you will have to build up a tolerance for such artificial preservatives as are in fast food. You will also become sensitive to bright lights, so you may want to begin wearing lightly tinted glasses for a while. You can also look into contact lenses with a protective coating, if you like, as they will help you fit in better in a social setting.”
Scott frowned. “Why would coated contacts help more than tinted glasses?”
Derek looked up at Stiles and asked, “Do you have your phone on you?”
“Take my picture.”
Stiles shrugged, but pulled his cell phone from his pocket and aimed the camera at Derek, who only gazed blankly back at him. Stiles snapped the picture, and a small flash went off in the camera. “Okay? So what?”
Derek stood and crossed the room to Stiles and Scott. “Pull up the picture in the viewer.”
Stiles did and he and Scott were shocked at the bright glare that covered almost all of Derek’s face in the photo.
Derek pointed at the picture. “Werewolf eyes reflect the light in spotlights, camera flashes, and headlights—just like canine eyes. When I was in school, I had to wear these special coated contact lenses so that my mom could have school pictures of me each grade. I only wore them one day each year until I got my driver’s license. I can get you information on how to get them, if you want, but light hitting you now will reflect badly in your eyes.”
“Dude! Look over here!” Stiles lifted his phone again and took a picture when Scott looked in his direction. Stiles transferred the photo to the viewer and Scott could see the glare that blocked out his own distinctive features.
“My mother is going to hate that!” Scott looked positively stricken. “Oh, god! My mother is going to hate me! She’ll think I’m a monster!”
“Scott! Stop it!” Regina’s voice put a halt to Scott’s pitiful rant. “The Bite can be a gift to those wise enough to use it. You had human weakness, now you do not. With proper training, you will become successful at controlling your Wolf, and you can be a normal member of society. I will be here for a few days at least, so I can help explain to your mother what has happened. But the important thing is: you must learn to control yourself, so you do not attract the most dangerous of all creatures—the Hunter!”
Scott swallowed deeply. “What is a Hunter?”
Regina raised one regal eyebrow. “A Hunter is a human that views werewolves as abominations. Most Hunters work in a clan format, and they mostly adhere to a moral code—they only hunt Wolves that are feral and a danger to humans. An out-of-control werewolf will call hunters from far distances, and if the rogue that bit you continues to attack then hunters will come to Beacon Hills seeking to destroy it. I would hope that you do not intend to become a target of such hunters.
“Also, there are factions of hunters—very small factions—that do not adhere to that code. They would hunt all werewolves, no matter if they are peaceful or not. Hunters such as this killed Derek’s entire family, and they would be attracted to a rogue werewolf. They would see a rogue as an example of how horrible Wolves really are, and they would use it as an excuse to hunt any and all Packs. I would not have such hunters attracted to an area so close to my own Pack, do you understand?”
Scott nodded shakily. “Yes, ma’am. I understand. I need to get control, or I could get hunted.”
“Not just you, Scott,” said Derek softly. “Those kind of hunters would kill you, Stiles, your mom—anyone you hang around or hold dear. There were humans in my family and the hunters didn’t care. They killed them all.”
They sat there, the five of them, in the living room—discussing the changes in Scott’s body and mind and what he would need to do to become in control of the animal inside of him. Scott paid close attention to Regina as she told him of the meditation techniques she could teach him, but he kept shooting disapproving glances toward Derek, and Stiles couldn’t understand why.
After two hours had passed, Stiles could see that Scott was starting to glaze over, just like in history class, so he stood and stretched slightly. “Hey, guys, it’s getting late and Momma McCall is going to be home soon. Why don’t I drive Scott home and the three of you can talk some more. We can figure out when would be good to talk to Scott’s mom later, okay?”
John stood as well, picking up his coffee cup and gesturing to Regina’s cup—offering a refill, which she agreed to. “Okay, son, you do that. I think Regina has more information for just me anyway. Don’t stay too late.”
In the Jeep Scott settled back in his seat and leaned against the window, heaving a heavy sigh. Stiles shot him a look. “What is your problem with Derek, Scott? He’s trying to help you, you know.”
“Well, I wouldn’t need that kind of help if he hadn’t come back here after all this time, now would I?”
“What? What are you talking about? He didn’t bite you! He didn’t invite that crazy alpha to bite you!”
Scott huffed in annoyance. “There weren’t any werewolves running around until he got here, is all I’m saying.”
Stiles gripped the steering wheel tightly. “Scott, Derek’s sister was killed by that crazy werewolf. If it killed her, then it could have killed just about anyone and made it look like an ordinary animal attack. We don’t know how long it was around here, okay, so you can’t blame Derek.”
“He wants me to quit Lacrosse! How is that fair, Stiles? It’s all I ever wanted, and he says I can’t play.”
“No,” said Stiles patiently, “he said you should not play for a while. At least until you’re sure you won’t wolf-out on the field and hurt someone. It’s not unreasonable, Scott.”
But Scott was pouting and refused to answer. Minutes later, Stiles was pulling to a stop in front of the McCall house and Scott was releasing his seatbelt.
“Mom should be home soon, so I’m going to be in bed before she is. I’ll call you later, Stiles.”
And he closed the Jeep door firmly and ran inside the house, leaving Stiles to drive home confused; wondering what was going on with his usually fair-minded friend.
John held out the fresh mug of coffee to Regina and reclaimed his seat on the sofa. “So, I was hoping you would have some information for me about how I can protect against werewolf attacks.”
Regina swallowed a sip and smiled. “I have much to tell you in that regard. Tomorrow, when we have more time, I shall present you with the means to provide good offense and better defense in regards to the Wolf that has come to your town. I brought supplies for you, as well as the means to create your own arsenal.
“But, before your son comes home from his journey, there is something I must talk to you about. I felt a kinship with both of you from the moment I laid eyes on you. There is a hint of the ‘other-natural’ about you; a possibility that there is lineage in the supernatural that you may not be aware of. When I shook your hand in greeting, I felt only integrity and honesty. You are a good man, John Stilinski. I know that you will take my advice to heart. But when I touched your son’s hand, I felt…a presence.”
John frowned. “Like, he’s possessed or something?”
Regina chuckled. “No. But there is something inside of him, something powerful that is struggling to break free. Does he have any…difficulties? Does he struggle mentally?”
John nodded into his coffee cup. “He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was around five years old. He was held back in school for a year because of it—he just couldn’t sit still or concentrate. He still has trouble concentrating, even with the Adderall. I’ve had him to the doctor twice in the past three years to have his medication adjusted. He barely sleeps, and then he’ll crash so hard it’s like he just—unplugs.”
Regina nodded gently. “There is a Spark within him, and it is trying to get out.”
“A ‘Spark’? What does that mean?”
“He is likely magical. He will, once he is trained, be capable of great things. He will only be limited by his imagination.”
John sank into the sofa and ran his hands over his face. “And if he isn’t trained? Because I’m not sure I can handle that.”
“Handle it or not, it must happen, John Stilinski. Would you allow him to handle one of your handguns at this moment?”
“No, of course not! He’d shoot his own foot off!”
Regina smirked. “If he does not receive training for the magic inside him, he could likely blow this house off the foundation. The ADHD is likely a physical manifestation of the Spark struggling to get free. In a heavy emotional state, it could burst free. Anything he says in the heat of the moment could become reality.”
The color drained from John’s face as he sat forward. “About two years ago, we got into an argument about my working hours. I had to cover a shift for a sick deputy and broke plans Stiles and I had made together. As I was leaving the house, he screamed at me: ‘You could roll into a ditch and I’ll never know what happened to you!’. I blew it off, but not ten minutes later, both right-side tires blew on the cruiser and I went into a ditch. I didn’t roll, and I was able to radio for help right away, but I never told him about it.”
Regina nodded. “Yes, this is what I mean. The Spark makes things happen. It is not like spell work, where words and rituals are carefully crafted. He would see in his mind an action or reaction, and it would happen. Possibly not instantly, else you could have been seriously hurt, but only his mind and imagination would cause the effect.”
John swallowed more coffee, wishing he had doctored it. “Could you train him? Or find someone who will?”
Regina grinned widely. “I would be honored to train such a wild talent. But I would not presume to do so without your permission—or his. He must be gently told about his potential. He must also be tested, to see how strong the Spark is within him. If he is amenable, I will make time for him. But secrecy is paramount. He must not reveal what he has inside of him. Sparks are often used and abused, because the raw power is coveted. Trained witches and wizards often don’t obtain the power levels that a Spark is born with.”
John nodded. “I’ll talk to him tomorrow, before you meet with us again.”
“Derek,” said Regina as they drove back to the Beacon Inn, “Please tell me what is bothering you. I know you hid much from us when you came to the Gallagher Pack, but we only want to help you.”
“I don’t…Did Laura tell you what really happened that day?”
“Laura told us that there was a fire while you and she were at the school. The Hale family had gathered for a Wolf Moon celebration, and all perished.”
Derek swallowed deeply as he considered what he was about to say. “I had met a girl—she said she was two years older than me and attended Bridgemont Academy in Beacon Heights. We spent every weekend together for about a month. It was innocent at first, but she kept pushing me for more. I was totally unprepared for it the first time she pushed for sex, and I lost my virginity in the back of her car.”
Derek laughed mirthlessly. “It was all so cliché. I would sneak her into my room when the family was out, and I told her where we hid the key to the back entrance so she could come to me after Mom went to work. Tha…that day of the fire,” Derek choked on a sob, “the adults were locking the little ones in the safe-cages. They were all trapped in the basement when the house burned. She…she was a Hunter, and she used me to get to the family. I blamed myself, and Laura blamed me, too. I was thinking with my dick and I got my family killed!”
Regina reached across the seat to place a gentle hand on Derek’s leg. “It was not your fault, Derek. I assume she was much older than she claimed?” When Derek nodded, she continued. “Hunters with integrity would never target a child. If the Hale Pack had broken the laws and attacked humans, no hunter would have had to lie to hunt and kill. This woman had no honour and you were merely a tool to her. I wanted to ask you before, but will you tell me now, what was her name, this dishonorable hunter?”
“Her name was Kate. Kate Argent.”
After bidding Derek a good and peaceful night, Regina crossed to her suitcase and removed a white-noise machine and plugged it in. Derek would not, most likely, try to listen in on her as she slept, but Regina was used to having very young and adolescent werewolves sleeping next to her, and they had no such qualms.
Once everything was settled, Regina dressed for bed and meditated for no less than thirty minutes, until her mind and conscience were clear. As she settled against the fluffed pillows, Regina activated her cell phone and made several sequential phone calls, from Clan to Clan to Clan, until she finally reached Cybelle d’Argent in Le Mans, France. It would be seven o’clock local time, so Regina didn’t feel too horrible as she placed the call.
The phone rang only once, and then Regina spoke.
“Bonjour j’ai des informations urgentes pour la matriache.”
There was a brief transfer of lines before Regina could convey the information she had recently obtained.
“Un membre de votre famille a agit en dehors du code. Cherchez feu chez les Hale à Beacon Hills, Californie et croissez les références avec Kate Argent. Voila le numéro que vous pouvez utiliser pour me contacter.”
Regina disconnected the call after she was assured the matter would be dealt with.
Her sleep that night was restful and dreamless.