Those Left Behind-Chapter 09

Chapter Nine

 

 

Because he discharged his firearm toward a combatant without backup—and because shots fired in a hospital would attract attention—John had Derek call 9-1-1 from the reception desk.  While Derek explained that the Sheriff was involved in a shooting to protect his son, Stiles—out of view of the security cameras—and John acted quickly to set the scene before the inevitable witnesses arrived.

 

Stiles used the computers at the reception desk to find and erase the security footage of the previous four hours in the Long-term Ward.  John opened the top part of the scalpel wrap and cut the lines to the cameras in order to kill the feeds. Then he quickly dipped the blade in the blood of the victims in the supply closet. John then placed the newly opened and bloodied scalpel in Peter’s lifeless hand.

 

By the time back-up arrived a scant fifteen minutes later, a crowd of hospital personnel had filled the corridor and Stiles and Derek were suitably freaked-out.

 

Neither one was acting, but both were freaked for different reasons.

 

Stiles was upset and anxious about having accidentally put himself in danger and causing his father to fire a weapon in his defense.  Stiles had been proud of the fact that, in all the time he had served with law enforcement, his father had never discharged his weapon outside of the shooting range.  Now, he had not only fired, he had killed—and Stiles was saddened and angered by this.

 

 

While Stiles and John were giving their statements to new deputies, Derek was also answering questions and struggling not to lose his shit.

 

“No, Officer, I was not aware that Uncle Peter was awake and aware.”

Holy Shit! He was Alpha!

 

“No, Doctor, I was not aware that Nurse Weatherbee might have tried to kill my uncle.”

Holy Shit! He was Alpha!

 

“Yes, Officer, the first hint we had that anything was wrong was when we say those bodies in the supply closet.”

Holy Shit! He was Alpha!

 

 

Through the crowd, Derek could see matching pairs of chocolate brown eyes—in narrowed in suspicion, the other wide with concern—watching his interaction with the police.

 

Scott McCall must have been visiting his mother while she was on shift in another part of the hospital.  Derek could sense the distress coming from Melissa McCall and he offered her a wan smile in response to her obvious concern.

 

Scott’s feelings, however, were different.  Derek assumed that Scott had felt the Pack –Bond break when Peter died.  He coolly watched as Peter’s body was loaded on to a gurney and carried away for inquest.  Derek watched as Scott shrugged and murmured to his mother too softly for anyone near to hear—but Derek could hear the words: “Well, that’s that, then.”

 

As if everything was really over.

 

As if the death of Peter Hale was the end to all the danger.

 

As if Scott could be normal now.

 

 

Scott’s mutinous eyes met Derek’s from across the room and Derek lifted his chin with a confidence he was not sure he really felt.  Once he was sure that no-one but the McCalls were watching him, Derek flashed Alpha-red eyes at them (Holy Shit! He was Alpha!) to let them know where things stood.

 

Scott huffed and withdrew, forcing his way through the gathered crowd to get away from the crime scene.

 

Melissa frowned after her son, but eventually moved closer—first to check on Stiles and John, and then to check on Derek.

 

“Can you tell me what happened?” she asked gently, wrapping her arm around Derek’s shoulder in a comforting gesture.

 

The officer taking Derek’s statement verified Derek’s contact information and moved away to help secure the rest of the scene, and Melissa drew Derek away from the bloody remains to sit in the family waiting area.  She sat next to him and held his hand gently between both of hers in a painfully maternal gesture.

 

“We, um,” Derek stammered, clearing his throat.  “We were in the Preserve near my old house—that was where they found Nurse Weatherbee’s car, but it wasn’t there before.  John asked me to, you know, see if I could sniff out where the nurse might be hiding.  The deputy popped open the trunk and they found her body, and the Sheriff—John—told me about his theory that Peter was the Alpha that killed Laura and bit Scott.”  Derek paused to take a breath.  “I remembered that Stiles might be visiting Peter, because I brought him here a few times.  John and I raced over here as fast as we could, and we found this mess!”

 

By this time, John had turned in his service weapon and extracted Stiles from the clutches of a determined deputy.  He pulled his son over toward Derek and Melissa and got their attention.

 

“Hey, Derek,” said John softly, “Why don’t you take Stiles’ keys and drive him home, okay?  It’s been a stressful time for all of us.”

 

Derek nodded in agreement and stood, thanking Melissa and accepting Stiles’ frantic hug as he pulled the teen away from the bustle.

 

 

Melissa followed their progress until they were out of sight, then she turned to John and asked, “So Peter Hale was the rogue all along?”

 

John scrubbed a hand over his face and sighed.  “Yes,” he said in a ragged voice, “But I didn’t put it together until a few weeks ago.  I needed to be sure, but I had to find Weatherbee first.”

 

“Are you finished for now,” asked Melissa as she stood from her chair.  When John nodded, she wrapped a comforting arm around his shoulders and pulled him to the hall exit.  “Come on, then,” she said with the finality of someone used to being obeyed.  “I’ll buy you a coffee and a donut, and you can tell me all about it.”

 

 

˜˜˜˜

 

Derek kept a wary eye on Stiles as the younger man busied himself in the kitchen of the Stilinski home.  Stiles prepared the old-fashioned copper tea kettle and set out two large mugs with teabags.  Then he rifled through a cabinet and pulled out a well-hidden package of fudge-covered cookies.

 

“Are you okay, Stiles?” asked Derek bemused as he accepted a mug and a cookie.  “I know it’s been a wild night….”

 

Stiles spun around quickly, almost spilling his own tea.  “A wild night?  A wild night?  Derek, my friend, you just may have mastered understatement!”

 

Stiles flounced to the kitchen table and he sat heavily in a wooden chair.  “Did you know?” he asked as he glowered at Derek.  “Did you know that Peter was going to go all psycho and try to bite me?”

 

Derek huffed and shook his head, sipping lightly at the hot tea.  “Nope.  I honestly had no clue.  I thought Peter was still an innocent coma patient.”

 

Stiles leaned his elbows on the table, cradling his mug between his hands.  “So, what happened, then?”

 

 

Derek sighed and sat back deeply in his chair.  “You dad had this whacked-out theory based on a murder case he was working.  This nurse, Jennifer Weatherbee, was slowly killing long-term patients with poison.  Your dad didn’t know who it was, actually, until she killed too many people in one place—and then she disappeared.”

 

Stiles frowned.  “So what does a killer nurse have to do with crazy-Alpha Peter?”

 

Derek snorted into his tea.  “Jesus, Stiles!  Okay, so according to your father’s theory, which turned out not to be crazy after all, when Weatherbee tried to kill Peter, the poison actually jump-started his heart and broke him out of the coma.  But he still had all those years to stew in his own brain and think about the fire.”

 

“Yeah, okay,” said Stiles around a cookie.  “I can see how all that time thinking about losing his family like that would drive him bonkers.”

 

“Yeah,” Derek sighed.  “And then, once he was aware, he placed a call to Laura to get her back here.  Maybe he tried to convince her to help him get revenge, or maybe he just decided to kill her outright.  Whatever happened, he did kill Laura and he gained her Alpha Spark.  And being Alpha meant he was driven to have a Pack, so he bit Scott.”

 

Stiles huffed.  “And then you drag me to meet him and play up how much better I would be than Scott as a werewolf.”

 

Derek leaned forward and locked serious eyes on Stiles.  “I never, ever,” he said slowly, “would have allowed him to hurt you.  If I had had any idea that you would be in danger, I never would have taken you to meet him.  Believe me.”

 

Stiles reached out and covered one of Derek’s hands with his own.  “I believe you, Derek.  I know you’d never hurt me or allow me to get hurt; not if you could help it.”

 

 

They sat there, Werewolf and Spark, and sipped tea in silence, both thinking about Fate and how freaky it was.

 

 

 

˜˜˜˜

 

 

Ring—ring—ring

 

 

“Hello?”

 

“Liam?  It’s Derek.”

 

“Derek?  Are you well?”

 

 

Derek sighed.  “No, not really.  I’m Alpha now, and I’m freaking out.”

 

 

The silence on the line was both comforting and disconcerting.

 

“Regina told me of the Sheriff’s query.  Is there anything I can do for you, Derek?”

 

 

“I’m…not sure, Alpha Gallagher.  I was prepared to kill Peter in defense of his latest victim, but the Sheriff intervened.  I wasn’t meant to be Alpha, and I don’t know if I’ll be a good one.”

 

 

“Derek,” said Liam Gallagher, voice clear and authoritative through the phone line.  “You were groomed to become the Pack Second, to be the right-hand of the Alpha.  Your job was to bring strength and stability to the Pack.  Use those scant skills that your former Alpha was able to teach you and become a great Alpha.  You only need a stable Pack behind you.”

 

Derek snorted.  “I’m not about to go out and bite a bunch of people to create a Pack, especially with a full Hunter Tribunal about to happen in my back yard.”

 

Liam Gallagher laughed.  “No, that would be a poor course of action.  But after the Hunter business is over?  Perhaps you can build a strong Pack then.”

 

“But….”

 

“Derek, I am not suggesting that you find humans to bite, with no regard for their safety.  There is a family here, two adult Wolves with two children, which would be interested in moving.  The male was offered a job as an EMT in Beacon Heights.  They would be good Betas for you and your new Pack.  The job will not go into effect until the end of  February, and the Tribunal should be long over by then.”

 

Derek sighed in relief.  “That would be….yeah, that could be good.  If they will accept me as Alpha, then I would accept them as Betas.  Thank you, Alpha Gallagher.  I hope I can continue to turn to you and Regina Kincaide for help.”

 

“I was friends with your mother, Derek.  I would be honored to be friends with you, as well.”

 

 

 

˜˜˜˜

 

 

Stiles hadn’t seen Scott at the hospital after Peter attacked him, so he was unaware of Scott’s attitude toward the whole deal.

 

In fact, Stiles hadn’t heard from or about Scott since he accidentally snitched to Melissa about Scott’s dinner at the Argent’s.

 

So, of course Stiles was fully prepared for the cold-shoulder at school.  He was also prepared for nasty looks and empty stares.

 

 

He was not prepared to be slammed into his locker before first period.

 

 

“What the hell, Stiles!” Scott snarled as Stiles stumbled away from the lockers and scrambled to pick up his fallen notebooks.  “I thought we were friends!”

 

 

Stiles frowned up at Scott from his kneeling position.  “Yeah?  And I thought you had some survival instinct!  What the hell are you talking about, Dude?”

 

 

Scott took a huge step backwards and looked around the hall to make sure he hadn’t attracted too much attention.  “I’m talking about you telling my mother about my dinner with Allison on Wednesday!” Scott hissed.  “I’m grounded now, thanks to you!”

 

Stiles stood and re-opened his locker to gather his books before turning back to Scott.  “No, Scott,” he said with finality, “You’re grounded because your mother forbade you to go near Allison’s family and you lied and went anyway.  That’s not on me, pal!  I thought you had enough sense not to lie to your mother, and I had hoped you would have listened to Dad and Derek and avoided the Argents altogether!”

 

“Allison is not like that!” Scott hissed.  “And her family seemed perfectly nice!”

 

Stiles raised one unimpressed eyebrow.  “Uh-huh!  And did you wolf-out in front of the family, or just out-right tell them that you’re a werewolf?”

 

“No, of course not!”  Scott scowled.  “It’s supposed to be a secret, right?”

 

 

Stiles shook his head in disbelief.  “Scott, it’s a secret because nobody would believe you anyway.  And Allison might be sweetness and light, but her family is possibly full of psychos who would kill you in an instant!”  Stiles gathered his backpack and books and closed his locker before turning away from Scott.  “You know, Scott, I was behind you all the way.  I only wanted you healthy, happy and safe.  But if you want to throw your life away because you’re too stupid to listen to people who know better, then I can’t help you.”

 

 

˜˜˜˜

 

Stiles spent the first half of his day avoiding Scott’s gaze in the classes they shared.  It wasn’t difficult because Scott seemed happy to avoid Stiles as well.  From the corner of his eye, Stiles could see Allison glancing at him, and even Jackson Whittemore was giving interested looks in his direction, but Stiles kept his cool and never said a word.

 

At lunch, instead of going to the cafeteria and not eating, Stiles went directly to the library and focused on his homework.  He passed a quiet hour with no panic-attacks and no dirty looks shot his way, and he was mentally fortified for getting through the rest of the day.

 

At the end of the day, when the locker-room was noisy and crowded with boys getting dressed for Lacrosse practice, Stiles casually walked into the coach’s office and gave his resignation.  The coach stammered and strained over the whole deal, but Stiles was steadfast in his determination.

 

The coach asked why, and Stiles gave a nonsense answer, but he was adamant not to be on the Lacrosse team anymore.  Fortunately, the coach did not press too hard.  Stiles didn’t want to have to explain that he wasn’t comfortable sitting on the bench anymore in an effort to pad the team for a man who didn’t care enough to learn his damned name.

 

Stiles left the locker-room behind, ignoring the stares of the Co-Captains as he passed.

 

Stiles had always maintained that Jackson Whittemore could kiss his ass, and he was starting to feel that way about Scott McCall as well.

 

 

˜˜˜˜

 

 

John Stilinski was finishing some rather tedious paperwork in order to tidy-up two interconnected disasters: the murder case involving Jennifer Weatherbee (the murders she perpetrated and her own murder, of course) and the shooting of Peter Hale.  The paperwork was a drag, but was entirely necessary.  John had, of course, been cleared of the shooting, but he had some rather hard questions to answer concerning his reasons for connecting the two cases.

 

But as John had often said, he wasn’t Sheriff because of his good looks.  Once he explained Peter Hale’s occupation of the Long-term Ward and Jennifer Weatherbee’s proclivity for poisoning her patients, the State Internal Affairs officers were convinced that John was just that talented an investigator.

 

He was finishing his last bit, with signatures and official seals, when his direct-to-office phone rang.

 

“Hello,” he said wearily.  It had been a long day.

 

“This is Sheriff John Stilinski?” the slightly-accented voice asked.

 

“Yes, this is Sheriff Stilinski.  Who is this?”  John did not recognize the speaker; he only knew that the caller was male and quite possibly French.  The accent was difficult to discern.

 

 

“I am Duquesne d’Sorcière of famille d’Argent.  You are aware of the impending visit?”

 

John swallowed deeply and sat rigidly upright in his chair, even though he could not be seen in his office.  “I know the purpose of the visit, yes.  I do not know the timing.”

 

 

“The Tribunal will be arriving very soon.  This is the only courtesy call you shall receive.  I shall give you your terms of involvement; please write them down.”

 

John scrambled for a blank notepad and grabbed his pen.  “Very well; I’m ready.  Go ahead.”

 

“First, do you intend to stand advocate for the remaining Hale Pack?”

 

John paused.  Did he intend to stand as advocate for Derek?  He had promised Derek to be there for him, no matter what.  This seemed to be the least he could do.  “Yes, I intend to stand as advocate for the remains of the Hale Pack.”

 

 

“Mais oui!  Prepare your files, if you have any.  You will not be asked to testify, but you may have to answer specific questions.  Bring your Wolves to building 813B in your Industrial District, Level Three, at eight o’clock in the evening next Tuesday.  We are aware that there is only the Hale Alpha and one unrelated Wolf in residence.  Officially, Maitresse d’Argent mourns for your territory.  Do not bring your badge.  Do not bring weapons.  Do not bring legal files.  All legalities will be dealt with by Maitresse d’Argent; she does not require interference by local law enforcement.”

 

 

The mysterious caller disconnected the call with no formal good-bye, and John had a few more questions that were unanswered.  John drew out his personal cell phone and quickly dialed Regina Kincaide.

 

“Hello, Sheriff,” Regina quickly answered.  “What can I do for you today?”

 

John smiled in spite of himself upon hearing Regina’s lilting voice.   “I just got a call from someone called Duquesne d’Sorcière, in regards to the Tribunal.”

 

 

“Oh, well then,” Regina stammered.  “What do you need from me?”

 

“Well, this man was rather abrupt, you see, and after he gave me my ‘instructions’, he disconnected before I could ask any questions.  Do you think you might be able to answer some for me?”

 

“I’ll certainly try.  I’ve only heard of one true Tribunal in recent times, and that one was over fifty years ago.”

 

“Fair enough,” said John as he looked over the set of instructions he wrote down.  “It says here that I’m to leave weapons and badge behind, which I sort of understand, but it also says not to bring any evidence—but I can bring any files I have.  What’s up with that?”

 

“Hmmm—it sounds like they’re leaving official courts out of this, which makes sense because Werewolves.  So they don’t need official court documents or evidentiary files, but if you have personal research, you can bring that.”

 

John nodded to himself.  “Okay, yeah.  He also mentioned that I’ll be advocating for the Hale Pack.”

 

 

“Oh, well, that probably means that you’ll have to answer for any actions of the Hale Pack since you’ve known about them.  You know,” she said, “If they’ve attacked anyone.  There should not be a problem with that.”

 

“Yeah, no,” said John.  “The only Hale to attack anyone around here was Peter, and he’s dead now.  So, I just have to take Derek and Scott McCall and all of my person research into the Hale Fire, and show up at this warehouse next week.”

 

“John,” said Regina hesitantly, “I should probably take this time to prepare you for the actual Tribunal itself.  It’s not like a court-room.”

 

“Okay,” John frowned, “So what’s this going to be like?”

 

“Well, anyone under investigation from the Tribunal will likely be placed in chains in a location away from the accusers, so don’t expect to actually see Kate Argent in front of you.  And the Argent Clan will not be the only Hunter Clan there.  A full Tribunal means members of every viable Hunter Clan there is.”

 

“Oh,” said John, “I didn’t realize it would be so crowded.”

 

Regina laughed.  “Oh, I don’t mean that every member of every Clan will be there, but there will be at least one from each big family—so about thirty people or so.  A few more, perhaps.  You will also only be allowed to speak when spoken to, so it’s sort of like being in Sunday School.”

 

“I think I can manage that,” said John seriously.  “It’s a formal thing, then?”

 

“Oh, it’s very formal, John,” said Regina.  “You might be asked questions that you can be certain they already know the answers to.  And Madame d’Argent is totally in charge.  She is the LAW in this case, so you’ll not be able to question any decision that she makes in this case.  If she finds that the Argent family is not at fault, then you have to go with it.”  Regina sighed.  “I’m sorry if you find that distasteful, but that’s the way it has to be.  Of course, it could very well go the other way.”

 

 

“Okay,” said John as he gathered the rest of his paperwork together.  “Thanks for answering my questions.  Will you be coming here for the Tribunal, or are you staying away?”

 

 

“As much as I would like to actually see justice done for the Hale Pack, Emissaries are not permitted to attend Tribunals.  In fact,” said Regina quietly, “It’s rare that actual werewolves are permitted to attend, so this will be a fine sight that I won’t be allowed to see.”

 

 

 

˜˜˜˜

 

On his way home that evening, John stopped by the hospital to explain the Tribunal to Melissa, since John had to take Scott with him for the ordeal.

 

“He’s grounded, you know,” said Melissa as she crossed her arms over her chest defensively.  “And I don’t know how happy I am knowing he’ll be with the Argents again.”

 

 

John massaged the bridge of his nose between two fingers.  “Yeah, I know, Melissa.  I’m not thrilled about it, either, but I was—ahem—requested to bring Derek and Scott to the Tribunal.”  John sighed.  “Actually, what the spokesman actually said was, bring the remaining Hale Wolf and the Unrelated Wolf, so they’ve done their research very thoroughly.”

 

Melissa huffed.  “Well, you’ll have to honor the grounding, John.  You’ll have to act In Loco Parentis during this Tribunal and protect my son.  So far, as far as I know, the Argents are not aware that Scott is a werewolf, and I’d rather keep it that way.”

 

“Oh, Melissa,” sighed John, “That’s just not going to be possible.  This woman—this Mistress d’Argent—she’s good.  I’m sure she knows things we don’t even know about.  Hiding Scott’s Wolf-side is not going to ever happen.  But I’ll do my best to protect him; I promise, Melissa!”

 

Melissa frowned.  “I know you will, John.  You and Derek have been great since Scott got bitten.  I just wish my stubborn son would get with the program and figure out who was best to trust.”

 

“Yeah, I know, Melissa,” said John sadly.  “I know.”

 

 

 

˜˜˜˜

 

 

On Friday afternoon, Stiles once again spent his lunch hour in the library.  This time, Vernon Boyd joined him, and they sat quietly doing their homework on a table near the rear stacks.  The normally stoic Boyd (I don’t use ‘Vernon’, because it’s my father’s name) spent the time asking Stiles about the meditation that he does to calm his mind.

 

“Do you do it every day?” the dark-skinned teen asked as he outlined an English essay.  “I mean, I can see how it would help you study, but what else does it do for you?”

 

Stiles chewed on his pen for a moment before answering.  “Well,” he said eventually, “I already told you that I haven’t really needed my ADHD drugs in a while.  My dad is really happy about that.  Not about the expense, of course, but because it means I’m getting my head on straight.”

 

Boyd chuckled softly and Stiles offered a huge grin in return.

 

“I also get myself centered before running, and I don’t get tired as quickly, so I run farther.”

 

Boyd nodded.  “Yeah, I guess that could be good.  Are you going out for track next month?”

 

Stiles shrugged.  “Maybe.  I’m certainly thinking about it.  I, uh, just quit the Lacrosse team, and I’m not sure if I’m really feeling team sports, you know?”

 

Boyd nodded in agreement and went back to his essay.

 

 

They worked in silence for a while longer until the noisy arrival of a bunch of students interrupted their solitude.  Stiles looked up and watched as Lydia, Jackson, Allison and Scott took seats at a nearby table and opened text books.  Stiles looked up at Boyd and smirked as he proceeded to ignore the other foursome.

 

It was hard.

 

From the corner of his eye, Stiles could see Scott glaring at him, and Lydia kept shooting glances his way.

 

Jackson and Allison were oblivious.

 

The after-lunch bell rang and Stiles and Boyd gathered their books and headed for the door.  Stiles was pleased to note that Boyd shared two afternoon classes with him—two classes that neither Scott nor Lydia shared—and after that first fateful lunch when Jackson banned him from the Lacrosse table, Stiles and Boyd  sat near each other in those classes.  As they passed Scott’s table, Stiles noted that Scott was watching him go—and Lydia was watching Scott watch him.

 

 

As Stiles walked through the doors to the parking lot after school that day, Boyd was beside him chattering softly about his younger siblings (one natural and one foster kid) and his job at the ice rink.  Stiles listened intently, relishing the company of his new friend.  Boyd had asked for meditation lessons, and Stiles agreed to make some time soon.  His father had told him about the Tribunal occurring the following Tuesday, and Stiles didn’t want to start any new projects until he knew what the outcome of that would be.

 

Suddenly Boyd nudged Stiles’ shoulder with his own and Stiles stopped walking.  “What’s up, Buddy?”

 

Boyd pointed to the parking lot.  “Who’s the dude next to your car?”

 

Stiles looked up and smiled widely when he saw Derek standing next to his blue Jeep.  “That, my friend, is a dear Family Friend.”

 

Boyd looked doubtful, but Stiles just laughed.  “Seriously, Dude!  My day totally knew Derek’s mother way back when.  Come on, I’ll introduce you!”

 

Stiles grabbed Boyd’s sleeve cuff and dragged him over to the Jeep, where Derek was watching bemusedly.

 

“Derek!” Stiles called as they drew nearer, “This is Boyd, my new bestie!”

 

Boyd rolled his eyes good-naturedly, but offered his hand to the older man in greeting.  “Hi, man, I have no idea what he’s talking about.”

 

Derek laughed as he shook Boyd’s hand.  “Stiles is a good guy.  You just have to get to know him.”

 

Boyd nodded.  “Yeah, I kind of took him in when the cool kids dumped on him.”

 

Derek frowned at Stiles, but Stiles just shrugged.  “Jackson Whittemore is an ass,” Stiles said.  “What can I say?”

 

“And what about Scott?” asked Derek cautiously.

 

Again, Stiles shrugged.  “He’s so far into his girlfriend, he’s practically on his way back.”

 

 

Derek growled softly as he glanced toward the school exit.  Stiles turned back and watched as Scott left the building with his arm around a pretty and dimpled brunette.  Stiles tilted his head towards Derek and murmured “That’s Allison Argent.  She’s pretty cute, and she seems really nice, but Scott is totally obsessed with her.”

 

Derek frowned but turned back to Boyd as if nothing bad had happened.  “Well, it’s good to meet you, but I have to steal Stiles for a bit.  We’ll get together again, yeah?”

 

Boyd shook Derek’s hand again and slapped Stiles lightly on the shoulder.  “Yeah, man.  I’ll catch you later.”

 

 

Once Boyd was out of earshot, and Stiles was reasonably certain that Scott would not overhear them, Stiles asked, “What’s the occasion, Derek?  You never come here.”

 

Derek shrugged.  “I was bored, and I know your dad is stressed, so I figured that we could go shopping and cook a decent meal for him?”

 

Stiles’ smile was wide and genuine.  “That sounds like lots of fun!  Let’s go!”

 

 

Two hours later, Stiles was standing in his kitchen teaching Derek the art of braising.  Stiles was learning to love the days when Derek would come over to cook—and then to eat—and they had spent several Saturdays pouring over Stiles’ cookbook collection (formerly his mother’s), finding things that looked tasty but not too difficult.

 

And always healthy.

 

Stiles maintained healthy eating did not have to be boring or bland, and John loved every experiment that crossed his desk when he had to work over dinner.

 

On this particular Friday evening, John did not have to work over dinner, so he sat at the kitchen table sipping a beer while he watched Stiles and Derek cook.  The conversation fluctuated between the lean pork roast and the upcoming Tribunal.

 

John had made it clear that Stiles would not be going, but only because Emissaries were not permitted.  That proclamation made Stiles hum a bit in happiness, because it meant that John had acknowledged Stiles’ future position with Derek’s Pack.

 

Not that he had a Pack at the moment.

 

 

“Oh,” said Derek as he popped a bit of beet in his mouth, “I forgot to tell you: Alpha Gallagher told me that there is a Wolf family that would be willing to join up with me after the Tribunal is over.  I’ll have the seed of a good Pack that way.”

 

 

John raised an eyebrow at the news.  “Oh, really?  How would that work?”

 

 

Derek shrugged.  “They would have to submit to me as their Alpha, which Alpha Gallagher said they are willing to do, and then I would give a bonding bite to seal the Pack.  The husband is accepting a job in Beacon Heights as an EMT, and they have two children under the age of ten years.  It would be a very small Pack, but I wouldn’t be biting humans to get it.”

 

 

“But it’s going to wait until the Tribunal is over, right?” asked John.  “I mean, this family isn’t going to be moving in the middle of this mess?”

 

 

“Nope, the job doesn’t start until the end of the month, so it should be all good.”  Then Derek shrugged again and said, “Of course, if the Tribunal goes against me, it won’t matter because the Hunters could probably just kill me outright.”

 

 

“That,” said Stiles, flinging his spoon in Derek’s direction, “Is not going to happen.  I have faith that you will be safe.”

 

 

Derek shoved a piece of beet in Stiles’ mouth and said, “You’d better hope so, because they could kill Scott, too, just on principle.”

 

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