Those Left Behind-Chapter 17

Chapter Seventeen



Derek sat at the Stilinski kitchen table, silently watching as Stiles threw together fresh ingredients with jarred pasta sauce to add to the chicken in the oven.  Even though he hadn’t stayed with the Stilinskis in a month, it still felt like a piece of home—and they never once begrudged him that.  He was always welcome, morning or night, and the guest room was his when he wanted it even though he primarily lived in his rented house on the other side of town.  Some days, Derek would head directly there after work instead of his own place, and he felt like he was with family.


On this day, Stiles had left a message on his cell that he needed to speak with Derek as soon as possible, so instead of driving to the Preserve to check on progress there, Derek headed home/here after work.  He had somehow worried that he would miss dinner, but Stiles had apparently gone to see John at the Station after school and was just now getting the meal ready.


“I can help, if you need me to,” said Derek mildly from his seat.  In response, Stiles shot him a glare before turning to the pot he was stirring.


“I appreciate the offer, Derek,” said Stiles breathlessly, “but I need to keep my mind busy as well as my hands.”


Derek sipped from his glass of tea and crossed one leg over the other.  “Okay, I’ll just watch you do all the work.  But your message said you needed to speak to me, so can you do that while you cook?”


Stiles blushed in embarrassment.  “Yeah,” he said, “I can do that.  Sorry.  I just…this is going to sound really weird, okay?”


Derek snorted.  “Stiles, never in my life will I disregard anything you have to say to me.  Not after you and your father have given me so much support and aid.”


Stiles seemed to slump in relief.  “Okay, so there’s a new substitute teacher in my English class, and she has a weird feel to her.  I mean, magically she feels…off.”


Derek nodded to keep Stiles talking.  “Okay, so what’s the big deal about this?”  He wasn’t mocking Stiles, and the teen knew it.  Derek only wanted Stiles to explain, and Stiles complied.


“Well, from the package we received about the Alpha Pack, I have learned that the Alpha Pack can’t stand against a Pack with a magically strong Emissary.  And the reason they can’t is because they broke their own magic when they killed their own Packs—Emissaries included.  Because of that, the Alpha Pack has gone against Magic-with-a-capital-M.  And this substitute teacher has a sense of corrupted magic; Druidic Magic, specifically.”


Stiles stopped speaking and stirred the pot vigorously for a short while before turning off the heat.  He sat the pot aside and pulled the chicken from the oven to rest before speaking again.


“Regina told me that most Emissaries, for some reason or other, are Druidic.  She’s not, obviously, and I’m not, but most are.  And you heard what she had to say about some of the Druidic factions and how they’ve split off from the natural order of things in order to ‘Keep the Balance’.”  Stiles sneered when he spoke the last bit, and Derek could feel the disgust rolling off the young man.  “Anyway, this teacher, Miss Blake, feels like ‘Sick Druid’ to my Spark.  And I can’t help but think her arrival around the time the Alpha Pack has decided to invade your territory is not a coincidence.”


Derek leaned forward in his chair and held Stiles’ gaze.  “You and your father do not believe in coincidence.”


“No,” said Stiles, leaning against the counter. “No we do not.  And I want to charm you somehow, to protect against ‘Sick Druid’.”


Derek smiled a secret smile, because Stiles had already ‘charmed’ him in so many ways, but he took the offer seriously.  Stiles was as protective of the Hale Pack as Derek was.  “Okay, what do you need to do?”


Stiles wrinkled his nose in concentration.  “Well, if it was my dad or someone else, I’d give them a charmed pendent or something to carry.  But if you’re the target, and there is a Druid involved, she could magically influence you to remove a pendant, and then you would be under her control.”


Derek frowned thoughtfully.  “So you would have to charm something that I couldn’t be forced to remove.  What about a tattoo?”


Stiles gaped at him.  “I can’t give you a tattoo, Derek.  I’m not trained and it’s not legal because I’m underage, and it’s unsanitary….”


“Stiles!” Derek shouted to interrupt the ramble.  “Calm down.  I already have a tattoo.  I got it after we’d been in New York for a while, to represent my lost family and Pack.”


“Oh!”  Stiles deflated in relief.  “That’s different, then.”


Derek smirked.  “Yeah, it is.  So, can you charm a tattoo?  I can’t be forced to remove it, magically or otherwise, because it’s a part of me permanently.”


Stiles nodded and turned back to the chicken.  “I’ll have to do some research, but it should be do-able.  I mean, I can do anything, but I want to do it with the least possible amount of pain.”


“And I appreciate it,” said Derek.  “Really.  So, what’s for dinner?”




˜˚˜  ˜˚˜


The only unfortunate thing about the conversation was the date: April First.


Other than that, Derek and John had been amicably chatting about work and construction projects.  The ground-breaking on Derek’s new home was set for the following Monday, and John was clearing his back yard for the coming greenhouse.  Derek had been coming over after work to help clear the ground at the rear property line.  John was hiring a professional contractor to build the greenhouse, but Derek had asked to help pay for it.


“There is something I’d like to talk to you about, John,” said Derek.  “Something I’d like your permission for.”


John laughed and shook his head.  “Look, you’ve offered enough money for the greenhouse, Derek.  I can’t allow you to spend more.”


“Um, no,” Derek stammered.  “It’s something else.  Something for Stiles’ birthday.”


John’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.  “Oh, yeah?  What about it?”


“I’d like to take Stiles out, maybe for dinner?”


“Just the two of you?”  John asked and he leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms.  It was his ‘I’m the Sheriff’ look, and it was very intimidating.


“Um, yeah?  If that doesn’t sound too weird.”  Derek was sweating a little, and it was a bit ridiculous.  “I’d just like to take him some place nice, to show how much I appreciate how much he’s done for the Pack.”


“Uh-huh,” John grunted, and he just stared at Derek.  For a long time.


A very long time.


An eternity.






Stiles was bopping around the kitchen, slamming pots and pans around as he rearranged his cabinets for more efficiency, and John was watching in bemusement even as the volume of the music made him wince.


“Son,” he yelled, “is everything okay?”


Stiles startled and turned down the volume on the CD player.  “Sorry, Dad.  I didn’t notice you there.”


“So I see,” said John sardonically.  “What’s bothering you, son?”


Stiles slammed another pot onto the counter and leaned forward on folded arms.  “I’m just so…I’m just trying to figure people out, Dad.  I mean, I thought I knew what I wanted out of life, and then it turns out I’m MAGIC, and everything has changed.  And I thought I knew what I wanted to do when I got out of high school, but now that has changed.”



“Because of the Magic?”


Stiles screwed up his nose in consideration.  “Not…entirely.  I mean, that has something to do with it, sure, but…I wanted, for a long time, to be a cop, like you.  But now, I don’t.  Not that being a cop is a bad thing.”


John smirked at his floundering son.  “It’s okay, Stiles.  Law enforcement isn’t for everyone.  What would you like to do?”


Stiles shrugged.  “Teach, I think.  I’d like to be a teacher of some sort.”


John nodded.  “That’s good.  Teaching is a noble profession.  Not everyone is cut out for that one, either.”


Stiles sighed.  “I’d like to work with little kids.  Troubled little kids.  Like some kind of therapy deal or something.  But I need to understand people first, and they just….ARRRGH!!”


John chuckled at Stiles’ antics and he grabbed his favorite coffee cup and headed for the coffee maker.  “People aren’t hard, Stiles.  You just have to observe and listen. The motivations are there if you know where to look.”


Stiles looked up and frowned.  “And how do I observe and listen to myself, Dad?  How do I understand my own motivations?”


John took a long drink from his mug as he considered his son.  He was so much like his mother; it was almost heart-breaking.  Stiles would give of himself until it hurt, especially where his friends were concerned.  That’s what made his break with Scott so sad; Scott and Stiles had been almost inseparable until Scott was Bitten—and until Scott had found a girlfriend.


“So,” said John abruptly, “you haven’t mentioned Lydia Martin recently?  Isn’t she still the love of your life?”


Stiles huffed a surprised laugh.  “Not exactly, Dad.”


John took a seat at the kitchen table and gestured for Stiles to join him.  Once Stiles was seated, John leveled a concerned gaze at him.  “So, how not exactly?”


Stiles shrugged, “I fell in love with Lydia Martin in the third grade, Dad.  She was bright like the sun, and so very sassy.”  Stiles smirked a bit.  “She was a little like Mom, you know, and I just knew we would be soul mates.  Of course, she didn’t know I existed back then, but I just knew I could win her over.

“And then Jackson Whittemore took an interest in her, and everything changed.  Jackson liked to tell everyone that he had the best because he deserved the best—and Lydia was the best.”


“Stiles,” John interrupted, but Stiles plowed on.


“No, Dad, it’s cool.  Jackson’s got the looks and the money.  If he had the brain, he’d be a real threat.  I guess that’s why he chose Lydia.  And why he changed her.”


Stiles sighed and walked to the sink for a glass of water.  “I guess I began noticing things at the start of high school.  Lydia was still bright and shiny, but she’d dumb-down her act around Jackson.  She kept her test scores high, because education is actually important to her, but in the classes she shares with Jackson she never raises her hand or talks.

“I also noticed a lot of other things—like Danny Mahaleani, the Lacrosse goalie.  He’s hot like the sun, too, and he’s funny and smart and everybody likes him.  But Jackson doesn’t like me, so Danny doesn’t either.  But I can’t help but notice him.”


Stiles hesitantly looked at his father, but all he saw was acceptance.  The bad-ass Sheriff didn’t care if his son was gay, straight, or pear-shaped.  Stiles took his water glass and sat at the table again.


“So anyway,” said Stiles, “After Scott got Bitten, he started to act like a fool, and of course Lydia noticed.  I mean, I was surprised that Jackson noticed, but I thought Lydia might have overlooked him, just like she always did.  But she confronted me one day after the Tribunal and after the following Full Moon and asked me what was up.  It was knowledge that she didn’t have, and she wanted it.”


John sipped more coffee and asked, “What did you tell her?”


Stiles snorted.  “I didn’t tell her anything.  She tried to say that as Scott’s best friend, I should want to help him so he could concentrate on the Lacrosse team, like that was the only thing in the whole world that mattered.”  Stiles looked up to find his father’s kind eyes watching him carefully.  “Dad, I haven’t really liked Lydia since she decided to become a mindless bubble-head.  You always told me to be genuine, and to look for someone ‘real’ to make my life whole—like you found Mom.  Lydia’s not genuine anymore—if she ever was.  When we were younger and she wasn’t afraid to show how smart she was, I thought she was so wonderful, but I think she was taught over the years that the pretty girls get everything and the smart ones write papers.  I don’t want that in my life.  I want someone….”


“You,” said John confidently, “want someone who is real and grounded, and not necessarily female—but is aware of their own worth.”


Stiles smiled.  “Yes, that!  Exactly!  I want what you and Mom had before her mind went.  I want someone who values themselves the same way they value me.”


John reached over and patted Stiles on the shoulder.  “You’ll find him, Stiles.  And don’t ask me how I know it’s a ‘him’.”





John thought back to that conversation with Stiles and thought that his son would be thrilled to have Derek to himself for a birthday dinner.


That didn’t mean that John was going to go easy on Derek and his request.


“So, just dinner, and just the two of you?”  John knew he sounded stern and official.  It was a trick he had learned long ago to throw off a suspect’s game.


Or a werewolf’s.


“Yes, sir,” Derek stammered again.  “Or maybe a movie or something.  Just as a birthday treat.”


“Just as a birthday treat.”  John could feel his eyebrow lift in doubt, and he didn’t even try to stop it.   “Derek, just out of curiosity, do I ‘smell’ like I believe that you don’t have designs on my son?  Does my heartbeat stutter or shift when I ask you these questions?”


“Um…no…sir.”  Derek shifted in his seat and he fought the urge to clench his hands into fists.


John leaned forward and folded his hands together on top of the table.  “Derek, I don’t mind if you ask Stiles out on a date.  Really.  Because I know, deep in my heart, that you will not do anything untoward or forceful to him if you are dating.  I only have one request.”


“Yes, sir?”  Derek relaxed just a bit.  “And what is that?”


“Ask him first,” said John carefully, “and make sure he’d like to date you.  I’d rather neither of you got broken hearts over this.”




˜˚˜ ˜˚˜




Getting something personal of Miss Blake’s, without stealing anything (like he promised his dad), did not turn out to be difficult.  After she had been teaching for a week, and she was really quite good at it, Miss Blake had a pop quiz on her poetry unit, and she hand-wrote personal comments on every one as she graded them.


Stiles’ test came back graded with an ‘A’ and a little note that read ‘Keates really isn’t as bad as you make him out.  Even the sad poems show a love of life.’.  The handwriting was all Miss Blake, and it was all the ‘personal item’ that Stiles needed to do his own magical research.


While he was researching how to charm Derek’s tattoo, he placed that personal note in a quartz geode and lit several gold and silver candles at corner points around it.  He visualized the geode as a personal fire-safe, and it would hold the handwriting sample in a tamper-proof field until he was ready to ‘send’ for the information.  The candles would burn until he needed the information.  Stiles was always amazed at how long he could keep a candle burning, no matter what size it was.


It was a trick he was planning on using for Erica’s birthday in August.  Those fancy trick candles had nothing on him!


“Okay,” said Stiles as he bent over his laptop, “I have to mix a few herbs with some almond and rose oil—and I have to blend the oil first—and then I’ll paint the runes onto the tattoo with a feather.  So I’ll need to see how big the tattoo is.”  Stiles looked up at Derek and grinned.  “It’s not in a ‘very private place’, is it?”


Derek rolled his eyes and stood up.  “It’s on my back, Stiles,” he said as he stripped off his shirt and turned his back to teen.  He totally missed the astonished gape that Stiles offered, but he clearly heard Stiles’ heart skip a beat.  Derek smirked to himself.



Stiles recovered quickly and stumbled out of his chair to examine the tattoo more closely.  He hesitantly lifted a hand to trace the triple-spiral that held prominence in the center of Derek’s back.  “What does it mean?” he asked reverently as his finger lightly traced the thick lines.


“It’s, uh, it’s a triskele,” Derek stammered.  “It’s a Celtic symbol that has been used by my family for a long time.  It means a lot of things.”


Stiles hand was hot on his skin as he asked, “What does it mean to you?”


Derek cleared his throat.  “To me, it means Alpha-Beta-Omega; that any of the one can become the other.”


Stiles stepped back to allow Derek to redress and he nodded.  “Yeah, I can see that,” he said softly.  “A Beta can become Omega or Alpha, and an Alpha can just as easily become Omega.  I like it.”


Stiles sat again at his desk and spun around to face Derek, who was perched lightly on Stiles’ bed.  “I also like how thick the lines of the tattoo are.  It’ll be easy to paint the runes.”


Derek nodded.  “Okay, so once the runes have been painted, what then?”


Stiles chewed on his thumb for a moment.  “I’ll have to load the runes with my Magic.  It’ll feel really hot for a few minutes as the protection sets in, and then you’ll never notice it.”


“And you’re only going to protect me against this evil teacher of yours?”


Stiles grinned at him.  “Did you want me to protect against anything else while I’m at it?”


Derek shrugged and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees.  “Well, the Alpha Pack is going to be a problem, so a bit more protection on that front would be nice.”


Stiles nodded in agreement.  “Yeah, I’m still working on that.  I’m not able to sense werewolves like you are, and I wouldn’t trust Scott to be aware.  Not yet, at least.  But I’ll find it hard to protect against werewolves if I don’t know what they look like.  I don’t want to accidentally damage a friendly Wolf who is just visiting the territory.”


“Well,” said Derek, “any Wolf that was visiting would have to find me for permission.  And if they were really friends, they would call first before showing up in the territory.  But I agree that it would be better if you could visually identify a target.”


“I’d at least like to know a few more names,” said Stiles as he spun back to his laptop.  “I mean, I know Deucalion.  That’s it.  And what kind of name is ‘Deucalion’ anyway?”


“An old one, I think.”  Derek stretched out his arms, flexing his shoulders and wiggling his fingers, and Stiles turned in his chair again to witness the act.  He blushed when he saw that Derek was watching him, and Derek smirked.  “I had a conversation with your dad the other day.”


“Oh, yeah?” asked Stiles, meeting Derek’s eyes.  “What were you talking about?”


“You, mostly.  And your birthday.”


Stiles perked up and grinned.  “Are you getting me an awesome present?  Like a leather jacket, perhaps?”


Derek chuckled and sat again on the edge of the bed.  “What would you do with a leather jacket, Stiles?  No, I had another idea, but your dad wanted me to talk to you first.  In case I had the wrong idea, or you weren’t interested….”


Derek trailed off into silence and Stiles scooted forward on his desk chair to place a hand on Derek’s shoulder.  “If I’m not interested in what?”


“Who,” Derek said.  “If you’re not interested in, maybe, dating…someone.”


Stiles eyes widened in surprise, but Derek was busy watching his own hands.  This seemed so easy before, when he was discussing this with John.  John seemed to think Stiles would want to go out with Derek, at least for dinner.  But now?


“Derek?” said Stiles, “are you trying to ask me out?”


Derek nodded quickly.  “Just for, maybe, dinner—for your birthday.  As a thank-you for everything you’ve done for the Pack.”


“Is that the only reason you’d ask me out?”


Derek’s head snapped up and he sought Stiles’ eyes.  “No! But I’m a lot older than you are, and maybe there’s someone else you’d rather spend time with.  But….”


“But—but you’re awesome and smart and sensitive and gorgeous.  And, yeah, you’re older than I am, but you’ve got life experience that I can learn from.  And you’re smart and responsible enough to keep me from making your old mistakes.”  Stiles grinned at Derek.  “Why wouldn’t I want to date you?  Besides, Boyd already calls you my boyfriend.”


“He what?” Derek gaped.


Stiles chuckled.  “He might only be joking, but he’s referred to you as such a few times now.  I can’t wait to tell him you’re taking me to dinner for my birthday!”


Derek dropped his head to his hands and shook it back and forth.  “This might be a huge mistake.”


“Oh, no!” exclaimed Stiles indignantly.  “No take-backsies!  You might not have officially asked yet, but you did proclaim intent, and that totally counts!”


Derek reluctantly laughed at Stiles’ antics.  “Okay, so where would you like to go for your birthday dinner date?  I might have to call ahead for reservations.”


A horrified look crossed Stiles’ face.  “That means I’ll have to dress nice!  Can I have a few days to think about it?”


Derek smiled and stood, heading for the door.  “Yeah, call me and let me know.  I need to head home; I have an early shift tomorrow.”


Stiles watched as Derek descended the stairs before he ran to his closet.  He began tossing hangers left and right, cloaking his bed and floor with discarded clothing.  He was tossing through his dresser drawers when John came home and found the disaster area.


“Whatcha doing, Son?” he asked and watched as Stiles stumbled into a wall in shock.


“Dad!  You’re home!”


“I am,” said John.  “And your room looks like a tornado ripped through it.  What are you doing?”


Stiles blushed deep pink.  “Um, Derek maybe asked me out for my birthday.  And he wants to go someplace nice—but my choice.  And I realized that I have no actual ‘date clothes’.”


“So…you decided to destroy your wardrobe to punish it for your poor sartorial choices?”


Stiles slumped against the wall and twisted a t-shirt in his hands.  “No,” he pouted, “but I don’t want to embarrass Derek when we go out together.”


John nodded and shoved some clothing aside so that he could sit on Stiles’ desk chair.  “Okay, so you’re now realizing that dressing like a member of a Seattle garage band is not the way you want to go through life.  What would you like to do about that?”


Stiles considered his father for a moment.  The Sheriff did not bat an eye when told that Derek Hale—22-year-old Derek Hale—had asked Stiles on a date.  He had not, in fact, raised any objections at all.


“Do you think we can, maybe, take some money from the college fund and go shopping?”


John was astonished.  Stiles hated shopping of any kind unless comic books were involved.


“Yeah, sure, son,” he said calmly.  “We can do that.  I’m off Tuesday, if you want to go after school.”


Stiles smiled and began to place articles of clothing back into his dresser and closet.  “That’s great!  Thanks, Dad.  Maybe I should do some research online, so I can get an idea of what my ‘style’ might be.”


“Okay,” said John.  “Can you do that after dinner?  I’m starving!”




˜˚˜  ˜˚˜


Stiles went to school on Thursday wearing his new duds, receiving a wolf-whistle from Erica.


“What’s the occasion, Stiles?” she asked when she met him in front of the school.  “You’re looking awfully spiffy for a school day.”


Stiles shrugged.  “I’ve gotta get used to dressing like a real boy sometime.  Besides—I have a date tomorrow for my birthday.”


Erica’s eyes widened in joy.  “Really?  With whom do you have a date?”


Stiles looked around to make sure nobody was listening, and paused to allow Boyd to catch up with them at Stiles’ locker.  “Derek is taking me to dinner tomorrow.  I picked a Chinese place in Hillery so we won’t get stared at.”


“Stiles,” Erica tutted, “you’re going to get stared at.  Derek’s hot like burning, and you!  Well,” Erica began to walk around him in a circle, eyeing him like a prime piece of meat.  “You’ve turned into quite the hottie!”


Stiles blushed, very pleased.  He did look good, and he had a secret accomplice to pull it off.  On Sunday night, after speaking with his father about a shopping trip, Stiles called Allison Argent.  She was the most fashionable female he knew other than Lydia Martin—and Stiles would never ask a favour of her.  Allison agreed to e-mail him links to several men’s fashion websites—sites he had never even heard of—and then Stiles and John had poured over the links and photos, pulling together a look  that Stiles and John both approved of: Bright colors, no tight pants, no skinny jeans, an odd tie or two, and suspenders instead of belts.


Today, Stiles was wearing neatly fitted black Chinos with red suspenders, a dark blue button-down shirt with a red tie, and red Chuck Taylor high-tops with black toes.  It was almost retro/almost hipster, and ultimately comfortable.


And girls were looking at him like he was a new student rather than the same geeky kid they’d been in school with all along.


It was rather unnerving.  But both Erica and Boyd looked at him like they approved of his new look—not that he asked.  He was pleased, and that was all that mattered.


But the look Lydia Martin gave him when he walked into first period English was priceless.




˜˚˜  ˜˚˜



Stiles sat across from Derek, sipping water in the dim light of the restaurant.  Pleasant scents wafted from the kitchen, and Stiles was anticipating the dinner he had ordered.  This was no buffet place that he chose; rather it was filled with glass-covered tables with real cloth napkins, and the serving staff wore unstained clothes.  On each table was an unlit candle in a crystal holder, but Stiles liked the hint of atmosphere without the fire.  Derek was unlikely to freak out—he had managed to deal with the candles in his bedroom after all—but why risk a nice meal over the possibility.


“Happy birthday, Stiles,” Derek murmured softly.  “I’m glad you chose this place.”


Stiles smiled, pleased.  “I wanted to not be stared at for our first date.  I mean, if this is a first date.  Anything back in Beacon Hills would be populated with people who know me or my father, and they would all feel a need to stop by and say ‘hello’ while we ate.”


Derek grimaced, wrinkling his nose in a cute gesture of distaste.  “No, that would not be good.  I’ve never been here before.”


Stiles nodded, bopping his head to a tune only he could hear.  “Yeah, this place opened about two years ago, I think.  I’m not up on all the eateries in the county, but Melissa brought Scott here for a good report card when we first got to high school.  He hasn’t really had a good one since then.”


Derek scowled at the mention of Scott.  “Let’s not talk about Scott right now.  Tell me about you, okay?  What would you like to do with your life after school?”



They sat there, in that restaurant, talking and eating and making plans.  Derek told Stiles about his job as a physical therapist and Stiles talked about wanting to go into early childhood development or child therapy.  Derek gave Stiles another update on the house construction and Stiles talked about the epic shopping trip he went on with his father.  They got to know one another on a far deeper level, and both admitted that the attraction was new to both of them (neither had ever considered being attracted to men before).


They held hands on the way to the car after dinner, and Derek kissed Stiles on the cheek at his door when they arrived home.


It was a good date.



˜˚˜  ˜˚˜



On Monday morning, Stiles pulled into his parking spot with a huge smile on his face.  He’d had a wonderful first date, followed it with a Cooking Day with Boyd and Isaac and Derek, and finished the weekend by printing out an epic History essay that he had spent two weeks researching.


Isaac was beginning to open up more, and he spent more time smiling and laughing while chopping vegetables or rolling dough.  He even came prepared with his own list of possible dishes to make, and Stiles and Derek were happy to comply.


Boyd was thinking about asking Erica out for a movie or pizza, and Stiles was fairly certain that she would say yes.  The only obstacle might be her parents, but they’d been attending Pack meetings and were honestly happy for the changes in Erica since the Bite.  Mrs. Reyes was becoming fast friends with Stacy Hanson, and she would help Erica babysit when Dennis and Stacy wanted a date night. (Two children under the age of 10 were too much for Erica alone, and that was the only reason.)


Stiles had two phone calls over the weekend that changed his personal relationships: one from Scott—to apologize for his behavior, the other from Allison—asking more questions about Pack dynamics.  From those two calls Stiles began to understand that Scott might never be his best friend again, because he really didn’t understand what he did that was so wrong, and he only called because Allison said he should, and that Allison might become his best ally in the Hunter community.  She had been in recent contact with her maternal grandparents—people her mother never allowed her to know—and she would be planning a trip to visit them during summer break.  Stiles had high hopes that Allison would be able to learn about the more reputable Hunters in the supernatural community, so that she would pass information on to him.


He was smiling when he walked into the school building.


He was smiling when he met up with Boyd and Erica in the hall before class.


He was even smiling when he walked to his seat in English class and faced down Miss Blake.


But five minutes after the class bell rang, Stiles was no longer smiling.  Because two new students had walked into the class and sat near the front of the room.


They were huge, both of them, and very well-muscled.  They were blond, from what Stiles could see of their close-cut hair, and they had low foreheads over close-set eyes.  And they were identical twins.


And, after Stiles sent a Spark-trail to the new kids, Stiles could tell that they were Werewolves.


Not once did they look at Stiles, all during the day, but they kept an eye on Scott.  And during lunch, Stiles made sure to keep Erica out of their range of influence.  In fact, he called her parents during lunch period and asked them to pull her out of classes for a ‘family emergency’.  They obliged, and Stiles called Derek to pick her up.  By the time lunch was over, Erica and Stiles were meeting Derek in the administration office and neither had seen the twins at all.


“What’s going on, Stiles?” Derek asked as he escorted Erica from the building.


Stiles slipped a note to Derek and kissed Erica on the cheek.  “I’ll call you after school, okay Erica?  I’ll have assignments picked up for you.”  With a deliberate nod, Stiles left Derek and Erica in the parking lot and re-entered the school.


The twins turned up in his Economics class and his History class, but he avoided them the rest of the day.  After school, Boyd called his father to tell him that he would be spending some time with Stiles, doing homework, and Stiles drove them first to the Stilinski house, so Stiles could pick up something special, and then to Derek’s rental house.  Derek and Erica were waiting there with Dennis and Stacy Hanson and Mr. and Mrs. Reyes.


They were all looking to Stiles for answers.  The first thing Stiles did was hand Erica a leather thong with a pewter locket hanging from it.  After a pointed look, Erica slipped the locket over her head and sat between her parents.


Stiles took center stage and addressed Derek.  “The Alpha Pack has made a move.  Today we got two new students; identical twins, built like brick houses and totally werewolves.  Since you never told me about any incoming newbies asking for admittance, I know they aren’t here under your authority.  They’ve already scoped out Scott, but they didn’t have any classes with Erica before lunch.”


“Is that why you got us to pull Erica from afternoon classes?” asked Mr. Reyes.


“Yes,” said Stiles.  “This Alpha Pack could mean trouble for us, at least for a little while.  I want to give us a clear advantage, and that means hiding our true numbers as much as possible.”  Stiles nodded at Erica’s pendant and she opened the locket to reveal the silhouette of a baying wolf.  She gave him a questioning look and he simply said, “That is going to hide your Wolf from the Alpha Pack.  I bet, right now, none of the Werewolves in this room could sense what you are, no matter how close you’re sitting to them.”  When they all tried, Stiles just smirked.


Derek nodded in approval.  “Okay, so what else do you have planned?”


Stiles handed Magic Bomb necklaces to Mr. and Mrs. Reyes and explained their use, and they both slipped the pendants over their heads.  For the Hanson family, Stiles had braided leather bracelets charmed to hide the Wolf magic.


“I don’t have anything for you, Derek, because they already know you’re the Alpha.  It’s too late to hide Scott, because they’ve already seen and scented him, but since he doesn’t want to be Pack I’m not going to worry about it.  I’m sure he barely smells like you, anyway.”


“That’s fine, Stiles, and I thank you.”  Derek settled into his chair and accepted Erica into his lap as she sought to scent her Alpha.  The Reyes’ didn’t even flinch anymore when she did that because they had become used to her new behavior.  “What do we know about these twins?”


“Well,” said Stiles, “they’re incredibly butch, in a caveman kind of way.  And their names are Aiden and Ethan McGuire.  I can do an internet search if the last name isn’t fake, just to see where they might be from.  One was scoping out Danny Mahaleani and the other was leering at Lydia Martin, so one is straight and the other is at least Bi—maybe gay. That’s not unusual in twins, actually.  And they have to be very intelligent—or able to fake it—in order to test into the classes they have with me, because I saw them all damn day.”


“So they’re trying to find my Pack,” said Derek.  “According to their M.O., the Alpha Pack will try to force me to kill my Betas, but that’s not going to work for them.  I’m stronger than that, and I have strong allies. This Pack will withstand the Alpha Pack; I’ll make sure of it, and so will Stiles.”


So that they couldn’t be proven to lie to parents, Stiles handed Erica her afternoon assignments and she, Boyd, and Stiles all sat in the living room to do homework.  Derek ordered take-out for everybody, and he sat and reassured Erica’s parents that he would do everything in his power to protect their daughter.  It was all happy families for the next three hours, until Stiles had to drive Boyd home—and Boyd was wearing a new shimmery green-gold star-shaped pendant around his neck.


˜˚˜  ˜˚˜


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