Stiles stumbled gracelessly into the locker room just in time to witness the entrapment and reverse-transformation of the Werecreature-That-Would-Be-Twins. He had wondered how two Omegas could dispose of their Alpha and both turn to Alphas, and now he knew. He was sure that the ability to ‘merge’ was unique to Aiden and Ethan only, and that Deucalion would have used it to his own best advantage.
With a bare glance across the room, Stiles noticed that Coach Finstock was standing guard between the abomination and his office, where he had corralled Isaac Lahey and Jackson Whittemore as if he could protect the boys with his own body. Actually, from the way Jackson and Isaac were cowering just inside the doorway, it seemed they were of the same opinion.
Stiles might have to gloat about that later.
Stiles dropped his backpack by the edge of ash circle and opened it, removing a glass jar containing some viscous liquid, a leather pouch of Mountain Ash, and a thin paint brush. The Twins were out cold, and Stiles could make sure they stayed that way, but he needed to remove them from the school, and to do that he would need to secure those lethal claws in case they woke before he was fully ready to deal with them. He dipped the brush into the liquid, and then into the Ash, and he began painting sigils onto the exposed wrists and ankles of the Twins.
“Bilinski!” came the bellow from across the room, “what the hell is going on around here?” Coach sounded so upset and put out that Stiles automatically answered without thought and without ceasing his work.
“These guys must have thought Jackson and Isaac were part of the Pack because they smelled slightly of Werewolf. I guess they didn’t bother noticing that Scott’s not actually part of the Pack.”
Coach merely shrugged in thoughtful acceptance before pointing an accusing finger at Stiles.
“You’re a Werewolf and you quit the team?”
Stiles paused in his work and offered an unimpressed glare. “I’m not a Werewolf, and I had good, legitimate reasons for quitting the team.”
Coach frowned. “If you’re not a Werewolf, what are you?”
“I’m the reason you have those pendants and are still alive.”
Stiles finished his painting and pushed some more magic into the sigils before carefully closing the jar and pouch and wrapping the brush in a piece of clean cloth. He replaced his tools back into his backpack and stood, brushing his hands against his khaki-clad thighs while he pondered his next move. He was totally not dressed for this shit! He really needed to get the Twins out of the locker room and into the Preserve, where they could be dealt with.
But how, exactly?
Stiles took the chance to look toward the Coach’s office and was honestly surprised to see the trio still there, since he had momentarily forgotten about them. Jackson looked a bit shell-shocked, like he couldn’t believe that Werewolves were actually dangerous. Coach looked like he was re-evaluating Stiles and everything he thought he knew about his former bench-warmer. Isaac looked…slightly betrayed.
Stiles ran thoughtful fingers through his hair before squaring his shoulders. “Isaac, we were going to tell you, okay? But there was…stuff,” he said, gesturing widely at the crumpled Twins still contained within the Ash circle. “And it was dangerous stuff, so we wanted it to be over before we said anything. And now I have to get these guys out of here before anyone else wanders in or they wake up, so you’ll have to bear with me for a little while longer.”
Isaac pushed his way between Coach and Jackson and slumped toward his locker. “Let me change and I’ll help you carry them to your car, and you can tell me everything on the way.”
Stiles shrugged and nodded, and pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed. The phone rang once, then twice, before—
“Dad!” Stiles sighed in relief. “You’re okay.”
“Stiles? I’m fine. Just a bit scratched up, and I have at least one traumatized deputy. How are you?”
Stiles sighed again and looked at his ‘prize’. “I have the Horrible Twins out cold in containment and Coach is looking at me like I’ve grown an extra head. Isaac is going to help me get them to the Jeep so I can remove them from school grounds. Is Christopher still there?”
“He’s cleaning up right now,” the Sheriff grunted. “Derek had to…let’s just say the really big one is out of the game.”
Stiles snorted. “I beg to differ on that count, father mine. These Twins can do something truly terrifying that makes them ‘the big one’. Is Derek okay?”
“He’s healing. Do you need to talk to him?”
Stiles shook his head uselessly. “Nope. But you might want to ask where he wants to deal with the rest of the Alpha Pack. After I get these losers secured in my back seat, I have to deal with the Darach issue, so I need to know where I’m going with them. I will not take them to the construction site.”
There was muffled conversation that Stiles could ignore while he watched Coach escort Jackson from the locker room. That boy really was a twit.
“Stiles?” the Sheriff asked as he rejoined the conversation, “Derek wants to know if you can get your mess to the old distillery on Switchback Road? It’s totally abandoned and there’s room to work there.”
Stiles snorted. “Um, he is aware that that is where Deucalion was ambushed way back in the way backs, right?”
Stiles could hear the smirk on his father’s face as he replied, “Derek thought it would be fitting to end things there.”
Stiles signed off and placed his phone securely in his jacket pocket as he turned to face Isaac, who was looking doubtfully at the Ash circle.
“They’re not going to wake up and attack us, are they?” he asked softly.
“Nope,” Stiles replied confidently. “I’ve got them well and truly secured and sedated. They won’t wake up until I want them to.”
Isaac looked up at him. “How do you know?”
Stiles returned the look with sincere gravity. “Because I said so, and that’s how my magic works.” He fitted the straps of his backpack over his shoulders and considered the Twins. “I’m not putting them in my backseat, so we’ll have to pile them into the cargo area of the Jeep. Do you want top or bottom?”
Isaac’s eyes widened in incredulity before he schooled his expression. “I’ll take the top on one and the bottom on the other, so we can share the load.”
Stiles pulled his Jeep up to the equipment loading zone on the side of the school and he and Isaac made two trips to load the Twins into the cargo trunk. Stiles settled himself into the driver’s seat and waited until Isaac had his passenger seatbelt fastened before starting the engine and driving away from the school. They drove in silence until they were well away from the populated areas—and until Stiles could tell Isaac was struggling hard not to ask questions.
“Okay,” he said, breaking the silence, “I’m not going to go in depth into the history of the Pack. Derek Hale is a born Werewolf, and he is currently the Alpha of the Hale Pack; the lead dog, as it were. Scott was bitten by the previous Alpha, who was batshit crazy and killing people until he was taken care of. Scott is a Werewolf, but he refuses to submit to Derek, so Derek is training him to keep him safe and in control, but Scott is Omega—without a Pack. Other terminology you need to know is Beta—a non-Alpha Werewolf within a Pack, Emissary—a human magic-user who acts as the spokesperson for the Pack, and Pack-adjacent—people close to the Pack but not actually Part of it.”
Isaac was silent as he pondered what was said, and then he asked, “So you’re the Emissary, right?”
Stiles nodded. “I am. I’ve been training for a while, and I don’t follow any particular magical path, but I get the job done.”
“Okay,” said Isaac, “so who else is Pack or Pack-adjacent?”
Stiles cocked his head as he considered the answer. “Well, my dad is Pack, but is human, and Erica is Pack and is a Werewolf. Erica’s parents are Pack-adjacent, as is Boyd, but they have option to become Pack.”
Isaac nodded again and he looked over his shoulder to see if the Twins were stirring. They weren’t.
“So, what was up with Coach? Because he was oddly calm about the whole thing back in the locker room.”
Stiles snorted. “Okay, I can give you a little bit of the back-story. Scott can’t keep his freaking mouth shut about important shit, and somehow Jackson found out about him being a Werewolf—so Scott told him to go to Derek about it. And Dad and I had the dubious pleasure of hearing Jackson confronting Derek and trying to blackmail him into giving him the Bite. He actually threatened to tell people that Derek was a Werewolf.”
Isaac gaped at Stiles. “But…but who would have believed him? I saw what happened in the locker room, and I don’t even believe it!”
“I know, right!” Stiles snorted. “And that’s pretty much what Derek told him—that nobody would believe him. Then Derek went to Coach, who I guess used to know Derek’s mother or something, and he told Coach about Scott and warned him that Jackson would probably be an asshole about things. So I made sure to give Coach some of my MagicBombs in case Scott got out of hand and he needed to be sedated.”
“But Coach didn’t know about you.”
Stiles sighed. “No, he did not. I gave him everything on the sly, because it is to my advantage—and Derek’s—if I stay under the radar. Hell, we wouldn’t have even told Boyd about all of this, except that Boyd had become a good friend and I decided to let him in on things. I swear, Isaac, we were going to tell you. We just needed to deal with the Alpha Pack first.”
Isaac directed his attention to the rear of the Jeep again. “Are they part of this ‘Alpha Pack’?”
“Yeah, they are. And they’re really bad dudes, too, so we were going to have to be careful about things.”
“Well they certainly were scary!” said Isaac. “Okay, then. I’ll help you get them contained or whatever, and then I’ll let you deal with them. But after it’s all over? I’m in. I want to be Pack or Pack-adjacent or whatever. But I want in.”
Stiles smirked. “We can do that.”
By the time Isaac was safe back at home, the Twins were secured at the abandoned distillery—once again in a Mountain Ash circle and totally unconscious—and Derek was fully healed from his battle with Ennis Porter. Christopher Argent had disposed of the body somehow—and Stiles was not about to ask any questions—and he was sitting at the Stilinski kitchen table nursing a very strong coffee.
John was still at the Station, debriefing his traumatized deputies—well, just the one, actually. Deputy Tara Carter was all stitched up from the ‘wild dog’ that found its way into the Station, and while she would be on desk duty for a few weeks, she would be back to work in a few days. Deputy Clark Michaels, on the other hand, was processing to move down San Diego way—far removed from Beacon Hills and Werewolves. He had been babbling, but was coherent, and he said nothing to any of the other deputies that were away on patrol during the whole mess. Michaels wasn’t particularly well-liked around the Beacon Hills Station; he was a bit heavy-handed with his arrests and was a bit of a braggart in the office. John protected him from the other deputies, who would have loved to have seen him a broken, shattered mess, but he would not be missed.
Stiles was changing out of his messy school clothes and into grubby jeans and a comfy hoodie—red, of course—when he heard Derek enter the house. He trotted down the stairs to give his boyfriend (ha!) a well-deserved hug and kiss. “You got one of them, and I have two all tied up at the distillery. That leaves Kali and Deucalion to deal with.”
Derek nodded and leaned forward to scent Stiles behind his ear. “You dad was totally bad-ass at the station.”
Stiles chuckled softly. “Of course he was.” He pulled back to look at Derek. “I know you had to kill Ennis, and I’m pretty sure we’re gonna have to kill Deucalion, but what are we going to do about the Twins?”
Derek frowned at him. “You have an idea, don’t you?”
Stiles nodded. “I have an idea. And I know it’ll work. But before we deal with them, we need to deal with Julia Baccari and Deucalion and Kali. The Darach can’t touch the Nemeton here, so she’s going to waste away. I bet she’d like to take her killers with her, if she was given that choice. I think we should give her that choice.”
Derek took Stiles’ hand and led him into the kitchen where they joined Christopher Argent at the table. Stiles sat while Derek prepared coffee for them both. Stiles eyed Argent carefully; the man seemed calm and sane, but with his family history….
“I take it Allison is still at school watching practice?”
Argent raised one eyebrow in response. “I’d like to keep her out of this as long as I can. Once school lets out for the summer, I’ll be sending her to train with her mother’s family. Allison deserves the chance to know them, and they, her.”
Stiles nodded in agreement. “I think that’s a good idea. And it will give us the summer to get Scott fully trained without distractions. I just hope her living grandparents aren’t as nutso as the dead one.”
Argent slowly shook his head. “The Swanns are a good family. They fully embrace the Code, which I appreciated when the marriage arrangement was made. I just didn’t understand how completely my father had corrupted Victoria before we wed. I was often out of the country and away from the family while she was living with my family. Perhaps if I had stayed around after my mother died….”
“No,” said Derek as he sat beside Stiles, “you can’t think like that. Living in the past won’t help the future. I had good people to teach me that lesson.”
Argent’s lips quirked in a wry grin and he raised his mug to drink deeply. “In any case,” he continued, “Allison has had several phone and Skype conversations with her grandmother Swann, and she is looking forward to learning about that part of her family.”
Derek nodded as he cradled his mug between his hands. “I appreciate how you’ve stuck by this treaty, Mr. Argent, but I don’t want to drag you any further into trouble with Deucalion. He has bad history with your family, and I don’t want him to have the chance to take it out on you.”
Argent nodded and stood to carry his mug to the sink. “I’ll leave you to it, then. If you need further help with disposal, let me know.”
Stiles and Derek were quiet as Argent left the house. He was an asset, but not quite a friend, and while they were happy to have his aid when things got stupid sticky, they were unwilling to reveal even of few of their secrets when the older man was present. That he was now aware of the MagicBombs was going to be a point of contention for Stiles for a long time. Once Derek indicated that Argent’s vehicle was well away from the house, Stiles leaned over and rested his head on Derek’s shoulder.
“I hate that you had to fight. And I hate that you had to kill. And I really hate that you’ll have to do it again.”
Derek kissed Stiles’ forehead, resting his lips gently along Stiles’ hairline. “I know. But I have to keep the territory safe. How did Isaac take the news?”
Stiles snorted. “Oh, we’ll have to sit him down and have a proper talk after this whole mess is over, but he took it rather well. I think whatever his father put him through deadened his ‘freak-out’ reaction.”
Derek frowned deeply. “Yeah. So, what’s your plan for dealing with the Twins?”
Stiles grinned, wide and evil. “Well, you see—I had some time to think about this.”
The call came, and they really weren’t expecting it.
They should have been.
John was sitting at the kitchen table with open folders in front of him, trying to write an unbiased, helpful recommendation for Deputy Michaels. Since John was a very observant, hands-on kind of Sheriff, he was not at all blind to Michaels’ faults, so he was struggling to find a way to word the transfer papers in such a way as to make the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department eager to have him. If Michaels had been a more fair-minded individual who fostered good relationships with his fellow officers, the job would have done itself.
Of course, if Michaels had been that kind of person, he might not have freaked out when he saw his first Werewolf, and John wouldn’t be filling out transfer papers at all.
Stiles and Derek were washing and drying dishes from dinner—and discussing the next Cooking Day menu plans—while music played softly from the MP3 player on the counter behind them.
Dinner was a casual affair, with no drama when there could have been. Stiles had driven out to the distillery to check on his captives while Derek prepared his mother’s lasagna recipe. The Twins were still trussed up and out cold, so Stiles added a layer of Mountain Ash and mistletoe to reinforce the prison. They would still sleep until he decided to wake them. When he got home, Derek dished out the food and they ate quietly.
Then came the paperwork, and the dishes. And the phone call. On Stiles’ line.
“This is Stiles. Talk to me.”
“Stiles…oh, god! I need…I need help here!”
“Melissa? What’s happened? Where are you? Are you at work?”
Derek put down the dish he was drying at the frantic sound of Melissa McCall’s voice over the phone connection. Stiles’ stammered response caught John’s attention and he left the table to join the others at the counter. Stiles flipped the connection to ‘speaker’.
“Oh, jeez! I’m at home,” said Melissa in a not so calm tone. “I was leaving for work, and this…this woman-thing, with claws on hands and feet…she just ran at me from the street!”
“Kali!” Stiles hissed. “Melissa, were you armed?”
Melissa laughed shakily. “I’ve been wearing three of those things at a time since Scott attacked me! But now I’ve got a trapped psychotic Werewolf unconscious on my front porch, and Scott’s due to be home from work in an hour.”
“Right,” said Stiles as he rinsed the rest of the soap from his hands, “I need to get my kit together, and we can move Kali off your porch. We’ll be there in ten.”
Stiles disconnected the call and pulled his oil, brush, and ash from his backpack. Derek was ready to leave when Stiles turned to his father. “We’re going to move Kali like I moved the Twins, but I need you to schedule a parent/teacher conference for tomorrow, if you can.”
John ran a tired hand over his face. “You need me to call Miss Blake tonight and arrange a meeting. Do I mention Kali or the Twins?”
Stiles screwed his face in consternation. “Um, mention the Alpha Pack if you have to—but only if you have to, but don’t let her know we have most of them down. I think Deucalion will come tomorrow, if none of the others return to him tonight. He may be the brain, but we’ve taken out the brawn, and I’m not sure he knows that yet.”
“Okay, son, I’ll follow that plan. You two be careful.”
Derek drove, but they took the Jeep because of the cargo space. He eyed Stiles fiddling with the paintbrush for a moment before asking, “What are you going to do with that?”
“Hmm? Oh! I’m going to paint handcuffs on the Werewolf so we can move her. The oil is mistletoe and aconite infused, to keep them asleep, and I paint Mountain Ash sigils that re-create the Ash circles in mobile form.”
Derek grinned at Stiles. “You’re pretty bad-ass yourself, you know?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Miss Blake? My name is John Stilinski. I’m sorry to be calling so late, but my son is in your advanced literature class.”
“Ah, yes, Stiles. What can I do for you, Mr. Stilinski?”
“I’m having concerns about my son’s performance in class,” said John , not unironically, “and I’d like to possibly meet with you before classes tomorrow morning? Stiles will, of course, be joining us because it would be pointless otherwise.”
“Of course I will be available to meet with you before classes. I can be at the school as early as you need, but classes begin at eight o’clock.”
John smirked to himself. At least Miss Blake was acting like a concerned teacher. “I think seven would be good for all involved.”
“Very well, Mr. Stilinski, I’ll meet you and your son in my classroom at seven tomorrow morning.”
The whole exchange took less than five minutes, and Miss Blake/Baccari seemed to be totally under the impression that he was just a concerned parent dealing with classroom behavior. John appreciated the simplicity of the whole thing. After all, someone was going to get schooled tomorrow.
Derek had called out of work that next day, citing a family emergency. He did not have clients scheduled that day, so he got no grief for it. Actually, the supervisors at the therapy clinic that employed Derek absolutely loved him, as did Derek’s clients, so they would have had no problem allowing Derek time to deal with any sort of emergency, familial or otherwise.
Derek would be staking out the distillery, making sure the Werewolves that were being held there were still secure. He was armed, after a fashion, with some of Stiles’ special MagicBombs. While it was true that they contained Mountain Ash and Wolf’s Bane—and Derek really should not have been able to handle them—Stiles had coated three of the pendants with some of his father’s gun oil, creating a slippery barrier to the anti-werewolf contents. Still, Derek was careful to only hold the leather thongs from which they were suspended. He had been practicing slinging them at targets like a sling-shot, and he was rather good.
Stiles and John headed into Beacon Hills High School to meet with a teacher/Darach well before classes began. John wasn’t sure what to expect upon meeting her, but she looked….
A total wreck! Seriously! John could see where, at one point, she would have been a lovely young woman with shining dark eyes, smooth skin, and soft, wavy hair. At one point.
Not at this point.
Stiles had explained how, once he recharged the Nemeton and put it to his own personal use, he had made it impossible for any other Druid, dark or otherwise, to pull magic from it for nefarious purposes. John took that to mean that the Nemeton was like a charging station for a phone or computer, and Stiles had made it impossible for anyone but him to plug in to it. What it actually meant was Stiles had blocked all transfer of energy at all, unless it was to benefit the territory, so Julia Baccari’s magic was basically eating itself—and it showed.
She was above average height, around five-foot, eight-inches, and had dark-ish hair that hung limply past her shoulders—but the brunette hair had a grayish cast to it. Her complexion was not clear and fresh, either, showing cracks around the eyes and mouth like ruined porcelain or unfired clay. Her eyes were also dull and hazy, even to an untrained eye, and she appeared as if she was about to produce cataracts.
Her Glamour was fading. John now knew what that meant.
Stiles walked into the empty classroom ahead of John and stood calmly near the teacher’s desk in the front of the room. John noted that Stiles kept himself well out of range for casual touch, though, and he was as alert as John had ever seen him. John, following Stiles’ lead, approached the woman cautiously and held out his right hand in greeting—while keeping his left in his pants pocket, clutching a brass coin that Stiles had charmed for him. When Miss Blake returned John’s handshake, her hand glided casually over a magical shield that kept her from actually pressing skin to skin, and she’d never even noticed it.
“Miss Blake? I’m John Stilinski. It’s nice to meet you.”
She smiled at him, wide and inviting, and in one brief moment (thanks to the charmed coin) John could see past her glamour to the desiccated husk underneath, and then she stepped back and the un-spell was broken.
“It’s very nice to meet you, sir. Now, what can I help you with?”
It was Stiles, however, that answered.
“Actually, we’d like to help you—so that you can get the hell out of our town.”
Miss Blake looked startled. “Excuse me?”
Stiles leaned forward on the desk, still out of reach of his ‘teacher’. “I mean, Former-Emissary Julia Baccari, that I have access to Kali Steele and the rest of the Alpha Pack, and you are just dying here with no way to seek your revenge. But I can give you Kali Steele, and she can see what she has done to you.”
The image of Jennifer Blake flickered like an old film, off and on until the image was distorted from strain. Over the benign image of genteel schoolteacher was the torn and scarred image of what used to be Julia Baccari, eyes wide with shock. “Where issssss ssshhheee?” the Darach hissed, and Stiles did not flinch away.
“I can show you. I will lead you to her. But you have to understand,” Stiles said calmly, “that this is MY territory, and you are here by my leave—and you will not spill blood here to corrupt my land!”
Much to John’s surprise, the woman backed down before his son. She actually sank to her knees and folded her hands together in supplication.
Stiles stood tall over her. “See, we can play nice. I don’t want the Alpha Pack here anymore that you do, but taking them down is a job for me and my Alpha. I will allow you your vengeance over Kali Steele, and possibly over Deucalion, but then you must bow to the earth and leave this place.”
“I understand,” she said, and John followed his son back to the police cruiser secure in the knowledge that Jennifer Blake/Julia Baccari was following them out of town to the distillery.
Derek was pacing in a tight circle inside the distillery, keeping a close watch on the two circles of Mountain Ash. Those trapped within never moved. They slept on in their magical sleep, just like Stiles said they would.
Stiles had called to tell him that he was on his way, bringing the Darach with him. Deucalion had not yet shown his face, so Derek kept watch. Of course, Derek always thought there was a possibility that blind Deucalion could not make his way to find the rest of his Alpha Pack, since Ennis Porter was dead and Derek was watching over Kali and the Twins. There were no other surprise members of the Alpha Pack. All the research that they had collected from various sources said there were only five members, and three were in the building with him.
Twenty minutes after Stiles’ phone call, Derek heard two car engines approach the distillery from the direction of town. Derek stalked to the large cargo doors and opened them wide. John had pulled the cruiser right up to the building and Stiles climbed out quickly, rushing to Derek’s side. The second car, a mid-level station wagon of indeterminate age, parked further away from the building, as if the driver was afraid of what she might see if she came any closer.
“Are you okay?” Stiles asked Derek as John walked toward them at a much more sedate pace.
“Yeah,” he replied. “It’s still quiet here.”
Stiles nodded. “Yeah, well I think that’s about to change.” Stiles was looking into the building, but Derek could hear distant rustling in the scrub near the edge of the woods.
It was funny how all of these abandoned buildings in Beacon Hills are near the edge of the woods. Not necessarily the Preserve, but definitely the woods. It was like nature was recovering everything that mankind no longer had a use for.
And somewhere near the distillery, there was movement approaching from a distance. Almost surely it was Deucalion.
Stiles entered the distillery and made tracks directly for Kali Steele in her solitary holding pen. The woman from the other car, Miss Blake or Emissary Baccari, followed at a respectful distance but Derek could tell her attention was totally on what was inside that building. Derek followed her, not because he didn’t think Stiles could handle himself, but because he wanted to show unwavering support for his Emissary. Of course, Derek did not enter the building until John was standing beside him, because if Deucalion was coming it would not do to leave a human outside with no support, no matter how well armed the man was.
Stiles walked right to the edge of the Mountain Ash circle that held Kali Steele and he raised his right hand slowly, closed-fisted, and quickly opened his fist—and dispelled the charm keeping her sleeping. Quick as a flash, Kali was up and awake and snarling as she threw herself at the Ash barrier, trying to get out to attack the ‘frail human’ that stood over her.
“When I get out of here,” she snarled, spittle flying from her mouth, “you will pay with your lives! We were going to offer you a choice. Now, you’re just going to die.”
Stiles, like the little shit that he was, just crossed his arms over his chest and gave an unimpressed look. “Well, you could do that, of course—if you get out of there. But there is someone here who would like to get some payback from you first.”
Stiles stood back by Derek and John and allowed Blake/Baccari to step forward. Kali ceased her fruitless barrage on the Mountain Ash and just glared at the woman in front of her. “Who the hell are you?” Derek could have cut glass with the sneer in her voice.
Blake/Baccari stepped closer. “Don’t you know me, Kali Steele? You were once everything to me, just as I thought I was to you.”
Her glamour shifted again, flickering from the teacher Stiles first met to the scarred visage that came to seek revenge, until it settled on an image Stiles had not seen before. One Kali had seen.
“Julia?” she whispered, the red bleeding from her eyes, leaving them dark brown and sad. “Julia, is that really you?”
Blake/Baccari laughed low and humorless. “This is how you knew me, before your betrayal. When you loved me. When you would die for me. Look at what you have done to me!”
With a shout, the glamour dropped again, this time for good.
The once tall and regal woman that entered the distillery was now gone, replaced by a slouched and crippled shadow. Scars covered scars, layered deep over her face, chest, and arms. There was an entire section of torso missing close to her spine, and the left thigh was missing half of the necessary muscle. Her hair, once long and thick, if not glossy, now hung in stringy patches as if it were ripped from her scalp by an angry roto-tiller.
There was a steady, slow, drip…drip…drip of blood and ichor falling from her right eye.
Stiles watched her directly, never glancing away from the disturbing sight, giving her the respect she deserved for suffering so much. Derek could do no less.
John looked down at the dirt floor once, swallowing bile in reflex, before returning his gaze to mimic his son’s.
“See what your quest for power has done!” Blake/Baccari hissed in anger. “You should have made sure to finish the job! You refused to end me, so now I will be your end!”
Blake/Baccari raised both hands, trembling with effort almost until she was shaking herself off of her feet, and she raised the Mountain Ash circle—lifting it until it floated like a hula hoop around Kali—and then she thrust her meager power at the Werewolf, concentrating that Ash until it became a missile aimed at Kali’s own body. The Ash swirled and gathered tight, forming several spears that entered Kali’s body through her eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears. Derek, Stiles, and John watched in fascinated horror as Kali began to choke and shudder, Ash leaking back out of her eyes and ears after the life and light left her body. When the Werewolf was down, Blake/Baccari gave a soft cry before falling to the floor, turning to so much ash herself, the cloth of her clothing drifting away in scraps on a breeze.
Stiles turned away from the scene, shoulders tense in distress, and he faced the open door of the distillery. A lone figure—a dark man in a dark suit wearing dark glasses and carrying a white cane—stood in the open doorway, devastation plain on his open face.
Devastation that was quickly replaced by rage.
“You dare to take my Pack!” the man bellowed.
Stiles raised a single wary eyebrow. “And you must be Deucalion.”
Behind Stiles John quietly drew his weapon and released the safety, and Derek popped claw and fang. Stiles stood taller in the face of Deucalion’s anger and Derek could feel the power build in the young man.
“I am much more than Deucalion,” the man exclaimed. “I am your death! I am the Demon Wolf! I am all-powerful, and you will bow before me!”
“No,” said Stiles as if butter would not melt in his mouth. “No, I don’t think so. You have no power to take any life here.”
The dark glasses dropped from the moderately-handsome face, and an Alpha-red glow filled the eyes. Deucalion’s brow thickened and his fangs grew longer and sharper. Derek did not allow his Wolf to follow suit, preferring to stay in control with faith in his Emissary.
Deucalion, who had not yet noticed the second Mountain Ash circle holding the Twins, began to stalk toward Stiles in a very menacing manner. “I am older than you can understand, and my power is stronger than you will ever know. Bow to me and I’ll kill you quickly!”
“You might be old,” said Stiles, “but that power is stolen power, and you really need to give it back!”
Red glowing eyes glowered at Stiles. “You dare to speak to the Alpha of Alphas in that manner?”
Stiles rolled his eyes. Derek was standing behind him, and couldn’t see it, but he just knew Stiles rolled his eyes. “Oh, puh-lease! You’re no more Alpha than I am! You lost that gift when you stole the lives and power of your Betas and Pack.” Derek subtly sniffed, and could detect the scent of one of the more rare forms of aconite that Stiles carried in his personal kit—a blue-purple bloom with white spots, no larger than the tip of a pencil eraser, it was actually a rare beneficial form of Wolf’s Bane; one that could draw a Wolf into a deep meditative state for healing. Stiles was releasing this bloom into the air, and Derek could feel a soft, magical current pushing it toward Deucalion. Several seconds later, Derek could see the dangerous Wolf’s eyes glaze slightly.
Stiles’ left hand was brushing Derek’s right wrist, and Derek felt a soft tap…tap…tap…tap…tap.
Deucalion’s eyes glazed further. Tap…tap…tap…tap.
Derek glanced sideways and saw the deliberate focus on Stiles’ face. Tap…tap…tap.
Derek crouched slightly, allowing his Wolf to come to the surface—feeling his fangs grow and fill his mouth. Tap…tap.
Deucalion swayed slightly, growling in anger and confusion. Tap.
Derek launched himself at Deucalion with full force, dragging the older Wolf to the floor and ripping his throat with claws and teeth. In the span of a heartbeat, the dangerous, old Wolf was dead, not even an air bubble to burst from the pooled blood on his chest.
Derek stood on steady legs and allowed his Wolf to recede, accepting a towel from who-knows-where when Stiles handed it to him. When he turned around, John was squeezing the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger but was otherwise unaffected. Derek could only shrug. “He was going to have to die, John. He was a danger to us all while he was alive.”
John sighed deeply. “Yeah, I know, Derek. That does not mean I have to like watching something like that happening. I’m just glad you weren’t right in front of me at the Station yesterday. I’m not sure I could have kept something like that from Carter, and Michaels would have totally flipped his shit over it.”
Derek and John turned as one and faced the Twins lying unconscious in the last Ash circle.
“So,” said Derek as he shoulder-nudged Stiles, “you had a plan for these two?”
Stiles shrugged. “Yeah, I did have a plan. But now that Deucalion is dead, I’m not sure if the false-Alpha power is still fueling these two. I’ll have to wake them up to find out for sure.”
John glanced at his son. “What was the plan?”
“Well,” said Stiles as he approached the circle, “I told you how these were basically abused by their Pack—like their asshole father made them the punching bags for every other member, right?”
“Well, I know Ethan and Aiden did kill to gain their power—um, one of their powers, at least. I’m just not sure if they actually killed every single member of the Pack. I’m pretty sure Deucalion was using them as muscle, but I know Ennis was a true killer, and so was Kali. I didn’t get that vibe from Ethan and Aiden in school. Menacing, yes; killers, not…exactly. But I’m willing to use the Spark to send their ‘morphing’ ability back into the earth, so they’ll never be able to merge like that again. Then I think we should cut them loose. They’ll either find anchors and thrive, or they’ll become total feral Omegas and die crazy and away from here. Either way, I want them out, but I don’t think Derek should kill them. I don’t think you or I should, either.”