Title: What Butterfly Effect?
Fandom/Genre: Teen Wolf
Relationship(s): Stiles Stilinski, Derek Hale, Sheriff John Stilinski, Talia Hale
Content Rating: Mature
- Time Travel
- Alternate Universe – Canon Divergence
- Mentions underage sex
- Mental and emotional abuse
- Canon Death
- Magical stiles
- Original Characters – Freeform
Summary: After the attacks by the Darach and the Alpha Pack, Stiles falls victim to a nasty flu epidemic, which affects his magical “spark”. Thrust into the past, before the time of the Hale fire, Stiles has the chance to right some serious wrongs. How will his actions affect his life and relationships in his proper timeline?
This is the product of my frustration with the TW timelines. I wanted to “fix” the TW universe, because as much as the angst amuses me, I want happy endings.
There is graphic mention of physical illness and sibling abuse. Some of ‘my’ characters are not nice. Sorry, it had to be that way. There is also mention of underage sex, possible non-con but definitely manipulated.
**Some of this has been edited, as I am not happy about the timing therein.
Disclaimer: Teen Wolf is owned by Jeff Davis, MTV, and other parties. I’m only playing with it because they don’t know what to do with their characters. I own nothing but the words.
Chapter One: After the End
Konstancji “John” Stilinski sat back into his chair at the dining room table and shot a troubled look at his son. It had been a week—one long week—since Stiles, his only son, his one love left in the world, sacrificed himself to save John’s life, and shook John’s outlook on the world around him at the same time.
John spent his entire adult life fighting the good fight against human evils and wrongs as a man of the law, and now he had to deal with the fact that there was a supernatural aspect to his world, and he could not deal with it alone.
Not that he was alone.
Melissa McCall, mother to Stiles’ best friend (a werewolf), also knew about the supernatural world. Of course, she would have to. Her son was part of it.
And then there was Derek Hale, whose reappearance in Beacon Hills heralded John’s new knowledge. John remembered the shock-ridden young boy from six years prior; a teen close to the age Stiles was now, who lost his family in a tragic fire mere weeks before John’s beloved wife also died.
Derek returned, only to be shadowed by the murder of his remaining sister, and then to be accused of said murder.
And now John was possessed of the knowledge that the Hale fire was deliberately set because the family was comprised of werewolves, and that there was such a thing as werewolf hunters, and that sometimes a person bitten by a werewolf could turn into something far more horrifying than a werewolf.
And John also was now aware that a lot of the unsolved “crimes” and attacks in his “open case” files were committed by supernatural creatures. This is why he was sitting at his dining room table on a rare day off; he was going through files and setting aside the ones suspicious enough to ask Derek about. Harsh coughing coming from the living room caught his attention again, and John sighed and rose from the table to sit by his son.
His hero son.
His sick son.
As it turns out, submerging yourself into icy water and dying, even for a short time, was enough to weaken then immune system and open you to the flu.
And this flu was nasty. All reports said so.
“…spokesman from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta has issued a statement that this flu epidemic is worse than they had originally anticipated. While the CDC recommends every person possible should get a flu shot, this particular strain seems resistant to preventative measures. Still, they acknowledge that virus should run its course within three to five days. As always, staying hydrated is paramount to recovery….”
Stiles hit the mute button as John sat on the chair next to his nest on the sofa.
“See, dad. Everyone is getting this. It’s gonna be bad, but not too bad.”
That proclamation was interrupted by a harsh coughing spell, punctuated by Stiles’ leaning over the edge of the sofa to spit into the pail John had placed there in case of emergency.
Stiles had been ill for three days now. It started as a slow sniffle with mild head congestion. By then end of the first day, Stiles had progressed to coughing, vomiting, and barely breathing without blowing his nose first. Stiles’ fever was progressing nicely as well. As John leaned over to place his hand on Stiles’ forehead to check his temperature, John noticed that Stiles had spit up blood. It was a small amount, but still….
“Okay, son, that’s it. You’re way too hot for my own peace of mind, and there’s blood in your bucket. Get yourself ready; we’re going to the hospital.”
Stiles groaned, but did not object. Instead, he struggled to sit up so he could put on shoes. John helped get Stiles standing and then he grabbed his keys and cell phone. Leading Stiles with his left hand, John dialed Melissa McCall.
“Hey, I’m taking Stiles to the hospital. It’s definitely getting worse. Can you tell Scott and pass word around? Thanks, bye. Okay, son, easy does it.”
John buckled Stiles into his seat, and then rounded the vehicle to the driver’s side. He was using the cruiser that he habitually used in his duties as Sheriff, and he debated using the lights and sirens in order to speed his way. He decided against it, but drove slightly faster than the speed limit allowed. After all, who was going to pull him over? He was the boss, after all.
When he finally pulled into the main Hospital parking lot, John discovered that Sheriff-speeding was not quite as fast as werewolf-speeding, as the Beacon Hills Pack was there to meet them at the door. Well, Scott McCall and Derek Hale were there. The human members of the pack, Lydia Martin and Allison Argent, were both still at home suffering from the flu as well. John had no doubt that Jackson Whittemore and Isaac Lahey were at their respective homes caring for the ill humans. Immunity to disease and viruses was the only complete plus to becoming a werewolf that John could think of.
“I got a wheelchair for you, Sheriff. It should make moving him easier.”
“Thanks, Scott.” John smiled at the boy who was practically another son to him. “He’s getting worse now. I know his fever is up.”
“And yet, (cough-cough-cough) he can still hear you talk about him.”
“Sorry, Stiles. Forgive me. Let’s get you into this chair and into the building. I’m thinking you’ll need to be admitted.”
“Oh, the joys (cough-cough) of being a mere human.” Stiles rolled his eyes painfully as John maneuvered him into the wheelchair. Derek came from around John to push the chair so John could move ahead to the admission desk.
“I told you, Stiles, the humans are important members of the pack. They keep us from losing control of our wolves, so we need to keep them healthy and safe.”
Stiles reached a hand over his shoulder to pat Derek’s hand. “Thanks, man. I appreciate this. You, too, Scott. I know you’d rather be anywhere else but here.”
Scott snorted. “You’re my brother, Stiles. Where else would I be. Besides, Mom is inside telling the admissions nurse all about you, so a room should be ready. We were near here when your dad called. I called Derek, and then Isaac, while Mom turned around to get here first.”
As it happened, getting Stiles registered and admitted took no time at all, thanks to Nurse Melissa McCall leading the way. Within an hour of their arrival, Stiles was cursorily examined, dressed in a backless hospital gown, stabbed with a saline IV, and placed in a private room on the fifth floor. Unfortunately, Stiles’ fever was steadily climbing, and he was having trouble keeping track of the conversation or answering questions for the admissions staff. John didn’t like the glassy cast of Stiles’ eyes or the flush of his skin. Stiles looked more like he was made of glass or ceramic than flesh and blood. He was more or less settled against his pillows in the dimly lit room while they waited for the shift doctor to come in with test results when he once again began coughing into a waiting vessel, this time a standard-issue bedpan.
And again, there was blood present, which worried not only the usually stoic Sheriff, but Scott and Derek as well. Derek leaned hard against the wall opposite Stiles’ bed, watching carefully and listening closely to Stiles’ heartbeat, which was slow but steady. Just as Scott began to pace worriedly around the small room, Melissa charged into the room, leading the doctor.
“Well, gentlemen, the bad news is: Mister Stilinski has the flu, badly. It’s good that you brought him in when you did. His temperature registered at 104. When the body temp reaches 106, brain damage can occur.”
John sank heavily into a chair by Stiles’ bed as he listened to the doctor, Dr. Prescott—according to his name tag, tell him how close he was to losing his son.
“I’m also concerned about his vomiting. Most of the cases we’ve seen so far have not had this symptom.”
John cleared his throat. “What about the blood? That just started.”
“Honestly, the blood is negligible. Most likely, it’s because his throat is raw from dehydration and coughing. If it was a larger amount, I would be concerned.”
“Okay. So that’s good, right?”
Dr. Prescott leveled a stern gaze at John. “Sheriff, I’ll be honest. The vomiting is a concern. He’s not keeping liquids down, so that’s aiding the fever in his dehydration. The IV will help, but only so much. I’ll be prescribing an anti-nausea medication, and we’ll hope that helps. I’m also placing orders for his temperature to be closely monitored. A nurse or technician will be in every half hour to check. Will you be here at all times?”
John frowned as he watched his son struggle to get comfortable. “I’ll be able to stay for a bit tonight, but I have a shift later. I have to work tomorrow as well. I’ll try to get out of it, but about half my staff is out sick as well.”
Derek walked to John’s side. “I can stay with him. I know the hospital is safe, but Stiles shouldn’t be alone.”
John smiles at the younger man. “Thanks, Derek. He’s pretty out of it right now, but I’d feel better if there was a familiar face here if he becomes lucid.”
Much later, long after the Sheriff had to go to work and the McCalls left to visit other sick friends, Stiles opened his tired, glassy eyes and moaned in discomfort.
“This is not my bedroom.”
A short huff of laughter drew Stiles’ attention, and he rolled his head to the left to see who was with him.
“Derek? What are you doing here? What am I doing here? Where is here?”
Derek leaned closer to the bed and reached for the lift control to raise Stiles’ head, in case he started coughing again.
“You’re in the hospital. Your fever got too high, so your dad brought you in.”
“My fever got high? But I feel so cold.” Stiles’ voice took on a whiney tone. “Where is dad?”
“He had to work. The whole department was hit with this flu.”
Stiles hummed. “So why’re you here?”
Derek sat back and crossed his arms across his chest. “You were really out of it after you got here. Your dad didn’t want you to wake alone in a strange place. I volunteered to stick around.”
“But you don’t even like me.”
“I don’t not like you. You have your moments. Clearly this isn’t one of them.”
Stiles started coughing again, just in time for a night nurse to come in to check his temperature.
“Good to see you awake, Stiles. Do you want to try some ice chips?” Her voice was light and friendly, but her face was dead serious. Derek raised his eyebrow in query, and she shook her head in negative. Stiles had been in the hospital for six hours. His internal temperature had not dipped below 104.
Stiles licked his lips futilely. “Water would be good.”
“Sorry, kiddo. It’s ice chips or nothing. You aren’t doing so good keeping water down.”
“But won’t ice chips just turn to water?”
“Yes, but in a smaller amount than you would get if you sipped plain water. So—less of a chance that it’ll come back up.”
“Mmm-kay. I’ll try some ice chips.”
The nurse smiled. “I’ll be right back then.”
After she left the room, Stiles turned his head to look at Derek. “She seems nice. We should get her name. Send her flowers. Write her a poem.”
Derek frowned. “Her name is Sandra. Not Sandy, Sandra. She told me. Twice. She’s been flirting with me for the last two hours.”
The corner of Stiles’ mouth tilted in a small smirk. “Do you not like being flirted at by pretty nurses?”
“I’m more concerned with you right now. And besides, don’t you think my record with women should demand I avoid the trouble for a while?”
“Oh, Sourwolf, don’t be hating all the ladies just because you seem to attract psychos. No….wait…don’t flirt with the nurse. I don’t need a psycho nurse poking me. I don’t have my baseball bat to defend myself.”
Derek quirked an eyebrow at him. “Don’t you think I’d defend you?”
“Not if psycho-women are your kryptonite.”
Of course, this is when Nurse Sandra returns, bearing a small plastic cup of ice chips.
“Are we discussing Superman? I loved ‘Man of Steel’! I thought it was totally better than ‘Ironman’!”
“Um….okay. Can I have another blanket? I’m really cold.”
Nurse Sandra frowned. “No, I’m sorry. Your fever is too high for us to be adding exterior heat to your body. You only feel cold because your internal temperature is so high. Try some ice. Maybe we can get the temp down after a while.”
Stiles opened his mouth, begging silently for the ice, but Nurse Sandra just stood blankly beside his bed. Derek gently took the cup from her hands. “I’ll feed him the chips. I also need to call his father to let him know Stiles is awake for now.”
“That’s fine. You can use the phone on the wall here. It’s supposed to be for hospital use only, but we can connect to the Sheriff’s office. Just press ‘1’ for an outside line. I’ll be back around in about half an hour for the next check.”
As she left the room, leaving the door ajar, Derek dutifully spooned a few ice chips into Stiles’ still open mouth. Stiles gently sucked the ice into water drops and swallowed gently. His throat was still sore from the coughing.
“Thanks, Derek. You can call Dad now, if you want. I think I can scoop my own ice.”
Derek stood and handed over the cup. “Not too much. I don’t want you to get sick again.”
After Derek’s short talk with the Sheriff, during which he assured the man that Stiles seemed lucid but tired, Derek sat back in the bedside chair. He took the ice cup from Stiles when it appeared the boy had had enough. Stiles pulled his sheet closer over his shoulders and nestled into the pillow.
“You should entertain me while you’re here.”
“I’m not going to do tricks for you, Stiles.”
Stiles snorted. “No. Duh! You should tell me a story. No, not a story. Tell me stuff about you. I’ve known you for almost a year, but I don’t know anything about you.”
Derek shifted in his seat, suddenly uncomfortable. “You don’t need to know about me, Stiles.”
Stiles whined. “But I waaaaaaaaaant to know. ‘Sides, who am I gonna tell? Go on, Derek. ‘Once upon a time, there was a Sourwolf in Beacon Hills….’ You know how this one goes.”
“You’re tired and burning, Stiles. You won’t hear a thing I say anyway.”
“Then you shouldn’t have a problem telling me stuff.”
With an annoyed huff, Derek crossed his left leg across his right knee and settled back to get more comfortable. Stiles smiled and closed his eyes. His head hurt, and the faint light from the hallway was making the pain worse. He could feel himself drifting away on a fever-dream, so he let his mind wander as Derek began to speak.
“I was the second child in my family, and the oldest boy. But my younger brother was nine years younger than me, and Cora—who was born just after me—was your age. So I was closest to Laura most of all. She was three years older, but such a tomboy. We played ball together in the woods, and we loved the same books. Then she turned sixteen, and everything changed……”
“…..want to thank you for sitting with him this entire time, Derek. I know that wasn’t easy for you.”
“It wasn’t so bad, Sheriff. The flirty nurse was annoying, but the quiet was nice. I’m just glad I can help.”
Stiles opened his eyes slowly, because the sun was coming through the window now and it was too bright. Once he could focus, he saw that his father was, indeed, standing beside his bed. He was blurry, but he was there.
“Dad…,” he croaked lowly. Very lowly. Stiles barely heard it, and he said it.
But Derek heard it, because he gestured toward Stiles, and his father turned toward him.
“Hey, buddy. Good to see you awake. Derek is leaving for now, because he’s been here all night.”
“Bye, Derek. Come back anytime.”
“Bye Stiles. Sheriff, I’ll see you later. I know Scott is planning on coming this morning so you can get some sleep.”
“Yeah, he is. I’m just going to sit with my boy for a while before I go home to shower and rest.”
Derek left, and John sat in his vacated chair, but Stiles had closed his eyes again. The light hurt too much, and he was so very, very cold—even though the doctors and nurses told him he was, in fact, very hot. Stiles just lay quietly and listened to his father talk about his thankfully boring night at work. Apparently, the whole of Beacon County was suffering from what was turning out to be the worst flu epidemic since 1958. While there were so far only a few dozen deaths nationwide, the effects were crippling the population. But criminals were suffering as well, so the Sheriff’s department was quietly manning phone lines in case of emergencies.
Stiles began to drift to sleep while his father talked, so he was totally unaware that his body began to violently shake as the fever caused a mild seizure.
The next time Stiles opened his eyes, the sky outside was dark again, and Scott and Derek had joined his father in the bedside vigil. He opened his mouth to say something, but his throat was so dry that he only croaked softly. Derek immediately rounded the bed, reaching for the bowl of ice chips and the spoon that were left on a table near the door. Scott reached out to grasp Stiles’ foot, which had slipped from under the sheet, and John held Stiles’ hand, steering clear of the IV line. Stiles gratefully accepted the ice into his parched, dry mouth, and whimpered in pleasure at the coldness on his tongue.
“Stiles, can you hear me?”
Stiles turned his head toward his father, even as he opened his mouth for more ice.
“Okay, there you are. Your temperature spiked really badly. You hit 106, and went into a seizure. The nurse had to come and wipe you down with alcohol pads to try to bring it down. Do you understand?”
Stiles frowned, and then nodded. His brain was buzzing and his vision was blurry, but he could make out the concern on his father’s face.
“They’re going to keep washing you with alcohol, every half hour, until this fever comes down. This is very a very dangerous time, Stiles, and we’re all worried. Unfortunately, two more deputies are down sick, so I can’t stay from work tonight. Scott and Derek are going to be with you. None of us want you to be alone here.”
“S’okay, Dad. I don wan you to be sick either, “Stiles slurred. He missed the looks of concern that passed amongst the men in the room.
“I’m going to call every hour. If anything changes, Scott or Derek will call me. I love you, Stiles.”
“I luff you, too, Da.”
The Sheriff left with one last look at his ailing son, and Derek took his place in the chair by Stiles’ side. He kept spooning ice chips into Stiles’ mouth when Stiles opened for them. Scott rubbed Stiles’ foot absently, at a loss seeing his best friend suffering so much.
“Dude, I need to go meet my mom downstairs for a bit, okay? She wants updates on you, but her shift just started. I’ll let her know what’s going on, and then I’ll be right back, okay?”
“Kay. Tell her hi for me.”
After Scott left the room, Derek asked, “Do you want another story while you wait for your next alcohol bath?”
“Mmm-hmmm. Pweaze. More ice, too.”
“Okay, well, you know how obsessed you are with Lacrosse? I was obsessed with basketball when I was your age. I played on the school team, and it was a good outlet for excess energy for me, especially on the days before the full moon. I was on the way to basketball practice when I met Paige the first time. She was practicing cello in an empty classroom…..”
“…the fever holds at this temperature, he might be out of danger for now. But we’re going to have to provide more drastic means if it goes up again.”
“What do you have in mind, Dr. Prescott?”
“Well, a cold submersion might not be out of the question. It’s a last-ditch effort, but it may be necessary.”
“You mean an ice bath?” John’s voice sounded distressed.
“Well, we’d use cool water. A total ice bath would throw Stiles into sudden and traumatic shock. We’re trying to avoid that.”
Stiles struggles into consciousness and his hand scrabbled against the side of the mattress. Derek noticed first, and reached out to grab the hand. He met Stiles’ confused gaze with his own concerned one.
“Hey, are you in there?”
“Think so. I hurt.”
“Do you want me to take the pain?”
“No. That makes me muzzy. I’m already muzzy. What’s going on?”
Derek sat up and beckoned to John. “You went into another seizure—a big one this time. They’re talking about dunking you in cold water to bring down the fever.”
Stiles scoffed. “It wouldn’t be the first time, would it?”
“Hey, son.” John leaned over the bedrail and kissed Stiles’ forehead. “I’m so happy to see you awake. You’re starting to scare me, more than usual.”
“Sorry, Dad. I’m trying not to be sick.”
“I don’t blame you. I’m just so worried. Stiles, we’re going to have to try some drastic measures.”
“I heard. Do what you have to do.”
“Well, right now, they’re going to give you another alcohol bath, okay?”
“Kay. Cn Derek tell me another story?” Stiles was beginning to slur again, and John waved the doctor over frantically.
While the doctor brought the towels and alcohol to the bedside, Derek gently held Stiles’ hand and began to speak.
“Peter convinced me that Paige would only really accept me if she was part of our club. I was still thinking about it, when he went to another club leader and asked him to…initiate her into the club….”
“I’ve worked in emergency services most of my adult life. I was a police intern in high school, and I answered a lot of phone calls about family members in medical distress.” John sat by Stiles’ bedside, stroking a gentle hand over his son’s arm. He looked up at Derek, who was standing on the other side of the bed, sporadically ‘taking’ pain from Stiles as his fever raged.
“I got used to seeing people deal with that kind of stress early on in my career. I had to deal with medical emergencies during traffic accidents when I was a traffic patrol officer in Los Angeles, and I visited my share of hospital emergency rooms when filling out reports. I decided to leave that kind of stress behind when I met Claudia. She wanted small-town life, and I wanted her to be happy. Becoming a deputy here and raising a family was the best thing I ever did.
“And then Claudia got sick. She was okay at home at first, but then she started losing time. I had just become Sheriff and was working long hours. I couldn’t risk her being alone with Stiles and losing time, so we both decided to admit her to the hospital. She started to deteriorate quickly after that. This was around the time of your family’s fire. I was working a lot, so Melissa would pick Stiles up from school with Scott, and then she’d feed him and bring him here so he could visit his mother.”
John let out a deep sigh. “The hospital is supposed to be a place of healing. But when you have a family member in dire distress, and you can only sit back and watch, the hospital is a scary, scary place.”
Stiles released a soft moan, and the skin under John’s hand suddenly grew incredibly hot. John started and sat back quickly as he stared at his son. Derek leaned forward and grabbed Stiles’ hand. “What’s happening?”
“I don’t know! I felt him go hot. I mean, really hot! Like I was touching a stove burner.”
John and Derek watched helplessly as Stiles gasped, and then laid still. They could feel his feverish skin burning, but the rosy red glow of fever was washing away.
In fact, all color in Stiles’ skin was washing away. His dark brown hair faded to ashy grey. His skin took on the color of paste. The moles on his skin faded to taupe. Stiles began to look like the subject of a black-and-white photograph.
And then, right before their eyes, Stiles faded completely, into just a shadow…..
Chapter Two: Fever Pitched
Stiles drifted slowly back into consciousness. His last memory was of his father speaking softly, telling Derek Hale about how much it sucked watching his wife slowly pass away while sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair. Now a new voice has caught his attention, and it’s not a voice he knows at all.
“Yes, Deputy Reed, I know the Sheriff is already at the hospital. But he’s here visiting his wife, so I don’t want to disturb him with this.”
Stiles stilled, keeping his eyes closed, as he realized something is seriously wrong. He pretends to be still asleep so he can listen to at least half of the conversation. The doctor was using the in-room phone, so Stiles could hear his every word.
“I have a ‘John Doe’ in room 513 who is unconscious and originally presented with an extremely high fever. No, that’s not the important part, Deputy Reed. I don’t think he’s currently contagious, and his temperature has dropped dramatically. But I have no record of him being placed in this room. When I began my rounds at the start of my shift two hours ago, this room was empty. There is no admittance record for a ‘John Doe’, and the security videos do not show him walking into the hospital at all. He just appeared. His fever is gone, but he’s still out and unresponsive. Yes, that would be good. Like I said, I don’t want to pull the Sheriff away from his wife. I know he’ll be back this afternoon when his son is out of school, but he should have this time alone with her. Yes, okay, I’ll meet you in the visitor’s lounge on the fourth floor in half an hour.”
Stiles is stunned and horrified. He didn’t’ recognize the doctor’s voice, but he knew the name ‘Deputy Reed’. Stiles’ father always said Reed had a way of seeing things that the Sheriff couldn’t.
But Reed was one of the officers killed by the Kanima that night in the police station.
And then there was the issue of the Sheriff, who was in the hospital visiting his wife while his son was in school. What were the odds that Stiles didn’t know this man? Or the son, for that matter?
Thinking clearly for the first time in days, Stiles made a plan. He needed to find clothing and money—and a newspaper—and he had to get out of the hospital unseen.
And he had less than thirty minutes to do it.
Stiles longed to seek out room 209, where he instinctually knew the Sheriff would be—and where his own mother died, but time was not on his side right now.
Stiles slowly raised his eyelids to find that the doctor gone from his doorway. Slowly he climbed out of the bed and, thanking every god he could think of that he wasn’t connected to any tubes or wires, padded softly to the door to peek into the hallway.
The coast was clear.
And there was a laundry closet across the hall from him.
Stiles darted across the hall and into the closet, closing the door behind him. On the shelves, he found sets of scrubs and stacks of thin slipper-socks and patient slippers. Once changed, Stiles moved to an empty room further down the hall from the one he woke in, and he pressed the Nurse Call button. He then proceeded down the hall toward the Nurse station, passing the on-call nurse as she moved to answer the patient call that he placed. When she was out of sight, Stiles ducked down behind the station desk toward purse-storage, which he knew about from hanging out with Scott’s mother while she was working. Inside the hidden purse, Stiles finds $60 and a notebook. He grabs the cash and leaves a note: Sorry. It was an emergency. I’ll pay you back.
Stiles makes note of the nurse’s name on her driver’s license: Nancy Matthews. He vows to repay her as soon as he possibly can.
Quickly as his slowly recovering body can move, Stiles makes a break for the stairs. Although he feels slightly light-headed, he knows he can’t risk the elevators. Twenty long minutes later, slightly out-of-breath Stiles reached the main floor and the hospital gift shop. Stiles doesn’t have much money, but he does know that on-call doctors find fresh clothes in this shop, and he needs clothes in order to make it out of the hospital unnoticed. He finds sweatpants, a BHMH sweatshirt, and a pair of ‘Dr. Comfort Flex’ sneakers. As he dresses in a restroom, his stomach growls, and he realizes that he doesn’t remember when he last ate. So, it’s off to the cafeteria for food and a mis-laid newspaper. The gift shop was sold out of today’s edition.
The cafeteria was mostly empty, so Stiles bought a cheap sandwich and a lousy cup of tea, and found his way to a table still cluttered with a newspaper. There is a teen-aged boy cleaning tables nearby, and Stiles sits quickly so he won’t lose the paper with the trash collection. The boy looks to be around Stiles’ own age, and he’s wearing a Beacon Hills basketball jersey over a long-sleeved t-shirt. The jersey has the number ‘4’ on the front and back, and the name ‘Hale’ across the shoulders. Stiles has just picked up the paper when the boy turns to face him….and he knows that face.
It looks like Derek. A much younger Derek.
A Derek without stubble and permanent frown.
And then Stiles notices the date on the newspaper header: December 3, 2004.
Shocked, Stiles totally misses the chair, and sits heavily on the floor, crashing against the table on his way down. The noise alerts the boy, who rushes over.
“Hey! Are you okay?”
Stiles looks up into concerned grey-green eyes.
Eyes still filled with pain.
Eyes Stiles knows well.
He swallows. Throat dry, he swallows again. “Uh, yeah, I’m okay.”
“What’s your name? Should I call someone for you?”
Blinking slowly, Stiles realizes that if the date on the paper is correct, this boy will not know him. “John. My name is, uh, John. And, um, there’s really nobody to call. Thanks, though.”
“Are you here alone? Are you seeing a doctor?”
Stiles snorts. “Um, yeah. I’m alone here. Very alone. And I’m not seeing a doctor at the moment.”
Derek, because that’s who this really is, reached for his arm to help him up from the floor.
“Maybe you should eat, yeah? You look really pale. Are you sure you don’t want me to call someone?”
“I, uh, recently had the flu. I guess I need to eat now. Sorry, I just had a really bad shock.”
Helping Stiles into a chair, Derek sits next to him. “Should you even be out of bed?”
“Man, you have no idea. I shouldn’t even be here right now.” He stuffed half the sandwich into his mouth, mainly to give himself time to think.
Did he just go back in time? Without a juiced-up DeLorean even.
The conversation he overheard upstairs supports that hypothesis. So does the date on the newspaper.
And, of course, there’s MUCH YOUNGER Derek sitting right in front of him.
Chewing slowly, Stiles began thinking very quickly. There are things he knows. Not many things, but they seem to be important things.
1-Stiles was very, dangerously, sick
2-Stiles woke up in the past
3-Stiles has no idea of how to get back to his own time
4-Most importantly here: Stiles can’t let anyone see him right now.
Unknown to him, a lone tear fell from his eye as he eats. The gravity of the situation begins to weigh on him. He’s alone here, and he doesn’t know how long he’ll be here.
A warm hand grips his shoulder gently. Stiles looks up to see Derek frowning at him.
“Are you sure I can’t call someone for you?”
Stiles shakes his head slowly. “Man, I was so serious. There is literally no one you can call. I’m so alone right now. My dad is upstairs, but he won’t know me. My mother is dead, but she is dying in this hospital right now and I can’t do anything about it. My best friend is at school with me and he won’t be able to help.”
Stiles is crying fully now, and babbling. He’s not making sense. He knows that.
He wants to go back. His life sucks right now—back in the future—but it’s still his life. He hates to think that he’s dying now, back then, and there’s nothing he can do.
His father is sitting upstairs now, with a dying wife, and in the future with a dying son.
Stiles stands abruptly. “I need to get out of here. Thanks for the help Derek, but I really can’t stay here.”
And Stiles rushes for the exit, stumbling into the cold December afternoon. Stiles doesn’t know what time it is, but he knows that his father will be going to pick him up from school soon, and that means that he really can’t risk being seen right now.
Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital is located near the industrial parks on the outer edge of Beacon Hills. It’s also on the opposite side of town from Beacon Hills Elementary School. So far, the odds are in his favour. There is no way that he’ll accidentally run into the Sheriff if he stays away from the schools and the business district. He also has to avoid the Sheriff Station, so once he’s in the parking lot he turns west toward the warehouse district. He knows from memory, both distant and recent, that several of the warehouses are empty, and right now he needs a place to hide and regroup.
He’s almost at the end of the parking area when he registers the sound of footsteps behind him.
“Do I know you?”
Stiles turns and sees Derek walking behind him. “Sorry?”
“Do I know you? You said my name back there, but I never told you. And I don’t recognize you from school. So am I supposed to know you?”
Stiles shakes his head, which makes his headache worse. “You don’t know me. I don’t ever really think you ever knew me.”
“So how do you know me?”
Stiles huffs a small laugh. “In about six years, you make quite an impression on me.”
Stiles recommences his trek toward the warehouses. It may be California, but December is still December, and it’s cold outside. His sweatshirt only does so much, and if the wind picks up he’ll really get chilled.
“What does that even mean? In six years?”
Stiles sighed. “It means, the first time I ever saw you is six years from now. Out on the preserve. You’re going to be very angry.”
Derek frowned. “John, that’s impossible. Everything you’ve said is impossible.”
Stiles levels a serious look at Derek. “So, listen to my heartbeat and tell me I’m lying.”
“What? I can’t…What do you? I have no idea…”
“Really, Derek? You’re gonna have to try harder to defend yourself there. If I’m spouting the impossible, knowing you can hear my heart shouldn’t even make the short list of surprises.”
After a long walk, during which Derek tries and fails to make arguments against Stiles’ logic, they arrive at a long block of abandoned warehouses. Stiles busies himself with trying doors and windows, looking for a safe way into a building where he can get shelter and a quiet place to think.
“What are you doing?”
“What does it look like? I’m trying to break in to one of these buildings.”
“Because I have no place to go. It’s getting colder. I need shelter and a place to think. And I don’t have money for a hotel, not even a cheap one.”
“If I give you a place to go, will you tell me how you know me?”
“I already told you how I know you.”
“Okay. If I give you a place to go, will you explain in a way that I will understand how you know me?”
Stiles looked at the other boy, and saw the determined set of his jaw. That much will not change in six years—how stubborn Derek can get when he wants something and is too frustrated to ask for help.
“Is this hypothetical place warm? Cuz I just got over a flu and massive fever.”
“It’s warm, has comfy furniture, and is out of city limits.”
Stiles narrows his eyes. “Is it far away from Peter Hale?”
Derek gapes at him. “How do you know Uncle Peter?”
“Dude—part of the ‘explanation’ that you want. Is it FAR away from Peter Hale?”
“He knows about it, but he won’t be there. He’s been avoiding the place for a few months.”
“Is it far to walk?”
“About an hour from here. I brought more sandwiches and water from the cafeteria.”
“Can I wear your jacket? I know you don’t really need it, and I’m getting cold.”
Derek drops his backpack and removes the jacket, handing it over to Stiles. “So, is it a deal?”
Stiles nodded. “Yeah. Oh, wait—one more provision: No Doc Deaton, either.”
“Why would I call a veterinarian?”
“Trust me; he’s more than a vet. And I don’t fully trust him.”
The place Derek takes him is on the preserve, near his home but far enough away that Stiles figures the other werewolves in the family won’t sense that he’s there. It’s a tree house, built in a sturdy California Buckeye tree. It’s fairly low to the ground, and Stiles recognizes the main construction material as cedar planking. He can also recognize the scent of pine and cedar, so he figures that if he can smell it, it will mask his own scent.
The interior houses a futon mattress and two bean bag chairs, and a pile of old, worn quilts. There is a Styrofoam cooler in one corner, and an old milk crate filled with comic books. It looks like the perfect teenage nest. Stiles had never found this place in his own time, and he did a lot of running in the preserve after his mother died. He wonders what happened to it in the ensuing six years. It’s not close enough to the main house for it to have burned in the fire.
Stiles settles gratefully onto the futon and accepts a sandwich and bottle of water from Derek. Derek sits in one of the bean bags, and eats his own sandwich, giving Stiles time to compose himself after the long walk. Stiles wasn’t kidding about his health, and the long walk, mostly through woods, had just about done him in. Taking one last swallow of water, he pulled a quilt around his shoulders and sat back against the wall.
“Okay, so you want to know what I know, right?”
“And you want me to tell you in a way that you will understand.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “Well, my friend, that’s not going to happen.”
Derek frowned. “What?”
“Oh, I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you an answer to every question you ask me. I’ll even use small, single syllable words when I can. But there is no way I can make you understand it, because I don’t understand it myself.”
“Okay, then, tell me how you know me.”
Stiles took a deep breath. “You’re going to have to suspend disbelief for a moment here.” Glancing at the milk crate full of comics, Stiles noticed a few old Marvel titles near the top of the stack. “Do you like Dr. Strange?”
“Non sequitur much?”
“Go with me on this, okay? Dr. Strange was a regular medical doctor, right? But in his deep childhood, he was attacked by demons, and it was revealed that he had this magical heritage.”
“So, what? You were attacked by demons?”
“No. Werewolves. Well, one werewolf, and it was my best friend that was attacked, not me. But about six months ago, this mysterious Druid-type told me that I had a magical Spark. I think that spark is why I’m here.”
Stiles looked at Derek, whose mouth had dropped open. For a moment, Stiles thought he’d struck Derek mute, and then the other boy began to sputter.
“A werewolf attacked your friend? When? Where? Does my mother know? Is it the same wolf that killed Paige? I gotta….I gotta….”
Stiles reached out and grabbed Derek’s arm, stopping him from rushing out of the tree house.
“Whoa, there! Calm down. The attack hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen for another six years. That’s why I said you wouldn’t understand.”
Derek sat back, confused. “Am I the wolf who attacked your friend?”
“Oh, god, no! If anything, you’re trying to help him! Not that he’s making it easy you. Or me.”
“Why don’t you just start from the beginning? I’ll try to understand, okay?”
Stiles sighed. “Okay…here goes. In six years, for some stupid reason me and my best friend went into the woods not far from here. We got separated, and he was attacked. He also lost his inhaler, so we went back the next day to try to find it. We found you instead. You grow up really well, if you must know. But you have a shit life from here on out, and your attitude really sucks. I figured—kinda by guess-work and a strong belief in the impossible—that my friend had been bitten by a werewolf, if only because the wound had healed by the next day. He didn’t believe me until he had to, and by then he almost killed me because turning into an actual wolf-man was not his finest hour. Your tragic self was trying to help him, but he’s a stubborn SOB and refused you at every turn. I, on the other hand, was full of questions, so I kept hounding you-HA!-and asking and questioning until you were forced to realize that I was the best bet you had for helping Scott.”
“So, we’re going to be friends?”
“Eh…we’re going to be not-enemies. The last time I remember talking to you, you told me you didn’t not like me and that I had my moments.”
“You seem okay to me. Why would I say that?”
Stiles regarded Derek for a long moment. There was a possibility here. It was risky, but there was a possibility to maybe change things. Maybe the changes would stick. Maybe this was all just his fever—and he was dreaming and none of this is real.
Stiles didn’t feel sick anymore, but if he was dreaming, why would he feel sick in his own dream?
And if it is only a fever-dream, then why shouldn’t he risk telling all and changing the past? It won’t really matter in the long run if this all isn’t real. Maybe he’ll just wake up like Dorothy, in his black-and-white world, and he can tell his father and Scott all about Oz. And they can pat his head and feed him ice cream.
And if he doesn’t wake up? Well, no harm, no foul, right?
“Derek, before you found me in the hospital, I was sick from a really bad fever. The year was 2012, and I almost died so many, many times, but this time it was the flu. Then, my fever broke, and it was 2004, and I was all alone. I was told a long time ago—well, six months ago—that I had a spark; that magic would be possible for me. But my world is shit. My mother is dead, my father works too much, my best friend is a werewolf, and people keep dying around me. In the last eight months, I personally witnessed five murders. I was attacked. My father was kidnapped. I helped kill the monster that attacked my best friend, and I died to save my dad.
“And now,” Stiles sighed. “And now, I’m in the past. My mom is still dying, and I can’t change that. Her cause of death is totally natural. She’s beyond my help now. I can’t even go to see her, because I’m probably sitting next to her right now. But you’re here. In the future, you told me so many things. Things that you never told anyone else, ever. Things that you would never have told me if I wasn’t loopy from fever. And those things that I now know—some of them you don’t know yourself right now at this moment—can maybe help the future you.”
“But, what about temporal mis-adjustment? What about time anomalies? I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, too, not just comic books. Ray Bradbury’s ‘A Sound of Thunder’ goes on about how much of a bad thing changing the past could be. What if you tell me things, change things here, and your own time gets so much worse?”
“Honestly, Derek, I’m just banking on the fact that I had a dangerous fever, and this is all a dream. I can give you a few for-instances, and then you can tell me if you think it’s worth changing or not, okay?”
“Okay. Give me one for-instance, and I’ll help you decide.”
Stiles shrugged deeper into the quilt, and took a deep breath. “In January 2005, next month, there will be a fire. The entire Hale family will be trapped in the house. Eight people will burn alive. Derek, Laura, and Peter Hale will be the only survivors.”
Chapter Three: Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk
Mention of sibling mental abuse, emotional abuse, underage sex, child sexual abuse. This is where I take everything and turn it upside down.
It was a testament to Stiles’ improving health that watching Derek vomit out the low door did not affect him.
All things considered, Stiles expected no less. The boy did find out that his entire family was going to die.
Considering all the things that Stiles didn’t tell Derek, losing a lite lunch was not too bad.
Stiles may have slept a lot through all of Derek’s ‘stories’ in the hospital, but he remembered all of them. It was like his subconscious wanted to collect all the information he could get, all the time. Stiles had always be a seeker of knowledge, no matter how insignificant. He spent way too many hours with Google and Wikipedia, and he managed to retain most of what he learned. Sometimes it got him into trouble, like when he wrote that essay about the history of circumcision for his Economics class. Sometimes it served a better purpose, like now. If he was going to change his past for a better future (for everybody), then the stories that Derek told him will help.
This younger Derek would probably not appreciate this knowledge. Nobody likes when strangers know your secrets. But the fact that Stiles does know….stuff? That will make him more believable. Once Derek believes what Stiles is telling him, then he’ll be more likely to back him up when he confronts Alpha Hale.
Stiles was not looking forward to dragging poor Derek in front of his own mother. But Alpha Hale was integral to changing the past. And if she was as loving a mother as Derek told him, even if she was strict as hell, then she would do whatever it took to care for her oldest son.
Stiles handed over a water bottle once Derek sat back in his bean bag. “Are you okay, now?”
Derek shot him a baleful look. “I don’t think I’ll ever be okay again.”
Stiles shrugged. “I know it seems like that, but you have to remember: That fire only happened in my timeline. It hasn’t happened here yet. And if I have my way, it won’t happen. So, you feel like crap for nothing. Yet.”
“What do you mean, ‘yet’?”
“I know a lot of stuff, Derek. And a lot of the stuff I know is important to stopping that fire. And a lot of it, you know but haven’t told anyone else. I think you only told me because I was delirious with fever, mostly unconscious, and you needed to vent. You keep a lot of stuff bottled up, my friend, and it isn’t healthy. And in order to stop that nasty fire from happening, I need to tell a few of your secrets to a few key people.”
“What key people?”
“Well, there are two people who can stop all the bad stuff from happening: Your mother and my father.”
If Stiles thought Derek looked ill before, he looked positively deathly now.
“What do you have to tell my mother? No, scratch that. Who, exactly, is your father?”
Stiles leaned forward. “Okay, before I answer that, do you trust me? Do you trust that I only want to help?”
“I told you to call me ‘John’ because the doctor at the hospital called me ‘John Doe’. That means they have no idea who I am. My real last name is Stilinski, and my father is the Sheriff. And as bad as you feel about telling your mother anything that I might know about you, imagine how I feel about facing my father as a teenager—when in this time, right this minute, the Sheriff’s son is ten years old, and his wife is dying in the hospital.”
Derek went pale, and he sat back against the wall. “Oh, god, I never thought….This affects you, too. Right now, and in the future, this all affects you.”
Stiles nodded. “Yeah. I told you my life was shit, Derek. I was not exaggerating.”
“I, uh, I don’t think I can listen to you tell my mother my secrets. I don’t even know what you think you know, and I don’t want to hear it.”
“You’re going to have to listen to some of it. I’ll need you to corroborate some of it. But I’ll do a gentle lead in, without you, if you want. Of course, once we drag in the Sheriff, I may need some moral support.”
Derek nodded. “Okay. This is so messed up. You know that, right?”
“Derek, I alone know how messed up this is. I know stuff, stuff you don’t know now or in the future, that will impact what I tell people. You don’t need fixed. I don’t need fixed. But there are people in your family that seriously need fixed. They don’t know how messed up they are. Maybe I’m the best for the job here; a total outsider, you know? I have no interest in the outcome. Not really. I mean, if this is all just a dream, then no matter what I say, it won’t impact me. It’s not like I’m gonna walk up to my ten-year-old self and say ‘hey, sorry your mom is gonna die, but you can’t blame yourself because it’s not your fault.’”
“You told me your mom is dying from natural causes. You can’t blame yourself.”
“You can’t put logic in front of a ten-year-old. The circumstances of my mother’s death are not cool. She has a medical condition that I will only disclose the details of to my father. And then, my dad made a choice the night she died, and I had to live with it. And none of it is cool, okay? None of this stuff is okay. And for six years, I tried to deal with it alone because manly men do not talk about feelings, and my father hid his in a bottle. You hide your feelings now, and in the future your anger is the only thing that keeps you human. So, yeah, none of this is cool.”
“Okay.” Derek looked at his watch, and sat up in dismay. “Oh, man, it’s after four o’clock.”
Stiles looked out the low doorway and saw the darkening sky. “Yeah, I guess it is late.”
“No, I was supposed to be home from the hospital at three. Mom is gonna flip!”
“What were you doing there, anyway?”
“My mother takes her duties as Alpha of Beacon Hills very seriously. She does a lot of volunteer work, as well as pro-bono law work with her firm, and she insists that the whole family do volunteer work as well. I picked the hospital because it’s closer to the High School, so I can walk there. My mom volunteers there too, but my sister hates the place.”
“What were you doing there on a Friday?”
“Teacher Planning Day. No classes and I didn’t feel like sticking around home. I figured I’d do some good work instead of goofing off.”
“I’m glad you did. Hey, I know you have to jet, but am I okay to stay here? Nobody is going to bother me here, right?”
“Nah. It might get cold later, though.”
“I think, with all these blankets, I’ll be okay. I’ll block the door with the bean bags, so no drafts get in. But, um, if you can find a way to sneak some food and water out to me…?”
“I think I’ll ask my mom to come out with me after dinner, if it’s okay with you. I need moral support as well.”
“Good deal, that. I’m, uh, gonna slip out to the woods for a nature call, and then I think I’ll take a nap. Do me a solid, though? Don’t tell your mother anything when your uncle or your sisters can hear you. I think she’ll trust and believe you, but make sure she understands that the two of you should be alone.”
“I can do that.”
“Derek, where were you? It’s almost dinner time.”
“Sorry mom. Something important came up, and I lost track of time.”
“Is there anything I can help with?”
Derek smiled a little. He was counting on his mother being a worrier. “Yeah, actually, there is something. Can we talk privately after dinner? Somewhere nobody can overhear?”
Talia Hale raised on elegant eyebrow as she regarded her son. Derek had become withdrawn after his recent…difficulty. That he was offering to allow her to help him, even if it was with a paper route, she was going to take the opportunity.
“We can go to my office, right after the dishes are done.” Derek frowned at that. “Perhaps your sisters can do the dishes, and we can go right after we finish eating?”
During the meal, as her husband engaged her sister and brother-in-law with conversation about their new business, and her brother Peter fawned over his new bride, Talia watched Derek as he ate silently, ignoring the chatter around him. Only when Michael, the youngest of her children, spoke up to ask him about a cartoon show they watch on Saturday mornings did Derek join any conversation. Talia glanced around the table, watching young Cora giggle with her cousin Adam, and half-listening as Laura interrupted her father’s conversation to ask about college applications.
Derek and Laura used to be so close. They were almost best friends. Until the last few years, they were almost inseparable. Then they pulled apart, and Talia didn’t know why. Laura only said that she needed more female influences in her life, and a teen boy didn’t fill the voids. Derek didn’t say anything at all. His life became filled with classes, volunteer work, and the basketball team.
Until he met Paige at the beginning of the school year.
Talia still didn’t know the whole story about what happened there; she only knew that Derek had to make a horrible choice, and he seemed to not recover from it.
Talia had so much going on at the time herself, so she didn’t notice until it was almost too late to help her son.
Lately, within the last couple of week, Derek seemed to be coming around. He was smiling more, laughing easier. If he had secrets, and Talia was certain that he did, she was willing to forgive them if he was happy again.
And now, a mysterious new errand kept him out late after volunteer work. And he was willing to ask for her help.
Talia was glad to help her son. Rather as a mother or as an Alpha was yet to be seen.
Perhaps it was both.
Once the office door was shut and locked, the sound-proofing went into effect. Derek knew that even if they were listening at the door, nobody outside of this room would hear what was being said inside. Derek watched his mother take a seat on the comfortable settee in front of her desk, instead of her imposing desk chair behind it. This meant that she was willing to listen as his mother, not as his Alpha. Derek sat on the low coffee table in front of her and clasped his hands together.
“Mom, something amazing happened today. And I don’t mean ‘amazing’ good, like I found a bag of money. I mean, I’m amazed. And I believe that it’s real. But I need to prep you for it by asking you to believe that magic is real and sometimes Sci-Fi really happens.”
“Okay, let’s say that I am willing to believe this. What is this amazing thing that happened?”
“I met a boy from the future.”
“At the hospital?”
“Yes, but he wasn’t in the psyche ward, Mom. I met him in the cafeteria. I didn’t know he was from the future when I met him. But he knew my name.”
“Derek, you’re a popular boy, and you’re on the basketball team. I reckon a lot of people know your name.”
Derek fixed his soulful gaze on his mother. “How many people know I’m a werewolf?”
Talia gasped. “He said this?”
“Yeah,” Derek nodded. “And he told me that he was from six years in the future.”
“And did he tell you how he came to travel through time?”
Derek listened carefully. His mother’s heartbeat was steady. She wasn’t angry or frightened. He wanted to believe that she believed him.
“He told me that six months ago—his time—a magical Druid-type told him that he had a ‘spark’. And recently he had a very high fever. He said that he figured the fever plus his spark put him back here.”
“Did he mention who this Druid-type was?”
“No, but he told me there were people that he didn’t want to be around. Peter was one of those people, but Dr. Deaton was another.”
“And he mentioned Deaton by name?”
“Yes. Mom? He told me that he mostly figured that this was all his fever-dream, and that nothing he does here will matter, but he wants to try to change the past so that his present will be better. Mom….he told me that my family is going to die. Next month. And his heartbeat did not change.”
Talia bristled. “He threatened my family?”
“No! He told me he wanted to prevent that. He said that stopping the fire would make things better for him. He said he knew things…a lot of things…and that he had to tell two people, in order to change things. And you were one of those people.”
“Who is the other?”
“The Sheriff. But he wants to talk to you first.”
“And you believe him? You could not sense a lie?”
“He knows things. He said I told him things in the future, that I needed to vent and he was delirious with fever so I could tell him and he might not hear.”
“What could you have told him, Derek?”
“I don’t know. But he asked me to keep him away from Peter. He told me he didn’t trust the city vet. He must know something….something important. Please, Mom. Talk to him. Listen to him. Even if it solves nothing, maybe he can help?”
“Isn’t he afraid of a time paradox?”
“I asked him that. He said that he figured this is all just a dream, so it won’t matter. Please, Mom?”
“Alright. I take it he’s close by?”
“And he’s probably hungry. Can we take him some leftovers?”
“Of course. Let me change into more sensible shoes, and you can pack some food. Then we’ll go…where are we going?”
“My tree house. It’s far enough away that nobody will sense him, but close enough that I could get you to him in an emergency.”
Talia stood and reached out to ruffle Derek’s hair. “You are very smart, my bright boy!”
Stiles heard them coming through the woods, so he figured they were making more noise as a concession to him. Derek never had any trouble sneaking up on Stiles normally. Hell, Peter never had any trouble sneaking up on Stiles. In fact, Stiles was of the opinion of every werewolf that he knew, that they got great pleasure from sneaking up on the defenseless humans around them.
Still, Stiles moved the bean bags away from the door, and was immediately beset with the cold breeze coming through the woods. He shivered and tugged another quilt around his body as he moved further into the tree house to wait for his visitors.
“John? I’ve got my mother with me, and I brought you some warm food and more water.”
“Okay, Derek. Come on in; the wind is getting through the door.”
Derek’s solid form came in first, followed by a taller, more slender person. Both were carrying paper bags and camp lights, though the lights were turned off. Once both people were inside the structure, Derek placed his camp light on the milk crate and turned it on. The sudden illumination was a shock to Stiles, who blinked furiously. Once his vision cleared, he got his first look at Derek’s mother, Alpha Hale.
She was slender, but strongly built. Stiles figured that werewolves were just naturally fit. She had long brown hair and sharp, dark eyes. She had a kind but shrewd face. Stiles could see a family resemblance in the Derek he could remember, but Derek obviously got his coloring from his father. Other than the dark hair, his features were nothing like hers.
And she was watching him.
Derek handed him one container of food, some sort of roast meat and carrots, and a bottle of water.
“I’m, uh, gonna go now. I’m not even going to pretend to listen, so if you need me you’ll have to yell really loud, okay?”
Stiles chuckled. “I’m not afraid of your mother, Derek. I would never have asked to speak to her if I thought she was scary. I mean, I know she’s ‘scary’, but I’m sure she has to be because of the Alpha thing. But I don’t think she’ll hurt me. I’m not the one who has to worry, here, okay?”
Derek frowned, and turned to the door so he could exit. “Okay. Thanks again, Mom.”
Talia smiled gently at her son. “Everything will be fine, Derek. Go on, now.”
After Derek left, Stiles began to eat with gusto. Who knew fevers could make you so hungry? At least Alpha Hale waited until he swallowed before she began her interrogation. Of course, eating while being watched was un-nerving.
“You look familiar somehow. But Derek says I have never met you?”
“Um, well, you may have met me, but I have never met you.”
Talia raised her eyebrow at him, and he grinned. “Derek does that, too, when I talk in circles around him.”
“And are you going to talk in circles around me? That would not be good for you, you know.”
“Oh, I know that. And, no, I do not plan on talking you in circles. But I haven’t had a full meal in a long time, because the flu made it hard to keep food down. So, if I may, can I eat a bit more while you think of some really invasive questions for me?”
Talia nodded abruptly. “Alright, ‘John’. We’ll do that. You have five minutes.”
Stiles thanked her, and then began eating in earnest, savoring every bite. Who ever made this was a good cook. Stiles did okay in the kitchen, but his father was not so good. Stiles’ mother was the cook in the family. When she dies, Stiles did his best to make sure healthy meals were served, but there was only so much a kid could do.
After he finished his last bite, and swallowed half a bottle of water, Talia began to speak.
“Derek says you’re from the future?”
Stiles smirked. “Okay, Alpha Hale. How about this: I’ll tell you my story, and a few extra things, and then you can ask questions. That way, you can judge for yourself if I’m off my rocker. Does that sound acceptable?”
“It sounds intriguing. Wouldn’t you rather be in a more comfortable room? Up at the house, perhaps? Or at your own home?”
“I won’t be comfortable around much of your family, for reasons I’m about to reveal, and my own family is lost to me at the moment. So while that is a wonderful suggestion, I’ll have to pass.”
“Very well, then. You may begin.”
And Stiles told Alpha Talia Hale about being in the hospital, suffering a dangerously high fever, while Derek sat beside him to keep him company. And Stiles told her about how he woke up to a strange doctor in an empty room telling a deputy about a ‘John Doe’ that mysteriously appeared.
“I had my suspicions, but then I saw the newspaper in the cafeteria—and I saw Derek—and I just knew I wasn’t ‘when’ I started from. The funny thing was, I remembered everything that Derek, my Derek, told me as ‘storied’ while I was out of it. And I knew that I could use that information to make people believe me. But I had to choose the right people to talk to, and I had to decide to make a big difference. Or not. This whole thing might blow up on me, but I’m so tired of the unhappy around me. I think that my people deserve to be happy, after all this time.”
“And you think you can change your past here, with me, and then your future will be better?”
Stiles shrugged. “I think better is subjective. In early January of 2011, I got stupid and decided to lead my best friend into the woods to look for a body. Because what teen-aged boy doesn’t want to see a body, right? And while we were in the woods, we got separated and he was bitten by a rogue Alpha werewolf. And he turned, but he was in long denial about the whole deal. That was the start of the stupid, and I think—rather, I hope, that I can change a few small things here and now, that will prevent that stuff from happening in 2011.”
“So you know who this rogue Alpha is?”
Stiles nodded and swallowed a bit more water. “Yes, but that’s not what I need to talk to you about right now.”
Talia settled deeper into the bean bag. Stiles could tell that she was struggling with believing him, or deciding to call Eichen House to come and get him.
“Very well, what do you need to talk to me about right this minute?”
“I want to tell you a story you already know most of. And then maybe you and I can go to the Sheriff and tell him another part of the story, and then maybe I’ll have changed everything.”
“Alright, John, tell me your story.”
Stiles leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees. “Okay, long ago, in the land of Beacon Hills, there was a family of werewolves. The Alpha, the leader of the family, was strong and just, and much loved by her family. And she had four children: Laura, Derek, Cora, and Michael. Three were wolves, and the youngest was human. The oldest two, Laura and Derek were separated in age by only three years, and they were closer to one another than the rest of the family. They played together, and read together, and learned together. They told each other their dreams for the future, and they kept no secrets from each other.”
Talia smiled. “I do like this story, John.”
“You won’t like it for long. The Alpha also had three younger siblings, who were Betas to her, and were subordinate: Frederick, who moved to Arizona as part of a treaty, Regan, who was human, and Peter, who was only six years older than the Alpha’s oldest child so he was much like the Alpha’s child as well. The Alpha watched her brother and her children grow and flourish, and soon time came for her to choose a successor. Peter was far too mischievous to be taken seriously, and he had no interest in leading a pack, so the Alpha over-looked him gently by saying that he would make a wonderful Second to her successor. Fortunately, for everyone involved, Peter agreed. Unfortunately for everyone, Peter was under the impression that the Alpha would choose her bright and hopeful son to be the successor.
“But the Alpha chose her oldest daughter. By all accounts, Laura was bright, and fair, and sensible. But the Alpha did not know that Laura also held a cruel streak. She saw herself as entitled. She told her wolfy friends from other packs that the only sensible thing her mother could do was choose her for Alpha training, because the Alpha knew her other children were weak of spirit and would ruin the pack.”
Talia frowned, and started to object to the story, but Stiles powered on.
“Derek didn’t much care, because he never saw a time when his mother wouldn’t be alive to lead his pack. He threw himself into his studies, and his sports, and he forgot for a long while that his sister—who used to be his best friend—was taunting him whenever they were alone. And then one day, Derek happened to meet a new girl at school. Her name was Paige, and she was a shy musical prodigy who wanted nothing to do with JockDerek. But Derek persisted, and he won her heart.
“And then Peter entered the picture. Peter was crafty, and was able to watch where the Alpha could not. And Peter saw the torment that Laura would place on Derek when she thought they were alone. Peter took to stalking Derek at school, supposedly to offer support, but really to gain intel about Derek’s life away from home. Peter saw how Derek was happy when he was with Paige, and something deep within Peter snapped. Peter’s own mating attempts were not successful. He had been promised to a Beta from a neighboring pack, but she refused him in favor of a human male. Since Paige was human, Peter was convinced that she would eventually reject Derek and leave him heartbroken.”
Talia became much more alert as the tale continued. This boy, from the supposed future, was now mentioning things that Talia made sure nobody knew about.
“As it happens, there were other Alphas in the area, the leader of which was hoping to enlist the Hale Alpha in beginning a treaty. Peter told Derek to approach one of these Alphas, to ask for him to give the bite to Paige so that Derek could have his love. Derek refused. But Peter approached the Alpha anyway, and he pounced upon Paige and bit her. And her body rejected the bite. When Derek found her, she was dying. In her final breaths, she confessed that she already knew that Derek was a werewolf, and that she hadn’t cared. She loved him anyway. But she was dying and in pain, and she asked Derek to end it for her. So he did. Derek severed the spine of the girl he loved, and his eyes changed forever.”
Talia cleared her throat. “Your Derek told you this?”
“Yeah. He told me that, and much more. He told me that you never told anyone what really happened to Paige. I mean, I figure Peter knew, because he’s like that sometimes. That and the fact that he sort of caused the whole mess. Anyway, Peter’s another problem that I need to talk to you about. But somehow Laura found out that Derek had a girlfriend, and that she died. She got it into her head that Paige committed suicide, and she began taunting Derek pretty hard about it. She’d say that it was Derek’s fault, and that if Derek weren’t so weak, Paige would still be alive. Oh, and my favorite: When Laura is Alpha, she’s going to run Derek out of the pack, because no strong Alpha would have him and that the only reason you haven’t run him off is because you’re his mother and you feel sorry for him.”
Talia’s eyes began to glow red with fury. For the first time since she came into the tree house, Stiles was nervous.
“She would threaten my bright boy? This is who I have chosen to become Alpha? Oh, Hell No!”
Stiles thrust out his hands in supplication. “Wait! Alpha Hale! Please, there are bigger problems than your daughter being an asshole! I need to tell you about someone from my time, now.”
“Very well. I apologize. Please continue.”
“Thanks? Okay, do you know David Whittemore? I think he’s with the county prosecutor’s office?”
“Yes, I do know him. We don’t run in the same circles, but lawyers do associate with one another from time to time for business.”
“Yeah, okay, well he and his wife have a son my age. His name is Jackson, and when we were younger we were friends. But when we were thirteen years old—so around three years from now—Jackson discovered he was adopted. This is usually no big deal, but he found out by accident, not because his parents told him. And since he only found out that he was adopted, but now how or why, it messed him up. Somehow he decided that his parents think he’s not good enough because he’s not their real child, or some such nonsense. Normally I wouldn’t care, but it sort of became an issue about six months ago. Jackson got bit by an Alpha. Yes I know who it was. No, it wasn’t the same Alpha that bit Scott. No, I’m not telling you who. But it turns out that when a person has major personal conflict, and they are infected supernaturally…”
“This child became a Kanima?” Talia was horrified. “An innocent child was used as a vessel for revenge?”
“Yeah, well innocent is subjective, too. But yes, he was used to kill. That’s one of the things I hope to change. When we were trying to find out who the Kanima might be, I learned about Jackson Whittemore’s adoption, including who his birth parents were and how he came to be placed with the Whittemores. And then, along a different line, a friend of mine had some sort of physic vision about Peter having a child. This is where I need to involve you.”
“I don’t understand? How can I help with a future Kanima? And what does Peter’s unborn child have to do with anything?”
“Well, it’s because Jackson Whittemore’s birth mother was Margaret Miller. Does that name mean anything to you?”
Again, Alpha Hale’s eyes went ember-red and glowing. “I know that name, though I have not heard it in many years.”
“Can you tell me?”
“I can. Ten years ago, Margaret and Gordon Miller lived on the edge of town near here. They were newly married. She was older than he was, I remember that, and she was a substitute teacher at the High School. She was heard to talk around town about starting a family. Gordon owned one of the body shops in town, and she had inherited some money, so she was almost desperate for a child. But Gordon had some sort of physical problem.”
“She told you this?”
Red eyes flashed. “She told me after I ordered her away from town and told her never to return. She targeted Peter, and seduced and raped him when he was fourteen. I told her to leave, and I used my Alpha prerogative and removed the memories from Peter so that he wouldn’t have to suffer from that stigma. Unfortunately, word did get around, and that was why his first betrothed refused to accept the bond.”
Stiles nodded. “Okay, I can see wanting to protect your brother. But the Millers were in a fatal car accident outside of San Francisco. Gordon was killed instantly, and doctors were able to keep Margaret alive for twenty-four hours—long enough to deliver a baby by caesarian. That baby was Jackson Whittemore. David Whittemore’s wife was in the hospital that night, visiting a relative, and she sat with the baby in the NICU unit until Mr. Whittemore could submit papers for adoption.”
“Oh, my god!” Talia paled dramatically. “Peter has a child!”
“Yeah, and I’ll let you decide if you want to allow that child to have good closure and a relationship with your family. I’m more interested in your reaction to an older woman preying on teen boys.”
“If I could have ripped out her throat, I would have.”
“Fair enough,” Stiles agreed. “Because it’s happening again. Right now.”
“Derek? You’re talking about Derek?”
Stiles grabbed and opened another water bottle, and drained it in a few gulps.
“After Paige, Derek was completely devastated. Laura was making his life hell away from school, Peter was newly involved with what’s her name?”
“Yeah, her. And Derek was open for sympathy. I’m willing to bet that there’s another new teacher at the High School. Because this woman, who is seducing Derek, is dangerous in many ways. Her real name is Kate Argent, and in January 2005, she’ll use information gathered from Derek to trap your entire family in your house on the night of the Wolf Moon, and with the help of handy henchmen, she’ll set the house on fire. Derek, Laura and Peter will be the only survivors.”
“I will kill her first!” Before his very eyes, Talia Hale began to Wolf-out. Her fingernails turned to vicious claws, her teeth grew and sharpened, and her eyes burned furiously red.
Stiles just sat back and watched the show. The whole transformation was fascinating. Stiles always thought so. Sideburns grew where no hair was before. Eyebrows totally disappeared. Really, Stiles could watch this all day.
Perhaps realizing that not only was the cause of her anger in close proximity, but also that the boy in front of her was not afraid of her, Talia calmed and transformed back into human form.
“So,” Stiles began. “I take it you know the Argent name?”
“Oh, yes. Is this act of war the cause of your troubles in your own time?”
“Well, sort of. I mean, the fire was ruled accidental, because Kate paid off the arson inspector. Laura took Derek and ran off to New York because she was afraid to go against hunters. Peter was in a coma, and took the better part of six years to recover from his injuries. He was hurt trying to get back into the house to save everyone. Derek and Laura were at a school athletic assembly. Personally, I think Kate timed it so that Derek would survive and be tortured knowing he was the cause of the deaths of his family.”
“So, you want to change this one thing, and change your future.”
Stiles shrugged. “Thought I’d give it a try. But I don’t want you to kill Kate Argent. I want to go to the Sheriff. I want to get Derek to agree to set a trap for her, and I want her arrested for a crime that you can prove without a shadow of a doubt: pedophilia and corruption of a minor. If the Sheriff can catch her in the act of physically accosting Derek, then she’s gotta pay for that crime. In my time, Derek admitted that he was never completely physical with her until just before Christmas.”
Talia smiled. “I have time to save him from that indignity at least. Now I have to work on Laura.”
“And Peter. Don’t forget Peter. I think you’re going to have to talk to David Whittemore about his son. Maybe not right away, but he has a right to know his family. But, Alpha Hale, I need you to tell the Sheriff the truth about werewolves. He needs to know, because he’s going to need to know about hunters.”
“And why is telling the Sheriff so important to you?”
“Because he’s my dad.”
Chapter Four: Every Ghost That Calls Upon Us
Chapter Title from the song “Ghosts” by Dan Fogleberg. It’s on the album “The Innocent Age” Check it out, it’s pretty cool!
Alpha Hale reluctantly left Stiles alone in the tree house for the night. He cuddled with a thick pile of quilts on the old futon, listening to the sounds of the woods in the night.
This was it. Finally.
Stiles was sure that Alpha Hale believed him. She listened carefully to his heartbeat while he talked. Stiles knew, by watching her eyes, that he had hit upon things that no one else knew. Derek, in his need to expel his own demons, had been very thorough in his tales of the past. Stiles knew Derek held things in; kept his feeling close to his chest, so to speak. But until Stiles was lying helpless in a hospital bed, burning from the inside out, he never knew how tortured Derek was.
Everyone had issues. That was part of life. But Derek took his issues to a new extreme.
Stiles could appreciate that Derek blamed himself for the Hale fire. Stiles did not agree, but he could see Derek’s point: Derek gave over the information that led to the entrapment and murder of his entire family. It didn’t matter to Derek that he was seduced and confused. It didn’t matter that Kate Argent was a skilled manipulator. All that mattered was that Derek survived, and the others did not.
But now, with all the new information that Derek had unwittingly given him in the hospital, Stiles saw more than one angle on the whole issue.
Derek had been weakened, emotionally, by several members of his own family. Peter may have not meant to be the cause of emotional pain for Derek, but Laura had no such out. She was pure malice when it came to emotionally torturing her younger brother.
Stiles shuddered when he thought of how it must have been after the fire; Peter was comatose and in a hospital long-term care ward, and Derek was stunned and alone with a new Alpha—an Alpha who took great pleasure in telling Derek that she was going to run him out of the pack as soon as she got the power to do so.
Stiles didn’t know what happened once they were alone in the world. He assumed that Derek would have eventually told him that story, if he had stuck around in his own timeline. But, from the information that Stiles did have, he didn’t think that story would have been a nice one. Derek told Scott that his family used to be his anchor, but that now anger was. Anger at himself, Stiles had no doubt.
And possibly anger at Laura, whom Derek had to bury by himself on the property he used to love.
Sleep would come to Stiles, but it would be a long time coming.
Back in the house, Talia Hale, mother and Alpha, was having trouble acting as if her world had not been turned upside down.
There was a boy in the far reaches of her back yard, who not only claimed to be from the future, but who knew things that only Talia had knowledge of.
He said that he got the information from her son, Derek, in the future, and he said that he was the Sheriff’s son.
And his heartbeat said that he was not lying.
She had thought, when she first laid eyes on the boy, that he looked familiar. She knew she had never met this teenager, but she had met the Sheriff’s son.
A week ago, at the hospital, she was bringing flowers to patient rooms, and Claudia Stilinski was on her list. She was to be given a beautiful flowering cactus, sent by the local Methodist Church (despite the fact that Claudia was a staunch Polish Catholic), and the Sheriff was visiting along with a young boy. He looked very young, small for his age, and he had permanent worry marks on his young face. The Sheriff smiled at her and introduced they boy as ‘Stiles’—a nickname given by his mother.
The teenager in her son’s tree house looked like he could be an older version of that boy.
And he told her he wanted to talk to the Sheriff.
Talia knew, if this mystery boy was to be believed, that the Sheriff would be the best person to deal with the family secret—and he would be the best person to deal with the Hunter that was preying on her son—but he may be reluctant to believe any of it.
Tomorrow was Saturday, and Derek was usually scheduled to spend most of the day with his volunteer work. Derek liked reading to the children in the pediatric ward, and he was learning to knit with one of the elderly surgery patients. Derek swore her to secrecy about these things, and she smiled and promised not to tell. Knowing now how Laura had been treating him, Talia understood the need for the secrets. Since Laura always complained about the smell of the hospital, she would never see Derek flourishing during his hours spent there.
The thoughts of her daughter made her blood boil.
A potential Alpha was compassionate, just, fair-minded, and clear-headed.
Talia had thought that Laura fit all those requirements.
But Laura was also apparently egotistical, self-entitled, and arrogant.
Talia was reminded of the Alpha Deucalion, who had been in Beacon Hills at the end of the summer. The man was leading a small group of other Alphas, and he was hoping to recruit her into his group. He said he was seeking a treaty with a Hunter leader—that perhaps the Wolves and the Hunters could live peacefully together.
And he was severely injured and handicapped by that Hunter: Gerard Argent.
Again—Argent. The name was going to bring danger and despair into her territory.
Talia had lost track of Deucalion and his little band of Alphas, but her own Hunter contact, Nona Vera Anita Calaveras, had told her that Argent was insane and could not be trusted; that he was psychotic and could never be reasoned with.
Talia had been peacefully treated with the Calaveras Clan since she became Alpha in her early twenties. Her own Alpha, Grandfather Hale, had been in treaty with the Calaveras Clan as well. Her own brother, Frederick, had moved to become part of a pack in Arizona, near the Calaveras base. They were an honorable Hunter family who followed a strict code of only hunting dangerous Omegas or rogues.
Hell, Peter’s new wife, Amanda, was the human daughter of one of the Arizona wolf-clans, and the Calaveras clan agreed to the match with much happiness and congratulations.
Since the Argents rarely travelled into the Southern regions, Talia had thought her territory safe from their influence. She would have to call Nona Vera Anita in the morning, to let her know what was going on. Hunters were as territorial as Wolves.
But….back to the issue of what to do with Derek and the boy in the tree house.
“Derek! Could you come to my office, please?”
“Yes, Mom. Let me put my homework away.”
Talia listened, really listened, to her son as he put his schoolwork in order.
“She’s probably going to give you hell for being late today. You’re so lucky she pities you enough to keep you here.”
“Shut up, Laura. You don’t know what’s going on.”
“You shouldn’t keep secrets from me, Derek. I’ll be your Alpha soon. You’ll need to appease me if you want to stick around.”
“I have more important things to do right now than ‘appease’ you. You’re not Alpha yet.”
Talia burned. Really burned! Was this what was going on in her own house? It was clear that Laura thought Talia was already within the soundproof walls of her office, or she would never have spoken like that when she could be overheard. This was going to have to be addressed, and soon.
Footsteps on the stairs in the hall forced her to school her features and calm her heartbeat.
“Come in Derek, and please close the door.”
“Is this about John?”
“Yes, it’s about John.”
“You know that’s not his real name, right?”
Talia smiled. “I do know that. When unknown people are found in emergency situations, ‘John Doe’, or ‘Jane Doe’ if it’s a woman, is a moniker given for identification. It’s to make these people feel like people instead of things. But he did give me a clue as to what his real name is.”
“I don’t need to know, if you don’t want to tell me.”
“I’ll be telling you later, when we move deeper into his plan. Right now, I have a plan for you. Tomorrow, instead of going for your volunteer work, I want you to prepare a large picnic basket full of non-perishable foods, and a bag of clothing. We’re going to move our visitor out of the tree house. He can’t be comfortable out there, and I don’t want him to get sick again. I also do not want to risk anyone finding him and causing trouble.”
“Where will you take him?”
“Well, we can’t take him to a hotel in town. I can see that he looks familiar, so someone else might recognize him as well. But I don’t want to take him too far out of town. What do you think?”
Derek walked over to Talia’s ‘map wall’, where she had framed maps of the preserve, the town, the county and the larger state area—all of her pack territory.
“How about the cabins on the lake? They have heat and good furniture and kitchens. Nobody really uses them this time of year, except for those off-season tourists.”
Talia moved to stand beside him. “They’re off the main roads, but there is a ranger station nearby. He won’t be easily seen, but he will be comfortable. That’s a good idea, Derek. After we get him settled, we can go shopping for cold food items, like milk and juice. We don’t know how long he’ll be here, but I want him to be comfortable while he is. I’ll make the call tomorrow to reserve a cabin.”
She turned and walked to her comfy settee. “Come sit with me, Derek. I have a very serious conversation I need to have with you. I wouldn’t do this tonight, but I can’t let it sit.”
Derek sat beside her. “This is about something John told you.”
“It is. Answer me truthfully. Is Laura bullying you?”
Derek lowered his gaze and folded his arms across his belly.
Talia Frowned. “I see. And how long has this been going on?”
Derek hunched into himself and shrugged. “She got real proud when she turned sixteen, and you told her you were going to train her to be Alpha.”
“Proud? Proud how?”
“She started reading the old Wolf History books in the library, and she said that Alphas were royalty. And when she became Alpha, she would make sure to bring back the power of the Royal Alpha, and we would all have to bow to her, and submit to her will. I tried to brush it off, but she started quoting from the Book of High Wolves. I looked it up myself, to check.”
“Derek, you know that history is one thing, but people do evolve, right?”
“Mom, history is my best subject. I know all about how the human royal families are now figureheads, and there are no true kings anymore. But werewolves are different. I know this. I’ve seen Omegas come through here, looking to become Pack because they were run out of their own packs. I’ve seen Dad helping you care for battle wounds after you had to defend your territory.”
“So, Laura talks like she wants to bring back the Old Ways? Anything else?”
“She thinks Paige killed herself because she didn’t want to be with a werewolf. She’s been telling me that Paige would still be alive if I wasn’t so weak. She harps on me all the time, but I can take it. I plan on going far away for college, and that’s only three years away. And you’re going to be Alpha for a long, long time, anyway.”
Talia shook her head and patted his arm. “Derek, a good Alpha comforts and cares for Pack. They do not bully. Not even siblings. Goodness knows, I let Peter be a royal pain most of the time, but I do correct him when he gets out of hand. But I do not bully, and neither should Laura. I know you’re mourning Paige. I mourn with you. And Peter feels horrible. That’s one of the reasons he very happily accepted Amanda’s marriage offer. She may have had a crush on him, but her faith in his ‘humanity’ is what swayed him. He doesn’t know how Paige died, but he’s very sorry that she did.”
“I know. He told me. He said he regrets ever going to Ennis while I was still thinking about it.”
Derek looked at Talia through lonely eyes. “I wouldn’t have gone through with it, you know? I liked that Paige was human. Her feelings were so strong and real, and I’ve never met a wolf like that.”
Talia hugged her son closely. “I know Derek. Had you come to me, I would have refused to give her the bite for that very reason. I think, when the time comes, you will find a good human to take as a mate, and you’ll be the happiest of us all.”
With a final hug, Talia pulled back and lifted Derek’s face to hers. “But Derek, Stiles told me something else. Something about a fire. And he told me who caused it—or rather, who will cause it. And this is someone that you know very well.”
Derek frowned. “I know the person who will set the house on fire? Mother, I would never allow that! I promise!”
“I know Derek. I know you won’t mean to. But you’re still hurting from Paige, and from Laura’s bullying, and I think you may be open to any sort of good attention.” Derek shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “And Derek, some people will give positive attention in order to do bad things to people.”
“Mom, what did John tell you?”
“He told me that, six years prior to his becoming ill, a very young boy was tricked and seduced by a much older woman. And he fancied himself in love with her. And he told her things, and he sneaked her into his home, and he let her get away with much in the name of love. And this much older woman was not who she claimed to be, and she used this stolen knowledge to trap and kill an innocent family.”
Derek shook his head and stood, pacing across the room. “I never had sex, Mom. I promise. And I never told her anything. She’s just a teacher, and she’s helping with my French. It’s my worst subject, and she’s just helping.”
Talia walked to him and drew him into a hug. “Has she ever encouraged you to meet her outside of school? Has she called you beautiful? Has she tried to kiss you?”
Derek shook his head quickly. “She said I was too pretty for words, but I have no idea what that meant. I thought it was a French thing. She did ask me out to lunch once, but I had practice.
Talia nodded. “This is a good thing, Derek. It means she’s taking things slowly. John told me who she really is, Derek. She’s from a hunter family. A family that does not normally come to this part of the country. So, I have to wonder what that family is trying to do here. But I will not allow them to hurt you. John wants to go to the Sheriff with this story, and he wants her arrested for inappropriate actions with a minor. I could order you to do this. As Alpha it is my right to do so to protect my Pack. But instead, I’m asking. Because I want you to heal. Derek, I’m asking you to help get this hunter arrested on something that we can prove in a human court, and then I want you to agree to see a therapist. You are my bright boy, and I hate to see your light dimmed with grief. Help me, and let me help you.”
Derek nodded. “You won’t tell Laura about this will you? If she knows I’m in therapy, I’ll never hear the end of it.”
“Let’s just concentrate on changing John’s future, and I’ll worry about Laura, okay?”
“So, in six years these cabins are out of use in the off season. This is pretty cool.”
Talia smiled. “I’m glad you like it. I wanted you to be safe and comfortable for as long as you’re hear. Since we don’t know how long that will be, the tree house was out of the question.”
“I’m just glad that you’re taking me seriously. Because, you know, I sound like a nutcase.”
“Your heartbeat tells me that you’re being truthful. Your voice tells me as well. You sound full of grief and exhaustion. I can’t do anything other than believe you.”
Talia looked out the window, to where Derek was lifting groceries out of the car trunk. “Derek confirmed what you said about the French teacher. Oh, god, that is so cliché! A French teacher of all things, coming on to a schoolboy.”
Stiles grinned. “I know, right? She couldn’t have been more original? Although, I guess that’s all she had to go with unless she wanted to become a candy-striper or basketball coach. Derek lives for working at the hospital and playing basketball. There’s really no other way she could get to him.”
Talia turned to him. “I know. I also heard, for the first time, how Laura talks to him when she thinks she won’t be overheard. Derek confirmed the bullying. I have so much to fix in my family, and I wouldn’t have known about it if you hadn’t told me.”
Stiles sat at the small kitchenette table. “Well, there’s a lot I don’t know. And if I hadn’t travelled back in time, then you’d all be dead and unable to fix the issues anyway. So, let’s not thank me, okay? I just know that you should be alive, Gerard Argent is psycho, and Derek deserves to be happy.”
Talia smiled and sat beside him as Derek came into the cabin. “Very well, John. No thanks will be given. But, before I call the Sheriff and reveal my furry secret, I do have a very serious question for you.”
“Okay. I’ll try to answer it.”
“What can you tell me about Deucalion? I know he was injured her this summer, but I haven’t heard from him since.”
Stiles nodded. “I do know this, first hand even. But maybe Derek shouldn’t hear this?”
Derek paused from putting away groceries. “I can handle it, John. I’m going to help with the Kate issue. If you can deal with it, then so can I.”
Stiles looked at Talia, and she nodded assent. “Okay. So Deucalion is/was blind. Blinded by Gerard Argent the summer of 2004, in fact. He came here, looking to make a treaty, and was ambushed. The fucked up thing—pardon—was that Argent killed his own men, to make it look like a werewolf attack, and then blinded Deucalion to make some sort of example. Deucalion went to Deaton for treatment, taking one of his own Betas, and Deaton couldn’t help. But Deuc’s Beta tried to take the Alpha power from him, because blind, and Deuc ended up killing the Beta instead. And he absorbed the guy’s power and strength.
“So Deucalion told these other Alphas—um, Kali Steele, Ennis, maybe one other at the time—that if they kill their packs, they can become stronger. And they bought into it. They all killed their entire packs, emissaries and all, and became stronger. And they became total psychopaths as well.”
Stiles accepted a bottle of water from Derek. “They came to Beacon Hills, this Alpha Pack, and they said they were going to get some sort of revenge on the Beacon Hills Pack by forcing the Alpha to kill all the Betas. They were followed by a nutso ex-Druid, who wanted revenge against the Alpha Pack. We all got caught in the middle of the whole thing. Betas were killed. My father was kidnapped. I died to save him, but I got better. Then I got sick and ended up here. But Deucalion is crazy. Crazier than even Gerard Argent, I bet. And he has a jones for you because you refused to help him in 2004—um, I mean, this summer.”
Talia grimaced. “I see. Dr. Deaton, of course, told me none of this.”
Stiles snorted. “Yeah, well, I’ve discovered that Deaton is cryptic all the time, and he only gives information if his back is against the wall. I learned a while ago—uh, in my time—that Deaton knew about Kate Argent, and he withheld that information from you as well. I mean, if he had told you, I’d like to think that the fire would never have happened and I wouldn’t have met you for the first time in your son’s tree house.”
Talia smirked slightly. “Actually, you met me for the first time a week ago, in the hospital hallway outside of your mother’s room. I was delivering flowers, and the Sheriff introduced us. That’s partially how I knew you were being truthful: You look like an older version of the boy I met.”
Derek started. “You mean I could have met you in the hospital, and never knew it?”
“No dear. You spend all of your time in short term care or pediatrics. John’s mother is in long-term care.” Talia sighed. “But now I’ll have to do something about Dr. Deaton and his habit of keeping important things from me.”
Stiles snorted. “Yeah, good luck with that. His weird sister, who becomes a counselor at the High School, is serving as emissary for the Alpha Pack in my time. She says her job is to keep the balance, so as long as enough evil things happen to balance the good things, all is well in the emissary world.”
Talia shook her head, dazed by the non-logic. “That’s not how emissaries work, John. They are the human face of the Pack, and they help us interact healthily with the community around us. There is no ‘keeping the balance’. It’s all about symbiotic relationships. They’re not quite ambassadors, but it’s a close thing. So keeping secrets from an Alpha about something that impacts the Pack is very definitely not okay.”
Talia entered the Sheriff’s department headquarters and approached the front desk.
“Hello, is the Sheriff available?”
“Just one moment, ma’am. ‘Sheriff…you have a visitor in front. Thank you.’ He’ll be right out, ma’am.”
Talia wandered over to the window at the entrance of the building. The view was of the mountains, but the road in from town was desolate. Talia could understand the distance from the town—after all, this was a county office. But still, they were so far from everything. The schools, the hospital, even the fire department.
“Hello? You wanted to see me?”
Talia turned. “Hello Sheriff. I don’t know if you remember me? I’m Talia Hale.”
“You deliver flowers at the hospital. Is everything alright?”
Talia smiled reassuringly. “I’m sure everything is fine. I’m not here on any hospital business. I have a more pressing, private matter that needs your attention. I wonder if we could go somewhere private to talk? Away from here?”
The Sheriff frowned slightly. “Do you have a place in mind?”
“I do. It’s not far from here. This may take some time, however. Do you have time to spare?”
“Yeah. I’m doing nothing but paperwork here. Let me get my jacket and punch out.”
Talia smiled brightly. “I’ll meet you in the parking lot. You can follow me. I understand if you want to alert a deputy to follow you—or even to ride along, if you want. Deputy Reed, perhaps? He comes highly recommended as a person to be trusted.”
Sheriff John Stilinski smiled. “You must know about the suspicious nature of cops, Mrs. Hale.”
“I don’t want you to mistrust me. I have very serious business.”
Talia watched through her rearview mirror as the Sheriff and a deputy drove along behind her. She was leading him to the town library, where she had reserved one of the basement conference rooms. The library was a good, public place, and the rooms were soundproofed to allow for films to be shown to classes. John recommended it as a first meeting place, and Talia was once again impressed by the intelligence and cunning of the young man.
Once inside the building, the Sheriff looked in askance as Talia led the way to the staircase heading down. She showed the men into the room and closed the door, and the blinds, behind her. She had prepared the room ahead of their arrival, and the table in the middle of the room was covered with select books from her private library.
“Gentlemen, I apologize for bringing you out her under mysterious circumstances, but this is rather important. Before I start, I need to tell you a bit about the Hale family and our legacy in this part of the country. Consider this a unique history lesson; one that you cannot share beyond this room.”
The Sheriff frowned at the stack of books and papers on the table in front of him. “Is there going to be a quiz later?”
Talia huffed in surprise laughter. “Interestingly enough, there might be. The Hales were among the First People tribes on this continent before European settlers came along. We have a rich heritage here, and I keep guard over it very carefully. Once Northern California was settled, certain ‘tribes’ split the area into various territories, and this part of California—as well as parts of Oregon and Nevada—is my territory. The Hale legacy is not…quite…human. My grandfather was the leader before me, and his grandfather before him, and so on, far into the past. There were female leaders, and the successors were not always ‘eldest’ children. In fact, the leadership skipped my parents altogether. The name Hale is passed along with the leadership, and my husband took my name when we married so I could keep the legacy intact.” Talia gestured widely at the stacks on the table. “Go ahead, I can tell you want to look through the books. Some are in Spanish; some are in Wintu or Achomawi. You can let the pictures tell you the story that the words cannot.”
The Sheriff and Deputy each took a book, carefully opening them so as not to damage the pages. Talia watched as they examined, and traced over, and traded the ancient texts. She could see the exact moment when they both realized what they were reading. Their heartbeats quickened, but they outwardly appeared in control.
“I was told by a reliable source that I could trust you with my family secret. The Hales keep this part of California safe. The city prospers under our care. The ‘otherworldly’ dangers are kept at bay. For the most part.”
The Sheriff narrowed his eyes at her. “Are you trying to tell me that you’re….”
Talia smiled brightly. “Werewolves, gentlemen. I am. My husband, my brothers, most of my children. There are human family members, of course. We couldn’t function if there weren’t. But I’m Alpha, and this is my Pack Territory.”
And then, keeping in mind that both men seated in front of her were armed, Talia shifted into a half-wolf Beta form. She allowed her eyes to grow red, her claws to grow from her fingers, and her teeth to elongate into fangs.
Impressively, neither man reached for his gun. They did back away from the table, so she shifted back.
The Sheriff recovered first. “What can you possibly want from me? How can I help you?”
“First, let me thank you for not calling me a monster. When most humans find out, that is their first reaction.”
The Sheriff shook his head dismissively. “I know you from your law work and your work at the hospital, Ms. Hale. I know you aren’t a monster. But you can’t possibly need legal help?”
“Oh, but I do, Sheriff. For every werewolf pack out there, and there are not so many anymore—not like long ago—there is a danger. The danger comes from humans. The European settlers that brought so much evil to the First Peoples Tribes in the form of disease, also brought evil to the packs in the form of hunters. In Europe, wolves are hunted. They are seen as monsters, and abominations, and hunters seek to destroy.
“In this country, and in parts of Europe and South America, hunters follow a sort of code. It goes along the line of: we only kill a wolf that has killed. As with humans, there are bad werewolves. They’re born bad, or they are driven mad, or they just have no consciences, but they will kill—or rape, or steal, or try to turn humans against their will. And the hunters will, well, hunt them down and kill them. Most hunters follow this code. I have a treaty with a hunter clan that follows the code fiercely. But there is a family, that originated in France, that has members who do not follow the code. And one of those family members is here, and she has targeted my son.”
Talia grimaced in distaste, openly showing her revulsion at the thought of Hunters. “I could rip her throat out, and you would think it an animal attack and that would be that. Except the death would bring the rest of her family to our peaceful town, and I cannot risk that. Instead, a new ally, who does want to speak with the two of you as well, has convinced me that it would be better to tell you that my son is fifteen years old. And this woman is in her late twenties, is a new substitute teacher at the High School, and is attempting to seduce my son.”
The Sheriff’s face had changed emotion from shock, to fear, to awe, and was now broadcasting fury. The boy from the future was right—this Sheriff hated crimes against children.
“Is your son willing to give a statement?”
“My son is willing to allow you to catch her trying to seduce him. We can’t go light on this. My reliable source told me that this woman wants to use my son to get to my family, and that my family is in danger.”
Deputy Reed spoke for the first time. “I think we need to speak to your reliable source.”
Talia smiled. “I had hoped you would say that. Now, before I take you to him, there is more that I need you to believe.”
The Sheriff swallowed deeply. “I honestly don’t know how much more I can believe. I’m not saying I’m not willing to try. But this is hard. I know you’ve given proof of, Christ, werewolves.”
“I can give you proof of this as well. Well, at least, my friend can give you proof. What he did tell me was that you were all about logic, so you may not want to believe anything that is said. He told me that you have always said that Deputy Reed had a way of seeing things that you could not, and that he would help you to understand.”
The Sheriff inclined his head respectfully. “Okay. Then what do you want me to believe?”
Talia smiled. “Why, Sheriff, I want you to believe that magic exists. There has to be magic, after all, for werewolves to exist. How else could human and animal merge so perfectly? My friend is young, and in so much mental and emotional pain. And he’s seeking to right so many wrongs. But he doesn’t know if it will work. He told me that no matter how much you and he may want it; your wife can’t be cured. She has a natural medical issue, he called it Frontotemporal Dementia. And as much as he wishes that the bite could cure her, it just won’t work. It may have, ten years ago, but not now. So he doesn’t want you to think about that.
“He has come to us from sometime in the future, due to magical interference with a medical malady. He knows what this hunter-woman can do to my family, because it already happened in his time. And he knows that your wife is going to die, because he saw that happen in his time. And he needs you to believe him, but he’s willing to offer proof.”
The Sheriff turned to his right hand man and said shakily, “Deputy Reed, I think you’re going to have to drive. I don’t think I can manage.”
Stiles wanted Derek to continue on to his volunteer work at the hospital while Talia went to talk to the Sheriff, but Derek hadn’t wanted to leave him alone. So they played cards and talked about their favorite and least favorite subjects in school (“Is Harris an utter asshole to you? Because he absolutely hates me!”), and their favorite foods, and what they want to study in college.
“I figured I’d go into some kind of law enforcement, you know? I mean, I practically grew up watching police procedurals on TV with my mom, and my dad….well, let’s just say, it’s a natural progression.”
Derek smirked. “It’s okay if the Sheriff is your dad. I like history a lot. It’s my best subject now, but I don’t know what I want to do with it.”
“Could you teach? I mean, obviously you could….but could you see yourself teaching? Because when someone loves a subject a lot, sometimes the best thing they can do is pass along that love to other people.”
“I could teach, but I also want to study more than history. Maybe archeology? Or anthropology, maybe. Our library is full of books handed down for generations, and I used to love to go in there and just read. Some of the languages aren’t even in use anymore. Like Native American languages that are mostly pictures.”
“Like the Navajo Code Talkers? That’s so cool! You could study to preserve that kind of culture or something.”
Derek chuckled. “I could. I also like working with my hands. I work on the family cars with my dad. Which is odd, because he’s a chef, but he’s the family mechanic, too.”
Stiles nodded in agreement. “Well, you’re only fifteen. You have lots of time to figure it out. I guess I do, too. Maybe I’ll decide not to be a cop. I guess if we manage to change things, a lot of options will be open to me that weren’t before.”
While they talked, Stiles made a list. Two lists, actually:
“Things Stiles Knows”
“Things That Will Change”
They were mostly the same list, because Stiles had high hopes for the future. Derek kept trying to sneak peeks, but Stiles wouldn’t let him see the lists.
“Look, dude—if it all works out, do you really want to know what almost was? It won’t matter anymore!”
“Don’t call me ‘dude’!”
And for some reason, that made Stiles fall on the floor, laughing until tears rolled down his face.
All too soon, Derek walked over to the window. “They’re here. Do you want me to leave?”
Stiles sighed. “No. You can stay. In my time, you reluctantly helped me enough—and even more reluctantly accepted my help. We may as well start that tradition young, yeah?”
So Derek resumed his seat on the sofa in the lounge area of the cabin, and Stiles moved to the table in the kitchenette. The list was left on the end table, but Derek had lost interest in reading it. He could sense the nervousness rolling off the boy in front of him, and it made him nervous, too.
Someone knocked on the cabin door, and then Talia Hale opened it and poked her head in.
“John? I’ve brought the Sheriff and Deputy Reed, as requested.”
Stiles nodded and then stood from his chair, wiping sweaty palms down the front of his legs.
“Okay. I guess we should do this, huh?”
“I’ll be right here with you.” Talia spotted Derek on the sofa. “And so will my son. It will be fine.”
And she opened the door wider, and ushered in the two law officers. Deputy Reed came in first, and he stumbled over his own feet when he saw who was waiting inside. He recovered quickly, though, and moved further inside to allow the Sheriff admittance.
The Sheriff barely made it past the threshold.
He leaned back against the closed door and ran a disbelieving hand over his face.
Then he walked to the dining table and pulled out his wallet, removing a photograph from the center and laying it on the table.
Stiles, barely composed, leaned over to see the photo. A grin lit his face.
“Hey, look at that! It’s my third-grade class picture! Man, I hated that shirt, but Mom said it made my eyes sparkle, so I wore it anyway.”
He took a deep breath, and looked up to face the stunned Sheriff.
Clearing his throat, he said, “My name is Ignacek Jovan Stilinski, but my mother started calling me Stiles because my name is a mouthful that I always had trouble with. She called me Ignacek to honor the Polish heritage of my father, Konstancji, who goes by ‘John’ publically. I got sick a few days ago and yesterday I ended up here, and I don’t know how or how long I’ll be here.”
He thrust out a hand in greeting. “Hey, dad! It’s good to meet you!”
Chapter Five: Setting to Right
The Sheriff shook the extended hand in greeting, and then looked at the teen in front of him with a mixture of pride and dismay.
Pride because the boy looks like a strong and intelligent young man.
Dismay because what had this young man gone through to be in this position?
Werewolves and magic and who knows what else?
And he came back in time to make things better?
The boy turned to the other man in the cabin and said, “Deputy Reed! Man, it’s good to see you alive again!”
Shocked, Reed replied, “Well, that says a lot, doesn’t it?”
The boy—Stiles, John had to think of him as Stiles—frowned.
“Look, you only died recently, and if I did this right, the Kanima won’t touch you.”
John noticed Talia Hale react to the word ‘Kanima’, and he wondered if it was worth his sanity to ask about it.
Then Stiles returned his focus back to him.
“Sheriff, Dad, would you like to sit down? We have a lot to discuss, and I’m suddenly not feeling too well. I may not be here for much longer.”
Derek moved to the small fridge, and removed a cold bottle of water and handed it to Stiles. Talia tugged Derek to sit beside her on the sofa, and Deputy Reed pulled a dining chair away from the table and closer to the sofa area. He discreetly removed his notepad and pen and opened to a blank page. Talia snorted softly, but Reed only shrugged and positioned the pen to take notes.
The Sheriff took a seat right next to the boy from the future and clasped his hands together on top of the table. “Alright, Stiles, what do you need to tell me?”
“First, it’s about Mom. I’m not going to tell you the date she dies, because my visit might change that. But I don’t want it to happen the same way. You started working long shifts, and I was okay. I stayed with Scott a lot, when I wasn’t at the hospital. But I was alone with her when she died. And I blamed myself—and for a while I convinced myself that you blamed me, too. I started having panic attacks, and they were terrifying.
“You drowned your grief in a bottle, and in your work, and for a while I became the caregiver. I’m obsessed with your diet because you had one bad check-up and I don’t want to lose my only parent.”
Stiles paused for a slow sip of water. “When you were kidnapped a few weeks ago, you told your fellow hostages that on the night Mom died, you were at the scene of a terrible car accident. Two drivers dead, and one passenger fading fast, and you tried to comfort her while waiting for the ambulance. Just as she was dying, she told you that if you wanted to say good-bye, you had to leave right then. But you stayed there with her, and I was alone by Mom’s bedside. I’d really rather that didn’t happen again?”
John reached out across the table and grasped Stiles’ hand.
“I’m so sorry. I won’t….That will not happen. I’ll take fewer shifts or start working with a partner. I’ll be with you more, I promise.”
Stiles smiled. “That’s good. And maybe you’ll start exercising and eating healthier?”
“…I’ll work on it.”
“Okay, okay. That’s good. Now, about Derek and the hunter…I know we can’t trap her. But I have dates and place names. Maybe you can increase patrols to certain areas during certain times?”
The Sheriff inclined his head thoughtfully. “Catch her right before the act? Red-handed, but before she does permanent damage? I think we can do that.”
“Good! Now—this is something I only thought about while I was sitting here waiting for you: In 2006, on the night the Beacon Hills Swim Team won the State Championship, the coach, Mr. Lahey, hosted a party at his home. Mr. Lahey’s oldest son, Camden was on the team, so Mr. Lahey allowed his younger son to invite a friend over—but not to attend the party.”
“Let me guess—underage drinking?”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “Please! Do you think I’d bring this up for something as stupid as underage drinking? So, Mr. Lahey knows there is drinking going on (Stiles ignores the Sheriff’s raised eyebrow), but he does nothing about it. And Isaac’s friend is Matt Dahler, who is a total creeper and stalker in my time before he gets drowned, but at that age he wanted to be one of the cool kids. So he sneaks down to the party, and Camden Lahey throws him into the pool. And Matt Dahler can’t swim, and he drowns a bit before Mr. Lahey pulls him out and resuscitates him. And Mr. Lahey tells him off for not being able to swim and warns him to never tell anyone what happened. The team does not get punished. And five years later, Matt becomes the master of the Kanima. There is a whole lot there that I would like to not happen.”
The Sheriff frowned and began patting his jacket pockets, searching. “Maybe I should be writing this down?”
Reed pipes up with, “Already on it, Sheriff.”
The Sheriff looked at Stiles for a moment. “That isn’t all, is it? As horrible as that is, it’s not all there is?”
Stiles was starting to feel a headache, and he rubbed absently at his temple, cringing.
“No. Mr. Lahey’s wife died a while ago. Have you ever noticed how many single-parent homes there are in this area? Anyway, that’s not the point. Matt never told anybody what happened that night, not even Isaac. He just stopped hanging out with Isaac. Mr. Lahey quit coaching the swim team and filled in his pool, and the High School team never won another match again. Camden graduated and joined the army, and a year later he was killed when an IED blew up in his face.
“Mr. Lahey….well, he sort of romanticized Camden as the perfect son after that. Nothing Isaac did could measure up. Not his grades, not joining the lacrosse team, not cleaning the house.”
Reed spoke softly. “Did he…did he beat his son?”
Stiles nodded. “A lot. And other stuff, too. There’s this old freezer in their basement that he’d lock Isaac in. And he’d make Isaac work in the cemetery digging graves in the middle of the night alone, even on school nights. So when an Alpha offered Isaac the bite, to make him stronger, well, you know what happens when a weak person gets too strong too fast.”
The Sheriff swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. “Jesus, kid, you’ve been through hell.”
Stiles looked up. “It wasn’t all bad, you know. I have Scott and you, and Ms. McCall is like a second mom. And my grades are really good, so there are going to be tons of scholarships coming my way. And I’m on the lacrosse team. I mean, I sit on the bench mostly, but last season I scored the winning goal in a major match. And despite my eternally long crush on Lydia Martin, we’ve actually become brain-buddy besties. But there are a few things that are really fucked up—pardon—that I’d like to see not happen.”
Stiles began to cough, so he reached for the water bottle, but his fingers just went right through it. The Sheriff stared in disbelief. Talia sensed his dismay and moved closer to the table.
Stiles looked up. “I guess I’m not going to be here any longer. But there are a few things I have left to say.”
Stiles began to pale, the color washing from his face and body. His dark hair washed to charcoal and his eyes lost their sparkle.
“Dad—I need you to remind me that sometimes loner means lonely, and that the quiet ones need friends, too. I need you to heal with me. Maybe grief counseling? Because you’re losing a wife and help-mate, and I’m losing a parent. And we’ll have each other, but we really need to have each other. You don’t know about the wolves and magic in my time, and I spent a lot of time lying to you and I hated every second. I want more laughter in our house and fewer suspicious looks.>>cough, cough>>I was hoping I would be here longer. I wanted to get you to sneak me into see Mom one last time. Let her see how well I grew up, you know?”
The Sheriff nodded. “I’ll keep note of this conversation. I won’t let you down.”
“Good. Alpha Hale—there are a couple of things I think you should know; things I only just figured out.”
Talia leaned forward slightly. “I’m listening.”
“Kate Argent is crazy as fuck. Pardon. She gets it from her father, because Gerard Argent is crazier than fuck. I don’t think they’ve ever held to the code. But Gerard has a son, Christopher, who is more reluctant to kill on contact when he comes across a werewolf. Now, in my time, Chris’ wife Victoria is scary as hell and just as blood-thirsty as Gerard, but I’m mostly willing to put that down to six years of contact with Gerard. Because Chris and Victoria have a daughter who is around my age, Allison, who had never been told about werewolves or hunters until Kate tells her last year. And that’s after Kate came back to hunt down Derek, and had him in chains in the basement of the burned-out husk of your house. So, go to your hunter allies and mention Chris Argent and get their opinion. Because he’s not on that crazy train and he may be good to work with against Gerard. In six years from now, Gerard will be dying of cancer. And he has a plan to capture and torture an Alpha, and force the Alpha to give him the bite. Then he wants to kill the Alpha to gain alpha powers. And nobody wants that crazy fuck to become an Alpha killing machine. Pardon.”
Stiles began to fade farther into shadow. “And I know you know what a Nemeton is. And you know where it is. The Nemeton here is dying. It’s almost dead, and I believe the connection the Hale Alpha has with this territory is the only thing keeping it from dying forever. Because after you died, all sorts of bad things started happening around here.>>cough, cough>> So maybe you can get a good Druid here to help heal it—or maybe just get an emissary that gives a damn—and the Nemeton will grow again, and the area will prosper more under your care. Derek told me that the Hales not only lived in Beacon Hills, the Hales protected Beacon Hills. Please start there, at the seat of magic, so bad stuff won’t move…..”
And Stiles faded to a shadow, and then the shadow faded in the late afternoon sun.
Many tears fell, and were wiped away. The boy most of those people knew, but never knew, and would know again, had made much of an impact in just two days.
Finally, Derek shuffled toward the dining table holding a small bundle of folded papers.
“He was making a list. A really long list. He wouldn’t let me peek at it, so I figure he wouldn’t want me to see it now; but maybe you all should see it.”
Derek leaned into his mother’s arms for a long hug, and then he looked at the Sheriff. “I want to meet your son, if it’s okay? Maybe I could be like a big brother type? Or just a friend?”
The Sheriff nodded and accepted the papers. “I think a friend would be a good idea. But maybe Alpha Hale could offer more? I mean, he had to have magic to get here, right? So maybe he has it now, and maybe he should be trained?”
Talia smiled. “I was thinking much the same thing. I have a few calls to make. My emissary, it seems, is lacking as of late. Perhaps he would like to retire, to just being a veterinarian. I’ll, of course, have to replace him, because an emissary is an important part of the pack. Any new emissary should be able to offer training for your son. Now, Derek, I need for you to run along home and start any homework you have that will clear your mind. When I get home, we’ll call for takeout, and then I’ll bring you to the hospital to meet Mrs. Stilinski and her son Ignacek. Does that suit you?”
Derek smiled at his mother and the Sheriff, who nodded his approval. “Thanks, Mom. I’ll see you at home.”
Deputy Reed closed the door behind Derek and then rejoined the Sheriff and the Alpha.
“Isn’t it a bit far from here to your house, Ms. Hale?” Reed asked softly.
“Not for a werewolf, Deputy. He’ll run through the woods, where roads don’t go. We all have shortcuts through here, so it will probably take him less time running—as wolves are faster than humans—than it will for me to drive. Now, gentlemen, let us look at this list.”
Things Stiles KNOWS:
*Kate Argent takes Derek Hale’s virginity on Dec. 20, 2004, in the backseat of her car on Old Ridgeway Rd, in the warehouse district.
*Kate Argent approached Adrian Harris in a club in Oakway, and got him to tell her all about how to start a fire so that it wouldn’t look like arson.
*Adrian Harris is an ass, and he likes young women, but he would never consciously aid in committing arson—or any crime—and he feels awful after the fire (but he has no idea until my Junior year that he actually helped with that crime)
*Peter Hale is in a coma after the fire, but in his head, he is plotting revenge for the deaths of his family
*Laura Hale comes back to Beacon Hills six years after the fire, to check on Peter—who is more lucid than anyone thinks. Peter kills Laura and steals her Alpha powers, but his wolf is mis-shapen and distorted by insanity.
*Peter Hale attacks Scott McCall after I convince Scott to go into the wood to look for a Body after I heard that half a body was found (I listen to dad’s police scanner a lot)
*Peter attacks us at the high school, and injures Derek—at this point, we do not know it’s Peter yet
*Derek visits Peter in the hospital, and recognized his scent
*Kate Argent arrives in town, hunting the rogue Alpha—she finds Derek instead, and captures him
*Allison Argent moves to town with her parents—she does not know about werewolves yet, and Scott falls for her (Scott is in denial about being a wolf and does not know how dangerous he’ll be on the full moon. I do my best to help him, and Derek tries to help, but Scott doesn’t want help. Scott wants to kill the Alpha and be ‘cured’ of lycanthropy)
The Sheriff looked up from the list and frowned. “Does that work? Killing the Alpha will cure a bitten wolf?”
Talia shook her head. “No, Sheriff. It’s an old wives tale that Hollywood perpetuates. Actually, killing an Alpha is a way of gaining Alpha powers. That is how many Betas gain Alpha abilities.”
“Are there other ways for Betas to gain Alpha powers?”
“Yes. An Alpha can pass along the powers once the Beta has gained enough knowledge and life experience, and enough wolves want to start a new pack—or once the Alpha wants to retire—and the potential new Alpha has enough support. I had thought my daughter would be a good Alpha, but I find myself re-thinking that decision.”
“Ah, I see. Something our time-traveler told you about?”
Talia nodded abruptly. “Something like that, yes.”
*Peter attacks and bites Lydia Martin—she rejects the bite, but lives. (She’s in the hospital for a long time, in a coma for two days, but then just to heal the bite)
“I take it, rejecting the bite isn’t good?” Reed asked softly as he scribbled personal notes.
“No, Deputy. Bite rejection usually means death. It’s rare, because the bite usually means werewolf.”
“Good to know,” Reed nodded.
*Peter offered me the bite—said I’d make a good Beta, but I turned him down because he was crazy
*Peter kills Kate Argent
*Derek kills Peter, with help from me and Scott
*Derek becomes Alpha, and Scott is pissed. (I knew it wouldn’t cure him, but he’ll never believe that)
*Derek gives the bite to Jackson Whittemore because Jackson figures how Scott got so good at lacrosse.
*The bite does not take with Jackson, and he becomes a Kanima
*Derek gives the bite to Isaac Lahey, Erica Reyes (it cures her epilepsy), and Vernon Boyd
*Derek is a lousy Alpha, because he has had no training
*Peter comes to Lydia in visions, so she does some sort of spell at his direction, using Derek’s blood, and Peter comes back from the dead
*Derek set his new Betas to find the Kanima, because he thought it was Lydia (Because the bite didn’t take)
*Lydia is some sort of supernatural being, but we don’t know what
*Victoria Argent tries to poison Scott with Wolfsbane, and Derek saves him, but he accidentally bites Victoria. She kills herself rather than become a wolf, and Allison goes a bit nuts. Of course, Gerard may have a lot to do with that, because he comes for Kate’s funeral and becomes the new principal at the High School
*Scott and I kidnap Jackson, and we try to tell him that he’s been killing people under the direction of the Kanima’s master, but he doesn’t believe us.
*Matt’s targets are all members of the swim team that drowned him—and Mr. Lahey—and then he goes after me and Scott because he wants to date Allison. He forces Jackson to kill four ex-swim team members, and four deputies at the Sheriff’s station
*Gerard kills Matt and takes over as Kanima Master
*Erica and Boyd run away from Derek, and are captured by Allison and Gerard Argent
*At the championship lacrosse game, I score the winning goal, Jackson guts himself to keep from having to kill a team member, and Gerard kidnaps me and beats me to send a message to Scott.
“That old man is going down!” the Sheriff growled in fury.
“He hasn’t done anything yet, Sheriff,” Reed replied mildly.
“I don’t particularly care, Deputy.”
*Scott switches Gerard’s medications with Wolfsbane, somehow. Gerard forces Derek to bite him, and the wolfsbane acts like a poison inside him. No wolfie-Gerard!
*The Alpha Pack comes to town. They manage to kidnap Erica and Boyd. They kill Erica outright, but hold Boyd for two moons, keeping him out of the moon’s influence
*The Alpha Pack forces Derek to kill Boyd
*Derek falls for the new English Teacher, Jennifer Blake. We’ll later find out that Jennifer Blake used to be Kali Steele’s emissary—and that she alone survived Kali’s attack against the entire pack. Blake became a Darach, and was kidnapping and killing people to form a specific pattern so she could gain power from the Nemeton.
*My dad, Ms. McCall, and Chris Argent were to be the final sacrifice. Scott, Allison, and I performed a ritual to save them.
The second list was much shorter.
Things that Stiles Thinks Should Change:
*Every Fucking Thing on the First List!!!
Talia sat back in her chair and regarded the two men beside her. She gathered the papers and folded them in half.
“I think I’ll make copies of these, so we all have them. Sheriff, I’ll bring yours to you at the hospital this evening, yes?”
The Sheriff nodded. “Bring Deputy Reed’s copy as well. I’ll give it to him tomorrow.”
Talia smiled. “I think we have much work to do. I have a few phone calls to make tomorrow, and not all of them will be pleasant.”
Reed scratched the back of his head. “You need to fire that emissary of yours?”
“Well, yes. I supposed I should do that soon. But I need to call David Whittemore. Something that Stiles told me, that is not on that list, needs to be taken care of.”
The Sheriff led the way out of the cabin. “Is there anything I can help with?”
“No. I need to prevent a Kanima.”
“You’ll have to explain that one to me,” the Sheriff said cautiously.
“I will,” Talia promised. “Much later. After Kate Argent is taken care of.”
Chapter Six: Time for a Cool Change
This chapter dives right into my head canon, and then goes beyond. There is much angst here. And mention of pedophilia. You have been warned. Things are not always rosy in Beacon Hills, but the skies are getting brighter!
Chapter title is from “Cool Change” by Little River Band. I think of that song a lot when I know a change has to come in my life.
A teenage boy from the future faded into their lives on a Friday afternoon, turned their lives upside down and changed how they saw their world, and faded back out on the next early Saturday evening. The three adults left behind—two human lawmen and one Alpha werewolf—sat around a small dining table discussing all that was heard or spoken or written down, until finally plans were made.
It was easy, really, once you recognized that everything you thought you could count on needed to be left behind.
Sunday Morning, December 5
Sheriff John Stilinski and his ten-year-old son, Stiles, walked into the main lobby of Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital carrying catalogs and notebooks. It was still early December, but they were both way behind in their Christmas planning. Since it looked like wife and mother Claudia was going to be in the long-term care ward for the holiday, Stiles wanted to decorate her room to make her more cheerful. Christmas had always been her favorite holiday.
As they walked to the elevator, they were met by a beautiful dark-haired woman and a teenage boy. Both were carrying flowers in large boxes.
The Sheriff leaned forward to take one of the boxes. “Here, Ms. Hale, let me take that.”
“Thank you Sheriff.” The woman smiled. She turned to Stiles and said, “I don’t suppose you remember me? I met you last week when I brought your mother a cactus.”
Stiles smiled shyly. “Yes, ma’am. And the cactus was really pretty. We left it in the window, since it doesn’t need much water.”
“This is my son, Derek. He usually volunteers in the pediatric ward, but today he’s doing flower rounds with me.”
Stiles began to hold out his hand in greeting, until he realized the boy was carrying the box with both hands. “Hi! I’m Stiles. What do you do in pediatrics?”
Derek gave a slightly pained smile in return. “I usually read them stories. The nurses are too busy, and most of the kids just like attention.”
Stiles’ eyes brightened. “That’s cool. Maybe I can help you some time?”
“That would be nice,” Derek replied with a shy smile.
The elevator doors opened and the foursome stepped inside. Stiles pushed the button for the second floor and asked Ms. Hale which floor she needed.
“Two is fine for us as well. Most of our deliveries are going there.”
The rest of the trip was silent, and the doors opened with the ding of a bell and little fanfare. The Sheriff handed over the box to Ms. Hale and he moved toward his wife’s room. Stiles gave a little wave good-bye.
“What room are you going to be in?” Derek asked before Stiles moved away. “Maybe I can stop by later, and we can get lunch?”
Stiles grinned widely. “My mom is in 209. We’re planning to decorate.”
“That sounds like fun. I’ll see you later.”
The rest of the visit was quiet and normal. Claudia was lucid, so Stiles told her about meeting Derek and his mother, and how he wanted to start volunteering with the little kids because everybody needs attention when they’re sick. Claudia gave the ‘okay’ for a small tree, and she and her son poured over catalogues, picking decorations that might look nice in the tiny hospital room.
“I’m so sorry that I’m going to be away from home, Ignacek.” Claudia’s voice was soft, but not weak. “I would love to bake your cookies for you, and help you trim the tree. I will miss making the star this year.”
“We can still make the star, Momma. I’ll get the craft stuff after school, and we can do it here.”
A knock on the door drew their attention, and Derek and Ms. Hale stepped inside.
Claudia perked up. “Ah, Talia! Have you brought me something pretty today?”
“Hello, Ms. Claudia. I have a lovely Peace Lily from the Good Sisters. You are again on their prayer list, and they wanted to send you a smile. This is my oldest son, Derek. He would like to take your boy down to the cafeteria, if that’s alright with you?”
“Goodness, is it that late already?” Claudia gasped. “Go, Ignacek, and have some good soup today. I’ll spend my lunch time with your father.”
Stiles gave his mother a kiss, and then he and Derek walked out to the elevator.
Once they were seated in the cafeteria, Stiles asked about Derek’s favorite stories.
“Do you mean the ones I like, or the ones I like to read to the kids?”
“Um, both, I guess. I read loads of stuff. Like, everything I can get my hands on.”
“Well,” said Derek after some thought, “I prefer non-fiction and historical books personally, but I’ve been reading the Narnia books in the ward. And, don’t tell anyone, but on Mondays and Wednesdays, I’m getting knitting lessons in the infirm ward. Mrs. Kellogg and Mrs. Whitaker are teaching me. They don’t get visitors much, so I like going to see them.”
“That’s sad, that they’re stuck in here and nobody comes to see them,” Stiles said softly, indignant that someone in the hospital would receive no visitors. “Is knitting fun? It looks hard.”
“It takes a lot of concentration. But I like it. I didn’t think I would, but those ladies are really sweet, so they make it easy. I’m making my mom a blanket for Christmas.”
Stiles looked down at the table and sniffed. “What’s wrong?” Derek asked.
“My mom is going to be here for Christmas. Of course she is, because she’s really sick. Sometimes her mind isn’t all there. And we always bake cookies together, and this year we can’t.”
“Can’t your dad bake with you?”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “My dad is a great cop—the very best Sheriff there ever could be—but he’s pants at cooking, and the last time he tried to bake, the whole house filled with smoke. And I’m not old enough to use the stove without parental supervision.”
Derek paused for a moment before coming up with an idea. “So…how about I talk to my mom, and you can either come over to our house and bake, or I can go to yours and bake. I’m not a parent, but I’m old enough to cook alone.”
Stiles’ eyes grew wider. “You know how to cook?”
Derek nodded in affirmation. “My family owns a restaurant. My dad is the executive chef and my Aunt Regan is a pastry chef. I’ve been cooking since I could walk, basically. We’ll get you set up, don’t worry. It’ll be a nice surprise for your mom.”
Stiles’ smile could rival the sun, it was so bright.
Sunday Evening, December 5
“Alright, people,” the Sheriff announced to the full bullpen of deputies in the Police Station, “there is going to be a big change in rosters from here on in. There have been too many reports of police officers being ambushed on county roads all over the state lately, so from now on, nobody rides alone. I have a list of partner assignments—yes, even for me—so there will be two bodies in the cars for patrols at all times. In times of vacation, illness, or emergency leaves, the rotation will change up. There should be no reason for a single-deputy patrol, especially in the far outer reaches of the county. On the positive side, now the paperwork will be split between two officers for every patrol, so it should take half as long to get done. Questions? No? Then let’s get this evening started!”
Monday Morning, December 6
“Peter, I’m glad I caught you alone.”
Peter Hale startled at the greeting. “Hello, dear sister. How are you today?”
“I’m not at all well, Peter. I need to speak with you.”
Peter frowned at the tone of Talia’s voice. “Something serious? Should we go somewhere else—away from the house, perhaps?”
Talia shook her head and began to lead the way to her office. “Here is fine. You’ll want to be near your family when we’re done.”
“Oh, dear. I haven’t seen you this upset since Deucalion was here this past summer.”
Talia shuddered and closed the office door behind Peter after he entered. “Don’t remind me about that. I have to deal with that mess later as well. Peter, you know that I love you, right? And that I would do anything to protect you?”
Peter’s eyes widened in shock and he sat heavily on one of the over-stuffed chairs. “Of course. You are my sister, and my Alpha. You care very much for me, and my family. That is why I decided to stay with you instead of moving with Frederick.”
“I was always grateful that you stayed. You make me laugh when life gets too heavy sometimes. And I fear that life is about to get very heavy, for both of us.”
“Just spit it out, Talia. I know you wouldn’t call me out if it wasn’t important.”
Talia sighed and clasped her hands together tightly. “Peter, ten years ago, something happened with you—to you—that was unconscionable. A woman, who was much older than you, forced you to have sex. You were fourteen years old, and she drugged you and had sex with you.”
Peter paled. “But I couldn’t fight off the drugs? And why don’t I remember this?”
“Peter, at such a young age, in the early stages of puberty, a werewolf has the same resistance to drugs and alcohol as a human. She put some sort of narcotic in your soda, and when your resistance was gone, she stimulated you. I could smell her on you when you finally stumbled home, claiming to be ill. You finally regained your composure the next morning, and cried to me about what happened. You were mortified and so emotionally wrecked. You begged me to take your memories, so that you wouldn’t relive the moment over and over, so I complied. I saw through your mind everything that happened, and after your memories were gone, I went to that woman and told her to stay away from you and to get out of town.”
Peter sank to his knees in front of his sister, tears falling from his eyes in shame. “Why bring it up now? Why could you not let me never know it happened?”
Talia crouched down in front of him and gathered him in a hug. “Peter, I just found out that that woman is dead—she died ten years ago. There was a car accident and she was gravely injured. But before she died, she birthed a child. Peter, there is a good chance that that child is yours. When I told her to get out of town, she said that she had what she wanted anyway and she was glad to leave. I believe she used you to become pregnant.”
Peter gasped in shock. “Do you know who the child is?”
Talia nodded. “I know the adoptive parents. I’m going to suggest a paternity test. We are not going to take the child. I’m going to make that perfectly clear, both to you and the child’s parents. But if you are the father, then concessions will have to be made. The child may be wolf, and that would be a horrible thing to discover at the onset of puberty if no-one knows to warn them.”
“Do you think things will be alright?”
Talia sighed deeply. “I hope so, Peter. I’ll do what I can to make it so. Now, go to Amanda and tell her what I told you. Her baby may have an older brother out there, so she should know about that.”
Peter began trembling. “What if Amanda hates me? What if she leaves me because of what happened?”
Talia grabbed Peter’s chin and forced him to look into her Alpha Red eyes. “Peter! Amanda is not going to hate you for being raped at the age of fourteen!” Talia’s eyes faded to brown. “She loves you. She wanted you long before Elise turned down your troth. She will stand beside you through this. Now, go and tell her. She’s with Regan in the nursery.”
Later, Talia would hear the soft sounds of her younger brother weeping, and of his wife offering words of comfort.
Monday Evening, December 6
“I know you don’t like to lie, Derek, and that’s one of your more admirable traits. But this isn’t lying. You’re only going to see how far this woman is willing to go.”
Derek paced restlessly around Talia’s office, wringing his hands. “So I’ll just act interested?”
“Yes. Don’t encourage her, but don’t discourage her either. And if she tries to kiss you, let her. Don’t act like it repulses you. I know you won’t like it, but pretend that you’re okay with it. I’m so proud of how you reacted to the news that Stiles brought from the future. It shows great maturity that you are willing to take this risk to help the pack.”
Derek stopped pacing and faced his mother. “I’d do anything for the pack. I was sick at the thought that I would be the cause of all your deaths.”
Talia went to him and hugged him, kissing his forehead. “I do know that, my bright boy. This seems like too much to place on your shoulders.”
“I can handle it, Mom.”
“Good. Now, go get your school things together. This is no reason to slack off your homework.”
Derek runs into Laura after leaving the office, and he tried to avoid any confrontation. Laura, however, is always looking to dig at her brother.
“Sucking up to Mother again?” Laura sneered at him.
“She’s my mother, too, Laura. I don’t need to suck up to her.”
“Don’t you talk back to me! When I’m the Alpha….”
“LAURA! Would you come with me, please?” Talia looked as angry as Derek had ever seen her, and he bit his lip in worry as Laura followed their mother into the office.
Talia forced herself not to pace around her office once her eldest child entered. “Laura, your behavior has had me quite concerned. I really don’t care for the way you’ve been speaking to your brother.”
Laura looked affronted and scandalized. “Has he been complaining to you? Because that’s just the sort of weak-Beta behavior…”
“Derek has not complained to me at all,” Talia interrupted. “In fact, Derek has said nothing at all, unless he was directly questioned. Even then, he tried to defend you. But I thought I raised you better than this! I thought you understood what it meant to be Alpha! And now I find that you’ve become an elitist bully who plans to attempt to rule a pack like a despot? Where did you get these ideas?”
“I believe she got them from the Alphas who breezed through here last summer.” Talia’s husband and mate, Robert, entered from the hallway, carrying a laptop computer. “I looked through Laura’s contact lists, and she’s been in contact with Ennis Brewer, Kali Steele, and Brendon Hollis. We all know how Hollis treats his Betas; like little more than slaves. He openly abuses his twin sons and threatens anyone who tries to leave the pack.”
Talia frowned deeply. “Is this the kind of Alpha you want to be?”
Laura straightened her spine and stood tall in front of her mother. “I want to be strong! I will be strong!”
Talia thought about what she learned from futureStiles. “If you learned that to be strong, you would have to kill your Betas? Even your siblings?”
Laura clenched her jaw and said nothing.
“I see.” Talia’s eyes shown bright red and her voice echoed with power as she demanded her daughter to “KNEEL!” and Laura dropped to her knees in front of her mother. Talia flexed her right hand and her claws erupted from her fingers.
“I’m going to remove what I gave you; the small bit of Alpha Power I was using to train you. You are not fit to become my successor. You are not fit to be Alpha at all!”
Talia thrust her claws into the back of her daughter’s neck, and raw power drained from the weeping girl. Finally Talia stepped away.
“You’re eighteen now, Laura, and legally an adult. I’ll give you a choice here. You may take the examination for early graduation, and then leave this house and begin your new life away from this family. You may move to live with my brother Frederick in Arizona, where you can try to become part of the Arritas Pack. Or you may stay here and learn to live as the lowest ranked pack member here; lower than even the youngest human.”
“You’re making me Omega?” Laura cried, shocked. “I thought you were a fair person!”
“This is fair, Laura! You are willing to subjugate your Betas for power! You don’t deserve to be more than Omega until you earn it! Leave me now and think long and hard about what you want out of life.”
Tuesday Afternoon, December 7
“I must admit that I almost didn’t accept this lunch meeting, Ms. Hale. I know this can’t be business related, because you’re an environmental attorney. So, is this a legal matter that should go through the County Prosecutor’s office?”
Talia took a small sip of her water, and then set the glass back on the table.
“May I call you David, Mr. Whittemore? This is less a legal issue, and more a…moral issue, I suppose you could say.”
“Very well, Talia? Yes, Talia. How can I help with your moral issue.”
“Oh, well, the issue isn’t mine. Let me begin at the beginning, shall I?” At David Whittemore’s nod, Talia folded her hands across her empty appetizer plate. “When my brother, Peter, was fourteen, he was drugged and raped by a rather desperate woman. I, of course, was furious.”
Whittemore frowned in distaste and sipped from his coffee cup. “I don’t blame you. Still, the statute of limitations has most likely run out. How long ago was this?”
“Ten years. And, as I said, this is not a legal issue. I found the woman and very indignantly ordered her to leave Peter alone, and to get out of town. It was all very ‘old west’ of me, I admit. I tried to put the whole thing behind me, and then my own son became a teenager. And he’s very handsome, if I do say so myself.”
“Oh, I agree. I’ve been to the basketball games. My wife is a booster for the team sports, so we go to all the games.”
“Thank you. Anyway, I’ve seen how women look at Derek. I laugh it off, but it recently got me thinking about Peter’s rape. Because that’s what it was. And I began an online search for this woman—to make sure that she has stayed from Beacon Hills.”
“And did you find her?” Whittemore asked, leaning slightly foreward.
“I did, David. She’s dead. There was a car accident, and she was killed. Her name was Margaret Miller. I believe you know the name?”
Whittemore frowned in thought. “The name is familiar, but I can’t…quite…Wait! That’s the name of the woman who birthed my son!”
Talia nodded and took another sip of her water. “And that is why I contacted you. When I learned about the child, I immediately recognized the fact that he could be Peter’s son. Please, don’t panic, David. Even if he is biologically Peter’s child, you are his father in every possible way and we have no interest in changing that.”
“Then why bring it up at all? Why bother telling me. You could have ignored it, and Jackson would never know.”
Talia sighed softly. “I’m bringing it up because I feel morally obligated to do so. Our family has certain…genetic…complications that could crop up as Jackson grows older. I’m sure you did a detailed check on his birth parents before the adoption? Just to make sure there would be no inherited illnesses or conditions.”
Whittemore nodded in agreement. “Yes, and both Millers checked out clean. It never occurred to my wife or me that there could be another possible birth father.”
“I assumed as much. All I want to suggest is a paternity test. If Peter is not the father, then that’s all there is to it. I’ll still see you at work functions and school functions, and there will be no strife. But if Peter is the father, then you and your wife will have to be made aware of the genetic issues—and Jackson, of course.”
“And you insist that you don’t want custody of Jackson?”
“The thought never occurred to me or Peter. But we both want to make sure that Jackson is healthy. And maybe, we can all be friends? My youngest daughter Cora is in Jackson’s grade at school, and is as much of an athlete as Jackson is, so I’m sure we’ll run into one another often. I will, of course, pay for the test, and it will be discreet. I’ll even pay to have the results expedited, so there will not be a long wait.”
“That’s very kind of you to offer. I will, of course, have to discuss it with my wife.”
David Whittemore called Talia Hale that evening, and an appointment for paternity testing was set for the following Monday.
Tuesday Afternoon, December 7
Derek was trying to remain calm as ‘Ms. Taylor’ (Call me Kate, Derek) stood behind him to ‘help’ him conjugate his verbs. Her perfume was annoying. Now that Derek knew she was aware that he was a werewolf, he was certain she chose it on purpose. It would certainly cover the scent of gunpowder and wolfsbane.
She placed her hand on his shoulder, and he resisted shrugging it off.
“Derek, you’re so tense. Is everything alright?”
Derek shrugged. “Things are tense at home just now. It’s nothing big. Just my sister being difficult.”
Kate huffed laughter in his ear. “Mothers and Daughters have weird relationships. Is there anything I can do to make it easy for you?”
Derek refused to roll his eyes. “Nah—I’m just staying out of their way.”
Kate turned to face him, and leaned backwards on the desk. “You should let me take you out somewhere. Just the two of us. I can show you a good time, you know?”
Derek looked at her and did his best to look interested. “Um, is that not allowed for teachers and students?”
Kate placed her hand against his neck. “What people don’t know won’t hurt us, right?”
She leaned in and placed her face next to his. Derek could feel her breath against his cheek, and then the rough wetness of her tongue as she licked from his chin to his temple and then placed a kiss on his hairline. He couldn’t help but shudder, but from her reaction she thought he was into it.
He was so, so far from into it.
“Let me show you a good time, Derek,” she breathed into his ear.
“Um, you want me to go back to your place?”
Kate laughed roughly. “Oh, no, that wouldn’t do! What if we were seen? Let me think on it. I’ll find a place for us.”
“Um, okay. I, uh, I have to get going. I have a shift to get to.”
Kate stroked a hand against Derek’s chest, and then she stepped away. “Good job on those verbs, Derek. See you next class.”
Sunday Morning, December 12
A grinning Stiles practically bounced into his mother’s hospital room, and his arrival made the woman smile ear-to-ear. The last few visits, Claudia had lost time and begun talking to invisible people in the shadows of her room. Stiles was scared for his mother, but he knew just the thing to cheer her up.
On Saturday, Stiles’ dad drove him out to the big Hale property in the Beacon Hills Preserve, and Stiles, Derek, Derek’s sister Cora, and Derek’s little brother Michael baked cookies from Stiles’ mother’s cookbook. All of the recipes were old family ones, and they were favorites of Claudia and Stiles.
Turned out, the Hales liked them, too. They baked all day, and Derek’s Uncle Peter brought in take-out fried chicken for dinner and they had a picnic in the living room in front of the fireplace. Stiles had never had such a good day.
And now he was going to deliver the cookies, and he and his mother were going to make a star for the top of the pretty Christmas tree that the Sheriff had put in the corner of her room.
This was going to be a good day!
Tuesday Morning, December 14
“Buenos Dias! Talia, it has been so long!”
“Hello, Nona Vera! I am sorry it has been so long between calls. Things have been so…hectic here. I cannot even begin to tell you the things that have been happening.”
“Then I shall have to visit, so that I can see for myself, yes?”
“I wish you would. Michael is getting so big, you would not recognize him!”
“Ah, my little Michael, the smallest angel! How I miss his stories.”
“Nona Vera? I have a serious problem. Well, I have two, but only one can I concern you with now.”
“Tell me, Alpha Hale. How can the Matriarch of the Calaveras Clan help you?”
“My son, and by extension my Pack, has been targeted by a hunter.”
“Only one hunter? This is not something I should be concerned with.”
“The hunter is Kate Argent.”
“OH! Dios mio! Your son, Derek? He is the target?”
“Yes. I take it she has a pattern?”
“There are stories.”
“I was told by a very reliable source that Kate and her father, Gerard, are—please pardon the language—crazy as fuck, but that the older son, Christopher, may be reasoned with.”
“I have heard that Christopher has no thirst for wolf blood. His spouse may be different. She is from the Albright Clan. They are patriarchal, which is rare, so she was raised to follow the eldest male authority.”
“Do you think it would be safe to contact Christopher? If he has broken with his father, then Gerard would not be an influence over the spouse, yes?”
“Let me make a few calls for you. I will suss out whether or not that would be safe. What are you doing about the woman?”
“We’re going to let human law take care of her, for now.”
“Is that wise?”
“The local Sheriff has recently become…invested…in our family.”
“I look forward to hearing that story.”
“It is a very interesting story. Now, tell me, is Donna Maria still interested in studying our region? Because I find myself in need of a strong Druid—and one that is capable of training a new emissary.”
“Has Deaton decided to leave the area?”
“I think Deaton is compromised. He is not working against the Hale Pack, but he is also not working for us. I have reason to believe that he had knowledge of the Argent woman, but had decided not to tell me.”
“Then how did you find out?”
“That is part of the same story as the Sheriff.”
“I shall have Donna Maria call you if she is interested in studying your lovely Preserve. If she is not, I have other contacts.”
“Many thanks to you, Nona Vera.”
Wednesday Afternoon, December 15
“Well, you did warn us that this could be the result.” David Whittemore and his wife, Anne, were currently sitting in Talia Hale’s office with Talia and her husband. They were holding cups of coffee, but no one was drinking.
“I had a very sinking feeling that this would be the case, yes,” said Talia gravely. “But now we know…so now I have to reluctantly let complete strangers in on a family secret.”
Anne quirked a small smile. “Come now, aren’t we practically family?”
Talia stood from her chair and walked to the center of the room. “If I am to do this, I must ask that you put down your cups. They were my grandmother’s, and they are very dear to me.”
David scoffed. “I’m a bit old to be throwing cups, Talia.”
But he set down his cup anyway, as did Anne.
They watched in disturbed fascination as Talia stepped out of her shoes, and then slipped off her suit jacket. When she began to remove her blouse, Anne became frantic.
“You’re all sex maniacs? You want to have an orgy? Is that what this is all about?”
Robert Hale stepped in front of the Whittemores and gently pushed them back onto the settee.
“Just….Just settle and watch, okay?”
Once Talia was completely disrobed, she shifted. First came her half-wolf form: No eyebrows, glowing eyes, elongated teeth, fuzzy shoulders and arms, long claws instead of fingernails.
As the Whittemores gaped in shock, Talia shifted again, into full wolf form.
She stood, a large black wolf with red eyes, taller than any natural wolf could ever be, and well-muscled and strong.
Anne passed out cold.
When she opened her eyes again to find a glass of water pressed to her lips, Talia was once again dressed and seated in her chair behind the desk.
“I, um, had the strangest dream…..”
David scoffed again. “It wasn’t a dream.”
Talia spoke softly. “The Hales are werewolves, and we have been for more generations than you could ever imagine. And now that we know that Peter is the biological father of your adopted son…”
“You’re saying our son is a monster!”
“David!” Anne exclaimed indignantly. “Take that back right now! Our son, werewolf or not, is not, not, NOT a monster! Get that through your head right now! He is our son. He is my son, and you shall not speak about him like that again!”
David Whittemore sat back dejectedly and Talia smiled at Anne broadly. “You have no idea how happy I am to hear you say that.”
Anne shook her head. “I fell in love with him the first time I ever held him. He is in my heart, you know?”
“I do know. That’s how a mother feels. Even if you did not birth him yourself, it’s only right that you feel that way.”
David sat forward. “I’m sorry. It’s just such a shock, you know?”
Robert stood and offered David a stronger drink, but he was refused. Even though alcohol didn’t really affect matured wolves, Talia and Robert both enjoyed the taste of good Scotch every once in a while.
“Wolf Packs are very tightly knit groups.” Robert spoke evenly, making sure he was understood. “Many times, the wolves will stay in a Pack, even if there is abuse. So, when the rare occurrence of an orphaned wolf comes up, they are mostly adopted within the Pack. If that is not appropriate, then another Pack is offered the child. Your son really slipped past notice, and for that we are sorry. But it is obvious that you both love him so very much, and for that we are grateful.”
Talia stood and walked over to the Whittemores. “I already told you that we have no intention of taking your child from you. But you will have to tell him that he is adopted, and you will have to tell him that he is related to us. You can skip the nastier details, of course, but you must make sure that he knows that he is wanted and that he is loved. I will be here, to educate him on his heritage. And if he does, at the onset of puberty, present as a wolf, then I will train him to have perfect control.”
“And if he doesn’t present as a wolf?”
“Well, Anne, there is the possibility of him passing along the trait to any children that he does produce. I have a human sister and a human son, so genetics are just as capricious in werewolves as in humans. Of course, he may choose to receive the bite when he is older if he does not present naturally. That is always an option. Either way, I would be happy if you would allow your family to join our family whenever possible. I know neither one of you have close family anymore. You can consider us extended family for all of you, not just Jackson.
“I’m sorry this was such a shock for you both, but imagine how much worse it could have been if he had presented and you had no advanced warning. And I couldn’t just tell you, you had to be shown.”
David frowned. “Will he turn into a…animal? Like you did?”
Talia shook her head in negative. “Being able to shift into full wolf is a Hale trait, but it’s rare. I can do it, and my grandmother could do it, and her great-grandmother could do it. It skips around, and certain circumstances must be met. But the glowing eyes and fangs and claws? That is possible.”
Anne laughed. “Oh, good! He won’t shed!”
Monday Afternoon, December 20
Derek panted lightly, trying not to throw up. The scent of bad perfume was heavy in the enclosed space, and the air was heavy.
Oh, and there was a half-naked woman trying to rid him of his own clothes.
The sun was beginning to set, and as a ‘romantic’ scene, Kate had chosen the industrial park—and her SUV.
Kate was currently sitting in the driver’s seat, but leaning over into Derek’s space. She had one hand buried in his hair at the back of his head, and she was nibbling on his ear as the other hand fumbled with Derek’s belt buckle.
He had his eyes squeezed shut tight, and he was thinking about baking cookies with Stiles and his siblings.
Kate must have thought that his panting meant that he liked what was going on, because she let out a gravely moan. “You are so pretty, boy. So strong and big. I bet you have so much stamina.”
Derek felt the bile rise in his throat.
“I bet you’re a real animal when you get going….”
Derek was about to lose his lunch when he heard the blip of a police siren, and he opened his eyes to see flashing red and blue lights outside the driver’s window.
“Shit!” Kate began scrambling back into her seat and into her clothes.
Derek could see his rescuer—the Sheriff himself—approaching the SUV, while his partner walked around to the passenger side door.
“Alright, people, this is not Lover’s Lane. Open the doors, and present your identification!”
Derek jerked away from Kate and jerked the door open. He smiled in relief as he saw Deputy Reed standing sternly beside the vehicle. Never had he been as glad to have a newly printed Training-Driver permit in his possession. He had to wear special contact lenses to have the photo taken, but the bother was worth it. He handed his ID to the deputy and listened to Kate try to BS the Sheriff.
“…weren’t really hurting anyone, officer. I’m sorry about this. Why don’t I just take my boyfriend back to my place, okay?”
“Just give me your ID, ma’am, and let me do my job. And it’s Sheriff, not officer, thanks.”
“Sheriff?” Reed called from the other side of the SUV, “This is Talia Hale’s kid. He’s fifteen years old, and I bet his mother has no idea where he is.”
“Fifteen, huh?” The Sheriff huffed in judgement. “Well, Miss Taylor’s ID says she’s twenty-three. I’d say that’s a bit of a problem. Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to turn around and put your hands behind your back.”
“What?” Kate stammered. “Why? For a little slap-and-tickle? We weren’t hurting anyone!”
Derek could hear the snap as the Sheriff locked handcuffs around Kate’s wrists, and then he heard the scuffle of Kate being placed in the back seat of the cruiser. Deputy Reed was dialing Derek’s mother on the cruiser’s satellite phone, so Derek took a seat on the ground beside the SUV, lowered his head to his knees, and took a deep breath.
“Derek? Your mom will be here in five minutes. Are you okay?”
Derek looked up at the Deputy. “I think I’m gonna be fine, thanks.”
Then next morning, Talia held Derek home from school. Derek kept busy by knitting his mother’s Christmas gift in his room, so time passed quickly. At lunch-time, a knock on his door had Derek scrambling to hide his project in his closet before his mother came in.
“So, the Sheriff called. After I picked you up yesterday, the Sheriff and Deputy Reed searched that vehicle. They found a hidden compartment with four false identifications. The most accurate one—that we could figure—has her name as Kate Argent, aged twenty-eight. They also found three unregistered handguns, a sniper rifle, fire-arm ammunition—hand packed—and a crossbow and full quiver of bolts.”
Talia hugged Derek close and hard. “I’m so proud of you, my bright boy. Let’s go have some cocoa!”
Derek nodded. “Yeah, cocoa sounds really good.”
Chapter Seven: Watch the Ripples Change Their Size
Title is from “Changes” by David Bowie.
This is a series of timestamps to progress through the ‘past’
This is my head canon. I can’t save everybody, and frankly, I don’t want to.
BTW–There is a teeny,tiny Easter Egg in here—let’s see who can find it!
December 20, 2004
On the day of Kate Argent’s arrest, Kate’s brother Christopher received a phone call from the Matriarch of the Calaveras Hunting Family, Nona Vera Anita Calaveras. She called to inform him of actions being taken against Kate because of criminal activity.
“Your sister took on the guise of a High School teacher, and proceeded to seduce one of her students. The student in question was the son of the local Alpha. Ms. Argent’s goal was to gain information to eradicate as much of the Pack at one time as possible. She gained information about setting fires that looked accidental, and I believe she was preparing to trap the Pack in their home and burn them all alive. She was even targeting the children and the humans.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Your sister was arrested today after being caught in the act with the teenage boy. Human law is taking care of her now. You now have the choice of standing with her as your Family Honor demands, or to distance yourself and your family from her and retain your own personal honor.”
“My father will demand that I stand with her.”
“Your father’s hands are not clean, either, Mr. Argent. You were raised a Hunter. You were raised to follow a Code; an informal law to not kill until a wolf has killed. Your father has long since broken that Code, and he has pulled his daughter into his web. They both are trapped. You have a chance to survive unscathed. When you make your choice, let me know. Other Hunter Clans are awaiting the outcome of Ms. Argent’s legal troubles.”
December 25, 2004
Christmas was a large family affair in Beacon Hills. It started with a small Mass performed in Claudia Stilinski’s hospital room that was attended by John and Stiles Stilinski, Melissa and Scott McCall, Robert and Derek Hale, and Robert’s sister Regan Talbot and her husband Laurence. Small gifts were exchanged, and pleasant conversation flowed among all of the adults. Stiles proudly showed off the star he and his mother made for the tree topper, and Derek and Scott dutifully praised the efforts.
That evening, the Hales invited the Stilinski’s and McCalls to dinner at the Hale house to celebrate Derek’s sixteenth birthday. Scott enjoyed meeting Stiles’ new friends. Derek was finally old enough to drive, so his parents gifted him with a new/used car: a 2000 Suzuki Samurai. It was sporty enough to be considered cool, and Derek loved the idea that he would not have to rely on family for rides to school and practice.
The cookies that Stiles made were such a huge hit with the Hale family that Regan begged to be allowed to use the recipes for the Hale restaurant. Stiles refused, because the recipe book was his mother’s, and her grandmother’s before her, and it was precious to her—and therefore it was precious to him. Regan then offered a compromise to Stiles and John: She would pay for ingredients and supply the Hale family kitchen and Derek’s supervision, and she would pay Stiles to bake cookies one day a week, every week.
The Sheriff agreed to consider the offer after he consulted with Claudia.
In the end, both Claudia and John agreed to allow Stiles to bake for pay, every Friday afternoon after school, as long as his schoolwork did not suffer. Derek would serve as kitchen supervisor, and he would get paid as well. John would withhold ‘taxes’ on Stiles’ pay—and put the money aside for Stiles’ sixteenth birthday, when he would be legally old enough to hold a job—and Stiles would become the first of his friends to have a legitimate after-school job.
Laura spent the Christmas holiday with her Uncle Frederick in Arizona, where she spent most of her time deciding what to do with her life. She agreed to take the exam for early graduation, and she would return to Arizona in April, where Frederick would provide work in his law office. Laura would be allowed to attend college classes in the fall, once she decided where her path now lay.
December 28, 2004
David and Anne Whittemore made the most of the Christmas holiday. Neither one had close relatives nearby, so they took Jackson skiing and snowboarding in Nevada. Once they got home, they took their son into the lounge and prepared for the most agonizing discussion they never wanted to have.
“Am I in trouble?”
“No, Jackson. You know we love you, right?”
“Yeah. I love you, too.”
“When you were born, we were the happiest people alive. You make our family complete in every way. But, you are not ours, not biologically.”
“I’m adopted? Did my parents not want me?”
“No, Jackson! Don’t think that! Your parents wanted you very much. WE wanted you very much. But your birth parents were in a bad car accident, and they were killed. Your mother lived only long enough to give birth. But your mom was there at the hospital, and she was there when you were born.”
“Jackson, honey, as soon as I saw you, I wanted you. I called your dad and told him that I wasn’t leaving the hospital without you, so he should do everything he could to make sure you were going to be ours. You were only ever the first choice for us.”
“So you didn’t just pity me?”
“No….god, no, Jackson. I wasn’t ready to be a father. I’ll be honest. We just moved here. We hadn’t been married long. I just started my job, and we had no support system in the area. But when I got to that hospital and I held you for the first time, I felt like a father. You looked at me and grabbed my finger and I was hooked. I didn’t know I could love that much!”
“So, I got the best family, right? The kind that picked me instead of the kind that got stuck with me?”
“Jackson, you have more than that. You have a lot of people that care about you. Your father and I recently found out that the person that we thought was your birth father—the man who died in the accident—was not the right birth father. The man who donated the genetic material is still alive.”
“He’s not going to take me away is he?”
“No. He’s married and getting ready to have a baby in the fall. He does want to get to know you. Maybe be like a weird uncle, or something. His family is really nice, and they all want to get to know you.”
“Do I have to?”
“We think it’ll be for the best. You have this whole other family to call your own, now.”
“But what about you guys?”
“Oh, they want to include us as well. We’ll visit together; maybe have cook-outs together. You’ll have a bigger cheering section at the Little League games now. It will all work out, Jackson. And if you have any problems at all, you can talk to your mother and me. We’re still your biggest fans.”
December 30, 2004
Kate Argent is charged with Carrying a Concealed Weapon, Carrying an Unregistered Weapon, Transporting an Assault Weapon, Transporting a Loaded Weapon, Criminal Misconduct with a Minor, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor, and Transporting Illegal Ammunition.
Gerard Argent was the first person she called. He got in touch with a Hunter-affiliated lawyer, Randolph Larouxe, and placed a $20,000 retainer for Kate’s legal care.
Before Larouxe could travel to meet with Kate Argent to discuss her legal strategy, he received a phone call from Nona Vera Anita Calaveras.
“We received anonymous information that Kate Argent was seeking information about setting fires without indicating arson. She is believed to be targeting the entire Hale Pack, including children and humans. She has shown to have a pattern of seducing young pack members before attacking the pack at large. The Hunter clans are circling the wagons in this instance.”
It was then that Larouxe got the chance to see the charges being brought against the female Hunter. After reading the list of charges, and the possible penalties, Larouxe returned the entire retainer to Gerard Argent, telling him that no decent Hunter lawyer would touch the case, and any indecent lawyer would do more harm than good.
Word of the accusations, and of the proof, spread far and wide. Major Hunter clans began to separate themselves from the Argents. Gerard Argent, once feared and respected, soon found that the only assistance he could get came from young, inexperienced, hot-headed youths on the fringe of Hunter society. Most were outcasts themselves, often with criminal histories.
December 31, 2004
Talia Hale offered to host Stiles and Scott McCall for a New Year’s Eve party, as both their parents had to work. She promised to bring both boys to the hospital the next day. Stiles, Scott, and the Hale children made popcorn and pizzas, played board games and card games, and watched the 1966 Batman movie (campy but fun), and they lit sparklers at midnight to celebrate the new year.
January 25, 2005
On the day of the ‘original’ Hale Fire, Kate Argent was finally sentenced for her very human crimes. When all was said and done, Kate Argent was convicted of most charges and sentenced to two years for Carrying Concealed, Carrying Assault, Transporting Assault, and Criminal Mischief.
She was fined $6000 for Concealed Weapon and $6000 for Carrying Assault.
She was placed on a nation-wide Terrorist watch list.
She was also placed on a nation-wide Sex Offender list.
Once she is released, Kate Argent will be prohibited from being near any children under the age of eighteen years. Including her beloved niece, Allison.
January 30, 2005
Claudia Stilinski lost her fight with dementia, and passed away.
She was in the company of her husband and son. She had, over the course of the last month, had many visitors to her hospital room. Every Sheriff’s Deputy came to visit and pay respects. Every nurse on the late shift made their way into her room at some point in the night, to make sure her rest was calm.
Stiles would do homework in her room after classes began for the new semester, and he would tell her what he was learning.
John began taking shorter shifts in order to spend meal times with his wife.
By January 10th, Claudia was losing time more and more often. John would arrive to find her speaking with shadows, or listening to the potted plants.
Sometimes she wouldn’t seem to know him at all.
He would sit at her bedside and talk to her, never knowing if she could hear him—or even if she could understand him.
“You’ll be so proud of Ignacek. He grows up so strong. I know he’s scrawny now, but Claudia, I’ve seen him. He’ll be so tall and handsome. And he’ll be smart and cunning, too. And he’s magical. I know we always had high hopes for him, but he’s going to exceed every wish we ever had.”
Claudia’s funeral was attended by the entire Hale family, and several people John had never met before. He figured they must be other Pack members. He was honored that they came to show respect for his loss.
February 1, 2005
Donna Maria Vasquez arrived in Beacon Hills to take position as lead Librarian at the Beacon County Library.
She was also there to write a book about the Beacon Hills Preserve and the Surrounding Eco-system. It was a wordy title, but she liked it.
Her first order of business was to take her cat to the local vet for a checkup.
The vet did not pass muster.
“When did you stop caring about your duties as Emissary?”
“I have never ignored my duties.”
“You had knowledge of the Argent woman, and you never passed the information to your Alpha. I would consider that dereliction of duties.”
“Everything worked out for the best in that situation.”
“Were you also aware of Deucalion’s misfortune with Gerard Argent last summer?”
“I was not unaware that an Alpha was harmed.”
“You are aware of my purpose here, I assume?”
“You are here to replace me as the Hale Pack’s balance-keeper.”
“No. I’m here to heal the power centers. I’m here to train the new Emissary. I am not here to be your replacement, I am here to find and nurture your replacement. There is no place for balance-keepers here. If you have not found the source of the imbalance, you have not done your job.”
Donna Maria first encounters Stiles Stilinski in the Library on February 7th, when he asks politely for help finding a book for a history project. She is immediately struck by how strong his ‘spark’ is.
She confirms the presence of magic with the Sheriff and Alpha Hale, and she agrees to train Stiles with the Sheriff’s permission. John fingers his own hand-written copy of futureStiles’ list and agrees, and he and Talia plan to introduce Stiles to magic and werewolves.
***Derek has begun to take Stiles along for knitting lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays. At first Stiles has difficulty concentrating, but Derek and the ladies Whitaker and Kellogg are patient and kind, and soon Stiles has begun a scarf.
Stiles begins to attend Derek’s basketball games with the Hales, and he cheers the loudest when the team scores.
Derek takes time on Friday Bake Night to tutor Stiles in History. He learns that Stiles has no trouble learning the material, he just gets distracted because of his ADHD. (I can look stuff up for a paper or a test, but then I keep finding more and more interesting things, and I can’t stop!) Derek suggests that exercise might help.
“Look, you said you got more done late on Sunday nights before school than after right after school or early in the mornings. Maybe if you got physical with a sport or something, your body will be tired enough to let your brain work.”
“But I’m clumsy! I’m lousy at PE, and the only reason I do sports there is because I have to.”
“Okay. How about this: I’ll cut back on the hospital stuff—not Monday and Wednesday—and I’ll pick you up after school and we’ll go running around the track. And I bet if you ask, your dad will run with you in the mornings before work and school on the days he has early shift. That way, your body will be tired, but your brain will be getting all that extra blood circulation.”
“Fine, but we’ll start slow!”
February 14, 2005
Talia Hale has made arrangements for the Stilinskis and the Whittemores to visit the Hale house to introduce the boys to their new realities. David Whittemore is surprised to find the Sheriff there, but the two boys greet each other easily. They have a few classes together in school, so they talk about homework until they are called into Talia’s office.
“Hey, Jackson? Does this remind you of getting called to see the principal?”
“I thought it was just me.”
Talia waited until the boys were seated and then asked “Do the parents want to stay, or would you all rather I dealt with all of the questions by myself?”
The Sheriff smirked. “Oh, as much as I want to leave, I think Stiles will handle this better if I’m here”
The Whittemores nodded in agreement, so Talia seated herself on the coffee table in front of Jackson and Stiles and clasped her hands together.
“Boys, I want to tell you something totally serious: There is magic in the world and both of you are part of it.”
David Whittemore snorted. “You couldn’t have used that approach with us?”
“You’re older; I figured you could handle it. Now, Jackson, I know you were recently told that you were adopted. You do understand that your parents love you very much and would never give you up, no matter what?”
“Yes, ma’am. We had a long talk about it. They even said my real dad wasn’t going to try to take me away.”
“No, he’s not. But there is something about him that you should know. He’s my brother, Peter. He lives here in this house with his new wife, and he will raise his family here with my family. The Hale family is very special. We can trace our bloodlines farther back than when the white settlers came to California. We are an old people, and we are magic. We are werewolves.”
“No Way!” “No!”
Both boys were shocked.
“I can prove it. Most of my family are werewolves, although there are humans born to us as well. I’m telling you because you share my blood, Jackson. When you are older, and your body starts to change, it is possible that you will present as a wolf. You parents know this, and they are willing to allow you to spend time with us so you can learn about the family and Pack. If you do present, I will train you to control your wolf. If you don’t present, then you will still have the Hales as extended family, and when you are older you may choose to take the bite and become like us.”
Jackson narrowed his eyes. “Show me. I won’t believe it until you show me.”
Talia nodded. “Alright. I’ll show you the beta-shift. It’s a half-shift.”
Talia straightened her posture and let her eyes glow Alpha-red. The boys gasped as her face shifted; her eyebrows disappeared and her brow bone broadened, her teeth grew to fangs, her jaw lengthened. Stiles leaned forward in his seat.
“Can I touch?” Stiles asked as he reached a hand forward.
Stiles reverently brushed a finger across Talia’s brow, feeling the hard ridge of the new structure. Jackson’s shock dropped away from him, and he leaned forward to touch Talia’s jaw line.
“That is so cool! And your brother can do this, too?”
Talia shifted back. “Yes, Peter is a wolf, as are my other brother Frederick, my husband, and three of my children.”
Stiles looked curious. “Which three?”
Talia smirked. “Laura, Derek, and Cora. I have a human sister, Regan, and her child is wolf.”
“So, Jackson could possibly do this?” Stiles asked shrewdly.
“It’s possible. It’s definitely something we need to watch out for. Jackson? Do you have questions?”
“Does this make me a freak?”
David Whittemore answered before anyone else could. “It makes you special. You will only ever be a freak if you allow your fears to get the better of you. We’re here so you can learn about your heritage. Someday, you’ll get married and have a family. Some of your future children may be werewolves. The more you learn, the better off everyone will be.”
Jackson nodded. “Can I, maybe, talk to Peter? With my mom and dad, too?”
Talia rose and walked to the door. She opened it and gestured to the Whittemores. “Peter is in the kitchen, hopefully making tea or cocoa. He knows you might want to speak to him, so he’ll be waiting for you. Jackson, you and your parents are all welcome members of the family.”
As the Whittemores exited the office, Talia motioned for a strange woman to enter.
Stiles looked at her in askance. “Is this where you tell me I’m a werewolf and this woman is my real mother?”
Talia and the Sheriff laughed.
“No, Stiles. This is Donna Maria Vasquez. She’s the new librarian in town, but she’s also a Druid Practitioner. She’s like a witch. You, my dear, dear boy have a spark of magic in you, and it could be quite strong. Your father and I agree that special training is necessary. Donna Maria has agreed to train you to control and use your magic, and one day, if you want, you will become Emissary for the Hale Pack.”
“I have magic? Could I have used it to fix my mother?”
Donna Maria shook her head gently. “No, Stiles. Sometimes things happen, and we have no control over them.”
“Good. Because it would have sucked if I had the power to fix her and didn’t know how to use it. How are we going to train?”
Donna Maria held out her hand for Stiles to take. “We are going to practice meditation a lot. I’ve been told that you have ADHD, and have a hard time concentrating. Meditation will not come easy for you. I also have many exercises for you to do.”
“Like running? I’m doing that with Derek and my dad now. I seem to be able to concentrate better if I’m a bit tired.”
“No, the exercises are mental, not physical. Come with me, I have something to show you.”
Stiles looked to his father for permission, and when John nodded in approval, Stiles took her hand. Donna Maria led him into the preserve, deeper in the woods than he had ever been before. After they had walked for twenty minutes, and the only sound they could hear was the occasional bird call, Donna Maria spoke again.
“I’m going to teach you how to hear nature. Not just the animal noises, but also the shift in the weather, the passing of energy in the world around you. You will train to sense when an animal is in trouble, or when a storm is approaching, or even when the people you love are in danger or are ill. If you choose the Emissary Path, as I hope you will, you will be tied to the Pack at a cellular level. Everything you love about Beacon Hills will be magnified to you. You will be the public face of the Pack. Anyone wanting to negotiate treaties of passage or marriage or peace will come to you first, and you will be able to sense their true motives.”
“Kinda like Spiderman?”
“More like Jean Grey. You won’t be able to read minds, but you will see their souls.”
Soon they arrived at a clearing in the woods, at the center of which was a huge, dead stump, almost the size of the Sheriff’s cruiser.
“There are ley lines in the earth. Power lines for metaphysical energy. They are everywhere, because the Earth powers everything physical, metaphysical, and psychic. In various places, there are powerful conjunctions. Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Holy Palace in Tibet, these are all centers of power, where many ley lines converge. These places are called Nemetons. This place is a Nemeton, and it is for this place that Beacon Hills gets its name. This place is a beacon for supernatural occurrences. But this Nemeton was sick. For some reason, this Nemeton began to die. Only the power of the Hale Alpha has kept it from dying completely. If the Hale Alpha ever loses power, the Nemeton will die and evil could take control of Beacon Hills. I think, with the proper training, you and I can heal this Nemeton and allow it to grow again, to bring peace and prosperity back to this area. As Emissary, you will help the Hale Alpha to protect this place.”
Stiles walked forward and lay his hand on the stump. “That is so cool!”
March 1, 2005
“Hello? May I please speak to Julia Baccari?”
“This is she.”
“My name is Nona Vera Anita Calaveras. I am the Matriarch of the Calaveras Clan of Hunters. I am calling with a warning for you.”
“Our pack has done nothing to warrant a warning from Hunters.”
“No—but your Pack Alpha, Kali Steele, has fallen in with Alpha Deucalion of the Dark Forest Pack.”
“Yes, he has been here. What of it?”
“The man was blinded by a Hunter. He burns with hatred and the need for revenge.”
“I know he is angry, but he seems to be handling things well.”
“Have you spoken to his Emissary?”
“No, there has been no contact.”
“That is because the Emissary is dead. Dark Forest is dead. Deucalion has found that he will gain power by killing Betas. He has taken to turning humans, training them, and then killing them. The slaughter of his Emissary has sealed his fate—he is a hunted Alpha.”
“Why have you called me?”
“We believe you and your Pack are now in danger. We believe Deucalion has convinced Kali Steele to gain power the same way he has.”
“What do you suggest I do?”
“Take your weakest Betas and run. Send the strongest to other packs. Do not risk their lives because you love Kali. It will mean your end.”
May 30, 2005
On the last day of the school year, a barbecue and bonfire was held at the Hale property. Derek proudly showed off his tree house and Stiles and Scott enjoyed rifling through the comic collection. Jackson came with his best friend Danny Mahealani.
Scott had a mild asthma attack, which caused a small panic amongst the wolves, but Stiles produced a spare rescue inhaler (Scott was forever forgetting his), so everything settled.
July 4, 2005
On the Fourth of July, Stiles and Scott spent the day at the carnival, eating way too much cotton candy and riding the low-budget thrill rides. When the sun began to set and everyone gathered in the town square for fireworks, Stiles spent the dusk-time discreetly using his ‘spark’ to light sparklers. He still hadn’t told Scott about werewolves or his magic, because it was too new and too precious.
August 22, 2005
Derek gave Stiles and Scott a ride to school on the first day of Junior High (Fifth Grade, YAY!). Since the Junior High School was adjacent to the High School, it was a logical move, except for the fact that Stiles and Scott lived on the other side of town from the Hales.
After the First Day Assembly, Stiles and Scott compared schedules and were dismayed that they only shared English, lunch, and PE every day. But at lunchtime, they saw that Jackson, Danny, and Cora had the same lunch period—and they learned that they could eat outside in the covered courtyard between the two schools. Derek had the same lunch time, so they all ate together.
The lunchtime discussion turned to sports. Cora was set on trying out for both baseball and softball, reasoning that if she didn’t make one team, she would make the other. Derek was still on the basketball team, but he was also going to join the Cross Country track team. Jackson, Danny, and Scott wanted to try out for Lacrosse, and they agreed to work together on their skills.
Since Stiles had been running all spring and summer with Derek and his dad, he was most interested in Cross Country and Track and Field. Since Cross Country meets were in the fall, and Track was in the spring, neither would take much time from studying or interfere with his magical training. Stiles was not interested in Lacrosse, but Scott turned on the puppy-eyes, so Stiles agreed to think about it.
“I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much,” said Derek. “Fifth-graders rarely make the JV teams.”
This was confirmed by Mr. Finstock, who coached both the Junior Varsity and High School Varsity Lacrosse teams.
“Your bodies are way too immature for this sport. Most of you are still mostly knees and elbows, and you walk into walls when there’s a stiff breeze. If you’re really interested in Lacrosse, take a couple of years to build yourselves up. I require all of my players to be on the Cross Country team, because stamina is key. Strength training is important, too. It’s not too early to build muscle, and you can use the High School facilities for free. Just don’t try to bulk up. The Incredible Hulk would have made a lousy Lacrosse player.”
Derek’s first day of school began with every teacher giving the same speech about preparing for the SATs and the ACTs, and picking colleges.
The new French teacher was a fifty-year-old man who kept photos of his wife and dog on his desk. Still, Derek shuddered when he entered the room.
After school, Derek drove Stiles and Scott to the hospital. Scott needed to talk to his mother about the possible dangers of Cross Country running with his asthma. Stiles had no homework, but it was still Knitting Day. Scott didn’t understand the appeal, but then Scott had never needed help with his concentration or focusing on small tasks.
Much later, after dinner that evening, Derek sat down to speak with his mother about college.
Actually, Derek sat down to speak with his Alpha about future prospects.
Talia regarded her son over the top of her desk. He had grown so much since last year.
“Well, thanks to our visitor from ‘The Future’, you actually have a future to look forward to. What are your interests, Derek? What do you see yourself doing in life?”
“I love history. But I also like working with my hands. When older Stiles was here, he asked if I thought I could see myself teaching. I admit that that has appeal, but I can’t see myself teaching High Schoolers.”
“You do have a knack for relating to the children in the pediatric ward. Perhaps you’d like to teach pre-school or kindergarten?”
But Derek had been struck by the words ‘pediatric ward’. Wide-eyed, he looked at his mother.
“I think I want to go into medicine, Alpha. I think I’d like to be a pediatrician. I want to help sick kids get better.”
Talia smiled. “Well, then, we have a plan. Your grades are certainly good enough. We’ll start looking into colleges and medical schools right away. Just don’t let your grades drop, and try to enjoy being a kid for a while longer.
October 20, 2005
Cross Country training was a piece of cake for Stiles, Jackson, and Danny, but it was killing Scott. The damp fall weather had set in, and the running through the parks and woods was hard on his lungs. After his third asthma attack, Jackson took Stiles aside in the school hallway.
“Do you think getting ‘the bite’ would help him?”
Stiles frowned. “Well, if he survived it, it would make him stronger, but I don’t know if it would cure his asthma. Before we consider that, we’d have to tell his mother about wolves. Before it gets to that, let me talk to Donna Maria and see if there’s some magical herbal thing we can fix for him first. Then we can get Alpha Hale to talk to his mother. Coach was right about us still growing, so maybe the ‘bite’ isn’t right for this age. Maybe when we’re older.”
Jackson nodded. “This means you’ll have to tell Scott and his mother about magic first, you know?”
“Yeah. Not looking forward to that.”
December 25, 2005
On Derek’s seventeenth birthday, Talia took him aside in her office before their guests arrived for dinner.
“I’m so proud of you, my bright boy. You have been through troubling times in the last year and a half, and you have stood strongly through the worst of it. If you are willing, I would like to train and prepare you to be my successor as Alpha.”
“But you’re going to be around for a long time yet.”
“Yes and there is plenty of time to see you well prepared. I think you are the best choice for the Pack.”
“Then for the Pack, I agree.”
*Derek graduated second in his class, and spent the following summer training with his mother and preparing for college.
*Stiles and Donna Maria concocted an herbal inhalant that got Scott’s asthma under control. Every time he used it, he pouted because Stiles kept the magic a secret for so long. Melissa agreed to allow Scott to take the bite when he was sixteen.
*Jackson started dating Lydia Martin in freshman year of High School. She was intelligent and beautiful and looked good standing next to Jackson, but she could never understand his friendship with Stiles and Scott.
*Jackson and Danny both made the JV Lacrosse team in Seventh Grade. They worked with Scott and Stiles every weekend, and in freshman year, all four made Varsity second line. By sophomore year, Jackson and Danny had worked up to First Line.
*Stiles excelled in track and Cross Country. Long-distance running was his specialty. He ran with his father every morning; sometimes it was before both left the house for work and school, and sometimes it was when his father was coming in from late shift and was on his way to bed. They ran every day, weather permitting. Robert Hale was teaching Stiles to cook, and Stiles was still baking for the Hale Restaurant.
*In freshman year, Scott got a job with Dr. Deaton in the veterinarian clinic. Deaton was still unaware of Stiles’ magic and the fact that Stiles was training to be Emissary.
*Derek attended U.C. Berkley for two years before attending U.C. Davis Medical School. He came home every summer and trained with his mother. He also started spending time with Stiles during the summer vacations. It made sense because Stiles was training to become his future Emissary. The age difference didn’t matter when they were essentially preparing to care for and protect their territory.
By the time Stiles was in High School, both Sheriff Stilinski and Talia Hale began to notice the growing closeness of their two sons. Stiles was fourteen and Derek was nineteen, but they spoke the same language when discussing books, movies, sports (although Stiles was a die-hard Mets fan and Derek preferred the Dodgers), and other interests. They would call or Skype each other during the school year, talking about various assignments or lab work. Stiles was beginning to plan for his future, and he really wanted to study Library Sciences. He was known as a research king, and upperclassmen were paying him to help research term papers. The Sheriff allowed it because Stiles wasn’t actually writing the papers. And Stiles’ favorite new place was the Hale private library. When Derek was home visiting, the two would lock themselves away amongst the old books and get lost for hours.
Finally Talia took the Sheriff aside for a semi-serious talk.
“I think we both know where this is heading, John. But you have to know, Derek would never be inappropriate with Stiles. Not with his past.”
“I’m not worried about it, Talia. I guess I’m just shocked. I mean, Stiles had a crush on Lydia Martin from Third Grade. He was still crushing a bit even though she started dating Jackson Whittemore. So this interest in Derek is…unexpected. But, I do approve of the match, if they are actually making a match.”
“I approve as well, as long as they take things slowly. Derek has a long education experience ahead of him, and Stiles still hasn’t figured out what he wants to do after High School.”
“So—do we chaperone? Or trust them?”
“I think we can trust them. After what happened with Peter, not to mention the Kate Argent disaster, I think we can trust them. They may progress to holding hands soon. Maybe a light kiss or two. But I don’t think we need to chaperone them. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t involve them in more ‘family’ dates. Group movie nights during vacations, perhaps.”
John nodded in agreement. “Dinners as well. Stiles is becoming quite a good cook. I have trouble believing that some of the stuff he makes is healthy most of the time.”
Chapter Eight: Face the Future With a Weary Past
Finally the end. Don’t ask for a sequel, I’m not sure I’m up to it.
Title come from the song “Hard To Say” by Dan Fogelberg.
Many thanks to the readers that have posted links to the songs that I’ve mentioned. I would have never thought to do it, but the songs made sense in my head, so I mentioned them in case anyone was curious. As always–thanks for reading, and thanks for the comments. They mean the world to me.
John and Derek watched helplessly as Stiles gasped, and then laid still. They could feel his feverish skin burning, but the rosy red glow of fever was washing away.
In fact, all color in Stiles’ skin was washing away. His dark brown hair faded to ashy grey. His skin took on the color of paste. The moles on his skin faded to taupe. Stiles began to look like the subject of a black-and-white photograph.
And then, right before their eyes, Stiles faded completely, into just a shadow…..
Mere moments passed as the two men stared with dread at the shadow that was a young may they both cared for thrashed and moaned in distress.
Inside Stiles’ mind, memories flashed in a long dream like a slide show, images superimposed over one another until the original picture was unrecognizable.
**A grave-side vigil with his father became a celebration of life filled with friends.
**Lonely school-time lunches became laughter- and conversation-filled gatherings in a covered courtyard.
**Sitting on the sideline bench during Lacrosse games became running down the field looking for an open shot.
**Wistfully gazing at a beautiful, aloof read-head in class became hotly debating topics in the latest science digest while boyfriend and best-friend tried and failed to keep up.
**Running scared from a supernatural terror became dancing to a loud song on an I-pad while watching a fast game of Werewolf Tag.
**Throwing Molotov Cocktails at Peter Hale turned into tossing a bubblegum cigar at Peter Hale in congratulations for his newborn son.
**Dolefully poking through the ruins of a dilapidated Hale House turned into wandering through a Hale Holiday party, tossing fake mistletoe at couples in every room.
**Skeptically accepting a bag of Mountain Ash from Dr. Deaton turned into pressing loving energy into an old tree stump with Donna Maria by his side, and watching new growth appear.
**Listening to a jealous Jackson threaten Scott to find out his secrets turned into standing by the Sheriff and Donna Maria as the Whittemores and Melissa McCall anxiously witness a large black wolf biting and turning their sons into werewolves in the August before Junior Year.
**Running from an out-of-control Scott as he raged through his second transformation turned into playing Scent-and-Seek with Jackson and Scott on the Hale property during their first Full Moon.
**Seeing a grudging respect for the Human-Who-Won’t-Let-Well-Enough-Alone—and who saved his life many times—turning to full respect and appreciation for the Boy-Who-Changed-Everything, and then turning further into affection and attraction as Stiles’ natural intelligence and humor and kindness developed as he grew older.
**Standing by anxiously as an Alpha Werewolf explained to the Sheriff the truth about the existence of the supernatural world turned into standing by anxiously as a twenty-year-old Alpha-in-training explained to the Sheriff that he was seeking permission to formally court his fifteen-year-old son.
**Running past exhaustion through the woods to save his kidnapped father from a crazed ex-Druid turned into running past exhaustions through the woods and crossing the finish line in third place in the Regional Cross Country championship match.
After only seconds, color and substance returned to the figure on the hospital bed. Stiles began sweating as the fever finally broke and his body struggled to heal. He whimpered in pain and exhaustion, eyelids flickering open and closed over and over.
Derek stood from his bedside position and moved to the door. “I’ll get the doctor and tell everyone that the fever seems to finally be gone.”
John nodded, tightening his grip on his son’s hand. “Don’t be too long. He’ll want you here when he wakes up.”
As soon as Derek cleared the doorway, Stiles bleary eyes opened, watery and unfocused.
“I’m here, son. I’m so glad to see you awake.”
John reached for the ever-present bowl of ice chips to ease Stiles’ throat. He carefully spooned a few chips into Stiles’ mouth.
Stiles swallowed, and then asked for a few more. “Where….cough…where am I?”
“You’re in the hospital. You’ve been very sick for the last few days.”
Stiles blinked, trying to clear his vision. “Why am I dopey?”
John laughed. “Oh, son, there are so many answers to that question. You had a dangerously high fever. You’ve been in and out of consciousness for three days.”
“I called him when I had to admit you. He drove home straight away. I imagine he has a lot of make-up work to do when he gets back to school?”
“School? Wha’ about Scott?”
“I think he went to the cafeteria with his mother for food and coffee. He’s been here almost the whole time. Jackson has been in and out, as well.”
Confusion filled Stiles’ face, and John gave him more ice chips to give him time to process what was said. The doctor came in and examined Stiles as thoroughly as he could, checking vital signs and asking questions. Stiles passed on ‘Who is the president of the United States’, but failed on ‘What day is it’.
“Sorry, doc,” said John apologetically. “We haven’t covered that yet. We’re still catching up.”
“Alright. I’ll leave you to it, then. Just let him get some rest, okay?”
“Yeah. I just need to make sure he’s up to standards of Stiles-ness. Then I’ll go.”
John figured he had a few more minutes alone with his son before Derek fetched Scott and Melissa McCall from the cafeteria. He could tell Stiles had some serious questions, and he wanted to make sure the answers made sense to the boy.
Stiles reached for the bed control to lift his head in a semi-reclining position so he could see his father better.
“I had the weirdest dream.”
John quirked an eyebrow. “Do tell?”
“I, uh, dreamed that I went back in time. Things are still rattling around in my head right now.”
John leveled a serious look at his son, and then he leaned forward to retrieve his wallet from his back pocket. Opening it, he removed a much re-folded, faded piece of paper.
“How are your eyes,” He asked, as he handed the paper to his son.
Stiles unfolded the sheet and stared at the words printed in his father’s own hand-writing.
Things Stiles Knows
1) Kate Argent takes Derek Hale’s virginity on Dec. 20, 2004, in the backseat of her car on Old Ridgeway Rd, in the warehouse district.
2) Kate Argent approached Adrian Harris in a club in Oakway, and got him to tell her all about how to start a fire so that it wouldn’t look like arson.
3) Adrian Harris is an ass, and he likes young women, but he would never consciously aid in committing arson—or any crime—and he feels awful after the fire (but he has no idea until my Junior year that he actually helped with that crime)
Stiles’ mouth dropped open as he read the list. All of these things, and he barely remembered any of it. And what he did remember was fading, or was mixed up so that the facts were different. His memories were hazy, and then they were clear…but they didn’t match anything on the list.
“I wrote my own list, and so did Deputy Reed. Talia Hale had the original list, but gradually over the past six years, things on the list began to fade away like they had never been written. Yesterday, when Deputy Reed came to visit you, he showed me his list. It was fading, too. I figure mine will fade away into nothing soon, now that I showed it to you.”
“What about Isaac?”
“Well, I expect that he has the flu, just like most of the people in town. You should see it out there—it’s really creepy. Like End-of-the-World creepy. The whole county is working by skeleton crew only. They say it’s the worst flu epidemic in decades.”
“Oh, well, on the day of the State Swimming Championships, I made a patrol schedule, and Deputy Reed and I were driving by the Lahey’s house when we noticed a lot of activity and noise. When we approached, we noticed the backyard and pool area were littered with beer bottles and excited teenagers. Of course, we made our presence known, because Mr. Lahey was nowhere to be found.”
“So, a lot of kids got into trouble, huh?”
“Oh, yeah. And a lot of parents were very disappointed in their swim champs. Lahey was charged with misdemeanor Contributing to the Delinquency of Minors and paid a stiff fine. No more parties, of course, but the swim team has done spectacularly well the last few years. Isaac is doing as well in the backstroke as his brother did.”
Stiles nodded. “And, um, Scott is dating…?”
“Cora Hale, much to everyone’s amusement. She’s such a tomboy most of the time, but she let’s Scott act the gentleman with her.”
Stiles’ brow furrowed in concentration. John could tell that memories were clicking into place for him. He took back the list and looked at it. The words were fading, but the fold creases remained. “And Derek is…?”
“Attending medical school at U.C. Davis. It’s only two hours away, so he’s here on weekends when he can be. That might change soon, when he starts hospital rotations. He’s in his third year, so the clinicals have begun. And he was talking about taking extra credit work in the student-run clinic near campus. We’re all really proud of him.”
Stiles nodded in agreement. “Yeah, he’s going to make a great doctor.”
“Stiles, you know you can still back out, right? When Derek asked permission to formally court you, I made sure he understood that you could change your mind at any time. You’re young. You should be allowed to date around and live a little.”
“No! Dad, no! Derek is…well, Derek is—not everything, not yet, but he’s wonderful. He’s attentive and generous with his time. And he’s supportive of the magic thing. And he always knows when to call me. I know time is going to get really precious for him, and I want that—I want him to study and work hard so he can graduate and become the bestest doctor ever. And I like the courting. It’s old-fashioned, but it’s nice. I know that he really appreciates me.”
A shadow fell across the bed from the doorway, and Derek entered the room, followed by the McCalls.
“I’m glad you’re enjoying the courtship rituals,” Derek said sardonically. “I think Lydia is jealous. Jackson has been bugging Dad for hints about werewolf courting, since he worked so hard to get Mom.”
Melissa frowned as she kissed Stiles’ forehead. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to ask Peter? He is the one who fathered Jackson.”
Derek shook his head. “Peter was the court-ee, not the court-er. Amanda practically bribed Peter to accept troth from her; she had such a huge crush on him. I’m just glad he saw sense and accepted her. She and Nicky are good for Peter.”
Stiles reached out a hand, and Derek reached back and linked their fingers.
“I’m sorry I made you skip classes to drive home.”
Derek kissed the back of Stiles’ knuckles. “I’m not sorry. I explained to my advisor that most of the town was hit with the flu and that my ‘intended’ was in the hospital. He told me to get on the road, and that he would inform my professors about my absence. There are a lot of flu cases on campus as well. I needed to be with you.”
“Dude, gross!” Scott declared with a laugh. “You guys get so sappy!”
Melissa slapped Scott across the back of his head. “I think it’s sweet. Now, Stiles is on the mend, so I think we should let him rest. I have to get some sleep myself, before my shift tomorrow.” She kissed Stiles again, on the cheek. “Good night sweetie. I’m glad you’re out of the woods finally.”
Stiles had been home for a week, and he was so tired of lying around. First the hospital bed, then his bed, then the sofa. Horizontal was boring! And television had long ago lost its appeal. There were only so many talk-shows one could stomach before one began to long for a high fever again.
Stiles was currently sitting at the dining room table, laptop open and notebooks scattered around him. Donna Maria had given him an assignment to list ways of using his magic to make his way in the world. Not, like, magic-ing lottery tickets or anything, but finding a way to use his spark in everyday life and not just for emergency purposes. Stiles was taking the assignment as an opportunity for planning his actual future. He had been giving colleges some consideration, and was trying to think of a course of study. He didn’t want to travel far from home. Donna Maria could hold the fort for him while he was away, but he felt anchored in Beacon Hills. And that was a good thing.
Stiles was totally committed to becoming the Emissary for the Beacon Hills Pack. He had his father here, and his friends, and while people might move away for short periods, Stiles knew they would all find their way back.
Jackson Whittemore was thinking about law school, to follow in his father’s footsteps, and Scott was totally in love with the idea of taking over the veterinary practice some day. Derek would, of course, be returning to Beacon Hills after he added MD to the end of his name, though whether he went into private practice or strictly worked at the hospital was as yet undetermined.
Stiles’ non-werewolf friends were probably going to stick around as well. Danny Mahealani wanted to become a teacher, and Lydia Martin wanted to take over the world—but she would most likely rule from Beacon Hills.
They might only be Juniors in High School, but now was when plans got made, right?
And right now, Stiles was planning which business school he wanted most to attend. Santa Clara, Berkeley, and Stanford were high on his list. Money wasn’t a problem on many levels, thanks to the Hales.
For one thing, they wanted to support their future Emissary, even though Stiles and his dad didn’t want them to foot the whole bill—or even most of it. But the most important advantage that the Hales had given him was in investments. Peter Hale was a genius at making money. And Stiles had been making money baking for the Hales since he was ten years old. John Stilinski wanted Stiles to understand responsibility of the fiscal variety, so he took ten percent of everything Stiles earned as ‘tax’, and gave that money to Peter to be invested. When Stiles turned sixteen last spring, John and Peter presented him with a check from investment returns that was large enough for Stiles to buy a decent used car. (Six years of investments paid a lot!) So, college was partly going to be paid for using some of his investment money, partly from scholarships that Stiles was going to apply for, and partly from work/study programs. Talia Hale wanted to contribute something, so John allowed for her to give money towards books, since school books were hella expensive.
The front door opened behind him. “Stiles, I’m home!”
“In here, dad!”
John walked into the dining room. “What are you doing?”
“Researching colleges. I have it narrowed to three.”
“Okay, which three, and what are you going to major in?”
“Stanford, Berkeley, and Santa Clara—for the business programs.”
“Business? Planning on starting your own investment firm?”
Stiles chuckled. “No, I’ll leave the investments to Peter. I’m going to open a bookstore.”
John gave him a blank look. “A bookstore? In the age of Amazon and Barnes and Noble online?”
Stiles grinned. “Oh yes. I’m going to open a book and magic shop—specializing in occult studies and spell work. I don’t have it all worked out just yet, but this area doesn’t have anything like it. And with the Nemeton healing like it is, I think there is going to be a need for it in the near future. This way, I’ll be a working Wizard, able to help seekers of the Arcane, sell some cool books and trinkets, and act as Emissary all at once. Plus, if I’m the one running the shop, I can keep an eye on any practitioners and what they’re planning, to make sure nobody gets up to summoning a demon or anything. And I’ll be able to guide seekers to keep them from doing anything too dangerous accidentally.”
“Hmm, Beacon Hills’ very own Dumbledore, without the beard, huh?”
“Please!” Stiles scoffed. “Dumbledore withheld crucial information at every turn! I plan to make sure crucial information gets to the right people in order to prevent Deatheater activity!”
John leaned over and hugged his son. “Sounds like a plan. Melissa called to invite us over for dinner this evening, so you might want to consider a shower and real clothes.”
“You’re letting me get out of the house? Oh, thank god!”
John laughed. “Go ahead, complain. See if I care. You really had us all worried, Stiles. I know you were really out of it, but you came very close to permanent brain damage. I don’t think I could have dealt with it if you had been damaged like that. Your ‘spark’ is much more than the magic you can use. It’s your personality and intelligence. If we had lost that…I don’t know what we would have done.”
Stiles wrapped his arms around his father in a tight hug. “You don’t have to worry anymore, pops! I’m all better now. Nothing has changed.”