Keeper 3: Keeping Balance

Status:
  • Complete
Content Rating:
  • R
Fandom(s):
Teen Wolf

Relationship(s):
Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski

Warning(s):
  • Character Bashing
  • Death - Minor Character
  • Discussion - Murder
  • Violence - Canon-Level
Genre(s):
  • Alternate Universe
  • Episode Related
  • Pre-Relationship
Word Count:
18200

Author's Note:
AU of S3A; Originally posted as part of 2016 teenwolfbigbang on LJ.

Summary:
The Pack is becoming a family, Stiles is learning what it means to be Fey, everything would be fine, if it wasn't for the pesky problem of the bodies that keep turning up, despite the protection of the Nexus surrounding Beacon Hills. Oh Yeah, and there are decisions that need to be made about Scott's Omega status.


 

*

Stiles woke up with a start.  He wasn’t sure exactly what had woken him.  He sat in his bed and listened to the sounds of the house to see if maybe something was moving around outside his bedroom.  He couldn’t hear anything, but his hearing wasn’t as developed as most of the other members of his pack’s. Fey were more than human, but enhanced senses were not one of their abilities.  His were strengthened more than most Fey by his connection to the land to the Nexus

He wasn’t exactly a hard sleeper these days, but he wasn’t prone to paranoia either.  If a noise had startled him awake, it was probably something. He reached out his senses just through the house so he could assure himself everything was okay inside his own domain anyway.

His father was sleeping fitfully down the hall.  The neighbor’s cat was on the back porch digging around the re-planted Foxglove.  The cat wasn’t stupid and wouldn’t actually dig the plant up or harm it, but it was a curious sort and found it entertaining to dig around the roots.

Neither the cat nor his father had woken him, however.  Stiles sent his senses out farther, trying to figure out what had.  There didn’t seem to be anything amiss in the neighborhood, but something had clearly disturbed him.  He reached through his connection to the pack.

Isaac was sleeping, Derek too, but the Alpha’s was more troubled.  Peter was…meditating. Weird. Stiles would never have thought of Peter as the Zen meditating type, but, considering the amount of rage he still harbored it made sense he used some sort of relaxation techniques.  Stiles shifted his focus away from the newly built pack house and towards the other end of town. Danny was awake, researching something, it felt like.  Lydia and Jackson were…also awake.

So, his pack was all right, undisturbed.  That didn’t explain what had woken him. It’s possible it could have just been a dream he couldn’t remember, but Stiles doubted it.

He could feel something off within his little territory, but he was having trouble locking it down.  He wasn’t sure if that was just the newness of his abilities, or something more worrying.

Taking a deep breath, he decided to try and get back to sleep.  If there were something to worry about, he’d know soon enough.

*

Lucas had received the call before the sun had even risen.  He was in the kitchen drinking his second cup of coffee when Stiles entered the room.  He took one look at his father and frowned. “What happened?”

“A body was found this morning,” Lucas said mildly.

Stiles looked at his father carefully, noticing the way his father was looking at him. “Okay.”  He wasn’t really sure what the issue was exactly. Beacon Hills wasn’t precisely a village where nothing ever happened, but in the recent past, most of the body-related mischief turned out to be supernatural-related mischief.  Was this another such occurrence? Stiles really hoped not. With the Nexus up there shouldn’t be anyone coming into town with ill will. Stiles doubted that there wouldn’t be some sort of work around that, however, and so he just looked at his father.

“Who was it? What happened?”

“The coroner is still examining the body, but it’s definitely murder,”  Lucas said, and he really didn’t want to say the next part, but he knew that if he didn’t Stiles would hear about it somewhere else.  “It was Heather.”

“Heather McLean?”  Stiles asked in shock.  “I just spoke to her last week.  She invited me to her birthday party, but I…there was too much going on with Jackson and Peter, and then Scott coming by, I just…I sort of blew it off.”

“I know, son,”  Lucas said with a sigh.  He remembered when Emeline and Heather’s mom, Rachel used to hang out.

“I want to see her body,”  Stiles said suddenly.

“Why?”  Lucas looked alarmed.

“I just…I want to make sure how she died.  That’s all.” Stiles wasn’t sure he’d gain anything from looking at her body, but he needed to try.  He owed her that much. “I have a weird feeling is all.”

“Okay.  I’ll call you when Dr. Park is finished.”

*

Lucas brought Stiles into the room and closed the doors behind him.  “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Yes.”  Stiles nodded, though he wasn’t sure he wanted to see his childhood friend lying on a slab in the morgue.  Still, it needed to be done. He couldn’t quite explain why he felt so strongly about this, just that he did.

“Dr. Park said her death was unusual and unnecessarily excessive.”  Lucas began.

“How so?”  Stiles questioned, bracing himself.

“She was struck from behind, with enough force to kill her.  In addition to that, her throat was cut, and she was…strangled using some type of garrote.”

Stiles sucked in a breath.  “Three-fold death.” He whispered.

“What?”  Lucas asked.

“It was sometimes used in ritual human sacrifice in ancient times.” Stiles moved towards the body lying still and silent and carefully lifted the sheet away.  Heather looked pale. That was expected since she was dead, but that was the first thought in his head. He forced himself to lift her head so he could see where she was hit.  Her hair was matted with blood. He set her head down and examined her throat. He could see the marks from both some type of knife and whatever had been used as a garrote. He closed his eyes and touched her skin…and felt nothing.  It was as if Heather had been hollowed out. His sense of her was gone, and he was pretty sure that wasn’t normal. Something had been taken from her, some essence that should have been left behind, even in death.

“You think this was a ritual sacrifice?”  Lucas asked quietly. He hadn’t known what to think when Dr. Park gave her report, but human sacrifice hadn’t been on the list of possibilities.

“Yes.”  Stiles continued to stare at the body.  A part of him wished he could be unsure in his assessment, but he just knew that he was right.

“Who would do this?”  Lucas asked waving a hand towards the body.  “I mean, this kind of thing is specific, isn’t it?  Not just anyone would do this?”

“No.  And what are they hoping to gain?”  Stiles shook his head. “There’s more going on here, I just don’t know what.”

“Why Heather?”  Lucas mused.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it seems like they were taking a risk, with that party going on, anyone could have seen something.  So, were they taking advantage of the fact there was a party going on, with a lot of people, some of whom she may not have known personally, to get inside?”  Lucas knew how teenage parties could get out of control. He’d broken up a few.

“Or, was she targeted for another reason?  Is that what you mean?” Stiles thought about that.  He couldn’t think of any reason Heather would be targeted, but he didn’t know who was doing the killing or why.  What was their motive; their reason for going after this particular victim at this particular time? Victimology 101.

“I guess, as much as I hate to say it, we’ll have to wait for more bodies to turn up to understand the reasoning.”

Stiles blinked.  For some reason, the idea that this wasn’t a one-off occasion hadn’t really occurred to him.  “You think they’ll be more?”

“If there is one thing I learned from Emeline’s time, these sort of things are not isolated events.”

Sometimes Stiles forgot that his mother had lived in Beacon Hills for a while, and had dealt with many different species and that his father had known about it.  “I guess we will.” He whispered, but he didn’t like it, not even a little bit.

*

Stiles woke up abruptly.  He looked around his room blearily, trying to figure out what had alerted him.  The wolf sleeping near him on the bed lifted his head and stared at him in question.

“Go back to sleep,”  Stiles whispered.

Derek narrowed his eyes but laid his head back down.

Stiles lay back down and placed one hand on the fur closest to him.  He closed his eyes and concentrated, allowing his senses to go farther than he had dared the other night.  With Derek here to ground him, he could risk more.

He could feel a focused sort of energy.  He wasn’t sure exactly where it was coming from or where it was directed, but it wasn’t random.  He hadn’t felt this energy the other night when Heather was killed, but he knew that someone else had died.

His phone started to vibrate on the bedside table.  Derek lifted his head again, his left ear twitching slightly.  Stiles rubbed his flank and opened his eyes with a sigh. It was three-thirty in the morning.  No good news ever came at three-thirty in the morning.

“Yeah,”  Stiles answered quietly, not even looking at the caller ID.

“There’s a body at the pool,”  Lydia said without any preamble.

Stiles sat up and climbed off the bed.  “Who is it?”

“I don’t…Stiles, I don’t know how I got here.”

Derek grabbed the phone from Stiles.  Stiles wasn’t sure when Derek had shifted into his human skin, but he took the opportunity to change into jeans and a shirt that was fit for outdoors.  Derek was speaking softly to Lydia, in that Alpha way he was just starting to use in the past few weeks. Whatever he was saying must have been working because the lines of tension in Derek’s back were easing.

“Find out where she is,”  Stiles murmured. He didn’t bother to raise his voice, knowing the wolf would hear.

Derek nodded, and Stiles left his bedroom and entered the bathroom.  He stared at himself in the mirror for a long minute wondering what exactly was going on, and how he was going to fix it.

*

They met Lydia at the pool, and he stared at the body for a long minute, his eyes catching, for barely a second, on the purity ring before moving on to the injuries in his neck.  He couldn’t see, not from his vantage point, whether or not all the wounds were consistent with Heather’s.

“Did you call my dad?”  Stiles asked quietly.

“No.”  Lydia shook her head.  “I…Stiles, I don’t know how I got here, and…I called you.”  She took a deep breath, steadying herself. “Stiles, I know our…friendship is new, and the whole pack thing is new, and…I don’t really know what I am.”  Her voice shook.

“Hey, hey.”  Stiles put his hand against the back of her neck the way he’d seen Derek do to the wolves. “You’re a banshee.”

“Am I?”  Lydia asked.  She still wasn’t positive.  They were guessing.

Stiles looked at the corpse and then back to Lydia.  “I’d say this confirms it, Lyd.”

Lydia looked back at the blood-soaked body and thought about the weird fugue state which had brought her here to find it.  “You’re right.” She nodded decisively. “You’re our Second, Stiles.”

Stiles blinked at her in confusion. Lydia was smart.  Now that he wasn’t crushing on her so embarrassingly, he was almost reluctant to admit she was more intelligent than him, but it was true.  So, it seemed a little odd for her to be making statements that were seemingly obvious.

“You’re our Second, Stiles.”  She repeated. “When stuff like this happens, we call you.”  She explained.

“But, Derek.” Stiles offered his hand waving towards where Derek hovered just out of human hearing.

“Is our Alpha.”  Lydia cut him off.  She had no illusions that Derek had heard every bit of their conversation and was observing them both, not only for physical threats but for other, less easily seen things.  That’s what Alphas do. And regardless of what her opinion had been before because Jackson was nothing if not an unreliable narrator, she could make her own determination. Plus she could sense things now, things, she suspected were more about her own otherness, than the pack bond.  “And in a fight, I’d go to him, or if it was something that only the Alpha could decide.  Otherwise, it’s you.” She continued and looked around the darkened area. “Besides, Pack hierarchy aside, this is something I probably would have called you for anyway.  The days of calling the sheriff first are over.”

Stiles looked at all the blood and sighed.  He remembered when blood used to make him faint.  That was a long time ago. He nodded. “That’s fine.  It’s probably better we get a look before dad’s deputies, the paramedics, and the coroner are all over the scene.  I need to take a look at the blood.”

Lydia stared at Stiles, and it wasn’t the first time she’d gotten that other sense about him.  She felt him in the pack bond, which was still a relatively new experience.  Her joining with the pack was partially for Jackson, and partly for herself, but she hadn’t quite expected the complete change in thinking that would be required.  Pack-life was not a casual thing. It wasn’t something you could do only when it benefited you. You were either pack, or you weren’t, you couldn’t lie or pretend. You could maybe ignore certain things, but even then, you knew that even if you weren’t talking about something or acknowledging its existence, it was still out there, and you weren’t the only one who knew it.  The pack was made up, primarily of wolves…and she, while not a wolf, was something not human. Stiles, too, was not human, and it was at times like this that she was reminded that he wasn’t, and he wasn’t trying to pretend he was.

She nodded and turned towards her Alpha, who was watching Stiles with a single-minded focus she found amusing.  After a moment, Derek turned towards her and led her a little further away from the body. She was more than willing to leave the body to Stiles.

Stiles sat on the ground, as close to the blood pool as he could get without actually sitting in it.  “Derek.” He called. Derek came forward without any further prompting. Once he was close enough, Stiles placed a hand on Derek’s ankle.  The Fey slipped his hand under the cuff of Derek’s jeans, so he was touching skin and closed his eyes, trying to search farther than he could alone when it felt like something fundamental was missing or being blocked.

He could feel a strange sort of energy surrounding this place.  There was no evidence to back him up, but he would bet his Jeep a ritual had been performed here, he just didn’t know what kind or why.

That was almost the most frustrating bit, really.

His lessons were teaching him so many new things, but there was always more to learn.

He reached out his senses and just tried to tap into the surrounding energy.  He could feel Lydia and Derek, and bypassed their energy as unimportant for the moment and just focused on anything new or out-of-place. The life-force was draining away, and with it a certain amount of the soul’s presence, but there was another energy that he could sense.

He could feel anger.  A lot of anger, bordering on incandescent rage.  He wasn’t sure exactly what was driving the emotion, just that it was so powerful and so complete that it was blocking out other emotions.  He could also sense that something was taken from here. He wasn’t sure exactly what it was. If it was a bit of life-force or energy or something magical and unnamable, but whatever it was the killer had taken it, and it had probably joined what was stolen from Heather.

He’d seen all he could for now.

Derek watched him silently for a moment before turning back to Lydia.  She watched Stiles, her lips twisting in a slight smile, but didn’t say anything.

“Tell me what happened?”  Derek asked quietly.

“I had a nightmare.”  Lydia started. “I don’t remember it.”  She told him before he could ask her for specifics.  “I woke up screaming…”

Derek nodded.  So far, there was nothing in that explanation that was out of the ordinary.  Stiles had discovered a moderate amount of information on Banshees, and though some of the sources differed, they all seemed to agree that Banshees had a tendency to be portents to death, primarily when the death was linked to the paranormal.  Peter was reaching out to other sources to see what additional information they could track down, but so far, they only had generalizations.

“I knew I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to go to the store.  Sometimes, just driving helps when I have weird dreams, even if I can’t remember them.”

“What about Jackson?” Derek asked. “Did you wake him?  Does he know where you are?” He didn’t want his Beta to worry if he woke up to find Lydia missing.  Sure, he could sense her through the pack bond, plus whatever kind of connection the two shared, but Jackson didn’t have the best control yet, and may not react logically.

“It’s Tuesday,”  Lydia said as if that explained it.  When Derek continued to stare at her, she sighed.  “Danny and Jackson watch Danny’s siblings on Tuesday’s.  His mom volunteers and they usually work on chemistry and physics after the kids go to bed.”

Derek wasn’t sure if he was supposed to know that or not.  He was still trying to get used to Jackson and Danny and their whole lives being part of his pack and therefore family.  “Where did you go?” Derek asked, moving back to the real question, leaving his other pack members for later.

“I thought I was going to the store.  Suddenly, I was at the pool. When I realized I wasn’t where I thought I should be, I saw a body floating in the pool.  But…it turned out to be the CPR dummy. I figured I was just jumpy, then I turned around and…”

“You found the body.”  Derek sighed.

“Yeah.”  Lydia agreed.

“Did you know him?”

Lydia turned towards the body and Stiles and watched for a minute.  Stiles was sitting on the cement ground, his hand still under Derek’s pant leg, his eyes were closed, and he seemed like he was focusing far away.  She turned her attention to the dead guy and concentrate on his face and tried to see if it was familiar, but honestly, all she could feel was this pervasive echo of death that was overshadowing everything else.  She had noticed the ring on his hand and wondered if it held any importance, or if it was just another little piece of who this guy had been before someone or something had stolen his life.

“I don’t know.”  She said honestly.

“It’s alright.  We’ll figure this out.”  Derek reassured.

Before Lydia could say anything further Stiles shifted and they both turned to him.  He was still sitting on the ground, looking up at them, a grim expression on his face.

“There’s dark magic here and anger.  So much anger.” Stiles shuddered.

“At the victim?”  Derek asked, wondering if they could figure out who the killer was based on their victims; that might narrow things down.

Stiles hesitated as he thought about the feelings he’d felt. “No, I don’t believe so.  This victim was a means to an end, a sacrifice.”

“Sacrifice?”  Lydia asked. “As in Sacrificium; Something made sacred and given in offer to a deity?”

Derek stared at her, and Stiles grinned.  “Exactly that. I’ll need to take a closer look at any other bodies to see if I can detect the same kind of energy, but yeah, I think we’re looking at some sort of magic-user sacrificing people.  For what purpose, I don’t know.”

“Yet,”  Derek stated quietly.  “We haven’t figured out the purpose yet, but you will.  Peter will help.”

Stiles smiled back, relieved.  He liked the feeling of the pack that he didn’t have to do everything alone anymore.

*

Stiles finished his morning meditation and entered the kitchen for something to eat.  He liked to meditate in the morning before anything else, it helped center him. This morning he was alone.  His father was at work, and Derek and Peter had gone to get some things for the house out of a storage unit Peter had kept from before the fire.

He was putting the tea kettle on when he felt a sort of nervous energy coming through the pack bond.  He narrowed his focus on that thread and realized that not only was it coming closer, but it was coming from Jackson.  Odd. They’d gotten along okay since Jackson joined the pack, but they didn’t spend a lot of time together, usually only when the whole pack was together.

He heard the doorbell and moved towards it, wondering if something had happened to bring Derek’s first Beta to his doorstep.

“Hey,”  Stiles said opened the door and let Jackson inside.

“Hey.”  Jackson tilted his head in that way Stiles recognized from Derek as listening.

“It’s just us.”  He moved back towards the kitchen.  “You want some coffee or breakfast, or something?”

Jackson followed him and shook his head.  “No, I wanted to talk to you.”

Stiles brought his tea to the table.  “Okay.”

Jackson stared at Stiles for a minute before huffing and sitting down as well.  “It’s about Peter.”

Stiles wasn’t surprised.  Jackson had discovered, through the ceremony to join the pack that Peter was his biological father, and as far as Stiles knew the two hadn’t really talked about it since then.  Peter, he knew, was probably waiting, and watching. The whole thing had been as much of a shock for Peter as it had been for Jackson.

“Are you asking about him, or…”  Stiles questioned. He couldn’t help until he knew where Jackson’s head was at.

“Kind of.  I only have vague impressions of him from before.  I know he was the one in the School that night, and what happened the night he died, and I recall him being there the night I died, and Lydia saved me, but…it’s kind of distant.  I know what Lydia’s told me, about how he got into her head, and now…I can feel him in the pack bond, but it’s all so weird. Who is he, really?”

Stiles sighed.  Peter was complicated, and Jackson was damaged.  But they were both Pack so… “Peter did all of those things.  I won’t lie and say he’s a sweet, but misunderstood guy, because that’s not Peter.  However, he can be loyal, and fierce, and what was done to him, done to both of you, wasn’t his fault.  His sister chose, for her own reasons, to take the memory of you from him. Therefore, until recently he had no idea that he had a child out there.  That you were out there.  When he did find out, he enlisted my father to try and track you down, so don’t doubt that he wants some kind of relationship with you.  What kind is all up to the two of you.” Stiles watched Jackson’s stoic face but could feel the tumultuous emotions roiling under the surface.   “I will tell you, that Peter is the one person who might be able to understand how you feel about what happened before when you were out-of-control.”

Jackson looked up, his eyes hooded.  “You think so?”

“Yes.  While some of Peter’s actions have been all him, some of them occurred when he had very little control, and he did some things he probably regrets.”

Jackson nodded.  “I’ll think about that.  Thanks.”

“Sure.”  Stiles nodded.  “You sure you don’t want anything to eat?”

“I could maybe eat,”  Jackson admitted.

Stiles smiled.  “Great.” He got up and moved towards the fridge to see what he could make.   After another minute, he looked back towards Jackson and raised an eyebrow.

Jackson huffed.  “This werewolf thing.”

Stiles nodded.

“Lydia did some research,”  Jackson said as he stared out the kitchen window.

“Of course, she did.”  Stiles began putting some sandwiches together and let Jackson get his thoughts together.

“My mother was human.”  Jackson finally said after Stiles had brought everything to the table.

“Yes.  My father told me the story.  The Rayburne pack alpha had come to treaty with Talia Hale. She brought her son and daughter with her.  The girl, Martine, was human, and she and Peter, apparently, got pretty friendly.”

Jackson snorted.  “Apparently.”

Stiles chuckled.  “Dad said it broke up the peace talks pretty effectively.  They left shortly afterward.” He paused. “Are you wondering about your mom?”

Jackson hesitated.  He was, a little bit, but that wasn’t his question.  “I want to know how come I wasn’t born a wolf. Was it because she was human?”

Stiles sighed.  He had really hoped this wouldn’t come up.  He wasn’t exactly trying to keep secrets, but things were still so new and fragile between Jackson and Peter, and Peter and Derek were still mending their relationship, he didn’t want to upset the balance of things.  But, he should have known there could be no secrets in a pack, especially not one of this size.

“No, Jackson, it wasn’t because she was human.”

*

Stiles had figured out the pattern right around the time the fifth person was killed.   Along with Heather and the guy at the pool, there was another girl, Emily. They had all been Virgins. What a stereotype.  The fourth though broke that pattern. The victim was Kyle Henderson. He was not a virgin, and as Stiles pulled out an old scroll stuffed into his family trunk and opened it up, he examined the other options.  Healers, Warriors, Guardians, Philosophers. If he was looking at the old, worn document correctly, human sacrifices were sometimes used in groups to gain strength for a coming battle. The killer must be killing them in groups of three since the fourth victim wasn’t a virgin.  If he’d have to guess, he’d say the Warriors were next. Kyle could not fit into any of the other categories, and according to his father, Kyle had been in ROTC. This latest death, the Music teacher, added to that theory as he had been former military. So, warriors, it was.

Stiles continued going through his research as he heard the rest of the pack entering from outside. He looked up and watched Jackson and Isaac for a moment.  They were looking a little ruffled, but Derek had spent the last few hours working on Isaac and Jackson’s control. Lydia was in the new library with Peter going over some recent information he’d found on Banshees.  Danny had set up his laptop in the corner of the room and was doing whatever he was doing quietly. Stiles turned back and unrolled an overlay map of Beacon Hills he’d found rolled up in the bottom of his mother’s stuff.  It was old, but it held unique information on ley lines and the outline of the Nexus that he couldn’t find on an ordinary map. He spread it across the dining room table.

Peter and Lydia rejoined everyone in the living room with a new piece of information.  “Mr. Harris is missing.”

Stiles looked up.  “Harris? We’re sure he hasn’t just fallen off the wagon or something?”

Lydia shook her head.  “No.”

“He’s another Warrior,”  Stiles mumbled, recalling the plaque on his desk.

Danny stood up, stretched and the wolves winced as they heard his back pop.  He walked over to the table Stiles had spread out on. “Do you think this has anything to do with that paper Harris sent back?”

“What paper?”  Stiles looked up, eyes curious.

“I wrote a paper on telluric currents and Harris sent it back with some note about how it wasn’t sound science and not suitable for the class.”

“Stiles?”  Lydia asked, noticing the faraway look in their Second’s face.

“Telluric currents are tied in with two of the four elements: Earth and Water. ”  He pointed to three areas on the map he had spread across the table. Here is where the telluric currents and Ley lines cross paths.  And here,” He pointed out another section of the map where someone had hand-drawn some thick black lines. “Here is where the Nexus points of Air and Fire meet.”

Peter raised a brow as he examined the map.  “That’s practically on top of a telluric current.”

“It is.”  Stiles agreed.

“So, at this point, all four elements would converge?”  Derek asked cautiously. He didn’t pretend to understand half of what Stiles was learning with the Druid woman and Archaic studies had always been more Peter’s thing, but the protection of this territory and pack was his responsibility, and he knew claws and teeth weren’t the answer to everything.

“Yes, but I don’t know what kind of effect that might be having, or if this…person is aware of the convergence.  The Nexus is…complicated and not something that just anyone can sense or understand. They may only know about the currents, not about the addition of the other two elements.”

“It’s something to think about.”  Lydia nodded towards Peter. “We believe we’re dealing with a Darach.”

“I’ve read about those.”  Stiles moved over to a bookshelf tucked into a corner of the room.  The library was still a work-in-progress as far as furnishing and contents, so Stiles had set up a bookshelf out here since this is where he spent a lot of his study time.  He pulled an old book out. This one Peter had found for him when he realized Stiles would be spending a significant amount of time with a Druid woman whom they knew very little about.  “There’s a chapter here on what happens when a Druid goes down a dark path. They can no longer call themselves druid, but are named Darach.” Stiles said as he found the chapter in question and gave it to Lydia.

Lydia skimmed the chapter and nodded.  “This is about the same information I read in the other book.”

“Question.”  Isaac raised his hand a little as if he was still in school and both Lydia and Stiles turned to him.  “Isn’t the barrier-thing supposed to prevent stuff like this from happening?” Isaac asked no one in particular.

Stiles nodded.  “Yes, but there are ways around it.”

“If this…Darach was already inside the borders of Beacon Hills when the Nexus was raised, they wouldn’t have had to cross the barrier.”  Lydia offers one idea.

“The barrier protects against anyone with Ill intent,” Peter stresses.

Derek frowns.  “And?” He asks, not sure what his uncle is getting at.

Peter sighs. “Intent is a subjective thing.”

“You mean, that if they believe they’re not doing anything wrong, then they could pass through the barrier?”  Stiles asked with a nod. It made sense. Though it also made him want to institute some additional protections.

“And yet, you blocked the baby Argent and her father from returning,”  Peter stated, just to be contrary.

Stiles nodded.  “I did.” He thought about that for a second.  It was true that the Argents didn’t think of themselves as evil or as bad people, yet his will against the Nexus had blocked them.  He had felt it.

“Guilt is a powerful thing.”  Derek offered, thinking of how isolated guilt could make a person, especially when their own memories haunt them more than the blame forced on them by others.  “Their own complicated feelings about what happened may have helped.”

“Lucas tells me that you and Scott are still awkward,”  Peter stated, changing the subject. He didn’t care to think about the Argents or their imaginary guilt.

Stiles stiffened slightly.  “Yes. Scott is…unhappy about the way things have worked out.”

“What exactly is the problem?”  Lydia asked with an arched brow.

Derek snorted.  “Take your pick.  He hates being a wolf, he hates that he lost Stiles to the pack…”

“He’s uncomfortable with the fact that I’m Fey,”  Stiles admitted.

“He hates that he lost his crazy hunter girlfriend.”  Peter offered his opinion.

Lydia looked at all three of them before sighing. “None of that is our doing.”  She hesitated. “Well, the wolf thing is Peter’s fault, but well, it can’t be changed.  And, Stiles joining the pack doesn’t mean Scott’s lost Stiles. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. The other two issues are a little more problematic, I admit.”

“How so?”  Peter asked curiously.  He could see the glaring issues but wondered if Lydia saw the same things or had other concerns.

“Unless Scott gets over Allison, or accepts that she is unlikely to return, that might prove to be something Scott, and Stiles won’t see eye to eye on.”

She turned to Stiles and locked eyes with her Second as she spoke the next part. “If he cannot accept Stiles for who and what he is, then…”

“…our friendship is over.” Stiles finished for her, a sad smile on his face.  “You’re right, Lyd. Most of the issues with Scott are things that I can’t really help him with.  He either needs to accept them, or not, which is why I’ve been giving him space, but…”

“But that won’t last forever.”  Lydia realized.

She had been doing her own research into packs and pack structures, especially the history of pack territories in places like Beacon Hills.  With something like the Nexus surrounding the area they were pretty safe, generally speaking, but wolves could still enter the region, so long as there was no ill intent, as far as the Nexus was concerned.  Pack rules, on the other hand, were more concerned with the length of the Wolf’s stay. It became an issue if they intended to stay for any period of time and had no intention to petition the pack for entry or if they weren’t a member of an allied pack.  Since Scott was basically an Omega and had no intention of joining the Hale pack, his options were limited. She knew Derek and Stiles were giving him time because of the situation, but that leniency would not last forever.

“No, it won’t,”  Derek stated firmly.  “He’s already bypassed what is tolerant and polite, especially considering the animosity he has given most of this pack.”

“Does Scott know the rules about Omega’s in claimed territory?”  Lydia asked.

“I’m not sure.  Stiles admitted. “Every time I try to bring up the pack, or any sort of werewolf stuff, the few times we’ve spoken he changes the subject.  He has been talking to Isaac, so it’s possible that he has talked to him about it.” Stiles’ eyes cut over to Isaac.

Isaac shook his head. “I’ve been talking to him some about the pack, trying to get him to understand it’s not the death sentence he makes it out to be, but I never talked about this stuff.  I just assumed he would already know. I mean, I learned this stuff when I was first bitten. Derek made sure we learned not only how to fight, but what to do when we came up against other wolves.  Wolves from other packs and Omegas. Boyd asked why, and Derek explained. He said that if we hadn’t been looking for the Kanima that would have been lesson one.”

“As it should be,”  Peter said. “Even though I wasn’t around to teach Scott such things, Stiles did an admirable job.”

Stiles sighed.  “Thanks, I think.  Unfortunately, Scott only ever wanted to hear things he absolutely needed to know, such how not to attack his girlfriend.  The rules, or the politics of things, he never wanted to hear that stuff.”

“So, he has no idea, then.”  Lydia summed up.

“I’ll go see him tomorrow.”  Stiles agreed reluctantly.

*

Stiles parked his jeep and just stared at the house.  Scott had lived in this house as long as they had known each other.  Stiles had spent a lot of time here, especially since his mother had died, and now, their friendship was probably over.  He wasn’t sure how he felt about the whole Scott situation.  He had understood, initially, where Scott was coming from.  Scott had been bitten against his will, and he had floundered for a while.  However, Stiles was not an idiot. He knew that most of Scott’s reasons for fighting so hard were tied up with Allison, and the fact that her family would never allow her to date a werewolf.

Scott never gave a thought to all the things that the Bite had given him.  His newfound ability at Lacrosse, the virtual cure from his Asthma. Plus, he may not have even spoken to Allison if not for the changes he had been going through.  But Scott ignored all that. He had also made it pretty clear the idea of Stiles as not human made him uncomfortable, and now their friendship was on the verge of breaking.

Stiles sighed and climbed out of his jeep.  Better to get this over with. He stood on the porch for a second before knocking.

Scott opened the door but didn’t invite Stiles inside.  If that wasn’t evidence of how far their friendship had fallen, he didn’t know what was.

“Can I come in?”  Stiles asked.

“I’d rather you didn’t,”  Scott said. “I’m just not comfortable with…everything right now.”  He paused and looked over Stiles’ shoulder towards where the jeep was parked in the driveway.  “You alone?”

Stiles looked back at his Jeep and saw that unless he had ghosts hitching rides, there were no passengers.  What was Scott expecting? “Yep. I wanted to talk to you about your options. I wasn’t sure if Isaac had mentioned it or not, and it’s been a few months, so we need to get something worked out.” He knew Isaac said they hadn’t discussed it, but he was trying to ease into things, as it were.

Scott blinked at him.  “What? My options?”

“For staying in Beacon Hills?”  Stiles stated as if it was evident, which if Scott had bothered to learn anything about what it meant to be an Omega and the rules surrounding werewolfkind, it would be.

“I don’t understand.  Where else would I go?”  Scott looked confused.

Stiles shrugged.  He tried not to let Scott’s confusion get to him, but they’d been friends a long time.  Mostly Stiles was still angry at Scott’s attitude and the way he had treated everyone. The only person he was even speaking to these days was Isaac, and even then, from what Isaac said, it was mostly to complain.

“You’re an Omega wolf in another pack’s territory, Scott.  How long do you think that’s allowed to remain unchallenged before the question has to be asked?  What are your plans? Are you staying in the territory? Because if so, a strict guideline needs to be adhered to.”

“Wait, what?”  Scott frowned. “I thought we could just ignore each other and go our separate ways.”

“You thought wrong,”  Stiles stated firmly.

“Stiles!”  Scott gasped.

“No.  You want me to stand out on your doorstep like we don’t know each other?  Fine. You want to pretend we were never friends? Fine. But then you don’t get to trade in that friendship for any sort of leniency while you’re in my pack’s territory.  You have already overstepped the proper amount of leeway for that.”

“You’re not even a wolf, Stiles!”  Scott growled. “Why are you even siding with them?”

“We’re pack.”  Stiles knew it was a tad more complicated than that, but he didn’t think trying to explain, again, would get him any further.

Scott stared at Stiles in shock.  He opened his mouth to say something and then closed it with an audible click.  “I don’t recognize you anymore.” He said finally.

“Ditto.”  Stiles snapped, his eyes flashing green for a second in his irritation.

Scott stepped back a second then caught himself.  “You said something about a guideline?” He asked, not sure if he wanted to argue more, or just get Stiles off his porch.

“Yes.  If you remain, you will have a strict guideline of places you can and cannot go within Beacon Hills.  Certain private locations you cannot go for any reason. Other, public places, you may go to, but only during normal business hours.  There will be places that you cannot be within a certain number of kilometers of, no matter the time unless you have special permission.  These locations will include the home and work location of any pack member. The school and the Sheriff’s department are exceptions.” Stiles paused while he gave these instructions.  “The Animal Clinic is also not under any sort of restriction.”

Scott’s eyes widened.  “How can you just…tell me where I can and cannot go?  What if I decide that I’ll go wherever I want, regardless of your stupid guidelines?”

Stiles’ eyes flashed again and then narrowed.  “You can ask Doctor Deaton what the typical outcome is of a trespassing Omega, however in this case, in this town, we don’t need to resort to quite the same methods. If you refuse, your other option is to leave town.  If you don’t do so of your own accord, I can do it for you.”

Scott’s eyes widened as he understood precisely what Stiles was referring to.  “You…but, where would I go?”

Stiles sighed.  “You have options, Scott.  It didn’t have to come to this, you know?”

Scott shook his head.  “No! I will never be in a pack with him!  Never!” He wasn’t even sure anymore if he meant Derek or Peter.

Stiles flashed his eyes again.  “Fine. Make a choice. I’ll send Peter over tomorrow for your decision.”

“Peter?  Why Peter?”  Scott asked plaintively.

“I’ve had about all I can take, and he has infinitely more patience.  Goodbye, Scott.”

#

Stiles felt the energy from the life around him and tried to stretch his senses further, though not too far.  Derek wasn’t with him, and he hesitated to go too far into his elemental senses without an anchor at hand.

“Can you sense the difference between the four elements?”  Marin asked after a moment.

“Yes.”  He said without drawing away from his connection to both Earth and Water.  He was kneeling in front of a small tree his mother had planted in his backyard and had his hands wrist-deep into the soil, his fingers touching both root and dirt.  He could also sense the water in both. The sense of air and fire were different, not as connected to this experience, but he could still feel them, still connect to them on a visceral level.

“Good.  Now tell me about the life you feel.”

“There are trees.  Some old, some just barely pushing through the soil.  A few of the herbs I’ve planted are growing.” He tilted his head slightly.  “There’s a raccoon in our garage, and some squirrels in a tree behind me.”

“Excellent.”  She stopped him before he could start to recite the insect population.  “What about inside the house?”

“There’s no one…wait.”  He paused. “My father just got home and…Derek is sleeping upstairs.”  He hesitated. “When did he get here?”

Marin didn’t answer instead placing a hand on her student’s shoulder.

Stiles opened his eyes and looked at the Druid.  She was motioning towards the circle of Mountain Ash she had spread around the tree Stiles was currently still connected to.  Not only was there a circle of Mountain Ash but he could see she had combined it with the tiniest traces of Mistletoe. Mistletoe didn’t necessarily hamper or enhance his abilities the way it did with Druids, but still, Marin liked to test his boundaries.  So much so, she had even drawn runes in the dirt, just outside the circle. From what he could see of the markings, if he had been an ordinary Fey, the connection to anything outside the circle might have been muffled. For him, not so much. He still had the link to the Nexus to rely on.  It was like an extra sense that was always seeking the wellbeing of its territory, which included everything inside its borders.

Unfortunately, right now that also included something killing innocent people.  He couldn’t seem to use this extra connection to hone in on this person. It was like they were masking themselves.  He suspected they were using magic of their own. Considering the deaths themselves followed a three-fold pattern, which historically, was a Druid practice, he wondered if Marin or Alan Deaton knew more than they were telling.  They were both very…vague.

“Your power is growing,”  Marin said, interrupting his inner thoughts.

Stiles shook his head.  “My power is the same as it has always been.  My control might be changing, though.”

Marin stared at him for a long moment before sighing.  “That’s enough for today.” She bent down and began removing the runes, then waved her hand to brush the Mistletoe and Mountain Ash away.

He nodded and slowly released the energy he was still connected to within the Earth.  His fingers released the dirt and flexed. “Do you know who’s killing these people?” He asked.  It couldn’t hurt to pose the questions at least.

“Not who, but I may know why,”  Marin said after a moment.

Stiles turned to her, intent.  “Why, then?”

She hesitated.  “What do you know of the history between the Argents and the Hales?”

Stiles scowled fiercely.

She held up a hand.  “I do not mean the fire that killed Talia and most of the pack.  No, there was an incident maybe a year before that. The bottom line is that Gerard Argent blinded an Alpha, and he has spent the time since then building a new pack; a pack of Alphas.”

Stiles frowned.  He knew he was missing some pretty significant pieces of the story.  “Okay, and…what does this have to do with my killer?”

Marin looked really hesitant as if by telling Stiles the rest she was breaking some solemn vow or telling a family secret.  “In order the join his pack, Deucalion made the Alpha’s kill the rest of their pack, Emissaries included.”

Stiles thought about that for a minute.  That implied that this new pack was made up entirely of Alphas.  He was aware that packs could have more than one Alpha, some had an Alpha pair, so it was technically possible for one to form with only Alpha’s, but It was highly implausible.  An entire pack made up of nothing but Alpha’s? How did that even work? The pack structure would be unbalanced. “He only has Alpha’s in his pack?” He asked for clarification.

“Yes.”  She agreed. She took a deep breath.  “There is a story that one of the Emissaries survived.”

Stiles sucked in a breath. Indeed, revenge could be a good motivator, but he still felt he was missing something.  However, he had as much information as he thought he could gain from Marin. Anything else would be better discussed with the Pack.

“Thank you.”  He said carefully.

She nodded once and moved towards the side gate.  She never entered Stiles’ house. He never asked her why, but he had his own theories.

He looked over to the house and saw his father moving around inside.  He was probably making dinner. He thought his father had the early shift the next morning, so he probably wanted to go to bed early.

*

Isaac knocked on the door carefully, unsure of his welcome.  He knew Stiles had spoken to Scott earlier, and he heard it hadn’t gone well.  He was hoping to talk to Scott before he did something stupid and forced Derek to take action.

Scott opened the door and stared for a minute before sighing and stepping back.  Isaac followed him into the room and looked around. It seemed the same as it always did, though Isaac could definitely sense the frustration in the air.

“Stiles came by to see me today.”  Scott started without any hesitation.

Isaac was glad he wouldn’t have to convince Scott to talk about it.  “Yeah, he said he might do that.”

Scott looked at Isaac, his mouth turned down in a frown.  “He gave me an ultimatum, Isaac.”

Isaac sighed.  “Don’t think of it like that.”

“I don’t understand what happened,”  Scott said in bewilderment. “It used to be him and me against everyone else, and now…now he’s in Derek’s pack, and I’ve been told I might have to leave town.”

Isaac wasn’t sure what to say.  He had tried to get Scott to see the pack as something other than the albatross Scott seemed to think it was, but it looked like it was an impossible task.  “Stiles is still your friend,” Isaac said instead because he knew that much was true.

“Is he?”  Scott shook his head.

“If you’ll let him be,”  Isaac stated. “And if you’ll accept him as he is.”

“I…I don’t know if I can do that.”  Scott admitted sadly.

“What is it exactly?  The fact that he’s a part of the Pack or the fact that he’s Fey?”

“He’s not human!” Scott burst out.

Isaac snorted.  “Neither are you.”

“Okay, but that was not my fault.  Peter did this to me, and Stiles, he’s…different.”

“You know you sound like a bigoted hunter right now?”  Isaac said shaking his own head. Maybe this really had been a waste of time.

Scott blinked in surprise but then thought about it.  “I guess I do, but I can’t help how I feel.”

“Alright.”  Isaac nodded because that was true.  “So, what are you going to do, then?”

“You never mentioned this was a possibility.”  Scott accused. “In all those conversations we had, you never said I might have to leave town.”

“I thought you knew.”  Isaac shrugged. “You’re an Omega.  If you had bothered to learn anything about wolves and pack’s you would know that there are rules for Omega’s within a Pack territory.”

“I never really thought of myself as an Omega.  I’m just…me. Besides, why would I learn any of that?”  Scott hissed. “I don’t want to be in a pack, and I don’t want to be a wolf.”

“You are a wolf.  The sooner you accept and deal with that, the better for everyone.”

“Will I really have to leave town?”  Scott asked, ignoring Isaac’s statement.

“You could leave, or you could stay, but if you stay, you have to agree to whatever guidelines Stiles and Derek have set.”

“What happens if I stay but then don’t follow their rules?”  Scott asked hesitatingly. He was going to ask Deaton as Stiles had suggested, but he didn’t want to do it over the phone, and he hadn’t been back to work yet.

“If this were a normal pack, in traditional territory, the Alpha or the Second would kill you at the first transgression,”  Isaac said solemnly, willing Scott to understand the seriousness. “They can’t afford for others to see them ignoring rules, and allowing such a transgression to occur without punishment.”

“You said a normal pack in traditional territory.”

Isaac nodded.  “We have more than just wolves and humans.  That makes us unusual. Also, because this is Beacon Hills, and Stiles is more than just our Second, he’s also the Keeper here.”

“Could he force me out as he did with…the Argents?”  Scott was really uncomfortable talking about the whole Keeper thing.  He didn’t even really understand it.

“Yes.”

“So he can kick anyone out he doesn’t like?”  Scott asked in growing anger.

“No.  Stiles maintains the protection of the territory.  If someone is threatening that, or a danger, then he can excise them from the territory.”

Scott snorted.  “If he’s the protector of Beacon Hills, why is he letting a killer walk around?”

Isaac snarled, his eyes flashing yellow.  “That is being dealt with.” It wasn’t Scott’s business to know about the Darach and what they knew regarding the deaths.

“What about my mother?”  Scott finally asked.

“She is unaffected.  She is human, so she’s not in any danger.”

“But you expect me to leave Beacons Hills, and just leave her here?”

“You can choose to stay.  You just have to follow Derek and Stiles rules.”  He repeated again.

“And what about when I go to college?  What if I go to the same school as someone from the pack?”  Scott wondered. He wasn’t even sure what he would be doing after high school, but he wanted to see what sort of limitations this might place on him.

“You won’t be in our territory anymore, so the same rules don’t apply.  Besides, we probably won’t be going far. Derek obviously will stay in Beacon Hills.  The territory and Stiles are here. Peter probably will as well, unless Jackson and Lydia decide to go farther than is practical. Like me, Danny probably will stay in California unless he joins Lydia and Jackson.”

“What about Stiles?”  Scott pushed. “He’s not going to college?”  That didn’t seem like the Stiles he had known.

Isaac stared at Scott for a long minute.  “Any school he does will probably have to be online since he can’t leave Beacon Hills.”  Isaac shrugged. It was terribly confining to be bound to the land here, but Stiles didn’t feel that way, so Isaac wasn’t going to mourn for him.

Scott blinked in confusion.  “What do you mean he can’t leave Beacon Hills?  Is that because he runs the pack with Derek? He’s trapped here now?”

“No,” Isaac drew the word out, “it’s because he’s the Keeper of Beacon Hills,”  Isaac said slowly. “He’s tied to the land and the territory.”

“So he’s stuck here?”  Scott couldn’t believe Stiles had chosen to do something so crazy.

“He chose to protect Beacon Hills.”  Isaac shook his head. They were just talking in circles now.  “Peter will probably be by tomorrow for your answer. I suggest you think about this and speak to your mom.”

“I don’t want to see Peter Hale,”  Scott said petulantly.

Isaac sighed exasperatedly.  “He’s coming for your answer, and while he has a lot of patience, he is also extremely protective, so, be cautious.”

Isaac watched Scott staring into space, his mind clearly thinking and let himself out of the house.  He hoped Scott made a smart decision and didn’t get aggressive with Peter. That wouldn’t end well.

#

“Hey, Kiddo,”  Lucas said as Stiles sat at the table.  “Hungry?”

“I could eat,”  Stiles smiled.

“How are the lessons going?”

Stiles shrugged.  “I can sense things pretty well, I guess.”

“But?”  Lucas pushed.

“But I still can’t trace this killer.”  He said in frustration.

Lucas sighed and stepped away from the oven where he was pulling out a casserole he’d made.  “Son, that’s not actually your responsibility, you know.”

“Yes, it is,”  Stiles stated, his amber eyes serious as he looked up at his father.  “This person isn’t human, I don’t think, not really. I think…he or she is an Emissary.”

Lucas frowned.  “Like Ms. Morrell and Dr. Deaton?”

“Yeah.  It was Lydia’s theory, but, it makes sense.  The sacrifices are storing up power, for…something.  The different categories remind me of one of the things I read about.  Each type of sacrifice will give the…Darach, a particular ability. So whatever they’re collecting power for, it has to be big.  Plus, Marin told me a story.” He turned his head slightly towards the stairs. He couldn’t hear anything. If he hadn’t felt that energy and the thread that meant Derek to him, he wouldn’t have known anyone else was in the house.  “It doesn’t matter.”

Lucas raised an eyebrow then looked towards the stairs.  He wasn’t an idiot. He knew the Alpha Wolf spent more nights than not under his roof so he could figure out what Stiles wasn’t saying.  That meant whatever Stiles heard must have something to do with the Hales, or what had happened to them, or Derek’s past. He nodded and moved back to the oven.  “So, how are things with Jackson?”

“You mean now that he knows that he’s really a Hale?”  Stiles let out a breath. That was a loaded question. “What has Peter said about it?”

“Not much,”  Lucas admitted.  “He’s giving Jackson his space, but he said Jackson keeps watching him when you all are together.”

Stiles scrubbed a hand over his head.  “Yeah.” He’d noticed that too. “Jackson doesn’t have a whole lot of actual experience with Peter.  He wasn’t…involved when Peter was, you know, crazy. And he was, well, not himself when Peter returned.  Still, Lydia has probably told him what Peter did to her, so that’s probably not helping the cause any.”

“Lydia and Peter have come to an understanding, though, right?”  Lucas asked. He didn’t really know the young woman very well. What he did know about her was mostly from his son’s crush-laden days, and therefore not very reliable.

Stiles nodded.  “He’s teaching her what he knows about Banshees, and other nefarious things.”

“Stiles!”  Lucas laughed.

“What?  You know what Peter’s like.”

“I do.”  He brought the food and some milk to the table as well as a cup of coffee for himself.  “I wanted to talk to you about that.”

“About what?”  Stiles asked as he started dishing out food for both of them.  He set some aside for Derek but otherwise sat down to eat.

“Peter and I.”  Lucas moved his fork around to indicate himself and the absent werewolf.

“Not you too?”  Stiles held up a hand.  “Look, I don’t need to know.  In fact, I don’t want to know.”

“Are you sure?  I mean, I haven’t really dated anyone since your mom…” He trailed off.

“Which just means it’s past time.”  Stiles nodded. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to talk about his mom.  He had gotten to know her a lot better through the journals, but it wasn’t the same as talking about her with his dad.

“Okay.”  Lucas nodded.  He looked towards the stairs and turned towards Stiles as if he was going to say something else but then just shook his head.  He’d leave that discussion for another time.  “So, your thoughts on Jackson?”

“Jackson’s had a rough time.  His adoptive parents weren’t what you’d call…attentive.  The loss of control from when he was the Kanima broke him a little bit.  Not just the control thing, but the things he did while he was out of control.  It’s hard for him to reconcile.”

“Should Peter leave him be for now?”

“No.  I think maybe Peter can help him.  Maybe they can help each other.” He paused a second, unsure if he should continue or not.  He knew Derek was upstairs, maybe asleep, maybe awake and listening. He could reach through their developing bond, but that seemed intrusive.  “Jackson had some questions about his adoption. Well, questions about how he ended up with humans, and not a wolf.”

Lucas blew out a breath.  He had questions about that himself and didn’t like where his mind had wandered.  “What did you tell him?”

Stiles shrugged.  “The truth, what I could sense in the pack bond from him anyway, the lingering tainted magic.”

“From the Kanima?”  Lucas questioned with a frown.

“No, something older, something…woven, like a spell.  It was blocking his lycanthropy.” Stiles thought about what he had felt from Jackson.  “It felt about like a mask that had been ripped away from him when Derek bit him.”

“Did the spell cause the Kanima?”  Lucas asked carefully.

Stiles sighed.  “No. That was just…the Whitmore’s weren’t the best parents, and Jackson had a lot of issues about being adopted, and he’s never felt like he belonged or good enough.  It just manifested like that.”

Lucas thought about that.  He knew what Stiles was saying, but he also knew how Peter would see things.  He was almost afraid to ask, to get confirmation, but…”You said the spell was old, how old?”

“Talia was responsible,”  Stiles answered what Lucas really wanted to know. “My theory is that she didn’t want to risk a baby in human custody shifting.”

“Do you know who cast the spell?”  Lucas asked finally.

“I have my suspicions,”  Stiles said ominously. He watched Stiles eat for a few minutes before speaking again.  He recognized that tone and decided a change of subject was in order. “So, what’s the pack doing about Scott’s Omega status?”

Stiles looked back at his father, his focus shifting.  “Um, yeah, about that…”

*

Lucas poured himself another cup of coffee and grabbed the top file on his stack and spread it out over the kitchen table.  He knew there was something he was missing. Some connection. Maybe if he could add up his information with whatever Stiles was learning, they could figure out who was doing this.

He was circling some interesting information on the last file when he heard the back door open, and someone come inside.  At first, he thought it might be Derek, he sometimes went for a run early in the morning when Stiles was still sleeping. However, once his visitor entered the kitchen instead of climbing the stairs, Lucas realized he was wrong.

“There’s tea,”  Lucas said motioning towards the cabinet Stiles kept it in.

“Thank you,”  Peter smiled and began preparing the tea.

“You better make enough for Stiles.  He’ll be up soon.” Lucas reminded. Stiles didn’t drink much coffee, but he’d become quite the tea connoisseur, especially since he had started studying herbs.

“Of course,”  Peter smiled and pulled out Stiles favorite morning blend as well as his own. “Derek will drink coffee.  Is there enough?”

Lucas blinked in surprise, eyes going to the werewolf.  “He’s here as well?” He wasn’t really surprised. Derek had spent more nights in Stiles room, usually in wolf form, since the pack had cemented their bonds. Between their connection as the leaders of the pack and Derek’s connection to Stiles as his anchor, they were linked in ways Lucas didn’t think about too carefully.

Peter just stared at Lucas as if that was a stupid question, which it was so neither of them said anything further for several minutes.

Finally, Lucas sighed. “Stiles told me you have a meeting with Scott today.”

Peter snorted.  “Meeting makes it sound all business-like and proper.”

“Well, it is official business, is it not?”  Lucas pointed out.

“Yes.”  Peter agreed.

“What’s your opinion?”

“On Scott?  Or what he’ll decide?”  Peter asked as he brought his tea to the table.

Lucas smiled.  He knew Peter’s personal thoughts on Scott McCall.  Everyone in the pack probably did. While Peter was responsible for Scott’s initial involvement in the supernatural, he was not responsible for Scott’s decisions or the way he had reacted to his circumstances.  Peter regretted his choice of Beta, but he hadn’t exactly been in the right frame of mind at the time. Peter regretted a few things he had done during that time period. He had paid for those decisions with his life, and while that death hadn’t been permanent, neither had it been peaceful.

“I know what you think of Scott.  I want your opinion of what he might decide.”

“Well, our young Second was quite clear with him,”  Peter stated a hint of pride in his voice. “If he doesn’t agree to Stiles terms, he will have to leave Beacon Hills, and as they still have another year of High School, well, Scott will.  I’m sure if they really wanted to, both Lydia and Stiles, perhaps even Danny and Jackson could graduate early.”

“Don’t give them any ideas.  Please.” Lucas said. The thought of those kids off on their own sooner terrified him.  Though, he supposed since Stiles couldn’t leave Beacon Hills the others wouldn’t go far for college.

Peter smiled softly.  “Yes, well…Scott doesn’t have the sort of grades to get away with that so, he has one year of High School left.  I suppose Melissa could send him away to school, or to his father?”

“Not an option.”  Lucas cut in. Maybe Rafe McCall had changed in the years since he’d left but he hadn’t made any effort to contact his son, so he doubted it.

“Otherwise, he has to follow Stiles rules.”  Peter shrugged.

“Are his rules unreasonable?”  Lucas asked curiously.

While he had known about the paranormal for a long while, he hadn’t really been an active part of a pack the way he was now, so he was still getting used to the way they did things.  He didn’t doubt that Stiles had been as fair as possible to his old friend, but he also recognized that his son had a temper and that when his emotions were affected, he might not see things clearly.

“Not at all.  The fact that Derek and Stiles have let it go on as long as it has is showing far more leniency than most packs would show, even to allies.  The guidelines Stiles outlined for Scott are entirely justifiable. It may seem strict, but we have eight people in the pack, so to protect all our members we have to be strict about outsiders being anywhere near what is considered home.  Since the entire pack doesn’t live at the new house, yet, then all of their houses are included. Plus work locations. He’s allowed the High school, the Animal Clinic and the Sheriff’s department out of the limitations, both because they are public places, and because, in the case of the school and the Clinic, there is a legitimate reason for Scott to be there on a daily basis.”

“The Sheriff’s department?  I wasn’t aware it would even be a consideration.  Here, I can understand because Stiles lives here, even if he also has a room at the new house.”

Peter smiled.  “Lucas, I thought you understood when Derek and Stiles made you a part of the joining ceremony.  You too are a part of this pack.”

Lucas frowned.  Huh. It wasn’t that he felt separate from the pack exactly.  He had been included in everything since that night, he had just thought it was Stiles trying to involve him more in his life, but maybe there was more to it than that.  Interesting.

Peter tilted his head and frowned slightly. “Melissa McCall is here.”

Lucas looked towards the front door and stood.  “What a coincidence.” He muttered before making his way to the door.  He opened it and found her climbing the stairs to the porch.

She startled to see the front door open before she’d had a chance to knock or ring the doorbell.

Lucas smiled.  “Peter’s here. He heard you coming.”

“Oh, I uh…didn’t know you’d have company,”  Melissa said uncertainly. This was the second time she’d come to talk to the sheriff and found him with Peter Hale.  It was kind of early in the morning. She’d just gotten off-shift, but she wanted to talk about what Scott had told her.

“He’s not company,”  Lucas said letting her into the house.  “Come on in.”

“Tea or Coffee, Melissa?”  Peter asked as they both entered the kitchen.

“No thank you.  I’m just coming off shift, and I’ll need to sleep soon.”  She turned to Lucas. “I wanted to talk to you about Scott.”

Peter raised a brow and then took his tea into the living room.  He’d still be able to hear, but it might give Melissa the appearance of privacy.

“No, wait.  You can stay.  This is about…wolf stuff, so…”  Melissa stopped. She was still kind of uncomfortable around Peter.  Between that weird almost date they’d had, then learning the truth about him from Scott once she knew about werewolves, she wasn’t sure what to think.  Lucas seemed to trust him, though if Peter’s appearance here at this hour was anything to go by.

Peter nodded and sat back at the kitchen table, waiting.

“Okay, Mel, what did you want to know?”  Lucas asked softly. He was aware that Scott’s estrangement from Stiles must be hard for her, especially if she didn’t really understand the reasons behind it.

“Scott told me he’s being asked to leave town,”  Melissa said plaintively.

Peter snorted, and Lucas pierced him with a glare.  “What exactly did Scott tell you?” Lucas asked.

“Just that Stiles came by to see him and told him that since he isn’t a member of the pack, he can’t be in Beacon Hills.”

“That’s not exactly accurate.”  Peter interrupted.

“It’s not?”  Melissa looked from one man to the next.

“No,”  Lucas said gently.  “Melissa, Scott is what the wolves call an Omega.  That basically means he’s a lone wolf, with no pack.  The problem is, Beacon Hills is home and territory to the Hale pack.”  He nodded his head towards Peter.

“And Omega’s can’t live in another wolf’s…territory?”  She asked, trying to understand.

“Generally, no.  They can pass through the territory, but if they are living in the territory, usually it’s because they either want to join the pack or are allied with another pack with whom we have a treaty.”  Peter explained.

“Neither of those applies to Scott, though, do they?”

“No, they don’t.  He isn’t allied with any pack, and he’s made it clear he wants nothing to do with ours.”  Peter stared at her for a long moment before continuing. “Stiles has given him the option to stay, but he has to follow certain guidelines.”

“He didn’t tell me that.”  She whispered. “What sort of guidelines?”

“He isn’t allowed near any pack members work or residence.  Some public spaces are off-limits outside of business hours.  The school and the sheriff’s department are free from any restrictions.”

Melissa thought about that for a minute.  “What about the Animal Clinic? It’s technically privately owned, but it is a public space.  Scott works there, and sometimes is there outside of business hours.”

Peter nodded in acknowledgment.  “The clinic is also free from restrictions.”

“And here? That means that Scott isn’t welcome here, correct?”

“Correct. If Scott wants to speak to Stiles outside of school, he’ll have to call and make some arrangements with him.”

“But this is his only choice, right?  Otherwise, he has to leave. He has nowhere to go.”  She sighed. She knew her son had left something out.  “What happens if he agrees to your terms and then decides to go somewhere he’s not allowed?”

“I’m sure if there are extenuating circumstances, we can work something out,”  Lucas said before Peter spoke what he knew was coming next.

“I’ll kill him,”  Peter said sweetly.  He shrugged. “Or Stiles will remove him from the territory.  Personally, I’m voting for option number one.”

Melissa stared at Peter Hale and tried to see the attractive man she’d met in the hospital so long ago.  Instead, all she saw was something wild and dangerous.

“That’s enough.”  Stiles tone was firm as he entered the kitchen.  He looked at his dad and smiled a little bit, though his eyes were serious.  “Can you give me a minute with Ms. McCall?”

Peter opened his mouth to argue, and Stiles flashed his eyes at him.  He closed his mouth and nodded once. He and Lucas went into the living room, but Peter kept one ear on the kitchen.

“I didn’t want it to come to this, you know?”  Stiles sighed as he sat across from the woman. “I wanted him to realize pack life isn’t so bad and join us.”

“I don’t think he’s ready for that, Sweetie.”

“I know.”  Stiles sighed. “We’ve let the situation go on for a while, longer than we probably should have, but I was hoping Scott would come around.”

“And now you have to look out for your pack, and Scott has to learn to stand on his own.”  Melissa sighed. “I’m going to tell him to stay, to accept the restrictions.”

Stiles nodded.

Melissa stood up and reached for Stiles, giving him a hug.  “Thanks for talking to me. Thank your dad too.”

Stiles watched her go and felt sad.  Scott didn’t know what he was doing or who he was, and he was burning his bridges.

*

Stiles sat with his fingers in the soil of the tree in his backyard, letting the quiet of the night and soft whisper of the wind pass through him.

He used his connection to the Earth to reach out and see his territory.  He liked being able to see that all was well. He was slightly confused about his inability to trace the Darach.  Even if her intent was masking the danger, as Peter has suggested. The deaths themselves were not gentle. There should have been something other than the nagging twinge he received.

Stiles slowly pulled his senses back, so he could only sense the energy of the tree and the soil.  He released that energy as well and began to stand up.

It was late.  He’d been out here for a few hours, and should probably get some sleep.  He entered his house and listened to the quiet. Everyone was in bed. He should be too, soon.

Stiles walked into his bedroom and set his phone down on the desk.  He had changed in the bathroom, but it was a little warmer in the room than he was expecting.  He looked at the wolf lying in his bed, head resting against Stiles favorite pillow. “Okay, buddy.  Time for bed. Scooch over.”

The wolf lifted his head but didn’t move.

Stiles sighed but climbed onto the bed and lay down next to the wolf anyway.  “You are raising the temperature in here about ten degrees, Furry.”

Derek ignored him and lay his head back down, this time against Stiles’ arm.

Stiles smiled into the dark.  He had gotten used to having an actual wolf in his bed.  At first, it was a little weird. He’d shared a bed with Scott before, but that had been in human skin, as the Omega couldn’t do a full-shift, and it had also mostly been before Stiles had even known Werewolves were a real thing.  This was different, but it was also Pack. He probably would feel comfortable now with any of the others sleeping in his bed. Still, he wasn’t oblivious. He knew the situation with Derek was different. It was about more than Pack, but he wasn’t quite ready to put a name to whatever this was.  Maybe that was why Derek chose to sleep in his fur.

Stiles was sure Derek liked being in wolf-form.  He didn’t have to speak or try to make himself understood, but Stiles was equally sure that he spent the evenings in wolf form to make things less awkward for Stiles.  The Fey appreciated the effort, but he wasn’t sure it was necessary. He knew it was Derek under all that fur. He’d gotten used to it, maybe even looked forward to it, though he wasn’t going to try and put a name to what they were, it was comforting.

“I have a bad feeling,”  Stiles whispered in the dark.  “These deaths are building to something, and I just don’t know what.”

Derek shifted back to his human skin, though he didn’t actually move position.  “You’ll figure it out,” Derek whispered into his skin.

“I want to take Peter with me to track the Darach the next time they kill,”  Stiles said.

Derek lifted his head slightly and looked up at Stiles in the darkness.  “You may have to control him. He gets a little…overprotective.” Derek warned.

Stiles smiled.  “That’s sort of his job.  It’ll be fine.”

“I heard you and your dad talking about Jackson,”  Derek whispered against his skin.

Stiles stilled his hand.  “Oh?”

“Do you really think my mother did all of that?”  He whispered. He desperately wanted to remember her as the mother who had cared for him when they were little, but maybe that had always been revisionist history.  He remembered all the time she spent with Laura, teaching her how to be an Alpha. Perhaps his memories were clouded with grief and guilt.

“I don’t know what Talia was like, Derek.  Was she a good Alpha? Maybe. Was she a good mother?  You tell me. Was she a good sister? Most definitely not.  Did she have reasons for her actions? Maybe, but were they good reasons, that is something we may never know.

What I do know is that her actions changed Peter without him even knowing or understanding why.  Her actions changed Jackson, your cousin. She stole something from him and set in motion a series of events that ultimately led to the deaths of a lot of people.  That’s not your fault, and that’s not Jackson’s fault. Honestly, It’s really Matt and Gerard’s fault, but your mother holds some of the blame as well.

Derek sighed.  “I get what you’re saying.  I just…she was my mother, and she wasn’t a bad person.”

“Okay.”  He ran a hand through Derek’s hair before murmuring.  “My dad is worried about Scott.

Derek huffed but didn’t say anything.  He knew Stiles would continue regardless of Derek’s input.

“I think he’s more worried about Melissa and how she may take everything.  She seemed to understand when she was here, but…” Stiles didn’t want to think about the virtual ultimatum that had been given to his old friend, but he could no longer protect Scott from himself.

“What will Scott decide?”  Derek moved slightly, so he was lying next to Stiles instead of partially on top of him.

Stiles shrugged.  “I think he’ll stay in Beacon Hills and try to live under our restrictions.  He won’t want to leave his mom, or take a chance that Allison might return to find him gone.”

“But?”  Derek sensed the hesitancy in his bond with Stiles.

“But he’ll probably chafe at the rules, and may try and break them to see what we’ll do.”

Derek frowned.  They couldn’t afford to let some petulant Omega break guidelines they had set.  If Scott did break their rules, their response would have to be swift. “What about the Argents?  Will they return? Will you let them?”

Stiles sighed.  “If they return, and they don’t mean us, or anyone one in Beacon Hills’ harm, I will allow them back.  However, their hunting days within these borders are done.”

“That might be incentive.  Didn’t Chris Argent leave so Allison would get away and get some perspective?”  Stiles nodded. “He may like his hand being forced, as far as hunting goes. He never wanted that life for Allison, as far as I could tell.”

Stiles shook his head.  “We’ll worry about that after we deal with this Darach.  Come on, let’s get some sleep.” He turned over and felt Derek shift back to wolf form behind him.

*

Peter waited until long after dark before he made his way to the McCall house.  Personally, he didn’t think Scott was cut out for life in a Pack. That was partially his own fault, Biting Scott like he had, but he had been out-of-control, and the need for Pack had been intense.  If there is one thing he regrets, aside from killing Laura, it would be choosing Scott McCall to be his Beta.

Stiles had hopes of Scott eventually accepting himself and being open to the Pack.  It was possible it might happen, but Peter didn’t think it would happen now. Scott was still too bitter.  However, he had waited as long as he could to give Scott and Melissa time to think about the options before forcing Scott into a decision he would have to abide by.

He approached the front door quietly and wasn’t surprised when it opened, and Scott stepped out.  If Scott didn’t want to invite Stiles inside, he certainly wouldn’t want Peter in his house.

“Scott,”  Peter said, a smirk twisting his lips.

Scott scowled at him but didn’t say anything.

“Well?  Are you going to make me guess?”  Peter stepped closer. “Your heart is beating fast, like a scared little rabbit.  Are you afraid of me?” He smiled wider as he scented Scott’s emotions. “No, not of me, but of what might happen.  Hmm. Well, then, have you made a decision?”

Scott huffed at stood up straighter.  “I’ll stay here.”

Peter nodded.  He had expected as much.  “And you’ll agree to their terms?”

Scott’s scowl deepened but nodded.  “I will.”

“Excellent.”  Peter handed over a manila envelope Stiles had prepared.  “Review that. It lists all of the restricted locations.”

Scott took the envelope from Peter and hesitated as Peter turned to walk away.  “What happens if Allison returns?”

Peter hissed at the thought but refused to show such volatile emotions in front of this…child.  “That is unlikely to occur. However, if it does, it doesn’t change our agreement.”

“And…their home wouldn’t be restricted?”  He asked softly.

Peter rolled his eyes and turned back to face the boy.  “She is a Hunter.” He paused, trying to explain their point of view without being crueler than Stiles would like.  “The restrictions on that list are because of Pack connections. Omegas are not Pack and therefore cannot be trusted near Pack, especially in places where they may be vulnerable.  The Argents are not Pack, and therefore do not even register.”

“Oh.”  Scott thought about that a minute.  “I’m not going to hurt anyone.” He said plaintively.

“Really?  You wouldn’t kill me if you had the opportunity?  You wouldn’t do harm to Derek, thinking maybe you could get Stiles back?”

“No.”  Scott lifted his chin up.  “I was going to kill you, I admit that, but it was only so I’d be cured.  Derek…I hate him, but I wouldn’t hurt him. Besides, it wouldn’t matter.  Stiles isn’t my Stiles anymore.”

“The Bite is a gift, Scott.  The fact that I Bit you against your will doesn’t change that.  You’ve gained more than you’ve lost.” He paused, not sure what the point was.  “As for Stiles, he is the same as he has always been. You don’t like the fact that he doesn’t depend only on you, or the fact that he isn’t the helpless human.  Newsflash, Stiles was never helpless, even when he thought he was human.”

Scott stared at him for a second, then turned around and entered the house.

*

Stiles had his map spread out over the table and was doing some rune work, trying to make sense of the Darach’s actions.

Two more people had been killed, but he hadn’t felt it tug at his center, like with the others.  He wasn’t sure if the Darach was actively trying to hide their actions from Stiles, or if it was some sort of natural side-effect.  Mr. Harris’ body had been found, as well as that of the music teacher. That meant that the Darach had finished with Warriors and would be on to something else.  Either Healers, Philosophers or Guardians.

Stiles looked at the runes again, willing them to make some sort of sense.  They hadn’t changed since the last three times he’d looked at them. He sighed and picked up his phone and texted Peter.  If these runes were accurate, there wasn’t much time to waste. They seemed to be accelerating their activities, and he thought there would probably be another death tonight, and though he couldn’t prevent that death he could track the energy back, but only if they moved quickly.

His phone vibrated, and Stiles looked down at the message.  On my way.  Of course, he was.  Peter was nothing if not dependable, particularly when pack matters and research were concerned.  Stiles had learned as much the past few weeks. He had been Talia’s Left Hand. Stiles hadn’t been sure exactly what that meant until he researched it, but now that he had, he realized it was a job ideally suited to Peter.  It was more than the typical Enforcer that showed up in paranormal novels, but it was close. He would sometimes do the jobs that no one talked about, that no one acknowledged, but yet needed to be done.

He waited silently for the older wolf to arrive and when he felt the energy that meant Peter to him, he grabbed his supplies and moved out the door and towards his Jeep.  Peter came and headed towards the passenger seat. Stiles shook his head. “You need to drive.  I need to concentrate until I know where we’re headed.”

Peter took Stiles keys and waited for some sort of direction.

“Head towards the preserve, but, go slow.  I’m not sure exactly where…” Stiles trailed off, his eyes closed and he sent his senses out to the borders of the Nexus, seeking the dark energy that embodied the Darach.  He couldn’t quite track them to their source, their magic masked a lot.

They were moving slowly in a western direction when Stiles felt it.  The ending of the life. The energy just hovering for a few minutes before being siphoned and trapped. “Stop for a second,”  Stiles whispered.

“What is it?”  Peter asked, noticing the pale cast to Stiles skin.

“Two more deaths.  They must be getting desperate.  The Darach killed both of them at once.”

“I don’t understand what’s driving this,”  Peter stated, trying to work through the reasoning.

Stiles shook his head. “I don’t know, but whatever it is, it has to be something major or something they fear greatly.”

“Can you track them yet?” Peter asked with a growl in his voice.

“I can track the energy they’ve stolen.”  Stiles places one hand on the closed window, fingers flat against the glass, while his other clutched at the damning runes in his hand.  He whispered directions and felt the vehicle moving again. Peter didn’t speak again until he felt they were closer to their destination.

“We can’t go any further like this.  We’ll have to go the rest of the way on foot.”

Stiles took a look around, and sure enough, they had run out of road.  Figured. “Do you know where we are?”

“Yeah, and I think I may know where we’re going too.”

“Where?”  Stiles perked up.  Any information would be better than this flying by the seat of his magical pants thing.

Peter didn’t look happy, though.  “You’re not going to like it.” He said honestly.

Stiles held out a hand stopping Peter from going any further.  “What is it?”

“You know that after Lucas traced the adoption to the Whittmore’s, and the Joining Ceremony confirmed it by my rather extreme reaction, I’ve been trying to regain more of my lost memories.”

“The memories Talia stole, you mean?”  Stiles asked. He had an unpleasant view of Talia Hale, due to the way she had just stolen her brother’s memories.  Nothing he had learned about the situation so far seemed to warrant such an extreme reaction. Not to mention his theories about what was done to Jackson to keep him hidden.

“Yes, those.”  Peter snarled, eyes going vivid blue in the darkness.

“Hey, relax.”  Stiles placed a hand on his wrist.  He could feel the pulse thrumming wildly beneath his fingers, but he could also feel it slow at his touch.

Peter nodded once in thanks and took a deep breath before continuing.  “I’ve been walking Derek though how to retrieve my memories, the Alpha way.”

“Claws in the back of the neck?”  Stiles asked. He’d read about it in one of his family’s journals.

Peter nodded.  “There was something else that she took away, another memory.”

Stiles blinked.   He was really starting to wonder about Talia Hale.  Maybe there was a justifiable reason, but he couldn’t help but think there were other options.  “Was it about the pregnancy?”

Peter shook his head.  “No, this happened earlier, when Derek was still in High School, maybe a year before the fire.  I had just graduated. We’re only a few years apart. I was the accidental, unplanned baby.” Peter gave a little self-deprecating smile.

That actually made a lot of sense.  From what he understood, pre-fire, Derek, and Peter had been close, more like brothers than Uncle-and-Nephew.  Peter had always been a bit manipulative, but that wasn’t surprising.

“There was an incident when Derek was fifteen.”  Peter continued. “There was what you would no doubt call a werewolf convention.  Packs from all over came to discuss issues, broker treaties, etc… Your mom was involved as well.”

“Why do I think this story doesn’t end well?”  Stiles sighed. He wondered if this was the incident that Marin had spoken about, but didn’t want to interrupt.

“You’d be right.  The Argents started hunting, and a few wolves from another pack were killed.”  Peter tilted his head slightly as if he was trying to remember something. “The alpha of the pack wanted vengeance.”

“And Talia?”  Stiles asked

“She was willing to stay out of it, felt that everyone should just lay low and calm down.”

Stiles snorted.  He’s seen both the Argents on a hunting spree and crazed Alphas in need of vengeance.  There was nothing calm about either.

“I’m afraid I made the situation worse,”  Peter admitted a touch of remorse in his voice.

“How so?” Stiles asked curiously.

“Ennis, the alpha who lost his beta to the Argents was looking to replenish his numbers.”  Peter began as they continued walking through the forest.

“That’s not uncommon.”  Stiles had learned a lot about pack structure in the past few weeks.

“No, but there was a human girl whom Derek was seeing at the time, Paige.  I may have…manipulated him into a situation where she would be bitten by Ennis.”

Stiles froze.  “What happened to her?”  He thought he knew, but he had to ask anyway.

“The Bite didn’t take,”  Peter whispered.

“That’s why Derek’s eyes were blue before he became an Alpha?”  Stiles asked quietly, remembering something he’d read about the nature of a werewolf’s eye-color.  At the time he’d wondered about it, concerning Derek. The only blue-eyed wolves he knew were Peter, Jackson, and Derek before he’d become Alpha, and while Derek may blame himself for the death of his family, it didn’t seem like sufficient cause for his eyes to change.  This, though, might explain it. He might not have intended her to die, but depending on the reasons for wanting her to be bitten, and the way it had gone down, it could qualify.

“What does that have to do with where we’re going?”  Stiles asked after a few moments.

“It happened in a Druidic place of power, a Nemeton.”

Stiles nodded.  “I’ve read about them.”

“Afterward, Talia took the memory from us.  I only regained it recently, when I’ve been teaching Derek how to retrieve memories.  I wanted him to go back to that time, in case there were other things Talia took.”

“Clearly, there were.”  Stiles hissed, his own eyes flashing in the darkness.

“Yes.  This place, the Nemeton, it’s a root cellar, or at least it was at one time, but the Druids have used it for ritual magic for generations.  It’s where Paige died, and I think it might be where the Darach is taking her stolen magic. Some of the rituals might have even be performed there.  I don’t know. You might be able to get a better feel for that.”

“How much further is this Nemeton?”

“It’s close.  Come, this way.”  Peter moved forward, and Stiles sent his sensing through the dark, searching.

He wondered if the story Marin had told him had happened at the same time as Paige’s death.  It seemed too much of a coincidence that Gerard Argent was responsible for the death of this Beta, and the attack that had blinded the Alpha Marin had mentioned.

*

Peter slowed as they approached the area he remembered.  “Here.” He whispered to Stiles.

Stiles entered a small clearing.  Many old trees were surrounding it, and a large tree stump.  It looked old and withered, and if Stiles reached out, he could almost feel it’s pain.

He tore his eyes away from the tree and looked at the person standing not too far away.

“What do we have here?”

Stiles stared at the woman.  She was wearing his new English teacher’s face.  No that wasn’t right. She was his new English teacher, but the face she had on wasn’t her own.

“Stiles?”  Peter asked, his voice sharp.  He wasn’t sure, exactly what had dismayed the Fey, but whatever it was had alerted him.

“Can you see her?”  Stiles asked.

“She’s not invisible.”  Peter answered, “However, I don’t think that’s what you mean.”

“No.” Stiles agreed. “Her face is…not really hers,” Stiles said carefully.  He walked closer to the woman. He could feel the power she held. Some of it was her own, but most of it was power she had stolen from others.

“Who are you?” She asked curiously, staring at him intently.

Stiles blinked in confusion.  “Ms. Blake? You don’t recognize me?”  He was pretty sure this…woman was the same woman who taught their English class as opposed to someone who was wearing his English teacher’s likeness as a disguise.

Her lips curled.  “Yes, Mr. Stilinski, I recognize you.  But you are no ordinary boy.” She stepped away from the large tree stump.

Stiles was trying to divide his Sight between her and the Tree.  He could feel the energy emanating from it.  He could See the power of it.

“And you?  What are you?” Stiles asked.

She smiled, and Stiles grimaced.  Her face was…not pretty. It looked like something horrible had happened to her.  She had scratches and slash marks all over her face, plus her skin looked mottled, gray, and not entirely human, not anymore. She was ravaged, by what Stiles now knew was the misuse of power and magic not her own.  That kind of betrayal of the gift would turn on a person, sort of like what had begun happening to Matt when he misused Jackson for his own ends.

She continued to stare at him for a second, her head tilted slightly.  “You’re no druid.” She announced at last. “You See me, don’t you?  As I really am.”

“I do,”  Stiles confirmed.

“No, you’re no Druid.” She repeated, surprised.

“No.”  Stiles agreed.

“At first, that’s what I thought. I followed you to Marin Morrell’s once, out of curiosity, you know.”  She sighed. “Her house has a lot of protection.” She sounded put out, but only idly as if it hadn’t really mattered.

“I know.” Stiles agreed, without commenting further on the purpose of Marin’s level of protections.  The Druid did have a lot, more so than anything Deaton had at the Animal Clinic, which Stiles supposed made sense considering the clinic was a public business.

“But you are something different.”  She kept staring at him as if trying to figure out what form of power he wielded.

“Next, I thought maybe you were a Mage.”  She stared at him intensely for a second, her eyes flicking quickly to Peter and back.  “You run with wolves, like the Mages of Old.” She took a step closer to him, her hand reaching out almost to touch.  Peter snarled, and she laughed. “Tell me, are you a member of their little wolf pack, or just…a tag along?”

Stiles snorted.  At one time the uncertainty of his place in Derek’s pack may have made this a sensitive question, but that time was long passed.  He knew his position in the pack, and this…whatever she had become, wasn’t going to upset the balance. “I’m pack.” He offered. Giving her the knowledge wouldn’t hurt him or the pack in any way.

“Hmm.  And your Alpha?  What exactly is your relationship?”  She watched him keenly, her mouth almost in a snarl.  He supposed her lips might have been frowning if she’d had any.  “I tried to approach him once. I found him at the grocery store near the school.  I thought maybe I could use him for my purposes.”

Stiles hissed, his hand reaching out to Peter as he felt the wolf move closer, no doubt wanting to attack, but it wasn’t time yet.  He wanted to snarl and flash his eyes at her, but he controlled himself. She had said she didn’t know that he was Fey. It might be better to keep that to himself for just a little while longer.  “Derek is not for you,” Stiles said carefully. He would not let this…travesty of magic and death put any more scars on Derek.

She shrugged.  “He wasn’t interested in anything I had to offer.”  Her face twitched, and Stiles was pretty sure if he were seeing her as she projected herself to the world, it would be an unpleasant expression on her face. She took another step closer to Stiles.

“Come any closer, and I will rip out your throat, and save Stiles the trouble.”  Peter snarled. He really wasn’t fond of this…woman getting any closer to Stiles.  It was his job to protect the pack, even if that assignment was an unspoken agreement between him and his nephew.  Besides, he liked Stiles, and he didn’t want this thing, whatever she was underneath the glamour getting anywhere near him.  He couldn’t see through the glamour the way Stiles seemed to be able to, but he could sense a magical…cloak over her.  Something different than just her level of power, or the stolen energy she was storing up for who knew what purpose.

The woman laughed, though it wasn’t a pleasant sound.  “You think you can manage?” Her eyes went to Peter. “With all this power I’ve been collecting?”

“Power you need for something,”  Stiles stated, His eyes moved away from the grotesque woman and over to the tree.  “You need that power for something specific. I’d guess you can’t afford to waste it fighting us.”

“Do you know what this is?”  She asked, not confirming Stiles statement, but instead moving over to the large stump. “Do you know the story of what happened here, Stiles?  The little girl Derek killed with his ignorant puppy love?” She was no doubt referencing what Peter had told him about the incident with Paige, but he wasn’t going to allow Derek’s pain to become any more fodder for evil bitches out for blood.  While he didn’t know what Ms. Blake, or whatever her real name was, had in mind ultimately, he was aware that someone didn’t store up this kind of power for no reason. Stiles chose to ignore her questions about Derek, focusing instead on the object in question.

“It’s a Nemeton,”  Stiles stated quietly, almost reverently.  He’d read about them in his family journals, though the hand-drawn images in those age-worn pages didn’t look like this one.  They were brimming with power and life. This one was almost too painful to be near. He could feel it calling out to him, asking for help.

“So you are a Mage.”  She seemed satisfied to have her earlier thoughts confirmed.

Stiles just raised an eyebrow at her.  He wanted to touch the roots of the Nemeton but knew it wasn’t time yet.

“Only a Mage or a Druid would know the true power of this holy place.”  She whispered.

“Is that right?”  He’d had enough. He sent tendrils of power through the air, searching, seeking.  When he connected to the old roots of a tree nearby that rose up through the forest not far behind the Darach.  This tree wasn’t as old as the Nemeton, but it was old enough for his purposes, with a deep root system that ran far under the Earth. He could sense that the roots of this tree were entwined in some places with the Nemeton.  He wasn’t sure if that made what he was about to do dangerous, but he didn’t have time to come up with another idea.

The roots began to rise up through the ground, just behind where the Darach stood.  She didn’t notice at first; the moving branches were thin and didn’t make any noise, but then the Earth started to tremble, and she almost stumbled.  She righted herself and looked around in surprise when the branches had nearly reached her height and had grown thicker the more they separated from the Earth.  Two large branch tendrils reached out, almost like arms and grabbed the Darach around her wrists. They weren’t like the branches you see above ground, having spent all their life beneath the soil, they were softer, closer to a vine than a tree, it made them more pliable, able to do as he needed.

“What…what is this?”  She gasped as the roots continued to grow, pulling her off the ground and into the air, so she hung by her wrists.

“You’ve forgotten that we must keep balance in this world.  Your actions are upsetting that balance.” Stiles hissed, his eyes flashing green as he stared at her.

“What are you?”  She asked again, this time, there was more than confusion in her tone.  She had thought Mage, but Mages would have to practice for years to get control of the elements like this boy seemed to have.  She didn’t think he’d been practicing for nearly long enough.

“I am the Keeper.  I protect this territory.”

Her eyes widened.  The shock was apparent in her deformed face.  “But…no, there wasn’t a Keeper.” She stuttered.  She’d heard the stories about the protections of Beacon Hills in years past.  If those same protections were active now, then all her work was for naught. “You can’t!  They will never come if you are protecting this forest. They must come!”

She was rambling now, and Stiles had heard enough.  “Tell me about your sacrifices. Why are you stockpiling magical energy?”

She tried to turn her head towards Peter, but he was standing at her back, behind the grown roots, admiring Stiles handiwork.  “The…the Alphas. They’re supposed to come here. I was preparing.” She gasped. “They have to pay for what they’ve done, to me, and to others like me.”

Stiles turned to look at Peter in confusion. His gaze had returned to the Darach and narrowed when she spoke of Alpha’s, but he didn’t say anything.

“Kali.”  She whispered her tone part anguish, and part fury.  “Deucalion, the others.” She gasped as her wrist twisted in the branch.  “He’s too strong. I needed more power.”

“I’ve heard enough,”  Peter stated quietly.

“Very well.”  Stiles sighed.   He called out to Earth and Wind and asked for some assistance.  A breeze blew through the trees in answer. The Earth rumbled again, the hard-packed dirt under his feet shaking and loosening its hold on more of the tree’s roots.

His prisoner was dragged forward just a few feet, close enough that Stiles could reach both of his objectives easily.  “It’s time for you to give back what you’ve stolen.” He whispered. He tore her blouse with his left hand and placed his right against her chest.  He could feel her weak, decaying heart beating underneath the rough skin. Next, he reached out his left hand and placed it gently on the top of the Nemeton.  He felt a shock of awareness go through him. He recognized this Tree, and it, him. He’d think about what that meant later.

“Return to me.”  He intoned deeply, all the power at his fingertips flashing through him.  The stolen magic the Darach had been hoarding rushed out of her at once, and, using Stiles as a conduit, into the Nemeton.

Stiles could feel the rush of power, the elements assisting him in this.  He knew what was going to happen next and couldn’t stop it. Suddenly the branches holding the Darach’s limp form slipped away as her body caught fire.  The flames were a bright purple for a second before cooling to blue embers. Stiles could feel Peter moving away to a safe distance and willed the fire to extinguish.  The fire was out almost as quickly as it had started. When he looked down at where the Darach had been sprawled as if her strings had been cut, he found only ash.

He removed his hand from the pile of ash, where it surrounded his fingers and placed it alongside the other, on top of the Nemeton.  It was still damaged, but he could feel it healing, slowly. It would take time, but eventually, it would be a true Nemeton again.

“Are you burned?”  Peter asked quietly, suddenly standing right in front of Stiles.  He tried to pull the boy’s hand away from the tree stump, but Stiles resisted.

“No.  That was elemental fire.  It can’t hurt me.”

Peter stared at him for a long moment before letting go and nodding. “If you’re almost finished, we should go.  The others would have felt that. They’ll be worried.”

Stiles turned towards the roots he had borrowed for his prison.  He wasn’t sure how much of his magic would have been felt beyond this tree and into the Nemeton, through their entwined roots. “Thank you.”  He whispered as the roots slowly unwound and began to return to the Earth. He turned towards his companion and stared for a second.

“Peter.”  Stiles hesitated a second.  He knew this was probably the absolute worst time to bring this up, but at the same time, it was kind of ideal.  They were out there, alone, there wasn’t any risk of being overheard, and if Peter got angry, this was really the best place for it.

“I know you and Jackson are still giving each other space, but…have you given any thought to what happened to him?”

“You mean how he ended up adopted by humans and not manifesting as a wolf when he should have?”

“Yeah, that.”

“Magic,”  Peter stated bitterly.  “If I was to guess, she had her Emissary block his Wolf so it would be trapped.”

Stiles nodded sadly.  “That’s what I thought.”

“Have you told Jackson?”

“I’ve discussed it with him, but I think maybe you should as well.”

Peter nodded.  “I will, I’ve probably given him enough space.  It’s time what’s left of the Hales came together as a family.”

“Let’s go.  I can feel Derek.  He’s…unhappy.” Stiles said moving back the way they’d come.

*

Derek was awake and fighting his instincts to trace the pack bonds to find out where Stiles and Peter were.  He didn’t want to worry the others. Jackson and Lydia had shown up right after Stiles had left. She must have sensed something, and Jackson trailed along behind her.  Danny and Isaac had shown up a few minutes later, alerted by the unease in the pack bond.

Derek knew Stiles was okay.  He could feel that much, but he could also feel a strained tension in Peter, and Stiles moving cautiously towards…something.

“He’ll be okay,”  Lucas said quietly, watching these kids sitting around his living room, looking tense.

“I know,”  Derek whispered.  “It’s just, we’re together, as a Pack now, and that’s because of Stiles, and he’s helped me forgive Peter, and I don’t want to lose him yet.  We just lost Erica and Boyd, and I’m not sure we could take the loss.”

Lucas lay a hand on Derek’s back.  “He’ll be fine, and Peter is with him, so…”

Derek looked up, startled, his eyes flashing red in the dim room.  “They’re on their way back.” He slumped slightly, feeling as if some tension he didn’t know he was carrying had been released.

Stiles did enter a few minutes later, and the whole pack minus Derek and Lucas swarmed around him.  When they were sure he was okay, he moved over to his dad and Derek. “Hey. Turns out Ms. Blake is the evil Darach, who’s been killing people.”

“Really?”  Isaac said.  “I didn’t see that coming.”

“She says the Alpha pack is coming here,”  Peter stated quietly, his eyes meeting Derek’s.

That statement confirmed what Stiles had thought about who the Darach was preparing for.  “Then I guess it’s time I put those extra protections in, isn’t it?”

Lucas laughed slightly.  “Tomorrow. Tonight, I think we could all use some sleep.”

Stiles nodded.  “Does everyone want to bunk in with Derek and me or do you want to crash in the spare room?”

Lydia looked at Jackson and Danny and then turned to Isaac before answering for all of them.  “With you and Derek.”

Lucas watched as the Pack, minus Peter walked up the stairs to Stiles bedroom.

“He did well tonight.  He’s learning a lot, and becoming more in tune with the elements.”  Peter whispered.

“That’s what I’m afraid of.  His mother would sometimes get so lost in that part of her power, she didn’t want to come out again.”

“He has us, we’re Pack, and we’ll always be there to pull him out.  Besides, Derek will keep a close eye on him.”

Lucas snorted but couldn’t argue the point.  He imagined Derek would be sharing their house until Stiles decided to move in permanently to the Packhouse.  Hopefully, that wouldn’t be for a little while yet.

“Okay, bed, and tomorrow, I’ll see what kind of breakfast Stiles lets me get away with.”

Peter smiled and followed Lucas up the stairs.

 

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10 Comments:

  1. FYI, I’m loving this series. Just thought you should know

  2. I just wanted you to know that I am loving this whole series. Thank you so much for giving us your time and energy with this story, it is appreciate. Keep being awesome!

  3. Loving this series!

  4. Great Story

  5. Анна Соколова

    Amazing!

  6. Tove Børstad Solem

    Gorgeous writing, I love it

  7. Absolutely epic! Loving this!

  8. Superb,great writing, loved it all, thank you

  9. I absolutely adore this series!

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