The Keeper of Beacon Hills

Status:
  • Complete
Content Rating:
  • PG-13
Fandom(s):
Teen Wolf

Relationship(s):
Stiles Stilinski/Derek Hale

Warning(s):
  • Character Bashing
  • Death - Major Character
  • Discussion - Murder
  • Discussion - Torture
  • Violence - Canon-Level
Genre(s):
  • Alternate Universe
  • Episode Related
  • Pre-Relationship
Word Count:
25800

Author's Note:
Character Deaths mentioned are the same as occur in canon, however they happen differently. This goes AU from the end of S2. I've tagged it as character bashing, though I don't feel I've actually bashed the characters in question. However others may feel differently. Originally posted as part of the 2013 teenwolfbigbang on lj.

Summary:
After time spent with Gerard Argent, Stiles learns the truth about his mother’s death and finds out he’s not as human as he’s always believed. He must face the same choice his mother did and discover if he has the Will to keep Beacon Hills safe for the future.


Alan Deaton looked up from his paperwork as his office door was pushed open.  He lifted his head and stared inquiringly at his sister.

“It’s happening, soon.” The lighter-skinned woman announced.

“Are you sure?”  He asked, shuffling the papers on his desk.

“Something comes.  I’ve Seen it for some months.  There are whispers on the wind.”

Alan raised an eyebrow.  “What you have Seen could not have been the advent of the Kanima or the influence of the Argents?”

“No.  This is something different.  I See something dark building in this place, Alan.  It is true, something has been festering like an open wound, perhaps for too long.”  His sister paused. “The business with the Hunters…they may yet play a part, but if so it is only the beginning…or perhaps, it is an end.”  She paused again, hesitant to voice her real concern. “I have Seen the future that lies ahead if a new Keeper cannot bond with the land, and soon, Alan.  There will be chaos.”

Alan nodded.  “Very well, we must prepare.”

*

Stiles hated Gerard Argent.  Seriously…hated. He had never really hated people before the Argents.  Sure, he thought Jackson was a douche, and Harris was a tool, but he didn’t really hate either one of them.

He knew he himself was kind of an asshole but nothing on the level of these Hunters.  Seriously. What was with these people? He knew that they weren’t all bad. They couldn’t be.  There had to be Hunters somewhere that wasn’t batshit insane. And Allison had been likable …once.  Before she went all crazy like the rest of her certifiable family. Stiles knew that if he got out of this situation alive, he was going to have to explain to Scott about Allison.  How does one even do that? Sorry your girlfriend went crazy, and now she wants to torture your kind and who cares who gets in her way?

He could still smell the electricity in the air as Erica and Boyd were electrocuted.  He wasn’t sure if they were too injured to heal or had chosen not to. Stiles knew that werewolf healing was a mix of involuntary and voluntary.  He’d seen Derek force his healing into action and he’d seen the scrapes and bruises inherent in lacrosse just disappear from Scott.

What he didn’t know was what they were even doing there.  Any of them. He could guess that the Argents had grabbed Erica and Boyd to lure Derek out, either as bait or for information.  He didn’t have either knowledge or a pack connection to Derek, yet here he was. There had to be another angle. Another reason.

And Gerard hadn’t gone easy on him just because he was human.  At first, he didn’t seem to have a purpose to the beatings, almost like he was waiting for something.  Stiles didn’t know what though.

“Do you know why you’re here, Mr. Stilinski?” Gerard asked as he re-entered the basement after a lull where he had left Stiles alone in the dark with his thoughts.

Stiles didn’t move.  He barely breathed. He could feel the movement as the old man stepped down the stairs.  It was quiet though; quiet enough that Stiles wasn’t sure if Gerard was alone. Allison had been with him earlier, her dark eyes devoid of anything even resembling the girl he had once recognized.

“Can’t you hazard a guess?”  Gerard continued, stepping closer. He heard the old man unhooking wires and knew with a sick kind of dread that whatever had happened to Erica and Boyd, however much electricity and power these monsters had fed to them, it was too much. If they were being…disconnected then they were probably dead.

If Gerard was doing it now, in the middle of his little interrogation that probably meant that it was time for Stiles to go through whatever they had.  He probably wouldn’t make it out of this alive. He’d never have the chance to tell Scott about Allison or make things right with his dad or deal with whatever weirdness always seemed to be creeping up between him and Derek every time they were within two feet of each other.  None of it would matter anymore.

Because he would be dead.

Stiles sucked in a breath as he felt Gerard wrap wires tightly around his wrists and then clamp the metal clips to his fingers.

He continued to connect the electrical wiring to him as he spoke. “At first I wasn’t sure if you were just like your mother if the magic that ran through her blood runs through yours.  She healed quickly. Just like these beasts, so I had to test it out…I had to see if you were the same.”

Stiles mind raced, his memory picking out a dozen different incidents of minor injuries his mother had sustained, little things, scrapes from her garden or from running around after him, kitchen burns or tiny cuts…but nothing ever lasted, nothing ever scarred.  Stiles focused back on the Hunter again. “So what, you thought you’d torture me a bit, to see if I was a werewolf? I could have told you I wasn’t. I’m as a human as they come.”

Gerard grinned, and it wasn’t a pleasant expression.  “Not a werewolf, but I thought, if you’re like her, not human either. “  He took a step back to admire his handiwork. “Do you know how your mother died, Mr. Stilinski?”

Stiles scowled.  “Cancer.”

Gerard chuckled.  “That’s a fine bit of irony, but no.  I’m sure that’s what your father told you, to protect you from the truth.”

“What truth?”  Stiles asked, even though it felt like a betrayal to even entertain this man’s fantasies. He tried to move his wrists, but couldn’t. The wiring was binding him as tight as rope, and though it was still too dark to make much out, Stiles remembered the circuit board the wires had been attached to.

“Your mother sacrificed herself for these…abominations.  Her life-blood soaked into this earth to protect this land.”  Gerard smirked as if he was imparting the most joyful news. “She had a choice; to walk away, and leave these…things to their fate, to leave this place open to what was coming.  Instead, she chose to die, to leave you.”

“If leaving this town and its citizens in the hands of people like you were the alternative, then she chose well.”  Stiles gasped out as his struggling caused his previous injuries to flare.

“Your kind are all the same.”  Gerard snorted. “Well, her kind anyway.  I’m still not convinced she passed any of that on to you.”

“You kidnapped me because you thought I had some sort of healing ability, like her.” Stiles narrowed his eyes, looking at the old man with new eyes, assuming if this crazy old man thought his mother had some sort of freaky supernatural ability to heal he must too.  But he knew it was more than that. He wanted something; had hoped to gain something for himself. This was clearly personal. “You’re sick,” Stiles said suddenly in realization. “You’re sick, and you were hoping that you could somehow use this ability, whatever it is, but you were wrong.  I’m not like my mother, I’m just an ordinary human. What are you going to do now?” He scowled in defiance at the Hunter. Stiles knew he was most likely going to die, and he shouldn’t be taunting the crazy fucker, but Stiles wasn’t going to die cowering like a weak human child, even if that’s what he was.

“I had hoped.” Gerard admitted with a sly smile, “ But I did have a backup plan.  One Scott has been helping me with.”

“Scott…”  Stiles’ eyes widened.

“Didn’t he tell you?  He’s going to help me kill Derek and become Alpha…all so he can have Allison.  Ahh…young love.”

Stiles stared at the crazy old man and tried to piece together what he was saying.  The Scott he knew couldn’t possibly be helping a Hunter to become an Alpha werewolf. He couldn’t be planning to kill Derek, no matter how much he hated the older werewolf. It didn’t matter if the reward was Allison as if a person could be offered up as a reward like a prized pony.  However, it was entirely conceivable that Scott was trying to work some sort of angle. Why he wouldn’t tell anyone about that angle was anyone’s guess.

Still, it didn’t explain how he was going to get out of this mess, nor even begin to address any of the questions he had about his mother and whether or not any of what Gerard Argent had said could possibly be true.  First things first.

“You tortured me to see if I would heal like them.  I didn’t. You were wrong.” Stiles coughed as he tried to move slightly, his bruised ribs a testament to how wrong Gerard was.

“That’s true, and now, unfortunately, I have no further use for you.”  He walked over to the circuit board and turned some dials before flipping one final switch.  The current of electricity flowing through the basement light up the room for a few minutes before everything went dark.

*

The Earth trembled.  One of her children was trying to awaken, but the threads between them were weak, so fragile.  She reached out tendrils of power, seeking the life force which beckoned her. He was one of her First Children, though she could sense his power had not yet manifested.  She pushed a tiny spark of energy to join with that which was already contained in his humanoid shell.

It was wasn’t much, but it would be enough.

*

The first thing he noticed was the stillness. There was a complete absence of sound, except for his own breathing.  He wasn’t even sure how he was still alive. He remembered how Grandpa Argent got a little too excited about torturing the locals.  He didn’t even care that his target wasn’t a werewolf. Stiles was trying not to think too hard about what Gerard Argent said about his mother.  It couldn’t be right. Gerard was just a delusional Hunter who saw paranormal creatures everywhere he looked. Nor did it matter if someone was innocent, he just decided to play fast and loose with their damn Code.  If the thing ever really existed, to begin with.

Stiles had promised himself when he first found himself in the Argent’s basement, that if he made it out of this, he’d come clean with his dad, regardless of what either Derek or Scott had to say about it.

Of course, then Grandpa Argent came to see him personally. He’d been hit, kicked, stabbed, and oh yeah, let’s not forget electrocuted.  Stiles didn’t think he would ever get out of this Hell, and he doubted that once he finally passed out, he would ever re-awaken. And that last visit, the electrocution, that was so much worse, because that was the one that should have, beyond any of his other thoroughly painful injuries, killed him.

But here he was, still in the creepy basement, as far as he could tell, but not dead. Nor undead.  At least he doesn’t feel like a ghost or a zombie. Not that he would know what one would feel like.  He’ll count that as a win. He was still surrounded by darkness, and as the feeling came back to his limbs, he realized that he was wedged in between something.  It was too dark to see what that something was, but he thought it might be other people, maybe even Erica and Boyd if they had been moved as well.

He couldn’t smell the scent of electricity in the air anymore, just dirt, and what his recent life choices helped him to recognize as old blood.  He hated his life. He really, really did. What kind of seventeen-year-old could recognize the smell of blood, in the dark, and not be totally wigged out?

He was a little freaked, but what was causing him some concern was not what he could smell, but what he couldn’t hear anymore.

Where were the Argents?  This was their rodeo. They set up all the games, so where were they now?

And even more disturbing?  His body didn’t hurt as much as he thought it should.  He distinctly remembered way too many aches and pains from his treatment at the tender mercies of Gerard Argent.  Possibly some broken bones even. Not to mention the effects of electrocution.

Yet he felt…fine.  Well, not fine. He felt…drawn and tired and heartsore, but physically, he didn’t seem to be injured, which was…perplexing.

He began to move slowly, hoping that he could still get out of this mess.  He didn’t appear to be tied up, which seemed like a bad strategy, for the people torturing him. Still, he would take what he could get.  He sat up carefully and moved his fingers across whatever or whoever it was lying on his right side.

Definitely a person, he observed as he felt along their stomach, moving across their torso until he reached the chest.  It felt like a man. Broad shoulders, but…they didn’t seem to be breathing. At all. So either a remarkably life-like manikin, human form replicator, or a dead body.

Stiles was afraid it was door number three.

*

Stiles walked into the living room and shut the door behind him.  He just stood there, staring at the familiar surroundings and tried to find a tiny bit of the person he had been two days ago.  He couldn’t. That boy was gone.

He stared at the familiar objects around his house. He had grown up in this house.  His mother had once told him that he was born right in this house, in front of the fireplace because she’d refused to go to the hospital. His dad had teased that she had a mistrust of modern medicine.  It had been some sort of inside joke between his parents that Stiles had never understood. One of those things he always meant to ask about but never did because after her death the pain was still too raw.

Now, he looked around and saw the photos of him and his father, and saw that even though they out-numbered the ones with his mother, she hadn’t been made to disappear, and right now, he needed that visual reminder, of who he was and where he came from.

“Son?”

Stiles blinked and looked at his father came running down the stairs.  His father’s arms wrapped around him and squeezed tight. “I was worried.”

Stiles squeezed back and swallowed thickly, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the photo of his mother hanging on the hallway wall. “I’m…here.”

“Where have you been?  I’ve been worried sick.  You just…disappeared after the game.  Jackson Whittmore collapsed and then you were just gone.” The sheriff stepped away and looked his son over. “Are you okay?”

Stiles tore his gaze away from the photo of his mom and looked up at his father for a long moment, thinking of what kind of lie he could tell him this time.  Thankfully he didn’t appear to be injured, thanks to whatever weirdness had happened to him, his wounds had been healed. He was tired. Bone weary, and almost beyond the point where he could continue.  He opened his mouth to lie and say he was fine and then shook his head. “Not even a little bit, dad.”

The sheriff frowned and stared at Stiles.  He looked at the tense way his son was hunched in on himself and sighed.  “I was afraid of that. Why don’t you go get some rest? We can talk later.”

Stiles looked at his father in surprise.  He thought for sure the sheriff in him would be full of questions.

His dad shook his head and smiled slightly, though it was a little sad.  “You left your jeep at the school, son. I know nothing good could have made you do that.”

Stiles nodded and moved past his father towards the stairs. He had wondered how it ended up in the driveway, when he knew it had been at the school last.

“And, son?”  The sheriff waited until Stiles stopped before he continued.  “We will talk about this later.”

Stiles smiled wanly.  “I know, dad.”

The sheriff nodded once more and watched his son slowly climb the stairs.  He knew something had been going on with Stiles for a while, but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was.  Between the lies, the late nights and lines of stress he could sometimes see in his son, he knew whatever it was, it was more serious than issues with school or any new friendships he may have made recently.  Not for the first time, he wondered if it was time to tell Stiles the truth. Would that make things easier for his son? Or harder?

He could feel something brewing.  His wife would have said there was a change in the wind, or perhaps that his aura was picking up on something in the air.  He didn’t know about any of that. He was a practical man, who lived on the fringes of the unknown. What he did know what that something had happened to his son, and whatever it was had left a mark.

*

Stiles stood in the shower for what could have been minutes or hours.  Eventually, he climbed out and dried off. And made his way to his bedroom to get dressed.  He knew that though he wanted to climb into bed for a good long sleep that his day wasn’t over.  It was clear from what Argent had said there was more happening, and he should be there. He was tying the laces on his shoes, debating with himself on whether or not to join the Jackson-saving party when there was a knock on his bedroom door.  He looked up to find Lydia Martin standing there, looking about how he felt.

He blinked at her.  He felt kind of…detached.  He knew he should be overjoyed having her in his bedroom, but he just…wasn’t.

“They won’t let me see Jackson.  I’m supposed to give him something.  He kept asking for it back.” Lydia cried.

Stiles blinked at her tearful statement and wanted to comfort her but felt a little weird about it.  Aside from the fact that it was, well…weird, he just didn’t have the energy. He was drained of emotion, or at least he felt that way.

He got her something to wipe her face with and tried to be understanding and not awkward as hell.  He didn’t think he was successful.

“You have seventeen text messages from Scott.” She said after looking at his cell phone.

“Yeah.”  Stiles agreed.  He hadn’t answered any of them because he couldn’t begin to explain where he had been or what had happened to him.  Not to mention he hadn’t yet decided if he’d even tell him about the possibility of maybe dying and coming back from the dead, not to mention the crazy!Allison parts or what had happened to Erica and Boyd.  He felt Derek should hear about that last part first if he didn’t know about it already. Stiles was unclear how connected werewolves were to one another when part of a pack. His research was inconclusive, and he’d never asked Derek about it directly.  He had tried to call Derek and warn him about Gerard but couldn’t get a hold of him, and he was having too much trouble functioning to physically leave the house to track him down.

“Are you avoiding him?”  Lydia asked curiously, looking through the weird collection of crap on his desk.

“Yeah, kind of.”  Stiles sighed. “I just…something happened.  Something bad and I’m not sure how to even explain it or if I even can.”

Before he could continue another text message comes in, and Lydia looks at it.  “You’re going to want to see this.”

Stiles read the text and sighed.  Well, that decided it then. He looked at Lydia and knew there really wasn’t any use talking her out of it, but he had to make sure she knew what she was getting into.  “I know we’ve kind of kept you in the dark, and I’m sorry about that, but how much do you really know about this stuff?”

“Pieces.  Half of it’s like a dream.”

“I was afraid of that.” Stiles sighed.  “The other half…it’s like a freaking nightmare.”

“I don’t care.  I can help Jackson.”  She pled.

“I get that.  I do.” Stiles nodded. “You don’t care about getting hurt, but the people that care about you, they’ll be devastated if something happens to you while you’re saving him.”

“Do you know what it’s like caring about someone so much you’d do anything to make sure they’re safe and happy?  Even when they are nothing but an asshole to you?”

Stiles sighed, thinking about a similar relationship he had.  “I’m starting to. Come on. Let’s go save lizard boy.”

*

Gerard Argent dragged himself away when everyone was preoccupied with the miraculous saving of Jackson Whitmore. Ordinarily, he’d find it a waste of time and effort, but since it allowed him to escape, he wasn’t going to complain.

“Look, Teridyne, he thinks he can escape.”  A deep voice startled him into shifting onto his wounded arm.  He grunted painfully.

“I see that Seldyn.”  A melodious voice chuckled in response.

He turned and looked up at the pair. The man was huge, at least seven feet, with the bulk to match and the features of a Native American.  The woman was tiny, maybe four feet with almond eyes and had a paleness to her skin which indicated she had some fey lineage.

“Who are you?”  He asked his voice rough from sickness.

“We are the last thing you shall ever see.”  A third voice answered jumping from a tree above and ripping out his throat in one brutal swipe.

“Hmm.”  Seldyn looked at the body appraisingly.  “What shall we do with him?”

Varnosh licked his claws and then made a face at the offensive taste. “Leave it out where the young ones can find it, so they don’t spend too much time needlessly searching.  This defiler has wasted enough of our time as it is.”

*

“Stiles!” Scott reached out to grab his arm.  “Where are you going?” He had run out after his friend once he’d made sure Allison was okay, and Jackson wasn’t going to revert back into a Kanima.  He didn’t know where Stiles was running off to anyway. His Jeep was back in the warehouse, along with everyone else.

Stiles stopped.  His body was still, so different from the Stiles of before, the Stiles of the hyperactivity and the diarrhea of the mouth.   That Stiles would give Scott a quick grin and let him believe everything was alright, even if it wasn’t. That Stiles was dead.

“I’m going home.  I’m tired.” He started to move away again.  He wasn’t sure how he’d get home. His Jeep wasn’t precisely in driving condition, but he’d walk if he had to.

“Wait!  Stiles, wait. I think, maybe Allison might be okay now.”  Scott said earnestly as if that was the most important thing that had transpired tonight.

Stiles took a deep breath and then let it out again.  “I have to get out of here.” Go, go, go.

“Didn’t you hear me?”  Scott asked plaintively.

“I heard you.  I just don’t care about Allison fucking Argent right this second.”  Stiles said slowly, trying to keep calm. The wind started to rustle somewhere nearby.

“I don’t understand,”  Scott said.

“No, Scott,” Stiles said wearily. “You really, really don’t.”  He turned back to his oldest friend and willed him to hear him.   “Allison was insane that night at the sheriff’s station, and I have no doubt it was her arrows poking holes in Erica and Boyd.  I can’t let this go, not this time. I saw her in action as a hunter tonight. Allison is dangerous. She’s out of control.”

Scott took a deep breath. “But you’re alright…right?  Nothing really happened. She said afterward …after whatever Gerard did to you,  she went to check on you and you weren’t…well, wherever they left you, so you got away, and you weren’t really hurt, right?”

Stiles snorted.  He remembered the smell of charred flesh and the scent of Erica’s tears and knew it would haunt him forever.  He recalled that when he woke up, he was laid out between Boyd and Erica’s bodies. Stiles knew that for whatever reason, whatever freaky sparkish reason he had come back from the abyss of death, Erica and Boyd were not as lucky, and maybe that was good because the whole experience would be giving him nightmares for a long time to come.  The thing that he remembered the most vividly was how Allison had stood in the room with Gerard Argent and had no qualms about torturing them. The hollowness in her eyes is something he won’t be forgetting anytime soon. She may not have been there when Gerard had electrocuted him, had killed him, but she had been present for the beatings.  She had stood by while her grandfather lectured about how this is what happens when you lie with the dogs.  She stood there and said nothing as if she agreed with him. And she may have gone back looking for Stiles, he wouldn’t know if that was true or not.  Even if she had gone back looking for Stiles, did she have any reaction to the sight of Boyd and Erica’s bodies?  Or were they just animals needing to be put down to her?

“I know she’s not herself.”  Scott was saying, bringing Stiles back to the present. “She’s grieving.  She’ll get a handle on it, I know she will. Her grandfather was twisting her, but she sees that now, she’ll get better.”

“I get that she’s grieving, Scott,”  Stiles said quietly. He understood that dark place of grief, but he just didn’t care about Allison’s grief anymore.  He had other people he needed to worry about. “She isn’t the only person who has ever lost someone. Believe me, I get it.  But she wants to heap all of the blame onto Derek because it’s easiest, but that’s completely unfair.”

“Derek is to blame!” Scott yelled, his own frequent anger at Derek getting the better of him for a moment.

Stiles tenuous control over his temper snapped.  “No, Scott, he’s not! You’ve never been able to grasp the fact that Derek isn’t to blame for all of your problems.  He didn’t bite you, Peter did that.” The wind surrounding them picked up abruptly, but neither boy seemed to notice.

“I could have been normal if Derek hadn’t killed him,”  Scott mumbled.

“First of all, there is no guarantee that that would have even worked.  Second of all, Derek has way more reasons to want to see Peter dead than you could ever hope to claim.  So you’re a werewolf? Big Fucking Deal. Put your big girl panties on and deal with it.” He took a step closer to Scott, “and as for Allison, she blames Derek for Victoria’s death, I get that, but Derek didn’t kill her, he bit her.  Not the same damn thing.  She decided to commit suicide rather than deal with it.  And the only reason he bit her in the first place was to save your worthless ass when Victoria tried to murder you, so if you ask me the whole thing was her own damn fault!”

“And while we’re on the subject of Allison, she seems to have forgotten all about what dear Aunt Kate did to the Hales and is blaming Derek for what happened to Kate as well.  Newsflash. Not only is Derek innocent of Kate’s death but Kate committed mass murder so as far as I’m concerned she got exactly what was coming to her!”

Scott took a step back.  He’d never seen Stiles riled up like this before.  “Why are you so angry tonight?”

Stiles blinked. “Why am I so angry?  I was just tortured…and watched two people who could have been friends not only tortured alongside me, but they are not around to be angry about it, because they are dead, Scott and your girlfriend not only stood there and watched, she helped.  So excuse me if I don’t feel like listening to you go on and on about how Allison is the wounded party in this scenario because she’s not. And you?  Working with Gerard Argent? Don’t even get me started on that.” He held up a hand as Scott opened his mouth. “I don’t care what your reasons were. There was another choice. There’s always another choice besides making a deal with the devil.” He took a deep breath. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go let my dad know I’m still alive, more or less, and tell Derek about Erica and Boyd.”

*

Sheriff Lucas Stilinski stepped inside the Veterinary clinic and looked around.  Dr. Deaton had called while Stiles had been out with the Martin girl, doing who knows what and said that it was important that they meet.

“Sheriff.”  Doctor Alan Deaton came out front and locked the door behind the sheriff.  “Thank you for coming. We have a lot to discuss, and I fear not a lot of time.”

“Okay.”  The Sheriff nodded and followed the doctor to the back where he knew the veterinarian’s office was located.  He was surprised to find someone else waiting for them.

“Have you met my sister, Marin Morrell?  She works at Beacon Hills High School as a Guidance counselor, among other things.”

“I don’t think so, no, but Stiles has mentioned her once or twice.”  The sheriff nodded at the young woman sitting in a chair in the front of Deaton’s desk.

“Stiles is why we’re here, actually.”

The sheriff sighed.  He had a feeling this wasn’t about police business. “Perhaps I’d better sit down.”  He motioned towards the other chair in front of Deaton’s desk. When the doctor nodded, the Sheriff sat and looked between the two.

“Maybe I’d better start with a bit of backstory.  As I’m sure you are aware, many things in this world defy explanation by both science and the common understanding. Vampires, Werewolves, and magical folk are but a few.”  Deaton pulled out a map and unrolled it. “This town is a nexus of magical energy and as such draws many supernatural creatures to it.”

“I know all that.  It’s why Emeline and I settled here, to begin with.”  Lucas interrupted.

“Yes, your wife had special gifts.”  Deaton acknowledged. “Her people have an affinity with the land and often act as emissaries, of a sort, in times of conflicts when territories are disputed, and the land itself may have a…bias, shall we say which way the conflict ends.”

“She brokered the treaty between the Hale pack and the Turok Tribe to the East.”  Lucas offered with as much of an admission as he was willing to at this point in the conversation.

“My people are emissaries, as well, sheriff.”

“Emissaries to who, exactly?”  Lucas asked, narrowing his eyes.

The doctor turned his gaze towards his sister and then back to the sheriff and shrugged.  “Our people have served the Lycan’s for many generations. Sometimes, we see and hear things that we wish we didn’t, and sometimes our own gifts give us foresight we wish we did not have.”

“What do you know of your wife’s life before coming to Beacon Hills?” Ms. Morrell asked quietly.

“Emeline was Fey. Her people are tied to the land.”  Lucas offered. He knew it was more complicated than that, especially in Emeline’s case but even after the years that had passed it was painful to talk about her, especially with virtual strangers.

“Fey are magical folk intrinsically tied to the Earth it’s true, but, their power is also connected to other forms of nature; air, water, fire, they all connect together.  Because this town is situated on a nexus of magical energy, it draws those with the ability to feel it. Paranormals tend to come here more often than other places because of that.”

Lucas nodded.  “Because of the magical energy here, and the increasing level of tension, the Paranormal Council of Elders, decided to raise the Magical Barrier that surrounds Beacon Hills.” He paused a second, twisting his wedding ring around.  Some thought it odd he still wore it, but he wasn’t yet ready to take it off. He looked back up at Deaton. “Emeline volunteered to become its Keeper.”

“A decision that led to her death.”  Ms. Morrell stated quietly.

Lucas narrowed his eyes.  “Emeline took her duties as a Keeper very seriously.  She was dedicated to the cause of peace and the peoples of this land.  She sacrificed her life for it. That was a choice she made, I don’t begrudge her that.”

“Even though she left your son unprepared for what lies ahead for him?”

“Her choices were her own.”  He repeated again. He wasn’t going to defend Emeline’s actions to these people who hadn’t known the brightness of his wife’s soul or of the sorrow of her passing.  “As I understood it, there was no other option,” Lucas stated, slightly more calmly. “There was no one else to do it, no one with the power, nor the tie to the land.  Certainly not anyone with a connection to the local pack, even peripherally. It had to be her.” He took a deep breath and released it, then realized what Ms. Morrell had insinuated.

“You think Stiles will soon come into his own power.” Lucas guessed.  He knew it was always a possibility. As of yet, Stiles had shown no sign of his Fey heritage, the land had not laid claim to him, but he was still young.  He had observed his son over the past few years, trying to determine if any of his mother’s abilities has passed to him. Nothing had, as far as Lucas could tell.  The only thing he knew for sure was Stiles was adept at lying and getting himself into and out of trouble with increasing frequency.

“We believe so, yes,”  Deaton answered. “And the sacrifice Emeline made may not be enough any longer.”

Lucas sighed.  “Why?”

“This territory has been fractured for some time.  The Council of Elders has let it go on for so long because Emeline’s sacrifice has kept the Gate’s protection active, but we believe it is breaking down. Also, the Hale pack itself was…disjointed, uneven.  However, the Alpha is regaining his footing, and while he has recently lost some of his numbers, those that are left are not as divided as they appear.” Deaton looked once more at his sister as she stiffened her spine in the chair.

“There is a change coming. Something dark rises and Beacon Hills will need a new Keeper to stand against this new evil.  This much, I have foreseen.” Marin said solemnly, her dark eyes boring into the sheriffs.

A new Keeper. Lucas heard her words and listened to what she wasn’t saying as much as what she had.  He sighed heavily.

“I guess it’s time for me to tell Stiles what really happened to his mother,”  Lucas said wearily as he stood up. “If he is going to come into his Fey heritage he should be prepared.”

“That might be best,”  Deaton answered.

*

The house was empty when Stiles got back, not that he was overly surprised.  His dad was always busy, and he’d taken advantage of it more than once. He was glad of it on this particular occasion as well because he wanted to decompress before he had to face his dad and his disappointed face.

Stiles knew the time for excuses and lies and half-truths were over, but he wasn’t really sure how he was going to tell his dad everything that had happened, or how he’d get him to believe, or once he did, how disappointed he’d be.

It wasn’t long before he heard his bedroom window sliding open.  He knew Derek would track him down before long. Derek would have known he’d been around Erica and Boyd even if he didn’t know for how long or what happened exactly.  Their scent still probably clung to him, shower notwithstanding.

“You okay?”  Derek asked after a moment.  It wasn’t what he had meant to ask, or what he had come here for but Stiles looked off and smelled…wrong.  No, not wrong, just different. He could scent his packmates on him, and he certainly wanted to ask about that…find out what had happened, but it was more than that.  Something fundamental had…shifted, altered in some way.

Stiles laughed, but there was a hysterical edge to his laughter.  “No.” He took a deep breath, let it out slowly. “I was going to come to see you later after I got my shit together anyway.”

Derek raised his brows. “Is this about Erica and Boyd?”

“They’re dead,”  Stiles said abruptly, his voice brittle.

“I know,” Derek said quietly.  “I felt them…through the bond.”  He stared at Stiles curiously. “How did you know?  Were you with them? I mean, I know you were at some point, but…”

“I was with them when it happened,”  Stiles admitted, lowering his voice to match Derek’s.  He shook his head. “No, that’s not right. I watched them die, I’m pretty sure I did anyway.  Things got a little hazy. Gerard Argent took me after the lacrosse game. He wanted…hell, I don’t know what he wanted…to taunt the weak, human member of the pack…to make some wild accusations.  He said some pretty crazy things…about my mom. But that was later, before that it was mostly about the violence.” Stiles snorted, his voice raw. He took a deep breath, to calm himself as much as to focus his thoughts.  “Gerard didn’t ask me anything though, not about the pack. Although he did tell me that he was working with Scott, which I guess didn’t work out like he planned since Scott poisoned him and all. I also think he was trying to prove a point to Allison.  She was there too. He had Erica and Boyd hooked up to electricity when he brought me into the basement. They were scared, Derek. I don’t know how long they’d been tied up like that before I was brought in, but…I think the Argents waited until I got there to kill them.  Like I was some sort of sick witness.”

“It’s not your fault,”  Derek said quietly. “They did this to hurt us.”

Stiles nodded rapidly. “It was so quiet afterward.  Before, I could…I could hear them breathing, and crying, and just…living, you know?  It was dark in the room so I couldn’t really see much, just hear really. The first punch almost came as a shock. I started to mouth off, you know me.”  His lips twisted wryly. “The hits kept coming, followed by kicks and…other things. He just kept going on and on about how this is what happens when you consort with the enemy.  I think he was trying to make an example of us..for Allison. To tell her that if she didn’t choose the hunter way of life she would end up like me. Bruised and broken.” Stiles started to hyperventilate just picturing it, and he hadn’t even gotten to the part about what happened next.

“Just breathe, Stiles,”  Derek said softly, his hand warm on Stiles back, grounding him.

“I think he was wasting his breath though.  The look in her eyes. She looked dead inside.  Like…I don’t know…hollowed out.” Stiles sighed.  “They left me alone for a while. I’m not sure how long; I think I passed out for a while.  When Gerard came back, he was alone.”

Stiles swallowed.  “Gerard…that was when he wanted to talk to me about my mom…he knew things about her, some of it…I’m not sure if it was true or if he was just crazy… then he…told me he thought I was like her, some kind of…I don’t know what. He said he thought I could heal myself like you guys do.  According to him, my mom could do that.” Stiles looked up at Derek, his eyes wide. “And and freaky thing is? I remember a couple times when I was a kid, her getting cut or something and the injury always just….went away.” He took another breath as he felt himself starting to panic again. “Then Gerard hooked me up to all these wires, just like he did to Erica and Boyd and I knew I was next, that I was going to die alone in that basement and I’d never get to tell my dad I loved him…or what was going on here…or you’d never know what happened to Boyd and Erica and…”

“Shh,”  Derek whispered, just as quiet as before. “You’re here, just breathe.”

Stiles shuddered once and then nodded before continuing.  “Gerard just looked at me with those cold eyes and said that since I wasn’t like my mom, he didn’t have any use for me and just…electrocuted me.

“When I woke up I was lying between Erica and Boyd…their bodies. I thought I’d passed out at first, not…not died but all my injuries had healed.  So, I don’t know what happened. I could feel this weird…thrumming through my body. I can still sort of sense it if I concentrate. I figure Gerard put my body with Erica and Boyd to dispose of later.  Who does that?”

“Hunters,” Derek spoke softly as he pulled Stiles into his arms, not sure what else to say or do in such a situation.

“Yeah,”  Stiles whispered into his shoulder.  He swallowed heavily before whispering, “It still doesn’t explain how I’m still alive, or how my injuries were healed.  I was hurt, Derek. Seriously.”

“We’ll figure it out,”  Derek whispered.

“He told me Scott’s plan was his backup plan. You know, if the thing with me didn’t work.”

“Back up plan,”  Derek repeated. “Killing me and becoming an Alpha was his back-up plan?”  Derek asked incredulously.

“That never would have worked,”  Stiles said quickly. He wasn’t sure if he was trying to be reassuring or not.

“Because of Scott’s plan?”  Derek asked curiously.

Stiles snorted.  “No. Scott makes horrible plans.  Because to turn someone you have to Bite with intent.  You had intent when you bit Boyd, Erica, and Isaac, even Jackson.  Peter had it with Scott, as mad as he was at the time. This time, there was no intent.  Gerard as long as he’s been hunting doesn’t know anything about being an Alpha, and neither does Scott, as much as he likes to play at being one.”

“And Victoria?”  Derek asks, amused and a little surprised at Stiles knowledge.

“I’ll admit that threw me for a little bit.  I think maybe you wanted that to happen, maybe subconsciously, maybe just the tiniest bit.  Not the suicide part, ‘cause that’s just Hunter craziness, especially considering Gerard’s Back Up Plan.  But, maybe for a split second, the thought was there, or maybe it was more than that, but the thought did occur at some point.”

Derek nodded once in acknowledgment.  “Gerard’s not a threat any longer.”

“What happened?”  Stiles asked. When he had left Gerard had escaped after his plan had been derailed and Chris Argent was going to set up some sort of search grid for him.

“Not sure, exactly.  Someone or something killed him.  Torn his head clean off his shoulders in one clean swipe.”

Stiles raised his eyebrows.  “Hmmm. Can’t say I’m too sorry about that.”

“No, me either, though I’m slightly concerned about who or what could have done it, or why.”

“That is slightly concerning.”  Stiles agreed.

“Who knows?  That you died? Or that you think you were dead?”  Derek asked squeezing his shoulder once tightly before stepping away.

Stiles shrugged.  “No one really. I saw Scott on the way home and ripped into him about Allison because I said she was out of control and he was all she’s grieving, and you’re not hurt so it’s okay.  I mentioned being tortured but not dying or whatever the hell happened to me. I’m not sure if Allison knows or not. I’m a little hazy on some of the torture bits. I know she was present for some of it…a lot of it, really.  But, she wasn’t there at the end. I have a feeling Gerard didn’t want her to know about the stuff about my mom…about me. If that’s the case, I doubt he would have told her about whatever it is. Also, while I didn’t tell my father I died he knows something happened and he wants to talk later, and I plan to come clean about everything.”  He narrowed his eyes at the Alpha.

Derek just nodded his head.  “Maybe I should be here for that, you know, as evidence.”

Stiles thought about that a second.  He wasn’t sure he wanted Derek present for his heart-to-heart with his dad, but he didn’t really want to have to wait for Derek to arrive, or have his dad not believe him.  On the other hand, he didn’t want his dad getting all defensive just at the sight of Derek right off the bat. “Yeah, okay. It might be better to get everything out in the open at once.”

Derek’s phone started to trill followed immediately by a buzzing from Stiles desk.  Stiles’ eyebrow rose and picked up his own phone. It was never a good sign when both of their phones were going off at the same time.

“Scott wants to meet,”  Derek said after reading his text.

Stiles read his own text and snorted.  “Yeah. I think I’ll pass. You go ahead though.”

Derek narrowed his eyes, reading Scott’s summons.  “What about your dad?”

Stiles shrugged.  “We have a lot to talk about.  Not just the werewolf stuff. I’ll save that for last.  Come over after you’re done, and we can do show and tell then.”

Derek moved towards the window, pausing once to ask, “You’re sure you’re alright?”

“Alright?  Not even close.”  He sighed. “But I’m alive, and that’s more than some people can claim.”  He waved a hand towards the open window. “Go on.”

Once he was sure Derek was gone and not listening, he sighed heavily and picked up his phone to call his dad.  They really needed to have that talk, and he’d prefer to get it out of the way.

He only got as far as staring at the keypad when he heard his dad’s cruiser pull into the driveway.  He wasn’t sure if he should run screaming from the room or be happy that once this was done there’d be no more lies.  There would be nothing left to lie about.

*

“Well?”  Derek scowled at Scott.  He was not in the mood for the teenager’s attitude tonight.  Between the bone weary exhaustion that was reaching for him if he just allowed it to drag him under for only one second, and the hollow feeling where Erica and Boyd used to be if he allowed himself to focus in that direction. Add in Scott’s ridiculous plan to work with the very people who were in the center of every ounce of pain and misery the Hale family had endured in the last decade, and now Stiles and whatever had happened to him.

He didn’t know what exactly was different about him, but there was something…other about him tonight.  He had vague memories from when his parents were alive, half-heard conversations between Emeline Stilinski and his own mother, but it was so long ago, and he was too young to fully grasp.  Perhaps Peter might remember something. Maybe…

Derek pushed the thoughts away.  He was too tired to think about them now.  Not with so much left to do. Scott calling a meeting was unusual enough, but it looked like he wasn’t leaving anyone out.

Jackson and Lydia and were standing on the edge of the forest, Lydia gripping Jackson’s arm tightly and trying to look like she didn’t mind that she was surrounded by werewolves.  Their human friend was with them, standing on Jackson’s other side, resembling a cross between shocked and curious. Derek knew he’d be irritated at another time about another human being put into danger but considering Jackson’s actions over the past several months it was probably inevitable.

Isaac was hunched in on himself as he listened to Scott speak softly to him as if he didn’t want to face whatever it was Scott was trying to tell him.  Derek could have listened to their conversation, but honestly, he was too tired to engage Scott in what the younger werewolf seemed to think was some sort of custody battle.  Derek was going to go over to them and speak to Isaac when he caught sight of Chris Argent standing by a tree, his face an expressionless mask. His eyes, however, looked almost sad.  If one could attribute the emotion to an Argent.

Peter stood in the opposite area, a slight smirk on his face, his eyes betraying nothing.

Derek changed direction and moved over to him swiftly.  They spoke without words mostly. Peter smirked as he surveyed the group, his expression gleeful as he noted the humans, and his eyes narrowed maliciously as they skimmed over Chris Argent and the absence of Allison.

“Just you?”  Peter eventually asked.

Derek nodded.

Peter looked at his nephew more closely.  “Something’s happened.” He observed.

Derek tilted his head slightly and raised one eyebrow.

“Hmmm.“  Was all Peter offered.

“Scott!”  Derek barked, focusing his attention back on the reason for their gathering.

Scott moved away from Isaac and looked around the forest as if surprised to find the area filled.  He turned around in a circle as if looking for something.

“Lose something?”  Peter asked slyly, unable to resist the urge to poke at what would no doubt prove to be an open wound.

“Where’s Stiles?”  Scott asked, ignoring Peter, his eyes going around the clearing, finally to land on Derek. He could smell Stiles on the Alpha.

“Home.”  Derek offered with a shrug.

“What?  Why? Didn’t he get my text?”

“He got it,”  Derek affirmed.

“Then why isn’t he here.  You could have come together.”  Scott accused.

Derek nodded.  “We could have.  He didn’t want to come.  He wants to talk to his dad about some things that happened tonight.”  He looked pointedly from Scott to Chris Argent.

“Is that such a good idea?” Chris Argent asked.

Derek shrugged.  “Not my choice to make.”  He turned back to Scott. “Now, I have someplace to be, and my pack has preparations to make.  Why are we here?”

Scott stared at Derek for a long minute, not sure exactly what to make of what was going on.  Everything was very confusing. He shook his head, ignoring most of what Derek said as unimportant.  “We need to start working together. What happened tonight could have been avoided if we’d all been working together.”

Derek snorted.  “Really? You’re going to preach unifying our groups when you’re the one who was working with the enemy?”  He pointed roughly at Chris. “I’m sorry, but his family killed two of my pack tonight and while I don’t hold him personally responsible I don’t want to work with him either.”

“I would have let them go,”  Chris said.

Derek stared across the clearing at him.  “Strangely, that doesn’t make me feel any better.  And what about Stiles? Your daughter and your father had him in that basement for hours.  Do you know what happened to him?”

Chris looked away uncomfortably.  “I didn’t know about that.”

“Again, I’m not comforted.”  Derek bit out with a low growl.

Chris nodded.  “Fair enough.” He sighed and looked across the clearing at Derek. “I just came to let you know that our treaty still stands.”  He stepped away from the tree and moved back towards where he parked.

Derek watched him go and then turned his gaze to Jackson and Lydia and their friend.  Jackson blinked back at him and then sneered at the assembled group before walking away without a word. Lydia’s eyes narrowed on Peter before following.  Their friend just trailed behind them. Derek would get Stiles to talk to them later.

He turned his gaze to Isaac and raised an eyebrow questioningly.

Isaac looked torn between Derek and Scott and Derek sighed. “Not tonight, Scott.  I’m tired and pissed off, and I really do have somewhere to be.” He started to move past them but stopped and laid a hand against Isaac’s neck as he passed and felt the other wolf relax under his touch. “Come to the house later so we can put them to rest.” He whispered before walking away, not sparing another glance for Scott.

Peter slipped into step beside him as he moved through the trees towards the Camaro.  “Stiles house?” He asked after he was far enough away to be out of hearing range.

“I’ll be back later to complete the rites,”  Derek said. He paused as he reached the car. “Do you remember anything…unusual about Emeline Stilinski?”

Peter paused, his brain ticking over to the years long passed.  “I remember her death, and she did not die of Cancer, and I remember she smelled like warm earth and fresh rain.”  He started to move away and then paused, “and I remember she carried the scent of powerful magic.”

*

When Lucas returned home, he found Stiles in the kitchen.  To a casual observer, it might look as if nothing was wrong, but Lucas had spent many years observing his son, and he could tell that something was most definitely wrong.

“I think it’s time to have that talk.”

Stiles didn’t jerk or flail, as he was wont to do, which was perhaps the most significant sign to Lucas that things had shifted.  Stiles just nodded wearily and even without the warnings he’d just received from Dr. Deaton and Ms. Morrell, the sheriff had a feeling he would have been able to pick up on the differences in his son’s aura.

Aura.  There’s a word he hadn’t thought in many years.  It was a word he hadn’t even known the meaning of before he met and married Emeline.  Lucas was a practical man, and while he considered himself someone with a supremely open mind, he had never realized just how open it would need to be until the day he met her.

Their life together before Stiles came into it had been full of strange and wondrous things, some frightening, some beautiful, and never once had he been sorry he had taken that leap of faith. He watched his son for a minute longer before he took a seat at the kitchen table. He figured this conversation was long overdue and he’d sooner do it here than in the living room.

“You want to tell me what happened after the game?”  Lucas asked finally, knowing they had to start somewhere and while they did need to talk about Emeline, whatever had happened to Stiles had started with the events of the Lacrosse game and Stiles disappearance from it.

“Gerard Argent kidnapped me,”  Stiles said without any kind of preface at all.   He just threw it out there.

Lucas blinked, that had not been what he was expecting. “Okay.  Why?” Lucas was well aware that the Argents were hunters but the last he knew they specialized in hunting werewolves, which as far as Lucas knew, Stiles was not. In fact, he was pretty sure it was impossible for Stiles to be turned into a werewolf, or any supernatural creature of any kind, since he already technically was one, even if he hadn’t come into any Fey magics yet.

“He’s um…” Stiles fiddled with the cap on the water bottle he’d brought to the table.  “He’s not just the school principal.”

“No,” Lucas agreed.  “He’s a werewolf hunter, but you are not a werewolf.”

Now it was Stiles turn to stare dumbfounded at his father.  “You, uh…know about werewolves?”

Lucas smiled wryly.  “I am the sheriff of Beacon Hills, son.  And I’m not an idiot. Mountain Lions? Really?  Besides, your mother and I moved to this town for a reason.”  He said the last softly.

Stiles blinked in shock. “About that…”

Lucas held up a hand.  “Tell me about what happened after the game first.”

Stiles took a deep breath and explained, leaving almost nothing out, not only about what the Argents had done to him and Erica and Boyd but also the events leading up to this one.  He talked for so long he thought he was going to run out of words, which had never happened to him before. His father never interrupted, except to ask for clarification. Stiles was afraid to look too closely at his father, he knew there would be disappointment in his eyes.  He knew that even if his father had known about werewolves, which was weird, and he’d freak out about that later, he’d never expected what had been going on, or at least never expected that Stiles was right in the middle of it all.

Lucas thought over the past events and filtered in this knew information.  He had known the Hales were werewolves, and therefore that Derek and Laura were werewolves.  Seeing how she had died his first thought had been hunters. Cutting people in half was usually their Modus Operandi.  When the animal hair had shown up, it had thrown that belief into question. While that had cleared Derek in the eyes of the human justice system, Lucas knew that he should, by all rights, still, suspect him.  He didn’t though. He couldn’t ever picture Derek brutally murdering his sister like that.

The information that was most troubling though was this business with this Kanima.  He’d never heard of a turning going wrong like that, but then he knew the Whittemore boy did have some issues.

Lucas sighed.  “Stiles. I wished you would have talked to me about this stuff earlier.”  He shook his head brushing away thoughts of what couldn’t be changed. “At the very least, you should have explained about Jackson and this Kanima business when his father filed the restraining order.”

“You couldn’t have done anything.”  Stiles protested, frightened thinking about what a Matt-controlled Kanima could have done to his father.

“I know that, son.  But I would have understood what you and Scott were trying to do.  Maybe I could have helped Melissa to understand as well. Finding out that way, at the station, that couldn’t have been easy on her.  Finding out about the paranormal world is kind of shocking, especially if you’re not in any way prepared. She wasn’t, was she?”

“No,”  Stiles admitted.  “Matt shot Scott, and then it was all furry faces and lizard skin.  Well, the furry face was Scott, the lizard skin was all Jackson, but well…then Derek was there, and it was…”

“I’m sure it was scary…for Melissa.”  Lucas pointed out because he had figured out that whether or not Stiles was frightened of something or not it wouldn’t stop him from doing what he felt he had to.  He was a lot like Emeline that way.

“Yeah.  Melissa was pretty freaked out.  Scott said she avoided him for a while.”

“That had to hurt,” Lucas observed.

Stiles shrugged.  He knew it had and at the time he felt awful for Scott, he still did actually, but his current feelings about Scott were muddling a lot of things.

“So, you’ve spent the past two years running around with a pack of werewolves,”  Lucas said with a shake of his head. “I’m not happy about all the lies you’ve been feeding me, Son.  And there will be consequences for that, but…I get why you got involved.” He sighed and chuckled softly.  “A pack, huh?”

“No.”  Stiles disagreed.  “Not a pack. I mean, Derek has a pack, at least he does now, sort of.  But it hasn’t always been…” Stiles shrugged not sure how to explain it accurately.  He’d explained everything that had happened, but he hadn’t really gotten into how everyone interacted together.

“You said this all started when Scott was bit by an Alpha, and Derek killed the Alpha during that whole mess with Kate Argent last year.”  Lucas stared at Stiles shrewdly. “Stiles, don’t think I haven’t noticed how you were conveniently vague about the identity of this Alpha.”

Stiles swallowed and took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Does it matter?  It’s over now. Derek’s the Alpha now.”

Lucas nodded. “I get that, but if I’m reading your reticence correctly, then the person responsible is not out of the picture.”

Stiles closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the table.  He did not want to answer this question. Peter was not his favorite person, but since he had returned from the dead, he had been helping them with the Jackson situation, and Derek was letting him stay. So, Stiles didn’t want to make things more awkward than necessary.

“It was my uncle,”  Derek said from the doorway leading into the kitchen from the living room.

Stiles startled, but Lucas didn’t so much as twitch as if he had been expecting Derek to appear.  He nodded at Derek’s statement as if he had expected as much.

“I told him about everything.” Stiles jumped up and waved his arm around to encompass the everything in question.

“Do you need proof?”  Derek asked the sheriff.

Lucas smiled slightly.  Derek Hale seemed so tense and grave as he asked.  He had a vague recollection of the young boy from all those years ago, before Emeline’s sacrifice, before the fire had claimed so many. “No.  I knew your parents. Talia and Emeline were…colleagues, I guess you could say.”

Derek’s eyebrows did some strange thing, and Stiles gaped for second before he found his voice again.  “Our mom’s knew each other? How?”

Lucas sighed.  “In a minute. I want to finish this first.”  He waved to an empty chair. “Take a seat, Derek.”

Lucas turned back to Stiles as Derek sat down on the chair next to Stiles.  “Gerard took you from the game. Did he say what he wanted?”

Stiles looked uncomfortable.  He wouldn’t look at either man seated at the table with him and instead watched his own fingers as they ran along the scarring in the wood of the tabletop.

“Stiles,”  Lucas said.

“He said some stuff about mom.”  Stiles finally admitted.

“What kind of stuff?”  Lucas asked cautiously.

Stiles looked at Derek for a second. Derek stared back silently before he nodded at him to continue.  He felt Derek’s hand on his thigh in support. Stiles looked across at his dad for the first time. He wanted to see his reaction to what he said next.

“He said mom didn’t die of Cancer…”

The sheriff sighed.  “I should have talked to you about this sooner, but it never seemed like the right time.  I always thought we’d have time to talk about it but well…we never did. We never talked about her death, we never just talk about…her.  When she died you were so young, I just wanted to protect you.”  He sighed again and looked at his son. “I still want that, but I guess it’s a little late for that, huh?”

Stiles wanted to disagree.  He wanted to tell his dad that he’d never be too old for his dad’s protection.  He wanted that frown between his father’s eyebrows to go away, and he wished, more than anything, to not be the reason for his father’s disappointment.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t change the past, not his mother’s, and not the past two years. He wasn’t even sure he would if given the option, despite all the harrowing, life-changing events.

“Oh kid,” Lucas said wearily.  “Don’t ever think that I don’t love you or that I’m not proud of you, and your mom, she would be too.  You’re just like her, you know? Always right in the middle of things.” He laughed softly. “She always hoped you’d take after her.  She loved you so much, and she wanted to pass on her heritage.”

“Her heritage?”  Stiles asked quietly.  He was afraid to ask what exactly that meant, though he was almost positive that his father was about to confirm Gerard Argent’s wild accusation wasn’t so crazy.

Lucas smiled slightly as he looked from Derek to Stiles.  He knew the werewolf had listened to their conversation quietly, trying to give Stiles the support he so obviously needed.  Lucas knew that he was well within his rights to ask Derek to leave, but he also knew that it would be a waste of time. Not only would Stiles more than likely share this information with Derek in the end anyway, but this story was part of Derek’s history as much as it was Stiles’.

“I don’t know everything. Emeline was vague about certain things.  She said there were a lot of things that couldn’t be understood by outsiders.  There’s a trunk in the attic with some things, journals and some family heirlooms she wanted you to have if you ever…”  He took a drink of water to give him a moment. “She was Fey. She wasn’t sure if you had inherited any of her people’s gifts.  She said that sometimes they don’t manifest until adulthood.”

“Gerard said she could heal herself,”  Stiles said quietly, trying to wrap his head around the idea of his mother as Fey.  He’d done all sorts of research on them. Some information translated from the bestiary, but that had been vague at best.  Most research he’d gleaned from mythology texts and dubious internet sources. As always, it was difficult to weed out fact from fiction.

Lucas nodded.  “Yes. That is one ability that she learned.  She said it was tied to her connection to the Earth.

Stiles nodded as if that made perfect sense.  “So, he was right, then. She didn’t die of Cancer.”

“No.  But, it was something that was easily explainable, and you were so young…too young to try and explain what really happened.”

“What did happen?”  Derek asked when it didn’t look like Stiles could bring himself to say the words.

Lucas shook his head and ran a hand through his hair.  “Your mother’s death…it was a good death if one can ever say that about any death.  She protected this town the only way she could. She told me that she had a choice. She raised a…magical barrier, of sorts. She became the Keeper of this barrier, but it took a lot of power.”

Lucas didn’t continue, and Stiles didn’t need him to.  He could connect the dots. “She sacrificed herself.”

“Yeah.”  Lucas nodded.

“The Keeper?”  Derek asked. “I’ve heard that term before.”  He couldn’t recall exactly where or what it meant though.

“I don’t know everything,”  Lucas said again, apologetically.  “Something about keeping the magical barriers contained.  Her magic was connected, rooted I guess you could say, specifically to the nexus and the barriers containing it.  The spell required some sort of anchoring force, something that showed commitment and devotion.” Lucas paused and took a deep breath, it was so hard to talk about this.  “She sacrificed her life. That was the sign of her commitment.” He placed a hand over one of Stiles on top of the table. “She knew that she was leaving you behind and she’d never see you grow into the young man you are today.  Don’t ever think that she didn’t love you enough.”

He squeezed Stiles hands once and then stood up and walked out of the room.  Stiles watched him go sadly.

“You alright?”  Derek asked.

“Yeah.  Its just…my mom, and my dad never talks about her and now.”  He sighed, frustrated. He wanted to go check on his dad, but he knew the older man just needed a few minutes to himself.  He had so many questions, and a part of him want to run up into the attic and find that trunk, but another part just wanted to pretend he didn’t know any of this stuff and that his memories of his mom remained the same.  He took a deep, steadying breath and focused on something he could control at the moment.

“So, what did Scott want?”

Derek snorted.  “He wanted to tell us that we all needed to work together.”  He scowled as he thought about the meeting in the woods. “Said that none of that would have happened if we were all working as one.”

Stiles raised an eyebrow.  “Really? Did you ask him how his plan with Gerard Argent fit into teamwork?  Because from where I’m standing he was keeping just as many secrets as anyone else.

“Chris Argent was there,”  Derek said instead of commenting.

Stiles sucked in a breath. “He invited the Argents?”

“Yes.”

“Was Allison there?”  Stiles asked. He wasn’t sure how he would feel if the answer was yes.  He knew he was going to have to deal with what happened and as far as Allison’s part in it, it was going to have to be sooner rather than later.  Gerard was no longer a threat, but Allison was still very much present and accounted for.

Not only was Allison Scott’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, but she was an Argent.  The Argents had a tentative truce with the Hale pack so unless they moved out of Beacon Hills, he was going to have to deal with her on occasion.  He couldn’t blame her for what had happened to him at the hands of her grandfather, but neither was she entirely blameless. She had been present for some of his treatment and hadn’t protested as far as Stiles had seen.  And she was responsible for the capture of Erica and Boyd.  He was certain of that. Regardless of her relationship with Scott, her grief for her mother had clouded her judgment to the point that she had started to believe her grandfather’s vitriol about werewolves being nothing but animals.  She had begun to forget the people they were.

“Stiles?”  Derek nudged him with his knee.

Stiles blinked away his inner thoughts and focused back on the present.  “Huh?”

Derek stared at him for a moment in concern.  “I said, no. Allison wasn’t there. Knowing Scott, she was probably invited, but she didn’t come, for whatever reason.”  He paused again, not sure if he should continue talking about the meeting or not. “Chris told me that he didn’t know you were there, what happened to you.”

Stiles snorted.  “That makes everything better, doesn’t it?”

“I know, Stiles.  I know.” Derek soothed, placing a hand against his neck the way he would to one of his wolves.  “I told him it didn’t make me feel any better.”

“I hope you at least growled at him,” Stiles muttered.

“I did.”  Derek smiled slightly.  He would have continued, but the sheriff walked back in and took his seat at the table once more.

“So, I had a meeting earlier with Dr. Deaton and your guidance counselor, and they seem to think that something bad is coming and you boys are right in the middle of it.”

*

Isaac watched Scott restlessly move around his bedroom.  He knew the other werewolf was divided. He wanted to both stalk Allison’s rooftop to make sure she was okay and go and talk to Stiles.  The first was no doubt a bad idea given the fact that the invitation to Scott’s little meeting had been texted to Allison and yet her father had shown up instead.  If that wasn’t a statement, then Isaac didn’t know what was.  Lines were being drawn, and clearly, Allison and Scott were on opposite sides of them.

As for Stiles, Isaac wasn’t sure why Scott hadn’t gone straight over to the Stilinski house and asked why Stiles hadn’t shown up.   In Isaac’s experience with both his Alpha and with Scott, they rarely saw eye to eye on anything, and that was never more true than when Stiles was in the mix.  He was surprised Scott had taken Derek at his word.

It had been evident that Derek had been with Stiles before the meeting.  The Alpha still smelled of both Stiles and sorrow. The surprise came when Scott just accepted Derek’s word that Stiles didn’t want to attend because he was busy.

The implication the human member of their pack was telling his sheriff father about the supernatural aspects of their lives was also troubling, though Derek didn’t seem to be concerned.

Isaac thought that once the meeting, such as it was, had finished Scott would want to go and talk to Stiles himself but Scott seemed to be stalling on that front and Isaac was trying to figure out why.

“You going to talk about it?”  Isaac eventually asked when Scott finally flopped onto his bed.

“Stiles didn’t want to come,”  Scott said quietly. “He…he didn’t have my back.”  He said, which was really what it all boiled down to in this instance.

“That’s if you believe Derek.”  Isaac offered, feeling it was his duty to point it out now when Scott was somewhat calm as opposed to when his temper was riled.

Scott looked surprised as he looked at the taller wolf.  “Don’t you? I thought you trusted Derek.”

“I do trust Derek.  I do believe Derek.”  Isaac stated clearly, so there was no room for misunderstanding. “But you and he don’t get along, and I’m kind of surprised you’re just taking his word for it.”

Scott frowned.  “When I saw Stiles earlier, he wasn’t himself.”

“Did he tell you he wouldn’t come?”  Isaac asked, curious.

“No.”  He bit out.  “I didn’t tell him I was going to call a meeting, but he wasn’t acting like Stiles at all.  He basically told me he didn’t care about Allison.”

“Do you blame him?”  Isaac asked seriously.  “Her grandfather kidnapped him and did…something to him.  You heard Derek and Chris Argent.”

Scott nodded and sighed.  “Yeah, he also said…” He looked at Isaac apologetically. “I think maybe he might have seen Erica and Boyd.  He said something…”

“Erica and Boyd are dead.” Isaac cut off tersely.  He wasn’t going to discuss his fallen packmates with Scott, as much as he liked and admire him.

“What?”  Scott sat up quickly.  “Are you sure?”

Isaac stared solemnly at Scott.  “Yes. We felt it in the pack bond when they…”  He looked away. “We’re sure.” He turned back to Scott with a narrowed look.  “Didn’t you hear Derek when he was talking to Chris about how Argents had killed two members of his pack?  Who did you think he was talking about?”

Scott thought back to the meeting and the confrontation between Derek and Chris Argent and realized that yes, Derek had said something like that.  At the time he had been more focused on Derek’s animosity towards the Argents and how that was just going to make things more difficult not easier.  Then he’d been focused on what Derek had said about Stiles, and he’d completely forgot everything else. Now that he’s thinking about it, Stiles might have mentioned something about it too, but he had been so focused on Allison at the time he wasn’t paying that much attention, plus Stiles had seemed too angry, he tried to not to think about anything his friend had said.

Scott sighed.  “I guess I forgot.”

Isaac snorted.  “You forgot.”

“It slipped my mind okay!”  Scott protested.

Isaac sighed.  He couldn’t really stay angry at Scott.  Scott was essentially an Omega, even though he claimed he’d joined Derek’s pack, he hadn’t. The connection was thin enough to work in Scott’s favor on the night of the Rave when Victoria Argent had tried to kill Scott, but that was probably because on that one occasion Scott wanted to have a connection to other wolves.  He needed to not be alone. Otherwise, he fought everything it meant to be pack; therefore the bonds could never truly be forged. Scott didn’t understand about pack-bonds and how now there was this gaping hole where Boyd and Erica used to be and how there was no chance it could ever slip his mind, even for a moment.

“It’s fine, Scott.  It’s just…you wouldn’t understand.  You’re not in a pack so you can’t understand what it’s like to be cut-off from your packmates like that.”

Scott opened his mouth to say something but then realized that he had nothing to say because Isaac was right.  He wasn’t in a pack, not really, and he didn’t honestly want to be, especially one with Derek Hale as the Alpha, so what was there for him to say?

Scott leaned further into his mattress and sighed heavily. He wanted to ask how Isaac knew that but something in Isaac’s tone warned him away.  “You didn’t see Stiles earlier. He was so angry. I’ve never seen him like that before.” Scott said, turning back to the safer topic of Stiles.

Isaac frowned.  “When earlier?”

“Right after the thing with Peter and Derek…and Jackson turning into a werewolf.  Stiles just…he walked out of there. I followed him and tried to talk to him and he was so hostile. He wasn’t himself.”

“What did you say exactly?”  Isaac asked, curious.

“Well, I, uh…I mentioned Allison and how I thought she was going to be okay now…better.”

Isaac winced.  He didn’t know exactly what had happened.  Only that Stiles had been missing for awhile, taken from the Lacrosse game, and from what both Derek and Chris Argent had said tonight it sounded like he had been grabbed by Gerard Argent.  That couldn’t have been pleasant.

“I know, I know,” Scott said before Isaac could admonish him.  “I just wanted him to know that after everything that had happened since her mother’s death, I thought she was finally going to be alright.”

“I take it he didn’t react well to your…reassurances to her emotional health,”  Isaac stated with as straight a face as he could muster. He liked Scott and admired him in a lot of ways, but sometimes he wondered what he was thinking, or if he was thinking at all.

“What else did you say to Stiles?”  Isaac asked, feeling there had been more.

Scott hesitated.  While he was glad to be off the topic of the pack, Scott wasn’t sure he wanted to share the other issue he and Stiles had argued about, since Derek was at the center of that as well.

“We, uh…argued about Derek and the night he killed Peter.”

Isaac sighed again.  “You need to let that go, Scott.”

Scott frowned mulishly, but Isaac continued on unperturbed. “Seriously.  It’s over and done with, and my understanding is there is no proof it would have made any difference if you had killed him.”

Scott stayed silent.  Isaac narrowed his eyes.  “Okay, say you killed Peter instead, and you were wrong, you’d be the Alpha now.  What then?”

“I couldn’t do any worse,”  Scott stated stubbornly.

“You’d also be packless, Scott, because you and I both know you would never give anyone the Bite. So, Erica, Boyd and I would still be human.  Jackson too, so okay maybe no Kanima, but Gerard would still be here seeking vengeance for Kate Argent, and you would be alone.” And he took a step closer.  “And Peter? He’s back now, and that would still have happened. He still would have possessed Lydia or whatever he did, and it would have been you that got dragged to the Hale house for that little ritual.”  Isaac stopped and looked at Scott again. “My point is, Peter would still be back, but you would be alone.”

“What if Derek was wrong.  What if I could have been cured?”  Scott asked plaintively.

“What if he was?  Is being a werewolf so bad?”  Isaac asked. It was the best thing that had happened to him, and Isaac knew that though Erica and Boyd had left Derek, they didn’t regret becoming werewolves.

“I want to be normal,”  Scott said with as much calm as he could muster, given how often he had tried to explain this.

“Why?  Normal is boring.  Besides, you never would have made Co-Captain as a human.”

Scott wanted to argue with that.  He could have done it. If Stiles managed to score all those points in that last game, so could he.  Stiles might make First Line next year if he kept playing like he had. Of course, Stiles didn’t have severe asthma, just a lot of trouble focusing and a moderate lack of interest.  Scott wasn’t unaware of the fact that Stiles stayed on the Lacrosse team mostly for Scott’s benefit and because it seemed to please his father rather than because he truly enjoyed the game.

“I’ll never be able to be with Allison as a werewolf,”  Scott admitted, leaving the Lacrosse thing alone because he wasn’t ready to agree to that.

“And that’s more important than anything else?”  Isaac asked.

“I love her,” Scott said stubbornly.

“She’s a hunter,” Isaac reminded him.

“Her family are hunters,” Scott countered.

“No, Scott.  She. Is. a. Hunter.  Not just her family, but her.  If you don’t believe that, you’re deluding yourself.”

Scott opened his mouth and then closed it again.  He had nothing to say to that.

“C’mon,” Isaac said finally, “let’s go get something to eat before I have to go.”

Scott smiled, relieved the heavy discussion was over, for now then he frowned.  “Go? Where are you going?”.

Isaac rolled his eyes.  “You heard Derek. I have to go back to the house.  The Ritual is tonight. Peter should be almost done preparing.”

Scott scrunched his face in confusion.  “Ritual?”

Isaac sighed.  “For Erica and Boyd.  “it’s like a memorial, only not exactly.”

“Oh.”  Scott looked like he was going to say something else but then just said, “Dinner.”

*

The trio stood outside the well-lit house.  “Here, Teridyne?” Seldyn asked as he looked around the suburban neighborhood.

The diminutive woman nodded.  “Yes. I can feel his power. It’s started to awaken.  The Earth cries out to him, even now. The wind is howling for him.”

Varnosh jumped from a tree to land beside them.  “So we will not have to wait long?”

“I think not,” Teridyne stated, pleased.

“Excellent,” Seldyn rumbled in his deep voice.  The barriers are breaking down, as evidenced by the string of encounters visited upon this town.  If we do not have a new Gatekeeper in place soon, the barriers will fall completely, and this place will be overrun as it was once was in danger of.”

Varnosh tilted his head and sniffed.  The upstairs bedroom window was open, and he could smell the scents of those who inhabited this house, as well as a few lingering scents from others.  “This one smells strongly of the wolves. More so than I was expecting.”

Teridyne smiled.  She, unlike her friend, had expected nothing less.  “Yes. He is one of them. They consider him pack.”

Varnosh grunted.  “Will that make a difference in his decision?”

“Oh yes, but fear not, old friend, it will be just as I have foreseen.”

Varnosh grunted again and leaped back into the tree where he could watch from his preferred location.

*

Stiles made his way up to the attic alone.  Derek had gone home after his father had told them about his little meeting with Deaton and Morrell.  Stiles wasn’t sure how he felt about Ms. Morrell being involved in all of this. He kind of liked her. She’d given him good, honest advice.

His father had said that he would let Stiles go through his mother’s things on his own.  Stiles knew this was both because Lucas felt this was a personal thing between Stiles and Emeline, and partially because it would have been too painful for Lucas.  It was going to be challenging enough for Stiles.

He found the trunk in the corner of the attic, covered by a sheet as if it was just waiting for someone to come and uncover its secrets.

He removed the sheet and looked carefully and the hinged latch.  There was a complex locking mechanism, and he stared at it for a long moment trying to figure out how to open it.  It didn’t look like a key was required, at least not one he had ever seen, but nor did it have any sort of combination he could recognize.  It did have four indented crevices and what looked like a handprint in the center.

He placed his hand over the handprint, and nothing happened.  “Hmm.” He took a closer look at the four crevices and realized that perhaps they needed to be filled with whatever went inside before his hand went over the palm print.  “Very clever.” Now, if he could only figure out what went into the crevices.

He took a closer look at the crevices and noticed that each one was different.  Well, that wasn’t exactly accurate. Each crevice was almost identical, except each one bore a different symbol, but it looked like there was some type of substance lodge inside two of the cracks, and each one of those appeared to be slightly different.

One crevice had a grainy substance.  Stiles thought it might be sand. The other one seemed to be a fine powder-like substance.  Stiles thought this might be ash. Fire and Earth, he thought. The other two crevices, which did not appear to contain any leftover material were probably for Air and Water.  Air would be invisible, and Water would have evaporated.

“Very clever indeed,” he repeated before deciding to take the trunk down to his bedroom before attempting to open it.

*

“Derek,” Peter called softly when his nephew returned.  “I have everything prepared. Isaac should return shortly.”

Derek nodded once before looking around the property. The house was a wasteland, Derek knew that, and the abandoned subway station wasn’t any better, he just hadn’t been ready to put the past behind him yet, but maybe it was time. He looked around the burnt out shell and thought about what he wanted for their future.

“We should rebuild,” he said softly.

Peter stared at his nephew for a long moment before he nodded.

“Not here though. Somewhere else. Somewhere new.”

Peter continued to stare for several minutes before he smirked. “So, how are the Stilinski’s this fine evening? Is Stiles exhibiting any Fey magic, perhaps?”

Derek narrowed his eyes. “You’ve remembered something.”

“I have indeed.”

“Well?” Derek barked when Peter didn’t say anything further.

Peter sighed. “You’re probably too young to remember but over a decade ago, maybe twelve or thirteen years ago now there was a series of…occurrences, paranormal in nature. Nothing too alarming or outrageous, but they were steadily increasing.” He paused as he stared at Derek shrewdly for another long moment. “I’m not sure if you’re aware of it or not, but Beacon Hills sits atop a mystical Nexus, if you will, a storehouse of magical energy.” He looked at Derek again, wondering if this was new information.

Derek nodded briefly. “Laura mentioned it once. She said Mother had explained it to her.”

Peter stiffened at the mention of Laura and then forcibly relaxed. He was still dealing with many of the things he had done after he’d woken from his coma, and the killing of his niece was one of the things that weighed most heavily.

“Did Talia tell her about the Gate and the Keeper?” Peter asked quietly.

Derek thought back to his conversation with his sister regarding the magical nature of their hometown. “Only that there was some sort of magical gate keeping things in check.”

Peter nodded. “Talia never said, exactly, but I believe Emeline Stilinski cast the spell to raise the Gate and gave her life to become its Keeper.”

Derek nodded. “The sheriff said as much earlier.”

“If it’s true, it’s only a matter of time before the barriers Emeline Stilinski raised break down again,” Peter warned.

“What does that mean?” Derek asked with concern.

“The Gate will need a new Keeper,” Peter said quietly.

“What happens if there isn’t one?”

“Nothing good,” Peter predicted. He watched as Derek’s back stiffened and sighed. “I’ll do some research. But for now, I believe Isaac is home at we have another task before us.”

Derek nodded and disappeared into what had once been the back of the house.  There were a few parts of the old house that had not been irrevocably damaged by the fire, some small items that had been salvaged.  His mother’s ritual trunk thankfully had been one of them. She used it to keep all of the things handed down, through generations of Hales, to aid in the various rituals for bonding, celebration, and like tonight, passing.

Peter stared after his nephew as he disappeared and wondered at the new energy he felt pulsing through the Pack-bond. It almost felt like the awakening of a new Beta, but not quite. He knew Derek hadn’t Bitten anyone else, not so soon after Erica and Boyd had died and especially not before their Rite had been performed, and this energy was different, like a werewolf, but yet not.

He thought perhaps he’d better get started on that research, soon.

*

Stiles looked at the items on his table carefully. He had a small cup of water, a cap full of ashes he’d taken from the incense tray, a ziplock baggie full of dirt from what had at one time been his mother’s garden. These days it was mostly overgrown with weeds because he hadn’t taken the time to look after it like he’d promised.  He hoped the items were sufficient to open the trunk; otherwise, he was likely to call Derek over for some good old-fashioned werewolf strength.

He started with the water. That one seemed the least likely to have some sort of issue. Water was water, basically and while this wasn’t water he’d necessarily want to drink because he’d brought it from outside, he thought the more natural, the better in this case.

He cautiously tilted the cup of water until it started to drip into the small crevice. There was a slight click, and the symbol above the crevice shifted slightly. Stiles stared at it for a moment in disbelief. Even though he had theorized about how to open the trunk, he wasn’t sure it would actually work.

“Okay.” He was slightly more leery about the incense ash because he wasn’t sure if it would qualify. Still, he took a pinch of it and pushed it into the crevice for Fire and waited. Nothing happened.  Stiles frowned. Was it the wrong kind of ash or was he actually supposed to put fire into the hole? How would that work? He remembered the long matches his father used for the grill and decided to try that.

Once he had returned with the match, he took a deep breath and lit it.  He brought the fire into the open and watched carefully. This time the reaction was almost instantaneous. There was a flash, a shifting as the incense as was further burnt then the Fire symbol changed as the lock turned another notch.

Taking the bag of dirt he took from his mother’s garden, he turned to the crevice for Earth and continued. This lock disengaged easily enough, leaving only one more. Stiles knelt down until his lips were just above the symbol for Air and blew into the crevice. He heard the clicking noise that indicated he was successful and sighed in relief before sitting up and placing his left palm over the place for his handprint. He felt a sting as something stabbed the fleshy part of his palm before he heard the lock disengage entirely.

He lifted his hand up and looked at where he had been pricked. There was a tiny dot of blood, but otherwise, he was fine. When he looked back at the trunk, he could see that the lid was slightly opened.

He pulled the lid wholly open and took a deep breath, knowing whatever his mother left for him would change his life in ways he wasn’t sure he wasn’t ready for.  He could feel it, like a sense of foreboding. Still this was a part of his mother, a part of their history that they could now share, even if she was no longer here with him.

The first thing he saw was a piece of paper, folded in half, his name written in his mother’s handwriting on the outside.

He took a deep breath and picked it up.

Son,

     I wanted to be able to share this with you in person, but as I write this letter, I know that will not be possible.

        Please know that the choice I have made was for you and your father as much as it was for Beacon Hills.

     You need to understand that your father and I moved to Beacon Hills because of the Magic.  My people…Our people were concerned that there have been wild fluctuations of power for years and it had been getting steadily worse.  There had been a string a territory disputes in the surrounding areas. They asked me to come and observe, to see if it was as bad as they feared.  It was worse, son, far worse. Things were on the rise, dark things. The Council of Elders asked me to mediate a territory dispute between Talia Hale and Vidian Turok, a vampire Elder to the East.  The critical thing to know about this particular dispute is that the Hale pack had held their territory for over two centuries, in one form or another. There was no reason for a dispute.

The talks went on for many days, but eventually, peace was forged.  Our people, the Fey, believed that a representative would be beneficial… considering that these types of disputes were becoming more commonplace. The Power of Beacon Hills was rising more each year, drawing more and more paranormals. They felt that it was time that the Gate, a supernatural barrier that surrounds Beacon Hills, should be raised.  This Gate requires a Gate Keeper, a guardian of sorts.

The Council believed that because I live here and I am friendly with the local Pack, that it would be a sufficient connection.

It was not.

I know that choosing to do this Spell, to raise the Gate, and become its Keeper, it will cost me my life, but I believe that it is the right thing to do, and I hope, however many years it’s been, wherever you are now as you are reading this, that you agree.

Stiles set the letter down and just stared at the trunk for several minutes.  He could feel the wetness on his face and wanted to curl up in his mother’s arms again like he did when he was five and had a bad dream.  But those days were over, and he had to be the strong one now.

He took a deep breath and began to go through the rest of the items she had left behind.  These pieces of the life his mother had left behind, clues to who she had been aside from his mother or Lucas’ wife.

There were a lot of books, many handwritten, looking as though they had stood the test of time.  Somewhere in this collection of paper was all the research his mother said she had done about this Nexus in Beacon Hills and what the options were for keeping it protected.  Stiles wanted to go to the site where she performed her ritual, and he wanted to talk to Deaton and Morrell, but he needed information first.

He picked up his mother’s journal and started to read.

*

Marin Morrell stared at the runes before her for a long moment and frowned.  She had been hoping to See something new, perhaps glimpse something different that would give her a clue about what was coming.

“Your vision is hazy, child.”  A soft whisper interrupted her contemplation.

Marin looked around the forest but could find nothing.  All was quiet. She stood cautiously in her circle, looking into the dark.

A young woman appeared, branches of a nearby tree parting for her as if by her will.  The woman was small, about four feet with a pale complexion.

Marin watched the small woman approach.  She could feel her power and was both drawn to it and soothed by it.  “Who are you?” She asked, wanting to take a step closer, but knowing she must remain within her protected circle.

“I am a child of the Earth, Emissary. My name is Teridyne.” She stepped right over Marin’s circle as if the protection was not even there. “You See much, but not everything.”

“I feel a darkness coming,” Marin whispered, looking once more to the runes.

“Yes,” Teridyne acknowledged. “There is always darkness. You know this. There must be balance in all things.”

Marin looked up sharply. “This darkness is different. It…feels alive.”

Teridyne turned her head slightly, gazing at the moon in the sky, not yet full, but close. “Perhaps, but not yet.”  She turned back to stare at Marin. “We are running out of time. When he comes, he will have questions that will need answers…in time.  Show him the way.”

After speaking those vague words, she stepped back out of the circle and disappeared back into the trees.

Marin stared at the runes once more and wondered, not for the first time, what was coming and if they would be strong enough to stop it.

*

“Someone is here to see you,”  Lucas said quietly.

Stiles looked up from reading his mother’s journal and stared questioningly at his father. There was an off note in his father’s voice.

“Who is it?” He asked. He didn’t think it was Derek because after the other night his dad probably would have just sent him upstairs. The same was true for Scott, despite how much Stiles wasn’t ready to talk to him yet.

“Allison Argent.”

Stiles blinked. She was probably the last person Stiles expected to come to visit him.

Lucas stared at his son. “You want me to send her away?”

Stiles thought about it seriously for a minute and then sighed. “No. I better talk to her. I’ll come down.”

“You sure?”

Stiles nodded even though he didn’t feel very sure. His father left the room quietly, and Stiles placed the journal carefully back into the trunk and closed the lid.  He felt comforted by the click of the lock re-engaging. He stared at the chest sitting in the center of his bedroom, looking slightly out of place before he turned and followed his father downstairs and into the living room.

Allison was standing awkwardly just inside the door as if she was ready to bolt at any moment.  Stiles hesitated at the bottom of the steps and watched her for a second. She looked the same, physically, like almost every other time he’d seen her.  She’d never come over to his house before, not alone, but if she had, he doubted she would have been as uncomfortable looking.

“What do you want?” He asked finally.

“Stiles!” Allison startled and turned to face him. “How are you?”

Stiles stared at her for a long moment. “I’m alive, no thanks to you or your grandfather.”

Allison flinched.

“Why are you here?” He asked again.

“I came to apologize,” She said quietly.

A laugh escaped Stiles, though it was not a pleasant sound. “What makes you think I want to hear your apologies or anything else you have to say?”

“I didn’t know what he was going to do,” Allison admitted. “That he was taking you from the game…or that he would…”

“What?  Beat me?  Kick me? How about electrocuting me? You hunters seem inordinately fond of electrocution. Did you know that was coming?”

“Stiles,” Allison whispered.

“You want to know what I find interesting? You say you didn’t know what he would do.  That might be true. I just don’t know what to believe anymore. What I do know is that the whole time Gerard was working me over, you never asked him to stop. You knew I was human. You knew what he was doing was wrong, and yet you just stood there.” He looked at her narrowly. “And you may not have known about me, but you did know about Boyd and Erica. You were the one who captured them, isn’t that right?”

Allison swallowed.  “I never meant for them to die. I…I just wanted Derek to suffer like I was suffering.”  She wiped away a tear and held her head up and looked Stiles in the eye. “He killed my mother.”

Stiles shook his head. He was so tired of hearing about this. “He bit your mother, he did not kill her. There is a difference. It was not the Bite that killed her.” He paused when she looked defiant and angry as if she was going to argue. “Did you ever ask what Victoria was doing there that night? Where was she that she got bit by Derek when you know Derek was supposed to be at the Rave trapping Jackson?”

“What?” Allison asked in confusion. “She left me a letter.”

Stiles snorted again, an inelegant sound.

“I’m sure she did. Telling you to avenge her death or how innocent she was and how she had been attacked by the monsters.” He paused and looked at the confused girl. “It was a lie. Victoria tried to murder Scott that night, would have succeeded too if not for Derek. She was only bit by accident, during the struggle when Derek came to rescue Scott.”

“I didn’t know,” Allison whispered tremulously.

“No. You didn’t bother to find out,” Stiles agreed.  He sighed, “Why are you really here? To apologize? To alleviate your conscience? You’ve done that.”  He took a deep, steadying breath. “If it’s for my forgiveness, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.”

Allison shook her head.  “No. I…my father and I, we’re leaving Beacon Hills for a while.  We need to grieve, and we can’t do that here.”

Stiles nodded. “That might be best.”

Allison agreed. This place held terrible memories, and though it also held good memories, she wasn’t sure she could ever let go of the bad enough to enjoy the good.  She started to move towards the front door but stopped just before she opened it. “Stiles? I am sorry. For everything.”

Stiles watched her walk out of his house and felt a wind brush through the opened window. The thrumming in his bones was getting stronger.  He could almost feel energy reaching out, like it wanted to follow her and ensure she did as she said and then seal her and her ilk out of Beacon Hills once they were gone so they couldn’t return.

Stiles shook the odd impression away and went to find his father.  He’d want to know what Allison wanted.

*

Stiles closed the journal he was currently reading.  This one belonged not to his mother but to a Great Aunt and had theorized more deeply into the Magical Origins of Beacon Hills and what his people referred to as the Nexus.

After reading all of his mother’s journals, and quite a few of this other relatives’, not to mention one or two of the other books that weren’t journals so much as an odd mix of recipe book, spiritual guide, and meditation aids, Stiles was beginning to get the feeling his parents had moved onto the Hellmouth.  However, this was not the CW, and he was not Buffy, so he was going to ignore the hysterical laughter that just wanted to bubble forth and the connection his mind wanted to draw.

So, he needed more information and perhaps a second opinion on the information he had already collected.  He also needed to talk to these…Emissaries the journals mentioned. Deaton and Morrell, according to his father.  That actually made a lot of sense. They both always seemed to know things and always had advice to give, usually good advice, come to think of it.

*

His first stop was to see Lydia Martin.

“Stiles,” She opened the door and looked surprised to see him.

“Hey, Lyds.  I’ve got a little research project and thought another set of eyes might help.”

Lydia stared at him for long minutes before letting him in the house.  He entered her living room and noticed the house appeared to be empty. Not unusual since her parents were frequently absent, but he thought at the very least Jackson would be sticking close.

“Where’s Jackson?”  Stiles asked.

“Sleeping, upstairs,” Lydia answered honestly.  Stiles had helped her when she asked, and he clearly knew a lot more about the supernatural than even she had figured out.  “Danny went home to get some rest and to…think about things I guess. He’ll be back later.”

Stiles blinked at that little revelation.  “Danny?

“Jackson felt it was time we both know what was going on.”  Lydia said with a bit a bite to her tone.

Stiles nodded.  “He’s probably right.”  He turned to face her. “So, my research project?”

Lydia narrowed her eyes.  “First, tell me why you weren’t at Scott’s little soiree last night?”

Stiles was again surprised.  “You were there?”

“Yes.  Scott sent both Jackson and me a demand that we attend.”  She smiled slyly as if amused by Scott’s demands.

“I’m surprised you went,”  Stiles admitted.

Lydia shrugged.  “We weren’t sure what it was about and figured we were tired of operating in the dark.” Stiles nodded at her, and she smirked at him.  “He did seem rather surprised that you ignored his summons.”

Stiles frowned and then shrugged as if it didn’t matter.  “I had something to do.”

“So Derek Hale told us.”  She looked at him shrewdly again.  “Since when are you and Derek Hale so close?”

“We’re not, exactly. I just…two of his pack members were killed by hunters yesterday.  I was with them when it happened.” He looked away, uncomfortably. “I was telling Derek about it.”

Lydia remembered her conversation with Stiles before they had left to rescue Jackson.  “That was the thing that happened to you? The reason you were avoiding Scott that night?  The hunters were Argents.” She stated the last with surety, remembering Derek’s words to Chris Argent.

“Yes.”  Stiles looked back at her.  “Now, if you’re done interrogating me, my research project?”

Lydia sighed.  “What do you need?”

Stiles showed her the information he had gathered about the Nexus and the Gate so far and his copy of the bestiary and asked her if she could dig up anything that made a reference to either the Nexus or the Gate or its Keeper or what it all might mean for Beacon Hills.

*

Derek jerked upright in his bed, a flash of…something startling him from slumber.  He could feel something surging through him, some kind of residual energy.  He reached out with his senses, making him gasp.

He got out of bed and stretched.  He could feel something new growing, pulsing through the pack-bonds.  He had the urge to seek out each one of his pack members. He could have fought it but didn’t want to.

He found Peter first and wasn’t the least bit surprised to see him awake and looking through his laptop.  His uncle looked up at him when he approached.

“You feel it?  The change?”

Derek nodded.  “I’m going to check on Isaac.”

Peter nodded and watched as Derek disappeared.

Derek tracked Isaac to Scott’s house which was both annoying and expected.  He had known that Isaac would probably return to Scott’s after the Rite. Derek knew Scott offered Isaac something he needed, and he didn’t begrudge Isaac that but he hated how divided it made Isaac feel all of the time.  And Scott, Scott who really needed a pack, but refused to accept that part of himself that was the wolf. He refused to admit that he wasn’t entirely human, and Derek wasn’t honestly sure if it was his own stubbornness or his own desire for normality. Whatever normal was, or if his actions really were all tied up with the Argents.

Derek wanted to help Scott, he really did, but he couldn’t do that until Scott was ready to accept that help, and Derek knew that things were going to get complicated.  The new pack-bond was even now thrumming with energy, and life, enough that Derek could now recognize it for who it was.

He wasn’t sure exactly how it had happened, but Stiles had become a part of them, of their pack.

*

When Stiles stepped into the Animal Clinic, Dr. Deaton was speaking quietly with the owner of one of his patients.  The Vet looked at him briefly before he continued to murmur. Stiles took a seat and waited. He closed his eyes and tried to see if he could feel anything different in the air here.

According to his father, Deaton had been an Emissary at one time. According to Stiles’ mother’s journal, Emissaries were beings of magic, not as naturally attuned as the Fey but influential in their own right.  Stiles also remembered that Scott had told him that the Animal Clinic was protected, and according to his mother, he should be able to sense those protections, if his Fey magics had been awakened.

He wasn’t sure they had, to be honest, but he couldn’t think of another explanation for how he could still be alive.  Nor a reason for the constant humming he could sense, even now. It seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. After reading the journals, Stiles assumed it must be the thrum of life around him, in trees, animals and the Earth itself.

As he concentrated, he could feel a breeze through the open window.  It was rustling the leaves outside, and he could almost hear a whisper of sound on the wind, like a murmur of voices, but it was vague and indistinct.

“Mr. Stilinski.”

Stiles startled and looked up to find Alan Deaton standing in front of him.  His client had left, and the Vet was looking at him with an expression of philosophical inquiry.

“Can I help you?”

“I came to ask about the Nexus.”  Stiles stood.

Deaton stared at the boy for a long moment.  “This way.” He led him into a room Stiles had never been in before.  It was to the left of the doctor’s office and had a door that looked as though it would blend in seamlessly with the wall when closed.

Stiles entered cautiously and felt a strange energy against his skin as he passed the doorway.  He paused and looked at the entryway curiously before turning to stare at Deaton in question. Deaton was staring back at him with one eyebrow raised.  “You’ve gained your magic I see.”

“If you say so,” Stiles replied vaguely.

Deaton continued to stare at him.  “Oh, I do, Mr. Stilinski. Only someone with magical awareness would have been able to detect the wards on this room.”

Stiles swallowed and looked away.  He noticed there was a map very similar to the one in his trunk laid out on a large table.  He walked towards it. “This is a map of Beacon Hills, and the Ley Lines running underneath it.”

“Very good.”  Deaton pointed out five separate sections which, if connected could make the points of a pentagram.  “These points are the access points the Gate was built upon, Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit.” He pointed to each specific point as he named their element.  “The primary access point, and where the spell was cast to raise the barrier was here.”

“Spirit,” Stiles whispered.

“Yes.  That is where every Keeper has put their protections on the barrier.”

“This…barrier,” Stiles asked, curious.  “Who built it? And if the Nexus is so dangerous why isn’t the barrier always up?”

Deaton stared at Stiles for a long moment, and Stiles felt as if the man was judging him in some fashion, and he tried not to fidget as he was prone to doing.

“No one knows precisely who created the Gate,”  Deaton said finally. “It is said it was one of the First Ones, but no knows for sure if that’s true.”

“First Ones?”  Stiles asked carefully.  He’d heard the term before, in one of the older journals in his trunk.

“They are said to be the Earth’s first Children.”  He looked at Stiles appraisingly. “Some believe Fey are descended from them.

Stiles looked back at the map.  “Why isn’t the Gate always up?” He asked again, not commenting on what some people believed.  He couldn’t say, not really. He only had several generations of journals to go by, not actual fact.  Still, a few of the people who wrote those journals had lived long ago, and some of them had lived a long time. They probably knew what they were talking about.  Maybe.

“While the gate is always there, and is always active, to some small degree. Its protections are dormant without a Will.”

“A Will?”  Stiles repeated, thinking over things he’d read, and what Deaton had said.

“That spark of energy, directing things, allowing or disallowing, as the case may be, things through.”

“And?”  Stiles persisted.  He’d learned that much already.  The Keeper’s Will, so to speak, held the borders of Beacon Hills.  They chose who to allow inside, or who to refuse entry. What he wanted to know was why wasn’t there a Keeper all the time, why had the spell to raise those barriers cost his mother her life. Apparently, there was something he was missing.  The journals were very vague as to what was required. They mentioned that the Gate hadn’t been active for three hundred years, long before Beacon Hills had existed as a township. The raising of the Gate at that time was some dark presence which sought to destroy the town, and the Keeper then had raised the barriers to keep the inhabitants of the time safe.

The writings spoke of how the Keeper had kept them raised throughout his lifetime, which was not short.  It made Stiles realize that while raising the Gate may be difficult, it was not impossible, neither was it, in and of itself, a death sentence.

Therefore he needed to find out everything he could to determine how this Gate worked and how his mother was different than the Keeper of so long ago.

“The Gate is…temperamental.” Deaton offered at last. “One must have the power to raise the Gate, but more than Power, one must have Strength of Will, of Heart.”  He hesitated a second watching Stiles closely. “A Keeper must choose freely.”

Stiles nodded slowly.  His mother had made that clear.

“But, and this is equally important, the Gate must also choose the Keeper.”

Stiles blinked, not sure he heard that correctly.  “Um…what?”

“The Gate must accept the Keeper,”  Deaton said quietly before turning back to the map.  “Here is where the last Keeper, just like those before her, raised the Gate.  Something went wrong when the ritual was performed. It raised the barriers, but…”  He trailed off.

Stiles snorted.  “The last Keeper?  Don’t speak as if you don’t know it was my mother.  As if she didn’t give her life, or as if her sacrifice was meaningless!”  He slammed his hand down on the table, and there was a rumble under their feet.

“Control yourself.”  Deaton snapped.

Stiles took a deep breath.  He had never had evidence that what his mother’s journals told him was true, that his connection with the elements was a real, concrete thing. “This Nexus…what happens is the gate falls?”

Deaton looked at Stiles curiously, unsure why he would ask such a thing.  “Supernatural creatures would be drawn here in larger number than what you have seen.  The power of the Nexus is intoxicating, it would draw all sort of things. Eventually, we would be overrun.”  He looked at Stiles cautiously, “But that is not the problem. The worry is that someone or something could get in…and harness the power of the Nexus.”

“And then they’d be unstoppable.  Our very own Voldemort. Awesome.” Stiles sighed when Deaton just looked at him blankly.

*

Peter Hale leaned against the porch railing and listened as the house’s lone occupant moved toward the front of the house.

The door opened, and there was a split second of shock before the features resolved into a more neutral expression.

“You are the last person I expected to show up here.”

Peter smiled wryly pushing his way into the house.  “Come now, Sheriff. I would think you would have been anticipating my visit, perhaps with bated breath.”

Lucas sighed.  “Peter, what are you doing here?  Stiles and Derek told me all about what’s been going on. Talia would be ashamed.”

Peter stiffened slightly. “I know.  But I’m not here about my misdeeds.”

“Why are you here?”  Lucas asked curiously.

“I’m here because of Stiles.  I think I know why Emeline’s ritual wasn’t enough, and if I’m right, Stiles will not face the same fate.”

*

Stiles had just reached Lydia’s driveway when his phone rang.  It was Scott’s ringtone, and he almost ignored it. Not only wasn’t he in the mood to talk to his oldest friend, but he really didn’t have the time.

He stopped at the curb and pulled out the phone and stared at it for a second before swiping the slider bar. “Yeah.”

“Stiles!”  Scott sounded both surprised and confused.

“Yep, that’s me,” Stiles agreed.

“You need to get home!” Scott asked after a moment.

Stiles took his phone away from his ear and stared at it for a second.  That seemed like an odd demand. “What makes you think I’m not at home?”

“I went to your house.  Your dad is having some sort of…meeting…or something with Peter.  What the Hell is going on? Where are you anyway?”

Stiles sighed and began pacing the line of the driveway.  He really didn’t have the time right now to explain anything.  Not to mention he didn’t really know anything about his dad and Peter talking, though it probably had something to do with everything his dad had been told about what had really been going on in Beacon Hills the past couple of years.

“I didn’t know they were meeting, but my dad can take care of himself.”  He paused as he turned abruptly and found Danny standing a yard away staring at him in bemusement, an eyebrow raised in silent inquiry.  Stiles shrugged. “Scott, I have to go. I’m kind of in the middle of something right now.”

“But Stiles, I wanted to talk to you…about the other day, and…”

“Later, Scott.”  Stiles disconnected the call and slipped his phone back in his pocket.

“McCall?”  Danny asked.

“Yeah.”  Stiles nodded.  “So, Lydia told me Jackson filled you in on what’s been going on.”

“Werewolves.”  Danny nodded. “Can’t say that was anywhere on the list of things I thought was wrong with him.”

Stiles laughed.  “No, I guess not.  Though to be fair, it wasn’t the werewolf part that made it wrong.  The Kanima did that. Well, that and Jackson’s sparkling personality, but I’m sure you’re used to that.”

Danny smiled but didn’t comment on that.  “Lydia has that information you wanted, and Jackson wants to talk to you…actually we all do.”

Stiles nodded.  “Okay, let’s go.”

*

“How much longer, Teridyne?”  Varnosh snarled from high atop the ground.  The tree he was in was thick with branches and hid his body efficiently.

“Soon, brother,”  Seldyn answered for her.  The Earth trembles. Do you feel it?  The Power Sink is opening, awaiting a new Keeper.

“Then it must be soon,”  Varnosh grumbled as the trees began to shake, both the Earth and the Wind working in tandem to Call to their need.

“It will be.  She is calling now.  He will come.” Teridyne spoke softly from her place on the ground.

*

“Stilinski.”  Jackson got up close and personal with Stiles, his eyes flashing bright blue for a split second.

“Personal space.  It’s a thing,” Stiles said stepping back.

“You smell…”

Stiles stared inquiringly.  “I smell? I hope you’re going to finish that sentence with something.”

Jackson’s face started to contort as if he was struggling with something but Stiles couldn’t even hazard a guess as to what before he growled.

“Derek told Jackson…before, that it was better to be part of a pack,”  Danny said, deciding that Jackson wasn’t going to continue.

Stiles turned to face Danny, frowning.  He assumed by before he meant when Jackson was first turned, before the Kanima, or before anyone knew about the Kanima at any rate. “That’s true.”

“Is it?” Lydia interjected.  “Scott doesn’t seem to agree.”

Stiles sighed.  “Scott is…Scott.  Scott doesn’t want to be a werewolf.  He was bitten…against his will, and has fought it every step of the way.”

“Did Derek…?”  Danny asked.

“No,”  Stiles answered not even letting him finish the question.  Derek may be a lot of things, but he’d never turn someone against their will unless there was really no other option.

“Peter,”  Lydia spoke the word quietly, but it was with an odd note in her voice.  Stiles couldn’t even imagine what Peter had put her through to bring himself back.  It must have been rough.

“Yeah,” Stiles agreed.

“Okay,” Lydia nodded decisively.  “We’ll join Derek’s pack, but there will be ground rules.”

Stiles just stared at her and then looked at Danny who was staring earnestly back.  He then turned to look at Jackson. He had a kind of scowly frown on his perfect face, but after a second it smoothed out, and he nodded once as if concurring with whatever Lydia and Danny agreed to.

“That’s…um, great, really, but why are you telling me?  Shouldn’t you be talking to Derek?”

“No,”  Lydia said.  “Derek’s the Alpha, and he’ll have final say in whether or not he accepts us, but according to what I’ve read, it’s common to petition the Second for entry into a Pack.”

Stiles blinked at her in confusion.  It wasn’t that what she said was confusing, exactly. It made sense, notably if a Pack was sizable, that certain things would be delegated.  However, he wasn’t sure how that equated to the Hale pack, considering it was so small and had in fact just lost two of its members.

“Derek doesn’t have a Second,”  Stiles said slowly. “At least, I don’t think he does.”

The three exchanged looks as if Stiles was an idiot and Stiles was starting to get the feeling he had missed something important.

*

Lucas looked at Peter skeptically.  “Stiles is what?”

“He’s part of the Pack,” Peter shrugged.  “Derek may or may not have considered him so before, but something happened after Stiles magics awakened.  Now though, we can feel him in the pack-bond. He’s a part of us, nearly the same as if he was a werewolf.”

“What does that mean exactly?”  Lucas asked hesitatingly.

*

“Did you find anything?”  Stiles asked, hoping to draw Lydia away from the topic of Derek’s pack and onto his research project.  He wasn’t sure he believed her theory about Derek’s Second and wasn’t ready to think about that just yet.  He sat down on the couch and waited for her to tell him something, hopefully, something new, that he didn’t already know.

Lydia pursed her lips before turning to one of the journals Stiles had brought her earlier. “The Keeper from three hundred years ago was a witch who married into a tribe of woodland sprites who had settled here.”  She pulled out what looked like a printout from the Bestiary. “There’s an entry in the Bestiary that mentions that there was a Guardian, I think that’s supposed to be Keeper, in the recent past, it doesn’t say how long ago, who died when they became this Guardian.  It doesn’t say why, only that it was a young Fey woman with powerful magic.”

Stiles stilled at the description of his mother and her death.  Lydia didn’t know that’s who she was talking about, she couldn’t, but still, it hurt.

“So what’s the difference?”  Danny asked.

“What?”  Stiles whispered.

“What’s the difference between this Fey woman and the witch three hundred years ago?  They both have magic, right? Jackson asked.

“Hmmm,”  Lydia tapped her fingernail against her lips.  “Well, the witch was bonded, I assume, to one of the sprites.  That’s how they do things.”

“And the Sprites were settled here, you said?  Part of the land, the area?” Stiles sat up straighter.  “So, essentially, the witch was, through the tribe, connected to the land, so he could act as a conduit for the Gate and become the Keeper.”

Stiles stilled as he felt a subtle tremble beneath his feet.  He knew it was subtle because no one else was reacting to it, not even Jackson with the werewolf senses. Then just as quietly there was a rustle in the tree outside Lydia’s family room window.  The window was opened, and as Stiles looked, he swore he could actually see the air currents as they moved.  It was quite disconcerting. It was almost as if the elements were acknowledging his thoughts, his conclusions.  It was more than discomfiting, it was frightening.

“And the Fey wasn’t?”  Danny asked dubiously, bringing Stiles attention back to the matter at hand.

Lydia shook her head.  “You’re just assuming she wasn’t connected to the land through a tribe, or pack, or coven of some sort.  I couldn’t find anything in any of the journals you brought me that made further mention of the Fey woman or any other Keeper, just the one from three hundred years ago.”

Stiles sighed wearily.  “That’s because I only brought you the journals dealing with the Nexus itself or the ones detailing the Keeper from three hundred years ago.” Even as he spoke the words, he felt the energy in the Earth rumbling slightly, trying to draw his attention.  It was calling him…but for what purpose?

“There are more?”  Lydia stared at him in more interest.  “You never said where they came from.”

“I inherited them,” Stiles admitted, “from my mother.”  As soon as he dropped that bombshell, he stood up and moved towards the front door, almost against his will.  “I, uh…I have to…I have to see…” Then he just walked out, following the Call of the Earth.

*

Stiles followed the pull of the Earth as it led him away from town, and into the heart of the preserve.  He wasn’t surprised. Didn’t everything of significance that happened in or around Beacon Hills start in the Preserve?  At least everything that held meaning to Stiles. From the night Scott was Bitten, to Gerard, and all the months in between. Even though what he had suffered at Gerard’s hands hadn’t happened in the Preserve itself, Stiles felt that Gerard’s presence in Beacon Hills at all was tied inexorably to Kate Argent’s death at Peter’s hand, not that the bitch didn’t deserve it.

Even his mother’s death, which for years he had thought was something as mundane and human as cancer, wasn’t, and was tied to the very place he was going to now. The closer he got to where the Earth was leading him the more profound the echo of the old magic.  He could feel the draw of the fifth point of the pentagram of the Gate, he was sure. He wasn’t sure how he knew that’s what he was sensing, but he knew that’s exactly what it was.

He could feel the Call drawing him closer, but he hesitated.  There was someone else near. He could feel something in the air.  Something strange.

“Come closer, child,” A voice whispered on the wind.

Stiles paused.  He didn’t see anyone, but he could feel a presence, or…wait, more than one.

“Yes, that’s right,” The whisper came again.  “Open your senses, child, what do they tell you?”

Stiles closed his eyes and let his senses wander like he had at the Vet Clinic.  This time was different, everything felt more concentrated, more intense. Stiles wasn’t sure if that was because he was outside, in the heart of the preserve, or if it was because his abilities, whatever they were, had become more intune with nature, the way the journals in his trunk has suggested might happen.

He could feel the thrum of life all around him, in the earth beneath his feet, and the trees and even the small body of water he knew was not far away…But he could also sense other life, separate.  Some wildlife, but some other, more distinct life signs, stronger.

Stiles opened his eyes and looked up.

There was a thick branch from a nearby oak overhead, its dense foliage, almost completely obscuring something.  Almost, but not quite.

There was something perched in the tree.  Large, man-sized, but not altogether human.  There was something animal about the eyes, which were a burnished gold.  It blinked but otherwise didn’t move.

“Fear not, Son of Emeline.  We mean you no harm.”

The voice startled Stiles, and he jerked, looking away from the tree and the being in it.  There were another man and a woman standing several feet away. The man seemed to be of Native American descent and tall.  The woman, on the other hand, was short, maybe four feet. It had to have been the man who spoke because the voice was deep.

Stiles stared at the two newcomers then looked back at the tree.  He met the burnished gold eyes, which blinked at him once more before there was a blur of motion and then a thump and the…being, because Stiles could see he was definitely not human, was crouched on the ground, several feet in front of the couple.

He continued to observe the trio while trying to sense anything these new abilities might be able to tell him.  He wasn’t able to pick up much, just that they didn’t mean him any harm, just like the man said, though he felt as if that feeling was actually being projected instead of natural.

“Who are you?”  He finally asked.

“We’ve come to inform you of the choice before you,” The man spoke again, his voice deep and soothing.

“Choice?” Stiles asked.

“The decision you must make about protecting the Nexus.”

“You mean about the Gate?”  Stiles asked cautiously.

“Yes, young one,” The woman finally spoke.  “Your mother gave her life for the power of this place, and our Mother, she understood, she accepted that sacrifice, she has held the barriers as long as possible, but they weaken, more every day.  A new Keeper must take over the protections your mother put in place.” Her voice was soft, and there was a note of solemnity in it.

“Your Mother?  Stiles asked. There was something reverent in her voice when she had spoken of her Mother.

“The Earth.”  The third being spoke, his voice was little more than a rumble.  “She is Mother to us all.”

“Varnosh speaks true, child.”  The man spoke again. He motioned towards the animalistic man, and then towards the woman.  “Teridyne has Seen what will happen if the barrier falls. This must not be allowed to happen.”

Stiles narrowed his eyes slightly.  “That doesn’t sound like a choice. That sounds like you telling me what to do.”

Teridyne smiled.  “Your decision has already been made, has it not?”

Stiles sighed.  “My mother…she died because she wasn’t…she didn’t belong to a pack, or a tribe, or coven.”  He looked up at three. “That’s right, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”  Teridyne smiled softly.

“And what Lydia told me…about being…part of Derek’s pack…is that true too?”

Teridyne looked away for a second and looked back.  “I cannot say for certain. My Sight does not tell me if the connection between you and your pack has already been solidified.  However, if it has, you should be able to sense them. Can you feel them?”

“How do I…?”  Stiles asked.

Teridyne stepped closer and then slid gracefully to the ground.  She crossed her legs under her and held out her hand.

Stiles hesitated. He didn’t really know these people. They seemed to know some things, at least about Beacon Hills and his mother, but otherwise, he wasn’t sure who they really were, names notwithstanding.

“It’s alright, Child.” The whisper came on the wind again. Stiles looked around, realizing that this voice was not from one of these three.  Suddenly, he realized what he was hearing. He looked to Teridyne in surprise, his eyes wide.

Her hand was still lifted, waiting for him to grasp it, but her lips were twisted in a smile.

Stiles took her hand and lowered himself to the ground across from her. She began to guide him through a meditation exercise.

“Do you feel the energy in the Earth?” Teridyne asked softly.

“Yes,” Stiles responded, feeling the thrumming energy.

“Let it join with you, merge with your own Spark.”

Stiles followed her instruction and felt a rush of power and the thrumming intensified, like an echo in his bones.

“Now follow the energy back.”  Teridyne continued softly.

“Back where?”  Stiles whispered, almost afraid to disrupt his concentration.

“Do you see the energy threads?  Branching out, away from you?” The deeper voice asked quietly.

Stiles was startled to hear someone other than Teridyne speaking but not enough to draw him away from what he was trying to do.

“Different colors,”  He breathed.

“Yes,” He said.  “Each one represents someone you are connected to.  How many different colors are there?”

Stiles looked at the different branching colors.  Forest green, deep red, midnight blue, pale yellow, and burnt orange, but something was wrong with the orange thread. It was separate and seemed to be thinner, and frayed. The blue thread was slightly apart from the others and was thicker than the rest, almost like a tree that had put down roots over an extended period of time. The green, red and yellow threads were solid, but they seemed newer than the others as if they were still growing, or gaining strength.

“Five.”

“Follow each one back to their source.”

Stiles started with the midnight blue thread and when he touched it felt of home, and he knew that was his dad, warm and comforting. Pale yellow was Isaac, fierce and shy at the same time, insecure yet loyal. Deep red was Peter sharp and intelligent and still so wounded, both inside and out.  Forest green, like the trees in the preserve, was Derek. He was dark and solemn and serious, but also determined, so very determined to make his small pack real, to be true to them, now where he hadn’t been before. The burnt orange, the weakest of the threads, lead back to Scott. This thread was fraying and felt confused and lost, but also stubborn and determined to stand alone.

Stiles opened his eyes.  “I felt them. All of them.”

“Your pack?”  The man asked.

“Yes, and my father, and my best friend Scott, but his thread is…fraying.”

“You fought recently.”  Varnosh rumbled.

“Yes, there seemed to be a distance between you.”  Teridyne agreed.

Stiles widened in shock as he stood up quickly, looking from Varnosh to Teridyne then to the third man, whose name he still didn’t know.  “You’ve been watching me?”

“Yes,”  The third man agreed.

“For how long?”  Stiles scowled.

“We were sent here to ensure the Nexus is protected.”

“Seldyn,” Teridyne reproached. She stood up and turned to Stiles. “We watched you for a while to determine if your heritage awakened, and to see what the situation here was, and to make sure you understood what would be required of you, should you choose to become the next Keeper.”

Stiles turned to look at the tall man, Seldyn, he assumed. “What else do I need to know?  I already know the Gate needs a Keeper.”

“Do you know why the Gate needs to be raised at all? The last Keeper before your mother was three hundred years ago.  There has been no need of a Keeper since then.”

That was…something that hadn’t occurred to him actually. He had done the research and found the information about the previous Keeper all those years ago. However, he had been so focused on what made that Keeper different from his mother he hadn’t thought much about why there had been such a gap.  He had asked why the barrier wasn’t up constantly but hadn’t thought about why it needed to be up at all, or up during specific times.

“The protection the Gate provides is constant, it’s true, and in a place like Beacon Hills it is necessary, but the Gate is always there, it always surrounds the Nexus, it’s just without a Keeper it lies dormant, without the Will and power of a Keeper to direct that energy.”

“But while a Keeper is tied to the land, some of the power feeds into to the Gate.  Over time that power stores up. The longer a Keeper remains, the more power is saved, the longer Beacon Hills can go without a Keeper.”

“But three hundred years?”  Stiles asked incredulously. That seemed like a really long time.

“Sylvan was the Keeper here for over a hundred years,” Seldyn said calmly.  “Enough time to store enough energy for the most basic protections for the intervening years.”

“Basic protections?”  Stiles asked, snagging on that phrase.

“Low-level barriers that keep the worst threats out, sort of deterrents, but if something truly wanted in, they could get past them. As time passes, even those weak protections fail until there is nothing left.”

“But my mother…” Stiles swallowed.

“She, as you have already surmised, was not connected enough to the land, through a local tribe or pack, coven or circle, and therefore becoming the Keeper took all of her Magical energy and fed it into the Gate.”

“She knew that would happen,” Stiles whispered.  “She made that choice.”

“Yes,” Varnosh rumbled.  “And now, you must make a choice.”

Stiles turned away, closing his eyes and almost unconsciously seeking out the colored threads.  “I’m connected to Derek’s pack,” He whispered. “That means that I won’t be sacrificing myself like my mother.”

“Correct,” Seldyn agreed.

“But, it’s not as simple as just agreeing to become Keeper, is it?  It will change my life.”

“Yes, young one,” Teridyne admitted.  “Once you perform the ritual and become Keeper, it will be your Will that controls the Gate, and you must decide who may enter, and when they must leave.”

Stiles took a deep breath.  That sounded like a lot of responsibility, and it also sounded like something he couldn’t just walk away from.  Could he be away from Beacon Hills? Could he go to college? Not that Stiles had planned to go far, but still it was something to consider.

But, to protect his family, his home…it really wasn’t too much to ask, was it?

“What do I need to do?”

Teridyne smiled.  “Let us show you.”

*

The ritual was…simple.  Stiles would have thought something like joining yourself with an ancient power, asking the Earth, who herself was ancient would be more complicated.  But no. There was an active element of Will, which apparently was a fundamental aspect of the whole Keeper gig all around, and asking each of the elements for guidance and strength and permission, and acceptance.

Then the Gate just…opened.  It was like a sudden rush of power where everything was lights and sound and colors and smells and feelings.  The rush of emotions from every direction was intense. For one solitary moment, which seemed to stretch on he could sense everything.  Every living thing in Beacon Hills was attuned to him and he to them. He could sense their energy, their lifeforce, their intent, for good or ill. It was overwhelming and too much all at once.  Then he pushed it away, and it wasn’t gone, not really, but it wasn’t taking all of his attention either.

He opened his eyes and looked around the clearing.  Varnosh, Seldyn, and Teridyne were still nearby, but not close enough to disturb the circle they’d shown him how to draw with his elemental magic.

“It is done.”  He said as he stood.

“Yes, it is.  Just as I have Foreseen,” Teridyne whispered with a smile.

Varnosh jumped back up into the trees as if everything was settled, and maybe for him, it was.  Seldyn came forward and bowed his head slightly. “Thank you for your service. It was an honor.”

Stiles blinked at him in bewilderment. He then turned to Teridyne who came closer and hugged him as if they were old friends.

“You have much in your future I cannot See, but there is some I have Seen.  You will find peace here. Peace for Beacon Hills and for yourself and your pack.  Be well, young one.”

She then pulled back and stood with Seldyn for a moment before they both walked away.  Stiles heard a slight rustle in the tree branches indicating Varnosh had left as well. He could no longer see any of them, but if he focused, he could sense their energy moving through Beacon Hills until finally, it reached his boundaries.  They paused as if seeking permission. He felt his answer on the wind, though he wasn’t consciously aware of providing a response and then he felt them push through the barrier until he couldn’t sense them any longer.

*

Lucas was sitting in his kitchen staring at some files he brought home but not really focusing on them at all.  He kept thinking about what Peter Hale had told him. That Stiles was part of their pack now. He knew what that meant.  It meant that if Stiles became the Keeper, he wouldn’t have to die, like Emeline, and while that was good news. It also promised that Stiles life would be tied here, to Beacon Hills, forever.  It was one thing when Emeline had made that choice. She was his wife, and a grown woman, and, even if that choice hadn’t meant her death, he still would have supported it, but Stiles was only seventeen.  He had his whole life ahead of him.

But now, his life was already mapped out.

He wasn’t sure how he felt about that.  He wanted to be angry that Stiles choices were being taken from him by a heritage he didn’t ask for, maybe didn’t even want, but the truth was, that heritage was all he had left of his mother.  If he was honest, he knew Stiles would do what Stiles thought was right. That’s who Stiles was, even if that meant he was tied to Beacon Hills forever.

Lucas couldn’t begrudge his son that, even if he really, really wanted to.

Lucas turned his head slightly as he heard the key in the lock.  Stiles stepped in and shut the door before coming into the kitchen.  Lucas sighed as he noted the differences in just the sound of his son coming into the house.  Already Stiles had changed so much from the boy he was just last week.

“Dad,” Stiles said quietly.

Lucas took one look at his son and knew.  “You’ve done the ritual.”

Stiles nodded.  “Yeah. Are you…disappointed?”

Lucas stood up and pulled Stiles into his arms.  “No, son, I’m not. I’m proud of you, and she would be too.”

Stiles sagged against his father, more relieved than he could ever express.

“I just wish…”  Lucas began carefully.  He didn’t want Stiles to think he was upset with him or disappointed.  His son was not a delicate flower by any means, but he was not immune to hurt feelings.  “I wish you’d had choices, son.”

“I did have a choice, dad,”  Stiles assured. “I chose this.”

Lucas sighed.  “Just like your mother.”

*

Stiles was lying across his bed, his eyes closed.  He could have been asleep, but he wasn’t. He was sending his senses out, his energy, and tracking everything, making sure all was well in his new domain, now that the Gate was up again, he had the power to make sure nothing dangerous was lurking in the dark to harm his pack.

With the Argents gone, there weren’t any other hunters currently in town, and he could ensure that any others that came through town didn’t enter with malicious intent. Nothing else was presently plotting violence or mayhem.

He then changed his focus to closer to home and tracked each member of his pack.  This tightening of his focus was why, for the first time in the history of Derek’s creeper past, he was not startled by the sudden appearance of an Alpha werewolf in his bedroom.

“Hey,” he said, finally sitting up and opening his eyes.

“What have you done?”  Derek asked. He didn’t snarl the question or even ask it harshly, but it was apparent he could tell Stiles had done something.

“I became the Keeper,” he shrugged slightly.

Derek’s eyes flashed red.  “Without talking to anyone?  You could have been killed!”

“It needed to be done,” Stiles said.  “And I did research, myself, and I got Lydia to help.”  He paused and tilted his head. “Speaking of, she, Jackson and Danny want to join the pack.”

Derek stared at Stiles for a long moment.  He noticed Stiles did not say ‘your pack’ but ‘the pack’ which indicated to Derek that Stiles was aware of his place in the pack.

“Do they?” He raised a brow.  “What did you tell them?”

Stiles looked at Derek in confusion for a second.  “I told them they should ask you, and Lydia seemed to think she was doing the proper thing.  Apparently, she did some research that told her that new pack members should bring their petitions to the pack’s Second.”  As he spoke, he was eying Derek carefully.

“That’s true,” Derek agreed.

“I told her we didn’t have a Second,” Stiles continued.

Derek nodded.  “That was true.  Until whatever happened to you.”

Stiles frowned and then got up from the bed. “Okay Derek, I get that somehow my Fey magic awakening connected me to the pack, but how does that make me your Second?  Shouldn’t that be one of the others? An actual wolf?”

“Like who?  Peter? Isaac?  Peter is…well Peter.  He was my mother’s Left Hand, an enforcer of sorts.  I don’t think she appreciated the position. I didn’t really understand at the time,  I just thought it was some sort of sibling rivalry, like Laura and I, but now…” He paused and shook his head, “Now I just think it was something else.  And Isaac is young still, so no. You may not be a wolf, but you’re smart and loyal, and your magic is strong. It had to be you.” He shrugged as if that was it.

“Fine,” Stiles agreed.  “We can talk about this later.  I’ve raised the gate so, it should be quiet for a little while.  The Argents have left town and, at present, there are no other hunters in town.”

“What about Scott?” Derek questioned, knowing things were tense with them last time they’d talked.

“We haven’t really talked, but I’ll talk to him soon,” Stiles answered.

“He’s not ready for the pack,” Derek cautioned.

“I know.  He may never be ready,” Stiles told him as Derek started to move back towards the window.  “Hey, Derek? Bring everyone over tomorrow. My dad’s supposed to be off. We’ll barbeque or something.”

Derek nodded once before leaping through the window and disappearing into the night.

*

The barbeque was going remarkably well considering there were three werewolves, one human, and whatever Stiles was now.  Amazingly enough, Lucas did not have to go back into work, and he got along reasonably well with both Peter and Derek, maybe it was some of that leftover fond memory he seemed to have from when the Hales were alive. And neither he nor Isaac was mentioning the time he had Isaac in custody after Isaac’s dad died. That was probably best for all concerned.

It was a pleasant afternoon.

Which was why Stiles wasn’t surprised when Scott showed up unexpectedly.

“I’ll get it,” He said when the doorbell went off.  The werewolves all looked at him in concern. They probably knew how difficult this conversation would be.  His dad raised an eyebrow watching the sudden tension. “Scott,” He said in answer. The sheriff nodded and let him go answer the door.

“Hey,” He opened the door.

“Hey.  Can we talk?”  Scott asked, his brows scrunched in confusion.  He probably knew who was out in the backyard.

“Sure.  You want to go into the kitchen?”   Stiles opened the door wider.

Scott came inside, his eyes going to the back door for a second where he could see Isaac and Derek. He hesitated a second but then nodded and went into the kitchen.

“So…I talked to Isaac last night.” Scott started after a second.

“Yeah?” Stiles said grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge and offering one to Scott.

“He said you did some spell…became some kind of Guardian to Beacon Hills.”

“Yeah,” Stiles nodded.

“Magic, Stiles?”  Scott burst out.

“I’m Fey, Scott.  I’m made of magic.  Weird, but there it is.” Stiles sighed.  “Look, I wanted to talk to you about it earlier.  I’m sorry about the fight we had. I hate it when we fight.  I mean…I meant what I said about Allison and her family, but…”

“Allison’s gone.”  Scott interrupted quietly.

“I know,”  Stiles answered.

Scott frowned.  “Is that because of…” He waved his arm around in some vague manner.  “Your thing?”

“My thing?”  Stiles asked.

“Isaac said that your Guardian-thing means you’re connected to things?”

Stiles cocked his head slightly.  “In a manner of speaking, that’s true.”

“Is that how you know that Allison and her dad are gone?”  Scott asked again, uncomfortable. Stiles seemed strange, not like usual.

“No.  She came to see me before she left.”  Stiles admitted.

“She did?”  He was surprised.  He hadn’t known she was leaving until he’d gone over to her house and had seen the For Sale sign outside.  Even then, he’d thought maybe they had just moved. He’d tried calling and texting her. Her number had been disconnected.  Even the number he’d located for the legitimate portion of Chris Argent’s business was no longer in service. That seemed to be a pretty clear indicator that they were gone and might not be returning.

“She wanted to apologize,” Stiles offered with a shrug.

Scott wasn’t sure what to say to that.  He wanted to be pleased that Allison was sorry but, Isaac had made him realize that Stiles may have been honest when he said he didn’t care.  “That’s good. Right?” He suggested.

Stiles shrugged again.  “It’s a case of too little, too late, Scott.”

“I don’t understand.  You forgave Peter.” Scott waved a hand towards the back of the house where Peter was quietly discussing something with Stiles’ dad over the barbeque.

“Peter didn’t try to kill me, not specifically,” Stiles stated quietly.  He knew in some ways what Peter had done was worse. He had killed Laura, and for Derek that was worse, but considering Laura had abandoned him, insanity aside, maybe he had reasons for that as well.  In any case, Stiles wasn’t talking to Derek and as much as he loved Scott, he could never see the bigger picture, he would never be able to see things outside of how they affected him. Scott was angry because he felt that Stiles was choosing the Hales over Scott and Allison and in a way he was, but not in the way that Scott understood things.  Stiles was choosing the Pack, and that was a decision Scott would never comprehend, and even if Scott could come around to thinking of his wolf as a part of him, he wasn’t ready to see Allison as the enemy. He might never be. Stiles had looked into the face of evil and understood that it had worn the visage of a friend. He would always remember that lesson.

Always.

“She…didn’t try to kill you,”  Scott said. “That was her grandfather.  Don’t blame her for things Gerard did.”

Stiles narrowed his eyes at his oldest friend.  “I don’t blame her for what Gerard did. I blame her for what she did.  All actions have consequences, Scott.  She has to own up to what she did, and she realizes that.  Now you have to learn to deal with the fact that she’s gone and she might not be coming back.”

“She might,” Scott said petulantly before he looked at Stiles worryingly.  “Wait, if you’re this Guardian…does that mean you can keep people out?”

“It does,” Stiles nodded once.

“What kind of people?”  Scott asked hesitatingly.

“All kinds,” Stiles shrugged, his senses reaching out to the edges of his borders, to ensure all was well.

“Hunters?” Scott whispered.

“If they come with ill intent, then yes.”

“But…”  Scott began to protest.

“No, Scott.  That’s it.” His eyes narrowed and flashed a brilliant forest green.

Scott nodded and looked away, suddenly more than just uncomfortable.  For the first time, he felt like he didn’t know who Stiles was anymore.

“Scott,” Stiles sighed.  “You’re still my best friend, but I have responsibilities now.  I know you don’t understand what’s happened, and I’m sorry about that.”

Scott nodded once.  “I…I think I just need to think.”  He said as he stood up quickly and left the house.

Stiles sighed once more and looked towards the backyard.  His eyes met Derek’s, and he smiled softly.

It was okay.  Stiles had his father still, and he had a pack now.

He left the kitchen to join them in the backyard and make sure there was still some food left.

*

The End

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Series Navigation<< Keeper 2: Rebuilding Family

6 Comments:

  1. this was great can’t wait for more

  2. This is wonderful! I really enjoyed your world-building, and BAMF Stiles is always a treat.

    Two thumbs up! ?

  3. Awesome!!! I loved the entire concept an the execution was flawless! Thanks for a great story!

  4. Great Story

  5. love this story, the way Stiles finds his power and becomes a part of the pack. Sad about the ones who are lost, of course. Always up for a BAMF Stiles 🙂 Thanks for sharing ~ Z

  6. Very good story

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