Title: Triquetra -Chapter Three
Pairing: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski (main), Derek Hale/Kate Argent (past), Jackson Whittemore/Lydia Martin, Scott McCall/Allison Argent, Boyd/Erica Reyes, Chris Argent/Victoria Argent, Danny Mahealani/OMC
Rating: Eventual NC-17
Warnings/Triggers/Enticements: Canon Typical Violence, Child abuse, OC and canon character death, Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics, Mating trope, possible knotting, possessive behavior, mild dub-con depending on your POV, Magical!Stiles, AU
Word Count: ~7560
Summary: With the death of Aleksander Stilinski, Gerald Argent and his Purist regime rose to power in the little village of Beacon Hills, forcing Aleksander's son Stiles to live in near exile in the family's home on the outskirts of the forest. Stiles hones his skills and dispenses his magical gifts in secret under the constant threat of discovery and extermination by the Purists. When Stiles stumbles upon Katherine Argent and Adrian Harris trying to do away with a small child in the woods near his home, he immediately takes in the abandoned babe. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions and Aleksander had oft warned Stiles that his impulsive nature would do him in some day, and shortly after taking him in Stiles finds that he's gotten much more than he bargained for when the boy he rescued turns out to be a child of the Were and Stiles is forced to seek out the boy's clan in order to keep them both safe. Derek Hale, the clan's Alpha, offers sanctuary-but at a price that Stiles isn't sure he's willing to pay and Stiles finds himself drawn into the deadly war between the Purists and the Were that exposes secrets of the past and threatens all of their futures.
Spoilers: Anything up to S2, Episode 24 may be mentioned
Disclaimer: Unfortunately I do not own Teen Wolf, Tyler Hoechlin or Dylan O'Brien (weeps at the unfairness of it all)
A/N: First thank you all so much for your feedback and support. As this is my first Teen Wolf fic I am incredibly thankful for the warm reception I've received by the fandom. Second, after some consideration I've tweaked the language a bit and gone back and edited previous chapters to reflect the change. It's so much so that I've completely abandoned what I was doing before but it feels a little less jarring to me and flows a bit better. I think it's still in keeping with the tone I've chosen to set for the fic while being a bit of an easier read for you all.
So anywhoo...I hope you guys enjoy this chapter :)
read here on AO3
read here on LJ: Chapter One|Chapter Two
Derek dropped the Purist's body and wiped his bloody mouth with the back of his hand. He caught a flash of movement out of the corner of his eye and cursed.
He supposed it shouldn't surprise him that the boy-Stilinski-had fled. The human's fight or flight response, coupled with his obvious desire to protect the Were child from harm had obviously compelled him to run.
The fact that Derek could understand the human's thought process did nothing to stop him from cursing the idiot for running from wolves. For no sooner had Derek noticed Stilinski's attempt to escape than his betas did as well.
And unfortunately, as they were bitten and not born wolves, Jackson and Boyd lacked Derek's iron clad control over their more primitive instincts. No sooner had Stilinski and the boy disappeared into the trees than Jackson and Boyd snarled and prepared to give chase.
Derek let loose a blood curling howl and both betas dropped to the ground, cowering low before the command of their Alpha.
"There's no need to chase them," Derek said, walking to where his betas lay and curling one of his hands around the backs of both of their necks.
"He fled with the boy," Jackson rumbled. "The child is pack."
"He's ours," Boyd added vehemently.
"He is," Derek agreed. "And we shall have our packmate. But there's no need to pursue them through woods as if they were prey. They'll be back."
"How can you be so sure," Jackson demanded.
"Don't be insolent," Derek murmured. "Take a look around you, Jackson. What do you see?"
The beta's blue eyes swept the little clearing and he smiled. "They left all of their belongings."
"So you think they'll be back to retrieve them?" Boyd asked.
"I do," Derek confirmed. "And when they return, we'll be waiting."
Stiles and Isaac had hidden high up in the branches of a nearby tree. Stiles suspected the moment his feet began to fly across the forest floor that he had made a grave mistake and the snarling and rumbling of the Were that he'd left behind in the clearing confirmed it for him.
Stiles was human and no matter how highly motivated by fear and paternal instinct he may have been, he knew that he couldn't outrun the three Were and his attempt to do so was little more than an invitation for them to chase him down and…
Well Stiles wasn't sure what they'd do when they caught him but he had no desire to find out. Since running was out of the question and fighting would be an exercise in futility, Stiles chose option number three.
They hid. Once he got up in the branches in the tree he could see the clearing and could see that the Were's leader had stopped the other two from pursuing he and Isaac into the forest.
"Can you hear them?" Stiles whispered to Isaac.
Isaac shook his head. "They're too far away," he said regretfully. "What will we do now?"
"We will stay up here and wait for them to go away," Stiles said. "They won't stay too long-too much of a chance of running into more Purists. As soon as they leave we'll go get our things and make our way to your kinsmen."
Stiles and Isaac watched as the three Were dragged away the Purists bodies, presumably to bury their remains somewhere they wouldn't be discovered, Stiles thought with a shudder. Shortly after that the men seemed to walk back into the trees from whence they had come before and disappeared.
Stiles and Isaac remained in the relative safety of the tree's branches for several hours, climbing down only when Stiles was somewhat confident that the trio of Were had truly dispersed and that the Purists had not sent another hunting party in after their missing brethren.
Cautiously, the duo approached their camp, Isaac's sharp eyes scanning the surrounding trees and bushes for any sign of danger, Stiles with one hand clasped around his young charge's and the other gripping his pistol. When they made it their belongings without incident Stiles breathed a sigh of relief and shot Isaac a grin that he hoped looked reassuring.
"Aight then, let's gather our things and get oomph-"
The rest of Stiles' sentence was lost, stolen by the shock of being tackled and pinned to the ground by a solid wall of muscle and bone. His pistol went flying out of his grip and skittered across the dirt to land a few feet away from him. Stiles shook his head to clear the cobwebs and stared up at the form anchoring him to the earth. It was the Were's leader, the one who had torn out the throat of the Purist. Even though a tendril of fear had snaked down his spine when he realized it was possible that he might be about to meet the same end as the Purists had, Stiles felt oddly reassured that the Were above him had not shifted and was wholly human in appearance. And what a human appearance he possessed. Earlier, with his features distorted by fangs and fury Stiles hadn't been able to get a good look at the man but now, up close and personal as they were, it couldn't be avoided. Stiles' gaze quickly took in the chiseled jaw, lightly peppered with a stubble that Stiles most decidedly did not find attractive or have the urge to trail his fingertips across, soft looking pink lips stretched over white, even teeth that reminded Stiles more of bone than they should have and glinted in the light of morning sun, coal black hair that looked almost as if it would part like waves of silk under his touch, dark lashes framing intense hazel eyes…
That were slowly beginning to bleed red.
"Stiles!" Isaac cried out, the panic in his voice causing Stiles to yank his gaze from the Were's face to over his right shoulder where Isaac was being restrained by the Were's brunette companion. The dark skinned Were stood off to the side, his lips twitching as if he wanted to smile as Isaac fought and struggled in the brunette's grasp, finally managing to shift partially, striking out with his claws and sinking his fangs deep into his captor's hand.
"By Gods! He bit me!" The brunette howled, ripping his hand away from Isaac's teeth but still not turning the child loose.
"Aye, you totty headed by blow and I'll do it again if you don't set me free!" Isaac said fiercely, trying in vain to break the Were's grip on him.
The Were standing beside the pair gave up any attempt at subtly and his shoulders shook with laughter. Stiles took a bit of comfort in the sight of the Were's genuine amusement and the fact that other than an angry scowl upon his otherwise handsome face the Were that Isaac had bitten sought no retribution and allowed his fears for Isaac's safety to dissipate a bit.
"The smell of your fear is no longer as potent as before but your heartbeat is still deafening," The Were holding Stiles down murmured suddenly, drawing Stiles' attention back to him. "You have no reason to fear neither me nor my pack brothers."
"None at all," Stiles agreed scornfully, "Except for the part where you and your pack slaughtered four men before my eyes and you ripped the very throat from the last of them and then hid in the woods like some gang of highwaymen waiting to pounce on a wayward traveler."
The Were's eyes flashed dangerously, the red color intensifying for just a moment before settling back to it's no less intense hazel counterpart. "If you didn't want to be pounced on, you shouldn't have run from wolves. 'Twas an invitation if ever there was one," he said mocking Stiles' earlier mistake. "I could smell you over yonder in the trees. What precisely where you thinking, climbing up in the tops of the branches like some manner of ape?"
Stiles glared up at the man. "I was thinking of Isaac's safety, not that I'm required to explain myself to the likes of you," Stiles spat.
"Really now?" The Were challenged him. "Are you sure you weren't thinking of trying to save your own hide?"
Stiles felt his hackles rise and before cooler heads could prevail he had spat right in the Were's face. "You know nothing of me," Stiles hissed angrily. "You know nothing of the risks I have taken-happily-to keep him from harm. You know nothing of the risks I will take to continue to keep him from harm. You have no right-"
"I have every right!" The Were snarled, wiping his face clean and then leaning down so he was nose to nose with Stiles. "He is Were, he is-"
"Mine," Stiles bit back, refusing to be cowed. "He is mine and you shan't harm him nor shall you take him from me just because he is of your kind. He may not be of my blood but he is mine, bound to me by love and loyalty just as tightly as your packmate over there-" Stiles jerked his head to indicate the darker of the two, "is bound to you by the same."
"And if I did want to take the boy?"
"I would fight you til there was no longer breath in my body," Stiles declared, meeting the Were's penetrating stare.
"I'd flay the very flesh from your bones," the Were whispered, allowing his claws to pop free and running them gently down the side of Stiles' face.
"Not if I killed you first," Stiles said defiantly.
There was absolute silence for a few beats. Even Isaac stifled his protests and stood silently with the others, watching the scene before them. Stiles refused to look away from the Were, even when his eyes began to tear and it became a struggle not to blink, recalling too late one of the first lessons Deaton had ever taught him about the Were.
"It's a myth that you should avoid looking a Were in the eye," Deaton began.
"Stiles, the Were are not only wolves. They are also human. Just as the wolf always resides within the man the man always resides within the wolf. Even in their wolf form eye contact is one of the most important forms of communication within a pack. It's used to communicate greetings, establish dominance and discern the mental and emotional state of their pack members. It can be a form of bonding and expression. When Isaac is in his wolf form, if you avoid eye contact all together you will be removing one of the forms of communication he relies upon the most."
"I think I understand."
"We're not done yet," Deaton cautioned him. "There are times when eye contact is not only inappropriate, it just might get you killed. If a Were is snarling, growling, being aggressive don't try to establish eye contact. And if you ever come upon an Alpha, open your eyes as wide as you can and avert your gaze. A direct stare into the eyes of an Alpha is a challenge; it's a challenge to their rank, to their social status and to their dominance. It's a provocation to battle and Stiles, you will not survive a battle with an Alpha."
"I don't suppose there's any chance that you're not an Alpha, is there?" Stiles asked hopefully, breaking the silence.
The Were simply raised an eyebrow and continued to stare down at Stiles.
"Well how was I supposed to know that you were an Alpha," Stiles said defensively, still not looking away. "It's not as if you introduced yourself or have a sign hanging about your neck announcing yourself as such. Your poor manners and complete lack of social graces are to blame for this situation," he finished.
"Still your tongue before I rip it out," The Were enunciated slowly, placing a finger over Stiles' lips. "Here's what's going to happen: I'm going to let you up. You are going to wait as we gather your things and saddle your horse. Then you and the boy are going to follow us back to Brackenwood."
"Or I'm going to gut you right here and take him back anyway."
"Well if those are my only choices I suppose you and your kin will be having a couple of houseguests," Stiles said, finally being forced to blink and break their stalemate. Derek let out a low rumble of satisfaction at having proven the victor which prompted Stiles to stick his tongue out at him in response.
"Oh that's mature. Are you sure it's not the lad that's raising you?" Derek asked, taking amusement in Stiles' annoyance.
"Stiles?" Isaac called out uncertainly, interrupting the exchange.
"Tis aight Isaac. Just a bit of a change of plans is all," Stiles said, ignoring his irritation and keeping his voice light in an attempt to allay Isaac's fears.
Stiles suddenly found himself being yanked to his feet. "Ooof," he exhaled, stumbling forward a bit and landing in the middle of the Were's chest. Stiles' hands fanned out to brace himself and he couldn't help the flood of awareness he got as he felt the Were's powerful muscles beneath his touch.
"Are you typically this artless?" The Were asked impatiently as he peeled Stiles from his form and righted him on his feet.
"Typically I'm not being flung about like a rag doll," Stiles replied yanking free and faltering backwards for a couple of steps before regaining his balance.
As soon as Stiles was standing under his own power Isaac resumed his struggles to break free. "Boyd, gather their things. Jackson, let the boy go," The Alpha ordered. Immediately the blue eyed beta released the child and Isaac took no time in flinging himself into Stiles' waiting arms.
"Are you harmed," Stiles whispered into Isaac's ear as he smoothed the child's curls back from his brow and held his trembling body close.
"Is he harmed?" Jackson broke in indignantly. "He's the one who sank fang and claw into me-"
"And you've already healed so stow your belly achin'," Boyd said as he made quick work of packing up the pallet Stiles and Isaac had used from the night before.
"Twas still painful," Jackson snapped.
"My my, what would Lydia say if she knew her betrothed had been brought low by the bite of a cub?" Boyd teased.
"I suspect she'd say the same as Erica if she knew her betrothed was felled by a steel trap on the last moon," Jackson taunted.
Boyd opened his mouth to reply but one look at his annoyed Alpha had him closing it without comment.
"There's no need nor is there any point in whispering, Stiles," Derek said. "We can hear you."
"I'm aware," Stiles replied. "The whispering was for Isaac's benefit, not yours…Mr. Were…Alpha…Man," Stiles fumbled, realizing he didn't know how to address the Were before him. "Isaac is a gentle soul and he does not enjoy trouble; Discord and conflict affect him greatly and soft sounds soothe him when he's upset," Stiles explained.
"My name is Derek," the Were responded, his voice dropping several octaves and taking on a note of gentleness that had been absent before. "And it was not our intention to upset the child."
"His name is Isaac and of course he's upset. Tis not yet the afternoon and he's been threatened with death, seen men torn asunder and-," Stiles broke off and swallowed down his temper. "He's but a boy and this day has been trying."
Derek nodded. "Boyd, Jackson. Finish gathering their things and make sure the horses are ready to go," he instructed his betas and then walked over to Stiles and Isaac and kneeled down so he was at eye level with the little boy. He reached out and carded his hand through Isaac's hair before he spoke. "I'm sorry you were frightened, little one. We bear you no ill will and I promise no harm will come to you."
Isaac pulled slightly away from Stiles and studied Derek, the almost imperceptible flaring of his nostrils and slight tipping of his head to the side the only outward signs of his attempt to surreptitiously scent the Alpha before him. Derek's lips quirked up in pride at Isaac's efforts but the cub's next words had Derek's hackles rising to meet a challenge the cub was not aware he had even issued.
"I know that no harm will come to me. Stiles will see to it," Isaac answered, suspicion and distrust evident in his cool blue eyes.
"Stiles will?" Derek answered, struggling to keep his voice soft even as he chaffed at having his position as Isaac's protector usurped by a human.
"He always does," Isaac answered, lifting his chin defiantly as he scented Derek's displeasure with his previous words. "Stiles is my pack."
"And what," Derek questioned somewhat angrily, "has this human been able to teach you of pack?"
"Pack protects pack," Isaac growled, "Pack doesn't harm nor hurt, pack does not betray nor abandon, pack is love and acceptance and safety and strength. Pack is belonging and home and Stiles is my pack and I am his and if you don't like it you and yours can go meet the three legged stool!"
"Well, as I have no intention of hanging anytime soon I suppose it's a lucky thing for me and mine that the reins of our destiny are not held in your hands, cub," Derek said, rising from the ground and brushing the dirt off of his knees. "Your human-"
"My name is Stiles, Derek. You have my permission to use it," Stiles broke in, aggravated at the way Derek made the word human sound as if it tasted sour upon his tongue.
"Stiles," Derek repeated through clenched teeth, "seems to have taught you well the meaning of pack. It's almost as if someone taught him the way of the Were," Derek added, taking an almost savage satisfaction in the way Stiles' heartbeat ticked up at the words.
"My mother and father were kind, loving people. Tis due to them that I didn't need anyone to teach me the meaning of family," Stiles said, refusing to rise to Derek's bait. He knew enough not to try to lie to the Alpha outright but he wasn't going to betray Deaton to a Were he hardly knew. The elder might very well be dead but if he wasn't Stiles wasn't about to let it be known that there was a human running about with more knowledge about Were's and all manners of the supernatural than any Purist could hope to possess.
"Aren't you a clever one," Derek murmured before turning to address Jackson. "Are we ready?"
"Aye, the horses are saddled and we've disassembled the camp and hidden all tracks and traces left by the Purists and covered our own. Boyd is waiting on the path with the horses."
Derek nodded. "Well done. Take Isaac. He can ride with you. It will give the two of you an opportunity to get to know one another better," Derek said, stifling a laugh at the twin looks of horror on Isaac and Jackson's faces.
"I want to ride with Stiles," Isaac declared.
"You will ride Jackson. Stiles will ride with me. We have much to discuss and this is not the time nor is it the place to do so."
"I want to ride with Stiles! You cannot tell me what to do and-"
Derek let loose a roar that had the birds fleeing the treetops and sent the animals in the brush running for cover. "You," he said pointing to Isaac "will ride with Jackson and-"
He stopped speaking. Stiles suddenly stood before him spitting fury and looking every bit as much a warrior as any Were Derek had ever faced in battle.
"You," Stiles said poking Derek in the chest, "may be their Alpha but you are not ours. If you want us to do something you will ask and maybe, maybe, we will consent to your request."
Derek stared pointedly at Stiles' finger, still resting on Derek's breastbone. "Have you taken leave of all of your senses or are you really this daft?"
"Better daft than a bully," Stiles fired back and waved a hand dismissively at Derek's snarl. "I understand well and truly, you're the Alpha, you will gut me and make a lasso of my entrails so on and so forth. I understand who you are and what that means but does not. He is but a child and I will not have you trying to establish your dominance at his expense and if you cannot abide by that then he and I shan't be going anywhere with you."
"I was not aware you had been given a choice," Derek bit out. "But in any case, I have no desire to bully nor intimidate Isaac. My apologies for losing my temper, it won't happen again."
Stiles looked entirely too triumphant for Derek's liking at the Alpha's concession so he grabbed the hand that still rested upon his chest and pulled Stiles closer. "Challenge me in front of my pack again and I will tear your throat out. With. My. Teeth. Understood?"
Stiles swallowed hard. "Well being that I have a firm policy against throat ripping as it pertains to me I shall do my level best not to challenge your ah…status in front of your pack. You are the Alpha. You who possesses the fangs and the claws and the red eyes of fury are indeed the Alpha and little old human me will do well to remember it, yessir. Derek. Alpha. Alpha Derek."
"Does he always use so many words with a simple aye or nay would do?" Jackson asked Isaac.
"Aye," Isaac replied. "Sometimes I think he talks just to see how many words he can string together before he needs to take a breath." The two snickered at the affronted look on Stiles' face.
"Traitor," Stiles mumbled, rolling his eyes in Isaac's direction. "Since the two of you seem to have become bosom buddies I trust that there'll be no more objecting to Derek's request that you ride together."
The pair's giggles dissolved instantly and Isaac frowned mutinously. "I'll ride with you," he said side eyeing Jackson, "But I shan't like it. And if you try anything it will be more than a bite you'll be getting this time," he advised the older boy.
"Just be warned cub that the next time you bite me I'll be biting back," Jackson cautioned Isaac in return.
"Well, at this rate the two of you will be braiding each other's hair and sharing your secrets by the time the darkman's are upon us," Stiles said brightly clapping his hands together. "Now, as for you and I," he said turning to Derek. "I really think I ought to ride upon my own mare. She's rather temperamental and I wouldn't want her-"
"You'll ride with me," Derek declared, turning his back on Stiles and beginning to walk away. "Or be left behind."
Stiles swore silently. He had hoped to use the time spent traveling to wherever Derek was spiriting them off to in order to formulate a plan of escape. He'd have a much tougher time with subterfuge if he were trapped on Derek's steed, close enough for the Were to smell every shift in his emotion and beat of his heart.
And he suspected that's exactly why Derek was forcing the issue.
Stiles squared his shoulders and put on a brave face. If Derek was determined to force Stiles to ride with him then Stiles was going to find a way to make the best of the situation, starting with finding out why Derek was so insistent on not leaving Isaac and Stiles behind.
Stiles didn't have to wait long for the answer to his question. They had hardly set down upon the path when Derek broke the silence.
"Why were you and Isaac fleeing when those Purists happened upon you?"
"Who said we were fleeing?" Stiles replied quickly, reluctant to give up any information until he was sure whether Derek was friend or foe.
"Stiles," Derek said with exaggerated patience. "You are carrying far too much to have been traveling to visit someone and yet not enough have been relocating. And those Purists were after Isaac's hide-and yours as well by the looks of things."
"Didn't anyone ever teach you that it is poor manners to ask questions you already know the answer too?" Stiles sidestepped.
"Didn't anyone ever you tis poor manners to answer a question with a question?"
"I suppose we're both lacking in our social graces then," Stiles quipped lightly.
"Stiles," Derek said, blowing out a frustrated breath, the exhale ghosting over the shell of Stiles' ear. "I know what you are doing and it will not work. I shall not be distracted away from the answers I seek by your being intentionally contrary. The only thing you are accomplishing is the trying of my patience and I assure you, you do not want to be trying my patience right now."
"Far be it for me to try the patience of the almighty Alpha," Stiles muttered and then yelped when Derek's arm tightened around his waist in response. "No need to remind the fragile human just how soft and squishy he is," Stiles snarked. "And you answered your own question. The Purists were after Isaac. If they had found me harboring him they would have killed us both. Beacon Hills was no longer safe."
"You are a human," Derek said, making the words sound like an accusation before burying his nose in the crook of Stiles' neck and sniffing. "Completely human," he said after a moment. "The Purists might have banished you, but their code wouldn't have permitted your death."
Stiles emitted a bitter laugh. "You've clearly never met the Argents," he said scornfully. "They are a whole new breed of Purists, more monstrous than any demon or beast they seek to protect humanity from. 'Twould be enough for them to call for my death if it were known that I harbored Isaac knowing full well that he was Were but add to that my own rather dubious reputation and that of my mother's on top of that and trust me Derek, my being human tis no deterrent. They'd kill me just as brutally as they'd slay Isaac, probably more so in order to send a message to any that opposed them or their ways."
Derek narrowed his eyes and scented Stiles more thoroughly. Beneath the smell of Isaac and earth, past the hint of pine from the trees Stiles had been crouched in earlier and the tart smell of his anger, just beyond his own natural scent that whispered to Derek of cub and sex and musk and that was wholly and uniquely Stiles lay something else. Derek breathed deeply and Stiles squawked indignantly, attempting to shrug Derek off of him but Derek merely tightened his grip and immersed himself deeper in the essence of the human in his arms until he could identify what it was about Stiles' that smelled faintly of power and…
Derek's chest rumbled as he identified the smell of dandelions and aconitum, valerian and nightshade, lavender and hemlock and a dozen other herbs that most humans had no use for.
"Are you a witch?" He demanded roughly, unsure of what exactly he'd do if the answer was yes.
"Nay, and neither was my mother," Stiles spat. "I am a healer, and that tis all that I am. And fine, so perhaps, just perhaps, I dabble. A protection spell here, a prosperity charm there but that does not make me a witch."
"Healers cannot cast working spells nor produce useful charms," Derek argued. "You have The Gift."
"Aye, and tis of no consequence to the Argents and those like them that I use it not for ill," Stiles snapped. "Tis all fine and dandy to be gifted when Doc Adams can't ease Mrs. Tolliver's headaches or one of the newborn babes is keeping the whole family up with the colic or Reverend Wiltshire is being plagued by nightmares of his dead mother, but let the winter frost linger a tad too long or an illness take hold among the livestock and then my very existence is a crime against humanity, a crime for which the Argents have already found me guilty and seek to see me hang," Stiles whispered furiously.
"We are going to the Northern Hills," Isaac chimed in suddenly. "Stiles was taking me to the Hales, to my kin to request sanctuary."
Stiles looked heavenward and cursed Isaac's sharp hearing. "I don't believe our plans are any of Derek's concern, Isaac."
"Oh but to the contrary, they are entirely my concern," Derek corrected him. "My name is-"
"Derek, we are aware," Stiles interrupted. "You are Derek, I am Stiles and that is Isaac and we are all one big, happy pack."
"More than you know," Derek agreed. "As I was saying afore I was so rudely interrupted, my name is Derek Hale. Alpha of the Hale pack and I was on my way to Beacon Hills to retrieve that which is mine. Coming upon the two of you as I did saved me part of the journey."
Isaac stared openly and Stiles felt himself grow faint. If it hadn't been for Derek's strong arms caging him in and keeping him upright he was sure he'd have fallen off of the horse and been trampled under it's hooves.
"You are a member of the Hale pack," Stiles asked weakly.
"From the moment I was born," Derek cheerfully affirmed.
"And you are the Alpha of said pack," Stiles repeated blankly.
"As I've had to remind you several times since we met, Stiles," Derek nodded.
"You are Isaac's kin…and you arethe Alpha?" Stiles demanded, his eyes widening. "That cannot be. Laura Hale is the Alpha of the Hale pack. De-Dat is what everyone says," he correctly swiftly.
Stiles felt Derek go rigid behind him and when he spoke it was with a coldness that had chilled Stiles to his very bones. "Laura is gone, has been for nearly a year now. When she passed I became the Alpha."
"None of your business," Derek barked, the threat of violence in his tone causing Stiles to smother all his questions about the fallen Alpha
"I'm sorry for your loss," Stiles murmured, bowing his head and trying to calm his racing thoughts.
Escape was no longer a viable option, not that it had ever really been before. Derek had been traveling to Beacon Hills to claim Isaac and return him to his rightful pack. If Stiles tried to flee now he'd not only have to contend with the Purists but he'd have a pack of bloodthirsty Were on his trail. Purists he might have a chance of escaping but now that Derek had scented he and Isaac there wasn't a corner in hell Stiles would be able to hide in where the Alpha wouldn't find them.
"And I for yours," Derek replied, his voice breaking into Stiles' thoughts and his earlier anger absent.
"What do you know about what I have lost," Stiles demanded.
"I know far more about you think I know," Derek replied. "I did not know that you were gifted but I know that you are an orphan. I also know that you took Isaac in and kept him safe at great risk to yourself and I know that you have done everything in your power to heal the emotional wounds inflicted upon him by Katherine."
"Quite a lot you know," Stiles replied, his heart jackhammering in his chest. "One would almost think you'd been creeping about watching us."
Derek chuckled darkly. "I didn't stalk you like prey," he drawled, "though had I known about you sooner I may have. I know about you the same way you knew Isaac was of Hale blood and learned the ways of the pack."
Stiles shook his head frantically. "Are you certain you have not been out in the sun too long? I think you're a bit touched, talking all out of your head like that and-"
"It's admirable you know," Derek said absently, "Your loyalty to a man you haven't seen in well over a year now. In case you're wondering, Deaton is well. And he made it quite clear to me that returning to Brackenwood with Isaac but without you would be a mistake. I doubted his word at first but now I'm beginning to believe he told me true."
"You have seen him?" Stiles asked, struggling to make sense of the words that were coming out Derek's mouth. "Did he…did he tell you seek you out for sanctuary? Did he tell you about us?"
"Nay and aye," Derek answered. "We sought him, though ultimately it did no good. And he took his time telling me of Isaac's existence."
Derek cut Stiles off. "I did not take Laura's passing well."
"You were half feral for the better part of the year," Jackson corrected, ignoring his Alpha's warning look. "Tis no point in telling the tale if you aren't going to tell it all," he huffed.
"As I said, I did not take it well," Derek continued. "I've since adjusted. Deaton finally decided I was fit enough to know that-"
"You have a son," Stiles finished dully. There was only one reason Deaton wouldn't have immediately shared the news of Isaac's existence with his father and that was if the father were incapable of caring for the child. If Isaac had been sired by another member of the Hale pack Deaton would have sought the man out and told him of the cub's existence. But Isaac hadn't been sired by another member of pack, he's been sired by Derek and if Derek had been half mad with grief over the loss of his sister then Deaton would have held his tongue, secure in the knowledge that Isaac was safe with Stiles until such a time Derek was fit to claim him.
That time had evidently come.
"You are my sire?" Isaac asked timidly.
The insecurity in Isaac's voice broke Stiles' heart and he was answering before Derek had a chance to speak lest he say something that the sensitive child could perceive as a rejection.
"Isn't that wonderful," Stiles said with forced cheer. "We were going to find your kin and instead your kin found us. I would say that is a good omen if ever there was one. I would lay odds that Derek here is just over the moon at having sired such a fine young lad as you, Isaac. Aren't you Derek?" Stiles asked, 'accidently' jabbing his elbow into Derek's ribs.
Derek's hands flexed briefly on the reins but he the smile he aimed at Isaac bore no trace of his irritation with Stiles. "Aye," Derek agreed. "When Deaton told me about you my only thought was to find you and bring you back to Brackenwood where you belonged," Derek began. "But when I saw you, so strong and brave, refusing to abandon your pack in the face of danger, I was so proud that you were pack, that you were mine. I am so proud that you are mine."
"And what about Stiles?" Isaac asked.
"What about him?" Derek replied.
"Stiles is my pack," Isaac said slowly, as if he were explaining that water makes things wet to small, rather dimwitted child. "If I belong to you, then so does Stiles," Isaac reasoned.
Boyd and Jackson both tried in vain to contain their amusement at Isaac's declaration of Derek's ownership over Stiles but the grins stretching across their faces gave them both away.
"I do not think Alpha has much of an objection to that," Boyd remarked slyly, causing both he and Jackson to succumb to a fit of laughter.
Stiles' cheeks burned and just when he was certain he couldn't be any more embarrassed Isaac spoke again.
"Stiles said that when we reached my kin he might be able to find himself a nice Were lady to be my new mother but that's daft. For one I do not wish to have a mother, not after Kate," Isaac declared, causing each of the adults around him to wince. "For another, Stiles wouldn't like any of the Were ladies. He didn't like any of the human ladies so why would he like a Were lady any better? The only person he's ever looked at with any interest is Miller Greenberg's son, no matter how many times Amanda Porter came to call in dresses cut so low that a newborn babe could probably suckle at her-"
"Isaac!" Stiles shouted, his face flaming as Boyd nearly toppled from his horse in his amusement and Derek muffled his laughter in the back of Stiles' neck, the scrape of Derek's stubble against Stiles' sensitive skin sending an involuntary shiver down his spine. "I think you have painted a pretty enough picture, thank you."
"No, no Isaac please go on," Jackson wheezed. "Why else should Stiles belong to the Alpha."
"That's enough Jackson," Derek said, taking pity on Stiles. "No need to be embarrassed, Stiles."
"Easy for you to say," Stiles mumbled. "Tis just one more thing about me that is unnatural according the Purist."
Stiles' misery was strong that Derek had an all consuming urge to wrap his arms around him and soothe his pain, to explain to him there was nothing unnatural about him except perhaps that he was a human who seemed utterly untrained in the arts of treachery and betrayal.
"Then tis a good thing you will no longer be among Purists," Derek whispered thickly. He ran a deliberate hand up Stiles' side and was rewarded with a startled gasp. "The Were in general and my pack in particular are much more…open to the exploration of one's desires. We have men mated to men, women mated to woman, pairs and triads…you'll find no judgment in your new home, Stiles."
Stiles felt the burn of tears in his eyes at the word home and the promise of acceptance that Derek had made him. "It sounds nice," Stiles murmured, willing himself not to respond to warmth of Derek at his back or take pleasure in the brush of his lips against his ear. He wasn't so foolish as to believe that Derek was unaware of the way he had set his heart racing or the sparks of excitement rushing along his skin but he was determined not to embarrass himself any further.
Isaac however had no such compunctions.
"So you will be mated to Stiles," the boy shrugged, "And we'll be pack and family."
Stiles choked on air and Derek stiffened behind him.
"I will not mate with a human," he said, the contempt evident in his voice to even a small child such as Isaac.
"You mated with Kate," Isaac pointed out undeterred. "And Stiles is a far more better choice than she."
"Katherine was a mistake," Derek gritted. "One that cost me and my pack bitterly and save for your birth brought nothing but misery down upon my head. Tis not a mistake I'll be repeating."
"With all due respect Alpha, you may not have a choice," Boyd said quietly. "Isaac is yours. The first born Hale of his generation, tis his right to lead but-"
"I am well aware of pack law," Derek cut Boyd off.
"I'm not," Stiles spoke up quickly.
"Tis because Hale pack law tis no concern of yours," Derek replied.
"Isaac is my concern," Stiles responded fiercely, "And if there's something in the pack laws that concern him then-"
"Now is not the time," Derek said tiredly. "We will address it, as well as the issue of your place in the pack when we reach Brackenwood."
"His place is with me," Isaac argued. "And if my place is with you then that means Stiles' place is with you too."
"Is he always this difficult?" Derek asked Stiles.
"This," Stiles smirked, "this is nothing. He's got his cap set on getting a kitten," Stiles said jovially. "Just wait til he gets started again on that again."
"A kitten," Derek said flatly.
"Aye, a kitten," Stiles confirmed.
"A Were with a kitten," Derek grimaced.
"Said we'd name it Socks," Stiles added helpfully, enjoying the look of utter incredulity on Boyd's face since he couldn't twist around to see Derek's.
"Aye, he'll be grey and white and black like when I'm my wolf," Isaac put in.
"There will be no kittens at Brackenwood," Derek proclaimed.
"I want a kitten," Isaac whined, his voice taking on a sharp quality that Stiles knew meant he was about to work himself up into a snit. "He will be grey and white and black like my wolf and his name will Socks and he will be mine," Isaac continued glaring daggers at Derek.
Derek jostled Stiles. "Do something," he hissed.
"You are the Alpha," Stiles shrugged, delighting in the sight of Jackson and Boyd's amused faces now that their merriment was not at his expense and curious to see how Derek would handle Isaac when he got it into his head to be willful.
"Were do not own kittens, Isaac-" Derek began.
"Then tis a good thing I'm half human," Isaac fired back.
"Isaac tis not a good idea to bring prey-"
"Socks will not be prey. He will be my pet!"
"It is out of the question!"
"I want my kitten! I want Socks!" Isaac cried.
Stiles decided things had gone far enough and it was time for him to step in. "Isaac," he said sharply, "what have I told you about tantrums."
"That they are for ill mannered brutes and wee ones who don't know any better," Isaac replied petulantly.
"Are you an ill mannered brute?" Stiles asked patiently.
"Nay," Isaac replied sullenly, slumping his shoulders and tucking his chin into his chest.
"Then I suppose that means you're a wee one," Stiles said.
"Tis not true!" Isaac denied hotly. "I am not a baby."
"In that case we won't be having anymore of those fits of temper then will we?" Stiles asked firmly.
"No Stiles," Isaac agreed.
"Now apologize to Derek for being so churlish," Stiles instructed.
"I'm sorry, Derek," Isaac said whispered.
"Tis alright Isaac," Derek murmured. "I accept your apology."
"But why can't I have a kitten, Stiles?" Isaac whined.
"Because," Stiles began then stopped. He had said no a dozen times over but never fully explained the reason why because he had never been able to find the words. He suspected that Derek would suffer from no such difficulty. "Derek explain it to him," he prompted.
Derek was at a momentary loss and but then rallied. "Do you shift when the moon is full?" He asked Isaac gently. At Isaacs nod he continued, "Then you know that when the wolf is in the forefront things are different. Your instincts are more basic, more primal. The urge to run, to chase, to pounce, to play and find prey are overwhelming and almost undeniable. You might see your kitten as a pet but the other Were at Brackenwood would see him as prey."
"I suppose a kitten would not be very happy being chased about by my kin," Isaac mused.
"No, I don't imagine it would be." Derek agreed.
"Were don't have pets?" Isaac asked.
"Not in our pack," Derek replied. "There was an attempt once. The son of the Alpha insisted on having a rabbit of all things."
"What happened?" Isaac asked curiously.
"The Alpha got him a rabbit," Derek chuckled. "And then forbade any in the pack from hunting it. All was fine until the full moon and then well…the Alpha's son insisted on bringing his rabbit to the run and the Alpha spent the entire night chasing pack away from the rabbit's cage. Let me tell you, when the sun rose the next morning there was one angry, exhausted Alpha and forty plus very unhappy Were. The rabbit had to go."
"Was his son upset?"
"Aye," Derek said. "For a little while, until he thought about it and then he understood why it for the best."
"Why was it best?" Isaac asked.
"It was best because even though Hoppers made me very happy he made the rest of the pack very upset and the good of the pack must always come first. Plus, I don't think Hoppers was very happy to be taken from the forest. It was best for Hoppers and for the pack that he go back to where he belonged."
"I wouldn't want to my pack or my pet to be sad," Isaac said thoughtfully.
"No, I don't imagine you would."
"I shan't be getting a kitten after all," Isaac announced wistfully.
"That's a very grown up decision to make," Derek said, biting back a smile. "I wish I'd been as wise as you are when I was your age."
Isaac preened and settled back against Jackson.
"Well done," Stiles murmured.
"Thank you," Derek replied.
"Hoppers?" Stiles asked with a grin.
"Stifle yourself, Stiles."