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Here’s the last chapter of the Stiles fic. :) Although I considered it to be neverending, everyone’s now complaining that it’s too short, so that just goes to show what I know.

In this chapter, lots of people discover things about Stiles, and this irritates him and traumatizes them. He did warn them not to ask him questions.

Teen Wolf continues not to belong to me. I continue to be sad about this.

Oh, and I finally broke down and got a tumblr. Yeah, I question my life choices also. :)


Play It Again – Chapter 3


The day after the witch reveal, Allison makes a point of avoiding Stiles at school. He can’t say he’s surprised, but it is hard on Scott—poor guy’s been bouncing between them like a really confused pinball all day. Take now, for example—he was outside eating lunch with Allison, last Stiles knew, but here he is, charging into the cafeteria like he can’t help himself.

“Stiles!”

“Yes, Scott?”

“Allison’s—Allison’s grandfather is named Gerard!”

“That he is. Or was, I guess.”

“Oh, crap. So he actually is—he’s that Gerard?”

“Okay, here’s the thing: I don’t know for sure. I mean, he is that Gerard, but their family is where the timeline gets really different. For starters, and I guess Allison didn’t mention this, Gerard has been dead for years in this timeline. I don’t know if he was evil or not. Of course, Argents tended to be extremely hard to kill in my timeline, so…I’m a little suspicious of how dead he really is.”

Scott shakes his head incredulously. “Dude, your life.”

“Dude. I know.”

“Stiles,” Lydia Martin says out of nowhere, striding purposefully up to their table like this is a thing that happens normally. “I have questions for you.”

And a knife to put to his throat if he doesn’t answer them, from the sound of it. Ah, nostalgia. “…You do?”

“Yes. I do. Allison asked me for an interesting favor this morning.”

“Oh,” Stiles breathes, sinking low in his crappy lunchroom chair.

“I believe you said—promised, in fact—that you wouldn’t mention my translating abilities to anyone.”

“Well, yeah, but…this was important?”

“It was a bestiary, Stiles. How important could it be?”

Scott is making a very familiar appalled/amused face, and Stiles knows what’s coming before he whispers, “Doesn’t she mean—”

“No, she does not, oh my God, Scott, seriously? A bestiary is a book of mythical creatures. Shut up or I swear I will end you.”

Scott subsides, offended. Lydia raises a perfect but tragically unimpressed eyebrow.

“It actually is important,” Stiles tells her apologetically.

She folds her arms. “Explain.”

“…Do you really want to have this talk here?”

“Fine.” She fishes around in her bag and pulls out a notepad, slapping it down in front of Stiles with a pen. “Write down your address. I’ll be there at four o’clock on Saturday. And I expect a truly amazing explanation, Stiles, and quite possibly another dress as well.”

Stiles hadn’t realized, before, how much his Lydia had been held back by her own…what, fear, denial, reluctance to actually figure out what was going on? Her trauma.

This Lydia isn’t traumatized or conflicted at all, and Lydia with clear purpose is a force of nature. Stiles knew that, but he hadn’t thought it through in this context. Werewolves and witches, run for your lives.

In view of that, he obediently writes down his address. Lydia nods in satisfaction and marches back to her own table. Scott is staring at Stiles like he’s an alien creature that just fell from the sky.

“I can’t believe Lydia actually talks to you now,” he says, incredulous to a pretty unflattering degree.

“It’s because I have something she wants for the first time ever,” Stiles explains. “And also because I’ve given up on ever having a chance with her. I’ve embraced platonic devotion and romantic indifference.”

“So, what, indifferent is a good look on you?”

“Indifferent is a good look on everyone, Scott, and desperation is the most unattractive thing in the world. It’s one of the horrible catch-22s of romance.”

“I thought you had a ten-year plan to make Lydia fall in love with you,” Scott says, eyeing him in worry.

“Oh, your Stiles, too? Figures. And yeah, I did, but…I guess I’m learning to give up on things. That’s a skill I’ve never had before, so I’m very proud.” He’s horrified, actually, but no need to get into that; it’s not like Scott can tell when he’s lying anymore. “All it takes is dying, and you too can learn to let go!”

Scott wavers between shock and exasperation for a while before settling on exasperation, and that right there, that is why he and Stiles are friends. “You’re seriously telling Lydia about the werewolf stuff?”

“I kind of have to? She’s a woman on a mission, Scott. If I don’t tell her, she’ll just figure it out on her own and then hate me for not telling her.” They’re so right about hindsight. “Hey, you and Allison should come.”

“…Why?”

“You can ask questions, too. Yeah, I know you have questions. I worry I’m being all accidentally cryptic on you, like I’m turning into Deaton, Jr. or something. That would suck.”

“Why would Allison have questions?”

“Allison found out I can do magic and now she’s half-convinced I’m going to murder everyone in town.”

What?

“She was raised by bigoted douchebags, Scott. I told you.”

“But she knows you.”

“Bigotry doesn’t make sense, that’s kind of a defining trait it has. Anyway, I think she’s trying to fight it? Vaguely? Or possibly she’s trying to fight against the impulse to fight it; I don’t pretend to understand her. You should bring her over, though. Um, shake her down for weapons first. Check her shoes. I’m serious—she wears boots for a reason. And if you could give her a pep talk on the theme of can’t we all just get along, that would be awesome.”

Scott sighs and hides his face in his hands. “Great,” he says. “This is just great.”

So that’s one problem dealt with, or at least successfully foisted onto Scott. Now all Stiles has to worry about are the ominous texts he’s suddenly getting from Derek. Because ominous texts from Derek, that never ends in disaster.

* * *

“Did you just say cut in half?” Stiles demands incredulously.

A normal person, Derek thinks, would probably be scared about now. Stiles mostly sounds outraged. Derek needs to stop comparing Stiles to theoretical normal people, because that is a huge waste of time. “Right.”

“Of course. We’ve got hunters. Because that’s what we needed.” Stiles starts pacing around the kitchen and clutching at his hair. “On the other hand, the omegas are nuts, so…do we care that they’re cutting them in half? Do we care? Does your mom care?” He pauses and stares at Derek, like Derek has the answers.

Derek really wishes the rest of the family wasn’t out doing cleanup right now, because he hates it when people look at him like that. It’s generally his cue to foist them off onto Laura or someone else in charge. This time, though, he’s stuck. “Normal hunters wouldn’t have left the body like that,” he points out. “That was a message.”

“Wonderful,” Stiles groans, resuming his pacing. “A message to whoever’s controlling the omegas? Because that would be creepy and wrong, but not necessarily our problem. Or a message to you? Because that would be a huge, huge problem, and, crap, this means I need to talk to Chris again.”

“Chris…?”

“Argent.”

Derek rubs his forehead, hoping to ward off the confusion-based headache he can feel building. “I thought you said you said you don’t trust the Argents.”

“I don’t. Chris is the best of a bad lot, though, and I’ve been trying to get him to keep a leash on his more crazed relatives.”

Derek wonders how that conversation went. Or maybe he doesn’t want to know. No, he definitely doesn’t want to know. “I should come with you when you talk to him. Pack representative.”

“Nah, it’s cool. It’s not worth—I’ll be happier if he never figures out who you guys are. I’ll handle it.”

“Okay,” Derek agrees reluctantly. He doesn’t like the idea of Stiles on his own with hunters, but he has survived talking to Argent so far. And he’s definitely a better diplomat than Derek. Everyone is.

Stiles pauses, though, and turns very slowly to face him. “You’re…a really trusting guy, aren’t you?”

Derek shrugs. He’s known Stiles for months, and Stiles hasn’t done anything untrustworthy. Why not trust him?

“Sure. Why wouldn’t you be?” Stiles goes on in a tone of awful realization. “Your family is awesome; they’ve never lied to you. Your friends or acquaintances or whatever are normal. Nothing bad ever happens to you.”

“I wouldn’t say nothing bad—”

“No, shut up, trust me. Nothing seriously bad has ever happened to you.”

Derek reflects on the way Stiles smells whenever he thinks about his old pack. It’s true that Derek has nothing that compares. He tips his head to the side, allowing the point.

“But Derek…at the risk of sounding like a total mom, that doesn’t mean nothing bad’s ever going to happen. So maybe you should—oh God, I can’t even believe I’m saying this to you—maybe you should be more, um. Careful? You hardly know me, and let’s face it, I am seriously shady. You shouldn’t just be going along with whatever I tell you.”

Derek raises an eyebrow. “You’re saying you’re not trustworthy?”

“I’m saying you don’t know me well enough to know whether I’m trustworthy or not. I could be a serial killer.”

“You’re young for it.”

“Not unheard of! I have actually met a serial killer my age. Take that, statistics.”

Okay, that’s…incredibly disturbing and something to be pursued at a later date. “You never smell like blood. Or killing rage. Or lust at weird times.”

“I could be keeping it all under wraps because I’m setting you up. I could be running a long con on you personally, Derek Hale.”

“Are you?”

“What? No!”

“There you go.”

No, there I do not go! You can’t just take my word for it, oh my God, what is wrong with you? You trust way too easily, and someday, somebody is gonna…holy crap, this is opposites world. Next Scott’s going to be telling me to stop mooning about my love life. My head hurts.”

“You have a love life?”

“Okay, seriously not the point.”

“I’ll take that as a no.”

“Haha, you’re hilarious. Fine. Fall for the first pretty face you see, find out too late that she’s a psycho hunter, die a horrible death. See if I care.”

Derek has a sudden, terrible suspicion that he knows what happened to Stiles’s pack. “Stiles…”

“What? Oh my god, you’re giving me a pity face, I didn’t even know your face could do that, what does it mean?”

“It just means…you do know you can trust us, don’t you? I don’t know what happened to you before, but. You can trust us.”

“You’re killing me with this, dude.”

“I’m serious!”

“I know you’re serious, that’s why this is so—that lecture was actually to your address, okay? I am capable of trust, I do trust you guys, this is not about me. This is about you, and the fact that you probably trust the ice cream man just because he gives you ice cream. All I’m saying is, sometimes the ice cream man is a child molester.”

This is getting really scary. “…Were you molested?

Stiles gives a stifled scream of frustration and throws up his hands. “Every time I warn you about something, I am not secretly talking about my own tragic past! Gah! This explains so much about you!”

“What? No, it doesn’t.”

“It totally does! Ugh, I feel old.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Yeah, well, clearly you never do.”

Derek’s had about all of this conversation he can handle, and Stiles has, too—he smells miserable. Derek hates that and it needs to stop. “Whatever. When are you talking to the Argents?”

Stiles sighs, but the misery tamps down a little. Derek feels an irrational sense of pride. “This weekend, I guess. Oh, also this weekend, I promised I’d explain my recent weird behavior to a friend. Is it okay if I tell her about werewolves?”

Derek shrugs. “I don’t see why not.”

Stiles sighs and rubs his eyes. “Of course you don’t. How about I call and double-check that with Talia, who actually has a sense of self-preservation?”

“Whatever makes you happy.” Stiles can say what he wants about not having trust issues, but the evidence is damning.

“If anything awful happens, you’ll let me know, right? Or someone will? Philip, Laura?”

“You talk to Philip?” Derek demands. It takes him an embarrassingly long time to identify what he’s feeling as jealousy.

Thank God Laura is out clearing away dead omegas.

“Sure,” Stiles says, apparently pleased and surprised, for some mysterious reason. “Your brother makes the best wards ever, just saying. He’s my magic bro.” Derek’s face is obviously too easy to read, because after a second Stiles says, “Not that you aren’t my bro! You and Laura, you guys are my, I don’t know, life-threatening situations bros. It’s not like I’m dumping you for Philip or anything.”

“I didn’t think you were dumping us for Philip, Stiles,” Derek lies, rolling his eyes.

“Uh huh.” Stiles smirks at him.

Derek really doesn’t want to send Stiles to talk to hunters on his own. But it’s not his call.

* * *

The explanations meeting starts out just as awkward as Stiles would’ve expected if he’d let himself think about it, which he didn’t, because he knew he’d never go through with it if he did.

Scott walks into Stiles’s room towing Allison behind him. He waves at Stiles and sprawls comfortably across the bed. Allison perches nervously beside him, shooting suspicious glares around the room. Checking for bat wings and cat entrails, probably. Lydia follows them in, sits at the desk, and jumps on Stiles’s computer, shamelessly poking around. It’s enough to make a guy sickeningly nervous.

“Okay,” Stiles says, clapping his hands together and trying not to pace nervously or think about what Lydia could be dredging up from the depths of his hard drive. “I guess…well, you could just start asking me questions. What do you guys want to know?”

“I want to know what caused your fondness for angry housewife country,” Lydia announces, now scrolling through his current playlist.

“Not relevant,” Stiles declares. “And I do not listen to angry housewife country.”

“No?” She blinks at him. “Goodbye Earl.”

“Classic revenge song. Also, hilarious.”

“Mhmm. Okay, explain this one: Did I Shave My Legs For This?

Allison giggles; Allison is a traitor. But at least it’s better than the death glares. Is that what Lydia’s after with this? “It’s a funny song,” Stiles insists.

“Stiles, it’s a sad song. It’s a sad, horrible song about a sad, empty relationship.”

Taken metaphorically, it’s weirdly relevant to my life is not an argument that’s going to take him anywhere he wants to go. “Whatever. Two doesn’t make a pattern.”

Independence Day by Martina McBride.”

“Also classic revenge!”

“Really? Or is it more, hm, classic murder-suicide for your classic angry housewife?”

“I notice you know what all these songs are about. What does that say about you, huh?”

“My mother had an angry housewife phase,” Lydia says dismissively. “And that’s part of what makes this so strange: I recognize all of these because you don’t even have any new angry housewife country. It’s like you’re an angry housewife from the ‘90s.”

Stiles’s mother used to play those songs for her friends when they had bad breakups. The worse the breakup, the more ridiculous and over the top the angry country song. They would sit together on the couch in the living room drinking and singing along and cracking up, sometimes through tears. It’s a good memory, and it was a relief to find that other!Stiles had all those songs, too. Mom was a good friend.

And Stiles has no plans to explain any of that to anyone, even Lydia. “I listen to other stuff!”

“But the rest of it is so predictable. The angry housewife country is interesting.”

“Can we talk about werewolves now?” Scott begs.

Please God,” Stiles agrees.

“Werewolves,” Lydia says, successfully distracted from Stiles’s computer, bless Scott’s little heart. “You haven’t given me anything to translate about werewolves.”

“That’s because I already know about werewolves.” And when he doesn’t, he can just check in with the werewolves down the road. So convenient. “It’s everything else I need help with.”

“Yes, about that,” Lydia says. “Why?

Stiles looks to Allison for help. Allison raises an eyebrow expressive of both this was your idea and also I refuse to help you because you’re secretly a murderous witch.

Stiles should probably be grateful she didn’t express any of that by means of an arrow to his face. He sighs, resigned. “For starters, I asked you to translate the stuff on how to kill pixies because I actually…need to figure out how to kill some pixies.”

“Oh my God,” Scott moans. “There are pixies now? What the hell, dude. Are they evil?”

“Mostly just annoying,” Allison says distantly.

“Oh, sure,” Stiles agrees. “I find small, flying, toxic creatures to be annoying also.”

“They hardly ever kill anyone,” Allison tells him, unimpressed.

“Rattlesnakes hardly ever kill anyone, and yet I wouldn’t be happy if they started flying around!”

“Is this some kind of joke?” Lydia demands with cold ferocity.

“Go on, Stiles,” Allison says, smiling dangerously. “Prove it to her.”

“Scott told you that story, huh?” Stiles casts Scott a betrayed look, but Scott just shrugs, like, my hot girlfriend asked a question, what would you have me do? The more things change… “Okay. Demonstration time, then.”

Except he doesn’t want to set anything on fire inside the house, and that’s the flashiest trick he knows. He’s great at defense, but that’s…not exciting to look at. There’s nothing thrilling about, ‘Now you can’t go over there! Aha!’ Not that it needs to be exciting, it’s just. God, apparently he still has some lingering, vestigial need to impress Lydia. This is so sad.

He makes it as exciting as he can, anyway. He kills the lights (not hard—even lizard Jackson could swing that) and activates his panic wards—the ones that nobody can cross. They glow; it’s suitably dramatic. Stiles is pleased. “Okay, Lydia. Try to cross the line.”

“What the hell is going on?!”

“I’ll explain in a second, just, try to cross the line.”

Try?” She jumps out of the chair and marches toward the wards nearest the door, hitting them pretty hard before Stiles has a chance to tell her to slow down. “What is this?” she demands, voice climbing in volume and pitch. “Are we trapped in here?”

Lydia’s apparently a little claustrophobic. Good to know. Stiles hastily drops the wards before he can freak her out any more.

And again with the warnings he should’ve given, because she stumbles forward, barely catching herself on the doorframe. She must’ve still been pushing. Of course she was. The only way this could’ve gone better is if Stiles had actually managed to knock her out against the wall in front of Allison. Jesus.

He pulls the lights back up and starts babbling hasty damage control. “Sorry! I’m sorry, I should’ve warned you I was dropping those, I just, you sounded kind of panicked? I didn’t want you to panic; I didn’t actually mean to trap you in here, it’s just, I just. That’s, I can do stuff like that. So it’s my responsibility to kill things like pixies. So, there you go. Explanation.”

Lydia stares at him like she’s never seen him before. “I was not panicking,” she says after an uncomfortable few seconds.

She’s lying, but Stiles respects the effort. “Oh. Well, I thought you were, so that’s why I did that.”

“You can ‘do stuff like that’?” Lydia repeats, eyeing him warily. “Stuff like what, exactly?”

“Magic,” Allison says in an extremely unfriendly tone, excuse her. “Stiles could probably burn the whole house down with a thought.”

“Whoa, hey,” Stiles says, throwing his hands up defensively. “I don’t know what kind of witchy propaganda you’ve been buying into, but that’s just, no. I definitely couldn’t. Magic takes energy, and energy has to come from somewhere. By which I mean, it comes from me. Even setting Scott’s lacrosse stick on fire wore me out—I had to eat all kinds of high-calorie food afterward and then I slept for ten hours that night. I could maybe, at a stretch, burn a house down, but then my organs would fail and I’d die. It’d be way easier to do it the classic matches and gasoline way. Just like any other human could. If they were inclined to. Which most people aren’t.”

Allison scowls, but doesn’t counter. Argument delayed, but not won. Which is too bad, because Stiles is already very tired of this argument. Also they’re worrying Scott. What a mess.

Lydia, though, is back at Stiles’s desk, gazing into the middle distance with her eyes narrowed, like she’s running complex mental calculations. Then she blinks and gives Stiles her equation: solved! face. “Could I learn?” she asks.

God bless Lydia Martin.

“Lydia, no,” Allison gasps in horror.

“Actually, yes,” Stiles corrects, rolling his eyes. “But before you go down that road, you should be aware that Allison is not the only person in the world who doesn’t approve of magic. Or werewolves. Or any number of other creatures of the night. There are some paramilitary groups dedicated to wiping them out, in fact. And while they’re supposed to follow a moral code—”

Allison flinches and looks away. Is that a win? It doesn’t feel like a win.

“—a lot of them don’t bother, in practice. They’re more like, ‘Yikes, it’s scary, kill it.’”

“That’s not true,” Allison insists.

“Really? Why do you think I got into magic in the first place, huh? It was after a few too many, ‘Yikes, he associates with scary things, kill him,’ experiences, okay?”

“You could’ve just stopped associating with them.”

That’s what you took away from that?”

“They’re dangerous, Stiles!”

You’re dangerous, Allison! Your dad is dangerous, my dad is dangerous, even Scott, under the right circumstances, can be dangerous. And Lydia knows how to make a self-igniting Molotov cocktail. Just off the top of her head.”

“How do you know that?” Lydia hisses.

“What do you mean, even Scott?” Scott demands.

And Allison…Allison laughs for a second before clapping a hand over her mouth and looking horrified at herself.

That is a definite win.

“To recap,” Stiles says, not making anything of Allison laughing for fear she’ll never do it again, “I’m magic, everyone here is scary, and we need to figure out how to get rid of some pixies. Pixies don’t usually bother normal humans because they only feed off of magical instability, but this whole area is unstable right now, so they could turn up anywhere and attack people out of fear. And, let’s see, other creepy stuff…”

“I looked into my grandfather’s death, like you asked,” Allison cuts in. “My dad won’t talk about it. Like, not at all. And Kate…she’s so strange on the whole subject of Gerard, I’m afraid to even mention it to her. The newspapers are really…vague. I would even say, well. Suspiciously vague.”

“Vague like it was a supernatural cover-up, or vague like he isn’t actually dead?” Stiles asks, feeling exhausted.

“I can’t tell.” Allison shrugs. “I’ll try my dad again. But he really…he’s not even subtle about changing the subject.”

“Never mind,” Stiles sighs. “I’ll try your dad. I need to talk to him anyway, and besides, you he wants to protect, but me? He doesn’t care about me.”

“…Right. I’ve been meaning to ask, Stiles—how exactly do you know my dad?”

“From another life,” Stiles tells her earnestly. She rolls her eyes and drops it. And that is why being a sarcastic asshole is such a blessing: you don’t even have to lie, and they still won’t believe you.

“Is that literal?” Lydia asks suspiciously.

They won’t believe you unless they’re Lydia Martin, that is, and she will only believe you at the most inconvenient moments possible. “Why would I admit it if it were literal?”

Lydia scowls at him, but lets it go. For the moment.

“Last big problem for today is the omegas, I guess,” Stiles goes on, relieved.

“Omegas?” Lydia demands.

“Omega werewolves,” Allison explains. “Lone wolves. They’re usually dangerous, and these are actually feral. They’re killing anyone they come into contact with.”

“Not exactly feral,” Stiles corrects. “They’re being mind-controlled. It’s pretty fricking creepy.”

“Who’s controlling them?” Allison asks, alarmed.

“It’s a mystery,” Stiles sighs. “The bad kind of mystery, you know, where if we don’t figure it out fast enough, lots of people die.” He considers telling them about the chopped up omega in the woods, then decides he’s already hit Scott and Lydia with enough freaky shit for one day. He’ll save that for Chris.

“How can we help?” Scott asks, because Scott is awesome.

“Lydia can translate the rest of the bestiary for us—if that’s okay with you, Lydia?”

Lydia shrugs like it doesn’t matter one way or another. It’s as close to enthusiastic agreement as she gets.

“Scott, you have your human-related assignment.”

“That’s gonna help?” Scott asks dubiously.

“It’s going to keep bad things from happening in the future. It’s preventative maintenance, and someone has to do it. Oh, and speaking of that, you’re keeping an eye on Matt, right?”

“I guess?”

“Do not guess. Potential serial killing psycho.”

Fine,” Scott sighs, put-upon. He’s getting a little jaded, is Scott. Stiles may need to tell him about the Allison element in that story. (Actually, this Allison would shoot Matt in the dick the instant he started weirding her out, but luckily that won’t occur to Scott.)

“How do you know this?” Lydia mutters unhappily, but since she’s muttering it at Stiles’s computer, he counts the question as rhetorical and ignores it.

“Allison, I get that you guys are retired, so I don’t expect anything from you except, I don’t know, a heads up if something weird jumps out at you. Or if you remember anything about people mind-controlling werewolves. We cool?”

Allison smiles faintly. “For a given value of cool,” she says. Stiles smiles back at her. He’s totally winning.

“Other than watch out for pixies, is there anything we can do to, oh, not die?” Scott asks.

“Good point,” Stiles allows. “Stay out of the woods, mostly. At least until we get this crap figured out.”

“Dude, I am not going in those woods,” Scott says indignantly. “There are werewolves in there.” He pauses to consider. “Also meth labs.”

“The meth labs never stopped you before,” Stiles points out.

“Yeah, but once you have werewolves and meth labs? That crosses the line.”

That is actually a fair argument.

“So are we done for today?” Allison asks, and look at her, that was borderline polite.

“Yeah, sure. I mean, unless you guys have more questions.”

They don’t seem to. On the other hand, apart from Allison, they don’t seem to want to leave his room either. Maybe they’ve decided it’s the safest place to be. He pretty much has to herd them downstairs, at which point Allison manages to drag Scott out the door and into her car.

Lydia, though, lingers on the porch until Scott and Allison drive off, then she spins to face Stiles. “Danny’s wildest conspiracy theories about you aren’t wild enough,” she says.

Stiles blinks. “Danny has conspiracy theories about me?”

“So many conspiracy theories. He has charts. And some of his theories are surprisingly close to the truth, but as I say, not wild enough.”

“He told you about this?”

“Of course not. I borrowed his computer for a project.”

And trolled through it looking for ammunition. At least Stiles isn’t the only one she does that to. “What, um. What do you think he’ll do if he figures it out?” Because this is Danny; he will figure it out. Danny is a minor deity of information collection.

“Do?” Lydia’s eyebrows arch in surprise. “Nothing.”

“Won’t he tell Jackson?”

“Of course not. He just likes knowing things for the sake of knowing them. And he wouldn’t tell Jackson anyway, for the same reason I’m not going to. Right now Jackson just thinks you’ve finally lost your mind, and that’s fine.”

Finally. Stiles likes that finally.

“But if he knew about this supernatural stuff, he’d want to become some kind of supernatural creature himself, and I can’t imagine how badly that would turn out.”

“I can,” Stiles sighs.

“You can,” Lydia says quietly. “But you don’t need to, do you?”

Stiles stares.

“I was right,” she hisses triumphantly, grinning. This may be the first time Stiles has ever seen her honestly grin. It is truly scary. “Multiple realities! Now all I have to do is prove it. This is it; this is what’s going to make me famous. Thank you, Stiles.”

And she strides purposefully off, leaving Stiles standing on the porch with his mouth hanging open.

* * *

“You gave me fifty-to-one odds,” Derek hears Peter insist as he walks past the door to the living room. He pauses and looks in, because Peter is a terrible winner and it’s always fun to watch.

“Don’t start. I would never give fifty-to-one odds on anything to do with Stiles,” Mom counters, folding her arms stubbornly.

“What was the bet?” Derek asks, and they both turn and smile at him in a way that means this is pack leader business and he should stay out of it. And normally he’d be fine with that, but…Stiles.

“No, really,” Laura says, leaning in over Derek’s shoulder. “What was it? Is there a Stiles story involved? We deserve a Stiles story! We’re his favorites.”

“I think we all know that Derek is his favorite,” Peter says, rolling his eyes. Derek doesn’t want to know what he’s implying with that. And he also wishes Laura would stop snickering.

“We promised not to mention it,” Mom says, shrugging unapologetically. “I think he doesn’t want you know because you’re his favorites. Maybe he’s embarrassed.”

Stiles?” Stiles and embarrassment don’t seem like concepts that should coexist.

“He’s only seventeen, Derek.” Mom gives him a severe look that he doesn’t deserve at all because he has done nothing. “Of course he still gets embarrassed.”

Not that Derek’s noticed. Then again, Stiles’s scent and heart rate and breathing are such an insane, erratic mess, it’s possible that Stiles is always embarrassed and Derek just doesn’t recognize it when he sees it. “He’s going to talk to the Argents about the omega who was cut in half, by the way. He said he was going to call you about it, and about some friend of his?”

“He did call,” Mom says, frowning unhappily. “I don’t like him talking to the Argents on his own.”

Derek nods, feeling vindicated. So he should’ve argued about that. Of course, Stiles would probably have decided that meant Derek didn’t trust him, or whatever asinine thing. Which reminds him. “He gave me a lecture on trusting people too much and how that leads to hunters burning houses down. Is that…do you think that’s what happened to his old pack?”

Mom and Peter exchange a sad, almost worried look that Derek doesn’t understand. (Laura doesn’t seem to understand it either, though, so that’s something.) “It’s possible,” Mom says.

“But who was his pack?” Laura bursts out before Derek can. “Where were they from? Where did they live? There are no other packs around and he’s lived here all his life!”

“And you know this…how, exactly?” Peter asks, amused.

“Maybe I asked,” Laura huffs, tossing her hair over her shoulder the way she did when she was a teenager. It’s hilarious.

“Mm. Or maybe you’re abusing your work privileges. Again.”

“Maybe you can’t prove it either way.”

“Stop, for the love of God,” Mom groans. “And I can’t answer those questions; you know that. He asked us not to tell you, which means if you want to know, you’ll have to ask him yourselves. And you’ll have to be patient. He’s been through too much, and while I don’t agree with his reasons for not wanting to tell you, I do understand them. Give him time to decide he’s sure of you.”

“He said he trusts us,” Derek insists.

“He trusts you with his life. It doesn’t mean he trusts you with his heart. Be patient.” Then she smirks at them because she’s a mean woman who has no mercy. Of all the kids, Derek and Laura are the worst at being patient.

“I think you’ll find there’s plenty to keep you busy in the meantime,” Peter points out after a brief, sullen silence. “Aren’t you supposed to be finding those hunters? Maybe Stiles will tell us those bodies really are a threatening message, and much good it’ll do us if we can’t locate the people who left it.”

“We’re on it,” Laura sighs, grabbing Derek by the sleeve and dragging him off. To hunt the hunters.

It would be interesting—probably nightmare-inducing, but interesting—to know what happened to the hunters who killed Stiles’s pack. Derek would bet they didn’t survive a week.

* * *

“Chris!” Stiles says brightly when the door opens.

“Allison’s out,” Chris growls. Not even pretending to be friendly anymore, huh? Just like old times.

“Yes. I know that.”

“And I think you and I are done talking.”

“Yeah, I wish we were? But we’re really not. Do you know anything about the omega who got cut in half in the woods last week?”

Chris sighs deeply and walks into the house, leaving the door open behind him. It’s as close to an invitation as Stiles is gonna get, so he takes it. By the time he’s closed the door behind him, Chris is in a chair in the living room opening one beer and setting another on the table in front of him. At least he’s not hitting the hard liquor?

“No,” Chris says as Stiles sits on the couch across from him. “I didn’t cut that omega in half.”

“I didn’t think you did!” Stiles says, holding his hands up defensively. “I just wondered if you’d heard who did it. Or even if you know why somebody would do that, because my wolf buddies have no clue. Is this a hunter custom?”

Chris sighs again and slumps in his chair. Stiles doesn’t think he’s ever seen Chris slump. It’s freaking him out a little. “My father,” Chris says, “used to leave werewolves like that. Cut in half, on the pack’s land. As a warning. Correct your behavior or suffer the same.”

“Huh.” So, yeah, that’s exactly what Stiles was afraid of. “Your allegedly dead father.”

“He’s dead, Stiles.”

“…Okay. Allison says witches got him—sorry for stirring up bad memories with my presence, by the way. Promise I’ve never killed anybody who wasn’t actively trying to kill me or my loved ones at the time. Anyway, Allison also says reports of Gerard’s death are seriously incomplete.”

“Allison’s told you a lot.” He sounds extremely unhappy about that. Stiles feels a little guilty about the loose-lips-sink-ships conversation that’s no doubt in Allison’s future.

“I’m pretty persistent,” he admits.

Chris raises an eyebrow and takes a swig of beer. “I’d never have guessed.”

“Speaking of which, what exactly happened with Gerard?” Stiles presses, leaning forward.

Chris slumps more and stares hatefully at Stiles. “Why do you want to know?”

“I don’t know, how about so we don’t all die?

“How—” Chris shakes his head and cuts himself off, straightening up to swap out his already empty first beer for the second one. “He made a mistake. He found evidence of someone casting spells in Beacon Hills—nasty things, ugly, and easy to miss because they could’ve been natural. Infertility, blood clots, cancer, things like that. He thought it was a young woman—he’d traced it back to her bloodline. But it was her mother.”

“But he only figured that out after he killed the daughter. Oh, man.” This is officially the first time Stiles has ever felt even sort of bad for Gerard. But enraged, evil, witchy mothers, ouch. “Did he end up a fine, gooey mist across the landscape?”

“No,” Chris says, scowling. “She wanted to drag it out. At first we didn’t know anything was wrong. Then a few days after the daughter died, he started having trouble walking, then he couldn’t keep food down, then he started losing his vision—rapid deterioration. It took us a week to work out what was wrong, and another to hunt the witch down and kill her. But it was too late by then.”

“Meaning…?”

“His internal organs were shutting down, he’d lost most of his muscle mass, his memory was going, and she’d horribly disfigured his face for some reason—spite, I imagine. We took him to a hospital, and they pronounced him dead.”

“Did you bury him?”

“…No. No, we…well. He had a few hunters who worked directly for him, not family. They were devoted to him, it was almost…cult-like at times. We always assumed they’d taken the body.”

This again. Cult-like. Or Darach-like, maybe? Stiles really hated this the first time, for the record. “Great,” he mutters. “So the best case scenario is that Gerard’s fan club is ripping off his style to, what, warn the local pack to stop killing zombie omegas? By killing a zombie omega? I seriously question the sanity of these people. And you know what else it means, if they’re Gerard fans? It means they definitely hate witches. Oh God, this is gonna turn into a literal witch hunt, isn’t it? With the stakes and the fire and the whole thing. I feel very hunted right now. I hate it when I know they’re out to get me.”

“No one is out to get you, Stiles,” Chris insists, rubbing the bridge of his nose and looking tired.

Stiles tries to remember the last time he actually believed that. He quickly stops trying because it’s way too depressing. “…Right. Sure. Anyway, worst case scenario is that Gerard isn’t actually dead.”

“He’s dead, Stiles.”

“Historically speaking, he’s a hard man to kill.”

Historically speaking? What does that mean?”

“You don’t question me about Allison, but you do about this? Don’t question me about this, dude; I know what I’m talking about. Gerard is a survivor in the creepiest possible sense of the term.” Or, no, maybe Peter wins that particular crown. Meh, Stiles is calling it a tie. “I’m not believing he’s dead this time until I cut him in half and set him on fire myself.”

Chris is giving Stiles a seriously disturbed look now. Awesome. Stiles’s life has attained a low so low that he is actually freaking Chris Argent out. He would like an award of some kind.

“Just kidding,” he says hastily. “I’d believe you if you said you’d done it.”

From the look on Chris’s face, that didn’t address the correct problem. Whatever, Stiles isn’t in the business of making Chris happy. “Anyway. If it’s just imitators, I won’t bug you about it—we’ll handle it on our own. But if it’s Gerard…I’m guessing you’ll want to know.”

“I would want to know if it were Gerard,” Chris agrees slowly. “But Stiles, Gerard is dead.”

“I really, really hope you’re right about that. You wouldn’t believe how sick I am of that guy.”

“He died before you were born,” Chris points out, scowling again.

“Yeah, I know. So! I’m off, to…do stuff. And hopefully you’ll never have to see me again. Sorry about the whole—yeah, leaving now.”

The last thing Stiles sees as he heads out the door is Chris pulling another beer from the fridge. He should probably mention this behavior to Allison. Sometimes dads need to be directed toward better coping mechanisms.


Part 2
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