- Death-Minor Character
- Hate Crimes
- Fix It
The tour around the boundary lines didn’t take all that long. It would have been over quicker, but Calvin pulled a Swiss Army knife out of his pocket and made various symbols on trees and fence posts as they went.
“I really need a permanent marker to do a proper job,” Calvin commented idly as he scratched away at the tree closest to the driveway. “And maybe some crayons? Those really oily ones. But this should be enough for now. I’ve left a path to the front door, since you never know when someone’s going to want to sell you life insurance or chocolate, and people just get upset if they can’t walk where they think they’re allowed to.”
“That sounds reasonable. What exactly are you doing?” Stiles asked finally, unable to stand by watching any more.
Calvin turned to look at him, eyebrows raised in surprise. “I’m making a barrier that nothing but sun, air, and water, can get through,” he announced as if it was obvious. “I’ll need to- here, give me your hand.” He carefully placed Hobbes on on the ground and pulled a ballpoint pen out of his pocket. Then he took Stiles’ outstretched hand and with a few deft movements drew a five pointed star, one of those two second things Stiles learned how to do when he was seven that don’t require you to lift the pen. “There, now you can pass through. I better go and draw this on Noah, too.” With that, Calvin picked up Hobbes and made his way back inside.
Stiles looked from the star drawn on the back of his hand to what seemed to be random scratches on a nearby tree and sighed. He’d gotten his hopes up when Calvin had mentioned protection, but if this was the level he was operating at then it was probably a good idea to start looking into other options.
A muffled ‘oof’ quickly followed by a thud from the back part of the property caught his attention. Stiles went over and peeked over the fence, only to see Derek lying flat on the ground, glaring at the sky like it owed him answers.
“Derek?” Stiles said, wondering what the hell his friendly neighbourhood Alpha was doing. “Should you really be lying down right there? Mrs Dante isn’t going to be all that happy that you’ve decided to take up napping in her garden.” He pursed his lips for a moment as he thought about the elderly lady who’d lived over the fence to him most of his life. “Well, not unless you take off a lot more of your clothes first,” he amended. “Mrs Dante might be a stickler for propriety, but she’s not stupid and Mr Dante’s been gone for a while now.”
“What the hell was that?” Derek asked angrily, surging to his feet in once graceful move that Stiles couldn’t help but envy.
“What the hell was what?”
“That!” Derek said, shoving an open palm ahead of him like he was offering Stiles a strangely aggressive high-five. Except that his flat palm impacted with the empty air in front of him, just above the fence line. It sounded like a slap.
“Holy shit,” Stiles whispered in awe, “it actually worked? Oh my god, it actually worked!” He tentatively reached a hand out and waved it across the fence. He poked Derek’s nose before hurriedly withdrawing his hand to safety.
“Stiles!” Derek said impatiently. “Stop that! What is this? Some kind of Mountain Ash barrier? Why can’t I smell anything? I can’t even smell you. Mountain Ash shouldn’t be able to do that.”
“Oh right,” Stiles said. “Well, it’s not Mountain Ash. It’s our new super cool defences.”
“Whatever made them is strong,” Derek said, sounding grudging as hell as he poked at the invisible barrier with his finger. “They weren’t here yesterday. Where did they come from?”
“This dude turned up on the doorstep this morning,” Stiles said. “He scratched some weird symbols on the bark and hey presto, barrier!”
Derek’s frown grew darker. “A stranger showed up and just, what, started scratching symbols onto your trees?”
“No!” Stiles denied. “I mean, kind of? But no, not really. His name is Calvin, he arrived looking for my Mom. Well, not my Mom so much as his friend from when he was a kid, but it turned out that his friend was my Mom. And he said some stuff that made me wonder if he was a werewolf, so I asked him, you know? I thought it would be pretty safe, cause if you ask someone who doesn’t know about werewolves if they’re a werewolf then they just think you’re crazy. But Calvin said that he wasn’t a werewolf, but that explained the smell, and then he wanted to know about werewolves, so I guess I kinda spilled the beans a little bit.”
Derek snarled angrily.
“Not about you, dude! Not about anyone in particular! Just, you know, that there were werewolves and hunters, and things had been a bit crappy. I talked more about the evil Hunters, to be honest. He was pretty pissed off when he heard about what happened with Gerard. I think that that’s what made him volunteer to set up protections,” Stiles waved a hand to indicated his backyard, still stoked that it was now an impenetrable fortress that couldn’t be invaded by every wack job with a grudge.
Derek’s frown subsided slightly. “It was still a reckless and irresponsible thing to do. What if he’s lying about knowing your Mom?”
It was Stiles’ turn to frown. “He has photos of her when she was a kid, dude. Playing with someone who looks just like him. And anyway, it’s kind of hard to imagine him being an evil mastermind. He’s just too…” he pondered the right word. “Simple. In a really complicated kind of way.”
Derek just gave him the stare of judgement.
“You can see for yourself, if you like,” Stiles said, throwing his hands in the air. “Just don’t be surprised if he rumbles you as a werewolf as soon as he sees you, is all. Maybe come and knock on the door like a normal person. I’ll get him to give you a pass into the house.” With that he swivelled on his heel and marched over to let himself in the back door. He snuck a glance behind him and was rewarded by Derek’s look of confusion as he mouthed ‘a pass’.
Noah must have finished putting fresh sheets on the spare bed, because he and Calvin were both in the kitchen when Stiles went inside.
“That barrier is awesome, dude!” Stiles said enthusiastically. “But hey, there’s this guy who came over to talk to us, would you be able to make it so that he can come in too?”
“Sure,” Calvin said agreeably.
Even Derek’s knock sounded aggravated. “That’ll be him now,” Stiles said. He opened the front door and beamed at the grumpy werewolf standing on the welcome mat like an advert for leather and back denim. “Hi Derek! How unexpected to see you here today!”
“Cut the crap,” Derek growled.
Calvin came up beside Stiles and looked Derek over with interest. “Is this one of the werewolves? Wow, he’s really pretty. I guess I expected him to have huge teeth, or to have more hair.”
“This is Derek,” Stiles said grandly. “He’s a friendly, so it would be good if he could have access to the house. Derek, this is Calvin. He used to be friends with my Mom when they were kids. Oh, and his friend Hobbes.”
“Wow, if you’re so much stronger than normal werewolves then you’re like a werewolf squared?” Calvin said, eyes going wide. “How does that even happen?”
“Can you let him in before we get engrossed in conversation, please?” Stiles reminded him. “I would prefer not to talk about werewolves right here in the open doorway. Who knows who might be lurking nearby. Although the prime lurker is already here, so…”
Calvin had already pulled out his pen and was drawing on Derek’s hand, ignoring the low rumbling growl that Derek was emitting.
“There, that should do it,” Calvin said, surveying the neat black star with satisfaction. “Although, it will only last until you wash that off. As soon as I get a permanent marker we can get rid of that problem.”
“Just any permanent marker?” Stiles asked. “Cause I have a couple of them in my school bag.”
“I’ll be able to tell when I see them,” Calvin answered.
Digging around in his bag resulted in three permanent markers. Calvin picked the red one and drew over the stars he’d already put on Derek, Noah and Stiles.
Stiles cocked his head to one side. “Won’t you need one too?”
Calvin scoffed. “They’re my barriers,” he replied. “Hobbes and I can get past automatically.”
Derek was staring at his hand like he was expecting it to perform some sort of offensive arcane ritual without his permission at any moment. “That’s it?” he said, sounding as disbelieving as Stiles had been feeling before he witnessed the barrier in action.
“You can go and check if you want,” Stiles suggested. He wasn’t surprised when Derek immediately went to do just that. “Come on out the back, Calvin. This should be good.”
Calvin watched with some bemusement as Derek jumped back and forth over the fence at semi-regular intervals. “You know, if I didn’t already have a pretty good idea that he was a werewolf, just watching him do that would have made me very suspicious. He doesn’t know much about keeping a low profile, does he? His whole image screams ‘I’m a bad boy, watch me in case I commit a crime’. How does he get away with doing werewolf things if everyone’s watching him?”
“I don’t know if he does it on purpose,” Stiles admitted. “At first I thought he definitely did, but after the last month or two I’m really not all that sure. When I first met him he was clean-shaven, you know. He looked a lot younger. A lot more preppy, too, despite the leather. Maybe he’s just trying to be taken more seriously?”
“The place I was staying in didn’t have very good facilities,” Derek said, loping back to where they stood by the back door, watching. “It was easier to take care of the scruff than to try and stay clean shaven.”
“Wow, you have amazing hearing,” Calvin said.
“I know, right?” Stiles said enthusiastically, delighted to talk to someone else who was not a werewolf who found the whole thing as interesting as he did. “I wanted to run some tests on Scott, but he didn’t care so much about the scientific side of things as long as he could play first line in lacrosse.”
“What kind of tests?” Calvin asked as the three of them moved back inside.
“Well, beta werewolves can do this thing called a beta-shift,” Stiles explained. “They grow teeth and hair and claws and get all, grr, arg. Then there’s something called an Alpha shift, but so far I’ve only seen Peter do that, and he was nuttier than squirrel shit so I don’t know if that’s a regular transformation or something mutated by his crazy.”
“There is an Alpha form,” Derek cut in. “It’s a lot more primal than the beta shift, it’s a lot easier to lose control. My anchor isn’t as strong as it could be, so I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to be playing around with it. The extra strength and speed it would give me aren’t worth the chance of falling into a feral state and hurting people.”
“What about full transformation into a wolf?” Calvin asked.
“A myth-” Stiles began, only for Derek to interrupt him.
“It’s very rare,” he said stiffly. “It runs through one or two bloodlines, but very few wolves in a blessed bloodline will ever achieve it. It’s considered a sign of an exceptional wolf, and it’s a feat worthy of great respect.”
Stiles stared at him. “You know someone who could do it,” he said, feeling like he was seeing a side of Derek he hadn’t know existed until now.
“My mother,” Derek said, raising his chin as if daring Stiles to disagree with him. “Laura managed it once, but that was… before. I don’t know if she tried while we were in New York, but she never mentioned doing it again, and it never happened during the full moon.”
“Before what?” Calvin asked.
“That family of Hunters I was telling you about this morning?” Stiles said, moving so that he was standing between Calvin and Derek, in case Derek wanted something to surreptitiously hide behind. “One of them murdered most of Derek’s family about six and a half years ago. Derek was fifteen.”
“She trapped them in our house and then burned it down,” Derek said quietly, but with an edge to his voice that Stiles was coming to suspect was guilt.
Stiles searched about for a way to change the subject without sounding too obvious. “Hey, that reminds me dude,” he blurted out. “The ID that the station has on file for you has you at twenty-three rather than twenty-one. You shouldn’t be giving fake ID to cops. That’s only going to get you in trouble. More trouble. That stuff is real easy to find out, especially since you were using your real name.” He frowned. “I wonder why they haven’t noticed that yet?”
“How is that you saw confidential police files?” Noah said from the door to the lounge where he had appeared when Stiles wasn’t looking. “And for the record, we did notice. It just seemed like we should be focussing more on the murder than a small matter of ID fraud in a town that had access to his birth certificate.”
“I actually didn’t remember that I was keeping the fake one in that wallet until after I handed it over,” Derek admitted. “It was the one that Laura had made for me on the way to New York, since at the time I was too young for her to officially be responsible for. I don’t think it actually fooled anyone, but it gave everyone enough plausible deniability so that their backs were covered if anyone wanted to make a fuss about it.”
“You should probably come down to the station so that we can get that cleared up,” Noah said, resting a hand on Derek’s shoulder. “It’s not a good thing to have hanging over your head.”
“Couldn’t you just do a switcheroo?” Stiles asked, gesturing with his hands to indicate what he meant.
Noah stared at him. “No, Stiles, I can’t just forge official documentation.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “Look, chill, I’m not asking you to murder anyone or let anyone off the hook, it just seems like it would just be easier to handle it quietly, you know?”
“Corruption is a slippery slope,” Derek said, frowning at Stiles. “It’s best to stay off it unless it’s absolutely necessary. I made the mess, it’s only right that I should clean it up.”
“Thank you,” Noah said. “Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that I mind you being here Derek, but was there a reason you arrived so early? I thought you were going to do some poking around in the Preserve and that we wouldn’t see you until closer to dinner time.”
Derek’s posture straightened. “Yes, actually. I’ll be back for that later, I just wanted to stop by and let you know that Peter, Isaac, and I found something a little worrying at the old house this morning.”
“Oh my god, you’re not still hanging around there, are you?” Stiles interrupted. “It’s really not healthy for you to be spending so much time there, man. Did nothing I said to you yesterday sink in at all? Get a proper place in a proper neighbourhood already!”
“We use the old place as the starting point for a patrol, since we’ve got set routines that originate there,” Derek went on as if Stiles hadn’t said anything. “There was a sign painted onto the door that both Peter and I recognised. There’s an Alpha pack in town, and they’re watching us.”
“A what?” Stiles asked blankly.
“Is an Alpha pack just really highly ranked, or is it called that because all of their members are Alpha’s?” Noah asked at the same time.
“The second one,” Derek replied. “They haven’t introduced themselves properly, so as yet we have no idea how many members it has, or who those members are. But you can be sure that they’ve got their eyes on everyone connected to the pack. That will include both of you.”
“We’re connected to the pack?” Stiles said, feeling filled with warm pleasure. “Wait, why are they watching us? Why are they even here?”
“Alpha packs turn up when other packs are making too many waves, when it looks like they’re getting too close to revealing us,” Derek explained. “There have been a lot of weird things coming out of Beacon Hills in the last few months, and I suppose it’s not really surprising that we attracted their attention. As to what they plan to do… without them coming out and telling us we can only guess, but I would think that they’re here to evaluate our threat level, and if they find us too lax, too much of a threat to werewolves as a whole, to eliminate us.”
“So, they’re like the werewolf police,” Stiles said slowly. “But- hang on. If werewolves have their own police, then why do we have Argents running around town talking like it’s their job to get rid of any werewolf that steps out of line?”
Derek shrugged, and looked away. “Hunters don’t have anything to do with the true policing of our society,” he said grimly. “As far as I can tell their standard operating procedure is ‘find werewolf, capture werewolf, torture werewolf, kill werewolf. Pat ourselves on the back for our amazing service to humanity’. It’s a pack Alpha’s job to keep order in the pack, and outside that there’s the Alpha packs.”
“What happens if an Alpha pack gets out of control then?” Stiles asked, interested in learning more if this hidden society. Derek wasn’t usually this forthcoming, and he wanted to milk it while it lasted.
Derek looked a little taken aback. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard about a rogue Alpha pack before.”
“That’s very interesting,” Noah said, not sounding interested at all, “but I’m really more worried about Stiles’ safety right now. How much danger does this Alpha pack pose to him?”
Derek winced. “Quite a lot, I’m afraid. He’s simultaneously one of our greatest assets while at the same time being one of our greatest weaknesses.”
“Excuse you,” Stiles objected. “I am not weak, okay? It’s not my fault that an average human isn’t going to be winning a fist fight with an Alpha werewolf.”
“No one’s not saying that you’re not inventive about your defence,” Derek said, tone placating. “The Alpha wolves aren’t going to have the same kind of weaknesses that you’re used to exploiting though. What’s more, if they’ve been paying attention – like we have to assume they have been – then they’re going to recognise your value to us, for both an object lesson and as a potential hostage.”
“Which you will have confirmed by rushing over here today,” Noah pointed out. “If they’re watching, that is.”
Derek shrugged. “I had to weigh up the risks and benefits. In the end we can only guess as to the Alpha’s level of surveillance, and making sure that you both take precautions is more important than giving the Alpha’s confirmation of something they either already know or strongly suspect.”
“You really need to start using modern technology to communicate, dude,” Stiles said, shaking his head. “Less dashing about the woods and more calling me on the phone, you know?”
“I prefer to break that kind of news in person,” Derek replied stiffly.
“You were worried! The big bad Alpha was worried about poor little Stiles!” Stiles crowed gleefully. “Aw, we care about you too Derek, you big softie.”
Noah was frowning. “I understand why Stiles will need to be careful,” he said. “But me? I haven’t really been involved in any werewolf shenanigans at this point.”
“Not openly,” Derek agreed slowly. “But anyone who spends any time with Stiles will quickly come to realise that the quickest way to motivate him is through you. We could lock Stiles up in an impenetrable fortress, but the first clear threat to your life and he’d be busting out or staging a hunger strike or something. Not that we have an impenetrable fortress, or anything.”
“It wouldn’t work anyway,” Stiles said smugly. “You can’t properly fortify a position from both inside and outside. Not without several billion dollars of investment, anyway.”
“I could make you one,” Calvin offered. “But don’t you need to go to school? My parents always insisted that I had to. Mind you, I never thought of telling them that I couldn’t go or the werewolves might get me. I wonder if that would have worked?”
“You probably would have needed to produce werewolves as evidence,” Stiles pointed out. “Also, I don’t want to be kept in a tower like Rapunzel. Can you imagine how long I’d have to grow my hair before it would be of any use as an escape tool?”
Calvin sniffed. “If I made you an impenetrable fortress, growing your hair wouldn’t make any difference. If I say nothing in, nothing out, then that means nothing in and nothing out. Even birds would have to fly around. Worms, bugs, and other creepy crawlies would be very confused.”
“I don’t think that’s quite necessary,” Noah said with a faint smile.
“Thank you,” Stiles said sarcastically.
“Yet,” Noah added after a brief pause. “It’s something we can revisit at a later date, if things change.”
“Ugh,” Stiles said, crossing his arms and wondering if he could get away with stamping his foot. “You know that legally I can make my own choices now, right?”
Noah raised his eyebrows. “You’re welcome to do so, as long as that includes the choice to pay for your own groceries, gas, and accommodation. But while you live under my roof-”
“-I follow your rules, got it,” Stiles finished. “Whatever. But things aren’t quite that desperate yet, are they?”
Derek looked uncertain. Stiles glared at him.
“Let’s not borrow trouble,” Noah said with a sigh. “Thanks for making us aware of the issue, Derek. I’m sure we’ll all be sure to take reasonable precautions from here-on out. Perhaps not accepting lifts from strangers.”
Stiles scoffed. “Right. This is me you’re talking to. I suspect everyone automatically, even after they’ve proven themselves. Especially after they’ve proven themselves.”
Derek looked at him as if he was crazy. “Why would you suspect someone after they’ve proven themselves?”
Stiles heaved a huge sigh at the stupidity of the world and was about to answer, but Calvin got there before him.
“Well, duh, what kind of weirdo goes around proving themselves? The type with secret hidden plans that require them to be trusted, that’s who,” Calvin gave Stiles a short, sharp nod. “Normal people are as untrustworthy as a cat in a canary cage, that’s what you can trust about them.”
“You know, I think I’ll come back later,” Derek said hastily. “Later, Stiles, Calvin. Sheriff.”
Noah rolled his eyes. “Call me Noah!” he called at Derek’s rapidly retreating back, before shutting the door as Stiles fist-bumped with Calvin.
“What?” Stiles said innocently as his Dad gave him a look. “It’s not actually paranoia if there are people out to get you, you know.”