Dedication

Sunday

Derek exhaled loudly as he lay on top of his Camaro, staring up at the stars. This was exactly what he had been needing.

The only sound was the wind through the trees surrounding him, their branches swaying slightly and casting shadows on the ground in the light of the full moon.

Breathing deeply he closed his eyes, reveling in the solitude.

It was several hours later that he woke up, sitting up and stretching. The moon was on its way down, clouds scudding across the surface of the deep blue night sky. Reclining back again, he interlocked his fingers behind his head, thinking.

He should probably get going back. The bounty hunters should be catching Kate right about now, if she actually played their little game. Then she would have to be brought back here for trial.

Thinking of that made him think of the Argents. How would they handle the news? Chris and Victoria would be fine with it. They wouldn't be happy, but the law has to be adhered to; they would understand that and honor that.

Alison . . . it would be hard, watching her Aunt go to prison for multiple murders. Especially with her knowing the truth of what Kate had done to his family. Scott would need to keep an eye on her, keep her spirits up. He made a mental note to tell the younger wolf so once he got back.

And that made him think of Scott. And Stiles. And Lydia, and . . . everyone who was in his life, basically.

He had never planned on getting attached to people again. After losing his family like that, he hadn't thought he'd be able to trust or care like that again. But now, he found himself thinking of them as friends. More than that, he thought of them as family. His pack.

They didn't replace his old pack. His birth family. He would never be able to replace them, and he would never try to replace them, but . . . he couldn't live his life lost in the past. It wasn't a life, and it wasn't fair to the people around him that were still alive.

The Sheriff's offer sprang into his mind. If you want, you're welcome to stay here, if you wanted. Honestly he hadn't given it much thought, being too distracted by finding Kate and getting her caught.

He wondered how that would work. Yes, the Stilinski's had a spare bedroom, the Sheriff knew of the supernatural so there wouldn't have to be any lies, but . . . it felt like a big step. A huge step. And he wasn't sure if he was ready to leave the Hale House just yet. Sure, it was falling down in areas, had body shaped holes in the walls, and reeked of smoke while being covered in soot and was mostly charcoaled wood that had somehow stayed together, but it was still home.

It was where Cora would play piano while belting Memory at the top of her lungs. Laura and Cora and he would play hide and seek in the woods. His mother sang while she straightened the house, hummed as she cooked, and danced as she swept. Sometimes he would swear he heard the echoes of her voice in the house. His dad had taught them all they needed to know . . but that had been cut short.

Being in the house reminded him of them. But recently he found himself wondering if that was such a good thing. Yes, he loved them. Yes, he missed them. He would never forget them - what they taught him, how he loved them, or how they loved him. And their love for him is what had him thinking.

His family would have liked Scott. And Stiles would have slowly won their hearts, he's sure. The Sheriff probably would have been instantly adopted as a gruff but loving honorary uncle, Lydia would have gotten along swell with Cora. Laura would've loved them all; she always had a way of loving every person she met, equally and uniquely.

But they never got the chance to meet them.

And that's what had him thinking he needed to move out. He kept thinking about them. Would they be happy, what would have happened if they were still alive. Would his mother get along with Scott's true alpha, would Scott have even gotten bit . . . would he even have met Scott, or anyone that he considered a friend now. He kept catching himself living in the past. Daydreaming, watching life pass him by and not doing anything to participate in it.

He used to be content with that. He realized now he hadn't been content. He had been waiting to die.

His family was dead, everyone he'd cared about was dead. But then he found that he had met a new family. Sure, they were a little more dysfunctional than the average standard family. A true alpha, an ADHD youth, a hunter's daughter, the queen of the school, the Sheriff, and a scarred and scared former omega. Technically, such a group shouldn't work.

But they did.

And that was good enough for him.

Stretching he slid off the top of the Camaro, getting into the car and putting it in reverse. It was time to go home.

A couple hours later Derek was at the grocery store buying some ingredients that he'd noticed the Stilinski household was low on.

Chris stood in Alison's doorway momentarily watching Alison and Lydia sleeping soundly, their hands clasped together loosely. Smiling he went to watch the reruns on the tv with Victoria. Neither he nor his wife had been able to sleep of late.

Jackson and Danny were sprawled over the floor of Danny's living room, deep in a dreamless sleep. Parrish was asleep on the couch, having come over to keep an eye on the two.

The Sheriff was filling out a ticket, looking forward to seeing Stiles soon after as his shift was about to end.

Scott was sitting on the McCall couch in the McCall living room, listlessly staring at the TV. He had been unable to sleep, but he wasn't in the mood to run around the woods and howl at the moon. He had decided not to call Stiles, letting his friend get as much sleep as the boy could.

So that left him sitting on the couch, staring at a TV that he wasn't really paying attention to.

He was half registering the noise when the news came on, declaring it was five o'clock and welcoming all the early birds to the programs.

Scott snorted. "What about 'ultimate night owl, didn't even sleep at all' people? Ya not gonna welcome them?" he laughed, then sobered. "Man," he ran a hand over his face, yawning. "I really should have slept last night."

"And in a national news development, a little town's crime spree has become a case for the FBI as Kate Argent was found in Bethesda, Maryland late last night by two bounty hunters. Unfortunately one local policeman was fatally wounded during the arrest of Kate Argent, with three other policemen being hospitalized."

The droning voice of the news anchor made his attention snap to the TV. Wait. Kate? Quickly searching for the remote he turned the volume up, mouth hanging open in shock.

"Again, that's four policemen in total taken out by one woman, named Kate Argent, who has reportedly been fleeing across the country from California where she has been implicated in a murder spree that took place in a little town called Beacon Hills."

"Oh no," he shook his head. "You are not gonna advertise my territory, please woman shut up already."

"While reports on the matter are still coming in, it seems there was a total of six people in the town that she killed. Now, we are as yet still unsure if she was doing so alone, or if she had an accomplice. Considering the damage she did in Bethesda this morning, I wouldn't be surprised if it was just her. In other news today . . ."

"Kate Argent got caught," Scott said out loud, his mind slowly processing what he had just learned. "Kate, is caught," he stood, hurriedly turning off the tv and running out the front door. He had to tell Stiles, now!

Turning on his heels he ran back into the house, grabbing a jacket to fight off the slight chill in the air. California had decided to apologize for the obscene temperatures by giving an early spring, so it was quite pleasant although still brisk and chilly.

Dodging into the kitchen he quickly wrote a note to his mom for when she got off of work, letting her know what had happened and where he was.

With that done he barreled out of the house, sprinting down the sidewalk to his best friend's house.

John had come home slightly later than he had planned on, finding Stiles still soundly asleep and oblivious to the world. Smiling he went downstairs and turned on the tv to his favourite network to watch whatever was playing. It turned out to be Loony Tunes Back in Action.

Just as Elmer Fudd started working his way through threatening them at the Museum the front door burst open and a blur moved through the kitchen yelling something akin to "SORRY BUT THEY CAUGHT KATE!!" before apparently bounding into Stiles room and proceeding to shake him awake. Something that did not go over well with the sleeping spaz.

Stiles had sat up at the computer researching until the wee hours of the night, or morning, whichever you chose to call them. It wasn't until 2:30 that he crawled in between the covers of his bed and fell asleep, so when an unknown force started roughly shaking him back and forth and yelling nonsense in his ear, he reacted . . . roughly.

Stiles' right fist connected with Scott's left ear with the force of a very sleepy, very mad 147 pounds frame that threw everything into the punch. Scott was actually sent stumbling by the blow, shaking his head to clear it and holding a hand to his now sore ear.

Sitting up and cursing colorfully Stiles was half awake now, cradling his throbbing hand as he tried to figure out exactly what was going on.

Growling lowly Scott seized the blankets that Stiles was tangled in and ripped him off of the bed, depositing him in a loudly protesting heap on the floor.

"SCOTT!" Stiles bellowed, sounding like a mad bull as he fought free of the constricting sheets. Scott was the only one daring and bold enough to disturb him on a Sunday morning when it wasn't even past six thirty yet. “This better be about E.T. being real! 'cause if it's another crazed -”

"They caught Kate!" Scott ignored Stiles' muffled curses as he finally got himself untangled and then threw the blankets at Scott's head.

"Kate?" Stiles mumbled, squinting up at Scott, his brain still half asleep. "Which one? Kissing Kate Barlowe, Kate the kick butt abnormal wrangler, Kate - the bleach blonde out of time?"

"No," Scott tossed the blankets onto Stiles' bed. "Kate Argent, the killer of the Hales. They caught her in Bethesda last night, early this morning. She killed a cop and put three more in the hospital."

"Why is it always Bethesda?" Stiles muttered, running a hand over his hair. "Have you called Derek?"

"No, I came over here immediately after hearing the news."

"Why thank you," Stiles sarcastically sassed him as he stood, albeit unsteadily. "I would hate to think that I got more than . . . two and a half hours of sleep during the weekend," he checked his clock, groaning when he saw it was just ten minutes past five o'clock.

"Dude, it is not my fault your sleep schedule is non-existent," Scott grinned at his disgruntled friend. "Besides, this way we're even. I didn't get any sleep last night either."

"Mmm," Stiles hummed, listening with half an ear as he ransacked his room for his phone. "Wait," he froze. "Last night was the full moon! Dude, I'm so-"

"You say sorry, I'm gonna go get a bucket of cold water and you're gonna do the ALS ice bucket challenge right here in your room," Scott threatened.

"You know you could have a heart attack from getting ice cold water dumped on your head like that, right?"

Scott rolled his eyes. "I do now."

"Where is my phone?!" Stiles ripped his sheets off the bed, shaking them violently. "Ugh, it must be downstairs."

"Man, you really need to stop staying up so late," Scott laughed.

Glaring at him Stiles pulled a long sleeved flannel jacket on as he went down the stairs. "Staying up late is a sign of a high IQ," he informed Scott. "And how was I supposed to know you were gonna wake me before the sun rose?"

"Act as if what you expect is going to happen," Scott quipped.

"So, what, I should hide under the sink and shoot all the boogey men with bb gun pellets? 'Cause that's where my mind is right now. Where is my phone!"

"Right here," Scott pointed at the charging cell phone. "Maybe you should go back to bed."

"Bite me," Stiles quipped, unplugging the cellular device.

"Morning Stiles," John cut in. "So they caught Kate."

"Yeah," Stiles looked out into the living room where John had turned on the news. "Inevitable, really. Especially with Derek chasing her."

"You gonna call him?"

"Yeah, I'm calling him right now. Hey man, have you called Alison?"

"What?" Scott shook his head. "No. Why?"

"Her aunt's capture is being broadcasted as national news, call the woman and give her a heads up, okay?"

"She's probably still sleeping . . ." Scott sounded unsure.

"Ugh," Stiles rolled his eyes, redialing Derek. "Fine, fine. Don't wake her up. Call her parents. They can break the news to her when they feel she should know. Dude, don't argue with me, okay? Call them."

"Alright, fine," Scott pulled out his cell phone, selecting Mr. Argent's number in his phone book.

"Oh, will you pick up you stubborn . . ." Stiles muttered threats under his breath, dialling Derek yet again.

Derek sighed and hung his head in frustration as his cell started ringing yet again. Smiling apologetically at the cashier he pulled his phone out and flipped it open. "What?"

"Three times the charm, huh? I'll keep that information in mind next time there's something I really need to tell you."

"Stiles, I am not in the mood right now, okay?" Derek rolled his eyes. "Why are you even awake?"

"'Cause Scott literally dragged me out of bed, so shut up and listen. They caught Kate."

"They did?" Derek felt the air leave his lungs and momentarily refuse to reenter, leaning on the cart for temporary support.

"Yeah, they caught her in Bethesda, Maryland believe it or not. She took out a cop, put three more in the hospital. But, they got her."

"Good," Derek nodded, pulling out his wallet and paying the cashier before starting out the doors to his car. "Listen, I'll . . . I'm on my way back to town, I, might be a bit."

"Yeah, I totally understand man. Just, I thought you should know, as soon as possible."

"Scott called Alison yet?"

"He's talking to the Argent's now. Didn't think it was a good idea to wake her up, though he had no such qualms about waking me up."

Derek chuckled as Stiles' words were muffled by a yawn. "Go back to bed Stiles. I'll be home shortly."

"See ya," Stiles hung up.

Home. It was kind of odd, thinking of a place other than the house in the woods as home, but it felt right. It felt good.

"Back to bed with you," John bopped Stiles on the head, refilling his coffee cup with Looney Tunes Back in Action on the screen again. "You're exhausted."

"Yeah," Stiles yawned widely. "There is no way I'm gonna be able to sleep now, though. I'm too hyped."

"Sorry," Scott had the decency to look sheepish, pocketing his cell.

"Sorry my tail, you're trying not to laugh at me."

A smile was the only reply he got.

"Yeah, uh-huh, I know how your mind works. How'd the parents take it?"

"Matter-of-factly," Scott slung an arm around Stiles shoulders and dragged him into the living room to collapse on the sofa side by side, John ensconced in his arm chair. "He thanked me and asked me to let them tell Alison. I agreed."

"You're gonna wanna take her on a walk or something - there's bound to be some major emotional turmoil this stirs up for her," Stiles yawned, his eyes sliding closed. "And it's not like she can talk to Lydia, 'cause she doesn't know about the whole, were-wolves are real and her best friend's boyfriend is one of them, thing."

"Stop being so insightful and go back to sleep," Scott playfully punched him in the arm. "I'll take her on a walk through the park. Sit down and get her talking. There's definitely something bothering her, and . . ." he trailed off when he saw that Stiles had actually drifted back to sleep. "I really shouldn't have woken him," he looked at the Sheriff.

"He'd have woken up mad if you'd let him sleep through the news," John smiled, chuckling. "Your mom know you're here?"

"Yeah, I left a note. She'll probably pop over, after she's slept."

"Good."

Danny and Jackson were still asleep when the sun started peeking around the corner of the world, steadily spreading its light over the resting town of Beacon Hills. When Danny's alarm went off at eight he groaned, reflexively rolling over to smack the snooze. Unfortunately, in his mostly asleep state, he failed to recall that he was in the living room sleeping next to Jackson. So when he brought his hand down it was not, in fact, the snooze button he hit but Jackson's face.

Groggily looking up to see why on earth his alarm hadn't shut up he jolted awake when he realized that he was pinching Jackson's nose shut, not pressing snooze.

"Danny, what the hay!" Jackson jerk awake, smacking at Danny's hand.

"Sorry," Danny yawned, retracting his hand and standing. Stumbling into his bedroom after dazedly walking into the wall accidently he silenced his alarm, turning it off to prevent it from sounding off again. "Man, I am really sorry," Danny giggled. "I completely spaced that I wasn't in my room.

"Obviously," Jackson sat up, rubbing his face. "What time is it, anyway?" he yawned.

"Eight," Danny flopped back onto his sleeping bag, propping his head on his hands and looking at Jackson.

"What?" Jackson ran a hand through his hair

"Can I say something?"

Jackson looked a little wary but nodded.

"I know I've already said it, but . . . I'm sorry for walking away from you this week. For saying we were no longer friends, I . . ."

"Hey, man, it's okay," Jackson shook his head, mimicking Danny's position so they were both on the same level. "I was being an idiot."

"I was too; when you told me Lydia was pregnant, and that you wanted her to abort, I . . . I panicked. I knew you'd regret that, Jack, so I couldn't let you do it. As much as this terrifies you, I can't see how either of you would be able to live with yourselves if you choose to abort the baby. I see now that I should have handled it better, I shouldn't have reacted like that, I-"

"We both should have handled it better," Jackson spoke up. "I should have listened to what you were saying, not what I thought you were telling me."

"You're my best friend, Jack, you're basically a brother to me."

"Likewise."

"I should have stuck by you, like you stuck by me," Danny sat up, his shoulders growing tired.

"Hey," Jackson sat up as well and crossed his legs. "I pretty much lost my mind, so don't beat yourself up to badly."

"Likewise," Danny said, smiling slyly.

Jackson snorted, throwing his pillow at Danny.

Laughing Danny caught it and threw it back, adding his own pillow to the mix. It soon evolved into a pillow war, with neither one gaining the upper hand long.

Finally out of breath and laughing to hard to continue they lay on their backs, breathing deeply.

"Breakfast?" Danny asked, his own stomach beginning to grumble.

"I'm starving," Jackson instantly leapt at the offer of food, accepting a hand up from Danny.

Entering the kitchen side by side they greeted Parrish in sync.

"How long have you been up?" Danny inquired.

"About an hour," the Deputy answered warmly. "I'm an early bird."

"Sleep well?"

"Yeah," he smiled. "Hope you don't mind I made myself some coffee."

"No problem," Danny pulled eggs out of the fridge, handing them to Jackson to set by the stove while he grabbed the bread and cinnamon.

Checking the fridge Jackson frowned. "You're out of milk?"

"Oh, yeah. I was gonna grab some at the store yesterday, I spaced it. We have orange juice though."

"I can run to the store quick and pick up some milk," Jackson moved to get his coat.

"It can wait," Danny protested.

"Dude, I am not eating French toast with orange juice or water. I'll be five minutes," he slid his jacket on, slipping out the door with a farewell.

"Okay . . ." Danny shook his head, then set about warming up the pan and readying the eggs.

"Don't you need milk to make French toast?" Parrish asked him.

Danny looked at him over his shoulder. "No. I never use milk; do you?"

"I have never had French toast made without milk," Parrish admitted, interested in the concept. "So, how do you make it?"

"Three eggs, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of vanilla for flavor, a pinch of salt, with three slices of bread. Of course, with more people I'll make more slices. Which will mean I'll need more eggs. . ." Danny snagged his phone off the counter, sending a quick text to Jackson to ask for more eggs as well.

Jackson was just coming in sight of the store when his phone chirped, alerting him it was in his jacket pocket. Pulling it out he saw that Danny texted. 'More eggs while ur at it. 2 dozen please.'

'K' he replied, pocketing his phone while he entered the store. Quickly picking up a gallon of milk and the requested two dozen eggs he approached the checkout, graciously waiting in line. While the cashier rang up his order he read the subtitles on the news, feeling a touch of surprise when he saw that Kate Argent had been apprehended in Bethesda. Finally. That psycho had been running loose long enough - it was about time.

Thanking the cashier he walked out, the paper bag tucked under his arm with the milk in his left hand. Turning to head back to Danny's he spotted a familiar sleek black camero out of the corner of his eye. Twisting around he saw he'd been right. Derek Hale was leaning on the driver's door, apparently studying the pavement of the parking lot.

Frowning he stood undecided, then sighed and started towards the lone man.

Tensing slightly Derek straightened when he heard someone start in his direction, relaxing marginally when he saw it was just Jackson.

"Hey," the teen greeted quietly, nervousness radiating from him in body language and attitude, or rather lack of attitude.

"Out early for a Saturday aren't you?" Derek spoke a bit gruffly, not feeling like listening to a hormonal teenager whining about his hardships in Derek's ears.

Jackson took the gruffness in stride, recognizing it as a defensive measure that he himself implemented frequently. Standing silently for a handful of seconds he took a deep breath, setting the milk and bag on the ground and carefully stepping up to beside Derek, leaning on the car in a similar pose.

Derek sighed inaudibly. Oh boy; here he went.

"How did you do it?" Jackson whispered, his eyes fixed on a leaf that was skittering across the road.

Derek was thrown, caught completely off guard. "Do what?"

"Keep going after your world ended?" Jackson clarified. "When . . . when you're family was, murdered," Jackson continued warily. He knew the stories about Derek; that the man had lost it during his years of grief and was liable to snap at the smallest provocation. Jackson's gut told him otherwise however, as did common sense. After all, the Sheriff let his son hang around Derek, so the man must be trustworthy on some level, right?

Derek thought slowly, figuring out how he could explain the answer Jackson was seeking. "My world didn't end," he finally spoke, startling Jackson. The teen had been ready to leave, thinking he wasn't going to be answered. "It just got upended; fast. One instant we were all a family, the next . . .," he swallowed, forcing himself to breathe deeply. "The next moment, I was burying my sisters, my parents . . . my brothers."

Jackson frowned and looked at him. "I didn't realize you had brothers."

Derek just nodded, unable to speak for a moment. "They were twins. Identical. Got up to all sorts of things together. Never apart for more than a couple of hours. They even shared a bed."

"How old were they?"

"Five," Derek cleared his throat. "After the funerals . . . Laura and I went to New York. There were to many memories here, so . . . we left. It was in New York that I learned, hard and fast, that I was the only one I could rely on. Laura had her issues, she had her troubles and trials . . . When it comes down to it, some nights you're the only one around. You either become your own best friend and find a way to forgive yourself for what you've done or you live constantly at war with yourself, constantly under attack from yourself. Thing is, enemies can't live together for long. Eventually, one side wins."

"Tell me about it," Jackson muttered, remembering his own dark path he'd traveled that week.

Derek looked at him sharply, running an appraising eye over him.

Jackson noticed, locking eyes with Derek for a moment. "Don't worry," he looked away. "I'm sorting it. I'm staying at Danny's, Parrish is keeping an eye on me; just because . . ."

"Scaring yourself?" Derek asked quietly.

A single nod was the only answer he received.

"Sheriff know?"

"Yeah," his answer was quick and honest, making Derek relax. "Yeah, we talked yesterday."

"Talked with Lydia yet?" Derek watched him out of the corner of his eye.

Jackson sighed, running a hand over his hair. ". . . no. I haven't. Not yet. I will later today; Mrs. McCall is mediating, 'cause . . ." he laughed. "Apparently we have lost the ability to be civil when left to ourselves."

"Do something fun before you talk," Derek suggested.

"What?" Jackson looked at him, surprised.

"Do something fun, relaxing. Something you enjoy. Do something you have to focus on that's fun to do; something to distract you and give your mind a break from spinning scenarios."

"Lacrosse is hard to play alone," Jackson was back to watching the leaves.

"Danny could probably use the practice," Derek retorted. "Cold spell that we've had, Coach'll be itching to be out on the field again. Might as well help a friend out and shake the dust off of him before Finstock gets the chance to rip his head off."

Jackson smirked, snorting in amusement. "Yeah; Coach Fitz is terrifying when he's fired up. And that hair, man; it's a beast all unto its self."

Derek smiled briefly, nodding.

"Thanks," Jackson straightened, picking up the milk and eggs. "I'd best get back . . . Danny's gonna be missing his eggs."

"No problem," Derek opened his car door, pausing with one foot in the Camaro. "Hey, Jackson?"

"Yeah," he turned back.

"If you ever need to talk, to someone who knows what it feels like when the world falls down . . . seek me out. I'm not really that hard to find, usually."

Jackson bit his lip, nodding. "I will."

Derek nodded, sliding into his car and inserting the keys into the ignition.

Jackson waved a final farewell and set off for the apartment, just as his phone chirped. 'WHERE ARE YOU!!'

'Saw Derek @ the store, stopped 2 talk. On my way back now. They caught Kate.'

'Oh ok. C u soon'

'C ya'

"Morning girls," Chris spoke quietly, testing to see how deeply the two were still sleeping.

Groaning Alison dragged her pillow over her head and stretched like a cat. "What time is it, gremlin of the house."

Laughing he stepped into the room, sitting down beside Alison and pulling the pillow off of her head. "It's eleven o'clock sweetie."

"Seriously?" Lydia rolled over and propped herself up with an elbow, her hair flowing in a mane of strawberry blonde glory that had yet to be tamed by a brush. "Wow, we slept in."

Alison snorted. "Eleven is not sleeping in. It's like, being half lazy while feeling ambitious. One o'clock is late."

"You have slept in until one o'clock in the afternoon!"

"Yeah," she laughed. "Freaked dad out, 'cause I'd gone to bed at like, nine thirty the night before. But in my defense I hadn't slept more than four hours in the two days proceeding that, so . . ."

"Yikes," Lydia sat up, running a hand over her hair to try and contain it. It didn't work.

"You're welcome to stay for breakfast," Chris offered.

"I would love to," Lydia smiled.

"Eggs and bacon," he chucked Alison under the chin, smiling a bit sadly.

"Dad, what's wrong?" Alison could tell something was off.

He hesitated.

"Daddy, you're scaring me," she hugged her knees to her chest, eyes wide and fixed on him.

"Honey," he scooted her over and sat side by side, his arm around her shoulder. Victoria appeared in the doorway, coming in to sit on the foot of the bed.

"Daddy?"

"Your Aunt Kate was apprehended last night, in Bethesda, Maryland."

Alison gasped, her hands flying to her mouth. "Maryland? What was she doing in Maryland?"

"Evading capture, most likely trying to flee the country in an unexpected route to throw law enforcement off her tail, " Victoria answered, squeezing Alison's foot comfortingly.

Lydia slid up and curled into Alison, silently comforting her as tears stung the Brunette's eyes.

"Does Derek know?" Alison finally managed.

Chris nodded. "Stiles already called him. Scott's the one who called us; he didn't want you blindsided by this . . . honey, I know this is gonna be hard," he kissed her hair, pulling a kleenex out of the box and handing it to her. "It's going to be rocky and tough, but we're here for you, okay honey?"

She nodded silently, fighting sobs.

"I'm gonna go start the bacon," he kissed her hair again, leading Victoria out as Alison curled into a fetal position with Lydia quickly moving to press herself into her back, whispering soothing words and stroking her hair as Alison sobbed from grief for the sister she never truly knew.

"So, what do you wanna do now?" Scott thumped Stiles on the head with a pillow as the end credits of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles played from the TV.

"I wanna move to New York City and wipe out the diabolical Foot Clan," Stiles answered with his eyes slit theatrically.

"Mmhmm," Scott rolled his eyes. "And while you save up money to learn karate and all those other martial arts?"

"Lacrosse?" Stiles perked up, yawning widely. "Ugh. Don't wake me up tomorrow morning, 'kay? and don't let me sit up researching the night away tonight."

"Noted," Scott grinned. "Lacrosse sounds good. Get us active, outside, away from TV's and couches."

"And potatoes," Stiles added.

"Potatoes?" Scott was puzzled.

"Yeah. You said away from TV and couches; couch potatoes, get it?"

Scott sighed dramatically. "I am regretting waking you up."

"Good," Stiles sassed, getting up. "Let me get dressed and call Dad."

"Where is your Dad, anyway?"

"Work," Stiles called.

"He's been working a lot lately," Scott muttered.

"Can't hear you!" Stiles shouted.

"Your dad has been working a lot lately! Like, an inordinate amount. What, did someone quit or get shot without me knowing?" Scott shouted up the stairs.

"No," Stiles came trotting down stairs pulling a clean shirt on and then slipping the flannel jacket back on. "It's nearing the end of their fiscal year, so they have to use up their budget else their budget for this next year will be cut. Remember that rule?"

"Oh yeah; so everyone is working overtime, I got it. That kinda sucks that they do that though."

"Kinda?" Stiles snorted.

"Majorly," Scott grinned. "Ready?"

"Yeah, I'll call dad on the way there," Stiles led the way out of the house, locking the door behind them.

"Um, I'll call your dad on the way there," Scott corrected.

"Why?"

"'Cause I don't wanna wind up being a passenger to your first car accident, so no talking on the cell phone while driving. Idiot," Scott climbed into the passenger seat.

"Moron," Stiles retorted, getting in the driver’s seat.

Arriving at the school safely, with the Sheriff having been notified by Scott while Stiles drove, they made their way to the locker room's back door. Stiles quickly found the hiding place for the hidden key - it was never more than five feet away from the door after all; that limited the possibilities considerably - and they suited up for practice.

Alison sat in the window seat, watching her mom as she prepared to rake the leaves in the warmer reprieve they had been granted. Lydia was in the kitchen helping Mr. Argent clean the kitchen and load the dishwasher, and Alison knew she should've been helping them, but she just felt like if she didn't sit down and breathe she would cease to exist.

Her Aunt was in custody. That was a good thing; it meant she couldn't hurt anyone else. Like that police officer she'd killed. . . Alison couldn't believe it. Her Aunt had killed a human. Not that killing a Wolf was less offensive or less wrong, but . . . it still shook Alison to her core.

"Hey," Lydia spoke softly, letting Alison know she was there.

"Hey," Alison smiled at her, cheerful exterior firmly in place.

"You wanna go find Scott?" Lydia asked, sitting down opposite her.

Thinking it over Alison found that that idea appealed to her. It really appealed. Maybe, if she could get away from Lydia for a moment, she could finally talk about the things she'd been bottling up and ignoring that were threatening to pour out of her mouth to the wrong person. Lydia didn't know of the supernatural, and with everything going on in her own life, it was best it stayed that way. At least for now.

"That sounds like a really good idea."

"Go ahead," Chris spoke softly from behind her. "I'll help your mother with the yard. You, go be with friends, 'kay kiddo?"

"Thanks Daddy," she whispered, then jumped up and fetched her cell phone, dialing Scott from memory. Lydia got her things repacked into her suitcase and met Alison at the car.

"Something wrong?" she asked upon seeing that Alison was frowning.

"He's not answering his phone," she explained.

“Try Stiles - they're practically inseparable, so he most likely knows where Scott is.”

“Good idea,” she dialed Stiles' number, holding the phone to her ear while she climbed into the passenger seat of Lydia's car.

“Are they avoiding me?” she dropped her phone into her lap, frustrated.

“Give,” Lydia gently picked up the phone and dialed the Sheriff's station. If anyone knew where to find them, it would be him.

Hello,” a deputy answered the phone.

“Hi, I'm calling for the Sheriff, do you know when he might be in?”

He's in a meeting now, I can take a message if you wish . . . hold on,” there were muffled voice from the other line.

Hello?

“Hi Sheriff.”

Oh hey Lydia, what's up?

“You've most likely heard about Alison's Aunt?”

Yeah, yeah I did. How is she?

“She's,” Lydia glanced at her out of the corner of her eye. “Handling it. Listen, do you know where Scott is? We can't get hold of him.”

“Yeah, he and Stiles went to the school to practice Lacrosse, now that the weather has warmed up. Why don't you guys head over? I'm sure they wouldn't mind an audience.

“Okay, yeah. That sounds good, thank you.”

No problem, and . . . if Alison needs anything.

“I'll let you know if there's anything you can do to help.”

Good, thanks. See you later, and take care.

“You too, bye,” she ended the call, plopping the phone back into Alison's lap. “They are out practicing Lacrosse. Wanna go watch? Then you and Scott can go, or whatever you want.”

“Yeah, that sounds good. Hey, can we stop at Scott's house first? I need to talk to Melissa.”

“Of course.”

Lydia dropped Alison off at the McCall residence while she ran home and said hey to her mom, dropped off her bags, and then headed back to pick Alison up.

While Lydia did all of that Alison knocked on the door, feeling a touch nervous.

Melissa answered the door with a smile on her face. “Hey Alison, lovely to see you dear, please come in.”

“I won't be staying long, I just, wanted to stop by.”

“Of course, you're welcome here any time. How are you doing?” she laid a concerned hand on her shoulder.

“I'm, doing okay actually,” Alison answered as honestly as she could. “I actually needed to ask you something.”

“Ask away, I'll answer my best.”

“Would you mind if Jackson and Lydia had you mediate between them later this afternoon?”

“I would be glad to!” was her instant response.

“Okay, good,” Alison sighed in relief. “I kind of already set it up for them to do that, so-”

“Oh, that's fine,” Melissa laughed. “Yeah, I would love to help them. Have they got anything sorted?”

“I think Jackson isn't freaking out as badly as he was, but there are still quite a few things that need to be settled, like financial and emotional responsibility, which I think is part of what has Jackson so freaked.”

“Mm,” Melissa nodded in understanding. “Have you spoken to Scott today?”

“No, Lydia and I are gonna go to the Lacrosse field and watch them practice; thought I'd steal him away for a walk afterwards, maybe.”

“Be my guest,” she hugged her. “It's hard, when the people you love aren't the people you thought they were. But you still love them.”

“Yeah, it . . . it is hard,” Alison smiled tearfully.

“When Scott's dad left,” Melissa started, watching Lydia pull in. “Scott . . . he didn't take it well. He was ten, just getting into Lacrosse. He wanted a dad, you know? And he didn't understand why his dad didn't want him, or me. I . . . I thought I knew Raphael. Turned out I didn't. That betrayal - it's not something I'll ever forget. Or forgive easily. He never even bothered to give an explanation, he just packed up while Scott was at school, then walked right past Scott and drove away. Never even hugged him goodbye.”

“I'm sorry,” Alison didn't know what else to say.

“I'm not saying that to make you feel sorry,” Melissa shook herself out of her memories. “I just . . . I don't want you to feel alone. Talk to Scott; he . . . he understands what it feels like. Better than I do, I dare say.”

At a questioning look from Alison she hesitated, then sighed. “I - I have a theory. About why Rafe left like that. I've told Scott, he just - never wanted to believe it. See, Raphael drank; it was a, coping mechanism, I guess. His job in law enforcement was tough, he worked in the Internal Affairs Department of California. He traveled a lot and anywhere he went, people were never happy to see him. He also had a temper on him. A couple days before he left . . . I came home to find him gone to work three hours early, liquor bottles shattered all on the porch and sidewalk, and I found Scott . . . Scott was in bed, tucked in by his father, with a cut on his head with a nasty goose egg to match, and . . .” she took a deep breath. “That day while I was cleaning, I found blood at the bottom of the stairs.”

Alison bit her lip, eyes widening slightly.

“I . . . I think Rafe pushed Scott down the stairs while he was drunk. I don't think he meant to do it, but I think he got drunk and then, . . . . didn't realize the stairs were there, I don't know . . . I guess I'll never know.”

“Some things we never get answers to,” Alison nodded, then looked over her shoulder. “I should go, I mean-”

“Yeah, no, go. No, please, go ahead. Watch 'em wrassle each other,” Melissa ushered her out of the house. “Have fun, and . . . talk to somebody. And if you want to talk to me, you know where to find me.”

“Thank you Mrs. McCall,” Alison smiled, waving farewell as she walked to the car.

“Everything okay?” Lydia asked, backing out and heading to the school.

“Yeah,” Alison assured her. “Just, talking.”

“I'm not prying,” Lydia kindly allowed her to keep her silence, humming along with the radio while she drove.

Pulling into the school parking lot they parked and then made their way around the building to the Lacrosse field.

"Hey Scott!" Alison called, catching his attention.

"Hey!" he called back, waving before jogging over as Stiles followed close behind him.

"Hey guys," Stiles greeted, slightly out of breath.

Scott pulled his helmet off and pulled Alison into a hug, holding her tight.

Lydia smiled in greeting of Stiles, letting the two have their moment. "Been here long?"

"About thirty minutes," Stiles answered. "How have you been?"

"Good," she took a deep breath. "I'm gonna be talking to Jackson this afternoon; Mrs. McCall is gonna sit down with us."

"That's good, I mean," Stiles licked his lips, trying to frame his thoughts into words. "It's good that you guys will have a third party present, you know."

"I guess that means I'll have to be out of the house," Scott said good naturedly, sliding his arm around Alison's waist as she pulled out of the hug.

"Sorry," Lydia apologized.

Scott laughed. "I think I can find someone to spend time with," he looked at Alison.

She pursed her lips in mock consideration. "Oh, I don't know. I might have plans."

"Well, maybe, after your plans."

Alison giggled. "You are my plans. I asked your mom if it would be okay to steal you away and she said I could, so . . ."

"Did she give you permission to return him? 'Cause you might want to double check on that matter - she might be thinking of a permanent thing here," Stiles quipped, earning a playful punch from Scott.

"Shut up, Stiles."

"Ow!" Stiles rubbed his shoulder, scowling at Scott in jest.

"That did not hurt."

"How do you know?"

"Because I do, okay?'

"Master of all things, aren't you Master McCall," Stiles sauced.

"Master of my own strength, yeah," Scott sassed him right back.

"Okay, okay, don't eat each other," Lydia intervened laughing. "Lacrosse?"

"Right," Scott slipped his helmet back on. "Wanna watch?"

"That's why we came," Alison gently kissed the helmet's cheek. "Go get 'im."

"Thanks a lot, Alison," Stiles spun his Lacrosse stick in his hands, grinning cheekily at her.

"Good luck, I have a feeling you're going to need it," Lydia grinned, spontaneously blowing a kiss in his general direction.

"With your favor backing me?" he snorted. "I could take out Jackson."

She giggled, waving as she and Alison moved to sit on the bleachers and the boys moved back onto the field.

"Way to be just friends, Stiles," Scott playfully shoved him.

"Dude, don't even, okay? It just - it slipped out," Stiles shook his head, scooping up a ball. "En garde!" he challenged, making Scott laugh and move away.

"So," Alison sat beside Lydia, hands clasped in her lap while they watched the boys resume practice.

"So?"

"You are a very stubborn human being, you know that?"

Lydia fought a smile, but it broke through anyway. Sighing she rolled her eyes, mimicking Alison's pose with her legs crossed and hands clasped in her lap, eyes fixed on the two teenagers. "I am still in love with Jackson. And besides, Stiles doesn't need a girlfriend, he needs a friend."

"Are you saying that because you believe it's true, or because you want it to be true so you don't have to deal with it?"

"I am saying that because I don't think Stiles knows what he wants and because friendship is all I can give right now. I mean, I'm thinking of breaking up with Jackson, the last thing I need is an entirely different relationship with a guy I never really paid attention to until he literally sat me down and practically forced me to talk to him. Not that I'm complaining that he's persistent, I just . . ."

"Seriously Scott? Are you sick or something or is my aim that crappy?" Stiles asked after his friend lost the ball for the umpteenth time.

"Having trouble focusing," Scott replied, shaking his head and trying to blank out the current conversation going on between Alison and Lydia. It was a good thing Stiles did not have Wolf hearing.

"You just, what?"

"I'm not ready for a serious relationship," Lydia stated simply. "I mean, I thought I was, but now - now that I'm going to be a mother," she laughed. "I really don't think I'm ready to commit to someone who isn't willing to commit to me."

"You should never be ready to commit to someone who isn't willing to commit to you, Lydia," Alison took her hand, squeezing it gently. "I know you love Jackson, but . . . there are different kinds of love, and not every guy you . . . I mean . . ."

"Not every guy I think I love is really the one I love?" Lydia supplied for her. Giving her a tight lipped smile she nodded. "I know. And that's . . . it's something I'm having to wrap my head around."

"Well, if you need help, or just need to rant, I'm right here."

"I know. And thank you," Lydia squeezed her hands back, turning her attention back to the boys. "What on earth is Scott's problem?"

"Hmm?" Alison turned her attention back to the field. "I have no idea . . ." she trailed off, biting her lip to hide a smile when she realized, yeah - she did know. Oops. Way to distract the poor guy - talk about his best friend within his supernatural hearing range. "Probably just, getting back in the groove, after the cold weather and all."

"Hmm," Lydia furrowed her brow. "You know, they aren't observing any rules of game play."

"It's Scott and Stiles," Alison laughed. "They play by their own rules."

"Yeah! They do," Lydia giggled alongside her.

"Uh," Jackson slowed the car when he saw Stiles' Jeep, as well as Lydia's car, in the school parking lot. "Maybe, we should just, find a park or something."

"Jackson, you're not going to be able to avoid Lydia forever. Stiles is probably practicing with Scott, heaven knows he needs it, and Alison is most likely here to support Scott and dragged Lydia with her. No big deal," Danny shrugged. "Park over there," he directed his best friend, earning a glare.

"Yes, thank you side seat driver. I didn't quite notice that empty spot amidst all of these invisible cars. That's very helpful."

Danny laughed, getting out as Jackson put the car in park. "Whatever man. Come on."

Jackson begrudgingly got out of the car, slinging his backpack over his shoulder as he followed his friend around the building and started towards the Lacrosse field.

"Who's that?" Scott paused, gesturing at the two people he saw come around the school.

Stiles stopped, bending over slightly to catch his breath, and groaned. "Jackson and Danny. Of course."

"We can leave," Scott spun his Lacrosse stick, looking over to the stands. Lydia was standing up, facing the new arrival's direction, just watching them approach. Alison was still sitting, her hands clasped nervously in her lap, head turned to watch the two new comers approach.

"Nah," Stiles shook his head, slipping his helmet off and tucking it under his left arm.

"Really? You wanna practice with Jackson and Danny on the same field?" Scott scoffed.

"Or, we could practice with Jackson and Danny," Stiles retorted.

"Are you mad?"

"Scott, think about it," Stiles argued, using his 'lets be reasonable and rational' voice. "We're gonna have to be civil, for Lydia's sake and for the kid's sake, once she's born. We might as well extend the olive branch now - heaven knows Jackson's not going to."

“You really are serious about this aren't you?” Scott studied his friend, recognizing the signs that Stiles wasn't joking.

“Yep,” Stiles nodded, sighing heavily. “I must be going crazy.”

“Too late for that,” Scott scoffed, lightly punching Stiles' arm. “You've been crazy for a long time my friend.”

“Thanks,” Stiles smacked Scott upside the head, wincing and shaking his hand from the impact with Scott's helmet.

“Duh,” Scott was unsympathetic as he started walking towards where Jackson and Danny stood conversing with Lydia and Alison, slipping his helmet off to carry it under his arm.

“You're a horrible friend. Absolutely no empathy, you know that,” Stiles started off after Scott.

Approaching the group of four Stiles quickly assessed the mood, noticing that Danny and Alison seemed to be doing most of the talking. Jackson looked subdued, though more cocky and confident than he had the last time Stiles had seen him, so that was a good sign.

Lydia was looking unsure, her eyes glued to Alison and never straying which was a dead giveaway that she was nervous and had no idea what to say to Jackson.

Mentally sighing Stiles braced himself, glancing at Scott and silently letting him know that Stiles would take the lead.

“Hey Danny, Jackson,” Stiles greeted cheerily. “Come to practice?”

“Yeah,” Jackson was the one to answer, surprisingly.

“Would you wanna practice with us?” Stiles motioned to Scott and himself.

Jackson was shocked by the suggestion, figuring Stiles and Scott wouldn't want anything to do with him or Danny. “Really?” he cocked an eyebrow, reassessing the boy in front of him.

“Yeah,” Stiles nodded, licking his dry lips. “Scott's good practice, but you know . . . he can get predictable.”

“I get predictable?” Scott scoffed, rolling his eyes.

“Besides, co-captains,” Stiles motioned from Jackson to Scott. “Get back into practice, you know, co-captaining the team. Or we could just do a you guys versus us thing, for good fun.”

“That sounds like fun,” Danny nodded, glancing at Jackson to see what his friend thought.

Jackson silently considered the offer, trying to figure out what Stiles' angle was on the whole, let's be best buds and practice Lacrosse together, thing, but he couldn't find a solid reason to say no. “Alright. Fine. I hope you brought ice packs.”

“There's the Jackson we all know and love,” Stiles muttered under his breath. “Great,” he added louder. “Shall we begin?”

Scott nodded, and Danny and Jackson went to the locker room to change into their gear before heading out onto the field to face off with Scott and Stiles.

Lydia stayed silent as the guys decided to practice together, secretly pleased that Stiles had the courage to extend an olive branch to the one person in his life that probably fit the bill of being his worst enemy. Jackson and Stiles had never gotten along; Stiles was too sporadic, un-focused, and un-driven for Jackson's liking, so the boys had been enemies since they first met in fifth grade.

Stiles, for his part in the rivalry, had never appreciated Jackson's predatory outlook on anyone he viewed as weaker than him, so Stiles had taken it upon himself to fight back against Jackson at every opportunity; something Scott had inevitably found himself supporting and occasionally aiding.

Now, the two faced each other as Scott faced Danny, and Lydia couldn't help but feel a touch of apprehension. Jackson wasn't known for going easy on his opponents in Lacrosse, and Stiles had just established himself as Jackson's opponent for this practice.

“I'm sure they'll be fine,” Alison spoke up, aware of Lydia's unease at the upcoming 'battle'. “Stiles knows what he's doing, and Scott'll look after him.”

“I know,” Lydia nodded, forcing a smile. “I just . . . I guess I really don't know what to say or do around Jackson anymore.”

“That's normal,” Alison took her hand and squeezed it reassuringly. “You'll get it sorted out.”

“Thanks,” Lydia squeezed her hand back. “Now, who do you think is gonna win?”

“Oh, Scott will, definitely.”

“What? You have obviously never watched Jackson practice. He is the only one who ever wins."

Stiles groaned as he lay on the ground for the third time, silently cursing his own idea of practicing with Jackson and Danny. The practice of Lacrosse had quickly devolved into a game of keep away, with Danny and Jackson teamed up against Scott and Stiles, with Jackson deciding that Stiles was a pretty good stand in for a tackle dummy. “He should play football,” Stiles muttered as he regained his breath.

Scott jogged over to where his friend was once again flat on his back, shaking his head. “This was-”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, shut up,” Stiles glared as Scott grinned before offering a hand up.

Accepting the proffered help he took a deep breath and shook himself to get rid of the small aches that had started to set in. He was definitely going to be black and blue by the end of this practice. His dad wasn't going to be too happy with him . . . oh well.

“Shall we?” Stiles gestured grandly to where their opponents stood regrouped against them.

“Try running away from him next time,” Scott suggested jokingly.

“Unlike you I can't run and catch at the same time very well,” Stiles twirled his Lacrosse stick while sticking his tongue out at Scott.

“It's been an hour, I'm sure they'll be tired of the game soon,” Scott tried to reassure him.

“Jackson, leaving the game while not crowned winner? Yeah, like that would ever happen.”

“Come on, let's play!” Jackson challenged.

“Throw the ball!” Stiles yelled back.

“Come on Stilinski, that's just cheating!”

“It was worth a shot,” Scott punched Stiles in the arm. “Let's go!”

“If we don't stop playing soon, I'm gonna pass out from something,” Stiles complained, following Scott as they charged Jackson and Danny.

Not sure who had the ball, Scott set out after Jackson and Stiles chased Danny. Just as Stiles was about to catch him Danny threw the ball towards Jackson but Scott intercepted it and tossed it to Stiles.

Crowing triumphantly Stiles ran from Danny as fast as he could, hearing Alison calling encouragement to him and Lydia laughing as Scott and Jackson went down in a tangle of limbs.

About to be caught Stiles threw the ball towards Scott, but Jackson intercepted as fast as lightning and then set out at full speed away from Scott - he'd learned the hard way that Scott wasn't gentle when he tackled people.

“That's it,” Stiles muttered, tired of the obvious struggle for dominance between Scott and Jackson. Dropping his Lacrosse stick he narrowed his eyes, watching Jackson closely and predicting where he would end up. When Jackson dodged to the side predictably, successfully putting more distance between him and Scott, Stiles charged.

The only warning Jackson received before impact was a bellowed “COWABUNGA!” and then 147 pounds of sarcastic muscle ran straight into him, sending the ball flying and bringing him down in one motion.

Scott was bent over double laughing as Stiles full body tackled Jackson. Danny was shocked at first, but soon burst into laughter as well while Jackson cursed and tried to figure out exactly what had happened.

Lydia and Alison were in stitches, practically falling off the bleachers.

“Well,” Alison gasped. “That was unexpected!”

“Stilinski!” Jackson bellowed.

“What?” Stiles put on his best 'I'm innocent of everything' tone and expression.

“Are you two okay?” Danny interrupted the growing tension between the two boys.

“Yeah,” Stiles grinned, standing with a muffled groan. “I think I'm done though.”

“Me too,” Jackson stood and brushed himself off, noticing the glances he got from Scott and Danny. “What? If Stilinski here can catch me unawares then obviously I am exhausted and need to stop before I pass out.”

“Yeah, I need to get going home,” Danny took his helmet off.

Walking up arm in arm Lydia and Alison were still giggling sporadically, but had mostly calmed down.

“Maybe, you'd want to head over to the McCall house? After you've showered,” Lydia addressed Jackson.

“Sounds good,” he nodded, then headed off to the showers beside Danny.

“So,” Scott slid his helmet off and tucked it under his arm. “Do you wanna meet at your house, or . . .”

“I can wait for you, and then maybe we could walk to the park or something,” Alison smiled brightly.

“Sounds good,” Scott matched her smile.

Stiles just silently rolled his eyes and gave Lydia a thumbs up. “Text if you need something?”

“Definitely,” Lydia agreed. “And, I'll let you know how things go with Jackson tonight?”

“Sounds good, yeah.”

“Okay,” she flipped her hair and bid Alison good bye, walking to her car to head home and collect herself before talking to Jackson.

“See ya Stiles,” Alison bid him good bye as he and Scott headed towards the locker room and showers.

“See ya Alison,” he waved then bumped Scott on the shoulder. “Last chance, what do you need to be coached on.”

“Something is bothering her,” Scott launched into it, not needing to ask what Stiles meant.

“So, ask her what's bothering her.”

“But, I don't wanna pry. If it's private, then . . . I just don't want to be to pushy.”

“Scott, seriously? Ask! You care about her, you wanna help; she's not gonna just automatically dump everything on you, okay? Let her know you want to help, you're there for her, a listening ear and understanding shoulder.”

“But . . .”

“But what?”

“. . . I can't relate to what she's going through, I mean,” Scott shrugged, stuffing his gear back into his duffle bag.

“Dude, she doesn't need a twin mind to reminisce about the unfairness of life with, okay. Besides, you can to relate . . . in some ways,” Stiles set his bag next to Scott's.

“How?”

Stiles sighed heavily - he'd hoped he wouldn't have to spell it out for Scott. “Your dad, leaving like he did? I mean - that shook your belief in people, your confidence in your world. She's gotta be feeling similar to that. Her Aunt just got arrested for multiple murders after running across the continent and killing a cop. And, to top it off with a cherry, her family are Were-Wolf hunters, Were-Wolves are real, and . . . . her world isn't what she thought it was. The people in it aren't who or what she thought they were. I think you can relate to that just fine.”

Scott just sat staring at Stiles for a long moment.

“What?”

“You are probably the smartest, most in tune with emotions person I have ever met,” Scott finally said.

“Oh dude, shut up. I'm empathetic, it's not a super power.”

“It's still pretty impressive.”

“Dude, just shut up and take a shower already!”

“Okay, okay. Fine!”

Melissa breathed deeply in appreciation as she opened the oven, pulling out the apple pie carefully and setting it on the stove top. Shutting the oven and turning it off she glanced out the window as a car pulled into the drive, recognizing Lydia's car.

Going to the door she opened it in time to see Jackson pull up as well, though he parked on the street so he wasn't blocking Lydia in. Thoughtful of him, Melissa thought, smiling a greeting as they walked up the steps side by side.

“Good afternoon; please, come in.”

Entering the house the two stood uncertainly, obviously ill at ease around each other. Taking their coats Melissa hung them up before leading them to the living room. “Can I get you anything to drink? I have milk, orange juice, I can make hot water for tea or hot coca, and of course just water.”

“Just water for me, please,” Lydia smiled in thanks.

“Water sounds good,” Jackson seconded her.

“I'll get it for us.”

Jackson watched as Mrs. McCall left the room, licking his dry lips and clasping his hands in his lap to stop himself from fidgeting nervously. Looking at Lydia out of the corner of his eye he saw that she was looking better - she wasn't as pale as she had been looking, and there was less make up around her eyes, which indicated she was sleeping better. Good. He was glad she was doing well.

Lydia was studying Jackson as well, feeling relieved at the improvement she saw in his appearance. He was more alert, less haggard, and the circles under his eyes were decidedly less pronounced than they had been.

Melissa walked in with a tray bearing scones and three waters, chuckling to herself quietly when she noticed the two teens studying each other surreptitiously.

“So,” she set the tray down on the coffee table, setting the water closer to them as she took her own seat on the couch facing the two arm chairs. “I know neither of you know me very well, and I honestly don't really know either of you, but I do know that you both need a little help muddling through this, and I want to help both of you. So, hopefully we can reach an understanding that both can agree to and be happy with. Do either of you want to start, or should I?”

“I'll - I'll start,” Jackson swallowed, turning to face Lydia a little more.

“Okay,” Melissa leaned back, relaxed and neutral.

“I want to say I'm sorry. I . . . I reacted badly, and . . . I'm sorry.”

“I know,” Lydia cleared her throat, repeating the quiet statement. “I know, and . . . I'm sorry too, Jackson. I, I didn't react well either.”

“I think you both reacted quite normally,” Melissa interjected.

“Still, we . . . I, should have handled it better,” Lydia said.

“When did you find out? Just, out of curiosity.”

“Sunday. Last, Sunday. I bought a pregnancy test out of town on Saturday . . .”

“I'm assuming you were late,” Melissa prompted gently.

“By three weeks,” Lydia confirmed. “I . . . I didn't want to face the fact that I was pregnant. I mean, I kind of just knew after I was a week late that - I was pregnant. I just, put off testing 'cause that just, kinda confirmed it. And confirming it meant that I had to tell Jackson . . .”

“You didn't want to tell me?” Jackson was a little surprised to hear that.

“I knew you weren't ready for it. Neither of us were, are, ready for this.”

“I heard, from Scott, that you don't want to abort,” Melissa said.

“No,” Lydia shook her head firmly. “Even though this is a mistake . . . I didn't mean for this to happen, and I know Jackson didn't either, but it did, I'm pregnant . . . I'm going to be a mother. And, I don't believe in abortion as a solution. I wish it weren't even legal. The whole, womens choice, thing . . . . I made my choice. And this is the result. And I am going to live with it.”

“Why?” Jackson interjected before Melissa could speak again. “Okay, you don't want to abort, you could still adopt it out.”

“Jackson,” Lydia sighed.

“No, Lydia, you don't have to give up your dreams just because this happened.”

“I'm not giving up my dreams. I'm not; I won't.”

“You might not have a choice-”

“Jackson, this isn't some life threatening miasmas that is bearing down on me intent on ending my career and stealing every light of joy from my life and future. It's pregnancy. I'm pregnant. I have an embryo in my uterus that is slowly developing into a fetus that will eventually emerge in the form of a very red, very ugly to begin with infant that will grow into a toddler, then a preteen, and then a rebellious teenager, until he or she goes off into the world to make their own mistakes and live their own life. I'm not. Going. To die. It's not the end of the world.”

“End of the world as you know it,” Jackson retorted.

“Would that be such a terrible thing?” Lydia replied. “Coach is shell shocked that I'm actually intelligent, you apparently believe I'm incapable of making life altering decisions for myself, and my mother thinks I'm possessed because I'm spending time around people who don't get hundred dollar bills handed to them every morning as a daily allowance. Why would I miss that life!”

“That's just it, Lydia. This is a life, altering, decision. And you're acting like it's no different than painting your nails black to see if your dad notices!”

“Is it?”

“Yes!”

“Why!”

“Wha- It . . . Just . . . Because! It just is!”

“Really? That's your line of logic? It just is?”

“Okay, kids,” Melissa cut in. “That's enough of that.”

“Will you please tell her!” Jackson entreated her.

“Tell me what?!” Lydia threw her hands up.

“Lydia, you don't know what you are going to do, and-”

“I don't need to know what I'm going to do on the thirteenth day of the seventh month from now in order to know what I'm going to do! I'm going to raise this child, and I'll do it alone if I have to.”

“How!”

“How are you going to live to be eighty! I don't know! I don't have the magic crystal ball of foresight locked in my hidden closet, okay!”

“Hey!” Melissa cut in, again. They both looked at her, slightly surprised; they had sort of forgotten they weren't alone. “Okay, so . . . to make sure I'm keeping up here. Lydia, you want to keep the baby, you're not giving it up for adoption, and you're willing to do this on your own.”

“Yes,” Lydia said, taking a sip of water and selecting a scone to nibble on to keep her mouth from running away from her. Again.

“Okay. Now, Jackson. You feel . . . you're worried that Lydia is going to have to give up her dreams and future plans if she keeps this baby.”

“Well, yeah,” he shifted in his seat.

“May I ask why?”

“I've heard it's not easy being a single mother and . . . . and I think she's biting off more than she can chew.”

“Okay,” Melissa nodded, gathering her thoughts. “You're right about one thing, Jackson. It's not easy being a single mother. Raising a child is hard work, and providing for that child can be just as hard if not harder. But,” she forestalled any protests from either of them. “I believe Lydia can handle it. Human beings are powerful creatures and we can accomplish pretty much anything we set our minds to.”

“Thank you,” Lydia inclined her head.

Jackson still looked on edge, but he nodded in understanding and concession.

“Lydia, is there anything you would like to discuss?” Melissa asked.

“When I say I'm willing to do this on my own, I mean that I'm not going to demand any help from you, Jackson. I'm not going to drag you into fatherhood if you don't want any part of it. And I understand. This is a huge step, and I understand if you don't want to take that step. Just . . . understand that I want to. No, I never really wanted to get pregnant before graduating, but now I am, and I can't go back, and I'm not going to back down.”

“That doesn't seem fair,” Jackson shook his head. “To you or the baby-”

“Forcing yourself to do something that you're not ready for or don't truly want to do is going to be the most unfair to all of us. I don't want you to wind up hating me for ruining your life; you have a future that you want to reach, and this is not on the path you want to follow. That's okay,” Lydia smiled genuinely.

Jackson nodded. “I . . .” he sighed. “Thank you.”

Lydia nodded, fighting tears as she stood and stepped towards him, arms open. He stood as well and hugged her, rubbing a tentative hand up and down her back.

Melissa smiled at the sweet scene, feeling her heart clench at the bittersweetness of it.

Parting they returned to their seats, looking much less burdened than they had starting out.

“Now, there is something that I think needs to be addressed; your relationship, where is that going to stand?”

They looked at each other, each trying to gauge what the other wants to hear.

“Okay, how about you both look at me,” Melissa smiled at their instant obedience. “Now, left hand up means end the relationship, right hand means work on it. No looking at each other.”

Both raised their left hands immediately.

“Good, you're both on the same page there,” Melissa nodded; that's what she'd expected.

Smiling shyly they laughed, lowering their hands as they glanced at each other.

“I just, really don't think it would work out,” Jackson was the first to speak.

“I . . . I don't think it would work out either,” Lydia changed what she was going to say at the last minute.

“So, mutual break up. But still cordial?” Melissa took note of Lydia's change of tack, but continued on.

“Of course,” Lydia nodded,

“Yeah, definitely,” Jackson nodded, taking a drink of water.

“Okay. Now, people are probably gonna figure out Jackson is the father, so . . . how do you want to deal with that?”

“Well, Lydia mentioned having me say that she had cheated on me, but I don't want to do that,” Jackson said.

Lydia was momentarily stunned speechless. “Really?”

“I want to be as honest as possible . . . for, everyone's sake.”

“That's a good policy,” Melissa agreed. "And I agree. You should both be honest, with each other and with those around you. Now, Lydia. Your mother knows that your pregnant?"

"Yeah, I told her Wednesday night. She, doesn't believe me though."

"Hmm, maybe I should talk to her . . ."

"Honestly, I don't think it would do much good," Lydia sighed. "She's stubborn - and she thinks I'm just, overreacting."

"I haven't told anyone . . . my grandma is gonna flog me when she finds out," Jackson winced, rubbing the back of his neck ruefully.

"Danny knows," Melissa pointed at Jackson.

"Yeah, I, uh, I'm actually kind of planning on, staying with him for a little while. Just, you know, just 'cause."

"That's good, get you a support system there. And if you boys need a place to crash . . . I'm sure Scott would be able to deal with you staying here for a night or two, if or when needed," Melissa smiled, nearly chuckling at the mental image she conjured of thinking about breaking that news to Scott. Her boy would probably flip out and call her crazy.

"Really?" Jackson was quite skeptical while warily grateful.

Taking a deep breath Melissa nodded. "I know what it's like to have to change your life unexpectedly. Now, it's not going to be a drastic change, hopefully - but it still is going to affect you, Jackson."

"I know. . . . I can handle it."

"I'm sure you can; and if you need help, ever, with anything, don't hesitate to come to me, or the Sheriff, or, anyone else you trust."

He nodded, listening intently to her, and surprisingly thinking of Derek as well.

"Now, Lydia. Alison knows, as well as Scott, Stiles, and Coach. And the Sheriff."

"And you, and Danny, and Jackson . . . Franscesca, unfortunately, figured it out . . . Derek . . . my Mom; although she's refusing to face reason. My dad doesn't know," she ended cheerily, laughing lightly. "I'm slightly terrified to tell him, honestly. I'm kind of afraid he'll try to sign me up for Teen Mom or something equally as ridiculous."

Melissa smiled, glad Lydia was managing to stay positive and cheerful. "You have a good support group too. And if you need help with your father . . . just, drop a line. I'm sure Stiles could probably bury him under statistics to dissuade him from forcing fame on you."

Lydia burst into laughter at that. "Oh, he probably could," she chuckled heartily. "You should've seen Danny at lunch on Wednesday. He looked like his head about to burst from all the information Stiles was listing off. Comparing this and that."

"You ate lunch with Stiles?" Jackson was shocked.

Lydia sobered, thinking oh crap.

Much to the women’s surprise he burst into laughter himself. "You, Queen of school, fashion, and society, Lydia Martin, ate lunch with Stiles Stiliniski? The geek of the geeks?"

"Stop it," Lydia smacked his arm, blushing lightly and luckily unnoticeably. "He's a nice kid."

"Yeah, if you like getting your ear chewed off. He never shuts up, ever."

"Well, he's been extremely helpful," Lydia crossed her arms, half ways tempted to sulk.

"Apple pie anyone?" Melissa decided to step in before she slapped Jackson herself. Stiles may run at the mouth an awful lot, but no one had a right to judge the boy. No one. Especially someone who didn't know half of what he'd lived through.

"Sounds lovely, I'll help," Lydia leaped at the chance to get a moment alone.

"Sure, I guess."

"Wonderful. You can get the silverware, and I'll cut up the pie while Lydia pulls the plates."

"So," Scott hugged Alison close to his side, walking in step with her towards the town's central park.

"So . . ." Alison sighed, not really knowing where to begin. "Thanks for calling."

"Hmm?"

"My mom and dad, to let us know . . ."

"Oh yeah, no problem. I - I didn't want you to get blindsided or something . . ."

"Thanks," she smiled up shyly, snuggling further into the warmth of him as a chill wind sprang up.

Breathing deeply Scott wrapped his arm tighter around her, content to leave her alone to gather her thoughts. He was just glad to be by her.

"Do you want to find a park bench maybe?" Alison asked.

"Sure," Scott easily changed directions, heading across the grass deeper into Beacon Hill's park. Reaching his destination he smiled, gesturing grandly to the secluded bench. "Welcome to the world's best place to think."

She smiled back brightly, settling into the cushioned alcove and marveling at the sturdy shelter above it that kept it dry. "This is amazing. I never knew it existed . . ."

"Not a lot of people do, honestly," Scott settled in on the opposite side of the bench with his back to the arm, braced against the side of the shelter.

Mirroring Scott, Alison shifted in her seat and sat with her legs straight out in front of her.

Extending his own legs to lay flat next to hers, he grinned at her. "See?"

"What?" she laughed.

"You're already relaxing."

She smiled, ducking her head shyly. "So how'd you find this place?"

His smile faded slightly. "I, hit a rough patch."

"Mmm," she rubbed her feet against his leg comfortingly.

Taking a deep breath he mentally braced himself. "I don't talk about it often . . . I don't really talk about it at all, actually . . ."

"You don't have to talk about it."

"I know. I just - I'm sick of feeling like I'm hiding from it. Like I've never faced it; never stared it in the face and just - faced the facts," okay, this was not going how Scott had wanted it to go.

"When you're dad left?" the question was so quiet he nearly didn't register it.

He was a bit stunned by the question, sitting mutely just staring at her.

Licking her lips she tried to smile. "Your mom sort of mentioned it, in passing. You were ten?"

"Yeah," he found his voice, swallowing. "Yeah. I was ten. Just got my first set of Lacrosse gear. I . . . don't know why he left," Scott whispered, prompting Alison to gently push his legs off the bench and slide over to burrow into his side, offering a modicum of comfort.

"I just don't understand. And . . . I don't think I ever will."

"I know what you mean. With what Kate," Alison stopped to try and make her voice stop shaking. "With . . . this - thing - with Kate."

Scott wrapped his arms around Alison, pulling her into his lap. "Just talk to me," he whispered. "You don't have to be strong, or brave, or cheerful . . . just be honest."

Alison sobbed, slipping her arms around Scott's neck as her body shook.

"Shhh," he began rocking them back and forth, rubbing a hand up and down her back.

"I don't even know my family! I thought we were just gun sellers. I mean, yeah, it can be a bit tiring, having to explain that my dad isn't a gangster and no I do not speak Italian, but it was normal! No one was dying, or being killed, or killing people! And now? I don't even know my own parents. And then . . . now, Kate . . . with what she's done . . . she's going to go to prison. If they don't lock her in an insane asylum. And the worst part is I hope she goes to prison! I don't want her to get an easy sentence, I don't want her to get released. I want her to go to prison, for what she did . . . what she did to this town, to me, to you, to Derek . . . his family.

"And that's another thing," she pulled back slightly, shoving her hair out of her face. "I shot, Derek. I shot him. Twice. With a bow and arrow. I tried to kill him. I was willing to killing him, to hunt him down, just because she told me that it would be a good thing if he wasn't alive anymore . . . and now? Now, I consider him a friend. Who am I? I don't know who I am!"

"Shh," he rocked her more as she buried her head in his shoulder while he thought. "You're smart."

"I shot Derek, I - I listened to Kate, I let her manipulate me!"

"Hey, she's your Aunt. Of course you trusted her. And you should, I mean . . ." he licked his lips, sighing. "It's not good to automatically not trust people."

"It's not good to automatically trust people either," came her muffled and teary retort.

Scott sat in silence for several minutes, sorting out the best way to address the situation. "Stiles wanted Derek dead too," he started.

"What?" she hiccupped.

"Right after I got bit by Peter . . . I didn't trust Derek. I thought he was the one who bit me, turned me into a monster - out of control, unable to think . . . he tried to help; tried to teach me. In the end it was Stiles who helped me find a way to control myself. Stiles really didn't trust Derek. He assumed Derek was the one who killed Laura, which is why we went out and dug her up. Got Derek arrested.

"Then Kate captured Derek . . . I didn't know Derek had been captured. All I knew was that I needed to find him and my phone was missing. Stiles . . . he asked me to let Derek die. I remember he said 'can't you just consider letting him die? for me?'."

"Why?"

"Stiles . . . he's kind of - possessive - of his circle. His dad, me, my mom . . . Lydia. Recently, I think he's come to include you in that circle. And I think he's come to accept Derek as well. Anyway, before he accepted Derek, he saw Derek as a threat. A, a challenge to our friendship. Derek was telling me to do one thing, Stiles wanted me to do another thing . . . it was like tug of war between the mentors type of thing. Stiles was scared he was going to lose me to Derek, so he felt threatened. And when he feels threatened, he doesn't like you, and if he doesn't like you he couldn't care less if you were dying, or captured, or in need of help . . ."

"Remind me to never get on his bad side," she murmured.

"Yeah," Scott laughed. "It's not pretty."

"Does Derek know?"

"I'm fairly certain Stiles' disdain for Derek was quite obvious; deliberately so, in fact."

"But now they're friends."

"And you and Stiles are friends too. Maybe not as strongly as Stiles and I, but he's known me longer, so . . ."

"Do you think Derek is . . .holding it against me? What I did?"

"I think if he was, he would've said something. Sure, he helped get Kate caught, but he just wants justice for his family. He wants the fight to end. I don't think he's looking for war, and . . ."

"And?" she prompted him.

"I think he knows how manipulative Kate can be," Scott said, thinking back to when he'd freed Derek in the basement and Derek started shouting that sixteen was to young to know what love was. "So I don't think he's going to hold it against you. It might take a while for him to trust you and your family-"

"With what he's been through, I wouldn't blame him if he never trusted us."

"Yeah, but that wouldn't be okay. I mean, you can't hang on to the past while living your life. You have to let go, let the wounds heal over; let time wash the pain away . . ."

"Speaking from experience?"

"Kind of, yeah."

"Have you ever gotten to talk to your dad? After he left, I mean."

"I haven't even seen him. I don't know where he is . . . he could be dead, for all I know."

"Is that easier, or harder, than seeing him, talking to him, but still not getting the answers you want?"

"If we talked and he didn't explain why he left?" he asked to clarify.

She nodded, wiping her face to dry the tears.

"I think it would be harder, honestly," he cradled her loosely in his arms, resting his cheek on the top of her head. "Why?"

"I've been thinking . . . with them extraditing Kate to here . . . I might be able to talk to her. But, do I want to talk to her? Even if I could, if I'd be allowed to. Do I really want to?"

"Do you think it would help?"

"Help with processing the fact that my mother and father are complete strangers to me that I know nothing about who have killed countless people, and probably a number of innocent people, and had no qualms about lying to me about that fact? And still haven't sat me down and told me the whole truth? I don't think so.

"Help me process the fact that my Aunt, who I saw, see - thought of - as my big sister is crazy, homicidal . . . insane."

"She . . . ."

"She what?"

"I was going to say she had her reasons, but that really only solidifies the fact that she's insane."

"She killed without caring whether or not the people she killed were murderers or not. And she killed a cop . . . I know, she's done a lot of horrible things, but that . . ."

"It proves that it's true," he finished for her. "She's no longer in possession of her morals . . ."

"Was she ever? or was she just a very good liar?" Alison whispered.

"No one is born a bad person. No one's born a good person. We're born choosers . . . it's the choices we make that define our path, our mind, our life . . . our souls."

"Lydia said pretty much the same thing when we talked Saturday night."

"Have a good talk?"

"Yeah . . . it just sucks - having to keep things from her. I can't exactly tell her all that's going on, after all. She's dealing with so much right now, I don't think telling her Were-wolves are real would go over well right now."

"Yeah, I can't imagine her handling it well. Right now. Maybe someday."

"I think she'd love it . . . maybe. I don't know. She's hard to figure sometimes."

"Yeah. A riddle wrapped in a puzzle in an enigma."

"Reminds me of someone else," Alison chuckled.

Chuckling with her Scott nodded. "You gonna be okay?"

She thought about the question, slowly nodding. "Yeah, I'm gonna be fine. The future holds a promise . . . even though the journey sucks right now, I can't give up. Not when tomorrow is going to be so much brighter," her voice was soft, but strong.

"Something Kate said?" Scott asked quietly.

Alison nodded. "Yeah. After I told her we were moving again. When I found out we were moving here, to be exact."

"Really?" Scott grinned.

Alison grinned along with him.

"So was she right?"

"Mm-hmm. Which feels odd to say, seeings how not to long after that I found out what the family business really is and that were-wolves are real."

"You know your parents love you, right?"

Pulling back to look him in the eye she pursed her lips. "It doesn't feel like that. I mean . . . I know they love me. But right now . . ."

"Your world is spinning."

"My up is down, right is left . . . which feels true on more than one level."

"How so?"

"My definition of right and wrong. They've undergone . . . extreme - renovation - the past few months."

"Yeah . . . I know what you mean."

"How so?"

"Derek killed Peter. I mean, I stood there and watched Derek slice his throat with his claws, and . . . I wasn't, upset, by it. Not really. I mean . . . I was upset, but for the wrong reason."

"What do you mean?"

" . . . Derek told me, there was a legend that . . ." he sighed. "There was a legend that spoke of a way to be cured of the bite. You had to kill the Wolf that bit you . . . When Derek killed Peter himself, he stole the chance for me to find out whether that was true or not."

"You want to be cured?" Alison was kind of shocked.

". . . not anymore. Not as much as I used to. I mean . . . I never asked for this. To be a Wolf, it's a responsibility, you know? Especially with being a true Alpha now, I just. I just wanted to be a teenager. Worrying about teenager stuff."

"I can understand that," Alison's phone chirped. "What? I thought I silenced you," she dug it out of her pocket. "It's from Dad. Wondering where I am, if I'm planning on going home for dinner . . ."

"You wanna go?"

"Not really. But I need to get home. I need to get this sorted out, and that means sitting down with Dad and talking it out with him. But thank you; thank you so much for this, Scott. For listening and -"

"I'm glad I could help," he said, smiling. Helping her stand he stood up himself and stretched. "I should head home myself . . . haven't seen mom today, so . . ."

"Thanks," she chastely kissed him on the cheek and hugged him tightly.

Hugging her just as tightly he kissed her on the nose. "Text me later?"

"'Kay," she hooked an arm through his. "Walk me?"

"Definitely," he grinned.

Walking in step with one another, they started off to the Argent's house.

While Lydia was talking with Jackson, and Scott was simultaneously taking with Alison, Stiles had gone home to find his dad in the kitchen humming along with the radio as he sliced up a pie.

"What have you done with my father, and how'd you make a pie?" Stiles dropped his Lacrosse gear below the coats on the wall.

"Melissa stopped by while you boys practiced," John smiled, dishing out two slices of the pie for himself, with two slices on another plate. "Pie?" he offered the second plate and a fork to his son.

"Could I ever say no?" Stiles accepted the offering, following his dad out to the couch to sit down side by side. "What happened to Lydia's bakery?"

"I took it to the station, and left it there . . . figured we don't need that many baked goods in the house," John shook his head. Man, that girl had made a lot.

"Yeah, I think it's a stress coping mechanism," Stiles took his first bite of pie, rolling his eyes at the deliciousness of it.

"Mm."

"Off work?" Stiles asked.

"For the rest of the evening, so long as no emergencies pop up. Dinner at Melissa's tonight."

"Awesome," Stiles punched the air. "It's been too long."

"Yeah, it has been too long. You know another thing we haven't done lately?"

"Slept for eight consecutive hours?" Stiles guessed.

John laughed, shaking his head. "Well, that, and - our book reading. Come on. There's gotta be one you've been dying to read with me."

"I know the perfect one,"' Stiles set his plate down on the coffee and raced off upstairs. Coming back down he plopped back onto his place on the couch.

Setting his empty plate next to Stiles' John accepted the book, looking over the front cover. "Sherlock Holmes, the Legend Begins. Death Cloud; two dead bodies. One unforgettable hero. The first teen series endorsed by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate. Sounds riveting."

"It is," Stiles grinned. "I think you'll really like it."

"You know me well, so I'm sure I will. We've got several hours before we'll head over to Melissa's, so . . ." he opened the book, settling in with Stiles practically glued to his side. Wrapping one arm around the youth's shoulders he cleared his throat, beginning to read. "The first time Matthew Arnett saw the cloud of death, it was floating out of the first-floor window of house near where he was living. . . "

John shut the book, sighing as he set it on the end table. "That was a good book."

"Told you you'd like it," Stiles was half asleep, comfortable in the warmth of his father's embrace.

"Stiles," John shook him lightly.

"Mm?"

"I want to talk to you about something."

"What?” Stiles sat up. “And if it's Lydia, dad, you don't have to worry about me.”

“Stiles -”

“No, Dad, I mean it - I know . . . I know I've - obsessed - over her in the past, but it's not like that anymore. We're just friends, and - I'm happy just being her friend.”

“That's good,” John nodded slowly, pleased. “I'm very glad to hear that Stiles. But that isn't what I was wanting to talk about.”

“It isn't?”

“How would you feel if Derek moved in with us?”

Stiles was speechless, mouth opening and closing silently.

John's brow furrowed in concern. After half a minute he was worried. “Now, don't freak out. It doesn't have to be permanent, I just-”

“Wha- why? Why would I freak out? THIS IS AWESOME!! When's he moving his stuff in?” Stiles found his voice.

Blinking rapidly John did a double take. “What?”

“Well, I mean, I know he doesn't have a lot but he's gotta own more than two pairs of jeans and five shirts. When's he moving the stuff out of the Hale House to here?”

“You're okay with this?”

“Yeah I'm okay with this, why wouldn't I be?”

“Well, it's just . . . you two haven't really gotten along the best at times.”

“ . . . you mean, when Scott and I got him arrested and he was all 'grr - I'm a lone wolf, hear me howl'? I mean, yeah, there were a couple differences of opinion -”

John chuckled. “Yeah, I'll bet there were. You two have the same brand of stubbornness ingrained in your souls.”

Stiles smiled ruefully. “Kindred spirits. Two peas in a pod. Odd how that can make one's hackles go up at first acquaintance, huh?”

“Not that odd,” John shook his head. “Familiarity breeds contempt. Two bulls in the same pen, type of thing.”

“Yeah.”

“So you're cool with it?”

“Yeah. I mean, it'll be an adjustment at first - this was supposed to be temporary - but . . . it'll be like adopting.”

“Adopting?”

“Well, like being adopted I guess. Learning to share with two instead of just one other person.”

“Mm-hmm,” John smiled proudly.

“What?”

“I'm proud of you. You and Scott; the way you're helping people, accepting people for who they are, not what they ought to be or what you think they ought to be.”

Stiles shrugged self-consciously.

“You'll be seventeen soon. Nearly eighteen. And I gotta say, I'm proud of the young man you've become.”

“Aww, dad, shut up. You're gonna make me turn invisible,” Stiles blushed.

John laughed at that, standing up. Scrubbing a hand over Stiles scalp he smiled when the boy ducked away from him. Collecting the dishes he took them to the kitchen and loaded them into the dishwasher, checking the clock. “Time to go.”

“I'm gonna grab my laptop,” Stiles bounded up the stairs, coming back down seconds later with his backpack over his shoulder.

Standing beside the door he practically vibrated with energy while waiting for his dad to collect his keys and get his jacket on.

“Come on kiddo," John wrapped an arm around Stiles shoulders, locking the door behind them.

“Hey mom, I'm home!” Scott shut the door, hanging his jacket up and inhaling deeply. Breathing out, he sighed with a smile. She'd been baking. “What're you making?”

“Dinner; dessert's already done,” she greeted him with a smile as he entered the kitchen.

“Who's coming for dinner?” he asked, surveying the array of dishes and utensils spread out over the counter space.

“The Stilinski's, and I think Derek is tagging along . . . you wanna call him and make sure?”

“Sure,” Scott snagged the house phone, dialing Derek's cell.

“Hey Scott.”

“Hey Derek,” Scott returned the greeting. “Mom was wondering if you would want to come over for dinner tonight?”

Derek hesitated, looking at the boxes he had tucked in his trunk. Then again, there would plenty of time to unpack later. “Sounds wonderful. What time?”

“Whenever you get here,” Scott told him, smiling. Exchanging farewells he returned the phone to its cradle. “He's coming.”

“Good,” she tucked the last dish of food into the oven to bake and took off her apron. “Wanna help me clean up?”

“Sure thing," he set about collecting the dishes and rinsing them, letting his mom load them into the washer.

Settling the last dish in the wrack Melissa shut the machine and turned it on, pulling Scott into a hug. "Thanks sweetie."

"No problem," he hugged her back. "How did the talk go?"

"Pretty well, actually," Melissa smiled thinking of the two rather awkward teens sitting next to each other eating pie and making small talk. "They're back to being civil to one another, and they got their heads back on straight . . . they'll be fine. But Lydia is gonna need a lot of help."

"Yeah, we'll be there for her."

"I know you will. How'd the talk with Alison go?" she rubbed his back as he pulled out of the hug and then hoisted himself up to sit on the counter.

"Pretty good."

"Do you wanna talk about it?" she cleared a space beside him and, with his help, hoisted herself up to sit next to him.

He shrugged, thinking. "She's feeling kind of lost. Like she doesn't know herself, doesn't know her family . . ."

"That's understandable," Melissa nodded. Wrapping an arm around Scott she squeezed comfortingly. "You know, I'm really proud of you Scott."

Scott looked at her questioningly.

"You've really grown up in the past couple years. It happened a little fast, in my opinion, but I'm proud of who you've become. You look after your friends, you keep the town safe - not something every teenager can say they do - and you've really rallied to help Lydia and Alison get through these storms they're facing. And I'm proud of that. I'm proud of you. You and Stiles, both."

He ducked his head, smiling. "Thanks, Mom."

She sighed happily and rested her head on his shoulder. "Just don't forget that you're still a teenager. And I'm here for you, no matter how old you get."

"I know," he slipped an arm around her, resting his head on her head. "You've always been there; and I know you always will be."

"Good," she rubbed a hand up and down his arm. "Oh . . . and I extended an open invitation to Jackson and Danny, should they ever need to place to crash."

"What?" Scott's face was the picture she had predicted it would be. "Why?"

"Because, Jackson doesn't have a lot of people in his life that aren't looking down their noses at him, and no I'm not including you in the list of problem people. I think it's good for them both, and especially for Jackson, to know that they're not alone. He's not alone, and there are havens of safety available to him. Okay?"

Taking a deep breath he nodded slowly. "Okay. But he's not moving in right?"

"Heavens no, I'd wind up smacking him twenty times a day if he moved into this house, the attitude he has."

Scott laughed. "Yeah, you probably would."

Alison lay on her stomach, head pillowed on her arms as she listened to her iPod. Dinner was being made by her parents, and she distantly thought that she should go down and just, get it over with, but another part of her didn't want to hear their excuses for not telling her. For not trusting her. For not believing she could handle it. For wanting to keep her in the dark.

Thoughts of Scott kept drifting through her mind, making her smile softly. He was such a sweet person. Always ready to help, to be there, no matter what. So unlike anything she had been led to expect from a Were-Wolf. Then again Scott was a True Alpha; maybe that was it. But then Derek was a born Were-Wolf and he, while initially cold and distant, was proving to be just as kind. More guarded, yes, but that was understandable.

Sighing, she turned the volume up as Miley Cyrus' Robot came on.

She wasn't anybody's robot. But they were all trying to make her feel like a robot. At least, that's how it felt. They only told her what they thought she needed to know. Like she was five years old. Censuring their history in order to keep her innocence intact. How could they think her innocence was intact enough to save? She'd helped Kate nearly kill Derek.

She'd watched Kate torture Derek, and not done anything.

Was she still a good person?

She'd been misguided, true, but shouldn't there be a line that she was unwilling to cross. What made Were-Wolves so monstrous and Hunters so righteous?

"Hey Alison," the bed dipped as her dad sat beside her.

She paused the music, noting that Robot was long over and The Rasmus' Dead Promises was now playing. Dead promises . . . how fitting.

"How are you doing?" he gently brushed her hair out of her face, searching her expression.

"Do you remember when I was seven," she took her ear buds out, not looking at his face. "I had a really bad nightmare . . . I couldn't sleep with the light off for weeks after that night. In order to help me get over my fear, you started me in archery lessons. And you let me keep my bow beside my bed."

"I remember that," he nodded. "You had a quiver of ten arrows."

"A magic quiver, that would never run out so I'd never have to be afraid again," she smiled happily at the memory. "The dream . . . it was about a monster. A monster in the house that tried to kill mom, then came after me when I screamed at it to stop."

He remained quiet, his expression guarded.

"That wasn't a dream, was it?" she finally looked at him. "Daddy?"

He sighed, closing his eyes. "No. No, that wasn't a dream."

"I didn't sleep walk and cut myself on a sharp edge of metal in the garage?" she pulled up her sleeve to show a thin white line running up her left arm and over her shoulder.

"You turned and ran," he told her. "I told you to go to your room, and you turned and ran as fast as you could . . . I was out of bullets, getting more from the box in our room when I heard you scream. My heart stopped, Alison, I thought . . . I thought it had killed you. I came out into the hallway and found it leaning over your still body, and I just about died."

"You killed it."

"I had to; it was trying to kill us, Alison, I-"

"Was the Hale pack trying to kill us?" she challenged.

"Alison, I had nothing to do with that. Your mother and I had nothing to do with that fire."

"But you didn't investigate it, did you? You didn't even consider it worth looking into. They were Were-Wolves, why should their deaths be investigated? Just saves you ammunition and midnight burials in the woods, right?"

"Alison -"

"You were more than ready to kill Scott, and you didn't even know if he was the one killing."

"He was a beta, all betas have Alphas, and they obey their Alpha."

"If you had known Scott and Derek were trying to stop Peter, would you have helped them? Or would you have just hunted them?"

He swallowed. "Scott and Derek . . . they're unlike any other Were-Wolves I've met-"

"How many have you met?"

He sighed, exasperated.

"How many have you talked to? Just chatted with. Asked for help. Worked alongside-"

"They're monsters, Alison! We keep people safe, okay?"

"This time, we were the monsters!" she spat back. "We hunt those who hunt us. Who makes sure we follow the code?"

"We hold each other accountable-"

"Yeah, that worked wonderfully. Did you actually think Kate hadn't done anything, or were you just protecting your sister?"

"Alison!" Victoria's sharp voice snapped from the doorway. "That is-"

"Victoria, please. She has a right to know," Chris stopped her, standing.

"Do I? Do I really have a right to know? Because all you've been doing is treating me like I'm seven years old afraid of my nightmares-"

"You think you're the only one who was terrified? You think I lied? How do you think you would have handled it if I woke you up next to a wolf's corpse and proceeded to tell you that monsters were real?! That one nearly bit your mother and very nearly killed you!" his voice started growing louder

"So you didn't lie?!" she got up to stand face to face to him.

"I was teaching you! Why do you think I gave you lessons in archery? To chase away your nightmares? Who chased away mine? When I woke up night after night terrified you'd been killed while I slept! That thing nearly broke your neck! And you're lucky the claws didn't go deeper than they had, else you would have probably turned!" he was yelling now.

"And what would you have done then!" she screamed. "If I turned into a 'monster'! What would you have done? Killed me! Just, written me off as a lost cause and cut me in half!"

He turned white at that, stumbling back until he hit the bed and sat down hard. "Don't say that."

"Why?! Is it true? Is that really what you would have done!"

He ran a hand over his face, bending over to brace his elbows on his knees. "How would you have known to control it?"

"Scott learned. Stiles taught him to control it."

"Don't be ridiculous, Peter taught him-" Victoria started.

"No," Alison rounded on her mother. "Stiles taught him. Scott told me himself. He said that Stiles taught him how to control it. How could Stiles, without any of the hunter’s knowledge of Were-Wolves, have known how to teach him to control it?"

"I don't know, Alison," Chris sighed.

"We don't know how it works-" Victoria said primly.

"And whose fault is that?" Alison spat. "We call them the monsters, and yet we know nothing of them! All we know is that they turn on the full moon, if they don't learn to control it they go on killing sprees, and there are three types. Alpha, Beta, Omega. That's it!"

"Well, it's not like they've been the most forthcoming of species to us," Chris argued.

"Oh, I wonder why?"

"Alison, stop it!" Victoria barked. "That is enough!"

"Alison," Chris's quiet voice stayed her sharp retort. "I'm sorry."

"Chris!"

"No, Victoria . . . she's right. We don't know anything about them. We have a code that has been passed down through generations, a vague idea of how to find them, we know how to kill them, and we know that when they're out of control, they are nothing but mindless, blood thirsty, unstoppable, beasts. We don't know what tea they like, or their favourite color, or even if they can see color. For all we know they could be color blind just like dogs. And that gap of knowledge is our fault."

"It is?" Alison was shocked.

"The truth is, our job is not an exact science. When we find a threat, we eliminate it. End of story. Now, sometimes that entails wiping out a pack. And, okay - that might be the wrong path to take, but it's the only path we know."

"Then look for another. Find another way, a better way," Alison knelt in front of him.

"How?"

"Ask? Learn from Scott, from Derek. Learn from our past mistakes."

"Alison-" Victoria's voice had an edge. "We are the decision makers," she reminded her daughter of the matriarchal hierarchy of the Hunter culture.

"Then listen to me!" Alison shouted. "And teach me."

"You are not ready to learn," Victoria intoned. "And supper is getting cold. Go wash up. This discussion is over."

Watching her mother walk away Alison's eyes slid closed as she felt her heart clench.

"Hey," a warm hand cupped her cheek.

She opened her eyes to see her father's eyes glistening, mirroring her own.

With a quick glance at the door as he heard his wife descending the stairs he swallowed. "Your mother is not the only Matriarch, Alison. And . . . not all of us agree with the flippant conduct of our society."

His words lit a spark of hope in her.

"But supper is getting cold, so . . ."

"Make me a promise?" Alison asked.

"What?"

"If I ask you a question - you answer it honestly?"

Chris licked his lips, glancing at the door again as he debated with himself. Victoria would not be happy, and he knew that he shouldn't - he knew what questions she would be asking - but at the same time . . . he knew that she needed to know. For her own safety. If she was going to be spending so much time around Scott, then she needed to know how to keep herself safe. "I promise," he whispered, kissing her forehead. "Now listen to your mother. Go wash up."

She hugged him around the neck and kissed his cheek. "Thank you, Daddy."

"Coming!" Scott called as a knock sounded on the door. Getting up from the couch he sock surfed down the hallway to the door, opening it. "Sheriff, Stiles!" Scott bear hugged his friend.

"Scotty!" Stiles crowed back, grinning as his dad shook his head and went into the house.

"I brought my laptop, so we can watch Sanctuary after supper," Stiles let Scott drag him inside, plopping his backpack beneath the coat rack. "Mmm, it smells delicious."

"You have no idea," Scott inhaled with his super senses, mouth-watering. Another knock on the door made him turn back and open it eagerly "Hey Derek!"

Derek smiled a greeting, stepping inside somewhat hesitantly.

"Hey you!" Stiles barreled into him. "Did you tell Scott?"

"Tell me what?" Scott's brow furrowed in confusion.

Derek sighed long-sufferingly and rolled his eyes. "How did I know the news was going to make you hyper?"

"You have grown to know me well, now seriously did you -"

"No, I haven't told him."

"Told me what, guys?"

"Derek's gonna move out of the Hale House in with us."

"You and your dad?" Scott's jaw dropped of its own accord. "That's great!"

"You really think so?" Derek sounded, wary.

"Yeah! Man, this is awesome!"

"You know the house is bigger than just the front room," Melissa called from the kitchen.

"Yeah, mom."

"Coming!"

The three young men made their way to the kitchen, with Scott and Stiles heading to the table to set out the places while Melissa checked that the meat was done and John got out glasses and filled them with water.

"Anybody want ice?" John asked.

"Nah," Scott and Stiles spoke in sync.

"No thank you," Derek slid his jacket off, not sure where to put it.

"Just throw it on the counter there is fine," Melissa pointed to where a couple of Scott's jackets were already piled. "And hi," she greeted him warmly, pulling the meat out carefully and setting it on the stove top.

"Hi."

"I'm glad to see you - haven't really gotten a chance to chat lately."

"Yeah, things have been a little hectic," Derek gravitated towards her as John and the two boys fell into discussing Lacrosse and several upcoming games.

"Not supernatural crisis hectic, thank heavens. Good to hear that Kate got caught," she selected a spatula and loosened up the meat to make sure it would be easier to serve out. Grabbing a hot pad she lifted the lid on a pan of green beans, checking them.

Derek nodded, leaning against the counter as he watched her move around collecting the butter and salt and various serving utensils. "It's a relief."

"I'll bet it is," she smiled kindly. "What bounty hunters caught her? They weren't mentioned in any of the news reports by name."

"They prefer to work anonymously. It's safer for them, better if criminals or potential criminals don't know what they look like, or what their names are."

"Smart. Friends of yours?" she moved the dishes to the table, smiling her thanks when Derek grabbed the butter and salt and utensils that she had gathered.

"I met them in New York. Laura knew them from a school thing . . . kept in touch as pretty good friends," he sat down opposite Scott and Stiles, with Melissa on his left and the Sheriff on his right.

"Mm, New York. I love that city. Never actually been there, so who knows - I might hate it in real life, but I just love the idea of it. The bustling life, the taxis . . . the shows set in New York are wonderfully done," she started serving out the food.

"The UnUsuals," Stiles said, nodding emphatically.

"What?" Derek sent him a puzzled look.

“The UnUsuals. It's a tv show,” he elaborated. “Stars Jeremy Renner, and . . . Joshua Close, I think his name is . . . can't remember what her name - oh, Amber Tamberlyn, that's it. It's about this precinct of detectives in New York. Walsh, Casey, Eddie Alverez, Eric Delahoy, Leo Banks, Cole, Beaumont . . .”

“He loves the show, if you can't tell,” John said with a fond smile.

“It was only ten episodes long, which sucks; they didn't even wrap it up properly.”

“White Collar is based in New York too,” Scott joined in.

“Oh, I love that show,” Melissa nodded, smiling. “FBI Agent Peter Burke. He's awesome.”

“Mm-hmm,” Stiles agreed.

“Pick your poison,” John picked up Stiles' plate and gestured to the meat.

“Bella donna,” Scott said with a smile.

“Anything in the opium family,” Stiles retorted.

“What?” John looked vaguely concerned, though he seemed more amused than anything else.

“Dark Angel. Jessica Alba, Michael Weatherly, Jensen Ackles, Richard Gun, John Savage, Kevin Durand. You know Michael Weatherly and Robin Dunne look remarkably similar?”

“I don't even know who you're talking about,” John motioned for him to pick.

Sighing dramatically Stiles pointed at one, accepting his plate back to fill with vegetables and mashed potatoes. “Michael Weatherly plays Logan Cale, AKA Eyes Only in Dark Angel. He also plays Tony DeNozo in NCIS. Robin Dunne plays Robin Hood in Beyond Sherwood Forest, he's the technician from Space Milkshake, and he plays William Zimmerman in Sanctuary.”

“NCIS I know; Gibbs is my favourite,” Melissa passed the butter to Derek as he made a pool out of his mashed potatoes.

“I liked Abby's character,” Derek added in.

“The actress who plays her has an actual forensic science degree. And most of those tattoos are real,” Stiles started cutting his meat.

Derek smiled, shaking his head with a soft laugh.

“What?” Stiles sounded almost insulted.

“Don't ever change, Stiles. Seriously; I'm not being facetious.”

“Fa-what-sy?” Stiles did a double take.

“Fa-ce-tious. You don't know what that means?” Derek was slightly surprised.

“I don't even know how to spell it,” the boy snorted.

“I have heard it somewhere, but I can't remember where . . .” Scott's brow was furrowed in trying to recall it.

“Me,” Melissa laughed. “I thought you knew what it meant?”

“Nope,” they spoke and shook their heads in sync.

“I do,” John said smugly.

“Well of course you do. But tell me, what does it mean? And how do you spell it?” Stiles was intrigued.

“F-a-c-e-t-i-o-u-s. It means to treat a serious situation with deliberate flippancy or irreverence.”

“Really?”

“Don't believe me look it up,” Derek said with a smirk. “Laura was good with words. She taught me quite a bit of her vocabulary, though I don't get much opportunity to use a lot of the words.”

“I once found a whole page of words and definitions that had been taken out of the Webster dictionary,” Scott said.

“Yeah, I remember that,” Stiles grinned. “Some of them were really awesome, like resistentialism, which means the spiteful behavior displayed by inanimate objects. Then there was lunting - walking around with a pipe in your mouth. Defenestration means to throw a person or object out of a window. Hugger-mugger is kind of like 'sneaking', acting secretively. Crapulous is feeling ill due to excessive eating or drinking. Cockalorum is a hoot - it means a little man with a high opinion of himself. Then of course there's lumming, which is heavy raining. One of my favourites is slubberdegullion - a slovenly, slobbery person.”

“You should start a trivia group,” Derek spoke up.

“Yeah, right.”

“No, seriously. If I have to open a restaurant, you have to start a trivia group. No arguments.”

“Mm-hmm, I'll do it as soon as I see the deed to a building in your hands.”

Dinner continued on with jovial conversation for the rest of the evening as they all ate their fill and then moved to the living room to settle before dessert was served. Melissa and John sat by the windows looking out over the front yard while Stiles and Scott curled up with Stiles' laptop to watch Sanctuary.

Noting that Derek didn't seem to be doing anything Stiles convinced him to join their private viewing, ensconcing himself between the two Wolves with a grin.

“Now I'm gonna fall asleep, and no one wake me. I got woken up way to early this morning,” he glared at Scott.

“I have already apologized for that,” Scott rolled his eyes. “Now shush.”

Twisting slightly Stiles dug his vibrating phone out of his pocket, smiling when he saw it was Lydia.

“Wanna pause it?” Scott offered.

“Dude, it's Tuesday, I've seen this a hundred times. I'll probably just quote it word for word anyway. You two watch it,” he spoke without looking up from his phone.

Scott and Derek shared a glance and simultaneously rolled their eyes before settling in to watch the episode.

'Hey. So, things are semi-sorted with Jackson. How are you?'

'Good. At Scott's with Derek and Dad. Define semi-sorted.' he replied.

'Well, we're acting civil again, and I don't think he's freaking out as badly.'

'But . . . ' he prompted.

'I was hoping for something a little more concrete than just, yeah okay we'll break up and stay friends, I believe you when you say you don't need to help.'

'For his sake or your sake?'

'His.' was her instant reply.

'Do you know a lawyer?'

'My parents did get divorced, so, yeah. I know a lawyer. I know two, actually, but it's just the one that I have the contact details for. Paul C.J. Green.'

'I'd set up a time to talk with him and get his opinion on whether or not a contract of no responsibility is applicable or adaptable to fit your needs, then broach the subject with Jackson.'

'That's a good idea . . .' 'Thanks'

'I live to help.' he felt his eyes growing tired as Will and Magnus argued on the laptop and the warmth from both sides seeped into his bones. 'I'll warn you now, I might fall asleep on you.'

'Mm. Not sleep well?'

'I stayed up late, researching, then Scott woke me up to tell me that Kate got caught.'

'Mmm. What time did he wake you?'

'Oh, around five thirty/six o'clock . . . honestly it's a little blurry.'

'I'll bet. I'm surprised he's still alive. When people wake me up that early they tend to get beheaded. I'm a night owl myself.'

'Same here. About the night owl. And I do tend to get grouchy when I'm woken early, but Scott's reached a point where he is unfazed by my wrath.'

'Ah. By the way, I found A Hero Comes Home on youtube.'

'HOW'D YOU LIKE IT?'

'I LOVE IT.'

'It's awesome isn't it?'

'SO AWESOME. THANKYOU FOR COMPLETING MY LIFE.'

'Anytime. Hey, have you seen Sanctuary?'

'Don't think I've heard of it.'

'What is it with you rich people and not knowing the good pop culture, cult classic material? Tell me you've seen Firefly.'

'They made a movie for that right?'

'YES. So you're not completely hopeless. I can work with this.'

She replied with a simple 'LOL'.

'Mal is awesome.' he sent.

'Yeah he is. River is probably my favourite character.'

'River is no. 1. Mal is second, then Jane, Wash, Kaylee, Zoey, Inara, Book, and of course the Serenity.' He yawned widely.

'Not Simon?' she teased.

'Oh bugger, I forgot about Simon. Hmmmm . . . he'd be between Zoey and Inara I guess . . . I don't know, I've never really sat down and sorted it out before this.'

'Ah. What other shows do you like?'

'White Collar, the UnUsuals, Firefly, the Pretender, Sherlock, Sanctuary, Crusoe, those are all in no particular order.'

'Have you ever seen a show called Adventures, Inc.?' she asked.

It took him a moment to register that she'd replied, his eyes growing heavy as the heat and full stomach created the perfect sleeping conditions. 'Never heard of it.'

'What? You haven't heard of Adventures, Inc.? Somebody give me a medal, I found a tv show that Stiles Stilinski hasn't seen before.'

'. . . .' came a minute later from her. 'Stiles.' 'Stilinski.' '. . . . you fell asleep didn't you?' ':D sleep well, Stiles. And thank you.'

An hour later John was helping Melissa unload the dish washer in order to load it back up with dinner's dishes while Scott and Derek set about getting off the couch without waking Stiles' still form.

Maneuvering carefully, the two settled him horizontally on it, successfully avoiding rousing him. Grabbing an afghan Scott tucked it around his friend and then tucked Stiles' laptop away in its satchel. "How'd you like the show?" he asked Derek.

"It was good. I'd like to watch more of it."

"Stiles owns the whole boxed set of four seasons - he ripped it to his laptop in order to be more mobile with it, since we have so many sleep overs . . . he doesn't want the discs getting banged up. Or the box. It's a pretty awesome box."

Derek chuckled. "I'll see if he'll let me borrow it," he followed his Alpha into the kitchen.

"Yeah, he'll be fine with it. He'll read you nine yards of 'be careful with my possessions' but really he's totally okay with it."

"He's protective," Derek nodded, understanding how that worked as he was the same way.

"You two will get along fine. Well, three, I guess."

"You're really okay with this? I should have asked first . . ."

"Derek, it's fine. Seriously, you're living your own life, you don't need my permission to make a decision," Scott assured him.

"You're my alpha."

"Yes . . . and Stiles is part of my pack. He's human, yeah, but . . ."

"He's part of the pack."

"Totally. And because he's human, I think it's a good idea to have someone closer to protect him. With all the stuff that's happened . . . sure, it's a lull right now, but that's just it - it's a lull. And sooner or later, it'll be over."

"You can handle it," Derek assured him, confident in his Alpha.

"I have good friends," Scott said with a smile.

"You won't be handling it alone," Melissa spoke up.

"I won't be trying to," Scott reassured her. "Anyway, I think it's a good idea."

"I'll be in town . . . should something happen with Kate - it's safer to be near more people."

"She's in custody; I don't think even she is crazy enough to break out of federal custody."

"Yeah," Derek fell silent.

"I'm not discounting the worry . . . I just . . . she wouldn't be that crazy. Would she?"

"She's a fanatic. I don't think there's anyone who could know what lengths she'll go to. But there's no point in borrowing trouble. And I need to sleep," Derek picked up his jacket. "That was a delicious dinner, Mrs. McCall. Thank you for having me."

"Come around any time," she hugged him with a smile on her face. "Seriously. I'm happy to listen, talk, just ignore you're here and leave you alone. Whatever is needed."

"Thank you."

"Drive safe. See you later," she waved, watching him walk to his car. "I think this'll work well."

"Yeah," John came up beside her, sliding his jacket on. "Would you mind-"

"I'll wake him up in time to get home and change," she smiled fondly. "I work the mid-shift tomorrow, so it won't be a problem."

"Thank you," he smiled gratefully.

"And hey," she comfortingly laid a hand on his shoulder. "Anytime you need a cup of coffee and a listening ear, you know where to find me."

"Back at you," he smiled, hugging her briefly. "See you later. See ya Scott!"

"See you!" Scott waved wildly, a little hyper from his own experience of not sleeping the night before. "Thanks for letting Stiles stay."

"Don't wake him up early," John levelled a teasing look at him.

"I won't," Scott grinned sheepishly. "Thanks for eating with us. And Sheriff?"

"Yeah Scott?" John paused with his hand on the car.

"Thanks, for giving Derek a home. I know things haven't been . . . smooth. Or normal. But . . ."

"He's a good person. He's just scarred from life; doesn't mean he deserves to live out in the cold."

"Yeah. Thanks."

"No need to thank me, Scott. You just remember something for me."

"What?"

"No one deserves to be judged on one action alone. There are multiple facets to every story . . . even Jackson's."

Scott was a little thrown by the mention of Jackson, but he nodded. "I understand." And really, he did. "We practiced Lacrosse with him and Danny this afternoon."

"Really? Good. Get that olive branch out there."

"It was Stiles' idea," Scott pointed out.

"Yeah, he thinks fast. You know, I'm really proud of you two - the way you've handled what you've had to handle."

"Thanks. You're not the first person to say that."

"Yeah, she's a good woman," John smiled knowingly

"Best mom in the world. But, I'd best be getting to bed. Full moons are not conducive to full night of sleep."

"Take care, Scott."

"Keep safe," Scott re-entered the house, shutting and locking the door.

Hugging his mom again and bidding her good night he retrieved his phone from where it had been charging and smiled when he saw a handful of texts from Alison. He walked to his room while reading them.

'You're probably eating dinner, but hey.'

'I talked to mom and dad. More like just with Dad; mom was a spectator.'

'I kind of snapped.'

'I might have screamed at them.'

'There's something you don't know.'

He frowned in concern at the last three, quickly opening a reply message window. 'Hey, I'm here. What's up, and what is it?'

'Hey you,' was her quick response.

'Hey yourself.' 'Do you need me to come over?'

'. . . I don't think that would help matters with mom . . . but thank you for offering.'

'I'm here for you, just tell me what you need.'

'A straight jacket?' she joked.

'Tight hug.' he counter offered.

' . . . .' 'Could you come over? I know it's late and I know you didn't sleep well last night, but, I really don't want to be alone right now.'

'I'm on my way.' He opened his window and tucked his phone in his pocket, grabbing a jacket out of his closet. Glancing at the clock he saw it was only just past 10:30. Hesitating he pursed his lips and pulled a sheet of paper out of the nearest note book, writing a quick note to explain he had gone to check on Allison after a fight with her parents that didn't end well, just in case his mom came to check on him before he got back.

That done he slipped out the window, dropping to the ground and landing on all fours. Standing he brushed himself off, then set off for Allison's house.

Five minutes later he was climbing to Allison's window, listening intently to make sure she was alone before tapping on the glass quietly.

She was at the window instantly, unlocking and opening it for him.

Slipping inside he shut the window, pulled the blind, and then pulled her into a tight hug.

She melted into his embrace, breathing shakily as she buried her face in the crook of his neck.

"What happened?" he whispered.

"I think dad is rebelling against mom, to help me," her voice shook as she spoke, her eyes wet with tear tracks running down her cheeks. "Dinner was horrible. Stilted, awkward; you could practically butter your bread with tension if you'd wanted to."

"Talk didn't go well?" he rocked her back and forth, running a hand up and down her back soothingly.

"No . . ." she sighed. "I need to tell you something," she pulled back lightly, moving so she was standing beside him, her arm wrapped around his waist. He kept an around her shoulders, brushing her cheeks gently with his other hand.

Walking to the bed she slipped out from under his arm, sitting with her back to the head board. Scott sat near the foot of the bed directly in front of her.

"Whatever it is, you can tell me."

"I've been attacked by a Were-Wolf before," she spoke quietly so her parents wouldn't hear, but he heard her fine.

"What? When?"

"When I was seven. I . . . they told me it was a nightmare. That I had been sleep walking, gotten into the garage and then scraped myself on a sharp piece of metal," she rubbed her shoulder, the scar hidden under the jacket she was wearing over her pajamas.

"It wasn't a nightmare," Scott guessed.

She shook her head. "No. It wasn't. But my parents told me it was. They convinced me it was just a dream. What else have they lied about? What, are the good dreams real to? How much have they hidden?"

"Hey," he moved to sit beside her.

She leaned on him, snuggling into the warmth as he wrapped his arms around her.

"It's hard, to trust someone when they've lied to you. I . . . I haven't really ever experienced that - not on the level that you have - but I understand how it can shake your trust," he comforted her.

"More like shatter it. I don't even know if dad's serious about the other hunters not being like Mom. Maybe he's just leading me along to keep me enthralled and prevent me from running away."

"Would you?"

"Would I what?"

"Run away," he clarified.

"I . . . I don't know. It would depend, I guess," she admitted.

"On what?"

"A lot of things. If they continue to hunt innocent Wolves; refuse to take responsibility for Kate's actions. Try to keep her out of prison. Help her escape."

Scott felt his heart leap. "You think they'd help her escape?"

"I honestly don't know," she shook her head. "If they thought she was going to expose them, I guess they might."

"To protect themselves," he nodded. That made sense. "But nobody would listen to her; they'd just write it off as further proof she's insane."

"Yeah, and if someone was crazy enough to listen long enough to test the theory by poisoning you or Derek with Wolf's Bane to see what happened? It could expose the entire community of Wolves, and Hunters."

"We don't have to worry about that right now," he shushed her. He could tell the topic was upsetting her; he needed to find a way to calm her down. "We'll face it if it becomes an issue. Until then, we can breathe."

"And when we can't breathe anymore?" she asked, shifting so she could look him in the eye.

"We'll hold our breath and deal with whatever problem we're faced with first," he smiled reassuringly.

She studied him intently for a moment, then relaxed and laid her head on his chest, listening to his steady heartbeat. "Thank you," she whispered.

"You want me to stay with you?" he asked, resting his cheek on the top of her head and rocking them back and forth gently.

"I don't want you to get in trouble with your mom," she yawned widely, eyes heavy.

"I'll stay until you're asleep," he promised, gently shifting her so he could lift the blankets and help her slide under them.

"You're the sweetest person I've ever met," she murmured sleepily.

"You need to get out more," he whispered softly, making her laugh and smack him.

"I think it's you who needs to get out more," she yawned, slipping her jacket off and pulling the covers up to her chin.

Tucking her in lightly he settled on the bed directly behind her, sitting with his back to the bed board as he listened to her heart rate and breathing even out. He stayed until he was certain she was asleep and not going to wake up; before slipping out of the window and closing it though he couldn't lock it. Leaping to the ground carefully he jogged home

Jumping to his own window he nearly fell off the sill when the window opened apparently of its own free will.

"You are lucky you left a note, young man. Otherwise I would've called Derek."

He laid a hand on his heart, breathing deeply. "Hey mom."

"Hey son," she returned the greeting with a smile. "Did I scare you?"

"I wasn't expecting that," he admitted, climbing inside.

"I wasn't expecting to come check on an empty room. Allison alright? You weren't gone long."

Looking at the clock he saw only forty minutes had passed. "Yeah, she's fine. Things between her and her parents are tense right now . . . she had a little trouble going to sleep."

"Mmm," Melissa hugged him. "I'm glad you take care of your friends. Now," her voice took a stern tone. "Take care of yourself and go to bed. You, are still a growing teenage boy - Were-Wolf or not you need your sleep."

"No argument from me," he yawned widely, smiling at her.

"Good," she kissed his forehead and bid him good night, shutting his door behind her. She smiled to herself, feeling proud of Scott - even if she was a little worried about him.

Grabbing a spare pillow and a heavier blanket from her room she descended the stairs and checked on Stiles one last time, tucking him in and sliding the pillow under his head to spare his neck. Bending over she kissed his forehead, bidding him good night even if he couldn't hear her.

Going back to her room she brushed her teeth, combed her hair, and then turned the light off. Today had been a long day . . . but it had been a good day - over all. After all, in order for things to be fixed, they had to be acknowledged as broken.


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