If there was one thing the residents of Beacon Hills knew, it was that Stiles never let anyone see his dæmon. They all knew he had one – when he was younger people had seen her, and if he didn't anymore, he wouldn't be so. . . human. Things changed once his mother died. After her death, nobody ever saw her. Even his own father, drunk on exhaustion and tipsy with alcohol, once admitted that he had no clue what his son's dæmon had settled as, and he was one of only three people who even knew her name.
With his unique personality, ADHD, genius IQ, and knack for getting into trouble, Stiles already stuck out in a town as slow-moving and small as Beacon Hills. The mystery surrounding his dæmon only made that fact more prominent. Luckily for him, Scott didn't seem to care. Nor did Melissa or the Sheriff, despite their worry for him.
People in town eventually grew used to obvious lack of dæmon near the boy, and began to forget there was even something wrong. It was only when newcomers came to town or someone's dæmon settled that they remembered, and the gap became glaringly obvious once again. However, the newcomers were told the story and life moved on. Soon enough they began to forget again. It was an endless cycle that seemed like it wasn't about to end anytime soon.
Stiles remained an oddity however, and sometimes people couldn't help but wonder. Someone had once asked the boy why he never showed her to anyone. He had considered the questioner for a moment before responding. He had looked them directly in the eye and told them seriously that it took a lot of trust in other people to keep your dæmon out in the open. After all, it only took one person to put their hands on it or snuff it out, and who knew when you'd encounter someone crazy enough to do either.
If the next day the questioner kept their own dæmon a little closer than normal, well, that wasn't really related, now was it?
When Stiles's life flipped upside down and he began to hang around werewolves every day, none of that changed. He got the occasional question related to his dæmon, but for the most part the matter was left alone, despite the pack's curiosity. Occasionally he would comment that 'they' found some information on the problem of the week instead of 'he', but for the most part he barely mentioned her.
It was in the middle of a pack meeting when any of them, other than Scott of course, first heard the name of Stiles's dæmon. The human had cooked a huge dinner for the pack, seeing as it was his turn to host, and had stood to clear the plates. Several of them had stood to help, but had been waved off.
"It's fine, don't worry about it. Equaloma and I can take care of it."
It took the pack several minutes to figure out who Equaloma was, and another several to realize the importance of his statement. By that point, Stiles was already in the kitchen cleaning pots, and loading the dishwasher. They had turned to Scott for answers, and the teen had looked both floored in shock and thrilled all at once. His dæmon Sarin, a golden retriever, was thumping her tail on the ground as her tongue lolled out. That was all the confirmation they needed that his next statement was the truth.
"He's beginning to trust you guys."
Nothing more was said on the topic. Nothing more needed to be. However, over the next several weeks, the amount of tasks Stiles needed to do to help the pack significantly decreased. There was also a lot less punching and shoving on their part, but the pack would have denied any possibility of there being a connection if asked.
When they first heard Equaloma's voice, it was an accident. They had been trying to figure out what creature had been putting people into comas all over town, and Stiles had mentioned finding something in a book, but he needed to double check to be sure before they rushed in. So, they had rushed to Stiles's house, and were waiting impatiently for him downstairs.
He seemed to have forgotten about the extent of werewolf hearing, seeing as he was quietly muttering about 'freaking werewolves' and 'stupid supernatural creatures' the entire way upstairs. Several of the pack had exchanged amused looks despite the circumstances.
Once he'd reached his room, he had rushed around the space, quietly chanting 'not green, not green, not green' as he apparently searched for a tome with a green cover. They heard many books and items being moved around, and briefly wondered how many books Stiles had collected specifically for these kinds of situations. A thump and muffled curse later, the boy had finally lost his patience.
"Dammit! Where the hell is the stupid thing?"
Scott had rolled his eyes and stood, about to go and help his friend look, when he froze at what they heard next, his eyes wide.
"You put it on top of the computer so you wouldn't lose track of it later. Remember?" The quiet female voice held a hint of mockery. "Honestly, I don't know how you function most of the day." The pack had gone tense at the unfamiliar voice, and were preparing to rush up to defend their human packmate when a glance at Scott's awestruck expression and a response from Stiles kept them where they were.
"Thanks. Hey, Equaloma, think you could bring me that pad of paper so I can copy the runes real quick?" There was silence for several moments, and the pack was stunned. That voice they had just heard was Equaloma? Another look at Scott held the answer, once they saw his face and Sarin's wildly wagging tail.
"I haven't heard that voice since I was a child. I'd forgotten what she sounded like. I remember now that she loved to turn into a bird and sing for us. She had a beautiful voice." They listened some more, hoping to catch more conversation between the boy and his mysterious dæmon. There was the quiet scratching of the pencil from above, and they wondered if that was all she was going to say.
"I know what you're planning to do. It's foolish. You don't even know if it will work."
The dæmon's voice was quiet and calm. It was the complete opposite of how Stiles usually was. Her tone held a trace of worry and irritation, and was slightly muffled, but the pack could still tell that her voice was pretty. It made them want to see her all the more, but they knew better than to invade Stiles's privacy. There was a moment of silence on the end of their packmate.
"I know. But I have to do something; I can't just sit by and wait as more people get hurt, Loma. It won't come after the wolves, because it knows that it won't stand a chance. Our best bet at drawing it out is for me to play bait for it."
"They won't let you do that alone, if they let you do it at all. You do realize that, right?"
"Then they don't need to know what I'm planning until they have no choice but to go through with it, now do they?" There was a moment of smug silence, until Stiles let out a curse. "They heard every word we've been saying didn't they? Freaking werewolves."
Several hours later, the creature had been banished, and there were no injuries worse than a couple of scrapes and bruises. Needless to say, the pack had not allowed Stiles to play bait, just as Equaloma had predicted. It turned out that by the time they had caught up to it, there was no need for bait at all, because it was going after its next victim. Most of the pack also realized later that Equaloma had known all along that they could hear her. Perhaps this event would not be their last experience with the elusive dæmon after all.
The first time in years that anyone other than Stiles saw his dæmon, the pack was surrounded by a group of rogue hunters and fighting for their lives. They were holding their own due to their werewolf abilities, but they knew they wouldn't be able to last for very long. That didn't deter them though, only strengthened their will to survive.
Stiles had just turned away from his now unconscious opponent. The man's poor Rottweiler dæmon had been so confused, growling and snarling as she paced, unable to help due to a lack of dæmon to attack. He had been scanning the area to see where his help would do the most good when he caught sight of one of the hunter's dæmons, an Australian Shepherd, leaping towards Derek's own peregrine falcon, Agla.
"Derek! Agla, look out!"
His arm had shot forward, a thin green coil racing down it into the air before Stiles had even finished his sentence, already responding to his alarm. Midair it shifted, turning into a huge golden blur that crashed into the dog with an ear-shattering roar. Everyone froze as they turned to stare at the snarling lioness that had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
The lioness was pinning the Shepherd to the ground and had her jaws around its throat. The dog let out a whimper of fear, and the lion's teeth flashed as she growled, effectively silencing it. The lead hunter had gone pale, his hand around his throat, and it was obvious who the dog belonged to.
Everyone's gazes flicked around the clearing in an attempt to identify the person who belonged to the dæmon. Everyone present had their dæmons accounted for, and nobody new had arrived. The only person without a dæmon in sight was . . . Stiles. Their disbelieving stares took in his defensive posture and the dark look that had replaced his normally cheerful expression.
He stepped forward, and trailed a hand over the lioness's back, confirming that it was Equaloma even as he glared at the hunters. Despite their current danger, the pack took a moment to examine the dæmon they had wondered about for so long. She was gorgeous, her fur a glowing gold, and her eyes a flashing amber. She was also larger than expected, even for a lioness.
They were surprised though, because it would be hard to hide an animal of her size. They had just assumed that Stiles's dæmon had settled as something small and easily concealable, like a snake, mouse, or small bird. How had he been able to keep Equaloma out of sight for so long with her being this big? That wasn't even accounting for the distance he would have to keep from her throughout the school day, seeing as she was in none of the classrooms or hallways. As if sensing their thoughts, Equaloma's gaze slid to them momentarily as she winked a large amber eye at them.
"Leave. Don't come back, and never bother us again."
Stiles's statement was quiet and simple, but his tone left no room for argument. A glance at Equaloma had her reluctantly releasing the dæmon beneath her, and it raced to its person, leaping into his arms as tremors shook her entire body. The lioness glared at the hunters as they warily grabbed their wounded and unconscious teammates before beginning to leave the clearing, casting resentful glances back at the pack.
Stiles waited until almost all of the hunters had left before turning to the pack, assessing the damage. He blinked when he met their intent gazes, and followed their eyes to his dæmon. He smiled slightly and an unfamiliar type of affection entered his eyes as he ran a hand over her head. He was about to speak when Erica's Golden Snub-nosed monkey let out a screech of alarm.
He whirled around even as his dæmon surged up, shifting into a smaller form, her golden fur melting into reddish-brown feathers as she shrieked in anger. She was in the air and curling her talons up in front of her before the rest of the pack had even realized what was going on. When Equaloma landed on Stiles's shoulder, she had deposited an arrow into Stiles's hands. He lifted his gaze from it, and the hunter who had shot it at him blanched, scrambling after his companions.
Stiles rolled his eyes and snapped the arrow in half once the man had left his line of sight. He turned to see the wide eyes and open mouths of the pack, and suddenly felt slightly embarassed and rather exposed. He'd forgotten what it felt like to have a dæmon out in the open after having his own hidden for so long. Feeling his sudden shyness as her own, Equaloma shifted into a slim white ferret and tucked herself around his neck.
"Is that . . .?" Erica's quiet almost-question broke the silence. She was looking directly at the white head of fur that was Stiles's dæmon. He nodded in response. Equaloma looked at her human with his uncharacteristic silence and rolled her eyes, beginning to crawl down his arm once again. Stiles attempted to stop her, a short wave of panic taking over him as she evaded him and jumped to the ground.
"Loma!" His terrified squeak would have been funny had he not been so frightened. She silenced him with a single look, and then stared directly into his eyes as she spoke, aware of but ignoring their audience.
"Stiles, it's time. It's time to start trusting people other than Scott, Melissa, and your dad, and for you to start trusting those three completely, too. We have been running and hiding for a decade now. It is time to face our fears, stop running, and live again."
"But-" Equaloma cut off Stiles's protests.
"Are you ashamed of me?" Her tone was suddenly sharper than knives, and Stiles stumbled back and doubled over as if he'd just been kicked in the stomach. His expression was horrified.
"No! Loma, Loma, no! That isn't it at all, no! No, I swear, no no nonono-" His protests became babbling in his desperation to convey his remorse and opposition to the idea. Equaloma looked slightly apologetic, and twined her small ferret body around his ankles in apology.
"Stiles! It's okay, I know you aren't. I'm sorry. I was just trying to show you that we've run out of reasons to hide." Stiles tilted his head at her as he mulled that over. His eyes slowly widened as he realized that she was right. "See? We trust them already, it's too late to pretend otherwise anymore. And maybe . . . maybe trusting them is that first step we have to take. Remember?"
It was clear to the others that they had discussed this before, and that the dæmon was referring to a previous conversation they had both had. The pack watched in a slightly awkward yet respectful silence as the moment between the teen and his dæmon concluded with a silent conversation and slow nod from Stiles.
Equaloma held her human's gaze a moment longer before turning to the rest of them and approaching. When she had almost reached them, she shifted midstep into a large, grey timber wolf. She sat in front of them, her gold eyes glinting, and let her tongue loll out of her mouth as she grinned. Scott was the one who spoke first.
"Loma?" His voice was almost childlike as he approached, until he was only a foot in front of her. He sank down onto his knees and his eyes flicked over her features. Sarin was beside him, and was whining quietly, clearly wanting to approach the wolf but not sure if she was allowed. Equaloma's tail thumped the ground in greeting. Behind her, Stiles was watching what was happening. He was slightly tense, but other than that doing well with the sudden exposure. He approached as well, and hovered behind his dæmon, still clearly uneasy with being too far away from her.
"You never settled," Scott continued, still scanning the dæmon he hadn't seen in years. "And when you attacked that Shepherd, you were all the way across the clearing from Stiles. Has – has your distance bond been broken?" He glanced worriedly at Stiles, who he was surprised to see had smiled widely as he glanced down at Equaloma, who had looked up at the same time smiling wolfishly.
"We never had a distance bond. It never formed. As for not settling, well, we never really settled ourselves, so we never could settle into just one form. Maybe that'll change now, maybe not. I rather like the idea of being unique, it adds to my already existing mystique." That prompted a laugh out of the others at the Stiles-like comment. Stiles lightly gripped his dæmon's ruff, and she glanced up at him, her tongue lolling out. The teen smiled at her, then glanced around the perimeter warily before looking at the others.
"As much as I admit we need this conversation, we really should get somewhere a little more secure. Does my house sound okay?" The pack seemed almost reluctant to look away from the dæmon, possibly thinking that she would disappear again if they did. When they finally looked away and nodded, Equaloma stood. She stayed a wolf as they all began the trek to Stiles's house. A sudden laugh from Scott had everyone looking over at him.
"Sorry," he said, looking slightly sheepish, "I was just picturing the Sheriff's face when he sees Equaloma and gets over the shock. First Stiles brings home werewolves, and now a wolf dæmon? You have to admit that it'll be funny." That got a laugh or smile out of everyone present as they imagined the exasperation and doneness on the Sheriff's face. Stiles looked down at his dæmon.
"What do you think, Loma? Care to stay a wolf a little longer?" Equaloma cast her gaze up at him and opened her mouth in a mischevious wolf-grin.
"Sure. As long as I can shift again in front of him once he gets over his shock. Imagine the look on his face then." Stiles laughed loudly at that. Erica grinned widely back at him from her place towards the front. Lydia snorted slightly.
"He's probably used to you being strange and unexpected by now. I bet you he'll get over it faster than you think." she said lightly, though laughter glinted in her eyes and her lips were twitching. The others nodded their agreement with teasing smiles, and Stiles's own smile widened at the playful banter. The group turned onto Stiles's street.
"Yeah," he said, looking fondly at Equaloma then back at the pack, "I bet he will." With that, they approached the house with the Sheriff waiting inside for the biggest surprise he'd had in years, werewolves included.