Word count: 7513
Info: Canon through The Overlooked. Damn plot bunny.
Disclaimer: Teen Wolf, not mine.
A/N: I'm taking liberties with Stiles' mysterious first name and I'm not giving them back. So there. Also...I'd like to say that I liked Jennifer...before we found out she was the Darach. I mean I flailed and was testy when she slept with Derek...but I was still fond of her. But she crossed some lines when she took the sheriff and Melissa. So does anyone else flail and occasionally yell 'Martouf!' whenever Chris Argent is on screen? No? Just me then? Okay.
Extra Note: Yes, I did indeed join the Teen Wolf Fandom. And can I just say its a slightly scary and INSANE place? I mean really
Nemeton – sacred place in ancient Celtic religion (usually a place of nature)
Stiles – Caorunn ‘Stiles’ Stilinski
Caorunn – Scottish Gaelic for Rowan (a type of Ash tree of the same genus as Mountain Ash)
Mama Stilinski – Shellach Stilinski (née Murray)
Shellach - Gaelic for Willow
Gràinne Murray – Shellach’s mother and Stiles' grandmother.
Dryads – Tree nymphs (minor nature spirits); traditionally lived in oak trees
What is my logic?
He wasn't sure how long he stood there. How long he waited for Scott to change his mind. To come back. To tell Deucalion thanks, but no thanks I don't need no stinking Alpha Pack.
He felt numb, had been since Scott had walked away from him. Walked away from everything. Walked away, following the Alpha of the Alphas, because Scott was out of hope. His well of optimism had run dry the moment the Darach, Ms. Blake, had taken off with his mom.
And now the bitch had two of the three guardians, parents, she needed to complete her work. He didn't know what Jennifer's end game was, what she was working toward, he didn't even know how to find out.
Once upon a time he could have figured this out; he had always been the one with the plan. The one Scott turned to in times of need, in times of panic. Now...he was just...Stiles. He was alone. Scott had walked away from him. What the hell was he supposed to do without his heart brother? Without his best friend?
It was simply too much. His dad, now in the hands of a killer, his best friend lost in his own crisis because his mom was with the same killer. And his best friend...siding with Deucalion for the promise to rescue both parents.
Scott could be clever when he wanted to be. He'd proved that with Gerard. Stiles had never even known that Scott had pretended to help Gerard...much less that he had a plan to double cross the old man. It was the first time his buddy had ever had a plan of his own, the first time he'd taken the initiative against an enemy. But this time...
Stiles could see it in Scott's eyes. There was no Plan B. Or C, D...or any other letter. Scott had no hope. He was broken. And now...so was Stiles.
He didn't even feel his knees hit the roof, the water from the earlier storm seeped through his jeans, leaving his legs cold. His eyes stared blankly into the steam rising from the roof of the hospital, what was he supposed to do? There was nothing. He had nothing. No focus. His family scattered.
Stiles sat there...he didn't know how long. He just let the steam and the fog envelope him. He could feel his vision blur a bit, his head grew a little fuzzy, dizzy. Soft, kind laughter curled around his ears. I'll show you what to do Caorunn, stand child, we have work to do.
And just like that. He had a plan. Information filled his head and he knew what to do, how to use it. How to save them. Climbing to his feet was easier than he thought it would be, and the idle thought occurred to him that he wasn't really rising on his own, or walking toward the stairs. Someone was helping him. Carrying him, guiding him.
He nearly cried in relief, because he knew this feeling, even if she couldn't hug him like when he was a kid. She was here with him now and she was going to help. Thank god.
Derek was just starting to come too when he reached the bottom of the stairs, the Alpha stumbled out of the damaged elevator, none too steady on his feet. Stiles could relate, he remembered what a concussion felt like. “Come with me.”
Lost hazel eyes blinked at him. “What?”
“We have a stop to make before meeting up with Isaac and Peter. You can tell me what she said on the way.” When Derek didn't move Stiles took hold of his arm and started to pull him along, guiding him down the hall toward the front door.
“She was wrong.”
“I can save Cora.”
“How? Stiles...what's going on?”
Stiles flicked his eyes to meet Derek's, but kept walking, kept guiding him. “Do you trust me?”
Surprisingly there was no hesitation. “Yes.”
Allison and her dad were waiting by his jeep; which made sense since Isaac had used their car to get Peter and Cora to another hospital. One that wasn't abandoned and without power. Derek's Toyota was nowhere in sight. He wondered if Deucalion and Scott had grabbed it...or Jennifer. Then he wondered why the heck Derek had gotten rid of the Camaro he'd had before. It was a sweeter ride...huh...maybe he was in shock? Did he take his Adderall today? He couldn't remember, everything had been...just...ugh.
He left Derek by the passenger door and went around to the driver's side. “We're going to my house and then to help Cora. Get in if you're coming.”
“Stiles? Where's Scott?”
“Not now Allison.” She reached for him and he glared at her. “Not now. Get in or don't.”
They got in, somehow managing to gracefully clamber into the back seat. Freaking hunters were full of grace. Not fair.
Derek got in the passenger seat and Stiles got in, starting her up and taking off toward home. He needed supplies. The werewolf beside him shifted and their eyes met. Stiles shook his head, just a touch of movement. Whatever it was he had to say...it could wait until Chris Argent wasn't sitting behind him with a loaded gun tucked away.
He parked his jeep and slipped out of the seat. “You two stay here. I won't be long.”
“Need help?” Derek asked, their eyes meeting again.
“Sure. What I need is in the attic. You can do the heavy lifting.”
“What is it you need from your attic Stiles?” Chris' eyes were focused on him...in a way that was too much like a predator's...or a hunter's.
“Something that belonged to my mom.” He shut the door, keeping Chris from asking more questions… for the moment anyway.
Derek was behind him in a second, following him into the dark house and up the stairs. Stiles flipped on the light of the upstairs hall and reached up to pull down the stairs hatch that was the entrance to the attic. Once they were in the attic, lit by a series of dim yellow bulbs, Derek finally spoke.
“Her real name was Julia...and she was Kali's emissary.”
Stiles nodded. “We found out from Ethan today that when they killed their packs they killed their emissaries too. Guess Kali wasn't as thorough.” He wandered further into the attic, motioning Derek to keep following him.
“You said you needed something of your mother's.”
“I'm starting to put pieces together. Everything that we've seen, come across, has rung some bells, jogged some memories. My mom may have known about the supernatural. Move this trunk under the light would you?”
Derek pulled the trunk closer to them and Stiles knelt beside it, flipping the latches, glad there was no lock. There were some papers inside, odds and ends, knick knacks...and a wooden box with carved Celtic knots. And in the center was a carving of a tree, its roots spreading up in a circle to mingle with the limbs and leaves.
“The tree of life.”
Stiles nodded and opened the box, gazing at its contents. What stood out the most was the long bladed knife, a dirk, he reminded himself, a scrying stone, a bell...he touched some of the incense and sighed when it crumbled. “I'll need to replace that incense later. It’s too old.” He reached for the bell and clanged it gently. The sound was calming, it would do.
“I think your mom did more than just know about the supernatural.”
He nodded. “I think she followed the old ways. Which makes sense.”
“Oh...she was born in Scotland. Had the accent and everything.”
“Was she an emissary?”
Stiles closed the box and stood with it in his hands. “I don't know...” He stared at Derek, hoping he didn't look too broken.
Again the Alpha surprised him with an understanding nod. “I might know where she's gone.”
“Years ago...there was a girl. Ennis bit her...and it didn't take.”
Stile sucked in a breath. “Paige.”
Derek gave a broken and heartbreaking chuckle. “Why am I not surprised you know about that. You now know about every relationship I've ever had.”
“You can blame this one on Peter; he likes the sound of his own voice.” Stiles thought a second. “What does Paige have to do with this?” He waved a hand, encompassing the clusterfuck that had become their reality.
“I...killed her...sacrificed her in an old root cellar, on the roots of a dead tree. Julia called it a Nemeton. Paige was a virgin...so I gave the tree power. Julia used that power to stay alive after Kali left her for dead.”
“Nemeton.” The word didn't mean anything to him, but then he heard her whisper in his ear. A Druid's sacred place.
“A place for gathering, for rituals and for sacred rights.” At the raised brow Derek gave him he shrugged. “What? All the research I've done? There's all kinds of random crap rolling around my brain.” It wasn't really a lie and Derek didn't call him on it. “Come on.”
“Is that all you need? It’s not much.”
“I don't have time to find a branch and spiff it up into a personal staff, that'll take some serious carving skills that I don't even know if I have yet.” He sighed. “Some of the incense is still good, it was only the catnip that disintegrated, and catnip is fragile anyway. The crystals and stones are still in their pouch, let’s go help Cora.”
Derek followed him in silence, turning off the lights as they went.
Getting to the hospital was easy. The roads were clear, no one else but their little not-so-merry band were out and about after the crazy weather. The Argents remained silent in the back seat, even when Derek had taken the carved wooden box from Stiles' grasp, leaving his hands free to drive.
He let Derek lead the way, knowing that the Alpha would follow the scents of Cora, Peter and Isaac, let his nose lead him to his pack, still carrying the wooden box. For a second Stiles wondered if things would have been better if he and Scott had joined Derek's pack and stayed. Would a united front have changed things? Would it have mattered? Or were their lives destined to stay the joke of the universe.
When they reached the room Cora had been put in; they hustled inside and Chris closed the door behind them. Peter and Isaac looked at their Alpha anxiously...and Isaac's gaze bounced around their group, falling when he found it lacking.
Derek glanced at Stiles and Stiles sighed. “He left with Deucalion.” He held up a hand to stop Isaac and Allison's protests and denials. “The Darach grabbed Melissa. She only needs one more Guardian...one more Parent.” His voice broke on the word. “And she'll have her final three.”
“That's why you ran...why you didn't come with us.” Isaac whispered. “You figured it out.”
Derek's eyes held his for a moment. “We think we know where they'll be. She'll need a sacred place...a place that's given her power in the past.”
“Nemeton.” It was eerie how Peter and Chris said it at the same time. Derek's eyes shot toward Chris who only looked back. “I know about the root cellar.”
“Well, good thing we don't use it for hiding from Hunters anymore...not like when we were kids scared out of our minds.” Peter grumbled, eying the hunter warily.
Stiles rolled his eyes. “Anyway, after we save Cora, we're going to the Nemeton. You can come with or stay here. I don't really care. Move over Peter.”
Peter raised a skeptical brow at him. “Didn't Jennifer say Cora's life rested in her hands? What exactly are you going to do?”
,” Stiles stressed the word, “has killed more people while sane than you did when you were crazy. She and Deucalion are playing a game that we're not even keeping up with. They are so many moves ahead they've left us in the dust and we don't have a clue what their end game is. And at this point I don't care. I'm going around them and starting a new game.”
“How?” Isaac asked.
“I'm throwing their whole damn board out the proverbial window. Now, let me help Cora.”
When Peter just stared at him Derek growled. “Move, Peter.” And that did it, Peter moved back and Stiles moved to Cora's side.
She was as pale in this hospital bed as she'd been in the last and the ambulance after it. Stiles took a calming breath, and listened for his mother's voice, listened to her instructions and then followed them to the letter. Derek was already beside him, box open and ready.
He reached for some of the incense first, not the catnip obviously, but a bundle of dried grass that smelled like Sweet Flag. Interestingly enough it was Chris who handed him a lighter. Once it was lit Stiles let it hover over Cora's body, pausing now and again. Chakra points
, his mother whispered. He handed the incense to Peter who was staring at Stiles like he was trying to remember something, brow furrowed in concentration.
Stiles ignored the oldest wolf and reached for a black pouch and pulled it from the box. Inside were his mother's stones and crystals, and each time he touched one her voice would ghost across his mind, identifying it and telling him where to place it. First Chakra, obsidian. Second Chakra, tiger's eye. Third Chakra, topaz. Fourth Chakra, rose quartz. Fifth Chakra, aquamarine. Sixth Chakra, clear quartz. Seventh Chakra, Oregon opal.
He took a calming breath. The next part was going to be 100% belief on his part, much like the time he'd used the Mountain Ash at the rave. His hands found the stones, he visualized the color as she told him, pictured Cora's aura, her Chakra points, picturing them the way they should be. Picturing them to be healthy, not sick the way they were. And he could feel it working, feel the moment her energy balanced and even out at the first point. He smiled and shook his hand, getting rid of the sludge feeling that had stuck to his hand. There was a flash of black smoke as he cast it off, startling everyone present. Huh. Bad mojo go poof.
He repeated the process over each Chakra point, shaking off the Darach's bad mojo each time. Cora was practically pink with health by the time he finished the seventh point and reached for the still burning incense in Peter's hands. He wafted it over her body again; let it settle in the air before handing it back and gathering up the stones and putting them back in the pouch. When they were back in the box he collapsed into the chair beside Cora's bed.
“Done.” He whispered, closing his eyes for a moment.
Silence filled the room, but it lasted for all of five seconds.
“How did you know what to do Stiles?”
He opened his eyes and looked at Chris Argent, Chris who looked a little twitchy and who was possibly reaching for his gun.
“I was channeling.” And there was the gun, luckily Allison grabbed her father's wrist and held firm. “You know it would look pretty bad for the sheriff's son to get shot just hours after he goes missing.”
Chris ignored the comment. “What exactly were you channeling?” The words were ground out.
“Not what, who. And it was my mom.”
Peter snorted. “Can't believe I forgot about that, she always was in the thick of things.” Everyone's eyes snapped to Peter who chuckled. “Come now Chris, don't tell me you've forgotten about Shellach...though to be fair she preferred to be called Shelly so you may not have known her real name.”
Stiles had never seen Chris Argent's eyes so wide. “Shelly Stilinski.” His gaze drifted to Cora and then to Stiles. “I remember she was friends with Talia and Deaton.” His gaze hardened a bit. “Shellach is Scots Gaelic for Willow.”
Stiles shrugged. “Mom was born in Scotland.”
Peter continued to laugh. “Oh it gets better Chris. Her maiden name was Murray.” His smile was all teeth. “She was raised in the old ways by her mother. Gràinne Murray”
With that...Chris Argent froze...in fact he looked rather terrified. “Gràinne Murray is the emissary of the strongest pack in Scotland.”
Stiles blinked. “You're kidding? My nana? An emissary? Really?”
Peter was practically rolling on the floor. “Stiles, she gets called 'she who inspires terror' by others.”
“Huh...Dad's reaction to her phone calls makes so much more sense now. I always thought it was just a mother-in-law thing.” He stifled a yawn that tried to waylay him. “So, who's up for a daring rescue?”
“We have time.” Derek murmured; his eyes had been glued to Stiles for what felt like hours. “She won't kill them until the Lunar Eclipse and she still needs one more.”
Finally someone besides Stiles was the center of attention and Peter's mirth was wiped off his face so fast that Stiles sat up straight in alarm. “What happens on the Lunar Eclipse?”
It was Chris who answered; still pale and shaky from the revelation of Stiles' heritage. “The wolves lose their power and become human.”
“Oh Fuck!” Language Caorunn.
Stiles winced at the whispered scolding. “Shouldn't we do this now? The rescue I mean. The sooner the better, before she has a chance to snatch someone else's parent.”
“Stiles, you’re exhausted. You're already crashing. We can wait until tomorrow night.” Derek's eyes were...gentle...as gentle as they'd been when they'd confronted Ms. Blake in the loft. It had warmed him then and now it made him blush. We have time Caorunn. Rest now. It will be finished tomorrow night.
And then he blinked. “Okay...” Idly he noticed that the world had started to tilt and he was falling from the chair. “Crap.” The last thing he noticed before blacking out was a strong arm catching him and keeping his head from hitting the cold hospital tile.
He woke to the sound of his alarm going off, it was the most annoying song and just about the only thing guaranteed to wake him up by forcing him to turn it off; if he could get to it. The sound was muffled, which meant it was probably in his pocket...or under his pillow. And he tried to reach for it, really he did. But it was hard to move, as wrapped up in his blankets as he was, not to mention the weight holding down.
“You're even annoying before you wake up.”
And hello, that was Derek's voice. Derek's rough morning voice...in his ear!
“God Stiles, five more minutes...and what is with that alarm?”
And that was Isaac's voice in front of him. Stiles sighed and opened his eyes. “Well, I would turn it off...but it’s in my pocket and I'm trapped beneath a grumpy pile of werewolves and can't move.”
There was snort behind him and then the covers were gone and Derek was reaching into his pocket, shutting his alarm off with a vengeance. “Finally.”
Stiles rolled his eyes, noticing that they were back in the loft...and in Derek's bed. The same bed where Derek and the Darach had...eww. He shook the thought away and tried to keep his panic from overtaking him. His dad and Melissa were still missing. And here he was cuddling with wolves. Ugh. “What happened?”
“You were awesome is what happened.” Isaac murmured, rolling off the bed. “I'll start breakfast. Cora woke up like five minutes after you passed out by the way.” He smiled and headed toward the kitchen.
Stiles glanced over at Derek who was still holding his phone...and looking adorable with sleep mussed hair. Freaking wolves looked good no matter what they did, Stiles had no doubt he probably looked stoned because he wasn't quite awake yet. “I passed out?”
Derek nodded and handed his phone back. “The healing you worked on Cora...it must have taken a lot out of you.”
“Makes sense, I've never done anything like that before.”
“Were you really channeling your mother?”
The old pain clenched his heart even as he nodded. “After Scott left with Deucalion I started hearing her voice, feeling her presence.” He smiled. “She never really got to teach me much of the old ways, it’s nice. Being able to learn from her now...especially now.”
“Because of the current crisis?”
“What? Oh, no.” He shook his head. “I mean if I hadn't heard her voice last night I'd probably still be sitting on the hospital roof, numb and broken. My dad missing, Melissa missing, Scott walking away...throw in today being the anniversary of Mom's death and I was pretty much done. Couldn't go on if I tried.”
Derek winced and closed his eyes in sympathy. “I'm sorry. I didn't know. Do you think that's why she's able to communicate with you now?”
“Possibly. I'm not hearing now though...but she said we have time...that we'll finish it tonight.”
“Good to know. We have time to prepare. Are you going to go to school?”
“Like I'd be able to concentrate on school when we need to make a game plan.” He yawned and moved to crawl off the bed. Derek's hand on his arm stopped him. “What?”
“For everything I guess.”
“Dude, you can't apologize for the state of the entire freaking world. Don't worry about it.”
“Stiles...it’s because of me that Julia-”
“Hey, stop! Don't even go there. This is all happening because Julia wants revenge on the Alphas; the Alphas were the ones who slaughtered their packs and emissaries. And from what Scott told me...the reason Deucalion went nuts and lost his sight is because Gerard gouged his eyes out. So, if it’s okay with you, I'm laying all the blame on Gerard. If he hadn't been a crazy bastard who got his kicks from torturing peace loving werewolves and teenagers we wouldn't be in this mess.”
“Not a fan huh?”
“Dude, I ever get the chance, I'm shooting him.”
Isaac wandered back to the bed, plate full of toasted and buttered waffles. “He never hurt you directly did he?” Stiles grabbed a waffle and scarfed half of it, trying to ignore his heart beat, knowing the wolves would hear it. “Stiles?”
He started to scarf the rest of the waffle; Derek's hand on his wrist stopped him. “What did he do?”
Sigh. “Remember when I ran down Jackson with my jeep, my face was bruised up?”
Isaac nodded. “Yeah...you went missing after the lacrosse game...” His eyes started to widen...probably imagining all sorts of horror.
Stiles shrugged. “He didn't do much. Just beat the crap out of me. Just enough to make me want to shoot him...in the foot...maybe the ass. And then pour lemon juice in the wound.”
Derek's lips twitched. “Creative.”
“I've had a lot of time to think about it.” He ate some more of his waffle. “So, we gonna call an emergency summit to discuss the daring rescue we're going to pull off tonight?”
“You want to invite the Argents.”
“Well yeah Derek. She still needs one more parent. Do we know any more parents? Like on a first name basis? Because the only one who comes to mind is Chris.”
“I don't want them here.”
“Yeah, I figured.” He shrugged. “We can make Deaton play host.”
Derek nodded. “I'll call him. You call Allison.”
“It seems everyone is singing your praises today Ca-”
Stiles slapped his hand over Deaton's mouth, much to the shock of everyone present. “Don't.”
Deaton huffed a bit but nodded and removed Stiles' hand from his mouth. “I apologize; I would have thought everyone knew your name by now.”
“Dude, no one knows my name, except my dad and Melissa.”
“Not even Scott?” Allison asked; some amusement in her voice.
“Scott knows it but can't pronounce it.”
“What's the big deal?” Isaac asked, leaning against the counter. “It’s just a name.”
They were gathered in the back around the metal examination table. The same one where Stiles nearly had to cut Derek's arm off to keep the Wolfsbane poison from spreading to his heart. Fun times.
“My name isn't in English...and names have power. And I don't like it. There are reasons I go by Stiles. Just like my mom went by Shelly.”
Deaton nodded in agreement. “But you are using the power.”
“Yeah. I'll be using it tonight too.”
“So.” Derek stepped forward. “What's the plan?”
Chris raised a brow, looking from the Alpha to Stiles. “We're leaving the plan to Stiles? I'll admit I was impressed last night, but this will be a bit different. Laying Stones to heal isn't exactly a battle situation.”
“Would you feel better if I had a gun?” Stiles asked sweetly.
The look Chris gave him was almost one of panic. “I'm not giving you access to a firearm.”
“I wasn't asking. If I decide to pack I'll get the gun out of the gun safe at home.”
Allison stepped up to be the voice of reason, shooting her dad a look. “Stiles, do you even know how to shoot a gun?”
“Oh for the love of God. People, my dad is the sheriff. Yes. I know how to shoot a gun...and I shoot well.” He rolled his eyes. “Though Wolfsbane bullets isn't really gonna mess with the Darach.” Stiles grinned; it must have been a little manic because Chris Argent grew very still. “So...do you think you can whip up some mistletoe bullets?”
No one said anything for a moment but finally Chris nodded. “I do have some mistletoe on hand. Deaton? Do you have any to spare?”
Deaton's face wasn't quite amused, though it was close. “I have some left; I didn't give my entire supply to Scott.”
“If you could get it for me? The sooner I get them made the sooner we can head out this evening.” Chris flicked his eyes to Stiles. “That was good thinking. I'm assuming you'll want to head out after dark?”
“Yeah. You and Derek both know where we're going. So we'll meet you there? But Chris...you should know...she'll probably be targeting you. You're the only other parent we know.”
Allison's face became grim. “We thought of that already. All the more reason to arm ourselves with mistletoe. I can probably coat my arrows with it if I mix it with lacquer.”
He nodded. “Coat the entire arrow, even the shaft. She's got mad skills and might just be able to catch them.”
“What about you?” Isaac asked. “What are you going to do Stiles?”
“Channel my mom. Work some magic. Kill the bad guys. Try not to die.”
The high school parking lot was full despite the craziness of the night before with the most recent teacher death and the storm from Hell. And the attempt on Lydia's life. Lydia who had just parked her car and was getting out of it. Fashionably late or just getting back from an off campus lunch. Stiles shook his head, she probably should have stayed home, but he was glad she was here.
Lydia jumped a bit, startled at his sudden presence. “Stiles, you weren't in class this morning, actually none of you were in class this morning.” Her voice was a little quiet, forced, most likely because of the bruising on her throat where Blake had tried to kill her.
“Yeah. I need you and Danny to do something for me.”
“Distract Ethan and Aiden.”
“The Darach, Ms. Blake, she took my dad and Scott's mom. The final sacrifices are Guardians...parents.”
“Scott joined Deucalion.”
“This just keeps getting better. So you need us to distract the twins.”
“Ethan will be easiest. He really likes Danny.” He held up a bottle. “When you have them distracted you'll need to trap them in a circle of this. It’s Mountain Ash. Werewolves can't cross it or touch it. When you lay it down you have to believe it will work.”
“What if it doesn't?”
“You're Lydia Martin. There's nothing you can't do. Besides, I know this stuff works. I've used it before.”
She took a breath. “Okay...but why do you need us to distract them?”
“Because it’s all going down tonight. We're taking out Blake; and possibly Deucalion and Kali if they show. If we can kill them all...then Ethan and Aiden won't be in debt and they'll be free.”
“Are you going to quote Doctor Who now?”
She gave him just the barest of smiles. “Everybody lives, Rose! Just this once, everybody lives!”
“At this point I don't want everyone to live. There's actually quite a few I want dead... However, the fact that you know that line makes my heart race in a happy, geeky, obnoxious way. And on a normal day...”
She shook her head. “No, it wouldn't make a difference. We make better friends Stiles than we ever would lovers.”
His heart broke a little but he didn't disagree. “I still think you're a goddess who will change the world with your brilliance.”
“That's a given.”
They shared a grin. “So, you recruit Danny, tell him everything...and when it comes to Ethan...Ethan didn't really have a choice in any of this. Make sure Danny knows that.”
“Be careful tonight.”
“As careful as I can be.”
“I'm still not giving you a gun.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “I figured I'd leave the Wild West routine to you and Allison.” He motioned to his satchel. “I'm geared up with all my magical accoutrements. The only thing we probably need to worry about is Deucalion and Kali crashing the party.”
“What about the twins?” Isaac asked.
“Lyida and Danny are handling them.” He looked to Derek. “Peter staying with Cora?”
“Yes. She's better, but still a little weak. I didn't want her here.” Derek's eyes focused on him. “I never thanked you for last night.”
“You can thank me later, hopefully after all the bad guys are dead.”
“I thought this was strictly a rescue mission.” Allison murmured, slinging her quiver of arrows into place.
“And have them start all over again with the badness?” Stiles shook his head. “I'd rather not if it’s all the same to you.”
“Are we done?” Chris asked, checking his weapons one more time. “We have some walking to do.”
They had parked both vehicles at the edge of the woods as there wasn't a road leading directly in to the Nemeton. Besides, walking was stealthy, and his jeep was noisy. Derek nodded to Chris who took the lead and suddenly Derek's hand was at the small of Stiles' back, pushing him forward, guiding him. Much like Stiles had guided Derek out of the darkened hospital the night before. Isaac trailed along behind them, with Allison bringing up the rear; bow in hand, fingers twitched and ready to grab an arrow as needed.
The walk wasn't as long as he'd expected it to be...and the Nemeton wasn't what he had imagined either. At least on the surface. What he had expected to see here in the moonlight was an ancient tree, dead limbs reaching to the heavens, bare and heartbreaking. Instead all he saw was a stump...and an entrance that led below ground. He wondered who the hell would cut down such a massive tree, who would desecrate such a sacred place. The only name that came to mind was Gerard's. But that was unimportant; he needed to concentrate on rescuing his dad and Melissa.
“I expected you to show up last night. It’s rude to keep a girl waiting.” Jennifer...no, her name was Julia, rose from the entrance and stepped in the moonlight. “Needed time to gather your forces?”
Everyone was a blur of movement after that. Derek and Isaac were lunging at her, and getting tossed back like toys being rejected by a toddler. Then there was gunfire from Chris, who hit his mark, as if there would be any question of his aim. Stiles staid where he was, just for a second, reveling in the shock as the bullets hurt her...and she didn't heal.
She stared at her wounds in shock. “Mistletoe?” Her gaze rose to rest on Stiles. “You always have a plan don't you.” Before she could raise her hands toward him to work whatever magic was twisting her face with rage the wolves were on her again. Again bullets hit her and then an arrow.
Stiles dove for the entrance to the underground chamber, tumbling down the stairs less gracefully than he had intended, but making it down in one piece which was the important part.
He looked toward the voice; his dad and Melissa were alive, whole...and tied to wooden pillars. “Dad!”
He hardly realized he was moving, anxious to free them, the dirk already in his hand and cutting through the ropes that held his dad. Melissa's bonds fell to the sharp blade just as easily. “Stiles.” His dad's arms were warm, strong around him, and for just a second Stiles let himself be weak and clung to his dad. “Come on kid. We need to get out of here.”
Stiles pulled back and shook his head. “I still have work to do.” He motioned Melissa closer. “Get my dad out of here.”
“No Dad. I have to do this or else it won't be over.”
“You don't have to do anything...why do you have your mom's ceremonial knife?”
“I told you she'd believe me. Now go. I've got some magic to work.”
“Stiles...I'm sorry. I should have believed you...but...after your mom. The way she died...”
“Yeah. I know. It was just easier to forget.” They shared a look and finally a feeling of peace settled between them, probably because a voice ghosted across the air, loud enough that even Melissa jerked in recognition, eyes wide. Everything will work out. Hurry now.
“Shelly.” His dad's voice broke but he smiled. “Do as your mother says.”
Stiles grinned. “Always.” And he gave them a push toward the exit. “Hurry.”
As they left he moved toward the roots that took up most of the chamber and knelt by the dark stain that remained. All that remained of a girl named Paige. The first girl Derek had ever loved. He placed a hand on the stain and felt the thrum of power. “Hey there Paige. My name is Stiles...well actually my name is Caorunn. My mom, Shellach, and I are going to need your help. Think you can do that? Not for me...but for Derek. He's fighting against someone really strong right now. And I...really don't want anyone else to die tonight. He's lost a lot of people you know? You were only the beginning.” Amazingly he felt a tug, almost like a nod of acknowledgment. “Thanks Paige. You rock.” Let's begin Caorunn.
He nodded and reached into his satchel, bringing out the bell and some more incense. It took a second of concentration, but then the incense was smoking, he never even had to use the lighter. Placing the smoldering herbs by the roots he shook the bell, letting the clear sound echo around him, bouncing off the roots, disrupting Julia's hold over the power. He didn't have much time now, she would have felt that.
He put the bell back in the satchel, but dropped it to the ground, retrieving the dirk from where he'd dropped it. Again Stiles knelt by the stained root. “Hey big guy.” He said, speaking directly to the tree this time. “I know you haven't been yourself for some time...but I was wondering if you could help me. I already have Paige on board. What do you say? Will you lend me your power and be my focus for a bit?” Stiles let the dirk slide across the palm of his left hand, then switched and sliced open his right hand, before dropping the blade once more.
“I know this is a lot to ask...but this has to end. So...I give you as a gift, the blood of a virgin.” And he placed his bleeding hands on the stain left behind by Derek and Paige.
An inhuman scream echoed in the cavern and he looked up to see Julia's face as she raced toward him. But it was too late, the Dryad, the spirit, the soul of the tree had already accepted his offer. Hang on Caorunn. This will get a little rough.
And the world fell away.
Derek was only a second behind Julia and just in time to see something that should have been impossible. Stiles. Sitting beside a familiar stain, Paige, his own bleeding hands on the root...the root growing...growing around Stiles and devouring him until there was only the roots of the dead tree.
And Julia was still screaming. Clutching at her head, ripping at her own flesh, until her illusion of beauty fell away. And then the earth started to shake, and the roots, all of them pulsed and glowed a pale green before they started to move. Julia never had a chance. They reached for her and dragged her into them, underneath the center and her screams reached a crescendo before breaking off with a strangle. And then...the wood glowed so bright it nearly blinded Derek. And...it was all he could do to grab the satchel and knife Stiles had dropped before stumbling out of the cavern.
“Where's Stiles?” Isaac asked, eyes wide, staring behind Derek.
Derek turned to look, and felt his jaw drop. The stump...was no longer a stump. The tree was coming alive, growing up from the roots, growing, stretching. A large strong trunk stood tall once more, branches covered in healthy green leaves reaching to the moon, the stars and the cosmos.
“Well, that was interesting.” All eyes turned from the newly risen tree to Deucalion, flanked by Kali and Scott. “Our little Darach problem has been taken care of then?”
“Mom!” And then Scott was across the clearing, Melissa in his arms.
“Where the Hell is my son Hale?” Derek wasn't sure how to answer the sheriff's question. He could only gesture toward the tree. The man shook his head in denial. “No. No, not Caorunn. Not my son.”
The name seemed to jerk Deucalion out of his amusement. “Caorunn...ah yes. Shellach's son. He inherited his mother's magic then.” He paused. “I'm sorry for your loss.”
The sheriff dropped to his knees and screamed. “Caorunn!”
And the earth began to shake again. The branches of the tree began to wave, as if tossed about by a wind...but there wasn't even a breeze. And before anyone could blink there were arms and hands of wood reaching out from the trunk, stretching across the clearing, faster than even a werewolf...and grabbing Deucalion and Kali. In the blink of an eye they were dragged back to the trunk and absorb into it. Just as Stiles had been below.
Again the tree pulsed and glowed; first pale green and then Alpha red. And then, as if it gave a great sigh, the trunk opened, split really and a naked body tumbled out. It was Stiles. Stiles whose eyes were open and glowing pale green while Celtic designs flowed and glowed all over his pale skin. Celtic knots weaving then disappearing before appearing again.
As if in a trance the boy stood, back to them, and finally the glowing designs all flowed and converged on his back to form the tree of life. It flashed brightly once, twice, before turning black and forming a tattoo. The Tree of Life.
The night air was quiet after that. Stiles’ naked form shivered even though there was no breeze. Melissa was the first to move, taking off her lab coat and slipping it onto Stiles, covering him.
The sheriff's voice was broken as he said his son's name. “Caorunn.”
A gentle laugh flowed along the breeze and Stiles snorted as a woman's voice danced around them. It is finished.
He remembered everything, almost wished he didn't and it was certainly nothing he ever wanted to repeat. Stiles snorted and turned to his dad. “So...some rescue huh?”
“God kid, you're insane.” And then his dad's arms were around him.
There was silence for a moment as everyone let them bond, but eventually Scott broke it. “What just happened? Because it looked like the tree went all Fern Gully on them.”
Stiles settled beside his dad, clutching Melissa's lab coat close to his body. Stupid clothes stealing Dryad. “I locked them up in the tree. They're actually still sort of fighting it out...but they're stuck tight. No escaping for them.”
It was Isaac who grinned. “So...you just ripped off Inuyasha and Fern Gully with your magic.”
Stiles shrugged. “It worked didn't it? Can we leave now? Maybe get me some...clothes. Aw crap.” The world tilted again, much like it had the night before, as he passed out. And just like at the hospital strong arms caught him and kept him from hitting the ground.
He woke up in his own bed. His dad sitting, asleep in the desk chair while Scott, Melissa and Isaac lay piled on his floor, dead to the world.
Stiles found Derek sitting beside him on the bed. “Did we win?”
“Cool...so...what's with the crowd?”
“You weren't hurt, so while you didn't need a hospital Melissa didn't want to leave. Scott and Isaac wouldn't leave her. And your dad threatened to shoot me if I left before we talked.”
“He may have drawn some conclusions.”
“Us. You and me.”
Stiles blinked, because that simply did not compute. “Try that again in English please.”
“He thinks we're dating.”
“Please tell me you're kidding.” Derek just raised a brow. “Please tell me you told him differently.” A shake of the head. “Why didn't you?” And Derek blushed...just a bit...but the tinge of pink was telling enough. “Oh...well...I suppose you could do worse than me. I mean not a serial killer.” A glare. “Too soon?”
“Shut up Stiles.” And then Derek was leaning over him and there were lips and stubble and Stiles could really get used to this.
A throat cleared and Derek pulled away, his dad was glaring at them. “There are going to be ground rules. If these rules are broken Stiles will be grounded and cuffed and never leaving the house.”
Stiles grinned. “Dad, that didn't work when I was eight, when I learned to pick the lock on your cuffs and ran away to Scott's house.”
The sheriff groaned and wiped a hand over his face. “Just...be careful. And you.” He pointed at Derek. “I know where to get Wolfsbane bullets.”
“Alright. I’ve got a mountain of paper work waiting for me at the station. Take it easy son, no more magic for at least a week.”
“No problems there.” Stiles yawned, eyes closing. “Someone should at least toss the others on the guest bed, the floor's not comfy.”
“Go to sleep Stiles.”
“Yeah, yeah. I'm going. Sourwolf.”
As he drifted off he felt warm lips press against his forehead and then he slid into slumber.