Derek and Stiles end up in the same room as Scott and the girl.
Either she’s still asleep or she’s faking it really hard and the sentinels aren’t calling her on it.
Stiles is pretty sure she’s asleep.
All of the rooms on the Sentinel floor are full. The Burn Unit is helplessly overloaded. Pediatrics is no better. It’s a rather horrific three-way competition for who is under the worst strain as the entire hospital fills up.
HALO Flight is working overtime transporting people to other hospitals. Some are going as far as Sacramento and San Francisco.
The fire has fucked so many people.
Yeah, he found his sentinel but having to let someone shoot his sentinel less than an hour later was fucked. Even if it was just a tranquilizer. Completely. Fucked.
Lying in a bed with said sentinel making Stiles the little spoon? Not so fucked.
Well, maybe a little fucked. He isn’t really any smaller than his sentinel – like an inch shorter but with broader shoulders. Okay, he weighs less. Significantly less but the guy makes him feel tiny. And safe. And like he makes the sentinel feel safe, too.
Okay, so, totally not fucked.
Seeing his best friend wrapped around a girl Stiles absolutely does not know kind of tips the scale back towards fucked.
And the hospital bed. Seriously, do they purposely buy horrible beds? Could it be some not-so-evil plot to get you out of them sooner? Like some sort of backhanded motivation to get better?
Derek strokes his hand across Stiles’s stomach and he feels himself relaxing. They should probably talk about the whole bond thing but it feels to him like a private conversation. Privacy doesn’t look like something that will be happening any time soon.
Tension entering his sentinel’s body has him scanning the door. Stiles sends his sentinel happy thoughts as Gavin and Cora Hale enter. They are both wearing hospital gowns and color-coded ID bracelets rather than their normal soul-covers.
Soul-covers are actively and aggressively discouraged on patients in hospitals. Like they cover veins or something.
Gavin’s ID bracelet is light green, identifying him as an unbonded guide. Cora’s is light blue for an unbonded sentinel.
“Emma is a complete badass.” Cora starts without preamble or even a ‘hello’.
Stiles feels Derek shift his head on the pillow behind him. A nod? A head shake? ‘Carry on’ in some sort of super secret, Hale Family head-neck-shoulder speak?
“Uncle Peter got her out of the House – he’s online now, by the way. She’s become the nexus of all Pride communication since the fire. She’s taken over a doctor’s office and even bullied a nurse into giving her a pair of scrubs.”
“Peter came online?” Derek sounds surprised.
Of course he is, Stiles thinks. Peter has to be in his 40’s and who comes online at 40? Something like less than 2% of the population. Maybe. Add to that the fact that Peter Hale had lived most of his life thinking he was mundane and can you say mind fuck?
Now, a Hale – in this case Sentinel Archer Hale – having two mundanes in his brood had been quite a thing. It just didn’t happen. People were shocked. People were scared. If the Hale Family was having problems conceiving sentinels was it a sign of problems for sentinels everywhere?
People are stupid.
When the blood tests became reliable (but still expensive as fuck) about twenty years ago, everyone found out Peter wasn’t mundane. He was latent. A sentinel with his genetic match online, active and married with a two year old daughter.
“They think because of the fire,” Cora gives them an awkward look and a shrug. “People as far away as Las Vegas are coming online because of the danger to the Pride. Peter’s in one of the S-n-G Center bonding rooms with Chris right now. Guess he really is Uncle Chris now, huh?”
“I am not calling Kate ‘cousin’.” Gavin shot out viciously. “She’s several apples short of a barrel. It’s a fiery barrel, too, covered in nails that point outwards. Really, really sharp nails. Nails and razor blades.”
“And that would be really weird for Derek.” Cora looks approximately 12 with her face scrunched up that way. “I can’t believe you kissed her.”
“Can we focus?” Stiles’s irritation is irrationally soothed a little by his sentinel’s irritation.
“They are calling it an attack. Asking everyone about people with grudges against our family. Or if it’s someone against Deaton and Deucalion taking over California for mom and dad because they were so close to the Center when things were bad. Why are they calling it an attack?”
Tension takes his sentinel’s frame by storm so fast that it is actually painful. “Because it smelled like napalm. And a little bit of thermite.”
Cora looks affronted. “I didn’t-. But-. What?”
“Even Hale Family sentinels don’t learn everything before they leave high school, Cora. This summer will be big for you.” Derek’s voice cut off abruptly and returned gentle. “Bigger, if you bond.”
Cora nods once. “Dad, Uncle Jacob and Sam were on the third floor.”
“They were putting together gear for the camping trip this weekend. We were all going to take the school-aged sentinels out to the lake. Mom and I were late. The restaurant messed up our lunch.”
“They didn’t make it out. Several sentinels outside heard them say something about a pregnant woman trapped on the first floor.”
Derek nods stiffly. He’d heard it too.
“Deucalion and Uncle Peter were on the second floor with this one,” Cora jabs a thumb towards Scott’s teddy bear causing Scott to growl a little. “Her dad and Emma. Peter got them out while Deucalion also went after the pregnant woman.”
“Sophia was in the nursery with Aunt Ava. Chloe was running the pre-kindergarten/pre-school field trip and collapsed when Sophie died. We haven’t gotten word about what happened to Ava’s bondmate, yet.”
“And that’s probably a bad thing,” Gavin chips in, subdued.
“Laura was out back with her and Aunt Linda’s group of toddlers but Linda had gone back in the house to talk to Uncle Jacob. So,” Cora frowned.
“They figure out who the pregnant woman is? Was?”
Cora bit her lit and glanced at Gavin.
“Victoria Argent.” Stiles can feel Derek’s gut goes cold. Gavin hesitates but carried on. “Emma said she and Kate showed up to give Peter the latest ultrasound pictures.”
“Good news, though!” Cora’s voice is happy in a painfully forced way. “Peter’s online and bonding. Laura found her guide and is bonding. You found your guide and you’re, uh, here. Scott, too! Emma is a total boss and she is systematically destroying the stereotype that mundanes born in Sentinel/Guide families are somehow faulty.”
Gavin nods. “Seriously, I will never allow anyone to talk down about or to a mundane ever again.”
“Blair and Jim are coming to help and probably bringing half of their Pride. Uncle Patrick and Uncle Jethro are coming-”
“And probably half of their Pride.”
Gavin and Cora aren’t really twins, right? They are in the same grade and everything but they have different birthdays. There are months between them, right? Like 10 months?
“-Uncle Jethro will want to handle the investigation but Blair has already asked a sentinel team from L.A. to come up.” Cora finishes up.
“The FBI will have jurisdiction over NCIS.” Stiles can feel his sentinel’s headshake. “That’s going to be a mess.”
Derek’s famous sister Emma chooses that moment to show up with a clipboard full of papers, a sheaf of post-it notes, and no less than three cell phones. She nods her way through an unnecessary round of introductions and stays just outside of both Derek and Scott’s invisible comfort zones. She makes no attempt to touch or even look too long at either of the pre-bonding pairs in the room, and manages to send Gavin and Cora packing with a glance and a gesture before turning her attention to Derek.
“On the personal, family front, I don’t have much good news.” She reports. “Grandpa Archer won’t be coming home. Pawpaw was deeply affected by today’s events and apparently collapsed. He is stable for the time being but it is very touch and go. Their local alpha indicated they were aware of the depths of our problems here before I managed to get through to him. The Everglade Pride was already circling the wagons for Gramps and Pawpaw when I spoke with them.
“Svetlana and Gage will be coming to town, though. They are already on the way with able bodies and supplies.” Svetlana was the Hale Family Alpha Guide before Talia Sheppard joined the clan. Gage Hale being Svetlana’s sentinel. Stiles swallows and stamps down on his nerves.
“I bet those gossips already told you about Uncle Peter?” Stiles can feel Derek nod behind him. “Did they tell you Adrian Harris came online and is right now bonding with Laura?”
Stiles wanted to gag. The idea of Mr. Harris having sex is enough to turn his stomach. Pairing him up with someone as hot as Laura Hale just makes it worse.
A small spike of fear shooting out of Emma grabs Stiles’s attention before it could wander. Before he could start picturing it. Thank god. “I know sentinels can bond without training but I didn’t think guides could.” It sounded like a statement but it was definitely a question. Seriously? Is this a Hale Family thing or what?
“We can,” Stiles tries to reassure her. “Of course, we can. Bonding is actually instinctual for both halves of a pairing but we aren’t supposed to. It’s not encouraged because bonding wakes up more of the sentinel and guide’s abilities and needs. Without training, it’s just really hard to manage the sentinel’s new needs, your own abilities and the physiological changes caused by bonding.
“But school teachers are taught the basics of meditation, grounding, centering and shielding. Harris has to be able to control and quiet his mind in all kinds of situations, otherwise he couldn’t teach sentinel and guide kids. They should be fine but the Center will probably keep someone with them to monitor them, just in case.”
Emma gives a single, decisive nod and turns back to her list.
“The Sheppard Clan is already on the way because mom and dad gave blanket permission for Uncle Patrick to visit as long as they call first. They have provided formal notice of intent, however, requesting permission to bring more of their Pride in to bolster ours. I have it here if you want to review and approve it.
“The Argent Clan wants to send a crew including their heir-apparent, her sentinel, mother and brother. That’s a bonded pair and two unbonded guides. Apparently they have something to settle with our Argents that requires someone well placed in their Pride structure.”
Stiles isn’t really sure what’s going on with the information dump but Derek just keeps nodding behind him like the verbal newsfeed is expected. That’s when it occurs to Stiles that Derek must be the senior Hale sentinel right now. All of his elders are either bonding or, Stiles swallows, dead.
“With standard security,” Derek agrees.
Whatever that means. Stiles doesn’t huff at his lack of understanding but it’s hard.
Emma nods, “With standard security,” she agrees, making a note on her board.
“The Sun Clan wants to send some people our way, too. As ‘a show of international sentinel solidarity.’ ”
Stiles can’t help shifting around as his sentinel’s disquiet seeps into the room. The Hales and the Suns are the world’s two major sentinel clans and while no one would call them rivals, they definitely have very different opinions on what’s ‘best for the tribe’.
“A pair or two that aren’t alpha or from the primary line should be fine.” Stiles turns his head and raises eyebrows at Derek. “Maybe a few unbondeds?”
Derek nods and his unease lessens slowly. “No Wolf Guides. A small group, and no security. We will supply their security.”
Emma nods. “The name they threw me was Maria Hill. She’s an American and registered as having a Mountain Lion for her spirit guide. Her sentinel-husband and their son would come with. There is an unbonded daughter of the primary line attending CalSci waiting to make her way up as soon as we give the go ahead. I’ll make our demands clear to them.”
Stiles acknowledges the tiredness in his bones with a jaw popping yawn, prompting Derek to start settling them both more comfortably on the bed, bringing covers up and nestling the blankets around them. “Anything else?”
“Two last things. First, Victoria Argent’s body was removed from the House. Physically, she’s stable, burned but stable, and Peter’s baby is fine, but she isn’t responding mentally or emotionally. The doctors are thinking it could be anything from brain damage to total death of personality. With her husband and medical proxy off bonding with the baby’s father for who knows how long, they are asking the Pride for a decision.”
Victoria Argent is a horrible human being as far as Stiles is concerned. And not in a good way. She’s a total, full-blown psycho. She says and does all the right things but she always leaves him feeling like she’s a hairsbreadth from killing them all. Painfully. In their sleep. With acid and paperclips.
He has no idea how Chris can touch her. Or how he can let her touch him.
And really? Who’s idea was it for that woman to breed? Not once! Not twice! But four fucking times?
Stile sighs. Maybe he should abstain from voicing any opinions about the woman.
“When Blair gets here, have him do an assessment.”
“Sandburg isn’t that kind of doctor, Derek.”
“No, but it takes an Alpha Guide to diagnose death of personality and you can’t get more alpha than Blair in the United States. He can make the call on behalf of the Center and leave our family and personal feelings out of it. What’s the other thing?”
“Just a minute, let me get him.” Emma is literally gone for a minute. Emma returns with the father of Scott’s teddy bear in tow. The guy must have been waiting close by.
Teddybear manages to reassure Scott enough to get a hug from her father but not enough for Scott to let him linger in their space.
Daddybear turns to Stiles and Derek with a small smile and almost bow. “I understand I owe your family an apology.” The man waved his splinted hand. “I unduly attacked a member of your family, your Peter Hale.”
“How about we start with your name?” Derek interrupts aggressively, prompting Emma to back the man up a good two steps.
“I am Sun Yukimura. That is my daughter, Kira.”
“You’re the guy from the Korean Embassy!” Stiles blurts out completely mindlessly.
Feeling his sentinel’s curiosity, Stiles continues. “About six months ago, a girl came online in Korea. An American whose parents work for the U.S. Embassy there. One of the local alphas kidnapped her and tried to force her to bond with his son. When we- When Embassy Security got her back the Korean government claimed that, regardless of citizenship, she came online in Korea therefore she is subject to Korean Guide Law. Guides aren’t even legally considered human in Korea so the sentinels had been within their rights to take their property. -”
This draws an angry rumble from both sentinels still in the room.
“Right.” He pats the hand that has once again started petting his belly. And what is up with that? “I read that they got her out of there in some kind of crazy midnight helicopter extraction thing but they never gave her name. Or they did and I just remembered the ‘Yukimura’ part.”
“You are correct. Kira and I fled the country as soon as they could get us out. We couldn’t take my wife because she is a Japanese citizen, not U.S. It was felt that even a rumor of Americans ‘kidnapping’ my wife, the mother of a guide, would cause even more problems because of how explosive that entire region can be when it comes to Sentinel/Guide issues. Now, Noshiko’s departure keeps getting strangely delayed.”
“So it’s completely understandable that you would attack an unknown sentinel for, from your point of view, stealing your daughter. But an apology or a thank you to Peter probably wouldn’t go amiss. Maybe both.” Stiles looks behind him. “Are flowers a sentinel-appropriate gift?” Sentinel amusement is really addictive. At least the amusement of his sentinel is. “Why would you need to apologize to us?”
Derek goes still, his amusement petering off.
“I was meeting with Peter and Talia to negotiate my daughter’s place in the Hale Family Pride. As you,” indicating the contents of the bed. Of Derek and Stiles’s bed. “Are now Head of the family, negotiations must begin anew, and an apology is an important point of etiquette.”
“What? Head of the family? Derek?” He looks over his shoulder but the jerk just rolls onto his back and away from Stiles with a resigned sigh and eye roll so pronounced Stiles can feel it. Stiles looks away from Mr. Useless to Emma.
“The Hale Family has always been lead by a Wolf Guide, Stiles. That is why leadership skipped from Great Uncle Gage’s guide to mom, and now, to you. Once you complete your bond, you and Derek will be Head of House Hale.”
Head of House Hale? The Hale Clan is the reason there is a Beacon Hills, California. They are half the reason the Sentinel/Guide Center exists in the United States. They are why their kind are safe in basically all of the Western Hemisphere. They are advocates and instigators for all kinds of equality movements around the world.
Panic floods Stiles’s system. His gut is frozen. He’s light headed. He can hardly breathe! His heart is trying to beat right out of his chest-
A large, warm hand slides over his shoulder and settles in the middle of his chest. Waves of nonsense crash on Stiles’s ears. Most of it washes over his head but some of it settles in and comforts him. “Hey, there. It’s okay. You’re okay. We don’t have to do anything you are not comfortable with. It’s fine. It’s okay. We have options. We can get Svetlana to take back family leadership until you are ready. We can go to school, if you want. I can re-activate and we can go military. We can just travel once you graduate. We don’t have to do anything.”
Eventually, Stiles manages to settle back against the chest of his favorite jerk in existence. “You knew this was coming? You’ve been trained for this since you were a kid or something, right?-”
He can feel Derek nod behind him. “Laura’s more alpha than I am but she doesn’t have a Wolf Guide and that’s a big deal to our family. It won’t stop her from taking over California for mom since Deucalion can’t. Or taking over the Southwest from Gage. She’ll just have to yield to us on family matters.”
“I need to know more. I need to know everything.” Okay, so maybe he’s still panicking. “I need to understand all about sentinels, guides, your family. I can’t decide anything until I understand. Until- ” Where’s his laptop? He needs his school bag. Google, heed your master!
“I know my mom was a big believer in Earth magic, stuff about telluric currents influencing humanity and vice versa. There are books. Journals. In the Family Archives. All our records are there.” Good. Great! Knowledge is power and comfort and – Stiles sighs as he is, once again, pulled against Derek’s chest and made to settle. Stiles lets the conversation flow around him.
Second big revelation and second tragedy in one day, he is so incredibly done but also comforted as he lets sleep roll over his mind and body.
Derek will stand watch.