Winter in Beacon Hills involves weak flurries and sleet and miserable balls-aching cold, but it doesn't involve sledding. So when a significant portion of the Beacon Hills Preserve ends up coated in three entire inches of snow three entire weeks before Christmas, the pack looks into it.
If by looking into it one means packing a bunch of garbage bags and huge Tupperware lids into the back of Stiles' Jeep to go look for a decent sledding hill.
"I fail to see the reason in this," Lydia says. It's her third or fourth reminder that they're not actually getting shit done, and Stiles is fairly certain it's only because she's uncomfortably chilly in a pair of leggings under a mini skirt and an oversized sweater. She followed behind them in her car, texting to say she wanted to be able to leave at a normal, reasonable time, and not after hypothermia had set in.
"If you owned a pair of pants," he calls out, "you'd be having more fun."
"I'd be having more fun and, again, I'd be failing to determine the source of this unnatural, potentially magical snowfall."
"She's right," Derek says. He's standing near Lydia with his arms crossed and his hair dusted with snowflakes and he looks miserable, but it's hard to tell if it's because he's missing out on fun because he's too dignified for sledding, or if he's actually concerned about the snow and its dubious origins.
Stiles exhales hard, irritated, and blows the tassel from his hat out of his face. "Fine, be a fun-killer." He picked the hat up at Target on the way out to the preserve and it's covered in embroidered woodchucks and it might be for toddlers, but it's warm. Also, woodchucks.
Scott gives way less than an adequate warning in the form of a happy whoop, and slams into Stiles' legs from behind. And Stiles is pretty sure he does an entire triple lutz before he lands face first in the snow.
"I guess we should look into it," Scott's saying when Stiles finishes picking the snow out of his ears and his nose. He notices that Derek is now smiling, and offers him a runny-nosed glare.
They leave the lids and bags in a pile on a big oak tree stump that makes a perfect sort of table and head off in the direction of a small, stormy-looking cloud. This seems like a super bad idea, which excites Stiles slightly more than sledding. He follows Scott's tracks at a cheerful jog, watching his breath fog in front of his face.
"Were you always this short?" Stiles asks Lydia when she catches up to him.
"I don't own utility boots, Stiles," she says, sounding pained. "I borrowed my mother's, and I think we're all aware of her taste level. They're flats."
Stiles makes a face, which almost results in getting his tongue stuck to his own chin. Seriously though, Lydia is approximately zero feet tall. High heels must be pretty magical.
"You should be keeping an eye on your surroundings," Derek says from behind them.
"You should live a little," Stiles calls back. He makes a zooming gesture with his hand, trying to demonstrate how completely awesome sledding was. His briefs might be wet with slush, but he has now joined the fine ranks of Calvin and Hobbes and it was kind of a life goal, and no amount of snow on his nuts is going to bring him down.
"Get down!" Derek yells.
It turns out snow faeries look more like winged, shrively senior citizens than cartoon pixies. They have fangs too. "Always with the fangs," Stiles says, spitting Lydia's hair out of his mouth. She makes a muffled sound that isn't entirely grateful, despite the fact that Stiles valiantly tossed her face-first into a snowbank and shielded her with his own body.
His woodchuck hat fell off somewhere in the process, and he paws around for it while the faerie darts and swoops. It's about the size of a toddler — so fangs or not he isn't feeling particularly concerned.
Scott's wolfed out, baring his teeth and claws. An icy winter wind whips his enormous scarf around like a banner. Derek manages to look more suitably menacing, swiping a hand at the faerie as it passes by like a deranged bird.
"That little thing made all this snow?" Lydia asks quietly. She rolls over to sit and brushes the snow off her chest delicately.
"I don't know, let's ask it," Stiles says. And he's mostly kidding until it occurs to him that the only other thing they're doing is watching two werewolves attempt to play badminton with it. "Hey!" he shouts. "Did you make all this snow?"
The faerie turns slowly, reminding Stiles of a remote control helicopter, her wings going all buzzing-crazy and it would be kind of cool if it didn't look so much like a miniature great-grandmother.
"You dare address me, child?" she asks, rasping and sounding a lot like Stiles' eighth grade English teacher. He kind of expects her to continue with a lecture on diagraming sentences.
"Yes ma'am?" he offers, genuinely trying to be polite, because his eighth grade English teacher scared the crap out of him and that was the only time he had to actually work pretty hard for an A.
"We were wondering why you decided to make it snow here," Lydia says. She tucks her hair behind one ear and smiles tightly.
"Wondering? Or attacking me with your guard dogs?" the faerie screeches out.
"Dudes," Stiles says, addressing Scott and Derek in the low voice he knows they can hear. "Back off a little."
"Maybe a little of both?" Lydia says, grimacing.
"You startled us." Stiles waves his hands. "With the swooping."
"And the shrieking."
Scott clears his throat. "I don't think you guys are helping?"
"This isn't your territory," Derek says. "This is Hale land occupied by the McCall pack."
"We don't abide by the boundaries set by men and their dogs," the faerie says, turning back to face Derek and Scott. "Your beasts cough and sputter and choke our air. You kill our trees and litter our land with your toys and your screaming children." Her voice goes thin, but it booms, and icicles shake down from the trees around them. "You spit filth on our mountains and dare to call it snow!"
"Is she talking about a ski resort?" Stiles asks.
Lydia sighs. "She's definitely talking about a ski resort."
"Lady, we think that stuff sucks too," Stiles says. "Have you tried snowboarding on that man-made stuff? It's like trying to skate on gravel."
Lydia sits up straighter. "We don't really like children either. There's a reason I don't babysit."
"Honestly, I don't know any children personally," Stiles says. "So I don't have a strong opinion on that. Global warming and deforestation though? Totally a thing."
"Stiles," Derek says, low and warning.
Given Stiles' ability to incite homicidal behavior amongst his teachers, it's not un-shocking when the faerie attacks them. It is, however, slightly shocking when she starts shooting blue lasers like a fucking Stormtrooper.
A couple of the beams hit the snow around Stiles and Lydia. Upon impact, the snow turns into diamond-like shards of ice that look super sharp and uncool.
"Move, move!" Stiles says, pushing Lydia up the snowbank. They can hide on the other side. He winces apologetically and shoves her butt with both hands. "Sorry sorry sorry."
Judging by the growls and snarls and shrieks and whooshing sounds, Scott and Derek have drawn her attention away. Stiles tumbles over the edge of the snowbank behind Lydia and lands more or less on top of her.
"There's a near-balletic grace about you that never fails to astound me," she says.
"Seconded only by my negotiation skills," Stiles says. "I know."
They both duck as one of the faerie's beams hit the tree beside them. The bark freezes and shatters like glass, sending frozen shrapnel at them.
"You're bleeding," Stiles says, brushing his thumb at a small cut below Lydia's eye. "Keep your head down. I'm going to make sure Scott and Derek aren't pupsicles."
He's halfway up the bank when Lydia grabs him by the leg of the baggy snow pants he dug out of the back of Scott's closet. "Stiles, wait. Don't," she says, looking upset and very serious in a way that would make Stiles' hair stand on end if he wasn't already covered in wet snow and a zillion goosebumps. The banshee thing is never not eerie.
"It's fine," he says. And it is. He barely feels it when one of the faerie's beams catches him square in the chest, right over his heart. It's just cold.
"Stiles!" Lydia screams, batting at his chest in a panic as he slides back down the bank and into her arms.
"I'm fine!" He's more startled than anything else. As far as he can tell he hasn't exploded or turned to ice or shattered or died. He just feels like somebody punched him and knocked the wind out of him and replaced it with an aching chill. "Lydia! Lydia!" It takes a lot of effort to catch her wrists and still them. "I'm fine. It must have grazed me."
"You stay down here with me and let the werewolves handle this," she hisses, bright-eyed and freaking Stiles out more than the faerie's stupid beam did. "You idiot."
He doesn't like being bossed around or missing a werewolf vs. ancient flying granny ice monster fight, but if he's being honest, getting turned into a probably dead snowman is not high on his list of winter break activities. So he holds still and strains to listen to the sounds of a scuffle behind them.
There aren't any sounds of a scuffle behind them.
"What if they're frozen?" he asks, actually starting to worry, which sucks even more than the dull ache at his sternum. "Lydia. We can't just hide here."
"All right." Lydia shoves him off her lap. "We go over together. But if they're not there, we run."
"That's our entire plan?"
"Just go," she says.
When they clear the top of the bank again, the snowy clearing is quiet.
Stiles feels a deep wave of resentment when he sees Scott and Derek just standing there. It's like they don't even care that the crazy little whirlybird almost turned Stiles and Lydia into ice carvings.
Stiles doesn't answer her. He slides down the snowbank and wobbles to stand. He's cold and sick of being out here, and Scott and Derek shouldn't have brought them along in the first place if they were going to deal with the entire problem on their own and make the humans look like a couple of useless, weak liabilities as usual.
"Stiles!" Lydia pulls on his sleeve.
"What?" he snaps, shoving her hand away.
She takes a full step away and brushes more snow away from her body and watches him with a strange expression. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." His feet feel like bricks though, and he has to reach for her to stand without toppling over. "Sorry," he mumbles, getting his fingers tangled in the sleeves of her sweater. He's not really angry at Lydia. He's just cold.
"Don't worry about it." She sounds worried about it.
"What happened?" Scott asks, jogging up to them all flushed and no longer wolfed-out. Derek follows, looking wary or concerned or just bored.
"Nothing, obviously," Stiles says. "You guys clearly had it under control."
Scott blinks at him.
"Where is she? How did you get her to leave?" Lydia asks. "Is she taking the snow with her?"
"She'll take the snow away if we prove ourselves worthy," Derek says, sounding like he doesn't think that's feasible.
Scott glances at the canopy above them. "She stopped fighting us and said we have until the sun goes down, and just flew off."
"Haven't you guys seen a single movie in your entire lives?" Stiles asks, crossing his arms. "That's a textbook raw deal. When the sun goes down, you're going to end up with a mermaid tail or a billy goat beard or... or." God, he's cold. What was he saying?
Lydia makes a concerned sound. "He got—"
"I got my underwear wet when we fell down the snowbank. Are we allowed to figure out how to be worthy at home or do we have to stand here freezing our metaphorical and or literal tails off in the snow until the sun goes down?"
"She didn't say anything about that," Scott says.
"And of course you didn't think to ask important questions," Stiles says, biting the words out. "Like what we're actually supposed to do or what happens at sundown when we inevitably screw it up. You pissed off an elemental faerie and let her give us a nonsensical ultimatum. Good job." He starts walking toward his Jeep, and pushes at Derek and Scott as he passes, because it feels good to make impact, to watch their expressions change.
They can come back tomorrow to get the sledding stuff. It'll be muddy and gross but anything's better than this stupid cold.
It takes about a million years to walk back to the road where the Jeep and Lydia's car are parked. Stiles spends the whole time rubbing his arms and clenching his teeth and ignoring the incessant hush of lowered voices behind him. They're keeping secrets from him, all three of them.
When he reaches the Jeep, his fingers feel stiff, and it hurts to close them around his keys. The tip of his ignition key makes a scritch-squeak sound against his Jeep's paint job as he misses the lock by a mile.
"Stiles," Derek says, right behind him, startling him so bad he drops the keys into the snow.
"What the hell, Derek!"
"What is the matter with you?" Derek bends and grabs the keys for him, and when he stands, he stares at Stiles. "What is the matter with your hair?"
"It's called hat hair. Which reminds me, I lost my hat. My awesome woodchuck hat. You guys are the worst. This whole day is the worst." Stiles could go on and on about how terrible everything is, but Derek grabs him and shoves his face in front of the side mirror, which kinds of hurts. "Ow, what is your problem?"
"Look at your hair, Stiles," Derek says, in his means-business werewolf voice.
At first it looks like a trick of the light or the frost on the glass. "What the hell?" Stiles whispers.
There's a shock of pure white hair streaking back from one side of his forehead.
"Did she hit you?" Derek asks. He's shaking Stiles by the shoulder, which, again, with the pressing his face into the side of the Jeep and bonking his forehead against the side mirror.
"Stiles. The faerie. Did her magic hit you? Answer me!"
"Maybe? A little. Is that going to wash out? I look like an idiot. Stop shaking me!"
Derek stops shaking him and starts shouting for Lydia and Scott, which is the opposite of what Stiles wants. Stiles wants to go home, and for all three of them to go away.
He slides down the driver's side door and sits in the snow, because it seems like a really good idea. "Can't you just ride with them?" he mumbles. "Just. Carpool. With Lydia. And Scott. Leave me alone."
"Lydia," Derek says. "What happened?"
"He said he was fine." Lydia's pacing in a tiny circle. "I think she hit him, but it wasn't like the way — when it made ice and froze things. He didn't... I didn't think it hurt him."
Derek hits the Jeep with an open palm and Stiles can't even muster the energy to complain about it. "You didn't think to tell us that before we left the clearing?"
"You did not communicate any particular significance to leaving the clearing!" Lydia shouts.
Scott crouches beside Stiles. "What does this mean? What's happening to him?"
"It depends," Derek says. "Where did it hit him?"
"I don't know. His shoulder? It was hard to see."
"My heart," Stiles supplies, tapping the sore spot. "Right on the money."
"We have to go back to where she was." Derek takes Stiles by the wrist. "Help me, Scott."
"What?" Stiles tries to wriggle away from them, but they have a severely unfair advantage, and haul him to his feet like he weighs nothing. It's weird, because he feels like he weighs a million pounds. "I don't want to go back I want to go home."
"You'll be dead before you get home," Derek says, suitably grim about it.
Scott bypasses grim and goes straight for hysterical. "Dead? What!"
"Stiles," Lydia says, touching his face, and then wincing. "He's freezing. He feels like ice. Colder than ice. How can he be that cold?"
"It's magic. It's strong magic." Derek knows a lot about magical things. He's like a really good-looking bestiary.
They keep talking and arguing and going over ideas on what does and does not constitute proving oneself and which one of them is actually supposed to do the proving and Stiles zones out. By the time it occurs to him that Derek is carrying him, he's already being handed off to Scott.
"I got you, buddy," Scott says, shivering. "Hang on."
"Derek, your hands," Lydia is saying. Stiles squints to try to focus, and sees her grabbing his fingers. They're frostbitten.
Derek balls his hands into fists. "It'll heal."
Stiles hears Scott wincing, and feels him shifting his weight, and it clicks into place like a little snap in his brain. "Oh my God. I'm hurting you guys," he says, trying to get Scott to put him down. His best efforts amount to weak squirming.
"Stiles, hold still. We're almost there."
The clearing with the big snowbank is still empty and quiet. There aren't any flappy-winged snow faeries, and the shadows are long and the sky is a muddy grey and Stiles loathes being this useless. He can barely keep his eyes open, and he's cold in a way that doesn't feel like hanging out in the freezer section at the grocery store or getting splashed with cold water. It feels like dying. Like all of his insides are locking up.
When Scott puts him down, he braces himself against the snow, and the snow beneath his bare fingers turns to solid ice. It makes a cracking sound, and the ice feathers out in beautiful geometric shapes. Huh.
"Stay back," Derek says, pulling Lydia away. "He can't touch you now."
"Wait." Stiles looks up. The three of them are staring at him, all equally horrified-looking, and it's the first time he can recall Scott, Lydia and Derek sharing what could even marginally be construed as the same expression. "What?"
Lydia presses her lips together. "Stiles. Your hair's all white and you're sort of... blue-ish."
"You look like a frozen body," Scott says unhappily.
"Try to summon her," Derek says.
"Are you serious? Summon? Should I ring a tiny bell or chant in Latin? The last time I summoned a faerie was, let's see, never." Stiles talks faster than normal, every syllable chattering out of him. He's shivering so hard it's not like shivering at all, it's like one body-wide clenching cramp, and it hurts like hell.
"Stiles, you need to try." There's a thin, worried sound to Derek's voice, and it occurs to Stiles that this isn't a joke. At all.
"All right," Stiles says quietly. He knows he can be a spark, but sparks are warm and bright and he feels cold and dim. "Hey, um. Snow faerie," he calls out. "Little help over here?"
"What else do you know about these things," Scott asks Derek. He hovers near Stiles, but doesn't reach for him the way Stiles knows he normally would. He doesn't blame him. Scott's hands are angry and raw where he held onto Stiles.
"This area isn't known for her kind. There are rumors of summer creatures cursing trespassers with fevers and... other kinds of fevers. But I've never seen anything like this in person. There's usually a key, some way of reversing the curse."
"Like a kiss?" Lydia asks.
"No one should kiss me," Stiles says, for definitely the first time in his life. "I'd freeze your face."
"This isn't a Disney movie." There's something comforting in how irritated Derek sounds. It also makes Stiles wonder if Derek has seen cartoons. If he grew up like a normal kid, staying up late to watch Hercules on the Disney Channel.
"Yeah that faerie would have been cuter if it was," Stiles says.
Scott kicks snow at him. "You need to concentrate. Come on, Stiles!"
Concentration is actually really difficult. Stiles is so cold he can't even panic properly or work up the kind of keen fear that gives him the edge he needs to keep up with werewolves and people who grew up using weapons. There's a little anger left though, the cranky-cold-darkness that made him feel grumpy toward the people he cares about the most. He grabs onto that anger and punches his hand down at the snow, and it sends a whooshing geyser of ice and snow up around him, that breaks apart and turns into a bunch of shimmering snowflakes and twinkling bits of icicles and oops.
Scott stares. "Whoa."
"Maybe don't do that again," Lydia says, shielding her eyes as the last bits of snow and ice fall around them.
"What is it you want, boy?" The snow faerie says.
"Oh hey." Stiles tries to point, but his fingers won't move. "There she is."
Derek pushes his shoulders back and doesn't exactly wolf out, but his teeth are bared. "Curse me instead," he says.
Stiles groans. "Seriously dude?"
"He has people who rely on him," Derek says. "People who love him."
The snow faerie glances between them. Her face is wrinkled and saggy, and the skin jiggles when she moves. "And you, werewolf Hale? You do not?"
"We like Derek," Lydia offers.
"Derek's pack," Scott says, expression twisted up miserably. "Stiles is pack. We're all... Everyone is important."
Stiles try to say of course Derek has people who care about him, and they'd probably love him too if given the opportunity, if they were allowed to and their dad hadn't expressly banned them from dating until after high school and if all the potential sneaking around to date free time available wasn't being spent sneaking around trying to put an end to supernatural bullshit. Instead, another groan comes out. And it's more of a shivering cry. He can't move his hands. They're solid. They're clear.
"Bad," he manages. This is bad. This is bad times.
"Stiles!" Scott shouts, wolfed out and circling him. He looks so panicked. It's awful. Stiles wants to tell him it's okay, but it's not actually okay. His freaking hands are made of ice.
"D-don't touch." Stiles gasps. "Don't touch me!"
"I'm not — I won't." Scott gets this nasally sort of tone when he's wolfed out. He whirls on the faerie, but she's hovering out of reach. "Stop it! It's going to kill him!"
"The sun is setting. His time is up," she says. She looks at Stiles keenly. Her eyes are black, like glittering little stones. "You may ask one thing of me, but it cannot be to change your fate."
Is this like death row? When you get a cheeseburger or a lobster or some other kind of tasty consolation prize that's supposed to make you feel less crappy about being dead in a few minutes?
Stiles snarls against a sob, because he doesn't want to die crying in front of a stupid, ugly faerie.
"Stiles," Derek says. He sounds awful. It isn't helping.
"Shut up I'm thinking!"
She's not a genie. He can't ask for world peace or even peace for his friends. She's a snow faerie. He can probably ask her to leave Beacon Hills, but ultimately a small patch of snow in the preserve isn't the worst thing ever, it's not so bad, not worth a last request, is it?
The worst thing ever, Stiles thinks, will be his dad finding out he died turning into an ice sculpture.
Stiles looks up. Derek, Scott and Lydia are crouched in front of him, watching him, and he'd pretty much sell his right arm for a hug right now. But he knows better, because his right arm is ice, and the ice extends into the snow, turning it into more ice, and he doesn't want to freeze his friends. His best friends. They're his best friends.
Scott's crying, and Stiles loves him so much. "We're right here," Scott says. "I'm right here."
"My d-dad," Stiles says. He can't move at all now. When he blinks, his eyes won't open again. It's a claustrophobic, terrible feeling. "Pl-please turn me back to normal when it's done." He didn't go to the viewing when his mom died, but his babysitter, one of the deputies, told him it meant a lot to grownups, to his father, to say goodbye, even though his mom's soul was already up in heaven, safe and not hurting anymore. "Please, for my dad," he whispers in a rush, before his lips won't move anymore.
Stiles is cold.
"I think he's waking up," Scott says. His fingers slap gently against Stiles' face, which number one, rude, and number two — what?
"Stop," Stiles coughs out, considering slapping Scott's hand away, except, what if that turns him to ice? He opens his eyes instead. "Be careful!"
"See? I told you he's fine," Derek says. "Probably not even concussed."
"Who's having more fun now?" Lydia asks with a smirk. There's a strain of worry around her eyes, but not a proportional amount of worry considering what just happened.
There's no cut under her eye either.
Stiles flails his way to sitting up. "What the actual — what?"
"I don't know." Scott frowns and starts running his fingers through Stiles' hair like he's feeling for cracks in his head. "He seems concussed to me."
"Where's the snow faerie? What happened?"
Derek stares at him. "All right. Yes, he's concussed."
"Scott sledded into you and you flipped over and hit your head on, well, Scott's head," Lydia says. "Because only you two could make sledding with plastic lids a potentially life-threatening activity."
"What? What about the snow?" Stiles asks. "The snow. Magic, what?"
Lydia holds up her phone. "Weather report just came in. Just a record-breaking cold front. It should melt by tomorrow afternoon."
"Just... to be crystal clear here." A short, hysterical laugh bubbles out of Stiles. "There haven't been any flying, you know, old ladies. Around here. Shooting Stormtrooper lasers or cursing people? And no one's, for example, dead?"
"We better take him to the hospital," Scott says, sighing. "My mom's gonna kill me."
"Oh my God." Stiles grabs him. "You're still a werewolf, right?"
"A what?" Scott asks, eyes huge, before Derek slaps him in the back of the head, pretty hard.
Stiles yelps when Derek picks him up by the scruff of his jacket and hauls him to his feet.
"Only werewolves have heads that hard," Derek grumbles, dragging Stiles toward their parked cars.
Scott and Lydia head for Lydia's car. They don't seem too concerned. Lydia punches Scott's arm and tells him not to tease someone with a head injury, but she's grinning. They're both happy and no one's crying and relief is such a huge, warm thing it makes Stiles' legs feel like Jello.
"Give me your car keys."
For once, Stiles doesn't even argue. He pushes the keys into Derek's hand, and then, since he's got Derek's hand sort of there, he grabs onto Derek's wrist awkwardly.
Derek goes still, looking at him. "What did you mean by snow faerie. Did you read about that somewhere?"
"Oh that." Stiles shakes his head quickly. It doesn't even hurt. He's cold and shivering in a totally normal way, and Derek's skin is really warm. "No, totally just a bump on the head, Dorothy kind of thing obviously."
"Hey, so I know we've all been busy and my dad says I am under too much pressure from extraneous supernatural events to make good life choices, specifically romantic ones, but I'm pretty sure he's just worried I won't be safe and that I'll make him a grandpa before he's ready, but like—"
"Stiles. What." Derek glances over his shoulder as Lydia and Scott pull up beside them.
Stiles waves her off. "We're fine! Right behind you, honestly."
Scott leans over the console and gives him a frowny, concerned look, but Lydia rolls her eyes and drives off.
"What do you want, Stiles?" Derek asks warily.
"Do you want to go on a date? And before you say no, it's not because I hit my head. I mean, you can say no, of course you can say no. But don't say no because you think I'm crazy. I'm not."
Derek looks down at Stiles' hand wrapped around his wrist. "What kind of date?"
"I don't know. I've never been on a date."
"You're a senior in high school. You've never been on a date?" Derek gives him a look that makes Stiles' gut twist. His maybe I just died or at least definitely hallucinated dying bravado is rapidly dwindling.
"Werewolves," Stiles says lamely. "Stuff." What he doesn't say is that once he and Lydia made out a few times and realized they were in love in a way that doesn't involve kissing or dates, he didn't want to date anyone else. People at school didn't give him the annoying little thrills in his belly (or wherever) that Derek did, and he's been blaming it on pack, on the bond that exists between all of them, but it's not that. It is that. It's more than that.
"And you want to go on a date with... me? What, for practice?"
"What? Seriously, Derek? You said that you don't have people who care about you or rely on you but—"
"I didn't say that."
"Whatever, it was heavily implied."
"Listen to me!"
Derek narrows his eyes. "I'm listening."
"But people do."
Stiles exhales like he's trying to blow out candles with the force of his frustration. "Like you! Derek. People have like, for you. People think about you, in a liking way."
"Did you hit your freaking head too?" Stiles sighs again, and starts to repeat himself, along the lines of yes he does like Derek Hale, in the frequently and actively tries not to think about how much he likes Derek Hale way, because it'll probably eff up the pack's dynamics and Derek will say he's too old for him and his dad will start toting wolfsbane pepper spray and Stiles will spend the rest of high school and probably his life embarrassed over his inability to have appropriate crushes—
And then Derek kisses him.
It's a cautious, chaste kiss. No tongue or anything. Just warm, softer-than-expected lips and a pokey brush of beard and Derek's hand slinking behind him, pulling him close.
"All right," Derek says, pulling away, looking like he expects Stiles to laugh in his face. "But no group dates."
"Right?" Stiles doesn't remember gripping Derek's jacket. He lets go reluctantly, and laughs a little, nervous and happy. "Totally."
They walk back to the car side by side, not touching or anything, but Stiles can feel Derek's proximity, and his heart's racing in a stupid, fun way, and after Mrs. McCall checks his head out he's gonna go see his dad and maybe they'll get dinner out, burgers even. It feels really important.
As Stiles climbs into the passenger side of his Jeep, he thinks he hears a flutter of wings, but when he rolls the window down and cranes his neck to look around, there's nothing there but melting snow and possibilities.