“What is that?”
Stiles sticks his hands in his pockets and rocks back on his heels. “What’s what?”
Derek gives him an unimpressed look and jerks his chin slightly to the left. “That.”
“Uh.” Stiles glances over his shoulder. “Pretty sure that’s a pony, dude.” A very small brown pony, with one white fetlock and a long, kinky black mane and deep, fathomless eyes, and he’s been following Stiles around since yesterday, so he’s actually pretty glad Derek can see him, too.
“A pony,” Derek says, flat. He has his arms crossed over his chest, frowning, and it’s one of Stiles’s very favorite Derek-stances, right down to the adorable furrow between his brows.
“Yup.” Stiles flaps a hand vaguely behind him. “Are you going to let us in?”
Derek says, “No,” but he steps aside anyway, a tiny uptick to his mouth, then turns around and makes his way back into the loft.
Derek doesn’t ask any questions, which is good, because Stiles doesn’t actually have any answers. It’s also super annoying, though, because Derek has been way too placid lately, it’s starting to grate on Stiles’s nerves. He never realized before how much he thrived on Derek’s general animosity. It’s harder to ignore him as a person now. A hot person, who has buddy dates with Scott and asks Liam questions like are you all right and do you want something to drink and let’s Stiles into his apartment with miniature farm animals.
“I hope Robert doesn’t poop on your floor,” Stiles says, even though he hasn’t seen the pony do anything remotely horse-like in twenty-four hours. It’s just always with the creepy staring and the lurking. You’d think he’d be used to that by now, but nope.
Derek just arches an eyebrow. “You named him Robert?”
“I’m not five, I’m not going to name him Mr. Sprinkles or something,” Stiles says, flopping down on the couch. Besides, Robert totally hadn’t liked Mr. Sprinkles. Or Chewbacca. There had been un-horse-like hissing involved.
Derek sits down on the opposite end of the couch.
Robert stands next to the TV and stares at them. Seriously, not even, like, a wither-twitch or a hoof-shift or a flick of the tail.
Derek sighs and tosses Stiles the remote.
After nearly a half hour of unnerving silence, Derek says, “I’m calling Scott.”
“No, you’re not,” Stiles says, and before Derek can get pissy he adds, “I’m calling Scott.”
“I don’t think that’s normal,” Liam says. He’s skirting around the pony, about an arm’s length away, and Robert doesn’t even bother to flick a curious ear toward him.
Stiles says, “No shit,” and Scott says, “Language,” because he’s a huge dad-dork with Liam, it’s hilarious.
And then Liam gets just a little too close to Robert’s face and Robert chomps down on his leg.
There’s a lot of blood. And screaming.
Stiles doesn’t blame them, it’s pretty nasty. Robert just stands there, blood all over his muzzle, dripping all over the floor, acting like he didn’t just almost rip Liam’s leg off like some sort of ravening hell beast.
Which makes perfect sense when Deaton takes a cursory look at him after patching up Liam and says, “It seems Stiles has acquired a demon.”
Stiles appreciates the fact that he didn’t say another demon, but it’s like - ugh. “Seriously?”
Deaton arches an eyebrow. “Were you, by chance, performing magic yesterday?”
Everyone looks at Stiles. Derek looks not-surprised and disappointed and Scott gives him puppy eyes, for god’s sake—
“I didn’t summon a demon, you guys, what the hell!” Stiles throws his hands up, narrowly missing clocking Robert in the head.
“I didn’t say you did,” Deaton says, calm as anything with his judgy judging eyes, Stiles just wants to stab him in the throat.
“I didn’t!” Derek snorts, and Stiles wags a finger at him. “You, shut up.”
Stiles totally didn’t summon Robert, okay, doing a little bit of unsupervised magic doesn’t make pony-shaped devil’s minions appear out of thin air, Deaton never warned him about that, he would have remembered. Probably.
“Well, regardless, you’ll have to send him back,” Deaton says.
Robert hisses and everyone takes a giant step further away from him.
“Yeah,” Stiles says, and Robert’s eyes go white around the edges. He’s not going to like this, he can just tell.
Stiles takes a breather outside before the fun begins. Robert follows him, of course, because that’s what he does, and there’s still blood all down his chest, but he’s licked most of it off his mouth. It’s kind of horrifying, but Stiles has, regrettably, seen much worse.
Then the clinic door clangs open and Derek nudges his shoulder into Stiles’s. He’s got a smile around his mouth when Stiles glances over, and Stiles mumbles, “Shut up, god,” at him, because seriously. Derek’s amused face looks so weird.
“Deaton says he’s ready,” Derek says.
“Sure,” Stiles says, resigned. He’s probably going to have to drink something foul. Deaton almost always makes him drink something foul, Stiles suspects he just does it to fuck with him. “Bring it on.”
“Um.” Stiles wants it noted, for the record, that this was not his fault.
Deaton looks puzzled, which is a rare look on him. He has a finger frozen in his open book, mouth open just the slightest bit.
“Those are goats,” Kira says. She says it like she can’t believe how cute they are and a little like she wants to hug them, because it turns out mini baby demon goats are pretty darn adorable. One is black and white and the other two are this soft blue-gray.
Liam looks a little green and tucks all his limbs close to his body.
“Well,” Deaton finally says, “this makes absolutely no sense at all.”
The thing is, the next day Robert starts eating the flowers in Stiles’s garden - the poisonous ones, of course - and he calmly stands still while Stiles runs a hand through his mane. He’s thinking about investing in a comb and curry brush, Robert looks like a tiny version of those crazed horses from The Ring, the neighbors are going to start wondering things. More things than they already do, that is. He’s pretty sure Mrs. Shelton thinks Derek’s a hooker.
Robert still gives Scott and Derek the dead-eye, but he bumps Stiles’s knee with his muzzle and whinnies a little when he offers him a carrot. There’s lipping of his palm involved, and he blows moist air out through his nose and shakes his head like he’s laughing.
The three baby goats are tiny, cloven-hooved nightmares - they keep taking runs at Liam, mouths open and shrieking - but Stiles has a feeling that given some time they’ll all be prancing around the porch steps like tiny kings of the mountain. He can’t wait, he’s seen goats frolic before, it’s pretty irresistible.
Stiles’s dad sips at a beer and loses a stare-down with the littlest one and says, “You’re not starting a demon army, are you?” because apparently it only takes a few years for them to be able to joke about that kind of thing. It’s something Stiles would have appreciated more if there hadn’t been possessed animals involved.
Liam calls Stiles a demon-whisperer with the kind of humor only a kid who hadn’t lived through the Nogitsune can, and everyone else thinks it’s funny for much more ironic reasons.
“You all fucking suck,” Stiles says.
Derek sits down next to his dad, smiling around the lip of his own beer and Scott yells, “Language!” from halfway across the yard.
Deaton says it’s a problem with Stiles – surprise! – and that being the host of an evil, murdering, vengeful spirit tends to attract even more evil, murdering, vengeful spirits, only it’s somehow only the tiny, widdle, precious ones.
Seriously, these goats.
They’re at the preserve, because apparently there are zoning laws against having a petting zoo at his house and Derek refuses to have them in his loft ever since Robert started pooping. The goats are trying, unsuccessfully, to get Robert to play, jumping off every rock and log they can find. They’re chasing each other gleefully through the sunshine, it’s hard to imagine they have black, soulless eyes and occasionally snack on human body parts.
Scott almost gets trampled where he’s lying in the grass; he gives a painful oof when Simon rams him in the gut with both a front hoof and his nubby horns.
“I’m not allowed to do unnecessary magic anymore,” Stiles says, and he uses air quotes for unnecessary and refuses to feel dumb about it. He can’t even do any parlor tricks, apparently he opens little bolt holes of hell every time he does a little sleight of hand.
“Poor you,” Derek says, and Stiles gives him a dirty look. Derek’s smiling, though, at the way Robert is slowly and quietly stalking Liam around the clearing, and it’s just—
“What’s up with you?” Stiles says.
Derek blinks over at him. “What?”
“You,” he flaps a hand, “your face, your hair.”
Derek automatically gropes for his hair, and Stiles bites his lip, because, goddamn, that’s adorable.
“What’s wrong with my hair?” Derek says, and Stiles doesn’t say it’s happy, because that’s both stupidly petty and not what he actually means, anyway.
“Nothing’s wrong with your hair,” Stiles says. His hair is actually kind of relaxed and weird looking, but Stiles likes it. It makes him look younger, and a little bit like a dork.
“But you said—”
“I was wrong,” Stiles says, patting his arm. “Your hair’s fine just the way it is.”
Derek looks absurdly pleased with that and rubs a hand over his face. “I’m thinking of growing a mustache.”
“Yes,” Stiles says, because that would be priceless. Derek’s careful frown suggests he thinks Stiles is making fun of him, but no. “No, please, I’m serious.” He nods solemnly. “Do it.”
Derek shakes his head, still frowning, but there’s a gleam in his eyes.
“I thought I had a darkness around my heart,” Stiles says, and Deaton smiles unhelpfully.
“You do,” he says.
“And yet—” Stiles waves at where Mim and Poppy are vying for attention from the excited preschoolers at the end of their leashes.
The preschoolers’ puppy is hiding under a waiting room bench and growling pathetically, but the two little girls think nothing of placing their delicate fingers all over his demon-goats’ faces.
Mim and Poppy just lick at them, having already eaten the handful of crackers they’d shoved in their mouths.
“You’ve successfully ousted the void once, Stiles, I hardly think a few of these beasts are any challenge at all,” Deaton says, which makes no sense, since the most Stiles has done is, like, give them giant metal buckets to climb on in the yard and hose them down with warm water. Robert likes dandelions and Simon likes to eat his dad’s underwear and Mim and Poppy have a favorite giant green ball they like to repeatedly headbutt at Derek’s face.
“I let Robert have the leftover mac and cheese,” Stiles says, exasperated.
Deaton says, “Exactly.”
“What if you need me to create a mountain ash barrier,” Stiles says, sitting on a stretch of finished fence and swinging his feet. He’s willing to forego magic for the most part, but some things are needed for survival in Beacon Hills, it’s a risk he thinks everyone is willing to take, especially considering the way Kira and Scott dote ridiculously on the goats. “What if we end up with an alpaca?”
Derek slams his mallet into another post, lodging it further in the hole. He looks up, swipes his hair back with his forearm and grins. “Then we build a bigger pen.”