He's driving Derek home again, which has somehow become his duty after the bi-monthly pack meetings first started up, which is completely ridiculous, since he isn't even a member of the pack.
Well. Scott says he's a member of the pack, but Derek hasn't said so, and he's the Alpha. Also, Stiles is the only one of them that isn't actually a werewolf.
Not that he isn't happy about that - most of the time - and it's not like he regrets not having taken Peter Hale up on his creepy, sugar daddy-esque offer. It's just that it sort of sucks that Stiles is stuck being the pack's designated driver, like that's the only thing he's good for. (What's worse is his sneaking suspicion that it is the only thing he's good for.) It's not like Jackson doesn't have a car, but for some reason, it's Stiles who's Derek's chauffeur. Especially on nights when the Argents are up and about, doing their Hunter-y stuff. At least Allison is nice enough to call and give them a heads-up. Or give Scott a heads-up.
A… a heads-up.
Ugh. Now he's thinking about Scott getting head. Gross.
"Man," says Stiles, more to distract himself from his own brain than anything else, "I can't believe I said no to Peter Hale."
And all of a sudden, he's almost veering into the wrong lane, because Derek's just - grabbed him. By the collar. And yanked.
"What," says Derek - rumbles, more like - as Stiles swerves over to the side of the road and hits the breaks, wheels screeching. The Jeep rocks to a halt.
"Jesus!" Stiles wheezes. "You - d'you want to get us killed? If you've gotta manhandle me, at least wait until we're parked, all right?"
"What did my uncle do." Derek's voice is all... fraught. And threatening. Okay, it's always threatening, but this is the atom-bomb-in-your-mouth level of threatening, as opposed to the usual gun-pressed-to-your-head level of threatening.
"L-let go of my shirt, I can't breathe - "
Derek lets go of his shirt. But his eyes are still burning like two pools of bloody, molten red, and Stiles hasn't seen those eyes since the night Peter Hale died. Derek seriously looks like he wants to kill someone - no, like he needs to kill someone.
"Ulp?" Making terrified, monosyllabic noises around the big, bad werewolf is completely justified, even if it's a habit that Stiles had sworn he'd grown out of. Weeks ago, even.
"What. Did my uncle. Do. To you."
Way too many full-stops. Full-stops of doom. Answer, answer - "He just - did what you always do, I guess?"
"What I do."
"Uh. Yeah? You know, with the, uh, wall-throwing. And the - grabbing. The random, violent, completely psychotic grabbing. The choking."
"He touched you."
"Grabbing involves touching. It's kind of physiologically impossible, otherwise." Stiles laughs nervously. "That's, um. Why're you looking at me like that?"
"Where did he touch you."
This conversation is getting freaky. "Are we, like, talking about the bad touch? 'Cause this is sounding a lot like that talk my dad had with me before sending me off to summer camp."
"Er! Stop - fanging at me. Oh my god, those are fangs. Put them back in your mouth. Back in your gums, even - "
"Stiles." Derek's eyes are narrow. His fangs are huge. Really, really huge. And shiny. Very shiny. "Where."
"My… my neck? I think. When he - and then, my arm. My - my wrist. There was a bit of the bad touch, not lying, because he wouldn't let go of it and, like, tried to put his mouth on it - "
"Don't you know how to use question-marks? They usually come at the end of sentences that're supposed to be questions. Or didn't they teach you that in werewolf preschool?"
"He tried to bite you." Derek's starting to look crazed. "Didn't he."
Stiles gulps. He has no idea what this is about, or why it's making Derek wig out like this, but - "He… offered."
"An Alpha," says Derek, and his eyes are so red. "An Alpha offered to bite you. He didn't take. He offered."
"Yeah." That has been bothering Stiles, actually, because Peter Hale sure didn't have a problem with turning Scott without asking. The whole consent thing seems like it shouldn't have mattered to him, being a super-villain and all.
"Do you know what that means."
"What? What what means?"
Derek is silent. Seething, you might say, if you were inclined to use words like that, which Stiles normally isn't, except that a) he's just had an English Lit test and b) he's kind of freaked out.
"Um. Derek? What does it mean? If you want to tell me! Only if you want to tell me. Otherwise, uh, don't tell me? Please."
"It means," Derek grits out, still glowering like a maximum-security prison escapee, "that he didn't want you to join his pack as a Beta or as an Omega - as a lower rank that he could control."
"Oh-kay…" Stiles blinks. "Isn't that, like, a compliment? But what else is there? There's just the Alpha rank above the Beta and the Omega ranks, right? Unless it's the Alpha's mate, there's no other - " Stiles stops. "No." A cold, sickening horror dizzies him, along with a stunned, distant sort of incredulity. This shit doesn't happen to him. It shouldn't happen to him. He's just an average high school kid, and Peter Hale was a - was a - "Just. No."
"Hey, I agree with that sentiment, okay? Total agreement, right here. Holy shit, so that means - if I'd said yes, I'd be, like, a royal concubine? Or something? In wolf terms? What?" It's so surreal, he can't even wrap his head around it. Frankly, he doesn't mind that Derek looks like he could kill Peter Hale all over again; Stiles wants him to. Then, Stiles realizes something else. "I didn't know the dude was gay."
"That has nothing to do with it."
"Nothing to - he propositioned me! And I'm a guy! And he's a guy! That's pretty gay!"
"It was much more than a proposition. It was a proposal."
"A - " Stiles's brain is seriously going to fail. In about two seconds. Three, max. "A proposal. Like. A marriage proposal? So I wouldn't just be a concubine, I'd be the queen?" Listening to himself, he winces. "Just - forget I said that. I'm going to forget I said that. Or I'll traumatize myself. Or maybe just make myself barf." He might barf, anyway. He sure as hell wants to.
"An Alpha werewolf selects a potential mate with many considerations in mind. Producing offspring is the least of those considerations, since new pack members can be created at any time, by non-reproductive means." The way Derek is talking sounds a lot like he's quoting a book, or maybe repeating something he's heard before. Heck, for all Stiles knows, this was Derek's version of The Talk, that someone in his family gave to him when he was very, very young.
"Just claw someone or bite them, and you have a new were-baby. I get what you mean."
"The Alpha must therefore choose a mate that he or she believes is capable of maintaining order and harmony in the pack, and is capable of nurturing new additions while still remaining loyal to the Alpha at all times."
"A mother figure." Stiles gapes at Derek. "Peter Hale - Peter Hale - thought I would be a good mother figure."
Derek's eyebrow twitches. His fangs haven't, actually, retracted. Much. "Your gender divisions are arbitrary."
"Arbi - that's the way humans do it, all right? Allison's probably going to punch me for saying that, especially since she's doing that paper on feminism, but - "
"You said no."
"To Peter? Thank god I did."
"Why did you say no."
Good question. Well, of course he'd say no now, but he hadn't known what the proposal had meant, that time, other than him gaining awesome new wolf-powers. Why had he said no? "I… don't know. I guess - I like being human. I think it's important to be - to be that way. My dad would want me to be that way. And it's so lonely, you know? Always having to hide who you are, always being on your own, and I - I don't think I'd like that side of it. Very much."
"It doesn't have to be lonely," Derek says, and now, his fangs are gone. His eyes aren't even red, anymore. "That's what pack is for."
Stiles stares. "Uh."
"My uncle needed - he needed to create a pack. A stable pack. I don't agree with how he went about it - "
"No kidding - "
" - but I believe he chose well."
Chose well. Chose -
"He chose well."
What the hell is Derek trying to say? "So you're saying I should've said yes?"
"No." Derek's fangs are out again. "No. Not to him. Never to him. Do you understand. Never to him."
"Okay, man. Chill out, you look like you're going to have an aneurysm - "
"Never to anyone else. To any other pack. To any other Alpha. Do you understand."
"Derek - "
"Do you understand."
And Stiles is… pressing himself back against the driver's side door, mostly because Derek's shoulders are all knotted, like he's going to pounce, or something. "I - I understand. Hey, it's not like I wanted to say yes, anyway - "
"What would make you."
" - uh?"
"What would make you want to. Say yes."
Stiles's throat is very dry. Why is it dry? "I don't know what you're saying, Derek."
"Pack is not lonely. You are already pack. Scott knows that."
"Yeah. He - he told me. I just didn't believe him - "
"You maintain order and harmony. Scott remains loyal to the pack largely because of you."
"Aw, shucks, that's just 'cause we're pals - "
"No. He remains loyal to you because you remained loyal to him, even after his change. You helped him function and survive at least as much as I did."
"Like I said, we're friends - "
"You earned Jackson's respect by saving his life, and Lydia's."
The words 'Jackson' and 'respect' in the same sentence are majorly wrong, but Jackson has been treating him differently. "That's - "
"You have protected the pack from Hunters on numerous occasions. You single-handedly negotiated a truce with Chris Argent."
"That wasn't a negotiation, it was basically me telling him that his sister was a mass-murdering, crazy bitch. Who needed to be stopped."
But Derek's all determined, like this is important, like - like Stiles is important. And Stiles has no idea what to do with that. "You have secured the alliance of the law-keeping force of Beacon Hills."
"Er. My dad's the Sheriff? So it wasn't exactly that hard to convince him - "
"He thought I was a dangerous murderer. You changed his mind."
Stiles swallows. "But you aren't a dangerous murderer. That's - that's just the truth. It'll probably help if you act less like you are one, but - you're not."
Derek's fangs are gone, just like that. And he's got this look on his face, like Stiles has said something real, something right, something that Derek's been waiting to hear for a long time. "Yes."
"I still don't know where you're going with this." But he does. He does, because he isn't a complete idiot, and also because a hell of a lot of things are making sense, now. The way everyone's been treating him. What Scott's been trying to tell him. Why Stiles is the one always driving Derek home, getting to spend time with him alone -
"You have repeatedly risked your life for this pack. First, for Scott, and then for everyone else. You have successfully protected it and stayed loyal to it, despite having every reason to stay safe and uninvolved."
"Uninvolved? Are you kidding me? How could I - "
"You couldn't." And Derek's face is certain, like he knows Stiles, like he knows who Stiles is. "That's my point, Stiles. You couldn't."
Stiles has an odd, trembly feeling in his stomach. He is not going to compare it to a butterfly. That would just be lame. "Um."
"Think about it."
"Think - think about what?"
"About what would make you. Want to say yes."
But Stiles doesn't have a single thought in his head. He can't think. It's like all the wires connecting his body and his face to his brain have been disconnected, and he's just… sitting there. Gaping.
It's like he's been disembodied.
Maybe he's dead, and this is just some sort of truly bizarre afterlife. Maybe Derek did kill him, back there, when his fangs were out.
Stiles almost wishes he had.
Derek studies him, a moment more, and opens the door. "I'll walk the rest of the way."
Stiles snaps back to reality. "Uh. Wait, the Argents - "
"We're close enough to the forest. I'll be fine. Stiles."
"Yeah?" He's sweating. His heart is racing. Thundering, even.
"Think about it."
Like he's going to be able to think about anything else.
Derek gets out of the Jeep and closes the door.
He looks at Stiles through the window, and his eyes are just human eyes, blue and strangely quiet eyes, normal eyes, except that they're really intense. Intense and focused. Focused on him.
Derek flips the collar of his jacket up, against the cold, and walks away.
Stiles watches him go, and wonders why it feels like he ought to follow, ought to say something, ought to say -
He shakes his head. The keys are cold in his hand, and his shirt probably has claw-holes in it, and he just got proposed to. By a werewolf. For the second time in as many months.
"My life is so weird," he mutters, and starts the car.
Maybe his dad won't even ground him for being late.