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You Are The Solution

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Stiles pulled into the driveway with five boxes of steamy pepperoni and cheesy goodness in the passenger seat beside him, and noticed right away that something was wrong.

“The fuck is going on?” Stiles slammed the jeep door behind him, taking in the ridiculous scene before him and silently asking what higher power was punishing him for making him befriend a pack of immature werewolves.

Scott automatically released Jackson from his choke-hold, looking as guilty as a five year old for pushing his crush off the monkey bars. Lydia just huffed, sticking her nose up at him and scenting the wind in a way that wasn’t suspicious at all.

Derek just sat on the porch where he had been watching the rest of the pack fighting and stared at Stiles blankly.

Jackson was the one that answered him, panting heavily and looking a little banged up, “These assholes think they can push me around.”

“There was no thinking about it,” Lydia said, hands going to her hips. Scott perked up and smirked at Jackson who was dusting his knees off.

“Right. Whatever,” Stiles glared. He was rather concerned that he was becoming the sole voice of reason lately. It was like becoming a werewolf just regressed people, they reverted back to their preschool days and started picking fights over silly things like who got to help the teacher or who got to walk out the door first.

“Jackson, can you help me with the food,” Stiles asked nicely, hoping to defuse whatever situation he had walked in on.

“Why should I take orders from you,” Jackson growled, hackles rising.

“Fine, I’ll do it myself–”

“Jackson, help him,” Derek cut in from across the yard. “You don’t eat if you don’t help.”

Jackson squawked, stomping his foot in anger. “How is that fair! The others don’t have to help and they get to eat.”

Derek eyeballed Jackson.

“Fine,” Jackson grumped, shuffling forward to help Stiles before the pile toppled out of his hands. Stiles gave him an exhausted smile, too tired to really snark at him. Jackson furrowed his brows and looked Stiles over, frowning and wrinkling his nose.

“What’s wrong with you? You smell awful.”

“Thanks,” Stiles rolled his eyes, kicking at Derek’s foot so he’d move over enough for them to get inside the house. Jackson followed, carrying four of the five pizza boxes. Derek moved aside, barking orders at the others to clean up or they wouldn’t eat.

“No, really, you smell different. Are you sick?”

Stiles set the one pizza down on the table before moving into the semi-decent kitchen to get plates, Jackson at his heels.

“No. I’m tired, I worked most of the day,” Stiles said, handing Jackson the paper-plates. Jackson took them with surprisingly little hassle, still staring at Stiles with his puppy-dog eyes.

“Seriously, I’m fine. You probably just smell my sweat, I’ve been in the yard all day and I’m rank.”

Jackson poked Stiles in the back of the neck, startling Stiles enough that he jumped in pain. “Ouch! That hurt.”

“You’re burnt.” Jackson stared. “Did you not wear sunscreen? That was dumb.”

“Thanks, captain obvious.” Stiles swatted his hands away when he tried poking Stiles in the arm. “Leave me alone and go put the plates on the table while I get everyone a drink. Mr. Growly thinks I’m his personal maid and gets grumpy when I don’t have his Dr. Pepper out and waiting for him in his gold challis at the head of the table before he gets in. He’s going to get mad at both of us for ruining his perfect routine.”

Jackson scowled, looking Stiles over once again before offering a small bitter smile before turning on his heels and walking out.

Stiles huffed.

“Werewolves. I should really buy a book on how to properly house train them.”

“I heard that!”

***

Stiles had his headphones on, hoping to minimize the noise as he stared at the computer screen, his hands down his pants and fisted around his cock. He bit his lips when the girl moaned, the really well-endowed guy thrusting into her ass from behind, when suddenly the headphones were yanked off Stiles' head.

“-iles. I’ve been calling – the fuck!?”

Stiles flailed, screaming out in horror as he was whirled around in his computer chair and found himself face to face with sharp teeth and shallow blue eyes on a pale ghostly figure illuminated by the screen behind him. He kicked out, nailing the werewolf in the thigh when he expected his foot just to pass through the apparition.

“Stiles!”

Amidst his panic Stiles had a sudden moment of clarity; he realized who was haunting his house this late at night.

“Jackson?”

Jackson rubbed his leg like he was still feeling the phantom pain even though they both knew that his new werewolf healing had taken care of the bruise two seconds after it had been delivered.

“You mind putting that away,” Jackson blushed, looking away and gesturing toward Stiles’ lap.

“Jesus fuck,” Stiles muttered, totally humiliated at being caught by Jackson, of all people, jacking off. His only saving grace was that Jackson looked just as embarrassed and therefore was less likely to go blabbing away about it.

“Warn a guy or something.” He tucked himself into his pants.

“What is going on in here?” Stiles' lights came on illuminating the room and revealing his sleep-cranky dad standing in the bedroom door.

“Uhh…” Jackson flubbed, looking even more startled.

“Homework!” Stiles squeaked.

The Sheriff squinting sleep-blurred eyes at them. “It’s the summer. Try again.”

“Secret rendezvous?”

His dad blinked heavily at them. “With Jackson Whittemore?” The Sheriff looked toward Jackson. “I thought you had better taste than that.”

“Uh…”

“Excuse me! You’re my dad, you’re supposed to take my side. No one’s supposed to be good enough for your little boy.” Stiles only felt mildly insulted, his dad was tired and didn’t know what he was talking about, obviously. Stiles was a catch; Jackson should only be so lucky to find someone even half as awesome as him.

“You kidding me? I’m foisting you off on the first person who takes you. No refunds and no takes-backsies.”

Jackson smothered a laugh, looking at Stiles' dad in a whole new light. Stiles got it, most teenagers had this impression that because his dad was a cop he was a hard-ass. He always had a warm feeling in his chest when people figured out just how awesome his dad was. Just remembering the look on Derek’s face when he’d been properly introduce to the Sheriff and apologized to instead of being cuffed and thrown in jail would always be one of the top five moments of Stiles’ teenage life so far. He had gotten the warm fuzzies when Derek had kind of stared after his dad with a look of awe.

He was rudely brought back to the present by hearing his name spoken.

“What are you doing over here so late? You do know that 1:35am is Stiles’ me time, right?”

Stiles’ jaw dropped. “Dad!” he gasped, scandalized. His dad was never supposed to know that.

Jackson gave Stiles this look of total disappointment. “No, sir, but now that I know I’ll be sure to avoid it.”

“He’s usually done by 1:50. You’d be surprised at how unpredictably predictable my son is.”

“Oh my god, that doesn’t even make sense, just kill me now,” Stiles ran his hands down his face, blushing so hard he felt like his face was going to melt off. Then he remembered where one of his hands had just been and yanked his head back like he’d been burned. Just then a particularly loud moan was heard over the earphones, killing Stiles’ soul that last little bit.

“Right,” Stiles’ dad looked them both over, confirming that his son hadn’t been screaming because of some pervy molester or kidnapping murderer and that it was only boys playing pranks on each other. “You boys finish up whatever you need to talk about and you head home, Jackson. Use the front door this time, and drive straight home. It’s past curfew.”

“Yes, sir. I need only 10 minutes. Sorry to disturb you,” Jackson gave the Sheriff the same smile that had the evil school cafeteria lady, Marge, cooing at him like he was some lost little lamb that needed cuddling. It was frankly disturbing for Stiles to see it aimed at his dad.

“Right.” The sheriff gave Jackson a constipated look, probably confused by the fact that a teenager was being respectful. “'Night, boys.” With one last baffled look at the teens he shuffled off, tugging his baggy sleep pants higher up his hips and heading down the hall.

“Your dad’s alright,” Jackson turned to Stiles, looking mildly impressed.

“Of course he is,” Stiles hissed. “Now tell me what you need to tell me so I can go smother myself with my pillow.”

Jackson rolled his eyes like he thought that Stiles was being overly dramatic. “Whatever. I could care less if you wanted to watch anal porn, I just wanted to talk to you about Scott.”

Stiles sputtered.

Jackson frowned. “Did I just use anal porn and Scott in the same sentence?”

“I was not watching anal porn!”

Jackson raised an eyebrow, leaning sideways to look over Stiles shoulder at the screen. “Right.”

Stiles whirled around and quickly turned the screen off. He took a large breath, calming himself before he turned back around to face Jackson.

“Okay. So,” Stiles let out a large breath. “Scott. What did he do now that somehow makes you think I’m his keeper and therefore means I have to discipline him like the slobbery puppy he is? Did he chew on your leather loafers?”

Jackson squirmed. “No. I was just wondering if you could ask him to lay off.”

Stiles blinked in confusion. “Lay off what?”

It looked like it physically hurt Jackson to say any more After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence he finally mumbled, “…Trying to make me submit.”

Stiles backed up with his hands in the air as if he were confronted with a physical thing which he wasn’t going to touch with a ten foot long pole. There had already been more sexual innuendos thrown around tonight than he was really comfortable with.

Jackson groaned. “It's werewolf stuff. I’m not into that, and frankly, if I was, I’m rather insulted you’d think Scott is good enough for me.”

“O-kay.” Stiles knew his eyes were bugged out. “Maybe you should explain this to me a little more?”

Taking a seat on Stiles’ bed, Jackson seemed to curl up on himself.

“It’s just… I’m the omega of the pack. And I know I’m expected to submit to Derek because he’s alpha and all, but I wasn’t really expecting to have to submit to the betas. They expect me to submit to them first before I can to Derek, and I don’t want to. Submit, that is, especially not to Scott and Lydia.”

Stiles took a moment to really look the poor guy over. Jackson was pasty pale, skin sunk in and dark rings under his eyes; the guy looked like he hadn’t eaten decently in weeks. He must really be at a dead end if he was coming to Stiles for help.

Stiles took everything to do with his werewolves seriously. “Okay, so this has to deal with wolf hierarchy. Derek’s the alpha, Lydia and Scott are the betas, and you’re the omega. Since you’re low man on the totem pole you’re expected to submit to everyone else in the pack, am I right?”

“About right.” Jackson still wouldn’t look at Stiles.

“Look, if you’re having problems with the betas why don’t you go to Derek about this? He’s alpha, he’s supposed to help you.”

“I tried, but he always just blows me off and tells me to learn my place,” Jackson growled in frustration.

“Oh no, he didn’t!” Stiles felt insulted on Jackson's behalf. He was going to send Derek some stern texts about being a bully to Jackson. (There was some irony here, Stiles defending Jackson of all people from bullies but Stiles didn’t have time to dwell on that point now).

“He did,” Jackson nodded, finally looking at Stiles now that he felt he had him on his side. “Like, I get that I’m the omega, so they expect me to submit, but I’m really not comfortable with that.”

“No, I don’t blame you. It’s like people expecting a chick to get married and pop out babies instead of getting an education. Like, who cares if she has dreams of being a corporate lawyer and taking down the bad guys, having wild sex with strange men and not becoming emotionally involved with them, only to find out that the man from the bar is really her lawyer rival, but she still wins the case anyways because her proof was solid and the rival had thought that having sex with her would throw her off her game.”

“Uh, no, Stiles, this isn’t like that at all.”

Stiles ignored him; he was on a roll. “Don’t worry, Jackson, I’m in your corner. I’ll talk to Scott, and Derek. Maybe send an email to Lydia because, frankly, she gets this beady look in her eyes when I try to order her around, but I’ll get this taken care of. I’ll do some research as well. Find out if there’s some way to make you not the omega anymore. Leave this to me, I got your back.”

Stiles put a hand on Jackson's shoulder while the other teen just sort of gaped at him. Stiles got it, Jackson had probably never had someone like Stiles on his side before. It was a heartwarming moment.

A short time later Jackson was standing outside the others teen’s house, car keys in hand, and blinking in confusion.

“What just happened here?”

 ***

“No,” Stiles slapped Derek’s hand away.

Derek gaped at him. Stiles just sniffed and gave the piece of cake to Jackson instead. “Dig in, J.”

Everyone else at the table just stared.

“Did you just give the first piece of my birthday cake that was made specifically for me to the om–  Jackson?!” Derek quickly corrected himself, remembering that not all the people at the picnic table were in the know about the whole werewolf thing, namely Danny and one of Lydia’s girl-friends.

“So what if I did, what are you going to do about it?” Stiles put his hands on his hips, glaring down at Derek, and then at Jackson when he didn’t start eating. “Eat,” he ordered.

“Uh, but it’s a corner piece. Derek likes corner pieces.” Jackson’s cheeks were pink from all the attention.

“Well, there are three other corners, he can spare one.”

“Stiles,” Derek growled, sounding like he was struggling with the urge to tear him in half. His saving grace was the fact that Derek would probably, probably – meaning there was no guarantee – feel guilty about it later. Not too much, Stiles just didn’t think Derek’d be able to handle the look of disappointment from the sheriff when he told him he’d murdered his son because of a piece of cake.

“Yes, dear?” Stiles gave Derek a sickly smile. The knife Stiles’d used to cut the chocolate cake shone in the sun where it still rested in his hand. Beside him, Scott gave a loud gulp.

“…Give everyone a piece before we start in,” Derek said, magnanimously. He still snuck a glare at Jackson when the other teen licked icing off his fork.

Stiles didn’t look completely happy about the order but did as he was told. Danny raised an inquiring eyebrow at Stiles and shot a look toward Derek and Jackson. Stiles rolled his eyes in reply. Danny shrugged. He seemed to get it even though he didn’t know about the whole werewolf thing, which was frankly amazing. Maybe he just knew Jackson that well, Stiles mused.

Lydia’s friend Ashley gave him a strange look. “I didn’t know you were dating Jackson, Stiles?”

Lydia and Allison choked on their drinks at the same time. There was a clatter of dropped silverware at the front of the table but Stiles was too distracted to see by whom.

“Excuse me?” Derek growled.

“Uh, I think you misunderstood something here,” Stiles knew he was giving Ashley a panicked look but he found it frankly disturbing that anyone would mistake him and Jackson for a couple. He hadn’t thought he’d been coddling Jackson that much.

“Oh, you’re not dating him?”

Lydia wiped her mouth with her napkin. “Please, as if. I’m disturbed you’d ever think that. Though really I can’t blame you, once someone dates me they can only go down, but Stiles is a little bit too far down.”

“Hey, be nice,” Stiles chastised, used by now to Lydia’s attitude.

Derek muttered something that only the werewolves could hear who all turned to look at him. Lydia hunched over for a second, nodding before straightening up again.

“Sorry. It’s that time of the month so I’m just being bitchy.”

Allison and Ashley looked sympathetic while Stiles backed away as if she were a ticking time bomb. The other guys looked equally uncomfortable.

“Apology accepted. No hard feelings, really.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean to make things awkward. This is a really nice cake, is it homemade?” Ashley flushed. She was pretty, Stiles thought, in that superficial way that too much make up made a girl her age look older. Stiles was frankly surprised at how nice she’d been so far, and how she hadn’t once asked if Derek was dating anyone. Most of Lydia’s friends, single or otherwise, asked Derek that when they met him. The only one of Lydia’s friends who had asked Stiles that had been Becky and she had been so drunk she’d thrown up on his shoes.

“It’s store bought,” Stiles said, giving Allison a piece. “And don’t worry about embarrassing anyone, we’re a tough crowd. Jackson and I have just discovered our bro-ship 'cause the guy obviously needs someone in his corner, so the others are jealous that he gets my attention.”

Danny nodded in understanding.

Jackson scowled but didn’t deny it.

“What about our bro-ship?” Scott looked betrayed, giving Stiles a ridiculous puppy-dog look that wasn’t half as effective as Jackson’s.

“That ship has sunk, I’m afraid. You’re on your own,” Stiles joked.

“All the romance is gone out of our relationship,” Scott gave a dramatic sigh and wilted into Allison’s lap. “He never answers my calls, he stays late at the office, says he’s 'meeting clients’, he even forgot our anniversary. I get dressed up in my nicest dresses and he doesn’t even notice anymore. What’s a girl to do?”

“Ugh, I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth,” Jackson muttered.

“Whatever, Jackson, I know you get all hot and bothered at the idea of me in a dress,” Scott said, smirking him and winking.

“No. Not really, at all.”

Stiles laughed along with everyone, handing out the last of the cake. He made sure Derek got the largest piece, a corner one, too. Derek patted the empty spot beside him on the bench. Stiles gave him a smile before taking the seat and turning back to the conversation.

***

Stiles gave Scott a karate chop to the neck.

“Fuck!  That hurt.”

Scott released Jackson and Jackson skittered away, rubbing his neck and looking frightened.

“What did we talk about?” Stiles got up in Scott’s face. “Did I not say back the fuck off Jackson?”

“You don’t get it,” Scott looked chastised but not sorry, like he was only upset that he’d been caught. Which was such a Scott reaction that Stiles took a step back.

“Don’t get what? That Jackson doesn’t want to submit but you keep trying to make him. That you are practically assaulting our friend because of some stupid wolf hierarchy shit.”

“That’s just it! It’s werewolf stuff, you wouldn’t understand!” Scott threw his hands in the air, looking at Jackson like he expected him to back him up. Stiles wasn’t all that surprised when Jackson took a small step to put Stiles between them.

“Oh right, like how I didn’t understand any of that werewolf stuff that was happening to you a few months ago, but somehow I knew more about it than you, an actual werewolf. But did you listen to me? No… You didn’t listen and we all remember what a big mess that was, don’t we.”

Scott winced.

“But Derek said–”

“I could care less about what Derek said. You are a human who is occasionally a wolf, not a wolf who’s occasionally a human. Act like a decent human being, Scott.”

Stiles was panting, fury and indignation rising up in him. He’d talked to Scott the day after Jackson had visited and had gotten a promise from his best friend that he would ease up. That Scott would wait for Jackson to submit on his own and not force it. Had asked Scott how he would feel if someone tried to make Allison submit to them when she was obviously uncomfortable and didn’t want to. He had thought his friend understood.

Now Stiles just felt really disappointed in Scott.

“I can’t believe you would do this,” Stiles looked at Scott sadly and Scott, shamefaced, looked away.

Stiles turned around, grabbing Jackson by the arm and pulling him away. “Come on.”

Jackson came willingly, head down and arm lax.

“I’m sorry,” Jackson muttered when they were far enough away.

“What for?” Stiles looked bewildered; Jackson hadn’t done anything to Stiles to be sorry for. At least not this week.

“Fighting. I provoked him.”

“No, you didn’t. Even if you did, Scott should have known better,” Stiles urged Jackson into his jeep. He’d text Derek and explain why they left early so he wouldn’t yell at them later.

***

It was a Thursday when Stiles came to the realization that him and Jackson had been hanging out a lot more than usual. At home, at Derek’s, even just regular hanging around and shooting the shit with some of the other guys from the lacrosse team. Stiles could usually look over and find Jackson right there next to him.

Danny’d been shooting Stiles some seriously betrayed looks.

It was after a little team get-together at Danny’s, when Scott had already left with Allison on a date, that Stiles was cornered by three of his teammates outside the house as he was getting ready to leave.

“Look, we don’t know what you have on Jackson but we don’t appreciate what you’ve been doing,” Mike said, leaning into Stiles’ face. It wasn't nearly half as intimidating as Derek’s lean-ins so Stiles wasn’t really worried.

“And what exactly do you think I have on Jackson,” Stiles inquired, raising an eyebrow in mock confusion.

The teens looked at each other in aggressive puzzlement.

“We don’t know, but we’ll find out.”

Stiles really didn’t want any classmates following him or Jackson around trying to figure out their secret. Derek would kill them.

“Right. Okay, let me explain this because I think you’re confused,” Stiles put his hands on his hips and barely resist wagging a finger at the three teammates. “Jackson’s my friend. Albeit a very socially awkward and somewhat temperamental friend, so some days I feel like I’m really just raising the brattiest child in existence, but it’s cool. It’s all cool. There is no blackmail, or threats,” Stiles kind of boggled at that idea, “or anything untoward going on. Jackson’s virtue is perfectly protected with me around.”

“Oh.”

Three pairs of eyes blinked back at him in confusion.

“So… he’s just hanging out with you…?”

“Voluntarily.” Stiles rolled his eyes at them. “I’d even go so far as to say he willingly seeks me out just to keep himself from becoming bored and to make fun of my hair, or something.”

The three teens shared another strange look before huddling close to whisper in each other's ears like a bunch of 12-year-old girls. Finally they seemed to make a decision and turned to glower down at Stiles.

“You do have funny hair. We’ll concede that you might not be up to anything untoward.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“But!” The bulkiest one got all up in Stiles’ face. “If we think for even one second you’re going to hurt–”

“What’s going on here?”

Jackson was suddenly beside Stiles, one hand on the big dude’s chest pushing him back, the other hand curling around Stiles’ bicep and dragging him behind himself.

The cold anger in Jackson’s voice was kind of surprising.

“Are you guys messing with Stiles?”

There’s a little growl at the end of it that made the hairs on the back of Stiles’ neck stand up. A very human reaction to a wild predator and yet, strangely, Stiles didn’t feel like he was the one in danger.

The three teens fell over themselves trying to answer Jackson, sweating and fumbling over their words.

“No! No. We were just asking him some questions.”

“Yeah, no harm done.”

“Of course not!”

Jackson eyed them. Stiles gave a puzzled look around him, wondering if he was dreaming, and accidentally caught Danny’s eye. The brunette was standing inside the doorway, brows furrowed and staring at Jackson’s hand. A hand that suddenly had claws.

Stiles squeaked.

Jackson turned around and looked at him so Stiles used the distraction to pull him away.

“Oh, look at the time! We have to go to Der – er – Denny’s! Wow, I’m hungry. Are you hungry, J? I could go for a breakfast special right now, and maybe some chocolate chip pancakes, how about you?”

“Wait… what? Stiles, what’s going on?” Jackson followed after Stiles because he had no choice, Stiles had a hold of his wrist and was dragging him towards the jeep, werewolf strength be damned.

Stiles gave him the stink-eye.

“I’ll explain later.”

***

“You know, Scott sent me an apology text.”

Stiles looked up from his hash browns as Jackson shoveled eggs into his mouth, looking like he hadn’t been fed in weeks.

“He did? Well, good.” Stiles wiped his face with a napkin, glancing at his phone. He’d asked Derek to meet them here twenty minutes ago and hadn’t heard anything since.

Jackson continued on, oblivious to the intervention that Stiles had planned.

“Yeah, even Lydia’s backed off. Last Tuesday we went to the rental store and she even allowed me to pick the movie. Do you know how many times I’ve seen ‘The Notebook’?” Jackson said.

 “Uh…a lot?”

“Exactly. I rented 'Captain America'. She actually said it wasn’t that bad, so now I get movie picking privileges every other week.”

Stiles thought about that. “You know she probably just thought the actor was hot.”

Jackson frowned but Stiles’ attention was pulled away when Derek finally arrived. Waving his hands like a loon, Stiles got Derek’s attention and about half the diner’s, as well.

“What’s he doing here?” Jackson’s eyes were huge; a bit of egg yolk dribbled down his chin, unnoticed.

“Now, don’t be mad,” Stiles tried to placate him. Thankfully Derek slid in next to him and boxed Jackson in.

“What’s up,” Derek said, leaning over the table and stealing a slice of Stiles’ grape jelly slathered toast. “I heard there was an incident.”

“Nothing besides Stiles’ being cornered by a couple of juniors. I handled it, though,” Jackson answered, looking confused and prickly.

“What?” Derek looked at Stiles and Stiles barely resisted rolling his eyes as Derek checked him over, looking for injuries. Just because he was human didn’t mean Stiles couldn’t take care of himself. Really.

“Not why I called. They just wanted to make sure I was treating their team princess right. The problem in question was your reaction to the non-threat, Jackson.”

Jackson scowled. “Me?”

“Yes, you,” Stiles pointed at him with his fork. “You started to wolf out and I think Danny’s catching on that something’s not right.”

That news startled both Derek and Jackson. Jackson looked like he was trying to remember the scene and if he’d done anything that might have given him away.

Derek leaned toward Stiles, “You think he might know?”

Stiles shrugged. “Danny’s not dumb. He’s noticed a change in Jackson’s attitude so he’s perceptive enough to see that part of it's physical. I swear he saw Jackson grow claws.”

Jackson looked like he was on the verge of a freak out.

“What are you going to do to him if he finds out,” he asked Derek, looking scared. Stiles felt a mixture of sympathy and jealousy, remembering his own time where his place in the pack wasn’t decided because he was human, and therefore a liability. Some days he wished Scott would have been even half as worried for him as Jackson was for Danny.

“We should tell him,” Stiles blurted out.

The look Derek sent him was positively venomous.

“Really?” Jackson perked up, looking between Stiles and Derek with a growing sense of hope.

Stiles turned to Derek to explain. “He’s already suspicious, and it’s making the other teammates suspicious. They threatened to watch me and Jackson, and we run the risk of revealing ourselves to someone we don’t trust if that happens. Telling Danny will stop that. They trust him, we trust Danny. This way we have one more barrier between us and everybody else.”

“Yeah, but what if we can’t trust him. I’ve never really been around the guy long enough to get a good judge of his character.”

Jackson took offense to that, “Danny is trustworthy. He’s the best guy there is. He’d hurt himself before he let anything happen to us. Even you.”

Derek grunted, still staring at Stiles as if it were his call.

Stiles licked his lips, mouth feeling dry. “I… I believe we can trust him. Danny’s not the type to turn on Jackson, or us, if we reveal ourselves. It might even do us some good to have another classmate and human in the pack for when school starts up again,” he smiled at Derek.

Derek looked away, taking a drink of Jackson’s orange juice. “I’ll think about it.”

Jackson beamed at Stiles.

***

Danny was looking at Derek like he was meeting a half naked Ryan Gosling and not an actual werewolf. He seemed less impressed with Scott or Jackson being werewolves, but Derek…

“I thought your name was Miguel?”

Stiles snickered and Derek glared.

Danny tore his eyes away from Derek and looked at Stiles with awe. “I don’t get it, aren’t you related?”

“Okay, let the humans talk for a minute,” Stiles put an arm around Danny and pulled him aside. He didn’t doubt for a second that Derek was not going to use his freaky werewolf hearing to listen in on their conversation, but Stiles had gotten used to the breach in privacy.

“You’re human?!”

“Of course I am, what did you think I was?”

Danny looked blankly back. “Uh…”

Stiles narrowed his eyes at Danny, Derek smothering a smile behind his hand.

***

For the last month of summer things seemed to calm down a hell of a lot once Danny joined the pack. Jackson was happy to show off his new superpowers, Scott was happy to have someone to complain to besides Stiles about Jackson, and Lydia was happy to have someone with a little common sense in their pack.

Derek was just Derek. No change there. Stiles seriously wondered if Derek had been happy even once since he had been expelled from his mother’s womb.

Stiles couldn’t help but feel like a major weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He hadn’t known what a burden it was being the only human in the pack until Danny joined. While he would never in a million years regret his choice to be part of the pack, there were some things that being normal just wasn’t cut out for like a werewolf was. Danny seemed to quickly understand that just as keenly as Stiles did, if the sympathetic looks he received at pack meetings were any indication.

He also had someone to sit around on the porch with and bitch to while they waited for the werewolves to finish hunting innocent bunny rabbits in some kind of morbid game of chase. It got ridiculous when Jackson actually caught a rabbit for the first time and dropped the bloody carcass at Danny’s feet like it was some kind of prize. There were jokes galore after that incident and Stiles had never seen Danny blush so hard in his life.

So imagine Stiles’ surprise when in the middle of the night his bedroom window was ripped open and three half-feral werewolves were shoved into his room.

“Stay here,” Derek’s eyes were glowing red, his side burns overgrown and his teeth elongated so far he had a small lisp. He stood just outside the window in his leather jacket and black jeans, the almost full moon illuminating him from behind like he was some kind of vengeful demon from hell. Stiles sat straight up in bed and stared at him in horror.

“What’s going on?” Stiles ignored the snarling pile of fangs and claws on his floor and focused on Derek. It was then that he noticed the blood. “What happened?”

“I’ll explain later. Keep an eye on them for me, will you. Don’t let them leave your den.” With that Derek leapt from the roof, disappearing into the night.

Stiles pulled the bed covers over his shoulders and watched as Lydia extracted herself from the pile, features slowly melting back to human, leaving only her eyes glowing amber.

“Where, what? Stiles?” She shook her head, trying to get a hold of herself as her nostrils flared. Stiles stayed absolutely still in case the wolf wasn’t completely gone, sweat trickling down his back. He didn’t know what Derek was thinking leaving them with Stiles, a pack of confused killing machines do not good house guests make.

“H-hey,” Stiles gave her a jerky shrug, trying to play it casual, his hands clutching at his bed covers in white strained fists.

Lydia’s eyes still had a ring of gold around them. Shuffling forward on her knees she pressed her face into Stiles’ sheets, and consequently his lap. Stiles’ squeak drew Jackson’s attention; he stopped gnawing on Scott’s wrist to growl at them.

Stiles hesitantly patted Lydia’s head, keeping his focus on her while painfully aware that the others were watching him with suspicion.

“Is everything… okay?”

Lydia inhaled loudly against his thigh, one hand going under the covers to grasp his ankle, startling Stiles.

“Hunters.”

Stiles blinked in confusion. “Argent's?”

Scott snarled, taking a threatening step toward them. Thankfully Jackson was there, some sane rationalization bleeding through, and stopped him from attacking Stiles.

“No,” Lydia whined from the back of her throat. “Someone different. Danny was there. Hurt.”

Stiles didn’t notice until he stopped that he’d been petting her red hair, finger running through straggly strands and picking out twigs. “Danny was with the hunters. Who’s hurt?”

“Danny got hurt. Saved me.”

“Oh.” Stiles wondered why Danny had been out with the others and no one had told him about it. He felt a flash of disappointment before he quickly squashed it. “Is he okay? Is that where Derek went, to help Danny?”

Jackson crawled up onto the bed and nuzzled into Stiles’ side. “Yes. They tried to keep us from him because he was human. Stupid hunters.”

“He’s not hurt badly, is he?” Stiles didn’t know what it was about hunters in Beacon Hill but they tended to cause more problems than solve them.

“Not bad, there was blood, though.” Lydia answered, voice muffled against Stiles’ leg. “They made our pack-mate bleed. If Derek hadn’t been there I would’ve torn them apart.”

“Hey now, everything will be okay. He’s alpha, so Derek can handle it, he knows what he’s doing,” Stiles reassured them. If anyone knew how to handle hunters and people getting hurt, it was Derek. He’d done it, like, a million times by now.

Stiles wanted to ask more questions, figure out why they were out, why they were attacked, by whom, how, and so on. The implied threat that there were strangers out hunting them had him worried. The moon was almost full and that meant emotions were running high, and he had to protect his pack, incoherent as some of its members were at the moment.

“You think we’ll be safe here? Do I need to get my dad’s gun or something?”

Jackson looked around the room, he seemed to surprised to be there.

“No. I think we should be okay here. They didn’t follow us.”

“Good,” Stiles forced himself to relax. His main concerns were answered, the rest of his question could wait until Derek returned.

Stiles pulled on Lydia’s arm, nudging Jackson over so they could all lay down. In all his years dreaming of pulling Lydia down into his bed this wasn’t exactly the scenario that he had had in mind.

“Scott?” Stiles looked over at his best friend. Scott was still on high alert, his features all wolfed-out, but there was some sanity to his expression that hadn’t been there earlier.

“Keep watch for a while, but come lay down while you do,” Stiles pleaded, knowing how stubborn his friend was.

Scott took a seat at the edge of the bed right in front of the window. Lydia’s nose was cold where she nuzzled up under Stiles’ chin and was Jackson squeezing his ribs in some kind of octopus-hug; Stiles lay back and pulled the covers over all three of them.

He stared at Scott’s back until the thunderous beat of someone's heart eventually lured him to sleep. It was only in those last few seconds before the darkness slipped over him that he thought the heartbeat might just have been his own.

***

Jackson was predictably a lazy cover-hog, wrapped up like a burrito with only a bit of blond hair sticking out at the end as he tried to burrows into Stiles’ kidney.

“This is kind of sweet,” Danny smirked at them, whipping out his phone and taking a picture. “Like some kind of puppy pile with Stiles’ as momma-dog.”

Derek smirked down at Stiles, his looming at an all-impressive high.

“Bwah?” Stiles wiped the drool off his chin. Something was putting a lot of pressure on his stomach. Looking down he got a view of black curly hair as Scott slept peacefully, half on and half off him. Stiles groaned, head flopping back into the pillows.

“Did you just inadvertently call me a bitch? How’d you get inside?”

Derek looked them all over, looking extremely pleased with himself for some reason. “Walked in through the front door.”

“You actually know how to knock? Or did you bring Danny along for that?”

At Danny’s name, Jackson woke up, squirming like a caterpillar in its cocoon. The effects were nowhere near as pretty as a butterfly, though.

“Danny!” Not even halfway out of the covers, Jackson lunged. Stiles and Derek both jerked forward as if to catch him, jolting Scott and Lydia awake, but ended up watching in bemusement as Danny caught him instead. Laughing in delight, Danny helped untangle Jackson.

“You are utterly ridiculous, how did you survive the night without me,” Danny asked rhetorically, straightening Jackson's clothes and trying to tame the mass of blond hair sticking out every which way. 

Jackson's eyes were huge as he searched for injuries over Danny’s body until he saw the small bandage wrapped around Danny’s forearm. “Are you okay? Last I saw you were in a cage captured by some strange hunters.” He hesitantly touched the edge of the bandage.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m perfectly fine, now stop molesting me,” Danny slapped Jackson’s hands away.

While Lydia and Scott joined Jackson in fussing over Danny, poking their noses and hands into awkward places, Derek took a seat at the edge of the bed next to Stiles, the mattress dipping and causing Stiles to roll towards him.

“Is everything really okay?” Stiles sat up and lent over, breathing in the natural scent of musk and nature that hung around the alpha like the best cologne money could buy.

“Yeah,” Derek actually lent back towards Stiles, shoulders knocking together as he gave Stiles’ neck a small nip with his human teeth. Stiles was too stunned to react and the others too busy with Danny to notice. Pulling back, Derek’s eyes twinkled in amusement.

“Had to ask Argent for help, but it worked out. Just some rookie hunters that had no clue what they were doing. I saved Danny from them and left Chris to handle the rest.”

Stiles blinked. “I’m sure he appreciated that.”

“Yeah, well, he asked for it.”

“You’re such a horrible person,” Stiles laughed, still looking at Derek when Scott tumbled into his side, the two of them jostling each other around. Derek watched them indulgently, making room for Lydia to snuggle up next to him.

Jackson’s face appeared in front of Stiles. “Dude, are you going to cook us breakfast or what?”

***

Stiles lent back against his jeep, turkey sandwich in hand, and winced when he saw Scott take a hit that sent him through a tree.

“Ouch.”

Danny agreed, hissing in sympathy as Lydia gave a turbo kick to Jackson face.

“Fuck, that looks like it hurts.”

“You should have seen them a month ago.” Stiles took a bite out of his sandwich. “Jackson couldn’t hold his own to save his life, and I swear to god they were pulling each other’s hair and shouting about who Derek liked more. I was completely embarrassed to associate with any of them.”

The look Danny gave him was boggling. “Seriously? They look like pumped up UFC fighters now. What happened?”

 Stiles shrugged, “I dunno.” Though really he had an idea. Ever since that lunch at Denny’s with Derek and Jackson something had been different. The interaction between everyone had changed, Derek was more lenient towards the others, Jackson wasn’t pushed around so much, even Stiles himself felt like he was part of the pack more than he had been before, asked for his input more often. He didn’t really think of Jackson as the omega anymore, but then again it wasn’t important if he was. They were family now.

“Hey,” Derek said quietly, coming up with what looked like one of those ball machines used in tennis practice. “You guys want to help out?”

Stiles laughed in delight. “Seriously, are you asking us to play fetch with you guys?”

Derek smiled back, white teeth gleaming in the sun, and the shiver that went down Stiles’ spine was more from anticipation than fright. “Might be fun, and the others need to work on their reflexes.”  

“This is going to be awesome,” Danny hoped off the hood of Stiles' jeep, rubbing his hands together in glee. Stiles couldn’t help but agree, looking over his pack. It was going to be awesome, they were going to be awesome.

***