Stiles wouldn’t say he’s a nurturer.
It isn’t like he’s out doing Scott’s laundry or anything, not even when Mrs McCall had to work a double three days straight and Scott made the really idiotic decision to do it himself and spent at least one day a week for the rest of the year wearing an item of clothing that was somehow both grey and pink.
He just likes people, and he likes things the way he likes them, and he likes things to be right, which means that he makes the occasional effort to make people be okay.
It isn’t like that’s unusual or anything, and it is certainly no excuse for the ridiculousness of his friends.
If he had had any warning, if he had known in advance that people were going to be like this, he would have shut that down.
Stiles felt like he’d been spending a lot of time over at the Hale place recently, but nobody seemed to have noticed, so it must not have been that much.
His dad was coming in the door as Stiles was on the way out.
“Dinner’s in the microwave,” Stiles said.
“Yeah?” his dad asked suspiciously.
“Sliders and vegetables,” Stiles informed him. There may have been some tofu in there, but his father had never noticed before and he wasn’t going to start now.
“Don’t be late,” his dad said.
“Don’t worry, don’t worry,” Stiles said, but his father was already on his way to the kitchen, and Stiles was halfway out the door.
“I just think it’s really romantic,” Scott was saying, and Stiles was trying to hear the argument going on in the background, but Scott was staring at him with wide, earnest eyes, and sometimes Stiles almost wished he’d taken Peter Hale up on his crazy, no-good offer just for the hearing, just so he didn’t have to worry he was going to lose track of something important.
“I want to,” Lydia was saying, and Derek cut in, but his rumble was too low to hear over Scott’s voice.
“It’s such a romantic kiss, and all the emotion behind it and the rain and—“ He broke off wistfully.
“—can too convince people, Scott did—“
“I guess I’m just worried that the new movies are going to take everything I loved and ruin the memory,” Scott said mournfully, and Stiles nodded in understanding.
“—different situation and it isn’t open for discussion,” Derek said, and Lydia’s voice rose.
“It was such a formative experience in my life,” Scott said. “Peter and Mary-Jane are forever. I don’t want them to ruin that.”
“Well, we don’t have to go see the movie,” Stiles said diplomatically, even though he was going to come hell or high water, even if he had to drag Derek along and swear him to secrecy about the outing afterwards. “I know how much you love the original.”
“I do,” Scott said, and he still looked unhappy. “Maybe I should try the comics instead.”
“No,” Stiles said, “no, you might need to be careful there, let me check it out first. You should check out Kick-Ass, I keep telling you. I really think it’s more relevant to your own—“ Stiles realised he was inadvertently making the boob hand signal and dropped it before Scott saw. “And it’s kind of romantic, I mean, in a more realistic way, more applicable, not that I think you should—Try it! I think you should try it.”
“—and I totally knew how to do a mambo cha-cha-cha from when I was a kid so people totally would buy it and yesterday she started me off with a k-step and I didn’t even have to try and you are not taking this away from me!”
Lydia’s voice was alarmingly shrill, and Stiles was worried about whatever was happening over there, but Scott was still staring, so he said, “But if you want we could go watch Spiderman right now, huh? Nothing like the original.”
“Yeah!” Scott said, face lit up. “Hey, Derek, we’re done here, right?”
“Yeah,” Derek said, “we are done,” and Lydia made a frustrated noise at the ceiling and stormed out.
“We’re going to my place to watch Spiderman,” Scott said to Jackson, sitting in the corner texting.
“Fine,” Jackson said, and got up to join them.
“Get a tv,” Stiles muttered to Derek on his way out.
“Really, we need a tv here,” Stiles said, a couple of days later, as he was watching Derek glare at Jackson as he patched his own face up. A radio would do.
“What do we need a tv for?” Jackson muttered, cleaning the grit out of the scrape on his cheek in a petulant fashion. “Derek always has something to say.”
“You need to be better at this,” Derek said. “This is going to get you hurt, and it’s irresponsible and stupid of you not to be able to handle running into a hunter by now.”
Jackson whipped around, and Stiles thought there was going to be trouble, but Jackson just protested, “Mrs Argent is scary!” which was true, but not helpful, or likely to improve Derek’s mood.
“Did you tell her Allison was here the other day?” Stiles asked, and Jackson flushed.
“This is the problem,” Stiles said. “You’re a terrible liar.” Jackson frowned, but, “You know it’s true,” Stiles insisted, and he did, so, “Whatever,” he muttered, sullen.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with being a bad liar,” Stiles said. “That has to say good things about your character, right?” He was sceptical, given who he was talking to, but Jackson straightened right up. “You just need to practice. You just need to try.”
Jackson slumped down again. “It happens every time.”
“You freeze up every time,” Stiles said, because he’d seen it time and again. “You just need to say something.”
“I can’t think of anything,” Jackson admits.
“It doesn’t matter what you say,” Stiles said, and Derek was actually glaring at him, like he thought Stiles was leading Jackson off the straight-and-narrow here or something. “You just have to say something, anything, like Mrs Argent says what?”
“Did you have a good time with Allison on Tuesday.”
“And you say, ‘Tuesday? I didn’t do anything with Allison on Tuesday, I went out to Derek’s place and we all watched Spiderman, he got a new tv. Does Allison like Spiderman? I bet she hates it, right, but Emma Stone is awesome. What did you think of The Help?’”
Jackson blinked, face blank. “I can’t do that.”
“Yeah, you can,” Stiles said. “Okay, maybe you can’t get hardass warrior-moms to explain The Help to you, but you can do something, you just have to do something.”
“He needs to toughen up,” Derek said, but Stiles shushed him.
“Let’s go,” he said. “What did you guys get up to on Tuesday? Allison’s so secretive now.”
“Tuesday?” Jackson said, and stopped for too long. “I didn’t see Allison on Tuesday.” And again. “I went out into the woods with Derek and we practiced lacrosse for a couple of hours.”
Stiles bounced, gesturing Jackson on, thinking, it’s really been improving my form, the Coach is really pleased, but Jackson said, “Is Allison any better at lacrosse now, because the last time she came to see a game her ignorance kind of embarrassed me.”
“That’s okay,” Stiles said supportively. “We’ll get there.”
Derek vanished in a huff.
Stiles wasn’t sure how he ended up in Lydia’s car, being driven over to Derek’s place, but he wanted out.
“He just doesn’t understand,” Lydia said. “I need this for my college applications. Sports are essential, that’s what they look for, and aerobics is perfect. He just doesn’t get it, he’s a dinosaur.”
“They’re not essential,” Stiles said. “And maybe don’t call Derek a dinosaur to his face.”
“I could be good at it,” Lydia continued, ignoring him. “I would hardly even have to put in any time, it comes so easily.”
“I know,” Stiles said, and he did, remembered the responses of Scott’s body changing overnight, honed into speed and strength that he didn’t know what to do with. He supposed aerobics was better, but he didn’t want to see Lydia do a step or a hop or whatever and break the bar in two.
Also, he wanted everybody to stop fighting, because Danny’s boyfriend’s band had that show this weekend, and Danny was going to cut a bitch if anybody ducked out or looked less than thrilled to be there.
“I have to explain it to him,” Lydia said. “You have to explain it to him.”
She actually seemed to be waiting for a response.
“You don’t need it,” Stiles said.
“I do, I need everything!”
“Yeah,” Stiles said, grinning. “I know you want everything, but this is a distraction that could go really badly wrong, and you don’t even need it.”
“I do need it,” Lydia said, pulling up in front of the house and looking out the window at it, away from Stiles, but her voice sounded small, and Stiles knew she knew he was right, even if she didn’t believe it.
“Have you seen your GPA?” Stiles asked. “Because I have, and if I didn’t know exactly how awesome I am it would have given me an inferiority complex and the screaming meemies.”
“Don’t front, Stiles, I know it did.”
“I don’t want everyone to know,” she told the window, breath fogging up the glass.
“To know that you’re better them? That’s new and different!”
“You know what I mean.”
“Hey,” he said. “You can get into MIT, Chicago, and Harvey Mudd, and do you really think any of your idiot friends are going to know what that means? They’re morons, Lydia. It’s true, they would judge you for being smart, but they’re too dumb to realise that you are, so that works out well for you.”
She got out of the car smiling.
“We’re going to be late,” she said, striding towards the house, leaving Stiles scrambling to catch up.
When they got inside everyone was clustered around the brand-new television sitting in the corner.
“Huh,” Stiles said, pleased.
“Christ,” Lydia said. “That’s kind of pathetic.”
“What?” Stiles asked.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Scott said.
“What?” Stiles asked. He thought Scott might have left a cheek-mark on the screen.
“I got a television today,” Derek announced.
“I noticed. It’s nice.”
“It was reduced.”
“You afraid that wall was going to come down if you hung it up?”
“Seriously, Stiles thank you,” Scott said again.
“For making Derek get us one!”
“Yeah, thanks,” Jackson agreed.
“No,” Derek said sharply. “The wall is fine. I’ll hang it tonight.”
“It’s a nice tv,” Stiles said. “Did you get insurance for when the wall comes down on top of it?”
“There is nothing wrong with that wall,” Derek snapped. “And if there is it’s nothing I can’t fix.”
“Wow,” Lydia said. “What are you going to do when we all leave the nest?”
“What?” Stiles asked, but it wasn’t really a question this time, more blank incredulity.
“I’m worried about you and dad,” she told Stiles. “Are you going to be okay without us? You should adopt a puppy to fill the hole. No wait, that might be awkward.”
“Lydia,” Stiles said in a warning tone, which he did realise wasn’t actually helping his case.
“You should adopt a baby. But not from China or Cambodia or one of those places. You should adopt a baby from Brazil or Scandinavia. A hot baby, with good genes, so you don’t have to worry about food all the time, Stiles.”
“Lydia,” Scott said, amused and exasperated, thank God. “Stiles is eighteen, he isn’t going to adopt a baby.”
“Huh,” she said, grinning at Stiles outright. “I suppose you don’t want the resentment that having your youth cut short would bring, not that you’re doing much with it.”
“Lydia,” Derek said, coming down heavy, and she shut up.
They all stood around awkwardly, looking at the television, then, “Whatever, Dad,” Lydia muttered, and when she reached for the remote Derek snatched it away and handed it to Jackson instead.
So it’s kind of uncomfortable when Derek shows up at Danny’s boyfriend’s thing the next night and everyone looks between them like it’s a tennis match, even though they aren’t doing a thing, not even looking at each other.
There’s nothing going on between Derek and him anyway, that’s totally crazy, neither of them has ever given the slightest indication of such a thing, and Stiles is really irritated by the fact that his friends all think he’s the mom.
Derek comes over to join them, and Stiles is a little jumpy when Derek gets him a refill, but he’s the only one at the table who was out, that’s just polite.
“You didn’t get me peanuts,” Lydia carps.
“You have legs,” Derek says.
Stiles takes a long drink.
The band isn’t terrible, but they’re not really Stiles’ kind of thing, and he’s glad when one of the speakers goes out and they take a break to get it fixed.
Everyone but Derek goes up to make like a groupie, and Stiles manages enough enthusiasm to satisfy Danny.
The speaker screeches when it comes back online and the majority of their crowd flinches and hurries back to the table.
Stiles watches Danny’s imperturbable face, because he knows Danny isn’t stupid, no matter what the group-think has decided.
“Dude,” Stiles says, but they’re back to full volume and Danny looks at him, looks back at the table and leans in to speak into Stiles’ ear, say, “You should go,” with a jerk of his head.
“Okay,” Stiles says, and backs away, leaves Danny smiling brightly up from the side of the stage.
Stiles hopes this one lasts.
He takes his seat beside Derek, a fresh drink in front of him, and then Derek leans in to him, says, “We should get out of here,” and makes him shiver.
When Stiles gets up and walks away without looking back it’s only because the music is so loud and he doesn’t like it anyway.
He ignores the eyes following their path, but he has more trouble with Derek’s hand on his back, Derek’s body just too far away from his.
When they get outside, Derek says, “We’ll take my—“ and Stiles shoves him back against the building, reaches out for him and licks into his mouth, pulls him down and holds him there and fights until he feels like he’s won and he can let Derek ease him down from the precipice.
“We should take my car home,” Derek says, panting. “Now.”
“Should we go back in and take their keys?” Stiles wonders, putting his hand over Derek’s, still on his hip, trying to make up for his new distraction.
“No,” Derek says shortly, and Stiles lets Derek hurry him into the car, back to the house, and all the way into something that he knows how to do already, he has to admit, even if this part of it is brand new, though he doesn’t know why, doesn’t know why they ever weren’t doing something so good.
And in the morning, he’s happy enough that he doesn’t even hold it over Derek's head when the wall comes crashing down.
Well, not much.