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bunny rabbits are not the only food group!

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What Stiles knows about Derek, that nobody else knows, is that he isn’t actually living in the burnt-out shell of his family home, but in a modest motel room at the Beacon Hills Super 8 – just as shoddy and dodgy and creepifying, for ambiance purposes, but at least it has running water.

Nobody else knows this about Derek because nobody bothers to ask, maybe because everyone just assumes that Derek doesn’t exist outside of the hours that he’s making them run control exercises and creeping around the high school and glowering noisily in their general direction. Stiles doesn’t blame them, because wow, annoying, but still, do they think the guy exists solely on cobwebs and anger? Dude has to eat.

This is how Stiles, inadvertently, gets to not only see the inside of Derek’s motel room, but to actually spend time inside of it, with Derek present. Because as Stiles’s mom used to say, usually to his dad, the way to a man’s heart is always through his stomach. Apparently this is just as wise of a statement when applied to werewolves, even super grumpy ones with dark pasts.

It takes about ten minutes and a beef casserole to get Stiles over the threshold, but oh, it’s worth it. Not just because time spent with Derek is always time well spent, in Stiles’s opinion, but because obviously the guy needs some serious help with his own personal care and grooming, if the state of his room is anything to go by.

“You – seriously,” Stiles sputters, wading through the infinite, never ending, seriously mythically, epically big, pile of dirty laundry on the floor beside Derek’s bed. “How do you always have clean clothes? Do you wear clean clothes? Ew, ew, man, c’mon, just because you’re animalistically-inclined doesn’t mean you can get away with never washing your boxers, that’s super gross.”

Derek leans against the dresser, eating directly out of the casserole dish, not even bothering with silverware. He’s managing to inhale the thing without coming off as a rabid dog, and being kind of clean about the whole thing, too; Stiles is pretty impressed.

“Animalistically-inclined?”

“It’s a euphemism.” Derek looks at him blankly. “Eu-phem-is-im.”

“I’m not deaf,” Derek says sourly, scowling. “I also know what euphemism means, idiot, I just think it’s stupid.”

“I think we should discuss the verbal abuse issue,” Stiles says staunchly. “Especially if I’m going to be feeding and clothing you, because that seriously crosses the line from ‘grumpy’ to ‘needlessly bitter and mean.’ Don’t bite the hand the feeds you, man, and I do mean that metaphorically and literally.”

“What do you mean, clothing me?” Derek asks.

“Well obviously,” Stiles exclaims, flailing around, trying to indicate Derek’s general state of sloppy, messy, dirtiness without falling face first into the swamp pile of dirty muscle shirts and jeans. “What do you think? What the hell did you do, all on your own in New York? I bet you just bought a new outfit every time the one you were wearing got dirty. Or just glared at some poor dude on the street until he gave you his jeans out of pure terror.”

Derek shrugs. “Sure. That’s what I did,” he says evenly.

“You’re way too good at deadpan.” Stiles tries out his own glower on him. At the raised eyebrow he gets in return, which is basically Derek’s you amuse me and I will let you live because of it expression, it’s not all that intimidating. “Just shut up, you’re hopeless. God, did you eat the entire thing already? I’ve only been here ten minutes! Do you ever eat? How’s your blood sugar?”

Derek actually smirks then, and turns on his heel to stalk the three feet to the bathroom, and this is how Stiles gets to witness Derek brushing his teeth, which is glorious on a level that Stiles cannot fully even comprehend. Like, he uses toothpaste. His toothbrush has a purple handle. And, most glorious of all, he brushes after every meal. No, really!

(If he ever gets to see Derek doing something even more normal, like watching TV or scratching himself or bitching vaguely about politics, he might actually keel over dead, because it would probably be the equivalent to wearing the Shroud of Turin as a cape or taking a bubble bath in the Ark of the Covenant, on the sacred rare holiness scale.)

But, orally speaking aside, his hygiene could use some serious work. Stiles does six full loads to get through the mountain on Derek’s floor, and then he hasn’t even touched the dresser drawers.

“You can’t just throw it all in like this!” Stiles says one afternoon, aghast. “Well no wonder your clothes are always wrinkled.”

Derek’s doing pull-ups in the frame of the bathroom door, and his sweat is dripping all over the freaking place. Stiles twitches and tries not to look. “Worked fine so far,” he grits through his teeth, grunting between words.

“I have no idea how you are even still alive,” Stiles informs him. Derek drops to the ground freakishly gracefully and shrugs.

So Stiles washes all the shit in his drawers, too, and then there’s a bunch of dirty dishes piled up from all the food he’s been bringing over on his laundry trips, and well, Derek isn’t going to wash them, and then Stiles notices that Derek has a secret cache of Monsters in the mini fridge, which is just, God, so wrong, and then while he’s at the store stocking up on bottled water and Gatorade and organic coffee and black tea, he figures he might as well pick up some food too while he’s there, and well, long story short, he shows up at Derek’s room three hours later with three loaves of bread, a huge bag of walnuts and sunflower seeds, a bunch of bananas, six mangos, a package of frozen salmon and a gallon of milk.

Derek stares him down as Stiles is attempting to shove it all into the tiny fridge. Stiles just shrugs, kind of at a loss, himself.

“You eat worse than my dad,” he mumbles, and Derek just grunts and snags a mango. Stiles decides to take that as a thank you.

 

The thing is, is that Stiles’s mom died, and that sucked, and the suckiest part was that it was from cancer, so it wasn’t like there was a convenient, rabid, evil werewolf that he could take revenge on or anything. It was just – this sudden, gaping hole in his life that his dad kept trying and failing to fill up with fishing trips and inappropriately expensive Christmas presents and really, really lenient curfews, but all it did was rub it in, really, and so it still sucked. And Stiles may have a tiny, tiny complex, especially since that time his dad got shot at by a home invader and scolded by his doctor for his blood pressure, all in the same week, seriously.

Also the whole werewolf…situation, thing, predicament. That doesn’t help at all.

It just constantly confuses Stiles, to the point of just pure, cross-eyed craziness, how glib people are about their own well-being, especially the people that Stiles cares about. Like Stiles doesn’t have enough to worry about without Scott going and falling in love with a freaking werewolf hunter, Jesus Christ on a soda cracker.

So if Stiles is going to research the hell out of everything and chase down Scott when he goes crazy and tries to attack their English teacher for scolding Allison in class or do Derek Hale’s fucking grocery shopping, then he will do it right, goddamn it. Because the only thing stupider than getting killed is getting killed because there’s not enough fiber in your diet.

(The fact that Stiles spends an inordinate amount of time worrying about Derek’s diet, specifically, has nothing at all to do with anything, just that, he’s the Alpha now, and he probably eats a lot more forest creatures than the others, and bunny rabbits are not the only food group, seriously.)

 

Another thing Stiles finds out about Derek that the others don’t know (he should start a list, or a blog – maybe not a public blog, though) is that he isn’t nearly as terrifying as he seems.

Or maybe it’s just that, well, Derek shows up and demands food now whenever Stiles is too slow in bringing it over, and once you’ve seen the guy threatening murder over the severe lack of casserole in his life, well, the mystery’s just gone.

“You could, you know, get an actual apartment,” Stiles mentions, “with a kitchen. And you could cook for yourself! Like an adult!”

“Why would I cook for myself when you do it all the time,” Derek says, more of a statement than a question, really. Or an order. Possibly. “Saves time.”

“I’m so glad I’m here to make your life more convenient,” Stiles says, and secretly really means it. Pathetic, he is so deeply pathetic.

Derek jumps up to sit on the counter – well, more like slithers, or slinks, or some other word that means super graceful – and makes his I’m secretly grateful, really, I just have trouble expressing my emotions because of my troubled past face. Stiles may be reading into that one a little bit. “You don’t have to cook for me,” he says.

“I know,” Stiles says, with no small amount of bitchiness.

“And yet,” Derek replies.

“And yet,” Stiles repeats, and carefully hands him a spoonful of baked potato soup. Derek takes it, and yep, that’s definitely his food face. It’s a good face.

“Needs more salt,” Derek mutters, handing the spoon back, licking his lips lazily.

“You’re welcome,” Stiles says, with great satisfaction.

 

“So,” Scott says, one morning, “what gives, man?”

Stiles looks up at him blankly. “…uh.”

Scott’s face twists into an expression not unlike the one Stiles’s grandmother makes whenever he tells her that no, he hasn’t met any nice Jewish girls recently and also, there are no Jewish people in Beacon Hills as far as he knows, so the prospects aren’t looking good. “You’ve been making Derek dinner like, every night.”

“Yes, that is true,” Stiles answers warily, wondering vaguely if he’s about to be forced to have the we’re allowed to have other friends talk with Scott, again. “What about it?”

“So you’re a really good cook.”

“Thank you,” Stiles says, pleased.

“So,” Scott says, sliding smoothly into the seat next to Stiles’s, “how come he gets home delivery and I don’t?”

Stiles rolls his eyes dramatically.

“We’ve been best friends for years,” Scott says, slashing his hands through the air angrily. “Way longer than you’ve even known Derek. When was the last time you even brought cookies to school, Stiles? I feel deprived.”

Stiles bites his lip and tries very hard to look annoyed. “Are you actually trying to pout your way into cookies?”

“Yes,” Scott says unrepentantly. "You've had my mom's cooking. You know my pain."

Stiles bites his lip. Mrs. McCall really is that bad. There should be a law. “What kind of cookies?”

“Cinnamon chocolate chip,” Scott says, not missing a beat. “No – almond coconut. No! No, those salted chocolate espresso caramel brownie things, could you make those?”

Stiles revises his grocery list in his head and crosses his arms and makes his face look stern. “Okay fine, but you owe me.”

“Owe you,” Scott repeats, looking exaggeratedly sad. The small smirk on his face kind of ruins it though. “Years we’ve been friends, Stiles. Years and years and years.”

“And it feels longer with each passing day,” Stiles says pointedly.

Scott just smiles doofily and pushes his extra pudding cup in Stiles’s direction. Stiles snatches it.

“Okay,” Stiles says, mouth full, “I’ll make you a deal. No bitching about anything Derek tells you to do for a month, and I’ll come over and make dinner this Saturday when Allison and her dad are coming over.”

Stiles watches as the full sentence travels its way across Scott’s face, from the dismayed a whole month? to oh shit I forgot they were coming over this weekend to my mom’s gonna be pissed to wait he’s gonna make dinner, never mind to oh my God, Stiles is the best friend anyone has ever had I’m going to listen to everything he says from now on and also stop forgetting to give him gas money when he drives me all over town. That last one is more wishful thinking, but Stiles made a resolution this New Year to be more optimistic, so.

“You’re totally on, and also awesome,” Scott says anyway, dutiful like a best friend should always be.

“Well, I guess I have known you longer,” Stiles replies.

 

(This is technically a lie.

See, when Stiles’s mother was alive, she owned the only good restaurant in town, called The SK Café, which was a weird name but it was some inside joke between Stiles’s parents, so whatever, he let it slide.

Her specialty was coffee, and she put it in everything, pies and cupcakes and ice cream and sometimes sandwiches, inventively, and as such most of the town was overly caffeinated and business was good. Many good citizens were so overly caffeinated in fact that SK’s became a daily, very necessary part of the routine, including Derek’s aunt, a one Hannah Hale.

Hannah Hale and Stiles’s mother, whose name was Shelly, bonded over their alliterated names and doofy husbands and so for most of the year when Stiles was seven, Hannah was a fixture at the restaurant, and consequently, so were Derek and Laura. Stiles clearly remembers many afternoons when his dad would drop him off after school and the two of them would be at a table in the back, huddled together over a spread of books and notebooks, reading and scribbling down things and talking quietly.

When Stiles’s mom got sick, Hannah came to visit once, and she brought a man that Stiles now realizes must have been Peter. Stiles doesn’t remember much about that day, actually doesn’t remember a whole lot from back then, that entire year and a half still fuzzy-edged and watery with grief. But he does remember that Hannah and Peter were very nice, and Stiles’s mother was happy to see them, and in a better mood after they left.

Sometimes, Stiles thinks, if he could go back to that day and say something to that group of people, if he could just freeze everybody in place and say, in two months you’ll be dead, Mom, and in two years so will you, Hannah. And in six years you’ll wake up and start murdering people, Mr. Hale, and then your nephew will murder you, and it’s probably the nicest thing that he will ever do for you, oh and also, burn in hell for what you did to him, you cold-blooded prick. What would they say, what would their faces look like? Could it all be stopped from happening, if they’d known what was coming?

Maybe. Probably not. Stiles doesn’t like to take it that far.)

 

Derek shows up as Stiles is halfway through making Scott’s brownies – or maybe he showed up earlier, who knows, because instead of announcing his presence like a normal, well-adjusted person, he lurks in the kitchen doorway until Stiles notices him. And by ‘notices,’ he actually means, ‘shrieks like a pterodactyl and drops a pound of butter on his foot.’ Semantics.

“I just saw my life flash before my eyes,” Stiles says.

“What are you doing?” Derek frowns. Like, he actually frowns the words. Stiles is kind of impressed.

“I’m…baking,” Stiles replies blankly.

“Well, yes,” Derek says, rolling his eyes. “That’s not what I meant.”

Stiles is confused. “I,” he announces, “am confused.”

Derek’s expression implies that he isn’t surprised by this. “What are you doing home,” he clarifies impatiently.

This doesn’t help. “…I live here? Right?” Stiles attempts. He looks around, checks the furniture – yup, still his house. “Wait, why are you here if you didn’t think I would be here? Oh – oh, that’s creepy. Don’t clarify if it’s creepy.”

Derek just rolls his eyes again. “I was running.”

“Running,” Stiles repeats.

“And I saw your car.”

“Uh huh.” Stiles eyes him suspiciously, then bends down to rescue his butter. “Okay.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“Because it’s a stupid question,” Stiles replies.

“There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers,” Derek says unapologetically, and Stiles’s heart stops for a split second, because what the fuck, his mom used to say that.

“Uh,” he says.

“Stiles,” Derek says in his patient voice, which sounds like a normal person’s I hate your face voice, “why aren’t you at lacrosse practice?”

“Oh, that,” Stiles says. “I quit the team like a month ago.”

Derek frowns again. Stiles thinks, it’s probably going to stick that way. “Why?”

Why. Why did he quit a team that chronically under-appreciated him and his mad stick-waving skills, a team which forced him to run twice as many suicides as everyone else at practice and then sit on the bench during games, which subjected him to Jackson’s pointy shoulders of doom at every turn and ate up his days until he barely had time to sleep, let alone bake things and research things and worry about things? Well.

“Too hard,” Stiles says.

Derek snorts. “Right,” he says. He sounds skeptical.

“Want to help?” Stiles says brightly. “Espresso brownies. Yum yum.”

“I can’t cook,” Derek says. He doesn’t sound all that broken up about it.

“This isn’t cooking, it’s baking. Much easier. Plus, all you have to do is stir things.”

Derek eyes the various bowls and ingredients warily.

“You won’t screw it up, I promise,” Stiles says.

Derek rolls his eyes and doesn’t help, but he stands closer than usual, and he watches Stiles intently.

(Progress.

Or, actually, Stiles thinks, more like: progress...?)

 

Stiles and Lydia are totally friends now, a status that was achieved through a series of very delicate negotiations. Meaning, Stiles will listen to Lydia bitch about Jackson as much as she wants, and not touch her unless absolutely necessary, and in return Lydia will give Stiles unwarranted advice and call him rude names a lot and call him up at 8 AM on a Saturday and demand that he drive her to the mall because she needs a new pair of boots, pronto.

Stiles would normally be more annoyed about this situation, due to this weird new self-esteem thing he’s been trying lately, but Lydia’s still on a dozen different medications and gets dizzy and tired whenever she’s out of bed for longer than five hours and Jackson is too busy being the most pathetic, self-involved, whiny douchebag in the history of teenagers to care, so there it is. Besides, Lydia is infinitely less bitchy when she’s freaked out, which she is constantly nowadays, due to being recently, violently traumatized.

Stiles feels bad, is what he’s saying.

“I think Jackson slashed my tires,” Lydia says absently, holding something with tassels and strings and a huge peace sign up under her chin. Stiles suspects some kind of fetish is involved in this garment. He wisely keeps this theory to himself. “Does this make me look washed out?”

“No, your bandages make you look washed out,” Stiles says helpfully. “Also, what?”

“Shut up, my bandages are bad ass,” Lydia says. “I said Jackson slashed my tires. Again.”

“Yes, you look like a bad ass, scarred, washed out superhero, how do you know it was Jackson?”

“Superhero like comic book superhero, or like, action movie superhero? And who else could it be?”

“Action movie, definitely, definitely. Like urban cowboy Die Hard supercop, only hot and with supernatural elements. Maybe it was one of the hunters? They know you’re, you know.” Stiles waggles his eyebrows. “A ‘w’ word.”

“You mean werewolf?” Lydia says loudly, then rolls her eyes when Stiles shushes her. “Whatever dork, nobody’s around. This is Abercrombie & Fitch, hello, nobody shops here.”

“We shop here.”

“We’re being stealth.” Lydia abandons her bondage peace sign and grabs a sparkly, blue tube top. “So is this top Mission Impossible or what?”

“Pretty sure that top makes you look incredibly possible,” Stiles says critically. “Why would Jackson slash your tires? That makes no sense, he knows you never drive anywhere.”

“Because he’s a tiny insecure boy-man with the collective brain power of a tennis cleat!” Lydia exclaims, throwing the tube top at the mirror.

Stiles takes a step backwards, slightly concerned for his safety. “Still having trouble with the mood swings, huh?”

“I hate my body!” Lydia stomps her foot and grabs her hair, then takes a deep breath. “No. Not true. My body is rockin’.”

“Yes! Yes it is. Everyone says so,” Stiles agrees, silently charting the exits.

“The obstacle is the path,” Lydia murmurs, closing her eyes and breathing deeply. “The obstacle is the path.”

Stiles waits until she’s finished mantra-ing, then grabs the Tupperware of brownies from his bag and holds them out hopefully.

Lydia reaches out without looking and crams half of one in her mouth.

“Look,” Stiles says, “he’s pissed because he doesn’t feel super special anymore. That’s it – you know that’s it. He’s taking it out on us because he thinks we’re excluding him on purpose.”

“We are excluding him on purpose,” Lydia says.

“Well yeah, but only because he’s a tiny insecure boy-man,” Stiles replies.

“His issues are so tiring.” Lydia just sighs, shaking her head. “Do you think Derek should’ve given him the bite?” she asks curiously, ambling over to her pile of maybes and shaking out a tiny, blue dress with sequins along the neckline. “Also yes or no?”

“Yes,” Stiles says definitively. “And no.”

They both pause, looking at each other.

“Dress: yes,” Stiles clarifies. “Jackson: no.”

“Oh good,” Lydia says, looking relieved. “Me too.” She shakes out another dress, white this time, and thrusts it in Stiles’s face. “Well?” she demands. “Cher from Clueless. Am I right?”

“Oh my God, you totally are,” Stiles says in amazement, and Lydia’s grin is bigger than any Stiles has ever seen before.

Later, when they’re walking down the parquet and drinking lattes and making fun of what people are wearing, Lydia slips her arm through his and squeezes his elbow once.

“What?” Stiles asks, surprised.

“What,” Lydia says. “I’m tired. And injured.”

“No you’re not, you’re an urban superhero,” Stiles says, but his insides are currently turning into soupy, fuzzy sparkles, it kind of undermines his snark a little.

Lydia smirks like she knows exactly what his insides look like and it pleases her. “When school starts, I am so telling everyone that we slept together and it was awesome,” she says.

Stiles chokes on his latte.

“Because you’re my friend,” Lydia explains happily, smiling brightly.

“Oh?” Stiles says.

“Well, you can keep up more than one conversation at once,” Lydia says. “Allison can’t even do that, she gets all confused.”

Stiles resists the urge to fist pump and instead decides to handle this maturely.

“What a loser,” he says.

Lydia squeezes his elbow again.

 

“Have you talked to your father recently?” Derek asks, the next morning, eating an omelet that Stiles brought over in a casserole dish.

“Yes,” Stiles says patiently, “see, I live with my father. Ergo, I do talk to him quite frequently.”

“I mean about me,” Derek says.

“Why would I talk to him about you?”

“You should tell him about me,” Derek mumbles.

Stiles stares at him in silence.

“Stiles,” Derek says, glaring, “he thinks I’m a murderer, how do you think he’ll react when he finds out you’re doing my laundry?”

“I only do your laundry because you don’t do your laundry, this situation is entirely preventable,” Stiles says.

“I never said I didn’t do my own laundry,” Derek says.

“Oh yes you did.”

“No,” Derek repeats, “I didn’t. You assumed, and then started doing it for me.”

“Well, I’m doing it the right way,” Stiles insists.

“You’re deflecting.”

“No, I’m not,” Stiles says, “by the way Allison and her dad are coming over for dinner tomorrow night, so maybe don’t show up, okay?”

Derek twitches violently, then glares some more. “Still deflecting, and what?”

“Look, my dad and I have this very delicate balance where he finds it awkward to talk to me about his feelings and I lie to him about almost everything I do, okay, changing it now would just upset him. And yeah, they’re coming over. I’m making dinner because Mrs. McCall has to work and doesn’t have time to. Also she's an awful cook and will poison them and that would be very bad for werewolf-hunter relations.”

“You’re hosting Scott and Allison’s meet the parents dinner?” Derek asks, sounding absolutely disgusted.

Stiles doesn’t blame him, he’s a little absolutely disgusted himself. “Look, don’t rub it in, okay. Just don’t show up, property damage is something I would like to avoid. We just redid the kitchen wallpaper.”

“I won’t show up if you tell your dad about me,” Derek says stubbornly.

“What?” Stiles squeaks. “You’re going to blackmail me?”

“Blackmail is a strong word,” Derek says.

“You know, I would like to know if there is some sort of check or balance on your Alpha status,” Stiles protests. “Is there a werewolf council or some other governing body that I can file a complaint with? A Lycan Review Board?”

“No,” Derek says shortly. “Tell your dad or I’ll come.”

“You’re gonna come over to my house,” Stiles says incredulously, “in the middle of dinner, with my father, Scott and Allison, Scott’s mother and Chris Argent?”

“Chris Argent and I have an understanding, Stiles,” Derek says. “He’s not going to shoot me on sight.”

“What?! No – what? No!”

“And it’s past time for me to introduce myself to the Sheriff,” Derek says, a tiny smirk taking cover in the corner of his mouth. “Officially, when I’m not being arrested, I mean.”

“You’re an awful person,” Stiles spits.

Derek’s smirk emerges fully and he thrusts the empty casserole dish into Stiles’s chest, brushing past him on his way to the bathroom. “I’m aware.”

“I regret meeting you!” Stiles calls after him, then sighs. “Frick.”

 

so hey daddy-o, about how much I’ve been cooking lately, Stiles texts.

Are you feeding a homeless person living in our basement? his dad texts back.

“No, I’m feeding Derek Hale in the Super 8 off of Highway 57,” Stiles says to his steering wheel. It stares up at him in silent judgment.

I’ve been making food for a friend. He doesn’t have a kitchen, he texts.

What friend?

A friend you wouldn’t necessarily approve of?

Is he dangerous?

Stiles considers his answer carefully.

He would never hurt me, he sends.

Okay then, his dad sends back, good talk.

Which is father-code for, “we are so not done talking, but I will surprise-attack you with this topic at some point when I detect that you are vulnerable to my dad-powers so don’t think you’re getting away with anything, you sneaky little shit.” Stiles takes a deep breath and then puts his phone away.

Whatever, it totally counts.

 

Stiles and Lydia spend the first day back from spring break engaged in a complex game of chicken, in which they make lewd and inappropriate comments about each other’s anatomy, loudly and in highly public places. This results in most of the student body giving them both a wide berth (what Stiles suspects was Lydia’s intention from the start) and also, detention. Apparently Finstock does not have the cultural sensitivity necessary to appreciate Lydia’s expertly illustrated diagrams on the inside cover of Stiles’s textbook. (If the math thing falls through, Stiles is now confident that she has a fulfilling career in porn ahead of her. Or art. Possibly both.)

Lydia, who is evil, gets out of it by faking a fainting spell.

“Traitor,” Stiles hisses, as she’s fake-limping her way past his desk. Lydia flashes him some teeth and moans loudly.

“I think I’m having heart palpitations!” she exclaims, which prompts her freshman escorts to stare at each other in mute horror.

The only comfort is that Scott has apparently scored a detention too, for something mysterious and vague that he refuses to talk about at lunch. Stiles suspects something werewolf, and also possibly Allison, related.

“What else could it be?” Scott bemoans. “Those are the two things that pretty much rule my life.”

“That was surprisingly self-aware of you, dude,” Stiles praises. “Here, have another cookie.”

Scott snatches it out of his hand and chomps down grumpily.

Detention is with the English teacher this week, a crotchety old woman named Mrs. Heems, who stashes them in the empty classroom off the library and totters off to watch television in the A/V room with the swim coach. They consider ditching, but honestly Scott has been looking for a reason to skip practice anyway and the longer Stiles can put off going home to tackle the Leaning Tower of Dirty Dishes in his kitchen, the better.

So they crack the windows, park it in some chairs, fold up some paper footballs, and settle in. It’s kind of nice, actually.

“You’d think we’d have more issues considering how many times we’ve been almost murdered in this building,” Stiles says thoughtfully, “but actually I think I might miss it after we graduate.”

Scott looks at him like he’s insane. “Whatever you say, Stiles.”

“No seriously,” Stiles says, “think about it, Scott. This is the last time in our entire lives that we won’t have any adult responsibilities or worries. After this year, it’s all over. We’re officially grown up.”

Scott rolls his eyes. “Yeah,” he says sarcastically, “because it’s not like we’ve had to deal with any adult things lately, like serial killers or mortal, grave danger. Oh, wait.”

“Whatever,” Stiles says, waving a hand, “we’ll probably always have to deal with that. I’m just saying that at least right now, we don’t have like, normal adult things to worry about on top of all that.”

Scott gives him a measuring look, and for a second Stiles thinks he’s about to say something deep, like, wow Stiles, you’re very mature for your age, or gee, you’re right, I think I might take advantage of my fleeting youth while I have the chance, or as long as our hearts are young we can face adversity with strength and dignity!

“Dude, what are you even talking about, being an adult is going to rock,” is what he says instead, and Stiles sighs.

“Have another cookie, Scott,” he says.

Scott makes the face he makes whenever Stiles implies that he’s being an idiot, but takes another cookie regardless. “Hey look,” he says, mouth full, “isn’t that Allison’s dad’s truck?”

Stiles looks. Sure enough, the he-man macho behemoth that Chris Argent drives is pulling up to the side parking lot by the library. “Huh,” he says, “didn’t Allison leave early today for a dentist appointment?”

“Yeah,” Scott says, confused. “She just texted me, she’s at home…” he trails off into silence as none other than Jackson Whittemore climbs out of the truck’s front seat, shouldering his backpack and knocking dirt off his shoes on the mud guard as he jumps down.

Stiles curses fiercely.

“What the hell?” Scott asks. “What is he doing with Chris Argent?”

“Nothing good,” Stiles says, pulling out his phone.

“Stiles, he knows – he knows a lot about us,” Scott is saying anxiously. “He knows details.”

“Yes, I know,” Stiles says distractedly, already tapping out a rapid-fire text to Derek.

“And he’s still pissed off Derek won’t give him the bite,” Scott says. “Wait – they know that about him. Right? They know he wants it, that means they won’t take him as seriously. Right?”

Derek’s reply is instantaneous, almost like he was waiting to hear from Stiles, which is a thought Stiles is a little wary of examining too closely at the moment. I already know, is what Derek sent, which doesn’t help, even a little bit.

Stiles snaps his phone shut in frustration. “That’s not what I’m worried about,” he says. Scott looks at him quizzically. “Dude, think about it. He wants to get back at us. The hunters want Derek. Add it up.”

His anxiety makes his voice sound sharper than Stiles had intended, but Scott just shakes his head, looking grim. “If they go after Derek,” he says, “we’ll stop him. We’re a pack now. We can protect each other.”

“There’s four of us,” Stiles points out, fear dripping down the inside of his throat, thick and greasy. “Five, if you count Allison, which I’m not sure we can – “

“We can,” Scott says firmly.

“Okay,” Stiles agrees cautiously, “but how many of them? At least six, we know. And who knows how many more they can call and bring in at any moment.” Scott looks over at him, face pinched in apprehension.

They both fall silent, watching as Argent’s truck pulls away slowly and Jackson starts the trek back to the main parking lot, oblivious to his observers.

“Oh damn,” Scott says suddenly, “we have to make dinner for the jerk, too.”

“No, I’m making dinner for the jerk,” Stiles points out - which, he volunteered, but still.

Scott sighs helplessly. “God, just fuck our lives.”

“Preach,” Stiles replies.