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But I'm Not a Soldier

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The first time Derek shoves Stiles against a wall, she pepper sprays him in his face.

Derek's snarling and rubbing frantically at his eyes, wolfing out in pain, and Stiles is maybe shaking in abject pants-pissing terror, combined with burning rage. But because she's Stiles, even as she's worried Derek might, like, rip her skin off in retaliation, her mouth is running, spewing everything in her head.

“No, see, no, because I am human and a female! You don't get to domestic violence me, dude. Just, no. I'm not going to become some Lifetime story because, sure, my life is sort of pathetic and, now, sort of tangentially supernatural, but--” It's important. This is important. She takes a huge, gulping breath, exhales unsteadily, and when she finishes, her voice is focused and clear: “I am not that girl and that shit's not on.”

Derek wipes his streaming eyes, brows lowered in a squinty glower, and Stiles holds her breath for so long her vision starts to go spotty. Eventually, Derek nods. “Okay.”

*

The second time Derek gets grabby/slammy with Stiles is not long after he becomes Alpha. Stiles narrows her eyes at him and he steps back, taking away the arm that was pressed against her clavicle.

“Seriously?” she says, loudly, with a lot of hand waving. “You're supposed to be teaching those idiots how to control themselves in a school full of humans all day, and this does not inspire confidence.”

Derek stares at a point over her shoulder and his fists clench at his sides. “My wolf has gotten stronger since I became Alpha.”

“All of you has gotten stronger, yes, I get that, but. Seriously. You're the Alpha and this entire town needs you to be in control, and to help the idiots be in control. The center cannot hold, is what I'm saying, and as much as it literally pains me to admit this, as the Alpha you're that center. So get it together and hold it together, man.”

“Yes. I know.”

Stiles stares at him suspiciously, but his eyebrows are being incredibly determined and kind of earnest, so she guesses they're on the same page. She turns to go, when she remembers something.

“Oh, wait, hey, one more thing,” she says, then spins and squirts the pepper spray right in his face.

 

*

“You're the Omega,” Jackson sneers.

Stiles' eyes almost bug out of her head, then she jumps to her feet. “What? What!”

Jackson rolls his eyes. “How is this news to you, Stilinski?”

Stiles looks around and sees that, yeah, thanks, everyone seems to be in agreement if the well, duh looks are anything to go by. Derek actually seems surprised that Stiles didn't know, if she's reading his ridiculous eyebrows right.

“What about Allison?” Stiles demands of Derek. “What is she?”

He lifts a shoulder. “Beta.”

For a minute, Stiles stands there, mouth moving like a fish—and, god, how is this her life? How does her life include situations where she makes a face like this? She hates her life.

Finally, she gets a hold of herself enough to snap her jaw shut, clipping her tongue along the way, and goddamn it, that hurts, and she hates her life so hard. She grabs her backpack and pulls her keys out of her pocket.

When she's almost at the door, Derek snaps out, “Where the hell are you going, Stiles?”

“I am so out,” she announces, not even turning around. “You can have your happy little wolfpack without me.”

The thing is that, if she thinks of high school as a pack, then there she's an Omega. She knows this, even if she doesn't like it. But she doesn't have a choice about being there, and it's not forever, because when she finishes she'll go to college and things will be different, she knows this. The difference with the Pack is that she has a choice, and as much as Stiles has shitty self-esteem, and absolutely no confidence, she is not voluntarily signing herself up to be the loser in a werewolf pack.

*

Scott shows up at her house the next day, after ignoring her at school to trail after Allison, to try to talk sense into her, which is infuriating on so many levels, the least of which is that it becomes painfully clear that he doesn't even actually know what an Omega is, despite all the lectures she's given him about Pack structure and the damn hand-outs she made.

“Scott, I'm not abandoning you,” she tells him. “Really. If you need something, I am there for you, 140% because I'm 40% more awesome than anyone else ever. I'm just not part of the Pack anymore, which is cool--” It's really not, because she's liked it, the obnoxiousness she's been subjected to aside, and it really sucks that for everyone else she was just there to be picked on or whatever. “--because unlike you, I'm not a wolf so it's not a requirement.”

Because he's Scott, and therefore deeply self-involved in the most loveable ways, he's reassured and leaves with an easy grin.

Derek, on the other hand, is a complete douche about the whole thing when he shows up two weeks later.

“Jesus Christ!” she hisses, mindful of her father downstairs, and rubs her elbow where she slammed it into the doorjamb when she heard the tap on her window. But at least there was a tap, which means Derek still understands that creeping into a teenage girl's bedroom is sinister and completely freaksome, and that he should never, ever take social cues from Twilight.

She lets him in because she knows he's ass enough to sit there tap-tap-tapping on her window for hours if need be, and Stiles' life is bizarre enough without it embodying some weird Poe elements on top of everything else.

“Phone calls. Texts. Emails. Any of those methods are guaranteed to reach me. The window visits are unnecessary.” She pauses while Derek shuts the window behind him and sits at her desk. “Actually, wait, you shouldn't actually have a reason to contact me anymore. Why are you even here?”

“There's a Pack meeting tomorrow.” Derek folds his arms and stares her down. “Time to unbunch your panties.”

Stiles falls back on her bed and covers her face with her hands. Sometimes she thinks that she was a terrible person in a former life. Like, ate babies and killed kittens, kind of terrible, because she can think of no other explanation for why this is her life.

“Derek. Do I seem like my panties are in a bunch?” As soon as she says it, she flinches. She knows his eyebrows are probably mocking and laughing at her. “I mean—do I seem...upset to you?”

Of course, he doesn't answer. Stiles pushes into a sitting position and looks at him. He's staring at her, head cocked, mouth turned down in a frown.

“No, really. Use your privacy invading wolfy powers or whatever. Do I seem pissed or angry or otherwise upset?”

Derek blinks. “You're surprisingly calm, especially for you.”

Stiles makes a face. “Gee, thanks. But, anyway, you seem to think I'm having some kind of, I don't even know, hissy fit or something. I'm not, I've just left the Pack because, no joke, dude--” And whatever, Eyebrows Frick and Frack can shut up, she'll call him dude if she wants to. “--there's nothing in it for me besides getting treated like the same kind of loser I get treated like all the time.”

She's a little taken aback when Derek's eyes flare red. “So it's all about you, then? What about the Pack, Stiles? What about Scott?”

“What about the Pack, Derek?” she snaps. “A freaking Omega is not irreplaceable, and they tend to disperse naturally in wolf and werewolf packs, anyway.” She rolls her eyes at Derek's frowning face of doom. God, his entire face is as stupid as Frick and Frack. “I can give you recommendations if you're that desperate to have someone to pick on. As hard as it might be to believe, I am not actually on the bottom rung of the loser ladder in school. I can probably find you an even better Omega who might enjoy getting crapped on regularly.”

She falls back on the bed again, annoyed. “And don't even throw Scott in my face, because I've already told him I'll still help him if he needs it. I'm his best friend, and that didn't change when he became a werewolf, and it won't change now that I'm not in the secret club anymore. He can consider me his consultant for all this bizarre craziness.” She flails her hands, vaguely in the direction of the window. “Now can you go? Please.”

“The door won't say open forever, Stiles,” Derek says, from right next to the bed. Stiles doesn't jump or startle this time, because she's been in this room enough with Derek at this point that she expects him to move freaky silent and suddenly just be there when she turns her head.

“You just let me know when you want those recommendations,” she says oh so cheery and pleasantly.

*

 

A week later, after dozens of frantic texts from Scott over the course of a day and a half, Stiles stabs a freaking fae in the back with the pointy end of the Henderson's wrought iron waist-high gate. She jumps away from the creature—and it's really ugly and nothing at all like the pictures she found on the internet—and reaches down to drag Scott out of the way of the thing before it falls right on him.

The fae thing screams and pulls itself off the spike, only to stumble a few feet and collapse. Stiles looks away, ignores the rest of the Pack in various bruised and battered states in the clearing, and turns to grab Scott by the shoulders. “Are you okay?” she asks, frantic, because the thing had been crouched over him with a hand around his throat.

Scott blinks and sways on his feet. “Uh, yeah. I think?”

When he tips over, he takes Stiles to the forest floor with him. His forehead bashes against her mouth, splitting her lip open, and she lands on the world's hardest, pointiest rock.

*

Derek is waiting on the porch when Stiles screeches to a halt. She jumps out of the Jeep and hurries to join him. “What is it? What's wrong?”

“Allison needs you.”

Stiles blinks, stares at him, and blinks some more. He's tense and uncomfortable and is he—yeah, he's shifting awkwardly.

“Okay?” Stiles hazards to say, then goes inside, where she finds Allison slumped over on the sofa in the living room, miserable and small. “Hey, are you okay?”

Allison nods. “Yeah, just—Scott, he—and I--”

Stiles' eyes go wide. “Did he wolf out? Did he hurt you?”

“No, just—we had a fight...”

Stiles is about to launch into a comforting and distracting stream of babble when Allison's eyes fill with tears. Stiles panics. “Oh my god, don't cry. Please, just don't cry. I don't—“

The tears fall and Allison starts sobbing. Stiles freezes, her body paralyzed. “Allison, I'm really bad at this, what—do you want a hug? Should I, like, pat your shoulder? Tissues! I can get tissues?” Allison shakes her head, and Stiles edges away. “Are you sure? 'Cause, like, you've got a, uh, snot bubble—oh, Jesus, no, I take it back, I'm sorry!”

Then Allison launches herself at Stiles, in some weird kind of clutching hug, her teary snotty face pressed against Stiles' chest, and Stiles flails off the sofa.

*

Stiles closes the door and presses her back to it, breathing heavily. Derek is giving her the most incredulous look Stiles has ever seen him wear, and that includes the time that little person showed up with green Jello clinging to his face and claimed to be a leprechaun.

What was that?” he asks, his voice a horrified whisper. “You were supposed to make her feel better, not push her to the floor and cut her with a tissue box!”

“I'm useless with crying people.” Stiles claws at her face. “The the last time Scott cried we were eleven, and I made fart noises with my mouth to get him to stop!” Then she pulls herself upright and points a righteous finger in his face. “Also, screw this, you need to deal with your Pack problems yourself, Derek. I am Scott's personal werewolf-slash-supernatural consultant, not yours, and Allison is your beta so you have to deal with snot and tears and that awkward moment when someone is crying all over you and you don't know what to do.”

Her amazing exit is ruined when her foot goes through a floorboard on her way down the steps.

*

Stiles is in the middle of a self-indulgent personal grooming session when Scott calls her, babbles incoherently, then hangs up. Before she can call him back, a text comes through with a location and some useful keywords. Stiles grabs a trash bag, stuffs clothes and other items in it, then gets her keys and runs out of the door.

The entire Pack is bloody, bruised, and dressed in shredded bits of clothes when Stiles arrives at a clearing on the other side of town from pretty much everything.

“Oh, thank god,” Scott proclaims when Stiles hands him the trash bag. He uses the wipes to clean the blood off himself, dresses in the spare clothes she brought, and downs two bottles of water.

Stiles shakes her head at him. “You're such a hot mess, you're lucky I'm so awesome and I love you. Come on, the Jeep is that way.”

Derek glowers at her, and Stiles tries not to notice the fact that he's stark naked except for the tattered remains of someone's shirt that's tied around his waist. It's difficult, because he does naked really, really well, but Stiles at least pretends not to notice because, yeah, she is not that girl. “What about the rest of us?”

Stiles rolls her yes. “What about you?”

“Stiles.”

“You can put that growl away, jerkface. I told you, okay, I am not in your Pack, and I am not your gofer. Call Allison. Or someone else. I don't care, really. Let's go, Scott.”

When Derek grabs her arm and pulls her around, Stiles already has the pepper spray out in her other hand. Derek jumps back, pawing at his eyes and cursing her. Whatever, she is so over this shit.

In the Jeep, Scott sniffs the air and says, “What's that smell? Oh, hey, you've got things on your face.”

That's when Stiles remembers the Nair she slathered on her legs an hour ago and registers the chemical burning sensation on her legs. Also, she's got pore strips stuck to her nose and chin.

Clearly, she killed more than kittens in her previous life. She must have also killed itty bitty puppies. Possibly even teen tiny baby otters and wee baby sloths. No one else deserves a life like this, Stiles thinks as she uses bottled water and the scraps of Scott's t-shirt to get rid of the Nair and, shit, her legs look fucked.

Scott ends up having to take her to the ER. Really. Wee baby sloth killer.

*

It goes on like that for over a month:

Stiles pepper sprays Scott in the boys locker room after lacrosse practice when he almost wolfs out; then she gets four stitches because he clawed her accidentally.

She lugs Scott through the woods, to her Jeep, and to Dr. Deaton to get a freaking branch surgically excised from his leg; the doc also kindly disinfects the entire left side of her face, which she scraped on a tree during the trek through the woods.

She lies to her Dad so she can burrow under the covers of Scott's bed and pretend to be him on the full moon; she dislocates a finger dropping from his roof when Mrs. McCall breaks years of tradition to come wake Scott before noon.

Then things come to a head when Scott is kidnapped by a freaking Siren.

*

“Oh my god, are you okay?” Stiles practically screeches as she fumbles open the door to the cage Scott is locked in.

Scott tumbles out, looking six kinds of awful and smelling like skunk for some freaking reason. “Derek made me bait!”

Stiles whips around so fast she teeters on her feet and Scott has to grab her arm to keep her from falling. Derek takes a scurrying step back. “You did what?” she hisses.

“Stiles--”

“You wouldn't have helped us if he wasn't in trouble,” Jackson complains.

Derek grabs the keychain with Stiles' pepper spray out of her hand, proactively. Which is fine, actually, because she used the last squirt on Scott in the locker room.

Instead, she knees Derek in the balls, then stands there, arms akimbo, exasperated beyond all belief. “What is wrong with you, you're, like, seriously unbalanced! Is getting Scott kidnapped easier than reconsidering my rank in the Pack? I mean, when you're setting things up so that I will come help you, then I think it might to be time to, like, throw in the towel and declare me Not an Omega. I'm just saying.”

Derek is too busy writhing on the ground, cupping his crotch, to answer.

Stiles huffs and fusses over Scott all the way to her Jeep. She's rather proud of the fact that she wasn't damaged at all during this latest cock up. Maybe her karma is balancing out and she's finally making up for being an evil tiny baby otter killer in her former life.

Awesome. Now she won't feel horrific guilt when she looks at the baby sloth tag on Tumblr.

*

Two nights later, Derek tap-tap-taps at her window. Stiles sighs, hugely, and throws open the window resentfully. “What? What, what what? Did you tie Scott to the railroad tracks? Because, honestly, while he makes quite a fetching damsel in distress, I've got to finish my chem assignment unless I want Danny to eviscerate me.” She pauses. “Which, for the record, I don't. I'm against all evisceration efforts aimed at me. Just so you know. Why are you here?”

Derek's mouth is frowning like it's an Olympic sport, and Frick and Frack are twitching up at his brow line. Overall, it's an expression Stiles has never seen on Derek's face. He climbs over the sill and stands there, stiff and awkward. Stiles sort of wants him to stay that way, forever and ever. She even maybe wants to see him even more stiff and awkward, and for two seconds she considers thinking of something really sad—like dead baby sloths—that will make her burst into tears, and then throwing herself at Derek in a sobbing mess of snot. It would totally serve him right. See who he'd call for help, then. Hah.

Instead, she crawls back onto her bed, amidst the detritus of chemistry homework notes, and looks at Derek expectantly. It has pretty much the same response she thought tossing her crying self at him would have, so it's a win all around.

“Um, how long are you going to stand there, silently, being super awkward and constipated looking? Because, yeah, homework.”

“Stiles,” Derek says, halting and kind of like he's choking on the word. Stiles tilts her head at him. The corner of one side of Derek's mouth manages to dip down impossibly lower. “Will you come back to the Pack?”

Well then. It's about damn time. She's only saved Scott and the Pack's ass, like, a dozen times since she left. Still. “Wow, could you sound more resentful and reluctant and full of hate for me?”

Derek cuts the growl off approximately point five seconds after it starts. Good, because she still hasn't found a way to get her dad to buy her another keychain pepper spray without letting him know that she's been using it. A lot.

“I don't hate you,” Derek snaps. “I just...”

“Hate everything I say and do,” Stiles fills in for him.

Derek crosses his arms and shifts on his feet. “No. I don't. I just—you're not what I expected.”

Stiles snorts. “No, yeah, I really am not a good little Omega, right?”

Derek shakes his head and, miraculously, the corners of his mouth quirk upwards. “No, you're really not.” He blinks at her, something like respect in his eyes. “That's a good thing.”

Stiles beams. “It's a fucking amazing thing!” she corrects, getting to her knees and scooting to the edge of the bed. “I'll totally come back, as a Beta.” She pats Derek's cheek, happily, then nudges him to the window. “Now, get out, because I wasn't kidding about the evisceration.”

Derek dips his head and gives her what, if it were anyone else but Derek “I Don't Know How to Smile, and Even if I Did, I Wouldn't” Hale, might be an eye-smile. “There's a Pack meeting tomorrow after school.”

“I'll totes be there, dude.”

Frick and Frack don't even get all uppity about the dude thing, so Stiles thinks they finally all understand each other, her, Derek and his eyebrows.

*

The thing is, Stiles doesn't come back as a Beta. She comes back as something else. She's fine with leaving it undefined—or, no, unspoken. Whatever. It's fine, because even if she doesn't stop getting hurt in her pursuit of rescuing the wolves from their dumbass selves, at least now Derek is there to help her patch herself up, or, after a while, when he's learned how Stiles' life is a trainwreck, prevent her from getting injured in farcical ways to begin with.

Actually, Derek is just...there. Not in a creepy way. In a good way, the kind of way where they're right next to each other through the crap that comes their way, and he doesn't growl and push her around, and he asks her opinion, and they pretty much run the Pack together. It's nice. It's awesome.

*

Two years later, Derek kisses her for the first time in the front of the Camaro, after they drive half a state away to rescue Jackson and Scott from a tar pit, the morons.

“Oh my god,” Stiles exclaims after she gets her breath back. “I've only been wanting to do this forever, how did it take you so fricking long to make a move?”

“You never got a new pepper spray,” Derek says against her neck, “so I was a little slow on the uptake this time.”

Stiles huffs out a laugh and feels Derek's smile on her skin. “You're so ridiculous and you're lucky I love you.”

“Yeah, I am.”

.End