As it turns out, carpentry is not among Stiles’ many skills. The third time he hits his finger rather than the plank of wood he was aiming for, he backs off and leaves that sort of thing to the people with supernatural healing abilities.
Instead, he goes to help Allison and tries not to feel too much like his man card just got revoked.
Project ‘Make the Hale House Look Less Like it’s On The Brink Of Being Condemned And Make It Look Like A Real Wolf Den’ is well underway. In lieu of the name that Stiles came up with, the others have been calling it ‘Project Rebuild.’ Whatever.
It had taken almost a month and a half for Derek’s new Pack to convince him that the fire-ruined chic thing he was rocking now wasn’t working for any of them, and they should probably try and fix it up.
Even then, it had taken Stiles some serious wheedling and more than a few clever tricks to get Derek on board with it. Such tricks included taking a couch that had been seized by the Sheriff’s department and sticking it in the middle of the Hale living room.
It had grown from there. Scott had donated the kitchen table his mom had wanted to get rid of for awhile. Jackson bought a couple of chairs and Lydia had said the whole place was depressing her before she dragged in what looked like half of her living room. Lydia didn’t do things halfway.
Allison had wanted to bring a few things, but the only extra furniture in her house had belonged to her recently deceased Aunt and they had all figured that was a pretty terrible idea.
After awhile, Derek had to capitulate because they kept having to move the couch into the basement so it wouldn’t get rained on.
The Hale house is looking pretty good, in Stiles’ opinion. Well, if you take into account how it looked before they started. If you don’t, well, it still looks like a shambles about one strong gust of wind away from falling on anyone unlucky enough to be trapped inside.
They had spent the past three days knocking down anything that didn’t look like it could be improved by a few nails and a couple coats of paint. They’d knocked down a lot.
“This is fun, isn’t it?” Allison asks as she uses a circular saw with way too much familiarity for Stiles’ comfort. Anyone that at home with a giant circular blade should be watched.
Stiles shrugs. “I guess.”
Allison starts making more cuts with the saw without waiting for him to elaborate, so he looks out to watch the rest of the pack work.
Jackson is helping Derek put up new supports for the walls, while Scott clambers around over them nailing things in place. In Stiles’ opinion, Scott would have been more suited as a were-monkey, with his propensity for climbing.
Lydia, who had scoffed daintily when they’d handed her a hammer, was taking the lumber from Allison’s cutting station to where ever they were working. There was something distinctly unnerving about watching the petite and dainty Lydia lifting lumber twice her size without hesitating. She certainly wasn’t having any issues with the whole werewolf thing.
“Anything I can do to help?” Stiles asks, turning back to Lydia and starting to lean casually on the table.
“Watch your hand!” she yells, and he jerks it back just in time to avoid having her newest piece of wood land on top of it.
“That’s a no then?” he asks sheepishly.
Because Allison is the nicest, she gives him a sorry little smile. “You could keep me company?” she offers, and Stiles barely contains a sigh. It seems that, in carpentry, as in life, Stiles isn’t much use to anyone.
“Yeah, I guess.” He shrugs, shooting another glance to where the other three guys are working, looking manly and tough. They’ve all even taken off their shirts. Stiles looks down at his own ragged t-shirt mournfully. It will be staying on for the foreseeable future. No need to embarrass himself more than necessary.
“Hang on a second,” he says, catching sight of something out of the corner of his eye. He heads over to where Scott is about to do something stupid, with the added bonus of a hammer.
“You know,” Stiles says, trying to lean casually against one of the finished pillars, slipping off the side and trying to play it off like he did it on purpose before continuing on like nothing's happened, “that generally works a lot better when you make sure that the corners are properly straight-edged. You need to start checking that everything is even before you start nailing things in.”
He’s aiming for suave, but he’s pretty sure he misses by several meters.
“Uh-huh,” Jackson says skeptically. “And what would you know about it?”
Stiles scuffs the worn toe of his shoe against the concrete. “I read up on some carpentry stuff. Not that a bunch of teenagers going into house building blind isn’t an awesome idea in it’s own, don’t get me wrong.”
“Oh, and you’re an expert on building houses?” Jackson snaps back.
Stiles bristles, offended. Any idiot in the world could tell you that it was a good idea to build a house straight instead of crooked. Like that should even be a question. It’s not Stiles’ fault that Jackson wasn’t paying any attention.
“He’s right,” Derek says, cutting him off before he can open his mouth, probably for the best. Jackson whips around to stare at Derek, but Derek stares him down. “He’s right,” Derek repeats. Jackson glowers at Stiles, but he fixes the crooked board they’d been about to nail into place.
“Like Stilinski knows anything about being straight,” he hears Jackson mutter as he heads off. And if Stiles heard him, there’s a good chance everyone else did too. He can feel the tips of his ears turning red and the rest of these assholes can probably hear it happening or something.
Instead of saying anything back, he just hunches his shoulders a bit and heads back to Allison. At least she doesn’t have freaky werewolf powers.
“Hey, Dad, how do you insulate the walls of a house?”
Stiles’ dad puts down his silverware slowly. “What are you up to?”
Stiles makes his best innocent face. “Nothing. Can’t a kid be curious about basic house construction?”
His dad gives him a flat look and Stiles deflates. “We’re working to rebuild the Hale house.”
“Why the hell would you be doing that?”
Stiles shrugs. He can’t tell the truth. He can just see how well that would go down: ‘ Well, Dad, Derek is actually an alpha werewolf and I’m sort of part of his pack. Even though I’m human and he kind of needs a cozy wolf den for all the cuddle puddles and pack meetings, and frankly, I’m tired of getting soaked indoors everytime it rains.’ Uh-huh. Yeah, right.
Instead he says, “Well, Scott and I felt pretty bad about the whole getting him arrested for murder thing. So we’re helping him rebuild. And stuff.”
“Is that what you’ve been doing for the past week?”
Stiles shrugs, not wanting to get Derek into any more trouble. His dad sighs and rubs his forehead slowly. “Out of concern for the public, I can’t let you build a house by yourself.”
“Hey!” Stiles protests. “Scott’s helping.”
“I’ve known Scott his whole life. That’s not much of an assurance.”
His dad rolls his eyes. “Oh, great. Two teenage boys and a man who spent the last couple years on the run. I feel so much better.”
“He needs our help, Dad,” Stiles says, uncharacteristically serious.
His dad sighs and points his fork at Stiles. “I know that face. You’re going to be obnoxious and stubborn about this, aren’t you?” His voice is resigned amusement and the look he gives his son is exasperated.
Stiles grins. “So, can you tell me how to install insulation?”
His dad matches Stiles’ grin with one of his own. “I can do a bit better that.”
Which is how Project ‘Make the Hale House Look Less Like it’s On The Brink Of Being Condemned And Make It Look Like A Real Wolf Den’ gets a couple new members. Stiles is as surprised as anyone else when, after a few hours of working, several patrol cars roll into the forest towards the house.
Derek stiffens up, muscles bunching in an instinctive drive to get away or stand and fight. Stiles, this time helping by holding out nails for the others to grab, reaches out to put a calming hand on his arm. “They’re here to help. I think.”
Derek glares down at Stiles’ hand until Stiles jerks it back guiltily. Then he turns to look out at the patrol cars, which are spilling out what Stiles recognises as some of the new recruits and trainees.
“What the hell are they doing here?” Derek growls.
“Well, judging from all the lumber and power tools they have with them, they’re either here with a very strange modern version of torches and pitchforks, or they’re here to help. One of the two.”
They’re all joking and laughing as they start to set up sawhorses and plastic tables. “They’re not welcome,” Derek snarls, dropping his end of the plan and making Jackson struggle to keep his end balanced.
“Woah, woah!” Stiles scrambles to get in front of him, putting on hand on Derek’s chest to slow him down and yanking it back when Derek growls at him. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to tell them to get off of my land.”
“Oh, that’s a great idea. You have all the upcoming members of the law enforcement, strapping young men with more building experience then the rest of us put together, and you want to go piss them off,” Stiles says incredulously. “Yeah, I can see why it was so hard to convince them you were innocent.”
Derek growls at him, but Stiles stands his ground because he knows he’s right about this. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see his dad approaching and he lowers his voice accordingly.
“Look, Derek, you need their help. I’m guessing this is going to be one of their community service projects and, believe me, it’s one of the better options. My dad makes me help out on some of them when he’s mad at me. I should tell you about that one time at-”
“What’s your point, Stilinski?” Derek cuts him off.
“Right, yes. My point is we need their help. At the rate the five of us are going, we’ll end up having a lopsided house with leaks and holes that will fall down when the wind blows, and it still won’t be done for another three years. For once in your life accept help when someone is offering it.”
“I don’t like them in my territory.”
“And I’m sure that’s a big deal for you, but right now you don’t have a choice. If we don’t get this house fixed up soon it won’t be much of a territory at all. Winter is coming and I, for one, don’t want to spend it in your creepy ass basement, cuddling with Jackson for warmth.”
Stiles isn’t sure what Derek would have said to that, but when his father reaches the two of them, Derek manages to dredge up a polite expression for him.
“I hear you boys could use some help with this house,” His dad says jovially. Derek gives Stiles a dirty look, but doesn’t protest. Stiles raises his hands defensively and backs away pointedly. He trips over a piece of lumber and only barely manages to right himself. Derek and his father both roll their eyes simultaneously which Stiles finds somewhat unnerving.
Derek manages to look polite and sincere when he says, “Yes, some help would be appreciated. Thanks, Sheriff.”
“Not at all. Some of my boys were getting a little restless. They’re happy to help.”
Some of the more enthusiastic rookies are already starting on the walls, and even Stiles’ inexperienced eyes he can tell that they are doing a better job then Derek’s pack has been doing.
“Thanks, Dad!” Stiles says, grabbing Derek’s arm enough to drag him away because it’s going really well so far and it could only go downhill from here.
“Stop grabbing me,” Derek growls, yanking his arm out of Stiles’ grip.
“Rude,” Stiles grumbles. “Just, play nice, alright? These are mostly just kids from the academy trying to get their required community service in. They’re only trying to help.”
Derek looks like he’s about to say something in reply, probably something rude and uncalled for, but he’s interrupted by one of the few official deputies present.
“Hey, Stiles!” calls Henry Thompson. “Come here for a second!”
Stiles gives Derek a what-can-you-do shrug and runs over to where Henry is waving
Henry has worked at the police station for as long as Stiles can remember, and had taken care of him more than once. Though, to be fair, most of the people at the Sheriff's department have looked after Stiles at some point. It’s practically an initiation ritual.
“‘Sup, man?” Stiles asks casually.
Henry laughs and scrubs a hand over Stiles’ head like he’s trying to ruffle his too short hair. “Nothing much kiddo. I hear this is your doing?”
“Well, I can’t take all the credit. But yes. Yes it is.” He’s probably going to get crap for that later, because there’s no way that Derek can’t hear him, but whatever.
“You’re a terror without construction tools,” Henry jokes and Stiles sticks his tongue out at him.
“Uncalled for,” he grumbles jokingly.
“You want to talk about that time you fell off the wall when you came to the training camp for a week?”
“I was ten!” The problem with living in a small town is that everyone knows the embarrassing stuff about you. Especially the people in the Sheriff’s department.
“You were a menace, kiddo.”
It’s not entirely untrue and certainly not something that Stiles is ashamed of, so he he just shrugs.
“I am who I am.”
“That you are. Well, anyway, we brought a grill. How about you make your skinny self useful and fix us up some of your famous burgers.”
Stiles looks out at the bustling yard of rookies and werewolves. “For this crowd? I hope you brought a lot of meat.”
“Go look for yourself.” Henry pushes him over to where Stiles can see one of the rookies setting up the stations portable grill.
“Move out of the way, plebeian,” Stiles commands when he gets within hearing range. The guy is setting it up all wrong. Stiles was practically raised making things on this old thing.
“All yours man,” the rookie says, backing away gratefully and heading to help with the left wall of the house. Stiles shakes his head, because seriously, who’d rather do construction than cooking?
“I see you’re making yourself useful.” Lydia joins him at the grill just after he starts putting the meat on it.
“I see you aren’t,” he retorts, keeping one eye on the meat as he turns to face her.
Lydia flips her hair. “What can I do? With all these big, strong men here, what can little me possible do?” She pouts at him exaggeratedly. It’s distracting, but not as much as it once was.
“You could help Allison on the saw.”
“Please. Are these the hands of a girl who knows how to use a saw?” She presents her delicate hands out for inspection, nails perfectly manicured and well kept, despite the past several days of construction.
“No?” he hazards.
“Good boy.” She smiles, patting him on the cheek.
“Ha ha,” he replies, flipping the burgers on the grill carefully.
“I think I’ll stick around you,” she says flippantly.
“Don’t you know? The most popular girl at the party is the one with the food.”
Stiles looks out at the house, teeming over with overly enthusiastic rookies and sawdust. “This isn’t exactly your kind of party.”
“Yes, but it’s the kind I’m at. A girl has to make adjustments.” She catches the eyes of one of the guys working on the far wall and flips her hair with a flirty little grin. He smiles back and misses the nail he was trying to hammer in. Stiles snorts and Lydia sighs.
“Men can be so dull sometimes.”
“Maybe if you didn’t treat all of them like playthings, they’d be more interesting.”
“Hm, yes. It worked with you, didn’t it?”
Stiles puts his hand on the grill in surprise and jerks it back with a wince. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Lydia gives him an adorably innocent look that he is not going to fall for. He’s not, dammit! “Nothing,” Lydia says, like she’s surprised that he took offense. Yeah, Stiles is so not buying that. This time.
“I’m not your plaything!” he says, loud enough that Jackson, Scott and Derek all turn to look at him. He flushes and lowers his voice. Not that it will help, because they and their super werewolf powers are all out to make his life suck even more than it does. “I’m nobody’s plaything!” he repeats.
“No,” Lydia muses, slow and thoughtful, rolling the word out like a secret. “And that’s what makes you so interesting.” She gives him a quick peck on the cheek and flounces off.
As soon as the men of the Sheriff’s department learn that Stiles is manning the grill, Stiles hardly has room to move. Even the newbies have been to at least one of the Sheriff department cookout and Stiles has manned the grill at all of them.
He hides away a full twenty burgers for Derek’s pack, because by now he knows how much four hungry werewolves can eat. Even with that much set aside, when he sees the way Jackson and Scott tear into the burgers, he’s still worried there won’t be enough.
“Itshgoos,” Jackson says through a full mouth, sounding almost insultingly surprised.
Lydia, managing to take dainty bite even from a hamburger, nods agreeably.
“Stiles makes the best food,” Scott says, as proud as if he’d made the food himself.
Stiles shrugs. Of all the ways he’d imagined impressing the others with his skills and prowess, he hadn’t thought his cooking would be a part of it. He’d hoped that it would be more along the lines of dramatically saving the day and rescuing everyone.
“It is good,” Derek cuts in, as though that makes it the end of the conversation.
“So, where are you going to sleep now that your house is a construction zone?” Stiles asks, because he likes being praised as much as the next guy, but praise from Derek is just weird.
Derek gives him a look like he’s completely insane. “In my basement.”
“Oh, right,” Stiles mutters. “Of course. Why wouldn’t you stay in the creepy dungeon room?”
Derek gives him a dirty look but doesn’t answer. Stiles likes to think that his stunning personality is winning him over.
It could happen.
“Hey, if we need somewhere to hang out while your house is being finished, there’s plenty of room at my house.”
Stiles actually puts down his burger because it sounds a lot like Jackson Whittemore is being a decent human being and that’s just weird.
“Hang out?” Derek repeats, sounding like the words themselves are offending him.
Jackson shrugs defensively. “It’s a big house.”
“Sounds like a plan to me!” Stiles jumps in, because he’s heard of Jackson’s house, but he’s never managed to score an invite before. Apparently all it took was joining a werewolf pack. Go figure.
Jackson gives him a dirty look, but doesn’t retract the offer, so Stiles counts that as a win.
In the end, it takes three weeks to get the house into something that vaguely resembles hospitable. That is, there are four walls and a roof, but the inside is depressingly barren and Stiles suspects that it will take another week of solid negotiations to get Derek to agree to a plumber.
On the bright side, they get to spend their time doing things less likely to end in permanent injury, like painting.
“Are you sure that this is the best color to use here?” Stiles calls to Derek, who’s working on the kitchen.
“Shut up, Stiles!” Derek calls back.
Allison giggles politely behind her hand. “Traitor,” Stiles mutters to her, which only makes her laugh harder.
She, Stiles and Scott are working on painting the living room a peaceful cream color. Stiles figures they need all the peace they can get, but it’s still kind of a weird color for the house of werewolves to have.
Derek is picking out all the colors, and he’ll never say it, but Stiles suspects that he’s trying to recreate the way it was before the fire.
Stiles isn’t sure how healthy that is, but there are still boxes of his mom’s things in the attic, so he has no room to talk.
“You’re missing a spot, McCall,” Jackson says, leaning against the doorway in what Stiles calls his ‘jerk pose.’ It’s a pretty apt description.
“Am not,” Scott argues valiantly. Well, he tries.
“Your section of the wall looks like it was painted by a third grader.”
Scott actually growls at him and seriously, are they really about to start fighting over this? How is Stiles in a place where he needs to be the mature one?
He glances towards the kitchen to see if Derek looks like he’s going to break this up. No such luck.
“Calm down guys,” Stiles says, and holy crap he feels like his dad. This is terrible. They both ignore him, which isn’t a huge surprise, but it’s still kind of annoying. “Seriously. You’re going to get paint on the floors.”
It’s kind of a stupid argument--the floors are beyond saving at this point and are almost definitely going to need to be redone anyway, but somehow that’s what makes them stop. Jackson makes a little lunge at Scott, snapping his teeth, but he heads into the kitchen without more protest.
Stiles needs to examine his life choices. Clearly he’s made some mistakes along the way.
It would be really great if things could stay the simple way they have been lately. Sometimes it feels like he’s just in a group of friends that happens to like their meat a little red and have bad tempers. He’s actually enjoying the house building experience. It’s a nice change of the usual mind-numbing tedium of summer vacation.
He’s just starting to get comfortable with the routine they have going when he gets a text from Scott that says sos may be vampies.
Stiles actually snorts with laughter at the joke before he remembers what his life is like now, and then he scrambles from his bed so fast that he takes half of the blankets with him.
if ur fucking with me, i will end you he texts back, but he’s already going to his computer to pull up his research files.
He really wishes that he didn’t already have a file, neatly labeled ‘Vampires’ with subfolders like ‘the making of,’ ‘the killing of,’ ‘harmful/harmless’ and ‘potential allies?’.
He kind of hates Scott for making him have to open up any of these. When he gets a text back that says no jk, they taste terrible.
Wonderful. Thanks for that crucial information. Still, he opens up the folder that says ‘the killing of’ then goes down to see what he can use from his kitchen. Neither he nor his dad are religious, but there’s a cross on the wall of the kitchen for when Grampa Stilinski comes over and wants to know why his son isn’t going to church every Sunday.
Stiles grabs that, an entire crate of water (not holy, as far as he knows) and heads over to the Hale house.
Everyone except Allison is already there, but from their grumpy expressions and Lydia’s uncharacteristically rumpled clothes, they’re still there from their wolfy sleep-over the night before. It wasn’t the full moon, but sometimes Derek will keep all the werewolf members of his pack late into the night for what Stiles can only presume are top secret werewolf tips. Like how to be extra creepy and how to lurk around in the shadows. He understands. Scott needs all the help he can get.
“So, vampies?” he says cheerfully, dropping his haul down onto the kitchen and determinedly not flinching when they all turn to glare at him. Yeah, he’s gonna be calling them vampies for awhile now. It sounds a lot less scary.
“You called in the loony brigade?” Jackson demands of Scott.
“Hey!” Well, it’s one of the nicer things that Jackson has called him. He decides to be the better man and takes a seat at the table. “Is it really vampires?”
“Yes. And it’s also a big problem.” Derek is sitting at the head of the table, looking commanding and important.
“So, what are we doing about it?’
“We aren’t doing anything. You are going to go home while we deal with this trespass on our territory.”
Stiles shakes his head. “Uh-uh, buddy. I’m in this now. You guys don’t get to spend three months treating me like a glorified chauffeur and punching bag then cut me out when I can actually be some help.”
“Not this time, Stiles.”
Stiles turns to Scott, feeling betrayed and hurt. “You too, Scott? Come on, man! I’ve been through more of this shit than some other people at this table.” Then, in case they aren’t getting his point. “Yeah, I’m talking about you, Jackson.”
Jackson growls at him, but Derek puts out a hand and Jackson goes quiet.
“You’ll just be in the way,” Derek says quietly.
Stiles crosses his arms over his chest. He has it on good authority that he can out-stubborn most people.
“I’ll be even more in the way if I just sit here while you’re trying to work. You tell me what happened last night and what the risks are.”
When none of them answer, he sighs. “This is my town too, guys. My dad’s going to be in the first line of fire if something goes wrong. I deserve to know what’s going on, at least. If I’m actually going to be a part of this pack, you owe me that much.”
For a moment, he’s afraid they’re going to call his bluff and he’ll have to leave the pack. Then Derek leans forward. “We ran into them when we were running last night.”
Stiles immediately substitutes ‘running’ with ‘gallivanting around the woods as werewolves.’
“We smelled them before we saw them,” Lydia chimes in. She wrinkles her nose delicately. “They smell terrible.” Stiles adds a reluctant point for Twilight in his head. He’s been keeping a tally of which supernatural fiction is the most accurate. So far, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was winning.
“Did you attack them, or did they attack you?” Stiles asks.
Scott and Jackson exchange looks. “It was all too fast to-”
“It was kind of hard to tell-”
They speak at the same moment, then cut off to glare at each other. Stiles rolls his eyes.
“So, Scott and Jackson attacked them, and then what?”
“And then they ran off,” Lydia finishes.
“So, basically,” Stiles says, “you guys attacked a group of vampires for no reason and you’re worried they’re going to get revenge.”
“They were in our territory,” Derek says, speaking up for the time.
“Did they know it was your territory?”
Derek sits forward like Stiles is trying to challenge his territory as well. “Beacon Hills has always belonged to the Hale’s. It is under our protection.”
Well, that’s. . . comforting. Maybe. “Yeah, but as far as they know, all the Hale’s could be dead.”
Derek actually growls at him for that and Stiles leans away, raising his hands in a harmless gesture. “Sorry man, but it’s true.”
“We need to defend our territory,” Jackson says fiercely. “We need to go find them and make sure they know not to come back.”
“That is a terrible idea,” Stiles says before he can help himself. Well, if they had better ideas, he wouldn’t comment on them. Probably. Maybe.
“We do need to defend this land,” Derek says forcefully.
“Yeah, but there are only four of you. My research shows that vampire covens are usually as big as twenty or thirty, and they rarely travel in groups less than five. You would be outmatched in a fight.”
“And what was your research?” Jackson sneers. “The complete encyclopedia of Stephanie Meyers?”
“Hey!” Scott says defensively. “Stiles is great at researching.”
“Derek, you said that most werewolves have some sort of thing about not killing innocent people?” When Derek nods, Stiles continues. “Do vampires have something similar? Something to keep the hunters off their back.”
Derek frowns in thought. “We never interacted with vampires much. They kept to their territories and we kept to ours.”
“Helpful. Thanks for that, big guy.” Derek gives him a dirty look. “Look, if I could just go with you to-”
“NO!” The others all say it together and Stiles raises his hands defensively. He seems to be doing that a lot lately. He should probably get better friends.
“I could help!” he protests. “I have a lot of information on them. I even have some things on their treaties and some things that look pretty legit about other neutrality agreements between werewolves and vampires.”
Jackson coughs something that sounds an awful lot like Twilight, but Stiles ignores him.
“You’re staying behind, Stiles,” Derek growls, tone leaving no room for argument. “Maybe with something else you could help, but not vampires.”
“Vampies,” Stiles corrects grumpily. Derek ignores him.
“Werewolves and vampires are immune to one another, but bringing humans into it would just create trouble. Even if they are the sort who don’t kill people, bringing someone like you would just look like a taunt. So no, you’re staying behind.”
Stiles crosses his arms over his chest and drops down into his chair to sulk. “This sucks,” he mutters, but mostly because Derek has a good point.
Stiles ends up having to fork over all of his meticulous research. He’s not happy about it, but he won’t let his pack go into a situation blind, even if they won’t let him come along.
“Good job, Stiles,” Derek says when Stiles finishes his little presentation on how to mortally offend vampires and, in case Jackson acts like Jackson, how to fight their way out of a bad situation.
“Yeah, great,” Stiles mutters. “Research boy to the rescue.”
Derek just grunts. A-plus communication skills from Alpha Hale.
“What am I supposed to do while you’re gone?” he asks.
“You could leave,” Derek says pointedly, but Stiles shakes his head.
“Not until I know you’re all safe.”
“You could cook for us,” Scott suggests.
“Ha fucking ha, Scott. I’m not your little woman.”
“We’re leaving,” Derek cuts in,
“Good luck,” Stiles replies. “Call if you need anything.”
“Not going to happen,” Derek snaps. Damn. Worth a try.
“Put on something nice for when we get back,” Jackson calls over his shoulder, because he’s an asshole.
“Fuck you!” Stiles calls after him cheerfully.
It takes the pack almost five hours to get back. In that time, Stiles has plenty of time to feel exactly like someone’s wife. He didn’t bring anything to do, so ends up having to straighten things out just out of default.
He calls Allison after about half an hour of sitting around, partly because he is bored, but also because she deserves to know what is going on, and it’s unlikely that Scott will have told her about it.
Together, they straighten up the living room and get rid of some of the excess lumber that has been cluttering things up. They even manage to get a good dent in some of the painting left to do.
It feels calming and domestic, a contrast to the too-fast beating of his heart and how jittery his hands are getting. He and Allison discuss school and homework, and neither of them wonder aloud what the pack might be doing.
In the end, Stiles does end up cooking, but its something simple so it doesn’t count. Derek’s house isn’t exactly a safe haven for all things perishable, so there isn’t much to work anyway. He ends up just making about fifteen BLTs, figuring that the others are going to be hungry when they get back. He spends the entire time desperately hoping that they won’t come through the door while he’s working in the kitchen.
When they finally do come through the door, Allison and Stiles have regressed to playing cards, trading secrets in lieu of proper materials.
The others look tired and a bit bedraggled, but no worse for wear. Scott goes immediately to Allison’s side and sweeps her into a hug. Stiles just stands, hands clenched at his side and looks to Derek, trying to think of something to say.
What comes out is: “So, did you all make good choices?”
Derek just rolls his eyes. “We’re all fine. They agreed to back off. If this hadn’t been in the records as Hale territory, there may have been more of a fight.”
“So, they were the vegetarian sort?” Stiles quips.
“There aren’t any vegetarian vampires. It’s just a matter of how willing their prey is.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Stiles crosses over to Derek’s side to give him a once over, then turns his attentions to the others. “You’re all fine though, right?”
Derek rolls his eyes. “We’re all fine, Stiles.”
“Do I smell bacon?” Jackson interrupts, heading into the kitchen.
“Allison made some,” Stiles lies.
“The sandwich smell like you, you know,” Derek points out.
“And we can tell when you’re lying,” Lydia chimes in.
Stiles throws his hands up. “I get it! You all have super special werewolf powers. Hooray for you!”
“The sandwiches are good!” Scott calls from the kitchen.
“Make some more!” Jackson demands.
“I hate all of you.”
“No you don’t,” Lydia says sweetly, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek.
Stiles goes to make the ungrateful bastards some more sandwiches.
“Hey there, cutie.”
Stiles turns around slowly, because it sounds an awful lot like that low, purring voice is directed at him. “Wha?” The word kind of trails into mist when he sees the woman who’s, yep, looking right at him. She’s tall and blonde, with a dark red, figure hugging shirt and a skirt that just barely reaches her knees. She looks like she’s about 35 and Stiles can’t for the life of him figure out why she would be talking to him.
“I’m talking to you,” she says, pointing one red tipped finger at him. And yeah, meeting gorgeous women in the local coffee shop was not on his to-do list, but hey, Stiles can roll with the punches.
“And what can I do for you?” he asks suavely. Hopefully suavely. He’s in the general area of suave.
“Can’t a girl just talk to a boy?” she asks, pouting.
“Uh, yeah. A girl can um, totally do that.”
She laughs, a pretty tinkling sound. “I’m Sharon.” She holds out a hand to shake.
“I’m Stilin. Stiles! I’m Stiles,” he replies, taking her hand and shaking it.
“I know.” Wait, what?
“You’re one of Hale’s little puppies. Except,” she takes a deep breath, like someone breathing in a flower garden, “delightfully human.”
Oh great. This is so his life. “You’re a vampire.”
She grins at him, and her teeth don’t look sharp at all. But then, neither did Scott’s. Until he needed them. “Got it in one, sweetie.”
Stiles shoots a look at the door, wondering if he can get past her. Probably not. Awesome. “I should probably, um, go?” It comes out like a question, which wasn’t at all what he was going for.
Sharon pouts at him. “Oh, where’s the fun in that? I thought we could sit, talk.” She gestures at the low chairs by the window.
“That’s probably a bad idea. I have a thing. An important thing. I should go.”
She laughs again. “Oh, Stiles. Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a terrible liar?”
Stiles swallows. “It’s been said. Once ot twice.”
“So I know that you have plenty of time to sit and talk with little old me. Isn’t that right?”
Derek is going to kill him for this. “Yeah. Sure. Whatever.”
Sharon sits down in the armchair and looks between him and the other chair pointedly until he sits. “There,” she says, satisfied. “Isn’t this nice? Just the two of us, having a polite little chat.”
“I’m pretty good on chats with supernatural beings who could eat me.”
“Oh, I’m not going to eat you!” She winks at him. “Unless you’re really good.”
Stiles swallows. “Look, this whole,” he makes a spastic gesture with both hands that indicates her whole body, “sexy, creepy vampire thing. You’re working it. Great job, you. But can we just talk about what it is you cornered me for?”
“Oh, you are adorable. I can see why Hale keeps you around.” Well, that makes one of them, at least.
“What do you want? Didn’t you make some kind of treaty with them yesterday?”
“Oh, fine. Ruin all my fun.” She pouts exaggeratedly, which is a little distracting. “Yes, we made a pact with Hale and his little puppy pile. Or, we agreed to stick to the old pact, whichever you prefer.” She rolls her eyes like she’s trying to invite Stiles to share a joke. He just stares at her blankly.
“So, why are you still here?”
“The pact just said we couldn’t kill people, or live here.” She gives the coffee shop a disdainful look over. “Not that we’d want to. No offense, but it doesn’t have the night life we usually look for in our cities.”
“And what about eating people?”
She leans forward, the angle giving him a straight look down her shirt, if he chooses to look. He manfully restrains. “Not unless they ask very, very nicely,” she purrs, right up next to his ear.
“That’s cool,” Stiles manages, edging away from her. He can feel her breath on his neck. It’s probably bad when you can feel a vampire’s breath on your neck.
“Has anyone ever told you that you smell really good? Under all that wet dog smell, I mean.”
“Um, it’s Old Spice?” Stiles tries. “The man your man could smell like. If he weren’t, you know, the undead.”
Sharon laughs. “I could just eat you up!” She gets this expression like his Aunt Mindy does when she wants to pinch his cheeks.
“Please don’t!” Stiles says hastily, moving to leave his chair completely.
“Relax, sweetie. I’m not going to touch your unconsenting little neck. I have enough problems without Derek Hale after me,” she says, leaning back in her chair. Stiles is kind of gratified by the fact that she thinks Derek would go after her for hurting him.
Well, if she’s not going to eat him, there’s no reason not to add to his research. “So do you, what, eat animals instead or something?”
She gives another tinkling little laugh. “Oh, honey. This isn’t Twilight. I’m afraid I’m on a strictly human diet. Cows are so bad for my figure.”
“Why are cows bad for you?”
Sharon gives him a cool look. “Could you put cow blood into your bloodstream? I don’t think so! It’s just doesn’t add up. Human body, human blood. It keeps our poor, undead bodies running properly. We don’t drink for the yummy taste.” She thinks it over. “Well, mostly not.”
“So where do you get your food from?”
“You’re a curious little thing, aren’t you? We get it from people who are willing to help us. You’d be surprised how many there are. Some are friends, people who know about us and want us not to starve. But most are the vampire junkies.” She spread her arms out wide. “It’s the 21st century, age of the supernatural. Vampires are the new hit thing, and everyone wants to be a part of it!”
“Yeah, OK.” Stiles says slowly. “And why did you kidnap me again?”
“I wanted to warn you.”
“Yeah, OK, I’m leaving,” Stiles says, standing. He’s reached his supernatural cliche quota for the day.
“No, wait!” Sharon sounds urgent for the first time in their discussion, and as it turns out, Stiles is still a sucker for a girl in trouble. Even an undead one.
“You couldn’t have told them at the meeting? You literally just met with my pack this morning.”
She wrinkles her nose. “Derek Hale doesn’t seem like the listening type.”
Stiles snorts. That’s an understatement.
“Besides,” Sharon continues, “one of your little friends bit our leader. He wasn’t in much of a sharing mood after that.”
Stiles winces. “We’re working on that biting thing. Rolled up papers, taking away his chew toy, the whole she-bang. It’s a process.”
Sharon laughs. “It doesn’t matter much to me, it’ll heal and it’s not like the bite affects us.”
“So, if your immortal sugar daddy put a no-no on the warnings, why’d you corner me?”
“I was curious about your little pack thingy. I could smell humans on the others, and I wanted to know more. Why would werewolves keep a human around? It’s not like they can feed off you, like we do with our humans.”
“They’re my friends.”
Sharon stares at him. “I can see that. And I can smell them on you, so you clearly spend a lot of time with them. But most of the werewolves I’ve met have been total tools. And they didn’t have any pets.”
“I’m not a pet!”
She pats his cheek. “Calm down, sweetie. It’s not a bad thing.”
“I’m not a pet. I help out.”
“I’m sure you do.”
“Can you just give the warning now or something? Not that this isn’t super fun for me.”
She grins at him. “Patience, dear.”
“I have a curfew, you know.”
“That’s adorable. Curfew. Oh, I love it. A member of a werewolf pack with a curfew. You’re just too cute, Stiles. I’m so glad I decided to talk to you.”
“Yeah, it’s been a blast. What’s the supernatural 4-1-1?”
Sharon sighs. “The hunters are on the move.”
“Yeah, big news. We’ve got our own group right here in town. They’re practically in-laws.”
She grabs his arm. “You don’t get it. There’s a new group out there. They don’t follow the Code. They kill what they want, when they want. Because they like it. Kate Argent was one of theirs.”
Stiles sucks in a sharp breath.
“So you know the name then? Good. Because the word on the street is that they’re headed this way.”
Stiles pulls his arm free. “So why are you here? If there are ruthless killers looking for the supernatural, what’s a group of vamps doing wandering around the woods in between a werewolf pack and a hunter’s house?”
Sharon gives him a dark look. “You’re annoyingly perceptive. We’re here to warn a coven about two days from here. We want to get them out.”
“Cell phone coverage not available to the undead?”
“There aren’t many of them. They need our help to get somewhere safe.”
“Sounds like tons of fun. Can I go now? Are we done?”
Sharon sighs. “We’re done. Although, Stiles,” she adds when he starts to stand. “Another reason I wanted to warn you; your little puppy pile is very young. And it shows. You’re lucky it was us that your pack ran across, and that we were headed somewhere. They aren’t very well behaved either.”
“I don’t know what you want me to do about that.”
Sharon stands. “You know how I knew you were part of Hale’s little pack? You smell like him. And, more to the point, he smelled like you. Think about that.”
She strides out of the coffee shop before he can reply. “I have no idea what that means!” he calls after her. Great.
And, now he has to get another cup of coffee for his dad, because this one is cold.
Derek is on his feet before Stiles can even get through the front door of the Hale house.
Stiles raises his hands defensively, because on top of everything else, he really doesn’t want to be pushed into a wall right now. “She just wanted to talk!”
“She?” Derek growls, low and fierce.
“Yes, she. Nothing happened.” Stiles pushes past Derek, trying to head into the living room.
“You went and spoke to the vampires.” Derek’s voice is lower than usual and Stiles turns to look at him in bemusement. Derek is starting to wolf out, fingers curling into claws and fangs lengthening dangerously.
“Oh my god!” Stiles yells, jumping back. “What the hell, Derek! It was just a talk!”
“You deliberately disobeyed me!”
“She cornered me! I couldn’t leave!”
Derek just snarls wordlessly. Stiles eyes the door to the living room hopefully, but apparently it’s just him and Derek. Great.
“Look,” he says, trying to keep his voice slow and calm. Angry werewolves were kind of like angry dogs, right? “I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you, or whatever. I’ll work on that in the future. But it would be really good if you could put the angry teeth away. You’re freaking me out a little.”
The growling has stopped, which Stiles takes as a good sign. “If you want, we can go into the other room and talk. I can explain. We can watch a movie, if you want. We can relax. It’ll be fun.”
Sometime during his speech, Derek manages to get control of himself. “I’m not a child.”
“Then don’t throw a tantrum at me,” Stiles retorts. “Are we going to sit down or what?”
He pushes back Derek to go into the living room, dropping down into the couch with a sigh. For a couch seized by the sheriff’s department, it’s surprisingly comfy. Or maybe not so surprising. Some criminals have pretty high standards. Maybe they needed somewhere comfy to shoot up their illegal cocaine or something.
To his surprise, Derek drops down right next to him, sides touching. Stiles gives him a weird look. “Dude, personal space!”
Derek ignores him, grabbing Stiles’ arm by the wrist and pulling it close. Then, to Stiles’ utter bemusement, he starts sniffing his arm.
“What is up with you?” Stiles demands, trying to pull his arm free and failing. Derek growls at it and yanks harder, so that Stiles falls partly across him. “Dude!”
“She touched you,” Derek growls.
“Um, yeah? And? I’m fine.”
Derek traces some invisible marker up Stiles’ arm to sniff just under his ear. Stiles can feel his face flushing, his whole body temperature rising and he desperately hopes that Derek won’t notice.
“You smell like vampires.”
“Um. I’m sorry?”
“It’s disgusting.” Derek keeps his one hand wrapped around Stiles’ waist and uses the other to pull Stiles fully into his lap.
“What are you doing?” Stiles cries. It’s a manly cry. Not a shriek. At all.
“No member of my pack is going to go around smelling like those bloodsuckers.”
“Oh, yes, of course, that makes perfect sense,” Stiles says with mock calm. “Are you out of your mind?!”
He tries to get up, but Derek just pulls him back down.
“I am so uncomfortable with this,” Stiles informs him.
“You said you have something to tell me?” Derek asks, like he isn’t totally cuddling Stiles in his lap.
“Are you serious?” Stiles says incredulously. Derek just stares him down. “Alright. Fine, whatever. She told me to warn you to watch out for rogue hunters.”
“Is that it?”
“Pretty much. These hunters don’t follow the Code.” He hesitates. “Like Kate. She was part of this group.” Derek growls, but Stiles can’t seem to help himself. “Sharon thinks that they might be trying to get revenge for her death.”
“Sharon?” Derek repeats. “The vampire?”
“Is that seriously all you’re thinking about right now? There are people trying to kill you!”
“There are always people trying to kill me,” Derek replies. He takes another deep breath.
“Are you smelling me?” Stiles demands. “You have problems!”
“She didn’t need to touch you to warn you,” Derek growls. “She was trying to mark you.”
“She was being friendly!” Stiles says furiously.
“She was making a statement.”
“That’s it,” Stiles decides. “You’ve snapped. I’m going home. Call me when you’re sane again.”
He breaks free through sheer force of will.
“You’ll come back tomorrow.” It’s not a question.
Stiles straightens his clothes pointedly. “Yeah, sure. Whatever.”
Hopefully by then, Derek will be normal. Normalish. On second thought, maybe he should just get new friends.
Stiles really should have known better. As soon as he walks into the living room, all conversation stops. Everyone turns to look at him, Allison a beat behind everyone else.
“You smell terrible,” Lydia remarks cooly.
“Gee. Thanks,” Stiles replies, dropping his bag onto the floor.
Derek is sitting in the middle of the couch, Lydia and Jackson on either side of him, close enough that their sides press together. Scott is sitting next to Lydia, Allison perched on his lap. They’ve always sat this way, Stiles just put it down to the fact that they only have the one couch. But in light of Derek’s weirdness last night, Stiles thinks differently. Do other friends sit this close to one another?
Stiles moves to go past them, to his usual spot on the arm next to Scott, but Jackson grabs his arm when he passes. Then, to Stiles’ complete incredulity, he brings it up to his nose just like Derek had and takes a deep whiff.
Stiles yanks his arm back. “Yes, the vampire girl touched me. Eau de Vampire doesn’t work for you. I get it.”
Jackson just grabs his wrist again and yanks him down so that Stiles falls, sprawled half across Derek and Jackson. They both shift so that he can fit between them, but only barely.
“I can’t even believe this is my life anymore,” he remarks to no one. Allison laughs. Well, great. She isn’t the one getting felt up by werewolves. Well, he amends, looking at Scott’s hand on her leg, not by two werewolves.
‘What’s your deal?” Stiles asks, having to turn half his body to see Jackson because the other boy is so close. “You don’t even like me.”
“I don’t know,” Jackson growls, sounding grumpy. “You just smell wrong. I need to fix it.” And then he puts his head on Stiles shoulder, what the hell.
“Shut up, Stilinski,” Jackson growls.
“I think it’s cute,” Allison chirps in. Stiles glares at her.
“I have news. Not that anyone cares,” Stiles says. “Clearly it’s much more important that I smell OK to everyone.”
Scott shrugs. “Sorry, man. It’s a pack thing.”
“You aren’t touching me.”
“You already kind of smell like me.”
Stiles takes a deep whiff of his shirt. It smells normal to him
“Not like that, you idiot,” Jackson says, smacking the back of his head.
“It’s because you’ve spent so much time together,” Derek says. “Pack scent stays. We’re too new for it to have sunk in yet.”
“What about you?” Stiles asks Lydia.
“I can wait,” she says ominously.
“Great,” Stiles says enthusiastically.
“I already told them about the hunters.” Derek interrupts. “And if Stiles is right-”
“If Stiles is right, then we need to train more. I should have been training you from the beginning. That’s my fault.”
Scott groans loudly. “More training? Are you kidding me?”
Derek gives him a flat look. “You need it.”
“I’m already failing two classes!” Scott exclaims.
Stiles leans around Derek to stare at him incredulously. It wouldn’t have the same effect if Scott couldn’t see him. “Dude, your life is literally on the line here. I will help you with your stupid classes but you need to do the goddamn training.”
Allison runs her hand through Scott’s hair. “He’s right. And I’ll help you too.”
“When do we have to start?” Scott whines. Sometimes, Stiles can’t believe the friends he has.
Derek grins ferally. “How about now?”
The training does end up being a daily event. Stiles even ends up enjoying it more then he thought that he would. He and Allison sit on the front of his jeep and eat popcorn, jeering and yelling comments. He’s never felt so close to her before.
She cements her place as his official favorite when Scott gets flipped by Derek after a particularly embarrassing attempt at defense. Instead of rushing to his side, when even Stiles can tell that Derek when easy on him, Allison yells
“Stop whining and get up like a man! And stop favoring your right side!”
Yeah, Allison is pretty cool.
About a week in, Allison starts bringing her bow and practicing archery while she waits. Stiles watches her for a bit until she offers to let him try.
“Oh, that is a really bad idea,” Stiles says. “Seriously, you do not want to give me one of those things. Danger! Danger!”
“Oh, come on, Stiles!” She laughs, grabbing his wrist and dragging him off of the jeep. “How bad could you be?”
As it turns out, the answer is: very bad. After the first few shots, Stiles becomes aware that the others have stopped sparring to watch. Jackson is actually doubled over laughing and it looks like only sheer loyalty is keeping Scott from the same fate.
“Oh, screw you guys!” Stiles yells “Like you could do it!”
“Is there anything you’re good at, Stilinski?” Jackson laughs.
Stiles stiffens. “I can out-think your pretty ass,” he snaps.
“He’s got a point there, Jackson,” Lydia says charmingly. Jackson glares at her and she snaps her teeth at him playfully. Jackson gives an equally playful snarl and leaps for her. She goes down in a flurry of leaves and hair.
Stiles leans back against a tree and watches them tussle. Allison leans next to him, smiling down at the others.
“Come on, Stiles,” she says, nudging him with her shoulder, much like Scott would. “I know there must be something you’re good at.”
Stiles shrugs. “Not really. Lacrosse is as close as it gets, and I’m not even very good at that.”
Scott drops in to lean against the tree on Stiles’ other side. “Didn’t your dad teach you to shoot a couple years ago?”
Stiles shrugs. It had been not too long after his mom died, when both of them were still wracked with grief and his dad’s best way of dealing with it was giving Stiles one more tool that would stop him leaving too.
“Yeah, but it’s not like I’ll be able to get a gun.”
Allison grins at him. “Oh, I can get you a gun.”
When Allison says she can do something, she doesn’t do it halfway. The next day at training, she drops a bag down onto the forest floor and three guns fall out.
“Take your pick,” she says, dumping the rest of guns out. Stiles winces at the callous treatment, because proper gun care was one of the first things that his dad had taught him and was apparently something that Chris Argent had skipped completely.
Stiles just stares at the pile of guns before him. “Have I mentioned how much your family scares me?” he asks casually, shifting through the pile for something familiar. He could probably name about five of them, and shoot only three with any degree of accuracy.
He ends up picking the gun he’s most familiar with-- a Glock 22. Out of reflex, he checks the safety, opens up the cartridge and hefts it in his hand to feel the weight of it.
“You actually know what you’re doing,” Lydia says, sounding reluctantly impressed. Stiles preens a little because, yeah, he might not be fast or tough or as cool as any of the others, but he knows how to shoot a gun.
“Same target?” he asks Allison, but his eyes are on Derek. Apparently, regular training is on hold until they’ve sufficiently determined how good, or bad, Stiles’ aim is. Or just that Jackson isn’t here. Stiles can’t say he misses him.
Taking a deep breath, Stiles lines himself up like his dad always taught him. Feet apart, arms steady, eyes on the target. He deliberately flicks the safety off and raises the gun. Deep breath, aim, release and fire.
He absorbs the shock of the recoil and flicks the safety off before he checks to see how he did. He didn’t the center of the target, but it’s within the red circle painted on the tree he and Allison had been using for practice.
“Great job!” Allison says delightedly, clapping her hands.
“Awesome.” Scott grins. Stiles ducks his head, then shoots a glance at Derek.
“Not bad, Stilinski,” Derek admits and Stiles can feel a grin breaking out.
“Did it hurt to say that?” he asks, and Derek snaps his teeth at him playfully. Stiles, used to this, just sticks his tongue out in response.
Stiles makes a move to hand the gun back to Allison, but she waves him off. “Keep it. It’s yours.”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “Yeah, it will go so well when the Sheriff’s son is found carrying without a permit.”
“Don’t get caught,” Derek replies. “You’re keeping it.”
Stiles salutes sarcastically, “Yes, sir, Mr Alpha, sir!”
Derek rolls his eyes and looks on the verge of saying something when he stops, cocking his head in the incredibly irritating ‘I’m a werewolf and I can hear things you can’t’ kind of way. Stiles exchanges a look with Allison.
“Jackson is coming.” Lydia says, but Stiles thinks it’s just for his and Allison’s benefit.
Sure enough, Jackson comes skidding into the clearing, fast enough to send up leaves when he slides to a stop. Stiles, bearing the brunt of his sudden stop, spits leaves out of his mouth and glares at Jackson.
“We have a problem,” Jackson says. “It’s Danny. He knows.”