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Croatoan

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Croatoan

They take off on a Wednesday, leaving Boyd in charge. Stiles had pulled a face at the time. Now he assumes Erica has taken over the pack, that Scott is doing his very best to avoid all of them by climbing into Allison’s pants, that Isaac is blowing off summer school, and that Jackson is trying to assert his dominance over everyone by being as big a douchebag as possible.

Stiles had asked Derek what exactly he thought was going to happen when he left a bunch of emotionally maladjusted sixteen year olds in charge of themselves.

Derek had flared his nostrils and tightened his grip on the wheel. His expression had practically shouted “I am having emotions and those emotions are violent”.

Stiles had wisely let him stew while Peter snored in the backseat.

It’s a seventeen hour drive that they break in half by stopping at a hotel to get from Beacon Hills to Oregon. They’re meeting up with a pack there, people that Peter used to know growing up, that still have an odd Hale cousin or two attached to it, to discuss a pact that would link both their packs as allies.

It had taken a lot of bitching, moaning, fact giving, yelling, emotional manipulating, blackmailing--

“Derek, if you don’t go through with this, I’ll tell my father, the Sheriff, that you touched me.”

Derek’s shoulders stiffen and he turns his head around slowly, eyes burning bright red. “What.”

“Touched me inappropriately,” Stiles clarifies. Not two minutes ago, this had seemed like a great plan.

Derek narrows his eyes and brings up his hand. His fingers curl and his claws flick out with a tiny ‘snick’. “I will touch you. Inappropriately.”

--and finally, psychological warfare in the form of Peter saying “Well it’s a good idea, so he probably won’t do it.”.

Stiles is still upset that Derek had ignored all his graphs and diagrams and flowcharts, only to be tricked by reverse psychology.

They could have made the trip in one go, each person switching off for a length of the drive, but Derek refused to let anyone but him even look at the steering wheel of his stupid, pretentious car--

“Fine, Derek, don’t let anyone drive your penis-mobile, whatever you’re the Alpha.”

--but instead they pulled over and stopped off at a small hotel that was only marginally better than sleeping in the car.

“I’m not even a werewolf and I know that guy was lying about having only one room left,” Stiles flops onto one of the beds and rolls around for a second before popping back up and moving onto the other one to see if it was any better.

Even Peter is frowning as he checks out the bathroom. “They don’t even have complimentary bodywash. It’s just a bar of soap.” He sniffs. “A used bar of soap.”

He stares at Derek like this is all his fault--which, really, pot and kettle.

Derek is gazing at the ceiling (where there’s some pretty suspicious mold happening) and doing some kind of deep breathing exercise.

“Look, you two wanted to come here--”

“Well, not here, obviously,” Peter quips.

Derek breathes.

“Rock, paper, scissors to see who gets their own bed?” Stiles suggests. “Losers share?”

Peter wins and makes a big, obnoxious show of sighing pleasantly and stretching from one end of the bed to the other.

Neither Derek or Stiles leave him any hot water to shower with. Stiles checks in with the pack (“Derek, they’re literally sending me mass texts about how Jackson won’t share the tv.” “Wonder where he learned that from.”) and then checks in with his father.

The official cover story is that Stiles is off to look at some colleges with a few seniors (“Seniors, get it, because you’re old--Ow!”) for the week. The conversation with the Sheriff had gone something like this:

“Why are you packing?”

Stiles froze and slowly turned around. “Oh hey Daddy, hi. What?”

The Sheriff frowned. “You’re packing. Why.”

“Um.”

“Not a good answer.”

Stiles thought fast. “Look, I was going to tell you, I just didn’t want you to make a big deal out of it, okay?”

“Kid, what the hell--”

“I just want to look at some colleges, okay?!” Stiles crossed his arms and tried to look as petulant as possible, like he’d been found out.

The Sheriff stared flatly at him. “Right. Just you and Scott--”

Stiles winced. “Um. Not Scott.”

The Sheriff’s look of surprise maybe lasted an entire second. “You two are attached at the hip, whatever you’re planning--”

“Scott might not graduate with me.”

“Um.”

“Look, Scott is probably going to get held back, okay?” Stiles looked at his hands and sighed, really going for it. “Okay, I know it’s summer and I only just finished being a sophomore and I should be having fun but...junior year is kind of a big thing, you know? This is where you have to nut up or shut up. So I was talking to some seniors and they were going to check out some colleges and...invited me. It’s just to look, you know? I mean, I don’t really know if I’ll be getting a scholarship or whatever.”

The Sheriff kindly tried not to gape, but it was a near thing. “I...had no idea you were thinking so far ahead, kiddo. Uh...and Scott?”

Stiles’ shoulders drooped and he bit at his lip. “Um. I kinda didn’t tell Scott? At all? I mean, look, you know we kinda had a crazy last semester and Scott really...well he pretty much failed every class, so he’s probably going to get held back. I just...I dunno. I didn’t want to rub it in his face or something.”

The Sheriff scratched the back of his head and Stiles looked up, pulling his face into what he hoped was something childlike and innocent.

“I didn’t want to make him feel stupid or that I was leaving him behind.”

Hook, line, sinker.

What followed was a very uplifting, encouraging talk which almost made Stiles feel bad for making his BFF seem like an idiot and lying so well. His father had promised not to tell anyone, especially Scott, where he was going and Stiles had kept the conversation to “do you think he’ll be mad at me?” so well that the Sheriff had completely forgotten to ask who exactly he was spending the week with.

Stiles texted every so often with things like “This school is full of hipsters, I can’t go here, I don’t have skinny jeans” and “This campus has co-ed dorms and a very large lesbian scene”.

Afterwards, when everyone is settled in and Stiles is hoarding the remote (“We’re not watching Law & Order.” “You got to take first shower, Peter gets his own bed, I get to decide what we watch.” “Stiles, for fuck’s--” “Shhhh Jack McCoy is talking.”), they go over their game plan one more time.

“Stiles made first contact,” Derek’s nostrils flare and he glares at the teen.

“Oh my god, dude, I just followed her on Tumblr. She just posts pictures of cats and sunsets, I didn’t know that made me some kind of ambassador in your weird wolf law.”

“You’ll make the introductions,” Peter picks up, when Derek looks like he’s fighting the urge to maim. “That’s your only job, while we’re discussing the treaty, all you have to do is make nice.”

“By that, he means ‘shut up’,” Derek says helpfully.

“Pretty much,” Peter says.

“I’m a great conversationalist,” Stiles grumbles.

“I wouldn’t try your brand of conversation,” Peter says. “They’re a bit...traditional.”

Stiles frowns and peels his eyes off the tv screen. “What does that mean?”

“They’re a little...backwards.

“Oh my God,” Stiles gapes. “Oh my God, they’re redneck hillbillies aren’t they?”

“No,” Derek snaps. He pauses, then turns to Peter. “They aren’t, are they?”

Peter winces. “Sort of.”

“Oh my God,” Stiles wails.

“Stop complaining, this was your idea,” Derek snips.

“No, you don’t understand,” Stiles stresses. “I’m going to be the one that has a pretty mouth!”

“...what?! That’s--Stiles! This isn’t Deliverance! Calm down.”

“Well, they do keep pretty isolated,” Peter says absently. “They might be enamored by a city boy.”

“Oh my God.”

“Peter, stop it.”

“And you do have an attractive mouth.”

Oh my God.

Peter!”

They don’t get much sleep that night.

 

  •    

 

To Derek’s eternal displeasure, it takes them two hours to get up and get ready to leave the next morning. Peter won’t stop baiting Stiles and Stiles won’t stop bitching. By the time they actually get in the car, Derek’s ready to just turn around and forget the whole thing. He’d known creating an alliance between packs would be difficult, he just hadn’t thought the hardest part would be putting up with his companions until they got there.

As soon as they crossed into Oregon, Stiles starts dragging his feet. Every half hour the teen needs to pee, or get something to drink, or get out and shake his legs.

If Derek doesn’t pull over each time, Stiles starts being annoying on purpose. If he’s sitting in the back, he’ll ‘accidentally’ kick Derek’s seat (“Stiles!” “I have long legs, Derek! Scoot your seat up!”). If he’s sitting in the passenger seat, he’ll bounce his leg so hard that the entire car shakes at stoplights (“Stiles!” “I have to pee, okay?! Jeez.”). After enough times, even Peter’s resolve is starting to wear and everyone just starts snapping at each other.

“Let’s just pull over for the night--”

Derek yanks the car into the first hotel lot he comes across with a screech. He parks crookedly in the far corner and it takes him three tries to get out of the car because the seatbelt doesn’t want to release him. While he’s stomping around the vehicle to get their bags out of the trunk he hears:

“Was it something I said?”

Derek almost loses his zen and punches Stiles in the face. He thinks Stiles realizes this because the boy stays mulishly quiet for a few blissful minutes. Until he finds out that, again, the hotel only has one room vacant and it’s a single.

“I have a bad back,” he says immediately. “You two can sleep on the floor.”

They trudge up the stairs in an aggravated line, stress lines etched into their faces.

“Maybe we should leave me here,” Stiles says just before they bed down. “I can just introduce you guys via text.”

Peter, sprawled awkwardly on the small sofa, groans. “I vote yes. Let’s just leave him.”

Derek almost agrees. “You’ve already said the pack is traditional--”

“Backwater hillbillies,” Stiles corrects. “He said they were backwater hillbillies.”

Derek pauses and removes the pillow from where he was slowly trying to suffocate himself by pressing it against his face. “Stiles,” he says gruffly. “No one is going to molest you.”

Peter shifts onto his back and glares. “Is that what today was about?!”

“Look, when Lydia and Isaac aren’t around, I’m obviously the cutest of the Scoobies. If I hear banjos, I’m out.”

Derek sits up to glare over the edge of the bed at Peter, hoping his expression properly conveys ‘Look what you did’. Peter’s left eyes twitches and he rolls over with a huff.

Derek takes in a deep breath and lets it out slowly. Trying to project a comforting presence, he reaches up to put a heavy hand on Stiles’ ankle.

“No one is going to touch you,” he says. “You’re part of my pack. They wouldn’t dare.”

Stiles kicks his hand away and grumbles for a moment. “Peter’s a dick.”

“Yes he is,” Derek agrees kindly.

He can hear the other wolf grinding his teeth.

“Seriously though--”

“If I hear or see a banjo, you can wait in the car.”

“...fine.”

“Go the fuck to sleep,” Peter grouses at both of them.

That’s the last time any of them get any rest.

 

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