Stiles is sitting on the filthy floor of an abandoned subway car. He's sitting on the floor of an abandoned subway car, cradling a werewolf who may or may not be dying. He's cradling a werewolf who may or may not be dying and who has committed violence against his person on more than one occasion.
The familiar refrain of when did this become my life starts to run through his head, but he dismisses it with finality. It's a moot point, really, because this is his life, and it's time to accept it and deal with it, and whining about it isn't going to help anyone, least of all the people surrounding him.
The train car doors don't close all the way, and he can hear the quiet murmur of Scott and Derek's voices. Even though he can only catch every fifth word or so, he knows Scott is officially joining Derek's pack; they'd talked about it on the frantic, way too fast for speed limits drive to the train yard, as Erica had screamed and writhed in the backseat and Stiles had tried to keep her pinned down so she wouldn't hurt herself more.
It's too much for them to handle alone and it's too much for Derek's obviously under-trained and underdeveloped pack to handle alone and this “every pack for itself” bullshit is only getting more people killed. If Derek needs the promise of Scott's loyalty in order to trust them enough to work together, then it's a compromise he's willing to make. Stiles understands exactly the sacrifice Scott is making, understands it will further strain his already complicated relationship with Allison, understands it might actually destroy it altogether That Scott is willing to risk that, is just further proof of how much he's changed since Peter first bit him.
A part of him is fiercely proud of Scott, and a little part of him is kind of proud of himself, but most of him is just scared shitless.
There's the clump of boots on the steps and then Derek appears in the doorway. He looks calmer, a little less frantic than he had when they'd come charging down the stairs with Erica in Scott's arms.
“She's asleep,” he tells Derek unnecessarily, just to have something to say. Derek walks over and crouches down beside them, hovers his hand over Erica's arm but doesn't actually touch.
“Is she gonna live?”
Derek nods. “I think so. She smells...clean. You and Scott got her here in time.”
“I assume you two worked out your little pack business?”
Derek looks up from where he's been staring at Erica's arm, and Stiles hears the echo of the sickening crack of bone. Derek raises an eyebrow. “It's your pack business, too.”
Stiles doesn't have an answer to that, so he instead stretches his legs out, tries to shift into a more comfortable position to keep various body parts from falling asleep; the movement makes Erica whimper and thrash, and he tightens his arms around her, brushes the hair out of her face.
“Hey, hey. Shhh, shhh, shhh. It's okay.”
She settles back into sleep, and he finds Derek staring at him, that look he gets on his face sometimes, like Stiles is this puzzle he can't quite figure out.
“How do you do it?”
Stiles has obviously lost track of the conversation. “Do what?”
“Care so much.”
He laughs, but quietly; he would rather Erica sleep through the pain of healing, would really rather not see her panicked and afraid. It's not that he likes the homicidal, conceited bitch she's turned into, but he doesn't like seeing her broken either. It's just... wrong .
“You mean why am I helping the people who have generally tried to make my life miserable? Might actually have tried to kill me a time or two?”
Derek nods again, like he had when Stiles had offered the word abomination to describe the kanima – which he now feels guilty about, by the way, because he can't imagine anything worse than having his will completely stolen away, losing all control of his choices. If Jackson had issues before, he can't imagine the amount of therapy he'll need when he figures out someone has been using him to murder.
“We're kids, you know? Kids. I can't even legally go to “R” rated movies by myself. And you might have screwed up big time here -” He sees Derek opening his mouth to argue, but he gives him the Stilinski glare of doom. “- and you have, don't even try to pretend you haven't – but I don't want anybody to die unless we can't figure out another way.
“Besides -” he looks down at Erica and grins. “I'm Batman.”
Derek's expression is completely blank now, except for a tick in his jaw. Stiles sighs.
“Look, I'm not stupid, alright? I know all that stuff she said was complete crap; I know the whole crush thing is bullshit. Couldn't get to Scott, so you guys figured I was the next best thing, right? Good ole Stiles will do anything we want if he thinks a hot girl likes him – I bet that's a pretty good summary of that particular planning session. I get it, okay?”
Derek has a crease between his eyebrows now, but Stiles just waves him away. “But it doesn't matter. Because somebody has to do it. You, buddy, no offense, are a little shaky in the morals department lately. And Scott's working really hard to ride his white horse all the way to his grave. You guys need somebody in the middle, so you get me. I might not have any super powers, but I've got brains, and thanks to having a key to my dad's supply closet, a really handy utility belt. Batman.” He smirks, because the metaphor really is stellar.
Derek lets out that little half laugh that tries to say he isn't amused, when he in fact is . Dude could really do with getting that stick out of his ass so he could drop the whole mysterious Alpha routine, but Stiles has to admit he looks far better than he has in the last couple of weeks. He assumes that knowing he has a Beta in his pack that won't bite someone's face off during the next full moon has done wonders for his mood.
Derek stands back up and leans against a pole, crossed arms pulling his t-shirt tight over his chest. “You staying?”
Stiles shrugs. “I live to be the equivalent of a human pillow. Really, it's always been my life's goal.”
“Good to know you still aim high. I'll get you some bedding.”
He pauses right on the verge of exiting, looks between Stiles and Erica for a long minute. Finally he nods small, to himself.
“She wasn't lying. About the crush. It's why you piss her off so much.”
He nods again, more firmly this time, and steps out into the train yard, leaving Stiles to stare blankly down at Erica.
Life, he thinks, is weird.