Jackson Whittemore has a reputation for being an arrogant, self-entitled prick. In fact he’s had the reputation for so long, most people can’t actually think of him as being anything else. Danny Mahealani is one of the few people who can, partly because he’s Jackson’s best friend. Still, even he can admit that Jackson is a raging douchenozzle roughly nine times out of ten.
Jackson was an asshole even back when they first met – in third grade. Danny remembers that when he was introduced to the class on his first day of school and Miss Haynes tried to sit a girl next to Jackson so that Danny could get a seat at the front, Jackson threw a massive fit and kicked over a chair. Danny ended up sitting next to Jackson instead, because this arrangement only made Jackson pout, rather than actually trying to break stuff.
Jackson carried on pouting for the next week, saying only about ten words to Danny, roughly nine of which were rude. Danny had been kind of vulnerable back then, and after the next week brought even more meanness from Jackson, his mom managed to find out what was wrong. She’d spoken to Miss Haynes about it on Friday afternoon when she came to pick Danny up from school, and Miss Haynes had spoken to Jackson’s parents in turn. On Monday morning Jackson came in and didn’t say a word, but at break time he’d sat down next to Danny and offered him one of his cookies.
Danny had looked at him with surprise – and more than a little suspsicion. ‘Why are you giving me a cookie?’
Jackson shrugged. ‘My parents said I had to be nicer to you, cause your mom was mad at me for being mean to you.’
Danny looked at the cookie. ‘My mom wasn’t mad at you. She was mad because I was upset. And I don’t want your cookie. It’s not a real apology.’
Jackson pushed the cookie at him again, looking almost worried. ‘Look could you just take the cookie? Miss Haynes is watching, and if my parents hear I haven’t said sorry to you they’re going to be super angry.’
Danny looked back at Jackson, seeing a flicker of something like fear on his face, just for a second. He frowned, wondering why Jackson would be afraid. Then, after a moment, he took the cookie. He might have been more sensitive as child but he was always nice.
‘I still don’t like you’, he told Jackson, whose expression had changed from worried to relieved to smug.
‘You will’, he said.
As it turns out, Jackson was right. Danny does like Jackson, and has ever since he found out that underneath the asshole exterior, Jackson is actually pretty cool. He’s clever, really good at lacrosse, incredibly dedicated and actually pretty funny. He’s great company on a night out, as well as being a good wingman. And he’s also a very loyal friend, even if he doesn’t always show it. Over the years, Danny has come to be glad that Jackson’s on his side.
Case in point: Danny coming out in freshman year.
Danny figures out he’s gay just before he turns fourteen. Looking back on it, he thinks he might have known before then really, but that’s when he admits it to himself. That’s when he goes out for a long walk on his own and thinks about how he hasn’t started to look at girls the way the rest of the guys he knows have. He thinks about the dreams he’s been having – the ones he wakes up from hard and aching with desire, or sticky and satisfied – and how they only seem to be about guys. He thinks about a lot of things. He comes to the conclusion that he, Daniel Nahoa Mahealani, is gay.
And then, in the stillness of the woods, he says it out loud, just once. Just to make it real; to make it absolutely true.
He doesn’t say it again for another year after that, not until he turns fifteen, when he tells his parents after his birthday dinner, once his little sister has gone to bed. His mom looks almost sad; his dad just looks tired.
‘We know sweetie’, his mom says, suspiciously bright-eyed and wistful-sounding. ‘We’ve known for a while now. We didn’t say anything because we thought we’d wait for you to tell us in your own time. Anyway, we want you to know that it’s ok and we love you.’
His dad asks, ‘Are you going to tell anyone else – people at school?’ Danny nods, and his father nods back. ‘Ok. Well you let us know if anyone gives you any trouble. We don’t want you to suffer in silence.’
‘I won’t’, Danny says. ‘I’ll tell you.’
In the end though, he never does say anything to his parents. Looking back on it, that was a big mistake – and if it weren’t for Jackson, it could have been fatal.
The thing is, although Danny’s never mentioned being gay to Jackson, or given any kind of hint at all. When he thinks about it, he figures it’s because he’s worried that Jackson will stop being his friend. He’s not sure why he thinks that, because Jackson’s never really said anything about gay guys and he doesn't seem to have an issue with homosexuality. Nonetheless, Danny worries about it; worries that this will change their friendship forever; worries that Jackson will never think of him as a friend again; worries that Jackson will think Danny likes him in that way.
So Danny doesn’t tell Jackson, not even when the couple of people at school he’s told start to pass on it to other people. Not even when people are talking about him as he walks down the corridor. It comes back to bite him. In fact, it’s only about a week after the rumours start, when Danny is getting his things out of his locker at the end of the day. Jackson appears out of nowhere and shoves Danny into said locker, fists bunched in his shirt.
‘Is it true?’ he hisses. There’s only one thing he can be talking about.
Danny’s heart sinks into his shoes, but he nods. ‘It’s true’, he whispers.
Jackson looks disgusted, shaking his head. ‘Do you know how I found out? I overheard Stilinski talking about it to that pathetic little friend of his.’ He shakes his head again, stepping away from Danny. ‘You’re my best friend dude. What the hell?’
Danny watches him with wide, shocked eyes. He has to take a second to process. ‘You’re not… you’re not mad that I’m…gay?’
Jackson rolls his eyes angrily. ‘Of course not. Why would I be? You’re not into me, so it’s not like it makes a difference. I just have less competition for the hot girls.’ And yeah, in any other situation that would be funny, because it’s so typically Jackson. As it is, Danny doesn’t really know what to say.
Jackson snorts. ‘Yeah, ‘oh’. Did you think I’d be mad or something? Jesus, what the hell man?’ He still looks angry. Danny struggles to find the right words to explain himself.
‘I thought… I thought you’d… look I didn’t know if-’
‘If you could trust me?’ Jackson finishes for him, even though that’s not what Danny was going to say at all. Jackson curls his lip. ‘Screw you, Danny. We’re done.’
And then he walks away and Danny doesn’t say anything to stop him, because his hands are shaking and he thinks he might be going to cry. He’s fifteen, he’s just come out, and his best friend doesn’t want to be his friend any more. So he stays leaning against his locker because it’s probably the only thing keeping him on his feet, and he watches Jackson walking away with a sinking heart.
They don’t speak for the next fortnight. Or, rather, Danny tries to speak to Jackson, but Jackson blanks him completely.
It shouldn’t make that much of a difference to Danny – he’s friends with a lot of people and on good terms with most of the student body, because that’s just who he is – but it does. It really does. The thing is, Jackson only has one best friend, and that’s Danny. Danny knows that Jackson doesn’t like a lot of people – just tolerates them mainly – and it twists inside his gut, filling him with guilt. He hates the idea that Jackson’s on his own now.
It’s more than that though. Yeah, Danny’s got a lot of friends and he gets on with pretty much everybody. But somewhere back down the line, Jackson left a mark on him; a mark that means Jackson is just as much Danny’s only best friend as Danny is Jackson’s. Somewhere over the years, Jackson became the one person Danny doesn’t want to be without, and it’s lonely as hell now he’s gone.
Ironically – or perhaps not – it’s when Danny’s life hits a new low that things with Jackson work out.
It’s been almost a month since he started telling people at school when the first signs of trouble begin. It’s small at first: the odd shouldering past in the hallway that’s a little harder than it should be; the occasional locker room joke that’s not quite funny. Then it escalates – overly rough tackles on the lacrosse pitch; notes slipped into his locker. It winds up as out and out bullying: bits of his lacrosse gear going missing, slurs thrown at him, the odd punch thrown too. It’s only a couple of seniors on the lacrosse team, but they do a pretty good job of making Danny’s life no fun. Worst of all, the way they do it is subtle enough that barely anyone notices.
He doesn’t tell his parents, or a teacher, because he doesn’t want to make a fuss. Yeah, it’s making school a pretty shitty place to be, but a part of him feels like if he draws any more attention to himself it’ll just make things worse; like if he shows weakness it’ll only make him more vulnerable to attack. More than ever, he wishes Jackson was still talking to him, because underneath his ‘I’m an asshole’ façade, Jackson has always been really good at making Danny relax and laugh off his problems. Plus, Jackson would probably make sure that the guys hassling Danny backed the hell off.
Jackson starts speaking to him again the day everything goes completely to hell. As days go, it doesn’t start excitingly; doesn’t give any sign that it’s going to be anything out of the ordinary. Danny gets up, goes to school, and follows his normal routine. Everything is fine – as fine as it has been lately, anyway – and the day passes just as it usually does. He goes home, talks about his school day, ignores his mother’s questions about Jackson. He does his homework, plays a bit of Xbox, eats dinner, and then heads out for a run. The weather’s colder every day now, but he likes that – likes the way it clears his head and makes him feel alive. He runs into the woods, keeping a wide berth around the burned out Hale House because it gives him the creeps, no matter what anyone says.
He’s just out of the woods and headed home when he turns a corner and literally runs into them.
‘Watch where you’re going, dickwad!’ one of them shouts, his breath reeking of alcohol.
One of the others stares, then his eyes widen in regonition. ‘Well look who it is guys? It’s that little faggot freshman.’ He grins. ‘I guess we’re just going to have to teach you a lesson.’
Danny wonders, just briefly, if he’s going to make it out of this alive. There’s a small, cold lump of fear in his gut that says he won’t.
It’s ok for a moment or two, because he knows how to take punches so that they don’t hurt so much, but when the three of them all lay into him at once, he can’t do much except curl up into a ball on the floor and hope for the best.
‘What the fuck do you think you’re doing?’
Danny recognises that voice; would recognise that voice anywhere. Hell, he knows that voice better than his own. He thinks, idly, that Jackson probably doesn’t realise who the victim is, and he wonders if Jackson would bother getting involved if he did know. Still, it’s a relief when the attention moves off him and to the group of lackeys that Jackson always has hanging around him. He lies very still and tries not to breathe too hard, his eyes closed as he listens to the sounds of the fight going on beside him.
After a while, the sounds stop and he hears footsteps walking over to him. Someone falls to their knees beside him and sucks in a shocked breath. ‘Danny? Jesus Christ, Danny!’ A shaking hand reaches out to touch his cheek, and Jackson hisses between his teeth. ‘I’m going to kill them. I’m going to fucking murder them.’ A familiar hand reaches to squeeze his own. ‘I’ll get them. I promise.’ Then, to someone else. ‘Did you call an ambulance already? No? Well do it fucking now then!’ Danny almost smiles, because he knows that tone of voice – it means that Jackson’s scared and he’s upset, but he’s not going to show that to anyone, so he resorts to being a dick instead.
‘I’m sorry’, Danny mumbles, his lips swollen and split.
Jackson laughs, brittle and bitter. ‘You’re a moron’, he says. ‘A complete moron.’ Danny knows that means, I’m sorry too, and that’s all he needs to hear.
He fades in and out of consciousness after that, not remembering much between then and when he wakes up in a hospital bed. His mom bursts into tears when she sees that he’s awake and hugs him despite his injuries. Even his dad looks like he might cry. Danny has to look away to keep the lump in his throat from choking him. Eventually though, they have to go home. Danny’s almost grateful when they do, because it means he can go back to sleep and not have to worry about anything.
Jackson’s at his bedside the next time he wakes up. His lips – always so obscenely full – are split in a couple of places, while his nose is swollen, as is one eye. Still, he grins his usual grin when he sees that Danny’s woken up.
‘Dude, you look like shit’, he says.
‘Thanks’, Danny says, grimacing. Then he looks at Jackson, eyes sincere. ‘Really, thanks.’ They both know what he’s talking about, and Jackson’s face takes on a serious expression.
‘You should have said something. I mean, before. You should have told me they were bothering you.’ Danny raises his eyebrows – which hurts.
‘You weren’t speaking to me.’
Jackson shrugs. ‘I would have listened. If you’d told me, I would have listened.’ His face crumples for a brief moment. ‘Shit, Danny, I thought I’d lost you. When I saw it was you…’ He takes in a shaky breath, his eyes suspiciously bright for a moment. ‘I swear to God, if they’d… if you’d… fuck.’ He rubs a hand across his face; shuts his eyes.
Danny stretches a hand over to the one lying on Jackson’s knee. He squeezes it lightly. ‘Should I be worried right now? Are you about to confess your undying love to me? Because I hate to say this, but Jax, you’re not my type.’
Jackson laughs (just like Danny intended him to) and looks up, a measure of control back on his features. His smirk is almost as arrogant as normal as he says, ‘Whatever, man. I’m everybody’s type.’
Danny’s back in school after a week or two, because thankfully the damage was limited to some serious bruising, a couple of cracked ribs and some nasty cuts. Aside from any lingering injuries, life is pretty awesome all told. Jackson is his friend again, the bullies have been expelled and charged with a hate crime (Jackson’s dad took care of that), and all the teachers are going super easy on him because they feel bad. Danny couldn’t really ask for any more.
And apart from the injuries and the teachers going easy on him, things don’t change much after that. Danny doesn’t get any hassle from anyone about being gay, which he likes to think as much due to everyone at school being really cool as to Jackson having beaten the crap out of the last people who stirred up trouble. His grades are good and the beginning of sophomore year, he makes first line in lacrosse as goalie. Jackson, unsurprisingly, makes captain. He also starts dating Lydia Martin, the most feared and desired girl in school. Danny lets his friend gloat for a couple of days before he stops saying anything congratulatory in return. As intended, Jackson gives it a rest – mainly because he knows Danny will ditch him if he’s too much of an asshole. Life is good.
Junior year… well that’s when things start to get more interesting. For starters, Stiles Stilinski will not stop asking Danny whether he (Stiles) is attractive to gay guys. Danny can’t make up his mind whether Stiles is genuinely curious or just being a pain ass. He’s not sure he cares, although he figures maybe it is curiosity after he sees Stiles’ ‘cousin Miguel’ (and yeah, that wasn’t convincing anyone) for the first time. ‘Miguel’ would make a lot of people curious.
Then it turns out that ‘Miguel’ isn’t so much Stiles’ cousin (who knew?) and is actually Derek Hale, possible felon and scion of the Hale family. This bothers Danny for reasons he can’t identify, as well as a whole lot of reasons that he can, such as: what the hell was Derek Hale doing in Stiles Stilinski’s bedroom, and why the hell did he let Stiles boss him around?
It’s more than that though. It’s how Scott McCall (famous for never playing a single lacrosse game, ever) has suddenly overcome his crippling asthma and can play lacrosse like a ninja. It’s Jackson’s obsession with finding out just what it is that has made Scott able to play lacrosse like a ninja. It’s all the animal attacks happening in Beacon Hills. It’s Allison Argent and her family, who – despite Allison being a really sweet girl – seem like a bunch of psychos. Especially her aunt, who gives Danny the creeps when she comes to watch a lacrosse match.
On top of everything else, it’s winter formal. First there’s the part where Jackson is going with Allison Argent – as ‘friends’ – but barely pays attention to her all evening, preferring to get wasted. Then there’s Lydia going to the dance with Stiles Stilinski, of all people. Not to mention the part where Danny ends up dancing with Scott McCall and everyone sees. Finally, there’s Lydia getting attacked on the lacrosse pitch by some kind of animal and Jackson turning up with her in his arms, covered in blood. Oh yeah, and Scott, Stiles, Allison and Jackson all disappear for several hours after the attack.
Danny is a pretty chilled out guy most of the time – he has a reputation for it in fact, much like how Jackson has a reputation for being a dick – but all these things add up to make him feel kind of nervous. When Lydia wakes up and her wounds heal miraculously fast, it makes him even more concerned. Finally, Jackson starts disappearing off to hang out in the woods with Derek Hale and the rest of them. This makes Danny seriously worried. In fact, he’s so worried that he even contemplates just asking Jackson what’s going on, but he knows from experience that if Jackson doesn’t want to talk about something, he’s not going to.
The weirdest thing is though, that Jackson looks like he does want to tell Danny what’s going on, but he can’t. Or he’s not allowed to. And that bothers Danny a whole lot until Jackson takes him out into the woods one day in February and transforms in front of Danny’s eyes.
Despite the fact that Jackson’s wolf-face is pretty hilarious (and yeah, werewolves, who knew?), Danny still feels a desperate urge to run. As it is, he manages to control himself enough to tell Jackson that he needs some time, and then he drives himself home before collapsing on to his bed and lying there, shaking. Jackson Whittemore, his best friend, is a werewolf. And he’s not the only one; there’s a whole pack of them.
Danny barely sleeps that night, spending his time on his laptop researching werewolves as much as physically possible and playing solitaire until he can’t keep his eyes open anymore. He dreams of wolves and wakes up hoping yesterday was a dream too. It wasn’t.
He doesn’t speak to Jackson much over the next few days, even though he can tell it’s hurting his friend. In fact, he goes out of his way to avoid the ‘pack’ as much as physically possible, which goes really well until Stiles Stilinski corners him at his locker one afternoon.
‘It’s a lot to handle’, Stiles says in lieu of a greeting. ‘I get it. Anyway, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been researching the hell out of this, uh, subject. And that means you’ve come across a whole lot of weird cult stuff and hippie crap. So, uh, I made you this.’ He thrusts a USB at Danny, who stares at it suspiciously. Stiles rolls his eyes. ‘It’s not anything weird. It’s just all the research that actually fits, and anything else that I just picked up from observation and stuff. I think it might help you understand.’
Danny takes the USB, looking up at Stiles. ‘How are you ok with this?’ he asks, genuinely curious. Stiles shrugs.
‘Over-active imagination and a lot of first-hand experience’, he says. ‘And it’s Scott. He’s my best friend; still my best friend, regardless of all this. Some things don’t change.’ He gives Danny a half smile that’s almost reassuring. ‘You’ll be ok’, he says. ‘Just take some time and have a look at what’s on there. Anyway, I would stick around, but Derek’s training them all today and it’s always fun to watch him smack them down like gnats.’ He heads off with a wave, whistling as he heads towards the parking lot. Danny watches him go, eyes wide. Stiles has clearly gone crazy.
Still, perhaps crazy is the right way to go when dealing with werewolves. Danny has to admit that it makes sense after he’s looked at the contents of the USB Stiles gave him, and yeah, that’s not a thought he ever thought he’d have about werewolves. So he spends the weekend at home, doing chores and homework and just thinking about it all. It helps.
He sits down next to Jackson at lunch, come Monday. Jackson grins widely, relief pouring off him in waves – or at least, Danny notices that it is, and he assumes that the werewolves do too, but he’s pretty sure nobody else would pick up on it. To them, Jackson probably looks the same as ever.
‘I knew you wouldn’t be able to stay away’, Jackson jokes. ‘Like I keep telling you, I’m everyone’s type.’
Danny snorts, because it’s a running joke between them now. ‘Sure. It’s my deep-rooted attraction to you that keeps me here. Secretly, I’m only your friend because I want to get my hands on you.’
Scott stares at them. ‘That would explain a lot’, he says, and ok, who gave McCall a brain?
Stiles smacks Scott across the ear. ‘Dude, Danny is way too cool for Jackson.’
Jackson glares at Stiles. ‘Stilinski, did you forget that I could snap you like a twig?’
Lydia arches an eyebrow. ‘Derek wouldn’t like it if you did that. Everyone knows Stiles is his favourite.’
Stiles brightens up at that. ‘Really? Did he say that? Did he actually say that?’
Lydia rolls her eyes and shares a look with Allison, who giggles. Danny just stares at them all and wonders what the hell he’s got himself into.
When he finally gets to see the new Hale House, Danny has to admit that he’s impressed. Sure, Derek Hale is still slightly terrifying, but the house is amazing and Derek is marginally less scary when he’s making them all hot drinks after the grand tour. He also makes a point to welcome Danny and check up on how he’s doing with ‘so my best friend is part of a werewolf pack’ deal, which Danny appreciates.
Jackson bumps his shoulder companionably as they walk back towards Jackson’s car. ‘He likes you, you know.’
Danny raises an eyebrow. ‘Who? Stiles?’
Jackson barks out a laugh. ‘No, dude, Derek. He thinks telling you was a good thing.’
‘How do you know?’ Danny asks, not remembering Jackson talking to Derek particularly.
Jackson shrugs. ‘I could smell it on him. Besides, you’re here. If he didn’t want you here…’ He shrugs again. ‘But yeah, he likes you. In a platonic way, I mean.’
Danny rolls his eyes. ‘Damn, and I was so hoping to tap that.’ Jackson raises his hands in a ‘ok, whatever’ gesture.
‘I would, if I were you. Want to tap that I mean. Derek’s hot.’
Danny snorts. ‘Maybe you should ask him. I mean, you are everybody’s type, after all.’
‘You know it!’ Jackson says with a grin. Danny just shakes his head and gets in the car. He’s not even going to dignify that with a response.
As it turns out, getting used to the whole werewolf thing is easier than expected, mainly due to the fact that being around the pack has a tendency to make you feel like you’re surrounded by adorable toddlers. Apparently wolves being playful creatures means that werewolves are too, and as a result, decorating the house is one long, fun-filled adventure. Allison and Lydia fill the place with music and laughter and Danny can hardly blame Stiles for getting a little caught up in their dance party. Besides, watching Stiles run to Derek for protection is pretty funny too – it’s like neither of them even realise how much they want each other.
Still, Danny’s not going to turn down the opportunity to watch Derek wander around in a wife beater, looking all sweaty and lickable. The guy is hot – like model hot – and Danny has eyes. Whatever. (In the end the only reason he stops is because Derek and Stiles clearly only have eyes for each other – and Danny drooling over Derek seems to bother Jackson)
And yeah, spring break is spent working on the house more and running through the woods – which Stiles whines about continuously, but is pretty fun really – which is not at all what Danny would have planned at the beginning of the year. Regardless, it’s awesome, not least because Jackson is happier than Danny has ever seen him. It seems like the pack has given Jackson something he’s never had before – a family. After all, Jackson’s parents are ok people, but not the kindest ever and not tolerant of failure. Here… here it’s just nice. It’s warm and relaxed and even though Danny knows he’s not properly part of the pack, he still loves it.
The thing is, for all that Danny’s ‘the nicest guy in school’ and everyone likes him, Jackson’s always been his best friend. Just Jackson, not anyone else. That gets a little lonely sometimes. But here… here he has five new close friends – people who he actually feels like he would just want to hang out with (even Stiles) and while away afternoons with. In fact, this is pretty much what he does over the course of the vacation, taking breaks between decorating to go for pizza, or have barbeques, or watch movies.
He tells himself that he’s imagining the way Jackson sticks closer than ever these days, slinging an arm over the back of the couch when they watch a movie, his fingers brushing Danny’s shoulder. He tells himself that it’s coincidence that when they’re all out playing tag, Jackson tackles him to the ground more than anyone else. He reminds himself that Jackson is his best friend and that thinking about him in any way that isn’t platonic is not ok.
It’s hard though, when Jackson smiles so easily these days; when Jackson touches him all the time, bumping shoulders with him, pulling him in for one-armed hugs when they’re walking together; when Jackson falls asleep on his shoulder time and again, only to wake up sleepy and smiling. It’s hard, because although Jackson’s not as hot as Derek (really, who is?) he is hot and he and Danny have known each other for the best part of a decade; they’ve shared secrets that they’ve never told anyone else. They just… they just fit together. And it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like if maybe they weren’t just best friends, but maybe something more too.
Thankfully, exams come (when is he ever going to say that again?) and prove to be a very distracting distraction from everything except studying, eating, sleeping, and listening to Stiles complaining, loudly, about how life sucks. It could be worse.
Then after exams are done, things settle down again. What this means for Danny is that he’s once again trying to work out exactly what is going on between him and Jackson – in even simpler terms, this means a lot of sleepless nights. Danny almost breaks down and asks Lydia if she knows anything, but he’s not quite that desperate yet, so in the end he turns to Stiles for help – something he never, ever thought he’d be doing. Ever.
Weirdly though, Stiles proves to be very cool about the whole thing, and surprisingly subtle too. Danny didn’t expect him to be, but he thinks that’s mainly because why would anyone need to be subtle around Scott McCall? Nice as he is, Scott is not known for being perceptive. At all. Even Allison agrees that he’s not exactly… sharp.
Stiles further disproves Danny’s assumptions by finding him only a few days after they first spoke. ‘Yeah, he’s into you.’
Danny raises an eyebrow. ‘And you know this how…?’
Stiles shrugs. ‘I have eyes. Also I got Derek to use his special, creepy werewolf powers to scent Jackson. He says that, uh, yeah, Jackson’s into you.’
Danny’s eyes widen. ‘They can smell that?’
Stiles nods unhappily. ‘Yep. It’s awkward, to say the least.’ Danny remembers that Derek is living with Stiles at the moment, and yeah.... ‘Anyway, I have to go home to my dad and my werewolf now.’
‘Sure’, Danny says. ‘Thanks Stiles’. Stiles grins at him.
‘No problem. I owed you for the whole ‘Miguel’ thing anyway.’ Then he’s off, leaving Danny to chuckle at the memory. Stiles really doesn’t get enough credit.
He knows his heart stutters when Jackson asks him what he’s doing for prom, just like he knows that Jackson will be able to hear it. Jackson doesn’t comment though; just smiles when Danny replies that he’s not doing anything, but that he kind of hopes they could go stag together.
‘I’m not buying you a corsage though’, Danny adds. ‘I wouldn’t want people to think we were dating or something.’
Jackson smirks. ‘Sure you would. Like I said before, I’m -’
‘- everybody’s type, yeah, sure.’ Danny rolls his eyes. ‘Some of us are immune to your charms, Jax.’
Jackson carries on smirking. ‘You just admitted I’m charming. You’re so into me dude!’
‘You wish’, Danny shoots back. ‘And what’s happening after Prom anyway? Are we going to a party or something?’
Jackson frowns. ‘I don’t know, dude. I kind of want to hang out with the pack to be honest, but Derek hasn’t said anything and I don’t want to push it.’
For once Danny’s the one initiating the touch, leaning across to lay a hand on the back of Jackson’s neck and squeeze gently. ‘I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you asked him. And he might have something planned anyway. Don’t worry about.’
Jackson nods, shooting a small smile in Danny’s direction. ‘Yeah, you’re right. Thanks.’
Danny returns the smile. ‘No problem.’
And it really isn’t a problem, as it turns out, because a few days later Derek suggests that they all come back to the house after Prom. Danny thinks it’s kind of adorable how Stiles hurries to make sure that Derek feels wanted. Jackson thinks it’s pathetic. They agree to disagree, which really means that Danny changes the subject before he gives in to the urge to punch Jackson. It’s a pretty normal state of affairs. Prom, other the other hand, is not a normal state of affairs. For starters, Danny’s heartbeat won’t stop tripping all over the place and hitching when Jackson looks at him. Then there’s the fact that he spends the whole evening hanging out with Scott McCall and Stiles Stilinski – totally not what he would have predicted doing even a couple of months ago. He doesn’t mind though, because he’s kind of got used to Stiles talking non-stop and he’s actually reached the point where he’s not even surprised when Scott says something really dumb. The fact that it took his best friend becoming a werewolf for Danny to get to this point is not lost on him.
He doesn’t think about it that much though, mainly because Jackson spends the whole evening close to him. The myriad of casual touches are back, and now they have the added weight of Jackson’s gaze too. Danny can feel Jackson’s eyes on his skin, hot like the sun. It makes his stomach flutter and clench. It makes him want.
It’s more than that though. It’s a weird sense of comfort that was never there before; a warmth and peace that makes Danny breathe that much easier. It’s strange and new and intimate, but he thinks he could get used to it, just like he could get used to the way Jackson smiles these days. They lie on a blanket in Derek’s back yard and Danny feels like he’s home.
The feeling multiplies by a hundred when Derek calls him and Allison pack for the first time. It rises up and floods him full of light and warmth and belonging so strong that it makes Danny catch his breath a little. He’s never felt anything so good before.
In fact, he’s still riding the wave of it when they all curl up to watch movies. Maybe that’s why he falls asleep so easily. He hadn’t even realised that he was tired until he wakes up the next morning in his bed (Derek’s given them all bedrooms, which is awesome), drooling into his pillow. His heart tugs a little, knowing that Jackson must have brought him up here. He’s still smiling up at the ceiling when there’s a knock at the door and Jackson appears.
‘Hey dude, you want some breakfast? They’re cooking in the kitchen.’
Danny nods. ‘Sure.’ He gets out of bed and stretches his arms up above his head with a groan. He pretends he doesn’t see the way Jackson’s eyes follow his shirt as it rides up.
‘Thanks for bringing me upstairs last night’, he says as he walks over to the door.
Jackson shuffles his feet. ‘No problem. You just looked really peaceful. I didn’t want to wake you.’
Danny knocks their shoulders together and smiles. ‘Thanks Jax.’ He sniffs the air. ‘That smells really good. Do you think there’s bacon?’
Jackson grins. ‘Only if we get there before McCall.’ And then they’re running downstairs like a pair of kids, skidding into the kitchen and sharing a grin as they both slide into chairs. Lydia rolls her eyes at them. Jackson sticks his tongue out at her. Danny tries very hard not to think it’s adorable.
It’s fine though, because what really is adorable is the way Stiles and Derek are looking at each other; sneaking glances when they think no one is looking and smiling like idiots. Something obviously happened between them last night or maybe this morning, and Danny’s glad – they both deserve to be happy. Besides, if they’d tiptoed around each other any longer, he’s beginning to think that Lydia would have locked them up in a room or something until they finally admitted how they feel. Actually, that could have been funny.
Over the next couple of weeks, he starts fervently hoping that Lydia’s not going to lock him in a room. After all, if he thought forcing Jackson into admitting anything was a good idea, he’d have done it already. Waiting to hear if Jax actually wants this –whatever ‘this’ is – or if all this new-found affection is just some pack thing is sort of maddening, but it’s the way it has to be. Jackson doesn’t do well with ultimatums; never has. Danny knows that patience is the only way. It’s a good thing he’s a patient guy.
In the end though, he’s rewarded. After a summer of doing things with the pack (and giving Stiles relationship advice – both scarring and hilarious), filled with tension and anticipation between him and Jackson, it all comes to a head on the first day of senior year. It starts when Stiles walks into homeroom with a seriously impressive hickey on his neck and – according to all werewolves present – reeking of Derek. Then Danny’s ex decides he wants to try and angle for a fuck buddy arrangement, which, yeah, not happening. On top of that Scott and Allison are up to their usual tricks of being sickeningly cute. And in the background, Lydia is just casually eyeing up the student body.
In a way that Danny doesn’t quite understand, this winds up with Jackson yanking him into an empty classroom on the way to class, pushing him up against the door and kissing him like he’s oxygen and Jackson’s a drowning man. Danny certainly isn’t complaining though.
‘You’re mine’, Jackson hisses, breathing hot against his neck and rolling their hips together. ‘Mine.’ And Danny never expected to find Jackson’s jealousy hot, but it seems like he’s wrong a lot these days, because it totally is. He replies with another kiss, unable to keep himself from smiling as he does so.
The warning bell is what pulls them apart. Danny sighs. ‘We have Econ, and you know Finstock will put us through hell at practice tomorrow if we skip class.’
Jackson nods. ‘Yeah, I know.’ He sighs and steps back. ‘We should go.’
‘Yeah, we should’, Danny says. Neither of them move.
Then Jackson darts forward and shyly presses a kiss to Danny’s cheek, like they weren’t just grinding up on each other a minute ago. He blushes, and Danny knows this is Jackson’s way of saying all the things that have gone unsaid this summer – knows that at the moment, this is all he’s going to get.
He’ll take it. For now.
So, he opens the door and nudges Jackson with his shoulder. ‘Come on, let’s go to class. I’ll even let you tell people that you really are everybody’s type.’
Jackson bursts out laughing, long and carefree. And yeah, Danny knows he’s never going to hear the end of this… but it’s totally worth it.