So, yeah, that happened. Stiles gets home after all of it, falls in bed, and presses her face into her pillow. For a moment, she wants to just scream. Actually, no, forget that. She's had a scream building in her throat for hours (feels more like days, but whatever), since the first moment she'd scrambled onto the lacrosse field and seen Peter with Lydia. It started clawing its way up her throat, determined to get out, but looking into Peter's eyes (into the Alpha's eyes) had frozen it in her throat. She wouldn't scream in front of him. She'd shout, rage, panic, but she would not scream. She's spent months being snapped at and glared at by Derek fucking Hale. She is not prey and, god, it's a good thing no one's writing this down somewhere. Her abuse of italics would probably land her in some kind of grammar-induced war crimes court.
The thought helps. Stops the scream. Lets her shudder it out and scramble beneath the covers. She doesn't care if every wolf in every state can smell the fear radiating off her, she is not going to let it out. She is fine.
She's not the one lying in a hospital bed. She doesn't have the right to feel this way. Not when she left Lydia on that field, covered in blood, alone with no one to help her.
Stiles doesn't scream, but maybe she kind of sobs a little. She's allowed that much, right?
Sometimes, she wakes up and she can hear Peter's voice. A quiet, seductive whisper that turns her stomach and makes her shiver at the same time. "What a wolf you'd make," he says, sounding so real, so close she can feel his breath against her skin, even if he's nothing more than an echo now. "Resourceful, smart, you've been such a help to Derek." His chuckle makes her retch. "It's quite a wonder he can't see it, but then again, he always was so terrible with women."
His fingers walk along her arm, turning the softest flesh toward him, and she yanks back. So violent that she almost falls out of bed.
She's not alone, but she won't turn her head. Won't look at him. She knows it's Derek standing there. Her Dad isn't nearly that good at lurking and he'll never touch Derek in the guilt-ridden brooding department.
"You're in the wrong room, jackass," she mutters, rolling over and away from him.
"Get out." She puts the pillow over her head. "Now."
He goes, but not before he stops by her bed. She can feel his damn eyes staring at her and, god, how is this her life?
Biting her lip so hard she tastes blood, Stiles shuts her eyes and waits.
He lets the window thud shut when he goes. It's probably supposed to be an apology.
The really fucked up part is that, as apologies go, it really sort of is.
She visits Lydia. Curled up in her ugliest, rattiest sweats (and, god, you have no idea how hideous those are) Stiles grabs her notebook, her good pen, and stakes position across the hall from the room. It's as far as she can go.
Every time she tries to get go in, she just can't open the door. The nurses must think she's completely nuts because of the way she freezes. She strides up to the door, grabs the handle, and just stops. She can't turn it, can't even think to try, and nothing she says or thinks changes it.
"You can go in, honey," one nurse says. She's older than Scott's mom and, Stiles thinks, she might be the grandmother of a classmate. Round-cheeked, with calloused, firm hands, the little woman lays a hand on Stiles' back and rubs just once. It's kind of embarrassing the way that Stiles sobs a little and leans into the contact, but not half as much as the subtle alarm that comes into the nurse's eyes. "Or not," she says, steering Stiles away from the door. "You just sit right over here in your chair and you let it out."
Stiles isn't sure, but maybe, she thinks the nurse knows what happened somehow. That's stupid, because she's okay with it now, but maybe nurses have trauma-dar or something. She should ask Scott's mom sometime when she isn't freaking out about pretty much everything.
Well, not everything. Just everything Lydia. Oh, and apparently Derek is like a master werewolf now or whatever the hell it's supposed to be. So, you know, that's not worrying like at all. Especially the part where he's still stalking the hell out of her. Though, yeah, at least he does it from somewhere other than her bedroom.
At least she thinks so. Which, again, is not worrying at. all.
"I'm okay," she says, scrubbing her face with a worn sleeve. "It's just hard to see her like that."
The nurse nods, smiles, and looks like she's not believing a word of it. That's okay. Dad's still pissed at her about the Lydia thing, so he's totally buying it, and Scott hasn't even noticed yet (and that's okay, really, because he is so bad at worrying that it's just better this way), same goes for Allison, and hell, most of her teachers barely know her name. So, even if one nurse worries, she figures she's still going to come out on top.
Okay, maybe more like the middle, but she's allowed to be a little hypocritical about her all. It's relief that no one seems to notice (it is), but it's frustrating too. She's okay, but she got kidnapped by a crazy, nurse-killing, friend-chomping werewolf and no one notices anything?
"Stiles 1, Beacon Hills, zip."
Kicking off her shoes, Stiles rolls onto her stomach and fumbles around for her notebook.
"Wouldn't say that."
She overbalances and would fall, except a hand grabs her jeans and tugs her back. Going by the voice, it's a familiar hand.
"Aren't you supposed to be out chewing on the local delinquent population?" Notebook tucked safely beneath her, Stiles shifts to look over her shoulder at Derek. He's standing at her side, looking down at her, and it's totally not fair how hot the guy is. Jackass. "And Harris deciding to make my educational life hell does not qualify me for membership in that particular group."
The bed dips and, holy god, she rolls onto her back and scrambles away when Derek perches on the edge. He stops, looking at her, and she glares at him. "What the hell are you doing? Because, yeah, so not interested in the whole 'join me or die' thing you guys keep rocking."
It's out before she realizes it, but she still claps a hand over her mouth anyway. She knows her eyes must be wide and if her heart sounds as loud to him as it does to her...shit. Shit. SHIT.
"I did not say that," she says, up and off the bed. "You didn't hear that."
Except she saw his eyes flash for a split second. Saw the way they went red before he got it under control.
Interest or anger. She's not sure which one it is, but she's not interested either.
She closes her eyes and nods. "Threatened. Offered. Whatever you want to call it. Mostly I was too busy going blind with terror to worry the finer points of communication."
Picking her notebook off the bed, she makes tracks for her computer. It's not much distance, but staring at the screen is a welcome escape. Especially when she can feel herself starting to shake.
Derek shifts on the bed. "Stiles..."
"M'fine," she mutters, typing furiously. Chem notes. She's already typed them up once, but what Derek doesn't know, right? "Look, whatever it is you want, just hurry up, okay? My grades get any worse and I can forget a shot at a scholarship."
Which is actually true. Most days, she doesn't care though, so she's almost curious to find out how that reads to Derek.
Oh, Alpha voice.
She makes herself grin. "You know, you sound like my dad when you do that. Well, a little grouchier, maybe, but still like my Dad." She yelps when she turns and he's crouched right by her chair. "Oh god, can we not do this? I am not some refugee from a Lifetime special and while you are totally ripped enough to be one of those heroes, I am not doing this."
Derek surprises her by grinning. "God, you must've been hell on him."
"Well," she shrugs, "My shocking lack of anything approaching a survival instinct did make its presence known. As did the never-ending melodrama that is Scott and Allison's relationship." Pausing, she makes a face. "No, melodrama's not the right word. They're too sickeningly functional for that."
She shrugs. "Either way, he was not a happy puppy when he left."
The memory of Peter's fingers, lazily walking their way over her bare arm, comes back and makes her shudder. Revulsion leaves a bitter taste in her mouth and she looks away.
"To be fair, I wasn't turning cartwheels either."
She jumps when Derek's fingertips brush the skin of her neck. She guesses the touch is meant to be comforting, but he yanks it back when she moves.
"I'm sorry," he says, and it's so strange to hear that coming from him. Even stranger to see him looking at her like he is. Like he's worried about her or something.
"Yeah, well, it wasn't your fault you got kidnapped." If she ignores the part where he stole Scott's phone just in case that is. "But if it makes you feel better--apology accepted."
He stands up. "It doesn't, but we're going to work on that."
Stiles blinks, but before she can argue, she's alone.
"How about that too, huh?" she asks the empty air. "Can we work on that too? God, werewolves are annoying."
Should have just taken the bite, she decides, since she's pretty much spending puberty lying to her Dad to cover the pack's ass anyway.
Her father's eyebrows creep up at the sight of her, in the doorway, holding the paper bag and smiling her most 'gee, I'm totally normal, Dad, and in no way freaking out over being kidnapped by a crazy Alpha werewolf who didn't technically touch anywhere he wasn't supposed to, but don't kill me when you see the water bill this month because I have taken a fuckton of showers today' smile.
Well, no, technically it's more of a harmless, everyday kind of a grin and it says too much about her life that she's literally cataloged them depending on what lie she needs to tell.
Should have just taken the bite, she decides, since she's pretty much spending puberty lying to her Dad to cover the pack's ass anyway.
"Yep, dinner," she plunks the bag down on the desk and opens it up. "And, for once, you get something with actual fat content." Mostly because she's feeling a little guilty—okay, a lot guilty—at lying to him all the time, but well, here she goes again. "I wanted to see how the thing with Isaac was going? You find him yet?"
Dad's glee at breaking his diet vanishes in the instant suspicion of her expressing any interest in a member of the opposite sex. He gives her a look and Stiles groans. It's embarrassing how much of a relief it is, feeling this little bit of normal, but she enjoys it anyway as she says, "Ew, no, Dad, not like that. It's just--" she shrugs. "He didn't do it and his Dad is gone and--" Stiles shrugs and focuses on the bag again. "If you guys find him, he's going to need someone to talk to." She imagines herself trying to explain the part where he's also a werewolf and, maybe, having someone around in the know might keep people from getting limbs torn off.
She doesn't actually do that, though, because Stiles lives in the real world where teenagers who start talking about werewolves get taken to see very nice medical professionals. Stiles isn't in the mood to add a new pill to her regimen so she just pulls out her own burger and looks at him.
God, she wishes she could tell him. Except, then, she'd have to talk about the part where she's nearly been killed by werewolves twice in the past couple of weeks and, oh yeah, the first time she sort of traded herself for Lydia.
Except that goes hand in hand with her saying, "See, Dad, I did a good thing, right? I didn't abandon her. I didn't." And, yeah, no
There are some levels of pathetic that she is just not quite ready to embrace.
Instead, she just smiles. "And I've been kind of riding the diet thing a little too much lately, so a reward is totally in order."
Her dad grins at that. "You might have a point there."
"I frequently do," Stiles says. "Pity nobody ever listens to me." She grabs up the burger and bites down.
She chews, swallows, and looks at him. "Yeah?"
"Are you okay?" Her father looks at the burger in his hands, then at her, and there's (oh god) real concern in his eyes. "I know I was a little rough on you at the hospital with Lydia when this first happened--"
"It's okay, Dad," Stiles says. She breathes deep, wiping her hands on a napkin. "You were right. I should have been there for her and I wasn't." She closes her eyes. Bad plan. Very bad plan. When she closes her eyes, she sees Isaac, wolfed out, snarling and she can feel her back against the wall and, holy god, she is going to die doing this, isn't she?
She breathes deep again. It's been years since she had one of those attacks and, fuck, she isn't going to start now because of Derek freaking Hale and his Pack of Misfit Toys. Toy. Whatever. She's pretty sure he's not going to stop at one.
"I'm okay, Dad, I swear." She pushes her burger aside. "I'm just worried about Isaac."
Her dad smiles and reaches across the desk to brush his thumb over her cheek. "I know," he says. "You're growing up, kiddo, and stuff like this? I don't think I had much to do with it, but--" he clears his throat and sits back. "I'm proud of you, Stiles, and she would be too."
Stiles doesn't eat much after that. She just sort of picks at the burger and watches her Dad enjoy his. It feels good, because she knows what she's doing after this, and wow, guilt much?
Which is to say she totally leaves the station and hops into her jeep. There's another bag sitting on the passenger seat. It's totally last night's leftovers (lasagna ala Stiles) but its real food and somehow, she doesn't think Isaac's getting much of that at present.
Sucking down a breath, she grabs her phone, thumbing through until she hits 'CreeperWolf' under the Cs. It used to be his actual name, but this fits. (As does the Darth Vader ringtone she's totally tagged him with. Creepy mouth breathing? Oh yeah, totally perfect analogy right there)
"What is it, Stiles?"
"Where's our favorite Kimble hiding out?"
Stiles rolls her eyes, putting the jeep in gear and backing out of the parking lot. "You know, Derek, you kind of suck at this covert thing. Since I do not give any kind of damn where you are, and I know where Scott is," probably making out with Allison (ew) somewhere, "there aren't many choices as to who I'd be asking about. Now, where?"
"With me," Derek says, annoyed.
It is a fucking good thing she is driving right now. It really is. Do you know why it is a fucking good thing she is driving right now? Well, it is a fucking good thing because if she were not, she would be banging her head against the steering wheel in such fashion that her last brain cell would totally give up the ghost and then Scott would be dead in a week.
Seriously, driving is the best.
"Great. So, a little elaboration on your actual location? Probably going to be a good idea," Stiles tucks the phone against her ear, breathes a prayer of thanks that, yes, this is a small town which rolls up the sidewalks after six pm, or she would be so screwed with the traffic right now. "I'm trying to feed him, you idiot, and I can't do that if I can't bring him the food."
Derek's silent for a minute. It is a literal minute because Stiles stops at a light and counts off the seconds so as not to floor it.
Impatient? Her? Nooooo...
She's about to make a snotty comment that would definitely get her slammed into a wall the next time she sees him (and wow, they need to review the whole 'you do not do that ever' thing again, because he's going to forget like he always does), but then she decides to be the bigger person.
"Also, I may need to talk to you about something."
Isaac jumps up when she walks in. His eyes go right to the bag in her hand. "Is that--"
She's not going to lie. Her heart totally like jumps in her throat a little when she sees him, even though he stays completely with the human and doesn't move from where he's standing.
"Yeah." Stiles scuttles forward, drops the bag on the nearest flat surface, then backs up slowly. "Is there somewhere you can reheat it? I, uh, took longer than I thought to get here."
It's probably not a good idea to mention the part about the police station, but Isaac gives her a look anyway.
"About the other night--"
"Trust me," she waves a hand, "You? Did not try and kill me nearly as bad as some were--" Derek appears in a doorway and Stiles clears her throat. "We're good, dude."
Isaac nods, smiles, and picks up the bag. "And this? Thanks."
She shrugs. "I always make too much."
Derek's waiting when she leaves Isaac to the battle of the Tupperware lid. "You wanted to talk to me?"
"No," she says, keeping her distance. "I said I needed to. Wanting does not enter into this at all." And she is not thinking that either. Any other time, maybe, but the last few weeks? The bloom is officially off the rose. "I can't believe I'm doing this." Which is totally the truth. She can't. She can't even believe she's doing this a little bit, but she's here and she has to be. "When Scott turned, his asthma went away. That's like, typical right?"
Derek frowns (more than usual), but he nods. "Yes, why?"
"Uh, well," she puts her hands into her pockets. "There's someone I think you can help. I mean, that is, well, she has epilepsy--"
And the last thing she wants to do is help Derek. Beyond the last thing, actually, but this isn't about him. Erica isn't exactly a friend. Stiles is totally godawful at being somebody's friend (see Lydia) and while Scott's too clueless to know better, Erica probably would. So, yeah, not friends, not even remotely friends, but Stiles can maybe help with this.
It won't help what happened to Lydia. Not even a little bit, but if there are cosmic scales somewhere, maybe this is kind of a start?
Yeah, probably not, but whatever.
She's actively helping Derek turn someone. Willingly. There has to be something wrong with her. Stockholm Syndrome or something.
God, she can't believe she's doing this. Like, really can't believe it. She's actively helping Derek turn someone. Willingly.
There has to be something wrong with her. Stockholm Syndrome or something. Curling her fingers tight around the steering wheel, she stares up at the hospital and opens her mouth. She's going to tell Derek to forget it. Erica's tough. She can handle this and a bunch more than this. She'll be fine without the Bite. She will. Yeah, Stiles is going to tell Derek to forget it.
Except she looks at him and says, "Scott's mom is on shift tonight. We'll need to be careful."
He stares back at her and how is it she drives him everywhere? He has his own car for crying out loud. She starts to complain about that too, but the words die before they can come out and she looks away.
"What did he say to you?"
Stiles knew the question was coming. She's oblivious at times (all the time), but she saw that one coming. It sort of just sits there now, every second she's in the same space as Derek, waiting for him to ask it.
It's the opposite of everyone else. With Scott and Allison, there are no questions at all.
She's still not sure whether to be relieved or bitter about that.
She unbuckles her seatbelt and hops out of the jeep. "We should probably hurry. I think her Mom works nights, but someone will be coming."
Derek's behind her when she turns around. Close. Her yelp is closer to a shriek than she'll ever admit and she pinwheels backwards, falling against the jeep. Embarrassed, she closes her eyes and mutters, "Please don't do that. Ever. Please."
Yeah, she's never going to admit just how pathetic her voice sounds about there. Not. Ever. In fact, didn't happen and you'll never prove otherwise.
A hand brushes her sleeve, like Derek's not sure what to do, but when she risks opening her eyes again, he's out in front of the jeep.
Stiles straightens up, fixes her shirt, and nods a little. If Derek weren't a wolf, she's pretty sure he wouldn't hear the quiet little thank you she mutters, but he is and he does. He looks at her and, god, he looks sad.
"Don't look at me like that," she snaps out, hurrying past him. "I'm fine."
She's actually been here before when Erica had a seizure. She rode with her in the hospital once and stayed with her while they waited for her parents. It helps with finding her and, plus, lately, she's spent an embarrassing amount of time in this hospital so its not that hard to keep out of sight while they do it.
Well, it wouldn't be if she didn't have Derek right at her back. She can feel him staring and, god, can this just be over now? Like, really? She's used to being ignored, being invisible, and its kind of the way she prefers it. She can do what she wants, what she needs to help Scott, and she's really good with that. She's never, ever been comfortable around Derek (for reasons which do not need exploring at this juncture when the idiot and his stupid sensitive nose are right fucking there) but its worse now.
Since he's decided he's responsible for his uncle fucking with her head.
"Okay," she says, when she sees Mrs. McCall leave one of the exam rooms. "You're on. Don't forget, she needs the whole speech, okay? The curing her thing is great and all, but the crazy relatives and the hunters? They at least rate a mention, okay?"
Derek's staring at her when she looks at him and she rolls her eyes. "Look, we do not have time for this, okay? You need to go do your thing and I need to wash my brain out with bleach so I never, ever remember doing this."
He scowls and nods, but when he goes to brush by her, he stops and looks at her. "We are going to have a conversation about what happened. You know that, right?"
Her heart is pounding in her ears and she sucks down a breath, feeling panic fuzzing at the edges of everything. "No, we really aren't," she says and leaves.
He lets her go.
She makes it through the doors before she drops, sliding down the wall to hug her knees to her chest and hide her face against them. If she sobs a bit, well, she's had a rough day so she's completely allowed.
So, right, it works for Erica. Like, really works for Erica. Stiles isn't so sure about the Mean Girls makeover, but she can understand it. Erica's never gotten a chance to flaunt it before and, well, Stiles would totally do the same thing, so whatever.
Except, well, Scott freaks out. Like really freaks out to the point that Stiles does not think it wise at all to be telling him how Derek found Erica in the first place. So, instead, she plays loyal best friend and takes off to help him find Boyd before Derek does.
Well, she tries. Truth is, she's not sure what she's going to say to Boyd when she finds him. Really not sure. She thinks, maybe, she might tell him about Peter and all the shit that went down with him, but there's more to it than that.
Maybe she really does have some kind Hale-induced Stockholm Syndrome, but she kind of wants to tell him about Derek and his family. About what happened with the Argents and why Derek's so damn afraid and that part of her, the part that isn't still screaming about Peter, thinks having someone like Boyd in his pack might not be a bad idea.
Except then Erica finds her and kind of smashes her in the face like a lot.
For the record? OW.
She flicks through the contacts, comes up with Derek, and dials instead. When he answers, she snaps out, "I'm at Boyd's. Pick me up now." She pauses then adds, "Also you owe me for the repairs to my jeep."
Worse is the part where she wakes up in a dumpster. So, yeah, she stinks and her jeep's shot and ow. She presses a hand to her face and is relieved it comes away free of blood.
It's not much, but hey, it's something and she'll take something. It's more of a break than she's been getting lately. Pulling herself up and out of the dumpster, she gives herself a moment to curse and curse creative. It feels good, it feels honest, and maybe a few tears squeeze their way free.
Then she sucks it up, squares her shoulders, brushes something truly disgusting off her jeans and goes back to her jeep. Her dad's taught her some of working on a car, she's spent more than a few hours underneath the hood of hers, but her head is still spinning and she's pretty sure this would be beyond her anyway.
She grabs her phone, but texting Scott is out. He'd have to explain to his Mom why he needs the car and "a werewolf trashed Stiles' jeep and smashed her in the face with a part of it" is probably not going to cut it.
But that's fine. It wasn't him she had in mind. She's just mad enough that she doesn't care anymore. She flicks through the contacts, comes up with Derek, and dials instead. When he answers, she snaps out, "I'm at Boyd's. Pick me up now." She pauses then adds, "Also you owe me for the repairs to my jeep."
Derek starts to answer, but she hangs up on him. Too bad it's not a landline. She'd appreciate being able to slam something right about now.
When Derek pulls up, Stiles is sitting in the open door of her jeep, peering at her head in the mirror, and she is absolutely, totally, thoroughly Pissed. Off.
"What the hell happened to your face?"
"Your damn pack happened to my face and to my jeep." She's got concealer in here somewhere. Allison's, maybe. She finds it. "I so need to cover this up. Dad will freak." Hopping out of the jeep, she slams the door and looks at him. "You're paying for the tow truck too."
She gets into his car before he can protest, asking, "So, you've got to tell me, do I have some kind of scent marker or something? Here is Stiles, feel free to abuse the fuck out of her. Because if I do, I need to take care of it like now." Stiles opens the tube and leans over to look in the mirror. "God, right about now I am so regretting being complete crap at this stuff."
"Let me see."
Before she can stop him (and oh, they are so having a conversation about this) Derek's fingers take careful hold of her chin and turn her to face him. Big shock that he's frowning, really, except its different.
"You have got to stop looking at me like that," she says, grumbling to cover the heat rising in her cheeks. Derek's staring at the bruise, fingertips gently brushing the skin, and holy god, she is so not prepared for a guy that isn't Scott (and therefore, completely devoid of any sexual attraction whatsoever) being this close. This close and this hot. "Seriously. I am not--whatever the hell you think I am."
"And what do I think you are?" he asks, voice different. Like everything is different with Derek lately. Or maybe she's just hearing it differently. Whatever. She's not sure and she's not going to ask.
"Beats the hell out of me. You're not exactly Mr. Open and Honest." Though, really, after his uncle, Derek's just not as terrifying as he used to be. Perspective being what it is.
Derek huffs something that might be a laugh. Except he's Derek and if he laughs, the world ends in truly violent and horrifying fashion, so not a laugh. Just a cough. Tickle in the old wolf-throat. Whatever.
Stiles closes her eyes and tries not to breath in. God, he smells good. Like really good and she does not want to be thinking about that like at all. Ever. Totally not. "Are you done yet?" she asks. "It's a bruise, not a brain tumor."
"What did she hit you with?" he asks, and, okay, that sounds like anger in his voice.
"Car part. Not sure which one. And, oh god, sorry about the smell. She kind of left me in a dumpster." Stiles pauses, then says, "I'm guessing you didn't mention just how you found out about her, huh?"
"I didn't." Derek sounds actually regretful about that.
"Good. Otherwise, I'd really be regretting the entire thing right now. If she whacked me in the face and locked me in a dumpster and knew? I might consider some serious grudge holding." Stiles squirms backward in the seat, needing distance between his fingers and her face. "Actually, who am I kidding, I'm doing that anyway."
Derek sits back, hand on the steering wheel, and waits until she's put the concealer on. It doesn't really do much at all, but Stiles is hoping it'll be better before her Dad gets off shift. Either that or she can ask Allison for some tips. Family of werewolf hunters must have some tips about disguising injuries. Hell, with some concealer and a little blush, Allison could probably cover up an arm being missing. "Send me the bill for the repairs."
"Thank you," she says, mollified. She pockets the tube. "And, yeah, sorry about reeking all over your car."
"It's fine," Derek says. "And she won't do that again."
"Oh god, don't like--" Stiles pauses. She has no idea what he does with his pack. Like at all, but she can probably guess. Her back is intimately familiar with pretty much every wall in her room and not for fun reasons either. "Don't be you. Just, you know, point out hitting people is bad and locking them in dumpsters is worse. And put the eyebrows down, you know what I mean. Your idea of getting my attention involves tossing me into the nearest wall and I'm just a mere mortal. God only knows what you do to them." She frowns. "And that's not fair, by the way. Isaac's totally been through enough without you going all snarly at him."
It's not exactly the longest sentence she's ever said to him, but she still blushes when her brain catches up to her mouth. "Uh, not that I'm telling you how to like run your pack or anything." She sits back and folds her arms across her chest. The tow truck is pulling up and she probably should have just gotten a ride with them. "Nope, not even a little bit."
"Good," Derek says, opening his door. "Stay here. I'll talk to the mechanic."
"Hell you will," she says, getting out before he can. "It's my jeep."
"And my responsibility," he says, catching up. "Now shut up, Stiles, and let me do this."
It's like waving a flag in front of a bull, but for once, Stiles lets it go. If only because Derek stops her and looks down with something that might be a real, honest grin. "You stink."
She squeaks and climbs back in the car.
Derek isn't like sniffing her right now so he's still got a ways to go before he hits Peter levels of dirtybadwrong.
Derek takes her home. Less thrilling than it sounds since she pretty much forgets him at the door. Dad's on shift still, so she slams the door behind her and starts shedding clothes at the stairs. They really do stink and she gags a little when she hauls her shirt over her head.
She actually feels a little bad when she lefts the shirt drop to the floor. Derek has to smell that all over his car and with those extra special werewolf nostrils of his, that's going to be some grade a large disgusting right there.
Stiles is on the verge of thinking even he doesn't deserve that when she catches a clue. She's just gotten smacked in the face and locked in a dumpster by someone she was trying to help. Someone acting on Derek's orders, whatever those might have been, and she's still a little pissed off about that.
She's going to be for a while. She can't forget about any of it. Not when Lydia's there every time Stiles turns around, putting herself back together and trying to make sense of what the hell happened to her. Stiles wants to help, but it's not her secret to share and, besides, she's not sure she can talk about it. Peter Hale sits in her memory like he's burned himself into it and Derek's constant looks just doesn't help matters.
Turning on the shower, she climbs beneath the too-hot spray and scrubs off quick. When she's done, dries off as quickly as she can and wraps herself up in a towel before dashing to her bedroom.
Where she promptly shrieks and pinwheels back, only just remembering the part where she's one towel away from being naked in the same room as Derek Hale. "SERIOUSLY?" she yells, heedless of who might hear. Her neighbours are all like three days older than God with serious aversions to hearing aides, anyway. Nobody's going to hear. Good thing too, she's hitting serious pitch with this one. "You thought it would be a good idea to wait in here while I showered?"
Derek looks up from her desk. "You've been researching my family?"
She doesn't blink. "NAKED, Derek. I could have been NAKED." She's on the verge of like seriously freaking right now (there's a parallel of apples and trees, but Derek isn't like sniffing her right now so he's still got a ways to go before he hits Peter levels of dirtybadwrong) and he's just sitting there.
"You aren't," he says, flicking a look over her.
"I'm wearing a towel. In what universe does this count as okay?" She stomps past him as much as she can in bare feet. One hand stays firmly wrapped up in the towel as she starts digging through her underwear drawer. "That, by the way, is not an invitation to some ridiculous lecture about wolves and pack dynamics. I am so not interested and, besides, not a wolf and not in a pack. I am covered by neither which makes me an underage, half-naked teenage girl and this is like a Chris Hansen wet dream so I'm just going to grab clothes, go get dressed, and when I come back you can drop me off at the mechanics, pay the bill like a good little Alpha, and then get the fuck out of my life."
Until he needs information again. Like, really, she doesn't see the pattern there? For a guy who hates her to infinity, Derek sure as hell has no problems asking for her help.
"Also, no, we are not having 'that conversation' so forget that one right now." Grumbling to herself, Stiles opens her closet and promptly shuts her eyes.
Her dress. She'd forgotten it was in there. Seeing it now, even that quick glimpse, has her blood running cold and her heart pounding in her ears. She remembers Lydia and Allison throwing dress after dress at her until they'd settled on this one, white with a chocolate brown ribbon around the middle that Allison had sworn brought out her eyes.
Peter had agreed.
She's only halfway paying attention as she opens her eyes. "He was at the store." She'd forgotten about that. About the way he'd drifted into her little huddle with Allison and Lydia, appearing behind her in the mirror to offer a 'random' opinion.
Her chair creaks as Derek gets up. "Who? Peter?"
"Uh huh," Stiles agrees. She reaches out for the dress, seeing the rip where Peter had hauled her to her feet and away from Lydia, a smear of dirt where she'd slipped and fallen in the process. "He liked the bow."
She's shivering now, shaking really, but she has the presence of mind to turn around and away from it. "Get rid of it," she says, going for her dresser and a pair of jeans. "Burn it or something. I don't care. I just--it needs to be gone, okay?"
Derek's watching her, she can feel it, but he doesn't argue. Not that she would have cared if he had. She just wants the damn thing gone. It and everything else that happened that night.
So much so that she makes it all the way back to the bathroom before she drops to her knees and throws up. She loses track of the towel in the process, hopes on some level that Derek's smart enough to stay out, but doesn't care either way. She just throws up and throws up until she's slumped against the toilet bowl, eyes closed, tears working their way out of her eyes.
"I just want this to be over," she says, hoarse and tired. "Please let it be over."
She waits a little while longer before she dares to try getting up. When she does, she fixes the towel, brushes her teeth, and flushes the toilet. It's all the little, normal things from there. Like nothing happened at all. She puts on her clothes, brushes out her hair, wishes it were long enough to braid, but settles for it being a halfway curly mess around her face.
"Should just shave it," she grumbles, going back to her room for shoes. "Easier that way."
Derek's still there, but the dress is gone. It's not a complete victory, but it's close enough. She grabs up her keys and another red hoodie (red's her favorite, okay?) and looks at him.
"Not quite." Derek tosses the concealer at her. "You washed it off and, trust me, you don't want to know."
"Sorry, already seen." Stiles turns around and heads downstairs. "Trust me, Derek, the cold, ugly truth is not a stranger in the Stilinski household." Thinking of all the lies she's told her father since this all got started, Stiles sighs and admits, "Well, except for the days when it is, but that's not a big deal." She looks at Derek. "Just around the full moon or when creeperwolves come skulking into my bedroom at night."
At least, he has the good grace to look embarrassed about that one.
Okay, not really, but she can pretend.
It's typical, you know. Right when she's finally, finally having her first real good moment in weeks is when the whole thing goes to hell and she gets to watch her first murder. Yippee.
For the record, Stiles hates mechanics only slightly more than she hates Derek Hale. And she's serious on that one. Sure, the mechanics probably only get an edge because she's had to put up with their crap longer. Derek's caught up pretty well for someone who hadn't even been growling at her for a year yet. She's sure that, in time, he'll overtake the mechanics in fine style and do all wolfkind proud, but for now, she hates the mechanics more. Even this one who isn't exactly hard on the eyes (yum, actually).
"Twelve hundred? For a starter? Are you seriously kidding me right now? There is no way it should cost that much!" Except, of course, she's forgetting about that convenient little perk of driving while dickless and visibly female. That's guaranteed to rack her up some extra charges. Too bad it's not in direct proportion to her cup size, for once being ridiculously small would help matters.
"Yeah, well, it's not just your starter, honey," he says, keeping right on working. She's sure that's a health and safety violation, but hey, she's just the girl, right? Not like she would know anything. Not like she and her Dad haven't spent pretty much at least one Saturday a month hunched over her baby, going over the engine until she knows it as well as she knows herself. Nah, she's just a girl and ickle things like engines are totes beyond her.
Okay, she might need to ease up on the sarcasm a little. That was harsh even for her. Not that she regrets it really, because he is smirking at her in a way that makes her want to go for a crowbar. Like, seriously? Really? How hard up is he if she looks good?
"Right, so not just the starter. What else then?"
"Your whole exhaust system is shot," he shrugs. "Parts and labor, it's going to run you at least that much. Maybe fifteen hundred or more."
At least, huh?
Stiles bites the inside of her cheek to hide the smirk. "Actually it's not going to run me a thing." She turns away when the grin won't quite settle, because oh god, she really, really wishes she could be a fly on the wall when he delivers that seriously padded twelve hundred dollar repair bill to Derek.
The work behind her stops. "Huh?"
"I'm not paying for the work." Stiles turns around and smiles sweet as pie. "The guy with the growl that dropped me off? He is."
He blinks. "The big—"
You know, there's something completely awesome about being able to put Derek to good use for once.
"Yep." God, she wishes she had hair long enough to flick, because this is cause for some serious Lydia imitation right now. "I'll just wait out here, twiddling my lil' ol' fingers and thinking about manicures or something."
He's still staring at her when she closes the door and screws up her face at the gunk on the handle. It's disgusting. "Seriously?" she calls back. "Do you ever clean or is this place just one massive EPA violation waiting to be cashed in?"
She wonders if inspectors get bonuses paid by the fee size. She's tempted to give them a call and ask.
The thought makes her pull out her phone. She should probably text Scott or whatever. See if he and Allison made good on their plans or not. To be honest, she's not sure that she really cares at the moment. It's a little bit of a relief that Scott and Allison are being, well, them. At least one thing is going just the way it always should, but Stiles isn't sure that she cares either. She's still jumping at every turn and she's kind of had her fill of werewolves for a while.
That said, she is kind of tempted to stick her head back through the door and tell the mechanic to go nuts. Derek kind of deserves a massively inflated bill right now. It's such a fun thought it takes her a second to realize her fingers have pretty much lost all feeling.
It's typical, you know. Right when she's finally, finally having her first real good moment in weeks is when the whole thing goes to hell and she gets to watch her first murder. Yippee.
Lying paralyzed on the floor, fingers barely able to twitch out a call to 911, Stiles closes her eyes. She hears the sickening thud a second later. Not seeing it doesn't help much. She'll never ever forget the look on the guy's face and his voice—she probably should be grateful for the paralysis right now. It's probably the only thing keeping her from throwing up again and she's done way too much trauma-induced vomiting lately.
She presses her lips together, knows she'd be shaking if her muscles could cooperate, and tries not to cry. Sure, the guy was a complete creep and probably trying to cheat her, but he's dead and some thing killed him.
It wasn't a wolf. It was definitely not a wolf. A lizard? Snake?
Stiles opens her eyes and finds the thing staring through the door at her. She cries out, but can't scramble backward like her body's demanding. She pushes and begs her muscles, but her body just won't move.
The thing hisses back, teeth glistening with some kind of slime or venom or something, and she closes her eyes again. "Make it go away," she pleads in a whisper. "Please—just make it go away."
It doesn't. Not for a long time. Not until her fingers twitch and she's able to move. Which is weird. It doesn't hiss after that first time. It just sits there in the doorway, tail twitching, watching her with a strange look in its eyes.
If Stiles didn't know better, she'd think that maybe, just maybe, the thing was worried about her.
Which, uh, yeah, no? Big homicidal lizards do not worry about teenage girls. They just don't. Having hung out with a bunch of werewolves, Stiles is reasonably convinced she can call herself an expert on the matter.
It's not worried. It's not. Still, it doesn't move until she's sitting up and able to call for help.
Stiles doesn't move until long after it disappears, and even then she only gets up and turns her back on the whole thing. There's not much that can be done for the mechanic (and oh shit, she can't even remember his name. She is a horrible, horrible person. How do you witness a guy get squished and forget his name?) but she still calls 911 before she calls her dad.
She makes herself get up and move before she's ready. She has no idea what she's going to tell her Dad, but she needs to think of something and fast.
Oh god. This is going to be bad.
Some small part of her wants to tell Derek. How fucked in the head is that?
Sitting on the ambulance, Stiles picks at a hitch in her jeans and waits for her Dad. The thing about being the Sheriff's kid is the part where everyone worries about her and she knows that, right now, there's half a dozen different people watching every move she makes.
She pulls out her cellphone, staring at it absently. Some small part of her wants to tell Derek. How fucked in the head is that? The guy terrifies her (okay, used to. She's not sure what she'd call it now. Common sense, maybe? Either way, he's no Peter and that is a total good thing) and she wants to call him about the creepy lizard thing that just murdered someone in front of her.
She bites her lip. She is not calling that jackass. She is not.
She calls Scott instead. It's weird that he isn't her first thought. They've been BFF since, like, forever (She still remembers Scott's complete horror when he discovered that she was a girl and that meant they weren't the same.) and she's not sure what to do with the distance.
It's probably understandable. Ignoring the whole kidnapping thing (and, seriously, she hasn't even had a panic attack, much less wandered around the woods naked so she can totally stop co-opting Lydia's trauma right now) that she's been dealing with, Scott's still totally wrapped up in Allison and she's not jealous of that at all. Not even close. Nope.
Oh, hell, she totally is. Except, it's not that easy. It isn't. She just--it's not like she wants either one of them. (And yeah, after the Lydia crush of forever, Stiles is totally down with the bisexuality special unicorn status that is the wonder of her) She just...she wants to know what it feels like. What being wanted feels like. She's probably being incredibly pathetic right now, but that was the worst part of the whole thing with Peter. Ignoring the extreme creepiness of the whole fucking situation, there was (still is) a part of her that kind of enjoyed the whole thing. She's not stupid enough to think she mattered, but it's the closest she's ever come to someone looking at her and thinking 'yes' and she wants that. God, she wants that so bad she can taste it.
The worst part is she can't decide what's the actual worst part. On one hand, she'd have zero idea of what to do if someone actually did look at her that way, but on the other?
On the other sits the quiet certainty she's never going to know.
It's not even that depressing. Really. She just goes with it. When she pictures the future, there's Scott and Allison, Jackson and Lydia, Danny and some guy who is completely hot, adorable and gone on him (and if he hurts Danny, Stiles will end him and she's not even sure why she's that protective of the guy) while Stiles is just...
"Pathetic," she mutters.
She fires off a quick text to Scott when she hears someone call her Dad's name. Then she's looking up and, uh, right, teenager here. Tears prick at her cheeks and she starts babbling about the body just as soon as he comes into view.
Which is fine because as soon as he does, Dad's grabbing her up into his arms and holding her close. "Are you all right?" he demands into her hair. He's holding bar tight and she can barely breathe and that is completely perfect because her Dad's here and fuck the rest of it. Dad can fix anything.
Okay, maybe not, but she likes to believe that now and then.
"What happened, honey?"
Stiles runs through a few ideas in her head, a few possible explanations, and decides on sticking as close to the truth as possible. "I--I have no idea. I mean--I saw something, but it doesn't make any sense and the paramedics said maybe there was a hallucinogen in that stuff on the door handle..."
Dad steps back, settling his hands on her shoulders and looks at her in the eye. "Sweetheart, you're going to need to dial back the speed a bit and tell me that again. If you have a panic attack, I'm going to melt down and the guys will never let me hear the end of it."
The dry humor helps because, wow, Dad doesn't handle it well at all when she freaks. He just tends to pace and not deal and, yeah, she takes after him way more than either of them want to admit sometimes.
"There was some kind of slime on the door," she says. "It's gone now, I don't think they can get a sample." Mostly because she might've wiped it a bit clean. Just because she's telling her Dad a pretty close approximation of the truth does not mean she wants to drag him into the crazy shit that is her life these days. "Anyway I kind of just--couldn't move? I ended up on the floor and," shit, she can feel herself tearing up again, "The mechanic was calling out for help. He was just---" she closes her eyes and breathes. "I couldn't move. I couldn't help."
Her Dad hauls her close again for another one of his epic hugs (like, seriously, best hugs ever) and she goes willingly. She hates lying to him. Hates keeping anything from him. "I don't know what happened, Dad. I don't know." She lets herself cry a bit. It's supposed to be healthy, right? Emotional release and all that?
God knows she's got plenty of them needing to be released.
"You're upset," her Dad says, finally, pulling back. "Go home. We'll talk about it later. I need to spend some time here." He looks chagrined. "We're going to have to impound the jeep, honey, so you'll need to find a ride. Assuming that is, you don't need to get checked out?"
"Nah," Stiles shakes her head. "I did the whole walk the line thing. Reflexes were tested. They think I'm good. If I have any trouble though, I'm supposed to call 911 pronto." She wiggles her fingers. "Since these guys work, I'm good. I texted Scott. He said he can give me a ride."
And she can tell him about the crazy lizard thing.
"What were you doing here in the first place?" he asks and, maybe, she swears a little in the back of her head.
Like a lot.
"The starter on the jeep had a bad day," Stiles says. It's mostly the truth, even if she leaves out the part where it also made intimate acquaintance of her face.
Dad, at least, accepts that with a quiet nod. He smiles at her. "I'm glad you're all right."
Okay, so maybe she's never going to have what he and Mom did, but she's still her Dad's world and that's nothing to sneeze at.
She smiles back. "So am I."
She loves Scott, she does, but the part where her entire life's totally been sucked into his? That she does not love so much. It's a little worrying, in fact, when she realizes just how much time she spends dealing with Scott's drama.
Seriously, these days even her trauma is about Scott.
Her Dad waits with her until Scott picks her up. It feels completely stupid, being handed off like some kind of harlequin heroine (ha, as if. She is totally the plucky sidekick and she's woman enough to admit it) , but she lets them have their manly moment and doesn't even pout when she throws herself into the passenger's side seat.
Sure, she might pout a little until they're moving, but she's a teenager. It comes with the territory unlike her new scaly friend. Who dominates their conversation all the way back to the house and Scott's room.
Stiles feels guilty admitting it, even in her own head, but it's nice to have a break from all the relationship drama. She's sure all the corpses this thing's been leaving would appreciate their sacrifice.
"So, Isaac's dad, the mechanic...chances are, whatever killed one, killed the other, and that means my little scaly buddy is on a spree." Stiles kicks her feet up, tossing popcorn in the air. Scott, being the annoying jerk that he is, catches it out of the air and ignores the glare she tosses at him. "Questions are why and what the hell is he?"
"Some kind of shifter," Scott agrees. "But not a wolf."
"Nope, there were literal scales." She rolls onto her stomach, tugging the popcorn closer. "I'm guessing that the bestiary will have more." She's hoping. Truth is, they have no idea just how much Allison's grandfather knows, or how much the hunters have actually seen. She's hoping scaly dude is in there, but on the other hand, she's kind of hoping not. Werewolves are one thing, but the idea of more is a bit much for her to handle. Stiles has been doing the math on all of it and, at the rate they're going, there's not enough adderall in the world to keep her up to speed with this. "You should probably get dressed. We're going to be late for the game and Operation: Sick Freaks." Also known as their cunning plan for Stiles to launch her criminal career by breaking into the principal's office.
Well, no, technically she launched that years ago, but stealing candy from Dad's pocket isn't nearly as cool a story as stealing a bestiary from a bunch of hunters. It's not exactly Mission: Impossible, but it is Mission: Pretty Damn Precarious And Totally Awesome. Its too bad she can't put it and and Operation: Sick Freaks (heh) on her resume. She'd make a pretty hot Evil Overlord. (Okay, no, she'd be a massive dork about it, but shut up. She can dream.)
Scott throws his jersey at her head and she snickers to herself. "Seriously, man, you and Allison have no one to blame but yourselves for that one."
"I officially hate you," Scott grumbles, grabbing the jersey and throwing his gear into a bag. "Like, seriously, hate. you.."
"Nah, you don't." Stiles leans over the edge of Scott's bed, digging in her bag until she comes up with her surprise. "You love me. In fact, you're going to love me forever and a day because I am a genius." She drops the little plastic bag on the bed in front of her. The best part of Derek covering the repairs on her jeep is the fact she can totally afford to do this. "Disposable cellphones."
"Yeah, but Allison--"
"Oh my god, like for one second will you listen to me?" Stiles throws a pillow, glaring at him, even though it's kind of like getting mad at water for being wet. Scott totally can't help himself and she's had to accept that. Hence why she's actually been thinking about this. "I have a plan, Scott, and it is a totally awesome one. Granted, right now, the effectiveness of said plan is limited to the school day, but I am working on it." She pushes the phones toward him. "Seriously, Scott, my life may be pathetic, but I am not going I am not going to make it worse by playing go between with you two."
He sighs, looking a little hangdog about it all. "Okay, okay, plan?"
"You can't talk to each other in school, right?" Stiles says. "Well, in school, you'll use these. At the end of the day, you give them to me. In the morning, I dish them out again. It's not much, but it's something." And she doesn't have to break her neck running back and forth relaying messages like she'd been doing since their 'break up'. The sugar-sweet nothings she's been ferrying back and forth are going to put her on insulin for sure.
Scott looks at them and then grins. "Okay, you're right. You're kind of a genius."
"Glad we agree," she smacks his hand. "Now stay the hell out of my popcorn. I need to think and everybody knows popcorn counts as brain food." Between the creepy scaly lizard buddy, Lydia flipping out, and, well, her own flipping out, Stiles barely had enough time to contemplate Scott's werewolf melodramas as it was. She couldn't afford to be distracted right now.
"Yeah, well, think on the way," Scott says, tugging her up. "We're going to be late."
Grabbing her bag, Stiles tosses her popcorn a forlorn look. It was all nice, buttery, and perfect. Later it would be good (popcorn is always good) but not the sweet, magical goodness that was its current state.
"Correction: you're going to be late." Stiles frees herself long enough to steal a handful before Scott can get her out the door. "I'm not on the team and, therefore, I am totally free to show up whenever I want."
There's just enough cranky in her tone to realize she's actually a little annoyed. She loves Scott, she does, but the part where her entire life's totally been sucked into his? That she does not love so much. It's a little worrying, in fact, when she realizes just how much time she spends dealing with Scott's drama.
Seriously, these days even her trauma is about Scott. Which, yeah, is as bad as it sounds even though there is absolutely zero pining involved.
"Note to self," she mutters, following Scott out of the room, "Get a freaking life."
Naturally, the big potato-head doesn't notice.
She moves closer to the window, but carefully, like Lydia might fly through the glass and rip her head off.
The way her week has been going, that's entirely possible.
Truth is, Stiles likes going to Scott's games. She likes screaming herself hoarse on the sidelines, jumping up and down, and laughing with his Mom when they knock into each other and nearly fall over. There's something kind of normal about it that she misses. It's like having her own mom back, cheering while they'd watched her dad playing softball with the department.
Sure, sometimes she'd eat so much cotton candy that she'd get sick and throw up in the car on the way home, but Stiles kind of misses that too. So much so that she's reluctant to get up and palm the keys from Allison. She doesn't want to leave.
But she does, because Scott needs her and she can still hear the mechanic begging for help. Nobody deserved to die like that. Nobody. Not even a sexist jackass in love with his own pecs.
Some small, irreverent part of her brain points out 'hey, sound like anyone we know' but Stiles absolutely doesn't listen to that. She's got more important things to be thinking about, like not giving the whole game away when she walks past Allison. You'd think that would be the easy part, walk slowly past her friend, let Allison press the keys into her hand, but no, not Stiles.
She's sure that 'about to break into the Principal's office' is written all over her face. Mostly because, yeah, worst poker player ever. Still, she does pick up the keys from Allison without falling flat on her face, so that's something. She doesn't really want to think how smooth her exit is, but she gets out of there and heads for the school.
Stiles gets as far as the parking lot. Lydia is crying in her car.
She doesn't know why she notices, but she does. She sees the lights of Lydia's car, hears the soft sound of sniffling and she stumbles to a stop, torn. They need that book. They need the answers in there. Answers that can help Scott and help them with her new scaly buddy, but there's more than that.
There might be answers for her. Like maybe why Peter had brushed fingertips along her throat, scenting her like she was some kind of expensive perfume, and whispered the things he did. She wants to know why her and she needs that damn bestiary to explain it.
"Kill me," she'd begged. "Not her. It doesn't matter anyway."
He'd looked genuinely horrified by the idea. Said something about a tragic waste and hauled her upright.
Stiles blinks, finding herself back in the moment, staring at the crying Lydia and feeling sick to her stomach. She moves closer to the window, but carefully, like Lydia might fly through the glass and rip her head off.
The way her week has been going, that's entirely possible.
"Hey," she says, cautious. "What's--"
Lydia snaps out the words, sharp and tight, fingers clenched tight around the wheel and, holy god, that looks familiar. Stiles recognizes the tension that's tied every part of Lydia into knots and given the shadows lurking in her eyes.
"I can't do that," Stiles leans against the door, fingers pressing lightly on the glass. "Come on, Lydia. Open up." She's got a pretty good idea of what this is. She's been fighting it herself and she wants to ask about Peter. She wants to ask if Lydia remembers him biting her, but she won't. She's not exactly the most sensitive of people when it comes to the ordinary stuff. If she opens her mouth about this one, she can just imagine how it will go. "Look, if it's about someone seeing you cry--"
"Of course it is!" Lydia snaps and, wow, so Stiles doesn't even need to be a werewolf to know Lydia's lying. There are space aliens bopping around on Pluto who just rolled their eyes and muttered 'bullshit' in their completely vowel-lacking language.
"I don't know why," Stiles says, deciding to take the argument out of her. "Admittedly, I am totally the most virginal of bisexuals and, therefore, totally not good with the experience having, but I don't need to be to know that you are gorgeous no matter what you're doing. Crying included."
Which is true. Stiles is never going to be a supermodel, but she knows from Lydia. She's had a crush on her since, like, ever and has yet to see Lydia do anything where she didn't look like a million bucks.
Crying totally included on that list.
Lydia puts the window down and Stiles leans in. "Let me guess, this is about the dance? Did you remember something?" And she totally hopes not. At least one of them should be able to put that night behind them and move on.
"I don't know," Lydia whispers, scrubbing at her tear-streaked cheeks. "I don't know."
Stiles looks at her. "We should probably talk about that night." It's reluctantly said, but it's the truth. They need to talk about it. Except, yeah, she really needs to talk to Derek first (damn it). This involves him too, no matter how much she wants to pretend otherwise, and she can't just do an end run around him.
Plus, she has that whole larceny thing to deal with.
"I just...we can't talk right away." Stiles lays a hand on Lydia's. "There's someone else involved and I can't--there's so much going on here, Lydia. I can't even--" she pulls back, pressing her hands into her face. "You scared the hell out of me that night. I thought you were going to die and I couldn't help, he wouldn't listen, and oh god, you really don't want to remember any of this, I swear. Fuck. Look, just go home or go shopping, get your mind off of it for a while. I'll scare us up some of the good booze, talk to that person I need to talk to, and then we're going to get ourselves good and drunk before we pull an Oprah and talk it through, okay?"
Lydia looks at her. "Has anyone ever told you that you sound crazy?"
"Frequently," Stiles assures. "It's kind of old hat for me these days." She shrugs. "Don't worry, you kind of get used to it after a while.
She smiles. Lydia almost smiles back. "You know what happened, don't you?"
"Yes, no, maybe?" Stiles spreads her hands. "I know that doesn't make sense, but I was there and I'm still not sure of anything." She steps back and smiles. "So, yeah, alcohol, talk, just...later, okay?"
Lydia nods and starts her car. "Make sure it's good. If you bring cheap booze—"
"—my ass is toast," Stiles agrees. "Yeah, yeah, I know."
Turning around she dashes for the school. Okay, she sort of has a trauma-date with Lydia. What's next? Heart to hearts with Derek?
For the record? She really hates her life.
Seriously, fuck her life. Fuck her life to infinity.
"Breaking and entering," Stiles muses while digging through Principal Argent's desk at a frenetic pace. "You know, once that would have been, quite possibly, the most single-handedly awesome thing I've ever done."
Until, you know, werewolves. Now, going with Scott to rent a movie qualifies as freaking amazing since, yeah, she's hanging out with a creature of the night.
Okay, the hunters bit doesn't exactly thrill her and she's not throwing a tea party for her little scaly buddy anytime soon, but other than that? Oh god, so awesome.
Well, it would be, if she could freaking find anything. Huffing a breath of defeat, she drops down onto the desk chair and pulls out her phone.
Zip. Zero. Zilch. Anywhere else?
"Looking for something?"
For a second, just one, Stiles thinks she's totally busted and lets out a girlish yelp that totally plays into all the stereotypical gender bullshit that she will, some day, aggravate the hell out of college professors about (she may, or may not, be already planning her spreadsheets), but then her brain catches up with her yelp and she realizes who it is.
And promptly yelps again.
"Uh, Erica, hi?" Wary, Stiles gets up and backs around so that the chair is between her, the desk, and Erica, even though she knows it won't do a damn bit of good if Erica decides to go for broke. Or, you know, her throat.
Except, no, Erica takes a step into the office, just one, and stops. Like, full on hesitates, and Stiles has a feeling Derek's fingerprints are probably all over this somehow. She doesn't say anything, though, because this would be one of those times where she'd be inclined to babble and Stiles actually doesn't like it when she does that. She always regrets it later, feels stupid for half the stuff that came out of her mouth, and wow, she is not having one of those moments with a werewolf in the room.
Seriously, noses should not be that sensitive and, wow, she is having one of those moments and now is not the best time.
She glances at her phone, looking for a message from Allison, and there's nothing. Right. Of course, this would be how that would go. She breathes deep, tucking the phone away, and looks at Erica. "I'm guessing tall, dark, and growly is lurking in the shadows somewhere?"
Erica nods. "I'm supposed to—" she waves a hand to the door. "Uh, listen, he kind of told me about you. That you were the one who—you know, told him?"
So, yeah, Derek definitely followed up on that talk.
"Yeah, no big." Stiles runs a hand over her jeans, feels for the phone in her pocket, and its on vibrate. She'll know when the text comes in. There's nothing here anyway, no book, no answers, and what the hell, maybe Derek's come to share info.
And maybe pigs might fly, but hey, she needs something to think of that doesn't involve screaming at the top of her lungs.
"Seriously," she says, stepping out from behind the chair. "Let's just avoid hitting me with any car parts or, well, anything really, and we'll call it even."
Erica winces at that. "It sounds like a deal, but seriously? I am absolutely sorry about that. I kind of forgot you can't take a hit like we can." She means it too, genuinely sorry with the big eyes and the sad face, and its like kicking a puppy to hesitate.
Its enough to make Stiles squint with just a little suspicion. "Did he slam you into a wall or something? Because we talked about that and I thought I totally laid a good enough guilt trip on him..." She is actually a tiny bit of a genius with those. At least, her dad lets her think she is and that's probably a lot truer than she wants to admit.
"No, no," Erica shakes her head. "It's just—he pointed out that human allies aren't easy to come by. Especially ones that know what they're doing and you're—" she stops. "I'm not supposed to talk about that."
"Oh, no, please continue," Stiles says, falling into step with her. "I'm really finding this all fascinating. Tell me how Derek thinks I'm totally competent and is just too damn grumpy to tell me." And wow, is her heart racing right now? She feels like it probably should be racing right now, and that is way more annoying than she wants it to be. "Are there sparkly hearts involved? I feel like there should be sparkly hearts involved."
Nothing about Derek Hale (except those rare occasions of mind-numbing terror) should be making her heart race. Not one damn bit.
And, oh god, Erica can smell this. How much does she hate werewolves sometimes? Sometimes, it seems like Derek (and Peter) can smell everything she's feeling. Peter could and she shivers in revulsion with the memory.
Erica's face clouds, like she's confused, and Stiles wonders, for like thirty seconds, what it all must smell like. Her brain runs at breakneck speed most days, so the topic of thought can change pretty damn fast. If her emotions shift with it, a werewolf could be pretty damn confused by it all. She's almost tempted to ask, because maybe then she could figure it out herself.
She dismisses the idea with a huff of laughter. Nah, they could break out the finger-puppets and she still wouldn't get it.
Erica grins, visibly relieved by Stiles' smile. "I'm not saying a thing."
Figures. She probably wouldn't answer Stiles' question either.
They get a little farther down the hallway (they're heading for the swimming pool, and hey there's a mental image. Derek in a speedo. Yum.) before Erica stops and looks at her. "Your head, where I hit you, was it bad?"
Oh god, she can definitely smell it. Stiles really hates werewolves. Like, seriously, she can't even have a perfectly good fantasy without the whole world knowing.
"I might've seen double," Stiles shrugs, playing it cool. "But I got a ton of repairs done on the jeep at Derek's expense, so trust me, we're totally even."
Erica brightens up. "Awesome."
"So, uh, it's better right?" Stiles asks. "I mean, I know there's the whole hunters thing and, god knows, putting up with Derek can't be easy, but—it's better?"
They stop outside the pool doors, Erica twisting her hair around her finger like she used to and looking, well, less of the vamped up and a little more of the Erica that Stiles remembers. "Yeah, it is," she says. "I can't really even describe how it feels."
She ducks her head and laughs a little. "Sometimes, it gets away from me. You have no idea how easy it is to just get caught up in it. It's amazing. I guess I should probably be thanking you."
Thinking of the Argents and her new scaly buddy (and wow, she needs to find out what to call that thing), Stiles shakes her head. "I'd hold off on that if I were you." She goes ahead of Erica and finds Derek standing by the water. Fully clothed, damn it. "Derek."
"Stiles." He looks at her. His eyes narrow and, yeah, he's totally doing the werewolf 'look'. She's not stupid enough to think he's looking at her like that, but it's still pretty damn intense and she feels like she should be shifting from one leg to the other.
"I'm hurt," she says, sliding her hands into her pockets. "You don't call, don't visit, and now you turn up for an interrogation? Honestly, Derek, what kind of girl do you think I am?" Keeping casual, she curls her fingers around her phone just in case. Scott can't exactly come tearing off the field, but it doesn't hurt to have some kind of back up plan where the Hale family's involved.
Wow, that was kind of seriously unfair of her and, yet, she doesn't really feel the guilt. Which makes her feel worse.
She flinches and hopes he doesn't see.
Derek ignores the comment and he's not looking at her when she peeks, but that doesn't mean much. Derek misses very little, even if he comments on even less.
"Checking out the old stomping grounds?" she asks, getting a little unnerved by the silence.
This time, he flinches. She hit a nerve, but hell if she knows what one. She looks at him, not sure if she should ask or not. Probably not, but she knows from experience what pushing it down does. Sooner or later, it's coming back up and it's usually going to pick really shitty timing to do it.
That probably means she's going to end up running for her life from another Alpha.
Yay her life.
"Yeah," he says, finally. "Spent a lot of time here once."
"Swimmer," she says, realizing just how much sense that makes. "No teammates to cause problems, just you and the water."
His eyebrows rise a little, approval maybe? "Exactly."
"Also, you know, doesn't hurt that it helps you be your typical antisocial self." He glares and she bites her lip, forging ahead to say, "Just ask me already."
He almost smiles. "In a hurry?"
"Yeah, actually," she nods. "Surprising, I know, but I have somewhere to be. If I had to guess, you're here about my new scaly friend."
Derek turns to face her. "You actually saw it?"
For a second, she's confused. It takes another one to realize that some part of her is still waiting for him to ask about Peter. That part of her will always be waiting for that question, nerves on a razor's edge, breath caught in a painful knot in her chest. Usually, though, she ignores it better than this.
Sighing, she walks a few feet away. How much does it suck to be her. She's trying to stop herself from launching into a full scale panic attack and the only things she has to chose to think about are both pretty damn traumatic.
So, you know, neither one is going to help a whole hell of a lot.
She paces a few steps away, finally perching on one of the benches so she can stare at the water. She likes swimming, but she'll never make the swim team. "I should spend more time down here," she says, thoughtful. "Wouldn't hurt."
Tapping her sneaker against the floor, she makes herself say. "It sat on the floor and watched me. Yeah, I saw it. We didn't get formally introduced, but mostly because I don't speak big, scaly lizard monster."
The bench creaks a bit when Derek sits down beside her. She can't stop herself from edging a little in the other direction, even if she feels like she's kicking a puppy when she does. And, yeah, that's an analogy she won't be making again. Seriously, ever again.
"Sorry," she mutters. She tugs out her phone, staring at it, but Allison has yet to reply. No idea where to look next. Beautiful. "Guess I'm still a little freaked out."
When she steals a look at him, Derek is staring at the pool. His eyes are shuttered, closed off, and she can't even guess at why. He just looks wounded, maybe? Which is wrong, because he's Derek and, well, yeah, he's Derek.
Great line of reasoning there, Stiles. Really. True Stilinski genius.
Yeah, not even a little bit.
She wants to tell him that for all the threats and growls (seriously, growls), its okay. She knows he's not Peter. She knows he won't hurt her like that.
Except part of her doesn't. Part of her feels like a tiny little bunny (ugh) sitting next to the Big Bad Wolf and she's doomed.
Part of her is still terrified.
"It just sat there?"
She could kiss him for asking the question and breaking her out of that particular thought. It's too damn depressing to be having right now.
"It secretes some kind of paralytic toxin. I touched it on the door and I—froze. I just couldn't move. I don't really know how long I was there, but it just sat there and watched me." She shivers a bit, putting a death grip on her phone, and doesn't look at anyone. She knows Erica's nearby, she wouldn't let Derek out of her sight, and she knows that she's watching her too. "Sorry," she mutters. "I'm still a little messed up about it all I think."
She blinks when Derek's hand moves, like he's going to reach for her, then realizes she's disappointed that he didn't.
God, how fucked is that?
"What did it look like?"
Stiles tips back, staring at the ceiling. "Dark skin, maybe scales? Definitely rocking some fangs and seriously freaky eyes. Lizard on steroids basically. I think the toxin dripped from its claws and--" she thinks about what she told Scott. About how the thing had looked at her like it knew her.
She doesn't know how to tell Derek that one, but it's fine. It's not like she has a chance to explain anyway.
Not when Erica lets out a little noise and Derek's head snaps back. He swears under his breath and shoves Stiles forward, yelling, "GO!" as he does.
About then is when Stiles' scaly buddy drops in on things. Erica and Derek both go into crouches, snarling at it, and it responds by hissing back. Erica lunges and goes flying. By the force she skids across the floor to make contact with the wall, she isn't getting up anytime soon.
Stiles skids on the floor, hand fumbling for her phone, but the creature lunges and she shrieks.
Derek rushes toward her. He grabs her around the waist and spins her out of the way of those damn claws before they can make contact. Which is great, it is, but he catches them instead and Stiles yelps when he starts to stumble forward on her.
For the record? Derek Hale is heavy.
Fuck, fuck, FUCK, how is this her life? Seriously?
She grabs him, trying to hold him up, but fuck, it's not going to work. She yelps and tries to drag him for the door.
They don't get far and they're not moving fast.
"Scott," Derek says, his hand bumping against her hip (the other one is hanging over her shoulder, brushing somewhere it really shouldn't be and he better have no feeling in those things right now), dead weight like the rest of him. "We need to call Scott."
"No shit, Sherlock," she says. "We need to call Scott and we need to call Boyd. Definitely need Boyd." More wolves all the time. "You guys need a bat signal or something. Like, seriously, get on that okay? Oh FUCK—"
She yelps when the creature lands in front of them and there's no avoiding it. Its between them and the door and there's no way she can get Derek turned around and head back the other way.
Seriously, fuck her life. Fuck her life to infinity. Beyond that, seriously, because she can see just one option. One option that she really, really doesn't like.
Not that they have any choice in the matter.
She looks at the water and then at Derek. "Sorry about this."
He gives her a curious look a half second before she throws them both into the water.
Mr. Rock meet Mr. Hard Place.
She's undressing Derek Hale, in a pool, while being stalked by a lizard monster that probably wants to eat her brains. Isn't life grand?
Well, technically it's Mr. Splashy Place, but Stiles has learned not to quibble those sorts of things. Besides, when its your life, does it matter if you're running or swimming for it?
Whatever the details, it isn't one her better plans, but there's no time to worry about that. The creature snarls as Derek hits the water, lunging for Stiles with one clawed hand outstretched.
"Yeah, no thanks," she says and jumps.
She hits the water a second after Derek, wishing she was wearing anything other than what she is (seriously, denim? Water? Oh, this will not end well) and everything's a blur for a long minute.
She's never been good about seeing underwater. Seriously. She can never quite trust herself to open her eyes and keep them open, but Derek is down here somewhere and, oh yeah, paralyzed and she needs to get to him.
Right, so she might be panicking just a little bit. Actually, she's panicking a lot and that is not good. She hasn't had a panic attack in years, but there's one on the horizon. She can feel it a bit. Kind of like in the middle of the night when you can't see dawn, but you know its right there over the horizon. Yeah, not good at all. Part of her wants to take a deep, steadying breath, but yeah, pool.
She can't panic. She can't have a panic attack. If she panics, they both drown and forget a week, Scott won't last a day.
Opening her eyes, she finds herself facing down and there's Derek below her, staring up at her with an annoyed look on his face. Great, they're in a swimming pool, she just saved his ass again, and he's still pissed at her.
She makes a face back, then dives down and grabs him under the arms. He's heavy. The angle's not right and it takes her longer than she'd like to get them both moving. She swallows a little water pushing him through to the surface and comes up sputtering beside him. "You could have warned me," Derek snaps, spitting water with every word.
Stiles blinks hard to clear the water from her eyes, then promptly rolls them in his direction. "I did! That's what the sorry was for!"
His eyebrows both rise on that. "That was your idea of a warning?"
"Well, I thought about a nice flow chart and some leaflets to explain the plan, but we didn't have a whole lot of time for an info dump." Mostly because 'oh shit oh shit oh shit' doesn't count as much of a plan, but hell if Stiles is going to tell him that. "Besides, who says you get a vote? I appreciate the saving me thing, but you can't move and I'm the one that's got to keep us alive until you can" At which point she will totally sell tickets to the inevitable smackdown, because Derek is definitely pissed.
He's paralyzed, trapped with and dependent on, a person he hates. If there's a closer definition to hell for him, Stiles can't really imagine it. Okay, she can, she just doesn't want to.
Sighing, she tries to move so he's leaning back against her instead of pushing her down into the water. It's awkward and she nearly drops him twice, but then she gets him where she needs him. It feels a little easier with his head's leaning against her neck and his arm draped over her shoulders. Yeah this won't work long either, but she needs to think.
Think and not argue.
Ha. At least she might get the thinking part in.
"This is a terrible plan," Derek states, like its some kind of news from on high.
"Look, there wasn't any other option. I can't run and carry you at the same time." Can't carry him at all, but that one's fairly obvious. "So, this was the only plan."
"It wasn't the only plan."
"Well, sorry, but I don't think we have enough time for you to bite me and Erica's down for the count. I'm all you've got."
"You should have left me," he says, "I told you to run and I meant it."
"No, you told me to go," Stiles argues. "I did. I just didn't go that far. I'm not leaving you to be dinner for that thing. Besides, if I leave you and run, I'm still not going to get three feet before that thing is on me..." She's mid-rant when his words really sink in. "Hang on, you really wanted me to leave you here?"
Derek glares. "I thought I was pretty clear about that."
"Yeah, but—" Stiles shifts her hold on him, not liking how it pretty much pushes her face into his neck, but going with it all the same. "Why?"
She's surprised him, but that's okay. She's surprised too. It sounds awful, being surprised that Derek would treat another human being like, well, a human being, but she kind of is. And, wow, yes, so okay, she's going to just let herself feel guilty about that because, well, she should.
"Forget it, okay?" Stiles adjusts her hold on Derek, tipping back a bit so she can look for the creature. "Never run from a werewolf, right? Well, I'm guessing same goes for that guy over there. I'm nobody's prey. Not anymore."
Derek doesn't say anything to that. Oh yeah, she's got a point and he knows it. Probably hates that.
"Do you see Erica?" he asks instead.
Stiles cranes her neck, but pretty much all she can see is Derek's neck. It's a nice neck and she probably shouldn't be thinking about that right now. "Uh, no?" She shifts a bit, trying to adjust his arm around her shoulders. "She must be still out. Not good." Scary as hell, actually. Werewolves heal fast. She doesn't want to think how strong this thing might be that it can hit hard enough to keep Erica down this long.
She shivers, hoping Derek doesn't notice. He might not. He's definitely cranky enough to miss it.
"You think?" he asks. Annoyed. "We need to get out of here."
"Uh, no, I think we're good," she says. She can't see the creature and, somehow, that's scarier than having it right in front of her. "Yeah, we're definitely good right here."
Derek manages to turn his head to look at her. "Stiles? I'm paralyzed from the neck down in eight feet of water. How the hell are we good?"
"We're alive, it isn't coming in after us, and yes, that counts as good. Let's face it, Derek, you're too heavy for me to move you anywhere on my own. You can't fight, you can't run, and I'm not leaving you behind. So unless you plan on asking to please, pretty please, help me drag you to the door? Look, I know it goes against all your sensibilities," because he's male and Alpha, that has to be a double-set of stupid right there and God help them all if Scott ever becomes a real Alpha, even she won't be able to hold him back forever, "but we both know I'm right."
He's quiet for a long time and then grumbles, "Fine."
"Good." Its her turn to be quiet then. "Keep an eye on our little friend," she says, mumbling. "I've got to think here." Because he's twice her size, heavy as fuck, and there is no way she can keep them like this for long.
"You need to get me on my back," Derek says. "I can float."
She groans. "We're in a pool with chlorinated water and you can still do the werewolf mind-reading thing? God, Derek, for once can't you guys turn that off?"
Okay, maybe she's more annoyed than she needs to be, but she's had zero secrets from anybody since Scott wolfed out and, really? She kind of misses it. Stiles is actually pretty good with secrets. No, scratch that, she is fucking amazing with secrets. Mastering the fine art of speed-talking-while-saying-nothing was definitely the first step toward said mastery and the rest lay in flying under everybody's radar. Be a domestic goddess at home, a decent student in class, the brains in your friendship, and a little weird to everyone else and you are golden.
At least until you try to trade yourself for your childhood crush and the person you're trading with happens to be a psychotic Alpha werewolf bent on vengeance and, possibly, world domination.
Town domination at least.
"I'm not reading your mind," Derek huffs. "You just show everything on your face." There's a meaningful pause. "Well, you used to."
She doesn't have to ask to know when that changed. She bites her lip, acutely aware that their current situation does work in Derek's favor on one point. If he asks 'the question', she can't change the subject and leave.
If there was ever a time for an 'oh shit' moment...
Well, she can't leave, but she can definitely change the subject. The longer she keeps Derek from steering things back toward Peter, the longer she can avoid that long overdue panic attack.
"Okay, so we have to get you on your back." She tries for brisk and unaffected, but even she's not buying it. "Any plans on how we're going to do that?"
"It would be easier if I could move my legs, but it should help you keep me up."
"Not with your jeans on," Stiles can feel her own legs dragging at her. "They'll need to come off." Oh please, God, don't let him be commando, please God, don't let him be commando... "You know, Scott better be the one to get us out of here. Otherwise, we're going to have some serious tap-dancing to do for whoever does."
Derek makes a noise. Definitely would be a laugh coming from someone else. "You can handle it."
Handle. She is so glad he can't see her face.
"You're blushing, aren't you?"
"Damn it. Can't you turn that off?"
"Fine, but just remember, you told me to do this." She lets him drift into better contact with her body, then reaches around his waist to fumble with his belt.
She's undressing Derek Hale, in a pool, while being stalked by a lizard monster that probably wants to eat her brains.
Isn't life grand?
"Derek Hale is apologizing? Oh god, I'm going to die, aren't I? You're being voluntarily nice. No way that happens and I am not dying."
"For the record," Stiles mutters, unzipping Derek's jeans and chalking the way her hands shake up to the freezing temperature of the water. "I hate my life so much right now." Like, really. She does. She has the kind of hate for her life that most people usually reserve for politics and brussel sprouts. "And you are going to never, ever mention this again, are we clear?"
"Trust me," Derek mutters, "You aren't the only one."
Stiles hmphs, hooking her fingers into the waistband of his jeans. Like, holy god, she is actually, seriously undressing him right now and she is getting nothing out of it. Okay, sure, continued survival (which, yay that, seriously), but the unfairness of it all is just beyond epic. It's the first time she actually undresses a guy and it's not because he wants her (ha!) and they can't keep their hands off each other for another second, no, it's because he'll drown if she can't hold him up.
She manages to work them down over his hips (staring at the ceiling the entire time), but then comes the awkward part. Okay, the physically awkward part. Okay, the part where she will probably drown trying not to sneak a peek at Derek's package. Stiles bites her lip and shrugs. "You should probably take a deep breath and hold it. Your boots need to come off and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do that and keep you above water at the same time."
Derek grunts. It's probably better that he's gone all nonverbal on her about this. She really, really doesn't need to make the moment worse. Which is why, when she tips him up and lets herself drop under the water, she absolutely does not look at certain parts of his anatomy.
Thank god it's shoes, not boots. Stiles manages to push them off, then she's grabbing Derek's jeans and pulling them the rest of the way. He doesn't immediately bounce up or anything, but she thinks he feels a little lighter when she surfaces with his clothes in hand.
"Okay," she says, giving the jeans and shoes a throw. She's not sure they make it out of the pool, but hey, at least she made the attempt, right? "So that's better, right?"
"Maybe a little bit," Derek says. He has enough movement that he can turn his head and look at her, though it's awkward and stilted. She sends up a quiet prayer that the venom seems to only mess with voluntary muscle control. It probably says something that she didn't think about that when she was drooling on herself in the garage, just now when she's got Derek pressed up against her with this look in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Stiles."
She blinks, ignoring the way her heart starts pounding because Derek Hale is apologizing with the weirdest expression on his face. She has a feeling that he's not talking about the scaly thing stalking them right now or the part where she's afraid he might've popped an actual boner while she was stripping off his clothes.
And, ew, that is a traumatizing thought right there. Which is why she stumbles over the "Excuse me, what?" that is her response. "Derek Hale is apologizing? Oh god, I'm going to die, aren't I? You're being voluntarily nice. No way that happens and I am not dying."
He makes a noise of frustration. "Can you be serious for even one second?"
"I've had a surprising amount of trauma in my life." Sure, not Derek Hale levels of bad, but emotions do not grade on a scale and her pains are her own. "I find exhaustive levels of sarcasm and bad jokes to be an excellent coping mechanism."
He considers that. "Fair point, but I'm still sorry. I didn't know that thing was here and I should have."
"Uh, how?" she asks. "It seems like it's got a pretty good stealth vibe going on. Considering the penchant it has for maiming and murdering, I'm willing to bet that it actually does that a lot."
"I should have known, Stiles," Derek insists. His hair brushes her neck when he moves his head. It's cold, wet, and she still shivers. Which does not distract her a bit from the sound of his voice. He's got that stubborn sound on and she can bet he's wearing his 'determined' look too.
She moves a bit and, yes, there's actual guilt in his face. Like, actual guilt. He really does feel bad about this.
"S'fine," she says, shifting in the water so she can't see his face. He's being all earnest and terrifying and she does not know what to do with any of that. Derek hostile she understands. Derek all looming and ominous is normal. Derek being a real life person? So many levels of wrong. "I'm okay. It's Erica that I'm worried about."
Like, really. "Can you see her?" she asks. "Did it like--oh god, do you think it did something to her?"
Derek's silent for a moment. Listening. "I can hear her heart," he says, "but she's not close."
"It moved her?"
"Maybe," Derek says. "Maybe she got up on her own."
"Wouldn't she have tried to help?" Stiles can't see Erica running off. Not without at least trying to help or saying something. "She's not going to abandon her Alpha, right?"
He's silent to that too and she takes it as reluctant agreement. He has no idea what he's doing as Alpha, she can figure that out from the stumbling routine he's had going lately, but it strikes her then that he's guessing what his parents would have done and going from that.
She gets that. She does the same thing with her mom sometimes.
"Aww," she says, way more pleased about that than she has a right to be, "You're wishing she would, right? Because then she'd be safe. That is so awesome. You might not be a terrible Alpha after all."
She huffs a laugh. "Oh, shut up, Derek, and let me enjoy this moment. I don't get to do that much." And by much she means at all. "Mostly I run, scream, and try not to die while saving Scott's ass. One little moment is all I'm asking."
Derek goes all nonverbal again at that and she doesn't need to be a wolf to feel the genuine guilt radiating off him. It's just annoying and she can't leave it alone.
"And stop that," she says, flicking his ear. "I can feel the angsting. I'm not pack, Derek. Save it for Erica, Isaac, and Boyd, okay? Whatever happened, well, it happened, okay? It can't be undone or fixed, it's just one of those things that has to be lived with. All the glowering in the world's not going to bully me into making it better."
"I'm not trying to bully you," Derek says, softer. "That's not what this is about, Stiles. I'm responsible."
Ah. Right. So they are going to talk about this. Stiles closes her eyes. "You aren't responsible for that, Derek. Peter's choices belonged to him."
"You're afraid of me," he says. "You never used to be."
"Uh, I was out of my mind with terror," Stiles corrects. "Did you not miss that?"
"I didn't," he says, "but you weren't. I can tell the difference, Stiles. You--" he clears his throat. "You weren't afraid like you are now. It's always there in your scent and, yes, I'm responsible for that. I didn't know what he was doing and then I wasn't there to stop him and he--"
"Not that," she says, hating how small she sounds. "He never--not that." She tightens her grip on him. "I swear he didn't, but even if he had, you still wouldn't be responsible."
He says nothing to that and she sighs. "You aren't, Derek. You aren't."
"It doesn't matter," he says, "I feel like I am, and stop trying to tell me I'm not. You aren't supposed to be the one trying to make me feel better."
"What? I wasn't trying to make you feel better," Stiles snorts. "I'm just trying to keep you from drowning. You want a warm and fuzzy feeling, eat a marshmallow."
"Be so thankful I can't move right now," he says, in an ordinary voice. "So. Thankful."
She is. The awkward moment is mostly over.
Now, if they could do something about the scaly beasty thing she'd be set.
She's going to die a virgin in a pool with the hottest guy in town and she's more annoyed by that than she is about the dying part. It's official. She is completely fucked up and it is completely Derek Hale's fault.
She's going to die. Somewhere along the line, Derek floating against her and growing heavier by the second, Stiles finds herself accepting that. It's easier this time. Easier to acknowledge her relative uselessness in the face of death. She can't fight this. She can't stop it. She's oddly okay with it. Maybe because, this time, she's not in her knees in the mud of the lacrosse field and there's no Lydia bleeding sluggishly before her. It's just her, Derek, and her scaly buddy. The same scaly buddy who disappears, reappears, and paces around the pool, hissing at the two of them where they float.
Stiles forces her legs to keep moving as she watches the creature stalk them. It's all sorts of fucked up that she's pretty much okay with drowning as long as she doesn't have to be torn apart by that thing. "I can't keep this up much longer," she confesses, her fingers digging into Derek's shirt. "And my legs feel like rubber, so forget some dumbshit self-sacrificing 'run' order, okay? I'd take two steps out of the water and face-plant. For the record, that is a ridiculous way to die and I am not letting my dad find me like that."
Oh god. Dad.
She bites her lip. "Okay, no, I'm not okay with this. Not even close. I am not going to die because some lizard thinks I'd make a great hot lunch."
She can hear the wariness in Derek's tone as she forces herself to bob upwards in the water, kicking so she'll bounce up enough that she can get a look at the floor and where her phone might be.
"We are calling Scott, Derek," she says, sliding back down into the water. "I am going out there and I am getting my phone and we are going to get out of here." She's actually a little pissed that no one's come looking for her by now. There is absolutely no fucking way that the lacrosse game has gone on this long and yet, no Allison, no Scott, and if they are making out while she is waiting to drown to death, she is officially going to...
Be too damn glad she's alive to care that her BFF is too busy sucking face with his girlfriend to worry about whether or not she's alive.
No, she's still going to be pissed about that one. Forget going to be, she is pissed. She's pissed and she's scared and, wow, why hasn't someone come looking for her yet?
"Shut up, Derek," she says, kicking so they're moving again. "It's the only way and if you try and tell me that I can't leave you to drown, remember you were all gungho to get me out of here not that long ago."
"I'm not trying to stop you."
"You, what? Oh. Sorry. Okay, if you weren't trying to stop me, then what? Are you going to give me some motivational speech? Because, yeah, I think we've got that one covered. I get that phone, we get to live, and you get to go back to lurking in the woods where you don't have to trust anyone and my Hale-related traumas aren't cluttering up your manpain--"
"Dude, I think your hand twitched," Stiles says. "Which would be a lot less creepy if it weren't, you know, hanging where it is."
He's rolling his eyes. She doesn't need to see them to know. "I'm paralyzed from the neck down, Stiles. If I were going to cop a feel, pretty sure now wouldn't be the best time to try it."
"Please," she snorts. "You're a guy. The best time is all the time." Not that she'd know. She's never actually had anyone try that before. It made getting 'the Talk' from her father the height of hilarity. He'd been so serious and so awkward that she'd burst into giggles thirty seconds into it. That's been the most embarrassing part of getting dragged into Scott's supernatural soap opera. It doesn't matter how long this stretches out. Whenever she does finally die, she's going to be a virgin when she does so. "And, okay, so you were going to say something?"
He growls a little. "Yes. I was going to say thank you. You don't trust me, I don't trust you--"
She tries not to, she really does, but Stiles can't help a snort of disbelief when he says that. "Seriously?" she says, interrupting him before he can growl again. "You really expect me to believe that one? Hello, but how many times have you turned up in my room asking for help? How much stuff have I not told Scott about? If you don't trust me, Derek, you've been doing a pretty shitty job of it." And, maybe, that's what's been bothering him the most. She's never, ever going to ask, of course, but maybe it is. He trusts her, he knows he can trust her, but she can't say the same. Not after Peter. Not after any of it.
She winces. Right. So, everyone he's ever let close has either died or betrayed him. It doesn't really bode that well for her, all things considered, and he has no idea what to do next.
"You're welcome," she says, breathing slowly. "Now, uh, don't suppose werewolves have super, epic lung capacity by any chance? Because if you drown before I can get back to you? I am going to be really, really pissed."
"If I do," Derek says, already breathing a little slower, deeper, "put my pants on. My reputation's bad enough in this town without adding statutory rapist to the list."
"Oh, like you can worry about that now," she snorts, but she's blushing a little too. And she is not going to think about that. She isn't. "You forget, dude, you picked Erica up in front of the entire school. Everyone is thinking it. Ready?"
"Yeah," he says, but he doesn't sound happy about it. Not that she cares. She's already letting him slide free of her fingers as she pushes off, ducking beneath the water. She feints this way, then that, before pulling herself up and out of the pool. Her legs feel weaker than she thought, but Stiles still manages to scramble toward the phone. It's beneath the bench and she grabs it a half second before her scaly stalker snarls and lunges for her.
Except that's where things get weird. He lunges for her, ducks in front of her, crouching down and staring.
And that's it. She tries to get past him, he snarls and swipes at her, but if she stays still, then so does he.
Which is just lovely, but she needs to get back in that water. Derek can't hold out forever. So Stiles hits Scott's number and runs for the door. The theory seems to play out. Her scaly buddy stays hunched behind her, watching, and the call connects a half second before she veers away from the door to circle back to the pool.
Scaly guy snarls and lunges as Stiles yells Scott's name into the open phone line. She babbles, rushes her words, trying to explain the situation over the sound of his bewildered questions, but she's out of time and deck. She lands in the water with a splash, holding her phone over her head as she keeps shouting. She gets a mouthful of water, spits it back out, but there's no way to swim for Derek and keep the phone dry.
It doesn't matter. The call disconnects before she can get the phone to her ear again. She checks the signal. Full bars. Scott hung up on her. "Seriously?" she all but shrieks. "You hung up on me? Dude, you are going to feel so fucking bad when they find my corpse."
Stiles flings the phone aside, hoping it makes it to the deck again, but not really caring either way. Derek's waiting and she is going to make sure he lives.
Well, at least for a little while longer, but by then it won't matter anyway. She doesn't have a werewolf's lungs.
She'll drown long before he does. Which she might be okay with (because Derek matters more in this whole clusterfuck anyway and he needs to make it out of here alive) if not for the fact he's going to have to live with her death too. She knows survivor's guilt when she sees it and its written all over everything Derek does. His family, his sister, and now her.
"If it's any consolation, I'm really kind of sorry about that."
She hopes he doesn't hear it, but when she dives down after him, Derek gives her a look and she knows he has.
They're a sputtering mess when they surface. He's back to draping himself all over her and she knows she doesn't have it in her to get him on his back again.
"Did you get him?" he asks, nose pressed into her shoulder.
"Sort of," she replies. "I thought I heard something about Allison." She winces as she says it, not wanting to look him in the eye. "I think he heard me yelling, but I don't know."
"It isn't your fault." She can feel his lips moving through the fabric of her shirt. It's kind of nice. "None of this is."
"I know," she says, "but I'm allowed to feel guilty, right? It was my shitty plan that landed us here. My shitty plan's going to get us killed."
"Same as mine," he replies. "It's too bad."
"That we suck? Oh, yeah, it really is," Stiles agrees. She looks at the scaly guy. He's pacing the pool again, watching them, and she shivers a little. "Major bad."
"No, not that." Derek says, serious. "It's too bad that it was Scott and not you."
"I, uh, what?"
"If Peter had bit you in the beginning, we wouldn't be here," Derek says, and she thinks that's supposed to be a compliment. Like, really? He thinks she'd make a better werewolf than Scott?
Huh. No, but she can still be flattered, right?
Yeah, she's going to be flattered.
Sure, they're going to die, but a compliment is a compliment and she doesn't get those often.
She blushes and leans into him. "That's kind of sweet...I think. I'd make a terrible werewolf, but it's still nice of you to say otherwise and the fact I think that says so much. I'm pretty sure its your fault. You've pretty much seriously screwed up my perspective about that stuff. I so can't tell what's sweet and what's creepy, crazy stalker material anymore." With the way he's been keeping an eye on her since the whole Peter fiasco, she's pretty sure she's one sparkly boyfriend away from a full on Bella.
Or not. She's in a pool with a hot werewolf who's been watching over her in her sleep for weeks.
That probably means she's officially Team Jacob all the way.
She groans and closes her eyes. So wrong to be thinking that right now. So. Very. Wrong.
"You guys must hate Twilight, huh?"
Derek snorts. "I don't want to know what made you ask that, do I?"
"Didn't think so." He tips his head back in the water. It laps at his chin anyway and that's not good. She's getting tired. "And yes, we do."
"Well, there's hope for you yet."
Or there was. Right up until tonight.
"It's not over yet, Stiles," Derek says. "It isn't."
Yes, it is, and Stiles knows that it is, because If Derek Hale is the optimist? They are so very, very fucked.
She shuts her eyes. She is so going to die a virgin. Yes, she's said that before, but it bears repeating and, right now, she needs to think about anything other than impending death.
She's going to die a virgin in a pool with the hottest guy in town and she's more annoyed by that than she is about the dying part. It's official. She is completely fucked up and it is completely Derek Hale's fault.
"Hang on, Stiles," Derek says. His fingers twitch against her neck, brushing her shoulder again, and she tries to cling to the promise of that movement. "Just hang on."
She needs to make sure he makes it out of this alive. If she can't get anything else right, she needs to do this. She's going to save Derek if it kills her and, yeah, she's actually not even exaggerating a little right now.
Drowning is supposed to be peaceful. Stiles remembers hearing that somewhere and, frankly, it's a pack of lies. Her arms are heavy, legs exhausted, and she can barely move, but every time she sinks and the water closes over her head, she claws her way back to the surface and tries pulling Derek with her.
He gasps for air, sputtering in the water, and manages, "You...you've got to..."
"No," she says, trying to tread water. The ladder is on the other side of the pool. There is zero chance of making it that far and god, how much does she hate Scott right now? "Can't." There is no way she's letting him die. She can't. He's got a pack that needs him. Derek is the first person in Isaac's life to really give a damn and she knows that he's the first person to really see Boyd and Erica. He cares about them. She's not going to pretend she understands any of it, but she knows its not just about feeding him power. No way they would have stuck around for that. No way would they look at him the way they do if it were about just that.
She needs to make sure he makes it out of this alive. If she can't get anything else right, she needs to do this. She's going to save Derek if it kills her and, yeah, she's actually not even exaggerating a little right now.
Her eyes start to slide shut. She shakes it off. "Stiles," Derek says, voice a rough rasp in her ear. "You've got to let me go. Your Dad--"
Stiles looks for the creature. It's crouched on one of the benches, watching them, and she debates her chances of it leaving them alone if she presses Derek against the wall of the pool. Maybe she can hold them up that way.
She reaches out a hand for the concrete and hears the warning snarl. Yeah, no chance on that.
"It must be afraid of the water," she says, trying to ignore the burning in her limbs. "It hasn't come in after us."
"Maybe," Derek says. "But you--"
"No," she snaps. "I am not letting you die."
"Yeah, well, I'm not letting you die either," he growls back. "You didn't ask for this, Stiles. Any of it. You could've walked away at any time and you're still here."
She's tempted to point out she doesn't have anywhere else to go, but really, that's not a conversation they're going to be having right now. She doesn't even want to be having this conversation either.
Stiles adjusts her grip on his shirt. "Whatever. We need to get you out of here. Any more movement, or should I piss you off some more?"
She grins at that. It almost makes her forget how tired she is. Like, oh god, she has never been this tired in her life.
"Yeah, give it a shot," Derek says. "Can't hurt, right?"
She tries to laugh, but gets a mouthful of chlorinated water instead. Grabbing Derek, she rolls onto her back and tries to make for the ladder. If she gets there, she can hold on until Scott or Erica finds them. She just has to get there.
They get halfway across the pool before she falters, her determination giving out in the face of her exhaustion, and starts to sink. This time, when she sputters and struggles to reach the surface, her limbs won't respond. She's just too tired and she apologizes silently to Derek.
Okay, maybe drowning isn't really peaceful, but the release from the guilt? Yeah, that sort of is.
She passes out before she reaches the bottom. Her last thought is relief that she's face down. At least, this way, she doesn't have to see Derek's face as he watches her drown.
There are hands on her chest. Someone's pushing down. Stiles opens her mouth to protest and, instead, gusts up water. Someone else's hands brush her hair, help her up, and hold on while she vomits.
She vaguely hears a voice saying something. It's quiet and a little soothing, but the part where it's Derek means that it does anything but make her feel better. She yelps and tries to scramble away from the hands holding her. She pushes her hair out of her face, blinks to clear her eyes, and there's Erica kneeling in front of her with a worried look on her face.
That means Derek is behind her and, there, standing over them all is Scott.
"You asshole," Stiles sputters, coughing. "Where the fuck were you?"
Scott gapes at her, but she's too exhausted to care and she slumps back again. And by slumps, she means awkwardly flops because she just doesn't have the motor control left to do it gracefully.
Derek, at least, catches her and she grins up at him. "Fully functional again?"
"Sort of," he grimaces. "Still can't feel my fingers."
"Yeah, well, if I yelp, retract the claws, got it?" She lets him pull her close, against the warmth of his body (and wow, seriously still warm after almost two hours in a freezing pool? His internal temp must be ridiculous) without so much as a hint of a complaint.
"God, I am going to sleep for a month," she manages. "Where is creepy scaly buddy?"
Derek nods at the ceiling above them. Stiles looks up at the skylight. "Oh hell, we are getting out of here before someone finds that. I am not getting blamed for another break-in."
Above her, Derek snorts.
Right. She wasn't the one who caught the blame for that.
"Uh, you know I'm still sorry about that, right?" Stiles does her best to smile prettily up at him. It's a dismal failure. She has never, ever been good at the pretty. "Because, wow, yeah, though technically, we thought you were dead and that has to count for something."
Derek almost chuckles and lifts her into his arms. Which, okay, is impressive. Very, very impressive. "We need to get you home."
"Uh, yeah, but I can--"
He gives her another look. This one's sort of, maybe, fond in a 'you're being an idiot, Stiles' sort of way. "I think you should probably stay home tomorrow. Tell your dad that you're sick or something. Fake it."
Stiles leans her head against his shoulder. Yum. Okay, she's going to give herself a little permission to ogle like any good girl should. Because, seriously, the guy is built. "Almost drowned, Derek," she says, and wow, her voice is kind of awesomely sex-raspy and that's totally wasted on everyone right now. So not fucking fair. "I won't be faking."
Derek turns to carry her (and she shouldn't be swooning over this, but if she were standing she totally would be) but Scott's there and glaring at them. "I can take her," he says, reaching out.
Stiles blinks when Derek legitimately growls. Like, legitimately. So cool. "No, you can't."
"She's my friend," Scott protests, keeping pace with them. "I can take care of her."
"Yeah?" Derek snaps back, even as Stiles presses a hand to her eyes. "Then where were you tonight? Or the last few months?" Like, really? She can't get a date to save her life, but now she has Derek lecturing Scott on friendship? God, how much does her life fucking suck?
"Please stop," Stiles says, hating how plaintive she sounds. "Just, seriously stop? Because this is ridiculous humiliating and I have had a really shitty night. A really shitty night in a really shitty week and, let's face it, the entire year has been pretty much fucking useless. I just want to go home, eat something ridiculous, and then crawl into my bed. There might be some embarrassing 'thank God I am not dead' crying, but then I plan to sleep for a fucking year and try to forget the part where you two idiots were arguing over who got to carry me and my rubber legs to a damn car."
And now her throat hurts. Beautiful.
She closes her eyes. "I hate my life so much."
That seems to shut them both up. Well, mostly. Derek waits until they've gotten out of the school to say. "I know what it is."
She lifts her head at that. "What?"
"The creature. I know what it is." He settles her into the passenger's seat of her jeep and buckles her in, coming away with her keys in his hand. "I'll tell you on the way to your house."
She looks at him. "You realize you can't just carry me into the house and put me to bed, right?"
Derek's hand clenches tighter around her keys and he looks away.
"Oh my god, you--no. Just, no, I am not--" Stiles slaps a hand over her eyes, holding back a yelp when her arm all but screams pain at her. "I am sixteen, Derek. Not six."
"You saved my life," Derek points out. "I can at least get you home in one piece. Your Dad won't be home from work yet. It's not as though anyone will see you."
She snorts. "I live on a street of little old ladies. They'll have me married off with six and a half kids before the end of the week." She lets her eyes slide shut. "Whatever, I'm too damn tired to care. Wake me when we get there, okay?"
Yeah, she's not fooling him at all. She's not really fooling herself, either, so there's that.
When the jeep shuts off, they're sitting in front of her house. Stiles wakes up slowly, eyes still heavy, and wow, she is completely wiped. Like completely drained. "Okay," she decides, yawning. "I think I can blow off the gym for the couple of weeks." She lifts one arm to unlock the door and, yeah, the way it protests has her upgrading that to a month. She drops her arm again, deciding to let Derek handle it as she adds, "I'm having a second helping of cheesecake too."
Actually, she can't remember the last time she had cheesecake. It's never seemed fair to tell her dad he couldn't have things and then buy them anyway.
Except the curly fries. When it comes to curly fries, all bets are off. Like way off. "Mmm, curly fries." She wiggles a little in her seat, grinning. "We should have stopped for food."
"We did," Derek says. He gets out of the jeep and comes round to her side. "You slept right through it." He reaches past her (and thank fuck she is too tired to, you know, react to him that close. God, being a teenager sucks so hard sometimes) and picks up a bag.
Technically, Stiles is exhausted. She is, in fact, too damn tired to move. It makes a good cover for the part where she's just staring at Derek, because hot guy? With food? Oh, hell yes.
Stiles takes a moment to appreciate the fact she is a girl and, as such, cannot pop visible boners, because holy god, right now she is seriously considering tackling a werewolf and riding him into next year. Mmm, food. Boy. Food.
Yes, the way to her vag is absolutely through her stomach, but Stiles does have her standards. Oh, who's she kidding? She makes a little noise that might, in some universe, translate into 'gimme' before snatching the bag from him. She's embarrassingly fast about it and her arms will hate her later, but food.
Derek makes a show of checking his fingers. "Little hungry, Stiles?"
"You were heavy," she mumbles through a mouthful of fries. "I burned a ton of calories holding up your furry ass."
He glares at her and Stiles, flush with life and curly fries, smirks back.
"I'm sorry," she says, pressing a greasy hand against her chest. "I take it back. I'm sure your ass is so perfect Adonis would weep with envy." The bitch of it is, his ass probably would make Adonis weep with envy. "Better?"
He rolls his eyes. "No. Now come on, we need to get you inside before your dad gets back."
And finds a former murder suspect helping his teenage daughter into the house.
Stiles catches a look at herself in the mirror. The little bit of mascara she'd worn has run down her face, her hair is wild with the frizzy curls, and she looks--oh god. She squeaks. "Tell me you have a hairbrush so I don't get out of this jeep looking like I've been fucked within an inch of my life."
"No one is going to see you, Stiles," Derek says, grumpy. "Come on. You need to get out of those wet clothes."
She shoots him a look at that one. Like, really? When did Derek Hale become such a worrying grandma?
Oh, right. Somewhere around the time when his crazy uncle started perving on her in the hospital and followed it up with kidnapping and promised biting. She shivers in a way that has nothing to do with her damp clothes.
"Did I not mention the little old ladies?" Stiles demands to cover up the momentary lapse, looking around in her jeep. She digs more than she needs to, with more interest than she really has, looking for a hairbrush to fix it all. "God, I suck at the girl thing," she mutters, to drown out the screaming in her head. "Where's Allison and Lydia when you need them?"
That actually stops the noise in her head nicely. Lydia. She needs to call her. Tell her to come over after school. They need to talk and they need to do it soon.
She blinks and there's Lydia, bleeding, with Peter leaning over her like she's an afterthought and Stiles an unexpected delight. Stiles feels the cold sweep through her and she flinches back, away from those fangs.
Derek's hand on her arm is fever-hot and Stiles resists the urge to lean into him. He's so warm. She wants to curl up next to him and sleep for a year. Maybe more.
She blinks and looks at him, sincerely hoping she didn't say that aloud. She does that sometimes. "I'm okay," she says, digging in the bag for more fries. "Just really, really tired."
He takes the bag out of her hands, ignoring the squeak of protest, and leans in to wrap his arm around her waist. She slides out of the jeep and up against him. Her cheeks are boiling hot when she peeks up at him.
Yeah, she's not fooling him at all. She's not really fooling herself, either, so there's that.
She's shaking, head to toe, but she still makes herself stand up straight and point at him. She needs this to be normal. She needs this to be just them. Like they are every day and not like Peter is lurking in the shadows, ready to snap at them and take her world apart again. "We are going to make like I sprained my ankle, okay? I swear to God, Derek, if some old lady walks up to my Dad in the grocery store and asks how my young man is, I will--" she glares at him. He's smirking. "I will. There will be some kind of vengeance and it will be awful. Stop laughing at me."
Derek's features settle out. "I'm not laughing at you."
Stiles' snort of disbelief transforms into a yelp of shock when her legs go out from beneath her and Derek catches her up into his arms. "This is so undignified!" She protests, taking back her bag of take out. "There will be consequences."
"Shut up, Stiles."
She puts a fry down his shirt. It's petty, sure, but it's still pretty damn satisfying. At least, until she remembers her neighbors and their creepy, creepy spying.
Then she hides her face against his shoulder and prays very hard they're all asleep.
"I hate you so much right now," she mutters. "So much."
He doesn't say anything, but she swears she hears him laugh.
As soon as Derek puts her down, he digs out the fry and makes a face at her. Wolfy-bitch face. It's adorable. He flicks it at her forehead, missing by a mile, and then takes her phone and her bag of takeout and puts it on her bedside table. "You need to get changed before you eat. Those clothes are a mess."
"Mm, maybe," she says, stretching out. "M'tired."
Being an awesome superhero type is totally exhausting. She just wants to curl up and forget everything for a while.
"Oh, no you don't," Derek says, slapping clothes onto the bed beside her. "First you change, then you eat, and then you sleep. You're no good to me if you end up with pneumonia."
She peers out at him from beneath her and. "Since when am I ever good to you?"
It's totally understandable, she thinks, that she gapes at him after that. "Who are you and what have you done with Derek Hale?"
He rolls his eyes and pushes the clothing at her. "Just take the clothes, Stiles. You can't get sick."
Stiles makes a face at him, but takes the clothes anyway. Typical. They have a moment of genuine whatever that was, and he has to ruin it by being himself. "Fine. Make sure you lock the door when you leave." She doesn't miss the way Derek glances at the window and immediately hops up to stand between him and it. "Forget it, buddy. They saw you carry me into my house. They are going to see you leave, got it? There will be no little old ladies concern-trolling my dad because of you. I am not having that conversation with him."
She pauses, then smirks. "And neither are you."
That gets him moving.
Stiles sinks down onto her bed, looks at the clothes in her hands, the food by her bed, and smiles.
Derek Hale has a heart. Who knew?
"Dear Abby, there's this werewolf and I nearly died saving his life, what do I say to his thank you gift of a cellphone and coffee?"
It's stupid, but Stiles waits until she hears the front door close before she whips off her shirt and pulls on the other one. A second later and she changes into her sweatpants. When that's done, she gets up on unsteady legs and makes her way to the window.
She's almost surprised to see Derek, but the casual way he saunters out onto the sidewalk and down the street tells the tale. She grins and leans against the window to watch him go. Every little old lady on the street is watching.
"God, I hope none of them ask my Dad. Please don't let any of them ask my dad."
They're totally going to ask her dad and she has to figure out what to say. Well, she has to tomorrow. Right now, she's so tired she can barely think. Her thoughts are going every which way, worse than usual and she pushes away from the window, eager to get to the bed that creaks when she throws herself down on it.
"Shut up," she tells it, tugging the bag of food closer. She picks at the fries, eats most of them, then thinks she should probably get up and warm it up.
Yeah, that doesn't happen. She just lets the bag slide to the floor and pulls the covers over her instead.
Her dad has the early shift, so when Stiles wakes up feeling completely crappy (ow) she calls the school herself. The secretary on duty is familiar with the drill and lets Stiles go back to bed without much protest.
Or, rather, lets Stiles end the call, flop down, and fall back asleep for a couple more hours.
When she wakes again, there's a fresh cup of coffee and a new cellphone sitting on her bedside table. The coffee is her favourite, from the best coffee shop in town (okay, so there aren't that many choices, but shut up, it still is the best okay?) and the phone?
"Okay, you're still a creeper," she mutters, smiling, "but this is a nice phone." As a 'thanks for not letting me drown' gift it kind of rocks. She laughs a bit, then realizes the time. She's late with her meds and that officially upgrades the coffee to the best present ever.
Abandoning her new phone, Stiles dutifully gets up and ignores the way her muscles scream as she goes for her backpack. Digging out her pill case, she shakes out the dose, and tosses the case back into her bag.
She takes a few sips of coffee to wash the pill down with, then puts the cup down and crawls back into bed.
God, she aches. Head to toe. Her arms feel like rubber, she's in no hurry to test her legs yet, and she just feels like complete crap.
The glorious life of the heroine.
Stiles rolls her eyes and curls up on her side. It's then that she remembers she needs to talk to Lydia. She sits up and finds the phone in the blankets and texts Lydia with Still need to talk. Home sick. Drop by later?
She gets up after that and makes herself take a long bath. It helps the tired muscles a little. Her meds kick in while she's in there, everything sort of settling into place and clearing up, and she starts thinking about the kanima and everything Derek told her before she'd fallen asleep.
It's not much information, they'll need a lot more than Derek's childhood stories to deal with this thing properly, but it's a name and a starting point as to figuring out who it is.
Getting out of the tub, she wraps herself up in her favourite robe and shuffles down the hall. First, she pitches out the food from last night, then checks her cell—nothing from Lydia—and decides to fire off a text to Derek.
She should probably say thanks for the food, the phone, and coffee. It seems like the thing to do, but really, what else can she say? "Dear Abby, there's this werewolf and I nearly died saving his life, what do I say to his thank you gift of a cellphone and coffee?"
Grinning to herself, she picks up her coffee and takes a sip. Mmmm, coffee. Awesome.
"Just text the guy, Stiles," she mutters, licking her lips. "It's not like you're proposing marriage or anything. You're saying thanks for a phone." Except everything with Derek sort of does feel like there's a weight to it. She can't figure it out and she's not sure she's supposed to try, but it's there and she has no idea what to do with it.
"Annnnnd I can't remember his number." Stiles rolls her eyes at herself. "Must've written it down here somewhere." Which, yes, she probably did, but probably not on anything she still has.
The phone chimes and she glances down at the screen to see a text with Derek's name on it. She grins, realizing that it's already programmed in.
"I swear it's like he's bugged my brain," she mutters, thumbing open the text.
Did you stay home?
Stiles rolls her eyes. "Okay, not my brain, but definitely my room." She casts a look around before texting back, Like the pups didn't tell you that already.
There's a beat of a minute or two and then she gets, Don't call them that.
Stiles snickers to herself. Note that you aren't actually denying they've already tattled on me and, yes, I will call them that. You're making that face. Don't deny it. You are. Put those eyebrows down before you strain something, oh, thanks for the phone. It's awesome.
And it is. It's actually better than her old phone and wow, she's going to have to be careful about her dad seeing it. At least until she makes up a good story about upgrades that she can actually sell because Dad is actually pretty good at sniffing out her lies. Not Scott or Derek good, but then again, he doesn't need the sniff test.
He's had sixteen years of watching her in practice to cover it.
Stiles curls up on the bed, tucking the robe around herself. Any ideas on who my scaly buddy might be?
"Not yet, no."
She yelps, nearly spilling her coffee. "For fuck's sake, Derek, learn how to knock!"
He slides through the window. "Feeling better?"
"Every part of me is aching," Stiles admits, shrugging. "I'll live. So, any ideas?"
"The same ones you're thinking, probably," he says, taking in the room with a glance.
"Lydia and Jackson." She sighs when Derek doesn't contradict her. She had a feeling that, sooner or later, Jackson would squirrel the bite out of someone and it explains his helping with Peter (no way he did that out of the goodness of his heart), but she still feels strangely sad. God knows Jackson isn't her favorite person in the world, and if anyone has to be the kanima, then she'd rather him than Lydia, but she wants it to be neither of them.
Except, of course, for the problem where it has to be one of them. Derek's retelling of the kanima legend had specifically mentioned that the kanima was supposed to be a werewolf, but was cursed to be caught between beast and man. That kind of limits the possibilities like a whole fuck of a lot. "Still can't remember what's supposed to fix it?"
Derek shakes his head. "I don't know if anything can. It was just a story my mom used to tell me."
She can't help picturing that; tiny Derek curled up in his mom's arms, listening to werewolf fairytales.
It's actually kind of cute, though she's not stupid enough to point that out to Derek.
"Well, keep trying." She sighs. "I still wish it were someone other than Jackson or Lydia, but they're the only two people we know who've been bitten and not turned." She drops her phone and curls both hands around her coffee. "The question is what qualifies as not turned? Scott and I checked on Lydia's bite when we were in the hospital. It didn't heal. That means it didn't take at all, right?"
Derek sits at her desk, leaning forward. "It would seem that way."
"Well, then, what about Jackson?" Stiles sips her coffee, wishing she'd gone to more of Scott's lacrosse practices. If she had, then maybe she might have caught Jackson with his shirt off and, oh god, that is just so many levels of yeughhhh to really think about.
She makes a face and tries to focus on Derek. "Jackson's healed, but—" he shakes his head. "Something else went wrong with it. That's why we're going to test him first."
"We took a sample of the venom."
"Ah," Stiles nods. "Okay. It's the whole snakes can't be poisoned by their own venom thing, right? Which, yeah, great idea I think, but go with me on something." She presses her lips together before saying, "Uh, well, just because the kanima is all scaly doesn't mean that it's a snake. So, if it is not actually a snake or snake-related...might that not, you know, completely throw off the curve?"
Derek frowns. "...possibly."
"Yeah, you're going to need a better plan than that, dude," Stiles decides. "With our luck, next time the kanima decides to go after your ass—"
"My—" Derek glares at her. "Why do you think it was after me? You were the one it saw at the garage."
"Maybe it saw you too," Stiles says. "We don't know how long it was there before it decided to kill the mechanic." She picks at her robe, not wanting to look at him when she says, "When I got out of the pool to go for my phone? It tried to stop me from coming back for you. As long as I didn't try to get into the water, it stayed right where it was, but the second I went for it—" She shrugs and sneaks a look at him. "That's when it went after me again."
"It was trying to protect you from me?" Derek's frown turns thoughtful.
"If I had to guess, yeah, that's what I think it was doing." Stiles stretches her legs out, running her fingertips over one. Huh. She should've shaved. Not that she's the hairiest at the best of times, but still... and she really doesn't need to be thinking about hairy legs right now. Not that it isn't an improvement on thinking about scaly shapeshifters who want to paralyze you from the neck down in a bid to potentially protect you from harmless werewolves. "Which, yeah, totally weird, right?"
"Yeah." Derek's voice is distracted, but when she looks up, he's just looking at her. It's a minute or two before he blinks and asks, "What were you looking for last night?"
Stiles squints, looking at him. "Pretty sure I'm probably not supposed to tell you that."
Derek doesn't grin, but she thinks that, maybe, on some level he wants to. "Scott took something from the Argents, didn't he? Something we can use?"
At that moment, Stiles really, really hates werewolves. She really hates the part where she can't lie to them. She knows that any answer she gives him is going to tell Derek exactly what he wants to hear. Truth or lie, he's going to know and that is so fucking unfair.
"I hate werewolves," she mutters. "I really, really, really hate werewolves."
"What was it, Stiles," Derek says, edging closer on the chair. "What does Scott have?"
"Uh, no," Stiles looks up, grinning. "You might know we have something, but no way in hell am I telling you what it is." She points at him. "You want me to trust you, buddy, you've got to start returning the favor. You want to know what Scott has, you ask Scott."
"It's not that simple, Stiles," Derek says, standing up. Oh, creeper wolf is going for the tall, intimidating look huh? Well she's not playing ball on that one.
Stiles shifts back on the bed, folds her arms, and glares at him. Sure, she's in nothing but a fluffy robe with wet hair, but he's alive because of her and no way in hell is she scared of him. "Uh, yeah, it is. You're supposed to be the Alpha, right? Well, time to start acting like one. You want Scott in your pack, he has to be able to trust you and so do the others, if they can't? They're not going to stick around."
Derek makes a noise in the back of his throat. Not quite a growl, not quite whatever else, but something and it is complete and total annoyance.
Stiles lifts her chin. "Pool. Two hours. Old rule--she who saves your ass gets to chew your ass out when you fuck up."
Derek sits on the bed and glares at her some more.
She glares right back, ignoring the way her heart is racing and she is more than a little intimidated right now. "Seriously, Derek," she says, quieter. "I get it. Being Alpha doesn't just mean protecting your pack. It means protecting everyone in your territory and, right now, none of us is safe. I get that, but you can't just stomp around and growl a lot. You need to talk to people and, no, you can't get me to relay everything to Scott. I'm not the girl he listens to anymore anyway."
"Uh, and, well, in the vein of actually talking to people," she bites her lip, ignoring the way that Derek's staring at her now. "Lydia might be remembering what Peter did to her and, uh, if she is--"
"You want to tell her." Derek's voice flattens. Zero inflections. No idea as to what he's thinking about all this and, yeah, that isn't terrifying at all.
"Want? No. Wanting not really in the picture here. Need is the word of the day, Derek. I need to tell her."
Stiles picks at her robe. "I just can't do it without your okay. It's not my secret to tell."
"Can she handle it?"
That isn't the response Stiles was expecting and she nearly spills her coffee. God, her co-ordination sucks so much ass. "Lydia? Lydia can handle anything. She's Lydia. Which is to say she's totally cold-blooded, logical, and scary-ass ruthless about pretty much everything. So, yeah, I think she can handle it."
"And this would not be your crush talking, right?" Derek asks.
"Nope. My crush is screaming to keep her the hell out of this so she'll be safe." And that's why Stiles doesn't let her hormones decide things. Her hormones are fucking stupid about this stuff. Not knowing about werewolves certainly didn't help Scott or Lydia stay safe in the first place.
Knowing about them didn't keep Stiles safe either.
She breathes deep and closes her eyes. "She was there, Derek. It's only a matter of time before she remembers and we need to get ahead of this. Lydia's kind of terrifying. If she's going to be on anyone's side, we want it to be ours."
It would probably help if she knew which side that was. She genuinely doesn't and how fucking weird is it that she feels genuinely caught between Scott and Derek?
She doesn't even like Derek.
"And, uh, about the testing? Let's not kill anyone until we know for sure if we can save them or not."
Derek looks at her. "We might not have a choice, Stiles. People are dying."
"I know," Stiles says, sighing. "I was there for one of them, remember?" She puts her coffee aside and closes her eyes. "Whoever the kanima is, they didn't ask for this, and it's not fair to punish them for things they don't even remember doing."
"Maybe not," Derek says, "but it's not fair to risk the entire town's safety either. You said it yourself, Stiles, they're my responsibility."
And he has enough deaths on his conscience already. She doesn't understand that, really, but she can see how much Derek blames himself for the fire.
"Let's just be sure, okay?" she asks, her voice softer than she'd planned. "We need to be sure."
"We will be," Derek promises. "We will be."
She doesn't believe him, but that's okay. She has a feeling Derek doesn't believe it either.
She wants to tell him so much, but she can't imagine it happening either. Not without risking a lot of lives--her Dad's most of all.
Lydia doesn't show.
It's not really a surprise if Stiles lets herself really think about it. She doesn't have a choice but face what happened to her. There's no shying away from the werewolf side of the story when your best friend since forever is one and another is, well, the slightly-less-creepy nephew of the guy who kidnapped you. The slightly-less-creepy nephew who used to show up and throw you into stuff, but now seems, well, worried about you.
"Which isn't, in any way, totally unnerving or anything," Stiles mutters, getting a glass of water before returning to the couch. She's spent her day drifting between it and her bed, too sore and too tired to really do more than pick at her computer and stare expectantly at her cell.
Part of her envies Lydia a little. She can pretend that everything's normal. She can ignore the truth where Stiles can't.
Of course, in Stiles' case, it's usually because the truth is trying to do her bodily harm, but whatever. She can't pretend and Lydia shouldn't either. "It's just going to bite you in the ass," she tells her cell. "And in this town? That just might be a literal sort of thing."
Her dad is just getting home when she finally admits that, yes, Lydia isn't coming. It's okay to be freaked out. She's sending when Dad walks through the door. We can talk later.
"Hey Dad," she says, when he walks through the door, having stowed his gun and changed his clothes. "Yes, I have been here, no I am not skipping off, also no it is not contagious, and don't worry there will be no embarrassing conversations about any parts of my anatomy." Which, yes, had been a truly awkward day in the Stilinski home. Her Dad had looked so relieved when she'd admitted to already having called Scott's mom.
"Okay," he says, leaning down to kiss the top of her head, "Feeling better at least?"
"Mostly," Stiles says. "Back to school tomorrow anyway." She definitely can't leave Scott to his own devices longer than one day and Lydia—well, she doesn't know how Derek's testing is going, but she can't leave Lydia alone either.
Besides, they need to talk.
"Something smells good," Dad comments, brushing a hand over her hair as he straightens up. "You shouldn't be cooking if you're not feeling well."
"Frozen pizza," Stiles says, opening her laptop again. "Trust me. Not that strenuous." Or nutritional, but she almost died last night and she can't tell her Dad. No matter how much she wants to tug him down on the couch and curl up like she's six and still naive enough to believe everything's right in the world. "And it's embarrassing that you look that excited about a frozen pizza."
"It's pizza, honey," Dad grins. "Frozen or not, in my books that is totally worth celebrating." He disappears into the kitchen and comes back with two plates. She had caved and chopped up some peppers and mushrooms to spice the thing up, so it's not just frozen and it actually smells good when he puts one of them in front of her. "Not to mention pizza with my best girl. That's worth getting excited over." He settles beside her. "Things have just been so busy lately. I miss spending time with you."
"I'm okay, Dad," she says, picking at her pizza. "No nightmares about the garage or anything."
Anything, of course, being a pretty long list. Nearly drowning, nearly being bitte—Stiles blinks and shuts that thought down before she can feel Peter's fangs skim the inside of her wrist.
He'd loved her skin, had been almost obsessed with it, and she know the memories are right there waiting for the chance to push their way back into her head. She breathes deep and pushes back. Not today, dude. Definitely not today.
"Hey," Dad's arm wraps around her shoulders and tugs her into a one-armed hug. She snuggles into him and, yeah, she's not six anymore, but that doesn't stop her from feeling better than she has in weeks. "You're allowed to be freaked out, Stiles. You know that right? You don't always have to be fine."
She likes to fix things. She knows that. She likes to make things better for everyone. It helps. Most of the time, she feels like an alien in her own skin. Nothing makes sense at all, but when Scott turned, when he needed her, she sort of clicked. She takes care of him. She takes care of her Dad.
It feels completely wrong to be on the other side of it. She doesn't know how to be this and she's itching to do something.
"I'm okay, Dad. Freaked out, I guess, but okay." And if not okay, then she can definitely see it from here. "I just wish things were different." That she hadn't gone to the dance that night. That she hadn't taken Scott into the woods. That Mom was alive, the Hale house never burned, and wow, she is so completely maudlin tonight.
"You and me both, kiddo," Dad says. He hasn't even touched his pizza. It's sitting on his plate next to hers. That says just how worried about her he really is. Dad never passes up a shot at junk food. Not ever. "I wish you didn't have to live with seeing that."
If he only knew what she was living with...
Stiles feels a flush of guilt at the thought. She wants to tell him. She wants to tell him so much, but there's no way. She was there when Derek killed Peter. She sort of helped. That's not something Dad can overlook easily. Peter totally had it coming, sure, but a homicide is still a homicide.
Dad presses a kiss into her hair. "God, I wish you would talk to me."
She blinks. Well, didn't see that one coming. "I'm not sure I can find the right words, Dad," she confesses, unwilling to hold that back. It's pretty much the truth. To explain the dance, she'd have to explain werewolves, and the Hales, and the Argents, and the totally fucked up file sitting on her computer. Digging into Derek's family started out some way to explain Peter (she needs to know that he really wasn't always the creepy psycho fuck that ripped so many lives apart), but Stiles thinks it might be turning into something more now. There's history there, a lot of it, and she's a cop's daughter. She knows what those tiny maybe-nothing clues can turn into. She's seen the way these investigations can go, she's watched her Dad do it more than once, and she has the same feeling now that she did in those cases. It's right there and, god, she wants to tell him so badly. She wants to sit at the dining room table and spread out her information and go back and forth, she wants to figure this out with him, to show him this world and all the things she's accomplished in it. She wants Scott to tell him how she's helped him get a handle on the whole being a werewolf thing.
She wants to tell him so much, but she can't imagine it happening either. Not without risking a lot of lives--her Dad's most of all.
She can't do that. She can't ever do that. The idea of any of this touching him makes her stomach twist and rebel. Her Dad is everything.
Stiles shakes her head. "I just need to find a way around it. Into it, maybe? I don't know, but I can't do it yet. Not like this."
Dad looks at her, worried, but he nods. "I get it." He leans in, pressing his head to hers, and she snuggles closer. "Doesn't mean I won't stop trying to figure it out either."
"Well, you know," she manages, "everyone needs a hobby. Though I'd probably recommend something a little less fraught with danger." Because, wow, her brain is a total shop of horrors right now. "Maybe base jumping or brain surgery?"
"Brain surgery is not a hobby, Stiles," Dad says, grinning. "At least I hope it isn't. Imagine how that goes."
She giggles a bit, relieved to be on safer subjects. "Neurosurgery? Yeah, it's just a weekend thing. Most days I'm an accountant. Hey, maybe that's what happened to the teachers at school?" God knows, she can't think of a better explanation for Finstock. Also Harris, the dick.
Her dad blinks. "You know, that would explain your Econ teacher."
"Exactly what I was thinking!" Stiles beams at him. "See, apple and tree. We are so it. Well, except for your appalling eating habits."
Dad snorts. "Honey, I've seen what you call a late night snack."
Stiles realizes he's talking about the food Derek bought on their way home last night. Because, however, she is a wise, intelligent young woman with a healthy sense of self-preservation (and because she spent two hours in a pool keeping his ass alive) she doesn't tell him that.
Instead, she blushes and shrugs. "I am a teenager. My intentions are good, but my stomach is a raging hypocrite."
Along with other organs she's not in any hurry to name because, well, see aforementioned reasoning where her Dad, potential felonies, and Derek Hale are concerned.
Dad chuckles. "Cute."
"I thought so," she says, with another big smile. "Now eat your pizza. You can't have another one for at least a month."
"You do remember that I'm the parent in this situation, right?" he asks, but he's picking up the pizza as he says so.
"Yup," she grabs hers. "But if you ground me, then you can't sneak out for burgers with the guys on the nights I'm at Scott's."
He stops, mid-chew, and looks at her. Ah, so that's what it looks like when she gets busted mid-lie. Cool.
Stiles takes a deliberately dainty bite of pizza before saying, sweet as honey, "Sheriff's daughter, Dad. I know from sneaky."
Which, ha, biggest understatement ever.
"I admit to nothing," Dad says, reaching for a napkin, "but you are absolutely not grounded this friday night at eight, got it?"
"Okay, but no curly fries."
"Nothing, Stiles," Dad mutters into the napkin. "This is me not admitting it."
"Same here, Dad, same here."
She doesn't need to be talking about this with Scott and, wow, she's a little pissed at Derek for dragging it all back up again.
She should have seen it coming, yesterday's radio silence had been a glaring warning, but Stiles is still a little surprised to find Scott waiting by the jeep in the morning. She hefts her bag on her shoulder, the weight of which makes her anticipate so many future back problems, and looks at him with dubious eyes. "You could have called."
He scratches the back of his neck, looking guilty. "I wasn't sure you'd answer. Last night—"
Man, but she hates when he looks like this. Even before Scott was a werewolf, he had the puppy eyes cold. He's a damn master at them now and Stiles hates that look. She hates it a lot. "Stop it," she mutters, getting into the jeep. She loves her jeep. She does. It is perfect. Old, sometimes cranky, eccentric as hell, and she loves it. Right now, though, she hates that it doesn't have a radio so. much.
A radio would totally come in handy. Blast the tunes to send her BFF and his delicate werewolf hearing running for the hills.
Depending on her choice in tunes, possibly literally.
"Stop what?" Scott asks, sad-facing even more.
She dumps her bag on the backseat and then glares at him. It's ridiculous how irritating his face is right now. "You know what. I have legitimate reasons to be pissed at you, McCall, so quit making that face."
Sliding into the jeep with her, Scott frowns. "What was Derek talking about last night? What aren't you telling me?"
Starting the jeep and backing out onto the street takes much less concentration than Stiles puts into it. She's always been particularly shameless when it comes to some things. Stalling has always been top of that particular pile. She is engaging in some champion stalling right now.
"Stiles, what was he talking about? It wasn't just about me being—" Scott's cheeks redden. "It wasn't just about Allison, was it? I know we got a little caught up." Understatement of the freaking century, really. Stiles bites her lip and doesn't comment. She wants to, but she lets him finish. "We didn't mean to."
"It wasn't that" she says. "Not really." Breathing deep against the lump in her throat, Stiles tries to ignore the mind-numbing terror that's creeping up on her at the thought of addressing this. She doesn't want to talk about it, she doesn't ever want to talk about it, and she was doing great with that not talking. She was. She doesn't need to talk, she's had a bunch of time to process all her traumas. The guidance counselor in middle school had been big on processing. She could write a book based on his advice.
Not that she's been following that advice since Peter Hale sashayed his way into her life, but she's fine. Really.
She doesn't need to be talking about this with Scott and, wow, she's a little pissed at Derek for dragging it all back up again.
"You never asked," she finally says. "That night after the dance. You never asked what happened."
Her voice wobbles and she has no idea why Derek thought she'd make a better wolf than Scott. She is so freaking out right now. Completely freaking out right now. She hates it. She hates feeling like this and, god, how is she supposed to help anybody when she can't even ask her own best friend a stupid question?
"I—Peter—I thought—" Scott lowers his head. "I thought you didn't want to talk about it. It was just-- I thought it would make things worse. Then things started getting worse and—" he looks at her, all hangdog and puppy-eye and, wow, trying to hold out on this is like willfully kicking a puppy.
"Scott—" It's kind of sweet in a sad sort of way. She forgets, sometimes, how not good with conflict Scott really is. It's been so long since his Dad was even here that it's easy to forget how bad it was. How much Scott doesn't like it when other people hurt.
"I guess I thought it would drag everything back up for you," Scott says, squaring his shoulders and looking at her. God, he feels awful. That's the worst part of it. Scott's kind of a lousy liar when it comes to her and, yeah, there's no way he'd be able to hold out on her about anything. He feels like ass over this. "But you know you can always tell me stuff, right? If you want to talk about what happened with Peter, I am totally here. I'll always be here."
Unless Allison crooks a finger at him, but Stiles is mostly okay with that. Really. She's not okay-okay, but she can deal. If it were—if it were Lydia (and, yeah, she's just going to pretend that no other names popped into her head right in that second) she'd probably be disappearing on him too.
"I know," she says, soft and hesitant. "Trust me. I do." She breathes deep, in and out, aware that they're going to be late for school if she doesn't get them moving, but this feels like a moment. Like it's something important and she just doesn't want to rush it. "I think I just wanted someone to ask."
And the only one who did was Derek. She's not sure how to take that. She doesn't know what to do with a Derek that isn't crowding her space, trying to order her around, much less one that seems genuinely concerned about her.
"And I didn't," Scott says, morose. "I screwed up."
"Yeah, you kinda did, buddy," Stiles says. She wants to jump in and reassure him, but she doesn't. She just doesn't.
It's not like they didn't talk about it, really, but the discussion had been all about Peter and Lydia. All sanitized and neat. Nothing about Peter's eyes when he watched her, or the way his fingers stroked over her skin, and definitely nothing about the way his voice had gone soft and tempting when he'd made his offer.
Scott reaches out, his hand warm on hers, and she jumps.
He frowns. "Are you—what was that look?"
Stiles shakes her head. "I just think about it sometimes. I say something, do something, and it's right there in my head."
"I should have said something sooner," Scott looks morose. "It shouldn't have taken Derek to get me to ask."
"Maybe," she says, quietly, "but I wasn't in any hurry to talk about it. I don't like thinking about this, Scott. Peter's dead and gone. Can't we just leave him that way?"
"Not if it means burying you with him," Scott tugs her hand into his. "You're my best friend, Stiles. I know you hate asking for help, but you keep saving my life. Maybe I can return the favor just a little bit?"
"Maybe," Stiles says, biting the inside of her cheek. "I don't know. I'd really rather just leave it in the past, you know?"
"Yeah, but I don't think you can do that," Scott says, serious as the grave. "I don't think it's going to let you."
She scowls. "Probably not, but can't we talk about something else right now? I need light and airy after the last couple of days. Like, say, would now be a good time to admit to my massively inappropriate ladyboner for all things Derek Hale?"
HA. Yeah, no, totally not happening, but it's worth it for the way Scott's face transforms from concern to grossed out.
"Ugh, Stiles!!!" Scott waves a hand at her. "That was just completely wrong! Please tell me you're joking? Please? I don't think I could handle it if you were serious right now."
"I'm not, I promise," Stiles says, grinning. Okay, mostly she is. Mostly. She doesn't have a Derek-related ladyboner, but she has a something. She doesn't know what it is, or why she has it, but it's there and it gets worse the more she's around him.
"You know you're kind of lying, right?" Scott asks, looking a little ill.
"He's hot, Scott," Stiles says, sighing. "He is the kind of hot that even you, the straightest of the straight, cannot possibly ignore." Personally, she thinks Scott's more Allison-sexual than anything, but that's completely beside the point. "I am a young, healthy woman in the midst of the hormonal storm that is adolescence. There's a certain physiological response that just cannot be denied."
And, wow, that is quite possibly the most godawful thing she's ever admitted to Scott in her life. And that includes trying to explain having a period. (Some day, Scott is going to get married. Whoever that woman is? She is going to owe Stiles big)
Scott yanks his hand back and glares at her. "I do not need to know this, Stiles. I really, really do not."
She grins, but it's a shy thing. "I don't have a thing for Derek, Scott. It's just—weird. I almost died trying to save him. You don't go through something like that without consequences. It was kind of a bonding experience."
"Bonding experience?" Scott's voice is faint. "Like—emotionally?"
"Oh, no, totally sexual," she says, rolling her eyes as she starts the jeep. "You'd be surprised, Scott, but even when he's paralyzed from the neck down, Derek is a total stud. Frankly, I'll be walking funny for a month and the swimming had nothing to do with it."
She really needs to stop having conversations that are basically her blurting out a bunch of 'oh god, oh god, we're all going to die' factoids.
To her relief, Stiles gets to lose track of Scott when they get to school. It's sad, but yeah, the fact that they don't share her first class and he's in a remedial class when she has study hall is probably a good thing. She manages to get some research on creepy scaly buddy (okay, kanima, but she likes creepy scaly buddy better) after she finishes a paper and catches up on a few other things. It's good, sometimes, to get away from all things werewolf (ignoring the kanima research, though that is kind of up her alley anyway) and just be a normal kid.
Sure, most normal kids don't need to spend days home recuperating from nearly drowning trying to save a werewolf from drowning, but she's allowed to pretend. The worst part is that no matter how much she pretends otherwise, the 'real' world always comes snarling back to her door.
She's coming out of the library, digging in her bag for her phone and cursing the existence of tote bags in general, when she runs smack into said world. She starts to apologize, but then she realizes just who it is. Isaac. As in everyone's favorite fugitive from the law.
Stiles yelps, pinwheeling backwards in an attempt to stay upright. She's all too aware of the picture she makes when she does this. She's had more than one person volunteer to to enlighten her over the years. She has an impressive amount of hate for the people who do that. Seriously impressive, but pales in comparison to the feeling she has right now.
Fucking werewolves. Just once, she wants to not make a complete moron of herself because of a stupid werewolf. Okay, sure, she's plenty capable of making a complete moron out of herself without werewolves, but Derek's pack seems dead-set on helping.
"Sorry," he says, sounding genuine. It's a little jarring. That night in the police station doesn't rank that high in her nightmares (Peter tends to take up a space) but it rates a mention. She's a long way from going into shock, but her skin is absolutely crawling right now. It's not really fair to him. Sure, he's been a complete dick to everybody else, but Isaac's been really careful around her since that night. She probably shouldn't be cringing away from him like this and, oh god, she can see the worry about it on his face. It's probably why he's fidgeting a little when he says, "I just thought I should let you know I was, uh, in school again? So you didn't--"
"Freak out like I just did?" Stiles smiles. "Yeah, that probably was going to happen either way. All the warning in the world's not going to stop me from being me. So, um, no offense intended, but why aren't you skulking in Derek's shadow right now?"
Okay, so that was a little harsh, but still, she thinks she's got a right to ask.
"Jackson recanted his story."
Jackson? She wonders why for about thirty seconds before she catches up and Isaac looks away. "Derek's already tested him, hasn't he?" She looks around as if she asks it, feeling stupid even when she does. If Jackson was the kanima, he wasn't going to pop up and snake out right in front of her.
Isaac doesn't answer. He sort of shrinks into his leather jacket (seriously, it's cute, Derek must get a pack discount or something) and completely fails at werewolf entirely.
"He did, huh?" Stiles asks, freaking out too much to be smug about reading him right. Derek tested Jackson and Isaac is here. Derek tested Jackson and that means... "He passed, didn't he? Jackson passed." Which means Lydia is next. Jackson's not the kanima and the only other possibility is Lydia.
Hefting her bookbag on her shoulder, Stiles points at him. "Do not touch her, okay? It's not Lydia. I don't care what Derek thinks, it's not her and you're not going to do whatever he told you. Got it?"
"Stiles," Isaac looks a little miserable. "We don't have a choice, you know what that thing is doing. If it's her--"
Stiles doesn't give him a chance to argue the point. She whirls around and rushes in the other direction. She needs to find Scott and she needs to find him now.
It takes her way too long to find Scott. Way too long. She's breathing hard and panicking a whole hell of a lot when she finally does. Not even stopping to explain, she grabs Scott by the arm and drags him down the hall with her.
"Good news," she says. "Did some digging. Only mention of a kanima I found is some South American legend about a werejaguar that kills murderers. Bad news is I'm not sure how the hell that translates to creepy scaly buddy or his targets, but oh yeah, Isaac is out because Jackson recanted his story--and wow, Dad must be pissed--and also, uh, they tested him and no scales were popped."
She stops, sucking in a quick breath, and looks at him. "You know that means they have to test Lydia next, right? Because they do, and there's no way it's her, Scott. Besides, why would creepy scaly buddy be hunting--oh god, this is about--hang on," she scowls. "If the kanima is about killing murderers, why the hell was it stalking me and Derek?" Okay, sure, she was sort of involved in Peter dying, but that can't count. Peter was the murderer. Derek had been trying to end a war when he killed Peter. She's not sure if Scott's caught on to that yet, but she's seen the photos of Kate's body. She knows Allison's pendant (the very one she'd been wearing that night) had been found with the body.
Lowering her voice, she all but hisses at Scott, "There is no way the thing with Peter counts as murder."
He looks a torn as she does. "I don't think so? Maybe? If all you've got is one legend and whatever Derek told you, then no? I have no idea, Stiles. This is your thing, but you know I'm not gonna let it near you, right?"
She smiles. "Yeah, dude, I know." Leaning against the wall, she tries not to have a panic attack. She gets mad at him sometimes. She can't tell him that, she'll never tell him that, but she does. There are moments when she thinks about Peter and everything that's happened to her since Scott got bit and she gets mad.
It doesn't make any sense, though. It can't. She's the reason Scott got bit. She dragged him out into the woods that night. All of this is her fault and, oh god, she's going to get him killed, isn't she? He's going to do something stupid some day, maybe trying to protect her or Allison, and he's going to die. The hunters-- "I am so, so sorry, Scott," she blurts out, looking at him. "You need to know that."
Scott blinks. "I need--Stiles, are you sure you're okay? Maybe you should just make it a half-day or something?"
She shakes her head. "No, I just needed to say it. None of this would be happening if it hadn't been for me and, yeah, I'm so sorry about that."
He looks blind-sided. "You still think about--that wasn't your fault, Stiles. It was Peter. He would have gotten someone that night. It was just my luck that it was me."
"Your luck and my stupid curiosity." Wow, where the hell had that come from? Stiles has never liked her brain much, but she's really developing a new appreciation for how much her subconscious hates her to infinity.
Scott rolls his eyes. "You don't get to blame yourself for that one, Stiles," he points out. "After all, if it had been someone else, maybe they wouldn't have had a you to help them. Peter might have kept right on going and built up a huge pack. Who knows how many people would have died?" He wraps an arm around her neck, dragging her companionably down the hall with him. "I don't blame you and you've got way too much stuff to deal with right now to be blaming you, so can we just figure out what we're going to do about your creepy stalker buddy?"
"Creepy scaly buddy," Stiles corrects. "Oh, and Derek's maybe guessed what we were doing at the school the other night?" She really needs to stop having conversations that are basically her blurting out a bunch of 'oh god, oh god, we're all going to die' factoids.
Really. She needs to stop that stuff right now. Okay, maybe tomorrow, because she still has a fuckton of factoids left to be blurting.
And, god, could her inner monologues be anymore ridiculous?
"He asked, I said nothing, but he totally wolf'd out that I was hiding something." She shrugs. "I told him to tell you." And she probably needs to talk to Derek right now. She had a feeling that his grand plan to test their kanima suspects wouldn't work and, yeah, if Jackson passed, then she's sure of it. "It's not her, Scott. I know it isn't. I've been staring into Lydia's eyes since first grade. Those were not her eyes."
And creepy scaly buddy had been way too interested in her to have been Lydia anyway. Lydia's complete obliviousness as to Stiles' very existence is practically a defining trait at this point.
It's not her. It's not.
"We need a plan," she says, and looks at him. "Got that phone I gave you?" The one that, by now, is probably completely clogged with stupid, sappy texts singing of his and Allison's pure, untainted love.
He nods, holding it up.
"Good. Text Allison. We need to get together after Econ and figure out what the hell we're going to do."
Well, they're going to figure it out. She's going to spend her lunch hour yelling at Derek.
Yay, her life.
She just needs to buy some time. That's all. Just long enough that they can figure out what to do.
That shouldn't take long at all, right?
God, she hates Econ.
Most of the time, Stiles doesn't really care either way. School is a necessary evil that must be endured . It's not fun (actually, usually there's just enough social humiliation involved that it's fucking awful) but she can get through it. Her 'behavioural issues' aside, she does fine.
Econ is usually entertaining. Not the class, that sucks, but Finstock can usually put on a pretty good show of it. Finstock is a handful and a half at the best of times (she has no idea how he manages to function as a real, live human being), but the closer they get to anything approaching a championship, the worse he gets. She doesn't enjoy it, but at least she isn't bored. Bored is bad.
Today, though, she hates Econ. Finstock's at his finest with midterms tomorrow. They're not state, but they're as close to it as he's going to get for now.
Which is good, because when Jackson walks into the room, Stiles realizes that she's going to need Finstock as oblivious as she can get him. She doesn't have time to wait for lunch. Not when Jackson sits down behind them and demands to know, "What the hell is a kanima?"
Oh, yeah, she needs to talk to Derek now.
She reaches into her bag, digging for her phone, hoping to sneak off a text. She glances back, catching Scott's eye as Jackson looks from one to the other.
"Kanima?" she echoes, as innocent as she can manage.
"Yeah, kanima," Jackson says, nodding. "What is it, and why the hell does Derek want it dead?"
Scott looks at her like she kicked his puppy and she shrugs. She definitely didn't say a word. Their mutual appreciation for Lydia aside, she hates Jackson. The guy is the tool other tools are too good to associate with. There are not going to be any heart to hearts with the guy anytime soon. She doesn't care how good the guy is in bed, she can't imagine putting up with Jackson for more than five seconds.
She's about at her limit now.
"He wants a pair of snakeskin boots," Stiles opens her text book, keeping her eyes on the front of the room. Look at her, super secret agent Stiles, all covert and undercover-like. "How the hell should I know? It's not like Derek cares enough to drop your name every time he—" she bites her lip as soon as the words are out. Right. She probably shouldn't be casually talking about Derek like this. Not when there's a lot Scott still doesn't know about, uh, whatever it is she and Derek are working out. (There's a lot she doesn't know either, but that's definitely not the point right now)
"Every time he what?" Scott asks. "Stiles?"
Stiles doesn't meet his eyes, just looks back at Jackson. "So, uh, it worked on you, huh?"
He glares. "Yes, it worked. Of course it did. I was paralyzed from the neck down, do you have any idea how that feels?"
"God, you're oblivious," she snaps back. "Pay attention to the news lately? If you had, you might've seen the part about the murder and the mysteriously temporary paralysis that made the local sheriff's daughter an unwilling witness to the whole thing." She hears a crack and looks down in surprise, realizing that she's snapped her pencil in half.
Huh. Possibly, she's still not quite over that.
She hates Finstock. She does, but she could probably french the guy when he zeroes in on their little conversation, charging down through the desks toward them to shut it down. Seriously, best timing ever. Especially since she really does need to send that text and to not be talking about any of this right now.
As soon as the class gets going, Stiles sticks a notebook atop her text, slipping her phone beneath it. It feels like it takes an eternity to type out the short text, but she manages. It isn't much. She doesn't need much.
If you're skulking in the parking lot, we need to talk. It isn't her.
She turns her head, looking at Scott. "Yeah?"
"How are we sure it's not Lydia?"
She glares again. "Because scaly buddy and I have spent quality time and I can promise you that it was not Lydia. There was eye contact, Scott. Sustained eye contact. Plus, I think that thing tried to protect me from Derek at the pool and, uh, why would she do that? Lydia doesn't even know Derek, much less know about Derek."
Scott opens his mouth to argue, but that's when Lydia flips out. Stiles sits there, looking at the board and the backwards writing that turns out to be a plea for help, and feels Scott's eyes on her.
"It isn't," she mutters under her breath, and reaches out as Lydia passes to touch her hand. Lydia starts, jumpy and nervous, and looks down at her with eyes that are tear-filled. "I meant what I said in the text," Stiles says. She can guess how her heartbeat must sound to Scott and Derek (if he's skulking as close as she thinks he might be) but she can't help feeling nervous and she needs to get this out now. "It's okay to be freaked out and that invitation to talk is still open."
Lydia sniffs a bit, tossing her hair. "Don't be ridiculous. I'm fine."
Managing a little grin, Stiles nods. "That's what I keep telling people. You're actually a worse liar than I am." She squeezes Lydia's hand once. "After school? There's a few things you should know."
Stiles looks at Finstock and smiles her widest, prettiest, fuck-you-very-much-except-not-because-ew smile at him. "Just making sure she's okay, Coach."
"She's breathing, isn't she?"
"A good indicator of life," Stiles nods, "but not the kind of okay I was going for, sir." She puts a little more bite in her smile. This is one of those times where being a werewolf might come in handy. A little fang should put the point across nicely.
Not enough to make her want to change that, but still, fangs. Point. Yay, delicious irony.
Trying to figure out whether she's insulted him or not takes coach a little while and gives Stiles enough time to look at Lydia again and raise an eyebrow. "Okay? I did get the good booze."
Lydia considers it and then nods once. "Okay. After school."
She skins out after Econ, ducking down the stairs with her bag bouncing against her shoulder. Her shoes slap the tile as she runs for the door. She skids to a stop a few feet away from Chemistry and gets her breathing down before she sticks her head in.
Harris hates her. She's not precisely sure why. Sure, her grades aren't the best, mostly because Chemistry is so boring her eyeballs don't care enough to try bleeding, and she tends to, uh, well, be herself around him, but Harris hates her like it's his goddamn job. That's pretty much fine, she isn't really his biggest fan either.
"Take a seat, Miss Stilinski," Harris says, managing to snap out her name. It's kind of a mouthful, so she gives him credit for the sharp, shortness of it. "Class will be starting shortly."
"I, uh," Stiles crosses her fingers behind her back. "I need to run home for a bit. There's, um," she gestures with her hands, waving at herself and smiling her best 'oh shit, seriously, damn my ninja periods for sneaking up on me' smile. "I need to change and, uh, yes? Please?"
Harris looks completely disgusted. Which is good. Stiles supposes she should be embarrassed that she's breaking the chick-code and invoking menstruation as a get out of jail free card, but she's really not. It works and it makes Harris uncomfortable.
She's totally okay with lying if this is what it gets her.
Seriously. All the suffering. Harris deserves all the suffering.
Which, judging by the way he dashes off the pass with lightning speed, she's pretty sure he is. Yay.
She doesn't skip down the hall (woe, her ovaries, seriously. She's got to sell the lie. There are Argents everywhere and she has got to be careful about this) but her step stays a little lighter until she steps out of school and yes, there he is, skulking by his car.
Seriously? Worst Alpha ever.
"Whoever taught you to skulk should be completely horrified," she says, walking across the parking lot. "Allison's grandfather is the new principal." She jabs Derek in the shoulder. "You think he hasn't noticed the strapping young werewolf standing in his school's parking lot wearing an alarming amount of black leather and glaring at the students? Pretty sure that's the kind of thing hunters with a hair trigger worry about."
"It has to be her, Stiles," Derek says, looking down at her. "There's no one else."
"Or it's Jackson and your stupid test was pointless," Stiles ducks around his car, looking back at the school. "We shouldn't be talking about this here. Seriously. If Harris tells the office I'm gone—aren't you supposed to be good at this? Hunters. School. Totally a bad idea to be here and, HEY!"
Glaring up at Derek, she barely remembers to pull her bag into the car before he slams the door. "This is technically kidnapping."
"No, it isn't," he says, getting in. "We're not moving."
"Which doesn't actually help with the creeper points," Stiles says, "Though it may help my social cred." She smirks. "The sheriff's daughter and the local bad boy? Very hot stuff."
She shrugs. "Well, it is, trust me." It could be, but it isn't. If she were Lydia or Allison, then yeah, it would be, but she's not, so whatever. "Anyway, it's not her, okay? I know it's not. We need a new test."
"We haven't even tried this one on her yet," Derek points out. "Isaac and Erica—"
"Are wayyyy too new at the wolf thing to be doing this." Stiles shifts in the seat. "Plus, there's the part where Lydia could be immune to the venom anyway. She's immune to the Bite, so it's not impossible."
"Impossible." Derek probably means for it to sound all impressive and convincing, but if he does, then he misses it by a country mile. Instead, he sounds just uncertain enough to tell Stiles she maybe has an opening.
"Why? Jackson healed like he was supposed to, right? Well, Lydia didn't. She healed like anyone else. Like the wound was normal. That says she's immune. However the whole Bite works, it's probably some kind of viral transmission that rewrites genetic code. So, if it is? Then there's a chance she's immune to it. It's totally possible."
Derek sighs. "It isn't, Stiles."
"Yes, it is," Stiles gets out of the car, looking down at him. "And you are not going to lay one claw on that perfect head of hers, because if you do?" She shrugs. "We're not buddies anymore."
"We aren't buddies now."
"Better hope we are," Stiles says, brandishing her new phone at him. "Otherwise, I start making unpleasant phone calls."
"Don't want to, no," she shrugs. "It's Lydia, dude. If there's one thing you don't mess with...now, if you'll excuse me, I have to drive home and arrange an alibi for Chemistry now. Probably best if you make yourself scarce. Allison might be catching a ride home with her grandfather and I'm pretty sure he doesn't like you much."
She actually feels a little guilty about this. She does. Turning around, Stiles makes herself walk away before she caves and apologizes.
She just needs to buy some time. That's all. Just long enough that they can figure out what to do.
That shouldn't take long at all, right?
"God, we're doomed," she mutters and heads for her jeep.
So completely doomed.
Immunity is good, immunity is totally good, and Stiles knows this because if Lydia weren't immune she would either be dead or Derek would be in serious, serious trouble. Yeah, immunity is totally good, but right now it's also really, really fucking inconvenient.
As she'd told Harris and Derek both she would, Stiles runs home and changes her clothes. For authenticity's sake (hey, making the lie as close to truth as possible totally sells it) she changes her jeans and her shirts, then grabs an apple before bolting back to the school.
Actually, the apple's got nothing to do with it, but a girl's gotta eat. She gulps the thing in quick bites, pitches the core out the window and makes it back to school in record time. Except, it doesn't do her a damn bit of good because as soon as she opens the door to Chemistry, she sees Scott's face and knows.
Aw, shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
"Just remember," she mutters under her breath, hoping Derek's close enough to hear, "It's totally possible."
"Ah, Miss Stilinski," Harris says, and wow, it's amazing how he can make just her name sound like a sneer. Somebody's getting a bonus essay on their next quiz. She's thinking something long, verbose and probably about impotency.
She's pretty sure she's had more orgasms than Harris. Hell, Finstock has probably had more orgasms than Harris.
Which, oh god, is a thought she is never, ever allowed to have again.
"Please, feel free to join us now that your personal matter has been attended to." Harris nods his head. "I believe Mr. Lahey and Miss Martin have a seat free."
She smiles her best 'fuck you with a rusty chainsaw' smile at him. "All taken care of, thank you sir." And she thinks she deserves credit that her heart doesn't race when she drops down on the stool next to Isaac.
Okay, that's mostly because she's still processing the part where they've tested Lydia and nothing happened.
Isaac looks at her and says something, leaning in so Lydia can't hear. Which, yes, is smart, but Stiles nearly tips off the stool in her rush to avoid him and completely misses the question. More than a few snickers go through the class and she rolls her eyes on his behalf.
"Sorry," she says, fixing her stool. "I, uh, wasn't expecting that."
Over Isaac's shoulder she sees Lydia flip her hair. Definitely no paralysis. Not good. So many levels of not good. Fuck. Immunity is good, immunity is totally good, and Stiles knows this because if Lydia weren't immune she would either be dead or Derek would be in serious, serious trouble. Yeah, immunity is totally good, but right now it's also really, really fucking inconvenient.
Isaac says her name and she blinks, realizing she's totally spaced out on him. Apologizing again, she looks at him. "What?"
He waves a hand at the door. "When you came in, you said it's totally possible. What's totally possible?"
"God I miss being able to mutter at people in peace," Stiles says, flipping open her notebook and then grabbing the one in front of him so she can copy the completely pointless notes and make it look good to all concerned. It takes her about two sentences to realize what experiment Harris had them doing and she looks up at Lydia with more than a little shock.
Seriously? Lydia actually ate something that these guys had a hand in?
God. Lydia's supposed to be the genius.
She shakes her head and keeps writing. "I was talking to Derek," she says, remembering to whisper. "Not you. For the record, though, it goes double for you. That test was bogus so you keep your hands off the perfectly formed goods."
"Sorry," Isaac says, looking anything but. "Can't. Derek made it clear. If she fails—"
"—she dies, I figured, hence my words of warning." Stiles glares at him. "You're not a complete asshole, Isaac, and I actually kind of like you when you aren't trying to turn me into puppy chow, but there's a few things you haven't noticed. One? While totally understandable, the power trip you're currently on is totally unattractive and guaranteed to get you no game. Witness your Alpha's ever-increasing sexual frustration if you don't believe and, oh yeah, speaking of your Alpha, it might have escaped your notice that he's kind of new at this."
Stiles lowers her voice. Sarcasm is difficult to pull off at a whisper, but the last thing she needs is the entire class finding out about werewolves because one of them got a little too vocal about questions. They kind of keep forgetting that and, wow, she's a moron for not smacking Scott and herself for that. Inside voice, Stiles, inside. voice.
"Yeah, sure, he could be worse—believe me, he's light years ahead of Peter—but this? Not his best plan. We're working off next to no information, even less evidence, and that is not the kind of situation where you want to start—" she looks around and mouths the words, "—killing people" before whispering, "There are hunters in town, Isaac. Hunters who know who you are and what you're doing. You think Chris Argent's not looking for an excuse?"
"Nothing happened, Stiles," Isaac points out, but she thinks she rattled him with the Argent reminder. At least, she hopes so. She can't believe Derek isn't all over that. Stopping the kanima is totally not worth wiping out his entire pack and there's no way that the Argents wouldn't be totally be all over he pack killing Lydia Martin. Bad PR all around for the werewolf contingent. "You know what that means."
"Yeah, I do," Stiles nods. "She's immune to the kanima venom just like she's immune to a werewolf's bite. This is not news and, look, you might not actually be a total axe murderer or anything, but I am not going to let you hurt her. I'm serious. I told Derek the exact same thing. She is not the kanima and if you lay one finger on her I am going to end you. We clear? There will be a nice new fur coat in Lydia's closet and it's going to be rocking some pretty sweet curls."
He snorts a laugh. "You—Stiles, why do you even care? Lydia hates you. She hates everybody."
"Ahh, so part of this is getting back at the mean girl, right?" Stiles almost grins. "She doesn't hate me. Hate implies personal connection." And it's kind of sad that this is both an argument she can make and doesn't really mind making, but hey, whatever works right now. "And that's not the point. She could be the biggest bitch walking and it still wouldn't be the point. Look, I know you're totally high on the werewolf magic right now. Like I said, it's understandable. Shitty life, no power to speak of, and then all of a sudden you're like some kind of apex predator and we're all yummy little deer on the plains, but killing people? Not that easy."
"Yeah, actually, it really is," he says. "See? She won't even feel a thing." He pauses, making a face. It's probably supposed to be cocky and cavalier, but not even close. God, why do guys have to be such morons about bravado? "Okay, she probably will, but not for long."
It's bad enough he's whispering this with Lydia sitting right there (not that she seems to give a damn. Stiles has a feeling she could shove her tongue down Isaac's throat and Lydia wouldn't even notice) but then he pops the claws and she barely stops the squeak of horror.
It's only for a second, but they're there and she shoots a look Harris' way, trying not to panic.
When Harris just looks right by her, Stiles relaxes a little and goes right back to the conversation. "Believe me, Isaac, it isn't as easy as all that. Not when you really—not when they're lying there and you can hear—." She stops and tries to breathe in, though it feels like her throat is closing off. She tries not to, but she can hear the raspy rattle of Peter's breathing stuttering to a stop and wheeze away into nothing. The absence of it is a roar all its own in her ears and Stiles ducks her head, curling her fingers tight around her pencil.
"You're shaking," Isaac whispers. He shoots an alarmed look over his shoulder, probably at Erica, maybe at Lydia. If either of them notice, Stiles doesn't see. "Your heart—why are you doing that?"
"I've had a shitty year or two, okay?" Stiles says, when she can. Her voice is raspy, shaky, but she manages a pretty good imitation of a casual shrug. She sits back on the stool and lets her pencil fall to the table. "And I know what I'm talking about. From experience." And so does Derek and she's pretty sure he hasn't said a damn word to Isaac about it. Which, uh, no? Bad Alpha. Bad.
She is the teenager here. How is it she's the one thinking clearly?
Okay, maybe not clearly, but she's in the neighborhood of it and she's pretty sure Derek isn't even in the same damn town.
Scrubbing a hand through her hair, she sighs. "Look, he has to play the part for you guys, but trust me, this isn't going to be as easy as you think. If you go through with it? After? It'll be worse. You'll have her blood on your hands and, trust me, dude, there's no getting rid of it."
She ought to know. She hasn't been able to get rid of Peter yet and she wasn't even the one who cut the bastard's throat.
"Even if you don't care about her," Stiles says, meeting Isaac's eye, "For your own sake? Don't do it."
The bell rings and she flips her notebook shut.
She's still got Peter in her head, no matter how much she tries to pretend otherwise, and she knows what kind of damage the bastard can do.
After Chemistry, Scott grabs Stiles by the backpack, stopping her in her tracks when everyone else rushes for the door. She looks over her shoulder at him with raised eyebrows and a muttered, "Dude, seriously? If you rip that thing you are totally buying me a new one." She has a policy now. Werewolf-related damages come with their own insurance policy. Derek's created a monster and she does not mean Erica or Isaac. "And by new, I mean better and absolutely more expensive."
Scott grins. "Yeah, right. Only way you give up that bag is if it rots. You've had it for years."
Which, sure, is a fair point, but damn him for totally using the best friend thing against her. She decides on returning the favor, jabbing him in the ribs and making him yelp. Which he absolutely does with the stereotypically girlish flair that's supposed to be her thing. (yeah right)
"Yes, I have, which means it is of fragile constitution and not up to being wolf-handled." Stiles has to stifle a grin of her own at the offended look on Scott's face. "You forget your own strength sometimes, buddy."
It's a beat, maybe two, then Scott's grinning at her. "You are so full of shit sometimes, Stiles."
"Sometimes?" She smirks. "Please, I am full of shit at least most of the time, if not more. It is a point of pride amongst Stilinskis."
Which is actually true. She can remember her mom muttering that one at her dad a few times when she was little and not supposed to know what the word meant.
Scott lets go of her and they head out into the hall together, him asking, "So, where did you go?"
"Home," she says, first, but she hesitates and she knows Scott can hear it. It's not that she wants to lie to him, but Derek is a tricky subject. She's not exactly sure why he is, but bringing him up to Scott feels weird now.
Before Scott can call her on the lie, Stiles shrugs and adds, "And I talked to Derek."
"He's out there for sure?"
"He was." Stiles adjusts her bag on her shoulder, pulling it up. "Not sure where he is now, though. I pointed out it might not be the best idea to hang around a school where Allison's grandfather is the principal." She bites her lip. "I told him I don't think it's Lydia. I still don't."
Allison catches up to them, keeping on the far side of Stiles as they walk together. Somehow, it feels even more wrong than when she would have slipped between them to wrap her arm around Scott's waist. Stiles gets the reason for the charade, but it is so damn old. She kind of needs their drama to be something new now, please.
"Any ideas what we do?" she asks, hooking up arms with Stiles, like it's her that Allison's really interested in talking and not her 'ex'-boyfriend. It's kind of terrifying how well she sells it, looking directly at Stiles like she's making a point of ignoring Scott. She seriously so good that Stiles almost believes it.
They go round a corner and duck into the nearest empty room.
Stiles leans against the wall, arms crossed over her chest, and stares at her sneakers. She knows what's coming, but it doesn't make it any easier to hear Scott say, "Derek's outside. He's waiting for Lydia."
"Waiting to kill her?"
"If he thinks she's the kanima—"
"Which he does."
As soon as she says it, Stiles feels Scott's eyes on her. She doesn't look up. She doesn't know why, exactly, if it's the pity or something else. She just keeps her eyes pointed at her feet and doesn't move.
"She didn't pass the test, Stiles," Scott's voice is softer, now. Gentle. Stiles doesn't know why she tightens her arms, curling in on herself a little more, but the feeling is there and she lets herself go with it. "You know what that means."
Stiles shakes her head, fighting back the urge to laugh. She's having the exact same conversation all over again. "No, Scott, I don't. She didn't turn when Peter bit her. Could be that her immunity is some kind of universal thing—I don't know. I just know that the kanima isn't her. I spent quality time with that thing. I'd know."
She jumps a little when Allison lays a hand on her arm, rubbing reassuringly. "It doesn't matter, Stiles," she says, soft. "If Derek thinks that Lydia's the kanima—"
"I know," Stiles says, quiet. She does know. That's the worst part of all. She's starting to get how Derek's seeing all this and she doesn't want to. Understanding it means that, maybe, she might think he's almost right.
About dealing with the kanima, at least. Nothing he'll ever say will convince her that the kanima is Lydia.
She pushes off the thought with a shrug of her shoulders, pacing away from the wall and Allison. "He won't try anything here, not at school and not with the Argents so close."
"But after school—" Scott frowns.
"Should be okay. She's supposed to come over to my place," Stiles says, "Derek won't try anything there either." She hopes. Truth is, she's not sure what he'll do and maybe that's because he isn't either. She's no expert on the inner secret workings of Derek Hale, but she remembers the way he'd looked kneeling over Peter's body.
That's not someone who kills a teenage girl in cold blood.
"He won't go through me to get to her," she says, surprised at how confident she sounds. Even more surprised to realize she actually believes it. "And I'm going to make sure that he has to."
"Maybe it won't come to that," Allison says. "There has to be a way we can prove to him that Lydia isn't the kanima."
"Sure," Stiles agrees, sarcasm laying on thick. "We just have to figure out who it really is. No problems there."
"There might be something in the bestiary that can help," Allison says, but she sounds uncertain. Confused. It's a reminder that, despite everything, Allison's as new to this as they are.
Stiles closes her eyes. They are so fucking dead; all of them, not just Lydia. "Sure, but unless you've suddenly learned how to read archaic Latin in the last few hours, I don't think the bestiary is in a sharing mood."
"I haven't, no," Allison says, a faint thread of hope creeping into her voice, "but I think I know someone who can."
It's not much, but it's something and Stiles looks at Scott. "I already tried, but maybe you can take a run at Derek and try to talk him out of it?" She doubts it, but if there's even a chance he can buy them some more time, they need to give it a shot. If she can keep Lydia with her long enough, maybe the kanima will strike somewhere else and prove her point.
Stiles doesn't believe it, but it's the best plan she's got right now and she's going with it. She looks at the dubious Scott. He rubs the back of his neck, staring at the floor for a long moment. "Maybe, but I doubt it. You saw him the other night, Stiles, I'm pretty sure you're the only person here he'd actually listen to."
Which shouldn't be as reassuring as it is. Stiles breathes out in a sigh, leaning against a desk. "I'm not so sure about that." But she wants to be and she has no idea why or what she's supposed to do with it. She scrubs a hand through her hair and kicks at the floor. "Whether I can or not is pointless right now. He thinks he has to do this to protect everyone." She shoots a pointed look at Scott. "Sound familiar?"
He grins back, sheepish but not backing down even a little. "I don't know if he'll listen to me or not, but I'll try. We just need to buy some time, right?"
He reaches out for Allison, taking his hands in hers. "But if something happens, you guys need to call me, okay?"
Stiles rolls her eyes as they go into their big romantic moment. She's not really jealous. Not like that. Scott's her best friend. He's probably the closest thing she'll ever have to a brother and she adores him in a way that nothing's ever going to touch (Allison included), but she doesn't want him like that.
Stiles swallows quick, looking away as Scott and Allison keep talking. Yeah, no, she's definitely not jealous, but maybe a little envious? Envious sounds right. She doesn't want either of them. (Seriously, just no, ew.) She just wants to know what that feels like to be what they are. She's never had anyone worry about her like that before and she kind of really, really wants to.
She wants to know what it's like to be someone's first thought and, wow that's pathetic.
Turning around, she picks up Allison's crossbow and looks at them. "Look, she can totally take care of herself, Scott, but it doesn't matter. She's the safest of all of us. You know what would happen if Derek even thought about hurting her."
"We can't be sure of that, Stiles," Scott says. He squeezes Allison's hands. "We have until three, okay? But if anything happens—"
The thing about Scott and Allison is that, for all the Twilight angst they pile on, they're actually scarily functional. Stiles kind of hates that a little about them right now.
"We'll call," she insists, and then yelps, staring at Scott in shock. "Oh my god, I am so sorry!"
Crossbow bolt in hand, he stares back. "Seriously, Stiles?"
"Yeah, yeah, I know, way to interrupt the big romantic moment," she agrees with a sigh. "These things have a wicked hair-trigger or something." She passes it back to Allison. "It'll be fine, Scott," she says, firm, like she didn't just almost put a crossbow bolt in her best friend's neck. "She'll be fine."
She starts to bypass him, heading out the door, but Scott grabs her arm as she goes. "You too, okay?" he says, giving her one of those Scott McCall special looks. "I know Derek's got this thing about you, but if—"
"Derek does not have a thing about me, Scott," Stiles says, but doesn't roll her eyes like she wants to. Not with Scott looking at her with total aneurysm face on. He's trying and she can't get pissed at him.
Besides, she did totally just almost shoot him. She's got to cut him some slack for that alone.
She pats Scott on the shoulder. It's totally the most awkward, least comforting gesture ever, but she gets BFF points anyway. "I'll be careful," she says, managing a smile. "Besides, I did save his ass. He owes me one."
Scott doesn't look convinced. It's okay, though, neither is she.
She doesn't see Scott or Allison after that. She needs to find Lydia before either one of them chickens out. It doesn't take her long, though, since Lydia finds her.
Stiles is just outside the library when someone grabs her elbow. She yelps, flailing, and nearly smacks Lydia in the eye with her own hand.
"Uh, oops?" she says, sheepish. "In my defense, it's totally my day for nearly braining people." Okay, so the first time was a crossbow bolt, but it still counts. At the rate she's going, she'll take out Derek without even meaning to.
Lydia rolls her eyes. "Whatever, Stiles. Are we doing this or not?"
Stiles nods. "We are totally, totally doing this." She smiles brightly and links arms with Lydia. "Right now, in fact."
"You don't want to, do you?"
Lydia doesn't ask the question until they're in the jeep and driving away from the school. Stiles is keeping both hands on the wheel and one eye on the rear-view, watching for the familiar Camaro.
Stiles should probably be surprised by the question, but A: Lydia and B: she knows just how freaked out she must look. How freaked out she does look. She's about to completely change how Lydia sees the world and that's kind of a terrifying thing on its own.
Bringing werewolves and Peter fucking Hale into things just amps the fear to mind-numbing levels.
"Not even a little bit," she says. "I'm still going to."
She glances over and it's shocking to see that kind of vulnerability on Lydia's face, but she gets it. She's still got Peter in her head, no matter how much she tries to pretend otherwise, and she knows what kind of damage the bastard can do.
"You need to know, Lydia," she says, serious. It sounds corny when she says, "Can't fight the monster if you don't know his name" but fuck that. If it's corny, then it's corny. It's also the truth. If Lydia is the kanima, then maybe it's because she doesn't know what happened to her. Maybe it's because they've been keeping the truth from her all along and if it is?
Then every single person that's died is on them and Stiles can live with a lot, but not that.
Lydia doesn't say anything to that. Doesn't say a word until they pull up in front of the house and Stiles gets out to unlock the door.
"You know his name?" she asks, her voice quiet and small in a way no one's ever should be.
"Yeah." Stiles steps back to let Lydia walk past her into the house. "I know who he is and I know what he is." When Lydia's inside, Stiles darts in behind her and locks the door. She peers out through the curtain, looking for signs of anyone, and finds nothing.
For now, they're alone.
It's a weird feeling that settles into her chest when Stiles turns around to face Lydia. She should probably be wishing Allison would hurry up with whoever's reading the bestiary for her, but she isn't. She's just relieved no one asked why Lydia was coming over. She doesn't think she has it in her to make either Allison or Scott understand why she has to do this.
At least, not in time.
Taking a deep breath, she checks the door one more time. "So, I promised the good booze—"
Lydia shakes her head. "Thank you, but no. This should be done sober. Who the hell was is it, Stiles? What the hell was it?"
Stiles has had days to think about this. She's run through a dozen scenarios in her head and none of them seemed right. There are just no words that can make any of this sound anything but completely insane. She sighs and wishes for a last minute burst of inspiration. None comes, because yeah this is her and she is never, ever going to have that kind of luck, so she shrugs and blurts out, "His name was Peter Hale and, uh, he was a werewolf."
Lydia looks at her. Stiles stares back. She has absolutely no doubt that Lydia can handle this. It's almost a surprise that Lydia hasn't figured it out on her own, but then she hasn't had all the pieces until now. This is the part that Stiles can't really help her with. She has to put it together all on her own and Stiles has to just wait and help when she can.
"A werewolf," Lydia echoes, like she's mulling the word over, testing it out on her tongue. Maybe she is.
Stiles, for her part, nods and says, "Do you remember the Hale fire when we were kids? Almost everyone in the family died?"
"Yes," Lydia nods, her voice calm, like she isn't shaking and pale. Stiles knows that feeling too. Hell, they could probably compare preferred therapeutic techniques. "He was in it?"
Stiles nods. "The whole family were werewolves. People killed them because of it and it kind of fucked his head over big time." She walks into the living room and drops down on the couch. Lydia Martin is in her house and she isn't making any moves. She isn't offering food, drinks, promises of undying devotion, or anything. She just pulls her knees up to her chest, wraps her arms around her legs, and waits for Lydia to sit down across from her.
Lydia does. She takes off her jacket, fixes her skirt, and then she folds her hands and looks at Stiles. It's all so prim and proper it should be afternoon tea and not a conversation about werewolves.
Stiles closes her eyes. "Fuck, this is stupid."
"Obviously," Lydia says, just derisive enough to make Stiles open her eyes and grin. "We're discussing mythological creatures as biological fact and I am in no way denigrating your intelligence or sanity like I should be." She looks down at her hands and Stiles can almost watch the wheels turning in her head. "I believe you. Why do I believe it, Stiles?"
"Because you remember what happened that night." Stiles hides her face against her knee, remembering the look Peter had given her as he'd crouched over Lydia's unconscious body. She doesn't know how to put that into words.
"Not really," Lydia says. "It's blurry, mostly. I—" her voice breaks and it's a long time before she says, "I keep having nightmares about him grabbing me." She doesn't say anything after that, though Stiles can feel all the horror she wants to talk about and can't find the words to express.
Stiles peeks over her knee to find Lydia's crying silently. It's not pretty, not even close, but neither of them are worrying about that now. Stiles is scrambling off the couch before she even thinks about it. She drops to her knees before her, taking Lydia's hands in hers, and looks up at her.
"Why'd he do it?" Lydia asks, blowing her nose noisily.
"Short answer? He was trying to turn you, but it beats the fuck out of me as to why. Peter wasn't big on straight answers." Or he was, and she just can 't make herself face it yet. "Longer answer is he knew quality when he saw it. His entire family, his pack, got wiped out with the fire and when he became an Alpha, he needed to build a new one." Stiles tries to smile, going for flippant cheer as she adds, "He looked for the best and brightest in town."
It says a lot about Lydia that she flips her hair and manages a shadow of her normal haughtiness when she says, "Well, of course he came after me."
It's only a shadow, of course, but it's more than Stiles would be able to manage right now and that's why Peter is damn lucky that Lydia is immune. He would have been the first Alpha in history to be the puppet of his beta; a bitten one at that.
Stiles grins at the thought. God, that would have been fantastic.
"But if he bit me—" Lydia looks down at her. "Is that why I was in the woods? I'm a werewolf?"
"I don't think so," Stiles shakes her head. "When I checked on you in the hospital, your wound wasn't healing like a werewolf's would. You should remember changing, but that's not guaranteed so, short of watching you through a full moon—I have to take someone else's word on it." She doesn't add that Scott would have smelled the wolf on her by now. She doesn't have his permission to spill any secrets, but she does have Derek's. "If you were a werewolf, in theory, another werewolf would be able to tell."
"And one has?"
"Derek Hale." Stiles shrugs. "He killed Peter for what he did to everyone and, when he did, he became the Alpha in his place. I don't think he automatically inherits Peter's betas, but he probably would be able to tell if you were a wolf." She bites her cheek, barely keeping in the information that Scott had been able to pick up on Isaac sight unseen.
Lydia swipes at her cheeks. "So if I'm not a werewolf, then what's happening to me?"
"That's the confusing part. When an Alpha bites you, it's pretty much an either or kind of situation. You either turn or you die."
"So I'm not a wolf, but I'm not dead?" Lydia's voice rises. "If I'm not one or the other, then what the hell happened?"
"No one seems to know," Stiles says. "It isn't supposed to be possible, but I think you're immune somehow and maybe that's part of why you've been kind of freaking out a little?"
That gets her a typically withering Lydia Martin special as Lydia glares and yanks her hands away from Stiles. "Oh, you think? Someone tried to turn me into a werewolf. A werewolf, Stiles. I'm supposed to be running around the woods and howling at the moon, but I'm some kind of freak of nature instead."
She shakes her head, sighing as she asks, "This is why you didn't want to tell me, isn't it?"
Stiles nods and spreads her hands. "Welcome to my life?"
"You were there, weren't you?" Lydia asks. "With him."
"Yeah," Stiles nods. "I, uh," she pushes up and away. "I kind of maybe begged for your life a little bit." Remembering the way her dad had reacted, she closes her eyes. "It wasn't exactly the best night of my life."
When she opens her eyes, Lydia's watching her with an unreadable expression.
Stiles breathes deep, but whatever Lydia might say is lost when the doorbell rings and they both hear Allison calling their names.
"Right," Stiles says, sighing. "Saved by the bell."
Or, you know, not.
It's probably a good thing that Scott's the werewolf, no matter what Derek thinks. Compared to Stiles and Allison, he's the poster child for well-adjusted teenager.
When she opens the door, Jackson is standing by Allison's side and, holy god, they are so fucked right now. Seriously. She looks at Allison without even trying to hide her disbelief. Because, really? How is Jackson going to fix anything?
Stiles looks at him and blinks when he looks at her and makes this awkward face that is maybe, oh god, supposed to be a smile?
Jackson is trying to be nice? Oh god. Jackson is trying to be nice. Yeah, this is going to work great. Just, really, really—she is so going to die tonight and it isn't even going to make a good story for the paper.
She gusts out a sigh and tries to figure out how not to make a complete bitch of herself right now. Protecting Lydia is the priority and, hey, it's not like she can't use Jackson as some sort of canon fodder right. He's noisy enough that he should get the neighbours attention before they gnaw on him too much.
She almost laughs, but the look Allison shoots her shuts that down cold. Right, she's supposed to be doing something here. Perhaps providing a tasteful greeting or, better yet, throwing Jackson and his stupid face right the hell off her stoop.
Yeah, she likes that one even better than the werewolf chew toy idea and doesn't even bother trying to hide the reaction. If Jackson cares about it, he doesn't show it. He just sort of nods and brushes by her to go looking for Lydia. She's not exactly surprised by that, but she is surprised by the way he doesn't actually knock her into the wall or anything.
Considering a shocking lack of insult, it's downright human of him and isn't that just the most unnerving thing ever?
Well, it would be, but she doesn't have time for that now. She rounds on the guilty-faced Allison with a hissed, "What the hell did you bring him for? Moral support?"
"We need him," Allison insists, stepping into the front hall with her.. "We can't take on Derek and the pack on our own."
Stiles snorts a laugh. "Oh, yeah, because Jackson. He'll totally be able to handle it, right?" Closing the door, she locks it and then looks for a chair. She gets two steps before she thinks about it, thinks about the door, and shrugs. Derek prefers windows anyway. Leaving the chair where it is, Stiles leads Allison into the empty living room. She takes a few steps toward the dining room and catches sight of Jackson and Lydia heading into the kitchen.
Good. She can bitch to her heart's content. "If you think that Jackson is going to be any help against a werewolf, much less Derek, then we really need to talk about whatever crap your parents have been pumping into your head."
"He's better than nothing and my parents haven't been pumping anything into my head." Allison isn't exactly glaring when Stiles looks at her, but it's not a happy face either. It's something a little more complicated than that with a mix of confusion, anger, and a whole lot of fear.
Yeah, she might have hit a nerve and crossed a line or two there.
It's strangely satisfying in a way that she doesn't really like feeling and she hates herself for it. Stiles knows she isn't exactly the best person ever—not much to look at and completely fucked in the head—but this is something else entirely.
This is about getting Scott killed and, yeah, that's a subject on which she can't really call herself unbiased. She's the reason he got bit in the first place. That's on her. She'll always be responsible for that and, whatever happens next, she'll have to live with.
That scares the hell out of her more than any of this does. Scott's life is in Allison's hands, there's nothing Stiles can do about it, and she's the only one who seems to be getting that.
God, how ridiculous is she?
Stiles pushes the thought back and goes to check the windows. Not much she can do to them that'll keep an angry werewolf from coming through, but she's got to do something with her hands. Idle hands and all that shit, right? "Keep telling yourself that one," she says, looking at Allison. "You don't sound convinced yet."
"They haven't, Stiles," Allison insists, but she's not convinced and neither is Stiles.
She latches one window and pulls the curtains shut before saying, "Yeah, they have, but okay, let's pretend you're right. Let's pretend they haven't said or done anything that constitutes indoctrination. Have you paid any real attention to your family history lately? Not the medieval France stuff, I mean the more recent chapters. Your aunt wiped out an entire family, your dad slams me into doors, takes potshots at Derek, and shoves a gun in Scott's face. That stuff doesn't come out of nowhere, Allison, and please don't try and tell me the Hales deserved it. I grew up here and I'm a cop's kid. I would know if they had."
Allison turns away, jaw clenched tight and Stiles feels a little guilty. No, actually, she feels a lot guilty and she probably shouldn't be caring about that right now. Sighing, she drops onto the couch and stares at the floor.
She kicks at the carpet. God, she forgot to do the vacuuming yesterday. It's her week. "Look, I know this is not the time to be talking about this. I know, Derek and the Pips'll be rolling up to the door anytime looking for trouble, but you really might want to think about that sometime, Allison. Every shitty, werewolf-related thing that's gone down in this town, Peter biting Scott included, is because of that night."
And why the body count this town's been racking up is nothing short of fucking insane.
"I know, it totally sounds like sympathy for the devil right?" Stiles is surprised by the venom in her own voice and, wow, she is totally freaking out right now. "I don't know, maybe it is. It's not like I don't hate the bastard. I do. If I knew where Derek buried him I'd throw a damn party on his grave, but I still get how it happened. The humans would have died pretty fast, but the werewolves—they'd be healing while they burned. With how long it must have taken them to die, it's no wonder the guy went fucking crazy."
She shudders, thinking about it. It's fucked up that she feels any kind of sympathy for Peter, but yeah, she feels it every time that she thinks about the fire.
"And you think," Allison says, cautiously, "if Kate had never set that fire, none of this would be happening?"
"Maybe," Stiles gets up again. She paces the room, frustrated and scared. They are way too young to be facing shit like this. Way too young and way too fucked up.
It's probably a good thing that Scott's the werewolf, no matter what Derek thinks. Compared to Stiles and Allison, he's the poster child for well-adjusted teenager.
"How could it? If the fire hadn't happened, Derek's parents would still be alive, and one of them would be the Alpha." She thinks it was Derek's mother, but she hasn't really asked. "No werewolves rampaging through the woods means nobody to go chomping on Scott and nobody dying because they helped Kate set he fire."
"I know," Allison says, voice small. "I know she was wrong, but I don't think they all are. Some werewolves are dangerous, Stiles. Whatever reason Peter did what he did—look at everyone he killed—and you? Don't you remember what he did to you?"
Stiles turns so fast she gets dizzy. She tries to think of a way to answer that which isn't 'fuck you sideways with a rusty chainsaw', but can't. She just stands there and stares at Allison in disbelief. Not much else she can do, because, holy shit, right?
Flinching, Allison looks away. "Okay," she says in a stronger voice, "That was probably a little over the line."
"Yeah, maybe," Stiles deflates, "but I've pretty much been over it since you got here, so I can't really say much."
She goes back to the couch, sitting down by Allison's side again and reaches out to curl her hand around Allison's. "I'm sorry," she says. "Not for what I said, exactly, but how I said it, I guess, I'm kind of an idiot right now and my brain's all over the place and I have no idea how we're going to fix this. I just—I don't want us to end up on opposite sides of the line."
She realizes, even as she says it, that it's too late.
They already are.
She's supposed to hate Derek. Part of her kind of does, but not really? Less than she used to and probably less tomorrow. She closes her eyes for a moment. Fuck, this is so confusing. She needs to think about this when someone's life isn't on the line.
So, you know, she's never going to get to think about it. Fan-fucking-tastic.
Except, she hasn't really done much else lately. It's sort of been on the back burner for ages. Like, since that thing with the bullet.
Which is sort of understandable? She's had Derek's life in her hands twice now and it's hard to be that invested in someone and still hate them. It's like some kind of twisted up Stockholm or something.
She's supposed to be helping Lydia right now and, instead, she's having an existential crisis about everything but Lydia.
Stiles hides her face against her knee. Fuck her life.
Allison sighs. "We already are. I know." She squeezes Stiles' hand. "Maybe we should have gone to Scott's? Whatever is going on with you and Derek—I think it's messing with your head."
Stiles starts to deny it, but doesn't. She kind of pretty much accused Allison of the same thing, so why not let her have this one? Well, sort of have it. "Possibly, but I don't see how going to Scott's is going to change anything. My house doesn't have anything to do with the part where Derek keeps almost dying on me and when it isn't completely terrifying me, it's really, really annoying."
She looks down at Allison's calloused hand, chipped nail polish and all, and bites her lip. "Did I mention the terrifying?"
Allison squeezes once and Stiles is scared all over again. She doesn't want to be on different sides. She likes Allison. Allison's like a weird sort of bro-miracle. Stiles has always been okay with the fact Scott was going to be the one that started dating first. She kind of made peace with the idea of sharing him with some girl a long time ago. She just never expected was that not only would said girl would be okay with Stiles being Scott's BFF, but that she'd like her too.
"I wish your family weren't hunters," she says in a mutter. "Talking about this would be so less fucked up if they weren't."
Allison looks sad, but nods. "If I promised not to use anything you might tell me?"
Stiles shakes her head. "You can't. Even if you tried, Grandpa Palpatine would probably worm it out of you anyway."
"I won't tell them about you and Derek," Allison says, solemn. "I won't. I promise."
Panic spears through Stiles at the thought and she lets go of Allison's hand, forcing a smile. "Well, that's an easy one to keep. There is no me and Derek."
Allison doesn't look convinced. "He treats you differently than the rest of us. Scott—"
"Scott's wrong," Stiles scoffs. "Two hours in a pool plus nearly drowning would make anybody cranky." She stretches out her leg. There's a hole in her sock. Beautiful. "That's all that was, seriously."
"That's not how Scott puts it." Allison says. "You heard him at the school. He thinks you stand a better chance of talking Derek out of this than him."
"He's wrong," Stiles shrugs. "I've tried." She gets up and walks away from the couch, starting up the pacing back and forth again for a little while. She just cannot stay still right now.
Eventually, she drifts to the window. Her stomach cramps with the fear and she feels sick, reaching out for the curtain. She doesn't want to look. "I don't know what Derek's plans are, but I severely doubt me or my opinions factor into any of them."
She pulls it back to look outside; meeting Derek's eyes as she does.
"If I did—he wouldn't be standing out there."
Fuck her life, seriously.