Stiles galloped at full speed, leaves and twigs crunching under his hooves. “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this,” he chanted, as he ran. “Stiles, next time you promise to help out Derek, remember this moment.”
A leonine roar blasted behind him.
“ARGH!” Stiles screamed in panic. He looked around desperately, focusing on finding the right path. On instinct he ran left and burst into the clearing he’d been looking for. His brown eyes widened as he skidded to a stop. Then he grinned and took three steps to the left.
The manticore ran right past him, moving too fast to stop on a dime.
“Hey, pony-puppies! I got you a new playmate!” Stiles shouted happily because now? The manticore wasn‘t his problem.
Erica, Boyd and Isaac who’d been waiting at the other end of the clearing perked up. Fangs appeared and their eyes glowed yellow-gold as claws sprung from their hooves.
The manticore skidded to a halt. His ears flattened down into his red mane. “Urr-orr.”
A second later, three moon-wolf cursed ponies pounced. Stiles panted for breath.
“Did you find it?”
Stiles screamed and jumped straight into the air, clinging to the underside of hanging branch. Derek looked up; his black brows were drawn together in a scowl.
“Oh, it‘s just you, sour-pony,” Stiles huffed, twisting his head to glare right back at the black-maned stallion. “Yes. I found your stupid flowers. Now… what do you say?”
Derek, without changing expression, turned his back on Stiles, exposing the tri-spiraled cutie mark on his flank before he bucked, kicking his back legs straight onto the trunk. A crack ran up the dark wood until it reached Stiles’ branch and broke it free from rest of the tree.
For a split second, Stiles scrambled at empty air, wishing he had wings. “Oh, horse-apples.” He crashed back down to the forest floor, groaning in pain while a tiny brown and blue Scott flew around his ears chasing a silver and blue giggling Allison.
Derek’s light gray spiral horn nudged Stiles’ flank once before poking him. Hard. “Get up before I make you get up.”
“Fine! Here are your stupid flowers.” Stiles bounced up onto his hooves and removed his saddlebags with his muzzle, shoving them at Derek. “Let‘sh ne-er doo dis ‘gain.”
Abruptly, the stallion shied back. It was such an out of character move that Stiles blinked at him incredulously as his jaw dropped open. The saddlebags slid out of his mouth and landed onto the ground with a soft thud of leather on dirt.
“I can‘t touch it,” Derek said, scowl firmly in place.
“What?” Stiles yelped. “I went to all the trouble of finding these stupid things and now you’re telling me--”
“I can‘t touch them because I‘m a pony-wolf,” Derek growled, his eyes flashing red. He took a deep breathe and the red faded back to hazel. “Only a regular pony can use them.”
“And I‘m the only normal guy you know who isn‘t trying to kill you, right. Not good enough.” Stiles pointed at his cutie mark. “See this? The magnifying glass? I said I‘d help find your moon-magic flowers. Find. That‘s it.”
Derek stepped closer, lowering his head until his horn was dangerously close to Stiles’ vulnerable forehead. Not that Stiles was intimidated. Much.
“You‘re the only one I trust,” Derek gritted through clenched teeth, as if he was being tortured to confess a dire secret.
Stiles stared at him. The only sounds in the clearing were the growls, snarls and happy yips of the three beta wolf-ponies turning the manticore into their new chew-toy.
“I could have sworn you just said-- did you really-- I must‘ve hit my head pretty hard,” Stiles said, bewildered. He shook his head. Ow! Okay, bad idea.
Derek eyed him quietly. His normal scowl was so faint it took Stiles a long second to place his expression as hopeful. Okay… so apparently Stiles had managed to hit his head hard enough to start hallucinating. And maybe his head injury explained why Stiles was starting to lightheaded and weak-kneed and starting to think Derek looked really…
“Stiles, wait to kiss Derek until next week and I‘ll split the pot‘s winnings with you!” Isaac shouted suddenly.
Blushing, Stiles stepped back until his rump hit the trunk of a tree. Derek’s scowl was back in force.
“Cheater!” Erica shrieked angrily. Isaac laughed then yelped in panic.
Stiles turned to see Erica and Isaac fighting in a dust cloud while Boyd blissfully chewed on one of the manticore’s bat-wings. The manticore’s eyes were closed and it whimpered pathetically with each chomp. Derek followed his gaze. He looked back at Stiles with arched eyebrows.
“Okay, I get your point,” Stiles admitted. “I‘ll help you take down you uncle --third‘s time gotta be the charm-- but only if you help me get Scott and Allison together again. Seriously, Scott‘s moping is sad. His sulk is leaving his house under an endless raining cloud which is going to start flooding Beacon Fillies any day now.”
Derek snorted with disgust but reluctantly nodded in agreement.
“Alright, tell me what I need to do with these flowers,” Stiles sighed. He would’ve wondered how this had become his life but his father always said his true talent was ‘finding trouble’.