Derek and Peter spend the better portion of a year putting the Hale house back together, and they manage to only have five blowout fights about hardwood floors versus carpeting, crown molding, and window thickness. Stiles is impressed by their restraint but knows better than to actually say anything to either of them about it. He'd been witness to Scott getting thrown into a weight-bearing column for suggesting they scrap the half-bath on the ground floor, and, contrary to popular belief, Stiles is not actually a masochist. This, however, doesn't stop him from whipping his head around in confusion when they finally let him take a look at their progress.
"You said it was finished," Stiles says.
Derek nods. "It is. Electrician was here this morning, plumber gave it the all-clear yesterday. We're good to go."
"I'm sorry, I thought 'finished' implied 'furnished.'"
"Don't assume things, Stiles," Peter says. "There's a saying about that, and it's one of my least favorites, so don't make me repeat it."
Stiles waves a dismissive hand at him and glares at Derek. "You told the pack they'd be able to move in this weekend. Today is Friday, which, traditionally, is the day before the weekend."
"Your point being?" asks Derek.
"There isn't any furniture."
Peter pulls a set of car keys out of his pocket and dangles them in front of Stiles' face. "You can handle a 15-passenger van, right?"
Stiles stares at him. "I would like to have it on record that I'm not comfortable with the direction in which this discussion is headed."
"Consider it on record," Derek says. "Also, it's cute that you think this was going to be a discussion." And then he slaps Stiles on the back, causing him to stumble forward and have to rely on Peter to keep him upright. "Now let's go - I told Scott we'd pick him and Isaac up from the diner on Main Street ten minutes ago."
What happens is this: Derek and Peter are busy with the house, so Stiles (and this is where he's not clear on the why or the how, so bear with him) becomes the pack's go-to person for advice, companionship, shelter, and cuddle piles.
"I thought that you being alpha-less would mean fewer awkward group hugs of the extended variety," Stiles says.
"What can I say," Scott replies from his spot on Stiles' desk chair, "Isaac and I bonded."
"Yes, I've noticed your standing brunch dates," says Stiles. "I'm unclear on a lot of other things, though. For example, why am I being crushed to death by Erica and Boyd right now?"
"Not crushed," Erica mumbles into his shoulder. "Cuddled. Cuddled to death. There's a difference."
"And there's also the fact that Isaac has taken up residence in our extra room," Stiles continues. "Must I remind everyone, again, that my father is not stupid? He's going to notice an extra person in our living space soon."
Isaac's hand appears at the foot of the bed, flopping around until it makes contact with Stiles' foot, which it then proceeds to pet in what Stiles assumes is supposed to be a comforting move. "Don't worry," he says. "It's just until the house is done. Also your dad seemed pretty okay with it when we had dinner the other night. Don't freak out - I made him eat a salad."
Stiles thinks about freaking out anyway, but Boyd and Erica give off more heat than a 4th of July barbecue, so he snuggles back against Boyd's chest and falls asleep instead.
Stiles isn't sure if agreeing to drive them all down to the Emeryville IKEA means that he has, in fact, become the pack mother, or that he's just really easy. Isaac is quick to assure him that he's pack mother when he voices his concerns, which - "No, that doesn't make me feel better about this," Stiles says. "In fact, I feel about the same as I did before you said anything. Thanks for nothing."
Isaac shrugs. "Do me a favor?" he asks. Stiles hesitates, then nods. "When we pick up Erica, don't let her kick me out of shotgun."
"Jesus christ," Stiles says. "Put your seatbelt on already."
Erica pouts but moves to the bench behind Derek and Peter when Stiles shakes his head at her. Boyd joins her and Scott there, and then Lydia, Jackson, and Allison take the far back.
"How are we going to fit all the stuff you want to buy in here?" Stiles asks.
"I reserved a trailer at the U-Haul near IKEA," replies Peter.
Stiles sighs as he merges onto the highway and says, "Of course you did." Isaac flips through the radio stations until Stiles slaps his hand away from the center console and glares at him. "No. We are not playing the radio game. The only two people in this van who share musical tastes are Jackson and Derek, and I will crash us on purpose if I have to listen to that crap."
"Hey," says Derek. Stiles looks at him in the rear view mirror, daring him to say something. "No, never mind. Silence is good."
Peter fake-coughs whipped into his fist, and Stiles starts counting to ten very slowly.
"The next person to ask are we there yet loses his or her dessert to Boyd tomorrow night."
There's a surprising lack of people at IKEA when they finally arrive in Emeryville. This means fewer witnesses to the pack's special brand of dysfuntional, though, so Stiles sends up a silent thanks to whatever deities might be listening in on his life. He drops them off at the entrance and parks as close to the loading dock as possible. Stiles catches Derek handing each of them a sheet of paper but decides he doesn't want to know. He grabs a handful of maps and hands them out.
"I don't know what you're all looking for," he says, "but as of twenty seconds from now, I'm not responsible for any of you. Don't break anything, and don't give security a reason to page me. I'll be in housewares."
"Bathroom stuff first," Derek says, grabbing Stiles by the arm.
"You're helping me with the master bath first."
Stiles glances behind him, but the others have already broken off into separate groups, so no one's even paying attention to them anymore. He sighs. "Am I going to end up helping you with the master bedroom, too?"
"And the kitchen," Derek says mildly.
"I don't know if you know this, but I live with my father, not you," says Stiles.
"That's interesting," says Derek. "You can tell me all about it while you're helping me choose a color scheme."
"You're going to pick black and white. I don't need to be there for that."
Derek ignores him, of course. Stiles makes peace with the fact that he's going to be Derek's shadow for a few hours and figures that while he's being tugged around the store like a security blanket, he might as well take a look at towel racks anyway. They pass through the living room displays, stopping when Derek decides to pick a fight with Peter over which sofa they'll be getting for the front room. Stiles tries to escape from Derek's clutches during the argument, but fails miserably.
"All I need is a new wok," Stiles says once they've reached the bathroom department. Derek considers two different bathroom cabinets, both the same blinding shade of white. "A new wok, and maybe a new social group. I saw some college kids walk in behind us who looked promising."
"No new friends," Derek says as he carefully copies out the SKU number of the cabinet he's chosen. "Why do you need a new wok?"
"Isaac and Jackson ruined mine," says Stiles. "There are dents in it. Scott's head-shaped dents."
Derek doesn't even try to appear sympathetic. Stiles starts to suspect that when they finally leave IKEA, there won't be a new wok in the cart for him, which is just typical.
Allison sneaks up behind him while Derek's rummaging through the bins of towels. "You need to come with me right now," she says. Stiles hesitates, but she grabs his hand and pulls him behind her. "Now now, not later now. This is an emergency."
"What's Scott done?" Stiles asks.
"He's in a cabinet. I tried to talk him out of it, but -"
"Oh god, not again."
After successfully rescuing Scott from the cabinet and passing him back off to Allison for safe keeping, things quiet down, surprisingly. Stiles skulks off to look at racks and frying pans and manages to fill a handbasket with things he and his dad have had on their household needs list for months before Derek finds and drags him off again. It's - nice, he supposes, in a way. Erica and Boyd hand Derek the list of SKUs they've compiled together, and Scott and Isaac reach a decision regarding bunk beds not too long after that. Peter vetoes all of Derek's common area decor choices, which Stiles secretly thinks is for the best (because wicker furniture plus werewolves is just plain asking for it). Lydia and Jackson give Stiles a piece of paper with exactly one SKU on it.
He raises an eyebrow at them. "What even is this?"
Lydia shrugs. "Just make sure Derek gets that one, okay?"
"It's a set of kitchen knives, isn't it."
"Please. As if I would subject you to the subpar utensil quality to be found here. Jackson, swedish meatballs, now."
Jackson trails after her silently, rolling his eyes in Stiles' direction as he goes. Stiles sighs and waves the slip of paper in Derek's face. "Lydia wants this," he says. "Does IKEA even sell world domination plans?"
Derek looks at the number and snorts. "That's a chair. For you."
Stiles stares at him then shakes his head. "I don't want to know. We're done, right? Because I agree with Lydia - it's swedish meatball time."
In the car on their way back home, Isaac curls up with Scott and Allison in the back of the van underneath the striped blanket that he'd claimed was really for Stiles. Boyd, Erica, Lydia, and Jackson are a grotesque mess of limbs, and Peter is sacked out completely on the front bench seat. Stiles can't actually tell if Derek is asleep or not, but the deep, even breathing coming from the passenger side indicates that he's at least well on his way.
"I'm not helping put any of this together," Stiles says anyway. "I'm dropping you off, and then I'm going home. To the house I share with my father. Where I live. In case that hasn't been said enough today."
"Sure you are," Derek mumbles.
"Go to sleep," says Stiles.