- 1 -
"I do not remember you," is the first thing Stiles ever says to Derek Hale.
At the time, he's severely dehydrated, high on something that is not agreeing with his daily dose of Adderall, and really quite impressed with Hale's biceps.
Derek Hale, busy rescuing him from a drug gang who had the brilliant idea to mix methamphetamine with fairy dust, doesn't bother acknowledging Stiles' comment.
"I mean, I pretty much grew up at the station. You must be new." On second thought, he adds, "Hi." He was raised to be polite and gracious.
Derek Hale doesn't answer. Stiles thinks that's rude, but then, the man is half-carrying Stiles to his car and there are explosions happening somewhere behind them, so it's possible that his mind is busy with other things. Stiles can forgive him, just this once.
"I'm Stiles, by the way. Stilinski. What's your name?"
Derek Hale, who still hasn't informed Stiles that he is Derek Hale, grunts.
Stiles opens his mouth to deliver a monologue on proper introductory etiquette but what comes out instead is... well, barf.
Derek Hale looks up at Stiles, then down at his puke-covered shoes, then back up at Stiles again, and gives him the first of what's to be many—many—glares.
"Ooops," Stiles says.
- 2 -
Back when Stiles was in high school Beacon Hills didn't have a crime lab, because they simply didn't need one. Those were the days.
After years of unexplained deaths, freaky animal attacks, and missing people up the wazoo—and a brief period when people blamed Stiles' dad and replaced him with an ex-ranger who got himself killed within three months—the rich and the powerful raised funds for a crime lab of their very own.
And for some reason, someone thought it would be wise to hand the keys over to Coach Finstock.
The coach who used to routinely shatter Stiles' high school lacrosse dreams had apparently studied entomology for some random reason or another, and is also a certified forensic accountant. That he's good with bugs does not surprise Stiles one bit; that someone trusted him enough to put him in charge of millions of dollars worth of equipment though? That just goes to show what a freak show of a town this is.
"Bilinski!" Finstock yells. "My office! Now!"
Stiles heaves a sigh. It's not a proper start to the work week until Finstock mangles his name. "Yes, coach?" Stiles says, poking his head into Finstock's office. Finstock likes being called coach when they're alone, prefers boss when other people are around, and insists on Mr. President on special occasions.
"I like you, Bilinski," Finstock says, pulling at his crazy hair thoughtfully. "Do you know why I like you?"
"Uh, because Greenberg broke his scapula and I'm the only one who can do both trace and DNA?"
"Yes, you do suck slightly less than most others," he agrees, "but I like you because you get results!"
"Thanks, coach," Stiles says, touched. It's not every day that his crazy boss says something nice—really nice and not a well-hidden insult—to him. "I try."
"Yes, you do," Finstock says. "And you'll keep trying until you get me a lead on that missing high school girl case."
"Maggie Wilkerson," Stiles says. It's not like he hasn't been trying.
"Yes. That. The blonde one with the teeth." Finstock downs half a cup of coffee in one go. "You'll work day and night if necessary. You'll sacrifice your free time and your sleep. You will not rest until we have her back. Because that's what we do. We bring justice. We bring peace. We are the last line of defense against the armies of—"
Stiles interrupts him—"Yes, coach. I'll get right on that."—because when left uninterrupted Finstock can go on for days. Stiles hasn't even had lunch yet; give him a break.
"What did the boss-man want?" Isaac drawls, carefully measuring something alarmingly pink in a beaker. It looks like something from their unofficial samples catalogue that everyone in the lab and the department knows about but are always very careful not to acknowledge.
"We are the unsung heroes, blah, blah, blah. Get me results, blah, blah, blah."
Isaac smirks. "It's that new lab over at Hastings. They're beating our closing rate."
"He does know they won't give us a trophy for that, right?" Stiles asks, grabbing his jacket and his ID badge. "Going out for lunch. You want anything?"
Stiles salutes him on his way out.
The diner is always full of cops, but since their shifts rarely match, Stiles doesn't see his dad there often. Which explains why there's a plate of curly fries in front of the sheriff and a burger halfway to his mouth when Stiles enters.
"What are you doing?!" Stiles yells at him, plopping down next to him in the booth and confiscating his plate of fries. "What did we just talk about last week? No salt and no fast food until you get your blood pressure down."
Ignoring his dad's sigh, Stiles takes the burger from him and flags down the waitress. "Stacy," he says, "we've been over this."
Stacy looks unimpressed. "He has a gun," she says. "What can I get you, Stiles?"
"I'll have this burger, thank you very much," Stiles announces. "As for the sheriff, soup and a green salad, hold the dressing."
His dad groans.
"Don't even," Stiles tells him, stuffing curly fries into his mouth. "Heart attack at fifty is not acceptable. Neither is this beer gut thing you've got going on. You're supposed to be setting an example here. I mean—" He looks up, realizing too late that he has fries trying to escape his mouth, and his eyes meet a pair of green eyes across the booth. Oh, crap.
He swallows the fries whole. "Deputy Hale! I did not see you there!"
His dad laughs. "Yeah, that's Derek," he says, the traitor. "Inconspicuous. People miss him all the time."
Derek Hale is an awkward topic for Stiles, because—well, the whole puke thing. It's not like Stiles isn't used to humiliation, high school has certainly seen to that, but every time the two of them meet, Hale looks at him like Stiles is ridiculous, and yeah, sure, it's Stiles' fate to appear ridiculous to hot people, but does Hale have to make it so painful?
He's like this superhero, a gorgeous ninja werewolf cop, and his default setting when he's with Stiles is death glare.
Stiles' default reaction to that is, naturally, retreat.
"I'm just gonna—" He grabs the burger and wraps it haphazardly in a napkin, then grabs a handful of fries to go as well. "—I gotta run. I've got that thing. Samples to run, crimes to solve. I'll let you two get back to your lunch."
He's halfway to the door when it occurs to him... "No more fast food for the sheriff!" he announces to the diner at large. "And no salt!" With that, he runs out the door. He looks back from across the road to see Stacy delivering his dad's soup, and Derek Hale staring right back at him.
Stiles is man enough to admit that he runs away.
It's hard to keep track of who knows what in Beacon Hills.
Like, why does the vet know everything? Do werewolves go to him for shots? Stiles would ask Hale, but he prefers to have all his limbs attached to his body at this point in his life.
Stiles mostly just assumes no one knows anything and keeps things between him and his dad. And Isaac, because he needs his accomplice, but other than that, he doesn't take any chances. He's pretty sure everyone in law enforcement is in the know to some degree. Except for Finstock, who's taking denial to whole new levels, and anyone higher up than Stiles' dad, because they clearly don't want to know.
Stiles had had the pleasure of meeting the local werewolf pack in high school, when the crazy uncle they kept in the attic tried to give him the bite and claim him for his werewolf army or whatever, and what he'd seen of Laura Hale back then had sold him on the Hales being the good guys. Not that there'd been a lot of Hales left, even back then. Just Peter, who eventually died a fiery death, and Derek, who was rarely around. Laura, though... she seemed nice. Stiles likes it when people save him from monsters and certain death. That's probably why he's now feeling a kinship with Derek, who very pointedly does not return it.
He knows his dad has dealt with Laura in the past and that he considers her an ally. And it makes sense on both sides to have a werewolf in the force. Hale is like the Robocop, seriously. He's singlehandedly—singlepawedly?—closing fifty percent of the department's cases, easy. He can track people by scent, he's a walking lie detector, and he's almost on par with Stiles' mass spectrometer in identifying substances. Stiles would prefer it if he didn't lick the crime scenes, but he can't argue with the results.
In the case of Maggie Wilkerson, Hale doesn't have a lot to go on. Her scent disappears abruptly, and her room, where she was last seen, is clean. Professional clean. Clean, as in, someone knew they were dealing with werewolves clean. Stiles doesn't like it. He doesn't like it one bit.
He's run trace on all the usual suspects already—bed spread, carpet, windowsill, door—but since he has no new evidence, he runs them again. Then he starts running completely random stuff from the room, looking for something out of place, something even remotely suspicious, but it's just not there, and nothing's working. They're going to find this girl's body soon and then Stiles will have nightmares featuring her for the next two months. That is just not acceptable.
"How long have you been here?"
"A while. Some time. I don't know," Stiles says, flailing a hand towards the door as if swatting a fly. He's in the zone. He doesn't have time for Derek Hale.
Stiles turns around and it is indeed Derek Hale, werewolf cop extraordinaire, leaning against the glass wall of Stiles' fishbowl of a lab. Stiles blinks his stinging eyes, shakes his head, but nope, Hale is still there.
"Uh. Hi? How can I help you?"
"I'm pretty sure your shift ended six hours ago," Hale tells him.
Stiles doesn't check the time. That would be a sign of weakness. Or something. "Yes. And?"
Hale shrugs in an extremely annoying way. Stiles wouldn't be able to tell you what makes a shrug annoying, it just is. "I don't know... sleep?"
Stiles is too tired for this. Which is probably what Hale is trying to point out. "Sleep is for the weak."
Hale smirks. "You're not going to find anything," he tells Stiles.
Oh, that just makes Stiles want to hit him a lot. And prove him wrong. But mostly the hitting. "And how would you know that?"
"There's nothing to find," Hale says. "She literally disappeared into thin air. It was magic."
Stiles sits upright as if electrocuted. "Magic," he says. They've dealt with magic before, but mostly with curses and hexes. Not Apparition. "So she, what, Apparated? Where?"
Hale gives him a blank look. Of course he hasn't read Harry Potter. He probably only reads werewolf manuals and how-to guides on murder and mayhem.
"Transported. Beamed. Disappeared here and appeared somewhere else," Stiles explains.
"I don't know yet, but I know you won't find it using a microscope."
Oh, that is a challenge Stiles will accept! He has his ways. He may have relegated himself to eternal Robin status by becoming a criminalist instead of a cop, but that doesn't mean he can't do everything Batman can do and more.
Except for one-handed push-ups. He's seen Hale do that and it's just not natural.
"How sure are you that it's magic?"
Hale raises one of his inexplicably expressive eyebrows. "Pretty sure. Why?"
"No reason." Stiles shuts everything down systematically and nods at Hale before leaving in a hurry. "See you around."
He has research to do.
Stiles knows a bit about the theory of magic.
From what he understands it's all energy in the end. Magic users somehow manage to channel and control some kind of energy that shouldn't exist in their reality, probably pulling it from dimensions beyond normal people's perception. That's the hard part, getting your hands on that energy. It requires a little something not everyone seems to have. Wielding it to do your bidding is the fun part. A bit of an art, if you ask Stiles.
The point is, all energy leaves a trace. You just need to know how to detect it.
Which they don't. So they experiment.
They start small. Isaac tries to move a pencil using a spell from a book Stiles had ordered online when he was eighteen. (From a legitimate witchcraft store in Holland! He's pretty sure it's for real!) It doesn't work, but the before and after readings show a slight increase in alpha radiation levels. Next, they try a conjuring spell, which also doesn't work, but Stiles still records the readings dutifully. They work their way up to serious stuff, and by the time Finstock comes looking for them, they're getting ready to fail at turning a fly into a bunny.
(Isaac had suggested mountain lion, but on the off chance that it worked, Stiles had to veto it. It would have been cool though.)
Finstock takes in the scene curiously, hands on his hips, but as soon as he notices the still-bloody avian heart swimming in saline solution in a beaker he takes a step back and shakes his head. "I don't wanna know what you're doing, do I?"
"Probably not," Stiles admits.
"Right," Finstock says, turning on his heels to go back the way he came. "As you were, then."
The explosion comes out of nowhere.
All they have on the table are a box of cotton balls, a couple drops of human blood, and a beaker full of woodchips shaved from the north side of a thirty-year-old oak tree. Nothing dangerous, and certainly nothing combustible. But then Isaac places his hands over them and says the Latin-sounding words and whoosh. White hot energy comes out of nowhere and suddenly there's a blue fireball hovering between Isaac's palms and the tabletop, and then—Stiles is flying through the glass wall of his lab, covered in flames.
Stiles has always been clumsy and way too curious for his own good, so he's used to falling off and into things. Blood and broken bones do not faze him. Blue fire covering his lab coat, on the other hand? Totally freaks him out.
People are running, the fire alarm is blaring, and the sprinklers are on, but the flame is not going down. Isaac grabs the fire extinguisher and douses Stiles with a generous coating of white foam, but the frickin' flame just keeps climbing up, going over the foam now, gliding as if it's looking for something, and dammit, trust Isaac to conjure an intelligent flame looking for human flesh to consume.
"Shit! Shit! Shit!" Isaac is yelling, going through their secret cupboard which contains some secret samples of secret stuff—stuff Stiles is not letting Isaac put on him, no way, no how, and Stiles is shaking his arm like an idiot, trying to blow the sentient flame away like a goddamn birthday candle, when, thankfully, help arrives.
In the shape of a pissed off werewolf.
"Take the damn thing off," Hale says, which is an awesome idea, but then he doesn't even bother giving Stiles the time to do it. He manhandles Stiles' limbs out of the lab coat—wet and slippery and still on fire—and balls up the mangled piece of fabric. As he's looking around frantically for a way to dispose of it, Isaac comes to the rescue holding out a fire blanket.
Isaac is badass, Stiles finds himself thinking, watching him wrap the flame in the blanket and then dump the whole thing in the extra-large biohazard container they borrowed from the coroner six months ago and conveniently forgot to return.
"Whoa," Isaac says, wrestling the lock into place. "Does anyone else feel like a Ghostbuster?"
Stiles laughs and starts humming the theme song. He'd go for a dance too, but his legs are suddenly rubber and he's sliding down the corridor wall like a cartoon character melting under the sprinklers.
"What were you thinking?!" Hale yells at him, sounding furious.
Stiles opens his eyes to find him at eye level, crouched in the middle of the debris, wet hair in his face, and his shirt clinging to—holy mother of god, so many muscles. He's glaring, but that's nothing new. In fact, it's familiar enough to jar Stiles out of an embarrassing fantasy.
"You know," Stiles says. "Experimenting. For science, justice, and the American way. To be perfectly honest though, we were not going for sentient flames. Bunnies, possibly with hovering capabilities, but there were no flames whatsoever in our plans."
Hale takes Stiles' right wrist in his hand and turns his arm around to inspect the extent of the burns. It looks ugly and goes all the way up to his elbow, but it's still much better than Stiles would have expected, really. It could have been his face. It could have been his hair.
"Idiot," Hale says under his breath, turning Stiles' arm this way and that.
Stiles would be offended but he's too busy hurting to register the insult. "Could you maybe stop moving my arm?" he asks, a little breathless. "That kinda hurts."
The movement stops immediately. Stiles feels Hale's fingers tighten around his wrist instead.
There's a commotion down the hall, medics hopefully, and oh, that's his dad's voice, awesome. Stiles decides to close his eyes, but it turns out they're already closed, and then he feels a relaxing warmth working its way up his arm, taking away the stinging pain.
He figures this might be a convenient time to pass out.
Finstock is going to kill him when he wakes up.
Two weeks later, Maggie Wilkerson shows up by the side of a road just out of town, completely naked.
She says she doesn't remember what happened, so the case remains open and eventually goes cold.
Stiles puts her name in his Suspected Supernaturals list. Just in case.
- 3 -
Finstock keeps threatening to fire him, which Stiles knows is bullshit, but also the last time he visited the mayor made some noises about some members becoming a liability, which Stiles hopes was just an empty threat, but just in case there's a possibility of him losing his lab—what would he even do with himself, god—Stiles decides to lay low for a couple of months.
The biohazard alarm? Totally not his fault.
Stiles is actually excited to come to work that day, because the evidence from the drug bust should be delivered by now and the place they busted is a known magic shop. The owner says he sells herbs, but it's herbs with happy endings, if you know what he means. Stiles knows what's going on behind closed doors. Magic. And other cool stuff that he can't wait to get his hands on.
So like a kid on Christmas Eve, Stiles wakes up before his alarm, sings in the shower, dresses in his favorite t-shirt and jeans, and grabs a cup of coffee and a bagel on his way to work. Once there, he shoots his empty cup into the trash can, he puts on his lab coat—which is pink, don't ask, but even that is not enough to bring him down—and he hooks up his iPod to the archaic sound system they inherited from Isaac's old college roommate.
'Break on through to the other side!' Morrison yells through the speakers, and Stiles nods along, breaking the seal of the first bag of evidence.
It's not until three hours and fourteen bags of herbs, suspicious substances, and slimy things in jars later that his day crashes and burns.
He just... touches the bag. He doesn't even poke it. If he'd known he was going to be wearing the bag's contents in a few seconds, he totally would have poked at it, just on principle. But he doesn't. He only reaches for the bag, and it explodes.
Stiles' eyes are stinging, and for a moment, he can barely breathe. He shakes his head to get the worst of the powder—substance—whatever—out of his eyes and opens them to a white-washed table. It's all over him. All over the table. All over the lab. And he has no idea what it is.
"Fuck my life," he says to the empty lab and pauses the music.
Thankfully at that point his training kicks in and his worry that Isaac will be back any second makes him move faster than he otherwise would. He hits the button to close the sliding glass door—replaced three times since he started working here, but let's not dwell on ancient history now—and enters the code to lock it.
Next, he gets under the safety shower and yanks the chain.
While he's wrestling with his clothes he finds the time to worry about the security camera in the corner and how unflattering the footage will be. A panicked Stiles is not a sexy Stiles, which, fuck you, there totally is such a thing as sexy Stiles. Smart is sexy. At least when it's not taking a cold, emergency shower and gargling like there's no tomorrow.
There are no towels, but there's Isaac's lab coat, which is also pink this week because Isaac should never be allowed to do laundry, ever. The lab coat doesn't have any buttons, so Stiles improvises and turns it sideways to wrap around his waist.
He's cold, and he's wet, and he's sorry he ever left the bed this morning, but this is probably only the beginning of what will be a long, miserable day, so he stops bitching about the unfairness of life and pulls the fire alarm.
When he's done wincing at the sound, he finds Isaac standing on the other side of the glass door, eyes big as saucers, giving him a look that screams what the fuck now.
"Go to Finstock. Tell him to call the sheriff and the health department. One of the evidence bags exploded and released some sort of off-white powder. It doesn't taste like drugs. You need to evacuate the building, just in case."
Isaac nods, looking shocked.
"Go," Stiles urges him, and watches as Isaac runs towards Finstock's office.
No one panics.
Well, his dad panics plenty, but he's the sheriff and it's not like he's going to show it. He tries to get Stiles to go to the hospital, but what use is that when they haven't identified the substance? And he's not even showing any symptoms right now. What if it's nothing important? Then they'd have gotten everyone worked up over nothing. No, Stiles insists on staying, and as they wait for the state health department people—who, apparently, will be taking the scenic route—Stiles starts testing.
He's cold and miserable, but at least he's good for this.
The powder is not heroine, or cocaine, or talc, or flour. Stiles got a nose and mouthful of it, so he can say with confidence that it's nothing he can identify by taste or scent. Which is not good, but there's still a million non-lethal things it can be. Considering the source, there's also a very good chance that it's nothing he'll be able to identify anyway, that it's something magical. Stiles is not sure if that would be better or worse than it being the plague.
He's turned his music back on and is immersed in putting together a set of samples for the CDC when someone knocks on the glass door.
It's Derek Hale. Why isn't Stiles surprised?
"Do you even know what biohazard means?"
Hale glares at him. You have to admire the guy's conviction, braving a quarantine zone just to glare at Stiles. "Open the door," he says, gruff.
Stiles crosses his arms over his chest. His naked chest, which he's suddenly very aware of. "Not gonna happen," he says. "You shouldn't be here."
"I'll be fine," Hale says. "You know I'm... immune."
"Do I?" Stiles asks. "Has anyone ever tried anthrax on werewolves? Cholera? Bubonic plague?"
Derek's scowl grows deeper and darker.
"Didn't think so," Stiles tells him. "Now shoo. And let me do my job."
"I can do it faster," Hale insists. "Just give me a sample and I'll have this figured out before your machine can warm up."
Insult Stiles all you want, but insulting his Lydia?—He puts a hand on his mass spec to calm her down.—That is an act of war.
"Don't make me call my dad," Stiles threatens.
"He knows I'm here," Derek answers.
That makes Stiles pause. "I just talked to him. He didn't say anything about sending you in."
Derek shrugs, a little guiltily. "I didn't say he sent me. I said he knows."
Stiles doesn't know what he's supposed to say to that. He doesn't even know what it means. "Look, the evidence bag was rigged—with magic. There was no trigger anywhere, nothing visible anyway, but it exploded as soon as I touched it. So either someone in your team screwed up real bad, or it's an inside job."
Oh, Deputy Hale does not like that. His canines are growing, visibly. It's fascinating to watch, though granted, also a little bit on the scary side.
"So, you know," Stiles says, distracted. "You go work that angle, and I'll be here doing my thing."
"I'll be back," Hale says, enunciating the words carefully, and turns around to hulk his way out of the deserted lab.
Stiles rolls his eyes behind his back. "Whatever you say, Terminator."
Stiles checks the time.
It's been an hour and a half, and he feels like he's sweated off an ocean. He's shivering, his hands are shaking, and his vision is getting disturbingly blurry.
He's not going to be able to bullshit his way out of this one, it seems. He needs to call for the medical team he's been fighting off tooth and nail, and he needs to tell his dad—tell his dad—that it's—
He hits redial on his phone.
"Dad. Uh. I'm pretty sure I'm about to pass out, and I—uh—what was I—the thing—the powder—nothing—it's—CDC's not gonna get it."
That's all he manages to say before the line goes dead. Or maybe it's his brain. Either way, Stiles checks out and doesn't gain consciousness until after the whole thing is wrapped.
Which is just typical, seriously. His life.
Stiles opens his eyes to a white ceiling and the bitter smell of medicine. "I don't wanna be Robin all the time," he whines under his breath. What's wrong with letting the geek take the lead once in a while? Stiles could kick ass given the chance.
"You're not Robin," his dad says, one hand carding through Stiles' hair, betraying his nervousness. He never does that unless he's really, really scared. "You're the hero."
"At best, I'm the damsel in distress," Stiles grumbles, sitting up.
His dad gives him a sip of water, which he accepts gratefully. It feels like he might have been chewing glass in his sleep.
"How long have I been out?"
"Two days," his dad says. The rings under his eyes accuse Stiles of being a bad son. To be fair though, Stiles got most of these genes from his dad. His mom was the less adventurous, let's-enjoy-this-quiet-day kind of person. She was stubborn, but to Stiles' knowledge never got herself quarantined for anything.
His dad half hugs him to his chest and squeezes his shoulder. They're manly men, so Stiles doesn't snuggle in.
"So what was it? Did you get whoever did it?"
"Yeah," his dad says. "Derek took care of it."
It should maybe bother Stiles how proud his dad sounds when he's talking about Hale, but then he's always a bit amazed at how his dad somehow tamed the big bad wolf, and Hale doesn't have a dad of his own, or a mother, or even an uncle—though who would have wanted to keep Peter, seriously—so Stiles can't begrudge them the closeness. It's not that he's not jealous, he totally is, but he can put on his big boy pants and get over it.
"Of course he did," Stiles says, rolling his eyes. "He was all Terminator at the lab. You should let him wear leather. Then he'd be the whole package."
His dad looks amused. "He was really worried about you."
Stiles doesn't know what to say to that. It's probably good manners to worry about your boss' son who might be dying, but Derek Hale and manners? Stiles didn't think they were acquainted. "Who was it, then?" he asks, trying to get the conversation back on track.
"One of the new field techs," his dad says. "A Fred Johnson?"
Stiles knows the guy. Pimples, pasty skin. "What would he want with me?"
His dad shifts... shiftily. "It wasn't you, really. His mother was apparently killed by Peter Hale."
"And?" Stiles asks. It's not like he was ever a fan of the crazy uncle.
His dad shrugs. "He wanted to get back at Derek. Hurting the people he cares about."
"That... sounds like a stupid plan. I mean, I'm not... I don't even..."
"There's... not a lot of people Derek cares about," his dad says, picking his words carefully.
Well, duh, Stiles wants to say, but refrains. Laura Hale would be way too hard to get to, and Stiles' dad has a gun that he's not afraid to use. Other than that, Stiles hasn't seen Derek Hale with anyone. Stiles can see how he would be the next best thing, hurting Hale by hurting Stiles' dad by hurting Stiles, but—yeah, convoluted logic, and it's starting to hurt his brain.
"You sleep now," his dad says, pushing him back down on the bed. "You can read the full report when you're better."
Stiles would fight him, but. Damn drugs.
Doctors keep him for two more days for observation, because as always, they don't know what the hell's going on. It's a shame that the only health care professional who knows what's really happening in Beacon Hills at any given time is a vet.
In the meantime, Isaac steals him a copy of the police report, buys him chocolate, and brings him a new—not-pink—lab coat as a yay-you're-not-dead gift.
He also hugs Stiles, a lot. Stiles hugs him back a whole lot himself, because his manliness is fluid, like his sexuality, and it's dependent on who he's with and how he's feeling. So while he and his dad are manly men, at least in public, he and Isaac are fluffy puppies at best. And puppies cuddle. It's their thing.
"Man, Derek Hale kicked butt for you! What's that all about?"
"It's time I let you in on our little secret, Isaac," Stiles says, rifling through the five-page report. "Hale has been sent back from the future to protect me. Because my son will one day defeat the Empire and save human kind from slavery."
Isaac throws a Hershey's Kiss at Stiles' head, which Stiles catches and eats. "You're mixing your movie references."
"Whatever." Stiles shrugs.
"But seriously," Isaac says. "Hale didn't just take Johnson in. He put the guy in the hospital to make him talk. And he got you the antidote in time. I mean, that's above and beyond—right?"
"Hale himself is a little bit above and beyond, don't you think?"
Isaac doesn't seem convinced.
"Seriously, it's not like I'm keeping my werewolf connections from you. He's just fond of my dad." He shrugs. "Maybe he considers me his annoying little brother or something."
"Oh, I really don't think that's it," Isaac says.
Stiles doesn't ask. Derek Hale, with his glares, and his savoir complex, is not what he wants to talk about right now. "Tell me about the poison."
Isaac perks up. "Oh, you're gonna love that!"
- 4 -
It's Stiles' birthday and he's feeling melancholy.
He's spent more years without his mom than he ever did with her at this point, but the special days—holidays, birthdays, weddings—never fail to make him long for her. Her perfume that she only wore on special occasions, her laugh, the way she made his dad laugh... it's just this feeling in his gut that will probably never go away.
Stiles didn't bother changing shifts tonight. He doesn't have anything special planned, doesn't have anyone special to plan anything with. So he's just going for dinner with his dad, and maybe Isaac if he's not busy, which he probably isn't. Isaac is the loyal type, and even though he always tries not to make a big deal out of them—like maybe someone told him not to, repeatedly—he loves birthdays.
It's a little past six PM, almost everyone is gone or getting ready to leave, and Stiles is settling in for a couple hours of peace and quiet with only his Lydia for company. And of course that's when someone clears their throat in the doorway.
"Not leaving yet?"
Stiles finds himself wondering if Derek Hale has a magical door in his home that leads directly to the crime lab. There can't be any other explanation as to why he's constantly there.
"Nope," Stiles says noncommittally.
"I thought it was your birthday."
Stiles gives him a questioning look. How would Hale know about his birthday?
"Your dad... said... something." He shuffles his feet uncomfortably. "Never mind," he says, turning around. "Good night."
Stiles means to respond, but he's a little too confused to, and then Hale is gone.
"Heading out," Isaac says five minutes later, poking his head through the door. "Call me when you're done?"
"Sure," Stiles waves at him distractedly, not even bothering to look up from his slide.
It's a three-minute window tops, between that and the gunshots, and those sure wake Stiles out of his daze. Two shots—handgun, semi-automatic, Stiles would guess—and two distinct screams, followed by deafening silence.
He wants to go look, help out if he can, but the voice in his head that sounds eerily like his dad tells him to back the fuck off and hide, which is what Stiles does, hiding behind the counter—until he hears someone breathing loudly and stumbling just outside the lab and realizes that it's Isaac.
"Shit!" Stiles whispers, taking in all the blood covering Isaac's left arm. "You're fine," he says automatically, drawing Isaac inside and lowering him on the floor. "Let me see."
His hands are shaking a little bit, but he refuses to acknowledge it. He rips the sleeve of Isaac's shirt and inspects the wound best he can through the blood. "Looks like the bullet's out," he says, poking at the sides gently.
"Yay," Isaac deadpans, looking just about ready to pass out.
"Put pressure on it," Stiles says, wrapping Isaac's fingers around the wound. "I'm gonna call—"
"Oh, look who I found!"
Stiles knows who it is before he even turns around, and seriously, he thinks, what the fuck is wrong with this town? Is it something in the water or what?
"Greenberg," he says, resigned.
Stiles always knew the dude was off his rocker, and the look he has going on right now, with the spray of blood on his cheek, the gun dangling from his hand, the batshit insane expression on his face... it all works perfectly for him. Stiles kind of wishes Finstock was here to see this.
"Hey there, Stilinski," Greenberg says, saluting him with his gun. "I see the coach is not in, so I guess I'm going to have to make do with you."
Stiles gets up, wiping his bloody hands on his t-shirt. "Yeah. But he just left a couple minutes ago, I bet you can catch him if you hurry."
Greenberg snorts. "Nice try. But I think I'm going to finish up here first."
He turns the gun to Isaac, who lets out a scared yelp, so of course Stiles has to step in front of him, no way he's letting Isaac get shot twice in one day, but then Greenberg actually pulls the trigger, crazy motherfucker, and Stiles has a mini heart attack as the idiot inexplicably misses.
"Stop fucking shooting!" Stiles yells at him. "Fuck! What the fuck is the matter with you!"
"You!" Greenberg yells back, waving the gun around. "You are my problem! You ruined my life in high school and now you're ruining my life here! Why don't you just go away and die!"
He shoots again. This time Stiles manages to throw himself down on the floor, crouching in front of Isaac who clutches at Stiles' shirt. Thankfully, Greenberg seems as bad at this as he is at everything else, so the bullet goes wide—but the lab is small and there's no way Stiles will be able to get Isaac behind the counter, so unless he takes Greenberg down somehow, there's no way the two of them will survive this.
But then, as always, someone intervenes.
There's a growl—a really angry growl—coming from down the hall, and in a second it turns into a full out roar. Greenberg starts shooting towards the sound hysterically and it doesn't even sound like he misses, but the roar keeps coming closer and closer—until suddenly there's a huge werewolf standing in front of Greenberg, teeth bared, chest bloody, and apparently still strong enough to pick a grown man up with one hand and throw him across the room.
Greenberg lands on the floor with a sickening crack. Stiles thinks he probably won't be able to get up again on his own.
The werewolf has the tattered remains of a police uniform on him, but it's not like Stiles needs to see that to know who it is. Hale's eyes are electric blue in this form, and he looks... free, in a way. Normally he's so tightly controlled, so wound up—Stiles didn't even know he noticed these things about him, but now that he's seen both his faces, so to speak, he's fascinated by the differences and similarities.
The werewolf stands right in front of him, and Stiles can tell Isaac isn't even breathing, but surprisingly enough Stiles doesn't feel afraid. Well, not a lot, anyway. He's crazy enough to be smiling at the monster who just killed a man with his bare hands.
(Stiles never claimed to be normal.)
"You got shot," Stiles says, taking in the still-bleeding bullet holes in the hairy chest.
Hale doesn't say anything. He seems to be studying Stiles in return, eyes raking up and down Stiles' length, stopping on the blood on his shirt.
"It's not my blood. I'm okay," Stiles says, but doesn't step back when Hale reaches a hand to touch his shirt, pull it up, and check for himself.
It's odd, and it's making Stiles feel funny, the way someone so large, so animalistic, is touching him so gently. That's not even taking into account that it's Derek Hale, and that he seems frantic, looking for a wound that's not there.
"I'm fine," Stiles tells him, grabbing his wrist. "And you need to change back." There are sirens coming closer; cops will be there any second. Stiles doesn't know who knows what in the department, but he knows there's only so much his dad can cover up.
Hale changes back like he's letting out a breath, easy and natural, but he stumbles half a step into Stiles as he does, probably because of the wounds. "Got you," Stiles says, instinctively grabbing his elbows to steady him. He's trying very hard not to look at the bleeding chest wounds, right there in front of him holy hell, so he thinks he can be excused for not seeing the kiss coming.
He doesn't even get to participate. One second Hale's lips are taking his in a bruising kiss, hands gripping Stiles' waist tightly, and the next he's disappeared, like a ninja.
Stiles stands there like an idiot, trying to grasp what just happened.
"Don't mind me," Isaac says. "I'm just bleeding here."
- 5 -
Stiles gets cupcakes.
He doesn't know what he's supposed to do; there's no manual on the internet for when a guy gets shot, like, five times while saving your life. Seriously, Stiles Googled the shit out of that last night, because there was no way he was going to be able to sleep, wired as he was. So he's going with cupcakes, because who doesn't like cupcakes? They're little cakes with different flavors and awesome colors and stuff. And there's chocolate in some of them, so.
One of the things Stiles knows for sure about werewolves is that they can hear you coming from miles away. So he's not surprised to be greeted by Laura Hale before he even parks his jeep. He's a little surprised that she's in her pajamas and that those pajamas have little pink hearts on them, but the cutesy outfit somehow makes her look more scary. How does that even work, Stiles wonders, and would it work for him?
He doubts it.
"Hey, Stilinski," Laura says, padding down the porch stairs in her fluffy slippers to greet him. "You look good. Not dead."
"Yeah." Stiles nods. "I like that too. Not being dead. Is, uh... is Derek home?"
The knowing smile on Laura's face is evil. Pure, unadulterated evil. She nods towards the guesthouse. "Try that door."
Stiles nods jerkily. He'll just... try that door. And find Derek Hale. Who already knows Stiles is here.
Stiles turns around—a little too fast. "Yeah?"
She gestures to the box in the passenger seat. "Don't forget your cupcakes."
Stiles was a kid when the Hale house burned down. He doesn't remember what it looked like before the fire. But he knows that later, when Laura got it rebuilt, they changed the layout completely. They tore the whole thing down and started from scratch, which always made sense to Stiles. He wouldn't want to live in the same rooms where his family died either.
The guesthouse is one of the new additions. It's a little ways away from the main house, looks tiny and cozy, but Derek probably prefers it for the privacy.
Not that Stiles is thinking about Derek's privacy. That's none of his business.
He doesn't pause at the door, because let's face it, Derek is probably waiting with his hand on the doorknob, and as expected, as soon as Stiles knocks, the door creaks open invitingly.
And it reveals Derek Hale, wearing a pair of worn sweatpants. Wearing only the sweatpants.
"Hi," Stiles croaks. "Um. I brought cupcakes."
Derek waves him in without a word.
Derek has a kitchen, where he makes coffee, and there's a tiny breakfast nook where people can sit, and—okay, it's not that Stiles thought Derek Hale would be living in a cave or anything, but it's just a shock to the system to see him living somewhere so... homey.
And Stiles is not an expert at this, but Derek looks nervous. He's not sending Stiles packing, he's not making small talk, and he has his back to Stiles in a way that suggests maybe he doesn't know what to say or where to look?
Stiles knows where to look. Where else could he possibly look but at those muscles, and that tattoo, and dammit, those sweatpants are just barely hanging on to Derek's hips... Is this revenge? Is he mad at Stiles for getting him shot? The cupcakes are supposed to make up for that.
"I just dropped by to thank you," Stiles says into the uncomfortable silence. "For saving my life. Again."
Derek turns around at that, and slides a cup of coffee towards Stiles on the counter. Stiles doesn't touch it. He doesn't do well with hot beverages when he's this nervous.
"And I wanted to see if you were okay." He gestures to Derek's naked—so naked—chest. "Which, you look okay. I mean, you've healed, obviously. And that's good."
Derek smiles, just a little, just a touch, and it pisses Stiles off for some reason. Like, okay, so maybe his babbling is amusing, but Derek is certainly not helping by being all silent and naked.
"Oh, so you can smile?" Stiles says, a little bitchily. "Great to know. Is there a rule that says you can only smile after getting shot a whole bunch of times?"
That makes Derek's smile grow, because what's funnier than an angry Stiles. Ha ha.
"Okay, I'm just gonna go." Stiles pokes at the box of cupcakes on the counter and says, "Enjoy the cupcakes. And thank you for the rescue. Have a nice day."
He's almost out of the kitchen when he makes himself stop, because this is bullshit. This whole silent treatment thing? Stiles knows Derek Hale talks, he talks to Stiles' dad, so he can damn well explain a thing or two to Stiles, because if they have to go back to the way things were, and if Stiles has to put up with one more glare followed by one more heroic rescue, he's going to do something drastic.
Like this, perhaps:
"You know what, I'm not leaving. First you tell me what the hell that was last night." He crosses his arms over his chest and stands his ground.
"Oh, my God," Stiles yells at him. "What do you think I'm talking about? What else did you do last night that I would be asking you about? Get a grip! You got shot a bunch of times and then you kissed me!"
"Oh, that," Derek says with a smirk.
"Yeah, that," Stiles answers, not amused.
Derek shrugs. He shrugs. Stiles doesn't even have the words to describe how angry that makes him, and he tends to have a lot of words.
"It was what it was."
"So you glare at me and then save my life, yell at me and then save my life again, and now you kiss me and what—you'll go back to glaring at me?" He throws his hands up in the air. "Mixed signals! I don't get it!"
For a second there, Derek looks like he's going to answer, but he just shakes his head and runs a palm over his eyes instead.
"I brought you cupcakes!" Stiles explodes. "I deserve some answers!"
But of course he doesn't get any answers, instead he gets backed against a wall and his personal space invaded by a werewolf.
Derek's eyebrows are drawn together, like he's concentrating really hard—on what? Freaking Stiles out? He leans in close, closer, until his nose is dragging up Stiles' neck.
"What're you doing?" Stiles whispers, hands pressed against the wall. He doesn't know what else to do with them. He has no idea what's happening.
Derek licks up the trail he just nuzzled, making Stiles gasp, and then sucks a bruise on Stiles' neck, right under his ear.
"Okay," Stiles says, waiting for him to pull back. "But that's—that's not an answer."
Derek's eyes flash blue for a second, and then they soften. "Yes, it is," he says, chest heaving.
"Okay," Stiles whispers again, finally daring to put his hands on Derek. They land on his back, warm, smooth skin under his fingers, and he pulls Derek in without even thinking about it.
Derek presses against him, relaxing into his touch, and whines into Stiles' neck like a puppy.
Maybe it is an answer after all.
"I'm going to need you to elaborate," Stiles says. "Later though. After. I mean. You know what I mean."
Derek kisses his neck.
Stiles takes that as agreement.
6 Hours Later
"Mates?" Stiles squeaks, almost kicking Derek in the head with a flailing leg.
"You wanted me to elaborate," Derek says.
"But mates?" He pulls the sheet to cover himself. Having this conversation in bed may not have been the best idea.
Derek pulls the covers back. "What were you expecting?"
"I don't know!" Stiles continues to flail at him. "That you thought I was cute?"
"I think you're annoying," Derek says with a glare. "You're clumsy. You set yourself on fire. You piss off homicidal maniacs as a hobby. You're stubborn. You're too smart for your own good. You'll probably die before you're thirty."
Stiles feels a stupid smile bloom on his face and refuse to leave. He would hide under the covers, but they've all been stolen.
"That's not funny," Derek tells him. "You need to stop acting like you have a death wish."
Stiles bites his bottom lip, but the smile won't be contained. "You love me," he says, feeling his cheeks heat up.
Derek scoffs. "I don't know why."
Stiles rolls on top of him and laughs into a kiss.