A Dash of Salt
Summery: After reading up on Pack Dynamics, and looking over everyone in the Pack, Stiles doesn’t feel he contributes anything. He’s determined to fix that.
Stiles watched everyone from where he was sprawled on his Dad’s recliner. Jackson was trying to get Lydia to pay attention to him while snarking at Scott, who was ignoring him in favor of nuzzling Allison’s neck and cuddling on the couch. Lydia was filing her nails and just projecting her usual air of sheer Goddessliness while doing it. Derek had yet to arrive, and Danny had only made it a few minutes ago and had gone straight to the bathroom, but he’d be back any moment and would join Jackson on the floor to take up the second controller for a game of Mario-Kart.
Stiles remained quiet for once, sliding into the background, unnoticed as his eyes took everything in, and his ADHD mind spazzed over a hundred different thoughts that somehow wound up connected anyways, about everyone’s actions.
Jackson – the way he was trying to get Lydia’s attention, to challenge Scott, even though he was the Omega, the lowest Wolf on the totem pole, and, as Danny joined him, how he shifted so his should brushed the other boys in an affectionate, protective way.
Lydia – who was acting like she was ignoring everyone, but Stiles noticed the way she’d shift to “get comfortable”, and that it allowed her to see everyone in the room. She was the Alpha Female, and while she may have seemed to be a bit of a bitch and only concerned with her popularity status, she took the Pack’s well-being almost more seriously than Derek did in many ways.
Scott – the Beta, who was, even now, scent-marking Allison and making sure all-and-sundry knew that she belonged to him, even as he appeared to be wrapped around her little finger.
And his thoughts jumped to everything these people brought to the pack, including their currently-absent Alpha.
Derek, who brought protection and guidance, even if it was in the form of a gruff voice and growls and some wall-shoving. Lydia, who would be kind and loving at the most inspiring moments, but was also ready and willing to tear anyone who harmed her Packmates to shreds and make them scream. Scott, who was strong and obsessive and not that smart but pretty damned determined. Jackson, who, even when he was trying to be a total asshat douche, still had that eager-to-please/belong look about his eyes and the way he’d subtly try and make things work out without seeming to. Allison, with her Hunter training, but still her glowing, utter, gentle kindness that could bring the goodness out of everyone. Danny, who was sarcastic and kind and pretty awesome, who had skills with a computer that Stiles was pretty sure Bill Gates would jizz in his pants to have working for him and, ew, thought change, now!
And then there was him…
Stiles stared at the screen, as Danny and Jackson cajoled one another, as Scott and Allison cheered them on and Lydia sneered her delicate way with soft eyes, and he couldn’t think of one damn way he helped the Pack… Helped his Pack.
He needed to fix that, but how? Everyone already had a notch; they meshed. His place couldn’t just be the babbling, human, one-man-comedy-show!
“Man, I’m starving!” Scott’s sudden complaint cut through his worried, spastic thoughts, and he answered automatically, as if it were his Dad instead of his best friend.
“I’m going, I’m going,” he said, flicking his hands at him and getting up, padding towards the kitchen, lost, still, in his thoughts, and totally missing the startled looks half of the Pack shot him.
“Dude, I didn’t mean-“ Scott started, but Stiles turned and jabbed a finger at him.
“Hush,” he said sternly; Scott hushed, eyes big and startled, and Stiles did notice the flash of calculation that passed over Lydia’s face as he placed his fists on his bony hips. “I’m making dinner. No one-no one, Scott!-come in here without permission. I hate that,” he grumbled, and slipped into what he considered his domain, and felt all his muscles go loose as the spastic, twitchy tension he was so used to was immediately exchanged for dogged, intense focus.
It was one of the reasons he’d always loved cooking, ever since he was little and his mother had started teaching him, claiming about how he must have gotten it from her side because his father was so hopeless and would burn water. It made him feel closer to her, even now, and he smiled faintly to himself as he went about going through the kitchen to see what his options were, because if there was anything he had noticed about wolfy-teenagers, it was that they ate. A LOT. As in, when normal teenagers can eat a cow, wolfy-ones can eat a herd.
Which reminds him, he needs to make sure no one else thinks Jackson and Scott are on the ‘Roids, because Danny was more than enough to make him have mini-panic-attacks until they’d gotten that all cleared up…
Hey! He had white-wine vinegar… and Cayenne and cornstarch! Score! All he needed was more chicken and he could get a meal done, ten minutes, tops… Quickly, he pulled out his phone and scrolled through his contacts until he came to Sourwolf. He hit call and waited as it rung, getting out the swear-to-God actual Wok his Aunt Suzie had given him for his fourteenth birthday and the rest of the materials.
"What?” Derek grunted over the phone; Stiles hummed.
“Hey, wolfy, quick question: Before you get here, could you stop by the grocery store and pick up a bunch of chicken breast? The boneless kind, please. Have them put it one the Stilinski tab or I can pay you back later, doesn’t matter,” he said cheerfully as he looked for the onions. “And a bag of green onions would be fantastic.”
“…Why?” The Alpha actually sounded suspicious and Stiles smirked slightly, amused as he got out a large sandwich bag to pour the cornstarch in and set aside.
“’Cause I’m going to feed the furry masses, but the key ingredients are missing, and I’m too lazy to think of a different recipe right now that would be as fast as the one I’ve got.” He poured the vegetable oil into the Wok, and then set about neatly mincing the garlic cloves, the blade stuttering against the wooden cutting board loudly and quickly as he pinned his cellphone to his ear with his shoulder and continuously grabbed more cloves from the generous bag he’d bought about two weeks ago. He stopped when he had a decent pile.
“Fine,” Derek grunted, and hung up, and Stiles washed and dried his hands before he closed his phone and put it back in his pocket. Forty minutes later, during which time he had made his Mom’s Two-Minute Fudge (minus the nuts, because he hated the way they took away from the sheer, chocolaty goodness, though he still loved the treat either way), he heard Derek’s car pull up. Pulling the casserole dish from the freezer, he cut it into thirty-six pieces, before sliding the whole thing into the fridge to keep it cool. The taller, older, growly man stalked into Stiles kitchen, and it was all Stiles could do to swallow his own growl, taking a deep breath and smiling in thanks as he accepted the bags of chicken and onions and immediately set to chopping the meat into one-and-a-half-inch pieces.
“Derek-“ Scott started from the door, stepping in, mouth opening to continue-
The knife was out of Stiles hand and imbedded in the already-heavily-scarred wall six inches to the left of his best friends head, and stunned, silence feel over the room.
“Out,” he said, lifting his head and smiling a sweet, gentle smile at the frozen, wide-eyed Scott. “Of my Kitchen, Scott Daniel McCall, before I castrate you, shove your cock down your throat, and watch you choke to death on it,” he finished pleasantly, expression never shifting, and he wondered, briefly, if he looked a bit like Peter Hale and that just brought up memories of the Bad Touch and then he blinked and Scott was gone, back in the living room, and he was turning and picking up the extra knife he always had on hand just in case something like this occurred.
Even after all these years, his Dad still tried to come in without asking sometimes.
“What the hell was that, Stilinski?” Jackson asked, peering through the doorway, eying the knife imbedded a good way into the wall, and then the one in his hand warily, and keeping his body mostly hidden. Stiles rolled his shoulder, tension sliding off of them like water as he once again focused on the food in his hands.
“I warned you all,” he said blandly, voice calm, pleasant, eyes half-lidded as he watched his hands move efficiently and swiftly. “No one is allowed in my kitchen when I’m working, unless they have explicit permission. Derek has it, because he brought me groceries. This is my territory, my den, and I will eviscerate you if you trespass.” He paused, looked up, and smiled at the other boy, eyes wide and blank, knife held with a comfortable ease. “That cool with you, dude?” he asked; Jackson nodded slowly, as if moving suddenly would get him impaled, and Stiles beamed and made a shooing motion, going back to his food, finishing the last of the chicken and moving to chop the onions. There was blessed silence in the kitchen for all of five minutes, enough time for him to finish chopping the onions and setting them aside, putting the garlic and the chicken-cubes into the bag of cornstarch, shaking it up lightly to coat them, and finally heating the Wok and vegetable oil.
“What are you making?” Derek asked, and Stiles glanced over at him to find him leaning against the wall, arms crossed, and inscrutable look on his face for once, instead of an angry/snarly/I-Alpha-You-Bug look.
“Ten Minute Szechuan Chicken,” Stiles replied simply; he was in his groove, now, and so totally Zen he didn’t even blush at the raised, disbelieving eyebrow he got.
“It’s gonna be good. Trust me,” he assured, and he smiled, before he checked the clock, and then peered at the oil in the Wok. Deciding it was hot enough, he began dumping the chicken-and-garlic mixture in, adding more oil and carefully turning, stirring, and generally making sure it cooked all the way through, enjoying the loud, sizzling sound and the smell that began to rise.
When the mixture was lightly browned, he added the required soy sauce, the white-wine vinegar, sugar and water to it, stirred it until properly mixed, and then put the lid on it and glanced at the clock, guesstimating the time needed.
“Help me set the table?” he asked Derek; the Alpha just stared at him, but pushed away from the wall and took the plates when Stiles offered them, while he grabbed some silverware and then padded quickly over to the closet to drag out the extra folding chairs they had. Then he hurried back to the Wok, removed the lid, and added the green onions and Cayenne, stirring lazily with the lid off for two more minutes after turning the heat to the lowest setting. Nodding, utterly pleased with the delicious scent that’s rising from his Wok, he turned, and blinked as he saw that Derek had shifted the chairs and plates around while he was working, putting the two actual chairs at one end of the table, and spreading the rest along what remained.
“You’ll sit there,” Derek ordered, pointing at the chair Stiles had always sat in anyways, when he ate with his Dad, and he nodded, tilting his head at the Alpha’s actions, before shrugging and getting a massive bowl, and setting it beside the large Wok.
“I’m not quite done yet,” he told Derek honestly, and ignored the complaints from the living room. “This,” he gestured at the large amount of steaming food on the stove, “well, its enough for a few humans to eat, sure, but you Werewolves eat a lot. So, I’m going to get out a bit more so that the foods not gone before everyone’s full, you know?” Derek nodded, and then growled towards the living room, eyes flashing that bright, lava-red that made a part in the back of Stiles mind that didn’t want to be Zen at the moment babble incoherently for a second about analogies and metaphors and compare-contrast.
“If you don’t want to wait patiently for the food, you won’t eat it when it’s done,” Derek snarled at the doorway; Stiles snorted and shook his head.
“Babies,” he said, in a normal voice, not bothering to try and be quiet (really, with their enhanced hearing, everyone but Allison and Danny would have heard him anyways, and could he just say, awkward!)
“Hey!” Came Scott’s pretty-much-predictable shout. If Stiles hadn’t turned to dig through the pantry, he would have seen the corner of Derek’s mouth twitch up slightly.
“The correct term is Cub,” the Alpha rumbled; Stiles blinked and glanced back, a flash of mischief in his brown eyes.
“Not puppy?” he asked innocently; Derek’s smile was all sharp, white teeth.
“No,” he said, now with a hint of growl, and, as they were in his kitchen and Stiles wanted no damage done to anything, least of all because of his own mouth-diarrhea, he shut up for once, just settling for flashing the Werewolf a cheeky grin, before he was snooping through the pantry again.
“Hmm,” he said, mostly to himself. “I made fudge for dessert, so that’s covered… The chicken and such has vegetables and protein, so that’s good, and is only two hundred twenty-one calories, which is awesome.” He picked up a mango and a jar of clear honey with a thoughtful look. “I could make Aam Lhassi,” he mused, lips pursed, before he set them down again. “Thoughts for later,” he decided. “Abidjan Cabbage Salad?” he wondered, contemplative. He tilted his head. “Anyone allergic to pineapple?” he asked; after a second Derek replied, right behind him.
“No,” he grunted. Stiles pursed his lips, and he hummed.
“That’s pretty easy to make,” he said thoughtfully, straightening and crossing his arms over his chest, tapping his foot as his mind sped through recipes, discarding and pointing them out at random based on what he had and time. “Maybe a soup too… Aigo Bouido takes thirty minutes, which would be enough time to make the Aam Lhassi and the Abidjan Cabbage Salad,” he said, eyes narrowing. “But then I’d need some sort of bread… No, no, the rolls from the other night are still fresh, and there are plenty left for everyone…” He turned and sent a questioning look to Derek. “Think another thirty minutes would kill them?” He asks; his eyes, though, ask are you willing to wait another thirty minutes?
“They’ll live and deal with it or I’ll kill them,” the Alpha said simply, after staring at him for a few minutes, and Stiles practically beams up at him before he starts gathering ingredients, handing quite a bit to the Werewolf and telling him to put them on the counter by the stove. Once everything is done, he gets to work on the soup, which is really just a creamy garlic soup, but not a Cream of Garlic soup…
He sets a large pot of water on the stove and, while he’s waiting for it to start boiling, gets salad ready, since all he has to do is get the thinly sliced cabbage, shredded carrot, and chunks of pineapple (fresh. God but he hates canned foods…) into a big bowl, add a mix of lemon juice, orange juice (straight from an actual orange and lemon), salt, and olive oil, which was used as the dressing, and stick the whole thing in the fridge with the fudge. By then, the water was boiling and so he dropped the garlic cloves in, counted off thirty seconds, drained them and ran cold water over them, before peeling them. Then, he put the pot away, threw all the ingredients for the soup into his three-quart saucepan, and set it to boil for the next thirty minutes.
With that done, he decided against making the Aam Lhassi, and instead decided on the special cheese-bread that usually accompanied Aigo Bouido, and moved about, putting away ingredients and getting different ones out, including a loaf of Texas Toast that he’d gotten with the vague thought of French Toast, and got started. But first… Stiles grabbed a weird thing called a soup tureen and a wire whisk, and got to work on some egg yokes, adding olive oil carefully, and making a mayonnaise.
He didn’t have French bread, but he could improvise, so he took the Texas Toast, buttered it carefully, and shoved it in the oven for ten minutes. He stirred the soup, and then the chicken in the Wok (which was still on its lowest setting in order to keep it warm). After the timer for the bread went off, he pulled on his purple oven mitts and pulled the tray out, and lathered each and every piece in a generous covering of the Swiss cheese he’d just finished grating, before popping it back in the oven to melt.
When the soup was done, he took a ladleful and carefully, drop-for-drop, whisked it into the mayonnaise. Then he got the strainer and began adding in the rest of the soup, beating and pressing the juice out of the garlic. That done, he stirred, breathing in the delicious smells with a pleased hum, and pulled the bread out of the oven, smiling at the golden-brown edges.
Oh yeah, he’s the freaking man~!
“Dinner’s ready,” he called and snickered in amusement, as there was a mad dash for the kitchen by Scott and Jackson, shaking his head as the girls and Danny hurried in after them. Derek let out a deep, thunderous growl that had Jackson scrambling for a different seat when the jock started to take the one the Alpha had all but reserved for Stiles, and the boy blinked at that, before he was moving around, setting the meal on the table, smacking Scott’s hand sharply when the other boy started reaching for the bread and making him yelp, giving huge, wounded eyes that didn’t affect Stiles when he was in his kitchen, because, hello, his Dad gave him that look sometimes too.
“Wait,” he said sternly, and continued to put food on the table, scooping the chicken in the Wok into the large bowl and making it the center-point, and getting the salad last, as well as bowls for everyone to have their soup in. Then he stood and got everyone a glass of water, giving Jackson a narrow-eyed look when he tried to snark about having something else to drink.
“You could sit in the corner and watch while everyone else eats, until we’re done,” Stiles replied, staring at him without blinking. Jackson immediately gaped, and turned to complain to Derek, who gave him a hard look.
“Stiles kitchen, his food, his rules,” he grunted, a ring of red lining his iris, and Jackson flinched slightly, before sitting back with a huff. Stiles stared at him for a few moments longer, before nodding, satisfied, and then proceeded to fill Derek’s plate for him with a large heap of food and then make a plate of food and set it in the fridge for his dad later. Only then did he sit down, and glance at them all.
“Well?” he asked; there was an immediate scrabbling for the food, and chatter amongst everyone. “By the way, the bread is for the soup,” he said, as he calmly waited until everyone had food before getting his own. Derek was already halfway through his plate, eyes occasionally sweeping the table to take everyone in. Stiles eyes did the same, and the curling of smug satisfaction, as the chatter dropped off to silence once the first few bites of food passed the Packs lips, was quite nice for him, he had to admit. His eyes met Derek’s, and he smiled slightly before he dropped his gaze and went back to carefully dunking pieces of his bread into his bowl of soup.
When everyone was done, Stiles stood and went to the fridge, pulling out the tray of fudge and using a spatula to put all thirty-six pieces onto a plate, before he carried it over to the table. He offered it to Derek first, because in all his research he knew that the Alpha always ate first, except in special cases, and the older man took one with a nod. Stiles then walked around the table, offering the plate of goodness, allowing up to two pieces for each person, before setting his own, single piece on his empty, mostly-spotless plate and putting plastic-wrap over the rest, before putting it in the fridge.
“That was amazing, Stiles,” Allison announced, and was immediately agreed with by everyone. Scott had his face on the table and was whimpering, and Stiles frowned at him worriedly, walking over to pat his head. His friend looked up at him with huge eyes.
“Why haven’t you ever cooked for me before?” he asked, with such a petulant, plaintive voice that Stiles snorted. “I’m your best friend!” Stiles rolled his eyes.
“Dude,” he said giving his friend an amused look. “Whenever you spent the night, we gorged on store-bought cookies, candy, popcorn, and ordered-out fast-food. So sorry that you’d rather have pizza in fifteen minutes then wait an hour for a decent meal, but, hey, I’m not going to work just so you can complain.” He sniffed slightly, and then smirked. “Besides. I like pizza, and fast-food, and stuff that someone else makes. Means I can be lazy for a night.” Scott gaped up at him, and then Stiles shook his head and took what remained of the food, putting it into little Tupperware containers for later (they’d probably disappear into his Dad’s breakfast/Lunch tomorrow, anyways, so no waste…). Before he could do more than reach for the dirty dishes, though, Derek had grabbed his wrists with a stern look, and shook his head, before glaring at the pack.
“Jackson, Scott, Danny, go clean the wreck you left of the living room,” he ordered, baring a bit of fang and eyes flashing red when Jackson complained. “Now.” They scrambled out. “Lydia, Allison, do the dirty dishes. No complaints,” he snarled at Lydia; she huffed, pouting, but obeyed, and Allison sent Stiles a warm smile as she went as well, not at all bothered. The boy turned a disgruntled look up to the Alpha.
“I could do that,” he complained, sulking. “I do it all the time anyways, a few extra dishes and a little extra mess isn’t that bad!” Derek gave him a stern look, and now Stiles huffed, tossing his hands in the air. “Fine, have it your way Mister Sourwolf,” he snapped, pouting, but then started moving the extra chairs back to the closet, getting one there, and turning to get another…
Only to find Derek right behind him with the rest.
“Gah!” He yelped, jumping slightly, hand on his heart. He glowered up at the Alpha, who arched an eyebrow and brushed past him to put the chairs away. “Damn bossy wolves,” Stiles muttered, knowing perfectly well that the other could hear him, and padded swiftly out of arms reach when Derek gave a low, quiet growl. He straightened the cloth on the table, noting that it would have to be switched with a new one in the morning before he left for school, and then he got a broom and started sweeping around and under the table, ignoring Derek when he noticed the Alpha’s narrowed eyes.
“You are not throwing off my entire routine,” he informed the older man with a sort of calm, idle threat in his voice, the same tone he’d used on Jackson earlier when talking about eviscerating him. “I have to do certain things, especially in my kitchen. And I will do them,” he said, eyes narrowing dangerously, and Derek stared back. After a few minutes, Stiles sniffed at him haughtily and turned back to his sweeping, ignoring the low growl he got.
When everyone left a while later (after watching the movie Tron and generally making fun of to-tight clothes and enjoying it), Stiles once again went over what everyone did for the Pack…
And decided that, if nothing else, he could cook, and possibly clean for them. After all, he did that for his Dad, and the Pack was his family…
Satisfied, he grabbed himself one last piece of fudge, and then headed for bed.