Okay, so technically Stiles isn't supposed to wander around in the woods at night.
He ducks under a low-hanging branch and past the tree line anyway because, well, his father hadn't explicitly forbidden him from doing this. He'd just gritted, "Get out of here, Stiles," when he'd caught Stiles and Scott sneaking around a murder scene well after midnight, and that could've meant a lot of things.
It could've meant don't poke your nose into my crime scenes or it could've meant don't poke your nose into this particular crime scene or it could've meant get out of the woods tonight but feel free to come back on some other night, when the police haven't just found a body lying in a ditch. Creative interpretation happens to be one of Stiles' special talents.
"Like there's anything dangerous in Beacon Hills Preserve. Hah," says Stiles to himself, as he folds his t-shirt and jeans and boxers and tucks them into his favorite hollow tree.
Mostly he calls up Scott to meander around the preserve with him in search of evidence, or dead bodies, or just something more fun than lying in bed tossing and turning, since Scott's up for just about anything. Plus, Scott's one of the only people who knows the Stilinski family secret, and when Stiles had told him Scott had laughed until he'd cried. "Not cool, dude," Stiles had told him severely, toeing him in the ribs as Scott had rolled around on the floor.
Failboat of a friend or no, Scott's still Stiles' best choice for the other half of his nighttime investigation squad. "Or was," Stiles mutters, picking his way through the underbrush. "I notice he doesn't call me when he's investigating the inside of Allison's pants."
He shudders a second later. No, he'd rather not be privy to Scott and Allison's thorough examinations of each other's tonsils, thanks all the same.
Stiles stops and looks around, his nose twitching a little. There's been a rash of killings lately, but they don't exactly fall under the sheriff's jurisdiction, so Stiles feels it's his duty to seek justice for his brethren. Even if they do tend to decimate the tastiest clover patches.
The change ripples through his body, and the forest floor greets him on the way down. Stiles' skin shifts into a sleek pelt, his eyes turn small and bright, and his hands shrink as his feet lengthen. His vision fades to shades of gray and green, colors that brighten whenever something moves in his peripheral vision, a kind of spidey sense he's got in this form. The woodsy smell hits his twitchy nose in a rush, and Stiles can't suppress a kick-flail of glee, which could be mistaken for a death spasm in any creature other than a rabbit.
He reminds himself that he's got work to do, and sort of calms down. With a powerful push of his hind legs, Stiles hops deeper into the preserve, scenting the air ahead of him before every leap.
Stiles isn't too concerned about whatever's been slaying his fellow Leporidae. Werebunnies have better senses, reflexes, and strength than their mundane counterparts, and also they're about a hundred times cooler, as Stiles insists to Scott whenever Scott cracks up about it again.
He breathes in the night air, and forges onward, boldly going where no wererabbit has gone before, except possibly his father. Or himself, with Scott, one of those nights before Allison had taken over Scott's one functional brain cell. Whatever.
Since he has no idea where he's going or what he's looking for, Stiles hops down to the stream in a haphazard fashion, combing back and forth through the trees.They're less of an aggravation when he's in rabbit form, since the branches fly by above his head instead of whapping him right in the face.
A million different smells criss-cross at the stream bank: the deer who drink here and crap nearby; a skunk whose stench makes Stiles' nose wrinkle; probably some raccoons or opossums or just a couple littering drunks, because that garbage smell sure doesn't belong in the preserve.
He drinks for a second from the burbling stream, and then his head goes up, all his bunny senses on high alert.
There's another scent that he's picked up on a couple times before, but never followed the trail because even Stiles isn't curious enough to fight the rabbit instincts that tell him finding whatever's at the end of that yellow brick road would be tantamount to committing suicide. It also intrigues him in a belly-churning, nerve-tingling kind of way.
Stiles tries not to think much about it, because then his lie that there's nothing dangerous in the preserve wouldn't bolster his courage anymore. That smell's faint today, though, while the unnerving taste in the water had been pretty strong.
Blood. Something's bleeding upstream. Stiles hacks, a sort of rabbit cough that sends his entire body into a spasm, since, really, he's not a fan of blood and especially not a fan of drinking it. Besides, who knows what kinds of STDs the bunnies around here are carrying? This spring he'd been propositioned by about five of them, which, yes, had amused Scott way too much, particularly when one of Stiles' would-be suitors had continued humping his foot after Stiles had shifted indignantly back into human form.
His curiosity does overwhelm his rabbit's insistence on hopping away from the source of any blood, just in case whatever had caused the bleeding happens to be hanging around. Stiles ignores the blaring alarm in his head and takes cautious hops toward the smell he can pick up in the air now.
Oh, man. If rabbits could grimace, Stiles would be right now. Somebody, or something, had deposited the half-eaten carcass of a wild rabbit right in the stream. At least it's the back half, though he's not sure why or how that helps, apart from the fact that he doesn't have to stare into the dead rabbit's poor, pathetic, beady dead eyes.
Now he's even more inclined to puke up the water, if rabbit stomachs were designed to throw up without actually bursting first. Dude, he thinks as he regards the body, that's not even sanitary.
So Stiles takes a minute to shove the carcass gingerly onto the rocky bank. Doing his part for the environment, that's Stiles. Preventing a massive dysentery outbreak among the innocent woodland creatures who drink from this stream and the river it joins up with. That's if animals other than humans can catch dysentery, of course. One hundred percent of Stiles' knowledge on the subject comes from playing Oregon Trail, which hadn't been real renowned for its medical accuracy.
It's hard to tell under all the blood, and with a lot of the scent washed away, but Stiles thinks he catches an almost-familiar smell on his fallen comrade. He inhales even though he doesn't want to. Yep, the smell reminds him of a skunk, but different, and of that one sharp, dangerous scent, but not quite identical to that one, either.
His rabbit brain's freaking out a second before Stiles catches a movement in the broad range of his peripheral vision.
That's a tail. A gray tail tipped in white and boy, do Stiles' instincts ever know what that means.
The fox plunges out of the underbrush just as Stiles bolts in the opposite direction, his ears pinned back in sheer terror. It's worse when he's a rabbit because he usually deals with horrifying experiences by babbling to himself and/or Scott and burying the fear under enough sarcasm to hold back an army, and wait a minute, why isn't he just shifting back?
Stiles flails his way up out of his rabbit form and collides immediately with a branch. "Oh, ow, that was so not a good idea. Stop first, then shift," he berates himself, rubbing his bruised chin.
He takes a look back over his shoulder, and huh, the fox has stopped maybe twenty feet away instead of spinning around and legging it, the way most wild animals do when a harmless rabbit morphs into a gigantic naked ape. Stiles squints through the trees.
The fox- yes, no, Stiles blinks again and it's still changing shape. He wrinkles his nose. He'd always wondered what he looked like in mid-transformation, and had regretted hopping onto the bathroom counter so he could have a look-see in the mirror.
A human shape unfurls from what had once been a fox - red, not gray, but that's what Stiles gets for turning into an animal who doesn't have to distinguish between anything except 'green' and 'everything else. He startles when the guy calls through the trees, "Watch it, Stilinski!"
And, whoa, that's so not okay. Jackson, Jackson freaking Whittemore from the school lacrosse team, one of the last people Stiles would ever want knowing that he's a wererabbit, is a werefox.
"Okay? What exactly am I supposed to be watching?" Stiles mouth calls helpfully back for him. "I mean, it's not like either of us are dressed here and no offense, but you're not really my type-"
Jackson comes crashing toward him with a bellow of outrage, and Stiles clamps his mouth shut and bolts out of there.
Great. Just great. Not only is there a rabbit-murdering fox prancing around in Stiles' preserve, but it's Jackson, who's a complete dick and, not so incidentally, can beat up Stiles' human form just as easily as the fox could maul Stiles as a rabbit.
Turning bad to worse, Stiles makes it out of the preserve, still naked with the clothes he'd grabbed out of their tree tucked under his arm, and finds his dad standing outside the house with his arms folded across his chest, his no-nonsense pose, which never means good things for Stiles because he's always full of nonsense just waiting to pop out. "Dad, hey!" Stiles greets him. "It's a funny story, and you're going to laugh when you hear it-"
"In the house, Stiles," his dad orders.
So okay, now Stiles has been explicitly forbidden to sneak into the preserve after dark.
Not only that, but his father hadn't been concerned enough about Jackson the Homicidal Werefox when Stiles had babbled out the story to him. "There's worse in that preserve," he'd told Stiles with a grim frown. "Tell the Whittemore boy to stay out, too." Stiles means to, he does, but then Jackson keeps snapping his teeth at Stiles in the locker room and the warning slips Stiles' mind, somehow.
Still, he's not going to let Jackson scare him out of his own forest at night, and besides, Stiles desperately needs to know how and why Jackson had become a werefox. No sane universe could have let that happen, whether Jackson had been turned or born that way due to some weird quirk of genetics like Stiles.
He tells his dad he's sleeping over at Scott's, which earns him a warning look over the top of the newspaper. "Stiles..."
"You can call his mom. We've been planning it for days," says Stiles. "Come on, Dad, would this face ever tell you a blatant untruth?"
He holds his innocent expression while his father raises an eyebrow higher and higher, until Stiles feels certain it's going to merge with his hair and the sheriff is going to have to explain to the entire department that his lack of faith in his son had led him to lose one brow in a tragic incident that was in no way Stiles' fault. "Yes," says his father, finally. "I'll call."
And he does, after Stiles is already there, holed up in Scott's room, spinning out the Jackson story for him. Scott doesn't seem that interested, since he keeps texting Allison with the dopiest grin ever on his face, then has the gall to claim that he's listening.
"Stiles!" Mrs. McCall knocks at the door. Stiles cuts off in the middle of his hilarious, harrowing anecdote. "It's your father."
"Hey, Dad!" Stiles hollers, loud enough to be heard on the other end of the line.
Scott looks up from his phone. "Dude, keep it down," he says, still grinning like an idiot.
"Dude," says Stiles, wounded, but at least Scott's providing his alibi for the evening. He'd wanted Scott with him in the preserve - despite Scott's tendency to distraction, his habit of cackling at Stiles' bunny form, and his absolute lack of stealth - but Scott's using him as an alibi, too, so he can sneak out of the house and play hide the sausage with Allison again. Apparently Mrs. McCall had found several empty boxes of condoms and some wrappers in Scott's room, because Scott is a slob, and now Scott and Allison are sort of on relationship probation.
They're worse than rabbits, Stiles thinks darkly, as he heads for the tree line. "They are," he says aloud, stripping down again. "Not like this rabbit here is even getting any-" Even though he's been interested before, in Lydia for a long time and Danny recently. "-since everyone's way out of my league, apparently," he grumbles. "I'm reliable. Good ol' reliable, platonic friend Stiles. Or reliable, dirt-under-her-shoe Stiles, in Lydia's case."
Something rustles, ahead in the woods. Stiles stops and looks, brow furrowing, but he doesn't see a thing even when he focuses and uses his bunny-vision.
"Huh." He breathes out a huff. "Not like I want to turn into Scott and Allison, anyway. They could've come out to help good ol' Stiles find out why Jackson's being more of a freak than usual, but no. See if I tell him anything after this, even if I find something awesome."
He's still muttering complaints as he shrinks down to bunny size.
The wind's blowing toward him, and that's good. Stiles stands up on his hind legs, nose twitching. He catches that dangerous scent and his stomach performs a sort of flip-flop. His rabbit senses don't like that at all, but his human side is newly fascinated. This scent doesn't come to the edge of the preserve too often. Usually he picks up the smell deep in the woods, like there's some kind of ancient forest spirit living in there who won't venture too close to the domain of men, or something.
Yeah, he's been playing too much EverQuest. Stiles sniffs again, and makes his cautious way through the trees even if his instincts want him to bolt right back out of there.
The scent's not too strong, not like anything's actually there, just spread around like something had been pacing back and forth along the tree line earlier. Stiles can't smell Jackson or fox, either, so that's a plus.
He glances up at the moon that's been waxing toward full all week. Werebunnies - rabbits, Stiles corrects himself; 'bunny' makes him sound like he's leapt straight from the Bambi cartoon - feel the same pull werewolves supposedly do, though the full moon enhances the rabbitlike side of Stiles' nature instead of any suppressed killer instincts. Basically it makes him jumpy and horny, which he'll never tell Scott, ever, not even with a gun to his head, a situation Stiles hopes to avoid for the rest of his natural life anyway.
But the moon's not completely round, not yet, so Stiles gets ahold of himself. This time he knows more or less what he's looking for, though what he'll do if he finds Jackson again is a mystery, and not one Stiles cares to contemplate too closely. He'll cross that bridge when he comes to it, although given the circumstances he might have to build the bridge, first, and then run for his life across it.
Gathering his determination around him like a cloak of +10 defense, Stiles combs methodically through the preserve. He hops up and down the length of the stream, first, and finds nothing but a slight, disturbing trace of blood on the rocks where he'd nudged the half-a-bunny.
He finds more of that strange scent, too, the one that makes his rabbit heart drum in his chest, faster than it beats normally, which is quite the feat considering a bunny's heart beats between one hundred and thirty and three hundred and twenty five times a minute. Stiles had looked it up and felt like he was having a heart attack in rabbit form for a week afterward. It's okay as long as he doesn't think about it.
It wouldn't bother him so much - he's gotten used to the idea of a semi-benevolent, possible god-of-the-forest skulking around - except that the trail follows the exact route Stiles had taken upstream. He turns his head. And, yep, it continues along his headlong flight away from Fox Jackson, which just isn't fair, by the way, it sounds like a porn star name, which Bunny Stiles definitely does not, unless Playboy Bunnies count.
Stiles decides, with another huff, that they don't.
He cuts deliberately away from the track laid down by Mr. Dangerous Yet Exciting, who he's decided must be a 'Mr.' based on weird instinct alone, and proceeds along another diagonal cut through the woods.
Jackson wouldn't kill him, right? Stiles starts to ponder that question as he ventures deeper into the slightly menacing darkness. Well, as a rabbit, maybe, since no one but his dad and Scott would realize, but not as a human. Stiles is sure of that. Well, ninety-five percent sure. At least eighty. He amends this to seventy-five when he remembers he's not exactly a valuable asset to the lacrosse team yet. He'll blossom as a sportsman eventually, and to his credit, he's really, really good at leaping out of the other team's way.
Once he's hopped what has to be like ten miles, diverting a little from his planned path due to an unexpected run-in with the skunk, Stiles' anxiety fades. Jackson must not even be out here tonight committing his bunny genocide, or whatever he's doing, and Stiles hasn't heard the sirens or heavy footsteps that would indicate a more human brand of murder. And Stiles, frankly, isn't the king of concentration, between the rabbit-brain and the ADHD, which doesn't seem to help his rabbit's instinctive twitchiness.
So when his nostrils flare with the scent of clover, Stiles perks right up. Thank you, Jackson, he thinks absently, with a touch of guilt. The fact that the wild rabbits demolish like every good patch of greenery in the preserve doesn't mean it's right to, you know, kill them and eat them for a 3AM snack like a Taco Bell burrito with extra gruesome on the side.
That doesn't change his opinion on the clover, which Stiles finds in one of the meadow areas, buried among some nice tall grass that'll rustle all over the place if trouble approaches.
The clover never stands a chance. Stiles pounces on the little patch like he's greeting a long lost friend, then gets to work devouring it, which is where the friend analogy falls apart.
Rabbits don't really nibble. They're more like small, furry vacuum cleaners with a preference for the local flora. Stiles can suck up a whole clover plant and nip the leaves apart in his mouth, then grind them all up in a way that would be profoundly unsettling to anyone who views bunnies as adorable and helpless. That can't even compare to the downright vicious way he goes after the delicious, amazing clover flowers, whose taste and texture he'd once rhapsodized over to Scott, who had snickered for seventeen minutes until Stiles had kicked him in the shin.
For some reason Scott's allowed to warble about Allison all over the place, and Stiles can't even get in a good monologue about clover? There's no justice.
Right now he's in rabbit heaven anyway. Once he's finished most of the leaves, Stiles hops straight in the air, then flops down on his side and kicks a few times for good measure.
He's not going to sleep, of course not, except that his eyes feel like two miniature copies of Mjolnir, and he's so stuffed his sides puff out attractively. No wonder he can't get a date.
To his credit, he just drops into a light doze rather than conking all the way out. He thinks he dreams about that scent, even sharper in his nose as he's nudged, gently. Then someone snorts and Stiles kicks his legs drowsily, because hey, he gets enough people laughing at him in his human life. He doesn't need them stalking him into the middle of the woods to repeat the experience.
He loses track of his surroundings for a while after that. Then, apropos of nothing, a yelp rouses him. A yelp that sounds awfully like a fox, awfully near his head.
Stiles snaps awake with a leap straight into the air. His feet take charge while his brain's still in a state of uh, buh, wha? and he's twenty leaps away before his need to know overrides the adrenaline.
He skids to a halt and whips around. Yips ring out behind him, snarls, and whoa. Stiles' eyes go round as dinner plates. There's Jackson, sure, shifted back up to human form, but there's another guy, too. Dark-haired, naked, and built like a Calvin Klein model, which Stiles notices when his treacherous gaze, which had avoided the sight of Jackson's junk like it'd give him chlamydia, meanders down to some damn fine pectorals and abs.
Also, the guy has got Jackson by the scruff of his neck, shaking him as Jackson squalls. That sure earns him a point in Stiles' book.
The other guy raises his head. Stiles freezes.
His eyes glow, like a cat's reflected in the headlights of Stiles' Jeep, and oh wow, Stiles should be used to supernatural occurences by now, but not wrapped up in an Adonis-shaped, personal bodyguard kind of package. Not staring right at him, either, like Tall Dark and Sexy knows he's not just any rabbit.
Somebody makes an embarrassing grunting squeaky sound, and hey, that's him. The smell that makes Stiles' heart beat a million miles a second has reached his nose. It's not from Jackson. It's strong, and dark, and dangerous, and the human side of Stiles kind of wants to snort it like crack.
Jackson whimpers, and that right there? That's Stiles' cue to hightail it off the preserve as fast as his bunny legs can carry him, even though his human brain wants a) to stay and watch Jackson get clobbered and b) to become better acquainted with Abs'N'Pecs'R'Us and his personal brand of cologne over there. No one chases after him, and that's good, right? Right, Stiles tells himself, and then firmly instructs himself to stop freaking out. He doesn't listen.
His freakout, unfortunately, means he ends up exiting the preserve right behind his house, where his clothes aren't and his dad is. Not only that, but he forgets this crucial information until he's banging through the back door, stark naked.
"Stiles?" his father bellows from upstairs. His dad always knows.
Stiles skids to a stop. "Just a burglar, it's fine, go back to sleep!" he hollers back. His dad, predictably, doesn't.
So, okay, he's absolutely banned from entering the preserve on his own at all, ever, and he's basically under house arrest. All that and Stiles hadn't even mentioned his encounter with Jackson and his possible hormone-induced hallucination.
Jackson shows up at school the next day, looking too moody to answer any of the questions bubbling around in Stiles' head. Stiles makes a game effort to ask them anyway. He corners Jackson in the men's bathroom on the second floor, and Jackson's eyes widen in... what is that? Fear? the second he spies Stiles in the mirror.
Stiles' first instinct is to congratulate himself on finally earning his first Intimidation Badge, but a flashback to last night's reality intrudes.
"So, Jackson," says Stiles brightly.
Jackson whirls around. "Hey." He glares at Stiles now, but makes no move to shove him out of the way, which would be Jackson's usual reaction to Stiles addressing him in the bathroom. Odd, that. "Look, I'll leave you alone, okay?"
"Believe me, I'm glad to hear that," Stiles replies, heartfelt. "You have no idea. Most days I'd throw a party celebrating the fact that you plan to leave me alone, but today I actually-"
As he edges past Stiles, Jackson shakes his head hard. He looks like he's about to open his mouth and say something, possibly - and this is on the very edge of the realm of possibility, right there with the chances that Scott will make an intelligent observation - even something useful, but then his mouth snaps shut and he scampers out the door.
Well. That's new. Stiles can't even say it's unwelcome, except that Jackson's the only person who can confirm or deny whatever Stiles had seen.
But Jackson takes pains to avoid him that day and the next, and then it's Saturday and the night of the full moon. No school, no lacrosse practice, just an early fall moon and a restless feeling that's compounded for Stiles by the mystery he's still trying to untangle. He swears he catches a whiff of that scent out his bedroom window, which faces the preserve, and something twists low in his belly, something he can't explain except that it makes him jerk back from the window with half a hard-on.
Not exactly unusual on full moon day, Stiles has got to admit.
You busy? he texts Scott, to whom he hasn't confided the whole story either. Stiles doubts his words will reach Planet Allison anyway.
w/Alison rn Scott texts back, not so promptly. Stiles had been grinding his teeth and spinning in his desk chair, abandoned, friendless, and other adjectives that feed his self-pity.
"So, you know," Stiles tries his dad, over a dinner of fresh greenery. The full moon has an effect on both of them, although Stiles has been making a heroic effort to make his dad eat healthy all month.
"No, Stiles, you're not going out tonight." His father eyes him. "I told you. There's worse things in that preserve than you understand."
"Da-ad," Stiles whines. "I haven't gone out at the full moon in, like, forever. It's been literally an eternity."
"Then waiting one more night while you're grounded won't make a difference," says his father implacably.
Stiles chews on his lettuce as though he's got a personal vendetta against it. He just wants to see. Is that such a crime? "How can you punish me for my naturally inquisitive mind?" Stiles presses on. "If you'd just tell me what's so terrible out there, my curiosity might be sated and we could put this whole thing to rest."
His dad gives him The Look, the one that means this conversation's going nowhere and Stiles had better shut his trap before he's grounded for another week. "So," says Stiles, because sometimes he's as huge an idiot as Scott. "What is it? The Big Bad Wolf or something?" He laughs. His father doesn't.
Since the Big Bad Wolf can't really be living in Beacon Hills Preserve - although Stiles can't stop flashing back to that night, that scent, Jackson's flicker of fear, those eyes - he sneaks out again.
He'd had another ace up his sleeve, as usual when he's in a tight spot, and that's his dad's sleeping habits. The full moon makes Stiles twitchy, but it makes his father eat salad like a pig, clean up every inch of the house he can reach, then sleep like a log. Stiles does not understand for the life of him how his father can sleep through the weird swirling belly and the urge to run, if his dad even feels those things at all. Maybe it's a weird combination of wererabbit plus ADHD again. It's worse than ever today, too, nagging at him all evening whenever he so much as glances at the trees.
His dad's taken the precaution of sleeping on the couch, so Stiles slips out the window. Not his own window, either, since he'd be dropping down right outside the living room; he does the window in the bathroom at the end of the hall instead, climbs out on the lower part of the roof, and lands nimbly on his feet by the kitchen.
Tonight he hasn't bothered with clothing at all, beyond loose boxers borrowed from his dad's clean laundry. Fabric's constricting on full moon night, despite Stiles' customary more-or-less modesty.
He shucks the boxers and folds them up near the base of a different tree. The wind tickles through his close-cut hair, and Stiles breathes it in before shifting.
Once he'd tried to explain to Scott that even though he shrinks when he transforms, it's like the world opens up huge in front of him, and all around him, really, since rabbits have amazing peripheral vision. Scott had stared at him blankly, then given him a "Sure, man." Scott knows nothing. Poor, disadvantaged, fully human Scott.
Stiles forgets any potential dangers lurking in the woods the instant he goes full bunny. He performs a kicking leap, twisting around in the air and landing back on his feet. He runs like a mad thing and if he was still human he'd be whooping with joy.
It feels good, giving in to the moon's call, or something poetic like that. Everything's been pent up in Stiles all month, because last full moon he'd had a chem test to study for and he'd put in a Herculean effort to obey his dad's mandate not to leave the house, anyway. He gets antsy.
Now he can literally stop short, take a second to sniff around, and then bounce off a couple trees on his way deeper into the preserve. How awesome is that? Stiles feels certain that he looks like The Bunny Flash while he's doing it, although Scott says he looks more like a house pet on speed.
No more mauled rabbits, the thought floats idly through Stiles' head. Not since Mr. Hottiegod of the Forest had caught up with Jackson, which must have happened, because seriously, nothing Stiles could ever do would strike that level of fear into Jackson's possibly-nonexistent heart.
Both he and his rabbit side feel sort of good about that, protected. Stiles does another spastic hop straight into the air, then digs at the ground like it's going out of style, just because he feels like it.
For some reason, tonight running's not untangling that little knot of restlessness deep in Stiles' bunny chest. He gives hollowing out a shallow, crappy burrow a shot, between the roots of a sprawling oak tree. That doesn't help. He tries bouncing between roots, improvising rules as he goes as though he's a contestant on a Japanese game show.
All right, well, maybe he needs more purpose to his wanderings in order to satisfy his brain and his instincts at the same time. Stiles nibbles a patch of grass thoughtfully and sets off, determined to solve one of his existing mysteries or to stumble over a new one.
Near the stream, he sniffs the ground, twitching his nose. The scent of another rabbit sparks a touch of interest that belongs to Stiles' bunny form, not to Stiles himself.
He dismisses that and finds himself strolling - hopping, but it's the wererabbit equivalent of a jaunty stroll - about in the direction of the clover he'd so delightedly happened upon the other night. Nothing beats a stomach so full, he's like a rabbit balloon full of greenery instead of helium.
That patch hasn't replenished itself, of course, but Stiles combs through the rest of the high grass with patience that's unusual for him. It's his new mission in life to locate more clover, he tells himself, although his belly's not grumbling and dinner had actually stuffed him pretty well. Stiles reminds himself that bunnies can always eat. It's like their most important life's goal, apart from humping other rabbits and all right, whoa, that's not happening no matter how far his instincts - among other things - had perked up at the idea.
Great. Stiles berates himself. It's not even mating season anymore, and Stiles is so not sinking to that level to get laid. He doesn't need half-were babies running around all over the place, raising some very weird questions for his dad; nor does he need some male rabbit going nuts all over his back end. Stiles had seen a pair going at it once. He does not need to experience that.
He's thinking so hard about not thinking about it that he almost collides with Fox Jackson.
Jackson's eyes go enormous. He lets out a high-pitched whine that hurts Stiles' ears and then, before Stiles can take off, a growl rumbles through his bones.
It's not from Jackson, who's out of there like his tail's on fire, yelping all the way.
Stiles freezes. The dangerous scent washes over him and he knows he should run, but his legs have locked up with fear. Okay, he tells himself silently. There's nothing that bad in the preserve, that's just an old car engine or something, or, yeah, an angry real fox mad at Jackson for ruining its rep.
He starts creeping backwards. Rabbit Stiles, casually making his way out of the grass, away from the nothing-horrifying that's absolutely not nearby.
A head that's, yeah, about the size of a Volkswagon - a small one, okay, or one of those tiny, environmentally conscious cars, but the point is Bunny Stiles could hop into that thing and go for a drive down its digestive tract - pushes out of the tall grass. The smell floods everywhere now, musky and distinct, hell, they could use that as a men's cologne instead of whatever weird yak hormones they're using now.
Stiles' eyes widen until the whites of them can probably be seen by the scientists monitoring the Curiosity rover. He bolts.
Forget stealth, man, he's about as sneaky as Scott right now, crashing through the underbrush in a blind panic. Behind him, something larger - the Big Bad Wolf for crying out loud, no kidding - crashes after him and manages, unfairly, to make less noise than Stiles does.
He feints left and dodges right, his heart beating definitely faster than the recommended two hundred and thirty maximum for a rabbit. Well, all right, he corrects himself through the fog of rabbity fear, he's not actually counting his heartbeats but he's sure the Beacon Hills vet would agree with his assessment if the man made house calls to the forest in the middle of the-
Stiles goes head over huge bunny heels, scrambling to a halt. There's the wolf right in front of them, with those eyes that glow in the moonlight that filters down through the trees.
Now, yes, now he's experiencing a coronary event for real. Stiles shoots off in a random direction, and for one glorious second he thinks he'll make it far enough away that he can continue running for his miserable life.
Then a heavy weight comes down on him, bowling him onto his back, then his belly, then onto his back again. The sharp scent is all around him. Stiles doesn't let out a bunny scream of terror because no way he's dying a wuss, but at this point he's one hundred and ten percent sure that he's going to be feeling huge, gleaming, Crest-White-Strips-white teeth sinking into his unprotected stomach or throat in a minute.
He wonders, dimly, which one would be preferable because he can't turn his brain off even when he's about to die.
A huge paw's pinning him down like a freaking boulder, it's that enormous. He drags in long breaths of the wolf-smell and squeezes his eyes shut, trembling all over and praying to any deities who might judge him in the afterlife that he won't be penalized for torrenting every season of Buffy the other day.
The paw loosens up and pokes at him, surprisingly, without claws involved.
Stiles squeaks in distress. Throat first, he starts thinking hard at the wolf. Throat first, oh god, he doesn't want to watch somebody eat his intestines like that raptor with the guy from Jurassic Park. He kicks convulsively out with his back feet and makes contact with what feels like a nose.
The wolf lets up on him even more. Stiles congratulates himself on a job well done, although the kick clearly hadn't accomplished much except to make the wolf angry. Angrier.
Above him, the wolf shifts. Stiles doesn't think much about it except that his demise must be imminent, until the paw on his chest starts to change. "Shift back," a gruff voice orders him.
Surprise must be the only method that can effectively inspire obedience in Stiles, because he does shift back. Not all the way; it's the full moon, and the rabbit's still enough in charge that he can feel the silky ears on either side of his head.
Slowly, Stiles opens his eyes. The smooth, human hand on his sternum flexes. He gasps and meets a pair of blue eyes way too close to his. He looks up, at a pair of furry wolf ears that have lingered like his soft rabbit ones. And then his gaze trails down to the body that's suddenly not close enough.
"W-wow," Stiles stammers out. "This looks even better up close. You. You look better up close, that's what I meant, not any particular part of you, more the sum of the parts because the whole's even greater, if you get what I'm saying. You're a werewolf? In Beacon Hills Preserve? Really?"
Dolce & Gabbana Advertisement Escapee stares down at him, and snorts.
"Hey!" Stiles protests, indignant. "Are you kidding? Are you laughing at me?"
The guy dips down, even more up in Stiles' personal bubble. He shows his teeth in a sharp grin, and Stiles can't breathe for a second. "No," he informs Stiles.
"N-n-no?" Stiles asks weakly. His eyes perform another downward meander, completely without permission, by the way, stupid treacherous eyes. When the werewolf guy makes a low sound Stiles jerks his gaze back up, licking his tingling lips. "No, uh, what?"
"No, I wasn't laughing at you," the werewolf tells him.
"Really? Because, I mean, let's be real, dude, look at you and look at me, and you're the kind of guy who sort of has every right to laugh at me instead of, uh, licking me?" Stiles' voice trails into a shocked whimper as the werewolf's tongue drags over his collarbone. That move has a direct line to his dick, no directory assistance necessary.
The werewolf glances back up at him and holy shit, his blue eyes shine in the moonlight but they've also gone darker, like licking Stiles had turned him on or something. "You'd rather I laughed at you?"
"Uh. Uh, no," Stiles squeaks. "I didn't actually- no. Uh, you're not going to eat me now, right?" and oh, man, the word 'eat' brings up a whole new train of thought with Sexywolf's eyes fixed on him like Stiles is the last decent carrot on the salad bar.
That earns him another toothy grin that makes Stiles shiver, like a whole-body shiver he can't even come close to controlling.
"I'm still thinking about it." Oh, that's not fair. The guy's a werewolf, but he can purr the words.
Stiles gulps. He doesn't have to go rummaging in his head for something to say in reply, because as always, he's got something plowing out of his mouth already. "Um, so." He drags in a breath and feels lightheaded. Holy crap. The guy smells even better as a human, like sweat and fresh grass and abs, because abs have to smell like something, right? Sure. "So, um, have you been stalking me or something? Because that's cool in Twilight, or no, not cool since it's seriously creepy in real life."
He's just called Hottie McWerewolf creepy. That's wonderful.
The guy tips his head at Stiles. "Only in here. The forest is dangerous."
"Uh?" Stiles gapes up at him. "For- look, I don't think there's anything more dangerous than you in here. You've already exceeded the preserve's peril quotient, I think, and probably the pectoral quotient, too. Although Jackson somehow fit in here, too, and he's got okay-" He wrinkles his nose. Nope. Shirtless Jackson Whittemore doesn't appeal to him in any way, shape or form, no matter how ripped he might be. On his best day Jackson can't hold a candle to the muscles braced over Stiles right now.
"Jackson?" the werewolf asks him.
"Uh, Jackson, yeah." Stiles squirms. He's naked. Very, very naked, under a very, very attractive man whose sweat-smell alone makes Stiles' dick jump. He's even more restless now, too, and is starting to have an awful suspicion about what he's been craving. "The, you know, the fox you just chased away?"
The werewolf's expression darkens. "He's an idiot."
"Yes! Wow, yes, we definitely have something in common there. We both think Jackson's an idiot, although anybody with two brain cells- uh." Stiles cuts off with another embarrassing squeak as the werewolf's hot breath gusts over his lips. "I'm, uh, Stiles, by the way."
"I know. The sheriff's son," the guy breathes. Stiles presses his thighs together hard even though that will in no way conceal his hardon when he's right under a guy - and that thought helps even less - who probably has an amazing sense of smell. "Derek," the werewolf adds.
"N-no, it's Stiles- oh, duh, that's you." Stiles doesn't quite know what to do with his hands. They're hovering at his sides, half open like he wants to go in for a pec grab, which he doesn't, except, yes, he really does. "Derek. Okay. Why did you- you saved me from Jackson the other day, too, not that I couldn't take care of him by myself. I do all the time at school, for a certain value of 'take care of'-"
Derek's biceps ripple as he shifts onto one arm, and strokes one of Stiles' velvety ears between his thumb and forefinger. "Buh," Stiles concludes intelligently, shivering again and arching off the ground.
"You're very talkative," Derek remarks.
Stiles blinks at him. "Do I? Oh. Yeah. Best and worst character trait at the same time, I've always thought," he begins, before Derek's holy shit that's his mouth closes on Stiles'.
He's never been kissed before. Not like this, not with Derek's open mouth slanted against his, and Derek's tongue moving against his in rough, commanding drags, and Derek's teeth on his wet lips. Stiles does grip Derek's pectorals at this point, his hands spread over them as he whines into the kiss. Derek's dark nipples are hard little peaks under his palms, but come on, that's got to be a result of the cool forest air, nothing to do with Stiles, of all people.
Stiles tries petting one, and hallelujah, Derek grunts and bites his lip again, the nipple tightening even more. That, yes, that had been all Stiles' doing. He can't help but feel incredibly smug here, knowing that he, Stiles, had elicited that kind of reaction from somebody like Derek.
No. From Derek. That's important, Stiles isn't sure why, but he wouldn't let just anyone kiss into his mouth like this, licking at every inch of him.
He runs his hands down Derek's sides, because that feels good, never mind, it feels amazing as Derek flexes into his fingers. Stiles can barely reach Derek's hips but he manages, cupping his hands over the points of them, his thumbs against the little grooves that lead down to Derek's groin. When he feels those, he moans, a noise that vibrates through him and probably through Derek too.
His jaw goes slack as Derek growls and lowers his weight onto Stiles, and holy shit yes this is what Stiles has been waiting for his entire life. He whimpers and wiggles frantically upward until his cock rubs against Derek's thigh, and Derek's presses to his belly. "Oh, okay, I could use more of that right now, if not sooner," Stiles pants, deliriously happily, into the kiss. "Except-"
Stiles has to wriggle for a different reason. The twig under his back hadn't been so obtrusive until he'd had, what, two hundred pounds of muscle-bound werewolf on top of him. "There's a stick trying to stab me in the kidneys, Derek," he complains, because the stick threatens to ruin his best - and so far, only - sexual experience and that's just not on.
"Hm," says Derek, and Stiles pouts up at him until Derek wraps an arm around him and lifts.
"That," says Stiles weakly, as Derek bodily shifts him to a softer patch of ground. "That's, okay, that's unbearably hot, please either don't do that again or do it as often as you want to. Definitely the latter. Absolutely. Derek."
Derek's eyes flash at him, literally flash, and then Derek's dipping in for another one of those deep kisses, so hot Stiles could be running a fever and he wouldn't even realize right now. A shuddering moan creeps out of Stiles when Derek's hand closes around his other ear and works it so gently, and Derek's also stroking with the fingertips of his other hand, back and forth over Stiles' left nipple.
Well, the distant thought occurs to Stiles, no wonder his father hadn't wanted him sneaking out to the preserve. Stiles' father had been horrified when he'd found Stiles' box of just-in-case condoms.
Derek slides down his body and closes his mouth around Stiles' right nipple, pinching the left lightly. Stiles gasps like a landed fish, pressing up into Derek's lashing tongue. He grabs at Derek's dark hair. "Derek- D- Derek, it- I can't- I mean, I can, too soon," Stiles wails.
He's rutting without shame, right up against Derek's shapely abs. Every tweak, every lick, makes Stiles' dick throb even more until he's either going to come or explode.
Derek makes another noise like a growl, but breathier. He crawls back up, abandoning Stiles' poor tight nipples to the cool breeze that plays over them. Derek looks, well, drugged out on Stiles, his pupils blown wide enough that there's only a thin ring of blue iris left, under heavy lids. "Stiles," says Derek, and pushes his face into Stiles' neck, inhaling.
Shit. Derek's smelling him. And apparently likes what he picks up, too, because his hips jerk against Stiles'.
"Uh... ah!" Stiles exclaims, arching his head back for Derek's perusal since hey, no harm exposing his throat to a wolf, right? It drives Derek crazy, though, so that's a point in favor. Derek's all over his neck, open mouth, sharp, careful teeth, lips that close and suck over the point where his pulse is pounding faster than a rabbit's. "Derek. Derek, more rubbing, nn," Stiles encourages him.
Derek looks up. "You smell right. You smell like sex," he rasps.
"I feel like sex. And right," Stiles groans inanely, although Derek's comment hadn't been particularly, uh, nane, either. Whatever the opposite of inane might be. He stops thinking about that and spreads his legs, a rather wanton little bunny on the forest floor as Derek ruts hard against him.
Derek's hands wrap around his hips and lift him up to meet those thrusts. Their dicks slide together, Derek hard and leaking precome all over his skin because of Stiles, hah!, and then Derek bites his collarbone and Stiles comes all over both of them, babbling incoherent yet complimentary nonsense about Derek's sexual prowess and general existence.
He stares up as Derek rears over him, cursing, and yanks his cock until he paints Stiles' thighs with sticky streaks of his own. Stiles' dick tries to twitch but nope, it's out for the count, unless Derek's up to waiting ten minutes. Wererabbits recover like, well, rabbits.
"Oh," Stiles says dreamily, when Derek comes back down and wraps an arm around him. "Wow. That might've been the best thing that's ever happened to me. Yeah." He pets Derek's marvelous abs which hey, happen to be coated in his come. "It's this or the third grade spelling bee and there's no real comparison. You think?"
"I truly hope not," Derek replies, and snorts.
"So, why did you go after Jackson, again?" Stiles asks, cuddled up to Derek. They'd just come a third or possibly fourth time, with Derek's hand wrapped around them both. Werewolves don't have to take much recovery time, either, Stiles has learned to his delight.
Derek's stroking Stiles' ears. Stiles loves that. He loves Derek's hands, and Derek's scent, and Derek's dick, and Derek's husky voice. Of course he's not in love with Derek; he'll reserve judgment there because he's not Bella Swan, for crying out loud. But, yes, Stiles has to admit to himself, it could happen.
He wiggles happily. "I mean, aside from saving my uncommonly attractive ass?"
"He was out of control," Derek murmurs. "He'd turned recently. There's no reason for him to poach on my preserve, which he understands now, after our... discussion." He pauses, and Stiles opens his mouth, ready to speak up if Derek doesn't. "Also, to save the rest of you."
Stiles feels the smile against his shorn hair. "Not just your ass," Derek adds.
"Good," Stiles decides. He dozes off because really, how much more trouble could he be in for coming home late when he's already going to smell like werewolf sex?
"We're going out!" Stiles sings, grabbing Derek's hand and towing him over the threshold for a quick kiss. Derek's surprisingly amiable about being manhandled most of the time, probably because he gets his turn when he and Stiles, are, well, doing the horizontal tango. Stiles approves of that selective power transfer also.
His father appears magically at the bottom of the stairs with his arms folded across his chest. "Stiles. It's midnight," he warns. "We've been over this."
"Dad. Seriously. If there's anything scarier than Derek in the preserve, then we're all doomed." Stiles beams over at Derek, who rolls his eyes. "This isn't like Scott. Derek is useful. Derek could take out, like, a whole platoon of serial killers, plus Jackson because Jackson's a loser." A sore loser, too, who scowls every time Derek drops Stiles off at school in his Camaro.
"We-ell," his dad hems and haws, and Stiles squeezes Derek's hand because he's already won.
All right, so, Stiles isn't allowed to wander into the forest except in the company of his werewolf boyfriend, but he can live with that.