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Danny's well aware of how awesome his life is. He gives back when he can—collecting for the food bank around his neighborhood on the second Tuesday of every month, mentoring the second stringers on the lacrosse team, forcing Coach to pick an Angel Tree Child at Christmas, and then there's Jackson.

Jackson hasn't ever been what he wanted everyone to believe he was. Jackson's fragile, he needs support. Danny's there for late night calls and picking up broken glass. He does it out of love, not everyone has Danny's family. Danny's whole family look out for Jackson, his mom always stocking up on Jackson's favorite snacks at Costco and his dad teaching Jackson to (illegally) build a firepit in the backyard to roast a pig.

The thing is, Jackson thinks he's slick. He thinks he can ignore Danny's calls and texts and dodge him in person. The thing about that is that Danny's not a dumb jock. Danny knows Jackson's patterns, and what’s been going on recently isn't the usual self-hating spiral.

Danny considers his options. He talks to his mom about the situation. She's always for going to Jackson's parents, because after all this time she still doesn't accept the reality that not all teenaged boys have heart to hearts with their moms. There’s always Coach. But not really. Danny knows something's sketchy as hell with Stiles and Scott these days, whatever's wrong with Jackson could be related to them (Danny's been suspicious since the Club Incident). Lydia, he wishes that was still an option. He can't do that to her, though.

When Jackson dies, that's a deal breaker.

*

Jackson's story about an epi-pen and the superior skills of the Beacon Hills paramedic squad is so weak Danny actually feels sorry for him having to shill it.

“Epi-pen, huh?”

Jackson doesn't meet his eyes. He rubs the back of his neck. He's one of the worst liars Danny's ever known, even without Danny knowing all of his tells. “They said it was lucky I'm in such good shape.”

“Are you juicing, man?” Danny hasn't seen any needles or needle marks, but what the fuck is going on here?

Jackson looks genuinely shocked. He meets Danny’s eyes finally. “How can you accuse me of that?” He's pissed. So situation normal.

Danny looks away, towards the paused game on the tv. “I had to ask. You're not yourself.”

Jackson barks out a laugh.

Danny can feel the shut down like reverb. Jackson's not going to give him anything, like when he breaks Lydia's heart over and over and eats his guilt. They both know Danny's not dropping the topic, just letting it go for the time being.

“The streak of perfect games this season is surreal,” Danny changes the subject to baseball to give Jackson a break.

*

Stiles owes him a few favors. Not that Danny is the kind of guy to call in favors. The point is Danny doesn't feel bad going to Stiles for intel.

What's going on with Jackson? Texting is easiest.

Stiles texts back immediately. U mean something nu?

Danny's disappointed Stiles is an abbreviator. I'm coming over. He's already in the driveway.

When Stiles opens the door, his baby face is a total mess. He looks tired, circles under his eyes and lines on either side of his mouth. “Dude, what happened?” Danny reaches out to hover his fingers over the gash on Stile's cheekbone.

“Crashed my Jeep,” Stiles doesn't put any effort into the lie/explanation, just slouches into the house letting Danny close the front door and follow in his wake. Stiles heads up the stairs. His room is the same as ever, but there's a vibe going on.

“How’d you crash your Jeep?” He's going through the motions, because he's not close enough with Stiles to push this.

Stiles shrugs. “You know, woodchuck in the road. Swerved.” He shrugs again, picks at his duvet and watches the rug.

Danny sits in the swively desk chair. “You know if there's something going on you can tell me, right?” Danny hopes he's reading this wrong. “...I mean, if you're experimenting you can ask me stuff. That if someone's hurting you, there aren't any judgments when you tell someone.”

Stiles tosses his head back laughing. “This is your very own After School Special, Stiles! What even is my life?” He pauses to pull in a deep breath and Danny is about to try again. “No, no,” Stiles waves his palms outwards. “While I appreciate that you're totally there for me, to intervene and get me some help, it's not like that. Wait, it's like I'm reading a script. But it really isn't like that.”

“So this is about the werewolf thing.” Danny didn't want to have to be the one to bring that up, but if Stiles thinks he can stonewall him, no.

Stiles suddenly looks like a cartoon character caught in front of a speeding train. He fake laughs. “What? Is this is a practical joke? Haha. Do you have a camera?” He looks around the room, with an exaggerated expression.

Danny sighs. “Stiles, you and Scott're always talking about werewolves at school. I thought you two were just into some hardcore gaming.” He smiles to lessen the blow, to make this easier. He really doesn’t know what’s happening, cosplay maybe? “But some pretty weird stuff has been happening the last year. Hard to ignore stuff. Jackson came back to life from the dead.”

He lets that hang there. Stiles cycles through several emotions, shock, confusion, worry. “Epi-pen?” he squeaks finally.

Danny tries not to show anything on his face. He's disappointed, but he's also a little angry that all these people he's known since he was in elementary school think he's this stupid. He stands up. “Look, even if,” he gestures to his own cheek, “that isn't about domestic violence, you can still talk to me. I'm cool with whatever, you know?”

Stiles sighs behind him, doesn't ask him to stay.

*

Danny spends the evening with Sara playing Wii bowling then watching Vampire Diaries with her narrating all the action as if she hadn't made him watch the whole series three times.

“So, what's up?” Sara cuts him a Look. She's wearing shorts that are too short for her age and a tank top he wishes his parents would ban. Danny spends a lot of time in the locker room, he knows what sixteen year old boys say about fourteen year old girls.

They look so much alike people used to assume they were fraternal twins—because people don't understand how fraternal twins work, so he figures her expression is how he looks to Jackson a lot of the time.

He rolls his head on the back of the couch.

“You need to stop taking all of Jackson's bullshit on yourself. He's a douche. You worry about him too much.” Sara got over her crush on Jackson last year, and since then she’s not been his biggest fan.

“Come on, kick me when I'm down.” He closes his eyes and tries to look as pathetic as possible.

“You're such a faker.” She turns the tv down. “I know you're mad. Why don't you ever just tell him how pissed off you are? You're such a sissy.”

They both laugh.

When the laughter falls away, she asks him in a soft voice “So, what happened with Alex?”

He turns his face away. “I don't ever know what happens, do I?”

*

He has a wet dream that night starring Damon from Vampire Diaries.

*

The thing about being the calm in the storm, the person everyone comes to with their problems, is that he's never really acquired someone to reach out to in return. Yeah, he has his parents and Sara for most things, and Jackson's great with the “he can go fuck himself with a buzzsaw, you're too good for him” speech. But he doesn't really have someone he can ring up and bring up his suspicions. Which aren't even well formed, more a crawling on the back of his neck and the gnawing in his belly he recognizes from long acquaintance is his worry about Jackson.

Of course, Jackson's still sketchy as hell about answering his texts and lets all of Danny’s calls go to voicemail.

They have lacrosse practice all year, so there's only a couple weeks off for Coach's yearly end of the season bender before practice starts back. Jackson skips the first one. A year ago, that would have sent Danny straight to Jackson's house after a 911 message to his mom. Now, Danny's not even mildly surprised that Jackson doesn't give two fucks about lacrosse even though the game used to be the center of his existence.

Scott's at practice, though. He looks bland and pleasant as always, but he's kicking it with Isaac while Stiles and Jonah (Greenburg) are tightening their sticks on the other side of the bench. Stiles looks up when Danny approaches them. He's getting better at hiding his emotions. That's always a bad sign in vulnerable people like Stiles.

“Hey,” Danny smiles at them.

“Stiles thinks that leaked Star Trek reboot sequel script is real. What an asshole.” Jonah speaks his mind.

“Why am I even talking to you?” Stiles moans. That's actually a good question. Danny resists the urge to look over at Scott and Isaac, because that's a dick move. Danny didn't realize that he and Stiles had so much in common. Estrangement is new for Danny, maybe newer for Stiles.

“Because Creepy Isaac has creeped all up in your bromance. Or you like my ass. You pick.” Jonah doesn’t have the same hesitancy about making Stiles feel like shit. No great surprise.

Danny sighs. “Don't call him that, man. The guy's been through some serious shit, ok?” People pick on Isaac too much.

Stiles looks up and blinks a couple times rapidly. He's obviously Having Thoughts. Danny knows not everyone has a clue about Isaac, but he always thought the signs were written all over him in neon. Stiles seems like the kind of person to notice Bad Home Situation written all over someone. Whether because of his personal loss or because he grew up a cop's son, Danny doesn't know.

Jonah leaps up. “See you fuckers later.” He lopes off. Stiles' phone beeps as Danny's buzzes in his pocket. Blarg, practice canceled. Your faces will make me barf.

“I'm glad I wasted the time I could have been watching Shark Week on my dvr on this fiasco.” Stiles stands up and opens his mouth to blow Danny off, but Danny's already falling in beside him.

“Do you want to come over?” Danny's not even sure if he has ulterior motives now. Stiles glances at Scott jealousy written all over his slumped shoulders and thinned mouth. Danny's stomach flips in sympathy .

Stiles rubs his chin as he ducks his head. “Yeah, sure, why not? You have Shark Week?”

Danny doesn't bother repressing his pleased smile. “Ok, to be honest, I don't have Shark Week, but my sister does. She'll share if you give her fifteen minutes solid of interest in One Direction.”

“Oh man!” Stiles pumps his fist. “My favorite topic! Assuming there're also snacks.”

“Stick to your woodchuck story when my mom asks you about your face,” Danny murmurs with his eyes diverted. Everyone else might be ignoring the strangeness with fraught silence and diverted eyes, but Danny’s going to confront this head on to keep it away from his family.

Stiles’s eyes dance over Danny’s face. His mouth pops open but he stays quiet for a few yards. “Ok,” he says finally in a tone Danny can’t read.

*

All families have their ways, and Danny accepted when he officially announced he was gay (there was no secret about this. ever.) that any boy his family hadn't met by fifth grade who walked through the door was going to be fodder for teasing.

“Do you box? That's pretty hot.” Sara's the most shameless. His mom mostly tries to get a promise ring out of anyone, his dad tries to sell the I-accept-and-can-learn-to-love-you-as-a-son way too hard. Sara exists to embarrass Danny.

Stiles flashes his open-mouth confused face. “Uh, er, do I, what?”

“He was in a car accident.” Danny sips on his juice box and aggressively slouches to show her he won't rise to her bait.

“Oh,” she instantly feels like shit. He smirks a little. Sara narrows her eyes. “Is he lying?” she singles in on Stiles because he's clearly the easier prey.

Stiles doesn't hesitate. “No, I keep forgetting about my face. Accident totally real.” Danny's surprised how flawless the lie is. He's completely convinced that even if there was technically a wreck, that it was part of some bigger event being covered up.

“So you hit your head? That's why you're hanging out with him?” She forks her thumb at Danny.

Stiles laughs, the sound is warm, genuine. “This is one of the better choices I've made lately, actually.”

The commercial's over, and Danny has to be very sly about watching Stiles to gauge his last comment because if he gets caught Sara will go to town.

*

His mom loves Stiles, of course. Luckily his dad works late so he doesn't have a full complement of horror with his dad offering guitar lessons or something equally as wretched. Stiles seems less frayed on the edges when Danny drives him home.

“That was fun?” Stiles looks at the roof of the car like he's mulling it over. “Yeah. That's what that was. Fun.”

“You're welcome whenever. It doesn't really get any more exciting. Unless it's the holidays and my dad is testing out the lights. Last year he blew out the entire breaker box.” Stiles laughs and Danny smiles at him. He can't decide if he's being a dick here, getting closer to Stiles so he can see what Stiles knows, or if this is more about needing to fill a pretty big hole in his own life.

Stiles reaches for the door handle and hangs his head for a second. He keeps his face averted. “You're right about Isaac. I hate to say it out loud, but he’s had a pretty shitty life and people need to ease up.” The laugh that follows the words is bitter and not something he ever expected to hear from Stiles. “Thanks,” his eyes flash over his shoulder and he's out of the car before Danny can say anything.

There's a really good chance that what this will ultimately be about is making sure Stiles doesn't go down the road that laugh promised.

*

Danny does have other things to do besides worry about Jackson (and maybe Stiles and Lydia and Scott and that whole three ringed circus). He tutors on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He has a fantasy lacrosse team online. He carpools Sara and her friends Monday and Friday when they have soccer practice and he has lacrosse. He’s designing an app for BHH for national disasters or emergencies. He has homework and jogs. Then there are the clandestine club nights.

He has things to do.

Jackson is quieter than usual, less prone to unsolicited jerkwad commentary towards Scott and Stiles. Danny keeps waiting for the meltdown, but all he gets is hunched shoulders and brush offs.

He to get real when Jackson just blinks at him when Danny invites him over on Friday to play xbox.

Danny rolls his eyes. “You know eventually you’re gonna have to tell me because you’ll need an alibi for your parents or a real one for Sheriff Stilinski.”

“Fuck!” Jackson blows the word out of his mouth with enough force to turn heads. He had clearly not thought of this angle. Danny doesn’t press. It’s better to let Jackson pick his battles. He meets Danny’s eyes for a second, and he’s wearing his twisted up face, the bare one that says he has no idea what to do.

“Anyway,” Danny breezes on. “You think Scott can get his grades up on his own? I don’t know if it would hurt his feelings to offer help, but I’m thinking about it.”

“Fuck that douche,” Jackson eloquently rejoins. The tone is conversational, though, no real fire behind the words. Jackson’s lack of venom is worrying.

*

Stiles is still bringing his A-game to the field. He scores consistently. Danny’s starting to wonder if he’s going to end up benched or switching positions if this trend of BOOM TALENT! continues with the team. He pokes around at that idea as he watches Jackson demolish everything in his path at practice. Danny’s identity isn’t tied to the game, so he guesses if there’s someone better than him he can live with losing his place. He won’t quit the team over it anyway.

Stiles jogs off the field smiling. His face is flushed from sprints. He pants a little as he grabs the towel next to Danny’s leg and flops down. “I really hate running. Have I mentioned that to you? I hate it. Running, it sucks.” The words puff out of his mouth in bursts as he catches his breath. “Coach can shove sprints down his gullet.”

“Maybe you should have joined the swim team?” Danny smiles so Stiles knows it’s a joke.

“Haha. Right, because that’s a safe place to be!” He dramatically shuts his mouth and changes the subject. “Hey, so you notice Coach’s got a new whistle?”

This is one of those awkward moments Danny’s gotten used to lately. Why are jokes about the swim team suddenly fraught? He watches Stiles twitch, his leg pumping up and down with what looks like anxiety.

“You’re mid-fielding has really improved. The pass to Michael was great.” Danny doesn’t like people to feel uncomfortable, it disturbs his aura.

Stiles turns his restless energy on him, obviously excited by the derail. Or maybe the praise. Both. “Yeah? It was mostly an accident. I slipped on a patch of wet grass. But it worked out ok!” He smiles huge and infectious so that Danny feels his own face tighten with happiness.

*

One of the things about Jackson that Danny’s always found endearing is that he’s a guy. Jackson is a guy stereotype. Like the Platonic Ideal of guydom. He only talks about his internal life if he’s drunk or has it pulled out of him in monosyllables.

werewolves r rl am 1

Danny thinks about Jackson’s guyness when he gets this message at 2:37 am.

A year ago he would have known this was some drunk prank.

It’s typical of Jackson to just skip any kind of conversation about this. When he broke up with Lydia the last time the text had been dumped lyd.

Danny lays awake a long time trying to wrap his head around not so much that people he knows (at least one) are either delusional or impossible creatures. Delusional wouldn’t surprise him at all. Impossible creatures is a weirder scenario. Eventually he just decides that if something is real or true, it is, and freaking out about it won’t make anyone safer or saner.

*

Jackson is ignoring him again. That’s typical of his behavior when he’s done something rash or dangerous. Danny thinks about heading over to his place and ambushing him. It’s not like Danny doesn’t have the right to do it. He thinks it’s probably not in anyone’s best interest, though.

It being Saturday, Danny has any number of things to do. What he does is show up on Stiles’ doorstep unannounced. Rude, but effective.

Stiles opens the door in a unicorn t-shirt and pajama pants emblazoned with little slices of pie. “Um, Danny?” Stiles just stares at him with his mouth open. “So. You’re here. At my house. Before noon. On Saturday.” He pauses, clearly intending Danny to jump right in there. “Why?”

“I hate to sound really dramatic about this, but. I think you know why.”

Stiles drops his chin to his chest, pushes the door all the way open, and waves his hand in a flapping motion. “Well then, come right in.” He turns and marches up the stairs. Danny closes the door and locks it before he follows.

When he crosses the threshold into Stiles’ room he pulls out his phone and scrolls to Jackson’s text.

Stiles squints down at it and his face flashes pink as his mouth falls open. “What. The. Fuck.”

Danny could point out that that is not a poker face. Considering the calibre of liars involved in what seems to be at least some kind of secrecy pact, Danny’s surprised they don’t live tweet whatever it is they get up to.

Stiles hands him back the phone like it’s on fire. “Drugs. I mean, he has the money, right? He must be on some serious shit. Maybe PCP. I heard that’s coming back. Also peyote gives you visions. Maybe werewolves are Jackson’s spirit animal.”

“Dude. Jackson eats egg whites and drinks whey protein shakes. He actually steams broccoli. No.”

Stiles goes frantic, pacing around and waving his arms while making non-word noises. Then he just stops. He stands still for a second and then spins around to face Danny. “You know what? This isn’t my job. If Jackson wants to get himself killed, who am I to stop him? My dad is my responsibility. You? You’re Jackson’s. Yes, Jackson is a werewolf.” Stiles waves a hand around. “There’s lot of other stuff, but I’m not making any executive decisions about what’s need to know basis and what’s flapping in the wind. How the whole town doesn’t know...you know, maybe that whole adage about ‘there’s something in the water’ is true. There’s stupid powder in the Beacon Hills drinking water.”

He collapses in his desk chair and slaps the tops of his thighs. His face says “bring it.” “What?” Stiles says in an aggro way.

“So, Miguel? Computer hacking? You and Scott suddenly being first line?”

Stiles sort of giggles. The laughter’s high-pitched and a bit demented anyway. “Me? No. I just have skills.” He smiles in a way that Danny thinks is mostly to himself.

Danny parks himself on the end of Stiles’ bed. “This is for real for real, not larping or something?”

“It is kind of larping, they larp they know what the fuck they’re doing sometimes.” Stiles brightens. “You know, maybe Jackson accidentally did everyone a solid. You actually know what you’re doing most of the time. Logistics. Planning. I’m sure you could make a plan that was more than two steps. And I’m pretty sure you’re not evil, which is not the case for some people I won’t name.”

“So when you say evil do you mean serial killers or demons? Please tell me nothing like Supernatural is going on.” Danny doesn’t want to end up in a time loop or literally burning in a pit of hell.

“Serial killers. But mostly morally ambiguous individuals or cray-cray wackjobs looking to get their revenge on.”

“So, you’re...just a friend of werewolves?” How is this even happening?

“I’m the brains of the operation, my friend. And also a friend to one werewolf at least.” He looks a little sour. Danny sits up a bit straighter. He thinks about prying, but Siles is more of a confessional guy than one who has to be cracked open. “Anyway. Glad to have you on board team wolf. We don’t currently have t-shirts, but I’m sure we could amend that.” He makes a thoughtful face.

“Tell me everything.” Danny settles back for a long monologue. “Everything you can, I mean.” Because he’s not really the demanding type.

Stiles starts talking. He goes on for a good half hour.

“...and then the Alpha Pack beat the shit out of Erica and Boyd to send a message to Derek or something else Derek hasn’t deigned to explain.”

Danny doesn’t have one idea what to say.

Stiles’ phone rings. He picks it up to look at the screen. “Scott,” he tells Danny.

Danny stands up. “I’m going to go do some rearranging of worldviews. Take your call.”

“You don’t have to...” Stiles starts.

“It’s cool. I promised my mom I’d mow.” He waves and gives Stiles a reassuring smile he doesn’t really feel. Stiles lets the call go to voicemail anyway with a shrug and a frown.

Danny leaves him to his thoughts, even though he thinks about giving him a pep talk. The mental images of Jackson with a long, lizard tail curtail the impulse.

*

Occam’s Razor, so everything about the recent past makes sense in hindsight.

Danny spends Saturday evening surfing around looking for useful information online while also listening to his dad’s zoning law woes and his mom’s entreaties for everyone to look at something on Pinterest. It’s really great that his family don’t do awkward silences and no one assumes he’s in a funk because he’s full of one word replies.

There are a lot of weird websites dedicated to the supernatural. That part isn’t at all surprising. Neither are all the furry boards--whatever makes you happy. What surprises him is how many sites/threads there are where people claim to actually be supernatural beings. You can be wrong on the internet in new and surprising ways.

“You’re quiet,” his dad raises an eyebrow. Oh. Well that was good while it lasted.

“Please don’t ask me about my love life.” His parents have boundary issues.

“Look at this! It’s a walrus with a bucket!” His mom turns her iPad around and Danny dutifully looks at the bucket walrus.

“Going out tonight?” His dad lowers his eyebrow. He’d been planning on it, actually. He was going to put on really tight pants and a shirt he’d tuck into the back of his tight pants early in the evening. But Stiles is IMing him links to sites he thinks are valid..

Danny shrugs. “Don’t think so.”

Sara strolls through the room wearing too much lip gloss and a skimpy dress. “Good, you can pick me up from hanging out with Karli then.” She just keeps moving, like a shark. Sure, she’s hanging out with Karli. He rolls his eyes.

*

Jackson acts exactly like he always does when their paths collide at school. He smirks and taunts freshman. He winks at Danny and bumps into his shoulder companionably. “What’s up?”

If that’s how they’re playing this, then Danny won’t make a fuss. Not in public at least. Not until he has the lay of the land and can make solid judgments about what Jackson needs, if being a werewolf will make him happy. Danny’s run out of ways to make Jackson happy. He wonders how Jackson’s perspective on his adoption has changed. That situation’s always been delicate. Danny knows Jackson must be even more strung out about everything now.

They make it through the day with Jackson normaling it away. Now that he knows to look, Lydia seems more fragile than usual. Her smile’s tight and she’s too quiet. She’s lost weight.

He texts Stiles after fourth period and tells him to come over after school or dinner, just some time tonight.

*

Stiles materializes while Danny’s doing laps in the pool after dinner. Danny’s mom waves with a big grin on her face from the other side of the glass door. He lifts an eyebrow and she fades away to either spy from a better vantage point or to find things to Pin.

“Hi.” Stiles plops down on a deck chair. “Your mom thinks I’m marriage material. I get that vibe from her.” He scratches his nose. “I guess that’s preferable to a potential criminal or the usual ‘aren’t you twelve?’ thing that I get all the time.”

“Everybody hated my ex.” He doesn’t feel like elaborating on that. “Is there some kind of structure to what’s going down with everyone? You know, a leadership model?”

Stiles jerks with full-body laughter. He points at Danny as he climbs out of the pool. Stiles hoots little broken noises. Danny assumes that indicates a very firm no. “Leadership!” Stiles finally gasps.

“Do you have some kind of loose plan at least?” Danny sits down in the chair next to Stiles.

When Stiles stops hiccuping, he bobs his head in a confusing way. “My plan is to stay alive and keep Scott as safe as possible. So far so good on number one, number two has been slightly less successful, but all in all everything’s working out as much as possible. That is, we’re alive.”

“I meant finding out about Jackson’s birth parents.” Keeping Stiles on track is a delicate task.

Stiles smiles. “As for that, yes, I have a harebrained plan that just might work!” He strikes a pose. Danny lifts an eyebrow. “It might be illegal, but luckily, Dad’s the Sheriff and all that.”

Danny can already see where this is going. “Does this involve breaking into the records at Town Hall?”

Stiles deflates. He waves a hand. “It’s all I got.”

It’s not really a bad plan. Danny has an alibi. “The information would be password protected.” That’s weak, and Stiles just rolls his eyes.

There’s no way anyone would believe Danny was doing anything illegal. Their county doesn’t have keystroke software, and it wouldn’t occur to anyone to do some CSI computer forensics out of the blue. Not that they would even know how.

He has one very good objection. “Dude, this is my dad’s entire career if we get busted.”

“The weird part is how I totally in every way know exactly how you feel. And worse.” Stiles doesn’t have to elaborate. Danny’s intimately knowledgeable about that restraining order.

Danny sighs. “I’ll swing by tomorrow.” Why not? Crime seems like Stiles’ hobby.

*

Danny’s never really been bothered by being a politician’s kid. He’s never really been into anything that could get his dad in trouble. Smoking pot regularly would fuck up his lung capacity. Harder things are scarce in Beacon Hills. As far as he knows. No one cares about underaged drinking, so that’s never been as issue. He’s never felt the need to dress all in black and make bomb threats on the school.

His dad being on the County Commission just means fundraiser bbqs and posing for Christmas card photos. It means smiling at strangers who recognize him at the grocery store and helping put out yard signs in the run up to an election.

Apparently it also now affords him an excuse to loiter around the Commission offices “looking for his dad” in order to hack illegally into adoption records. At Stiles Stilinski’s request. When Danny imagines someone even less likely to be a criminal than himself--bing bing bing!

Danny just randomly picks employee names and enters 12345 then PASSWORD for the password until he gets into the system. It takes two names. He’s conversant with the interface and the way the files are arranged because Beacon Hills doesn’t bother with professional IT admins since teenaged expertise is free. Danny wryly wonders how long it would take to overthrow the entire governmental structure of the county if someone dedicated even half their attention to it.

His phone buzzes.

Find anything

Danny sighs.

It buzzes again.

nvmind

The records aren’t hard to find. The population isn’t big enough to support a booming adoption industry. He clicks on the file and gets thumbnails of a birth certificate, court documents, what you’d expect. He saves everything on a flash drive.

He texts Stiles.

Don’t recognize the name.

He gets in reply: SUCCESS

Danny waves to Pam on his way out. She smiles at him and waves back.

Aside from the criminality of all of this, Danny feels like he’s letting Jackson down because he did this without his knowledge. Even if he had tried time and again to break through Jackson’s newest damage. Shouldn’t Jackson himself be part of this process? Danny feels like a failure for not being able communicate to Jackson that he’s there no matter what. There’s no way Jackson doesn’t need him right now. He’s just too stubborn to let Danny in.

*

Stiles plucks his bottom lip as he stares at his computer screen. “This couldn’t be easy. Just type the names into google and BOOM tax returns and previous addresses.”

“They’re probably not running for the Senate, Stiles.” Danny watches Stiles click through sites in an adderall-induced frenzy.

The door to Stiles’ room bangs open and Scott bursts through. Danny sits up, guilty conscience making him alert.

“Danny?” Scott’s face scrunches up in confusion.

“Hi?” Danny tries a smile and a wave.

“Well, hello, Scott. What can I do for you?” Stiles’ voice raises the hair on the back of Danny’s neck, dry, angry, rude.

Scott looks from Stiles to Danny and back and forth. “I need to talk to you. In private.”

Danny stands up. “I can go.”

“He knows, Scott. Chill.” Stiles waves for Danny to sit back down. Danny does.

WHAT?” Scott balls his hands into fists. His eyes flash yellow. Danny’s jaw drops open.

Stiles just lift an eyebrow and swivels his chair a little. He shrugs a shoulder. It’s a dare. Stiles reminds him of Jackson offering bravado to cover hurt feelings.

Scott deflates. “Ok, I guess.” He mirrors Stiles’ shrug. “I guess it’s safer for you.” He smiles a little at Danny before he turns his mad face back at Stiles. “Are you really doing favors for Derek behind my back?”

Danny’s immediately uncomfortable. This is a private conversation, not because of the supernatural elements but because of the interpersonal baggage.

Stiles huffs out an annoyed breath. “It’s not behind your back. You just didn’t know because we’re not effectively communicating right now.” Stile relaxes back in his chair in an aggressive way.

Scott gapes with his mouth open for half a second then his face turns hurt. “You could have told me.” Scott’s little boy hurt makes Danny want to step in even though it’s not anywhere near his place.

Stiles reacts by dropping his hard-man routine and leaning forward to rest his arms on his thighs.”Yeah,” is all he says. They watch each other in silence. Danny would prefer to be waxed than have to watch this intimate interaction.

“Ok,” Scott acknowledges and the tension in the room bursts. “Well,” he rubs the back of his neck. “Anyway, Derek wants to know if you found anything.”

Stiles opens his mouth and closes it again. He gestures emphatically. “You’re pissed at me and you’re running errands for him? What the what?”

Scott looks at the floor and then back up at Stiles from under his eyelashes. “Yeah, well. I mean he lost his phone in the woods and didn’t know your number.”

Stiles looks at Danny. “Remember that conversation about leadership models? This.”

Scott looks quizzical but doesn’t ask.

Stiles scribbles the information on a slip of notebook paper and Scott comes over to collect it. He doesn’t bother to read the names.

“Wanna order a pizza?” Scott smiles. Danny realizes he knows this guy even less than he thought and that has nothing to do with him being a werewolf.

*

“You’re hanging out with Stiles now?” Jackson quirks an eyebrow. Danny pulls his Econ book out of his locker.

“I always sort of did. We did our Science Fair project together last year. Which you know.” Danny slams the his locker closed a little more forcefully than necessary.

Jackson smiles and slouches in his approving way. “Anyway, thanks.” He bobs his chin towards his chest. “For what you did.”

Danny didn’t realize how much he needed Jackson’s approval until the giant grin spreads across his face. “You could have said something. But, you’re welcome.” He bumps Jackson’s shoulder with his arm as they weave their way into the stream of students trotting to class.

A phone tree would probably solve a lot of problems in this peer group.

*

Because you can’t be too organized (no matter what Jackson thinks), Danny decides to collate and cross reference information from the web. His main criterion will be to only document information that is repeated discretely at least twice. Its arbitrary, but he thinks getting all their information from Derek, the vet, and the Argents is...really stupid. Potentially deadly.

“Dude, you’re a neeeeeeeeeerrrrd,” Stiles spins his chair around and around. Danny eyes the coffee cup on the desk then the Monster in the waste paper basket.

“Yeah.” Danny shoves over some of Stiles’ trash and sets his computer down. “I’ve been tinkering with a couple algorithms.”

“NERD!” Stiles is laughing now, the little scattershot burble that’s a private thing. Danny looks him over. Stiles has his eyes closed, long lashes brushing his cheeks. He’s smiling and laughing with his head on the back of his chair. Danny can’t help smiling at the picture.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to find something like Mountain Ash and whip out the knowledge on Miguel the next time he’s trying to kill you with his brain?” Danny says it light-heartedly, but too many of Stiles’ stories involve being threatened.

Stiles pops up straight and toes his chair closer. “Let us nerdly commune.”

Danny clicks open a few tabs in Chrome and does not notice that Stiles smells like he peeled an orange recently.

“You know,” Stiles sits back and snaps his fingers. “If I wanted to post all my business on the internet but keep it secret? I’d just post it not in English.”

That seems reasonable to Danny. “Latin is the cliche.”

“Latin, pseudo-celtic bullshit, fake Native American garbage. I don’t think sage burning hippies would go so far as to learn Shoshone, so.” Stiles seems to mostly be talking to himself.

“Dibs on Latin,” Danny says in a rush.

“You bitch!” Stiles punches him in the shoulder.

*

About the time he realizes his stomach’s grumbling, Danny looks up to see Sheriff Stilinski leaning on the doorjamb with his arms folded across his chest. He’s smiling fondly.

“...I mean if it was me, I’d hide in plain sight and buy magic dot com and be all PUH-shaw, you think this is real?” Stiles has probably been talking for a while.

Danny steps on his foot under the desk. Stiles frowns. “What? Footsie?”

“I think Danny was trying to protect what cred you have as a functional human being.” Stiles eeps when he hears/sees his dad. “I thought you gave up on gaming?”

“Dad! You’re going to give me a coronary or a complex. What did we discuss about lurking? You shouldn’t sneak up on teenaged boys! I don’t think we need to revisit why. Danny doesn’t need to be traumatized by that story.”

“You can’t blame a man for enjoying the sight of his son enjoying something he’s enthusiastic about. I was about to ask you if you wanted to order Chinese anyway.” He raises an eyebrow. The fond smile hasn’t ever left his face. “Danny’s welcome to stay.” He fades away into the hall.

“I should have shut the door.” Danny sighs. “Sorry.”

“Dude, if he hasn’t figured it out by now, you know?” He shrugs, tries for casual, but Danny can tell he’s faking something. Probably guilt over lying. Stiles is essentially a really sweet guy who’s always trying to prove that he’s not as sensitive as he is.

Danny thinks about telling Stiles to just tell his dad, but he thinks Stiles should be allowed to handle his family situation the best way that suits him.

They have Chinese. Danny sighs internally when his eyes keep straying to the moles on Stiles’ face or when he can’t help laughing at Stiles doing a Fozzy Bear impression. Not good.

*

Danny crushes on people he shouldn’t. He figures everyone does. The awkwardness is universal. He can usually play it cool because he’s had so much practice. Usually he’d turn to Jackson to be mocked out of self-pity. Jackson’s good at reminding Danny to just be human and not set his expectations for himself too high.

Yeah, that won’t work here.

“What’s up?” Sara bursts into his room while he’s writing a paper on Manifest Destiny. “You’re doing your thing.”

“Am not.” He totally is.

“Why aren’t you over at the Stilinskis’?” She’s almost too perceptive.

“Homework.” He doesn’t look up at her. She’s a predator and he’s not going to meet her eye.

“Uh huh. It kinda hurts my feelings that you won’t tell me about your new boyfriend. You didn’t even ask me if I think he’s cute.” She pauses wanting him to look up and get trapped. He keeps his eyes on his computer screen. “He is totally cute. Even though you didn’t ask, because you’re being a asshole lately. You haven’t even said anything about my new shoes.” With this parting remark, she huffs out of the room.

His parents will have made the same assumptions. Maybe it’s good to have a built in cover story for all the stuff he can’t mention. But he hates lying to his family, even by omission and they’re all assuming assumers.

The problem is that his dad and the Sheriff are buds. Catastrophe looms.

*

He decides texting is the most cowardly way to broach the topic. So he picks that.

My family thinks we’re dating. I didn’t correct them. For reasons you should understand. Sorry.

His phone buzzes thirty seconds later.

U just figured that out?

Danny stares at his phone for a beat. He’s not used to being the clueless person. But he figures if he rolled with the werewolf thing, this isn’t really that big of a deal.

He goes back to his Latin Rosetta Stone tutorial.

*

Derek appears a couple days later while Stiles is goofing off playing minesweeper and Danny’s working his way through the English algorithm data. Stiles rolls his eyes and pauses his game. Danny closes the lid of his computer. He watches Derek stalk about the room from his vantage in the middle of Stiles’ bed. This is the first time Danny’s seen the guy since he learned the truth. Derek seems less intimidating than Danny had imagined, kind of lost.

“Have you found anything useful?” Derek completes his circuit of the room and glares at Stiles from near the door.

“No ‘hey, thanks for doing this really cool thing that makes my life so much better’?”

Derek points at Danny. “He’s doing all the work. You’re riding coattails.”

“Derek, meet Danny--who is way too awesome to put up with your crap, by the way. Danny meet Derek, who is eternally grateful. And also mean.”

“We’ve met,” Derek and Danny say in unison. Well, that’s a good start. Danny smiles at Derek a little. Derek dials down the frown.

“Oh no, you’re not going to gang up on me and be instant bffs! That is not going to happen! I was here first. Remember the pool when you start having fond thoughts about Danny.” Stiles crosses his arms over his chest as if he’s actually pouting. As Danny watches him he can feel his eyebrows furrowing.

“Whatever.” Derek clearly has no time for Stiles being Stiles. “Did you find anything or not?”

“Not. We’re in early days here. Also, I’ll thank Scott for running to you behind my back. He’s a thunder stealer.”

“Call me when you find something.” Derek exits through the window.

“FINE!” Stiles yells at his back.

“You’re just as rude as he is, you know.” Danny lifts one eyebrow.

Stiles groans. “You can’t be on his side. You’re my boyfriend. That means even if I’m irrational, you have to side with me. Especially when it’s Derek. Derek has a whole pack to take his side.” He pauses and opens his eyes wide. The effect mimes sincerity or is sincere, Danny can’t tell which. “Ok?”

“Yeah, ok,” Danny says before he even realizes it.

“After I send this scathing text to Mr. Betrayal, it’s time for pizza rolls. You in?”

“You need to eat better.” Danny responds, because he’s being thinking Stiles eachs too much convenience food.

When he looks up again Stiles is watching him with his mouth open.

*

Coach is being even more unreasonable lately, packing in extra practices, mumbling to himself about soldiers. Danny’s running on fumes, which is why he doesn’t even raise his head from his pillow when Stiles bops into his bedroom.

“I know we agreed that Etsy was off the table since dreamcatchers--what is that all about, right?” He bounces down on the bed and flips open his laptop. “But check this shit out!”

Danny doesn’t bother to roll away from Stiles’ leg pressing into his shoulder. “Just read it to me.” He doesn’t even open his eyes.

“Whoa, you look wiped. You want me to get you a Monster or something? Don’t you have to tutor Greenberg later so Coach doesn’t eat his liver? Strike that. Imagery. Nooooooo. Why do I do stuff like...”

“What did you find?” Stiles needs directing when he starts down the drain like that.

Stiles jostles Danny a little in his enthusiasm. He smells like turpentine (Danny’s not asking). “I was thinking about all those weird threads you found on that Angie’s List post and askes myself if I was a practitioner of the dark arts and I was a little strapped for rent this month, what would I do?”

Stiles’ voice is lulling Danny into that between sleep and wakefulness state where everything’s safe and content.

“I decided to kamikazi it and buy some potions and spells. What’s the worst that could happen? I end up with some kickass potpourri that’s what. I noodled around and the first several stores just wanted my paypal info and address. But THEN this one chick started private messaging me all these sketchy questions. What phase of the moon was I born in. What did I eat for lunch last Thursday. If it had been my shoe size, I would have just chalked it up to her being a creeper...”

He breaks off. “Are you asleep, man?”

“No,” Danny manages to croak out.

“Anyway, eventually II answered something wrong, and she shut me down pdq. But I think there’s something to go on, am I right? Of course I’m right.”

Danny hears Stiles clicking away at the keyboard. When he wakes back up, he’s covered by the triangle of his duvet he’s not laying on. It’s dark and he’s oddly lonely.

*

The next day at school, Isaac approaches him in the hallway before Chem.

“Hey,” Isaac says.

“Hey,” Danny replies.

That out of the way, Danny hopes this is quick because he has to slip Jackson his homework to copy.

“Derek wants to know how the stuff is going.” Isaac’s gotten better at acting casual, he scratches at his nose and looks down the hallway with a bored expression.

“We’re talking a lot of data here.” Danny feels slightly harassed.

Stiles and Scott pass them. As they do, Stiles runs a finger down the back of Danny’s arm where the veins stand out. He smiles up at him as he taps Danny’s palm once to punctuate the move.

Scott rolls his eyes and grabs Isaac by the back of his shirt. “Dude, you gotta tell Derek not to summon you or whatever in the middle of Skyping. It’s creepy!”

Danny shakes his head and wonders yet again how he didn’t clue into all this before. He smiles at Stiles as he passes, though. Jackson rolls his eyes.

*

“I have a full moon ritual,” Stiles announces as they snack on cantaloupe. Clearly he took that advice to heart. “I hide in my room until something really fucked up happens and I end up out in the scary woods or in Derek’s scary lair or knocked out. Or whatever.”

“Can we just watch Fringe instead?” Danny suggests.

Scott calls just then, so Danny does the whole ‘I’m inches away but I’m totally not listening’ thing, because they’re on Stiles’ bed. He pretends intense interest in Reddit.

“And you have powerade and tegaderm? Danny wants to know how Jackson is. Yes, he’s here. HAHA. How do I even know you? We’re going to watch Fringe so unless it’s, you know...yeah, life or death. Be careful.”

Danny looks up. He’d already talked to Jackson (as much as it was possible), but it’s nice Stiles thought about that. “Jackson’s freaking out, but Scott thinks Derek has it under control. And, yes, I know how much that exactly doesn’t mean at all.”

“When’s your dad gonna be home?” Danny’s mostly laying down, shoulders and head supported by all the pillows. Stiles looks down from where he’s leaning against the headboard with his thinking face. Danny’s stomach flips as all the implications of his question smash into him.

“He’s not. He’s pulling a double because Angie had her baby.” His eyes don’t leave Danny’s face. Danny doesn’t do awkward. He has no reason to because he thinks about what he does and says beforehand and takes other people’s humanness into consideration. Awkward has arrived in Danny’s life.

He hasn’t exactly hidden that he’s attracted, but he hasn’t been flirting (on purpose) either. Stiles is too smart for his own good, a forest for the trees guy sometimes.

“Ok!” Stiles hops off the bed and hits a couple buttons on his phone. “We’re having pizza and I don’t want to hear your crazy talk.”

Danny sighs and shrugs.

They watch Fringe. There are no middle of the night calls. Danny doesn’t regret cockblocking himself too much because he doesn’t want to make Stiles weirder than he already is.

*

The big problem with Stiles (the main one) is that Danny really doesn’t get what’s going on his head regarding this dating situation. Danny is still a teenager. He isn’t always great about expressing his feelings if there’s a risk of emotional trauma. Everyone fears getting laughed at for making the wrong assumptions. They aren’t really dating, right?

Just jumping in there and talking it out feels like the wrong approach.

If he’s going to crash and burn, he’s going to do it spectacularly.

Them leaving practice together feels natural now. Scott’s with Isaac and Jackson’s wrapped up in Lydia. Stiles needs to go back to his locker to get a notebook. He’s monologuing about different varieties of mint as he roots about looking for the notebook he wants and Danny’s only half listening. He has his back to Danny, his hair porcupine spikes, still more wet than damp. There’s a one inch strip of skin between his hairline and plaid shirt.

Danny leans down and kisses right there, that little bit of skin. Stiles squeaks, but he doesn’t round on him or scream. So Danny glides an open palm across Stiles’ belly and kisses behind his ear, one of the moles that have been screaming for it while Danny restrained himself.

Stiles reaches back to grab Danny’s free hand, he twists their fingers together and sighs. They stand there for several long seconds. A door bangs somewhere near the cafeteria and they break apart.

Stiles turns around. Danny doesn’t back out of Stiles’ personal bubble. But it’s Stiles that kisses him. A slow pressing of his open mouth over Danny’s, a tiny flick of his tongue on Danny’s top lip. He steps back, his face pink and mouth wet.

Stiles rubs his palms on his jeans. “Let’s skedaddle.”

Danny’s laughing as Stiles yanks him by a belt loop towards the parking lot.

*

Stiles is all tentative touches, fingers slipping under the hem of Danny’s t-shirt and mouth pressed under his chin, as they stand by Stiles’ closed bedroom door.

Stiles’ irises catch the light from the window, amber. His face is as serious as Danny has ever seen. “Are you sure?” And it shouldn’t be Stiles asking that.

“Are you?” Danny tries to make the question as soft-edged as he can. He’s not judging either way.

That snaps Stiles out of the quiet daze he’s been in. His fierce face snaps in place, and he snatches at Danny’s shirt to shove him over to the bed. He leans over Danny as Danny kicks off his shoes and whispers in his ear. “I’ve been waiting.” The words tumble down Danny’s spine out to his fingers and toes.

He leans his head back and Stiles is there, his mouth open, tongue against Danny’s teeth; his tongue. He falls into Danny’s lap and rides him down onto the bed. Danny gets a hand under Stiles’ shirts and scratches his nails down his spine. That gets a thrust of Stiles’ hips and a broken kiss so Stiles can gasp.

This is Stiles’ show. Danny came into this knowing that. Maybe it will always be that way between them; he doesn’t know yet.

Suddenly Stiles is rolling to his feet. He kicks off his shoes. Stiles’ plaid shirt goes flying into a corner as he flops back on the bed. Danny watches him over his shoulder with a questioning eyebrow up.

“Stop being cool and come over here.” Stiles waves and Danny obeys. They press front to front in the middle of the bed. Stiles hooks a foot over Danny’s leg and holds on with his bare toes. They stare at each other.

Stiles sighs and shoves Danny over to lay across his chest. “Don’t make this weird.” His tone is so normal, a little annoyed, a little fond. Danny starts laughing. Stiles smiles back.“Yeah, jokes and touching. Let’s do that.” His mouth skims Danny’s neck and a hand lands in Danny’s hair. Danny instinctively twists his hips to get Stiles’ pressed against his fly.

Stiles has a neck thing. “No hickeys,” Danny wishes that had come out as anything near commanding. He has enough problems without having to deal with those looks and jokes.

“You have a boyfriend, dude.” Stiles punctuates that by biting his earlobe.

Then Stiles’ mouth is back on his and Danny doesn’t really care about tomorrow.

Loud coughing startles him. But not as much as Stiles, who bounces off the bed to his feet as smooth as a gymnast.

Danny closes his eyes instead of looking at the Sheriff.

“I was hoping to avoid this conversation. For all our sakes. Five minutes, downstairs.”

*

Alex never came around to Danny’s place if he could avoid it, so Danny’d managed to avoid the horror of The Talk with his own parents. Danny thinks Stiles would rather have had a no closed doors and no visiting when his dad was out plan instituted rather than have to the full STD/condom use/sexual intimidation talk.

He has a series of texts from Stiles when he gets home.

!!!

You LEFT me here with him? So much suck.

grt scott coming over he smells things

Danny laughs imagining Scott’s face.

Danny settles in for an hour with Rosetta Stone. He’s up to the second level work.

Stiles calls.

“Yes?” Danny tries for dry and can’t because of the laughter he can’t suppress.

“I’m traumatized for life.”

Danny leans back in his chair. “I thought Scott was coming over.”

“That was, like, hours ago. You must be latining.” He sighs. “You’re making me look bad here! I’m getting nowhere with Gaelic.”

“Latin’s more promising, so don’t sweat it.” He means it, but he also doesn’t mind giving Stiles an excuse.

“Yeah,” Stiles says in a soft voice.

Danny climbs onto his bed, on top of the covers, and cuts the lamp off.

They talk on the phone until Stiles’ phone goes dead. Danny falls asleep in his clothes soon afterwards.

*

 

Lydia slots in beside him as he’s walking to English the next day.

“Lyd,” he smiles down at her.

She examines his face for a couple of long seconds before he asks, “So, Latin?”

She makes one of her dismissive noises. “I’m sure you’ll manage. I’ll email you some stuff.”

And he’s suddenly on his own as she bounces down the hall away from him. Or not so much because Stiles is holding his elbow and pulling both of them into the classroom.

“Hi,” Stiles with bright eyes, his cheeks nearly fuchsia..

There’re only a couple of other students in the room. No teacher. Danny swipes a thumb over one of Stiles’ cheeks to see if the skin feels hot. “What’re you so excited about?”

Stiles smiles, just a tiny curve of the left corner of his mouth. “Puh-shah, if I was it wouldn’t have anything to do with you or anything. Because you’re boring and sort of plain looking. No, definitely about how into 19th century poetry I am.” He tosses his backpack on his normal desk. Danny sits next to him instead of in the back corner.

*

Stiles sits with them at lunch. Jackson makes a face like someone farted, but he doesn’t say anything. Serious personal development. Because Stiles is with them, Scott joins as well. This is crossing a line for Jackson.

“What the fuck? Are we all just one, big happy family now?”

Allison plunks her try next to Lydia.

Stiles says “Not a happy family” as Lydia says “Yes, deal with it.”

Danny presses his leg against Stiles’ when Isaac sits down next to Scott. Stiles answers by laying a hand lightly on his knee. Danny doesn’t react because Jackson’s watching him with an eyebrow up. Stiles’ fingernails lift the edge of the inside seam of his jeans over and over, a small fidget that makes Danny smile.

“What?” Jackson barks.

“Did you go off your meds again?” Danny teases him.

“Haha.” He runs a hand through his hair. His shoulders relax. “You should come to the meeting tonight.”

Everyone but Jackson and Danny tenses up in unison. Stiles digs his fingers into Danny’s leg.

Danny shrugs one shoulder and chews the slice of orange in his mouth. “If you want.”

Jackson smiles, the one that looks smug to everyone else but Danny knows covers the fact that he’s unsure, brazening things out so he doesn’t look weak.

*

The meeting’s at seven, on the other side of town, of course.

Danny’s doing his flipping Econ homework, Coach must be psychic when it comes to the wrong days to assign make-work projects. His door snicks open. He’s on his feet and grabbing Stiles by his t-shirt immediately.

“Ok, ok, good, I thought maybe you’d be busy,” Stiles babbles as Danny undoes the buttons on his overshirt. The words stop,, though, and grabs the back of Danny’s head to get their mouths together. Danny shoves the shirt down Stiles arms as his tongue is sucked into Stiles mouth.

When Stiles is free of his shirt, he presses forward so Danny blindly walks backwards until his knees hit the bed and they tumble together in a knot of grabbing hands and shoes flying off. Danny gasps in a shocked breath when Stiles just goes for it, feeling Danny up through the front of his jeans. He flops on his back and Stiles straddles him.

“Do we need to talk like my dad wants? Because I can chill, back off or whatever, but I’m really enthusiastic to get near your dick. If that’s ok.” Stiles leans down to lick at Danny’s open mouth. Danny answers him by rubbing knuckles against Stiles’ fly.

“Kiss me,” Danny moans when Stiles starts thrusting against him with intent. The rhythm’s so steady, perfect, that Danny will reevaluate Stiles’ virginity later. Stiles pulls Danny’s lower lip into his mouth. He sucks hard enough Danny’ll have to avoid his family tonight.

Danny manages to hold Stiles still long enough to at least get their flies open, their underwear at least partially out of the way for skin on skin. He’s shaking, his balls drawing up, and Stiles keeps moaning, this naked, desperate wordless sound that hits Danny in the small of his back.

Danny comes when Stiles starts sucking the thin skin behind his ear. He faintly registers Stiles babbling, “oh god, did you, Danny” and his hips still finally with a rush of wet heat on Danny’s stomach.

They lay like that until they get their breath back, then longer when Stiles starts kissing him again.

Danny brushes a hand over the soft stubble of Stiles hair. He doesn’t want to get up, but it’s bound to be at least six, and they’ll need to swing by the Stilinski’s so Stiles can change.

Stiles flings himself over onto his back dramatically. “Fuck Derek.” He rolls off the bed. “Where’re your tissues?” Danny points to the desk. “Please please let Dad be grocery shopping or at the VFW when we get there.”

Danny dusts himself off, changes his clothes. Stiles watches him, but it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before. Not in the same circumstances, but they’ve been casually naked together before.

*

Derek has a lair. Danny shouldn’t be surprised, but he sort of is. He imagined Derek tucked into a track home hatching his plans from a converted basement full of second-hand furniture with a flat screen tv on the wall. He drives a pretty expensive car.

“You should have been coming to meetings since you found out the truth,” Derek says in greeting. Danny just lifts his eyebrows in response.

“Well, maybe you should have invited him, did you think of that?” Stiles is right there in front of Danny immediately, putting himself physically between Danny and the deadly predator. Danny doesn’t sigh, but just barely.

Derek cocks his head and his frown deepens. “He had to make up his own mind. I can’t decide for him whether he wants this.”

That sounds pretty reasonable to Danny. Stiles sputters, though. Danny grabs his hand and Stiles looks over his shoulder at him. It’s fine, Danny mouths.

“Can we get this shit over with? I need to stick to my workout routine.” Jackson hops up on a table and swings his legs. Lydia stands next to him with her arms crossed over her chest, but she spares Danny a smile. Danny wonders what it means that Boyd and Erica keep their distance from him. Isaac bounces a pingpong ball against the wall rhythmically.

Scott rushes into the room, hand in his hair, lop-sided smile on his face. “Sorry I’m late. Dr. Deaton was showing me how to work the x-ray machine. It’s really cool.”

Derek snarls in Scott’s general direction. “The Alpha pack have gone to ground. You all need to be very careful.” Danny thinks he sounds pained. He also doesn’t know why Scott got singled out for snarling.

“What do we need to look out for?” Lydia watches Derek with open interest. This must be a safe space for her, because she’s not faking anything.

“We’ve hit a dead end on Jackson’s parents.” Derek ignores Lydia completely, something she’s not at all used to. That makes Danny feel bad on her behalf. “Wher’re we with the internet search?” No segue there. Danny figures Derek doesn’t use a lot of padding words like pleasantries.

Derek’s looking at Danny. Stiles frowns so hard it might stick. “Go ahead,” Danny tells him.

Stiles gives him a small smile. “There’s a network of websites in Latin that look legit. There’s a lot of apocalypse talk, recipe exchanges that are probably spells, there’s this one really cool alchemy clearing house--as far as we can tell. Lydia’s coming in as a consultant so we’ll know more soon. Maybe we’ll luck onto something.” He pauses and turns to Scott. “What did Deaton say?”

Scott’s face falls. “Not much. He says he’s internet illiterate.”

“That guy’s not hiding anything at all,” Stiles whines.

“He’s all we have right now.” Derek dismisses Stiles again. Danny isn’t loving that.

“Not anymore,” Lydia tosses her hair over her shoulder and winks at Danny and Stiles.

“Yeah, whatever. You don’t have anything yet.” Derek dismisses her.

“Yet,” Lydia echoes.

*

Danny gets engrossed on a site he thought was cosplay at first. He hacked the code to get to the locked pictures and the more he stares at the prosthetics the more real they seem. Horns and wings mostly, but in all different varieties. Some fairy-like whispy wings, some membranous fluttery wings. The horns are mostly nubbins high up near the hairline, but a couple pairs are full-on ram things.

His phone busses. Wanna come over? He smiles down at the message. When does he not? He texts this sentiment.

His dad’s bent over his computer, light reflecting off of his glasses, as Danny swings through the living room. “Going to Stiles’.”

“The Sheriff should charge you rent.” He waves in Danny’s direction but doesn’t look up.

Danny feels the grin on his face, the tightness in the pit of his stomach that’s started warning him that he’s in this werewolves situation--in with Stiles--with both feet and he’s not minding at all. He hits the button to unlock his car and his hand doesn’t make it to the handle.

*

“...how did that work out for you?” Derek snarls the words more than speaks them. “What part of be careful is too difficult for you to understand?”

Danny startles awake with that eerie falling to consciousness sensation. His limbs don’t respond right when he tries to lift his arms. His eyelids flutter open. He’s looking up into some kind of gloom. The ceiling’s too high to see.

“Dude, I am so pissed off right now! Do you know how mad I am? Do you?” Stiles seems to be ok, so things are looking up. “I’m madder than I was when you swirled the blue and yellow play-dough together! That’s how epically pissed I am.” Most of this rant is shouted, but the end trails off to almost a whisper. Danny assumes Stiles is talking to Scott, but Scott doesn’t reply.

“He’s awake,” Derek leans over Danny.

Stiles is suddenly there, eye black and fingerprints on his throat. He touches Danny’s face, fingers fluttering everywhere. “Hey, hi. That’s you laying there with your eyes open.” He looks more stressed than Danny’s ever seen.

“I feel weird,” Danny’s throat strains against the words.

“Pain meds. Possibly animal pain meds, still not clear on that.” Stiles runs a hand over the top of Danny’s head.

The next face in his line of sight is Jackson. Who’s smiling. His real, huge, clear smile of genuine happiness. Danny tries to smile back, but he doesn’t know if he manages. “Dude, you got bit.”

“By what?” Danny asks. Later he will blame the meds, for now he lets sleep tug him back under again.

*

Danny wakes up the second time in the middle of a huge fight among everyone else. He’s laying on a surprisingly comfortable couch. Stiles has his head in his lap and he’s word vomiting all over Danny.

Stiles’ black eye and neck damage happened when they came for him. Whoever Them, the Alphas, are. Scott was there, so there an actual fight for Stiles. Danny decides the buddy system needs to be utilized more in Beacon Hills. At least Stiles was relatively safe, nothing broken, no concussion. No werewolf bite.

Derek seems less upset that Danny was bitten than pissed off no one’s following his orders about safety precautions.

“Why’re they picking on the humans?” Scott looks baffled and his question is half whine. “What if they go for Allison next?”

Derek ignores the second question. He runs a hand through his hair. “To destabilize the pack. Now there are two wolves in this pack with a different alpha. If Stiles had taken the bite that would be four potential alphas who could vie for your loyalty.”

“Peter can’t,” Scott shot out with heat Danny doesn’t understand.

“That’s why they let us go?” Erica frowns. “We were already wolves?”

Derek nods.

“Wow, thanks for the heads up, man! That wasn’t important to know at all!” Stiles jostles Danny because he talks as much with his body as his voice. He’s not had a helpful or unsarcastic thing to say to anyone but Danny since Danny woke up.

Derek stares Stiles down for a couple seconds that become really tense, Scott suddenly on his feet and Jackson sitting up straighter, Isaac touching the back of Erica’s hand. Derek’s eyebrow goes up. “You want to take him home now.”

Danny feels the command in his bones. He wonders if he’s already changing or if Derek being done with Stiles for the night is that acute.

“Yes,” Stiles flutters down at Danny until Jackson comes to help with the walk to the car.

“This is cool, seriously,” Jackson whispers around a huge smile. Danny rolls his eyes. He feels like he’s dealing with the world from behind bubblewrap.

*

“Maybe it won’t take,” Stiles says for the nth time. They’re skipping school--something Danny has done rarely. They’re laying side by side on Stiles’ bed because Danny didn’t feel like being in his own house.

Danny watches Stiles scrolling through eBay agitatedly. “Would it be so bad if it did?”

Stiles startles, knocking into Danny’s good side, mouth opening and closing. He deflates suddenly. He rubs his eyes. “Do you mean is it a deal-breaker? Have you met my best friend? It’s just. You didn’t ask for this, and...” He trails off.

“It’s all your fault?” Danny elbows him softly. “Because it’s so not.” Danny’s not a blamer. Things happen. You deal with it. But more than that, Stiles never asked for any of this. It just happened to him, too.

Stiles looks at him from under his eyelashes. “Of course you’re going to tell me it’s not. Because that’s who you are. That’s what you do.”

Danny cuts him off by covering Stiles’ mouth with his hand. “One thing at a time, ok? Lets see if it takes.”

Stiles closes his computer and wraps himself around Danny. He sighs. Not freaking out completely will have to do for now.

The situation is so overwhelming that Danny is hovering on the other side of dealing. Mostly Stiles is so wretch that Danny wants to project a totally cool with this vibe so that Stiles will chill out. He’s learned over the years that when you project something hard enough you tend to internalize it after a while.

The biggest issue Danny’s having right now is lying to his family. He knows that’ll change, that what’s happened will intrude in a way where he’ll have to restructure his entire life.. But for now he feels a lot like he did when he had to stay in Beacon Hills for lacrosse camp when his family went home to the Big Island to visit. Lonely without them.

*

Danny snoozes cocooned in a threadbare quilt on Stiles’ bed most of the day. He eats the chicken and stars soup Stiles foists on him.

“Let me look at the bite.” Stiles pushes Danny’s collar to the side to peel at the tape along the edges of the bandage. Danny places his hand over Stiles’ and looks up at him. Their hands are heavy on the ball of his shoulder, but there’s no pain.

Stiles sits back on his feet.

When Danny peels the bandage way there’s only unbroken skin and flakes of dried blood.

“You can freak out,” Danny tells him. It’s probably just better to give Stiles his moment.

Stiles throws his hands in the air. “Why aren’t you freaking out? Huh? Because, hello, big life change here!”

Danny hasn’t even processed this yet. He only has a rudimentary idea of what to expect. Jackson isn’t exactly the sharing type.

Danny reaches up to touch the finger marks on Stiles’ throat. Stiles’ adams apple bobs. “It could have been worse, basically. I’m alive.” He pauses, reaches for Stiles’ black eye, not too bad, just bruised in a half moon under his left eye. “You’re alive.”

Stiles deflates and crashes down on top of him. “How are you even real?” They tangle up together, Stiles kissing the side of Danny’s mouth where it curls up into a smile.

There’s a loud series of raps on the door. Stiles acts like he’s going to ignore it, his hand sliding into Danny’s hair until the Sheriff shouts “STILES, NOW!”

With sighs and dragging feet Stiles stumbles to the door and flings it open.

The Sheriff has his mouth open to let off some rapid fire ranting but catches himself when he gets a look at his son. He braces one hand on the doorframe. “Ok. I came up here to address your truancy and remind you that you’re not above the law. But those,” he points at Stiles’ neck. “Are not lacrosse bruises. I thought we’d already discussed safe, sane, and consensual. Round Two downstairs, five.”

Danny buries his face in the quilt to mask his laughter.

“So he thinks you did this. Danny, quit laughing! My dad thinks we’re into breathplay and that you’re the one on top. My life sucks so hard!”

*

Derek isn’t so bad one on one. He’s not glaring or snarling, which is an improvement. They’re sitting cross-legged across from each other on the floor of the warehouse. The floor seemed clean enough, but Danny’s not going to intensely analyse any patches.

“The change hurts. It’ll get better, and you’ll heal immediately, but it hurts.”

Danny had opted for Derek over Scott for this, after some grumbling from Stiles. But even he had to admit in the end that Derek knew more.

“Are you going to chain me up?” This is what always happened on tv, but The Vampire Diaries isn’t exactly a documentary.

“I can. Or I can contain you while you figure out a focus that will let you control your wolf. The pack can contain you.” Maybe Derek seems so much more approachable because he’s wearing sweats and a holey t-shirt. Danny’s mind wanders over that while he absorbs pain and confinement and finding his zen.

“I’d rather do without the chains.”

Derek’s chin lifts a little and he sniffs a couple of times. “You’re not like the others. You’ll be fine.”

This is a dismissal, because he glides to his feet and walks away. Danny appreciates the view. He wonders how he’s different.

*

Then there’s this whole thing.

“Derek doesn’t have to be your alpha. You don’t have to join his pack.” Stiles is adamant on this. Danny thinks about letting this go, that the high road would be to let Stiles work his own issues out. But they all have to make this work.

Danny rolls on his side and closes Stiles’ laptop. He picks it up and sets it over the side of the bed. He grabs Stiles’ shirts so he’ll wiggle down to align their heads.

“We’re all already in his pack. Me. You. Scott. Lydia. Jackson. Allison, when she recovers. The Boyd-Isaac-Erica unit. As much as you hate it, we’re in this together. Already.”

Stiles splutters, nonverbal. Danny rubs his thumb over Stiles’ bottom lip.

“Why the internet research? That was just a hobby? You did it for them, to keep everyone safe. You’re not Derek’s biggest fan, but you’ve put yourself at risk to keep him safe.”

“For Scott.” The protest is weak, though, the words croaked out.

Danny wants so much for Stiles to be happy, to adjust to his place as part of a whole. Stiles needs to belong as badly as Jackson does. He’s just not as obvious about it. Danny presses his face into the unbruised side of Stiles’ neck, takes a deep breath, surrounded by the smell of him. He flicks out his tongue and tastes earlobe, jaw, throat. He tastes any skin he can reach.

Danny sits up abruptly, Stiles’ taste lingering in his mouth. “So that was a thing that happened.”

Stiles is sprawled on his back, eyes almost all pupil, throat shiny with spit.

“Whoa,” drops out of his mouth low and elongated. His eyes alight on Danny’s face. “Do you want to mark me?”

Danny couldn’t have articulated exactly what it was that he wanted. But that sounds right. Stiles whips off his shirts and grabs for the hem of Danny’s. Stiles is more built than his baggy clothes suggest, sculpted like a runner. Danny reaches for his own belt and watches Stiles watch him.

“Ok, we can do pants, too.” Stiles reaches for his own, but Danny grabs his hand. He presses it against the button on his own fly. Stiles scoots closer and pops Danny’s fly one-handed as the other runs up the midsection of Danny’s body. All smooth glide, and fingers tugging the zipper.

What starts sweet rushes towards frantic as they both kick their pants off, hands snatching at hips and Danny’s teeth brushing any of Stiles he can get. He smells better than Thanksgiving, better than new car smell. Danny wants that scent all over him. He’s so wrapped up in rubbing his face everywhere and anywhere that Stiles’ hand on his cock is almost an afterthought. The fingers and friction feel good, but he’s more interested in wallowing.

He slides down Stiles’ body, far enough Stiles’ hand falls away. Danny gets his knees under him on the floor and presses his face into the rough hair on Stiles’ belly and lower, runs his nose down his cock. This was what he was after. Stiles’ hands are in his hair, his voice drifting through the room. When Danny opens his mouth to suck Stiles down stray drops fall out because his mouth is watering so bad.

Danny fades away to taste and smell his mouth on autopilot and his body wired. After Stiles comes, when he’s tugging at Danny’s hair to get him to back off, the world pops back into focus, still muted at the edges, but concrete. He can feel where he came all over himself and maybe one of Stiles’ shoes. He knocks it all the way under the bed.

“Jesus fucking polar bears. Are you always like that?” Stiles has an arm over his eyes. His chest and face are livid. Danny manages to crawl up beside him, but just barely.

“No. This is new.” Danny’s voice is wrecked, his throat raw. He feels sated in a way he’s never associated with sex. Content. He throws an arm over Stiles chest, listens to his heart rate decline. “I can hear your heart beating.” His jaw cracks in a yawn.

“The neighbors probably can.” He rests his hand over Danny’s.

*

The end of the school year is a blur. Exams. Dodging his parents asking awkward questions. The Sheriff throwing raised eyebrows all over the place. The full moon looming. Stiles.

Stiles changes the brand of soap he uses, for example. Danny’s standing by him in the hallway, locker door open.

“This is going to be weird no matter how I put it.” Danny sighs. There are parts of his personality he doesn’t appreciate having stripped away by being bitten. Danny doesn’t like feeling possessive. He gets pissed off at himself which shouldn’t be something he has to deal with.

Stiles leans his hip against a locker and smiles. “Shoot. Weird is what I do.”

“Could you change back to your old soap?” The irrational irritation sucks.

Stiles’ mouth dips on one side. “Uh...”

“Just until the end of the week. Derek says...” He breaks off because he hates this the most. “I won’t be myself until after Friday, and you smell weird and it’s,” he sighs. “It’s sort of pissing me off?” He ducks his head and looks at Stiles from under his eyelashes, feeling shitty. “I’m sorry.”

“Oooooooookaaaaaaaay,” Stiles straightens up. “I’ll have to buy some, but I can do that. No one wants to see you when you’re angry.”

Stiles outscores him by three points on their English final (93/96). For the first time Danny wonders what phase of the moon the AP exams are going to fall under.

*

He’s meditating on how beautiful Stiles is--the curve of his lower back, the perfection of his skin, the jut of his wrist bones--computer open on his lap but forgotten.

“Seriously, I hate you being in love. It sucks. You haven’t been at dinner in weeks.” Sara’s in the doorway of the living room. She has one foot against her other knee, balancing as she twists around, frowning. “I miss you.”

Danny’s stomach bottoms out. He sets his computer on the coffee table and waves to her. She smiles, dimples popping out, and skips over to him, flying into his side and curling up. Her scent is all around him, lipgloss, Fructis conditioner, gummy vitaminsfabricsoftenerdietcokeherherSara.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been around.” He lifts his arm and she snuggles into him.

“Whatever. You’re damaged. Are we really watching Ellen? You’re so gay.” She doesn’t reach for the remote.

He laughs, her presence grounding him as usual. “Really? I thought being into dicks was a side effect of my medication.”

“Your face needs medication.” She sighs happily. Her cotton candy smell wraps around him and he sighs in agreement. “I’m going to grab your hot boyfriend’s butt when you’re not looking.”

“You haven’t done that yet?” They both laugh. Ellen dances up the risers of her audience.

*

Friday afternoon, Stiles drives Danny out to the woods in his repaired Jeep. Stiles is tense, profoundly. Danny brushes the back of his hand over his neck, his cheek. He grips his knee.

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Stiles fiddles with the radio. They’re suddenly listening to a report about a food bank on NPR. “You have to let me be me. I’m freaking out. I’m going to keep freaking out. It was bad enough when it was Scott. I mean, he’s Scott, so who knows what could happen? But...” He glances over, just a flick of his eyes. He licks his lips. “Anyway. You know.”

Danny runs a finger over the shell of Stiles’ ear. “Yeah. I know.” Danny’s resigned and curious. He does his best to project placidity to Stiles, but at the same time he knows there’s no real point. He wants to get through this, get it over with.

When they pull up to the clearing, everyone’s already there. Derek’s leaning against his car with his arms and legs crossed. Scott and Jackson are glaring at each other, arms also crossed. Erica and Lydia are trading lip gloss back and forth. Boyd and Isaac are discussing something on the screen of one of their phones.

Derek strides over to him when Danny gets out of the jeep. Everyone else’s heads come up, tracking Derek. Jackson waves with a half smile.

“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Derek says, chin up, hands in his pockets.

Stiles plasters himself to Danny’s side, but he doesn’t say anything for once. Derek narrows his eyes and sniffs once. He rolls his eyes.

“You’ll be fine.” Derek says and strolls away.

“What the hell does fine mean, huh?” Stiles whines. Danny touches the back of his neck and Stiles melts a little bit more into his side.

“It means fine,” Danny swipes his mouth against Stiles’ cheek. “Don’t freak.”

Jackson steps up to them. “Dude, this is some righteous shit.” He shoulder bumps Danny and he doesn’t douche at Stiles which is a serious improvement. “We’re the top of the food chain.”

“Lydia and Stiles should stay in a car.” Derek reaches for the hem of his shirt and yanks it over his head. “Everyone should strip.”

Danny turns to Stiles as Erica unbuttons her jeans. Stiles is rigid against his side. “Scott did this.” Danny doesn’t elaborate, because he doesn’t want to be a total dick, and Scott can probably hear him.

Stiles bleats out a small laugh. “Yeah, ok. Ok. I know.” He wipes a hand over his face. “I get to be worried. You can’t take that away from me.” He puts on his serious face. “I get to worry.”

Danny leans down and catches his mouth, applies tongue liberally. Derek’s hovering at the edge of the clearance, clearly waiting for him when Danny breaks away. He pulls his shirt up and off and tosses it to Stiles. “Car.”

The sun’s just clearing the horizon, but Danny can feel the tug of the moon low in his belly. This is new, pristine. He leaves his clothes and shoes piled next to everyone else’s. One of his last purely human thoughts is how weird it is to abandon your clothes in the middle a of a clearing in the woods.

Everything is sharp focus, the smell of dirt, pine sap, skin, the sounds of startled birds and beasts. He’s part of that, part of everything/i>. Then he’s nothing but pain and the urge to kill.

*

He’s covered in rabbit gore, his human teeth coated in blood, he thinks about belonging, about his family--the way his dad never wears matching socks, the smell of his mom’s perfume, Sara’s delighted shrieks when thunder starts rumbling in the distance. He thinks about the curve of Stiles’ ear, his variable heart rate. He hears Jackson’s barked laughter in the back of his mind.

He breathes.

He grounds himself in how tangled up with so many people he loves he is. He stills himself like Derek told him to.

He senses Derek very close. He focuses harder and he can feel the others. The pack. He recognizes them moving in a pattern, weaving in and out of each other’s orbits. Instinctively he knows they’ve pacing the clearing where the cars are. Where Stiles and Lydia are. They pack’s protecting the humans. Derek chases Jackson through the trees close enough to actually see. Danny takes off after them. The moon’s heavy in the sky and the forest is bright with possibility.

*

At moonset Danny gets herded back to the clearing by way of a bitterly cold stream by Scott. His clothes are stacked in a neat pile next to his shoes when he emerges from the treeline. That would be Lydia. Danny dresses with quick efficiency, doesn’t watch anyone else out of the corner of his eye. He feels Derek approach. His awareness of the others is different now, honed.

“You did well,” Derek whispers from over his left shoulder. Danny doesn’t turn, but he nods.

Stiles is asleep in the passenger seat of Danny’s car. Danny watches him through the window, his heart aches at Stiles’ open mouth and awkward twisted limbs. He can hear everyone else moving around in the blackness. He can smell Stiles all over his clothes even over the traces of blood under his nails. As he reflects, Danny’s different, but he’s still himself.

Stiles startles awake when Danny opens the car door.

“Hey.” He rubs a hand over the top of his head. “I can drive. Just more room on this side.” Stiles’ jaw cracks around a yawn.

Danny slides the keys in the ignition. “Naw. I feel like driving a little recklessly.”

Stiles smiles at him, one quirked corner of his mouth. Danny smiles back and whips onto the forest track.

*

All in all Danny’s life is no less as awesome as a werewolf. Maybe he’s even better off. He has the pack now, a new family. So he has two families, which is way cooler than he would have anticipated.

He has Stiles.