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Say Something

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The world is wrong.

This isn’t new information; for Stiles, the world hasn’t been right since his mother died. There are spaces in his childhood—a whole, huge person—he can’t speak of without losing control of his voice. The changes started when he was little and his mom died, and then everything changed again when Scott was bitten, and then again with the Jackson-Kanima massacres, and things seem to still be changing and the world just keeps getting more and more wrong. Stiles often thinks that he would very much like to rewind time to when the world was right.

But despite all the wrong things that exist, all the shape-shifters and bloodthirsty creatures and murderers and fucking resurrection, Peter Hale’s fucking Jesus Christ moment, nothing that is both wrong and useful has turned up—there is no time travel, there are no superpowers for the geeky, wrong-footed, awkward kid, no cape for the Robin. This isn’t Harry Potter. Stiles won’t ever be able to fix everything; it will all continue to be wrong. And often he can’t sleep because he is the reason that Scott was bitten; he can’t sleep because this is the price he has forced his friend to pay for callous curiosity; he can’t sleep because of so much, there is so much that tangles in his mind and leaves him with his pillow pressed over his head, trying to suffocate all the wrongness out. It never leaves. It just burrows deeper. Someday he’s afraid it’ll spill from his mouth in blackened words, will wind insidious around his father and Scott’s mom and all the brilliant people who are not crazy the way he’s starting to think he is, the way the pack is.

Some nights he stays up on his laptop, reading articles about this stupid world he’s uncovered. But they’re awful articles, always poorly written and often archaic. They make his head hurt even more. He used to occupy himself by dreaming about Lydia—fantasies that he thought might come true someday maybe—but since Jackson, since everything, that feels wrong, because maybe he still loves Lydia, but she loves a jackass of a werewolf who was a murderous lizard and if she lasted through all of that then it seems unfair for Stiles to create a her in his mind who would choose him. There’s enough wrongness in this world without him adding to it.

And so insomnia takes him, and he gives in. He drinks coffee until early in the morning and has developed even more of a twitch and his speaking rate is up to some outrageous level and he is so tired, so tired. He has sand in his eyes and he wants to talk to someone about it, but he’s put his dad through enough and Scott is sad over Allison and there is still no one else, is there? These are the things Stiles realizes around four in the morning, the things that make him dig his blunt nails into his thighs to try and think of anything but what’s going through his head. Of anything but how alone he is.

All of this is more confusing when he’s not alone, though. Sometimes a shape will appear at his open window and launch itself onto his carpet; always very very late, or very very early; always louder than necessary; always Derek Hale, who hates Stiles.

Derek hates Stiles, except on a few days, when he’s feeling vulnerable. Then Stiles becomes something like a fucking teddy bear to a big bad werewolf who’s too stubborn to admit he never actually grew up.

The first time it happened was three nights after Jackson kissed Lydia and the alpha pack captured Boyd and Erica, one night after they reappeared, physically unharmed but psychologically a little shaky.

That time, Derek fell into his bedroom and grumbled something about “Fucking betas, fucking second floors,” and blinked at Stiles in the odd glow from a Wikipedia page on his computer screen. Derek said, “Thought you’d be sleeping,” and Stiles covered his hysteria with his pillow, but Derek could still, of course, hear the wheezing laughter and the fast rate of his heartbeat.

Stiles finally dropped the pillow. “Good morning to you, too. Has someone died? Or was it meant to be my death—were you planning on murdering me in my sleep? I would have thought that you’d be more interested in the screaming and the struggling aspect of killing people, but then, sometimes people surprise me. Sorry if I messed up your plans by being awake. You can still have a go at me, if you want. I’m apparently very fun to attack. I make a good victim.”

Derek rubbed a hand over his face, and Stiles noticed that his fingers were dark with dirt, his fingernails lined with it. “It’s raining. Or it was.”

“Okay.” Stiles glanced at the window. The light from the house across the street was clear, unaffected by the alleged rain, but Derek did look as if he had been playing in mud, just a little. “It was raining. I still don’t get why you’re here.”

And then Derek toed his shoes off, leaving them by the window, and shoved Stiles’s shoulder so the younger boy moved over in the bed. Derek crawled in beside Stiles, curled up on his side facing away from him, and fell asleep.

That first time Stiles decided it was probably wise to let sleeping werewolves lie.

But he does wonder if that theory applies when the werewolf has come to his room six times. Is there some rule for this? Is he allowed to shove Derek awake at some point and ask him why the fuck he’s using Stiles’s bed as a sort of safety zone? Because not only is this very awkward, especially considering that Stiles doesn’t sleep, and so he often finds himself watching Derek sleep, which is all shades of creepy, it also makes hanging out with the pack uncomfortable for Stiles, because Derek and he don’t talk about it. They don’t talk during it, and they don’t talk after it, and Stiles doesn’t understand it. He would be angrier about this, but he doesn’t think Derek understands either, if the way Derek looks in the morning is any indication—all vulnerable with his eyes hard, like they’re daring Stiles to say something, and his lower lip caught between his teeth. It is almost too much.

The seventh time it happens is a Monday and Derek is covered in blood. He doesn’t pause before crawling between Stiles’s sheets.

“Jesus, Derek, what’d you do?”

“It’s fine,” Derek says, pulling Stiles’s extra pillow beneath his head. “I’m all healed.”

“Obviously.” Stiles reaches out and rubs some of the blood from Derek’s forearm. It comes of flaky, dried, and the skin beneath is hot and whole. But the blood is everywhere, dark and more brown than red and it must have hurt like hell when whatever happened happened. “But this is still—what’d you do?”

“It’s nothing,” Derek mumbles. “Leave it.”

“But.” Stiles rubs his thumb and index finger together, the blood flaking to the sheets covering Derek’s shoulder.

“Leave it,” Derek demands, and Stiles sighs and slips from the bed to go and wash his hands. Not that it matters. Stiles will be covered in blood by the morning anyway. This should probably bother Stiles more than it does, but then, so should everything about this situation.

His father knocks at his door the next morning, calling, “Stiles? You’re meant to be at school in twenty minutes,” through the wood.

Stiles moans into his pillow—he finally drifted off for what feels like the first time in weeks around four, and three hours of sleep ought to be better than none, but he’s seriously revising that theory at the moment.

“Stiles?” his dad says again, and the doorknob is turning, and there is a very manly leg tucked between Stiles’s, the angles of a very familiar ankle between his, and dried blood everywhere, and his father cannot see this.

"I’m up, I’m up!” Stiles shouts, frantically rolling over Derek and landing on the floor with a thump. “Don’t come in, I’m naked!” His voice has gone several octaves higher than it’s been since he hit puberty, his heart is pounding faster than it has since he drove his Jeep into a warehouse, and still Derek is asleep, mumbling and spreading further across the bed in an unconscious reaction to Stiles’s absence.

“Okay,” his father draws the word out, and the door remains mercifully shut. “But if you’re not out in ten minutes I’m calling in reinforcements. You can’t be late today, your chemistry teacher gave me a call last week about your attendance, which is, evidently, ‘lackluster.’”

“Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll make it.” Stiles had gone to bed in his clothes from the day before, and he tugs his shirt over his head and undoes his jeans without even glancing at the werewolf in his bed. There’re flakes of blood on both his shirt and his pants, although not as much as he’d expected there to be. He drops them on the floor to deal with later, and crosses to his drawers in his boxers.

Derek makes a confused sound, and Stiles turns his head to stare at him over his bare shoulder. Derek is lying on his back, blinking at Stiles in the morning light. His eyes look hazy. Stiles thinks he hates him.

“Don’t,” Stiles says, and makes a concentrated effort not to rush to get dressed. He doesn’t need to feel inadequate around him. Except that Derek is something like Poseidon and Stiles is something like a wave on an inland lake—no comparison, barely even the same species.

Not even the same species, not really, Stiles reminds himself as he tugs a new pair of jeans over his day-old boxers. He feels rather gross about it, but there’s no way he’s stripping down entirely in front of Derek, and there’s also no way he’s making a concession and taking clean boxers to the bathroom.

“Make sure my dad doesn’t see you when you leave.” Stiles grabs his bag from his desk chair and his computer from the floor by his side of the bed.

“Obviously,” Derek rolls and presses his face into his pillow, “idiot.”

“Or, actually, you could. Getting shot might do you some good,” Stiles mutters as he slips out of his room. He doesn’t hear Derek react, and then he’s reminded of the blood all over the werewolf, and wonders again what happened. He hopes he wasn’t shot; his comments might have been a bit inconsiderate, considering.

None of the wolves are at school that day. This is probably not a coincidence. It is also very lucky, as Stiles must smell more like Derek than he ever has, as usually he’s up in time to take a very long very hot shower involving about half a bar of soap before school, and usually he doesn’t wake up with Derek’s dried blood on him.

He sits with Lydia and Allison at lunch, and they’re both quiet. He finally asks, “Do either of you know what’s going on? Where is everyone?”

Lydia shakes her head. “Jackson didn’t come by last night. I haven’t seen him since school yesterday.” Stiles feels a strange sort of triumph unfurling in his gut, something that feels uncomfortable and victorious at the same time, something that runs along the lines of, my wolf found time to come to me, and the thought leaves him feeling nauseous because no, Derek is not his. That is wrong.

Allison sighs, twists a handful of hair through her fingers, and grimaces. “My dad left around eleven last night and was just getting back when I left for school this morning, but he wouldn’t say anything. He only brought one gun, though, so I think he was just out patrolling. I am so sick of being on probation.”

"Would he have taken you along even if you weren’t? On a school night, and all?” Stiles asks, fishing his phone out of his pocket and ignoring Allison’s glare.

“He trusts me,” she says, her words a scowl.

Stiles shrugs as he texts Scott: Yo, where are you all? Need us to do werewolf reconnaissance?

Scott replies within minutes: No, stay away. Boyd and Derek got into a fight last night over Peter. Boyd’s still recovering and Derek’s run off. No one’s even seen Peter in days. I’m going to look for him in a while, but it’s not pleasant around here.  

Boyd had done that to Derek? Stiles wonders how much of the blood had been Derek’s, and how much had been Boyd’s. He hopes the majority was Derek’s—not for any morbid reason, he doesn’t want Derek hurt any more than he wants any of them injured, but the thought of being covered in Boyd’s dried blood is disturbing.

He looks up at Allison and Lydia, who are both staring at him, wearing identical wide-eyed expressions. “Drama,” he explains, “Boyd and Derek got into it over Peter.” Lydia shivers, so slight that Stiles wouldn’t have noticed if he hadn’t spent years studying Lydia’s every movement. He makes an apologetic face and continues, “So they’re all holed up together, licking wounds.”

Allison grimaces. “Not a good image, Stiles.”

“Accurate, though,” Stiles tells her, because it is. Except that Derek’s not involved in this communal wound-licking, and, wait. He pulls out his phone again and sends another text, You’re going to look for Derek? Or for Peter?

Peter. Derek never leaves for long. Thank God. If Scott’s nose took him to Stiles’s bedroom, there wouldn’t be an ocean large enough to drown him and his embarrassment.

“Everything all right?” Lydia asks, and how long has it been since he’s answered that question honestly?

 “Yeah,” he says, “everything’s fine.”


Derek is gone when he gets home that evening. His clothes have been moved to the hamper, his bed has been made, and his window is, curiously, shut. Derek’s never cleaned for him before, although Stiles supposes he may have felt guilty about leaving blood everywhere. Stiles certainly would have, had he been possessed by a psychotic demon and driven to visit Derek’s bed, or wherever it is Derek sleeps. In the abandoned subway station, Stiles thinks, although it’s possible he’s still hiding out in his family’s burnt-out house some nights, a thought that leaves an acrid taste in Stiles’s mouth.

It isn’t until Stiles climbs into bed that night that he realizes that Derek didn’t just make his bed, he replaced the sheets with soft cotton ones, decorated with characters from Toy Story. Stiles laughs and laughs and laughs until he’s not sure whether the sudden tears are from happiness or a deep sort of sorrow that hangs on a childhood that never really had the chance to take off.


Two nights later there is a violent encounter with three alpha wolves, leaving them all a little threadbare. Stiles and Allison and Lydia had been visiting with the pack—just a quick visit, because it is rare that you see one of them without the others, and sometimes Stiles admits to missing Scott and Lydia wants to see Jackson and Allison likes to torture herself—and then there are three very crazy werewolves among them who do not belong, and everything’s a bit raw and loud and painful after that. 

Stiles makes it out with bruises down his ribs and a few scratches on his face; his father will not be happy but he’ll survive it. Lydia has red scratches along the jut of her collarbone, and Allison is covered in blood, but most of it isn’t hers. None of them were bitten.

The wolves heal quickly, beautifully, the night full of howls turned to screams for seconds before they’re all standing normal and ordinary and bloody but not injured. Stiles envies them that, just briefly, and then Derek’s head twists and he’s off into the night, and Peter and Erica follow him, and Stiles is glad, grateful, that he can just go home. Can indulge his cowardice, because that’s what it is—Derek and Erica and Peter may still die tonight. Stiles hates the thought, the way it worms its way beneath his heartbeat, the way it moves with his pulse. This life, he thinks, as he turns towards the subway’s side exit, this life is so terrible sometimes.

“Hey.” Scott grabs onto his wrist and Stiles pulls away, wincing. Never mind about his ribs being bruised. He’s going to be purple all over in the morning. “Sorry, sorry, just, would you mind giving me a ride?”

“Yeah, sure.” Stiles digs in his pockets for his keys and the two of them are soon sitting in his Jeep, just like old times, except of course, it is not at all like old times, not in the least.

“So, what should I tell my dad tonight? Got into a bar fight over who was going to win the football game?”

“Probably not. There wasn’t a football game on tonight.” Scott is staring out the window, staring and staring as if he can see something more than just the road and the trees and the sky out there. Maybe he can.

“Right.” Stiles scrubs one hand over his face. It comes away bloody. He wonders if Scott knows where Derek and Erica and Peter are. He wonders if he’ll know if they die.

“Tell him you got into a fight with Jackson because he was being a dick. It’s almost the truth.”

“Except remember how Jackson filed a restraining order against us? And maybe it’s defunct now but my dad sure as hell includes that on his list of Top Five Worst Things to Happen Ever.”

“Right. Boyd or Isaac then?”

Stiles sighs. “Maybe I’ll just avoid him until I’m all better.”

Scott’s hands are in fists on his thighs. “Sorry,” he mutters.

“Why? It’s not your fault.”

“It sort of is, though. If I hadn’t—”

“God, shut up, Scott. I was the one who dragged you out into the woods, remember? I should be the one drowning in a pool of guilt.”  I am the one, he thinks.

“But you—”

“Nope,” Stiles interrupts. “You don’t get to feel bad over this. It’s fine. I’ll be fine. My dad will just have to deal with this. Again.”

He pulls into Scott’s driveway. The light in his mother’s room flicks on, and Scott sighs, runs his hand through his hair. “You could stay with us for a few nights. Tell your dad we’re working on a project?”

Stiles considers it, but then he thinks about Derek climbing to his bedroom and him not being there, and for some reason that makes him feel guiltier than the whole rest of this mess, and so he shakes his head. “Thanks. It’ll take a lot longer than a few days for me to heal completely, anyway. My dad will still know something’s happened. Better get it over with.”

“All right, if you’re sure.” Scott slides out of the Jeep and pats it on the hood as he walks up the drive to his house. Stiles mimics the gesture on the vehicle’s steering wheel as he backs into the street.

His father is sitting in the living room when he gets home, an untouched glass of whiskey on the coffee table and a stack of overstuffed file folders on the couch beside him. Stiles ducks his head as he passes to the stairs, hoping his dad won’t notice the blood on his face until he has a chance to clean the scratches a little.

“Stiles,” his dad’s voice cuts this hope in half. Stiles turns, pivots on one foot, so he’s standing in the entranceway facing his father. His dad is up and off the couch in a heartbeat, standing in front of Stiles and pressing his hand to his face before Stiles can blink. “What the hell happened?”

“It’s nothing,” Stiles says, possibly the lamest thing he could have thought of.

“Stiles, you’ve been mauled. This looks like—this looks like an oversized cat or a—not a mountain lion, not, but Jesus. What did this to you?”

“It was—” in hind sight, it probably would have been better to stay at Scott’s for a few days. At least the cuts would have been scabbed over by then. “It was Lydia’s mom’s cat. It’s a monster.”

“Stiles. There is no way a house cat could do that to you.”

“There’s a possibility it’s actually a wild cat that has been domesticated,” Stiles says. “Don’t go chasing them down for illegal pet ownership or whatever, they could totally pay to have the entire sheriff’s department reorganized, you know, plus, it’s normally really well behaved but tonight it was a little crazy, you know, probably with the full moon and everything—don’t animals get crazier at the full moon? It’s next week, did you know? Scott’s mom says the ER gets wild on the full moon.” Stiles trails off. His father shakes his head.

“I don’t know,” he pinches the bridge of his nose, “I have no clue what to do with you. Jesus. Can you just, can you please stop lying to me?”

“I’m—” Stiles begins, but his dad holds up a hand.

“Honest to God, Stiles, if you say one more thing about cats or full moons or Lydia I will—I don’t know, but it will be terrible. Just go to your room, please. We’ll talk about this later.” Stiles lingers in the doorway for a moment. His dad turns his back and lifts the glass of whisky, downing it in one long swallow. Stiles wants everything to turn around.

He punches his wall when he reaches his bedroom. It doesn’t make him feel any better.


Derek always shows up after confrontations, but he doesn’t show up that night. Stiles hates the way this leaves him feeling hollow and nervous, anxious in a way he hasn’t felt in a while. He picks at the cuts on his face all night, peeling the scabs away as they begin to form, and by morning he’s chewing on his bottom lip.

He gives in and texts Derek, Are you all right? even though he knows that Derek hates texting and sentiment. And Stiles, he reminds himself, Derek hates him, so the text is a mistake, but he sends it anyway.

He spends the whole day dodging questions about his face and the bruises that are visible along his collarbone. He avoids being near Allison and Lydia in case someone ties their injuries together, although most people probably already have, but that leaves him feeling anxious and uncomfortable with only wolves around him, and all of them pick up on his emotions. Erica is back, which seems to suggest that the second half of the fight ended all right the night before, but Stiles can’t bring himself to ask, because they’ll hear his heartbeat accelerate and will read too much into it, like always. There’s nothing there, there’s nothing there, only animosity and discomfort and an odd dependency that he doesn’t understand and so will not mention, but if he asks about Derek, and they hear his heart speed up, they’ll exchange glances about him and make assumptions and what if the assumptions get back to Derek and Stiles cannot bear this anymore.

He fidgets all through classes, and sits beside Scott at lunch trying to eat but feeling like doing anything but.

“Dude,” Scott reaches out and stills his shaking hand near the end of the lunch period, “what is going on? Did your dad take it that badly?”

“He didn’t take it well,” Stiles grasps onto the excuse like a lifeline. “I am officially grounded until I tell him what really attacked me last night.”

“So you’re officially grounded until forever?” Scott clarifies, and Stiles nods. “That’s going to make all of this so much easier.”

“I know,” Stiles shoves his plastic fork through the hollow center of a tube of macaroni. “School food sucks,” he mutters, and Scott exchanges a glance with Boyd that makes Stiles feel a little like an amusing puppy.

He’s about to comment on this when his phone vibrates, and he tugs it out, sliding his finger across the screen until the text message opens: Fine.

He closes the text as the werewolves lean in. “Who was that from?” Erica asks, craning to see Stiles’s cell phone screen.

“No one,” Stiles says, as the phone buzzes again. He slips it in his pocket and pushes away from the table. “I’ll see you.”

Scott follows him. “Seriously, Stiles, who was that from? It calmed you down, like, immediately.”

"Scott,” Stiles begins, then shakes his head. “It’s really nothing. A family thing. It’s nothing.”

After all the lies they’ve told over the last year, one would think he’d be better at it. “A family thing? Like, your dad? He’s the only family you ever mention.”

"Scott, leave it.” It occurs to Stiles that he sounds more like Derek than himself, and he wonders whether personality osmosis can happen if you share a bed with someone.

He opens Derek’s second text in the hall, well away from prying werewolves. Why? Derek had asked.

Because the last time he’d seen him he’d been chasing crazy alphas into the woods with his resurrected uncle and Erica, who is sometimes okay and other times scares Stiles shitless. Because Stiles’s insomnia misses a sleeping body next to him. Because the last time he slept over, Derek had closed the window before leaving, as if he hadn’t been planning on coming back. Because Stiles doesn’t understand a thing, and neither does Derek, but Stiles is starting to think he might want to understand something.

He texts Derek back, says, Thanks for the Toy Story sheets. They’re soft.

Derek might read a lot into that. Stiles might want him to.


Scott and Lydia are at Stiles’s house when he gets home from school. 

“You know I’m grounded, right? Pretty sure that means no friends.” Stiles unlocks the door and holds it open for them anyway.

“You’re acting really off, Stiles. We just want to make sure you’re okay.” Their own lives have been far from neat lately, so he knows that it’s nice of them to care enough to come by, but he also cannot handle being under constant scrutiny from every side.

“I’m okay,” Stiles promises. “I am.” Or as okay as he knows how to be, which he guesses isn’t very. But then, he’s never turned into an animal, so he’s got something on almost everyone else in his life at the moment.

“You’re sure?” Scott asks. Stiles glares. “Yeah, all right, sorry. I’ll leave you alone, if that’s what you want. I just really…I miss you. And I worry about you.”

“Me too,” Lydia says, and Stiles wonders if she feels at all awkward. She shouldn’t, but he wonders. He thinks he would like it if she did; he’d like to know he was noticed for long enough to make a difference.

He kicks himself. They’re both noticing him now, noticing and caring; he’s too caught up in what’s happened to appreciate what’s happening, and it makes him ill. It makes him feel selfish and terrible and like the worst friend in the world. He forces a smile, and it feels fake but he hopes they accept it.

“Sorry, guys. I’ve just been—you know.” They know parts of it, not all of it. But Stiles thinks they know enough to understand him.

He hears his father’s car in the driveway and Lydia and Scott exchange a glance.

“Yeah, we know.” Lydia reaches out and squeezes his hand, and he doesn’t feel it the way he used to, to his bones. It just feels friendly, and it’s nice, and his heart is calm; Scott smiles at him.

“Scott. Lydia. Has Stiles told you that he’s grounded?” Stiles’s father is in the doorway behind him, and the tension in his voice is almost painful to hear. He hates being in this role as much as Stiles hates putting him there.

“Yes, Sheriff. We just stopped by to see if he was all right,” Lydia says, despite the glare Stiles shoots in her direction.

“Why would he not be all right? Oh, you mean because he got his face slashed open by your family’s illegal wildcat, Lydia? Or that’s the story I heard, anyway. But you look unharmed.”

Scott grimaces at the repetition of Stiles’s admittedly terrible lie. Lydia reaches up and touches the scarf that hides her wounds from the night before, and Stiles can feel his father stiffen behind him. Clever enough to hide the evidence, but not wise enough to forget it. It’s a common thing, and Stiles’s father is used to seeing it at work. “Or were you injured last night, Lydia?”

“No, no. My cat really just hates Stiles.” She smiles at his father, a wide lip-glossed grin that would have split Stiles’s heart in half six weeks ago. His father seems unconvinced.

“It’s a little warm for a scarf, isn’t it?”

“It’s fashionable,” Lydia says just as Scott’s head jerks toward the window. He glances at Stiles and his dad before coming around the table.

“Sorry, sir, sorry Stiles, I’ve got to get going.”

“Is Jackson,” Lydia begins, and then glances over Stiles’s shoulder at his father and trails off.

“No, just the one. See you all.” Scott is out the door in a few seconds. Derek is around, he’s the only one who travels alone, the only one who can get Scott to come without smelling of blood. Stiles wonders if Derek was here for Scott, or if he came for Stiles. Stiles wonders if he’s going crazy.

Stiles’s dad steps further into the kitchen and leans against the table, palms down. Lydia smiles at him, then squeezes Stiles’s forearm, which is still a bit bruised, and says, “I should get going too. I’ll see you in school, Stiles. Sorry about Roberta, again.”

Naming the made-up cat Roberta should be the worst of their problems, he thinks, smiling at Lydia and turning to face his father as she lets herself out the front door.

“So it’s not just you who’s lying. How big is this, Stiles?”

How big? As big as history and Earth and possibly bigger, Stiles doesn’t know, really. He knows that his father is torn between being grateful that Stiles’s friends are in on it and concerned that they’ve dragged him into something harmful. But Stiles is the bad influence; Stiles is the corrupter.

“Pretty big,” Stiles says, because lies have wound around this house so tightly he can’t breathe through them anymore. If they were good lies, maybe, but they’re all terrible. They’re all lies made to conceal something so unbelievable that everything becomes truth in comparison. Aliens may be more conceivable than werewolves. The CIA would be more understandable than the Argents.

“How big, exactly, Stiles?”

Stiles is struck by a wild urge to laugh, but he bites his lip and stuffs his hands in his pockets so his dad can’t see the way he’s digging his nails into his palms. “I don’t know. I just know it’s big.”

This is all he can give him. His dad seems to sense that. He runs one hand through his hair and pinches the bridge of his nose with the other. “Where’d Scott run off to? That was sudden.”

Feeling immensely bitter, Stiles says, “His boyfriend needed him.” His father’s eyes snap open wide. “Oh, God, Dad. I was just kidding. Scott doesn’t have a boyfriend, he’s not—”

“Who’d he go see, then? And how’d he know he was there?”

“Probably just remembered he had to meet with someone.”

“Which someone?”

Stiles shrugs, regretting the awkward “boyfriend” slip. “I actually don’t know. Scott’s social calendar is getting more and more complicated. He could be meeting with a teacher or with one of his many many friends, you know, or he could have just had an appointment with the dentist—very important to keep your teeth clean.”

“Thanks for the pointer.” His father shakes his head, shrugs out of his jacket, says, “You’re still grounded,” and opens the fridge to get a pile of takeout containers.

Stiles had expected nothing less.