"My Jeep broke down," Stiles said.
Erica's voice rang back through the phone: "And you are calling me because...?"
"Because it'll take an hour and a half before the tow truck gets here, I'm stranded in the woods, and there are scary things out there. Like mountain lions and coyotes. And Derek. And you owe me."
"I definitely do not."
Stiles scowled, not that she could see it. "The Jeep's been futzing out constantly since you, you know, started removing engine parts and assaulting me with them. The least you could do is come keep me company and make sure nothing tries to eat my flesh while I'm waiting for the tow truck."
"Fine. I'll be there soon."
"Greeeat." Stiles let out a shaky breath and hung up. It wasn't like he was paranoid or anything. He just knew full well that all kinds of bad shit happened in these woods. And to think, only a few months ago he himself had gone traipsing through them, looking for dead bodies. Oh, how innocent and young and mind-bogglingly stupid he had been.
It was quiet out. A little too quiet. He could hear insects chirping and branches rustling and all kinds of creepy, horror movie stuff that made him pretty sure he was going to die horribly. (Possibly once he found out werewolves were real, he should have stopped watching horror movies, actually.)
So when someone shrieked "BOO!" he may actually have let out a slightly less than manly, matching shriek of his own, and jumped back in startlement. Except that the next moment Erica was at his side, and she was laughing maniacally.
"You ought to see your face, Stilinski."
"I hate you."
"Then I'm not going to shaaaare," she sing-songed, holding up a grease- and sugar-stained bag. "Donuts."
"Gimme," he said, and she relented. Then tipped her head back and sniffed.
"So you invited me because you're scared of Derek?"
"Well. Not scared of. Exactly," he said.
"Uh huh. Not scared of, like you didn't scream before. Right." She smirked. "I'm just saying, it seems kind of pointless, ‘cause he's definitely close enough for me to scent. And to hear every word. Hiiiiii, Derek."
Stiles stared around, peering into the trees, until he was pretty sure he could just make out moonlight gleaming off a set of eyes. He looked away quickly, a tiny bit uncomfortable. Derek just had the effect on him. And he wasn't scared of Derek, not really. It was just that Derek was intimidating. He was quiet and strong and a freaking werewolf, for god's sake, not to mention really, freakishly attractive. Of course he was intimidating.
"Well," Stiles said, shaking it off as he popped some donut into his mouth, "too bad for him he's all lurky and whatever. Because creepers don't get donuts."
It was possible something in the woods growled. Stiles couldn't really hear over Erica's laughter.
It had been months, but Erica's mother was apparently still not used to the fact that she actually had friends now, and insisted that they were going to do something big and special for her birthday. The kind of party she hadn't had since she was eight, which was the last time she'd had any actual friends. The party turned into a barbeque by the pool, and Erica looked very hot in her bikini top and short-shorts, thanks so much, and everyone from the pack came.
That was actually kind of weird. She was now someone who threw parties that were attended by Beacon Hills royalty Lydia Martin and Jackson Whittemore. Of course, it was also attended by slightly psychotic badboys like Isaac (who was wearing his leather coat in the sun, like the lunatic he was) and Derek (seriously, even he had stripped down to a t-shirt, and dear god, Derek could freaking wear a t-shirt like nobody's business). And wasn't having Derek there just the weirdest thing?
Erica was months beyond being impressed by his alpha routine. Derek may have been ridiculously good looking, but she'd seen real alphas in action now, so for all Derek was trying his best, he just wasn't intimidating anymore. And yeah, it should have been illegal for Derek to wear shirts, because seriously, his body, but she wasn't exactly desperate for his attention or his approval anymore. Most of the time. Something about having her alpha over to her place, spending the afternoon with her family, made her actually want all that again. Made her want him to look around and nod in satisfaction, decide that her parents, her house -- her life -- was okay.
Hell if she was going to let him know that, though.
Which was why, when it was time to start with the food, she pointedly ignored where he was looming nearby and yelled, "Stilinski!"
Stiles turned around to find her so quickly he almost knocked himself over into the pool. Which would have been great. She made a mental note to see if she could find a way to push him in later. But in the mean time, she gestured him over.
"You beckoned?" He glanced at the trays of waiting-to-be-cooked burgers and hotdogs. "Lemme guess, you need me to go on an emergency condiment run or something?"
"Nope." She grabbed her father's grilling apron and tossed it at him. Glanced at Derek, who was frowning at them, and grinned. "You're grilling with me."
"I what? Seriously? You trust me with fire?"
"Well, most of us want things on the rare side," she said. "So I figured it'd be a good plan to have a human make sure the burgers are edible for my parents and the rest of you mortals."
"O...kay," he agreed, and it was a good thing she found his confusion endearing. But he didn't object, just strapped on the apron and accepted the spatula she handed him.
"Look at you," she mused after a few minutes, when they'd managed to get the grill heating up and it turned out Stiles actually knew what he was doing -- apparently he and his father had some kind of barbeque tradition every summer. She ran a hand down his arm, impressed with how toned it was despite the fact that he didn't have any supernatural skills to help his physique, and came to rest with her chin hooked over his shoulder. "All manly and rugged."
"Yep, that's how people describe me," he said, turning his head slightly to glance over at her. "‘That Stiles Stilinski, he's so manly and rugged. I bet he wrestles bears for fun.' That's what they all assume."
She laughed, and whoa, hey, did Stiles blush a little? That was... that was definitely interesting.
"Well," she said, detaching herself from him, "I don't know about bears, but if you ever feel like wrestling a wolf, let me know. We could make that happen. Mud might be involved. Or Jell-o."
He gaped at her. "Seriously now, she-wolf?"
She nodded. "Yeah. Wouldn't be too hard to talk Isaac or Boyd into it. That would be cute." She tweaked his nose. "Get back to the grill, manly man."
He laughed, still blushing a little, and looked back at what he was doing.
And somewhere nearby, she heard Derek growl a little bit.
That was interesting, too.
Stiles was doing his homework, tapping his pen while he thought.
Well... okay, Stiles was tapping his pen, mostly, playing with the different noises it made when it thudded his notebook, textbook, desk, knee, and the side of his computer monitor. But he was sort of doing homework, and completely lost in the pen thing, when his phone screeching split the silence. He scrambled for it, surprised to see Erica, of all people, calling, and answered it with, "Hey."
"I need your help," she said, no preamble, but she sounded genuinely distraught.
"What's going on?" He was already standing, reaching for a hoodie to take on the road with him. "Where are you?"
"I'm right outside. It's not -- this is so stupid. Come let me in, please?"
"Be right there." He hurried downstairs, dropped his phone on the kitchen table as he walked by, and yanked the door open. Erica ducked inside, wearing a black hoodie with the hood pulled up and only a few locks of blond spilling out. Her hands were tucked inside the pockets. "Are you okay?"
She shook her head. "Can we go somewhere private?"
"There's no one home," he said. "My dad's working late."
"Yeah, but." She looked away from him. "Windows. Super hearing. You know, that kind of thing.".
"Um." He shrugged, then began to lead the way upstairs. "I can't do much about super hearing, but, uh. Sorry, I hope this doesn't freak out the super-smell thing you werewolves have going on." He pushed open the door the bathroom down the hall from his bedroom. "It's the only room with no windows."
"It's fine," she said, and dragged him in with her, then shut the door.
"So...what's going on?"
She bit her lip, then, "Promise not to laugh at me?"
"I, yeah. Yeah, of course," he said, completely not sure what had happened. He was used to werewolf crises that were more along the lines of let's-stop-the-murderer than please-don't-laugh.
Erica pushed the hood down, then started to unzip her sweatshirt. "I got my belly-button pierced. Derek told me not to, but I did it anyway, because screw him. It's my body."
"Okay," Stiles said.
"It. Um. Hurts." She looked awkward and shy, more like she used to before the bite, but then she took a breath and shook her head a little. She pulled the hoodie off entirely, revealing just a lacy undershirt -- What's the word for it when it was a girl's undershirt? Cami? Or something? Stiles's brain helpfully wondered -- then pulled that up over her head, too. Which left her in just a pink bra above her jeans.
Stiles swallowed. The bathroom suddenly felt really, really small.
"Focus," she said, strained.
"Right. What am I focusing...oh."
The source of her discomfort was pretty immediately obvious: all of the skin across her impressively defined abs was reddish-purple and looked almost... rubbery. Like some kind of horrific rash that was turning her into a tire. He nudged her back against the sink and counter, then pushed the toilet seat and lid down and sank down on it, which left him level to look at her stomach without accidentally staring at her boobs instead. Which was... pretty goddamn difficult, actually, since they were right there and even though her bra wasn't anything fancy it was still the first time he'd seen a girl actually stripped down to a bra and Erica was... well, ridiculously attractive. But that was really, really not important at the moment.
Squinting at her belly-button, he could just make two spots of gold. The navel right. Right.
"It's bad, right?" She sounded a little desperate. "What's happening? I'm not allergic to anything, but it hurts and it's not getting better. Why the hell doesn't my healing work like everyone else's?"
He grimaced, remembering her seizure in the library, right after the kanima attacked them -- weeks after Derek had given her the bite. They'd needed to injure her to get her healing factor working again back then... He frowned, not willing to try that route out unless he had to.
"Why are you asking me?" he asked instead, still peering at her stomach.
"Because you're smart, okay? You know things." She swallowed. "And I can't go to Derek. Swear you won't tell him. Swear."
"Yeah, of course," Stiles said, even though Derek had an uncanny ability to sniff out secrets. "But if we can't figure this out, then you might have to..."
"Can't you think of anything? Come on, Stiles. I'm desperate here. It's awful."
"Have you tried taking the ring out?" he asked. "Maybe it's just infected."
"Then why wouldn't it heal like normal? If I take the ring out, the piercing will heal, too."
Taking it out. He blinked. "No, you have to. I bet that's what -- it's like why hunters use arrows, I bet!" He looked up at her, trying hard not to notice the fact that from this angle, her face was framed by her boobs. "Because you can't heal until you get the arrow out. Well, maybe this is like... your body is trying to heal the piercing. But it can't, because the ring is still in. So it's doing...this."
She frowned. "I don't want to... okay, no, you're probably right. Can you get it out?"
"Um. Maybe? Sorry, this is..." He felt his face go red as he reached for her stomach. The skin was as weird to touch as it looked like it would be, and it was even thicker and darker around her belly button. Which made getting the ring even more difficult. And, ught, it was all crusty around the piercing. Grimacing, and definitely no longer turned on, he managed to finally tug until something gave and the gold bar came out. "Groooooss," he said, and reached up to put it on the sink counter.
She scowled at him. Like it was his fault her freaky werewolf powers had done something weird to her body. But almost as soon as the ring was gone, some of her skin started turning pink and soft again.
"Well, look at that," he said, grinning. Her body's response was actually pretty remarkably quick. "Foreign object gone, rash-thing disappearing. Score one for Team Stiles."
"Thanks," she snapped.
"Hey, I was doing you a favor! Turn that frown upside-down, she-wolf."
She narrowed her eyes. "I liked the navel ring. I wanted to keep it, idiot, that's why I got it even when Derek said not to."
"What's the big deal?" he asked, stand up. "It's just some jewelry."
"The big deal is that it's my body and I liked -- it was sexy, okay?" She looked away, down, glaring at the shower's floor instead of him.
"What?" He started to laugh, then remembered he'd promised not to when her glare turned back to him, positively dangerous with rage. He held up his hands in defense, the laugh dying in his throat. "It's just, Erica, you're like... the sexiest girl I've ever seen. Navel ring or not."
"I don't feel..." She trailed off, looking away again. "Besides, if I'm so sexy, how come you were always so hung up on Lydia? How come you never...?"
She stared at him. "Stiles, I'm standing here in my bra."
"Yeah, believe me, I noticed," he said, trying very hard to keep his voice from cracking, because she was. She was standing there in her bra, in his bathroom, which still felt really...really...tiny. He swallowed.
"Standing here, in my bra," she repeated, "and you won't even look at... anything."
"I, um, I wasn't, I didn't," he sputtered. "I mean, you had a... a health issue, I wouldn't take advantage of -- holy shit."
Because Erica took his hand in hers and pressed his hand against her rack. He stared down at it for a second, at his hand splayed open, palm cupping her chest, and then looked up at her.
She was staring at him expectantly.
"I...oh." He stroked his thumb across some of the flesh above her bra experimentally, honestly not quite sure what to do, because... boob. In his hand.
"Is that a good ‘oh'?" Erica asked.
Stiles looked back up at her face, then down at her chest, and then up at her face again and nodded, as he realized for the first time that she was maybe kind of...nervous. About him seeing her like this. About him touching her. About the whole thing. Which, whoa. Erica, the badass, leather-jacket-wearing, ridiculously sexy werewolf was nervous about him.
"Can I kiss you?" he asked.
She grabbed his shirt and pulled him closer, trapping his hand between their bodies as she crushed her lips against his. And it was... okay, awkward, but she smelled good. She tasted good. He slid his lips apart, just a little, and then there was tongue and his hand was still pressed against her skin and yeah, this whole thing had potential. Really, really awesome potential.
When she let him go for long enough to breathe, he smiled at her, a little winded just from... well, just from making out and groping, which was ridiculous, but he was used to feeling ridiculous. It was almost comforting.
"Ummm," he said. "Not to be too forward, or anything, because this is awesome, really really awesome, and I don't want to mess it up. But the thing is, the bathroom is kind of cramped, and my bedroom is right down the hall. We don't have to do anythi -- okay, yeah." She had already started moving by the time he finished talking, grabbing his hand and pulling him down the hall. And Stiles had never really thought too much about it, but hell, he could definitely get into the idea of a girl taking the lead and pushing him around a little.
When they spilled into his bedroom and she pushed him down on the bed, he decided yeah, he could get into that a lot.
"I, um, should probably warn you," he said, as she straddled his thighs, reaching around to, holy shit, unhook her bra, "I'm not exactly all that... all that experienced. With girls. In that I don't have any experience at all."
"You want to know a secret?" she asked, dropping her bra on the floor, which meant, wow, boobs. Naked boobs. Right there. Stiles just barely managed to nod, and she continued, "I'm... not that experienced either."
"You're not?" he said, not thinking. And then, "Shit, I didn't mean like... fuck my life."
She punched his shoulder, kind of playfully, kind of actually hard. "How about this?" she suggested. "We screw around a little, and you don't talk."
He grinned up at her, made a zipping gesture across his lips, and she smirked as she landed on the mattress next to him. Then it was all -- well, mostly it was a lot of accidentally rolling onto her hair, and elbows everywhere, and for all boobs were amazing he wasn't actually sure if he was supposed to, like, pinch them or rub them or what. But on the other hand, Erica was pretty good at putting his hands where she wanted them, and she was one hell of a kisser (not that he had much to compare it to), and she peeled off his shirt and skin on skin was kind of incredible, and then her hand slid down, down, down --
"Shit!" Erica yelped and jerked back like she'd been burned, almost falling off the bed, and scrambled for her bra.
"What? What happened? What did I do?" Stiles yelped back, panicking.
"Nothing, but your dad just pulled up outside. Oh, oh fuck, my shirt is still in the bathroom, he's about to come inside --"
"I'll get your shirt," Stiles said, reaching for his own. "I'll... why is he home? Aaarg, I'll just go get it and --"
"Stiles? Stiles!" His dad's voice rang up from downstairs.
Stiles knew that tone. It was actual panic, like when he'd called to tell his dad the first time he'd crashed the Jeep, and his dad had been so afraid something had happened to him. (It hadn't been more than a little dented, and Stiles didn't even have whiplash.) But he winced. "I have to go talk to him. I'll be right back."
She nodded, grabbing a sheet to wrap around herself in the meantime.
"Be right there!" Stiles hollered, pulled a flannel shirt over his t-shirt, and started down the stairs. "What are you doing here, Dad? Aren't you supposed to be patrolling? Who's out keeping the streets of Beacon Hills safe, huh?"
"You called me," he said, as he grabbed Stiles into a hug. "Are you okay? What happened?"
"I called what now?" Stiles shook his head. "I've been upstairs all night. Doing homework."
"You called me," his dad repeated. "From the house line, so it couldn't have been an accident. But you didn't -- I tried to call you back but you didn't answer your cell."
"I..." He looked around and saw it lying on the kitchen table. "I left it down here." He pointed. "I must not have heard it over my music. I didn't call you, dad. You must be going," he whistled and made a screwy gesture around his ear. "Old age or something."
"Stiles." His dad frowned. "Nothing is wrong? Nothing is going on?"
"Look me in the eye."
Stiles sighed and looked his father in the eye. He felt kind of guilty that he could do that, but, well, nothing bad was going on. He just had a girl in his room. A really, really hot girl, half naked, in his bedroom. And while his father probably wouldn't exactly approve of that, it wasn't like it was explicitly against any rules. Mostly because his father had probably never considered it as a possibility, but still.
"Dad," Stiles said. "Nothing is wrong. I didn't call you. No calls coming from inside the house." He made something like a spooky hand gesture, his voice warbling.
"Okay, okay. I was in the neighborhood anyway, I just -- don't stay up too late. I mean it."
"I won't," he said.
"You know I'll see the light on when I drive by."
"I know, Dad."
"Okay. Okay." His dad half-hugged him again. "Be good, kid. Call if you need me."
"I will. Love you, Dad."
"Love you, too."
He waved as his dad left, then let out a deep breath and dashed for the stairs. He grabbed Erica's shirt and navel ring from the bathroom, then hurried back to his room. "Sorry about that. I don't know why he thinks someone called from the house..."
She paused in pulling on her shirt to sniff the air, then her eyes narrowed. "I do. Son of a bitch."
"Hey," Stiles said, coming back into the room from cleaning up and trashing the condom. "Hey, I got something for you. It's... it's stupid, but. Yeah."
Erica rolled over and grinned at him. She was still all warm and flushed and in a really, really good mood. Because Stiles was... She'd discovered over the last few weeks that what he lacked in experience, he made up for in enthusiasm, and even though he put his foot in his mouth constantly, he was more than willing to do plenty of other things with his mouth that made him totally worth hooking up with. Plus he took direction well, and he was really worried about her satisfaction. So she couldn't complain.
Except she was kind of worried that maybe this was a bigger thing for him than it was for her. Not because she didn't like him, but because she didn't really have time for a relationship, between school and pack stuff, and besides, there was no way to really date Stiles without it being all... complicated. Because Derek... well, he'd always been kind of a creeper, but since she and Stiles had started screwing around, he'd been lurking nearby constantly. And maybe Stiles hadn't noticed, but the way Derek looked at him made it pretty obvious he felt something for Stiles, and since they'd started messing around, Derek had been even weirder than usual around her, too. Even when Stiles wasn't there. And as much as she liked Stiles, Derek was her alpha, and she didn't want to mess things up with the pack. So yeah, it was complicated.
But just sex? That way was easier.
"Something for me?" she repeated, then teased, "You ready again already?"
He turned bright red. "That's not what I meant! I, um." He grabbed something out of his desk drawer. "It's stupid. Like I said. I just -- thought maybe you'd like it?"
He handed her a plastic bag from some cheesy store at the mall. She dumped the contents into her hand, and... "A fake navel ring?"
He shrugged. "I thought it would be... I dunno. I already think you're, like, the sexiest girl in the world, but..."
"That's just because I let you see me naked."
"That's a little part of it." He laughed off the teasing, like he always did. "But seriously, you're way out of my league. Eventually you're going to realize that, so I figured I should bribe you into continuing to let me see you naked. And you said no to the actual date thing, so."
He said it like a joke, but she could read him better than that and knew it actually hurt him. Not a lot or anything, but he'd really wanted to take her out. She reached for him, kissed him.
"Don't talk about leagues like that," she said. "You're a catch, Stilinski. The dating thing is just... like I said, too complicated right now."
He shrugged. "Sure. Hey, I'll take all this booty call action. Though am I yours or are you mine? You do come here all the time. But then again, it's not like you come when I call. You just show up."
"My parents are home a lot more than yours," she pointed out. "And I'm better at sneaking in and out."
"I only knocked over your coffee table that one time."
"And do you know how hard a time I had convincing my mom you weren't trying to rob us?" Erica laughed. "But speaking of her, I'd better go. I can only have so many late ‘study sessions' before they get suspicious. Though my grades have been a little better since I started cheating off you."
"Another form of bribery for continuing to let me see you naked." He kissed her shoulder, and as she scrambled for the panties she'd left abandoned on the floor, he grabbed her pants and shirt so they were ready for her to pull on.
"I try to be a gentleman."
She kissed him again, then grabbed her backpack and kissed him quickly before heading to the window. "See you tomorrow, Stiles."
He waved, awkward but smiling, and she leapt out into the night. It was nice out, early fall. She didn't need her sweater, even, just paused to adjust her bag across her shoulder before turning towards the street to make her way home. Except a familiar scent flooded her, and she stopped in her tracks.
"You are suck a fucking creeper, Derek." She scowled in his general direction, since scent didn't really let her pinpoint him. "Were you listening in? Watching through a window? That is fucked up, and I don't care if you're the alpha."
"I was not," Derek said, appearing out of a patch of shadows. She started walking towards home, but he said, "The Camaro's parked that the 7-11. I'll give you a lift."
"Maybe I don't want you to," she snapped. "Maybe I want you to just leave me -- leave us -- alone."
He didn't say anything to that, not even his standard snarl about how he was the alpha and she shouldn't question him. Which was the only reason she went with him. If he'd started throwing an alpha hissy fit, she'd have rolled her eyes and walked away, but no, he went all silent and brooding, and apparently Derek having actual feelings was her weakness or something. If it hadn't been, she wouldn't have ended up in this mess in the first place.
"Why don't you just go out with him?" Derek asked her eventually, eyes fixed on the road. "And don't tell me you don't like him. You do."
"Of course I do," she said. "He's funny, he's sweet, he's smart, the sex isn't half bad either. You know why I won't go out with him."
"I never told you not to," Derek said. "It's none of my business."
"No, it's not." She crossed her arms over her chest. "But even if it's not your business, you're still jealous. That stalking would make that obvious even if the scent didn't. Jesus, you should just ask him out yourself. He'd say yes."
Derek didn't say anything to that. Not until he'd pulled up in front of her house, and she was opening the car door.
Then he said: "It's not just him I get jealous over, Erica."
And what the hell did that mean?
"Stiles, I need your help. I need you, I need, oh fuck."
Stiles was already on his feet and moving as he said, "What's wrong? Where are you?"
"Jackson's place, come fast."
"I'm on my way. What's happening? Erica?"
"They've all lost their -- shit! Hurry!" And the phone flashed call ended.
Stiles tossed his phone into the passenger seat and had the Jeep moving before he even had time to wonder. Erica had sounded panicked, desperate. The kind of desperate that meant Stiles did the fifteen-minute drive to Jackson's place in six minutes flat, and oh boy was he going to hear about that from his dad if any of the pedestrians he nearly hit got his plates. But six minutes later, he was banging on Jackson's door.
No one answered it. "What the fuck," he mumbled, and banged again. There was a clatter somewhere inside, but he couldn't make out any words, anyone's voice. Just the sounds of a fight, of furniture crashing around. "Here goes nothing," he added, and let himself in.
"Hello? Hell -- fuck!" Because no sooner then the door closed, he found himself shoved up against it, all six feet of Derek Hale in his personal space. And something weird was going on, because Derek's eyes were rimmed with green. Not red, like they'd been since he'd become an alpha, or blue like they had before then. Bright, freaky, neon green.
"Stiles," Derek said with a smile that looked way, way out of place on his chiseled jawline. "Stiles."
"What's happen--ackmmmmph!" Because Derek's lips were on his, Derek's tongue was in his mouth. Derek was pressed against him from shoulder to hip, one of his legs nudging Stiles's own legs apart, and his hand roaming down Stiles's side. Which under other circumstances he might not object to, but Derek's eyes were glowing all wrong and he didn't look like he was in his right mind, and for all being kissed by Derek was one of the most amazing things that had ever happened to him, he really, really didn't think this was a good idea.
Stiles tried to duck out of his grip, but Derek grabbed his arm with his other hand, kept their bodies pressed together, and kept. Fucking. Kissing him. Until an arm wrapped around Derek's neck and yanked him back, and suddenly Stiles could see Erica behind him. Derek growled, tried to surge back for Stiles, but Erica's grip stayed steady and she manhandled him away.
"How the fuck does he keep getting out?"
"He's an alpha." The calm, reassuring voice of Dr. Deaton came from nearby. "They're powerful."
"Are the others --"
"No. They're... distracted. Hurry, please, before they scent anything."
"But Stiles --" Derek started, struggling, and all Stiles could really do was stand there and gape. Then follow, still in shock, as Erica dragged Derek out of the room, into the kitchen, and towards a door. Stiles could see a staircase leading down when Deaton swung it open for her, and with a hearty push Derek went careening in. Deaton slammed the door and barred it, and Derek howled in -- rage? It didn't really sound like rage. Something vibrated in Stiles's bones, and he knew somehow that it sounded like longing.
"What the fuck?"
"Out, back to the living room, please," Deaton said, and ushered them away. "The further you are, the better. He'll settle down when he can't smell you anymore. Either of you."
"Okay, but what the fuck?" Stiles repeated, as Deaton set about opening windows.
"Scott had an idea," Erica said.
Stiles winced preemptively. "There is a reason I have always been the brains of the Scott-and-Stiles operation."
"It's wolfsbane," Deaton said. "Scott thought it would be a good idea if the pack builds up a stock, make it easier to match up if someone gets dosed with it by hunters. You have to have the exact same kind -- preferably from the same plant -- for the antidote reaction to kick in, and... well. It got out of hand."
"Wolfsbane made Derek kiss me? Why did Derek kiss me?"
"There are dozens of kinds of wolfsbane," Deaton said. "They all do something different. Maybe the Argent bestiary has them catalogued -- at least the main ones-- but I, unfortunately, do not."
"That's kind of a pretty big gap in your mystic knowledge!"
"It's impossible to know every subspecies of the plant," Deaton said, scowling a tiny bit. "Sometimes plants growing right next to each other will do entirely different things and -- anyway, it appears that whatever kind Scott found effects werewolves' mating and reproductive urges."
"It makes them horny," Erica translated. "Like, really, incredibly, uncontrollably horny."
"Luckily, it also makes them stupid. Or rather," she waved her hand, "more stupid than usual. And dulls their reflexes. Which is why we were able to get them trapped in the basement like that, except Derek keeps getting out and trying to -- well, you got a front-row ticket to that show yourself."
"Whoa," Stiles managed.
"Indeed," Deaton said, and Stiles wondered for the first time just how dry his wit was. "Luckily, this particular plant only seems to affect males. And interestingly, it seems that its effects grow more potent -- or at least its symptoms become more pronounced -- when the werewolf can scent someone he's genuinely attracted to."
"Meaning?" Stiles asked, then when his brain caught up with the conversation, "Holy shit. Derek Hale is attracted to me."
"Got it in one, give the boy a prize," Erica drawled.
"And you," Stiles said. "You said he kept trying to jump you."
"Yep. Is it wrong if I'm disappointed that no one else did? Not even Boyd, and we have history. Isaac just went all moony eyed and pleading at Scott, and I don't know what's happening there, but those two haven't even tried to break out of the basement. Jackson keeps sobbing something about Lydia and Danny."
"Whoa," Stiles repeated. Though actually, the Jackson part made a lot of sense to him. His relationship with Lydia was pretty fraught, but she was really, really attractive. And Danny. Danny was quite a catch, too. In fact, the only dude higher on Stiles's dudes-I-wouldn't-kick-out-for-eating-crackers-in-bed list was, well, Derek.
"Scott ordered this plant online," Deaton said. "From someone's Etsy shop. The seller only lives an hour away, and I need you two to go get us some more so I can figure out a way to fix this. In the meantime I'll stay here and keep an eye on things. Erica, I sent the map to your phone. Hurry, please."
"We're on our way," Erica agreed, and nudged Stiles towards the door.
Stiles was still taking it all in, though, even as they piled into the Jeep. Derek was attracted to him, and also to Erica, and suddenly there was a whole world of possibilities in front of him. Though, first things first: "We're never letting any of them live this down, right?"
Erica laughed, and caught his eye when he looked over at her.
Yeah. Definitely a world of possibilities.
The rule, whenever the pack got together, was: no one talked about it. None of them really wanted to, anyway. Derek didn't even want to think about it. The five of them -- him, Scott, Jackson, Boyd, and Isaac -- had all been out of their minds with lust, locked in a basement together, and, well... There were things he was never going to unsee, and things he was never going to forget doing, no matter how hard he tried.
The worst part wasn't even what had happened in the basement. At least down there, they'd all been out of their minds. It was what had happened when he'd gotten out, with Erica. And Stiles. Jesus. Erica had been the perfect combination of soft against his body and strong when she'd shoved him away. He'd only managed to kiss her twice, despite his best efforts, before she'd sent him careening into the basement. (When he sobered up, he'd actually been a little proud of how efficiently she'd taken him down. He hadn't been on his A game, but it was still a sign of how hard she'd been training.) And then Stiles. Stiles, who'd been terrified, but that hummingbird heartbeat hadn't been all fear. Stiles, who had shied away from him every time they'd been in a room together since.
Stiles, who smelled like Erica. And Erica, who smelled like Stiles. Their scents mingled together, crawled over them both, so strong Derek could practically taste it whenever he was near either one. They were delicious, they blended perfectly, and it made him salivate. He knew he should stay away -- that Erica would only put up with him for so long before teasing him about being creepy became a snarling challenge, a demand to leave them alone. Before she went from holding Stiles at arm's length, enjoying a little sex and companionship, to getting serious with him and flaunting it in front of Derek.
He couldn't be with her, and he couldn't lose her as a beta. He couldn't be with Stiles, and he couldn't risk driving Stiles away, and Scott and Erica with him.
So nights like tonight, when the pack had gotten together for training, and then to blow off steam and hang out afterwards, were torture. Because of course Jackson brought Lydia, so Erica brought Stiles. Or Scott brought him. Or he just... showed up. It was hell, sitting around with them. They were back at the train yard, since that was the best place for training, and the old station house was a pretty decent hangout. It had been a few hours since training had worn down, and everyone was tired and even the gossip was starting to wear thin. People drifted off slowly -- Jackson and Lydia for date night (she muttered something about how Danny was not invited, which the pack probably wasn't meant to hear, but, well, super hearing), Scott to go bring his mom dinner at the hospital. Boyd was taking Isaac out so they could go cruising for girls or something. And that left Erica and Stiles.
"So." Derek peeled himself off the wall where he'd been -- standing. Not lurking. "I should get going. Don't have sex where we train."
Erica snorted. "Yep, that was the plan. Just wait for you to leave and get the scent of sex all over this dump. Or, wait, we could go back to Stiles's place, which has a perfectly functional bed."
"Or yours," Stiles said to her. "You've got that canopy thing. It always makes me feel like a princess."
Derek rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Bye." He turned to leave, trying to ignore the tight, disappointed feeling his chest.
"Wait." And, in a flash, Erica was next to him, a hand on his chest to hold him still. "Stop. We need to talk."
He looked down at the hand on his body, then up at Erica's eyes. "I don't think we do."
Stiles got to his feet. "Maybe you should hear her out."
Derek growled. "I don't talk."
"Yeah, I noticed that about you," Stiles said. "You mostly growl and snarl and snap at people, but you don't so much use words. Good thing for you Erica's got a sensitive nose and I'm only mostly oblivious."
"What are you rambling ab--" But he went silent when Erica grabbed his jaw, wrenched his head around, and kissed him.
He reacted on instinct, pushing her away hard and drawing back, vision turning sharp and clear as he let his eyes go red. But Erica's eyes were glowing too, and she smelled so good, and she was pack. She was trustworthy, and not the new, desperate beta she'd been the last time she'd tried this. Derek surged forward, grabbing for her hips, pulled their bodies together, and kissed her.
"Is that what you wanted?" he snarled.
"More or less," she said, smug. "Turn around."
"You don't just get to --"
"Turn. Around." Hand on his jaw again, she nudged his head until he gave in and looked, and found Stiles right next to him, Stiles's scent and Erica's so mingled he hadn't even realized Stiles had snuck up.
"Don't murder me," Stiles mumbled, and then leaned in and kissed him so quickly he thought, for a second, he'd imagined it. But when he licked his lips he tasted Stiles, and what the holy hell was all that supposed to mean?
"Was that okay?" Stiles asked.
Erica let her arms drop and took a step back, giving him space to breathe, to think. As much as he could with their scents assaulting him, mixed together, all over him. When all he wanted was to pull them close, to pull them both close, and let all of that rub off on him, to kiss them and hold them until he'd rubbed off on them, too, and the three of them were so intertwined they'd never feel alone again. But he couldn't, because...
"You know, I think I actually just saw a little cartoon light bulb go on over his head," Stiles mused.
"So have you found a way to make him knock off the sarcasm?" Derek asked Erica.
"Distraction works nicely. But I like the sarcasm."
"You would." He rolled his eyes. "But you two... you really... don't mind? I mean, this is okay?"
Erica smirked, but it was softer around the edges than her usual smirk. "Of course it's okay. We talked about it. You know we both care about you, Derek."
"I guess if it's just..." He swallowed. "Just sex, then sure."
"It's not," Stiles said. "Come on, don't be stupid. It never really was, with me and Erica, and you were always... always there, too. In the back of my mind, and I couldn't even smell you like she could."
"You were miserable," Erica added.
"I was not." Derek crossed his arms.
Erica snorted, and for a moment he hated that he'd taught his betas how to sense lies.
"We don't want you to be miserable," Stiles said. "And we both care about you. And holy wow, Derek, have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror? Once we both knew what you wanted, that you wanted us, I mean, it just seemed like... like the obvious answer."
"Seriously," Erica said. "You could just have asked, weeks ago. It would have been easier than guessing why you were always stalking us."
"But asking would require using words," Stiles said. "And Derek's not so good with those."
"No, I'm not," Derek agreed. "But I'm good at other things."
Stiles's eyes went wide, and he started to say something, probably some joke or comment or whatever, but if Derek was really allowed to do this then he was going to. So before Stiles could get in his word edgewise, Derek was on him, limbs tangled and lips locked, inhaling his scent and tasting him and letting everything that was Stiles flood all of his senses.
"Oh my god," Erica murmured. "That is the hottest thing I have ever seen in my entire life."
Derek paused, looked over at her, and held out one arm. She tucked herself under it quickly, pulling in close, and pressed her lips to his, then to Stiles's, then to his again.
"Whoa," Stiles murmured.
"Yeah," Erica agreed. "This was a good idea."
"Yeah," Stiles said. "Though, uh, just putting this out there. I hope it doesn't ruin the moment. But like was pointed out earlier, I have, you know, a bed. In my house. My house, which is not an old train, and has clean sheets and electricity and --"
"Your point is made," Derek interrupted.
"It was a good point." Stiles grinned at him, close enough for him to feel it against his cheek. "So what do you say? We go back to my place, and instead of creeping around outside and sulking, you come in with us?"
"Please, Derek?" Erica added, and pressed her lips to his neck.
Derek actually felt himself smile, overwhelmed by them. By their scents, their heartbeats, the arousal in the air. And, more than anything, by the idea that they wanted him. The two of them, together, willing to share everything they'd built up between them.
He let himself revel in it, then shifted so he had an arm around either one of them and said, "I don't know, maybe we should try Erica's place. That canopy bed sounded awfully nice."
And they both laughed, bright jewels of sound, as they led the way.