Stiles hears the knock, and it's quiet but persistant. "Dad, I'm fine, go to bed," he calls out against his pillow. The night has been long enough, dark enough, Lydia-falling-into-not-his-arms enough: Stiles doesn't need to see his Dad look at him like he's some kind of broken thing. The knock stops, but Stiles hears his window open, and he lifts his head cautiously toward the sound.
"I really need to invest in one of those bats the McCalls seem so fond of," he chokes out a little warily, scampering up into a sitting position. Derek scowls at him and something unceremoniously flies at Stiles's face. It is surprisingly cold.
"Frozen peas," the alpha says softly. "For your..." Derek gestures at Stiles.
"You just pointed at all of me," Stiles says blankly. Derek rolls his eyes, and points smartly to his own cheek. Stiles remembers what his face looks like, and then he remembers what it feels like when he lets out a drawn out, "Ooh." And he lifts up the cool sack to rest against his cheek.
"Thanks? I think?" Stiles guesses, because he's never really sure what Derek Hale wants to hear, but Derek shrugs his shoulders noncommittally, and Stiles thinks that he went the right way on that one. Stiles pauses. "A lot of shit went down tonight."
"You did well," Derek says in response. "With... the shit."
Stiles raises both eyebrows: ouch. That hurts. "A compliment? From the sourwolf? You definitely need at least ten favors. What's going on," Stiles sighs, leaning back into his headboard. This Derek he knew well: the Derek that needed something from him. This Derek he could deal with.
But Derek shakes his head.
"I don't need anything from you that you didn't already give tonight," Derek says softly. "I just came to give you the peas." Derek's eyes flash red momentarily in the darkened room. "And to offer you something else."
And suddenly the peas are dropping out of Stiles's hand.
"You're not Scott's alpha, and you're sure as hell not mine," Stiles bites out.
"I could be," Derek says, and somewhere deep in the words, Stiles hears a plea: do this with me. Join me.
Stiles has thought a lot about werewolves since that fateful night that Scott got the bite and he, the son of the sheriff and sidekick numero uno, did not. He's thought even more about werewolves and other weird shit that definitely shouldn't exist since Jackson became the kanima and all hell broke loose this year with Matt and Gerard and the Argents. Stiles would be lying if he told you that he's never been jealous of the werewolf powers: the super strength or hearing or speed. But Stiles craves his humanity like he craves attention from Lydia, like he craves Adderall when the ADHD gets to be too much for his spastic little brain.
"Sorry," is what Stiles responds.
What Stiles expects Derek to do is leave, or kill him, or both. What he does not expect Derek to is sit down at his desk and look dejected.
"It seems like I've made... a lot of mistakes," Derek manages, and he's looking into his hands. "I turned people who wanted the bite. Not the people who deserved it." Derek looks at Stiles, and Stiles thinks he knows the difference, but he doesn't dare voice his thoughts. But to Stiles, Derek looks extremely human in this moment. His eyes are bright even in the low light of the room, and his brows so furrowed that they threaten to converge. Stiles wants to reach out and pat the guy on the back or something.
"You're a young alpha," Stiles improvises. "You're still... uh, learning."
"I can't afford to waste time learning," Derek growls, more at himself than at Stiles, but it makes Stiles's blood run cold anyhow. He looks up at Stiles, and there's a moment of hesitation before Derek admits: "Half my pack is missing."
"Chris let them go," Stiles thinks aloud. "Maybe they skipped town."
"Maybe," Derek allows. He shifts in his seat and glances up at Stiles. "But I have a feeling they're still in Beacon Hills."
"You say that like it's a bad thing," Stiles says slowly. "May I remind you, we're all still in Beacon Hills."
Derek stands up. "It is a bad thing." Stiles's blood runs cold, because the words make him think that their little town is about to become a war zone.
In a flash, Derek is by Stiles's side, wolfed out, with Stiles's arm pulled out in front of his jaw.
"You would be my second in command," Derek says in a new tone, as if trying to remember how he's done this in the past, but all Stiles can think is how the fuck am I going to get out of this one. "You'd have unimaginable powers. Strength. Speed. Healing abilities."
"I said no," Stiles says, trying to pull his arm away.
Derek frowns, still wolfed out.
"You'd be... good at lacrosse," Derek bites back.
"I scored four goals last night," Stiles squeaks. "Totally human."
"Scott's a werewolf," Derek points out.
"So?" This one Stiles even has the nerve to raise an eyebrow at, and Derek growls.
And then he lets go.
"You need to stop threatening people to get what you want," Stiles babbles at his comforter, because there's no goddamn way he's looking at Derek Hale right now, that fucking asshole. "You need to make nice. Make friends."
He hears Derek shift slightly. "We're friends."
"We're really not," Stiles says incredulously, shaking his head back and forth. And it's probably not the best thing to say to a lonely alpha with a pack that has abandoned him and a psychotic uncle and nobody and no one left in this world that cares about him, but Stiles has fucking had enough with threats for the evening.
"If you want to threaten me again, my visiting hours at nine to five," Stiles hisses, confidence building as Derek stays silent. "Now get out of my house. And thanks for the peas."
Stiles doesn't move a muscle when Derek approaches him again, but out of the corner of his eye, Stiles can see that the alpha is human again. Derek takes the bag of peas from Stiles's limp hand and raises it to Stiles's cheek.
"Hold it there until the bag melts," Derek tells him quietly. "And I'm sorry." Derek allows Stiles to grab hold of the bag, and the older man backs away. He walks to the window and is about to jump away when he looks over his shoulder at the teenage boy, transfixed in bed.
"I didn't want to threaten you. But there's a storm coming. Bigger than the kanima and the Argents combined." Derek swallows, and Stiles follows the motion down his Adam's apple subconsciously. "And I wanted you by my side."
Stiles cocks his head to the side. "Why?" he asks, and the question is really a reflex more than anything else.
Derek allows a small smirk to flash across his features.
"Because you know what it's like to go through hell--"
"And keep going," Stiles finishes. "Someone told me that recently." Derek looks a little startled, but he nods. "Churchill, right?" Stiles shifts the peas. "Derek, I can help you as a human. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd make a kind of terrible werewolf. Like, probably the worst."
"Maybe," Derek allows. "Maybe not. I could teach you."
Stiles sighs. "Can we raincheck this debate? I'm pretty sure I've been concussed, and you are definitely coercing a minor," he relents.
This time, Derek's grin is wide and wolfish.
"Same time tomorrow night, Stiles," he says. "And the next night. And the next. It'll be fun. Like a game. Our game." His last two words send a huge shiver down Stiles's spine, and then the alpha is gone.