“—rumors that officials are considering banning Agazzi from competing in the United States archery Olympic qualifying round.”
“That’s absurd. She hasn’t been proven to be involved with anything; just because we now know some of her family is made of nutjobs doesn’t mean she should be disqualified from competing.”
“But there have been rumors that she was at the very least complicit in some of the—”
“Turn that off.” Stiles twists around on the couch to look at Scott, who’s leaning into the room. “I don’t want to keep listening to that.”
Stiles flips channels, and oh look, CNN. “This okay?”
Scott shrugs. “As long as it’s not more of that mess, I don’t care.” And then he ducks back into the kitchen, where he’s doing absolutely nothing of use. Because Scott doesn’t cook. He can’t cook. He set toast on fire. Three times. Melissa decided after that his role was strictly cleaning.
The commercial for the guy who travels places and eats weird stuff ends, transitioning into a news anchor with a bright smile and tasteful cleavage. “Welcome back and happy Thanksgiving. As the primary season heats up, rumors are flying about the possible candidacy of Congresswoman Laura Hale. Hale, a member of the Alpha Council, is the daughter of Talia Hale, the first woman on the Alpha Council and one of the victims in the Hale fire. Hale made news recently, first from her leading one side of the first public split in the Alpha Council, then from her appearance at Northern California University following the recent unrest there, and most recently from being shot—”
“Okay, hello, done with this.” Stiles considers flipping to something else, but all that’s on is news, reruns, and football, so he just turns it off. “Isaac, let me help.”
Isaac shouts from the kitchen, “You baked twelve pies. I don’t need help.”
Damn those pies. He wants something to do until Derek shows up, but they won’t let him, and it’s annoying as hell. “I can bake another pie.”
“Malia’s here with her plus one,” Scott shouts back. “Entertain them.” A second later, there’s a knock on the door, and Scott calls, “Come in.”
The door swings open, and Stiles hears Scott greeting Malia and the girl who must be Malia’s plus one. Probably the one Malia slept with, and Stiles should know more about her, but things have been so fucked up recently he hasn’t gotten a chance to find out. Because he’s a shitty friend. No big surprise there.
A girl walks into the room a few seconds later, human, probably Korean, with long hair that starts black at the top and runs in a gradient down to blue at the bottom. She raises a hand in greeting. “Hey. I’m Elizabeth. Lizzie. Malia’s…whatever. You must be Stiles.”
“Yep. I would get up, but, uh.” He gestures down at his lap, and she walks around the couch to stand in front of him.
“You two together?”
Stiles blinks down at Lydia, who’s asleep, head in his lap. She hasn’t been sleeping, they all haven’t, and no matter how scared she is of Beacon Hills, it’s a place they can sleep. “What? Oh, no. My boyfriend will be here in like an hour.”
Lizzie stares at him. “But you’re all—” She gestures towards the two of them. “Together.”
Oh god, humans. “We’re friends. It’s a thing friends do for each other, at least in a pack. Unless you see two—or more—people actually having sex, especially if they’re in a pack together, don’t assume they’re together.”
She nods, dropping down in a chair. “Thanks for the advice. Uh, fluffy-haired guy, Isaac? He told me I wasn’t allowed to help.”
“Isaac doesn’t like people invading his kitchen.”
“You made pie. Stop complaining.”
Stiles nods, gesturing back towards the kitchen. “See? So you’re with Malia?”
Lizzie lifts one shoulder, then drops it. “Kind of, I guess. With enough, however you define it.”
“We’re having sex. That enough for you, or do you need details?”
Ugh. “Please, God, don’t give me details. But Malia’s my friend, and I get to make sure you’re not planning on fucking her over.” Lydia stirs in his lap, shifting against his thigh, and he puts his hand on her hair. “We’re a messy pack, and if you’re planning on screwing her over, you’re going to regret it.”
She rolls her eyes. “Look, it’s sex, and it’s fun, but we’re not exchanging promise rings and going through a handfasting.”
“A wedding, whatever. My last girlfriend was pagan.” Lydia shifts again, a noise coming from deep in her throat, and Lizzie asks, “She okay?”
“She’s fine.” Probably having a nightmare, but according to Allison she hasn’t slept through the night in weeks, so that’s not all that surprising. And then Lydia moves again, more frantically this time, fingers grasping at the couch, sucking in breath, and shit, he knows that sound. He slides his fingers through her hair. “Hey, Lydia, shh, don’t scream.”
Lydia goes still, then gasps, bolting upright so fast he doesn’t have a chance to pull his arm away, dragging him along with her. He ends up half on top of her, legs tangled as he tries not to fall and take her with him.
She blinks at him. “What the hell?”
Stiles carefully extracts his hand from her hair, sitting back in his spot. She’s sitting on her legs in a way that can’t be comfortable, but she doesn’t seem to have much interest in moving. “Hey. Afternoon. You good?”
She glances over at Lizzie, who’s watching them with curious eyes, then slides to her feet. “I’m fine. Have to go touch up my makeup. Nice to meet you, whoever you.” And then she flounces out of the room, somehow managing to look like she’s in heels even while barefoot.
There’s another knock on the outside door, and Stiles hops to his feet. “Sorry, I have to get that. Make yourself at home.” And then he hurries into the other room, heading to the door to open it, because Derek should be there any minute. He throws the door open with a smile—then groans. “You’re not Derek.”
Liam pushes past him, leaving Mason standing in the doorway, smiling awkwardly. “Nope, not quite. Though from what I’ve heard, I should wish I was. Not for the, you know, having sex with you part. Not that there’s anything wrong with you, you’re just not my type.”
Liam shoves Stiles out of the way to drag Mason into the building. “Move.”
Mason shrugs, moving past Stiles into the kitchen, where Scott is standing, checking out Isaac’s ass. Which isn’t super helpful, but kitchens really aren’t Scott’s specialty. He offers Mason a hand. “Nice to see you.”
“Yeah, you too. Thanks for the invite. Hey, Isaac, Malia. Where’s everyone else?”
Scott shrugs. “Kira, Allison, and Derek are on their way, and so are my mom and Sheriff Stilinski. Parrish is busy”—aka not invited but they don’t want to advertise that—“and we figured having Derek Hale and Chris Argent in the same room would be a bad idea. And Malia’s girlfriend is in the living room.”
Malia blinks at him. “Right.” And then she heads out of the room, which, okay, that’s awkward. Apparently she forgot about her own girlfriend.
“Lydia’s upstairs fixing her makeup,” Stiles puts in as Liam and Mason start heading into the living room, and then someone taps him on the back, and he spins around to see Derek standing in the doorway, smiling. “Hey, you’re here.”
“Hey.” Derek leans over to give him a peck on the lips, then looks at Scott. “Nice to see you again, Alpha McCall.”
Scott beams at him, all happy because it’s Thanksgiving and he loves holidays and family and pack and people in his apartment. He’s a good goddamn alpha, even if he’s shit at interpersonal relationships. “Scott, please. We’re not particularly big on standing on ceremony here.”
“He once forgot he was alpha for a month.”
Scott groans. “To be fair, it was early.”
Stiles puts his arm around Derek’s waist. “It was three months after he became alpha. Kind of long enough to remember.”
Derek looks at him. “And you didn’t remind him?”
“I didn’t know he forgot. He just wasn’t turning much. And then one day he turned, looked in the mirror, and freaked the hell out. It was hilarious.”
“Having red eyes staring back at you when you’re expecting brown—or at the very least yellow—is a little unnerving.” A timer goes off, and Scott looks at Isaac. “You want me to take that out?”
Isaac glances at him. “You going to remember to put a mitt on this time?”
Scott leans over, grabs an oven mitt, and opens the oven to pull the casserole out. Derek says, “I’m sure there’s a story behind that.”
Isaac laughs, pushing something around one of his pans. “Yeah, turns out werewolves don’t heal burns that well.”
Derek’s expression shutters as Stiles winces. Because yeah, Derek knows that. But then Derek smiles and says, in a voice that’s only a little bit strained, “Better than we used to. Burn treatment’s advanced a lot.”
Isaac glances back at him. “Right, sorry.”
“Not like I’ve ever forgotten.”
“Are we going to stand in the doorway all day?”
Derek freezes, then takes a couple steps forward and spins, spinning Stiles with him so they’re facing Allison, who’s standing in the doorway. “You smell like Scott.”
She flushes. “Happens when you have sex. I’m sure I smell like Isaac, too. Nice chat, let’s stop talking about it.” She heads in, sliding past Stiles and squeezing his hand. Finding out about Kate and then the public reveal freaked her out, and Stiles has a feeling—though he’ll never say it—that that’s half the reason she fell back in bed with Scott. Because she loves him, but all of them having sex is not always a great idea and they all know it. Not that that ever stopped them from fucking like bunnies.
Not that it’s any of Stiles’s business. He doesn’t want to know.
He really doesn’t want to know.
She heads over to set a hand on the small of Isaac’s back, then lean up to kiss Scott. “Where’s Lydia?”
“Can’t survive without me?” Lydia walks out of the living room, and now the kitchen is starting to get too damn small. “The gang’s all here. Other than Kira. Where is our faux-furry packmate?”
“She should be here in a few minutes. Her parents wanted her to call in for the holidays.” And she’s kind of avoiding Scott and Isaac and Allison, but none of them are going to say that aloud. Hooray for dating inside a pack. Thank God Stiles managed to avoid that.
Lydia walks over to press a kiss to Stiles’s cheek, and he touches her waist. “Thanks for letting me sleep.”
“I expect you to return the favor sometime.”
Derek tightens his grip on Stiles’s side. “Think that’s my job.”
Lydia pats Stiles’s chest. “This is adorable and all, but I’m going to let your big fluffy boyfriend growl over you. Anyone want alcohol?”
Kira’s the last one to come in, a few minutes before dinner is finished (but after Isaac kicked all of them out of the kitchen to sit in the living room and make awkward small talk), and then they all head into the dining-ish room, which has two tables jammed together stretching all the way across the room, and just as she walks in Stiles realizes the problem.
The last time they had holiday dinner (Christmas Eve), Scott was dating Kira, and so Kira sat to Scott’s left and Stiles sat to Scott’s right. In fact, every formal dinner they’ve had has had basically the same seating arrangement, plus or minus a couple of plus-ones, and Kira now switching rank with two people simultaneously is going to make things complicated.
The best thing is probably to have Allison sit on one side of Scott and Isaac sit on his other side, and Stiles will just move down a spot.
He heads to the spot one over from where he would normally sit, Derek trailing after him, but Allison gives him a look. “Take your spot. Isaac and I will sit next to each other.”
Isaac is the one who nods. “You’re his number two, not me or Allison.”
He looks at Allison, who nods. Okay then. He stands behind the seat to the right of Scott’s spot at the head, Derek stopping next to him, and Allison stands across from Stiles with Isaac beside her. Everyone else fills in their spot; Kira is next to Derek, and she looks genuinely happy, which is good.
The thing is that it’s not that he dislikes Kira. He really genuinely does like her; she’s funny and smart and was good for Scott. But her being with Scott didn’t really help the pack, and Stiles knows that sometimes his moral system is fucked up, but he will destroy anything that hurts the pack. Not that he doesn’t want her to be happy, and not that he wants to get anywhere near Scott’s continuous relationship drama, but pack comes first, end of story.
Near the end of the table, next to Stiles’s dad, Lizzie starts to sit, and Malia grabs her arm, stopping her. Lizzie frowns. “What are you—”
Scott pulls out his chair and sits down, and then there’s a scramble for everyone else to sit. It’s not something they do on a regular basis, this level of formality, but when the entire pack is together in-territory, and most of the affiliates, and it’s safe, they do it.
And the weird thing is that they don’t have anyone who’s born, they don’t have anyone who knows the traditions—shy of him, but he learned a lot of them in college, and this started before he learned it—so all of this developed organically. He can’t feel it as strongly as strongly as Isaac and Liam and, to a lesser degree, Kira and Malia, and Ethan and Aiden had their own weird as fuck ways of deferring, but they all ended up going down this path until it became normal. And this is fairly universal, which means it’s somehow instinctive, which is weird.
Scott beams down the table. “Hi, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving. Everyone in my pack, it’s good to have you home.” And it is; something releases inside of Stiles when he’s in-territory with the rest of the pack, and he can’t imagine how much better it feels for the weres in the pack. “Mom, Sherriff Stilinski, Mason, glad you’re here. Derek and Lizzie, thank you for coming. Everyone grab hands.”
Stiles reaches out and takes Scott’s hand on one side and Derek’s hand on the other, and that right there is exactly where he wants to be. Between his alpha and his lover, not being pulled but holding on to both of them. Around the table, everyone joins hands.
“Because it’s Thanksgiving, we’re going to give thanks. Don’t worry, Lizzie, we’re not saying grace.” Lizzie smiles, which is good, because she’s been looking tense as shit since they got to the table. “Allison, you want to start?”
Allison nods. “Sure. I’m thankful everyone in the pack who was alive last year is still alive now.”
Isaac smiles at her and Scott. “I’m thankful the people I love are safe.”
Lydia’s next, and she looks at Stiles when she says, “I’m thankful there are people willing to do what I can’t bring myself to.”
Cheeks burning, Stiles looks away; he’d throw himself on the Nemeton if it saved the pack, but he doesn’t want to be thanked for it. It’s not for a particularly good reason.
They get around the table—his dad is thankful nobody has died in-territory recently, Scott’s mom is thankful Isaac cooked—and then they reach Kira. And it’s awkward, that momentary silence before she talks, because almost everyone knows what just happened, and tension is pack is inevitable but uncomfortable.
And then she smiles. “I’m thankful that my pack is happy.”
Well okay then. She’s a bigger person than Stiles will ever be. Go her.
Derek’s hand on Stiles’s thigh flexes, and he says, quietly, “I’m thankful Laura is okay.”
Stiles puts his hand over Derek’s, squeezing, and Derek turns his hand to tangle their fingers together. “I’m thankful that I have a pack to come home to, and that we’re still alive.” Except for Aiden, but they don’t talk about Aiden other than the candle burning in the corner.
Scott keeps beaming at them, even though a large number of their thanks were basically ‘yay we’re not dead’. Which, to be fair, yay, they’re not dead. “Well, I’m thankful everyone I care about is in the same room together. And food. Now eat.”
Dishes start being passed around, rotating around the table because they have a shitton of people and that is the only way to make sure everyone gets something. So it’s quiet for a bit, except for the clink of dishes and serving forks and spoons, and Derek has to take his hand away, but his leg pressed against Stiles’s, and Stiles presses back.
Once everything has been passed around, Scott takes the first bite, and then everyone digs in.
After the initial digging in is done—because God, Isaac can cook—Scott turns to Derek. “How is your sister doing?”
Derek shrugs one shoulder, foot twining around Stiles’s ankle. “She’s okay. She’s healed. They want her to run for President just because she got shot, which is a little weird.”
Kira asks, “You think she’s going to do it?”
“No idea.” Derek pokes at a piece of potato on his plate. “There’s a…hesitation to put another target on our backs, especially now, and Peter still isn’t done chewing out everyone in existence for her getting shot, so I don’t know yet.”
Stiles reaches over and grabs his knee, because he looks sad, and Derek smiles at him. Which is good, because Derek has actually been almost okay recently, and even though this is probably kind of hard for him, Stiles doesn’t want him to slip back into being perpetually sad and a little bit triggered, alternating with really sad and actually triggered. Because that’s really awful to watch, and he doesn’t want Derek to be sad.
Isaac looks at them, and he’s always been way more sensitive to how people are feeling, because he not-so-subtly changes the subject, asking, “So you two are all good now?”
Stiles considers just sticking his tongue down Derek’s throat to prove a point, because it’s pack and they wouldn’t give a shit, but his dad is here, and Malia’s very human girlfriend, and so that wouldn’t go so well. He smiles instead. “Yeah, we’re good. We chatted.”
Allison smirks at him. “Chatted. Right.”
“Shut up, I talk to people.”
She laughs. “I’m not doubting that you talk. I’m doubting that you give him a chance to get a word in edgewise.”
Ironic. “No, we’re fine there.”
“He’s keeping your mouth occupied enough?”
Stiles’s dad coughs loudly down at the end of the table. “Okay, I’m still here, and I know you’re all adults in relationships, but let’s continue this when I can’t hear.”
Isaac flushes. “Sorry Sherriff Stilinski.”
There’s silence for a second as Derek goes back to determinedly stuffing food in his mouth, and then Kira leans over to look at Stiles. “Hey, you want to see something cool? I didn’t get to show it to you the last time you were up here.”
Oh boy. “Will it set anything on fire?”
“Uh.” Kira blinks at him, then down at her hand, and that’s a great sign. “Probably not. It didn’t the last few times.”
Awesome. “Yeah, sure.”
She holds out her hand, staring intently at it, and then Lizzie screams.