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A Brief Introduction to Live Action Roleplaying

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Jackson tells Danny he’s a werewolf via text, because Jackson prefers to have conversations that might result in emotions via text message. Danny prefers to have conversations that require responses beyond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without typing, because he still doesn’t have a smart phone (not that he’s bitter about that) and the phone he does have is mysteriously awful at predictive texting so it takes him forever to type everything out, especially because he doesn’t know how the hell to abbreviate ‘werewolf.’

As a compromise, he calls Jackson. Jackson won’t like it because it’ll involve speaking, but at least they won’t be face to face.

“So,” Danny says, when Jackson picks up after letting it ring through to voicemail twice. “Werewolves.”

“I don’t really want to talk about this right now, Mahealani,” Jackson says.

“You texted me three minutes ago, Whittemore,” Danny replies. Jackson’s being worse than usual, and he’s usually fairly bad. Danny leans against the wall behind his bed.

Jackson’s quiet for a bit, but that’s Jackson. You need to give him time.

“I’m a werewolf,” Jackson says. “Now.”

“So the werewolf thing’s for real,” Danny says.

“For real,” Jackson repeats.

“I thought McCall and Stilinski were just really into LARPing,” Danny says. “Though this does make more sense.”

“LARPing,” Jackson echoes, and his tone is the one he takes when he either doesn’t understand or doesn’t believe what Danny is saying, like he’s wrinkling his forehead, as slightly as he’ll allow it to wrinkle, wherever he is.

“They talk about werewolves a lot,” Danny says. “Loudly. You hadn’t noticed?”

“LARPing,” Jackson says again, like he’s still stuck on that, which, because this is Jackson, he probably is.

“Live action roleplaying,” Danny says, slowly. Sometimes Jackson understands things better if you say them slowly.

“Whatever, Danny,” Jackson says, and that’s how he sounds when Danny gets into too much depth about computer software; the tone that says that Jackson’s annoyed, but mostly because he has no clue what’s going on, and therefore thinks Danny’s being a nerd.

“So, werewolves,” Danny counters.

The phone falls silent again. Danny has questions, but when having certain conversations with Jackson you need to let him come to you. Sort of like a cat that’s not entirely tame, mostly because it’s a cat.

Sort of like the Mahealani family cat, actually. Floss is sitting on Danny’s computer chair, licking her paw.

“It’s strange,” Jackson says. “Do you know Derek Hale?”

“Stiles Stilinski once told me Derek Hale was his cousin Miguel,” Danny tells him.

“He bit me,” Jackson continues. Danny’s kind of tempted to ask if it was sexy, but he realizes that will derail this conversation entirely.

Also, that it probably wasn’t, or if it was it wasn’t supposed to be.

“Because he’s a werewolf,” Jackson adds, like maybe Danny didn’t understand that part.

“Okay,” Danny says.

Jackson sighs.

“Yeah, so that happened,” he says.

“Okay,” Danny says.

“There’s another thing, too,” Jackson says. “I was another thing. A kind of lizard. Thing.”

“Okay,” Danny says. It’s becoming a refrain.

“At the Jungle,” Jackson says, too quickly. “That was me.”

It takes Danny a minute to place what Jackson’s talking about, but only a minute; things happen at the Jungle often enough, but very few of those could be attributed to ‘a kind of lizard thing’, and even fewer of them involve the decidedly suspicious presence of Scott McCall and Stiles Stilinski.

“Oh,” Danny says, tilting his head so he’s looking up at the ceiling.

“Sorry,” Jackson says.

Jackson doesn’t apologize often, so when he does it matters, even if his apologies are kind of shitty. Jackson’s never been good at using his words.

“It’s okay,” Danny says. After a moment he adds: “Really.”

“Want to come over?” Jackson asks. “I have the key to the liquor cabinet.”

That sounds more like Jackson, so Danny says, “You always have the key to the liquor cabinet,” and then drives over to Jackson’s.

It turns out Jackson can’t get drunk any more, so Danny just ends up trashed enough for the both of them and sleeping in an oversized armchair in the Whittemore living room, which is not as unusual as Danny would like to pretend it is. Danny wakes up when the sun rises, with a hangover and a crick in his back. He makes Jackson make him chocolate chip pancakes.

Talking about werewolves gets easier after that. It’s still weird, inasmuch as they’re talking about werewolves and this has actual bearing on their lives and Jackson is suddenly spending time with Isaac Lahey and Vernon Boyd and Erica Reyes because they’re his wolf pack. The fact that Jackson is unironically calling a group of people his ‘pack’ is about as foreign as who those people are, but Danny gets it--they have something in common now. Danny and Jackson had always been different from one another in a lot of ways. Not just sexuality, though that was a hot piece of gossip when Danny made out with a dude in the high school parking lot their freshmen year. But Jackson’s family is wealthy in a way Danny’s simply isn’t; and Jackson’s an only child, in addition to being adopted and kind of conflicted about it. But those weren’t things they needed to have in common, and the werewolf thing--Danny doesn’t even know what to do with the werewolf thing. He hasn’t the slightest idea what it means.

Which may or may not explain why he ends up perusing a series of increasingly questionable subreddits. The subreddits eventually lead him to a poorly coded forum without enough server space and with a shitty picture of full moon and a howling wolf on the banner that runs across the top of the page.

It’s an ugly website. Danny would’ve rather stayed in the subreddits, but the heart wants what it wants--that’s what Danny’s mother said when he came out, and at some point it became his unofficial motto, though hell if he’d actually tell anyone that--and in this case ‘the heart’ is ‘people who know about werewolves’ and what they want, apparently, is a kind of crap forum in which to discuss werewolf business. So Danny looks past the use of Papyrus on the forum’s banner and focuses on the fact that at least two of the users seem to know their shit.

One of them hasn’t been active for a month and a half, which is why Danny PMs the other one. The forum doesn’t have profiles for its users so all he knows about this person is that their username is brucethebat24, they’ve made 126 posts, making them a ‘Werewolf’ but not yet a ‘Werewolf Overlord,’ and Jackson has confirmed almost everything they’ve said about werewolves. Danny suspects the remainder is either made up or lifted wholesale from Twilight to throw people off brucethebat24’s trail, but they haven’t been all that subtle about it, which puts Danny here, with an empty text box open and a blinking cursor.

He doesn’t know what to ask, just knows he wants--maybe needs--to ask something. He came here to find out more about werewolves, so it would follow that he should ask to know more about werewolves.

Once he has a proxy in place he registers as a superhero because brucethebat24 is obviously a Batman fan and having a secret identity seems kind of apropos. Danny spends a frankly stupid amount of time looking at a list of the X-Men on Wikipedia before just registering as wolverine. No one else in the forum’s using it. There aren’t that many users here; he wonders why brucethebat slapped the 24 on the end of their username, but he figures it’s some 24-year-old who’s smug about not being a teenager on the internet.

And is a Batman fan.

If this says anything about the person he’s going to be corresponding with Danny wishes someone else on this forum had exhibited any working knowledge of werewolves and signs of life, but a person’s got to do what they’ve got to do when their best friend turns out to be a werewolf and they live in a town that’s overrun with them.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

Mr. Wayne--

I’m sure you’re very busy w/ your philanthropic activities, etc., but you seem to be one of the few in this forum with any legitimate werewolf experience, so I hope it won’t be too strange if I tell you that I apparently have a legitimate werewolf on my hands, and I’m looking for advice.

-Logan

He doesn’t get a reply for three days, over the course of which Jackson brings him with to Derek Hale’s--whatever it is he lives in--to watch--whatever it is werewolves do. Derek says it’s training, but that’s not really what it looks like. It looks kind of a like a mess. But Danny can’t say that, so instead he sits on the ground outside Derek’s subway car (which--there’s not a subway line anywhere near this town, so where did that come from? Did he have it imported?) and watches the werewolves run around. It’s a little uncomfortable to watch, especially when their faces to the thing their faces do, where they shift. If their faces are going to do that Danny just wishes they’d go full wolf. Not that they have a choice since whatever evolutionary vagary brought werewolves into the world didn’t see fit to bless them with the ability to transform completely, but it’s still kind of a disappointment to have your best friend tell you he’s a werewolf and find out you can’t even make fun of him for growing a tail.

Stranger than whatever invented exercises Derek is running the werewolves through is the fact that Scott McCall and Stiles Stilinski are conspicuously absent. Danny knows they’re involved in the werewolf stuff, and it’s not like he misses them, especially not Stiles, who is kind of an asshole. Still, it seems like they should be here. It’s not like McCall and Stilinski have anything better to do.

He asks Jackson about it when they’re in Jackson’s Porsche after, and Jackson rolls his eyes.

“Scott and Derek are having a lovers’ spat,” Jackson says.

“A lovers’--” Danny starts saying, and then he sighs because it’s really not worth it. “Explain.”

“Scott doesn’t want to be in Derek’s pack,” Jackson says. “So, he and Stilinski are probably at the library.”

“The library,” Danny repeats.

“Doing research or something,” Jackson says, waving a hand dismissively. “Like nerds.”

“I know you can come up with a better insult than that,” Danny says with a sidelong glance at Jackson.

“No, seriously,” Jackson says. “Part of the--whatever--is that McCall, like, wants to start his own pack so the wonder twins have been doing research.”

“Research,” Danny repeats, and forgive him if he sounds skeptical, but he is. Jackson shrugs. “On what?”

“On not being in Derek’s pack,” Jackson says. He makes it sound like it should be obvious. “They hate Derek and think Peter’s a creeplord so they want to, like, start their own loser pack.”

“Is Peter a creeplord?” Danny asks. He hasn’t met Peter yet, but from what he’s heard this may be the only time Scott and Stiles have ever been right about anything. What Danny has heard about Peter is that he used to be dead.

Jackson shrugs. “Probably. But he’s also Derek’s uncle.”

“Oh, well, that makes it okay then,” Danny says. “My uncle’s Hannibal Lecter, so I guess we’ll just give him a pass, too--”

“His whole family’s dead, you know?” Jackson says. Danny can tell he’s only barely restraining himself from rolling his eyes at the Hannibal Lecter comment.

“I know,” Danny says. “But, I mean--didn’t you say Peter was responsible for the death of Derek’s sister? Or did I not understand that part?”

“Yeah, I don’t know, that’s what Stilinski said but Derek won’t talk about it,” Jackson replies as they turn onto Danny’s street. “So whatever.”

“I think that’s maybe worth investigating,” Danny says when they pull up in front of his house. He’s not sure how to investigate it, but it’s a thought.

Jackson shrugs again in response, and Danny slides out of the car and waves without pushing it. This is still Jackson, after all. He doesn’t like to talk about what he doesn’t want to talk about.

Danny’s late for dinner and gets the usual thing from his mother about how they’re supposed to eat dinner as a family and he can microwave his tuna casserole himself and not eat it in front of his computer and get crumbs in the keyboard. He ends up eating at the kitchen table while his father does the dishes from when everyone else ate and they both talk shit about lacrosse. Danny’s dad played lacrosse in high school, because he also grew up in the statistical anomaly that is Beacon Hills. He also played professionally for the Washington Wave for about two seconds in 80s, before he busted his knee and met Danny’s mom and decided he would really enjoy teaching kindergarten. Which he did. It was nice because he didn’t use Danny to try to relive his youthful lacrosse triumphs, but it had also been fairly embarrassing when Danny still attended the same school his father worked at. Danny’s dad liked to use fleets of kindergarteners to send Danny snacks and notes at lunchtime, like they were his little five-year-old lackeys. Which they kind of were. Kindergarteners loved Danny’s father.

After dinner, Danny takes a box of Cheez-Its upstairs to almost certainly get greasy crumbs in the keyboard, and finds an email in his burner email account informing him of a message from brucethebat24.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Hugh Jackman (because I assume you’ve only seen the movies)--

Ha ha, you’re hilarious. If you think this forum doesn’t get trolls think again, buster. If you aren’t a troll, I’m going to need some magic words. And they aren’t ‘Open Sesame.’ Or ‘please’, though my father raised me right and taught me that a ‘please’ is never a bad thing.

-Batman

On one hand Danny kind of can’t blame him. On the other hand Danny really wishes there was someone else on the forum--or the internet--who seemed like they’d be at all helpful when it came to werewolves.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

Homo sapiens megachiroptera:

(1) I sent this message to you, not to anyone else in this forum, because you seem to know your shit.

(2) They don’t grow tails.

(3) My friend was bitten by an alpha. He joined his pack, which makes him a beta. He now enjoys long runs through the woods with his pack and acting like its his time of month when the moon is full. If he hadn’t joined a pack, he’d be an omega.

(4) Please.

(5) Good enough for you?

-Gulo gulo

 The next message comes fairly quickly, which makes Danny suspect that brucethebat was waiting on his response. It doesn’t matter, really, because the reply is short:

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Okay, what do you want to know?

-Batman

p.s. DC kicks Marvel’s ass.

Danny can work with that, actually.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

B.-

Everything.

-w.

He manages to dissuade himself from sitting around and refreshing the page forever, partly because he has homework and partly because he figures if he replies too quickly to whatever brucethebat’s next missive is he’ll look pathetic, and Danny doesn’t want someone who’s bragging about being 24 on the internet to think they’re cooler than him. Because they aren’t. Game over, insert another quarter.

He finds another message when he checks in the morning, suggesting that brucethebat has no qualms about immediate replies and no homework to finish. Because brucethebat is a 24-year-old who lives in his parents’ basement, probably.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Okay, here’s the skinny. I don’t even know what everything is, but if your friend’s a werewolf--well, my friend’s a werewolf, too, so at least I can tell you a little bit about that (as if I know anything). My friend’s pack/alpha is kind of a shitshow, which is why I’m on this forum in the first place. But obviously you came here so who knows...Maybe this is something people with werewolves for friends do. lol.

Sorry for using ‘lol.’ But it is kind of funny, right? In an ironic way. Like rain on your wedding day.

Anyway, werewolves. Well I guess you know the stuff about alpha/beta/omega, so you probably know that every role can become every other role...that’s kind of what my friend and I are working on.

But maybe you just want to know about being friends with werewolves? I don’t know, dude. I kind of figure it’s just like being friends with humans except with a higher likelihood of death. So there’s that. But we aren’t dead yet, right? Wish I could say the same for wherewerewears, but she hasn’t posted in ages and I’m getting kinda worried. That said, the two of us aren’t dead yet, and while we’re alive--it’s also kind of awesome. The whole thing. It’s like peeling back the world you live in and realizing it’s kind of magic, corny as that sounds (and, yeah, it sounds totally cheeseball, I know, but my life is, like, exponentially more interesting with werewolves in it).

-B-Man
(for future reference, don’t call me this)

Danny really doesn’t know what to make of it. He decides he probably shouldn’t have said he wanted to know ‘everything’ because instead he got next to nothing. Maybe he should wait until he has a specific question. Batman obviously needs direction. Danny doesn’t really have any direction to give him, until he does.

It starts, as some things do, with Lydia. She’s talking with Allison before lunch and the two of them are giving Scott McCall speculative glances that anyone but Scott McCall probably would’ve noticed by now--Stiles notices them, eventually, and elbows Scott, and then Lydia and Allison’s little tête-à-tête dissipates as suddenly as it appeared.

“What was that?” Danny asks Lydia when she comes to sit with them. “Is Allison going to date McCall again? It would probably help his lacrosse game.”

“Sometimes I worry about you,” Lydia says, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “And no, Allison is not going to date McCall again. She wanted to know if he was still in Derek’s pack.”

“Jackson says he isn’t,” Danny replies, and Lydia hums thoughtfully.

“Good to know,” she says. Danny doesn’t understand why she doesn’t know already, so he asks her.

“You didn’t know that?” he asks.

She shrugs. “Jackson and I don’t talk much about werewolf stuff.”

Danny wonders what they do talk about, because ninety percent of his non-conversations with Jackson lately are about werewolf stuff. He wonders if it’s because Jackson’s not having them with Lydia. Maybe they just--nope, no, he’s just going to pretend his two best friends have Ken and Barbie parts. He knows better, but sometimes you need to do these things for your own good health. Besides, Jackson Whittemore and Lydia Martin are about as close to Ken and Barbie as exist in real life. Lydia’s just, like, astrophysicist Barbie.

“Why not?” Danny asks, instead of voicing anything else he’s thinking. Jackson’s not at the table yet--he probably got held after class because Mrs. Alexander hates him. Mrs. Alexander is well past the age at which most teachers retire and a bit far away from her rocker, but her hatred of Jackson is not entirely unwarranted.

Lydia doesn’t say anything.

Danny waits.

Lydia doesn’t say anything until Jackson shows up, griping about Mrs. Alexander and what a waste of time literature class is, as expected. He makes some spurious claim that Mrs. Alexander kept trying to talk about the elixir of youth. Danny ignores him and stares at Lydia across the table while she pointedly doesn’t look at him, which she should know tells him almost everything he needs to know. He texts her about it during Computer Lab, because Mr. Gill lets him do pretty much whatever he wants during that so-called class, and doesn’t get a response until the break between world history and physics.

let it go, danny.
Sender: Lydia Received: 13:47

Danny pockets his phone quickly because Ms. Murphy will not stand for any shit, but if Lydia thinks that won’t make him more concerned she has got another thing coming. He actually has trouble believing that she didn’t know that already.

Stiles is in physics, too, goofing off with the motion sensors in the back of the lab. Danny does not understand why Ms. Murphy puts up with it, because she really does not stand for any shit from anyone else, but she seems to think that Stiles playing with race cars is actually him exhibiting some sort of legitimate interest in physics. Danny sits next to Greenberg and pages through the assignment they’re turning in today, checking his work, until Ms. Murphy gets up from behind her desk and calls the whole thing to order, at which point Stiles slides into the desk behind Danny’s, stretching his legs out under Danny’s chair.

Danny doesn’t really get Stiles, is the thing. He’s pretty sure Stiles sees himself as some sort of put-upon nerd, a social reject, but it’s like Stiles doesn’t even try to be anything else. He’s ostentatious--too loud, limbs everywhere, taking up too much space--but he’s also smart, and it seems like he should realize that if he just dialed it back a little people other than Scott might like him instead of merely tolerating him.

But Stiles interrupts this line of thinking by thrusting his assignment at Danny’s shoulder. Danny dutifully places it atop his own and passes them both to the girl who sits in front of him whose name he absolutely cannot remember right now, then takes out his notebook and focuses on Ms. Murphy. Stiles is tapping the eraser of this pencil against his desk in an unsteady staccato, but Danny got used to that a long time ago. If Stiles weren’t so Stiles Danny suspects they would be friends, just by virtue of sharing so many classes over the years, but instead Stiles is Stiles and has used those shared classes to ask Danny if gay guys find him attractive and acclimate Danny to pencil tapping.

Physics is Danny’s last class of the day and the classroom is conveniently close to Danny’s locker and also Lydia’s, because lockers are assigned alphabetically, so Danny goes to wait for her after Ms. Murphy releases them with a pleasant reminder that they should be working on their lab project proposals, and their lab project will, yes, still be worth forty percent of their grade, since Greenberg is asking. Danny’s proposal is about sixty percent done already and it isn’t due for at least a week, so he rushes out while Stiles stops to talk to Ms. Murphy and Greenberg dawdles around, picking pen caps off the floor.

“Lydia,” Danny starts to say, but then Jackson rounds the corner behind her. Lydia narrows her eyes at Danny. She planned this.

“Lydia,” Danny starts again. “I need to talk to you about our English project on ‘Wuthering Heights.’”

“Ugh,” Jackson says. “Mrs. Alexander--” Danny tunes out the diatribe that follows because he’s heard it all before.

Lydia frowns. They both know there’s no project. It’s up to her whether she’ll call him on it and make Jackson suspicious or go along with it and maybe, possibly, actually have to talk to Danny.

“Shut up, Jackson,” Lydia says. “I can’t talk about it now, Danny.”

“Then when?” Danny asks, resting his hip against the locker next to Lydia’s (it belongs to Martin Marin, and if he shows up he can look at Danny’s ass as long as he wants).

“Preferably never.” Lydia scowls, then glances at Jackson. “But if you insist, I have a manicure on Saturday. Meet me at the mall at ten. You’re paying for Orange Julius.”

Danny shrugs.

“Sure,” he says. “I’ll bring my Brontë.”

“Whatever,” Lydia says, turning from Danny to Jackson and effectively dismissing him.

Danny’s locker is only a few doors up the hall from Lydia’s, so he gets to listen to her and Jackson make out while he loads up his backpack to go home. Martin Marin doesn’t show up, which Danny is okay with--Martin Marin is probably never going to be a thing, but it’s kind of fun in theory.

Before leaving, Danny slams his locker and is overly loud when he says, “See you Saturday, Lydia!”

fine, you win. I’ll talk to you, but you better not tell jax anything.
Sender: Lydia Received: 15:04

what do you take me for?
Sender: Danny Received: 15:46

Danny hates the mall, especially on Saturdays, which is probably why Lydia picked it. At least he’s mostly okay with Orange Julius, even when consumed in the food court of said mall, because Lydia may be on to something: the pre-teens who hang out at the mall don’t pay a wit of attention to the conversation about werewolves Lydia and Danny are having in their midst. The preteens probably think they’re talking about ‘Twlight,’ which is a sobering thought. Especially because the things Lydia tells him--well, Danny hasn’t read ‘Twilight,’ but he hopes it doesn’t have this sort of unresolved shit lurking in its pages, because he doesn’t even know what to say this is. It seems to go beyond shitty and straight through to something weightier.

“I’m sorry,” Danny says when Lydia finishes. She’s looking across the table at him, still and uncertain.

Lydia laughs, a little mean. “It’s not your fault.”

“I know, but--,” Danny actually doesn’t know what to say. Lydia is sitting very still, like if she moves she might break. When she laughed she sounded sharp and unhappy, but now she just looks smaller than Danny has ever seen her.

“Look,” Lydia says when she finally speaks. “Peter Hale is objectively a crazy asshole. I’m just not sure how Jackson will take this information.”

“Couldn’t he join Scott’s pack?” Danny asks.

“Jackson doesn’t like being adopted,” Lydia replies. It’s stupid and simple and true. Lydia rubs at her face in a way that makes Danny wonder if she had been about to cry. Lydia doesn’t cry, though--he can see something slide into place on her face, can see the way she shores herself up and straightens her shoulders.

“I’ll just stay away from the werewolf stuff, okay?” she says.

“Which is why you were talking to Allison yesterday,” Danny counters.

“I’ll just stay away from the werewolf stuff with Jackson,” Lydia amends, tugging at a tail of her hair. “Okay?”

“I don’t know,” Danny says. “You should talk about this with Jackson, you know this.”

“Thanks for the relationship advice,” Lydia says. “And from my own serial dater.”

“And from the girl who pretends to think the word ‘serial’ has something to do with Froot Loops,” Danny says, which almost earns him a grin. Sometimes he forgets why Lydia and Jackson are his friends. They’re tiring. But they have also been his friends for a very long time, and they are both people who want things, fiercely, and they’re both sharper than they pretend to be, and, at a fundamental level, he likes them. Sometimes against his will, but he likes them nonetheless.

Lydia takes a long draw from her Orange Julius, lips neatly pursed.

“You know, it was actually good to tell someone,” she says after a few beats of silence pass between them, not uncomfortably.

“Of course I was right,” Danny says. “I always am.”

“Well not always,” Lydia says.

“But about Peter,” Danny continues before Lydia can make this into some sly joke. “We should do something.”

“What?” Lydia says. “Because I don’t have any ideas.”

Danny doesn’t, either.

“We need more information,” he says.

Lydia arches an eyebrow.

“Oh good,” she says. “I hear that’s Stiles’s motto. You can talk to him after we go shopping. I’ll buy you both pocket protectors so you can be research twins.”

“I think if you bought him a pocket protector it might just encourage him,” Danny says dryly.

“Not if you gave it to him,” Lydia says. Her grin is toothy. “I mean, it would encourage him, but not to bother me--”

“No, I’m pretty sure it would encourage him to bother you,” Danny says, though he suspects he shouldn’t even have dignified that with a response. Lydia’s already off, anyway, heading in the direction of some clothing store where all the music comes equipped with thumping bass.

Danny doesn’t really do the whole thing where you’re a gay guy and help straight girls with fashion, but Lydia has never taken no for an answer. To anything. And it’s not so much fashion advice she needs as someone to drag around by the ear and carry her bags. And, because he’s so complacent about that, Danny decides not to tell her that he’s not going to ask Stiles for advice, because he has a friend on the internet who is probably more reliable and less annoying. Which is saying something, because brucethebat24 seems both unreliable and annoying.

Danny messages him when he gets home anyway.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

Okay, so here’s a question:

My friend’s girlfriend has a serious problem w/ one of the members of his new pack. I am not really sure what to do about this, but the dude who she has a problem with manipulated and took advantage of her and it is skeevy as hell. As a result, she doesn’t want to have anything to do w/ the pack but won’t talk to her bf about it. I don’t really even know what I need help with here. I guess maybe pack dynamics? What do you do if a member of your pack is a creeplord?

-w.

p.s. Rereading this, it reads like a Dear Abby. I’m not sure what that says about my life.

Danny doesn’t know what else to say. He doesn’t want to give too many specific details because he has no idea how many werewolf packs there are in the world, and it seems possible--whatever. Better safe than sorry and all that, and he doesn’t want to accidentally give away Lydia’s or Jackson’s identities, because the stuff Lydia said about Peter makes him sound dangerous, and Danny’s pretty sure his most likely cause of premature death is in the process of shifting from ‘car accident’ to ‘supernatural creature’ and he’s kind of conflicted about that.

It doesn’t keep him awake at night, though. Yet.

He wakes up to a message from brucethebat (and he has got to come up with something else to call him in his head) that kind of makes him wonder if his sound sleep is going to go the way of the dodo.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Shit dude. I was kind of hoping you would have a normal werewolf experience and I could experience that vicariously through you, but I guess werewolf pack dynamics are fucked up everywhere. Anyway--

It can be dangerous to be an omega, especially if there are hunters in your area and/or your friend isn’t stable as a wolf. Are the hunters in your area? I forgot to ask. You can recognize them by their wolfsbane. By their wolfsbane you will know them...lol. Sorry. I am probably just going to give up on apologizing for ‘lol’ because I feel like it is the only thing that can properly communicate how hilarious I am irl. lol. Not really. But yes really on still using it without apologizing.

So, omega is kind of out. I think it is possible to go from beta to alpha without killing the old alpha (which is the usual method) but I don’t know too much about that yet. Working on it, but info on werewolves is a bit hard to come by. Obviously, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be talking to a stranger on the internet.

Then the other option is to join another pack. Are there other packs in your area? Is that something your friend would consider?

Without anything else to work with, I don’t know what to tell you about your friend’s girlfriend. You might want to see if there’s some sort of supernatural guru in your area...we kind of have one, and someone like that might have a better idea of what this werewolf did to her? And what you should do? I don’t really have any advice for you on finding this person--I mean, ours happened to be the dude my friend worked for, so we lucked out there. Does your werewolf friend work for any sort of mysterious dudes or ladies who might have hidden skills? Haha. Maybe I can use ‘haha’ instead of ‘lol’? Thoughts?

-Just Call Me Abby

Danny doesn’t really know what to do with that, although he does know that Allison’s a hunter, and Lydia’s talking to Allison, so it follows that Danny could talk to Allison, too. Even if Batman kind of implied that hunters should be steered clear of. And maybe that’s true, because Allison and her dad apparently have the capacity to kill Jackson, but it’s also Allison, and Danny doesn’t know her very well, but even though she’s gone all black-hoodie-black-jeans Danny has trouble believing Allison is going to kill Jackson. Partly because he thinks that if she wanted to she already would have.

Maybe she’ll kill Peter, but maybe that would be okay, and Danny really doesn’t know when he started thinking like that.

It’s just--if what Lydia said was true--Peter was dead once already. People who are dead should stay dead. That doesn’t seem unreasonable, or bloodthirsty, just like the natural order of things. It’s the reason everyone’s afraid of zombies: they used to be dead. It’s not that they want to eat your brains or whatever, it’s that they’re reanimated corpses. As is Peter Hale, if everyone Danny has spoken to is to be believed.

So it’s either talk to Allison or go take Floss to the vet, because Danny is fairly certain that Dr. Deaton fills the ‘supernatural guru’ role that Batman mentioned. Or at least Jackson mentioned something about how Jackson had to take himself to the vet now, what the hell, he wasn’t someone’s pet. Danny had tuned out a little after that.

Maybe it’s just because he sees Allison at school or maybe it’s because Floss bites him whenever they go to the vet, but Danny ends up talking to Allison first. They have study hall together. She’s sitting at a table alone. He just sits down next to her and waits until she looks at him.

Danny knows Allison’s mom died. He went to the funeral with his parents, because his dad knew her from school district stuff. Danny doesn’t know how, but in light of recent events it seems pretty obvious it had something to do with werewolves, especially given that Allison is currently treating Scott McCall like he gave her syphilis--and Danny may not be Scott McCall’s biggest fan (that’s Stiles, obviously) but he would be willing to bet good money that he doesn’t have syphilis. So Danny sits down next to Allison. She has the hood of her black sweatshirt pulled low across her forehead and she’s writing in a notebook and pressing really hard on the paper with her pen. Danny waits.

“Oh,” Allison says when she does finally look up. “Hi.”

“I need to talk to you about Lydia,” he says, because he’s not going to say, ‘I need to talk to you about werewolves’ in study hall.

“And her boyfriend?” Allison asks, thinning her eyes.

“Kind of,” Danny says.

“Forget it,” Allison says, flipping her notebook shut and getting to her feet.

“Sit down, Argent,” Winston Victor calls from the front of the room. Winston Victor is the study hall teacher. His primary hobbies are calling students by their last names and denying them the right to go to the bathroom.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Allison calls back.

“You’ll have to wait until Stewart is back,” Winston Victor says. That will take forever, because Abby Stewart is probably smoking pot by the dumpsters. Danny tries not to look smug. Allison flops back into her chair.

“Look,” she hisses. “Lydia hasn’t really told me anything, she’s just been asking questions. But I kind of have my own boyfriend problems right now, so maybe you two can handle your boyfriend while I deal with this.”

Danny decides to just ignore the part where Allison decided the best euphemism for ‘werewolf’ is ‘boyfriend.’

“She told me,” he says. “Whoever’s dating Peter has bigger problems than either of us.”

“I don’t think so,” Allison mumbles. “I think there’s a crappier boyfriend in town.”

“Argent, Malenny, stop gossiping!” Winston Victor barks. Winston Victor can’t pronounce Danny’s last name. Winston Victor is an idiot. Danny rolls his eyes at Allison, and Allison looks like she’s about to smile before she stops herself. He writes ‘Talk after school?’ on a piece of paper and slides it across the table a few minutes later. Allison just sighs.

He’s kind of surprised to find Allison leaning against his mom’s Yaris when he gets to the parking lot after school. Danny gets the Yaris and the responsibility of picking up his sister and brother from the elementary school when his mom doesn’t have work.

“So?” Allison says, staring at him. “Talk.”

“Peter fucked Lydia over,” Danny says. “That’s the short version. She should probably tell you the details herself. She won’t tell Jackson.”

“Look, I can’t say I’m surprised,” Allison says, pressing the heel of her hand against her forehead and then running her hand over her hair. “But what do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know,” Danny says. Stiles’s Jeep is parked a few spots down from his, and he sees Stiles slink past the van, glance at them, do a double-take, and then fish around his pocket for his cell phone. He’s obviously going to text Scott. Danny choses not to mention this to Allison.

“But you’re a werewolf hunter, right?” Danny says.

“You want me to kill him?” Allison asks. She sounds surprised.

“I don’t know!” Danny says. He stops just short of throwing his arms into the air. “I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s good for Lydia for Jackson to stay in Derek’s pack, and I don’t think Peter’s trustworthy.”

“Probably not,” Allison says.

“So what do we do?”

“We?” Allison asks, arching an eyebrow. “Deaton might be able to help. He helped Scott.”

“Did Scott give you syphilis?” Danny says, because she’s acting like he did again.

“No. Not that it’s any of your business,” Allison replies. “Why?”

“Just wondering,” Danny says.

Allison stares at him.

“I have to go,” she says.

Then she leaves.

Which leaves Danny with a cat to take to the vet. After he picks up Esther and Joey from school. He sends Lydia a text while he’s waiting for them in the elementary school parking lot with a pack of parents.

hey, wanna take floss to the vet with me? hint: the correct answer is ‘yes.’
Sender: Danny Received: 15:01

not really.
Sender: Lydia Received: 15:18

no, seriously, this is about jax/pack.
Sender: Danny Received: 16:22

fine, whatever.
Sender: Lydia Received: 16:25

“Look, you don’t have to avenge my lost virtue or whatever it is you’re trying to do,” Lydia says as she clambers into Danny’s dad’s minivan. Floss hisses at her. Lydia frowns at the surroundings.

“I’m not trying to avenge anything,” Danny says. “But don’t you want to know what’s going on? We’re involved in this now. We can’t pretend we aren’t.”

Lydia shrugs and turns so she’s looking out the window. “Pretending’s been working alright thus far.”

“Don’t lie,” Danny says. All he can see is the back of Lydia’s head, red hair thick and glossy.

“Jackson’s happy,” she replies. “It’s weird, but he’s happy. And it’s weird, but I kind of--I figured I’d let him have the werewolf thing, and I’d keep the rest.”

“The rest?” Danny asks.

“You know, school,” Lydia says lightly. “Normal stuff. It’s good I’m dating Jackson because it’s gone a long way towards making people think I’m sane again, and if everyone still thought I was crazy they’d probably let Emma O’Reilly on Homecoming Court.”

In the back of the van, Floss lets out a baleful meow as they pull into Deaton’s parking lot.

“Emma O’Reilly is not going to beat you,” Danny says dutifully.

Lydia shrugs.

“I just think there are a lot of ways to handle things,” she says. Neither of them move to get out of the car.

“Well, you can handle Peter however you want,” Danny says. “I just want to know what we could do, if we needed to.”

He gets out of the van and goes around to the side to get Floss’s carrier, and after a few moments Lydia moves to do the same.

Scott’s in the office when they get in, and he blinks at Danny a few times before saying, “Stiles saw you with Allison!”

“He’s gay, genius,” Lydia says. “He’s not interested in that jelly.”

“I know,” Scott says, frowning. “Did she say anything about me?”

“She said you didn’t give her syphilis,” Danny says without inflection.

Scott pulls a face. “Safe sex, dude. Also, ew.”

“We’re here to see Deaton,” Danny says. “About Floss.”

He lifts up the cat carrier, and Floss hisses.

“Well, you can wait in the waiting room with everyone else,” Scott says, waving. “That’s what it’s for. There are chairs.”

“Thank you Scott,” Lydia says dryly.

Fifteen minutes of Lydia playing iPhone games later, Deaton can see them.

“We aren’t really here about Floss,” Danny says immediately. “I mean, I guess we’re paying for a check-up, but this is more about something else--”

“Werewolves?” Deaton asks without looking up from Floss, who caterwauls.

“Sort of?” Danny asks. “I heard you might be some sort of supernatural guru.”

“You must’ve been talking to Stiles,” Deaton says. Danny has been doing everything short of talking to Stiles, but he doesn’t see any point in saying that.

Deaton tells them some things, though most of his answers are shrouded and indirect and not answers at all. But he says he might be able to help. But he says he’s loyal to Derek’s family, even if Peter is a reanimated corpse.

“You’re stronger than you think,” Deaton says to Lydia before they leave. Lydia doesn’t reply. Danny can’t blame her; he’s not sure that statement means anything.

Danny leaves Deaton’s a bit more confused than when he got there, but Lydia--there’s a spark in Lydia’s eyes. Floss, on the other hand, bites Danny when he tries to put her back in her carrier.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

Okay, so in the past 24 hours I’ve talked to a hunter and a ‘supernatural guru’ and it hasn’t been a ton of help? How do you even figure out what you need to do? I mean, does supernatural stuff happen to human friends of werewolves? It obviously happened to my friend’s gf, and I sort of had a run-in I didn’t realize was a run-in in the spring, but I feel like no one tells me anything and--I don’t even know what I’m trying to figure out right now. Friend’s gf doesn’t want him to leave the pack, so....Or she doesn’t want to make him leave the pack, anyway.

Not even sure why I’m telling you all this. Is it always this confusing?
-w.

p.s. ‘Haha’ is probably better than ‘lol.’

After eating dinner (with the family!) and sending a message he suspects is patently stupid to Batman, Danny gets a text from Jackson telling him they’re doing werewolf practice or whatever, and he should come. Danny goes just because he has nothing better to do and he kind of hopes that maybe spending time with Derek’s pack will help Danny figure out the right questions to ask. He feels like he’s sitting on his hands right now, spinning his wheels, some other idiom to describe doing nothing when doing something is possible.

Instead of getting direction, he ends up in Derek Hale’s tetanus-riddled subway car while Derek Hale stares at him.

“What are you doing here?” Derek asks.

“Jackson invited me?” Danny says. He’s been here before. He looks around uncertainly for Jackson, who doesn’t immediately manifest himself and is probably late.

Derek frowns.

“I’m Danny,” Danny says.

“We’ve met before,” Derek replies, brow still furrowed.

“He’s Jackson’s friend,” Isaac supplies.

“He’s not in the pack,” Derek says.

“I’ve been here before!” Danny says.

“New rule,” Derek shrugs, and then Peter appears from nowhere, slaps a hand on Derek’s shoulder, and says, “Let him stay.”

“He might be working with Scott,” Derek mutters to Peter.

“I’m not,” Danny offers.

Derek frowns but acquiesces. Peter winks at Danny, and Danny tries to pretend he didn’t notice.

It’s a relief when Jackson gets there.

About halfway through training, such as it is, Isaac comes over and sits next to Danny.

“Why are you here?” he asks.

“I really don’t know. Because Jackson invited me, I guess,” Danny replies. “What are you even training for? Jackson told me you got rid of an Alpha Pack this summer, though he was unclear on what that was.”

“A pack of alphas,” Isaac answers. “We did, thanks to Peter.”

Danny turns to look at him but doesn’t say anything.

“Now we’re just training so we’re ready,” Isaac says. “It’s sort of--bonding, I guess. It makes us closer. Like lacrosse practice makes us a better team.”

“In theory,” Danny says, and Isaac laughs dutifully, then gets up and returns to the rest of the pack. Danny wonders about him--he’s difficult to read, but Danny knows he’s friendly with Scott, and Danny’s occasionally glimpsed something sly and unwritten between Isaac and Boyd and Erica. There relationship drama in Beacon Hills would probably translate well to daytime television or possibly the CW. Not that Danny knows anything about daytime television or the CW.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Supernatural stuff most definitely happens to friends of werewolves, I can tell you that. As for the rest of your question--

Something will happen eventually. I know the waiting sucks and, like, eats away at you from the inside until you’re a jittery hollowed out shell and can’t sleep and look like a zombie (or not, I don’t know your life), but if your friend’s a werewolf and things seem peaceful...it’s like this saying they have about the weather where I live: if you don’t like it, wait five minutes. Or an undetermined amount of time longer. Ha.

But since things are peaceful, not just with your werewolves but with mine, too, mostly I’m dealing with my friend’s relationship troubles--and it’s not pretty, let me tell you. I am not going to tell you how many times I’ve seen ‘Love Actually’ since he broke up with his girlfriend, but suffice to say...I know pretty much every climatic speech in that movie, and there are a few. So, you know, since I’ve been giving you advice, any advice on dealing with lovelorn friends? ‘Cause I figure you owe me something for sharing my searing insights and cutting wit. Your turn to be Abby.

-Batman

 

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

No good advice, because my friend and his girlfriend have the most fucked up relationship on the face of the planet and I am congenitally unable to sustain long term relationships. Just keep it up with ‘Love Actually’, or maybe you can get him to switch to something a bit less--Christmas themed? Has he been watching this since Christmas? I’m sorry. I would pretend there was someone hot in that movie, but I’m pretty sure Chiwetel Ejiofor is only on screen for about ten minutes total.

You say that stuff happens to friends of werewolves, but--what, exactly? What’s our role? I mean, I kind of feel like less than a sidekick right now, just because I’m not sure there’s much I can do, especially since I know so little.

-w.

p.s. Searing insight? Cutting wit? I am not sure I’ve seen much of either of those things on display. Are you sure these messages are going to the right person?

Danny kind of hates the fact that ‘coming out’ isn’t actually something you do once and then you’re done with it. He’d considered not saying anything, but he also prefers being out to not being out. He just doesn’t like the process, because now he has to sit and wait and hope that Batman doesn’t either act like an asshole or assume Danny’s a girl. It is the internet, after all. Anyone could be anyone. It’s not like they asked for a/s/l.

The message he gets from Batman in the morning proves that Batman is not an asshole and doesn’t assume Danny’s a girl, but it is kind of stupid.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

I’m going to answer your werewolf stuff first because that’s, like, the point of our correspondence or whatever. I can’t really tell you what the role is for everyone, but there’s a reason I picked Batman as my sn and not Robin, I guess. Because I might be my friend’s Robin, but I’m my own Batman. Your role is kind of what you make it. I imagine you could pretend your friend isn’t a werewolf and stay away from all the supernatural bullshit, but, well, for one the supernatural bullshit is kind of awesome, and for two my friend’s my friend whether he’s a werewolf or not, and if werewolves are part of his life that means they’re going to be part of mine. I’m not much in a fight, but I do what I can to figure things out. And sometimes shit happens to me, and sometimes I save the day or whatever, and that’s--does any of this make sense? I’m not sure if it does, but I’ve probably said all I can without knowing whether it makes any sense at all, soooo....changing the subject now.

Sorry you’re unable to maintain a relationship. If it makes you feel better, I am congenitally single, dude. As in, there hasn’t even been a relationship to maintain.

Also sorry that Chiwetel Ejiofor (an actor whose name I had to copy-paste from your message because I cannot spell it) is the only person you found to be attracted to in ‘Love Actually’’s LARGE, ENSEMBLE cast. I kind of like Hugh Grant’s gf/secretary/whatever, to be honest. And what about Karl or whatever his name is? (Okay, I know his name, it’s Karl. Or Carl. Spelling, man.) That was kind of a crappy storyline, but he was hot.

Because I guess you were trying to tell me that you were gay, I guess I am trying to tell you that I am bi. THE MORE YOU KNOW. Is this awkward? I am pretty much shit at coming out. I don’t have much practice. Haha. Maybe that’s why I am so single, because, like, 50% of my dating pool doesn’t know I’m interested. Should work on that.

Sorry for the all caps in this one. I just drank a bunch of Red Bull, it’s gonna be a long night.

-NA NA NA NA NA NA NA BATMAN

 Danny almost doesn’t bother replying, but then he wonders if Batman got jacked up on Red Bull because he was nervous about his own coming out thing, and his awkward aside seems to confirm that, so he sends a quick message back before heading off to school.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

I kind of forgot about Karl, actually. I guess he’s okay.

I would tell you coming out gets better, and make a youtube video about it (just kidding, would not do that), but it’s probably awkward, like, 90% of the time? That’s why I came out to everyone I knew all at once by making out with a dude in a public place. Good method, I endorse it. Maybe not good for parents and/or people you want to date, but should work for everyone else. It is also pretty difficult to misinterpret unless you make out with a guy with long hair and people only see you from the back or something.

I think what you said about werewolves makes sense. I think part of it is that I’m still figuring out what I’m even able to do. Right now I feel like most of it has been talking to you.

-w.

School that day is fairly uneventful, and school the next day is equally uneventful. Because it’s the off season for lacrosse and the on season for football they don’t have practice, but Danny does lift in the weight room each morning. On Wednesday, Scott and Stiles are there. He can hear Stiles talking incessantly from the locker room though he can’t make out the words. Stiles and Scott both fall conspicuously silent when Danny walks in.

“Hi,” Scott says.

“Hey,” Danny replies.

“Yo,” Stiles says, giving Danny an awkward quasi-salute.

Stiles and Scott are working with the free weights, and they go back to doing reps while Danny starts his own set. Jackson’s not here yet to spot him on bench press, so Danny just starts with the machines and pretends not to care what Stiles and Scott were talking about before he came in.

“I can spot you,” Stiles says apropos of nothing. He’s just dropped down from the pull-up bar to the floor. Danny knows this because the machine he’s on unfortunately faces the pull-up bar. Stiles’s shoulders and arms have filled out over the summer, though his waist is still slim under his thin t-shirt. Danny shouldn’t be noticing these things. He wishes Martin Marin were here to spot him instead, and also that Stiles would get a new t-shirt.

“Nah, Jackson should get here soon,” Danny says, instead of any of that. “Thanks, though.”

Stiles shrugs. “No problem.” He glances around the room like something’s going to jump out at them, but it’s still just Scott, there. “Hey, Jackson told you, right?”

“Yes,” Danny says slowly.

“Look, if you have any questions--” Stiles looks uncomfortable again, reaches up and scratches the back of his neck. His shirt rides up. He really needs to get a new one. “I mean, Scott and I--just, if you’re wondering about stuff we’ve been doing this for, like, a year.”

“It’s true,” Scott contributes between reps.

“I’ve got a guy,” Danny says, with a somewhat absurd loyalty. It’s not like Batman has been particularly helpful or anything. But they’re kind of friends, which is something Danny isn’t sure how he feels about. He doesn’t really have internet friends. He has a few people he talks to about code and hacking, but he doesn’t know what gender most of them are, let alone anything about their hobbies, sexualities, social lives--

Stiles intrudes on Danny’s thoughts with an: “Uh--is that guy Jackson? Or Derek? Because--”

“No, it’s my cousin Miguel,” Danny says.

“Okay, whatever dude, don’t tell me,” Stiles says, lifting his hands in the air in surrender. “Sorry I told you Derek was my cousin, I know it was a weaksauce lie, you don’t need to be an asshole about it.”

Danny ignores Stiles, who goes back to doing pull-ups. Danny switches to a machine that’s not facing the pull-up bar. Eventually Stiles and Scott retreat to the locker room and Jackson shows up.

“Were you waiting for Scott to leave?” Danny asks, because Jackson is very late.

“It’s not like I really need to work out,” Jackson says. “Derek gives us training.”

Danny kind of wants to mince ‘Derek gives us training’ back at Jackson, but resists the urge.

“Whatever,” Danny says. “I needed someone to spot me.”

“No problem,” Jackson says. And it seems like it isn’t, but Danny kind of wonders--why is Scott lifting weights, anyway, when being a werewolf gives him super strength? Will Jackson keeping setting aside time for Danny in the morning now that he’s had a taste of Scott’s ‘steroids’?

It doesn’t do to be too deeply in his head when he’s lifting, though. Danny focuses on his form, on the shifts in his own arms and shoulders as they bear and lift the weights. It’s a welcome reprieve, actually.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

You’re a researcher, like me! I do a lot of research. The rest just sort of happens. As the bumper sticker on the LeBaron in front of me at the stoplight said: Shit Happens.

I will take your advice into consideration. I am not sure if it’s as effective when coming out as bi? Unless I have a threesome in a public place, but I kind of think threesomes might be too advanced for me, logistically speaking, like I do not understand how threesomes work. Maybe I should watch more porn?

Ugh, I’m sorry. I thought about deleting that but then I didn’t because I am a terrible person. This is what you get for contacting people over the internet. Luckily you and I will never meet! I am Batman and wear a mask! I blush splotchy, which makes me blush more, it’s not the most embarrassing thing about me but it is embarrassing.

I think I’ll just stop typing now.

-B.

 

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

I’m going to ignore most of your previous message to help you maintain what’s left of your dignity, though you’re right that making out in a public place might not work as well if you’re bi. Maybe you should just get a shirt that says ‘Hi, I’m Bisexual’ and be done with it.

Back to the matter at hand: I was just wondering how it works with pack stuff? I mean right now it feels sort of like when your elementary school friend goes away to camp and suddenly has a new clique or whatever. Where do humans fit into this whole thing? I feel like I keep asking that and it’s the root of all my questions. And does being friends with a werewolf instead of a human change anything?

I actually know when I first came out my friend (I should probably come up with a code name for him, huh? Erik as in Lehnsherr?) thought I was going to get a bunch of new gay friends or something and kind of freaked out about that. I don’t know where he thought I’d find a brand new gay social group, but, you know. But this doesn’t feel the same--it’s not like I had to go to queer training or whatever. This feels more like my friend--‘Erik’--has suddenly joined a gang. And everything I learned about gangs I learned from watching ‘West Side Story’ with my mother. Though, to be clear, I don’t actually like musicals, that’s all my mom. I think she was pretty bummed when I came out and still didn’t like musicals.

-w.

p.s. Actually, changed my mind about ignoring your previous message, so how about an exchange instead. Blushing splotchy is actually more cute than embarrassing, but I guess not understanding threesome logistics is kind of embarrassing, so I will tell you (1) that my father, who teaches kindergarten, gave me a very special gay sex talk when I turned fourteen and I couldn’t look at him for a week and (2) he says I have to give it to my younger siblings because he’s never doing that again.

 

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

You’ve only seen the X-Men movies, haven’t you? I think I asked you before and you didn’t answer, but you can’t worm out of this that easily, Hugh Jackman. Well, I’m going to call my werewolf friend Clark, for CLARK KENT, which is Superman since you obviously know nothing about anything worth knowing.

Anyway, about werewolves--I guess it is kind of like a gang, based on what I know about gangs, which is not very much. But humans can join packs. You know that, right? The pack is more like a self-selected family, I think, which is why it’s maybe a problem if you really don’t trust a member of your friend’s pack, and if his girlfriend has a huge problem with this guy. But, yeah, packs can have humans, so it’s not like this is an exclusive clique you can’t join or anything. But it is a big commitment...maybe it’s like if you join a new sports team or something? There are even games/battles, haha, but not really, because werewolf fights are messy. It’s like joining a new sports team where matches could happen at any time and you’re on the team FOREVER. And also you can die--what’s that Aztec sport where people die?--so I guess you’re off the team when you die.

Wow, I really sold myself on that one. Be right back after I question every decision I have ever made. Because, wow, what a great sport, no wonder our team is so small. No one with any self preservation instinct would join that team. Luckily I kind of don’t have one. Or at least that’s what my dad says.

And, okay, luckily I still like it, although it goes against all logic.

-b-man

p.s. Shirt isn’t a bad idea. I bet they sell those on the internet, but am too lazy to check. Also, no one knows my real name (because I’m Batman!) so people might just assume that’s my name and start calling me it, which isn’t the result I’d want a shirt that said ‘Hi, I’m Bisexual’ to have (I mean, I would prefer a threesome, though I still don’t have enough sexual EXP for a threesome, probably, need to level up).

p.p.s. Please don’t call me cute, it makes me blush, and the vicious cycle continues. I am frequently kidding about things and I know it can be hard to tell in text, but I am not kidding about this. Anyway, I’ll call that a fair trade, though I think the sex talk is awkward for everyone.

 Jackson comes over that night, and they play video games until Danny’s mom invites Jackson to stay for dinner, and after dinner play video games until Danny’s mom says Jackson should probably go home so they can both work on their homework. Jackson rolls his eyes a little, but Danny knows Jackson likes being mothered, though he likes moaning about it almost as much. Jackson punches Danny in the shoulder when he leaves, like he usually does, and Danny thinks that maybe nothing’s going to change.

Their lab project proposals are due on Friday. Danny revises his one last time. Their experiments need to be pretty simple, because it’s not like Beacon Hills High is rolling in money to spend on physics supplies, but Ms. Murphy says it’s mostly about learning how research is done, not about conducting groundbreaking research. Danny’s written up a proposal to make a camera obscura and compare the image clarity between various pinhole sizes. The results are kind of obvious, but Danny figures making a pinhole camera will be cool, if Ms. Murphy approves it. She’s assigning partners and projects based on their proposals so not all the proposals will be used, and Danny just hopes that his gets picked.

God, he’s being a nerd about this. Jackson would tell him to shut up, which is why it’s a good thing Jackson went home. Besides, he knows Danny takes his schoolwork seriously. They just don’t talk about it.

Danny’s bedroom is in the front of the house and his desk faces the window, so when he shuts down his laptop he glances over the top of it and out the window, because the window’s right there.

There’s a figure standing in the street, just outside the pooled spotlight of the streetlamp. Danny’s neighborhood is pretty quiet--the Mahealanis live down at the end of a dead-end street in one of those subdivisions that people pretty much only go to if they live there. It’s the sort of neighborhood where Danny’s mom feels okay letting Esther and Joey ride their bikes to the park alone.

So someone is standing outside their house. Danny watches them for what feels like awhile, like ten minutes or something, and they don’t move into the streetlight so Danny can see their face, and they don’t move further down the street. They’re across the street, in front of the park, but Danny’s pretty sure they’re facing the house. They look huge.

He writes a text to Jackson about it, and when he looks up again, they’re gone.

He decides not to send the text. It was probably nothing. He writes another message to Batman, mostly to distract himself.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

You’re right, I’ve only seen the movies. But I knew enough to know that if you were a DC fan Marvel would piss you off, so I think I win this round. Until next time, caped avenger (or is it cloaked avenger? or masked? are you even an Avenger at all? I mean, I saw the movie with, Batman definitely wasn’t there, but there were a lot of great asses conveniently not covered by capes.)

-w.

 

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

I don’t think we can be friends anymore. (We are friends, right?)

-IT’S THE CAPED CRUSADER, asshole

 That weekend Danny goes to the Jungle. They have an under 21 night once a month, and it’s kind of a thing. It’s where Danny met the group Jackson calls his gay posse, mostly kids from other schools in the county and the community college, though there are a couple that go to Beacon Hills High--and when Danny says ‘couple’ he means ‘couple,’ because Jim Howard and Elliot Cho have been dating pretty much since they came out. They’re fun, though, so it’s not like Danny resents them for being a kind of disgustingly cute best-friends-to-lovers type couple, except for when he does.

Still, under 21 night at the Jungle is not something you just miss if you’re under 21 and queer and live in Beacon County, so Danny busts out the eyeliner and his tightest everything and parks his father’s minivan a reasonable distance from the club because it’s a minivan. Sometimes he can convince Jackson to go because Jackson enjoys getting hit on and then they’ll take the Porsche and park near the front, but the Mahealani family minivan is--not a Porsche.

So Danny walks a few blocks from the minivan to the Jungle, and proceeds to dance his ass off.

It’s sort of like being in the weight room, only escalated exponentially: Jackson and werewolves and things lurking outside the house disappear, because all there is is Danny and pulsing music. And, obviously, a club full of other people, but dancing has never really been about the other people. Or it is, but not exactly. It’s like a sport, like any other thing Danny does with his body to give his brain a break. It’s about release, really.

Danny had been pissed when Jackson first explained what happened at the Jungle when Jackson was the kanima, because it felt like his sanctuary had been breached. And it had been, a little, because sometimes he sees Stiles Stilinski here with the passel of drag queens or dancing with too many limbs, which is pretty much how Stiles Stilinski does everything. But the Jungle still feels, not safe, exactly, because nowhere that makes Danny brave enough to hit on guys indiscriminately is safe, but free.

So he dances his ass off, and doesn’t worry about any of this shit--just slides up to some guy whose face he can’t see and lets their bodies fall into rhythm with one another, if only for a little.

Of course, Danny knows the Robert Frost poem: nothing gold can stay. That’s why he’s in A.P. English and Jackson isn’t. Also because Jackson hates Mrs. Alexander, but that’s another matter altogether.

When Danny gets back to the minivan, the rear window’s been smashed. He doesn’t recognize it immediately--he sees something glinting on the back seats when he opens the door, and he thinks it’s ice, which makes no sense. But it makes no sense that someone would break into his soccer-mom minivan, either. It makes even less sense, negative sense, that nothing’s been taken.

He calls Jackson.

Danny doesn’t bother with a fake ID on under 21 night, so he’s sober and running mostly on adrenalin. Everything’s sharp, scenarios reeling through his mind. It was probably just kids, some kids breaking into the car as a joke, to prove they could, but he calls Jackson, anyway.

“Danny?” Jackson asks when he picks up. He sounds a little bleary. Which is reasonable, because it’s 2 a.m.

“I was at the Jungle, and someone broke into the minivan--” Danny starts, then pauses so Jackson can catch up with whatever’s going on

“I’ll be there,” Jackson says. In the background Danny can hear stumbling, banging, Jackson getting up and getting dressed.

“I’m a few blocks away from the club,” Danny says. “On--ah--East 4th?”

“I’ll smell you,” Jackson says, which Danny tries to pretend isn’t creepy as hell. After Jackson hangs up, Danny looks around--it doesn’t look like there are any CCTV cameras anywhere in the area, but he wonders if he should call the sheriff just in case. He doesn’t know what the procedure is. Nothing was stolen, and maybe insurance covers the window, and he just--

Jackson lopes up, then lifts his head and sniffs the air. Danny wonders if this will stop being strange.

“You’re okay,” Jackson states gruffly, then circles the car once, twice, still sniffing. After the second time around, he stands up and he’s human again, which is kind of a relief. He looks confused.

“I don’t smell anything,” he says.

“You mean you can’t tell who did this?”

“I mean I don’t smell anything,” Jackson repeats, looking around. “It smells like dirt and ducks. Derek’s been doing scent tests with us, I should be able to at least get something to follow if it happened tonight--”

“Which it did,” Danny says.

“And I can’t,” Jackson finishes, talking too quickly, like he does when he’s angry. “I should be able to, but I can’t. It smells like dirt. And--” Jackson pauses, sniffs the air. “Blood? Mostly just dirt. And ducks.”

“Ducks?” Danny asks, then adds, because that might be besides the point: “Are you sure you can’t follow it?”

Jackson gives him a withering look. “It’s dirt. There’s dirt everywhere.”

“It doesn’t smell like different dirt? And ducks?” Danny asks. “How can you tell it’s dirt?”

“I don’t know!” Jackson says. “It just is! But it’s mostly dirt. I’m sorry I can’t follow the different dirt smells for you, but you also woke me up because someone broke your minivan window.”

“I was just asking,” Danny says. Jackson stares at him. “There was someone outside my house the other night, after you were there.”

Jackson’s gaze sharpens and narrows, honing in on Danny.

“You should’ve told me,” he says.

“Well I didn’t think it mattered, but then someone broke into my car and--” Danny says, but he’s not sure how to proceed. “Okay?”

“Okay,” Jackson says. “So give me a ride home. I’m tired. You know I stayed home and did homework tonight? Alexander will not get off my back.”

Driving Jackson home is the least Danny can do. Jackson falls asleep on the way.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

Hey, so, weird shit going down. Can you tell me if I’m just being paranoid? I think I’m just being paranoid. It’s, like, 3 a.m. here, so....

Anyway. Yesterday night my friend--code name Erik--was over, and after he left I saw someone standing outside our house, outside the streetlights so I couldn’t see their face. Then they disappeared. I kind of forgot about it, but then tonight someone broke into my car while I was out and didn’t take anything. I freaked out a little and called Erik. He sniffed around and all, but he said all he could smell was dirt. So I drove him home, and now I’m going to bed. That’s it, that’s the story. It doesn’t seem like much now that I write it all down, but...

I’m going to go to sleep now. Maybe it’ll make more sense in the morning.

-w.

p.s. A piece of early a.m. honesty: I guess we’re kind of friends. I mean, I talk to you as much as most of my real friends at this point. Which is making me wonder how this happened, because I am obviously way cooler than you.

 

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

I think I might be a little paranoid, too, but...you’re right, that does sound pretty strange. Is it possible someone broke your car window with a rock or something? Maybe you should check for rocks. But keep an eye out for whatever you saw watching the house, because if it establishes a pattern, that could definitely be something. Based on my extensive experience with creepy supernatural shit, you know.

I’ll see if I can find anything about something supernatural that smells like dirt, though, and let you know. Nothing I’ve encountered thus far, that’s for sure. But never fear, I’m on the case! Haha. Also you’re stuck with me now, and I’ll grow on you like mold. DOUBLE haha. Soon you’ll wonder how you ever lived without these painfully cool messages from yours truly.

-Batman

 On Monday, Ms. Murphy hands around a list of approved projects and assigned partners.

Danny’s camera obscura proposal was accepted, but it would figure that Danny’s paired with Stiles. Or, more accurately, it wouldn’t figure at all. Ms. Murphy said she assigned groups based on similar proposals, and Danny had figured that Stiles was going to do something with the race track and the motion detectors. So either he hadn’t, or no one else’s proposal had made sense with Danny’s so Ms. Murphy had just stuck him with Stiles, who is, at this moment, sliding his desk over to Danny’s, grinning. Before Stiles gets a word out Ms. Murphy is there at his shoulder.

“Hey you two,” she says, smiling at both of them. “I know I assigned you Danny’s proposal, but Stiles--they were both very good proposals. You should probably read one another’s so you know where you’re coming from.”

“Thank you,” Danny says for both of them when Stiles doesn’t immediately reply.

“Well, good luck!” Ms. Murphy says brightly as she moves on to the next group of students. Danny feels bad for Greenberg’s partner. “Let me know if you have any questions.”

“Do you have a copy of your proposal?” Stiles asks, rifling through his backpack. “Because I have mine here, and then you can read it, and I can read yours--if I explain it I’ll probably just babble. I mean, mine was about specular and diffuse reflection, so, uh, you know.”

Stiles thrusts the paper at Danny, and Danny fishes his proposal out and passes it to Stiles. Stiles’s is crumpled and a bit stained in one corner, but when Danny smooths it out and reads it it does seem to be a cohesive proposal. And it’s not about race cars, it’s about optics. Like Danny’s.

It’s not what Danny had expected from Stiles, and in a stupid, small way it throws him for a loop. It’s like walking down the stairs and finding the last step is incrementally shorter than the others--strange and unexpected and almost enough to make him trip, but not quite.

“This is good,” Danny says when he finishes.

“Of course it is,” Stiles says, and pauses for a moment like he’s waiting to see if Danny will retaliate. “Yours is good, too. Better. Which is probably why it got picked.”

It’s so frank and straightforward a compliment that Danny doesn’t actually know how to take it.

“Well,” Danny says. “I guess we should get to work.”

“Sure,” Stiles says. “That sounds great. Um--I don’t actually have your cell phone number, so I guess we should swap numbers? I promise not to drunk dial you. I’m pretty good at not drunk dialing people, since my dad’s the Sheriff and all.”

So that’s how Danny gets Stiles’s number, which doesn’t seem like a big deal when it happens. They talk about their project, mostly logistics and planning and whether Danny’s dad will let them use his tools to make the camera obscura. At the end of class Stiles dashes out with a perfunctory wave to Danny and some muttered something about how he needs to go to be somewhere, something, research.

That’s what he says: “I need to be somewhere, research.” Like that’s a complete sentence on any planet. Danny rolls his eyes and goes to talk to Lydia and not see if Martin Marin will come by his locker before Danny leaves today.

Which he doesn’t, for anyone wondering. Instead Danny ends up trapped in the vortex that is Lydia, which somehow results in Orange Julius at the mall. Again.

“I hate the way malls smell,” Danny says, twirling his straw between his fingers.

“Okay, Jackson,” Lydia says, raising her eyebrows.

“What, so only Jackson is allowed to dislike things based on how they smell now?” Danny says. “Why are we here?”

Lydia checks her watch.

Forty seconds later, Allison sits down at their table.

“Hi,” she says.

“Okay,” Danny says.

Lydia’s lips curl into a feline smile.

“I’d like to call this meeting to order,” she says, tapping the table.

“What is this meeting for?” Danny asks.

“So you’ll stop talking to Allison about me behind my back,” Lydia says brusquely. “Also because I have an announcement to make.”

Danny looks at Allison, who lifts up her hands helplessly.

“I’m in training,” Lydia says.

“For?” Allison prompts.

“With Ms. Morrell,” Lydia says.

“To be a guidance counselor?” Danny asks, because that doesn’t really seem like an apt career choice for Lydia’s particular skill set, which doesn’t have much to do with listening to or guiding other people.

“To be a hedgewitch,” Lydia says. “I went back to Deaton after we visited him, and he sent me to Morrell. Because he says she’s more of a guide, but she--”

“Is a witch,” Danny finishes. He had not really expected this, but it also makes sense.

“A hedgewitch,” Allison repeats musingly. It sounds like she’s on the brink of saying that that will be useful, and Danny wishes he had a clearer idea of what Allison is trying to do.

“So I have a proposal,” Lydia says, her focus on Allison. “An alliance.”

“No,” Allison says.

Lydia looks--surprised. It’s fleeting, but for a moment surprise is written there on her face. Danny looks at Allison.

“No,” she repeats. “I know it seems unreasonable now, but it’s not a simple thing.” Her voice sounds watery. “I’m sorry. I just--can’t.”

Lydia’s face is just south of shocked. Danny is--not sure why he’s here.

“Look,” Allison continues. “You both want to protect Jackson. I understand that. But allying myself with you means allying myself with werewolves, and I just can’t do that right now.”

“That’s why you broke up with Scott,” Danny says.

Lydia rolls her eyes, like Danny should’ve known that already. Allison doesn’t bother answering.

“What are you doing?” Danny asks. “What are you trying to do?”

“What I’m supposed to do,” Allison says, getting to her feet. “Take care of my own.”

And Danny can’t help it--he doesn’t do anything, he just sits there with his futile Orange Julius in the mall food court--but he can’t help but think that’s what they’re all trying to do, and no one knows how, they’re too young or too small, and everything’s splintered and fractured and impossible to see with any clarity.

He doesn’t say any of that, and Allison leaves. Lydia sips on her Orange Julius.

“This isn’t going to work,” she says. “Not if everyone keeps being like--this.”

“Noncommunicative?” Danny supplies.

“Yes,” Lydia says, then sighs. “What do we do?”

“I don’t know,” Danny says. Mostly he hopes the thing he saw outside his house doesn’t kill them all, but maybe that’s the paranoia speaking. Fear of the unknown. People or things breaking into the car.

“So Allison’s a no go,” Lydia says, as if to herself. “I guess that means we’ve got to get the next best thing.”

“Which would be?” Danny asks, though he kind of knows where this is going.

“Scott and Stiles, obviously,” Lydia says.

Danny sighs. “I actually have Stiles’s phone number.”

Lydia raises her eyebrows, purses her lips, doesn’t say a word.

“It’s for a group project,” Danny says.

hey, can you & scott meet w/ me & lydia after school tmrw?
Sender: Danny Received: 16:56

is this a double date? ;)
Sender: Stiles Received: 17:01

in your dreams.
Sender: Danny Received: 17:23

It’s just a silhouette on the lacrosse field when Danny gets to school the next morning, but it’s like the shape is burned into his memory: this is the same figure he saw outside his house. He’s at school early to meet with Jackson so the parking lot’s fairly empty, just a few teachers’ cars, a smattering of student vehicles, not much else. Jackson’s car isn’t there yet, so Danny sits in the van until he pulls up, watching the figure on the lacrosse field. He feels like it might disappear if he so much as blinks, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t move, either. Danny’s not especially close, but it’s hard to believe whoever or whatever it is even breathing.

Jackson pulls into the parking spot next to Danny’s, and turns to stare at him. Danny wordlessly points at the lacrosse field.

After that it’s hard to know how exactly everything happens--Danny knew Jackson could move fast, now, but he’s out of the car and across the field so quickly Danny can hardly see him, much less match pace when Danny gets out of his car and tries to follow. The thing is, the figure disappears even faster than that.

When Danny reaches Jackson he’s standing in the middle of the lacrosse field.

“It just smells like dirt,” he says, bewildered. He spins around like he expects something to happen. “It doesn’t even smell like the same dirt. What the fuck Danny?”

“Did you tell Derek about the window thing?” Danny asks.

“No.” Jackson shakes his head. “It was at some stupid time in the morning, I thought you were just being weird.”

“Thanks for that,” Danny says.

“Obviously I don’t know,” Jackson says, still looking around like he expects something to happen at any moment. “Fuck. I’ll tell Derek tonight--I kind of want to tell him now.”

Danny looks at him. There’s an implied question there, and Danny can probably find someone else to spot him for bench press.

“Go ahead,” he says finally, and watches Jackson disappear into the woods. If it’s dangerous it’s probably for the best, but Danny still feels a tiny, selfish seed of a thing that wants Jackson to spend time with him--not with his new pack, not with Lydia, but with Danny, Jackson’s purported best friend. It’s petty, he knows. He never felt this way when it was just Lydia, but with Derek and the pack it feels different, somehow. Like maybe Danny’s become superfluous.

But he doesn’t have time for self-pity, so he goes to the weight room instead.

Of course Stiles and Scott are there. He wonders if this is their club house. And of course Stiles is wearing the same shitty t-shirt, which now has a hole at least as large as Danny’s thumb in the hem, near where Stiles’s hip bone would be if Danny could see it. Maybe the hole was there before. Danny isn’t usually looking for Stiles’s hips. It’s not like he’s worried Stiles doesn’t have all his bones.

“Maybe you should just see if Lydia can come by now,” Stiles says while Danny tries to remember whether the hole is new. “For our ‘date.’” He actually makes air quotes around the word ‘date.’ Danny definitely does not give a damn about any of his bones.

But school doesn’t start for another half an hour, so it’s not an entirely unreasonable suggestion. Danny texts Lydia.

“I’ve been wondering who’s dating whom in your date scenario,” he says to Stiles while tapping out the message. He thinks he hears Scott start to say something, but Stiles cuts him off.

“You can pick,” he says. And, okay, it’s this again, the ‘Am I attractive to gay guys?’ bullshit that Danny had kind of been hoping Stiles was over.

“No,” Danny says. “No, you aren’t attractive to gay guys.”

“And Scott is?” Stiles asks, aghast, but Danny ignores him and goes to work on one of the machines while they wait for Lydia to show up. It doesn’t take long; she walks into the room, immediately wrinkles her nose, and says, “Ugh, testosterone.”

“Hi Lydia,” Scott says with a wave. Stiles does the same bizarre salute thing he did to Danny the other morning, and Danny moves to sit on one of the benches they have by the free weights.

“Okay,” Lydia says, looking between the three of them. “I’m going to call this meeting to order and hopefully we can get out of here before I start smelling like Axe and body odor.”

“Not it,” Stiles interjects.

“Uh, dude, you totally are,” Scott says.

“No, dude, that is not what this is about,” Lydia says. “I’m proposing an alliance.”

“For what?” Scott asks.

“So we know what’s happening,” Lydia says. “So there aren’t so many groups.”

“But aren’t you allianced with Derek?” Scott asks. “Since Jackson’s in his pack and all.”

“They should be,” Stiles says.

“No,” Danny says. “No, we aren’t doing this again. Everyone has secrets--”

“Everyone,” Stiles repeats. “Who else have you been talking to?”

Danny wonders if that isn’t obvious. It seems like it should be.

“Allison,” Lydia says, like she wants to see Scott flinch.

“What about Derek?” Stiles asks.

“Jackson’s in Derek’s pack,” Lydia says. “That doesn’t mean I am.”

“Wow,” Stiles says. “This sounds like a great foundation on which to build a relationship.”

“Yeah, and worship from afar is also a great relationship foundation,” Lydia shoots back. Stiles flinches this time.

“We’ll do it,” Scott says.

“We’ll what?” Stiles asks, turning to stare at Scott.

“Great,” Lydia says. “Now I can leave these godforsaken place.”

“Don’t you want to spit on our hands and shake first?” Stiles asks. “Become blood siblings?”

“I think I’ll pass,” Lydia says.

“I’m still not sure I understand what this alliance entails,” Stiles mutters, mostly to himself. Lydia’s already collecting her purse and picking her way out of the weight room, heels clicking. “Danny? What does this alliance entail?”

“Lydia and I don’t really know what we’re doing,” Danny says. It surprises him when it comes out of his mouth, because it’s true.

“It makes sense,” Scott says, turning towards Stiles. “They want help, we should help them.”

“Because we totally know what we’re doing,” Stiles says.

“You’re helping--” Scott starts.

“Fine, whatever,” Stiles says, scowling at Scott.

“Look,” Danny says, because for some reason he thinks it might help. “This is kind of about Peter.”

“Oh,” Stiles says. His normally expressive face shutters. “Peter.”

“We get it,” Scott says. He doesn’t look like he wants to say any more, which is good because Danny doesn’t, either. That’s Lydia’s story to tell.

“Hey, Danny,” Stiles says suddenly. “For physics, is there a time you want to meet? I mean, you’re probably busy on the weekend, so--Thursday? After school?”

“I might need to pick up my brother and sister at the elementary school,” Danny says.

“We could go to your house,” Stiles says. “Or you could come by mine after.”

Danny shrugs. “Sure, meet me after school on Thursday.”

Scott’s watching both of them like this is very interesting, which it can’t possibly be.

“Welp,” Stiles says. “I think I’m going to take a shower.”

“Lydia’s comment made him self conscious,” Scott says to Danny, sotto voce.

“As it should,” Danny says.

“True facts,” Scott says, wrinkling his nose. Stiles flips them off without turning around.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Hey, so have you seen that thing/person standing outside your house again? I did some research--not gonna lie, I kind of hoped you were dealing with a mud monster, that’d probably be cool, but I think the most likely possibility is that you have a golem on your proverbial hands. Here’s the DL:

-Golems appear in Jewish folklore, and also I guess in the Brothers Grimm?--you can find this all on Wikipedia.
-But the info I found about them doesn’t quite match up. They’re usually created by sorcerers, from dirt. As a sort of automaton made of dirt.
-They’re also like Voldemort’s horcruxes, if you’re into Harry Potter? They need something at the center of them to give them life--something from the sorcerer. It can be a part of them or a valued possession.

That’s what I have so far, keep you posted as I find out more. Not much about destroying them, but if they haven’t attacked you maybe the sorcerer is just using them as spies? Obviously you need to find the sorcerer.

Hope everything’s hunky-dory.

-B.

 

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

Maybe I’m missing something really obvious, but I think I need more information about sorcerers, here. Is it possible this werewolf my friend has a problem with is also the sorcerer? What can they do? Any identifying features? Large hats? Remember that I’m new to all this, although my werewolf friend’s girlfriend (uh--codename Mystique?) and I are working on working with some of the other supernaturally involved people in our town. Not that that’s easy, mind you. Everyone has some sort of tragic secret. Or is an idiot. No middle ground, here, we’re surrounded by dumbasses and emo kids.

And, yeah, saw the golem or whatever again this morning. The thing is fast for a blob of dirt. And--I forget if I mentioned this--but my friend--Erik--said it smelled a little like blood, which makes sense for your horcrux/whatever explanation. (And I may not be a huge comics nerd, but I did read Harry Potter just like everyone else. Besides, I have younger siblings.)

-w.

 

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Ex-cah-use me, but I’m a geek.

I actually haven’t encountered a sorcerer in the wild myself. I’m pretty sure your werewolf isn’t one, though it’s possible they’re affiliated with the sorcerer or something? If you could follow the golem or maybe figure out who might want something from you/your werewolf friend? I know this advice is pretty lame, but it might be a start...

I’m trying to work out how you could destroy a golem, because I think if you could figure out what’s inside it that might be a good clue about the identity of your sorcerer. Nothing yet, so in the meantime you’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way: with elbow grease and ingenuity and sexual favors, obviously. That’s how I earned my werewolf chops. Just kidding, I have no chops, whatever those are. Certainly not the mutton variety, haha.

-B.

 “So Peter says it’s a golem,” Jackson says, and Danny tries to pretend like he didn’t know that already, which is easy enough because he is genuinely surprised to have Batman’s theory confirmed.

“What did Peter say we should do?” Danny asks. Jackson gives him an odd look, and too late Danny realizes he should’ve asked what a golem is, first.

“Kill it dead,” Jackson says, grinning with teeth, which is not exactly the answer Danny had been hoping for.

“How?” he asks.

“There are letters on its forehead,” Jackson says, shrugging. “We just need to erase the first one.”

That had been on the Wikipedia page, and now Danny wonders why Batman hadn’t mentioned it as a possibility. There’s no reason he can think of, so he figures it must not’ve been mentioned in whatever Batman’s supernatural source is. So Wikipedia it is: crowdsourcing at its best. Or worst. Or whatever.

“How do you catch it?” Danny asks.

“Derek thinks it’s following me,” Jackson says. “So I figure we wait. I mean, Derek’s following me now, in case the thing’s following me, so--”

“Derek’s following you,” Danny repeats.

“Yeah,” Jackson says, looking around like he expects Derek or the golem to manifest. “Or, well, he’s outside the school, and the rest of us are looking out for things inside the school, so.”

“And you’re okay with this,” Danny says.

“Derek’s not that bad,” Jackson says, which is Jackson for, ‘I actually like Derek a lot’, which is something Danny doesn’t really know what to make of. Derek had once threatened Jackson in the school hallway. Jackson told Danny that in one of his sporadic offers of information.

“Okay,” Danny says. “But who’s controlling the golem?”

“I don’t get how you know about golems,” Jackson says. “Are you Jewish? Peter said golems were Jewish.”

“No,” Danny says. “My cousin Miguel told me.”

Jackson rolls his eyes. “Whatever. Derek figures it’s someone trying to attack the pack, though we don’t know who or why. But if we get the golem we can probably figure it out or whatever. So, you know, win-win. But don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.”

Danny isn’t worried, except that he is. He doesn’t really get why the golem would single out Jackson to follow, or why it would break into Danny’s dad’s van, but it is made of dirt. He rubs his temples as he follows Jackson down the hall to merge with Isaac and Boyd and Erica, who are walking suspiciously close together. Maybe Danny should ask them about the logistics of threesomes so he can tell Batman.

He is really, really not going to do that, though.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

So, werewolves think it’s a golem, too. They say you just need to erase the first letter on its head to kill it, just like Wikipedia claims. I’m sure that’s easier said than done, though. I am seriously mystified as to how something made of dirt can be so fast. It defies the laws of physics. Or it should.

-w.

 Sometimes, Danny surprises himself with the things he doesn’t realize.

The golem seems to defy the laws of physics, so what if it’s an illusion? That’s possible, with mirrors as much as magic. This is probably about the time he should call Stiles, since he wrote a proposal on mirrors and optics, but he still hasn’t told Lydia everything that’s going on and she’s taking physics at the community college, so he calls her instead.

They end up at the mall with Orange Julius, because Lydia is nothing if not a creature of habit, and also was in the middle of manicure when Danny called.

“Jackson told me about the golem,” she says. “He also told me not to leave the house until he ‘Took care of it.’”

“You could tell him about Peter,” Danny says, because it feels like he should. “He’s trying not to be a shitty boyfriend.”

“I’m actually kind of okay with him being a shitty boyfriend,” Lydia says. “That’s part of the appeal.”

“I don’t understand that,” Danny says, because he doesn’t.

“He doesn’t worry about me,” Lydia says. “He lets me do what I want. I don’t need him to pretend to care when he doesn’t, because he cares enough. It’s all of the social advantages of having a boyfriend with none of the work.”

“Didn’t something magical happen when Jackson became a werewolf?” Danny asks. “True love? That’s what Jackson said.”

“Jackson said ‘True love?’” Lydia asks, and snorts. “I don’t think he’s realized that true love for us is never going to look like it does for, like, Scott and Allison or whatever. It’s like you and Jackson and best friends aren’t the same as Scott and Stiles as best friends. Different people need different things.”

“I don’t know when you got wise,” Danny says, dipping his straw into his drink and pulling it out again. “But it’s freaking me out.”

“Trial by fire will do that to you,” Lydia says wryly. “If you’re lucky. Now, about the golem?”

Danny tells her his theory--that golem moved too quickly, that it’s just smoke and mirrors or magic or something, and Lydia hums lightly to herself and taps her chin.

“Could it be Peter?” Lydia asks.

“I don’t think so,” Danny says, and tells her what Batman had said about sorcerors, attributing the information so vaguely that Lydia has to be suspicious, but for some reason doesn’t question Danny on it.

“But if it’s not Peter, who? And why?” she asks. And if that isn’t the million dollar question, Danny doesn’t know what is. The golem hasn’t attacked anyone, or hurt anything except for the window of Danny’s father’s minivan, and that was covered by the insurance. It hasn’t really done anything at all, except appeared.

“Hell if I know,” he says. “I think we’ll need some elbow grease and ingenuity and sexual favors.”

Lydia looks at him oddly.

“So you’re saying?”

“We have a mystery to solve,” Danny says. “I guess.”

“Just call me Daphne,” Lydia says.

“Does that make Jackson Fred or Scooby-Doo?” Danny asks.

Lydia ignores him.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

I didn’t find anything new, so good luck, then. And keep me posted. Seriously, dude: I know it sounds stupid, but I’ll worry if I don’t hear from you. wherewerewears and I used to talk sometimes and she has completely disappeared--and it’s not even like we were really friends, honestly. But when people who deal with werewolves drop off the face of the internet, it doesn’t exactly inspire optimism about their fates. So yeah. I’m sure you’ll be fine--it’s not like your golem has even been violent, has it?--but keep me posted.

Not that I’m worried or anything. Obviously everything I’ve written negates that, I’m trying and failing to make a joke here, so I’ll just be frank: people dying sucks.

-B.

If Danny’s frank, he’ll admit that he doesn’t know what’s going on with Batman. It’s just one more thing he doesn’t really understand, and it feels like it should be the least significant, given the golem and the sorcerer or whatever’s going on in real life. Batman is on the internet. He’s a real person somewhere, but not here, in Beacon Hills, where Danny has other things to deal with.

The thing is, he hasn’t thought about Martin Marin in a while (possibly because he never sees Martin Marin, the stars that are their schedules just don’t align this semester). And he’s pretty sure Batman is a guy. And this is, or could be, more than an idle attraction to a probably straight guy, because Batman is bi, and they’re friends. Danny’s never dated someone he’s friends with. He kind of thought friends weren’t his type.

But he’s not thinking about this, even though he is, because he’s sitting at his desk and staring out the window trying to see a golem that isn’t there and put together a puzzle with too few pieces and it seems like Batman is all there is to think about.

Batman probably lives in Europe. He doesn’t seem European, if people who are European seem any particular way, but Batman probably lives there anyway. He’s an American ex-pat. He goes to an international high school. There’s no way Danny’s family would pay for a plane ticket off the continent unless it’s to visit family in Hawai’i, and he has no money, so he and Batman’s paths are never going to cross because Batman goes to a European boarding school.

Yeah.

There’s still nothing happening outside the window. Neither Jackson nor Lydia have any leads on anything. Danny goes to bed.

Allison says she doesn’t know any sorcerers in town.
Sender: Lydia Received: 08:17

& neither does her dad.
Sender: Lydia Received: 08:23

Hottie McWidower Argent says sorcerers like poplar trees.
Sender: Lydia Received: 08:47

please never call him that again. his wife just died!
Sender: Danny Received: 09:34

She died months ago. Almost all the trees in this town are varieties of poplar, did you know that?
Sender: Lydia Received: 09:43

 Stiles follows Danny home on Thursday like a lost puppy, sitting shotgun in Danny’s mom’s Yaris and somehow, absurdly, charming Esther and Joey with jovial questions about the school day and which teachers they like the least and why.

Joey’s the one who asks if Stiles is Danny’s boyfriend, because Joey is all about Noah’s Ark and two-by-two-ing people.

“Um,” Stiles says, looking at Danny. “No, we’re just working on a project.”

“We’re twins,” Joey says in explanation. “Danny doesn’t have a twin, so he needs a boyfriend.”

“He has Jackson,” Stiles says. Joey rolls his eyes.

“Jackson has Lydia,” Joey says. “That’s three, there needs to be two.”

“Should I explain threesomes to your younger siblings?” Stiles hisses at Danny. “Wait, I think I just answered my own question.”

“If you roll your eyes your face might stick like that, so I think you should keep doing it,” Stiles says to Joey.

“My mom says that’s not true,” Joey says.

“Well, your mom’s very upfront with you.” Out of the corner of his eye, Danny can see Stiles gesturing, apparently trying to communicate something wordlessly. Probably about how maybe he should try to explain threesomes to Danny’s seven-year-old siblings.

“Joey, do you have friends other than Esther?” Stiles asks.

“Yes,” Joey says. “And Esther has friends other than me. But then we’re four, which is two twos. We’re doing multiplication in math.”

“Okay,” Stiles says. “So you just have a problem with uneven numbers. Did you know I don’t have any siblings at all?”

Danny should probably tell Stiles that this is fruitless, but it’s kind of entertaining.

“So you should date Danny,” Esther chimes in.

“You do realize dating someone is not the same as being siblings with them, right?” Stiles asks.

“Duh,” Esther says.

“Yeah, duh,” Joey says, rolling his eyes. “There’s kissing. That’s when you put your mouth on someone else’s mouth, and it’s gross.”

“It is,” Stiles agrees gamely. “You know what else is gross?”

“Mold!” Esther exclaims immediately. “But not mushrooms.”

“Breakfast eggs,” Joey says, frowning. “And snakes.”

“I was thinking more along the lines of--mud,” Stiles says. Which doesn’t seem that gross to Danny, but the twins go along with it until they get home.

“Joey and Esther are--” Stiles starts when they’re upstairs in Danny’s room with a plate of microwaved pizza pockets.

“Seven,” Danny provides. “They liked you.”

Stiles doesn’t say anything to that. It looks like he’s about to say something, but he stops himself with a pizza pocket, then restarts the conversation by saying, “It was nice of your mom to make us snacks.”

“Yeah,” Danny says. He doesn’t quite know how to reply; he hasn’t forgotten that Stiles’s mom is dead, but that’s also not the sort of point you raise without solicitation.

Stiles’s mouth is full of pizza pockets, but he still slides his chair over to Danny’s and says: “So what are we doing?”

Danny hates having people look over his shoulder when he’s on the computer, but in this case it’s a necessary evil. Danny opens up the blueprint for making a pinhole camera, and Stiles leans forward, peering at the screen.

“So your dad will let us use power tools?” Stiles asks.

“My dad will let me use power tools,” Danny corrects. “You I’m not so sure about.”

Stiles face contorts into something--lower lip jutting out, chin wrinkled--that must be his approximation of a pout.

“Okay, cool, I’ll stand by the phone and call 9-1-1 when you cut yourself. I totally know the operator,” Stiles says. “And I make a mean tourniquet.”

“Wow,” Danny says dryly. Stiles falls silent, and remains so; Danny almost feels guilty, like he should’ve responded to maintain the banter that Stiles relies on like its his social lifeblood. Danny’s actually surprised that Stiles doesn’t rally himself immediately and instead sits there, letting the room descend into an awkward silence while Danny prints off the instructions.

“So how’s Jackson?” Stiles finally asks when Danny’s considering turning on some music just for something to listen to.

“Well,” Danny says. “He likes Derek.”

Stiles snorts a little. “That figures.”

It occurs to Danny that he and Scott and Stiles and Lydia ostensibly have some sort of alliance, but he’s not sure what to say about that. Maybe they should tell Scott and Stiles about the golem, but if the pair of them haven’t encountered it--

“How’s Scott?” Danny asks instead.

“Oh, you know,” Stiles says. “Pining. Trying to figure out whether Allison’s sweatshirts mean anything. Eating a lot of macaroni and cheese.”

“Kraft?” Danny asks.

“Of course,” Stiles says. “It’s the only kind he knows how to make.”

That’s actually true of Jackson as well. Danny says as much, and an idle conversation about friends who fail at cooking and Kraft macaroni and cheese gets them from Danny’s room to the woodshop in the basement where they both have to put on protective headphones anyway.

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

All quiet on the western front.

Is actually a book they’re making us read in lit class right now.

-w.

 

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Us too! Isn’t public school gr8 like frosted flakes? Unless you don’t go to public school, in which case I guess money can’t actually buy happiness, so please pretend to go to public school so I can maintain these illusions about wealth.

Also have to do a group project with someone I’m 98% sure hates me, which is always super fun. But aren’t group projects always?

All quiet on the werewolf front, though. Insert foxhole joke here, foxhole joke is hilarious, laugh raucously, pass SAT with flying colors for using ‘raucously’ correctly in a sentence.

(Haha.)

-B.

 “So aspens are poplars,” Lydia says, coming up alongside Danny in the hallway. “And cottonwoods are poplars. And poplars are also poplars.”

“Did you have a fun trip to the arboretum?” Danny asks.

“Did you have fun that time you stood around my locker waiting for Martin Marin to show up only he was home sick from school that day?” Lydia asks. “And then the janitor kicked you out of school?”

“That never happened,” Danny says.

“And I didn’t go to the arboretum,” Lydia says. “I just went on Wikipedia and looked at list of poplars.”

“Where’s Jackson?” Danny asks, just to change the subject.

“Mrs. Alexander wanted to talk to him about his incomplete grasp of syntax and diction, I imagine,” Lydia shrugs. “I’m not his keeper.”

Danny would kind of like to contest that point, but ultimately he doesn’t bother. Allison appears on Lydia’s other side but doesn’t say anything before grabbing Lydia by the elbow and tugging her into an unused staff bathroom, gesturing for Danny to follow.

“Look,” Allison starts, eyes flitting between Danny and Lydia. “I saw it last night.”

“The golem?” Danny asks. “Where?”

“Derek knows about the golem?” Allison says, which is kind of an about-face from the question Danny asked her.

“Jackson told him,” Lydia says. “Where’d you see it?”

“I was tracking Peter,” Allison says. Lydia flinches.

“Are you sure that’s--” she starts to say.

“Yes,” Allison says. “I’m sure.”

“So you were tracking Peter,” Lydia echoes.

“And I saw it in the woods,” Allison says.

“Was Peter with it?” Danny asks. “Telling it what to do or something?”

“No,” Allison says. “It was following him.”

Danny looks at Lydia, who’s watching Allison narrowly.

“Is that all that happened?” she asks. Allison grins, a quick flash of dimples.

“You’re just supposed to erase the first letter, right?” she says. “I mean, I’m pretty sure it worked, but--”

“Allison!” Lydia’s voice gets a little pitchy. “How did you? Where? What happened?”

Allison shrugs. “The thing is, any sorcerer worth their salt will just make a new one. But it sort of--froze, and turned to stone. It’s still there, out in the woods.”

“Nothing came out of it?” Danny asks, and Allison turns to him, looking surprised.

“No,” she says.

“So we aren’t any closer to anything,” Danny says.

“We know it was following Peter--” Lydia beings.

“And I got it because it wasn’t paying attention to me,” Allison adds. “It was pretty single-minded.”

Lydia purses her lips into a frown. “Peter.”

“Yeah,” Allison says. “I kind of wonder why I bothered breaking it, under the circumstances, but I wanted to see if I could.”

“Danny?” Lydia asks. “Thoughts?”

“If it turns to stone we can’t figure out what’s inside it,” Danny says, because that’s what he’s been thinking since Allison said it turned to stone. “And if it’s following Peter why was it outside my house?”

“Maybe Peter was outside your house,” Allison says, which is so creepy that Danny immediately and wordlessly shunts it aside.

“Maybe it was looking for something,” Lydia says softly.

They look at one another, because Lydia’s probably onto something, though it’s obvious that none of them are sure precisely what. They stand there together in the staff bathroom, which smells strangely, strongly, of rose water.

“I’m late for class,” Allison says, which means they all are.

“Not like we were going to figure anything else out in here, anyway,” Lydia mutters.

“Meet me after school,” Allison says. “I’ll take you to the golem.”

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

So we got a golem, but it turned to stone? I wasn’t involved, but I went to see it this afternoon, and it’s definitely rock solid. Still no clear motive. It was following creeper wolf, though. Think it was looking for something. Thoughts?

-w.

p.s. Group projects are terrible. I have one, too, with this asshole. I mean--I don’t think it’s intentional most of the time, he’s just someone who has been annoying me for awhile. By which I mean years.

 

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

I don’t know why you think I’d have any idea, dude, because I didn’t. Know a geologist who can help? Haha.

Sorry, that wasn’t even funny. And I’d kind of stopped apologizing for these things, but what can I say? Old habits die hard.

Why do you think the golem’s looking for something?

-B.

p.s. From personal experience as a professionally annoying person, I can tell you that’s it’s usually only people I like that I annoy for years.

 Danny and Stiles meet on Sunday to take pictures with their pinhole camera, because it turns out Danny’s weekend isn’t as busy as Stiles had given him credit for.

“So you know a lot about cameras, huh?” Stiles asks while Danny loads the film. It’s such a stupid sentence. It almost sounds like a line, but if it is it is also the most inept line the world has ever seen, and not just because it’s uttered by Stiles Stilinski. But Danny kind of appreciates it, because it means Stiles is trying.

“Yeah,” Danny says. “I guess you could say that.”

“You do photos for the school paper, don’t you?” Stiles says. He’s sitting on a picnic table. They’re in one of the smaller parks in town. The weather’s edging towards fall, and dry husks of leaves blow past, but Stiles is sitting on the picnic table with a thin plaid shirt pulled over his shoulders. Danny feels like he should offer one of the coats or blankets that is probably in the minivan, because the minivan accumulates things.

“I didn’t know anyone read the school paper,” Danny says.

“I don’t,” Stiles says. “I just look at the pictures.” He grins at that, like he finds his own joke so funny he can’t help himself. “But seriously, dude, they’re good.”

“They’re just pictures of quiz bowl champions and new teachers,” Danny says with a shrug. “It’s no big deal.”

“Whatever,” Stiles says, hopping off the picnic table. “So what are we doing, again? And what are we going to take beautiful pictures of?”

“You know what we’re doing,” Danny says.

“Alright, I do,” Stiles says. “But tell me more about photography, Ansel Adams. We’re in California, we could totally drive to Yosemite right now if we lived in a movie.”

“Good thing we don’t, because I’m not sure I want to spend eight hours in a car with you,” Danny says dryly.

“It’s only eight hours if you drive fast,” Stiles says. “Dad and I drove there once, and he wouldn’t let me stop for bathroom breaks unless he needed to go, and he has, like, a bladder of iron, forged on many late night stakeouts.”

“Too much information, Stilinski,” Danny says, because it’s true.

“Yeah, kind of realized that after I said it,” Stiles says. He shrugs like it’s no big deal, but he’s going a bit pink and splotchy around the gills. “Let’s just erase that part of the conversation, I actually thought we were doing kind of alright. Let’s replace it with a movie montage of us driving to Yosemite while listening to Taylor Swift.”

They were doing alright, though Danny’s unwilling to admit it. He makes a noncommittal noise and keeps walking. Stiles follows.

“What else can we talk about without you getting pissed at me?” Stiles muses aloud. “How are the twins?”

“Good,” Danny says, instead of ‘Bummed you aren’t my boyfriend.’

“Good,” Stiles echoes.

“They’re in second grade,” Danny says as he balances their pinhole camera on his tripod. “They are pretty stoked to dress up as ‘Gravity Falls’ characters for Halloween, I guess.”

“Isn’t that reference going to be a little obscure?” Stiles asks, because of course Stiles watches ‘Gravity Falls.’ “And adorable, but, you know, I still have memories of dressing up as Nightwing and no one getting it.”

“They’re twins,” Danny says flatly. “They like things about twins.”

“Whatever gets them candy, then,” Stiles says. “More power to them.”

“Pretty much,” Danny says. They’re just taking pictures of a tree with different exposure times, so Danny does the first few while Stiles keeps on talking.

“So as their older brother, do you get, like, a cut of the candy? Because I was kind of bummed when I was too old for trick-or-treating and would be willing to pay you for your cut,” Stiles says. “You know, theoretically, if that’s a thing.”

“Not a thing,” Danny says. “You could just go buy cut-rate candy on November 1st like everyone else in America.”

“I do that, but it just isn’t the same without a few Bit-of-Honeys I don’t want,” Stiles says.

Danny takes the last photo, then looks at Stiles.

“Alright, we’re done. I’ll just develop these and then we’ll be good,” he says.

Stiles looks around and doesn’t move, just shoves his hands deep into his pockets.

“I feel like I’m not being that much help,” he says. “And I hate that dude who isn’t much help on group projects.”

Danny kind of hates that dude who insists on helping on group projects when he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he doesn’t say that. He’s not sure why, but he says, “You can come to the darkroom with me if you want. I could use the company, and you can use the experience to alleviate your guilt.”

“Great!” Stiles says. “Where’s the darkroom? Let’s go.”

want to go get oj at the mall?
Sender: Lydia Received: 15:13

can’t, working on project w/ stiles. I’m starting to worry you’re turning into a mall rat, possibly also regressing to age 13.
Sender: Danny Received: 15:45

what is this, the ‘90s? also, I’m not going to ask why you’d rather hang out w/ stiles than me. what happened to martin marin?
Sender: Lydia Received: 16:01

it’s homework for physics. I’m turning off my phone.
Sender: Danny Received: 16:02

“Mr. Williams gave me key-card access so I can do work for the newspaper whenever,” Danny explains when they get to the school.

“Seriously?” Stiles says. “Just--seriously? How did I not know this? How did--you do realize all the potential this has for mayhem, don’t you? You can go in the school whenever you want.”

“It records that I came in,” Danny says. “It’s not exactly incognito.”

“Whatever, like you couldn’t hack this school’s shit security system,” Stiles says. The security system is new since last year, but it is kind of shit, and Danny probably could hack it, but there’s not anything he wants to do in the school that makes it seem worth the trouble.

“Not worth the trouble,” Danny says. “Like I really want to spend more than forty hours a week in school.”

The high school is quiet and empty, and their voices and footsteps echo in the hollow halls. It feels creepy, kind of, and if Danny saw the golem here and now he’d probably scream. Which is why it’s a good thing the golem doesn’t show up. Instead it’s just Danny and Stiles, which is--weird.

The darkroom’s in the back of the school near the shop classrooms, in a hallway no one ever uses. Danny unlocks the door with a key and Stiles lets out a low whistle that Danny suspects is somehow sarcastic.

The darkroom looks the way Danny left it, because he’s pretty much the only one who uses the place. Stiles hefts himself up onto the long counter in the back and asks a lot of inane questions while Danny sets things up, but it somehow manages to be comfortable and not annoying. Danny fishes the 120 reels out of the back of the cabinet.

“This is just developing film,” he says, like that explains something. “I mean, I’ll have to come back after it dries to print.”

“I could come with,” Stiles says. “To keep you company.”

“I’m not going to tell Ms. Murphy to dock your grade if you don’t do all this with me,” Danny says. “This part has more to do with chemistry class, anyway.”

“Ugh, Harris,” Stiles says. “Thanks for reminding me of that asshole, geez.”

“Welcome,” Danny says. There’s a companionable silence, and Danny is kind of surprised to find himself thinking of it as such.

“So werewolves,” Stiles says suddenly. “I feel like we don’t talk about werewolves that often.”

“Should we?” Danny asks. “I mean, I’m not going to talk about werewolves in class, unlike you and Scott.”

“Low blow,” Stiles says, but he doesn’t sound offended. “Nah, I mean, it’s just--something we have in common that we never talk about.”

“Scott’s not in Jackson’s pack,” Danny says. “They probably never talk about being werewolves.”

“Probably not,” Stiles says. “Except for that time Jackson thought Scott was taking steriods.”

“So,” Danny says. “We don’t need to talk about it, just because we could.”

“Werewolves are weird, dude,” Stiles says. “Sometimes you want to talk to someone about it.”

Danny doesn’t say anything. He needs to turn off the lights to load the film now; he tells Stiles that instead of responding.

When the room plunges into darkness Danny closes his eyes, because it almost seems easier to see that way, rather than letting his eyes strain for a light that’s not there. Across the room he thinks he can hear Stiles breathing, but otherwise it’s very quiet and very dark. Stiles is so quiet, actually, that Danny stops thinking about him altogether and lets his thoughts turn to Batman, because that’s who Danny talks to about werewolf stuff, and occasionally other stuff, and he obviously isn’t 24 and doesn’t go to an international school in Europe, but--

“So is there like a CD player in here?” Stiles asks.

“Only if you like Lupe Fiasco,” Danny replies, finishing with the second roll of film, sealing the canister, and flicking the lights back on. “But it’s over there.”

“The CD player only works if you like Lupe Fiasco?” Stiles says, making a face that suggests he’s skeptical of this.

“The only CD I have in here is Lupe Fiasco,” Danny says. “And if you have the bad taste--”

“No, no, whatever, Lupe Fiasco is fine,” Stiles says, and Danny doesn’t feel like arguing about music, partly because arguing about music is one of Danny’s pathetic flirting tactics (though it usually works, so whatever), so he doesn’t reply and waits for Stiles to go turn on the CD player. That’s pretty much how the rest of it goes, as Danny puts the film through developer and rinse and fix and rinse--Lupe Fiasco, Stiles sitting on the counter and making idle comments, Danny doing his darkroom things.

It’s only later, once Danny’s dropped Stiles off at his house and gone home himself, that he realizes that he hadn’t had anyone in the darkroom with him before, and having Stiles there was actually kind of--comfortable.

He tries not to think about what that could mean.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Hey, so, I know this is super and awkward and weird and all, so feel free to just...ignore this message and go back to business as usual.

But how do you tell if a guy is into you?

Like I said, congenitally single, here. God, this is embarrassing.

-B.

 

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

Well, it’s not like every guy’s the same. What do you do if you’re interested in someone? I usually act interested. You know, actually ask questions about him. Though lately I’ve kind of been into this guy I can never find, so that hasn’t gone too well.

What brought this on, anyway?

-w.

 

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Just a guy. Don’t think he’s interested in me--probably just wishful thinking or something. I’ve kind of accepted that I’m not someone people want to date, which may sound--yeah--but, well. And this is someone I’ve kind of been interested in for a while but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t take me seriously. Not that people normally are, but--sorry, this is pathetic, moving on.

I was reading some stuff about spirits that will show up visibly but not on film or in mirrors. I was wondering--that might be a way to get to the center of your golem rock? I mean, it might not work at all, but if you don’t have any other leads it’s probably worth an old college try (whatever that is--it’s something my dad says).

-B.

p.s. Hey, how’s your group project going?

It’s actually a good idea. It might not work, but on the chance that it might Danny kind of wants to call Batman up and call him a magnificent bastard or something. And, hey, if Batman is going to get a boyfriend--which seems possible to Danny, despite Batman’s claims to the contrary--and disappear from Danny’s life entirely in a whirl of romance he might as well go out on a helpful note.

Danny’s trying to avoid plumbing his feelings about Batman’s--whatever it is Batman has or might have. They kind of had a thing going, Danny thought, but neither of them had made any explicitly romantic overtures, and Batman isn’t actually any more real than Batman, for all Danny might like him to be. It would probably be good if he started dating. Then Danny could go back to thinking about Batman as his source for information about werewolves and maybe find a boyfriend who actually exists somewhere in close proximity to Beacon Hills. Because they’ve never even mentioned meeting up, and Danny just--

Whatever. Batman is not the matter at hand. The golem is. Danny needs to go photograph it. But he doesn’t really want to go alone.

Danny calls Jackson, and when he doesn’t answer he calls Lydia, and when she doesn’t reply he realizes they’re probably together and stares at his phone. One point in favor of Joey’s dislike for threesomes, that there.

He paces the house until his mother makes him clean the garage, and then he paces the garage, and then he texts Stiles because he just needs someone to come with him into the woods and Danny figures he can tell Stiles it’s for physics and not explain what they’re photographing. It’s Monday afternoon, Stiles probably isn’t doing anything.

Danny’s right. Stiles seems excited about it and offers to drive. He even lets Danny pick the radio station.

They’re both mostly quiet on the drive to the forest preserve. Stiles is tapping on the steering wheel, completely out of rhythm with the music, and Danny stares at his long fingers and then at the windshield.

“Hey,” says Stiles about when Danny starts to wonder why he isn’t talking. “So. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you know how I was talking about not talking about things people have in common with one another? The other day. So--uh, this isn’t about werewolves, really at all, but I’m bi. I just--I don’t know, I felt like I should introduce myself to you.”

For someone who has actually come out to people, Danny doesn’t really know how to receive the information himself. He suppresses the inclination to access Stiles’s potential dateability, because this is still Stiles and Danny is still--whatever--about Batman and probably inclined to make poor decisions, like trying to turn Stiles Stilinski into a boyfriend because Stiles happened to come out to him at an inopportune moment. Well, Jackson would laugh if that happened.

Stiles’s knuckles have gone white on the steering wheel.

“Okay,” Danny says. “Cool.”

“Okay,” Stiles says. “Cool.”

“You know the Jungle has under 21 night once a month,” Danny offers because it seems like something he should offer. “The info’s on their website.”

“I actually did know that,” Stiles says, and Danny realizes that, yes, he’s seen Stiles at under 21 night, and been kind of annoyed about the fact.

“Well I guess I can’t help you much, then,” Danny says. “That’s pretty much the only thing you need to know about being queer in Beacon Hills.”

“I guess,” Stiles repeats. Danny can’t figure out why Stiles hasn’t just gone back to being Stiles now that whatever weight he was carrying is off his back, but while his grip on the steering wheel has loosened Stiles is still drumming on it frenetically.

“Stop here,” Danny says, pointing, because he’s not going to do this now. The Jeep veers sharply to the side as Stiles parks where Danny indicated.

“Okay,” Danny says as he gets out of the car. “Let’s go.”

“Where, exactly?” Stiles asks.

“Just a cool rock,” Danny says. He’d seen it with Allison and Lydia. The golem had obviously crumpled when Allison broke it--it didn’t look like much, and it definitely didn’t look like it had been a human figure. It also didn’t look that cool, but whatever.

“Oh, okay,” Stiles says. “So are these, like, art photographs or whatever? Or for the paper? Is the school paper doing an article on a cool rock? Because that seems like about the level of the Beacon Hills Beacon. And why am I coming with again?”

Danny shrugs. “Company,” he says. “To fend off werewolves.”

Stiles snorts. “Should’ve brought Allison, she’s more help in a fight than I am. I’m the brains of these operations.”

“Really,” Danny says. “Because I kind of thought you were the bait.”

“I don’t know why people think you’re nice,” Stiles says, half-loping along an embankment covered in russet-colored leaves. “Who’s your publicist? I kind of want to hire them.”

“Jackson,” Danny says when he catches up. “I’m just nice by comparison. You, on the other hand, have Scott--”

“So I shot myself in the foot by befriending someone who’s actually friendly?” Stiles says. “Is that what we’re saying?”

“I just call it like I see it,” Danny says, and Stiles laughs. Danny always thought of his laugh as braying, but it’s--not. Or doesn’t seem that way right now. He just opens his mouth all the way like that’s what he needs to do for the laugh to get out. He’s quiet, after that, moving through the trees in a way that’s loose and almost graceful, like Stiles’s physicality makes more sense when he’s not hemmed in by walls.

“You know,” Danny says, because Stiles isn’t talking and Danny kind of feels like saying it. “I really do like photography.”

“Yeah?” Stiles asks.

“Yeah,” Danny says.

And like Stiles gets this, that this is an honest thing--“I think it’s awesome that Scott is a werewolf,” he says. “I mean, that sounds terrible. But even with the shitty parts--it’s kind of awesome, you know? Like, not just school and parents and gossiping about whatever normal people gossip about. It’s superheroes and life or death and good and evil and all the things--it feels like we’re really there. Here. I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to do with my life, really, except I’m glad I’m doing this.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Danny says. “I have a friend who feels the same way.”

Stiles gives Danny a strange look, but it doesn’t really matter, because they’re at the rock. It’s about a quarter mile into the woods, and Danny’s actually kind of relieved that he found it, and it’s still there. Stiles, on the other hand, looks unimpressed.

“Not that cool of a rock,” Stiles says, confirming that he is, in fact, unimpressed. Danny’s already taking pictures of it with his 35mm. The camera has a mirror in it, so if film or camera does anything to impart clarity it should happen.

He doesn’t notice that Stiles isn’t moving.

“Danny,” Stiles says. “What is this?”

“Sandstone, I think,” Danny says.

“Danny,” Stiles says again, and Danny’s not sure why Stiles keeps saying his name. “Danny, okay, if what I think is happening isn’t happening this is going to sound totally weird--”

“It already sounds weird,” Danny mutters at about the same time as Stiles blurts out: “I”m Batman.”

It hits Danny--it’s hard to say what it hits Danny like. A ton of bricks, an electric shock, a hard wave of salt water. It definitely hits Danny though, and Stiles must be able to see it on his face, because he says, succinctly: “Well, shit.”

Danny’s not sure he can even process this. Everything he knows about Batman layers on top of everything he knows about Stiles, and it makes sense, it aligns, but Danny still--it’s like looking at a mirror reflection of identical pictures, because Stiles and Batman are so different in Danny’s head.

And they’re the same person.

“Shit, this is the golem,” Stiles is saying while Danny has a minor crisis. “Why didn’t you tell us? Did everyone know but Scott and I? I don’t even--I thought we had an alliance, what the fuck was that?”

“We didn’t think you needed to know,” Danny says, because fighting about this seems easier than the alternative.

“Why not?” Stiles says. “Why would we not need to know? There’s a golem, wandering around in the woods, and Scott and I are just kept in the dark about that?”

“Like you told us about anything,” Danny says. “Ever.”

“You didn’t--!” Stiles starts, then stops like he knows what he’s about to say, and that it is not a valid defense. He tries again with: “Well maybe communication was supposed to be better now.”

“It’s not like it hurt anyone,” Danny says. “Jackson hurt people, people have been hurt, and we never knew.”

“Who got it?” Stiles asks, circling the rock. He’s moving away from Danny, and he looks uncomfortable, like maybe he isn’t entirely unimpacted by recognizing Danny as wolverine.

“Allison,” Danny says. “It was following Peter.”

“Peter,” Stiles repeats. “Peter is--what did he do to Lydia?”

“Not really my story to tell,” Danny says tightly, because he’d kind of forgotten about Stiles’s thing for Lydia, and the reminder hits him somewhere below his gut.

“Secrets,” Stiles says, still pacing around the golem. “Always with the fucking secrets.”

“You’re only mad when they’re kept from you,” Danny says.

Stiles glares at Danny, kicks the golem, says, “Alright, so take your pictures. I like how you only listen to me when I’m a faceless person on the internet, by the way. I like how you went to a faceless person on the internet for advice instead of Scott or me.”

“You sound jealous,” Danny says, holding the camera up to his face and snapping a few more photos. “Of yourself.”

“I’m jealous because this is stupid,” Stiles says. “Okay? I just think it’s stupid. I just think things would be a lot easier if--”

“People told other people what was happening?” Danny asks. “Yeah, take your own advice.”

“Well just because Scott and I--” Stiles says. “We didn’t know what the fuck we were doing or who to trust, alright? We still don’t! Learn from our mistakes!”

“Maybe we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing or who to trust, either,” Danny says.

“So you trust someone on the internet?” Stiles asks. “Genius. I could’ve been a middle-aged werewolf rapist. I could’ve--”

“You think I don’t know how to hide my identity on the internet? How to protect myself?” Danny says. “Why do you think I used the internet in the first place?”

Stiles stops. He just--stops, all the motion in his body and face dying as suddenly as if he’d been shot. It doesn’t make sense, but Stiles isn’t moving and something slides off his face so visibly Danny thinks he can see it hit the ground.

“No,” Stiles says. “I mean yes, obviously you can.” He shakes his head. “Whatever, let’s get out of here.”

Stiles doesn’t talk on the walk back to the Jeep, and Danny doesn’t, either. When they get in the car Stiles just turns the radio station Danny had selected all the way up and drives him home.

hey, I have a missed call from you & so does jax? everything ok?
Sender: Lydia Received: 17:23

yeah, I’m fine. might have a lead on the golem, I’ll let you know.
Sender: Danny Received: 17:29

& stilinski knows about the golem.
Sender: Danny Received: 17:31

keep me posted. morrell says there might be a spell we can use to connect golem w/ sorcerer, but we don’t have all the materials yet.
Sender: Lydia Received: 17:34

 “So Scott wanted to know if I was okay today,” Allison says when she appears beside Danny in the hall. “Since I had a run in with a golem and all.”

“Scott is a worrier,” Danny says.

“He doesn’t think I should be following Peter,” Allison continues.

“No one thinks you should be following Peter,” Danny says, because it’s true.

“He says you told Stiles,” Allison finishes, which is probably the brunt of the matter. “And Lydia says that’s true.”

“It was an accident,” Danny says.

“Well, next time you’re talking to Stiles,” Allison says. “Tell him I can take care of myself.”

“No one doubts that,” Danny says. “I think we just wonder if you need to. But, you know, I’m beginning to suspect we’re pretty bad at all of this, so take that with a grain of salt.”

“All of this?” Allison asks, stopping at her locker. Her hands are shoved deep in her pockets and she’s not quite looking at him.

“Communication,” Danny says vaguely. “I think we may have a bit of a communication problem.”

Allison bumps at her locker with her shoulder.

“I think we have a bit of a trust problem,” she says as her locker swings open. “And I think it may be warranted.”

“So what do we do?” Danny asks.

“Take care of our own,” Allison says, and she’s said it before, like a mantra, and Danny’s not sure that’s quite right. Or maybe it is, for her, but Danny isn’t sure who ‘his own’ would be.

hey, so I developed the film from the golem and think I have something. wondering if you want to come w/ to the darkroom while I print it.
Sender: Danny Received: 13:45

when?
Sender: Stiles Received: 21:34

tmrw before school? 6:45?
Sender: Danny Received: 21:37

you seriously wake up that early? I’ll bring breakfast.
Sender: Stiles Received: 21:56

Danny doesn’t know why he invited Stiles to the darkroom, really. He does know it has a little to do with his conversation with Allison in the hall. But the box of donuts Stiles brings when he meets Danny outside the school at precisely 6:45 in the morning reads like an apology, or forgiveness, so Danny figures maybe Stiles gets it, too.

“So I hope you appreciate this,” Stiles says, talking too fast. “Because I had to give some of these to my dad and I’ve been trying to wean him off donuts and onto yogurt and oatmeal. Months of hard work out the window because I couldn’t think of another conveniently deliverable breakfast.”

“Crepes?” Danny offers.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles says. “Did you think I was that fancy? I’m not that fancy. Look, some even have sprinkles on them.”

Danny grins at him. He can’t help himself, really; Stiles is so obviously uncomfortable, and he’s so obviously trying, that Danny can’t help but grant him the small favor of a smile.

“The alternative was McDonald’s,” Stiles continues, easing into it. “But I didn’t want to drive fifteen minutes for what would ultimately be cold Egg McMuffins.”

“Good call,” Danny agrees, selecting a jelly from the frankly excessive assortment.

“Cool,” Stiles says. “Hey--um, thanks for inviting me.”

Danny shrugs.

“No, really, I get it,” Stiles says. “It’s weird. You didn’t have to.”

“Yeah I kind of did,” Danny says, meeting Stiles’s gaze. “I’m not going to say no more secrets, but we could probably use fewer of them.”

“Probably, yeah,” Stiles says, then looks away. “Yeah. So what are we doing? Or you doing?”

Danny washes off his hands and sets up trays of fix and developer while simultaneously narrating his actions for Stiles. When everything’s ready he flips the main lights off and the safe lights on. He likes the red safe lights, actually; it makes the whole small room feel warm and safe.

“So this is the enlarger,” Danny says as he slips a strip of film into place. “It does what you would expect it to.”

“Enlarges things?” Stiles asks.

“Pretty much,” Danny says as he turns it on he goes through a few frames that just look like rock, muttering to himself.

“It was probably a dumb idea,” Stiles says as Danny works. “I mean, I’m just saying, if it doesn’t work it was really my idea, and not yours, so--we can try to come up with something better.”

Danny is mostly ignoring him. There’s nothing, nothing, and then, on the third strip of film, the first frame is projected in front of him, and Danny pulls it into focus, then pauses. “Stiles, come look at this.”

“It worked?” Stiles says.

“It worked,” Danny says, pausing to turn and look at Stiles, who is wide-eyed and delighted. He slides up beside Danny at the enlarger, which is in a narrow cubicle, putting Stiles’s face closer to Danny’s than seems strictly necessarily. Stiles is taller than Danny thought he was, somehow, and the dull light of the enlarger and the red safelights cast strange shadows across his face: long lashes, dark eyes. But that’s not what matters right now.

“It’s a book,” Stiles says, staring at it.

“It’s a copy of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front,’” Danny corrects.

“It’s a copy of--,” Stiles repeats softly.

“Who do we know--who is the only person we know--who cares enough about ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ to build a golem out of it?” Danny asks, though he can see Stiles has already arrived at the destination.

“Holy shit,” Stiles says. “Mrs. Alexander.”

Which was pretty much Danny’s reaction.

Danny calls Lydia and Jackson, and Stiles calls Scott, and Lydia calls Allison, and they all end up squeezed into the darkroom with the lights turned on because it seems like a place where Mrs. Alexander will not be.

“What’s she trying to do?” Scott asks.

“Does this mean I can skip English more?” Jackson says.

“Yeah, because this revelation is really all about whether or not it’s okay for you to fail high school English,” Stiles says. “Really.”

“She obviously hates me because I’m a werewolf,” Jackson replies, scowling.

Lydia calls them to order by saying “Shut up” in a barky, commanding tone, and soon everyone is more-or-less silent and sitting on the stools and countertops of the darkroom, trying to ignore the weird dynamics at play--Allison not looking at Scott while Scott gazes adoringly at her, Stiles and Jackson giving one another the stink-eye, Lydia and Danny, also in the room.

“So, Mrs. Alexander,” Lydia says. “We haven’t seen another golem, and we still don’t know what she wants--”

“If it’s Peter, we should leave him to her,” Allison says. There are murmurs of assent. Jackson frowns.

“It might not be Peter,” Lydia says. “We need to find out.”

Jackson’s phone pings. Because Jackson is Pavlovian, he takes it out of his pocket to read the text.

“Uh, guys?” he says. “Derek says Peter is missing.”

“Sounds like it’s probably Peter,” Stiles says, because Stiles is a smart-ass.

They all ditch school.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Danny asks Lydia as they approach the parking lot. “It’s Peter.”

“You don’t want to find out why our English teacher is making golems?” Lydia asks. “I underestimated your intellectual curiosity.”

Which kind of answers Danny’s question and kind of doesn’t at all, so he just lets her be.

“Danny, you can ride with us,” Stiles calls from his Jeep, where Allison is climbing into the backseat.

“You can even have shotgun!” Scott adds. Danny wonders who else they think he’s going to drive with, but jogs up to the car as Scott installs himself in the back with Allison and pushes the front passenger seat into place.

“Thanks,” he says, pulling on his seatbelt.

And then they’re off, following Jackson’s Porsche on an increasingly convoluted route through Beacon Hills. The Jeep feels like a vehicle that could roll if they take a turn too tightly, and Stiles likes to take his turns tight. Allison’s on the phone with Lydia, which provides them with an incomplete commentary--“Can’t track Peter, smells like dirt--Going to Deaton’s--Deaton says--tulip tree--Erica and Boyd and Isaac are trying to track Peter--” that eventually leads them to the town park in Danny’s neighborhood.

“The thing is,” Lydia explains when they get there. “Deaton says that tulip trees are, like, the best poplars--”

“How did you not know this before?” Danny asks, and Lydia ignores him.

“And they aren’t native to California, but there’s one in this park--” Lydia continues. She glances at Allison. “Derek and his pack are on their way.”

Allison nods once.

It’s not a big park, exactly, but the tulip tree is down by a pond in the center and can’t be seen from the roads. The tree itself has a large, round crown, with branches that droop close to the ground and obscure whatever’s happening beneath it.

Probably for the best, given that it’s daylight out.

Derek shows up in a Camaro that’s so loud Danny has trouble believing Mrs. Alexander hasn’t just left, if she was ever here, but when they all advance on the tree--she’s still there, crouched in the ground beneath its branches, by the muddy shore that Danny usually tries to keep Esther and Joey away from because of goose poop. But Mrs. Alexander is there with the golem. And with Peter, who is held tight to the chest of a new golem like he’s its absurd teddy bear. Derek growls, and Mrs. Alexander turns around and grins at them. It would almost be benign, like this was the beginning of a literature lesson, except it’s not really at all. Her skirts swirl around her feet.

“You didn’t all need to come out and see me,” she says. “Especially you, Jackson, you should really be in school.”

“What are you doing,” Derek growls.

“Just asking my friend Peter Hale some questions,” Mrs. Alexander says, her grin widening. “About why he isn’t dead.” The way she says ‘dead’ is knife sharp and wicked, and suddenly she whirls back around, skirt flaring out. “Tell me, Peter.”

Peter’s very nearly limp in the golem’s arms, and he’s not struggling, just staring straight ahead. If he’s a toy, he looks like a broken one.

“It won’t work for you,” he says flatly. His eyes flicker towards Lydia, and Danny can’t really tell what he’s trying to say, there. Lydia had said she was immune, and that was why--Danny realizes now that he’s still not entirely sure what that means, that maybe immunity means something more than just immunity to werewolf bites. Maybe it means immunity to everything.

“It won’t,” Mrs. Alexander repeats. “You know, I felt the energy shift, when you did it. It didn’t feel like something that only works for werewolves. It felt like you found a source.” She taps her chin. Her elaborate fingernails had never seemed quite so intimidating before. “And now all these children are here, children who should really be in school--”

“I don’t really see what school has to do with it,” Derek says. “Considering you should be there, too.”

“Rude,” Mrs. Alexander says. “So flippant. And, really, I have your uncle.” She frowns, studying Derek. “I remember you. Derek Hale. You had braces. And a C+ in my class. And a sister.”

Derek freezes, and stares at her. Mrs. Alexander laughs like she’s delighted. “Parents, too. Now,” she says, glancing at Peter and continues, pleasantly. “This is all you’ve got. Tell me, does he still smell like the grave? He says he won’t tell me who the source was, but that marvelous nose of yours, and all these children--you can smell it, can’t you? One of the human ones, of course. And if I ask my friend to just squeeze a little more--”

Derek’s looking at Peter like he expects Peter to psychically tell him what to do, and everyone else is quiet like they don’t know what to do while this drama plays out at their center. Danny wants to jump on Lydia, like that will protect her, but at a fundamental level he realizes it won’t, it will just make her conspicuous, and he can see something in Jackson’s face--Jackson doesn’t know which of them it is. He’s looking at Danny, Lydia. And Danny doesn’t know what to do, what he can do. That’s what this whole thing comes down to--standing in the mud while his literature teacher talks about Derek Hale in braces and threatens his only relative in one breath.

And all Derek has to do is give up Lydia, who Danny’s fairly certain Derek has never spoken to.

Danny is kind of expecting him to do it, which might explain why Danny steps forward.

“It was me,” he says. Mrs. Alexander is staring at him. Her eyes look the wrong color--he’s not sure what color they should be, but the color they are now seem wrong, and she’s staring at him. It takes Danny a minute to notice that everyone else is, too. Stiles--Stiles too.

“It was me,” Danny says again. “I was the source.”

Mrs. Alexander steps forward, towards Danny. She reaches for him with her hand, and something in his chest pulls, making him stumble forwards, his own feet tripping over one another. Off to the side, Stiles makes a noise Danny only hears because he’s listening to it, makes a movement Danny only notices because he’s watching. He doesn’t notice Allison. He’s pretty sure no one noticed Allison, except maybe Scott, who lunges like he thinks he’s going to stop her when Allison--leaps.

Danny’s learned to expect werewolves to move fast, but he hadn’t quite expected the same of Allison. She was off to the side of the group and now, suddenly, she’s on the golem’s back, she has her arms around its neck. The golem stands there, completely stoic, and Mrs. Alexander shouts something Danny can’t discern, and the golem starts to move, but Allison--

She erases it. The golem’s released Peter, reaching for her, and Allison erases it, and it turns to stone with Allison still on its back. Everyone’s looking at Allison, her arms small and white around the golem’s stone neck.

“You owe me,” she says, looking directly at Derek. “You. Owe. Me.”

She jumps to the ground. While she was distracted Scott and Jackson somehow managed to pin Mrs. Alexander, which is maybe not surprising, given her age.

Somehow it’s still surprising. She hadn’t seemed frail, standing there by the pond. She hadn’t seemed frail, when she made Danny step forward and trip over his own feet.

“I can make another, you know,” she says. “And another, and another--”

Lydia walks over to her, kneels on the damp ground beside her.

“I don’t know why I’m doing this,” she admits. “I mean, I kind of have my own interests at play here, obviously, but you were also going to kill--” She glances at Peter, who Derek is bowed over. “Anyway. No--no you won’t.”

Danny doesn’t immediately understand what it is Lydia does, but this is what he sees: she tells Erica and Boyd not to move. She removes something from her purse. She takes Mrs. Alexander’s right hand in her left hand. She closes her eyes. She opens her eyes, releases Mrs. Alexander’s hand, gets to her feet and brushes off her knees. The pulling sensation in Danny’s chest is gone.

“Okay,” she says. “I think we’re done here.” But then her eyes slide over to Peter, between Derek and Isaac, and she goes over and kicks him with one pointed shoe. Derek just lets her. She ducks and whispers something, then straightens up and looks at the rest of them. “Okay, now we’re done.”

The way Lydia explains it later, she sealed Mrs. Alexander’s magic and told Peter Hale she didn’t forgive him, probably never would, but she’d let him live because she was generous like that.

Allison never explains why she saved Peter Hale’s life to anyone except maybe Scott. Danny thinks he very nearly understands it, though. If he’s right it wasn’t for Peter, or even, really, for Derek, but more out of some hope she had for the whole, for some kind of trust and good faith. That if she looked out for people, they might become her own. And Allison did look out for them that morning.

Except maybe Mrs. Alexander, who pretty promptly announced her retirement. Jackson is ecstatic until he realizes that Mrs. Alexander’s retirement won’t take until the end of the school year, which means he still has to pass her class.

That may actually be a problem for the rest of them, as well.

Danny tries not to think about it. He does still plan to go to college, after all. But if he doesn’t get into Caltech, maybe his parents will be less skeptical when he applies to RISD.

I realize things have been kind of crazy, but you realize we still need to finish our physics project?
Sender: Stiles Received: 20:06

darkroom tmrw a.m.? 6:30?
Sender: Danny Received: 20:09

if you insist. I guess I can bring donuts. you like jelly right?
Sender: Stiles Received 20:19

 Danny does like jelly. It’s only been a week since he and Stiles last ate donuts in the darkroom, but he’s surprised Stiles noticed, let alone remembered. But this time instead of a box of donuts Stiles just brings a bag, with two jelly and two glazed with sprinkles.

“So last week was weird,” Stiles says. He’s sitting on the counter and munching a donut while Danny makes prints and tries to pretend there was a good reason to invite Stiles to help with this part.

“Yeah,” Danny says, sloshing a print around in developer.

“But I think things might actually be better now,” Stiles says. “So that’s good, I guess.”

“Yeah,” Danny says. Stiles slides off the counter and walks over to stand beside Danny, looking at the paper in the developer.

“It’s cool how the picture shows up,” Stiles says. “I always liked Polaroids when I was a kid. My grandpa had a camera--” He keeps talking, and Danny’s tunes him out a little. He’s just--he’s had some time with the whole thing where Stiles is Batman and Batman is Stiles, now that the cognitive dissonance has faded, and at the bottom of everything: he liked Batman and he thought he liked Stiles, or could. If Stiles would let him. And right now Stiles is standing as close to Danny as he could possibly be standing without touching him and Danny just--

Stiles is not a normally a person who’s aware of his limbs, let alone his whole body. If he’s standing this close to Danny and still ensuring they aren’t touching, that means something. It has to. Danny isn’t reading too much into this: Stiles is trying not to touch him.

Danny wonders who the guy is, or was. Probably someone from under 21 night at the Jungle.

“My dad used to have a Polaroid camera, too,” Danny says. “I think he sold it on eBay.”

“It was brave, you know, what you did,” Stiles says, suddenly. “For Lydia.”

“She’s my friend,” Danny says, because he doesn’t know how else to explain it. He’s thought about it--what made him step forward when it came down to the wire, what might have happened.

“Still,” Stiles says. “I mean, in the messages to Batman, you kept asking me what your role was, and it looks like you’ve figured it out.”

“Yeah?” Danny asks. He’s not sure what Stiles is going to say but he wants to hear him say it.

“Big damn hero,” Stiles says, grinning at Danny sidelong.

“I’m pretty sure that was Allison,” Danny says, and Stiles shrugs.

“Part of the team, then,” he says. “And a pretty fucking valuable part of the team.”

“It’s a team now, is it?” Danny asks.

“Well, probably not,” Stiles admits. “But we did alright when we needed to.” There’s a pause, then. “And maybe it could be. I mean, we still have an alliance, don’t we?”

“As far as I know,” Danny says.

“So that’s a start,” Stiles says. “I mean, I can’t promise that I’ll put my life on the line for Lydia or anything, but I think the four of us could work well together. Maybe Jackson could come, too.”

“You aren’t going to put your life on the line for Lydia?” Danny asks. “I remember a time when you were in love with her.”

Stiles blinks, lashes brushing cheek. “Thought I was in love with her,” he corrects. “Things change.”

Do they ever. Danny’s dropped a print into the final wash and doesn’t immediately move to make another, and instead he’s studying Stiles’s profile: upturned nose, pale skin, long neck. Lips. Danny could ask, now, who the guy was. Is. What changed.

“Just a few more of these, and then we’ll be done,” Danny says instead.

“Cool,” Stiles replies, turning towards Danny. Another thing to catalogue: eyes, lashes. Hair, getting a little long, ruffled by Stiles’s nervous hands, one of which Stiles runs across his head now. Big hands.

“So, you think Mrs. Alexander will let us pass her class?” Danny asks, moving away from Stiles and back towards the enlarger. Stiles barks out a laugh. Danny definitely likes his laugh, now, and how easily it comes.

“I imagine she’ll put up a fight,” he says. “But you’re brave and shit, aren’t you?”

“Sure,” Danny says, though he’s fairly certain that he’s less brave than Stiles thinks he is.

“Well, if she takes out her frustration at not being able to live forever on you, now you know how I felt with Harris,” Stiles says.

“You know, I think Jackson mentioned her talking about the elixir of youth during one of her rants,” Danny says. He’s only just remembered.

“I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I guess we should’ve listened to Jackson,” Stiles says.

“Guess so,” Danny says.

“But then again, it is Jackson,” Stiles muses. “And, you know, even a blind pig finds a mushroom every once and awhile, only sometimes it’s hallucinogenic.”

“I don’t think that’s how the saying goes,” Danny replies. He knows he’s not brave, because he’s grateful their conversation has veered so far off course that Danny can’t even think of asking Stiles about the guy Batman mentioned because he’s too busy defending Jackson. Or pretending to defend Jackson. Or flirting.

Danny blames trauma for anything that happens. He also blames trauma for what happens after he turns the white lights are on. Stiles is still talking, Danny’s storing the developer and fix and rinsing out the trays, tilting them up to dry, and they’re both about to leave. Stiles’s back is turned, which maybe makes it easier.

Danny says, “Hey, when you were messaging wolverine--you asked about a guy. Who was it?”

Stiles freezes, but he doesn’t turn around. “Um--probably no one. I mean, I don’t think he was into it. Me. So, you know. Don’t worry about--whatever you’re worried about.”

And then Stiles bolts.

Which isn’t suspicious at all.

Danny doesn’t see Stiles for the rest of the day. Stiles isn’t in physics--he’s actually skipping class to avoid Danny. And Danny thinks he knows why, but he doesn’t know, and it’s kind of unexpected but--for once in his life he wants to know what’s going on before he asks a guy to prom or presses him up against a wall and kisses him. Because if he’s wrong, it will matter.

It’s kind of surprising that Stiles is the one who matters, but the heart wants what it wants.

to: wolverine
from: brucethebat24

Actually, it was you. Maybe both you-you and wolverine-you, but I kind of figured wolverine-you lived in, like, Boston, so mostly you-you. But it’s okay, I get it, you’ve never really liked me and wolverine-you wasn’t real and I’m not attractive to gay guys so you can pretend this message never happened if you want.

-Stiles

 

to: brucethebat24
from: wolverine

I don’t really like pretending.

You’re attractive to at least one gay guy.

 Danny doesn’t ask his dad to borrow the minivan so much as he tells him he’s borrowing it and grabs the keys.

“Weeknight curfew,” his dad says from the couch, where he’s reading the newspaper articles he said were too boring to read in the morning.

“I really need to do this,” Danny says, and his dad just looks at him.

“That’s not actually a reason to do something,” he says, in the same voice Danny suspects he uses with kindergarteners. “Try again.”

“I have--” Danny starts. “Uh. A guy.”

“So you’re going to take my minivan to go have sex,” Danny’s dad says. “Sorry, kiddo, but I can’t let you do that. The 7-Eleven closes at 11, and I really can’t let you go without a reliable source of condoms.”

“We weren’t--” Danny says. “I just need to see him.”

“I’m glad you like this guy so much that you want to leave the house at 11 just to see him,” Danny’s dad muses. “But, really, you haven’t mentioned him before, do you really think I’m going to just let you gallivant off to visit someone you’ve never mentioned?”

“That’s because he’s not my boyfriend,” Danny says. “Yet.”

“Optimistic,” Danny’s dad says, folding his newspaper and patting the spot beside him on the couch. “Tell me the whole story and I’ll tell you whether it’s a valid reason to break curfew. Just call me judge, jury, and executioner.”

Danny looks between his father and the door, because he kind of feels like he’s said as much as he needs to. And then, like Danny has some sort of magical powers (he doesn’t--if this week has demonstrated anything it has demonstrated that) the doorbell rings.

It’s Stiles.

Danny’s the one who opens the door, and he stands there for a fully thirty seconds just staring at Stiles, who stares back and then looks away nervously, rubbing at the top of his head. He’s wearing boxers, the t-shirt with the hole in the hem, and no shoes. Danny would be mortified if he wasn’t--not. He glances over his shoulder at his dad.

“It’s for me,” he says, then steps outside and shuts the door firmly behind him. Stiles steps backwards, off the stoop and onto the lawn, almost tripping over himself. He’s nervous. It’s--and Danny isn’t going to repeat this--adorable.

“You aren’t wearing shoes,” he says to Stiles.

“Yeah,” Stiles says. “It’s not actually illegal to drive barefoot. It’s just cold.”

“You can’t come inside, my dad will see you,” Danny says.

“Are you--” Stiles says. “I just--”

“You aren’t wearing shoes!” Danny says. “Or pants.”

Stiles looks down at himself.

“Oh,” he says. “Yeah, I guess I didn’t really think this through.”

“No,” Danny says, but he’s starting to grin. “You didn’t.”

“You don’t like pretending,” Stiles says, looking up at him from where he’s standing on the grass. “And I’m attractive to at least one gay guy. That was actually kind of cryptic and not all that complimentary, so I hope I interpreted correctly. I mean, you could tell me if I’m wrong before I embarrass myself more than I have already. I mean, I kind of have an idea as to what you might mean, but the way I see if there are two options, and in one of those I’m embarrassing both of us right now, and in one of those--well, I’m probably still embarrassing both us, but it’s sort of in a--more positive way.”

“Nope,” Danny says, and now the smile is probably going to break his face. Stiles has to know, but he’s still fidgeting, and all of this is more than Danny expected, even at his most hopeful. “I don’t think you’re embarrassing yourself at all. So I guess there was a third option.”

“Not even by not wearing pants?” Stiles asks. “Because I kind of--”

Danny steps down off the front step so he and Stiles are standing nose-to-nose. Stiles is barely taller than Danny, and in the dim, diffuse light from the house and the streetlights Danny can see Stiles’s eyes, dark and bright and hopeful most of all, fixed so firmly on Danny that Danny really can’t look away.

“No,” Danny says. “Not even that.”

“Oh,” Stiles says. “Okay.”

“You know what I was going to do before you got here?” Danny asks. Stiles blinks, and the shadows of his lashes flicker across his face. Danny kind of wants to stay like this, taking it in: the lines of Stiles’s cheekbones, the curve of his nose, his lips. He’s beautiful--now, in this light, but maybe all the time. Danny kind of can’t believe how long it took him to notice.

“I was going to go over to your house,” Danny says.

“Really,” Stiles says, and now he’s grinning a little, too. “I kind of thought this was going to be a harder sell. I had things to say, I was going to explain--”

Danny smothers the words in Stiles’s mouth. He kisses him, because that’s what he’s been trying to say, that’s what he wants to do, because there’s really no reason to dance around it any more. Stiles is tentative, like he hasn’t done this much before, and Danny hadn’t thought that would be hot until it suddenly is, and, besides, Stiles catches on quick, and his big hands have somehow found their way to a low spot on Danny’s back, and Danny would kind of like to tell Stiles that he can move them a little lower, but he’s too busy letting his own hands ruck up Stiles’s too-thin t-shirt, letting Stiles kiss him now that Stiles seems to have figured out what he’s doing. And it’s nice, it’s more than nice. Stiles is taking it slow, like he wants to take time with Danny, which is something that seems like it has the potential to turn Danny inside-out, upside-down. Turn his world on his head, if that hasn’t happened already, given that Danny’s best friend is a werewolf and his other best friend is magical, and Danny himself is making out with Stiles Stilinski on his front lawn.

Stiles pulls back for a moment, “I thought, when you said you knew how to hide your identity on the internet--”

Danny kisses him once, chastely, just to shut him up, then says, “You really want to talk now?” And squeezes Stiles’s ass, mostly because he can. Stiles yelps a bit, which makes Danny wonder what other noises he might make with the right incentive, but he seems to get the message, and Danny is all set to lick his way down Stiles’s neck when someone coughs behind them.

“So,” Danny’s father says, holding out a hand. “You must be the potential boyfriend.”

Stiles does turn blotchy when he blushes, more than Danny had realized. He also doesn’t move. He’s standing behind Danny, and he has his arms looped around Danny’s back, and while it’s not entirely uncomfortable, it is strange.

“I, uh--” Stiles says. “I’m not wearing any pants, sir.”

Danny can’t help it. He bursts out laughing. It might be adrenalin, it might be something else, because Danny’s father definitely looks skeptical, but it’s so ridiculous, and so Stiles that ultimately Danny just leans against Stiles and looks up at his dad.

“This is Stiles Stilinski,” he says. “My boyfriend.”

Danny’s dad raises an eyebrow. And yeah, Stiles and Danny haven’t talked about it, but Danny figures he’s pretty safe in the assumption that they will be as soon as Danny gets the chance to ask Stiles if he’s amenable.

“You have five minutes,” Danny’s dad says. “And I expect to see you at Sunday dinner, Mr. Stilinski. Wearing pants.”

“Um, your dad--” Stiles says when Danny’s father goes back inside.

“Teaches kindergarten,” Danny says. “But don’t let that scare you.”

“So we’re dating,” Stiles says.

“I was going to ask you, but I got kind of distracted,” Danny says. “You want to by my boyfriend, Stiles Stilinski? If I wake up Esther I might even be able to get you a Ring-Pop.”

“No, this is good,” Stiles says, staring at Danny. “This is really good. Though Ring-Pops are good too, of course.”

“Good,” Danny says. “So, five minutes. However shall we pass the time?”

Stiles grins, a little wicked, and Danny can’t help but grin back at him. The heart wants what it wants, after all.

And sometimes it gets it.

so I just heard a piece of juicy gossip that I really should’ve heard from you first, and alI have to say is: what about Martin Marin? he’s going to be devastated when you no longer block his locker w/ your ass.
Sender: Lydia Received: 10:34

guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
Sender: Danny Received: 10:46

does that mean you and stilinski are?
Sender: Lydia Received: 10:50

might be. a wise woman once told me: different people need different things.
Sender: Danny Received: 10:57

sap.
Sender: Lydia Received: 11:01

brb, making out w/ my boyfriend in the darkroom now and until the end of lunch.
Sender: Danny Received: 11:03