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a specific kind of problem

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"This is really confusing for me," Stiles says. 


"What?" Cora closes the book in front of her. They’re technically in research mode, but given that it’s just the two of them, and Cora gets up to pace the room every ten minutes which makes Stiles restless and therefore he has to pace, too… It’s not the most effective research party ever, is all Stiles is saying.


"The whole you thing!" Stiles says, because really, it should be obvious."How are you even here? Didn’t you die in a horrible fire when you were a kid?"


"Clearly not." Cora manages to sound bored. Who the hell sounds bored when they’re being accused of… Well, Stiles doesn’t even know what he’s accusing her of, just that it’s worthy of accusation.


"And the whole…" Stiles tries to make a Hale-face, but he suspects that it doesn’t go as planned when Cora lets out the first genuine laugh he’s heard out of her.


"Was that supposed to be me or my brother?"


"All Hales are one," Stiles mumbles, even though it makes no sense. 


 "You know, you’re pretty confusing yourself." 


It takes Stiles a minute to remember the conversation she’s referring to. They’re currently standing watch in an abandoned cellar with a bunch of groddy tree roots, because evil Druids might show up, and yeah. It’s not so much fun, the whole stakeout thing, and Stiles is starting to really understand why his dad snorts every time Stiles calls it the cool part of his job.  “Am not."


Cora gives him an alarmingly Derek-like look of disbelief. “You pretend like you don’t give a damn about my brother, but you’re the one who comes running to help him."


Stiles shrugs, uncomfortable with where this is going.


"And you’re not a werewolf, apparently turned down the opportunity… so why are you so worried about our pack?" Cora doesn’t seem to notice that she’s used the word ‘our,’ like it’s natural that she’s part of her brother’s pack.


Stiles wants to give a blithe answer. Something non-committal, something he can laugh off. But instead he leans against an old wooden staircase and stares at the tree’s roots. “I don’t have many people."


"And we’re your people?" Cora watches him carefully.


Stiles shrugs.

 "So which is it?"


Stiles doesn’t jump. He doesn’t. His reflexes are rock-solid. He is honed in the art of not being freaked the fuck out by werewolves. “Arggh," is what he says.


Cora rolls her eyes. Stiles manfully manages to not tell her that she’s going to roll them out of her head one of these days. “Which of us?"


"Which of who what?" Stiles says, because he sees an opportunity and he has to take it.


"Derek or me?"  Cora leans up against his locker. “That you like."


"I don’t like either of you," Stiles tells her. “You’re both terrible non-humans."


Cora smiles at him. “So is that an either?"


Damn werewolves with their ability to read Stiles like a book. “Well, Derek is more of a terror-annoyance-based lust," Stiles admits.


"And me?"  Cora’s smile is suddenly sharper, despite the lack of fangs.


"Confusion and alarm," Stiles tells her. “Lots of both."


She doesn’t ask about the lust. Again, damn werewolves.


 Maybe Stiles has a Hale problem.  Kind of. Sort of.


He probably draws the line at Peter.


 It wouldn’t be a problem except that Cora is the first Hale that Stiles could conceivably have a shot with, what with her being in the same age bracket and also not completely emotionally scarred by tramautic past relationships and untold amounts of failure and loss. (Also Derek is apparently doing Stiles’ English teacher, which… okay, it leads to really awkward fantasies during first period.)


And Cora, for reasons Stiles isn’t quite sure of, keeps actually talking to him. Like, he’s ninety percent sure that she hates everything, judging by the look she’s always got on her face, but out of everyone involved in the pack that she’s not related to, somehow she keeps showing up where Stiles is.


And while he should think she’s shady as hell, he actually is starting to trust her. Probably because of all the talking.


Stiles might actually have a Cora problem, currently.


 "So what’s your big plan?" Cora asks. They’re on stakeout duty together yet again, and Stiles is starting to feel a little suspicious about the way it’s working out. Derek had given him an awfully mean look when Stiles came to pick up his sister earlier.


"Well I was going to play Words With Friends but it turns out there are no bars to be found down in this dank cellar," Stiles says, glaring at his phone. It worked down here three days ago what the fuck.


He doesn’t have to look up to know what Cora is doing with her eyes.


"About me, you dumbass."


"About— is this your evil intentions speech? Should I record it?" Stiles glances up.


Cora lets out a breath through her nose. If she were a were-bull, Stiles would be in trouble. “I mean, are you ever going to make a move, or are you just going to, I don’t know, think about it forever?"


Stiles blinks. “You could make a move. In fact, you seem like the kind of person who insists on making the first move."


"I did make the first move," Cora says. “I asked which of us you liked."


"That’s not a move," Stiles says, though in retrospect, it was a pretty wide opening for one. “Besides, I was pretty sure that admitting that I have a teensy tiny fear-based crush on your brother was a dealbreaker."


Cora shrugs. “I think your dad is a hotass, is that a dealbreaker?"


Stiles has several very surreal moments as he pictures Cora making out with his dad, and he shakes his head violently. “Ugh why would you even…"


Cora raises an eyebrow.


"No, it’s not a dealbreaker," Stiles admits. “And I see your point.Your totally hypothetical point."


"Besides, if you tried anything with my brother, I’d beat you. Mercilessly." Her face was entirely deadpan, and Stiles squints at her, trying to suss out whether or not she’s fucking with him.


He’s pretty sure she’s not, and it’s kind of stupidly hot.


Apparently Stiles staring dumbly at Cora is enough of a move for her, though, because she steps in close and kisses him, dragging one hand through his hair. Cora kisses like she does everything, throwing herself into it with wild abandon, and it’s every bit as awesome as Stiles imagined.


"Am I less confusing now?" she asks when the kiss breaks, and Stiles is too pleasantly shell-shocked to tell her anything but the truth.


"No, but I’m really okay with it."


 Derek is the one who relieves them of watch. Of course he is, Stiles’ life is the worst.


On the other hand, the look on his face when he realizes that his sister’s hand is up Stiles’ shirt kind of makes Stiles finally forgive him for that whole bleeding-black-blood-on-Stiles’-Jeep thing.


Cora’s totally audible to werewolf ears whisper of, “Over your crush on him yet?", however, was most definitely not forgiven.