Stiles hated Scott, he really did. His best friend had finally done it. Pushed him to his limits.
This was it. This was the last straw. They’d been piling on for quite a while now – the straws, I mean. And this final blow. This final straw. It was going to be the one that broke Stiles’ back.
Scott had turned into the worst best friend ever. And he couldn’t possibly be Scott’s best friend, either. Why, you ask? Because best friends save their best friends seats. They save seats for them. A simple, yet grand gesture of friendship. What they don’t do, however, is invite their time-consuming, seat-taking girlfriends on “pack bonding” trips if they're aren’t enough seats. That’s what they don’t do.
But here he was, climbing into the Camaro, preparing for the most awful, boring, brooding 6-hour car ride with Derek Hale. Who, by the way, has threatened to rip Stiles’ throat out with his teeth on several occasions.
All he wanted was a seat next to Scott: some best-friend time. Was that too much to ask? When Scott invited him on this trip he was thrilled. He wasn’t quite sure if he was considered part of Derek’s pack, but whatever. Stiles hadn’t had a chance to see his friend outside of school for weeks. He was always too busy with Allison. Or worse: Allison, Jackson, and Lydia. But at this point, Stiles would have settled for the hump seat between Jackson and Lydia, if it meant not riding with Derek. But no, Danny’s SUV was packed full with Scott, Allison, Jackson, Lydia, Boyd and Isaac. He would have even ridden with Erica on her motorcycle, but she had a bag strapped down in the space behind her. And because she said she’d rather drive off a cliff than have stiles wrapped around her torso for 6 hours.
It all happened so fast. He was just trying to be a good road tripper. He’d brought all the snacks: Twizzlers, Swedish Fish, white chocolate covered pretzels. He even went inside to pee before they hit the road. But when he came back, they’d abandoned him. No seat for Stiles. Apparently, being considerate only got you one thing: fucked.
Scott was giving him a puppy dog look from the window of Danny’s car but Stiles had no time for it.
He knew that at a glance this seemed ridiculous. It was just a seat. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t just a seat. It was months of slowly being forgotten. Being left out of group texts, canceling plans last minute to hang out with Allison, having pack meetings without Stiles, and sitting at smaller tables at lunch so there just wasn’t room for him.
He was over it. He slammed shut the door to the Camaro and huffed out a breath. This was going to be a long week.
Once Derek had finished loading their bags into the trunk, he climbed in the driver’s seat and paused, looking at Stiles. He was still slouched, arms folded over his chest, leg bouncing nervously.
“What’s wrong with you?” Derek asked. The boy was excited for the trip not ten minutes ago, now he looked like someone had spit in his Crunch Berries.
Stiles felt stupid. Or rather, he felt he was being stupid. He was being Irrational. Immature. He wanted it to end.
“Nothing,” he said flatly, “let’s just drive.” He didn’t dare to look at Derek. He didn’t dare make himself feel even more like a child. “And I’m definitely picking the music,” he added lightly. He hoped to make himself seem less upset. He was good at that, lying to people about how he really felt. But Derek was a werewolf. And an alpha werewolf, at that.
Derek said nothing. He did nothing. Just stared at the boy. They sat in silence for the longest minute of Stiles’ young life, until he finally caved and looked up at the man.
Stiles was an observant person. He noticed things. He could look at a person and Sherlock Holmes the hell out of them. And as bad and broody as Derek was, he was no exception. He could be read like anyone else. His dark brows were furrowed in concern, almost like he was the one upset. His eyes searched Stiles’ questioningly. But there was more: Derek also looked different. He was dressed differently than usual. He looked… casual, Stiles decided. He wore plain, fitted jeans, a blue V-neck shirt, and a baseball cap with sunglasses perched on top of the bill. He looked like a real person. No leather jacket, no constipated scowl. Just your average guy, about to spend a week on the beach with his friends. Underneath the concerned look for Stiles, he even looked a little happy.
It hit Stiles like a train.
Scott had said the whole trip was Derek’s idea. He had heard Erica telling Boyd and Isaac that she’d never seen Derek happier. It pieced together instantly in Stiles’ mind. This was the first time in a long time their lives hadn’t been all ‘Buffy meets Sam and Dean.’ There were no monsters. No one trying to kill them. No one was dying. Derek finally had a chance to be a real alpha. To get his pack together and do something nice for them. Probably the way his family used to do before the fire. Stiles hated himself even more for potentially ruining it.
“You smell like… hurt,” Derek said slowly. Danny and the others were pulling out of the drive but Derek hadn’t even started the car. He moved a little closer to Stiles, getting a better scent. Stiles just sat there, accepting the inevitable.
“No, its different,” Derek continued, “You smell like betrayal. And anxiety. Even more than what’s normal for you.”
Stiles scoffed at that, his eyes were locked forward, staring through the windshield, wishing he were anywhere but here. He hated that werewolves could tear him apart like that. He hated always being vulnerable. Everyone else in the pack got to run around with their emotions bottled up inside them and no one was the wiser. But Stiles? Nope. He couldn’t even have a bad day without it being everyone’s business.
“You make a habit out of smelling me, sourwolf?” He said sarcastically, tears stinging his eyes. He wasn’t going to cry. Not here. Not in front of Derek Hale.
“Stiles, you’re pack. Your scent is important to me. And like it or not, your problem’s are the pack’s problems.”
“No your pack is my problem!” He didn’t mean to shout at Derek. But damn, he was pissed, and frustrated, and he hated himself for being pissed and frustrated.
Derek’s eyes flashed red at the thought of anyone talking badly about his pack. But this was Stiles, and Derek calmed himself quickly, reminding himself that the boy wasn't a threat.
“Derek, can we please just drive?” Stiles asked quietly.
“Tell me what’s wrong or we’re not leaving the driveway” he said simply.
“I’ll tell you once the car starts moving,” Stiles said back.
After another very long pause, Derek let out a sigh and turned the key in the ignition. Once they got on the highway, Derek asked him if he was ready to talk about it. Stiles didn’t say anything; he only reached into the back seat and began rummaging through his backpack. He pulled out a black aux cord and a bag of Swedish Fish. Once his phone was connected and he’d opened the Swedish Fish, he took a deep breath.
“Those were mine and Laura’s favorite candy growing up,” Derek said passingly. Stiles silently held the bag out to Derek who took one with a small smile. “We used to dump them in this kiddie pool we had, and we’d shift into our beta forms and catch them with our mouths, pretend they were wriggling around.”
Stiles didn’t know why, but he was really glad Derek told him that. It was rare to learn anything about Derek’s personal life, let alone his family.
He plopped a Swedish fish into his mouth, chomped it a couple times and looked at Derek.
“I don’t think I have any friends.”