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the kids aren't alright: episode one

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Stiles

 

One would think, being the ‘smart one’ of his friend group, that Stiles would let go of this useless optimism. That, given his pragmatic-almost-to-the-point-of-being-cynical way of processing information, he wouldn’t still hold onto this silly hope that everything is suddenly going to change for the better this year at school. Because, really, only two things have changed over the summer between ninth and tenth grade:

 

(1) Scott got really beefy for like, no reason in Stiles’ opinion because the guy can’t even run a fourth of a mile without having an asthma attack. Scott said it’s because he wants to make first line in lacrosse this year, but lacrosse is almost exclusively running. What’s the point of getting jacked for a sport you can’t even play properly? Poor guy had to work out in intervals for hours at a time with his emergency inhaler on hand and snort protein powder at every meal just to build the muscle.

 

And (2), Stiles got taller. That’s it. He didn’t do any big personal renovations or go through some life changing development. He just got taller. Which sucks a little because when he was short he could play off his baby fat as maybe being muscle, but now that it’s all stretched out over five whole new inches of body, Stiles is basically the world’s flimsiest palm tree.

 

Oh, and he can legally drive now too, but so can everyone.

 

In any case, he still allows himself the delusion of this being the year that he finally gets the girl, speaking of....

 

“Heyy, Lydia, you look—” he says as the girl of his dreams brushes past him like he doesn’t even exist, leaving in her wake only disappointment and the scent of her designer perfume. “—Like you're gonna ignore me.” Stiles looks at Scott with a playfully disgruntled expression and proceeds to project. “You're the cause of this, you know. Dragging me down your nerd depths. I’m a nerd by association. I’m being scarlet nerded.”

 

Scott, who is clearly the more conventionally attractive and personable of the two of them, just nods and rolls his eyes, used to Stiles’ antics. “When was Dera supposed to get here?”

 

“Fuck if I know, but I’m not being late for her,” Stiles shrugs, leading Scott into the school building. Dera’s a big girl. She can find her own way to class. Besides, they don’t even have first period together, so there’s no point in waiting on her if she’s going to a different part of the school anyway.

 

He doesn’t really begin to worry until the minute before second period is due to start, and she’s nowhere to be seen. She’s not known for her punctuality, but she usually tries to be on time. Also, there’s the fact that the class is chemistry taught by Mr. Harris who has a special place in his charcoal black heart reserved for his hatred of her and Stiles.

 

Yes, they are plenty of trouble alone. And yes, they are the tag team from hell when combined. But Harris is still a teacher. In Stiles’ opinion, not outwardly hating specific students is one of the bare minimum requirements of professionalism when it comes to the job.

 

Not to mention, he gives it to Stiles five times worse than he does Dera because he’s a misogynist who thinks men should be held to a higher standard than women as they are born leaders and also because Dera is scary.

 

She’s five feet and four inches of fire and brimstone just waiting to be unleashed on anyone who crosses her. Her temper is god awful, which wouldn’t be so bad for someone of her size if it weren’t combined with her surprising strength and aptitude for winning fist fights. Honestly, Stiles doesn’t even feel bad for most of her victims because they approached her when he’s almost certain she goes out of her way to look as unapproachable as possible.

 

Stiles dribbles his pen against his notebook, anxiously counting down the seconds on the clock before Harris closes the door and locks out any tardy stragglers. Harris already has a hand on the door closing it when it forcefully slams back open, and Stiles lets go of a breath of air he didn’t even know he was holding only to choke on it. He looks over at Scott quickly, assessing his friend’s face to make sure they’re seeing the same thing.

 

The girl at the front of the classroom, glaring at Harris as he stops her to berate her, can’t be Dera because— she’s a girl.

 

Like, all of her fundamental bits are there, but it’s all wrong. She’s in the same style of long sleeved shirt she always wears, except she’s clearly wearing a real bra instead of a sports bra because she has cleavage. Actual cleavage. And she’s just letting it show. Where people can see it. Then there’s her typical hot topic skirt with the pleats and the chains, but it looks so short— although that might be because she doesn’t have any jeans or leggings underneath, but also because maybe she’s taller than she was the last time he saw her. Actually, her legs look long as fuck, toned in less of an athlete and more of a model way. The only true constants are her hi-top chucks and backwards cap, because even her face looks different.

 

Because she’s wearing fucking makeup.

 

Not Lydia-level barbie doll makeup, but she definitely has on lipgloss or some shit. According to all his observations of her over the last 16 years, the only makeup she ever wears is a smudged half-crescent of black under her eyes and that’s it.

 

Finally, there’s the most uncharacteristic thing about her: her hair. Dera is a very active, very hands-on kind of person, and she learned at a very young age that wrestling Matthew Greenberg face down into the mud was much easier with her midnight black hair braided behind her back. As a matter of fact, this is the first time Stiles has even seen her hair down since her younger sister Cora used a handful of it to yank her down the last three steps in their house in the second grade. Yet there it is today, in all its shiny, wavy glory. She would look like she’s in a shampoo commercial if it weren’t for the well-worn baseball cap fitted snuggly on her head with the embroidered word ‘bitch’ facing backwards.

 

In all the essential ways, the creature in front of him is Dera, but at the same time, it’s not.

 

Dera

 

Dera is having a shitty morning. Laura spent eight years locked in their shared bathroom that morning before work. Cora, the rude bitch, threw a twenty minute hissy fit in the living room because their mom got Dera a black backpack and her a pink backpack but she doesn’t like pink anymore because she’s in high school now and apparently that makes a lick of fucking difference on what color backpack she should wear. And on top of all that, uncle Peter flaked on his promise to drive them to school so Dera had to drive the speed limit all the way to school when she was already running late to begin with because she couldn’t risk getting pulled over because she doesn’t have a driver’s license yet because she fifteen fucking years old until December.

 

Dera feels all the frustrated rage of her awful morning simmer beneath her skin as Harris immediately stops her as soon as she (forcefully) enters the class room to ride her ass in front of the whole class. She grips the pink straps of her backpack tightly, like she’s trying to milk some calmness from them before she actually lays out her teacher on the first day of school.

 

Just when Harris finishes his rant about punctuality, and she thinks he’s finally finished, he segues into a new, more familiar topic of criticism. “You know the rules, Hale. Hat and gum.” He holds out his hand, clearly expecting her to take off her cap and give it to him, but Dera’s feeling extra awful today, so instead she leans over and spits her wad of pink bubblegum into his hand with a smirk. She doesn’t give him a chance to react, bypassing him and dropping her hat on his desk as she makes her way over to the lab bench where Scott and Stiles are staring at her like she’s holding a bloody knife.

 

She grabs the open seat beside Stiles, pulling her notebook and pen out so she can pretend to take notes even though she knows she and Scott are both just going to steal Stiles’ after class. Five minutes in and she realises it’s a good thing she wasn’t planning to pay attention anyway. How could she with Stiles glancing over at her from the corner of his eye every two seconds? He probably thinks he’s being discreet, but even if she didn’t have werewolf senses, she would be able to tell he’s staring.

 

The fuck do you want?, Dera scribbles onto her notebook, tapping it once with the end of her ink pen to draw his attention to it.

 

Nice to see u 2. Had a gr8 summer btw, Stiles writes back in the margins of his own paper.

 

Dera offers him a tight smile in return, but stops responding to him otherwise. She needs him to pay attention to the lesson for her.

 

••••

 

Stiles

 

Stiles is at least comforted to know Dera’s still a major dick. He doesn’t know what he’d do without her shoving him into his own locker to see if he’ll still fit. Spoiler alert, he didn’t. At all. And he hasn’t for 6 years. Because it’s a half locker. With a shelf in it.

 

He stretches his back as he follows Dera and Scott down the hall. Getting shoved into his locker was probably the last thing he wanted to do after eating the cafeteria’s nasty chili cheese fries.

 

“Dera!”

 

They all three respond to the name, used to being lumped together and treated like one person. It’s Jacob Howard. He’s a senior on the lacrosse team, first line unlike Scott and Stiles who keep the bench nice and toasty for everyone else. There’s no doubt in Stiles’ mind that this guy is gonna get first line again in tryouts this afternoon.

 

He’s a lean, muscular dude with blonde hair and really pretty green eyes (but you didn’t hear that from Stiles), and despite him and Scott actually being his teammates, he completely ignores them to talk to their friend.

 

Stiles waits for Dera to tell him off for so much as looking at her, but it never happens. In fact, she smiles at him, flashing a sharp set of pearly whites.

 

“Hey, Jacob.”

 

“Wow, I didn’t know you knew my name,” the guy replies sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck which makes his impeccable ‘ceps flex attractively.

 

“What did you want?” Dera asks sweetly, and Stiles gapes at her because she’s actually batting her eyelashes at him. She looks like Vivian Leigh in Gone with the Wind, unabashedly flirting with him as if she hadn’t gone on a rant four months ago about ‘mindless twits’ who will do anything for male attention.

 

“Uh, I just wanted to know if you wanted to go out this weekend or something?”

 

Dera does this thing with her eyes, then, blinking slowly and looking up at him under her eyelashes, nodding. “I like ice cream.” Her smile and voice softens in an obvious facade of meekness.

 

“Cool. Ice cream. This Saturday?” He asks, quickly fumbling his phone out of his pocket so she can put in her phone number.

 

They confirm the date and Dera smiles at him until he’s out of sight, the smile immediately morphing into something less sweet and more self-satisfied.

 

“What the hell was that?” Stiles explodes once Jake’s gone, and Dera just smirks at him like she doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

 

“I got a date, Stiles.”

 

“But why? You hate dates, and meathead jocks, and flirting. I don’t understand.”

 

“I dunno. He doesn’t seem like a meathead to me,” she replies, clearly trying to get on his last fucking nerve by playing stupid for as long as possible.

 

Dera

 

She gives Stiles an infuriating smirk. She’s doing this on purpose. She can smell it all over Scott. The lingering scent of blood, the alpha werewolf. They have yet to say anything to her about it, and until they do, she’s going to do whatever the hell she wants with no explanation.

 

Not that she would owe them any explanation anyway. It’s her body. She can do with it as she pleases. The bell rings before Stiles can open his fat mouth again, and Dera takes it as an opportunity to walk away.

 

Stiles

 

Stiles watches her walk away, his ever growing curiosity intensifying as he’s left without any real answers. “She’s different right?”

 

“Yeah. She’s less mean. To me anyway.” Scott pats Stiles on the back and also abandons him in the halls.

 

••••

 

Dera

 

Dera watches as Stiles and Scott make their way up the hill to the field, which currently is just patchy bits of dead grass. Even though it’s only September, it’s already pretty cold out. Dera pulls her leather jacket tighter around her. It doesn’t quite fit the same since her body decided to suddenly and rapidly develop over a short three month period. She seriously went up two cup sizes. Like, that’s not even werewolf weird. It’s just weird weird. Especially considering the fact that she’s an athlete so her boobs shouldn’t be trying to stage a coup of her torso.

 

She tunes into them.

 

“But if you play I’ll have no one to talk to on the bench. Are you really gonna do that to your best friend?”

 

Dera snorts.

 

“I can’t sit out again. My whole life is sitting on the sidelines. This season, I make first line.”

 

Scott turns around to scan the bleachers, and Dera thinks he’s looking for her before his eyes stop on someone else. It’s a pale-skinned girl with long dark brown hair in a blue scarf. That’s about all Dera can see of her. She’s with Lydia, though, so Dera already knows she doesn’t care to know anything more.

 

“McCall!”

 

The next thing she knows, Scott is on the field, which is abjectly horrifying. Her hand tightens around the emergency inhaler in her pocket. The whistle sounds and Scott grabs his helmet, clearly not accustomed to his new, heightened hearing. Dera almost feels bad for him before remembering that he and Stiles are trying to hide it from her, so when the first ball nails him in the head she has to hide her satisfied chuckle with a cough. It’s not like it would have mattered anyway as most of he team and Coach Finstock laugh at him anyway.

 

Scott catches the next one, and everyone, including himself, is shocked. It almost seems like he doesn’t know how he did it.

 

He catches the next one and the next one and the next one. Then Jackson steps up to the front of the line, a hard look in his eyes that screams ‘alpha male’. Like he’s not even bothered by Scott. Like he knows he can take him down. It’s kinda hot, in a ‘you’re the last person on earth I would ever fuck including my family’ way.

 

He does some kind of running jump shot that totally undermines the use of his core strength. If he had just stood there and shot like a normal human being, he could have done it way harder. Maybe then Scott wouldn’t have caught it.

 

Stiles jumps to his feet, spazzing out. Lydia also stands up, giving Scott a little ‘woo!’ before shooting a smug look at Jackson. Dera stands up too, yelling “That’s my boy!”

 

Lydia turns around, lip upturned and Dera gives the redhead her most intimidating glare. She’ll not have Lydia going after Scott in some lame attempt to to manipulate Jackson and make him jealous.

 

Dera and Lydia both break their glaring match at the same time, snapping their attentions to the field. There’s a guy standing behind coach. He’s probably supposed to be paying attention to what’s going on on the field, but he’s staring right at Dera with beautiful hazel eyes and this douchey half smirk, and Dera just smiles sharply in return. He’ll be fun.

 

••••

 

Stiles

 

Stiles stops in his tracks as he’s exiting the locker room, Scott nearly plowing over him, but his newfound agility and functioning reflexes prevent them from colliding.

 

Dera’s standing in the hallway, her back pressed to the wall, Adam Singer pressed to her. Well— not quite, but if he leaned in just a centimetre, their bodies would be flush. He’s got a hand flattened on the wall above her head, Dera looking up into his eyes with this dirty grin that Stiles doesn’t even want to begin to investigate the cause of.

 

She can’t be flirting with him, though. She has a date with Jacob. Why would she double time Jacob when she hasn’t even timed him once?

 

Stiles, the master of subtlety, uses his long legs to his advantage, covering the few feet between them before either of them can react. He sidles up to the wall, leaning against it with his bag thrown over his shoulder.

 

“Hey, guys, what are we talking about?” he grins, mischievous eyes switching between the two of them and betraying his overly friendly tone.

 

Adam raises a perfectly groomed eyebrow at Stiles, and he has to admit the guy is gorgeous. Hazel eyes, brunette hair with golden highlights, ripped as fuck. If anyone in this school counted as direct competition for Jackson Whittemore, the bane of Stiles’ fucking existence, it would be Adam.

 

“We’re busy.”

 

“A little too busy. You know, I just saw Jac–“ Stiles releases an embarrassingly high-pitched whine as Dera discreetly grabs his dangling fingers belonging to the arm of the shoulder that he’s leaned against and squeezes so hard his fragile bird bones try to crumple in on themselves. She releases before anyone sees.

 

Adam gives Stiles a weird look, brushing him off before turning his attention back to Dera. “I guess I’ll see you around then.”

 

“Call me tonight.”

 

“Oh, I will,” Adam winks, then forcefully shoves past Stiles, knocking him into the wall.

 

Dera shoots Stiles a deadly glare, grabbing him by the ear. “What the fuck, Stiles?” she growls, and where is Scott? Where is is best friend who loves him and would never let his other best friend murder him in cold blood in the middle of he hallway. Stiles doesn’t want to die at school. He doesn’t want to haunt this shithole for all of eternity. That’s literally his worst nightmare.

 

“What do you think you’re doing?” Stiles wheezes out because even the pain isn’t enough to stop him from being an annoying little fuck.

 

“It’s none of your business.” She lets go of him, and Stiles immediately scrambles to the other side of the hallway as if Dera isn’t lightning fast and capable of snatching him up before he can blink. It’s totally not because she smells like candy and was growling in his ear all bossy and demanding.

 

“Scott, help me out here,” Stiles says then, looking over to his friend for help, but Scott is Scott. He’s like the Switzerland of people. At his absolute boldest, he’s a peacemaker. He rarely ever intervenes in spats between Dera and Stiles, though. Maybe because he’s loyal to both of them and would never choose one over the other, but Stiles suspects it’s actually because he doesn’t want to get his ass handed to him by Dera. They’ve both seen what she can do; Stiles’ mouth is just uncontrollable, and he doesn’t know when to be quiet for the sake of self-preservation.

 

Scott blinks at him, and shrugs, a gentle smile on his lips. He’s still chuffed about his chance of making first line. The bitch.

 

Dera crosses her arms with a haughty look, popping her hip to the side like a total bitch.

 

“Okay, aside from the fact that you’re being a whore–“

 

“I’m not being a whore!” Dera tries to yell over him, but he goes on, raising his voice so she can hear him

 

“–Are you aware of the fact that it’s so incredibly stupid to try to play two guys on the same team? What if they find out about each other? You think they won’t brag about fucking you to the whole team?”

 

“I don’t care.”

 

Stiles raises his hands into the air incredulously, eyes bugging out as he tries to process the words he’s just heard. “What?!

 

“I don’t care. I don’t care what they think. I don’t care what you think. And to be completely honest, Stiles, I don’t really think you have the moral high ground here.”

 

“Uh, last time I checked, I’ve never dated two guys at once.”

 

“Don’t know why you’d need to check at all considering you’ve never dated anybody.”

 

Dera

 

Scott snickers at that, schooling his face when Stiles shoots him a glare. Stiles hikes his backpack up, with this totally self righteous look that Dera just wants to slap right the fuck off his face. “Well I could if I threw myself at people.”

 

“So what would you call what you do to Lydia?” Dera raises an eyebrow, and for once Stiles doesn’t have a legitimate comeback.

 

Stiles squawks indignantly, squaring his shoulders like he’s going to move toward Dera, but Scott cuts in, grabbing Stiles by the shoulder. “Would you look at the time. Stiles and I actually have something to do. It’s getting dark soon,” he tries to whisper to Stiles, completely unaware that Dera can hear him plain as day because she too is a werewolf.

 

“Righteo!” Stiles cheers, looking only slightly nervous as he shoots Dera a big, fake grin. That’s his formulating a lie face, which at this point should just be considered his neutral expression. Stiles is the most cunning, conniving little human Dera has ever seen in her life. Her mother has always joked that he reminded her of a fox, but Dera would never relay that information to him because that would imply that she talks about him outside of their encounters. “Dera, it was the opposite of a pleasure, but if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got a project to work on.”

 

“It’s the first day of school.”

 

“You know Harris,” he chuckles, off kilter, trying to steer Scott away from the conversation.

 

“I’m your partner in that class.” She’s going to find out what they’re hiding from her. Even if she has to trail them into the woods, although given the fact that there’s an alpha hanging around who isn’t her mom, maybe it’s best if she just let the soft and squishy humans get their own idiot asses killed. It’s not like she cares about them or anything.

 

Stiles fumbles out some kind of half assed explanation before yelling his goodbyes and darting down the hall, Scott in tow.

 

••••

 

She trudges through the woods slowly, moving in a way that mimics the way she moves when she hunts. Stiles and Scott, oblivious to her presence, have been talking about Portal 2 for the last half hour, until finally Scott manages to shift the conversation over to lacrosse practise.

 

“I don't know what it was. It was like I had all the time in the world to catch the ball. And that's not the only weird thing. I can hear stuff I shouldn't be able to hear, smell things-“

 

If Dera didn’t know any better, she would think he doesn’t know he’s a werewolf, but that’s ridiculous. What kinda of alpha bites a human and then abandons his beta with no explanation? That’s one of the worst things you can do as an alpha. Her mom would probably have to get involved and apprehend the wolf if that happened. But it couldn’t have, right?

 

Dera tunes back in right as Stiles says, “So, all this started with the bite....” And honestly, she wouldn’t be surprised if Stiles figured out the supernatural existed without being told. He’s just the right mixture of ridiculously open-minded and surprisingly clever needed to figure it out on his own. Although, he did think Star Wars was real until he was like eight, so it could go either way.

 

Scott starts panicking. “What if it's like an infection? Like my body is full of adrenaline before I go into shock or something?”

 

Stiles does this thing, where he touches his nose, and Dera knows that when he does it he’s either lying or gearing up to be a major asshole. “You know what? I actually think I’ve heard of this. It's a specific kind of infection.”

 

“Are you serious?”

 

“Yeah. Yeah, I think it's called lycanthropy.”

 

“Lycanthropy?” Scott repeats, dead serious. “What’s that? Is it bad?” Dera has to hold back a snort as the joke completely goes over Scott’s head. He’s so precious.

 

“Oh yeah, it’s the worst— but only once a month.”

 

Full moon jokes are like the period jokes of werewolves. As a female wolf, Dera, unfortunately, has to suffer through both.

 

Scott’s brain visibly grinds to a halt. “Once a month?” He’s probably trying to think of any human afflictions that function on a timed schedule.

 

“Mhm, on the night of the full moon.” Stiles releases a little howl that Dera refuses to admit is kind of cute. It reminds her of when Cora was little and trying to learn to howl, but she couldn’t get the magnitude of it down so she just settled for a little ‘ahoooo’.

 

Scott hits Stiles whose reaction is to burst into laughter. He really doesn’t have appropriate fear or pain responses. Dera’s noticed he kind of likes it when she hits up on him. Being able to read chemosignals is probably the best part of being a werewolf because she instantly knows when she’s gone too far and should stop. Her squishy human toy would probably be broken by now if she wasn’t able to sense his emotions.

 

“You're the one who heard a wolf!”

 

“It's not funny, there's seriously something wrong with me!”

 

“I know! You're a werewolf! Grr!” Scott shoots Stiles a look that instantly has Stiles changing gears. “Okay, obviously I'm kidding…. but if you see me in shop class trying to melt all the silver I can find it's cos Friday’s a full moon.”

 

The boys stop, Scott motioning towards the ground. The next thing he says sets off about a thousand red flags in Dera’s mind.

 

“No, I could have sworn this was it. I saw the body, the deer came running, I dropped my inhaler.”

 

A body? Dera’s eyebrows shoot to her hairline. Please, for the love of god don’t let them be talking about a dead body.

 

“Maybe the killer moved the body,” Stiles replies with all the nonchalance of a fucking psychopath. Seriously?? Dera’s gone for three months and these two idiots get caught up in a supernatural murder mystery like some kind of Nancy Drew meets Jeepers Creepers bullshit. She told her mom not to send her to Aunt Beth’s and this is exactly why. Her children need supervision at all times.

 

“If he did, I hope he left my inhaler. Those things are like eighty bucks.”

 

Stiles looks up and then starts, smacking Scott’s shoulder in the universal sign of ‘get the fuck up something’s happening’. Dera’s eyes follow Stiles’ line of vision to where her uncle Peter is standing in the woods, appearing as menacing as he can in that stupid leather trench coat, looking like Neo from The Matrix.

 

“What are you doing here? Huh? This is private property.”

 

Dera looks around, suddenly recognizing the area. She hadn’t realized they were so close to Peter’s old house. He’s very protective of the property, and Dera can understand, knowing what happened there. He probably detected Scott the second he set foot in his territory, especially considering that Scott has been doing absolutely nothing to block his scent.

 

Peter is in Scott’s face now, and Dera’s about two seconds from stepping in when Peter reaches into his pocket. Stiles takes a step back, expecting him to draw some sort of weapon, but his hand resurfaces with Scott’s inhaler.

 

“If I catch you two here again, we’ll have problems.” He holds out the inhaler in his open palm, revealing in Scott’s fear as he quickly reaches up and snatches it as if Peter was going to suddenly grab him. It occurs to Dera that they probably think Peter is the murderer, and while Peter is immensely creepy and violent-natured, he’s probably not the killer. He hates getting his hands dirty. He’s one of those ‘why do the work when someone could do it for me’ type people.

 

As the boys tuck tail and scram, Peter shoots Dera a knowing look from her hiding spot. She doesn’t humor him with a response, still pissed that he bailed on their ride this morning. Instead, she follows Scott and Stiles out of the preserve, just to make sure they get there safely now that there’s a killer running loose in Beacon Hills.

 

“Dude, that was Peter Hale! You remember, right? He’s Dera’s uncle.”

 

“Remember what?”

 

“When her dad died in fifth grade. The fire was at Peter’s house. His whole family died. He’s the one who was in the hospital.”

 

Scott cringes at the memory and so does Dera. She didn’t know Stiles paid all that attention when she was crying her eyes out. He probably heard something from his dad too even though Sheriff Stilinski wasn’t on the case or even the sheriff at the time.

 

••••

 

Later that night, when her sisters are asleep and Scott and Stiles are hopefully safe in bed, Dera sneaks back out into the woods. Scott most definitely doesn’t know he’s a werewolf, and whatever— whoever— bit him has no intentions of teaching him control. It makes her sick because he probably didn’t even have Scott’s consent, and now he’s going to be like this forever. Dera is proud to be a werewolf and wouldn’t want to be any other way, but there’s something fundamentally wrong about biting a teenage boy in the middle of the forest, in her family’s territory no less.

 

Now that she’s on the scene, knows what to look for, she can feel everything Scott felt. And it’s pure terror. The scent of his fear is dulled slightly by the day that’s passed, but the leaves still smell acrid, a bitter aftertaste in her throat. She also smells the smoke and tar of rage, body almost compelled to be still by the lingering scent of alpha. Whoever bit Scott… is extremely powerful. And extremely dangerous.

 

••••

 

Stiles

 

Stiles busts his ass trying to catch up with Scott before lacrosse practise. He almost didn’t make it to school that morning because he fell asleep while preemptively writing three book reports for English this semester the night before and forgot to set an alarm. It’s a good thing his dad had a day shift and poked his head in to check on Stiles otherwise Stiles would still be sprawled face down, ass up on the floor.

 

Stiles wheezes Scott’s name as he finally catches his friend by the arms. “Stiles, I’m playing the first elimination, man. Can it wait?”

 

No, it most definitely can not wait. “Just hold on, okay,” Stiles pushes out between gulps of air. He doesn’t have asthma or anything. He’s just out of shape... Actually, he’s pretty sure he can’t be out of something he’s never been in. “I overheard my dad on the phone. The fibre analysis came back from the lab in L.A. They found animal hairs on the body from the woods!” Stiles slaps Scott’s shoulders, trying desperately to keep his friend’s attention, but Scott just keeps piling on his gear. Stiles follows Scott, voice raising in his urgency to say “You’re not gonna believe what the animal was!” but by then Scott’s already run out into the field.

 

“It was a wolf.”

 

Stiles sits down on the bench, not even trying for first line. Coach likes him enough to keep him on the team for some reason, and that’s enough for him. He takes this opportunity to study Scott. If what he thinks is going on is going on, then Scott shouldn’t be anywhere near a lacrosse field.

 

It starts off pretty normal with Scott getting creamed by Jackson, but then it’s like something switches on in Scott. He’s faster than he’s ever been, ultra agile, and Stiles could chalk that up to Scott’s near obsessive summer training. What can’t be explained, however, is the fucking backflip he does over a line of defence before scoring a goal. Stiles can’t bring himself to cheer along with everyone in the stands as coach announces Scott made first line.

 

Dera isn’t in school that day, and Stiles finds out from her mom that she’s feeling a little ‘under the weather’, but Dera hasn’t been sick in years. He doesn’t have time to go snooping in her personal business past that. As soon as he gets home, he throws his backpack on the floor and sits down in front of his laptop. He’s so in the zone that a knock to his bedroom door nearly scares the fucking life out of him. He closes his laptop and scans the area for anything too incriminating. When he deems it safe, he opens the door, racing heart calming at the sight of Scott’s smiling face and precious floppy hair. He forgot he even texted Scott to come over. Adderall hyperfocusing trances are on a different level, and he’s had more than the prescribed dosage. Normally, he would get majorly annoyed at being interrupted, but he’s glad to see Scott.

 

He ushers Scott in, closing the door behind him in case his dad gets home.

 

“I’ve been up all night reading. Websites, books, all this information.” Stiles can feel his mouth moving at a mile a minute, fumbling around in his pile of research findings. Scott notices too.

 

“How much adderall have you had today?”

 

“A lot. Doesn’t matter.“ Scott chuckles, used to him abusing his prescription medication. “Okay, just listen-“

 

“Oh, is this about the body? Did they find out who did it?” Scott throws his backpack on Stiles’ bed, sitting down and getting comfortable. He knows Stiles has a spiel ready.

 

“No, they’re still questioning people. Even Peter Hale.”

 

“Dera’s uncle?”

 

Stiles is starting to get annoyed, impatient to start regurgitating all the information he’s ingested over the last couple of hours. “Yeah, yes! But that’s not it, okay!”

 

“What then?”

 

“Remember the joke from the other day? Not a joke anymore.” At Scott’s blank stare, Stiles continues. “The wolf. The bite in the woods. I started doing all this reading– Do you even know why a wolf howls?!” An anxious burst of energy catapults Stiles out of his seat as Scott entirely does not get the significance of this conversation.

 

“Should I?”

 

“It’s a signal! Okay? When a wolf’s alone, it howls to signal its location to the rest of the pack. So if you heard a wolf howling, that means others could have been nearby. Maybe even a whole pack of em.”

 

Scott appears interested, sitting straighter. “A whole pack of wolves?”

 

“No...” Stiles trails off, knowing this next part is going to make him sound absolutely insane. “... werewolves.”

 

Scott sits there for a second, staring at him in confusion before he jumps to his feet with a tone of disbelief. “Are you seriously wasting my time with this?” He grabs his bag, and Stiles tries to think of some way to stop him. “You know I’m picking up Allison in an hour.”

 

Oh, right. For the party. That Stiles isn’t invited to.

 

Stiles tries not to let that sting, pushes away the anxiety of his best friend maybe growing out of him and into a different crowd because there’s bigger fish to fry right now.

 

“I saw you on the field today, Scott. Okay, what you did wasn’t just amazing, alright? It was impossible.”

 

“Yeah, so I made a good shot.” Scott goes to leave, but Stiles grabs him by his jacket.

 

“No you made an incredible shot!” He tugs Scott’s backpack out of his hand, moving around frantically trying to release some of this built of energy. “Your speed? Your reflexes? People can’t just suddenly do that overnight— And there’s the vision and senses, and don’t even think I don’t notice that you don’t need your inhaler anymore–“

 

“Okay!” Scott exclaims, throwing his arms out emphatically. “Dude, I cant think about this now! We’ll talk tomorrow.”

 

And now he’s panicking. “Tomorrow?! What?! No! The full moon’s tonight! Don’t you get it?!”

 

“What are you trying to do?! I just made first line! I got a date with a girl who I can’t believe wants go out with me, and everything in my life is somehow perfect! Why are you trying to ruin it?”

 

Aaaaand that definitely stung. If Scott could just open his eyes for two seconds instead of trying to assume Stiles is out to get him, then maybe he’d see the gravity of the situation. What motive does Stiles even have for ‘ruining’ his life, anyway? Stiles is the last person he should be accusing of trying to hurt him when he’s the only person trying to help him. And a lot of other people, because if Stiles is right and Scott’s a werewolf, his best friend will literally be putting so many people in danger by going to that party. Some sources say the shift is uncontrollable, and turning into a big hairy beast in a room full of teenagers would be a disaster even if nobody got hurt.

 

“I’m trying to help,” Stiles replies, swivelling around in his desk chair just in time to see the remorse on Scott’s face. “You’re cursed, Scott. You know, and it’s not just that the moon will cause you to physically change. It also just so happens to be when your bloodlust will be at its peak.”

 

“Bloodlust?” Scott asks, an annoyed twinge to his voice.

 

“Yeah, your urge to kill.”

 

“I’m already starting to feel an urge to kill, Stiles.”

 

Stiles rolls his eyes, grabbing a book off the desk behind him. “You gotta hear this.” His eyes skim the page until he finds what he’s looking for. “The change can be caused by anger or anything that raises your pulse,” he reads off, shooting Scott a look as he snaps the book closed. “Alright! I haven’t seen anyone raise your pulse like Allison does.” He shoots out of his chair, set in action as he finally feels like maybe he’s starting to get through to Scott. “You gotta cancel this date.” He moves around Scott, grabbing his bag. “I’m gonna call her right now.”

 

In retrospect, he probably shouldn’t have told the werewolf with lightning fast reflexes his plan before he did it because Scott grabs him by the shirt and throws him against the wall so hard the drywall bows in for a second.

 

“No, give it to me!” Scott screams, raising his fist in front of Stiles’ face. Stiles applauds himself on only flinching a little when Scott tears around and swipes at his desk chair so hard the whole thing topples over. Scott pants angrily for a few seconds, Stiles keeping quiet in the mean time because his face is already bad enough. He doesn’t need Nega-Scott rearranging it. Thankfully, Scott comes back to himself after a bit, eyes widening in horror as he backs off Stiles.

 

“I’m sorry. I-I gotta go get ready... for that party...” Scott moves back in a daze, grabbing his bag off the bed, but Stiles just stays against the wall, lets Scott put distance between them. “I’m sorry,” he repeats one last time before leaving.

 

Once Scott is gone, Stiles bangs his head against the wall. All things considered, he probably shouldn’t have just dropped the werewolf bomb on Scott like that, but he really didn’t have the time to do it any other way. Stiles dejectedly picks up his desk chair, something catching his eye as he rights it.

 

Three huge claw marks.

 

Stiles has to go to that party.

 

••••

 

“Dera, pick up your phone!” Stiles frustratedly grits out into his phone, clicking the end call button before the voicemail beeps. He knew she wasn’t going to answer, and that’s why Stiles took it upon himself to just show up to her house.

 

He bounds up the steps on her front porch, stopping to knock on the door only because the last time he didn’t, Dera screamed at him for a solid thirty minutes about respecting privacy. Although, that’s probably because he had crawled in through her bedroom window. She comes in through his window all the time. It’s not fair.

 

Talia answers the door, worried face morphing into a smile that’s at least a little genuine.

 

“Stiles, what are you doing here?”

 

“I know you said Dera wasn’t feeling well, so I came by to check on her.” Stiles gives her his most boy scout grin, trying to channel his inner Scott.

 

She doesn’t look like she believes a word he’s saying, but Talia lets him in anyway.

 

“Coriander,” he says in passing to the insufferable fourteen year old on the sofa.

 

“Shitface,” she greets back, rolling her eyes when her mother corrects her language. Stiles smiles fondly despite the name. She‘s turning out more like Dera every day. He remembers when she was little and used to bite him instead of using her human words. She’s come so far.

 

When he finally gets up the stairs and down the hall, he just flings Dera’s door open. Luckily, she’s not in any compromising position. She’s just sitting on her bed, reading one of those raunchy romance novels for ‘the comedic absurdity’. And she doesn’t look sick. In fact, she looks quite good, cheeks a healthy pink.

 

She throws the book across the room, the thing soaring past Stiles’ face and smacking into the doorframe beside him.

 

“You scared me, asshole!”

 

“Get up,” is his reply, closing the door so nobody hears him. “We’re going to that party. Scott’s in trouble.”

 

That’s about all she needs to hear before springing into action, running into her walk-in closet. She flings her black cotton shorts and tank top out onto the floor, and for some stupid reason it causes Stiles to blush. She’s only a few feet away from him, and she’s naked. Dera reappears in less than a minute, in a red, long-sleeved shirt that shows a lot of cleavage and these black skinny jeans that are so tight he’s sure if she bends over they’ll split along the seam. She throws on her black combat boots and her leather jacket, grabbing Stiles by the arm on her way out of the room. She shouts something vague about her going out, practically dragging Stiles out of the house before her mom can object. They both get into the Jeep, and Stiles peels out before she can make a comment about him being slow.

 

••••

 

The music at the party is decidedly shit, and it’s a good thing he and Dera aren’t there to dance to it. Not seriously anyways. They bop back and forth absently in the backyard, both of their eyes glued to Scott and Allison, who are dancing really horribly. Stiles is by no means a good dancer, but what they’re doing just looks awkward as hell. They seem to be enjoying it though, exchanging these coy little smiles that make Stiles want to vomit on himself. It would probably be more enjoyable than watching them.

 

Stiles lets his eyes trail to the side, instantly regretting it when he spots Jackson pressing Lydia against a pillar, trying suck the life out of her throat with a hand on her ass. Hey, maybe he’s a vampire.

 

Stiles turns his attention back to Dera, the image of Jackson trying to publicly initiate sex scarred on his brain forever. “Having fun yet?”

 

Dera looks at him, green eyes sparkling with mirth despite her flat tone. “The opposite actually. This is excruciating. Maybe Scott needs to quit lacrosse and take up dance lessons.”

 

“Nah, I think the cringe is just compounded by the fact that they’re both terrible dancers.”

 

“Speaking of, I’m proud of you. You’ve been dancing for a solid five minutes, and you haven’t taken out anybody yet.”

 

Stiles can feel his ears turning red from the embarrassing memory. The last “party” he’d been invited to was Carrie Spiegler’s bat mitzvah. He’s a flailer, okay? And his arm just happened to catch a tray of knishes from a passing waiter, and the rest is pretty self explanatory and too painful to relive. It’s among his top ten most embarrassing moments, which says a lot because his embarrassing-ness baseline is a normal person’s 5/10.

 

Dera smiles when he doesn’t respond, his pain clearly bringing her some sort of sick pleasure. Sadist. Her smile quickly drops off after a second, eyes shooting towards where Scott is pushing through the crowd, leaving Allison standing dumbly. He looks like he’s in pain.

 

Stiles and Dera both bolt in his direction, but by the time they get out front, Scott’s already pulling off the curb in his mom’s beat up car. They don’t waste any time, hopping into the Jeep, and speeding away.

 

Stiles isn’t surprised that Dera’s just going along with his bullshit when he hasn’t even said what’s wrong. She’s fiercely loyal and protective, and this is Scott they’re talking about. Stiles feels the creeping tendrils of guilt building up until he finally bursts. “I know I should’ve told you this earlier, but Scott and I went looking for a dead body in the woods and my dad caught us and took me home but Scott got left out there and he got bit by something and now he’s acting really weird and he’s strong and fast and I think he’s a werewolf.” Stiles takes in a huge gulp of air at the end of his word vomiting, feeling a little lightheaded.

 

“I know.”

 

“You have to believe me. I wouldn’t joke about this— actually, I would, but that’s besides the point. Dera–“

 

The girl cuts him off. “I said I know.”

 

Stiles shoots her an incredulous look. “You know?! How could you possibly know?!”

 

Dera

 

Dera contemplates how much to tell him. She trusts him with her life, but she doesn’t know if she’s ready to tell him about her family. That’s not her secret to share. She can’t just out everyone like that, especially not with what happened. She settles for omission, which still allows her to tell the truth. “I followed you two into the woods the other day. When you ran into my uncle.”

 

“And you just knew?”

 

“I know about werewolves. I’ve always known.”

 

“And you didn’t tell us?!” Stiles wails, grip slipping on the steering wheel before he quickly grabs it again, the Jeep swerving back and forth on the road.

 

“I couldn’t. When you know, you’re not supposed to tell anyone. It’s dangerous.”

 

“Yeah, but we walked right into a werewolf in the woods and almost died because we didn’t know. That sounds pretty dangerous to me.”

 

Dera lets her head lull to the side, directing a flat stare at Stiles, making sure he has a little time to marinate in the stupidity he feels under her gaze before she speaks. “You went into the woods looking for a dead body with a killer on the loose.”

 

“Half a dead body,” Stiles corrects as he pulls into Scott’s driveway. “Stay here.”

 

“So you can get your ass maimed? No way.” Dera unbuckles and hops out of the car, racing Stiles to get into Scott’s house. The door to his room is locked when they get upstairs, so Stiles starts banging on the door.

 

“Scott!”

 

“Go away!”

 

“It’s me!”

 

Scott cracks the door and his frenzied scent almost knocks Dera out. It’s been a while since she’s been around a werewolf with no control. Her body can sense the way he’s succumbing to his animal side, and it makes her want to give herself over to the moon with him, to run and maim and kill. For some reason, Stiles has smelled particularly.... good tonight. Like crisp pine and sugar cookies. And under Scott’s influence, she can’t ignore the way she wants to tear into him and take what’s hers.

 

Dera dashes down the hallway, leaving Scott and Stiles behind. She can’t do this. She hasn’t lost control since her dad died, but she can feel it coming on strong, like the repressed moons have somehow built up this reserve of feral energy. But that doesn’t make sense. It’s not how it works.

 

Dera feels herself shifting as she makes it to deeper into the forest behind Stiles’ house, eyebrows disappearing as she springs forward onto all fours. She’s still here. Still present. The farther away she gets from Scott, the more human she feels. Her phone buzzes in her pocket, but she ignores it. She has to get home and stay home. Dera’s almost there when she hears it.

 

The very distinct sound of an arrow whistling through the air. Hunters.

 

A scream pierces through the night that has Dera standing at attention. It’s Scott. It goes against everything her mom’s ever taught her (“If you hear hunters, run far far away. Don’t look back. Don’t stop for anyone.”), but Dera loops around a tree, running now towards the fight.

 

She hides behind a tree, observing the situation. Scott is pinned to the tree, an arrow in his forearm while three hunters stand before him. It’s disgusting. Grown men hunting down a child. She knows they know he’s only a kid, and they have a code, which apparently means shit all when the one in the middle says, “Take him.”

 

Dera quietly moves forward, yanking one of the hunters back hard enough to throw him into the ground. That’ll be a concussion for sure. She grabs the second one, smashing him into a tree. She doesn’t go for the third one. She knows him.

 

Well, she knows of him. And she’s not ready to die just yet. Instead, she runs around the whole scene while the hunter is distracted with his severely injured buddies, grabbing the arrow in Scott’s arm and snapping it so that he can pull his arm off the other half and run.

 

Once they’re far enough away, Dera lets go of him, and Scott collapses on the ground, panting. The pain from the injury must be anchoring Scott, his features all human besides his glowing yellow eyes. Dera’s not shifted either, so Scott doesn’t question her, his brain still probably trying to process the fact that he just got shot with an arrow.

 

“Who were they?!”

 

“Hunters. The kind that have been hunting wolves for centuries.”

 

“You knew?!”

 

“About werewolves and werewolf hunters? Yes. About you being a werewolf? Not until tonight thanks to you and Stiles keeping shit from me.” Dera can feel the moon pulling her anger to the surface as she quickly grows frustrated with Scott.

 

“We didn’t keep anything from you!”

 

Dera tries not to feel like a hypocrite as she says, “Not telling the truth is still lying, Scott. How long did you think you could keep me in the dark? Did you think I wouldn’t find out eventually? I’d expect this from Stiles, but not from you.”

 

Dera doesn’t bother to make sure he gets home safe, stalking away in the direction of her house.

 

••••

 

Stiles

 

Relief floods Stiles’ system as he finally spots Scott’s shirtless figure walking along the road ahead of him. He slows the Jeep to a stop long enough for Scott to get in. He looks like he’s injured, gripping his arm and moving sluggishly. Once inside, he leans himself against the door.

 

“You know what actually worries me the most?”

 

“If you say Allison, I’m gonna punch you in the head.”

 

“She probably hates me now.”

 

Stiles releases a disgusted ‘ehck’ at his best friend’s sappy, lovesick behaviour. Still, he feels bad that Scott’s had such a rough night so he tries to console him. “I doubt that. But you might wanna come up with a pretty amazing apology. Or, ya know, you could just tell her the truth and revel in the awesomeness of the fact that you’re a fucking werewolf.” Scott shoots him a look, and Stiles shrugs. “Okay, bad idea.”

 

Scott just glances downward, sinking in his seat dejectedly. It hurts Stiles to see him like this, even though he kind of feels like Scott deserves it after slamming him into a wall and accusing him of ruining his life. He pats him on the chest. “Hey, we’ll get through this. C’mon, if I have to I’ll chain you up myself on full moon nights and feed you live mice. I had a boa once, I could do it.”

 

Scott scoffs out half of a laugh, Stiles smiling. They’ll figure it out. They have to.