“Dad, I’m bisexual, and I’m interested in someone.” Stiles holds his breath as his dad’s face turns red and blotchy in the silence that follows.
Finally, John takes a deep breath. “Why are you telling me this?” he asks, voice hard, and Stiles stares, because what? That’s the Cop Voice. He did nothing to earn that tone.
The truth falls out of his mouth before he can think about what he’s saying. “Because I’d like to be able to bring my boyfriend over for dinner, if he agrees?”
The splotchy flush suddenly returns. “Who is he? He’d better not have touched you!”
His knee-jerk thought is I wish, but quick on its heels is, “Are you serious?”
He gets treated to one of his dad’s interrogation faces, and he feels the bottom drop out of his stomach. “You’re underage, Stiles, of course I’m serious.”
Disappointment gives way to something Stiles thinks is rage. Don’t quote him, though, because he’s never felt like he’s going to explode before, so he might be wrong. “Okay, so, what? If I say yes, are you gonna investigate, drag him away in handcuffs?”
His dad’s face goes so hard he looks like a stranger. “You bet your better-be-virginal ass I will.”
There’s silence for a moment as Stiles counts his breaths, feeling his pulse hammer in his throat, temples, fingertips. He clenches his fists so his hands don’t shake. “Well, then, I guess you’d better go slap some cuffs on Allison, then,” he says, and he doesn’t recognize himself, has never sounded this ugly, this vicious.
It throws his dad for a loop. “What? Why would I arrest her? Has something happened?”
He chokes on a laugh that’s sharper than broken glass. “Only that she and Scott have been having sex, and she’s a year older, y’know. Scott’s still underage.”
John huffs, relaxing. It makes Stiles angrier, makes the urge to lash out grow. “I see what you’re trying to do, son, but that’s di—”
“Because they’re straight?” he hisses, and his dad finally notices how angry he is. “Because he’s not your son, even though you’ve always said he’s as good as?”
John swallows, looking uncomfortable, and all Stiles can think is good. “How about we just calm down, talk about this rea—”
“Oh go fuck yourself!” Stiles is shocked, but not as much as his dad. “Age of consent matters, but only when I’m telling you I might be dating another guy? Gay people are fine, but not my kid? Can you even hear yourself?”
John’s standing there, mouth opening and closing when Stiles turns around and storms out.
He waits a couple days before going to see Derek. He doesn’t want to drag his anger with him, not with what he wants to ask, and that means waiting. He’s got it mostly all tucked away when he finally goes.
Derek gives him expectant eyebrows in place of actually asking why he’s there. It shouldn’t be endearing, but it kind of is? “Hey. So, I. I have something to tell you, and then something to ask you, if—y’know, if this is an okay time?”
It gets him a curious expression and an inviting head tilt. He steps inside the loft, and looks around. “Is anyone else here?”
Derek’s brow furrows. “No.”
He lets out a little breath of relief. “Okay, good, because I do not need the endless mockery that your band of furry assholes can dish out.” Derek snorts, but says nothing, so Stiles decides there’s no time like the present. “I already came out to the pack, but I came out to my dad the other day.”
“That’s big,” Derek says softly. “It go okay?”
He barks out a laugh because wow, no, no it did not. “Not really. But it was important, because I wanted to ask you out, and I don’t want you to be a dirty little secret. You deserve better than that. So—what d’you say, Sourwolf?”
Derek’s face does something complicated, and for the second time this week, he gets a sinking feeling in his gut. When Derek speaks, he sounds uncharacteristically soft. “I’d like to, but I can’t. I’m sorry.”
And just, that’s—“What do you mean, you can’t?” He doesn’t know what to think. It is because he’s a human? Because he’s a dude, and can’t help Derek make pretty little Hale babies?
And Derek, well—he won’t meet Stiles’s eyes, and his arms are crossed over his chest. “I mean that I can’t, Stiles. I won’t turn into Kate, won’t take advantage of you when you’re underage.”
It pulls him up short, and he drags his hands through his hair. “Derek, you get that you aren’t her, right? This is nothing like that. You were fifteen, and she seduced you, used you, so she could commit mass murder. But you know me, and I know you, and I’m the one asking you for a date, okay? Dating is allowed.”
Derek’s shaking his head and backing up. “You don’t know what you’re getting into. You’ve never been with anyone before.”
And, just like the fight with his dad, his disappointment and crushed hope are turning into a gut-churning anger. He knows he can’t keep it out of his scent, but he tries to keep it out of his voice. “Derek, please listen to me. Age isn’t the only thing that decides whether a relationship is healthy or abusive. She could’ve been the same age as you, and what she did still would’ve been wrong, and the fact that I’m sixteen shouldn’t be the only reason you say no to—to someone you want.”
Derek’s hunching in on himself, like this conversation hurts, and Stiles wants to give the big idiot a hug, but dude’s backing away from him some more. “That doesn’t change the fact that you’re too young to—to understand. You’ll want, and I’ll want to give it to you, and you won’t be ready. You’ll think you are, but you won’t be, and I can’t—I won’t do that to you.”
He takes a deep breath, and tries to swallow down the metallic taste in his mouth. “Okay, Derek. That’s fine.”
He turns to leave, and is stopped by Derek’s, “Maybe—maybe when you’re older? If you still want.”
And god, the last thing he wants is to hurt Derek more than the world already has, but maybe the guy needs to hear this. He makes his voice as gentle as he can, as if that’ll soften the blow. “The problem is, big guy, that I don’t want to. Not anymore. I’m not interested in being with someone who doesn’t trust me to know my own mind, to know what’s best for me. If you don’t want to have sex before I’m eighteen, that’s—well, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d still date you. But you’re still so messed up over what she did that you not only don’t trust yourself, you don’t trust me.” He smiles, and he knows it’s sad, anger and loss are duking it out for which is going to make him cry first, so he pushes out, “You don’t get to choose what I’m ready for.”
And then, just like three days ago, he walks out, gets in his Jeep, and drives.
A week later, things have finally calmed down between him and his dad—they haven’t talked about it, Stiles suspects they won’t talk about it, but they are, at least, talking to each other again. Even if it is stilted and awkward as hell, it’s still better than outright avoidance or tense silence. So he’s okay with not talking about it, which is probably for the best, since that’s likely how it’s gonna stay.
So of course he gets proven wrong when he limps his carcass in the door after a late lacrosse practise to find his dad home early and glowering at him. Dread and exhaustion play tug-of-war in his gut as he wonders whether to deal with whatever bullshit is gonna come out of his dad’s mouth, or just turn around and leave again. Exhaustion wins. “Hey, Dad. You’re home early.”
John’s face hardens, and Stiles decides fuck it, if they’re doing this, he might as well get comfortable—he drops his backpack as his dad says, “And you’re limping, what a coincidence.”
So that’s where this is going. Alrighty then. “It is, actually.”
He leans against the doorway, hands jammed in his pockets, because leaving again might be for the best, here. “Well, c’mon on, then, Sheriff. What am I being accused of?” he asks lightly, purely because he knows it’ll piss his dad off.
Ah, and there’s the Cop Face. “I’m not accusing you of anything, son, I’m just saying that it’s suspicious—you tell me you’re interested in dating some boy, and then you come home particularly bow-legged at a time when you think I won’t be here. What am I supposed to think?”
For the first time in his life, Stiles understands what people mean, when they say that anger can be cold. He breathes slowly, going through and discarding dozens of ways to answer that—pulled a hamstring fucking a girl—are you actually asking if I had a dick up my ass?—maybe try asking instead of assuming—did your homophobia overtake your brain, or did you just forget that I had practise?—and eventually says, “You know, it’s really funny, in that wow-you’re-a-hypocrite kind of way that you’re so hung up on whether or not I’m virgin when I know that you had sex as a teenager.”
His dad scowls, but he also takes a step back. Stiles knows that means he got his point across. “Answer the question!”
He shrugs, and is suddenly glad he didn’t kick his shoes off when he got in. “You’d need to ask one, first.”
John grits his teeth. “Did you or did you not have sex this afternoon while you thought I’d be at work and you could get away with it?”
Yep, he’s gonna be leaving again. “I didn’t violate any of California’s statues this afternoon, no.”
He doesn’t seen his dad’s face as he ties his shoes, and really, that’s probably for the best right now. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Stiles grabs his bag and stands up, still outwardly calm as he looks his dad in the eye. “It means that if I went north and crossed into Oregon with a boyfriend from school, the Romeo and Juliet clause would be in effect, and I wouldn’t have broken the law. If this were Nevada, I’d already be over the age of consent, because it’s an arbitrary line in the sand that exists to protect kids from fucking predators like Kate Argent, and you’re standing there using it to justify acting like puberty’s a crime.”
John takes another step back as he struggles to reply. Stiles doesn’t care—he’s half out the door when his dad hollers, “Don’t you walk away from me! Show some respect!”
He doesn’t care if the neighbours hear when he hollers back, “Say something worth respecting, first.” And then he gets in the Jeep and drives, because apparently that’s what he does these days.
He doesn’t know why, but he ends up driving on autopilot to Lydia’s. She takes one look at him and pulls him inside and into her room before asking if he wants to talk about it. And, well. She’s not queer at all, but she’s a good listener, and is surprisingly sympathetic when he tells her about Derek.
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” she murmurs, nails scritching gently across his scalp where he’s sprawled out on the floor next to her.
“Thanks. It just—I really liked him, you know? I wanted a shot, and I wanted to do it right. Instead, it feels like I’m being fucked over by everyone else’s hangups about fucking.”
She snorts. “Crude, but accurate.”
“I mean, it doesn’t really make sense, you know? Age of consent laws. They’re bullshit lines in the sand because you have to draw the line somewhere, but they completely ignore the actual people involved. People are different, mature at different rates because of how and where they grew up and what they’ve dealt with.”
Her hand doesn’t stop petting his hair. It’s going a long way towards mellowing him out. “You’re right. And just because he thinks now, with the benefit of hindsight, that he wasn’t emotionally mature enough at fifteen to make sexual decisions doesn’t mean that he can decide you’re not mature enough to make decisions at sixteen. You’re different people.”
He flails a little, which probably looks odd, because he’s basically waving an arm straight up in the air, but whatever. “Exactly! And also because, y’know, there’s a difference between someone looking to prey on a fifteen year old and me being all upfront ‘n shit, asking someone out.” He looks up at her, and her eyes are the same colour green as Derek’s, but where his were full of shame and resignation, hers are full of understanding. “It’s not like I’m going to magically be a different person in a few months when I turn seventeen, you know? Or in a little over a year, when I turn eighteen.”
She makes an encouraging noise, so he goes on. “Like, what, I’m old enough to make decisions about what college I want to go to and to deal with this supernatural bullshit, but I’m not old enough to decide I want to go on a date, try having sex? In what universe does that make sense?”
“The same one where children as young as thirteen can get married with parental permission, which, coincidentally, nullifies statutory rape accusations regardless of how old their partner is, because the sex is between spouses,” Lydia says dryly.
He flails again. “Right?! It’s so fucked up! That’s legal in a whole shit ton of states, including here! And, just. It’s fucked that I could technically get married with my dad’s signature, and then have all the sex I wanted, but I can’t even get a handjob without him threatening to arrest someone.”
Lydia tucks her hair behind her ear, and he realizes that he’s actually enjoying this, in some bizarre intellectual-but-also-personal way, and that she seems to be, too. “Age of consent laws also ignore the fact that there are underage survivors of sexual abuse and assault.”
And that, that throws him for a loop, because he’s not sure where her genius brain just went. “What?”
Lydia gives a sly smile and pokes his chest. “Stop thinking like the Sheriff’s son for a minute and really think about it. Children who are molested, and young victims of assault often engage in promiscuous behaviour.”
She pauses, waiting for him to catch on, and once he thinks about it, he thinks he knows where she’s going with this. “Because they want good experiences to help them cope with the bad ones?”
She nods, and gives him a proud little smile. “Or, at least, experiences they can control.”
“I can see that.” And he can. But—“I guess I just wonder how much it matters, in terms of making the laws, you know? Like. I know it happens, but I haven’t looked into the statistics on it.”
She flicks his ear, which, rude, but also: possibly earned. So he squawks but doesn’t say anything. “Stiles, the statistics are horrifying—one in four girls, and one in four boys are sexually abused as children, and it’s estimated that 50% of all rapes happen before the victims under eighteen. And maybe once the reporting process gets easier and the data gets more accurate, those numbers will change, but even if they don’t,” she trails off.
“Jesus.” He closes his eyes, and realizes that Derek is one of those statistics. Maybe two, depending on how the definitions work. He sits up, and wraps his arms around his knees. “So, what you’re saying is, treating everyone under eighteen like we’re ignorant and innocent is wishful thinking, because a huge chunk aren’t?”
Lydia nods. “Exactly. It’s why the issue of sex education is so fraught—there are people who want to keep us ignorant in the name of protecting us, but it actually does more harm than good.”
He agrees, but just—“How do you even know all this?”
She smirks. “Completely aside from the fact that, as a girl, I kind of have to? I dated Jackson, remember. His dad’s a lawyer, and I’ve had dinner at his place more than once.”
Stiles can see the way talking about it pulls at her, so he gives an exaggerated grimace. “How’d you wash the lawyer scum off?”
Lydia rolls her eyes and pushes him over, and he lets her, because she’s smiling again.
“Alright you selfish little goblins, today we’re learning about birth control and why you should give a damn even though you aren’t the ones having babies.”
Stiles’s head snaps up at that, and he bites his lip so he doesn’t grin maniacally. He’s always liked Finstock. The shifting and mutters among the other guys also inspires vindictive glee, because Stiles has always been a little bit of an asshole.
Finstock looks at them expectantly as he rolls up his sleeves. “So, what do you know about birth control? Come on, speak up, I can’t correct your ignorance if I don’t know what I’m dealing with.”
Danny, of all people, rolls his eyes, and says, “The pill.” Stiles is stunned for a moment until he remembers that, gay or not, dude’s been hanging out with Lydia for years. There’s no way he wouldn’t know.
Finstock gives a manic grin and points at Danny. “Correct! Now, what do the rest of you know about the obstacles for women to accessing that?”
The room is suddenly so quiet you could hear a pin drop. After about ten seconds, Stiles can’t take it anymore, and puts his hand up. Finstock grimaces a little, but nods at him. “Different states have different rules, and lots of them require parental permission for teenagers to get a birth control prescription of any kind. Never mind the insurance angle.”
Finstock claps. “Correct! Insurance?” When no one else seems to get what he’s talks about, he rolls his eyes and makes the go on gesture at Stiles.
“A lot of insurance plans don’t cover birth control, including student plans at college. And, for the ones that do? Parents get informed by the insurance company, even if the doctor doesn’t do it.”
And then Kyle, who’s so douchey even Jackson wouldn’t associate with him despite being on the lacrosse team with the guy, decides to pipe up. “Why is that a problem? Minors need parental consent for all medical care.”
Stiles rolls his eyes and doesn’t even bother raising his hand. “I mean, yeah, sure, in theory that’s fine—but parents go nuts about underage sex, and that’s without mentioning the teenage victims who need care.”
The entire class is staring at him like they can’t decide if he’s insane or the fount of all knowledge. Finstock looks—proud of him, but also strangle-happy? He decides to keep going. “The statistics we have put 50% of rape victims under eighteen, which means there are a lot of teenagers who need to get tested, or even have an abortion. And between doctors deciding to get our parents involved in our sex lives, and age of consent laws arguing we can’t decide what to do with our own bodies, the system screws over people who need help. Rape victims and victims of incest, people too young to pay for abortions themselves—they can’t be honest about what happened to them, if it was a broken-condom style accident, and especially not if they’ve been assaulted and know their parents won’t believe them.”
Finstock nods gravely. “Listen to the cop’s kid, boys—because Bilinski’s right. If you want to stick your dick in someone, there’s a price, and chances are, you aren’t paying it, but that’s no reason not to know what the cost is.”
Kyle sputters. “But what about condoms?”
Finstock moves towards the douche’s desk, arms waving. “What about them? You can buy them, can’t you? No one tattles to mommy and daddy when you do?”
Kyle’s fists clench in his lap. “Of course not!”
“Exactly!” Finstock yells, hands slamming down on Kyle’s desk. “They’re less effective than hormonal birth control, but they’re the only thing that prevents you little animals from spreading disease, but no one is making you jump through hoops to get them! There’s no doctor’s appointment, no mommy and daddy breathing down your neck, no crazy cost!”
Kyle nods, and Finstock marches back to the front, where he grabs a stack of printouts. “Right. We wandered away from the topic a little, so let’s get back to it. Everyone take one of these.”
He brings his dad dinner at the station, because it’s sort-of neutral ground, and because he can’t keep avoiding the house. It’s his home, he should be able to come in after school without bracing for another screaming match.
And, since apparently that means he has to be the adult, here he is. The deputy at the desk waves him through, and he taps twice on the door before letting himself in. His dad’s eyebrows shoot up, but he beckons Stiles in, shuffling files away to clear his desk.
Stiles sets down the container—leftover roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and carrots—and doesn’t bother to sit down or sugar-coat what he has to say. Neither of them have so far, so it’d be a waste to start now. “Dad, this has to stop.”
John looks up, sees the expression on his face, and sets his fork down. “This?”
Stiles feels his face twitch, but doesn’t give in to the urge to be a smartass. “Don’t play dumb. We both know what I’m talking about.”
His dad gives him a hard stare. It’s not quite Cop Face, but it’s not particularly fatherly, either. “You want me to, what? Just be okay with whatever it is you’re doing with some boy I’ve never met?”
He opens his mouth to point out that there isn’t actually a boy now, just some bitterness over another epic failed crush, and that hey, it’s not like he was going to bring anyone over when his dad was threatening to arrest them, but closes his mouth. That’s not why he’s here. “I want you to understand that you have a choice.”
John rolls his eyes. “And what’s that?”
Stiles lowers his voice, because the last thing he needs is to start another fight in the middle of the station. There’s been enough screaming lately. “You can either keep being a bigot, waiting for the chance to arrest someone I care about for the crime of being with me, or you can be the dad I trust to help me if things go wrong.”
John’s mouth drops open, and Stiles can tell that what he hasn’t said—you can be part of my life, or you can push me away—got through. He starts to speak, but Stiles shakes his head. Now isn’t the time.
He nudges the container towards his dad. “Eat while it’s still hot. We’ll talk when you get home.”
And then he leaves, slipping out quietly and waving goodbye to the deputies who see him pass, hoping that this is the part where things start getting better.
It takes a while, but Stiles gets over Derek’s rejection. The more he thinks about it, the more he wonders if he maybe set himself up to fail. If this was another Lydia situation where he should’ve known better—maybe did know better, however much he wanted to pretend otherwise. Because he and Derek have always had something there, but all of the wall-slamming and steering-wheel-bashing, shoving and punching and gritted-teeth exasperation should have been a sign.
Derek wasn’t just angry, he let his anger translate into violence—the kind that actually hurt, that wasn’t playful, that Stiles can’t heal from in thirty seconds like Derek’s puppies. Derek didn’t want to listen to him, didn’t want to compromise.
He wonders, for a little while, why he’s like this. Why he’s always been drawn to broken things. But the longer he thinks about it, the more he realizes—Derek was the obvious choice, the safe choice, a perfect distraction from the person he shouldn’t have ever thought about that way.
And, unfortunately, now that his sour-faced distraction isn’t available, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. So he thinks about it. Way more than he should.
He thinks about the fact that, even completely insane, the guy was careful with him. Used force, sure, but. A measured amount. Enough to scare him a little, not enough to hurt him. He never so much as left a bruise. But, more than that—Peter respected his “no”. Even when his heart stuttered over the not-quite-lie, Peter let him walk away.
Since the resurrection, Peter hasn’t touched him at all. Snarked with, stood close to, helped, yes. But touched? No.
It shouldn’t make him want, but it does. Before he talks himself out of it, he pulls out his phone.
i said no, then. what if i said yes now?
That would depend entirely on what you’re asking for, sweetheart
And, well. It wouldn’t be smart to pique Peter’s curiosity and then not deliver, so he hits the call button. Peter answers on the second ring, and doesn’t bother with “hello”. “I can tell you right now that if you’re asking me to kill something, then yes, body disposal will cost you extra, and under no circumstances will I make nice with the idiot you call a best friend.”
Stiles snorts. “Good to know, but none of those were why I called.”
There’s a pause, and when Peter speaks again, his tone has shifted—it’s lower, smoother. Intrigued. “Is that so?”
Stiles swallows, mouth suddenly dry. “This stays between us, okay? No mocking me about it.”
Peter’s chuckle is darkly amused. “Why, Stiles, do you need my help with something delicate?” There’s a pause, then, “Come on, tell me all about it,” he husks, and Stiles suddenly wants to hear that tone a lot more often, but preferably after dark and behind a locked door, because goddamn.
So, of course, in true Stilinski fashion, every ounce of smooth he ever had goes straight out the window. “Date me?”
There’s a pause, and the only reason he doesn’t facepalm is because he knows Peter would hear it, and he’s already probably never going to live this down as it is. He doesn’t expect Peter’s voice to be riding the edge of a snarl when he replies, “This had better not be a joke.”
His heart’s in his throat, but he’s come too far to chicken out. “It’s not,” he rasps. “You—I want to.” He pauses as he realizes—“Does that mean yes?”
Peter’s exhale is shaky and deliberately drawn-out. “Sweetheart, I’d love nothing better. You know I’ve always liked you. You should, however, know that I don’t share.”
Stiles’s heart is still pounding, but not like before. His chest is filling with a giddy sort of lightness that makes him tremble. “I’d—yeah, I’d be good with that.”
He doesn’t say anything else, because there’s so much to say and nothing he can put into any kind of order in his head, and Peter must pick up on it, because Peter’s—like that, always reading between the lines, always aware that there are spaces to read into. “What’s wrong, Stiles? You didn’t honestly think I’d tell you no?”
He swallows. “Not—not exactly? I guess. I just.” He stops, gnawing on his bottom lip as he tries to figure out to phrase it in a way that Peter won’t take the wrong way. And then he remembers it’s Peter. “Are you interested in me despite the age gap, or because of it? I am, technically, still underage.”
Peter snorts. “You are also utterly unique.”
He rolls his eyes, but his heart rate is settling into something more comfortable. “Doesn’t mean that any hypothetical sex we have between now and my birthday isn’t illegal.”
Peter huffs a disbelieving little laugh. “Darling, you can’t tell me that you’re hung up on that? You? Because, correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m fairly certain that if you’re old enough to be an accessory to murder, you’re also old enough to decide you want me to teach you just how good another person’s touch can be.”
Warmth bubbles up in his stomach, expanding and travelling down his limbs until his fingers and toes are tingling. “Well, when you put it like that,” he says breathily. “You wanna get coffee at the new place on Fifth?”
Peter hums. “Tomorrow, noon?”
“It’s a date.”