When he took his father’s profession into account, and how similar he was to said father of his, the fact that it had taken him this long to notice was actually almost embarrassing. Normally, he would’ve noticed weeks ago, but the entire idea was so horribly laughable that by the time his brain caught on that maybe this was something to be concerned about, it had already been well over two months.
Stiles Stilinski was appalled at this revelation when it finally hit him, most especially because it momentarily made him lose his appetite. Which was unforgivable in the face of perfectly good mall food court food. Burger, curly fries, soft drink. Just—terrible for his appetite to have momentarily left him.
But it was a big revelation, because it was something he definitely should’ve noticed long before now, and he didn’t know how to explain to himself why it had taken him so long. Well, other than the obvious fact that it was preposterously ludicrous for the thought that flitted into his head to be real.
He and his best friend Scott McCall had left town a few hours back so they could head out to the large mall in the nearby city. They’d been planning on catching the newest Marvel movie, but had been hoping to arrive early enough to grab dinner beforehand. Succeeding in their attempts to arrive at a reasonable hour—all thanks to Stiles’ trusty Jeep not breaking down during the long drive—they’d arrived with plenty of time to buy tickets and grab some food.
Reaching the food court, Scott had disappeared towards the grilled meat place—being a Werewolf, Stiles didn’t blame him for turning his nose up at all the other places, but Stiles was perfectly human and could consume virtually anything without being picky about it. Stiles himself had opted for the creme-de-la-creme and gone for the burger joint. Burger, fries, perfection. He couldn’t eat like this at home because of his father, so when he had the opportunity to clog his arteries with fast food, he took it.
Once he had his delicious piece of heaven on a tray, he’d cheerfully wandered around looking for a seat and had plunked down into the first available one he’d found, ignoring the sticky substance all over the table. He had a tray, as long as the sticky shit didn’t touch his food, he didn’t care. So he plunked down, sipped his drink, and then proceeded to dump an obscene amount of salt onto his fries because if he was going to go out from a heart attack over his poor food choices, by God he was going to make it count!
It was when he popped a few into his mouth, chewing idly while looking around for Scott, that he noticed him.
An extremely attractive man had just taken a seat almost directly across from him at one of the bar stools, facing out into the food court. He didn’t have any food with him, but he was holding a Starbucks cup, sipping at it almost absently while looking down at something. Where he was seated, along with the bar itself, made it difficult for Stiles to see what he was doing, but he suspected the guy was on his phone, considering that tended to be what everyone did in this day and age.
No judgement, Stiles was guilty of that, too.
Now normally, Stiles would definitely take every opportunity presented to him to ogle a hot guy, especially one as deliciously delectable as this one who made it oh so easy by sitting right there, but this, today, made an uneasy feeling settle in the pit of his stomach.
Hence the momentary loss of appetite.
Setting his burger back down onto his tray after only having taken two bites from it, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and then lowered his gaze, trying to make it seem as though he was texting someone or checking something, but he kept his entire focus on the handsome man across from him.
And he was handsome, good Lord. Dark hair, blue-green eyes, sharp features, stubbled jaw that Stiles would normally want to rub his face against, and that wasn’t even taking into account the rest of his body. While he couldn’t see much of it from behind the bar, Stiles could see that his arms were muscled and his shirt was just a little too tight, giving a nice idea of what his torso looked like.
Yes, under normal circumstances, one Stiles Stilinski would be thrilled to have someone that fucking attractive in his immediate line of sight.
But not now. Not today.
Because as Stiles sat in his seat, pretending to text but actually keeping his focus on the other man, he felt his stomach drop when he noticed it.
The man was staring at him. And not the usual, curious, ‘hey, that guy’s kind of cute, in a weird, gangly sort of way’ glances that Stiles was accustomed to. No, this was blatant staring with intent. Like the guy wanted to eat him alive. Like it was taking everything he had not to stalk across the food court and just pick Stiles up and positively devour him.
Which, given the life Stiles led, could be either a sexy thing or a dangerous thing. Werewolves and Vampires and Chimeras and all that other Supernatural nonsense the rest of the world somehow managed to avoid but oh no! Not Stiles! If there was anything within a twenty mile radius looking to murder a human, it always inevitably found Stiles. He was lucky that way.
So to realize this man was looking at him for extended periods of time when he thought Stiles wasn’t looking was definitely cause for concern. And he knew the guy was doing it when he wasn’t looking, because just to prove his own point to himself, Stiles glanced up and made like he was looking around for Scott, and the man immediately averted his gaze as if he’d never been looking in Stiles’ direction.
The thing about all this was, Stiles would be flattered. He would be, truly, the guy looked like he belonged in a fucking museum. But he couldn’t be flattered right this second, because there was a problem.
And the problem was: he recognized him.
Beacon Hills was a small place. Some people may even call it ‘quaint,’ and while it wasn’t the kind of place where everyone knew one another, it was small enough that people recognized each other.
This man was from Beacon Hills, and the reason Stiles’ food suddenly tasted like ash in his mouth was because he’d been seeing him around a lot lately.
He’d been seeing him at the store, at the bowling alley, in the diner, near the station. It felt like every time he turned around, this guy was there. Hell, he was fairly certain he’d even seen him on his school campus once, but that had to be a ridiculous coincidence, because his campus was almost two hours away from home and really, who had the time?
This, though? This was when his brain finally decided to ring the alarm and insist he pay attention to what was going on around him. Being out here, in the city, with literally hundreds of possible places to go, dozens of places to eat in the vicinity, and various theatres littering the area.
Of all the choices, the man had ended up here. In the mall food court. Across from Stiles.
This was suspicious. This had the feel of a stalker following him around, showing up wherever Stiles went.
Which was ridiculous. Him? Stalked? He was all gangly limbs and overexcited flailings, the thought of anyone being interested in him enough to stalk him was positively laughable.
And yet, here this guy sat. Across from him. Shooting glances his way whenever Stiles pretended not to be looking.
He was so focussed on what the man was doing that Stiles jumped clear off his chair when Scott fell into the seat across from him, steaming plate of noodles, vegetables and beef wafting over from his tray. He partially blocked attractive possible-stalker man with his seat choice.
“Do you really think the ending of Captain Marvel will tie in to the ending of Avengers: Infinity War?” Scott asked, squinting slightly in thought while he stabbed a fork into his noodles and began to twirl it. “I just feel like it’s such a cop out.”
Stiles was too distracted trying to ease to the side to keep his possible-stalker in sight to fully pay attention to Scott’s words, so he just ended up offering him a hum of agreement. The stalker-man was finishing up his coffee, head tilted back and Adam’s apple bobbing while he drank. He licked his lips, set the cup down, and then tapped away on his phone.
Squinting suspiciously, Stiles debated telling Scott about his theory for all of two seconds before deciding he had to be imagining it. After all, the guy hadn’t looked back up since Scott had taken his seat.
Besides, much as he loved his best friend, Scott was anything but subtle. He would try and be inconspicious while turning around, but in the end, one thing he and Stiles had in common was their complete and utter lack of subtlety.
It was a wonder they’d both managed to keep the Supernatural shit they did a secret from their parents for so long. How Scott’s mother hadn’t found out he was a Werewolf for as long as she had really made Stiles question how much the poor lady worked, because only an idiot couldn’t see it, and Melissa McCall was anything but an idiot. Clearly the only explanation was she was overworked. Of course, she knew now, but only because Scott had been forced to tell her. Stiles’ dad still didn’t know, and they really wanted to keep it that way.
Having him working long hours and rarely home really helped with the ‘not letting Stiles’ sheriff father find out that things went bump in the night’ plan.
It turned out he was imagining things anyway, just as he’d predicted, because no-longer-suspected-of-being-a-possible-stalker man actually got up to leave while Scott was still raving about the movie they were heading to see. He picked up his cup, tossed it out while shoving his phone into his pocket, and headed out of the food court, never to be seen again.
Well, probably likely to be seen again given he lived in Beacon Hills. A coincidence, then. Nothing more than a coincidence.
Stiles forced himself to tune back in to Scott’s chatter, shoving a huge bite of meat and bread into his mouth, and then proceeding to attempt to talk around it to rebuff some of Scott’s more ridiculous theories about the movie they were heading to see.
It was slated to be one of the best female superhero movies of all time, and Stiles had high hopes for it, okay! High hopes! He really needed there to be another Wonder Woman box office success right now, and Captain Marvel was it. If it tanked, if he didn’t like it, there would be blood.
The two of them bickered the entire remainder of their meal, and ended up going to the ice cream place by the theatre so they could grab something sweet before gorging themselves on salty popcorn.
“Hey, did you hear the Hales are back in town?” Scott asked while Stiles was standing at the machines, debating between cake batter and cookie dough. Maybe he could just get both, wasn’t like his dad was there to bitch him out.
“Are they?” Stiles asked absently.
“Yeah, came back around Christmas, according to mom. The oldest works with her.”
“Oh. I thought they sold their place.”
“Nah, apparently they all headed out east when their oldest son graduated, which is why Cora wasn’t around for the rest of high school. But they’re all back now. I think Cora’s going to the same university as us.”
Stiles didn’t really know much about the Hales. He knew they were rich—old money or something—and that they had five kids. He wasn’t sure what the Hales themselves did, but Talia and Michael had always been rich, and lived in a giant mansion out in the Preserve, which they also apparently owned. Half of Beacon Hills was owned by them, if rumours were to be believed. He was fairly certain Michael was a famous author, and Talia was an animal activist businesswoman of some kind. Some wildlife protector or something.
Their eldest daughter, Laura, was five years older than them. She’d gone off to university to be a nurse, and was apparently the love of Scott’s life up until he was sixteen and he’d realized it was never going to happen given she’d moved away. If she was working with Scott’s mother, she was obviously out of school by now and well on her way to having a successful career in medicine. Stiles anticipated that crush would be coming back full force the second Scott saw her, though he hoped he remembered he was a taken man.
Their oldest son, Derek, was three years older than them. He’d been a senior while Stiles and Scott were just freshmen. Stiles didn’t know much about him and what he’d done after school. The most vivid memory he had of Derek Hale was the time Stiles had a free period and Jackson Whittemore had caught up to him in the corridor. He’d been trying to shove Stiles into a locker—because apparently, not something that only happened on TV—and Derek Hale had been heading to the bathroom at the time. He’d seen the commotion and had proceeded to lift Jackson clear off his feet, snarling in his face that if he even looked at Stiles ever again, he wouldn’t live to regret it. Stiles hadn’t known how to react at the time, given he didn’t even know how Derek knew his name, but all in all, he seemed like a cool dude. And Jackson had left him alone all the way to the end of the year, only resurfacing to ruin his life in sophomore year when Derek Hale had graduated. Which was hilarious, since they were now actually extremely close and had been friends since halfway through said sophomore year. Ah, how growing up changed people.
Cora was their age, and while they’d had some classes together in freshmen year before she’d moved, Stiles didn’t know much about her. If she was going to their university, he supposed he’d run into her on campus every now and then, maybe try and make friendly. It must’ve been weird being uprooted at the end of freshman year only to come back in junior year of university. She probably didn’t have many friends.
The other two kids Stiles only knew were named Eric and Merrak, two years younger than them and five years younger than them respectively. They’d only briefly crossed paths in middle school with Eric, and Stiles remembered he used to get picked on a lot, but otherwise he couldn’t say he knew much about him.
The hilarity of having daughters named Laura and Cora, and sons named Derek, Eric, and Merrak was not lost on Stiles. He wondered if their parents secretly hated them, or if Michael’s writing extended into poetry and rhyme.
Art by Wolfile
Still, it was weird to realize they were back in town. Not that Stiles had thought about the Hales that often, but they’d always been a little... weird. Not like, serial killer weird, but weird.
Cora had always been uncharacteristically protective of Stiles, despite the fact that they’d never really spoken. And Derek had protected him and known his name that one time when Jackson had been coming after him. And Talia and Michael always sent his dad gift baskets at work.
Stiles hated that, they always sent things his dad shouldn’t be eating. Now that he thought about it, if they were back, they might start with the gift baskets again. He’d have to speak to the other deputies to make sure they watched his dad like hawks.
He just—didn’t like it. It made him feel like they were trying to win his dad’s favour, and the kids were trying to keep Stiles happy to help their parents. His dad was the sheriff of Beacon Hills, he had a lot of influence in the town, was extremely well-liked, and voted in unopposed after every term. The idea that people might be trying to bribe his father was annoying.
The Hales didn’t seem like the kind of people to do that, and considering how much of the town they owned, it was almost redundant, but still. It was what it looked like, and it rubbed him the wrong way.
“Hey, you ever think that they might be something?” Stiles asked once they’d sat down with their desserts, spooning some fudge-covered cookie dough ice cream into his mouth.
“What do you mean?” Scott asked.
“You know, like you.” Stiles made Vampire fangs against his lips, spoon still held in one of them, and Scott rolled his eyes.
“I’m not a Vampire, Stiles.”
“You know what I mean, howling attracts attention.” Stiles shoved him. “Come on, I mean, they were weird, right? And they lived out in the woods, alone. You can’t tell me knowing what we know now about things that go bump in the night that the Hales are not prime Supernatural suspects here.”
“I guess I never really thought about it.” Scott shrugged. “We’ll find out soon enough. If shit starts to go down in town, we’ll have to confront them.”
“Ugh, please no. I’m still healing from those fairies last week. Who’d have thought fairies could be mean. I thought Tinkerbell was supposed to be nice.”
“Dude, have you even seen Peter Pan?” Scott insisted while they finished up their ice cream and tossed their garbage out, heading for the escalator that led up to the theatre. “That fairy was a jealous little bitch.”
“True.” Stiles sighed. He had bite marks in embarrassing places. Good thing he didn’t have a girlfriend. Or boyfriend. Or monster, even. Really, Stiles wasn’t picky, he’d take anything at this point.
Being twenty-one and a virgin was hurting his pride. Even Scott got laid regularly. Scott! Sure, he was magically all Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome the moment he turned into a Werewolf, but still! He was Scott!
Man, the only reason Stiles wanted to be a Werewolf was so he could suddenly look tall, dark and handsome, too. With his luck he’d die, though. Best he just stick to being the token human.
Which he was in their pack. Token human.
Lydia Martin was a Banshee, Jackson Whittemore was a Kanima-Werewolf hybrid, Kira Yukimura was a Kitsune, Scott was a Werewolf and Stiles was the token human.
He still didn’t know how they’d become a pack. When he thought about it, it made no sense, but he supposed after all of them had realized the others were something not normal, it was kind of a natural progression. Besides, Lydia and Jackson used to be dating, Kira and Scott were dating, Stiles was Scott’s best friend. It worked.
He was pretty sure Jordan Parrish at his dad’s work was also something, but he hadn’t figured out what yet and Parrish was surprisingly good at dodging him, which made him think he was onto something. So, for now, they were a tiny pack of four Supes and a human. They did good work, though. No one was dead yet, at least.
Once they were through the ticket area of the theatre, they stood in line for popcorn, Stiles deciding at the last minute that he also wanted some chocolate and buying himself a huge bag of M&Ms. He bitched at Scott about his bladder since the moron had bought a giant drink and the two of them headed to the theatre to get to their seats.
Stiles’ phone went off while they walked and he pulled it out to check his messages, smirking and typing back a bunch of hearts in response to a snarky message from Jackson.
“When isn’t he?” Scott asked, pulling Stiles aside so he didn’t walk into a ‘wet floor’ sign.
“He wanted me to wait for him to see this, but it’s been out for like, a week. His fault for being too important to spend time with me.” He shoved his phone back into his pocket, then stuck a piece of popcorn into his mouth.
Once seated, Stiles organized himself for optimum popcorn and M&M eating efficiency, and then hunkered down to get ready for the movie. He’d just shoved a huge bite into his mouth when the attractive man from the food court walked in and Stiles almost choked.
He convinced himself that the only reason the guy looked at him was because he’d just started choking, Scott pounding on his back, but it was still unnerving having the man walk up the stairs and disappear somewhere behind where he and Scott were seated.
Coincidence. Totally a coincidence. It was a Marvel movie, after all. Popular, still new, many people were here, it made sense. And really, he and Scott had been forced to drive all the way out there to watch it, so it wasn’t unusual someone else from Beacon Hills had driven all the way out there, too!
“Are you okay?” Scott asked, frowning at him. “You smell nervous.”
“I’m fine, shut up, Scott.” Stiles shoved another handful of popcorn into his mouth, staring at the screen.
It was a coincidence. Just a coincidence.
“It’s not a coincidence,” Stiles whispered, hunkering down in his Jeep and squinting at the dark shape lurking about outside.
“What?” Scott asked, just as quietly. “Stiles, if you’re going to have a mental breakdown, can you have it when we’re not staking out a dangerous, murderous creature?”
Stiles flapped a hand at him impatiently, trying to see in the darkness with his pathetic human vision. He hadn’t even been looking for him, but when Stiles had tried to catch sight of Jackson’s Porsche where he and Lydia were supposed to be keeping an eye on things at the other end of the street, he’d spotted him.
It was attractive-possibly-still-a-stalker man. He was strolling casually along, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, not a care in the world. It wouldn’t have been so weird if not for the fact that it was almost one in the morning, and he was looking over at Stiles’ Jeep.
Everyone knew about Stiles’ Jeep! Whenever anyone in town saw it, they always went, “Oh look, it’s the sheriff’s kid!” because everyone knew it was his Jeep! He was the only one in town with a Jeep like this!
“Who’s that guy?” Stiles demanded, eyes still on the man across the street, hunched down enough that he was positive he couldn’t be seen. He was flapping one hand at Scott, trying to get his attention. “Scott. Scott. Who is he?”
“I don’t know, some new guy, I guess? Who cares, Stiles, can we focus? If we get killed out here because you got distracted by some hot guy, my mom’s gonna be pissed.”
“I never said he was hot!” Stiles hissed, turning to glare at Scott. Rude. Super rude. “It’s just...” He winced, not wanting to say it aloud.
It just sounded so fake. Someone stalking him. How ridiculous.
When he turned back to look at the guy, he frowned when he lost sight of him. Sitting up a bit more, he craned his neck around, trying to find him again, but he was gone. He’d just... vanished.
Great. If he did have a stalker, and he could vanish into thin air, maybe he was Supernatural. Just what Stiles needed right now. A Supernatural stalker.
Why was this his life? Why couldn’t the most exciting thing to happen to him be winning the lottery? Why did his best friend have to become a Werewolf? Why did his first love have to be a Banshee? Why couldn’t he have one normal day?
The silence in the car made it very easy for Stiles to hear Jackson’s irritated snarling and he frowned, looking around. He didn’t sound close, but it was weird he could hear him until he glanced at Scott.
His friend stared at him, then pointedly looked down. Stiles followed his gaze before lifting his hips and pulling his phone out of his pocket. It was connected to a call with Jackson.
He put it to his ear.
“Why hello gorgeous, come here often?”
“Finally,” Jackson barked. “You need a new phone, Stiles. I’m getting tired of your butt-dials!”
“Well, technically it’s not a butt-dial since my phone is in my front pocket. It’s more of a crotch-dial.” He grinned.
“Cute,” Jackson said sarcastically. “Get a new phone before I delete my number from yours.”
“You love me too much to deprive yourself of my beautiful voice.”
“Careful or I’ll rip out your voicebox.” Jackson hung up and Stiles smirked, making sure the call ended and locking his phone before putting it away.
“Your phone still does that, huh?” Scott asked while Stiles arched his back again, trying to shove the phone back where it belonged.
“Yeah, every now and then.” It was a problem he hadn’t yet figured out how to resolve. It always dialled out unexpectedly, and while it tended to vary on who it called, nine times out of ten it was Jackson.
Stiles figured it was because they texted the most often.
He and Scott both jumped when they heard a loud bang in the woods to their left. Sharing a look, both of them threw open their doors and hurried out of the Jeep. Jackson and Lydia were hurrying towards them from the other end of the street, evidently having heard the same thing.
Hoisting his trusty bat over one shoulder, Stiles followed his three Supernatural packmates into the forest, keeping his eyes peeled for anything unusual and hoping he wasn’t about to get murdered by whatever the hell it was they’d been staking out.
Kira was the one who’d insisted something weird was happening in the area, but she was out of town with her family and had left it to them to investigate. While loud banging likely wasn’t at all related to whatever this newest monster was, it didn’t hurt to be careful.
“The hell?” Jackson muttered when he pushed past one last tree. Stiles had to inch around Scott to see past the group and he frowned.
Apparently the loud bang was their Supernatural beast. Stiles had no idea what it was, other than very, very dead. It had quite literally exploded. There was black gunk everywhere, bubbling and steaming like some kind of weird acidic blood.
Scott bent down with a frown, inhaling deeply and touching a spot beside where the beast had likely last been standing before it had decided to make like a bomb and explode everywhere.
“Someone else was here recently.” He inhaled again. “I can’t... make out the scent. It’s weird.”
“Yeah, and it’s getting harder to keep track of by the second,” Jackson agreed. “Like it’s dissipating.”
A branch snapped to their left and all of them whipped in that direction. Stiles raised his bat, feeling his heart lodge itself in his throat. Whatever had taken this thing down was something to be feared, but the longer they remained motionless, the longer the silence stretched. Whatever had been over there was gone now. Or, at least, not heading in their direction.
Stiles idly wondered if it was that guy. Maybe he wasn’t following Stiles, maybe he was following Scott. Maybe he was some kind of Hunter, like the Argents.
Chris Argent and his family had moved to town in Stiles’ sophomore year, and the daughter of the family, Allison, had immediately made friendly with him and Scott. And then proceeded to date Scott, because why would anyone date human Stiles, he was so boring.
It came out when she found out that Scott was a Werewolf that she and her family were part of an old Hunter family. It just made Stiles laugh because he pictured Sam and Dean Winchester types, but her family was way more hardcore. Her grandfather ended up going crazy and tried to kill Scott and Jackson, sacrifice Lydia to some ancient Gods, and kidnap Stiles to brainwash him with the help of his daughter, Kate.
Thankfully, Chris and Victoria had smartened up before anything irreparable had happened, Gerard and Kate had been sent to prison for attempting to murder minors, and the remaining Argents had changed their ways in who and what they hunted.
Allison had ended up leaving Beacon Hills, going abroad for school in their senior year, though her family was still in town. Chris was actually surprisingly helpful to the pack—Stiles assumed he still felt bad for all of them almost dying. The only one who’d escaped unscathed that day was Kira but, to be fair, she wasn’t around until senior year so it hardly counted.
But! The point was, maybe this mysterious guy was another Hunter in town. Maybe he’d just moved there, and didn’t yet understand that Scott was a good Werewolf. He only mauled people once in a while, and usually only Stiles. And usually it wasn’t so much mauling as it was accidental injury because, yes, Scott, humans were still fragile.
“Well, this was fun, but I have shit to do.” Jackson turned on his heel, waving over his shoulder. “See you losers later.”
“You need to give me a ride home,” Lydia snapped after him, moving quickly to catch up and somehow managing not to trip in her heels on the uneven terrain. “Jackson!”
Stiles just looked back at the monster, frowning. He had no idea what it was and he bent down to touch at the blood before recoiling with a curse.
“What?” Scott was beside him instantly, Stiles’ fingers bloody.
“Okay. Apparently it was acid blood. Neat. That’s a thing.” Great, Stiles wasn’t going to be able to type up his homework for tomorrow, now. “Note to self: don’t touch monster blood. If it’s dead, just let it be dead.”
Scott shook his head and wrapped an arm around Stiles’ shoulders, turning him to lead him back towards the Jeep. Stiles allowed himself to be led, but cocked an eyebrow at Scott when he stiffened and turned quickly to look behind them.
Lacking in the superhearing department, Stiles turned as well, but he saw nothing. He didn’t know if Scott’s enhanced vision was offering better results, but the tense set of his shoulders suggested he couldn’t see anything.
“Should we be running?” Stiles asked quietly.
“Not sure.” Scott pulled away from him, heading back the way they’d come. Stiles gripped his bat in both hands, his burned fingers aching but he didn’t loosen his grip.
He followed his friend back into the blood-covered area, looking around alertly before getting distracted staring at the ooze. It was weird it had burned Stiles, but didn’t seem to be doing anything to the foliage it had landed on. He kind of wanted to test that, experiment with it a little bit. Maybe bring some back home and see what he could figure out.
Turning back to Scott when he stalked around a little bit, his friend shook his head and headed back in his direction.
“Not sure what happened, but I think it’s safe.”
“You think?” Stiles asked dryly. “Real comforting, Scotty. Remind me to write your next pep talk.” He let his bat rest over his shoulder, staring down at his two bloodied fingers and sighing, turning to head back for the Jeep. “What did you hear, anyway?”
“Growling?” Stiles cocked an eyebrow. “Like, ‘I’m hungry and my stomach is growling,’ or ‘I’m gonna eat you for dinner cause I’m a monster growling’?”
Scott shrugged, which was supremely helpful. Stiles didn’t dwell on it; as long as nothing was coming to eat him right now, he didn’t care. Another case solved, or whatever.
He was starting to feel like he lived in a Scooby-Doo show. Except the monsters were real.
Climbing back into the Jeep when they reached it, Stiles headed back towards Scott’s place while he texted Kira, telling her about how the monster had exploded itself. Stopping in the driveway, Stiles debated whether or not to tell Scott about the guy, but his friend told him he’d see him in the morning for class then hopped out of the car. Losing his chance, Stiles just turned around and went home. He winced at how loud the Jeep was, and just kept hoping his dad would assume Stiles was out doing regular dumbass young adult things as opposed to putting his life in jeopardy on a daily basis.
Parking in the driveway, he turned off the engine, feeling like it was suddenly entirely too quiet. No way his dad didn’t wake up when he showed back up. Dammit.
Sighing to himself, he climbed out of the Jeep, leaving the bat where it was, and headed for the front door. It was a struggle getting his keys out with his new injury, but he finally managed to unlock the door and head into the house.
Climbing the stairs as silently as possible, he at least felt a little better about the fact that his dad didn’t storm out of his bedroom to demand to know where he’d been. He just ducked into the bathroom to tend to his fingers and get ready for bed.
Even though he wouldn’t be going to bed yet, since he still had a paper to write.
The wounds were painful and difficult to bandage because of where they were, but he finally managed it with an overabundance of bandaids and sighed at how stupid they looked.
“I’m a good person,” he insisted to his injured fingers. “I’ve never done anything to anyone. Okay, maybe I did run over Mrs. Hernandez’s mailbox and drive away, but that was an accident and I’d just gotten my license, so it doesn’t count.”
Sighing when his fingers didn’t offer him any explanation for why his life had become a never-ending episode of Supernatural, he just brushed his teeth and splashed water on his face.
Emerging from the bathroom, he went to his room and silently shut the door behind him, falling into his desk chair and wincing at the time while he pulled his books out.
He knew he should’ve worked on this earlier, but he’d insisted he had time. He had so much time. But then, of course, big bad came to town, fire and brimstone and screaming and all that. Okay, maybe not so much any of that, but it was implied. And then as soon as they’d gotten rid of that monster, Kira was all over them about some weird gooey thing in the woods. Which ended up just exploding on its own.
Or possibly with help, Stiles had no idea.
Rubbing at his face while trying to get his brain to work, Stiles turned to glance at his window when he heard something. Frowning, he stood to head over to it, glancing out into the darkness, but he saw nothing.
“Probably just my imagination,” he muttered, pulling the blinds closed before heading back to his desk.
Curse his new life making him jumpy. Nothing was following him. Nothing was after him. Attractive mall man was not stalking him.
He had to focus on his paper. Nothing else.
He was completely fine.
Except his fingers, which were decidedly not fine. Stupid acid blood.
Stiles hated acid blood.
Stiles felt like he would get to class faster if he just crawled to it. Clearly, this whole walking thing wasn’t working out for him. Which was to be expected, considering he’d been getting maybe two or three hours of sleep a night this entire week.
A part of him couldn’t wait to just graduate and only have to worry about work, but the problem with work was that it happened on a daily basis. At least his classes were spread out so he had Tuesdays and Thursdays off, but somehow things always inevitably went to shit the night before he had his eight am class.
School was almost two hours out, which meant he had to leave the house no later than quarter after six to avoid traffic. Which meant he had to wake up no later than five-fifty. Which meant when he stayed up all night working on papers that he got basically no sleep. Driving home was going to be precarious, he could feel it.
He’d just entered the building his class was in when someone bashed into him and almost sent him flat on his back. Thankfully, whoever it was was extremely strong, because they grabbed the front of his shirt and wrenched him back upright so that Stiles fell into them instead.
“Sorry, sorry.” Stiles backed up a step, rubbing at his face. “Sleepwalking, my bad.”
“No, no, it was all me. I bashed into you.” The girl waved her hand, then frowned at him, pointing a finger of the same hand at him. “Don’t I know you?”
“No, you look familiar. I swear I know you.”
“Maybe you’ve seen me around campus.” Stiles inched to the side to get out of the doorway, since he was blocking it and other angry people were trying to squeeze past him.
“Wait, you’re Stiles! Stiles Stilinski, right? Sheriff’s kid?”
Stiles tried to focus properly on the girl in front of him, utterly confused as to how she could possibly know him. She had long dark hair, which seemed entirely too shiny, what the hell, was she a shampoo commercial model? Her eyes were just light enough to pass for hazel, her skin was flawless, and she was almost the same height as him. She was wearing tight jeans, a graphic tee and a stylish jacket overtop, holding a stack of books in one arm.
“Do I know you?” he asked, a little hesitantly.
“Cora Hale.” She beamed at him. Her smile almost blinded him. “We used to go to school together when I lived in Beacon Hills.”
“Oh.” Stiles remembered Cora from class, of course he did, she was a Hale. But she looked... different. Really different. She’d always been cute before, but she’d gotten stunning with age. She looked like a completely new person, it was kind of scary. “Hey. I heard your family was back in town and that you went here. Didn’t figure I’d run into you on this massive campus.”
“No kidding.” She laughed. “Wow. Look at you. All grown up, huh?” She winked.
Stiles felt very weird all of a sudden. He didn’t know why she was speaking to him, and she seemed to be entirely too friendly. He wasn’t sure what was going on.
Then again, maybe she was lonely. He’d been thinking about it a few days back at the mall with Scott, about how her life had been uprooted constantly, so maybe she was just happy to see a familiar face.
“You too. You look great.”
“Thanks.” She smiled. “You heading to class?”
“Yeah, I’ve got a day full of them.” He sighed. “Here until five.”
“Oh, me too.” She grinned. “Hey, we should grab lunch. Catch up. You free at noon?”
He shook his head. “I have a class. I’m good between one and two though.”
“Awesome. Here, let me grab your number, I’ll text you.” She pulled her phone from her pocket and tapped away on it, evidently opening a new contact for him.
He obediently recited his number and she smiled at him once it was saved, reaffirming that she’d text him later before waving and rushing out of the building, presumably to her own class.
It only occurred to Stiles once he was sitting down that it made no sense for her to have been rushing out of the building. The first classes of the day were all at eight in the morning, so he didn’t understand why she’d been in this building at all.
“Whatever, maybe she was walking someone to class,” he muttered to himself. Her brother Eric would be a freshman by now, so maybe she was just making sure he wasn’t skipping class or something.
Stiles rested his head in his arms and snoozed while he waited for class to start, startling awake when the door shut loudly behind another student. He grumbled to himself, turning his head so he was facing the window and started to settle once more when his eyes snapped back open and his head shot up.
His heart was lodged in his throat, because there, right there, outside his classroom window, sitting on a bench, was the guy. Stalker dude.
And he wasn’t even pretending not to be staring this time, he was just full-on staring right at him! With murder eyes! Literally just sitting on the bench across the open area in front of his building, wearing jeans and the same leather jacket from the mall. His hands were in his pockets and he was staring at him with actual intent. Like he wanted to eat him!
“There’s no way,” Stiles insisted. “He’s not—he can’t be looking at me, he’s too far.”
“What?” his neighbour asked sleepily.
Stiles turned to them and motioned out the window. “Is that guy staring at me?”
His neighbour stood to move a bit closer, looking over Stiles’ head out the window with a frown. “What guy?”
Stiles whipped back around, eyes finding the bench again, but it was empty. There was nobody sitting there, not even another student. It was just resting innocently exactly where it always was, devoid of any humans seated on it, stalkers or otherwise.
“Man, I need more sleep,” Stiles whispered to himself.
Seriously, he had to be going crazy. There was no fucking way some dude was stalking him, he was insane!
“You smell weird,” Scott informed him when they met up between classes to grab a bite. Not lunch, because it wasn’t even eleven yet, but just some food so they both didn’t starve to death waiting for lunch to arrive. Not that Scott would starve since he finished class at noon and thus could eat, but he was also a Werewolf who required a lot more sustenance.
“Thanks, Scott,” he said dryly, moving to stand in the lineup to the little coffeeshop on the edge of the quad. “Real nice. You know I have to sacrifice some parts of my life to help you out, right? Sleep being the biggest one. If my hygiene is lacking, how about you keep that to yourself?”
“No, you don’t smell bad, you smell weird.” Scott leaned forward and began sniffing at him, which earned them a weird look from the guy behind the till.
Stiles shoved his hand into Scott’s face to push him back, laughed nervously at the cashier, and asked for two chocolate chip muffins and the biggest coffee they had with two shots of espresso. It was going to royally fuck with his ADHD but it was that or he slept in class, and his dad was paying a lot of money to get him through school so he refused to sleep in class.
He was still trying to figure out if he’d hallucinated the whole dude watching him from the bench thing. After all, it seemed crazy. Maybe Stiles was imagining it, because he kept seeing him around and then having him disappear without a trace moments later. Stiles didn’t know about any Supernatural beings that could do that. Turn invisible, disappear, teleport, whatever.
But maybe they existed? Maybe the goal of this Supernatural being was for him to go crazy? Maybe that was its food source. Other people’s insanity.
“What?” Stiles turned to Scott. “Yes, why?”
“You gonna take your food then and move?”
Stiles turned back to the cashier, who was holding out his coffee and a bag of muffins. He muttered a thanks while hastily handing over some cash and grabbing the offered items, moving aside so Scott could order his own food.
They were still waiting for it when Scott turned to him. “Jackson’s cursing at you.”
“What?” Stiles turned to look behind himself, confused, but then realized what Scott meant and dug his phone out of his pocket. Sure enough, it was connected to Jackson. “Hey beautiful, how’s your day going?”
“Fuck you, Stilinski. Fix your phone.”
“You could just, you know, hang up when you realize it’s a crotch-dial.”
“And miss out on the boring shit you and McCall talk about?”
“Aw, do you feel left out? I can call you more often if you want, precious.”
“Fix your damn phone.” Jackson hung up and Stiles grinned, shoving it back into his pocket once he was sure it was locked, not that it would do much good.
He waited on Scott to get his order before they both went to find a seat since they still had time before their next class. Stiles peeled the wax paper off the bottom of one of the muffins and took a huge bite out of it, washing it down with coffee. He was hopeful the coffee would keep him awake for his next slew of classes. Maybe he’d take a nap in the Jeep after lunch, try and get at least a little bit of his brain back.
Thinking of lunch reminded him of the fact that he’d bumped into Cora, and when Scott finally settled across from him with a ham and Swiss croissant and a latte, Stiles shoved the food in his mouth into one cheek.
“Hey, I bumped into Cora Hale this morning.”
“Really?” Scott asked, surprised. “That’s cool. How’d that happen?”
“She was coming out of one of my buildings. Literally bashed into me. She recognized me almost right away, which was weird. She looks totally different.”
“You look basically the same,” Scott informed him. “Just with longer hair.”
“Thanks Scott,” Stiles said sarcastically. “You’re the best.”
Scott just shrugged and the two of them chatted about his encounter with one of the famous Hales until they were done their food, Scott trying to steal half of Stiles’ second muffin.
They headed out shortly after, going back to Stiles’ Jeep so he could trade out his books. He didn’t carry them all around all day, that would be stupid when he had a perfectly good vehicle for storing items.
Once they reached the lot, Stiles used his uninjured hand to pull open the passenger-side door so he could trade out his books, and jumped when Scott let out a snarl from behind him and wrenched him back so hard his shoulder burned. Scott’s grip was tight around his upper arm, almost cutting off circulation, and his shoulder ached from the rough treatment.
“What the hell?” Stiles demanded.
Then he got a look at Scott’s face.
He’d almost wolfed out, managing to stop himself, but only just. His eyes were gold, his teeth had lengthened into fangs, and he was still snarling like something dangerous was threatening Stiles.
“What?” Stiles demanded, looking into his Jeep from behind Scott. He didn’t see anything. The front was empty, and while he couldn’t see the entire back, he was pretty sure nothing could fit back there with the mess he had going on in the back seat.
“Something was in your Jeep.”
Stiles’ stomach dropped. “What? What was it?”
“I don’t know,” Scott insisted, moving a step closer and scenting the air. “I can’t—it’s a weird scent. Like in the forest yesterday.”
Stiles felt like he was going to be sick. “The thing that killed the monster?”
“Yeah.” Scott finally let him go, but kept a hand on his arm to ensure he stayed back, inching closer to the Jeep and looking into the front, like he expected to find something dangerous in there. “I can’t... it’s just weird. Like I should be able to smell what this thing is, but I can’t. It’s like it can block my senses somehow. I can smell that it was here, but I can’t tell what it is, or even who it is.”
Stiles thought back to the stalker. Or the thing he was now positive was a stalker. “I have to tell you something,” he blurted out.
Scott turned to him, frowning in confusion, his eyes slowly returning to normal. “What?”
“Okay,” Stiles said, letting out an awkward laugh. “So lately, I’ve noticed there’s this uh, guy? This like, really hot but also murderous looking dude kind of always around? Like, I noticed him every now and then around town, but then I started seeing him... not around town. Like when we went to see Captain Marvel, and last night by the forest, and... a few hours ago... here on campus.”
“What?” Scott asked, straightening instantly and looking concerned. “Are you—Is someone following you?”
“I mean, maybe?” Stiles threw his hands up, almost upending the remainder of his coffee on his head. “I don’t really know! I just... he’s been around and I’m... I don’t know. Maybe I’m hallucinating.”
Scott turned back to the Jeep, looking unhappy. He moved further into it, sniffing quite obviously. Stiles looked around to make sure no one was looking, because Scott was being super weird and he didn’t need people to wonder what the fuck he was doing.
“I don’t smell anything that’s cause for concern, Jeep-wise,” Scott said, moving back. “I don’t think whoever this was did anything. It smells like they just... sat in the Jeep. In your seat.”
“That’s cause for concern,” Stiles insisted dryly.
“You know what I mean,” Scott insisted, scowling at him. “Did you tell your dad?”
“What am I supposed to say?” Stiles asked, feeling more tired than he had five minutes ago. He moved past Scott to pull his books from the passenger seat, switching them out with the books currently in his messenger bag, coffee still held tightly in one hand, making his injured fingers ache. “‘Hey dad, so this creepy guy’s been following me around, but he might be some Supernatural creature so I don’t know that you’d ever catch up to him. Can you maybe put out an APB?’”
“Well when you say it like that, it sounds stupid,” Scott muttered.
“Exactly.” Stiles slammed the door, making sure the Jeep was locked up tight—not that it seemed to help the first time. He was hopeful his Jeep wouldn’t have any other uninvited guests in it, but he honestly wasn’t sure.
“Well, for now, at least it looks like he isn’t interested in hurting you,” Scott said while they both headed back towards their next class, rubbing the back of his head. “I know it’s not exactly comforting, given he’s still following you around, but at least you’re not in any immediate danger of your spleen getting eaten or anything.”
“Thanks, Scott,” Stiles said dryly. “Real comforting.”
“Stiles,” Scott forced him to stop, giving him an intense look. Scott was good at intense looks when he thought Stiles wasn’t taking him seriously. “I mean it. This isn’t good, and we’re definitely going to keep a close eye on you until we figure out who, and more importantly, what this guy is, but to me, I’m at least a little comforted knowing that someone isn’t out to get my best friend in a malicious way.”
“We don’t know that,” Stiles insisted.
Scott gave him a look. “Stiles, if this guy is Supernatural, and he wanted to hurt you, I’m pretty sure he would have already.”
A fair point, but not something Stiles was happy to admit, so he just grumbled under his breath and they started walking again. When they reached the point in their walk where they had to split up, Scott ended up tagging along with Stiles, walking him all the way to his class while looking around alertly and scenting the air.
It was sweet, but also kind of embarrassing. Stiles was a big boy, wore big boy pants and everything. Sure, he was freaked out, but he still didn’t even know if the car break-in and the dude watching him were the same person.
What if the dude watching him was a Hunter, like Stiles had already suspected, and maybe something else was after Stiles. What if the thing that had broken into his car wasn’t hot angry dude, but hot angry dude knew what the thing was and was keeping an eye on Stiles to get to the thing that was actually after him? There were so many variables! This could mean anything!
Stiles could be hallucinating, too! That was also a possibility! He was extremely sleep-deprived, it was entirely possible this whole day was nothing more than one giant hallucination. Maybe he was actually still sitting at his desk, paper open on his computer and fingers hovering frozen over the keyboard. Who knew? Not Stiles!
Scott left him at the door of his next class with instructions to text him repeatedly throughout the day. At least his friend seemed to believe him, and while he didn’t seem overly concerned in his words, his actions suggested he was extremely worried. After all, it would figure that if anything evil and Supernatural was coming for the pack, it’d come for the human.
Yay team human!
Stiles fell into a seat near the back of the class closest to the door, not wanting to grab any more window seats. He picked at the bandages on his fingers for a majority of class, the content they were going over right then stuff he already knew fairly well.
He had to text Scott every time he went from one class to another, which he didn’t mind, because it was at least keeping him awake.
Halfway through his noon class, his phone buzzed and he snuck it out of his pocket, only doing so since he was in a large lecture hall as opposed to a smaller classroom. It was from an unknown number, but the words suggested it was Cora, so he added her contact into his phone before replying.
it was awesome seeing you this morning!
its been soooooo long
we still good for lunch? i can grab us a table somewhere if you wanna meet me
Hey Cora! Sure, I’m still down :)
Just let me know where you’re at and I’ll meet you there.
She said she’d look around to see what wasn’t overly packed and that she’d text him when she found a place. Stiles took the opportunity to text Scott to let him know he was grabbing lunch with Cora.
His friend told him to be careful—bless him—and that he’d see if Jackson could come by later since Scott had work and he couldn’t wait on him. Stiles told him it was fine, and that he’d just keep in touch to make sure Scott knew he was okay.
The guy had been following him around for at least a few weeks by now, so if he hadn’t done anything yet, he probably wouldn’t happen to come at him today.
Scott wasn’t happy about it, but it sounded like he only accepted it because Jackson was busy with something for his dad and couldn’t come out. Lydia likely wouldn’t be much good—no offense, but screaming loudly and predicting death wasn’t useful in a battle of fists—and Kira was still out of town with her parents.
Stiles was sure he’d be fine. He was on a busy campus, as long as he didn’t end up somewhere secluded, he would be okay.
When he left class, Cora had sent him a text message with her location and Stiles went to meet her. They ended up in a small Indian fast-food joint Stiles had never had time to check out before. He grinned and waved at Cora when he entered, thrilled about the new place to eat, and fell down across from her.
“Hey. You been waiting long?”
“About twenty minutes, but it’s all good.” She motioned the board. “I already know what I want, so you can go up and figure out your order first.”
“What do you want, I’ll get it for you.”
“No, it’s fine,” she insisted, waving one hand.
“No, really. It’s on me. What do you want?”
She smiled at him and asked for a paneer tikka dish. Stiles nodded and went to the front, perusing the menu while he waited in line. There was a fucking butter chicken wrap, and the second his eyes found that, he knew that was what he was going to get.
Reaching the front, he put in their orders, getting two waters in the process, and was handed a piece of paper with a number printed on it. He went back to the table with it, leaving it between himself and Cora so that one of them would hopefully hear it, and set their waters down in front of each of them.
“It’s so weird seeing you,” Cora admitted with a small laugh. “It’s been such a long time.”
“Yeah.” Stiles raked a hand through his hair. “Freshman year of high school. Seems like forever ago.” He let out a laugh.
“Yeah. I mean, Laura and Derek have both long since graduated university, Eric’s in his first year, and Merrak’s halfway through sophomore year of high school.” She shook her head. “Last time I saw you, you were still getting shoved into lockers by Jackson Whittemore.”
Stiles let out a loud laugh at that, shaking his head. “The crazy thing about that is that Jackson and I are actually really good friends now.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “Really?”
“Yeah. It’s kind of a long story, but we bonded in high school. Once I got over Lydia and he found out he was into dudes, things kind of mellowed out between us. We hang out a lot, actually. He’s not a bad guy.” Stiles shrugged.
“What about your other friend? The one you were attached to at the hip. What was his name? Steve?”
“Scott?” Stiles found it interesting she remembered his name but not Scott’s. Then again, Stiles was the sheriff’s son, so that might’ve been why. “Yeah, we’re still bros. He goes here too, actually. I saw him a few hours ago. We should grab lunch with him sometime, I’m sure he’d be interested in getting to know you.”
“Sure.” She smiled at him, but Stiles felt like she wasn’t really into that. He wondered if he’d misread this outing and this was meant to be a date. Which would be weird, considering they hadn’t seen each other in years and to suddenly ask him out on a date upon bumping into him for the first time in forever seemed a little... strange.
Their number was called then and before Stiles could stand, Cora waved him back down and said she’d get it, hurrying to the counter and grabbing the tray. She returned with it and turned it sideways so that each of their meals was facing the correct person, Stiles grabbing at his wrap and undoing the foil around it with interest. He’d never had a butter chicken wrap, and was very intrigued. The ‘wrap’ itself was naan bread, and it looked like there was the curry and some rice inside the wrap. This was going to be good, he could feel it in his bones.
“So, Stiles Stilinski, tell me about the past few years. What have you been up to? Anything of interest to share? Sports teams, achievements, milestones, girlfriends?”
He was really starting to wonder about Cora’s intentions with her last question. “Nothing special, really. Did lacrosse throughout high school, but never made first line. Graduated salutatorian behind Lydia, of course. Then I mean, just came here and now I’m looking into a degree in criminology. Thinking about trying to snag a spot at the precinct, work with my dad except in the background. He’d never let me be on the front lines as long as he’s in office.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “He worries too much. Like anything truly dangerous happens in Beacon Hills.”
Cora gave him an interested look at that, and he couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t like she knew he went out at night to fight Supernatural beings that were intent on making his little town their home.
He just smiled awkwardly at her look and shoved another bite of food in his mouth before motioning her so she could provide some details on her life.
She spoke about how they’d moved off to New York when Derek got accepted into NYU, the whole family picking up and following him across the country. She’d spent her first two years of university going there, as well, but once Derek graduated and finished a year of additional schooling in another field, he wanted to move back home so they packed up and came back.
Stiles found it interesting that everything seemed to be about Derek. They’d left Beacon Hills when he’d graduated high school, and now that he was done university, they were all back again because he’d wanted to return. Stiles knew the family owned a large portion of the town, so they’d have made their way back eventually, but it was weird that everything was about Derek.
It made him wonder if this family was super old fashioned and the eldest son was the most important person in the family or something. Cora didn’t seem to be annoyed about it though, she spoke about Derek the same way she did her older sister Laura or her two younger brothers. They were a close family, and she didn’t seem to care either way where they lived as long as they were together.
It was all very weird, in Stiles’ opinion. Then again, he was an only child, so what did he know?
“Speaking of my brother,” she muttered, pulling her phone out, “I need to remind him to come and get me at five.”
“You don’t have a car?” Stiles asked, surprised. Their family was rich, he’d have thought all of them would have their own vehicles.
“No,” she muttered. “I got a lot of speeding tickets in New York, and almost crashed one of dad’s BMWs last year. My parents revoked my use of vehicles for a year so I’m still paying for that. Inconvenient when school is so damn far.”
“Well hey, you’re off at five, I’m off at five, I can give you a ride back.” Stiles thumbed over his shoulder. “No point in making anyone come out and get you when we’re both going the same way.”
“Are you sure?” She beamed at him. “That would be so awesome! You’re much better company than my grumpy brothers. Seriously, I think Laura and I got all the charisma in the family, all the boys are so ugh. Well, Eric’s actually pretty okay, but Derek’s so grumpy all the time and Merrak is the angriest shit ever.” She rolled her eyes, then grinned. “If you don’t mind, that would be amazing.”
“Sure, no problem. We’re heading the same way anyway.” Stiles smiled. “Just meet me at the coffeeshop on the corner of Grandview after your last class and I’ll show you where I’m parked.”
“You are a lifesaver!” She reached across the table and clutched his hand, smiling brightly. “Thank you so much!”
She started texting on her phone, letting her brother know she had a ride, then the two of them got their garbage thrown out and wandered back out into the cooling air of approaching spring, heading for their next classes of the day.
“So you never did answer my question,” Cora informed him, poking him lightly in the arm.
“Girlfriends?” She paused and gave him a feral grin. “Boyfriends?”
Stiles shook his head. “Neither. I had the misfortune of being friends with both Jackson and Scott in high school. Scott really filled out in sophomore year.” Thanks to being a Werewolf, he added silently. “Most people looked right through me to them, so I spent the majority of my high school life just listening to Jackson’s constant stories about how much sex he had, and Scott’s woes of too many women throwing themselves at him, and him only having the two hands.” He rolled his eyes.
“Their loss. You turned out really cute.” She poked his cheek this time.
“Thanks,” Stiles said, surprised and a little pleased. “You turned out pretty great yourself. But you’ve always been pretty, so I’m not surprised.”
Cora laughed and shoved him lightly. He stumbled but regained his footing, the two of them joking and laughing on their way to their next classes. Stiles didn’t really know why Cora was being so nice to him, or why she was acting like they were old friends who’d lost touch for a few years and were reacquainting themselves with each other, but he really liked it. It was nice having a normal friend, for once.
“Well, I’m this way.” She stopped and motioned behind herself. “I’ll see you at five?”
“See you at five,” Stiles agreed with a wave.
They headed off in different directions, Stiles feeling pretty good about the rest of his day. He didn’t think about the Supernatural stalker once for the rest of his classes, and when he headed to the coffeeshop to meet Cora at five, he was actually whistling. It was just really nice to have another friend who wasn’t involved in the weird Supernatural bullshit that his life had turned into.
He waved at her when he spotted her and she moved to meet him on the sidewalk, the two of them heading for the parking lot a little ways past the quad. When the Jeep was finally in sight, Cora let out a small laugh.
“Holy shit, you still have that thing?” she demanded.
Stiles gave her a weird look, because he hadn’t had his license yet the last time he’d seen her. “How do you know about Roscoe?”
“Roscoe?” she asked with a small smile. “Cute. You’re adorable.” She stepped off the green and onto the asphalt, moving towards the vehicle. “Everyone knows about your Jeep. It was sitting in your driveway for years, we all knew it was going to be the car you ended up driving when you got your license. I can’t believe it’s still running.”
“She’s a tough old thing,” Stiles insisted, patting the hood on his way around to the driver’s side. He unlocked the door and climbed in, then reached over to unlock Cora’s.
As soon as the door opened, she froze, tensing slightly before muttering, “Come on, moron, really?”
“What?” Stiles asked, barely having heard her.
Her head shot up, as if not realizing she’d spoken aloud, and she just smiled before climbing in, shutting the door loudly behind her and dumping her bag on the floor at her feet, half-crushing Stiles’ own books.
“Oh nothing. It’s surprisingly roomy in here, I like it.”
“Thanks,” Stiles said uncertainly. He didn’t know what to make of her previous comment, but he tried not to dwell on it.
The drive home was comfortable, and Cora was actually a lot of fun. She said weird things sometimes, but Stiles knew he was also fairly weird so he tried to take it all in stride.
She had to give him directions to her place once they were back in town, since she lived out in the middle of the Preserve. It was weird, and he asked if she ever got nervous living in the middle of nowhere with no neighbours. She insisted that was the best part about it, and then made jokes about how no one could hear all the victims screaming.
Stiles had only laughed half-seriously. The other half was somewhat awkward, because he hadn’t ever thought of that and now a part of him was seriously wondering about the Hale family before remembering he was overly paranoid right now.
He slowed at the end of the long dirt road that led up to a gorgeous fucking mansion surrounded by trees with a wrap-around porch, a huge garage, and various vehicles littering the paved front area of the house.
“That’s my car,” Cora informed him, pointing out a sleek 2018 metallic dark green Mustang. It was fucking stunning, and sitting beside an equally gorgeous black Camaro. It looked to be an older model, but still fucking gorgeous and Stiles felt very embarrassed of his Jeep right then.
“Nice ride,” Stiles said, a little subdued.
“Thanks. It sucks on gas though, and it’s small as shit. It just looks pretty, but I’d never want to take it on a long trip. I actually think your Jeep is better, personally.” She punched him in the shoulder with a grin. “So... what’s your schedule like?”
“What?” Stiles asked, still staring at the multitude of gorgeous cars.
“You know, your schedule. Wednesdays sound like we’re about the same, and I was thinking—I mean, obviously, no pressure, but I was kind of hoping maybe I could catch rides to and from school with you. It’s more fun driving in with you, and I can pay for gas, and maybe bring breakfast and stuff as payment.” She offered him another smile. “Please?”
“Oh.” He was startled by the request, because he honestly hadn’t realized she enjoyed his company. Stiles liked her a lot, she was interesting, if a little weird. But he was totally on board with this new friendship of theirs. “Sure! I mean, I actually scheduled it so I only do Monday, Wednesday and Friday, eight to five.”
“Shit!” Cora punched him in the arm. It hurt. A lot. Wow. “Me too! That’s awesome! Do you mind? I mean, I shouldn’t have just blurted it out like that, sorry, but I just figured if we have the same schedule, it’d be fun. I like hanging with you, and it saves my family from having to drive two hours out of their way.”
“Yeah, no, I’m down with that. Sure.” Stiles offered her a smile, rubbing at his arm. “I usually leave my house around quarter after six, so I figure if I have to come and get you, maybe I can leave home at six? And meet you here at quarter after?”
“Sounds perfect.” She punched him again, a little less violently this time. “I’ll bring breakfast on Friday, so don’t worry about grabbing anything. See you then?”
“Sure, see you then.”
She smiled, exited the Jeep, grabbed her bag, then waved before slamming the door. He watched her head to her house and when she disappeared through the door, he started to back out of the drive when he noticed movement in one of the upper windows.
He couldn’t see properly with the sun reflecting off the glass, but it kind of looked like someone was watching him from the second floor. He shrugged it off, figuring it was one of her siblings wondering about the person who’d driven their sister home.
Stiles just backed out of the drive, turned around when he had space to, and headed home, rather pleased with this new friendship that had kind of fallen into his lap.
Stiles was actually quite annoyed when he was startled awake, because it was the first time in a long time where he was actually managing to sleep. Nothing was out to kill them, it was the weekend, and he had plans to sleep until he didn’t know what being awake felt like anymore.
But, unfortunately for him, he’d been having a nightmare and when he was thrown off the end of a ravine by some goblins—seriously? Lamest way to die—he jerked awake just as his falling dream body was about to hit the ground.
Groaning and rubbing at his face, he rolled onto his back and let out a loud whine. His heart was pounding in his chest, he could feel sweat sticking his hair and shirt to his skin, and now he was wide awake from the adrenaline. It was dumb that dreams still somehow produced adrenaline.
He was never getting back to sleep, now.
Dragging his hands down his face, he sighed and started to roll back onto his side when he froze. His eyes had just caught sight of a shadow in the corner of his room. A distinctly human-shaped shadow.
Stiles stared at it, positive he was imagining things, because there was no way there was someone just lurking about in the corner of his room, that was insane. But still, just in case, he kept his gaze locked on the shadow while one hand slowly reached out towards his nightstand. He patted around for his phone, finally finding it, and unplugged it one-handed.
Bringing his phone back towards his face, he kept both the shadow and his phone in his line of sight, swiped the bottom of the screen to bring up the menu, and stabbed at the flashlight function, beam aimed right into the corner.
Where the shadow was illuminated and showed an actual physical person.
“What the fuck!” Stiles shouted, leaping to his feet on his bed and grabbing urgently for his bat. His hand closed around it and he raised it over his head, twisting back towards the shadow, except it was gone.
His heart was in his throat, and he heard his blinds slap against his window, making him shout again and turn in that direction.
His window was wide open, and when he jumped off the bed and hurried to it, he could see a dark figure running off down the driveway and disappearing into the darkness of the night.
Stiles’ hands shook while he kept the bat raised over his head for a few seconds. Then he hastily slammed the window shut and rushed for his light, slapping his hand against the switch, illuminating his room. He hurried to check his closet and under his bed, heart pounding painfully in his throat, and then went back for his phone, which he’d dropped in his haste to get his bat.
His dad was obviously at work, evidenced by his lack of appearance at Stiles’ shouting and the missing cruiser on the street, but Stiles wasn’t going to call him, anyway. He started to call Jackson, then realized he didn’t know what was going on yet so he dialled another number and held the phone at his ear, feeling it bump against his skin since his hand was still shaking from the adrenaline.
“Do you know what ti—“
“He was in my room!” Stiles shouted into the phone.
“What?” Scott asked sleepily. “Who was in your room?”
“The dude! The-the murder face dude! The guy following me! He was in my room, Scott! He was watching me sleep! Who does that?!”
“I’m coming over,” Scott said, sounding instantly alert.
The line went dead and Stiles gripped his phone tightly in one hand, bat still held in the other. He didn’t understand. The guy had been right there, why hadn’t he done something? Why was he just standing there? He obviously knew Stiles was awake and had seen him, he’d been staring right at him. But he’d just stayed perfectly motionless, like he was hoping Stiles wouldn’t completely lose his shit at the sight of him lurking in his room.
Why was he lurking in his room?! Why was he following him?! Who was he?! Stiles needed answers, this was insane!
He really didn’t understand what was going on. This wasn’t normal. He knew for sure this guy was Supernatural now, but he was following him around and sneaking into his bedroom, and this all felt very movie-esque to him.
Stiles froze at the realization, eyes widening. Oh God, was he being stalked by a sparkly Vampire?! Wasn’t this what Edward Cullen had been doing to Bella Swan in Twilight?! She woke up to him lurking in her room, he followed her around giving her ‘I want to eat you’ looks, he was basically a stalker. Oh God, Stiles had an Edward Cullen!
He screamed and swung the bat wildly, Scott catching it in one hand inches from his face, giving Stiles a concerned look.
“I am not Bella Swan, Scott! Do I look like Bella Swan to you?!” he demanded the moment he realized it was his friend.
Scott hesitated, staring down at Stiles with concern, still wearing his pyjamas and looking exhausted. “Are you–are you asking me if you look like Kristen Stewart?”
Stiles balked. “No! Shut up, Scott!”
He let go of the bat, Scott setting it down on the bed beside Stiles and turning to scowl at the corner the creepy murder eyes dude had been standing in. He moved over to it, inhaling deeply and grumbling under his breath while Stiles rubbed at his face.
When he dragged his hands down his cheeks, he noticed his window was open again, suggesting that was how Scott had entered his room. He would need to start locking that. Maybe nail it shut, or put a piece of wood in the slider so that no one could push it open. He did not want any more uninvited guests in the middle of the night!
“It’s the same scent as your Jeep,” Scott informed him with a frown, moving back to the bed. “What happened?”
“I literally woke up and saw him in the corner,” Stiles said, motioning it wildly. “He was just-just standing there! Watching me sleep! Like a creepy creeper! Who does that, Scott? Who?!”
“Did he touch you?”
“What?” Stiles demanded.
“The guy, did he—I don’t know, do you feel okay? What if he’s some kind of creature that feeds off human fear or something?”
Stiles was sometimes very sad to learn how ill-informed the leader of his little pack was. “No, Scott. He isn’t a Baku or a Mare. They do not look like hot, murderous men.”
“What the hell is a Baku?” Scott asked with a frown.
“Something that eats nightmares. My point, Scotty, is that he wasn’t... I don’t know what he was doing here, but he didn’t... I mean, I don’t even know how long he was here before I woke up. He could’ve been here for hours. So what is his deal?!” He grabbed the front of Scott’s shirt and wrenched him down. “I cannot live with this anxiety, Scott! He either has to do something to me or leave me alone, the wait is killing me!”
“I think we should tell your dad,” he insisted quietly.
“We can’t tell my dad! How is my dad going to put out a warrant for his arrest?!” Stiles flailed. “‘Officers, be on the lookout for some hot dude sneaking into my son’s room who manages to disappear into thin air’?!”
“What does he look like?” Scott asked, sitting on the bed beside Stiles. “We can try and track him down, see what his deal is. Maybe talk to Argent about him.”
Stiles raked an agitated hand through his hair and tried to describe the guy as best he could. It was hard, mostly because every time he blinked he could see the guy’s murderous gaze locked on him. He didn’t know what he wanted, but it was terrifying. The man looked at him like he wanted to eat him, and it was really making Stiles think about Twilight.
His life was enough like a bad horror movie, he really didn’t need to add a love story with sparkly Vampires to the mix. No thank you! No thank you!
“This is insane,” Stiles insisted. “This is utterly and completely insane. I swear, I’m going to murder someone. I am not Bella Swan! But apparently, I have this dude stalking me.” He turned to grab at Scott’s arm, giving him a shake. “He’s stalking me, Scott! Sneaking into my bedroom! And he looks at me like he wants to eat me! Edward was like that with Bella! And he’s Supernatural! Did I mention he’s Supernatural?” he demanded, then answered before Scott could say anything. “He is! One-hundred percent Supernatural! And, Bella’s dad? You know what he is? Sheriff of a small town. What’s my dad, Scotty? Huh? What is he? Sheriff of a small town!”
“Beacon Hills isn’t really that small,” Scott offered.
Stiles turned to give him an incredulous look. “Oh my God, Scott, that’s what you focussed on?! Did you not hear anything I said?!”
“I did,” Scott insisted. “How do you even know so much about Twilight?”
Stiles stared at him, unable to believe the words coming out of his mouth. “Shut up, Scott!” He buried his face in his hands, letting out a slow breath. This was the worst.
Scott wrapped an arm around him and pulled him close, resting his cheek against Stiles’ head. “If you won’t tell your dad, we at least have to tell the rest of the pack. I’ll stay with you tonight, but we need to figure this out. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Me neither,” Stiles muttered, rubbing at his face and then letting out a slow breath.
He stood and went to slam his window shut, locking it and balancing a textbook above the window so that it wouldn’t open all the way if someone managed to unlock it from the outside.
Returning to his bed, he got comfortable under the covers while Scott kicked his shoes off and joined him.
Years ago, sharing a bed would’ve been weird with anyone other than Scott, but given his new Supernatural life, Stiles had quickly learned to get over it. Especially since he ended up in bed with Jackson a lot. Purely platonic, of course, but still. He found sharing with his packmates somewhat comforting now, if he was honest.
“Sorry if I end up spooning with you, I’m used to sleeping in the same bed as Kira,” Scott said.
“It’s fine, as long as your hands don’t wander.” Stiles rolled onto his side, facing away from Scott, and felt his anxiety skyrocketing.
He had no idea what the fuck was going on, all he knew was he didn’t like it.
Stiles was not Bella Swan!
He didn’t even like Twilight!
“Are you okay? You seem kind of... off.”
“I’m fine,” Stiles lied, eyes skirting to the rearview mirror every now and then, like he thought someone was following him. To be fair, someone could be following him. He didn’t know, because he had no idea who the dude was or what he wanted, and he was probably going to lose his mind soon.
He’d spent the whole weekend at Scott’s place after waking up on Friday night or Saturday morning—depending on how people looked at it—and found the dude in his bedroom. He didn’t want to risk it, and Scott wasn’t willing to take any chances.
This morning had been a little hectic considering Stiles had been forced to rush home to change, grab his books, and pick up Cora. He’d spent entirely too long looking for his favourite red hoodie though, and hadn’t ended up finding it. He figured his dad had shoved it in the wash without telling him, he’d find it later. He had more important things to worry about.
Thankfully, Kira was back today, so they all had plans to meet up after Stiles was done class so they could discuss their options and see what they could do to figure out who and what this guy was. And what he wanted, apart from Stiles. And why he wanted Stiles. God, was it because he was a virgin? Stiles needed to get laid, stat. Maybe he was a virgin sacrifice and the dude was watching him to make sure he didn’t lose his virginity. After all, how many twenty-one year olds going to university hadn’t gotten laid yet? Stiles was willing to bet not many!
He jumped and looked over at Cora, who was watching him with concern, her breakfast burrito half-eaten in one hand.
“What’s going on? Why are you acting so jumpy?”
“Nothing, I’m fine. I’m fine.” He waved one hand at her absently, then focussed on the road again. His own breakfast burrito was sitting uneaten in his lap, because he couldn’t work up the appetite to eat it.
He’d spent all weekend oscillating between insisting he wasn’t Bella Swan and completely freaking out over the fact that he sort of kind of was Bella Swan. Except without the concrete knowledge that his Edward Cullen wasn’t out to get him in a “you’re a tasty human” way.
Cora said nothing, even though he knew she could tell he was lying. She just pulled her phone out and texted someone for the next twenty minutes. They’d just passed the halfway mark to school when she let out an explosive sigh.
“Really? Come on, man,” she muttered, stabbing angrily at her phone.
“Everything okay?” he asked hesitantly. He figured she had every right to insist everything was fine, given his obvious lies earlier, but surprisingly, she wasn’t like that.
“My brother just—did something really dumb over the weekend,” she said with a grunt, continuing to text. “So I am now tattling on him to Laura. So she can tell my mom.”
“That’s kind of mean, isn’t it?”
“You don’t have siblings, this is basically what we do. Ruin each other’s lives.” She turned to offer him a small smile then went back to texting. Her phone rang moments later and when she answered it, the angry voice on the other end was loud enough that Stiles could hear it.
“Are you fucking serious?!”
“Yup,” Cora sighed. “He’s a moron, are you surprised?”
“He is so fucking stupid!”
“Yup,” Cora said again. “By the way, I’m in the car right now with Stiles, so this should probably wait for later.”
The buzzing on the other end quieted down, and Stiles figured he wasn’t supposed to hear the conversation so the girl—probably Laura—had lowered her voice.
“Not great. Definitely not great. We’ll chat later, yeah? Punch him in the head for me, okay?”
There was a short affirmation on the other end, then Cora hung up and sighed, rubbing at her face.
“Is your brother in trouble?” Stiles asked uncertainly.
“Oh, he will be,” she said with a dangerous smile. “He’s just—it’s complicated. I’ll tell you about it sometime.”
“Okay. Which brother, anyway?”
“The dumb one,” she replied, which wasn’t really an answer. “Speaking of dumb brothers, that is the say the only one I have who isn’t, Eric apparently has a group thing today that finishes around six. If I pay for dinner, are you okay sticking around for an hour and driving both of us home?”
“Oh,” Stiles said, a little startled. He had the pack meeting tonight after class, they were supposed to meet up around seven because Stiles would be home by then. But Cora looked so hopeful and he didn’t really know what to do.
“It’s cool if you can’t, Laura will come and pick him up, I just figured—“
“No, no, it’s fine. I’ll uh, I’ll just talk to Scott later. We were meant to hang out tonight, but I’m sure we can push it back by an hour.”
He was positive one hour wasn’t going to kill him, after all. He could just tell Scott he would be a little late, and they could start the meeting without him. It wasn’t like he had to be there for them to talk about the weird dude following him around.
“Are you sure? It’s really okay.”
“No, it’s fine.” He waved one hand at her again. “It’d be nice to see him again. Last time I saw him was in middle school. Poor guy always got bullied. Does he still only wear blue, or did he grow out of that phase?”
Cora let out a bark of laughter at that, insisting she couldn’t believe he remembered that, and confirmed he was still very much continuing to wear blue because all other colours were inferior. Stiles just laughed and they started talking about her family some more for the other half of their drive.
Laura had succeeded in getting a job at the hospital in Beacon Hills almost immediately after they’d moved back. She worked the exact opposite hours of Scott’s mother, but they always spoke during shifts changes. Her brother Derek was a cop at the precinct, working for his dad and partnered with Parrish, which interested Stiles and he figured he should drop in and introduce himself. Merrak was being an asshole in high school right now, which she said wasn’t different from normal, but he was a little worse than they were all used to because he was pissed about having moved halfway through sophomore year. Apparently he was also a ladykiller and Cora anticipated a lot of broken hearts before the end of the school year since Merrak had no interest in dating.
Surprisingly none of the Hale siblings were tied down. Laura was in her mid-twenties but hadn’t dated in years, Derek apparently had his eye on someone but wasn’t in the right headspace to move forward, and Cora herself said she wasn’t sure her romantic endeavours were going to pan out. Eric was a bookworm who was too focussed on school to realize one of the girls he was tutoring was crushing on him, and Merrak thought he was too good for anyone who showed him any interest. And so, they were all single.
Which was crazy to Stiles, because if the rest of the Hale siblings looked as attractive as Cora did, that was just criminal.
When they arrived at the school, they headed to class together, waving goodbye to one another when they split at their first class. Stiles met up with Scott around ten-thirty for their usual morning snack—wherein he told him about the delay in their meeting that night, and Scott informed him he smelled weird—and then he met up with Cora at lunch.
They went back to the Jeep during that break to clear off one half of the back seat, since Stiles had things back there from years past, and he saw Cora let out a deep, frustrated sigh as soon as he opened the door. He wondered if she was annoyed about the mess, but she didn’t seem to mind helping him move everything to one half of the back. If anything, she found it entertaining, pulling random things out and asking him why he even had them. Which he couldn’t answer because he probably should’ve tossed half the stuff away ages ago.
After that was done, they headed back to class to finish off their days. They met up again after they were done to grab a bite to eat a little ways off campus, and when Cora’s brother texted them, she paid for dinner—as promised, despite Stiles’ insistence that she didn’t have to—and they headed back to campus to pick him up.
When Stiles eased to the curb where Eric Hale was waiting, he felt like he was probably right about how attractive all the Hales were. He had the same dark hair as his sister, buzzed short on the sides and styled on top of his head kind of like a mohawk but not quite, with striking green eyes and a muscular build. He eyed Stiles with interest while he waited for the Jeep to stop, then pulled open the back door and climbed in.
He let out a scoff and rolled his eyes the second he did so. “Come on, really?”
“Right?” Cora demanded, turning to her brother. “Seriously.”
“Moron,” Eric said.
“Did I miss something?” Stiles asked slowly.
“No, sorry. Not you.” Eric thrust one hand between the two front seats. “Eric Hale. You must be Stiles.”
“Hey.” Stiles awkwardly shook his hand, the angle weird given how they were seated, but he managed it.
“Thanks for the ride home. Sorry if Cora bullied you into it, I told her I could ask Laura to come and pick me up.”
“It’s okay, no problem.” Stiles eased away from the curb and turned around so they could begin the long trek home.
He expected there to be some kind of chatter between the two siblings, but surprisingly Eric spent a majority of the drive back to Beacon Hills peppering Stiles with questions, everything from his favourite colour to the last time he’d gone out to dinner with someone in a date-like capacity.
It was kind of weird, and made him feel like he was being interrogated. It was very reminiscent of his first meal with Cora, and he wondered why the Hales seemed so interested in his personal life. He didn’t mind, it was just weird.
When they finally pulled up to the Hale house, something scraping up underneath the Jeep, it was relatively dark out, the entire area illuminated only by the bright lights of the large house. Stiles felt like he’d really hate living all the way out here, but Cora and Eric didn’t seem to mind.
“Thanks again for doing this, Stiles,” Cora said with a smile, unbuckling her seatbelt.
“Yeah, thanks for the ride.” Eric patted Stiles’ shoulder. “Hope to see you again soon.”
“You too,” Stiles said, a little uncertainly. He didn’t know what other possible questions Eric could have for him that would have him looking forward to another encounter.
The second Eric was out of the car, the door shut behind him, he called out to the house.
“Mom! You need to talk to Derek again!” He disappeared through the front door with a slam and Cora rolled her eyes.
“What did Derek do?” Stiles asked uncertainly. “Is he the one you’re all tattling on all the time?”
“It’s fun to tattle on him.” Cora winked. “He’s the golden boy, so we like to make his life miserable.”
“Siblings sound great, so sad I missed out on that,” Stiles said sarcastically.
Cora laughed and shoved him, said she’d text him later, then exited the Jeep. Stiles waited for her to enter the house, waving back at her when she did so from the porch, and watched the door close behind her.
He backed up as usual, turning around and jolted slightly when his car did something weird. He paused, foot on the brake, wondering what had just happened. He hesitantly eased up on the brake and turned the wheel, but everything seemed all right so he shrugged it off and pulled back onto the dirt road leading away from the Hale house.
When he reached the main road once more, he turned onto it, the wheel clicking loudly, making him take the turn wide. He scrambled to readjust, getting back on the right side of the road and staring down at the wheel.
“What’s going on?” he muttered, easing the wheel lightly from side to side, but it seemed fine, the car moving with the action. He figured it was probably time for another checkup.
Trying to keep the car at a decent speed in case it happened again, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and hit Scott’s name, keeping it down low and on speaker so he wouldn’t get in trouble if he passed a cop.
“Hey, you on your way?”
“Yeah, I just dropped Cora off. Should be there in about ten minutes.” Stiles rounded the corner at the end of the road and let out a shout, dropping his phone, when the wheel didn’t follow through on the action and almost had him drive head-first into a tree. He managed to correct so he didn’t end up going over the guardrail and down a huge drop on the other side, but once he was back on the road, the wheel wouldn’t cooperate. It was like it wasn’t connected to the undercarriage anymore.
“Stiles? Stiles, what’s going on? Hey!”
He ignored Scott, because he was on the wrong side of the road, and he slowly looked up when he heard a loud honk.
There was a semi coming towards him. It looked like it was trying to ease on the brakes, but it wasn’t going to stop in time.
“Shit!” he repeated heatedly, slamming on the brakes. He didn’t want to leave the car, but if the semi had to plow through it, he’d rather not be in it while it did so.
He reached hastily for his seatbelt, trying to get his fingers to cooperate while the semi blared its horn again, sounding dangerously close.
“Fuck, shit, come on!”
He couldn’t get his seatbelt off. He couldn’t get his fucking seatbelt off!
Stiles looked through the windshield at the semi barrelling towards him, heart in his throat.
Stiles’ head smashed into the side window, the glass cracking from the impact when the Jeep skid sideways off the road. Everything was spinning, and for a second, Stiles thought it might just be his head until he was violently slammed forward into his seatbelt, and then back into the chair, and then sideways into the window again, hearing it break, glass raining through the cab. He was pretty sure he blacked out for a second, and when he came to, the Jeep was at an angle with his door up against a tree, branch clean through the side panel, trapping his legs down.
Everything hurt and he could feel blood streaming down his face.
“Scott?” he asked weakly, letting out a cough. “Scott?”
He heard nothing, so either his phone had been thrown from the vehicle when it had tumbled over the side of the road, or Scott had hung up. He doubted it was the latter.
“Stiles!” A voice he didn’t recognize was screaming his name. He turned his head, but he couldn’t see anything from where he was, the Jeep at too much of an angle.
He coughed again, his vision swimming, trying to get his seatbelt off. Even if he managed it, he didn’t know if he’d get out, the branch had him pinned down pretty well. He was lucky it hadn’t gone clean through his head. Or chest. Or anything else, really.
“Stiles!” the voice shouted again, and he heard a loud thump.
A shadow appeared above him at the passenger side door and he winced at the sound of tearing metal before the door was ripped clean off.
He stared up dizzily at the man bearing down on him from the other side of the car, looking terrified and reaching in to rip through the seatbelt.
It was him. His stalker. The guy following him around town and sneaking into his bedroom at night.
He’d... done something. He’d gotten his car off the road so the semi wouldn’t hit it. Stiles liked to think, based on the panic on the guy’s face, that he hadn’t meant to send the Jeep tumbling down the ravine on the other side, but he couldn’t be sure.
“What fresh Twilight bullshit is this?” Stiles demanded weakly.
He passed out at the sound of the man screaming his name again.
Stiles swam in and out of consciousness for the next few hours. He remembered being pulled from the Jeep. He even remembered trying to shove the guy away from him, another voice belonging to someone who wasn’t his stalker insisting he had to stop moving. Then someone was shining a light in his eyes while voices spoke urgently around him, blue and red lights flashing in his peripheral. Someone was asking him questions while he was being loaded into an ambulance, and everything hurt.
The next time he woke up, Melissa was at his bedside petting his hair, and Scott was standing beside her looking pale and terrified. Stiles could hear his dad out in the corridor shouting at someone before his eyes rolled back and he passed out again.
The next time he woke up was a little less disorienting. He could hear a heartrate monitor to his left and the pinch in his hand suggested he had an IV. He shifted slightly, relieved he didn’t have a catheter—he’d had that once, and he was not eager for a repeat—and blinked open his eyes. The lights were too bright, which concerned him because he could tell most of them were off. The room was only partially lit, and he could feel someone holding his hand.
“Stiles? Son?” A chair creaked and his father’s face swam into view above him. He was having a hard time focussing, but he’d recognize that blur anywhere.
“Ow.” It was all Stiles could think to say. Everything hurt, his brain felt too big for his skull, and he honestly wasn’t entirely sure he wasn’t dead.
He reached out with his free hand, the one his dad wasn’t trying to crush, and touched his legs. They ached, but they were there. He wiggled his toes just to be sure, and was relieved to feel them. He then started to reach up for his head but his dad caught his hand and set it back down on his stomach.
“What happened?” He tried to say those words, but they came out slurred and weird-sounding. Evidently his father still understood because he moved closer, looking relieved and terrified at the same time.
“Your steering column disconnected,” he said patiently, one hand brushing at Stiles’ hair on the opposite side of the pain. “You ran off the road, tumbled down a hill. A trucker saw it happen, called an ambulance.”
“No.” Stiles grabbed at his dad’s sleeve. “The guy. What about the guy?”
“What guy?” his dad asked with a frown.
“There was a guy. He pulled me out of the Jeep.” His words were still slurring heavily, and he felt like he was seconds away from passing out again, but he forced himself to stay conscious.
“Deputy Hale and Deputy Parrish were first on the scene. It took both of them to get you out of the Jeep. Hale wasn’t even on duty, he was just on his way home when it happened.”
No. No, no, no, that wasn’t right. Stiles remembered him. He remembered that the guy was there. He’d-he’d ripped the door off his Jeep. He’d reached in and snapped Stiles’ seatbelt.
“Towed. It’s in the shop. Don’t worry, we’ll-we’ll figure something out.”
That meant it was beyond saving. That meant his Jeep was toast, and his dad didn’t know how to tell him.
Stiles felt his eyes burning. That was his mom’s car. He couldn’t let it go, it was all he had left of her. He couldn’t lose that car!
His dad shushed him, suggesting the tears had spilled over, and kissed his forehead.
“Sleep, Stiles. You need to get some rest.”
“It’s okay, son. Just get some rest. We can talk later.”
Stiles wanted to insist they needed to talk now, but he couldn’t keep his eyes open and he felt them roll back in his head before he passed out again.
When he woke up again, feeling just as groggy and out of it as the last time, his dad was gone, and Scott was pacing at the foot of the bed. Well, he assumed it was Scott, his vision still wasn’t great.
“Hey,” he said when he saw Stiles’ eyes open, confirming it was him. He hurried to the side of the bed and sat on the edge, grabbing at one of Stiles’ hands and squeezing it just a touch too tightly. “Hey. You’re awake.”
“Sort of,” Stiles managed to get out, closing his eyes and swallowing hard. His mouth felt dry. “How long was I out?”
“About thirteen hours, give or take. Your dad went to get some food. He should be back any minute.”
“At least he can’t cheat in the hospital, I doubt they have anything here he’d want,” Stiles managed to get out, forcing a laugh and then wincing when it hurt his ribs.
Fuck, how injured was he?
They were silent for a long while, Stiles trying to take stock of all his injuries, but he didn’t think he’d manage it until he was on his feet again.
Which would likely be soon, he had to pee. He definitely didn’t want a catheter, and he didn’t want to use one of those in-bed urinals either, so he’d figure out how to stand without falling over in a minute.
“You scared the life out of me,” Scott finally said, voice barely above a whisper. “Stiles, all I heard was you swearing, and then the crunching of metal, and then-then nothing. I thought—Stiles, I thought...” Scott sounded like he was about to hyperventilate.
Stiles squeezed his hand back, eyes still closed. “I’m right here, buddy. I’m okay.”
“I thought you were dead,” Scott insisted. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where you were. I called your dad, and then he heard over the radio that someone had called in about your Jeep, and—I was so fucking scared, Stiles. Jackson almost lost his fucking mind when I called him on my way here. He wanted to come, but he’s not allowed in right now. Technically I’m not allowed in, but my mom bends the rules for me sometimes. I just—I couldn’t, Stiles. I thought you were dead.”
He felt Scott’s forehead on his shoulder and reached out with his other arm, patting him lightly.
“I’m okay, Scott.” He didn’t know if it was true, but he at least wasn’t dead, and he seemed to have all of his limbs. He was just really tired, and in a lot of pain.
“You smell terrible,” Scott said with a wet laugh. “What are they giving you?”
“Probably morphine,” he guessed. “I need to pee.”
“I’ll find my mom.”
Stiles felt Scott shift away and he released his hand. The door opened, then shut and Stiles let out a weak groan of pain.
God, everything hurt. And the room was spinning, which was talented, considering his eyes were still closed. He kind of felt like he was drunk, actually. This was what being drunk felt like. Except minus the pain and with a lot more fun involved.
Man, he could imagine Jackson was going out of his mind right now. He didn’t do well with not being up to date on everything involving Stiles. He hoped he wasn’t waiting out in the waiting area, emanating doom and gloom. It would be a waste of time and make everyone uncomfortable.
And fuck, his Jeep! He was going to freak the fuck out once the morphine wore off if he couldn’t get it back in working order. He couldn’t lose it, he couldn’t! They had to fix it! He didn’t care what they did, he wanted it fixed. Even if it cost him every cent he owned for the rest of his life, he needed that car back.
The door opened and shut quietly once more, and Stiles let out a pathetic groan.
He heard footsteps approach, then a large, warm hand pressed against his forehead. He almost sighed with relief when the pain slowly began to fade away, like it was being sucked right out of him. Shit, maybe they’d upped the morphine, not that he was complaining.
The hand on his forehead slowly slid to his cheek, thumb brushing against his cheekbone.
“Dad?” He managed to get his eyes open, but his vision was blurry and the figure above him retreated quickly. He frowned, turning his head, and saw dark hair and a black jacket before the door closed.
Less than thirty seconds later, it opened again and Melissa walked in, looking just as blurry as the person who’d just left, but he’d recognize her anywhere.
“Hey sweetie,” she whispered, pressing her hand to his cheek exactly like the previous visitor had. “How’re you feeling?”
“Really good, actually. Did you up the morphine?”
She laughed. “No, you’ve got the same dose you had earlier. Scott says you need to use the bathroom. Can you sit up for me?”
Right. Using the bathroom required getting to his feet. This was going to be fun.
“If I fall over, don’t tell Scott.”
“If you fall over, guess who’s getting a catheter?”
Stiles let out a groan, but allowed Melissa to raise the bed slightly to get him started on sitting up. He definitely didn’t want the catheter, so he was going to do everything in his power not to fall over.
He fucking hated hospitals.
Stiles had never been so happy in his life to see his home again. While he hadn’t been in the hospital for very long—just over two days—it was more than enough for him to hate doctors, hate food, hate showers, and even almost hate Melissa.
No, that wasn’t true, he loved Melissa, she was an angel.
He’d also met Laura Hale, since she was the nurse assigned to his area when Melissa finally went home. She was extremely nice and, as predicted, gorgeous like the rest of her siblings. She’d pursed her lips upon entering the room, like she smelled something foul, and he’d almost apologized for the stench considering he hadn’t exactly had the chance to shower, but the look had quickly disappeared and she’d been all smiles with him.
She was worried about him, and came by more often than Melissa had during her time working. She kept checking in to make sure he was doing okay, to check on his pain, to double-check all the stitches in his head and his various injuries. Stiles didn’t mind, because he actually always felt better whenever she came by to check on him. The pain would always dissipate somewhat when she was poking at him, and the reprieve felt good.
Now, he was finally out, and while the pain was still there, it was more tolerable. He had one arm in a sling since he’d mentioned it was bothering him and the doctor figured he’d bruised it, so he had to take it easy for a little while.
He had eighteen stitches in his head, another six on his face, and various scrapes and bruises from where glass had bitten into his skin or he’d been knocked around in the vehicle. His thighs both had large, ugly bruises from the tree that had pinned him down, and he had the most disgusting bruise and broken skin line all along his chest from the seatbelt.
Then again, it was better than his head having gone through the windshield. Really, he felt like he was lucky to be alive.
And he kind of owed it to his stalker. Which was weird. And something he hadn’t spoken to Scott about yet.
His dad led the way into the house, making sure Stiles made it in all right and that he was seated on the couch before going to fetch him some water.
“Dad, I’m injured, not an invalid,” Stiles insisted when he returned with it, setting it down on the coffee table.
“The doctor said to take it easy for the next few days. I expect you to listen.” He pointed a finger at him. “Scott said he’d be by after class, Jackson mentioned he’d drop in at some point today, and I’m a phonecall away if you need me.”
“And how do you propose I call you without a phone?” Stiles inquired.
The sheriff rolled his eyes and moved out of the room. When he came back, he tossed a brand new, sealed box on the couch beside him.
“Smartass,” the sheriff said, bending down to locate the remote and handing it to Stiles. “Please take it easy, for once in your life. If I find out you’re on the lawn doing cartwheels, I’m taking the phone back.”
“Yes sir.” Stiles saluted with his good hand, then reached out for the sealed box. It was an Iphone eight, which was better than the last model he’d had, but not the most recent. Made sense, considering the eight had probably cost a small fortune, nevermind it was going to be outdated soon.
Apple were dicks like that, but man were their products worth it.
His dad continued to lecture him while Stiles ripped through the plastic on the box and started trying to get his phone organized. He grunted responses to his dad while he went through the setup screen, and looked up when the man snapped his fingers in his face.
“I know you like your new toy, but this is important.” He set a bottle of prescription medication on the coffee table. “Don’t forget.”
“I won’t, dad. I’m fine, I promise.” He shooed him away with his good hand. “Go forth. Be a cop. Catch some bad guys and all that stuff.”
“What did I do to deserve you?” the sheriff asked with a sigh.
“Something wonderful, I am clearly a reward.” Stiles offered him a smile.
His dad smiled back, bent down to kiss the crown of his head—which Stiles groaned at—and then told him he’d be back around dinner time. Stiles stood to follow him to the door, and once his dad was outside, he locked it behind him, watching him head for his cruiser. When he’d finally left, Stiles turned and stared into the rest of the house, listening hard for any signs of intruders.
Hearing nothing didn’t stop him from heading upstairs to check the rooms, but he’d barely gotten to the landing when someone rang the bell. He paused, turning to stare back down the stairs, and debated going to answer when the ringing came again, twice in succession.
“Ah,” he said in understanding. “Jackson.”
Only Jackson was that impatient when he came over.
Stiles went back down the stairs and moved quickly to the door, pulling it open. As predicted, Jackson was standing on the porch. He gave Stiles a quick once-over, and the way his lips turned down at the corners suggested he was unhappy to see him so injured. He didn’t say anything though, because Jackson wasn’t allowed to show that he had feelings, but he at least didn’t shoulder past Stiles into the house like he normally did.
“Still alive, then?”
“Unfortunately,” Stiles said, shutting the door after stepping aside and leading the way to the living room. “Don’t you have class? It’s Thursday.”
“I bailed. Figured you could use the company.”
That was Jackson speak for he was worried about him. Which was sweet, and Stiles appreciated it, because he still wasn’t entirely sure the house was devoid of any mystical creatures looking to suck out his bone marrow or whatever.
Stiles sat back down on the couch while Jackson went about looking through the movies he owned. He settled on one of the Fast and Furious movies and then joined Stiles on the couch.
He ended up watching it more than Stiles did, since he was busy trying to get his phone back in order. He was sad about all the lost photos and videos, but figured if his dad had found his old phone out by the crash, one of the guys at the precinct would probably help him get all of that stuff back.
It paid to be the precinct baby, people loved him.
Once the new SIM card was in his phone, he went about adding in all the phone numbers he could remember by memory. Jackson didn’t say anything when Stiles input his, but he seemed to preen a little at the fact that Stiles had it memorized.
It was dangerous not to have numbers memorized! Phones could go missing or disappear or contact lists could suddenly vanish! If Stiles was in dire need of a Kanima and only had a landline, he damn well better know Jackson’s number!
Jackson made a comment about hoping his new phone was better than his old one on the butt-dials, but Stiles didn’t know if that would make a difference. His old phone had been an Iphone, as well, so he was just under the impression that Jackson was doomed to forever get crotch-dialled and he’d just have to live with it.
Stiles was in the process of re-downloading all his preferred games—no, his high scores!—when Jackson stiffened and turned to look out the large window. Stiles paused in what he was doing, looking at him, then turned as well, but saw nothing.
“Someone’s coming,” he said, getting to his feet. He moved to the window and pulled the blinds shut, which darkened the room considerably. He was peeking between two slats, watching, as if convinced whoever it was was on their way to Stiles’ place despite there being many more houses along the block than just his.
Stiles heard two cars idling outside, one of them stopping and turning off, but the other’s engine still running. A car door slammed and Jackson narrowed his eyes.
“A girl driving a Mustang is walking up your driveway.”
“Oh!” Stiles grinned and got to his feet. “Cora.”
Jackson beat him to the door and pulled it open when Cora had just barely rung the bell. Stiles grinned from behind him, but when he tried to move forward, Jackson blocked his approach with his body, not letting Stiles move closer.
Which was weird. And rude. He just assumed it was the wolf in Jackson not wanting an injured packmate to be close to an unknown person.
Well, unknown to Jackson, since Stiles knew Cora fairly well now, he felt.
“Hey,” Cora said with a smile directed at Stiles, completely ignoring the fact that Jackson was blocking her way. “You’re alive.”
“I know, so tragic,” Stiles said with a sigh. Cora rolled her eyes.
“I was worried about you, loser. How are you doing? You okay?”
“Does he look okay?” Jackson snapped.
Stiles frowned at the back of his head, not understanding the animosity, but Cora just smiled pleasantly at him like she found his presence amusing.
“Whittemore. Never thought I’d see the day where you weren’t trying to shove Stiles’ head into a toilet.”
“What are you doing here, Hale?” Jackson demanded, crossing his arms.
“Dude,” Stiles shoved at him, but Jackson wouldn’t budge. “She’s my friend, chill.”
“It’s okay,” Cora insisted, still smiling. “I mostly came by to drop this off.” She tossed keys at Stiles, who would’ve fumbled them, except Jackson’s hand shot out and snatched them from the air before they could reach him. Cora didn’t comment on it, she just kept speaking to Stiles. “I told mom about what happened. How you only got into that accident after driving Eric and I home. She feels bad, so I was allowed a temporary lift on my driving ban to bring the Mustang over. You can use it until your Jeep’s out of the shop.”
Stiles balked. “What? No way! Cora, that’s—are you insane? Your car is so nice!”
“Eh.” She waved a hand dismissively. “I like your Jeep better. It’s roomier. But my car will have to do until yours is back. You gonna be okay to drive tomorrow?”
“Hopefully.” Stiles’ eyes were on the gorgeous car outside, parked in the driveway where his Jeep usually was. He was going to be terrified driving that car, it was so fucking nice, getting bird shit on it was going to give him anxiety.
“Cool. Well, originally I was gonna stick around, but looks like your guard dog doesn’t want company. Laura figured you’d be busy, she insisted on tagging along to give me a ride home.” She thumbed over her shoulder.
Stiles craned his neck and could see the eldest Hale in her car. She smiled and waved when she saw Stiles looking and he waved back with his good hand, phone still held in it.
“Oh hey, new phone?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. Hey, what’s your number?” Stiles opened a new contact for Cora and typed in her number while she recited it. Jackson was getting visibly impatient the longer the conversation went on, so once she was done, she bid them farewell and waved over her shoulder while turning to leave.
Jackson slammed the door before she’d even cleared the porch, locking it and striding back to the living room.
“Dude, what the hell?” Stiles demanded, following after him. “I know you have a reputation, but that was rude even for you.”
“She smells weird,” Jackson insisted, baring his teeth, eyes going gold while he lifted two slats once more, peeking through them.
Stiles frowned, watching the way Jackson struggled to pull his claws back in, to get his shift under control. He moved up beside him, watching through the gap while Cora climbed into her sister’s car—it looked like an Audi—and then they drove off down the street, Jackson’s watchful eye on them until the car was no longer in sight.
He dropped the blinds and turned to Stiles. “How did you and Cora reconnect?”
“Are you serious?” Stiles asked, eyebrows shooting up. “Cora’s my friend, she’s nice. She’s not dangerous.”
“She smells dangerous,” Jackson countered, looking offended that Stiles had the audacity to have friends outside their little pack. “She smells like—I don’t know. I couldn’t place it. But she’s something, and that something is making me uneasy.”
“And territorial, apparently.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “Cora’s fine, can we focus on the more pressing issue?”
“Your stalker.” Jackson crossed his arms. “Why do you think I skipped class? The others are coming by later so we can discuss. Though my vote is tell your dad.”
“I can’t just tell my dad,” Stiles insisted, throwing one arm in the air and wincing when he tried to follow through with his injured one in the sling. “This guy is Supernatural, he might hurt my dad!”
“He was in your bedroom, Stiles!” Jackson snapped.
“Yes, okay, fair point, but,” Stiles pointed a finger at him, “he’s also the one who saved me from the semi.”
“What?” Jackson demanded, frowning.
“I didn’t swerve off the road, Jackson, the steering column disconnected and I ended up on the wrong side of it. A fourteen-wheeler was coming right at me, and I couldn’t get my seatbelt off. It was literally going to crash right into me but something slammed into the side of the Jeep to knock it off the road and out of the way. I’m fairly certain having it go crashing down the ravine wasn’t part of the plan, but when I was at the bottom, the guy was there, screaming my name, and he literally tore my door off to get to me.”
Jackson stared at him. “And this doesn’t concern you more?!” he shouted, face going red like he was about to explode. “Stiles, he could have killed you! Maybe he was trying to! I heard that two deputies showed up to get you out of the Jeep, maybe he was planning something malicious but the deputies’ arrival chased him off!”
Stiles groaned and covered his face with one hand, phone crushed against his nose. This was a fucking disaster, he had no idea what was going on. He was also fairly certain the person who’d come into his hospital room when he’d been doped out of his mind was his stalker, too.
But like—what kind of stalker went out of his way to keep someone safe? Seriously, this had Edward Cullen written all over it, and Stiles was not okay with being Bella Swan.
Before he could even open his mouth to argue, Jackson turned back to the window and pulled the slats down again.
“Scott’s here,” he grumbled, moving past Stiles. “Maybe he can knock some sense into you.”
Stiles just sighed and fell back onto the couch, then winced because the action hurt his ribs. Note to self: do not fall onto couch with bruised ribs.
At least they weren’t broken.
When Jackson returned, he had Scott, Kira and Lydia with him, suggesting they’d all come over with him. Lydia eyed Stiles critically, like she was trying to determine the scope of the damage without asking, but Kira looked horrified. Scott was already used to it, so he just patted Stiles on the shoulder before sitting down in one of the chairs.
Stiles lacked the energy for a pack meeting right then, but he knew they were only having it because of him. Because of his Supernatural stalker who may or may not have been looking out for him in some weird way. Then again, maybe he was right that the guy was keeping his young, virgin ass alive to be a sacrifice or something, so it was more than time for him to get laid.
When he suggested this to Lydia, she told him that just because he was injured didn’t mean she wouldn’t punch him. He decided to let that idea slide for now.
“By the way,” Lydia said, tucking her feet up underneath herself, heels on the floor and skirt pulled down slightly so she wasn’t giving any of the straight men in the room a show. “Whose car is that?”
“Cora Hale’s,” Jackson said grumpily, arms crossed and slouching. “Came by to offer it up to keep Stiles on her good side.” He glanced at Scott then. “She’s something we need to worry about.”
“She is?” Scott asked, confused, turning to Stiles. “I thought you liked Cora.”
“I do, he’s the one getting territorial,” Stiles insisted, motioning Jackson.
“She smells off. Like something dangerous, but I can’t put my finger on what. Her scent shifts, it’s weird.”
“Huh,” Scott said with a frown. “The stalker’s scent is kind of like that, too. Like I should be able to tell what it is, but somehow can’t. It’s like different scents mixed together.”
“Exactly,” Jackson said, he and Scott staring at one another.
“Cora is not my stalker,” Stiles insisted, waving his good hand between them to cut off their weird staring discussion. “My stalker is definitely a dude. A hot dude. With murder eyes. And resting bitch face. Or maybe just regular bitch face, it’s hard to say.”
“For those of us who weren’t kept in the loop about your potentially dangerous new nighttime friend,” Lydia said, raising one hand in a ‘stop talking’ motion, “start from the beginning. When did you first notice him following you?”
It was frustrating having to go right back to the very beginning, but Stiles conceded and told all of them about the encounters. They’d been regular and of no concern at first, seeing him at the store, walking down the street, around town, the usual. No more concerning than bumping into any one of the other hundred people who lived there.
Then he moved on to the movie, seeing the man at the mall, and later in the same theatre. Then the fact that he was around the night they’d been staking out the woods. Then the school. And his bedroom. And the accident. And his hospital room. And every time he brought up a new encounter, he was just reminded of parallels from Twilight, which he’d only seen because of Lydia! But now he couldn’t get the comparisons out of his head and he kept bringing them up and addressing them during his tirade, getting more and more incensed as they progressed until he finally snapped.
“I am not Bella!” he insisted, shaking his fist angrily at Jackson, as if he’d been the one to suggest he was. “I am not Bella! I am, like, a Jacob, at least!”
Lydia made a noise of debate from his right and he whipped around to look at her.
“What?! What was that sound?!”
“You’re more of a Mike,” she insisted, shrugging neatly and flipping some curls over her shoulder.
“Wha—” Stiles had never been so offended in his life! “I am not! No way! I am a solid Jacob!”
“Mike,” she argued.
“Who’s Mike?” Scott asked.
“Shut up, Scott!” Stiles insisted, pointing a finger at him but still glaring at Lydia. He heard Kira explaining that Mike was the awkward potato who’d asked Bella to prom and was basically infatuated with her until Edward Cullen came along.
“It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a Mike or a Bella,” Lydia said.
“Or a Jacob!” Stiles interjected, but she ignored him and continued.
“The fact of the matter is, this has gone way beyond simple interest. This is dangerous. Scott says he thinks the guy was in your Jeep. What was he doing in there? What was he doing in your room? Why is he following you? I hate to agree, but I think your father needs to be involved. This has moved out of the realm of Supernatural.”
She raised one hand to silence him, and it was as effective as if she’d snapped for him to shut up.
“I know that whoever he is, he’s not human, but having this on record at the police station is a good thing. People will keep an eye on you, and you know Parrish will drop everything and race to wherever you are if you call and sound like you’re in trouble. Most of the station would kill for you, you’re like the obnoxious little brother they all never knew they wanted.”
Stiles let out an offended sound, but she either didn’t notice or didn’t care as she continued.
“You need to speak to your father. You need to open a file. Stalking in general is dangerous, it’s even worse with a creature of unknown origin. We need to address this with the police, and once that’s been done, we can think about how to address it in the pack.”
“Lydia’s right,” Scott insisted softly. “Your dad should know something’s been going on. What if the guy shows up at your house and says he’s a friend from school and your dad just, I don’t know, invites him in?”
“Inviting Vampires, sparkly or otherwise, into a house is never a good idea,” Stiles insisted, pointing a finger at Scott.
“Exactly. I know you don’t want to, but you need to tell your dad.”
Stiles knew they were right. He knew this was something he had to tell his dad was happening. He was just worried, because he didn’t know what this Supernatural hot dude was going to do once his dad knew. What if he hurt his dad? What if he went after the policemen who tried to help him?
Then again, Parrish was something, so he’d probably be fine. Maybe. Stiles still wasn’t sure what he was, but hopefully durable.
“Fine,” Stiles muttered. “Fine, okay. I’ll tell dad.”
“I would suggest sooner rather than later,” Lydia insisted. “Who knows when you’ll see him next, and what nefarious plans he might have in store for you.”
“No one says nefarious, Lyds,” Stiles insisted with a sigh.
She just gave him an annoyed look, told him to try not to die, and snapped her fingers at Scott demanding he drive Stiles to the precinct.
There went his day of not over-exerting himself.
Stiles stared out the window apprehensively, as if the station were the most terrifying thing he’d ever seen in his life. Which was stupid, because he used to do homework here before he was old enough to stay home on his own.
Kira and Scott were both turned in their seats to stare at him, waiting for him to get out. Lydia had left with Jackson, because she had more important things to do than babysit Stiles to the station when a Werewolf and Kitsune were going with him. Stiles just insisted she was too embarrassed to go because she had a crush on Parrish.
“We can go with you,” Kira offered. “If you think that’ll help.”
“It’s not that,” Stiles insisted, rubbing at his injured arm. He’d taken the sling off, not wanting people to coddle him more than necessary since his face was enough of a mess.
He just didn’t want to admit that, more than being worried his dad would get hurt, he was also kind of worried his father wouldn’t believe him. Stiles wasn’t exactly the kind of guy who got stalked. He was barely attractive, if everyone he’d ever been interested in was to be believed, and he was annoying and hyperactive. The idea of someone stalking him was as ridiculous as his father being some ancient God that people worshipped on the down low.
But he couldn’t tell Scott or Kira that, because they’d think he was feeling sorry for himself and insist he was perfectly likable, and attractive, and all that other stuff. And Stiles knew he wasn’t.
He was a Mike wishing he was good enough to be a Jacob. And that was depressing, because Jacob wasn’t even all that great.
“I got it.” He sighed and kicked open the door, climbing out and turning back to them. “I’ll call you later, tell you how it goes.”
“We can wait for you,” Scott insisted.
“Nah, it’s cool. I’ll call you later.” Stiles slammed the door and turned back to the precinct.
With another sigh, he climbed the stairs, patting his pocket to make sure his new phone was there. He was going to be super paranoid about it because it was so new.
He noticed Scott wait until he entered the station and had to admit, at least he had great friends. They really cared about him, and he appreciated that. Even if they were making him have an uncomfortable conversation that his dad may or may not believe and could, potentially, get him killed.
“Hey Val,” he said with as bright a smile as he could, walking up to the front desk.
“Jesus,” Valerie Clark gave him a once-over, face pinched with sympathy. “You look like you went through hell.”
“No, just down a ravine,” he insisted with a forced smile. “My dad free?”
“He just got off a call, so he might be in a mood.”
“Great. Thanks Val.” He patted the desk and moved past her towards his dad’s office. The door was ajar and he knocked on it, poking his head inside. His dad didn’t look up, he just grunted for whoever it was to come in, two pieces of paper held in either hand.
The sheriff did look up at the sound of his son’s voice. “Stiles. What are you doing here? How did you get here?”
“Scott drove me.” Stiles waved the other question away, shutting the door behind himself and moving forward to take a seat, wincing as he did so. “Um, I needed to talk to you about something. It’s kind of... well, work-related, I guess. And important.”
His father frowned and set his papers aside, giving Stiles his full attention. “What is it, son?”
He had no idea how to even begin this conversation. Everything in his brain kept insisting his father wouldn’t believe him, that he’d roll his eyes and insist he didn’t have time for this. But he knew he had to get it out. And if the sheriff thought he was lying, well... he’d deal with how much that hurt later.
“Okay,” Stiles said, shifting forward in his seat and rubbing one hand across his mouth. “Okay, so, I know this is going to sound a little—crazy. And you’re probably going to laugh, or insist I’m seeing things, because it’s impossible, but I—Dad, I think I have a stalker.”
He paused, waiting for the laughter. The eye roll. The annoyed sigh and insistence he didn’t have time for this.
He got none of that. Instead, his father straightened in his seat, face hardening. “What?”
“I know it sounds impossible, and insane,” Stiles insisted, words just coming out of him now, “but I’m pretty sure I do. Dad, I’m-I’m not making this up. He was—he’s around a lot. Like, a lot. I think—he was in my hospital room. I remember... I saw someone, but my brain was still fuzzy, and it wasn’t one of the nurses or doctors and I just... I think... I might be in trouble.”
His father was sitting perfectly still, and for a second, Stiles wondered if he was going to explode. After a moment, the sheriff let out a slow breath, looking livid, but calm somehow.
“I need you to make an official report about this,” he said, getting to his feet. “You can’t just be talking to your cop dad, we need to do this properly.”
Stiles assumed he could’ve done that with his dad, but he supposed he understood why he didn’t want that to happen. After all, if his dad learned too much about the case, he might go apeshit on someone who was on the suspect list, so it was probably best he keep himself at arm’s length from an officer point of view. He could be as close as he wanted from a father point of view.
“Come on.” He motioned for Stiles to follow him, pulling open his office door. Stiles got out of his seat and joined his father at the door while the man surveyed the bullpen, seemed to hesitate, then pointed someone out.
“Speak to Deputy Hale over there. He’s a good man, he and Parrish can look into this once Parrish gets back from his rounds.”
Stiles followed his dad’s finger, taking a step towards the man he’d pointed out, and promptly froze, feeling his stomach hit his feet.
His eyes found the individual he was being asked to go and see, the man currently on the phone and looking more and more annoyed with each passing millisecond, one hand rubbing at his forehead with a pen held between his fingers.
He was attractive, really attractive, with jet black hair, broad shoulders, a neatly trimmed beard and what looked to be blue-green eyes, as far as Stiles could tell when he raised his gaze to the ceiling, as if asking for patience.
But that wasn’t all Stiles noticed about this man, because Deputy Hale was incredibly familiar. He remembered seeing his face staring down at him worriedly from the passenger side of the Jeep while it was on its side. He remembered those murderous eyes intent on his half-awake form from the corner of his bedroom. He remembered that piercing gaze right on him from a bench outside his classroom.
It was his stalker.
It was him.
No. Nope. Hard pass. Abort mission.
“Hah!” Stiles said, so loudly he actually made himself jump, along with everyone else in the vicinity.
Not deputy McStalker, though! He was still on the phone.
“Stiles?” his dad asked slowly.
Stiles turned back to him, feeling like he was about to laugh hysterically. His dad’s new deputy, one of the fucking Hales, was his stalker. He was Supernatural, and a cop, and his stalker, and his life was a fucking disaster, he just wanted to laugh, and laugh, and laugh.
“April Fool’s!” Stiles insisted to his dad, pointing his good pointer finger at him. The hysterical laughter was threatening to bubble up, and he had to fight really hard to keep it down.
The sheriff stared at him for a long moment, then said, “It’s May.”
“Is it?” Stiles asked, voice an octave too high. He tried to inch away, not wanting Stalky McStalkerson to see him. Thankfully, he was still on the phone. “Hah, you know, they just... they’re so close together, it’s so easy to get them confused, hard to keep track and all that. Anyway, uh, sorry, totally a joke, not at all true, made the whole thing up, see you for dinner, bye!”
Stiles didn’t let his dad call him back, he just raced to the door, almost taking out Parrish who was coming back with two coffees. Thankfully they avoided colliding with one another and Stiles hurried down the stairs, head swivelling while looking for Scott. Maybe Scott had waited! Maybe he was still there!
His hand was shaking when he pulled his phone out, because what was happening?! Maybe Jackson was right and it was weird that Cora had randomly bumped into him. Who transferred halfway through the year anyway?! Why had she caught up to him? Why were they all friendly?
Why was her brother stalking him?!
“Hey, how’d it go?”
“My stalker is a cop!” Stiles blurted out, pacing in front of the precinct and then realizing Deputy Hale aka Stalker McStalkerton might walk out any second. He hurried to the side of the steps and crouched down so he was mostly out of sight. “Scott, my stalker is a fucking cop! And not just any cop, oh no! He’s a Hale! A Hale, Scotty! I swear, I’m living in a Twilight movie, this is ridiculous! What do I do?!”
“I’m coming back to get you.”
Stiles could feel his heart slamming against his ribs, eyes scanning the area wildly when he paused, noticing a sleek black Camaro in the parking lot. A Camaro that he recognized, because he’d seen it once before.
“Wait,” he said. “I have an idea.”
“It’s probably a bad one! Stiles—”
“I’ll call you back.”
Stiles hung up and glanced around before standing slowly. Most people knew who he was, so they didn’t pay any attention to him while he walked slowly across the lot, trying for innocent. When he reached the Camaro, he looked around to make sure no one was looking, and tried the handle.
Surprisingly, the door opened. It was likely that no one was stupid enough to steal a car from the lot of a police station, but still, ballsy. Stiles quickly slid into the driver’s seat and slammed the door, slouching so he wouldn’t be seen as easily.
The first thing he noticed was a red hoodie on the passenger seat and he instantly bristled, grabbing at it and turning to glare towards the station. It was his favourite hoodie, he’d been looking for this! What the fuck!
“I’m taking this back,” he muttered, struggling to pull it on over the hoodie he was already wearing. He ended up hurting his arm in his efforts, but it was worth it getting the hoodie on and knowing deputy Hale wouldn’t have it to—do whatever! Gross, maybe he was jerking off into it.
“If there is any cum on this sweater, I will murder you,” he hissed towards the station.
Returning to the task at hand, he opened the glove box and started going through everything in there. There wasn’t really anything of interest, and while he knew the answer to which Hale was in the station, he still felt a little better having it confirmed with the registration.
Derek Hale. Derek Hale was stalking him. The question now was why?
Every time the door to the station opened, Stiles glanced up, but it was never anyone to be concerned about. He just finished going through everything in the glove box, then moved into the back seat to go through the bags back there. Mostly just clothes, some gym shoes, a grocery list. Nothing that explained anything.
Stiles was in the middle of shoving the bag back onto the floor when his blood ran cold. Derek Hale was a Supernatural being. Stiles knew he was, he’d seen it himself. With the shoving the Jeep out of the way, and the ripping the door off, and leaping out his window with ease.
So if Derek was a Supernatural being, then that meant...
“Cora.” God dammit, could he not have nice things?! Why couldn’t he have nice things?! It wasn’t fair. Couldn’t he have just one friend who was normal?!
But Jackson had said she smelled weird. And the stalker in his car and room—aka Derek fucking Hale—also smelled weird, according to Scott. So if they both smelled weird, they were obviously both the same thing. The question was what that thing happened to be.
Stiles jumped when his phone went off, pulling it out.
head up your dad just called asking for your new cell number
“Shit,” Stiles hissed just as it began to ring. He answered it, glancing at the station door. “Hello?”
“Stiles, where are you?”
“Hey pops! Dad! Daddio. Fatherman. Sheriff sir.”
“Right. I am, uh, on my way home. Figured I’d walk, get some fresh air, been cooped up for a while, it’ll do me some good. Hey, sorry about that joke. Totally off-colour, shouldn’t have done it.”
“Son,” his dad insisted, sounding exasperated. “I know you. You have a terrible sense of humour, but not this terrible. And you looked scared when you left. What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Stiles insisted with a sharp, fake laugh, eyes skirting back to the station doors and freezing.
Derek Hale was coming.
Derek Hale was coming!
“Uh, something just came up, gotta go, love you, bye!” Stiles hung up and turned his phone off, then flailed slightly trying to figure out what to do. He could try and sneak out the back door on the opposite side, but there were people on the road and they might see him and call attention to him.
But if he stayed where he was, he was basically allowing himself to be kidnapped by his stalker!
Then again, he could also interrogate Mr. Deputy Derek Hale if he stayed in the car, and while he recognized that wasn’t one of his brighter ideas, he ran out of options when the guy was literally right there and just ended up ducking, heart slamming against his ribs.
He felt the car jostle when Derek climbed into the front seat, the door slammed, and then silence. When Stiles glanced up, he saw Derek staring down at him, looking both terrified and furious.
“What the fuck?” he demanded. “What are you doing in my car?!”
“I don’t know, Deputy Hale!” Stiles snapped, sitting up and sounding much braver than he felt. “What is an officer of the law doing stalking the sheriff’s underage son?!”
Derek had a good poker face. A really good poker face. Because he didn’t look guilty at all, he just stared at Stiles like he didn’t have time for crazy teenagers hanging out in the back seat of his car.
Stiles’ heart was beginning to increase in speed and he was ready to just make a break for the door and leap out when Derek finally spoke.
“I’m not stalking you,” he insisted, voice perfectly even. So perfectly even. Like he’d practised it a few times in his head. “And you’re not underage.”
Stiles pointed his finger at him accusingly. “How would you know that unless you were stalking me?!”
Derek had the audacity to roll his eyes. “Everyone knows that, Stiles.”
“No they don’t!” he insisted angrily. “No one knows that!”
“Fine, you’re my sister’s friend, you were in the same grade, my sister is twenty-one, thus you are also twenty-one. Math. It’s a thing.” Derek let out a small scoff. “Though as I recall, you were pretty terrible at it.”
Stiles balked. Okay, stalking was one thing, but insulting his intelligence?! “I was salutatorian!” Stiles shouted at him angrily. “I can do math! I’m really good at math!”
“Good for you. Get out of my car.”
“Not without answers!” Stiles insisted. “Why are you stalking me?”
“I told you, I’m not stalking you,” Derek insisted, sounding annoyed. Stiles noticed it looked like he was trying not to breathe. If that wasn’t some Edward Cullen bullshit, Stiles didn’t know what was.
“You were in my bedroom!” He pointed his finger at Derek when the man opened his mouth to argue. “Don’t lie! I saw you! You were there! And Scott knows you were there! You were there! You stole my hoodie!” Stiles gripped the front of the hoodie he was wearing, tugging it a few times for emphasis. “This is my favourite hoodie!”
“I was only in your room because your dad asked me to check your security system,” Derek said dryly. “I went through the only window I saw that allowed me access, and you woke up while I was still in there. I didn’t know what to do, I panicked, so I just bolted.”
“And my dad will corroborate this far-fetched story of you checking our non-existent ‘security system’?” Stiles asked, using his good hand to do air quotes around the last two words.
“Yes, actually. He will.” Derek crossed his muscular arms and Stiles glanced down at them. Derek was definitely strong enough to manhandle his weak, injured ass out of the car. Stiles figured he was really pushing his luck, but he wanted answers!
“You threw my Jeep down a ravine!”
“That was an accident, I was just trying to get you off the road before the semi hit you,” Derek insisted.
“You broke into my Jeep!”
“Yeah, to lock the door for you because you suck at locking your car up. That thing is going to get stolen, and I won’t have any sympathy.”
“You know you’re not helping your ‘I’m not stalking you’ case at all, right?” Stiles demanded. “You are admitting to following me!”
“Following you and stalking you are not the same thing.”
Stiles balked. “Following someone is literally the definition of stalking them!” Stiles shouted. “But you know what, I don’t care, I don’t. Clearly you have issues, so that’s a you problem. What I want to know is why. I need answers!”
“Then go find them somewhere else,” Derek said, smiling at him. It was not a kind smile. It was the kind of smile that prefaced painful death via unconventional means. Like buzzsaw or lawnmower or, fuck, who knew, a spoon maybe?!
“No, no, no,” Stiles insisted, shifting to the opposite end of the back seat so he had some space between him and Derek. “You need to tell me why you’re following me! Are you, like...” Stiles didn’t even know so he went for Edward Cullen. “Are you lusting after my blood like some creepy bloodsucking stalker?”
Derek looked both annoyed and offended. “Not a stalker,” he insisted again, though he didn’t say anything about the bloodsucking part of that sentence, so that wasn’t reassuring.
“Are you after my transparently gorgeous skin?!” Stiles continued, ignoring him.
“What?” Derek demanded.
“Are we secret special friends I don’t know about that you want to bone every time I’m within smelling distance?!”
The way Derek’s shoulders went rigid and he didn’t say anything was definitely cause for concern and all the blood drained from Stiles’ face. That couldn’t be it, it had to be one of the other two.
“It’s... it’s not the bloodsucking one, is it?” he asked slowly, eying Derek suspiciously and inching closer to the door. “Because I’m telling you straight up, I had garlic for lunch.” Which he did not, but Derek didn’t know that! Unless... he did know that...
“That’s a myth, Stiles,” the other man said with an exasperated sigh, rubbing at his eyes like he wished he was anywhere else right then. His own fault for stalking Stiles! He should’ve known what he was getting into!
“Well, still. I’d probably taste bad.”
“I don’t want your blood, Stiles,” Derek said, annoyed, looking back over at him and scowling.
Stiles scoffed. “What? Why not? Are you saying it’s not good enough for you? I’ll have you know,” Stiles pointed a finger in Derek’s face again, “my blood is top tier blood, thank you very much!”
Derek looked like he was about to lose it. “You literally make no sense!” he insisted angrily. “You don’t want me to take your blood, but when I say I don’t want it, you insist it’s the best blood around! Do you want me to suck your blood or don’t you?!”
“Ha!” Stiles pointed at him again. “So you admit you want my blood!”
“The only place I want your blood right now is on my hands,” Derek said dryly. “After I murder you.”
“Still counts!” Stiles shouted.
Derek opened his mouth to retort when they both froze at the sound of knuckles rapping lightly on glass. Derek whipped around and Stiles glanced over at the driver’s side window where his dad was bent down with his hand still raised, looking in at both of them.
“Deputy Hale. Stiles. Out of the car, please.”
Stiles saw Derek swallow hard, the man turning to look at him briefly before he obediently kicked open the door rather violently and climbed out of the car, slamming it so hard the whole vehicle rocked. Stiles followed suit, climbing out on the other side to keep some distance between him and Derek, but his father motioned for him to come around the car so he obediently made his way around the hood and stood a little ways from Derek, shoving his good hand in his pocket, the other pressed against his stomach in an attempt to alleviate some of the pain.
“Do I even want to know what’s going on over here? Because I have to say, I’m a little concerned.” He looked back and forth between Derek and Stiles, crossing his arms. “Stiles, what were you doing in deputy Hale’s car?”
Stiles opened his mouth to tell him that this deputy was his stalker, but even as he inhaled to do so, the words stuck in his throat. His dad might have believed him about the stalker, as far as Stiles could tell, but this was one of his deputies. This was someone that his father had been working with for the past few months, no way was he going to take Stiles seriously.
If anything, he’d get mad at him, insist it wasn’t a joking matter, that rumours like that could ruin people’s lives. And Derek was a cop, why would a cop be stalking the sheriff’s son? That was ridiculous, and stupid, and he was never going to believe him. And he was a Hale, he could have anyone he wanted, why choose Stiles?
Besides, he had no idea what Derek was. What if he could manipulate memories? What if he did something to make the sheriff turn against him? Stiles didn’t want to put his dad in danger like that, not without knowing what Derek was after.
So instead of saying what Derek’s face clearly assumed he was going to say, Stiles instead said, “Nothing is going on here. Just—catching up with my good buddy Derek. You know, from high school. Real close. Awesome friends. I hang out with his sister all the time, so we were just... you know. Joking about her.”
Derek looked startled, but his father looked suspicious, arms still crossed.
“Stiles, did you break into his car?”
“What?” Stiles let out a laugh. “Dad, come on, don’t joke.” He waved one hand, still laughing. “You’re so funny.”
“Do I look like I’m joking?” the sheriff asked.
Stiles stared at him, pressing his lips together. “Little bit, yeah.”
His father’s expression didn’t change in the slightest. “I’m not joking.”
“Oh.” That was the safest thing to say, but he still somehow managed to follow it up with, “Technically, his door was unlocked, so it wasn’t so much me breaking into his car as it was him letting me in by not locking his door.”
His father did not look impressed. Or pleased.
“Stiles, why are you really bothering my deputy?”
He felt his chest tighten at the words, because it only reaffirmed what he’d already been thinking. His dad would never believe him, and coming to speak to him had been a stupid idea. If Derek wanted to murder him while he slept, well, whatever. Hopefully he’d make it quick.
“I wasn’t... I was just gonna play a prank on him for Cora,” Stiles said softly, feeling all the fight leave him. He ignored the look he was getting from Derek and just raked a hand through his hair. “Look, can I go? I have homework, and I’m already behind enough as it is.”
“I’ll give you a ride,” the sheriff said, uncrossing his arms and pointing at the cruiser. “To make sure you actually go home this time.”
Stiles started for the cruiser, but paused when he was about to pass Derek, turning to look at him.
“You and your family need to stay the hell away from me. I mean it.”
He turned away from Derek and hurried after his father towards the cruiser.
He could foretell a lecture in his future.
Stiles did not sleep that night. To be precise, he spent a majority of the evening pacing in his room with his thumbnail in his mouth, and said pacing continued long after his father had finally called it a night and gone to bed.
He’d called Scott to explain everything that had happened, and his friend had been sufficiently furious for him, which he appreciated, but now he had a problem. Because he had Cora Hale’s Mustang in the driveway, and tomorrow was Friday, and he was meant to use said Mustang to go to the Hale house to pick up Cora to drive almost two hours to school with her.
Scott had offered to drive him instead, and while Stiles had taken him up on it, it didn’t solve his return trip home problem since Scott had work and wouldn’t be there at five when he finished classes for the day. He supposed he could call Lydia or Jackson for a ride. They’d be annoyed, but they’d do it if they were free.
It also didn’t solve the Mustang in his driveway problem. Or the fact that Cora would be waiting for him problem. She’d already texted him twice to ask what the hell was going on because Derek said he’d ambushed him in his car and then had clammed up.
He shouldn’t have to deal with this. He was not in a God damn movie about sparkly Vampires no matter how many similarities there were! And now it was just past five in the morning and he was exhausted and starving and he hadn’t done any of his stupid homework. And Scott was going to be there in forty minutes to pick him up. This was a fucking disaster.
Sitting in his desk chair, he buried his face in one hand and let out a slow breath.
“Okay, what do I know?” he asked, trying to make a checklist. Checklists made him feel better. In theory, anyway, he’d only done it once before in his life, but it had helped! “He saved me from the semi. Point for him. He also sent me tumbling down a ravine, so there goes that. He broke into my room, into my car, so two more lost points. Told the truth about dad asking him to check our security system I still haven’t found, so back up one point. Lied about it being in the middle of the night, so back down.”
Realistically, none of that mattered because the bottom line was a Supernatural being with superstrength was following him around and breaking into his room. And he always looked like he wanted to eat him. Stiles was sure he was tasty, but he wasn’t interested in being Derek Hale’s meal. He was sure there were many other tastier people out there that Derek could eat!
But seriously, he mostly just wanted an explanation. A part of him felt like this couldn’t be malicious, because he’d never felt anything other than friendship while with Cora, and Derek had technically saved him, what with the whole semi coming right for him thing.
“No, that’s how Twilight happened!” Stiles insisted to himself, then groaned and banged his head against his desk. “Curse you, Lydia.”
The movie was just entertaining! He couldn’t help it! Sometimes he watched it when he needed to laugh. And he just couldn’t stop comparing his life to it, which was sad and pathetic, but the parallels were insane!
Small town. Rich family of Supernaturals living in the woods. One sought after human. One of the Supernaturals—not the oldest, not the youngest—stalking the human. The human’s dad was the sheriff. The Supernatural stalker saved the human from a car accident. The human had a shitty car. So far the only thing that differed was that none of the Hale siblings hated him. Then again, he hadn’t met Merrak yet, but he wasn’t eager to meet any more of the Hales.
Stiles’ head shot up when his alarm went off and he fell off his chair in his haste to get to it, shushing it loudly while crawling to his nightstand and shutting it off, listening hard. He heard his dad mumble something from down the corridor, but it didn’t seem like he’d woken him.
He hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep, but at least he managed to get about twenty minutes of it. Better than nothing, which he was already used to, so it worked out.
Stumbling sleepily around his room while rubbing his injured arm since crawling across the floor had not been kind to it, he managed to get dressed and shoved his phone into his pocket, pulling the sling on once he’d changed shirts. He headed to the kitchen so he could grab himself something to eat considering he and Scott wouldn’t be stopping—they were both poor, they couldn’t afford it. He was at the bottom of the stairs and about to turn to head towards the kitchen when he paused.
There was a dark grey Mercedes parked at the bottom of the driveway.
Stiles did not know anyone who owned a dark grey Mercedes. The only person he knew with enough money to own a Mercedes was Jackson. And Lydia. And Kira. Basically everyone he knew except him and Scott.
Why were all their friends rich? That wasn’t cool.
Inching towards the door and peeking out the side window, he squinted to try and get a look at the driver, and jumped a mile high when Cora appeared right in front of him.
“Jesus!” he hissed, backpedalling and almost falling on his ass. “Trying to give me a heart attack?”
“Come on, let’s go.” She tapped her watch. “We’re gonna be late.”
It was earlier than usual, not even quarter to six yet, so be doubted it.
“Thanks, but I’ve got a ride,” Stiles insisted. “Scott’s coming. So, uh, all good. I’m covered. You have fun though.”
She gave him a look. “I swear to God, if Derek ruined our friendship, I’m going to murder him. Will you just get out here? Trust me, you don’t want her to come and fetch you, she’s ten times scarier than I am.”
Stiles didn’t know who ‘her’ was, but he suspected it wasn’t Laura. He’d seen Laura’s car, it was a red Audi, not a grey Mercedes.
And considering there was only one other woman in the Hale family, he really didn’t want to piss off the matriarch. Moms were scary, he’d seen Melissa get mad enough times to know he didn’t want to ever see it again.
“Look, I don’t want to drink your Kool-Aid,” Stiles insisted. “And I don’t want anyone sucking my blood. I eat a lot of garlic, I’d taste bad.”
“No one wants your blood, Stilinski.” She rolled her eyes. “You’re gonna wake up your dad. Look, you can text your little pack friends and let them know who you’re with, but we are literally going to be late for class, so put on your big boy pants and get out here. Now.”
Stiles didn’t like that she knew about the pack. Were they going to go after the pack next? This was bad, so very bad. Why were they even after him?! Were they lacking in humans in their pack? Or whatever they had? He didn’t know what the Hales were, only that they ‘smelled weird,’ according to the Weres in his pack.
“I will break your door down,” Cora said dryly. She tensed, then turned and muttered something. Stiles assumed whatever they were, they had superhearing. She sighed explosively and turned back to Stiles. “My mother said not to break the door down, but is politely asking you to give her a few hours of your time. She is going to buy us breakfast for the drive. She wants to apologize for Derek. Can you please stop acting like we want to eat you.”
Stiles wasn’t entirely sure they didn’t want to eat him, but he had to protect the pack, and if going with them meant they’d leave the others alone, then... then fine. He could do this. Sacrifice himself. Or something.
“Let me get my bag,” he muttered.
Turning, he headed back upstairs while pulling out his phone. It was entirely possible they would hear him make this call, but he couldn’t not tell Scott.
He grabbed his messenger bag and started shoving all of his various books in it, annoyed about how heavy it was going to be since he didn’t have the Jeep to switch them out in, and put his phone on speaker once he’d tapped on Scott’s number since he only had one hand. He held it in his injured hand since he could at least angle the phone upwards for the microphone.
“Hey, I’m almost ready, just finishing up breakfast.”
“Yeah, don’t worry about it. I am being kidnapped by the Hales.”
“Mother Hale is outside with Cora,” Stiles said, lowering his voice and moving to the window, glancing out of it towards the road. The Mercedes was still there, and he could see Mrs. Hale sitting in the driver’s seat, waiting patiently. “They’ve made it pretty clear they won’t leave until I go out there.”
“I’m coming over!”
“No, just—keep an eye on the others. Whatever this is, I’ll figure it out.”
“Stiles, you’re human! They could kill you!”
He shrugged. “YOLO?”
“What else am I supposed to do?!” he hissed. “If she rings the doorbell, dad’s gonna wake up and wonder why I’m being rude! He’s already pissed about what happened yesterday with Derek, I can’t really fuck things up with mama Hale, too! Just—I’ll call you in an hour, okay? If I don’t, assume I’m dead and tell dad Werewolves are real and the Hales are soul-sucking demons or something, I don’t know.”
He hung up on Scott, and almost turned his phone off before realizing his friend would panic at that. He just resolved not to answer it if it rang. Which it did. Immediately.
Shoving it into his pocket, he hoisted his bag onto his shoulder and winced before carefully switching sides, the bruise from his seatbelt making it impossible to comfortably carry his bag. Terrific. Just what he needed.
Hopefully his death would be swift.
Heading back downstairs, he moved up to the front door and saw Cora was still waiting on the porch. Letting out a slow breath, he pushed open the door and exited the house, turning to lock it behind him.
“We’re not soul-sucking demons, by the way,” she said dryly.
He turned to give her an innocent look. “What? Of course not, that was just a joke.”
“You’re a terrible liar, no wonder your dad doesn’t believe a word you say.” She rolled her eyes and motioned for him to follow while turning to head back to the car. “Come on, then, or we won’t have time for food.”
Stiles severely hoped he wasn’t the food, but wisely kept that thought to himself to avoid giving anyone any ideas. Cora pulled open the passenger door and climbed into the car, shutting it behind herself and buckling herself in while Stiles took his time moving to the back. He decided to sit behind her, because if he sat behind Talia Hale in the driver’s seat, for one thing, it meant Cora could turn and stare at him the whole drive, and for another, it would put the seatbelt exactly where his bruise was and he didn’t need that kind of pain before death.
Opening the back door, he tossed his bag in first, then climbed in and shut it behind himself, buckling himself in and then clearing his throat uncomfortably. When he glanced up, Talia was watching him in the rearview mirror. He pressed his lips together and looked out the window instead of acknowledging the stare.
Talia said nothing and eased away from the curb. When the car increased in speed, all the locks engaged automatically, trapping Stiles in the car with two monsters masquerading as women.
“It’s nice to see you again, Stiles,” Talia said once they’d reached the end of the street, her signal on while she waited to ensure it was safe before turning, nevermind that there were no cars around right now. “It’s been a long time. You’ve grown up.”
“Tends to happen,” Stiles said, unable to help himself.
“I suppose,” she admitted with a fond smile. “I’m sorry for commandeering your morning commute with my daughter, but after the conversation I had with my eldest son last night, I thought it best I do a little bit of damage control.”
“Considering Derek still insists following someone around and stalking them isn’t the same thing,” Cora said with a snort. Stiles practically heard the eye roll. “Has he looked up the word ‘stalking’ in the dictionary? The literal definition relates to following someone.”
“That’s what I said!” Stiles insisted.
“Cora.” Talia’s voice was pleasant, but the reprimand was there and Cora went silent in her seat. Stiles waited for someone to say something, but they were both quiet for the next stretch of the drive, so he just turned to stare out the window, watching the scenery go by and looking out for any signs that they were taking him somewhere other than school.
When they were about twenty minutes outside of town, making good time since they’d left earlier than usual for Stiles, Talia eased off the highway and stopped at a small diner that felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, but was attached to an outlet mall so wasn’t really the middle of nowhere.
“I hear you like pancakes,” Talia said, turning in her seat to smile at Stiles. “This place makes delicious flapjacks.”
He managed an awkward smile and a half-nod, wondering if they were fattening him up before devouring him. Talia and Cora climbed out, so Stiles said a little prayer and told his mother he’d see her soon, then followed them. They headed inside together, the diner surprisingly well-travelled given the early hour, and were led over to a booth.
The Hales were kind enough not to sit beside him so he didn’t feel boxed in, the two of them taking the seat across from him and pulling their menus over. Stiles dragged one over for himself, but honestly wasn’t sure he could eat right then. Though their pancakes did look delicious. They had chocolate chip pancakes, complete with cocoa powder in the batter, real chocolates chips both in and on the pancakes, whipped cream, Nutella ‘syrup’ and a side of bacon, for some reason.
If he was going to die today, that sounded like a pretty good last meal. Even if it did cost fifteen ninety-nine.
When the waitress came over to ask what they wanted, Talia ordered some scrambled eggs and a coffee, Cora got a breakfast wrap with a chocolate milkshake, and Stiles asked for the pancakes with a large coffee and two shots of espresso. Once the menus were gathered and the waitress went to put their orders in, Stiles had nothing to distract him from the two women staring at him.
He pressed his lips together and drummed his fingers on the table. The hum of the lights overhead sounded deafening, and he was about two seconds away from going insane when Talia finally spoke.
“I wanted to apologize to you,” she said. “About Derek.”
“Hm?” Stiles asked, raising his eyebrows.
Talia let out a slow breath, reaching up to grab her napkin and unfolding it. She placed it in her lap, smoothing it out while watching her hands, and then folded them together on the table once more, staring at Stiles intently.
“We thought he was ready to come back to Beacon Hills. He insisted he would be better this time around, but it’s become clear to us he’s not. It’s too late for us to relocate for another few years, and quite frankly, I’m inclined to believe the distance is what caused this problem in the first place.”
“And he was such a dick while we were in New York,” Cora muttered. “I swear, I wanted to kill him like, every other day.”
“Cora,” Talia reprimanded without looking at her, and Cora obediently made like she was locking her lips and tossed an imaginary key over her shoulder.
“I don’t understand,” Stiles said slowly.
“Derek is... very protective. Of what he perceives belongs to him.” Talia offered him a small smile. “How good is your memory, Stiles?”
He shrugged in answer, because she was kind of going all over the place and he had no idea what they were supposed to be talking about.
Before she could continue, the waitress reappeared with their drinks, handing over Stiles’ coffee, then passing the drinks to the two women next. Stiles found that to be backwards, since usually women should be served first, but the waitress looked so far past caring that he didn’t bother saying anything about it.
Once she was gone, Talia continued as if there hadn’t been a pause.
“I’m sure you don’t remember this, because it was many years ago, but you were very badly injured at school one day while trying to help Eric. It was when you were perhaps, nine? Maybe ten years old. He was only seven, and he was being bullied by people in your class. You could’ve walked away, but instead you helped him, and they ended up hurting you instead of him.”
“Yeah, that sounds like me. Winning fights since never.” Stiles was really, really good at picking fights. Winning them... not so much.
“You protected someone very important to Derek. When he found out, he became... interested. In the boy who tried to help his brother.”
“So because I protected Eric twelve years ago, your son became a stalker?” Stiles asked, unable to hold back his snark.
Talia smiled, as if amused. “Not exactly,” she said, taking a sip of her drink.
Cora let out an annoyed sound, sliding down in her seat and staring at the ceiling. “If I’d known you were going to take your time with this, I wouldn’t have agreed to let you come.”
“You say this as if Stiles would’ve gotten into the car with you had I not been there,” Talia said pleasantly, putting her coffee down and folding her hands together, smiling at Stiles. “It’s not my place to explain everything, I’d like for Derek to do that, but I did want to apologize for how he’s been acting. I understand that his actions have been cause for concern, and I’ve spoken to him about it multiple times. Breaking into your home while you sleep is not something I am proud of. Breaking into your Jeep while you’re in class is also not something I am proud of. He’s been spoken to, and he’s promised to try harder, but he’s difficult to predict. That being said,” she said, smoothing out her napkin again, even though it likely hadn’t moved, “I just want you to know that we don’t mean you any harm. If anything, we mean you the complete opposite of harm. Derek didn’t mean to scare you, and he is terribly sorry for the actions that led to your injuries. He was desperately trying to get you off the road, and in his panic, he overestimated his own strength.”
“He totally trashed my Jeep,” Stiles said miserably.
“Something we will be paying to fix.”
Stiles blinked at her. “What?”
“Consider it an apology for his actions. We’ve already been in touch with the garage, and your father. He was quite adamant it wasn’t necessary, but given you were only in danger to begin with because you were driving Cora and Eric home, and then Derek pushed your car over the side of the road, it seems only fitting we should help restore—Roscoe, was it?” Stiles just stared at her, but Cora grunted confirmation and Talia nodded before continuing. “It seems only fitting we should help restore Roscoe to her former glory.”
Cora slurped at her milkshake loudly in the silence that followed. Stiles licked his lips, leaning forward on the table.
“So you-you don’t want to eat me?”
“Heavens no.” Talia laughed. “Whatever gave you that idea?”
“Have you seen the way Derek stares at him?” Cora asked her mother with a snort, using her straw to try and scoop some of the whipped cream out of her milkshake. “Even I think he wants to eat him.”
“Well, we’ll have to ask Derek to tone down the—hungry looks.” She sighed, as if exasperated. “We should not have returned so soon, he wasn’t ready.”
“Nope,” Cora agreed, tilting her head back with her straw in one hand and sticking her tongue into her glass to try and scoop at the whipped cream with that instead.
“So... what are you?” Stiles asked. “I mean—you’re not sparkly Vampires, right?”
Talia smiled at him, and Stiles jerked back when her eyes suddenly turned red. Oh God, he was right, sparkly blood-sucking Vampires!
But when he glanced at Cora, who’d put her glass down, her eyes were a soft gold colour. One he recognized, and that was when he realized that—
“You’re Werewolves.” His eyes shot back to Talia. “You’re actually Werewolves. Like—“ He cut himself off before giving away any secrets, but it turned out to be pointless.
“Like your friend Scott, yes.” She smiled, her eyes returning to normal. They were the same soft brown colour as Cora. Stiles assumed the green eyes came from Mr. Hale.
“Why are your eyes red?” Stiles asked.
“Because I live off a diet of young male human blood.”
Stiles leaned back further in his seat and Cora rolled her eyes, kicking him hard under the table.
“She’s joking, dingus. It’s because she’s the Alpha.”
“Alpha?” Stiles supposed that made sense. Their pack only had two gold-eyed Werewolves, but he remembered both of them saying they’d been bitten by someone with red eyes, and both had been sneered at about how they would be formidable provided the bite didn’t kill them. Considering the two of them couldn’t turn other people, it made sense that there was a specific type of Werewolf out there who could turn others into Werewolves.
“It’s what we call the pack leader,” Talia explained. “As I understand it, your friend Scott is your ‘Alpha,’ though he isn’t truly. Alphas are not made, they are born or they steal the ability. Your friend might be in charge of your pack, but he is not an Alpha any more than Cora or yourself.”
“Dodged a bullet,” Cora said, fist-pumping. “Gold eyes for the win.”
“So you’re a...?”
“Beta,” she explained with a smile. “Alpha’s at the top of the hierarchy. Then there’s the Mate, who’s usually second but it varies depending on the pack. Next is the Second, which is Laura in our pack, and the rest of us are Betas. Any Werewolves not part of a pack, or who go rogue or turn feral are called Omegas. And, of course, the last tier is the Heir. Which is Derek.”
“The Heir to what?” Stiles asked slowly.
“The Alpha.” Talia smiled. “Blue eyes. He is my Heir. As I said, not anyone can be an Alpha, so when my children were born, we knew one of them would be the next Alpha in line for the Hale pack. When Laura turned eight and shifted for the first time, it became clear it wasn’t her because her eyes were Beta gold. Upon his shift two years later, Derek’s eyes burned blue, and we knew he would be next in line. When he is ready, I will pass the Alpha spark to him, and he will be the new Alpha of the Hale pack.”
Stiles stared at her for a moment, realizing what Cora had meant back when she’d explained all their moving around.
“That’s why you guys followed him,” he said, looking at Cora. “Whenever he went anywhere, because he’s—next in line, or whatever, you all followed him wherever he went.”
“Unfortunately,” she said with a sigh. “He wanted to stay here and go to school here, but he was becoming a problem, so mom used her Alpha voice and told him he needed some time away. So he chose New York and off we went.”
“Time away from what?” Stiles asked slowly.
“A conversation for another day,” Talia said with a kind smile, leaning back. Stiles realized why when their waitress appeared beside him with their food, setting everything down in front of them. His pancakes smelled so good, he was salivating, and he immediately dug in while Cora poked at her wrap and sighed, clearly displeased. Talia just took a bite of her eggs, eating like they were in the fanciest of restaurants as opposed to a diner off the side of the highway.
“Why did you tell me all this?” Stiles asked when he was halfway through his meal. “Weren’t you worried I’d think you guys were crazy?”
“We knew you were in a pack, so we didn’t have any concerns about you believing we were Werewolves,” Talia said, taking another sip of her coffee. “The damage I was more interested in repairing was the perception you had of our family. I’m sorry Derek has been difficult to control, and while I’m sure he’s causing you great unease, please rest assured he isn’t interested in eating you.”
Cora said something under her breath with a grin and Talia turned to her sharply. Stiles didn’t pick it up, though, but figured he’d ask her about it later.
“He isn’t interested in hurting you,” Talia amended, and Stiles wondered about the difference in word choice. “Besides, Cora was quite distraught when she thought you might not want to spend time with her anymore.”
“Mom!” Cora insisted, her cheeks pinking.
Stiles grinned. “Aw, were you scared to lose your closest friend?”
“Shut up.” Cora kicked him under the table again. He chose to believe she hadn’t meant to kick him that hard.
“We just wanted to clear up the misunderstanding. I’ve spoken to Derek, he’s agreed he’ll keep his distance. For now.”
Stiles didn’t like the ‘for now’ part of her sentence.
“I would appreciate it if you would be patient with him. And if you would kindly not alienate my other children. Cora is rather fond of you.”
“Mom,” she whined, hiding her face behind her burrito.
“And Laura and Eric also seem rather invested in friendships with you. Merrak has been whining about being the only one not to have seen you since our return, so expect him to show up unexpectedly.”
“Great. Is he going to play twenty questions with me, too?” Stiles asked, remembering Eric’s unending inquiries on the drive home.
“No, Merrak’s pretty blunt,” Cora offered. “He’ll ask you one question and it’ll be right for the throat. He’s a real treat.”
“You can’t blame him, he’s had to grow up with four Werewolf siblings. The sharpest thing he has is his words.”
Stiles stared at Talia, but she looked fond, like she enjoyed her youngest child’s quick wit.
“Wait, is he not a Werewolf?”
“Nah, he drew the short straw.” Cora grinned. “He’s human, like dad.”
“Your dad’s human?” Stiles asked, a little floored. He hadn’t expected that. He’d kind of assumed that everyone in the family was a Werewolf.
“Yup. Poor guy didn’t know how to handle a house full of Weres. Laura says he was sobbing with relief when he found out Merrak was human.”
“He was not sobbing with relief,” Talia insisted, rolling her eyes slightly. “He might’ve teared up, but it was only just.”
Stiles laughed, shoving another bite of pancake into his mouth and chewing thoughtfully.
He still wasn’t sure how he felt about Derek McStalkerHale, what with his sneaking into his room while he slept, but he at least felt a little better about the rest of the Hales. At least, he was positive they didn’t want to eat him right now. Maybe they were trying to lure him into a false sense of security, but that was a problem for future Stiles.
Present Stiles was just glad the Alpha mom and his friend weren’t interested in making him breakfast right now.
His phone buzzed in his pocket and his chewing slowed. He knew it was Scott, for the tenth time, and he felt bad for worrying him. He wasn’t dead yet, but Scott didn’t know that, and considering they’d stopped to have breakfast, it was entirely possible Scott had sped to the university and was now in a panic because Stiles wasn’t there.
“You can answer that,” Talia said, making Stiles jump. He’d forgotten how good Werewolf hearing was. “I’m sure your friend Scott is anxious to hear how you’re faring with the soul-sucking demons.”
Stiles laughed awkwardly, but at least she just looked amused.
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled his phone out and twisted away from them, giving the semblance of privacy before swiping on the answer button and putting the phone to his ear.
“I’m okay, Scotty. I’m having breakfast.”
“Where are you? What did they want? Are you still with them? I’ll come get you!”
“I’m fine,” he insisted with a sigh, rubbing at his forehead. “We’ll talk later, okay? We’ll grab our usual morning snack and chat then, okay?”
“Are you hurt? Are they forcing you to say this?”
“Wow, you’re turning into me. Scotty, I’m fine. I’m having pancakes. I swear. I’ll talk to you when we grab our snack later.”
“If you’re not at the coffeeshop immediately after class, I’m calling your dad, and he’ll have the whole force at the Hale house!”
“You’re the best, Scott. See you in a few hours.” He hung up and let out a small sigh, then turned back to his meal. Neither woman said anything, but Cora was smirking into her milkshake and Talia had a small, fond smile on her face.
“He’s protective,” Stiles said awkwardly in explanation.
“He’s not the only one,” Cora insisted. “Never thought I’d see the day where Jackson Whittemore would stand between you and a perceived threat.”
“Yeah, he’s pretty great, actually,” Stiles admitted with a smile. Then he frowned, something occurring to him. “Hey, how come Scott and Jackson keep saying you and Derek smell weird? Why do you smell weird?”
Cora shook her head, licking some chocolate ice cream off her lips. “It’s not that we smell weird, it’s that we’re born wolves. Not bitten. We smell different, and we can mask our scents to keep ourselves safe from other wolves. Their senses aren’t as developed because they’re bitten, so whenever Derek broke into your Jeep, or I hung around you, we masked our scents so your friends wouldn’t know we were Werewolves. I guess smelling the unknown was perceived as a threat to them because they’ve never experienced it before.”
“Yes, it’s quite common among our kind. My children often did it when they snuck out of the house so I wouldn’t know which one of them to ground.”
“Yeah, until Merrak was old enough to get bribed into tattling,” Cora muttered. “Stupid human brother, valuing money over solidarity.”
“Your brother would’ve kept your secrets, Cora, if only you’d paid him more than I did,” Talia said with a pleasant smile.
Stiles was, again, very glad he didn’t have siblings.
They were still eating when Talia asked for the bill, since they’d made good time but would definitely be late if they didn’t hurry things along. Stiles scarfed down the rest of his pancakes and got a to-go cup for his coffee, which he brought back to the car with him. He’d tried to fight to pay for his breakfast, but Talia insisted it was as an apology for scaring him into thinking they wanted to eat him.
He didn’t find it as funny as she and Cora seemed to.
The rest of the drive to school was actually comfortable, considering he was less nervous about dying now. He asked a few questions about Werewolves, since Scott and Jackson had kind of been playing it by ear, what with not having any other Werewolves around to ask.
Thankfully, they’d gotten the whole pack thing right, but generally a pack needed an Alpha, which was why they were considered an Omega pack. Still a pack, but none of them fulfilled the role of Alpha to make it a real pack. Talia said a majority of her pack was spread out across town—which was terrifying, because how many were there?!—and that apparently Parrish was in it.
“I knew he wasn’t human!” Stiles proclaimed triumphantly.
Apparently he’d been the one put in charge to keep an eye on the town during their absence. Most specifically, on someone in the town, but Cora had let that part slip and Talia had given her a sharp look for it.
Stiles was starting to think that a lot of this had to do with him. He wasn’t exactly a moron, no matter what people thought.
The Hale pack was all back in town, and they’d all noticed that Scott had made his own little ragtag pack, but he was clearly a good Werewolf and a strong leader, so no one had ever bothered him about how he was going outside the norm. To be fair, he had no teacher, and Talia very graciously offered for him to come by with Jackson whenever he pleased if he’d like to learn more about being a Werewolf.
Stiles said he’d pass along the message, though he wasn’t thrilled at the idea of their pack being disbanded, especially since he was the only human and he wasn’t sure what that meant for him. Then again, Talia’s husband and son were human and they were in the Hale pack, so he supposed if Scott and Jackson got absorbed into the Hale pack, technically he, Kira and Lydia would follow suit.
She also explained that they needed to stop putting their lives in danger unnecessarily, since a majority of the times they’d won Supernatural battles, the members of the Hale pack who’d stayed behind over the years had been helping them from the shadows. Suddenly, Stiles’ injuries and late nights seemed a lot less awesome given they weren’t as badass as he always thought they were.
Though Talia was quick to insist that Stiles was doing surprisingly well for a human, and that he should be proud of the difference he’d made in keeping the town safe. He wasn’t sure if she was just backtracking to make him feel better, or if she meant it, but he chose to believe she meant it.
When they finally reached the school, Stiles climbed out feeling better than he had in weeks, Cora following suit and wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Talia said that her husband would be the one picking them up later since she had errands to run, and told Stiles it was nice seeing him again. He waved goodbye to her and then he and Cora headed for their first class.
“So,” Cora said, sounding way more nonchalant than he was sure she felt, “still friends? Derek didn’t fuck things up irreparably?”
“I mean, he kind of did, but not with you.” He punched her lightly and she grinned. “Just tell him to stay away from me, he seriously freaks me out.”
“Trust me, mom made that stick last night. You should’ve heard her. She was so mad.” She nudged him with a grin. “But proud of you, actually. Well, proud and also annoyed. Because you faced off against someone you knew was stronger than you and you had no idea what his intentions were, but you stood up to him anyway. She said you were very brave, but also kind of stupid.”
“That’s me. Stupidly brave,” Stiles offered with a grin.
Cora shoved him again and Stiles motioned that she was heading the wrong way, since they usually split for their morning classes. She just waved his words off and walked him towards his building.
“So, answer something for me. That first day back in March when we bumped into each other, was that intentional?”
“Will you judge me if I say yes?”
“Kind of,” Stiles admitted.
“Then nope, not at all, complete accident.” She smirked at him. “I just—didn’t know how to say hi to you again. We’d been back for months and I’d never had the opportunity to touch base. I noticed you had class there in the morning, and figured if I just bumped into you, it would give us a reason to talk. It’s kind of nice having a friend who knows what I am and isn’t freaked out by it. Or me, because of who my mom is.”
Stiles cocked an eyebrow. “The Alpha?”
“Sure,” she said evasively. “The Alpha.”
“And you call me a bad liar.” Stiles rolled his eyes and walked into his building. Cora followed him up the stairs, and the second he reached the floor his class was on, he let out a shout when someone grabbed his bad arm and wrenched him across the hall.
“Ow, ow, dude!”
“Are you okay? Are you hurt? What took you so long?” Scott gave him a worried once over, then narrowed his eyes over his shoulder.
“Relax, tweedle-dumb,” Cora insisted, rolling her eyes. “Your human’s fine. By the way, we’re sharing him. Not enough humans in our pack.”
“What?” Scott asked, some of the anger melting off his face to give way to confusion.
“Long story, I’ll explain when we grab coffee later.” He turned to Cora. “You, class. I’ll see you at lunch.” He looked back at Scott. “You, also class. I’ll see you for coffee.”
“I’m not leaving until you’re in class,” Scott said, crossing his arms.
Cora rolled her eyes, bid Stiles farewell, then turned to leave. Stiles figured with her gone Scott would follow suit, but he still walked Stiles all the way to his class, and didn’t leave until he was satisfied there were enough people between him and the door.
Stiles was starting to feel like Bella again.
He supposed that if Derek was his Edward, Scott was probably his Jacob. In a non-romantic way. Not that Derek was his Edward in a romantic way either but...
He really didn’t want two packs fighting over him.
“My life sucks,” he informed the girl sitting beside him.
She gave him a weird look, and promptly switched seats.
Stiles’ morning coffee with Scott was extremely hostile. Not because Scott was hostile towards him, but because Stiles had explained the situation about the Hales and extended Talia’s invitation to train Scott and Jackson.
Scott had immediately taken it as an insult, insisting he and the others in the pack were perfectly capable of dealing with their own problems and would not take her up on that offer ever. He also took offense to the suggestion that the other members of the Hale pack who’d stayed behind were the real reason behind all their successes fighting off monsters.
To be fair, Stiles had been a little annoyed himself, and he firmly believed that their pack was just as good and that the Hale pack hadn’t helped as much as Talia seemed to think, but he knew logically that it made sense. They were all teenagers when this had started, and half of them couldn’t control their abilities.
Scott used to wolf out when he got mad at school, and Jackson was even worse, going into full Beta shift on the lacrosse field a lot. It had taken so much trial and error to get them both under control, and no sooner than that had started to calm down than Lydia tapped into her abilities. And once she was sorted out, along came Kira.
And who helped them all? Stiles, that’s who. So Stiles was in a perpetual state of trying not to get killed poking large, angry monsters that were friends when they were in control, and graduating high school. He was surprised he hadn’t gone crazy, honestly.
The worst part was that neither Jackson nor Scott had wanted this. Sure, they loved it now, but Scott especially was very distraught when he’d been bitten. While unsure, he and Jackson thought they might have been bitten by the same Werewolf—an Alpha, according to his conversation that morning with Talia. It was strange to realize someone had bitten them and then run off on them instead of being in a pack together, but when Stiles brought that up hours later during lunch with Cora, she said it wasn’t uncommon for rogue Alphas to try and amass an army.
The ones who were registered, who had gained their Alpha spark through family and not by stealing it, were content to expand their packs and live their lives as Werewolves should, alongside humans and other Supernatural beings. But some Alphas stole the power. If a Werewolf murdered an Alpha, they could steal the Alpha spark and become an Alpha themselves. But there were laws against that, strictly enforced by a Council in New York, and rogue Alphas were always hunted down to stand trial. Some were killed, some imprisoned, and some were given a year to prove their worth. If they succeeded, they were left to make their own pack, and if not, they were either imprisoned or killed.
Stiles found all of this interesting, because he’d never known Werewolves had rules and laws, and that there was a Council. It all sounded very political, and Cora bemoaned it a great deal. He asked a bit about Talia’s involvement in it—and Derek’s—but she was cagey about what she said. Stiles didn’t really understand why, but figured it had something to do with him being human and not being allowed to know this stuff, so he let it slide.
When they parted for class after eating, Stiles found it hard to concentrate. His brain was far more focussed on the Werewolves in his town than the Criminology lecture he was currently sitting in. It was almost five when his phone buzzed with a text from Cora, informing him that her father had just arrived and was going to be their ride home.
Stiles knew Scott was not happy about it, but he always worked after class so he’d been gone for hours already. He’d offered to come back and pick him up, but Stiles just said he’d be fine. The Hales didn’t seem interested in hurting him, and barring Derek, all of them had been nothing but nice to him.
Not that Derek had been mean, per se, but he wasn’t exactly in Stiles’ good books.
When Stiles left class at five, he and Cora texted where to meet up, and headed for the lot her father was parked in. It was easy to figure out which of all the cars belonged to him, considering he’d learned all the Hales had expensive taste in vehicles.
There was a pristine white Tesla parked furthest from the other cars, as if worried it would get dinged if it dared venture too close. Stiles couldn’t stop himself from grinning when Cora opened the back door and it eased upwards instead of outwards. Teslas were so fucking cool, and he was thrilled to get to sit in one.
Not that he’d forgotten the fact that he had a brand new Mustang up for grabs in his own driveway, though he still felt anxious about that. He was scared of ruining it somehow.
“Hey dad. Turd-face,” Cora said, sliding into the car on her side. Stiles followed suit, the two of them in the back since the passenger seat was occupied by the only Hale Stiles had yet to meet again since their return.
“Hey Bitch,” was the response from the front seat.
Blunt, just like Cora had said he was.
“Merrak,” Michael Hale said, voice reprimanding. “Be polite.”
“Why?” Merrak asked, sounding bored, but Stiles noticed he was shifting in his seat, like he was anxious to turn around but wanted to make sure Stiles couldn’t leap out of the car.
Once the doors were all shut, Michael turned to smile at Stiles while he buckled himself in. Stiles was behind Merrak, so it was harder for him to see him without fully turning around.
“Hello Stiles. It’s been a long time.”
“Hey.” Stiles didn’t remember ever meeting the patriarch, but he was sure he’d seen him come by to pick up Cora during their shared year of high school.
He was also right about the eyes, because Michael’s eyes were a bright green, which he knew at least two of his sons had inherited. His hair was light brown, though, and Stiles could see enough of Merrak’s head to notice his hair was much lighter than the rest of his siblings’.
When the car began to move, Merrak finally seemed to have lost his patience and he pulled away from his seat, struggling to twist around so he could look at Stiles. His eyes were hazel, so he was the most mixed between his parents’ appearances. And apparently the only human of the Hale siblings. Stiles had to wonder how he felt about that; he could relate to being the token human, but it had to be hard being the only human in a house full of Werewolves.
Well, barring his father, he supposed.
“So,” Merrak said, eying Stiles critically, “this is him, then?”
“Stiles, Merrak.” Cora motioned between them. “The asshole of the family.”
Michael sighed, but said nothing, and that had Stiles believing maybe it was true. Especially when Cora’s words were followed up with Merrak giving Stiles a long once-over before shrugging.
“He can do better,” he said, facing forward again.
“Merrak,” Michael reprimanded, looking mortified. Stiles wished he didn’t bother, he wasn’t offended or anything.
“I meant Stiles could do better, dad.” Merrak’s whole head rolled along with his eyes. “Stiles is human, which automatically earns him awesome points for being in a pack. And Cora talks about him literally all the time, so I feel like I know him better than I should.”
“Dude!” Cora leaned forward to punch at her brother, but he managed to evade her, evidently used to being abused by his Werewolf siblings.
“What? It’s true. You’re annoying, but at least you’re entertaining. And besides, Stiles sounds awesome, he can do better. He should marry someone cool, not some random lame-o.”
“Merrak,” Michael said, a note of warning in his tone. “Remember what your mother said.”
“I’m just saying that Stiles should marry someone cooler. Like Cora.”
“Dude!” Cora insisted once more, reaching forward to smack at him again. She missed, but only just this time. “Shut up! Those are dangerous words!”
“Me marrying you is dangerous?” Stiles asked with a cocked eyebrow. “I feel like we’d make a good couple.” He shrugged.
Cora turned to him, looking both horrified and alarmed. That was kind of insulting, but her words suggested there was a deeper meaning behind why she looked like that. “No! No, there will be no marrying of the Cora! You’re not marrying me! You can’t even think about marrying me! Stop thinking about marrying me! Stop it! I am off limits!”
Merrak was laughing in the front seat, clearly pleased by the distress in Cora’s voice, and she reached over to smack him again. This time, the blow connected, Merrak too distracted by his hyena impression to pay enough attention. He immediately turned to punch at her, cursing and shaking out his hand when he only succeeded in hurting himself. He bent down, digging through his backpack, and re-emerged with a book, which he promptly threw at Cora’s face.
It smacked her in the cheek because she’d been too distracted by her smugness to notice it in time to fully dodge it.
“Kids,” Michael insisted, turning to give Merrak a look before facing the road once more. “Can you please behave? What are you, children?”
“I mean, technically I still am, yeah,” Merrak offered with a grin. He ducked when Cora hurled the book back at him, the item slamming into the windshield.
“He started it!”
The deep sigh that followed suggested to Stiles that this man had seen a lot of things in his life being the father of four Werewolves and a human. Stiles pitied him, his own dad had suffered greatly with only one child.
To be fair, Stiles was a handful. He was like, eight Coras, at least, so really, his dad had gotten the shorter end of that stick.
“I’m very sorry, Stiles,” Michael said, eyes flicking to the rearview mirror to look at him. “You must think our family is a bunch of savages.”
“Actually, it just keeps reminding me I’m lucky I’m an only child,” he insisted with a grin. “Or maybe my dad’s lucky I’m an only child.”
“Oh my God, imagine two of you?” Cora grinned. “Chaos. Utter chaos.”
“My dad would still be drinking,” Stiles admitted with a deep sigh. “Poor guy, we’d have driven him crazy.”
He and Cora spoke for a few minutes about what Stiles having a sibling would be like, the earlier conversation of Cora as his future wife having mostly been forgotten. He knew it would come back to him later, once he’d had time for his brain to circle back around to it, but for now he focussed on the absolute chaos that would be his father’s life if there were two of him.
During a short break in conversation, Cora laughing and slowly coming down from a giggle fit over something Stiles had said, Merrak turned around in his seat to look at him again and spoke.
“So you’re single, right?”
“Jesus, Merrak,” Michael sighed, giving him a look.
“Right for the throat,” Cora agreed, just as predicted.
“Yes, I am single,” Stiles said. “What is with everyone’s obsession with my love life?”
“Are you single because something’s wrong with you?”
“Merrak!” Michael sounded horrified. “I should’ve left you at home!”
“What?” Merrak demanded. “He’s been single for so long, we gotta ask. If he’s gonna be part of the family, we need to make sure he doesn’t make us look bad.”
“I thought I wasn’t marrying Cora,” Stiles insisted.
When Merrak opened his mouth again, his eyes shot to Cora and he shut it again. When Stiles glanced at her, he saw her eyes were gold. She let them fade back to brown when she saw Stiles looking, but he was going to have to talk to her about this later.
Cora had almost let something slip in the diner, and Merrak was about to tell him something now. Both times a parent had been present, suggesting the quiet was their order. Stiles assumed Cora had been trying to ensure Merrak wouldn’t say something that would get him into trouble.
Stiles liked Merrak though. His bluntness reminded Stiles of his own lack of brain-mouth filter. He would probably be the most entertaining of the Hales to hang out with.
Michael seemed to recognize that letting silence stretch was bad for Merrak, because he started fidgeting and turning in his seat to look at Stiles. It was only a matter of time before he said something again so Michael filled the silence with chatter. He asked Stiles about his classes, how his dad was doing recently which suggested they’d spoken since the Hales returned, what his future plans were. He apologized about the Jeep, and alleviated Stiles’ concerns about driving the Mustang by promising he couldn’t trash it any worse than Cora had done to his BMW in New York.
It was actually kind of nice, because Michael was very normal. Stiles didn’t have many normal people in his life anymore, and knowing that this man was someone who was human but had to deal with the Supernatural every day was kind of refreshing.
The cruiser was parked outside when Michael pulled up to the curb. He bid Stiles a good night, Cora punched him in farewell and said she’d text him later. Merrak just watched Stiles with interest, like he was some kind of puzzle he was trying to figure out. Stiles just thanked them all for the ride and shut the door, heading into the house.
His dad was at the living room window sipping a coffee and wearing his uniform, suggesting he was on the graveyard shift tonight. He was watching the Hale car drive off, Michael not having pulled away until after Stiles was inside the house with the door firmly shut behind him.
“Nice car,” he remarked, turning to look at Stiles. “Didn’t know Michael got a Tesla.”
“Yeah, it’s awesome,” Stiles agreed with a grin, dropping his bag on the floor by the couch and falling onto it, staring over the back of it at his father. “Heading to work?”
“In a minute.” He sipped at his coffee, then moved over to Stiles, eying him briefly. “How’re you feeling? How’s the arm?”
“Sore, but manageable. The weekend will help for sure.”
“Mm.” He reached out with one hand to turn Stiles’ chin, inspecting the head wound he had. “That’s healing up nicely. Can probably get the stitches out soon.”
“As long as it doesn’t scar, or I’m gonna have a weird bald patch.”
His dad didn’t say anything, and he didn’t let his chin go. Stiles could imagine where his mind was. Probably somewhere dark, imagining what he would’ve done if Stiles hadn’t survived that crash. It was a fear Stiles had about his father all the time. What if something went wrong at work? What if his dad got called to a crime scene and was hurt? What if some monster came into town and the police didn’t know it was Supernatural and tried to take it out? His dad would be the first to try and protect other people, and that thought scared Stiles. It had always scared him.
“Dad,” he said quietly.
It snapped the man out of his thoughts and he released his chin, patting his cheek lightly before retreating his hand.
“Got plans for the night?” he asked, draining his coffee while moving into the corridor to head to the kitchen.
“Nah.” Stiles lay down more comfortably on the couch now that his dad wasn’t leaning over the back of it. “Scott’s out with Kira and Lydia has a date.” He hadn’t heard from Jackson yet though, and he pulled his phone out to check what he was up to.
Jackson often tended to have plans given Stiles was almost always with Scott, and tonight was no different. He was apparently going to Jungle, and while he invited Stiles to join him, he was a little too injured and tired to deal with that many bodies. When he told Jackson this, his friend insisted he was a killjoy, which suggested he was hoping for a wingman.
Not that Jackson needed a wingman with those cheekbones, but he liked having Stiles around to fall back on if someone got too handsy. Then again, the hilarity of it was that Stiles got hit on a lot when they went out, and Jackson ended up spending more time watching his back then getting laid.
Stiles assumed it was because Jackson couldn’t get drunk. A drunk Stiles was an entertaining Stiles. Also an easy target, and Jackson was protective. Well, to be fair, so was Scott. After all the conversations he’d had today, he wondered if it was because Scott and Jackson didn’t have an Alpha in their pack. Sure, Scott was their leader, but maybe the lack of an actual leader made them both extremely protective of the people that relied on them. After all, they were the only two in the pack with supernatural strength. Kira was badass and had abilities, but super strength was not one of them. And Lydia, while also in possession of abilities, as well as a brain Stiles was in love with, she didn’t have the ability to fight back as easily as the two Weres and Kitsune did.
Stiles was the lowest rank of their pack. The human with the brains and the plans, but he didn’t have anything else to fall back on. Lydia had her scream and Kira had her foxfire, but Stiles had a bat. A bat and a smart mouth.
Not to say he couldn’t handle himself, he was hardly helpless. But still, he was only human. Vastly different from the rest of his Supernaturally-inclined packmates.
“You heading out?”
Stiles glanced up at his dad, who was putting his jacket on, clearly ready to leave for work.
“Nah, Jackson wants to go to Jungle. I’m not really in a position to do that.” He shrugged one shoulder. “All good. Maybe order pizza and hang out on the couch.”
“All right.” His dad patted his pockets, as if making sure he had everything. “I’ll see you in the morning. Maybe we can grab breakfast together before I head to bed.”
“Sure.” He waved. “Be safe, make good choices, don’t cheat on your diet or Parrish and Tara will tattle.”
His dad sighed deeply but just bid him a good night before leaving, locking the door behind him. Stiles just grinned, glad to have two people watching his dad at work. Conveniently, one of them was always scheduled to work at the same time as him, making it infinitely easy to spy on his father’s eating habits.
Thinking of Parrish reminded him that he was part of the Hale pack. He wondered what he was, because he knew he wasn’t a Were, but he was definitely something. Maybe a Kitsune, like Kira.
Shrugging it off and figuring he could talk to Cora about it later, he debated actually asking her if she wanted to hang out before deciding he’d had enough Hales for one day. It felt like the longest day ever, and he’d gone through a lot of different emotions throughout it.
Ordering his pizza, Stiles pulled up Netflix and browsed through it for something scary to watch. He just felt like he needed to get his mind obsessing about something terrifying that wasn’t his actual life. It would make him feel better.
When the doorbell rang twenty minutes later, he paused the episode of The Haunting of Hill House he was on and went to answer it, pulling out his wallet. When he pulled the door open, his eyebrows shot up.
“I thought you were going to Jungle.”
“Changed my mind. Didn’t want to go alone, it’s boring,” Jackson said, entering the house with the pizza in his hands. Stiles could see another car leaving from the bottom of his driveway and figured Jackson and the pizza guy had shown up at the same time.
Stiles shut the door behind him and headed for the kitchen to grab some plates and two pops from the fridge. He also perused the pantry for some chips he usually kept hidden away from his dad, because with Jackson there, the pizza was going to be woefully inadequate to satiate both their hungers. Jackson would probably eat seven pieces, leaving only one for Stiles, so he’d need something else to tide him over later.
He could see the edge of a Dorito bag and he pulled that down, mentally reminding himself to grab more snacks next time he was out. Heading back into the living room, he saw Jackson browsing through Netflix, having turned off what Stiles was watching.
“I was watching that,” he informed him.
“Seen it,” was Jackson easy dismissal.
Rolling his eyes, Stiles set the plates and pop down, dropping the bag of chips on the coffee table. He flipped open the lid for the pizza and grabbed himself three slices to stop Jackson from eating the whole thing.
“How’re you feeling?” Jackson asked, having stopped on Orange is the New Black for a few seconds, as if debating, before continuing on to find something else.
“Good,” Stiles said. “Arm’s still kind of sore, but I took the sling off a little while ago. It’s been okay though, just a little sore.”
Jackson grunted, stopping on Dirty John and starting that up. Stiles wasn’t really interested, but he didn’t say anything about it. Jackson wouldn’t listen, and it wasn’t like Stiles had been entirely focussed on his own show, anyway. His mind was a little preoccupied.
He munched away on his pizza while they both sat in silence watching the show, his mind wandering every now and then. Evidently Jackson didn’t enjoy it much because he stopped it ten minutes in and went back to the main menu to browse what else was trending.
He did this again with four different choices, like he couldn’t decide what he wanted to watch. Or like he was antsy. Stiles knew Jackson fairly well after five years of being friends, and he knew when something was bothering him, even if Jackson wouldn’t admit it to him.
Not without incessant prodding, anyway.
“We gonna show jump all night?” Stiles asked, well into the bag of Doritos by now. “Or you gonna tell me what’s bothering you?”
“Your lack of entertainment,” was Jackson’s response as he stopped on one of the Marvel movies, seeming to debate it before moving on.
“Could’ve gone to Jungle.”
“It’s not as fun without your drunk ass there to keep me entertained.”
Stiles was silent for a few moments, watching Jackson continue to browse through the shows and movies, chewing thoughtfully on his Doritos. It wasn’t until Jackson passed Scream that he realized what was bothering him.
“Scott told you,” he said, and Jackson’s scrolling stopped. Stiles turned to look at him, and Jackson was scowling right back, as if annoyed he’d been caught.
It made sense, really. While he and Jackson hung out a lot, Jackson rarely showed up at Stiles’ house, he usually just bullied Stiles into leaving it to do something else. The only exception was pack meetings.
Usually when they watched things, they went over to Jackson’s, or they drove around town in his Porsche. Stiles’ place wasn’t one of Jackson’s favourite haunts, even if he liked Stiles himself. The running joke was that it hurt Jackson’s pride to be in a poor person’s house, which he always took offense to, but it was still funny to tease him about.
Since Scott and Kira were out together, and Lydia was on a date, it meant that Stiles would be alone if Jackson didn’t come around. So Jackson had been waiting for Stiles to touch base so that they could do something together, but when his request to go to Jungle had been turned down, the Werewolf realized the only way he was going to be able to spend time around him without explaining why was to just show up at his house.
He should’ve clued in earlier that Scott would’ve told the rest of the pack about what had happened that morning. They didn’t keep secrets, it was how people got hurt, or killed. They shared everything, but Stiles figured he’d be present for the conversation. To know the pack had met up behind his back kind of stung, but he supposed he understood. Scott would’ve wanted to share what he’d learned about the Hales as soon as possible to keep his safe and Stiles had class until five.
“You know I’m perfectly safe in my own house, right?” Stiles asked.
“Stalker Hale got into your bedroom,” Jackson reminded him.
“Yeah, and mama Hale said she’d spoken to him and he wouldn’t do it again.”
Jackson snorted, turning to give him an annoyed look, shifting so he was turned more in Stiles’ direction. “Right. And we believe this bullshit about her being an Alpha and that she only wants to help us tap into our potential. She basically kidnapped you this morning.”
“I mean—technically I got into her car of my own accord, so it’s not really kidnapping.”
“You were coerced,” Jackson snapped, clearly irritated. “I don’t like them. I don’t like when other people take my things.”
“Not a thing, and not yours,” Stiles reminded him, exasperated.
“You know what I mean.” Jackson sounded even more irritated, now. “The Hales are forcing their way into your life, and I’m not okay with that. Scott’s not okay with that. You were ours first, they have no right to try and steal you. You belong to our pack, not theirs.”
“Who said anything about me being in their pack?” Stiles cocked an eyebrow.
“That’s the endgame,” Jackson insisted, clearly annoyed Stiles hadn’t clued in to that. “They only extended the offer to train Scott and I because it meant pulling you into their pack. We’re not going to let that happen. You were ours first.”
“Man, wolves are possessive.” Stiles rubbed the back of his head, sighing deeply. He was going to need to have a sitdown with Cora and Scott about this. He’d rather Talia, leader to leader, but he was concerned how Scott would behave in that kind of situation so Cora seemed safer. But they all needed to talk and get along.
Stiles wasn’t going to leave Scott’s pack. Jackson’s possessive ‘you’re ours’ aside, this was his pack. He’d grown up with these people, and while sure he and Jackson used to hate each other, and Lydia had given him the cold shoulder for years, they’d all grown up together regardless. And once they’d gotten close, realized there were all in this together, things had really changed. Stiles couldn’t even imagine not being in a pack with them. Even if the Hales asked him to join their pack, he wouldn’t unless the others were invited, too. And if the others refused, Stiles would stick by them. He’d respect their decision, because they’d operated as a five-man team for a long time, and there was no need to fix something that wasn’t broken.
Really, the only reason Stiles wanted Scott and Jackson to speak to the Hale pack was so they could get more training. There was still so much they didn’t know, and Jackson himself wasn’t even fully Were. He was also part Kanima, which none of them understood, and despite how much research Stiles did, it wasn’t enough. He was never going to have the wealth of knowledge a pack like the Hales had.
Realizing Jackson was glaring at him for his long silence, Stiles just rolled his eyes, shoved him lightly, and promised he wasn’t going anywhere. Didn’t stop Jackson from being obnoxiously territorial all night, though. He was sitting closer than necessary, and had thrown one arm around Stiles’ shoulders at one point. Stiles knew it was a scent thing, because Scott did it all the time. Jackson only did it whenever he felt threatened, like when they went clubbing and guys started dancing suggestively with Stiles. He always plastered himself to Stiles’ back, wrapping a possessive arm around his middle and growling at whoever was trying to get into his pants. It was sweet, in a territorial kind of way.
Man, Stiles had too many Werewolves in his life, now. He hoped they didn’t start some weird scenting war, he would not be happy.
When midnight rolled around, Stiles expected Jackson to head out and go home, but he instead followed him upstairs and crashed on his bed. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it, but it was rare enough that Stiles was always a little thrown by how worried Jackson was. He obviously wanted to keep Stiles close to ensure he knew he was appreciated in their pack.
Unnecessary, but it was kind of sweet.
Less sweet when Stiles got crushed against the wall because his bed wasn’t huge and Jackson was a violent sleeper.
Still, he just tried to feel loved and closed his eyes to sleep.
Saturday was spent with the pack hanging out together at Scott’s insistence, clearly his version of trying to remind Stiles of how awesome their pack was—“See? We do pack things together!”—which Stiles would’ve appreciated more if he didn’t have a mountain of homework waiting for him.
Sunday was fully dedicated to homework and studying for his upcoming finals, and he texted Cora to confirm he would be picking her up the following morning to head to school. It would be the first time he drove the Mustang and he was terrified, but also thrilled. Because it was going to be an epic experience and he just hoped he didn’t crash it.
He went to bed early that night, exhausted over the week’s excitement, and kind of thrilled nothing bad had come to town lately. Then again, it was entirely possible the Hale pack was dealing with it all, and Stiles honestly couldn’t say he minded. It was doing wonders for his sleep schedule.
It was just a little past two when Stiles jerked awake at a sound. He didn’t know what it was at first, but then realized it was his dad cursing. He’d been working the night shift, so he should’ve been home around midnight, but being sheriff meant he spent more time than necessary at work.
He’d probably tripped on his way up the stairs again, Stiles kept telling him to use the light on his phone before he brained himself on the banister.
Deciding his father was not in any danger of killing himself, Stiles rolled over and snuggled more into his pillow, closing his eyes to go back to sleep. Then he heard the breathing.
His eyes snapped back open, because that was definitely someone breathing, trying to be exceptionally quiet about it. Honestly, Stiles probably wouldn’t have heard it at all if not for the fact that his father had gone silent and his laptop was off. It was so slight the fact that he caught it at all was amazing to him.
Sitting upright in bed, his head whipped towards the same corner he’d looked at last time and, sure enough: human-shaped shadow.
“What are you doing in here?!” Stiles demanded, heart in his throat. He managed to keep his voice down enough that his father wouldn’t hear him unless he was right outside his door. “Get the fuck out!”
Derek Hale moved forward from the shadows so that the lights from outside danced off his features, shadowing only half of his face.
“I just came to apologize,” he said quietly, evidently trying to ensure his boss didn’t find him in his son’s room. Which, really? Why was he stupid enough to even risk it?! Stiles was going to start demanding his dad schedule Derek to work all the same night shifts!
“Then do it like a normal person,” Stiles hissed angrily, scooting closer to the wall when Derek took another step closer. “During normal waking hours! After knocking on a door! And being invited in!”
Derek was silent for a long moment before saying, “I didn’t think you’d invite me in.”
“Well, breaking into my room while I’m sleeping isn’t doing you any favours on that front!” he insisted angrily. “Get out!”
It took a few seconds of angry staring from him for Derek to finally move towards the window. He slid it open, straddling it so he could climb out one leg at a time, but before he fully disappeared, he turned back to Stiles, watching him for a moment before his eyes flashed blue.
He’d never seen a Werewolf with blue eyes before. He’d never seen one with red eyes before Talia, either, so the Hales were just full of surprises. He remembered Talia saying that was how they knew Derek would be the next Alpha.
“Please don’t tell my sister,” he said quietly, almost pleadingly. “She’ll tell my mother.”
“Good!” Stiles snapped, motioning for him to shoo.
It was obvious Derek didn’t appreciate that, his face hardening and tone going cold. “I’m trying, you know,” he insisted defensively. “I really am. It’s just hard.”
Before Stiles could ask what was hard, Derek had exited his room and shut the window. Stiles kicked his covers off himself hastily and hurried to look out of it. Derek was already on the front lawn jogging away from the house. Stiles frowned after him, not understanding his comment.
He was trying? Trying what? Trying not to be a complete creeper stalker-man? Well clearly, he needed to try harder, because he was failing miserably.
He almost jumped out of his skin when his door opened and he whipped around. His father was standing in the corridor, looking exhausted, but also confused.
“Stiles? What are you doing?”
For a second, Stiles just stared at him, contemplating telling him what had just happened. But he didn’t want to drag his father into whatever Supernatural bullshit this was. Besides, he’d have to spill the beans about Scott too, and he didn’t want to do that without asking Scott first.
Also, he had an almost two-hour drive to school with Cora in the morning, so he figured that was ample time to get some answers.
“I was hot,” he blurted out, turning to pull his window open again. “Just opening my window.”
His dad grunted. “Well, get back to sleep, you have school. I’ll see you later.”
“Right. Night dad.”
“Good night kiddo.” He shut the door. Stiles listened, waiting for his father’s own bedroom door to shut, then hastily closed his window once more and locked it, wedging a textbook against the frame and hoping it would keep it closed to avoid any more unwanted visitors.
He tried to go back to sleep, but by three-thirty, it was a lost cause and he just got up and did some more homework. When his alarm went off, he moved sluggishly to the bathroom and got ready for school, figuring he could stop at the McDonalds drive-thru on his way out of town to grab a coffee.
Once he was ready to go, he texted Cora a ten minute warning, like he usually did back when he had the Jeep, and went out to the Mustang. Sitting in the driver’s seat was like melting into a cloud. It was so fucking soft, and everything smelled like new leather, and he couldn’t help but whistle appreciatively while sliding his hands along the steering wheel. When he started it, the purr of the car was so silent he was sure all his neighbours would be sobbing with joy. His Jeep was loud enough to wake the whole block, so they would probably appreciate this vehicle as long as he had it.
Backing out of the driveway, he marvelled at the power steering since the Jeep did not have that, and then started on his way down the street. He was literally awed at everything involved in the car, and hit so many buttons on his way to Cora’s he worried he might crash from distraction alone.
The radio worked in this thing. God, he loved it so much, he wanted to keep this car forever. But, he would never give up his Jeep. Nostalgia and sentimentality. Once it was fixed up, he was going to appreciate having it back even if the seats were lumpy and the radio didn’t work and he had to roll the window up and down with the crank.
When he pulled up in front of Cora’s house, she was waiting on the porch like she usually was. She grinned and jumped down the steps, hurrying to the car with her bag and two breakfast burritos in one hand. Climbing in beside him, she dropped her bag in the back since the front was definitely more crowded than the Jeep, then handed over one of the tinfoil wrapped burritos while closing her door.
“So, how do you like it?”
“I love this car,” Stiles admitted. “The radio works.”
“Radios work in most cars,” she insisted with a laugh. “Your Jeep is just old.”
“Don’t badmouth Roscoe,” he insisted with a fake glower, unwrapping his breakfast before turning the car around. It was so much easier driving with one hand in this car, the wheel didn’t require his entire strength to turn it.
They were mostly quiet while they headed out, munching on their breakfasts and listening to the weather forecast on the radio. When they neared the McDonalds, Stiles told Cora he was stopping for a coffee and she insisted they should also get hashbrowns. That was how Stiles found himself shoving fried potato into his mouth ten minutes later with a large coffee in the cupholder by his elbow on the door side. It was on the dash instead of beside him in the partition, which was weird, but easier to reach. Less awkward to pick up and put down.
When all the hashbrowns had been devoured, Stiles figured Cora would have nothing left to use as a means to avoid speaking and he let out a slow breath, trying to figure out where to start.
Eventually, he just went for it.
“We need to talk about Derek.”
“What about Derek?” Cora asked, staring out her side window, almost bored. “Did he do something again?”
Stiles hesitated, not sure he wanted to tell her, but he was silent for too long because she turned back to him and narrowed her eyes.
“Is that why you needed coffee? He came home late last night, said he was out running the perimeter. He was at your place again, wasn’t he? I knew it, what a liar!” She started to pull her phone out but Stiles reached out to stop her.
“He said something to me,” he insisted. “Last night. He said he was trying, but that it was hard.” He turned to glance at her, then faced the road again. “I don’t want to hate your brother, or be scared of him, or avoid him. Something is obviously going on, and I need you to be straight with me. Ever since your family came back, things have been weird and strained all over for me, and I really need answers before every relationship in my life is ruined. Jackson says you guys are trying to pull me into your pack, and Scott is getting mad that your family is acting like I belong to you. They were my pack first, so if you guys start making me have to choose, it’s not going to be in your favour, sorry.”
Cora pressed her lips together, clearly unhappy with hearing that, but he felt like she should understand. It wasn’t that he was trying to make her feel like she had no choice, it was just that he really wanted answers and he was tired of all the Hales acting weird around him, not to mention one of them worked with his dad, and another worked with Scott’s mom. He had to look out for his own people, too.
Letting out a sigh, Cora slouched in her seat, staring out the windshield and shrugging one shoulder. “Mom didn’t technically forbid it, she just asked the rest of us not to tell you. She wanted Derek to do it, to explain himself, but he keeps being creepy with you so the chances of you letting him anywhere near you for a conversation are pretty slim.”
She side-eyed him for a moment, like she was weighing the pros and cons of telling him what he wanted to know, then seemed to decide she could get away with it.
“Don’t tell anyone I told you, and I’ll explain everything.”
“I promise,” Stiles said quickly. God he wanted answers, he wouldn’t tell a soul. Not even Scott! And to be fair, Derek had told him to go somewhere else for answers, he was just doing as he was asked.
“So there’s this thing that happens with Alphas,” Cora said, turning a bit so she was looking at him, like she was trying to get comfortable for a long story. “It’s a purely Alpha thing, doesn’t happen to the rest of us. It can manifest over time for normal Weres, but it’s never as... intense. It’s not like, a need the way it is with Alphas. It happens with people who steal the Alpha spark or who weren’t originally born to be an Alpha, but it’s more common with born Alphas like mom and Derek.
“Mom always said that it has to do with the pressures of being an Alpha. You need someone beside you that you can lean on. Rely on, be with, share your concerns and troubles with. She says it’s like...” Cora paused then, like she was trying to think of a better way to put it before giving up and going with what her mom said. “It’s like a weird version of love at first sight. Not exactly love at first sight, but kind of a... feeling. Like a need. Rightness.”
Stiles glanced at her when she said this, his heart immediately increasing in speed. She evidently noticed, considering the look she cast him, but didn’t comment on it.
“Usually it happens when an Alpha is, well, an Alpha. When they’ve come into their skin, understand their role. Mom met dad when she was in her mid-twenties, and she knew right away that he was it for her. She said it takes a few years for the need to really sink its teeth in, but usually the Alpha and their mate have formed a strong bond by then so that it’s less of a problem. Usually by the time the physical need part hits, when things go well, they’re usually already together. Mom and dad were married by the time she started feeling that she needed him, couldn’t live without him. She got protective and possessive, and she admits, a little obsessive. It doesn’t last long, usually because the mate being there, in the Alpha’s orbit, helps calm them down. Mom said hers lasted maybe four or five months before her wolf settled and realized that it had claimed its mate and then everything was fine.”
“So...” Stiles trailed off, brain working fast. He thought back to Cora’s inquiries about him having a girlfriend or boyfriend. About Laura’s own questions on the matter. Eric’s twenty thousand questions during the drive home. Merrak’s blunt inquiry about if he was single, and that he was too good to marry someone lame and that he should marry Cora. Cora’s own panic at the idea of Stiles marrying her.
“Yeah,” Cora said in response to his silence.
“Okay.” Stiles didn’t know what else to say to that. He hadn’t even known mates was a thing. What the hell was a mate, anyway? Like, he knew that it was a sexual partner for life, but... what was it in the context of Werewolves?
If pregnancy was a thing for him, he was moving to Alaska. He’d heard enough horror stories from Melissa to know he was not interested and perfectly happy being born a man who wouldn’t have to bear children.
“How long is it going to last with Derek?” Stiles asked. “Considering...”
Cora winced. “Well, it’s different for Derek. It’s true, you know. He is trying. Mom talks to him all the time, tries to coach him through it, but it’s not the same for him. Alphas don’t usually find their mates until they’re young adults. Derek found his when he was thirteen.”
Stiles shot her a surprised look. “What?”
She shrugged. “The likelihood of it being you from the get go was high. He probably would’ve noticed you in high school, gotten interested, but managed to hold back the wolf until you were both older. The problem is, you made him notice you too early.”
“I didn’t do anything!” Stiles insisted, a little offended. He felt like she was blaming him, but the roll of her eyes made him realize she wasn’t.
“Remember that story mom told you on Friday? About Eric?”
“That was the problem. Like I said, Derek probably would’ve noticed you eventually in high school, but he would’ve been older by then, he would’ve had less of a problem with it. You both would’ve had more time. But Eric was getting bullied, and you got to him before I did. You stopped the guys from hurting him, and in the process, you caught Derek’s attention. You protected someone that belonged to him, so he was interested.
“Laura says that mom freaked when Derek came home and said he’d found someone he thought was interesting. It’s not that the words meant anything bad, it’s that mom knew exactly what his look meant. Apparently she and dad locked themselves in the study for hours arguing about what to do. He was too young, it was too early, you were ten. And to make matters worse, they found out a few days later who it was. The sheriff’s son. Your life had just been turned upside down, your dad was... he wasn’t doing well. They knew this couldn’t be a discussion to have now.”
“They were going to tell my dad about Derek being my mate?” Stiles asked, surprised.
Cora cuffed him lightly. “Don’t be dumb, they were going to tell him about Werewolves. But... it wasn’t the right time. For either of you.”
Stiles knew what she meant. His mother had died only two months before Stiles’ tenth birthday. He didn’t remember when he’d helped Eric Hale out, but he did remember being a total fucking wreck until he was about twelve. That he’d jumped in to protect some kid from bullies during that period didn’t surprise him in the slightest. He hadn’t been doing so well mentally at the time.
“So what happened?”
“They just... dealt with it.” Cora shrugged. “Mom coached him through it as best she could, but the good thing was he was still young. I mean, it was bad, but also good, because at thirteen, he wasn’t exactly itching to get into anyone’s pants. Sure, he was interested in sex and whatever, but his hormones weren’t crazy. He managed to stave off the obsession and possessiveness for a long time. It helped that mom mostly kept an eye on him and made sure he stayed as far away from you as possible, but he was actually doing really good for a long time.
“When he hit sixteen was when the problems started. His wolf was more prominent, he was getting more training and lessons on being a good Alpha. He understood what a mate was by then, and he’d known for a while already that it was you. Mom and dad hadn’t told him when he was thirteen, but by the time he was fifteen, he knew. He’d figured it out on his own. And when the lessons moved into that realm, well, it only exacerbated the problem.
“Mom had to keep a closer eye on him. She made sure Laura didn’t let him out of her sight at school, because he’d sometimes skip class to come down to our school just to make sure you were doing okay. I always had to tattle on him when he did it, I’d call Laura and tell her Derek was at my school again and she’d race down there to get him. When she graduated, I had to start calling Boyd.
“Then we both turned fifteen and went to high school. Surprisingly, he was a little better. Having you in his line of sight made him less... crazy. He could see you, he knew you were okay, he could protect you. I don’t know how much you remember Derek from high school, but he was around you a lot. He followed you around, made sure people weren’t being dicks to you, mouthed off at a bunch of guys who wanted to make your life miserable for being the sheriff’s kid.”
Stiles didn’t remember any of that. He remembered the one incident with Jackson—which made a lot of sense now, in retrospect—but that was it. If Derek had been stalking him when he was just a tiny freshman in high school, Stiles didn’t recall this.
“When he graduated,” Cora continued, “it turned into a problem again. He actually tried to fail his senior year specifically so he could stick around, but mom put a stop to it. They had a really long conversation, and she made him realize that he was going to do something irreparable. If he kept this up, being around you, he was going to snap eventually. He thought he was okay just having you close, but in the last few months of his senior year, the need started.
“He wanted to claim you, he wanted to make sure you were his, and only his, that no one else would dare touch you. But you were fifteen and he was eighteen, and he was struggling to keep control. So when mom told him he was going to lose you if he didn’t get his shit together, he finally agreed that school elsewhere was the better option.
“Mom didn’t want to let him go off on his own. There was no guarantee he wouldn’t just come back, and besides, she was his Alpha. He’s her heir, she needed to be close to him, to train him, to make sure he knew what was coming. So she and dad spoke and they decided the best thing to do was move the whole family. We had a pack meeting, mom explained the severity of the situation, and the family left for New York, the rest of the pack staying behind. They were given the most important task any Alpha can give to members of their pack. Keeping the Alpha’s mate safe.”
Cora glanced at him then, and he understood the weight of those words. He didn’t know who all the pack members of the Hale pack were, but he was starting to think that all the lucky breaks he’d ever gotten the past few years were because of the Hale pack keeping an eye on him.
The future mate of the future Alpha.
“You left Beacon Hills because of me,” he said quietly, realizing what lengths Talia had gone to in order to keep him safe from her own son.
“Derek left Beacon Hills because of you. Mom gave us the choice of staying here with dad, but Laura was already at NYU and Merrak was too young to have much of an opinion. Eric and I felt bad splitting up mom and dad, and we missed Laura. This way, we’d stay together.” She shrugged. “It sucked having to move, but we understood. We made peace with it. So we went.” She let out a small laugh. “What I said about Derek on Friday is literally an understatement. I said he was a dick in New York, but it’s more than that. He was—off. He’d changed completely, and we could all see the desperation in him. He described it as someone having ripped off one of his arms, like a huge piece of him was missing. He called Boyd every day, and when Parrish got into the precinct, he called him multiple times a day because you always used to go bug your dad and hang out to do homework.
“When Scott turned into a Werewolf and you started getting into more trouble, the pack told mom, but she kept it from Derek for a long time. She was really worried about how it would affect him, given he was already losing his mind over being so far away from you. He kept worrying something would happen to you, that you would find someone else, that you would get hurt. He lashed out a lot, mostly at mom, but it trickled down. It was a very tense and unpleasant few years, and she didn’t want it to get worse.
“He found out eventually. Overheard Parrish talking to mom and lost his shit. Actually made it to the airport before mom and dad caught up to him. He was about to get on a plane, fly back here, make sure you were safe with his own two eyes. They managed to talk him down, but only just. He made mom promise never to keep secrets from him again, and she agreed. So he was kept in the loop on everything involving you, no matter what it was.
“He hated that you had a pack, but he was glad you were safe. None of us knew who was in the pack, because ours back home didn’t know, either. They just knew you had one, and that was enough for Derek.
“When he finally graduated from university, he was the worst we’d ever seen him. The need was literally driving him crazy, and mom was worried about what that would do when we came back. So she postponed it, made him take some more courses, got him into a bunch of martial arts programs. He originally wanted to be an architect, but he ended up going to a police academy for a little over a year instead and figured that worked out. He kept insisting you had a cop in the family, so it would work in his favour. I called him an idiot, but well, whatever.”
Cora shrugged expansively then, Stiles waiting for her to continue. He was trying to detach himself from this as much as possible, because the more she spoke, the more freaked out he was getting. He just focussed on things that his brain could latch onto, like why they left Beacon Hills, why Talia hadn’t told his dad about Werewolves, why Derek had become a cop. Things that wouldn’t make him panic as much as the rest of Cora’s words.
“By the time he finished that, I was halfway through Junior year at NYU, and Derek put his foot down. He and mom had a huge fight, he insisted it wasn’t fair, that she couldn’t keep him away from you forever. He tried to argue he was ready, he was fine, he could control himself. Mom only partially believed him, but it wasn’t until Derek asked her how she’d feel if dad was kept from her that she finally relented. It had been six years, he was literally a nightmare to be around, and all he wanted was to see you. To just see you. He promised he wouldn’t touch you, he swore to mom that he wouldn’t lay a finger on you, he just needed to be able to have you within his reach.”
Letting out a loud sigh, Cora shrugged her shoulders again, crossing her arms and slouching more in her seat.
“Merrak was pissed. He’s sixteen, he’s perpetually angry, but he was halfway through sophomore year and high school is hard enough without being the new guy in the middle of the year. Laura had just finished her clinicals and had a good thing going for her in New York. She worried about the staffing levels, didn’t want to leave her current hospital. Eric had just started NYU, but he’s the chillest person you’ll ever meet, so he basically said he’d do what’s best for the family.”
“And you?” Stiles asked quietly.
Cora turned to him, smiling a little. “I missed home. I wanted to come back. Besides, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.” She shoved Stiles lightly. “I remembered the twig Stiles Stilinski, I didn’t know what the big deal was. I guess I figured I wanted my brother back, and if Stiles Stilinski was the way to do that, well, so be it.”
“So what happened?” Stiles asked, easing into the next lane over. They were almost at school by now, Cora’s story taking up almost the entire drive. “You guys all came back. Why?”
“Laura and Merrak were originally told they could stay,” Cora explained. “Merrak could live with her, and they would be able to continue with their lives in New York. It was tempting, especially for Laura, but we’re not just family, we’re pack. Mom’s our Alpha. It means a bit less to Merrak, since he’s human, but enough that he was uncomfortable with the idea of being separated from her. Laura’s anxiety was stronger, and eventually everyone caved and decided we’d all come back together. So we did.”
“Yeah,” Stiles said softly. “December, right?”
“Just after Christmas,” she agreed. “We’d literally barely gotten through the door when Derek climbed into mom’s car and sped away to find you. I don’t know when you started noticing him around, but he was there the second he was able to be. He spent a lot of time watching you the first two weeks we were here. Mom was getting anxiety about it, figured you’d think he was stalking you. Guess she wasn’t wrong.”
“Took me until March to notice,” Stiles commented.
“Werewolf,” Cora explained, offering him a smile. It slowly slid off her face and she watched him for a long moment. “He’s trying,” she said softly, repeating Derek’s own words. “It’s really hard for him. He’s known you were his mate since he was thirteen. He’s been kept away from you for six years. He doesn’t mean to be as creepy as he’s coming off, he just... can’t help it. He’s desperate to be close to you, it’s literally a physical need. But he knows he can’t do that, because you don’t know him. And now, he knows you hate him.”
“I don’t hate him,” Stiles insisted. “I just... he creeps me out.”
“Yeah, I know.” She sighed and raked a hand through her hair as Stiles took the exit leading to their campus. “He wants to talk to you, explain things, but he knows you’re too freaked out by him to give him a chance. Mom told him breaking into your Jeep and your room isn’t helping matters, but he can’t help it. He wants to be close to you, and he says watching you sleep makes him feel calm, because he knows you’re safe.”
“Creepy,” Stiles informed her.
“I know, but he is trying. He just needs more time.”
Stiles parked the Mustang in the spot he usually did the Jeep, cutting off the engine and letting out a slow breath. Cora was watching him with interest for a few seconds, neither of them moving.
“What are you thinking?” Cora asked after a moment. When Stiles said nothing, she shrugged slightly. “It’s hard to tell with you. Your heart rate is abnormally fast all the time, so when something is wrong, it’s harder to tell.”
“I have Tachycardia,” Stiles said, as if that was what they should be focussing on right then. “Means my heart beats too fast.”
“Makes sense. Also makes it hard to know what you’re thinking.” She eyed him a moment longer. “It sounds normal-ish right now, though. And I mean, looking at you, you’re taking this surprisingly well.”
“Oh no,” Stiles insisted with a small laugh. “I’m going to go have a meltdown in like, five minutes, I’m just trying to hold it together until you’re not around for it.”
Cora winced, evidently able to tell he wasn’t joking.
And he wasn’t.
This was a lot.
A few weeks ago, he found out he had a stalker. On Friday, he found out the Hale family were Werewolves. Today, he found out he was essentially betrothed to one of them.
“What if I say no?” Stiles suddenly blurted out. Cora had been in the process of taking off her seatbelt and she froze, eyes snapping up to Stiles’ face.
“The whole mates thing,” Stiles insisted. “What if-what if I wasn’t bisexual? What if I said no? What if Derek asks and I say ‘thanks but no thanks’?”
It looked like Cora had stopped breathing, and that actually made the panic bubbling in his chest rise into his throat. He could not have a panic attack with her so close, he needed to be somewhere by himself, like a bathroom or something. He didn’t want a witness to his meltdown.
“It’s—I don’t know,” she finally said, her voice very small. “It’s never happened before. Not in our family. Mates usually... it usually just works out. If you said no... I don’t know what he’d do.”
“Find someone else?” Stiles offered, her words not comforting.
She winced. “It doesn’t work like that. It’s like-like penguins. You mate for life.”
“But we haven’t,” Stiles argued. “We’ve barely even spoken. And he hasn’t—“ Stiles tried to remember the word she’d used—“claimed me yet. He can change his mind.”
“You can change your mind,” she said, very quietly, avoiding his eye. “He can’t. You’re it for him. If it’s not you, it’s no one. And I don’t know what an unmated Alpha would be like. I only know what ones who lose their mates are like. And they break. It’s awful.” She glanced up at Stiles. “I know this is a lot. And I’m not telling you this to make you feel pressured. You asked, so I told you. And no one said you had to like it, that you have to go along with it, but I guess I was just hoping you would understand how much he’s struggled with this. He’s been carrying this around with him since he was thirteen, Stiles. He’s loved you for almost half of his life, and he has pushed back on his urges so hard he deserves a medal. I know he’s being creepy, and I know you want him to stay away from you, but I guess I’m hoping you can see things from his perspective a little bit. He doesn’t mean to be like this, he literally can’t help it.”
She pushed open her door and grabbed her bag, climbing out of the car. Before closing the door, she leaned back in and pressed her lips together. “I hope I see you for lunch. If you need time... if you end up going home, just text me. I’ll get someone to pick me up.”
She shut the door and left him.
True to his word, Stiles had a panic attack not two minutes later, his mind reeling over all the information he’d just been bombarded with.
Sometimes, ignorance truly was bliss.