It was Erica’s idea, though Stiles was more than happy to take the resulting blame. A week after Derek disappeared with his sister in tow and left behind the barely alive remains of what was once his pack to Scott (psychotic uncle included) Erica dropped into the seat next to Stiles in chemistry and sighed. Stiles rolled his head in her direction and made yes, what is it eyebrow motions that he would absolutely never admit to learning from Derek. Their substitute teacher in chemistry didn’t give two shits what the class did, as long as she wasn’t bothered while she played on her phone, so Erica flopped her arms down on the desk, pillowing her head on her elbows as she faced him. She didn’t speak, even when prodded with an elbow.
“What’s wrong, Catwoman?”
She exploded with a gusty sigh. “You mean besides the fact that I almost died, Boyd almost died, Isaac probably could have died, your father was almost sacrificed, Scott’s now our big alpha daddy, the wonder twins are still around breathing our air, and the sound of Lydia’s voice almost literally brings around death? Nothing at all.”
Stiles grinned a little despite himself, the dark humor making the thought of the past weeks almost bearable. He hadn’t really slept in a week, but if the hunch of Erica’s shoulders said what he thought it did she hadn’t either.
“You know,” he said, completely ignoring the substitute as she explained that they would be watching (yet another) movie, this one about Einstein. “Sarcasm is a very flattering look for you. It really brings out your eyes.”
Erica laughed at that, loud and rough around the edges, just the wrong side of hysterical. The substitute gave her the evil eye before pointedly shutting off the lights. She looked even paler in her dark, smaller too. Stiles wanted to wrap his arm around her shoulders, but he didn’t want to lose his fingers for the effort.
“God,” she said, almost too softly for Stiles’ human ears to catch, “I just want to watch comic book movies and be a teenager for a while, you know? I’m so tired of scrambling to play academic catch-up because of a psycho group of killers kidnapped me to get at the worst alpha in history.”
And that, really, was all it took; a throw away comment, muttered wistfully in a dark classroom before she fell asleep and suddenly Stiles couldn’t leave the thought alone. When was the last time any of us have just been kids, Stiles thought to himself, staring at Erica while she dozed off for what was probably a much needed nap (he was jealous). Why couldn’t they just sprawl out for a weekend, ignore their homework and their crazy ass town, and watch comic book movies?
“Dad,” Stile said, scooting into his father’s office that afternoon. He had two salads stacked in his hands and his backpack was still slung (mostly) on one shoulder. He was exhausted from head to toe, but he was pretty sure that his dad hadn’t eaten anything, like, all day. This assumption was made since the Sheriff was still clearing up the mess from the week before. However that (rather justified) assumption was proven mistaken because when he barged into his father’s office he found the man draped over his desk with a greasy hamburger clutched in his hands.
The two stared at each other for a minute while the door swung shut behind Stiles. “This better be something other than what it looks like,” he said, with a pointed look to the bag from McDonald’s that was sitting by his father’s elbow. His father sighed, the motion causing his chest to rise and fall like an earthquake had happened.
“Son,” the Sheriff said, “I am still cleaning up the mess from last week, when I was kidnapped and held hostage? Do you remember that? Because I do, and according to me that earns me a burger. A juicy, greasy, meat burger. If you’ve got any objections, son, you can take them elsewhere, got it?”
There were two ways this could go. They could finally have that fight that was building or Stiles could give in. Or…
“One condition,” Stiles said quickly. He tried to pretend his shoulders weren’t tense and he could tell his father was doing the same. They hadn’t really talked since getting out of that stupid hole in the ground except to rehash the details that Stiles had tried to tell the Sheriff back in his bedroom with Cora. Melissa had told the Sheriff almost everything while held captive, but his dad had said he wanted to hear it from his son’s mouth and he had. Neither had been home a lot since then, Stiles’ hanging at Scott’s when he couldn’t sleep and the Sheriff working to clean up his trashed town and deal with Scott’s nosy FBI dad.
The Sheriff looked skeptical as his son’s words hung in the air, but after a long moment the man sighed and nodded at the chair in front of his desk. “Go ahead, kid,” he said. He was almost smiling.
So Stiles detailed his plan, starting, as all wheedling teenagers did, with a sympathetic cry for how hard their lives had been and how much they deserved a break. He figured his argument was a little bit more solid than other teenagers since he had literally sacrificed himself for his father, but hey, it wasn’t like he was well known to play fair. When he finished his spiel, winding down with an arm gesture that nearly knocked his father’s empty coffee cup from his desk, the Sheriff was definitely smiling a little bit at the corner of his mouth. He looked less tired for a moment and for the first time in a week (a week of nightmares, of waking up sweating and screaming, sick to his stomach as he dreamed of a dark that dragged at his ankles and kept him from saving those he loved, a week of hell that he didn’t see stopping anytime soon) Stiles thought that they might just come out of the whole werewolf mess okay.
“Sure thing, kid,” the Sheriff agreed. But then, with something approaching a wince, the man added, “Just… One condition?”
Stiles’ shoulders went from almost relaxed to tense in half a second. His heart leapt and his stomach plummeted. He braced himself for the worst. “Yeah, dad,” he croaked.
“If any of you find another body, make me your first call.”
Stiles laughed so hard at his father’s condition that he cried, shoulders heaving and hands shaking. He spilled both salads over his father’s office floor and laughed until his voice was just as hoarse as if he’d been screaming. The Sheriff watched the entire thing and was more sure than ever that Stiles was right; the teenager and his friends needed some time to just be kids again.
The only thing left for Stiles to do, after he cleaned up the spilled salad, was to convince his friends of this.