There wasn’t anything that could surprise Danny Jepson these days. There had to be something in the water because it was downright strange in Beacon Hills. The power couple broke up, a relative nameless peer became co-captain of the lacrosse team, people who usually barely spoke to one another started to hang out.
Well Danny prided himself with his smarts and this was no different. He knew that something was up. He just didn’t know exactly what it was. He just knew nothing would surprise him.
When Jackson Whittemore had come up to the school holding a limp Lydia Martin in his arms, screaming for someone to call 911, Danny thought that there must be something bigger going on in his best friend’s life than he had mentioned. This was bigger than just being angry at Scott McCall, this was bigger than just his parents treating him different, this was serious.
He could barely stomach the sight of Lydia, covered in blood and possibly not even going to make it to the hospital. He’d been outside with his date, but when he registered what was going on, he called 911 as fast as he could manage, begging them to hurry.
He’d never seen Jackson like that, torn up and shaken. When the ambulance left, Jackson right behind it, the teachers tried to get the students to stay but no one wanted to. The cops were trying to get statements, trying to figure out whom or what attacked the girl, but no one seemed to know anything.
Danny wanted to know too, but something told him that no matter what this was, Jackson wasn’t going to divulge it. He’d have to figure it out some other way.
After the dance, things almost went back to normal with Danny and Jackson. They hung out, talked about things that weren’t Lydia, even played video games a few times. Although it was normal, although they were doing things they’d been doing for years, it also felt different somehow.
Maybe the way that Jackson talked about things, nonchalant and flippant in a way that didn’t convince Danny. In a way that probably didn’t convince Jackson either. Maybe it was the fact that Danny had seen Jackson with that Hale guy, the once accused murderer.
They were playing a video game, trying to knock the other out of focus to win, when Jackson grabbed Danny’s wrist a little harder than necessary. It was overkill, he was going to win anyways, but he grabbed Danny’s wrist and he felt it pop.
“Shit Jackson, let go.” Jackson dropped his hand, staring at his own hand in confusion as the sounds on the television told them that Jackson had won. He backed away a little, turning back to the screen and hitting a few random buttons on his controller.
“What was that?’ Jackson shot Danny a look, clearly trying to tell him without words that they should drop it. Only it wasn’t Jackson’s wrist that was almost broken, it was Danny’s.
He finally sighed, shooting Danny a look before pausing the game.
“It’s nothing, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. It was an accident.”
Danny opened his mouth to ask what was going on, because things like that don’t happen on accident, but his phone started to ring next to his bed. Shooting Jackson a look, he moved over to where it was and glanced at the caller ID.
Nothing good ever came from a phone call from Stiles Stilinski. Still, he answered.
“Hello?” There was a moment of silence before Stiles spoke where Danny vaguely imagined hanging up.
“Danny, I need a huge favor.”
The last time that Stiles had asked for a favor, it was for them to study at his place. His “cousin” had been there, only Danny was pretty sure that Miguel was actually Derek Hale. And maybe he should have tried harder to deny Stiles on the hacking, although the more Derek took his clothes off, the more Danny was willing to do.
Besides, he hadn’t done any major hacking in a while. He kind of missed it.
“What do you need?” There was another moment of silence, rare for Stiles. His words were quick and almost ran together, but Danny caught the gist of it.
“I need you to come pick me up on West Forest? I need a ride and no questions, if possible.”
Danny narrowed his eyes towards Jackson, who was staring at the television screen as if it was very interesting but it wasn’t moving, just playing the paused screen over and over again. West Forest was near where Hale lived.
“Sure. I’ll be there in a few.”
He hung up, grabbing his keys and sliding on his shoes.
“Sorry man, I have to run out and visit somebody. We’re not finished with this though. We’ll talk later.”
Jackson got up, letting his controller hit the floor before stomping off towards the door.
“Fine. I’ll see you at school.”
He slammed the door and Danny thought he heard the door shake but he knew that couldn’t be right.
Things weren’t adding up anymore.
Stiles was sitting on the side of the road fiddling with his phone when Danny finally pulled up. He'd called to tell Stiles that he was close only a few minutes before. The other teen looked upset from the distance, although once he saw Danny's car, Danny could see him physically forcing himself to smile and look carefree.
"Thanks man. You can't imagine how many creepy people have asked if I needed a ride." After an exaggerated shudder, Stiles dropped into silence. It was strange, Stiles being quiet. It had taken Danny just short of ten minutes to get to where Stiles had been waiting for him. Wherever he had been, however he got there, someone had to have been with him at some point. Where were they now?
Not that Danny hadn't already decided that Stiles had been with Derek Hale. It was only a matter of confirming it.
Stiles was doing his best to ignore Danny, looking out of the window and rubbing his hands over his legs as if trying to get the feeling back in them.
"Thanks again man. If you just drop me off at the school, my car is there." Danny nodded, wanting to ask Stiles about why he was out on West Forest and why he didn't drive out there himself, but Stiles had asked for a ride and no questions, so he'd give that to him. Only he did want to ask something, even if it only vaguely dealt with why Stiles was all the way out here by himself.
“I have a question.” Stiles jumped, tearing his eyes away from the scenery passing by.
“Shoot.” At that, Stiles' eyes got wide and he blinked a few times, as if expecting Danny to call him on it. Instead Danny waited a minute before asking his question.
“Jackson’s been acting really weird. With everything before the dance and now things seem almost worse. You wouldn’t happen to know why, would you?”
This must have caught Stiles off guard because there was a moment when his face became very animated before it went completely blank, nose scrunching up in thought before he shrugged. Something about the whole thing felt off to Danny, but he wouldn't call him out on it. Not yet at least.
“I mean, he’s always been a little unhinged. And the dance might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back or whatever. Plus, don’t you think you should talk to him about it? Jackson and I aren’t exactly tight. I thought he was your best friend or whatever.” Danny shot Stiles a look at that because it was a pretty low blow, even if the other teen didn't know everything they'd gone through lately as friends.
“He is my best friend, but that doesn’t mean he tells me everything.” Sometimes it meant he didn't tell him anything.
From the corner of his eye, Danny watched Stiles wince and turn back to look out of the window again. He was thinking about something, thinking hard on it with his eyebrows furrowed and his fingers tightening against his leg. Whatever it was, it wasn't pleasant, so Danny left Stiles to his thoughts. When they pulled into the school's parking lot, with Danny pulling up next to Stiles' jeep, he thought he was going to have to wait for another opportunity to spring the questions on Stiles. Instead Stiles didn't jump for the door, stared at Danny in thought before speaking.
“I’m sure he’ll be okay. Jackson.” Danny offered a surprised nod, even though he knew who Stiles was referring to without him having to state it. As Stiles started to get out, Danny decided he needed to say something and grabbed Stiles' arm to stop him.
“I only asked because I’ve seen Jackson around with Hale lately and that’s who was in your room, not your cousin. And because I just had to pick you up on the outskirts of the Hale estate.”
He felt Stiles freeze under his hand and he pulled it back, not wanting him to think he was threatening him in any way, because he wasn't. He just wanted to know what was going on.
“Yeah, I uh, I know Derek. We’re not tight or anything, just acquaintances. Didn’t know that he and Jackson were… I think you should maybe talk to Jackson.”
That gave Danny a pause and he narrowed his eyes, knowing he'd caught Stiles in a lie.
“I guess I find it strange, that you’re not tight or anything with someone that was in your bedroom.”
Danny knew the exact second that Stiles realized what he'd said and what it meant.
“Oh. That. I mean, you were in my room. You and I aren’t exactly tight, are we?” Which was true, even though Danny liked Stiles well enough. He was a little hyperactive sometimes but he was a nice guy, smart and funny when he wasn't being an idiot.
“Yes, but I wasn’t putting your clothes on.”
He let that sink in, watching an array of emotions pass over Stiles' face. Danny knew he'd been conned into doing the hacking, using a shirtless Derek Hale as a bribe, but Danny... well, his dating pool was made up of guys his age and they just... didn't make them like that. Not even Jackson, who Danny could admire aesthetically without wanting to pounce. Derek? Well he was aesthetically pleasing and Danny wouldn't mind pouncing on him.
Before he could even think of anything else to say, Stiles was half out of the car door.
“I’ll see you at school. Thanks again.”
He waited for Stiles to get into his jeep before starting his car again. He was pretty sure he'd gotten an answer; he just didn't know what to do with it yet.
His offer to help Stiles with lacrosse actually had little to do with Danny wanting to know what's going on and thinking that he could get it from Stiles. Not that Stiles was the weak link, because he wasn't sure how they all fit together but he knew Stiles wasn't the weak one there. He just thought that if Stiles knew something was up, he'd want to help in any way he could.
If Jackson was doing something stupid, which Danny was now certain he was, he really hoped that Stiles could help him. He obviously couldn't do it himself.
So he offered his help to Stiles, wanting to be a nice guy and knowing that Stiles had potential if he could harness it into something useful. And if his helping Stiles made Stiles want to help him? That was even better.
When Stiles had showed up a few minutes late, not devastatingly late considering Danny had only been there for a little while, he'd been surprised and worried when Stiles had said he'd been at the hospital. He was known for being kind of accident prone, although hospitals hadn't been involved in a while. But when he said he'd been visiting Lydia, Danny had been very surprised. He wasn't aware past their date to the dance that they'd even been friends.
Really, he wondered what else he'd missed.
Instead of asking any questions, he decided to do what they came there to do. He hadn't picked a field near Derek Hale's land on purpose, it was one he'd gone to for late night practices over the summers, but he could tell something about the location bugged Stiles. To get his mind off of it, they started on footwork.
They worked hard for a while; going over and over on the things that Danny knew was beginner stuff. Stiles wasn't bad at lacrosse, but sometimes everyone needed to revisit the beginning. When they moved to being able to take a hit, Danny hadn't even thought about telling Stiles to wear a helmet. He hadn't thought they'd need it, they were only working on falls, but this was Stiles and he was accident prone. Really, Danny should have planned ahead for it.
It shocked him though, as he rolled off from where he landed on Stiles, because the other teen seemed to be having some sort of a fit. Danny kept calling Stiles' name, trying to get him to snap out of it. His hand moved on its own, slapping Stiles' face lightly a few times before landing a slightly harder slap.
"Stiles? Answer me!"
His sarcasm came back, which had to mean that he wasn't too seriously injured, but Danny knew first hand that concussions weren't something to mess around with, so he helped Stiles limp to a better position, listening to Stiles ask about whether or not Danny found him attractive.
It was a question he'd been asking Danny about once a week for the last few weeks, but he mostly refused to answer. If only to mess with Stiles' mind.
They called Scott and Allison to come get Stiles, since neither of them wanted to leave Stiles' jeep parked near the woods unattended. While they waited for the other teens to show up, Danny found himself wondering if it'd be okay to talk about Jackson again.
“If you knew that there was something wrong with someone, something big, would you tell someone? If they were in trouble and could hurt themselves or someone else?” He could see the surprise on Stiles' face as he shrugged, avoiding Danny's eyes and kicking at a few rocks near the tire of his jeep.
“I mean, I guess it depends? Maybe. Lots of unknown factors that aren’t known.”
Stiles shrugged again after speaking, turning his attention to his phone. Danny watched him, watch as his fingers hovered over something on the screen. A name, a text, a picture, Danny wasn't sure. Whatever it was, it seemed to cause Stiles a lot of internal conflict.
“I think Jackson is doing drugs, steroids.”
The noise that Stiles made wasn't very... human. It was sort of a cough mixed with a laugh mixed with a snort mixed with a wheeze. It took him a few minutes to gain his breath, but Danny waited. There had to be a reason for that reaction, it was too suspicious on its own.
“Jackson? Drugs? No. All that hostility is just grade A raging douche bag. And he’s only better on the field because of god given talent, although I heard a rumor he might have sold his soul to the devil for his talent. Personally I thought he’d have sold it for his looks, but you never know.”
It probably spoke volumes about Danny that despite this being an important topic, despite Danny being completely suspicious of Stiles' involvement, he latched on to one specific part of that rant.
“Are you saying you think Jackson is attractive?”
Stiles looked downright twitchy at the question, more so than when Danny had been questioning him about Derek Hale in the car the night before. That was interesting.
“Did I? Must have missed that.” Danny stared at Stiles for a moment before making a noise in the back of his throat.
“I’ve always gotten this vibe from you.” He said it partially because it was true, partially because it was fun to fuck with Stiles sometimes. He waited for his reaction and wasn't disappointed.
“What? Really? Dude, I’ve only known for a little while, how have you always had a vibe about me? Couldn’t you share or something? Damn man.”
Danny's eyes widened because he hadn't expected an answer, hadn't expected anything. He wasn't sure how he felt about basically tricking Stiles into giving that away, kind of felt guilty, but it was out now.
“So you are? You’re gay?”
Stiles looked so confused, so lost, that the guilt doubled. He never wanted to put someone in that position. He knew what that felt like. But Stiles' surprised him once again.
“Listen I’m not… I don’t know what I am, but I don’t want it public knowledge that I’m not… I don’t want… which isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with…”
Danny couldn't help the smile that came with that.
“I’m not going to out you. I’m just glad to have confirmation.”
Something about Stiles changed and he started to look a little like a caged animal.
“You uh… you wouldn’t happen to have some sort of gay crush on me, right? Because I’d be flattered but I’d have to let you down.”
The laugh started low and just built up. He couldn't keep it in and every time he glanced at Stiles and saw his offended face, he went off again. No, he didn't have a crush on Stiles. Hell, he had a boyfriend, although they weren't dating as much as just seeing each other. But he was taken, and Stiles was... Stiles. Not that there was anything wrong with Stiles but all the same.
“It’s not a crazy leap of judgment. I’m a catch, damn it!”
And as Danny tried to let him off easy, tell him he wasn't his type, he heard Stiles yell back that it wasn't an answer on whether or not Danny found him attractive.
He might, but he wasn't ever going to admit it. Now he kind of understood why Jackson liked messing with Stiles' head. The reactions were priceless.
For a brief moment when Stiles had been rambling about his love life, the confusion of whether or not this guy he had feelings for returned them, Danny thought Stiles might have been talking about Jackson. Maybe that could explain why Jackson had been so weird.
But then Danny realized that Stiles called his mystery guy abrasive and not just annoying, so he knew it wasn't Jackson. It did shorten the list of possibilities though, although there was one...
But no, it couldn't be. Not even Stiles would... but then again...
Practice about a week later was when everything finally hit its breaking point. Jackson had been using Stiles as a crash test dummy and it was starting to get to Danny. Stiles hadn't done anything to Jackson, at least not that Danny knew. And the hits kept getting worse. Stiles was wincing, holding his sides, every now and then he looked close to tears from the pain. There was being a dick and then there was actively trying to hurt someone. Danny had finally had enough.
When Danny stepped in to stop it, standing up for Stiles, Jackson had turned on him like he was being viciously attacked. Danny remembered his friend's hand on his wrist, the bruising grip of it. The heat in his eyes now as he yelled at Danny, calling him Jepson as if he didn't warrant his first name anymore, felt like the end of the spear.
He was done. He was so done with dealing with Jackson's mess, whatever it was. If his so called best friend couldn't give two shits, why should he? So he looked down, tearing off his gloves and stalking off the field. He was tired of trying to be the better man, of trying to be there for Jackson while he did whatever it was he was doing to make himself more volatile than usual.
He wasn't even surprised when Stiles showed up behind him. He was loyal in a way that was probably unhealthy. The shit he put up with sometimes was amazing in how shitty it was. So it didn't surprise Danny when Stiles came up beside him because Stiles was loyal and after that display of loyalty on Danny's part, Stiles would feel loyal to him too.
It'd be the beginning to a good friendship if Danny trusted Stiles, but he was keeping something from him in the same way that Jackson was and Danny wasn't sure how he felt about that.
His offer for a massage was nothing sexual, because he liked Stiles and might find him vaguely attractive, but he wasn't attracted to him. He did it for all of the guys, the ones that were comfortable with it. Danny's mom was a massage therapist and she'd taught him a few things. He liked it, could see himself making a career from it in the future maybe.
He knew when something changed, could feel the tenseness he'd been working out of Stiles' shoulders come back. Worried he'd hurt Stiles, he asked if he was okay. Stiles shot up and it forced Danny to look up too. Derek Hale was standing in the doorway, staring between the two of them as if he'd just walked in on... well, something other than just Danny giving Stiles a massage. He passed Stiles' his shirt, which the teen had been looking at as if it would appear on him by sheer will alone, but he refused to leave when Derek told him Jackson was waiting for him.
“It’s okay Danny. You’re within screaming distance. My virtue is safe.” Danny shot Stiles a look because while the words could have been taken jokingly, there was something else there, a wanting that Danny wasn't sure he heard correctly until he saw Stiles' face and then looked at Derek's. He looked half as surprised as Danny felt.
“Okay. Let me know when you’re heading out, okay?”
Even if Derek was the one that Stiles had feelings for, which Danny was pretty sure was true, he didn't trust the man. So Stiles nodded and Danny walked into the hall where Jackson was standing.
"What?" Jackson looked at Danny, eyes downcast and face pale. He looked stricken, scared almost.
"I need to apologize, but before I do that, I need you to come with me somewhere. It'll help explain everything."
If Danny knew that somewhere meant Derek Hale's house, if he knew that Scott McCall and Allison Argent and Lydia Martin would be there, he might not have said yes. When Stiles came in behind them, he was confused. What did this have to do with Jackson acting different? What did this have to do with drugs or whatever else was going on?
As they explained what was going on, as Danny grew more and more angered at their games, he found himself angrier at Stiles than at Jackson. But then Scott... shifted. His hair grew longer, his eyes started to glow, his teeth...
Danny left with Jackson, since he had ridden there with him. His car was still parked at school. Werewolves existed, his best friend was one. Stiles knew. Scott was one. Allison's family hunted them. Lydia was... no one was sure what Lydia was. Derek was one.
Jackson had been quiet as they navigated the roads towards the school in the dark. Not that Danny had been offering any topics of conversation, because he didn't know what to say at this point. Before he knew it though, his mouth ran away with him.
"Does the bite hurt?" He wondered if this was how Stiles felt, with the look of incredulity that Jackson shot him.
"It doesn't matter."
"I'm just asking Jackson. Don't you think after the way you've behaved I deserve something?" The noise that Jackson made was either a growl or a scoff. Either way, Danny was offended.
"You aren't getting the bite Danny."
Not that Danny had been thinking about it, although now he was, but why did Jackson get to tell him what he was or wasn't going to do?
"Get your head out of your ass Jackson. I asked because I was curious about what you went through, about why you turned into such an asshole. And if I want the bite, I can get it. It isn't up to you."
Jackson leaned back against his seat, throwing Danny an angry look. They were back where they'd been before, with Jackson trying to control everything in ways that he never was able to before. Becoming a werewolf obviously hadn't done anything for Jackson's misplaced control issues. He pulled over on the side of the road, sitting there quietly as they were both lost in their own thoughts.
"I didn't mean it like that. I just don't want you to do something you might regret later is all."
Danny stayed quiet for a moment after that, watching Jackson's fingers as they tightened on the steering wheel intermittently.
"Do you regret it?"
Jackson glanced over at Danny before looking back at the road, mouth opening before snapping shut. A car sped past them, tires squealing as it took a turn up ahead.
"Was that Derek's car?"
Later they'd hear about Stiles' car accident, hear about Derek rushing him to the hospital. For now they continued to the school, both feeling a little better about where they stood now.
With Stiles accident and then later his kidnapping, Danny could see how much the group... the pack... supported each other. Every if they pretended not to, even if sometimes it felt more like pulling hair than being there for one another, they were there.
Sprawled out in a field with Stiles long after everything happened, studying for chemistry and listening to Stiles complain about compounds, Danny decided it was as good a time as any to talk about the important things.
“I’m thinking about asking Derek to bite me.”
Words barely out, Stiles started to choke next to him, having to roll over onto his stomach so that he wouldn't choke on his spit. It wasn't attractive at all.
“Warn a guy next time.” Danny stayed quiet and Stiles rolled over to face him fully.
“Are you serious?” He had to shrug because he was serious, he'd seriously been thinking about it for a while.
“I’ve been thinking about it since you told me, to be honest. Jackson wasn’t happy when I mentioned it to him a few weeks ago.” After that first conversation with him when he first found out about werewolves, Danny had only mentioned it once before and Jackson had once again told him he wasn't sure it was a good idea, that he shouldn't just think he knew what it meant. Jackson actually admitted that he hadn't believed Scott when he said it wasn't as easy as it seemed. Not for the first time, Danny wondered if Jackson regretted his decision to get the bite.
“Your life will be different. You’ll never have a normal life after it. It kind of defines you. I mean, Scott’s dating a hunter’s daughter, Jackson and Lydia are both vaguely wolfy and have been circling each other like vultures for weeks. Your dating pool will shrink extensively. You’ll smell like a wet dog when it rains.”
Danny laughed loudly, shutting his text book and giving Stiles a look.
“What about you? You're human, you‘re not exactly dating a member of the pack although I have serious suspicions about you and Derek. Don’t you think about getting the bite so that you have more in common with them?”
Stiles coughed, obviously stalling for time and searching for the right words. His cheeks colored, either at Danny's suspicions or at whatever he was thinking.
“I’ve thought about it, but I don’t want to do it just so that I fit in. I’m totally okay with being human and annoying and super smart, I don’t need all the extra that comes with it. But listen, if you’re really serious about it, maybe you should talk to Derek about it?”
The thought of talking to the alpha about getting the bite was a little daunting, but Danny knew it was the best course of action.
“Guess it can’t hurt, can it?” With a laugh, Stiles resumed his sprawled out position from before.
“I don’t know, from what Scott and Jackson told me, it hurts like a bitch.”
His talk with Derek had gone... oddly. He drove to the man's house and knocked on the door. When there wasn't an answer, he moved to go back to his car, but he saw the werewolf in the corner of his eye and jumped. Not because he was scared, just because he hadn't heard him sneak up.
"Hey Derek." He sniffed the air a bit before jerking his head towards the side of the house. Used to the odd way the alpha acted, Danny followed him. There was a mangled picnic table leaning against the side of the house that Derek sat down at. Danny followed suit, shifting uncomfortably under the intense gaze.
He wasn't sure how Stiles handled this sometimes.
"You're here for a reason."
It wasn't a question, but it rarely was with Derek. He either already knew or he was just certain that whatever it was, it needed to be done with quickly. Danny took a deep breath before launching right into the heart of the ordeal.
"I've been thinking about becoming like you, getting the bite. Stiles thought it might be best if I talk to you about it first."
Derek continued to eye him, measuring him up maybe. Danny waited in silence, waited for whatever would come next.
"I can tell you what you'll expect, what it means. It'll be up to you to make the decision; no one should make it for you." Danny wondered if maybe Derek knew how hard Jackson was pushing for Danny not to get the bite. He thought about it, looked down at his hands as he contemplated it.
"I want to know."
So Derek told him. They sat there for an hour talking, with Danny asking questions and Derek answering them as best as he could. It must be hard, to be the alpha and be so young himself. His pack wasn't made of born wolves but made, and that had to be difficult. Made wolves, teenagers. It couldn't be easy for the man.
"Take your time to decide. There's no rush. Come to me when you decide, either way."
They walked to Danny's car but when he got there, Derek put his hand on his shoulder and stopped him for a moment.
"No matter what you decide, you're part of this pack for life. Human or not. You don't need to prove yourself to us."
It had to be an alpha thing that Derek knew that Danny had been questioning himself. He nodded his understanding before getting in his car.
He was going to think about it, he wasn't going to make any hasty decisions. From what he knew, pack was for life. He could say no and change his mind, but he couldn't say yes and change his mind. Or he could, but he highly doubted his ability to kill Derek. Even if he did, they weren't completely positive that he'd be cured. He might become the alpha instead. So instead of rushing into it, Danny thought about it.
They weren't going anywhere.