“I could use some help, your help.” Scott pulled his fingers up into a fist, trying to hide the way they’d grown claws. He hated having to come here, to commune with Derek Alpha-à-Alpha and stand in the presence of his judgmental and permanently bad-tempered betas. He regularly had the distinct sense he wasn’t even being listened to.
Erica was flipping through a magazine full of half-naked bodies, smacking gum, and Boyd was… glaring. At nothing, seemingly.
Derek wasn’t even in the room.
“I’ll consider it,” came Derek’s voice from somewhere, upstairs probably. The acoustics in his loft were strange.
“Stiles will be there,” Erica called back without looking up from her magazine.
Scott started, eyes going wide and staring down at her in confusion.
“Fine,” Derek growled. It wasn’t as loud as before but even clearer somehow.
Scott lowered his voice and hissed at her, “He won’t be there, though.”
Erica shrugged, flipping a page. “I don’t care where Stiles is or isn’t.”
Scott thought she sounded a little defensive, a little ‘methinks she doth protest too much,’ but Stiles had always told him he wasn’t very good at picking up on subtext. That even when he tried to, he usually got it wrong. He mentally shook it off. “Then why did you—”
“But if there’s somewhere you want Derek to be, there’s no better way to get him there than telling him that’s where your sidekick will be,” she finished as though Scott had never interjected. She popped her gum.
Scott ruffled a little, taking offense to Stiles being called ‘his sidekick.’ He didn’t like anyone thinking of Stiles as lesser somehow, especially Stiles. There was a more pressing part of that he needed to address right now though: “Why would that work?”
Erica finally deigned to look at him, disgust in the roll of her eyes. “What, does lycanthropy just engorge the predator part of your masculine brains to the point where you can’t even make simple observations anymore?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“My point, McCall,” she said with a scoff, glaring down at the magazine. A second later and she was gracefully springing out of her seat and flouncing away from him.
“I thought you didn’t want me to come,” Stiles said carefully. They didn’t used to be careful. They didn’t used to be a lot of things—Scott didn’t miss the way Stiles shifted his weight from his bruised side, the skin over his ribs a patchy black and gray.
Stiles flinched like he’d taken a blow. Except he didn’t, flinch anymore. Now he took hits like he’d been trained to do it. Scott hated that. He also hated that he was one of the few people who could still make Stiles react to pain both emotionally and physically. He didn’t want that much power over him, not when he seemed to keep making mistakes he didn’t even understand.
“Not because I don’t want you to be there,” he explained quickly. Badly. “I don’t want you to get hurt.” His eyes dragged over bruises, ones that were still there and ones that had long since faded from existence but that Scott couldn’t forget.
Stiles didn’t look reassured though. He looked pissed off. “That’s what happens. We all get hurt, you and me and everyone else involved. Every time. I get it, I’m human, it’s all a little more permanent with me, but short of wrapping me in bubble wrap every time I walk outside my door, it’s a reality you’re going to need to accept.”
“Or you could—”
“No. Here’s the or, Scott, the ‘or’ is that you and I? We don’t get to be friends anymore.”
Scott felt gutted. “No, that’s not…” That wouldn’t happen, couldn’t.
“Where did you think this was going?” Stiles seemed legitimately confused that Scott was taking the news with such shock. “You keep leaving me behind and cutting me out, and guess what? That leads to me left behind and cut out. I thought—” he shrugged, “I thought that’s what you were trying to tell me just, you know, without actually telling me.”
He was bundling himself tightly, hands fitted over his elbows like he was trying to make himself smaller, protect himself from a potential jolt.
“Fuck. No. I—Stiles, no. I’m never telling you that, I don’t even think that. You’re my brother and you’re not expendable and that’s why I—because you aren’t expendable, but sometimes.” Scott dragged in a heavy breath. He didn’t want to sound insulting but… he also kind of did. Because he wanted Stiles to stop. “Sometimes the way you attack a problem, you throw yourself at it like you are.”
“I’ll be careful,” he said, a grudging tug to the words.
“No, you won’t. I don’t even think you ever learned how. You’ve always been like this, except now the consequences aren’t a sprained ankle and you getting grounded for a week. Now they’re you dead in a morgue somewhere and I am not okay with that and it’s like you don’t get it.”
“I get it. I do get it, okay? I will. I’ll be more careful. I just—for a while it was that I thought if I didn’t act invulnerable, you’d realize I didn’t really… belong now. I’m not a hunter or whatever the hell Lydia is or a fucking Sleestak and… I don’t have anything to offer you.” He laughed under his breath, self-deprecatingly. “Just ask Derek.”
“Derek’s the one who wanted you there,” Scott told him, hoping that would make him feel better. He had no idea Stiles had been feeling like this and therefore had no idea how to fix it. Stiles was family. He had to know he was indispensable, didn’t he?
“Oh,” he said weakly and, again, Scott didn’t know what he’d said wrong. Then, with his brow deeply furrowed: “Derek?” He mouthed it again to himself, eyes darting up to Scott, confused. “Why?”
That’s what Scott wanted to know.
Stiles could run. He’d never liked it, always professed how pointless it was, but now Scott wondered if that wasn’t because his best friend had asthma and it was easier to just pretend he hated it so they could stick together. Maybe he should join the track team. He might get more out of it than lacrosse.
Stiles would probably think Scott was trying to insult him or, worse, ditch him somehow if Scott brought that up though.
Derek had out-streaked them both. Scott figured a lifetime of running would do that for a person.
Even so, Stiles was hot on his heels, right behind him, and their hands hit when they both skidded to a stop. Derek didn’t move his away. His chest was heaving, both of them breathing hard, and the backs of his fingers were pressed up against Stiles’, caging them, telling him to wait without words.
Scott waited too, just behind them. Stiles’ heartbeat was wild and he didn’t seem to notice how he and Derek were almost holding hands, eyes darting around frantically.
“What?” he said finally, mouth open and tongue darting out to wet his lip, because he’d been quiet for almost a minute and that was really all the silence Stiles could stand.
Derek cocked his head, listening. Scott couldn’t hear anything beyond their heavy breathing and the regular creaks and groans of a forest alive. He certainly didn’t hear the teeth-gnashing or high-pitched laugh of the snake-thing and that allowed him to bend over and actually try to catch his breath.
Neither Stiles or Derek relaxed in the slightest.
Derek’s nostrils flared like he’d caught the scent of something. He grabbed Stiles’ fingers, snatched them up with his own and tugged. “This way.”
And then they were running again, Derek letting go of Stiles’ hand only once he was sure he was going to follow.
Scott smelled the chlorine from the school’s pool about a half mile before they hit it, and then Derek was breaking the lock on the main doors, skidding down hallways and barricading them inside the boiler room. Scott rounded on Stiles as soon as they were all inside and Derek had thrown his weight up against the door. “You okay?”
Stiles nodded. “Yeah. I might vomit up a lung,” he was grasping his chest like he could physically force it to stop heaving, “but yeah.”
Derek pressed his ear to the door and hissed at them both to shut up.
Stiles flipped off his back with a roll of his eyes, still breathing harshly and leaning up against a fence that was creating a small cubby where it looked some of the school’s mowing and weed-whacking equipment was kept.
“Anything?” he asked after a minute or two had passed, expression unsettlingly serious.
Derek raised his lip in a snarl, jammed his ear harder against the wood and growled, “I can’t hear anything over that.” He tipped his head in the direction of Stiles’ chest.
It wasn’t even that loud anymore, at least not for Scott. He furrowed his brow at Derek, who pointedly didn’t meet his stare.
“Fine. God forbid I have a fucking reaction to almost getting killed.” Stiles stalked off, away from the door, eyes flinty and breathing huffy.
Derek looked slightly taken aback by the vehemence, but he wasn’t about to say anything comforting.
Scott went after Stiles instead.
“What the hell was that thing, Scotty?” He’d collapsed down against the far wall, thighs spread, hand rubbing over his hair. It didn’t drag over it as smoothly as it would’ve a month ago. This was longer than Scott had seen it in years. It was only an inch or so out from Stiles’ usual buzzcut but it felt like a statement somehow. Scott crouched down to his level. “You would think we’d have an advantage over a half-serpent thing on land, but the way it just dug into the dirt. It could gain so much more distance than us so fast.”
“It’s a Lamia.”
Both he and Stiles startled, looking up to find Derek standing there with his arms crossed, eyes on Stiles.
Stiles blinked. “Lamia? I thought those were part-lion, part-lady.”
“Stop playing Dungeons and Dragons, Stiles.”
Stiles’ scent actually got more potent, changing from something unpalatable and charred to something that was kind of like… freshly mowed grass. A smirk tilted his mouth and Derek seemed to be struggling not to mirror it. He made his lips purse. Stiles let the inclusive, almost teasing expression slip off his face at Derek’s lack of reciprocation. “They’re supposed to live in ruins, right? Or is that bullshit too?”
Derek shook his head. “They prefer them. But they’re more interested in ruined individuals, that’s what they feed on.”
Stiles’ eyes were hard and didn’t flicker away from Derek’s. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” It sounded like a challenge.
“The two of you should stay out of this.”
Scott couldn’t tell if Derek had ignored the question or if that was his answer to it.
“My Pack and I can take care of it.”
Stiles struggled to his feet and laughed exaggeratedly. “Pack Priss? Yeah, somehow I don’t think so. Erica’s so fucking apathetic she could give Meursault a run for his money, Isaac’s afraid of his own shadow and I’m not even sure Boyd is playing for your team.”
“It’s not your problem,” Derek shot back, eyes flashing angrily as he took a step closer.
Stiles did too. “Considering we’re eminently more qualified to handle it, I think it is.”
“And what qualifications do you have exactly, Stiles? What do you do? You can’t fight. In fact, all you do is slow everyone down.” They were breathing in each other’s faces, a step away from chest to chest, and Derek’s nostrils were flaring.
There was an acrid scent in the air that Scott realized was Stiles’. “You are such a fucking asshole,” he gritted out, defeated and trying not to be obvious about it, and Scott snapped out of it.
He forced himself between them, eyes red and a roar climbing up and out of his throat. He faced his claws towards Derek, who had dropped to one of his knees as though he was going to pounce.
Stiles shoved Scott back by the shoulder, forcing them to break eye contact. “No, God, you both—are you fucking serious right now? Stop it. We’re hiding from a goddamn Lamia, apparently, and you’re broadcasting our location over some idiotic Alpha pissing match.”
‘Over you.’ Scott didn’t say it, because Stiles was right. It was stupid now that he’d stopped to think. Who cared what Derek thought about Stiles? Stiles wasn’t his Pack. He was Scott’s, and he would always be Scott’s.
Stiles still smelled bad. Scott brought his hand up to the scruff of his neck, trying to cover up the scent with his own.
Derek’s eyes flashed red and back before he turned away. After a minute, he said tightly, “It’s probably gone by now.”
Stiles broke Scott’s grip and strode past both of them with a biting, “Great.”
“Maybe the world needs a culling of ruined people?” Boyd suggested blandly, licking the salt from his nachos off two fingers. He glanced around the silent loft, blinked and shrugged. “Wrong room.”
Erica threw her head back on the couch and laughed loudly. Scott couldn’t tell if it was exaggerated or not. It was unsettling.
Isaac turned away from them both, frowning into the corner.
Scott refocused on Derek. Isaac wasn’t his Pack to worry about. Since becoming an Alpha, it had clarified a few things, like where Scott’s energy should be concentrated. His own Pack, and that meant Stiles and, more nebulously, his mom and the sheriff. “If the Lamia—“
“Stiles isn’t here,” Derek cut him off shortly. “I’m not repeating everything over again when he finally scrambles in here babbling about egg-laying mammals and their internal climatology or some other useless, time-wasting ineptitude.” He rolled his eyes but it didn’t seem even half as annoyed as he was going for.
“Stiles isn’t coming.”
Scott felt distinctly challenged when Derek slowly twisted his head around, the movement measured and eerily calm, like it was covering a tsunami of emotion underneath the still surface. “You left him alone, despite knowing there’s a threat in your territory.” A tic tugged at the corner of his lips.
“What are you trying to say?” Scott’s teeth were extending down past his lower lip. “Stiles isn’t ruined.” His thoughts were blending to form an angry buzz of white noise. “You think I like bringing him here.”
It had almost looked like Derek was going to back off but as soon as those words were out of Scott’s mouth, he was roaring into his beta shift, walls shaking at the force of it, and claws slamming down on his counter in an open palmed slap. Boyd carefully cradled an arm around his nachos and slid them away from him.
Erica looked between them, bored. “If you fight McCall, are we supposed to back you up?”
“These aren’t good once they’ve gone cold,” Boyd said, pointing at his nachos. “Don’t reheat well either.”
“I’d rather not,” Isaac piped up from the corner.
Erica popped out of her seat and held Isaac’s jaw in her hand, scrunching up his cheeks, one arm slung over the breadth of his shoulders. “How can anyone deny this face?”
“Erica, just—” Derek rubbed at his forehead, claws no longer evident but nails a little long.
“I’m not going to tie myself into knots over Stiles fucking Stilinski,” she said tonelessly, expression practically a glower. “You shouldn’t either.” Her eyes flashed as they cut over to Scott. “Go away, McCall. He’s not going to listen to you now.”
“Maybe we should stop pretending like this is going to shake out into a group hug and weekly ‘Wolf Club meetings. There’s a reason Packs come with one Alpha, right? Derek can look after himself and his sociopaths in training.”
“It would just be so much easier if—”
“It would be easier if Lydia had agreed to a date when I asked her in the eighth grade, it would be easier if Peter hadn’t been out there the night we went looking for Laura Hale’s body and it would be easier if you and Derek could stand to be in the same room without wanting to rip each other to pieces. But you tried, Scotty, my boy, and that’s what matters. When the history books look back on this, it will reflect well on you, don’t worry.”
Scott snorted. “Yeah?”
“Course. They’ll call you Moderate McCall and, uh, talk about the Middle Way and other non-extremist things.”
Stiles flopped down next to him on his mattress. “I thought so.”
“So, forgetting Derek then, what are we going to do about the Lamia?”
Stiles looked over at him, eyes gauging and guarded and they were back to that careful-thing that Scott hated. “I have a plan for that, but I really don’t think you’re going to like it.”
Scott didn’t like it. Really didn’t like it.
It was happening anyway.
Scott did a double-take. “What are you even doing here?”
Derek shoved Stiles behind him without ceremony. It barely even seemed to register as anything other than a base instinct, he did it so automatically. “Keeping you from getting yourselves killed,” he snarled under his breath, not taking his eyes off Chris Argent and his plucky band of wolf pelt-collecting brothers.
The ground beneath their boots was raised, while Scott and Stiles (and now Derek and his Pack) were in a sort of valley. It didn’t look great. Unfortunately, that was part of Stiles’ plan.
Stiles had stumbled at the rough shove from Derek and regained his balance, whacking him in the spine with his open palm for his trouble. He rammed his shoulder into Derek’s as he stepped up back to his former place. “Dick,” he muttered under his breath.
“To be fair,” Boyd said, exaggerating the vowels, “I’m here because at least a couple of those extras back there,” he pointed at the men standing behind Chris, “are going to die and they actually have pretty decent wardrobes.” He leaned his head nearer to Stiles’ since he was closest and wondered aloud, not lowering his voice any, “That guy’s about my size, right?”
Stiles squinted at him. “The fact that we weren’t friends before is genuinely baffling.”
“You should leave,” Derek growled, eyes trained on Chris. His gaze hadn’t strayed from him once since he’d arrived.
Chris was unmoved by any of what he’d just witnessed, or Derek’s unspecific threat. Allison was standing behind him in the bed of a truck, arrow notched and trained on Scott’s heart. That was reassuring.
“Right,” Chris said with a laugh. “Monsters hunting monsters.” His gaze swept over the assembled werewolves (and Stiles) in front of him. “And what happens if you realize you have an ancestor in common somewhere down the line and decide to break bread with it instead?”
“Wow. Specist asshole,” Stiles said harshly, eyes flashing in the spotlights attached to the rack of the truck. “Maybe remind me again about how you’re the good guy in this equation.”
“Stop talking, Stiles,” Allison warned, mouth tight. Her heartbeat was a roar in Scott’s ears.
“I’m not sure he’s capable of that,” Chris noted. He turned his attention to Derek, then Scott. “Go home, before we find a reason to turn these guns on you.”
“And the flimsiest of ones will do, right?” Stiles challenged, taking a step forward. Scott wasn’t sure he’d ever seen him so pissed. He was literally shaking with it. “If you’d stop fucking provoking people, maybe they’d stop trying to rip your hearts out. But, no, you’d rather pretend like you’re not responsible for any of the tension here.” His eyes narrowed and he mocked, “None of it’s on you, right? Your bloodline certainly didn’t murder anyone’s entire family here, didn’t try to kill Scott, didn’t shoot arrows into Erica and Boyd, didn’t knife into Isaac’s lungs or anything. You’re right, you’re so ridiculously innocent. It’s all the animals and their sensitivities about being poisoned and tortured and caged.”
Scott heard it a second before it happened. Not enough time to stop it, not even close. Allison had loosed her arrow at Stiles, string twanging. There was no sickening thunk. Just Stiles’ hiss of, “Fuck,” copper smell, and him holding his bicep where the arrow had grazed it. Not so much a wound as a warning.
Allison had already restrung her bow but instead of focusing again on Scott, she had the tip of her arrow pointed straight at Derek.
Derek who was charging, who was going to kill someone if not her, glare red and furious and full of vengeance.
Stiles snagged him by the shoulder and dragged him back. “Derek, Derek, stop.” He wasn’t going to and Stiles got in front of him, physically pushed him back. Scott could smell Stiles’ blood, and his own. He looked down. His hands had formed fists and his claws were out. He’d practically shredded them. His muscles felt stiff when he finally made them unclench. He couldn’t look at her. “I’m fine,” Stiles was saying. He waved his hand in front of Derek’s face. “Hey, arm’s still attached and everything,” he lowered his voice so only their side would be able to hear him, “and they are just looking for an excuse, buddy.” His eyes were slits. “Don’t give them one.”
Derek didn’t back up but he did stop charging, chest heaving under the splay of Stiles’ palm, his fingers making little divots in the fabric of Derek’s t-shirt. He stared Chris down and said in a low and foreboding rumble of a voice, “Get your people out of here.”
Stiles shook his head emphatically. “No, we need them to—” there was a loud crashing into the undergrowth just beyond their clearing and Stiles swallowed, finishing: “that.”
The Lamia was a fearsome thing, knocking over men and whole tree trunks as it slithered up behind the hunters. Stiles had been right about the direction it would come from. Its tail was strong enough to whip the trucks off their wheels, hide thick enough that nothing seemed to penetrate it and, though Stiles had the dagger prepared, the general panic of Chris’ men led to it getting knocked out of his hand early on.
Isaac, Derek and Scott did get close enough to attack a few times but Scott was generally afraid his claws were going to bend before they penetrated her skin. Erica played Fruit Ninja on her phone, sitting on a newly made stump and smacking her gum. Boyd was busy stalking around the outskirts of the battle and seeing which of the hunters had the same shoe size.
The Lamia only left when it had one of Chris’ men in each hand, really seeming totally unbothered by the firefight it had just endured.
Derek wasted no time in rounding on Scott, snatching a panting Stiles up by the shoulder of his hoodie and shaking him. “If this is what you call ‘looking after your Pack,’ McCall, you need to reconsider having one at all.” He was sneering. Legitimately sneering. Scott wasn’t aware that people outside of the Malfoy family did that.
Stiles licked the corner of his lip, wincing when he tasted blood. Derek pressed a thumb to the bruise near the the corner of his eye. “Ow!” Stiles yelped, yanking his face away. “Motherfuck, Derek.”
Derek smirked, like he’d just proved his point. “You’ve got no business being an Alpha, true or otherwise.”
Whatever. He was the one who’d just purposefully jammed his finger into Stiles’ bruise.
Stiles snorted, prompting Derek almost like he was encouraging him to share in the joke. “Oh yeah, ‘cause you’re one to talk.”
“If you were mine,” his voice was rumbly again, “you wouldn’t have that.” He stared at Stiles intensely for a second before turning on his heel. Erica didn’t look up from her phone as she followed him out. Boyd was wearing one of the hunter’s jackets.
“No,” Stiles called after him, “I would probably be dead and buried by now!” He turned back to Scott with a hearty, “Fuck that guy.”
Scott’s eyes dragged down his battered face. “Maybe he’s right, maybe we should’ve—“
Stiles threw an arm around his shoulders and forcibly walked him back to the Jeep. “I did worse than this falling out of my bed last week, Scotty. He’s probably just butthurt that you listened to a puny human’s plan and it actually worked.”
Scott’s eyebrows raised.
“Okay, not totally,” Stiles amended. “But I told you the Lamia would show and it did. If Chris Argent doesn’t count as ruined, I don’t know who the fuck does.” He nodded to himself, then added wistfully, “If that hunter hadn’t gotten in the way… I really hope Boyd got something good off him.”
Scott informed him about the jacket to Stiles’ obvious glee.
They were halfway back to his house when Scott decided he had to bring it up. “What you said, to Chris—”
“I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true,” Stiles answered instantly. Like he’d been expecting it. “I know you’d change reality around just to make Allison’s life even infinitesimally better but I didn’t lie. I stated the facts. The only reason it had any impact at all is because that side of it likes to ignore them.”
Scott sat quietly in the front seat.
“I’m not trying to hurt you by saying any of this,” Stiles said earnestly, heartbeat steady. “She picked sides, Scotty. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t ours.” Scott’s hands tightened on the sides of his seat, leather groaning. “Maybe she’ll change her mind and realize the kind of people she’s aligned herself with but that’s got to be on her own.”
Scott could feel the extra point of his teeth (fangs) with his tongue. “She could argue against him just as easily.”
Stiles’ scent got heavier. “No, she couldn’t,” he said, voice just the slightest bit sharp. “The Hales didn’t burn down her house with her family trapped inside for no other reason than their genetics. Don’t say shit like that again, don’t try to compare that because it isn’t fair and you know it. You’re just lashing out and you don’t need to. I’ll accept Allison back in a heartbeat, I’ll accept her back with you even faster because you two make each other stronger and I’m not arguing against that.” Scott’s grip on the seat loosened. “I wouldn’t. I’m not saying she’s bad or evil or any of that.” He felt calmer, calmer than he had all night. Maybe even all week. “I’m just saying that, right now, she’s playing for a rival team. We’ll draft her back, when she wants that, okay?”
“Thanks for saying ‘when.’”
Stiles stopped at a light, turned and fluttered his eyelashes at Scott. “Hey, do I know you, boo, or do I know you?”
Stiles knew him.
Scott listened to Stiles’ heartbeat in the cafeteria. The deluge of noise had been disorienting even before Scott became a werewolf, back then he’d listened to Stiles’ voice because it was just as omnipresent as his heartbeat, now it was the latter that kept him completely at ease. It was accompanying the rhythm of Stiles’ story about chipmunks or string cheese or possibly chipmunk-string cheese when it stuttered.
Scott looked up, nostrils flaring, and Erica clacked her tray down on the table in front of them as loudly and annoyingly as possible.
“Derek wants you to switch teams,” she said flatly.
Stiles’ heartbeat was calm again. “I play for both, actually,” he said smartly.
Scott was confused. “You’re in his Pack, too?” This was news to him, and not the happy kind either.
“Oh.” Stiles blinked, squinting at Erica. “Is that what you meant? No. I’m sticking with my guy over here.” He jabbed a thumb at Scott and then said, utterly grave, “Sister Act, bitch.”
Scott was still confused. “Wait, what did you mean?”
“Huh? Oh, I’m bi.” He waved a hand. “Been meaning to tell you for ages but there’s just been one life or death situation after another. Also,” he stuck out a finger gun, “you know, in comparison to ‘I turn into a hairy, crumple-faced, half-human once a month’ the revelation that I want to get my hands on all kinds of genitalia just felt kind of lackluster.”
“Fair,” Scott agreed, going back to his orange.
“Derek’s hotter,” Erica piped in.
Stiles nodded, like he was a scholar accepting potentially controversial information as fact. “No argument here.” He stuck a thumb out at Scott again. “Uneven-jawed motherfucker to my right.”
“Hey,” Scott felt compelled to interject.
Stiles shrugged. “I call it like I see it.”
Erica leaned back with a huff and said with a pout, “I tried.”
Stiles gestured back and forth between he and Scott. “Please don’t stay here on our account.”
Erica didn’t move. At least not that Scott saw, but then Stiles was saying with a roll of his eyes: “Get your foot out of my lap.” He scrunched his face up thoughtfully and leaned forward. “Actually, I revise that: take off your heel and then put your foot back in my lap.”
Erica grinned sharply at him.
Boyd’s tray snapped down next to hers and he said with bland curiosity, “Are we putting our feet in Stilinski’s lap?”
Before anyone could answer, Isaac was sinking down on the other side of Erica.
“Um.” Scott stared at them all uncomfortably. “You can’t sit here.” They weren’t his Pack. He didn’t want them and they needed to leave.
Erica pointed at him and narrowed her eyes. “Regina George, you are not.”
Stiles snorted. “I’ve been telling him that for years.”
No one left.
“Where’s your other hoodie,” Scott asked, spinning in Stiles’ desk chair. It still had his slash marks on the back of it, “the red one?”
Stiles shoved his keys into the pocket of his green-gray one. There was nothing wrong with it unzipped, but as soon as it was closed it was clear that it had been made for a much more miniature version of him. He looked up, expression a little deranged in its enthusiasm for the subject. “That is the question, man. ‘To be or not to be’ is child’s play comparatively.” He lifted up his hands, spread his fingers and jazz hands-ed them down to his sides. “I would’ve sworn it was in my Jeep and nada.” He had his hand on the doorknob when he said, “Oh dude, let’s forget the patrol and you can sniff it out for me.”
Scott stood and rolled his eyes. “Dog jokes? Up with this I will not put.”
Stiles had only just opened the door when he closed it again and carefully rounded on Scott. He poked him in the chest. “First of all, I have never been more attracted to you than I am right now. I kind of want to put my mouth on your mouth, and then put my tongue all in it.” Romantic. “Second, this is the wrong time to tell you I got you a dog collar for your birthday, huh?” Scott resisted punching him. Barely. “It says ‘Stiles’ one and only boo’ on it if that sweetens the pot at all?”
Scott didn’t resist punching him that time. He was only so strong.
Stiles chewed the nail of his index finger. Dropped it down on the bench next to Scott. Brought it back up. Chewed on it again. “Jackson’s looking at us and the At Risk Youth Pack all forlornly,” he said after a bit, eyes on the subject in question. He squinted against the glare of the sun, shrugged. “I don’t think he knows which he wants, but he’s got his pouty, I-suck-dick mouth on about it.”
Scott gaped, shoved his shoulder into Stiles’. “Tell me you’re not attracted to Jackson.”
“Is it attracted if I just want to have violent, toe-curling hate-sex with him?” Stiles looked at him like he was genuinely curious as to the answer.
“So, so gross,” was the only one Scott had.
“Don’t worry, I go back and forth on it. Today, unfortunately, we’re a little more in the ‘I’d hit that’ camp.”
Scott squinted over at Jackson too and surmised, “He can probably hear you.”
“Serves him right for eavesdropping then.”
“Has Lydia talked to you about how he’s handling the kanima stuff?” Scott hadn’t even thought about Jackson since that night with Gerard. Jackson wasn’t his Pack, some animal part of his brain reminded him. He didn’t have to think about him.
“You mean used me as her supernatural outlet? I don’t know, I don’t take her calls anymore.”
Scott gawped at Stiles’ profile. Stiles purposefully didn’t look back. “Why not?” he asked a little breathlessly. This was unprecedented territory right here. Stiles had been tripping all over himself to do anything and everything for Lydia Martin for as long as Scott could remember. He thought he was allowed a little shock and awe.
“Because that was an accurate way of putting it?” Stiles suggested, seeming somewhat annoyed, but Scott didn’t think it was with him. “She’s using me and, as it turns out, I do have a small reserve of self-respect. Very, very small but still technically in existence. I mean,” he grinned darkly, “I’ll let myself be disrespected for all kinds of causes but Lydia Martin complaining to me about her Scaly boyfriend does not happen to be one of them.”
Scott could feel a growl vibrating low in his chest and said throatily, “I really don’t like her.”
Stiles looked at him in surprise. “You like everyone.”
His voice hadn’t picked up any from the low octave. “I don’t like people who treat you like that.”
Stiles grinned at him but it softened into more of a smile. “Thanks, Scotty.” He flipped his hand over, placed it on Scott’s knee and wiggled his fingers. “Should we hold hands now? I feel like this is a hand-holding moment.”
Scott knocked his hand off with a laugh and noted how much shinier Stiles’ scent got. He called him Kaylee as they parted ways in the parking lot. Stiles tilted his head to the side in confusion but smiled anyway.
Stiles picked him up in a pink Power Rangers t-shirt. He snatched up the cotton fabric over his chest with a thumb and forefinger and said, smiling and waggling his eyebrows, “Did you get me this? ‘Cause thanks, man, I really—“
Scott looked over at him, confusion furrowing his brow. “No, I—” He took a deep inhale, nostrils flaring, and his eyes bled red faster than they ever had before. “Stiles. Take it off.” He slurred out the command past fangs. He could barely stay in his seat.
“What? You want like a strip thing or just a—?”
“Stiles,” he was not joking, he was so beyond not joking, “take. It. Off. You smell like—you need to—just get it off.” He was losing his fucking mind and he was about to just rip the thing off of Stiles, to hell with any damage he did to his Pack member in the process.
“Okay, okay, shit.”
“Pull over,” Scott barked, sharp. He would run. If necessary. He would run before he—before.
Stiles yanked off his hoodie and the shirt all at once, extricated the latter and tossed it out the window. He didn’t need to be told to put distance between them and it and drove to the next intersection, turned down a side street and stopped again.
Scott’s chest was heaving and the scent was still there, hanging between them and he was filtering his breaths through clenched fangs but it wasn’t good enough.
“Ew, are you gonna throw up on—” Stiles’ eyes widened in realization. “Oh my shit, was it wolfsbane or—”
Scott threw himself at him. He jammed his nose into Stiles’ neck, pressed his forehead to his jaw, rested a hand over his hair.
“Um,” said Stiles.
“Derek,” said Scott.
Stiles pointed to himself, pressing a finger to his bare chest over Scott’s shoulder. “No, uh, Stiles.”
“He—he was trying to make you smell like him. He’s trying to claim you,” Scott snarled, breathing in unadulterated Stiles-scent.
“As his Pack.”
Stiles blinked and said dumbly, “I’m your Pack.”
“I know that,” Scott growled, shoving his face harder into Stiles’ neck, running his nose up the column of it. Stiles shivered. “He’s challenging me.”
Stiles leaned back against the car door and let Scott scent mark him, the way Derek had tried to. Eventually he pulled out his phone and played Words with Friends with someone he’d (never actually) met playing WoW. His arms were resting over Scott’s shoulders when he asked if ‘Jumanji’ was a proper word. Scott didn’t think so and Stiles said, “This is very homoerotic, just for the record.”
Scott leaned back. “Yeah.” He held out his hand. “Give me your hoodie, you’re wearing my shirt.”
Stiles perked up. “Any chance it’s got the pink Power Ranger on it?”
They made a pit stop at Derek’s.
“You put your stench on me. Scott almost died,” Stiles exaggerated with an intense flail. “Have you no shame?”
Derek shrugged, only the tense of his shoulders giving away the he cared about any of this at all as he pulled a power drink out of his fridge. “Maybe if he realizes his Pack is under attack,” his glare cut over to Scott, upper lip raising, “he’ll start protecting it.”
“Stay away from Stiles,” Scott commanded, eyes flashing red. Derek had his own Pack, why couldn’t he just butt out of Scott’s already? If he’d wanted Stiles that badly then he should’ve bitten him while Scott was still an Omega. He was just crying over tipped cows now, or whatever that expression was.
Derek moved into his space and snarled, “You’re not my Alpha, McCall.”
“Hello,” Stiles said from the sidelines, “can we all observe and appreciate the fact that I am fine and this is a totally pointless exercise?”
Scott ignored him. So did Derek. He was willing to fight if it meant getting Derek off his back finally.
“It’s best to just let them have it out,” Boyd said. He was eating gummy worms like that was a perfectly acceptable thing to do at midday on a Sunday.
Erica’s shoulders bounced in Scott’s periphery. “Maybe one of them will finally kill the other and solve the whole issue.” She didn’t sound either concerned or excited over the prospect.
“Did you make popcorn?” Stiles asked incredulously
Isaac shoved a handful into his mouth and said messily, “It felt appropriate.”
Stiles sat down on the bar stool next to Boyd and munched on popcorn while Scott and Derek solved nothing.
Stiles leaned on his lacrosse stick and said impatiently, “All right, fuckface—douchetail?—whose Pack do you want to be in?”
Jackson’s brows lifted. “What.”
Stiles pointed at him. “You can’t be a Lone Lizard, that sounds lame as hell so pick. The one that would give you an STI if it could?” He gestured between himself and Scott. “Or the one that’s gonna get you a perfect attendance certificate, probably.”
“Wait, so we’re squeaky clean and they’re dangerous?”
Stiles shrugged, picking up his lacrosse stick and gently bopping Scott in the chest with it. “Face it, that is kind of the dynamic. You look like a Catholic school boy, Scott, trust me, I’ve had the fantasies and you fit the uniform well.”
Jackson rolled his eyes. “Would you two just fuck already?”
“Excuse you,” Stiles threw an arm over Scott’s shoulders and squeezed, “our bond is so much more than sexual. Stop trying to cheapen it because that’s all you know.”
“But it is sexual?” Scott wondered aloud.
Stiles looked at Scott with heavy disbelief. “You’re telling me I’m the only one who feels that? Hah, like I buy that, Scottober.” Jackson was looking at the both of them with distaste and Stiles jabbed him with his lacrosse stick quite a bit harder than he had Scott. “Whatever, Jackson, pick a side already.”
“Stop freezing Lydia out.”
Stiles actually startled at that. “Excuse me?”
“She needs someone to talk to and Allison is—”
“Allison’s what?” Scott interjected, feeling like there was a hook in his stomach.
Jackson looked over at him for the first time in a while and said flatly, “Not it.” He turned back to Stiles. “Answer her calls.”
“Are you choosing us then?” Scott asked.
Jackson picked up his own stick and stalked off.
“Dick,” Stiles summarized before they took their own places on the field for practice.
Both Scott and Stiles twisted around in surprise at the back door of his mom’s car opening. Lydia bustled inside and settled down in the backseat before bouncing over to the middle so she could easily talk to both of them. “You could have told me about the Lamia,” she said simply.
“Who did tell you about the Lamia?” Stiles asked, one brow arched high up on his forehead.
“Allison,” she said obviously.
Stiles pointed a finger in his face. “Scotty, only start it if you can stop it.”
Scott deflated. It had proved to be a good rule for them.
“Do you have the rosemary and priest’s blood?” Lydia piped in from the backseat.
Stiles held up the rosemary in one hand. “Yes,” the vial of priest’s blood in the other, “and yes.”
“What makes you think it’s going to show up here?” Lydia asked curiously, scooting forward.
“Nothing. Except it’s a correctional facility,” Stiles shrugged, “it’s a best guess.”
Scott tilted his head to the side, listening to the snap of a few twigs. He put his fingers under the handle of the door, stopped before he’d opened it to say, “I think I’ve got something.”
Stiles saluted him. “Follow your nose, Toucan Sam.”
“How long have you been waiting to pull that one out?” He closed the door before Stiles could retort.
He could hear Lydia talking before he was even out of sight. “You stopped talking to me,” she noted, almost clinically.
“Yep,” Stiles agreed. His fingers drummed damply and out of tune on the dashboard. “I get it, I was weird with you and overstepped all over the place and inadvertently tried to ‘nice guy’ you. And it was inadvertent, by the way, I was just clueless and following bad examples but that doesn’t mean you got to be cruel back.”
“Yeah, I’m a liar too, okay, so that’s fooling exactly no one in this car.” His voice dipped into seriousness. “You knew how I felt about you and you still wanted to talk to me about your boyfriend problems like I was one of your girlfriends. And fuck you very much for that.”
“Felt?” Lydia asked archly.
Scott was moving out of range of them but he couldn’t help but strain to hear.
“Yeah. I respect the hell out of you and I still think you’re ridiculously attractive, like, you hit every button I have but I don’t really like you. I thought I did, that since so much of you was a mask, what was underneath was probably just as great as the massive IQ and dry wit but it’s not. Or, well, it is,” Stiles quickly course-corrected. “I mean, you don’t suck or anything as a human being. You’re a good person, you just don’t complement me and my person well at all.”
“I know,” Lydia said, almost like she was proud of that. “I was always kind of surprised you didn’t.”
“Catching up now.”
“Well, now that’s sorted,” she said with a peppy breath, “you should stop avoiding me.”
The crunches of something moving heavily and wrecking ball-style through the woods were crystal clear in the sudden silence.
Lydia broke it after another minute of waiting for Stiles’ answer. “I’ve always wanted a friend like you,” she said primly. “You’re loyal and kind of… puppyish in your eagerness. I want that.”
“Kind of insulting but okay,” Stiles said under his breath. Lydia couldn’t hear it but Scott could. Louder, he said, “Right, and you always get what you want.”
Isaac ran right into him.
Scott didn’t even know how.
He was pretty sure Isaac was the one he was tracking with his clumsy, ungainly walk and he’d somehow circled around, lumbered off balance and clambered directly into Scott. “There’s a root there,” he said, face a splotchy red, pointing at uneven dirt.
Scott was pretty sure there wasn’t even a root. “Why are you here?”
“Do you mean existentially or this particular area?” Erica asked from behind him, making him jump about three feet. She was pulling a thread out of her shirt’s hem.
“I could give a stab at answering either,” Boyd said, looking up from where he was sitting on a log, stretching out his legs. He was wearing the dead hunter’s jacket still.
Scott rolled his eyes and walked back to the car. The rest of them fell in line, despite the facts that Scott didn’t want them to and he was not their Alpha. Who was already at the car, leaning up against a tree trunk just outside the glow of the headlights.
Scott ignored him and got back in the driver’s seat.
Lydia blinked like she was surprised to see him.
Stiles opened his mouth just as Boyd climbed into the backseat. Closed his mouth. Opened it again and laughed loudly. “You are seriously that bad at coming up with your own plans?” Boyd hadn’t closed the door and Stiles noticed the rest of Derek’s Pack hanging around and correctly pointed out, “Uh, there is not enough room for everyone in here.”
“I was just leaving,” Lydia said happily, getting out of the car and, presumably, going back to her own.
“And I can always sit on Stiles’ lap,” Erica said with a sharp smile, leaning her upper body in the door.
Derek’s snarl was immediate and intense (Scott swore he could feel it rattling his spine) and Erica was dragged back out with a clawed hand on her shoulder.
When she popped back in the car, there was fresh blood (and no wound) on her neck and she was saying sourly, “Or not,” as she budged up next to Boyd. Derek squashed in next to her, glaring at everything.
Isaac was the one who ended up sitting in someone’s lap: Boyd’s.
The Lamia never showed and two hours later Stiles concluded the evening with: “Well this was an odd and tense stake-out courtesy of the Hale Pack.” Scott thought that was a pretty accurate summation. “We’ll be using different coordinators for our next event, no offense.”
Derek got out of the car and opened Scott’s door too, motioning for him to do the same.
As soon as he did, Derek growled in his face, “Stop taking him out to the middle of the woods.” Derek advanced on him. “You’re practically begging for something to come and kill him.”
Stiles pushed Derek hard in the shoulder, making him back up a step, having gotten out of the car as soon as Scott did. “Hey, at least Scott talks to me rather than about me right in front of my face.”
Derek didn’t even look at him (proving Stiles’ point) and stayed fixed on Scott. “I mean it, McCall.”
Scott’s eyes flashed red and he knew his voice was deeper, more his wolf’s than his own when he bit out, “I’ll deal with my Pack without your input. Thanks, Hale.”
Stiles clapped him on the shoulder proudly. “Oh, yeah. You just got served an oh-snap sandwich with a side of sarcastic gratitude.”
Scott shook his head. Tense, serious moment here and Stiles was saying things like, ‘oh-snap sandwich.’
“Aw, now I kind of want him too,” Boyd said forlornly. It was legitimately the most Scott had ever heard him emote before. He held out his jacket, staring at Stiles. “I could find you a jacket like this one, I bet.”
“I really think you have a career as an accelerated grave robber,” Stiles told him earnestly. Then he was talking to himself. “Does that term work? Because you’re stealing from dead bodies but before they even get buried, which is just good business sense. Not to mention, a time and energy-saver. Maybe a pragmatic posthumous reappropriater? Damn, I was doing well on the alliteration till that last one.”
“Makes me sound entrepreneurial; I like it,” Boyd decided. “Tell you what, I’ll even try to get you something without a lot of blood stains.”
Stiles clutched at his chest, scrunched up his face and said melodramatically, “Bro, my heart.”
And it was really impossible to have any kind of serious conversation, or even a semi-serious verbal sparring, with those kind of nonsense antics going on not even a foot away.
Lydia called and told them what they all should have already known, really. “It’s Jackson.” She barely had enough breath to say the words. “Stiles, it wants—”
Stiles’ mouth started to form a, ‘Whuh—’ shape and then he was saying, “Oh my God.” His wide eyes flashed over to Scott because of course it was Jackson. Messed up enough to become the kanima, of course the Lamia would believe he was ‘ruined.’ “Where? Lydia, where is he?”
“The lacrosse field, I think he’s at the lacrosse field.”
“Okay,” Stiles burst out the word into the phone, “okay, we’re on our way there. We’ll get him.”
Scott swung the car around and gunned it. They weren’t far and they were breaking more than a few laws.
Stiles grabbed his shoulder and dug his fingers in. “I know we’re to the climax here, man, and we’re speeding dangerously and I’m totally on board with the ‘fuck Stop signs’ thing we’re doing and I can 100% admit that it would be better and more dramatic if it were raining but you should still probably drive on our side of the road.”
Scott couldn’t exactly argue with that.
He got to the field before Stiles. But Isaac got to the field before him. Scott did a double-take at him standing there. “Isaac, what the—”
“Uh, I was the one tailing you today,” he said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck and hovering near the parking lot where Stiles was preparing the dagger with the herbs and the blood.
He poked his head around the back of the Jeep long enough to ask, “Seriously, what is wrong with you guys?”
A car squealed into the space next to him, high heel coming down on pavement.
“Lydia, you weren’t supposed to—”
Lydia slammed her door closed and then jumped at the sound it made. She looked frazzled, stressed and half-screeched, “I wasn’t going to not come!”
Both Scott and Isaac dropped down and slammed their hands over their ears. Stiles winced and said tactlessly, “Jesus, wow, shrill.”
Lydia didn’t have a chance to react before another car was slamming to a stop and—“Allison?” Scott spouted in shock just before she hopped out.
“Holy fuck, what is she doing here?” Stiles asked, half-exasperated and half just full-on panic.
Lydia sniffed, lifting her chin in the air. “I called her too.”
“Oh my God.” Stiles swiped at his sweaty forehead with his elbow, plaid fabric soaking up the sheen. “This is a clusterfuck, isn’t it?”
“Stiles, the knife,” Lydia hissed.
He held it up and Derek snatched it out of his hand with a confident, “I’ll take that.”
Erica looked up from her phone and said blankly, “Hey, Stiles.”
Stiles laughed, sounding half-mad. “Sure, bored pleasantries now because why not?”
Boyd pulled his phone from his pocket, sliding up his text messages, and glanced over at Erica. Who had apparently been texting… him. “Yeah, the Taco Bell is 24-hours. We’ll talk Derek into burritos after this. He’s a sucker for constant complaining.”
She looked up at him with wide eyes. “I thought you wanted nachos?”
“I eat nachos one time and somehow it’s become a staple of my entire existence.” Boyd threw up his hands even as he walked off to go find the Lamia and, probably, certain death. Statistically. Stiles was always saying that anyway. “Maybe I’ll even get one of those Cantina bowls, what do you think about that?” he challenged.
Stiles blinked after them like he couldn’t even process what was happening. “Well,” he said blandly, “Derek took the knife. Should we hang back and do nothing?” He held Scott’s gaze for a second and huffed. “Ugh! Fine, we’ll go do the hero thing. Being friends with Peter Parker is so much worse than being friends with Wade Wilson. I should have best friend-ed better but, no, I had to go with the first loser I met in the sandbox. Damn this incredible loyalty of mine.”
“I’m not going to let anything happen to you,” Scott told him seriously.
Stiles finally glanced over at him in sheer surprise. “Uh, duh. Why do you think I feel comfortable monologuing off into what is, statistically, our certain death? I’d die for you first though, man, just for the record. I mean, I’m the sidekick so that’s the way it’s going to go down too.”
Scott could hear the fight happening a ways away but felt it was much more important to make sure Stiles understood exactly where he stood. Scott grabbed him by the arm and tugged him to a stop. “You are not my sidekick, you have got to stop think—”
“No, man. Okay, we were both thinking about this wrong. It’s not an insult. Do you know how much you have to believe in someone to be their sidekick? I mean, yeah, you often die for them but you also live for them and what they’re trying to accomplish. That’s a big fucking deal.”
“So. What you’re saying is… we’re each other’s sidekicks?”
“No, I—” Stiles’ expression suddenly brightened and he knocked Scott in the shoulder with his fist. “Yes, dude, that is exactly what I’m saying. We’ll get you some spandex, man. You are seriously going to pull that look off. I’m going to rock a cape, fuck The Incredibles, it’s a statement thing.”
Jackson wasn’t dead by the time they showed up. That went in the plus column. Chris Argent was zero percent helpful. That was in the predictable column. Derek had lost the knife. That went in both the negative and predictable columns.
Stiles told Scott the total tally behind the bleachers.
“Does he know where the knife is?” Scott asked.
“Negative, Ghost Rider.”
“So, basically, we’re running around looking for something shiny yet also covered in goop so we can use it to kill a giant half-snake thing who’s trying to kill this comparatively moderate-sized lizard thing we’re semi-fond of and that you also sometimes want to hate-bang?”
“You’re so good at summations, dude. I’m leaving those to you from now on.”
Scott smiled at him proudly. “Thanks, man.”
Stiles held up his fist and Scott pressed his own against it. They dropped them together at each of Stiles’: “One, two, three, break.” Then they did, crouching along the bleachers and running in opposite directions.
Stiles found it first, right before the Lamia found him. Scott threw his body on top of him as a shield and hissed when her talon dug into his back. Allison helpfully distracted it with an array of arrows. “Dude,” Stiles said breathlessly.
“That was not a tickle,” Scott said with a groan, rolling off him.
“Got it, though!” Stiles said happily, holding the knife aloft and nearly nicking Scott with it. “Er, sorry about that. I’ve got stabbing on the brain. It’s a good thing,” he tried uncertainly.
“Let’s just go kill it.”
The Lamia was staring down into the bleachers, trying to get at Isaac, who was using said bleachers as an obstacle between himself and certain death. Jackson ran into them running the wrong way. Stiles caught him by the shoulder and turned him right back around, dragging him in close and saying conspiratorially, “So. This thing wants to eat your face off or whatever it does to its victims.” Jackson flinched. “And we need to get close enough to stab this into its heart so I’m thinking… bait.” He squeezed his arm painfully tight around Jackson’s shoulders.
“Not a fucking—”
“I know that kind of sounded like he was asking.” Scott let his eyes bleed red. “We weren’t asking,” he clarified around fangs.
The distraction worked. For about five minutes. And then the Lamia got a whiff of the rosemary and Stiles tripped over his own feet and the thing was barreling down on him and the knife slipped out of his hand and it was all suitably dramatic and junk and Scott was having this moment of complete and utter panic when Derek dug his claws into the thing’s tail and got her attention.
She rose up, screaming in this horrible falsetto and Stiles dragged up the knife from the dirt and jammed it into the underside of her jaw before she could whirl on Derek.
Talons found his face and chest and he yanked it out, redirected, and stabbed it right into her heart with a hefty, terrified, “Shit, shit, shit.”
It died right on top of him and nearly crushed him to death. Which Stiles noted, after Scott had pushed the thing off of him (with Derek’s help): “Would’ve been un-dashing as fuck.”
He was still trying to breathe normally when Scott noticed Boyd sitting down on the grass, legs spread out and pressing the sole of his boot up against a dead hunter’s to see if they had comparable shoe sizes.
“He’s hurt again,” Derek said gruffly.
Stiles was. The thing had only managed to cut him pretty shallowly but still, yeah. Scott glanced around the field and saw he was talking to Lydia. And Allison. He was safe.
“But you saved his life.”
Scott’s gaze snapped up to Derek’s. “Did you think I wouldn’t?”
Derek’s eyes were shadowed and he didn’t answer before Stiles was bounding over.
He clapped his hand on Scott’s back and grinned into his face. “Hey, did you want to scale one of these trees, hang upside down and do the Spidey kiss with me? You know what your heroics to do me, man, and I would totally Spidey kiss the fuck out of you right now.” He looked up into the cloudless, dark sky with a squint. “Oh damn, but—seriously, the rain is not helping us out today!”
Derek frowned, looking kind of… sad and resigned and left with a grunt, back to his own Pack.
Scott stared at his retreating back, then blinked over at Stiles. Stiiiiiiles. Stiles. And… really? Stiles?
Stiles glowered after him and said distastefully, “What the fuck is that guy’s deal?”
Scott blinked at him again. “I think I’m finally starting to get it.”
“You’re alone there, man,” Stiles said truthfully. He craned his head back, indicating the thin and shallow slices from the thing’s talons on his neck. “Hey, think this’ll scar?” Scott didn’t have the heart to tell him no. “This is gonna get me so laid,” Stiles decided, turning back around and stopping. Scott stopped too.
Everyone else seemed to have dispersed and Lydia and Jackson were having a… moment.
“Um,” Stiles said, “let’s not interrupt the… whatever the hell that is. Lizard love.”
He proceeded to pretend to be patient, twiddling his fingers and humming Starships under his breath, while Scott couldn’t help but hear Lydia say almost angrily, “You are not ruined. Though your brain is clearly smaller because it’s reptilian now. Which means you can be convinced of idiotic things that only the mentally handicapped and lizards would believe.” She crossed her arms under her breasts, shoving them up higher, and tossed back her hair. “I only accept the best of the best, Jackson. If you were ruined, we’d have to break up.”
Jackson was smirking, but not meanly. “I thought the demotion to co-captain would’ve done that.”
Lydia sniffed. “I learned to accessorize too well with green before that.”
“You really don’t care?”
“Of course I care,” she said furiously, voice going slightly shrill. “My skirt is never going to match anyone else’s scales. That means something to me even if it doesn’t to you.”
Stiles sighed and Scott worried that maybe he could hear them after all and he was having to listen to Lydia choose Jackson all over again, when he said bitterly, “Now it starts raining, really?” And Scott noticed the slight sprinkling. “Ugh, this day, Scotty, not working with me at all.”
Scott snorted. “Hey, you totally got to do the heroic thing. You looked badass.”
Stiles brightened. “It would’ve looked even better with a cape though, huh?”
“Are you going over to Derek’s Pack?”
Stiles spit his lacrosse glove out of his mouth and asked incredulously, “What?”
Scott shrugged. “You smell like Boyd.”
“Boyd’s entrepreneurial and semi-helpful. Plus, he got me these kicks free of charge.” Stiles held out his sneaker in front of him and flexed it proudly. He put his foot back down and asked more genuinely, “Do you seriously think I’d desert you? You’re the wind beneath my wings, man. Don’t make me start singing because I will.” This was Stiles so it was rarely completely genuine. “Granted, it’ll be Don’t You Worry, Child but still… melodic.”
Scott formed his fingers into a fist and let them back out again. They were human through it all. “Sometimes it just feels like—like I could lose you. Like Derek could convince you, to be with him.”
“I have literally no idea what you’re talking about. Derek and I aren’t even friends, let alone some kind of werewolf parental unit to his furry, dysfunctional family.” He squirmed on the bench next to Scott and dragged his sleeve down over his palm. “And even if I wanted—which I don’t!—he wouldn’t… I mean, seriously, are you paying any attention? He hates me, dude.” Scott opened his mouth but Stiles wasn’t done. “And I love you anyway, man, just waiting for you to wise up and put a ring on it.” He grinned.
It wasn’t until Finstock had dismissed them for the day and they were gathering up their things in the locker room, that Stiles sat down next to him, bumped their shoulders and said, completely genuine: “If there’s a Pack, then I’m in it with you, okay?”
He left before Scott could respond, which was not all that surprising truthfully.
There were pretty much only three places Stiles ever went and as soon as Scott had sussed out that he wasn’t at school, at home or hiding in Scott’s own house, it was pretty obvious where he had to be. Finding his Jeep at the Hale house was the ultimate in unsurprising. Seeing Derek grab Stiles under the armpits, slam him back up against said Jeep and jam their mouths together definitely was surprising. Stiles let out a shocked sound but didn’t once try to pull back.
His hands flew up to grab at Derek’s neck, his hair, dragging him in to kiss him back, thighs coming up to frame his hips since Derek was holding practically all of his weight, and just hearing it was… yeah, not great. Obscene, even. Slick and groan-filled and obscene. Scott had only ever heard Ms. Adelman say that word, and that had been in reference to a half-naked Allison climbing out his window, but it felt totally appropriate to this moment and what was—Mm, half-naked Allison.
“I get it, all right.” Derek dragged him back out of his head, voice gruff and Stiles breathing hard against him, into his mouth really since they had barely broken away from each other at all. Derek had Stiles’ wrists pinned up next to his head, Stiles’ hands forming loose fists, and Stiles’ thighs up around his waist. “Scott’s your Alpha.” Derek leaned back in, pulled a hand away and levered Stiles’ chin up with his thumb, brushing their mouths together. He breathed against his skin, dragged against red lips, and said softly, “So figure out what I am to you.”
Scott pulled to a stop in front of the Hale house. Lydia’s car was a few yards away, which meant she and Jackson were already inside. Good.
Stiles turned and stared at him like a deer caught in the headlights.
Scott rolled his eyes. “This is what you want,” he said simply. “Instincts aren’t intelligent and Derek and I shouldn’t be letting them control us. We’ll make this work.”
Stiles groaned. “There’s no way this isn’t ending in a bloodbath, Scott, seriously—”
“Do you really think I’d make you choose?” he interrupted.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve told you before that it isn’t a choice,” Stiles pointed out smartly, “it’s always going to be—”
“You’ve never made me give up anything to be friends with you. I don’t get it,” Scott admitted, “he’s Derek, you know, but you won’t ever have to give him up for me either. If we have to rewrite history to make this happen? Then so what. We’ve done more difficult stuff,” he knocked Stiles’ shoulder, “remember the zip-line at Camp Willow?” Stiles snorted. “I trust you, I trust your judgment, your taste in dudes is kind of worrisome but I accept that too because what other answer is there? You’re my brother. Sometimes that’s not convenient but it always is.”
Stiles dropped his head back against his headrest and let out an explosive breath. “I think it’s serious. Or that it’s going to be, eventually.”
Scott nodded gravely. “He’s your Allison, man, I get it.”
“Oh my God,” Stiles said, wide-eyed and blank, “he might be my Allison.”
“Yeah, it gets worse before it gets better.” Scott opened his door and was walking up to the porch with Stiles when he stopped on the bottom step and said, “Oh, also.” He grabbed Stiles’ hand, knelt down, and took a Ring Pop out of his pocket. He opened the plastic with his teeth and shoved the lollipop ring halfway down Stiles’ fourth finger.
“Dude!” Stiles said gleefully, ripping his hand away from Scott and modeling the ring for himself. “You put a ring on it!” he enthused. “I suspect this is just because you don’t want me to do the Single Ladies dance anymore, but I accept.”
It was only half for that reason. He sat down on the top step proper and Stiles sank down next to him agreeably. “It’s just… I’m still your Alpha no matter how inclusive we get with all this.” He waved his hand around his head and waggled his eyebrows. “Or how interested in Derek’s… dic-tates you get.”
“Oh my God, I don’t even think I want to marry you anymore,” Stiles said with a disappointed moan. “The wedding’s off.” He half-turned his head and shouted into the house, “Derek, let’s bang already! Preferably on the ruined dream that is mine and Scott’s engagement.”
Derek walked out onto the porch after a few seconds and asked the perfectly reasonable question, “What the hell are you talking about?”
Stiles stood up, wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck, whose hands in turn came up to frame Stiles’ hips so easily it was like it was muscle memory. Stiles squinted. “Banging, Cabo, living life on the lam, sex on the beach, having a pet chinchilla, eloping, you making me a peanut butter sandwich later. You know,” he rubbed the flat of his nose up Derek’s stubble, “the usual.”
Derek grinned against his mouth, kissed him softly. “Oh, is that all?” he asked as he walked them both back inside.
He was so grotesquely smitten with Stiles that Scott was almost embarrassed for him. No, strike that, he was embarrassed for him. If Derek was Stiles’ Allison, he didn’t even want to think about what that made Stiles to Derek.
Speaking of—“Scott?” Allison asked carefully. She swallowed like she was gathering her nerve, every movement cautious. Scott hadn’t even heard her pull up. Doing a quick scan, he saw that her car wasn’t nearby. She might’ve run here. “I was hoping we could talk?”
“I just proposed to Stiles with a Ring Pop,” he said stupidly, idly noting that Stiles was still wearing it even as he made out with Derek inside.
“Oh, I—” she started, her brow furrowing as though she’d just caught up to what Scott actually said. Then more confusedly: “oh.”
“You won’t have to watch him do the Single Ladies dance again is what I’m saying,” he said quickly, amending, “If you came back. If you wanted to.”
“It was half the Thriller dance,” Allison said.
She took a step closer. “It was upsetting.”
“I’m not arguing.”
She stopped her advance, head cocking to the side, and smiled. That wonderful, beautiful, forget-your-troubles Allison-smile. “No, you’re not,” she breathed, as though she’d just realized it, biting her lip.
“Because I love you,” he said. Because that may be an oldie, but it was still a goodie.
Her cheeks infused with pink and she said again, but so, so differently: “Oh.”
Scott held out a hand to her.
She took it.
“Brace yourself for meeting some very odd people,” he told her, “and try not to judge them too harshly because they’re about to become your Pack for life.”
The forget-your-troubles smile was back and she said firmly, “I can handle it.”
Scott believed her.
It took Stiles a year and a half to find his red hoodie in the bottom of Derek’s dresser. The resulting meltdown was actually pretty damn entertaining. Even Erica looked up from her phone long enough to watch it, so, yeah.