“Do you remember kindergarten?”
With an amused expression Scott looked over to Isaac, his shoulders lifting up in an ambiguous answer. Isaac hadn’t turned when he’d asked his question and he’d caught Scott off guard, and now all that was visible in the low light of the foyer was his angular profile. Like always, Isaac was almost impossible for Scott to read.
“Was that a question?” Isaac chuckled. His head tilted a little, nostrils flailing in the slightest. Scott could almost feel the way Isaac was scenting the air, searching for something that Scott couldn’t figure out. But then his eye caught the way that Isaac’s adam’s apple bobbed, and he felt a little dazed. It was a feeling that had been creeping up on him recently, especially when Isaac was near. “Well?” Isaac pressed, and Scott flushed.
“I mean,” Scott struggled to say, “a little, I guess. I was six. I remember snack time, and we had these awesome cots that folded away from the wall in the back of the classroom that we got to have nap time on. That’s mostly was I remember.”
They were standing almost shoulder to shoulder at the large front window that overlooked the yard. It afforded them both the perfect view of the front driveway in which a spectacle was currently taking place, but all Scott could dwell on was the way that Isaac was so much taller than him, and how when they stood so close, he felt dwarfed. Isaac wasn’t huge, Scott noted, but his shoulders were broad, and he was lanky in a fit way, and falling into Isaac’s shadow just sort of happened naturally. He felt almost engulfed by Isaac, and until that moment, he might have thought it would have bothered him. But being so physically encompassed made him feel almost protected, or safe within the bounds of his pack. It felt right.
Isaac clarified, “When you’re in kindergarten they make you sit in a specific place, and it doesn’t matter who your friends are, you don’t really have a choice. But during recess it’s different, right? You can go and play with whoever you want, and you get to interact with people you wouldn’t normally in the classroom.”
A little sullen, Scott said, “Before Peter, before he …” He took a deep breath and Isaac surprised him by turning towards him, his chest brushing along Scott’s shoulder, the contact between them generating a new pulse of warmth. Scott was barely able to continue, “Before he bit me I had asthma. I had it my whole life, and when I went to school, I didn’t really get to have a recess, you know? I couldn’t run around like the other kids. I could never really catch my breath all the way. So recess wasn’t that awesome for me.”
With a smile Isaac lifted a hand to Scott’s shoulder, gripping him firmly. “I think you’re trying to stop me from getting to me point.”
Scott’s head cocked, and he thought unexpectedly that Isaac was breathtakingly handsome, mostly in the way that people weren’t really supposed to be outside of air brushed magazine covers and digitally enhanced images. He tried to return a smile to Isaac but all he could think of was that he’d never found another man attractive before. He wasn’t typically like Stiles who could appreciate someone’s beauty regardless of gender. Women to him were the definition of attractiveness. Or at least they had been.
A pang of sorrow crashed through his gut as he pictured Allison. She hadn’t been movie star gorgeous, or even model potential. In fact he’d heard people call her homely before, or refer to her as having the girl next door look. Above average, Scott had heard, but nothing spectacular. Still, to him she’s been the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen . And after her he’d never thought it would be possible to find himself attracted to anyone else, male or female.
But Isaac … Isaac was attractive. And in a very sexual way, if the pull in his groin was to be believed. And it was a little disconcerting, just from how different the feeling was. Still, there was no denying it. There was something pulling him towards the other wolf.
“Your point?” Scott reminded.
Isaac lifted his free hand to the window and pressed against it gently, cautious of his strength. His head gestured a little to the driveway, and to where Derek stood, pressing into Stiles’ personal space, the both of them leaning against the blue jeep that was such a staple.
“What did you do when you were six and you liked someone, but you didn’t know how to say it?” Isaac asked.
Scott supposed, “I ran away?”
The next time Isaac laughed it sent a feeling of content through Scott. It was almost enough to turn his knees to jelly. He wanted to sink into a warm bath and relish in the memory of the laugh, and the way it made him feel. He settled for leaning into Isaac even more, and took solace in the way the taller wolf supported him easily.
“Some boys do that.”
Isaac smelled like home. Not Scott’s actual house, and not his mother, but the way that home was supposed to feel. In an abstract way, like safety and security and acceptance. Kind of the way that Derek was beginning to smell, and Stiles had smelled forever. But stronger, and so intense he almost wavered on his feet.
Isaac’s mouth was dangerously close to Scott’s ear, his breath warm on his skin as he said, “But some of the boys, when they like some of the girls in their classes, push them away, because it’s the only thing they know how to do. It’s like pulling pigtails, to use the analogy.”
“I’m barely passing English this semester,” Scott mumbled, eyes closed as Isaac breathed out on him again.
“Open your eyes.”
When he did, he could still see Stiles and Derek, and he could hear them, too. He could hear Stiles shouting, as he jabbed a finger fearlessly into Derek’s chest, “--can’t coddle me! I’m not a child. I’m a part of the pack, right? So who do you think you--” and Derek was countering, “--do what I say! This is my pack and you’re my--”
“To be fair,” Scott said with a sigh, “they’re both a little emotionally delayed.”
Isaac beamed a bit when he pulled back far enough for Scott to see his face. Scott just wanted him back close again.
“It took me a while to see it,” Isaac said, “to get it. The two of them. Derek is hard to understand sometimes, and I don’t ever understand Stiles.”
Scott nodded mutely.
“It’s the way they act that I do understand now,” Isaac added, head dipping with a building laugh. “They’re six years old. Can you see it? And Derek, he doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know how to make Stiles understand him, so he pushes him. He pulls his hair. He worries and he worries and he never says the right thing because he’s so worried. But I do get it now. I do understand.”
Scott thought Isaac was lucky, because some days, he still didn’t understand what was going on between the Alpha and his best friend. Derek had an unfortunate habit of pushing Stiles around, and Stiles liked to push back in every way that he could. “Well,” he reasoned, “I guess two people who are so different, can be good for each other.” And stranger things had happened. Stranger things were still bound to happen in Beacon Hills, so maybe Stiles and Derek weren’t such a stretch. Even if Scott didn’t get it.
“You know what they are, right?”
“Dynamite waiting to explode?” Scott joked.
Scott almost nose dived. He clutched awkwardly to Isaac’s forearm as the other teen nosed his head playfully. “You can smell it.” Isaac was being … affectionate, and it wasn’t that Scott hadn’t thought him possible of it, but it was hard to get used to. It had been happening more frequently now, ever since Boyd had died, and Scott had submitted to Derek. Since Gerard had almost destroyed them all.
Isaac nudged him again with his nose, breathing in deep with a content sound. “You can smell what they are, if you want to. You’ve been avoiding it. You’ve been ignoring it.”
“Ignoring …” His mouth clamped shut and he listened to Derek say, “--think you’re invincible, idiot, but you’re not. If anything happened to you I would--” and there was something very telling in the way Derek held Stiles so stiffly against the jeep, bracketing him in.
“Take a deep breath,” Isaac urged. “And don’t be afraid of the truth.”
He’d sort of known it all along, but Isaac had been right. He wasn’t ready to admit it, he had been avoiding it. It wasn’t just the way that Derek and Stiles acted, it was the smell. The smell of …
“They smell like each other,” Scott concluded. And not because they were having sex, Scott could smell the difference. There was something complex about the way they smell of each other, inherent and animalistic.
Isaac provided, “Like what they are. Mates.”
Scott inclined towards him. “Yeah.”
“But you don’t seem surprised.”
He had to say, “No. They’ve kind of … at least Stiles, he’s always kind of smelled like Derek. I couldn’t figure it out at first, when they weren’t spending much time together.”
Isaac thumbed back to the pair in the driveway. “Even if Derek didn’t know what was happening either, he’s been marking Stiles for a long time. But I think he’s getting it now. It would be hard for him not to, especially now that Stiles is pack, and Derek is starting to act like an Alpha.”
“Finally got it together,” Scott observed. “Sometimes I think we were all just waiting for him. We’ve always been his, but we’ve been waiting for him to be ready for us.”
“Agreed.” Isaac’s hand tightened on Scott’s shoulder comfortingly. “A wolf can’t be ready for a mate, especially an Alpha, until they’re at peace with themselves. And every wolf wants a mate. It’s what we want more than anything else, so I think that’s why we spend so much time brooding and feeling sorry for ourselves and trying to work our problems out. So we’re ready, and we can recognize our mates when they’re in front of us.”
Eyes narrowing, Scott asked, “How do you know all this? Have you been talking to Doctor Deaton?”
Isaac’s hand left Scott’s shoulder, and it came up to rest on the back of Scott’s neck patiently. “When you get there, Scott, when you’re at peace with yourself, you just know these things. I know, it doesn’t sound fair that you only know once you get there, but it’s true. I think you’re almost there, if it’s an consolation. I think you started to accept yourself fully as a werewolf when you accepted our pack.”
It was strange to accept, but things had changed for him since Gerard had tried to rip Derek’s pack to little pieces, and absolutely everyone associated with him. Things had seemed … more clear. More focused. He felt a bond with Erica and Derek and Isaac, and even Lydia that he’d never felt before. Even Jackson was … someone he wanted to protect. They were his brothers and sisters, and when it became clear how much they mattered to him, everything else cleared up as well. As well as his mistakes.
“I thought you didn’t like to talk about her,” Isaac said, voice grating in a way that said he didn’t want to talk about her either.
Scott swallowed hard. “I loved her. I really did. And I still care about her, even if she hates me, even if she tried to kill my pack. The love I felt for her, that doesn’t just go away over night, if it goes away at all. I still want to protect her. I know that sounds stupid. It probably is stupid. But I’ll try and protect her for the rest of my life.”
“She tried to kill you.” It felt like Isaac was bringing him closer, but his hand tightened in a sort of reprimand. “If she tries again, I’ll kill her. If I don’t, Derek will.”
Scott gave Isaac a push, distancing them, angry and upset. “And what will that do?” he demanded. “Start another fight with the Argents? Haven’t we lost enough people? Derek’s whole family? Allison’s mother? We’re never going to be allies, but we don’t have to be enemies. Allison’s grandfather manipulated her into doing what he wanted. He tried to turn her into a monster, and she was hurting so bad from loosing her mom, it wasn’t her fault. We have to stop this, Isaac, before everyone is dead. We deserve some peace.”
Isaac, hands balled at his side, remarked, “You’re a good delta.”
“Excuse me?” Scott sputtered. “Delta?”
“You should talk to Derek more,” Isaac told him. “Learn the differences in your pack.”
“But I thought--”
“That there were only Alphas and betas?” Isaac shook his head. “And the lone omega that you gave being a try? There are deltas too, Scott. They’re just less common than betas. They’re … Derek made it seem like they’re caregivers when we talked about it. They look out for the pack’s emotional well being, and protect their familial bonds. Betas may be powerhouses, but deltas are the real protectors. If Stiles were a wolf, he’d be a delta.”
“Delta,” Scott echoed. “Huh.”
Isaac dared to slide back closer. “Try it on for size. It’s a good designation.”
Scott shrugged and cleared his throat. “But about Allison. About her.”
It felt good to say, “She isn’t my mate.”
Isaac cracked a pearly white smile. “We all knew, Scott. Everyone but you.”
His head hung low, and he felt his eyes burn a little bit, like he wanted to shed tears over his first true love, but absolutely couldn’t. “I really thought she was. That’s why I fought for her, for so long. It’s why I kept trying to make it work, and kept defying Derek, and put her ahead of my pack.”
Gently, Isaac eased out, “We weren’t your pack back then.”
“Could have been,” Scott said. “We could have been pack from the beginning.”
Isaac’s cheek brushed the top of Scott’s head, and Scott let it happen, desperate for the attention. “I don’t think so.”
“Allison,” Scott mused. “I almost let her ruin everything, because I wanted to be loved. Because I wanted to be normal.”
Isaac grunted, pulling Scott closer. Scott wondered if this was a fabled puppy pile, the kind that Stiles was always teasing he expected to walk in on.
“We barely go through this,” Scott said. “We barely survived, and Boyd didn’t. What happens the next time something like this--”
“We’re weak,” Isaac conceded, and out the window Stiles was wrapped around Derek in a rare display of public affection. “Not broken. If I learned anything from you from all this, it’s that people can get through just about anything, if they know others are depending on them. Well, our pack is depending on us. What Derek and Stiles have is new and weak, and they need to be able to nurture it for a while. And Lydia barely got through Peter coming back. Jackson might be all wolf now, but he’s fighting us even harder than before, and Erica?”
Scott’s eyes went up to the ceiling automatically, imaging her up in the room she’d claimed for herself in the slowly restored Hale house. Boyd’s death, and her own attempted defection from the pack had hit hard. Scott’s mom called it post traumatic syndrome, and Scott knew she’d only come back to them because she’d had to. She wasn’t happy, there was little acceptance on her part, and she was struggling more and more each day.
“We’re weak,” Isaac reiterated, “and we were weak before Gerard. He just helped point out our weakness, I guess.”
“So we have to look out for each other,” Scott said, more serious about the matter than he’d been about anything else. “We’re all we have. Stiles’ dad barely wants to let him out of his sight anymore, and my mom thinks that she can find a cure for me--she thinks I want to be cured. You and Derek, you don’t have …” he tried to find a way to put it delicately, but with an apologetic look finally ended up saying, “you guys don’t have anyone but us. No one is going to understand Lydia and Jackson or Erica like us, either. So all we have is each other. We’re family. We’re pack. Even if some of us don’t want the help, we have to be here to give it anyway.”
“Good delta,” Isaac said, smile cracking so wide it looked like it hurt.
“I have a good pack,” Scott replied.
Sometimes he felt in complete control, as if he’d never been bitten, and was completely normal like Stiles. Some days there were no urges and no weird feelings and when he looked at Isaac he just saw friend, and nothing else.
And then there were moment like these, when his heart was beating at a normal pace, but so strongly in his chest as Isaac encroached on his personal space, that he knew he was different, and could never be normal again. When Isaac’s face pressed into his neck, nose as the juncture of his collar bone, and Scott’s toes curled wonderfully pleased, he never wanted to be normal. This was his packmate, his brother, and something else that he couldn’t place. This was Isaac, scenting him, letting others know that he was important to him, and giving him the kind of protection that they could only give each other.
“Isaac,” Scott said, a little breathy, but mostly happy. He liked the way Isaac had to lean down into him, and the way his arms fit across Isaac’s strong shoulders.
“We will protect each other,” Isaac vowed, lips skimming against the building stubble at the base of Scott’s jaw as he nosed his way up his neck. “We will protect our pack.”
Scott nodded silently, eyes back to the window as Derek and Stiles mirrored his own position with Isaac. His Alpha met his gaze, and maybe Derek had heard their exchange, it was possible, Derek was very good with multitasking.
“Nothing,” Scott said firmly and without hesitation, “is more important than pack.”
“You’re almost there,” Isaac urged, and Scott thought he was wrong. He still felt a mess. He still wasn’t whole. He didn’t even feel close.
The horn to Stiles’ jeep sounded, and Scott guessed that was his cue to leave, but he couldn’t bring himself to be the one to let go first.
Eventually Isaac released him, but not before Scott thought he felt the barest hint of tongue against his artery. And by the time Scott came back to his senses Isaac was several feet away, looking nonchalant with his hands in his jean pockets and a hopeful look on his face.
Scott drifted over to the sofa where he’d left his backpack after coming directly from school. He hooked it over one shoulder and said pointedly, “My mom was serious, you know. You should come and stay with us. We have a spare room, and it might do you some good to be closer to town instead of all the way out here. Social services wouldn’t be poking around, either.”
Isaac shook his head easily. “I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Why not?” Scott wanted to know. “You could stay in my room, too, if you want. Whatever you want.”
“What I want,” Isaac chuckled. “I don’t think you’re ready for that yet.”
Scott was still puzzled as the jeep horn sounded again.
“I think that’s your ride,” Isaac teased. His face sobered after that, and he said earnestly, “But tell your mom thanks, again. For the offer, I mean, but I need to be here right now. I need to be close to Erica, and Derek, and for when Lydia and Jackson feel like they can come looking for the answers to the questions they have.”
“Are you absolutely sure?” Scott asked. There was some odd, overwhelming urge deep in his chest to keep Isaac near him. To protect him. Maybe just to be able to see him. Scott wasn’t sure. He’d always wanted to keep Allison safe, but it had never been an urge like this, unidentifiable in its ferocity. “My mom is almost not mad enough at me over the whole werewolf thing to give me car privileges back. And I come out here almost every day after school anyway. Plus, Stiles practically lives here now that he and Derek are sucking face. You could get a ride with one of us.”
Isaac reinforced, “I need to be here. You will too, eventually.”
“Okay,” Scott said slowly. “So … I’ll see you at school tomorrow?”
Isaac nodded encouragingly and walked Scott to the door. Isaac was still standing there, watching him when Stiles looked at him incredulously and demanded, “What took so long?”
Scott huffed a little and climbed into the passenger seat, remarking, “I wait for you to finish with Derek all the time.”
“And you think I didn’t play third wheel to you and Allison all the time?”
The thing was, Scott thought that comment probably should have hurt, but when he’d been in love with Allison, he’d been a crappy friend to Stiles. He’d put Stiles second a lot of the time, mostly because he’d been so blinded by his raging hormones. Stiles shouldn’t have come second, because he’d always know deep inside that Stiles was there before Allison, and had his back no matter what. Stiles knew the lifestyle they were knee deep in, and understood the sacrifices. Stiles understood. That was worth more than anything else. So he should have known, and he shouldn’t have put Stiles second because he was excited to lose his v-card.
“Sorry,” he ground out, offering Isaac the smallest of waves as Stile started the car and pulled away.
“Me too,” Stiles offered, after a moment’s hesitation.
They were halfway back into town when Scott worked up enough courage to ask Stiles, “So about you and Derek?”
“Yeah?” Stiles hands were gripping the wheel tightly, fingers only letting up to curl out and then back in, a sign of nervousness.
“Do you think you guys are going to work out?”
Stiles gave him a flat look. “If you’re asking will it break up the pack if mommy and daddy can’t make it work, the answer is no.” His eyes narrowed. “And I’m not mommy, in this instance. I’m all about letting my pups go off and learn their lessons. Derek’s the one who wants to coddle you.”
“Just be careful, okay? I don’t want to see you get hurt, and I don’t want the pack to get hurt, either. Isaac said we’re weak right now, fragile, and I agree.”
“You and Isaac huh?” Stiles’ eyebrows rose.
“What?” Scott demanded, unsure what the look was supposed to mean.
“Nothing,” Stiles whistled out.
“You guys are pretty good friends now, aren’t you?”
Scott relaxed down into his seat. “He was there for me, especially for that mess with Gerard. You went missing, and Boyd and Erica defected, and Derek was too busy fighting with Peter to keep track of everyone. Isaac was the only one who stayed and helped me fight, at least the only one without a little push. He did it on his own, because he cared about this pack. A guy can bond with another guy over impending death like that. Don’t we all the time?”
“Fair enough,” Stiles laughed. “You don’t have to defend your platonic friend boner to me that you have for Isaac.”
“Boner?” Scott asked, startled.
Carefully, more cautiously than Stiles usually talked, he asked Scott, “He’s important to you, right? You care about him?”
Scott felt a little helpless. “Of course. What do you--”
“Derek,” Stiles interrupted, “is a pain in my ass. Like herpes, Scott. Listen up, okay? Derek is like herpes, which I get, that’s a shitty analogy, but it’s true. He’s for life. He’s a giant pain in my ass, and there’s no getting rid of him, but you kind of get used to it. You get used to being followed around, and worried after. And if anyone ever tried to take him from me, I’d run them over with my jeep.”
Scott was still trying to work out if Stiles was joking about the last bit.
Stiles said, “I’m not a wolf, and I don’t want to be one. I’m happy being human, even if it leaves me feeling helpless an inadequate at times. But I still get this weird feeling in my chest when I’m with him. You know, dude, it’s like when you’re little and you go on your first sleepover, and you’re really excited for it, but then it’s the middle of the night and you start missing your mom so bad you just want to cry. It’s like that, good and bad. It’s this feeling that lets me know Derek is special to me. And it doesn’t matter if I can’t pin down why, exactly. He’s special and he’s mine and I’ll be damned if anyone gets to take him from me. You kind of feel that way about Isaac?”
“I feel …” Why did it matter how it felt? Stiles and Derek were mates. They were going to be together for life and share everything. He and Isaac were … packmates and friends and … “We’re …” They were certainly building towards something, but Scott couldn’t say what it was, and didn’t want to. He found Isaac attractive, and there was a connection that they shared that was just for them, but what else, he couldn’t say. He wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. He wasn’t looking to confirm his bisexuality. He only wanted to prioritize, and that meant friends and pack, both of which happened to be the same thing.
“You don’t know?” Stiles asked.
“I don’t know,” he confirmed.
They turned from the dirt road that led to Derek’s house, back onto the main road into town. “Doesn’t matter,” Stiles brushed off. “Hey, did you know Isaac and Danny are going up to Tahoe this break? Derek gave him the okay. I think Danny is determined to get Isaac laid. He knows a guy. Says he’ll be sweet on Isaac.”
“What?” Scott said sharply.
“Wolves get all this pent up stress,” Stiles continued. “Lydia and Jackson have each other to work it out, but who does Isaac have right now? I think getting laid will--hey!” Stiles jerked the jeep to a stop. “What the hell are you doing?”
Scott looked down suddenly and he could see that his claws had popped. He hadn’t even felt them, or how they’d begun to dig into both his jeans and the upholstery of the jeep.
“Sorry!” Scott shook his hands, trying to get control of his wolf, unsure of when it had surged to the surface. “I don’t know what’s going on.”
“Huh.” Stiles cracked a grin. “That’s what I thought.”
Stile shook his head. “You should talk to Derek about how you feel about Isaac, even if you’re not sure what you’re feeling. Plus, dude, I’m not a wolf, but even I can smell Isaac all over you. Derek scents me for a reason. Chew on that.”
Talking with Stiles just left Scott confused and anxious. Thankfully, everything seemed to settle down by the following morning. He’d forgotten his math homework the night before and bumbled his way through it in Stiles’ jeep that morning before class. Lunch was normal, sitting across from Stiles like always, with Allison glaring daggers at him from near Jackson’s table. And then there was lacrosse practice after school. He saw Isaac in his chemistry class, and then passing in the halls, but there was no real contact until after lacrosse practice was done and they were all headed into the locker room to change.
Stiles bailed early for family time with his father and Derek, something he assured Scott he wasn’t looking forward to, and Scott took his time getting stripped of his sweaty clothes and into the shower. He preferred to have some privacy, if only to avoid getting roped into some of the freshman hazing that was still happening on occasion.
He liked showering after practice because mostly everyone left him alone, and he could just think. Contrary to the airhead that Stiles seemed to think he was, he did a lot of his thinking in the shower, where there was peace and quiet and great smelling soap. Scott wondered if he enjoyed the smell of soap so much because of his heightened senses.
But now, standing in the shower, he held the bar of soap in his hand and looked down at it. There was something wrong. He couldn’t figure out what it was, but he didn’t … want to use it? Something was definitely wrong.
“Stop it,” he told himself quietly, then quickly lathered himself and tipped his head back, letting the warm water run over his body. He washed away all of his worries and all of his questions. There was nothing more important in that moment than enjoying himself after a long practice.
The air left his body in one giant whoosh, and suddenly he was pressed up against a shower stall. He yelled loudly at the contact from his warm skin to the cold tile. And then again at the solid form pushing him up against the wall, holding him there, preventing him from moving.
“Stop,” a voice growled, and Scott froze, placing the tone and voice.
It took him a few more seconds to realize there was a leg lodged between his own, and Isaac’s mouth was at the back of his neck, up near his hairline, biting at the skin. He could feel teeth, and tongue and pressure and even a bit of pain.
“What’re you doing?” Scott demanded. He reached back, feeling for the teenager, and his fingers caught the material of Isaac’s shirt. But he couldn’t bring himself to push him away. If anything, he felt himself dragging Isaac closer, urging him to press harder and with more contact. “Isaac?”
“I don’t … I don’t know,” Isaac confessed, mouthing his way down to his shoulder. “I just … you were …”
Scott hedged a little to the side, and his foot kicked the soap he’d dropped.
Isaac sounded so unsure, maybe even scared, and something in Scott’s chest protested that. Isaac was meant to be strong and proud and capable. He was meant to be a match for Scott, and nothing ever less. He couldn’t let Isaac be less.
“It’s okay,” Scott promised, trying to offer what comfort he could.
“I’m sorry,” Isaac said, voice wavering.
There was just enough leeway, just enough room for Scott to force his body around, and then he had Isaac in his arms, shaking and spewing out a litany of apologies and explanations that made no sense.
Scott found his arms folded instinctually around Isaac, urging him to stay where he was. “It’s okay, Isaac. I swear.”
He smelled so good. He smelled like home, again, and sweat and masculinity and grass. All of the smells that Scott coveted and liked the best. But better than that, as wretched as the situation as the situation was, with Isaac feeling so weak against him, it was the happiest Scott had felt in weeks. The most content. And it was Isaac making him feel that way. Isaac.
Isaac straightened up, voice clearing and his clothing now soaked from the stream of water that was just barely hitting them. “I … I don’t know what I was--”
For what felt like the million time, Scott said, “It’s okay.” Even thought it probably shouldn’t have been. They were in the back, corner stall which offered some protection from the boys who had lingered, but not much, and anyone could have walked in on them at that moment and mistaken the situation. It wasn’t okay, Scott knew, but then it felt like it was, and he was so dizzy from the notion that all he could do was stroke his hand up against the back of Isaac’s head while Isaac worried his neck with his teeth once more.
“What is this?” Scott wondered, and he hadn’t realized he’d spoken aloud until Isaac made a confused noise.
Isaac tore himself away. It was so quick and without warning, and Scott almost lost his footing as the water drained around him.
“Isaac …” His packmate looked like he’d done something forgivable. Like he’d lost control, which was crazy because Derek always said Isaac had the best control out of all of them. “What’s going on?”
“There were so many,” Isaac gasped out, nearly across to the far shower as his eyes flashed amber. “So many smells. And then there were none.” Scott took a tentative step forward but Isaac made a concerned sound and reinstated the distance between them, comanding, “No! Stop! Don’t … don’t come any closer.”
Scott brought himself up to his full height, posture rigid. “You won’t hurt me,” he said confidently. “If that’s what you’re afraid of, don’t be. Now, you said something about smelling.”
Isaac gripped his hair tightly, bending forward to hunch protectively in. “I don’t know what’s wrong. It’s never been this strong before. I’ve never been this out of control. I could smell them all over you. And then I couldn’t smell myself. I don’t understand what’s happening. Why it’s happening like this. I have to go.”
Isaac made to leave and Scott was certain he’d lost the ability to speak. He could barely move. He was terrified of what had just happened, and what it meant for them.
What had just happened?
As Isaac fled the locker room, a couple of the guys down by their lockers staring on, Scott let out a heavy breath. He certainly wasn’t surprised to find that his hands had clawed of their own accord, and if he hazarded a look in the mirror, he had a good idea what color his eyes would be. He was loosing control too, just like Isaac, and neither of them seemed to know why.
Once his fingers were normal again, if a little pruny, he brought them up to the back of his neck where Isaac had nearly gnawed on him. The skin was tender and probably red.
Wolves scented each other all the time, particularly packmates. That was nothing out of the ordinary. On more than one occasion he’d been tangled up with Isaac and Derek, or some combination of his other pack members, all learning each others scents, and spreading their own. It was the best way to protect each other from outside threats, and a good bonding method. It linked them all together, to be so familiar with each other.
But what Isaac had done felt different than the normal scenting Scott had participated in in the past. He’d had small bites and nicks to his skin before, and even shyly given kisses that were platonic in nature, but nothing like what Isaac had just done to him.
“Yo, McCall!” a voice called out, one of the other players on the team. “Was that Lahey? What was that all about?”
Scott bought his head around the side of the stall and replied, “He had an emergency.”
He slid back out of sight and let himself sink down to the floor of the stall, unconcerned with his lack of clothing or the cleanliness of the floor. He brought his knees up a bit and took in several more ragged breaths.
Stiles was right.
He had to talk to Derek. Derek might know. And if he didn’t, he was Alpha, and Alpha protected the pack. He’d help them.
The problem was, of course, that Scott had been horribly turned on by the encounter with Isaac in the showers. And from that he was feeling embarrassed. So as much as he wanted answers, and knew Derek could help, he wasn’t ready.
In light of that he thought his best option was just to keep his head down at school as much as he could, shower at home after practice and certainly not go anywhere near Hale house where Isaac lived. It was a good plan and Scott was saving the emotional shitstorm that he imagined figuring out everything would be for the weekend when there’d be more time for pack problems.
It was all moot point when Isaac wasn’t in school on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
Scott asked Stiles and his best friend only responded, “Derek just said Isaac wasn’t feeling good, and then he said not to come over and growled at me that he was serious. It must be. Friday is our bootycall night.”
Scott choked a little on his sports drink. “I did not need to know that!”
Stiles shrugged. “You and the other puppies usually go snuggle together or go run or something. Derek and I make ample use of his car. But let me tell you, we need a new plan, because if I get the gearshift in my back one more time I give up.”
“Can we please focus!” He tried not to let it show, but he was a little desperate for information on Isaac. His stomach was all twisted up over what had happened, but even more over not being able to make sure that Isaac was okay. He just needed to see him. To smell him.
“I think it’s a puppy problem,” Stiles said. “It must be. Derek doesn’t want me over when it is. I think he’s afraid one of the pack is going to lose control around me. It’s a precautionary measure I fully endorse.”
“Okay,” Scott sighed.
Stiles reminded, “Did your mom want you hone early today?”
“You okay?” his mother asked him when he was home fifteen minutes later. She pressed a hand to his forehead and frowned at him.
“I can’t get sick,” he told her weakly. “And before you ask, I’m fine.”
He collapsed face first on his bed and thought he was anything but that.
Saturday he spent most of the day with Doctor Deaton, and Stiles reported, “Derek says you can come over after school on Monday,” but it wasn’t really a relief. If this was a pack problem, whatever had happened between him and Isaac, he deserved to be there to deal with it. Being banned by the Alpha until a certain date stung.
Doctor Deaton offered, “Think of it this way, your Alpha is trying to protect you. Whatever is happening with his beta, he’s dealing with it personally to protect the rest of the pack from the consequences.”
That only made him mad. “I don’t need to be protected!”
“Maybe not from a physical threat. Been having trouble controlling your urge to shift lately, Scott?”
“Maybe,” he said evasively. “What would it mean if I am?”
“Wait for you Alpha,” Deaton advised. “And look for the common thread in each instance.”
It was the first time he was forced to admit it, but he said, “I haven’t had an anchor in a while. Is that why?” Allison had been his anchor. His love for her. The future he envisioned them having, with a couple of brown haired kids and a house in the suburbs with a weapons locker in the basement. When Allison had fled from his life, so had his anchor.
“Not all wolves need an anchor,” Deaton said knowingly. “Most, yes, but not all. Mated wolves don’t, for instance. Theirs in inherent at that point, provided their mate is currently alive.”
“I don’t have a mate,” Scott protested.
Deaton added, “Potential mates can have the same effect. Probable mates. Good matches. It just depends.”
Scott shuffled back to the front office to finish some of his paperwork.
Stiles had said Derek thought it was okay to come over after school on Monday. Scott couldn’t. Isaac was mysteriously missing from both Chem and practice, though Stiles said that Isaac was there at school, and when Scott tried, he could smell a trace of the boy all over the school.
After the end of practice he physically couldn’t bring himself to go to Derek’s. He told himself he wasn’t avoiding Derek and Isaac, but he was. He told Stiles he wasn’t feeling well, and then curled up in bed at five in the evening with the air conditioner running at full blast. He ignored the way his cell phone rang throughout the rest of the day and thought hard about what Deaton had said.
The only linking factor in all of the instances that he could recall, not that there had been that many of them, was Isaac. And no matter what, Scott didn’t want Isaac to be the problem. He couldn’t handle that.
Apparently he couldn’t handle being away from Isaac any more than he’d already been, and neither could Isaac bear it. Scott startled awake, and he wasn’t sure when he’d crashed, to find there was a warm form plastered to his back. Something that warm could only be werewolf.
“You didn’t come to Derek’s,” Isaac accused. “He said you could.”
“You weren’t at school last week. You didn’t come to Chem today. Or practice.”
Scott could only smell himself and Isaac. There was nothing else, not the scent of his mom’s perfume or the hint of Stiles from the video game he’d left at Scott’s earlier that weekend. Gone was the fabric softener his mom used on the sheets and the Glade freshener across the room that she tried to use to cover up the smell of his laundry. In fact, it was really only Isaac he could smell. Almost overbearing in the odd scent.
“I’ve been …” Isaac tried, “been trying to keep my distance from you. I lost control before. I almost … I didn’t want to do that again. Not to you. Never to you.”
Scott kept his eyes locked on the white wall in front of him, even as he pressed back into Isaac’s hold. “What happened that day? What’s happening right now?”
Isaac rubbed his forehead against the back of Scott’s head. “You should let Derek explain. He’d the one who figured it out when I told him. He’d be better at it.”
Scared, Scott said, “I’ve been losing control, too. Are you sure Derek will know?”
Scott was quiet for a while, trying to work his thoughts out. And then he asked, “Are we okay?”
They were packmates. They were allies. And though it was recent, they were also friends. Whatever else they were, didn’t matter.
“Okay.” Scott tried to wriggle down a little, and in response Isaac clutched him tighter. Scott soothed, “I’m not going anywhere. I promise. It’s okay.”
“You’re so good, Scott. So good.”
He felt so sleepy again, wrapped up in Isaac’s hold, surrounded by soft blankets and softer sheets. Their feet tangled together and he barely had the energy to ask, “Good? Huh?”
A gentle kiss pressed against his neck, unexpected but not unwanted. Scott felt his wolf curl contently in him, and it was then that he realized whenever he’d been in contact with Isaac, and it had felt odd or unexplained, he’d been the one with the problem, and certainly not the raging wolf in him. His wolf adored Isaac, and was probably responsible for urging him to trust Isaac to begin with. His wolf wanted Isaac near, and Scott was beginning to think it was his wolf who needed him.
“I want you here,” Scott said sleepily, head turning as far as it could to see Isaac a bit. “You always run.”
“I’m not running anymore,” Isaac promised, nuzzling him. “I ran because I was scared.”
“Why would you be scared?” He found himself meeting Isaac’s playful nudges, and he returned them, their noses brushing and bumping lightly. “Of me?”
Isaac mumbled, tongue trailing the underside of Scott’s jaw, “Don’t deserve you.”
Scott was delta. He’d been omega before. And Isaac was beta. Neither of them would ever be Alpha. And yet, regardless, Scott found himself elongating his neck as far as he could, giving Isaac access to the skin there, opening himself up as far as he could, presenting himself as vulnerable. He felt Isaac catch his fingers and twine them as the tongue was joined by teeth and Scott sighed happily.
“You’re crazy,” Scott declared, startled by the rush of blood as Isaac set to work on his skin. “I’m just--”
“Perfect,” Isaac finished.
Scott dozed after that, his wolf more in control than it had ever been. When he’d been with Allison, even with her as his anchor, he’d been terrified it would get loose. He’d never completely mastered it. He’d never been certain he was in charge of the two of them. But now, being with Isaac, he realized his mistake. He realized what Isaac had been talking about when he’d spoke of accepting his wolf. It had never been about separating the two of them.
By the time he woke up he could smell dinner drifting up the stairs and into his room via his cracked door. But more importantly he was alone. He gave the air a tiny sniff and was happy to find Isaac’s smell was still the most heavy in the room, all over his clothing and his skin and his sheets. It was enough. Tomorrow he’d go and get to the bottom of the truth. For now it would have to be enough.