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Blood Pounding in Our Veins

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~*~*~*~

Stiles figured that Mrs. McCall finding out Scott’s secret would change things, but he’s completely unprepared for the very first thing she does, which is to invite Isaac to move in with her and Scott.

In fact, it’s not really an invitation so much as an order, and it happens quickly enough that the first Stiles knows of it is when he goes over to Scott’s and sees a stack of boxes in the front hall.

“Uh… are you guys running away to join a circus or something?” Stiles asks, nudging at one of the boxes with his shoe. “I’m pretty sure you’re only supposed to take the clothes on your back in that case. Maybe a knapsack.”

“Oh – yeah,” Scott says, shifting awkwardly in the middle of the hallway. The awkwardness is noticeable, simply because Scott doesn’t move that way anymore. He’s graceful and smooth, and if he’s scuffling around the way he currently is, it undoubtedly means that Something is Up. “About that…”

“Scott!” Mrs. McCall’s voice punctures their conversation. “Where did Isaac go?”

“To get his bed!” Scott shouts back.

Stiles isn’t stupid. It takes him all of 2.5 seconds to put everything together.

“No way – no way,” he whispers furiously. “Your mom is not running a halfway house for delinquent werewolves! Since when?”

“Since she realized Isaac didn’t have anyone watching out for him except Derek, who I think we can all agree sucks ass as an alpha, let alone a guardian,” Scott whispers back. “Look, I know it’s probably a little weird – ”

“A little weird!”

“ – but it’s not forever! And it might be kind of cool, I don’t know,” Scott continues. “Isaac’s a good guy – he really had my back with everything that went down, you know?”

I had your back, Stiles thinks mutinously, glaring at Scott with his jaw set. He was the one who drove his freaking jeep into Jackson, after all, single-handedly saving the day.

Well, sort of. Mostly. Lydia did some stuff, too, but he doesn’t like to think about that because down that road lies heartache and tears.

“So when was this even decided?” Stiles demands, giving another box a shove with his foot. Some might call it a kick.

Scott’s face has guilt stamped all over it, and Stiles doesn’t even really need to hear his answer of, “Last week,” to complete his picture.

“And you were going to tell me when?” he asks, crossing his arms and giving Scott his very best and most practiced glare. It’s not the best idea, because the side of his face is still sore and achy, and glowering only makes it feel worse.

“I thought you’d be weird about it,” Scott says earnestly. “I’m sorry, I should’ve said something before. But – you don’t have to be weird, okay? It’s just a temporary thing.”

“Right,” Stiles mutters. He knows how things go when Mrs. McCall gets her teeth into something. It doesn’t happen often, but on the occasions it has… Stiles still vividly remembers the summer she decided video games were not a worthwhile summer activity. He and Scott had ended up on every summer sports league in town.

“Stiles – ”

“Whatever, dude, it’s fine,” Stiles says with a jerk of his shoulder, like he’s hoping he can physically shrug the situation off. “Are we going to play some Call of Duty or what?”

There’s that guilt again, flashing right across Scott’s face. “Uh… I’m supposed to help Isaac unpack. And my mom’s been a lot more chill lately, but I don’t think she’s actually forgiven me for the whole werewolf secret identity thing yet, so I’m trying to stay on her good side.”

It’s not like it’s an unreasonable thing. Scott and Stiles have had to reschedule more than one video game session due to the whims of their parents. But Stiles has a funny, bitter feeling about this one, something that coils low and poisonous in his stomach.

“Sure,” is all he says. “Are we still on for tomorrow, at least? Lacrosse?”

“Yeah,” Scott says, and Stiles might not be a werewolf, but he can sense the relief in Scott’s voice. “Yeah, absolutely. Pick me up once you’re done with breakfast.”

Stiles murmurs an affirmation, and that’s that. He could stay and offer to help, he knows, but his entire being is rebelling at just the idea of helping Isaac Lahey move in to the place he’s always considered his second home. It’s petty, probably, and way too territorial for a human being, but his gut reaction is primarily I hate this, and for now, that’s what he’s going with.

He waves goodbye to Scott and heads for his jeep, wanting to be gone before Isaac gets there.

*

“So I hear Isaac Lahey is going to be staying with Melissa and Scott?” Stiles’ dad says at dinner that night, a frown creasing his forehead.

“Yep,” Stiles replies. “Take another scoop of peas, don’t think I don’t see you skimping on the greens.”

His dad rolls his eyes, but he takes another helping of peas anyway.

“Does she realize what she’s getting into?” he presses. “It’s… well, it’s kind-hearted of her, but taking into account Isaac’s history – not to mention the year he’s had…”

“Oh, I think Scott’s got her all caught up,” Stiles says, a slightly bitter edge to his voice. It’s not that he wants his dad to find out about everything that’s been going on; he’s not nearly ready for that conversation yet. But seeing the way Scott’s mom is coming around, how much easier things have been between them lately… yeah, Stiles can admit it. He’s a little bit jealous. At least Scott doesn’t have to lie anymore, while Stiles is still piling up one after another after another.

“Hmmm,” his dad says, and he dips a hunk of steak into his mashed potatoes, still ignoring his peas entirely.

“Eat those,” Stiles orders, “they’re good for you.”

He might not be able to share with his dad the current supernatural situation happening in Beacon Hills, but Stiles will be damned if he lets his dad clog his arteries any more than they already are.

*

The Isaac situation isn’t too bad at first, though Stiles is hesitant to admit that, because it feels like as soon as he does things are going to start going wrong. But he’s trying to be honest in his own head, since some days it feels like every other word out of his mouth is a lie, and the truth of the matter is, Isaac mostly keeps to himself. He doesn’t tag along when Scott goes out to meet Stiles, and he doesn’t generally venture out of his bedroom when Stiles is hanging out at the McCalls’ place.

He makes appearances for meals, according to Scott, but otherwise, he’s either holed up in his room, or out with Erica and Boyd. It makes Stiles wonder if this is maybe the first opportunity he’s had to really sort through what his life has become, and it sparks the tiniest bit of sympathy deep within his chest. They seem to be in a lull right now, after all; it’s as good a time as any to spend some quality time with your thoughts.

The first time he actually wanders out of his room while Stiles is hanging out is during an intense game of old school Mario Kart, Super Nintendo style.

“Isaac, hey!” Scott says, taking his eyes off the tv long enough to shoot a friendly grin Isaac’s way. “Are you any good at Mario Kart?”

Isaac shrugs, and while Stiles hasn’t taken his eyes off the screen, in his peripheral vision he can see something that looks a lot like smug steal across Isaac’s face.

“I’m not bad,” is all he says.

“Great,” Scott says, shoving his controller at Isaac. “I’m tagging you in, then, because Stiles is creaming me.”

“Hey!” Stiles exclaims, the unexpectedness of that exchange making him jerk hard enough to send his driver careening into a wall, losing all the speed he’s built up. “You can’t just switch out in the middle of a race!”

“Just did!” Scott says – he practically chirps it – and scoots over to make room for Isaac. “I’ll play winner.”

Stiles grits his teeth, bites his lip and furrows his brow in concentration, suddenly determined to win this round.

Of course, because the gods of luck hate him, Isaac turns out to be a freaking god at Mario Kart. He takes Stiles out in under two minutes, and Scott crows victory – more like howls, really – and slaps Isaac on the back, gives his shoulders a friendly shake. “That was awesome,” he says, then holds a hand out to Stiles. “‘Kay, dude. My turn!”

Stiles silently hands over his controller and moves back to the couch. He does not sulk, because he is practically an adult, but he does feel a certain vindictive satisfaction when Scott doesn’t last more than a minute against Isaac.

Serves him right.

*

Somehow, the Mario Kart session opens a door, and suddenly, Isaac is everywhere. He joins them for video games when Stiles heads over, which sucks, because most of their favorite games are two player only. He starts coming to their lacrosse training practices, even though Stiles is the one who needs help, and no, he doesn’t want any help from Isaac, thank you very much. At night, when they’re chatting online, Scott will disappear for long minutes at a time, only to return with a “sry dude, isaac was showing me something.”

The worst though, is when Scott and Isaac start having secret werewolf meetings with Erica, Boyd, Derek and Peter. Scott gets stupidly close-mouthed about them, to the point where he won’t tell Stiles anything; Stiles is pretty sure it’s out of a desire to keep Stiles safe, since Stiles was the one who got all fucked up during the last supernatural showdown.

This time around, Stiles isn’t even sure how much he wants to get involved. Scott let something slip once about an alpha pack, and while Stiles doesn’t know any details, just the sound of it is terrible enough. Except even if he’s not sure he wants to be one hundred percent involved, he deeply hates feeling so excluded. Scott and Isaac start doing this thing where they break off mid-conversation when Stiles enters a room, and without fail it makes his ears turn red and his heartbeat kick up.

“You know what,” Stiles finally explodes, one afternoon when it’s happened one time too many, “you live together. If your secrets are that important, then have these conversations when I’m not here.”

Scott looks at him, astonished; Isaac’s face is blank.

“In fact,” Stiles continues, his irritation ratcheting up a notch at the complete lack of response, “feel free to finish it now. I’m going home. You won’t even have to worry about me overhearing.”

Stiles has his feet shoved into his shoes, and he’s grabbed his wallet and keys before Scott manages a, “Stiles!” but by then it’s too late, he’s already out the door and headed for his jeep.

*

He doesn’t walk in on any more cut-off conversations after that, but it’s an uneasy truce at best.

*

Scott and Isaac aren’t the only ones keeping Stiles out of the loop; since that final showdown against Gerard, Stiles hasn’t once seen the rest of the pack.

Well, he guesses they’re a pack; he’s still pretty fuzzy on the dynamics there.

It comes as a shock, then, when he stumbles across Derek in the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

“You shop here?” Stiles asks by way of greeting, his surprise bleeding into his voice.

Derek doesn’t even look up, because Derek is, for all intents and purposes, an asshole.

“It’s the only decent grocery store in town,” he replies, plucking a box of raisin bran off the shelf and flipping it over to examine the nutrition facts.

“I figured you’d just be roughing it,” Stiles says. It’s been a long time since he’s had the chance to bait Derek; besides, after facing down Gerard and the kanima and, hell, Peter, Derek just doesn’t seem quite so scary any more.

“You know,” Stiles continues. “Squirrels. Rabbits. Raccoons. Can you eat raccoons? How come people don’t eat raccoons? You’d think – ”

“Stiles,” Derek barks, glaring at him over the cereal box. “Shut. Up.”

Stiles’ anger hits him full-force and all at once.

“Don’t you tell me to shut up,” he spits out, taking a step into Derek’s space, then another, and another. “God, you people – I’ve come to your rescue how many times now? And you still act like I’m something disgusting you stepped in that got stuck to the bottom of your shoe. I got my ass kicked because of you and your stupid pack – pushed down a flight of stairs and punched repeatedly in the face and – ”

Stiles breaks off abruptly, because nobody knows the full extent of that beating at Gerard’s hands. The scrape on his face and the bloody lip were obvious, but he kept the yellow-and-green bruises that had spread along his side from Gerard’s kicks hidden. Jesus, he was lucky he hadn’t broken a rib.

Derek is looking at him in astonishment; it’s the most expression Stiles has ever seen on his face that hasn’t fallen into the categories of anger, irritation or smug.

“Forget it,” Stiles growls. “I’m done anyway, okay? I’m out. Driving my jeep into Jackson was my last hurrah. Next time you need someone to save your furry butt, don’t bother asking me.”

He blindly grabs the peanut butter he came into the store for, and he storms the entire way to the cash register.

It isn’t until he’s putting it away in the cupboard at home that he realizes he got the brand they used to buy – full-fat, loaded with sugar and sodium and calories.

His dad is going to be genuinely thrilled.

*

Considering that his anger stays a constant, fizzy presence just below the surface over the next few days, it’s probably a mistake to meet Scott and Isaac for lacrosse. Lacrosse may very well be the one thing Stiles still has left though, and he isn’t giving it up just because his life is full of douchebag werewolves. This is going to be his year, he’s determined to make it happen.

Scott and Isaac are late, so Stiles tries to work out some of his tension by running wind sprints, but all it really does is leave him out of breath and irritable. When Scott and Isaac finally pull in twenty minutes later, Stiles can’t help that the first words out of his mouth are, “Well, thanks for showing up, guys,” in a snotty tone that’s probably more suited to an eight-year-old than a seventeen-year-old.

“Sorry,” Scott grimaces. “We were – we kind of got caught up, uh – ”

“Pack stuff,” Isaac supplies with a shrug, like that’s all Stiles needs to know. Like that’s all the explanation he deserves.

“Whatever,” Stiles says, and he feels like his jaw must be clenched tight enough to grind down granite. “Just get your sticks, okay? I’ve been here for twenty minutes, and there’s only so much I can do on my own.”

Stiles is willing enough to admit he’s not in a great mood, but if Scott and Isaac are picking up on it, then they’re choosing to ignore it. They take their sweet-ass time getting their equipment out of the car, and they’re laughing about something as they make their way over to Stiles.

“I wanted to practice scoring going up against a defender,” Stiles says shortly. They usually let him dictate the practices, since, you know, he’s the only one who actually needs the practice. Normally, he thinks that’s nice, but today it just feels condescending. Pitying.

“Sure,” Scott says. “I’ll take goal.”

He jogs off to his position, and Stiles calls after him, “No werewolf tricks!” Scott waves him off, and Stiles fixes a glare to Isaac. “Same goes for you,” he says, and Isaac just smiles a disarming smile.

Things get off to a bad start almost immediately. Stiles is wound way too tightly to be at all effective on the field, and Isaac is right there in his face no matter what he does. He’s bigger than Stiles, faster than Stiles, and he’s most definitely stronger than Stiles, and it all adds up to Stiles being unable to get close enough to the goal to even take a shot.

“I said,” Stiles grits out, as Isaac blocks him yet again, “no werewolf powers.”

“I’m not!” Isaac exclaims. He’s smirking. “This is just me, Stiles.”

Something disturbingly like a growl claws its way out of Stiles’ throat, and this time when he goes to make a run past Isaac, he whacks him on the shoulder as hard as he can with his stick.

“Hey, whoa, dude!” Scott yells. “That’s a total foul!”

Isaac’s eyes flash dangerously, but Stiles just stares him down, breathing heavily, fury bubbling through his veins.

“Stiles?” Scott calls again. “Do you need a break, man?”

“No,” Stiles says – almost snarls, really, and if that isn’t a sure sign he’s spent too much of the past year around werewolves, then he doesn’t know what is. “We’re going again.”

“Isaac?” Scott says. “You okay?”

“Fine,” Isaac says in a flat voice. He hardly even flinched when Stiles hit him, stupid werewolves and their stupid powers and their stupid healing capabilities.

Stiles scoops up the ball, walks maybe twenty feet away, and takes a moment shifting his weight back and forth, trying to determine where he wants to go. A split-second later, he takes off, cleats tearing up the field as he runs full-tilt for the goal.

Isaac, of course, is right there. Except this time, neither of them is backing down, and neither of them is giving an inch.

Later on, maybe, Stiles will be disappointed in himself, but for right now, he swings his stick down, intending to trip Isaac with it.

There’s another flash in Isaac’s eyes, and in the next moment he’s shoving Stiles. And it’s not the shove of a typical teenage boy; no, this shove has a werewolf’s full-blown power in it, and Stiles goes flying.

He hits the ground with a dull thump, his entire body jarring badly. Thank God he was wearing his helmet, he thinks muzzily; otherwise, he’s pretty sure he’d have a cracked skull.

He’s unaware of Scott calling his name until Scott is right there next to him, sinking down onto his knees and pressing his hand to Stiles’ chest.

“Are you all right?” he asks, sounding freaked. “You went flying, dude, are you hurt?”

Stiles ignores the pouncing in his head and the ache of his bones and forces himself up. “Fine,” he mutters, gently easing his helmet off and trying his best to hide his wince from Scott. “Peachy keen.”

“What was that out there?” Scott demands. “I mean, Isaac shouldn’t’ve pushed you, but you were fouling him all over the place! What gives, Stiles?”

“What gives?” Stiles echoes, and there’s that fury, finally making an obvious appearance. “I don’t know, Scott, what do you think gives?”

Despite the fact that he’s now a terrifying creature of the night, with huge, terrifying fangs, who could easily tear your throat out and call it a day, Scott still does the best wounded puppy expression that Stiles has ever seen.

“I’m done, okay?” Stiles snaps, struggling to his feet.

“Done… with practice?” Scott asks, scrambling to stand up, the frown on his face signaling confusion and concern.

“Done with everything!” Stiles shouts. “With all of this fucking werewolf crap, all right, I’m done. Congratulations, you don’t have to worry about running around behind my back anymore, because I am removing myself from the frigging situation.”

“Stiles,” Scott protests, “c’mon, don’t be pissed – ”

“I’m not pissed,” Stiles says, voice cold. “I’m done. You have your new best buddy right there, so just leave me the fuck alone.”

It’s easily the meanest thing he’s ever said to Scott, and the evidence of that is right there in Scott’s expression; he looks like Stiles has punched him, and whether it’s from the shock or not, he actually lets Stiles walk back to his jeep, get in, and drive away.

The anger starts to dissipate just as quickly as it came on, leaving Stiles feeling numb. And more than a little sick to his stomach. Scott’s been his best friend since second grade, and this doesn’t feel like a fight. It feels like a break up.

Stiles isn’t turning his jeep around though, so there’s nothing for it but to head home.