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(Don't) Touch Me

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When Stiles got home from school, there was a stranger sitting at his kitchen table. And he was drinking his juice.

“Um,” Stiles stumbled. “Who are you? Are you from the precinct?” His dad hadn’t mentioned getting any new deputies, but it was a possibility. Whenever a new guy joined the force, he was invited to dinner, although Stiles’ dad was usually there to supervise. The juice thief didn’t look much like a police officer though. With the smirk, he looked like Satan in a V neck.

The guy looked Stiles over, in a slow way that made him want to take a bath. “No.” He took a languid sip of Stiles’ juice. “Your father and I haven’t been acquainted, I’m afraid.”

Stiles blinked at him. It took a minute for his words to sink in, but when they did, his stomach turned, paranoia making him twitch. He and his dad had planned for this; they had planned for the day someone would come for him. Stiles backed up, but he was uncoordinated on the best of days, so he ended up bumping into the wall. He nervously tugged at his gloves.

“Oh, so you just make it a habit to break into people’s homes and stealing their beverages?” Stiles tried to steady his voice, but it still came out wobbly and strangled.

The guy didn’t exactly smile, but the corners of his lips turned up. “No, but you had some very delicious options. I just couldn’t help myself.” He wasn’t wrong. Stiles only bought the best juice.

Stiles grimaced and tried to sell it as a grin. “Well then, you can just help yourself out the door.”

The guy pushed back from the table and stood. Stiles thought for a moment that he actually was going to leave, but he only strolled right up to him and stuck his hand out. Stiles stared at it.

“Peter Hale.” The man introduced himself. “Aren’t you going to shake my hand, Stiles?”

Stiles jolted. He had never told this guy his name. That meant he had come for him.

He struggled to yank his gloves off his hands, but the material clung tighter the more he wrestled with it. Peter looked down at them in barely subdued glee.

“My my, Stiles, you’d think someone would notice something about those gloves in the middle of summer.” Peter leered. “Don’t you get hot?”

Stiles finally got a hand free and slipped around him, circling the table. He didn’t want to touch Peter unless it came down to it. “Why are you in my house?” He demanded, even though he figured he had a pretty good guess. “Where’s my dad?”

Peter smiled and simply pointed over Stiles’ shoulder, toward the living room. Stiles spun and looked through the doorway.    

His dad was sitting on the couch, wholly unharmed and a baseball game on TV. He was talking to the air beside him, as if there were someone there, and laughed like a joke had just been told. Frankly, it was a little terrifying to watch.

“You see how easy it is?” Peter breathed, right next to his ear. Stiles jumped almost a foot in the air and backpedaled again, out of range of Peter’s bad touch hands. “How easy it is to make someone see what they want to see? This one kid,” Peter laughed and rocked back on his heels. “We made his dad think he was there for an entire month. I finally dropped the illusion after even the fake, perfect Isaac started getting hit.”

Stiles hummed. “That’s nice. Could you undo whatever you did to my dad there.” He flexed his hand and twirled them in the direction of the living room. “I’m sure if you do that and go on your merry way, everything will be fine.”

“What are you going to do Stiles? Touch me?” Peter grinned, as if the notion amused him.

Stiles clenched his jaw. “Maybe I will.”

It really was a maybe. Stiles had killed people before, not that he was proud of it. For him, it was just a fact of life. The sky is blue and dogs bark; people sometimes die because of him. He would never be okay about it; it still kept him up at night, curled into the fetal position, but he couldn’t change what had happened, and there was no sense in denying it.

There had been other things as well. Strolls through the park usually ended in the mass murder of foliage. There was an alley cat or two, a stray dog that had snapped its teeth a little too close to Stiles face, and mosquitoes never bothered him anymore. That was pretty much the only good thing about his curse.

“No, you won’t.” Peter sang. “Your dad’s a police officer, you know what he’d think of you.”

Stiles scowled. “Test me.”

Peter looked him over for a minute, before seemingly deciding it wasn’t worth the risk. “Believe it or not, I didn’t actually come here to drink your juice.”

“Are you with the government?” The words flew out of Stiles’ mouth before he could even think about them properly.

Peter laughed, actually laughed. “You think someone like me would be with the government? Stiles, we’re the same.”

“No, we’re not.”

Peter shrugged, like it didn’t make a difference to him one way or another if Stiles objected. “Well, I can have sex, hold kittens, and hug my sister without killing her, so, no.” He smiled coldly. “I guess we’re not.”

Stiles majorly felt like giving Peter the finger, but he wasn’t wrong. He was twelve when him and his mom had gotten in that wreck. That was four years ago; four years without a hug from his dad or a kiss from his crush, four years his only buddy had been his hand. One of the worst parts about his curse? Virgin forever.

“Fuck you.” He spat.

“No thanks, I value my life.”

Stiles shook. “What do you want?”

Peter sighed and looked very put out. “I was sent on the behalf of my darling sister, Talia Hale, to give the invite that isn’t really an invite, more like an order, to come live at the Hale House for the Gifted.

Stiles blinked, rage momentarily forgotten. “You want me to join the X Men?”

“Why does everyone say that?” Peter moaned. “Boyd, Erica, Isaac. We aren’t the X Men. We don’t fight crime, we don’t have costumes.”

“Well that seems like a waste.”

“Oh go ahead, boy wonder, try and save someone with those poisonous fingers. Would you put them away? We have business to discuss.”

Stiles eyed him dubiously, but tugged the gloves back on anyway. The naked, vulnerable feeling instantly disappeared. “Undo whatever you did to my dad.”

Peter shrugged and made no outward movement, but the sheriff trailed off mid sentence in the living room. “Stiles?” He called.

“In here Dad.” The sheriff looked through the door in confusion, then fear when he saw Peter. “Son,” His dad said cautiously, easing into the room. “Who is that?”

Peter cut out the middleman and answered for himself. “Peter Hale, nice to meet you.” He smiled that insidious smile and stuck his hand, which the sheriff took with an air of caution. “Please, sit.” He motioned to the table in the middle of the room as if it was his house.

Surprisingly, the sheriff actually sat down, much to the pleasure of Peter, who grinned like the Cheshire Cat. They both looked at Stiles expectantly, so he grumbled and slid into the chair beside his dad.

“Well,” Peter clapped his hands together. “I assume you want an explanation.”

“That would be appreciated. I’d like to know why you’re in my house.”

“Well,” He started. “First of all, let’s just get this out of the way. I know about Stiles’ little gift.”

John froze, completely and totally still. Stiles would’ve probably done the same, if he hadn’t had the forewarning.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” John denied.

Peter rolled his eyes. “Oh, relax. I’m not, as one would say, normal either.”

“Oh?” The sheriff asked, cautious curiosity creeping into his voice.

Peter preened, enjoying the attention. He looked like the type who would, no matter how much he got on a regular basis. “I can make you see things that aren’t there. Get inside your head, see your biggest fears and grandest dreams. I can make you think they’re coming true.”

John’s face snapped into one of realization. “When we were watching the baseball game, Stiles wasn’t really there, was he?”

“Sorry, no. I needed to keep you busy so Stiles and I could have a quick chat.”

“How’d you get inside?”

“I rang the doorbell.”

John opened his mouth, then closed it, rinse wash and repeat. Like a fish. “When the Jehovah's witness was at the door, you-”

“Yes.” Peter waved his hand, like it was no big deal. Just roofie-ing your brain. “She wasn’t there. It was me. I slid right on in and you couldn't even see me. Quite handy, it’s why Talia always sends me out to find the newbies.”

Stiles’ dad’s face pinched. “How do I know that’s really Stiles?” He demanded, waving his finger in his son’s direction. “Or that’s really what you look like.”

Peter shrugged, looking totally blase. “You don’t. Hope you’re good at the trust fall, Sheriff. If you really want to find out though, have Stiles take off those gloves and play patty cake.”

“What? No!” Stiles yelped. He clutched his hands close to himself, like he thought Peter was going to risk brushing up against his skin just to deal out nefarious deeds. He knew this was illogical, but Peter kind of was what they were fearing, showing up on their doorstep and saying he wanted to take Stiles somewhere. He just wasn’t a government official.

And was a lot more dangerous.

John didn’t even look bothered. “Let’s cut to it. Why do you want Stiles?”

“Like I’m not desirable.” He muttered.

“Stiles ‘gift’ is too volatile to be left unchecked. A single touch? He could wipe out an entire town and never be caught by human police. And even if he did have a more peaceful gift, it’s still protocol to bring them in. They have to learn to control it,” Peter paused to sneer in Stiles’ direction. “Although I doubt you can be taught control.”

Things were quiet for a minute. “What happens if I refuse to go?” Stiles asked, chewing on his lip.

Peter grinned with all his teeth. It wasn’t a nice smile by any means, too sharp. “Well, then one day I’ll walk in and make you see your dad. I’ll pack a bag without you noticing, put it in the back of my car, and then convince you that we’re going to the store in that horrid Jeep outside. We’ll be at the Hale House and you won’t even think it’s been five minutes of driving. In fact, you won’t even realize it’s not a Walmart until you’re already inside.”

Stiles swallowed. There were things left unsaid, like what would happen if he tried to escape, or how his dad would fair. But he had ideas. Trapped in a house with people who could power up like Peter? He wouldn’t escape, no way, no how. And his dad… Well, Stiles was the only family he had left.

“You’re a sick bastard, you know that right?” His dad said after a minute of silence.

“Like I said, not my idea.”

Stiles shuddered. He liked this school, this house. They’d moved so much, that now that they’d been here almost seven months, things had started to look good, like they would stay. Stiles hadn’t even really minded the blistering heat on top of the layers and layers of clothes. He didn’t want to uproot his life again.

He didn’t think he had a choice though.

“When would we leave?” Stiles asked. His voice was quiet.

“Well, my niece, Laura, would fly out for a few days to handle all the legal jargon. Apparently I can’t be trusted. Custody would be signed over to Talia, Laura would arrange for your schooling and reroute things like insurance, and then you’d have a day to pack up, say your goodbyes, and then we’d hit the road.”

The sheriff made a strangled noise. “What if I move out there?” He tried. “Stiles could live with me and you could keep an eye on him.”

Peter shook his head. The dick didn’t even have the decency to try and look contrite. “That’s not how things work. We have a girl whose parents are right there in town, but we don’t let her live with them. We need to keep a close on eye on the kids, especially someone with a gift as dangerous as Stiles’.”

The sheriff closed his eyes. Stiles looked away, not wanting to see the pain on his dad’s face.

“Although, you’re welcome to follow us out there. Stiles can visit.”

“I can?” Stiles’ head snapped up.

Peter huffed. “Of course you can, we’re not taking you prisoner.”

“Gee, you’re just taking custody by force and moving me to your house of weird against my will. No similarities there.” Stiles’ dad elbowed him in the ribs and made eyes at him, as if to say, don’t be a fucking smart ass.

Peter chucked. The asshat chuckled.

“Where is the uh, Hale House.” The sheriff asked, refocusing his attention on Peter.

“A charming little town nestled in the middle of northern California.” Peter drawled. “They have a sheriff currently, but I’m sure you can work your way up from deputy. The high school has a lacrosse team, anything you’d be interested in, Stiles?”

It was, but it wasn’t like Stiles could play a contact sport. Even with all the padding. He glowered.

“This has all been very fun.” John cut in. He sounded tired and aged. “But I think we should get started on dinner. Do you need me to show you to the door, or can you dream up your own bellhop?”

“Not how it works.” Peter said. He stood and sashayed - Stiles could swear to God that’s what he did, he sashayed - out the door easily.

The Stilinskis sat in silence for a minute, before his dad stood and poured Stiles a glass of juice. Then, the sheriff started dinner, pulling out hamburger meat and shaping it into perfect circles. Stiles sat back and pulled out his homework, and they ignored the problem together. Just to pretend for a little while longer that everything was fine and nothing was changing.

__________________

 

Laura Hale was both beautiful and scary at the same time. She had a smile similar to her uncle’s, like a predator’s, but she had kind eyes. It was kind of canceled out by the power heels and imposing demeanor though.

“Hi, I’m Laura.” She introduced herself. She stuck out a hand for Stiles to shake. He hesitated, before slipping his hand into hers. “I’m here to handle all the legal work.”

“How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?” The sheriff asked.

“I get that question a lot, so don’t worry about it.” Laura didn’t look even the slightest bit offended, which Stiles guessed was good. You didn’t want the lawyer in charge of your custody arrangements to get cranky. “I’m twenty seven.”

“Sorry, sorry.” Stiles’ dad apologized.

She shrugged and adjusted her briefcase.

Getting the paperwork sorted out took two days of back and forth with a state representative who seemed to shake in his boots if Laura so much as looked at him wrong. There were things Stiles had to sign, things his dad had to sign, things Laura had to sign. She spent most of the two days setting up camp at their kitchen table and working through big stacks of paperwork.

The sheriff hadn’t actually invited her in, but they were both too terrified to ask her to leave. At least she had a hotel room for nights.

When everything had finally been sorted and signed, Laura turned to them with that sharp smile of hers and declared that they were good to go, and her and Stiles would be leaving for California about this time tomorrow. She had the decency to pretend not to notice the way Stiles’ shoulders drooped or the corners of his dad’s mouth turned down.

__________________

 

Stiles rolled out of bed the next day with a sick feeling in his stomach. He reluctantly tried to swallow down some cereal to stave off his dad’s worried looks. Stiles barely got in more than five spoonfuls before his gut was too twisted up in knots to take it.

He had time to make a few trips around town and say his goodbyes, but he didn’t really want to. Sure, he had friends, but no one close enough that warranted a tearful hug. The only person Stiles really cared about was his dad.

Stiles sat in the living room with his dad and they watched a baseball game together. It probably wasn’t what Laura had in mind when she said to say your goodbyes, but this felt like a damn goodbye to him.

“Stiles.”

He snapped his head up from where it had been focused on the TV. Laura was standing in the doorway. She’d changed out of her business clothes and was now in a pair of jeans and a T shirt for Stanford, her hair pulled up in a messy ponytail.

“Time to go?”

She nodded. “I’ll give you two a moment. Your bags are in your room, yeah? I’ll start loading them.” Laura marched up the stairs before Stiles even opened his mouth to offer to help.  

Stiles’ dad stood and carelessly slung an arm around his son, gently guiding him toward the front door. They both pretended he hadn’t tried to flinch away from the contact. They stood there for a moment, shuffling out of the way when Laura came down with a suitcase in each hand and his pillow tucked under her arm. She didn’t spare them a glance. She either really didn’t care, or was at least pretending not to, and Stiles was grateful.

“Okay, kid.” John said to him, arm still around his shoulder. He pulled his son in closer to his side. “I’m coming right after you. As soon as I get through the paperwork and sell the house, I’ll be down there.”

Stiles nodded. They had discussed this. His dad needed to sell the house before he could come out and get another house lined up. It would take a few days to U Haul everything up there, and then Stiles would come help his dad unpack on a Saturday and they’d sit and watch both Avengers, back to back. He would even let him have buttered and salted popcorn, as a celebration of being back together.

Laura darted back by them and up the stairs again.

“I’ll be fine, Dad.” Stiles tried to reassure him. “This isn’t ideal, yeah. I’m going to live in a house with a bunch of kids who have power control issues. But I’m the toughest of them all.” He waggled his eyebrows.

His dad snorted. “Yeah, kid. You are.”

This was the part where anyone else would hug, he knew that. But if he hugged his dad, their cheeks would press together and his only family would spasm on the floor, dead in ten seconds flat.

Stiles’ dad clasped his son’s hand and squeezed. Their own version.

“You ready, Stiles?” Laura was standing at the bottom of the stairs with a duffel bag balanced on her shoulder and a suitcase in each hand. He hurried over to take some of the load.

“Yeah, I guess.” Stiles grumbled.

He followed her outside to where her stupid, ostentatious Camaro sat. Stiles threw the last of his luggage in the backseat. A thought suddenly occurred to him.

“Hey!” He jerked up so suddenly that he bumped his head on the door. He shuffled away from the back of the car, rubbing at the spot he’d just hit. “What’s gonna happen to Roscoe?”

Laura paused in her movements and raised an eyebrow at him. “Who?”

He flapped his hands. “My Jeep. I can’t leave her here, she’s my baby.” Stiles couldn’t believe he hadn’t even thought about her until this moment.

“Your dad can bring her down. It’s not like he can drive his cruiser when he’s switching police departments.” Laura explained, as if it was the simplest logic in the world. If she had any gum, she probably would’ve snapped it.

Stiles anxiously rubbed a hand over his head again, feeling the forming knot. “No, he’ll have to drive the U Haul, leaving my only child here to collect dust and get hot wired by hooligans.”

The sheriff sighed and dragged a hand over his face. “Stiles, Roscoe will be fine.”

“We don’t exactly live in the best neighborhood.” Stiles snapped. He turned imploring eyes on Laura. “Please, she was my mom’s. I can’t leave her. I can follow you up there in Roscoe, how about that?”

Laura huffed, but did honestly look contrite. “I’m sorry Stiles, but you have to ride with me. You could very easily get lost.” They both knew that by lost, she meant, ‘you’ll go off road and lose me in a sea of traffic on a highway and escape.’

“But-” He sputtered.

Laura must have been feeling generous, because she gave him a little half smile. “You know what, I’ll send my brother Derek down here to get the car and he’ll drive it up.”

“Her.” Stiles corrected.

“He’ll drive her up,” Laura slid on a pair of sunglasses. “Let’s go now, it’s way too hot for my tastes.” She slid into the driver’s seat with grace Stiles envied.

Stiles spared his dad one last look. “Bye, Dad,” He croaked, too quiet for the sheriff to hear, but he seemed to have gotten the gist, as he smiled and raised a hand into the air. Stiles wished he could close the distance between them and hug the crap out of him, like a proper goodbye. He just waved back and slid into the passenger seat.

Stiles watched his dad in the rear view mirror until he was out of sight. The sheriff never stopped waving.

Chapter Text

Laura wasn’t awful person to be trapped in a car with. She let Stiles control the radio mostly, only vetoing rap and the occasional pop song. They didn’t talk much. The few times Stiles tried, he’d gotten short, one worded answers. The silence was uncomfortable, at least for him.

“Hey, so can you tell me something?” He said while chewing on the straw in his cup. They’d stopped at McDonald’s for lunch. “What’s your gift? Or power. Whatever you call it.”

Laura glanced over at him and shrugged. “We don’t have official names for them, but basically you could call me an empath. I can sense emotions.”

Stiles hummed. “Do you just sense them, or can you feel them?”

“Both. I usually don’t want to feel them, there’s no point. I already know how the person is feeling.”

“Pervy Peter said something about practicing,” Laura snorted and whispered to herself ‘pervy Peter’. “Did you have to practice or did it just come naturally?”

“You feel the emotions naturally, because you can’t control how invested you become in someone’s feelings. It takes practice to be able to distance yourself. People like me have a hard time being in rooms with a lot of people, too much noise.” She tapped her temple with one manicured fingernail.

Stiles was quiet for a moment, letting it sink in. So Laura could sense people’s emotions. That must’ve been what made her such a vicious lawyer. Paranoia that she was eavesdropping on his thoughts set in. He watched her stealthily out of the corner of his eye.

“Quit it,” Laura growled. She smacked him in the chest. “I can sense your emotions, not read your thoughts, calm down.”

“Then how did you know what I was thinking?”

“Because that’s what everyone thinks the first time around. I am always aware of your emotions Stiles, but that doesn’t mean I’m always interested in them.”

Stiles huffed. “Rude,” He muttered. “How many gifts are there?”

“Like, out of everyone?” She raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know. There’s probably lots of people with powers. But the most common ones are sensing emotions, telekinesis, and what Peter does. Occasionally someone can control the weather. Your gift is really rare.”

“Don’t act like you think it’s a gift,” He snapped. “You know just as well as I do that it’s a curse.”

Laura sighed and tightened her grip on the steering wheel. Her jaw moved back and forth, a little tick he’d noticed she had when she was frustrated. “You’re not cursed Stiles.”

“Oh yeah? I don’t consider it a gift to kill things. I’m fucking Rogue.” Laura sighed through her nose but didn’t say anything. Stiles cleared his throat and scrambled to find something else to talk about. “Is there any social etiquette I should know?”

She shrugged. “Don’t talk about fight club. Don’t judge people by their gifts.

“That one sounds like it’s gonna be my bestest friend.”

Laura didn’t deny it.

They didn’t talk for a while after that. Stiles slumped in his seat and took a three hour nap, then played some games on his phone for a while. When they next stopped for gas, he got out and went to the trunk to pull out a worn copy of Watership Down and slid back in the passenger’s seat.

When Laura got back in the car, she looked at him funny. Stiles raised an eyebrow. “What?”

She shook her head. “You and my brother are so weird.”

“Your brother? What does your brother have to do with anything?”

“Well, you both… Have this feel about you. Kind of like an emotions stamp. And your so similar… But you’re not.”

Stiles stared at her for a few more seconds before she seemingly got flustered and pulled the car out of the gas station.

Well, he thought to himself. That was strange.

 

__________________

 

They got to the Hale House around ten at night. It was sprawling house, almost a mansion, but with a more rustic feel, situated in the middle of the woods. Cars were piled up inside and out of the garage that sat gaping open. There were no lights on in the house, except for one on the second floor that glowed like a beacon.

Laura got out of the car first. Peter came out of the front door to greet her, before rounding the car, presumably to get their bags.

Laura waved at him until he got out of the car and trotted up behind her. It was considerably cooler than Arizona here, making the layers, sleeves, and gloves more bearable.

The inside of the house was just as nice. He didn’t see that much; he was just being led up the stairs, so he got a quick glimpse of a living room and a kitchen, both well furnished and expensive looking.

The upstairs was large and packed with rooms, from what Laura had told him. The long hallway split into a T at the end, and there were four doors, two on each side, on the main hallway.

Peter thundered up the stairway behind them. Laura took his arm and led him down the hallway, but when Stiles looked over his shoulder, he saw Peter enter the first door left of the hallway with his stuff. He decided it was a safe bet that that was his room.

Laura took a right to a new hallway. She took him to the door on the very end.

He didn’t know what he was expecting when it was pushed open, but it certainly wasn’t what he saw.

It was an office, that much was clear. The walls were painted an appeasing teal that was almost overshadowed by the impressive, obviously expensive curtains, bookshelves, and picture upon picture. Some were family shots, some were individual, and some were just teenagers. Several degrees hung framed.

Sitting behind the big, mahogany desk in the middle of the room, was a woman who looked well into her late forties. Maybe a well preserved fifty. Her dark hair hung loose around her face, but she was wearing a pantsuit, even at this hour of the night. Stiles could see the resemblance between her and Laura. They all had the same, sharp, predatory smile.

Stiles cleared his throat. “Talia Hale?”

“That would be me.” She responded, not unkindly, just reserved. Laura, who had let herself into the room, took a seat in one of the two chairs in front of her mother’s desk. Peter followed after her, shutting the door.

Talia Hale pushed up and circled the desk, coming to stand in front of Stiles. He fought the urge to lean back. She was too close.

She looked him over once, then twice. “Take off your gloves.” She ordered in a no nonsense tone.

He stared at her. “Um, I don’t think you want me to do-”

“Take off your gloves.” Talia repeated.

Swallowing, Stiles tugged on the tips of his gloves, wiggling his fingers free. It always made him feel strange when he did this, like he was taking off his armour. He slid them off slowly, until his hands were exposed. This felt dangerous, like standing on the edge of a cliff. He knew he wasn’t going to touch anyone, but he felt like his hands had a life of their own and would shoot out of their own accord.

He wiggled his fingers at her.

Talia smiled, then grabbed Stiles in a hug and yanked him to her.

He yelped and tried to claw away because was this woman crazy!?

“No, no, no no no no no- ” He started to shake. Talia’s arms had locked around him.

“Stiles,” Talia soothed. “Stiles relax. The more you struggle the harder this is going to be.”

He shot a desperate look over her shoulder. Laura was frowning and Peter looked like he’d swallowed a lemon.

Stiles tried to jerk away again, because Talia should be on the floor by now, shaking and foaming and dying.

“Talia.” Peter warned. “Five seconds.” He said, looking down at his watch.

Talia rubbed her cheek against Stiles’ and cupped the back of his head.

“Five, four, three, two,” Peter counted down. Just before he got to the last number, Talia placed a quick kiss on Stiles’ cheek, and backed away. “One.” Peter finished lamely.

Talia was smiling now, although it was serene and withdrawn. He stared at her. “What the fuck was that?” He demanded.

He hadn’t felt something like that in a long time. The friction of skin on skin and Talia’s wedding band cold on his skin, where her hand overlapped the back of his shirt and rested in the short hairs at the nape of his neck. Her lipstick was sticky on his cheek.

Then, it occurred to him. “Does this mean I can touch people?”

“No.” Talia said gently. “I am the only person who can touch you, as of this moment. Would you mind putting your gloves back on?” She nodded down to his exposed hands. He startled and yanked them on as fast as humanly possible.

Talia resumed her seat behind her desk and motioned for Stiles to take the chair beside Laura.

“Stiles,” Talia said. Her face had hardened, and now she looked like a stone cold business woman. “I’m sorry, I know that was very sudden. Let me explain.”

She actually looked at him like she was waiting for him to agree. He gave a jerky nod.

“My gift is rare, not as much as your’s, of course,” Stiles scowled. Again with the G word. “Basically, I can absorb powers for a short amount of time. Only for so long though.” That explained Peter’s countdown.

“You can absorb other people’s powers?”

“Essentially, yes.”

“So you took mine, right there when you,” He waved his hand behind him, in indication of the spot where he had stood.

“Well, I have better control over it and can choose whether or not to use it. People’s gifts don’t affect me the same way as it affects them.”

“Because it isn’t really your power?” He guessed.

Talia nodded. “Precisely.”

They were silent for a moment, eyes on Stiles. He licked his lips, contemplating. Then, “Thank you.” He mumbled.

He wasn’t sure he liked the hug. It had been too long without feeling the warmth of another human being for him to adjust quickly, and the twenty second hug and peck on the cheek he got wasn’t enough to form a conclusion. But he could see what Talia was trying to do, giving physical comfort to someone who’d lost the ability to receive it. It was something he wouldn’t expect from a woman who basically forced him to come live with her at her School for Gifted Youngsters.

Talia smiled again. The corners of her eyes crinkled. “You’re welcome. But there is an actual purpose for you being here, before we leave you to your room.”

All the warmth in her open expression dropped. She leaned closer by her forearms on the desk. “You have a very violent gift, and if you attempt to harm any of my children, my brother, or any of the other kids, I will not hesitate to send you across town to Eichen House.”

Okay, so they were at the threats stage. Awesome. “What’s Eichen House?”

From the way Peter smiled coldly, Stiles was guessing he didn’t want to know. It was him that answered though. “Eichen House is where I personally think you should be sent anyway.”

“It’s a house like ours, but for, uh,” Laura jumped in. “People with less control. Bad people.”

“Oh, it’s all the people who like to make others suffer. Some are murderers, some are just dangerous. I hear whispers that they still practice lobotomy.” Peter smiled maniacally. “My daughter was kept there for a few years. Couldn’t get a handle on her powers. Still can’t, but Talia has this whole thing about family.” Peter made a face, like he couldn’t believe his sister would want to rescue his daughter from a place like Eichen.

“That’s enough, Peter.” Talia scolded. She shot him a disapproving look.

“Soooo,” Stiles drawled. “Touch people with my poison fingers, thanks for that nickname Peter, and you’ll send me to the slammer for people with superpowers. Gotcha.” He directed a hard stare at Peter, and then Talia. “Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually enjoy my condition.”

“And that brings us to our next order of business.” Talia said, opening a manilla folder on her desk. “I need you to explain all the deaths you’ve caused. Laura has been able to dig up five that have similar symptoms, which are: foaming at the mouth, seizing, coronary damage, and a sudden massive heart attack and/or heart failure.” Her eyes flicked up from the paper to pin her eyes on Stiles. “That correct?”

Stiles nodded.

“The deceased are: Freddie Morganson, Alexander James, Lucas White, Sarah Santiago, and Jennifer McDonald. Any of those sound familiar?”

Stiles breathes out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. Out of those five, he had only killed three. They didn’t know about the fourth.

“Uh, Freddie Morganson, Alexander James, and Jennifer McDonald were, m-my doing.” He stumbled over his words. He hated talking about this. “I have no idea who the others are.”

Talia nodded and flipped through a few pages in the folder. She was in the habit of licking her thumb before she did so. It was such a grandmotherly thing to do, but she didn’t really give off the grandma feel. She had a hard, weathered look to her.

“Will you please explain the case of Alexander James to us please?” Talia asked in a clinical, detached voice.

“Uh, he was my English teacher. I was thirteen, and I’ve always been a little shit, even before the car accident.” He paused. “Um, pardon my French.”

“A car accident is what triggered it, you say?” Talia inquired.

Stiles rolled his eyes. As if she didn’t already know that. “Yeah. Anyway, I pushed Mr. James every class. I didn’t do my homework, I talked all during class, would disrespect him in front of everybody. Mr. James was young and was apparently at the school on a probationary period, for some assault he did when he was a teenager.”

Stiles fiddled with the string of his hoodie. It hadn’t been public knowledge, but Stiles being Stiles had pulled a fire alarm and snuck into the filing rooms.

“I guess you could say I was acting out.” He continued. “I was mad.”

“At who?” Laura asked.

Stiles shrugged. He’d been mad at everybody. Teachers, for not understanding and treating him harshly when he couldn’t bring himself to do his homework, to get out of bed. His dad, for not knowing how to handle him. Himself, for being so screwed up.

“He pulled me behind after class one day and I taunted him, kept pushing him. He actually turned red, it was pretty funny.” It wasn’t funny. Nothing about that memory was funny. “And then he backhanded me across the face.”

Laura looked murderous. Talia was more reserved, but her mouth was set in a grim line. Peter was regarding Stiles strangely, but none of them said a word.

A full sixty seconds dragged on in silence. Stiles shifted uncomfortably.

“What happened with Jennifer McDonald?” Talia asked, jumping to the next question she needed answered.

“Oh, yeah.” He scratched the back of his neck uncomfortably, his cloth cladden fingers dipping into his neckline to rub there. “She was a paramedic on the crash sight. I-I tried to warn her but she touched me. It was all very,” He paused, struggling to find a word to describe the moment. “Fast.” Is what he settled on. “It was all very fast.”

“And Freddie Morganson?” She questioned, without missing a beat.

“Oh. Him. He was on purpose.” Talia raised an eyebrow. Laura went still next to him.

“Explain.” Talia snapped. Peter stood in the corner looking smug. It occurred to Stiles that he was probably waiting for him to prove himself a monster.

“Well, I was fourteen and walking home from the arcade when I heard a woman crying. It was the middle of the damn day, but no one was around, so. It was only me.” He stuttered out a breath. “He was, uh, holding her down and, you know,” He couldn’t say the word out loud. Judging by the dawning realization on their faces though, they got his meaning. “I suppose I could’ve stopped him some other way, but I’m a scrawny kid. I didn’t stand a chance. So I just,” He cleared his throat, feeling a lump rise there. He was never proud of what he did, didn’t like the feeling that came with his curse. “I took off my gloves and… Then I put them back on, rolled him off the woman. Helped her up. Went home. The end.”

More silence. Stiles hated silence, it always made him want to ramble to fill it up. But the atmosphere was too heavy and tense for his usual brand of chatter.

Talia snapped the folder closed. “Now that that’s settled, you’re officially cleared to stay.”

“Congratulations.” Laura and Peter said at the same time, Laura sounding sincere and Peter’s voice dripping with sarcasm.

Talia smiled. It was small but genuine. “Let’s move on to the subject of schooling.”

The next hour was spent getting the rules explained to Stiles. Laura even gave him a laminated list. They were to go to school unless otherwise deemed by an adult in the house (Laura, Peter, Talia, etc.) and there was no sneaking into the other’s rooms at night for a scandalous rendezvous.

“Not that you’ll have trouble with that one.” Peter quipped. Stiles glared.

You had to be in your room by ten, but you didn’t have to sleep. The more unstable gifted were to be accompanied outside the house - this got Stiles several pointed looks - and powers were practiced three times a week at minimum, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Fighting was a big no-no and Talia was not above grounding them to their rooms for everything except school, practice, and meals.

And of course, no telling anyone about the mutant powers.

It was almost midnight before Laura showed him his room. She smiled at him and squeezed his covered shoulder before retreating down the stairs. He guessed her bedroom was on the first floor.

Stiles didn’t hesitate, just flopped down onto the bed, not bothering to take in the room. He wiggled out of his clothes until he was left in just a T shirt and boxers, his own room being the only place he didn’t have to cover every inch like an Amish school girl.

Despite his exhaustion, he wasn’t asleep after fifteen minutes of waiting. He huffed and turned over, spying his pillow still on top of his suitcases. He grabbed it with his toe, just barely in reach, and snatched it towards him. Stiles threw the one next to him somewhere behind his back and fluffed his own up, pushing it under his head.

After that, he slept like a baby.

 

__________________

 

In the morning, he was woken up by people banging around outside his door and frantic shushing. He glared at the door and went back to sleep.

When Stiles pried open his eyes again, everything was blissfully silent. He took a peek at the alarm clock on his bedside table, which read 10:00 am in flashing green numbers. Stiles moaned, rolled over, and slept another two hours.

At twelve though, he finally felt well rested enough to leave the cocoon of blankets he had going on. He was halfway across the room before he realized it wasn’t his own.

He froze, panicking for a second, before everything came back to him: the great juice theft, Laura, Gifts with a capital G, Talia Hale and her intimidation routine in which she played both good and bad cop. He sighed and sat down on the floor in the middle of the room.

Now, in the daylight, he had a chance to take it all in.

The walls were a light blue color. There were tall windows on either side of the bed (which was a memory foam queen, hello comfort, thy name is Stiles) with thick grey drapes on either side blocking out most of the light. All the furnishing were in mahogany. There were hardwood floors underneath Stiles’ butt.

There were a few nice touches around the room. The comforter on the bed was blood red, a refreshing color in the down toned room. There was a framed picture of Stiles and his dad on the dresser, he had no idea where they’d gotten that.

The only other door in the room besides the exit was a closet, which he guessed meant they shared bathrooms here.

He cautiously peeked outside his room. There was no one outside the door, no sign of life coming from downstairs. Stiles didn’t know which was the bathroom, so he walked out, in his boxer clad glory and all, and started trying doors. Both on the opposite side of the hallway were locked, but the one beside Stiles’ opened up to a gloriously large bathroom with a separate tub and shower, plus three sinks. He could’ve wept from joy.

Stiles scurried back to his room to get some clothes and toiletries and then locked himself in the bathroom from heaven.

He took a forty minute shower, because he had no shame. After, he pulled on layers of clothing and scrubbed a towel over his prickly hair.

Stiles stared at himself in the mirror for a moment and slapping his own cheek, and whispered ‘you can do this’ to himself.

He cautiously crept downstairs. No sign of intelligent life.

Stiles snooped around, taking in the different rooms. The living room was open and spacious, with soft white carpet and comfy leather couches that looked ready to suck him into their grip and never relinquish hold. He would be okay with that.

A flat screen was mounted to the wall over a fireplace. An impressive cabinet of DVDs sat next to it. Bookshelves lined almost all of the wall space that wasn’t taken up by the entertainment center or a window. Some had books on them, some had binders, and some just stacked up knick knacks and framed photos. Judging from the strategically placed speakers, Hale House had a wicked surround sound system.

The kitchen was open to the entry hall, like the living room. There was a large island, the countertops were entirely granite, the appliances stainless steel, and there were two refrigerators. The pantry could feed a small army.

Okay, so this was a lot better than their shabby house in Arizona. At least, if he was manhandled and coerced into living here, he was doing so in the lap of luxury.

He had just opened one of the fridges and started poking around when someone cleared their throat behind him.

“Stiles.” He jumped, backing away from the fridge guiltily. Laura was standing behind him, smiling. She’d warmed up to him considerably since yesterday. “Helping yourself, I see. Nice to see you already settling in.”

He rolled his eyes. “Shut up.”

Laura just smirked and jerked her head towards the hallway on one side of the staircase. “Let’s go meet everybody.” She didn’t wait for him, turning the corner quickly.

What. “What?”

“Come on, everyone’s outside.” He scurried after her. There was a door at the end of the hallway with a big, glass panel, where light from outside shone through.

“B-but,” He wanted to go back up to his room and hide. He hated new people, hated making friends even more. It was torture for months every time he started a new school.

Laura huffed, but it wasn’t as bitchy as usual. “Come on, don’t be such a baby. You just have to say a quick hello and then we’re going to drive around town, get you accommodated.”

“Really?” He could get down with that.

“Yeah.”

“Good, I was starting to think I was your prisoner or something. Oh, wait.”

Laura snorted, opened the door, and pushed him out with a hand to his back. The sunlight blinded Stiles for a moment, but when his eyes adjusted, he took in about a dozen people staring at him. Some were treading water in the huge pool that had it’s own little waterfall. Talia and a few of the older people were sitting at a table under a patio umbrella. Peter was lounging in the sun with one of those reflective mirror thingies for tanning. Stiles waved awkwardly.

Laura followed him into the fray. He very much wanted to bolt right now; the silence was disconcerting.

“This is Stiles,” She said, addressing everyone at once. “Play nice.” She shot a dark look at the kids in the pool.

“What kind of name is Stiles?” A pretty girl sitting on the edge of the pool snarked. She looked terrifying. And while she wasn’t smiling, she looked similar to Laura, so he figured she must be another Hale.

“The kind that’s used in the place of an even more horrifying name.” He quipped.

A blonde girl launched herself out the pool and came closer to inspect him. She had intense brown eyes and looked him over critically before grinning. “I’m Erica.” She stuck her hand out. Stiles only hesitated a minute before sticking his hand in her’s. His gloves weren’t leather, thank God, so he didn’t run the risk of ruining a pair.

"Nice to meet you.” He replied cordially. His second grade teacher would be so proud of him. She’d tried to drill manners into him the entire year she’d had him.

“I’m telekinetic.” She informed him, as if this was everyday conversation. He shot a glance at Laura, who hadn’t left his side, to see if this was normal introductory behavior. She shrugged.

“Um, cool.” Was his answer.

Erica frowned at him and opened her mouth like she was going to protest but Laura shooed her away. No one else made a move to get out of the pool, so Laura took him (against his will, mind you) to them.

“That’s Boyd,” She said, pointing to a big black kid that could probably crush Stiles between his thumb and forefinger. “Isaac,” This one was a boy who strongly resembled a puppy, limp, wet curls flopping over his forehead and into his eyes. He smiled serenely. “Cora, my little sister,” The terrifying girl was who Stiles had suspected her to be, score one for Stilinski. “Lydia,” A pretty redhead who was relaxing on a floaty. She barely spared him a glance over her sunglasses. “And that’s Malia.” Malia looked similar to the Hales, but not much. She had dirty blonde hair, probably darkened by water, and looked thoroughly unimpressed with him.

Laura then steered him over to the patio table. “You’ve already met Peter-”

“Unfortunately.” Stiles interrupted.

Several of the adults chuckled. “And my mom,” Laura continued. “This is my dad, Frederick,” She said, pointing the man who looked the same age as Talia. He had a friendly smile. “My husband, Mark,” Mark waved. “And my brother, Derek.”

Well hot damn.

Derek was possibly the most attractive person Stiles had ever met. He had cheekbones to die for, hazel eyes, dark hair, and scruff Stiles really wanted to feel on his face. And he was ripped. Like, ridiculously. Derek was only wearing a wife beater and board shorts. Sadly, he barely glanced up from his book to spare Stiles a glance. Not that he’d ever have a chance.

Stiles noticed that the book in his hands was Watership Down. He thought back to what Laura said in the car and side eyed her. She was staring at Derek.

“What?” Derek asked, probably feeling her eyes on him.

“Nothing,” She said breezily, turning to look at Stiles. “Go mingle.” Laura ordered and gently shoved him away.

Stiles glared. He hated small talk almost as much as he hated new people. Laura remained behind and pulled out a chair to plop down.

Over at the pool, he sat cross legged a few feet away from the edge. Isaac and Erica came paddling up to him, Boyd following behind at a slower rate.

“Where’d you come from?” Erica asked.

“Arizona.”

“Home of the Arizona Tea?”

Stiles wrinkled his nose. “That actually a company in New York.” And tea was gross.

“What’s your gift?” Isaac asked. He resembled an overgrown puppy.

“What’s yours?” Stiles shot back, focusing on not getting flustered from all the attention.

“I’m an empath.” He narrowed his eyes. “You’re feeling very anxious. And you think very loud.”

“Right.” Stiles murmured. He nodded like that wasn’t one of the weirdest things anyone had ever said to him.

“Boyd absorbs shit, like Talia.” Erica said proudly, slinging an arm around his neck. Boyd’s expression didn’t so much as twitch, but his arm came around her waist.

Stiles cocked his head. If he had the same gift as Talia, then that meant Boyd might be able to touch him to. He was tempted to put it to the test right now, but he didn’t think he could live with himself if he was wrong.

“I thought Talia’s gift is rare.”

“It is.” Boyd confirmed, sounding very bored with this conversation. “Talia and I are just a coincidence.”

Stiles looked over the pool again. The other blonde, Malia was hovering close by. “What about you?” He asked, nodding to her.

She looked him over critically without answering, sinking under the water and reappearing a feet away, near the mini waterfall.

Okay then. He turned to Cora. “What’s your special skill set?”

“Telekinesis. And before you ask, Lydia over there is prophetic.”

Lydia didn’t really react from where she was lounging. Stiles couldn’t be sure but he thought her eyes were closed under her sunglasses. “Uh, isn’t it rude to tell other people’s powers?”

Cora hummed and slipped down into the water. “Probably. Yeah. We don’t have many boundaries here.”

Stiles chewed on his lip. That could be a problem. Thinking he was an innocent enough kid, any one of them could go to give him a hug, or come to wake him up, bump into him in the bathroom or hallway, sit next to him on the couch. He could be too slow to react.

He inched away from the edge of the pool some more. It suddenly felt dangerous to be this close.

“Stiles.” Laura called. He looked over his shoulder at her. She was standing next to the backdoor, gripping a messenger bag. “Let’s go.” She jerked her head toward the door.

“Wait.” Erica called out when he was halfway to the door. He turned to see her and all the others, teenagers and adults alike, looking at him. “What’s your gift?”

Stiles could not tell them. He could say it was none of their business and that would be that, but scenarios where they got hurt just because they didn’t know ran through his head on a loop. He looked to Talia, who was watching him as well, to ask silently if it was okay to tell them.

Her face was impassive. He took it as a yes.

He glanced around and zeroed in on a big, leafy potted plant. Stiles walked over to it and slid off his glove. He shivered at the exposed feeling.

Stiles was very aware of the eyes on him. He took a deep breath (why was he so nervous?) and gently ran his fingers over the top of the biggest leaf.

The effect was instantaneous. First the leaf, then the rest of the stalk, wilted, shrinking in on itself. It got smaller and more dehydrated, becoming a crinkly brown wisp of a thing cowering at the bottom of the flower pot.

No one said a word. Most of them looked too shell shocked. Peter looked disgruntled. Lydia had sat up and slid her shades down her nose, eyes fixed on him in interest. Derek was staring at him, mouth agape, his brows furrowed.

Well, Stiles had gotten his attention, at least.

“So, uh, yeah.” He drawled. He pulled back on his glove. “That’s me. Laura, you ready?”

She nodded and moved aside, letting him in the door first. He was almost at the end of the halfway when he heard someone, presumably Mark, ask Laura if she was safe with Stiles.

Yes, Laura replied emphatically.

But she couldn’t know that for sure. Stiles couldn’t know that for sure.

 

Chapter Text

Beacon Hills was small. Like, tiny.

There was a locally owned movie theatre, a strip mall, a Walmart, and, most importantly, a bus station. Stiles took special note of that. It didn’t look too busy, but there was a sign that listed all the bus times in bold print. He stealthily took a picture of it with his phone.

“Grocery shopping sucks when you have twelve mouths to feed.” Laura confided. They’d stopped at the grocery store before heading back to the house. “Well, thirteen now.”

He pushed a second cart and helped her load them down with enough food to feed a small army. Which he guessed was what Hale House was.

“So,” She hedged as they were loading up the car. They’d spent forever in there, which roughly translated to three and a half hours and a ton of food. “About what Mark said-”

“Don’t worry about it.” Stiles waved it away. “I understand.”

“Yeah, I know you do, but it’s not fair,”  She looked genuinely sympathetic, a stark contrast from her more cold nature when they first met. “He’s human, he wasn’t raised around people with gifts, he doesn’t always understand proper etiquette.”

Wait a second. Back up. “He’s human? But he lives at Hale House?”

“He’s my husband. My dad is human too. A lot of us, like Derek, Peter, and I choose to live there, where we can be around others like us. Sometimes, my mom can order you to… stay a bit longer.”

Stiles was pondering on that when the implications of her words slammed into him. “Wait, does this mean I’ll have to live at Hale House forever?” He asked, aghast.

Laura looked away uncomfortably. “Well, nothing’s final or anything like that. I don’t have to stay there, neither does Derek or Peter, but we all have very…” She trailed off, trying to come up with the right word. “Controllable gifts.”

Stiles closed his eyes. “You mean I’m never going to leave that house.”

“Nothing is set in stone.” Laura protested.

But it didn’t really matter what she said, and they both knew it. Stiles didn’t have a gift you could train with doggy treats and slaps on the wrist for bad behavior. It had a mind of its own. He would always inevitably hurt people.

That meant no college. No living with his dad. No tiny apartment in a crowded city where he could shut out the outside world.

Stiles was going to be in Hale House forever. Unless he did something to stop it.

His plan started to come together in his head.

 

__________________

 

They didn’t talk the rest of the way back to the house. Inside, everyone else had settled down for an early dinner. Stiles mumbled something about not being hungry and hustled up to his room. It was rude to leave everyone else to take care of the groceries, but he honestly didn’t care at that point.

Laura tried explaining to his retreating back that no one would mind him at dinner, but it was a lie and they all knew it. He saw the way all the light and cockiness flickered out in Erica’s eyes when she caught a look at him, how Isaac shifted nervously and how Cora hunched in on herself and glared. Boyd and Lydia didn’t look up from their plates and Peter looked fucking delighted.

Inside his room, Stiles settled on his bed with his back pressed against the headboard and hit his dad’s name on his contact list. He’d called him on the trip to California, just to let him know that he was okay, but Stiles had been so busy today that he hadn’t had a chance to give the sheriff a ring.

It rung four times before his dad picked up. “Stiles,” He said in place of a greeting.

“Hey Pops,” Stiles smiled into the phone. “How’s the selling going?”

“It’s only been one day, Stiles.”

“Yes, I know that, but you know how I am. This is a project. Sorta. Okay, definitely a project. You should get someone to come and look the place over, tell you what you need to jazz it up, get a higher selling price. You want something nice here, don’t you? Can’t have our father-son bonding moments in a tiny little apartment complex. Which they only have one of. This place is tinier than tiny, minuscule is really a better word to-”

“Stiles,” The sheriff finally interrupted. “You’re rambling again son. I’ve already got a guy set up to come over Tuesday.”

“Good, good, I was worried you’d be helpless without me.”

His dad huffed. “I’m a grown man, Stiles. I’m pretty sure I can take care of myself.”

“Are you eating your veggie burgers? Did you do laundry?”

A pause. “I’m getting around to it.”

“Uh huh.”

“Enough about me. Tell me about what it’s like up there.”

“Well,” Stiles took a deep breath and tried to figure out a way to explain his situation without worrying his dad too much. Saying that he’d made friends and they were all very accepting would be a bold faced lie and the sheriff would sense it.  

“Talia Hale is the head honcho, keeps Peter in line. Laura has warmed up to me, probably noticing my awesome. The other kids are… wary, but it’s not too bad. Laura’s brother is hotter than the sun.”

“Don’t tell me you have a crush.”

“Please Dad, you know it’d never work out. But I can admire from afar.”

After that, they chatted about anything that came to mind, meaningless conversation that somehow meant a lot. The sheriff told Stiles about the latest baseball news and Stiles rambled on about his random facts. It was ten o’clock before the sheriff finally took stock of the time and told Stiles he had to go, important filing at the station tomorrow.

“Stiles,” The sheriff said, just before they said their goodbyes. “I know you son. Do not try to escape. I know this is a bad situation, but you can’t just run away. There’s nowhere to run to. I’d never turn you in, but they’d come looking for you here as soon as they realized you weren’t there.”

“I’m not, Dad,” Stiles lied. “I’m not that stupid.”

“Promise me.”

“I solemnly swear I am not up to no good.” The sheriff sighed. Whatever, Stiles knew he was hilarious.

They said their I love you’s, and when Stiles hung up, he felt a little empty. He curled up with his computer and started an episode of one of the many shows idling in his Netflix watch list.

It was three am before Stiles had the balls to go back down there and hunt down food. He ate a few meager slices of turkey on a single piece of bread, holding it like a hot dog, and poured a glass of juice to take back upstairs with him.

 

__________________

 

Sunday morning dawned bright. And too fucking early.

Stiles moaned into his pillow as someone knocked on his door for the third time in the last five minutes. He grunted when he heard whoever was on the other side try to jimmy it open. He always slept with his door locked.

“Stiles.” A slightly nervous voice called through the door. If he had to guess, it was Mark. “Sunday mornings are for practice.” He said, like that explained everything.

Stiles rolled over and buried his face in his pillow. “I have nothing to practice.” He responded.

“Your gift-”

“Oh, come on Mark.” Stiles said acidly. He was always bitchy in the mornings. “What’s complicated about my gift? I touch it, I kill it. End of story.”

“Talia said she wants you with the others to practice.” Mark rephrased.

Stiles ignored him for a good five minutes, determined to wait him out.

He burrowed back into bed when the annoying voice of Laura’s husband finally stopped and was just drifting off when a frantic pounding at his door jerked him awake.

“Stiles! Stiles, open up!” That sounded like his dad. In fact, that was his dad. And he sounded like he was in pain. Stiles was out of the bed in a split second, racing for the door, not stopping to think that he’d just talked to his dad last night and there was no way he could be here right now.

Stiles wrenched the door open, expecting to see his dad hunched over in pain, but all that stood on the other side was Peter. Who smirked.

Hallucinations, Stiles remembered, was Peter’s gift. He glared.

“That wasn’t funny.” He growled.

“Of course not.” Peter said, not looking bothered at all. “But next time, you should come at first call.” He turned and stalked down the hallway until he reached the stairs, and then trotted down those.

Stiles fumed. He dressed in silence, pulling on a pair of comfy sweats and black cotton gloves. He was no longer worried about making an impression, not after yesterday.

Downstairs, there was no one loitering around, but he poked about until he heard some signs of life. He followed the long hallway to the left of the staircase, the one the living room branched off of, past several entry ways until he was faced with tall, mahogany doors. A low roar of conversation came from behind them. He hesitantly pushed one open.

Instantly, any chatter stopped. They all turned to stare as he pushed his way into the room.

Cora and Erica were sitting together at a table nearest the doors, building blocks hovering in the air when they froze. Peter was grouped with Malia and Lydia, and Laura with Isaac near the back. Boyd was taking up a corner, presumably meditating from the way his limbs were arranged, but had one eye cracked open to watch Stiles.

Stiles ducked his head and stepped into the room. The door he had opened swung shut behind him, propelling him forward. Cora didn’t really smirk, but she had a satisfied look in her eyes that he took to mean she was the cause of that.

He arched an eyebrow at her. She didn’t cower, per say, but she lost a lot of the bravado.

Stiles wasn’t used to that. No one had really known of his powers, so he was still a nobody. Still a scrawny kid that didn’t like to let his skin show and avoided people whenever possible. No one looked at him and thought danger.

They did though. The thought was unnerving. He stuck his hands in his hoodie pockets and twisted them nervously. He had to do something, couldn’t just keep standing there at an impasse.

He marched up to Peter, who simply looked amused. Malia’s metaphorical and literal hackles rose and Lydia tensed unnecessarily. He barely spared them a glance.

“Okay.” Stiles narrowed his eyes at Peter. “I’m here. What do you want?”

“No need to get snappy now.” Peter smiled. “Go meditate with Boyd over there.”

“That’s it?” He asked incredulously.

“Everyone participates. If you have a problem, go take it up with Talia.”

Stile huffed and shuffled over to where Boyd was still sitting. He didn’t look him in the eye, just nodded in his direction and settled down beside him, careful to stay out of arm’s length. He crossed his legs criss cross applesauce.

Stiles didn’t close his eyes and try the humming bullshit. Instead, he observed.

Malia was paying close attention to everything Peter had to say. They had the same gift, Stiles remembered. Lydia looked less like she wanted to be there, but what had they said about her? That she was psychic? If it was something dealing with visions, he could see why she was sitting with the people who could get in your head for fun.

Erica and Cora were playing Jenga with only their minds and that was admittedly pretty cool.

Laura and Isaac were sitting farther off. Laura would point at someone and Isaac would make faces in their direction. Stiles assumed it had something to do with untangling emotions.

When Laura pointed in his direction, Stiles slammed his eyes shut. He peeked in under ten seconds, peering at them from under his eyelashes. Isaac was staring at him with this kicked puppy look on his face that made Stiles feel like he was being pitied. It was disconcerting.

He risked a glance over to Boyd, who wasn’t even pretending to meditate, just watching Stiles.

“Hey.” He said awkwardly. “What’s up?”

Boyd somehow managed to look indifferent and annoyed at the same time. “You scare people.” He stated plainly.

Stiles dropped his eyes. “Yeah, I know.”

Boyd stared at him for almost an entire minute, which made Stiles squirm. “Do you mean to?” He asked finally.

Stiles dragged a hand down his face and sighed. “Nah. No, I don’t, but…” He trailed off. When he looked up, Erica was watching them with a worried look on her face. She narrowed her eyes at Stiles when she caught him looking. “It happens.”

Another pause.

“Talia told me that I could eventually touch you, once I have my gift under control.” Boyd said. Stiles hummed, pleased at getting an answer to the question he’d never gotten around to asking.

“Yeah. First thing Talia did when I walked into her office was give me a hug.” He shared. “First time in three years.”

Boyd raised an eyebrow at him. Stiles got the feeling that this was as interested as he ever looked. “Did you like it?”

Stiles blinked at him. He didn’t think anyone would have the balls, or maybe the forethought, to ask that question. He figured that they’d either think he despised it because his evil powers didn’t work or that he’d loved it because it had been such a long time.

“I don’t know.” He confessed. “I’m just- It’s been so long, you know? Well, obviously you don’t know, but you kinda get used to the no touchy-touchy rule after a while and then some lady is just randomly jumping on you and feeling you up - shit, I didn’t mean to make that sound so creepy -  and it really wasn’t enough time to sort out if it was an okay feeling or not.” Stiles stopped talking abruptly. “Sorry, I’m rambling. I tend to do that.”

Boyd looked at him with something that was almost a smile. “That’s okay.”

Stiles hesitantly smiled.

“Stiles.” Peter called in a sing song voice from across the room. “I’m not seeing any meditating.”

He flipped him off but closed his eyes and made a sarcastic hum all the same. Boyd breathed out a low laugh and didn’t attempt to make conversation anymore.

Meditating was hard, with the ADHD. Stiles ended up sitting there blankly for an hour, mentally cataloging the other people in the room. Erica and Cora butted heads frequently, which he guessed was from their strong personalities clashing. Malia was bitchy but really seemed angry and frustrated at everybody and everything. Peter was snarky and impatient with his daughter, which did nothing to help her.

Lydia looked haunted. She had a blank look in her eyes and stared off into space while Peter and Malia bickered, twisting a strand of hair around her finger. She didn’t chew her lip or bite her nails or fidget with the end of her dress. She looked perfectly composed at first glance.

But there was just something in her eyes that made Stiles look twice. He finally diverted his attention when she looked up and met his gaze.

The doors flew open, distracting everybody from their activities. Malia’s look of concentration flickered out like a flame. Lydia snapped to attention, straightening her spine. Erica and Cora’s building blocks crashed to the table and Isaac clutched his head, looking like he was in pain. Laura rushed to comfort him.

Boyd’s reaction was the slowest. He kept meditating a good five seconds after everyone else was positioned towards the doors, before lazily opening his eyes.

Frederick, Talia’s husband, stood in the doorway, looking ever so diplomatic. Derek stood behind him, considerably grouchier.

“Sunday’s practice is over. Lunchtime.” He smiled and disappeared from the doorway, ghosting down the hall with an elegance that was frankly a little off putting. Derek looked at them all blankly.

Stiles realized, abruptly, that he hadn’t eaten all day. Practice must’ve started later than he’d realized.

Well, he had spent most of last night staving off a panic attack. Who could blame him for being tired really?

Stiles followed the herd when they all pushed up and migrated towards the kitchen. He was careful to hang back while everyone shoved each other to get to the bar stools at the island. There wasn’t much space left after that, so he sat at the little breakfast nook in the corner. It had a nice view, at least.

Lunch was not only breakfast-for-dinner type deal, but also self serve, so Stiles had to wait fifteen minutes before everyone was settled in before he could go up to get food. When he did, there was very little left, only pathetic scraps of eggs, a few pieces of bacon, and a slice of toast.

Stiles sighed and scooped up what was left before moving back to his little nook.

Surprisingly, a minute or two after he sat down, Isaac and Boyd slid in across from him.

“Hey,” Stiles said. “What up?”

Boyd nodded seriously and Isaac smiled, although it was hesitant and small. “You looked like you could use the company.”

Stiles wasn’t going to push any friendship he could get, so he just nodded and shoved some bacon in his mouth. At least the food here was good.

Lunch was mostly a quiet affair. Boyd seemed content to sit and eat his food in silence, and Isaac seemed to struggle with the urge to make conversation, but not knowing what to say.

The others watched them. The adults were sitting together at the round table that sit in the clear space next to the entryway. Laura looked after him with concern. Frederick, with fear, and Derek with barely concealed disgust. The cluster of teenagers on the barstools were staring, as if they expected him to kill someone just because he could.

It was awkward, to say the least.

“So,” Isaac finally spat out. “How bout them Mets?”

Stiles’ lips quirked up into a smile. Isaac was alright.

Chapter Text

The first day of school was an interesting experience. Derek hadn’t gone to get Stiles’ Jeep yet, so he was, unfortunately, in the carpool lane.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” He muttered to himself when he stepped outside. Everyone else was piling into a minivan more suited to a mom than to Peter, but Derek was standing in front of a sleek Camaro and giving Stiles a death glare. He crooked a finger, beckoning him forward.

Stiles sighed and marched up to him. “So,” He made a grand, sweeping gesture to the car. “Is this my ride?”

Derek glared. “The van is too crowded. Someone could accidentally touch you.”

“Right,” Stiles shuffled forward and ducked into the passenger seat. “So,” He said when Derek was situated behind the wheel. “What’s gonna happen when I’m just hanging out in the hallways? Bodies pulsing and pushing together, doing their bodily things?”

Derek’s fingers flexed on the wheel. He pulled out of the driveway and followed the minivan down the road, refusing to look at Stiles. “Well, what did you do in Arizona?”

“Behaved like a normal person. I could’ve ridden in the minivan you know. Not that I want to.” He rushed to add.

Derek grit his teeth. “Then why are you even bringing it up?”

“Because-” Stiles cut himself off and chewed on his lip. He didn’t want to get upset about being treated like a freak right before his first day of school. “Never mind.” He sat back and crossed his arms.

They drove the rest of the way in awkward silence. Stiles never thought he would be so happy to see a school, ever. He practically threw himself from the Camaro and tripped over several people. In the end though, it was his own shoelace that betrayed him, causing his feet to slip over the pavement.

A hand caught him by the arm before he could go down. Stiles quickly straightened himself out, adjusting his bag and smoothing out his clothes. “Thanks, dude.” He breathed.

“No problem,” The guy that had caught him had floppy dark hair and a crooked jaw, but he seemed friendly by the way he smiled. “I’m Scott.”

“Stiles.”

“Well, uh, Stiles,” He could practically hear the question in that non-question. “You must be new. I’ve never seen you, and Beacon Hills is a pretty small place.”

“Yeah,” Stiles bobbed his head as they both turned to walk to the doors together. “Yep, just moved this weekend.”

“Cool,” Scott smiled at him, but something behind Stiles caught his attention. “Um, did you move in with the Hales?”

“Uh huh, how’d you know?”

Scott shrugged and pushed his fringe out of his face, all the while managing to avoid Stiles’ eyes. “Uh, no reason. We get a lot of new kids that way, so. Also, they’re kinda staring at you.”

Stiles whipped around. They were all standing at the edge of the sidewalk in a big cluster, eyes trained right on Stiles. Lydia was the first to break formation and stride up the steps, her heels clicking on the sidewalk.

She didn’t stop for Stiles though, instead breezing right past him and plastering on a smile that would be convincing if he hadn’t seen her with that vacant expression fixed on her face all weekend. Lydia weaved her arm through a guy’s who had stopped in the doorway and led him into the school with a tug and a fake, musical laugh.

Stiles gaped after her. “Who was that?”

“Jackson Whittemore,” The name rolled off Scott’s tongue with more than a little distaste. “Him and Lydia have been dating for like a year.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah, but don’t you live in a house with her?”

Stiles shrugged. Him and Scott started walking and fell into step again. “Yeah, but let’s just say she isn’t very forthcoming. None of them are, really.”

“Really? The way they act I assumed the living situation was that ‘one big family’ type deal.”

Stiles wasn’t sure what to say to that, so he changed the subject. “All I know is I have my laptop, so I’m good.”

Scott chuckled good naturedly. “So, uh, what’s wrong with you?”

Stiles stopped his fidgeting to stare at Scott with wide eyes. “Excuse me?”

Scott blushed, a furious red color, and blinked several times in a row. “Well, you know, everyone from the Hale House is a little weird. Lydia is stone cold, half of them are hostile, I’ve never seen Boyd show any emotion beyond mildly amused,” Scott shrugged. “C’mon dude, you’re wearing gloves. In August. In California.”

Stiles scoffed. “I’ll have you know I’m a hand model. It’s in my contract to wear them year round.”

“Really?” Scott’s eyes went wide. Stiles didn’t expect him to actually think he was a hand model, but he’d take what he could get and changed the subject.

“Where’s the office? Maybe we’ll have some classes together.”

Scott opened his mouth, but his eyes drifted over Stiles’ shoulder again and he got a constipated look on his face. Stiles raised an eyebrow at him and waited for an answer, but Scott seemed so flustered that he couldn’t stutter out one.

“We’ll take you to the office.”

Stiles spun around. Boyd was looming over his shoulder, looking calm and kind of like a bodyguard. Isaac was behind him, looking anxious and picking at his scarf. Stiles wasn’t the type of person that could really talk about other people’s fashion choice when he looked like a mixture between a Mormon girl and a nineties grunge cover model, but a scarf? Really?

“Oh,” Stiles rubbed a hand over his head. “That’s good too.” What if they weren’t allowed to have friends outside the house? No, that couldn’t be true, Lydia had a boyfriend and seemingly hundreds of worshipers, judging by the way they swarmed around her.

They had different gifts though. What if Stiles in particular couldn’t have friends? That would make sense, considering he’s “volatile.” Everyone seemed to think he couldn’t behave in normal human society, even though he’d done just fine in Arizona and the two other states before that. He pasted on a shaky smile to cover up the fact he was having a mini crisis.

Boyd turned and walked to the doors without ever glancing back to see if Stiles would follow. Isaac hung back a little to allow for Stiles to walk by him. He smiled at him, probably sensing his internal panic.

Stiles nodded to Scott, who still looked a little put off, and caught up to Isaac. Isaac smiled at him and squeezed his gloved hand comfortingly.

It was a small gesture, but Isaac and Boyd were easily the nicest people in the house to Stiles, besides Laura. The other adults, including Derek, treated him with trepidation, always wary. The girls in the house were aggressive from far away, except for Lydia, who watched his every move with interest but refused to talk to him.

The bell rang right as they got to the office. Isaac smiled at him and slipped into the crowd, presumably to go to class. He had a pained expression on his face, probably from all the overwhelming emotions. His gift was easier than Stiles’, but had its own ups and downs.

Boyd stayed with him. He calmly asked the receptionist about Stiles’ schedule, which. Stiles could ask for himself. He appreciated the gesture anyway.

“You have English Lit first period. Lydia’s in that class.” Boyd gave him a severe look as he led him to the classroom. “Don’t kill anyone.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Thanks, Yoda. Don’t know what I would do without you.” Boyd made angry eyebrows at him and shoved him in the classroom, but there was definitely a smile on his face when he turned away.

The classroom was staring at him with varying degrees of interest. Lydia looked from him to the empty seat beside her and back to him again several times. Her boyfriend was staring Stiles down.

“Stiles,” The teacher smiled. It was pleasant but off putting somehow. He snuck a glance at the schedule Boyd had shoved at him. Right beside English Lit, it was printed in bold letters: Jennifer Blake.

“Ms. Blake,” Stiles did a little wave.

“Well, you can have a seat anywhere,” She started going through papers on her desk. “I’m not sure where I placed your syllabus, so you can just sit in this lesson.”

Stiles turned to the room. There were three empty seats, one of which by Lydia, where she was obviously expecting him to sit. They must’ve all been told to keep an eye on him at school. It made anger burn under his skin, just a little, so he looked at the other two seats.

One was in the very back by an air conditioner (no thank you) but the other was by a smiling Scott. Score. He ignored Lydia’s bug eyed expression as he went and sat down.

Scott motioned for Stiles to hand over his schedule and then looked over it with a very serious expression. “Cool, we have a lot of classes together.”

The girl in front of Scott turned around. She had dark hair and a kind smile, but there was something about her eyes that put him off. “Hi,” She said. “I’m Allison. Scott’s girlfriend.”

“Stiles. New kid.”

“Where’d you move here from?” She looked like she meant the conversation starter, but was probably only doing it for Scott’s benefit.

“Arizona.”

“Why’d you move?”

“Uh, living situations changed.” He said awkwardly. He didn’t know the official cover story of why a bunch kids were mysteriously living with a rich family in the woods, and he didn’t want to say too much. He opened his mouth to say more, but a piece of paper came flying out of nowhere and bounced off his head.

Stiles frowned at it and picked it up off the floor, unfolding the wad. On the paper was neat cursive handwriting: Don’t talk to Allison. She’s dangerous. Will explain later.

It wasn’t signed but Stiles could guess who it was from. Stiles glanced over his shoulder. Lydia wasn’t looking in his direction, but her shoulders looked tense.

Stiles wasn’t the best rule follower, but he’d learned that the kids in the house don’t fuck around. He shrugged off any other questions Allison asked him throughout class and mostly doodled on the note.

 

__________________

 

Stiles caught up to Lydia outside the door. He grabbed her arm and pretended not to notice when she flinched. “What was that all about?”

She sighed and twisted her arm out of his grip, looking around. Jackson was standing with a group of friends a few feet ahead, looking at her with a questioning look. She avoided his eyes. “Walk with me.” She snapped.

The way her heels clicked on the floor sounded like power. Stiles followed.

“So,” He started. “Why exactly should I not talk to Allison?”

“It’s not why you shouldn’t, it’s why you can’t. You can’t talk to Allison.” She smiled at a girl who passed her by in a cheerleading suit.

“Okay and where do you get off telling me what to do?”

“Not me, Talia. She must have told Derek to tell you on the ride over here but he forgot. Probably too annoyed with your incessant questioning.” A guy in glasses with a weird haircut called out a greeting to Lydia, but she didn’t bother to even look in his direction.

Stiles huffed. “Well then, why can’t I?”

Lydia suddenly stopped in front of a door, flung it open, and pulled him inside. She closed it swiftly and quietly. A second later, a cheap light bulb flickered to light, Lydia holding the string attached to it. She dropped it like she’d been burned and fished hand sanitizer out of her bookbag.

“Because,” She said. “Allison and her family are hunters.”

Stiles raised an eyebrow. “Hunters of what?”

“Of us you idiot.” She hissed. “All the Argents are hunters. They’re always threatening Talia that if we step out of line, they’ll kill whoever lost control. They don’t believe in rehabilitation at Eichen. Either Talia gets us in there first or we’re executed.”

Stiles blinked at her. “Surely-”

“Surely it can’t be that bad?” She raised an eyebrow back. “We had another girl who got premonitions, she cracked. We got her in Eichen before it was too late, but Kate Argent decided all of us were too dangerous. When Talia was supervising our practices, Kate locked us in the library. Laura and Derek caught her as she was spreading gasoline. She was going to burn us to death.”

Stiles felt like all the air had left his lungs. He stared at Lydia horrified.

“And that’s why you can’t talk to Allison Argent.” She finished with finality, spinning on her heels and exiting the closet, leaving Stiles staring at the bleach on the shelves, trying to process what he’d just been told.

 

__________________

 

Just looking at Allison was hard after he knew the truth.

She didn’t do anything to him. She probably didn’t even know much about him. She walked with him and Scott in the hallways and they split up as the bell rang.

Scott was great though. He laughed at Stiles’ jokes and gave him the down low about everyone in the school. He couldn’t imagine Scott, the human embodiment of a puppy, could ever potentially want to kill him. Plus, he already knew Stiles lived in the Hale House.

It wasn’t until chemistry that everything came to a head.

When he walked in, Erica and Lydia looked up from where they were chatting and narrowed their eyes in sync. Isaac and Boyd perked up, Isaac making a sympathetic face at Stiles’ anxiety. There were no open seats.

“You must be the new kid.” A voice said, right beside Stiles’ ear. He jumped and spun around, hands coming up to clasp over the skin there. There was a screech that was probably Boyd getting ready to get up.

“Um, yeah, yep, that’s me.” Stiles stuttered.

The teacher nodded and surveyed the room. He sneered at Stiles “Well, you’ll have to pull up a third chair or work alone. Your choice.” Stiles smiled nervously and backed away from him.

Scott and Allison were sitting together. Stiles might have gone over there if he didn’t have so many eyes watching him. He went to grab a stool and pull it up at Isaac and Boyd’s work station when a hand shot out and grabbed his arm.

Stiles wrenched his arm out of the grip without thinking and turned to look at a shocked Scott. “Sorry,” Stiles apologized quickly. “I just don’t like being grabbed.” Scott nodded, although he still looked a little wary.

“Well, dude, you can sit with us,” Scott smiled. “Unless you’d rather sit with them?” He nodded his head over to Boyd and Isaac.

Allison looked confused. “Why would he sit over there?”

“Well, let me just grab a chair,” He sputtered when Scott opened his mouth. Stiles commandeered one from one of the back labs, having to walk between two tables of his housemates, who were all staring at him with some degree of anger or shock. Lydia glared at him.

If only Jackson was in this class to distract her.

The first half of class went on pretty normally. They listened to Harris drone on and added a few chemicals to a beaker, but then Harris excused himself without giving a proper excuse.

“Where’s he going?” Stiles elbowed Scott to get his attention.

“He always takes a smoke break around the end of class,” Scott looked away from where he was making heart eyes with Allison. “So dude, tell me what it’s like to live in the Hale House.”

Stiles and Allison froze at the same time. Stiles cautiously looked her over. Her face had dropped the pleasant smile and her hand was reaching for her boot, which definitely came up high enough that she’d be able to store a weapon in it. He could feel four sets of eyes on his back. Scott was oblivious to the tension.

“Um, you know,” Stiles said. “Like any other house. Just really big. A lot of people.”

“You live in the Hale House?” Allison asked.

“Uh,” He glanced over his shoulder. They were all watching him, tense. “Yeah. Just moved in.”

“Why?” She demanded, voice hard. Scott looked at her, shocked, but before Stiles could think of what to say, Harris came back through the door, the smell of tobacco trailing behind him. Stiles looked down and started to diligently write down what Harris was saying, word for word.

He felt like he’d just dropped the ball big time.

 

__________________

 

After class, Allison didn’t bother to wait up for Scott, who insisted on walking with Stiles. He saw her pull out her phone and start whispering to it, just as they made eye contact, and then she turned a corner.

When Derek came to pick him up that afternoon, he felt like he should say something about the incident, but Derek wasn’t really being a dick to him and he didn’t want to get told off by anyone else today.  That or he was just scared.

 

__________________

 

By the time they got back though, it didn’t matter if Stiles was scared or not, because Laura was standing on the front steps with a murderous expression on her face.

“Stiles,” She barked as soon as he stepped out of the car. “My mother’s office. Now.”

Derek got out of the car and looked between them. “What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened,” Laura growled. She was still dressed from work, which meant she was in tall Amazon heels, a pencil skirt, and a blazer that made her look frightening and looming. Her hair was pulled back away from her face, so there was nothing to distract the eye from how furious she was. “Let’s go, Stiles.”

Stiles rushed up the stairs, not checking to see if Derek was following. Laura led them through the house, announcing their presence with her thundering footsteps.

He wanted to say that this wasn’t his fault, but he wasn’t sure now was the time to be talking.

Laura pushed open the door to her mother’s office violently and went to stand by her mother’s side. Frederick and Mark were standing on the walls. Stiles was forced to move further in the office when Derek cleared his throat right behind him and waited for him to move before taking up position by the door and slamming it closed.

“Stiles,” Talia said, in a steely voice. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” She leaned forward, putting her elbows on her desk and clasping her hands. She looked very much like a principal.

“Uh,” Stiles answered. “No?”

“You have managed to destroy the fragile trust between us and the Argents, who I’m sure Derek told you about.” Her expression was vicious. “I was waiting for the perfect time to tell Chris about you, assumed you would be able to stay out of trouble for at least one day, but guess who I got a phone call from?”

Stiles didn’t guess.

Talia slammed her hand down and stood up, her chair rolling backwards and crashing into the wall. “I got a call from Chris Argent, demanding to know about our new student his daughter had run into at school.”

“Well I didn’t even know about the Argents until I’d already talked to her,” Stiles rebuttled. “It’s not my fault you didn’t tell them about me.”

Talia paused in her tirade and her expression crumpled. She huffed and pushed a hair back into place. “You’re right. I guess it’s not,” Something seemed to occur to her then. “What do you mean you didn’t know about the Argents?”

Stiles fiddled. He didn’t want to get Derek in trouble, but he wasn’t about to go down with this ship. “Lydia told me after first period. I guess Derek was supposed to tell me in the car, but he never did.”

Talia glared at her son. Derek closed his eyes and winced.  

“Well then,” Talia declared. “I guess the blame really falls on me. I should have told you myself, yesterday. I just assumed you wanted to be left alone, and trusted one of my grown kids to tell you something vital to day to day life,” She sighed. “I’m sorry Stiles.”

Shockingly, it wasn’t ground out through clenched teeth, like he had expected any kind of apology from Talia Hale to be. It was soft and sincere, her expression truly remorseful. She looked like a mother in that moment. Which she was, but it was easy to forget.

“We will be having dinner with the Argents Friday, so be ready. We have to show them you’re not a threat.”

Talia dismissed him after that, and even after he’d escaped down the hall he could hear her raised voice, presumably directed at Derek.

Later, right before dinner, a knock sounded on his door. Stiles reluctantly rolled off his bed to see who it was.

Laura stood on the other side, hands clasped in front of her. She’d changed out of her work clothes and was wearing soft jeans and a t shirt. “I’m sorry.” She stated.

Stiles stared. First Talia, now Laura?

“I shouldn’t have talked to you like that. I didn’t know the full story. I only knew that we are in a bad place with the Argents, and I took it out on you. After,” She took a deep breath. “After Kate-”

“We all make mistakes,” Stiles interrupted. He didn’t say it was okay. “Just don’t do it again next time.”

She nodded dutifully, and then turned when Mark called her from downstairs. They were probably fixing dinner. Stiles waved her away.

Stiles smiled once he’d closed the door. He’d built a bridge. He’d have to get over it before it was torn down.

If Talia and Laura felt so guilty for prematurely accusing him, then they were surely going to feel like they owed him the benefit of the doubt when they couldn’t find him. That would give Stiles plenty of extra time to get the hell out of dodge.

 

__________________

 

Stiles went down to dinner when he was called and tried not to dread it.

This time, they ate in the dining room, which had a long table and enough seats for everyone. This time, thank God, the plates were already sitting on the table, ready to eat. He cautiously took the empty chair beside Boyd and across from Isaac. Talia sat at the head of the table, like a monarch, Frederick to her right and Peter to her left, the rest of the adults fanned out after them.

On Stiles’ other side was Lydia, who didn’t look bothered by his presence in the slightest. Erica did, however. She was sitting in front of Boyd and sneered at him.

“I heard you got the Argents on our asses. Good going.” She growled.

Stiles ducked his head and ran a hand over it, prepared to sit there quietly and try not to cause trouble.

Turns out he didn’t have to say anything. “It wasn’t his fault,” Lydia said from beside him. Isaac’s fork clattered to his plate when he looked up, startled, and Erica froze. Cora started and Boyd had become perfectly still. They were all looking between Stiles and Lydia.

“What?” She demanded, when they didn’t stop looking. She chewed on a green bean. “It wasn’t. He doesn’t deserve the blame, Erica. If anything, it’s me at fault.”

“You?” Cora asked, eyes wide.

"Yes, me, I should’ve made sure he knew. I am the smartest out of all of you,” She said primly. When Erica tried to stutter out a response, Lydia interrupted in the same, polite tone she’d had all evening. “Don’t try arguing.”

Stiles smirked behind a forkful of steak.

Chapter Text

The next few days were kind of- anticlimactic? Stiles didn’t know what he was expecting, in the days leading up to that Friday, but it wasn’t what came.

There were no assaults and violent threats from Allison that dramatic TV shows set in the middle of high school had prepared him for. There were some glares and creepy staring across the room, but nothing dramatic. Scott still talked to him. Enthusiastically, in fact.

Mostly, Boyd and Isaac helped him steer clear, and by helped, Stiles meant forced. Erica, Cora, and Malia were hostile from a distance, except for when Stiles glared back at them. Then they scattered like bugs.

Lydia seemed to have retreated back into her shell. She’d share looks with him from time to time, or give him small pieces of advice that sounded like it came from a fortune cookie, but she mostly stared blankly at walls. Sometimes, she sketched.

Practices were boring, no progress made. Dinners were boring, no progress made. Derek had seemed to only get more aggressive after the little spat with Talia. Stiles had tried to apologize one day, when Derek was driving him back to the house.

Derek had growled that it wasn’t Stiles fault while sounding very much like he blamed Stiles before turning rock music up. Which, combined with the scowl and leather jacket, seemed a little cliche.

The only thing that could really be considered strange in a house full of freaks happened on Thursday night, when Stiles jerked awake at the sound of screaming.

It sounded like someone was being tortured. He threw his bedroom door open and stuck his head out the door.

Boyd and Isaac were looking out from the room they shared across the hall. The screams were still ringing through the house when Derek walked down their hallway and assured them everything was alright.

“Lydia having another nightmare?” Boyd asked, concern creasing his brow. Derek nodded and ordered them to go back to bed.

Stiles realized he was wearing only a t-shirt and boxers when Derek gave him a slow once over and a raised brow.

Stiles flushed and slammed the door shut.

 

__________________

 

Friday night, Stiles changed into something nice; not anything fancy, just a button up shirt without wrinkles and a pair of faux leather gloves. Thankfully, he didn’t have much hair style.   Everyone looked nice, in attire that reminded Stiles of Sunday School, and Isaac with that damn scarf. Frederick came by and yanked it off with a disappointed look.

Talia arranged them by the front door, in a cluster with Stiles standing just a little to the side. She smoothed out her dress and waited patiently, as headlights flashed through the curtains in the living room and several car doors slammed shut. It took a minute, but a knock came at the door.

When Talia opened it, a middle aged couple stepped through, with Allison peering over their shoulders.

“Chris,” Talia said pleasantly. “Nice to see you again.”

“Likewise,” one half of the couple replied. Apparently his name was Chris. Allison looked at Stiles uneasily. “Wish it could be under better circumstances though.”

“Yes, of course,” Talia agreed through a fake smile. She stepped back so the teenagers were in better view. “You know my children. And this is Stiles.” She put an arm around him delicately, careful not to touch his skin.

“Yes,” This time, it was the woman who spoke. Her voice sounded like it was dripping with venom. “We’ve heard so much about him. I have to say, not telling us about him immediately… it’s almost enough to break the treaty.” She looked over them disdainfully.

Stiles could hear Talia grinding her teeth. “Yes,” she narrowed her eyes. “Almost.”

He got the feeling this wasn’t going to go particularly well.

“Stiles,” Talia cooed. “This is Chris Argent and his wife, Victoria.” Chris offered his hand without  a glint of fear, but stared at his gloves strangely when Stiles shook his hand. Victoria simply nodded at him.

“Well, I’m sure you know my daughter,” Victoria said evenly. Allison smiled, polite, if a little strained.

There was a tense silence before Frederick cleared his throat. “Well, wouldn’t want the food to get cold.” He jerked his head toward the kitchen and motioned for Mark and Derek to follow, which they did obediently. They went about setting the table.

“Yes,” Talia agreed. “Wouldn’t want it to get cold.” She spun on her heel and led the way to the dining room. Everyone followed after her, the Argents right on her heels. Allison fell back to walk alongside Stiles.

“What’s your ‘gift?’” Allison asked, complete with air quotes. She eyed him up and down.

“Has Talia not told you?”

“No.”

“Well,” Stiles sighed. “That’s just… fantastic.” He scampered off to his seat before she could ask him again.

Talia sat at the head of the table, Chris Argent on the opposite side. His wife and daughter crowded around him, and Talia’s immediate family crowded around her. They couldn’t actually avoid each other though. The table wasn’t big enough for there to be any empty chairs.

Stiles was seated closer to Talia, pretty damn close to the door. Silence sat heavy in the room, interrupted only by the clink of silverware on plates.

“Stiles,” Chris said, pushing around the food on his plate. Stiles almost felt like sighing at the break of tension. “Talia hasn’t told us much about you. Where are you from?”

“Arizona.” He snuck a peek at Talia. She didn’t look displeased, but one could never know.

“That’s interesting,” Victoria said. “What about your family?”

Stiles fidgeted. “My dad’s a cop. The sheriff, actually. He’s getting a transfer so he can be closer.”

“That’s different,” Victoria remarked.

“Yes, it is,” Talia interrupted. “Fascinating. Tell me, Chris, how is your father?” She took a delicate bite of salmon.

Chris’ grip on his fork tightened. “He’s good, thank you.”

“Really? Because I heard he wasn’t following your code too well. On the fast track to following your sister.”

Everyone hushed. The eating paused. Whispers between those sitting close together ceased. Everyone’s eyes darted between Talia and Chris.

Chris glared across the table. “I see word spreads fast. Just like word of your unregistered student.”

“Oh, come on Chris,” Talia smirked. “We both know that silly registry you Argents have doesn’t actually mean anything. Right?” Her eyes darkened. “That is what we discussed.”

“Of course,” Victoria added. “My husband was just trying to make a point.”

“And what point was that?” Laura chimed in. Peter grunted in agreement.

“That we have an arrangement,” Victoria’s growled. “An arrangement that the gifted,” she sneered at the word, “could stay here, as long as we’re informed of them and they don’t act out.”

“Well, I don’t see what the big deal is,” Talia raised her eyebrows. Stiles didn’t know how she was doing it, but every word that came out her mouth sounded calm and convincing. “He hasn’t acted out, as you said. We’ve just been so busy with his arrival that we were waiting for the perfect time to tell you.”

Victoria opened her mouth, but before she could get a word out, Chris interrupted her. “Yes, I suppose that’s true. Stiles has done nothing wrong.” He shot his wife a look. Victoria backed down immediately and took a sip of water.

“Yes,” Talia said, amiable. “Exactly. I’m so glad you can see reason.”

“Of course,” Chris smiled. “So, Stiles, what is your gift? We haven’t heard much from you at all.”

“Ah,” Stiles stalled. Talia’s lips thinned, and even Peter looked anxious. “Well, I, kind of, you know-”

“Yes?” Victoria urged impatiently.

“Um, there’s no real name for it, I guess uh,” He tried to get help from anyone at the table, even Peter, but they were all avoiding his gaze. “I touch things and they die,” he blurted.

Allison, who had been silent up until this point, dropped her spoon. “What?” She screeched.

Victoria pushed her chair back away from the table, but didn’t stand. “Excuse me?” She narrowed her eyes.

Chris slammed his hands down on the table, but managed to keep his voice below a yell. “Are you telling me that you’ve allowed someone who can kill a person with contact into your home and didn’t see fit to tell me?”

Talia sighed out of her nose. “I was trying to find the right time.”

Allison gasped. “Dad, he’s around Scott all day. Scott freaking loves him, they might touch,” she exclaimed. She sounded desperate.

“On top of bringing him here, you let him go to school too?” Chris snarled.

“We’re not going to deprive him of his education,” Talia retorted, raising her voice to match.

Chris stood up, sending his chair careening back into the wall. Frederick barked out a bad word when it scuffed the paint. “He’s a killing machine, Talia. He shouldn’t even be here, he should be in Eichen.”

Talia stood up too. “Any of these children could kill you.” She motioned to the teens, none of whom were glaring at Stiles for once, but hunching their shoulders nervously and avoiding eye contact.

“Not as easily as this kid,” he gestured to Stiles. “He’s basically primed to be a killer.”

“You’re letting your prejudice get the best of you,” Talia scolded. “Stiles has just as much the right to be here as any of the other kids.”

Lydia suddenly stood up and ran from the room, muttering something about the bathroom.

Victoria leaped up, Allison following, now that it was clear they would all be yelling. “I insist you put him in Eichen,” she barked, Chris nodding along.

“I will not.”

“Why, it’s not like any of the others want him here,” Allison added. “Do you want him here?” she asked Boyd. “Do you?” This time, Erica. Neither of them said anything.

Isaac put his head down on the table and wrapped his arms around his ears. Laura was in a similar state, farther down the table, clutching her head with both hands as emotions swirled around in the air.

“You’re hurting my daughter and Isaac. Antagonizing us like this will only make it worse.” Both Erica and Cora were struggling with keeping hold of their powers, silverware and dishes rattling and floating off the table. Malia’s face was scrunched up in concentration.

“Stiles is not a murderer. He is under my protection, and if you insist we go to war, then we go to war.”

Everything was tense. Then, Victoria muttered, “dumb bitch,” and all Hell broke loose.

Peter pushed to his feet and started yelling at Victoria that she was the bitch. Frederick said something similar, jumping to his wife’s defense, and Mark started screaming about how disrespectful they were, all while Talia and Chris were in a yelling match all their own.

“I guess freaks love freaks, don’t they,” Allison sneered. Cora let a fork fly at her, which Allison barely missed. She curled her lips back in a nasty face and pulled a fucking knife out of her boot. She lunged.

Erica threw Allison across the room and Malia tried to charge. It was Boyd who held her back. Cora screamed and glasses shattered, shards of glass going everywhere. Derek was trying to calm her down, to no avail.

Stiles surveyed the room. All the yelling, screaming, glares, violence. It was almost too easy to slip out of the room undetected.

He crept around the corner, up the stairs to his room, and grabbed the bag he’d haphazardly stuffed under his bed, filled with clothes and Laura’s cash. She really shouldn’t just leave her purse laying out like that, but Stiles was grateful she did. He threw a black hoodie on and made his way back down the stairs.

He would be going out the back door. He was almost there, his hand already on the handle, when the bathroom door creaked open and yellow light illuminated the hallway.

Lydia stood in the doorway. Her hair was still perfect and her dress free of wrinkles, but she was looking at him strangely. As if he were someone else.

“Don’t go,” she said softly.

Stiles winced. “I’m sorry. I have to.”

Lydia shook her head emphatically, her curls flying around her face like a halo. She wrapped her arms around herself, tight, and clutched at her dress in a grip so tight Stiles was surprised she wasn’t tearing the fabric.

“You don’t understand what it’s like out there. It’s not safe.” Her lower lip started to tremble.

“Lydia, I’ve lived out there, a lot longer than you. I know how to keep myself hidden, and safe.”

“No, no,” Her eyes started to brim with tears. “Please don’t. Everyone who leaves…” She looked down. “I’ve seen things, Stiles. I’ve seen what happens when you leave here. I know what happens after tonight, and you don’t want to go.”

“I can’t stay here,” Stiles tried to explain. “No one wants me here. What good am I doing? My dad needs me.”

“Your dad is moving here to be with you. It doesn’t have to be like this.” Now she was getting frustrated. She swiped at a tear that rolled down her cheek. “It’s awful out there, Stiles. I’ll tell Talia if I have to.”

Stiles panicked and spit the words out before he could properly think them through. “Come with me.”

She looked at him strangely and tilted her head. “That could change it,” she said faintly. In the dining room, another dish shattered. “Yes, that would change it.” She looked down at her dress and high heels. “I’m not prepared to be going anywhere though.”

The longer they stood here talking, the more angsty Stiles became. He shuffled back and forth on his feet. “Well, how fast can you pack a bag?”

She stood there for just a second before slipping her shoes off and streaking up the stairs, surprisingly fast and quiet. Stiles eyed the door and considered leaving her.

He didn’t have to. Lydia was back down in what had to be some kind of record. She’d put on a pair of leggings and a t-shirt much too big for her. Her feet were clad in comfortable-looking boots.

“Are you not taking anything?”

“I don’t need much more.” She reached into her shirt, and then probably into her bra, and pulled out a thick wad of cash, way more than Stiles had swiped from Laura. “I can buy anything else.”

Stiles stared at her. Lydia was officially an enigma. He might’ve stayed in shock for longer, but he heard Talia’s raised voice in the dining room and knew he couldn’t wait.

“Well then,” he said, and opened the door to the warm California night. “Let’s go.”

 

__________________

 

They ran all the way to town. Lydia didn’t complain, but she gave Stiles dirty looks at the fast pace.

That was okay. They couldn’t afford to take their time. As soon as the others figured out they were gone, they would be out looking for them.

“Did you bring your phone?” Stiles panted.

“Of course not,” Lydia huffed. “Cell phones can be tracked. Why, did you bring yours?”

“No. I was just making sure.”

“I know not to bring a phone while running away,” she snapped.

Stiles grunted. “Okay, sorry.” Apparently, Lydia was touchier than he realized.

They came to a fork in the road. They both lead to the heart of the town, but one took you through the rich neighborhoods first. Stiles went ahead and jogged in the opposite direction, with the bus station being closer that way, but Lydia stopped and stared at the opposite way. Stiles was a good fifteen feet from her before he even noticed.

He stopped in the middle of the road and bounced on the balls of his feet. “Um, Lydia?”

She hummed, not taking her eyes off the road.

“What are you doing?”

She blinked at him and seemed to snap out of whatever sort of daze she was in. “Sorry,” she whispered and ran to catch up with him. “My parents live down that way is all.”

Lydia’s parents lived here? In town? They were never mentioned, nor were the other kids’, so Stiles just assumed the other families lived farther away, like his dad. If Lydia’s family was so close, why didn’t they visit? Or why didn’t she visit them?

Those were questions for another time though. Stiles picked up the pace.

 

__________________

 

Lydia paid for the bus tickets with her bra money, and the creepy old clerk looked like he was going to cream himself when she reached into her cleavage right in front of him. Stiles looked away and gnawed on his lip, feeling distinctly uncomfortable.

They immediately boarded. Lydia led him all the way to the back and they took the last two seats, across the aisle from each other. They didn't say a word.

They waited for the bus to load in tense silence. People shuffled on slowly, so slowly Stiles was worried Derek would pull up in his shiny Camaro and demand Stiles get off the bus. After what felt like a lifetime, the bus doors closed and they finally pulled out of the parking lot.

Stiles sighed in relief.

Chapter Text

"What? I think it’s a valid question.”

Lydia just glared at him. “We have no way of knowing. We don’t have our phones.”

Stiles glanced around the bus. “You think we can ask someone to look it up?” He chewed on the end of his hoodie string.

“No Stiles, we can’t ask someone to look up how many corgis the Queen of England has,” Lydia exclaimed. “It’s early, I’m tired, and my only pillow is one of your balled up hoodies. Let me sleep.”

Stiles held up his hands in surrender. “Fine, fine. I was just curious.”

“You’re always curious about something,” Lydia said grumpily into her makeshift pillow. He let it slide. She was uncharacteristically bitchy when she was tired.

Stiles had had no idea how much he relied on his phone until he didn’t have it with him. Sure, he wasn’t constantly on it. He didn’t even have an Instagram. However, it had allowed him to check the time whenever he wanted, or satisfy his ADHD with just a few swipes. Honestly, he felt kind of lost.

He sighed and tried to read the time on the phone of the guy in front of Lydia. It wasn’t working.

If Stiles had to guess, they’d been on the bus well into the very early morning, maybe 1 am. He wished he could sleep like Lydia, but every time he dozed he startled awake, the thought of being caught by Peter, or worse, the Argents, keeping him up.

When Lydia told him about the Argents he’d thought she was exaggerating. He also thought that she wasn’t all there in the head. She seemed listless everywhere but school, and she woke up screaming in the middle of the night. Maybe being psychic drove you crazy.

He rubbed at his face and sunk lower in the seat, paranoia keeping him on a razor’s edge.

 

__________________

 

Stiles jolted at the noise of everyone shuffling. Despite his nerves, he’d managed to slip into a haze that left him even more tired than before.

The sun had just started to rise and was spilling through the bus windows. When Lydia sat up, her hair looked like fire.

“Where are we again?” she asked softly through a yawn.

“Just a little outside El Paso.”

She paused mid stretch. “Texas?”

“Um, yeah.” Stiles hadn’t bothered to put his bag in the compartment below the bus and carried it on with him to take up the extra room in his seat. He swung it over his shoulder and stood.

“Great.”

Stiles was too tired to ask her to elaborate on that sarcastic comment, so he simply waited for Lydia to get her things together and for the aisle to clear. When they got out of the air conditioning, the dry air immediately sucked all the moisture out of their skin. It was only early morning.

“Where to?” she whispered. It seemed the longer she was awake, the more she retreated back into her shell. It looked like it was up to Stiles to navigate them.

He walked up to the bus station, to the guy selling the tickets. “Hey,” Stiles said, trying to look as friendly as possible. It was hard when the heat was increasing and raising his body temperature inside all his layers. “Do you know where the nearest hotel around here is? We’re not from here.” He flashed his nicest smile.

The guy looked unimpressed. Stiles couldn’t blame him. He wouldn’t be very impressed with himself either.

“A few miles down the road,” the guy instructed. “There’s a motel.”

He didn’t elaborate any more than that. “Um,” Stiles prompted. “Do you happen to know how many miles? Or the name of the motel? Or where the nearest-”

“Eight miles, up the highway, keep going straight,” the guy interrupted. “It’s a Comfort Inn. There are people waiting behind you.” Stiles looked over his shoulder. Three people were milling behind him, each looking like they were in a different state of impatience. He decided to get out of there quickly and said a quick thanks to the guy.

Lydia was standing next to the bus, staring off into the distance. She’d wrapped Stiles’ hoodie around her waist.

“Well, looks like we’re going to be walking eight miles to get to the nearest motel,” Stiles said, reluctantly moving forward down the road. He was tired, not just sleepy, but the tired that settled in your bones. Stiles kind of felt like Lydia in that moment. Lifeless, void of emotion, empty.

That’s not fair, he reprimanded himself. He didn’t know what Lydia had been through and it wasn’t his place to assume.

She nodded and trotted after him. There weren’t many roads to follow, so the simple instructions of following the highway was easy. In fact, there weren’t any other roads for a long, long time.

 

__________________

 

When they finally reached the motel, Stiles felt like he was going to pass out from heat exhaustion. His shirt and hoodie were soaked with sweat and his hands felt like slip ‘n’ slides inside his gloves, the ones he’d worn to dinner the night before. There went one of his nicer pairs.

Lydia was faring much better, in just a t shirt and thin leggings, but she had a lot more hair than Stiles. Her makeup was smudged around her eyes and she was flushed up the chest and neck until it disappeared underneath her foundation.

When the motel finally came into view, Stiles thought he was going to cry. He was happy to fork up the cash for at least a week there.

When he finally got into his room, he immediately stripped off his gloves and started to peel off his hoodie. Lydia stood a safe distance away while he toed off his shoes and pulled some clothes out of his bag.

“I need to shower. Don’t go anywhere.” He had no idea where she would go anyway, but she nodded and sat down delicately on the bed.

The shower was lukewarm, because only idiots ever took cold showers, but it cooled him down just the same. The motel soap made his skin feel tacky and he was thankful he didn’t have to try and work the small bottles of shampoo and conditioner into his hair.

He came out of the bathroom in his most comfortable clothes and collapsed on the bed. Lydia was spread out similarly on the opposite side of the room.

“How is it,” he mused, “that we slept the entire way here and are still tired.”

Lydia hummed. “I know you didn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep much either.”

He turned his head to face her. “Yeah? Why’s that.”

She shrugged, although the motion was lost against the mattress. “The dreams are bad and I never know when they’ll come. That’s when most of them come anyway.”

“Them? You mean your visions?”

“It sounds a lot simpler than it is.” She pauses to wiggle up the bed, closer to the headboard, and pull a pillow under her head. “I don’t see just the future. I see the past, important events one might need to know. The present, what’s going on in different parts of the world. Short bursts of what could happen if I don’t change it.” Her voice relayed no emotion, and that somehow spoke louder than any words she could utter.

“That’s why I was screaming.” Lydia said it so quietly it was like she didn’t want Stiles to hear.

“Thursday night?” He watched her fists clench and unclench, the only sign of tension on her body.

“Yes.”

“Well, what did you see?”

She finally turned her head to look back at him. “Sometimes,” she breathed, something intense hovering in her eyes. “Telling people makes them screw up even more. Makes them think they can change it and end up causing more damage. So it’s best for you not to know. But,” she continued, “there is one thing I can tell you.”

There was a pause. “What?” Stiles finally asked after several seconds of silence.

Lydia smiled. It somehow only made the situation sadder. “I only ever see bad things.” Then her eyes drifted close.

 

__________________

 

They slept the rest of the day away and woke up to growling stomachs at noon. They agreed to double back to the last gas station they’d passed while walking down the interstate.

This time they walked leisurely. Stiles was wearing a loose t shirt and sweatpants and was feeling much cooler, therefore in a better mood. By better, he meant talkative. Lydia was wearing the same clothes as earlier and looked mildly disgruntled about it.

“Tell me more about the Argents.” Stiles felt like small talk was required on a long walk. “I know a little bit about the infamous Kate.” Well, he knew she was a psycho bitch. “Who’s Gerard?”

“Gerard is Chris’ father, Kate is Chris’ brother. Allison is Chris’ only child, which means she’ll inherit the legacy of the Argents. They’re usually a matriarchy, but Kate messed up her rule before it ever really began.”

“Yeah, so what was up with her, um, trying to burn everyone alive?  It couldn’t have been unprovoked.”

Lydia gave him a dark look. “We didn’t deserve it.”

“Woah, woah,” Stiles sputtered. “That wasn’t what I was saying at all. I just meant what did she perceive as a threat?”

Lydia glances around, like she’s feeling uneasy. He can’t blame her. “It was Merideth. She was like me, but she was older and had been living with it for much longer. It slowly drives you crazy, knowing all the bad things in the world.”

She pushed a stray strand of hair out of her face. “She saw that someone in the house was going to get… hurt, by Kate Argent, I guess you could say.”

"Who?”

Lydia shrugged. “It’s not my place to say. Meredith snuck out and tried to kill Kate before it could happen.”

“Um, wow,” Stiles said. “That was unexpected.”

“She was unsuccessful. That wasn’t a surprise at least. Kate put her in the hospital. The Argents wanted to execute her, but Talia got Meredith into Eichen first. Kate was so upset she tried to burn the house down with all of us inside, but I foresaw it and told Talia.”

“So where’s Kate now?”

“Dead.” That was the end of the conversation.

It took them about forty minutes to finally reach the gas station. Lydia went to look through the magazine racks while Stiles piled junk food in his arms. The cashier gave them a strange look when she caught sight of his gloves. By the time they got back to the hotel, they’d each eaten a bag of doritos and a granola bar from the six pack box they bought. Lydia requested a t shirt and took a shower to wash off all the sweat clinging to her skin.

This wasn’t ideal. They weren’t living in a nice house, with nice clothes, or sustainable food, but they were free. They were out in the real world. Out from under the thumb of Talia Hale.

So maybe it was just Lydia that made him think something was about to go terribly wrong.

 

__________________

 

It was their third trip to the gas station in the four days they’d been there. They’d managed to last a day at the most on a bulk of food before having to make the hike again.

“I think I’ve lost ten pounds by now,” Stiles grunted. The sun had set and the temperature dropped quickly, cooling the sweat dripping down his back. He adjusted the strap of the backpack full of food. They had already been in and out of the gas station.

“Doubtful,” Lydia sighed. “Any calories you’ve lost you’ve probably gained back from all the junk food.”

“Yeah, but we’re walking like two miles in each direction. A day,” he insisted. Lydia shrugged.

They shuffled to the side when a car came streaking down the road, but as it got closer to them, it slowed, until it was creeping beside them. Lydia and Stiles shared an uneasy look.

The car window slowly rolled down and a big man inside leered at them. He had wrinkled, sun damaged skin and bright red hair. One of his bottom teeth was severely crooked. “Hey darlin’,” he drawled, giving Lydia a slow look over. “How’re you doin’ today?”

She looked like a deer in the headlights. “I’m fine,” she murmured.

He smiled; a slow, grotesque thing. “Is that so?”

“Yeah,” Stiles interrupted. He grabbed Lydia’s elbow to try and tow her along faster. “We’re both doing good today, but I’m afraid we need to get going.”

“Is that so?” another male voice asked from inside the car. It was rougher and sounded scratchy.

“Uh,” Stiles’ confidence wavered. “Yep.”

The guy in the driver’s seat scratched at his scraggly beard. “Darlin’, is this fag here your boyfriend?”

Lydia hesitated. “Yes?”

“Does he like to share?” The man’s eyes drifted away from Lydia’s face and down her body.

“No, I don’t,” Stiles picked up his pace. “So you better keep moving.”

He really didn’t know what to do in this kind of situation, but he was going to go with posturing. It worked for assholes like Peter.

The car screeched to a stop. “Oh,” the guy growled. “We should keep moving, should we? I guess we should listen to this little shit then, shouldn’t we boys?” Another head popped up in between the two front seats. This guy had a slew of earrings and a neck tattoo. His shaved head made him look even more intimidating.

 The car door popped open and Stiles’ insides turned to ice.

 

__________________

 

“Assholes! Stop!” Stiles was screaming so loud his throat felt hoarse. He struggled against the arms holding him against his captor’s chest. They wrapped tight around him like bands.

The guy’s arms tightened, squeezing the breath out of Stiles. The ring leader was manhandling Lydia, pushing at her clothes in a way that made him sick to his stomach. Lydia was crying softly and struggling to get out of the man’s hold, but it was no use.

The third man was standing off to the side, leaning against the outdated car and smoking a cigarette, of all things.

Stiles flinched when the man grabbing at Lydia’s clothes cranked his arm back and struck her still with one punch. She immediately went limp. He didn’t know if that was because she didn’t have any fight left in her, or because she’d been knocked unconscious.

“Don’t fucking touch her,” Stiles choked out, as loud as he could manage without his lungs being able to fully expand. “I’ll kill you.”

The man at his back chuckled. “I’d like to see you try, kid.” Fury burned underneath Stiles’ skin.

He knew what he could do. He knew the easy way out of this situation, the easiest and probably the safest was to go about this. It felt so dirty though, like there was a layer of filth under his skin.

Stiles watched, sick to his stomach, as Lydia’s shirt was shoved up and her leggings pulled down. He flinched at the hand that started to caress her. When he saw her silent sobs, however, when the faint glow of the car’s headlights were cast over her face just perfectly to see her lip trembling and her eyes twitching, just knowing she was awake and resigned herself to take this, Stiles let loose a yell of rage and started struggling anew, this time slamming his head back in a desperate attempt to come into any sort of contact with his captor.

The man whispered a swear word and adjusted his grip on Stiles. His hand came up more near Stiles’ shoulder, and he was close enough that Stiles craned his head and let his temple brush against the tips of the man’s bare fingers.

For a full two seconds, Stiles was filled with the paralyzing fear that when he needed his curse, it wasn’t there anymore, but the arms around him loosened and started spasming.

“What-” the man choked. He crumpled, body seizing, but Stiles wasn’t paying him any attention anymore. He was charging the ringleader of their gang of three, who had managed to get Lydia’s underwear down. Stiles ripped off his gloves.

The man looked over his shoulder for a second and glanced over to where one of his henchmen had been. That’s all he had time for before Stiles was turning him around and punching him across the face as hard as he could.

It hurt like a bitch and Stiles couldn’t catch Lydia before she collapsed onto the pavement, but it was beyond satisfying to watch the rapist on the ground, blood dripping from his ears.

Stiles stood shocked as the adrenaline wore off and he started to realize what exactly he had done. His legs gave out from beneath him and he collapsed on the pavement like he was made of paper. He glanced between the two bodies now laying still on the ground and numbly watched the third man look at him with wide, scared eyes before starting to stumble back and into the car.

Stiles didn’t make any move to get up from his place on the pavement, but Lydia pushed her upper body up with her hands. Her hair hung in her face in a knotted mess and stuck to the blood on her cheek.

“You can’t let him get away,” she rasped. “He’s a witness.” When he still didn’t move, she growled his name and tried to get up, but she stumbled and fell onto her hands and knees.

He didn’t move.

“Stiles,” she hissed. “Get up. Fuck, you need to get up. You can’t do this,” she growled. “I’m sorry that you’re having a rough time here but you need to do this. Get. Up. Now.”

Stiles turned his head to stare at her. There was a voice in his head that was very aware of every single moment that ticked by, but his body couldn’t catch up. It was like he was swimming in molasses, a mosquito caught in liquid amber.

He realized belatedly that Lydia was right and rose on shaky legs.

The man was trying to get the car to start but the engine kept stalling and his shaking hands weren’t helping matters much. He stared with wide eyes as Stiles stumbled over to him.

He’d never seen such fear in a grown man before.

Stiles braced a hand on the roof of the car and reached in. He struggled with the man for a moment, getting several handfuls of fabric, before finally dragging his fingers across the man’s neck. Stiles gripped him through the seizure.

The man finally stopped moving and Stiles let him go, slumping down outside the car. He knew he should probably get up, but he couldn’t bring himself to, instead pulling his knees to his chest. He didn’t even know he’d been crying until he felt a tear splatter on the back of his hand.

Stiles wasn’t sure how long he sat there, but long enough for Lydia to collect herself. She shuffled up beside him.

“Stiles, get up,” He didn’t move. “Stiles, we have to go. We need to get out of here.”

He pretended he couldn’t hear her. Might as well not have been able. He could hear the words, and had a vague idea what they meant, but putting them into action? That seemed unfathomable.

She let out a frustrated breath. “I can’t make you get up. If you want to stay here and get caught and plastered across the news as poison fingers-” Stiles flinched. “-Go ahead. But I know you don’t, so can you please do this for me?” she finished in a much softer voice.

Stiles finally blinked up at her, his brain coming back online. He stood unsteadily, bracing himself against the ground with his hands for several seconds, before rising. He took a shaky step and took the gloves Lydia had retrieved, grateful that he didn’t have to stumble around to find them. His hands once again felt like weapons. Lydia took his arm and started to pull him down the road as fast as she dared with Stiles looking like he was about to keel over.

Stiles refused to look back at the scene. He knew there was a sloppily parked car with a body hanging out the driver’s side and two more collapsed in the middle of the street, their heads surrounded by small pools of blood.

When Stiles crawled into the scratchy motel sheets, he stopped holding back, and let out a shuddering breath that turned into a sob. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he heard Lydia crying too. She was a lot stronger than he’d realized.

 

__________________

 

They were only there for another day. Stiles spent most of it sleeping. Lydia was somehow better functioning and tried to get him to eat at various times. She mostly watched the news, where they played the announcement of the murders of three men on highway 69.

“They know where we are now,” Lydia said in her monotone voice.

“Yeah.”

“Do you want to keep moving?”

Stiles didn’t answer. More time crept by in silence.

“I’m sorry I called you poison fingers,” Lydia said. She was sitting on the opposite side of the bed, but it was certainly closer than the other side of the room. “I was just trying to snap you out of it.” Stiles nodded.

 

__________________

 

He woke up to the sound of a car door slamming shut. Lydia was sitting beside him, hair brushed out and chewing on a pop tart, staring at the motel window. She sighed. “That wasn’t a very long escape attempt.”

Stiles sat up groggily and scratched at his head. It was one o’clock in the afternoon. “They sure work fast,” he rasped.

Lydia had already packed up their stuff, which was sitting on the adjacent bed. Two loud voices argued outside for a brief moment before someone started pounding on the door.

Lydia made to stand up but Stiles wanted to face Talia or Laura or Peter and just get this over with. He stomped over to the door and yanked it open.

Peter was waiting by the car with a bitchy expression on his face, but it was Derek at the door. Stiles stared.

“Well,” Stiles finally croaked. He probably looked like a hot mess with rumpled clothes and red rimmed eyes. “Fancy seeing you h-”

Derek cut him off with a glare and settled a heavy hand on Stiles’ shoulder. He nodded at Lydia, who slid off the bed and grabbed their backpack and shuffled out the door beside him.

He steered Stiles to the car with a tight grip, but it didn’t feel oppressing or scary. It felt comforting, especially when Derek squeezed, just a little, in reassurance.

Chapter Text

Even though it was only nine o’clock at night when they got back to the house, no one was downstairs and everything was quiet. Peter’s boots made obnoxious clicking sounds on the floor as he flounced ahead of them and up the stairs.

“Does Talia want to…?” Stiles asked. His throat was scratchy. He’d mostly slept on the ride to California and definitely hadn’t talked.

“Just go to bed,” Derek commanded. He scrubbed a hand through his hair. “Talia will talk to you in the morning. You too, Lydia.”

Lydia nodded. She looked like a hot mess. Without makeup, you couldn’t see her eyelashes and she had a surprising number of freckles. Under her eyes were smudged with purple.

Stiles trudged towards the rooms with Lydia beside him. He could hear Derek moving around in the kitchen. “So I guess your vision came true.”

“No.” She brushed a piece of hair off her face. “Not quite. I didn’t see those… men.”

“Then what did you see?”

“Something different. I don’t know if you could call it worse.” She shrugged.

“Lydia,” Derek barked up the stairs. “Go to bed.” She huffed but complied, padding down the hallway and shooting Stiles a smile over her shoulder before she turned a corner. “Stiles,” Derek warned.

He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah.” Stiles slunk into his room.

It was just the same as he had left it. They’d only been gone for five days but it felt like a lifetime. A lifetime in which fluffy beds had become too much of a luxury. He crawled into bed regardless.

 

__________________

 

In the morning, Stiles woke up to a rapping on his door. Laura stuck her head in. “Stiles?”

He sighed and folded the pillow over his head. “What?”

“Talia wants to see you now.” That’s all she said before she left.

Stiles huffed and pushed down the sick feeling in his stomach. He rolled out of bed and changed out of the clothes he’d fallen asleep in and rubbed at his eyes. He could really use a good shower.

The house was quiet. It was to be expected though. The rest of the kids wouldn’t be home at ten a.m. on a Thursday.

In Talia’s office, Lydia was already sitting in one of the chairs, looking much more put together than Stiles. She’d changed into a pair of her own clothes and looked like he’d showered and washed the dust out of her hair.

Talia was, as always, sitting at her desk, with her husband sitting on an extra chair beside the bookshelves. Laura, Peter, and Derek were standing, either on the walls or by the door.

They were all staring at him. He swallowed nervously and shuffled inside, cautiously taking his place in the chair beside Lydia.

Talia rubbed at her temples. “Stiles, do you have any idea what you’ve done.”

For once, he had nothing to say.

“Now,” she snapped, “I have the Argents breathing down my neck, three dead men, and no idea what to do with you. I should probably put you in Eichen.”

Stiles’ heart seized.

“No!” Lydia exclaimed. “He was just protecting me, it really wasn’t his fault-”

“Miss Martin,” Talia cut Lydia off. “Regardless of whose fault this was, this is exactly what we  feared was going to happen.”

“They were going to rape her.” Stiles’ voice was scratchy and faint.

Talia was silent. The whole room seemed to hold its breath. She sighed. “Noted. But you’ve killed three people.”

Stiles’ chest spasmed. “I know,” he gasped. Tears started to prick at his eyes. “I know, I didn’t mean to, I didn’t want to, there was just no way out of-” he was starting to hyperventilate.

A hand settled on his shoulder. “Breathe, Stiles,” Laura commanded. “You’re okay.” He managed to suck some air into his lungs.

The room was silent, but it was broken by Peter. “So what are we going to do with him? Throw him in Eichen? Because that was my suggestion all along.”

“No,” Frederick spoke up. “I don’t think that would be best.”

Peter sputtered. “He’s a murderer.”

“Those people were trying to rape Lydia,” Derek argued.

“Supposedly. What proof do we have, besides a teenager’s word.”

“Peter,” Talia scolded, “enough.” She grabbed a pen from the cup on her desk and a pad of paper and started writing in neat cursive. “We’ll have to negotiate a fair outcome with the Argents, but our goal is to keep Stiles in the house. Stiles, you’ll be on house arrest until we come to a decision. And I’ll make a call to Deaton.”

“Deaton?” Laura asked. “Why?”

“The boy’s obviously been through some trauma.” She ripped the piece of paper off. “And he can’t go to a therapist. The next best is Deaton.”

“Morrell is the one trained in psychology though.”

“Yes, but Deaton and I have been discussing things. He wants to meet Stiles anyway and he minored in psychology in college. It’ll be fine.” Talia smoothed down her hair. “Lydia, you go back to school tomorrow, but for now you will both stay in your rooms. I have calls to make. We will be watching.” Lydia and Stiles nodded.

Laura held the door open for them and Stiles slunk past her. He could feel their eyes on his back. Lydia squeezed his gloved hand when they had to part ways.

 

__________________

 

House arrest, as it turned out, meant room arrest. Any time he tried to leave, Derek, who was stationed outside his door, would bark at him to go back in. Stiles mostly laid on his bed and scribbled. His phone had mysteriously disappeared from his room.

When time dragged on into the afternoon, he could hear shouting from downstairs. He glanced at the clock. It was only one p.m., so the others couldn’t be home from school yet.

Stiles stuck his head out the door. “Uh, Derek?”

Derek didn’t look up from his computer. “Go back into your room Stiles.”

“I just wanted to ask,” he continued, as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “What the hell is going on down there?”

Derek glanced at the staircase. “They’re in negotiation with the Argents. Their talks always sound like this,” he tacked on when he saw Stiles’ worried face.

Stiles bobbed his head. “Right.”

There was a tense moment of silence. Derek wouldn’t be his first choice of company, but he was craving some kind of human interaction. He wasn’t going to get much though. Derek told him sternly to go back inside. Stiles grumbled but complied.

He waited another hour and a half and jumped up when his door creaked open. It was Laura. “We’ve been talking with the Argents,” she started.

Stiles nodded. “I heard.”

“We haven’t come to a conclusion yet, but we’ll be reconvening on Sunday. Until then, you’ll be spending a lot of time in this room.” She shrugged at his crestfallen expression. “Sorry. Come get a shower before the others get out of school.”

Stiles took a quick shower and sighed at the glorious water pressure. He thought about beating off, but he really didn’t have it in him, and he didn’t want to still be in the shower when everyone got home.

Later that night, Derek popped in to bring Stiles a tray of food and handed him his phone. “You might want to call your dad. He’s been really worried.”

Stiles prioritized that phone call over eating, even though he hadn’t had anything all day. He paused while scrolling through his contacts. Right under Dad, it said Derek. There was a number attached to it. He went through the rest of his contacts to see if he had Laura’s or Talia’s number, but it was only Derek’s.

He ignored it for now and called his dad.

He answered on the first ring. “Stiles?”

Stiles didn’t mean to start crying, but suddenly his throat closed up and he sniffled. “Dad?”

The sheriff sighed. “Stiles, I was so worried about you. Just give me a second.” There was the sound of ruffling clothes and then a door shutting. “What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking I can’t live here,” Stiles hissed. “It’s suffocating, everything I do is under scrutiny, like, all the time.”

“Son, that might be the best place for you.” Stiles actually dropped the phone.

He stared at it. It had landed on his bed, thank God, but he was sure he must’ve been hallucinating. His dad couldn’t have just said that. He finally picked it back up. “I’m sorry,” he said, “what?”

“Stiles, you know I love you, but you might be better there. There are less chances of accidents, and you’re socializing-”

“So me living with a bunch of people is preventing accidents how?”

“They know your,” the sheriff stumbled over his words for a second, “secret. They know not to touch you, and you’re still getting social interaction. Back in Arizona, you just kept to yourself.”

“I had you,” Stiles protested.

“Yes, but you need friends your own age. There must’ve been something you liked about the Hale House that made you come back.”

Ice ran through Stiles’ veins. “Come back?”

“Yeah, Talia said you came back on your own.” The sheriff hesitated. “You did, right?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles sputtered. “Of course. Really it was the food. I’m not cut out for living on my own.” He chuckled nervously.

“Good.” Stiles could hear his dad’s smile through the phone. “It’s a shame you missed the move.”

“The move?” Stiles said stupidly. It took a minute for what he was talking about to sink in. “Oh, I totally forgot.”

“Yeah, I figured. But we can still watch The Avengers this weekend.”

“I actually don’t think I’ll be able to.” Stiles picked nervously at his lip. “Talia wants me in the house this weekend. I’m grounded.”

“Oh.” The sheriff definitely sounded disappointed. Stiles decided he was an awful human being. “Well, maybe you can come by after school on Monday?”

Stiles hesitated. “I’ll ask.”

They didn’t talk much longer than that. There was an emergency at the station and his dad had to go, but by the time they hung up, Stiles’ food was cold nonetheless.

 

__________________

 

Stiles was still bored after a good night’s rest. He’d played on his phone as much as anyone could and didn’t really have any friends to text. He’d debated texting Derek’s number, but decided against it. If he wanted to talk to him, he was right outside Stiles’ door. Again.

Around noon, there was a knock on the door, and Derek stuck his head in immediately after.

“Hey,” Stiles barked, pointing a finger. “I didn’t say you could come in.”

Derek didn’t even bother to roll his eyes, which was just rude. “Come downstairs, Deaton’s here to see you for a few minutes.”

Stiles hopped out of bed. “Deaton the therapist?”

Derek hesitated. “He’s actually a vet.”

“A vet.” Stiles raised an eyebrow. “You want me to talk about my feelings to a veterinarian.”

Derek led him down the staircase. “He’s kind of like our doctor as well. Him and his sister are empaths.”

“Gnarly.”

Deaton was standing in the living room talking to Laura. He had a shiny bald head and a neat goatee and was still wearing his lab coat. In his hand, he clutched a briefcase. He looked up when Stiles tripped over his feet coming down the stairs.

“Um,” Stiles hedged. “Hi.”

Deaton smiled, but it was one of those smiles that didn’t really move his face at all and just made him look creepy. “Hello, Stiles. Why don’t you sit?” He gestured to the couch.

Stiles sat down and Deaton propped his briefcase against the wall before sitting opposite, perched on the edge of the coffee table. Laura and Derek cleared out of the room. “Wait, I’m supposed to talk to this guy alone?” he called after them, but they were already gone. Stiles rubbed at the back of his neck and avoided Deaton’s eyes.

“So I hear you’ve gotten yourself into a bit of trouble. Would you like to tell me about that?” Deaton leaned forward with his elbows on his knees, fingers folded together. “Or would you rather talk about something else?”

Stiles gulped. “Something else, please.”

Deaton bobbed his head. “Okay, what about your father. How is he doing? I heard he’s the sheriff of the PD now.”

“Yeah, he moved while I was…gone.”

“I bet you wished you could’ve been there with him.”

Stiles nodded vigorously. “Yeah, we could’ve had a movie night and everything.”

“Oh.” Deaton raised an eyebrow. “What were you going to watch?”

The Avengers .”

“I loved The Avengers when I was a kid.”

“You mean you haven’t always been a lab coat-sporting adult with a strangely soothing voice? Also, what’s with the past tense? The Avengers have always been, and will always be, totally awesome.”

Deaton chuckled. “I read the comic books when I was a kid. My sister used to always tease me about it. Called me a nerd.”

Stiles nodded sagely. “I can see your nerdiness. It’s probably hiding behind the lab coat. You should just let your freak flag fly.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. The lab coat can fool many people. Like your gloves, I assume.”

Stiles shifted and started fiddling with them. They were a soft cotton pair and he picked at a loose string dangling from his wrist. “Um, maybe. I don’t know, I kind of have to keep all of me covered at all times and you can take the lab coat off whenever.”

“True.” Deaton, in fact, slipped his coat off his shoulders. “And many other people can strip off their layers whenever they get hot or uncomfortable. I imagine it must feel suffocating not to be able to do the same.”

“Yeah,” Stiles nodded. “It especially sucks in the middle of summer. I stay inside a lot, right next to the air conditioning.”

“Do you ever get to take the layers off?”

Stiles hummed an affirmative. “In my room, especially when I’m sleeping.”

“So the problem seems to be,” Deaton said, shifting forward and closer to Stiles. “That you can’t trust anyone not to touch you.”

“Well, accidents happen. Just one fist bump and they’re toast. Especially in crowded places like school.”

“Of course you have to wear your gloves to school, but what about here? There’s no one in this room but you and me, and I know not to touch you. So why don’t you take your gloves off?”

Stiles blinked, hard, and questioned this man’s sanity. “You want me to take my gloves off?”

“All the other kids are at school, Derek and Laura know not to touch you, I certainly know not to touch you. What’s the problem?” Deaton shrugged.

“I just, um,” he stumbled over his words. “Don’t feel comfortable with that.”

“It’s just an experiment Stiles. Everything will be okay.”

Stiles considered telling Deaton to fuck off and going back to his room, but he didn’t want to piss off Talia. He hesitantly tugged off one glove, and then the other when Deaton just kept looking at him with an expectant face. Stiles carefully set his gloves on the couch cushion beside him. He didn’t know what to do with his hands.

“Look at that.” Deaton was staring at his hands with a strange intensity. “You have your gloves off and nothing bad has happened.”

“Yet.”

Deaton reached into the pocket of his lab coat and pulled out a pair of latex gloves. When he snapped the latex against his wrist Stiles jumped. “Do you mind if I touch your hands? With my own gloves on, obviously.”

“Uh,” Stiles pulled his hands closer to his chest. “Are you sure that’s a good idea, Doc?”

“I just want to examine them. I also work as a physician to the gifted.”

“You’re just a jack of all trades, aren’t you?”

Deaton didn’t answer, but took Stiles’ hands and started poking at the pale skin there. He moved his fingers back and forth, watching the skin stretch and relax. “Interesting.”

“Oh?”

“I can get a better read on your aura from closer contact. Seeing your skin is much more insightful. But other than that, they’re just,” Deaton shrugged, “ordinary hands.”

Stiles scoffed. “Ordinary hands. Of course.”

Something beeped inside Deaton’s jacket and he reached in to grab it without taking his eyes off Stiles. “Yes, well, you’re just an ordinary teenager until you touch someone.” He finally looked down at his phone and stood. He snapped off his gloves, then retrieved his briefcase. “I’m afraid I have to go now, I have an appointment in fifteen minutes.”

“My hands are weapons,” Stiles stressed.

Deaton raised his eyebrows. “Your hands are hands, Stiles. I’m sorry we only got to talk briefly, I’m very busy this week, but I’ll see about setting up a proper session later.”

“Okay,” he said dumbly, watching Deaton stride to the front door with the manner of a man on a mission. 

“Oh, and tell Talia,” he said, paused in place with his hand on the doorknob. “Tell her I need to speak with her about something we discussed earlier.”

Stiles nodded and then he disappeared out of the door.

As soon as the front door clicked closed, Laura was making her way into the living room. Stiles stood to meet her. “How did that go?” she asked, arching a brow.

“Fine. He said for me to tell Talia that he needs to talk to her about something they’d discussed earlier.”

“I’ll tell her for you.” She looked down and jumped back. “Where are your gloves?” There was just barely a hint of panic in her voice.

“Oh, Deaton asked me to...” Stiles trailed off as he twisted around and didn’t spot his gloves sitting on the cushion where he’d left them. “Son of a bitch,”  Laura was still looking at him reproachfully. “He asked me to take them off,” Stiles tried to explain. “He must’ve taken them when I wasn’t looking.”

“Just go to your room Stiles.” She sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose.  He wanted to protest that she had no right to look that stressed with him, but he was walking on thin ice as it was. He skulked back to his room.

Derek was sitting outside his room again, this time in a chair with his computer on his lap, typing at lightning speed. He looked up at Stiles’ approach.

“You okay?” He grunted.

“What do you care?” Stiles snapped back, suddenly feeling too tired to try and be witty.

Derek scowled and went back to whatever he was doing. Stiles slunk into his room and face planted on his unmade bed, reaching for the covers to pull over his head. He was going to be stuck in this room until Sunday and he already felt bored to tears.

Chapter Text

Sunday couldn’t come fast enough.

Stiles spent a portion of the time on the phone with his dad, but his dad did have a job to attend to. The sheriff was a very busy man. Apparently, there had been a murder. His dad wasn’t used to big cases where Stiles wasn’t the culprit, so it was a learning experience.

Deaton came by a few more times. Stiles tried to chew him out for taking his gloves, but his soothing nature made it hard to stay angry. They talked through his problems an hour at a time and it basically came down to the same stuff: give everyone time to adjust to him, be the bigger person, follow Talia’s rules. He felt like a sheep being herded, but it was good advice nonetheless.

Stiles was brought his meals and spent most of his time in his room, but it wasn’t solitary confinement. Well, not really. If he needed to talk to someone when his dad was busy or Deaton hadn’t scheduled an appointment, he could just open his door, sit down on the threshold, and talk to Derek.

He had stopped ordering Stiles to go back in every time he needed to share a fun fact or ask a question. He gleaned a lot of information from Derek.

Derek was the one constantly watching him because he was the only one without a job. He’d taken a gap year from college. Frederick was also a lawyer, like his daughter, and Mark was a pediatrician. Talia was as intimidating in business professions as she was in real life, working as the head of a local chain of banks that kept her rolling in dough. Peter, hilariously, worked at a plant nursery.

When school ended or Saturday came and the rest of the teenagers were home, Stiles didn’t venture out of his room. Lydia came to visit him for an hour at a time, sometimes talking and sometimes doing homework in silence. Which Stiles unfortunately had plenty of time to do.

Sunday came slowly, and when it finally arrived, it went out with a bang.

Everyone who wasn’t an adult was ordered to stay in their rooms for the morning, while Talia met with the Argents downstairs. Not soon after they arrived, the yelling started. It lasted about forty-five minutes while Stiles tried to focus on geometry. Eventually, there was a knock on his door.

Derek and Lydia were standing on the other side. Lydia looked only a little anxious, and Derek was a rock.

“Um?”

“You’re going to testify. They want to see you.”

“What joy,” Stiles grumbled, but followed Derek when he started down the stairs. Lydia walked beside him, a small gesture of solidarity.

The two families were set up at opposite ends of the dining room table, just like on the night when Stiles and Lydia had ran away. Peter was scowling and Frederick looked exasperated. Allison Argent was sitting with a ramrod straight back in one of the chairs, looking disgusted to be in their mere presence. It made anger burn hot through Stiles for just a moment.

Victoria looked menacing. Her sharp eyes darted to them when they walked in the door and her upper lip curled. Chris, however, seemed to be staring down Talia, as if he expected her to fold. If he did, he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box.

“Stiles,” Talia said, without breaking eye contact, “come sit.” The chair to her right had been vacated. He obediently went and plopped down beside her. “Lydia, why don’t you sit next to him.” She shuffled to the chair beside Stiles silently and sat down with her eyes trained on the smooth, shiny wood of the table.

“Good,” Talia mused. She sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. “Chris, you may ask your questions now.”

Chris ground his teeth before breaking eye contact and scanning Stiles and Lydia. They sat small and hunched. Stiles hoped it would help him look a little more remorseful. He didn’t bother hoping to come across as harmless.

He considered them for a moment. “Where were you heading? After Texas, of course,” he asked at last.

Stiles shrugged. “We didn’t really have a destination in mind,” he confessed. “We were just… trying to get away.”

Chris nodded and smiled a patronizing grin. “Of course. And you, Lydia.” Lydia’s eyes darted up and trained on Chris’ face. “What were you doing?”

She said nothing.

“Because you’ve never expressed the desire to run away before. You’ve always been content with your life here, if anything Talia has told me is true. Five years here and you never tried to run to your parents.” Chris tapped his nails on the table and raised his eyebrows. “Why now?”

Again, Lydia didn’t speak. It was starting to make Stiles nervous.

“Did he force you?” Chris asked, his face creasing into false concern.

“No,” Lydia said.

“Are you sure sweetie?” Victoria chimed in. She seemed to be having a hard time controlling herself from the sidelines.

“I’m not your sweetie,” Lydia said in a low tone. It sounded threatening, and despite its volume, echoed through the room.

Victoria curled her upper lip but sat back in her chair.

“There must be something though,” Chris insisted. “You’ve always liked being here. And according to Allison, you’ve never had troubles at school. Everyone loves you.”

She shrugged, looking uncomfortable. “Being loved and being feared are two different things.”

Chris switched the interrogation back to Stiles. “Stiles,” he said, “I just want to know something.”

Stiles blinked. “Okay?”

“Imagine you’re in my position. You’re supposed to be protecting a town, but a murderer has just moved into your backyard. How are you supposed to sleep at night, knowing he’s there?”

“Well, I imagine you could just take a melatonin.”

He was trying to put on a brave face, but Chris’ words shook him. Murderer. Stiles was a murderer. Not just a killer, no, killing can be done with no ill will, like a car wreck, but a murderer. That was different. He hurt people on purpose.

He didn’t try to correct Chris’ assessment of him, because he thought he might be right.

Chris grit his teeth and narrowed his eyes. “If you can’t take this seriously-”

“I am.”

“Talia, do you see how he’s acting?” Chris spat, looking back to the matriarch at the head of the table. “He’s acting like a child. An immature brat who has the power to take the life of someone with one touch. He doesn’t have the maturity to handle a curse like this. He’ll hurt someone, and we’ll both be responsible.” He narrowed his eyes. “Do you want more death on your hands? On our hands?”

Talia sat forward, eyes blazing. “Of course not.”

“Then he needs to be in Eichen,” Chris stated firmly.

Talia was silent for a moment, watching the Argents. Her eyes darted between the three of them, burning with controlled anger, before finally settling back on him. “No.”

Allison slammed her hand down on the table. “No,” she cried, “he can’t be free. He goes to school and he’s around Scott and everyone else and he can’t be trusted to control himself-”

“Allison, be quiet,” Victoria barked. “Calm yourself.”

She had teared up in the middle of her speech and seemed to struggle to get ahold of herself, for just a second, before rubbing at her eyes and pushing a piece of hair behind her ear. Then she looked as composed as ever.

“My daughter is right,” Chris said. “The boy is too dangerous to be around the other children at school.”

“Then we’ll change his classes, have his schedule matched to Allison’s. She can keep an eye on him.”

“And outside of school? We can’t watch him 24/7.”

There was a moment of silence. Stiles thought this was it. Allison could keep an eye on him at school, and that would be enough for Chris. But outside of school? He couldn’t think of one person that would volunteer to watch him. But then-

“I’ll watch him.”

Every head in the room swiveled to Derek, who was standing in the corner with his arms crossed.

“You will?” Laura asked, her voice laced with surprise.

Derek shrugged. “I’m not working. I can drive him to and from school. He doesn’t go anywhere without me.”

“And you’re not worried he might hurt you?” Victoria pressed.

Derek glanced at him. “Stiles is harmless, at least with me.”

“But that’s only a theory, Derek,” Frederick said, “and we can’t test it out.”

Stiles looked back and forth between them. “What theory?”

“So you’ll take full responsibility for the boy?” Chris asked, leaning forward and ignoring Frederick and Stiles in favor of Derek. “If we see him outside of this house without you chaperoning him, we will detain him.”

A shiver of fear ran down Stiles’ spine. There was something about Chris’ expression that was chilling. Sometimes, he seemed like a man just trying to run his business, keeping people safe. Other times, he looked how Stiles imagined he looked to Chris. Like a cold blooded snake, ready to strike.

 

__________________

 

The others in the house didn’t seem nearly as thrilled about him being cleared. They didn’t do anything overtly aggressive, but Stiles overheard Erica ranting about how he was getting away with murder while Cora nodded along and Boyd sat stoically.

Ever since his and Lydia’s return from their great escape, Boyd and Isaac, who were the first ones to accept him, had been distant. It didn’t seem to help that Isaac could feel his emotions. All he could feel, Stiles imagined, was a whirl of guilt and defeat spiraling through his body.

He didn’t regret running. No, he would’ve gladly kept going if not for the incident. Another day and his brain would’ve come back online, telling him in big flashing letters to run and get much, much farther from the Hales.

What he did regret though, was what had happened. Lydia’s soft cries and the way she picked herself back up after, how she had to coax him back. How he had three more kills added to his list.

Stiles wanted to take his meal in his room Sunday, to avoid the awkward silence and hostile looks in the dining room, but Talia was firm that now that he was cleared for social interaction he get some.

One thing was looking sunny though. Stiles was going to see his dad.

 

__________________

 

Monday morning, Stiles dressed in his usual layers and slid into the front seat of Derek’s camaro while everyone else got into the minivan. It wasn’t that awkward, all things considered. Derek had volunteered to be his guardian, after all.

He also went in with Stiles to get his schedule changed, even though Stiles insisted it wasn’t necessary. Derek intimidated the poor lady behind the desk.   

When his schedule perfectly matched Allison Argent’s, Derek patted him on the shoulder and sent him on his way.

“Hey,” Scott said enthusiastically when Stiles appeared in homeroom. “Dude, where were you last week?”

Stiles smiled at him. It was genuine. Lydia was a great friend, but she often drifted off into space, lost in her own head, and it was hard to get her enthusiastic about anything. Scott, on the other hand, seemed to be enthusiastic about everything.

“Family stuff to attend to,” Stiles lied smoothly, taking the chair beside Scott. Allison was on his other side, watching Stiles with hatred and distrust, but he had made a genuine friend and Stiles wasn’t going to relinquish him that easy.

Lydia and her followers, including her douchebag of a boyfriend, came to flock beside Stiles. Not around Stiles, but beside him. Lydia perched in her seat right next to him with her phony, saccharine smile. Jackson and company orbited her. It was such a stark contrast to the real Lydia that it still shocked him.

“Oh, that sucks.” Scott looked genuinely sorry for him. “You must have a lot of makeup work.”

“Nah, Lydia brought it for me everyday,” he said, jerking his head in her direction.

Scott blinked at him. “So you two are like,” he paused, seeming to search for the right words. “Actually friends?”

“Um, I assume.” Stiles turned to Lydia, who was sketching a tree in her notebook with a dainty hand. “Lydia, we’re friends right?”

She smiled at him. Her eyes were too bright and her cheeks too flushed. “Of course, Stiles.” Jackson watched this interaction with a nasty look on his face.

Lydia, despite her phony personality and crowds of admirers, stuck with Stiles in every class they had together, and at lunch too, gracing a silent, pissed Allison and an awestruck Scott with her presence. The other gifted sat together, watching them with an evil eye.

Since Stiles had all his classes with Allison, and Allison and Scott had grown closer because of how much time of the day they spent together, he also had almost every class with Scott. There was only one that didn’t include him, but that one had Lydia.

It was a good first day back. But he was itching for it to be over with.

Stiles raced out the doors of the school when the last bell of the day rung before anyone else. He threw himself into the passenger side of the camero.

Derek glared at him. “Would you be careful.”

He somehow had the power to make his questions sound like statements.

“Dude, come on, let’s go.” Stiles couldn’t sit still. He’d already spent too much time in a desk.

Derek huffed a “Fine,” and shifted gears, rolling away from the front of the school.

“We’re only going to be here for two hours.”

Stiles gaped. “Dude, come on, The Avengers is like two and a half hours. I haven’t seen my dad in like two weeks and I want to have dinner with him.”

“Well, what am I supposed to do?”

“You could always just go see a movie yourself. Get dinner.”

Derek took his eyes off the road, mainly to roll them. “And leave you alone?”

“It’s not like I’m an invalid.”

“No, but you’re a flight risk. And my mom would kill me if she knew I left you alone for even ten minutes.”

“Derek,” Stiles pleaded.

“I said no, Stiles.” His tone would’ve made anyone else cower back, because it rung with power, but Stiles wasn’t one to be pushed around.

He tried to act cool about the whole thing.

It hadn’t really sunk in until after the Argents were gone and the deal was made, but now Stiles had a permanent babysitter. A permanent babysitter with a bad attitude and more sex appeal than Robert Downey Jr.

He wanted the time he had with his dad to be private.

Stiles huffed and crossed his arms. It was a childish move and only made him seem more immature, but he felt like acting like a kid every once in awhile.

“You’re acting like I want to watch your every move. I don’t,” Derek growled.

“Oh yeah?” Stiles scoffed. “Then why’d you volunteer to babysit me.”

Derek gripped the steering wheel so tight his knuckles went white. Stiles felt no fear. He couldn’t touch him, literally. “No one else was going to take you, whether because they couldn’t or they just didn’t want to. You would’ve gone to Eichen. Can’t you just be grateful that I’ve now devoted a good chunk of my life to watching you, even though you act like a spoiled brat most of the time?”

“Sourwolf,” Stiles muttered under his breath, but was silent for the rest of the ride.

__________________

  

“Dad!”  The sheriff was already waiting for him on the porch. Stiles bounded out of the car and up the steps, grateful to see his dad and be out of the car that was stuffy with tension. He had been able to feel Derek’s frustration coming off him in waves.

“Stiles.” His dad grinned. He went in for the side hug they’d become accustomed to, keeping their heads far apart from one another. “I missed you, son.”

Stiles beamed. It was the first time he’d felt truly happy in a long time. “Yeah, me too. I’m sorry I missed your move.”

“I would give you a lecture, but I’m sure Talia already gave you one.” He looked over Stiles’ shoulder. “Who’s your friend?”

Stiles turned. Derek had gotten out of the car and was standing awkwardly by it. It was a strange demeanor to mix with his leather jacket, black hair, and muscle car.

He turned back to his dad. “Derek. Apparently I’m a flight risk and need to be kept under surveillance.”

The sheriff frowned. “That seems a little extreme. You came back, didn’t you?”

Stiles rubbed at the back of his neck. “Yeah, but I guess precaution.” He rolled his eyes.

His dad gave him a wry smile and lead him inside. Stiles could see Derek awkwardly following behind them by a good ten feet. When they were in the door and Derek hadn’t even reached the porch, Stiles considered slamming it in his face and turning the lock, but his dad pushed him aside and waited for Derek. He gave him a warm smile that Stiles recognized as his sheriff mode.

“Son, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Stiles’ dad, Sheriff Stilinski.” He stuck his hand out.

Derek took it. “Derek Hale. Talia’s son.” He introduced himself stiffly.

“Yes, I’ve heard a lot about you.” Stiles could feel his entire face turn red. His dad was referring to the time when he had told him over the phone that Derek was the hottest person he’d ever seen.

Derek raised an impressive eyebrow. “You have?”

“Okay, now that we’re all introduced, why don’t we get down to business,” Stiles interrupted in only a slightly panicked voice. “Dad, we’ll cook, and Derek can go sit in the guest bedroom for the next few hours.”

The sheriff snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous Stiles. Derek can join us for dinner and a movie. It’ll be fine.”

Stiles made a noise of protest. “But this is our time.”

He clapped him on the shoulder. “I know, son, but sometimes you’ve got to compromise.” His dad walked past him and into the kitchen, leaving Stiles and Derek momentarily alone. Stiles glowered before turning on his heel and following his dad.

"So, what’s for dinner?” He asked, rubbing his hands together.

“Well, I was thinking steak-”

“No,” Stiles interrupted. “You’re not getting salty, buttery popcorn and a steak. You can have one or the other, and I want to eat good popcorn instead of that flavorless Skinny Pop, so no steak. Do you have any veggie burgers?”

The sheriff glanced around guiltily. “Well…”

Stiles threw his hands in the air. “I knew you’d be useless without me, I just knew it. What do you have?” Stiles carefully slid by his dad and got to the fridge, throwing it open to reveal its contents-- junk food.

“Dad.” Stiles shook his head.

The sheriff heaved a sigh. “Stiles, there is only so many veggie burgers a man can take.”

Stiles poked through the food. Behind some YooHoos he found a package of chicken that looked salvageable. “Chicken it is,” he declared, bringing the pack with him. “Now, where’s the latex?”

His dad directed him to a drawer where a pack of latex gloves lay inside. Stiles had to wear them when he cooked. His touch would rot the food.

“I’m thinking a side salad and some mac and cheese to go with it, what do you think?”

“I think that sounds good.” The sheriff smiled. His attention shifted. “Derek, why don’t you come in here and help?”

Once again, Derek was lurking, this time in the doorway, watching their interaction with curious eyes. “Well,” he hedged. “I don’t want to get in the way, sir.”

“Nonsense, we could use the help,” the sheriff insisted. “Stiles and I will do the chicken and you can wash and chop up some lettuce for the salad. Sound good?”

Derek agreed and slunk in on unnaturally quiet feet, carefully between them to grab a head of lettuce that had probably gone untouched without Stiles there to command his father to eat it.

Almost an hour passed that they cooked, most of the time filled with conversation between Stiles and his dad. Occasionally, the sheriff would ask Derek a question, which he would answer shortly.

When dinner was ready, they sat at the small kitchen table in relatively awkward silence. Now that they weren’t up moving, it somehow seemed harder to talk.

“So, Derek,” the sheriff finally said. “You’re watching after Stiles some now. Is it interfering with your work?”

Derek stabbed at his chicken. “I don’t work, actually.”

The sheriff raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“I’m taking a year off from college,” Derek explained, and then stuffed his mouth full of chicken.

The conversation was predominated by the sheriff and Stiles, with the occasional polite question for Derek. Stiles took glee in the one-worded, awkward answers, and felt downright diabolical. It almost saddened him when it came time for The Avengers.

His dad put the movie in while Stiles flitted around the kitchen, putting microwave popcorn into bowls, because they were fancy like that. Also, because without the reference, his dad would have no idea he was being cheated out of a full bag.

Derek obviously hadn’t known how to help, and had sat down on the very edge of the arm chair. Stiles thought of tasking him with pouring drinks, just to keep his hands busy and ease his tension, but he wasn’t feeling generous. Stiles did it himself and didn’t mind the two trips from the kitchen.

Stiles and the sheriff sat down on opposite sides of the couch, both still full from dinner but picking at their popcorn anyway. Derek didn’t touch his, so halfway through the movie, Stiles snagged it from where it was sitting, sad and unattended, on the coffee table.

Derek sat rigid through the entire first hour. When he started to unwind, i.e. his posture got worse, there was something… different about him.

He usually looked so guarded and angry. Maybe it was just the eyebrows, maybe it was the way his mouth was set, but he looked like he could take on anything the world threw at him.

Stiles knew, from experience, that you had to be vulnerable before you could get to that level.

When Derek started to relax, his whole face seemed to soften. It was kind of beautiful. Not hot; Derek was always hot. The way he looked when he wasn’t wearing his body like a shield was when he looked beautiful.

He had ticks, Stiles noticed. When he got tense during the battle scenes, his hands clenched on the arm rests, and Loki made him grind his jaw back and forth, possibly in frustration. That might answer Stiles’ inquiry about Derek’s sexuality, sadly. If he didn’t find Tom Hiddleston attractive, especially as a villain, then all hope was lost. Abandon ship.

Eventually, Derek looked away from the TV and met Stiles’ eyes.

It broke him out of his trance. His creepy, stalker trance. The movie had ended and the credits were rolling.

Derek stood, but Stiles flung his hand out in his direction. Stiles pointed. “Sit,” he commanded.

“The movie’s over.”

The sheriff scrubbed a hand over his face. Stiles’ guessed this got old at some point.

“I know that. But you have to wait for the after credits scene.”

Derek scowled, but sat back down. He was quiet for about ten seconds. “Can’t you just fast forward through the credits?”

“No. It’s rude.”

Really, Stiles didn’t mind fast forwarding through the credits, but it made Derek give him the angry eyebrows. Waiting all the way to the end was worth it to see the steady progression they made down his face.

“Be good, son,” the sheriff said, clapping him on the shoulder, once the TV had been turned off and the lights turned back on. “Don’t get into too much trouble.”

Stiles gasped and clutched at his heart. “Me? Trouble? Never.”

Derek snorted from where he was standing by the door.

“Nice to meet you, Derek,” the sheriff said amiably, offering his hand again.

Derek took it hesitantly. “You too, sir.”

Suddenly, the sheriff gripped Derek’s arm and yanked him closer, their noses inches away. “Now, just remember, if you hurt Stiles, I have five guns in this house and all of them are loaded.”

Derek nodded quickly.

The sheriff released him. “Well, have a safe drive home.” He smiled, told his son bye one last time, and they were out the door.

Stiles and Derek walked to the car in silence, until Derek finally broke it. “Let’s never do that again.”

Stiles finally burst out laughing. He threw his head back and cackled. “Too bad, hot stuff, we’ll be here once a week.”

Chapter Text

“Stiles,” Lydia said absently, twirling a strand of hair around her finger. They were sitting in the library for practice after school. “I know you could leave whenever you want. Why don’t you?”

Stiles scoffed. “Leave? With Peter out to psychologically scar me?”

“Talia wouldn’t let him.” She paused. “Probably.”

Lydia had gotten tired of listening to Malia and Peter fight while she learned nothing, and had eventually come over to join Stiles, who was in the corner, meditating a few feet away from Boyd. He was studiously ignoring them. Probably trying to balance his chi or whatever.

Stiles rubbed his hands on his thighs and sighed. “Well, for one, I’d probably have to kill a few people.”

“You could always intimidate people. Take off your shirt, wave your arms around.”

“Yes,” he drawled. “My scrawny chest, a true fear tactic.”

Her lips turned up at the corner. “Don’t be so modest. Who knows what you’re packing under that flannel.”

He laughed. “A six pack. No, an eight pack.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “Ten pack.”

She swatted at his arm, but her barely-there smile had turned into a grin.

“What about you? Doesn’t your family live in town?”

Her smile dropped. “Yes. But it’s not like you and your dad. My parents and I are...” she paused and looked up at the ceiling, trying to find the right word. “Estranged. They were a little weirded out when I told them that our next door neighbor was going to die next week and we had to tell them.”

Stiles blinked. Lydia was always a little stingy with her backstory, but she’d been a lot more open lately. “Well?”

She looked at him weird. “Well, what?”

“Did they die?”

“Oh. Yes. Robbery gone wrong. I was ten at the time and they figured I was just going through a weird phase, so they assumed this was part of my plea for attention or whatever my therapist told them.”

“Is that when you came here?”

“No. Talia heard about me about a year later, when I came to school crying about this girl in our class getting hit by a car. My nannie was the one home and didn’t know that she had to tell me to be quiet or I’d try to warn her. My parents were happy to get rid of me, after. So here I am.”

“Dude,” Stiles breathed, horrified. “That must-”

“I know. But this place is much more warm than my parents’ house ever was. Not all of us were brought here like you were.”

“Really?” That was more than a little hard to believe.

She tactfully changed the subject. “How’s Derek?”

Stiles groaned and flopped back against the wall. “Ugh, don’t get me started. He’s so annoying. A brick wall could socialize better than him. Do you know how hard it is to keep a conversation going?”

She gave him an amused glance. “You’re the one who keeps making him take you everywhere. Didn’t you stop to get food on the way home yesterday?”

“Yes. I’m trying to annoy him into ditching me. I never pay for my own food and he falls for me saying I will every time.”

“If he ditches you, Argent will be pissed,” she warned.

“Screw Argent. I’m tired of his ass.”

She snorted. “So, you and Derek are basically dating.”

“What?” Stiles squawked so loud that everyone turned to look at him. Even Boyd cracked an eye open. “We’re not- why would you even- what-”

“He picks you up from school, takes you to dinner, you use terms of endearment.” She ticked off on her finger.

He threw his hands in the air in exasperation. “We’re being sarcastic!” He could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks.

She raised an eyebrow. “Really? Because sometimes you look like you want to crawl into his bed and never come out.”

“Well.” Stiles’ face felt like it was on fire. “I mean, he’s hot. There’s no denying that.”

Lydia smiled. “So you like him?”

“Ugh, no. One, he’s Talia’s son. Ya know, Talia, my jail keeper. And two, it would never work. No touchy touchy.” He threw up his hands like ‘what can you do.’

“Well,” she hedged. “Maybe no touchy touchy.”

Stiles blinked. “Excuse me?”

“Do you not know what Derek’s gift is?”

“No, Laura said it was rude to ask. Or maybe tell. I don’t know, our whole car ride was a blur of emotional distress.”

“His touch heals people,” Lydia explained. “He could probably only die from like, a bullet to the head. Erica had epilepsy before she came here. He healed Isaac’s broken arm last year.”

“Do you mean-” Stiles’ head began to spin. Possibilities flashed before his eyes. “Are you telling me that we-”

“It’s just a theory,” she interrupted. “One Deaton came up with, but obviously Talia isn’t going to risk it.”

He sat in silence for several minutes, tuned out to the world and Lydia’s stare. His first thoughts about Derek came back to him. He could hit that.

But more importantly, he could have skin to skin contact for more than thirty seconds. He meant what he’d said to Boyd at their first practice. He didn’t know how he felt about skin to skin contact. On some level, it kind of freaked him out. But it was worth a shot.

“Do you know what this means?” He looked into Lydia’s eyes, which were now watching him with concern. “I might not have to die a virgin.”

Her eyebrows shot up. She obviously hadn’t been expecting that. “Stiles, you’re probably never going to be able to test that. Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

Stiles grinned like a maniac. “A guy can dream, can’t he?”

 

__________________

 

Stiles relaxed back onto his bed, homework scattered around him. He had his phone on speaker while he texted Scott.

His dad trailed off from whatever he’d been saying (truthfully, Stiles hadn’t been paying that much attention) and said, “I think I might need to cancel our Friday dinner.”

Stiles almost dropped his phone. “What?”

“I’m sorry kid, but I’m kind of swamped with work. There’s been another murder, this one a little more grisly.”

Stiles turned off the speaker and pressed his phone to his ear. He’d never be able to concentrate on the conversation while arguing with Scott about how Batman beat Superman.

“Well, I could always help you,” he said matter-of-factly.

The sheriff sighed. “You’ve been trying to pull that since you were thirteen. You can’t help on cases.”

“But Dad,” Stiles whined. “It’s so boring here. When everyone else is in the pool, I’m watching TV. They play board games and I lurk in the corner of the couch. Even Lydia participates in the group bonding exercises, and she hates people.”

“I’m sure they just need to get used to you, Stiles. You talk a lot.”

“It’s not my fault I can’t handle awkward silences,” he protested. “All I do here is homework and make Scott my bitch on Words With Friends.”

“Language,” the sheriff admonished. “You could always come over after school.”

Stiles scoffed. “What, with my shadow?” Derek had become a little more tolerable after Stiles learned he could maybe pop his cherry, but that didn’t mean he liked the guy. His eyebrows; they were so angry. He wondered who hurt them. “You’re always at work, anyway, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable walking into a room full of policemen.”

The sheriff sighed. “For the last time, Stiles, they can’t see the guilt in your eyes.”

“Can too,” he protested, “I think that Parrish guy is onto me.”

“You have nothing to feel guilty about anyway,” his dad continued.

Stiles rolled his eyes.

“Why don’t we reschedule dinner for Saturday?” the sheriff suggested. “Talia isn’t making you socialize with people then, is she?”

“The others are going to a waterpark or something. Yeah, we’ll be good. Just me, you, and Derek. What an intimate family dinner.”

The sheriff chuckled. “Kid, you’ve just got to make the best with what you’ve got. Derek isn’t that bad, either.”

“You’re not stuck with him 24/7,” Stiles protested. “It’ll probably just be me and him Saturday. If that doesn’t spell awkward, I don’t know what does.”

“Son, you know how to spell awkward. You didn’t win that fourth grade spelling bee for nothing.”

“Haha, very funny.” And people wondered where he got his snark from.

“I’ve got to go now,” the sheriff said. “I’ll call you tomorrow, alright?”

“Of course. What would you do without your daily dose of awesome?”

“You’re a real comedian.” Someone yelled the sheriff’s name in the background. “I love you. Don’t fight with the other children.”

“I love you too. And don’t you dare get take out,” he shouted into the phone before his dad could end the call.

He could hear the others downstairs, laughing, probably enjoying dessert. Unfortunately, Talia didn’t allow them to eat in their rooms, and since someone was almost always down in the kitchen when Stiles was awake, he hadn’t gotten a chance to steal food away and up into his room.

Lydia would probably stop by his room later, when she’d finished her ice cream or brownie or whatever it is Frederick had made that night, but Stiles was tired. And a little lonely, but there was no way in hell he would admit that to anyone.

Instead, he swept his homework off his bed and vowed to wake up early to put it back into a neat order in the morning. He knew he probably wouldn’t, but it made him feel less guilty.

He briefly got up to turn off the lights before crawling under the covers and dozing off into a dreamless sleep.

 

__________________



“Where do you want to eat today?” Stiles asked as he slid into the passenger seat of the Camaro. “I was thinking Red Lobster.”

“No,” Derek said.

“Okay, how about O'Charley's? We just ate there a few days ago, but I can always go for their steak again.”

Derek huffed. “I mean no, we’re not going out to eat.”

Stiles whined. “Come on, don’t be such a sourwolf.” He reached out to pinch Derek’s cheek, which was harder than you’d think it be, considering he was wearing cotton gloves.

He jerked his head away. “No, Stiles. You’re bleeding me dry and I’m having to rely on my mom for money at the moment.”

“You could always model,” Stiles suggested. “Or porn.”

He gritted his teeth. “Stiles.”

“You could do both, double income. Or if you don’t want to make that kind of commitment, you could always be a camboy,” he smiled innocently. “I’d watch.”

Derek swerved just a little and looked incredibly uncomfortable.

“Then again,” Stiles pondered aloud. “I’m the twink. Maybe you’d do the watching.”

“Shut up,” Derek growled.

“Make me.” Which he couldn’t. “Now c’mon, Red Lobster or O’Charley’s?”

They ended up at Red Lobster.

 

__________________



“So, I heard something interesting,” Stiles said as he swirled his straw around in his drink.

Derek didn’t look up from his food, probably still pissed about Stiles and the porn suggestions.

“It was about you,” he continued. Derek looked up. “Oh, now you care. What a narcissist.”

Derek stared at him with a lot, and he meant a lot, of animosity in his eyes. “Stiles,” he said in a tight tone. “Get on with it, or I’m going to rip your throat out. With my teeth.”

He actually found that a little hot, but he wasn’t going to tell him that. “So apparently, your touch heals. I don’t know why I wasn’t informed of this before, I know everyone else’s power.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “It wasn’t any of your business.”

Stiles waved away the comment. “Anyway, um, along with that I was told,” he paused. This was the part he was almost scared of bringing up. What if Derek laughed and told him that there was no way in hell he would touch someone like Stiles? A killer? “That there’s this theory that Deaton has.”

Understanding flickered across Derek’s face and he sat back in his booth. “The theory that we can touch.”

“Yeah, because like, you’re healing at the same rate that I’m killing. Like Wolverine. There’s a lot of opportunities to make more X Men jokes in my life now, which has heightened my standard of living. Although it was brought down significantly by my kidnapping, so,” he rambled.

“Stiles,” Derek said, “Shut up.”

“Right, yeah, gotcha.”

Derek fiddled with his fork. “The only way we could test the theory is if we touched. And that could be disastrous.”

“You mean you could die.”

“Well, not just me.” He went on to explain at Stiles confused look. “It could also kill you. Deaton has another theory that you heal remarkably well too, because your cells are constantly dying and reforming. A genetic mutation.”

Stiles felt a little thrill of excitement run through him, despite the seriousness of the situation. “Are you telling me I really am like Wolverine?”

“I’m telling you that since your cells are always being created new, if I touched you and prevented the old ones from dying before the new ones formed, you could,” he shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not a geneticist. But Deaton said it like it would be bad.”

“So one of us would die,” Stiles simplified it. “Or I suppose both of us could die. I feel like that evens the playing field a little bit.”

Derek glowered. “Eat your damn lobster, Stiles. If I’m paying, you’re not wasting that food.”

Stiles talked a mile a minute between bites of his food, per usual, but his mind was spinning. It seemed to do that a lot recently.

Also, he felt like the likelyhood of him getting laid had went down a little.

 

__________________

 

When they walked in the door later, Stiles carrying a to go box, much to Derek’s annoyance, everyone was lounging in the living room. Lydia looked up when they entered and jerked her head to signal for him to come over to her.

When he was standing beside the back of the couch and looking down at her, she crooked her finger. He carefully lowered the side of his head close to her face.

“Totally dating,” she whispered.

Stiles jerked back with a glare. Lydia was smiling wide, even giggled a little bit, not paying any attention to the shocked faces around the room.

“I was going to give you my leftovers,” he said haughtily, “but now, I’m not so sure.”

The smile melted off her face immediately. “I’m sorry,” she said, dead serious, and looked longingly at the box.

Stiles rolled his eyes and dropped it on her lap. “I’m going to do homework.”

“I’ll come up when I’m done eating,” she promised, moving to get up and go to the kitchen. Stiles smiled at her back and ignored the eyes of everyone on him. Probably wondering if they were in love or some shit.

Derek had already gone upstairs, which was a bummer, because Stiles had wanted to say goodnight.

Never one to be deterred, he stopped to throw his backpack in his room and turned down the hallway.

He could admit that part of Derek’s appeal now was the possibility that Stiles could touch something living. Derek was still Derek. He didn’t laugh at Stiles’ jokes and smiles had to be dragged out of him, kicking and screaming. He was bad at making conversation and looked entirely too smooth when he graciously accepted girls’ phone numbers, for a guy who couldn’t hold small talk.

There were good things about him too. He had a lot of heart behind his murderous face. He cared expidentially about Isaac and Boyd, who seemed to be his favorites. His dry humor was just sarcastic enough to make Stiles smirk and he didn’t ever poke fun of him the way the others did. He seemed to avoid the topic of Stiles’ curse altogether.

He knocked on Derek’s door.

He had to wait a beat, but it swung open. Derek had already changed into low riding sweatpants and his perfectly gelled hair was rumpled.

Stiles gawked a little. Just a little.

“Yes?” Derek said, in a very bored tone.

“I just wanted to say goodnight,” Stiles said. He hesitated. “And thank you.”

Derek blinked at him, obviously shocked. “Excuse me?”

Stiles rubbed at the back of his neck. “Thank you. I mean, not for volunteering to babysit me, because that shouldn’t be a problem in the first place.” Derek gave him an annoyed look and seemed to be about to shut the door, so Stiles blurted out, “thanks for buying me dinner.”

“Oh,” Derek said. “You’re welcome.” His less than enthusiastic voice made Stiles flush. He probably didn’t care about Stiles’ opinion, gratitude or otherwise.

There was an awkward pause. “So yeah,” Stiles finally said. “‘Night.” He turned on his heel and forced himself not to run down the hall.

Just as he was turning the corner though, Derek called out to him. “Goodnight, Stiles.” He smiled to himself as he made his way back to his room.

Chapter Text

Saturday was a disaster of a day.

Lydia woke them up at four in the morning, screaming loud wails that echoed through the house. Needless to say, the sound of Stiles’ friend in agony didn’t do much to put him to sleep on an already restless night, so he ended up watching Breaking Bad into the wee hours of the morning.

Stiles only meant to take a quick nap, sometime around eight, but instead got shook awake by a very, very irritated looking Derek.

“What are you still doing in bed?”

Stiles squinted up at him. “What?”

“Dinner. With your dad. In half an hour.”

Stiles rolled over and fumbled until he found his phone between his body and the sheets of his bed. It was 6:34 pm. Dinner was at seven.

He groaned.“Sorry.” He sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “I didn’t mean to sleep all day.”

When Stiles looked at Derek, he was standing uncomfortably, his arms crossed and his eyes darting around the room. This was the first time he’d ever been in Stiles’ room.

Stiles was suddenly very, very aware of the mess that was his bedroom. He had dirty clothes thrown on the floor, including two pairs of underwear, and gloves missing their mates scattered on just about every surface. He rubbed the back of his neck.

"So.” Derek’s eyes drifted back to him. “I’ll be ready to go in about fifteen minutes?”

Derek nodded and after a moment of silence, like he was waiting for Stiles to say more, he slipped out of the room. Stiles let out the breath he’d been holding.

 

__________________

 

The sheriff smiled at them when they hustled through the door. Derek’s presence was a regular occurrence now, and Stiles was a little less miffed by it.

“Yo, Daddy-O, what’s cooking?” Stiles grinned. Derek sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, looking very much like he couldn’t stand him. That was okay. He knew it was all an act.

His dad gave Derek a look that said ‘I agree with you’. “Not us. I was thinking we could order takeout tonight.”

Stiles frowned. “But that’s not good for your cholesterol.”

“I don’t have time, Stiles,” the sheriff sighed. “This whole murder thing… it’s turning into more of a serial killer thing. I want to spend time with you, but they’re really busting my ass down at the station, son.”

Even Derek looked a little down. “Okay, I guess,” Stiles sighed. Derek’s hand came to rest, a little hesitantly, on the small of his back. A small sign of comfort.

“Chinese?” his dad suggested.

“Fine.”

 

__________________

 

Stiles stabbed at his kung pao chicken, trying not to look too eager. His dad had been nursing a beer for over half an hour now, and his tongue tended to get a little loose the longer he relaxed. He just had to wait and see if anything was forthcoming.

John wiped at his mouth. “We’re trying to find patterns. The first three, we figured it out pretty quickly. All virgins. We don’t know about this batch.”

Stiles tried to hide his pleasure. Finally, he was getting somewhere. “Oh?”

The sheriff rolled his eyes. “Don’t look so pleased with yourself, that’s not anything too new. If you bothered to pick up a newspaper, you’d see the official press release.”

Derek snorted.

“What?” Stiles gasped. “There’s just a whole article, waiting for my examination, and you didn’t tell me?”

“With all your sleuthing abilities, I thought for sure you’d find it by yourself. Plus, it’s warning all virgins to be careful at night and who they’re alone with. Guess you could use some of that advice.” John smirked.

Oh god. His father had just made a joke. About his virginity. In front of Derek, a guy who could potentially touch him. Stiles snuck a peek at him from the corner of his eye, and he looked just as caught off guard as Stiles.

His face felt like it was on fire. All he wanted to do was melt through the floorboards and into the underworld.

Stiles cleared his throat. “Thanks, Dad.”

“Anytime,” he replied cheerfully. “There is one thing I’ll tell you though. We haven’t officially released it, but we’re pretty sure it might be time to call the FBI. Three guys were found dead in Texas, just lying in the middle of the road, all criminals. Sounds pretty similar to the other one.”

Stiles froze, a piece of chicken halfway to his mouth. “Oh yeah?”

The sheriff nodded, his mouth full of noodles.

“And how do you feel about that? Not the murders, I mean the FBI taking over?”

He shrugged. “I mean, it’ll free up some of my time, but it’s also bittersweet. It’s my first case as Sheriff of Beacon Hills. I wanted to solve it myself.”

Stiles debated on whether or not to tell him, but fear won out. Fear that his father would look at him with disgust. He was considering them murder cases. Murder cases bad enough to fit the MO of a fucking serial killer. Just the thought made Stiles shudder.

Derek had been quiet all night. He wasn’t really a talker, but thankfully he took over the conversation with some sports talk that Stiles was too distracted to try to keep track of. He chewed at his food, but his appetite had been lost.

After dinner, John had to get back to work, so Stiles and Derek weren’t going to stick around for a movie. When his dad walked them to the door, Stiles seized up.

He knew, morally, that he should tell his dad. But could he?

“You two drive safe now, okay?” The sheriff smiled, all warm, a smile that had soothed Stiles through so many nightmares.

Tell him?

“We will, sir.” Derek flashed him his most charming grin, keeping the sheriff occupied. Distracted from Stiles’ troubled expression.

Don’t tell him?

“Stiles, I’ll call you later, alright?” He nodded mechanically.

He couldn’t decide.  

The sheriff squinted at him. “Are you okay, son?”

“Derek, can we have a minute alone?” Stiles blurted out before he could talk himself out of it. Derek looked at him carefully, before nodding and placing his hand on his back, offering comfort. It could almost be construed as something more, but that wasn’t what Stiles was thinking about at the moment.

Derek went outside, and Stiles waited until he heard the car door close to start talking.

“So,” he said.

“Stiles, what’s wrong?” His dad was starting to look seriously concerned now.

“I-I just have to tell you something.”

“Okay.”

Stiles closed his eyes and tried counting to ten, but he got to twelve before he said, “You don’t need to call the FBI in.”

“What?” The sheriff’s face twisted up in confusion. “Why? Is that what you had to tell me?”

Stiles ran a hand over his head. “No, not exactly, it’s just that…” he trailed off, not sure what to say. “It’s that the murders aren’t connected. So, they don’t cross state lines.” His voice sounded stilted and weird, even to himself.

The sheriff stared at him, confusion etched into every line of his face. “Stiles? How do you-”

He pressed his eyes close. “Because I killed them.”

Resounding silence. Stiles wasn’t sure how long it lasted, but it couldn’t have been the hour he’d guessed at first. Derek would’ve come inside or dragged him back to the car.

John struggled to find words. “What do you mean you…?”

Stiles’ shoulders slumped. “When I escaped. I didn’t come back on my own. Really, I don’t even know why Talia lied for me. But me and Lydia…” He swallowed. “We were in Texas, and walking along the side of the road, when those three guys pulled up beside us, and really Dad, I didn’t have a choice,” he rushed to explain.

His dad stared. “You killed those men?”

“They were- they were going to rape Lydia. I couldn’t let that happen.” He felt tears in his eyes. God damnit he was tired of crying over those three assholes.

“Stiles, I…” the sheriff trailed off. “I don’t know-”

“It’s okay,” Stiles rushed to reassure him. It was okay that his dad didn’t know how to put into words how ashamed and surprised he was. “I’m just gonna go back to the house,” he said, already opening the door.

“Wait,” the sheriff said, reaching out, but Stiles ducked away from his hand and practically ran out the door. Derek was leaning against the side of the car. “Stiles!”

He didn’t look Derek in the face, only waited until he unlocked the car. He then slid into the passenger seat, staring at the dashboard until the car cranked. They peeled out of the driveway. Thankfully, Derek seemed to sense his urgency.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, the only sound the hum of the motor. Stiles scrubbed at his face, although he’d stopped crying.

“You know it wasn’t your fault, right?” Derek asked, finally breaking the silence.

Stiles scoffed. He didn’t even dignify that with an answer.

“You did what you had to do. They would’ve killed you. Or worse.”

“Yeah, but at the end of the day I’m still a killer.” His voice sounded raspy and raw. He hated it. He just wanted to go back home and curl up in his bed. And by home, he didn’t mean the Hale House. That wasn’t his home. His home was where he lived with his mom and dad, a whole and normal family.

Derek didn’t say anything, although he looked like he wanted to. Instead, he just took his hand off the wheel and threaded his fingers with Stiles’, who was still too distracted to think much into it.

 

__________________

 

He trudged through the door, Derek following behind him.

He had never gotten out what he wanted to say in the car. Looks like he wanted to say it now. “Stiles-” Whatever he was going to say was cut off when they both stopped short in front of the staircase, peering into the kitchen where almost everyone in the household was trying to break up a fight between Erica and Lydia.

Stiles had never seen Lydia like this before. He’d seen the fake her, the one with the giggly smile and bossy attitude she paraded around at school, and the real her, the one with hollow, haunted eyes and a smile that had to be drawn out.

But this was something entirely new. Her mouth wasn’t smiling or scowling; it was stretched into a sneer that showed off her perfect teeth. Her pale skin was flushed red with rage, her fists were balled up by her sides, and she was screaming.

Erica was nothing new. She tended to explode frequently.

“You’ve done nothing but be a bitch-”

“Shut the fuck up, Lydia. Just because you’re stuck up Stiles’ ass-”

He got the sinking feeling that this was about him. He looked at Derek to see if he had any insight to what this was about. His angry eyebrows were only creeping up his face as he watched in shock.

Laura was in between the girls, trying to keep them apart, while Mark and Frederick were pulling them in opposite directions. Talia was trying to shout over them.

“Language,” she barked.

Lydia looked ready to explode. “This isn’t just about Stiles.”

“Then what?” She waved her hands around in the air for emphasis. “You suddenly have a problem with me after he shows up? We used to be friends.”

“It’s about you and your god damn black heart. What happened to you to make you want to kill someone?”

Laura looked at Erica in shock, giving her just the right opening to shake off Mark’s grip and shoulder past her. She cocked her arm back and swung.

Lydia stumbled backward, clutching at her cheek, but she didn’t look hurt, only angry. “I wouldn’t expect anything else from you.” And then she spat in Erica’s face.

The table started to shake. “Hey,” Stiles shouted. He couldn’t be heard over the fight, but he also couldn’t try to push through them. “Hey!”

Lydia turned to look at him, prompting Erica to swivel her head in his direction too.

He held up his hands. “Why don’t we just calm down?”

“Shut up,” Erica exploded, and with a push of her hands, the table floated up off the floor and flew straight at Stiles.

He didn’t have time to move, it was coming at him too fast. He threw his arms over his head and felt Derek’s hands shove him in between his shoulder blades, trying to push him out of the way. It didn’t make a difference, the table was too wide, but at the last moment it veered left and crashed into the wall.

Stiles stared at it. The drywall was completely ruined and the table looked worse for wear.

Erica was laying on the ground. She’d taken a hard fall, and Lydia had been the one to push her on her ass.

He felt Derek’s arm wrap around his shoulders, not being as careful as he should’ve been. Stiles was too shocked to scold him, and let Derek pull him closer.

It appeared both of the girls had run out of things to say. They stared at each other. Their faces were painted with hatred.

“What is the meaning of this?” Talia asked, in a voice that was entirely too calm. Her heels clicked on the floor as she stepped in between them herself, but Lydia moved without complaint.

Boyd helped Erica up. Her hair was a mess and she was scrubbing at the spot on her cheek were Lydia’s spit had landed. She looked like what had just happened was sinking in. Lydia, on the other hand, held her head high and showed no sign of pain or remorse.

“Well?” Talia repeated when no one answered her.

“Ask Lydia,” Erica said. “She just came at me with these crazy accusations-”

“They’re not accusations if they’re true.”

“I haven’t done anything.”

Lydia glared. “Not yet.”

Laura stepped forward and touched Lydia’s elbow. “Is this about your vision last night?”

Lydia nodded at the same time Erica scoffed. When she narrowed her eyes, Erica sneered. “A vision. Right. You just happened to have a vision about me hurting your bestest friend in the whole world. What could I possibly do to hurt him?”

“You killed him.”

Stiles felt a chill go down his spine. “What?” His voice sounded faint and far away.

“I would never do anything like that,” Erica said.

“Oh, you didn’t do it directly.” Lydia crossed her arms. “But you might as well have. Something had happened; he was hiding from something, someone. And you went and told them exactly where he was.” She swallowed. “I can still hear him screaming.”

Talia grabbed Lydia’s arm. “Who was he hiding from?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I didn’t see them, only saw her making a call. And then Stiles-”

“Oh, how convenient,” Erica interrupted. “You didn’t see their faces.”

“Why would I lie about something like this? How does it benefit me?”

Erica opened her mouth, to reply with something no doubt scathing, but Stiles finally spoke, shrugging off Derek’s arm. “You would do that?”

All heads swiveled towards him. “You would turn me in? You’d let me die?” Erica didn’t say anything, just blinked her big eyes at him. She looked at a loss for words. Lydia wouldn’t look him in the face. He remembered what she said, about his screams.

“You know what,” he said after a long pause. “I haven’t done one mean thing to you while I’ve been here. But I’ve dealt with your sucky attitude and how you can barely wait for me to leave the room to start making fun of me. I might be able to kill people with my touch, but you’re the real monster here.”

Stiles turned on his heel and didn’t even bother to hide his run. He bolted up the stairs and into his room. He locked the door before sitting heavily on the carpet, like his legs couldn’t hold his weight.

Chapter Text

Talia assured Stiles several times that Erica would be dealt with. She wasn’t grounded, but the icy silence from the rest of the group and stilted chatter was enough to make her retreat after half an hour of trying to stick it out. They stuck her in therapy with Deaton, every other day. Because she hadn’t actually done anything, there wasn’t much Talia could really do.

Didn’t stop Stiles from resenting her. Of course, it was a little better when Derek was willing to hold his hand.

Something that wasn’t improved by hand holding was the situation with his dad. He’d called, several times, but Stiles had stared at the phone until it stopped ringing. He didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing.

He never said he was a Gryffindor, okay.

“Bye, Derek.” Stiles slid out the car with a smile on his face, untangling their hands from where they’d been resting on the console. That was a thing now. He thought it might just have been after the episode with his dad, a comforting touch, but then he did it on the way to school Monday morning. And when he picked him up. And Tuesday morning.

Let’s just say the hand holding was a regular occurrence now.

“Dude.” Scott grinned at him. Allison was standing in the doorway, talking to a group of girls. “Why do you look so happy?”

“Um, why do you look so happy?”

Scott frowned. “I always look like this.”

“Well, maybe you’re rubbing off on me.” He elbowed Scott in the side. He loved the sense of camaraderie he didn’t get from the other guys in the house. Lydia was great and all, but sometimes she didn’t exactly get his problems.

“So,” Scott rocked back on his heels. “Did you do your math homework?”

Stiles rolled his eyes and started digging through his bag, leafing through papers, when he felt a hand come down on his shoulder. It was a soft touch, but it still startled him enough to make him lose his grip on his bag.

He eyed the scattered papers. “Shit.”

“I am so sorry.” The hand belonged to Danny. Jackson’s best friend, goalie for the lacrosse team. Actually not a douchebag; he calmed Jackson down from any rampages. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Here, let me-” He bent down to start picking up the papers.

Stiles beat him to it. “No, dude, it’s totally cool, don’t worry about it.” Danny felt entirely too close to him, both their heads bent close.

Stiles stuffed some papers into his bag. Danny’s hand, the thing that started this in the first place, brushed up against his when he handed him the papers. If Stiles wasn’t wearing gloves it might’ve made him all tingly and nervous, but he was, so it didn’t.

“Um, thanks,” he stuttered. Danny still wasn’t leaving. In fact, he stepped closer, and Stiles had to force himself not to take an automatic step back.

“Stiles,” Danny grinned. It was a charming smile, if Stiles was being honest. “I was wondering if you would maybe want to do something tomorrow night?”

"Tomorrow night?” Friday. Tomorrow night was Friday. “Like a date?”

“Yeah.”

Stiles squinted at him. “Is this a joke?” He didn’t think Danny would be one to go along with whatever Jackson had cooked up to humiliate him, that was more Greenberg’s territory. But still, this was just too weird.

“What?” Danny blinked. “No, of course not. Why would you think-”

“Jackson,” Stiles interrupted, “I would think Jackson. Y’know, your best friend. Hates me because he thinks I’m after Lydia or something. I really wouldn’t put this past him.”

Understanding flashed across Danny’s face. “Oh. Oh, no no no. Jackson didn’t send me. It’s just that I think you’re cute.” The grin was back. “And I like you.”

Stiles felt his eyebrows raise higher and higher on his face. “You don’t know me.”

“I would like to, though.”

That smooth motherfucker.

It sunk in that Danny, popular, cute Danny was asking Stiles on a date. And he couldn’t accept. One, danger was his middle name, and not in the brave way. Two, he had Derek. Well, they were still just friends, but they’d graduated to hand holding at least. That had to mean something, right?

“Oh, I don’t know,” Stiles rubbed the back of his neck. “Really, I’ve just got so much going on, and-”

The bell rang, thank god. “Wow, would you look at the time, I’ve got to get to class.” Scott had abandoned him at the bottom of the stairs and gone to the top to talk to Allison, who gave him a look before walking ahead of them. “Dude, you will never believe what just happened.”

“Danny asked you out.”

Stiles looked over his shoulder, paranoid Danny was right behind them. “Yeah, how did you know?”

Scott shrugged. “Everyone knows Danny likes you. It’s like, a thing.”

Stiles threw his hands up. “Well, I didn’t know. Don’t you think that would’ve been pertinent information?”

“Sorry dude. So did you say yes?”

Stiles sighed. “No.”    

“What?” Scott stopped short, causing a girl behind him to bump into him and drop her books. He helped her pick them up and then dragged Stiles to the side of the hallway, to where they leaned against the lockers. “You said no?”

“Um, yeah?”

Scott stared at him. “Why?”

“Well, I just, he’s,” Stiles floundered for something to say. “He’s not my type, I guess. Also, I like someone else.” He averted his eyes.

Scott was silent for a moment. “It’s not me, is it? Because you know I’m with Allison-”

Stiles actually smacked him on the side of the head. “Dude, no. It’s Derek.”

“The guy who drives you to school? That you also live with?”

“Uh, yeah.” Scott looked at him and raised his eyebrows, like he was judging his life choices. “What?”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? I mean, you live together. If you break up, what are you gonna do? It’ll be so awkward.”

“Scott, I said I liked him, not that we’re dating. For all I know, he could think I’m basically his teenage child. I don’t know. It’ll probably never work out. I’ll die an old man, alone, unmarried, still a fucking virgin.” Scott snorted. “Not funny, dude.”

Scott grinned at him. It was hard to stay mad at Scott when he grinned like that. “It’s a little funny.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Whatever, let’s just get to class.”

 

__________________

 

As soon as the last bell of the day rang, Stiles was out the door and in the parking lot in a matter of minutes. Derek was waiting for him, as always.

He raised his eyebrows when Stiles slid into the seat, rocking the car a little with the force that he threw himself in with. “In a rush?”

“Yeah,” Stiles panted. “Drive.”

Derek obeyed without arguing, strangely enough.

“So, what were you running from?”

“Danny.”

“Danny?”

Stiles had been avoiding Danny all day. He waited out lunch in the library, came into class as late as possible and left as early as he could manage, sat in seats across the room, slumped down, refusing to look at him. “Yeah, Danny Mahealani. He asked me out today, and I just- it’s awkward.”

Derek’s grip on the steering wheel tightened. “And what did you say?”

“Um?” Stiles said. “No? Why would I say yes?” He cautiously offered his hand. After a moment, Derek released his death hold on the wheel and slid his right hand into Stiles’.

Derek didn’t say anything.

“I mean, first of all, I don’t like him. He’s a cool guy, but,” he swallowed, studying Derek’s profile. “Not my type. Also, I couldn’t touch him and I don’t think anyone would love to be in a relationship with someone they can’t touch. I can’t even go swimming, for Christ’s sake.”

Derek finally looked at him. “Why not?”

“Um, half naked bodies floating around me? That’s a really bad idea. Which sucks, because swimming is great.”

Derek squeezed his hand.

 

__________________

 

Around one in the morning, there was a knock on Stiles’ door. He sat up, rubbing at his cheek where he felt the pillow crease and stumbled out of bed. He was just wearing boxers, but whoever was knocking on his door in the middle of the night could get an eyeful for all he cared.

Derek was on the other side. His hair was all fluffy, no gel in it, and he was almost naked. He was wearing swim trunks.

Stiles wanted to keep his eyes from drifting down his body but really that just wasn’t a feasible option. Derek was- damn. His muscles had muscles, and he wanted to lick every single one.

“Good,” Derek smirked. “You’re already dressed. Let’s go.”

“Go where?” Derek held up the towels under his arm. “Swimming?”

“Yep.” He led the way and Stiles, in a sleep induced haze, hurried to follow him. He had to go extra slow. Derek had no problem creeping down the stairs with stealth, but Stiles wasn’t a graceful person and never would be.

Outside, the pool lights were on, casting everything in a wavy, white light. The concrete was cold and hard under his feet, and in this light, Derek looked completely different. It probably helped that his hair looked touchable and soft. Stiles felt a smile creep up his face.

Derek looked up from where he was putting the towels down on the patio table. “What?”

Stiles cleared his throat. “Nothing, I’m just wondering what makes you think this is a good idea.”

“Well.” Derek stepped towards the pool, not trying to keep an eye on Stiles, despite his back being turned. Blind trust. “We have a whole pool. Just stay away from me, I’ll stay away from you.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “That sounds like so much fun.”

“Well, you’re the one who wanted to go swimming, and I figured you’d like the company.” Derek sat on the edge of the pool before easing himself in. He dunked out of sight for a couple seconds, before emerging with his hair plastered to his head. His skin glistened with water in a way that was too enticing for Stiles’ self control to handle. “Are you going to come in, or…?”

Stiles rolled his eyes but went to the opposite side of the pool (the shallow side, he noticed with distaste) and jumped in, full cannonball style. The cold water shocked his nerves enough to make him sputter when he resurfaced.

Derek fixed him with an unimpressed look. “Graceful.”

“Well, that is my middle name.” Stiles smiled. It was nowhere near as charming as Derek’s, but it was at least a little handsome.

Derek would never admit it, but Stiles knew he thought he was funny.

The water felt amazing. It was getting colder now, especially at night, so it definitely made him break out in chill bumps, but it’d been so long since he’d been swimming that he didn’t really mind. He floated on his back, the way the water shifted lulling him in a way a lullaby never could.

He wasn’t alone, but Derek calmed some part of him that was always on edge.

Eventually, Stiles got tired of just floating and stood up. “Dude, it’s no fair you get the deep side and I get the kid’s side.”

Derek shrugged and waded towards him. “So switch with me.”

The more Derek walked towards him, the more of his body came out of the water. Stiles tried to keep from staring.

It obviously wasn’t working, because the look Derek gave communicated all too well that he knew what Stiles was thinking. Exactly what Stiles was thinking.

He looked away, but then couldn’t help himself. He looked back.

Derek’s eyes were tracing down his body. Stiles instantly felt the urge to hunch in on himself, hide as much as possible. He couldn’t exactly work out in all of his layers (plus he didn’t want to) so he was skinny, with almost no muscle definition. Definitely not good enough to warrant the kind of eye contact Derek was giving him.

He felt his dick start to harden. And there was no way he could hide it in loose boxers in a swimming pool. He looked up at the sky and started counting the stars, needing to calm down just enough to get his cock to soften.

But then he heard the sound of Derek’s body moving through the water. He looked away from the sky and right into his eyes.

"Don’t move,” Derek said. “I won’t touch your skin. Just be still.”

Stiles nodded. His breathing was coming fast and shallow now. He was very aware of his hard-on.

Without breaking eye contact, Derek ran a finger along the front of Stiles’ boxers. He tried, he really tried, but his hips jumped forward, begging for more contact.

Derek didn’t smirk, like Stiles thought he would, just rubbed him through his boxers again, this time his fingers finding the tip of his dick and rubbing at the slit. He moaned, louder than he meant to.

“Take off your boxers,” Derek said.

“You take off yours,” Stiles shot back immediately. His voice, however, didn’t have the same husky, dark quality that Derek’s had.

He raised an eyebrow and hooked his finger in the waistband of his swim shorts and pulled them down unceremoniously. He flung them out of the water and they landed with a loud, wet noise on the concrete. Stiles couldn’t help but gape.

Derek’s dick wasn’t monster big, but it was larger than average, that was for sure, and it was hard. Stiles shivered just looking at it. He’d never given much serious thought to whether he would be a top or a bottom, for obvious reasons, but now he was thinking bottom. Definitely bottom.

At Derek’s pointed look, he hesitantly started to slide them down his thighs. As soon as they were off, Derek snatched them out of his hands and threw them beside his.

Stiles gulped.

“Touch yourself,” Derek whispered. Stiles wrapped a hand around his dick and only realized after the fact that he’d made a low, whining noise. It sounded embarrassingly needy, but when he looked at Derek’s face, he only looked pleased. He was stroking himself slowly, not taking his eyes off Stiles. “Good. Now move your hand.”

Stiles obeyed. He started slow. He couldn’t shake some of the self consciousness that came with standing right beside variably the hottest guy on the planet.

“Faster,” Derek commanded. His own hand was speeding up too. Stiles gripped himself tighter and began to stroke faster and faster, until he felt like he was about to fall apart. Derek started to praise him, whispering how good he was, until-

“What are you two doing?”

Stiles flailed backwards, tripping and swallowing a good amount of water. Derek was a lot more subtle about backing away from him. “Nothing,” Stiles wheezed. It was hard to talk when your lungs were full of water.

There went his boner. He was so close too.

Laura was standing at the door, watching them, dressed in cozy pajamas with her arms crossed. “Do you know how late it is? And what are you doing…” She trailed off, looking over their shoulders. Stiles followed her line of sight, and, to his horror, he saw his boxers and Derek’s swim shorts laying a few feet away from each other. In full view of Laura. Who now knew they were naked. “Oh my god.”

“So here’s the thing-” Stiles started. He was already working out an elaborate story involving a chicken, hair removal cream, and an accidental fall into the pool.

“Shut up,” Derek sighed. Stiles glared, because hey, he was talking. Interrupting was rude. “There’s no point, she can read your emotions.”

Stiles’ body was quickly feeling like a furnace. He was pretty sure even his toes were blushing. “Well,” he coughed. “That makes this a lot more awkward.”

“This is actually a little hilarious.” Laura smirked.

Derek growled, “Shut up. Can’t you just go away?”

“Sorry boys, but the pool is closed at this time of night, I’m going to need you to vacate the premises. It’s way past your bedtime, Stiles.” She shot a pointed look at Derek. “Who is a kid.”

Stiles was ready to bust out the argument that in a lot of states, he was the legal age of consent, but Derek nodded like all of this made sense. Stiles almost slapped him on the arm before he remembered that wasn’t a thing he could do.

“Can you give us a minute?” Derek asked. Laura raised an eyebrow. “To get our pants, Laura.”

She ducked inside. As soon as she did, Derek started to wade to the other side of the pool, where they’d flung their  respective garments.

Derek didn’t say a word as he heaved himself out of the water and started to pull on his swim trunks. He handed Stiles his boxers wordlessly when he got close and climbed up onto the edge of the pool.

“Derek?” Stiles said, uncertainty creeping into his voice.

He gave him a half assed smile. “Let’s just go inside.” Stiles didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing, and wrapped himself up in the towel Derek handed him. He followed him inside, past Laura, who looked deep in thought and followed their movement with her eyes, and up the stairs. Stiles stopped at his door, but Derek didn’t.

“Derek,” Stiles said again. “Are… Are we alright?”

Derek tried to give him what he probably thought was a reassuring smile, but it was just further proof to Stiles that this had all gone very wrong. “Yeah, Stiles, we’re fine.”

They held each other’s gaze for another moment, before Laura came up the stairs. She was holding a cup, and when she saw they were hesitating, she urged Derek forward. She smiled at Stiles, but like her brother, she sucked at reassuring smiles.

 

__________________

 

Stiles laid awake that night, worrying. Which wasn’t fair, considering that he wasn’t the instigator.

Chapter Text

Things with Derek weren’t too awkward after. He seemed to be dealing with some guilt issues and obvious problems with Stiles’ age. He wanted to pout, but felt that would only further prove his immaturity.

Stiles didn’t want to force it. He left his hand laying slack on the center console, but Derek never reached out to grab it. He was mildly embarrassed to mortified, depending on the day and his mood. He couldn’t bear to tell Scott what happened while surrounded by people who could eavesdrop and tell everyone about his humiliation. Scott kept poking him in the arm though, which was getting very annoying.

The entire atmosphere of the house changed when Talia warned them that a new student would be arriving on Saturday. There was the thick feeling of excitement in the air, even Erica, who had been subdued lately, was kicking it into high gear. It was like a holiday.

He wondered if that was what it was like when they learned he was coming. Either he was a huge disappointment, or they weren’t given as much forewarning about Stiles as they had about the new girl.

Speaking of girls, there were several heated debates on where the new girl should be stuck. Lydia and Malia each had their own rooms, and Cora and Erica shared.

Lydia and Malia were basically fighting for who got to keep their room free of other people. Lydia could scar the poor girl with her screaming, or potentially burst her eardrums (citation needed). Malia struggled with control so much that when she slept, she could latch on to anyone near her and stick them in replaying nightmares.

Cora could attest to the fact that it was horrible, considering she originally roomed with Malia. It hadn’t ended well.

Stiles, as he was slightly manipulative, took advantage of the chaos and the arrangements being made to talk to Talia.

“Talia,” he started. She looked up at him. Papers for enrollment, custody, health insurance, and other shit were placed on her desk in neat stacks, but only half of them were filled out and she was looking very irritable. “I know I cause you some stress.”

She rubbed her temple. “That’s putting it mildly.”

“So I was thinking,” he said, “that it might do some good to have me, you know, out of the house for the weekend. Just while the new girl gets settled.”

Talia raised an eyebrow. “Is that so?”

“Yeah,” Stiles blurted. He honestly didn’t think he’d even get this far. “I could spend the weekend with my dad. And you don’t have to send Derek with me or anything, because my dad is all supportive of me being here, somewhat, so he’s not going to help me like, escape, or anything. That was the wrong thing to say. Point is, you can trust me. To be good. I swear.”

Talia studied him in a way that made him squirm. Then, after a long pause, she said, “The house will be very busy and crowded. Everyone will want to meet her. You’ve been very good about Derek’s tail, I presume because he hasn’t told me otherwise. You get one weekend.” She held up a pointy, manicured nail. “One. I’ll have Derek drop you off at your father’s house on Friday.”

“I’d really rather have my dad pick me up. I haven’t gotten to ride in his squad car yet. I mean, the Camaro is awesome and is basically sex on wheels, but squad cars are so much cooler.” He was pushing it. He knew he was pushing. Talia, by the look on her face, knew he was pushing it.

She sighed. “Fine. And for the love of god, don’t let the Argents know.”

 

__________________

 

Stiles was not going to his dad’s. He still wasn’t taking his calls.

There was an open invitation from Scott, which had been given to him at the beginning of their friendship, to come over, hang out, and kill zombies.

“So remember when you told me I could come over anytime?” Stiles asked casually during history. One of the classes they didn’t spend with Allison.

Scott looked up from where he was doodling hearts around a stick figure that was remarkably similar to Allison. “Yeah?” He said, a grin spreading across his face.

“Well buddy, it’s your lucky day, because I am free this weekend.” He clapped a hand on Scott’s back.

“Really, dude? That’s awesome. Pizza and COD?”

“Fuck yeah.”

 

__________________

 

On Friday, Scott drove his mom’s car to school because Stiles rode with Derek to school and him and Scott couldn’t both fit on his ten speed.

"Hot ride,” Stiles said, leaning against the step railing. It was a beat up Honda missing a side view mirror on one side, and the other was mangled to pieces and bent in a shape that was almost a U.

“Shut up,” Scott huffed. He reached out to cuff his hand on the back of Stiles’ head, and Stiles barely danced out of his reach in time.

There was an awkward pause, as there always was when Scott reached out to touch him, and Stiles scrambled away like he thought Scott had something.

“Where’s Allison?” Stiles asked, filling the empty air between them. “She’s usually waiting for you by the bike racks.”

Scott shrugged. “Had something to do with her family today, she didn’t really tell me what.” He frowned. “She’s been being weird lately.”

Stiles knew what Allison was doing. Or, he at least had a guess. She was probably with her father and terrifying mother, plotting ways to bully the new girl.

“I’m sorry, buddy.” He clapped Scott on the shoulder. “I’d say I could relate, but I’ve never so much had a girl look at me.” No, he’d only had Derek, who’d told him to jerk himself off in front of him and then freaked out after the fact.

Scott sighed. “It started around the time you first got here. She’s just been, I don’t know, distant, withdrawn.” He scrunched up his face. “Aloof.”

“Dude, I’m not sure you know what that word means.”

Scott glared. “I don’t know, I just don’t want our relationship to be,” he paused for several seconds, “ephemeral.”

Stiles nodded his head in understanding. “Ah, SAT prep?”

Scott shrugged and swooped his hair out of his face. “Yeah, Allison’s family was talking about how I’m not good enough for her. She’s an all A student and I’m… not."

“Dude,” Stiles nudged his shoulder. “You’re a catch. And don’t let any Argent tell you otherwise.”

 

__________________

 

Scott’s mom was really nice. Her name was Melissa and Stiles only briefly got to meet her, as she ran out the door in a pair of pink scrubs and pressed a hurried kiss on Scott’s cheek. She had the kind of warmth to her, that Stiles’ mom had had, and that Talia definitely didn’t possess.

“Your mom’s cool.” Stiles hopped up on the counter in Scott’s kitchen, as Scott arranged pizza rolls on a plate and slid them into the microwave.

Scott wrinkled his nose. “Please don’t tell me you think my mom is hot or anything.”

“What? I mean, your mom’s a lovely lady, good looking, but I wouldn’t- I mean-”

“Jackson always says she’s a MILF.”

“Jackson is a massive douchebag. It’s to be expected.”

Scott cracked a smile, dimples appearing in his cheeks. “Yeah, you’re right about that.”

“Please,” Stiles said as the microwave beeped. He swiped one off the plate as Scott pulled it out and popped it in his mouth. “I’m always right.”

He ruined the coolness of the moment by having to immediately spit out the pizza roll. Stiles made a face. He’d definitely burnt his tongue.

Scott was chuckling. Stiles glowered.

 

__________________

 

It was all going great until around nine o’clock, when Stiles and Scott were both stuffed full of pizza, coke, and candy bars they’d gotten from the gas station down the street. They’d been lounging on two beat up bean bag chairs, casually shooting zombies, when Scott’s phone started blaring Beyonce.

Stiles raised an eyebrow. Scott didn’t even look like he cared about Stiles as he lunged for the phone. “It’s Allison’s ringtone,” he explained, breathless, a smile sliding across his face.

It didn’t occur to Stiles that this was like watching a slow car wreck until Scott had already answered. He stared, wide eyed.

“I’m just home, with Stiles.” Scott frowned. “Yeah, Stiles as in my best friend. Why?”

Stiles winced when he heard a burst of sound on the other end. Scott yanked it away from his ear for a moment. “I don’t understand- wait, Allison-” He stared at the phone. “She hung up on me.”

Stiles closed his eyes. It didn’t stop the rise of dread inside of him.

He woodenly played video games with Scott for another fifteen minutes. Then, someone was banging frantically on the front door. They both jumped and shared a look. Scott looked confused, but Stiles knew exactly who it was.

He followed slowly behind Scott, picking up the bag he’d never bothered to unpack.

Scott opened the door. “Um, who-?”

“Stiles,” Derek interrupted. “Come on. Now.”

“What? Woah, dude, you can’t tell Stiles to do anything.” Scott blocked Stiles from leaving.

“I can, and I am.” He focused on Stiles. “Come on, let’s go.”

“But-”

“Now, Stiles,” Derek growled. He inched forward, but it apparently wasn’t fast enough, because Derek reached out and gripped his arm, pulling him past Scott and out the door. Stiles sighed.

“Hey, what’s wrong with you!?” Scott screamed, running out of the house after them. Derek was walking at a brisk pace, basically dragging Stiles across the lawn.

“Scott, it’s fine.” Stiles yanked himself out of Derek’s hold when they got to the car, rubbing at the spot on his arm where it’d been squeezed too tightly. He shot Derek a glare. “It’s just Derek, from the Hale House, y’know. I should probably go with him.” Stiles sighed.

Scott looked conflicted. “But…”

“Seriously, Scotty,” Stiles said. Derek had apparently gotten tired of waiting, because he wrenched the passenger side door open and shoved Stiles down into the seat. “It’s fine. I’ll text you later.”

He didn’t have the opportunity to further soothe any of Scott’s worries, because Derek slammed the car door in his face. Stiles slumped back into the seat.

Derek got in the car and pulled out of the driveway with a type of recklessness Stiles had never seen displayed towards his precious Camaro.

The car was filled with awkward silence. Stiles could only stand so much. “So,” he said, picking at a stray thread on his gloves, “how’s the new girl?”

It was apparently the wrong thing to say.

Derek snarled and hit his hand on the steering wheel. “Jesus, Stiles, my mom gives you a little bit of leeway and you take advantage of it. No wonder she doesn’t trust you, you lie .”

That hurt, especially coming from Derek, but Stiles wasn’t going to let it show. “Who even uses the word ‘leeway.’ I can’t even think of a time it comes up naturally in a sentence. Well, I guess now, but other than that-” Stiles babbled.

“Stiles,” Derek growled. “Shut. Up. You’re such a child-”

“You didn’t seem to think I was last Thursday.” Something was burning in his chest. Something hot and red, like coal right before it burst into flames. Stiles was tired of this. He was tired of being pushed around. He wasn’t going to take it anymore.

Derek blushed to the top of his ears. “That’s different.”

“How?” Derek seemed to be at a loss for words. He growled when he couldn’t properly express his emotions. “It’s not! You’re just scared of having emotions. What fucked you up so badly? What’s your damage?”

Derek turned in his seat, not even watching the road, staring Stiles dead in the eye with what could only be described as blind rage. “My damage? Maybe if you didn’t act like such a fucking kid-”

Another car crashed into them.

The crunch of metal was deafening. Stiles’ head snapped back and then forward, slamming into the air bag. He felt something warm and wet smear across it. His seatbelt was cutting into his neck and his chest was aching. He couldn’t breathe, oh god, he couldn’t breathe.

This was just like last time.

“Derek?” He whimpered, raising his head. “Derek!?”

Derek was laying with his neck at an unnatural angle, face first into the airbag. Stiles couldn’t tell if he was breathing.

His eyes started to well up with tears.

“Derek! Come on.” He reached out his hand to shake him. He still didn’t move. “No, no, no,” Stiles shifted in his seat but stopped when the pain in his legs overwhelmed his senses. He looked down.

His jeans were in tatters. One leg was bent and shattered and oh god, you could see bone sticking up through. The other one looked like it was almost flattened out, and Stiles realized the only thing that stopped his leg from being two separate pieces were tendons and a very fragile shard of bone.

He’d never walk again, he realized absently.

“Derek!? Derek!?” Stiles’ chest hurt, not just from where the seatbelt had dug in. It was heaving, trying to suck in air to compensate for Stiles’ sobbing. “Derek, please wake up, please.”

And then, as if he’d heard him, Derek opened his eyes.

Stiles gasped as Derek, who looked more alert than he should be, took the situation in. You could see the horror on his face increase when he saw how Stiles was angled toward him, swiveled at the waist, his legs useless.

“Stiles,” Derek croaked, and then his hand fumbled until he found the door handle, and swung it open. “Stiles, stay right there, I’ve got you.” Derek unbuckled his seatbelt and fell out of the car, onto the ground.

Stiles’ chest tightened. Derek was going to leave him here, or try to, because his legs hadn’t looked in peak condition either.

Stiles fell back against the leather upholstery and cried. He wanted to know if the other car, the other driver, was okay, but the windshield hadn’t shattered, just cracked into a million pieces, like a glass spiderweb.

He used his cotton gloves to sop up the blood that was trickling down his forehead and into his eye.

He was going to die, and he was strangely okay with that. He should’ve died the first time, instead of his mom. Instead, he became a monster.

And a killer.

Stiles’ door was yanked open, and there stood Derek, clothes torn and covered in blood, but standing upright and looking like the epitome of health. Stiles gaped, and remembered that Derek’s gift was healing.

He just didn’t realize he could do it to that extent.

Stiles realized a split second what was about to happen before Derek was shifting him. “No, no Derek, don’t,” Stiles said frantically.

Derek got his arms under Stiles’ armpits and started to drag him out of the car.

He screamed until his throat hurt, because his legs were broken and torn and Derek was pulling on them. He set Stiles gently on his back, on the tarmac, with his lower body still in the car. He cried and screamed but Derek got both of his legs out, managing not to split the one in half. Then, he hooked his hands under Stiles’ armpits again and began to drag him.

Stiles knew what Derek was going to try to do. He tried to struggle but the blood from the cut on his head was in his eye and his hands were useless and all he could do was talk as Derek pulled him off the road and into the grass, leaving a trail of blood behind.

“Derek, Derek, please don’t do this, think about your parents and your sisters, you can’t leave them, you can’t risk this, Derek!” Derek only pulled harder.

“I know Deaton said it was possible, but he also said it was possible that we would die, and I’m already going out, but you’re not, both of us don’t need to die.” His voice was high pitched and pleading.

Derek finally came to a stop and let Stiles lie in the overgrown grass, before kneeling beside him. “It’s going to be okay, Stiles, I’ve got you.” His voice was eerily calm, and Stiles watched, aghast, as Derek’s hand gripped the bottom of Stiles’ shirt and hoodie and lifted it.

A last ditch attempt had to be made.

“I killed my mom!” Stiles yelled. Derek froze. “I killed her, not the accident, I died and came back and had to hold my mom’s hand but I killed her. She was alive, she was going to live, but I fucked it up, I don’t deserve to survive another fucking car crash. Do you hear me?” Stiles panted. “I murdered my own mother!”

Derek fixed sad eyes on Stiles bloodied, grief stricken face, and whispered, “Everything will be alright.” Before laying his warm hand on Stiles’ bare stomach.

Chapter Text

Stiles woke up slowly, peeling his eyelids open. He was in his room at the Hale House. Dull light was shining through the windows, and his dad had pulled up a chair beside the bed. He was grasping Stiles’ hand, which was thankfully covered, and resting with his head at an awkward angle on the mattress.

He looked around his room. All seemed to be in place, if a little tidier than normal. He stared for a moment, but nothing was coming back to him.

His whole body had gone tense, and that small movement was enough to make the sheriff raise his head and blink at Stiles, before realizing what he was seeing.

“Oh my god,” he half sobbed. “Stiles.”

Stiles smiled weakly. “Hey,” he tried to say, but his throat was like sandpaper and it came out rough.

His dad squeezed his hand. There were tear tracks down his face. The bags under his eyes and his messed-up hair sent a message loud and clear; his dad hadn’t properly taken care of himself in days.

“What happened?” Stiles rasped.

“There was an accident,” his dad choked out. “I nearly lost you.”

Stiles blinked. He jerked up violently, throwing the blankets off of his body. His father stumbled away from him at the sudden movement but Stiles was staring, eyes clouded, at his legs. Perfectly healed. He remembered with a shudder the way that his legs had been barely tied together.

And then Derek. Derek.

Stiles scrambled out of bed, his legs wobbling beneath his weight, like a newborn fawn. He stumbled to the door, ignoring his dad’s warnings, and threw it open. He took another step but his legs caved and he hit his knees on the rough wooden floor.

Erica appeared around the corner of the hallway, staring down at her phone. Her hair was mussed and her face make-up free. It was clear she hadn’t come to check up on him, and he wondered how long he’d been out. “Erica,” Stiles rasped.

Her head snapped up and there was a clattering noise as she dropped her phone. “Oh my god,” she breathed. “Talia!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.

Then she was running at him and dropping to her knees too, letting the glide of her sweatpants carry her the last few feet. Careful to keep from touching his face, she wrapped her arms around him.

Stiles didn’t know what to do about this new development. He gingerly patted her on the back, glancing at his dad. The sheriff only shrugged.

Talia appeared next in a brisk walk, wrapping a silky robe around herself with her husband and Laura on her heels. Her face broke into a grin that somehow made her look years younger. Excitement lit up Laura’s eyes and Frederick beamed at him.

“Stiles, you’re awake!” Erica had finally released him and she jerked him up so he was standing, then took her turn wrapping him in a hug. “We were starting to worry.”

“Yes, we were all very worried,” Talia said. Laura stepped aside without needing to be told. Talia stepped into Stiles’ space. “I’m so glad you’re here with us.” She let her pretty face morph into a smiling one and put a hand on his cheek. He jumped, but the skin on his felt surprisingly good.

He began to see why the others looked at Talia as a mother figure. When she looked at you with warmth in her eyes and grin on her face, doing a soft and intimate gesture, it was hard to remember what this place was for, and who Talia was.

“I have to get Lydia,” Erica breathed, still breathless. She darted down the hallway, quick as lightning.

“And Derek,” Laura said. She ran as well, rounding the opposite corner Erica had.

Lydia appeared first, her hair in a messy bun. She was looking at Stiles as if he were Disney World and she was a six year old.

She also hugged him. This was beginning to feel like the Twilight Zone.

When she pulled back, he noticed all the little things he’d missed. Her eyes were smudged with purple underneath and she was looking paler than usual. Her lips were cracked, as if she’d been biting them until they bled and scarred over.

Then Derek came jogging after Laura and stopped at the end of the hallway. Stiles felt all his breath leave him.

He was hit by a flashback. Vividly, he saw a hand, warm and living, come to rest on his stomach. Derek’s perfect face had healed over. He briefly regained consciousness to look down at his legs, which were fine.

He had been staring into Derek’s eyes.

Suddenly the vision broke, because Derek was approaching him the way he would a wild, skittish rabbit. “Stiles,” he said.

Stiles’ heart broke at the way Derek’s voice cracked when he said his name. When they crashed together, pulled to each other in a violent way, a weight lifted from Stiles’ shoulders.

Derek didn’t avoid Stiles’ skin, because now they knew which one of Deaton’s theories were right. Derek rubbed his rough cheek on Stiles, everywhere from the hollow of his throat up to his cheek. A hand buried into his hair and Stiles melted against him at the way it felt.

I think I have a hair pulling kink, Stiles thought absently.

Stiles was also taking advantage of all the skin in front of him that he could touch, ripping off his gloves and running his hands up and down Derek’s bare arms, then all over his face. He pulled him closer so there was almost just one, one person, instead of two.

Stiles moved his head in just a way that had his lips brush against Derek, and the spell was broken.

Derek placed his hands on Stiles’ shoulders and put him at arm's length. Stiles made a sound of protest. He wanted Derek to surround him.

“Stiles,” Lydia said, swiping at her cheek. She had started crying. “We didn’t know if you would wake up.”

He furrowed his brow and looked at all the faces in front of him, before setting his eyes on his dad. “How long was I out?” he breathed. His voice broke over the words, his throat sore from not being used.

“Tomorrow would’ve been a week,” his dad informed him, a sorrowful expression painted across his face.

“But I’m- I mean- look-” Stiles sputtered, trying to find the words that alluded him. “I’m alive!” he finally exclaimed. “I’m fine! I’m better than fine, I feel great.”

“I don’t know how much you remember,” Talia said. “But Derek risked contact to save you. You can touch each other.” She shook her head. “You would’ve died if Derek hadn’t chosen to risk his life.”

Derek was looking embarrassed about being called out, and Laura hauled back and punched him in the arm. “You could’ve died too,” she growled.

His lips thinned and he avoided everyone’s gaze.

Lydia handed Stiles his discarded gloves, which he tugged on only so he could hug his dad again and wrap an arm around Lydia’s frail shoulders.

“It’s early, but…” Talia glanced at the others. Her expression was warm and loving, and reminded Stiles of his mother’s. “Let’s get everyone up. An early breakfast.”

Grins and laughter traveled through their small group, and then the girls were running to get the others and Laura went to fetch her husband and Peter. Talia started to knock on the boy’s door.

Derek stood there, looking like he’d rather be anywhere else. He was eyeing the hallway like he was about to make a break for it, but the sheriff stopped him, stepping into his path.

“You saved my son,” his dad said in a broken voice, the kind of voice you could tell had been through rough sobs. “I have no idea how I could possibly repay you.”

Derek looked around, anywhere but at Stiles’ father. Stiles silently chuckled to himself. “You don’t have to repay me,” Derek finally said.

Stiles’ dad put a firm hand on his shoulder. Derek eyed it like it was a venomous snake, but his dad didn’t care. “Thank you, son.” The sheriff sniffled, and then pretended like he hadn’t.

There was a tense moment of silence, and then all Hell broke loose.

Metaphorically. All the girls in the house rounded the corner, the boys finally burst through their doorway with Talia ushering them out, and Laura was leading the last of the adults into the hallway. Everything very quickly descended into chaos.

For some reason, everyone wanted to hug him or give him a very manly shoulder check. Stiles stood there, clutching his dad’s arm, not quite sure what to do with all this sudden affection.

“Hi!” said a pretty asian girl, shorter than Stiles and completely unrecognizable. He wondered for a moment if he had lost his mind.

“I’m Kira,” she said. “I’m sort of new.”

“Oh yeah, Lydia and Malia were fighting over who had to give up their room. Who won?”

She sighed. “Malia, technically, but Lydia has a lot of visions and there’s a lot of screaming. I’m testing the waters with Malia, seeing if it would be that bad to room with her.”

Before Stiles could reply, she was shuffled out of the way by Cora, who wasn’t doing her usual scowl and actually looked pretty pleased to see him.

When Laura came through for her third hug, he spoke up, loudly to be heard. “Okay, not that I’m not flattered at all the love, but most of you hate me.”

Surprisingly, it was Peter who answered. “We were afraid of you, but now it's different. You saved Derek's life. And then Lydia lectured us on what a good person you are.”

Stiles nodded. “Okay, that makes sense, but I-” He was going to explain that he hadn’t saved Derek, but caught his eye through the crowd. Derek minutely shook his head, such a tiny gesture that no one would see if they weren’t looking him dead in the face.

“But you…?” Laura prompted.

He ducked his head and smiled at the floor. He looked up and knew the reason they had warmed to him was a lie, but it felt so… freeing. And good. “I’m just overwhelmed,” he said. Stiles looked back up, tears clouding his vision. “I’m just happy, I guess.”

And it was true. The warmth in their eyes and the glint of teeth, visible from their smiles, made him happy. His father standing at his side, Lydia taking up the other. The only thing that brought him down to the ground was Derek hovering on the edges, pointedly avoiding Stiles’ eyes, and the question that bugged him.

Why had Derek lied?