You might as well use the front door this time, Stiles texts him late in the afternoon.When he gets there, the former Sheriff of Beacon Hills answers his knock.
“Just so we’re clear, I’m not remotely okay with this. You’re here because, out of all the ways he could be inventing trouble right now, you’re easiest to monitor.”
Derek nods. He’s sure there’ll be more.
There is. “Good. Here are the rules: When you’re together, it’s under my roof. I’m not stupid enough to think I can keep you out of the house when I’m not here, and the damage he can do here is minimal. If his grades slip, you’re gone. If he breaks any more laws, you’re gone. Understood?”
“Yes, sir,” he says, fighting not to be surreally amused.
Stilinksi reads his expression, and then nods sharply. His shoulders relax as he turns and heads for the kitchen. “I’m grabbing some eggs for dinner before I head out. Join me.”
It’s not a request, but it’s not hostile, either. Derek follows as much for entertainment value as anything else. Stilinski already has the pan heating and the carton out on the counter. He looks ridiculously domestic in jeans, spatula in hand.
“Scrambled okay?” He waits for Derek’s nod before turning back to the stove. “Oh, and did you kill Kate Argent?”
Derek feels himself freeze. The absolute lack of his breathing is obvious, even over the sizzle of the eggs. There’s no way Stilinski doesn’t notice it. “No.”
Stilinski nods and stirs the pan. “But you knew she arranged that fire, didn’t you?”
“I don’t have a badge anymore, and not many friends left at the department.” He turns to stare straight at Derek’s face. “So if anything happens to my son because of you, you won’t be going to jail.”
It’s the plainest, most sincere threat anyone’s ever made against him. Derek could have this man dead before he hit the floor. His lips twitch involuntarily.
“Something funny?” Stilinski asks calmly.
“You just reminded me of him,” Derek says, and oddly enough, it’s a compliment.
Stilinski sits back and watches him. Derek lets himself be watched.
“Okay,” Stilinski says finally, and reaches for dishes.
When they’re done with the most silently uncomfortable meal Derek’s ever had – and that is a strangely long list – Stilinski leaves a covered plate of leftovers in the fridge before he heads out. It’s a telling gesture, as is the way he frowns and flicks his eyes to the staircase as he’s smoothing the plastic wrap in place.
Derek waits a few minutes after he’s gone to find Stiles in his room. He’s flat on his back on the bed, arms at his sides and eyes on the ceiling.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he says without moving.
“Great,” Derek says, and ignores the white knuckles of Stiles’ hands.
Stilinski’s car is gone the next evening. Derek is just as glad to avoid the awkward parental interaction, although the food had been good. He skips the door altogether and heads for Stiles’ open bedroom window. He’d make a point about that, but honestly, if the hunters made it as far as the roof, a pane of glass wouldn’t do much anyway.Stiles waves when he climbs over the sill, but doesn’t look away from the computer screen he’s glaring at.
Derek glances at it. “I thought Lydia’d finished translating the bestiary.”
Stiles nods, still frowning at the text. “Yep. And now it’s my pain in the ass to deal with. This would be so much easier if they’d just rhymed everything. You know, like, ‘Leprechauns ain’t funny, they’ll kill you for their money,’ or something.”
“You’re… memorizing it? All of it?”
“That’s the idea. It’s slow going, but I figure it’ll be worth it, if only so that when the next big bad shows up I can scream out the right name as it eats me.”
The bed looks like the best option for working space, so Derek spreads the hunters map and notes out and settles in to look for patterns. There might be something about the way the tagalongs and the do-si-dos are never in the same part of town at the same time. Maybe they’re particularly hostile with one another.
He’s trying to put his finger on why that doesn’t quite feel right when he senses eyes on him. Stiles is all the way turned around in his chair, staring like he’s been doing it for a while, and his expression is somewhere between manic and hopeful. Derek braces himself.
“Okay, here’s the thing. I’ve been thinking about the whole feedback loop of doom problem, and I’ve got a plan.”
“Does it involve Kumbaya?” Derek asks with healthy skepticism.
“See, that! That right there!” His flail takes in most of Derek. “There are these moments where I kind of almost like you, and I can’t like you because you’re an evil dick. So it’s either get you to stop having those moments or get you to stop being an evil dick, and while the first one is probably easier, the second one is probably better in the long run.”
He spreads his arms wide like a ringmaster. “Consider this your Evil Dick Intervention.”
This is the problem with Stiles. Violent threats only work about 10% of the time with him and Derek never quite knows what to say the other 90%. Silence only serves as encouragement.
Case in point: “You need a hobby,” Stiles says.
Derek’s left eye twitches without warning. Stiles sees it and nods.
“Yeah, hear me out. Every time things go to shit in this town, I almost die. In the interests of not dying, it would help a lot if everyone would just chill the hell out, right?” His wide eyes are full of anticipation.
Derek’s going to regret letting this play out, he knows he is, but it’s like watching a train crash in slow motion. Stiles keeps going regardless.
“The way I see it, it’s not entirely your fault that you’re kind of destructive and terrifying.” He waves off Derek’s glare. “You’ve got a boatload of issues, I get that, and it’d go better for pretty much everyone if you had some healthy channels to express yourself. You get less cranky, the pack gets less cranky, maybe the hunters get less cranky, maybe we all live to see 30.”
“There are diagram of this somewhere, aren’t there?” Derek asks out of sick fascination.
“Excel is my bitch,” he agrees. “So what we’re going to do is wean you off bloodshed. Like cigarettes.”
“I don’t smoke.” He carries a lighter because it’s practical, not because he has any desire to smell like ashes.
“And that’s both surprising, given your otherwise obsessive adoption of the Traditional Badass Code, and commendable. Your body is a temple.” His eyes do a weird skip over Derek then, too quick to parse. “But I was going more symbolic, there, actually. They don’t make patches for violence withdrawal, so you need another substitute.”
Derek follows the thread back to the beginning. “A hobby.”
“A hobby.” Stiles nods. “Like… macrame, or motorcycle racing, or Monopoly. And those are just the Ms! There is a whole alphabet of fun, non-homicidal activities out there just waiting for you!”
“I’ll get right on that.”
“What, you don’t have time in your busy schedule between ‘copious bleeding’ and ‘perfecting werewolf Blue Steel’?” He takes in Derek’s expression and sighs. “All I’m saying is, this could help. What could it hurt, right?”
When Derek’s face doesn’t change, Stiles sighs again and swivels the chair back around. “Option B: Continue Being an Evil Dick it is, then. Don’t think this is over, though.”
His attention goes back to the bestiary, and his shoulders hunch in as he squints at something. After a while, he clearly forgets Derek’s there and starts mumbling around a pencil about the horrors of Latin declensions. Eventually even that trails off.
“Music,” Derek says into the silence, not entirely sure why.
Stiles hums distracted agreement. “Yeah, I can put something on. Requests?”
“Music is a hobby.”
Another hum, cut short as he whips his head around with a surprised grin. “Yes! Yes, it is. You didn’t have to stick with the Ms, but hey. Progress. You want to start with concert tickets?”
“No,” Derek grits out. “Music is what we did.”
Stile waves encouragement and his grin widens. “Like, in your garage? Because that would explain a lot about the leather jackets, honestly…” He trails off, gazing somewhere into the distance.
“Like at school. My parents signed us up in first grade.”
Stiles blinks once, long and slow. “You… were in the band. The school band. Where there are band geeks – oh my god you were a band geek, weren’t you?”
Derek doesn’t have to take this. “It was an orchestra. Music is good for discipline. We played sports, too, when we got old enough to fake it.”
Stiles is not deterred. “Let me guess, you were a drum guy.” His face does something unholy. “Or, no. Flugelhorn. Tell me you picked the flugelhorn.”
Despite himself, Derek snorts. “The intent wasn’t to encourage hitting things. Or to scar us for life.”
Stiles’ grin mellows but sticks around. “So, what was it? What instrument soothed the savage beast?”
And Derek opens his mouth to say it, and finds gravel in his throat where the word should be. It must show on his face, because Stiles’ expression has sobered by the time Derek finally forces it out. “Violin.”
He’s still expecting a joke, something about how delicate he isn’t, maybe, but Stiles just sits back. “Huh,” he says eventually, and when Derek checks, he’s looking at Derek’s hands.
Stiles has the rare ability to make Derek uncomfortable with silence.
“Laura played the cello. When we needed the money and we didn’t think the hunters were close, we’d play for tips.”
“Bet New York was good for that.” It’s not mocking, just conversational.
He doesn’t know how to explain that New York was just the last stop on the road, that the Hale on his driver’s license had been an act of defiance. “No,” he says in the end. “It wasn’t safe for us to stay in the same place with each other for very long.”
It’s cold comfort to know that he’d been right, that they should have stayed together and on the move. Looking back, that was the first battle he should have fought harder.
Stiles tilts his head. “She took it seriously, looking out for you.” His voice is thoughtful.
Derek hears the criticism in it anyway. “Maybe if she hadn’t she’d still be alive.”
He stares at the floor until Stiles goes back to his reading.
Now that he’s aware he should be looking, the traps in town are easier to spot. The parking garage basement on the east side suddenly has a working surveillance camera system where there used to be dummies in place; the old rec center, abandoned since the new one opened, has tripwires on the doors; three low-traffic warehouses on the south edge of town are seeing a lot more action, judging by the footprints in the dust. The hunters are smart enough to cover their scent, but there’s not much they can do about dirt.He makes notes on the back of Stiles’ map, adds the betas’ observations when he meets with them, Scott’s when he calls to check in. He’s trying to limit contact between all of them as much as possible for now. There’s no sense advertising anything, not with this kind of scrutiny. If any of the hunters haven’t got the memo identifying Erica, Isaac, Boyd, or Scott, he’s not going to make it any easier.
It leaves him with more free time in the average day than he honestly knows what to do with. He trains, he makes plans that he can’t put into play without provoking an attack, he buys a few books on tactical strategy… When he finds himself making an attempt to straighten up the train car, it’s clear a change of scenery can’t hurt.
The empty Stilinski house is tempting from his cramped seat in the Camaro. He makes it through another hour with Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach propped on the steering wheel before he gives in. The house is still ridiculously easy to break into, and there’s a perfect reading chair in the living room.
Stiles doesn’t even blink when he eventually walks in after practice. He drops his backpack at the doorway and trudges straight past Derek with a grunt.
“Lydia thinks this plan is hilarious. She keeps waiting until we’re surrounded by large crowds of people to ask targeted questions about our sex life. Which, if anyone asks, is non-existent because I am waiting for marriage.” He keels over onto the couch in a dramatic flop. “Fuck.”
Derek feels for him. Really. “Poor baby.”
Stiles lifts his head from the pillow. “I am Lydia Martin’s sassy bi BFF. How is this my life?” He drops back down. “Again, fuck.”
“I thought you liked spending time with her?” Derek tries for innocent, but he doesn’t try all that hard.
“It is because of you that I am never going to get laid in this lifetime, so you can just stop with the judgments, okay?”
Derek rolls his eyes. “We get clear of the hunters, have a public break-up, and someone takes pity on you in the aftermath. Lydia will get distracted eventually.”
Stiles groans. “Have you met Lydia?” Then he cocks his head. “Wait, have you met Lydia? I mean, aside from the odd homicidal quest here and there, have you ever been formally introduced?”
Derek opens his mouth to answer, but Stiles cuts him off. “Jesus, what am I saying? That’s like offering to hook up gunpowder and gasoline; there would be no survivors.” He shudders.
Derek wonders, idly, which one he is.
“Hell of a lightshow, though,” he says, just to watch Stiles’ wheels spin.
He waits until Stiles gets up to head for the kitchen and then stretches out on the couch. Stiles grumbles satisfyingly when he comes back, but relocates to the chair without staging a real protest.
Small Unit Leadership is amazingly dry. The third time Derek reads the same page without catching any of it, he has to admit it’s not working. He’s got a choice of leaving his stolen spot unguarded to wake himself up with movement, or to rest his eyes for a while.
It’s tempting. The evening light is honey-colored through the curtains, and the house is comfortably warm. He’ll hear if there’s trouble; the last time he slept deeply enough to be a problem, Laura had been in the next room.
He lays the book on the coffee table and closes his eyes.
He wakes up with the smell of smoke in his head. It’s been a while since he had that one. He listens around the house, just to be sure, but there’s nothing out of place.
He hadn’t known what his home smelled like after the fire until he came back to town, but he’d been coming pretty close while asleep for years. From experience, he knows his best method it to replace all of it with the sensory input of whatever place he’s in. Scent is the hardest to convince, so he leaves it for last.
He’d curled into himself while he slept, but one of his hands is pressed against the cushion by his head. It’s easier, with the couch under him being leather. Leather is irregular and imperfect, real in a way cotton never is. He lets his fingertips explore the soothing unpredictability of it.
Stiles’ breathing is slow, deep ins and outs through his mouth. It’s the clearest sound in the room, and Derek tilts his head on the pillow to look at him. He’s asleep. His face is tucked into the back of the chair, and his throat is one long, exposed line in the low light through the windows. He’s sprawled gracelessly, shoulders loose and one hand dangling over the edge of the seat, the other on his belly. His fingers jerk, not content to be still. He shouldn’t look comfortable, but somehow he does.
Derek lies there for a while longer, letting leather and house dust and the sleep-warm scent of another body crowd out the smoke, and then he heads for the kitchen to find dinner.
He’s quiet about it, though. There’s no reason not to let Stiles be.
It’s not all the time. Stiles stays over at Scott’s occasionally, and his father only works half the week. There’s no reason to be on watch those nights.Stiles’ dad seems to be thawing a little on Derek, although why remains a mystery. The last few nights he’s even seemed almost relieved to have him there, which is both new and confusing.
This time, he waves Derek in on his own way out the door, and Derek watches him stand in the driveway for a long moment before leaving. Derek shrugs off the disquiet and heads upstairs, tracking Stiles by the light and sound spilling out of his open bedroom door.
He finds him sitting cross-legged on the floor with papers and textbooks radiating out in all directions. He’s sucking on his lower lip in concentration and one index finger is absently keeping time with the music coming from his computer. It’s a classical piece, intimately familiar despite Derek not having heard it in years. Massanet’s Mediation, although he’s never caught anyone else so inclined to break the rule of down-bow on it.
Derek sucks in a breath as he realizes why.
Stiles’ head snaps up, and his mouth falls open like he wasn’t expecting him yet. “I found some recordings in the band library at school,” he says faintly, after a moment.
Derek’s vaguely aware of the way Stiles’ eyes follow him across the room, of the tension that sparks through Stiles like a live wire, but he’s more aware of the music. The recording quality isn’t perfect, but his breath falls in line with the phrasing all the same.
“You were good,” Stiles says, surprised and quiet with it.
Derek listens, and refuses to feel the slip of strings under his fingertips. In a little town in Iowa there’s a safety deposit box under a name that isn’t Hale. His violin is tucked in the back; for a while, he thought he’d go back for it, but he knows better now.
The piece ends, and there’s the applause of a small-town audience. The memory of who would have been in the crowd that night makes him close his eyes and try to pick the sound of them out of the rest.
They’d had band practice after school on Thursdays, him and Laura. He’s never been sure whether Kate knew that or not when she picked her moment.
It’s the last track on the recording. Something current with a low, soft voice comes on after, and the vice around Derek’s chest eases a little. “I’ll burn you a copy,” Stiles says, and then flinches at his own word choice.
Derek nods, not trusting his speech yet. Eventually, he crouches over the papers spread on the floor in search of something to break the awkwardness. Most of it looks like homework, but next to a Spanish textbook there’s an open folder with a mugshot paperclipped to the cover.
“One of the hunters has a record?” It’s rare; the ones that are both sloppy enough to get caught and unconnected enough to have charges stick don’t stay in the business long. This could be good news.
Stiles hums distractedly, but his focus sharpens as soon as he spots what Derek’s looking at. His quick slap to shut the file isn’t subtle. “No. No, that’s… something else.”
The evasion is infuriating, all the more so for how raw his nerves are at the moment. “You’re the one who wanted us all on the same page. If there’s more going on here…”
“It’s not… It doesn’t have anything to do with wolf stuff, okay?” He looks at the folder, and then up at Derek. It’s another long, held minute before he seems to come to a decision. “It’s one of my dad’s old cases.”
Derek cocks his head and lets his expression ask for more.
“One of the other deputies when Dad first started here, Sullivan… He was into some really dirty stuff, had a lot of debts to bad people, and Dad brought him up on charges. He’s out on parole. No big, right, but there was this whole thing where he made some threats against Dad way back, and we had a cruiser on watch for a couple weeks. It was a mess. My mom,” and that specific catch in his voice is starting to be familiar, “she freaked out once when I went over to Scott’s without telling her. Drove me everywhere for a month.”
Derek glances away from his face. “You think he’s coming back?”
“Dad thinks so. He kept a copy of Sullivan’s file – which, hey, you’re really not supposed to do – and I found it on his desk yesterday. Put together the rest on my own.”
It’s none of his business, but Derek reaches for the file anyway. Stiles doesn’t fight him over it. Sullivan is a nasty piece of work; it shouldn’t still surprise him how vicious even normal people can be.
“He didn’t tell me.” Stiles keeps his eyes on the floor. “I mean, he might not have told me before, but now… Now I wonder if it’s more like he’s trying to keep the delinquent kid that got him fired out of the way, you know?”
It’s not impossible. Derek’s not a fan of empty white lies. “He cares about you,” he says instead, because that much is just fact.
Stiles doesn’t look any less miserable. “It might be easier if he didn’t,” he says quietly.
Derek doesn’t have anything to say to that. He realizes his hand is going unconsciously for Stiles’ shoulder and checks the movement in surprise. His arm hovers there awkwardly, wavering between following through and backing down.
After a beat, though, Stiles visibly shakes off his mood. He squares his shoulders, and his face settles into determined lines. “Okay, screw this. To the kitchen,” he commands, standing up.
Derek follows him downstairs out of sheer confusion.
Stiles flips the kitchen light on and heads forward like a man on a mission. “There will be cookies. Kind of like ‘There Will Be Blood,’ but with more chocolate chips and less terrifying milkshake analogies.” He’s talking to the inside of the fridge. “Seriously, I couldn’t order a chocolate malt for months. It was awful.”
Derek laughs under his breath and sets the oven to preheat automatically. When he turns around, Stiles is watching him like he’s done a neat trick.
“I grew up in a house, you know,” he says tightly.
Stiles’ expression shifts into something harder to identify. “Yeah. I’m starting to get that.”
For a long moment neither of them moves. Stiles shakes it off first and goes for a cookie sheet. He slaps spoonfuls of dough onto it with enthusiasm, popping the utensil in his mouth as he heads for the oven.
“You’ll get Salmonella,” Derek warns.
“Honestly, you think any of us are going to get knocked off by something that mundane?” He holds out the spoon. “Live dangerously.”
Derek rolls his eyes and takes it. It’s childish, but he will not be beaten by a lump of dough. Stiles grins like he can read him loud and clear. Derek would like to say something about having eaten far worse things raw, but that’s just inviting a joke that will require retaliation of the physical kind and he doesn’t feel like following through.
He licks the spoon clean just to be annoying and lays it deliberately on the counter. Stiles turns away quickly to check the oven. For a second there’s a hint of something different in the air, but its lost under the smell of the cookies the second Stiles opens the oven door.
It hits Derek then, mouth full of melting chocolate and sugar, how much he enjoys this. He goes still as it also registers that it’s the very first time he’s ever thought of Stiles as a threat.
When the hunters go after Scott on a Friday night, it’s almost a relief.Stiles’ Biology homework has somehow segued into a discussion of the finer mechanics of werewolf transformation, and Stiles has somehow convinced Derek to shift his fangs repeatedly in the name of science. His jaw is just starting to ache with it when Stiles’ text alert chimes. Stiles takes one look at it and freezes, and Derek goes on alert. “What happened?”
He shoves the phone at Derek wordlessly and scrambles for his keys.
at swings w A. GI joes here.
Derek’s moving for the door when Stiles makes a confused sound. “What are you doing?”
There’s really no point in denying it. “Helping.”
“No, you’re not.” He shrugs into a jacket. “Look, buzzcuts, camo? Sounds more like tagalongs than our nutty nighttime audience. We can’t cross the streams, dude. I’ve got a legit reason to be hanging out with Scott that doesn’t involve him secretly having fangs; you don’t. If they don’t know yet, I’m not giving them a hint.”
As usual, he’s irritatingly right. “Fine. Call if there’s trouble.”
“You’ll hear me screaming like a rabid hyena,” Stiles vows, and then he’s out the door.
The house is conspicuously quiet.
He’s planning to wait on the couch with a book, only he can’t settle. He changes titles three times, gets up to grab a drink from the kitchen, then goes back for a snack. The crawling, uneasy shiver under his skin doesn’t let up. It’s about the time that he realizes he’s pacing the house like a caged animal that he decides to go for a drive instead. The usual pickup is even helpfully gone from its spot in front of the house.
He makes it as far as the Camaro before the shiver turns into a twist in his gut and he knows it’s more than just nerves. Scott’s in real trouble. If they’re lucky, Stiles isn’t yet.
Any hope he’s got for that dies the second he gets close enough to the elementary school to see Stiles’ Jeep in the lot and a familiar pickup blocking it in. There’s nobody in either vehicle, or within eyesight. He parks far enough away and with enough cover that he’ll have a shot at the element of surprise.
He’s barely out of the car, though, when Erica melts out of the shadows behind him.
“You felt it?” he asks, and she nods. She looks nervous, but under control; the last few months have been good for that, at least.
“Boyd and Isaac are doing recon,” she says. On cue, they slip around the school building and head straight for Derek. Both of their faces are grim.
Boyd doesn’t hesitate. “They’re holed up in one of the kindergarten rooms. At least ten of them, mix of the pickup guys and the army types. They’re armed to the teeth and they definitely know Scott’s one of us. Doesn’t look like anybody’s hurt yet, but they’ve got him chained up way better than Allison or Stiles.”
Shit. “Any idea what they’re waiting for?”
Isaac nods. “Reinforcements, and us.”
It makes a twisted kind of sense. Neither group has the numbers to go after an alpha or the full pack on their own terms, but together… It’s a big enough prize to get over their rivalry, apparently.
The how of it doesn’t matter much at the moment. They’re fucked if he doesn’t figure something out before the rest of the hunters join the party. The only plan that’s coming to mind is to go in now, hard. He knows Erica and Isaac and Boyd will follow him; he also knows the chances that all of them will make it back out are low. The chances that any of the three currently tied up and defenseless will are worse.
The sound of an approaching engine gives him the sinking realization that they’re out of time, right up until he recognizes it. Nothing the hunters drive could mimic a Porsche.
Jackson and Lydia get out of the front, faces set in tandem resolve. Danny unfolds out of the back. “It was my night on radio watch,” he says wryly.
And just like that they have a chance.
Between Isaac’s kanima-venom blowgun and the direct application of Jackson’s claws, most of the hunters go down without a fight. It helps that they’re scattered throughout the school on patrol, and that they’re almost as wary of each other as they are of the pack. That last part gives Derek an idea.There’s one tense moment when it’s down to the last three of them in the room with their hostages, but Lydia’s improvised version of a flash-bang grenade turns out to be extremely effective as a distraction.
Stiles and Allison are both out of their handcuffs before the last hunter has hit the primary-colored carpet squares, apparently having been waiting for their chance. Scott remains shackled in a chair proportioned for a five year old while Allison picks his locks, too.
The others start piling paralyzed hunters in the middle of the room, buzzcuts on the left and the rest on the right. Erica comes in with rolls of scavenged duct tape and they get to work propping tied-up and gagged hunters in convincingly hostage-like poses.
Stiles rubs his wrists. “I’m guessing this is not about taking up a career in performance art.”
Derek snorts. “We need to hurry.”
His team knows exactly what they’re doing, and it only takes a few minutes to finish. Stiles visibly takes it all in - the fact that there are three hunters in camo left untied with unloaded guns, the fact that all of the “hostages” have longer hair - and lights up with understanding
“Oh. Oh, I see what you did there.” He rubs his hands together gleefully. “The classic double cross maneuver.”
Derek’s phone vibrates with the signal from Danny. “Time to go.”
They’re all congregated back at the cars by the time the hunters’ reinforcements arrive at the school. It’s recognizable from the satisfyingly enraged shouting and scattered shots.
“That’s not going to keep them occupied for long,” Allison says, sounding worried.
Derek lets himself smirk. “Wait for it.”
He knows the second Stiles hears the sirens. His open mouth, ready to launch his own questions, wavers uncertainly and then curves into a slow, wicked grin.
Next to him, Scott cocks his head. “You called the cops?” he asks in shock.
Derek shrugs. “Someone told me this is their turf.”
Stiles starts laughing, quietly at first and then so hard his shoulders shake. “Oh, that’s… that is beautiful.” He bounces on his toes, and Derek has all of a half second to brace for it when he flings himself into his space. It’s a quick, there-and-gone hug, and then Stiles is ricocheting off to sweep Scott up next. “I love everything right now.”
Allison meets Derek’s gaze from Scott’s other side. She smiles tentatively, but there’s something thoughtful in her eyes. Derek’s not up for deciphering it tonight. “Keep you heads down for now,” he tells the lot of them, just in case. He gets smirks from Erica and Lydia, half of a salute from Isaac, and a raised eyebrow from the barely-re-clothed Jackson. At least Boyd nods seriously.
Derek snags a hand in the back of Stiles’ shirt and tugs him toward the Camaro. “I’ll drop you off at home.”
Stiles whines, “But the Jeep…”
Derek doesn’t bother to stop towing him along. “Is parked in and currently surrounded by cops.”
“I’m going to wind up explaining this to my dad, aren’t I?” He sounds resigned more than surprised.
“Yep,” Derek says, and shoves him lightly at the passenger door.
He follows Stiles into the house mostly out of habit. He doubts there’ll be more trouble tonight, in any case.Stiles heads straight for the dining room and the radio there. He flips it on and they listen to the police channels for a while in the low light coming from the single lamp. If the reports flying back and forth are right, there’s a good chance most of the hunters in town are in custody.
They’re both still keyed-up with unspent tension. It works its way out of Stiles in random motions - a leg bouncing under the table, a hand tapping out syncopations against his thigh. He goes to the fridge three times without taking anything out, and finally plunks a glass of juice down in front of Derek absently.
Derek sips at it for lack of anything better to do and watches him with a touch of amusement. “I’d tell you to have a drink, but your dad’s still a decent shot.”
Stiles snickers. “Like you wouldn’t heal. You’re just scared he’ll give you the disappointed eyes when you come over.”
Except if the hunters are out of the way, Derek doesn’t need to be here. He goes still as the thought settles in.
Stiles gets it, then, too. “Huh. I guess this concludes our regularly scheduled programming.” He shuffles awkwardly in place. “Yay?”
And that’s it. Derek should go now. There’s an uncomfortable, unfinished feel to it, though, and for once he knows why. They aren’t even yet. He stalls for time, rubbing over the rim of the glass in thought. A drop of juice collects on his thumb and he absently licks it off.
Stiles’ breath catches, and when Derek looks up his eyes are locked on Derek’s mouth. There’s a warm, salty-sweet hint in the air around him, strong enough that Derek can finally place it. It’s the third time he’s caught that from Stiles, and this time he’s sure. It’s about Derek, for Derek.
It’s an answer to the question at the front of his mind, this honey-on-rock-salt trace that could finally settle their score. He ducks his head and allows a smile, relieved to have an easy solution for a change.
He watches Stiles from under his lashes as he stands and stalks around the table, slipping into character, advance as deliberate and smooth as he can make it. Stiles frowns in confusion and takes a step back for every one Derek takes forward.
“I’ll admit, not the kind of favor I thought you’d go after, but I can work with it.”
“Wha- Hey, no, what are you –“ Stiles keeps backing away from him but his eyes track Derek’s mouth and he licks his own lips.
Derek walks him right into the wall and then some, until there’s an inch between their eyes and less between the rest of them.
“I thought.” Stiles swallows with a dry click. “I thought we agreed you’d stop with the big bad wolf routine.”
“Oh,” Derek says, “but I can be very good.”
Even in this light, he can see Stiles’ pupils blow wider. Derek fits his hands to Stiles’ hips and nudges a knee between his legs in reward. Stiles’ head drops back with a soft whine.
And this, this is not the worst thing Derek’s done. Not even the worst he’s done lately. It’s not a hardship to give Stiles this. He rests his nose in the hollow behind Stiles’ ear and takes a hit of the bar soap and clean sweat and faint grass smell of him, still there under the electric rush of sex.
“My, what big eyes you have,” he whispers against skin.
“Wait, wait.” The roll of his hips into Derek’s says the opposite. His breath hitches when Derek’s thumb slips under his shirt. “Favor?”
Derek traces a knuckle down the trail on Stiles’ belly and gets a low moan for it. He hides his satisfied grin in one collarbone’s hollow. “You don’t think my mouth can cover my debts?”
He’s focused enough on the flush he can taste scattering ever lower that it takes a moment to realize the muscles under his hands have gone rigid.
“No,” Stiles says. Breathes in, and then stronger, “No. Stop.”
When Derek pulls back, there’s no give in Stiles’ expression.
“Whatever it is you think this is supposed to be, whatever it is you think I want, it’s not this. Back off, ” he says, and Derek steps away from him.
Stiles wants, Derek can still feel it coming off him like a hook set between his own ribs, but he’s also not lying. He doesn’t want Derek. Every line of his body is screaming not to be touched.
Derek’s worked hard to be the monster under the bed ever since he realized all the other roles were full, but it never seemed to take with Stiles. That maybe he got there in the end after all hits him like a bucket of cold water now.
Derek backs across to the door slowly and Stiles watches him from against the wall the whole way.
“Find me when you figure out what it is you’d rather have,” Derek says finally as he eases outside.
He listens until he’s out of range, but Stiles never says a word.
They’d planned it out right at the very beginning, how this whole act would end. It needs to be in public, with plenty of witnesses, and the more final, the better.It’s easy enough to keep his end of the deal. Derek shows up in the school parking lot over lunch hour, and Stiles picks up his cues flawlessly. Stiles’ father’s disapproval, their different lives, and Derek’s emotional unavailability all make loud cameos. It’s a little Hollywood, but not bad considering neither of them has ever had a normal breakup to their name.
The only hitch comes when someone in their audience makes a crack about Stiles not putting out just loud enough to be heard. The color drains from Stiles’ face, and Derek stumbles off rhythm.
“I don’t want anything from you,” Stiles says in the end.
Derek isn’t naïve enough to believe that. He’s not sure if it would even be better if he could.
Go back to Part I or go on to Part III.