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A Taste of the Steering Wheel

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“Stiles! Stiles!” Scott screamed from the passenger seat. “Brake!”

“I’m trying!” Stiles yelled back, panic in his voice.

The jeep slid down the icy driveway and came to an abrupt stop with a loud crack. Stiles face stung from hitting the steering wheel.

“Oh, shit,” Stiles whispered.

“Oh, shit,” Scott agreed.

“Shit, shit shit!” Stiles was getting louder. He unbuckled his seatbelt and hopped outside. The jeep was resting against the Camaro, and while there didn’t appear to be any damage to the jeep, the Camaro's bumper was severely dented and the remains of one of the taillights littered the ground beneath.

“No, no no,” Stiles mumbled to himself. Tears pricked at his eyes, and the cold wind burned his ears and nose. The snow was falling fast enough that the pieces of broken tail light were completely covered. “He already hates me. He’s going to kill me.”

“Stiles, calm down. Breathe,” Scott said, joining him at the front of the jeep. “Hey, you’re bleeding.”

Stiles wiped his hand across his mouth, smearing the blood under his lip. “Derek loves this car, Scott! He’s going to kick me out of the pack!”

“Derek’s going to be fine. But you’re hurt, and we need to take care of you. Let’s get you inside and clean you up.” Scott placed his hand on Stiles’s shoulder.

Stiles let Scott lead him up the front steps and into the house. He didn’t speak and continued to stare off into space.

“Oh my god, Stiles! You wrecked the Camaro!” Erika quipped as they walked in the door. “When Derek gets back from his run, you are so dead.”

Scott shot her a look before turning back to Stiles who was full-on crying at this point.

“Shit, Stiles. I was just kidding.” Erica put a hand on his. “Even if he’s mad, he’ll get over it. It’s going to be okay.”

“You don’t get it!” Stiles yelled. “I’m already on thin ice here. I’m constantly trying to make sure that I’m more useful than I am a liability.” His voice was steadily climbing, and his hands flailing. “Do you know what’s not useful? Destroying his precious car!”

“Stiles, it’s not like that,” Scott attempted.

“Yeah, we’re fam--” Erica was cut off by Derek bursting through the front door.

“Stiles! What the fuck?” Derek was practically shaking as he walked through the living room.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles whispered. “I didn’t mean to.”

“Do you have a deathwish?” he asked. “Why were you even driving?” His eyes flashed red as he looked over Stiles. “You didn’t have to come today!”

Stiles felt something inside him snap. He stood up, wiping the mix of blood and tears from his face. “Fuck you!” He stormed outside, slamming the door behind him. He grabbed his phone from his jacket pocket and pulled up his father’s contact info, but hesitated before dialing. He didn’t want to call his dad to come pick him up so soon after he had started his shift. He moved to the side of the porch and sat down on a bench, pulling his legs up to his chest. He knew the werewolves inside could hear him crying softly, but he didn’t care anymore. He huffed in frustration and pulled his jacket tighter around his body in a vain attempt to keep out the cold.

The front door opened slowly, and Derek stepped outside. He walked over to Stiles and sat down wordlessly.

Stiles watched the snow fall on top of the vehicles. He made a point to completely ignore Derek’s presence. They sat like that for at least half an hour, not speaking to one another.

Derek inhaled and opened his mouth to speak, but Stiles cut him off.

“Don’t worry. I’m leaving. I just need to wait a little bit to call my dad to come get me.” He paused and then quietly added, “Then I don’t have to come back.”

Derek reached out and grabbed Stiles’s wrist. “Stiles.”

He turned and looked up at Derek fully expecting to see him irritated. Stiles was surprised to find that he looked upset, like he was about to have a breakdown.

“I…” Derek trailed off.

Stiles looked at him, confusion evident in his features.

Derek took a deep breath. “I don’t want you to go, Stiles.”

“Look, I know the others will be a little mad, but you’re the alpha. They’ll deal with it.”

Derek frowned, wounded by his words. “Do you… do you really think that’s why you’re here? That I only want you here because you’re friends with Scott?”

“I’m not stupid, Derek. I know that having me here was the only way to get Scott to join your pack.”

“Stiles, I am so sorry. I never meant to do anything that would make you think that. I thought you were sure of your place here.” Derek lowered his head, staring into his lap. “You’ve been thinking that you’re not valuable, and that’s entirely my fault.”

Stiles looked skeptical. “You actually want me in your pack?”

Derek jerked his head up, staring at him incredulously. “I know we bicker and fight, but I’ve always thought you were the first member of my pack. You were the first person I trusted other than Laura since the fire. You were always there for me, and you didn’t even like me.”

“Shit,” Stiles said. “You’re being serious.”

Derek nodded. “There’s not some point system where you have to prove that you belong here. Because you do belong here. You belong with me-- with us. End of story.”

“For the record,” Stiles said softly, “I never disliked you. You were a dick, sure, but I always liked you. I wouldn’t have tolerated the dickishness otherwise.”

“Glad to hear,” Derek said, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips. “And don’t worry about the car. It’s not a big deal.”

Stiles scoffed. “You sure wouldn’t think so from your little temper tantrum.”

Derek cocked an eyebrow. “You are the dumbest smart person I know.”

Stiles rolled his eyes.

“Wait, you actually think I was mad about the car?”

“I distinctly remember you going all alpha-eyed in the living room, so yeah.”

“Stiles, I was in the woods and heard a crash. Then I get here, and I can smell your blood. Of course I freaked out.” Derek shook his head. “The car’s not even totaled. It’s not a big deal. I just thought you were hurt.”

“I’m starting to think that maybe we both overreacted,” Stiles said quietly.

“Probably,” Derek agreed. “But I wouldn’t really expect anything less,” he said with a shrug. “So can we go back inside now? I’m cold, so I know you have to be freezing.”

“One condition.”

“Mmhmm?” Derek asked.

“We tell everyone inside that I kicked your wolfy ass, and that’s why I’m back.”

Derek chuckled. “You know they can hear us, right?”

“Stupid werewolves,” Stiles muttered as he stood up and followed Derek inside.