By the time Stiles pulled into his driveway, his head was buzzing with ideas. He’d spent so long bumbling around in the dark, relying on Wikipedia and badly written Twilight fanfiction for his werewolf information. To suddenly meet someone like Mariana was like a starving man being thrown a feast.
He should turn over the information to Derek. Derek was the Alpha, Derek was the one who should go to the California Assembly. But Stiles couldn’t help thinking about what Derek had said before throwing him out of the Pack meeting.
“You think that makes you in any way valuable? Anyone can sit at a computer and google stuff. We don’t need you.”
If he was going to prove to them that he was useful, he needed to give them something better than information. Something like the creature’s head on a stick.
Stiles slipped his keys into the lock and gave the door the special jiggle that helped it open first time. He chucked his schoolbag into the porch and headed straight for the kitchen.
“Hey dad!” he said, as he passed the dining room.
“Hi Stiles, how was school?”
“Good, good,” Stiles said, rooting around in the back of the cupboard for the Tangfastics he hid there.
“And how was Economics? I heard there’s a test coming up.”
“Oh yeah, the lesson was fascinating.”
The Sheriff stood behind him. Stiles craned his neck up to see his dad towering above him, arms crossed.
“That’s interesting,” the Sheriff said, “given that Finstock says you never showed.”
The bottom of Stiles’ stomach dropped out. Abandoning the Tangfastic pursuit, he scrambled up to his feet.
“That’s entrapment, you can’t do that, I’m totally going to sue you for entrapment of your own son!”
“You lied to me.”
“Technically, I never lied.”
His dad raised one eyebrow.
“I didn’t! I said the lesson was fascinating - and there’s nothing to say that it wasn’t. I just wasn’t there for the fascinating lesson.”
“Care to tell me where you were during this “fascinating” Economics lesson?”
Stiles bit his lip. The Sheriff sighed and sunk into a chair. He rubbed his eyes.
“Why couldn’t you just stay in school?” his dad muttered quietly.
“A young man was murdered today. ME places time of death at around 4pm. Same time as I find out you weren’t in school this afternoon.”
Beacon Hills wasn’t that big a town - the murder had to be linked to the creature he was hunting.
“Awesome! Well, not awesome, obviously, terrible in fact. Grieving family, life cut short, etc.,” said Stiles. He bounced on the balls of his feet. “Any chance you brought the crime scene photos home with you?”
The Sheriff threw his fist out sideways, slamming into the door frame. “Dammit Stiles! This is serious!”
“I know, I’m being serious too. Did you bring home any photos?”
The Sheriff advanced on Stiles, fury still contorting his face. Stiles instinctively stepped back. His dad’s hands reached for Stiles, and for a moment Stiles thought he might actually hit him. The Sheriff held him tightly by the shoulders.
“Just… tell me what you’ve got mixed up in,” the Sheriff begged. His voice was hoarse. His eyes were red round the edges and the bags under his eyes aged him. “Is it drugs? I can deal with drugs, but you have to let me in. Whatever the problem is, I promise I can make it go away.”
“You can’t make this go away Dad.”
“I’m the fucking Sheriff. If I can’t even look after my own son, then what’s the point?”
Stiles stared mutely. He’d never seen his father swear before. The kitchen was silent but for the sound of his dad breathing heavily.
The Sheriff stretched out the hand he had punched the doorway with and grimaced quietly. Stiles opened the freezer and pulled out a bag of frozen peas. He wrapped it in a dishcloth and silently offered it to his dad.
The Sheriff took the peas and pressed them to the swelling. He cradled the hand to his chest.
“Tell me where you were today Stiles.”
“Why? It’s not like I had anything to do with the murder.” The Sheriff said nothing, and Stiles felt sick to his stomach. “That’s what you think, isn’t it? You think I killed him.”
“I don’t think you killed him.”
“Fine, then you think I helped someone else kill him. How could you even think that? You know me!”
“Do I? Sometimes I look at you, and I don’t recognize you anymore. It’s been months, and you still haven’t explained locking Jackson up, or leaving Lydia to bleed out at the Prom, or the dozens of times I’ve been at a crime scene and, surprise surprise, you’ve been there.”
Stiles snarled and shrugged his coat back on.
“Fine,” he said, “If that’s how little you think of me. I’m going out. Don’t wait up, I’ll be busy murdering people all night.”
“Stiles, don’t you dare walk out that door. Stiles!”
Stiles’ dramatic exit was marred somewhat as he nearly tripped on the washing basket. He kicked it out of the way, sending it flying down the hall.
His dad yelled after him, “You are going to be in so much trouble when you get back. You’ll be grounded so long your grandchildren will be working off your sentence.”
After that got no response, he continued, “Grounded means no phone, no laptop, no Scott.”
That was the thing that finally got Stiles to pause. No Scott. As if Scott had been by the house once since summer break. Stiles turned slowly on his heel.
“If you can’t see what’s wrong with that sentence, then maybe you’re right. You don’t know me anymore.”
Stiles needed to get drunk. Fast. His dad didn’t trust him, his best friend hated him, he’d nearly died twice over the past two days, and fucking Gerard wouldn’t leave his head. What was the matter with him? Gerard was a doddering old man, and it had only been a few punches. It shouldn’t have shaken him this much. He just... felt so powerless. Vulnerable. Weak. Gerard had sought to teach Scott a lesson, but Stiles had learnt it instead.
You can’t protect yourself. And when you needed Scott most, he chose not to protect you either.
So yeah, Stiles needed to get drunk. Which was a problem when you were underage, and also the Sheriff’s only son. Luckily, Stiles knew just the girl. He scrolled down to B in his phone contacts and sent a quick text to Black Pepper.
Stiles | Sent 09:28 PM
Major SOS. Need some drinks stat! Can you get me into the Jungle tonight?
Pepper | Sent 09:31 PM
oh bambi u poor thing :(
i’d love to help but u know its gonna cost ya
Stiles | Sent 09:31 PM
I know. And I’m willing to make you an offer: full face of makeup. No costumes.
Pepper | Sent 09:32 PM
but i have the perfect one in mind T-T
you’ll love it i promise
Stiles | Sent 09:33 PM
You drive a hard bargain
Fine. But no heels!
The night they chased Jackson to the nightclub, one of the drag queens, Pepper, had given Stiles her number. She had complimented him on his strong cheekbones and big eyes and told him to contact her if he ever wanted to experiment with drag. He’d kept the number in his back pocket until the night of Lydia’s party.
Since then, he’d stayed in contact. Nothing serious, just sharing the odd meme. Pepper was fun and light and nothing to do with teenage drama or things that went boo in the night. And if occasionally it was nice to flirt with defying heteronormative ideals - well, everyone knows that high school is a breeding group for toxic masculinity. It was a breath of fresh air to make jokes and not have to worry who would hear.
(Pepper had taught him the phrase ‘toxic masculinity’. She’d regretted it when he texted her a 5,000 word rant about it the following week.)
Stiles’ phone bleeped in his hand.
Pepper | Sent 09:58 PM
come round the back way
The music pounded loudly, the bass physically thumping through Stiles’ body. Bright strobe lights highlighted the intertwining mess of bodies on the dance floor. Stiles struggled his way through the crowd towards the bar. The room was filled with the stale stink of sweat and cigarette smoke. Stiles leant on the wooden countertop, quickly retracting his arm as he felt the sticky surface. He flagged down the bartender and ordered the drink he thought would get him hammered quickest - a Kamikaze shot.
He dug into his wallet and pulled out ten bucks. He stretched out his arm to hand over the money. A cool hand wrapped around his.
“Keep your money,” rumbled a deep voice next to his ear. His accent was… Irish? Stiles shivered as he felt the stranger’s breath fan over his face. “This one’s on me.”
Stiles turned to see a tall man with a sharp face, tousled black hair and glinting green eyes. He had emerald glitter along his cheekbones and running in patterns down his arms. The corner of his mouth was quirked in a half-smile. The young man leaned against the bar, exuding confidence in his casual sprawl.
Holy shit. He was hitting on Stiles. A whole club of scorching hot guys and he picked Stiles ? Stiles should save him some time and tell him he was straight. It was the right thing to do.
“Thanks. What’s your name?” Stiles asked, trying desperately to look relaxed.
What was he doing? He was leading the poor man on! It just felt so nice to be the center of someone’s attention - it had been a while since he’d had anyone want to spend time with him. It felt good to be wanted.
“My name’s Morgan.” He pushed the Kamikaze shot into Stiles’ hand. “What’s yours?”
“Stiles. Stiles Stilinski. But everyone just calls me Stiles. Except for my coach, he calls me Biles, long story,” Stiles said.
“You don’t look like you’re having much fun tonight.”
Stiles rolled the shot glass between his fingers, trying not to spill any. “Is it that obvious?”
“You ignored everyone in the club and headed straight for the bar, alone. I’d say so. Wanna talk about it?”
The way he looked at Stiles, it felt like he actually wanted to hear about Stiles’ day. Morgan pulled one leg up onto the bar stool with him and leaned into Stiles’ space conspiratorially.
“I had a massive fight with my dad,” said Stiles, “and normally I’d go hang out with my best friend to cool down, but he’s kind of not talking to me right now.”
“I don’t know,” Stiles said miserably. “I’m not sure what I did, except be me, you know.”
Morgan put his hand over Stiles’, stopping him rolling the shot. “For what it’s worth, Stiles Stilinski, you seem pretty cool to me.”
“You don’t even know me,” Stiles said, chuckling.
“Maybe I’d like to,” he said, so seriously that Stiles was lost for words. “Now, I have the perfect cure for your rough day - come dance with me.”
Morgan sashayed into the crowd. Stiles wrestled with himself for a moment, then downed his shot and chased after him. He squeezed between two couples and back onto the dance floor. Morgan’s face lit up as he saw that Stiles had followed him.
The music was pounding some club remix of the hottest pop songs. Stiles flung himself into the beat, jumping and swinging his arms wildly. Morgan grinned at him and grabbed his wrist just before he hit someone’s eye. Then, he moved both hands to rest on the back of Stiles’ neck. Stiles shivered at the cool touch. Morgan pulled him in so they swayed in unison. His green eyes were fixed on Stiles like he was the only thing in the world that mattered.
Stiles could feel the thrum of the music connecting him through to the mass of people all moving together. The heat of the crowd contrasting with the two hands gently resting against his neck. His mind, which had been simmering with rage and grief for months, finally going quiet. The fight with his father felt years away. All that was left was this moment, in this club, in Morgan’s arms.
Morgan licked his lips and Stiles’ eyes were drawn to the motion. Unconsciously, he leaned in closer. Morgan’s shallow breath fluttered across Stiles’ skin. He smelled almost sickly sweet. Stiles let his eyes shut and moved to close the gap between them.