“Come on, baby,” he cooed gently, stroking lovingly at the love of his life. “Come on, you can do it. I know you can. Almost there, you’re doing so good, just a little bit more.”
The whine he received in response was not at all encouraging.
“No, no, no, you’re doing so good. Almost there. Look, almost there! Just a teeny, tiny little bit more, I promise. You can do this, I believe in you.”
Stiles Stilinski felt like he needed to hold his breath, as if that would help him with achieving the desired result. He did puff out his cheeks nervously while he slowly eased the Jeep over the final bump up into the lot of his destination and let out a sigh of relief when it sputtered its way to his usual parking spot.
Fist-pumping in triumph when he parked, he thanked the car Gods for their services and turned off the engine. Flipping his keys in his hand, he reached over for the coffee sitting in the cup-holder and was pleased that, despite his car’s shaky state, the lid had kept all of the piping hot liquid inside the cup where it belonged.
He knew the man this was for liked his coffee volcano hot, and it was always best to bribe him before asking for a favour. Well, not a favour, per se, but he knew how much everyone here hated his beloved car, so it was best to butter him up right from the start.
Climbing out of the Jeep, he shut the door hard enough to make the whole thing jerk. The door didn’t latch, so he did it again, much harder. Still no luck. Third time was the charm though, and it finally managed to stay closed. He waited a few seconds just to be absolutely sure before nodding to himself, satisfied, and turned to head for the entrance.
There weren’t a lot of cars in the lot, which was promising, because it meant he might get his car back before the end of the day, but that was never a guarantee. With his car, it was always really hard to tell.
Pushing open the glass door leading into Hale’s Auto Repair, Stiles looked around when he entered the waiting room, finding it to be empty. That wasn’t unusual, especially on slow days. Sometimes Erica Reyes, the girl who manned the phone, was sent home early and whoever was on shift in the back grabbed it if it rang. They had a line back there too, made for easier access.
It was better than having a bored Erica around, that was for sure. Especially if her boyfriend was working, Stiles wouldn’t have been able to fit a crowbar between them to save his life on a slow day with both of them on shift.
Stiles didn’t bother ringing the bell for service, because he was there so often he might as well have been an employee himself. Not that he worked, but boy did he sure pay the owner enough for him to pay his staff. Stiles was basically an investor at this point.
But it was worth it. All worth it. If it meant his car kept getting fixed, he’d pay whatever he had to in order to keep getting it back in working order.
Moving back behind the desk, Stiles pushed through the large swinging door leading into the back, being mindful of his surroundings. The man who owned the garage had long ago given up with him. If Erica was working, she let him into the back. If Erica wasn’t working, he let himself into the back. As long as Stiles was careful and didn’t touch anything, he’d kind of resigned himself to having him wandering around back there.
He didn’t see anyone at first when he moved around a huge truck with the hood propped open and some kind of machine attached to it, but that didn’t really mean anything. If only one person was working right now, they were likely doing a few different things at once.
Country music was blaring from a stereo in the back corner, not so loud that it would drown out the sound of the phone or someone ringing the bell at the front, but loud enough that Stiles could still hear every word. Considering who he was dealing with, that only meant he could hear it even better.
He finally caught sight of who he was looking for at the far back of the shop, standing under another car that was up on a lift, using what looked like some kind of wrench to do—something. Stiles didn’t know, he wasn’t at all mechanically inclined, the extent of his abilities was usually duct tape and a lot of praying.
“Hey creeper, how’s your day been? Still trying to trick girls into thinking you’re a stand-up guy so you can murder them in the back room and bury their bones in the woods?”
Peter Hale turned to look over his shoulder, and the smile that crossed his features then was one-part pleased, two-parts malicious. Even after years of coming here, Stiles still didn’t really know what to make of the guy. He’d always been really nice to him though, and Stiles actually viewed him as a friend, even if he could be a creepy motherfucker sometimes.
Though that might have just been the whole Werewolf thing, it was hard to tell. Peter liked to play it up.
“The man who keeps me in business,” Peter said, a pleasant lilt to his tone that made it obvious he was happy to see him, shitty car or not. “What brings you to my humble abode?”
“You get evicted again? I told you murdering your last mortgage broker wasn’t the way to go, now you gotta set up the whole trust thing with the new one to convince them to come over so you can off that one, too.” Stiles held out the coffee, smirking slightly when Peter let out an overly loud, rambunctious laugh.
“If you didn’t pay my bills, I’d have ripped your throat out with my teeth years ago.” He took the offered coffee with a nod of thanks, pulled the lid off, and took a sip as if it wasn’t hotter than Satan’s asshole. “Ah, perfect. You always know how to butter me up, Stiles.”
“What, my charm isn’t enough?” Stiles slapped a hand to his chest in mock offense while Peter turned to put his tool down, likely knowing he wasn’t going to get back to work any time soon.
Not with the mess Stiles had waiting for him outside.
“Your charm only gets you so far, the coffee is what stops me from murdering you every time I have the misfortune of seeing you walk into my shop.” He said this as if Stiles didn’t often show up to chat when he was bored. And half the time, he didn’t even bring coffee.
Peter took another sip of his drink, then motioned back towards the door. “Let’s go see what you’ve done to her this time.”
“That’s rude, I was perfectly kind to her!” Stiles insisted, but obediently turned to lead the way back towards the door so they could go out to the lot. He pushed through the swinging door, holding it slightly so it wouldn’t swing back and hit Peter, then moved out from around the desk and to the exit.
Peter’s raised eyebrow suggested Erica had given herself the rest of the day off, but he didn’t say anything. If it was slow, there was no reason for her to stick around. Besides, they were all in the same pack, so it wasn’t like she was stealing his money or anything. Peter practically handed it out like chocolate.
Most of it probably came from Stiles, he was just lucky his job paid so damn well.
“So,” Stiles said, letting the word stretch, “you given any more thought to letting me—”
“No,” Peter said immediately, not even letting him finish his sentence.
“Oh, come on! I could totally improve it!”
“No,” Peter said again, cutting him a dangerous smile.
Stiles decided to let it drop. He’d wear him down eventually! It was only a matter of time. And he would do it for free considering how nice Peter always was to him, so it wasn’t like it was a hardship for the guy. But whatever. Stiles would keep battering against his resolve until he gave up.
When they got outside, Peter still sipping at his volcanic coffee—seriously, the steam coming off that could’ve singed someone’s eyebrows off—Stiles led him towards his Jeep and motioned it with flair.
“See? One piece. I’ve been perfectly nice to her, honest!”
“Mm hm.” Peter gave him an unimpressed look. “So why are you here a full week and a half before your next scheduled service?”
Stiles just gave him an innocent look, shrugging expansively, and knew the Werewolf was well aware that he was lying through his teeth.
So maybe Stiles had gone on a mini roadtrip with one of his friends last week. But like, a legit mini roadtrip! It was only out to Sacramento for a concert, that was barely three hours away, it was nothing. Peanuts, in the grand scheme of things!
Stiles had had showers that lasted longer than that drive did!
Peter just kept staring at him unnervingly, sipping his coffee and seeming quite pleased with how uncomfortable he was making Stiles.
“Okay, so maybe I drove her to Sacramento, but who’s to say?” Stiles demanded. “I mean, maybe I didn’t.”
“Sacramento?” Peter asked, and it looked like he was refraining from smacking him for his stupidity. “Stiles. This car,” he motioned it, “is older than you are. This car has existed since before you were even a thought. She is an old lady, and you must treat her with care and dignity or she will explode on you and it’ll be no one’s fault but your own.”
“Yeah, I know, I know,” Stiles insisted, waving one hand. “Be nice to old ladies or they’ll murder you when you’re not looking.”
“As will angry Werewolves,” Peter offered, taking another sip of his coffee and moving to the driver’s side door. He pulled it open to pop the hood, and when he went to shut it, it bounced back at him. He turned to arch an eyebrow at Stiles, who winced.
“Yeah, that’s uh... That’s a new problem.”
Peter’s sigh was full body, but he didn’t say anything. Stiles was grateful, because he knew, okay.
He was well aware. Everyone knew that he was well aware.
Peter was right when he said this car was older than Stiles. His father had given it to him as a birthday gift when he was sixteen years old. Originally, he’d been happy to have a car at all, because it wasn’t like they were rolling in money, but he’d always planned on getting a new one when he could afford it. Not a brand new monster or anything, but a car that at least had power steering and automatic windows.
Then he found out the car used to belong to his mother. It was her first car, and she’d been so excited about it because it had been brand new when she’d gotten it.
Suddenly, getting another car seemed low on his priority list, and while he knew that it didn’t run well and it was legitimately costing him more to keep it running than just buying another one, he just... couldn’t.
It was his mother’s car. It was all he had left of her. She’d died when he was still relatively young, and he didn’t have many memories with her.
But he had the Jeep. Somehow, it was enough. He was never going to get rid of this thing.
Peter moved to the front of the Jeep and popped the hood one-handed, giving Stiles another judgmental look at what he found. Stiles just flailed his arms a bit.
“What? It worked for me long before I met you! And I had to, you know, get it back here. From that hypothetical, totally didn’t happen drive to Sacramento.”
“Well, we both know you like working with your hands, so you’re taking all this shit off before you go.” Peter nodded into what he was looking at before closing the hood slowly. “I’m not fighting with all that duct tape.”
“You have claws,” Stiles argued.
“Yes, and duct tape is a pain to deal with.” Peter sipped his coffee while heading back for the door. “Keys.”
Stiles pulled them out and tossed them, Peter catching them without even turning around. Stiles always insisted he was cheating somehow when he did that, like he could see the reflection through the window or something, but Peter was adamant it was just one of his many talents.
“Thank you,” he called after him, but Peter didn’t say anything, he just disappeared back inside with the one hand still raised in farewell.
Turning back to the Jeep, Stiles sighed and rolled up the sleeves of his plaid over-shirt before moving to prop the hood up properly. He knew Peter wasn’t serious about the duct tape, but he could imagine how annoying it was for the mechanics to remove it, so he’d just do it. He’d put it on, it was only fair he took it off.
Damn if it didn’t work like a bitch, though!
Getting the edges up was hard since he bit his nails more often than not, but he managed it on the closest piece and peeled it off. It left a sticky residue on both his fingers and the various things he’d taped it down to, but that was okay. He was pretty sure Peter was going to replace some of these things.
Stiles had learned early on to never use duct tape on anything metal under the hood. Because that shit got hot and he did not need to blow his car up. Smell wasn’t too great either, lesson learned.
When he was done with peeling all the tape off, he wandered back inside to throw the wadded up ball of it into the trash, called goodbye through the swinging door and then left again. He checked the time on his phone, and while it was a little later than he’d hoped, he knew he had enough time.
It wasn’t a long walk from the garage to the police station, about four or five blocks. The weather was hot and humid though, so he wasn’t particularly happy about it, but at least he’d be inside soon. And really, summer was the better season because it meant being able to go outside without worrying about freezing to death. Stiles did not handle cold well.
He didn’t really handle the heat well either, but he’d start complaining about that in a few weeks when it got really hot. It was like tradition. He complained about the heat in summer, and he complained about the cold in winter, there was no in between. That was fine, he was allowed.
Human nature, and all that. This was what he told Peter when he complained too much in his presence. Humans complained, it was a thing that happened.
It was actually a relief when he reached the station because the second he stepped through the door, he was blasted with cool air from the air conditioner and it helped alleviate some of the grumpiness he could feel coming on.
“Hey you,” Tara Graeme said from the front desk. “Shouldn’t you be working?”
“I set my own schedule, I am an important figure and can work whenever I please,” Stiles insisted, raising his chin with a faux air of superiority and trying to sound posh.
“You finished all your jobs, didn’t you?”
“They were too easy,” Stiles insisted, leaning forward on the front desk and sighing. “People are so boring, they don’t want to let me go ham. I could do great things if they’d be a bit bolder, you know?”
“Oh, I know. I was here, remember?”
Stiles grinned at her, which had her roll her eyes and push his face away with one hand before motioning for him to go away. He obliged, but only because he had laundry waiting for him at home so he needed to get back. He’d timed this almost perfectly so that he could start a load of laundry, drop off the Jeep, and get back in time for it to be done so he could put another load in.
Wandering through the bullpen and nodding greetings to various people, he walked right up to a specific desk with a brilliant smile and leaned against it.
“Hey. So, I was thinking, if you haven’t eaten yet, we could—”
“You can’t borrow my car.”
“I didn’t say anything about your car,” Stiles insisted. “I am shocked and appalled you think so little of me.”
Cold blue eyes rose to spear him with an almost murderous look—Stiles took that to mean he’d been doing paperwork all day, so he was going to have a hard time with this favour. “Fine. We can go to lunch then, and you’re going to pay like you were offering to do, and then you will leave me in peace without commandeering my car.”
Stiles pressed his lips together, squinted slightly, and exhaled slowly through his nose. “Okay fine, I need to borrow your car, but!” He held up one finger when the other man scoffed and turned back to his paperwork. “I said but! But I literally only need it to drive myself home. Then I can come back at the end of your shift, pick you up, you can drive me home again, and then be on your merry way with your car.”
“Come on, it’s almost an hour walk home from here without a car. I’ll owe you.” He thought about it for a second. “What if I made you dinner?”
“Planning on poisoning me?”
“I mean, it’s tempting sometimes, but no. What if I made you your favourite dinner?”
When an immediate rejection wasn’t forthcoming, Stiles raised his eyebrows and was cautiously hopeful this would work. That dinner was a lot of work, because anyone who said making a lasagna from scratch wasn’t a lot of work was a dirty liar, but if it got him a ride home, he’d do what needed to be done.
He had nothing else to do today anyway, he’d finished all his jobs and until he got new requests, it was just him and video games for the foreseeable future. Not that there was anything wrong with video games, but also, money. Money was a thing he liked and needed, and considering how expensive his car was, he hoped he got more jobs soon.
“What about dessert?”
Stiles wanted to whine at that, because if he had to make dessert too, he’d literally be slaving away in his kitchen all day. “I mean, I can buy something?”
He got a real look for that and debated whether or not he could get a ride from someone else. Realistically, he could, but they also hadn’t had much time to hang out lately and it wasn’t like he had any plans for the day anyway. He could just put on some music or an audiobook or something and cook the rest of the day, whatever.
“Fine. Lasagna and apple crumble. But you have to bring the booze,” Stiles insisted, pointing his finger at him.
Jackson Whittemore’s smarmy smirk made him want to take his words back immediately, but he didn’t. “Deal.”
“I’ll have to stop at the store, I don’t think I have all the ingredients I need.” Stiles held his hand out for the key and Jackson arched his back to pull them out of his pocket.
One of his coworkers greeted Stiles on his way by, and he nodded hello and asked how they were doing while Jackson fought to get his car key off his regular house keys. Stiles didn’t know why he was bothering, he was going to go be getting his car back before he went home anyway.
He finally wrestled it off the ring and held it out to Stiles, eyes narrowing again and flashing an almost electric blue, letting a bit of his wolf peek out when he spoke next.
“If there is one scratch on my car—”
“Don’t worry,” Stiles insisted, grabbing for the key. “I will treat it as if it were my own.”
Jackson’s reflexes were just fast enough that he managed to pull his hand back before Stiles could actually take the key from it. “In that case, never mind. I’ve seen the state of your car.”
“No, no, no!” Stiles made a grab for the key, but Jackson kept it out of reach. “You know what I mean! Jacks, come on!”
“Get your fat ass off me.”
“We had a deal!”
“I don’t want you to treat my car like yours, it’ll turn into a rust bucket the second you touch it!”
“Give it here! I’m making dinner!”
They both paused with Stiles half on top of Jackson in his chair, trying to reach out and grab at the key that Jackson was holding out of reach. He turned his head to look back over his shoulder, Jackson craning his neck slightly to do the same.
Not that either of them didn’t know exactly who it was.
“Hey dad,” Stiles said with a brilliant smile. “How’s it going? How’s your day? You eat yet? Jacks and I were about to go to lunch after he lent me his car.”
Sheriff Stilinski gave him an unimpressed look for his cheery tone, arms crossed over his chest while he stared them both down. It occurred to Stiles then that half the precinct was staring at them, though most of them looked amused. Some others looked like they were ready for a fight to break out and were going to start betting on the winner.
Stiles would win, obviously. Jackson may have been a Werewolf, but Stiles fought dirty. He was a biter, Jackson couldn’t do that, he’d get in trouble. Using his Werewolf strength or enhanced senses against a human while an officer of the law wouldn’t bode well for him, so Stiles always won when they really went at it.
It’d been a few years though, their last big fight had been completely justified and they were over it.
“Stiles,” the sheriff said easily. “Get off your brother.”
“I mean, right here? That seems a little inappropriate, don’t you think?” Stiles joked.
The look that earned him was actually a little terrifying and Jackson’s own face scrunched up in disgust at the connotations. Jeez, being a cop meant they automatically lost their sense of humour, his family was the worst.
Climbing off Jackson so he was standing in front of him again, he half-turned to look at his dad while the other officer got to his feet so they could head out to lunch.
“Can you both try to act your age?”
Stiles thumbed towards the other officers. “Half of these people have changed my diapers, and the other half went to high school with me. I don’t know why you’re pretending to be embarrassed as if this is the first time this has ever happened.”
“Because one day someone new will work here, and I’m going to have a hell of a time explaining your relationship to them.”
Stiles just shrugged, because that sounded like his dad’s problem, and grinned cheekily. He patted his dad’s shoulder on his way by him without another word, knowing he’d likely already eaten since Jackson didn’t invite him along, and headed for the door. His brother followed along behind him, telling their dad he’d be back after lunch to finish his paperwork.
That meant he’d been putting it off again. Jackson was a great cop, but he hated the paperwork associated with being a cop. He usually let it pile up and then ended up getting benched for a whole day to catch up. He was just lucky the sheriff was his dad.
Well, maybe lucky wasn’t the right word to use, considering Jackson’s rather tragic history. He and Stiles didn’t really talk about it anymore, because Jackson often insisted history was best left in the past where it belonged, but he really hadn’t had it easy growing up.
Jackson’s parents had died in a car crash when he was less than a year old, and he’d been adopted by the Whittemores not long after that. They weren’t the kindest of people, but they’d loved Jackson, and they’d made sure to care for him and love him as if he were their own.
The Whittemores were fairly wealthy, with Mr. Whittemore being one of the top lawyers in the State despite the small town he lived in. He travelled a lot for work, and Mrs. Whittemore ran some kind of fashion magazine so she tended to be in San Francisco more often than not. That meant Jackson had grown up with a never-ending stream of babysitters and nannies. Since he and Stiles had been friends since Pre-K, when he turned six and had a rather impressive tantrum about the nannies, Stiles’ parents had said that Jackson could just stay with them when the Whittemores were out of town, and the guest room had kind of turned into Jackson’s unofficial bedroom.
When Stiles’ mother passed away when he turned nine, the tables kind of turned a little bit in that the Whittemores had Stiles at their place, cared for by nannies alongside Jackson, since they were much too busy. They had at least acknowledged Stiles needed somewhere to go while his father was in a bad place, and those years of friendship and Jackson staying with the Stilinskis had made it an easy and obvious choice.
Then the tables turned again. When Jackson was thirteen, and his parents were both home—a rare occasion—a group of Werewolves who’d previously been casing the place had broken in to steal all of the Whittemore’s expensive things. Upon discovering the family at home, they’d panicked and one of them had accidentally killed Mr. Whittemore after shoving him too hard.
That had only caused more panic and the Alpha made the decision to kill the whole family to avoid this coming back on them. So they’d killed Mrs. Whittemore, and had tried to kill Jackson.
Like, really tried. The Alpha had ripped out his throat and left him for dead. Jackson was extremely lucky in that he didn’t bleed out and instead turned into a Werewolf, which effectively healed his injury and allowed him to call Stiles, who’d of course immediately called his dad.
Stiles still thought about that night quite often, a part of him wondering if the Alpha had realized he was about to kill an innocent boy and maybe not attacking him as viciously as he’d intended. After all, he’d killed Mrs. Whittemore without any problems, so how could he have messed up so badly on a kid? No one knew the extent of Jackson’s injuries, because they’d already healed by the time the police showed up, so it was entirely possible that it had felt like his throat was getting ripped out, but maybe the Alpha had just bitten him really, really hard and then decided at the last second he didn’t want to kill him.
The Werewolves were never found, despite Jackson’s descriptions, but some overzealous assholes in town had decided to take the attack out on the only known Werewolf family in Beacon Hills.
Their house had been burned to the ground with the whole family inside barring Peter, his daughter—who lived with her mother in Texas—and his niece and nephew. It had caused a bit of an uproar in the community, with good reason. Talia Hale had been one of the most beloved people in the town, and the family responsible were known Werewolf-haters, also going by the title of “Hunters.”
It was an antiquated term no longer used since the Supernatural had been exposed in the early 1900s, but some people still clung to the old ways. Those responsible had been arrested, but the rest of the family had been forced to leave or face the wrath of an outraged community.
That had been a lot for a small town to handle in the span of one week, the murder of the Whittemores, Jackson being turned into a Werewolf, and the only known Werewolves in town being attacked and in absolutely no shape to take in a new Werewolf. Jackson had been left with no mentors, no family, and no hope for a normal, happy life.
Sheriff Stilinski wasn’t going to take that sitting down. He’d never been a wealthy man, but he was rich in heart, and despite his financial troubles over the years, he’d fought the courts tooth and nail for custody of Jackson. The Whittemores had left everything to their son, but hadn’t considered they might pass while he was still a minor, so no guardianships had been laid out. Of course many people wanted custody to gain access to the wealth that came with him, but the sheriff only wanted Jackson because he cared about him. The money meant nothing to him, it was the boy he cared about.
After a very long, stressful year of Jackson in foster care and struggling with his newfound abilities, the sheriff finally won and Jackson was allowed to come back to what had always been his second home. The sheriff had sat Jackson down after the adoption had gone through to ask what he wanted to do about his name, because he would never force him to take on the Stilinski name, but he didn’t want him to feel like he wasn’t allowed to. Jackson had opted to keep Whittemore, and they never spoke of it again.
Now, twelve years later, and Jackson was still just as much his brother as he’d ever been, even if they didn’t share the same last name.
“I told you that trip with McCall was going to kill Roscoe,” Jackson said when they got outside, tossing his car key to Stiles while they headed for the street to go down to the diner a block and a half away. Stiles almost dropped it, but managed to catch it and shove it into his pocket before Jackson changed his mind again.
“Roscoe was perfectly fine up until last night, I’ll have you know.”
“Don’t know how Peter can stand fixing it up every few weeks,” Jackson said, but didn’t suggest getting a new car. He knew better than anyone how important the Jeep was to Stiles, and no way was he going to bring up replacing it.
They both knew that Jeep would die with Stiles, even if he was still in it when it decided to go.
“Hey, you watch that new show on Netflix yet?” Jackson asked.
“You say that as if there’s only one new show,” Stiles insisted with a snort, and then got to listen to Jackson talk about nonsense for the rest of the walk to the diner.
At least he was getting a car out of it. Even if he did have to spend the rest of the day in the kitchen.
Stiles didn’t know what crazy, magical Werewolf mojo Peter used on his car whenever he sent it in to get fixed, but it always ran good as new when he got it back. Well, not good as new exactly, considering, but it ran perfectly for the usual two months between checkups. He had to get checkups every two months because if he didn’t, his Jeep would probably just die on him.
Peter was a good guy though. As much as he joked about Stiles keeping him in business, Stiles knew he undercharged him and half the time, he didn’t even charge for the checkups. If he had to replace anything, he’d charge for the parts, but he didn’t usually charge for the labour so if nothing needed to be replaced, he got the checkup done for free.
That always made Stiles uncomfortable, because this was Peter’s business, but he tried to make up for it by bringing him coffee or food every time he came by. And he didn’t visit just when he needed to, either.
Creepy as Peter Hale was, Stiles actually really liked the guy. He was really nice, in a weird, malicious sort of way. The kind of guy who hid threats behind a smile, and a kind deed behind a stoic mask of indifference. He was interesting, which was probably why Stiles liked him so much.
And Peter said he found Stiles interesting, so that was probably why he liked Stiles so much. After all, Beacon Hills was kind of a boring little town, made sense Peter would want to make friendly with the coolest, most interesting person in it!
Stiles was often surprised the man had stuck around. After the fire, he and his niece and nephew had kind of become a little bit reclusive. They’d left town for a few months while the Hale house was rebuilt, probably to get a bit of distance and grieve in private. Stiles had never expected them to come back, he’d always assumed they would rebuild the house and sell it, but eight months later, the Hales were in town again.
He home-schooled his niece and nephew, not wanting them to have to deal with school and crowds after what had happened, but they still had friends who went by and checked in. Cora Hale used to be in Stiles’ class, and while they’d never been friends, he’d still dropped in a few times over the years just to check in, see how she was doing and all that.
She was really nice, but neither she nor her brother had stuck around after graduating. According to Peter, Cora lived in Hawaii and was a surf instructor. She had a boyfriend and two parrots, and was really happy out there. His nephew Derek lived in New York, but Peter didn’t talk about him much.
Derek didn’t trust humans after what had happened to his family, so apparently he kept getting fired from his jobs for being an asshole. Stiles could tell Peter was worried about him, even if he didn’t say as much. He’d basically raised him, what with the pack having lived in the same house, and then Peter becoming legal guardian to Cora and Derek.
Stiles didn’t know much about Derek other than he was the official Hale Alpha, and though the pack was technically spread out since a few of his Betas lived in Beacon Hills—Peter, Erica and her boyfriend Vernon Boyd, as well as Isaac Lahey who worked at the vet clinic—his sister lived in Hawaii, and two other of his Betas had moved to Alaska, they were still considered a formal pack.
Unless a new Alpha came to town and the Hale Betas joined that pack, or Derek lost his Alpha status, on record he was the formal Alpha for a specified group of people. Stiles had asked Peter once if it was hard having his Alpha so far away, but he’d said it didn’t work like that.
Yes, Werewolves were pack animals, and pack was important, but there were still the lone wolves out in the world. They belonged to a pack, but they didn’t stay with the pack. Peter liked having the pack close, and he did things often with the other Betas in town, most of whom worked with him, but Cora and Derek had both kind of gone off to be on their own. Unless they truly needed their Alpha, the other Betas could operate without too much trouble given they still had pack around them.
Stiles honestly felt kind of sad hearing about it. Their town was so small, but so many terrible things had happened there in his lifetime, and he knew so many of the people it had directly impacted. Like Jackson. Like Peter. There were many others, but it got depressing when he sat back and thought about it. No one wanted to live life remembering all the bad, so he tried to focus on the positive.
Besides, he liked the Betas of the Hale pack. They were all really nice, if a little quirky in their own way. He’d gotten to know Isaac pretty well solely because he worked alongside Stiles’ best friend—barring Jackson, of course—Scott McCall. He’d gotten a job at the vet clinic in high school and had gone to school to become a vet tech, so when Isaac had been hired, the two of them became pretty close.
Hilariously, a lot of the group hangouts Stiles had included three of the four Beacon Hills Hale pack Betas. He really liked Boyd and Erica, and Scott usually always invited Isaac along. Stiles would extend the offer to Peter, except he doubted the man wanted to hang out with a bunch of young adults, he probably had better things to do.
Like fix cars, since he seemed to spend all his time in the shop.
It didn’t used to belong to Peter, though. It had previously been Armour Tire and Service, and had belonged to a grouchy old man and a bunch of angry mechanics who were actually kind of dicks. Stiles would know, considering his many visits.
After the fire, Peter had received a rather sizeable sum of money, likely from some kind of life insurance from his sister, the then-Alpha Talia Hale. The family had always had a lot of money, but this had allowed Peter to find himself a new hobby while trying to come to terms with the turn his life had taken. He’d taken up fixing cars in his free time while home-schooling Derek and Cora, and had eventually gotten a job at Armour Tire and Service after taking some courses on it after Derek had graduated high school.
When the owner had been looking to retire and sell the place a few years later, Peter had bought it. Most of the staff hadn’t wanted to stick around to work for him—Peter kind of had a special personality—so he’d been forced to find new meat. Boyd had ended up taking a liking to it, and after his own schooling in the trade, had come back to work for him. Some of the original mechanics were still around, but business wasn’t exactly booming in such a small town so they only worked part-time and Stiles basically never saw them.
That was why Stiles kept trying to talk Peter into letting him help him. Peter and his team also did amazing restorations. Like, fucking gorgeous and beautiful work on cars—despite Stiles not allowing him to touch Roscoe in that sense. He did such amazing work, but he didn’t really advertise it, so he didn’t have as much business on that front.
Peter kept insisting he didn’t mind, but Stiles knew he really enjoyed it and couldn’t understand why Peter wouldn’t just let him help him! Boyd said it was because Peter was worried it would fail, but Stiles felt like it was more about his pride. He wanted to be able to get there on his own from word of mouth, but the problem was nobody had ever heard of Beacon Hills, so it was hard for word of mouth to get around.
Again, why Stiles wanted to help him. Because that was literally Stiles’ job.
He’d kind of fell into it by accident, if he was honest. When his dad had become sheriff, Stiles had begged him to redo the precinct’s website because it was dismal and outdated and he hated it. Like, with a hot, fiery, burning passion. It was just so fucking awful, unpleasant to look at, and so difficult to navigate.
His father kept telling him to stop asking, and that the website was fine, even though he’d heard him bitch constantly about how user unfriendly it was. Like, it didn’t even have an imbedded link to their Twitter account! It didn’t have links at all! It was a mess!
Stiles may or may not have convinced one of his high school friends to hack into the site one weekend so he could redo the whole thing. Stiles had never taken a web design course in his life at that point, but the site had bothered him enough that he’d fallen down a rabbit hole of research over the course of a few weeks and knew a lot more about it than he’d originally planned on learning.
One weekend later, the precinct had a brand new site that literally everyone in town was talking about. Stiles’ dad had praised him—and grounded him, the jerk—for his amazing work, and things had kind of... snowballed from there.
Some of the other local businesses in town started asking him to redo their websites, and after a year of doing this for free, he realized he was really good at it. People seemed to like his work, and he found it really fun, so when he went off to university, while he did take the usual courses for a Bachelor’s of Sciences, he also took a few graphic design courses. After he graduated, he did another year program at a local college for web design and graphic design technology specifically, and voila.
Now it was his job. He’d set up his own website and everything, had a lot of people in town agreeing to allow him to use their websites as examples of his work—after sprucing them all up with his newfound skills, of course—and now that was his life.
A happy accident born from an obsession about how shitty the precinct’s website was. And it even linked to their Twitter now. Stiles was still really proud of it, and his dad wouldn’t let him change it, only because he wanted to keep it the same way for nostalgic purposes. It was Stiles’ first, after all.
So really, Stiles knew he could do a lot for Peter. Guy barely even had a website, the thing was ridiculous. It was just an ‘about’ page and a ‘contact us’ page. Like, it hurt Stiles’ soul. The things he could do with that website, and the business he could bring in for Peter if only he’d let him!
“How would I find time to work on your car if I had so much more business?” Peter insisted, walking over to where Stiles was perched on a stool by a workbench covered in tools, bag of chips in one hand and munching away while he watched Peter work.
It was boring when Stiles didn’t have any jobs, and Peter seemed to like the company, so it was a win-win for both of them.
“You’d hire more guys, obviously.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “No one but you and Boyd are allowed to touch Roscoe, though.”
“No one but Boyd and I are stupid enough to think that thing is worth saving,” Peter argued. Stiles just inclined his head at him, conceding his point. The other guys in the shop hated when Stiles came around with the Jeep, but Peter had always said to leave it for him. He didn’t mind working on it.
Stiles knew that Peter had a Camaro that was in rough shape itself. Apparently it used to belong to his niece Laura, and after it had survived the fire, it had gone to Derek. When he’d left for New York, he hadn’t taken it with him, worried it wouldn’t survive the drive out there, but Peter had offered to send it out his way a few times. Derek kept declining, worried it would get damaged.
Considering, Stiles figured Peter understood the sentimentality behind the vehicle. Sure, it got Stiles where he needed to be, but it was also important to him because of who it belonged to. Same as the Camaro was to Peter and Derek. He never saw Peter driving it around, but it was in the shop every now and then, likely Peter just making sure it was in working order for when Derek finally asked for it.
When Peter walked over to him and tossed a tool down on the workbench before grabbing another, Stiles offered him some chips. He took a few from the bag, unconcerned with the grease on his fingers, and stuffed them into his mouth before heading back to the lift he had the car he was working on up on.
“I’m just saying,” Stiles continued, frowning into his bag of chips to double check Peter hadn’t left any grease behind on them, “if you just let me spruce it up even a little bit, you’d get more people coming by. It’s not like people’s first thought when they want a car restored is to come to little old Beacon Hills, California to get it done. We’re not even listed on the map, it’s kind of depressing.”
“Your constant stream of income suggests otherwise,” Peter called back.
“I have a website,” Stiles reminded him. “You know, to promote my business. Also, they don’t have to physically come here for my job, most of my consults are done over the phone or on Skype. I hate Skype. Who wants to video conference about a website? It’s stupid.” Stiles popped another chip into his mouth. “But again, website. I have one. It helps people learn about what I have to offer. It’s interactive. It isn’t a two paragraph ‘about us’ page that explains you’re a Werewolf who owns a garage.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “Seriously, it hurts my soul when I look at your website. Just let me fix it.”
“Ask me again some other time.”
Stiles let out a loud, annoyed sound, closing up his chips and dropping the half-eaten bag on the workbench for Peter. “Anyway, I’m heading out for lunch with Erica. You want anything?”
“Some peace and quiet, which is forthcoming if you’re finally leaving.”
“Asshole,” Stiles said with a grin, getting to his feet. “Try not to murder any children for their bone marrow while I’m gone, okay? It’s harder for me to be your alibi if people see me out and about.”
“I will resist the temptation,” Peter called back.
Grinning, Stiles waved over his shoulder while heading back for the front room. Peter hadn’t said no, so that was at least a bit more progress than usual.
Slowly but surely, he was wearing him down.
Okay, so maybe Stiles should have learned his lesson last time. Maybe when he’d driven to Sacramento, and the Jeep had whined when he’d gotten back, he should’ve taken this as a sign that he shouldn’t put it through that much hardship ever again.
This time wasn’t his fault, though!
Normally he didn’t meet any of his clients face to face, because his job didn’t require it, but this was kind of a big deal. There was a start-up Amazon-like competitor who needed a whole team to design the website, so they were hiring a bunch of different people for different things. Stiles’ name had come up a few times during their search, and they’d wanted to have a formal interview.
Stiles had to wear real clothes and everything! Couldn’t just show up in jeans and a T-shirt with his usual plaid over-shirts, oh no! Had to wear nice pants, and a button-up shirt, find himself a nice tie, the whole shebang.
It also meant driving to Sacramento again. Apparently the company was going to be based out of San Francisco, but they weren’t going to make Stiles fly out that far for the interview and since they were the ones who’d insisted on the face to face, they figured Sacramento was even ground. And it was, really. It was actually pretty fucking nice, because it was further out from San Francisco than it was from Beacon Hills, so more than halfway.
Problem was, Roscoe was old, and did not appreciate the long drive so soon after her last one. Sure, it had been a few weeks since then, but still! She was unhappy with him, and he was surprised she started at all the following morning.
“Almost there,” Stiles promised her as they chugged along pathetically towards the garage. “You’re doing so good, you’re literally the best, I love you so much baby. You’re so good to me. We’re almost there. Your favourite place, with the man who loves and respects you almost as much as me.” It groaned ominously and he winced. “Okay, probably more than me, since he would never have driven you to Sacramento. I promise it was for a good cause, I’ll never do that for you again!”
He really hoped he got that job, considering it would be an actual steady job. He was never hurting for cash because he always had things to do, but it would be nice knowing he would have a steady income keeping the site up and running alongside a team, and he could still work from home. So he could do his usual jobs when they came up, but would also have this formal, long-standing job.
If he got it, of course. No guarantees, but he was cautiously optimistic. The interview had gone well, in his opinion, and they’d seemed really impressed with his ideas for the site’s design.
Stiles puffed out his cheeks while approaching the garage, getting over the small bump that led into the lot and sighing in relief when he eased the Jeep to a stop in a free spot. Turning off the engine, he patted the dash lovingly, and thanked her for not stalling down the road since he’d have to get Peter to tow her and that was always the worst because he was intolerable for days.
Opening the door, he flipped his keys in his hand while grabbing for the coffee in the cup-holder, then climbed out and shut it behind himself. When he walked through the glass door into the entrance, Erica was on the phone. She looked a little surly, like she was having a bad day, but still managed a small smile and wave at him.
He waved back, and figured he’d ask her out to lunch again to try and cheer her up, then moved around behind the desk to the swinging door. He felt something behind him, like someone had tried to grab for his shirt, but figured it was just the air moving and disappeared into the back, being mindful of his surroundings like he always was.
He arched an eyebrow at the loud, angry rock music blaring out of the stereo much louder than usual. Also, it was rock music, which wasn’t usually Peter’s first choice. He tended to like country, something Stiles would tease him about until the day he died—even if it was by way of murder, Peter being the cause. Rock didn’t really seem like his thing, but he didn’t question it. Maybe he was trying something new.
He knew it wasn’t Boyd working, because he usually listened to the radio. He didn’t care so much about what was on, as long as something was. Besides, he and Erica usually chatted to each other while he worked. The advantages of both of them being Werewolves meant they could do that easily from two different rooms, provided Boyd wasn’t using any loud machinery.
It took him longer than usual to find Peter, because it actually looked like no one was there at first. Eventually, he found a pair of dirty, jean-clad legs sticking out from under the body of a hideous green Toyota. He really hoped that thing was here for a paint job, but considering the body working on its undercarriage, he doubted it.
He found it surprising Peter was using an auto dolly, he tended to favour the lift when he had to work on the underside of a car. Maybe his old age was catching up to him and craning his neck like that was becoming painful. Did Werewolves get arthritis? He’s have to ask.
Moving over to said individual, he kicked at one of his booted feet, finding those to be new since he usually wore brown ones and these were black. Also, he was in jeans. Peter usually wore his worksuit to avoid dirtying his clothes, but Stiles didn’t question it. Maybe he’d forgotten to do laundry or something.
Stiles leaned back against the car behind him, grinning while he said, “Hey creeper, how’s your day been? You manage to lure any more unsuspecting children into your white van with candy to feast on their insides?”
As expected, the body under the chassis immediately rolled out, and Stiles grinned down at the Werewolf, coffee already half-extended in offering, when he froze.
The murderous-looking face staring back up at him did not belong to Peter. He looked enough like him though that Stiles clued in immediately as to who this was. He’d definitely grown up since he’d last seen him, and damn had time been extremely kind to Derek Hale.
Black hair, piercing green eyes, killer cheekbones, manicured beard, the works. It was actually kind of scary to Stiles to realize he found Derek hot, because he looked a lot like Peter, and shit, did he find Peter hot? Like, sure, he was attractive, Stiles had often admitted that to his face, but did he have a thing for Peter? He sure hoped not, that’d be weird.
“Who are you?” Derek demanded, snapping Stiles out of his slight panic that maybe he might have a thing for Peter. “What are you doing back here?”
“Uh,” Stiles offered in response, because Derek was quite rude. To be fair, Stiles was a non-staff member who’d just wandered into the garage, so he was probably thinking about the liability. This was his uncle’s shop, after all.
And now that he thought about it, he didn’t remember Peter mentioning that Derek was also a mechanic. Small world. Maybe he’d seen how much his uncle enjoyed his work and had decided to follow suit.
“Are you deaf?” Derek grabbed for a remote and aimed it somewhere over Stiles head, the music cutting off instantly from the stereo near the back. The Werewolf in front of him got angrily to his feet, and while he couldn’t have been more than an inch or so taller than Stiles, he had presence. It made Stiles feel like an ant. He wondered if that was an Alpha thing. “What are you doing back here?”
“I was coming by to talk to Peter,” Stiles said. “And by the way, asking if someone is deaf is extremely rude, because if you don’t know the person you’re speaking to, they could very well be deaf and that makes you look like an asshole.”
That answer seemed to take him off-guard, and it was obvious he didn’t know how to respond to it because he just said, “This area is for employees only. Get out.” He pointed, rather aggressively, towards the swinging door that led back to the front.
“Dude, chill. I always come back here. Peter is well aware of my lack of self-preservation skills.”
“I don’t care,” the other man sneered, still pointing towards the door. “Get. Out.”
“You know, you’re gonna scare away all of Peter’s clients if you speak to them like that,” Stiles informed him. Derek was still pissed off, but he seemed a little startled, too. Like he didn’t understand why Stiles wasn’t peeing himself and running for the door.
He was friends with Jackson and Peter. Murderous looks and angry threats were kind of the norm for him, honestly.
“Speaking of, where is Peter?”
Derek was clearly grinding his teeth together, but it was obviously clear to him the only way he’d get Stiles to leave without physically picking him up and forcibly removing him was to answer his questions.
“Out of town,” he bit out between gritted teeth.
Stiles arched an eyebrow. “Doing what?”
Derek’s smile was terrifying, like he didn’t know how to not look like a maniac when he did so. “Personal things.”
“Peter has a personal life?” Stiles asked, both eyebrows shooting up now. “Since when?”
“Who are you?” Derek demanded angrily.
“Stiles Stilinski, the guy who is basically single-handedly keeping your uncle in business. Hey, can you convince him to let me update his website? I’ve been trying for like, two years, and he won’t budge.”
Somehow, those words seemed to confuse some of the anger out of him, because he just stared at him for a second like he couldn’t figure out what the hell he was saying, and then scowled. Before he could say anything though, Stiles bulled on.
“Is Boyd around? I brought my Jeep in, and she is delicate, needs a delicate hand. You seem like you might take a sledgehammer to her, and she’s an old lady, so that won’t do. Should I just leave her in the lot?” He thumbed over his shoulder, then answered himself before Derek could. “Actually, I’ll just talk to Erica about it. But now I have this coffee.” He looked down at the cup he was holding. “Hm. I mean, coffee is good, but this is Peter’s type of coffee, I don’t want to wait ten years before I can drink it. Do you like coffee?” He looked back up at Derek, who kind of seemed like he didn’t know what to do with himself. “Here, have some coffee.”
When he held it out to Derek, the other man stared at him, then at the coffee, then looked back up at him. His features twisted into a look of suspicion and Stiles wondered if he thought maybe he was trying to poison him—hilarious, considering it was meant for Peter, and also, why did everyone think Stiles was trying to poison them? His dad and brother were both cops, if he wanted to kill someone, he had to be more subtle about it.
He’d also need a really good bribe in place to convince the aforementioned police officers to help him dispose of the body and hide the evidence. Somehow he felt like his dad would be easier to convince than his brother, lasagna and apple crumble only got him so far.
Before Derek could say anything—probably rude, based on his expression—the swinging door opened and Stiles jumped when Boyd literally appeared right beside him. Like, the fucker teleported or something, Stiles almost wet himself.
“Stiles,” he said, casting a glance at Derek. “Didn’t expect you to be here today. Peter didn’t mention he was out of town?”
“You mean he actually left town to do personal things?” Stiles asked, surprised. “I honestly didn’t know Peter had a personal life. I thought he turned into a car at night and just hung out in the garage.”
“Cute,” Boyd said, rolling his eyes. “Ironic to hear this coming from someone who has just as much of a social life as him, considering how often you hang out here.”
“That’s just rude, you know my job has no set hours, and you enjoy my company, don’t deny it.” He paused, then held out the coffee in his hand. “Coffee?”
“Was that for Peter?” Boyd asked, but he took it anyway. He didn’t like volcano coffee either, but he could probably handle it much sooner than Stiles, what with the whole Werewolf thing and the healing and the totally unfair parts of Stiles’ life. “What did you do to her? Your next service isn’t for another month.”
“Okay, but this time, it wasn’t my fault,” Stiles insisted. He was forcibly ignoring the angry looming happening right beside him, Derek’s arms crossed and muscles bulging. The guy seriously had presence, Stiles couldn’t help but wonder if it was an Alpha thing. He’d never met an Alpha Werewolf before, only the Betas in town. He knew he’d met Talia Hale at least once, but it was back when he was really young, so he couldn’t honestly remember how it had felt.
Besides, far as he recalled, Talia was really nice. Derek seemed to have a bad attitude, which explained why Peter was always concerned about him. Peter’s personality was something akin to fancy cheese. It might look and smell bad, but after tasting it a few times and getting used to it, one could find themselves enjoying said cheese rather nicely.
Derek seemed like sour milk, and there wasn’t much to enjoy about sour milk. Sure, it could be used as a substitute in baking, but it definitely wasn’t Stiles’ first choice when milk went bad. He would prefer the cheese of Peter’s personality.
“It’s your car, Stiles,” Boyd reminded him, taking the lid off the coffee so it could cool faster. “Anything that happens to it automatically becomes your fault.”
“No, no, no.” Stiles waved one finger in Boyd’s face. “This time, it legitimately wasn’t my fault. I had to drive it to Sacramento—”
“You drove the old lady to Sacramento?” Boyd asked, sounding offended. He clearly spent too much time around Peter if he was starting to get offended about what people did to their cars. “Stiles!”
“I’m not finished!” Stiles waved one hand in his face to let him continue. “I had a really important meeting. Like, big news kind of meeting. And if this pans out, I will even share said big news with you. But Roscoe understood!” Stiles motioned towards the door, referencing his car. “She was so good to me! Made it all the way there and back, and I told her I’d bring her here first thing since we got home so late last night. And now here we are! Her favourite place!” Stiles held both hands out. “She loves it here!”
“Probably because we treat her right,” Boyd insisted, giving him a look.
“Again, not my fault,” Stiles argued. “But I will let you berate me to your heart’s content as long as you help fix her so she doesn’t leave me stranded in the boonies.”
“This whole fucking town is the God damn boonies,” Derek said angrily. Stiles wondered if he had any other settings.
So far he’d learned confusion and anger. He hoped there was a happy setting in there somewhere.
Boyd’s gaze cut briefly to Derek, then back to Stiles. “I see you’ve met Derek.”
“Oh yeah. We are now very close friends,” Stiles said, turning to grin at the Alpha.
He didn’t look impressed. Also like he was trying to figure out which parts of Stiles were the squishiest and easiest to eat through. That was concerning, he didn’t like that.
“Yeah,” Boyd said slowly, eying Derek with concern. “Maybe we should go take a look at the Jeep.”
“Let’s!” Stiles clapped. “Though are you working? You seem pretty dressy to be working right now.” He motioned Boyd’s appearance, since he was wearing a pair of nice dark jeans and a polo shirt.
“No, I came to make sure you walked out of here with all your body parts.” Boyd clapped him on the shoulder and turned him to make him walk towards the door. “Erica texted me and Peter would lament the death of his number one customer.”
“I know, right? Business would drop by at least thirty percent if I stopped coming in. Hey, have you spoken to him about the website?”
“You gotta let that go, man.”
Stiles tried to argue his point with Boyd while they headed out of the back and through the front. Erica was still on the phone, looking ready to brain herself, but she at least seemed relieved to see Stiles in one piece. That explained what he’d felt earlier when he’d gone into the back, she’d probably been trying to stop him upon remembering Derek was back there.
Guy sure had an interesting personality. No wonder he kept getting fired, he was just lucky Stiles was used to asshole-speak.
When they got outside, Stiles noticed Derek following them, and wondered if his curiosity had been piqued by their discussion about his Jeep. Stiles went to start it when Boyd asked him to, and the three of them listened to the pathetic sound the engine was making.
“This car is a piece of shit, you should scrap it and buy a new one,” Derek said while Stiles climbed back out of the Jeep, his arms crossed over his chest and scowl still on his face.
Seriously, did he have any other settings? Was there a remote or something Stiles could cycle through? Now he was honestly curious. Did his face get stuck like that as a child?
“Or,” Stiles said in response, “Boyd or Peter could just fix it, take my money, and we call it a day? That’s a thing that can happen, too. Don’t know that it’s your place to tell someone what they should do with their own car.”
“That’s literally what my job is,” Derek said with an unkind sneer. Jesus, this guy! He was trying for asshole of the year. “You bring in a car, I tell you what’s wrong with it. And I can tell you that everything is wrong with this car. Scrap it, get a new one.”
Stiles stared at him for a few seconds, then turned to Boyd. “So anyway, it started doing that halfway back from Sacramento yesterday, and I promise there’s no duct tape this time.”
“I can probably get to it tomorrow, if that’s okay,” Boyd said thoughtfully. “Kind of had plans today so—”
“No, no.” Stiles waved one hand at him. “Dude, no one has to be Peter here. If you can’t fix it until tomorrow, totally cool. I don’t need it right now anyway, I’ll just go steal Jackson’s ride and call it a day.”
“Sounds good.” Boyd paused. “About not needing it now, not the theft. I don’t condone stealing, just need to make that clear.”
“I’m not the cop in the family,” Stiles reminded him with a grin, handing over his keys. “Thanks Boyd. Tell Erica I owe her a lunch, she looks like she’s having a bad day.”
“Will do. Thanks for the unintentionally gifted coffee.”
“Thanks for saving my bacon.” Stiles patted his back once, then turned to grin at Derek. “Derek. A pleasure meeting you. I hope you manage to get it out relatively painlessly.”
That earned him the only other setting Derek’s face seemed to have, which was confusion. “Get what out?”
“That stick you have jammed so far up your ass. Don’t worry, you’ll get it out one day.” Stiles beamed at him, a veritable thundercloud of an expression crossing the Alpha’s features. “Have a good one!”
Stiles turned, waving one hand over his shoulder, and started for the police station to bribe Jackson out of his ride again.
He was starting to think maybe, just maybe, he should buy some kind of backup vehicle. Like a bike.
Maybe a scooter, he was too lazy to pedal.
Peter was still gone by the time Stiles went to pick up his Jeep, so he didn’t linger to chat. Boyd wasn’t working, and Erica was still in a bad mood, and Stiles didn’t hate himself enough to risk another round with Derek. Peter may threaten to rip his throat out with his teeth, but Derek seemed more like the type to actually do it without the courtesy of a warning.
Consequently, it was because of Derek that Erica was in such a bad mood. At least he was uniformly a dick and not targeting Stiles specifically, so that was encouraging. Still, made him feel bad for Erica, so he took her out to lunch after she was done ringing him through.
It took her twice as long as usual to do so, and Stiles realized it was because she was trying to do math in her head since Derek had charged him full price for everything instead of Peter’s usual discount. Stiles was kind of surprised to see the difference in price, and almost wanted to pay it because wow. Did he really get that much of a discount every time? That was nuts. Appreciated, but nuts.
Erica didn’t bother asking to go to lunch, she just called out to Derek that she was going to lunch and then followed Stiles out of the shop. They went to one of the cafés up the block for some sandwiches, Stiles paying because man was Erica in a bad mood.
“He’s such a fucking dick when he’s like this,” she insisted angrily, stabbing her straw rather aggressively into her iced coffee. Werewolves always did things aggressively, Stiles didn’t understand. To be fair, Erica seemed pretty ticked off. “Peter says he’ll mellow out a bit when his pride stops hurting so much, but until then, it’s bullshit we have to deal with this while Peter’s off hiding.”
Stiles arched an eyebrow. “Peter’s hiding?”
“Yeah.” Erica scoffed and pushed her drink a bit further away, leaning back in her seat and still looking sour. “As you know from Peter’s big mouth, Derek has trouble keeping a job because he acts like that.” She waved towards where the garage was down the street. “Apparently while between jobs, he managed to piss off his landlord at the wrong time and was served an eviction notice.”
“Wait, can you do that?” Stiles asked, surprised.
“Legally, as long as there’s a reason to kick someone out, yes. The landlord claimed he wanted to renovate it, so he has to follow through on that otherwise Derek can go back and sue. Either way, Derek being between jobs meant he couldn’t find a new place to live before he had to move out. Most places want assurances you can pay the rent by proving you’re employed, which he was not.” She leaned forward to pull her drink closer and started stabbing at it again, though less aggressively than a few moments ago. “Derek has money, he and Cora are just as well off as Peter is, but people still don’t like renting to someone who can’t prove that money won’t run out, especially somewhere as expensive as New York. So, he had no choice but to come back here until he figures something out.”
“Ah,” Stiles said, nodding in understanding. “Definitely a wounded pride thing, then. I take it he’s living with Peter?”
“He would be, if Peter wasn’t hiding.” Erica made an annoyed face then before sipping at her iced drink. “He basically told Boyd Derek was in charge and he was leaving town for a few days. It’s because he doesn’t want to deal with Derek when he’s like this, so he probably just booked a hotel somewhere. I understand, I’m still annoyed about it though. If we have to deal with this shitty attitude, why doesn’t Peter?”
That was a fair point, but then again, Erica didn’t have to live with him. If Peter had stuck around, he’d have been working and living with Derek, and any amount of time with this guy was a challenge.
Stiles was perfectly happy not having to deal with him ever again, which would have been fine, except he worked at the only garage in town. When Stiles asked Erica how long Derek was staying, the answer was not encouraging.
Basically, until he got his shit together. Lord only knew how long that would take, but Stiles knew Peter wouldn’t kick his nephew out, no matter how shitty of an attitude he had.
Lunch seemed to make Erica feel marginally better, so Stiles took it as a win and walked her back to the garage. Once she was back inside, already grumpy about it, Stiles went around to his Jeep and drove home.
He supposed a part of him could understand both Derek’s shitty attitude as well as his wounded pride, but it didn’t excuse anything. Jackson’s life hadn’t been all that great either, and while he was an asshole on the outside, he was still really nice in his own way on the inside.
He wasn’t the kind of person who’d hug and comfort someone who was sobbing hysterically, but Jackson was good at just making sure people knew they weren’t alone. He’d sit beside them, crowd them a little bit, try and make them realize they had someone there with them. A different kind of comfort, but comfort all the same.
Derek didn’t seem to be like that. He just seemed to be angry and resentful about virtually everything.
Stiles tried not to dwell on it too much while driving home, and tried really hard not to think about Derek Hale, but that was difficult when he tended to spend a lot of time at the garage with Peter. Now he had to call ahead to find out from Erica if Peter was back yet, and every time he called the answer was no. Stiles’ schedule meant he didn’t really have the ability to hang out with any of his other friends unless Jackson was on the night shift.
It made for a very boring few days, if he was honest.
Thankfully, Peter didn’t seem able to hide away for long. He had a garage to run, and while Stiles knew that Erica and Boyd—and in some respects, Derek—were all keeping it up and running, Peter basically did everything from the inventory to the orders to the books. He couldn’t stay away for long, or he’d have problems ensuring the place was still standing by the time he got back.
Stiles had heard from the start-up by then, and was thrilled to be able to use it as a means of bullying Peter into letting him please update his website. He doubted it would work, but he could always hope! After all, he’d been doing really well wearing him down over the years, so there was still the possibility of it actually working, for once.
When the phone was answered on the other end, Stiles waiting for Erica to tell him Peter still wasn’t there, he was really happy to hear said individual’s voice ring down the line. He’d basically just informed him he’d be right over, had received a rather annoyed demand to know what he’d done to his Jeep this time, and had promptly hung up on him.
Twenty minutes later, Stiles was parking his perfectly fine vehicle in the lot—thank you very much, Peter Hale—and hurried inside. Erica was sitting at the front, looking leagues happier than usual, and Stiles figured she’d either been on the other line or at lunch when he’d called given Peter was the one who’d answered.
Pushing into the back room, and looking around to make sure he didn’t walk into something he shouldn’t be, he saw Derek bent over to his left, digging through the hood of a car, presumably trying to find whatever he was attempting to fix.
Peter was standing by one of the machines Stiles didn’t really know much about, he just knew it was used to test tire rotation. Or something. He wasn’t sure, this wasn’t his trade, he just showed up for the company.
“Hey creeper, how’s your day been? Finally break out of jail after getting caught for all those men you murdered recently?”
Peter turned, and a delighted smile crossed his features, even though he’d just been bitching Stiles out on the phone about the Jeep. Stiles noticed movement from Derek out of the corner of his eye, but ignored him and continued forward towards Peter.
“Stiles! What a surprise!”
“I called ahead, it’s not really a surprise.”
“Well, I wasn’t sure you would come, given the company I’ve been keeping lately.” He motioned Derek off-hand, but neither of them looked over at the Alpha. He was probably scowling and grumpy about Stiles wandering around in the back again.
“Can’t say I’m surprised the company is as shitty as you are,” Stiles teased, moving to prop himself up on his usual stool. “How was your mini vacation?”
Artwork by Fae~
“Stressful, I was positive I’d come back to the place in shambles.” He moved over to where Stiles was, clearly interested in taking a break, likely to catch up since it had been days since they’d spoken. “I heard from Boyd that you made the old lady suffer again. What did we say about you driving her to Sacramento?”
“Okay, but it was for a good cause this time!” Stiles insisted, and proceeded to tell him all about the start-up and the interview he’d had. He also got to finish that off by telling him he’d officially gotten the job and would be starting in about two weeks. There were still a lot of things for people to finalize on the business side before Stiles would have his first virtual meeting with his new team, but he’d signed the contract and everything so it was official.
Peter seemed happy about it, but probably also a little bit disappointed since it meant less visits during the day. Stiles promised he wouldn’t neglect him, which Peter just snorted about and commented that with the way Stiles was treating his car lately, he didn’t worry about never seeing Stiles again.
That was harsh, but Stiles conceded his point.
They’d only just started talking about Peter’s time off, since he’d apparently gone to see his daughter for a few days, when Derek wandered over to the workbench and threw a tool down onto it so hard that Stiles actually jumped before turning to him.
Derek’s hands were covered in grease, and he had a smear of it across his forehead, like he’d been trying to get sweat out of his eyes and forgotten his hands were dirty. He pulled a dirty rag from his back pocket and began wiping his hands off on it. Stiles was pretty sure the rag was so dirty that all it was doing was smear the grease around as opposed to actually removing it.
“Why do you let him back here? He’s a liability. If something happens to him, you’re gonna get sued.”
“I’m well aware of the risks,” Peter said pleasantly, but his smile was all teeth. “As is Stiles. And as you said, I’m going to get sued, not you. You have nothing to worry about, so don’t concern yourself with something of little importance to you personally.”
“It’s stupid, reckless, and an unnecessary risk,” Derek snapped.
“Your opinion on the matter has been duly noted.”
“He’s a distraction!” Derek insisted, as if he thought arguing enough would have Peter cave.
Stiles felt like Derek must not have known his uncle very well, because the guy was stubborn. Like, so, so stubborn! He’d been trying for two years to get him to allow him to re-do his website and was only just now wearing him down. If he thought he was going to convince his uncle to kick Stiles out after just one argument, that was actually laughable.
“If you find him so distracting, perhaps you should stop looking at him. That would solve the problem.”
Stiles scowled, because he didn’t think he warranted the absolutely disgusted look that crossed Derek’s features then. Okay, so he wasn’t a model or anything, not like everyone could be a Derek Hale, but Stiles was good looking! Stiles was, dare he say, handsome. He had some things going for him, he knew he was cute and could get some with the ladies.
And the gents, he wasn’t picky.
To have Derek react like he was a piece of trash he’d found floating through a polluted river was actually kind of insulting. Just because the guy knew he had a pretty face didn’t give him the right to assume everyone else was beneath him. What a dick.
“I see it’s still there,” Stiles said before Derek could retort.
That had the Alpha turning to him sharply, eyes flashing red briefly and nostrils flaring, like he was trying for patience. “What?” he asked.
Stiles motioned him. “That stick up your ass. I assumed you’d gotten it out since I saw you bent over the car earlier, but looks like that spine of your is still ramrod straight from the stick shoved up in there.”
Peter exploded into laughter at that, but Derek just looked like he was trying to figure out how to murder both of them while making it look like an accident. Or maybe like he and Peter had attacked one another. Good thing Erica was here as a witness, Stiles doubted Derek could kill all three of them.
“You must think you’re so funny,” Derek said darkly while Peter continued his attempted hyena impression.
“I happen to know for a fact I am hilarious.” Stiles motioned Peter, as if to prove his point. “Where’s the remote, by the way?”
“What?” Derek asked again, sounding even more aggressive than a moment ago.
“The one that controls the settings for your face.” Stiles motioned his own face. “So far I’ve seen anger and confusion. Well, I guess and disgust, but you still looked angry while doing it so I don’t know if that even counts. What other settings do you have? Tired? Scared? Happy? Do you have happy? Do you know how to smile? Does your face have a smile setting?”
He was actually getting a little concerned about Peter, it sounded like he was going to pass out with the wheezing from all the laughter.
Stiles couldn’t help jumping slightly when Derek was suddenly right there, in his space, one hand fisting the front of his shirt. He didn’t do anything, didn’t even shove him, or wrench him to his feet. Certainly didn’t punch him, because Stiles was pretty sure he’d be dead if he got punched in the face by a Werewolf.
He literally just grabbed the front of his shirt, making Stiles jump out of surprise, and shifted his face closer.
“Do you have a mute button?” he hissed right in it.
“No,” Stiles replied, which had some of the anger bleed off Derek’s face. He just looked a little confused again. It was subtle, buried beneath the lines of frustration and contempt on his face, but the confusion was still there. “My dad wishes I did too sometimes, but alas, no mute button. But hey, at least he’s never bored.”
Derek was staring at him like he didn’t understand the way his brain worked. To be fair, no one understood how Stiles’ brain worked, least of all Stiles, so if Derek figured it out, he really hoped he shared that knowledge. It would be good knowledge to have.
Peter moved up beside them, one hand moving to wrap around Derek’s wrist. Not tight enough to hurt, but enough to be a warning. Derek might have been an Alpha, but Stiles was willing to bet Peter had a lot more experience in a fight given the age difference.
Derek seemed to weigh his options before releasing Stiles’ shirt, giving him a little shove back while doing so, making his back hit against the workbench.
“Ow,” Stiles insisted emphatically while Derek wrenched his wrist free from his uncle’s grip and turned to stalk back towards the car he’d been working on. “That was rude,” he called after him.
“If your car doesn’t need fixing, what are you even doing here?” Derek snapped, turning back to him halfway there, like he couldn’t handle not having the last word.
Joke was on him, Stiles could do this for days.
“Enjoying the absolute baller company, couldn’t you tell?” Stiles motioned between himself and Peter. “We’ve got a bond. We’re practically best friends, surprised Peter hasn’t given me a friendship bracelet yet.”
“It’s not finished,” Peter said, sounding amused.
“Take your time, buddy.” Stiles slapped his arm lightly, offering him a smirk. It looked like Peter hadn’t had this much fun in years.
“You’re an unnecessary distraction and it’s going to take us twice as long to finish up all the cars in this stupid place if you don’t leave!”
“You guys barely have enough business as it is, the idea that you’re worried about falling behind in your work is kind of hilarious. Although,” Stiles said, stretching out the last word and looking back at Peter, “I could change that with a few hours and a laptop. If you would just—”
“No,” Peter said, still smiling jovially at him.
Stiles let out a loud whine, sagging back against the workbench. “You’re killing me here! Do you know how much more business you’d be getting if you just let me spruce it up even a little bit? I mean, you mention restorations in one sentence, and you don’t even have any examples of the work you’ve done! Nobody’s ever gonna know to come here, just let me—”
“And who’ll work on your Jeep when we’re overwhelmed with business?” Peter asked, returning to his usual argument on the matter.
“That car is a piece of shit,” Derek said, joining the conversation uninvited.
Stiles turned to him. “Thanks for your unwanted opinion, so’s your face, but you don’t hear me harping on about it every five minutes.”
Derek looked startled at the insult—oh nice, a new setting for his face!—and then livid. Peter just let out another loud bark of a laugh, and seemed to be having the absolute time of his life. Stiles just stared Derek down, neither of them willing to look away first.
Stiles knew it was stupid to stare down a Werewolf, especially an Alpha Werewolf, but he couldn’t help it. Consequence of growing up with an asshole Werewolf meant he was really, really good at pushing buttons and winning any and all staring contests.
Derek seemed to recognize that, because he turned away first and finished stalking back over to the car he’d been working on, then seemed to realize he’d left his tools at the workbench behind Stiles and had to stomp back over to grab what he’d originally wandered over for to begin with.
“That car is garbage, and you can hear it coming from a mile away,” Derek hissed at Stiles when he’d reached the workbench once more, grabbing what he needed without taking his eyes off Stiles. “The next time it comes in here, I’m taking it apart for scraps and will pay you the difference myself.”
It was obvious Derek knew he’d hit a bit too close to home on that, because Stiles’ chest clenched at the thought that maybe this Alpha Werewolf was just pissed off enough to take it out on his Jeep. The idea that someone might legitimately take the Jeep apart and he’d never see it again, that he’d lose the last piece of his mother he had left, was enough to wipe the smarmy smirk right off Stiles’ face and almost warrant a panic attack.
Derek didn’t even have the luxury of looking smug about the reaction, because the second he’d said the words and Stiles’ body betrayed his panic, the other man just looked confused, and Peter sobered instantly from his hyena impression.
“The Jeep is his Camaro,” he said coldly to his nephew.
Derek’s head snapped to his uncle at those words, then turned back to Stiles, who was gripping the seat of the stool he was on tightly with both hands. He knew Peter would never let Derek take the Jeep apart, and he knew that even if Derek managed it, Peter would just put it all back together for him.
There was absolutely no risk to his car whatsoever, but that didn’t stop the panic from manifesting, and Stiles felt like it would take a while for it to dissipate.
Derek stared at him for a moment longer, muttered something about getting back to work before Peter screwed them both over financially, and then headed back for the car he’d been working on with his tools.
Peter watched him go with an annoyed look on his face, but then tried to return to his usual sarcastic self, coaxing Stiles back out of his panic. It took some doing, but eventually he managed to get back to some semblance of normal, and they had their usual catch up banter while Peter worked, telling him all about his trip with his daughter.
Stiles didn’t stick around as long as he normally would, and he went out one of the open bay doors when he left instead of having to pass back by Derek to get into the front. He still went back around to ask Erica to lunch, but she was going with Boyd in about an hour, so he bid her a good day and left to bug his dad and brother to see if they’d eaten yet.
He felt like Derek’s appearance was going to make it really difficult to convince himself to visit Peter anymore.
Predictably, Stiles didn’t visit as often as he normally would have. He still saw Erica and Boyd whenever they hung out outside of work, but he hadn’t really seen much of Peter. Derek’s new job made Stiles feel less inclined to drop in like he normally would.
To be fair, it wasn’t just Derek. He’d also gotten a slew of new jobs out of the blue—he assumed it had something to do with his new position with the start-up—so that had been keeping him busy for the most part. Then his new job actually started and he got to spend hours a day arguing with people about the setup and layout of the website.
Working with a team was kind of frustrating, because everyone had their own opinions about how things should look, finding a compromise was borderline impossible. Stiles felt like they did nothing the first two days because of all the in-fighting, and he so badly wished he’d just been hired for the overall design as a temporary job so he could build up the website and then leave. Working here was going to be a fucking pain in the ass.
Thankfully, by the second week of work, they’d kind of gotten the hierarchy of the group laid out, and while Stiles wasn’t at the top, he was still fairly high up there, which was encouraging given he seemed to be one of the people with the least number of years working in this particular field. That, and the top guy on their team really liked a lot of his ideas, so it was working out for him.
That second Friday seemed to take forever to come, because Stiles really wasn’t used to having a set schedule, and he missed the freedom of his usual lifestyle where he could work whenever he wanted. It sounded like once everything was up and running, they would just have to put in a specific number of hours a week, but right now the boss seemed to want them all on the same work schedule to make sure things ran smoothly up until they went live.
Stiles felt like he deserved a treat on Friday, so he went to drag Jackson out of his own apartment five minutes away and the two of them went out to dinner together. There weren’t many places to eat in a town like Beacon Hills, but neither of them wanted to leave just for food so they settled for the restaurant that was three blocks from the police station. Parking was atrocious there, so they’d both driven to the precinct and parked in the visitor’s lot.
At this hour it was virtually empty, and everyone knew what Stiles’ car looked like so he wasn’t at risk of being towed. Jackson might get towed, but that would just end up being funny when he went to pick it up. Peter would probably laugh himself unconscious, at the rate he was going with his attempts to turn into a hyena.
“How’s work been panning out?” Jackson asked, sipping at his beer as if it would do anything for him. Stiles still didn’t understand why Jackson drank beer when he didn’t have the added bonus of getting drunk off it. Beer was not good enough to drink without the promise of inebriation.
“It’s slowly moving along now, thank God. I was literally thinking that if this didn’t start coming together soon I might bail.” Stiles shrugged, playing with the straw in his glass of Coke. “It’s cool and all, having a real job with this degree, but working on a team is frustrating. Everyone thinks their idea is better than everyone else’s, and literally no one seems willing to compromise. I spent the whole first week compromising and it got me nowhere. Thankfully things are starting to fall into place and we’re getting some actual work done.”
“That’s good.” Jackson sipped his drink again. “You don’t come bother me as much anymore, so I hope you keep this job for the rest of time.”
Stiles threw the balled up paper cover his straw had come in at his brother, and just got a smarmy smirk in return. He knew Jackson was just teasing him, but it was really hard having a job like this. Stiles had always been able to do his own thing, and he found he missed the ability to just get up halfway through a project when it wasn’t cooperating and go out for a drive, or to the station, or to the garage, or literally anywhere else.
Now whenever he got frustrated, he had to pace in his apartment for a few minutes before going back to his desk. It wasn’t ideal, but he supposed this was how everyone else lived their lives, so he’d deal with it.
Though to be fair, everyone else didn’t have ADHD so he had a bit of a disadvantage where that was concerned. Still, he made it work, and he was two weeks in, so he’d take it.
They talked about work for a little bit, Stiles telling Jackson about the other jobs he’d gotten on the side—one was for a kid’s toys website and he had gotten distracted with that one because toys were amazing—and Jackson giving him all the juicy precinct gossip their dad always kept to himself.
Jackson couldn’t tell him about the cases he worked on, which was fine because Stiles understood even if his curiosity sobbed hysterically in the corner of his brain, but he was always willing to share gossip.
Nothing terribly exciting seemed to have come up lately, which was disappointing, but Stiles still really liked hearing about the dumb shit that went down. Apparently Haigh had gotten pulled over in the neighbouring county for speeding, and while cops usually let other cops off with a warning, apparently he’d hit this particular cop on a bad day because he got a ticket for speeding, and another for being an asshole.
Stiles found great joy in this information because Haigh was a dick.
“You talk to Satomi lately?” Stiles asked when their dinner was finished and they were waiting on their leftovers and the bill.
Well, Stiles was waiting on his leftovers, Jackson was a garburator and just ate everything in sight. Werewolf metabolism and all that.
“Not really,” Jackson admitted. “Still not completely sold on her pack. Kind of happy being my own person, and hers seems a little overbearing.” He made a face. “They have mandatory pack dinners once a week. I don’t even have dinner with you and dad once a week, I’m not gonna drive out of town to have dinner with a bunch of strangers.”
Stiles hummed his understanding, but didn’t say anything else about it.
Jackson had been packless ever since he’d become a Werewolf. While they weren’t required to belong to a pack, strictly speaking being an Omega was frowned upon. Being a minor and an Omega was more understandable, because most kids wanted to just stick close to their parents and find comfort there, but ever since Jackson had reached legal age, he’d been getting occasional letters from the government asking him if he’d registered with a pack yet.
It wasn’t mandatory, it was just best practice and Jackson would keep getting the letters up until he finally joined one.
Apparently they’d been bugging him a lot the past year and a half so he’d slowly started to look around for a pack to join. There were a few of them that had popped up in Beacon County over the years, but Jackson had been a lone wolf for so long that he didn’t like a lot of what the other packs had to offer.
Most of them were like Satomi Ito’s pack in the neighbouring town. Close and constantly up in each other’s business. Jackson had originally been thinking about joining her pack, since she was the one who’d been kind enough to help him when he’d been newly turned, but there was just too much involvement in each other’s lives.
He was still looking, but he always inevitably circled back around to Satomi every couple of months, like he was still trying to weigh the pros and cons. She was a patient woman though, and would never force him into it. If Jackson went back to her thirty, forty times saying he was thinking of joining, she would welcome him with open arms every time.
It made Stiles think about the Hale pack while he listened to Jackson mutter about the Alphas in the immediate area. Derek hadn’t been back in town since he’d graduated, so he’d never been someone on Jackson’s radar before.
But realistically, he was kind of the ideal Alpha for someone like Jackson. He was an Alpha, and he had a pack, and he presumably kept up to date on how they were, but he didn’t coddle. He wasn’t overbearing, or involved, or even really present. If Jackson could get past how much of an asshole he was, and Derek was actually willing to take on another Beta, that would be the perfect pack for him.
Jackson already knew Boyd, Erica, Isaac and Peter, and he wouldn’t have to worry about making friendly with his Alpha since Derek seemed keen on getting the fuck out of ‘the boonies,’ as he so often liked to call Beacon Hills.
Stiles figured he’d talk to Boyd or Peter about it before mentioning anything to Jackson. He knew Derek was back in town, but he likely hadn’t actually considered or even remembered that Derek was an Alpha. Stiles didn’t want to say anything in case Derek wasn’t looking for any more Betas.
Then again, he might reject Jackson out of spite since he seemed hellbent on hating Stiles. Finding out Jackson was his brother, adopted or not, meant Jackson’s chances at being accepted into his pack were pretty slim.
When they’d paid and Stiles got his leftovers, they both headed out and started the slow walk back towards the precinct to pick up their cars, Jackson starting to bitch about how annoying a lovesick Parrish was. Stiles didn’t say anything about it, because he couldn’t imagine Jordan Parrish as lovesick, but he let Jackson vent about it anyway.
His brother listened to him bitch about code he didn’t understand, so Stiles listened to Jackson in turn.
When they were passing by the garage, Stiles paused when he noticed that the lights were on in the back. The front was dark and both bay doors were closed, but the windows inlaid high up in the bay doors were both glowing brightly, suggesting someone was there.
Stiles perked up at the thought that maybe he could go in and talk to Peter, maybe catch him in a good mood so he could work on his website and give his brain a break over the weekend from stupid things. One of his jobs right now was for a porn shop, and it wasn’t as exciting as he’d originally been hoping because the client was annoying. Really demanding, very rude, and just all around frustrating. Having another project on the side would be a relief.
“Hey, I’m gonna go see if I can catch up with Peter,” Stiles said when there was a lull in conversation. “Do you mind?”
“You know half the precinct thinks he’s your sugar daddy, right?” Jackson smirked at him. “Guy’s almost as old as dad, didn’t know you were into DILFs.”
“Hey man, if the guy’s hot and loaded, why the fuck not, right?” Stiles teased back and winked at him.
Jackson made a disgusted face and shoved at him to get him to just go before he scarred him. Stiles laughed while turning so he could head back for the crosswalk, though he did wonder if that was true.
He spent a lot of time with Peter, but no more than with anyone else in his life. He hung out at the station sometimes too, but it was harder to spend the day chatting with his dad or Jackson the way it was with Peter. His family had to actually focus on what they were doing.
Not that Peter didn’t have to focus, but it seemed to be much easier to talk and fix a car then it was to talk and file a report at the same time. Jackson called him sometimes when he was bored on patrol, and they could chat then without too much trouble, but if he was at the precinct, he was usually doing paperwork or looking into something. His dad, as well.
It was easy to talk to Peter or Boyd, or even Erica. Their jobs allowed for them to carry on a conversation while they worked.
Still, he had to wonder if people truly did think Peter was his sugar daddy. He definitely wasn’t, but Stiles wouldn’t be embarrassed admitting he was a good friend. He and Peter had a weird friendship, but he’d only really gotten to know him because the guy actually gave a shit about him. He cared about Stiles, and he understood how important his car was to him. Peter was a nice guy, he just took some getting used to.
Stiles had a lot of practice with assholes—Jackson, Lydia Martin, his dad though he was more of a sarcastic jerk than an asshole, but still! Peter was just another form of asshole for him to check off on his master list of assholes he’d managed to convince to befriend him.
When the light changed for him to cross, he idly wondered if Peter had eaten given he might not have if he was burning the midnight oil. Not that it was midnight, it was only nine, but still. Way later than he usually stuck around, the latest Stiles had ever caught him out here was eight. He wondered what he was doing, considering there was only one car in the lot, so they definitely weren’t overwhelmed with business.
One day, but only when the stubborn ass let Stiles have access to his stupid website! Seriously, at this point, he was starting to feel tempted to just buy a domain and create one from scratch himself. Peter couldn’t stop him! He just didn’t want to because he didn’t want to piss him off. Peter had his pride, as did everyone else, so Stiles would just keep battering away at the castle doors until he finally broke through.
Peter had to cave eventually, right?
Stiles walked around the side of the building towards the darkened front door, knowing Peter would hear him if he knocked loudly enough. He didn’t end up having to, because when he reached the door and had raised his hand to knock, he noticed the door wasn’t latched.
The lights were off and the ‘closed’ sign was clearly displayed, but it looked like Peter had forgotten to lock the door. That or the last person out hadn’t closed it firmly behind them.
Pushing through the door, Stiles shut it behind him firmly, making sure it was actually closed, and then locked it for good measure. Peter could come lock up behind him when he left, if he didn’t just end up staying up until Peter decided to call it quits.
When he made his way through the swinging back door, he paused at the realization that the music he heard blaring wasn’t Peter’s usual twangy country tunes. It was hard rock, same as it had been the first time Stiles had ever walked in and met Derek.
That meant it was Derek hanging out in the garage after hours, not Peter. That was disappointing, and Stiles had just turned to leave when he caught sight of the man across the open space.
He was bent over in front of a black car, head buried beneath the hood with a blue rag hanging from the back pocket of his jeans and a table full of tools right beside the car. He probably hadn’t heard Stiles come in over the truly ear-shattering volume of the music—seriously, he was a Werewolf, how the hell weren’t his ears bleeding?
Just when Stiles had been planning on turning away to make a hasty retreat before Grumpy McMurderface spotted him, Derek let out an angry curse, straightened from his bent over position, and hurled what looked like a socket wrench across the garage. He kicked at a stool that had been set beside the table he was using and then ran both hands through his hair, locking his fingers together at the back of his head and breathing hard.
Stiles couldn’t hear him breathing hard, but he could tell that he was based on the movement of his shoulders.
Evidently things weren’t going well, and Derek was getting frustrated. Stiles had a second to assume it was about the problem with the car itself when he realized the car he was looking at was a Camaro.
Peter often spoke about Laura Hale’s Camaro, which now belonged to Derek. Stiles suddenly wondered if it had crapped out and Derek was trying to fix it, with no success.
He knew that day would come for his Jeep. Eventually, one way or another, the Jeep was going to die on him. He knew he should probably have the whole thing taken apart and rebuilt, and he would probably do that eventually, get a new engine, replace all the old parts, the works. For now though, until he had no choice, he was happy to get it fixed over and over again until it was no longer possible.
It just wouldn’t be the same car anymore, and he felt like Derek was probably of the same mind about his Camaro.
Before Stiles could turn and leave so that Derek could be left alone to his work, the Alpha ended up turning away from the car in frustration, starting to stalk across the floor to the far workbench when he froze, eyes catching on Stiles.
They stared at each other for a few seconds before Derek turned back to the table beside the car and he picked something up. For a brief moment, Stiles actually worried it was a tool he was about to hurl at his head, but when he lifted his hand, he wasn’t even looking at Stiles, aiming something across the garage.
When the music cut out, Stiles realized it was the remote for the stereo.
Derek turned to him then, letting his arm fall to his side, still holding the remote control. The garage was almost deafeningly silent now that the loud music was cut off so abruptly. To his credit, Derek had good taste in music, Stiles had actually been enjoying the song before it was interrupted.
“What are you doing here?”
The words were rude, but he’d come to expect rudeness from Derek by this point. They were a lot less hostile than the last time they’d spoken though, and while he looked frustrated and annoyed, Stiles honestly couldn’t tell if it was about his presence or the car.
“I was looking for Peter,” he said honestly.
“He’s not here.” Derek turned to toss the remote on the table before stalking around the car to go collect the socket wrench he’d hurled at the wall.
“Yeah, I can see that.” Stiles moved forward slowly, cautiously. There was only one other car in the garage. It was up on the lift, though the machine had been lowered to the ground for the night, which made sense since there was no point in having the machine work for nothing. Besides that, just the Camaro.
He moved closer to the black car, but stayed reasonably far from it in case Derek went feral and mauled him for touching his baby. He was a Werewolf, and they were territorial. It wouldn’t surprise Stiles to have Derek attack him if he got too close to something of importance to him.
Derek wandered back over to the front of the car, eying Stiles for a few seconds like he was debating whether or not he was safe, then seemed to decide he was harmless because he turned his back on him and went back to work beneath the hood.
“What are you still doing here, then? Like I said, Peter’s not here.”
Stiles shrugged, taking a cautious step forward and moving wide around Derek so he could stand by the table of tools instead. He realized once he got closer that it was on wheels, so it was probably something he could wheel around for easier access to the tools he needed. Stiles could imagine wearing some kind of utility belt while getting all up into a car’s business might be annoying, which probably explained why he’d never seen any of the mechanics using one.
“Is this your car?” he asked instead of answering Derek’s question. He moved around the table so that he was in Derek’s line of sight, figuring he might appreciate that more. Even if he didn’t find Stiles to be a threat, he probably wouldn’t like having him lingering behind his back.
“What does it matter?” Derek asked, Stiles’ eyes unintentionally focussing on the bulging muscles of his arms. He was wearing a tight black shirt, and it looked like the seams of the sleeves were struggling to keep all those muscles back. He was liable to split them.
“I can’t ask a question?” Stiles asked.
“As I understand it, you don’t have a mute button, so I’d imagine you can ask many questions.”
“Why does everything have to be a fight with you?” Stiles asked, sighing in exasperation. “Isn’t it exhausting being this angry all the time? Why can’t we just have a normal conversation?”
Derek’s gaze rose then, and he paused in what he was doing, giving Stiles his full attention when he said, “I don’t like people who try to use me to get what they want.”
“I’m using you?” Stiles asked incredulously, motioning himself with his free hand, the other still holding his takeout leftovers. “How? I don’t even know you!”
“I work here, and you’ve already managed to convince my uncle and Boyd to give you discounts. Don’t think you’ll get the same courtesy from me.” He focussed back on what he was doing and started aggressively twisting the socket wrench. Always with the aggression with Werewolves.
“You think I convinced your uncle to give me a discount?” Stiles asked on a half-laugh. “Dude, I can’t even convince him to let me redo this place’s website for free, and you think I managed to talk my way into a discount? You’re fucking delusional, and hilarious. You’re his nephew, you should know better than anyone that Peter only does what Peter wants. I had nothing to do with those discounts.”
“Really?” Derek asked, straightening and crossing his arms, socket wrench in one hand. “Then I can go ring you up for the last job that I did on your stupid car, and you’ll pay full price?”
Stiles stared at him for a few seconds, then wordlessly reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. “If your machine’s still working, go for it, I only have my debit card on me.”
Derek tossed the socket wrench on the table and turned to stalk back towards the swinging door. Stiles just followed him, because if Derek wanted to charge him full price, he wasn’t going to argue. He’d been getting discounts from Peter for fucking years, and yet somehow was still referred to as the only reason they were still in business. Stiles found that hard to believe when Peter was literally missing out on hundreds of dollars per visit.
Stiles moved around the counter while Derek got the computer out of sleep mode, having slapped at the light switch to turn it on so the front was illuminated. Setting his food on the counter, Stiles noticed Derek’s eyes shift to it, nostrils flaring before he focussed back on the computer. He pulled his debit card out while he waited on Derek to find the last record for Stiles’ car.
He typed away for a few seconds, the sound of his fingers hitting the keys and the mouse clicking loud in the silence of the front entrance at this hour. It seemed to take forever for Derek to get the formal receipt to print, but eventually the printer started whirring, trying to come out of sleep mode, and they both stood there waiting for it to print.
Derek was standing ramrod straight with his arms crossed, eyes on the printer while it warmed up. Stiles just slouched forward against the counter, tapping his debit card absently against it. Finally, a page was sucked into the printer and then spat back out with an amount on it. Derek snatched it up and slapped it down in front of Stiles while grabbing for the card machine.
Stiles pulled it closer to inspect it, but frowned when he noticed the amount. When Derek held out the card machine, Stiles looked up at him.
“This is the wrong amount.”
Derek’s expression shifted, like he wanted to smile. Like he was two seconds away from saying, “I knew it!” and being a huge dick again.
The look disappeared when Stiles motioned the receipt.
“Erica took three hundred off this service, not two hundred. And you missed adding back the oil change since I noticed she took that off the last one. You missed about one-seventy.” He turned the receipt around and pushed it back towards him.
Derek stared at him for an exceptionally long time before he pulled the receipt back and flipped it around to look at it. For a moment, he didn’t move, and Stiles wondered what was going through his brain. Eventually, he seemed to snap himself out of whatever weird trance he was in and he shredded the receipt before typing away at the computer again.
Stiles just waited, seeing Derek’s eyes shifting up to look at him every few seconds through his eyelashes, like he was hoping Stiles wouldn’t notice.
He noticed. He just didn’t say anything.
When the second receipt spat out, Stiles pulled it over when Derek set it down, less violently this time. He couldn’t be entirely sure it was right, since he only vaguely recalled the original price of his visit before Erica had cut it down, but it was probably close enough, so he waited for Derek to hand over the card machine and paid the balance.
When the card machine’s receipt printed, Derek seemed not to know what to do with himself. He got all weird and awkward, ripping the receipt off the machine and filing it in the till, then staring when the cardholder’s copy printed. After a brief pause before ripping that one off as well, he hesitated for a long while, staring at the paper receipt in front of Stiles. Eventually, he reached out for it, and then stapled the machine’s receipt to the paper copy before handing them both back to Stiles.
Stiles took it with a nod of thanks and folded it up, shoving it into his wallet and replacing his debit card. When he looked back up, he noticed Derek’s eyes had skirted to his food again.
“Did you eat?”
Derek’s gaze shot back to him, scowl back in place. “What?”
“I didn’t feel like it was a difficult question to understand. Did you eat?” he asked again.
Stiles just rolled his eyes and didn’t bother dignifying that with a response, motioning the food while turning to head for the door.
“It’s all yours if you like Fettuccine Alfredo with grilled chicken. If not, just throw it out, makes no difference to me. Lock up behind me, yeah? Otherwise anyone can just wander in and bother your grumpy ass.”
Derek didn’t have time to say anything else before Stiles left the shop, shutting the door firmly behind him to make sure it actually closed this time.
He didn’t know if Derek locked up behind him. He didn’t know if Derek actually ate that food, or if he just stubbornly starved himself. All he knew was that guy had a huge chip on his shoulder, and Stiles was getting really tired of ticking off all the different kinds of assholes in his life on his master checklist.
There had to be a limit somewhere, right?
Stiles didn’t go back to the garage again after his nightly visit with Derek. He still saw Boyd and Erica outside work, and had run into Peter while out and about a few times, but he made a point to stay away from the garage.
He hated that it made him feel like he’d let Derek win some kind of silent war they’d been fighting, but he tried not to let it bother him. Anything was better than dealing with that grumpy motherfucker, at this point.
Sadly, he woke up on Saturday morning to a reminder in his calendar that it was time for his car’s checkup. He kind of wanted to just not go, because he’d had a really bad week at work, and wasn’t really in the mood to deal with an asshole right now, but he couldn’t do that to his baby. Asshole or not, Roscoe needed a checkup to say running and healthy, so he’d put up with it and just pray he wasn’t working today or something.
He definitely dragged his feet and took his time getting dressed and having breakfast, but eventually he couldn’t procrastinate any longer and left the house. It was hot and muggy outside, which was doing nothing for his mood, and when he tried to roll down the window, the crank stuck and wouldn’t budge, so he was stuck driving in a swelteringly hot car on an insanely hot day.
Definitely not a good day for him.
When he reached the shop, he parked in his usual spot, since no one ever seemed to park there, and then went inside. The front was empty, meaning Erica either wasn’t working or was at lunch. Given the time, it was more likely to be the latter.
Pushing through the door into the back and looking around, he found Peter at the far wall with the phone at his ear, the music having been turned off while he wrote on a notepad affixed to the wall.
Stiles was more than happy to wait for him, but apparently Derek was working today because Stiles saw him move out from behind one of the cars to his left, wiping his hands on a rag and eying him with interest.
Well, if nothing else, that was a new setting for his face.
“You here for Peter?”
Wow, an actual sentence without any animosity, Stiles wondered if he’d woken up in another dimension. He also wondered if being nice had hurt Derek. Like, was he bleeding somewhere now because he’d actually said something relatively polite? Stiles hadn’t known he could be polite.
“Checkup,” Stiles replied shortly, because he really wasn’t in the mood for an asshole right now.
Derek turned to look at Peter, then glanced at Stiles again, shoving his rag into his back pocket and moving closer. He was wearing dark jeans and a white shirt today, which seemed like a stupid thing to wear when he worked with cars. Peter always had his worksuit on to avoid ruining his clothes, but Derek didn’t seem to care so much about that.
Maybe the worksuit made him feel like he wasn’t pretty enough anymore so he’d rather ruin his clothes instead.
“Peter’s gonna be a while. There’s a problem with our vendor. I can bring your Jeep in.”
It was so, so tempting to tell Derek to go fuck himself and that he’d wait on Peter in case the asshole decided to take his Jeep apart. The only reason he didn’t was because he could tell how uncomfortable Derek was. All his muscles were tensed up, like he was waiting for Stiles to say exactly that. That he’d rather wait for Peter, that he didn’t want Derek touching his car, that thank you, but no thank you.
Stiles didn’t know what had changed between their last encounter and today, whether he’d gotten chewed out by Peter, or he’d actually realized Stiles wasn’t doing anything to gain any favours, but Derek actually seemed to be trying for once. Stiles wouldn’t be a dick and throw it back in his face.
“Sure. I left it out front.” Stiles thumbed over his shoulder and then turned to lead the way out. He could hear Derek’s footsteps following a few paces back, and when Stiles pushed open the swinging door, he held it for him, only letting go when he was sure Derek had grabbed it himself.
Leading the way out, Stiles walked over to his Jeep, motioning it unnecessarily while Derek moved up beside it.
“Just a regular service, then?” Derek asked, eying the Jeep before turning to glance at Stiles.
He hesitated, but if the car was going to be in the shop, he might as well fix the issue with it. He didn’t want to drive around during the summer with a bummed window, especially since the air conditioning in the Jeep hadn’t worked since—well, forever.
Besides, it ate up gas, so Stiles didn’t let it bother him.
“The window’s actually sticking. It wouldn’t roll down today.”
Derek turned back to the car, glanced at Stiles in a, “May I?” sort of way, then opened the driver’s side door when Stiles motioned for him to go for it. Derek held the door with one hand and tried to crank the roller, but it wouldn’t budge.
“I’ll take a look at it,” he said, somewhat awkwardly.
This whole fucking encounter was awkward.
“Thanks. Just add it to my bill. The full bill, for the checkup and the labour and everything.”
“Right,” Derek said uncomfortably, still staring at Stiles’ window as opposed to at him.
Stiles dug his keys out of his pocket, pulling the Jeep’s off the ring and holding it out to Derek. “Do you know how long it’ll take? Or you can just call me when it’s ready to be picked up.”
“Window’s going to take a bit, but it should be done by tomorrow,” Derek said, reaching out for the key but still not looking at him. “We’re not drowning in work or anything.”
“Okay. Well, just give me a call if you need more time with her. Otherwise I’ll swing by before close tomorrow.”
They stood in awkward silence for a few moments, then Stiles clapped his hands together and thumbed over his shoulder. “Right, well, I’m gonna go. So uh, thanks. I’ll be back tomorrow.”
When Derek didn’t say anything else, Stiles took it as his cue to leave and turned to head for the sidewalk so he could go bug someone for a ride home. Jackson wasn’t working today, so he couldn’t grab his car, but maybe his dad could give him a ride back. Or Parrish, if he was about to go on patrol. He could just swing around to bring Stiles back to his place before continuing on his merry way.
Fuck, he’d even take Haigh, he wasn’t picky, it was still hot as shit.
Stiles turned at the callout, hands in his pockets. Derek still hadn’t moved, standing beside the Jeep’s open door with the key in his hands, but he was looking over at Stiles now.
“Did you mean it? What you said.” At Stiles’ arched eyebrow, Derek added, “About the website. About getting us more business in restoration.”
Turning back to him fully, Stiles moved back towards him a few steps, mostly so he would be able to hear him better since the road behind him had cars going by fairly regularly, what with it being mid-day on a Saturday and this being a main road.
“I mean, I can’t control the flow of jobs or anything, but having a more robust website would probably help. I know some vendors check out people’s websites when new relationships are being forged, so having a good one might also get some new contacts.” Stiles shrugged. “Peter won’t go for it, though.”
Derek nodded slowly, listening to Stiles while he spoke, then said, “I’ll talk to Peter.”
“Good luck, I’ve been trying for two years.”
“How much would you charge?” Derek asked, somewhat stiffly. “For the website.”
“I wouldn’t. I already told Peter I’d do it for free, not about to change my mind now. I’d just need access to the domain and some pictures of restorations he’s done. I know he’s got a few, and the more examples I have, the better the website.” Stiles shrugged. “I have ideas on the layout, and I think it’d be really fun.”
“If you were to change your mind,” Derek pressed. “About the charge. How much would it be?”
“I won’t,” Stiles insisted. “This is something I want to do for Peter, so nothing’s going to change my mind on the price. Not even your prickly personality.” He offered him a half-smile, walking backwards with his hands in his pockets. “You get Peter to agree, and I’ll do the website, no strings attached. If anything, you’ll be doing me a favour.”
Derek scowled, like he still wanted a price, but Stiles wouldn’t give him one. After everything Peter had done for him over the years, he wasn’t going to charge a penny for his website, and he was going to make sure it was the most amazing site out there.
When Derek didn’t call him back, Stiles turned and waved over his shoulder while heading for the sidewalk to get a ride home from someone at the station. As luck would have it, he showed up just as Tara was heading out for the end of her shift, and she very kindly offered to drive him home.
Stiles was glad for the company, but he ended up walking to Jackson’s after being home alone for an hour because he couldn’t get the conversation with Derek out of his head. He didn’t know why he was so focussed on it, but it was bugging him. Derek was frustratingly infuriating, but Stiles couldn’t figure out why he was acting so fucking weird today.
He didn’t like weird. Weird was annoying. Thankfully, Jackson had no plans, despite telling Stiles he was extremely busy when he showed up, and they spent the day watching movies and ordered pizza for dinner.
When Stiles went to pick up his Jeep the next day, Peter was helping another customer so Derek put him through without a word and handed him his print-out and receipt. Stiles thanked him for the help with his car, got his key back, and went to get his car out of the front lot.
Once he was seated in the driver’s seat, he checked the bill to figure out how much everything had cost, since the total had seemed kind of low considering he’d needed his window fixed.
Reviewing the receipt, Stiles realized that Derek hadn’t charged him for the labour.
“I’m gonna quit,” Stiles proclaimed, stabbing his fork into his salad and shoving a huge bite into his mouth. “I am gonna quit, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it!”
“You’re not gonna quit,” the sheriff said, using his own fork to push the lettuce on his plate around, as if he could trick both of his sons into thinking he’d eaten enough of it if it was spread out.
He would fail, Stiles had been watching him. He was eating that salad, or he would have no dessert! No dessert! Stiles was very strict about that, if his dad wanted some pie for dessert, he was going to finish everything on his plate!
“It’s so frustrating,” Stiles insisted. “I hate team projects. Seriously, why is it literally four of us doing all the work when there’s nine of us on the team? I swear, the other five just sit in their chairs with their thumbs up their asses all day.”
“They should take a lesson from you,” Jackson said. “Shove a dildo up there and keep working. That way you’re doing the job and getting pleasure out of it.”
“Right?” Stiles demanded. “Does no one else think of these things? Efficiency, man!”
“Guys,” the sheriff insisted, giving them both a look. “Come on. We’re eating.”
“Does hearing about how little sex Stiles is having make you uncomfortable?” Jackson asked with a smirk. “You know I can hook him up with someone if you’re still holding out for grandbabies.”
“I can get my own tail, thank you.” Stiles pointed his fork at him. “Stop trying to set me up with weirdoes, it’s not as funny as you seem to think it is.”
“Actually, I know a set of twins, and thought it might be hilarious if we both bagged one each.” Jackson grinned, popping a cherry tomato into his mouth with his fingers. “Guy for me, girl for you. Boom, dad gets two weddings at once, and his promised grandbabies since we both know I’d make a terrible father.”
“You’d make a great father, you’re a terrible brother, there’s a difference.”
The sheriff sighed, likely in defeat, since his attempts at derailing the conversation hadn’t worked. Well, not entirely anyway, but at least they weren’t talking about sex anymore. Though Stiles would admit he was curious to know if he could get any work done with a dildo, but not curious enough to try it. He got unexpected Skype or Zoom calls throughout the day and they were always video calls. That would be awkward if he was sitting there writhing in his chair while speaking to his boss or something.
Still, he was kind of curious. For science, of course. He’d never do it, but it was fun to think about.
And now he was coming to the realization that his brother thought about sex a lot, and it was making him think about sex. He didn’t have time for sex right now, he was busy working. He had his regular job, plus at least seven or eight other ones in the works. Two of them had really tight deadlines, and Stiles was spending more time sitting hunched over his computer than literally anything else lately.
He assumed it was because word had gotten out about who the team hired for the start-up were and other companies were trying to capitalize on the fresh meat. One of Stiles’ coworkers had agreed he’d seen an increase in demands on the side lately and he’d actually stopped taking them when he’d hit four.
To be fair, he was married with a baby, so he didn’t have the luxury of just chilling alone in his apartment doing whatever he wanted like Stiles did. He could stay up all night working on a design if he wanted to.
Should he? Probably not, no. Did he? Absolutely.
Stiles realized he’d tuned out and focussed back on the conversation when they moved back into the realm of Jackson needing an Alpha. Well, not needing one, but being pressured into it by the government.
“It’s bullshit,” Jackson insisted sourly, stabbing at his chicken before putting it into his mouth. He continued with his mouth half-full, but the sheriff didn’t comment on the lack of manners since it was clear Jackson was agitated. “I’ve been doing fine on my own. Have a good job, contributing member of society, own my own apartment, everything. I’m a cop, for fuck’s sake. I don’t need a pack, why can’t they just leave me alone?”
“They’ll stop sending you letters when you register with a pack,” the sheriff said, sighing in defeat, like he knew there was no winning this one for Jackson. “I know it’s frustrating, but the only way to get them to stop is to do what they want. You really like Satomi, why don’t you just give it a try? If you don’t like it, you can always back out, I’m sure she’d understand.”
“I’m not driving out of town once a week for mandatory pack dinners,” Jackson argued. “We can barely make enough time to have dinner together.” He motioned the three of them before continuing. “I’m not going to prioritize a pack over my family. Not after everything I’ve been through.”
The sheriff sighed and looked over at Stiles. He could see how tired his dad was. How this was a battle he wished he could fight for him, but couldn’t. Really, Jackson could just ignore the letters, but Stiles knew it wasn’t that easy. At the end of the day, if anything went wrong, Jackson didn’t have an Alpha to go to bat for him. Sure, he had Stiles and his dad, but it was harder to make a case with the Werewolf tribunal as humans. They tended to have more respect for their own kind, and while Jackson had a few Werewolf friends and Stiles knew Satomi would speak for him if needed, it wasn’t the same as having an Alpha who would have his back.
Stiles couldn’t help but wonder, again, about Derek. He didn’t really know what kind of Alpha he was, but he honestly wondered if he’d be up for taking on another Beta. Jackson being a cop might be a selling point, but having him be Stiles’ brother... not so much.
He didn’t say anything, because he still didn’t know if it would be a good call, but reminded himself to ask Boyd or Erica the next time he saw them. Maybe he could even go to the vet clinic one day and ask Isaac.
Jackson’s darkening mood was putting a bit of a damper on their family dinner, so Stiles tried to change the subject so they could move into friendlier territory. His dad didn’t finish his plate, but Stiles gave him some pie anyway, then he and Jackson divvyed up the leftovers between the three of them before heading out.
They normally drove back to the sheriff’s place together when they all had family dinner, but Jackson was on shift tonight and Stiles had to grab some laundry detergent from the store, so they’d come in their own respective vehicles.
Stiles gave his dad a hug before heading out, as if he didn’t see him regularly, then waved to Jackson while they went to their own cars.
He thought about Derek the whole way to the store, eyes barely focussing on where he was going, but having enough forethought to pay attention to colours so he didn’t run any reds.
It was just after eight by the time he entered the store, and quarter-after when he left it carrying the laundry detergent, some chips, and four boxes of cookies.
They were on sale, buy one, get one free! Stiles wasn’t one to pass up a good sale!
When he pulled out of the lot and started back towards home, he noticed the lights shining through the bay doors of the garage again and slowed. Peter had never stayed past eight, and while it wasn’t impossible that it was him, Stiles felt more inclined to believe it was Derek.
Making a split second decision, he turned on his blinker and waited for oncoming traffic to cease before he turned left into the garage’s front lot. Parking in his usual spot, he left his groceries in the back, then hesitated before grabbing his leftovers.
He had no guarantee it was Derek, and even if it was, he was pretty sure he wouldn’t eat anything Stiles gave him, but he figured he’d try anyway. And if it was Peter, well, all the better. Stiles would be out his leftovers, but whatever. Not like he didn’t have ramen at home.
Exiting the Jeep, he tilted his head to listen since the music was loud enough to be heard from outside. Now that he knew to listen for the differences, it was obvious this was Derek based on the loud guitars and heavy drums.
Moving over to the door before he lost his nerve, he was going to knock when he noticed once again that it wasn’t shut all the way. He really needed to talk to Derek about that security, he was going to get knifed in the back one day. With his attitude, it wouldn’t surprise Stiles to discover Derek had a plethora of enemies.
Entering the front, Stiles turned and shut the door firmly behind him, locking up before moving around the desk and pushing through the swinging door.
There were a few more cars in the garage this time compared to the last time he’d shown up after hours, but he knew which one Derek was working on without having to look around too much.
The Camaro was slightly raised off the ground with some jacks, and Derek’s legs were sticking out from under it, evidently using an auto dolly same as the first time Stiles had ever met him. He had to wonder about Derek’s aversion to the lifts, but then figured maybe he just found this easier to deal with.
Walking over to him, he hesitated for a second, unsure of how to make his presence known without startling Derek, then figured it wouldn’t be possible and just going for it.
Grabbing the remote for the stereo, he aimed it towards the back of the garage and cut the music off. “Your self-preservation skills are worse than mine.”
There was a loud bang, a curse, and then Derek hastily rolled out from under the car. Stiles offered his glower a brilliant smile in return.
“What are you doing here? Peter’s not here.”
“Shockingly, I am here to speak to you. Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are,” Stiles insisted, because Derek’s glower had shifted to shock. “Also, you seriously need to start locking that door. One day, someone is going to walk in who isn’t me.”
“Sounds like the dream,” Derek said dryly while pulling himself a bit further out from under the car and sitting up, dropping the tools he’d been using on a mat beside him on the ground. He got to his feet, rolled his neck and shoulders, then turned to face Stiles, crossing his arms defensively. “What do you want?”
“What happened to the guy from the other day who actually had a personality?” Stiles asked, rolling his eyes. “You gotta stop with the hot and cold thing, it’s kind of annoying. Either be a dick or don’t, stop oscillating.” He paused, then added, “Also you didn’t charge me for the labour on my last visit, we should probably get that sorted out.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Stiles arched an eyebrow. “Don’t worry about it? This from the guy who was adamant I wanted discounts? Seriously, you’re really confusing.”
“I’m confusing?” Derek demanded, motioning himself before stabbing a finger at Stiles. “You’re the confusing one! You come here all the time just to chat with Peter. I’ve had conversations with Peter, he’s not worth the effort. You paid the extra cost that last time when I demanded it without argument and without batting an eye. You offered to build Peter a brand new website for free.” Derek gave him a look. “I checked your rates on your site, you’re not cheap. But you’re willing to do it for free for him. And the last time you came in late at night, you had food from dinner with you, and instead of just leaving with it, you left it here for me because I hadn’t eaten yet. Like—I don’t get you!”
Stiles squinted at him slightly, because he felt like there was more to it than that. Derek’s annoyance couldn’t be about Stiles and Peter’s relationship, because that had absolutely no impact on Derek whatsoever. And the fact that he’d brought up the food was interesting, because it meant he’d actually eaten it.
But still, there was more to Derek’s rant than what he was saying out loud.
And Stiles was nothing if not stubborn.
“And?” he prompted.
Derek frowned. “And what?”
“That’s not why you find me confusing. Something about me bugs you, it’s why you’re such a dick. I mean,” Stiles shrugged, “I don’t think you’re really a dick by nature, but that seems to be a sort of shield for you. If you were a bone-deep dick, you wouldn’t have cut out the cost of labour on my last charge, so you definitely use that as a shield.”
“No I don’t,” Derek insisted, sounding like a petulant child, but the way he crossed his arms defensively over his chest suggested Stiles was on the right track.
“Yes you do. If you were really a bad person, I know for a fact that Isaac and Erica wouldn’t want you as their Alpha. Erica has been through way too much shit in her life to want an true asshole for an Alpha, and Isaac’s upbringing wasn’t something anyone would call happy. If they’re in your pack, it’s because all of this,” he motioned Derek’s face, where he was still scowling, “isn’t who you actually are. It’s just who you pretend to be. So what is it about me that really bothers y—”
“You’re not scared of me!” Derek shouted, interrupting Stiles before he could even finish getting his sentence out. His words, more than anything, had Stiles freeze up, complete and utter confusion taking over and forcing his brain to a stand-still. “I shout at you, and grab at you, and throw things, and you just—you fucking sass me! Why aren’t you scared of me?!”
That... was the weirdest thing Stiles had ever heard come out of someone’s mouth, and he’d gone to school with Greenberg. That guy was fucking weird.
Derek was breathing hard, like shouting those words had caused him to exert a great deal of energy, but Stiles felt it was more his fight or flight instincts kicking in and flooding Derek’s body with adrenaline. He probably wasn’t honest with people very often.
“Do you want me to be?” he asked honestly. That seemed to startle Derek, the anger on his face replaced with confusion. “I mean, if it makes you feel better, I can cower in fear and shrink away every time you’re close to me.” Stiles shrugged. “Whatever makes you comfortable, man.”
That seemed to have stumped Derek, because he just stared at him in silence for an almost uncomfortably long time.
Sighing, Stiles raked his free hand through his hair, scratching at the back of his head before letting his hand drop. “Look, I’m sorry that I don’t react the way you expect me to, but I can’t really help that I have very bad survival instincts. I see an angry guy bearing down on me, and my first instinct is to say something sarcastic. I grew up with an angry, shielded Werewolf for a brother so I’m kind of used to people like you. Most of the time, the anger isn’t real, it’s just a way to keep people at arm’s length.” Stiles shrugged. “If you were actually a violent, angry Werewolf, you’d have come at me the first time we met when I mouthed off at you. You didn’t, so you’re not actually an angry asshole, you just don’t want anyone to know that.”
Stiles held out the leftovers, Derek looking down at the offered bag, and then back up at Stiles. When he didn’t take it, Stiles turned and set it down on the hood of the car.
“Chicken, salad and potatoes. There’s some blueberry pie in there too, if that’s your thing. If not, you can give it to Peter, I know he likes it.” He turned and headed back for the swinging door, waving over his shoulder. “You should take better care of yourself, Sourwolf. Werewolf metabolism’s gonna turn on you if you don’t keep your stomach full. Don’t forget to lock up behind me.”
Stiles left the garage and was pulling out of the front lot long before Derek appeared anywhere close to the door.
Stiles knew things wouldn’t change with Derek overnight, because he’d kind of called him out on his act and Derek didn’t seem to know what to do about that. He saw him around town every now and then, not often enough to think he was being followed or anything, but enough that he felt like maybe Derek was heading somewhere, saw Stiles, and then detoured to see where he was going.
He didn’t say anything about it, or call him out on it. He just smiled and waved whenever he caught him looking and went about his business.
If he was on the same side of town as the shop late at night and he noticed the bay windows lit up, he usually stopped to leave some leftovers he had at the door, banging loudly on it in hopes that Derek would hear him over the loud music.
He always saw the door open by the time he’d pulled out, so at least Derek was getting some food in him.
Stiles definitely didn’t go out of his way to deliver it, but he always figured if he was around and saw the lights on, he may as well. And Derek had started locking the door, too. Stiles didn’t know if that was in an attempt to keep him out, or if he was finally heeding his warning about someone more dangerous than him sneaking in while Derek was distracted.
When his next checkup came around, Derek wasn’t actually working for once, so Peter had his Jeep looked at and returned within a few hours, Stiles just hanging out in the shop with him while he worked.
Apparently Derek had gone to Hawaii to visit his sister for her birthday, which explained why he was gone, but when Stiles asked when he was planning to head back to New York or wherever else he felt like going, Peter informed him that Derek didn’t seem to be making any plans to leave any time soon.
Stiles figured it was because he felt comfortable here. He was with his pack, after all, and he had a job and a roof over his head, so why not? Maybe Derek was starting to appreciate the simplicity of small town life. After all, the family didn’t seem to be hurting for money, and Stiles found out the reason Derek had asked about the website was because he actually used to do restorations back in New York.
Originally, a part of Stiles had worried that Derek had been asking because business was so bad they needed money, but turned out business was fine. It wasn’t hopping or anything, but Peter was almost offended when Stiles asked about it because they were perfectly comfortable and he could definitely continue to give Stiles discounts if he damn well pleased.
Stiles vowed never to offer to pay full price again, because Peter was intolerable for literal days after that fiasco.
So, Derek had only been asking about the website because he wanted to do restorations, same as Peter. Sure, they were still a garage—the only one in Beacon Hills, please God he couldn’t lose it!—but they also wanted to do some things that interested them as opposed to keeping Stiles’ car running and changing people’s oil.
Stiles found that interesting, because it suggested Derek might be considering sticking around for the long-haul. It made sense, since he could be as shitty as he wanted and his uncle would never fire him, but it was still interesting when considering how much he complained about hating the boonies.
Erica insisted it was because Derek had missed the freedom of the Preserve. There weren’t a lot of places like this in New York City, since apparently Central Park was off-limits for Werewolf runs on the full moon.
Either way, Stiles was kind of glad Derek seemed to be a bit less—prickly. He was still a dick, far as Stiles knew, but at least Erica didn’t look as miserable at work anymore, and Derek was civil when they ran into each other in public.
It was almost September when Stiles’ main job finally went live, and he was both thrilled and nervous about it. It had taken a really long time to get everything up and running, but once the site was out there and people started using the service, he was pretty fucking proud of himself.
He decided to celebrate by buying himself a muffin from the best coffeeshop in town, sitting down at one of the tables with a book since all of his friends were working because adulthood was the worst. He’d only just started to peel the wax paper off the bottom of the muffin when a shadow appeared in front of him and he looked up.
“Hi.” Derek shifted his weight awkwardly, coffee in one hand and book in the other. “Can I—?” He motioned the seat across from Stiles, still looking uncomfortable.
“Sure.” Stiles didn’t comment on the fact that there were plenty of other seats available if Derek wanted to sit and read. They hadn’t had a proper conversation since Stiles had basically dumped a whole bunch of truths on him a few weeks back, so he wasn’t going to shoo him away when it was obvious Derek was trying.
Trying to do what, Stiles didn’t know, but hey! He was trying.
“Thanks.” Derek pulled the chair out and sat down, setting his coffee on the table and opening his book. Stiles eyed him for a few seconds while he continued to peel the wax paper off his muffin, then turned to his own book.
Derek looked a bit different out of the shop. When he was working, he always wore jeans and some kind of tight T-shirt. Every time Stiles saw him outside of work, he still wore jeans, but they were usually darker, like black jeans or navy jeans. During the summer he’d been wearing a lot of polo shirts, but now that they were getting into fall, he’d started sporting long-sleeved Henleys.
He was wearing a maroon Henley today. Somehow, it suited him. Stiles didn’t know how, maroon shouldn’t suit anyone.
For a long moment, they both sat in silence, Stiles eating his muffin and sipping at the water he’d bought alongside it, and Derek drinking his coffee while they both read their respective books.
When Derek had finished his coffee, he stood up to throw out the cup, taking Stiles’ wax paper and small bag the muffin had come in with him to toss them out. After he sat back down, Stiles could tell he was being stared at and looked up at him.
Sure enough, Derek was sitting there staring at him. It wasn’t calculating like Stiles had expected it to be, more uncertain. Like he didn’t even know how to start this conversation.
“How was Hawaii?” Stiles asked, figuring that was the easiest ice breaker. It had been at least three weeks since Derek had been back, but it wasn’t like they spoke much or anything.
“Fun. A little hot though.” Derek’s fingers played with the edge of his book, and it looked like he was regretting tossing out his cup. “It was nice to see Cora.”
“You see her often?”
“Couple of times a year, yeah. We alternate on who flies out to make it fair, but we usually always have Christmas out here since most of the pack is here.”
“That’s cool, that you guys try and hang out as much as you can.” Stiles leaned back in his seat, getting comfortable and trying to ooze calm. Derek looked really uncomfortable, so Stiles wanted to try and make him feel a little better, at least.
“Yeah, it’s nice. I didn’t really see the pack much before, but it’s been nice the past few months. I thought I’d hate it, having them all around all the time, but it’s kind of...” he trailed off, like he couldn’t find the right word.
“Comforting?” Stiles offered.
Derek shrugged, agreeing to the word, though not his first choice. “Maybe grounding. It’s nice knowing people are there if I need them. I was kind of alone when I lived in New York. I didn’t—really have a lot of friends.”
“What?” Stiles affected surprise, slapping one hand to his chest. “You? Get out, really?”
The annoyed look he got in response had him grinning, and he kicked Derek lightly under the table to show he was just kidding.
“For real though, I get it. After everything that happened, I can understand why you’d want some distance, and I can appreciate why humans might not be your favourite.” Stiles offered him a small smile. “But there’s lots of packs in New York, aren’t there? If you didn’t want to make friendly with humans or coworkers or whatever, surely the packs would’ve been ideal?”
“Wolves don’t really like it when another Alpha is in their territory.” Derek’s lips turned down slightly, like he was eating something sour. “The packs in New York tolerated my presence, but I wasn’t really welcome. I had a few friends, but the relationships were a little bit stretched. If something happened and it came down to their Alpha or me, even if their Alpha was in the wrong, they’d side with their Alpha. That’s just how things work.” He crossed his arms and shrugged, like it wasn’t a big deal.
Stiles knew it was. The Hales hadn’t really had the easiest life, and while he knew Cora had gone off and was living in Hawaii, there weren’t very many Werewolves out there so it was probably more comfortable for her. The ones who’d gone to Alaska lived near the outskirts and, according to Peter, they tended to stick to themselves. They just really liked living out there, lots of trees where they were, and the winters were nice for wolves.
It hadn’t exactly escaped Stiles’ notice that the rest of the pack seemed far more comfortable staying in Beacon Hills. It might not have been perfect, but at least it was familiar and safe. Besides, they had the Preserve, so it was ideal for full moon runs.
“You seem to be settling in pretty well here,” Stiles said, because it was true. Derek had a job, and he seemed to be doing okay since he’d come back. He wasn’t itching to leave again, and Stiles felt like it was probably because after even just one month here, he realized how easy it was not to have to watch his own back all the time for being in someone else’s territory. If this was Hale pack territory, it was honestly easier for him to just stay.
“Yeah, it’s different than I remember,” Derek admitted, looking around as if he could see beyond the walls of the coffeeshop. “I always thought I’d hate to come back. Too many bad memories. But it’s not as hard as I thought it’d be. I was thinking about maybe building my own place. Same area as Peter, but just—further out. Not be so close, so I can have my own space.”
“That’d be cool. I know a guy from school who might be able to help you out with that, if you’re interested. I could probably get you a good deal.”
It looked like Derek was going to say no, like he was worried about what that would cost him, but he ended up nodding slowly after a moment. “Sure, if you can put me in touch with him, I can see if he’s a good fit.”
“Yeah, no problem. I’ll give him the shop’s email address and you can talk to him through there if you want. His name’s Liam Dunbar, he’s really good at what he does.”
“Yeah, no problem.” Stiles smiled at him.
They continued with their conversation for a while, Derek kind of stilted sometimes, but Stiles picking up the slack. It was obvious Derek didn’t really know how to talk to people anymore, maybe because he’d stopped bothering to try after so many years, but he was making an effort, so Stiles responded in kind.
Surprisingly, Derek was actually really nice. Like, he was a nice guy, and had a dark sense of humour that really jived with Stiles’. It was kind of an interesting little coffee outing, and Stiles felt like maybe they could smooth out some of the rough edges of their relationship.
Derek seemed to finally accept that Stiles wasn’t looking to get anything out of him, or Peter, so he was a little less hostile than he used to be.
Which, honestly, was a huge relief, because Stiles was so tired having to juggle all the assholes in his life, he hadn’t really wanted to spend time tearing down another wall. Having the door to walk through now was kind of nice.
They spent close to two hours chatting in the coffeeshop, Stiles going to buy them both another drink since he felt bad just sitting there with nothing but his empty water bottle. They didn’t really talk about anything important, just general stuff, but Stiles found it interesting and he really liked getting to know Derek.
When they finally left to head for dinner—Derek with Erica and Isaac, Stiles with Jackson—he turned to grin at him before they parted ways.
“This was fun. We should do it again sometime.”
“You could—start coming around the shop again. You know, if you have time. And wanted to.”
“Yeah, that’d be really cool!” Stiles beamed. “I miss harassing Peter, so I’m happy to start that tradition up again. And hey, bonus. Now I can harass both of you.”
“On second thought, never mind, stay away,” Derek said dryly. Stiles laughed, punching him lightly in the shoulder.
“You should let me know when you plan on staying late. I can drop in with food and keep you entertained while you work. You know, if you’re cool with that. I’m a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself.”
“Sure. That’d be nice. I don’t usually plan it in advance though, I kind of just work on the Camaro when I feel like getting frustrated about it.”
“You can text me?” Stiles offered, then held out his hand. “Give me your phone.”
Derek stared at him for a long moment, but Stiles just waited until he obediently took his phone out and handed it over. Stiles programmed his number into it, then handed it back.
“Text me next time you stay late and I’ll come by. And I promise I won’t abuse having your number when you decide to text me for the first time. I’m not big on texting, so don’t worry about me exploding your phone.”
“Thanks.” Derek stared down at his phone for a little while, then pocketed it. “And thanks. For the coffee. And the chat. I guess I’ll see you later?”
“Yup.” Stiles grinned. “Have fun with Erica and Isaac.” He walked backwards, waving once. Derek bid him farewell, but when he went to turn, Stiles called back out to him.
Pausing, Derek glanced back at him, and Stiles offered him a more genuine smile.
“For the record, I like the real Derek a lot more than the other one.”
Derek pressed his lips together, nodded once, then bid him farewell again before turning and hustling away. Stiles beamed and turned away, heading for the Jeep.
He’d just closed his door and was about to start the car when his phone chirped with a text message. Pulling it out of his pocket, he couldn’t help the small smile when he saw a message from an unknown number.
thx again have a good dinner
Stiles shook his head, still smiling, and shoved his phone back into his pocket.
“They should call me the asshole whisperer,” he said to himself, then paused and squinted slightly in thought. “No, then it sounds like I whisper into assholes. But still, this is some kind of gift, it’s gotta be.” He started the car and waited for traffic to thin before he pulled away from the curb.
“So I’d ask what’s wrong with it, but I feel like I wouldn’t understand it even if you explained it to me,” Stiles said, licking ketchup off his thumb before grabbing at another fry and dipping it into said ketchup on the paper plate he was holding.
“Probably not,” Derek said, half-buried underneath the Camaro with his own plate of food half-eaten beside his right hip. He pulled himself back out from beneath the car every couple minutes to take a bite, but he seemed to be pretty focussed on what he was doing.
Stiles would’ve been offended, except the food was take-out from the diner and not actual Stiles-made food, so he allowed the fact that Derek wasn’t devouring it all in one go as proof it was the most delicious thing he’d ever eaten.
This was the third time in a week he’d received a text from Derek about the Camaro. Stiles had some leftovers the first two times, but he’d been really busy over the past two days and hadn’t had the chance to make anything new for himself since he’d been eating ramen and Chinese take-out. When Derek had texted, he’d figured he could stop at the diner and bring some of that instead, so he’d gotten Derek’s order and now here he was.
The paper plates were new, Derek having bought them after the last time Stiles had dropped by, and he was kind of thankful for them. It made eating his fries infinitely easier considering the whole ketchup thing.
“Does it still run?” Stiles asked, licking the corner of his mouth before taking a bite of his burger.
“It runs,” Derek confirmed. “It just doesn’t run well. Peter made sure it didn’t fall apart while I was away, but it’s not like he ever used it. There’s a lot that needs to be fixed, but it’s not always easy.”
“If you can keep my old lady running, I’m sure you can keep the Camaro running without any problems.” Stiles chewed thoughtfully, staring at the headlights while he sat cross-legged in front of the vehicle. “What’s it called, anyway?”
“What?” Derek asked.
“You know, the Camaro. My Jeep’s called Roscoe. What about the Camaro?”
“I didn’t give it a name. Pretty sure Laura didn’t, either. People don’t tend to name their cars.”
“I know a lot of people who’ve named their cars.” Stiles tilted his head, staring at the Camaro for a few seconds. “I’m feeling a ‘B’ name. Like Beatrice.”
“Beatrice?” Derek asked, sounding horrendously confused.
“Yeah. You could call her Bea for short. I was originally thinking something like Beauty, but that’s too Disney. Beatrice has a nice ring to it. Bea and Roscoe, the two oldest and bestest ladies in town.”
“You’re an idiot,” Derek informed him, rolling out from under the car and sitting up so he could take a few bites of his dinner.
“Bea, your owner is very rude to me,” Stiles informed the Camaro. “I hope you help teach him some manners.”
Derek rolled his eyes, but Stiles knew he was going to start unconsciously referring to the car as Bea. He found great joy in this discovery, if he was honest.
He’d finished with his burger and was munching on some of his fries, watching Derek chew while the Alpha stared at his car, when he thought about Jackson. About his predicament, and the fact that Derek was here, and an Alpha, and apparently not going anywhere.
They weren’t exactly friends, not yet anyway, but they were definitely heading in that direction. Stiles came by during the day now that he had more flexible hours again, and he’d been by twice at night, today being the third time, so he knew they were more than acquaintances for sure.
He wasn’t expecting anything from Derek, he was just honestly curious, because even if he asked and Derek was willing to add another Beta, it wasn’t guaranteed since he and Jackson might not fit together, or Jackson might not even be interested.
He doubted Jackson would reject an Alpha in his own hometown who didn’t seem to be controlling or overly involved with his Betas, but one never knew with his brother.
Derek had just set his burger down again, shifting to get ready to go back under the car, when Stiles figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask. He just hoped Derek didn’t think it was something he wanted from him.
“If I ask you a question, can you just take it at face value?”
Derek paused, about to lie back again on the auto dolly, and gave him a somewhat concerned look. “What does that mean?”
“It means I want to ask you something with absolutely no pressure or expectations. It’s just a question, you can answer in the affirmative or the negative and it won’t change anything.”
Even though he looked suspicious now, Derek nodded his head slightly, eying Stiles like he was expecting bad news.
“How do you choose your Betas? Like, for someone who’s already a Werewolf, I mean. Do you have any criteria, or are you kind of open to anybody?”
That obviously wasn’t even close to the question Derek was expecting, because he stared at Stiles like he was crazy.
Stiles shrugged. “I’m just curious, is all. Full disclosure, because I feel like that’s very important with you, but my brother’s an Omega Werewolf. The government’s been on his case about finding himself a pack, but he’s kind of picky about it. He doesn’t even want to be in a pack, but he’s getting annoyed with the letters, I think they stress him out. He’s been trying to find a pack that’s close to home, but isn’t overbearing. A lot of the ones in the area are very pack-centric. Pack comes first, everyone has to make time for everyone else, pack meetings on a regular basis, people have to stay in the area, all that stuff.” Stiles waved away his own words, shifting on the floor since his butt was getting numb. “Your pack seems kind of chill. Like, you care about your Betas, but you’re not breathing down their necks and demanding their full submission. You like seeing them, but it’s not a mandatory thing once a week or whatever, and they’re allowed to live somewhere other than where you are. I was just curious if you were open to more Betas, and if you were, what you usually look for when you accept them.” Stiles shrugged easily.
He hoped Derek wasn’t taking this as Stiles wanting something, which was why he admitted why he was asking. He honestly just wanted to know, and while he could tell Derek was a bit uncomfortable talking about this, he at least didn’t seem guarded or upset.
More like he didn’t know how to Alpha, which made sense, since he’d been thrust into this role beyond his own control.
“Your brother. Jackson Whittemore, right?”
“Yeah,” Stiles agreed, surprised Derek knew that.
Then he remembered that Derek’s family had been murdered because Jackson’s family had been. He hoped Derek wouldn’t hold that against Jackson, it wasn’t his fault. Besides, those responsible were behind bars and would hopefully stay there for years and years to come.
“He’s not in a pack?” Derek asked, sounding more curious than anything else.
“He kind of had a lot of trust issues growing up,” Stiles said honestly. “When everything happened, he wasn’t comfortable with any adults except for dad. Most Alphas tend to be older, so when he was asked what he wanted to do, he said he wanted to stay with dad. As a minor, that was fine, but he’s been getting letters from the government since he turned eighteen. He’s not necessarily opposed to being in a pack, I think he’s just kind of accustomed to our little family and doesn’t like feeling strong-armed into it. He’ll join a pack if he has to, but I think he also wants to still have his freedom. He’s not going to join any Alpha, and I don’t know, your pack seems really...” he trailed off, bobbing his head from side to side while thinking of the right word. “Chill, I guess. Like, you’re the Alpha, and you’re around, but you’re not going to hound him at every turn. I was just curious, I haven’t actually said anything to him. I think a part of him kind of forgot you’re an Alpha, to be honest.”
“That’s a relief,” Derek said sarcastically. Stiles just rolled his eyes, but he was glad Derek wasn’t looking at this as some kind of request or favour. Stiles legitimately had no control over either Jackson or Derek on the matter, it was a wolf thing. He was just wondering if it was even worth mentioning.
If Derek said he wasn’t interested, Stiles would accept that and they’d move on. Wasn’t like it would make any difference at all to Jackson, considering.
For a moment, Derek said nothing, and Stiles could tell he was thinking. He just dragged one finger through the remaining ketchup on his plate, sucking it off his finger until Derek focussed on him again.
“You have a service coming up right?”
Stiles arched an eyebrow at him, but nodded, pulling his finger free and licking his lips. “Yeah, next Tuesday, I think.”
Derek nodded and lay back on the auto dolly. “Bring your brother. We’ll talk.”
He slid back under the car then, missing the way Stiles beamed at him. It wasn’t a guarantee, but at least it was the possibility of Jackson’s problem being resolved.
Stiles thanked him for allowing the introduction, then immediately started talking about something else so that Derek would know that wasn’t why he’d come by tonight.
He was there to hang out, and keep Derek entertained while he worked on the car. While Derek argued that he wasn’t entertained, the fact that he never asked Stiles to leave suggested otherwise.
Seriously. Stiles Stilinski: Asshole Whisperer.
Stiles didn’t know how the meeting between Derek and Jackson went, because it was a personal, private thing. Jackson said Derek was a bit of a dick, but Jackson himself was a bit of a dick too, so it was hard to tell whether or not this was a good thing, or a bad one.
Peter was the one who did his checkup while the Alpha and his brother talked, and he was done before Jackson and Derek were. Stiles just went to bug his dad at the precinct until Jackson was finished, and then the two of them drove home together in Stiles’ Jeep.
It took five days and three more meetings before Jackson texted Stiles a picture of a piece of paper. Stiles had to squint to read it, because the text was tiny, but he recognized the header, and the bottom of the page had four signatures.
One was Jackson’s, one was presumably Derek’s, and the other two looked like they belonged to Peter, acting as witness to both. Stiles beamed and sent back a whole bunch of thumbs-ups and confetti emojis. Then he texted Derek a thank you, even though it had nothing to do with Stiles.
boyd likes him
and hes your brother
cant be all bad
I mean, he’s the worst, but YOUR PROBLEM NOW!!!!!
careful or i can chase him down for the form back
Stiles just laughed and sent him another thank you, then asked if he was going to be working on the Camaro that evening. As it turned out, he was not, but he invited Stiles out for dinner anyway.
That was a first since they’d started hanging out, so Stiles agreed and they ended up going to the one restaurant close to the garage. They didn’t talk about anything of importance while they ate, but Stiles felt like Derek kind of enjoyed that. They didn’t need to have deep conversations all the time, sometimes it was just nice to talk about random stuff.
Like books, and movies, and what superpowers they would want if mutants were a thing. Stiles insisted Derek cheated, because he was already a Werewolf so he shouldn’t be allowed to be a mutant, but Derek argued that Stiles was just salty about the papercut he’d gotten that morning.
Stiles refused to admit that he was totally salty about the papercut. It had fucking hurt! And it had cut deep, those things stung, it was annoying!
When they parted ways to head home an hour and a half later, Stiles was really happy about how things were turning out. Derek seemed to really be coming out of his shell, and he was far less of an asshole than he used to be. Still a bit of a dick, because that was legitimately part of his personality, but much less so than Jackson, or even Peter.
And hey, even Stiles could be a dick sometimes, so it worked out. He really liked hanging out with Derek, he was fun.
Whenever Derek stayed late at the shop, he texted Stiles. Every time bar one, Stiles had shown up to hang out—he felt like his dad’s birthday being his one bail was a valid one, and Derek had completely understood.
Sometimes, Stiles had to wonder if Derek used Beatrice as an excuse to hang out with him—and yes, the name had stuck, even Peter called her Bea. He wished he wouldn’t, because he didn’t need a reason to hang out. If Derek wanted to chill together, Stiles was all for it.
Still, he didn’t call him out on it. It wasn’t his place, and if this was what made Derek comfortable, then Stiles would let him have it.
“I spoke to your friend,” Derek said, head buried in the front of his car and muscles of his left arm bulging where he was bracing himself on the edge of the inner hood. “About my place.”
“Oh yeah?” Stiles asked. “How’d that go? What’d he say?”
“It was all right. We’re still talking about the structure right now, and I’m sending him a few of the things that I want so he can get started, but he seems to be reasonably priced and he’s got a lot of good contacts. None down here, but a lot of his people know other people so here’s hoping.”
“That’s really cool. Maybe he can get started before winter, that’d be pretty awesome.”
“I definitely need to move out, living with Peter isn’t ideal.” Derek glanced over his shoulder. “I have far less tolerance for my uncle than you do.”
“Hey man, Peter’s a huge laugh,” Stiles insisted. “Stubborn as an ox, but still a riot. And just think, if I hadn’t made friendly with him, where would we be now? Nowhere, that’s where. You’d just be that grumpy guy who works on my car every now and then.”
“You mean I’m not the grumpy guy who works on your car?” Derek asked in mock surprise, glancing over his shoulder again.
“Hilarious, you’re so funny, should be a comedian,” Stiles said dryly, but he smiled when Derek laughed and faced forward again. This Derek was definitely much better than the original he’d met. He understood, of course he did, but he was also sad that Derek felt the need to shield himself so much from everyone around him. He was good with his pack, even if he’d been a dick at first because of his wounded pride, but Stiles hoped he had a bit less armour surrounding him in the future.
He didn’t have to trust everyone, but letting people in every now and then would probably help him feel less alone.
“What about you?”
Stiles blinked at Derek’s back. “What about me what?”
“Do you have a place? Or do you live with your dad? Or your brother?”
“Oh, no.” Stiles waved one hand, despite Derek not facing him. “Jacks and I moved out after university. I’ve got a place on Blaine street, about nine-hundred square feet, one bedroom and den. Jacks got a place five minutes away down Grant, bit bigger than mine, but he has more money to spare.”
“He doesn’t have to get his car serviced every two months, at any rate,” Derek said, a teasing note in his tone.
“You would be lost without me, I’m the only reason this place is still in business.”
“We rely on you so much, thank you for not letting us starve,” Derek said sarcastically.
“Asshole.” Stiles grinned. “Hey, you ever talk to Peter about the website?”
“Once or twice,” Derek admitted, Stiles watching the way his muscles shifted in his back beneath his shirt. He didn’t know what Derek was doing, and he didn’t know he had a back kink, but apparently Derek was giving him a back kink because damn, those muscles. “More off-hand, passing comments. I don’t think he wants you to bother, honestly. Says it’s a waste of your time.”
“Uh, it wouldn’t be a waste of my time.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “Why are people so stubborn? My dad was like that too. You know I re-did the precinct website when I was still in high school and that’s how I even got here? Like, clearly I am a God at graphic design, and Peter should just hand over control of his social media as a whole. I’d have this place drowning in orders.”
“And then how would we maintain it?” Derek asked, pausing in what he was doing to look back at Stiles.
“Hire more people, duh. Peter’s got like, five guys who work here, and two of them are only part-time. I know you guys are loaded, but money’s going to run out eventually if you don’t start earning income.”
“We earn plenty of income, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to afford to give you discounts,” Derek said, giving him a look before turning back to what he was doing.
“I’m just saying,” Stiles whined, because he didn’t want to argue this with Derek too, “that if you guys would just trust me a little, I could have you both doing what you’re really interested in. Which is restorations.”
“Well, it’s Peter’s shop, his word is law.”
“You’re the Alpha!”
“Still his business,” Derek argued.
Stiles pouted about it, but let it slide. Derek was a good guy, considering he wasn’t going to use his status in the pack to strongarm his uncle into anything. Still, Stiles just wanted to help, he was legitimately this close to buying the domain himself.
“Hey, can you pass me the crows foot wrench?” Derek asked, head still buried in the engine, or whatever was under the hood.
Letting out a loud sound of annoyance, like this was grossly inconvenient, Stiles got to his feet from his new designated spot on the floor and wandered over to the workbench. He stood in front of it, eying all of the tools, and then came to a startling realization.
Despite how often he hung out with mechanics, he still had no idea what half of their tools were.
“I have no idea what a crows foot wrench is,” he informed Derek.
He didn’t appreciate the level of laughter that comment earned him.
“Hey,” Stiles said jovially while entering the back room holding a tray of coffees. He needed a tray, because Boyd, Derek and Peter were all working today, and he’d gotten all three of them their preferred beverages: mocha for Boyd, latte for Derek, and volcano black coffee for Peter. “How’s it going? How’s your day?”
“What did you do to her?” Peter asked immediately.
Stiles sputtered, trying for offended, but probably missing by a mile. “I did nothing to my beloved Jeep. I’ll have you know, I was actually extremely kind to her over the past week, and I do not appreciate you—”
“You drove her to Meeks Bay, didn’t you?” Derek asked, leaning against a car and crossing his arms. He was still wearing his usual work clothes as opposed to the worksuit both Peter and Boyd had on, but Stiles had learned long ago that he felt claustrophobic in the one-piece outfit so he just had a bunch of clothes he wore regularly when working that he didn’t mind ruining.
Stiles didn’t mind either, because he looked really good in those jeans.
“I told you about that trip in confidence,” Stiles insisted, pointing a finger at Derek.
“What happened to Scott driving?” Boyd asked, poking his head around the side of another car. “I thought the deal was he was driving up in his car since we all know Roscoe is an old lady.”
“Well, his car is registered under his wife.” He held out one hand, motioning the car Peter had up on the lift. “And that car is right there, because it crapped out right before our trip. And apparently even Beacon Hills’ finest mechanic hasn’t been able to fix it yet.”
“So you drove the Jeep up to Meeks Bay?” Derek asked, exasperated. “What about the Porsche?”
“That’s Jackson’s, he wasn’t coming with us, and it’s cramped.” He pointed his finger at the coffees in his other hand. “Look, do you guys want your bribery coffee or not? Who’s gonna help my girl?”
Derek rolled his eyes, but obediently pushed away from the car he was leaning against, grabbing his coffee on his way by. Stiles moved to drop the other two off with Boyd and Peter, then hurried outside to check on what Derek was doing to his baby.
He didn’t look impressed when Stiles stepped outside, pointing into the space beneath the hood with the hand still holding his coffee.
“What is this?”
“Uh, you’re the mechanic, not me.”
“Is this duct tape?”
“What?” Stiles asked, laughing loudly and waving one hand. “Of course not. Duct tape, pfft. Who uses duct tape on a car? That’s ridiculous.”
“This is a mess,” Derek insisted, holding the hood up with one hand and still holding his coffee in the other. “What the hell did you do to her?”
“She had fun! You know, at the time. It was a good laugh. Oh, and the radio even still works! So like, she was so good to me.” He nodded emphatically. “Bestest car ever.”
“Worst owner ever,” Derek shot back, letting the hood slam shut and turning to level him with an unimpressed look. “Why are you always so mean to her?”
“Because cars are meant to take you places!” Stiles motioned the Jeep. “And this car takes me to the best places! And I love her so much for being so amazing!”
“You’re impossible.” He held his free hand out and Stiles obediently dropped his key into it. “You’re buying dinner tonight, this is gonna take me forever to fix.”
“Anything you want, thank you!” Stiles called after him, Derek disappearing back into the shop. “You’re the best Derek, I love you!”
Stiles turned to head off towards the station to bother Jackson, since his dad wasn’t working today. He’d made it exactly two steps before his words clicked an his eyes widened.
Had he just—fuck, had he actually just shouted that to Derek out loud?!
“Oh, don’t panic,” Stiles hissed to himself, forcing himself to keep moving, walking stiffly to the sidewalk. “Don’t panic, don’t panic. It’s cool, it’s fine, he didn’t notice. It was a platonic ‘I love you,’ totally platonic. He’s just helping me with my car, nothing romantic happening here at all.”
Fuck, he really hoped Derek didn’t read too much into that, he hadn’t meant to say it aloud. He thought it a lot, but he’d never intended to say it.
Maybe he’d think it was platonic. Just Stiles shouting that in gratitude to having his Jeep fixed. Which he did! It had totally been about the Jeep, nothing else. No underlying feelings there at all, nope. None at all.
God dammit, he really hoped Derek hadn’t caught that, or dinner tonight was going to be fucking weird.
It was hard convincing his feet to keep moving, but if he forced himself to believe Derek hadn’t heard him enough times, maybe he’d actually believe it.
Checking the time and struggling to just pretend nothing had happened, he saw that it was almost five. There was no point in him going home and coming back out when the shop would be closing in just over an hour. He’d text Derek when the garage closed at six to ask what he wanted for dinner and then bring it by.
He knew he was pushing his car too hard sometimes, but when she worked, she worked. It was almost like she was brand new sometimes with how amazing the old thing was, but he acknowledged he had to be careful or else she’d crap out on him for good.
He still didn’t like to think about that, because he knew that day was coming. At least he had a bunch of mechanics ready to help him rebuild the car with new parts when it finally died on him, but he still wasn’t looking forward to that day.
Trying not to dwell on it while he bugged Jackson—or on the other thing that hadn’t happened, no sir!—Stiles ended up just playing games on his phone at the café down the road when Jackson went out on patrol. At quarter-to-six, he texted Derek to ask about dinner, then went to get their food.
Walking back into the shop was stressful, but the fear kind of evaporated once he walked through the door. Boyd was already gone when he showed up, but Peter was still at the front closing down the till, and he seemed pretty offended Stiles hadn’t asked what he wanted for dinner.
In his defence, Stiles hadn’t known Peter would still be there, but that didn’t stop Derek from being a dick about it and insisting Stiles liked him better. Their easy teasing and the fact that nobody said anything about Stiles’ earlier words made him feel like they’d been taken platonically, just as he’d intended! Seriously, no underlying feelings there whatsoever!
Peter didn’t stick around for very long, though he did check the Jeep with Derek before heading out, since Stiles had done very bad things to his poor baby. Derek said he definitely wouldn’t have it done by the end of the night, but that was okay. Stiles didn’t need it again any time soon, Derek was just being nice by staying late to try and fix it up.
He told Derek about his weekend with Scott in Meeks Bay, the two of them having gone out together to catch up on some bro time since they hadn’t really spent a lot of time together in a while. It had been fun, and he hoped they could go again sometime.
They left the garage at half-past ten, and Derek drove Stiles home since he had no other way to get there. It wasn’t the first time he got a ride back to his place, but it was the first time in the Camaro.
Derek still didn’t drive his car very much, but Stiles felt like he was too scared to. He didn’t want it to fall apart of him. Stiles could relate, but at the same time, what was the point of keeping the car if Derek wasn’t going to drive it? He was glad he’d started up again.
When he climbed out of the car, Derek said he’d call him when the Jeep was ready and Stiles thanked him and wished him a good night. When he woke up the next morning a little after noon—okay, when he woke up the next day a little after noon, he already had a text from Derek saying the Jeep was good to go.
Stiles had to get a ride from his dad to the garage, thanking him and waving while climbing out and slamming the door shut. He beamed at the sight of his shiny Jeep sitting in the front lot, and the closer he got, the more he felt like it was... too shiny.
Frowning, he moved over to it, staring at it, and yup. Definitely too shiny. Had she gotten painted? She looked like she’d been painted. She was definitely clean, but Stiles knew the guys did that sometimes when he brought the Jeep in. He always told them not to bother, but they tended to wash it off more often than not anyway.
But she looked brand-spanking new right now.
Walking into the front, Erica was absent, but it was also lunch time and he could see her water bottle on the desk, so she was definitely working today.
Heading into the back room, he looked around to make sure he wasn’t going to walk into anything or under anything he shouldn’t, and found Peter flipping through notes on a clipboard while Derek was cleaning off the side of a huge monster of a black truck.
“Did you paint my car?” Stiles asked, thumbing over his shoulder.
“The faded colour was beginning to annoy me,” Peter informed him, not even looking up. Stiles noticed Derek was grinning while he continued wiping down the truck.
What a dick.
“You guys are annoying,” he informed them, moving over to where Peter was.
“Not half as much as you are.” He sighed explosively, like Stiles’ very presence was a nuisance, then flipped the pages back over on the clipboard and dropped it on the workbench beside him. “Nephew, come. You,” he pointed at Stiles, “in my office.”
Stiles stared at him, confused, then his mouth dropped open. “Wait, what? In your what?! You have an office?! Since when?”
Peter gave him an annoyed look while leading the way to the very back of the garage, around one of the lifts that almost always had a car on it, and opening a door with a small inlaid window.
“That’s a lie,” Stiles insisted, hurrying after him and walking into the office, looking around at everything. “You built this overnight, this never existed.”
It even had a massive window overlooking the back of the shop, like, what?! This was totally built overnight, there was no way after all these years that Stiles had never seen this.
“You guys built this while I was asleep, admit it!” He turned when Derek followed Peter inside, taking a seat at one of the chairs across the desk while Peter took his own.
“Stiles. Shut up and sit down.” Peter motioned the chair beside Derek.
“We’re gonna talk about your mad building skills later,” Stiles insisted, but he obediently went to take a seat beside Derek. The Alpha still looked like a smug little shit, that was kind of annoying. Stiles glared at him for keeping the office such a secret, but his head whipped around to look at Peter at his next words.
“So annoyingly, my traitorous nephew has started to harass me about getting more business that focusses on restoration, and he has a friend from New York who’s trying to find a cheaper place to live and is considering moving out this way. I’m going to need to drum up more business if I hire another body, so what were you planning for the website?”
Stiles’ jaw almost hit the floor. “You mean—but—I didn’t come prepared!” Stiles slammed both hands on the desk in front of him, ignoring Derek laughing like an asshole beside him. “You can’t just spring this on me! I had layouts, and–and designs, and all this stuff sketched out and rendered on my computer! You gotta warn a guy when two years of bullying finally pays off!”
“You were going to be intolerable either way, I’d rather you tell me your idea and then disappear for a few days so I don’t have to look at your smug little face,” Peter said dryly.
Stiles felt like he was about to vibrate out of his own skin, he was so excited. “Oh my God! Oh my God, okay, okay, I’ll give you the basics, it’s cool, I can—I’ll just explain.”
It was really hard trying to keep his thoughts organized and explain what he was thinking, but Peter seemed to have resigned himself to whatever Stiles wanted to do. He was probably just listening to be polite, though why he was bothering to be polite, Stiles didn’t know. Then again, maybe he just wanted to actually see how excited Stiles was for this to finally be happening. He seemed pretty damn pleased with himself despite how annoyed he’d seemed moments before.
Derek seemed more smug than Stiles, presumably because he was the one who’d finally made Peter concede.
Stiles tried to give them the basics of what he wanted to do, and then asked them for some photos of restorations they’d done, as well as confirmation that he could come by at some point and take a few pictures of the shop itself. He didn’t usually do that, but this was a special case, he wanted this website to be amazing.
Both men promised to send him some photos when they could, and Derek showed Stiles a few examples on his phone. His work was really good, and Stiles was going to lose his fucking mind.
When he was done explaining his idea, which Peter pretended he had a say in but seemed to recognize he definitely didn’t, Stiles practically ran out of the garage, not even saying goodbye to Erica since she was sitting at the front desk by then.
He almost sped home, he was so fucking thrilled, and he wasn’t going to sleep for days, because finally!
This was going to be the most amazing website he’d ever done in his life!
Stiles paced nervously in front of Peter, Derek, Boyd and Erica while the four Werewolves crowded around his laptop in the office. It wasn’t exactly big enough for five people, let alone while one of them was pacing, but they were managing to make it work.
Peter was in control of the mouse, given it was his garage, but that only made Stiles more anxious. He knew his work was good, and he knew the website was amazing—after six days of building and tweaking it obsessively, it damn well better be!—but it was still really, really nerve-wracking having the person it was for looking at it right in front of him.
Usually he sent his work off and was done with it, he didn’t have the opportunity to see how people reacted, whether they loved it or hated it. He doubted anyone had ever hated his work, or he wouldn’t still have this for a job, but it was kind of different having it be for Peter.
This website actually meant something. He wanted him to like it. Wanted Derek to like it. He was really hoping he’d pulled it off, done something cool, something they would be happy with. It had been hard not to go completely ham on the page, but he knew he had to tone it down a bit in some places because he’d been trying to showcase too much, and it had started looking cluttered.
But he really, really, really wanted them to like it, and was hoping it would actually bring in business like he’d been insisting it would.
It wasn’t live yet, because Stiles had been doing the coding in the background, but all he had to do was click a few buttons and it would replace the current site right away. But he wasn’t going to do that without the okay, because while Peter insisted he trusted him, he still wanted to make sure it was exactly what Peter wanted.
After a few more agonizing minutes, Peter reached up to shut the screen, and folded his hands together on top of it.
Stiles was still pacing, thumbnail between his teeth, eyes skirting between all the Werewolves on the other side of the desk.
“Well?!” he finally demanded after an impossibly long silence. “Don’t leave a guy hanging! What do you think?”
Peter inhaled slowly, exhaled, then said, “I am ashamed it took me so long to agree to this.”
“The site’s really good,” Boyd said with a small smile. “Like, really good. You did a great job.”
“Really?” Stiles felt some of his anxiety beginning to dissipate. “It’s not too much? Or-or too little? I can change it if you need me to, I can just—”
“Stiles,” Peter cut off, offering him one of his small, genuine smiles. “It looks perfect. Thank you.”
Stiles felt like he could breathe again and his smile almost split his face. “Yeah? I was waiting to make it live, but I can put it up right now if you’re ready for me to.” He pulled the laptop over, out from under Peter’s folded hands, and opened the lid again, typing in his password. It opened up on the website and he started typing and clicking on all the items to make it take over the current domain so it would go live. “I’m good to go if you are.”
Peter motioned him with both hands. “I leave the final steps to you.”
Grinning, Stiles hurried to finish up before Peter changed his mind, and with one final click, it was up. His website for Hale’s Auto Repair. They were going to have to change the name at some point to make it clear they also did restorations, but Stiles was gonna wait before putting that out there. It had taken him two years to get the website, the name change was probably going to take ten.
He felt so pumped about this he could hardly stand it, he kind of wanted to run around the building screaming for people to check out the new website. He wouldn’t, but it was so tempting.
“Thank you, Stiles,” Peter said, and he actually did look really happy about it. “I appreciate all the hard work you put into this.”
“What, this?” Stiles scoffed and waved one hand, shutting the laptop with the other. “Took me like, an hour, tops.”
“Mm hm,” Peter said, looking amused. “Well, back to work. If we start getting inundated with calls and emails, we’re going to have to make sure that our current jobs are cleared up.”
Peter patted Derek’s shoulder while he got to his feet, he and Boyd heading back out into the main part of the garage. Erica grinned at Stiles, kissing his cheek on her way by, and went back towards the front.
Derek was off today, so he just stood on the other side of the desk with his hands in his pockets. He was wearing a green Henley today and it was making his eyes pop. Stiles loved it when Derek wore green.
“You like it?” Stiles asked with a grin.
“It was all right,” Derek said with a shrug, then smirked at Stiles’ offended noise.
Derek said nothing for a few moments, the smirk on his face slowly bleeding away until it was just a warm, happy smile.
“No problem, it was a lot of fun.”
“No,” Derek said, then let out a small laugh. “I mean, yes, thank you for the website, but just—thanks. For existing. For being you. Things have been really hard for me for a long time, but having you around has been nice. I feel like–like I can breathe when I’m with you.”
Stiles didn’t know how to react to those words, but he felt his heart do something weird in his chest. Derek’s eyes shifted down to it, like he’d heard it—of course he’d heard it, he was a fucking Werewolf!—then back up to his face.
“Yeah, I’m—you know, no problem.” Stiles cleared his throat, turning to look at what he was doing, since he was trying to get his laptop back into his messenger bag.
“Are you free right now?”
Stiles’ head whipped back up. “Free? Right–right now? Yeah, I’m free, totally free, never been freer. Why–why do you uh, why do you ask?”
Derek looked two-parts amused and one part-endeared. Shaking his head, he moved out from around the desk, Stiles straightening instantly and almost dropping his laptop. He cursed and hurried to shove it into his messenger bag, closing it and straightening again.
When he faced Derek, he found him right there in his personal space.
“I was thinking maybe we could go for dinner. I know we’ve had dinner before, but I was hoping it could be dinner this time.”
Stiles felt like a bobble-head, he was nodding so much.
“Yes, absolutely. Dinner, lunch, brunch, you name it, I’m good. Ready to go. Whenever you wanna head out, I am just—rearing to go.”
Derek let out a small laugh at that, reaching out to lightly brush his fingers against the back of Stiles’ hand before retreating it. “Good. Let’s go get some dinner, then.”
“Sounds perfect. Awesome, even.”
Rolling his eyes, Derek was still smiling when he turned Stiles around towards the door and gave him a small push so he’d leave the office. He let one hand slide down to between Stiles’ shoulder blades while they walked through the garage.
“Wear a condom or it’ll be a messy cleanup,” Peter said from his spot by a car, checking the screen of whatever machine he was working on and not even looking over at them.
“Drop dead,” Derek said back without missing a beat, ushering Stiles out towards the front while he sputtered at Peter’s words.
“Wait, did he know?!” Stiles demanded, ignoring Erica’s cackle while Derek continued to steer him out of the garage.
“You’re not subtle, and he raised me.”
“Wha—I’m subtle!” Stiles insisted. “I am super subtle! I’m like a ninja, I’m so subtle!”
Derek gave him a look, hand still between his shoulder blades while he steered them towards the sidewalk so they could head to the restaurant down the street. “Stiles, you shouted that you loved me the other day when you brought in your car to be fixed.”
Stiles sputtered for a few seconds before saying, “Yeah! Like, platonically!”
“So you want this to be a platonic outing?”
“No, no! I never said that!” Stiles pointed his finger in Derek’s face. “I never said that! This is going to be a romantic outing! You’re going to woo me! There’s going to be wooing!”
Derek just laughed at that, but he didn’t let his hand slide off Stiles’ back the entire walk to the restaurant. He followed Stiles through the doors when they reached the entrance, standing close beside him while they waited for the couple in front of them to get seated.
Derek’s hand slid down Stiles’ arm to his wrist, then further until he closed his fingers around his. Leaning down so his lips were, pressed to Stiles’ ear, he said, “For the record, I like the real Stiles, too. I’m going to enjoy seeing how fast I can make that little rabbit heart of yours go.”
Stiles was pretty sure he was a fucking tomato by the time the hostess came back.
Derek was the worst.
But also the best.
And definitely the worst.
Stiles fucking loved it.