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Just Act Normal

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It's not like Stiles wanted to be famous.

It's not like he left Beacon Hills with the explicit goal of becoming a fucking actor.

It just… it just happened.

A lot of stuff 'just happens' to Stiles, actually. His life is like that. Has been like that, for as long as can he remember. Just a string of just-happenings that pull Stiles along whether he likes it or not.

Scott just happened to get turned into a werewolf their sophomore year of high school; Beacon Hills just happened to be the center of everything freaky and supernatural; Stiles just happened to spend the last two years of his high school career acutely aware of his own mortality. So, just like all that crap, Stiles just happened to stumble into acting.

(Okay, well, not so much stumble. First, it had been the drama class at UCLA he'd taken for some grad requirement. Then, it had been one of his college room-mates guilting him into being part of a Youtube video. That turned into work as an extra for rent money. Which, somehow, halfway through junior year, turned into actual roles. Like, in TV shows. Popular TV shows. And then, well, it had really just escalated from there.)

The weird thing is that, unlike dealing with the supernatural, unlike dealing with anything, and anyone, really, related to Beacon Hills, Stiles is good at this. Acting, that is. Like, Oscar for best supporting actor good.

Yeah, Stiles has an Oscar. That just happened too. It's on the mantle back at his house, next to his-

-iles? Stiles." Miranda—his agent—is talking. Something about rest and relaxation and learning when to take a break. Or she was, now she's just looking at him with that expression that reminds him of when Miss McCall used to catch Scott and him hashing out survival strategies at their kitchen table late at night. "Are you listening?"

"Kind of," Stiles says, leaning back into the chair she sat him down in thirty minutes ago, scrunching his nose up as the movement disturbs the leather cushions. Stiles has… an interesting relationship with leather. He hates it. He loves it. Sometimes, if he's had one too many drinks, he wants to hump it…

Yeah, that last one is probably a little weird, but Stiles tries not to dwell on weird crap anymore. He hasn't had to deal with weird crap (read: supernatural crap) since… wow, since freshmen year of college, right? Yeah, seems about—

"I swear, Stiles, if you—"

"I'm listening, Miranda. You want me to take a break? I'm taking a break. Three months, no movies. No guest appearances. No interviews. Nothing. Zip. Nada."

"… you've spent the last week, Stiles, collecting dust in your house. Kelly called me and asked if you were on drugs."

"Kelly came over?" Stiles likes to think of his personal assistant—yeah, it seems fucking ridiculous, when he thinks about it, that Stiles has a personal assistant—as a mix between a chipmunk and a perpetually terrified dachshund. She's human… at least, he thinks. It's just, well, she's high strung. And petite. And she these adorably large eyes that don't seem to match her small face.

"Yes, she came over." Miranda sighs, stands from where she's been leaning against her desk. "I'm saying this as your friend, Stiles. You need a break from all of this. Hollywood. The spotlight. My god, Stiles, you've just won an Oscar. A fucking Oscar, kid. Actors twice your age haven't won any Oscars! And you just did! You don't need to be reading scripts right now. You haven't taken a vacation in years—"

"I've taken—"

"Disappearing from the Red Hood set in Hong Kong for an entire day is not a vacation, Stiles."

Oh, right. Two years ago, Stiles just happened to be Jason Todd in the Red Hood movie. It had been awesome.

… okay, exhausting. But still, awesome.

And, yes, he realizes that, considering his constant lamentations as a teenager about his perpetual role as Robin, actually becoming Robin (and a badass Robin, or, well former Robin) is kind of ironic. Wait, is it ironic? Stiles is pretty sure it's ironic.

"… I keep telling you, I got lost." Stiles is only half-lying. "And I have gone on vacations, Miranda. I went to Las Vegas for my birthday last year. And down to Disneyland last wee—"

"I'm talking about the spotlight, here, Stiles," she sighs. "This isn't what I should be doing, you know. I should be giving you scripts and making you work—"

"Uh, yeah, you should."

"—but I like you, Stiles. And I'm worried about you." She holds up a hand when he opens his mouth to interrupt. "And yes, I give you this speech every year. But I mean it this time, Stiles. I want you out of Hollywood. I want you to go on a real vacation, hon. I want you to remember how the others live. You look… you look worn out, Stiles. And don't tell me it's because you're tired…"

"I love it when you call me hon, Miranda."

"Stiles," she growls at him, and he sighs.

"Fine, fine. Three months, no vegging out in my house. But I want a new script when I get back." He clears his throat when she glares at him. "Please."

"Three months, and you go back to your hometown."

Now that… that makes Stiles freeze. Because he's managed to avoid Beacon Hills since freshmen year of college, and he kind of wants to keep it that way. It's not like he can tell Miranda, though, that going back there is pretty much like walking into a death trap. Or, well, that's a hyperbole. But… come on. It's Beacon Hills. All he remembers about Beacon Hills is death and destruction and blood. Okay that's a hyperbole too, but still

Stiles forgets where he's going with this. All he knows is that he already feels guilty about avoiding the place for so long, and if he goes back, that guilt is going to intensify.

"How about I go to Oahu?" Stiles offers, after a bit. Three years ago, he went there for an indie rom-com. Past the exhaustion and the long waits on set and avoiding his clingy co-star, he remembers clear skies and nice beaches and good food. That's what people do on vacations, right? Go to the beach? Do relaxing things? Not face horrible life-events and people they would rather avoid?

"Joss sent me a new script," Miranda says, eyeing her nails. They're painted blood red. He's always felt that Miranda would make a good vampire. She likes red, like, a lot. Stiles is pretty sure that's one of the prerequisites of becoming a vampire. "He was wondering if, after your break, you'd look at it. I could tell him it's not your type of—"

"Are you threatening me?" Stiles asks, not surprised in the least.

"Yes." Miranda eyes him, all gleaming, dangerous smiles and barely contained glee, and Stiles is suddenly reminded of when Lydia used to give him that same exact look (Stiles is aware that it's a bit unhealthy to compare everyone he knows to people he hasn't seen in years, but, then again, high school was kind of eventful). "Is it working?"

"No," Stiles says. "But, how about we get that break down to a month and a half, and I'll send you pictures to prove I'm actually going home?"

"I've already called your father." Miranda shrugs. On second thought, it's entirely normal to compare Miranda to Lydia. She's a fucking shark. A glorious, terrifying, awesomely amazing, shark, and he respects the fuck out of her. "He's expecting you in two days. And you're staying for three months." She clears her throat. "Please?"

"Are you just trying to get me out of town so you can go shopping for new actors?" Stiles asks. "Are you dropping me or something?"

"Stiles." Miranda rubs at her temples. "It's not—"

"Or is this because Joan had to stop those photos of me getting published? The ones where I'm kissing that guy?" Joan is Miranda's boss. She's an entirely different sort of terrifying. Especially when she's angry. Not that she was angry about Stiles kissing a guy—his bisexuality has been old news since even before Red Hood—just that he was shirtless and half drunk at the time.

"That was four months ago, Stiles. She's over it." Miranda sighs. "This is us telling our star talent to take a break before he uses up all his energy and ends up on Celebrity Apprentice."

Hah, energy. Man, it's time like these that Stiles wants to tell Miranda—wants to tell everyone that keeps saying he's over-exerting himself—what his teenage years were like. How he used to go days without sleeping. How he used to overdose on Adderall just so he could keep up with the others. How he used to run miles and miles chasing and running away from the fucking monster of the week. How he had learned how fragile humans really are, when compared to werewolves, at least. And kanimas. And all the other crap.

He's always wondered if that—if hating himself for being so fragile (and, god, he feels like a pretentious ass for even thinking like that)—is what made him embrace the whole acting thing. If, like, some deep, dark, philosophical part of him wanted to pretend, just for the amount of time he was on screen, that he was someone else. Someone stronger. Normal. Sane. If he still wants that.

Of course, Stiles isn't normal. Even after all this time away from them. From it. He's not normal. Never has been. Never will be. People like that about him, actually. They like his 'energy' and his impulsiveness and his flailing arms and how he overcompensates his facial expressions so they pay attention to that instead of what he's actually saying…

And, there we go, back into the spiral of self-flagellation and bad memories.

"I thought Celebrity Apprentice was cancelled. Like, years ago," Stiles says. "At the very least, I would be on Dancing with the Stars."

"Stiles." Miranda grabs one of the massage balls from her desk, starts squeezing it. Stiles rubs his hand over his mouth to hide his grin.

"Three months," he says. "Three months… getting in touch with my roots—"

"—confronting whatever problem you've been running from—"

"God, you're a manipulative bastard, Miranda." Stiles shakes his head. "Fine. Three months back in Beacon Hills. Then I'm back, and you… you… don't do this again."

"I'll let you go to Maui for your next vacation, how about that?" Miranda raises her eyebrows at him.

"Antarctica. I want to see some goddamned penguins."

"…you saw penguins when you did Falling Backwards. You, literally, Stiles, fell backwards on them."

Falling Backwards was his second official 'Hollywood' movie. He had been the comedic relief to Ryan Gosling's (who is a cool and chill dude, and also awesome) romantic hero, and had gotten an MTV Movie Award for it. And, yes, there had been penguins. Asshole penguins, but Stiles is pretty sure that was because they were bred in captivity and had sticks up their asses from having to deal with micro-managing humans twenty four hours a day.

"That was CGI. The penguins weren't actually used for that stunt," Stiles points out. "And plus, those weren't real penguins, like, wild penguins. There's a differ—"

"Oh, god, shut up, Stiles." Miranda does exaggerated disgust like no other. It's so well done that Stiles is defenseless against it. He can only sigh and lean back in his chair, scrunching his nose up at the smell of leather.

He has no idea why Miranda has leather chairs. They don't match the rest of her office décor.

"So, is this it? You called me in to tell me to get the fuck out of town?" Stiles wonders after a bit.

"Yes, and since I won, you can leave now..." She looks at him. "I'm assuming you're driving?"

Stiles doesn't like airplanes. He actually developed a slight fear of heights senior year of high school, after a flock of harpies thought it would be fun to throw him around a couple of thousand feet up in the air.

… yeah, so, Stiles doesn't like heights. Nothing that prevents him from flying when he needs to, but enough that, if he doesn't have to, he prefers to stay on the ground.

"Yeah, I'll take the Ferrari." What? If Stiles has to go home and get sucked back into the portal to hell that is Beacon Hills, he's going to go back in style.

"Of course you will, it's not like you have a perfectly nice Priu—"

"I haven't been back to Beacon Hills since freshmen year of college, Miranda," Stiles interrupts, standing and stretching his arms over his head. "I'm not going back in a Prius, god. Plus, I never get to use the Ferarri."

"Goodbye, Stiles." Miranda goes back to sit at her desk.

"Yeah." Stiles makes sure his wallet and keys are in his pocket, waves a goodbye on his way out the door. "See ya."

Hah. Unlikely. If some supernatural assface doesn't kill him, someone will. Like Derek. Or Lydia. Or Boyd. Or Erica. Maybe even Danny, although Stiles is pretty sure he's still in Boston.

… okay, not avoiding them as much as not seeing them in person. They e-mail. And text.

Scott won't, mostly because he hasn't been avoiding him. Actually, he came up last year to help Stiles pick out the Ferrari. It's a bright red F12 Berlinetta, and Stiles almost had a seizure when he saw the price, but then Scott had given him one of those looks, and he, well, he bought it.

"Your breakout role was in Frost, where you played the son to Brad Pitt's character, Jonah. How was it," --Samantha Briggs is tiny, kind of annoying when the cameras aren't on, and has a tick in her left eye. As interviewers go, she's not that bad,-- "coming into the business with such high standards? And in a movie that included not only Brad Pitt, but Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, and Sir Patrick Stewart?"

"Uh, well." Stiles always gets this question. He's taken to answering it different every time. Keeps it fresh. "It was kind of overwhelming, to be honest. Half the time I was hiding behind props just to avoid embarrassing myself in front of anyone. Everyone was really great, though, I mean, when I wasn't starstruck."

"Well, now you're a star as well, right?" Oh god, is she flirting? Please don't be flirting. Stiles never handles flirting well.

"Err, no." Stiles laughs—it's the nervous laugh he reserves for awkward interviews. "I'm horrible, really. I don't even know how I got this far."

Okay, so, Stiles is a popular dude nowadays. Which, even now, after about three years as a guaranteed celebrity, is a fucking weird turn of events. And Stiles knows weird. He's grown up with weird, so when he calls something weird… it's weird.


Stiles is a popular guy. He's in magazines, he's on TV, he's getting stalked by paparazzi (or, well, the paparazzi attempt to stalk him, but, most of the time, seeing as how Stiles got ridiculously good at running away from people during high school, they never catch him), he's attending awards shows, and, of course, shooting movies. People says he's intriguing. They say he's adorable. They say he's a good actor. Hell, there's even fan art and fan fiction of him on the internet. And it's, like, graphic. In a sexual nature. Okay, sometimes it's violent. But mostly it's just porn.

(Stiles will never admit to this, but some of it is actually fucking hot, okay?)

He's an actor—popularity comes with the profession. But, well, he's never been able to get used to it. Not just the popularity and the inability to go anywhere without being stared at or openly approached (or mobbed, that's happened once or twice), although that's a large part of it. He's not used to any of it.

Actually, Stiles is pretty sure he's the worst celebrity that's ever been… celebrified. Celebrated? Whatever, he's the worst. The only part of being an actor that Stiles really loves—like, love loves—is the acting.

Acting is… it makes sense to Stiles, for some odd reason. It's like he knows that this is what he should be doing—like he knows that, sure, he might not save the world with it, might not kill all the creatures that come at you in the night, but he's doing something that he enjoys. That he loves. That he's actually fucking really awesome at.

Has Stiles mentioned that he has an Oscar? Because he has an Oscar.

And, god, had he worked for it.

Even now it's kind of like he's still… detached from the whole being-a-celebrity thing. Not the acting part. The rest of it.

But, since being in Complicated, since pouring his heart and soul and blood into the role of Sam, the role of a drug addict with nothing to gain and everything to lose, since winning an Oscar, since reading review after review after review calling him amazing, and him an artist, and him talented, he's starting to, slightly, feel like—well, Stiles doesn't know what that makes him feel. But it's good, whatever it is.

"… I can hear you thinking over the line, dude." Scott, who, uh, he's on the phone with—he kind of forgot in lieu of thinking deep thoughts—says. "Anyway, like I was saying, I'm pretty sure we have a mate bond, Stiles, because I knew you were going to call me seconds before my phone rang."

"Werewolves don't have mates, Scott." Stiles is in his car, about five hours from Beacon Hills. He's already been honked at twice and undergone a ridiculous amount of open-mouthed staring, and he's only been on the road for an hour. "Remember? I asked Der—sourpuss end of junior year and he threw that book at my head?"

"It's sad that you can't even say Derek any more, Stiles," Scott says. "He's not pissed at you. Actually—"

"Nope, if we have this conversation now I'll probably just turn around and charter a plan to Alaska, dude. You know I can do that now? I could even buy my own—"

"Fuck off, you could not buy a plane." There's a pause. "Could you…?"

"Dude," Stiles says. "Yes, I could. I'm rich, remember? My accountant might get pissed off, but I could--"

"I don't think I'm ever going to get over you being famous. And rich," Scott says. Stiles hears shuffling, then a whimper, then a sharp bark. He sighs.

"Are you at the clinic right now? I thought you said you were done for the day. I don't think the animals appreciate you talking to me while you're sticking your finger up their—"

"You're disgusting." Scott, ever the professional vet, sniffs at him over the line. "I'm just checking out some stitches, then I'm going over to hang out at your dad's and wait until you show up so I can punch you."

"I won't be home for five hours, Scott. I think dad'll kill you before then?" Stiles changes lanes to bypass a clunker of a truck.

"Nah, he won't. Remember? We're bros now that I'm the consulting doctor whenever mysterious shit happens." Scott snorts. "Did I tell you last month I had to help a shapeshifter give birth? It was horrible. She kept changing into an elephant, for some reason. I almost got crushed."

"This isn't helping, Scott." Stiles is already starting to feel the pressure in his chest; the sweat collecting at the back of his neck. God, he thought, for a second, that maybe it wouldn't be so bad, getting reminded of all the crap he's headed for. But nope, still as reactive as ever.

"… nothing bad has happened in years, Stiles," Scott says, his voice quieter now. It's the one he uses when he's trying to calm someone down—the one he uses on stray dogs and feral cats and the occasional rogue supernatural that just needs some help. "It's been nice, Stiles. I keep telling you, Beacon Hills has changed. Derek has changed. We've all changed, dude. We're, like, adults. All mature and shit."

Stiles snorts. "Remember when I was in Eyes of—"

"I hated that movie. Hated it. Stop bringing it up," Scott grumbles, and Stiles has to grin. He hates it only because it scared the shit out of him. Stiles, if he says so himself, plays an excellent serial killer.

"I'm just saying, Adam said something like that right before I strung him up and—"

"Stiles," Scott whines. "No. I got nightmares."

"Says the werewolf."

"We've established that werewolves are awesome. Creepy serial killers are not," Scott says. "Anyway, have you told anyone else you're coming back?"

"What do you think, Scott?" Stiles taps his fingers against the steering wheel, changes gears to speed up as he approaches a straight away.

"I think—"Scott stops, pauses for a bit. "Holy fuck, dude, are you coming back in the Ferrari!?"

"No," Stiles lies. He's gotten good at lying. Acting is pretty much lying, after all. Lying to yourself, that is. Which is really useful around people who can fucking hear when you lie. "Why?"

"You—I swear—" Scott growls. "I hate that I can't tell if you're lying, you know that?"

"I know," Stiles says.

"… so do you want me to tell them?" Scott doesn't need to clarify who they are. Stiles grinds his teeth and pushes down on the gas pedal, changes gears, and gets a nice little surge of adrenaline as the car purrs.

As much as he loves this car, he's actually kind of looking forward to seeing the jeep again. Dad told him he still had it—it's in the garage, next to the monstrosity of a truck Stiles had sent his dad the second he had deposited his first big check—and that jeep… that jeep was a pretty big part of his life until college.

"Not yet? How about give me a day to get settled in?"

"I can't believe you're coming back, man!" Scott says, and Stiles takes the slight change of subject as agreement. "I get to show you the clinic, and Allison wants you to come over for dinner—oh, right, I told Allison, and she promised not to tell anyone—and I can show you off in town and… I swear, Stiles, it fuckin' sounds like you're in the Ferarri."

"I'm not, Scott," Stiles says, because he can do stuff like this now. "Maybe the connection is off?"

"You're a horrible person."

"Meh, doesn't keep me up anymore."

"I've gotta say, man, I got nightmares after I watched Eyes of Red." Aiden Lockwood is wearing a bowtie. It… well, actually it works on him. Stiles is pretty sure, though, that his teeth are fake. Real teeth can't be that white. Even whitened ones.

"Me too, dude, me too." Stiles likes the casual interviews the best.

"I mean, how did you do it? Even the physical stuff was nuts."

"Do… the acting?" Stiles shrugs. "I have no idea. It just worked, though."

It seems like that wasn't the answer Aiden was looking for, because his smile falters. "You didn't do any sort of preparation? Any inspiration?"

Hah, inspiration. Yeah, how about a couple years worth of werewolves and harpies and witches. "I watched a lot of serial killer movies," he says.

"I knew it," Scott greets, five hours and thirty minutes later, as Stiles climbs out of the driver's seat. "I knew you were driving the Ferrari."

"No you didn't." Stiles glances around, waves at the half dozen neighbors that are watching him from their front doors, and walks up to give his dad a hug. "Lookin' good, dad. Sorry I was late—construction on the bridge, so I had to come in through town."

"And now everyone knows you're here." The sheriff sighs, crushing him in one of his usual hugs. "They're not going to leave you alone."

"Course not." Stiles scratches his nose, turns around to see that Scott has abandoned them, and is sitting in the Ferrari's driver's seat, looking at the console with a wide smile. "It's uh, good to be back, dad."

Stiles doesn't know if he's lying or not. So far, his arrival in Beacon Hills hasn't been marked by anything overtly horrible. No supernatural attacks as soon as he passed the 'Welcome to Beacon Hills!' sign. No angry werewolves demanding to know why he's been avoiding them for years. Nothing remotely… supernatural. Well, except Scott. But Scott has become, like, the least supernatural werewolf ever, so he doesn't count.

Of course, this could all be a ploy and Stiles could walk into his old room and into a trap. Or a spell. Or something.

"Good to have you back, son." The sheriff lets go. "Are your bags in the trunk?"

"Nah, passenger seat."

It takes twenty minutes to get Scott out from behind the wheel, and by then, the sun has set, and all Stiles wants to do is eat, take a shower, and then sleep for a billion hours.

What actually happens, however, is that Stiles is given a twenty minute tour of the house he grew up in, by both his dad and Scott, who are now, apparently, best buds. Almost nothing is different—well, dad's patched up a few areas, and all the appliances were replaced last year, but nothing to grant an entire tour. He is fed some horrible casserole monstrosity that tastes amazing but would have his personal trainer (oh, shut up, a lot of his roles have been physical, and Miranda threatened him with bodily harm if he hadn't agreed to one) throwing a hissy fit. He is then given a two hour low-down on the latest Beacon Hills gossip, both natural and supernatural.

Half of it, he doesn't pay attention to, the other half he catalogs in his head as reasons not to make coming back to Beacon Hills a regular occurrence.

For instance, Linda Greenberg disowned her son for a week last month when he ran over their cat with the lawn mower. The cat didn't die, although now it has three legs. The owner of the new coffee shop in town is a fae—he apparently makes a mean Chai latte. Boyd is planning on proposing to Erica next month, and keeps dragging Scott out to shop for rings. There's a family of brownies living on the edge of the Hale territory, and they're, according to the Sheriff 'actually really friendly and kind of adorable.' Derek is still dad's 'best deputy' (yeah, even after five years trying to get used to the idea of Derek as the law, Stiles can't), and Isaac is now the guidance counselor at Beacon Hills High.

Okay, it's not like Stiles has completely divorced himself from Beacon Hills. Sure, the last time Stiles saw any of the wolf pack was at Scott and Allison's wedding three years ago, and he'd been kind of catatonic because shooting for Falling Backwards had literally just ended, so he hadn't slept in two days to get to the wedding on time. But, well, Scott keeps him up on what's happening, so he already knows some of the stuff they're talking about.

Man, now he feels guilty again. Or, well, more guilty. He has friends back in LA, but, well—

"Stiles, are you falling asleep?"

"Wha huh buh?" Stiles says, because he is falling asleep. He doesn't even know who asked the question.

"Right, he's done. I'll take him up, Sheriff," Scott says.

His room is the same as he left it. Of course it is, because every time his dad comes up to LA to see him, he asks Stiles when he's coming back.

Damn it, guilty conscience, shut up for like five fucking seconds.

"So a lot of people say you're adorable off screen, and terrifying on screen." Sindy with an S keeps bumping his ankle with her shoe. She reminds him of the gremlin Scott had killed senior year. She also has a weird habit of just saying non-questions and looking at him expectantly. "No matter what kind of role you're in."

"Uh, they do?" Stiles scratches the back of his head, grimacing as he messes up his hair and the stylist behind the camera glares at him. He misses his buzz cut.


"Well, my friends called me Bambi back in high school," Stiles says, gestures at his eyes. "I was kind of skeletal, back then, so my eyes like, popped out of my face."

"I've seen your high school class photos," Sindy says. He glances at Kelly, who is literally face-palming. "You were adorable."

"Yeah. Okay." Stiles blinks at her. "Anyway, I guess I just tend to choose roles that have a bit of terror in them. Those are always the fun ones."


"Oh god." Stiles hears Kelly moan.

Stiles wakes up when someone punches him in the gut. Then, somehow, his head still cocooned in a mess of blankets, he flounders off the bed and hits his elbow, hard, on the wooden floor.

"I swear, if you didn't need your face to make all that fucking money, I would break your nose."

"Oh, hey, Erica," he greets, sitting up—gingerly—and uncovering his head. She's standing over him, dressed for work (because it's morning, he's pretty sure it's morning) in a pencil skirt and top that make her look like a dominatrix, for some reason, her lips pulled back in a snarl and her eyes glowing yellow. Man, she must make the scariest teacher. "Nice haircut."

"Five years, and you don't even tell us you're back in town, dickhead?" she asks. "I had to smell it on Scott!?"


"You're…" She turns around, walks a couple of steps towards his desk—enough for him to notice the lethal looking heels she's got on—then back again. "You're ridiculous, Stiles."

"I know." Stiles nods. "I like to avoid things. I'm really good at avoiding things. Ignoring thi—"

"Not seeing your friends in five years?!" Erica seethes.

"We saw each other at Scott's wedding! That's three years! And I've been—"

"You were asleep halfway through the ceremony."

"We've texted!"

"Not the same." Erica crouches in front of him, her snarl turning into angry pursed lips. "I missed you. We all missed you. It's not the same seeing you on screen, and it's not like we could ever go see you in LA…

"… you could," Stiles says, and wonders why he actually means that. Sometimes he really doesn't understand himself. Wasn't he just talking about avoidance? Now he wants them to see him? What? Stiles, come on man, learn some consistency, here. "You could come see me."

"It's not a hellmouth anymore." Erica reaches out, ruffles his hair, and he has to smile. "The Hale territory has gone respectable, you know. You're safe here."

"You just punched me in the gut, Erica. What's your defin—"

"You can handle it, you're way cooler than Batman."

"I know, right?" Stiles gets up. "So are you glad I'm back? Oh, and have you told anyone else…?

"Yes, everyone knows." She cackles—cackles—when Stiles whimpers. "And yes, I'm glad—we're all glad—you're back."

"… do you want an autograph or something?" Stiles looks at her suspiciously. "I've never felt this…valued by you before." He pauses. "Is this because I have an academy award? Is that it? Are you leaving Boyd in the dust and running away with me to—"

"Get up, we're going out to coffee," she interrupts.

"What? But… no." Stiles is an adult. He doesn't have to go to coffee at… ugh, it's six in the morning. "It's six in the morning, Erica."


"And I'm on an involuntary vacation. I shouldn't be up this—okay okay I'm coming, shit." He dodges the hand that's trying to grab at his hair and hurries over to get a pair of jeans and a t-shirt from his bag.

"I'll be downstairs. You have ten minutes or you're walking."

"Or I could just not show up," Stiles grumbles under his breath, stomping towards the bathroom.

It's interesting, really, how quickly he got back into the groove of being old-Stiles. Back in LA, he's actually an adult. With adult responsibilities. But here, he already knows he's going to feel like a kid again.

Or, well, there's no 'knowing' about it; he already feels like a kid again. Already. And he's only seen Scott and Erica.

Granted, Erica is… a handful. But, fuck, what's going to happen when he sees Derek?

He flinches at that thought, because seeing Derek again is not going to be like seeing Erica. Or anyone else. It's going to be awkward and he's pretty sure there's a slight chance of him getting a boner.

Because, and he's never told anyone—anyone—this, but Derek fucking Hale was the reason he found out he was bi. Hell, Derek fucking Hale is probably the reason a lot of people found out they were bi. The man…the man is like…yeah, okay, this is going to sound horrible and, sure, he's objectifying the dude, but the man is like sex on a fucking stick.

There. He said it—thought it.

Of course, Derek makes up for being hit with the attractive stick by being an asshole in most scenarios. Scott has been telling him the guy has changed—become almost approachable—but Stiles suspects that's just Scott making up for being mean to him in high school.

He washes his face and gets dressed, and he's downstairs in ten minutes. Dad is leaning against the kitchen counter, drinking his coffee, and the familiarity of it all kind of hits Stiles hard. This is what he's been missing. All his fault, he knows. But having dad stay at his house in LA has never felt so…comfortable. Normal (well, Stiles normal). Right.

"Morning," Stiles says.

"Erica brushed past me." The sheriff nods towards the front door. "I couldn't stop her."

"Yeah, yeah." Stiles fidgets a bit, grimaces. "You want… you want to have lunch today? At the diner, or, if you're uncomfortable—"

"—the guys have been wanting to see you. Pick me up at noon, and be prepared for mobs."

"Sounds cool, dad." Stiles hugs him, then walks out the door to see Erica leaning up against her car.

"We're taking a drive in that," --Erica motions at the closed garage door-- "before you get back to LA."

"Nope," Stiles says cheerfully. He gets in the car, buckling his seatbelt just as she opens the door to the driver's side.

"You look good, by the way," Erica says, pulling out. Miss Goldstein across the way is peeking out at them from behind her rose bushes. He waves, and she ducks down to scratch at the dirt.

"…yeah, that just doesn't sound right coming from you, Erica."

"I'm being nice," Erica seethes.

"Again, doesn't sound right." Stiles grins at her when she snarls. "So, when did you guys find out--?"

"This morning, when I walked into Scott's and he smelled like you, dipshit." Erica eyes him. Derek hung up when I told him. He's probably going to kill you."

"He's an officer of the law. He can't kill me."

"He can punch you."

"We'll be in public."

"We'll go somewhere private just so—"

"I'll pay you. I have money now. Loads of it."

Erica snorts and starts laughing, and it's a beautiful sight. "I missed you, Stiles."

Stiles doesn't know whether he hates or loves the red carpet. Or, wait. The Red Carpet. Capitalized. He's terrified of it, he knows that much. Knows that he's just a second away from saying something horrendously awkward that will be on the internet within the hour. He respects it. He may or may not spend half his time on it going slack-jawed whenever someone decidedly more famous and definitely prettier comes within ten feet of him. But he doesn't know if he loves it or hates it.

"You're nominated for an academy award tonight. You think you're gonna get it?" Sandra has her microphone shoved in his face. There are camera flashes going off all around him. He's pretty sure the makeup Miranda forced on him is melting. His suit is fucking tight and uncomfortable, and all he wants to do is disappear into a dark corner and maybe hiss at one or two people.

"Hell no." He smiles, scratches his chin. "Are you kidding? Just being nominated is like a fu—like some alternate reality." He should know about alternate realities; he was the one that got Isaac back after he was pulled into one. "The other nominees are way better than me."

"I don't know, Stiles." Sandra purses her lips at him. "A lot of people were very impressed with your performance. Do you have any plans for a follow up movie?"

"My agent told me no more scripts for a while." Stiles laughs, even though he wants another fucking script, for fuck's sake. "Says I work too hard."

"Well, no argument there. Ten big movies in, what, four years? Before that, numerous work in independent films and television. " Sandra looks down at her little notepad, back up at him with a beaming smile. "I think I was just as surprised as everyone else when you weren't nominated for Eyes of Red."

The crowd around them screams, and Stiles looks up to see Emma Stone walking towards him. Well, not towards him, but towards his general direction. Oh god, sometimes Stiles thinks he's in a bad reality TV show. Especially when gorgeous people—


"Oh, right, sorry. Got distracted." Stiles gives her his best self-deprecating smile.

When they get to the coffee shop—and Stiles confirms with Erica that it's the new one… the one that's run by the fae—he's managed to temporarily fool himself into forgetting about the impending reunion, and is actually having a fun time annoying Erica.

See? Sixteen year old Stiles. Full swing.

It's only when she parks the car, and then comes around to bodily pull him out of the passenger side seat, that he gives in to the terror again. He doesn't show it, though—that would be weak. Plus, Stiles is an actor. If he can get through hanging upside down off a skyscraper for six hours for stunt work, he can handle one little itty bitty reu—

He sees them when Erica pushes him in through the front door of the coffee shop, and has to think somber, serious thoughts to stop the meep that is threatening to work it's way out of his mouth. Boyd is there, looking silently amused, like always. Lydia is there, glaring at him in righteous indignation. Isaac is there, and is, strangely enough, beaming. Allison is there, waving at him. Scott is there, too, mouthing an apology at him. And Derek is there, in all his gruff, manly glory, just staring at him. Oh god, he's in uniform. Call a fucking ambulance, because Stiles is about to have a -

"You stink like terror," Erica says from next to him, pushing until he's seated across from Derek, and in-between Scott and Isaac at a surprisingly large table. He looks around for a bit, smiling, maybe a little too wide, at everyone.

"Morning, guys. Kind of early, huh?"

"I really want to decimate you right now, Stilinski," Lydia greets, her head cocked. "But seeing as how you're public property—"

Derek actually snarls at that; Stiles has forgotten how powerful the sound is.

"—did you guys see last month's Vogue?" Allison looks at him, then around. "He was in it. Lookin' good, Stiles."

"… you didn't tell me he was in Vogue," Erica says from next to Boyd. Stiles leans back in his chair, staring back at Derek as he stares back at him.

"Missed you." Isaac leans in to nudge at him, and he turns with a grin. "We're going to hang out while you're back, right?"

"I'll let you drive my car," Stiles offers, and he hears Erica and Scott gasp.

"You wouldn't let me—" Scott whines.

"You're not Isaac." Stiles gestures at Isaac. "I mean, look at him. Those curls. Those eyes. The pouty set of those Grecian lips—"

"How long are you back?" Derek interrupts, voice low, guttural like he has something stuck in his throat. Ugh. If the phrase gird your loins was ever applicable to a situation in Stiles life, it's here and now. Or, really, any situation where Derek's involved.

"Three months or so," Stiles says, going for casual. "Forced vacation, and all."

"Forced?" Derek asks. Stiles looks around to see that the others are looking between him and Derek with way too much amusement. Like they were expecting this. Hoping for it.


"Miranda, err, that's my agent, says I work too much." He shrugs. "Thus, forced vacation."

"… It's better now. Here," Derek says after a bit, looking down at his coffee, and Stiles groans.

"A—all right, then, I need some caffeine before we do this." Stiles gets up. He does not run to the counter, even though he kind of wants to. He would've, probably, back in high school, or even college. But he's an adult now, and adults—especially adults in a crowded coffee shop, where about ten people have already started giving him the oh-crap-is-that-who-I-think-it-is lookare calm and collected. Or, well, they try to be.

There are three people in front of him at the counter, so he stands, and waits, and definitely does not try to catch glimpses of the group out of the corner of his eye. He doesn't need to see, really, to know that they're all staring at him, muttering amongst themselves. Probably discussing ways to kill him.

"Excuse me, are you… are you Stiles Stilinski?" A squeaky voice says from behind him, and he turns to see a gaggle of high school girls gawking up at him.

"Uh, yeah," he says, and grins when their eyes go wide.

"Can we get a picture?" One of them asks. He really doesn't get why people do this, but it's not like he hates it. Okay, a small part of him really loves being, like, liked so much that complete strangers want pictures with him. Okay, not a small part, a rather large part.

He scratches at the back of his head, because as much as he loves the idea, the execution is still kind of awkward. "Yeah, sure."

It takes ten minutes, because they all want individual pictures, and then a group picture, and then they start telling him that they saw his interview in Vogue and that they didn't know the scars that run from his shoulder to his sternum are actually real and does he really not have a girlfriend (or boyfriend, one of them point out) at the moment, because if so they volunteer.

It's awkward, getting a drink with them behind him, but he's used to awkward by now, and manages to stay cool.

In this case, cool as in not running away. Far away. Although, considering what the conversation he's going to have after he gets his coffee…well, yeah, running away sounds good. The barista asks for a picture too, which he has to lean across the counter for, and then he orders a black tea, which means there is no wait time whatsoever.

By the time he gets back to the others, he's exhausted, but in a good way. If that makes sense.

"I can't believe you're a celebrity," Lydia says. "I should've at least had se—"

"Lydia!" Scott makes a face.

"Can we get to the part where we tell Stiles he's been an ass?" Boyd says, looking at his watch. God, the dude is hot in a suit. Why are they all so much hotter than him? It's things like this that make him wonder why the hell he's the one, out of all of them, that somehow became an actor. A celebrity. He's not horrible looking—people call him cute and adorable and magnetic (whatever that means)—but he's not handsome. Like, classically handsome. Derek is handsome. Scott is handsome. Isaac is handsome. Boyd is handsome. Stiles is relatively good looking, and he can lie convincingly enough that people like what he does on screen. "because I have an eight o clock appointment and the guy is not a morning person."

"Then why did he make the appointment in the morning? Stiles asks before he can stop himself, takes an innocent sip of his tea when Boyd just glares.

"You're an ass," Allison says, with a lot of enthusiasm. Derek grunts in agreement; the rest nod, except Boyd, who's still glaring. "For not coming back to Beacon Hills. For not talking to us—"

"We text, guys. And e-mail! And we're all facebook friends! I know Isaac follows me on twitter. He keeps retweeting my crap!" Stiles doesn't know why he's defending himself, it's just going to make it worse.

"—not talking to us enough," Allison finishes, and Stiles slumps down in his seat.

"Yeah, okay," he says. "I'm an ass."

"Damn right you are," Scott says, and even Stiles gives him a look.

"You're not involved, McCall," Boyd says. "You helped him pick out that monstrosity of a car he's always in."

"That," Scott beats Stiles to the chase, "is a Ferarri F12 Berlinetta, and you will give it the respect it deserves, Vernon."

"You went there? Really?" Boyd purses his lips. "Mature, Scott."

"You know you missed us." Isaac grins at him again. "Only because we make great entertainment."

Stiles sighs, looks down at his tea. "I missed you."

"Then, why didn't you ever just—" Derek looks angry. Not werewolf crazy red eyes angry. Just… normal angry. "You just…left."

There's a very long, very pregnant pause.

"On that note, Boyd and I have to go." Erica is the first one to speak, pulling Boyd up with her. "Stiles, you can walk home, right? Or get a ride from someone?"

"Oh, we've gotta leave too." Allison gets up, eyes Scott until he follows suit.

"But I wanna watch," Isaac says. Or whines. Even as Lydia grabs him and starts pulling him away. It's amazing, actually, that it only takes them a couple of seconds to clear out. Leaving him with Derek. Alone.

Yeah, they were probably planning this.

"Did you ever think, when you started out in the business, that you'd get this successful this quick? Your story isn't a normal one, Stiles." Katy is quick and witty and Stiles is actually kind of in love with her already.

"Honestly? Hell no." Stiles leans back in his chair. "The first time I was in front of a camera I almost threw up—"

"That was in, err, Hellbent?"

"No, Youtube." Stiles grins. "My room mate guilted me into acting."

"Well, obviously you've gotten past it."

"Not really." Stiles taps his foot against his chair, points at the camera trained on both of them. "I'm terrified of that thing. It's terrifying."

What he doesn't say is that he got used to terrifying things early in life, so getting over his fear of cameras was kind of easy.

"Oh, come on." Katy eyes him. "You're up for an academy award and the majority of the movies you've been in have gotten rave reviews. You're a natural, Stiles."

"…oh, keep going." Stiles flails his hands so she's distracted from the way his cheeks are turning red. "This is great for my ego."

"No, but really, Stiles…"

"Really?" He shrugs. "I think most of it has to do with my manager. And maybe just dumb luck. A lot of dumb luck, actually. Like, crazy amounts of dumb luck."

Chapter Text

"Derek," Stiles says.

"Stiles," Derek grunts.

"… are you okay with me being back?" Stiles eyes a group of women that have been staring at him for a while now. He wonders if they should take this to somewhere more private, but he can't really think of anywhere. The Hale house is renovated—that's where Derek lives—but it's not like he can invite himself over. It would be awkward having Derek over at his house, since dad is probably still there. And it's not like they can sit in Derek's squad car.

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"Because I haven't been back in five years and --" Stiles takes a deep breath, deflates into his chair, "-- have kind of been avoiding you. Everyone. The town."

"We talk on the phone." Derek picks at his cup, obviously not ready to get at what's bothering him. "We saw each other at the wedding."

"It was just—" Stiles cuts himself off, looks around to see that they're being watched, and scoots over so he's sitting next to Derek, instead of across. "After Peter--after that thing freshmen year, I was kind of… kind of in a bad place."

Stiles doesn't like to think about what made him want to avoid Beacon Hills like the plague. What made him leave after that first winter break, and start making excuses not to come back for holidays. He doesn't like to think about sharp claws and pain and how, when you're slumped against a dirty concrete wall a certain way, and your chest is shredded down to the muscle and bone, you can see the jagged edges where the skin is ripped and white bone where your sternum shines through. He doesn't like to think about it, but if anyone deserves to know why he's been such an ass for the last five years, he supposes it's Derek.

"I know." Derek leans forward, expression pinched and angry, and Stiles nods.

"I just needed some, I don't know, some fuckin' normality, and I guess I should've told you that sooner—"

"Over the phone? Or twitter?" Derek's lips twitch. The fucker. "Being an actor is normal, Stiles?"

"Fuck you, dude. I'm being serious here. You want reasons; I give you reasons." Stiles takes a sip of tea. "And, yeah, I handled it wrong—"

"Yes, you did," Derek says, but softly.

"—but it's not like any of us ever handled anything right. I mean, for instance, the kani—"

"Really, we're going that far back?"

"Or the Alpha pack."

"They were—"

"Or when you decided to tell my dad about the whole Beacon Hills supernatural scene—"

"That was—"


"I get it," Derek growls, and Stiles looks around to make sure no one saw the way his eyes had been red for a second.

"You wanna take the he-wolf shit down a notch, dude? You're in public. With an actor."

"My eyes will screw the pictures up." Derek points at said-eyes, and Stiles stops the groan in the back of his throat. He had seriously forgotten how pretty Derek's eyes were. Fucking asshole and his fucking pretty eyes and his stupid hot uniform and the scruff, for fuck's sake. Stiles had been on set with a naked Ryan Gosling and he hadn't been this affected. Brad Pitt had hugged him, and he hadn't been this affected. Jennifer Lawrence had kissed him (it was on-screen, but still) and he hadn't been this affected. But, no, all Derek has to do is get within a foot of him and be all Dereky and, boom, here comes nineteen year old Stiles again.

Or, well, if he had been conscious during Scott and Allison's wedding, he would've probably thought the same thing, so… twenty three year old Stiles? The fact is; that Derek is an asshole, and should be required to walk around with a bag over his head. For the sake of the children.

"… you're not bothered by the whole…?" Stiles gestures around him. "The no privacy thing?"

"They're not bothering us." Derek looks at where a woman is trying to take pictures of them with her iPhone. She seems frustrated. "Weren't we talking about—"

"I'm sorry," Stiles says, low, looking down at his lap because he wants to be serious, but if he looks up, and sees Derek's… everything, he's going to start cracking jokes as a defense mechanism. "For leaving and not explaining. I'm not sorry for leaving, but I should've at least made you guys come up to see me in LA. I just needed away for a bit, you know?"

"I know."

"Good, good." Stiles takes a sip of tea, waits for a bit to see if Derek is going to say anything. When he doesn't, Stiles glances up to see him glaring at the woman with the iPhone. "So, I know this doesn't make up for—"

"We're goo—"

"Shut upshit." Stiles glares at him, and Derek raises his eyebrows, almost surprised, and maybe a little amused. "I know this doesn't make up for… everything, especially considering we were pretty close—"

"We still are. We're pack."

"… god you're like a broken record with the pack thing, okay. Yes, I get it. Where was I?" Stiles rubs his temples. "Fuck it's too early for this. All right… I'm back for three months, at the least, don't give me that face, and, I'm hoping, if nothing crazy goes down, we can hang out?"

"Nothing crazy is going to—"

"Ah! Don't say it!" Stiles kicks him again. If they were in private, he would've probably done something stupid like clap his hand over Derek's mouth, maybe flail around a bit. "Scott says that whenever you say shit like that, crazy shit does happen."

"Fine." Derek leans back in his chair, takes a long sip of his drink, and Stiles does not watch the way his throat bobs as he swallows.

"Fine." Stiles looks at the table, looks at his drink, looks down at his lap. "So, are we—"

"We're good, Stiles," Derek growls.

"Man, Scott was right." Stiles is… a little happy. He feels, and excuse the cliché, like some big ass weight has been lifted from his shoulders. And he's probably going to have to repeat this conversation with everyone, but this… this is a start.

"Scott? Right about something? Surprising," Derek snorts.

"You have changed."

"Me?" Derek makes a face. "What about you-?"

"Excuse me." Stiles turns to where the woman with the iPhone is standing over them. "are you Stiles Stilinski?"

"I think I auditioned, like, fifty times for Jason Todd?" Stiles says. "And for a couple of them they had me in this makeshift mask. It wasn't even cool or anything, just like, some plastic thing someone had bought from the local dollar store. And they wanted me to be all serious in it, but for like, five minutes I was just cracking up—"

"And you still got the part?" The guy from Variety is old and slightly pudgy and seems to think that his jokes are genius. His assistant is cool, though.

"I don't know how the fu—how that happened, honestly," Stiles says. "Half the time they said I didn't even look like Jason Todd, so I had to get a personal trainer and start beefing up. That was…yeah that was hard."

"What about for Complicated?"

"What about it?" Stiles scratches his nose.

"I heard you lost about fifty pounds for the role."

"Oh, right, yeah…" Stiles laughs. "That was actually easier than beefing up. I'm a skinny dude, naturally, so --" he shrugs, doesn't say anything about how, when he was a kid, Adderall had pretty much made it impossible for him to be anything other than a bag of bones wrapped in sarcasm and wit, "-- it was the last ten that were kind of a challenge. But, I mean, when you do something like that… I dunno, it just felt right to not be some normal looking dude and then say, 'oh I'm a drug addict' ya know? I thought I should at least try to be genuine."

"I still can't believe you're a cop," Stiles says, eyeing Derek's squad car. "It's just—"

"You've mentioned this before." Derek opens the driver's seat and gets in, looking at Stiles through the window until he climbs in the passenger side. "At the grad ceremony? Every time we've seen each other since I became a co—a deputy."

"Oh, come on." Stiles points at him. "You were a wanted criminal, Derek. You hid in my room… from my dad. I mean, it's just—yeah, okay. I'll stop."

Stiles wants to argue, if only to make it seem less awkward being around each other again after so long. That's what Derek and he used to thrive on—the arguments, the banter, the nitpicking—but now he just feels…out of his element. For all intents and purposes, he doesn't really know who Derek is any more. Hell, he doesn't know who any of them are any more. Oh sure, he knows who they are in theory, he knows what used to get them pissed off or annoyed, he knows what the looks they give him mean, hey, he even knows what they look like bloody and exhausted. But he hasn't been here, he hasn't been with them, for years, and now…now he just feels out of it. Feels like he doesn't know them as they are now.

Of course, it's completely his fault, but he wasn't lying when he told Derek he had needed a break. From everything; the supernatural, the almost terrifying camaraderie everyone had felt with everyone else by the time high school had finished, the entire fucking town of Beacon Hills, even from being the kid he was back in high school (yeah, okay, he's only twenty five, and he realizes he sounds like a douche saying that, but still).

He was tired, physically, and mentally, of being the hyper-vigilant, anxious, quick-on-his-feet, scarily selfish Stiles, even before he went away to college. And then when he had come back for winter break, and Peter had almost ripped his heart out (literally), he realized that he wasn't just tired, he was done.

At least, temporarily.

Which led to the whole, you know, acting thing, and the not coming back to Beacon Hills except for Scott's wedding thing, and the only talking to friends through texting and calling and e-mailing and other forms of social media thing.

Derek says they're 'good' but Stiles wants to make sure they're… good good. All of them. Not just Derek… but maybe especially Derek. He is the Alpha, after all.

Because, and this is just typical of Stiles, now that he's back, he's remembering all the good parts about Beacon Hills. The people, the familiarity, the lack (or at least temporary lack) of paparazzi, the family, the pack. And it would be nice coming back here for a long weekend, or maybe for a couple of months every year. To unwind. To get his fucking head out of the clouds.

"Of the two of us, I think your profession is the weird one," Derek mutters as he pulls out of the parking lot.

"Yeah, but I'm good at it," Stiles says. "Or, well, the acting part… I'm okay at. The other part, not so much. But people tend to—"

"You're good at it Stiles. It's weird, it doesn't make sense… but you're good at it." Derek turns towards the main road, and Stiles can't stop from snorting.

"God, this is an alternate reality, isn't it? I'm going to wake up, and I'm still going to be in high school, and you're gonna throw me up against a wall or something. Maybe smash my head into a steering wheel." He clears his throat pointedly. "Hard."

"Where am I dropping you off?" Derek asks, completely ignoring that last comment.

"I guess the house." Stiles really has no idea what he's going to do for the rest of the day. He's meeting dad for lunch, but until then? Well, he'll probably do what he was doing back at his house in LA before Miranda had sent him here; vegging out.

Maybe he'll look himself up. That shit's addictive.

"Fine," Derek says, switching lanes. Stiles catches the driver in the car next to them staring at him, and waves.

"Have you seen any of the memes about you?" Ben asks, and Stiles groans when he hands him an iPad, where there's a gif-set of him drinking from straws and generally being spazzy.

"I've seen this one." Stiles still thinks it's trippy seeing himself on a screen. Any screen. Even in a gif. It's just… weird. Like, he's going to be sucking on that straw forever. "That's not me acting. That's seriously how I drink. I can't stop. I've tried. My manager has tried. It doesn't work. I have, like, some oral fixation. They had to cut out entire scenes from the Jason Todd movie because I didn't look 'serious' enough."

"No." The guy is cracking up.

"Yes." Stiles leans back. "When I did Eyes of Red I managed to make it look… creepy, somehow. Like Hannibal Lecter, ya know, when he makes that noise," -- Stiles makes the noise-- " after the whole chianti and fava beans speech?"

"I remember, now, in, uh," -- Ben snaps his fingers, trying to remember something, apparently -- "in The True, you played that cop, and—"

"—and the whole interrogation scene with the beer and the… yeah." Stiles sighs. "This is better than the one where someone photo-shopped my head into gay porn, though."

"Dad, your deputies are a bunch of fanboys." Stiles pauses from where he's setting down the take out containers on the sheriff's desk. It had taken twenty minutes to get to his dad's office after walking in the station doors, because everyone had deemed it a matter of life and death to make him act out their favorite movie lines. If he has to repeat that goddamned speech from Taken one more time. Shit, he hadn't even been in the movie. "And fangirls."

"I thought we were going out for lunch." The sheriff opens his container slowly, almost… hesitantly, and breathes a sigh of relief when he sees the burger and fries inside. "Weren't we going to eat in the diner?"

"I made an executive decision." Stiles falls back in one of the chairs in front of the desk, stretches out his legs in front of him. "Keep a low profile for at least a week."

"I'm guessing that's why" -- he gestures at the Mets cap Stiles is twirling around his finger, then at the old UCLA hoodie he's wearing --"you're in disguise."

"It sounds like you're making fun of me, dad." Stiles opens his own container, shoves some curly fries in his mouth. His trainer would kill him for even looking at the things. The dude is terrifying. "Are you making fun of your rich and successful son?"

"Someone's gotta at least attempt to keep your feet on the ground, Stiles." The sheriff gives him a look. "I mean, the Ferrari, really? And the autographs? The pictures? I've had about fifty people in here already asking whether they can meet you. Or use you in a commercial. Or—"

"Do they think you're my manager or something?" Stiles is not going to tell his dad that, okay, yeah, he wants to impress people. He left Beacon Hills an average dude with bigger than average self-esteem problems, and a ridiculous amount of mental hang-ups, and… and it's nice to just prove himself. Worthy of something. Worthy of what… Stiles doesn't know yet.

Adoration, maybe?

"Hell if I know, kid," The sheriff says through a mouthful of burger. "Now shut up and eat."

He listens, for once, and the next ten minutes are spent in companionable silence. Or, well, relative silence. Stiles is a loud eater, and a loud drinker, and he's fidgeting because he hadn't gone on a run this morning and usually that helps him wind down before he starts his day, and Sheriff Stilinski mutters when he eats. So, again, relative companionable silence.

Stiles misses that, when he's back in LA. Usually, it's just silence (relative silence), since Stiles doesn't really hang around (a lot, at least) with his LA friends. Acquaintances. Co-stars. Whatever. He eats on-set when he's doing a movie, and that's always fun, because movie personnel always have ridiculous stories. But during down-time? Seven times out of ten it's all Stiles.

Except when Miranda is forcing him out to benefits and award shows and festivals, of course. Then it's mostly just a blur of flashing cameras and putting his foot in his mouth and wondering how the hell all of this happened.

So, the lunch is nice, and when Stiles drives home—in his jeep, and wow, had he forgotten how horribly difficult the thing is to drive—he doesn't even get looked at.

Now, that part. That part is amazing. Stiles is used to the looks, now. Used to being as visible as you can get, but he really misses being able to go outside and just be anonymous. Even when he's in a hoodie and a hat and even fucking sunglasses, it takes a lot of maneuvering to go out, to say, buy a pack of beer. Or groceries, for fuck's sake. Here, though, he's hoping that at least his prodigal return will, maybe, possibly, hopefully, be uneventful.

He's pretty sure that paparazzi aren't going to be a problem here, so at least he won't have to worry about getting photographed mid-sneeze. There might be one or two—the doggish ones—but dad will take care of them. Legally, of course.

Or maybe not so legally.

Now, supernatural-wise? Stiles has no fucking clue what it's really been like since he left. He knows bits and pieces, but only what they've told him and what he's managed to glean from reading between the lines. He knows there was an uptick of activity around junior year of college, knows that even that was nothing compared to the shit they had gone through in high school, and he knows that it's been relatively quiet—as in, not violent—since Jackson reappeared (after disappearing junior year of high school, the douche) and then left again.

No one ever gave him a lot of details over the phone. He never asked. It was a good system, at the time, but now that Stiles is back, well… his curiosity is a persistent little motherfucker. He's pretty sure he'll find out soon enough, if only by bugging Scott.

"So, you understand the set-up?" Director Park is a fucking genius, and Stiles is terrified of him. Fuck, the dude directed Oldboy, and the Vengeance series (among other equally twisted movies) back in South Korea. He's fucking nuts. He's a genius, but he's nuts. Three months on set, and Stiles still doesn't understand how he bagged the role of the nameless serial killer. Then again, that's kind of common-place for Stiles. The not understanding thing. "How you're going to walk in, and all… that?"

Stiles looks at the set around them. It's dark, and grimy, and disgusting. Dark stains cover the wall, water drips down from the ceiling, the floor and ceiling look half-rotted. In the middle, though, there's a sterile metal gurney, next to a camera set-up and a wooden bed-stand that holds (fake) knives. Bill, the one he's killing today, is nervously jumping up and down next to the gurney, glancing back at him every couple of seconds. The makeup department has already outfitted him with fake blood and dirt and prosthetics, but it's all up to Stiles how he does this.

How he kills him.

Fuck this is some dark shit, but it's cool, right? It's fake. He can do it, just… pretend to be someone else.

Pretend to be Peter. Psychotic, terrifying, horrifying Peter.

Yeah, that'll work. Since filming began he's been spending hours in front of the mirror, trying to perfect that smirk Peter used to get. And the way his eyes had always been open a little too wide. And the way he walked, with long, slow strides. The way his claws had slid through Stiles' skin and muscle, slow and unhurried and almost in awe of what he had been doing.

"Yeah," he says. "I got this."

Stiles was right, earlier, about having to have the talk with everyone.

Over the next week, he's cornered by Lydia (she hits him, then kicks him, then cries all over him, then takes him out to lunch and keeps uploading photos of them together to Instagram), then Isaac (who is cool about it, considering he's cool about everything), then Boyd and Erica again (Boyd just kind of smirks at him, which is what he's always done, except now it seems more smirky than usual, and Erica forces him to try out her new recipe for curry, which is actually kind of delicious), then Allison (who punches him, because apparently no one has grown out of the showing affection through violence phase, and then corrals him into doing a promotion for her non-profit to make it up to her).

He doesn't have a talk with Scott so much as a shamefully immature bro-fight, but it still does the trick.

They all hang out at Derek's house on Sunday, and when Scott starts talking about the shapeshifter and her kid again, and no one looks at him strangely or tells Scott to shut up, Stiles starts to think that maybe he's forgiven. Or, well, not forgiven, more like brought back into the fold.

Of the supernatural, which is exactly what he had been trying to avoid by avoiding Beacon Hills itself, but now he's starting to realize that he's over that.

The avoidance thing.

That's not to say that he wants something freaky to happen. But if (when?) it does, he's pretty sure he's going to be able to handle it better than he did last time. With the running and the avoiding and the not talking to anyone for far too long.

"—think he's daydreaming or something? Stiles… Stiles." Someone flicks their fingers in front of his face, and he blinks to focus his gaze on Allison. "Bored?"

"Wha--?" He looks around, where he's sitting on Derek's couch (it's comfy, too comfy, almost), sees that Neo is learning kung-fu on the TV on the wall and that everyone, save for Isaac, who already left for his apartment, because tomorrow is Monday and he has to wake up early for a meeting with parents, is looking at him expectantly.

"Are you bored or something?" Allison asks again, tone slightly dangerous.

It's always amazed him, really, how Allison and Derek had somehow found a way to tolerate each other. After the whole Victoria Argent horror story. And for about three years it was strictly tolerating. Now it's more like a cautious-acquaintance type of relationship. Frenemies, maybe? Maybe a bit more serious than frenemies.

"No, I'm contemplating my existence," Stiles says. "The Matrix makes me all philosophical and shi—"

"God, I can't believe you make more than me," Lydia snarls, and it would hurt, really, if he didn't totally agree.

"Me neither," he says, "but, hey, know that when you win the Fields Medal, or whatever, I'll be the romantic interest in the biography they make."

"I want Karen Gillan to play me," Lydia says after a beat, and Stiles can't keep the wide grin off his face.

"You're a genius," he says, leaning his head back where it had been resting on the couch. Next to him, Derek is actually watching the movie, although he does raise his eyebrow at the Gillan comment.

It's late at night, or early in the morning, and everyone is either catatonic or enthralled by the early 21st century CGI currently on screen. It's so much like high school—or, well, the last two years of high school—that it kind of terrifies Stiles.

Of course, a lot of things terrify him, and this is more like a pleasant terror. Like he could get used to it, again, for the second time, but he would sure as hell be uncomfortable as possible while doing so.

"Still have a thing for red-heads, Stiles?" Allison asks, suddenly.

"I've always had a thing for red-heads. It's a thing. A permanent thing. It doesn't go away," Stiles points out. He doesn't add, however, that he also has a thing for stubble, and sharp cheek-bones, and green/blue/brown/hazel/sometimes red eyes, since that is territory he really doesn't want to approach at all. Especially in front of present company. "Weren't you going to ask me something? Earlier? Or were you just making sure I was paying attention? Because, rude, Allison, it's not every day I get to ponder my own—"

"Yeah, but it's not every day you hang out with the friends you've been—"

"Watch the movie," Derek interrupts, and Allison blanches, looks at him strangely for a moment, before curling back into Scott's side.

Man, those two are adorable. Scott and Allison, that is, yes, a little too in to the whole Romeo and Juliet thing, yes, but also adorable, now that they don't have to deal with the whole Argent/Hale feud. Or, well, at least they're only dealing with the aftereffects. But still, better than how it was in high school.

A lot is better than it was in high school, so Stiles is pretty sure that's going to become a mantra while he's back.

They watch the movie; Erica and Boyd leave just after the bullet-dodging scene, but Scott, Allison, and Lydia stay until the credits, and then, for some reason, decide to leave together, even though Lydia brought her own car.

He's pretty sure, actually, that the others are trying to get Derek and him alone together as much as possible. And he's not sure how he feels about that, because he's pretty confident that he's never told them about his not-feelings for the dude.

Maybe they're just making sure the two of them are good, or something? Derek is the most…well, to put it bluntly he's the most fucked up of all of them, so maybe they're looking out for the guy? Throwing Stiles to, pun intended, the wolves?

"Are they purposefully leaving us alone?" Stiles asks. "Or is that just my imagination?"

"No, they are," Derek sighs, gets up from the couch to grab the remote. "They'll stop eventually."

"Yeah, this is Scott, dude." Stiles gets up, too, stretches until his back cracks. "He's like a dog with a bone when he gets an idea. Are we supposed to make up, or something? Are you still-?"

"I really don't know, Stiles," Derek says, frowning at the door.

"Fine." Stiles walks into the kitchen. "You heading in early tomorrow? Should I leave?"

"I have a noon shift," Derek says from the living room. "What are you doing?"

"I need water, okay, and maybe something to eat." Stiles doesn't bother raising his voice—benefits to having werewolf friends, he supposes--and opens the cupboard he had seen Isaac in earlier grabbing a bag of chips. "Do you still keep the glasses in the—holy shit."

He freezes, eyes on a stack of magazines that look like they've been haphazardly shoved in the far corner of the cupboard, behind the three boxes of pasta and a can of refried beans. He grabs at the one on top—the one that he's on the cover of, posing like a grade A dickhead—then looks at the others, and… and he recognizes all of them. Because he has interviews in all of them, and photo-shoots, and—

"You—" Derek rounds the corner, freezes when he sees the magazine in Stiles' hand, and cringes. "They kept bringing them here and—"

"You care." Stiles fakes a sniff, clutches the magazine to his chest. "You really care, dude."

"You're such an—" Derek starts, and Stiles recognizes that constipated expression for embarrassment.

"No, seriously, dude." Stiles should've known not to joke. He's still rusty at dealing with Derek's hang-ups. "Thanks, for, you know" -- he waves the magazine around-- "not hating me," Or, he thinks, pushing him out of his life, or pretending he didn't exist when he came back to Beacon Hills. What? He's grateful. "It means a lot. And, uh, sorry for… snooping."

Derek blinks, surprise clear on his face, then leans up against the door frame as Stiles shoves the magazine back in and grabs a granola bar. Pomegranate cherry with almonds, which his trainer would approve of.

"It's fun," Derek says a little bit later, when Stiles is filling a glass up with water from the tap. "Reading about you. You always sneak something in about us. The pack, that is."

"You caught that, huh?" Stiles grins, leans up against the sink.

"You were obvious about it." Derek walks over, sits at the kitchen table, fiddles with the candle centerpiece. It's some weird-ass modern art swirl monstrosity that looks like something Lydia would pick out.

"Yeah, but only to you." Stiles sits across from him, clears his throat at the wording. "You guys, that is."

"It's past midnight, how the hell are you eating something?" Derek asks when Stiles takes a bite of the granola bar.

"High metabolism." Stiles is pretty sure they've had this conversation before. A million times, actually. "And no one gave me dessert."

"No one gave anyone dessert because we ate six pizzas, Stiles." Derek sounds… confused. Okay, no, he sounds adorable, the douche bag. Adorably confused. He probably doesn't mean to be adorable. Actually, he would probably maim something just to prove his complete un-adorableness.

"Like I said, high metabolism," Stiles says.

Stiles keeps his stride long and slow, easy and carefree. He makes his smile wide and toothy, a little crooked, and he makes his eyes restless. They flit over the walls, over the floor, over the ceiling, and they linger over a large, dark stain at the opposite corner, where a rusty chain is still hanging from a newly bought, still silver (save for the dried blood) hook. He lets himself lick his lips as he reaches the gurney in the center of the room, where Bill is held down with metal wires that wrap around his bare chest, his arms, his legs. He's struggled, so there are already red lines across the skin, already blood dropping onto the metal beneath him.

Stiles takes a deep breath in through his nose, letting his hands twitch at his sides, his eyes rove up and down the body in front of him.

They had discussed this scene prior to the shoot, and Director Park wanted it genuine, wanted it as improvised as possible, and wanted it all in one take. Of course, that was six hours ago, and this is the twentieth take, and Stiles is kind of really fucking tired. The clothes they put him in are chafing, the make-up is making his eyes water, and, well, he's generally in a shitty mood.

"Hey," he says. "You're awake. That's good."

Bill screams something through the gag in his mouth. Stiles nods like he understands.

"I don't do this a lot," he says, moves to examine the knives on the table. "Okay, I mean, the killing? Yeah, I do that a lot. I mean" --he picks up a scalpel, contemplates it for a bit, sets it back down in favor of a cleaver-- "the bloody killing is what I don't do a lot. It gets messy."

He looks at the cleaver for a bit, tests the weight in his hand—it's plastic, so he has to compensate to make it look heavy—nods in approval, and in one swoop, chops into Bill's knee. The leg's fake, just like the last forty-nine he had destroyed, but it fucking feels real.

He really hates this part, because the blood goes everywhere. It splatters on his face and his clothes and he has to tune out the sounds that Bill is making or else he'll freak out and lose character. He keeps chopping, through fake bone and fake tissue, until Bill goes still and is down half a leg, and then he takes a step back, runs a hand through his hair, slick with blood and gunk, and smiles.

"I don't get why they always portray serial killers as silent, you know, in the movies," Stiles says, even though Bill isn't responsive. "I like talking. It gets me pump—" --he leans down, checks that Bill is still breathing—he is, but so is the victim-- "but you're not listening." He sighs, sets the cleaver down, and angles his head to look at the amputated leg. "I guess I should try to stop the bleeding, huh?"

It's weird, being on vacation when everyone else is at work. Weird, but kind of okay, considering that Stiles mostly breaks his promise to Miranda and stays at the house during the day. Vegging out. He catches up on Netflix, he looks himself up on the internet until he isn't sure whether he should be disturbed or flattered by how many people write fan fiction about him, he cleans the house, he goes for long runs in the morning and, sometimes, if he's going stir crazy, walks around Beacon Hills mall in a hoodie.

It's nice.

He hangs out with everyone at night, sometimes, and during the weekend. They eat dinner, watch movies, go out for drinks that end up getting no one drunk, because werewolves can't get drunk, Lydia, apparently, is going through a cleanse, and Stiles doesn't drink in public anymore since the shirtless-kissing debacle, do other normal stuff. It's all so decidedly normal that Stiles is pretty sure they're doing it on purpose. Hell, they don't even call him for the first full moon, and when he shows up at Derek's, they have the gall to look surprised that he's there.

Stiles starts pissing them off after that, just to make them wolf out. He's most successful with Derek, which is absolutely no surprise. They used to thrive on conflict. And now, well, they thrive on a less serious sort of conflict.

He's been back for a month and a half before he knows it, and the biggest development in his life is that he's back to wearing plaid. No supernatural occurrences, save for Scott's continual updates on the shapeshifter and her newborn daughter, no unexplainable violence, no late nights, no insomnia, no werewolf temper tantrums, nothing. Zip. Zilch. Niente. Nanimo. Nada.

And Stiles is… Stiles is so fucking bored.

He's so bored that when he gets cornered in the café by a paparazzo intent on making him angry, he buys the guy a large americano, sits him down, and talks for, like, three hours. The guy takes lots of pictures, is somewhat less of a douche once he starts talking about his twin sons, and then Derek comes in, all pinched lips and furrowed eyebrows, sits down next to Stiles, and his camera apparently 'stops working.'

He's so bored that when Allison reminds him about the promotion, he shows up at her office and asks what she wants him to do. Which is, apparently, answer phones for a fundraiser. Oh joy.

He's so bored, that when Lydia drags him to her apartment and makes him read over her doctoral thesis, he spends an entire day trying to wrap his head around quantum physics.

He's so bored, that--fuck, he's just bored.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, being bored. It's actually kind of refreshing. Acting can get boring—there is way more waiting around then people tend to think—but it's not the same.

This is… relaxing.

It's like the horror of his high school years has turned into a network suburban sitcom. Suburban Werewolf, or something. Suburban Wolf? Wolf in the Suburbs? Growing up Wolfie?

"What do you think of 'Wolfing Pains?'" Stiles asks… well, no one. He's with his dad, Scott, and Derek, eating a late lunch at Dottie's, but he's pretty sure he's been thinking all of his previous thoughts to himself, so they probably have no idea what he's talking about. They all look at him like he's nuts, which is as good a confirmation as any. "As a name for a sitcom? Or the Wolf Pack, although that would have to be a gritty drama or something—"

"You're going into directing?" Scott asks through a lump of burger. He's wearing his scrubs, and there's a large ketchup stain on the front that's probably going to look like blood a couple of minutes from now.

"Nah, not yet." Stiles grabs his milkshake from the table—banana, fucking orgasmic—looks around as he chews on his straw, takes a sip, chews again. He smiles, waves, when he sees someone taking a photo with their phone. "I was thinking since we're all so domestic now--"

"Son, don't say it," The sheriff sighs, stabs his fork into his salad.

"—since we're all so domestic now," Stiles continues, glances at Derek to see him looking at him. Or, looking at the milkshake he's holding. He offers it, shrugs when Derek shakes his head, turns back to the Scott and dad. "We should be the inspiration for a sitcom. Like Modern Family, with the interviews and shi—"

"Or --" Scott seems enthused, at least, "-- Wolf, M.D."

"Oh god, Scott." Stiles looks at him, wide eyed. "You're brilliant."

"Are you two sure you've graduated high school?" The sheriff mutters. Derek huffs out a laugh, shoves his mouth full of the omelet he'd ordered. Stiles hears frantic whispering, and looks up to see a group of college bros coming towards their table. You'd think the two cops in uniform would deter people, but nope.

He's pretty sure that if they come over, either Derek or his dad are going to get violent. They glared down the poor girl who had hugged him last week until she almost cried.

"Ahhh," he says, getting up from the table, patting Derek on the back because that's a thing they do now—the touching, it's weird, it started when Derek pulled him into a half hug after the full moon, and Stiles is not going to mention it for fear that it's going to stop—and sliding his chair in. "My fans are calling."

"All right, we're gonna do an either-or game." Bonnie, from Teen Vogue, is Super! Bubbly! Stiles is aware he sounds like an asshole, but, really, ten minutes with the girl and you feel like you're eighty years old and need to start chasing kids off your lawn.

"Cool," Stiles says.

"Coffee or tea?"

"Tea." Because coffee has too much caffeine in it, and Stiles and caffeine really don't mix well anymore.

"Lemon or lime?"


"Vampires or werewolves?"

Stiles laughs for a good minute before he answers, "Werewolves."

"Love or lust?"

"… Both?"

"Why are you being an ass about this, Stiles?" Isaac—no, everyone—is staring at him like he's being difficult. Which he's not, okay? He's just… this is embarrassing. He gestures at the TV, where he—as Jason Todd—is punching someone, flails around until he points at his own chest, realizes he hasn't said anything, and deflates into the cushions around him. The movement brings his side into contact with Derek's, and he doesn't mind in the slightest.

"I don't like watching"--he waves his hand at the TV--"me. It's awkward."

"But you're badass in this!" Scott whines at him. "It's not awkward for us!"

Stiles runs a hand over his face, sighs, and, apparently, that's taken as a sign of his agreement, because the movie starts again, and there he is, snarling at Henchmen #5, wearing that goddamned red mask that had made it hard to breathe and that smelled like soap and commercial plastic.

He hadn't even gotten to keep the damned thing.

He winces when, on screen, the henchman picks him up and throws him on the ground. They had done that ten times, and even the padding had started to fucking hurt.

Stiles… doesn't like watching himself on screen. Sure, he sits through countless edits and premieres and introduces clips on late night talk shows, but if he has the option? Nope, not gonna happen. Partly because, yeah, it's embarrassing, and all he thinks about is how he could've done it better, but also because he knows how much hard work and faking it went into every scene.

He watches ten more minutes, and has to hold back a groan when the camera does a close up on him. It's a reaction shot; Jason's red hood is broken strategically to show off half his face, his mouth is panting out harsh breaths, real sweat and fake dirt and fake blood covering his skin. His teeth are set in a snarl, his eyes are wide and angry and full of hatred. Personally, he thinks he looks like an idiot.

But everyone else seems to think he's entertaining, at least.

Crawling over the back of the couch—they're all crowded in Erica and Boyd's living room—he gets himself a diet soda from the fridge, and plops back down next to Derek just as, on screen, he jumps off a skyscraper.

"I can't believe you actually did that," Scott says. "You jumped off a fucking skyscraper."

"I thought that was stunt double," Boyd says.

"No." Scott shakes his head, looks to Allison for support. She doesn't give him any. "Stiles, right? You said—"

"That was me," he says. Next to him, Derek leans forward, squinting—or glaring—at the TV. "I think they said they used the third take."

"You did that more than once!?" Isaac spews what looks like popcorn all over the coffee table.

"I was up there for six hours." He takes a sip of his soda, looks at his phone to check the time. Would it be rude to go home now?

"Why don't you like watching—" Derek moves closer a little bit later-after Jason has pulled his parachute, landed, miraculously, without any injuries, and is running away from the authorities-whispers in his ear so he doesn't disturb the others. Even though he probably does disturb the others, because werewolf senses, duh. Stiles wonders if they can smell the embarrassment oozing off of him.

In high school, he figured out that they could smell most base emotions—lust, fear, excitement, anger, stuff like that—but not the more nuanced ones. What would embarrassment even smell like, anyway?

"Personal preference." Stiles shrugs, doesn't move away when Derek nods, leans against him until he's pinned against the sofa's arm. Fuck, the dude's gotten more tactile since before. A lot more tactile. A casual tactile. It's discerning. But also awesome.

Stiles thinks about his dad and Peter and harpies instead of how Derek's arm feels against his side, or how he can feel Derek's breath against his neck, or how their thighs are flush against each other.

He's gotten good at tricking himself into thinking—or not thinking—about certain things, so he at least won't embarrass himself by stinking of arousal. He sinks, a little bit more, into the cushions, and Derek leans, a little bit more, into him, until Stiles gets the suspicion that he's doing it so Stiles won't leave. So Stiles is pinned between Derek and the sofa arm.

Derek is looking at him with furrowed eyebrows and squinty eyes, and it reminds Stiles of the look he had given him a couple of days ago, back at the diner with dad and Scott. Like he's…contemplating something?

"Dude, what?" he asks, keeping his voice low. On screen, Jason is on his motorcycle, zooming through traffic.

"What?" Derek asks.

"You're staring. Stare at me on screen or something, dude, you're freaking me out."

"I've watched this before," Derek says.

"Then why not pull rank and make everyone watch a different movie. One with me not in it?" Stiles leans forward, hissing.

"I like this movie." Derek leans forward, grinning. Like he's enjoying Stiles' embarrassment. Fucker.

"I—you—wha—" Stiles gives up with a sigh. They're closer now. Way close. Weirdly close. Practically on each other's laps close. And the strangest thing about it is that Derek is the one that's instigating it. Almost like he doesn't even know, or he's not aware of how close he is, or maybe he's just not paying attention, so intent on making Stiles squirm that he hasn't bothered paying attention to where his limbs are.

Stiles looks down, at where Derek's knee is on his thigh, then up at where Derek's forearm is resting on his shoulder, then to where Derek's face is inches from his, his expression—

Derek looks… Derek looks blissed out. His eyes are half-mast, his pupils enlarged, his mouth is open slightly. He's taking these long, slow, deep breaths in and out through his nose, almost like, almost like he's smelling Stiles.

He doesn't even seem to be aware that he's doing it. And, even now, his face is tilting down, so that his nose is almost grazing Stiles' shoulder.

Stiles looks around, and sees that the others are still watching the movie, seemingly unaware of Derek doing…whatever the fuck he's doing.

Or, well, maybe he's just tired. Stiles remembers his dad saying something about Derek working almost too hard, doing almost too much,so maybe this is Derek falling asleep after a long day at work. He certainly seems…restful, with the way his eyes are pretty much closed now, and how his forehead is now resting on Stiles' shoulder.

Stiles is fine with this.

Because he likes Derek as a friend, and if he wants to use him as a pillow, well, Stiles is willing to sacrifice himself for the cause.

He shifts, a bit, so that he's a little more comfortable, then leans back, and glances at the TV just as Jason Todd jumps from his motorcycle, seconds before it explodes, and gets up running.

"And Jennifer never got you back?" Conan asks.

"No, never—I made sure that it was my last day on set." Stiles winces. "Although, now that it's out that I did it-"

"She's going to show up at your house, man," Andy says. "Lawrence does not play around, remember when she was on last, Conan?"

"No, Andy, I do not." Conan looks at his co-host, and the audience giggles. Stiles fidgets in his seat until he's sitting with one leg under him.

"So, I hear I you have a clip for us?" Conan asks.

"Uh, yeah, yeah I do." Stiles squints at him. "I guess."

"… well are you going to introduce it?"

"Right! Right, okay," Stiles rubs his hands together. "so, this is where Brian—Renner's character—and Jake—me—meet for the first time, and he kind of kicks my ass."

Break is, according to the writer, a heist flick with a twist, since the thieves are all former government agents and the one they're stealing from is the agent that got them all on the kill list. Stiles doesn't really care that the premise only makes sense if you squint your eyes and try real hard not to think too much about things like plot, because he had a shitload of fun playing Jake.

Chapter Text

It keeps happening.

The touching. It keeps happening.

Derek keeps touching him. It's like the Jason Todd incident (that's what Stiles is calling it, even though it didn't really turn into an incident anywhere except in Stiles' head) opened the floodgates to… the touching. And it's not just the touching, it's the sniffing, and the staring, and the all-around weirdness.

Not creepiness; Derek hasn't been creepy to Stiles since he caught him helping Scott at the vet's office junior year of high school. So, no, not creepiness, just weirdness.

Stiles is… aware of how it looks. How it could be misconstrued as Derek….well, what? Liking him? Scenting him? Having feelings for him? Yeah, he knows Derek likes him—as a friend. He knows that Derek's weird about the scent thing—has been since he met the guy, and it's understandable, since he's a werewolf. He knows that Derek has feelings for him—frustration and fondness and probably annoyance, sometimes. And, he may have gotten himself an ego and some confidence back in LA, but he's not stupid enough to think that Derek wants him.

Touching and smelling, as weird as it seems, doesn't necessarily lead to sexy times when you're dealing with the supernatural.

The others, actually, are touching him with almost the same fervor that Derek seems to be. And it's not all… cuddling. Actually there's very little cuddling. There are half hugs and arms strewn over shoulders and gripped forearms, and it's definitely a werewolf thing.

Maybe they're feeling insecure about him going back to LA? Maybe they're just making up for Stiles not smelling like pack for the past five and some years? Maybe they—

Yeah, Stiles doesn't get it. And it's not like he can ask anyone. Well, he could, but then the touching would stop.

And Stiles doesn't want it to.

So he doesn't say anything. Because a lot of problems can be avoided by just ignoring them. Not that this is a problem, just that…he wants to avoid bringing attention to it. Because then it would be a problem.

But… really, why is Stiles thinking about the touching when he's pinned against a wall, a forearm over his throat, and there's an angry supernatural (a shapeshifter, because his face is… shifting) in his face, screaming about him minding his own business, while another shifter (because her face is shifting) leans against the opposite wall, panting for air?

Oh right, he's trying to ignore the problem. Sadly, it's kind of impossible to ignore a problem when it's, literally, all up in your face.

Damn it.

"Dude," he says, "your breath smells like ass."

Oh, and that's a fist… a, a big fist. Like, it's huge, the size of his face, and it's… it's growing, and scales are starting to cover the skin even as it starts coming at him, and fuck. Okay, Stiles can do this. It's only been five years since-

He ducks, and the fist slams hard into the wall where his head had been. The shifter screams and rears back, cradling his hand, and Stiles kicks out—really it's more of a flailing because the only way Stiles can look cool is if it's choreographed—until his foot connects with a knee. He scrambles away when the guy collapses, grabs the other shifter by her arm, and starts running.

Okay, so, Stiles is confused. That's probably why he spent a couple of seconds frozen, pinned against a wall, thinking about Derek. He's very confused, but apparently dealing with supernatural shit is just like riding a bike, because his body remembers how to run away as fast as possible, even if his mind is stuck repeating the events that had led up to this.

He remembers, in bright Technicolor flashes; going to the grocery store, walking back to the jeep with carrots and frozen shrimp and stir fry sauce, hearing voices, peering around a corner, seeing some sort of domestic dispute, getting involved in some sort of domestic dispute, realizing said domestic dispute is one between two supernatural creatures, and then… the fist.

So, okay, his mind is a little frazzled, but, again, he doesn't need it to run. Or, apparently, unlock his car, or start his car, or drive his car, because he's suddenly at a stop light a half a mile away, the shifter panting in the passenger seat next to him, and feeling a bit… horrified.

"I didn't just kidnap you, right?" He asks when he gets his breath back. "That guy was—"

"Thank you," The lady says, still panting. She looks at him, and he notices white-blonde hair, green, green watery eyes, and freckles—lots of freckles. "You smell like Dr. McCall."

"… huh?" It takes a second for Stiles to catch up, but when he does, he doesn't know whether to laugh or… whimper, maybe. "You're that shifter? The one that Scott helped-?"

"—give birth?" She holds out a hand. "I'm Sally. Sally Valtas."

"Stiles." He shakes it, then turns his attention back to the road just as the light turns green. "Stiles Sti—"

"—Stilinski?" She laughs, although it sounds slightly panicked. "Dr. McCall talks about you a lot, although you look," --she tilts her head at him, squints her eyes-- "different than in the movies."

"It's the plaid, isn't it?" Stiles grins, drums his fingers on the steering wheel as he turns the corner. He has no idea where to go. It's late afternoon, everyone is at work—

Oh, right, okay, now he does know where to go.

"I'm… can I take you to the clinic?" He asks. "I don't know if—"

"That fucker," Sally spits out, "wants my baby. Take me to Dr. McCall."

"Well, fuck," Stiles says. He glances at her, then back to the road. "Where is your—"

"Safe," she says, "she's… she's safe. But he'll keep coming at me, and I need--" She sighs. "I was going to Dr. McCall's, but he found me first, so—"

"Right, I get it." Stiles smiles at her, although his hands are gripping at the steering wheel a little bit too tight. "I'm sure they—I'm sure we'll be able to fix—"

"He needs to die," she snarls.

"Huh," he says. "Well that's a bit—"

"Trust me, Mr. Stili—Stiles—he needs to die," she says, and then she crosses her arms over her chest and looks out the window.

Well fuck.

"So, this is your first Red Carpet? The very first?" Jean? Jennie? It's a J-name, is all Stiles is sure of.

"Well, I went to Sundance, uhh" --he scratches the back of his head, tries not to look at anyone because there are way too many cameras around. Like, way too many--"last year. For—"

"—oh, right, you were in that high school comedy, umm—"

"Fun Home, yeah. But this is my first big premiere."

"Any nerves?"

"Lots. I'm generally an anxious person."

"He what?" Derek growls at Sally, then turns to Stiles. "You what?"

"I… what what?" Stiles gestures at Sally. "She was being threatened. I saw her being threatened, and, because I am a good Samaritan, I helped her out of said threatening situation." He pauses. "Okay, tried to help—"

"You helped." Sally is sitting at one of the exam tables, legs swinging back and forth as Scott stitches up a cut to her arm. Stiles hadn't even noticed she was injured before they had walked in to the clinic. "You broke his hand, and you got me out of there."

"You broke his hand?" Scott asks, although his eyes are still on Sally's arm, eyes narrowed in concentration.

"No, if anything broke his hand it was the wall." Stiles leans away as Derek advances on him.

"Are you—" Derek stops in front of him, glares, starts sniffing the air. "Does Scott need to treat you?"

"Oh, am I injured?" Stiles looks down, shrugs. "Nah, I'm good."

Derek eyes him for a bit. There's something in his expression that seems… off. Guarded. Different than the weird-ass version of Derek that Stiles has gotten used to. Oh, maybe that's it. Maybe this is the Derek that Stiles remembers from high school. Not necessarily college, although during that whole thing with Peter he had pretty much communicated in monosyllabic grunts. The guarded, gruff, flawed, weird-ass wolf who looked at him like he was an unpleasant puzzle. Who's looking at him like he's going to—oh, like he's going to run away.

Well fuck.

So now he has to prove himself, or something? Prove that he's not going to run back to LA?

… okay, Stiles might deserve that one.

"You never told me, Sally, that you were in trou—" Scott starts.

"I didn't think they would find me here." Sally shrugs. "It's not like a lot of Norwegians know where Beacon Hills is…"

"They?" Derek growls, turns away from where he's been staring at Stiles to glare at Sally. "Who are they, and why do they want your ch—your kid."

"They are the mob, and they want my daughter because if they have her, they can get me."

"Sally." Scott sighs. "Why do they want you?"

"Because…" Sally looks around, her eyes landing on Stiles. "He shouldn't—"

"I'm here, I'm staying. Get on with the fucking story," Stiles says. Okay, maybe it's a bit more of a snarl. "It's not like I'm not involved already. The guy saw me. He'll figure out who I am soon enough."

"Fuck," Scott says.

"Tell me about it, buddy," Stiles says.

"Why do they want you?" Derek asks the question this time. Stiles is still kind of stuck on the fact that the mob knows about shifters. Maybe it's a shifter mob? A Norwegian shifter mob? Some kind of supernatural godfather thing going on?

Hah, that'd make a cool movie.

"I… had a contract with them, before I got pregnant." Sally shrugs. "Intel, mostly. I didn't renew my contract, I fled Norway, and I came here. So…"

"They want you back," Derel snarls. "You brought the mob to Beacon Hills. Which mob?"

"They're—they're not the mob. They're… reasonably average sized. The Broderskap, they call themselves. Mostly powerful in Oslo, but they have some… powerful ties." Sally pauses. "I didn't think they would find us," she says, a little less calm. "This isn't—"

"You didn't thi—" Derek snarls, takes a step towards her, but is stopped when Scott gets in between them.

"Dude, stop being an asshole," he says. "She didn't know, all right?"

"You have a fake identity," Derek says, ignoring Scott. "We ran your files when you got here. It didn't say anything about Norway."

"My name is Sally," Sally says, "but, I mean, I was—am—on the run, Deputy Hale."

"And you didn't think it would be important to tell us that you could possibly—"

"It's not like werewolves have a monopoly on supernatural policing, Deputy Hale." Sally raises an eyebrow at Derek. "It was none of your business—"

"—until it was," Derek snarls. "And now we have the Bror—bror—people in our town that—"

"That I will help you take care of, I swear." Sally's face goes hard. "They need to die, or the rest of the Broderskap—it means brotherhood, if that's easier for you to pronounce, Deputy Hale—will be here within the mon—"

"Won't they come either way?" Stiles walks over to sit on the unoccupied stool in the corner. "Won't the killing just send them a message? Like, oh, I don't know, something like 'we killed your brothers, so come and kick our asses?'"

"No, not if you declare that I'm under your protection," Sally says after a bit, her eyes going from the floor to the ceiling to the poster that tells you to spay and neuter your pets and then back to the floor.

"Why couldn't we have just declared you under our protection before they came to get you?" Scott finishes bandaging her arm, pats it once, and starts cleaning up.

"Doesn't work like that." Sally shrugs. "Everyone would just find a way to get protection, and they'd never get any power. You—we've—gotta kill the ones that are here, send an official declaration of territory—"

"Oh, so now it's our territory?" Derek stalks over to lean against the wall next to Stiles. Anger is radiating off of him in waves. Large, suffocating waves. Stiles won't lie; it's kind of hot.

"If you don't want shifters crawling all over this place?" Sally inspects the bandages and smiles gratefully at Scott before sliding off the table. "You'll help me."

"We never said we wouldn't help you," Scott says. "Just that—"

"—you're never going to get a job in sales?" Stiles offers. "Your persuasion skills are severely—"

"I'm sorry," Sally interrupts, voice low and angry and desperate. "But, I mean, you've gotta see it from my point of view here. Scott, Depu—Derek, Stiles." She starts pacing. "They're after me, they're after my daughter, and I just—I just—"

"You're telling us everything," Derek snarls, "and then we're telling the Sheriff."

"What?" Sally freezes, eyes going wide. "Have you not been listening to me? These are the mob, yeah, they might be small, but bring law enforcement in and—"

"I'm law enforcement," Derek snarls, "and—"

"That's different." Sally takes a step towards them and Derek growls.

"It's no—"

"He'll be able to keep everything under wraps," Stiles says, grabbing at Derek's belt to stop him from advancing. The dude is wound up tight. "Or were you joking when you said they all need to die? Because it's not like those bodies are going to disappear."

"We really have to kill them, all of them?" Scott starts washing his hands. "How many are there? And can this wait until the weekend? Or at least Thursday? Allison wants to—"

"I don't know how many, I just got jumped by that fucker today!" Sally throws up her hands. "Fine. Fine. We'll do this your way, but—"

"But nothing," Derek says, eyes, for some reason, on Stiles' hand where it's grabbing at his belt. Stiles looks back for a bit, then lets go, holding his hands up in a placating gesture. "You said you're good at intel? I want intel."

"… I can't go back to my apartment," Sally says. "They've probably—"

The front door slams open, and Stiles doesn't even need werewolf hearing to know that it's Boyd and Isaac.

"What the fuck?" Boyd asks when they're in the exam room. Or says. Maybe it's just a statement of confusion or something. A rhetorical question?

"Hello…" Sally nods, obviously slightly intimidated.

Stiles looks around, and pushes himself off of the stool, wanting to maybe get a drink or something, avoid having to explain to the others what had happened. Only he finds himself unable to move when Derek grabs his shoulder and grips.

"Sally's in trouble." Scott gestures at Sally with his thumb. "She's the—"

"—shifter you've been talking about. With the kid," Isaac finishes.

"We'll explain later," Derek says. "Right now we need to know where you're going to be staying."

"I—" Sally looks slightly flustered at that. "I don't know, actually."

"Sti—" Scott starts.

"Not with me," Stiles says. "They know who I am. My house is probably the first place they're gonna come."

"Fuck," Derek growls, grips his shoulder tight.

"Yeah." Stiles tries to unclench Derek's hand, fails miserably. "Scott is a no-go too—they'll probably figure out she went to a vet for help with the baby."

"Fuck," Scott growls.

"So it's either with Derek, Lydia, Boyd and Erica, or Isaac," he says, turns to Derek when he squeezes his shoulder. "Will you let go of my fuckin' shoulder dude? It's tender."

Derek blinks, looks down, and seems confused that his hand is even on Stiles' shoulder in the first place. He lets go, slowly, and fists his hand at his side. "Sorry," he says.

"Isaac should take her," Boyd says. "He's in an apartment—there's security. I'm assuming we need security"

"Uh," Isaac looks at Sally, looks at everyone else. "Yeah, sure. I guess I could. Do that, for you. No problem. It would be nice if we knew why we—"

"Later," Derek says. "Right now we need the Sheriff. We need information. We need—"

"—to calm down?" Stiles is aware he is the last person that should be telling anyone to calm down, but right now he's scarily calm. Like, numb-calm. He's probably in shock. Or maybe he's just accepted that his life will forever be measured by how much time goes on between supernatural incidents.

Fuck, it was only last week that he was watching Jason Todd and getting cuddle-crushed by a sleeping Derek. Why couldn't that have continued?

"Stiles, I don't think you should be—" Scott starts, jokingly, but Stiles' phone interrupts him. When he manages to wrestle it from his pocket, and looks at the screen to see that it's Miranda calling, he starts laughing.

Oh god, he had… he had fucking forgotten he was an actor. How the fuck had that happened?

He had just been… had just been running on pure instinct, and instinct had made him turn back into nineteen year old Stiles. The Stiles who lined his house with wolfsbane and kept a bottle in his backpack. The Stiles who slept too little and drank too much red bull and used sarcasm as a fucking defense mechanism.

He wasn't that Stiles, though, right? Not anymore. He was Stiles Stilinski, Oscar winning actor. The weird, spazzy, albeit strangely talented kid who sucked at interviews and was way too good at pretending to be a serial killer.


"I need to get this," he wheezes out between laughs, and pushes past Boyd and Isaac to get outside.

He needs some fucking air.

"So you grew up in California," Jimmy says. "Beacon Hills?"

"Yeah, small town." Stiles scratches his chin. "My dad is actually the Sheriff."

"What?!" Jimmy starts laughing. "The guy you bring with you to all the premieres—"

"—hey I don't bring him to all of the premieres—"

"Okay, the guy you bring to most of your premieres is a Sheriff?" Jimmy snorts. "That—that's pretty much the best bodyguard you could ask for, man. I bet he didn't let you get away with much, crime-wise?"

"I—" Stiles clears his throat, grins. "Yeah, sure, he didn't let me get away with much."

"And now you take him with you to movie premieres because-?"

"Dude, he's my dad. Plus it's fricken' hilarious getting him into a tux."

"He's actually kind of hot." Jimmy looks at one of the producers, standing behind camera 1. "Can we get a pic of the Stilinskis on the—oh, there we go." It's a picture from the premiere of Salvage, the indie comedy Stiles had been in last year, and they're both wearing black suits. Stiles is laughing, dad is rolling his eyes, and the lady interviewing them is looking at the Sheriff with a predatory gleam in her eye.

Jimmy looks at the audience. "Ladies, am I right? He's hot, right?"

The audience screams, and Stiles covers his face with his hands.

Stiles is not a delicate flower.

He's a dude. A dude that's been through crap (lots of crap, all right?) and come out the other side alive and only slightly nuts. So, yeah, he has his moments of insanity, he has his moments of insecurity, he has his moments of fear, but that does not mean that he's going to let this get to him. The, you know, shifter thing.

Yes, he may start cackling at inopportune moments, but that's only because laughing is a fucking form of therapy, thank you very fucking much.

So, again, Stiles is not some delicate flower. He is, actually, scarily logical when it comes to him versus the world of the supernatural. See, he's realized, in the hour since leaving the vet, that there are only two ways to react to this.

One, he goes batshit insane. He packs up all his stuff, drives back to LA without any respect for speed limits, avoids everyone and anything connected to Beacon Hills again, and moves on with his life. Or tries to, but he knows that won't happen. Stiles likes to hold on to things. He likes to hold on to friendships and memories and secrets and… so, yeah, that's one choice.

Two, he tucks the fear and terror and memories of Peter and pain and possibly some minor PTSD symptoms in a deep, dark, somewhat-abandoned corner of his mind, and helps Sally kill some mobsters. Or, helps Sally and Derek kill some monsters. Because Scott is probably going to go on about finding a way to not kill the mobsters, but they all know that rarely ever works.

The not-killing thing, that is.

He already knows which one he's going to pick; it's the obvious choice. He's already involved enough as it is, so he might as well see it through to the end.

And, plus, Stiles… Stiles doesn't want to go back the way things were. He likes being here. He likes having someplace to come back to. He likes the people. The pack.

So if he's a little shaky right now, a little panicked, a little too invested in browsing the internet for absolutely nothing? It's not a problem, he's just giving himself time to adjust.

Come tomorrow, or hey, maybe even in a couple of minutes, he'll be fine. And if he isn't, well, he can always just act like he is.

That's what he does now, isn't it?

He acts.

He does it for a fucking living. And, if his pay checks are any indication, he's pretty fucking awesome at it.

He spins his chair around and gets up from his desk, trudges across his room and throws himself on the bed. He doesn't go to sleep—too wired up for that—just lies there. Not thinking. Or, thinking really hard about not thinking.

It's actually really nice, which is why, when Derek slides open his window and jumps into his room, about twenty minutes later, he's in a relatively good mood.

"I think that's extra weird when we're both adults and you're wearing a uniform," he greets. "Also, brings you back, right? The good old days, when-"

"You shouldn't be here alone, idiot," Derek says.

"Oh, please, it's not like the Broderskap--" he attempts a Norwegian accent—it's probably horrible. "-- is going to find me that quickly." He pauses. "Right? Right."

"The sheriff is looking into them at the station." Derek walks over to his desk, sits down at his chair. "Told me to come and get you, bring you to Isaac's."

"Why Isaac?" Stiles isn't going to argue about leaving the house—it makes sense. But first thing tomorrow he's going to call a security company about installing alarms. He also needs to find the old bestiary files he has somewhere on his old computer, start reading up on shifters. Maybe do some google-fu on how to deal with Norwegian mobs. Yeah, Sally's going to give them information, but he would feel better if he had his own unbiased account.

"Apartment—better security," Derek says. Well, that makes sense.

No, wait, none of this makes sense. He's an actor, for fuck's sake, he should be worrying about… actor things, not about shapeshifter politics and appropriate security measures.

"I'm a little out of practice," Stiles says. "But I'll start looking up some info on shifters, see if there's anything there that can help us."

"We know enough about shif—"

"Do you know how to kill them?" Stiles knows full-well he doesn't; they've never had to deal with shifters before. At least, not that he knows of. "Did Deaton ever give you any special potions or herbs or anything that help—"

"No, but—"

"I'll call him—he still has the same number, right?" Stiles swings his feet to the floor when he sits up. "I can't believe he retired to Maine. Who retires to fucking Maine? What's there to do there, anyway?"


"Derek." Stiles runs a hand through his hair. "We're taking my—or, I'm taking my, I'm assuming you've got a squad car—Ferrari. Those fuckers are not—"

"Are you fine with this?" Derek interrupts. "Are you sure you don't want to—"

"It'll just be like old times, right?" Stiles gets up, freezes when he sees Derek's face fall. "No, I mean, Derek, come on, yeah, I ran, but it's not like I could just leave you all to deal with this yourselves. I'm back; I'm in, buddy."

Derek's expression lightens, a bit. There's something else there, but Stiles is too wound up to try to decipher it. "Okay," Derek says.

"So should I be packing clothes, or what?"

"Probably." Derek nods.

"Just like a fuckin' sleepover," Stiles mutters.

"Oy, Sean!" Stiles can do the loveable sidekick thing. Okay, maybe not the loveable part. But the sidekick part? He's got that shit down. The only difference between Scott and Sean is that Scott is a werewolf, and Sean is a successful party-planner with a womanizing streak.

Okay, maybe that's kind of a big difference.

Doesn't mean he needs to put too much thought into playing the best friend.

He jogs across the street, dodging a couple of extras, and punches Sean's (err, Ryan's) shoulder. "Where were you last night, man? That party was—"

"Met a girl," Sean—Ryan—sighs, and it's so much like how Scott looked back in high school that Stiles has to bite his cheek not to start laughing. "Got distracted."

"Don't you always meet girls, dude?" Stiles pauses, then schools his face into a look of over-exaggerated horror. "Did she… did she roofie you, man? You know that—"

"No, no, dude, why is it always the worst case scenario with you?" Sean (Ryan) makes this weird face, where his eyebrows scrunch in and his neck juts out and his mouth makes this pouty o-shape, and Stiles can't stop the snort that comes out of his mouth.

"Oh man, oh man I'm sorry, it's just… your face." Stiles tries—he tries—to calm himself down, but it doesn't work, so he just ends up laughing for a good five minutes.

"You brought beer--" Isaac sounds unimpressed from where he's peering at the contents of the fridge—his fridge. "--to my apartment. And… peanut butter cups, really, Stiles, really? Are you—?"

"--of legal age to drink and eat whatever the fuck I want?" Stiles responds, from where he's collapsed on one of Isaac's recliners (god, it's comfy), beer in hand. "Why yes, Isaac, yes I am."

"I can't believe I have to stay here." Lydia, sitting on the other recliner, albeit a bit more gracefully, sniffs. "I wasn't even involved."

"It's for your own protection." Stiles does a pretty good job of imitating Derek—at least Sally laughs. Although that might be because she's not that impressed by the real-life Derek, but he'll take it.

"I like you, Stilinski," Sally says. "You're cool."

Isaac lets out a half-laugh at that, grabs a coke, and plops down on his couch. "Derek told me to tell you that he'll be over here with the sheriff and the others later tonight with the info—"

"—and not to leave." Lydia waves her hand around, rolls her eyes. "No, Isaac, I was going to go downtown and lurk around dark corners. Stiles, you with me?"

"Personally," Stiles says. "I was thinking of going for a joy ride."

"You two are amusing," Sally says.

"Don't," --Lydia points at Sally-- "call me amusing. If it wasn't for you we wouldn't be in this hellho—"

"My apartment," Isaac seethes, "is not a hellhole. I pay good money to rent this—"

"Stiles" --Lydia looks at him for… support? Oh no-- "has a better sense of home décor than you, and he has a giant Darth Vader statue in his bathroom."

"How do you know that?" Stiles asks. "You've never been to my house."

"Scott told me." She waves her hand. "Well, told us. And he took pictures—"

"—he took pictures!?" Stiles didn't know this. "When did he take pictures?"

"When he was at your house," Lydia says.

"Oh." Stiles leans back a little more, takes a swig from his bottle, and changes the subject. "I think I'm in shock. I'm way too calm right now."

He doesn't get an immediate response, so he glances up, only to see Lydia and Isaac sharing a look.

"… but are you… you're good with this, right Stiles?" Lydia asks after a beat. "No running away, or not taking our calls, or—"

"Oh, there's a story here," Sally says.

"Shut up," Stiles says to Sally, then, to Lydia. "I've already told Derek this; no running. I'm back; I'm in. Plus, I can be useful."

"You're an actor, Stiles," Lydia says. "You're like a goddamned publicity magnet. How is that useful?"

Stiles blinks. He hadn't been thinking in those terms, but now that it's mentioned. "Oh," he says. "Oh. Lydia, that's… that's brilliant."

"What's brilliant." Isaac takes a sip of coke. "Lydia pointing out the obvious?"

"No, dickwad." Stiles leans forward. "I'm an actor. A public fucking figure, guys!"

"I'm lost," Lydia drawls.

"Well, if something happens to me, the mobsters won't get away with it. Not only that," --he points at Sally with his bottle-- "but bring the paparazzi around everywhere, and the mobsters won't be able to attack, or they'll be exposed."

"Oh," Lydia says. She uncurls her feet, looks at him with contemplative eyes. "That's actually—"

"Or, hey," Stiles continues, "maybe they'll turn out to be fanboys, I'll give them some autographed pictures and a photo op, and they'll go back to Norway happy. Bam. No violence necessary."

"Do they even know who you are in Norway?" Isaac asks, although he looks at Sally when he says it. She glares at him.

"Are you implying we're so backwards we—"

"No!" Isaac looks scared. "I was implying that Stiles isn't as famous as he thinks he is—"

"Hey." Stiles is hurt. That hurts him, deep.

"—not that Norway is a, uh—"

"I'd stop while you're ahead, Isaac." Stiles leans back again, stares at the ceiling. "You're just putting your foot in your mouth. It's kind of sad, bud."

"This is my apartment, guys," Isaac snarls. Stiles isn't looking, but he's pretty sure he hears a lisp, which means there are lengthened canines involved...

"Hey." Stiles decides it's time to change the subject… again. "Why do all of you keep touching me so much?"

Okay, and also time to face his problems. One of his problems. A very minor problem, in the scheme of things, now that the possibility of him dying from supernatural causes is, yet again, higher than it should be… for anyone, ever.

"… what," Lydia says, after a long, long pause.

"Not you, Lydia." Stiles leans forward—again—and gestures at Isaac with his bottle. It's half empty now, so he doesn't have to worry about beer sloshing everywhere. "I was wondering this today when that shifter had me up against that wall. You--Isaac, Erica, Scott, Boyd, Derek. You've been touchy."

"Touchy?" Isaac scrunches his nose up, which he tends to do when he's thinking, and fiddles with his can of soda. "I guess we've been—"

"You guess," Stiles scoffs. "Boyd hugged me the other day, Isaac. It wasn't even a bro-hug, it was a full on embrace. And Derek has been cornering me. And you," --he points at Isaac, on a role now-- "you keep ruffling my hair and doing that chest-pat thing you do."

"Oh, this is fucking fasci—" Sally starts.

"Shut up," Lydia interrupts, although she's looking between Stiles and Isaac with that patented Lydia smirk. The one that makes Stiles nervous. The one that means she knows something. "Yeah, Isaac, what's with all the touching?"

"Wolves are tactile creatures," Isaac drawls.

"You're a werewolf," Stiles points out.

"Werewolves are tactile creatures," Isaac responds.

"You're going for enigmatic here, seriously, Isaac?" Lydia asks, obviously disappointed. She turns to Stiles. "They're making you smell like pack."

"Well, yeah," Stiles says, "but why?"

"Because you don't smell like pack any more," Isaac says, a little reluctantly. "Well, you didn't, but now you do, since we've been—"

"That's not what Derek's been doing," Lydia says. Stiles looks up, blinks once, slowly.

"What do you mean, he's been the worst," he says.

"God, this is so typical. You're like a goddamned romantic comedy on two legs, Stiles. A bad one, though. I mean, seriously, we're going for the 'clueless-Stiles' trope, really, hon?"

"I don't—" Stiles is confused.

"So entertaining," Sally muses.

"Lydia, I don't think Derek would—" Isaac starts.

"Sexual tension," Lydia says, "it's there. It's been there since high school, it's back again. It's… how could you be oblivious, Stiles? I mean—"

"What?" Stiles sets his beer down on the coffee table, watches as Isaac scrambles for a coaster and puts it underneath with a glare.

"The man is an emotional wreck, Stiles, you know that, you think he'd actually tell you anything? Think he ever tells anyone anything, like, really important?" Lydia snorts. "He's probably not even aware what he's been doing. I mean, that whole thing when we were watching Jason Todd? I was practically choking on the tension, and I'm not even a werewolf."

"Oh." Stiles wasn't in shock before. Now he's in shock. Because Lydia… is kind of making sense? But this is Derek, so, still, it doesn't make sense.

What's that quote about being careful what you ask for?

"He's been touching you, Stiles..." Lydia's face drops. "He's been touching you because he wants to touch. He doesn't know how to say anything, he doesn't know how to act on it—Derek and relationships are, well, you know."

"I know," Stiles says. Fucking Kate. Still. Still, it's fucking Kate.

"What I'm trying to say here," Lydia says, and then her face gets hard. "What I'm trying to say, is that if you hurt him, anymore than he's already been hurt? I don't need to be a fucking werewolf to make you scared for your life."

"Lydia." Isaac seems scandalized, although he's smiling, so maybe he agrees.

"I--" Stiles says. He feels like it's gotten brighter in here. Hotter? Smaller? He chugs down the rest of his beer, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "Lydia, I don't—"

"You don't know?" Lydia smiles, then scrunches up her nose. "God, I feel like a goddamned relationship guru. You know all of my relationships have ended with my significant other moving far, far away, right?"

"Yes, but, I—" Stiles can't find the words. He's not just speechless… it's—it's kind of hard to think right now. Lydia is making sense, sure, but she's also… not making sense. Because what she's saying, if he's interpreting this right, is that Derek…Derek wants him. No, he more than wants him. He… he wants him. As a friend. As a… as a -yeah, he can't say it.

It's kind of trippy. There's no way it's true, though…

But what if it is true? Stiles is terrified, suddenly, because, yeah, what if it is true? What if Derek has been like he's been—the strange joviality, the easy forgiveness, the touches, the protectiveness—because he wants something with Stiles, but he doesn't know how to go about it? Or, even worse, he doesn't think he deserves it?

… not that Stiles is something to be deserved, but, well, Stiles has a point here. He knows it. He's just not thinking too well at the moment.

"I think you broke him, Miss Martin," Sally says, and Stiles hears it like it's muted and far away.

"He's rebooting," Isaac says.

"It's Lydia," Lydia says. "My mother is Miss Martin."

There are too many things going on at once, Stiles thinks. That's why he can't seem to focus on any one thing. He's back in Beacon Hills; he's dealing with Norwegian shapeshifters; he's being told someone is in… whatever with him. The lights are too bright, the recliner he's sitting in is suddenly itchy.

He feels like he's going to jump out of his fucking skin, and he needs to do something about it, fast.

He wasn't asking for this, when he asked about the touching. He hadn't been looking for any heart felt declarations of whatever, even if they were done by proxy. He had just been trying to lighten the mood, and now…now the mood is considerably less fucking light. The mood is heavy, and it's choking him.

Not enough that he's having a panic attack, but enough that Isaac and Sally are looking at him with concern. Well, so is Lydia, but he mentions Sally and Isaac because he knows they can smell the terror on him.

"Oh my god," he whispers, and that gets Lydia laughing. "Oh my god."

He ignores her, because, in all seriousness, he doesn't find anything about this funny. He just… needs a moment. He needs to calm down, first of all, so that he's not gripping his hands into painful fists, so that he's not curling into himself. He doesn't know what to do. He's lost. His mind is blank.

So, he figures, after what is probably eons, that this… this should wait until after the shifters.

He's not going to ignore it. He has a feeling this is one of those problems that are impossible to ignore. No, he's not going to ignore it. What he's going to do is help Sally, get everything…back to the way it was, and then he's going to observe.

Derek, that is. He's going to observe Derek. Or, well, that makes it sound like this is some kind of scientific experiment. It's not. It's so much fucking more than that. He's going…he's going to start paying attention to Derek, that's what he's going to do.

But for now… for now he's going to focus on one thing at a time.

"Sally," he says, "you said you have some intel? Should we start looking at that now, or—"

"He's doing the avoidance thing, again," Isaac says.

"I'm not." Stiles voice cracks, and he clears his throat before continuing. "I just… that's a lot. A lot, to take in. And…" he could mention that he doesn't believe that Derek wants him, that he doesn't want to ask Derek if it's true, that he doesn't want to mess this up if it is true, but he doesn't. "We should do… this. First."

There's a long pause, because of course there is. He can feel them staring at him, but he keeps his gaze on the coffee table. Thankfully, Isaac doesn't have an analog clock, because if he did, Stiles is sure he would be counting the seconds go by.

"I need a laptop," Sally says, finally.

"Dude." Stiles should've never gotten an apartment off campus. He should've just dormed. Seriously. "I don't want to be in your stupid video. Shit."

"Come on, man!" Stephen shoves the camera in his face. It doesn't help, at all. "You're good, I swear, it'll be cool! You know the story already, just do some improv!"

"This paper is due tomorrow" --Stiles gestures at his laptop screen, where currently a paragraph of said paper has been written-- "can I, please, just finish it?"

"Two hundred dollars off next month's rent," Stephen says after a little bit, and Stiles pauses after writing the word 'hegemony.'

"Two hundred off rent, and you get rid of that." Stiles points at the fake werewolf mask hanging on the wall. It gives him nightmares. Well, a lot of shit gives him nightmares, but that has been the main instigator as of late.

"Two hundred off rent and I forget the time you broke my mom's mug," Stephen responds. Stiles winces.

"How long is this going to take? Because this essay is due tomorrow."

"Three hours, tops," Stephen says.

"Fine." Stiles saves the document, closes his laptop, and stands. "What am I doing again?"

"Vlogging about the zombie apocalypse."

"Oh, wow, yeah, that's never been done before." Stiles looks down, makes a face. "My cloth—"

"—it's early. There's still electricity and running water, so your clothes are fine. I'll make you look dirtier for the next one." Stephen is fiddling with his camera, not looking at Stiles as he sits down in front of the window.

"I didn't agree to any others," Stiles grumbles.

It takes longer than three hours.

"Werewolves have packs, shifters have…" Sally scrunches her nose. "Well, I mean, the traditional term is family, but it's more like a gang, or, well, a mob."

"So the Alpha, the big kahuna," --Stiles looks at his computer, where the files Sally had sent him ten minutes ago are open. He's currently look at the profile of the mob-boss-- "is Greg Sanduerson."

"He's not like an Alpha," Sally shrugs. "Shifters are too… shifty to give in to any one kind of power structure."

"Well, it's not like Derek is that much of an Alpha-alpha," Lydia grumbles. "He tried that, and it failed. Miserably. So now he—"

"But he's not our problem," Stiles says. "The problem is figuring out which shifters are here in town. Where they're staying, and how we…" He sighs. "How we kill or permanently maim them. Have I mentioned I'm a fucking actor? I should just hire someone for thi—oh, could we?"

"No," Lydia, Sally, and Isaac all say pretty much at the same time.

"Fine." Stiles goes back to the bestiary Lydia had sent him—she hadn't actually added anything else since he had finished working on it senior year of high school, which is… actually kind of nice. Makes him feel useful, even if he is really out of practice. "We don't have much on shifters on this thing."

"The bestiary?" Lydia shrugs. "Sally was the first one I've ever heard of. Scott never got around to interviewing her about it."

"… do you have Dr. Deaton's number?" Stiles asks… anyone, really.

"It's still the same, why?" Lydia says.

"If there's a wolfsbane-equivalent for shifters, don't you think it would be useful to know—"

"There's not," Sally interrupts. "But there's a mix that stops us from shifting, makes us weak—"

"That's pretty much what wolfsbane does," Isaac says.

"This is different," Sally says, frowning. "But I don't know the recipe. Do you think this… Deaton would?"

"Lydia, will you call-?"

"Don't you think the others are thinking the same thing?" Lydia gets her phone from her bag anyway. "Why can't we just sit back and play the defenseless humans?"

"Because if I know my dad," Stiles says. "He's going to concentrate on finding out who's checked in to any motel or hotel within twenty miles in the last week. Derek, Boyd, and Erica are probably sniffing around town trying to corroborate—"

"Oooh, big word. Ten points," Lydia says.

"—trying to corroborate where they smell shifter with what dad is finding out by being Sheriff, and Scott and Allison are probably hitting up her dad for info, so, no, actually, I don't think this is what they're doing." He pauses. "Or am I wrong?"

"You're not wrong," Isaac says, turns to look at Lydia. "That's what Boyd and Erica told me they were doing, so—"

"Call Deaton—what's the time difference in Maine?"

"Plus three hours, right?"

"So, it's almost midnight." Lydia holds her phone up to her ear, walks over to the kitchen. "He'll still be up."

"So, what're we doi—" Sally says.

"Shifters." Stiles opens up a new document. "Tell me about 'em. For now, concentrate on weaknesses, strengths, things that could be useful."

Stiles sinks down to sit, cross-legged, in front of the coffee table, and looks up Sally expectantly, fingers already on the keyboard. It's easier this way, to not think of… other things. All he needs to do is keep busy, and he'll be fine.

"All right," Sally says, then she pauses, gnashes her teeth for a bit. "So, the actual… the actual shifting, the physical aspect of it, is like a muscle. You work at it; it gets stronger, you let it go, don't shift for a while, you get weak."

"Makes sense," Stiles murmurs.

"And there are… there are degrees to how many forms someone can shift to. Most go for three; the really talented ones go for more. It's kind of like" --Sally frowns for a bit, in thought, than snaps her fingers-- "polyglotism! You know what that is?"

"Yeah." Stiles gestures at Lydia, who's talking in low tones in the kitchen, with his thumb. "Lydia speaks seven languages."

"Wait, what is it?" Isaac asks.

"There's bilingual, trilingual, then polyglotism," Stiles says. "You can speak more than three languages. So you're saying that learning to shift into another form is like learning another language. How many forms do you have?"

"Elephant. Ocelot. Osprey. Tiger shark." Sally pauses. "The larger or smaller the form, the harder it is to shift, since you're, in essence, expanding or contracting your own cells."

"Cool." Stiles types some notes. "And this mix you talked about, it sticks a shifter in… human form?"

"No, they're stuck in whatever form they're in when you inject them. I've seen it in action," Sally says. "It works."

"And if that is… injected or sprayed or whatever—"

"Injected, has to go in the bloodstream." Sally is looking down at the table now, like she's remembering something.

"Okay, when it's injected, the shifter is pretty much powerless? For a limited amount of time."

"Depending on the dosage, it can be from five to twenty minutes. Longer if you're really good at chemistry."

"Well that--that's actually not that bad," Stiles says. "I mean, even without the mix, Derek and them are naturally stronger than most—"

"A lot of these mobs hire shifters especially for goon purposes," Sally interrupts. "You're going to be dealing with professional fighters, killers, gangsters, so no, it actually might not be that easy."

"Do you think," Stiles asks, after he's typed a good page of notes in silence(he's going to have to do some more research, although Allison will probably be able to fill them in some more after they come back from Chris's house), "you should bring your daughter over here? For protection."

"I—" Sally looks at him, her expression going from desperate to terrified to obstinate to resolved. "I should," she says, finally. "But not tonight. She's not… she's safe, at least for the night. They won't find her, and she has milk, and—she's safe."

"I'll go with you tomorrow," Stiles says. Lydia laughs in the kitchen, and he looks over to see her writing something down on a notepad. So, looks like Deaton came through. Man, he kind of misses the dude. "Just in case."

"How are you going to—"

"Insurance," Stiles says. "They can't attack you if you're surrounded by cameras."

"Okay, could you tilt your chin a little down… right there, good, and glare up at me. Yes, perfect." Stiles glares at the camera as it clicks away, lifts one side of his mouth in an exaggerated snarl, and the photographer coos in approval.

The stylist put him in skull make-up because this is for the Halloween issue of… damn it, Stiles doesn't know what magazine he's going to be in. Meh, whatever. Miranda will give him a copy when it's published. Felicia got to be a dragon, for fuck's sake. He would've rather been a dragon than just a dude in a suit and face make-up.

Felicia got a tail. He wants a tail.

Well, he also wants to sleep, and since he has to write ten pages for his senior thesis before Friday, and has to shoot a couple of scenes for MMORPG tomorrow and Thursday, he's pretty sure that's not going to be possible until the weekend.

Oh joy, the perks of being a full-time student and a guest star on a cable TV show.

Hey, at least the acting is fun. And the pay is awesome. And, okay, an insane part of him likes being this busy, because it keeps his mind off of other things. Scarier things. Things that still give him nightmares.

"Could you stick your tongue out at me, Stiles? There, that's it. Perfect." God, this dude is creepy.

Chapter Text

"So what's your daughter's name? I don't think Scott ever told me." Stiles is questioning his decision to do this in the Ferrari. Everyone is staring. Or, wait, that's the point, right? Have an audience; don't get killed by shifters.

Right, okay, sure. Still doesn't mean he's comfortable. When he's alone, doing the actor thing, yeah, being visible is part of the job. But when you're in a car with a shifter, and a Toyota full of werewolves (well, Scott, Boyd, and Erica) is tailing you for 'security purposes?' It's a little different.

"Kari," Sally says, points out the window. "Turn here."

"I haven't been to Beacon Valley since I was sixteen," Stiles says, a little bit later. "I guess it's a good place to hide a baby."

Beacon Valley is where all the rich landowners from Beacon Hills have second properties. It's an hour drive from Beacon Hills, and the fucking high school has an ice skating rink. An ice skating rink. That's there just for ice skating. Year round.

It's nuts.

Stiles is—has always been and will always be—jealous as fuck.


"You're…" Sally turns to look at him. "You seem calmer than you were last night."

Stiles keeps his eyes on the road. The streetlights here are fucking filigreed.

He should donate some money to the Beacon Hills Mayor's office, strictly for filigreed fucking streetlights.

"I was calm last night," he says, then has a moment of panic. "Right? I was calm, by the time they came back."

Scott, Allison, Derek, and his dad had gotten to Isaac's at around midnight. Lydia and Boyd had come in thirty minutes later.

Stiles doesn't really remember what happened, since he escaped to Isaac's room after ten minutes of trying to watch Derek from the corner of his eye, and then fell asleep.

Well, he remembers having a nightmare about turning into an elephant. Which he's not going to bring up to anyone. Ever.

"You seemed calm," Sally says with a smirk. "For the five minutes you were up."

"Ten, I went to bed after ten minutes, because," -- It takes a second to think of a good excuse-- "because we weren't actually talking about anything. Everyone was too exhausted, so, I figured, might as well—"

"—steal Isaac's room?"

"Yes," Stiles says decisively.

"Turn at the next light," Sally says. "You know, I haven't even known you for a day—"

"Really? Seems like longer," Stiles tries to joke, but his voice cracks. He knows advice when he hears it, and Sally's tone of voice is definitely the advice-giving kind.

"—I haven't even known you for a day, but I get that you're just acting okay." She sighs. "It's hard, I get it, to talk to friends you've known for a while, and, I mean, Isaac filled me in on what happened with you last night—"

"What? When?"

"After Derek left with the Sheri—your dad, and Scott and the others were asleep," she responds. "He filled me in, and I kind of get it, but if you need someone… unbiased… to talk to, now's a good time. I mean, I owe you."

"You owe me?" Stiles laughs. To be honest, it's kind of a manic laugh.

"Of course I do," Sally says. "You helped me yesterday. You convinced Deputy Hale to help me, even though he looked like he wanted to take me to the mob himself—"

"He looks like that a good forty-five percent of the time, it's nothing personal," Stiles says. "Once you get to know him, though, he's a sarcastic mo-fo."

"I'm just saying, Stiles," Sally continues, "if you need to talk, sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger."

Stiles stops the car when the light turns red, waves and smiles at the two old ladies in the clunky Hyundai next to them. The offer is… tempting, actually.

He knows he can't talk with the others—too much history. And it would help, maybe, to talk. Stiles is a talker.

Okay, he's not a talker when actual real emotions are concerned, but if it's being offered…

"If you tell anyone," he starts, just as the light turns green and he shifts gears. "I will… I'll—"

"I'm a former hacker for a Norwegian shifter mob, Stiles, I don't think secrecy will be a problem." Sally sounds… gleeful, though. Like she lives for this kind of shit.

"You're the type of person that watches reality TV and actually likes it, aren't you?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Sally says. "Turn here, and then in a mile turn left."

"For fuck's sake how many times are we turning!?" Stiles grinds his teeth, turns onto the street.

"Just in case we're being followed." Sally shrugs when he looks at her. "Doesn't hurt to be careful, and we have time."

Time, right. They've already been gone from Isaac's apartment for two hours. The only reason Derek hasn't called is probably because he's been calling Scott and them in the other car. And maybe because he's busy tracking down possible shifters.

They hadn't found any last night; they'd all been dead ends. Stiles doesn't know if that's good or bad.

"So, how does this look" --Stiles gestures vaguely-- "to you?"

"Well." Sally tries to hide a smile and fails. Stiles chooses to ignore it in favor of watching the road. "Last night you were terrified. Shocked. Which means you either didn't know Derek saw you that way, or that you don't want him to see you that way."

"I didn't know," Stiles says. He lets a truck in from the next lane, shifts gears when they start going up hill.

"It's kind of fucking obvious, though," Sally says. Stiles raises an eyebrow at her. "It is!"

"All right, say it is." Stiles taps his fingers on the steering wheel. "There are two issues here."

"Oh, you've been thinking about this." Sally clasps her hands together. Stiles gives her the middle finger.

"Two issues," he continues. "One, Derek has a… a shit ton of emotional baggage. I'm talking a shit ton here, Sally."

"Dead family," Sally says, nodding. "Killed by a hunter when he was sixteen. Kate Argent—Scott's wife's aunt. Got close to him, then killed them. His uncle went crazy, killed his older sister. He ended up killing him, which proved to be a mute po—"

"How the fuck?" Stiles squawks.

"Isaac," Sally says, "but mostly hacking. Before I came to Beacon Hills." When Stiles looks at her, eyebrows furrowed together, she shrugs. "I needed a safe place. Made sense to research it before I arrived."

"And you still came. Interesting."

"It's safe now, though," Sally says, "so, baggage. All right."

"I haven't been here—I don't know if he's done, you know, the relationship thing since I left. But the first person he… liked went and killed his family. Then gloated about it when she came back."

"Okay… where are we going with this?" Sally asks.

"How does anyone know," he asks, "that he wants… something? Maybe he's not ready. Maybe he's fine with just… being friends."

"Oh," Sally says, fingers tapping her mouth. "So does that mean you do—"

"And that," he sighs, "brings us to issue number two."


"I like Derek as a friend—he's a good friend, once you get past the…" --he gestures at his face-- "whole surly demeanor and constant eye-rolling thing. And, yeah, okay, he's fucking hot—shit, I lusted after him for half of high school. Hell, I lusted after him before I even liked him. I still—not the point. The point, is that those two things are separate." He takes a deep breath, turns when Sally gestures to turn. "I don't know if I could handle… combining the two, if that makes sense."

Sally's silent for a bit, and it's only when they're turning into one of the less affluent neighborhoods (relatively, that is. In Beacon Hills terms it's still fucking rich), that she speaks.

"You're making this too complicated," she says. He snorts, because, wow, great advice. "No, you are. You're overthinking yourself, which probably stems from some kind of self-esteem problem—"

"… are you my shrink now, or something?"

"No, but, shit, you probably need one," Sally says. "He has baggage; so what. If you like him, you tell him. He's thirty, for fuck's sake—

"Thirty-one," Stiles mutters.

"Whatever." Sally waves her hand in dismissal. "You're both adults. You both have feelings for each other. If he's scenting you, which is what he's doing, he wants you. So, man up—not now, but soon—tell him you know. See what happens. Talk it out. Kiss it out. Stop the fucking pining and deal with it."

"But—" Stiles is aware he's gaping at her.

"Poor baby," Sally coos. "Feelings are hard, aren't they?"


"This is it," Sally interrupts. "Just pull in the driveway."

Stiles pulls in to the driveway. It's a… fuck, it's a nice house. Modern architecture, all angles and glass and minimalism. Kind of like his house back in LA, although he had opted for less glass and more wall. For privacy. Because paparazzi were somehow ingrained with the skill to climb absolutely anything and everything.

Kind of like cats.

"So, they know we're coming?" Stiles asks when he gets out of the car.

"They know now," Sally says. He stays where he is when she walks up the front steps to the door, turning to look at where Scott is scrambling out of the back seat of Erica and Boyd's car. He looks—oh fuck.

"You guys heard everything, didn't you?" Stiles asks. Scott, at least, has the decency to turn red. Well, redder than he already was. Erica smirks and tosses her hair; Boyd shrugs.

"Derek told us to watch out for you; we were already listening in." Erica closes her door and leans against it, eyeing him. "We're not saying anything. To you, or Derek."

"Yeah!" Scott jogs over, punches him in the shoulder. Ahhh, bro-bonding. "But, shit, man, you should've told me. I knew there was something weird happening last night."

Stiles scrubs a hand over his face, sighs.

"Whatever you decide, man." Scott pats the same shoulder he just punched. "You know I'm totally behind you."

"Scott," Stiles whines, "this is not not saying anything."

"Right," Scott says, then leans in, eyes serious, "but you know, right?"

"I know, buddy." Stiles slings an arm over Scott's shoulders. "You got my back."

"Scott, that car costs half my fucking pay check." Stiles eyes the saleswoman who's watching them from her desk. "I wanted a Prius. I don't need a Ferrari; I'll look like a douche."

"You'll be a douche with a Ferrari, Stiles. Who the hell cares what others think." Scott grins, rubs the leather seat he's sitting on. "But, seriously, man, feel it."

"It's an awesome car, dude." Stiles walks around to the other side, peers in through the passenger side window. There's no back-seat. It's ridiculous; completely impractical. "That doesn't mean I can afford it."

"Yeah you can." Scott gets out of the driver's seat. "It's half your pay check. You'll still have the other half. You never buy yourself anything big, dude. Never."

"I bought a house last year. It's a nice house," Stiles mutters. He skims his hand over the car's trunk. It's a really pretty car. Reminds him of Lydia, actually. Bright, attention-grabbing, beautiful on the outside, vicious and powerful on the inside.

"You're an actor, Stiles." Scott comes around, starts kneading his shoulders. He bites his lip to stop from laughing. Damn it. "You deserve this car. Just look at it, man, it's—"

"Excuse me." The saleswoman—the one who's been watching them for the ten minutes they've been looking at the car—suddenly appears behind them. Scott, at least, doesn't wolf out. "Are you Stiles Stilinski?"

"Uhh, yeah." Stiles gestures at the car. "Just looking at the—"

"F12 Berlinetta." The saleswoman smiles; her nametag says Jane. "Beautiful specimen, isn't she?"

"Yeah," Scott sighs.

"Zero to sixty-two miles per hour in 3.1 seconds." Jane walks around the car, her hand skimming the curve of the hood. "6.3 liter V-12 engine, 730 horsepower, with a top speed of 211 miles per hour, gentlemen. She's the most powerful, road-legal model we sell."

"I—" Stiles doesn't know why that makes him speechless, it just does.

"There's only one question I need to ask." Jane smirks, pauses, probably for effect. "Which one of you wants to take her for a test drive first?"

Stiles and the others have been waiting for thirty minutes before Sally appears again. She's carrying a bundled-up baby in her arms, and is flanked by a middle-aged couple dressed in pastels. They're not so much glowering at them when they follow Sally down the steps as much as squinting suspiciously.

"Ready?" Sally asks, a little breathless. Stiles goes to open the passenger door, then sees that the man is carrying a car-seat. He sighs, gestures at Erica's Toyota.

"My car doesn't have a back-seat—"

"We'll go with Erica and Boyd," Sally says, looks at the man behind her. "You've got the car seat, right, Henry?"

"Here." The guy—brown-haired, lanky, mustachioed—holds it up, glare lessening slightly. "Sally, are you sure—"

"They're gonna help me," she says, and that must satisfy him, because he walks over to the Toyota and starts figuring out how to put the seat in. Erica, Boyd, and Sally just kind of stand around and… watch.

"Is she telling the truth?" The lady—black-haired, hawk nose, laugh lines at the corners of her eyes—squints up at him.

"Yeah," he says. "We're going to take care of the problem. We'll keep Kari and Sally safe."

"Good," she says, and her eyes narrow further. She leans into him. "I liked you in Complicated. Congratulations on the Oscar."

Stiles blinks at the sudden change of pace. "Oh," he says, "oh, well, thanks. Yeah. Thank you, really."

"Are you planning on any new movies soon?" she asks.

"No, not right now." He gestures at the others. Erica has climbed in the back and is somehow wrestling the car seat into position. "Bigger problems at the moment."

"I knew," she says. He still doesn't know her name. "I knew when I saw you talking about that scar on your chest—on Craig Ferguson, I love him—I knew you were involved in our world."

"Oh yeah," he says. "Really, how?"

"Mountain lions don't scratch like that," she says. "I knew a shifter who turned into a mountain lion. They don't scratch like that. Like they're trying to claw just your heart out."

"Oh," he says.

"You keep them safe," she says, then slips him a piece of paper with a number and the name Laurel written in small, neat handwriting, "and keep us informed."

"I will," he says. "Laurel."

The drive back to Beacon Hills takes thirty minutes longer than expected, because, despite having been under construction for the two months since he's been back, the bridge into town is still not fixed. Or, is it broken? Stiles doesn't know what's going on, just that it's inconvenient and he hates it.

And, fuck, okay, yeah, he deals with LA traffic daily, but Beacon Hills is not LA, and… and he shouldn't have to deal with this. Yeah.

Especially when Scott is giving him these looks. Like he wants him to talk, but he doesn't want him to talk, but he's kind of betrayed that it wasn't him Stiles had told, instead of Sally, and—

"Dude," Stiles says. "Would you stop staring at me? I will let you drive the car, just, stop."

"But, Stiles." Scott drums his fingers along the dashboard. "Feelings. We should talk about the—oh god, I can't." Scott cracks up, and Stiles gapes at him.

"Are you making fun of me, wolf-boy? Because last time I remember, you broke up with Allison five times before high school even ended, so—"

"Oh, come on, low blow." Scott's still smiling, though. "It's just cute."

"This is cute," Stiles says. "You just described this as cute."

"You're so touchy," Scott says.

Stiles doesn't even have a come-back for that.

He turns into Isaac's apartment building, and parks in guest parking next to where Boyd, Erica, and Sally are already climbing out of their car. Sally is holding a baby with a bright mop of curly red-hair. She's adorable, although the way she just stares at Stiles as he climbs out of his car is a bit unnerving.

"Your baby," he says, walking over to look at her closer, "doesn't like me."

"She stares at everyone." Erica slams her door closed. "It's creepy."

She stares at him the entire time they walk to the lobby, and in the elevator, she starts blowing a spit bubble over Sally's shoulder, still staring at him, and in the hallway, she starts grabbing at him with pudgy red-stained fingers. Needless to say, he walks slower.

Isaac opens the door for them when they get upstairs, staring wide-eyed at the baby when she turns her head to look at him and coos. Behind him, Lydia and Allison are in the kitchen, standing over a pot of bubbling something that smells like spinach. The shifter potion; Stiles remembers looking at the recipe and seeing datura and henbane, so they must've gone to the clinic and taken them from Scott's 'secret' medicine room.

"Honey," Scott says, arms open wide. "I'm home."

Everyone groans.

"So, you're from a small town. Is it weird, going back home and being this big, successful actor? Craig's accent is even cooler when you hear it in person. Stiles can barely do a British accent; he would probably make a mockery of it if he even tried Scottish.

"Uh, I'm not that big of an actor," Stiles says.

"Oh, come on! You're going to be, kid," Craig says. The audience laughs at that, and Stiles is… embarrassed. "So, going back home."

"Beacon Hills is…" Stiles laughs. "There are two things Beacon Hills is obsessed with; lacrosse and mountain lions. I was actually on the lacrosse team when I was in high school—"

"—we've got those pictures." Craig points at the camera, and Stiles sees himself, in all his nerdtastic, shaved head glory, on a screen to his right. He groans. "You look terrified. Were you bullied to get on the team or something?"

"Hey!" Stiles protests. "I was pretty good, though."

"A-huh, and what's this about mountain lions?"

"I was actually attacked by one." Stiles grins wide, and does not think at all, about how much of a lie this is. Some lies are good. "Was in the hospital for, uh, a good month. Physical therapy, scars, all that jazz."

"You have scars?" Craig motions with his hands. "Show us, show us. Any really cool ones?"

"Are you… are you asking me to do a strip tease?" Stiles clutches at his jacket's collar. The producers had told him that Craig would make him show the scars if the topic came up. Stiles isn't surprised, and it's not like he's terrified—he actually has abs, now, which is great.

But the scar… well, people have already seen the scar, because paparazzi like to hang around hotel pools, apparently.

"Well, I mean, if you're offering." Craig shrugs. The audience cheers. A particularly enthusiastic woman screams at him to take his clothes off.

Stiles stands, shrugs his jacket off his shoulders, and wonders how the fuck his life turned into public strip shows in front of millions of people.

"We found the shifters," is the first thing Derek says after Isaac lets him and the sheriff in. After a pause, where everyone looks towards them from their various positions around the living room—Stiles on the floor, Erica curled up with Boyd on one of the recliners, Allison curled up with Scott on the other recliner, and Lydia, Sally, and Kari on the sofa—the second thing is, "is your baby's skin… glowing?"

"It's a phase." Sally shrugs.

"It's actually really fascinating," Scott says, "during pre-natal development the—"

"Nope, hon." Allison puts her hand over Scott's mouth. "Just nope."

"She's beautiful." Dad walks to lean over the couch, babbling something that the baby seems to understand, because she babbles back.

"Thank you," Sally says. "You found them? Where they're staying?"

"So far, we've got ten hits on persons of interest renting rooms at three separate motels in the county," The Sheriff says. "So it's not so much a 'we got them' so much as a 'we're starting to start getting them.'"

"They haven't rented any cars," Derek says, "they used cash and fake I.D.'s for the rooms. And we don't know if those are the only ones here, or the only ones we've seen." He walks over, sits on the sofa next to where Stiles is on the floor, and hands a file to Sally. "If you can put a name—a real name—to any of those faces, it would help."

Stiles does not read in to the way Derek's lower leg is pressed against his side.

… okay, fuck it, he does. Damn it.

He has a moment where he's afraid his heart is going to start beating out of control, but it passes, because Derek leans back into the cushions, and Stiles sees the bags under his eyes and the clenched set of his jaw, and he thinks about cute puppies and soft blankets and the moment passes with him still calm.

Well, relatively. So, that means he's not acting on his conflicting desires to jump the man, sit him down for a painful and awkward talk, or run far, far, far away.

"Stiles, this is the guy from yesterday, right?" Sally angles the file to show him a grainy black and white photo of a hawk-nosed, gaunt-faced guy. He feels Derek tense next to him.

"Yeah, you didn't know him? I thought you—"

"I can't name any of them," Sally says, still looking at the photos, "they might've hired from outside the usual circle, but if I could—" She stops when Kari starts shifting in her arms, picks her up, and places her in the wicker laundry basket Isaac had dug up from his closet and lined with about a dozen different blankets. As a crib it will work, for now.

"Can I see?" Stiles holds out his hand for the file, and Sally gives it to him.

"Do you have digital copies of those?" Sally asks. "I could run the images through—"

"You tried that last night; we didn't find anything." Lydia says.

"I didn't have images to start from." Sally gestures at the file Stiles is looking through.

"You could get us names?" The Sheriff asks.

There are three women and seven men in the photos, all of them gaunt-faced and looking pissed off at generally everything. He really hopes this whole thing ends with him not meeting any of them, but knowing his luck, he'll probably stumble into them on the way to pee or something.

"I could try." Sally hesitates. She opens the laptop Isaac lent her.

"Lydia and I finished off the shifter potion," Allison says. "Deaton said it has to sit for six hours to cool, but other than that, it should work fine if it's… needed."

"When it's needed," Derek says.

"So," Stiles says, "have we got a plan yet?"

"What do you mean?" Dad walks over to the kitchen and gets himself a drink.

"Are we killing them? Are we capturing them and then killing them? Are we contacting Mr. Mob-boss and threatening him? The plan." Stiles pauses. "Or are we just waiting around until they show themselves, and then take it from there?"

"You need to appear strong," Sally says, jaw clenched. "Killing them will make you appear strong"

"Strong doesn't mean you need to kill," Scott says. "We can—"

"We kill if we need to," Derek growls, then pauses, looks down at the floor, and continues in his normal voice, "but it's not always… the best option."

"So, we're wingin' it." Stiles sinks back, winces when the hard floor digs into his tailbone. There's space on the couch, but it would—oh, fuck it. He pushes himself up, plops down in the space between Derek and the sofa's arm, and sighs as he sinks into the cushions. "I'm cool with that. Leaves room for creativity."

"Creativity," Derek snorts, "really?"

"Or, you know, spur of the moment genius," Stiles continues.

"No," Derek looks over at him, expression bland, "just no."

"The photos, Derek," Sally says. "Remember? I need you to send me the—"

"I—" Derek blink, gets his phone out. "Yeah."

Stiles catches the way Sally smirks, catches the way the others—save for dad, because he seems like he has no idea what's going on—look between Derek and him. He sees it. He just… chooses to ignore it.

"Sent," Derek says, a little bit later. "to Isaac's g-mail. He never logs out, so—"

"… yeah, got 'em," Sally says. "This'll take a while, but I'm pretty sure I can get something by tonight."

"So, you're saying we should get back to work?" Dad says, pointedly, from the kitchen.

"Yeah, pretty much." Sally says.

"Erica, Scott, Isaac." Derek stands, and Stiles isn't really surprised that they had been sitting flush against each other—he's, like, hyperaware, here—but he is a little bit surprised as to how much he just wants to pull Derek back down. "I need you to scope out the shifters, see what they've been doing, where they've been."

"Sounds good," Scott says. "I need to get back to the clinic around five, though. I've got an orchiectomy schedu-"

Derek ignores him, and turns to Stiles. "Boyd, stay with Sally."

"I could—" Boyd starts.

"Stay here," Derek says, "with Allison, Lydia, and Stiles. You're out with me tonight."

"I actually have to get back to the University," Lydia says. "My professor wants to see me for—"

Stiles gets up just as Derek rolls his eyes, and walks over to where his dad is leaning against the kitchen counter.

"Is the house safe?" He asks. Derek is rolling his eyes again, mostly because Lydia has gone into a long-winded discussion about physics and how her professor is a complete idiot and—

"They're not going to attack a Sheriff, son," Dad says.

"Can I get a security system installed, though?" Stiles asks. "I was looking online last night, and they have this one that comes with an app for your iPhone and it—"

"No, Stiles."

"You could at least sleep over here, tonight," Stiles says.

"No, I'm going back to work, I'm going to go check on Melissa, and then I'm going home," Dad says. "And if they try anything? They'll get a couple of years in jail and—"

"Then why can't I stay with yo—" Stiles is arguing just to argue, if he's going to be honest. But, hey, it's his dad.

"Because you're watching Sally," Derek says from behind them. Like, right behind them.

"Fine, yeah, great," Stiles grumbles, "house arrest, got it."

"Not house arrest." Derek's hand comes up to grip at his shoulder. Stiles watches, a little fascinated, as he kind of leans forward, ducks his head, almost as if—no, definitely as if, he's smelling him. God, the guy is either trying to be really obvious, or he's just… oblivious. "Babysitting."

"Ha," Stiles says, "ha ha ha. The wolf-man's got jokes. Hilarious jokes."

And horrible seduction techniques.

"So, how do you feel about your son's chances tonight, Mr. Stilinski?" Klarissa with a K's smile is predatory. "You think he's gonna go home with an Oscar?"

"Oh, well--" Dad always gets kind of bashful in front of the cameras. It's fucking hilarious. And only part of the reason Stiles likes to bring him to these things. "--either way he grew up better than I expected, so I'm proud."

"Better than you expected?" Stiles asks. "Wow, dad, thanks for the vote of confidence."

"You're welcome, son," The Sheriff says.

"He's just mad because I didn't let him eat the candy they had in the limo," Stiles says to Klarissa. "Skittles make him—"

"Really?" Dad turns to him. "We're going there, Stiles?"

"You two are so cute," Klarissa says. "Any plans for after show, Mr. Stilinski? Going to the after-parties with your son?"

"Oh no" --Dad shakes his head emphatically-- "No, no . Hell no. I'm going back to the house and getting a glass of—"

"—water. Because we're watching our—"

"--Scotch, I'm stealing some of that fancy scotch you never open and I'm drinking it, Stiles, and you can't stop me," he says. Klarissa snorts, as do a couple of the reporters next to her. Nevermind the bashful. Dad doesn't get bashful, he gets downright strategic.

"I cannot believe all of this happened," Allison says. "And I wasn't there for any of it."

"You didn't miss much," Stiles mutters.

"You should've seen his face last night, Allison," Sally seems to like Allison. Or, well, likes making fun of Stiles with Allison.

"Ladies," Stiles whines. "Can we just—"

"I mean, now that you say it, it has been kind of obvious. Especially lately," Allison says. "Scott does the touching thing with me. And the smelling. And the whole," --she waves her hand around-- "getting in my personal space thing."

"Boyd, can you—" Stiles looks at Boyd, over in the kitchen, who is studiously ignoring them and working on his laptop. He turns back to Sally. "Can you just work on the—"

"It's searching." Sally shows him the computer screen, where a progress bar is thirty percent full. "It'll take a while. And then we'll maybe have a hit."

"I can't belie—" Allison starts.

"Do you need anything at the store? For the baby. Or you," Boyd asks, suddenly.

There's silence, and Stiles watches as Sally thinks about that, her eyes going a bit wide in surprise. "Actually," she says, and her hand comes out to pet at a sleeping Kari's stomach, "formula. And, diapers. Some other stu—I can give you cash for it. And,"--Sally gets the notepad that's next to the laptop, and starts writing something down-- "a list, because she only likes certain-"

"No need for cash," Boyd says, standing and closing his laptop. "Stiles will be paying."

Stiles blinks, because it seems like… it seems like Boyd is… saving him? He looks at Boyd, sees the half-smile on his face, and, oh wow, he is.

Stiles loves Boyd. He loves him and he doesn't even care if he's going to have to fight Erica for him. He's—

"Yeah." Stiles jumps from his seat on the couch. "Yeah I'll pay. We'll be gone, what, tops, an hour? We can take my car, and—"

"Maybe we should take mine, Stiles," Boyd says, after he gets the list from Sally and looks at it. "I don't think all of this will fit in your trunk."

"Oh, right." Stiles isn't disappointed, because, fuck, he's being saved. "Cool."

He ignores the look that Allison and Sally share when he jumps off the couch and goes to shove his wallet and phone in his back pocket, then over to the door to toe his shoes on.

"The security here is good," Boyd says to Sally. "Derek was pretty sure, last night, that none of the shifters had figured out where you were. So—"

"It's good, Boyd," she says. Stiles opens the door, looks to either side of the hallway. "Allison's pretty much as useful as a werewolf. With the arrows and the—"

"I never told you—"

"Scott told me when—"

Boyd pushes Stiles out the front door before Sally finishes.

The drive to Wal-Mart is silent and amazing. Boyd doesn't ask him about anything, or give him advice, or, actually, say anything at all. Instead, he connects his iPod to the stereo, and they bob their heads to Queen and Lady Gaga and Deadmau5 for the twenty minutes it takes to get across town and find a parking space.

"This is gonna be, like, five hundred bucks," Stiles says when he gets his first look at the list Sally had written for them.

"It's worth it, isn't it?" Boyd asks, looking at him with that all-knowing Boyd look. "To get away from the inquisition?"

Stiles sighs, claps him on the shoulder. "You're an awesome guy, and I think I'm falling in—"

"Already taken." Boyd holds up his left hand, taps his engagement ring with his right pointer finger. "Sorry."

"Did I say congrats, yet? Because congrats." Stiles grabs a cart. "Or, this is Erica, maybe condolences are in order."

Boyd grins, looks down at the list. "Where is the baby aisle, anyway?"

They find the baby aisle, eventually, although Stiles gets waylaid by a group of old women who want pictures with him. Then a Japanese couple on a roadtrip have him sign a Jason Todd DVD and, yeah, more pictures.

So, really, Boyd finds the baby aisle first, and Stiles finds him twenty minutes later.

"I don't get," Boyd says, holding two different brands of pacifiers in his hands, "what the difference is."

"Just…" Stiles looks at them, winces because they really are identical. "Get both. What else do we nee—"

"Diapers," Boyd intones.

"Alcohol." Stiles pushes the cart towards wherever the diapers are. He's assuming they're near the toilet paper. They're always near the toilet paper. "Junk food. Oh, oh oh, I saw a tent on the way here. We could buy that, have a little camp-out. Annoy the fuck out of Isaa—"

"We're just getting diapers," Boyd says.

Twenty minutes later, after they've found the diapers (by the toilet paper), and gone through the check-out, Stiles is glad he played so much Tetris as a kid—okay, he still plays a lot of Tetris, actually—because fitting all of the boxes and bags into Boyd's car is proving to be an exercise in strategy and problem solving.

Okay, it's really not, but it's still a pain in the ass.

By the time they drive out of the parking lot, Stiles hates pastels, he hates photogenic baby mascots, and he hates baby powder.

Or maybe he's just hungry.

Either way, Stiles is done for the day, and, by the way Boyd is glaring at absolutely nothing, he is too.

Which sucks, really, for them, because just as they're turning off of the main road, the car is surrounded by three big, black SUVs and forced off into the alley behind Allen's Tire Replacements.

Stiles doesn't know whether to start laughing or crying.

Boyd is saying something to him—something about staying calm and running away and letting him handle this—but Stiles is busy getting his breathing under control, pushing thoughts of flight and fear and holy fuck to the back of his mind.

He's an actor; he can handle this.

When his door his yanked open, and he suddenly finds himself up against a brick wall (second one in two days, this must be a thing with them, the pinning of people against walls), he only gets a brief glance at where Boyd is snarling, wolfed out, at what appears to be a man turning into a lion, before a fist connects with his stomach.

"They picked someone else." Miranda greets him when he opens the front door. "For the Spielberg film. Can you fucking believe it?"

"Hi, Miranda." Stiles sometimes feels like he's ten steps behind her. "How are you today?"

"Next time," she snarls. "Next time that witch Natasha asks me for a favor, see if I do it. Just see if I do it. You were ten, twenty, thirty, times better than all of those assho—"

"Woah, calm down!" Stiles also, sometimes, feels like Miranda and him switch roles far too often. He's the one that's supposed to be pissed off he didn't get the role; not her. As it is, Stiles is actually kind of relieved. And, honestly, the audition process hadn't really been great (read: he made an ass of himself). "It was a long shot anyway—"

"No it wasn't! I've got dozens of directors calling me since Eyes of Red." Miranda wags her finger at him. Stiles wonders if he's getting scolded, or—"They know a good actor when they see one. It's that damn Natasha. She's had it out for me ever since the Sundance fiasco."

"Well, I mean, you did—"

"Shut up," she says, digging for something in her bag. "I've got another script for you. Indie movie; director's a friend of Joan. She told him you would fit this Sam guy." She pulls out a script, hands it to him.

"You couldn't have just e-mailed it?" Stiles asks, flipping through the pages. "Coming all the way to my house just seems—"

"Do not start making puns with the title, I swear to god, Stiles, I will—"

"—it just seems complicated," Stiles finishes.

"You're twelve," Miranda says in disbelief. "You're a twelve year old in a twenty-four year old's body."

"Where is she!?" The shifter—Stiles is going to call him Owl, because he has an owl tattooed on his jugular—punches him in the stomach (again) when he doesn't answer. That makes five times.

Stiles is going to have bruises.

Behind Owl, four other shifters (let's call them Eenie, Meenie, Miny, and Mo) are kicking at Boyd, who's snarling, curled up in a defensive ball. They had sprayed something in his face, earlier, around the same time Owl here had given Stiles punch number two, that made him scream and collapse to his knees.

Which is when they had started beating him up.

Fuck, Derek is going to be pissed.

"I swear," Owl snarls, his face growing alligator-like scales. "The next time you don't answer, I'm going to punch you in your fucking face, and then—"

"—and then," Stiles snarls, leaning forward so his face is inches from Owl's, "what? Punch me in the face, I don't give a shit. All you're going to get is a bloody human and a bunch of fucking werewolves with less of a reason to keep you alive."

Stiles is bluffing; he definitely gives a shit. Okay, no, he's not bluffing, he's acting. Or, well, maybe he's not so much acting as letting his mouth run wild. Who cares, because Owl seems to be convinced that he's a badass (or nuts), because his eyebrows furrow in confusion. Only for a split second, but Stiles is used to paying attention to subtle expressions.

"You tell me where the bitch is," --Owl's hand, holding him against the wall by his neck, squeezes until Stiles is choking-- "or my friends and I kill you. I don't give a fuck about your little pack of dogs."

Stiles watches as the scales on his face start hardening, watches as his chin starts to elongate and his teeth start to sharpen. He looks past to see that Boyd is staring at him from where he's shielding his head with his arms, still on the ground, still being kicked. His jaw his clenched, and there's blood and black goo dripping down his forehead to the dirty sidewalk below, but he's looking at Stiles like he has a plan.

And, Stiles, apparently, is part of that plan. He looks, from Owl, to the other shifters, to Boyd, and still has no idea what he needs to do.

So he improvises.

Stiles is good at improvising.

"I—I don't know," Stiles makes his voice crack—it's not too hard, since he's still being choked—and schools his expression into something between terror and what he's dubbed 'the weasel,' "where they're keeping her."

"You know." Owl's teeth are long now, longer than any werewolves. He squeezes Stiles' neck harder. Yup, that's definitely going to bruise.

"I don't, man!" Stiles squeaks, letting his eyes flit over to where the others have stopped kicking Boyd. They're still holding him down, though, and one of them—Eenie—is holding a spray bottle in his face. "You think humans get told anything?!"

"But you're—" Owl's eyes narrow. His voice is starting to get deeper, maybe because his neck is shifting scales now, too. The hand not on Stiles' neck tightens where it's holding his wrists in a death grip. He can hear the bones creak against each other. "You're lying."

"No," Stiles sobs. "I don't know."

He thinks about how shitty it would be if he died, and how sad his dad would be. How sad everyone would be. He thinks about his mom dying, slowly, painfully. He thinks about the phantom pains he sometimes gets, when there's going to be a storm, at the place where Peter almost ripped his heart out. He thinks about injured puppies and homeless cats, and, ahh—there we go, now he's crying. Desperate, terrified, somewhat authentic, tears of fear and desperation and sadness.

The shifters standing over Boyd look over, expressions confused and a little disgusted (desperate tears are not pretty tears). He feels the grip Owl has on his wrists and his neck loosen, just a smidge. He waits, one inhale, two exhales, until he meets Boyd's gaze, sees him nod, ever so slightly, and then he's surging forward, twisting, bringing his leg up to knee at his stomach and punching out, until it's Owl who's against the wall, his face against the wall, half collapsed because Stiles' knee had connected with his balls instead of his stomach. Oops.

Stiles hears crashing behind him, and angry snarls and a couple of thuds. His heartbeat is thundering in his ears, and he's terrified, of course.

But he's also in control.

So he gets a grip on Owl's hair, pulls back, and smashes his head into the bricks. There's a crack, and the shifter falls to the floor, still breathing, but unconscious.

Stiles doesn't have time to feel like a badass, because there are still three shifters conscious (the one Stiles had dubbed Mo is draped half in, half out, of a nearby dumpster), surrounding Boyd and shifting.

All of them seem to be reptilian. Maybe they're, like, the alligator gang or something. The Alligator Boys? The Alli Boys?

"Stiles," Boyd growls, "get out of here! Get Der—" Eenie jumps at him, and he's lost in a clusterfuck of snarls and claws and movements too fast for Stiles to see.

For a second, Stiles wonders if he should listen. Boyd has his best interests at heart—technically, he's the weak one here. But Stiles is pretty sure Boyd isn't going to win this one alone.

He panics for the second after that, and then he sees that the doors to the three SUVs the Alli Boys (he likes it, okay, in a horrible, non-liking way) had used to push them off the road are all still wide open.

And they're still running. The SUVS, that is. They're still… on.

What douchebags.

He rushes over and grabs all three sets of keys before any of the shifters realize what he's doing, dodging behind the cars themselves and generally staying out of sight. Then, somehow, adrenaline gives him enough strength to slink back over to Owl and shove him into the backseat of Boyd's Toyota.

They need answers. And Owl's got them.

Also, Stiles is pretty sure he won't be in as much trouble if he comes home with a hostage.

But that's just secondary.

He ties him up, even though Stiles is pretty sure he's going to be out for a while, then scrambles into the driver's seat, turns the car on, puts it in reverse, and aims towards the big pile of what the fuck clawing at each other.

Boyd jumps out of the way before he hits him; the others do not.

Stiles is going to need some therapy after this, he really is. He just slammed a dude's head into the wall. He just ran over three other dudes.

Granted, they were going to kill him, but still…

"Stiles," Boyd yells as he pulls the passenger door open, jumps in, "why the fuck is he in the backseat?!"

"Information!" Stiles squeaks back. "Close the fucking door!"

Boyd slams the door closed, and Stiles fishtails back onto the main street, thankful for the lack of traffic. Or people.

"Crap," Stiles says. "Crap crap crap. Put your jacket over him."


"—so no one sees thebloody and unconscious dude in our back seat, Boyd!" Stiles yells, turning onto the road that will take them—crap, they can't go back to Isaac's. "Call someone. Tell them we have fuckface. Ask them where the fuck we take him."

"You want me to take my jacket off or call!?" Boyd is half out of his jacket. For the first time, Stiles notices how bloody his face is, and that his eyes are leaking black goo.


"What the fuck happened to your face, dude? What if someone sees? Wipe it off," he says. "And do both."

"Wolfsbane, idiot," Boyd snarls. He does wipe his face, though, with the same jacket he then throws over shifter-dude. Or, well, Stiles likes calling him Owl. It makes him seem less intimidating than he actually is. "Derek is going to be pissed."

"Yeah, no shit." Stiles stops when the light turns red, forces himself to take deep, calming breaths. His hands are gripping the steering wheel hard enough to make indentations. His heartbeat is fast and hard and he's about five seconds away from hyperventilating. His vision might also be swimming.


"Derek," Boyd says, and Stiles looks to see he has his phone to his ear, "we've, uh, got a situation."

"A situation?" Stiles says, voice a little manic. "A situation is when there's no fucking milk for cereal in the morning, Boyd. This is not a situation. This is a clusterfuck of pain and—"

"We're fine," Boyd snarls, motioning for Stiles to shut up. "We've uh, got a hostage. Where do we take him?"

There's a long, very pregnant pause, and then Boyd nods, and drops the phone in the cup holder between them.

"The old warehouse," Boyd says. "where we used to—"

"Yeah, yeah, I got it," Stiles says.

Acting happy is always easier than acting sad. Or, for that matter, angry, or terrified, or, most of all, drunk.

It's really hard to pull off a convincing drunk when you're not actually drunk.

Anyway, acting happy is easy. Well, sometimes.

"Who are you, and what have you done with my mother?" Stiles asks, in mock horror. Fun Home has a lot of mother/son scenes. Stiles imagines he's Scott for those. It makes it slightly easier.

"Ha, very funny, Dean, really," --Cindy, who's playing his mother, twirls around in the pink-taffeta prom dress she's wearing-- "I'm monitoring your prom. I thought I'd look the part."

"You--" Stiles lets his mouth open and close a couple of times, looks around, maybe for salvation. "Why would you—"

"Oh, shut up," she says, fondly.

"You—you--" Derek's feet are touching his. That's how close he's standing. His hands are clenching and unclenching at his sides, his nostrils are flaring, and his face is doing that thing where he looks like he's going to have an aneurism. "I told you to stay with Sally, Stiles!"

"Sally is, obviously, safe," Stiles says, "and you didn't tell me to stay with Sally, you told Bo—nevermind. I'm fine, and Boyd is fine, and—everyone is fine, Derek, except Mr. Owl over there."

"Whose head you smashed into a brick wall," The sheriff says, sounding a little… proud.

"Yes," Stiles says. Derek is leaning in towards him, so he sighs, takes a step so that he's standing next to him, and places a hand on his shoulder. Might as well humor the guy; maybe he'll stop being so mad.

He visibly deflates, and Stiles just kind of gives up denying the whole… thing between them.

Damn it, this was supposed to be a vacation. Now it's turning into a supernatural romance drama…thing. Oh wait, oh god. Is his life…is his life a paranormal romance?

Oh, that's just… that's horri—

"You got blood all over the back seat of our car," Erica says. Stiles doesn't know why she's here and no one else is. Oh, well, Scott's probably in surgery, and Isaac was probably sent back to stay with Sally, Lydia, and Allison. And Erica… Erica has a bottle of the shifter potion in one hand, and a needle in the other. "Vernon."

"Don't look at me," Boyd says. "Stiles was the one that shoved him in there. I was trying to fight four of them, and then—"

"—he ran them over with the car," The sheriff says, still sounding proud.

"Yes," Stiles says, annoyed. He grips at Derek's shoulder when he stiffens, shakes it a little. "I didn't kill them, though. I'm pretty sure."

"Did he say anything?" Derek asks. He's watching Stiles closely, eyes roving over his face, almost like he's looking for—oh, he's looking for injuries. Well, won't find them there. His stomach, though, and ribs are pretty banged up.

Plus, he bit his tongue. Which is the fucking worst.

"No," Boyd says, "just wanted to know where Sally was."

"It's good that you got him," The sheriff says. "Would be better if we transferred him to the station, get him in a cell."

"What!?" Stiles flails. "I didn't go through all of that to have him get justice. He needs to be interrogated! Or at least kicked in the-"

"We interrogate him first," Derek says, "then bring him to station so he's locked up for good."

"Charged with?"

"He assaulted you, didn't he?" Dad says.

"Oh," Stiles says, "right." Derek steps closer to him, sniffing, probably for blood.

"Did anyone see you?" Derek asks. "On your way here."

"No, no one saw us," Stiles says. "I took the back roads. We had that fuc—that fricker underneath a jacket, so—"

"You did good, Stiles," Dad says. He's circling the shifter, who's groaning in his sleep. "Erica, you think you could inject him with that… stuff, now?"

"Sure thing, Sheriff." Erica walks from where she's leaning against Boyd, giving Stiles a significant look on the way there. He sighs again, turns to see Derek watching him with narrowed eyes.

"I'm good, Derek, stop with the," --he gestures at his face-- "laser eyes."

"You shouldn't have left the apartment, Stiles, you're the one person they had the scent for, and you—"

"Kari needed diapers, and—" Stiles pauses. It's not like he can say 'and Stiles needed a break from being advised on his relationship with a certain werewolf.' "and I, uh, needed… air?"

"You're lying," Derek growls. He takes a step closer, which Stiles hadn't even thought possible. "I know when you're lying, no one else does, but I do."

That's actually… that's kind of fascinating. "Really?" Stiles asks. "Do I have a tell? Raised eyebrows? Eye ticks?"

"What aren't you telling me, Stiles?" Derek rubs at his temples. They're whispering now, although Stiles is pretty sure it's merely because of how close they're standing, and not for any privacy. They're in the same room as his dad and two werewolves, so, yeah, no privacy. "Can you just--?"

"What aren't I telling you?" Stiles snorts out a laugh. "What about what you aren't telling me?" Fuck, he's probably still high on adrenaline. He didn't mean to say that. He really didn't. This is too new. He shouldn't be confronting Derek already, even if it is-

"What?" Derek looks confused, and it's adorable. Stiles winces and takes a large step back. He mimes zipping his lips.

"Nope, not going there. Definitely not," Stiles says. "Not today, not tomorrow. Just, no."

"Stiles, I'm not not telling you anything, I just want to understand why the fuck you thought—"

"Dude, there needs to be a reason?" Stiles scrunches his nose up. "She needed baby supplies; I got baby supplies. It worked out in the end, I don't know why you're focusing on-"

"Actually," Boyd says, "there's shifter blood all over the baby formula. We need to get more."

Derek ignores that in favor of leaning into him until his face is maybe an inch from Stiles'. "You're an idiot," he says.

"Not as big of an idiot as you," Stiles mutters. Part of him realizes that they are way too close, right now. Like, strangely close. People usually don't have conversations with their faces this fucking close to each other. It's weird. And unnatural. And kind of… oh fuck off it's kind of nice.

No, it's really nice.

He feels the heat coming off of where Derek' shoulder is resting against his—because they're angled away from the whole shifter situation, standing next to each other at a diagonal—and it feels good. Their heads are hunched together. Derek is… smiling. Although, it's more of a tight-lipped, angry, 'I can't believe I'm actually amused right now' smile.

But he is smiling, and his hand is still on Stiles' shoulder, and, well, yeah, it's not him pushing Stiles up against a wall and having his filthy, filthy adrenaline induced-way with him (and apparently Stiles wants that more than he had originally thought?), but this is… it's awkward and complicated and ridiculous, and, yeah, that's pretty much Derek Hale in a nutshell.

"Ahh, guys, shifter dude is waking up," Erica says. "What's the plan?"

"We make him talk," Derek says.

"Mr. Caldin." Tony, the lead actor in Complicated, and the guy who's supposed to 'save Sam's life,' looks at his chart, then up to where Stiles is in the hospital bed, strung up to about a dozen different wires and tubes. "You were nearly dead when you were brought in."

Stiles stares. He doesn't have any dialogue for this scene—just lots of staring. Intense staring. Sam, actually, doesn't talk a lot in the first place. He speaks in action; in aborted hand movements and sneers and smirks and the occasional middle finger. Generally, Sam is just a silent dude. A silent asshole of a dude.

"Your toxicology report shows—" Stiles tunes him out, because Sam is supposed to tune him out. He already knows what he overdosed on—what Sam overdosed on—and it's not like hearing it again is necessary. All he has to do is wait for the cue—ahh, there, Tony stops talking—and scratch his nose, sniff like he doesn't really give a shit.

Which Sam doesn't.

"Mr. Caldin, we're going to keep you under supervision for the next two days, however—" Stiles tunes him out again. He looks out the window—they're really in a hospital—at the grey drizzle outside. Perfect weather for the scene; makes it all gloomy and depressing and shit.

"Mr. Caldin, are you listening to me?" Tony sounds angry now. Stiles turns his gaze from the window to him, sees that Tony' jaw is clenched and angry.

He smiles.

Chapter Text

"Your name is Arnold? As in, Hey Arnold?" Stiles likes his name—his real name—better than that. And that's saying… a lot. Arnold the shifter snarls at him from where he's tied to the chair. "Do you at least have a cool nickname?"

"Stiles." Derek sighs, from where he's crouched in front of Arnold, clawed hand around his throat, "is this really the time?"

"It's pertinent information, Derek." Stiles holds up Arnold's wallet in one hand, his Norwegian driver's license in the other. "Now we have a name. Is it real? Because Arnold doesn't sound like a Norwegian name."

Erica snatches the driver's license, dialing her phone with the other hand. "Sally will want to look it up," she says when he glares at her, then walks towards the exit.

Boyd and his dad had left soon after Arnold woke up—Boyd to take the baby supplies (sans formula) back to Isaac's, and dad to go back to work—so it's just Derek, Erica, and him.

Stiles has no idea why he's still here. Maybe because he bagged the guy. Finder's keepers, or something.

"I will fucking end you," Arnold manages to snarl around Derek's hand. Stiles is unimpressed. The dude lacks creativity.

"Like you did in the alley, Arnie?" Stiles asks. "Because that was just sad, dude. Just sad."

"Am I doing the interrogation, or are you?" Derek snarls. Stiles walks over to crouch next to him, looking up as Arnold strains against his ropes, cursing at him in Norwegian. Or, well, it sounds Norwegian.

… Stiles is pretty sure it's Norwegian. The guy's from Norway, even if he isn't Norwegian, it's a good bet that he speaks it, right?

He could do this, he thinks. He already kidnapped the dude; he could make him talk. It doesn't take werewolf muscle to scare someone into talking. Hell, it usually doesn't even take scaring someone to make them talk. The whole kanima situation back in high school had proven that.

"He's not gonna talk," Stiles says, though, instead of 'let me.' "He's probably got one of those gang-vows of brotherhood thing going on. You know, die before you snitch, or something."

"That can be arranged," Derek says. Stiles nudges his side with his shoulder, and Derek blinks at him.

"Let his neck go, dude, it's not like he can go anywhere."

Derek lets go, narrowing his eyes at him, even as Arnold starts cursing again.

"Are you going to make him talk?" Derek sounds doubtful.

"Do we even really need him anymore?" Stiles asks. "We've got a name; we can get the others. We've got their cars." He pauses, thinks for a bit. "Four of them are dead, anyway, so…"

He's lying; they didn't die. Derek knows that; the shifter doesn't. From the way Arnold freezes, though, he believes him. Derek squints his eyes at him.

"You couldn't have killed them," Arnold croaks, "the werewolf was outnumbered."

"I ran them over in our Toyota," Stiles responds after a bit. His heartbeat is quick enough—has been quick enough since getting forced off the road hours ago—that even if there was an uptick, it could easily be mistaken for anxiety. "Shifters have good hearing, right? You can hear that I'm not lying."

"You sounded like you weren't lying in the alley," Arnold says.

"Why would I lie when I'm obviously in the position of power here, Arnie? Your friends are dead. And, if my Alpha has it his way, the others that came here with you? They'll be dead soon enough." He pauses for effect, watching the way Arnold's pupils dilate and his skin flushes red. It's terrifying how easy this is.

After this, he's done. For the day, that is. He's going back to the apartment, eating something horrendous for his stomach, and then camping out wherever he collapses. Or maybe he could get someone to werewolf mojo the aches and pains away. He hasn't gotten a good look at his stomach, but from how it twinges every time he moves, it's probably doesn't look that great.

"That's the deal, right?" he asks. "We kill you, we officially declare Sally under our protection, your little… brotherhood leaves us alone."

"Not if we kill you first," Arnold snarls.

"So that's a yes," Derek says. "We should just kill you now, then."

"Maybe not," Stiles muses. "We could use him as bait."

"They don't seem like the type to get sentimental," Derek snorts. "How do we know they'll come for him?"

"Just a suggestion," Stiles says. He turns when the door to the warehouse slams open, watches as Erica stalks towards them. "Find anythi-?"

"Arnold is, apparently, his real name. He's an American transplant, just like her, she says." Erica tosses the wallet on a nearby stack of crates. "Sally's got two more names—from the keys you swiped—and she's still running that program for the others. Told me to tell you two that we're having takeout for dinner."

"Since when did she get so bossy?" Stiles asks. And since when was she American? Stiles is confused.

"It's a side-effect of having to deal with you, Stilinski." Erica smiles, then sniffs at the shifter. "Boyd told me this fucker punched you in the stomach."

"Yeah, and?" Next to him, Derek stiffens.

"I swear if I don't get to injure or maim at least one of them I'm going to go nuts," Erica says.

"Erica," Derek says, "take Stiles back to Isaac's."

"I don't need—"

"Stiles," Derek growls at him, "really. Go. Let me do this."

Derek seems… on edge. Which is not a good sign. For anyone, actually. Stiles inches over until their shoulders are touching. "You're not going to kill him, right?" he whispers. "I was acting earlier; it would kind of suck if we killed him before he gave us anything useful."

"I'm not going to kill him," Derek whispers back, and his breath ghosts over Stiles' neck. "I'm going to get the information we need, and then I'm going to knock him out and bring him to the station. Disorderly conduct, physical assault; he'll be there for a while."

"Hotshot deputy," Stiles jokes. "Breakin' the law while he's still in his uniform. Kind of hot."

"What?" Derek snorts, shakes his head. "Go, Stiles."

"Yeah, yeah." Stiles is glad Derek didn't read too much into the hot comment. He knows Erica heard it, though, and he knows she's reading into it, because she's giving him a look. It's not his fault he's always been horrible at flirting. "I'll save some food for you if you're back late."

"Stiles." Derek grabs his forearm before he's able to walk away. He smiles at him. "Thanks."

"You need a girlfriend," Miranda greets him with, then tilts her head, squints her eyes, "or a boyfriend. I don't care which. You need one."

Stiles closes Miranda's office door and walks over to the couch before he responds. "And why do I need a significant other?"

"Is that what they're calling them these da-you know what, nevermind." Miranda waves her hands. "Whenever you get the romance question, you freeze up, and you start shoving your foot in your mouth. So, you either need a 'significant other,'" --she uses finger quotes to emphasize her point. Stiles doesn't know what the point is, exactly-- "or you need to, I don't know, get a better story than 'I'm an awkward dude and no one wants to eat curly fries with me.'"

"I didn't say that," Stiles says. "Well, not together. They were separate events. And plus, people love the awkward. There are .gifs of those moments all over tumblr. There's a twitter account called 'Stilisms.' There's a-"

"Yeah, well—" Miranda sighs.

"You can't control every aspect of my life, Miranda," Stiles reminds her.

"It would be easier if I could," Miranda grumbles.

"That would be terrifying," Stiles says. He leans back into the sofa, waiting for her to continue. He knows she didn't call him in to discuss his relationship woes. There must be something else…

"I'm just saying, it's been what, five years we've worked together?" she asks, pacing.

"Yeah, sure," Stiles says. Ever since he started getting roles that actually had lines.

"And you've never had a girlfriend or a boyfriend," she says.

"Are we seriously going there?" Stiles scrunches his nose when she just looks at him. Okay, maybe she did call him in to talk about his relationship woes. "A couple. Nothing serious, though, why?"

"Then this guy," --she walks over to her desk, grabs a manila folder, and throws it in his lap-- "not your significant other?"

He opens the folder, winces when he sees the pictures. He's drunk, and shirtless, and kissing a dude he has no memory of ever seeing. Ever.

"I—fuck?" He offers.

"Yes, Stiles. Fuck."

"So, favorite movie?" Sally asks through a mouthful of burger. Next to her, Allison is playing hide and seek with Kari. It would be adorable, if Kari wasn't staring over at him every five minutes. And if Erica hadn't put in the Break DVD. She keeps rewinding the scene where Jeremy Renner beats him up. It's kind of (no, really) fucking annoying.

But Stiles is Yoda. Yoda Stiles is. He can deal.

… deal he can.

Plus, he makes a gazillion times more than her, so ha.

And it's not like he wants to make a big deal out of it anyway, since everyone else seems to be enjoying it. Well, not the rewinding part. But the movie itself.

"I don't know," he says, also through a mouthful of burger, "don't have one. Too many are awesome. Why?"

"No," she sighs. "I mean favorite movie you've been in."

"Oh," Stiles says. He thinks for a bit. "Same answer."

"Cop out!" Lydia sing-songs.

"Jason Todd, all the way," Scott says.

"Falling Backwards," Erica says. "Because that kiss between you and that model? Chloe? Karli? So awkward. So delightfully awkward."

"I liked the series you were on for that one season," Isaac offers, "the gaming one. That was pretty funny."

"This one," Allison sighs, "because Jeremy Renner is in it."

"You were good in Complicated," Boyd says. "You deserved the Oscar."

"Suck up," Erica hisses.

"Thanks, man," Stiles says, strangely touched, and also embarrassed.

… he's just glad no one's talking about Derek.

It's almost ten, and he's exhausted. They had tried to wait for Derek to come back to the apartment to eat, but, well, apparently getting information from a Norwegian mobster is harder than he had expected.

Actually, Stiles has been exhausted since he walked in the door. He hasn't asked Sally the veritable millions (okay, hyperbole, but still) of questions that haven't been answered yet. Like why none of the names that are coming up sound Norwegian. There are five names in the files Sally sent everyone a couple of hours ago—including Arnold 'ducky' Pendleston—and none of them sound Norwegian.

They're Norwegian nationals, at least that's what the files say. Six have green cards; one of the women is from Burma.

Stiles is too tired for this shit.

He also hasn't asked—hasn't wanted to ask—why the broderskap is so bent on getting Sally back. Or why she chose Beacon Hills. Or how the fuckers found out that she was in Beacon Hills in the first place. Or-

"You were amazing in Complicated," Allison says, "although it was—"

"—sad, and horrible and disturbing," Erica growls.

"Aww." Stiles takes a bite of his burger. "You just didn't like that Sam dies at the end."

"Scott cried," Allison says. "In the theater when we all went to watch it."

"Derek just got off the elevator," Boyd says at the same time.

"It just—" Scott looks at Stiles. "You were all skeletal and in the hospital and, dude, it sucked."

"Crap," Stiles says. "I think I ate his fries."

"No, there's more in the fridge," Lydia says. "I put them in there before anyone could get at them."

"And that's why you're a gen—"

The door slams open, and there's Derek, still in uniform, looking tired and pissed off. No, not pissed off. He looks really fucking angry.

All Stiles can imagine is how kinky it would be to get handcuffed to a bed or may-

"You," --he interrupts Stiles' thought process with a snarl, and points at Sally, kicking the door closed without looking-- "have something they want."

He's not yelling, and Stiles suspects that's because of the baby and the thin walls, but his eyes are glowing red and his canines are longer than normal. So, he's angry.

"Derek, dude, what?" Scott is the first to jump up.

"The shifter," Derek snarls, stalking towards Sally, "says you took something from them. Something that you're using to blackmail—"

"No!" Sally jumps up, her voice cracking. "I'm not—it's not blackmail."

Stiles feels his stomach drop.

"Sally?" Scott asks after a long pause. "He's right?"

Erica and Boyd start growling, low and deep.

"So you didn't tell us everything," Lydia says after another pause, voice slightly harder than usual. "You thought you could just get us to kill them."

"No!" Sally makes to pick up her baby, but Allison looks up at her, eyes glinting, and stands, still holding Kari. Sally's skin starts getting grey and leathery. "That's not it—let me explain. Just, calm down and let me explain."

"I just spent hours," Derek seethes, walking until he's glaring at Sally. "interrogating a man while I had false information. And now you want us to calm down? My pack is in danger and you—"

"I swear," she says, her hands wringing and her eyes on Allison and Kari. "It's not blackmail. Just calm down and let me explain."

"Then explain," Derek growls.

Stiles, having nothing better to do, takes a large bite out of his burger.

He probably should've expected this.

Then again, he is kind of rusty at the whole supernatural thing. And it doesn't seem like any of the others were expecting… this. Whatever this is. He doesn't think it's betrayal or anything big like that. He likes Sally too much to think it's something like that.

"It's—" She swallows, hard. "It's insurance."

"So you have something," Allison says, slowly. Oh, that's her crazy face. Damn. "You have something and you didn't tell us you had it. You thought, 'oh, they'll kill them before anyone finds out, so there's no need to tell.' Is that what you thought?"

"I—" Sally cringes. "I didn't think--please."

"Oh please." Erica rolls her eyes. "Cut the damsel in distress act."

"I was thinking," Sally says, taking a deep breath, "of my baby. Of Kari. I needed something to use if they ever found me. That was before I came here; before I asked you for help."

"What is it?" Stiles asks around a curly fry. "Whatever it is they want."

"… information," Sally says. "Bank accounts, a couple of business fronts, confidential meeting transcripts—"

"Who makes a transcript of a confidential meeting?" Stiles asks, confused.

"They do," Sally says, completely serious. Apparently, no one else sees the humor in that, because no one laughs. Or starts eating again. Or stops growling.

"So you give them the info," he says. "You tell them you're not involved anymore—"

"It's not that si—"

"It is that simple," Stiles says. "You having that information isn't helping Kari, or us, or yourself. It's bringing att—"

"You don't know how they do things, Stiles." She's pleading now. Stiles doesn't know why she's pleading with him.

"Then what," Derek snarls. "You want us to go to war for you?"

"Little bit of a hyper—okay, didn't say anything. Shutting up now." Stiles says, stops when Derek glares at him, and takes another bite of his burger.

"This isn't a war, you don't know what war is like. This—" Sally says. "This place is easy compared to what happens anywhere else. Europe. Asia. Africa. It doesn't work the same—"

"This is California," Lydia says. "We do things differently."

"So give them what they want," Scott speaks up. "Give them the info—it's not like you're gonna need it, Sally. For your daughter. For us. And then—then—if they're still hunting you, well, that's different."

Sally collapses back into the sofa, and Allison sets Kari down on her lap.

"I really didn't know they would find me," she says. "I don't know how, and I didn't know I would ask you for help, I—"

"Are they still going to come after you, if you contact them, tell them you're deleting the info?" Derek asks, voice still a growl. His eyes are still glowing red as well, but his claws are gone. Stiles offers him a curly fry when he plops down, exhausted, on the sofa next to him, and Derek takes it.

"Pr—probably, I don't know." Sally sighs, hugs Kari to her chest. "I just, it wasn't about lying to you, Derek. Or anyone. None of you. It was about protecting… us." She gestures down at Kari with her chin, shrugs.

Stiles gets it.

"The info you have," he says, "is it a file or a hard-drive or—"

"A hard-drive." Sally looks at him. "It's—it needed to be physical, or else they would just track it, delete it, and then kill me anyway. Now, though—"

"Now, unless you're still lying to us," Lydia says. "You have us to protect you. And even the humans here can kick ass, apparently—"

"Actors have a variety of skills, Lydia," Stiles says. Next to him, Derek tries to cover up a snort, but it doesn't work.

"I… do," Sally says.

"So, we tell these… shifters," Scott says, "that we want to meet up, give them the info—"

"—without copying it first," Allison interjects.

"Without copying it first," Scott continues, "and then you tell them you're done, you're not going to spread anything, you just want to be left alone, and—"

"—hopefully," Isaac says, "they leave you alone. But if they don't, then we can always just hurt some people."

Stiles eats the last curly fry, sips the last of his drink, and then leans back into the sofa cushions. Derek's knee nudges his thigh, and he looks over to see him still glaring at Sally.

Snorting, Stiles slides closer, not even surprised when Derek's hand covers his knee and his fingers start picking at the frayed fabric of his jeans.

"I—" Sally looks at the floor. "I really am sorry."

"At least we found out early," Boyd says, "no one was hurt."

Derek growls. Scott points at Stiles. "Stiles was hurt."

"Oh." Sally winces, looks over at him. "Stiles, I—"

"Meh," he says. "No biggie."

"It is." Derek looks over at him, his hand gripping his knee. Stiles is suddenly suspicious, because Derek has to know what he's doing right now.


"It's just bruising." Stiles shrugs. "Not important. Back to Sally; are there any other things you've been keeping from us? Like, you're secretly a CIA agent. Or, you're a spy. Or that's not your baby—"

"—it's her baby," Scott says. "I helped her give—"

"No, no." Sally sighs, rubbing at her temple with one hand and at Kari's back with the other. "That's it. I haven't kept anything else. I just thought that it would be better if you didn't know, in case—"

"They captured us?" Erica drawls. Everyone is still a little tense, since Derek is still tense, and he tends to exude feelings, which makes her drawl sound like more of a… snarl. A snarled drawl.

"Yes," Sally says. "But I'm willing to try out your… plan. If it doesn't work, though—"

"If it doesn't work," Derek says, and at least his voice is not so much a growl as it is a grumble, "it won't change anything. We chase them out of town, or threaten this Sanderson guy, or, if we have to, kill them."

"And if we find out you're hiding anything else," Lydia says, "we'll bring you to them."

"I—" Sally's eyes go wide. "That's—"

"Dude, Lydia," Scott says. "Too much. Way too much."

"It's true, though," Lydia says with a shrug. "And don't call me dude."

Stiles is pretty sure that this has been the shortest and most exhausting twist he's ever been a part of. Not that it's over.

Maybe because it's real life, and not a movie. A scene like this, with this many people, and the actions, and the expressions. Fuck, it would've taken days just to do the fucking reaction shots.

Oh god, all he can think of is Derek as an actor. Doing reaction shots. And physical comedy. And bloopers, oh god, the bloopers. No, it's just-oh man. Oh man. He shouldn't be laughing right now. This is a serious moment. A serious, tense moment, but now he can't get the idea of Derek in a romantic comedy out of his head. He tries to hide his laughter behind fake coughing, but then Derek turns and looks at him, eyebrows raised and mouth slightly crooked, and he gives up.

"Listen, kid--" Jeremy's character—Ben—is supposed to be constantly unimpressed with his character's brilliance. Stiles just thinks the constant sniping and bickering comes off as sexual tension. There's already fan fiction about them online, and they haven't even finished filming the movie, so others must think the same thing "--you get me clear access to that vault, and you won't need to leave the fucking van."

"Oh, right," Stiles—Luke—snorts, "because your plans work so fucking well, Ben."

"My plans" --Ben leans into his personal space. See? Sexual tension-- "are what saved your ass from getting labeled a traitor, or do you not reme—"

"What I remember," --Stiles leans back in his chair, types on his laptop, and does his best to look just as unimpressed as Ben does. Behind Jeremy, the others are all sitting around, looking enthralled. The cinematographer wanted this done with everyone in the shot. Something about bringing the audience in-- "is you punching a bunch of people, including me, beating your chest like some goddamned fucking cavemen, and then lots of blood."

"So you think you know what you're doing?" Ben seethes. "You're a tech geek who—"

"—who passed the field test with a perfect score," Stiles drawls. "So, if we're looking at it that way, I'm more qualified than you to lead this 'mission,' since I actually know how to use a computer, and not just throw it across a room."

"You—" Ben looks angry. Which isn't new—he always looks angry. Stiles rolls his eyes.

"You're being too emotional, about this, Benny boy." He grins when Ben snarls at the nickname, keeps typing on his laptop. He's glad he got Miranda to sign him up for some coding classes, because at least it looks like he's doing something important. "I'm on your side, remember? Justin wants all of us dead just as much as you. So when I say a plan isn't a good idea—it's not a fucking good idea."

When Stiles wakes up (because, apparently, some time after the situation, the day had caught up with him, and he'd fallen asleep) the room is dark and empty, it's 3:43 am, he's drooling, and his head is resting on Derek's shoulder.

His back hurts too… oh wait, everything hurts.

Damn it.

He tries to get up, in hopes of, well, getting away from Derek, maybe get a drink of water--brush his teeth because his mouth tastes like stale fries—but a hand grips his wrist and stops him from moving.

He looks down to see that it's Derek's.

He looks up to see that Derek is staring at him.

His eyes are half-open and tired, his expression guarded, maybe a bit carefully blank, but his hand is gripping Stiles' wrist like he doesn't want to let go, and Stiles… well, Stiles is tired anyway.

He sinks back, his heartbeat loud even to his own ears. Derek has to know what he's doing. He's awake. He has to know what this means. What it's doing to Stiles. He knows it; he has to.

If he does… well, fuck.

If he doesn't… well, fuck.

"What are you doing?" he whispers, but Derek just pushes him until Stiles' head is resting on his thigh… which is covered with a pillow, oh my god. Stiles freezes, one leg still up in the air, an arm strewn haphazardly against the back of the sofa because this is… what is this? A declaration? A revelation? A… a something? Nothing at all?

"Sleep, Stiles." Derek sounds like he's grinning, damn it. Stiles can only see the underside of his jaw, and everything is tinted a dark blue with lots of shadow, but he's pretty sure Derek is grinning.

Stiles is frozen for a moment, but then the leg that's still in the air slowly comes down so that his ankle rests on the sofa's arm, and he brings his arm down too, fidgeting until the ache in his back is gone. This is… this is holy crap, Stiles knows what this is.

"I knew it," he whispers. "I knew you weren't that oblivious. No one can be that oblivious."

"Hmm." Derek's hand rests on his shoulder, and Stiles feels it open and close in some sort of aborted gesture.

Is Derek drunk or something? Is he asleep? Is this sleep walk—no, no it's not. This is real, and this is happening, and, fuck, Stiles is twenty-five, and if he makes an ass of himself, well… it's not like it'll be the first time.

"Hey," he says, still whispering, "this is—"

"Go to sleep, Stiles," Derek says, and his hand comes up to cover Stiles' eyes.

"I knew it," he whispers. His heart is still beating faster than normal. He should really try to calm down. Sally or Isaac or even Kari might hear it. And then Derek will clam up. Or he'll clam up. Or-

"No you didn't," Derek snorts, almost too low for him to hear—but he does hear it. "Go to sleep."

"Oh come on, this is huge!" Stiles tries to pry Derek's hand off of his face, but he can't get a good grip. He sighs after a couple of attempts, letting his hands fall to his sides, ignoring the way he can feel it when Derek huffs out a laugh.

"Sleep," Derek says.

Stiles could, in theory, make a thing out of this. Push himself up and demand Derek explain what it is, exactly, that he's doing. What he's thinking. What he's feeling. But even the thought of doing that… it just seems so exhausting right now.

Plus, if he demands they talk right now, Derek isn't going to let him use his lap as a pillow. And, Stiles isn't going to lie, he's comfortable right now.

So, instead of arguing, Stiles sighs, burrows down a little deeper in the cushions, and tries to stop thinking. It's hard, since Derek's hand is still covering his eyes, and he can feel the heat he's giving off, and he can't stop wondering if this is what he thinks it is.

It has to be.

It feels too right for it to not be anything but.

… actually, it feels a little too right. A little too easy. Stiles was expecting some sort of confrontation. A misunderstanding or two. A lack of communication. Maybe some denial, on his part, yeah, and on Derek's. But this just feels like they're slipping into something. Something easy and good and… nice. Something that's supposed to be there.

Huh. It's probably because they haven't actually talked yet. Come tomorrow, Stiles is going to put his foot in his mouth, and Derek is going to stare instead of using words, and—ugh, right. It's definitely not a good idea to talk about this tonight.

Yeah, right now it's a good idea just to go back to sleep. Or, at least, pretend to sleep.

"The nominees for best performance by an actor in a supporting role are—"

Oh god, oh god, oh god. Stiles can't think. He can't listen. He can't—he can't anything. He's nervous. He shouldn't be nervous; compared to the actors he's up against—Bale, Pacino, Redmayne, fucking Dicaprio—he has no chance. No fucking chance.

Okay, maybe a little bit of a fucking chance, but not enough for him to be nervous. He smiles half-assed, when the camera finds him as his name is announced, trying to look semi-calm and failing miserably because he's biting the nail off of his pointer finger.

"Stiles," his dad, sitting next to him, leans over and whispers, after the camera moves on, "you know either way—"

"No pep talks," he interrupts. "Not the time for pep talks—seriously, dad."

"And the Oscar for best supporting actor goes to…"

"Oh god, oh god, oh god." Stiles puts his hand over his face and slumps down in his seat. He knows he's supposed to be, you know, a cool actor, but right now he really doesn't give a shit. He's aware, yeah, that it's just a statue, that he's a good actor without it, that plenty of amazing actors—actors that blow him out of the water, talent wise—have yet to even be nominated. He's aware that he's young, the youngest of all the nominees, not to mention the one with the least experience, movie wise.

But still, fuck, does he want it. Stiles wants the recognition; wants the pride that will come along with it; the validation. He just…he wants it.

"And the Oscar goes to… Stiles Stilinski!"

"Oh my god," Stiles says as the audience claps and his dad pushes him out of his seat, "oh my god."

The second time Stiles wakes up, it's day, his face is smashed into Derek's stomach and his arms are around his torso, he can hear someone giggling—sounds like Erica—Derek's hand is in his hair, and he's pretty sure he's drooling. Again.

Damn it.

He sits up, grunting at the new aches and pains that were definitely not this bad yesterday, looks around to see that Sally is sitting with Kari at the kitchen counter with Isaac, and Erica is standing over him (them), holding up her phone.

"Is that recording?" Stiles asks. His voice is sleep-scratchy and his mouth tastes like something died in it—something greasy and full of trans fat—and he feels like someone tied him upside down and beat him with a stick (which, actually, isn't that far from the truth).

But, well, last night happened. It was real. And Derek, strangely enough, is still sleeping (or pretending to sleep), his head resting on the back of the sofa, tilted to the side, with his mouth slightly open. Stiles has no idea how he fell asleep sitting. The man has talent.

"I'm using you to get more twitter followers," Erica says, grinning at her phone's screen. Stiles looks past her at the clock to see that's it seven in the morning, and groans, flopping back down.

"Are you going to work today, or something?" he asks. "Is that why you're all up so fucking early?"

"There's a meeting," Isaac says from the kitchen, "at the school."

"I've got a 9 a.m. appointment," Erica says, "but then I'm free. Boyd is already at work. Scott—I'm pretty sure he has some sort of field trip at the clinic today. Allison's coming over, though, and so is Lydia."

Stiles groans. "Derek." He punches him—lightly, well, kind of lightly—in the stomach. "I know you're awake. Your beta just posted a picture of you on twitter. Shouldn't that call for punishment of some—"

Derek's hand covers his mouth this time, and he doesn't think about how hot that is, not one bit.

"Erica." Derek's voice is scratchy, too, and god, here we go, now it's time for Stiles to get aroused because of everything Derek does.

… again.

Damn it.

"Derek," Erica says. "I'll be back around three-ish. Scott's out today, so is Boyd. Allison, Isaac, and Lydia," --she pauses when Stiles raises his hand, points at himself--. "and Stiles are here today. What are we—"

"The Sheriff gave me the day off." Derek rubs at his face with his hands, and Stiles watches unashamedly.

He has a feeling he can, now?

"Oh, is that why you're doing the cuddling thing?" Erica gestures at both of them. Stiles feels Derek tense up.

"Dude, you tense up at that but not the fact that Erica just put a picture of us on twitter?" Stiles doesn't understand the look Derek gives him. Then he blinks, points at Erica. "Did you really? The picture, I mean—"

Erica grins. And that—that—is when Derek starts growling.

"Take it down," he says.

"No," Erica says, with that same shit-eating grin. "I'm late for work, anyway."

And then she's gone, and Stiles is groaning as he pushes himself to sit. Derek is glaring at the TV. Behind them, Isaac and Sally are talking about coffee.

Stiles feels like he needs to… say something. Anything. A joke. A witty comment. A… a something. But when he gets his phone from the coffee table and opens twitter, well, he doesn't feel like saying anything.

Because Erica is an evil, evil woman. And he's so relieved he wants to cry.

There is no picture. At least not online. She probably has it saved on her phone.

"There's no picture," he tells Derek, who sighs and shakes his head. Isaac and Sally laugh at them. Assholes.

"What's the plan today?" he asks after a moment of just letting that sink in. Because, fuck, if Erica had posted that picture? A media shitstorm, is what it would be.

"Get hard-drive," Derek grunts, "arrange meeting. Go from there."

"At least you're admitting you have no clue what's going to happen." Stiles twists until he hears his back crack, groans in relief. "I'm taking a fucking shower before we go. My breath tastes like something died."

"Smells like it, too." Derek grins at him.

"Yeah, well," Stiles grumbles as he stands, wincing at the pain, "someone wouldn't let me up off the couch last night."

He hobbles his way to the bathroom without waiting for a reply, but he can feel Derek glaring at him as he goes.

As he takes a shower, his thought process jumps between last night, the shifter predicament, the fascinating patterns the bruises on his stomach and torso make, last night, how warm Derek's hands are, whether or not he should call Miranda any time soon and maybe see if she has a script for him to read, and last night.

By the time he's dressed, he's come to a couple of conclusions. One, Derek is a man with feelings; strange, indecipherable, frustrating, weird, feelings, two, he really feels like doing a sci-fi for his next film, and three, if anyone pins him up against a wall today and starts punching, he's going to do something everyone will regret.

Then he walks out into the living room, and Derek is still sitting in the same place, eyes squinty, coffee mug in one hand and the pillow Stiles had slept on in the other, and he just gives up.

"Dude," he says, gesturing at the pillow. "Dude, really?"

Derek blinks up at him, then down at the pillow. He freezes, and then slowly lifts his hand up. Isaac and Sally, still talking in the kitchen, with Kari now seated on the counter (staring at him, of course), go silent.

"You," Stiles starts, rubs his hands, already exasperated, through his still-damp hair. "You're—this is what I was talking about."

Derek looks at him for a bit, head cocked to one side, his eyebrow raised and expression incredulous. "Now now, Stiles," he says, slow and carefully. "I'll be done in ten and we can go get the hard-drive."

Stiles is pretty sure Derek is stalling. Or in denial? Or he doesn't want Stiles to do anything. He wants it to stay like it is, with the touches and the scenting and nothing else. Maybe he—oh.

Maybe he doesn't want to have this conversation, because Stiles is… Stiles is… nope, he's got nothing.

Derek is just being his infuriating self, except this time, this time, Stiles knows the dude has feelings for him. If not lust, than extreme affection. Or, at least, he likes how Stiles smells.

That has to mean something when the dude's a werewolf. It has to. Scott says Allison's smell is addicting; Erica and Boyd try to sniff at each other whenever they think no one's looking.

So there's something there. But there's also something, aside from the Kate-killed-my-family problem, that's stopping him. That's holding him back from…doing whatever it is he wants to do to Stiles.

Stiles hopes it's something sexy. And nice. Sexy and nice.

Once you spend three hours hanging from the top floor of a skyscraper, you kind of get numb to the whole fear of falling thing.

Well, you also get physically, literally numb, but there's also just a general apathy towards your death being one tiny technical malfunction away.

"Mr. Stilinski," Jeff, the stunt coordinator, says in his ear-piece, "you ready for another take?"

"Stiles, dude, Stiles, no one calls me Mr. Stilinski," Stiles says. He adjusts himself, shaking out his numb limbs and slapping at his freezing cheeks—it gets cold at almost 1600 feet up in the air. "Yeah, I'm good."

It's kind of crazy, that the director allowed him to do this. That anyone allowed him to do this, actually. Well, dad doesn't know about it, yet. But still, normally they would refuse, say it's too dangerous, or legal wouldn't allow it, or it would be cheaper to just get the stunt dude to do it.

Stiles is glad he gets to do it, though, even if it does bring back memories he would rather forget. Memories that include harpies and claws and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's not gonna say he's doing it because he wants to get a feel for what Jason Todd is thinking; because he wants the stunts to come off as authentic. His desire to jump off a fucking skyscraper doesn't come from the thespian in him. Mostly it's just to prove to himself that he's still got that little bit of insanity that got him through his high school years alive.

He grabs the cable he's supposed to be holding—the one that Jason Todd uses to swing himself over the side of the roof—and rolls his shoulders out. He doesn't hear the director yell action as much as feel when the harnesses holding him start to loosen, and then he's flinging himself up against the side of the building, heart rate so fast it's a constant thrumming in his ears. He runs along the windows, pushing off where there's an X marked in tape, so fucking grateful that he has muscles now and can do this, even though getting those muscles was a goddamned pain in the ass.

The harness is so loose that when he lets go of the cable, he free-falls for ten seconds. He should be used to it by now—this is the 3 rd take—but he's not. His stomach rolls, his heart stops, he gets a very vivid picture of what he would look like splattered against the sidewalk 1600 feet below him. Then he remembers he's in a movie, he's an actor, that none of this is real, and by the time the harness catches him, he's calm enough that he can hear Jeff call cut.

"I can't believe it's in a safety deposit box." Stiles rubs at his temples. "She put it in a safety deposit box, Allison. I feel like I'm in a goddamned spy movie. Next thing you know we're going to be chased down by S.W.A.T or something."

"I think it's smart," Allison says. They're waiting for the bank teller—Samantha, Simone, Sophie, something—to bring them the actual box, because it's against bank policy for customers to go in the vault.

"It's cliché, is what it is," Stiles grumbles. Allison side-eyes him, about to say something, except the employee comes back to their little room with the box. Stiles waits until they're alone to open it.

"Erica sent me a picture this morning," Allison says as he pulls out the hard-drive. Man, he thought it would be bigger. Or sleeker. More dangerous. But no, it's a fucking thumb drive in the shape of a cow.

"Yeah?" Stiles hands it to Allison, who puts it in her purse.

"Yeah," Allison says, "it was kind of adorable."

"It's nothing," Stiles says. "Derek is being Derek, except with the touching. That's it. Old age has made him… touchier."

He walks out and gestures to the employee—Stefanie, that's it, her name's Stefanie—that they're done. She flirts with him before she takes the box back, and then they're walking out of the bank and to the Ferrari.

"It's not nothing," Allison says. She holds her hands up when he glares at her. "But I'm not saying anything. Just, talk to him. Eventually. Before you leave. Maybe… tell him you're coming back."

"My life," Stiles says, just as they're turning in to the police station, "is weird."

"Your life is weird?" Allison snorts. "I'm married to a werewolf, Stiles. That's weird."

"I'm best friends with a werewolf." Stiles does not like being bested. "I somehow stumbled into acting, and right now I'm juggling relationship problems—even though I'm not in a relationship-with being shoved into walls by angry Norwegian shifters, Allison."

"You love it." Allison grins when she gets out of the car, "you live for excitement. That's why you're a good actor."

"I'm a good actor because I'm nuts," Stiles says when he opens the station's front door.

"And you're easy on the eyes, that's always a plus," Allison says. "Oh, hey, Derek, I thought you were off today?"

Stiles raises an eyebrow at Allison at the same time Derek—who has just appeared from absolutely nowhere--does. "It's lunch time, Allison," he says, "no one's here. You don't need to act."

"There are a couple of people here," Derek says, probably just to disagree with him, then gestures for them to follow him. "This way."

"Is dad out, too?" Stiles asks while they wait for Derek to put in the code to get into the holding cells.

"He took most of the deputies out for lunch. So we could do this without being interrupted," Derek says. Stiles makes a face at him behind his back, and then they're standing in front of Arnie's cell. Arnie—fine, Arnold-is sitting on his cot, glaring at the wall opposite him, his hands fisted in his lap, his face a mess of black and blue and red.

"Dude," Stiles says. "I don't remember his face being that bad when I left."

Derek looks at him for a bit, shrugs, then turns back to the cell, his face turning hard and dangerous.

"We have what your boss wants," Derek says, at the same time Allison holds up the cow thumb drive. Stiles somehow thinks any and all attempts at intimidation are going to be failures, just because 'what the boss wants' is a cow-shaped thumb drive. "There are no duplicates. Call your friends, set up a meeting place, and my friend," He points at Stiles with his thumb. "will drop the charges, and you'll be a free man."

"It's not that easy," Arnold snarls.

"This makes it easier," Derek snarls back, louder. "Call them."

"Or" --Allison looks at the thumb drive in her hand--"we could just post this somewhere. I'm pretty sure Sally will know where it will do the most damage."

"You do that and you have the entire broderskap after you," Arnold says.

"And we don't already?" Stiles asks, because he's genuinely curious.

Arnold pauses for a moment, blinks. "No, you don't," he says, finally.

"This doesn't have to get violent," Stiles says, looking to Derek and Allison for… for something. Support, apparently, because when Allison smiles at him, he continues. "Can't we… come to some sort of compromise? One that doesn't involve hurting and or maiming anyone?"

"What, scared of a little violence?" Arnold sneers.

"Uh, no, I kicked your ass didn't I?" Stiles answers, eyes on where Derek is growing claws and where Allison's hand is sneaking towards her boot—Stiles suspects there's a knife in there somewhere. "I could have killed you, dude, but I didn't. And, I'm just gonna be honest here, if news gets out that Stiles Stilinski got jumped by some douchenozzle while on vacation, well, shit's gonna hit the fan, and werewolves aren't going to be your only problem."

"And if my boss," Arnold grits out, "gets word that one of his enforcers is rotting in a prison cell, shit's definitely going to hit the fan."

"Listen, fucker—"

"I'll call," Arnold interrupts, standing.

"Good choice," Derek says, then fishes out a cell phone from his pocket—not his, probably a throwaway—and holds it out.

"You're letting me out, then, after?" Arnold grabs the phone and dials a number.

"After," Derek says, folding his arms over his chest.

"Amy," Arnold says, maybe five seconds later. There's a pause, then, "yeah, I'm alive." Then he starts speaking in what Stiles guesses is angry Norwegian.

Stiles is sweating. Not because he's doing anything that would, normally, constitute the need to sweat. No, it's because he's in the same room with Brad Pitt. Fuck, he's in the same movie as Brad Pitt. And George fucking Clooney. And Patrick fucking Stewart. And… and, oh god now he's hyperventilating.

He stands up from his chair—the chair that has his fucking name on it—and swings his arms around. Stiles knows it's only a matter of time before he embarrasses himself by either quoting Fight Club to Brad or Star Trek to Patrick or ER to George. He just hopes that it's not today.

"Mr. Stilinski." Barbara, the director's assistant, grips his shoulder. He hadn't even heard her walk over. "You okay?"

"Huh? Me?" Stiles waves the question away with a snort. "I'm cool, just, you know, preparing. To act out a mental breakdown. In front of… people. No biggy, really."

"Stiles." Barbara grins. "This is the same scene you auditioned with, trust me, you've got this."

"I've got this?" Stiles asks.

"You've got this," Barbara says.

Chapter Text

"You said you would drop the charges." Arnold—Ducky, Stiles is going to call him Ducky—grips at the bars of his cell, bruised and battered face contorted in anger.

"After," Derek says, and his grin is predatory, "we take care of your friends."

"They're not going to talk if I'm not there," Ducky snarls.

"Well, fuck," Stile says as he walks towards the door and punches in the code to open it, "our plans are ruined, Derek, what are we going to do? I guess we should just let Ducky out and give up, right?"

"You're free to go as soon as we finish this deal," Derek says, ignoring Stiles as he walks past him.

It had taken Ducky (hah, Ducky, it's a cute nickname) twenty minutes of yelling and gesticulating and pacing his cell to convince his fellow mob-mates to agree to a 'meeting.' Allison, ten minutes into it, had gotten bored and whispered to Stiles that she was going to wait outside in the car.

Which is where she is right now, sitting in the driver's seat, smiling at Stiles hopefully and tapping her fingers on the wheel.

"Subtle, Allison," Stiles says when she rolls the window down. Next to him, Derek snorts.

"Did you guys get a meeting?" she asks.

"Yeah, tomorrow at three," he says.

"…that's really--" Allison blinks. "So we have, like, an appointment?"

"Exactly," Stiles says, "an appointment." He turns to Derek. "Are we meeting you back at Isaac's, or…?"

Derek looks at him for a bit. "Yes," he says. "I'll be right behind you."

"That--" Stiles clears his throat, looks away, because now is not the time for innuendos. "Allison, you're driving?"

"I can?" Allison's hands grip the steering wheel as she smiles. Thankfully she's completely ignorant of what is happening in Stiles' brain… and his jeans. He chances a glance at Derek to see that he's… not. He's not ignorant, that is, if the way he's glaring is any indication.

"Well, I mean, I'd kind of feel like an ass if I made you move over, so…" Stiles walks around—away from Derek--and gets in the passenger's seat. "Just don't tell Scott."

"Wait for me before you pull out," Derek says. Stiles covers his face with his hand and shakes his head. If only, he thinks. If only. "Of the parking lot. Before you pull out of the parking lot."

"Oh no." Allison turns red. "That was not—that. Stiles."

"I know, Allison, I know," he says. "Just drive."

"You two are aggravating," she says, but then she turns the car on, and makes a delighted sound when the engine purrs. "Oh, wow."

"I recognize this," Stiles says, "and yet I find myself not caring."

"You care," she says, then coos as she starts driving. Behind them, Derek's Camaro rumbles. "Or else you wouldn't be reading into everything Derek says and turning it into an innuendo."

"My thinking is that if I keep shoving it in his face—metaphorically, of course—he won't be able to ignore it anymore. That way I won't actually have to say anything." He leans back in his seat, fiddling with his seatbelt strap.

"He's not ignoring it." Allison turns onto the main street. "He's being Derek. You should be Stiles."

"I am Stiles?" he says.

"Upfront, take no prisoners, in your face, Stiles," she says, glancing at him. When he continues looking at her, confused, she actually growls. "I can't believe I'm saying this. God. Just… grab his stupid face, Stiles, and kiss him until he stops with the woe-is-me crap. This wishy-washy shit isn't you."

"… You know he can probably hear us, right?" Stiles asks, after his brain processes what she's saying, and then remembers that werewolves can get noisy.

Allison blinks, looks in the rearview mirror, and then starts laughing. "Oh man," she snickers, "his face."

She's still laughing, five minutes later, when the SUV—black, suspiciously familiar—runs a red light at the intersection. Stiles sees it, out of the corner of his eye, has time to start forming the word 'fuck,' and then it's slamming into the passenger side—his side—and the car is spinning out of control. Allison is screaming, his everything is hurting, there's a lot of blood and yelling and the banshee screeches of metal against metal. His head jerks forward, he's pretty sure, slams into something hard and unforgiving. He hears glass shatter, and then everything is black.

"I did… I did everything for you." Stiles' heart is beating fast. He thinks it's probably because he's standing toe to toe with Brad Pitt, screaming in his face, finger pointed accusingly. There's probably some spit involved too, and not in a good way. "to make you proud, you bastard, to make you fucking recognize me, and you—" He takes a couple of steps away, towards the arched window, and brings both hands up to run through his hair. Behind him, Brad is silent, holding a small plate with half a piece of Chantilly cake on it. "You gave it all away. Every cent. Every fucking cent."

"Yeah," Brad says. He takes a bite of cake. "I did."

"Yeah, you did" --Stiles' voice cracks-- "you fucking did."

"You didn't need it, Jack," Brad says with a shrug, mouth full of cake. "You won't need it."

"Because I already have enough, right?" Stiles turns around, works the muscles in his jaw. "Did you ever think it wasn't about that, dad? Did you ever think that, maybe, I just wanted you to…" His character, Jack, isn't the type to flail. He's New England rich, uptight, and kind of a huge asshole. A huge, self-loathing asshole. So, instead of flailing, which is Stiles wants to do, he fists his hands at his sides and just… looks. He thinks of sad things—the usual suspects—and his eyes start to tear up. "Give me something. Anything."

"Why?" Brad eats the last bit of Chantilly and sets the plate down with a clatter on what is supposed to be an 18th century secretary desk. Stiles doesn't actually know if it's the real thing or a prop. "So poor little Jack could feel loved? Did daddy not pay enough attention to you?"

Stiles snorts. "Fuck you," he says. "Just… fuck you."

"Stiles, Stiles, open your fucking eyes or I swear—" Warm hands are cradling his head. Everything else is… woozy, but he can feel warm hands cradling his head. He hears sirens, so, okay, the car thing had actually happened. Which means he's still alive, which is nice.

But that also means he's woozy because he's injured, and that—that's not so nice. Now that he's paying attention, everywhere aches. Some places sting, but he can't tell where the aches end and the stings begin.

It's kind of hilarious, actually. Hilariously cliché, that is, that they tried to kill them. He's pretty sure that's what it was and not just some random person running a red light. Coincidences don't fucking happen like that. He remembers a black SUV, he remembers Allison screaming, he remembers gasping for air, pain, he remembers all that, so it's not just shock that's making him think it was the shifters that did this.

It was obviously the shifters.

"Sir," an unfamiliar voice says, clear and authoritative, "are you coming in the ambulance with him, or?"


Oh, that's Derek. Which means that Derek was the one that told him to open his eyes. He groans, tries to bring his arm up to wipe at his face, but finds that he can't. Not because it's held down by anything. He just… can't.

"Derek," he groans, although his mouth is cottony and it comes out sounding like 'Drk.'

"Stiles, can you go a fucking day without being injured?" Derek says. He laughs at that, which is a horrible idea, because fucking ow, and opens his eyes—his eyelids are crusted with something that smells like iron and makes his skin itchy—to see Derek standing over him. Now that his eyes are open, and he's squinting in the harsh light—or day light, but right now it's fucking harsh—he realizes that his head really really hurts.

"Fuck you," he manages, despite the pain. "Allison?"

"On the way to the hospital, Mr. Stilinski," The other voice—the paramedic—says. He nods, looks around to see that he's on a gurney, being wheeled into an ambulance. He can't see his Ferrari, and he can't turn his head because they have him in one of those neck-braces, but he's pretty sure it's not in good shape. There are people watching, some of them with camera phones. At least there are no paparazzi.

Miranda's probably going to see this online.


"Who hit us?" he asks. He knows who hit him; he just wants to know if they stayed around afterwards.

"It was a hit and run," Derek snarls.

"Fuck." Stiles wants to snarls, too, but his voice isn't cooperating with him. He can't really read into what that means, or, no, he can, but he doesn't want to, because thinking? It hurts.

He watches Derek watching him for the rest of the ride, because it's not like they can say anything in front of the paramedic, and, also, with the thinking and the hurting and the general wooziness.

He probably has a concussion.

Strange, that he's never had a concussion before, what with him being involved in the supernatural and all. He didn't even get a concussion back when Peter had tried to rip his heart out.

"Did you call dad?" He remembers to ask, just as they're pulling in to the hospital.

"Yes," Derek says, "he said he'd be at the hospital."

"Are you staying?" he asks as the ambulance comes to a stop. Derek looks down at him.

"What do you think?" he asks, sounding exasperated.

"God, don't answer a question with a question, Derek," Stiles groans. "Especially when a dude's in some serious pain, here."

The ambulance doors are pulled open, and he's pulled out and pushed towards the hospital doors. He doesn't even get to a bed before Melissa McCall is at his side.

"Yo, Miss McCall," he croaks. "Long time no see."

"We saw each other two weeks ago, Stiles."

"Okay," Stiles says because… well, what do you say to that? Really, he's at a loss, here.

He watches, kind of interested, kind of not, as they poke and prod and ask him questions, all of the nurses and doctors very serious and moving a tad bit too fast, his attention more on the horrid overhead lights that are killing his eyes than them as they do… whatever it is they're doing to him.

He should probably be paying attention, right? Committing every word they're saying to memory and over-analyzing it? Bemoaning his injuries and having some sort of mental breakdown? He doesn't want to, though.

He just wants to sleep.

Every time he closes his eyes, though, they wake him back up. With the poking, and the prodding, and the lights. For fuck's sake the fucking lights.

Which sucks. It sucks like the scratches on the right side of his face and his arm, like the gash in his forehead, his shoulder, and side that some nurse named Kiera is stitching up, like the bruises that are now everywhere.

He's lucky, though. He could've been killed. He could've died.

Those fuckers could've killed him.

They did kill his Ferarri. Okay, well, probably temporarily maimed it. But fuck those repairs are going to be expensive and—


And he's guessing this means they aren't going to be compromising any more. He's, not surprisingly at all, fine with that.

"Stiles." his dad pulls open the curtain, not even a minute after they've finished with him, and looks down at where he's propped up in the bed, staring at nothing. "You're okay?"

"Peachy," Stiles says. He grins at Miss McCall when she appears. "When can I go home? Where are the others? Please tell me someone was able to find something—"

"They're in the waiting room," Melissa says, leaning over him and peering at the stitches on his clavicle. "You'll be free to go in a little while, and—"

"—they abandoned the car a block away from the station." Derek appears behind Melissa.

"They took the thumb drive.

Stiles blinks "How? There were people around…"

Oh, shifters.


He clears his throat. "Allison?" he asks.

"Some scratches, bruises, a sprained wrist," Melissa says. She straightens, glares down at him. "You two were so lucky, Stiles. So lucky."

"Cool," Stiles says. He looks down to see that he's holding his dad's hand, his arm shaking. Or is it his dad's that's shaking? "I'm okay, dad."

"Yes you are, son," His dad says after a bit, soft and gruff. He sighs, using his free hand to wipe at his face. "There are a couple of deputies here, and I need to—"

"Go." Stiles lets go, makes a shooing motion. "Derek's gonna stay here anyway. He's got that look in his eyes."

Melissa snorts.

"Do I want to know?" The sheriff asks, looking to where Derek is staring, squinty-eyed, at the floor.

"Nope," Stiles says, pushing himself to sit a little straighter. He grins until Melissa and dad are gone, probably to check on Allison—wherever she is—before doing something that's probably important and official.

Stiles looks at Derek. At where his arms are crossed across his chest and where he's glaring at the floor like its existence personally offends him, at where his jaw muscles are clenching, at where his eyebrows are furrowed. At where his foot is twitching nervously.

God damn it. Just… fuck it. Fuck this bullshit wishy wash crap.

"You're hot," Stiles says, then backtracks, because of course the first thing he does is put his foot in his mouth. "No, that's not-damn it. You know that. Everyone knows that. You're… you're nice. And you're… you. You're… Derek."

Stiles hates talking about… feelings. He especially hates talking about feelings when he's medicated and in pain. He really wishes he could just jump the dude and let it be over, but jumping Derek would probably do the opposite of what he wanted it to do.

There's also the little detail of the jumping itself being physically impossible at the moment.

"I--" Stiles rubs at his forehead, careful to avoid the stitches. "God do you know what you're doing to me? With the touching? And the… just the general you being you?"

"Stiles, we don't have to do this right now." Derek's face looks pained. Even more so than before Stiles had started talking.

"Oh, we do," Stiles says with a glare, "because apparently you're a goddamned 5th grade boy."


"I know werewo—you, I know your family likes to… touch." He clears his throat. "Cuddle, but, I mean, I'm huma-me. And, and you have to know what it does when you do that. You have to sme—know it."

"I don't think anyone's listening, you can use the actual words," Derek grumbles, mouth upturned in a half-smile, taking a step towards the bed. Stiles growls at him.

"I know werewolves," he starts again, in a low, pain-induced hiss, "touch a lot. And I know you can smell what it does to me when you do that. So, if you don't want anything, if you're touching me and acting like… this because of some sort of pack thing, I need you to stop." He takes a deep breath, picks at the scratchy blanket they covered him with while he lets that sink in.


"But," he interrupts, "but if you want something, and only if you want something, this is me saying hell yes, please, muy bien, great, fantastico, continue and proceed with what you are doing, and stop treating me like a fucking—"

"You're leaving in three weeks," Derek interrupts, voice still low. "You live in LA."

Stiles blinks. "So you want—"

"Yes." Derek leans in towards him, eyes narrowed, voice sounding a little… angry. Well, fuck him. Stiles is angry too. "Yes I want. For fuck's sake, Stiles, how oblivious—"

"Oh no, you're not turning it around on me, douchewolf, that is so blaming the victim-"

"You're an actor, did you ever think how difficult it would be to have a werewolf as a—"

"Woah, so you're thinking long-term, huh?" Stiles leans back in his bed, unable to keep the grin off his face. Suddenly, he's positively fucking giddy.

"I'm just—"

"I want it." Stiles grabs at Derek arm, since he's close enough now that Stiles can do that without hurting himself. "I think it would be good. I think it would be awesome. This isn't… this isn't the meds or the pain or the shock talking."

"Stiles." Derek's voice is raw, and ugh does it do things to Stiles.

"Can we try?" he asks, unable to look at Derek in the eye. The pain is catching up with him now; the shock. His voice cracks, and he clears his throat before he continues. "And maybe stop with the feelings talk? Just for now. I kind of have a headache. Later we can braid each other's hair and talk, but right now-"

"--Are you guilting me into shutting up?"

"I'm guilting you into shutting up, yes" Stiles scrunches his nose up, then stops when that pulls his stitches, and rests his head against the pillow, closing his eyes against the harsh light. Keeping his eyes open is…painful.

He wonders if he could get one of the nurses to give him some more meds.

"Okay," Derek says, a couple of minutes later.

"Huh?" Stiles asks, opening his eyes. His hand is still on Derek's arm, and Derek is looking down at him with that half smile that makes Stiles' stomach roll. In a good way, that is.


"Seriously what."

Derek just looks at him, eyebrows raised in exasperation. Or expectation. Or a combination of both. And then Stiles gets it.

"Oh," he says. "oh." He grins, even though it pulls at his stitches and makes his bruises—of which there are, apparently, plenty—twinge. "Awesome. Nothing like mortal peril to jump start confessions of undying lo—"

"I take it ba—"

"Impossible." Stiles pulls at Derek's arm until his hand covers Stiles' eyes. "No takebacks."

"You know you can ask to be moved to a private room," Derek says. "You can turn the lights off in those."

"Hopefully," Stiles grumbles. "I'm out of here in an hour. I don't want a room; I want to go home."

"Oh, is that why you're acting like a —"

"Shut up," Stiles says.

"I can take some of the pain," Derek says, voice soft. "if you need me to."

"That…" Stiles cracks one eye open and grins up at him. "If I didn't look and feel like crap right now I would probably kiss you, dude, but please, yes."

Instead of doing that, though, Derek just stares at him. And stares, and then he's staring at Stiles with his face much closer than it was before.

"You smell horrible, too," Derek says, so close that his breath warms Stiles' jaw. "Like antiseptic and blood."

"Wow, thank you," Stiles brings his arm up to rest at the base of Derek's neck, runs his fingers through his hair. Yup, soft. Softer, actually, than he had expected. Stiles had done a lot of thinking about Derek's hair over the years. Too much, maybe, considering… considering a lot of things. "So are you going to—"

And then Derek kisses him.

As kisses go, it's not the best, because Stiles' face hurts (his everything hurts, but since the kissing is going on solely in the face area, that's all he's concerned about right now) and Derek is being almost too gentle. He's holding himself back, and his lips are a barely there pressure against Stiles'.

But then again, it's a kiss. With a dude he likes. More than likes, actually.

So it's fucking perfect, and fuck anyone who says otherwise.

"Stiles," Scott greets as soon as he presses the accept call button. "You're supposed to tell me when you're in a magazine."

"Huh?" Stiles takes a sip of his chai latte, idly watching a couple across the street fighting about… something. The guy is flailing a lot and the girl is looking at him with a sardonic 'oh really' expression. It's all very fascinating.

There's a paparazzo taking pictures of him from behind a yellow car, and half the coffee shop is trying to sneak surreptitious glances at him, but he's not really bothered enough to move. Plus, whenever he goes out in public now, he brings along a sign with the url for the save the wolves foundation on it, so he figures his slight discomfort is good for something.

"You're in Vogue, dude, seriously, and there's like, a half-naked lady, and a half-naked dude, and, they're all over you, and just… dude. Allison freaked out when she saw it."

"Crap," Stiles says. He pushes his sunglasses higher up on his nose and watches as the girl across the street shoves a phone in the guy's face. Stiles is assuming there are questionable pictures on it or something. Evidence of the dudes' wrongdoings, probably.

"Yeah, crap, Derek nearly choked when he—"

"Derek saw it?" Stiles keeps his voice calm, although he's glad Scott isn't in LA, because he can't do anything to hide how red his face is.

The Vogue photo shoot had been… revealing.

Like really fucking revealing.

Like he was wearing a pair of wet, too-tight leather pants, and that's it. Well, that and a lot of body paint made to look like oil.

the photographer had a vision, and apparently that vision involved Stiles, a male model, a female model, an abandoned gas station in the desert, lots of smoldering glares, and a decided lack of clothing.

"We were at Safeway, it was in the checkout line, and now Allison keeps leaving it open and I can't, Stiles, I can't."

"I know, it's hard having to look at my beautiful bod, dude," Stiles sighs.

"Not cool, Stiles," Scott whines.

"I know, I know," Stiles grins. "So, how's the hellhole? Any happenings recently?"

"It's not a hellhole, anymore, Stiles!"

"Miranda," Stiles says.

"—and I swear, I know a guy, Stiles, and, yeah, he may have a few sketchy connections, but—"

"Miranda," Stiles tries again.

"—but he has a 90 percent success rate. He'll find that fucker, and then we'll sue them for everything—"

"Miranda," Stiles sighs, rubbing his temple with his free hand. Sitting across from him at the kitchen table, Derek is trying hard not to laugh. He's failing, of course, because he finds Stiles' life hilarious or something.

"—and I mean everything they fucking have. They won't be able to afford to fucking breathe when we're done with them, and—"

"Oh my god, Miranda!"

"What!?" Miranda hisses, like she just hadn't been on one of her tirades.

"My dad is the sheriff," he reminds her. "He's going to find whoever hit my car."


"You just concentrate--" He makes his voice as conciliatory as possible. "--on the press. I really don't need a lot of people up here, Miranda."

Fuck, the last thing he needs are paparazzi herds.

"I'm not sure how I'm going to stop the leeches from going up there, Stiles."

He pauses, then clears his throat, loudly, and when he talks again, his voice is weak and soft. "I just… I've got a concussion, and my dad is really worried about me. And my face, Miranda, it looks like someone slashed it and then banged it into the wall a couple of ti—"

"I've seen the pictures. They're everywhere." Miranda's voice is softer, though, and then she sighs. "I'll get Joan to call a couple of people, ask for a couple of favors, but there are still going to be some assholes wanting pictures of you—"

"I love you." He leans back in the chair he's sitting in.

"Of course you do, you have me wrapped around your fucking finger," Miranda grouches. "I'm assuming you'll be staying there to recover?"

"Yeah," he says. "Are you going to send me a couple of scripts any time soon?"

"No, nope," Miranda interrupts. "I'm not. I'll call you after I talk to Joan, Stiles."

"Thanks, Miranda," he says. She grunts, then hangs up, and Stiles tilts his head back to stare at the ceiling.

He's sitting at Derek's kitchen table. It's a nice table. Made of heavy wood that's dark and shiny. The horrid candle centerpiece is where it was when Stiles had been here last… which was, what? A week ago, maybe.

He doesn't remember why, last night, instead of taking him back to Isaac's, Derek had brought him here. He's pretty sure Derek told him, but his head is still a bit fuzzy.

"Are the others still out looking for the shifters?" he asks, even though he really doesn't want to know. Boyd and Erica had started looking before he had even been discharged, their expressions hard and determined. Scott and Isaac had joined them a little later, and Allison and Lydia had gone back to watch Sally and Kari.

And he had come here with dad and Derek, been brought to Derek's guest bedroom, deposited in the bed, and…yeah, that's it. That's all that happened. Or all that he remembers happening.

"We know where they're staying," Derek says. "We've known where they're staying. We just need to…"

"Kick their asses?" Stiles offers. "Key their cars? Destroy all that they love?"

"Eventually, yes," Derek says.

"Cool." Stiles looks around, then back at Derek. "Are you on babysitting duty?"

"No, Allison and Lydia are babysitting," Derek says. "I'm watching you. It's harder."

"So fucking witty," Stiles snarls, wincing when the movement pulls at the stitches on his forehead.

He had gotten a good look at himself in the mirror last night, and the right half of his face is black and blue and swollen. Actually, the right half of his body is pretty much all black and blue and swollen.

He is so fucking lucky. That's not sarcasm. He's fucking lucky to be alive. His dad has been called to enough accidents to know just how fucking lucky he is.

"I'm here all day," Derek says.

"It's two in the afternoon, that's not much of an achievement," Stiles says, just to be bitchy.

"Unlike you," Derek says. "I've been awake all day."

"Huh." Stiles narrows his eyes. "You've got bags under your eyes. You should probably have slept more."

"I'm fine," Derek says, taking a sip of his coffee. Stiles stares, eyebrows raised for a moment, then leans forward to rest his elbows on the table.

"… you didn't sleep last night," Stiles says. Derek looks down at the table, then seems to find his coffee fascinating. "You're drinking coffee in the afternoon; you never drink coffee in the afternoon."

"Sometimes I do," Derek grunts.

"Yeah, when you haven't slept." Stiles sighs, scratches at the stitches on his forehead. "Come on, dude. You've gotta sleep. Unless they're gonna attack the house, which, are they? Because you brought me here, so…"

"If they attack the house they're dead," Derek says, eyes flashing as he looks out the window.

"So, it's a… possibility?"

"Not a big one." Derek runs his hands over his face. "I wouldn't have brought you here if it was, remember?"

"No," Stiles says. "My memory of yesterday is murky, at best."

Derek looks up at him, eyes narrowed, and Stiles has to grin.

"Except for that part," he says, kicking at Derek's leg with his good foot.

"Fuck you," Derek says, half-heartedly.

"Why did you bring me here, anyway?" Stiles asks. "I know you told me, but I can't remember."

"… I thought it would be better," Derek shrugs. "I have a guest room, no babies. You're out of the way if Sally and Kari need to move quick—"

"Bullshit," Stiles says, after a bit. Derek isn't meeting his eyes, and his hands are rubbing the coffee mug in erratic, nervous motions. And… and maybe Stiles wants it to be bullshit, just a little. "you want me here."

It really is nice, to be able to just… say things. Not over-think or analyze or worry about what-ifs. Well, not that he's not still over-analyzing things; that's what Stiles does.

"You're an idiot," Derek says. He doesn't deny it though, and that, just that, has Stiles' heart rate going a little faster, has the smile on his face getting a little wider.

"Yeah, yeah I am," he says.

"Do you remember this?" Jason - Stiles - holds up the crowbar in his hand. On the floor, the Joker (or, well, John, the actor playing the Joker) raises an eyebrow, seemingly unimpressed.

"Can't say that I do, Mr. Hood," he hisses.

Stiles crouches down, sets the crowbar on his knees, and unclasps his mask, setting it carefully on the ground next to him. He smirks as the Joker's expression falters.

"You should," he says, "you killed me, remember?" He stands and walks a little ways away, going for nonchalant. "Beat me with a crowbar? Blew me to little bitty bits?"

"Or so I thought," the Joker says, smile back in place. Jason shrugs.

"Or so you thought," he agrees.

The Joker pushes himself to his feet, rubbing at where Jason's foot had been on his stomach, holding hi down. Stiles, just to make sure he remembers, runs the choreography through his head one more time. He's supposed to take two steps away, and then the Joker will attack (which is what Jason wanted in the first place). Then he's going to dodge to the left, bring the crowbar up, and start hitting.

They had gone over this scene a couple of times before starting the filming, just to get the choreography right, so Stiles is pretty sure he's got it.

The Joker attacks, and, Stiles dodges. He loves that the director prefers long takes and minimal editing. Well, as minimal as you can get with a super-hero movie. Or anti-hero. Yeah, Jason is definitely an anti-hero.

He brings the crowbar up, and starts swinging. The difficult thing about using props in fight scenes is making it look like the weapon is actually connecting with something. He's pretty sure he's got the hang of it by now, and when it actually does hit John's chest a couple of times, well, John had already said that was fine.

Thirty seconds and maybe fifty hits in, Stiles stops, takes a step back as the Joker falls backwards (on a blue mat, to be edited out). He grins, and nudges his mask out of the way with his boot. It makes a scraping sound against the concrete.

"Get up," he says. "I'm not done."

"You forgot to do the eye thing," Stiles says, eyes on the YouTube video he's watching on his laptop. The one that shows Derek pulling him out of his Ferarri. He's sitting on Derek's sofa, because yeah, he's injured, but not enough that he's going to drive himself crazy by sleeping in bed the whole day. As it is, he's going crazy not knowing what's happening. No one has called them yet—no one has even fucking come over to check up on him. He suspects Derek has something to do with that. And maybe a little part of him is grateful for it.

Derek is sitting next to him, eyes on his own laptop, where he's probably trying to memorize the eight shifter profiles Sally had managed to get them. Stiles doesn't know for sure, though. Whenever he asks, Derek just grunts.

In the video, Derek's face is obscured—over his eyes is a bright, white bar of static—but the way he crouches over Stiles, the way Stiles can see Derek's mouth forming his name, fast and urgent, while his hands cradle his head. The way Stiles can see his own unconscious body, his face and torso bloody and limp, and none of it fake… well, it's kind of… horrible, actually.

"The what?" Derek looks over, blinks when he sees the video, then grunts. "Why are you watching that?"

"It was inevitable." Stiles watches as, on-screen, Derek keeps trying to wake him up. Allison, in the background, is crying, talking to someone on her phone. Probably Scott. There's a nasty bruise already forming on her cheekbone.

"You really don't need to watch it," Derek says. "It's not like—"

"Sorry"--Stiles nudges Derek's side with his elbow-- "for making you worry."

Derek stops, looks at the video, than at him. When he nods, his eyes are a little wider and his jaw is clenched.

"You shouldn't have been hurt," Derek finally says.

"I was fuckin' lucky." Stiles watches as the cops arrive, then the ambulances.

"Yeah," Derek says, "you were."

"Do you know how they got the thumb drive?"

"Shifted, probably, into something small," Derek says with a shrug. "Allison's purse was still in the car before she asked one of the paramedics to get it for her, so—"

"Fuckers," Stiles says. Derek leans closer, turning his head to rest his forehead on Stiles' shoulder. He breathes in deep.

"Fuckers," he agrees.

Stiles is frozen for maybe three seconds, but then he lets himself relax, sinking back into the cushions. He lets out a sigh and stares at the ceiling, trying hard—really hard—not to fidget.

"I should probably put an update or something on twitter," Stiles says, more to himself than to Derek. "Miranda says Kelly—my PA—has been e-mailing me since yesterday. And my phone's inbox is full, I should get to those. Text back a few people."

"Sure." Derek huffs out a soft laugh. "You do that."

"Blegh," Stiles says. "It can wait a day or two."

"You still stink," Derek says, sniffing, just as Stiles has gotten really comfy.

"Then get off me?" Stiles says. "Or, you know, stop sniffing me?"

"I don't need a heightened sense of smell to know you stink." Derek straightens.

"Dude, give me a break. Showers are kind of difficult right now. Just, like, breathe through your mouth or some—"

Derek's phone rings, and he leans forward to grab it from the coffee table.

"Scott," Derek says. Stiles can hear Scott talking, his voice pitched low and urgent. Stiles watches as Derek's face gets pinched and unhappy

"He's fine," Derek says, after a pause. "Tell Isaac to keep Sally there."

Another pause.

"No, tell her no."

Stiles watches as Derek rubs at his temples with his free hand.

"Fine," he says. "We wait." He ends the call, after that, and Stiles looks at him with raised eyebrows.

"Drama?" Stiles asks.

"Erica and Isaac had a run in with two of the shifters. Erica's got a broken arm; Isaac's got a couple of gashes," he says, getting up to pace.

"You should go check on them," Stiles says. "And did they—"

"No, the shifters got away. Sally's still safe."

"At this point, is it really about Sally anymore?" Stiles snorts. He closes his laptop and sets it on the coffee table. Standing is a slow process, but it's not as horrible as he was expecting.

"No," Derek stops, looks back at him. "It's not."

"Is that a declaration or something? Are you declaring your undying lurve for me?" Stiles jokes, already walking towards the stairs.

"Shut up," Derek says. "I'm not leaving. There's no point. Where are you going?"

"No point? Dude, what happened to Derek 'act first talk later' Hale?" Stiles starts going up the stairs, slowly. "I'm taking a shower, what do you think?"

"Do you need—" Derek starts, then stops. Stiles turns back to see his eyes wide and his lips pursed in what can only be described as embarrassment.

"Are you offering?" He takes another step, starts laughing as Derek scowls. "Oh man, your face dude, it's just—" He pauses to take a breath, rubbing at the stitches on his side. "It's a nice face."

"Fuck off." Derek follows him anyway, walking behind him until he gets to the bathroom. "And leave the door open."

"Just in case you want a piece of this ass?" Stiles asks… maybe a little more hopefully than he had originally intended. What? He's pretty sure they could get away with, at least, a mutual handjob before he has to sit down.

Actually, that sounds awesome. Derek all wet; the shower all steamy. Everything glistening muscles and slick skin and—woops, that's a dick twitch.

"No," Derek scowls at him again. Stiles pouts as theatrically as possible, turns to go, except Derek puts a hand on his arm to stop him. "Not… not right now."

"Not now?" Stiles blinks when he gets it, and maybe turns a little red, much to his own chagrin. Fuck, he can act out an emotional breakdown without breaking character, he can have an on-screen sex scene with Jennifer Lawrence, he can fucking do photo-shoots with models groping very sensitive parts of him, but one mention of anything sexual from Derek? Yup, it's blushing time. "… oh. That's… that's nice of you."

"Nice?" Derek takes a step back, rubbing at the bridge of his nose. "God, you're weird."

"Yeah, well, apparently you're into weird," Stiles snarks, with maybe a little more vitriol than he meant to. He walks into the bathroom, turns the lights on, and closes the door, making a face at his reflection in the mirror. His bruises seem to have gotten worse in the hour or two it's been since he last looked at them.

He starts trying to slip out of the t-shirt Scott had helped him into back at the hospital, only to get caught with one arm pinned against his chest and the other over his head, completely blind and the t-shirt fabric rubbing up against the stitches on his forehead.

"Derek," he grunts, turning towards the door when it opens. He hears Derek snort, and gives him the middle finger, even as hands pull at the shirt until he's free. He glances at the mirror, wincing at the bruises on his torso and the angry red of the stitches.

There's silence as he runs his fingers over the stitches on his clavicle. They're tender to the touch and he remembers one of the nurses — maybe it was Melissa - telling him not to get them wet for 48 hours. It's been, what, a little more than 24? He figures it's all relative. And he'll keep the water flow light.

"Do you" --He turns when Derek gestures at him-- "need me to take the pain away?"

Stiles grins, remembering what had happened last time Derek had offered the same thing, even though it hurts his face. He takes the two steps he needs to be standing in toe to toe with Derek, sticks his hands in his pockets.

"Sure," he says, making his face neutral, "purely for pragmatic reasons." He gestures behind him, towards the shower, then just stands there, looking at Derek, waiting.

Because Stiles is persistent, and he's kind of getting a kick out of the way Derek is looking down at his bare chest, his hands clenching and unclenching, frozen in front of him like he doesn't know where to touch. Maybe it's because he's bruised everywhere, yeah, but Stiles wants to believe that he's hesitant about touching him because he doesn't know if he'll be able to stop if he starts.

Derek's hand rests on his shoulder, his thumb over the stitches there. The other comes up to rest on his neck, and Stiles leans forward, closing his eyes, as the pain—it's not really pain, more like a constant throbbing, a constant annoyance—starts ebbing away.

He maybe moans in appreciation once or twice, maybe brings his hands up to grip at the sides of Derek's t-shirt, maybe takes another step until his head is resting on Derek's collar-bone. Okay, not maybe. He does.

"Werewolf voodoo is awesome," he croaks when he feels Derek's hand move, raises his head to rub at his eyes. Derek is looking at him, one eyebrow raised. It's a little awkward now; the closeness. It wouldn't be awkward if, say, they were going to kiss. But all they're doing is looking at each other, and—

Oh damn it, fine.

Stiles leans forward, his lips over Derek's, kissing but not really kissing, waiting for Derek to figure out if he's okay with this or not. There's a pause, a beat, maybe a couple of inhales and exhales, and then Derek sighs (it's not an oh yes sigh it's an oh fine whatever I guess I asked for this sigh), and leans forward, tilting his head to the side and pressing his lips to Stiles'. His hands skim, up from Stiles' shoulders to his neck to rest on either side of his head, his pointer finger skimming along the shell of Stiles ear, and he takes the last step that has their chests flush against each other.

Stiles snorts, even as he closes his eyes and grips at Derek's shirt. He presses hot, wet, open-mouthed kisses to Derek's mouth, his chin, his jaw, grinning when Derek groans and turns his head to get at Stiles' mouth, their teeth hitting against each other hard enough to hurt, but not enough to make either of them stop.

Everything is suddenly hot and wet and heady. Everything is groans and tongues and the suction of mouth against mouth, mouth against skin, bites that make Stiles moan, and hot breaths mixing with hot breaths.

He presses forward, in a kind of frenzy, wanting more heat, and more Derek, his hands pushing at Derek's shirt and then running up his sides, gasping for breath when Derek does the same.

Everything gets to be almost too much—too much desire, because his dick is straining against the sweat pants he's wearing; too much heat; too much sensation—but he can't stop, because despite the minor discomfort of his injuries, despite the saner part of his brain screaming that this is too fast, too fast, way too fucking fast, he just fucking wants.

God, he hasn't wanted someone this much, this explosively, since… since, fuck, he can't remember. College, maybe, at one of the parties his friends had pulled him to.

Yeah, but sloppy college sex is nothing compared to this. This all-consuming fucking lust that's making it hard to fucking breathe and—

"Stiles," Derek croaks, pulling away. Stiles takes a step back, breathing hard, putting a hand on the sink to steady himself. He looks at Derek, sees the flushed cheeks and the dark, dark pupils and the very visible bulge in his jeans, and starts laughing.

"Okay," Stiles gets out between breaths. "I should take a shower now?"

"Yeah," Derek says, although his eyes are roving over Stiles' face, then down his chest, lingering, way too long, on where Stiles' boner is so fucking obvious. "Yeah, definitely. You should."

Then he's stalking out of the bathroom, slamming the door a little harder than necessary behind him.

"Welcome to Introduction to Theatre and the Dramatic Arts," Professor… Morris? Marris? Molly? Professor M, yeah, Professor M is good, says, "this is an entry level course, and yes, Kevin" --the professor eyes a dude in the front row—blonde hair, tank top, board shorts—and sighs-- "it does fulfill the breadth requirement for graduation. Congratulations."

"Sweet," Kevin says. The class titters. Stiles, sitting in the back row of the auditorium, groans.

"If you're not comfortable in front of a crowd," Professor M continues. "I would drop this class now. We're going heavy on the experience, light on the theory. There are going to be acting opportunities every Friday, two script assignments, and a monologue, you'll be expected to--"

"God," Lana, the one who had dragged him into this class in the first place, sighs, "he is so hot."

Stiles looks down at the Professor, scrunching his nose up. "Too blonde for me. Also, he's got to be at least forty, Lana?"

"Means he has more experience," Lana sighs wistfully.

"I don't know you," Stiles says.

Erica and Boyd come by the next day, bloodied up and dirty, asking Derek if they should kill or interrogate the two shifters—the same ones, apparently, that had hit Stiles' car—they have in their trunk.

Derek is all for killing them, until Scott rushes in from somewhere (he has leaves in his hair, so Stiles assumes he ran) and does the hero-thing, and the whole very tense situation (of which Stiles is watching from the porch steps because really) is resolved when dad rolls up in his squad car and takes the two shifters—Boyd said they called themselves Aksel and Karine—to jail with a hit-and-run charge.

So that's… three down and seven to go?

Oh joy.

The three days after that are quiet.

Too quiet.

Quiet enough that all Stiles can think about is, well, sex. There's some internet mixed in, some lounging around, watching movies and snooping around Derek's house when he's not there (which happens exactly three times—the first time, when he goes grocery shopping, the second, when he goes in to the station for a couple of hours to do some 'paperwork', and the third, when he just randomly gets up and stomps out the door, snarling something about going for a run). But, mostly, Stiles thinks about sex.

Because, let's face it, the whole shifter debacle? Is turning into a confusing mess of pain and clusterfuckery that reminds him way too much of the shit that went down in high school. Okay, it's actually not as serious as that, but still, he figures that if he needs to know anything, Derek will tell him. Or Scott will tell him.

Or… someone will tell him.

Stiles is so okay with being on the sidelines, because, sure, he's cool with the supernatural now (again)—he thinks he's proven that, but he never said he wanted to take center fucking stage. Shit, the last week has seen him being slammed up against way too many hard surfaces.

So, yeah, Stiles mostly thinks about sex. Blowjobs. Handjobs. Big hands and stubble-burn and hot tongues and hard dicks. This, understandably, makes his showers long long long events.

Yup, three days, and lots of thinking about sex. No actual sex, though. Not even another kiss—which is probably for the best, because he doesn't think he could stop if either of them started anything. Derek just keeps driving him crazy; touching him, trying to smell him without being seen, doing that eye thing that makes him want to punch something.

It's amazing how short his trigger is, actually. It had been fine before, when all of this was just a… a possibility. But now that he has evidence—concrete evidence, thank you very fucking much-that Derek wants him? Well, fuck, it's like the metaphorical gate has been opened. The gate, that is, to rampant and unapologetic sexual day-dreaming.

He's distracted, a bit, trying to keep up with the whole social media deal. He takes a picture of himself and posts it to twitter with the caption 'I Liiiiiiiiiiiive,' which, somehow, gets on some local news channel to everyone's great amusement. He texts back everyone who has sent him get well messages, which takes about an hour and leaves his thumbs sore. He calls Miranda and whines until she sends him the scripts she's been holding back, and while he's looking over those, he calls Kelly and asks if she's been having orgies in his house since he's been gone.

All of it's very serious, of course.

That said, it's kind of a pain in the ass being bored out of your mind, being in actual pain, and being sexually frustrated all at the same time. So his happiness at suddenly being none of those things cancels out the fear, anger, and anxiety that comes when Amy—the shifter that Arnold had called before the accident—calls him.

He's in the kitchen, trying to figure out how Derek's toaster works, and when his phone rings, and he sees the unknown number on the screen, boredom is what makes him answer it.

"Stiles Stilinski? This is Amy Clauson," she greets, voice crisp and professional. Stiles is confused for a second, because he doesn't know an Amy but she's talking to him like she knows him.

"Okay," he says, drawing out the word, wondering if someone has leaked his phone number. It's happened a couple of times before.

"… my associates ran into your car three days ago?" she offers. That… that gets his attention.

"You're," he gulps, and abandons the toaster—he didn't want a toasted sandwich anyway, damn it—to walk back into the living room, where Derek is working on his laptop, "you're that Amy."

"Ahh, I suppose," she says.

Stiles hits the back of Derek's head, maybe a little harder than he had intended, and gestures frantically at his phone when Derek turns to glare at him.

"What… uh, how did you get my number?" he asks, grabbing the pen in Derek's hand and the notebook from the coffee table and writing down 'shifter boss lady' in large all-capital letters, underlining it a couple of times for good measure.

"Put it on speaker," Derek says, eyes narrowed. Stiles does.

"Sally isn't the only hacker in our organization, Mr. Stilinski. She was a good one, but not the only one," Amy says, voice all nonchalant and… intimidating.

"That's… comforting," Stiles offers. "Why did you call me?"

"It made sense," Amy says. "You seem to hold some clout with your werewolf friends."

"Or do I seem like the easiest to intimidate?" Stiles asks. There's a pause.

"No," she says, finally, "you don't seem to get intimidated easily."

"Oh," Stiles is… confused.

"I would like to arrange a meeting," Amy says. "Your… Alpha is with you, yes? I can hear him breathing."

"Sure," Stiles says. "He's here."

"Well, it would make sense, since you're in his house," Amy says. That gets a snarl out of Derek.

"What do you want?" he asks.

"A meeting; in a public place, of course. That coffee shop seems adequate, the one run by the fae. "

"Faeme and Fortune?" Stiles asks.

"Yes, that one." Clauson clears her throat. "Our… employer—"

"Greg Sanderson," Derek supplies.

"—it would seem you've been doing your homework, Deputy Hale. Yes, Mr. Sanderson believes it would be troublesome for any of our… kind to enter in to the American penitentiary system. He feels that, considering the circumstances, we should… meet and discuss the… situation."

"Oh really," Derek deadpans, looking completely unimpressed. Stiles doesn't even try to stifle his snort.

"Really," Amy says.

"Fine," Stiles answers, because Derek has that sneer on his face that means he's going to say something that he thinks is hilarious but is just going to make someone angry. "Tomorrow, say noonish? That's when these things go down, right? High noon?"

"A bit… theatric," Amy says. "But I suppose it's fitting, considering your line of work, Mr. Stilinski."

"Yeah, cliché is totally my middle name," Stiles says, and then he presses the end call button before either Amy or Derek can start talking again.

There's silence as Stiles tries to figure out what the hell just happened. He's pretty sure Derek is doing the same, because his eyebrows are furrowed in confusion.

"I'll call Isaac," Derek says, finally. "You call Scott."

"Sounds like a plan," Stiles says, already picking up the phone.

"Stiles, look over here!"

"Over here, Stiles!"

"Smile, Stiles, you look amazing!"

Stiles shoves his hands into his pockets and plasters a smile on his face. He hates the whole picture taking aspect of red carpets. Really, it's just horrible. He keeps wondering if he has something in his teeth, or if his fly's down, or if he just looks like a douche.

actually, yeah, he probably looks like a douche.

One of the red carpet workers shoos him out of the way as Robert Downey Jr. walks towards them, wife on his arm.

He moves on, gladly, only to be corralled into talking to the EW correspondent a couple of minutes later. Or hours. Time gets weird when you're on the red carpet. Too fast and way too fucking slow at the same time. Like it's a fucking alternate dimension or something. She says something, but he can barely hear her over the screams of the crowd and the drone of chatter behind him.

"Who are you wearing tonight, Stiles?" She asks when he just keeps looking at her. He blinks, remembering the hunter senior year of high school that had collected werewolf skins as trophies.

"Uh, I, uh—" he cringes, scratches his head.

"Don't know?" The lady—he really can't remember her name—grins at him.

He sighs, unbuttons his jacket, and shrugs out of one sleeve so he can look for the tag inside.

"Dior," he says when he finds it. "I'm wearing Dior."

"Well," the correspondent says with knowing look towards the camera, "you look fabulous."

"Pssh," Stiles says, sounding way more confident than he feels. "I am fabulous."

Chapter Text

"So." Stiles bites at his thumbnail. "Is the waiting for the sex thing still on?"

Derek blinks at him from where he's sitting across from Stiles on the porch. It's 11:45 in the morning, and Stiles is nervous. About… about a lot of things, but at the moment he's the most nervous about their whole impending coffee-shop showdown with Amy the shifter (and possibly company).

Her file says her preferred shift is a fucking komodo dragon. Stiles thinks that is awesome… and also terrifying. So excuse him if he prefers to distract himself by engaging in potentially embarrassing and squicky conversations with his… his boyfriend? No, too early. And they've never actually gone on any dates. Not that Stiles expects dates. Especially with Derek. Derek and dates just… don't seem like a good fit. Also, actually going on dates when you're a celebrity is… difficult.

So, not his boyfriend. Maybe, with his Derek? Yeah, he likes that. It's cute.

He's never going to say it out loud, but it's cute. He has a Derek. Hah.

… ugh. He sounds like a teenage fucking girl.

"Are we really doing this now, Stiles?"

"Right." Stiles sighs, deflating into the Adirondack chair he's sitting in. "You're right."

He fidgets, for a bit, looking at the landscaped front yard and the forest beyond it. Derek's house is nice. An entirely different place than the one where Scott and Stiles had first dug up Laura's body—oh, yeah, okay, not a good thing to think about.

"Okay, are you sure we shouldn't just go there now? Wait for everyone to show up? Maybe the shifters are already there…"

"No, we wait here," Derek says. He scrolls down on his laptop for a second. "Arrive after them. Scott's waiting across the street; he said he'd call when they show, remember?"

"… are you. Is this. Are we waiting to make an entrance?" Stiles asks, somewhat exasperated, and very intrigued. Derek shrugs.

"If you arrive last, you've got the upper hand," he says.

"How do you figure?" Stiles asks, curious.

"You arrive last" --Derek grins-- "you're the one calling the shots."

"I still don't—oh my god," he says, only realizing now why, back in high school, Derek had always arrived last, running in on all fours, like he was moving to some sort of imaginary badass soundtrack. "You. Back in high school, with the running, and the fangs, and the evil smirks?!"

Derek doesn't try very hard to hide his grin, the ass.

"Oh my god," Stiles coos, "you're a diva."

"It worked," Derek says with a shrug, "and it still does."

"Wow," Stiles breathes, leaning forward again, "any other pieces of wisdom, oh glorious wolf?"

"For you? No," Derek says.

Stiles narrows his eyes, steeples his fingers, and rests his elbows on his knees. His leg bobs up and down as he tries to get rid of the nervous energy somehow. He tries thinking about the scripts Miranda sent him—he's read through them all, and, sadly, he loves them all, from the comedy to the sci-fi horror to the indie slice of life flick—but that just gets him more nervous.

He's never been good at waiting.

"Did you know," Stiles says, giving up, "that there's a house down on Hill Street that's haunted? It's for sale."

Stiles notices the way Derek's hand freezes over the keys of his computer.

"Ghosts don't exist, Stiles," Derek says, holding himself very still.

"Hey, I didn't say it was ghosts. There could be, like, some sort of energy, or someth—"

Derek's phone cuts him off, and he watches, nose scrunched in dissatisfaction—he was really going somewhere with the house discussion, seriously--as Derek picks it up.

"Erica," Derek says, then he's silence as he listens to whatever Erica is saying. He nods, maybe a minute later, and hangs up.

"We going? We're going?" Stiles pushes himself up from his chair. In the four days since his accident, his bruises have gotten darker and darker as they heal, but his face is less swollen, and his injuries don't twinge every time he moves. So it's easier, standing up.

"Erica says they just pulled up." Derek closes his laptop and goes to put it inside.

"Cool," Stiles says, even though it's really not. Cool, that is.

He follows Derek, when he comes back out, to his car and gets in the passenger's seat. He's not really nervous about driving—okay, maybe he is. But he is aware that it's kind of idiotic to be nervous, when it was the shifters that hit his car, and not just some random person.

There is a low chance, then, that he'll be in an accident today.

"You were looking at houses?" Derek asks, ten minutes later, after Stiles has gotten comfortable enough to slouch down in his seat.

"Yeah," Stiles says, looking out the window. They're still driving past mostly wilderness. Stiles thinks they should go on a hike, later. When this shifter crap is over and he's healed up. He hasn't been on a hike in the woods since he's been back, and, despite some spookier areas, the forest around Beacon Hills is kind of beautiful.

"Why were you looking at houses?" Derek asks when Stiles doesn't say anything else.

Oh. Oh. This is good. This is what Stiles was trying to get at, back at the house. He turns to look at Derek.

"Well, it seemed like a pretty cool house," he starts. "Plus, it's not like I can live with my dad all the time. Great guy, really, but no."

"You're going to rent a house?"

"Buy," Stiles says. "I'm going to buy a house. Or an apartment. Or whatever. Depends on what I feel like."

"Why?" Derek asks, turning on to the road that leads to the coffee shop.

Stiles takes a deep breath, clutching at his hands in his lap and looking out the window. "Beacon Hills is home," he says, "there are a lot of things here that I missed. And if I have a place, I figure staying here for longer than three months at a time would be easier."

Stiles hears the squeak of leather, and looks over to see Derek gripping at the steering wheel, sneaking glances over at Stiles every couple of seconds.

"You have a house in LA," Derek says, when they stop at a red light.

"Yeah, I do," Stiles says. "You should come and see it some time. Darth Vader's in my bathroom. He holds towels."

"I know, I've seen it," Derek says. "Scott—"

"Took pictures, yes, I know," Stiles says. He waits until the light turns green, and Derek's attention is on the road, before he continues. "I missed it here, and LA… gets old."

"That—" Derek nods as he turns into the coffee shop's parking lot. "That's good. Everyone will be happy."

"Me too." Stiles punches Derek's shoulder, trying to alleviate the sudden tension in the air. Derek has that expression; the one that means he wants to say something, but doesn't know how to say it.

He unbuckles his seat belt as Derek pulls into an empty parking space, and is about to open the door when Derek grabs his arm, pulls him so that he's leaning over the center console, and kisses him. It's quick and wet and so, so, so so so nice and over way too soon.

"Not that house," Derek murmurs, so close that as he speaks, his lips brush against Stiles'. "The haunted one. You'll probably get possessed or something."

Then he's out of the car, walking towards the coffee shop entrance, and Stiles is hurrying after him, grinning like a fucking idiot.

"Okay, again," Kent says, jumping up and down, hitting his gloves against each other, "remember to keep your elbows out of the way this time. Kick, kick, right hook, uppercut."

"Yeah, yeah." Stiles shakes his arms out, then brings them up in front of him, fisting his hands inside his sparring gloves. He's been punching and kicking and hitting at Kent for three hours, and it feels like, maybe, possibly, his limbs are going to fall off.

Kent is always a hard-ass, though. Stiles supposes he should be grateful, since the dude has put up with his shit for a year, and made him actually look like Jason Todd. Made him feel like Jason Todd.

Also, he has a six-pack now, so there's that.

He backs up a step, eyes on Kent's gloves, then he kicks out, muscles bunching up, his leg moving fast and a slight burst of pain traveling up when his foot connects with Kent's gloved hand. Another kick, then he moves in for a right hook, grunting as he puts his strength into it. He finishes with an upper-cut that's a little flimsy, but passable.

"Good," Kent says, "again."

"Deputy Hale," Amy greets, smiling up at Derek and Stiles as they approach the table—or, tables, since there are three shoved together in the corner of the shop—her and two of her fellow shifters are sitting at. Stiles recognizes them from their profiles as Janne Egden and Fredrik Holten. Behind him, Erica, Boyd, Scott, Allison, and Lydia are tense. They all wanted to be here, so Isaac was left, once again, to stay with Sally and the baby. "Would you like to order a coffee before we begin?"

"No," Derek says, pulling out the chair opposite Amy and sitting. Stiles looks back at the register longingly, because he does want a drink. Something iced and caloric. The moment where he could say that, though, passes, when everyone sits, leaving the seat next to Derek open.

He makes sure to wave at the only other customers in the store—a couple sitting on the other side of the shop, next to the windows, taking pictures of him with their phones. They freeze, and then slowly, wave back.

"You look well," Amy says, smiling at Stiles as he sits. Next to him, Derek tenses up.

"Right?" Stiles agrees, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Now the bruises just look bad-ass instead of pitiful."

"I was… not in favor of that particular maneuver," Amy says. "I felt we could've gotten the thumb drive back using less dramatic means."

"Oh, you mean you were for kidnapping Sally Vallas?" Derek snarks. "And for your friends breaking Erica's arm?"

"Yes, I was." Amy puts a hand on the shifter next to her—Fredrik—when he leans forward, and Derek gives Erica and Boyd a look when their eyes flash yellow.

Oh joy, Stiles is surrounded by idiots.

Well, okay, considering that Allison was in that accident too, Scott is being calm. And Lydia is inspecting her nails. And Allison is just sitting back in her chair and glaring.

So it's just Erica and Boyd that are acting like idiots. But he supposes they have good reason.

"So…" Scott says, "why are we meeting, then?"

"Because"-- Amy brings her hands up to rest on the table, leaning forward-- "you would obviously benefit from having me and mine gone, and I have three of my shifters in a holding cell. I feel as if these… circumstances make it easier for us to come to a relatively peaceful compromise, rather than, say, just killing each other off until one of us comes out the winner."

"Huh," Scott says, nodding. Stiles agrees; it does make sense. He's just not so sure shifter lady is telling the truth. She seems like she is, it's just… it would be so anti-climactic. No battles to the death? No blood and sharp claws and roars? No frantic late nights spent in the animal clinic, watching over half-eviscerated (but healing) werewolves?

Seems suspicious, is all Stiles is saying. Or, thinking. Whatever. It never hurts to be suspicious.

"So you're suggesting an exchange?" Stiles asks, mostly in an attempt to make whatever's happening sound more…exciting. "We drop the charges, get the Sheriff to pull some strings to get your shifters out of jail, and you and your boss forget about Sally and her kid?"

"Believe me when I say, Mr. Stilinski, that what we are offering is very generous," Amy says. Derek snorts at that.

"And if we don't?" Derek asks. "If we—"

"Umm, excuse me?" All heads turn as one of the coffee shop workers appears from behind Erica. A short girl, with red hair and a pretty smattering of freckles over her nose and cheeks. Her nametag says Eli. "I'm really sorry, but we only allow customers inside? So if you stay, you need to, like, buy a drink?"

"I'll buy." Stiles is up, hand on Eli's shoulder before she can start feeling the tension in the air, the unmistakable feeling of something just a little bit off, guiding her back towards the counter. "Sorry about that—we haven't seen each other in a while, got a little excited."

"You're—" Eli looks up at him, then down at where his hand is on her shoulder. He doesn't need to be a werewolf to see the way her eyes widen and her breath quickens. "You're Stiles Stilinski, right?"

"Am I ordering from you, or—" Stiles gestures at the other barista behind the counter, a tall blonde kid who's glaring at Stiles' hand. Aww, jealousy.

"Oh, right, sure." As Eli hurries to get behind the counter, Stiles looks back to see the group frozen, blinking at him, probably waiting. He motions for them to continue, and turns back just as Eli gets to the register.

"I'll order for" --Stiles looks back, counts the heads at the table (tables)-- "ten."

"Sure thing," Eli breathes, beaming. Stile rattles off everyone's orders—three iced caramel machiattos for Scott, Allison, and Lydia, a café mocha for Erica, a hot green tea for Boyd, an Americano for Derek, an iced chai latte for himself, and three black, black black coffees for Amy and her shifters, then he pays, and then leans over the counter to take a picture with Eli and blonde haired dude, and then, then, he somehow gets back to the table, and hands out drinks as everyone just kind of sits and glares at each other.

Yeah, it's all weird, but at least he has something to do with his mouth now. Except talking, of course. He fiddles with his straw while he waits for someone—anyone—to start talking, but no one does. They all just sit there. Like an awkward group date, or something.

"You guys know this is really fucking weird, right?" Stiles finally caves. "Aren't we supposed to be compromising, or something? And, also, you're welcome." He gestures at the drinks around the table.

"Thank you," Amy is the first to speak. "How did you know this is exactly how I like my coffee, Mr. Stilinski?"

"If you weren't such a fuckface," Stiles says. "I think I could like you. So, charges dropped; you guys leave. Does anyone have any problems with that?"

"If you come back to Beacon Hills," Derek says, "you die."

"If Sally Vallas attempts any contact with known shifter mobs," --Amy smiles serenely-- "you all die. Mr. Sanderson wants it clear that this is a one time deal. As I said, it's a very generous offer."

"If you in any way," Lydia speaks for the first time, wiping her mouth delicately after taking a sip of her drink, "attempt to threaten or contact Sally Vallas without our consent, you die."

"Oh, meow," The shifter next to Amy—Janne—says, "human's got a pair of claws on her."

Stiles should've spit in her coffee. He could've gotten away with it. He can be subtle.

There's a sudden flurry of movement, and then Janne is sprawled on her back on the coffee shop floor, one of the legs of her chair mysteriously broken off, and Erica is sporting a feral grin.

"Oops," Erica says, just as Amy gets a white-knuckled grip on Fredrick's neck, stopping him from jumping across the table, "my leg slipped."

There's a tense moment, where there are way too many glowing eyes and subtly shifting skin around him for his liking, and then Stiles remembers they're in public. He looks around to see that another customer has come in, and is staring at them from where she's waiting for her drink. Which seems to be slow coming, because the two baristas are staring as well.

He gets up, forcing his expression in to one of concern, and helps the shifter up, grabbing maybe a bit too hard at her forearm.

"You're so clumsy, Janne." He picks up the chair, then the broken off leg that's lying against the wall nearest them. "Seriously, who the hell trips sitting down?"

"She really is," Amy says. He looks up to see her grinning at him, obviously amused. He sneers up at her, glad his face is hidden by the table, then brings the chair up to the counter.

"I'll pay for th—"

"Oh, no, Mr. Stilinski," Eli says. "I swear, those things break, like, every day. You're totally good."

"Great," Stiles says, and then walks back over to sit next to Derek.

"You leave town," Stiles says, sick of looking at Amy's smile. He makes his voice hard, his heartbeat steady (a little too fast, but steady, which is what matters), and his expression dangerous, "in the next three hours. Get a flight to Norway or somewhere that's not fucking North America, and when you land, we'll drop the charges and let your friends go."

He knows he's taking liberties—he knows they didn't discuss this before hand because no one knew what the fuck they were getting in to. But suddenly he's angry (and a little jealous, because, no matter how hard he tries, he doesn't think he'll ever be as carelessly sociopathic as Amy is). Angry because she's treating his friends like puppies. Angry because she's treating him like a trophy human. Just… angry. For a lot of reason. Most of which he can't identify.

He also just wants her gone so he can get to the boning Derek part of this vacation.

Which should have happened, like, two months ago.

He knows his act is convincing when Amy's smile falters.

"We want—" Amy starts, when she recovers.

"I don't care" --Stiles starts laughing, and only part of it is an act-- "what you want. You leave now, you get on plane, go back to your little Mr. Sanderson. Take a picture, put it on instagram, I don't give a fuck. I just—We—just want you gone before we let the three we have in custody go. I think it's a pretty, what'd you call it? A very generous offer? This is that."

"Fuckin—" Fredrik hisses at him. Stiles snorts.

"Oh, wow, yeah, I'm so terrified. Attack me in a coffee shop" --He leans forward, pushing Scott's half-empty drink, as well as a couple dozen sweetener packets, out of the way as he does so-- "Go on, dickface, do it. Remember your good pal Ducky? He had me pinned up against a wall and I still managed to knock him out and truss him up like a fucking thanksgiving tur—"

"That's the deal," Derek interrupts him, pulling him backwards by the back of his collar and then placing a hand on his shoulder to stop him from leaning forward again, or speaking, for that matter. "You leave, we let your shifters go. Sally Vallas will be monitored, and if she starts making trouble for us…" --Derek pauses-- "we'll take care of her."

"What?" Scott perks up, eyebrows furrowed. "Derek, dude—"

"Just like we would do with anyone making trouble in Beacon Hills, Scott," Allison points out, and Scott deflates with a nod. Everyone looks to Amy, who isn't smiling anymore. Her mouth is set in a grim line, and her eyes are shifting to pure black.

"Oy." Stiles knocks the table, and she startles. "Keep the shifter shit under tabs. Unless you want to be on the TMZ website tomorrow with your eyes all komodo dragon." He gestures with his chin at the other customers—the couple and the woman, and, oh look, there's a pap waiting outside. He wonders how long he's been there.

"Fine," Amy snarls, turning to Derek. "I have your numbers. I'll call you when we land—"

"We'll want copies of your ticket receipts," Lydia says, "or else it will be hard to convince the Sheriff to let your friends out. They did assault his son."

"Of course," Amy says, "and we'll want a personal statement by Ms. Vallas saying that she won't be engaging in any more hacking activities. For Mr. Sanderson."

"We can do that," Boyd says.

And then there's just… silence. No one can think of anything to say, so they just drink their drinks, not looking at each other, pointedly waiting for someone to make a move.

It's kind of hilarious.

"Well," Amy says, after emptying her cup. She seems bored again, that irking smile back in place. "This has been an interesting week. I'm somewhat satisfied with the outcome."

"Good to know," Derek says, not so subtly rolling his eyes. Stiles snorts and hits him in the thigh.

"Thank you for the coffee, Mr. Stilinski," she continues, ignoring Derek in favor of putting a proprietary hand on Stiles' shoulder. He wants to shake it off, but that would… draw attention. "I've been a fan of yours since Eyes of Red."

And then she's walking out of the coffee shop, Fredrik and Janne trailing, looking slightly less composed, and more sulky, behind her, and Stiles just kind of… gives up. He sinks down until his butt is half off his seat and his head is resting on the chair's back, letting his arms hang, boneless and breathing out a long, exhausted sigh.

"Well," Lydia says, "that was…tense."

"On the news" --Stiles spins around in the stool he's sitting in, makes his smile lopsided-- "they called me the red-eyed killer. Weird, right? My eyes are brown, just a normal, nondescript, nothing special brown."

Adam, hanging by his arms from chains screwed into the ceiling, screams something through the towel Stiles had, in an earlier scene, shoved in his mouth and taped over.

"Do you know why they call me that?" Stiles spins around again, then gets up when he's facing Adam.

"The eyes" --Stiles points at his own eyes. "when you're dead, I'm going to gouge them out—" Here, Adam whimpers, shaking his head desperately. Stiles lets his smile widen. "It won't hurt, I swear. You'll be dead by then. Anyway, I'll take them. I have a bunch already, and when they find your body, well" --Stiles shrugs-- "you'll have red, bloody holes where your eyes should be."

He takes a step closer, leans in and pries one of Adam's eyelids open. "You have pretty eyes," he says, "blue and brown and… central heterochromia, is what it's called. Pretty."

Adam whimpers.

"So, you think they're actually going to listen and stay away?" Stiles asks as soon as Derek has pulled out of the coffee shop's parking lot. They had stayed there, sitting in the corner, sipping coffee and generally basking in the glow of a job well done, for another hour before people had started to leave. Boyd and Erica had gone to Isaac's to talk to Sally. Or, well, threaten, intimidate, and warn Sally. Scott and Allison had left to trail Amy and her gang. And Lydia… well, actually Stiles is pretty sure Lydia just went back to her apartment. Something about a new perspective on the algorithm she's working on.

Stiles, though. Stiles is pretty sure he's done. At least for today.

He's pretty sure they can handle everything else with minimal involvement from him.

"Probably," Derek says. "If they know what's good for them."

"Ohh, snarky." Stiles leans back in his seat. "If they come back are we going to kill them?"

"We?" Derek asks, raising an eyebrow.

"Yes, we, dude, I'm buying a house, remember?" Stiles glares.

"If we need to, we will." Derek shrugs. "Or I could just lock them up again. That seems to work."

"Yeah," Stiles grins. "As do my awesome intimidation skills."

Derek looks at him, once, to let him know he's unimpressed, and then the rest of the drive home—or, well, to Derek's house—is silent. Stiles mostly thinks about the scripts Miranda sent him. And, since the danger is gone (or, it will be, soon) is he going to go back to staying at his dad's house? How slow, exactly, is Derek going to take this? Is Miranda going to be angry if he decides to stay another month? Is—

"Stiles," Derek says. His voice is rough, and it cracks in the middle. Stiles looks up to see that they're at a red light, maybe five minutes away from the house, wooded forest on either side.

"Yup." Stiles turns, and then just… blinks at the way Derek is looking at him. Like he's hungry. Like he's… like he wants him. Oh fuck yes. Suddenly his shirt is grabbed, and he's pulled over and Derek's mouth is on his chin, his jaw, his neck. His tongue is licking at his lips, and he's opening them and groaning, still a step or two behind, as Derek just kind of devours him.

He's all for continuing, even has one hand on his seatbelt buckle to unlock it so he can crawl over to straddle Derek's lap, except then a car beeps at them from behind, and he's sucked back to reality.

"Tha—" Derek takes a deep breath as he changes gears.

"Yeah," Stiles sighs, not even trying to hide the goofy smile on his face.

"You—" Derek grits out.

"Totally," Stiles says, voice all breathy and happy, hoping that he's reading Derek right. Hoping beyond fucking hope that the way Derek is looking at him means he wants more than a goddamned sexually frustrating kiss. When Derek gulps, nods, and steps on the gas to go a little faster than he normally does, well, Stiles hopes that's an answer.

When Derek pulls in front of his house, Stiles wants to clamor out, maybe rush up the walkway and then the stairs, all the while shucking off his clothes, but he can't because, yeah, his injuries are healing, but they're not healed. So, instead, he unbuckles his seatbelt with steady-enough hands, and eases himself out of the car just as Derek slams his door closed.

He closes his door, walks over to where Derek is waiting for him, in front of the steps, and stops, waiting. He knows Derek can hear his heartbeat going quick and nervous, and he's probably leaking arousal all over the place.

Actually, that's kind of useful, the smelling thing. Means he doesn't have to verbalize.

Not that he would have a problem verbalizing, just that it would be easier…less of a hassle, maybe, for Derek to just know that he wants him.

"Hola," Stiles says, when the silence has gone on for maybe thirty seconds. It's more of a reminder to Derek that, you know, he's waiting here, standing, in front of a house, where there is a bedroom, and a bed, and possibly lube—

"Fuck," Derek says, succinctly, sighing a little, and then he's gripping Stiles head and pulling him forward, licking into his mouth with broad sweeps of his tongue. Stiles loves the kissing—like, really loves it. Hell, five seconds in and he's already half hard (maybe because he can feel where Derek's cock is straining against his jeans, rubbing, maybe a little purposefully, over his thigh) and breathing like he just ran a marathon. But, well, Stiles wants skin.

He wants to feel Derek's skin—under him, over him, wherever. He wants to skim his fingers up muscled flanks and dig his fingernails in where Derek's hipbones jut out. He wants, for fuck's sake, to see the man's dick.

"Inside," Stiles gasps, when Derek moves down to his neck, sucking a hickey right at his jugular, his stubble rasping against Stiles' jaw and neck. He moans when Derek shifts and there's suddenly a whole lot of fucking friction against his dick. "Derek, come on."

"Kind of hard when—fuck—your hands," Derek groans, bites at Stiles' jaw, his hips canting up without any rhythm whatsoever, "are squeezing my ass."

Oh, right. Oops. He doesn't even know how those got there.

"It's a nice ass," Stiles says—gasps-with a shrug. Derek laughs at that, and backs up. Not a lot, just enough to grab Stiles' hand and start pulling him up the front steps. He unlocks the front door, and then Stiles is, somehow, half collapsed, leaning back on his elbows, on Derek's sofa.

"Huh," is all he manages to get out, before Derek is straddling his thighs and pulling his shirt off with one hand, while the other travels up, from his stomach to his chest to slide over the raised scars on his shoulder.

Derek's eyes are… intense. They're not on his face—he doesn't think he could handle that right now, anyway, not without coming in his jeans, because Stiles may or may not have a thing for Derek's eyes—they're following where his hand is tracing the four claw marks from his shoulder to his sternum. Derek's thumb skims over Stiles' nipple (the sound he makes at that…it's high-pitched and needy), and he makes a noise low in his throat that Stiles is pretty sure he mimics.

Stiles, maybe, presses up in to his touches, sitting up to pull Derek's shirt off, throw it across the room, and get his mouth on Derek's collarbone, on his shoulder, to suck a hickey into his neck and watch, kind of fascinated as it rapidly changes to yellow, then blue and red, then fades into unmarked skin.

He does it again, lower, biting at the skin just below, kind of too mesmerized to bother with how both of their dicks are straining against their jeans, gasping when Derek's hands come up to grab at his neck, angling his head back to start kissing him.

"If I," Stiles says when Derek stops, starts grunting as he messes with the button of Stiles' jeans, his fingers clumsy and his breath coming out in aggravated huffs, "say something weird, are we still gonna have sex?"

"Probably," Derek says with a shrug, intent on pulling Stiles' jeans down his legs, then his briefs, and… okay, now he's naked. Well, his jeans are hanging from one ankle, and his briefs are tangled around his calves but… everything important is naked. And it's, well, it's intense, really. Because, fuck, Derek's eyes. Goddamn.

Stiles isn't modest, for fuck's sake. Not anymore. But there is no one—no one—that could handle Derek staring at them like this. He's still pinning Stiles' thighs with his own, and his hands are skimming along Stiles' stomach, down the trail of hair that leads from his naval to his dick, and Stiles is really really really fuckin' hard.

"Your jeans, fucker," his grunt turns into a gasp when Derek leans down and sucks a hickey at his neck, his weight pressing down into Stiles until he's pushed to lie on his back.

"How is that weird?" Derek asks, biting at Stiles' collarbone. Stiles grumbles and brings his hands down to start struggling with Derek's zipper.

"That wasn't what I—fuck," Stiles says, his hands curling into his jeans when Derek's mouth travels down, his tongue flicking over a nipple—the fucking tease—then down, where he starts sucking hickeys on Stiles' stomach. "Get them off, dude. Please."

Derek freezes, then looks down at his dick, then up at Stiles' mouth, his neck, at wherever his skin is flushed red and hot to the touch. He licks his lips, once, and then he rears up to his knees, and starts struggling with his jeans. Stiles doesn't help at all. He lays there, and he watches, and maybe he snorts out a laugh when Derek's jeans get caught as he tries to pull them down over his dick.

But then the moment passes, because Derek's jeans are at his thighs, and his dick is… well, uncircumcised, for one. Thick, for another. Hot and flushed red at the tip and there's a vein snaking along the side that Stiles kind of wants to get something on—his tongue, a finger, his dick.

It's a nice dick. A really, really, nice dick. So Stiles can't be faulted for not caring about the strip show any more. Not when he can sit up and get his hand around it, run his thumb over the slit at the top, fascinated by the low groan that Derek makes when he does it, the squirt of pre-come that dribbles down the underside, the feel of it in his hand.

"Stiles," Derek says, and god, the way he says it. Like a… like he's something good. Something to be cherished. Or, well, like he has his hand around his dick, let's not get rings-and-roses romantic here just yet, Stilinski.

Stiles looks away, to where Derek's jeans are abandoned at his knees, at where his hands are fisted at his sides, and then up, to where his mouth is open and his chest is gasping for breath. To where his eyes are half-mast, meeting Stiles' gaze and then glancing down at his dick, then back.

"You look—" Stiles breathes, but then he's being pushed back into the sofa cushions, and Derek is pressing down until their dicks are rubbing against each other, all hot friction and white, fizzling sensation deep down in his gut. His language skills kind of go out the door, then, and he's left to just make desperate noises, groans and moans and half-thought out sentences as he mouths at Derek's neck while he mouths at Stiles' shoulder, his teeth—human—biting down just enough to be the good kind of hurt. His hips cant up as Derek's hips cant down, and when Derek gets a hand around both of them, starts jacking with a grip that's maybe a little too tight, too much, his vocal chords lock up, and what comes out of his mouth is just open-mouthed, shocked, silence.

Derek is… well, Derek's beautiful. That's a no-brainer. But here, stretched out on top of him, his eyes narrowed, focused on where their dicks are sliding against each other, pre-come gushing over his fingers, mouth open, abs and chest working up and down in time with his thrust, he's fucking otherworldly.

So he can't be judged, too much, when he comes fast and hard, teeth sinking into firm, silky-soft skin, muscles bunching up, nails gripping at the sweat-slick skin of Derek's hips as his toes curl into themselves. A surprised whimper punches out of him at the sheer fucking intensity of the white hot, too pleasurable to not hurt, prickles in his gut and his balls and all over his skin.

Derek is still thrusting, dick and thighs covered in Stiles' come and his sweat, his eyes closed now, his movements more erratic, his nostrils flared. Stiles arches up into him, gets a hand around Derek's cock, his brain still too orgasm-adled to be able to make any keen observations.

God, he wants it in his mouth.

"Fuck, I want to blow you," he says. His voice is low and gravelly. It sounds fucked out and sated and he's never heard it sound like that before. Not with anyone. Must be a Derek thing. Intensity and all that.

Derek's eyes don't open, but his mouth latches on to Stiles' collar bone, and he bites, he bites down hard, and his thrusts turn quick and clumsy and as Stiles arches back, moans, he feels come streaking over his stomach, pooling in his navel, mixing with his own. It's an icky, awesome, feeling. Then Derek just kind of collapses, pinning him where he is with his weight, his face tucked into the curve of his neck and his mouth hot and open over Stiles' jugular.

Stiles stares up at the ceiling—there's a stain that's shaped like a teacup and saucer above the couch—his hands idly rubbing up and down Derek's sides as he tries to get his breath back.

"What were you going to tell me?" Derek says, when both of them aren't breathing as hard, his head still tucked in to Stiles' neck.

"Huh?" Stiles asks. He shifts and brings one knee up to get more comfortable, his movements slow and lethargic. His jeans are still caught around his ankle, and Derek's jeans are still around his knees. Hah.

"You said," --Derek sighs, like he has better things to do. Which, Stiles agrees, he does, like letting him blow him-- "you had something weird to—"

"Oh," Stiles says, scrunching his face up when he tries to remember and can't. "I… don't remember?"

Derek smiles into Stiles' neck, and even without seeing it, Stiles knows it's wide and toothy and—oh.

"Oh wait," Stiles says, "your teeth."

"What?" Derek leans up at that, furrows his eyebrows at him. Stiles grins.

"Your teeth" --Stiles' points at his own incisors-- "are adorable. That's what I was gonna say."

Derek blinks, then sighs, collapsing back down to rest his head on Stiles' collar bone. "You're ridiculous."

Stiles stretches, brings his arms up above his head and points his toes until he hears a crack, inhaling just a little sharply when his dick brushes up against Derek's, still sensitive from all the friction and the coming and the general awesomeness. "Are we moving any time soon?" he asks.

"No," Derek says, voice gruff and… sleepy? Oh god, he's a post-orgasm napper. Lovely. Actually, that's not sarcasm. That is really lovely. Awesome. Cool. Amazing. Stiles is a-okay with post-orgasm nappers. "Just sleep, Stiles."

"What if someone—"

"No one's coming in," Derek mumbles. "I locked the door."

This just goes to show, Stiles thinks, that people should just fucking listen to him sometimes. No, not sometimes. All the time. They should just… just shut the fuck up and listen when he's telling them that the fucking werewolf who came back from the dead should just be killed again. They should listen when he says that things that have died should stay dead. Really dead. They should listen when he tells them not to deal with said werewolf. They should listen when he says that said fucking werewolf has been acting crazier than usual.

But no, no one listens to Stiles. Not when it comes to the supernatural, because Stiles is a human. Stiles is the sidekick, the one that the main character, a good six times out of ten, ignores. Talkin' to you Scott. And Derek, for that matter.


He should've just stayed in LA for Christmas.

Now he's going to die. He's going to die at 19, after only having sex two times—two times-because Peter is going to rip his heart out, show it to him, and he's not going to be able to do anything about it because he's paralyzed. Somehow, Peter had gotten ahold of some Kanima venom. Extra-strength too, apparently, because he can't even move his mouth. Can't even scream as sharp nails scrape against his sternum, against hard white bone.

He can't even scream as he feels muscles being pulled, sliced, eviscerated, can't even scream as Peter cuts a dark-red line from the center of his chest to his shoulder, smiling that pursed lip smile and fucking chuckling. He's trying to scream—there's a gurgling sound coming from deep in his throat, and he's gasping for breath, there are tears (of pain, of fear, of hatred, of anger) running down his cheeks—but he can't get his vocal chords to work.

God, it hurts. And fuck, he's gonna die.

He's going to die in an underground parking garage. No one is going to come for him, no one is going to save him. He's going to die.

Stiles doesn't have a death wish, as much as his predilection towards danger and stupid half-brained ideas makes it seem like he does, so this revelation…makes him sad. And angry. And scared. And also, kind of confused, because normal 19 year olds don't really have to think about their mortality, and this, well, this right here is forcing him to.

"Even when you can't talk" --Peter chuckles, his pointer finger (claw) digging into Stiles' sternum-- "I can still feel you thinking. You're a loud thinker, Stiles."

Oh, well, fuck you, assdick, Stiles thinks. If he could talk, he would probably try to distract him. Talk about his family, maybe, about how they wouldn't want this, about how it's not worth it. But even if he could talk, and if he could say those things, he's not sure that it would pierce through whatever psychotic break Peter has had.

Fuck, he's going to—

"Stiles!" That's Scott. That's Scott's voice, and he's—Stiles can't see him because his eyes are blurry from not being able to breathe probably and unshed tears—but he can hear the roar that Scott lets out. And then another, and another. A hiss, maybe, that sounds like Erica.

The pain of claws digging in to his pectoral muscle goes away, replaced by throbbing that is actually, a little worse. Stiles blinks to see Peter gone, angles his gaze downwards to see blood. So much blood. All of it his. It's gushing out of him, running down the white bone of his sternum, staining his blue t-shirt black. It's on his arms and pooling on the concrete under him and he can smell it and—oh god, he doesn't want to die.

Please, he doesn't want to die.

Chapter Text

"Oh, wow," Stiles breathes, "look at you." He skims a hand down smooth contours and curves flushed red, leans down to press his cheek against—

"Stiles," Derek sighs. "What are you doing?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Stiles looks up, disappointed, from where he's hugging his Ferarri. "I'm saying hello to my baby, Derek."

"You're practically humping the thing," Derek says.

"I'm hugging her, Derek, hugging." He squints his eyes up at where Derek's sitting on the porch steps. The angle's a little awkward, but Derek looks… "Are you jealous?"

"Yeah, that's it exactly, Stiles. I'm jealous," Derek says, raising his eyebrows, apparently to show how stupid of a question that was. Stiles sighs, stands up to walk over and sit down next to him, eyes still on his car. The repair shop had delivered it ten minutes ago--unmarred, freshly cleaned, good as new--to Derek's house. Stiles nudges Derek's knee with his elbow.

"You can be jealous, I mean." He grins.

"Of a car." Derek grins back.

"It's a hot car," Stiles argues.

"Do you want me be to be jealous?" Derek asks.

Stiles pauses, pretending to think about it as he leans back on his elbows.

"No need," he says with a shrug. "You don't really have any competition."

"Oh?" Derek asks, sounding smug.

"Yes, oh," Stiles says. Derek leans back on his elbows next to Stiles, his face, somehow, even more smug, almost satisfied, and Stiles snorts, shakes his head. He's still kind of fascinated, even though he's known the guy was more than brooding and sass and action for a while now, at just how… easy it is to get along with Derek.

Even after the sex. Okay, fuck, especially after the sex. There had been no awkward post-sex, stilted conversations yesterday, no strange silences. Stiles had…he had woken up warm and comfy, with his back to the sofa and his front smashed against Derek's side, who was awake, lying on his stomach, looking at him with a look that Stiles still can't interpret. And Derek's jeans were still tangled around his knees. His butt was in the air and… Stiles had kind of collapsed in laughter.

And then there had been cereal for dinner, which was interrupted when the others started arriving, all of them, save for Allison and Lydia, scrunching their noses up at the sofa and giving Derek pointed looks.

Boyd and Erica had stayed the night in the guest room, and Stiles had slept in Derek's bed. Actually fucking slept. No hanky-panky whatsoever.

Stiles isn't going to tell Derek (yet) how strange and exhilarating and perfect it had felt to wake up to him. He knows he gets attached fast and hard, knows that attachment gets fucking needy once there's sex involved. The thing that terrifies Stiles, just a little, is how much he doesn't want to fuck this up. How much he doesn't want to scare Derek off.

It's not just because they both have the same friends. It's because… Stiles wants this to work.

He snorts at the thought, because, really, what happened to not-quite-hating the guy? What happened to all that crap he thought back in high school? Even, to some extent, in senior year, when they had gotten past the unease and the distrust? When he sometimes wished Derek would just…leave. Find somewhere else to live. Anywhere but Beacon Hills. Just leave Scott alone. Just leave him alone. Let him be normal.

Of course he would fall in lust/intense like with the one guy he never thought he could be anything other than friends with. Okay, friends, according to everyone around them, who had a shit ton of unresolved sexual tension, but still-

Typical Stiles, just stumbling into shit again.

"You're thinking," Derek says, and he sounds like he wants to know what Stiles is thinking about. Stiles doesn't think he wants to know… yet… what he's thinking about, so he changes the subject.

"Didn't Scott say he was five minutes away?" Stiles whines.

"This is Scott," Derek says after a beat. "Time is more of a suggestion to him."

"… was that a Pirates of the Caribbean reference?" Stiles rears his head up to look at him, grinning.

"No," Derek says, but his mouth tilts up at one corner. God, it's like—oh, right, they are in the honeymoon phase. Stiles gives it a week before he starts riling up Derek just to get him flustered, maybe a week and a half before Derek starts telling him to stop being lazy and book an audition or something naggy like that.

Oh, Stiles should start teasing him about the magazines he has in his cupboard. That would get him embarrassed. Maybe he'd blush again. Fuck, Stiles wants to get him to blush. He wants those ears to turn bright red, like his do, and he wants his cheeks to get all splotchy, like his do.

Fuck, like his did yesterday.

"Are you thinking about sex?" Derek sniffs at him, and Stiles laughs.

"Yeah," he says. "Movie references rev my engine."

The corner of Derek's mouth twitches again, and he leans over, twisting until his lips are brushing against Stiles'. "Good to know," he says, and then they're kissing.

They're still kissing, slow and, holy fuck, Stiles never thought he would use this adjective when describing Derek, and sweet, when Scott and Allison pull up, with Isaac and Sally (and Kari) in tow.

Every time Stiles looks at the scratches, skin puckered and red around stitches that trail down his shoulder, ending in a Y-shape at his sternum where the surgeons had to pull the skin back together over cracked bone, he gets flashes of pain and blood, of Peter's smile, of cold concrete that smells like garbage and car exhaust, of liquid gurgling in his throat and lungs.

So, he doesn't look at the scratches, much. Not when he can help it.

For the first week, after waking up in the hospital, he doesn't think much. He fades in and out, high on whatever drug they give him to keep him sane, waking up with lights in his eyes and a crick in his back.

They make him get out of bed the first day of the second week. Walking hurts, seeing the wound hurts, everything hurts.

It's during the third week that Derek and Scott finally come and see him. Or, well, that dad finally lets Scott and Derek see him.

He knows they're friends now—knows that Derek has come to terms with Scott never being his 'beta,' and that Scott has realized that the whole asshole-façade that Derek has going on is just that, a façade—but it's still weird seeing them walk into his room together.

"It's the douche brothers," Stiles jokes, knows it falls flat because his face is still ashen white and his eyes are sunken in and it comes out sounding a little bit more bitter than he realized.

God, he's just so tired.

"Dude." Scott is the first to come over, sits in the chair next to his bed that dad usually sits in. His eyes are wide and guilt-ridden, and Stiles is too exhausted for this shit.

"Apology accepted," he says, "but I get to hit you in the stomach with that bat your mom keeps when I get out." He gestures around, vaguely, at the whitewashed room he's pretty sure he hates.

"He's dead," Derek says, after that. "For good, this time."

"Same deal with you," Stiles responds. He's not actually sure if he's going to follow through on the threat, but thinking about it makes him feel better.

"We should've listened to you," Derek says, softer.

"You should always listen to me," Stiles says. "Especially when I say that a crazy werewolf is acting crazier than normal, dude."

"Okay," Scott says.

Stiles looks at Scott, than at Derek, than out the window where it's raining. Fuck, he's tired.

Sally hugs him when she gets out of the car. Hugs him for a really long time, with Kari squished in between them, slapping at Stiles' neck and cheeks and making weird cooing noses. She murmurs something about thank you and life debts and how she's going to put him in her will and that if he ever needs a fake I.D. or an enemy hacked, or some extra money, she'll do it, no questions asked.

It's all very nice, and very weird, and Stiles is glad when she lets go so he can grin at her.

"Haven't seen you in a while," he says, glancing over to where Scott is hugging the Ferrari while Allison and Derek look on with bemused expressions.

"I need a house," Sally says in response. "I hate apartments. I've decided. Isaac is going to help me look for one after I've found a job."

"Like a… not hacking job?" Stiles asks, hopefully.

"I was thinking computer repair;" Sally shrugs. "And I can freelance on the side, maybe make a game or two. Do the whole," --She waves her hand around-- "American entrepreneur thing."

"Sounds cool." Stiles shoves his hands in his pockets, looks over to where Scott, Allison, and Derek are talking now, with serious faces.

"Did Boyd and Erica talk to you, last night?" Sally asks. "About the shifters?"

"I tuned them out." Stiles grins down at her, dodging when Kari leans forward to grab at his arm. "After they said Lydia had gotten receipts for a flight to… uh, France, right?"

"It was the first plane leaving," Sally says. "And your dad—nice guy, by the way—let the other three go this morning."

"Yeah." Stiles nods. "Boyd and Erica are following them." He looks over at where Scott has an arm around Allison's shoulders, his thumb brushing along the bruise on her jaw. Man, the dude's such a romantic. It's endearing. Endearingly gag-worthy, but whatever.

"I'm looking for a house too," he says, eyes still on Scott and Allison. Okay, and maybe Derek, because he's laughing. At something Allison said, for fuck's sake. That's just… it's amazing. He turns around to see Sally smiling, and Kari grinning up at him.

"I'm glad, Stiles," she says, then, for some reason, pushes Kari towards him until she grabs at his neck and he has to get his arms around her or risk an accident. For some reason, she starts pulling at his ear. "You've got the money, the lifestyle, the guy—"

"Do not--" Stiles says, grabbing Kari's hand to stop her. Fuck, babies are heavy. "And why am I holding… this?"

"Kari likes you," Sally says, like it's obvious. "And I need to talk to Derek." And then she's walking over to them. Stiles lifts Kari until she's sitting on his shoulders and follows.

"Goddamnit, Stilinski," Allison says when he sidles up next to her, while Sally's in the middle of making Derek snort at something. "This is going on twitter, and I don't give a shit—"

"What?" Stiles looks at her, then winces when Kari gets a fistful of his hair and pulls. "Fuck."

"Dude, language," Scott says.

"She's three months old, Scott," Stiles says, then smiles for the camera when Allison points her phone at him.

"Yeah, but—"

"Ignoring you," Stiles says, turning around to climb into the driver's seat of his car, holding Kari in his lap.

God, all of this is so… domestic. Like the house is… theirs, instead of Derek's. Like they're entertaining their guests, yee gads. Like Stiles doesn't already have his bags packed because he's driving back to his dad's tonight. Or, well, he's pretty sure he's doing that tonight.

Unless Derek convinces him otherwise.

This is all part of the not-freaking-Derek-out plan. Which means sleeping alone, which means… keeping thoughts about domesticity and all that crap in his head. Take it slow, he figures, try to do it as normally as possible. Don't jump the gun and start the dependency crap.


He's convinced Kari to start making engine noises, and has her hands wrapped around the steering wheel, when Sally appears again, crouching down to look up at him.

"We're all, apparently," she says, voice… happy and satisfied and maybe a little surprised, "going out to lunch?"

"Really?" Stiles had thought Scott was just coming over to see the car. But lunch sounds good. Derek is going to work the evening shift, tonight, with dad, because, in his words, he's 'already taken too much time off.' So having lunch out will be… nice.

And Stiles can come back for his stuff afterwards, go back to dad's house, maybe call his realtor. Start doing adult-like things that aren't supernatural in nature.

Ugh, like pay his bills. Or, well, talk to his accountant about her paying his bills. Memorize scripts. Lurk on the internet and see what people are saying about him. The usual.

"Yeah." Sally grins and holds her hands out for Kari, and Stiles hands her over. "Derek said something about going to work from there, so—"

"Oh." Stiles scrunches his nose up. "I guess I'll bring my bags with me then."

He gets out of the car and walks over to where Scott and Allison are murmuring what are probably sweet-nothings to each other.

It hits him, then, how strange it is that no one is inside. But then again, Scott had given Derek's couch the stink-eye for half the time he was over last night, so… maybe it makes more sense to non-humans.

"I hear we have, like, a lunch date?" he says, putting an arm around Scott's shoulder. Derek isn't outside—probably inside getting his uniform on, and oh, Stiles wants to see that—so he has a bit of time before he needs to get his bags from Derek's room. He doesn't think it's a good idea to go in there while Derek's getting dressed.

He'll probably just want to jump him, and considering that they have company…just no.

"Yeah, is that all right?" Allison looks at him, eyes wide and sincere. "I have a couple of hours free, and I can't get away from work tonight, and it would be nice, I think…"

"I'm not complaining," Stiles says. "I haven't been anywhere but the fuckin' coffee shop in more than a week."

"Well, you're injured, dude." Scott looks at him like he's an idiot. "And you're a celebrity? I mean, both things make it—"

"I wasn't asking for an answer, Scott," Stiles says.

"Oh," Scott says. There's silence, and Stiles glances back to see Sally leaning up against Scott and Allison's car, rocking Kari in her arms and just… looking at them. He smiles, waves, and she does the same back.


"So," Stiles says, "that whole shifter stuff was nuts, huh? Glad it's over. Did I tell you I'm looking at houses?"

"You said that five times last night," Scott groans, "and I know you did it just to get a reaction from Derek, so don't even—"

"It's cute!" Allison hits Scott in the arm. "They're in lo—"

"No! No jinxing!" Stiles waves his hands around enough that Allison is surprised in to silence. Although if the smirk on her face is anything to go by, he knows exactly what she's thinking.

Disgusted, he untangles himself from Scott. "Assholes, all of you."

He walks inside, muttering, the sound of Allison's laughter following after him. His ears are red, damn it. And his cheeks. And the back of his neck.

Ugh, in his next movie he should go for a really cool role, just so he can show everyone how cool he can be.

If he tries, that is.

Derek is shirtless when he opens the bedroom door, wearing his uniform pants and fiddling with the buttons of his uniform shirt, and Stiles thinks he might develop a uniform kink right then and there.

"Oh," he says, eyes on where Derek's hipbones are jutting out, remembering how it felt to rake his nails down hot, firm, soft skin. "I just came to get my bags."

"Right," Derek says, pulling his undershirt on, eyes on Stiles' neck where, underneath the collar of his jacket and hoodie, there are a multitude of hickeys. Like, a fuckin' multitude. Stiles is guessing the penchant for marking is a werewolf thing.

He's not gonna lie; it's hot.

"I can't believe you're already going back to work, dude." Stiles walks over to his bags, then remembers that his toothbrush and shit are still in the guest bathroom down the hall. He sighs, walks out to get them, and comes back in with an armful of shampoo and conditioner and the cream his dermatologist makes him put on his face to, in her words, keep it smooth. Derek is sitting on the bed, still in his undershirt, looking at the floor.

He looks up when Stiles walks in, then down at all the toiletries in his arms, and grins.

"Fuck you, it's for work," Stiles grumbles, walking past to start shoving everything wherever it will fit.

"You could stay," Derek says, just as he manages to get his shampoo shoved into one of the side pockets.

"Huh?" Stiles looks up. He heard what Derek said, and he knows Derek knows, because his heartbeat stuttered. Fucking werewolves. He pays way too much attention to how his internal organs react to external stimuli, man. Way too much.

"You could stay," Derek says again through a sigh, shrugging on his uniform shirt and buttoning it up. "Here. Tonight. Or until you find a house. If you wanted to."

Stiles bites the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. Doesn't really work, though. His cheeks hurt from how wide the smile is.

"Okay," he says, because, really, what do you say to that? Of course he wants to stay.

"Great," Derek says, buttoning his shirt up the rest of the way, definitely going for nonchalant. His lips are pursed though, and his jaw is clenched, as if he's trying to stop himself from smiling too.

"We could get take out tonight, or something," Stiles offers, grabbing all the toiletries he had already managed to shove in his bag and standing. "Is anyone due over?"

"No." Derek stands up. Stiles does not salivate. He does not. "I'm back at midnight."

"I'll leave some for you." Stiles walks out and into the guest bathroom to put everything back. When he catches a glance of himself in the bathroom mirror he looks… happy. Ecstatic. So fuckin' obvious, actually.

When he's done, he goes back and leans up against the bedroom doorframe, shoves his hands into his pockets, and watches as Derek grabs his bag.

"I'll take my car," Stiles says, backing up to let Derek past him. Except Derek doesn't walk past him. He stops, leans in, and inhales long and deep, pushing Stiles' collar out of the way and mouthing at his neck.

Well, okay then. That's… yeah, that's great.

"Uh," Stiles says, intelligently.

"Fuck," says Derek, just as intelligently, "you smell good."

@Stilisms, a fan-made twitter account.

--Things Stiles Stilinski says in public--

"I really wanna do a B rated monster movie. Like, make me the first one to die from getting trampled by a giant mutant cat-dog."           

           - In response to the question, "Got anything planned for your next gig?" Red Carpet interview.

 "The guy I played in Frost? Total douchebag. If I ever met him I would probably key his car."

           - From an interview with Conan O'Brien.    

 "I'm so awkward, you don't even know. I'm just so uncomfortable and awkward to be around."

           - Overheard during the Golden Globes afterparty.

 "For an econ test in high school once, I talked about the history of male circumcision. It wasn't appreciated."

           - In response to the question, "Were you a good student in high school?" Red Carpet interview.

"I have an oral fixation problem. If I get it in my hand I eventually have to get it in my—that sounds wrong, never mind."

           - When asked about his penchant for chewing things during Red Hood press junket.

"I'm lover, not a fighter. Unless it's love-fighting, and then, yes, totally, I'm into that."

           - Taken from Teen-Vogue interview.

"If I was a supernatural creature what would I be? [five minutes of laughter] Oh man. Abominable snowman."

           - In response to a fan's question at Comic-Con.

"My trainer tried to get me to do yoga, once. I gave myself a black eye when I tried the Crow pose."

           - When talking about his work-out routine for the movie Break for EW interview.

"Why don't I date? I do date, all the time. They just run away after I start talking about WoW over dessert."

           - Taken from Vogue Magazine interview.

"I like to pretend problems don't exist until they go away. It's worked for me so far."

           - Speaking on the leaked-photos scandal at Complicated press junket.

"The first person I told after I got the Todd role was my best friend, because he said no one is ever Robin any of the time. Totes shoved it in his face."

           - In response to a fan's question at Comic-Con.

"So, which one are you going to do?" Scott asks. "The sci-fi or the comedy or the—"

"I'm gonna send audition tapes in,"--Stiles takes a bite of his sandwich and leans back in the booth to chew-- "for the sci-fi and the comedy."

Next to him, Derek is hunched over his burger and fries, eating and glaring at the dude three tables away who's staring. Stiles nudges him in the stomach with his elbow, and the glare turns on him.

"Contain yourself, Deputy," he says, then turns back to Scott and Allison, who are sitting across from them. On his other side, Sally is trying to feed Kari applesauce and… it's not going well.

Which means that his sleeve has little specks of applesauce all over it, and Kari keeps looking at him like she wants to throw it at his face.

"But I'm like, weeks away from that," he says, then points at his face. "Gotta wait for this to heal. It's vacation time, now."

"So, you mean," Allison says, "back to vegging out on your couch and watching entire runs of cancelled TV shows?"

"Uh, yeah," Stiles says, because that's obvious, "and I'm looking at—"

"Don't say it," Scott groans.

"—houses." Stiles grins. Next to him, Derek looks at them sideways. His knee presses into Stiles' thigh, though, which is nice. "And, apparently, Lydia wants me to re-read her thesis, which is going to take days, because that shit is boring."

"Ugh, I'm so glad she's not making me read it." Allison shivers.

"And," Stiles says, leaning forward to take another bite of sandwich, "other stuff. I can't remember what, exactly, but other stuff. Other very important actor stuff."

"Eloquent," Derek says around a mouthful of burger. Stiles steals a fry from his plate in retaliation and tries not to think about how, less than a week ago, he was in the throws of the most recent supernatural hiccup, or about how he's sleeping over at Derek's tonight, ostensibly in Derek's bed, with Derek. Or how there are about five people in the diner they're in just watching him. He's good at ignoring things, most of the time, so he gets through lunch without curling into a ball of fear and self-esteem issues, without jumping Derek, without snarling at the people glancing at him.

He's kind of grateful, actually, when lunch ends, though. Because sometimes Stiles' brain gets ahead of him—gets lost in all the shit that's going down—and he has to calm down or risk going back to way he was in high school. Hyper-vigilant. Kind of whiney. Paranoid. So very paranoid.

He promises to have dinner with Allison and Scott at their house sometime in the next week, hugs Sally and gets groped by Kari, and watches them leave leaning next to Derek on his car.

"All right," he says, hitting Derek's shoulder with the back of his hand. "I'll see you tonight." He pushes himself off the car, takes a couple steps, then turns around to see Derek still there, watching him. "Uhh, thanks. For letting me stay at your house," He says, glancing around, grinning at the group of teenagers staring at them from inside the diner, faces practically smashed against the window.

He wants to kiss Derek. He really really wants to kiss Derek. But they're in public, and he's an actor, and things tend to get very visible very fast.

"You're welcome," Derek says, grinning. There's something in his expression, though, that seems dangerous. Like… like Derek wants to kiss him? Now? That would be… that would be interesting, if he did.

Stiles walks to his car still thinking about that, gets in, and drives—and oh, is it nice to hear the engine purr around him-back to Derek's house.

Where he immediately goes to the cupboard in the kitchen and brings out all the magazines, placing them where Derek will see. He puts the Vogue, very carefully, on Derek's pillow.

Then, jumpy and nervous and on edge, he goes on a five mile run.

The day passes slowly after that, and when Miranda calls him at four, he practically makes a dive for his phone.

"Miranda!" He crows. "What's up!?"

"Bored?" Miranda asks, obviously amused.

"Pssh." Stiles falls back down on his chair and brings his legs up to hang over the arm. "I can't be happy to hear from you? It's been—"

"-too long? Right, sure," Miranda says. "I have a couple of questions."

"Oh no." Stiles doesn't know what she wants, but her tone of voice is suspicious. He hopes no one saw the shifters in the coffee shop. Or the werewolves, for that matter. He doesn't think Miranda and Joan will—

"One, I hear from Kelly that you're looking into buying a house up there?"

"Yes," Stiles says.

"That's nice," she says. Stiles hears clicking, and assumes it's Miranda fiddling with her pen. She only does that when she's thinking about how to phrase a questions. "So I assume you've gotten past whatever made you flinch every time I mentioned going back home?"

"Yup," Stiles answers. "That I did. Did that I… did."

"No Yoda impressions, Stiles. How many times do I have to tell you I despise Yo-?"

"Not listening, everyone loves Yoda." Stiles gets his laptop from the coffee table and sets it on his lap, putting his phone on speaker and resting it on his chest.

He has officially reached new lows of laziness.

"Also, who's the hunk that I keep seeing pictures of?" Miranda asks. At first listen, it's a casual question, but Stiles hears the 'ah-ha, caught you!' behind it.

"Tha—what hunk?" he asks.

"The Deputy," she says. "The one you keep making goo-goo eyes at."

"Did you just say goo-goo eyes, Miranda?" Stiles tries to deflect.

"Stiles," Miranda says.

"He's, uh—" Fuck, he's his Derek, is what he is. He can't say that, though. "That's, uh, Derek. Derek Hale. A… friend."

"Like, a boyfriend?

"No, like a friend," Stiles says.

"Fine, a friend with benefits?" Miranda's having fun now, he can tell from the way her pen has stopped clicking.

"No, a friend-friend, why?"

"Because I'm looking at a picture of you two making out in a car," she practically sings. Oh goddamnit.

"Fuck." Stiles knew something would happen. He knew he would mess this up. Shit. He closes his laptop and squeezes his eyes shut; maybe if he shuts it all out, it'll go away?

"You can't see half of his face," Miranda says after a minute. "The pap's camera was malfunctioning, there's some weird glare thing."

"Can you…" He sighs. "Can you get Joan to take care of it?"

"I don't—"

"He's not really into the whole public eye thing," Stiles says, thinking quickly, "and this is just really new Miranda, and it would be nice to not fuck it up before—"

"Oh, so you're serious about him?"

"Shut up," Stiles moans. "Can you take care of it? I'm injured, remember? Won't that convince Joan to help?"

"It'll be fine, Stiles," Miranda says, pen clicking again. "I'll get her to do it."

"Ugh, thank you. I love you. You're a queen among queens." Stiles deflates.

"You should talk to him, though, about the pictures. Warn him," she says.

"Yeah, I will." He sighs. "Anything else?"

"Ahh, the scripts," Miranda says. "How are they coming?"

"Love 'em all," he says. "I was thinking go Earners and Shuttle in the Sky?"

"So, the Whedon one, huh?" Miranda sounds smug.

"It's a sci-fi horror." Stiles shrugs. "I like sci-fi horrors. And Earners seems… cute."

"I'll get in contact with both directors, then." He hears her writing something down. "And ask when they want you."

"Sounds good, except, you know," --Stiles scratches at the stitches on his forehead-- "remember the stitches. I need at least a couple of weeks until my face doesn't look like—"

"I got it, I got it," Miranda says. "Just concentrate on relaxing, being all normal and everything. Talk to your guy, read the scripts, get the stitches out, and don't get in to any more accidents, all right?"

"Thanks, Miranda," Stiles says.

"You're welcome," she says, and then hangs up.

Hah, normal. Right.

His life is anything but normal.

Stiles gets Sam. He doesn't like him, but he gets him. They're kind of similar, actually. The only difference is Stiles tends to internalize pain, and Sam…Sam just lets it all hang out. Taunts people with it. Dares them to confront him, to ask him what's wrong, to try to fix him. As a character, he's fascinating. As a person, he's a grade A prick.

"So," --Stiles swirls the bottle of beer he's holding before taking a sip-- "you want to save me."

"No," Tony growls. He's a convincing drunk. Stiles sucks at playing drunk. His limbs get in the way, usually.

"Then why the interest?" Stiles takes another sip, shrugs. "Don't get it, big guy."

"I'm just… you're killing yourself, Sam." Tony sighs, runs a tired hand over his face. "I don't get why."

"No reason," Stiles says. Sam has a shitty backstory; drugs, rape, violence, death, gangs, poverty, all that jazz. Stiles thinks it—the backstory—is kind of… stupid. But it works for the character. He wishes it would be a little more… unique, though. A little less predictable. "I just thought it would be fun."

"Fun?" Tony takes a swig of his beer. "Wow, you're fucked up."

Stiles watches him for a bit. "Why are you getting drunk, Doc?"

"I'm trying to get you—"

"Why are you getting drunk?" Stiles leans forward, smirks. "Are you doing it for fun? Or are you trying to forget all the shit in your life? The kids. The wife. The job. What's so wrong, doc, about your perfect life that you're sitting here with me, trying to validate yourself by saving just another drug addict? It's kind of pitiful, dude, if we're being honest with each other."

"Fuck you," Tony sighs.

"Yeah, yeah," Stiles says.

Stiles falls asleep in the chair he's dubbed his after watching Pandorum, Alien, and getting halfway through Prometheus (three on a list of about a dozen movies he's decided to watch for the sci-fi role), and wakes up to Derek flicking his nose.

Which is rude, dude. Cute, but rude.

"I'm up, I'm up, fuck," Stiles groans, slapping Derek's hand away. He grimaces when he opens his eyes, and grimaces again when he tries to get up. "What time is it?"

"After midnight," Derek says, standing over him, grinning. The fuckwad.

"Ugh." Stiles lays back down and puts an arm over his eyes. "I didn't get takeout because I fell asleep. Sorry, I—"

"I brought." Derek gestures behind him, towards the kitchen, and Stiles, despite himself, perks up.

"Are you psychic now, or something?" He eases himself up, wincing and shaking his leg out when it tingles.

"No, I got hungry and those are the leftovers," Derek says, already walking towards the kitchen.

"Fuck," Stiles says, and immediately blames it on just waking up. "You've got a nice ass."

"Why are there magazines everywhere?" Derek says, instead of answering him. Stiles catches, though, because he's getting pretty fucking awesome at reading Derek's bodily cues, the slight reddening in his cheeks and how he suddenly holds himself straighter. Heh.

"Like you," --Stiles groans when he stands, still talking normally even though Derek's in the kitchen-- "I enjoy looking at pictures of me."

There's Chinese on the kitchen counter when he walks in, and the moan he lets out is kind of vulgar. Derek grins at him, pleased, and starts unpacking the containers. Stiles helps, of course.

"How's dad?" he asks, subtly placing the chow mein on his side of the counter. It's half-empty anyway, so he figures Derek has already had enough.

"Good," Derek says, hands him a pair of chopsticks. "How was the run?"

"It's like I'm on a fuckin' neighborhood-wide watch," Stiles says through a mouthful of mushroom. And eggplant, he's pretty sure there's some eggplant in there. "Who saw me?"

"Deputy Saunders," Derek says, then starts eating, eyes on his food. Stiles… has no idea who that is. A new hire, probably. Or newish, at least.

"Uh," Stiles says, because now's a good time as any, right? To tell Derek about the picture? Pictures. Stiles doesn't actually know how many pictures there are. He knows they're going to get leaked, though. They won't get published, but in a couple of days they'll pop up on some blog. And Miranda said Derek's face was obscured, so….

Actually, Stiles should ask her to send them to him.

… for research.

He hopes Derek doesn't get too mad. It was him that started the kissing, after all. And if he does get mad, hopefully it's the kind that he can joke his way out of.

"What." Derek eyes him, probably hearing the way his heartbeat has picked up, or maybe even smelling his distress. He thinks werewolves can smell distress. It's a form of fear, right?

"Some ass took a picture of us making out in your car." He shoves a dumpling in his mouth, chews, and swallows before he continues "You did the eye thing, though, so your face wasn't detailed. It's just, uh… it was taken care of. It's not getting published, but…" Stiles keeps his eyes on the containers in front of him, eating for a couple of minutes and trying to think of a way to not make this uncomfortable.

"Stiles," Derek says.

"I'm really sorry." Stiles sighs. "I didn't even see the fucker, and it's too fuckin' early, I mean, to take this…" --he gestures between them, clears his throat-- "whatever it is, public. I mean, I'd love it. I wouldn't mind it, that is. I just, want you to know that if we keep doing this, than there's going to be… publicity."

"Are you freaking out?" Derek asks. Stiles looks up to see him chewing, thoughtfully, on a piece of asparagus, his expression… incredulous. Which is weird, Stiles was expecting the stony blank-face or something.

"Aren't you?" Stiles asks, confused. "You're a werewolf, dude, isn't it kind of bad news to be a public figure?"

"There are supernatural celebrities all over the place," Derek says, shrugging. Stiles files that revelation away for later, and tries to focus on the fact that Derek is fine with having pictures taken of him. Specifically, he is fine having pictures taken of him while he's kissing Stiles.

Stiles doesn't know what happened to Derek while he was away. Maybe it was time. Maybe it was… well, time. And acceptance. And less supernatural drama. Pack. Maybe he went to therapy, although Scott hadn't said anything about. Or, well, would Derek tell Scott about that?

No, he wouldn't.

Whatever it is made him… whole. Made him this. Didn't change him—the same Derek that Stiles had (probably not-so-secretly, now that he thinks about it) lusted after back in high school is still there—just made him happier and more Derek, if that's even possible. Maybe made him more into the person he was going to before the fire. Before Kate.

A big part of Stiles is pissed that he wasn't here to see what did it. What made him…this. A bigger part is happy that he's here now.

He looks at Derek, mouth open, eyes wide and blinking, trying to catch up and failing miserably.

"Oh," he says, and his voice is small. He growls, clears his throat, says it louder. "Oh."

"Visibility is more useful, actually," Derek says, twirling his chopsticks around in one of the containers.

"Useful?" Stiles says, his mind still reeling from Derek being okay with this. "Are you… you want to be-?"

Derek looks at him over the container for a bit, like he's contemplating something. Something emotionally exhausting, it seems, from how many times his expression changes. He rolls his eyes, finally, and sets down the container, and Stiles leans forward because he doesn't understand.

"Yes," Derek says and… and that's it. That's all he says.

"Oh come on." Stiles' shoulders sag. "You can't…you can't say that and not explain why."

There's another long pause, but this time Derek keeps his head down, and the container angled so that Stiles can't see his expression.

"I don't want to fight it," Derek says, setting down the container just as Stiles gives up and shoves another dumpling in his mouth. "I've had to fight for a lot of things, and I... "--he winces-- "I don't want to fight it."

Stiles has a bit of an internal freak-out, then. Maybe it's external, too, because he kind of…freezes, and doesn't know what to do. There are too many thoughts racing through his head. All of them, really, just different connotations of oh my god, holy shit, that was a confession, oh wow, okay, calm down, oh fuck. His eyes go wide and start to blur because he's not blinking, and the chopsticks in one of his hands end up in the carton he's holding with the other.

"You're freaking out." Derek crosses his arms and glares at him, takes a step away from the counter.

"No!" Stiles grabs at his arm. "All right, yes, but it's a good freak-out."

"A good freak-out," Derek says.

"Yes, a good freak-out. The kind where you're too happy and your brain short circuits, fucker." Stiles rubs his free hand over his face. "That shit came out of fucking nowhere, of course I'm allowed to freak-out."

"It really didn't." Derek squints his eyes.

"It did," Stiles says. "To me, it did. But, it's the same, for me. I'm glad you don't want to fight it, even though you did kind of—"

"I did, kind of." Derek shoves some stir-fry in his mouth. "But now I'm not."

"And that is very mature of you," Stiles can't help saying, "considering the Derek I knew in high school—"

"—was angry, and hurt, and kind of an asshole?" Derek says, raising an eyebrow at him.

"Not that you're not, now," Stiles adds. "Just less… emotional constipation. Which is, wow, that makes me happy, dude."

"… thanks, I think," Derek says.

They eat in silence after that. Although, really, Stiles is so caught up in his own head that he wouldn't actually categorize it as silence. His mind is a loud, loud, loud place, actually.

Most of it, right now, is dedicated to thinking how to tell Derek he wants sex. He could just, kind of, throw himself at him. He could do the awkward thing. Maybe wait until Derek is in the bathroom and then pounce. Or, he could—

"You're overthinking this," Derek interrupts, and Stiles looks up from where he's been glaring at his lap to see Derek scraping at the bottom of one of the containers. "I don't know what you're thinking about, but you're overthinking it."

"Oh," Stiles says. He has a point. "I'm just…"

"I can guess, though." Derek inhales through his nose loudly and obviously, gives him a shit-eating grin as he starts throwing away empty containers.

"Yeah, well, I'm sure if I was a werewolf I would smell it on you too," Stiles snarks. Derek's grin gets wider.

"Are you done eating?" he asks, and when Stiles nods, grabs the rest of the containers and throws them away, then wipes the counter with a bleach-wipe.

"It's domestic-wolf," Stiles muses. "The Martha Stewart for the supernatu—oh, okay, then," He stops when Derek walks around the counter to his side, pins him up against it, and kisses him. His mouth tastes like spicy chili peppers and oyster sauce, and when Stiles licks into it, his tongue burns.

"You would've smelled it," Derek murmurs—no, grumbles, because as sweet as Derek can get, he does not murmur—biting at his bottom lip. Stiles can feel the heat from the chilis making his skin tingle. Or is that stubble. No, it's the chilis. "A while ago."

"Fuck." Stiles tilts his head to the side, tries to get deeper into Derek's mouth because that burning sensation? It's kind of addictive. "When?"

Okay, maybe the semi-dirty talking is more addictive.

Derek's hands grab at his hoodie and pulls it off, then his t-shirt goes flying across the room. Stiles doesn't miss the hum Derek lets out when his eyes zoom in on the hickeys obvious on Stiles' neck and shoulders. Okay, and stomach. And hip.

"Guess," Derek hisses when Stiles starts unbuttoning his shirt, moves in to suck a sloppy trail down the side of Stiles' neck.

"Wow," Lana says, the first time she sees him after Stiles gets back to LA, "you look like shit."

"I feel," Stiles lies, "like a new man. A better man. A more badass man. A man who's going to-"

"--so, you have scars, now?" David interrupts, sitting next to Lana, eating what the dorm cafeteria dares to call macaroni and cheese.

"Yes, I have scars," Stiles says. They're actually not fully healed yet, so they're more scabs, now, than anything else. Still red and puckered and painful when he moves, even after two months in the hospital. Dad wanted him to stay for another month; he almost threw up at the idea.

"You kind of look like you've been drinking vodka for the last three months," Lana says, leaning forward, "like, just, straight up, bottle after bottle. Impressive."

"I…" Stiles frowns. "Thank you?"

He looks like shit, actually, because he hasn't been sleeping, not, necessarily, because his chest aches every time he moves. He looks like shit because when he closes his eyes, tries to sleep, the nightmares hit him hard and fast and don't let him go until he contemplates how insane he would go if he never slept again. Because when he stays awake, he thinks the shadows are moving, and not even two rings of wolfsbane around his room make the paranoia go away.

He'll get better, eventually, he knows, but right now, he feels like shit. So it kind of makes sense that he looks like it too.

"So your professors are letting you make up all the work? You missed the first month and a half of the semester. What'd you do, give them all oral?" David, always so classy, asks.

"I got two to give me a project to make up for the missed assignments; the other four said all they could do was let me drop without a failing grade," Stiles shrugs. "So I'm, technically, enrolled half-time until next semester."

"That's gonna suck come fall," Lana says.

"Meh," Stiles says. Considering what his Christmas was like, it's not going to suck that much. "I'll deal."

"When I—" Stiles is gasping, out of breath, skin on fire as Derek pins him up against the bedroom door, his lips on the circle of scar tissue over his sternum, one hand scrabbling for the door knob and the other rubbing over where Stiles' dick is only covered by briefs. "--kept trying to get you to wolf out?"

"Earlier," Derek says. It's what he's been saying since he told Stiles to guess. God, games like this make Stiles hot.

Not that he's actually ever done anything like this. A good ninety percent of his sexual experience has been sweaty and desperate and serious. Not this… not whatever this is, this thin line between teasing and flirting and fun and almost dangerous.

And fuck, is it a turn on.

Or maybe that's Derek. Or both. Probably both.

His jeans are somewhere at the bottom of the stairs, and Derek's pants and undershirt are strewn over the dining room table and the railing at the stop of the stairwell, respectively.

His dick is hard; Derek's dick is hard, and he really hopes that, by the time they go to sleep, he will have been in Derek, or Derek will have been in him. Either way, really. He has no preference, at the moment. Or, more accurately, he very very much wants both scenarios to happen as soon as possible.

"The coffee—fuck—shop," Stiles gets out, just as the bedroom door swings inwards, and he goes flailing back a step or two, until Derek grabs his wrist and pulls him back.

"Earlier," he mouths at Stiles' ear and herds him backwards. Stiles gets his hand under Derek's briefs, grabs at his ass, and pulls him until he can full the hot line of Derek's cock against his. It's a good feeling.

Derek lets out a surprised breath, hot and wet, over his cheek, teeth scraping against his cheekbone, and picks him up. Oh god, he just… he grabs at Stiles' back and kind of throws him down on the bed. Which, apparently, they're standing right over, so it's not so much of a throw as a… plop.

He watches, unable to keep the shit-eating grin off his face, his legs splayed wide and ungraceful, as Derek goes over to the nightstand and opens the drawer, pulling out lube and a pack of condoms. His gaze flicks over something shiny on Derek's pillow, and he laughs, grabbing the Vogue magazine he had placed there earlier today.

"When you saw this?" he asks, flipping to his photo shoot just as Derek tosses the lube and condoms on the bed and crawls to sit on his thighs, fingers already pulling down his briefs, gaze amused and turned-on as it goes between the page Stiles is holding up and Stiles' dick.

"Scott told you," Derek says. "Fucker."

"Am I right?" Stiles crows, sitting up and leaning back on his hands, watching, with interest, as Derek pulls Stiles' briefs the rest of the way off, then kneels to push his own down.

Fuck, Stiles loves it when Derek's naked.

Clothes are stupid, anyway.

Oh, wow, clothes are really stupid, because Derek is on top of him, and his skin is velvety smooth fucking perfection, hot to the touch and just… everywhere.

"Earlier," Derek whispers in his ear, obviously having fun. He moves down, sucking hickeys on his chest, on his ribs, his stomach, his hip-bones, fuck, the inside of his thigh.

"Are you—" Stiles goes silent when his dick is suddenly surrounded by wet, hot, warmth, looks down and groans. Derek's mouth is around his dick. There is a mouth around his dick and it is Derek's. And wow, does it look good there. Wet and red and stretched and - his hips jerk up off the mattress, and Derek grabs at his thighs, digs his blunt fingernails into muscle to keep him still.

Stiles may or may not keen at that, his fingers and toes digging into the mattress under him.

Blowjobs, he thinks dumbly to himself, are awesome.

"Derek," he says, forgetting what he was going to say even as he opens his mouth. Derek looks up at him at that, his mouth curving into a grin around Stiles' dick, and Stiles moans, which makes Derek moan, which makes the breath get caught in Stiles' chest.

"I wanna fuck you," he gasps out, loud and fast so he doesn't forget it a second time, thinking about anything and everything innocuous to keep himself from coming and cutting this short. "I don't—"

Derek's mouth is suddenly on his neck, and Stiles, when he gets his brain back, grabs at the back of his head, taking Derek's silence as agreement, and scrambles until he's straddling Derek's thighs, already out of breath.

"Lube," --Derek looks around, finds the lube, and throws it at his face-- "condo—"

"Stop throwing shit at me!" Stiles catches the lube, and the box of condoms hits him in the shoulder. He's laughing, though, because Derek's expression is a mix of smug and desperate, and that is hot.

"You still haven't guessed," Derek says, his breath hitching when Stiles slides down, pushing Derek's legs apart so he can kneel in between them, and licks at Derek's cock.

"Don't care, better things to do," Stiles grunts, mouth moving over smooth skin as he blindly squirts lube into his hand. "I'll guess after."


"I don't know." Stiles head snaps up, and he glares up at where Derek is looking at him, eyebrows raised, head pillowed on his arms. If his dick wasn't hard and leaking pre-come, he would look unimpressed and relaxed. As it is, he looks like he's trying too hard to look cool. Douchebag. "After… after this. Shut up and tilt your hips—oh wow, yeah, that's good," Stiles ends on a croak, as Derek's legs come around his waist and his hips tilt up.

"Any day now," Derek says, when Stiles stares for too long.

In Stiles' defense, it's not every day one of your sexual fantasys turns out to be real life, so he thinks he's due for a good minute or so to, at the very least, catch up.

"Fuck that's nice," he hears himself say, his voice loopy. His hand goes around his dick, thumb flicking over the tip, almost lazily, almost too caught up in imagining how it's going to feel inside Derek to actually—

"Stiles, serio—"

"Okay, okay," Stiles says, laughing. He looks down, circling his finger around Derek's hole until Derek actually growls, and then, slowly, he pushes it in, clenching his jaw as Derek lets out a string of cuss words. His back arches, he pushes back, tries to fuck himself on Stiles' finger.

And that's nice. The noises Derek makes while Stiles opens him up, with plenty of lube and slow, searching strokes of his fingers, are fantastic. But when Derek growls, deep in his throat, his foot hitting up against Stiles' back in a knee-jerk response, when his eyes, for a fraction of a section, glow red and he lets out this broken noise in the back of his throat, Stiles' hard-won stamina and self-discipline go out the window, and he realizes he has to either get in Derek now or come all over the inside of his thighs.

Actually, the latter doesn't sound too bad, but considering that he's been opening Derek up for a good ten minutes, and that his right hand is covered in lube and sweat, and that he really really really wants to get all up in that, it would suck.

So, Stiles concentrates on opening one of the condoms with fingers that are clumsy and shaky from adrenaline and endorphins, rolling it over his dick, and then letting his hands run idly up and down Derek's flanks as he watches Derek watching him.

"How do you want it?" he asks, and his voice is rough, guttural, needy. "Like this, or… on your knees, or…?

"I would've told you before you starte—" Derek snipes, but Stiles shuts him up with a sigh and a wave of his hand.

"All right, all right, diva, just…" Stiles grins down at him. "Bite the pillow, I'm goin' in—"

"Seriously, Sti—" Derek starts, stutters when Stiles lines himself up, using his free hand to grip at the inside of Derek's knee, and pushes in, his mouth going slack and his eyes squeezing shut against the sudden onslaught of tight and slick and smooth.

"Oh," Stiles says, watching Derek squirm under him. His skin is shiny with sweat, and his teeth are worrying at his bottom lip as he stares back at Stiles, looking just as gobsmacked as Stiles feels.

Maybe it's because he hasn't had sex (sex-sex, that is, not blowjobs or handjobs or desperate sessions of frottage) in more than six months, but Stiles doesn't remember it feeling like this. He doesn't remember it getting so…overwhelming so soon. He hasn't even started moving yet, and it's like all of his central nervous system has moved to where his dick is inside Derek.

Derek's legs are spread open, wrapped around him, muscles bunching and stretching. His hand-the one not grasping at the underside of Derek's thigh—moves to where Derek is holding his cock, and Stiles wraps his hand around it, starts to jerk him slow and steady.

Stiles pushes in, a little more, watching as Derek's eyes flutter and then burn.

"You can let go--" Stiles pulls out a little, seeing how Derek's jaw goes slack as he does, and feeling the hand around his cock tighten. "--if you want."

"What." Derek's eyes snap to him, and Stiles starts thrusting, but only because he really can't stop himself anymore. If he had any game whatsoever, he would try to take Derek apart. Tease him, get him to beg, But he doesn't, so he just concentrates on not screwing up.

"Teeth, eyes, claws, the whole werewolf shtick," Stiles gasps out, leans forward to get his forearms on either side of Derek's head, licking and biting a trail up Derek's neck, moaning when Derek grabs his ass, pulls him in deeper almost violently.

"I don't need to," Derek says, his voice stuttering in and out with each thrust of Stiles' hips. "I'm not some bitte—"

"It would be hot." Stiles balances his weight on one forearm and reaches down until his hand finds Derek's cock, slaps Derek's hand out of way to replace it with his own. He trails hot, wet, sloppy kisses down Derek's neck until he gets to his shoulder and bites.

"N-not tonight," Derek pushes down, lets out a surprised noise when Stiles lifts his hips to get a new angle. "Fuck, Stiles, there. Do that, again."

Stiles does what he's told, only because the words not tonight are bouncing around in his head and delivering a whole shitload of promises.

"Fuck," Stiles says, suddenly that much closer to coming. Everything feels tight, feels white and hot, and there's almost too much sensation. It's just shy of painful, and it keeps on getting more and more and fucking more the longer he keeps thrusting, and then Derek licks into his mouth and starts sucking on his tongue, and he comes with a desperate moan caught in the back of his throat.

His dick slips out of Derek with a filthy noise, eventually. That is, after Stiles stops thrusting his hips erratically, too caught up in his own nerve-endings to care about finesse. Then he's just left resting his forehead on Derek's shoulder, breathing hard against his chest.

When he can actually think, he realizes that Derek is thrusting into his hand, making these sub-vocal whining noises that sound like they're coming from his gut. He watches for a second or two, still breathing hard and unable to think in complete sentences, then rears up, scoots down, and sucks Derek's cock into his mouth.

He's actually never given a blowjob to someone with an uncircumcised dick before. It's… different. Not bad different. Hell no, fucking great different. Because the noises Derek makes when he laves his tongue over the slit at the top, when he takes as much of him in his mouth as he can and starts licking and sucking and bobbing up and down and—

"Stiles," Derek says, and Stiles looks up to see that he's being watched. Derek's mouth is open, labored breathing making his chest rise and fall, his hands grabbing at the pillow behind him, his eyes half-mast and sex-glazed. Stiles groans, watching as Derek's head falls back, as his back arches and his arms curl in over his chest, as he comes.

He pulls off when he can't swallow anymore, licking up the underside of Derek's cock and watching as come spurts out, pools on Derek's abs and dribbles down his thighs.

"Wow," Stiles says, kind of unable to move. The condom is still on his dick, he realizes, somewhat banally, and he should really get it off. He's kneeling between Derek's splayed legs, his arms heavy at his sides, suddenly exhausted. All he can do is watch Derek stare up at the ceiling, then watch Derek's hand, almost idly, travel down to wipe at the come on his stomach.

Derek looks up at him, eventually, eyebrows raised.

"Are you just going to kneel there all night, or…?" Derek asks, his voice rough.

"Primadonna," Stiles says, under his breath, as he climbs off the bed and walks to the bathroom, pulling off the condom on the way and tying it off. He throws it away, then grabs a couple of towels, gets them damp—inspecting the stubble burn and fresh hickeys he's acquired in the mirror as he does so—then walks back out into the bedroom wiping himself off.

He makes sure to aim for Derek's head when he throws the other towel, but even with his eyes closed, Derek manages to grab it out of the air.

Stiles collapses on the free side of the bed, shoulder to shoulder with Derek, after he tosses his towel… somewhere. He doesn't know where. He's too tired to know where.

Something digs into his back when he starts wiggling to get comfy, and he reaches under to pull whatever it—oh, the magazine.

"Here," he says, tosses it on Derek's chest, eyes catching on where the towel is disappearing between Derek's legs. "Spank bank materi—ow." He glares when Derek's hand grabs at his face blindly.

"Don't need it," Derek says, glancing over at him, his face morphing into a feral grin. "I've got the real thing."

"You're weird," Stiles says,

"You like weird," Derek mocks.


Stiles is drawing a blank. He's on live television, standing on stage in front of hundreds of actors and directors and writers, and there are lights in his face, and his suit is suddenly clinging to him because he's sweating so much, and holy fuck, there's an Oscar in his right hand.

"Uh," he says, eloquently. "I, uh—this is unexpected, guys. You sure you said the right name?"

There are a couple of laughs at that, which helps him relax… a bit. He searches the crowd for his dad, and sees him slouched in his seat, hand over his eyes.

"There are a shi—a boat-load of people I should thank for this, but, honestly, my head is like" --he mimics an explosion with his hands-- "so I'll try to get to some, at least." He takes another breath, laughs nervously. "So, there's dad, Scott buddy, and the rest of the pack, I guess, for keeping me alive, or almost, my agent Miranda and her boss, Joan, Kelly. Uhh, everyone involved in Complicated—Rick, Grace, Dean, other people I can't remember your names right now, I'm sorry. The academy, of course. Everyone else that I've forgotten and, uh..." Stiles scratches the back of his head, squints. "Mom. Thank you, and I miss you, and I love you."

He steps back from the microphone, the audience starts applauding, and Chloe—the one who presented him with the statue—hugs him, kisses his cheek, and then not-so gently pulls him off the stage.

Chapter Text

"So," the Sheriff says, "you're together."

Of course, Stiles thinks, dad would wait until neither of them could escape until he sprang the relationship talk on them. It doesn't matter that Stiles is an adult, that Stiles is perfectly capable, thank you very much, of—

"Yes." Derek crosses his arms, then, just as quickly, uncrosses them, looking anywhere but at the Sheriff, his expression uncomfortable.

And of course, Stiles thinks, they would be having this discussion in the Sheriff's office. The man is nothing if not sneaky. Or, well, Stiles likes to think he is. Because if he isn't, nothing can explain how he had convinced Stiles that he had actually wanted Stiles to bring him in a salad from the vegan place down the road. Nothing.

"I figured as much, in the hospital," the Sheriff says, leaning back in his chair, a smug smile on his face. Stiles keeps his eyes narrowed; he has to have an angle. Dad always has an angle.

"If that's—if that's all right with—"

"Derek,"--the Sheriff raises an eyebrow-- "really? You're just here so I can make my son feel guilty about not telling me sooner."

"Oh," Derek says, suddenly much less tense. Stiles, meanwhile, makes a noise of disgust.

"Figures," he mutters.

"Figures?" The Sheriff grins. "Figures that I had to find out my son was dating my deputy from a gossip rag? Is that what you mean by figures, son?"

"What, where?" Stiles leans forward. No one had told him anything about—

The Sheriff sighs. "I can't lord this over you if you pretend to not know what I'm talking about, Stiles."

"I don't know what you're talking about!" Stiles says. "Where are the pictures? What site? Miranda never told me anything."

"Here." The Sheriff goes on his computer, clicks a few things, then turns it around to show him.

"Who's The Hot Cop?" Stiles reads the headline out loud. "What assholes." He turns to Derek, who's frowning at the picture of them kissing in front of Faeme and Fortune. It's from yesterday. "You're obviously in a deputy uniform."

"Obviously," Derek agrees, still frowning.

"Were you on your lunch break, Deputy?" The Sheriff asks, eyebrows raised.

"Yes…" Derek says. "I ran in to Stiles at the coffee shop. We were saying goodbye." Derek's jaw hardens, gets a little stubborn, but he doesn't say anything else.

"And you're not… worried about this?" The Sheriff asks, waving his hand around the laptop screen.

"No?" Derek says, like he's not sure if the Sheriff wants him to be worried about it or not.

"Yeah, dad, he's the one that said we should—"

"It's better," Derek interrupts, a little too quickly to look anything but panicked, "to be visible. People will know that Stiles—"

"Holy fuck," Stiles says, "so you're like, staking your claim or something?"

"Stiles," his dad says, sounding pained, "that's not-- I don't think—"

"Yes," Derek says, giving Stiles a… a look. An intense look. One that makes Stiles want to strip his clothes off and repeat what they've been doing for the past four nights that Stiles has been staying over at Derek's. Not here, of course, though.

"Oh come on--" The Sheriff sounds disappointed. "--not… stop with the eyes. Sheesh."

"It'll be safer," Derek says, mulishly, turning to look at the Sheriff, "for all of us, not just Stiles. If we're connected to an actor, anything that messes with any of us…"

"… will be in the public eye," dad finishes, smiling. "Good thinking, Derek."

"So it's not because you're a territorial ass?" Stiles asks.

"Ugh, not in my office. Leave, and you're coming to dinner tonight, both of you. Melissa brought over lasagna yesterday, and if I eat any more I'm going to—"

"Right, right," --Stiles waves him off as he stands-- "eat the salad. It's the least you could do since you called me in here under false pretense."

"If I eat the salad, it won't be under false pretense, Stiles," the Sheriff says, idly, already turning his laptop around.

"Stiles," Peter says, "you're looking well."

Stiles turns from where he's watching Boyd and Derek wrestling with each other over… something to look at Peter.

Fuck, the guy still creeps him out. With that goddamned saccharine smile and glittering eyes and, really, why does Derek let him hang around again?

Oh right, because he's the only family Derek has left.

well, that must suck.

"Peter," Stiles says. "Still as fuckin' creepy as ever."

"Oh, come on, Stiles, we're past that." Peter leans on the wall next to him and crosses his arms over his chest. "No one even told me you were back in town for the holidays."

Stiles is getting a vibe. A bad vibe. A vibe that's telling him to walk away and never speak to Peter again. Or, well, he's been getting that vibe ever since the dude kidnapped him in sophomore year, but still, he's learned to pay attention to his intuition.

"Derek," he says, not even bothering to raise his voice, "your uncle is even creepier than he was before. Have you been letting him off the leash or something?"

"Dog jokes, Stiles?" Peter says, while Derek just ignores him, throws Boyd against a stack of wooden crates. "You're above them."

"No, Peter, I'm really not," Stiles says.

"Apparently," Stiles says, ten hours later, splayed out on Derek's couch, staring at the ceiling, "my name, along with "hot deputy" has been typed into Google more than five hundred thousand times today."

He's a little flustered, because Miranda keeps sending him links to the latest articles about him and the 'mystery man.' Who's not a mystery anymore—the article that had revealed Derek's named had been published six hours ago, while Derek was still at work.

"Interesting." Derek, who's sitting next to him, with Stiles legs over his lap, is watching some b-rated sci-fi movie.

"Some people don't think you're a deputy," Stiles continues.

"… what do they think I am?" Derek asks.

"An actor. A model. One said you looked like one of the strippers they had perform at their bachelorette party."

"Really?" Derek seems interested.

"Were you a stripper?" Stiles tilts his chin down to grin at Derek. "That would explain so much."

"Fuck off," Derek says, sinking deeper into the cushions and closing his eyes.

Something in Stiles' chest—oh god, and even in his head that sounds ridiculously fucking corny—starts to ache. He can't, it's just—how is this so easy? Where's the angst? The indecision? The fucking miscommunication? He doesn't know why, but it just feels so good—too good, that is—to be whatever he's being with Derek. It's natural. Too natural.

Just, like, one second, they're friends, and now… now it's more. Fuckin' a lot more. It's… it's going to bed with him and waking up next to him and eating fucking breakfast with him. And the sex, oh, there's a lot of sex.

In the past four days he's.. .yeah, he's had a lot of sex. On Saturday, alone, he feels like he should've won some sort of medal. A medal for a sex marathon. Or at least a half-marathon. Maybe a 10K.

It's just… it's so easy, and so natural, and so strangely fucking normal that it makes something in Stiles' gut hurt.

It's a good hurt, though, the type that clenches at your insides and makes you feel terrifyingly happy, so he doesn't mind it.

For now, he thinks, it's fine ignoring it. Ignoring how quickly they became… this (but really, a little part of him argues, has it been quick and fast? Or has it just been stewing like this since you were in high school?).

"You're a loud thinker," Derek says, and something dark hits up against Stiles' good mood. Something that reminds him of cold concrete and blood, so much blood, and Peter.

"Peter said that," is out of his mouth before he can stop it, "back… then."

Derek tenses, looks down at Stiles. The hand that's grasping at his ankle tightens.

"I'm sor—"

"No, keep saying it," Stiles hurries to clarify, kicks at his chest lightly. "It's good when you say it."

There's silence, and Stiles cringes. Okay, so maybe it's not easy. Maybe they're both just ignoring the shitload of issues they have yet to talk about. Like Peter. And Kate. And Derek's family. And Stile's mom. And, maybe, they should figure out when they started not hating each other.

Not now, though.

"I'm glad you left, back then," Derek says, ten minutes later, just as Stiles' eyes are starting to feel heavy. "I'm glad you got out."

"I'm back now, though." Stiles digs his heels into Derek's thigh, closes his eyes.

"Undamaged," Derek says, and his voice is… wry, "relatively, at least. That Falling Backwards movie was kind of horri—"

"Romantic comedies are sincere forms of art, dick," Stiles says, then opens his eyes and sits up, keeping his legs in Derek's lap.

"If we're trading confessions," Stiles starts. "I'm glad you're less of an asshole than you were in high school."

"Very funny." Derek gives him a withering look.

"It's true!" Stiles sits up, leaving his legs in Derek's lap, punching him in the shoulder for emphasis. "You're all grown up and—"

"--Don't say it—"

"—responsible, now," Stiles finishes.

"And you're slightly less of an idiot," Derek says.

Stiles scoffs. "I'm a brilliant actor, dude."

Derek grins. On TV, someone starts screaming, and Stiles turns his head to watch one of the main characters get torn apart by ghouls. Fuckin' ghouls, man, he thinks.

"Back then," Derek says, once the ghouls have moved on, and the screen cuts to what is supposed to be an artistic shot of a lone eyeball watching them go. Stiles turns to look at him, sees that his eyes are still on the screen. "I could smell you."

"Oh?" Stiles laughs.

"I wanted you too," Derek says. Stiles… Stiles doesn't know where this is going.

"That…" --Stiles winces-- "would've ended badly?"

Derek smiles, but it's not a happy smile, and nods. "For more than a couple of reasons."

"Yeah," Stiles says, after he thinks about it.

"Kate," Derek spits out. "Peter. Hell, me."

Stiles blinks. "Do you still—?"

"I'm always going to blame myself for that, Stiles." Derek sinks into the cushions, looks up at the ceiling. "Among… other things. I just… it's less than it was back then. Everything's less… painful."

"Peter," Stiles says with a grimace. "You blame yourself for—"

"He almost killed you, Stiles." Derek looks at him, finally. He taps Stiles' shoulder, over his scars, and trails his finger down, to his sternum. "And I—"

"He didn't," Stiles says. "He didn't kill me. And I left, and yeah, it took some time, and maybe I could've handled—no, I definitely could've handled it better, but I got past it, and you got past—"

"—I just got tired of being angry," Derek says, then grins, leans forward to rest his head on Stiles' shoulder. "Learned to roll with the punches."

"You shouldn't need to roll with the punches." Stiles grips onto the sides of Derek's t-shirt, buries his head in the curve of Derek's neck. "You deserve to be happy."

There's a pause, and Stiles feels Derek smiling against his shoulder.

"I'm happy that you left," Derek says, just as someone screams on the screen. Stiles glances to see that the ghouls have invaded… a high school. "And I'm happy that you're back."

"You—god, Derek," --Stiles laughs a little desperately-- "you're fuckin' ridiculous."

"You're still weird," Derek murmurs. Fuck, that's definitely a murmur.

"You like weird, asshole," Stiles says.

"Hi, my question is for Mr. Stilinski." The dude in the Deadpool costume has a French accent that Stiles wishes he could mimic. He sucks at French accents. "Did you read the Jason Todd arc when you were a kid, or are you doing it now?"

"Oh, good question," Christopher, the director, says, eyeing Stiles.

Stiles laughs, and it sounds nervous, but only because he's at Comic-Con. And not only is he at Comic-Con, he's a celebrity at Comic-Con, sitting at a fucking table in front of hundreds of comic-enthusiasts, being subtly grilled on his dedication to the role of the Red Hood.


"I read them when I was in middle school, I think it was around there," Stiles says into the microphone. "Confession; I downloaded them because I'm a horrible person." The audience laughs at that. "I actually had to buy them again, though, after my agent told me about the role."

"What about," French-Deapool asks, "Jason Todd and the Outlaws?"

"The art, dude, is beautiful," Stiles says. "but they kind of… over-sexualize Starfire? I don't know, I kind of like crazy Red Hood more than somewhat-redeemed Red Hood. I'm good at acting crazy. Also, there are no aliens in this movie. At least, not that I know of."

"… which begs the question," the moderator jokes, "are you really acting, Mr. Stilinski?"

"You don't like it," Stiles says, two weeks later. Next to him, Derek is standing stiff. His jaw is clenched, his eyebrows are furrowed, and his hands are in fists at his sides. He doesn't look angry, per say, more like… frustrated? Uncomfortable? A little bored?

"It's fine," Derek says, "better than the last place."

"Oh." Betty—the realtor—sidles up to them from where she's fiddling with one of the window latches. "Much better, Mr. Hale. Floor to ceiling windows with, might I say, a magnificent view. That balcony alone is worth the investment. As I've said, the kitchen has all state of the art—"

"Betty," Stiles interrupts, motions around him at the apartment, "could we… look around?"

"Of course, Mr. Stilinski." Betty beams at them, and Stiles sighs, meandering his way down the hall and into the master bedroom. He's in the master bath when Derek catches up, fiddling with the sink.

"Dude," he says, low, in case Betty is listening in, "are you nervous because it's the full moon tomorrow? What's wrong? Does something smell bad? It's a pretty coo—"

"It's fine, Stiles," Derek says, and then walks out of the bathroom before Stiles can annoy him into telling the truth.

Derek is definitely lying, and Stiles…

Yeah, okay, Stiles might actually know why he's doing this. Because this is the sixth place Stiles has looked at (the second time that Derek has come with him), and it's the sixth time Derek has given him that self-loathing, angry at the world glare.

The one that's equal parts Blue Steel (and oh god, why is it only now that Stiles is realizing that Zoolander's first name is Derek!?) and kicked-puppy.

And Stiles can be… dense, sometimes. But this is a fuckin' pattern, and Stiles is the son of a Sheriff, so he has some experience with patterns. He takes a second to calm himself down, then walks out of the bathroom and down the hall to see that Betty has somehow cornered Derek, and is explaining why the owner had opted for a sixteen feet ceiling instead of a second story.

"Betty." Stiles scrunches his nose as he approaches, shrugs. "I don't think it's really my style."

"… oh." Betty's face falls. "Well, I'm sure I'll be able to find some more options for you in the next week, Mr. Stilinski," she says.

"Yeah, I'll call you," Stiles says, biting the inside of his cheek when Derek stiffens.

"I… have another client interested, anyway," Betty says. "We have a meeting in an hour, so—"

"Right!" Stiles grabs Derek's shoulder, starts pushing him towards the foyer. "We'll be going, then."

"O—of course," Betty says, forlornly.

Stiles waits until the elevator is just about to get to the ground floor before he turns to look at Derek.

"I'm not going to move in with you," he says, and Derek's eyes go wide, betrayed for a second. He hunches, takes a step back to press himself into the corner, "unless you ask me. Also, I thought we were past the 'I'm-speaking-to-you-with-my-mind-why-aren't-you-doing-what-I-want-you-to thing. Communication, dude, it's a cool thing. "

Stiles grins when Derek's eyes widen for an entirely different reason, and, when the elevator doors open, he gets out, and starts walking towards his car.

He's opening the lobby door when Derek catches up.

"It's kind of stupid to buy a place," Derek says as they walk to the car, all feigned nonchalance, "you should just move in with me."

Outwardly, Stiles shrugs. Inwardly, he does a not-so-little victory dance. "Sounds good," he says. "I'm keeping my Darth Vader statue, though."

"I'm telling you, Scott, there's something familiar about it," Stiles says.

"What, the smell?" Scott, who, like Stiles, is holding his sleeve over his nose, looks up from where he's grimacing at the decaying corpse at their feet. "All dead bodies smell strangely similar, Stiles, seeing as they're dead."

"No, not the smell, wolf-boy, the… the way it's laid out, and how it's heart is gone. I don't know, It's just—"

"Have you seen something like this, before, Stiles?" The Sheriff, hands on his hips, asks. "Because you know what I say about patterns…"

"No, it just--" Stiles looks down at the body. There's something about it. Something he can't place. Something that seems really fucking familiar. "It seems familiar."

"Are you sure?" Derek asks, kneeling down and sniffing. His face goes white, then green, and he stands up, walks to the edge of the clearing, gagging.

"I just—the claw marks are obviously werewolf," --Stiles points with his free hand at the marks crisscrossing the body's chest-- "and they're not in a triskelion, Derek, but that's definitely a fucking 'x-marks the spot.' Whoever did this is playing."

"Or it's just another rogue Alpha," --Scott gives Stiles a look--"who got a little too enthusiastic?"

"… and decided he wanted to eat a heart? Seems a bit less rogue and a bit more of a nutjob," Stiles says.

"I'll call it in, Sheriff," Derek says, walking back towards them. He looks at Scott. "You go home. Take Stiles."


"Go," the Sheriff says.

"Holy fuck," Stiles says, when, after Isaac finally leaves on the full moon, Derek picks him up and pins him up against the wall, starts ripping off his clothes. "Warn a guy next time!"

"I've been eye-fucking you all night," Derek grumbles. His eyes flash red when he kisses into Stiles' mouth, quick and dirty. "I'm pretty sure that's all the warning I'm capable of right now."

"I know." Stiles grabs at Derek's hair, pulls as he wraps his legs around Derek's torso. "I'm fuckin' irresistible."

"It's the full moon, I'm… twitchy," Derek says. "I should be distracted."

"I'm… I'm fine with that," Stiles says, looking down at him. Derek's ears are pointy, as are his teeth. His nose is doing that permanently scrunched thing that only happens when he's going to go Beta soon. He knows that Derek is only shifted because he wants to be—the dude's a born werewolf, he was born with the self-discipline of a drill instructor. "So if we could get a move on. Making out is great, really, but—"

"Shut up," Derek says and… oh, Stiles has never heard Derek's voice go that low before.

"I think I saw this in a porno—ah—once," Stiles says, in between Derek licking into his mouth, "something about a delivery guy and a bad joke about Twinkies."

"Hostess went bankrupt, remember?" Derek mumbles. "Take my jeans off, my arms are full."

Stiles grins and fiddles with Derek's jeans until they're around his ankles. He doesn't have underwear on, the fucker. "You went commando."

"Felt like it." Derek presses sharp teeth up against his jaw. Stiles feels Derek's face shifting against his neck, reaches up to feel the bones and muscle knit together. "Your fuckin' skin, I swear—"

"Lube, fuck Derek, stop talking, I thought werewolves were supposed to be broody and sile—fuck," Stiles hisses when Derek grabs his ass, squeezes.

"Pocket," Derek grunts. "Lube is in—"

"Are you kidding? God, I thought you were supposed to be seducing me. This isn't—let me down, I need to get the, ok, that works too—" Stiles says when Derek lowers himself to his knees, still pinning Stiles against the wall, so that he's kneeling on the floor, and Stiles is straddling him.

Stiles scrambles until he can grab Derek's jeans, gasping as Derek starts licking him. Full on, broad sweeps of his tongue, over Stiles' neck and his shoulders, over his lips and then in his mouth. He moans when Derek's teeth catch his bottom lip, pull, and lets out a noise of triumph when his hand closes around a bottle.

"I can't—fuck—believe you had—that, again, do that again—lube in your pocket," Stiles manages to get out, even as Derek grabs for it, mouth latched on to Stiles' nipple, sucking and biting and licking.

"Condom?" Derek asks, squeezing the lube out with one hand. Stiles pauses.

"I didn't—" He blinks, then forgets what he was saying when Derek's finger pushes in, hitting his head against the wall when he arches his back. "Ow, fuck, there wasn't… lemme just—"

He forgets what he was going to do when Derek licks into his mouth again, arching so that his and Derek's cocks are as lined up as they're going to get. Which isn't much, because he's half-straddling Derek, half pinned to the wall, so it's more like Derek's cock is hitting up against his balls.

He can deal, though.

Stiles gets a hand around Derek, and he moans into Stiles' mouth, starts thrusting, slow and erratic, up into it. Every time he moves, his cock hits up against Stiles', sending waves of sensation up Stiles' spine.

"I'm clean," Stiles manages to say, after maybe a thousand years of Derek opening him up, rubbing his wolfed-out face wherever he can reach, of getting his skin licked and bitten and sucked. "I, uh, got tes—"

"I know," Derek croaks out, his eyes going red and his nostrils flaring for just a second. "I would smell it if you were sick, idiot."

"Well, unless you don't want—"

"There was no condom," Derek interrupts, punctuating his sentence by pulling his fingers out and wiping them on...

"Hey, those jeans were designer!" Stiles whines. He kisses him, smiling, though, when Derek starts laughing. A full-bellied laugh that should seem out of place, but isn't.

"I can get one, if you want." Derek is only watching though, as Stiles pushes himself off the wall, gets it so that Derek's cock is settled in between his ass cheeks.

"I'm good if you're good, Zoolander," Stiles says. "Or, well, at the moment not so mu-huh-chuh—fuck." Stiles is interrupted as Derek just... pulls him forward with one hand, grabs his cock with the other, and pushes in. He leans back, after a second of breathing hard, getting used to the feeling of Derek's cock stretching him open. "That's, uh—"

"Too fast?" Derek murmurs, nipping at his neck almost casually, although his face is even more wolfy than before, and those are definitely claws digging into Stiles' back. "Sorry, I—"

"Start moving any day now." Stiles leans forward, bites at Derek's lips, shivers as his stubble rasps against Stiles' jaw and neck. He wraps his hand around his dick, starts jerking in time with Derek's thrusts when he finally does start moving.

The wall bumps painfully against his shoulder blades with each thrust, but it's pittance in comparison to how fucking good the rest of him feels. His skin is flushed and hot, tingling as Derek's hands go everywhere, as he peppers hot, open-mouthed kisses on Stiles' face and shoulders, bites at his jaw and his lip. He murmurs out half-realized sexy, dirty, filthy things, made sexier and filthier because he can't seem to form enough words to make a sentence, just ends up snarling or growling or snuffling into Stiles' neck.

Stiles votes for half-wolfed out sex more often, and he may actually say that out loud, because Derek growls approvingly, pulls out, and flips him, moves so that Stiles is on his hands and knees, and Derek is covering him, fucking mounting him, lining himself up with one hand and raking the claws of his other hand down Stiles' spine.

"Holy fuck," Stiles sputters out when Derek pushes in, then again when he starts thrusting. Deep, long, unforgiving thrusts that push Stiles across the carpet until he grabs at the wall with one hand to brace himself. Other than that, Stiles kind of…loses the ability to function.

Derek keeps making these… animalistic noises. Little huffs and snuffles, the occasional rumbling growl, snarls and hums that start in his throat and travel all the way to where he's buried in Stiles. And, fuck are they amazing. Stiles can't—he can't stop the noises that come out of his own mouth; whimpers and moans and, when Derek changes the angle ever so slightly and starts hitting up against his prostate every couple of thrusts, the fucking keening.

He abandons his grip on the wall when Derek's hands grab at his hips, his fingers digging in to the skin hard enough that Stiles knows he's going to have bruises tomorrow. Maybe even scabs, if the sharp prinpricks he's feeling are Derek's claws.

Oh god, he thinks with a whimper, why is that such a turn on?

His cheek hits the floor when he scrambles to grab his dick, and he shifts to rest his forehead on his forearm, whimpers when he gets a hold of himself, starts jerking.

Derek drapes himself over Stiles, and that… that makes it so that every time he thrusts into Stiles, his cock goes deep. Fuck, so fucking deep. Stiles can't--

Derek starts biting at the back of his neck, at his shoulders. He bites a trail down his shoulder blades, snarling out words that Stiles is too gone to even try to understand. When he comes, with a particularly vicious thrust, he latches onto the back of Stiles' neck, breathes out a shaky moan against his skin.

"Fuck, Derek," Stiles grounds out, bites at his own forearm as he keeps beating off. Almost lazily, Derek's hand comes around, slaps his away, and starts doing it for him. He licks and bites and kisses down Stiles' back, replaces his now flaccid dick with a couple of fingers (thankfully, de-clawed, for fuck's sake).

Stiles comes, moaning long and low and then collapsing right there on the floor, jizz making his dick and stomach sticky.

"Oh my god," Stiles says, blinking. Derek collapses half on top of him, snuffling his own agreement.

"That was hot," he says next. Derek skims a hand up his side. Stiles glances back to see that he's still wolfed out, but… but Stiles has never seen him look so fucking satisfied. It's…kind of awesome. "Full moon sex is a definite tradition in the making."

Derek grins at that, and his teeth are all still sharp and pointed. Stiles rolls on his back, not really caring that the movement just smears his own come over everything (maybe Derek will clean it up? Might alleviate some of that full moon energy, or something) and reaches out to push at Derek's forehead with his fingers.

"I don't get it," he says, confused.

"What." Derek's voice is scratchy, throaty. He leans into Stiles' touch like he wants to be petted. Stiles… obliges, because he's a fuckin' tactile guy, all right?

"Where the fuck," Stiles asks, "do your eyebrows go? It doesn't make sense."

"Let me consult my copy of How to Be a Werewolf, Stiles," Derek snarks, runs a tired hand down Stiles' flank. "I cut you."

Stiles looks down, sees five little red lines on his hip. "That's hot," he says. "Why is that so hot?"

"I…" Derek trails off, shaking his head, grinning wolfishly (and, actually, that's kind of a literal description, what with the wolfish features, and all) as he sits up. "You scratched the wall."

Stiles looks at where Derek is pointing with his chin, sees where his nails had raked against the paint, left gauges. "Huh," he says. "That's also hot. Full moon sex, dude, it brings out the animal in all of us."

"So, you've just won an Oscar," Kate… something says. Stiles is tired, and sweaty, and he's pretty sure his dad is getting into an argument with Christian Bale over the sushi platter at the buffet table. But Stiles is here… getting interviewed. Because, holy fuck, he just won an Oscar.

"Yeah," Stiles says. "Like, two hours ago? Two hours ago. I'm… kind of in shock."

"No, you definitely deserved it, Mr. Stilinski—"

"Stiles!" Stiles says, just as Leonardo walks in the room and about a dozen people rush towards him. "Call me Stiles."

"Well, Stiles, you have many plans after this? Another movie?"

Stiles grimaces. "My agent is forcing me to go on vacation, apparently? So I'm probably going to be at my house, sleeping for about two months. Then, you know," --Stiles shrugs, smiles-- "I'll see what happens."

"Well, whatever it is I'm sure it'll be amazing," Kate says.

"Right, hopefully." Stiles shrugs again.

"It's like we're in a romantic comedy," Stiles can't help saying, looking around and smiling at a couple of people who recognize him under his jacket and hoodie. Derek, who's pulling his suitcases out of the Ferrari, turns and looks at him with raise eyebrows. "It is! All you need is to jump security and come declare your undying love for me, then get carted off by TSA agents, put on the no-fly list, maybe, and we'll be set."

"You get off on imagining your life is a movie, don't you?" Derek asks, pulling the last suitcase out. There are only two, actually, but cramming them in the Ferrari was… troublesome. Although that might've been because Scott was hanging on to him at the time, muttering something about it not being fair.

"Amongst a plethora of other things, yeah." Stiles adjusts his backpack and then grabs both suitcases, rolling them farther away from the curb. "Like wolves. Wolves turn me on."

"Wolves turns you on," Derek is in front of him now, hands in his pockets, grinning.

"Halfbreeds, mostly." Stiles shrugs. '"It's a thing."

"Like the red hair thing, I get it." Derek takes a step closer, glances over Stiles' shoulder, frowns. "They're not even being discreet."


"Pictures," Derek says.

"Just do the eye trick," Stiles says.

"No, really?" Derek asks.

"Fuck you and your sarcasm, dude." Stiles laughs, though, punches Derek's shoulder. "I'll call you when I land. I'll probably text you before then."

"Fine." Derek looks around one last time. His expression changes, from discomfort to acceptance to a shit-eating grin, and he steps closer, brings his head down to rest at the junction between Stiles' neck and shoulder. Stiles shivers, glad he's in layers so it's not that obvious.

"If you scratch my car, I'm scratching yours," Stiles says, brings his arms up to play with the hair at the nape of Derek's neck.

"I'm not going to scratch your car, Stiles, for fuck's sake," Derek grumbles, pushing his nose harder against Stiles' skin.

"If you get a ticket, I'm—"

"I'm an officer of the law," Derek says, and Stiles can feel him smiling against his skin. "I don't get tickets. I give them."

"And if you could not get attacked by rogue werewolves—"


"—or asshole hunters—"


"—or witches, fuck I hate witches—"

"—really, Stiles?"

"—in the two weeks I'm away, that would just be fuckin' grand."

"It's not like—"

"Shut up," Stiles says, and kisses him. Derek freezes for a second, surprised, then grins against his lips and starts kissing back.

Stiles never thought he would be for public displays of affection, but, well, with Derek he's kind of for any displays of affection, anywhere.

By the time Derek pulls away—and Stiles might whine, low in his throat, when Derek does—his face is red and scratchy from Derek's stubble, and he just wants to crawl back in the car and get a handjob. Or a blowjob. Or some heavy petting, at least.

"Fuck," Derek says, "you should probably go?"

"Yeah." Stiles leans forward, kisses him on his cheek—because they're a fuckin' couple and shit like that is allowed, all right—and grabs his suitcases. "See you in two weeks."

"Yeah," Derek says.

Stiles, on his way through the security line—as he takes off his boots and his jackets and pulls his laptop out of his bag, grins at the TSA agents glowering at him—may or may not glance back every couple of minutes to see Derek standing there, watching him (and ignoring the airport security guy who keeps glaring pointedly at him, and then at the car, and then at the line of cars waiting to drop people off).

"You're so weird," he mouths once he's past the scanner, pulling his shoes on and grabbing the crap they had made him put in bins, knowing Derek can hear him. Derek grins at that, shoves his hands in his pockets.

Stiles supposes he asked for it, though, because he really loves weird.

"Remind me," Stiles says, "how you got me to sign up for this shit, again?"

"I think you were drunk," Lana says, glancing at the rest of the class. "I think I was drunk."

"Will you two," Jenny 'I-could've-gotten-into-Julliard-if-I-really-wanted' Silvers snarls, "shut up? We're almost—"

"That was," Professor L interrupts them to speak to the group ahead of them, clearing his throat, "an interesting take on capitalism."

Stiles thinks he might throw up.

He's really not exaggerating. He doesn't even know why a goddamned skit is making his guts twist in on themselves and his mouth go cotton dry. It's annoying, is what it is. Annoying as fuck. And Lana's pre-hyperventilating is not helping any of them.

"Next," Professor L says, sounding bored. And maybe like he regrets agreeing to teach an undergrad class in the first place. The three of them walk onto the stage. Stiles shoves one hand into his pocket, runs the other through his hair in a nervous gesture. The Professor waits until they're standing still to continue. "Your skit?"

Jenny sighs, because she'd been 'sick' (read; hungover) for the class Wednesday, when Lana and Stiles had actually written the dialogue. Or, well, Stiles."We're… werewolves."

The rest of the class snickers. Professor L hides a smile. "Werewolves?"

"It's an examination," --Jenny sniffs, reading off the note-card Lana had given her-- "of the psychological effects on a human who has two werewolves for friends."

"Interesting." Professor L grins. "You have five minutes."

Stiles panics for the thirty seconds it takes them to take their places, then realizes he has the first line of dialogue.

It's not like he doesn't know what to say. He wrote it, for fuck's sake. He didn't just write it, he lived it. So why the fuck should he be nervous?

Right? Right. It was fine when they were rehearsing, so it'll be fine now, and if it's not, well, Stiles has survived worse things.

"You don't get it," Stiles hears himself say. He's pacing back and forth across the stage, while Lana and Jenny lean up against the table someone had put up there a couple of classes ago and never moved. Jenny had said something about dynamic movement, but Stiles really didn't care enough to pay attention. Right now… he's kind of just winging it.

Acting, he thinks, a bit hysterically, is a little bit like lying. And, over the years, Stiles has gotten really good at lying. He started out horribly, but now? Now he's pretty good.

"Don't get what, Stiles?" Jenny asks, inspecting her fingernails.

"I can't—" Stiles growls, runs his hands through his hair, still pacing. "I can't do what you can do, Jenny. I can't—I almost died, and—"

"And what, you want the B?" Lana cracks. Jenny and Stiles both look at her in disgust while the rest of the class (at least, the ones who get the joke) laughs.

"No, I don't want the fucking B, Lana," Stiles says. "I want… I want to help, really, but—"

"You don't need to be a werewolf, Stiles," Jenny says. "That's our problem."

"Yeah," Stiles says, and he stops his pacing, brings his arms to his sides to hang limp. "Yeah, I get that, I do, Jenny. That's—that's your thing."

God, Stiles thinks, it's actually kind of pitiful how he's actually had this conversation.

"We need you," Lana says. Well, fake whispers, really.

"You really don't," Stiles says.

"We… really do," Jenny says.

Chapter Text

One year, three months later.

Derek has learned, over the years, that it's much easier to be angry about things that you can actually affect. While that realization hasn't stopped him from hating a lot of things, a lot of people, hasn't stopped him from wishing, every day, that his life had turned out differently, that he'd been less of a child, less of an idiot, less responsible for the deaths of his family, it's…it's made his life easier.

Happier, even.

Maybe it wasn't just that realization alone that made him happier. Maybe it was becoming less of a guilt-ridden asshole, learning that not all humans wanted to kill him… maybe it was something. Whatever it was, he's finding it surprisingly easy to just… be.

Actually, come to think of it, it was probably the therapist. The one whose card the Sheriff had left on his desk once, a couple of months after the whole Peter thing. She'd been expensive, and the drive had been a bitch, but once he started talking—once he started talking it got easier.

"You think loud," Stiles says. Derek looks up, from where he's been staring at his hands in his lap, and grins.

"Have you been waiting for an opportunity to say that, or was it improv?" he asks. Stiles leans back, stretches his legs out until they hit up against the back of the passenger seat in front of him.

"I have a list of one-liners,"--Stiles points at his head--"waiting."

"Amazing," Derek says. When Stiles had come back from college—the first time, the only time—Derek had smelled sex and strangers on his jeep. It had made him angry. He hasn't told Stiles that, yet. Probably won't. Doesn't even know why he's suddenly remembering it now.

"Don't be a dick." Stiles kicks him. "I could've brought dad."

"He didn't want to go," Derek says. The Sheriff… the Sheriff is a good man. A fair man. A weird man, actually, since, in junior year, when he had found out about…everything he'd taken to the idea as easily as Stiles had. Maybe that was a Stilinski thing. The above average ability to adapt. "You begged me to come with you."

"I didn't beg, dude." Stiles gives him a disappointed look, glances out the sedan's window. Derek sniffs, almost chokes on a wave of nerves and fear and excitement. He hasn't gotten used to how nervous Stiles gets, before these things. The guy can face down a rogue alpha. He can intimidate a shifter, can survive crap that Derek would never expect anyone to survive, let alone a human. But when it comes to the red carpet, or interviews, or anything, really, to do with acting that's not acting, Stiles smells, overwhelmingly, of fear.

It makes Derek want to put a hand on his shoulder, or his arm, or anywhere, and tell him to calm the fuck down.

The one time Derek had done that though, for the first premiere Stiles had goaded him into attending (and, he'd thought, the last), Stiles had glared at him and then launched into a speech outlining why, exactly, it was his right to be nervous, and Derek should take his werewolf nose and shove it up his ass.

Derek had… listened. To some of it.

"This is," Stiles says, "the opposite of what I want to be doing right now."

"What's the opposite of a movie premiere?" Derek asks. Although, he agrees. He's only here because… he's here because Stiles had smelled like fear when he asked Derek to come with him. And it's hard to say no to Stiles when he has that glint in his eye.

"I-- really, you're going to be literal now?" Stiles shifts again, takes his phone out of his pocket and starts typing something. Which Derek finds distracting, because Stiles' hands are nice.

That's an understatement. They're fucking orgasmic.

The first thing Derek had noticed about Stiles, apart from him never shutting up, were his hands. Or was it his mouth. Fuck, that mouth. Derek still feels like a pervert, sometimes, when he looks at that mouth.

"Mr. Stilinski," the driver says, "we're five minutes away."

"Right, cool." Stiles grins at the driver. The smell of fear intensifies. "Thanks, Heather."

Derek hates that smell, even if, for some reason, he keeps on sniffing just so he can smell it. He shouldn't have to smell it anymore. For fuck's sake, he'd smelled it constantly after the fire, from Laura, and himself, and it was everywhere, and now… now all he thinks about is how Stiles had looked at him, when Derek had been handcuffed in the back of the Sheriff's squad car, and told him he wasn't afraid, even when Derek had smelled it on him.

"Stiles," he whispers in his ear, so the driver doesn't eavesdrop, "you reek of fear."

"I'm not--!" Stiles grunts, but Derek just grabs his hand, squeezes. "Fuck you, dude."

"Fuck you first." Derek leers when a spike of lust interrupts the fear. "Better," he says.

"Freak," Stiles mutters, but he shifts closer, and Derek grins.

"My life is not normal," Stiles says, three minutes later.

"No, it's completely normal," Derek says.

"Fuck you, I'm serious," he leans in toward Derek. "Remember when I held you up in a pool for two hours? That's not normal."

"I was joking," Derek says, amused.

"Yeah, because you're just a fucking fountain of wit."

"I am," Derek agrees.

"Or when I—"

"Oh god, really?" Derek hits his head against the back of his seat. "Are we doing this? Again? Because I swear we've had this conversation at least five times."

"Never gets old," is all Stiles says, "and you owe me."

"How do I owe you, Stiles?" Derek, sometimes, just adds Stiles' name on to the end of statements. And questions. He likes that name—Stiles. Fits him more than his real name. Derek likes saying it because… he doesn't know why. He just likes the way it feels on his tongue, maybe. Who the fuck cares, it's a nice name.

"You always owe me," Stiles says, like it should be obvious. "I put up with your snarly ass."

True, Derek thinks.

Fuck, he really has no idea how he ended up here. Sitting in the backseat of a sedan, wearing a suit, driving to the premiere of a movie… with Stiles. All of it seems so tame compared to what he thought his life would be like.

Well, before the fire, his life was tame. After the fire, though, for about seven years, he was pretty sure he was going to die before he turned thirty. Probably from wolfsbane. Or, getting cut in half.

But he isn't. Dead, that is. He has no idea how that happened, but he's glad he's alive.

Sometimes, when the Sheriff brings him along on a homicide case, or something suspiciously not natural happens (which, thankfully, doesn't happen as often as it once did), it helps him to remember that. The being glad part.

Compared to how long he wasn't glad he was alive, it's a decidedly new thing. So he's still kind of hesitant about it.

He's used to being a pessimist. Mom used to say he was born a pessimist.

"Scott's calling me," Stiles says, looking down at his phone. "Should I answer?"

"No," Derek says. Scott, the fucker, never answers his phone.

"Yeah, love him, but the fucker never answers his phone, anyway," Stiles says, and shoves it back in his pocket.

Fuck, Derek is going to walk the red carpet. Again. For the… how many times has he done this now? Three? It's not that it's particularly traumatic. It's just that less than ten years ago he would've never thought that a) he would be dating Stiles Stilinski, the same kid who got him arrested and then made it known, many times throughout the years, how much he despised Derek, b) that Stiles Stilinski would, somehow, become an Oscar winning actor.

Well, granted. This is the same Stiles Stilinski that would've sawed his arm off to save him (Derek doesn't know why he's thinking about that in a positive light… it works, with them, somehow), that held him in a pool for two hours, that helped him so many times when the Alpha pack came, and even after. This is the same Stiles Stilinski, he thinks, who is so… so human. Breakable, bendable, fragile, human.

He feels like home. Didn't always—he used to feel (smell, really, but there were other senses involved too, because, for some reason, Derek paid way too much attention to Stiles even back then) like high school and sweat and come and medication and, a surprising amount of the time, peanut butter and chocolate—but now he feels… smells… like Stiles and Derek. Which is something that Derek also never thought was possible.

Having someone smell like him. It's not just that Stiles smells like him—like them—it's that he smells like their house. Like all the familiar scents that Derek associates with safety and comfort.

After Kate, after the fire, plenty of people had smelled like him, back when he was young and angry and Laura didn't know how to handle him. He'd done the whole meaningless sex thing until Laura had died and then…shit, then his life had gotten weird.

Surrounded by teenagers weird. Becoming a fucking Alpha weird. Getting caught up in the way the one who tended to save his life the most was a human with a slightly twisted moral compass weird.

Fuck, Derek thinks, Stiles was right. Their lives are so abnormal it's pitiful.

Then again, what the hell is normal?

"Crap," Stiles says, and Derek blinks, looks up from where he's been glaring at the uncomfortable loafers the stylist had all but shoved his feet into. Stiles is staring out the window, biting at his mouth, eyes wide and, not panicked per say, but not calm either.

Derek doesn't have to concentrate to hear the screams of the fans outside, or the incessant clicking of cameras, or the drone of actors and directors being interviewed. Everything is fucking deafening, even from inside a car that is, supposedly, soundproof.

He also doesn't have to concentrate to hear Stiles' heartbeat quicken, because the thudding drowns out everything else.

Derek waits for Stiles to open the door. It doesn't take long, but watching Stiles' face go from terrified to petulant to disgruntled to smooth, calm, and in control is just as fascinating as it was the first time he saw it.

"You good?" Stiles asks.

Derek rolls his eyes because he can. Stiles just shakes his head, and opens the door.

"Stiles!" Derek hears Scott scream. He smells blood. God, he smells Stiles' blood, there's so much of it, so much. He can't see anything yet, he's not—he hasn't turned the corner yet, and he's running, running so fast but he can't get there fast enough, and—


Stiles is bleeding. Derek can see the white of his sternum reflecting in the florescent lights above him, but everywhere else is red. His skin, his clothes. His eyes are wide and blood-shot, panicked, and his mouth is opening and closing, struggling for air. Derek can hear the wheezing of his lungs and the panicked snorts in the back of his throat.

Erica screams from behind him, hisses out her anger and pushes past where he's frozen, rooted to the spot, staring at Stiles, who's not dead yet, but should be. He shouldn't have to be awake for this.

There are deep tears in his chest, deep scratches in the bone. Injuries like that burn. Leave a mark. Injuries like that you never forget.

Scott roars. Boyd answers from three floors down. Derek realizes that Peter is here, and his hands are red.

Hah, he thinks. Caught red-handed.

Stiles would get a kick out of that.

Then he remembers why Peter's hands are red, and where they are, and he forgets everything but the anger. The pain. The confusion. He howls, the sound reverberating against the walls, and his bones shift, painful and sudden, under his skin.

He roars, and he's throwing Peter—who's laughing, his uncle is laughing—against the far wall. In his head, he's screaming. He's screaming why. Why did it have to be him, of all of them? Why, a softer voice thinks, does everything he touch dies?

He may say some of that out loud, or maybe Peter just knows him well—too well—because Peter just laughs. He laughs, and, as they fight, wrestle, claw at each other until Derek's blood is mixing with Peter's is mixing with Stiles,' he whispers things like because who else fascinates you as much? He whispers; it's no fun taking apart the boring ones. He whispers; revenge doesn't work unless it hurts.

Derek roars, and this time, when he rakes his claws against Peter's throat, he makes sure they go through all the way.

Derek likes to watch Stiles. The way he moves, especially when he's nervous, is fascinating. All big gestures and movement. Like now, how he's scratching at his chin, smiling down at the woman who's asking him something about his suit. Or before, when he had spent ten minutes taking pictures and signing autographs, almost bouncing up and down he was so excited.

Someone who wasn't watching him wouldn't notice it, but Derek does.

Because, fuck, there's nothing better to do at these things. Not when they're a good ten minutes away from even getting in the doors to the theatre. Not when there's still thirty minutes before Derek is watching Stiles on-screen, while the Stiles next to him fidgets uncomfortably and scratches at his ear too many times for it to be anything other than embarrassment.

As a form of entertainment it's… dangerous. Because watching Stiles in his element, acting the part of the goofy, good-natured actor, when Derek knows he's so much more, when Derek can see the way his smile is a little too wide, and hear the way his heartbeat is beating an uneven staccato rhythm, and smell the nerves and fear still wafting off of him. It makes Derek want to—to do something.

Something that's not standing, waiting around for Stiles to finish his interviews, occasionally growling out a word or two when the reporters ask him a question. Something like pinning him to a mattress and watching those hands skim over his skin, watching the way Stiles' eyes go wide and his mouth opens, almost in disbelief, when he comes.

Yeah, dangerous.

"All right, him,"-- Stiles walks over, rests his forearm on Derek's shoulder, and nods at a man in a pinstripe suit a little ways down the carpet-- "he's a werewolf, right?"

Derek snorts. "He's human," he says.

"You suck," Stiles says, already looking around for someone else that seems suspicious. Derek could tell him that one of his fans had been a shifter, and there was a woman they passed a while back that was a witch, but it's more fun, this way.

"I—" Derek sighs, rubs the back of Stiles' head before he really thinks about it, grins at him because he walked right into it. "I do, actually. Really well."

"Damn it," Stiles laughs, though, even as Derek smells lust and sees the way Stiles' tension-filled shoulders relax, just a little. "That's not fair, dude. Not fair at all."

"I'm a horrible person," Derek agrees.

"You're not so bad. Stiles grins, elbowing Derek in the ribs. "Not anymore."

Derek is perfectly aware that the person he was as little as six years ago wouldn't have recognized the person he is today. Actually, the Derek from six years ago would've broken his arm, probably, as a lesson. Snarl at him about death and destruction and, also, ask why the fuck, out of the 8 billion people on Earth, he had chosen Stiles.

He still doesn't understand that last part as much as he should. Because, for fuck's sake, it's Stiles.

Then again, he actually has a life now. A job, a house, people that may or may not save his life, depending on their moods and whether or not he's been an asshole recently. He has a Stiles.

He's not normal—he's a werewolf, fuck normal, actually—but not everything is as tense as it was before.

So maybe the guy he is now knows more than the guy he was. Maybe the guy he was should just shut his fucking mouth and go glower at someone from a dark corner.

"Good to know." Derek elbows him back, lets his eyes flit to red for a split-second just to hear the spike in Stiles' heartbeat.

"Unfair, dude," Stiles says. Then, because he's a vindictive little fuck, pulls Derek along to another interview.

It takes half an hour to get to their seats, after Stiles is interviewed, and then interviewed again, and then interviewed with his fellow cast members, and then he's cornered by two directors who Derek knows he should know, but can't really be bothered to remember, and then Miranda finds them and manages to intimidate Derek into doing another interview with Stiles…

… and then Derek is sitting in the theatre, flanked on one side by Stiles, on the other by Miranda, and the lights are dimming. Stiles is nervous, which makes no sense, because Derek knows what the critics are saying and it's all good. And it's not like Stiles hasn't watched it before. It's not like Stiles was just on stage, while the rest of his cast mates and Whedon practically threw themselves at his feet.

He's just being Stiles.

"Calm down." Derek leans over, whispers in his ear, because he knows that distracts him. "It's not like you're a horrible actor, or anything."

"Not cool." Stiles glares at him.

Derek just grins, and leans back to watch the movie.

Stiles calls him for the first time since he left just as Derek is shoving a half-naked man who, from the smell of it, is drunk from at least ten different types of alcohol, in the backseat of his cruiser. He only knows it's Stiles because when he had gotten the phone, Stiles had set his ringtone as the batman theme song, and Derek had never bothered to change it back.

He doesn't check it, for obvious reasons, until the guy is slobbering on himself in a holding cell, and he's managed to get through half of the paper-work on his desk. Mostly because he can only do so much paperwork before he feels like stripping and disappearing into the woods for a few days. But also because the only news he's gotten of Stiles in the past year is what he's managed to glean from Scott and the Sheriff… which is to say, not much.

He's guessing it's as much for his benefit as for theirs. Because, hey, he was the one that killed Peter. Both times. So maybe hearing about the kid who had been instrumental in his death (both times) would get him… what? Depressed? Well fuck, like that would change much. Guilty? Try every time he wakes up. Angry? At himself, definitely.

It's not like not mentioning it means he'll ever forget the way Stiles' heart had been beating so slowly that the paramedics had thought it had stopped. It's not like it would stop being just something else to give him nightmares.

There's no message, no text. Just a little blip in his history that says, 'Missed Call: Baddest Mofo You Know.'

Yeah, Derek hasn't bothered to change that, either.

He thinks about not calling back, about ignoring it, because Stiles had left. He'd left, and he hadn't come back. And he's probably never going to come back.

Derek might be a little angry over that. At himself, because he knew, back when everyone else was in high school, that if he ever let himself care, it would end badly. At Stiles because… because he left.

He thinks about not calling back for a good hour, just sitting back in his chair, staring at the fucking thing, and by that time, his shift is done, and he drives home with his phone in his hand.

He calls as soon as he walks in the door.

"Derek?" Stiles sounds—Stiles sounds alive, and Derek didn't know how much he needed that. Didn't know how much he needed to hear that until he's sitting down, hard, on his couch, and holding a hand over his phone so Stiles doesn't hear him inhaling in through his nose and out through his mouth.

"Stiles, you called me," Derek says. "What do you want?"

"Oh fuck," Stiles says. "How long ago?"

"Are you kiddi—I don't know, a couple of hours?" Derek says, suddenly frustrated.

"Ahhhh," is all Stiles says for a long while. Derek hears someone coughing in the background, hears the steady in and out of Stiles' breathing, and regrets calling.

"You didn't--?" Derek starts.

"I may have been drunk," Stiles interrupts, low and… embarrassed. Derek grins, but only because no one is around to see it.

"You drunk-dialed me," he says.

"Seems so?" Stiles says, then he clears his throat. Derek doesn't know how he makes it sound awkward. A Stiles thing, he thinks. "It's… good to hear from you?"

Derek leans back and rubs at his eyes with his free hand. "I'm sure," he says.

"No, no, dude, come on. Don't be like that," Stiles whines. "I've just been—look, I just—"

"Stiles," Derek interrupts. "It's fine. I'm fine. We're all fine."

"We're… good?" Stiles asks, and Derek hopes he's not projecting the hope in Stiles' voice.

"We're good, Stiles," Derek says, because what else can he say? No, Stiles, I really didn't need to have nightmares about you, too.

"Can I send you memes, then. Are we that good?" Stiles is grinning now. He can hear it in his voice, the fucker. Derek thinks, sometimes, that Stiles doesn't even know he's flirting. The kid is… he's an idiot.

"No, please don't," Derek says. He doesn't mean it.

"I'm gonna take that as a yes, just so we're clear." Stiles pauses, clears his throat again. "Thanks for calling, by the way. I'm glad you called back."

Well, fuck, Derek thinks.

The movie is, as expected, good.

The after-party is like being strapped to a chair doused in wolfsbane and then forced to eat more wolfsbane, but he survives.

He breathes easier, though, when they're finally in the car again.

"Fuck," Stiles groans after ten minutes of blissful silence. "I hate people."

Derek isn't sure what to say to that, so he just raises an eyebrow.

"Crowds," he continues in a croak, "talking. Fucking conversations. Can't I just… I should've become a writer. Been a hermit. Stay in a cabin all year and have, like, a shotgun by the door, or something, so I can run kids off my lawn."

"Are you even a good writer?" Derek asks. It comes out sounding ruder than he meant it.

"Fuck you, Hale." Stiles points at him with one hand, loosens his tie with the other. Derek's mouth goes dry. "I'm a great writer."

"You'd still have to do book tours," Derek points out.

"Fuck," Stiles says, "and I'd have to write."

"Yeah," --Derek unbuttons his suit jacket, shrugs out of it-- "that too."

Stiles leans his head back against the car seat, stretches his legs out. If Derek could smell exhaustion, he's pretty sure he would be smelling it right now. As it is, he smells… the evidence of a long day. No nervousness, though. Not anymore.

The nervousness went away a third of the way through the movie, when Derek had gotten sick of Stiles drumming his fingers against his thigh and had grabbed his hand. He likes that he can do that. Make the fear go away.

It's a heady fucking feeling, being able to do that for someone. Anyone, really, but especially for Stiles.

Stiles, the human, who gets him better than any of the wolves he's made. Stiles, the human, who smells like—like bright, peppery things. Things that make you feel awake. Not cinnamon. Cinnamon's too drab. Allspice, maybe. Stiles, the fucking human, who started out just a fucking human, but became—

"You're getting nostalgic. Shut the fuck up," Stiles mumbles, half asleep already, from next to him. "God, you say I think loud."

Derek grunts and loosens his tie, tries to think… more quietly.

It's three in the morning. He's thirty-two years old. He's driving back to a hotel, sitting next to the guy he somehow fell in love with, wearing a suit that costs more than he makes in three months. There are no hunters. There are no kanimas. No alpha packs. No creatures out to kill him or anyone he's invested in.

There are still nightmares, but they come less often now. There's still guilt, but he wears it better these days.

It's three in the morning. He's a thirty-two year old werewolf who feels, half the time, like he's stepped into an alternate reality. Or a dream. Like he's going to wake up from this fantasy he's created for himself and be squatting in an abandoned warehouse, stinking of dirt and sweat and fear.

Derek snorts.

"Whuzzit?" Stiles' hand comes up to grab Derek face. He leans over, rests his head on Derek's shoulder, and squeezes his eyes shut.

Derek claps a hand over his mouth to stop from laughing. It doesn't help.

"What," Stiles whines. "Stop laughing."

"My life," Derek says, in between snorts, "is ridiculous."

That gets Stiles to open his eyes, stare at him with that look, the one that means he knows exactly what Derek's thinking, the one that Derek hasn't gotten used to, even after years of knowing him.

"Are you having an epiphany right now?" Stiles asks, after staring at him for who knows how long. Long enough that the car passes under five streets lights.

"Yeah, yeah, I am," Derek says.

"That's great, really, dude." Stiles closes his eyes, again, pats Derek on the head, then, for some reason, gets his fingers in Derek's hair and starts kneading. As far as Derek knows, he's not drunk. He doesn't smell drunk. "I'm all for the emotional journey and everything, and I'd love to hear about it—"

Derek tells himself he's kissing Stiles to stop him from talking, but that excuse kind of started to fall flat, even in his head, after… after the first time he kissed Stiles. Because kissing Stiles is nice. Really nice. Depending on the mood, it's either slow and wet, lazy almost, or fast and frantic and desperate, or wicked. Sometimes it's really wicked. Fuck, really fucking wicked.

Right now, though, Stiles is too tired to do anything but moan into his mouth. And, truthfully, Derek is too tired to do anything but bite at his bottom lip—fuck, those lips—once and then lean back in his seat.

He's thirty-two, now, has been for bit. He's allowed to get tired.

"Okay," Stiles mutters, out of breath. "Shutting up."

Derek closes his eyes and rests his head against the back of the seat.

Used to be, when he first became the Alpha, sleep didn't come easily. Fuck, nothing came easy back when he first became an Alpha. A lot of it had to do with the circumstances that made him an Alpha, yeah, but maybe more of it had to with the sheer fucking power that the change gave him.

Too much power, he thought at first.

(Stiles would probably say something like with too much power comes too much responsibility. Derek would agree. He was twenty-two when he became an Alpha. No one should become an Alpha at twenty-two. Twenty two year olds have no idea what they're doing.)

It's gotten easier, though, to deal with it. Them. The urges, the desires, the needs that come with being an Alpha. He thinks he's done okay, in the long run.

No one's died in a while, and that's always a good sign.

"Hey," Stiles, almost asleep again, but this time with his hand in Derek's hair and his head smashed against Derek's shoulder, mutters. "I'm not drunk, I'm just fucking exhausted."

"I know," Derek says.

"Thanks for coming," Stiles mutters when car stops at a red light five minutes later, "made it better."

Derek knows he could make a joke about that. Stiles would be proud of him. It would be something like he always makes it better when he comes. But this doesn't feel like a joke moment. Feels like a… like a… like a moment.

A corny moment, but a moment nonetheless.

So Derek doesn't say anything, just hums in acknowledgement and closes his eyes. They only have ten minutes until they get to the hotel, and he's pretty sure he's going to have to half-carry Stiles to the elevator and up to the room.

He might take a picture and send it to Scott. That always gets him jealous.

Derek hears it, when Erica pulls Stiles out of her car. Everyone hears it, by the looks on their faces, and by the way their hearts speed up. He's still trying to make himself seem less desperate, less excited, less reactive, when she pushes him in the front door.

And there he is. There's Stiles.

He smells like fear, is the first thing Derek thinks. He smells like Stiles, is the second thing.

He looks… he looks good. Better in person than on screen or in the magazines Derek not-so secretly buys. For loyalty's sake, he tells himself.

Stiles' hair is a mess. Looks like he just got out of bed. He's smiling the smile he reserves for terrifying situations, and his fingers—his long, long fingers—are tapping out a nervous rhythm against his jeans, even as he walks (is pushed) over to them.

"Morning," he says. His voice sounds different in person. Sounds older. It didn't sound like that at the wedding. Mostly because Stiles was half-asleep the whole time, though. "Kind of early, huh?"

"I really want to decimate you right now, Stilinski," Lydia says. "But seeing as how you're public property—"

Derek chokes on air, makes it sound like a growl, and then immediately regrets it when he sees Erica and Boyd smirk, while Stiles just… stares.

Fuck, his eyes. How could Derek have forgotten about those fucking eyes.

Why does he suddenly feel like a teenager again? No, scratch that. Why does he suddenly feel like a twenty-two year old who doesn't fit in his own skin, again? He wants to… he wants to jump up, do something, get out, get away. Maybe drag Stiles with him.

Make sure he doesn't leave again.

Damn it, that's not what he wants.

Fuck, he wants Stiles, is what he wants.

"How long are you back?" Derek asks.

"Three months or so," Stiles says, shrugging. "Forced vacation."

"Forced?" Derek doesn't like the sound of that.

"—I work too much," Stiles says, shrugs again. "Thus, forced vacation."

Derek gets that. The working hard. Makes it so you forget all the shit you want to forget. He gets it, doesn't make the last five years any less difficult, but he gets it.

"It's better now, here." Crap, that's not what he wanted to say.

"I need caffeine before we do this," Stiles mutters, and then he's gone. Derek doesn't know what they're doing.

"What are we doing?" he asks the others, watching Stiles walk up to the counter, and then watching everyone else in the coffee shop who's watching Stiles.

"He feels guilty," Scott says. "For, ya know—"

"Not talking to us in five years?" Lydia snarls.

"He's talked!" Scott says. "He's just, fuck, Lydia, he's been busy."

"I've been bus—" Lydia starts.

"Would you have stayed?" Derek asks. Stiles is surrounded by teenager girls. They're all… simpering. It's fucking annoying. "If someone almost killed you, and you had a chance to get out, would you have stayed?"

"I--" Lydia sits back in her seat, pouting. "Point taken."

Derek sits back in his seat, satisfied, and watches Stiles while the others talk. About what, he doesn't really pay attention to. He learned how to tune them out a long time ago.

He watches as Stiles gets his drink, watches as he walks back. The way Stiles walks is different now. He holds himself straighter, walks like he's…well fuck, like he's an adult. An adult that a lot of the world seems to find attractive.

Damn it.

"You're an ass," Allison says, and Derek realizes he's been staring as he thinks. He glances down at his coffee, drinks as the others start talking again. Something about Stiles being an ass, and about him not talking to them enough. Which is strange, because Derek gets at least one text a week from him. Usually it's some link to a meme, or a picture of a grumpy cat or something.

"I missed you," Stiles says, and that makes Derek blink.

"Then why didn't you just..." Derek bites the inside of his cheek. "You just left." He may sound angrier than he actually is. It's more that he's… frustrated. Confused.

There's a pause, and then suddenly everyone is excusing themselves, and he's alone with Stiles.

Well, he's in the middle of a coffee shop with Stiles.

He takes a deep breath, and almost chokes when he smells lust. It's coming from Stiles. He knows because it's the same fucking smell he used to be obsessed with back when Stiles was still in high school. It's the same smell that makes him actively smell Stiles. It's bright and peppery and makes him want to bury his nose in something, anything, so his dick doesn't get hard.

Fuck, it's been five years and he's still like Pavlov's dog when it comes to that smell.

Stiles would probably get a kick out of that. He lives for dog jokes.

"Derek," Stiles says.

Derek takes another breath, inhales deep. He just… he needs to act normal. Act like he had back then, back before Peter, back when he had seen Stiles almost every day and had gotten way too good at acting normal. At acting like he could fucking ignore that smell when all it made him want to do was hump something,

Preferably Stiles.

Well, normal for Derek. Which meant a lot of postulating and unnecessary glaring so that he wouldn't get overwhelmed. He was an asshole back then. Still is an asshole, but something makes him want to… try.

His therapist had said, before he stopped goin, that he needs to stop denying himself things he wants. So why shouldn't he try? For Stiles. Maybe.

All he has to do is act normal.

"Stiles," he says.