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Where The Inevitable Isn't

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Stiles groans, seeing Chris and Allison’s silhouettes appear in the gate of the hunter compound. “Wheelbarrows. Good god, could they be any more obvious? Why don’t they just carry Other Chris and Other Allison’s unconscious bodies over their shoulders and be done with it?”

Scott shrugs, then immediately grimaces as it rustles the branches of the bush that they’re hiding in. “I guess asking Other Chris and Allison didn’t go too well.”

“So Plan B,” Other Scott finishes. “Scott, are you hearing them talk to the guards?”

Scott snickers. “Yeah,” at Stiles’ raised eyebrow, he continues, “they’re just pulling rank, not explaining where they’re going, just being all ‘don’t question it.’”

“It’s working,” Derek points out flatly.

So it is. Chris and Allison are just walking out of the compound like it’s perfectly normal to go out on a father-daughter walk at midnight with two full wheelbarrows. Sometimes hunters are so much like the incompetent henchmen in cartoons that Stiles just wants to facepalm all over the place.

It’s all so easy. Nobody expects body doubles. Or the Spanish Inquisition.

They stop messing with the wheelbarrows once Chris and Allison have followed the road out of sight of the compound. It isn’t easy to carry two full grown bodies through a valley and up a mountain in the dark, but the three werewolves are pretty handy. Stiles is running on one hell of an adrenaline rush anyway. They’d spent weeks planning out the perfect mission, and it all went off without a hitch. Except for the having to knock out Other Chris and Other Allison bit. But whatever. Hopefully once they have the Other Argents in the cabin, they can engage in some calmer conversation, and only have to resort to light bondage.

To distract himself from the thought of light bondage mixed with the view of Derek’s ass in front of him, Stiles tugs on his radio. “We’re about half a mile from the road. Is the coast clear?”

“Clear,” Other Isaac informs him.

“Clear here too,” says Other Boyd.

“We are good, good buddy,” Other Stiles replies.

Stiles gives the thumbs up to his companions, as if they couldn’t hear the dialogue. Because that’s right, he’s the radio guy. He’s the guy in charge of the radio on their secret mission. That won’t stop being cool. He’s on a secret mission, carrying the legs of one of their captives as they sneak away in the night. That, plus the view he’s getting of Derek, has him in a pretty good mood.

Naturally, that’s when he trips over a tree root.

It’s downhill from there, which Stiles means in the figurative sense, because it’s all uphill walking. The thrill of being on a secret mission wears off after a while, once it’s been hours of hiking in the dark, and around the third time they need to sedate one of the Other Argents who are waking up, he starts feeling guilty too. Their plan seems awfully idealistic now that Stiles starts thinking about how the Other Argents will react when they finally wake up. They aren’t going to be happy and reasonable, that’s for sure.

Finally, the cabin comes into view. They’d spruced it up a little, made it look a bit less like an abandoned shack in the woods, but mostly they’d put a lot of locks on it. As they’re working off of Plan B, it’s looking like those locks will be put to use. The rest of the pack is waiting outside, and helps Scott, Other Scott, Stiles, Derek, Allison, and Chris put the Other Argents’ bodies into the only bedroom. It’s not a cell, per se, but it also lacks anything sharp and has a lot of locks and very small windows.

“Phew,” Stiles groans, stretching out his arms and flopping onto the threadbare couch, which sags more than he expected. “I’m exhausted. Why did I let you talk me into being in the retrieval party?” he asks the group at large.

Derek, already halfway into their sleeping bag, recalls, “you just followed me.”

“Some things never change,” Other Stiles says fondly.

“Like us single people getting resentful with you two -four- around?” Isaac asks dryly as he tucks himself into his own pile of bedding.

“Exactly,” Stiles can’t keep the hint of smugness out of his voice as he drags himself off the couch and into the sleeping bag conglomeration that he and Derek had zipped together. It’s snug, but warm in a cabin without central heating. Not to mention, it encourages cuddling, which is much appreciated, since Special Alone Time with Derek is hard to come by now, so Stiles takes what he can get.

Other Scott stays up to keep watch, which surprises no one. He sits on a rickety folding chair outside the door to the bedroom, grimly keeping both eyes on the door. He has so much hope and heartbreak wrapped up in the people behind that rectangle of wood. Stiles has a bad feeling about it all, and it makes him feel so lucky that he has Derek’s warm, slow-breathing weight next to him, but he also wants to rage at the world for meting out good fortune so unevenly.

The morning is going to be chaos, he knows. The quiet weeks of planning and easy jokes with the pack will be traded out for yelling, arguments, fights, and if they’re lucky, tense negotiations. Pulling the edge of the red nylon sleeping bag over his face, Stiles nestles underneath one of Derek’s arms and lets himself drift to sleep. The fights can wait for a few hours at least.

XXXXX

Before the sun has even risen, there are bangs and shouts coming from inside the bedroom. Stiles has no idea why the Other Argents think shouting “let me out!” is going to accomplish anything, but then again, it’s kind of a necessity in this situation. It’s the first thing you shout when you wake up in a strange, locked room.

Chris and Allison go into the room.

Stiles doesn’t know what they’re saying, but it takes a long time to say it. Over the next hour, there’s more shouting, a few successive thuds, a single harsh spike of laughter, and someone indignantly hollering something about “humanity!” Then the door opens, and four irritated looking Argents walk out. None of them are happy, but none are making a break for it either.

In the days that follow, Stiles plays something of a minor role. He works more on getting ahold of food and luring Derek into hidden dark corners than anything. So far, he’s pretty sure that the Argents have only agreed to listen to what the werewolves have to say, no promises.

The atmosphere in the cabin is tense. It’s a small space filled with thirteen people who don’t have anywhere to go. Especially since for all the claims that the pack is making about having an equal discussion about werewolf rights, Other Chris and Other Allison always have a buddy with them if they walk outside of the cabin.

Other Chris is alright. Stiles isn’t exactly in the mood to give him a hug or anything, but he remembers that, for all that it was worth, Other Chris couldn’t bring himself to physically pull the trigger on Stiles all those months ago. He has some morals, some understanding of a code. Though more bigoted than Chris by far, he’s still somewhat open to negotiation. He understands that there are werewolf children, who even he doesn’t like the idea of killing, and he understands that werewolves themselves aren’t pure evil. Other Chris is kind of a product of his environment, Stiles thinks. He’s anti-werewolf, but mostly because that’s the attitude he’s been surrounded with all of his life. Other Chris is concerned with protecting human civilians, and he reasons that people who can sprout claws and teeth make it hard to protect human civilians.

Other Allison though. Other Allison is the reason that it took an hour to get the Other Argents to come out of the bedroom peacefully, and the reason that the Other Argents had to be sedated in the first place to be taken out of the compound. From what Stiles can gather, Other Allison had spent a lot more time with Kate and her mom than with her dad, and held some more extreme views because of it. Not only does she blame Derek for Kate’s death at Peter’s hands, she considers him responsible for her mother’s suicide, even though in this universe, she was bitten by some random Alpha squatting in a warehouse in Palm Springs. Other Allison refuses to be within five feet of a werewolf, and her eyes, more harsh than Allison’s, are constantly flicking around the cabin, checking for exits, traps, a single wolf looking too fidgety. She doesn’t want to negotiate at all, but she’ll stick around for her father, and thinks that there are some weaknesses about the wolves that she may be able to pick up on, living with them. She makes Stiles nervous.

Other Scott takes it all in stride, somehow. Maybe he was expecting even worse than her fire-eyed hatred. When she spits out epithets at Erica, who brushed against her on the way to the bathroom, when she smacks the table for the fourth time that afternoon, demanding to know why they’re supposed to care about the positive impact werewolves have on the country’s economy, Other Scott maintains a calm face and head, even as Scott and Allison look on with matching expressions of horror. He refuses to let her unnerve him.

Stiles think Other Scott may have gotten himself dedicated to a hopeless cause.

Allison confesses to Stiles one evening, as they’re dragging a bucket of used wastewater outside to dump, that Other Allison terrifies her. “It’s just, that could be me, you know?”

On a surprisingly hot afternoon, they all sit out on the sagging porch in a desperate bid to keep cool. Stiles and Other Stiles are talking about comparative levels of violence in werewolves versus other nonhuman-entities (Stiles has picked up the lingo by this point,) when Other Allison shoots to her feet and takes off sprinting due west. There’s no way she’ll get far, not with all of these wolves around, but Other Allison is rash and angry. All of the calm was probably getting to her.

Other Scott gets up immediately, holding out a hand to everyone else. “I’ll get her.”

Other Chris is about to stand up, but Chris puts a hand on his shoulder, and he leans back into his seat, scowling.

In under a minute, Other Scott catches up with Other Allison. They’re still within view, even hearing range for Stiles.

For a moment, it looks like Other Allison gives up. Other Scott has circled around in front of her, and he’s undeniably faster than she is. He walks forward slowly, one arm out, herding her back towards the cabin.

Then Other Allison pulls out a tiny blade from an ankle sheath. She must have been hiding it for almost a week.

“The ankles!” Allison gasps, “why didn’t we check her ankles? No!” she cautions when Isaac looks about to spring forward, “Scott’s got this.”

He does. Other Scott grabs the knife with a well-executed feinting maneuver. He flings it behind him, where it embeds itself deep into a tree.

Other Allison shrieks and aims a roundhouse kick at his head. It’s not a wise move, considering that the Scotts have always had pretty dense heads, werewolves or not, but she doesn’t seem to be thinking straight. Stiles is hit with a sudden image of Other Allison’s brain boiling inside of her skull from the sheer heat of her rage.

Catching her foot, Other Scott pushes it backwards coolly, and Other Allison stumbles, landing on her back. She springs back up, and Other Scott apparently loses his sanity and decides that it would be a great idea to grab her shoulder with one hand, and plunge his other hand into the neck of her shirt.

The Chrises make identical outraged shouts, Erica and Isaac yelp, and both Dereks jerk their heads back in surprise and raise their eyebrows incredulously. Stiles can feel Derek’s forearm tense beneath his fingers, and he soothes his thumb across the contracting muscles. Allison repeats that Other Scott knows what he’s doing.

Other Scott pulls a stiletto knife out of Other Allison’s cleavage.

Oh. Okay.

Allison rubs a sympathetic hand over her chest. “That’s just not classy.”

Other Allison backtracks quickly, face hateful, but her shoulders tensed with fear. She sees a werewolf with a knife, and it’s not something she wants to see.

Other Scott holds the knife out to her, handle-first. Stiles can’t see his face, but he’s willing to bet it’s the same calm, neutral expression that Other Scott has held this whole fight.

“You want to use this more than I do,” Other Scott points out. Casual as you please, it’s as if he’s passing a TV remote to her.

Other Allison snatches up the knife and watches him, panting, her legs still braced in a fighter’s stance. Other Scott holds his palms out carefully to his sides, and bares his neck.

“Holy shit,” Derek breathes.

Nobody else reacts quite as placidly. The betas are up and raring to go, even as Scott and Allison try to stop them, and Other Stiles is spewing a steady stream of profanity into the air, covering his eyes with one hand, then immediately removing it, then putting it back on again.

Oblivious to the drama happening on the porch, Other Scott and Other Allison maintain their staring match until Other Allison raises the knife, frigid steel glinting in the blinding sun, and with ruthless accuracy, throws it over Other Scott’s head so it sheathes itself in the tree behind him. She collapses, shaking and crying.

“Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you you wolf bastard you have no right! No right to make me... think you’re so...” Her body makes a contorted shape against the sun at her back as she twists in on herself, a night black outline against the molten light behind her.

Other Scott picks her up, cradling her trembling, swearing form to his chest, and his face is broken from its neutral mold. He looks sorrowful, even as he takes their runaway back to the cabin and she thrashes weakly against him.

Everyone on the porch falls silent when Other Scott carries Other Allison into the cabin. Apparently there was more going on between those two than Stiles thought at first. That sort of drama can’t come without context.

XXXXX

“Oh my god,” Stiles groans as he thuds his head back against the grass, “I really wish that I had some cigarettes right now.”

Derek, in the subvocal state that comes with post-coital bliss, makes a questioning noise against Stiles’ stomach.

“Like, you know, sex that good needs to be followed up with some badass smoking in bed. But of course we have neither cigarettes nor a bed. We have a nicotine-free field of grass.”

“Mmmm.”

Why is Derek not talking? A terrifying thought occurs to Stiles. “Wait. Derek, wait! Was the sex not cigarette worthy?”

After all, Derek probably has higher standards than Stiles does, and Stiles tends to get distracted by all of the touching, so maybe he just didn’t notice Derek not having a good time-

Derek heaves himself up Stiles’ body and collapses, mouth-first, onto Stiles’ lips, effectively cutting off that train of thought. “Was good,” he mumbles eventually against Stiles’ lips, “can’t talk. Can’t move.”

Stiles grins because hell yes the Stilinator is dynamite in the sack (grass field) and nobody is going to say differently.

“Aw yes. If nothing else dude, we’ve got the sex part down,” Stiles crows, running his hands through Derek’s hair like he knows Derek likes.

Leaning into Stiles’ hands, Derek murmurs, “we aren’t doing so bad with the other stuff.”

“Aw, Mr. Stubble, you really mean that?”

“Stop smirking like that.”

“This is a happy smirk. No, a lecherous smirk. Actually, no, lets stick to a happy smirk.”

“I don’t care, stop it.”

“What happened to you losing the power of speech to my incredible sexual prowess?”

Derek snaps his mouth shut and manages to look ticked off even though he’s mostly naked and still sprawled across Stiles’ body.

Stiles stops smirking. “Alright, alright, smirk is gone. And yeah,” he runs a soothing hand over Derek’s shoulder, trying to get the muscles to un-tense, “we’re doing good with the other stuff too.”

“Good.”

The thing about Derek is that he won’t talk about something, even if he wants to. It stays stoppered up inside of him, unless you pull out the cork.

“What is it?”

Derek’s fingers trace across Stiles’ chest. “I like this.”

“Me too. Wait, are we talking about my teensy tiny pecs or, you know, this?”

“This. It’s been... better than I hoped.”

Stiles twists his neck awkwardly so he can kiss Derek’s forehead. It just seems like the thing to do. “You must have been picturing something really sucky.”

“No. No, just, I’m realistic. I wasn’t picturing much happening at all.” Derek shrugs, “when you came back, I was... ecstatic,” the word sounds odd coming out of Derek’s mouth, “but I didn’t understand why for a while. Then I did, but I thought it was useless, because we weren’t... like that.”

“Angsty, dude.”

“It’s my thing.”

Stiles cracks up, laughing until Derek’s disgruntled head is bouncing up and down on his chest. “But hey, everything turned out better than expected. We aren’t even weird and bipolar like Other Scott and Other Allison.”

Derek’s eyes widen. “They haven’t...”

“Oh. Dude. No. I mean, they aren’t together, but the weird thing is, they’re like really close. I mean, what was that yesterday? With the screaming and the fighting and the bridal carrying? And I thought our Scott’s life was a soap opera.”

“She slapped him in the face this morning and he smiled,” Derek recalls, looking mildly disturbed.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise when the tension comes to a head a few days later. Derek and Stiles are walking along a bluff overlooking the house, trying to get some air after a particularly tense exchange about werewolf reproductive rights, when they see Other Scott storm out of the cabin. Other Allison follows him a few moments later, and they’re both seething mad.

She punches him in the gut, then launches forward to attach their faces together. Stiles is genuinely worried that she’s trying to bite Other Scott’s face off, but Derek rubs a soothing hand over his shoulder, and Stiles realizes that any face-eating is being enjoyed by both parties. His mouth twists downward in mild horror. “Really? This is... really?”

Derek shrugs, eventually pulling his eyes away from the scene below him. “It works for them.” They both wince when Other Allison pushes Other Scott up against a tree, and they start pawing at each other desperately. “They seem... happy.”

Other Scott and Other Allison sink to the ground, and Stiles claps his hands decisively, “Oookay, so let’s just keep on walking, I don’t need to see this.”

They scurry (that is to say, they hurry manfully,) further along the bluff. Once it looks like Derek can no longer hear whatever disturbing noises Other Scott and Allison are making, Stiles comments, “they sort of remind me of us.”

Derek raises an eyebrow.

“You know, they’ve got a lot going against them, but other versions of themselves are so happy with each other that, you know, they think it’s worth it to love each other anyway.”

Derek’s eyebrows rise further up his face, and Stiles realizes what he just said. “Oh, ah, or you know, just really like each other anyway, or have a basic level of affection for each other, just a nice sexbuddy deal even, I’m not saying they have to be in love, if, you know, they’re... not?”

Hooking a hand around Stiles’ back, Derek reels him into his chest. “It’s alright,” he whispers into Stiles’ hair, “I think they love each other too.”

XXXXX

Epilogue

“Last chance, buddy,” Stiles says ruefully to Scott. “Or this train is leaving without you.”

“Dude, you aren’t changing my mind now,” Scott chuckles. “Besides, it’s not like it’s goodbye forever.”

“Deaton says that he should be able to transport us out of here once we’re ready,” Allison adds.

Stiles fiddles with the thingamajig that he and Derek’s hands are wrapped around. The time to try and get Scott and Allison to come back to their home universe is past. Their bags are packed, preparations made, and Stiles and Derek aren’t needed anymore, but Scott and Allison are.

“The treaty’s been written up,” Stiles wheedles, “do you really need to stick around longer?”

“We aren’t close to done,” Scott says solemnly, a habit he’s picking up from Other Scott, “the fight is still ongoing, even if it isn’t as desperate as before.”

Derek’s thumb rubs across Stiles’ hand, “but I need to go back to the pack. We’ve been away for too long.”

Stiles sighs, and envelops first Scott, then Allison, in a hug. “I feel like we’re abandoning you,” he mutters.

“It’s our choice to stay,” Allison soothes, “besides, my dad’s here, we aren’t all alone.”

Stiles can feel Scott shudder in his arms, but doesn’t point it out. Letting go of them, he slowly wraps his fingers around the thingamajig. Derek delicately scrapes a claw across one of Stiles’ fingers, and Stiles wipes two criss-crossing lines of blood over the center stone.

The familiar tug pulls, and Stiles grips onto the thingamajig harder. He has mixed feelings about the little thing. It’s ugly as all hell even now, and made his life a lot more complicated than it used to be. But looking at Scott and Allison as they fade out of view, and Other Scott and Other Allison behind them, (Other Allison stubbornly refusing to acknowledge Other Scott’s hand around hers,) and feeling Derek’s fingers wrapped tightly around his, warm and amazingly familiar, Stiles thinks that if he could send an inanimate object a thank you card, he would.