Jackson was practicing with his lacrosse stick when he saw Stiles coming down the beach. The newest werewolf was focused; sweat ran down his shirtless body as he made shot after shot at a can he'd wedged between two rocks.
It wasn't the most practical goal, but it served its purpose. He'd set up a short distance from the house, easily visible if anyone walked out the back. More importantly the metallic clang the can made when the ball hit it carried a good distance down the beach in both directions.
Derek really was clever; he'd arranged them like some sort of human scavenger hunt. One would lead to the next until Stiles arrived at his ultimate destination. Jackson was supposed to keep it from Stiles, to make it seem like it was just coincidence, but the guy was smart. He doubted Derek would be able to fool him for long.
There was a part of Jackson that was still angry about what had passed between him and the weird kid. It was true they weren't exactly friendly, but he had been making an effort. He thought that the guy saw that. Stiles didn't really know anything about Jackson, but Jackson didn't know anything about him either. It wasn't like he'd given Stiles a chance to get to know him. Jackson didn't give many people chances to get to know him.
He wanted to make things right though, it was important to him. Not just because Stiles was right and he'd been a dick, but because it was for the good of the pack. He hated the idea that this new thing he'd found, the place where he finally belonged had a festering wound in it.
He hadn't known it was there, maybe none of them had. That wasn't an excuse though, he needed to be in better sync with everyone else, needed to learn how they thought and how they felt. He needed to do it right, he needed to be better.
When they had it right something like what happened with Stiles would never happen again. Jackson wanted that desperately, never wanted to be where Stiles was, breaking apart because people didn't see him. That was his life before he became a part of the pack, living with that fear that he wasn't good enough, he couldn't go back to that, he wouldn't.
Stiles hovered about nearby, whistling to himself and occasionally clapping his hands together while looking everywhere but at Jackson. Jackson shook his head, reached down to pick up the other stick.
"Hey Stilinski," Jackson called out. He tossed the stick to Stiles, "Let's work on passing okay?"
Stiles caught the stick awkwardly, a look of pain flashed across his face. Jackson noticed the bandages. Crap, there went the whole premise of everything he had planned. Stiles was a decent enough player, not really a true first line material kind of guy, but he wasn't terrible. The bandages though would throw off anyone's game.
"Sorry" Jackson mumbled.
He wanted to walk over and pat Stiles on the back. He could smell Allison's perfume on him along with a hint of some sort of fruit. He wasn't that good with the scent thing yet, but he knew that it was important that they touched each other, that all the members of the pack did it.
Stiles smelled faintly of Derek and even more lightly of Scott. He'd probably always have a hint of Scott about him. The guys had been together long enough over the years that they sort of existed in each others' skin. That's how Jackson thought of it anyway. He looked out towards the ocean. He missed Danny, wanted him to be a part of all of this. Jackson could barely smell Danny on himself anymore.
"It's cool," Stiles said. He looked as awkward as Jackson felt.
Jackson sniffed at the air as subtly as he could. He tried to discern what Sitles was feeling. There was a small scent of dried blood in the air. He couldn't get anything else, wasn't able to use the sense on the level he wanted to. He tried to listen for Stiles heartbeat the way Derek tried to teach him, but he was even worse at that. He was still too focused on using sight as his primary sense.
"You're better than Scott," Stiles told him.
"What?" Jackson shifted his weight, leaned on his lacrosse stick.
"At being a werewolf, Scott's terrible at it I think. You've got this… focus about you that he lacks."
Stiles's eyes were looking at him steadily. Jackson shifted uncomfortably under the gaze. Stiles saw too much. He was just a human, but he was more perceptive than Jackson was with a battery of supernatural senses at his disposal.
"I guess," Jackson said noncommittally.
He wanted to touch the guy, not in a creepy way. It was just that his scent wasn't on Stiles at all, like Jackson and Stiles weren't part of the same pack. Since everyone loved Stiles and everyone thought Jackson was a dick that made him feel like he was on the outside looking in, but every time he did Stiles wigged out.
Stiles looked at him with those brown eyes that saw everything. Jackson shifted uncomfortably under that gaze. It assessed him, searching for a hint of something. Jackson didn't know what the guy was looking for.
"Scott didn't want it. That's why it's different. You wanted it, you wanted to be something more, have something special, something that set you apart so everyone would notice you."
"Maybe…" Jackson responded. Stiles was too close to the truth of it.
"I know because I almost wanted that too. Peter, Derek's uncle, he offered it to me. He wanted to bite me, thought that I'd make a better werewolf than Scott."
"Kittens make better werewolves than Scott" Jackson said. He hoped he wasn't going too far with the joke. He was surprised that Stiles had shared with him something so private. Bantering was the only response he could think of, he wasn't really good at opening up.
Stiles laughed, it was the most natural sounding thing in the world. It was something that Jackson really envied about him. He could laugh so easily, so readily. He didn't care what anyone else thought of it. He was who he was without regret or shame, he was Stiles.
"That's probably true, both kittens and plastic plants are leagues ahead of him. He's never going to be a big time superhero at the rate he's going." Stiles winked at him.
Jackson chuckled a little bit, but he felt awkward. He didn't laugh in front of other people very often, not unless he was laughing at them. They made eye contact, stared at each other for awhile, tried to figure each other out. Jackson was surprised when Stiles moved forward, put his hand on Jackson's bicep. He squeezed a little bit like he was seeing how big the muscle was.
"What are you doing out here without a shirt on?" Stiles asked him, "I thought I told you that you were too pretty to be alone."
Jackson blinked at him. Stiles let go of his bicep, landed the most awkward looking playful punch on Jackson's other arm. Stiles was doing it, putting his scent on him. He didn't seem to know if he was doing it right, but he was trying. He wasn't afraid to give it a shot, even if maybe he didn't know what he was doing.
Jackson admired that about him too. He'd just take risks and dive into something, even something that made him uncomfortable if it would help out someone else. Jackson tried to never take risks, tried to only do the things he was great at, that way he wasn't in danger of failing. He couldn't let anyone see him fail.
Stiles didn't back away, but he looked uncomfortable, like he didn't know what he should do next. Jackson smiled and pushed him lightly. Stiles pushed him back. It was perfect.
"You better get healed up, Stilinski. McCall and I have our work cut out for us if we're going to make you a first class lacrosse player," Jackson said.
Stiles grinned back. Jackson stretched out an arm experimentally, wanted to pull Stiles in for a sideways guy hug. Stiles didn't move away from him the way he normally did. Jackson smiled at him and the beginnings of the new bond they were awkwardly forging together. He was looking forward to having another friend. Stiles reminded him a lot of Danny. Neither of them was afraid to be who they were. Jackson wanted to be like that one day, didn't want to hide behind so much bullshit.
"Okay, enough bromance." Stiles stepped away from Jackson, but he had a smile on his face.
Jackson had a smile on his face too.