"We are not watching The Notebook!" It was a unanimous declaration.
Stiles smiled at the fact that for once, that communal pack voice was not directed at him. He grabbed another pinch of garlic, tossed it into the tomato sauce he had simmering on the stove and cheerfully hummed to himself. He leaned back away from the stove he was slaving over and craned his neck to see the rest of the pack lounging in various positions in the living room.
Lydia was pouting, not used to having people say no to her. Allison patted her arm. Whispered what was probably some sort of reassurance to Lydia's wounded pride.
Stiles glanced back at the sauce. He added a dash of oregano before stretching his other arm out behind him blindly to grab for the wooden spoon resting on the opposite counter. He stirred as he stretched but he wasn't having any luck.
"Can someone come in here for a sec?" Stiles begged. He glanced back toward the living room while his fingers groped futilely for the handle of the spoon. "Anyone there? Guys, hello?"
From Stiles perspective it looked like Scott and Jackson were rummaging through movies they had spread out on the floor. They constantly pushed and pulled on each other, their bromance was getting way out of hand. They looked like one step away from sitting in a tub and washing each other's backs. He sighed wistfully and wished for better days, days when they hated each other. Life was so much simpler when Jackson was an irredeemable ass. Something had changed in the blonde after he'd become a werewolf but Stiles wasn't friendly enough for him to know what it was exactly. Blindly he groped about for the wooden handle. It should have been impossible but somehow it ended up in his hand.
Stiles licked his lips. His face furrowed up in confusion. Had he become psychic? He couldn't spare a glance over his shoulder with the sauce at the critical point of being either exceedingly delicious or tragically mediocre. Stiles was tired of tragically mediocre, now was the time for amazing, it was not the time to question his ascension to the ranks of the supernatural. Now was the time for action, cooking action.
"Something I can do to help?" someone behind him asked.
He dropped the spoon in shock. He winced as it clattered on the tiles of the kitchen floor. It was true, he had become psychic, not only was he psychic, but his power had driven him insane. He recognized the voice, but it was impossible for that voice to have said those words. Yes, he was psychic. That was the only reasonable explanation. He waved his hand experimentally behind him.
"What are you trying to do exactly?" Derek asked. Familiar traces of exasperation crept into the Alpha's voice.
"Do or do not, there is no try." Stiles sagely informed him.
Derek grunted. Stiles was more comfortable now that the older werewolf sounded like he normally did, surly with a hint of impatience, classic Derek. He tried not to swallow his tongue in shock when Derek leaned over and picked up the spoon, washed it in the sink. Stiles blinked when Derek joined him by the stove and began to stir the large pot of boiling pasta.
"That smells good." Derek nodded in the direction of the sauce pan Stiles was working with.
Stiles licked his lips nervously. He couldn't figure out Derek's angle. He seemed to be genuinely not about to tear Stiles throat out, which made Stiles slightly mistrusting. Derek would strike when Stiles least expected it.
"T-thanks." Stiles offered cautiously.
"Derek, tell them we are going to watch The Notebook," Lydia called from the living room.
The Alpha calmly removed the wooden spoon from the pot. He set it on a paper towel Stiles had placed on the counter for that very purpose. He walked into the living room to confront the playfully bickering male werewolves making a mess out of the living room floor. Jackson and Scott were at the epicenter of an expolsion of crumpled chip bags, DVDs, and empty cans of soda and rootbeer.
"Where's The Notebook?" Derek was using his 'Alpha Business Voice', which Stiles thought still sounded like his 'Shut Up Stiles I'm Talking' voice. Had no one ever taught the guy diction?
"Here…" Jackson mumbled. Stiles couldn't see the look on Jackson's face, but he definitely heard the quaver in his voice as he offered the DVD to Derek.
Without looking at anyone Derek took the DVD and walked over to the trash can that Scott and Jackson seemed incapable of using. He snapped the disc and case in half in one swift motion before dropping the pieces into the garbage
"No one is watching The Notebook." Derek said. It was a flat promise of certainty.
Derek's Alpha Strength: One, Chick Flicks: Zero.
Stiles laughed when he heard Jackson and Scott high-five each other. He felt slightly bad for Lydia, but it was probably a good learning experience if she didn't get whatever she wanted all the time.
"We should watch Hoosiers; it's the best sports movie of all time," Jackson suggested.
Without missing a beat, Derek walked back to the two boys and asked them in the same tone of voice he used earlier, "Where's Hoosiers?"
"Right here," Jackson said. He was excited but clearly didn't see where Derek was going, "it's right here."
Derek silently took the case, walked to the trash can, snapped the case with its fragile disc into two pieces and dropped the remains into the trash can. Stiles imagined he could hear both Jackson's tragic suffering and Lydia's righteous vindication.
Derek's Alpha Strength: One, Inspirational Sports Flicks: Zero.
"Stiles is making dinner. He gets to pick the movie. Scott and Jackson are cleaning up the living room because they're slobs. Lydia and Allison are washing and putting away the dishes after dinner." Derek rejoined Stiles in the kitchen.
"I'm not doing the dishes," Lydia stated with calm certainty. Her pride wrapped around her in a protective blanket.
"Wash the dishes or wash Stiles's dirty clothes once we return from the trip," Derek countered.
"I'll wash the dishes." Lydia made it sound as if it was her idea in the first place to salvage the tatters of her dignity.
Stiles thought he should be offended that she made the choice so quickly but he let it go with a sigh of satisfaction that he would not be doing all the work on his own. He was used to it being like that. His father was a busy guy and the house work had to be done by someone. He briefly worried that his father was face deep in a plate of curly fries with cheese sauce and swore to himself he'd call his father after dinner to make sure he was eating right.
Derek moved closer to Stiles and leaned over him sniffing at the sauce. Stiles added more spices to it. He licked his lips nervously. He spooned up a bit of the sauce and held it out toward Derek's face.
"Try for me?" Stiles asked. His voice shook a bit, the kitchen was hot. Derek the werewolf blast furnace standing so close to him was not helping. He felt sweat trickle down his back, he shivered.
The Alpha gave him a suspicious glance. Stiles grinned wondering if Derek thought he had added rat poison to the sauce as a combination of secret revenge and werewolf research. Cautiously Derek reached out and grasped Stiles's wrist to steady the spoon. His lips closed over the edge it, his eyes widened in surprise as he swallowed. "That's amazing," he said after he licked his lips.
"Well don't sound so surprised," Stiles huffed.
"So is there something I can do to help." Derek was being weird. Stiles had no idea why he wasn't being slammed into anything.
"You can dice up those peppers. You know... with the knife or whatever." Stiles mentioned the knife just in case werewolves diced vegetables differently, like with their teeth or claws or frowns or whatever. He shrugged innocently as Derek frowned at him. It forced Stiles's slight smile into a full blown grin. Derek probably thought he was scowling.
"That smells really great.I can't wait to try the food!" Allison called from the living room.
It didn't cause Stiles's chest to swell with pride or anything, or to like, make his insides flip nervously, or cause his eyes to go a little wet. Peppers were probably like onions. Stiles wasn't used to people noticing what he was doing unless it was pissing them off. Allison's honest praise had caught him off guard.
He didn't get to savor the moment for very long though before a hungry Scott crashed into him and wrapped an arm over his shoulders. His best friend stuck his head forward and sniffed at the sauce similar to the way Derek had. The wolf's tummy grumbled loud enough that Stiles had the ridiculous thought that he felt the vibration through Scott's arm. He was going to shoo his friend away but Derek whacked Scott solidly in the back of the head with the wooden spoon and told him to set the table.
Stiles grinned. Derek silently handed him the bowl of diced peppers. He washed the implement of Scott's punishment in the sink. Allison joined them in the kitchen. Without needing to be told what to do she grabbed a strainer from one of the cabinets and began the process of draining the water out of the spaghetti. She winked at Stiles when she noticed he was looking at her. Lydia silently joined Scott at the table, laying down napkins and filling glasses with ice water, straightening things that Scott placed haphazardly with a small smile on her lips.
Derek pulled ingredients for a salad from the fridge and set them near a large bowl before snapping his fingers. Stiles looked over his shoulder and realized that Derek was snapping at Jackson. The newest werewolf was hanging out at the edge of the kitchen, just sort of hovering. He looked a little nervous, maybe a little lonely or left out.
Stiles blinked. That wasn't the type of expression he was used to seeing on the guy. Derek pointed at the bowl and the supplies he had taken out. He handed Jackson a pair of tongues to mix everything together with. Jackson smiled and Stiles realized that Jackson was genuinely happy to be included in what was going on, to be a part of what they were doing.
They gathered around the dinner table, Allison and Scott next to each other on one side, Jackson and Lydia on the other. Derek sat directly across from Stiles at the head of the table. Stiles couldn't help but laugh at Scott and Jackson fighting over the garlic bread. He tried to brush it off when Allison and Lydia complimented him on his culinary skill. This trip was turning out to be as awesome as he had hoped it would be, in ways he had never dreamed that it could have been and it was only the first day.
Stiles watched his friends, looked towards Derek and saw something that he never thought he would. At the other end of the table, when he thought no one was watching, Derek smiled. Derek noticed Stiles watching him. His face went blank. Stiles winked at him, trying to let the Alpha know that it would be their little secret. Derek nodded slightly, like maybe somehow he understood. Stiles grinned; the brief smile wouldn't stop him from calling Derek 'Frowny' again in the future but he wouldn't spoil the moment they were having right now.
Derek held Stiles's gaze for a few moments. The two of them shared something the other four missed. That was alright. Everything about the moment was perfect, the easy camaraderie of the pack, the laughter, the sense of family and belonging. It was probably the reason Derek had brought them out in the first place. Derek's plan was working perfectly. Stiles would be damned before he'd give Derek the satisfaction of knowing he was right. Derek's expression suddenly turned curious at what was probably a goofy grin plastered all over his face but that was ok too. Derek didn't need to know everything.