dws note: um, so, this was NOT supposed to happen? "wild things" was definitely supposed to be a three-part series that is suddenly plotting out to be at least a five-part series and i CAN'T CONTROL THE SPREAD.

let the wild rumpus start

and they roared their terrible roars

When Stiles wakes up, it is to find Scott sitting at the edge of his bed, tugging at loose threads.

Well, that's ominous, Stiles thinks, trying to drag himself into consciousness. He's pretty sure it's Sunday. He's pretty sure that Scott has no right to be messing with his blankets and maybe potential existential crises this early on a Sunday.

"Dude," he says, keeping his eyes closed, "why, though?"

Scott breathes out half a laugh and pitches forward so that he's stretched out along Stiles, pulling the pillow out from under Stiles' head and tucking it under his chin.

"Allison has the kanima," he mutters.

"Yeah," Stiles agrees, still not opening his eyes. "I was there. I saw."

"Do you think . . ." he clears his throat. "Do you think that means she's going to become the kanima?"

Stiles sighs. He reaches out to blindly clutch at Scott's hair, attempting a pat. "Seeing that the kanimas—kanimi?—of recent history have been Jackson the Asshole and Gerard the Psychopath, I think that Allison has at least a fifty-percent chance of not going crazypants," he says in what he hopes is a reassuring voice. "Can I go back to sleep now?"

"Sure," says Scott, and Stiles feels movement as he gets off the bed. He hovers awkwardly at Stiles feet. "Oh and, um, I know about, err. The thing. Or I mean, I can guess. At it. At . . . the thing."

Stiles cracks open an eye. "The thing? What thing?"

Scott flushes red, looking the most uncomfortable that Stiles has ever seen him. "The, uh, the Derek thing?" he asks, wincing and focusing his gaze on the corner of Stiles' ceiling. "I can kind of, um. Smell it? On you?"

Stiles' other eye flies open and he stares at Scott. "Oh," he says dumbly. "That thing."

"Do, uh," attempts Scott, "do you want to talk about it?"

"No," answers Stiles immediately, waving his hands frantically in front of his face as if he can physically shove the question away. He scoots so that he is sitting up, back against the headboard. "No, not even sort of. Not even a little bit, no. No."

Scott nods. He looks relieved as he tugs at the net of Stiles' nearby lacrosse stick. His expression is carefully nonchalant as he says, "But, um, so, dudes, though? That's new, right?"

And oh God, Stiles realizes, Scott wants to talk about this, Scott wants to have some sort of, like, heart-to-heart about feelings and how they are bros forever and how Stiles can put his penis wherever he wants to, so long as he's happy or whatever.

Scott looks up suddenly, the panic clear in his eyes as he says, "Wait, that is new, right?" Stiles watches every moment of their friendship replay across Scott's face as his stupid potato of a best friend wonders if he's been breaking Stiles' heart for the last near-decade.

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Yeah. I mean. I still kind of want to taste Lydia's hair sometimes? So not that much has changed." He's only half-kidding.

The tension spools out of Scott's shoulders and he laughs, flopping back into Stiles' desk chair and kicking the bed with an easy familiarity that Stiles should have known better than to have been afraid to lose. "Trust Lydia to flavor it or something," he jokes, and then, "hey, wanna have pancakes?"

By which Scott clearly means "will you make me pancakes?" and Stiles wants to tell him to fuck off, but really he doesn't. Really he wants to make pancakes and watch Scott be excited about them, like the fact that Stiles is a good cook is the biggest revelation he's had today.

"You suck," he says, not meaning it.

"So do you, apparently," replies Scott, and runs out of the room before Stiles can throw a pillow at him.

.x.

Derek spends the morning running. He likes the way it feels to be breathless. Swimming had done this for him, once upon a time, but now all swimming pools have Kate Argent stamped on them, and the breathlessness he feels is not the same.

At lunchtime, he goes to Jackson's. It's not a conversation he wants to have, but he's supposed to be the adult here, so.

"What," says Jackson upon answering the door. "My parents are going to be home soon." He pauses. "Why do you smell weird?"

Derek brushes past him, walking inside. He can hear someone—Lydia, he decides upon taking a sniff—moving around in the kitchen, and follows the scent. He raises an eyebrow as he leans against the doorframe, watching her pour three perfectly even glasses of milk.

"I need to talk to you," Derek says as Jackson comes up behind him, smoothly ignoring the earlier question. "You're a werewolf now. There are responsibilities."

Jackson is wearing an unhappy face—does he have any others?—as he takes a seat at the kitchen table. He doesn't react when Lydia puts a glass in front of him. She drags one to the chair at his side and pushes the other into an empty seat. It takes Derek a moment to realize that it is for him.

He sits, but he doesn't take the milk, because he's not a four-year-old and because taking it feels oddly like commitment.

"I get it," Jackson mutters. He sounds like he's pouting. "Scott explained everything. Find an anchor, don't kill anybody, trust the instinct. What else is there?"

"The bite is a gift," Derek begins, and the sound that rips out of Jackson sounds like a scab being ripped off of an unready wound.

"Oh, sorry," says Jackson, half-hysterical, "I thought you just said that the thing that made me a serial killer was a gift."

"Jackson," Lydia murmurs, dropping her hand to his leg. He doesn't look at her, but he stiffens his jaw and doesn't say anything else. Lydia's fingers tighten on her glass of milk and she looks over at Derek, raising a prim eyebrow. "Are you here to offer him a place in your pack?" she asks, but her voice makes it clear that phrasing the words as a question is a courtesy. Her voice makes it clear that what's she's actually saying is you are here to offer Jackson a place in your pack.

Derek frowns. "If he wants it," he says carefully. "If he's willing to accept the pack rules."

"Excellent," says Lydia, and ignores the look Jackson shoots her. "Drink your milk."

"I'm not—" Derek begins, but Lydia talks over him as she says, "Drink your milk."

He brings the glass automatically to his lips and he thinks he sees Jackson smile, a little.

.x.

Sent Mail

to: JEZEBEL

so i'm dating a dude now because i guess i like them and also their penises

Inbox (1)

from: JEZEBEL

bambi shut the fuck up are you serious

Inbox (2)

from: JEZEBEL

is what someone who was surprised would say

Inbox (3)

from: JEZEBEL

but the fact that we met in a gay bar was kind of a give away. now tell mama j everything and i will know if you're making him sound hotter than he is

Sent Mail

to: JEZEBEL

he's 23, he favors scruff, his hotness is an offense to humanity and if there was any justice in the world there would be a tv show called "derek hale has a face" and it would air 24/7

Sent Mail

to: JEZEBEL

and before you ask wtf he is doing dating me remember that i have NO FUCKING IDEA

Inbox (1)

from: JEZEBEL

i'm sorry did you say derek hale? ARRESTED FOR MURDER derek hale?

Sent Mail

to: JEZEBEL

he was exonerated?

Fifteen minutes after he sends the text to Jezebel, Stiles' doorbell rings. He opens it with half a banana shoved into his mouth. The lady herself raises an eyebrow as she says, "Practicing?"

He chokes a little, and spits the banana out into the garden. "What are you doing here?" Then he blinks, looking her over.

She's wearing pants and a light blue button-down, a bowtie hanging undone like arms on either side of her neck. She's in loafers. She's—Stiles is confused about his pronouns. "Why are you dressed like that?" he blurts without thinking.

She rolls her eyes. "I went to church this morning," she says, and pushes past him into the house like she owns it. "I didn't have anything else that was appropriate. It's laundry day."

"Oh," agrees Stiles faintly. "Okay then."

He follows her into the living room where she flops down on the couch, nodding at Scott—who is sitting cross-legged in his Dad's chair—and points the remote at the TV, shutting it off.

"You're the other baby from Jungle, right?" Jezebel asks, quirking an eyebrow. "The one getting all the free drinks?"

Scott looks pleased. "Hey, yeah," he says. "Stiles, did you hear that? I'm a memorable fake gay person!"

"Good on you," Stiles says dully. "Scott, Jezebel. Jezebel, Scott."

"Nice to meet you," Scott offers, stretching out to offer his hand. "I think I saw you at Lydia's party, right? You had on that blonde wig? It was nice. Though I mean, looking like a dude, that's cool too. I like your shirt."

Jezebel looks at Stiles, expression flabbergasted. "Is he for real?" she asks.

Stiles laughs, sinking down next to Jezebel on the couch. "Ladies and gentlemen, Scott McCall."

She makes a small, considering sound, and then focuses her eyes on Stiles in a way that makes him distinctly nervous. He has a feeling he's about to get yelled at.

"Derek Hale?" she says, with no segue whatsoever. "I mean Jesus, Bambi, are you trying to get eaten by the big bad wolf?"

A choked sound stumbles out of Scott's mouth, and Stiles shrugs. "You're mixing your metaphors. And once you get to know him," he begins, but Jezebel holds up a hand, cutting him off. Her nails are painted bright pink. It's comforting, what with all the casual clothes.

"Not interested," she says flatly. "You like him, he's into it, whatever. Get some, honey. All I'll say is that if things get out of hand, go for the balls. With your fingernails. Got it?"

"Uuummm," says Stiles, as a bite of pancake falls out of Scott's shocked, open mouth.

"And I am going to lend you all of my 'Queer as Folk' DVDs, because clearly you need them."

"I think—"

"You are not thinking with the right organ, sweet cheeks," Jezebel says smoothly. "Though, hey. Why not. Give that overactive brain of yours a break." She (he? Stiles doesn't know the etiquette here) settles back against the cushions. "So, how far along are we? Who's touched what, with what?"

"Oh my God," says Scott.

.x.

Erica, Boyd, and Isaac are waiting at the ice rink when he gets back. Isaac is draped over the hood of the Zamboni. Erica and Boyd are locked in a bout of Mortal Kombat that could be anyone's game. Derek shrugs his jacket off and leaves it in a heap on the floor. Boyd barely looks up from the game as he says, "Dude, pick that shit up. Rude."

He glances down at the jacket, surprised. On autopilot, he bends down and curls his fingers into the leather before tossing it onto the pile of clothes that has been gathering in the corner. They don't have closets or anything that resembles a dresser.

He is reminded, suddenly, dizzyingly, of Laura. She hated it when he made a mess. Their apartment in New York had been a study in neatly folded piles and a never-ending war on cockroaches.

"I spoke with Jackson today," Derek says, trying to bring the conversation back around to somewhere that doesn't conjure any ghosts. "We're bringing him into the pack."

Erica pauses the video game. She and Boyd exchange a glance, and Isaac sits up. "We are?" Isaac asks carefully.

"Don't you mean that you are?" Erica adds. She looks annoyed, crossing her arms over her chest. "Thanks for asking if we wanted to adopt a douchebag little orphan. No dibs on babysitting the serial killer."

"Erica," Boyd scolds quietly.

"What?" she snaps. "He's an asshole. We all think he's an asshole."

"He's one of us," Derek tells her, his voice brooking no argument. Her resistance surprises him. There is power in numbers, and Jackson—for all his issues—will be a strong addition to the team once he learns to master the shift. He's popular, wealthy, and well placed within the community. Bringing him into the pack is the obvious move.

Isn't it?

Erica unfolds her arms as she stands. "No, he's not," she says. "He's a werewolf. That doesn't make him one of us."

"We're werewolves," Derek reminds her, raising himself to his full height. He lets his eyes flash a little red.

She curls back her lip. "That doesn't mean he gets automatic entrance!" she cries. "Anyone can get bitten! What, are we going to start cuddling with your uncle now just because we've all got the same dentist?"

"That's different," Derek snarls, getting into her space. Her eyes flash yellow, an automatic response to her Alpha, but she doesn't back down.

"Why? Because you don't like him?"

"Because he's a murderer."

"So is Jackson!"

Derek's teeth stretch out and he leans in, growling low in his throat. "I am the Alpha, and the decision is made," he tells her, and he feels the beta in Erica snap to attention as it submits.

Her eyes are still yellow as she backs off, but her fists clench at her sides. "Whatever," she says, and shoves past him. "You want him in your pack, have him. But don't think for a second that he's any brother of mine."

She walks out. Derek watches her go, her scent full of anger and resentment . . . is that . . . fear? He frowns.

Isaac and Boyd don't say anything, though Derek can feel the misery spilling out of Isaac and discomfort bunched around Boyd. He knows that there is something he should say here, a question he should ask, but instead he makes his words gruff as he mutters, "Any other objections?"

Isaac looks anxious. "She's just—"

Boyd cuts him off with a glare. Isaac sighs and runs a hand through his hair.

Derek files away the moment in his head, tells himself that he will get to the bottom of the silences later, but a part of him knows that there is no such thing as a bottom to silence.

He shifts his weight from one foot to the other. No one is dissenting any more, but the air still feels wrong, uncomfortable. He doesn't know what to say to make it better—if there even is something to say that would make it better.

He lowers himself onto the couch and fiddles with his phone. He wants to text Erica. He wants to text Stiles. He wants Laura to tell him what to do.

Hey, Lo, he thinks to himself, I think I got peer-pressured into dating a minor and how do teenage girls work?

Instead, he pretends to be absorbed in the blankness of his cell phone's screen. Isaac and Boyd sit slowly in front of the TV and resume the Mortal Kombat battle, subdued. After a few minutes, Isaac looks up and asks quietly, "What's that smell?"

It's me, Derek thinks, and it's Stiles, but he shrugs instead of answering. He doesn't want to say Stiles' name aloud, afraid that reifying the way Stiles hands look when they are white-knuckled in his shirt collar will shatter the feeling.

"I must have rubbed against something in the woods," he mutters.

.x.

After dinner, Stiles heads over to the animal hospital. They close up around seven, but Stiles has it on good authority that Dr. Deaton always stays late doing paperwork and readying the office for the next day.

He knocks on the glass, hands shoved into the front pocket of his sweatshirt. It's starting to rain.

Dr. Deaton emerges from the back and smiles, giving Stiles a little wave as he comes over to unlock the door.

"So, I'm the Little Engine that Could," Stiles says in way of greeting as Dr. Deaton waves him in. "That's what the whole 'be the spark,' thing was about when you were talking about the Mountain Ash, isn't it?"

"Rowan," says Dr. Deaton, and Stiles does a double take.

"What?"

"It's the scientific name for Mountain Ash. Rowan."

"My middle name is Rowan."

"I know."

They look at each other for a moment. Dr. Deaton re-locks the door and drops the key into his pocket. He walks to the back of the waiting room and gestures over his shoulder for Stiles to follow him. They pass through the operating room into the back office, where Dr. Deaton pulls a drawer out of the filing cabinet. From underneath where the drawer was, he withdraws a green cloth ledger.

Yelena is written across the top in gold lettering.

Stiles' breath catches in his throat. "That's," he says, and Dr. Deaton nods.

"Your mother's," he says. "She gave it to me when she first realized that she was sick. In case she didn't have time to teach you."

Stiles feels his hands clench into fists. "Why are you just telling me this now?" he asks. "Why didn't you—she's been dead for years, she—this whole time, you've had a piece of her and you didn't—?"

"What would I have said, Stiles?" Dr. Deaton asks, his voice soft. "You didn't know anything about this world. You were just a boy. If it were up to me you still wouldn't know what you are, not for years."

Stiles tears his eyes from the ledger and meets those of Dr. Deaton. "And what am I?" he asks, the words tumbling out of his mouth before he can make them sound less desperate.

"A guide," Dr. Deaton says. "An advisor. You have power—not a lot, not as much as, say, a witch, but some. Out of necessity, you can . . . make things happen, as it were. You are the protector of those you are bound to, just as they protect and are bound to you."

Stiles frowns. "So I'm what, like Dumbledore or something?"

"Or something, anyway," Dr. Deaton agrees dryly. "For every family of born werewolves, there is a family of guides, of—"

"Baba Yagas," Stiles supplies. "That's what Peter said my mother called it."

"Yes," agrees Dr. Deaton. "All legends are founded in truth."

"So . . ." he shifts uncomfortably. "If my mother was Peter's, um, guide, does that—does that make me Derek's?"

He's not sure what he wants the answer to be.

Dr. Deaton pushes the green ledger toward him. "Yes, and no," he says. "I was Derek's mother's, on her father's side. Your mother was Peter's because of his wife. It follows that Derek could belong to either one of us. I haven't . . . as of yet, I haven't thought that any sort of official claim needed to be made."

He levels Stiles with a deliberate look, a look that says he knows exactly where Stiles' mouth has been. "Oh, um, no," Stiles agrees quickly. "No, nothing official, why would we need to make anything official? No." Dr. Deaton covers a smile with his hand, but don't think Stiles doesn't notice it. Why do adults find the agony of being young and wanting to get laid so hilarious?

A thought occurs to him. "What about Scott?" he asks. "He's not a born werewolf. Does he get a Baba Yaga?"

Dr. Deaton nods. "His will be the Baba Yaga of the pack he joins," he explains. "So, if he is part of Derek's pack . . ."

"Then I'm his Baba Yaga," Stiles says with a nod, and then catches himself. "Er—hypothetically."

"Hypothetically," agrees Dr. Deaton, but he sounds amused.

Stiles rubs his hand over his buzzed scalp. He wants to reach out and take the ledger for himself, but isn't sure he's ready to see his mother's neat handwriting. He's been staring at Russian characters for so long that he's forgotten what her pens had looked like when they curved the bell of a g. He shoves his hands into his pockets, takes them out again, puts them back.

"She wasn't," he hears himself say, and swallows. What I thought she was, he doesn't finish. She wasn't what I thought she was.

"She loved you," Dr. Deacon tells him gently, leaning forward. "Both of you."

Stiles doesn't meet his eyes. "Yeah," he says.

.x.

"Is there a reason," Peter asks when he appears in the doorway, "that you think it's all right to live with a bunch of teenagers at an ice rink? Are you fulfilling some Boxcar Children fantasy?"

Derek leaps to his feet, eyes ringing red and teeth extending. Peter holds up his hands, wrists loose. He's got on dark sunglasses that rest at the bottom of his nose so he can peer over them. "Easy, killer," he appeases, and tilts his head up, offering his neck. "See? Submission. Pack. Family. Kumbaya."

"You're just saying random shit," Derek growls. He doesn't advance. But he doesn't back off, either. "What do you want."

"Okay, first of all, they weren't random, and I'm hurt that you think so little of my social skills," Peter tells him, lowering his hands and pulling his sunglasses off his face. He folds them delicately before tucking them into the back pocket of his jeans. "And secondly, I come with a peace offering. I'm sorry about the whole 'Alpha' thing. Not my finest performance, I admit. But we all do silly things when we've been in a near-comatose state for ten years, amirite?"

"What do you want," Derek repeats.

"To be part of your pack."

Derek's teeth recede a little. He keeps his eyes red. "Why," he asks carefully, "would I want a total psycho like you in my pack?"

Peter looks hurt. "Okay, I am not a total psycho. And you're the one that slashed my neck open, but hey. We're all works in progress, so."

Derek growls.

"All right, all right. Jesus, you are testy. Is this what living with teenagers does to you? Because, if you want my advice, sticking to a strictly eighteen-and-up rule when picking betas might do a lot for your irritability problem." Before Derek can answer, or maybe just leap at him with his teeth bared, Peter goes on, "Look, we left our last conversation in a bad place. I feel awkward about it, I really do. You burned my family alive, I murdered your sister . . . it's an uncomfortable history. But we have bigger problems right now. I'm willing to let bygones be bygones."

Derek schools his expression, bringing his hands down to his sides and blunting his nails. He's not an idiot—he doesn't trust Peter, won't ever trust Peter, but there is something in the way that his uncle is standing. His stance looks relaxed, hips jut out and shoulders slumped, but there is tension gathered at his joints, a kind of nervous flicker to his fingers.

And—

He's family.

Derek doesn't like him, Derek doesn't trust him, but he's family. There isn't anybody else left.

"What are our bigger problems?" he asks slowly, and Peter smiles grimly as he tosses piece of wood that smells like ashes onto the floor between them.

It has a triskele on it.

"Alphas," Peter says.

.x.

Stiles sits on his bed with his legs crossed, his mother's ledger balanced on one knee and his laptop on the other. As it turns out, learning Russian is actually really, super hard.

"Dude, Google Translate, you suck," he grumbles. He snaps the laptop closed and flops back onto his pillows, legs still tucked up beneath him.

He closes his eyes. Dr. Deaton hadn't been able to help him with the translation, because Dr. Deacon is from Seattle, and apparently knowledge of Russian is not inherent to magical witch guides across the globe. Stiles' Mom must have had some serious language lessons planned for when he was old enough to learn them. But she's dead now, and all Stiles has of her is a job he doesn't understand and a book he can't read.

"Fuck Russia," he says aloud, and Derek answers, "History mostly has."

He sits up so quickly that he twists his neck. "Ahhhh! Fuck!" he cries, clutching at the nape. "Owowow shit I hate that, fuck."

Derek grins a little, lowering himself carefully into Stiles' desk chair. They sit in silence for a while, neither of them looking at the other. Stiles chews on his lip. What is the protocol here? Are they boyfriends? Is he supposed to, like, kiss him hello, or invite him onto the bed, (or is that slutty?) or—

"Stop freaking out," Derek snaps irritably, and Stiles realizes that his heart is beating so fast that he could be the soundtrack to Jaws.

He frowns. "Than stop being all Tall Dark and Broody, you're making me nervous," he snaps back. "This wouldn't be so hard if you could just act like a normal human." Derek raises an eyebrow. "Oh, you know what I mean," Stiles says, rolling his eyes.

He's quiet for a minute before saying slowly, almost cautiously, "It wouldn't be so hard if it weren't wildly inappropriate and borderline—"

"No," Stiles hears himself say, the word quick and panicky, "no, you said you would stop. Don't. Just—don't."

Derek blows a breath out of his nose. He looks like he wants to say more, but instead he just nods at the book on Stiles' lap. "Do you want me to try my hand at it?" he asks.

Stiles blinks at him, then down at the book. He had forgotten entirely that this was something that Derek could do. It's just hard to imagine Derek doing or reading anything that wasn't werewolf-related. The idea that he might have once pored over literature, for fun, is almost unbelievable.

"Um, if you don't mind?" he asks, but doesn't hand the book over. "It was—the book, it's . . . uh. It belonged to my mother."

He thinks he sees a softening in Derek's expression, even just a tiny one. "Did you go to see Deacon?" Derek asks, kicking his feet—with his shoes still on, the asshole—up onto Stiles' bed.

"Yeah. Baba Yaga status: confirmed."

"Mine?"

Stiles tries not to react to the way the word sounds spilling out of Derek's mouth, so casual, like he's not thinking about it, like the answer is obvious. He looks hard down at the bed and just says, "Not anyone else's, anyway."

Derek reaches forward and grabs Stiles' ankle, dragging him down to the foot of the bed. Stiles flails, yelping, and tries not to blush at Derek's dry raised eyebrow because fuck your smooth moves, man, Stiles is new at this. Derek plucks the ledger off Stiles' lap and skims his eyes over it.

He frowns a little, focusing, and Stiles watches his face as he reads, eyes squinting every now and then, muscle working in his jaw. He has never seen him like this, never seen him not paying attention, never seen him do anything that he looks like he enjoys.

He's not thinking clearly as he pulls the ledger away and pushes his face into Derek's line of vision, which is a bad plan because he wants to know what it says. It's like really, vitally important that he finds out what his mother has written there. He's pretty sure that it's going to be a really ineffective lifestyle choice to just like, seduce Derek every time he gets his Reading Face on, but—

Derek laughs a little, quietly, and Stiles doesn't know why that sound is heartbreaking, but it is, it hurts to see the way that Derek's eyes crinkle just a little when he laughs. He can't keep looking and he can't look away so he just stretches up and pushes his mouth against Derek's and swallows the sound.

"I thought you wanted me to translate," Derek says against his lips, and Stiles nods, "Yes, I do, yes."

Derek pulls away a little. In what seems like an unconscious gesture, he tugs on Stiles' ear. "I can't do both, moron."

And there's the sourwolf that Stiles knows and loves. He feels all the anxiety pour out of him. That weird moment, when Derek being happy was painful to see, passes. Stiles feels himself grin and remembers that Derek is a big huge chickenpants when it comes to all this. He puts his hands on Derek's thighs and feels the amusement humming through the werewolf's body, feels the other man's exasperation and impossible fondness, and kisses him again.

Derek hasn't shaved in a few days and the stubble burns, but Stiles forgets to think about it when Derek's hand comes up behind his neck and he pushes his tongue into Stiles' mouth. Stiles tightens his grip on Derek's thigh with his left hand and clutches at his collar with his right, acutely aware of how much space is between them from the neck down.

"Dude," he realizes after a minute, the feeling buzzing through his left hand, "you like me a lot."

Derek rolls his eyes. "No, I don't," he says. "You're just persistent."

Stiles raises the left hand and waves spirit fingers. "Baba Yaga's Magical Werewolf Emotion Reader," he sing-songs. "You have a big old wolf boner for one Stiles Stilinski."

"Oh my God," Derek intones flatly, pushing Stiles back, "get off. Give me the book."

Stiles laughs, and obeys, and neither of them talk about the way Stiles' hand stays soft on his knee as he reads.

.x.

Stiles falls asleep like that, his hand on Derek's knee and his chin dropping against his chest. Derek had come over initially in order to tell Stiles about the Alphas, but . . . but the Russian twist of Yelena Stilinski's handwriting had appealed, had reminded him of easier desires than the constant thrum of survival, and Stiles had been releasing waves of frustration and misery—frustration and misery that Derek could actually do something about.

He sits perfectly still, closing his eyes. Stiles breathes softly, tipping slightly forward, and Derek listens to the sound of his heart beating at—finally—a normal rate.

"You'd like him," he says out loud to Laura. "You'd like him more than you ever liked me."

And that is the truth that Derek tries not to think about: that Laura had loved him, had guarded him, had stayed by him, but they were bound together because of the fire. In a world where Derek was not a by-proxy murderer, she would have seen him on holidays and teased him about girls and never taken a step closer than that because she would have had no reason to.

Derek had loved literature and swimming and not hanging out with anybody that didn't have elongated canines; Laura had loved concerts and the rush of driving fast with the top down, the press of crowds and the heat of the spotlight. Laura had watched reality television with rabidity and passion; she had read four pages of War and Peace before throwing it at him with an emphatic, "oh my God, just, no."

But Stiles, Derek thinks with an almost desperate surety, Stiles she would have wanted to stick around for.

Stiles makes a sound like a question as Derek shakes his head, extricating himself gently. He pushes Stiles until the kid is lying face-up on his back.

"You goin'?" Stiles mumbles, not opening his eyes. "'Cause we could make out more. I'm awake."

"You're really not," Derek tells him. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Stiles cracks an eye. "Yeah?" he asks. "Will you come in through the front door like a normal person?"

"No," says Derek.

Stiles shrugs, sliding sleepily beneath the blankets. "Okay," he murmurs, agreeably enough. "I'll leave a reading light on."

Derek slips out of the window.

.x.

interlude

Allison sits on the foot of her bed, legs crossed. Scott hasn't called in the day since the showdown in her basement, and she's almost prepared to be glad of it.

There is a time and a place written in breath and fingers on her car window, but she's been wiping them away for days now and she can't tell anymore when they're new. She has her bedroom window locked. Scott looks perfect when he smiles but Allison has to be strong, stronger, strongest. Allison has to be better than the way her stomach flips when he kisses her and better than the way her teeth ache when she thinks of him alone in the woods, waiting.

Her hands are shaking and she reaches out instinctively to touch the crossbow at her side. Her mother is dead and Aunt Kate is dead. Allison is the only one left, and women are leaders, and the world is full of shadows that do not have Scott's careful hands.

Downstairs, her father moves around in the kitchen. He thinks she doesn't know that he spent the afternoon breaking glass against the fence outside. He thinks she doesn't know that there is a knife with her mother's blood on it in the second drawer of his dresser. He thinks she doesn't know that these things are her fault.

Allison's grandfather hunches on her floor, tail flicking out behind him, tongue long and slick as he hisses. He hasn't changed back from kanima form, stalking around instead with eyes that alternate black and gold and dripping venom. There are rabbits in the backyard that can do no more than twitch.

"We hunt those that hunt us," Allison reminds herself. And make no mistake, a voice whispers that sounds like her mother, like her aunt, like herself: make no mistake, Allison. There are monsters that hunt us. Scott McCall has a jaw that goes uneven when he sees her, but he is not the rule.

There will be blood, her grandfather reminds her, nudging up against her foot with pointed and careless teeth. You promised.

She meets his reptilian eyes and doesn't let herself look away.