"I know you're great at disappearing if you don't want to be seen," Stiles announced to the air, "so the fact that I've been seeing you out of the corner of my eye for the last four days leads me to believe you actually have something to say." He waited, staring straight ahead, but no werewolves were forthcoming.

"Okay, fine," he snapped, getting an odd look from a couple who hurried towards their car. Lowering his voice, Stiles finished, "Stalking is still a criminal offence, just so you know," and turned around, walking right into Derek. Predictable.


"What do you want?" Stiles asked, keeping his eyes on Derek's. He wasn't a wolf and had no intention of submitting in any form.

"The pack needs your help."

Stiles jerked in response before he could get it under control, then clenched his jaw in anger. This was the type of shit that had made him back away from all things supernatural in the first place.

"Wow, really?" Stiles didn't bother containing his sarcasm, and watched with a sort of detached amusement as Derek's expression went from 'irritated' to 'thunderous'. "Four months of radio silence then you loom up in a parking lot and expect me to do your bidding? Get one of your mutley minions to do the dirty work."

Stiles tried to move around Derek but found himself body-checked at every turn. Derek's mouth was twisted like there was something he didn't want to ask.

"What?" Stiles yelled, finally pushed to the limit by wolves and pack and fucking Derek. "What do you want from me?"

"The pack needs you to act as representative," Derek began but Stiles cut him off with a laugh that sounded ugly even to him.

"Oh my God, you're actually serious aren't you?" Stiles took a moment to marvel at the sheer audacity of Derek asking such a thing, and ignored the hot prickle of disquiet in his gut. "You really think I'm going to agree to be a representative for a pack I am not, and never have been, a part of?"

Derek flinched as Stiles threw his own words back in his face. He shifted like he was ready to say something, to argue, but Stiles just held up a hand.

"No. Move."

Derek eyed him a long moment, then slid out of the way. Stiles was aware of eyes on him until his jeep turned the corner and was hidden by the trees.

It wasn't that he missed the pack exactly, he had new friends now – Derek's assholishness had done wonders for his social life, if not his self-esteem – but sometimes, when it was impossible to ignore, it still ached a little that he hadn't been good enough, or whatever Derek had decided. It hurt more that the friends he thought he'd had just sort of melted away, like he hadn't been saving their arses for the better part of a year.

Whatever, it didn't matter now. Stiles unpacked the groceries and called some of the guys from the Lacrosse team and arranged to meet up. He had no intention of sitting at home stewing over Derek's words.


Stiles wasn't surprised to find Scott in his room looking sheepish, but he was pissed. He kicked off his shoes and sat down at his computer before he acknowledged his best friend.

"Does he really think sending you is going to make a difference?" Stiles asked eventually, eyes on the screen in front of him. "Really, Scott? Really?"

Scott was still his best friend, pretty much the only member of Derek's pack who Stiles still acknowledged (except Jackson, but that was an oddity even to Stiles so he tried not to think about it too much) but the rift had put strain on their friendship, strong as it was. Scott had Isaac now, and Stiles had his own friends and that was just how it was.

"I'm sorry," Scott said in reply, sounding genuinely apologetic. Stiles knew he was, and his previously tight shoulders loosened somewhat.

"Want to watch a movie?"

Scott gave him a blinding grin, the goober, and settled on the bed, leaving space for Stiles and his laptop to squish in beside him.


In an unexpected twist to events, it was Allison who tried next. She sidled up to Stiles in the library, as much as anyone who can take a kill-shot at a moving target from three hundred feet can sidle, and even managed to look sheepish doing it.

"Allison," Stiles greeted, after a brief second debating whether to ignore the girl and walk away or not. She and Scott were back on 'speaking' terms though, and Stiles couldn't face an evening of Scott's baleful sad-face which would be the consequence.

"Scott needs you," she said without preamble. That had always been what Stiles had liked about Allison, her get straight to the point attitude. Right now it made him want to smack her.

"Scott has me," he countered, careful to tamp down the anger that she even had the audacity to try and use Scott against him.

"The Pack needs you," she tried again, but her voice and her stance were a little less sure. It was clear she had thought a Scott-move would work. Stiles sighed before pivoting and deliberately meeting her eye.

"Screw the Pack," he said and, hefting his bag onto his shoulder, walked out.


The rest of them weren't stupid enough to try, but that didn't stop Derek from lurking everywhere Stiles was for the next four days. Stiles gritted his teeth and bore it because he was not caving under any amount of pressure, not even the psychological kind. He was done with their shit and it was time to make that clear.

Jackson leaping into his room, wild eyed with his shirt ripped half open put paid to that idea.

"They took Isaac," he scrambled out before Stiles could start yelling. Something cold and clenched settled at the top of Stiles spine before he made a concerted effort to shake it off.

"You're his Pack," Stiles replied, forcing himself still, "You sort it out."

"We can't!" Jackson snarled and Stiles, pushed to the limits with just every-fucking-thing, found himself yelling back, "Why the hell not?"

"Because Vampires will only deal with a non-supernatural Negotiator."

Jackson's whole face had turned into a rictus of wincing awkwardness and Stiles squeezed his eyes shut briefly before turning to face, yes, Derek Goddamned Hale. Who was standing just inside his bedroom window like he'd been invited.


Stiles didn't bring up all the times he'd asked Derek if Vampires existed and all the times Derek had rolled his eyes and told him not to be stupid. He didn't have to because Derek could see it, clear as moonlight, written all over his face. And it was just one more tick in the 'Derek-Hale-is-a-lying-jackass' box. Stiles wasn't even surprised any more.

"Start talking," he commanded because Gods knew he didn't want to get involved in this but Isaac was Scott's…something and Scott was Stiles best friend and that usurped everything.


Stiles had thrown both Jackson and Derek out around dawn and spent the rest of the day researching. Late afternoon he caught a catnap then, as dusk was settling in, threw on some clothes and jumped into the jeep.

When he got to the warehouse district (which still made him snort, three abandoned warehouses did not a district make) the Pack was there waiting. Their restlessness hit him the moment he opened the jeep door and slid to the ground.

"Take your time, Stilinski," Erica snarled, trying to crowd into his space. Stiles didn't even acknowledge her, just headed toward Derek.

"I am doing the negotiating," he said in lieu of an opening, "We're doing this my way or I am out and you can take your chances with the coven." A coven. Of Vampires. Stiles would have shaken his head but he was busy locking eyes with an agitated Derek.

Derek's jaw twitched, lips clenched tight but Stiles didn't miss the hint of fang that peeked down before Derek managed to swallow himself back. His nod was terse but he pulled up the rear as Stiles marched towards the gaping maw of the darkest warehouse. He hadn't even known there were levels of dark in abandoned buildings until now.

The Pack became tenser the closer they got, and Stiles had the distinct sense that the ink-black wasn't as empty as it had been. There was a pronounced feeling of eyes and blood and decay that had Stiles skin crawling with revulsion that he did not show an ounce of.

The Pack hovered just inside the door as they crossed the threshold into the warehouse, but Stiles continued into the centre of the room, Derek right behind him.

"Show him to me," he announced into the silence and then waited. They had made their move. The ball was in something else's court now.

A sudden howl of wind tore through the space, distinct flapping around his head, something brushing his ear and then there was soft illumination, Derek growling at his back and his own pounding heart.

"Dramatic," he conceded to the space in front of him, just beyond the scope of light. His whole body was throbbing with adrenalin but he refused to show any at all. Stiles was Stiles and some things would never change.

"This is a delight." The voice whispered like old paper from the gloom and a woman stepped forward. Except, not a woman. So much more than that. Stiles fought the urge to submit; an urge he'd never had before, not even with Derek.

"You have something that doesn't belong to you," he countered, keeping his own voice clear and flat, "Show him to me."

Isaac was there, unseen hands holding him down, dark and light playing grotesquely over his face. His eyes were bright and afraid but he seemed unharmed. Stiles tilted his head in Derek's direction and received the hint of a snort in return. Definitively unharmed then.

"You took something that wasn't yours to take." Stiles returned his eyes to the thing in front of him, making his voice hard. "That was a mistake."

"I was under the impression you had no human in your pack," she murmured in reply, eyes on Derek. Stiles felt the whisper of tombs and unpleasant dankness in the air and shivered.

"He doesn't," he interrupted before Derek could open his mouth and either lie or just fuck everything up in general.

"Interesting." The woman's eyes, focused on Stiles, were creepy in a way that made the better part of his brain want to shut everything out until it all went away. Stiles shoved it down. "Most packs have a few human members."

"Not this human."

Derek was stiff-still behind him, in a way that affected the very air, but Stiles was too busy staring down a head Vampire to worry about his Alpha ego. The Vampire in question smiled in a way that made Stiles want to cry, and drifted closer, head tilted eerily.

"So you aren't affiliated…"

"He is protected by the pack," Derek snarled and Stiles sighed in the privacy of his own mind. Only Derek, with his inability to deal with pretty much anyone, would snarl at a head Vampire when they had only found out about the actual existence of Vampires eight days ago. Well, some of them had. Stiles gritted his teeth against the urge to deny deny deny and waited the Vampire out.

"I believe humans have to accept the protection for it to be valid." Her voice was like scraping a bone raw and then she was a blur. In the space between all the wolves in the room tensing, the Vampire was dancing away, hissing, and Stiles was rocking on his feet, iron baton in his hand.

The Vampire touched her jaw where the baton had left an angry red burn, face turning pensive as her fingers slid across the puckered skin. Then she laughed, a low, unexpectedly musical sound.

"You are full of surprises. You would be an asset to my coven."

Derek, growling furiously, stepped forward but Stiles shot his arm out across Derek's chest, eyes never leaving the thing in front of him. She clicked her fingers and a girl appeared from the darkness, eyes vacant, offering up her wrist. As the Vampire drank, the mark on her face receded until not even a hint was left.

"Thank you Clara," she said and the girl was gone in a shift of darkness. The Vampire stood straight and her face fell into something far more human. There was an air of business around her that relaxed Stiles shoulders slightly.

"Not part of the pack." It wasn't a question.

"Let's call me an independent negotiator," Stiles countered, "Stilinski."

She smiled. A genuine one.

"Very well Negotiator Stilinski, let's get to work."

Three hours of negotiations and a deal was hammered out. The Vampires recognised Hale pack territory, and would be moving on within the day. In return the wolves would leave the Vampires alone, provided they kept their teeth to themselves. Stiles body slumped now that his work was done, head sore from the politics and word plays, but his hand stayed tight on his baton.

"You're sure I cannot lure you, Negotiator Stilinski?" the Vampire asked once again, her voice honeyed sweet in a way that Stiles knew was put on for his benefit. "I have a great deal of…knowledge to offer." Stiles ignored the angry wolves as he shook his head.

"Apologies lady but I intend my life to be supernatural free from now on. I'm flattered though, truly." He flashed her a grin, just because he could, and she nodded.

"If you change your mind…"

"I will not be contacting you," Stiles replied solemnly. The Vampire laughed throatily then reached out, stroking a finger down the air by Stiles cheek.

"Pity." Her eyes were wistful and Stiles felt a momentary tightening of the atmosphere before she sighed and shook herself. "Alpha Hale," she nodded and was gone, the space around them feeling oddly bereft.

Outside there was nothing but empty buildings and empty night. Stiles breathed out the fear he had been holding low in his gut, Scott at his side in an instant.

"I do not miss this," he announced and ignored the way Scott flinched, just a little. "Are we done? Can I go home?"

"How did you do that?" Boyd's voice, almost disembodied, turned Stiles head. "How did you make her back off?"

"Iron." Stiles hefted the baton in his hand, ignoring the way the wolves watched the movement closely. "Works on all magical creatures."

"It doesn't work on Werewolves," Scott put in, eyebrows scrunched in concentration.

"Werewolves aren't magical." Stiles kept his eyes away from Derek. "You guys are just a genetic mutation. Weird, but perfectly natural."

No one spoke for a long minute and Stiles listened to them breathing, remembering when he knew this sound intimately, each person's specific inhale-exhale pattern, before shaking Scott off and heading to his jeep.

"If you have any more problems," he called over his shoulder, "Please, don't think of me."


Stiles knew Derek was in his yard, had been since he got home, but he chose to ignore it until it was late enough that he should have been in bed hours ago. Sighing heavily, he threw on some clothes and headed downstairs and into the backyard.

The wind was biting cold and Stiles tried to shrink further into his hoodie to conserve heat. Derek stayed in the middle of the yard, not backing off but not coming closer either. Stiles sighed loudly and threw his eyes up at the stars at Derek's inability to make anything easy, even an awkward non-thank you.

"What?" Stiles was cold and in no way in the mood for this. Derek had a phone, he could have texted. What came out of his mouth, however, was not anything close to what Stiles had anticipated.

"Come back to the pack." Derek's voice was gruff, like the words were resented, and he wasn't looking at Stiles, not even in his direction. Stiles heart thumped low, under his ribs, and he laughed before he could cut it off. It was an ugly, humourless sound, befitting the situation if you thought about it.

"In six weeks I am out of here," Stiles eyes were serious and pinned on Derek's face, "and you better believe I won't be looking back."

Derek's eyes were on him now but Stiles had nothing more to say, turning and heading back indoors, leaving Derek staring after him in the dark.

Thank you for reading