Chapter Four

A dress shirt that Stiles thought looked exactly the same as the one he was already wearing appeared suddenly, its sleeve narrowly missing his right eye as it draped over the top of the change room door. He still couldn't believe he was shopping with Lydia and Jackson of all people. The things he did for love.

"Here, try these on, too," Lydia's voice came through the door and Stiles jerked in surprise, slamming his elbow into the wall behind him.

"This area is for men, Lydia! These are the change rooms – I know you can read!"

"Seriously, Stiles?" The impatience in her voice was so cutting, Stiles glanced down to make sure he wasn't bleeding all over the not-yet-purchased shirt. "There were two different mothers and a grandmother here earlier. I'm pretty sure I won't be getting thrown into jail for this."

"Oh my God, Lydia, you are not a mother and that is not nearly the same thing. What are you doing here?"

"Oh, please. Jackson's dad would have any charges dropped in seconds. Besides, these guys wish I'd try peeking at them."

"Let me rephrase that. What am I doing here?" Stiles muttered – mostly to himself, but loud enough to make his point.

"You're here," Lydia answered, as though Stiles' question hadn't been obviously rhetorical, "because you need to look gorgeous for the Homecoming Dance, and the best way for you to do that is to let me dress you. So try on the damn shirt before I send Jackson in there to put it on you himself."

"Danny thinks I look gorgeous as I am." Even as he spoke, Stiles knew Lydia had a point. Danny had made it perfectly clear when Lydia suggested this outing that he didn't care what Stiles wore, but Stiles wanted to surprise him. That had been the main reason he'd been relieved when Lydia had told Danny in no uncertain terms that he was not invited on their shopping trip.

Of course, at the time Stiles hadn't realized he'd be forced to spend the afternoon with Jackson as well. He unbuttoned the shirt he was wearing and pulled the new one on before Lydia could make good on her threat.

"Danny is a sap. Besides, the two of you are going to be sharing a table with me and Jackson. We can't have you bringing down the collective attractiveness of the group by wearing something that doesn't match or doesn't fit. Now stop arguing and show me."

Stiles gave up the cuffs as a lost cause – someone would need to help him with those. He tugged the dress pants on over his boxers, hurrying when he heard a loud crack and the door handle fell to the floor. The door flew open while Stiles was still doing up his fly; he hadn't gotten even close to buttoning up the shirt.

He pulled the flaps of the shirt together as quickly as he could, but Jackson's eyes were wide and staring at the place where his navel had been visible a moment before.

"What is that?"

"N-nothing. I mean, what the hell? Get out, dude. And did you just break the door handle?"

Lydia's head peered around Jackson. "Well? How does it – oh. Really, Stiles? What is taking you so long? Button it up, tuck it in, and let's see what it looks like with this tie. And do you have an undershirt already or do we need to get you one?"

Stiles turned his back on them to button up his shirt, aware from the Lydia's snort – how ladylike – that he probably looked ridiculous, hiding his body like a blushing virgin in one of those romance novels Scott's mom pretended she didn't read.

Whatever. His piercings weren't for public consumption – not even the innocent one, considering he wanted to keep both his jeep and his freedom. Bars on his windows would suck.

He only got one button done up before he was spun around and pushed back into the wall, Jackson tugging his shirt open.

"Hey Jack-Ass," Stiles snapped, trying to ignore how vulnerable he felt to focus on being pissed off instead, "I'm a one-man man, and I'm pretty sure it's in poor taste to molest a guy in front of your girlfriend."

"In your dreams, Ball-Sack. What the fuck is this?" Jackson demanded as he flicked the barbell in Stiles' navel. That was not cool – no one was allowed to do that except Danny…and Stiles himself.

Stiles slapped Jackson's hand away, ignoring the way it stung his palm when Jackson probably didn't even feel it.

"First of all, ow. In case you hadn't noticed that's attached, so flicking it hard like that? Not cool. Second, hands off the merchandise, because I'm not selling." Stiles smirked when Jackson rolled his eyes and folded his arms across his chest, visibly annoyed. "And third, it's a navel piercing, what the fuck does it look like?"

"When did you get that done, Stiles?" Lydia hadn't come any closer, but she was leaning forward a little and looking at Stiles with too much scrutiny for his comfort. "How long did it take to heal? Did you have any adverse reactions?"

"As much as I'm sure I would have loved you being fascinated with my body once upon a time, Lydia, you're looking at me like I'm a science experiment and it's creepy."

Lydia blinked and straightened. "Well then, I guess you should hurry up and put the shirt on properly. We still have to find you the right suit."

"What's wrong with this one?"

"Really, Stiles?"

"Are you both fucking kidding me?" Jackson ground out. "Forget the stupid clothes – does Danny know about this?"

For all Jackson was a douchebag, he didn't normally say stupid things, so Stiles wasn't going to let that opportunity slip by. "Danny? You mean my boyfriend of several months? Why, of course not! That would be improper and our chaperone would never allow him to see under my petticoats unless we were wed!"

"Shut up, asshole. You could have just gotten it done."

"No, Jackson. We mere humans don't heal instantly, I'm sure you remember. Yes, Danny knows, obviously. And since you are so interested, he loves it." Stiles smirked at the way Jackson's face twisted.

"Wait – is that why you made that comment about getting your tongue pierced?" Jackson's expression changed suddenly and he shook his head in disgust. "God, no, don't answer that. Ever. I do not want to know."

"Well, since you mentioned it—"

Lydia huffed. "Stiles, stop tormenting Jackson. Jackson, stop being a big baby. At least try not to act like twelve year olds when you are with me in public."

"I'm sorry Lydia, you're totally right."

"Ass-kisser," Jackson grumbled, wincing when Lydia turned her glare on him.

With her focus on Jackson, Stiles took advantage of the moment to mouth 'oh yeah' in reply and waggle his eyebrows until Jackson looked physically ill.

"Whatever you're doing, Stiles, quit it," Lydia said without so much as a glance in his direction. "And Jackson, stop being such a sore loser. It's beneath you."

Stiles and Jackson shared a look filled with confusion and mutual dislike before Stiles caught on and laughed, pumping his fist in the air. "Yea-hehe! That's right, Whittemore, you made a bet."

Jackson paled and his jaw clenched. Stiles took a moment to savor the look on Jackson's face then grinned and clasped him on the shoulder.

"Aww, don't worry, buddy," Stiles laughed and held his hands up innocently when Jackson shrugged him off roughly, "I'm not going to make you give up your Porsche forever."

"I am not letting you or McCall drive my—"

"Relax," Stiles answered with a smirk, plans already forming in his head. He almost pressed his fingers together in a steeple before deciding action-movie villains were significantly cooler than cartoon villains and raised an eyebrow instead. "I'm sure we can come up with a suitable compromise."

"Come on, Jackson. It's not that bad," Danny reasoned.

Jackson didn't answer in favor of fuming and glaring into his cup. He'd been so snappy all night that Stiles had dragged Lydia on the dance floor to give Danny a chance to talk to Jackson. Danny suspected it was also to stop Lydia from adopting Jackson's bad mood since they were going to be in a car with her later. "Man, hardly anyone even saw you."

"Except half the grade and the entire lacrosse team!"

When Jackson's jaw tensed like that, it was definitely time to change the subject.

"Forget about them. They're just jealous you can bike all the way from your place without breaking a sweat. We're still on for tomorrow, right? Just you, me, pizza and bro time?"

"Yeah, whatever," Jackson paused and frowned over at the dance floor, where Stiles was flailing around Lydia, who looked graceful and pretended not to notice. " girlfriends – and yes, I mean Stilinski."

"Don't call him a gi—" Danny narrowed his eyes at Jackson's smirk. Jackson was deliberately baiting him and if Danny was falling for it he really had been spending too much time away from his best friend. "Whatever. You know I wasn't going to invite him. I'm thinking we should start around lunchtime tomorrow and we could make a weekend of it. All of the Batman movies, including the Nolan ones, then maybe some C.O.D. on Sunday?"

"You just want to get your nerd-perve on. And if I hear you say one more time that Christian Bale is the best Batman, I swear I'll eat all the pizza and force feed you the box it came in. You're just biased because you think he's hot."

Danny shrugged and grinned. "You only like Val Kilmer because of that time in sixth grade when everyone was calling you Iceman. That's not even the same movie franchise, and you still have the aviators you bought because of it."

"Shut up, Mahealani. I don't even know why I'm friends with you," Jackson complained. He downed the last of his drink and slammed the plastic cup down dramatically.

"Love you too, Jackson."

Jackson scoffed and kicked Danny's foot. "I knew I was your type."

"Stiles is my type."

"Stilinski is an asshole."

"Well, there you go, you do have something in common," Danny joked. When Jackson just frowned at him, Danny sighed. "Man, you need to chill out, okay? You're just pissed because you totally underestimated him and now you have to suffer for it. Anyway, you already rode here; the worst part is over. You just need to ride home after."

"This suit is Versace, Danny."

"And it got here in one piece. It'll survive the trip back, I'm sure. Now stop being such a dick. You're the one who made the bet. Stiles wasn't even going to tell you that you lost."

Jackson was glaring at Danny, as if he could get Danny on his side if he looked bratty for long enough. Except Danny had known Jackson far too long to cave; he learned a long time ago when to back down and when to stand his ground or Jackson would walk all over him.

"Whatever," Jackson snorted when Danny didn't react. "Just don't forget you're dropping Lydia off at my place. I swear to God, Danny, I don't care what gross sexual favors Stilinski offers you, do not let him drive my car."

"You're the idiot who said you would trade your Porsche for McCall's bike. You should count yourself lucky Stiles didn't take advantage of your ego and make you follow through; it could have been way worse than you riding a pushbike to and from the dance and lending us your car."

"Lending you my car," Jackson insisted.

"Complain all you want, but Stiles already drove it."

Danny was probably more entertained than he should be by the way Jackson was spluttering, but he was being such a drama queen. "You had better be joking! I've seen him drive, Danny, he's a fucking menace! How you could let him touch my car? I'm your best friend, dude, bros before ho's!"

"What are we, pre-teen swaggies? I don't want to know what Lydia would do if she heard you say that. And Stiles is a perfectly safe driver."

Jackson stared at Danny in disbelief, which was weird. Danny had been in Stiles' car with him dozens of times without any issues, and yeah, the jeep was in the shop more often than most cars, but it was pretty old so that was only to be expected. Jackson said something about driving through walls, but it was under his breath and quiet enough Danny couldn't catch most of it.

"Anyway," Danny joked, trying to break the sudden tension when he saw Lydia and Stiles making their way back to the table, "a pierced man is a dangerous man. I wouldn't want to get on Stiles' bad side."

"It's a fucking girl's piercing anyway," Jackson snapped, half a second before Lydia appeared beside him, looking furious.

"Oh I know you didn't just make a sexist comment, Jackson."

When Jackson flinched, looking startled for half a second before freezing his face into a stubborn mask, Danny almost felt sorry for him.

"And if you did," Lydia continued, "don't think I won't spend the entire night making you understand the problems with patriarchy and misogyny in our society, instead of doing that thing you like but are too embarrassed to do to yourself. Gender roles are so passé, aren't they?"

Stiles was standing behind Lydia and Jackson, eyes wide and mouth opening to speak. He looked like all of his Christmases had come at once, and Danny shook his head warningly. Jackson was already embarrassed enough. Stiles looked disappointed, but he didn't say anything and Danny started thinking of creative ways to thank him later.

Lydia demanded that Jackson dance with her when Stiles dropped into the seat next to Danny. She was tapping her foot expectantly and Jackson stood with an eye roll that Danny could tell was mostly for show. He wasn't sure he'd ever understand their relationship, but he knew Jackson and Lydia loved each other, even when they were slinging barbs. "Fine," Jackson replied, his voice thick with sarcasm. "Are you going to lead, too?"

"Only if you're worried about your ability to perform," Lydia said sweetly. Stiles stifled a laugh, choking on his drink, and Lydia batted her eyelashes. As if she was fooling any of them with that expression.

They had just started towards the dance floor, Lydia's hand slipping into Jackson's, when Stiles leaned towards Danny and asked loudly, "Hey, you didn't tell Jackson about the dent in his hood, right?"

When Jackson spun around, face twisted and horrified, Stiles started cackling like a hyena. Danny had to bite his lip almost bloody to keep a straight face; Stiles was literally falling on him from laughing so much.

"Oh dude, no. Seriously. I'm just kidding. The look on your face," Stiles gasped for breath and buried his face in Danny's collar, still shaking from laughter.

Jackson glared at Stiles for ages before he stormed off so fast that Lydia struggled to keep up.

"You're such a dick sometimes, Stiles," Danny whispered with a snicker once Jackson was on the dance floor.

"Yeah," Stiles nodded as he pulled away, wiping tears from his eyes. "But his face, though."

End Notes: If anyone wonders who Nate Walters is, I just gave a random name to the guy who Danny called out on staring at Lydia's cleavage in the lunch room in S1. Also, I realize that tongue piercings don't actually feel that prominent since the ball sort of sinks into the muscle of the tongue with any pressure (although you can sort of make it stick out and more easily felt but I'm totally getting off topic), but Danny's never felt it and he imagines it would.

And if anyone is interested, I've written two short fics that are sort of like interludes for scenes in this fic in the POV of two other characters.