- Dark Themes
- Death-Major Character
- Hate Crimes
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
Stiles’ nose twitched. Cinnamon and yeast. Yum.
Eyes still closed, he made his way into his dad’s bathroom, took care of business, then washed his hands and headed down the stairs, slitting his eyes open when he made it to the kitchen and plopped himself into a chair.
Crying hangovers, he thought, were the worst.
A full mug of the nectar of the gods was wafted under his nose, and he took it, gratefully. He opened his eyes enough to see the classically handsome Derek Hale taking a seat next to him.
“Hey,” Stiles said rustily.
“Hey,” Derek replied softly, a smile playing at the edge of his lips. “You alright?”
“Peachy,” Stiles snorted, taking a sip of his coffee. “What am I smelling?”
“Logan’s cinnamon rolls,” Derek said. “He got up to make a batch, since Remy had a craving, and we never did come up with a definitive winner last night.”
“Nice.” Stiles took another long sip. “Everything okay down here?”
“Yep.” Derek looked a little nervous. “Can I talk to you?”
“Ah, I thought we were already talking, dude, but yeah, sure.” Stiles took a closer look at Derek and realized the older man looked a little wrecked. “What’s up?”
“Um, well.” Derek took a deep breath. “I asked Peter if I could have permission to ask you if you would allow me to court you in the werewolf way.”
Stiles repeated the whole of that sentence to himself, but it still didn’t make sense. “What?”
Derek ignored the snorted laugh from the kitchen. “I’m interested in you, Stiles, but I know that you’re underage, and I’m six years older than you, and it doesn’t seem like a good idea on the surface, but you smell so good to me, and I like you. I’ve always liked you, but I didn’t know I like, liked you until I saw you again, and that usually means a were has found a compatible mate, and I’d like to see if maybe we could really be a couple, so I asked Alpha if I could court you, and he said yes.”
“Squirrel,” Stiles said softly, and smiled.
“Squirrel?” Derek asked, confused.
“Just a code word we use around here for telling someone, usually me, that they’re rambling.” Stiles set his coffee down and gently took Derek’s hand in his own. “What’s involved in courting?”
“Oh, well, we’d hang out together, I’d buy you gifts that show you how much I’m coming to know you, we’d be chaperoned pretty much everywhere, and there’d be no physical contact for at least a year while we’re in the getting-to-know-you stage. Except scenting. And, if you allowed it, maybe kissing? I think Peter has a book somewhere.”
“So basically we’d date, with sex off the table, and get to know each other, and see if we’re truly as compatible as the wolf in you says we are?” Stiles asked. “Exclusively?”
“Yeah, that’s what courting means,” Derek explained. “The end goal is a lifetime partnership. But you’re young for it, so I’d understand if you didn’t want—“
“I do,” Stiles interrupted. “I do want. Because you’re sweet and kind and hot like burning, and I might not be a were, so I can’t smell that we’re compatible, but I’m really attracted to you, so I’d love to date, and scent, and kiss, and I’m kind of mad that sex is off the table but I’d get over it if we dated long enough, right?”
“Or, you know, under it,” Derek flirted.
“Oh, he’s got snark and bad sex jokes. I like that in my men.” Stiles squeezed Derek’s hand. “Yes, you may court me.”
“Excellent!” Logan said, coming into the room with a platter of fresh cinnamon buns. “Now back up from each other at least six inches, and make sure I get a copy of this book, too. If I’m the one that’ll be living here, I can see a lot of chaperoning in my future.”
Stiles rolled his eyes, and Derek grinned.
Before long, they were joined at the table by house inhabitants. The table was too small for ten people, so they ate in shifts, with the early birds fleeing the scene for the living room. Talk was light as they took comfort in the routine of the new normal.
Stiles still thought there were too many people crammed in his house, but it was kind of nice to have them all there, for a change.
He said as much to Derek, who was sitting next to him on the couch, having migrated there to let Scott and Remy have seats.
“I’m not really used to so many people,” Stiles confessed, rubbing his fingers together to feel them crackle. “It’s been my dad and me here for, well, years, really.”
Derek nodded, reaching out to catch Stiles’ hand and feel the buzz himself, sliding his own fingers between the long, slender fingers that belonged to Stiles. “I know what you mean. It was just Laura and me in New York, and I ditched her as often as I could after awhile. It’s not good for wolves to be alone, but I just couldn’t stand what she was doing to Peter.”
“Does it help, at all, to know that she left him here to protect you?” Stiles asked, softly.
“Not really.” Derek glowered a little. “I can handle myself, and I think we should have taken the risk of busting Peter out sooner. And paying Deaton to leave us in peace? What was that about?”
“There’s no indication that Laura knew Deaton was behind the extortion, is there?”
“No.” Derek blew out a breath. “I’m sure she thought it was the Argents, too, which is why I really don’t understand how she could have left things be so long. She could have taken the letters to the Hunters’ Council, got an investigation going.”
“We’re sort of assuming that Deaton and the Argents are working together, but what if they aren’t?” Stiles asked. “Deaton clearly knew that Cora was free, and we really need to find her, btdubs, because he’s got someone ready to take her out if he doesn’t get paid. And I think he was probably capitalizing on the Argents’ holding Pete hostage.”
“Unless it’s been Deaton all along,” Derek wondered out loud. “If he truly wants unfettered access to the Nemeton, then he could have set the Argents up to take us out, and to keep us away.”
“We really need to talk to Deaton,” Stiles said, thinking out loud. “Scott’s been working for him part-time. I think he’s probably scheduled today, though I haven’t asked.”
“Did we fill Scott in on all this?” Derek asked.
“I did, after we came in last night. He didn’t want to believe it, but I asked him to give me the benefit of the doubt, and he did.” Stiles squeezed Derek’s fingers. “But I did agree to talk to him before acting, and get his side of the story.”
“Reasonable,” Derek said, and growled a little. “Unfortunately.”
“Plotting bloody mayhem without me?” Peter walked into the living room, munching on a roll. “Poor form.” He eyed their linked hands. “Something you need to tell your Alpha?”
Derek blushed a little. “Stiles agreed to let me court him.”
“Congratulations,” Peter said warmly. “I’m glad to hear it. And you’ll be glad to hear that hand-holding is allowed. I’ll need to go to the vault and dig out the courting books for you.”
Logan plopped down in the easy chair across from the courting couple. “I’ll need to read those, too, I guess.”
“I believe there’s something in there about a courting gift for Stiles’ family, to kick off the process,” Peter mused. “That should probably be addressed to his guardian or his grandparents at this point.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “If you all start talking about bride prices, I’m stealing Derek and taking off.”
Erik chuckled as he strolled in. “Oh, I don’t think we’ll need to go that far. Anya!” He called out to his daughter. “Your grandson has agreed to let a werewolf court him!”
“Oh, really?” Anya poked her head around the door. “Without even a word the family?” She winked at Stiles and withdrew.
“Yeah, well,” Stiles waved the hand that wasn’t attached to Derek. “Nana! Your father agreed to a lifetime commitment with my guardian!”
“What!?” Anya popped back in, considerably more surprised. “When did that happen?”
“Did you not notice last night that he and Charles retired to the pull out in the den together?” Stiles asked innocently.
“Vati! Without a wedding, there shouldn’t be any bed sharing,” Anya admonished, to Erik’s amusement.
“That ship sailed long ago, my dear,” Erik said cheerfully. “At any rate, I thought I’d leave the wedding planning to you.”
“Charles! You agreed to this?” Anya asked.
“Yes, I did, and I do agree that you can plan the wedding,” Charles said from the kitchen. “Just tell me what to wear and when to show up.”
“As if it’s that simple,” Anya rolled her own eyes.
“Yes, well,” Erik said, “on that note, what’s on our agenda for today?”
“Well, Peter referred to it as ‘bloody mayhem,’ so I guess we should start with that,” Stiles commented. “Someone needs to confront Deaton for information.”
Charles wheeled in and parked next to the easy chair. “That should be someone he doesn’t know is actually associated with the Hales. Perhaps someone who can read minds?”
“Useful, indeed,” Erik allowed. “If we’re all agreed, Charles and I will handle that task. Scott!”
Scott poked his head around the door next to Anya’s. “Yes?”
“When is Deaton likely to be free today?”
“Ah, he opens the doors at 8 because he’s the only vet in town, but it’s Thursday, and that’s spay-day, so he’ll have a full schedule,” Scott rattled off. “I go in at 4. I can call in, though, if you want me too. Stiles and I are both excused from school for the week.”
Erik and Charles shared another one of those long looks that Stiles really thought meant telepathy. “We’ll just go in with you at 4, then,” Erik sighed. “As Charles would like to remind me, there’s no reason to disturb the pet owners until or unless it’s necessary.”
Logan choked a little as he held back the laugh, but managed to maintain his sober expression. Stiles admired it.
“What else?” Charles asked.
Peter cleared his throat. “I’d like to get into our vault and pick up those courting books for Stiles and Derek, and see if there’s anything else useful, including the potion for testing potential bitten wolves. I want to see if it’s been disturbed at all, too.”
“That’s a task for you and Derek, I suspect,” Charles said. “Though you should have non-wolf back-up.”
Remy wandered in. “I’ll take that. I’d like to get out, anyway.”
“Fair enough,” Charles agreed.
Anya spoke up. “I’ll need to meet with the Rabbi and the Funeral Director, and I’d guess that these two” — she indicated Scott and Stiles— “need suits. I know Jeorg could use a new one, too.”
Derek looked up at his uncle. “I’ll actually need one, too.”
“Yes, me as well.” Peter sighed. “Right, Mrs. Stilinski, why don’t you call and see if you can have your meeting this morning? Derek, Remy, and I will head to the vault this morning, then, and we could all meet back here for lunch before going suit-shopping?”
Stiles nodded along. “Meanwhile, Scotty and I will check in at school for our assignments, with Logan as back up.”
“And Erik and I will see to housing arrangements for your other guests, Stiles,” Charles said, looking at his phone. “Most of the crew from New York will becoming tomorrow afternoon to stay through the funeral.”
Stiles shied away from the thought of the funeral, but thought seeing his friends would be cool, so he said nothing. He nodded in Charles’ direction, though, and left it at that.
“Is anyone going to check in with the Argents?” Logan asked suddenly.
Several nonverbal communications flew around the room at that point, to Stiles’ amusement. He broke the silence with, “I think we should let Chris come to us. But I also think someone needs to contact the Hunters’ Council. Not a Hale.”
Jeorg said, from his place in the doorway, “I think I can take that. I’ll go with Anya this morning, and if you can get me the contact information, Peter, I’ll take care of that call at lunch.”
“Looks like we’re all organized, then,” Stiles said with feigned cheerfulness. “Allons-Y!”
Derek looked at Stiles with a little blush. “I love Doctor Who.”
Stiles smiled. “We’ve got a marathon coming, then, Der.”
“I look forward to it.”