“I don’t think I have seen the house this quiet since before it was finished!” Stiles stated, walking through the living room and the kitchen to the back porch a week later. Derek was sitting in the sun, a cup of coffee in hand.
“Everyone except for Isaac is out. Something about a group date, and Scott has to work at Deaton’s” the Alpha explained, taking a sip of his beverage. Stiles was surprised he had gotten such an elaborate answer from the werewolf. Even though they had kind of made up again, as much as you could make up with a constantly grumpy werewolf, but it was still a bit rocky between the two after the fight they had had the week before. Not that a fight between friends – or frenemies, or whatever they were – should require such a long pacification time.
“And where is Isaac? Why isn’t he here with you? You know, bonding over the empty house?” Stiles inquired. He didn’t want to argue again, but even after the barbeque Derek had planned there were still so many things the new Alpha had to learn about treating others like family. Especially Isaac, who really was Derek’s family now, should be bonded closely to the grumpy wolf.
“He’s upstairs, writing a list of things he still wants to have for his bedroom. We’re going to shopping for it later” was the answer he got. Stiles was happy with that. Maybe his words had hit the target with Derek. Maybe the pack would really become close now. Well, for that to truly happen, Stiles would have to work on himself as well. He would have to get closer with Jackson as well. He wasn’t perfect either, after all. But becoming friends with Jackson Whittemore of all people was something Stiles would really have to work at.
“Well, that’s great. Should I write up a list of other things that are needed around the house? Linens, pillows, that kind of stuff?” Stiles asked, trying to get his mind off the topic of becoming friends with Jackson. He would have to take small steps with the cocky jock, very small steps.
“If you want to” replied Derek and turned back to nursing his cup of coffee. Stiles turned to leave the porch but before he had set a foot into the living room again he turned on his heels and marched back to Derek.
“Before I forget, I saw some really nice picture frames the other day when I was out. You know, for the dining room wall with the pack photos?” Stiles said and Derek looked back up from his cup of coffee.
“So? This is me asking if you want to go and check them out in the near future, so we can get started with the picture wall. I think it would be better if we did that sooner rather than later, don’t you think so, too?” Really, sometimes Derek was really dense. Or he just acted as such to get a rise out of Stiles. The teenager didn’t care why Derek was the way he was, as long as he didn’t annoy the crap out of him all the time.
“Yeah, we can do that.” Dismissed like that Stiles turned back around and went inside and towards the office, where he knew he would find a pen and pad of paper. Then he made his way through the house, noting down things whenever he saw something they might still need.
After half an hour he ended up in front of Isaac’s bedroom, his paper filled with various items that could make the pack house even homier. Not wanting to barge in unannounced, Stiles knocked at the wooden door and waited until Isaac opened it for him. The boy hadn’t been in the room since it had been completely furnished and be was curious to see what Isaac had made out of the spacey room.
“Hey puppy, you need help with your list?” Stiles greeted the younger boy and received an eye roll in return.
“Stiles, don’t call me-“
“I know, ‘don’t call me puppy’, I get it” Stiles didn’t let the other boy finish.
Stiles let himself sink into one of the bean bags in the middle of the room and looked around. Isaac had really made something out of his room. Even though it was larger than a bedroom had to be, and had seemed a little lofty before it had been furnished, now that it was lived in it seemed warm, comfy and inviting. The surface of Isaac’s dresser was littered with pictures, both the ones the two had retrieved from Isaac’s old home as well as new ones from the pack, though the majority seemed to be of Erica and Boyd. Understandably, because Isaac was the closest with his two fellow ‘original betas’ of the Hale pack. Indeed, sometimes Isaac and Erica could be mistaken for twins, or at least siblings, they were so close.
“Isaac, your room is really great. It’s like coming home” Stiles mused, and the curly haired teenager blushed a little. He still wasn’t used to the attention he was now receiving from everyone around him. The cocky exterior that he had donned right after being turned had been shrugged off and what left was an insecure teenager who had to learn how to trust again. But Isaac was getting there, and the pack would give him as much time as he needed.
Isaac had also become a lot cuddlier. He usually was the first to initiate a puppy pile while watching movies. Not that Stiles was complaining. There were few better things than a puppy pile.
“Thank you” Isaac mumbled and sank down in the other bean bag. The two boys were quiet for a moment, just looking around the room and reveling in the hominess of the room as well as the entire house. It wasn’t uncomfortable. Stiles had found out that Isaac was one of the few people he felt completely comfortable around not saying anything. He didn’t even feel like that with Scott all the time.
“Are you coming with us later?” Isaac eventually asked, turning to look at the other boy. Stiles shrugged.
“I don’t know. If you want me to come with you to choose cool bed sheets, then of course, but I don’t have to. You know, it could be something that you and Derek did together. You know, bonding and stuff like that” he replied, but Isaac shook his head.
“No, you gotta come with. You can’t stay here on your own” he stated and Stiles chuckled. Isaac was so concerned for all of his pack members, he could appear to be overbearing sometimes. To Stiles it was just cute how much he cared. He didn’t want anyone to be left behind.
Stiles could understand why Isaac did it. He knew how it felt to be alone. For a long time he had only had his dad and Scott. And even though the two had always been there for him, sometimes that just wasn’t enough.
“Well if you insist” he said with a laugh, and Isaac soon chimed in with a chuckle.
Together the two continued finishing Isaac’s list, and then sat down to play video games until Derek wanted to leave.
The trio ended up taking both cars with them, with Stiles trailing after the Camaro. No way would they all fit into the sports car along with the things they would be buying. No, Stiles’ trusted Jeep was strongly needed to carry the heavy load of linens, towels and pillows.
Once they had arrived at the store Stiles and Isaac went off to find the things on Isaac’s list while Derek worked off the list Stiles had made earlier that day. That way they wouldn’t spend the entire day in the store and actually be able to enjoy the nice weather some more that day. California was getting warmer and more stifling every day and it didn’t look like it would rain anytime soon. Stiles loved living in California, but this weather was starting to get to his head. What would he give for a nice cold pool in the back yard.
An hour later the three met up again in the aisle full of towels. Derek’s cart was already filled halfway with sets of towels in different colors and it seemed as if he wasn’t choosing the colors randomly.
“Dude, coral towels? Coral?” Stiles questioned, lifting one of the towels out of the cart at one of its corners.
“For Lydia? How do you know if Lydia wants coral colored towels? And why would you buy towels for her? She’s not really living with you, you know?” Stiles asked. Then he noticed the piece of paper in Derek’s hands. That was not the list Stiles had written up earlier. With a move that would make every werewolf proud, except for Derek maybe, because he was starting to scowl, Stiles snatched the list out of the Alpha’s hands and stared down at it. It was a list of all the pack members, with a color written behind their names.
Scott: light blue
Boyd: dark blue
Stiles did not remember writing down his name on that list. And that for sure wasn’t his handwriting.
“Dude, why are you buying towels for everyone in their favorite colors, and how did you know my favorite color was red?” he asked incredulously, staring down at the list. He noticed their alpha’s name was missing on the list.
“It’s… it’s something we used to do. Everyone had their own colors… It’s a pack thing, for me” Derek admitted, taking the list back from Stiles. He didn’t answer the boy’s second question, but Stiles didn’t push. It was quite something already, to get such an honest explanation from Derek. It seemed like he really was trying to be a little bit more open with his pack.
Stiles was happy Derek trusted his pack enough to talk about things he used to keep quiet about. Little steps, they all would have to take little steps.
“That’s actually really cool” Isaac said, running his hand over the soft material of his purple towels.
“It really is. But what about you, Sourwolf? You’re not on the list” Stiles noted, looking pointedly at the man in front of him and Isaac.
“I didn’t… I didn’t know what color to take” Derek admitted after a moment of silence and if Stiles hadn’t hung onto his life and the use of both his arms, he would have cooed just then.
“Well, which color did you have in the past?” he asked cautiously. Stiles knew that talking about his past was hard for Derek.
“Yellow. My towels used to be yellow.”
“Well, I wouldn’t have pegged you for the happy sunshine type of guy, but if you want yellow towels you’ll get yellow towels!” Stiles exclaimed, grabbing a set from the shelf and putting it to the other towels in the cart.
Stiles, Derek and Isaac finished their shopping and then made to load the many bags into Stiles’ car. They would have to make another stop to get office supplies, binders more importantly, so Derek would be able to get the office completely sorted out. Stiles looked forward to the day the office was completely done, because he would then be able to move all the books about mythology and lycanthropy he had acquired over the last few months out of his room and into the office. Derek had been right all those weeks back; his bedroom was not the best place to store old tomes and books where everyone could stumble upon them.
They were just about to get into the cars when Isaac’s phone started beeping. The wolf looked at the message he had received and a smile broke out on his face.
“What is it, Isaac?” Derek asked, and Stiles could hear a slight trace of concern in his voice. Why that was Stiles didn’t know, because the smile Isaac wore split his entire face.
“That was Scott. A litter of puppies just got in at the Veterinary Clinic. He asked if I wanted to go over and check them out” Isaac explained. The boy looked as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.
“Could you maybe… I know it’s out of the way, but I really want to… Could you…” Isaac looked down at his feet while asking the question that was so very obvious. He wanted to go to the clinic, but walking from where they were just then was too far, even for a werewolf.
“You know what, Isaac, if you make a detour to the house and take in the bags, you can take my car and drive yourself” Stiles said suddenly. He didn’t know what had come over him, but the look Isaac was giving them was doing things to him!
Stiles had never let anyone else take his car, not even Scott, and here he was, offering Isaac his keys? What was happening?!
“Really? I- You never let anyone drive your car! Are you sure? I’ll… I’ll be really careful I promise!” Isaac let out, the words tumbling out of his mouth as if he didn’t have a barrier. Before Stiles could think about it any further he thrust his keys at Isaac and turned to the Camaro.
“If there is even the smallest dent on my baby I’ll have you clean the house for the rest of the summer! And now go before I change my mind!” he said and got into the other car, so he wouldn’t be able to see Isaac leaving with his beloved Jeep.
A moment later Derek got into the car on the driver’s side. Before he started the car he turned to look at Stiles.
“You just let Isaac take your car.”
“I know! What is wrong with me?!”
The next stop at the store for office supply was a much quicker stint, and before he knew it, Stiles was sitting back down in the passenger’s seat of the Camaro. Lunch time had come and gone, and slowly but surely the teenager’s stomach was starting to make itself and its lack of feeding known by grumbling loudly.
Stiles tried to ignore it, they were on their way back home after all, but his stomach was getting louder and louder by the moment.
“Dude, I’m really hungry” he eventually exclaimed, but was surprised to see that at that exact moment Derek turned into the parking lot of a well loved establishment – Annie’s, Stiles’ favorite diner.
“Dude, can you read my mind?!” Stiles questioned, but didn’t get an answer. He didn’t care. As long as Stiles’ was going to be fed he was happy.
Stiles was out of the car and at the entrance door in no time, and with a wave to the woman behind the counter, Annie, the owner of the restaurant, he sat down in his favorite booth.
The teenager was halfway through the menu by the time Derek slid onto the bench across from him, taking a menu himself and browsing through the options for lunch.
“Man, you really can’t imagine how hungry I am! I was starting to think I would have to die” Stiles stated, clearly exaggerating. The look Derek gave him called him out on his bullshit.
“Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have died, but I’m still hungry” Stiles took back his words with a grin. It was strange how comfortable Stiles was joking around with Derek. It really felt as if they were friends, even though the thought of being friends with Derek freaking Hale was a little disconcerting. He didn’t know if one even could be friends with the constantly broody werewolf. It certainly was not something that happened all too often.
“Choose your food” Derek just said in reply. Seriously, the sourwolf didn’t deserve to receive the hilarious qualities of one Stiles Stilinski. He just didn’t appreciate it the way it should be appreciated!
The pair sat in silence, choosing what they would eat until Annie walked over to them and asked what they would be having.
“Oh Annie, you know my usual! Double cheeseburger with Curly Fries and a Strawberry Shake” Stiles ordered, jumping up and down in his seat like an excited little kid. The excited part was true, he hadn’t been to Annie’s since summer had started, and he had missed the amazing food the woman always prepared.
Annie jotted down Stiles’ order and then turned to look at Derek, who was still brooding over the menu.
“And for you?” she asked kindly, sending Derek a heart-warming smile. Annie really had a heart of gold. She was nice to everyone, no matter how grumpy or broody.
With a sigh Derek closed his menu and looked at Annie.
“I’ll have the same. There are way too many things to choose from” he said and Stiles erupted in cackles. Derek looked utterly defeated by the variety of dishes on the menu. Annie only smiled and noted Derek’s order down.
“I know. It’s hard to choose between amazing and incredible!” She said sweetly and turned to head into the kitchen.
“You know what I just realized?” Stiles asked once Annie had left. Derek looked up at him and raised his eyebrows, his sign for Stiles to continue.
“Summer break is almost halfway over. And after summer I’m starting Junior Year! How cool is that! Finally an Upperclassman…” the boy said, his voice a mixture of enthusiasm and dread. He was excited to start the new school year, he generally liked school, liked learning, but it would also mean that summer was over. It also meant he would have classes with Mr. Harris again. If there was one person Stiles truly, truly hated, it was his chemistry teacher.
“So?” was Derek’s only reply.
“So? SO? It means I have only two more years until I graduate! And then I can go to college” Stiles enthused, but sobered again after a second. “Well, if Harris let’s me graduate. Knowing that guy, he’ll probably fail me just to get a kick out of it and see me embarrassed. I hate that guy.”
“Harris? The chemistry teacher?”
“Uhh, yes? How do you know my chemistry teacher?” Stiles frowned at Derek, who had leaned back into his booth, looking… actually quite comfortable with the situation. Huh, who would have thought Derek Hale would enjoy having lunch with Stiles and talking about school of all things!
“You’re not the only kid who goes to Beacon Hills High School, you know?” Derek grouched in reply, but followed with another explanation quickly. “Harris used to be my chemistry teacher, too.”
“He used to- He was your teacher? Wow, who knew he was that old!” Stiles exclaimed and earned himself a kick to the shin underneath the table, as well as a growl.
“Ow, geez, calm down grumpy cat! It’s just… kind of really weird to think of you in high school. You know, all that ‘grrr’ in a teenage body, just… no” Stiles said, but his words didn’t really help him out of the situation. Derek was still glaring.
“Oh come on! You know what I mean!” Derek didn’t deem Stiles worthy of an answer. He instead asked another question of his own.
“Why would Harris let you fail?”
“Because Harris is an asshole and he hates me. Seriously, I don’t know how that man could become a teacher. He likes to see his students suffer, especially me! I’m telling you now, Lydia is the only one who is going to be graduating early, even though I would be able to as well with the rest of my grades. Harris will do everything to keep me in school for as long as possible. Even though that would be pretty stupid on his part. I mean, he hates me, why would he want me to stay in school? Wouldn’t it be smarter to get rid of me as soon as possible?” Stiles started rambling. The boy was sure the things he was saying were true. Harris was an awful person, and he would do anything to keep Stiles from graduating on time.
“Don’t worry about Harris. I’ll make sure he won’t fail you.”
Derek’s words stopped the flood of thoughts in Stiles’ head.
“What? Why- What could you do to keep Harris from failing me? He hates me, and no growling on your part will make him stop harassing me” Stiles said, shaking his head. Derek was just about to respond when Annie came back with their order.
“There you go, boys, eat up” the older woman said with a smile and then turned away again.
Stiles took the woman’s words by heart and dug into his curly fries, shoving multiple into his mouth at once.
“Harris won’t let you fail because who won’t dare hurt my pack. Not again.” Stiles coughed at Derek’s blunt words.
“Again? AGAIN? What does that mean?” he exclaimed, lowering only his voice when he received another kick to the shin. “He hurt your pack? What, when, how? Derek!”
Derek took a sip of his milk shake, sighed deeply and then turned his eyes up to look at Stiles.
“He was the one to tell Kate how to burn down our house.”
“HE WHAT?” Stiles had completely forgotten to keep his voice down. This was news to him! Big news.
“No, don’t ‘Stiles’ me! He was involved in it? I’m taught by an arsonist?” Stiles was getting excited, which he shouldn’t be, because they were talking about a serious matter.
“He’s not an arsonist. He explained to Kate how to burn down the house.” Stiles could feel the topic they were talking about was getting to Derek, but this was all just too exciting to not talk about.
“But he is part of the reason your- How do you even know that? I’m pretty sure he didn’t tell you” Stiles asked, changing the topic slightly. He didn’t need to remind Derek that his entire family was dead. Well, except Peter, but who would ever count Peter as family?
“Your father told me a few weeks ago, after we told him about the werewolves” Derek replied casually, as if that wasn’t equally huge news. Since when were his dad and Derek talking?
Not that that was unusual, they knew each other, so why wouldn’t they talk to each other, but still!
My dad? My dad knew about that?”
“Of course he knows, and now eat your lunch. You said you were hungry.”
Realizing that this was the end of that conversation, Stiles did how he was told. He was still really hungry, anyways.
The two sat in silence, each eating their burger and fries, until their plates were empty. Only then did they start talking again. And to Stiles’ surprise, it was Derek who started the conversation.
“So would you want to graduate early?” Stiles thought about that for a moment.
“No, not really. I’d like to graduate with Scott and the others. And I don’t want to start college earlier than everyone else. I know Lydia wants to go study at Harvard or whatever, but I really want to stay here, this is my home. You know, college isn’t too far away from here, and I could study everything I want to there, so why leave home and pack if I can stay close by as well” he explained and Derek nodded. Stiles figured he knew what he meant about leaving home and family. And the pack was Derek’s family.
“So what do you want to study then?” Derek asked and Stiles chuckled slightly, taking a sip of his shake.
“Well, before all these shenanigans started I was dead set on studying Literature and History… But I’m probably not going to do that. Literature, at least. I was thinking more along the lines of Mythology and History now…” Stiles admitted. He was a little embarrassed to admit that his choice of studies had changed now that he was part of the pack. He just wanted to be useful to his friends. Everyone else would be able to fend for the pack, but what was Stiles supposed to contribute? All he had were his wit and knowledge, so why not garner even more of that and help out in that way? Stiles frowned when Derek chuckled. He swore he had never heard the Alpha wolf chuckle before.
“What’s so funny about Mythology and History?” he asked, slightly offended. Derek deemed him talking about his future the right moment to start laughing at him?! How dare he!
“No, it’s not that… It’s just… I’m considering taking online classes at college this fall as well” Derek explained, still grinning slightly, though the majority of the glee on his face had been reigned in again.
“Did you even graduate from high school?”
“Yes I graduated from high school. In New York, after Laura and I moved.”
“Okay. But why did you laugh?”
“Because of what I want to study?”
“You want to study something funny? You plan on going to clown school? I hate to break it to you, but I don’t see that working out for you.” Derek raised his eyebrow in a manner that clearly said ‘are you kidding me’.
“Come on, Derek!” Stiles was getting tired of this game, and usually Stiles was all up for games.
“I plan on studying Mythology and History, too.” That shut Stiles up. For a moment. Then he erupted in laughter.
“Seriously? You- we- oh God that is just great! You better be good in those classes or I won’t be able to copy off your assignments!” Stiles was leaning onto the table, his head almost on his empty plate. The thought of Derek and him having chosen the exact same thing to study was unusually funny to him.
When he didn’t stop laughing after a minute he earned a growl from his opposite.
“I’m-I’m sorry, but who would have thought that we of all people chose to study the same things?!” Stiles was trying to get a hold on himself, but little chuckles still kept escaping his mouth.
Why this was so funny to him Stiles didn’t even understand.
Later that day, once Stiles had returned to his own home, he was sitting on the couch with his father on his beloved armchair, a rerun of Navy CIS on TV.
“What is it, son?” Sheriff Stilinski turned to where his son sat across from him.
“Why did you never tell me that Mr. Harris was involved in the Hale fire?” Stiles hadn’t been able to let go Derek’s words from earlier. He just couldn’t believe that someone would just give out information like that to a stranger. Or a friend, or anyone, really.
“How do you know about that?” The Sheriff sat up a little straighter. He knew his son would worry about things like this. He had noticed that Stiles had gotten closer to Derek, he called them friends behind their backs, even though the two in question wouldn’t admit to it, so Stiles worrying about the Hale fire was a serious matter.
“Derek told me. We were talking about school, and he said he would make sure Harris wouldn’t hurt his pack again” Stiles explained and Mr. Stilinski nodded.
“I didn’t tell you because it wasn’t any of your concern. I know you, Stiles, you are my son, and you would have just used that information for things I don’t want to think about. And you would also have worried too much about it. Like you are doing right now” he explained, and Stiles turned his head to look at his father.
“But don’t I have a right to worry about things like this? He’s my teacher! How am I supposed to respect him when I know that he helped burn down a house and their inhabitants! Ten people died that night, Dad! Ten! Derek’s little brother was only five years old! How can he still walk around freely even though he helped murder these people?” he exclaimed, his cheeks heating up.
“This is exactly why I didn’t tell you. I knew you would be upset about something like that, and you have a right to be, the Hale’s were your friend’s family, but I couldn’t let you run around with that knowledge. I’m a police officer, I’m not supposed to tell you anything at all!” the Sheriff tried to have Stiles see reason to what he was saying. Slowly Stiles leaned back into the couch cushions.
“I know Dad… It’s just not fair… Harris is walking around freely and Derek doesn’t have anyone anymore” he murmured, eyes turning back to the TV.
“I know, son. But Derek’s got his pack… he’s got you.”