It was exactly nine when Stiles pulled up to Scott’s house. The werewolf was already outside, pacing the length of the front porch. He sprinted to the Jeep, yanked the door open and climbed into the passenger seat.
“Hey,” he greeted. Then as Stiles backed out of the McCall’s drive and started for Isaac’s place, “So what’s going on? Is this about what happened at lunch today?”
Eyes not leaving the stretch of road in front of him, Stiles shook his head. “No. At least I don’t think so.”
“Then…?” prompted Scott.
“It’s Derek. Something is up with him and his pack, I guess. Something that has to do with Isaac’s house. I was outside of Ms. Morrell’s office, waiting for Lydia to come out so I could ask her if she was okay, and Boyd came up to me and-“
“Boyd?” cut in Scott. “What was he doing there?”
“He and Erica were ditching class and hanging out in the guidance councilor’s hallway. I think they were there for Lydia, probably trying to judge if it was the right time to ask her to join their little wolf cult.”
“It’s not a cult.” Scott said it quickly and heatedly.
“It’s not a cult. It’s a pack. And there would be nothing wrong with Derek having one if he wasn’t going around changing random teenagers into creatures of the night just because he’s lonely or something. And even that wouldn’t be so bad – I mean it’s bad but it isn’t as if he’s giving anyone The Bite against their will – if there weren’t a bunch of hunters running around town trying to kill all werewolves whether they’ve hurt anyone or not, and a gigantic reptile shifter thing also running around town trying to kill werewolves and humans.”
He took a deep breath and rolled his shoulders like maybe he was trying to shrug off whatever it was Stiles had said that had sent him launching into the rant.
“Okay,” said Stiles and the word dragged on a little as he came to a stop at a stop sign, looked both ways, and hit the gas. “But I’m sticking with cult. Because Derek is going around changing troubled teens into werewolves, despite the fact that this town is crazy with people and…well, things, that want to kill werewolves.”
There was a soft growling sound to his right and the second line lacrosse player tightened his grip on the steering wheel.
Huh. So Scott was touchy about the whole pack thing, which Stiles probably should have realized. Pack equaled good in a wolf’s mind.
Stiles bit at his bottom lip with his teeth and turned smoothly onto Isaac’s street. He didn’t take the cult comment back.
“Shit,” hissed Scott and he slid lower in his seat (yeah, as if that would hide him – what a dork) when Isaac’s house came into view. “What are they doing here?”
“You’re asking me?” Stiles immediately turned off the headlights and parked the Jeep a few houses down from Isaac’s cookie cutter looking place, under cover of a burned out street lamp, across the street from Jackson’s house. In an attempt to make out whoever was sitting inside of it, he squinted at the cop car parked in front of the fugitive teenager’s house. “You think my dad tells me these things anymore? I was with Lydia at the dance when she was attacked and had no explanation for why Jackson showed up at the hospital with her because I couldn’t exactly tell him I was kidnapped by an out of control alpha. And then there was the whole incident with Isaac and how he went missing from his jail cell and left that cop slash hunter half dead, and then there was the most recent accident at the mechanic’s garage.”
He pulled his key from the ignition. “Suddenly I’m involved in all of these strange incidents. If my dad was tight lipped before about his police work, he sure as hell isn’t telling me anything now.”
“I’m sorry,” said Scott out of nowhere and when Stiles turned to look at his friend he saw the earlier trace of annoyance on his face had disappeared. “That sucks. I know you hate having to lie to your dad about everything and-“
“Hey,” Stiles cut him off. The hard little ball of anger he had been carrying around in his stomach since lunch, since Scott had snapped at him about his mom being in danger and not being willing to take a risk (it was like he hadn’t even considered the huge risk Stiles had had to take with his father when the Alpha had trapped a handful of them at the school in an effort to get Scott to kill them, hadn’t even considered the danger he was putting his father in lately just by staying friends with the werewolf), seemed to dissolve into nothing. “No worries. We’ll get this kanima thing figured out and then we’ll go back to looking for a cure. And once we find that everything can go back to normal. No more unnecessary risk or worry for your mom or my dad.”
His mouth lifted in a little half grin, but Scott didn’t respond in kind.
Instead, his best friend just stared at him blankly for a few long and tense seeming seconds. Then, “Right. Back to normal.” He turned back to the cop car and frowned, as if in thought. “Maybe we should try sneaking around back. We could start from a couple of houses down and work our way over there.”
“Let’s go,” said Stiles.
As quietly as they could, they got out of the Jeep. They would have to cross at least three yards to reach Isaac’s backyard, and they would have to be extremely stealthy about it if they didn’t want the on-duty officers sitting in the car to notice them.
They hurried to the first backyard and before Stiles could even wrap his head around how he was going to go about grabbing the top of the very tall wooden fence so he could haul himself over it Scott had, in what was no doubt an effortless move for him, gripped the lip of the fence and disappeared over it.
“Hey,” complained Stiles in as loud a whisper as he could manage. “Wait up. We don’t all have superhuman strength and…and jumping powers.”
“Stiles,” started Scott from the other side of the fence but he talked right over his best friend.
“No. Shut up. Hold on. I’ll be right there.”
“I said hold-“
His next words were silenced by a large hand that came from out of nowhere and clamped over his mouth.
“I was just trying to let you know…” came Scott’s resigned sounding voice from the other side of the large fence. “I was trying to tell you that Derek is here. Close. I can smell him.”
Yeah, thought Stiles, who was now pressed straight backed against Derek’s chest, the smell of leather jacket overwhelming him, a powerful hand held tight over his mouth. No kidding.
“Stiles?” asked Scott.
When there was no answer, his friend hopped back over the fence. He blanched at the sight of Derek. “Oh,” he said.
Oh? Stiles wanted to shout. He was being held hostage by a maniac who also happened to be an unstable supernatural being and all his friend could manage was an ‘oh’?
Scott waved vaguely in Derek’s direction, as if to take in Stiles and the hand being held forcefully over his face. “Come on,” he said. (And he didn’t say it in an urgent or worried enough way, in Stiles’s opinion. It was as if the wolf didn’t think the Alpha would actually do any real harm to his best friend. Which was ridiculous because, again, being held hostage).
Derek growled low and let go of Stiles, gave him a light shove towards Scott.
And yeah, okay, maybe calling himself a hostage in his own head had been a bit of an exaggeration. Although Derek had definitely been pushy and mean and threatening with him before he had never really hurt Stiles. Not really. And he was definitely capable of it.
Isaac was lurking just beyond the young Alpha’s shoulder; he looked pale and wide eyed and no less depressed than the last time Stiles had seen him in his human form. Maybe the werewolf way of life wasn’t exactly working out for him the way he thought it would.
“I told you both not to come. I told you to stay away.” The young man moved so he was in front of Scott, looming over him.
“Well,” put in Stiles and the man’s eyes immediately snapped to him. “You didn’t exactly tell us anything.”
“I know Boyd told you-“
“Sorry. I don’t answer to Boyd.”
In an instant, a blur of movement almost too quick to see, the Alpha was looming over Stiles. “I sent you that message through Boyd.”
Stiles couldn’t hold back a snort. “Yeah? Well, I certainly don’t answer to you. And neither does Scott, remember? That's part of the whole big problem between us all? Scott not joining you crazies has led to fighting, more threats than usual, general discord?”
At that, Derek’s eyes flashed red for a brief but terrifying moment.
Scott moved so that he was between Stiles and the Alpha. “Look. It’s done. We’re here. Why don’t we all just check out this…thing together.”
“Thing?” asked Derek.
Stiles shifted nervously. He hoped the teen wolf wasn’t clueless enough to give away the fact that they hadn’t actually known what had happened at Isaac’s house that the wolf pack found so interesting, that they hadn’t even been aware of that something interesting before Derek’s insistence that they stay away.
Derek had assumed Scott and Stiles would know about something being up at Isaac’s house – he probably thought that Stiles had already gathered as much from his father. And Derek assuming that was a good thing. It gave Stiles and Scott a bit of an advantage. He didn’t want Scott to give away the fact that Stiles had little to no information at all coming in from his Dad anymore, didn’t want the Alpha to stop inadvertently alerting them to any strange happenings around town that might lead them closer to solving the kanima problem, or the hunter problem, or the ultimate problem of Scott’s curse.
“Yeah,” Scott went on. “Thing. Let’s go already.”
The sour looking werewolf didn’t move for a few uncomfortably long seconds. Then he gave one sharp nod and motioned at the fence. “Fine.”
With a seemingly determined glare Scott turned and in a blur was gone. Isaac was quick to follow him.
Great, thought Stiles as he watched the shapeless smear of motion that was Isaac disappear beyond the fence. At least with only Scott being there his friend would have likely waited for him to bumble his way over the backyard obstacles that led to Isaac’s house. At this rate, with the other two there, by the time Stiles managed to reach Isaac’s the werewolves would be finished investigating whatever needed investigating. Heck, by the time he reached the yard both Derek and Isaac would probably be gone and Scott would be waiting for him back at the Jeep.
Frowning, the teenager weighed his options. He really wanted to see what was what at the fugitive wolf’s house. It could be important and, as much as Stiles cared for his best friend, Scott could at times be a bit of an ignoramus and might not grasp the importance of everything he saw.
He didn’t want someone else to get killed, or hurt or anything bad to happen just because he wasn’t able to jump a few fences.
It doesn’t matter if they’re gone by the time I get there, decided Stiles as Derek easily hauled himself to the top of the tall fence. I’ll just have a look around myself. And Scott will have to wait for me at the Jeep if he wants a ride back home.
“Well?” came Derek’s deep voice from somewhere above him and Stiles couldn’t help a little jump of fright. He looked up and saw that the young man was staring down at him, an obviously amused glint in his eyes. He was sort of sitting on top of the fence, almost straddling it in what was no doubt a rather uncomfortable position. One of his hands was gripping the fence to keep balanced and the other was being held out in offer. “Are you coming?”
It took a moment for Stiles to realize what was happening. His face turned immediately and embarrassingly red when he did.
Derek Hale was offering to pull him up and over the fence. Which was both surprisingly considerate and excruciatingly humiliating.
What the hell.
The Alpha wiggled his fingers a little in encouragement and Stiles lifted his own arm up. Derek’s hands wrapped around his wrist in a firm grip and slowly, as if he was being careful and trying really hard not to dislocate Stile’s shoulder or something, lifted.
Stiles expected to be let go of as soon as he had reached the top of the fence. From there, after all, he could have easily hopped down on his own. Instead, the werewolf grasped him around the waist so that they were both sort-of-not-really straddling the fence and hopped down with the teenager still held firmly in his arms.
They landed and Stiles staggered away from the werewolf, breathed deep when he saw that the next fence was a squat little thing only a little higher than his knees. And beyond that was just a bunch of hedges, loose enough that they could both easily squeeze through their bulk and into Isaac’s backyard.
“Um,” he managed. “Yeah. Thanks. That wasn’t incredibly awkward or anything.”
Derek simply rolled his eyes and walked off.
Stiles pulled at his shirt (which had ridden up a little), then hurried after him.