kyrene_writes: (TW: pedobait stiles)
[personal profile] kyrene_writes
Title: Life in the Stilinski-Hale Household: Part Six
Author: [personal profile] kyrenekyorl
Pairings/Characters: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski, Sheriff Stilinski, Talia Hale, Scott McCall, Isaac Lahey, Erica Reyes, Vernon Boyd III
Rating: R
Word Count: 8,556 (this part)
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: underage
Summary: Derek is seventeen, Stiles is thirteen, they're stepbrothers, things happen....


"Life in the Stilinski-Hale Household"
Part Six

by kyrene


Erica Reyes didn't really like spending time at the Stilinski-Hale house. Not because Derek's younger stepbrother, Stiles, was so often there and was insanely annoying, even though he was. And not because it wasn't a nice place, because it really was a nice place and they always had good snacks.

No, the reason Erica didn't really like spending time at the Stilinski-Hale house was because of Talia Stilinski-Hale. Erica always felt as though she was being judged when Derek's mother looked at her.

But Derek's mother wasn't home right now, and neither was Stiles; a double win as far as Erica was concerned. Though Stiles would probably be getting home any time now.

She, Boyd, Isaac, and of course Derek had all headed over as soon as school had let out, and since they'd driven they had reached the house well before Stiles would, seeing as he had to take the bus. And that was if he didn't go over to Scott McCall's house before coming home. Erica hoped he'd go to the McCall's. Let them deal with him.

In the meantime Erica stretched out on the sofa, taking advantage of the fact that she had it to herself, and wiggled her toes, sighing contentedly.

"Boyd, get me a soda," she ordered, waving a hand imperiously.

"Get it yourself," he grunted, stretching his legs out where he was sitting on the ugly shag carpeting by the recliner. Erica would never understand his predilection for avoiding furniture, but at least he never tried to make her join him in groveling on the floor.

"Chivalry is dead," she mourned, slinging an arm over her eyes; though carefully, to avoid smearing her mascara.

"Would you get me a soda if I ordered you to, without even saying please?" Boyd asked, reasonably enough.

Erica sighed, moving her arm and rolling her eyes, but she had to admit he had a point. "No," she admitted. "But I might get you some chips."

Boyd snorted affectionately. "Then you can get your own soda while you're getting those chips," he said.

"Asshole," she accused without heat, flipping him off without looking.

She and Boyd weren't officially dating, but neither of them dated anyone else and they had some awesome sex at the same time that they hung out as friends, so Erica didn't feel the need to change things. She'd seen too many high school "couples" break up and the ugly aftermath, and she had no desire to go through that herself.

So far Boyd seemed to be on the same boat, so to speak. He was a big boy who could take care of himself and Erica figured that if he'd wanted to make it official between them he'd have said something to her by this point. So he must feel that same way she did, right?

Or maybe he was afraid of commitment, like Derek seemed to be. Either way, Erica kept Boyd as a friend and they still got to have amazing sex, so she had no plans to press the issue.

Some people -- most likely Derek's mother included -- thought that Erica was lacking in ladylike behavior. She hung out with three guys, she didn't have any female friends, she could hold her own with said guys in sports, drinking, belching....

So, yeah, maybe she dressed a little provocatively and wore thick eyeliner and bright red lipstick in an effort to remind people she was a girl. But maybe she just liked the attention her looks and body gained her. Or maybe she did it for Boyd. Even Erica herself wasn't clear on her motivation.

Derek and Isaac treated her like one of them. Boyd for the most part did the same, only with an understated undertone of chivalry; which, despite her mocking words, he did have and exercise. Enough to charm her, not enough to piss her off. He wouldn't go fetch her a soda on order, but he'd make sure she got the last slice of her favorite pizza and he did open doors for her.

And, of course, he didn't treat her like a guy when they were banging. She'd actually had to get on him at first for trying to be too gentle! Not that she liked it rough, but she enjoyed enthusiasm. She liked to think that she could cause a guy to lose control. Especially someone as naturally quiet and reserved as Boyd.

Anyway. Here Erica was, no soda and no chips. All because Boyd treated her like one of the guys. Just the way she liked it, but was it too much to ask to occasionally be waited on hand and foot?

Naturally, Derek had to go and ruin her brooding over the injustice of the universe in general and her not-boyfriend specifically by bringing them all sodas and dumping four full-size, unopened bags of different flavored chips on the coffee table.

Erica sat up, moving her feet so that Derek could sit down and also so she could drink soda without spilling all over herself.

"So, Derek," Isaac said from where he was leaning over the back of the recliner. No one sat in it but Derek, because it was his stepfather's chair when the whole family was home, but Derek was slumped on the sofa right now. "How'd your date with Paige go?"

Erica turned her attention to Derek, laser-like. She'd meant to ask that question all day, but hadn't had the opportunity.

Derek shrugged, sipping his soda, looking strangely contemplative. "All right."

Erica and Boyd raised their brows at each other.

"That doesn't sound very exciting," Erica commented, because she knew Boyd wouldn't. "I wasn't expecting you to gush about how amazing it was, but only 'all right' after giving you guys a second chance? Ouch, Derek."

He shrugged again, and now he looked uncomfortable, the way he did whenever he had to talk about emotions.

"It went all right," he repeated adamantly. "But I don't think she'll gonna want to go out again. I don't think I will either. We had a spark last time we dated, but it's not there anymore."

"You mean you're no longer being an asshole to her and so she doesn't have to respond in kind anymore," Boyd unexpectedly spoke up, smirking at Derek. Erica blinked, mulling that over. It was actually pretty accurate.

She hadn't been friends with Derek back then, still in the middle of her own ugly, awkward phase, but she could remember Derek swaggering around school, overcompensating for something, teasing and taunting and not quite being a bully, but not very far from it.

And Paige Krasikeva had been one hundred percent unwilling to put up with his shit, which had translated somehow into Derek developing some kind of obsession over her, and persisting until she'd agreed to go out with him....

Erica didn't know how that had gone once they'd started dating. Not even the healthy, super-powered high school rumor factory had gone there. But once they'd called things quits Derek and Paige had remained polite acquaintances, neither one acting like they were heartbroken.

Derek had toned down his aggressive posturing, though, so something good had come out of it.

Derek was glaring at Boyd now, but there was no real heat behind it. Oh, he wasn't happy. But it wasn't like he was going to beat Boyd up, or even snap back at him for putting it into words. It might have been a little harsh, but they all knew it was true.

"That's too bad," Erica said, "You guys make a cute couple."

She may have said that, and it may have been true, but she was secretly glad it hadn't worked out. She liked having all three of these guys to herself. She didn't dislike Paige in particular, but the two of them didn't have much in common aside from being the same gender.

She knew that someday Derek would find someone, someday Isaac would stop being a picky bitch and start dating, and, anyway, they were unlikely to all four of them be going to the same college, but.... Well, for right now, at least, she was glad that the status quo wasn't going to drastically change.

Derek shrugged and looked as though he was about to say something, but just then Stiles slammed into the house.

He literally slammed into the house. Stiles was noisy at the best of times, but he didn't usually fling open the door so hard it rebounded, then crash it closed behind him so violently that it legitimately shook the walls.

Derek actually looked alarmed, and he scooted to the edge of the sofa, ready to rise.

Boyd went still and Erica held her breath as Stiles stormed through the living room on his way to the stairs, clearly on the verge of tears, his face red and blotchy, his chin raised up high, his hands clenched into fists. Erica wasn't fond of the kid, but she felt a little bad for him in this moment -- whatever he was upset about, he obviously felt like it was pretty world-shattering -- and she was smart enough to keep quiet and not risk making things worse.

Isaac, however, was not so smart.

"What the hell is your problem?" he asked Stiles, turning to face the kid.

"Isaac," Derek said warningly, standing up, but before he could move or say anything else Stiles had detoured slightly and Erica watched in shock and something akin to awe as he hauled off and punched Isaac right in the crotch.

Isaac went down with a high pitched yelp, Stiles practically flew upstairs, and Derek just kind of stood there for a few moments, hands hanging limply at his sides, eye round and jaw hanging loose in shock.

Once she got over her own shock Erica clapped a hand tightly over her mouth. Because none of the guys would forgive her if she laughed at Isaac getting punched in the groin, no matter whether he'd deserved it or not. She wanted to laugh. Stiles had finally taken Isaac down, and it had been hysterical.

Okay, maybe not for Isaac. And evidently not for Stiles, either.

But Erica thought it was funny.

"I wonder what happened," Boyd mused, frowning slightly. He made no move to aid Isaac, who was curled up on the floor behind the recliner, clutching at his crotch and letting out pitiful little sounds of agony.

"I'll text Scott," Derek said, grabbing his phone. He also made no move toward Isaac, so Erica felt less bad about her internal amusement.

"Should you go up and ask Stiles directly?" Boyd prodded.

Derek looked at him like he was crazy. "He's not going to want me trying to talk to him while he's crying," he said, and he had a point. From the way he'd looked when he'd come home, there was no way Stiles wasn't bawling his eyes out right now. And no boy wanted an audience to their breakdowns. Hell, Erica would have castrated any of her friends if they'd come after her when she was crying the way Stiles surely was.

Not that she'd cried like that in a while. And she wasn't planning on crying like that again for a long time, if ever. She couldn't help it; she felt a little bad for Stiles. No one should cry like that, for any reason. Also, she was a little worried about what had gotten the kid so upset.

"I hope everything's okay," Erica said, grimacing and sipping her soda to try and cover her nerves. If anything was wrong with Stiles' father, that was going to affect Derek and put a damper on the day. He was the Sheriff, though, and even though Beacon Hills was a pretty quiet place, bad things did happen....

"Huh." Derek stared at his phone, and he looked nonplussed, but not as upset as Stiles had been, so Erica relaxed a little.

"What's up?" she asked, because now that she was fairly sure it wasn't anything as disastrous as Stiles had evidently felt it to be, she was insatiably curious.

Derek's lips went tight and he looked as though he wasn't going to share whatever McCall had texted him, which was going to piss Erica off, but then the doorbell rang and when Derek went to answer it they could hear what was happening in the hall, and Erica found out what had happened after all.

Well, Erica and Boyd listened in. Isaac was still lost in a world of pain, still clutching at his junk and whining like the little bitch that he could so often be.

+=+=+

Danny Mahealani had not expected to end his school day standing on the Stilinski-Hale family's doorstep, facing the fierce eyebrows of Stiles' older stepbrother.

And yet here he was.

Well, he hadn't been expecting to find himself rudely blowing Stiles off when his classmate had tried to ask him out after school had ended. He'd assumed that Stiles had been fucking around, and in his defense he'd had no idea Stiles wasn't completely straight; his crush on Lydia Martin was legendary throughout Beacon Hills Junior High, after all.

Bad enough Danny had been the asshole, albeit without meaning to have been. But then, after Stiles had turned tail and fled, Danny had found himself confronted by Scott McCall. His puppy-dog eyes had stared at Danny from under floppy bangs with abject disappointment, and he'd quietly informed Danny that he'd been very rude after Stiles had spent all day working up the nerve to ask him out.

After making sure that the two weren't double-teaming him in order to mess with his head, once he'd made sure McCall was serious when he said that Stiles had meant it when he'd asked him out, Danny had known there was only one thing to do.

There was no way he could go out with Stiles -- not only would it lower his social standing, but he couldn't be sure this wasn't a ploy to get close to Lydia, no matter how earnestly McCall believed Stiles had meant his request -- but Danny could remember the way Stiles' face had collapsed when he'd shot him down, and even though he didn't want to go out on a date with the kid, he would never have been such a jerk if he'd known it was a serious request.

Danny might be best friends with Jackson Whittemore, but he wasn't a bad guy himself. And so the only thing to do was to go and apologize to Stiles. Then let him down gently, because he wasn't about to date him. Still, an apology was in order, and then maybe Danny could kindly suggest that Stiles lower his standards a little, to someone more his own level where coolness -- or the lack thereof -- was concerned.

But apologizing to Stiles meant getting to Stiles. Which evidently meant getting through Derek. And that was proving to be both immensely intimidating and increasingly improbable.

"What do you want," had been Derek's greeting, and he hadn't even bothered making it a question, frowning fiercely at Danny as he spat the words out. It was on another planet from polite, but since he was here to apologize to Derek's younger stepbrother for crushing his heart like a grape -- and since Derek was so much bigger than he was -- Danny let it slide.

"Is Stiles home?" he asked, standing perfectly still and trying to look as open and non-defensive as possible. He'd come over on his bike as soon as he'd finished talking to McCall, so if Stiles had made any detours along the way or been in any way delayed Danny could have conceivably beaten him here.

"Yes."

Or not. And that blunt response gave Danny nothing, no leeway whatsoever.

"Can I speak you him?" Danny asked, still maintaining his manners because one of them needed to.

"Why do you want to?"

At least that time it had been a question. A belligerent, harshly asked question. But Danny knew the answer to it, at least.

"I'm here to apologize to him."

He'd been standing like a doofus on the front porch, Derek a huge hulk of hotness blocking the doorway with his muscles and his scary eyebrows, but as he spoke those words, Danny felt hard hands fist in his shirt over his chest and he found himself dragged inside and slammed into the wall beside the front door.

"What are you apologizing for?" Derek growled, and his voice wasn't usually that low and intimidating; Danny didn't know the guy well, but he knew that much. "What did you do?"

Danny grimaced, trying to ignore the way his heart was pounding with fight-or-flight reaction to being manhandled like this. He was no wilting flower, he played lacrosse and swam and was in good shape, but Derek was a senior in high school and he obviously worked out obsessively. If he wanted to, he could easily mop the floor with Danny.

So evidently Stiles had beaten him here in time to share what had happened. Either that or Derek was that protective of his younger stepsibling. As an older brother Danny understood, and he just hoped he wasn't going to end up getting punched in the face. He'd been an asshole, yeah, but he hadn't meant to be and he didn't think he quite deserved physical harm....

"He--" Danny's voice squeaked and he paused to clear his throat, speaking more normally as he continued. "He tried to ask me out today and I thought he was bullshitting me so I shot him down, but evidently according to McCall he was serious so now I owe him an apology."

It came out in a rush, a little too breathless for Danny's peace of mind, but at least Derek took a step back and stopped leaning into him like he was going to push him right through the wall.

"What?" Derek asked blankly. So Stiles must not have shared the occurrence with his family yet.

"Um." Danny couldn't really clarify it any further; he'd laid it out pretty thoroughly, in small enough words that Derek should have understood. He wasn't just some dumb jock; Danny knew that Derek actually got pretty good grades. Mostly because Stiles alternately bragged and complained about his "perfect" stepbrother where everyone could hear, whether they cared or not. But he seemed to be having trouble parsing Danny's meaning here and now.

"Wait, Stiles did what?"

That was Erica... R-something, Danny couldn't remember her last name. She was a senior too, friends with Derek, and she was peering around the corner, staring at Danny with big eyes surrounded by too much mascara that was too dark for her coloring, her pretty face slack with shock.

"Shut up, Erica," Derek snapped, shooting her a glare that Danny was glad he wasn't on the wrong side of. But then he was, because Derek turned back to him, those thick eyebrows speaking more than the harshest words ever could.

"Stiles did what?" he asked, biting out each word.

"Um." Danny cast about, trying to think how he could rephrase it when he'd already said pretty much everything that needed to be said. "After school Stiles tried to ask me out on a date and I thought he was kidding. I mean, I'm not Lydia and I didn't know he was bi. And I was really kind of an asshole when I turned him down, because I thought he was messing with me, but according to McCall he was serious. So now I need to apologize to him. Can I speak to him?"

He tacked on that last even though he'd already asked before because Derek didn't seem inclined to move, much less direct him to Stiles' bedroom, and he wasn't here to talk to Derek, he was here to talk to Stiles.

Derek had let go of his shirt entirely, thankfully, and had taken another step back, but he was still looming and even though he looked more confused than murderous, his gaze fixed unseeing over Danny's shoulder, his eyebrows were still bent at an intimidating angle.

"Really?" That was Erica again, still lingering in the doorway to what Danny assumed was the living room, her eyes wide and bright, her red-painted lips curved up in a wicked smile. "Didn't know the kid had it in him. Ballsy to aim so high."

Danny winced internally. It sounded worse when she said it, but he really... he couldn't go out with Stiles, he just wasn't interested. It was kind of cool that a high school senior recognized that Danny was above Stiles' level socially, but she made it sound so... mean.

"Erica, get the hell out of here!" Derek snarled at her.

Danny pressed back against the wall, suitably spooked by Derek's rage even if it wasn't aimed at him, but Erica just blew out a rude raspberry sound and faded away, completely unrattled. Danny was sure she was still listening, but he had more pressing matters to turn his attention to as Derek spun to face him again, face like a storm cloud.

"C-can I just go and--" Danny tried, but Derek cut him off harshly.

"No."

He swallowed tightly as Derek glowered. This was so unfair. He'd come to apologize to Stiles and get the hell out, not be given a frightening third degree by Stiles' hot-but-scary older stepbrother.

Derek just stood there, staring at him. Danny swallowed again, fighting the urge to fidget nervously. Derek was gorgeous, with his chiseled cheekbones and wide-set, pale eyes of indeterminate color, his stubbled jaw and his plush pink lips. But he was also freaky as hell, and he was focused intently on Danny. Not in a good way.

When he did speak, though, it wasn't anything Danny would have expected.

"Is there anyone bullying Stiles at school?"

"Huh?" Danny was a smart guy, he wasn't slow in any way, but this was a complete switch and it took him a second to catch up. "I'm not.... I told you, I didn't think he was serious! I wouldn't have been so rude if I'd known he meant--"

"No," Derek interrupted, looking frustrated. Danny was feeling frustrated too, and that was all Derek's fault. He just wanted to talk to Stiles....

"Oh my God, Derek," Erica called from the living room, and Danny seconded that, but he didn't appreciate the way it made Derek frown even harder, especially since he was still staring right at him.

"Butt out, Erica!" Derek snapped over his shoulder, then stared at Danny some more.

"Um." Danny gave it a moment's thought, because it didn't look like Derek was going to let him go until he'd had his question answered. "I guess maybe.... No, not really."

Derek's eyes narrowed, brows creasing in the middle, but Danny didn't want to narc Jackson out. If anyone was bullying Stiles it was most likely to be Jackson Whittemore... but Jackson was Danny's best friend. Danny wasn't about to tell Derek that Jackson's needling of Stiles sometimes passed over the border into too much. Especially not when Derek was obviously this prone to violence.

"Shake him until he spills the goods!"

"Erica!"

Now it was Danny's turn to glare in Erica's direction, because he wouldn't put it past Derek to do just that.

Erica muttered something that Danny couldn't make out and he heard a masculine snort of amusement from the same direction. That must have been one of Derek's other friends. Great, there was more than one high school senior listening in.

But the fact that they had an audience didn't really matter as Derek turned back to Danny and scowled at him. Danny just wanted to get out of the house without Derek giving him a beat-down for hurting his stepbrother's feelings.

"Look," Danny said, taking half a step sideways toward the door, cautiously, bracing himself to be grabbed again, hoping he wouldn't be, "I just came here to apologize to Stiles. If you're not gonna let me see him, then I should get going. I'll apologize at school tomorrow. It'll be better if I do it in public anyway, since I shot him down in public. Right?"

Derek's eyebrows were down again, and Danny was starting to wonder if he'd be able to get out of the house unscathed. He hadn't come here for this. He'd just wanted to tell Stiles he was sorry and then get out.

"Who's bullying Stiles?" he asked, keeping his voice low and leaning in, as though he didn't want his friends in the living room to hear.

"No one," Danny reiterated, even though he knew Derek didn't and wouldn't believe him. "Just-- I just came to apologize for hurting his feelings, okay? But if I can't go talk to him, just let me leave!"

Derek blinked, looking a little taken aback by the desperation in Danny's voice.

"Jesus, Derek," floated over from the living room, but Erica sounded as much amused as exasperated. Easy for her, since she wasn't the one being glared into the wall.

"You're going to apologize to him at school tomorrow," Derek said, and Danny honestly wasn't sure whether he meant it as a statement or a question, but he nodded anyway. He'd already said as much, but if Derek felt the need to give him the order, he'd make extra sure he went through with it. If it would get him out of this house now and away from Derek and his intense, grim stare.

"I will," Danny said, reaching over blindly and fumbling for the doorknob. "I will."

"If I find out you didn't, I'll make you," Derek informed him menacingly, and Danny wasn't a coward but a guy had his breaking point and Derek had driven Danny up to his breaking point and over the edge.

"I will!" he blurted, then made his way out the door and down to his bike as quickly as he could without outright running.

Okay, maybe he did run a little. But he challenged anyone not to run away from the full force of Derek Stilinski-Hale's eyebrows of doom!

No wimping out; tomorrow he would have to apologize to Stiles in public, or Derek would find out about it and get him.

Not that he minded doing it so much, Danny thought as he pedaled away. But he'd still rather have done it here, this afternoon, in the privacy of Stiles' bedroom. And he'd rather do it without the threat of Derek's wrath hanging over his head.

It might not be a bad idea to warn Jackson to lay off of Stiles a little. If Derek starting asking the same question of, say, Scott McCall, he might get a different answer than the one Danny had given him.

Danny headed for home, happy to have escaped from the Stilinski-Hale home, a little peeved that he hadn't gotten to talk to Stiles, and hoping that Stiles wasn't too upset at him.

If the expression on his face before he'd fled the school had been anything to go by, though, Stiles was probably pretty upset with Danny. Dammit. Well, he would make it right. Tomorrow. And not because Derek had ordered him to do so.

Danny still wasn't going to date Stiles. But once he'd adjusted to the idea that Stiles had been serious when he had asked....

Well, it was kind of flattering. Ridiculous but flattering.

+=+=+

Boyd still couldn't believe that Stiles had nut-punched Isaac. That had been pretty ballsy -- pun only somewhat intended -- and Isaac had deserved it. Maybe not so much in the moments before it had happened, but he'd been picking in Stiles for a long time.

The trigger might have been Stiles' emotional upheaval over being rejected by the boy he'd asked out, but Isaac had been being a real douche to Stiles for years now, and it was no wonder the kid had evidently had enough.

Boyd himself had a tough time being around Stiles, but it had nothing to do with how scattered and awkward he could be even when he was at his best. Yeah, Stiles could be pretty annoying sometimes, but that wasn't the issue Boyd had with him.

It was actually because Stiles reminded Boyd of his sister. Who he still missed so much it ached, deep in his chest. She hadn't been as spastic, of course, or as prone to accidents, but Stiles was a good kid with a good heart who meant well, and those were traits he definitely shared with Boyd's sister.

Boyd did feel bad for Stiles right now, though. Romantically rejected and outted to his family in the same day, all in one glorious swoop.

Maybe Stiles shouldn't have aimed as high as he had -- even though they were only in junior high it was clear that Danny ranked above Stiles socially, as evidenced by the fact that Boyd even knew who Danny Mahealani was -- but that in itself could be an admirable trait, that he didn't care about things like cliques or popularity. It was unfortunate, then, it had gone so badly for him.

Stiles was loud and seemed confident, but Boyd suspected that he was actually a lot more self conscious than the image he projected. With a buff, handsome, successful older stepbrother like Derek, it wasn't really a surprise that Stiles might come off feeling second-best.

Which had made his move in asking out one of the popular, attractive boys from his school very bold and worthy of respect.

Unfortunately, it had also made sure that the boy in question had thought he was joking, which had gotten him blown off in turn.

Damn, Derek was pissed, Boyd thought as his friend stamped back into the living room. He didn't act so protective of Stiles when Erica and Isaac picked on him, and they were usually even meaner than Danny Mahealani had evidently been.

Well, maybe that was going to change now. If something had changed recently in the way Derek thought of Stiles, if he'd finally, finally begun thinking of him as his younger brother instead of an inconvenient brat he was forced to live with, maybe he'd start stepping up and making sure that his friends stopped picking on Stiles.

Boyd wasn't deeply invested in this situation but he thought it would be nice. Siblings should stick together while they had each other; even if they were only siblings by marriage. Boyd had never let his sister down... until he had. But never on purpose, and he'd have given anything to get her back, up to and including his own life.

That was getting pretty dark, though, and he was still amused that Stiles had out and out nut-punched Isaac. So he should focus more on that than his own devastating loss. At least right now.

"Shit, Derek, I'm sorry," Erica was saying, her expression painfully earnest, as Derek stalked into the room. His eyebrows threatened complete and utter disaster and Boyd tried to telepathically communicate with Erica to tell her to step carefully. It wouldn't work, of course, but he had to do what he could and hew knew from experience that he wouldn't be able to derail her until she'd had her say, whatever it was.

"For what?" Derek growled out. "Butting in on my conversation with Stiles' classmate? You should be sorry!"

"No, not for that," Erica said dismissively, waving a hand, then her expression grew more earnest. "But I never would have teased Stiles about him and McCall if I'd known he actually was gay."

Derek's brows went up instead of down, which was a good sign, but he still looked like he was spoiling for a fight.

"He's probably bisexual," Boyd pointed out calmly. There was no way Stiles was faking the Lydia thing, though it seemed now as though he'd moved on... or at least branched out.

"You should stop being so mean to him in general," Derek said, and he sounded and looked less angry, which was good. He looked very serious, though. "It wasn't so bad when he was a kid, but he's a teenager now. He takes the things you say seriously and they hurt his feelings. It's not like it used to be."

Erica pulled a sour face. Boyd nodded, though. It was good that Derek had finally noticed and was saying something about it.

"Are we going to talk about the fact that Stiles hit me in the dick?" Isaac spoke up, his voice thin and strained. He'd managed to drag himself up into the recliner and was slumped in it, hands buried in his crotch, his face pale, sweat dewing his upper lip and temples.

"You kind of deserved it," Boyd said, because he wasn't sure whether Derek was planning to. Then he stood and went into the kitchen to get a bag of frozen vegetables out of the freezer. He was a nice guy like that... though Mrs. Stilinski-Hale might argue next time she wanted to cook some corn.

"All I did was ask him why he came slamming in the house," he could hear Isaac whining. As he walked back into the living room, Derek was answering, arms folded, face stern.

"It was the way you said it. And let's be honest; this has been building for a while. You've never been nice to Stiles, not since the first day you met him."

"Well, neither have you," Isaac snapped, accepting the corn from Boyd and shoving the bag between his legs, then letting out a pained yowl. "Goddamn it! Ow-ow-ow!!"

Derek ignored Isaac's distress, his face going lax with surprise, his arms falling by his sides.

"I haven't...."

"You're kind of a jerk to him in general," Erica said. Boyd sat beside her on the sofa and accepted the half-finished soda that Derek had gotten her, taking a sip. "Or at least you used to be, back when we first became friends with you."

"I didn't think I was," Derek said, sounding a little lost. Then his features firmed. "I mean, it wasn't like he was all sweetness and light to me either back then, you know."

"You're the older brother," Boyd said, speaking the hard truths. It seemed that Derek needed to hear them. "You gotta look out for your younger siblings. Even if they annoy you."

Derek sent him a betrayed look. It was possible Boyd should have told him this earlier, but he really hadn't felt like it was his business. It still wasn't, but Erica and Derek had brought the subject up, and so he wanted to make sure Derek knew where he stood.

Of all of them, Boyd had the most insight into the matter. Isaac had an older brother and Erica was an only child. Boyd was the one who'd had a younger sister... and lost her. He still hurt every day over this knowledge. He always would. He knew how important family was, and he wanted to do his best to make sure that Derek understood as well. None of his friends actually knew about his loss -- he wanted it that way, didn't want their pity -- but he was sure that they could all hear the resolution and the experience in his tone.

"Erica, you wanna go to my place?" Boyd asked, and she shrugged which meant yes. "Derek, you should go talk to Stiles after we leave," Boyd said firmly, giving his friend a serious look that made Derek grimace uncomfortably.

"In case anyone is wondering, I can't move."

Everyone turned to stare at Isaac. He did look pretty pathetic, his face pasty and his mouth tight in a pained frown. Boyd still thought he deserved what he'd gotten though.

"I'll take you home," Derek told Isaac, his brow furrowing. He turned back to Boyd. "Then I'll go talk to Stiles."

He sounded honest, not as though he was humoring him, and Boyd nodded, satisfied.

Stiles was a smart kid with a good heart, even if he was more than a little obnoxious sometimes, and he would bounce back from being rejected by his classmate. But he might bounce faster with Derek's positive attention focused on him. Just because Boyd wasn't invested, that didn't mean he didn't care.

Derek was Boyd's friend and he'd be happier if he was being a good older brother, Boyd was sure.

And Boyd would be happier knowing that Derek was being a good older brother.

"Just try not to make things worse," he told Derek, and then grinned as Derek pulled a sour face at him. It had been a valid warning, though, and Boyd gave Derek even odds.

+=+=+

Talia Stilinski-Hale loved her husband. She loved him more than anyone else on the face of the Earth, aside from her baby, Derek, since the first time he'd been placed her arms after birth, and Stiles, her newer baby, since the first time he'd called her "Mom" without thinking.

But it was because of these two boys that as much as she loved her husband and valued his presence in their home -- something she didn't take for granted with his unpredictable schedule as the town Sheriff -- she also enjoyed the nights that she had without him, when it was just her and her sons.

It wasn't always easy. Derek was mellowing out now that he was getting close to eighteen, but he'd definitely had his years of teenage rebellion. He hadn't acted out so much as he'd acted like everything family-related was the hugest imposition anyone could ask of him. It got old after a while, and Talia had barely kept it from being hurtful by reminding herself what it had been like to be a teenager. All hormones and angst and trying to craft a sense of self separate from parents and siblings....

But Derek had made it through and was doing better now. With college looming, he seemed to actually be realizing that he needed to take advantage of what time he could spend with his mother, because if he didn't attend school close by, he wasn't going to have this very often.

Stiles was tripping headlong into the same puberty that had stolen her Derek away from her for a while, but Talia didn't get the feeling Stiles would react the same way Derek had. If anything, he seemed to be more clingy and needy, rather than pushing her or his father away. But then, he was only thirteen; that could still change.

One thing she truly appreciated, Talia thought as she unlocked the front door and let herself in with a tired but contented sigh, was that Derek and Stiles both seemed to be getting along better now than they had used it, even just a few weeks ago.

It was a lot of little things that added up to make her think so, nothing major shifting between them. Well, the fact that Derek had taken Stiles to look for shaving supplies without protesting was progress, though Talia had been the one to tell him to do so. But she hadn't suggested he teach Stiles to shave that same afternoon. That had been all the boys' idea, and it made her heart swell to see it.

There was also a change in how they regarded one another. In that they did. Up until recently, Derek had seemed to be doing his best to ignore Stiles' existence. He hadn't been antagonistic -- well, not for a couple of years now, though it had been different right after their two small families had merged into one larger family -- but there had always been a very obvious disconnect between him and Stiles.

Now, though, the boys were talking to each other without the buffer of one parent or both between them and they seemed to be at ease with one another, rather than behaving like strangers who'd been forced to share living space.

That was how Talia had sometimes seen them, and it had made her ache to try and change it, but every attempt at forcing them to bond had crashed and burned or backfired spectacularly. She knew it wasn't a simple matter. Derek had been used to being the center of her world, and even though she loved Stiles as much as if she had given birth to him as well, the boy could be frustrating and occasionally infuriating. Especially to a teenage who was pressed into spending time with him.

Derek was almost a legal adult now, and despite the four years' difference in their respective ages and the fact that the two of them had very little in common, he seemed to be willing to give his younger stepbrother more of a chance than he ever had before.

And Stiles was flourishing under this attention, as sporadic as it was, Talia thought fondly, toeing off her shoes and dropping her keys in the bowl beside the coat closet. If there was one thing Stiles had always needed from Derek, it was to be acknowledged.

Maybe this was the beginning of a new golden age. She was tentatively hopeful. Well, she had the boys to herself tonight; she'd pay close attention and see how they interacted.

She was a little disappointed to enter the living room and find only Derek sitting on the sofa, glaring at his laptop as though it had personally offended him. Even with the scowl -- or maybe because of it -- he was just as adorable as he had been when he'd been a toddler, she thought lovingly, leaning against the back of the sofa and sinking her fingers in his hair.

"Hey, Mom," he said, closing the laptop and tilting his head back. Talia tugged her hand free, grimacing internally at the product Derek was still using in his hair, even though she'd told him repeatedly that he looked better without it. Well, what boy listened to his mother when it came to fashion advice? Even if she actually did know best.

"Hey, sweetie." She leaned further and kissed his temple, because she was still feeling an overflow of affection. For both her boys, in fact, so she asked; "Where's Stiles?"

Derek set his laptop carefully down on the coffee table before answering. "He's in his bedroom. He has a migraine."

"What?" Talia was immediately defensive. The only times that Stiles got migraines was when he'd worked himself up so much that he cried himself sick or else had a panic attack. Neither of which was a good thing. She wanted to run right up to her baby boy, but she'd be more likely to get answers from Derek, since he was actually able to talk. Stiles probably wouldn't be, not if he had a migraine.

"What happened?" she asked fiercely. Someone must have upset Stiles to the point of breakdown, and she wanted to know who and why!

Derek looked almost as angry as she felt, so she was fairly sure he hadn't caused Stiles' distress, even before he spoke.

"He tried to ask someone out at school today, and it didn't go well."

Talia frowned. Stiles was too young for dating, but that didn't stop a lot of kids his age. Speaking of which.... "Was it Lydia Martin?" She could see that girl breaking Stiles' heart without even trying. She seemed the type, and Talia would like to say that she couldn't understand Stiles' fascination with her, but she really could. Especially since Stiles had more than once gone into great detail as to the reasons behind his "love" for Lydia Martin. Far more than once. Far, far more.

Derek was shaking his head, though. "No. It was... someone else. They came to apologize, but I didn't let them upstairs. No one got hurt, but Stiles did punch Isaac in the balls. Well, so, I guess someone got hurt, technically, but Isaac deserved it."

Talia couldn't help grinning a little at that last, and Derek actually smirked back, even though it was his friend who'd gotten nut-punched. She had noted Derek's careful use of pronouns and drew the logical conclusion. She wasn't actually surprised, at all, and she knew that Stiles' father wouldn't be either. In fact, she'd have been far more surprised if Stiles hadn't been just as likely to ask a boy out as a girl.

"How is he now?" she asked, because in her experience migraines had stages, especially the way Stiles suffered them. She wanted nothing more than to go up and look in on him, but not if it was going to cause him even more pain.

Derek shrugged. "He was asleep when I came down here. I gave him half a Vicodin out of the bottle left over from when you broke your wrist... I hope that was okay?"

Talia nodded. "If it was just half, that's fine. You probably should have texted me first, but I might not have seen it, so it was a good judgment call. He might be okay to go check on now."

Normally Vicodin ramped Stiles up with excessive energy -- since his ADHD gave him opposite reactions to a lot of drugs -- but if he was drained from crying and dealing with a migraine, then nothing was going to perk him up.

"Should I start dinner while you check on Stiles?" Derek asked.

"Good idea." Talia smiled at her beautiful, loving son as he rose off the sofa. Then a thought occurred to her. "If it was a classmate who turned Stiles down, then why did he punch Isaac?"

Derek shrugged. "Isaac was a dick when Stiles came home, he was rude, and Stiles probably figured his crotch was an easier target than his face or stomach. More on his level, and guaranteed to put Isaac on the floor."

"That's my boy," Talia said, smiling broadly, even though her heart was aching for Stiles. It was never fun being rejected, and he'd dared to ask someone out when he was so young.... Well, Stiles did tend to be precocious, so she wasn't really that surprised.

Derek laughed, which Talia took as another good sign. He was siding with Stiles rather than Isaac, and had done his best to take care of his brother, getting him half a pain pill and presumably doing whatever else he could to ease Stiles' migraine.

"How heartbroken is he, if it wasn't Lydia who turned him down?" she asked, wanting to know what she was headed into. "Were you able to talk to him about it at all?"

Derek shook his head. "He was in too much pain, really. I drove Isaac home, and by the time I got back and went to Stiles' room he'd cried himself out. I got him the half a pill and hung a blanket over his window to try to block out all the light I could. He almost threw the water back up, and he definitely couldn't talk to me. I didn't ask him anything because I knew it would hurt his head more if I did. I just told him to take the pill and try to sleep."

Talia grimaced, but Derek was right. She'd only ever had two migraines in her entire life, but they'd been less fun than anything else, including childbirth, so she definitely had sympathy for Stiles, who was far more prone to getting them.

"I'll see how he's doing. It might just be dinner for the two of us," she said.

"Well, I'll make enough for four," Derek said, shrugging. "And we can save some for Stiles and Dad. Leftovers are better than nothing."

Talia had to come around the sofa and give Derek a hug for that. Her older son was growing into a responsible young man that she was becoming increasingly proud of. She also hugged him because she knew she wouldn't get to hold Stiles once she went upstairs; not with his head hurting so badly any jostling would make him feel as though his skull was splitting.

"Thank you," she said simply. Then she added, "I'll come down and help you soon. I'm sure that Stiles won't want me hanging around in his room too long."

Derek hugged her back, which was nice because he hadn't always done that in the last few years. "He'll be okay," he told her. "The kid who turned him down is going to apologize at school, they said. And if they don't, I'm going to make them."

Talia smiled, but felt compelled to chide, "No violence, Derek."

"I know, Mom," he said, rolling his eyes. "I'm not beating up on an eighth grader."

Talia smiled, heading upstairs. Not that she'd been in any doubt before, but now she was even more convinced that Stiles had asked a male classmate out on a date. Derek was still carefully avoiding personal pronouns, plus he'd have reacted far more negatively to Talia's warning about violence if it had been a girl who'd rejected Stiles.

She was fine with it, that Stiles had asked a boy out. It would have been ridiculous to feel otherwise. She was just unhappy that this boy had evidently turned Stiles down and her son had been upset enough to cry himself into a migraine.

Well, Stiles never did anything by halves. She just hoped that his crush on this unnamed eighth grader wasn't as intense as his crush on Lydia Martin. She didn't know if the family could handle a second Lydia Martin.

Stiles was only thirteen right now. He would get more emotional as he went made his way further into puberty. Would they be able to deal with how fixated he was going to get on each person he got a crush on?

But they would all of them cross that bridge when they came to it. In the meantime, she had a baby boy who was in pain in his darkened bedroom, and she just really hoped that her checking on him wasn't going to make him feel worse.

She couldn't not, though. Stiles was her son as much as Derek was, and she was going to make sure he was okay. Then maybe she would discuss the boy who had broken Stiles' heart with Derek while they made dinner.

And hopefully she would be able to talk his father out of going after this kid with his gun on display. Because she was pretty sure that Derek had already put the fear of God into him when he'd shown up here, before Derek had run him off. The last thing Stiles needed at school was a reputation for having his Sheriff father fighting his battles for him.

Still, Talia was glad and beyond glad that Derek was willing to look out for his brother. It made her think that they really were acting like brothers now. And even though she was upset for Stiles, that thought made her heart feel full of love for them both.

She loved her boys and she wanted them to love each other. That was all she had ever wanted for them.

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