Title: Staring into the sun
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Pairing(s), Character(s): Stiles Stilinski/Derek Hale, Allison Argent/Scott McCall, Vernon Boyd/Erica Reyes, Alan Deaton, Peter Hale, Bobby Finstock, Lydia Martin, Isaac Lahey, Jackson Whittemore, Danny Mahealani, Laura Hale, "Hit-Girl" Mindy Macready, Sergeant Greg Parker, mentions of others
Rating: Teen and Up?
Summary: X-Men like AU
Our protagonists are attending Beacon Hills Academy, an institution for 'specials'. They've been detected early on, and some of them are showing spectacular abilities already. The Hales are a genetic mystery all together. Stiles, however, despite having being singled out as a kid, is nothing special. And he knows it.
Circumstances and people – read Peter – conspire to put Stiles and Derek together. Changes ensue.
Then all hell breaks loose.
There are two characters guest staring from other fandoms. One from KickAss, one from Flashpoint. You do not need to have seen the movie or tv show to understand this fic, and it does not contain spoilers for either of them.
Spoilers for Teen Wolf are very few, since it's an AU. Mostly characters from S2 and relationships.
Spoilers/Warnings: There are two characters guest staring from other fandoms. One from KickAss, one from Flashpoint. You do not need to have seen the movie or tv show to understand this fic, and it does not contain spoilers for either of them.
Spoilers for Teen Wolf are very few, since it's an AU. Mostly characters from S2 and relationships.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. I'm just playing. I'll give them back. Maybe. If and when I'm done.
“Allison told Lydia says you'll probably end up Valedictorian.” Scott says, swatting the ball with his paddle and sending it back towards Stiles.
“Isn't it a little early to call it?” Stiles runs to the other end of the table and smacks the ball back towards his best friend. “Like a year early?”
“It's either you or her, anyway. Everybody knows that.”
“Uh huh.” Stiles bites his lip, backhands the ball artfully and Scott fails to catch it. He whoops a little and watches Scott super-speed the short distance to retrieve it.
“I think Derek won't be far behind. And Boyd.”
Stiles ignores the tightness in his throat. “Really?”
“I dunno. Apparently lonely broody types are into studies.”
“And then Allison.” Scott glows with pride, like he's announcing his girlfriend's been shortlisted to win the Nobel Prize.
“What about you?” Stiles asks, focusing as Scott serves.
There's a silence, Scott flips the racket in his hands a few times and eventually plays. “I'm failing three classes.”
The ball whizzes by Stiles, who's too busy staring at Scott in disbelief. “Are you serious?!”
If Stiles had any doubts Deaton had ratted him out to Old Hale, he doesn't have any anymore. Which, okay, it's fair, Peter's been Stiles' biggest advocate, but still... Confidence!
Professor Hale is pairing his students in teams of two students to work on essays for 'History of superhuman abilities'. For this class, Peter sometimes retold events in History that read completely different when you knew there were specials involved – like say.... Hitler's Wehrmacht base camp called 'Werewolf' in Vinnitsa, Urkraine, where Nazi researchers tried to earnest DNA properties of Derek's great uncle. Sometimes, Peter told them how specials masqueraded as normal people throughout the ages and the societies they founded, some more discreet than others. The Illuminati, really? The guise of a cult to science of all things, when they were pure science fiction?
Lately, they broached the subject of some specials, on their own or in groups, that started thinking they're better than regular humans. Peter doesn't really condemn the idea that they were 'superior' itself, but he did give a clear speech about how it gives them the duty to be superheroes, and does not make them rulers by birthright or godlike creatures.
Stiles isn't sure all specials are better. They're just special. He couldn't really find how Greenberg's power makes him superior. Or how Nancy's life is more awesome than a regular human's because every time she sneezes, everything around her made of glass or porcelain or very rigid plastic shatters.
The smile Peter gives Stiles when he announces he's going to be pairing the students himself makes his blood run cold. It's not his usual 'you look like a snack' look. This time it makes Stiles feel like a fly who's just realized it's standing in the middle of a web. And that the spider is a wolf.
Yeah, okay. His metaphor sucks, but the feeling still applies.
“Stiles, I would like you and Derek to work on the subject 'Hiding one's self and the effect it has on control'.”
Stiles gapes at Peter, scandalized that he would pick such a transparent subject for their essay.
Why?! Why does the universe has to do that to him? Why does Peter have to be such a cruel active participant. That enjoys it.
Peter gives him an encouraging smile, with just an edge of smugness. Most people in the class are watching them. The staring contest between Peter and the two students seems loaded. Because it is, and it involves Derek too, who's clearly having a silent conversation with his uncle of his own.
Eventually, Derek turns in his seat and catches Stiles' eye. They look at each other, quizzical. Stiles thinks Derek doesn't look like it's the worst day of his life, so maybe... maybe he's okay with that? A little? He looks pissed. But when doesn't he look pissed?
Stiles gives the faintest nod and huffs, looking down at his hands. Peter calls out the other parings. -My, my, what was that all about?-
Stiles can't help himself, he whips around and glares at Lydia. She looks smug and amused. Jackson glares daggers at Stiles.
Great. Just... perfect.
When he looks back, Derek is staring at him like he's a puzzle. He looks like someone who's got an answer on the tip of his tongue.
Stiles whimpers and lets his head drop on his arms.
“Dude, are you okay?” Scott's voice hisses quietly from his right.
Stiles can't help it. He laughs.
Allison is having a staring contest with the kettle. She's absently tapping her nails on the counter as she waits for the water to heat up.
“I though this was broken.” Stiles says from the door.
“Oh, Jesus!” Her hand flies to her chest and she whips around.
He gives her a contrite smile. “Sorry.”
“Hi. Uh, yeah. It is.” She glances back at the kettle, which starts to emit the hissing of heating water again.
Stiles adds two plus two and gets, “You're powering it?”
“No. Well, I could, but that's not what I'm doing.” She gestures towards the object. “The chip that's supposed to tell it to heat up when it's 'on' is not responding. So I'm sending the 'go' instead. Practicing, you know. No contact influence.”
“Oh. Right. Nice job.” She can do things without touching already? Damn.
Allison gives him dimpled smile. “Hey, you want some tea while I'm at it?”
He grins back. “Sure.”
-Allison totally loves you.- Lydia insists. -You're like a side dish of awesome next to her precious boyfriend. Of course she loves you.-
Stiles turns over the cooling mug in his hands. He's sitting on top of his covers, back against the headboard and legs crossed at the ankles. He's not sure about love, but maybe Deaton was right. She might like him for him a little bit. Maybe if he learned to open his eyes he would see he's not as alone in the world as he feels.
And here he was, thinking that was everyone else's problem but his.
-Fine. I'm awesome. Great. I'm the quirky gay bff to the cute couple. That's great! We all know how those story lines go. Nothing interesting ever happens to the sidekick.-
-I thought you were bi.-
He huffs. -Semantics. I'm a virgin, that's what I am. The hopeless kind.-
-Why do you hide me?- He cuts her. -You and me. Why do you hide it?-
There's a beat. -Why do you hide your powers?-
So she did bust him. She's been able to read surface thoughts while touching people so far, but it's not like she ever touches him. No, Lydia Martin likes to play frivolous, but is in fact the most astute and intuitive person Stiles' ever met.
-Why do you hide yours?- He challenges back quietly.
-I don't.- She sounds confused.
It irritates him a great deal. He feels like a dirty little secret. Which probably isn't fun when you actually are one, but right now, he's just a secret. A lame one. And it suddenly hurts not to be good enough to talk to in public. He usually manages to rise above everything and not give a shit, but he's tired and old Hale's assignment has made him emotionally raw. It puts more venom into his reply than there should be. -Really? So Jackson and everybody know you can make people talk back at you? Huh? And that the person you chose to do it with is me?-
Lydia doesn't say anything after that. He can feel it at the back of his mind. The connection that would allow him to reach her stays active for a few minutes, like she's hoping he'll add something or apologize or... something, but he doesn't and eventually it fades out.
He has trouble not feeling like she hung up on him.
Stiles flips another page on the book and wonders if it's too late to seek out the others and join the party after all. He has no interest in being a drunken disorderly or partying with people that have made their contempt for him pretty clear, but Scott, Allison and Erica tried to get him to come, so if they're not already dead to the world, maybe-...
“I had a feeling I'd find you here.”
Stiles' pencil doesn't snap in his hand like he's a rom-com hero, but it's a near thing. “Derek? What are you doing here? Aren't you-...?” Stiles gestures vaguely in the direction of the outside.
“Getting smashed with a bunch of rowdy teenagers?” Derek makes a face. Of course, he's a loner. Stiles shouldn't be so surprised. “I think you get too old to attend that kind of party when you're too old to need a fake ID.”
“Oh.” Stiles blinks. “Right.”
“We're not the only ones here.” Derek shifts his old on his backpack strap and Stiles takes him in. He looks like he came here planning to do homework. “Mindy's out behind the gym doing target practice.” Derek's expression is troubled. “Did you know she puts pictures of Finstock on the mannequins she beheads?”
Stiles reels – Not form the news. He didn't know, but he can't say he's actually shocked –, Derek Hale is talking. Like.... making sentences. While not held at gunpoint. It's gotta be a first. Also, said sentences are directed at him.
“Can I join you?” Holy shit.
Stiles suddenly realizes that Derek's been standing awkwardly next to the chair beside him, waiting to be invited. “Uhh...”
“You look like you're working on the essay.” Derek points out, eyes pointedly trailing over the few books scattered around Stiles' things. All about control and the psychology of dissimulation. Right.
He'd hoped to get the maximum of it done on his own, so he could offer Derek to just put his name on the report and share the credit, but apparently the universe hates him.
“Yeah. Okay. Sure.” He tries not to panic as Derek settles next to him. It feels weirdly intimate and exposed. The library is huge, and is never fully occupied, but right now, it's empty safe for the two of them. The two of them sitting side by side seems so deliberate, it's... unnatural. Nobody willingly joins Stiles, except for Scott, but Scott's like Stiles' brother. That's different.
He tries to get his heartbeat under control because he's pretty sure Peter can hear it when they're in class and he feels like he's being toyed with, so Derek can probably pick up on it too.
Derek doesn't seem to be paying attention, though. He's staring ahead and has an expression like he's steeling himself for something. He takes a deep breath and turns a little towards Stiles, but he doesn't meet his eyes.
“Peter-... My uncle is trying to get me to-...” Derek frowns, scratches at his eyebrow and licks his lips. That doesn't distract Stiles at all. “... I've been struggling with control. I try to keep that hidden. I think the, ah, essay is a set up. He thinks I should open up about it. To someone that's not... one of us.”
It stings. “Not special?”
“Not a Hale.”
“I don't know why he's decided it should be you, but... he said if it doesn't show in what we hand out in the end, he'll fail me.”
Stiles does a double take. “Your uncle is blackmailing you?” So the essay is not about him?
“Wow. And here I was, thinking not telling my dad about my school was dysfunctional.”
Derek makes an amused noise, his lips curling a little.
Stiles isn't sure how it happens. After a few moments of stammering and frustrated struggles for words, they forgot to be awkward around the other. Stiles talked about some of the passages he'd highlighted so far and how they could relate to their essay. They managed to work out an outline of the parts and ideas they want to put in.
Stiles uncrosses his legs and works his spine, hand coming down to scratch at his stomach through his t shirt absently.
Derek ducks an eyebrow at him. “You know you're utterly ridiculous, right?” Stiles stops ratting of points on his fingers to glare at Derek and finds that he's looking at him upside down. “You look like a big cat. No wonder Erica likes you.”
Right. Because Stiles is lying on the table, perpendicular to Derek and he has to tilt his head back to actually look at him – which was kind of the point, at first, because he kept being distracted by the way his hair seems to be really soft behind his ear.
So what? He's bored. And it's after hours. The only thing managing to have him work uninterrupted this long is Derek, because he just wants this to never end. Even though he's the one talking, Derek is listening. And he hasn't glared once. “Shut up.” he says, like the grown up he is, and flushes.
Derek shakes his head and grins a little. Shit. Stiles wishes he was right side up now because that's not a sight you see everyday.
-You should have cooooome. This is fun. Do you even know fun?- Lydia's drunken voice rings through his head louder than necessary and makes him wince, effectively breaking the spell.
Stiles groans and rolls off to a sitting position, then climbs down to straddle his chair.
“Lydia talking to you?” Derek asks flatly.
Stiles' mind screeches to a halt. Reboots. “Wait... How do you know that?”
“You weren't exactly subtle the other day in class.”
“Right.” Stiles ducks his head and feels himself color again. He doesn't know if he can block Lydia out, he doubts he can, but he can ignore her. Play asleep. He what magical being intervened, but he's actually having a good time. And he's not ditching his best friend for Derek because a) Scott's his best friend – because even though he's grown pretty close and intimate with Lydia, Scott is fine with being seen in public with him – and b) Lydia ditches him for Jackson all the damn time. And c) he's not ditching her for Derek. He's ditching her for homework.
He checks, and no. His pants aren't actually on fire. Hm.
Neither he and Derek are fully at ease around each other, but his classmate's presence is making figuring out the essay a little less dull.
“So I should- I should tell you, right?” Derek is frowning at his hands.
Stiles thinks there should be an entire essay on Derek's eyebrows and their various meanings alone. He blinks.
“About why I... Why I won't...”
“Oh. Your control issues?” Stiles blurts out. It's a bad phrasing. Considering next in line was 'performance in front of an audience', he feels lucky calling Derek a control freak in subtext is all he did.
Derek makes a face like he's tasted something sour. “It's not... control, exactly. I have control.” He struggles for words. “It's more of a blockage. I can't bring myself to... to shift in front of people. Not completely.”
“Okay.” Stiles says seriously. “You don't have to tell me why. But I feel like there is a why. And that it's pretty damn important.”
Stiles' eyes get caught on the way Derek's throat works convulsively a few times. Then Derek suddenly springs off his chair and stalks off.
Stiles gapes after him, trying to figure out what just happened. He ponders calling after him to let him know he forgot his stuff, and wonders whether that would earn him physical pain.
He waits, but Derek doesn't come back. He stands up for a moment, then turns his chair back the normal way and sits back down, confused as hell. Should he have gone after him? Isn't that what people do when someone's talking about issues and suddenly runs off?
He's left too much time to even have a chance to pin down which way Derek went, so it's too late to try that now. He stares blankly at his notes for a while, then decides on thirty more minutes of work, and then bed.
He doesn't expect Derek to walk back in merely five minutes after he's stormed out. Stiles startles stiffly when he drops a heavy leather bound yearbook on the table. It's open to a class photo a few years old. Derek pokes his finger at a pretty brunette. “Remember her? My sister.”
“Laura. Yeah. I do.” Vaguely, because she must be six or seven years older than he is, but he remembers growing up and looking at the big kids, wondering what kind of ability he'd develop. If he was going to fly like that guy, or walk through walls like this one.
It's odd to realize Derek and Laura never had that. They knew what they would become from the moment they could understand was being special meant.
“She was one of the most gorgeous girl I've ever seen.” Derek says, and Stiles gets a bitter taste in his mouth at the tense.
He's pretty sure Derek's eyes aren't usually that blue, either. The anger is looming close to the surface. Derek pulls out his wallet and with a flick of his wrist, one of those wallet-sized photo album flips open. On one side there's a very young looking Derek laughing, leaning back in his sister's arms while she ruffles his hair. On the other, there's a picture of their parents and Peter. The parents are wearing Squadron uniforms and Peter is wearing a tuxedo, they're holding champagne flutes and toasting at the camera. Stiles never thought Derek to be a romantic.
In the middle, like a centerpiece, there's a black and white picture of him and Laura. It's almost artful. They're standing in front of a decrepit wall, the two of them huddle in the middle of all the negative space. Derek is barely looking at the camera, looking sullen and every bit like he does nowadays – like a coil spring ready to snap. Laura has her arm around his neck and is looking encouragingly at him, a small sad smile on her face. The way her head is turned displays the full extent of the damage to her face. Her left eye is whitened, and long gashes bar the side of her face, from the forehead and temple to her mouth. And below, you can see her shoulder was hit, too.
“I. Did that.” Derek spits out with all the self hatred it can possibly contain. “I lost control and I did that. To my own sister.”
Stiles' hand reaches out without his permission and hovers over Laura's face. An instant before he actually touches the plastic wrapping, Derek jerks his wallet back and Stiles snatches his hand away in apprehension. “I thought... I thought you guys healed.”
“She did.” Derek says quietly. “She was.” His hands are as shaky as Stiles' when he folds the album back carefully. “Believe me, it looked way worse before. Apparently,” he says, “the damage done by one of us takes more time to heal.”
There's a moment of silence and Stiles reels with what he just learned. He feels horrible for Derek. He can't imagine the guilt he must live with every day. He can't fathom what to say, or whether he should say anything at all.
“I was sixteen.” Derek says, voice thin. “I was mad about something. When you're... when you're completely shifted, your emotions are... heightened. Much like your senses. So I was... enraged. And she was being a big sister. I didn't hear her coming and I lashed out. I didn't even know I was doing it, I-... it was pure reflexes. I attacked my own sister. It took her eight months to heal.”
Stiles bites his lip, staring at the table. He's trying not to do something stupid like get teary or hug Derek. “Why do you still have that picture, then? I mean, why this one.” He manages to look at Derek to ask.
“Because that's what I see, every time I look at her. That's what I did. I don't deserve to...”
“To what? To not see it? To be forgiven?”
Derek tries to hold in a growl and looks even angrier when he snaps the pen he had in his hand. A hand that now has claws. His eyes gleam a brighter blue when he looks away and takes a deep breath and holds it.
Stiles has never seen Derek lose control of himself like this, never. And he's seen the guy angry. He's even seen him in combat situation. If anything, it cements the moment as a mother freaking bid deal in Stiles' mind.
Eventually, the older boy sighs and turns back towards him. “I lost control that day. And I lost my sister. We were... She was... everything I had.”
Stiles tries to imagine how he would feel if he'd done that to his father. “You mean she's angry with you?”
“No.” Derek shakes his head. “Sometimes I'm mad at her for not being mad at me.”
“Oh. Then what-...?”
Derek's glare snaps to Stiles. “Some people can't look in the mirror, okay? I can't meet my sister's eye.”
As Derek and him are walking back to the dorms together, Stiles tries to think of how to say goodbye. Is there an etiquette to 'We barely know each other. You hate the entire world and I'm in it. But you kind of opened up to me tonight. Even though it was under duress. And I feel for you. Also, I may have wet dreams about you form time to time – at night, mostly. So, bye?' ?
He shouldn't have worried, because Derek takes care of that. One second Stiles is walking and about to say something, and the next he's being slammed against a classroom door. “If you say one word-...”
“I'm not gonna tell anyone!” Stiles squeaks in protest. He would be offended, but it'll come after he's done expecting to be punched. “Derek, I wouldn't-...”
Different things Stiles can't read flicker in quick succession in Derek's eyes. His fist lets him go as quickly as it grabbed him. “I know. I'm sorry-...” Derek blinks several times, frown deep and unsettled. Then he turns on his heels and walks off.
Stiles takes a moment to appreciate the fact that he is not, in fact, hurting anywhere. He flattens his hands on the wood against his back and breathes. What an evening. Jesus. “And here I thought I was socially handicapped.”
He knows Derek heard him when he hears the snort down the hall. He pushes off the wall and heads to his room, trying not to think about... Trying not to think. Period.