Title: True Nature’s Child
Author: Claire Watson
Word Count: 3,062
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Relationship(s): Derek/Stiles future
Characters: Stiles, Steve (OC), Carlos (OC), Tom (OC), Jasper (OC), Brian (OC), Kyle (OC), Lamont (OC), Marcelo (OC)
Genre: Fix-it, Growing Up
Content Rating: Gen
Warnings: None at present
Authors Note: At the end of S2, Erica and Boyd went back to Derek. Jackson wasn’t shipped off, and he and Lydia are trying to make things work with the pack. Isaac is still hanging out with Scott (because he has a crush the size of Greenland) and Peter is hanging around too. Chris has taken Allison to France to ‘get her head on straight’ and Stiles, finding himself at something of a loose end and newly eighteen, takes a summer job one town over.
One thing that running with werewolves had done for Stiles was increase his stamina and general fitness level. If not, then it was entirely possible that this summer job would have achieved what crazed alphas, murder lizards, newly turned best friends, and psychotic hunters hadn’t managed to.
When he’d applied for the job, Steve, the manager, took one look at him and shook his head. “Look, kid,” he’d said gruffly, between drags of one of the strongest smelling cigarettes Stiles had ever smelt, “this isn’t as simple as carting groceries around. We’re working long hours in the heat, and a lot of the stuff we’re moving is easily damaged. Maybe you should be looking for work that’s a little more suited to your—” he gestured at Stiles with the hand holding the cigarette, “—build.”
Stiles raised his eyebrows. “Look, old man, I may not be built like a brick-shithouse like some of the roiders you’ve got working for you, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do the job that you’re advertising. Why don’t you at least give me a trial period before dismissing me?”
Steve laughed. “Well, you’ve got balls at least. Alright then, how about two weeks? I’ll rustle up a temporary contract. If you can go two weeks without breaking anything and you still want the job, it’s yours.”
It didn’t take Stiles two weeks to reach the conclusion that this job was one of the torments of hell, thinly disguised as employment. He figured that out before the end of his first day. Unfortunately, his stubborn desire to prove to Steve that he could do it won out over his desire to quit. Spite had always been one of Stiles best motivators.
That first week had been awful. The work left him hungry and aching and more than a little sunburnt, no matter how much sunscreen he applied. He had bruises on his bruises from knocking various limbs into furniture and doorways and it was only luck and a couple of lucky saves that had stopped the ‘breakage’ clause in his temporary contract to go into effect.
Then there were his co-workers.
Perhaps calling them roiders when one of them was in earshot hadn’t been his smartest move.
At first they stood over him, tried to intimidate him with their superior weight and musculature. Stiles had spent far too much time with Derek for that sort of thing to have any effect on him.
Then they tried the silent treatment, but that didn’t work either. Stiles was only too happy to fill any available silence with stories about the tamer side of life at Beacon Hills High.
After that, Stiles could only conclude that they’d decided to try and work him to death. On the third day they went from eight hour days to twelve hour days with no warning. It wasn’t because the customers were asking for it, not if some of the reactions they got when they arrived at the ass-crack of morning were any indication.
Stiles stuck it out with the kind of dogged perseverance that had allowed him to hold Derek’s paralysed self afloat for over two hours.
He arrived at work on the second Monday having come to the realisation that he couldn’t keep this up. He hated it, but was going to have to concede defeat and quit. He arrived in time to witness the end of an epic chewing out that the others were getting from Steve.
“—told me that she’d make gravy from my nutsack if I didn’t start treating you better!”
“Hell, Steve, we were just—”
“I don’t care what you just! This stops now! He is eighteen years old, Carlos, eighteen! He, at least, has some excuse for acting like a dickhead! The lot of you are going to sit down and talk this out like fucking adults, or so help me I’m going to fire the lot of you and retire! I am far too old for this shit!” Steve turned and caught sight of Stiles. “And you! For fucks sake, kid, if they pull juvenile locker-room shit like this again, tell me!” He stomped into his office, slamming the door behind him. The walls were thin enough that they were treated to a further muffled diatribe, although thankfully Stiles couldn’t make out the words.
Stiles was left staring at seven shame-faced men—all of them the kind off buff usually found in fireman calendars—standing and looking at the floor like it might do them a favour and open up and swallow them at any minute.
Stiles decided to brazen it out. “Personally, not a fan of nutsack gravy,” he offered. “Especially if Steve’s the contributor, not when you consider the number of cigarettes he goes through in a day. You can make a nice purse out of a nutsack though.” He thought about the implications of what he’d just said and decided further clarification was probably necessary. “Or so a female friend of mine once told me.”
“What’s this obsession they got with maiming our testicles?” Kyle asked, relaxing a bit.
Stiles shrugged. “I imagine they’re thinking they should keep the cock intact, you know, in case they want to use it later on. Which means that love-nuts are fair game.”
“Makes sense to me,” Brian said, nudging Jose. “Gotta keep the important bits working.”
Jose rolled his eyes. “Come and help me get this stuff set up. Might as well break out the cards, since we’ve got the day free.”
Jasper and Brian pulled a rather flimsy looking fold-up chair and table set out of one of the cupboards lining the back wall.
Stiles approached. “We do? What happened to today’s line-up?”
Ryan cleared his throat. “We’re actually a little ahead of where we should have been.”
“Hell yeah,” Carlos said, wandering over to the tiny kitchenette area. There was a short bench, a battered old microwave, and a decent sized fridge stocked with non-alcoholic beverages. Carlos reached into the fridge and pulled out an iced tea, the kind that was so sugary it was almost like drinking syrup. Stiles wrinkled his nose but didn’t say anything. “We’ve been working our tails off trying to prove you wrong. I’ve been arriving home too tired to do anything but eat and sleep. My wife thought that it was Steve’s fault, which is why…” he gestured towards Steve’s office.
Stiles ran his hand over his hair. He wasn’t used to it being quite this long, but he hadn’t had time to buzz it. “Wrong about what?”
“That we’re not just muscle-head jocks.”
Stiles turned that over in his head. “Let me get this straight…in order to prove that you’re not muscle-head jocks, you…tried to show how superior you were by lifting and carrying heavy items to the point of exhaustion?”
“I told you it was a stupid plan!” Tom said to Kyle, throwing up his hands. “But nooooo. We gotta do something, you said. It’s six to one, suck it up, you said.”
“Was this ’cause I called you roiders?” They all reacted to that. Stiles hung his head slightly. “Sorry, that was majorly shardy. There’s a reason I’ve never had a lot of friends. If it’s any consolation, it wasn’t even about you. It was more a pre-emptive hit for all the twink comments I was expecting.”
“Nah,” Tom said after a moment. “You’re too tall to be a twink. You’re pretty broad across the shoulders too.”
Stiles laughed. “Yeah, Rosetta said I ruined her favourite boob-tube.”
Tom’s eyebrows lifted. “You know the ladies? Wait, Rosetta let you borrow her clothes?”
Stiles shrugged. “They gave me a make-over, and Rosetta brought me along to Baby-Gay Karaoke as her candidate. It was fun.”
Tom’s jaw dropped. “You’re ‘The Hoodie With The Woody?’”
Carlos mouthed ‘The Hoodie With The Woody.’
Stiles flushed. “I was drunk! Rosetta laughed so hard her eyelashes fell off and insisted I had to keep it.”
“Thank fuck for that,” Ryan muttered.
Tom rolled his eyes. “Ignore old grumpy here. The name was a bit…unusual, but the performance was great. We were all sad when she said that you had other things you needed to be doing.” He folded his arms and looked stern. “I imagine school was one of those things. Does Rosetta know that you’re only eighteen?”
Stiles winced. “Yeah, well, she may have discovered that little tidbit.”
“I met her once,” Brian said thoughtfully, taking a seat. “That was one Queen you didn’t want to piss off.”
Jasper sat beside him, already shuffling cards. “If we gotta talk about our feelings, I’m gonna insist that we play poker.”
“He cheats,” Ryan said, glowering at Jasper.
“Someone’s a sore loser,” Jasper returned, not appearing bothered in the slightest. “Carlos, bring me a water!”
That was how Stiles found himself playing poker with the workmates that he would have sworn hated his guts.
Turned out that Stiles was pretty good at poker. He was a good observer, and he had a knack of interpreting tells. He was shit at counting cards though, and so Jasper still won handily.
“Coming second in your first time out of the gate against Jasper and Brian isn’t bad,” Carlos said with an appraising look. “You play poker often?”
“Nah, kids these days mostly play computer games,” Stiles replied, ducking the half-hearted swipe that Carlos aimed in his direction.
After that Stiles began to enjoy himself. As the youngest by over half a decade, he found himself in a position sort of like a mascot. Being petted and adored was still a new experience for him—Rosetta Stone and her posse notwithstanding—and he lapped it up with enthusiasm.
He was invited around to a Friday barbeque at Brian and Jasper’s; Carlos took him home to meet his wife, Saoirse. Tom took him to The Dark Room, a gay club tucked away in Starr Drive in Yuba city. He made sure Stiles didn’t imbibe any alcohol, but otherwise let him run wild.
He hadn’t seen Scott in nearly a month, but then Scott had been spending all his free time with Isaac, since Allison had been taken away by her father to ‘decompress’. After getting the full story about what had happened on that eventful Saturday, Stiles was only too happy that she was gone. He kind of wished that she’d stay gone.
It was inevitable that one of the guys would finally crack and ask about the bruises he’d been wearing when he started work.
Stiles didn’t want to lie—he was going through enough of that with his dad—but he obviously couldn’t tell them about werewolves and kanimas and murder families. In the end he just gave them a vague tale about his mouth getting him into trouble.
It was a pity, because the guys that he was working with all seemed like decent, reasonable human beings, and he could do with a sounding board to get some of the stuff that had happened recently off his chest.
Then he had a brain wave. What if he presented it like a book series he was thinking of writing? And come to think about it, to make that lie not even a lie, he could actually do that. Document all the weird happenings since Scott was bitten in a novel, like fiction. Change a few names around for plausible deniability…hey, it wasn’t like he’d been gifted with anything other than scars in this new life, he might as well get some benefit from it.
With that in mind, he got to work jotting down the outline of a story; the story of how Nathan was made into a vampire and then had to cope with everything his new existence threw at him. He gave Nathan a best friend called Bridget—which was what his mother had told him he would have been called if he’d been a girl—and tweaked standard vampire mythology so that vampires only needed blood on the full moon and had no fear of the sun and then made a list of plot points that he wanted to include.
It took Stiles most of the day to work up his courage and broached the subject with Tom while they were on their way to the last job of the day. “You can’t tell anyone about it,” he warned. “Not even the other guys, unless I ask for their input. You in?”
Tom responded with enthusiasm. “I’d be thrilled to help you work out characterisation and plot! So what genre is it, and what kind of audience is it going to be aimed at?”
Stiles hadn’t actually considered a possible audience. “Young adults, I suppose,” he said uncertainly.
“Putting a rating on it can wait until later,” Tom said, waving his hand. “Hit me with it. How does it start?”
Stiles had decided to start the story at the moment when everything changed, when Scott—or rather, Nathan—had been bitten. He wanted to change the asthma to something else in order to add another layer of obfuscation, but was having trouble coming up with something that fit his criteria and so just went with asthma.
“Wait a minute,” Tom said after Stiles had only been talking a few minutes. “So you have two idiot kids running around in the woods at night. Woods that they know a killer—who has yet to be caught—has used at least once as a dumping ground. And one of them is caught and neither of them think it’s a bad idea for the other one, who by the way has a possible life-threatening illness, to stay out there on their own? In the night; in the woods a killer has recently been in?”
“They’re teenagers!” Stiles said, rubbing the back of his neck guiltily. The idea that Scott might have had a fatal asthma attack while on his own in the dark woods hadn’t presented itself to him at the time. In his defence, his life was very quickly over-taken by werewolves at that point and his mind had been elsewhere, but in hindsight that moment was a bit of a friend-fail, even if, in the moment, he’d been more concerned about whether Scott would get into trouble.
“Pretty stupid teenagers,” Tom said disapprovingly. “Still, I suppose we’re all allowed a few moments of idiocy in our lives, so long as we learn from them.”
“Hah hah, right,” Stiles agreed awkwardly.
“What happened next?”
Stiles walked Tom through the next bit, intending to lead up to the ‘you’re a vampire, Nathan!’ moment, along with the way that Nathan preferred to pretend nothing was different. He introduced Derek as Douglas, having gone on a ‘meaning of names’ internet spiral and liking the juxtaposition of the glossy sounding ‘Derek’ to the much more prosaic ‘Douglas’. He went to detail how Nathan started noticing enhanced senses and superior athletic skill, how he listened in on a pretty girl’s conversation and used the information he gained to get her to notice him.
“Wait,” Tom interrupted. “He just gives her the pen? Doesn’t even wait for her to ask anyone?”
“That is incredibly creepy behaviour and it makes it look like he’s stalking her,” Tom pointed out. “Are you trying for a Twilight vibe?”
That was something else that had not occurred to Stiles. “Shit.”
“The vampire thing is really what makes it stick out,” Tom suggested. “Maybe the similarities wouldn’t be as obvious if you chose a different supernatural creature; werewolves would probably be a good choice.”
Stiles broke into semi-hysterical laughter. Maybe this wasn’t going to work after all.
Tom slowed the truck down and pulled into a long, tree-lined driveway. “We’re going to have to pick this up again later, but I’m interested to hear where you’re going with this.”
The house was already packed up, and it only took Stiles and Tom an hour to get everything properly loaded and cushioned. As soon as they were back on the road, Tom asked Stiles to continue. The delay had given Stiles enough time to decide how to deal with Tom’s very reasonable suggestions.
“I’m not working on this alone,” he said awkwardly. “The Nathan part is being written by a friend of mine, and I’m writing the Bridget part.”
Tom nodded slowly. “You mean that it’s a collaboration between you?”
“Yes?” Stiles replied. “Only, it’s more his story than mine. The thing is that there are parts of it that I’m not sure about, and that’s really what I want your opinion on.”
“You should really be talking to him about it.”
Stiles sighed. “I know, but it’s hard. He’s very certain that he’s right and he’s already…deeply invested in the way things are at present.”
Tom was quiet for a few minutes as he mulled that over. “Does your friend know that you’re asking me for my input?”
Stiles twitched guiltily. “No, and he wouldn’t like it if he did. But there are some issues I’m having with one of the later storylines and I’m not sure if the problems I’m having are because of the attachment I’ve got to Bridget, or if they’re reasonable. That’s the part I really wanted to talk over with someone.”
“There’s a silent ‘but’ in there,” Tom noted.
“But it feels like a betrayal,” Stiles admitted. “I’m not even sure what I’ll do if you confirm my doubts.”
Tom sent him a sympathetic glance. “Sometimes we just need to know that we’re not alone, that someone is willing to listen. Tell you what. Come over to mine after work, I’ll fire up the grill and we can talk this over in a bit more detail.”
“Thanks,” Stiles said gratefully. His dad was working the evening shift all this week and he’d been feeling Scott’s absence more and more. It would be good to sit out on Tom’s deck and relax and talk about things. “Do you want me to bring anything?”
“Only if you want to,” Tom replied with a shrug. “I’ve got some venison and Brian gave me a bag full of vegetables that I need to do something with. You any good in the kitchen?”
Stiles made a so-so motion with his hand. “I wouldn’t say I’m good, but all my food is edible at least.”
“It’s a plan.”