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It had been so easy, walking into the wolf's home. All it had taken was a smile and a story of her selfless act of coming to a strange country to care for an ailing relative. A friendless girl alone in a new town, simply attempting to introduce herself to new neighbors and the wolf's mother had welcomed her. Had offered her the hospitality of an honored guest, food and drink and conversation. Telling her everything she might hope to know without even the threat of blood and pain. The wolf had a name. As did the other wolf who lived under this roof with this pure human woman with the dark, friendly eyes and the bright smile. She imagined how the wolf - - Scott was his name - - might react if he came home to find pieces of her scattered about the house.
Badly, she thought. He took the protection of his pack and his prey to heart. She had seen that, repeatedly. Had felt the sting of his claws and teeth as he'd done just that.
But she restrained the urge, sitting at the table in the kitchen, swirling ice in the tea that the woman gave her, coming up with stories that the woman seemed to find pleasing. She had always been good at saying things that people wanted to hear, regardless of truths. A good whore could flatter the ego as well as the body and she had been very good at her job. Just as deftly she eased information from her host, no particularly grueling task, very few mothers being reluctant to talk of their sons. She learned many things before the wolf returned home from the place his mother said he worked, caring for sick animals.
She heard him walking up the drive, scented him before he stepped into the screened back porch and had to restrain the claws that wanted to curl out of her fingers.
She had been afraid that he might recognize her scent if she got too close, and that this game would end before it had started, and she'd been prepared to shed blood, to bring out her beast and drench his home in blood if need be, but he had not. Even when she'd stepped close enough to feel the heat of his skin, to inhale the scent of him when it was not tinged with blood and fear and pain - - he was ignorant of what she truly was. Or if some primal part of him did recognize a hint of familiarity in her, the rational part of him refused to make the connection. The wolf in him no match for the male that couldn't get past the awareness of the female in her. Stupid, like most of his sex, when it came to the simple allure of sex. But he smelled good, and he was pretty to look at and his bumbling grasp for coherent words was amusing.
She'd leaned against the table, staring at him, while his mother asked some meaningless question about registering for school. She imagined raking her claws down his bare skin. Drawing blood and licking it up before the wounds could close. She imagined doing other things to him, dark and carnal, and ran the tip of her tongue along the edge of her upper lip in appreciation. His eyes followed the movement, until he tore them away, his pulse pounding beneath the thin layer of his skin. He made some faltering excuse of washing up before supper, before he snatched his backpack and fled, leaving her alone with his mother.
Stupid wolf, to leave another predator among his prey. But a lucky one, because now that she'd stood in a room with him, seen how easy he was to engage, she wanted the game all the more. If she spilled the blood of his prey and his pack too soon, he'd realize the game for what it was, and she preferred him ignorant of the chase until it was too late to elude her.
"So how sore are you this morning?" Scott caught up with Stiles on the sidewalk between parking lot and school.
Pretty damn was the factual answer, but another long, hot shower this morning and a huge dollop of Icy/Hot slathered on before he'd left home, along with a handful of painkillers had lessoned the overall ache. So he just shrugged and manned up with a casual. "I'm fantastic. You'd barely know there's a bruise the size of Africa decorating my back."
Scott gave him a dubious look, but didn't call him on that wry denial. Hoping maybe that Stiles wouldn't call him on the inevitable 'I'm okay,' that was bound to escape his lips the moment Stiles tried to pin him down on the state of his own mental health.
"You smell like menthol," Scott remarked, wrinkling his all too perceptive nose.
"Yeah, well, that's because I've got it smeared all over my back. Get used to it. It's my new best friend. What?" He finally asked, because Scott was sort of bouncing a little with the containment of something that obviously wanted to burst out to see the light of day.
They hit Stiles' locker first and Scott leaned on the adjoining one while Stiles rearranged books from bag to locker.
"I met a girl last night."
"Yeah? At the vet's?" Stiles paused, casting him a glance.
"No. At my house."
Stiles stopped outright and gave him his full appraisal. "What do you mean? What girl?"
"You know Mr. Klutsky from down the street?"
"The old guy who used to scream at us for trespassing if we even walked along the edge of his yard?"
"Yeah, him. She's his niece or grandniece or something, from Poland, and she's come to live with him."
"Sucks for her. From Poland? Like Eastern European Poland, not Poland, Idaho?"
"Is there a Poland Idaho?" Scott looked skeptical.
Stiles slammed his locker shut and lifted a brow. "I'm gonna go out on a limb and make the assumption she didn't have hairy knuckles and a unibrow?"
"Dude, she was gorgeous. Almost like - - scary gorgeous. Is that a thing?"
Stiles considered while they headed for Scott's locker. "You mean like, so hot your junk just sort of shrivels up in intimidation because you know she's so far above your league she's gonna get a nosebleed if she happens to look down on you?"
Scott opened his mouth, then shut it, shaking his head. "Nooo, that definitely didn't happen. But yeah, I guess there was maybe an intimidation factor going on, because stupid, stupid things kept coming out of my mouth."
Stiles grinned. "Oh, my God, are you crushing on the new neighbor girl?"
"No," Scott denied it. "I met her for like ten minutes."
"Yeah, and you were in love with Allison before she even knew your name. You're easy like Sunday morning, baby."
"Fuck off. And what the hell does that even mean?"
"Dude, you need to brush up on your classic tunes."
But Scott had stopped listening and was staring past him, towards the administration office. Stiles turned to see what had his attention, and felt his own jaw sag a little. Hell, half the guys in the hall had turned to stare at the girl that had just come out of the office in the company of Principal Heller himself. And maybe scary gorgeous was a thing after all, because she was the sort of hot that made your mouth go dry and your palms start to itch a little in the hopes of a good long bout of masturbation.
"Holy shit," he whispered. "Its like that movie - - you know the one where the porn star moves in next door and rocks this kid's world . . ."
"She's not a porn star," Scott hissed at him, edging a little further behind him as she happened to glance their direction.
"How do you know?" Stiles countered in side-whisper. "She could be. And Eastern Euro porn is dirty, dirty stuff."
"How would you even know?" Scott was definitely trying to avoid notice, if Stiles was any judge and Stiles liked to think he was.
"I have a computer, dude. And a lack of a sex life - - I know of what I speak. Are you actually trying to hide from the pretty girl?"
Scott rolled his eyes and put his back to the lockers. "No."
Stiles lifted a dubious brow. "Then what are you doing?"
Scott spent a moment actually considering, before he relented and fessed up. "Okay, maybe. Last night, I swear to God, it was almost like she was coming on to me - - without like, actually doing any coming on - -"
Stiles had to turn to gap at him. "And this is what has you freaked out and hiding behind me and a locker? Has this whole traumatic stress thing short circuited your brain?"
"No. It was just - - I dunno - - a little weird."
"You're a little weird."
He got a wry look for that, which he ignored in favor of watching the girl walk off with Heller intent on giving her the personal tour himself. When she was safely gone, the hallway reverted back to its normal pattern of activity, guys able to focus their attention back to whatever it was they'd been doing when she'd disrupted their routines. He leaned his shoulder against a locker while Scott finished shuffling books and decided to change the subject while Scott was more than likely still dutifully treading water through the last one.
"So, you talk to Deaton last night?"
Scott hesitated, hand clenching just a little on the door of the locker, before he slammed it shut and shrugged. "It got busy. I didn't get the chance."
He slung his backpack over one shoulder and headed towards first period with Stiles on his heels.
"Right. Because its no big deal."
Scott made a noncommittal sound and slouched into his seat, pulling out his English lit book in lieu of giving a real answer. Stiles bored holes in the side of his head in a glare of silent annoyance until Lydia slipped into the seat across from him. She gave him a raised brow and a pointed flick of the eyes towards Scott and he shrugged, rolling his eyes at the frustration of having to deal with stubborn people.
She cornered him in the hall after class with a frown and a set of narrowed green eyes.
"You neglected to mention what started that fight yesterday," she accused, so he figured someone had filled her in today on the details of the little hallway altercation. And on the one hand - - good. He wasn't above enacting little petty vengeances, and he hoped she bit Aiden's head off - - or better yet, came to her senses when it came to sexing it up with unstable, uber aggressive werewolf assholes. On the other, damned if he was going to go crying to a girl - - most especially Lydia - - that he'd gotten roughed up by the asshole in question. It was bad enough he had Scott fighting his battles for him. So all in all - -yeah, he was a little conflicted about the whole thing.
"Did I? Yeah, well, that wasn't really a pertinent detail."
"Not a pertinent detail?" He could almost see little tendrils of frustration curl up off of her.
"What did Aiden say?"
"I haven't talked to Aiden, yet," she hissed. "Why would he pick a fight with you? What did you do?"
"Why does everyone assume I did something?" he complained. "Maybe he was just in a shitty mood. Maybe it was his time of the month."
The bell rung and kids started scurrying towards second period. Lydia stabbed a finger against his shoulder and said with a tight smile. "You are not as amusing as you like to think you are, Stiles. Don't think I won't be talking to Aiden."
So lunch turned out to be an interesting affair. Scott who was already on edge, had apparently gotten cornered by Allison on his way to the cafeteria, and honest concern or not, Allison was maybe the last person Scott needed to be talking with in an attempt to hash out his emotional issues. She just added one more snarl to the tangle. Which was pretty clear from the squirrelly look Scott was presently wearing.
So Stiles did what any self-respecting best friend would do and inserted himself between Allison and Scott as they were getting into the lunch line.
"It's cool if I cut in line, right? Right." He slid his trey down on the rail, jostling the two of theirs forward and backwards respectively. Allison frowned, cutting him a look that clearly said 'I was in the middle of something, do you mind?' Because she obviously had no idea about those invisible boundary lines that applied to how much of your ex's private shit you were entitled to wade into, without sending him into a spiral of conflict and confusion.
Stiles shot her a return look that consisted of momentarily narrowed eyes and a set of raised brows that just as plainly enunciated, 'back off, you're not helping.' Scott just reached for a couple of cartons of milk and a peanut butter square and pretended the two of them weren't engaging in silent, semi-hostile telepathy.
Allison finally gave it up, pressing her lips and sighing as she moved down the line. Obviously either Isaac or Lydia had clued her in and she was worried, which Stiles could commiserate with. It was just that after the talk last night in the Jeep, Stiles was getting the feeling that if Scott got pushed too hard, from too many directions, he was just going to cut and run and that wasn't going to help anybody.
Lydia was already at the table, picking through a salad and idly flipping the pages of a magazine. Allison sat down next to her, and Isaac padding over with his trey and scooting in next to her, made it their usual fivesome.
"Coach is ranting about the misery he's planning on inflicting on the next guy who misses practice," Isaac opened with.
"Yeah, he was going on about it yesterday during detention," Scott said, looking relieved that the topic of conversation had to do with anything other than him and or the cause of the said detention. "So I guess we probably ought not miss practice this afternoon."
"I'll be there. Sitting on the bench," Stiles complained.
"How will that be any different than usual?" Isaac inquired.
"Oh yeah? Coach didn't even know your name until you started sprouting fur and howling at the moon."
"Who howls at the moon?"
"It's a metaphor, dumb ass, in case you didn't know."
"I know what a metaphor is."
"Do you know what's funny, Allison?" Lydia blithely interrupted their little back and forth, a cherry tomato speared on the prongs of her fork. "I would have thought Scott and Isaac would have been the two having the little bitch fights over you, but it turns out, its Isaac and Stiles having them over Scott. Its cute."
Isaac scoffed, rolling his eyes. Stiles narrowed his, giving Lydia an offended glare.
If Scott had an opinion on the matter, and if his exasperated expression was any indication, it was probably along the lines of wishing he were somewhere other than sitting at the table with the lot of them, he didn't share it.
"Ha ha, Lydia, you're hilarious," Stiles started dryly, but Lydia was looking past him, one brow arched, a skeptical expression in her eyes. Stiles looked over his shoulder just in time to see Scott's new neighbor, trey in hand, heading towards their table. Isaac looked up, Allison did with a slight furrow between her brows and Stiles nudged Scott, just in time for him to look up as the girl slid into the seat next to him.
"I sit here, with you. Is that good," she smiled in the wake of that statement. And Stiles leaned around Scott with a total lack of anything resembling tack to look at her. Because close up, she was really something, and it wasn't even all just looks, it was like the way she moved and the accent which was nine kinds of hot and the way her eyes were sort of lazy and beckoning and just a little bit predatory. He could sort of imagine her writhing around on the hood of a car in a White Snake video.
"Zlata. Hi," Scott made a miraculous recovery, after his initial fumble of open-mouthed shock. "I see you got registered. I mean, obviously, you got registered."
"Yes," she agreed. "They are very nice here. Very accommodating. Though I know no one. So I see you, Scott, and you I know."
"Who are you again?" Lydia was smiling that false smile she wore when the metaphorical claws were on the verge of coming out.
"She's a transfer student," Stiles supplied. "From Poland."
The girl leaned a little past Scott and canted her head at him, mouth twitching.
"I'm Stiles, by the way, since he sucks at introductions."
"Stiles," she repeated. "I make sure to remember."
"This is Zlata - - she moved in down the street from me." Scott informed the table at large. "She's staying with her uncle. These are my friends, Zlata," and he proceeded to introduce them.
"It is good to meet you," Zlata said. "I hope to learn many things here in your country."
"Poland?" Lydia said musingly. "Your accent sounds more Russian."
The girl looked up from the contemplation of the fried chicken nugget she held between her fingers. "You have expertise with accent?"
Lydia smiled. "I have expertise in quite a few things."
"I am from Gorlitz, very, very far east." The girl said, before leaning in towards Scott and asking. "There is actual meat in this?"
Scott looked at the nugget in her hand and smiled. "That's sort of debatable. If you drench it in enough honey mustard, it almost doesn't matter."
She looked at him quizzically, until he indicated the little sealed packet of dipping sauce on her plate. When she still looked doubtful, he picked up the container and pulled the foil back for her.
"I swear, its edible."
"Edible, yes. Healthy - - I'd lay odds against," Stiles added his opinion on the subject of lunchroom prepared, deep-fried, mystery chicken parts.
"I visited Warsaw last summer. It was beautiful. So how long are you here for?" Allison asked, the faintest little line still between her brows.
The girl shrugged, eyes that were so light a brown they were almost gold flitting over Allison with lazy interest. "Until my uncle is better, I think. Maybe longer. All depends."
"On what?" Stiles asked.
"I would imagine it depends on what sort of visa she has," Lydia said. "Student, travel, work - - they all have expirations."
Zlata lifted a brow, not bothering to respond to that, turning instead to fix that lazy look she'd been directing at Allison towards Scott. "So your mother, she says perhaps if I ask nicely, you show me the way around Beacon Hills."
Scott blinked at her, obviously caught off guard by the blatant parental set up. Stiles sort of wanted to shudder a little with him from the sheer embarrassment factor of having your mom think you were so pitiful that she felt the need to try and arrange a hook up for you. "She said that? I mean - - sure. I could do that. But it's not that big a town. There's not that much to see."
Stiles kicked Scott's ankle under the table, because mom set-up or not, the girl was gorgeous and she wanted to hang out with him and when was the last time that had happened. He needed to approach this situation with a whole hell of a lot more enthusiasm than he was showing.
"Well hello, new girl." They all looked up at the approach of Troy Fischer and the group of preppy douchebags that sauntered in his shadow. All them seniors and all them the sort of upper crust elitist pricks that thought they were better than kids who's parents didn't pull in seven figure salaries.
Stiles hated Fischer with a passion born all the way back in middle school when the vehemence of newly hatched teenagers was at its most virulent stage. Fischer had been a bully of the gold plated caliber and Stiles and Scott had suffered from, admittedly, a severe case of dorkism, that they hadn't started to shed until they were well into high school. And though Scott had gone through a phase of - - oh - - about fifteen years of being generally oblivious to a lot of what was going on around him - - Stiles had never missed a jibe or a cut directed towards him or his that failed to work him into a frothing tizzy.
"What do you want, Troy?" Stiles gave him the evil eye, which was ignored in favor of Fischer and his cronies crowding around Zlata with smug, appreciative leers on their faces.
"Just wanted to give the new transfer student a proper welcome and let her know just in case she hadn't figured it out on her own, that she was sitting at a table full of freaks and geeks - - no offense Lydia."
"Screw you, Fischer," Stiles shot back. Isaac narrowed his eyes, glowering from under his lashes, maybe having been the victim of a bit of Fischer's bullying himself, before catching the incurable malady of lycanthropy.
Lydia just rolled her eyes, as if she were supremely bored with the whole thing.
Zlata didn't seem particularly impressed either, though she did cant her head and look Fischer up and down, as if she were sizing him up, or imagining what he looked like under his clothes. Maybe she found him wanting, because she shrugged and said. "This table, it is not so bad."
"Love that accent," Fischer said, leaning over Scott, a hand on his shoulder, to smile his toothpaste add smile, at Zlata close up. "So there's a party Saturday night at my house and I would love to have you there. You know, if you wanna see how the better half lives here in Beacon Hills."
"Right. One of your famous, bring your own roofie shin digs?" Stiles asked.
"You're not invited, Stilinski. In fact, if I see you there, I'll call your daddy and make him drag you away for trespassing."
"Wouldn't be the first time," Stiles fired back with a tight smile.
Fischer straightened up, patting Scott's shoulder with way too much familiarity. He was lucky he got the hand back whole, considering the volatility of Scott's mood swings of late and the disgruntled look Scott shot him from under half lowered lashes. "You can come McCall, I'm all for supporting the team. And with Jackson gone, you'll need all the support you can get."
"I'm on the team," Stiles muttered. "And I'd rather eat dirt."
"See you there," Fischer winked at Zlata, supremely confident in the lure of smarmy charm and boatloads of money.
"I hate him," Stiles ground out as Fischer and his sycophants made their way out of the cafeteria. "I mean, I really, really hate him."
"I know," Scott commiserated. "Just breathe until you don't see red around the edges and it'll be okay."
"He does throw good parties," Lydia remarked. "Almost as good as mine."
"You're not going?" Stiles gaped at her.
Lydia shrugged. "It never hurts to network."
"This party, it sounds interesting," Zlata said.
"Only if you like elitist assholes hitting on you," Stiles said, then added reluctantly. "And booze and like probably really good snacks and a killer sound system - - so I've heard."
"What is this killer sound system?"
"Music," Scott told her.
Her eyes glinted in interest. "Music I like. And dancing. You come to this party with me?"
Scott blinked at her, along with about a third of their little portion of the table. "Ahh - - well, Troy's sort of a dick - -"
Stiles snorted explosively at that understatement.
"- - And I've got a lot of work to catch up on - -"
"Oh my God, seriously, dude? Homework excuse? Zlata, he's so there." Stiles rolled his eyes, at that blatant attempt to wriggle out of a situation any other guy would be salivating to get dragged into and leaned across Scott to assure her of complete cooperation.
Scott glowered at him. But he couldn't hold it, because Zlata had her hand on his forearm, nails idly making little patterns on his skin. Stiles could literally see the gooseflesh rising on Scott's arm.
"Good. You come to my house tomorrow night and we go to this party where there is music and dancing." She smiled, then rose, and sashayed off, leaving her tray on the table and Scott looking pretty thoroughly flabbergasted.
"Forward, much?" Lydia sniffed.
"She does seem a little aggressive," Allison seconded, sort of under her breath.
"Aggressive's not a bad thing," Stiles said. "Dude, your chances of getting laid again, before you graduate, have just shot up in a huge way."
"Shut up," Scott muttered, actually blushing. "You are so not funny."
"I told him the same thing," Lydia remarked. "But he may be right. I'm picking up a vibe from her that just screams slut." She paused, considering, then waved a hand and added. "Either that or serial killer."
"Or a porn star," Stiles added. "I already called that one."
Scott rolled his eyes, then took a breath, more than likely still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that he'd been told in no uncertain terms that he had a date on Saturday night.
"She's not any of those things," he said reasonably.
"And that's not really fair," Allison seconded him. "We don't know her. Maybe she's just trying really hard because she's new here."
"You're so sweet," Lydia patted the back of Allison's hand. "You keep that in mind when she's doing your ex."
"Oh my God, I'm sitting right here," Scott complained.
"I don't like her," Isaac said bluntly, his first contribution to the conversation since the girl had inserted herself into their company.
"And there you have it," Stiles waved a hand. "If Isaac doesn't like her, with his keen sense of sniffing out personality flaws, she must be a serial killing porn star."
Scott gave him an exasperated look, before pushing his chair back with a screech of metal against tile. "I've got reading to do before next period." He grabbed up his tray, and the one Zlata had left and headed for the trashcans.
"Later then," Stiles called after him, just a little annoyed at being ditched. Scott generally had untapped reserves of patience, but then he'd had a pretty awful week, so maybe he deserved a little slack. He glanced back around to meet an amused smirk from Isaac.
Isaac just shrugged, getting up himself. Allison followed suit, leaving just him and Lydia and Lydia's arched brow and pursed lips.
"So I talked to Aiden," she launched that salvo at him and he snapped his mouth shut on the immediate need to deny everything.
"Yeah?" he prompted warily.
"And you're a troublemaker."
"What? Me? I'm not the one who went all alpha male in the middle of the hall."
"No, that was Scott, having to deal with the mess you started. Just using him for sex? Really?"
He opened his mouth and shut it, trying to remember if he'd actually said that. "That's not exactly what I said - - It's not my fault he has low self-esteem."
She stared at him long enough with those glittery green eyes of hers to make things below the belt start to sort of shrivel, until she finally shrugged and said. "You're weren't wrong. But next time, if the guy I'm seeing needs a little brutal honesty, why don't you leave that up to me. Now, I found quite a few studies on early onset PTSD if you wanted to come over after school and take a look?"
The only thing he could do, in the interests of self-preservation, was nod in complete agreement and thank whatever fates were watching over him that he'd gotten off that easy.
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