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I Am Softer With You.

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Jackson returns to Beacon Hills a lot softer than when he left. He doesn't say much of what happened in London and he doesn't ask what followed after his leaving and for a while, it's okay.

Stiles watches he and Lydia circle one another, almost orbiting, and waits for the inevitable collision that he could see coming a mile away. To his surprise, it doesn't. From what Jackson tells Stiles hours after their conversation, it consisted of the two of them explaining they'd always have a special spot in their hearts, but they weren't good together.

Sure, they were a power couple to rival all, but as the support they needed from the other? It wasn't healthy, let alone something representing love. So, they ended it then and there for good, Lydia parting with a gentle kiss to Jackson's cheek before leaving to go to Allison's for a seemingly innocent girl's night.

Stiles suspected it's to talk a little more about what happened and maybe explore what’s been growing between the two girls, but he's not dumb enough to ask.

The thing that confuses Stiles though, is why Jackson ended up in his bedroom, huddled under his warmest, oldest blankets his mother had made for him when he was younger, and sullenly watching Star Wars.

"You're too awkward to talk about love," Jackson answers, like he knew what he was thinking. "What with your crush on Lydia and your hatred for me, I gathered you're safer than McCall and Danny."

Stiles sits there at his computer desk, stunned. He wants to tell Jackson that he didn't hate him, hate was too much of a serious word. Heavy dislike felt a little more accurate than hate.

Jackson had the looks, the hot girl and the popularity. If Stiles was to think about it too hard, he might even say he was jealous of Jackson, instead of heavily disliking him.

Instead, he says, "I don't understand. What's wrong with our best friends?"

There's a sigh from deep within the blankets, before the movie playing on his laptop is paused by Jackson's hand. "Scott would sprout stupid shit like 'if it's meant to be, it'll happen' and 'don't give up', despite he and Allison completely shooting that horse in the face now that they’ve broken up. Danny would wanna take me out and get me drunk, which will only end up in me fighting off some asshole ex of his when they think they have a chance with a drunk him again. I don't need that. I just need someone close, that'll give me space at the same time."

Opening and closing his mouth a few times trying to find the right words, Stiles just makes a nonsensical noise in the back of his throat, and hopes for the best.

Jackson seems to like that because his hand reaches out and presses play a moment later, Han Solo's voice the only thing loud in his otherwise silent room.

Stiles fidgets for a moment in his seat. Wonders what else he can do to help Jackson but not help him at the same time.

He mulls over his words for several minutes before he realises that he was given the answer.

I just need someone close that'll give me space at the same time.

With nerves firing off in all cylinders, Stiles gets up from his computer chair and takes the few steps to his bed. He hesitates for a moment before he slips under the blankets Jackson is under and slides in until their sides are pressed together.

He tenses when he feels Jackson do the same and Stiles waits to see what happens; if he's about to be thrown out of his bed or worse, he doesn't know.

What really happens is Jackson slowly going lax with a shaky exhale, before he leans carefully into Stiles' space.

Eyes wide, he stares unseeing at his laptop screen for longer than he can admit.

They end up falling asleep curled up together.

~

It becomes a thing after that. Jackson spending a Friday night at Stiles' house, completely wrapped up in his blankets and sometimes waking up in Stiles' arms.

They don't talk about it.

Until Scott, blessed idiot he sometimes is, mentions it during lunch in the cafeteria, of all places.

"You always smell like each other, dude, what gives?" He says, nose wrinkling.

Stiles panics and knows that the wolves at the table can hear his heart rate speed up, including the werewolf that drooled on his chest on Saturday morning and denied it.

"What -- what are you insinuating?" Stiles splutters. His gaze cuts a glance at Lydia.

Who just stares between them, amused. Which, honestly, thank god.

Jackson just smirks at Scott and pops a grape in his mouth. "Scared I'm gonna take your best friend away, McCall?"

Scott predictably glares. "If I wasn't straight, Stiles and I would be married."

Stiles looks at the redhead with a contemplating look, all the while ignoring Allison’s chirp of agreement from her spot by Lydia’s side and Jackson's smirky reply, that's probably just going to set Scott off. "Is this what it feels like to have people fighting over you?”

She grins and throws a wink over at him from her side of the table.

He grins back and digs into his chicken nuggets. "I think I like it."

Scott at the end of the table, predictably snarls back at Jackson’s retort, "That's a goddamn lie and you know it!"

~

That Friday, things get a little weird. He supposes the past several Fridays have been weird, what with Jackson becoming a permanent fixture in his house, but still weird nonetheless.

Jackson texts him just after school lets out and asking him, Stay at mine tonight?

Stiles mulls over it in his Jeep, fingers drumming an unknown beat against the steering wheel. He waves half-heartedly at his classmates passing him by, noting absently that sitting with the Lydia Martin, Jackson Whittemore and Danny Mahealani, somehow bumps your street cred up.

Shrugging at not finding any believable reason why he can't stay over, he texts Jackson back, Sure, be over @ 7.

Then Stiles promptly freaks out. So much so, that it's half an hour before seven and he's still sitting in his boxers trying to find something to wear.

"You're being ridiculous, Stilinski!" He hisses to himself, even as he's glancing around at the sweat pants he has laid out on the floor. "You're literally going over there to sleep!"

There's a knock at his closed door and he startles so hard off the bed, he slips onto the floor. "Uh, yeah?"

His father's head pops in and he can see amusement dancing in his eyes, with a flicker of worry. "You alright, Kiddo?"

Stiles nods and tries to go for nonchalant. "Psh, yeah! What makes you think I'm not?"

The amusement on his father's face grows as a judging eyebrow is raised. "For one, I can hear you muttering from downstairs," he starts, grinning at probably what is his blushing face. "And two, you've been in your underwear debating sweats for three hours."

Stiles fidgets from his spot on his bedroom floor and wrings his hands together. He glances down at his fingers and murmurs, "I don't know what's happening with me."

There's a soft sigh from his father before he walks further into his room. Stiles watches from the corner of his eye as his father sits down on the bed, reaches a gentle hand out and runs it through his hair.

"You'll figure it out and when you do, it'll make sense." His father murmurs, leaning down to press a kiss onto his forehead. "For now, just wear your cleanest pants and not the ratty ones you're always wearing, okay? Let people think you can afford more than one pair."

Snorting, he presses his temple against his father's thigh and he nods. "Thanks, Dad."

~

It seems tonight was a night for firsts. Stiles rings the doorbell to Jackson's house and finds only the werewolf at home.

"Where are your parents?" He asks, awkwardly leaving his overnight bag and pillow on the couch in the living room.

Jackson rolls his eyes as he tugs Stiles into the kitchen. "Milan. Some fashion thing my mother wanted to go to while my father does business."

"So, it's just us?"

"Yeah," Jackson suddenly looks nervous, avoiding his eye as he fiddled with the fridge door. "Is that okay?"

His father was always home whenever Jackson was staying over. It was because now that his father knew of the supernatural world and was the reason why Stiles had been lying for so long, mandatory father and son bonding had been initiated on Friday nights.

Only now changing since Jackson had started arriving after dinner, sometimes even before, to eat with Stiles and his father.

Stiles' head bobbles. "Yeah, yeah, dude. It's fine."

They both ignore the way his heart pounds after he says that. It isn't because he's lying, it's because the smile Jackson gives him is something Stiles wasn't prepared for.

It's soft and private, something that makes Stiles want to hoard it away like a dragon would their gold.

His chest flutters. With nerves or giddiness because – oh.

Oh.

That's -- that's what's happening with him.

~

So. He likes Jackson. He, Stiles Stilinski, has a crush on Jackson Whittemore.

He turns the idea over in his head as he lays beside said werewolf, their arms touching under the blankets, Jackson a warm length by his side. He had been the first to fall asleep, so Stiles was safe enough to panic silently, but not by much. Stiles didn't want to wake him up by his frenzied heartbeat and scent.

It doesn't seem to really matter though, because Jackson rolls in closer, an arm curling around Stiles’ waist to pull him in until their tucked in together.

"Sleep," Jackson mumbles, mouth brushing against the bare ball of his shoulder.

"Yeah," Stiles whispers back, glad that his voice didn't crack at the electric touch of smooth lips. "Yeah, okay."

~

"Danny's throwing a party next week," he's told the next morning at the breakfast counter in Jackson’s kitchen. "Did you wanna go?"

Stiles blinks blearily up from his bacon and eggs, because of course Jackson can cook, ugh.

"Um, really? I'm allowed to come?"

His gifted with an eye roll. Stiles doesn't know how the werewolf still has his eyes attached to his head, from how hard he shows his annoyance with that one action.

"You and McCall sit with us at lunch. You're both on the Lacrosse team." Jackson explains slowly, like he's talking to a child. "Of course you're allowed to come."

He perks up at that, swings his socked feet from the stool he's seated on in excitement.

"Then I suppose I should greet the commoners." He says, grinning.

Jackson just smiles with a fond shake to his head and nibbles on a piece of toast.

~

Stiles is decidedly drunk. He's far from intoxicated but the way he stumbles around the place, he knows he's not safe to drive. He inwardly curses himself but doesn't stop himself from taking another swig from the cup in his hand, welcoming the burn of alcohol that curls in his stomach.

Stiles had been walking around on cloud nine the entire week at school, mostly due to the fact he had the weight of Jackson's arm across his shoulders or curled loosely around his waist. He hadn't known of its presence until Lydia had hummed thoughtfully at him on Friday, after Jackson had finished walking him to his Chemistry class, a hum that usually meant she'd been proven right.

"What's with the mad scientist look?" Stiles had asked, after setting up his text books and nudging her with a gentle elbow.

"Ladies don't have mad scientist looks," she said, primly, flicking hair in his face. While he had chewed on the ends obnoxiously just to annoy her, she continued on, "It seems you and Jackson have gotten closer lately. So close in fact, Becky asked me if you two were dating and how I felt about it."

Everything had screeched to a halt. The entire week playing in his head, all the moments he and Jackson shared, all sticking out like sore thumbs. He wonders why he hadn’t noticed, he usually notices everything. The fact that he and Jackson acted like a couple, to the point it was being questioned by other people, was something that should be noticeable.

"Oh god," he mumbled, dropped his head on the table and tried to become one with it.

Short manicured fingers ran through his hair. "It's okay, you know? I'm not upset or mad. I think it'd be good for the both of you, and if anyone says otherwise, tell me and I'll bite their head off without smudging my lip gloss."

Stiles had curled closer into her, all but flopping into her lap, his face buried into her stomach while she made cooing, sympathetic noises and continued to run her fingers through his hair.

"You're a goddess." He whispered into a floral scented dress.

“I know,” she replied, kissing his head gently.

Beside that life altering moment, Stiles had been excited to go to the party, even allowed Lydia the chance to dress him up in a new pair of tight jeans and shirt that bulged around his biceps slightly. For some reason, he wanted to impress, to show off, for Jackson or himself, he wasn’t so sure.

But that was all for nothing though when he caught sight of Jackson talking to a pretty brunette girl, their heads bent close together, so they could hear one another over the loud music.

It looked intimate.

It looked like they were interested in each other.

Stiles looked for the nearest liquor bottle.

~

The world was spinning.

Stiles giggled to himself because, technically the world really was spinning, but not as fast as his blurry vision was spinning. He's lying on his back in Danny's backyard, watching the stars dance and twinkle before him. He doesn't know how long he's been out here, but it's long enough that the light dew on the grass has seeped into his clothes and the ground had gone warm with his body heat.

A head pops into view, furrowed eyebrows and clear blue eyes the only thing his mind can focus on.

"Stiles?"

His stomach turns over at realising it's Jackson. Or maybe that was the alcohol.

"Heeeeey. What are -- what're you doing out here?" He hiccups, wriggling his fingers around to gesture at the backyard.

Jackson upside down, doesn't look amused. "I was looking for you. I was worried."

Stiles blows a raspberry. "Were not."

“Yes.”

“No.”

"Yes, I -- why are you arguing with me?" The werewolf asks, confused.

"You were talking to the pretty brunette." He explains, like it's obvious. It hurts to keep looking up, that’s what he drunkenly tells himself, so Stiles turns his gaze away. "Clearly you weren't that worried."

"The pretty brunette? You mean Lydia's god sister, Ellie?”

Ah. So that's her name. Jackson and Ellie. They sound perfect together.

There's more footsteps and then Stiles' vision goes blurry when he's unceremoniously tugged into a sitting position, Jackson crouched before him, still looking confused. He’s cupped warm palms around Stiles’ elbows and he’s helpless to shift closer to the warmth he can feel coming from him. Freaking werewolves and the internal space heating bodies.

They stare at one another silently, his gaze a little unfocused, then there's a soft question being breathed between them.

"Were you jealous?"

Scoffing, Stiles pushes away and gets to his feet, only stumbling slightly. "Don't flatter yourself."

As drunk and numb as he is, he doesn't want to have this conversation. He doesn't think he'd be able to stomach another rejection from someone who he thought he loved.

Stiles suddenly groans at the thought. He had come to terms with the fact that he loved the idea of being in love with Lydia, which helped in a way when she told him in no circumstances, were they ever going to be together. It had taken time for Stiles to pull Lydia from the pedestal he had placed her on, but once he did, and after apologising profusely, he had realised she was right. They were better off as friends.

And sure, he and Jackson could be better off as friends, but Jackson didn't act like Lydia did, when he had a crush on her. She had acted like Stiles wasn't worth a damn. Jackson never acted like that. He was always listening to him with rapt attention, laughing at his jokes or rolling his eyes fondly when said jokes were just plain stupid. Being close enough that it warranted an arm being wrapped around his frame.

Jackson acted as if Stiles meant everything. Or so Stiles thought.

He's just at the porch steps when Stiles' foot catches the back of his other one, and he only has a moment to brace for the impact, but there's suddenly strong arms wrapping around his waist from behind, and a serious lack of pain.

"As graceful as a newborn fawn," Jackson chuckles in his ear. Stiles is helpless to shiver at the warm puff of air fanning across his skin. "Come on, Bambi. Time to get you home and into bed."

"'M not a cartoon deer," he says, pouting, though he accepts being tucked carefully into Jackson's side and led through the crowded house and into a silver Porsche. “I run with wolves.”

“Of course you do,” is his reply. Stiles doesn’t mean to, but he preens.

It takes a moment to realise that Jackson is leaning over him to clip in his seatbelt, that he’s even sitting down in the first place, so Stiles just slumps forward and brushes his nose against the bared skin of the throat in front of him. He inhales once, and finds he likes the scent of clean sweat and whatever cologne Jackson is wearing.

Stiles rubs the tip of his nose against Jackson’s skin and isn't really sure, but Stiles thinks Jackson rumbles softly. It sends an excited thrill through his body and down to his toes.

He’ll regret it in the morning, but for now, he just rolls in the feeling.

His door is closed gently and then Jackson is sliding into the driver's side.

Before he can drive off though, Stiles pipes up, tone serious, as he reaches out with uncoordinated hands and asks, "Are you okay to drive?"

He's given a series of dancing eyebrows that are full of disbelief. He doesn't know how he knows, but Stiles just does.

"I'm a werewolf, Stiles. I can't get drunk."

"Okay." Satisfied, Stiles leans back against his seat and then promptly passes out.

~

The sun is clearly out to get him. It stabs at his eyes with a bright enthusiasm that shouldn’t be allowed at whatever time it currently is. With a groan, Stiles twists his body around and tries to bury his face under his pillow, silently praying for the Gods to make it quick.

If he survives this, he’s never drinking again, he swears it.

"I feel like death," he whimpers, tilting his head to the side so he can pant away the pain that's radiating in his skull.

"Your breath smells like it too," he hears from just in front of him.

He's not ready for it and it shows in the way he yelps out in surprise and nearly falls off the bed. It's only because of the hand that wraps around his wrist that keeps him from hitting his floorboards.

“What the hell are you doing here?” He asks, the pillow he was buried under, now sitting across his head like a floppy hat. He shakes his head to get rid of it, but nearly throws up when his stomach lurches heavily, and decides he’s just going to have a pillow on his head for the rest of his life, because what are hands and why don’t they work?

“Your Dad didn’t want me driving back to mine so late, so he told me to stay over after tucking your intoxicated self into bed.” Jackson says, shrugging, the freckles spread across his bare shoulders distracting Stiles for a moment. “Which I think you’re in heaps of shit for, by the way.”

Groaning, Stiles goes to suffocate himself with his sheets.

He’s hung over as shit, his father is probably going to make him pee in a cup for alcohol tests until he’s thirty five, and he gets to watch Jackson and Ellie ride off into the sunset, fully in love while he’s standing there like a love sick idiot and –

“Ellie is just a friend.” Jackson interrupts him. “And I’m pretty sure her girlfriend would legitimately skin me alive if I made a move on her.”

Stiles’ head pops up, and despite the urge to throw up, he asks, “Excuse – how’d you know I was thinking about her?”

“Because you have this adorable tendency to speak in and out of internal monologue at the same time.” Jackson rolls his eyes again, nose wrinkling adorably. “And seriously, go, for the love of god, brush your teeth and then come back. I think it’s time we had a talk.”

~

Stiles isn’t hiding in his bathroom, except that’s totally what he’s doing. No conversation ever ended well when it began with ‘it’s time we had a talk.’ It never happened in the movies or in real life, and honestly, with how his life was going, it wasn’t going to end well with him as well. Pathetically horrible was more accurate.

He scrubs at his face with warm water, trying to will some life into his clammy face before he gives up. It’s not like he has anyone to impress, now is there? Sighing, he ignores the fact that he’s been stripped of his clothes from last night and dressed into his pajamas, and sets about brushing the death trap that is his mouth. He does it twice because one can never be too minty fresh and because he’s totally hiding in the bathroom.

Finally picking up the courage, he’s walking back to his room akin to someone walking to the electric chair, he finds Jackson, now wearing a shirt, Stiles’ Lacrosse training top, sitting at the edge of his bed, looking relaxed. He tries to mirror him and lean against the door jamb, but knows it’s fruitless. His heart pounds behind his ribs like a drum, hard enough Jackson would have been able to hear it without his super wolfy senses.

“Come here,” said werewolf whispers.

Swallowing, Stiles silently obeys, goes to sit beside Jackson but gets stopped by a gentle palm and then gets redirected to stand between Jackson’s open thighs. His hands wrap around Stiles’ wrists in a loose circle before he’s pulling them up and up, until he places Stiles’ damp palms over the breadth of his shoulders.

It’s a lot intimate than he’s ever been with the werewolf, hell, with anyone, and it makes Stiles struggle with trying to find his breathe.

“Jackson, I don’t –” He starts, staring down into bright blue eyes. He licks his bottom lip, equal parts thrilled and terrified when he watches Jackson stare at his mouth in reply. “I don’t know what’s happening.”

A nose is buried into his torso then, and he furrows his eyebrows at the deep inhales and warm puffs of air he can feel through his shirt. Fingers twitching with nerves, Stiles lifts one hand up and runs it through the short strands on top of Jackson’s head, smiling a little weakly at the rumble he hears at the action.

He gets a flashback of being in a car, the scent of Jackson’s cologne filling his nose before he’s falling face first into Jackson’s bared throat, the same rumble he just heard, echoing in his ears from last night.

Oh, he thinks.

He tugs at Jackson’s hair lightly, silently telling him to look up and nearly swallows his tongue when Jackson’s eyes flash an icy blue before returning back to normal.

Stiles’ fingers of the hand that was buried in Jackson’s hair, now trace over a high cheekbone, over a plump bottom lip. Jackson turns his head and presses a gentle kiss into his palm and Stiles smiles at the softness of the action.

“You make me want things I can’t have,” Jackson breathes into his skin, nuzzling his palm.

Tilting his head to the side in disbelief, at the confession itself and the heavy meaning behind it, Stiles asks, “Why can’t you have me?”

Jackson pulls away with a painful grimace, puts space between their bodies that Stiles silently mourns over. His gaze is turned away and he speaks to the floorboards. “I’ve killed people, Stiles. What I did as the kanima – I’m not – I’m not a good person, let alone good enough for you.”

“Let me be the judge of that,” he whispers, cupping his face and gently connecting their gazes together. He isn’t surprised that he completely means his words too. “And I’m not good either. I’ve done things too, horrible things that I’ll never ever get over, and like you, it wasn’t in my control to stop it. We were both puppets to someone else.”

“Stiles, you were possessed by a demon,” Jackson replies, hands coming up to cup his hips, his touch feeing like a brand through his sweats. He shakes his head. “I was just a bitten werewolf gone wrong. It’s not the same.”

“Would you have killed those people of your own free will?”

Jackson looks horrified at the thought. “No! I’d never!”

“Then it’s exactly the same.” Stiles retorts, though his voice is quiet, gentle, his touch even more so. He leans down those last few inches and presses their foreheads together.

He hears Jackson swallow, feels the shaky exhale he releases against his lips and the way the hands cupping his hips, tighten their grip. “I don’t want to mess this up.”

“What is this? Because right now I’m mightily confused and hopeful, which is not a combination I need to be feeling, while hung over.” Stiles says, his fight or flight instincts currently set on flight.

It was more an alarm of ‘run, man, run!’ but no one needed to know.

“I think it would have been obvious by now,” Jackson says, looking up at him with a sarcastic twitch to his eyebrows. “I don’t exactly act like this with anyone else I know.”

“But – what about –” Stiles goes to start, but gets interrupted.

“Whatever you’re thinking about me and Ellie is completely wrong, okay? I like you. So, please, stop that train of thought.” Jackson firmly states, shaking his hips gently, trying to prove a point. “We’re just good friends. Whatever you saw last night was just us catching up.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, oh.”

Stiles tugs at Jackson’s hair. “Don’t get sassy.” He warns, squinting his eyes down at him. “I’m not thinking clearly.”

“You weren’t last night either. You showed up and then disappeared for three hours.” Jackson sniffs before a look of concern flashes over his features. “No one knew where you were, not even Lydia. I was really worried something happened or someone hurt you.”

Stiles winces and feels appropriately chastised. He knows better than to disappear without telling anyone where he was going. He predicts a lot of groveling to Lydia in the next few days. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you worry.”

His apology is waved away before Jackson tilts his head to the side, a mischievous glint coming to life in his eyes. “Wanna make it up to me?”

Stiles barks out a surprised laugh. “I haven’t even told you that I feel the same way, why would I wanna make it up to you?”

Jackson grins cockily up at him. “I don’t need you to tell me you feel the same way. I know already.”

Raising an eyebrow, he feels nothing but amusement flow through his veins. “Yeah? Enlighten me.”

The werewolf suddenly stands, their noses now brushing and their bodies touching from chest down to thigh. Jackson leans in and brushes his mouth against his neck and breathes, “I can smell it on your skin, how happy you are when our bodies touch, when you’re pressed against my skin in bed.”

Stiles swallows and unconsciously bares his throat more for Jackson. In reply, he gets a firmer press of lips and then a scrape of teeth, just under the hinge of his jaw and is helpless to stop the gasp of surprise from his parted mouth.

“I see it when you smile, really smile,” Jackson murmurs into his neck, “When we talk about everything and anything, the way your nose twitches adorably when you laugh at something I say.”

Stiles has no idea what to do with his hands as Jackson leans back to glance at him with wide eyes. He ends up just gripping the back of his shirt in loose fists and just holds on.

“But the best one I think is when this begins to pound,” Jackson continues, his own hand coming up to land over his chest, just over his now pounding heart. “How it speeds up and matches mine when we wake up together, me in your arms like I belong to be there.”

Lost for words, Stiles just stares, mouth dropped to the floor.

“So, no.” Jackson finishes, shaking his head, before nuzzling their noses together. “I don’t need you to tell me you like me. I’d love to hear you say it though, if you do feel the same way as I do.”

Stiles, in reply, just pulls Jackson in and slants his mouth over his.