beatrice_otter: WWII soldier holding a mug with the caption "How about a nice cup of RESEARCH?" (Research)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
Title: Risk/Reward
Author: beatrice_otter
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Rating: gen
Characters: Stiles Stilinski, Derek Hale
Word Count: 7,190
Summary: Stiles had heard it all before. This was not his first go-round on the Scott-and-Derek-pack/alpha debate.

Or, The One About Werewolf Insurance.

At AO3

Stiles had heard it all before. This was not his first go-round on the Scott-and-Derek-pack/alpha debate. It could be summarized like this:

Derek: Wolves belong in a pack.
Scott: But I don't want to be in your pack.
Derek: It's not good to be an omega, and in a pack we can be stronger/protect ourselves/have forest slumber parties/whatever.
(Okay, Derek didn't actually talk about forest slumber parties, but it would be hilarious if he did, and also probably more effective.)
Scott: But I don't want to be in your pack.

Ad infinitum. Add in threats, glowers, whining, and a total inability to listen (on both sides), and you pretty much had Stiles' week so far. Make that two weeks. Derek had asked Scott to join the pack before, but he'd been weirdly persistent lately.

Case in point, this evening's entertainment. Or non-entertainment, as the case might be. Scott was not here. Stiles was home alone on a hot July evening following rabbit-trails around the internet. (It was one of his favorite hobbies. He and Dad were going to watch a movie tonight, but his Dad got called out—one of the rookie deputies was on shift, and he couldn’t wipe his nose without help. Not up to the quality Beacon Hills used to have, and here Stiles wrenched his thoughts in a different direction because he did not want to spend an hour remembering all the deputies he'd known since childhood who had been fricking awesome because Stiles' Dad had trained them up right.) Derek had showed up—to the front door this time, no less, with a messenger bag over one shoulder—to bug Stiles about Scott's pack membership or lack of it.

(Which actually showed smarts on Derek's side, because if there was anything that could convince Scott to join up, it would be Stiles telling him he should. Derek might be getting smart about this whole campaign.) (It wasn't going to work unless he could convince Stiles that it was a good idea, first. So far, Stiles thought that the present situation was working out just fine for everybody except Derek's ego.)

Still and all, the whole idea of Derek at the front door like a normal person made Stiles curious enough to step away from the lure of TVTropes to let Derek in and have a seat at the kitchen table.

Which Stiles was now regretting because this argument was tedious the first ten times he heard it. The ten-millionth-time wasn't looking any better. He interrupted Derek's pitch. "So, what's wrong with being omega? Does it make a wolf go crazy? Does it send them howling at the moon? Does it upset the balance of mystical forces that rule the wolf? Because I've got to tell you, so far, your pitch is not that convincing. Scott's doing fine."

"But he'd be doing better if he was really in a pack, not just around the edges, but really pack," Derek said.

"Maybe so, but I bet the kind of pack matters," Stiles said. "I bet a shitty pack is worse than no pack at all. And right now, he's doing fine. What can joining your pack give him that he can't get hanging out on the fringes?"

Derek scowled and opened his mouth.

"Ah!" Stiles said holding up a finger. "Believe it or not, I have heard you talk about this with Scott, and Scott has spent hours complaining about your sales pitch before. Since things have quieted down this summer, it's become his number one topic of conversation. That and Allison. What do you have that I haven't heard before?" If Derek gave him a rehash of the whole spiel, Stiles was going to throw him out. (Could he throw him out? Obviously, Derek was stronger physically, but Stiles was more determined, and Derek was an asshole but he did occasionally have glimmers of being-a-decent-human-being. If he was a vampire—do vampires exist?—there'd be the whole household protection thing, was there anything like that for werewolves?)

By the time Stiles dragged his attention back to Derek—his Adderall had worn off and he couldn't take any more today—Derek was digging in his messenger bag. Stiles leaned forward to try and see into it.

"Insurance," Derek said gruffly, pulling out a thick—very thick, holy cow—stack of papers.

Stiles fell out of his chair. "Ow," he said, more out of surprise than anything else. He sprang to his feet and dove for the papers. "Werewolf insurance?" he snickered. "You are not seriously saying there is werewolf insurance!" Except that's what it said, right up top. No, it said 'Paranormal Insurance.' So not just werewolves, everything that went bump (or aaargh, or growl) in the night. That was even better. Stiles had visions of the most boring insurance office ever, except with zombies and vampires and werewolves (oh my!) hanging out in the waiting room reading boring magazines. (Stiles had never been in an insurance office—this being the age of the internet—so it looked a lot like his doctor's office.)

He tried to read the first paragraph and bounced off it hard. It was as dense and impenetrable as he would expect insurance legalese to be. (Except for the fact that it was talking about werewolves.) If he was going to read it, he was going to have to do it when a) he was more awake, like, at noon instead of eleven p.m. and b) he was loaded up on Adderall.

Fortunately, he had his very own Werewolf Guide right here to give him the Spark Notes version. (Spark, hah, that would never not be funny now). "So, tell me, Derek," he said, folding his hands on top of the papers and giving him as solemn a look as he could, "why would one need werewolf insurance?"

"To cover all the stuff that regular insurance doesn't cover," Derek said, the duh obvious in his voice.

"So, like zombie attacks?"

"Don't be ridiculous, there's no such thing as zombies," Derek said. "More like hunter attacks."

"Oh," Stiles said, sitting back. It wasn't hard to keep his face straight any more. He thought for a second. "So, like they paid you for Kate and Gerard burning your house down?"

Derek shrugged, looking off to the side. "We already got paid for the house fire by the regular homeowner's insurance," he said lowly. "Most of that went to relocating Laura and me to New York, and Peter's care, and school. Now that they know it was hunters, they're paying out life insurance for … everyone who died, and retroactively for Peter's care."

"Wait, you didn't get paid life insurance for everyone who died in the fire?" Stiles asked.

"Werewolves die in fires like everyone else," Derek said. "There's no need to get a special 'supernatural creature' insurance policy to cover deaths like that—you just get a normal life insurance policy. It's cheaper."

"And you didn't have normal life insurance policies because why would a werewolf need life insurance," Stiles said, nodding. "You guys are pretty hard to kill."

"It's not that," Derek says. "Look, most people get life insurance to cover the cost of the funeral home and cemetery plot and to take care of their kids until they're grown."

"But you bury your family yourselves on your own land," Stiles said.

"And if a pack member dies with kids that need to be taken care of, there's pack to take care of them," Derek said. "You don't need the life insurance, so buying it's a waste of money. Unless it's something like hunters taking a pack out, and then you need money to rebuild."

"Gotcha," Stiles said. "So, are you rebuilding? Will the great depressing monument to Kate's hate be torn down and replaced with a happy home?" Stiles took a moment to be pleased by the rhyme and alliteration.

Derek looked even more uncomfortable. "Yeah," he said.

"Got tired of squatting, eh?" Stiles asked. "Ready to join civilization with the wonders of internet and indoor plumbing?" Seriously, he was on a roll.

"It's amazing what a difference having the money to actually do something makes," Derek said dryly.

"Well!" Stiles said. "I'm happy for you. Can't wait to see it. Is everyone going to have their own bedroom, or is there just going to be one room with a huge custom bed for a puppy pile? Or a room for you guys, and a room for Scott? Or does Scott get a shed out back if he doesn't join your werewolf commune?"

"That depends," Derek said. "On whether he formally joins the pack."

Which, right, was why Derek came over tonight. "So!" Stiles said. "Werewolf insurance, why does Scott need it, and do I need it?"

"It's really hard for omegas to get insurance," Derek said. "Usually they're omegas because they've been driven out by their home pack—and there's usually a reason for that, like they're off the rails or something, and pretty likely to hurt someone—or because they were turned by a rogue alpha—and that screws with the head, makes them more likely to hurt someone—or they're just loners and drifters who never stay any place for long and are more likely to get into a stupid bar fight with a wolf they don't know and wind up dead, or something."

"Gotcha," Stiles said. "So if Scott wanted werewolf insurance, it'd be stupidly expensive if he could even get it by himself."

Derek nodded. "It's not like car insurance. There aren't fifty companies out there competing for the werewolf market."

Stiles spent a few seconds to picture what the Geico ad would be like. Or Progressive! How would Flo handle werewolves? "Got it," he said. "So why do you care?"

Derek glowered at him.

Stiles sighed. "What's your angle? Why do you care whether Scott can get insurance or not—insurance he doesn't even know about?" And, realistically, wouldn't care about if he did know. Most teens only care about car insurance, and Scott didn't have a car. Stiles cared about insurance, because Stiles a) had a car that he loved and b) sometimes made lists of all the horrible things that could happen, up to and including zombie apocalypses. Scott only thought about how to face zombie apocalypses in a bullshitting wouldn't-it-be-cool way. Stiles thought about 'what if my Dad gets shot at work one night' and 'what if he dies young of a heart attack like grandpa did.'

"Stable, well-adjusted packs get better rates than unstable packs do," Derek said.

"Hah! I'd like to see those actuarial tables," Stiles said. "How do they even calculate them? Figure out mortality rates for the size of the pack vs. number of hunters in the area vs. what kind of cars they drive …"

"No, the car insurance is on the regular policy," Derek said. Seriously, of course.

Stiles rolled his eyes at him.

"I don't know what they base their figures on," Derek said. "But larger packs get charged less per-pack-member. Age of the alpha is a factor, too, as is how long the pack's gone between new alphas, and the average age of the pack, and the ratio of bitten wolves to born wolves, and how much trouble you've had in the last twenty years with other packs and hunters and things."

"Well, you're hosed there," Stiles pointed out helpfully.

Derek's mouth tightened. "But they also take into account how old the pack is and how long they've been on the same territory."

"How do you stack up there?" Stiles asked, curious.

"Pretty good," Derek said. "We've been here since before California was a state, which for an American pack is pretty old. A lot of Native American packs were wiped out along with their tribes, and packs don't move if they don't have to so you didn't have many among the first White settlers. And with the house rebuilt, we'll have a den again, on our own wilderness area, which also works for us."

"Check and check," Stiles says. "So, does getting Scott to sign on the dotted line lower your premium-per-pack-member enough that it's cheaper to have him than not? And if he signs to get you a better rate, is that insurance fraud?"

"We also get dinged for omegas living long-term on or near our territory. Particularly young ones who might do something stupid."

"Ah-ha," said Stiles. "I knew there was an angle somewhere!"

"Look, I don't just want him because of the insurance angle," Derek says, sounding almost desperate. "He'll be better off with a pack, and we'll be better off to have him."

Stiles wasn't sure he believed him, but he believed Derek believed what he was saying.

"The insurance is only coming up now because it's time for the yearly renewal, and there are some big changes in the policy this year now that we're back and everything, and so I thought, with the new den and the new pack members and everything, we finally have some breathing room to bond and become a real pack, and if he's going to really be in the pack, we want to get him on the insurance in case something happens."

"And getting the insurance payout if he dies—"

"—or gets seriously injured," Derek said. "There isn't much that can do long-term damage without killing a wolf outright, but when it does happen the hospital usually can't do much to help. You need occult healers and witches and shamans, and those aren't covered by regular health insurance."

"—or gets seriously injured," Stiles said, making a face. "The insurance payout is worth the added risk of slapping a target on his back by formally joining the pack so everyone who comes after you goes after him, too?"

Derek jerked back. "Stiles," he said carefully, "if the Argents start hunting us again, or another werewolf pack comes to town and tries to take over our territory, or … anything else horrible, do you really think they'll let Scott sit it out? Even if they would, could the two of you watch us get slaughtered without trying to help?"

It's Stiles' turn to freeze, to clench his teeth at the hit, because no. No, they couldn't. Stiles might be able to stand back, if Derek and the others had been douchey enough recently, but Scott would never be able to.

"Right now," Derek said carefully, "Scott has all of the risk of being a werewolf without the reward. He doesn't have the security of a pack to watch his back, to help him train so he's the best he can be, to help him when he's in trouble, to run with on full moons, to share stories and good times with, to know what the hell he's going through. He's isolated. He has his mother, and you. He has a girlfriend whose family hates him. He doesn't have the bone-deep comfort and connection that a pack can give. I know my pack is small and unsteady right now. I know I'm not half the alpha Laura was, or a tenth the alpha my mom was. But it's still better than being alone. Believe me, I know."

Stiles swallowed. He did not ask, but what about me, what happens to me if Scott joins your pack? Scott might have Stiles and his mother and Allison, but that was still one person more than Stiles had. "All right," he said.

"You'll talk to him?" Derek said.

"I'll think about it," Stiles said.

Derek frowned, but let himself be shooed out the door. Stiles scooped up the papers on the table and went upstairs to google paranormal insurance.




The next day, Stiles called Allison at nine. (This would have been three hours too early for Scott on a summer day, but Allison was a morning person.)

"So! Allison!" he said as soon as she picked up, "does your family have Hunter's Insurance?"

There was a brief silence. "What?" she asked slowly.

"Hunter's insurance! Did you know there's werewolf insurance? And insurance for people who think they're going to be abducted by aliens, too, but the point is, werewolf insurance! Google tells me that most paranormal insurance on the books—at least, the books people show the public—is for people who run around looking for ghosts. Which makes me wonder: do hunters have insurance, and does your family have it?"

"I … don't know," Allison said. "Is it important?"

"Only for my curiosity," Stiles assured her.

"Okay, then," Allison said. "If I find out, I'll let you know."

"Thanks, you're awesome," Stiles said.




Stiles' next stop was Doctor Deaton's clinic. Not that Deaton liked sharing information that might be useful, but he was the only other person in town who might know anything. Practice getting him to talk might be useful the next time he needed to know something with lives hanging in the balance.

"No, Stiles, there is no real-world equivalent to Hogwarts," Deaton said when he came out of the back room and saw Stiles in the waiting area.

Okay, so maybe Stiles had been using the freedom from school to go overboard on trying to figure out the whole "spark" thing. "Totally not what I was going to ask," he said.

Deaton cocked his head.

"Werewolf insurance," Stiles says. "Derek says it's a thing."

"Yes."

"Yes it's a thing, or Yes Derek says it's a thing, or …?" Stiles let his voice trail off invitingly.

"It's very real, and very necessary," Deaton said. "Any specifics of the Hale claim you will have to ask Derek about—I'm not at liberty to discuss them, of course."

"Wait, you're helping Derek file the claim?" Stiles asked. At Deaton's look, which he'd come to recognize as the don't even bother asking look which often heralded the end of a conversation, Stiles hurried on. "I don't need specifics, just like background. Derek says insurance is a reason for Scott to join his pack, and he left me these forms, and they're really dense, and I need more information."

"What do you need to know?" Deaton asked, gesturing him back into the office.

"How does it work?"

Deaton shrugged. "Much like regular insurance, except that it covers things that regular insurance does not." He took a seat and motioned Stiles to sit opposite him.

"Yeah, that wasn't helpful," Stiles said.

"Insurance works to protect you against expensive harm," Deaton said. "When there is a risk that something might cost you significant money, you take out an insurance policy. If you are worried that your home might burn down, you buy homeowners insurance that covers fire, burglary, and other possible damage to your house. You then pay the insurance company a set sum—usually on a monthly or annual basis, depending—and if your house burns or is stolen from, you report it to the insurance company. They then investigate and pay for the damage to be fixed or replaced. Over time, the amount you pay in premiums will probably be less than what they pay out if you file a claim; they make money because many people will never need to file a claim. Supernatural insurance policies work the same way, except they cover things like magical attacks, attacks by a wide range of supernatural creatures, and—in certain circumstances—hunter attacks."

"In certain circumstances?" Stiles asked. "So what's the fine print?"

"Insurance doesn't cover attacks by hunters who are following a code," Deaton said. "If a wolf is eating humans or other sentient creatures and hunters kill him for it, there is no payout. If, however, the wolf was not a danger to the community, and hunters kill him or injure him such that he will need medical assistance, the insurance company will pay him or his heirs."

"So, it's like if you set your own house on fire, you can't collect the insurance money," Stiles said. "If you cause it deliberately, you don't get to profit from it, you have to pay." He thought for a second. "There's no supernatural law enforcement agency, though, is there?"

"No," Deaton said. "Insurance can help rebuild after the fact but it can't prevent things up front. Which is why it is far more important for a pack than for an omega."

"The pack will be rebuilding," Stiles said, nodding. "As long as any survive, they're going to take care of each other and try and put things back together. But if an omega dies, who's he gonna leave behind who'll need the money? Well, Scott would leave behind his mom, and if it wasn't something that killed him immediately, something that took its time, something the hospital couldn't handle, how would Melissa pay for it?"

"I could heal or treat many of the more common injuries and maladies," Deaton said. "And I wouldn't charge more than they could afford, even for something that required … exotic and expensive ingredients, let us say."

"But is there stuff you couldn't handle?" Stiles asked.

"Yes."

"Expensive stuff?"

"Yes."

Stiles nodded decisively. "Okay, then."

Deaton sighed. "Stiles, the chances of Scott needing this are very small. Most werewolves never contract any sort of serious injury or illness in their entire lives."

"Yeah, but things were pretty hot this last year," Stiles pointed out. "Lots of supernatural activity. You can't tell me that's normal—people would have noticed!"

"A territory with a small or unstable pack attracts trouble," Deaton said. "A well-established pack discourages supernatural troublemakers from intruding onto their range, and nips most trouble in the bud. As Derek settles into his role as Alpha, and his pack settles into their bond as a pack, I have no doubt that things will calm down."

"That's good in the long run, but what about the short term?" Stiles said. "Right now things are calm, but what if there are another few waves of problems yet to come? I mean, Derek's pack is pretty small and shaky, and unless things change really fast, they'll be small and shaky for some time to come. But if just having a larger pack will make some people think twice about making trouble, that's another reason for Scott to join. Not just to pay out if he needs treatment, but to make the pack look bigger and stronger so they don't get challenged as much." He frowned. "Although Derek and Scott can't stop arguing—that might actually be bad for the pack, keep it from settling down. In which case, I should be telling Scott not to join."

"Needing to protect territory is a bad reason to join a pack," Deaton said. "So is insurance."

"So what are the good ones?" Stiles said. "Are there any? I mean, I know Derek thinks there are, but he's kinda got some self-interest, here."

Deaton sighed. "There are very good reasons for werewolves to want to join and form packs. But not all of them apply to all werewolves in all circumstances. Omegas … tend to be omegas for a reason."

"Which is?" Stiles perked up. This was the most he'd ever gotten out of Deaton at one time.

"There are many reasons."

Stiles sighed. Just when it was going so well. "Care to share with the class?"

"All humans need connection," Deaton said. "So do wolves. We are not meant to be solitary creatures. We need social bonds; we need people we can talk to, and we need people we can touch. If you get the chance, I would look up studies on the effects of touch-deprivation on humans. They are … striking. While there are no studies about werewolves, my experience is that werewolves need positive touch even more than humans do, in order to maintain optimum mental health."

"Then what about omegas?" Stiles said. He frowned. "Wait, so werewolves need good touch. You don't need a pack for that. You could go out and get a massage or something. Or hang out with your best friend watching movies while sitting together on the couch. Or, er, spending the night with your girlfriend."

"Exactly," Deaton said. "A pack isn't the only place a werewolf can get what he or she needs. A werewolf can find companionship anywhere a human can, pack or no. But can that companionship be trusted to know about the werewolf? That is often the sticking point."

"You don't want to tell someone who might freak out or something," Stiles said. "But if you don't tell, that's a pretty big secret to keep."

"Yes. It makes any sort of relationship between members of the supernatural community and the larger world … fraught."

"Gotcha," Stiles said. Well, that was nothing he didn't already know. But it was nice to be able to talk about this with someone who understood, at least a little bit, the stuff Stiles was facing but wasn't directly involved.




"Stiles, you owe me."

Stiles frowned at his phone. "Hello to you too, Allison," he said, turning off the engine and leaning back in his seat. This did not sound like it would be a short conversation, and the Jeep was enough of a gas hog he didn't like wasting more. On the other hand, this might be some supernatural emergency, in which case driving while on the phone would be the least of his worries … restarting the car wouldn't take that much time.

"Seriously. You owe me so much." She didn't sound angry, more … desperate.

"Do you need any help?" Stiles asked, fingers reaching for the keys, glancing back over his shoulder to check traffic.

"No! I need to punch you for getting me to ask about insurance!"

Stiles bit his lip. "Can I ask why?"

"Mom and Dad took it as a sign that I'm growing and maturing and am ready to learn more about the paperwork and detail stuff," she said. "I have spent all day buried in insurance forms and affidavits and paperwork of every description and there's enough work to keep me busy for a month and it is all your fault."

"So you guys do have hunter's insurance!" Stiles said brightly.

"Yeah," Allison said. "That's kinda the problem, now. Well, actually, we'd probably still be facing the lawsuit without it, but it's adding to the paperwork."

"Lawsuit?"

"Wrongful death for a whole werewolf pack," Allison said. "The Hale's insurance company wants money to cover the payout now they know that Kate did it. And our own insurance company may drop us if we lose the suit, because we're a bad risk. Do you know how expensive supernatural attacks can be to heal, and how often hunters get injured? I do now, thanks to you, and the answers are 'very' and 'often.'"

"I bet," Stiles said, carefully keeping his opinion out of his voice. There were some werewolves and other supernatural creatures that were genuinely bad and needed to be killed—hello, Peter—but from what he'd seen, hunters tended to ignore them and go for the innocent ones. And he wasn't going to shed any tears over a hunter who pulled that and got an arm torn off because of it.

"Dad says we're lucky Derek isn't suing on his own behalf, too," Allison said. "Mom says it's only a matter of time, that once he's finished with the insurance claim and has his new pack on an even keel, he'll go after us with lawyers. Do you think he will? Because we don't have the money to pay him."

Stiles thought about this for a second, staring up at his bedroom ceiling. "I don't think he will," he said thoughtfully. "Derek doesn't really care about money for its own sake. And say he did sue you guys, and win, and take all your assets or what have you. It wouldn't bring his family back. You can't put a price on what he lost, and I don't think he's the kind of guy to try."

Allison sighed. "Okay."

"So how are you handling the insurance lawsuit?"

"Well, mostly our insurance company is," Allison said. "But we've got to come up with a lot of documentation and evidence for them, which is hard since it was several years ago. Basically we're trying to argue that Kate was acting alone, without the family's sanction, so the rest of us shouldn't be liable for her doing … what she did."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't she pretty high up in the family hierarchy? I mean, her and Gerard do seem to have been pretty much running the show."

"It's not a dictatorship," Allison said. "Taking out a rogue omega on your own initiative is one thing, but a whole pack—that's not something you're supposed to do without consulting the whole family. The whole extended family. And usually bringing in another family or two to help, because usually it's a big huge battle and very nasty and dangerous, one person couldn't do it alone and usually one family couldn't do it alone. Or you might be able to, but you wouldn't want to. Packs are dangerous. If even one Hale had figured things out even a couple of minutes beforehand, or managed to get out … things would have been very different and Kate would have been ripped to shreds."

"But she did have help," Stiles pointed out. "The fire inspector, Harris, a few others—remember all the people Peter killed?"

Allison sighed. "Stiles. If Peter Hale hadn't been burned to a crisp—if Kate had mistimed things so that, for example, Talia Hale wasn't in the house when it went up—if any of the other adult wolves had survived, how much help do you think Harris would have been in killing an enraged werewolf out for vengeance? Or that corrupt inspector, huh? I mean, she had a few other people hired for muscle, too, but were they really the kind of people you would want to take on a werewolf pack with?"

Stiles imagined Harris taking on Peter. Peter ate him, it was awesome. Yet another reason to wish more Hales had survived the fire. "Point."

"She was lucky. Very, very lucky. Her plan hinged on everything going her way. If it hadn't, she had no backup. That's our defense, basically—if she'd believed the family would back her, she wouldn't have done it alone. It took her months to set up; she had plenty of time to call in help, and didn't. Instead, she hired outsiders. Therefore, she was acting alone."

"Think it'll work?" Stiles asked, fascinated.

"I don't know, Stiles, I've never done this before!" Allison sighed again. "Neither have Mom and Dad. They're … really worried. And they're worried that there will be others."

"Others?" Stiles thought for a moment before knocking his head gently against the head-rest. "It might not have been the first time she did it."

"Everything went suspiciously well for her," Allison said. "Mom says that probably means she'd practiced on smaller packs. Or maybe G—Gerard did, and taught her. And if it was passed on from generation to generation like that, it looks less like a rogue hunter and more like the official policy of an inner cabal of Argent leadership."

"In which case, you're kinda screwed," Stiles said.

"Yep," Allison said. "So we're collecting affidavits from all the different branches of the extended family about what they understand our policies and traditions to be, and all the ways in which Kate violated them, and how none of us knew what she was doing until after she was dead. We just have to hope they believe us."

"Good luck," Stiles said.

"Thanks." Allison sighed. "I knew Mom and Dad had been looking worried for a while, and I guess I'm glad I know why, but it is so much work."

"Yeah." Personally, Stiles thought they should have noticed that Gerard and Kate were nuts a lot earlier—like, say, before Gerard started kidnapping and torturing high school students, if not before they started murdering innocent packs, but that wasn't Allison's fault, and he had a vested interest in not ticking off Scott's girlfriend.

"I've got to go," Allison said.

"Talk to you later," Stiles said. He started the Jeep again as she hung up, and pulled back out onto the road.




Derek was waiting for him at the Hale house when he pulled up. Stiles hadn't expected him there; although he'd wanted to talk to Derek, he also wanted to sit and think, and the burnt-out remains of the old house would help him focus on the question at hand when he got distracted.

"So?" he asked.

"So what?" Stiles said. "Insurance is important, but not enough to make that kind of commitment. Would you get married for insurance reasons? Particularly to someone you didn't like?"

"No," Derek said, rolling his eyes as if it were ridiculous. Which it was. That was the point.

"So, why are you trying to pressure a teenage boy into making a commitment that is just as important, if I'm understanding things, when he doesn't like the alpha? I mean, in a marriage it's supposed to be a partnership. A wolfpack is a dictatorship. If you don't trust the dictator, man …" Stiles shook his head. "Insurance isn't going to make up for it."

"An alpha isn't a dictator!" Derek protested.

"Wouldn't know it from your actions," Stiles said.

"But—"

"Do I need to remind you of your leadership style? Some highlights—or lowlights, as the case may be—of your less than stellar record?"

"But I was just trying to protect you guys." Derek was looking constipated. Or frustrated. Or possibly both. "The world's a dangerous place, and you're not ready to handle it!"

"So, when you bang my head against the wall—or my jeep—or whatever's handy, that's out of care and concern? Me, the squishy human who could get a concussion and wouldn't be fine in the morning?" Stiles laughed. "Pull the other one, it's got bells on."

"That's—"

"Different?" Skepticism bled out of Stiles' every pore. It was a good attitude. He'd worked hard to develop it, and he was proud of it. He watched interestedly as Derek huffed and dropped his eyes. That was a win for the visiting team. Stilinski, 10, Hale, 0.

"That was wrong. I'm sorry," Derek said.

"Sorry?" Stiles said. "For which time? Or just that I'm calling you on it when I have something you want?"

"For being a dick," Derek said. "For hurting you, for taking my problems out on the easiest target. I was wrong. I screwed up. Do you want to hear me admit it? I—"

"It's a first step," Stiles said.

"I'm trying to do better," Derek said. "I've been running on adrenaline and fear for too long. I've been disgracing my pack. I want to try to do better. I don't want to just react any more, and I don't want to screw up."

Stiles applauded. "Thank you! Pity you couldn't have thought of that, oh, a year ago." Salt in the wound, maybe, but Stiles was a big believer in helping people understand the depths of their own screw-ups.

"You think I don't know that?" Derek growled.

"Well, I'd be more likely to believe it if you'd started with that instead of trying to pressure Scott into your little club o' doom."

"I don't want it to be doom, and the larger we are, the less doom there'll be!"

"Unless you are the doom," Stiles pointed out.

"I'm trying to do better!" Derek pointed out. "What do I have to do to convince you?"

Stiles opened his mouth, and paused. Really, he had no idea. What could Derek do that would make up for the grief he'd given them? What could he do that would get them to trust him? "No clue," he said, going for honesty.

Derek growled a little, looking frustrated.

"What?" Stiles said. "Dude, this is not TV! This is real life! There's no handy reset button. Do I trust you to try to protect people from the things—besides yourself—that go bump in the night? Sure. Of course. No question. Do I trust you not to be a total douche who takes his temper out on people who can't fight back? Hell, no. And, you know, recognizing your problem is the first step, and I really hope you mean it and can turn things around, but I'll believe it when I see it."

Derek sagged. "Right," he said. "And that's not going to happen any time soon, I take it?"

"Nope," Stiles said. "And, dude, the more you harass me and Scott, the less likely it is to happen."

"But if I don't ask, it'll never happen!"

"Uh, do you have problems with English, or do you just not get that there is a difference between 'asking' and 'harassing'?"

"I didn't think I was harassing," Derek said, looking frustrated.

"Well, when you won't take 'no' for an answer, there's not much else it can be," Stiles pointed out. He studied the werewolf, the defeated slump of his shoulders. Derek wasn't a bad guy, just a jerk, and Stiles did feel a little sorry for him. Nobody had been at their best in the last year, and Derek's last decade had sucked. It wasn't enough to excuse him, but it was enough that Stiles might be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, in the future, if he really worked at being better.

Besides, he'd managed to pester Deaton into giving him details on some of the mystical injuries he couldn't treat himself that were covered under paranormal insurance, and how much getting a specialist would cost. It was mind-boggling. Deaton said they were all extremely unlikely to happen, but … not impossible. Given the impossible things Stiles had seen in the last year (werewolves, of course, being number one on the list), he wasn't ruling any of them out. Not with the way their luck had been going.

"Is there an auxiliary status?" Stiles asked.

"What?"

"An auxiliary coverage," Stiles said. "Some way of being pack-adjacent, for insurance purposes. So he'd be covered for the major stuff but not for the things that, say, Deaton could handle."

"No." Derek glowered at him.

"I mean, obviously, Scott would chip in to cover it," Stiles said, because asking Derek to cover him without joining was kind of arrogant.

"Doesn't matter, no such thing," Derek said.

"Huh." Stiles scratched his nose, thinking. "And what about me? How do I get supernatural insurance? As you pointed out, I am pack-adjacent, and if something happens to Scott or you guys I'm going to get dragged in—and I'm a lot squishier!"

"You can buy your own," Derek said. "You're not a hunter or an omega wolf, so it shouldn't be that expensive. Or you could join the pack, too, and you'd be covered under the pack policy—having an unbitten human looks good to the insurance policy, particularly when the pack's expanding. It makes us look less desperate."

"Oooookay, man, let's try this one step at a time," Stiles said. "If I can buy it on my own, let's talk about Scott, first."

They lapsed into silence, contemplating the issue.

"How about a trial run?" Derek said after a while.

"What?" Stiles had gotten distracted. Right. Werewolf insurance and joining the pack. Or not.

"We put Scott on the pack's insurance for the year, but he doesn't join. You too. But you both agree to come and participate in all the pack stuff and seriously consider joining if we get things together."

Stiles thought the 'we' was a bit much. "Like a trial run?"

"Exactly." Derek nodded.

"You realize, that if you're just as much of a jerk as you have been, that Scott and I will be out of here, right?" Stiles said.

"Yeah." He sounded grudging. "As long as you promise to let me know if that's likely to happen. And in time to fix things, not after you've made up your mind."

Stiles thought very hard. "Sure," he said. "Fair warning, how you treat Erica and Boyd and Isaac will be almost as important as how you treat me and Scott."

"Why?" Derek said. "I mean, I'm trying to be better in general, not just to get Scott into the pack, but why do you care?"

"Because it's show if you're treating Scott normally—the new normal—or just trying to get him into the pack," Stiles pointed out. "You treating us well in the trial period doesn't really matter if you turn into a raging asshole again once you put a ring on it."

Derek nodded. "Fair enough. Will you talk to Scott? The insurance paperwork needs to be done by next Friday, at the latest."

"Right," Stiles said. "Do you want our agreement down on paper?"

"No," Derek said, scowling at him. It sounded like he had only narrowly stopped himself from adding an 'idiot' onto the end of that. But he had stopped himself! "This is technically insurance fraud. At least until Scott joins the pack for real."

"So, no incriminating evidence, gotcha," Stiles said. "Okay! I'm glad we had this talk. It was very productive. Thank you!"

"We're hanging out as a pack twice a week this summer," Derek said. "Monday afternoons for training, usually, and Thursday evenings for fun and bonding. Unless someone's schedule changes unexpectedly."

"We'll be here Thursday, then," Stiles said. Today was Friday, unless he'd lost track, but starting things off on a fun night instead of a training day would probably be good. Also, it might take him that long to talk Scott around to it. "Should we bring anything?"

"It's game night," Derek said. "Board games and card games. Any you want to play, any snacks you'd be disappointed not to have. I'd rather have the paperwork done by then; we're cutting it awful close."

"I'll see what I can do," Stiles said, plotting out his plan of attack. If nothing else, he could get a list of supernatural maladies from Deaton, along with their symptoms, treatments, and the costs thereof, and read it until Scott caved.

"You have my number?" Derek asked.

"Yes, Derek, I have your number." Stiles rolled his eyes. "I have not magically lost it since the last time I had to call you to deal with werewolf shenanigans. And I will let you know what Scott says."

"Okay." Derek gave him a nod. "And Stiles—thanks."

"See, now, did that hurt? It didn't! I like appreciation, it's great. Keep up the good work, and maybe Scott and I will join for real!" With that cheery thought, Stiles waved goodbye and got in the Jeep. Maybe he should get Scott to ask Allison about insurance, he mused as he drove off. So it wasn't just Stiles talking about why it was important. Scott couldn't dismiss it as one of Stiles' obsessions, then. That would take care of the immediate need. If this didn't work out—if Derek reverted to bad behavior—well, they could figure it out next year.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-25 09:31 am (UTC)
endeni: (Default)
From: [personal profile] endeni
Yay, the Werewolf Insurance fic! Downlaoding from the AO3 to read on my ereader. ;)

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