Scott McCall has a heart-to-heart with Ethan.
Beacon Hills - 821 Williamson Road
The day is cool and bright and it gives Scott the perfect chance to get a little work done on his motorcycle. He's not an expert, by any means, but he knows how to maintain it. His tools are laid out on the concrete drive next to the bike and Scott himself is kneeling there, with the seat of the bike removed and the gas tank housing loosened so the teenaged werewolf can get at the sparkplugs. He's wearing jeans, a muscle shirt and sneakers. His expression is intent but relaxed, almost meditative, with a faint half-smile on his lips and an aura of calm that suggests he's in a good place, mentally. For a change.
Ethan Carver roars up on his own motorcycle, pulling to a stop at the end of the McCall driveway. Killing the engine and pulling off his helmet, he swings his leg over and hops off. "Hey, Boss," he says with a cocky grin as he approaches. "How's it hangin'?" He cocks his head a bit to one side, squinting at the bike being repaired. "Replacing the plugs?"
Scott McCall hears the motorcycle long before Ethan arrives and he looks up as the beta arrives. He gives the muscular young man a warm smile and nod. "Hey. And yeah. Want to help out?" As if he didn't specifically call and ask Ethan to come over for something. "I could use the extra hands." His tone is cheerful and friendly and his scent level and calm.
Ethan Carver cracks his knuckles, kneeling down to lean in for a closer look. "Where'd you get this old thing? I bet upkeep's a bitch." He glances at Scott before reaching in to try wiggling one of the plugs. "So uh...How's it going, man? You feeling better after...ya know."
Scott McCall grins and says, "Got it third hand, but it gets me to work and school. Usually. And I'm good. A lot better. I needed to get my head back in the game and get focused again. Hand me that socket wrench." And then, his warm brown eyes focusing on Ethan, "How about you, though? Are you settling in okay? With school and the pack and, um, the changes you and Aiden are dealing with?" Which is a very nice way of saying 'now that you aren't evil alphas anymore'.
Ethan Carver grunts a couple times, then looks at the tools laid out on the pavement, selecting one of them. "Glad to hear it, man. We were worried about you, ya know?" He reaches in again, this time with the tool, while stealing another glance toward Scott. "Yeah, it's all good. School's...well, ya know. School. Aiden's having fun up north with the Indians. Uh, Native Americans. Training hard and all that." He steals another quick glance as he pulls out the plug. "You know that giant monster form? He can do it now, which is pretty sweet." He scowls just a bit, mentally adding 'for him'. "Says he might be coming home soon."
Scott McCall takes the socket wrench and starts working the spark plug loose, as much by feel as by sight. "I guess that's good for him. It depends on what he's planning to do with that power." He focuses on Ethan again, even as his clever hands continue to ratchet the spark plug out of the housing. "I'm glad you decided to stay with us. The pack I mean. And you know, there's room for Aiden, as long as he's willing to live with our rules." He pauses a moment and then adds, "And dude, that giant form is a cool trick, but it's not as cool as knowing that your pack has your back."
Ethan Carver grins suddenly, leaning back and nodding. "That's what I keep telling him. But well...he's got this thing, see." He takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly. "It's no secret that, when we were young, our pack...our family didn't treat us the best. And well, Aiden sorta felt like it was his responsibility to protect me, even though I was just as capable as he was. But you know how brothers are, right?" He pauses, a flash of regret in his eyes. "Or maybe not. But anyway, ever since we lost our Alpha status, and especially the ability to merge, Aiden's been searching for something to give him that edge, ya know? That something extra he can use to keep us both safe." He shrugs one shoulder, glancing away again. "Guess he thinks Jason can give him that edge."
Looking up at Ethan and returning that grin, "I know what having a brother feels like." And then his expression is more serious as he says, "And I can understand wanting that edge, but it's not his job to protect you anymore. It's mine. I'm your alpha. And I'd be his, if he'd let me." In another tone of voice, that could have sounded demeaning or demanding, but Scott's expression and tone are open, gentle and soft. Despite everything that went on with the twins, the alpha obviously considers them to be his responsibility, both good and bad. His expression focuses a little more and he sets his jaw, showing off that distinctive profile as he says, "I want to protect all of my pack. Including you. And including Liam." He watches Ethan's face for a reaction to the young beta's name.
Ethan Carver's lips curl the tiniest fraction of an inch at the mention of Liam's name, but his heartbeat races for a moment, and his pupils dilate slightly. Either his feelings for Liam are genuine, or he's got some real control over his body's reactions. "We protect each other, Scott," he says in a low voice. "That's what packs, real packs, that's what they're all about. You lead us, but we've always got your back. That includes Stiles too, ya know. He might not be a wolf, but he's as much a part of your pack as me or Liam. Maybe even more."
Scott McCall nods and says, "I know that. Stiles is awesome. He's had my back since grade school. I just worry about him. He's human. And some of the stuff we get into...." The alpha shrugs uncomfortably. "And I know, none of us would be half as good without each other. And I'm ...glad... that you're getting close with the pack." His eyes suddenly narrow a bit, but his tone is still level as he asks, "But I gotta ask, man: do you think you're doing the right thing by Liam?" He finally gets the spark plug out and looks at it a moment before looking back up to Ethan. "Because, dude. I have to say something here you aren't going to want to hear."
It's about then that Stiles' Jeep pulls up to the curb. Maybe his ears are burning! After parking, Stiles hops out, slamming the door after him, and saunters over to where the two werewolves are talking shop while they work on Scott's bike. As he draws near, though, he slows to a halt, mid-stride, and because it's Stiles, he holds the pose and glances uncertainly between Scott and Ethan. "Er, hey--did I come at a bad time? 'Cause I can totally go." A beat, and he adds, of course, "And raid the 'fridge while you guys, uh... wolf through this thing. Or whatever." He stops to rub the back of his head, scrunching up his face, and adds, "Do you think there's gonna be blood? 'Cause I might not come right back if there's gonna be blood. Kinda over the bloody violence thing, just this minute."
Ethan Carver sucks in a breath, fixing Scott with a puzzled, almost hurt look. "Hey, I'm treating him right, if that's what you mean. I don't...I mean, loyalty is...." He lets his words taper off as the Jeep pulls up, and he turns his head to get a look at Stiles, then back to Scott again. "There's not gonna be blood, is there? You're my Alpha, and if you give me a direct order...But you're not gonna...." He takes another deep breath, steeling himself. "What is it you're asking, Scott?"
Nodding to Stiles, Scott smiles at his friend and shakes his head. He looks back to Ethan and there is a moment where he seriously considers letting that alpha power of his show in his eyes and ride in the air, surrounding Ethan with Scott's authority and power as a true alpha. But he doesn't want to force his beta to do anything. He wants to help Ethan find the right decision on his own. "There isn't going to be any blood and I'm not going to give you any orders about your love life, Ethan. I'm not Deucalion. And this isn't the Alpha pack." He seats the spark plug and asks, "Screwdriver, please?" After a moment, he says, "Ethan, it's not that your older. Well it is. It's that Liam is young. Fifteen. And he's young for his age. Sheltered. He's still a puppy. And you ... you're not." Scott's expression goes a little harder as he continues, "You've killed people. You've had relationships. You've lived a lot of life for your age. And a lot of that living was bad. And if you're with Liam, some of that is going to bleed over into him. Because that's how love works. And I believe you do love him. But I'm not sure that the best thing you can do for Liam is be with him. Maybe letting him grow up as slow and easy and carefree as he can be, as a werewolf, would be better for him."
Scott sighs and adds, "Look, dude, I'm not the expert on relationships here, but you are both my betas. And I want you both to be happy. But I don't want Liam to be the one who pays for your happiness with his innocence." Scott's tone is quiet but intense, his expression both sympathetic and searching. "Do you get where I'm coming from?"
Stiles takes a deep, slow breath and laces both hands behind his head before exhaling sharply, watching the two talk. He's known this talk was a long time in coming, and while he's decided to be supportive of Ethan after the former alpha has shown several times that he truly wants to be part of the pack and on the road to redemption, at the same time Stiles too has told him how protective he feels of Liam. And Scott's Liam's alpha. It's uncomfortable, but this talk has to happen. And Stiles has to pack Scott's play, not just because he's the alpha. Not just because Stiles is also worried about Liam. Not even just because Scott is his brother in every way that matters, and there's damn near nothing Stiles wouldn't do for him. The simple fact is, it's the right thing to do. Whether Ethan and Liam stick it out or not, someone has to play the "dad" or "big brother," here.
Stiles is just thanking god it didn't have to be him.
Ethan Carver's eyes drop first, and then his head lowers, as his shoulders hunch tensely. "I know what you're saying, Scott," he says, voice barely above a whisper. "I really do. I'd to anything to keep Liam safe, to protect him from...well, anything. Everything. Even me, if it came to it. But it's not as easy as that. I never planned to...I didn't mean for it...It just happened. I don't even know how it happened. Liam's not my usual type at all, and I sure wasn't his. I mean, he was straight before I came along, right?" His shoulders lift slightly in a shrug. "But it happened, and there's no turning back now. I can't...I can't be without Liam now, Scott." He slowly lifts his head again, though his gaze doesn't make it all the way up to Scott's face. "I let Aiden go almost a thousand miles away, so I could stay here with Liam. You and the pack, of course, but...mostly Liam. He makes me...." He takes another deep breath, finally meeting his Alpha's eyes. "He makes me want to be worthy of being your Beta, Scott."
Sighing, Scott sits back on his haunches and looks up at Ethan as the beta speaks. His expression is searching and thoughtful and more than a little skeptical. "If you really want to protect him, step back and give him time, Ethan. And don't you think the fact that he changed his whole orientation for you is a problem? Something to worry about?" He stands slowly and says, "Like I said, I'm not going to order you to do anything with your personal life. But you ARE older. More experienced. Stronger. And if one of you has to do what's right for both of you, it's going to have to be you." Scott wipes his hands on his jeans, "And you don't have to prove to me that you're worthy of anything. You just have to do what's right, whenever and however you can. Just like I have to. And like Stiles. And everybody else." He shrugs, "Just think about it. Maybe just taking a break for a while and seeing what happens. Because right now, dude, you're an orgasm and hug dispenser for a kid who hasn't had enough of either. And if your relationship survives a while without that, then it might be real."
Wince. Scott may have a point, but damn is it a... pointy one! Stiles even shoots Ethan a sympathetic look in spite of himself. Though at the end, there, he actually does make the huh, wow, well-played kind of face--you know, the one with the nodding, raised eyebrows, and kind of an exaggerated frown--at the "orgasms and hugs" line. Because, damn. Well-played. And despite the fact that about a dozen things leap to mind that Stiles really wants to say, he manages to bite his tongue. (Hard. Very, very, hard.) He drops his hands from his head, folding his arms across his chest, and tries very hard to manage a more stoic face. (It doesn't work. He still seems to be stuck somewhere between "support Scott" gear and "that's rough, buddy" gear.)
Ethan Carver squeezes his eyes shut, breathing deeply for a long moment, until his fists finally unclench. "I...I don't think I can do it, Scott." He finally opens his eyes again, glancing toward Stiles, then meeting Scott's gaze. "I mean, the orgasms, I can hold off on those. I'm not a horny fourteen-year-old. But I can't give Liam up entirely. And I don't think he'd let me, even if I could bring myself to do it. Those couple of weeks I spent up in Washington, those were hell, man. Even though we talked on Skype every night and got together on the weekends, it was still rough. On both of us. I mean, you musta seen how stressed he was. I just don't think...He's doing so good, Scott. He's happy. We hold hands in the hall between classes, and we sit together at lunch, and...I know I'm a couple years older, and a whole lot more experienced. But I don't push him, we're moving at his pace." He shrugs one shoulder again. "He's in charge, and honestly, that's how I like it."
The alpha gives Ethan a long, hard stare and then finally he sighs. "Liam is the first beta I ever made. In a lot of ways, he's like a little brother to me, now. But you're both old enough to make your own mistakes. And this IS a mistake, Ethan." He walks around the motorcycle, into the beta's space and reaches out to rest a hand lightly on the back of Ethan's neck, resting his own forehead against the other teenager's for a moment. It's an intimate gesture but not a sexual one. Reassurance that Scott isn't angry and isn't withholding his favor and affection just because Ethan isn't listening to him on this point. He takes a step back, hand resting on the muscular young man's shoulder and says, "But it's your mistake to make. And his. Just ... go easy. And remember that we're here for you. The whole pack." He jerks a thumb over his shoulder towards Stiles and grins. "Even monkey boy over there." And then, because he's the alpha and it's his job to provide, "Okay, you guys want pizza? There's an American Ninja Warrior marathon on tonight."
Stiles drops his arms to his sides, hands spread wide and palms forward, his mouth dropping open, in a full body oh, come on! sort of gesture. "Monkey boy? M-mon--me!? I'm monkey boy?!" Scandalized, thy name is Stiles Stilinski. He spends a good five seconds looking absolutely wounded, then lets his shoulders slump and a neutral expression settle onto his face. "...Oh, fine. Whatever! But we're getting good pizza. And I call the good seat." Because every living room has the good seat. The best seat in the house is obviously Melissa's recliner, but Stiles is definitely not calling that one. He's calling that one spot on the couch that's contested for its viewing angle, comfort level, and convenient within-reach-of-the-coffee-table-where-the-pizza-will-be location.
Ethan Carver's muscles actually relax considerably at the first touch of Scott's hand, and he gives his Alpha a grateful look. "Thanks, Scott. I know it's not easy, but me and Liam, I think we're good for each other. You'll see, it's gonna be okay." He can't help but smirk at the 'monkey boy' comment, eyes moving over to Stiles. "Hey, I've been called worse. Plus it sorta suits you, don't you think? Monkeys are a lot cleverer than people give them credit for...A lot like you." He breaks into a grin then, nodding to Scott. "Sure, pizza sounds good. And I love American Ninja Warrior! We should head over to my place though, watch it on the enormous screen Aiden insisted we buy. Damn thing takes up the entire wall...."
Scott McCall grins at Stiles. "You're monkey boy, we're wolf boys. It works." He nods at Ethan, still clearly not convinced but willing to let things play out as they will and pick up the pieces afterwards. It's the difference between being a friend and a dictator to him. And if that puts the burden on his shoulders, well, that's why he's the alpha. He says, "Good idea. But Stiles still gets to pick his favorite spot. Mainly because he's giving me a ride." All the alpha seriousness fades into the background. Now it's all about spending time with his pack and settling both their human and wolf sides. (Well, those that have wolf sides, that is.) "And we should call around to see who else wants to hang."