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Mating Ritual

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“Thanks again, guys,” Stiles said, opening the door for his friends to leave.

“Don’t mention it, man,” Isaac replied, patting Stiles on the shoulder on his way out the door. “Happy birthday again.”

“Happy birthday,” both Allison and Lydia said in turn with a kiss on the cheek as they left.

Scott hugged Stiles tight. “Congratulations,” he said, “we made it into adulthood.” They both pulled away with a grin. “Happy birthday.”

“Thanks, Scott,” Stiles replied. “We still on for tomorrow?”

“Ugh,” Scott replied with a disgusted expression. “Don’t remind me. Yes, we are still on for our next session of Werewolf Culture and Pack Law 101. Who knew werewolves could be so boring when writing their own history?”

“And to think you got the books from Allison’s dad.”

“Come on, Scott!” Allison called.

“See you tomorrow,” Scott and Stiles said at the same time and Scott left. Stiles waved once they’d gotten into their respective cars, then shut the door.

“Are you sure this was okay?” his dad asked when Stiles joined him in the kitchen to clean up.

“It was great, Dad,” Stiles replied. “After the past couple years, I think low-key is a good idea. A great idea, even.”

“It’s just, you know, 18 should be something more than pizza, movie, and a cake.”

“You forgot presents,” Stiles teased as he tied up the trash bag. “If I wanted more, I would’ve asked for more. You know that.”

John nodded and said, “I’ll take this out and you start on the dishes.”

Stiles handed over the bag and made quick work of the few cups and silverware that had been used.

As he finished making a sweep of the living room for stray trash, there was a knock on the door and Stiles answered it. Surprised, he said, “Um, hi Derek. What can I do for you?” Processing that Derek was clean-shaven and wearing a suit, he blurted out, “Oh my God! What’s wrong? What happened? Are we in trouble again?”

“What?” Derek asked, surprised. “No, we’re not in any trouble.” Narrowing his eyes, he asked, “Why would you think that?”

“It’s just that you’re, you know,” he gestured at Derek. “No stubble and a nice suit. Though I guess if we were in trouble, you’d be wearing something you wouldn’t mind getting ruined, considering how our things tend to go. And you wouldn’t have had time to shave. So what’s up?”

The crease in Derek’s forehead deepened the longer Stiles continued.

“Are you going to ask him in, Stiles?” John asked from behind him and Stiles jumped. “Good evening, Derek,” he said over Stiles’ shoulder. “Please, come in.”

Derek entered, glaring at Stiles as he passed. Stiles rolled his eyes and shut the door behind Derek.

“What can we do for you?” John asked.

“The three of us need to talk,” Derek said.

John showed him into the living room and Stiles followed, curious and fairly certain this wasn’t going to end well.

“Can I get you anything?” John asked Derek. “Something to drink? Some pizza? Piece of cake?”

“I’m good, thank you,” Derek said, sitting down on one end of the couch.

Stiles sat down on the other end of the couch and John took the chair closest to Stiles. They both waited patiently for Derek to start, but he seemed in no hurry to do so, instead studying his fingernails.

Finally, Stiles broke the ice. “Okay, so either you have something really important to tell us or a date really didn’t go well and you’re hiding.”

“Stiles,” John admonished quietly.

“What?” Stiles asked defensively. “It’s true – he’s neater and more formal than we’ve ever seen him.”

“You do have a point,” Derek replied with a small smile. “And it’s the former.” He hesitated for a few more seconds before clearing his throat and focusing on John. “I’m here to officially ask for your permission for Stiles to be my mate.”

“That’s up to him,” John replied evenly, his tone and expression giving away nothing. “He is 18 now, and therefore an adult by California law.”

Derek looked to Stiles and all Stiles could think was that this must be what going crazy must feel like because there was absolutely no reason for this conversation to be happening. He opened and closed his mouth a few times before finally, thankfully, “Why me?” came out. “And why do you need to mate anyway?”

Derek’s expression darkened and Stiles was certain he saw Derek’s eyes flash. Ooh, touchy subject. “Some of the other packs in the area think a mated Alpha with a pack will help secure the area. Between everything that’s gone here over the past decade between the Hales and the Argents and now us and the Alpha Pack – not to mention the Nemeton, it’s become a volatile area. And they don’t want their packs put at unnecessary risk.”

“Does this have anything to do with the uptick in mauled animals my deputies have found on the edges of the Preserve?” John asked.

Derek nodded. “A few Alphas have… stopped by. They’re using it as a statement.”

“A statement?” Stiles asked. “What kind of statement? ‘We’ll do this to you and your pack if you don’t do what we say?’”

Derek smiled wryly. “Something to that effect. And I picked you because you’re smart, a quick thinker – if it wasn’t for you, we would have made out a lot worse many times over. And as the Sheriff’s son, it would show them that I’m not trying to disturb the local populace and doing my best to fit in.”

Stiles gaped at Derek, surprised Derek was willing to give him a compliment while his dad asked, “Can we have time to think about it?”

“How far down on the list am I?” Stiles blurted out.

“Stiles,” his dad warned.

“What?” Stiles asked. “I’m sure I wasn’t Derek’s first choice and I’m just curious what sort of league I’m in.”

“To be honest, you weren’t even on the list,” Derek told him. “At least not to begin with.” Before Stiles could interrupt again, he said, “But it comes down to the fact that I trust you.”

Stiles’ brain threatened to stop working completely. Not only had Derek paid him a compliment, he actually admitted he trusted him. The only response his brain allowed was, “What about kids? Didn’t you say lycanthropy is hereditary in your family? Don’t you want that again?”

Derek shrugged, hiding his confusion at the change in topic. “I’m not really thinking about kids right now. And there are a lot of options out there now if and when I decide I’d like them.” He paused for a moment. “If *we* decide we want them. My mate and I, that is. Not necessarily you, because you might not agree. Plus, being an Alpha isn’t exactly a guaranteed thing, even if you’re related by blood. You’ve seen enough to know that by now.”

Stiles couldn’t help smiling. It wasn’t often – practically never – that he got to see Derek Hale so flustered. “If I accept being your mate, will I have to accept the Bite?” Stiles asked.

Derek shook his head. “No. I would like you to, if you did accept, but it’s not a necessity.”

“And how does it work, exactly? Wolves mate for life, right?”

Derek nodded. “They do. I know this is a *huge* decision to be putting on you, but it’s going to affect a lot of people both in the near future and for a long time down the road.”

“How will it affect violence levels?” John asked and Stiles had to keep himself from starting, having forgotten his dad was there.

“Once the other Alphas are satisfied, they’ll leave us alone and we’ll completely integrate back into the community.”

“Can I have your promise on that?”

“Definitely. Even if it means I have to chain up Peter. You can also have my promise that we’ll do what we can to help keep violence down in Beacon Hills as well.”

“And what about the Argents?”

“We were never the ones with a problem. But as you’ve seen since everything went down with Gerard, we’ve been willing to work together when necessary. And I can vouch for my pack that we’ll be willing to do it again in the future. If you want anything more than that, you’ll have to talk to the Argents.”

“And you’ll take care of Stiles?”

“With my life. It’s in the nature of the mating bond.” Derek went quiet for a moment, looking like he was gathering his thoughts. “I really do want to do right by this town and by the two of you. I have a lot of fond memories of Beacon Hills from before the fire and I’d like to continue making my home here. I also want to make my mother proud – she was an amazing Alpha. You would’ve liked her, Sheriff – the two of you are very similar.” He smiled ruefully. “And I think she’d like you, Stiles. She’d say I made a good choice in picking someone who would be willing to call me on my shit and keep me honest.”

Stiles wanted to tell Derek it wasn’t fair, playing the dead mother card, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Not when Derek was at the most vulnerable Stiles had seen him in three years. Instead, he said, “She sounds like a pretty awesome woman, from the few things you and Peter have said about her.” He looked at the clock on the DVD player and stood, John and Stiles following suit. “It’s late. I should go. Think about my offer. Talk it over with whomever you’d like.”

“How long does Stiles have to decide?” John asked.

“If you say the next full moon, I will smack you,” Stiles said. There was no way in hell he was making this decision in two days.

“It would be somewhat poetic to say that,” Derek replied with a smile, “but let me know in a week. Is that fair?”

Stiles nodded. “A week’s fair.”

John and Stiles both ushered Derek to the door and both shook hands with Derek before saying good-night. After closing the door behind him, Stiles leaned back against it.

“I’m sorry, but what the hell?!?” he said. “*Please* don’t tell me you’re considering talking me into doing it.”

John uneasily rubbed the back of his neck. “It does sound like a good idea – especially having help keeping Beacon Hills safe. And I like the idea of knowing Derek, and probably the rest of the pack, will keep you safe. I think you should talk to Deaton, see what he has to say. And check with Allison – maybe Chris has some books that will have some information about Alphas who took human mates in the past.”

“Why aren’t you freaking out about this?”

“Oh, I passed freaking out a *long* time ago – about the time I found out about werewolves. But this is going to be your decision. Whatever you chose to do, I’ll support it.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Stiles replied after taking a deep breath and meaning it. “I appreciate it. I think I’m going to go try to do some research on this.”

John nodded. “Don’t stay up too late.”

“I won’t.” Stiles gave him a small smile and headed upstairs.

 

First thing the next morning, Stiles headed over to Deaton’s office. He knocked on the door, knowing Deaton would be in the back. A moment later, the older man appeared, looking equal parts worried and frustrated. Seeing Stiles, his expression turned completely to frustration.

“Scott isn’t here, Stiles,” he said, letting Stiles in.

“I know. I need to talk to you.”

“Me?” Deaton asked in surprise, the frustration melting away.

“Yeah. It’s about Derek.”

Deaton held the door open. “Come on back.” Stiles followed him back as Deaton said, “If you want to talk, you’re going to have to help me clean cages.”

“I can gladly do that,” Stiles replied, reaching for a garbage bag and a pair of gloves. “So, yesterday was my 18th birthday. Had a very nice low-key party with friends. After they left, Derek showed up, looking very nice – spiffy suit, clean-shaven, whole nine yards. You know what he was doing? He came to ask my dad for his consent to ask me to be his mate. You heard me right – Derek Hale wants *me* to be his *mate*.” He shoved a handful of dirty newspapers into the bag harder than necessary. After a moment of quiet, he asked, “Aren’t you going to say something?”

“I was waiting for you to finish,” Deaton replied, closing the cage he was working on and looking at Stiles. “I think it’s a wise choice. Being male is an advantage – that way children are an intentional choice and how you handle going about that will send a strong message to the Alphas around you. You’re also a quick thinker and smarter than you let on. Those are both things that, along with your ability to see the bigger picture, have helped Derek a lot in the past. Since Scott hasn’t become an Alpha yet, outsiders will see him as an Omega and the rest of you as part of Derek’s pack, so they’ll consider you a logical choice, even if you are human.”

“Do you think it’ll really help keep Beacon Hills safer, though? Keep my dad safer?”

“I do,” Deaton replied with a nod. “Once Derek has mated, it will help him more firmly establish his territory and he’ll be able to keep other packs out much easier. Some of the closer packs may try to expand their territory into his, as a way of testing the mating bond, but it should hold fast and help keep them out.”

“And what about helping keep violence down within Beacon Hills? Can Derek really help do that?”

Deaton smiled wryly. “Yes and no. No because he won’t be working officially with the law. But since Beacon Hills falls within his territory, Derek, like most Alphas, will most likely see wrong-doers as another predator encroaching on his territory and therefore will do everything in his power to neutralize that threat, even if it means going outside of the law.”

“But I don’t think my dad would be able to handle that – knowing that Derek is a killer and not doing anything about it. It would be like when Derek came to town all over again.”

“Not exactly. Derek, or any of his Betas working on his behalf, will be much more discreet this time around – the perpetrator will either be scared straight or will have simply vanished to outside eyes. And your father seems like the type that is willing to see the shades of gray in things.”

“This is all well and good, but it still doesn’t help *me*. I just turned 18! I’m planning on going to college next school year and completely enjoying that experience – for *four* years. Plus, if I’m mated to Derek, there’s going to be no messing around, trying different things out, becoming a player – any of it.”

Deaton stifled a laugh. “There’s still enough time for all that. Well, the college experience at any rate. Derek’s timing is actually quite well-planned. If you accept within the next week or so, that will give the two of you enough time to form the mating bond and deal with any intruders before you have to go to college in the fall.”

“I can do that?” Stiles asked, surprised.

“Of course. Just because there’s a mating bond, it doesn’t mean you have to be joined to Derek’s hip. I doubt it would be a good idea to go very far, but anything within a relatively close distance should be safe enough. The two of you will still have to work to maintain the bond, but once it’s been established it’ll be a bit easier. So your main question is what’s more important? Self or community?”

Stiles sighed, knowing Deaton was right. “I get it. I just – I wasn’t expecting it, you know?”

“Hardly anyone ever does with this sort of thing,” Deaton replied with an assuring smile. “Use as much of the time that Derek gave you as you can to think about this and make a decision. If you need any more help, you know where to find me.”

“Thanks, Deaton,” Stiles said and headed out, depositing the gloves on the counter by the door.

He headed over to Scott’s house, surprised to find his best friend at the kitchen table pouring over a book, a large stack sitting next to him on the table.

“That’s an interesting summer reading list you’re still working on,” Stiles commented. “Even for you after you got on your MENSA kick.”

Scott laughed. “They’re from Allison’s dad. Apparently, they don’t have anything written down concisely, but a lot of their ancestors kept journals. And they had a tendency to capture and torture about a third of the werewolves they killed to get information on them.”

Stiles sat down next to Scott and grabbed the top journal. “Found anything interesting yet?”

“Nope. There have been a few references to True Alphas. Or, at least the werewolves’ lore about them.”

“Good for you, not so good for me.”

“What do you mean?” Scott asked, turning his attention to Stiles.

“Derek came over last night after you guys left with what is probably the weirdest birthday present *ever*. He wants me to be his mate. He thinks it’ll be better for the pack and for Beacon Hills. Something about pack law and stuff.”

Scott wrinkled his nose. “That is the *worst* birthday present *ever*.”

“I know, right? And I don’t know what to do.” Stiles threw up his hands in frustration.

“How long did he give you to decide?”

“A week.”

“At least he didn’t say the full moon.”

Stiles let out a bark of a laugh. “I told him that if he did, I’d smack him. And I probably would’ve flat out refused him.”

“Deaton would be able to give you better information than me.”

“I know, and I’ve already talked to him.”

“What about your dad? He needs to know – regardless of what you decide.”

“He knows. Derek talked to both of us. And he said he thinks that it’s a good idea, but he wasn’t going to influence me either way. Have you found anything in those books on Alphas with human mates?”

“Derek’s not going to make you take the Bite?”

“No – thank God. He wants me to, but said that was my decision too.”

“I haven’t seen anything yet, but then I wasn’t really looking.” He pushed a few of the books towards Stiles. “Knock yourself out.”

Stiles grabbed a book with a sigh and began flipping through it. After about an hour, he said, “Yeah, totally not going to become a lawyer. Most of this is pretty simple stuff – ‘do X, and Y happens’, but it’s so dry and boring it’s making my head hurt. And I haven’t found anything on Alphas needing to take a mate.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” Scott agreed. “I haven’t really found anything either, but there was one –” He flipped back a couple pages and reread a bit. “With the way this book’s written, it seems like they figure Alphas mating isn’t something they need to talk about because it’s just the natural thing for them to do.”

Stiles considered that for a moment before nodding. “It makes sense if you think about it. Both wolves and humans are social creatures and will naturally seek to form intimate attachments.”

Scott laughed. “Maybe you’re not cut out to be a lawyer, but when you talk like that, you could be a history professor. But what about the Alpha pack? None of them were mated.”

It was Stiles’ turn to turn back to a previously read passage. “They were something of an aberration, though. Sure, they would’ve gotten more power from each other and given Deucalion more power, because they were all Alphas, but because they were all Alphas, they didn’t really fit into the normal pack dynamics. And they only let Deucalion be the leader because he kept a very firm grip on them. It was a pretty uneasy alliance. I bet a lot of rules went out the window with them.”

After Melissa made them take a break to eat, they went back to it for the afternoon. As they settled in for a second round, Scott said, “I bet Derek’s pissed that he has to mate.”

“I think he is,” Stiles replied. “Though you know he’s not going to admit to it – lone wolf that he is can’t let on he cares about what anyone else thinks or says.”

“I am curious why I haven’t heard anything,” Scott said, leaning on an open book. “If I’m supposed to become a True Alpha, why aren’t they coming after me too?”

“For one thing, you aren’t actually one yet. Deaton said that means the other packs still view you as an Omega. And there is Allison. You two are practically mated according to everything I’ve read. So it probably won’t be an issue.”

“Okay, you’ve got me there,” Scott said and they went back to work.

They found precious little about Alphas mating with humans other than it happened with more frequency than one would think, the Alpha in question wasn’t looked down upon – especially if it was a politically motivated mating, and that the pack tended to rally around the human mate no differently than if the mate was a Beta.

After dinner, Melissa sent Stiles home. But instead of going straight home, Stiles drove around for a while, trying to clear his head, but his thoughts kept swirling about and refused to go into any sort of order.

He didn’t know what to do. He was flattered that Derek thought highly enough of him to come to him for help – and to admit that he trusted him and admired him. But this was such a big decision. There was no turning back if he did this and he hated that he felt guilty for wanting to put himself above his friends – if only for a little while. How shitty of a friend was he that, when he finally had it in his power to ensure their survival and protection, he actually hesitated in making that decision?

When he did finally return home, John gave him a pointed look, but said nothing, and Stiles went straight to bed.

“If you need any help, let me know,” Lydia said the next day at school. And of course she knew.

“Thanks,” Stiles replied, knowing it was pointless to get angry. Scott would have told Allison because he tells her everything. And if Allison knew, that meant Lydia would know.

Stiles was surprised that he was able to concentrate scarily well during school – better than he normally did – and the day flew by.

On his way through the parking lot, Derek pulled up between Stiles and his Jeep. “It hasn’t been a week yet, Derek,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes.

“I know. Get in the car, Stiles.”

“I have my own ride, thanks.”

Derek growled. “Get in the goddamned car, Stiles.”

“Yeah, okay.” Stiles quickly opened the Camaro’s door and slid in. They were moving before he even had the door all the way shut. “Where are we going?” Stiles asked, but Derek didn’t answer. They pulled up in front of the Hale house a few minutes later. Looking at the still dilapidated ruins of the house, he commented, “Ever thought of fixing this up as a summer home?”

“Out of the car,” Derek growled.

“Derek –”

Derek shut off the car. After getting out and slamming the door shut, he leaned down and said through the open window, “Get out of the goddamn car, Stiles.”

“Yeah, okay,” Stiles replied and got out of the car. Looking at Derek over the roof of the car, he asked, “Okay, so now what?”

“I’m going to make sure we’re alone.”

“Want me to come with you?”

Derek glared at him and Stiles held up his hands. Derek headed towards the side of the house and Stiles sat down on the steps with a sigh. “If you’re planning on keeping me here for the next week or until I make a decision, I’m going to need things – like clothes and actual food,” he yelled. “And definitely deodorant if this place doesn’t have running water – I’m sure you don’t want to have to smell me if I don’t shower or something for a few days.”

“You don’t need to be so loud,” came Derek’s response from the back of the house.

“You didn’t need to kidnap me,” Stiles tossed back.

“I didn’t kidnap you!”

“Then what do you call making me get in your car?” There wasn’t an immediate response and Stiles laughed. “I thought so.”

The front door opened and Derek came out and sat down next to Stiles. “Giving us a chance to have a discussion away from prying eyes and ears.”

In the ensuing silence, Stiles carefully studied Derek. In the bright sunshine, he seemed different – almost normal somehow. A lot less angsty and brooding, at any rate.

After a long moment, Derek said, “I don’t want you to think that I hate the idea of being mated to you. While I would rather not mate at all right now, there are a number of worse choices. I just wish we didn’t have to do it this way.”

“Would you have ever mated, given the chance?” Stiles asked.

Derek shrugged. “Probably. In time.”

“And would your mate have been male or female?”

Derek shrugged. “Either.”

“And would you have picked someone from your pack?”

“Probably. It makes the most sense and it’s what we tend to do.”

Stiles looked out into the woods for a long moment. “I get the why of all of this, but I don’t like it.”

“Neither do I. I don’t like that I have to pick someone now to keep everyone safe. It’s just another in a long list of things I’ve had to do since I came back to Beacon Hills to keep someone safe. And I want it to be over. I want things to just be for a while without us having to fight for them.”

“Are you a lot different from most Alphas?” Stiles asked, the question coming out before he really had a chance to think it through.

“I suppose so, from things Peter and my mom have told me. If things had gone differently, I may have even had a shot at being a True Alpha.”

“Wow.” Stiles wouldn’t have expected that.

Derek nodded. “But unlike Scott, I’ve always been more willing to use violence as a first resort. It’s in a wolf’s nature and I grew up in that environment.”

“But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t have, if things had been different,” Stiles replied, looking at Derek.

Derek shrugged again. “It’s a moot point now anyway. You’re a lot like Scott and Deaton. I respect that. I appreciate it. I know you’ll call me on my bullshit and keep me straight – which I know I’ll need since I tend to go with my gut when it comes to my pack.”

“Which isn’t necessarily wrong either,” Stiles interjected. “You just have to learn to temper your anger with a bit more patience.”

Derek paused for a moment and Stiles watched as the gears turned in his head. “And regardless of what you might think, I’ve never hated you. Been frustrated and exasperated with you more often than not? Yes. But it was more about your immaturity and your desire to do the right thing for everyone.”

He paused again and Stiles got the feeling Derek was probably mentally pulling his own teeth to tell him all of this. “Plus, I was still hurting from everything that had happened with my sister and Peter and then things just spun out of control from there. And it was hard to accept that Scott didn’t want to forsake all of you and join with me and be a part of my pack and become a werewolf.”

“The choice wasn’t his to make,” Stiles reminded him. “Unlike you, Peter didn’t give him that choice.”

“I know,” Derek replied. “Which is why I want to make sure that you exercise your choice as much as possible here. I want you to ask me questions and push back and do it on your own terms.”

“If you thought I wouldn’t, you’re sorely mistaken. I just – I don’t know where to begin. This is bigger than I could even comprehend to ask about. And it’s not exactly something I could research on the Internet or at the library.” Derek smiled at that and Stiles relaxed a little. Maybe there was someone behind his tough-guy façade he could be at least friends with after all. “And the idea that your whole family is made up of werewolves is mindboggling too. I mean genetically your whole family. That’s not something that comes up when you look up werewolves. I get that the pack becomes the werewolf’s family to an extent as well, but it’s always one of those things where they seem to leave their human family and friends behind once they’ve turned.”

“It’s easier that way,” Derek answered. “It’s hard to connect with people when you have to keep such a large part of yourself hidden.”

“Yeah, but even compared to, say, vampires, it’s not such a huge thing. Once it’s under control, you really only have to worry about one night a month and be wary of extenuating circumstances. There’s no reason why more werewolves couldn’t take Scott’s route.”

“Many have. Granted, in most cases, the Alpha in question wasn’t Peter.” They both laughed. “He’s always going to be a loose cannon,” Derek added.

“I figured as much,” Stiles replied. “Will he respect my place in the pack?”

Derek nodded. “I doubt he’ll make it easy for you at first, but he knows the status that an Alpha’s Mate affords and won’t do anything to upset it, especially since he knows whatever he does to you will be seen as an attack on me by myself and the other Betas.”

“Are you so sure that I’ll accept?”

“No. I would like to be, but I know it’s not going to be a done deal until you give me your answer. And I like that.”

“Really? You’re such a control freak!”

“I know. But I want what’s best for the pack, and I think you’ll be best for the pack. You’ll keep me honest.”

“And what about, you know, physical stuff?”

“What about it?”

“Well, you know – the word mate tends to invoke the idea of sex and physical intimacy and all. And while I’ll agree that you’re a very good-looking guy and I don’t really care either way about being physically intimate with a guy, I just don’t know if I could be physically intimate with you. At least not on a regular basis.”

“That’s something we can work around. And the mating bond does help with that. It,” he paused, as if choosing his words carefully, “the bond helps ease the way. It won’t make us fall madly in love, but the idea of physical intimacy won’t be abhorrent.”

“It’s not abhorrent now. It’s just not – it’s more of I don’t care.”

“Worried about performance issues when the time comes?”

Stiles scoffed. “I’m an eighteen-year-old male. Performance issues right now are the least of my worries. It’s just more of – I’d always figured I’d actively desire the person I’d end up with in the long-term, you know? And I’m sorry, but as hot as you are, I don’t actively desire you.”

“I’m okay with that,” Derek replied. “I don’t actively desire you either. At least not right now. It’ll come in time, though.”

Surprised, Stiles asked, “What makes you so sure about that?”

“I’ve seen it happen before. It’s a lot like a traditional arranged marriage.” Derek’s mouth quirked up in a smile. “Werewolf business aside.”

Stiles laughed and Derek looked at him sharply. “This is all just so surreal. Once everything with Deucalion finally finished, I figured my biggest problem was going to be getting through senior year and picking out a college. And then this happened.”

“At least you’re most of the way through senior year.”

“And I’ve got a couple colleges picked out.”

“Oh, really?”

Stiles nodded. “But we’ll get into that later. Let’s focus on the task at hand.” He paused for a long moment, trying to get his thoughts in order. “I want this. A large part of my brain is telling me it’s a Very Bad Idea. And I’m sure that it is – for me. But in a ‘big picture’ way, this is a very good thing. It’ll help keep you, Cora, and Peter safe. But more importantly, it’ll help keep my dad, Scott, the rest of my friends, and Beacon Hills safe. And I can’t honestly say no to something that’s going to keep them safe. Especially since we’ve seen some of what’s out there. And if it’ll help against the stuff we haven’t seen, all the more reason to do it, right?”

“Right,” Derek replied.

“And I think this is probably a case of ‘the devil you know’ being a good thing. We know each other. We know how to deal with each other. Mostly. At least this way you won’t have to deal with someone you don’t know. What happens if you can’t find a mate on your own?”

“The usual action is to kill all of us and expand their territory. Or they could take make me take a mate of their choosing – which is never a good thing. Or they could kill me and try to force Scott to become an Alpha.”

“No wonder you’re so eager to find a mate. None of those sound like pleasant options.” Stiles let out a shaky breath. “I’ll do it. Even though most of my brain is telling me not to and that it’s a bad, bad idea. I need to make sure that my family is safe.”

“That’s all I want to do too,” Derek replied softly.

And for not the first time, Stiles got the impression that Derek had been lonely and desperate more often than not since the fire and wanted to rebuild what he’d had before the Argents had come into his life the first time.

“So now what do we do?” Stiles quietly asked.

“It’s up to you,” Derek replied. “We could do the bonding now and get it done with, then tell everyone else. We could tell them first and do it later.”

“We should tell them first,” Stiles said, not looking at Derek. He curtailed Derek’s attempt to speak by looking at him sharply and continuing, “Not telling your pack what you’re doing and not giving them a chance to weigh in after everything we’ve done and went through together isn’t a good way to build trust. I get that a pack isn’t exactly a hotbed of democracy and we’re going to do this regardless of what they say, but this is *not* something you want to spring on them – especially since it’s going to affect all of them.”

“Okay,” Derek replied. “How do you want to do it?”

“We’ll invite them over to your place for dinner tomorrow night and we’ll tell them there. And, foregoing any death or dismemberment, we should be able to do the ceremony before the full moon.”

Derek stood and brushed off his jeans. “So what are we having for dinner, Chef Stiles?”

Stiles stood as well and they headed back to the car. “Not Chinese or steak – I don’t want to have to worry about getting hurt with pointy objects.”

“How about lasagna?”

“You can cook lasagna?”

“Sure,” Derek replied, shrugging to say ‘doesn’t everybody?’ and they got in and he started the car.

“Okay, lasagna it is. What time?”

“Do you have lacrosse practice tomorrow?”

“No. Season finished last week and Coach is giving us a week off before we start indoor track training.” Stiles pulled out his phone. “So we’ll have to make sure Peter, Cora, Isaac, Scott, Lydia, Allison, and my dad know. Anyone else you can think of?”

“Want to include Scott’s mom and Allison’s dad while you’re at it?” Derek replied sarcastically.

“We could. If you wanted. But I have a feeling they’re going to find out quickly enough.”

“Sounds good. What about the twins?”

“We can give them a heads up what’s going on. It’s their choice to not have or be a part of a pack right now.”

“Okay.” Stiles quickly started texting his friends. “What about Deaton – should we invite him since he already kind of knows? And you’ll tell Peter and Cora, right?”

“Of course I’ll tell Peter and Cora. And I think we can just tell Deaton that you agreed. Seven o’clock.”

“That’ll work. My dad should be home by then.” Message sent, he stuffed the phone back in his pocket.

The rest of the ride back to the school was quiet, but Stiles was surprised that it wasn’t completely uncomfortable. When he got out of the car in front of his Jeep, Derek gave him a small wave before quickly driving off and Stiles watched him go. Getting into his Jeep, he sat there for a long time, not sure how he was going to tell his dad what he’d done.

His dad was already home and cooking dinner when he got in. “Everything okay?” he asked as Stiles dropped his book bag by the steps.

“Yeah,” Stiles replied, joining him. “I, um – Derek and I had a talk today. And I agreed to be his mate. The best reasons I can think of for not doing it all seem selfish and stupid when you put them against wanting to keep everyone else safe. Wanting to keep *you* safe.”

John put down the knife he was using to cut up potatoes and said to Stiles, “I’m not going to pretend this arrangement makes me happy either, but I get why the two of you are doing it. And I think it’s very noble and mature of you to agree to it. But if he does anything to you that you don’t like or aren’t comfortable with, make sure he knows it and if you need to, let me know. I can have his ass in a cell quicker than you can say ‘Derek Hale’.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Stiles replied with a smile. “We’re, Derek and I, are having everyone over to his place tomorrow to tell them and I’d like you to be there too. It’ll be at seven.”

“I’ll be there,” John replied with a nod. “If only to see the looks on everyone else’s faces when you tell them what’s going on.”

Stiles shook his head in amusement. “I think it’s going to be insane. We may have to record it for posterity.” Stiles’ phone rang and he pulled it out. “It’s Scott. Can I –” he pointed to the hallway and John nodded and mouthed ‘fifteen minutes’. Stiles answered, “Hey, Scott,” as he headed into the living room. “What’s up?”

“What’s this about meeting at Derek’s tomorrow night?” Scott asked. “And where were you after school?”

“I was with Derek after school. We were talking about the whole mating… thing. He’s going to tell everybody what’s going on tomorrow.”

“It’s nothing bad is it?” And Stiles heard a note of anxiety in Scott’s voice.

“No, not really. Nothing we can’t handle. Better than most of the things we’ve had to handle, actually. Just come tomorrow night, okay? Everything’s going to be fine.”

“Okay. I’ll see you in school tomorrow.”

“Yeah, see you tomorrow.”

“Everything okay?” John asked when Stiles rejoined him in the kitchen.

“Yeah, everything’s fine.” Stiles set the table.

“Does Scott know about Derek’s offer?” John asked carefully.

“He knows that Derek offered. He doesn’t know that I’ve accepted yet. I figured it would be easier if we told everyone tomorrow and got everything out in the open at once. Plus, then Peter, Derek, and Cora could probably answer most, if not all, of the questions that might come up.”

“How do you feel about having Peter as an in-law?”

“At least now I can kill him and no one will question it,” Stiles said mischievously and John smiled.

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of calls we’ve gotten about crazy in-laws,” John admitted.

School passed by in a quick blur the next day and Stiles was thankful for that. A quick check with Scott before he left confirmed that he didn’t do or say anything to embarrass himself (at least nothing more than normal) and then he’s on his way home to do homework and get ready.

He’d finished up in the shower by the time his dad got home, and they don’t say much to each other as Stiles gets dressed and his dad also showers and gets ready.

Once they were in his dad’s car and on the way to Derek’s, John asked, “So, what’s the protocol for tonight?”

Stiles shrugged. “Don’t know. Derek just said that we were going to have dinner and tell everyone about what’s going on. I’m hoping that for something this big, he’d tell me if anything else was involved. We can badger him when we get there. Turn in here.”

“Good, you’re here early,” Derek said when he opened the door, dish towel slung over his shoulder, the smell of lasagna wafting in the air.

“Yeah, I figured it would be a good idea,” Stiles replied entering the apartment, “considering we’re kind of hosting it together.”

Derek and John shook hands as John entered. John held on for a moment longer and leaned in to say, “If you hurt my son, no one will *ever* find your body.”

“Fair enough,” Derek replied with a nod.

John nodded as well and released Derek’s hand. Stiles rolled his eyes and asked, “So where are Cora and Peter?”

“Cora’s upstairs and Peter’s out getting wine,” Derek said, shutting the door. “Something about civilized meals needing alcohol.”

“I think he knows what’s coming and wants an excuse to drink.”

“Quite possibly. I need you to make the salad.” He pointed to the vegetables that had been dumped on a cutting board next to a large bowl.

“What can I do?” John asked as Stiles began cutting up the vegetables.

“Relax,” Derek said. “I may need you to arrest people later. Can I offer you anything? I’ve got beer, wine, water, juice....”

“Water’s fine for now.”

They were quiet for a while as Stiles worked and Derek checked the lasagna and poked at the bread.

“Did you make bread too?” Stiles asked.

“I was bored,” Derek replied.

“How will this work?” John asked. “Will Stiles have to live with you? Will there be a proximity limit? Will you have to turn him?”

“Stiles doesn’t have to become a werewolf, but he can if he wants,” Derek replied, leaning back against the counter next to the stove so he could look at John and crossed his arms over his chest. “Things are better in general for everyone if the Alpha’s mate is also a werewolf, but it’s not necessary. I would never risk his life if it’s not necessary. It’ll be better if he does live with me, but we’ll have a bit of leeway on when he’ll have to do that.”

“And how does he become your mate?”

“There’s a little ceremony the two of us have to go through and we,” he cleared his throat and looked at the floor. “We have to have sex.”

“Have you had sex with another guy before?”

“Dad!” Stiles said in surprise, turning bright red.

“I just want to make sure he knows what he’s doing,” John protested. “I don’t want you getting hurt.”

“I have done it a couple times,” Derek replied. “And I’m clean. I’ve always been careful.”

There was a knock at the door and Stiles muttered, “Thank God!”

A second later there was the sound of a key in the lock and Peter entered with a bag, followed by Isaac, Lydia, Scott, and Allison. “Look who I found outside,” Peter said dryly as he set the bag down on the counter. “So when are you going to tell us the big news?”

“Once dinner has been served,” Derek replied, turning back to the oven to check the lasagna and the bread. “Not too long now.”

“Hey, guys,” Stiles said, dumping the rest of the vegetables in the salad bowl and taking the cutting board and knife to the garbage to dump the peelings.

“Hey,” they all replied.

“So what’s going on?” Lydia asked. “We starting a new tradition of dinner at the Alpha’s house?”

“If you want,” Derek replied with a smile. “It’ll be nice to have people around again.”

“No, it won’t,” Peter scoffed and opened a bottle of wine.

“Ignore him,” Derek replied. “Could you set the table?” he asked Stiles, handing him a stack of plates.

“I’ll help,” Allison said, taking the silverware and napkins. When they were at the table, she quietly asked, “This is about Derek asking you to be his mate, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Stiles replied, glancing up at Derek, who was laughing at something.

“Are you out of your mind?” she hissed.

“Probably, but it’s for a good reason.”

“There isn’t a good reason! Derek’s an Alpha and Peter was an Alpha and wants that position back and this can’t not end badly!”

“That’s been a possibility since Peter came back,” Stiles replied, setting down the last plate. “I know what I’m doing, Allison.”

“I sure as hell hope you are.”

They rejoined the group and Derek was pulling the lasagna out of the oven. After setting it on the stove top, he pulled out the bread and set it next to the lasagna. He made sure everyone had something to drink, then called up for Cora. She came down immediately and made her hellos.

Once the food and everyone was settled at the table, Derek deftly dished it out and they began eating.

After a few bites, Peter said, “So are we going to deal with the elephant in the room, or are you going to continue pretending it isn’t there?”

Derek cleared his throat and wiped his mouth before looking around the table, finishing with Stiles on his right. Stiles did his best to say relaxed and not look like a deer caught in the headlights as Derek said, “Due to everything that’s happened over the past few years, the Alphas of the other packs in the area are pressing me to take a mate. They think, and they’re mostly correct, that it will help keep things here stable and safe.”

“But Deucalion and the Alpha pack wasn’t your fault,” Scott said.

“I know and he wasn’t yours either,” Derek replied. “But if I had a mate, that would have helped things. Like Betas, a Mate helps with the power levels in a pack. To comply, I decided to ask Stiles and he’s accepted.”

The fervor that erupted from the table surprised Stiles. His dad and Derek were calm about it, his dad resolutely picking at the food on his plate and Derek watching everyone else and letting them wear themselves out.

When they stopped to take a collective breath, Derek evenly asked, “Are we done yet?” and everyone’s mouth snapped shut. “I realize this is an unpopular decision, but it was the best one I could make with a clear conscience on short notice.”

“The best one?” Peter spat out. “There were a number of better ones and they’re sitting at this table!”

“Incest is out, even for us, Uncle,” Derek spit out. “And so are Allison and Scott, given his status and the fact that they’re together. Anyone who can’t see that she’ll be his mate once he becomes and Alpha is blind and stupid.”

“That still leaves Isaac and Lydia,” Cora said gently.

“Both are worthy candidates,” Derek acknowledged, “and I did actually consider them, but I believe that Stiles is the better choice.”

“How is he better?” Isaac asked angrily. “He isn’t even a full member of your pack. He’s not even a werewolf!”

“Both true,” Derek replied. “But given that his father is the Sheriff and Stiles’ own position in the community, it makes sense. And I trust him. Not only is this a way to make sure *all* of you are protected, it’s also a way to reach out to the community, to Beacon Hills, to prove that I, that we, mean them no harm and are willing to live in peace with them.”

“Peace?” Peter spat out. “We’re *wolves*! We’re *predators*! It is our right to do as we please!”

“Not at the expense of our safety,” Derek countered. “Wolves in the wild live, however uneasily, in balance with other predators – even humans – for the safety of themselves and their pack. They only kill to eat or out of self-defense. And as long as you’re in my pack, you’ll abide by my rules.”

Peter slumped back in his chair, quiet, but glaring daggers at Derek, apparently knowing when to keep his mouth shut.

“What does this mean for Stiles?” Lydia asked.

“Not much,” Derek replied. “As my mate, it’ll afford him more protection from the pack,” Isaac hmphed at that, “which will be instinctual. And he’ll have a say in how we handle things.” Looking at Scott and Allison, he said, “You two have been very quiet.”

“I don’t know what to think,” Scott replied. “If it’ll keep Stiles safe and be good for the pack and the town, then great. But at the same time, it’s weird.”

“I agree,” Allison said. “I think it’s a bad decision to drag Stiles deeper into this, but if it ends up being a good thing overall, I won’t say anything.”

“Your dissent is duly noted,” Derek replied.

“And he didn’t drag me into it,” Stiles said, speaking up for the first time. “I made the decision for myself, by myself.”

“What does your dad say?” Peter asked, leaning his elbows on the table and gesturing towards John with his wine glass, but looking at Stiles.

“I can speak for myself,” John replied. “I’m not particularly pleased with this whole situation, but I’m in agreement with Derek – if it keeps Stiles and Beacon Hills safer, then I’m all for it. Besides, Stiles is an adult and can make the decision for himself.”

“Touché,” Peter said and took a sip of his wine.

There was an uncomfortable pause before Cora said, “Welcome to the family. Both of you. When will you do it?” she asked Derek.

“As soon as possible,” Derek replied. “But we haven’t made plans.”

“It’ll be better if it’s after the full moon. We’re too close to it now for it to be good for him.”

Derek nodded. “I was thinking that as well.”

“Can we not talk about me like I’m not here?” Stiles asked.

“Can you talk about this when I’m not here?” Peter asked. He drained his wine glass and then poured himself another full glass.

Ignoring Peter, Derek said to Stiles, “We’ll discuss it later.” To everyone else, he said, “I hope the meal hasn’t been completely ruined. Can I get anyone anything?”

Stiles sighed inwardly as the conversation slowly shifted to safer topics and the eating resumed. Derek was a consummate host through all of it and Stiles wondered if this was what he would be like as an Alpha when things weren’t crazy and he had an actual, official, pack.

John and Stiles stayed behind afterwards to help clean up after everyone else had left and Cora and Peter had disappeared.

“Thank you for dinner,” Stiles said as he and Derek did the dishes and his dad relaxed with another glass of wine. “It was really good.”

“You’re welcome,” Derek replied. “I enjoyed it. I’m sorry about Peter.”

Stiles shrugged. “I was expecting him to be an asshole, so I’m not surprised. So now what?”

“Cora’s right – we should wait until after the full moon to do the mating. It’ll be safer that way.”

“Okay. Do I need to do anything to, you know, prepare?”

Derek shook his head. “No. You’ll be fine. How about Friday night? Sometimes these things can be intense.”

“Okay. Should I bring stuff to stay the weekend? How long do these things usually take?”

“At least bring stuff for overnight because it depends. For some, it goes really quickly and for others it takes a while. We can decide as we go.”

Stiles finished drying the last dish. “Do you mind if we take off?”

“Not at all,” Derek replied with a soft smile. “Good night, Stiles.”

“Thank you for the delicious meal,” John said, standing and holding out his hand.

Derek shook it. “I take it the show wasn’t to your liking?”

“I’m more partial to comedies.”

“Fair enough. Thank you for coming.”

Once in his dad’s car, Stiles said, “Thanks for tonight.”

“You’re welcome,” John replied, starting the car and pulled out onto the street. “As far as ‘meeting the family’ goes, I’ve heard worse stories. At least there was no bloodshed – and this one had the most potential.”

Stiles laughed. “Yeah, no kidding. Are you really okay with this, Dad?”

John nodded. “As much as I can be right now. Obviously, this is not the path I would have chosen for you, but if it ends up keeping you safe, I can be okay with it. Do you think you’ll be able to be happy?”

Stiles shrugged. “I guess. There are worse guys to be shackled to than Derek Hale. I’m sure it’ll be better the more I get to know him.”

“Good. I’m glad to hear that.”

 

The next two days passed in a blur, much like Tuesday had. At the end of lunch on Thursday, Stiles grabbed Lydia. “Can I talk to you?” he asked.

“Sure,” she replied as they went into a deserted class room. “What’s up?”

“What’s sex like?” Stiles asked.

“What?” Lydia asked, surprised and slightly offended.

“What’s sex like?” Stiles repeated.

“It’s a lot of things,” Lydia replied. “It can be really good or really bad, painful or pleasurable – or sometimes both, or –” Her eyes widened. “You’re asking because of Derek, right?”

Stiles nodded. “Look, the best thing to do is to be as relaxed as possible. The first time tends to hurt. And make sure he’s good to you, okay? It’s supposed to be special, so make sure he makes it special.”

Stiles laughed. “Any other tips you can give me?”

“Oh, honey, we don’t have time for the tips I could give you. Not about him specifically, mind you – though I have thought about him, but about guys and sex in general. I guess the most important is – the head of his penis? *Really* sensitive. Use that to your advantage. Blow him right, and he’ll be eating out of the palm of your hand.”

“And what about Aiden?”

“What about him?”

“What’s sex with him like?” Stiles asked, as if it should be obvious.

“Oh, he’s great. A lot more forceful than I’m used to, but I like it a lot. And he’s definitely got stamina.”

The bell rang and Stiles sighed. “Thanks, Lydia.”

“No problem. Let me know how it goes, okay?”

Stiles nodded and they headed to their next class.

After school, Stiles grabbed Danny on the way out to his bus and pulled him into an alcove. “Can I talk to you?”

“Sure, about what?” Danny asked, hoisting his backpack strap up a bit higher.

“What’s sex like for you?”

Danny blinked at him for a moment. “Usually good, why?”

“I’m just curious. Because, you know, I think there might actually be something to this whole me being gay thing and I’m just trying to get some more information. So tell me all about it.”

“You’d have to be more specific,” Danny said. “There’s a lot to tell.”

“Okay, um. How’s sex with Ethan?”

“I don’t kiss and tell.” Danny started to walk past Stiles and Stiles grabbed his arm.

“Please,” Stiles said. “I don’t need *details* details. Broad strokes are *totally* fine.”

“Ethan’s great – probably some of the best sex I’ve had. He can really go at it once he gets started. I usually have trouble sitting the next day.” Danny grinned despite himself at that.

“And is he, um, okay with reciprocation?”

“Sure, if we’re both in the mood for it. I need to go or I’m going to miss my bus.”

“Thanks, Danny.”

“Um, sure.” Danny headed towards the exit, looking back once like Stiles was crazy.

“Brain about to melt out of your ears?” Scott asked, joining him.

“It commenced about two days ago,” Stiles replied. “Maybe more. How long *does* it take for your brain to melt sufficiently to come out of your ears?”

“That’s not something I care to find out,” Scott replied and they headed towards the exit. “So what’s the plan, then?”

“I’m going over to Derek’s tomorrow night. From what it sounds like, it just depends after that – some bondings are done quickly and others take a while. Any suggestions?”

“Stay yourself,” Scott replied with a small smile.

Stiles chuckled. “No problem there.” They stopped at Scott’s bike. “Believe me, I am doing this of my own free will. I want you and Allison and Lydia and my dad to be safe. I don’t have your... enhancements and I don’t have Allison’s training, so I’m doing what I can.”

“I know,” Scott replied. “And I appreciate it. I just wish there was a different way we could do this.”

“If it’s any consolation, I think Derek does too. He doesn’t seem particularly pleased that he’s being forced into this.”

“I don’t think anyone would be.”

“What’s sex like?”

Scott grinned. “It’s great, dude. It’s one of the best things ever.”

“Yeah, but you love Allison and she loves you, so that has to add something to it. Derek and I… we deal with each other. We have this wary friends-because-of-Scott thing going on.”

“From what I’ve heard, that’s not the worst place to be in to have sex.”

Stiles laughed as Scott got on his bike. “You’re no help at all. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Scott started his bike and waved before heading out.

Stiles sighed as he got into his Jeep Friday afternoon and glanced at the duffel bag in the passenger seat. He’d decided on playing it safe and had packed enough for the whole weekend. His dad had given him a skeptical look that morning, but hadn’t said anything. He just handed over a few condoms and a tube of lube with a quiet “Just in case”. Stiles had nodded, then hugged his dad tightly.

Pulling away, he’d said, “I’ll be back. Monday after school at the latest, but hopefully before. This isn’t like Beauty and the Beast.”

“Isn’t it?” John had asked.

Stiles had laughed. “For one thing, he doesn’t have a castle. Or talking appliances.”

He called Derek. “I’m on my way over,” he said when Derek picked up.

“Okay,” Derek replied. “What do you want to do for dinner?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. Not really in an eating mood right now.”

“Okay. I’ll see you soon.”

Stiles threw his phone on the passenger seat and started the Jeep. The short drive to Derek’s felt like it took forever. When he got there, Stiles sat outside for a long time, staring at the building and trying to decide the best way to keep on the offensive.

His phone rang. “Yeah, Derek?” he answered.

“Are you planning on coming up any time soon?” Derek asked.

“Just giving you a few minutes to remember to hide your porn stash. I don’t need to know what sorts of things you jerk off to.”

Derek growled lowly, but didn’t otherwise reply to the comment. “Get your ass up here.”

When Stiles got up to Derek’s apartment, the door was open. Stiles shut it behind him and dropped his duffel and book bag by the door. “Hello,” he called out.

Derek came down the steps. “Don’t worry – we’re the only ones here. Cora is having a sleep over with Lydia and Allison – for the whole weekend, if need be. And Peter has agreed to make himself scarce.”

Stiles nodded and stuck his hands in his pockets. “So now what?” he asked.

“Do you want to get started or get comfortable?”

“Let’s get started. I’d like to have at least a little time to do my homework this weekend.”

“Why don’t you do it now and get yourself acclimatized to the place while you’re at it?”

“I’ve been here enough times that I don’t need to be ‘acclimatized’.”

“It was just a suggestion,” Derek replied, backing off a bit. “Would you like something to drink? Or something to eat?”

“I’m good for now. But I think I will take you up on that idea of doing my homework now.”

Derek nodded and Stiles grabbed his book bag. He sat at the table and soon had his books and notebooks spread out over most of the surface. Derek joined him and read the newspaper while Stiles worked. Stiles couldn’t help but admit that it was more comfortable than he expected. Derek wasn’t a looming presence, he was just... there.

When he finished up and was putting things away, Derek asked, “Are you usually frustrated with science?”

“Not usually. The teacher’s a pain in the ass. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually miss Mr. Harris.” Zipping his bag up, he asked, “Now what?”

“Hungry?” Derek asked as he folded up the paper.

“What’s with wanting to feed me?”

“Just want to make sure you’re comfortable. After everything with Paige, I’ve been...”

“Skittish about falling in love?”

“Yeah. Things with Jennifer Blake didn’t really help either.”

“I’m not asking for love, you know. Or even sex, really.”

Derek smiled. “I know. But there does have to be at least a little bit of sex – to get the bond started.”

“I figured,” Stiles replied, glad he’d slipped a condom and the lube into his pocket before he’d come in.

Derek stood. “Let’s go upstairs and get this started then.”

Stiles nodded, for once glad of Derek’s straight-forward attitude. He got up and followed him, curious what his bedroom would look like. Stiles was surprised to see that it was smaller and more comfortable than he expected – softer, earthy colors, what looked like a down comforter on the queen-sized bed, books and magazines on every available surface, an antique armoire in one corner next to a full-length stand mirror, an armchair in another corner across from the bed, and a few lamps of various sizes around the room, giving it a soft, warm glow.

“Not, um, not quite what I expected.”

Derek laughed. “Usually isn’t. The few people I’ve brought here all seem to expect a California king four-poster bed. And I think whips and chains.”

Stiles laughed. “Actually, I was expecting you to be a slob with little furniture.”

“Because of the Hale house?”

“Partly. And because of how downstairs looks.”

“Ah.” Derek sat on the edge of the bed and bent down to take off his shoes and socks. “I’m sorry this isn’t going to be very romantic or whatever you were expecting.”

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Stiles admitted. “Sure, I’ve thought about having sex and I want to have sex, but that was basically where it ended. Well, aside from wanting to have sex with Lydia. That I’ve thought about a lot.”

“I’ll do what I can to make it good for you.”

“I appreciate that. So are you,” Stiles cleared his throat. “Are you bisexual?”

“I am bisexual, though I tend to prefer women.”

“Okay. I don’t know what I am. Open? Willing?”

“That’s a good thing to be. It’ll definitely help make this easier.”

“So what exactly do we have to do?”

Derek cleared his throat and looked away for a moment and Stiles could have sworn he looked a little embarrassed. “We have to have sex,” he finally said. “I have to penetrate you and I have to bite you – but not, you know The Bite. And we’ll have to say some things.”

“Sounds easy enough.”

“That’s the theory. It may send us into a mating drive where we’ll want to have a lot of sex.”

“But that could be good, right? Strengthen the bond and all?”

“Sure, it could be. There could also be some nesting involved. I don’t know for sure. It’s been different for every pair that I’ve heard of.”

Stiles nodded and toed out of his shoes, kicking them under the armchair, then sat down in it and took off his socks. “Okay, let’s do this.”

They both stood and methodically stripped of their clothes, throwing them on the chair as they did so. While they were doing it, Stiles resolutely didn’t look at Derek. When they were done, he carefully covered his cock and balls with his hands and turned to Derek, still not looking at him.

Derek laughed. “I’m going to see all of it in a minute.”

“I know, but I’d like to hold onto what little dignity I have left for as long as I can. How are you not shy about your body?”

“How are you? You play with the lacrosse team. What about all those joint showers?”

“That’s everybody getting clean and knowing that you’ll get the crap beat out of you if you look too long. We may be more enlightened than our predecessors, but high school boys are still jerks. Well, most of them at any rate. Scott and Danny wouldn’t beat me up.”

“And they’re the two you wouldn’t care to look at anyway.”

“Scott – God, no – he’s like my brother. Danny – Danny’s actually really good-looking. I may have snuck a peek or two.”

“So are you going to look at me or what?”

Stiles slowly slid his gaze up Derek’s body and Derek slowly turned around in a circle. Derek was standing comfortably, hands out at his sides, his feet comfortably apart, but looking like he was about ready to move if need be. As expected, his legs and arms were well-muscled, as was his chest – which had less hair than Stiles expected – and back, and a *really* well-shaped ass, and he didn’t seem to have an extra ounce of fat on his body anywhere. Finally, because he didn’t have anywhere else to look, Stiles looked down at Derek’s cock and balls. And Derek’s cock was thicker and longer than Stiles had expected, and uncut, but it looked normal. Same with his balls – they looked bigger than he had expected, but everything looked normal.

“So what do you think?” Derek asked.

Stiles licked his lips. “Wow,” he finally said and Derek smirked.

“Okay, your turn.”

“My turn what?” Stiles asked.

Derek made a circle in the air with his finger. “Let me get a look at you.” Stiles slowly turned around for him to look. Where Derek was muscled, Stiles was more wiry. When he met Derek’s eyes again, Derek was nodding approvingly. “Good. Are you going to move your hands?”

“Or what? You’ll do it for me?”

“If I need to.”

Stiles sighed and lifted his hands. There was no way he’d be able to compete with Derek in that department, so he might as well just get the embarrassment over with. His cock was cut and long and thin, and his balls not as full as Derek’s.

“Very nice,” Derek replied.

“Really?” Stiles asked, surprised.

“Of course,” Derek said. “You’re in good health and you keep in shape – which is expected with being on the lacrosse team. And you’re proportional.”

Stiles let out a bark of a laugh. “Proportional is what you’re going with.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “It’s not wrong.”

“No, it’s not,” Stiles replied. “Just not the word I was expecting you to use.”

Derek rolled his eyes with a huff. “Will ‘I like the way you look’ do?”

“It could,” Stiles admitted. “Now what?”

“You seem fond of saying that.”

“And I’m going to keep saying it until we get this over with. Remember – I don’t have any experience with this.”

“I know. Come here.”

Derek grabbed Stiles’ hand and pulled him close, Stiles moving with a small squeak of surprise. Derek wrapped one arm around Stiles’ waist, tipped his chin up with the other, and leaned down and kissed him. The stubble was a bit disconcerting but not bad, and then Derek was licking at his lips and Stiles automatically opened his mouth to him and pressed closer, feeling the gentle slide as their cocks moved together and gently moaned into Derek’s mouth before kissing him back in earnest, his hands grasping at Derek’s hips to hold him in place. The kiss was hungry, but not hurried and Derek nipped at Stiles’ lips before moving to kiss just beneath his left ear and gently worrying the skin there. Stiles gasped and arched into Derek, surprised at how good it felt. Derek gently snorted against his skin and kept moving down, placing light kisses along Stiles’ jugular. When he reached the juncture of Stiles’ neck and shoulder, he bit down, carefully worrying the skin, and Stiles tensed, his hands tightening on Derek’s hips.

“Don’t worry,” he whispered as he moved to kiss Stiles’ mouth again. “Just part of the process. I promised I won’t try to turn you until you change your mind.”

Any chance Stiles had of replying died when Derek captured his lips again for another deep kiss. Stiles let himself get lost in the feeling of Derek’s mouth on his, their bodies pressed together and was surprised at himself for not comparing it to Heather’s kiss. And was more surprised when his body started to respond to Derek as he started doing the same thing on the other side of Stiles’ neck. Stiles groaned and pressed hard against Derek as he began worrying the skin on Stiles’ neck, his nails biting into Derek’s hips. Derek let out a low chuckle and pulled away, grabbing Stiles’ hands and pulling him towards the bed.

“Condom,” Stiles barely managed.

“In the nightstand,” Derek replied. “Along with lube.”

Stiles nodded and Derek got the items out of the drawer and placed them on top of the nightstand. Then he threw the comforter down to the edge of the bed and laid down, pulling Stiles down on top of him. They moved until they were comfortably situated on the bed, Stiles straddling Derek’s hips, Derek’s hands cradling Stiles’ hips, and their semi-hard cocks gently rubbing together. Stiles gently ran his hands over Derek’s chest, arms, and stomach, taking it all in.

“Doing okay?” Derek asked.

“Yeah, great,” Stiles replied. “I just – trying to not get overloaded, you know?”

Derek nodded. “Tell me if you don’t like something. Or if you do. This is about you too.”

Stiles nodded and continued looking and touching, his hands slowly going closer to their cocks but never actually touching.

“You can touch my dick,” Derek said.

Stiles gently wrapped a hand around the base of it and slowly drug it up to the tip. Derek sighed and arched into the touch. Stiles smiled and began gently jerking Derek off. Derek let him do it for a few minutes, obviously enjoying the feeling of Stiles’ hand on him, before moving a hand and wrapping it around Stiles’ cock. Stiles looked down in curiosity and watched as they slowly jerked each other off, precome helping ease their ministrations as their cocks hardened and their breathing became shallower. Finally, Stiles stopped, his hand gently squeezing around the base of Derek’s cock and Derek did the same thing.

After a few deep breaths, he said, “Sorry – didn’t want this to end too quickly.”

Derek chuckled. “Come on, Stiles. We can do this more than once. We’ll have to do this more than once.”

“I know – just feels good.”

“I know.”

Derek continued, tightening his grip slightly and moving his hand faster, bringing Stiles off quickly. Stiles came with a gasp and a startled look as his cock splattered come across Derek’s chest and stomach. Derek grinned and flipped them over, Stiles’ hands moving to steady himself on the bed. Derek began rutting against him, his hard cock rubbing in the ridge of Stiles’ leg and his groin and he was soon coming as well, striping Stiles’ stomach, chest and cock.

They kissed languidly as their heart rates returned to normal. Stiles whimpered softly and Derek smiled when Derek moved to get up. He was gone for only a couple seconds, returning with a damp washcloth. He cleaned them both up, starting with Stiles, before dumping it on the nightstand and settling back in bed.

“How do you feel?” he asked, running a hand over Stiles’ chest and stomach.

“Good,” Stiles replied, nuzzling into Derek. “Relaxed.”

“Good.”

They touched slowly, confidently, as they learned the other’s body, the good pressure points and the bad ones, the ticklish spots, and the ones that made them squirm. When they were done, they were both hard again and panting.

“Ready?” Derek asked and Stiles nodded. “Turn over.”

Derek opened the lube and squeezed some into his hand, rubbing his fingers together to warm the lube. He coated a finger and gently pressed it into Stiles’ ass. Stiles squirmed, but didn’t say anything about the intrusion. He felt Derek move it in and out a few times before withdrawing and a moment later pressing two fingers into him. This was tighter and a little more uncomfortable, but at the same time better as Derek scissored his fingers, stretching him, and Stiles automatically rutted into the bed. When Derek hit Stiles’ prostate, Stiles moaned loudly. Derek hit it a few more times before adding a third finger to his ministrations. Stiles groaned and eagerly met him on each thrust.

“How close are you to coming?” Derek asked finally.

“Really close,” Stiles replied breathlessly.

Derek continued finger-fucking him and soon Stiles was coming again, the pillow absorbing his moans of pleasure. When Derek pulled his fingers out, Stiles whimpered.

“It gets better,” Derek said.

“Better?” Stiles asked in surprise. “That was pretty freakin’ awesome.”

“Then just think of how it’ll feel with this inside of you,” he said, pressing his cock into Stiles’ ass-crack, making sure he could feel every inch of him.

Stiles groaned and shifted, pressing his ass up against Derek’s cock. Derek chuckled again, the low rumble going through Stiles and making his spent cock twitch. Derek slowly began moving against Stiles’ ass, using the precome to smooth out his thrusts.

“What are you doing?” Stiles asked, looking back over his shoulder.

“Enjoying your ass,” Derek replied.

Stiles stayed still while Derek rutted against him, not sure how to feel aside from vaguely turned on, and finally coming across his back. There was a sight pause while Derek cleaned him up, then there was a rustle and he looked to see Derek putting the condom on his still-hard cock, followed by a liberal coat of lube and Stiles’ cock expectantly jerked in response.

Derek had Stiles move to his hands and knees before slowly eased into Stiles’ ass, making sure he was okay multiple times before he was fully seated inside of him. Then he paused to give Stiles a chance to adjust to the intrusion. At first it was uncomfortable and weird, then it started feeling better – still weird, but not… bad. Then Derek shifted slightly and – OH YEAH. He must have made some sort of noise because Derek was laughing behind him.

“Found your prostate?” Derek asked.

“I guess so,” Stiles managed. “And I’m feeling fine, before you ask. Now do that again.”

Derek began with slow, shallow thrusts in and out of Stiles’ ass, giving him time to breath and adjust, but soon the sensations were too much for both of them and instinct took over. Derek began thrusting harder and faster and Stiles began meeting him on each thrust. And it felt great. When they were both close to the edge, Derek bit Stiles over the right hickey he’d originally given him and worried the skin. Stiles came, hard, and his ass clamping down on Derek’s cock swept him over the edge as well. Derek thrust into Stiles a few more times before toppling them both onto their sides on the bed before carefully pulled out of Stiles and disposing of the used condom.

When Derek came back to bed after disposing of the condom, Stiles turned to face him. “So now what?” he asked and they both laughed.

“Now we have to say a few things, and then have sex again,” Derek said. “And then that should be it.”

“Should be?”

Derek shrugged. “Sometimes it takes a while for the bond to kick in.”

“How do you know when the bond kicks in?”

“You just know. Or, at least, that’s what my mother told me.”

“So what do we say?”

“I’ll say my part, then you can repeat after me for yours. I, Derek Hale, take you to be my Mate, to protect and keep, to take advice and guidance from for as long as you shall live. Now repeat after me – I, Stiles Stilinski.”

“I, Stiles Stilinski.”

“Take you, Derek Hale.”

“Take you, Derek Hale.”

“To be my Mate.”

“To be my Mate.”

“To help and serve.”

“To help and serve.”

“To advise and guide.”

“To advise and guide.”

“For as long as you shall live.”

“For as long as you shall live.” Stiles wrinkled his nose, then yawned. “That sounds a lot like marriage vows.”

“It kind of is,” Derek admitted. “They’re meant for a couple that’s planning on being together for the long-haul.”

“What’s that like for werewolves? Do they tend to stay together?”

“Usually. At least the Alpha pair will – until one of them dies. Beta pairs, it depends, but they usually do. Like a real wolf pack, it depends on the group dynamic and balance. Omegas – not really sure. I think they do, since it would make sense that they do too. Get some sleep. We’ll finish this up in a bit.”

“Is that okay? It won’t fizzle out or expire or anything?” Stiles asked before yawning again.

“Nope,” Derek replied with what looked like amusement. “We’ll be fine. Besides – that’s an important part of the bond – showing you can trust the other person.”

Derek closed his eyes, as if to show he trusted Stiles and, Stiles suspected, as a way to get Stiles to shut up and sleep too. Stiles watched him for a while as his breathing slowed and evened out in sleep. Like this, Derek looked younger and more relaxed. More vulnerable too. And something about that made Stiles want to protect him. He yawned again and closed his eyes and was soon asleep as well.

Waking a few hours later, Stiles tensed upon sensing he wasn’t in his own bed. And he was really, really warm. Carefully, he looked around from his immobilized position and saw that he was on his back and Derek had moved to snuggle around him. His nose was mashed against the hickey on Stiles’ neck and he was laying partially on top of Stiles with one arm wrapped around Stiles’ chest and a leg wrapped around Stiles’ legs.

Stiles carefully extricated himself from Derek, who murmured something in his sleep and cuddled against Stiles’ pillow. Stiles watched him for a moment, then headed to the bathroom to empty his aching bladder and splash cold water on his face. He stared at himself in the mirror for a long moment, trying to figure out if anything looked different now that he’d had sex, but nothing did. Though, the soreness in his ass aside, he did feel better – more relaxed. But it felt like a normal more relaxed and not a “bonded to my werewolf mate” more relaxed. He sighed and headed back into the bedroom.

As soon as he was back in bed, Derek molded himself to Stiles again. “Where’d go?” he murmured into Stiles’ skin.

“Just to the bathroom,” Stiles replied, stroking Derek’s hair. “Am I supposed to feel any different?”

Derek shrugged. “Do you?”

“Not really, no. My ass hurts a bit, but other than that, I just feel good.”

“Hasn’t started yet. More sleep?”

“Okay.” Stiles continued to stroke Derek’s hair until they had both fallen asleep again.

When they woke up the next time, it was the middle of the night. Derek leaned over Stiles, making sure Stiles got the full effect of his revived erection, to turn on a bedside lamp. Stiles rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything. Derek settled more fully on Stiles, propping himself up on his elbows to look at Stiles, and Stiles shifted his legs wider to accommodate him.

“So, sex again?” Derek asked.

“Sure,” Stiles replied.

Derek grabbed the lube and another condom and placed the items next to them on the bed. “Open up a bit more.” Stiles did so and Derek reached between them to gently graze the opening to Stiles’ ass with his fingers. “How do you feel?”

“Good,” Stiles replied. His stomach growled. “And hungry.” His stomach growled again. “Think you can wait until after we’ve had a snack to continue the athletics?”

Derek laughed, but got up and headed towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Stiles asked.

“Downstairs to the kitchen,” Derek replied, as if that should be obvious. “Why?”

“Aren’t you going to put any clothes on?”

“Why? It’s just us here, we’re just going downstairs, and we’ve already had sex. I’d say going down for a snack is pretty tame compared to what I was doing to your ass a few hours ago.”

Stiles sighed and got up to join him, muttering, “Of course, I get the one with an exhibitionist streak.”

“And a bit of a voyeur streak too,” Derek replied with a grin, pinching Stiles on the ass.

Stiles yelped in surprise, but didn’t say anything else as he followed Derek downstairs. They shared half of a leftover cheesesteak sub in comfortable silence and Stiles had to admit it wasn’t as weird being naked as he thought it would be. Granted, Derek was definitely an eyeful and didn’t seem to mind being looked at.

Afterwards, they went back to bed and Derek did things to Stiles that Stiles hadn’t thought possible, yet felt *amazing*.

The next morning, Stiles stretched lazily, feeling relaxed and content. He glanced over and looked at Derek, who was still asleep, his face mushed into his pillow, his hair wild, and a bit of drool coming out of his mouth, and smiled. They really had done it.

He stretched more carefully this time, checking to see how everything felt. Aside from his ass still being sore, he didn’t feel any different than the night before and he couldn’t feel anything he could consider the msating bond.

“Morning,” Derek murmured.

“Yes, it is,” Stiles replied. “Good morning.”

“Mmmrph.” Derek rubbed his face against his pillow before pushing up onto his forearms and looking over at Stiles with one slitted eye. “What are you doing up so early?”

“It’s what we humans usually do – wake up in the morning. Because there are things like school and work and activities and things to do. We can’t all be werewolf slackers. I don’t feel any different,” he said, changing the subject. “I mean, I don’t feel any special ‘I’m mated to my best friend’s Alpha’ sort of different.”

Derek shrugged. “Maybe you just won’t feel it. Or maybe you’ll feel it later. It’s not like there’s been a whole lot of science done on this. Besides, more often than not both parts of the pair are werewolves.”

“So you do you feel any different?”

“Not really. Still grumpy with you for waking me up so early.”

“Then go back to sleep. You don’t have to get up.” Stiles’ cell phone chimed. With a sigh, he got up and retrieved it from his pants. “And it’s 9:30 – not that early.” He rejoined Derek in bed and looked at the text from Scott. “Scott wants to know how last night went.”

“Of course he does,” Derek replied, flopping onto his back.

Stiles texted Scott back, telling him everything had gone fine – great even – and that he didn’t feel any different. Before he sent it, he thought better of it, and added Isaac, Lydia, and Allison to the list of recipients getting the text. Done, he set the phone on the nightstand and laid back down.

“What do you want to do today?” he asked.

Derek shrugged. “Hadn’t really thought about it. You?”

“You could maybe teach me some more about werewolves and packs and your history. I’ve heard bits and pieces from you, Peter, and Deaton and I’d like to know more. Or we could work on figuring out a way to fix up the Hale house.” Derek glared at him. “What? It’s just sitting there! And you’re going to need more space. I’m sure this place isn’t the most comfortable with Cora and Peter also here. And with Isaac and Scott being around, and whoever else you end up making part of the pack, plus me, Lydia, and Allison – that’s a lot of people.”

“And what makes you think I want all of you around?”

“Isn’t that part of the point of the pack? And I’m sure you could keep this place if you needed to get away – but the house is perfect for everyone to get together – lot of rooms, out in the woods.”

“Not even 24 hours and you’re already nagging me.”

“Isn’t that what mates are suppose to do?” Stiles asked with a smile. “And you know I have a point.”

“You do,” Derek conceded. He sighed and got up and pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms.

“Where are you going?”

“Coffee. This is going to be a long day.”

Stiles cursed that his bag was still downstairs and ran down to get it before disappearing into the shower while Derek made coffee. When Stiles had finished, he looked in the fridge and wasn’t surprised to find it mostly bare. He pulled out some eggs and a partial loaf of bread.

“What are you doing?” Derek asked, eyeing him over his cup of coffee.

“What does it look like? I’m making breakfast. Which do you want? I can do omelet-style, though you don’t have anything to put in it, or scrambled.”

“Scrambled is fine.”

Stiles made breakfast and they ate in silence. “You need to go grocery shopping,” Stiles said while he cleaned up.

“Why?” Derek asked cautiously.

“Because if I’m going to be here more often, then you’re going to need to have at least a little more food on hand.”

“Who says you’re going to be here more often? We’re doing this as close to name only, remember?”

“Oh, I remember, but you also need to remember that Scott’s my best friend and I’ve become really good friends with Isaac and they’re over here a lot. So I figured I’d assert whatever influence I now have over you to get you to make your place more welcoming for your pack. And I’m sure Peter and Cora would appreciate it too.”

“And how do you know that Cora isn’t the one who does the shopping?”

Stiles stared at Derek. “Even if she is a werewolf, women tend to like more variety in their food than protein and more protein, with a little bit of carbs on the side.”

“I eat vegetables too,” Derek replied indignantly.

“Name one,” Stiles challenged. “And the last time you ate it. And ketchup doesn’t count.”

Derek thought for a moment. “I had a salad last week when Cora and I went out for dinner.”

“Yeah, you’ve got to do better than that, especially if you want to maintain this,” Stiles patted Derek’s stomach as he passed by to hang up the towel.

Derek scowled at him, but didn’t include the normally customary growl, before standing and draining the rest of his coffee. “Okay. Shower, then grocery store.”

Stiles nodded and sat down with his phone to wait. When Derek came back, Stiles said, “We should also go by your family’s house and see what needs to be fixed up.”

“Why are you so fixated on that damn house?” Derek asked.

“Because after the fire, most normal people would have either sold it or rebuilt it, not live in its ruins for however long you lived in it before moving here. But you’ve done neither, which must mean that you intend to keep it and want to use it, but don’t know how to go about it.” Stiles stood and joined Derek. “It’s not disrespectful to move forward. I’m sure your family would want that.”

Derek snarled at him before grabbing his keys off the table and stalking out. Stiles rolled his eyes and followed him. “For what you said, you’re driving,” Derek said, getting into the Jeep.

Stiles laughed and got behind the wheel. The drive over to the house was quiet. They walked around and through it and Stiles made notes on his phone and took a few pictures of the damage. “It’ll at least give us something to start with when we talk to contractors,” he said at Derek’s questioning look.

Once they were at the grocery store, Derek said, “You should train with Isaac, Scott, and I. Your fighting techniques suck.”

Grabbing a cart, Stiles said, “If you haven’t noticed, you’re,” he looked around at the few people nearby, “you, and I’m me, so no thank you. I’ll talk to Allison and her dad and see if they can help me.”

“As long as you do. I don’t want to have to worry about you not being able to hold your own in a fight.”

Stiles kept his mouth shut at that, knowing any comment he made would most likely get him into trouble. They wandered through the store, stocking up on food. Stiles grabbed mostly healthy foods, along with some snacks that both he and Scott liked. Derek also added a few things that seemed out of character for him and his family, but at Stiles’ questioning look, he simply said, “Isaac mentioned it.” Stiles nodded, glad that Isaac was comfortable trusting Derek. When they finished, Derek paid for all of it and wouldn’t hear of Stiles chipping in.

Back at Derek’s place and food put away, Stiles sat down at the dining room table and called Allison. “Hey, what’s up, Stiles?” she answered, sounding confused.

“I know this is weird, but I was wondering if you and/or your dad would be willing to train me. In fighting techniques. I realize I’m the weak guy link in the group and I’d like to fix that.”

“Sure,” she replied, now sounding surprised. “I’ll have to talk to my dad about it and see what he thinks, but I’m sure that could be doable.”

“Awesome,” Stiles grinned. “Thanks, Allison.”

“You’re welcome. How are things going?”

“Great so far. Nothing weird has happened. Well, unless you want to count Derek not growling at me this morning. Do you think we should be worried?”

Allison laughed. “I think we should wait and see on that. He might be saving it up for later.”

“Good point. Okay, I’ll let you get back to whatever it is you were doing – I’m sure it’s much more interesting than my plans.”

“Not necessarily,” she replied. “But I’ll let you know what my dad says and we’ll figure something out. Bye.”

“Bye.” Ending the call, Stiles said to Derek, “See? I’m being proactive.”

“I can see that,” Derek deadpanned, not looking up from his book.

Stiles rolled his eyes and pulled out his laptop. He uploaded his pictures and notes from the house and started searching for different house styles. “Do you think you’d want to keep the house’s original design, or do you think you’d want to rip it down and go for something completely different?” Stiles asked.

“Depends on the cost,” Derek replied, glancing up.

“What do you think you’d want in the house? A gym, I’m sure.”

Derek set the book aside on the table. “Probably. I’d like to have the others’ input in it as well, if they’re going to be spending as much time there as you think they will be. At the very least, I’d like to talk it over with Cora and Peter and see what they think.”

“Okay,” Stiles said. “This will be shelved until after you do. And I want you to talk to them,” he said pointedly. “Don’t tell me you’re going to and then don’t.”

“If I promise to do so, can we talk about something else?”

“Sure.”

“Then I promise I’ll talk to them about it.”

“Can you teach me about pack law and werewolf history? Scott’s got some journals from Allison’s dad, but they don’t seem very helpful.”

Derek groaned and dropped his head onto the table.

“You knew I’d ask about it eventually!” Stiles replied. “I’m curious about this sort of thing now that I’m in the middle of it, and I’d like to know what I’m getting in to.”

“I know, but that doesn’t mean I want to discuss it,” Derek replied, his voice muted due to his arms. “It’s going to take a while.”

“We’ve got the rest of the weekend.”

“It’s going to take longer than that.”

“Then we’d better get started.”

Derek shook his head and straightened up. He stared at Stiles for a long moment before standing up and disappearing into a side room. He came back a few minutes later with a stack of old, thick books. Thunking them onto the table, he said, “Here is the history of my people, as well as our laws. Knock yourself out.”

“You’re not going to help me?” Stiles asked, surprised, watching Derek pick up his book and settle on the couch.

“You’re a smart kid and you can read. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out. Besides, I read those when I was thirteen and understood them. They can’t be that hard.”

Stiles sighed and grabbed the first book. He flipped it open and began reading the elegant script.

“What do you want to do for dinner?” Derek asked.

“What?” Stiles asked, his attention snapping from the engrossing book up to Derek’s face, and realizing that he was hungry.

“Dinner,” Derek replied. “Are you hungry?”

Stiles’ stomach growled. “Yes. What time is it?”

“About six.”

Surprised, Stiles said, “I should call my dad.”

“Dinner decision first, then call.”

“I don’t care. Food,” Stiles replied and Derek sighed as Stiles grabbed his phone. He hit the speed dial for his dad and got his voicemail. “Hey, Dad. I just wanted to let you know everything’s going fine. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Are you done?” Derek asked as Stiles set his phone down.

“Yes,” Stiles replied. “I know he doesn’t want any details and I’d rather not give him any, but I’d still like him to know that I’m okay. We only have each other. I’m sure you can appreciate that situation. So, dinner. We could cook something from your now well-stocked kitchen, or we could order something in, or we could go out.”

“It could be weird for us to go out without Scott.”

“Then we could make it a double date with Scott and Allison,” Stiles shot back, his tone easily conveying, ‘well, duh’. “And enough people have seen us together so they know that we know each other. If you’re worried people are going to see us and think something weird – you’re probably right, for a very small minority of them. Otherwise you need to get over yourself. What do you want to do for dinner?”

“Go out,” Derek replied sheepishly.

Stiles stood and stretched, his back cracking. “Then we’re going out.”

In the car, Derek tentatively asked, “Did you enjoy what you’ve read?”

“Yeah, it’s interesting,” Stiles replied. “We tend to think of werewolves as solitary creatures most of the time, because that’s how they’re portrayed in movies and books and they’re really not. It’s definitely a much richer history than most people think.”

Derek nodded. “Just because we’ve had to keep that side of ourselves hidden as we try to stay part of our communities doesn’t mean we’ve lost our sense of history as any other minority.”

Stiles snickered and Derek glared at him out of the corner of his eye. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help thinking of a group of werewolves picketing for their rights. Did you always think you’d become an Alpha?”

“Yes. Not to the ill-will of anyone else, but my mother groomed me for the part for as long as I could remember. Obviously, there were other factors at play, such as Peter, but I knew that I was second in line after my sister.”

Stiles nodded and went quiet, watching the scenery pass by outside the Camero’s windows.

 

Saturday night and Sunday went as Friday night and Saturday day had – like nothing Stiles had expected, but at the same time awesomely. Getting to see the side of Derek underneath the Alpha facade was intriguing and informative. Knowing Derek was a regular guy despite the werewolf genetics and being an Alpha, and actually getting to see evidence of it firsthand were two completely different things. And Stiles had to admit that he liked this side of Derek.

Monday morning he went to school from Derek’s, not feeling any different from when he’d left it on Friday, aside from well-fucked. (They’d had sex again Saturday night and twice on Sunday and Stiles had to admit Lydia and Scott were right – it was awesome.) Scott was waiting for him in the parking lot when he pulled into his usual spot.

“How did things go?” he asked as Stiles cut the ignition. “Did it work?”

“It was great,” Stiles replied, “but I’m so not giving you details. And as far as we know, it worked, but we don’t feel any different. Derek says we’ll just have to see.”

“If I ever want details, you have my permission to put me down,” Scott said as they walked into the school. “I hope it works.”

“Me too,” Stiles agreed. “Me too.”

Before lunch, Stiles texted Derek, “Have you called around for contractors yet? And make sure you eat lunch!”

His phone beeped when he sat down at the table and he smiled at Derek’s, “Talked to a couple. Not made of money like you seem to think. Yes, Mom.”

“How was your weekend?” Lydia asked him.

“Good,” Stiles replied. “Not giving you any details.”

Lydia’s nose wrinkled up in disgust. “As hot as Derek is and as adorable as you are, I have no desire to know what you two do in the bedroom. I just want to make sure that we’re going to be safe.” Quieter, she asked, “And you really are okay with all of this? Because remember – I know what it’s like to be dragged into stuff like this unwillingly.”

“Yeah, I think I am,” Stiles replied. “Especially now that we’ve gotten the whole mating ‘thing’ done and out of the way and things are different, but they’re not.”

“Just let me know if you need me to give you some perspective, okay?”

“You got it,” Stiles replied with a smile. “Thanks, Lydia.”

“My dad says he’s willing to help me train you,” Allison said to Stiles, sitting down next to Lydia and Scott and Isaac sitting down next to Stiles. “Though we’re both a bit unsure about all of it.”

“Like I said – I get that I’m the weak link in our group since Lydia started training with Allison and I want to remedy that,” Stiles replied. “When can we start?”

“This afternoon?” she asked and Stiles nodded.

“I convinced Derek he needs to fix up the Hale house,” Stiles told them. “We’re going to need the space for all of us and the extra privacy will be good. Plus, it’ll give you guys,” he looked at Scott and Isaac, “and Derek, Cora, and Peter, as well as Allison, more room to train outside.”

“Good thinking,” Isaac said.

After lunch, Aiden and Ethan cornered Stiles on his way to his next class. “Hey, guys. What’s up?” he asked as they pushed him against the lockers.

“You and Derek mated,” Ethan said.

Stiles raised his chin defiantly. “Yes, we did.”

They both looked him over and then stared at him for a long moment, but Stiles evenly held their gaze. They finally nodded and walked away. Stiles waited until they were down the hallway, then let out a shaky breath. Okay, maybe there really was something to this whole mating thing.

 

From there, Stiles’ life started to fall into a new pattern. And he was surprised to find he liked it.

After school on Mondays, he would train with Allison and her dad. He enjoyed it, even if Mr. Argent pushed them hard, knowing how often it came down to the little things for life and death. And the array of weaponry in their house was *insane*. For probably the first time, he was totally glad it was Scott and not him who was dating Allison.

The rest of the week, he and the rest of the group would congregate at Derek’s after school to do homework and train with Derek. And while Scott, Isaac, and Cora would train with Derek; Scott, Allison, and Lydia would plan the renovations for the Hale house, going over the pros and cons of various improvements and additions. Then, weather permitting, they all started working on the house.

Peter came and went as he pleased, sometimes reading in a far corner of the loft, other times disappearing upstairs moments after walking through the door. He usually didn’t say much to any of them, and Stiles was okay with that. He seemed mostly approving of how Derek was leading them, but Stiles got the impression he was also watching them intently, looking for weaknesses in their slowly forming bonds and waiting for the right time to exploit them. And Stiles didn’t kid himself that most of Peter’s attention was on him, carefully watching and assessing him.

Once everyone scattered for the evening, Stiles would either go home for dinner with his dad, Derek in tow, or his dad would join them at the Hales’ loft for dinner. There had even been a couple times Cora had tagged along to the Stilinski house and Stiles couldn’t say he was terribly upset Peter had disappeared at some point before they left the loft.

On the weekends, it was much of the same with other things mixed in as well – chores, errands, games, practice, movies, just hanging out.

And Stiles found that he enjoyed Derek’s company. Things were different between them since they’d mated, but at the same time they weren’t. Derek still held him at arm’s length, but he was starting to warm up towards him. He was more considerate of Stiles’ opinions and made sure the loft was stocked with the snacks and sodas that Stiles liked. There were even moments where Stiles felt like Derek was gently teasing him and, very possibly – though hardly likely – flirting with him.

“So what’s up with the whole mating-bond thing?” Stiles asked Derek one day, cornering him in the kitchen, ostensibly to help him get drinks for everyone.

“What do you mean?” Derek asked.

“I mean, is anything happening? Because aside from the great sex a few weeks ago and the fact that we’re spending more time together, nothing else seems to have changed. If you really wanted in my pants that badly, you could’ve just asked.”

“No, that was real,” Derek said, setting down the sodas and bottles of water he’d gotten out of the fridge. “And I don’t know what to tell you, Stiles. I’m still finding animal carcasses and I can smell the Alphas that were in the area before are still around, but they’ve been keeping their distance.”

Stiles got out the glasses. “Why haven’t they tried to challenge you?”

“How should I know?” Derek growled. “Maybe they’re happy with how things are going. Regardless, I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth.”

“And what about us? I haven’t been able to find anything in the books you gave me about what happens when an Alpha mates with a human.”

“I don’t know.” Derek shrugged. “None of the mated pairs I’ve known have ever talked about it. When I was little, I asked my mom a few times and she only said it was a private thing among mates. And then she died before she got to that part of my training.”

“I’m sorry,” Stiles replied. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“I know you didn’t. And the research I’ve done myself hasn’t been very helpful either on whether or not you have to be in love for it to work. For every instance I find that says yes, there’s almost as many that say no. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Any particular reason?”

“Just curious,” Stiles replied. “Seems pretty anticlimactic after everything else.”

Derek smiled, picking up the drinks. “Don’t knock anticlimaxes.”

“Believe me, I’m not. I just feel like we’re in a holding pattern and I’d like to have a more definitive answer if it’s an anticlimax or we’re waiting for something to happen.”

“Until then, let’s finish the planning on the house and maybe revising the training schedule to include you, Lydia, and Allison more fully. Because if something is going to happen, we’ve got to be ready.”

“Think we should include mine and Allison’s dads and Scott’s mom on that plan?”

“Sure, once we’ve figured out what that plan is. They could be a lot of help. See? Maybe the mating bond is working.”

 

That night, Stiles was surprised when he dreamt of Derek. And not in a ‘dangerous portend of death’ sort of way. But more in the ‘getting it on and really liking it’ sort of way. When he woke suddenly from the dream and bolted upright, he was hard and panting.

After a moment to calm his breathing, he flopped back down onto the bed. He sighed and rolled onto his stomach. When sleep wasn’t immediately forthcoming, he rolled back onto his back and began stroking his erection. Unbidden, images of Derek rose to the surface – Derek smiling, Derek laughing, Derek smirking at him as Derek shared a quiet word with Scott, Derek’s hands on him – and wow, Derek is handsier than Stiles realized. And it made Stiles come quicker and harder than he expected. He wiped himself off with the corner of his sheet before falling back into a contented sleep.

On his way to school the next morning, Stiles called Derek. “What the hell, man?” Stiles asked when Derek answered. “I had an erotic dream about you last night!”

“Did you enjoy it?” Derek asked.

“What?” Stiles asked, surprised.

“Did you enjoy it?” Derek repeated.

“Yes. Yes, I did,” Stiles replied. “I woke up from the dream and whacked off. I hope that’s what you wanted to hear because it’s true.”

“You’re the one that called me to tell me about it,” Derek replied calmly.

“You’re way too calm about all of this,” Stiles replied indignantly.

“How would you like me to react?” Derek asked. “We’re mates. We’re bonded now. It’s not surprising that at the very least we should have dreams like that about each other.”

“Have you had any dreams like that about me?” Stiles asked, curiosity getting the better of him.

“A few, yes.”

“And why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because I didn’t want to freak you out. You didn’t seem like you were in a place where you’d accept that. And if you weren’t having them, then I wasn’t going to make you feel like you were doing something wrong.”

“So you’ve been waiting for this, then?” Stiles asked, the air going out of him, and he wasn’t sure how to feel.

“Or something like it. I wasn’t sure if it would just be me, since you’re not a werewolf, or if you would experience it too. It could be one of nature’s ways to help us maintain the bond with physical intimacy.”

“Yeah, okay, that makes sense.” Stiles rubbed his forehead. “Though it’s not like we can do anything about that now, since I have to be in school in a few minutes. Can we talk about it afterwards?”

“Sure. I’ll see you later. Have a good day at school.”

“Thanks. Have a good day doing whatever it is you do.”

Stiles fidgeted through most of the school day, unable to concentrate for very long on anything.

“What’s going on?” Lydia asked him before last period.

“I had a dream about Derek last night,” Stiles replied. Dropping his voice, he added, “A sexy dream.”

“Oh,” she replied, first sounding nonplussed, then her eyes widened. “Oh.”

“Yeah – ‘oh’. And I don’t know what to do about it. And I don’t think Derek completely does either, but we’re going to talk about it later. It might be part of the bond, or it might not and either way it’s really weird.”

“Has he had any of these dreams?” she asked, neutrally.

Stiles nodded. “A few. He said he didn’t tell me about them because he didn’t want to make things weird and he wasn’t sure if he was having them because he’s a werewolf.”

Lydia patted his arm reassuringly. “I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

“Oh, no, you guys are *not* helping us research this – it’s too weird.”

“God, no.” Lydia crinkled her nose up in disgust. “I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole. I mean we’ll help you by being supportive and all.”

“Do you and Allison talk about sex?”

Lydia shrugged. “Sometimes. Do we compare our boyfriends? No.”

“How is Aiden, by the way?”

“He’s doing good. He and Ethan still aren’t sure if they want to join Derek’s pack, but they know the door’s open for them. And they’ve been keeping an ear out for any signs of trouble.”

“Good. That’s good. What do they think of me and Derek?”

Lydia shrugged. “He hasn’t really said, so I guess they’re okay. They seem to take it as inevitable that he’d take a mate and they don’t seem put out that it wasn’t one of them. Like I said, he hasn’t really said either way about it being you, so you’d have to ask them yourself.”

Stiles nodded. “Okay. I was just curious. Because this could affect them too, depending on how things go down. And they’ve helped us out a bunch and I want them to be okay. We all do.”

“I think they know that. They’re still adjusting to being Alphas and not being under Deucalion’s thumb. I haven’t gotten everything out of Aiden, but it seems like their going from being Omegas to Alphas was crazy and quick and they haven’t really had time to process it.”

The warning bell rang. “Thanks, Lydia. I appreciate this.”

“You’re welcome. And come to me anytime – I mean it. I’ll see you over at Derek’s later.”

Stiles nodded. “See you later.”

As soon as the last class was over, Stiles was out the door like a shot and before he could think about it, he was pulling up in front of Derek’s apartment building.

“How many laws did you break to get here?” Derek asked when Stiles entered.

Stiles dumped his bag by the door and grabbed a soda out of the fridge. “Just speeding. I think.” He sat down next to Derek at the kitchen table. “So now what?”

“‘So now what’ what?” Derek replied, looking up from the house plans.

“What do we do about the dreams?”

“What do you want to do about them?”

“I don’t know,” Stiles replied truthfully. “I enjoyed the sex when we had it. And I’ve enjoyed getting to know you better and becoming quasi-friends. And I don’t think having sex again will screw that up. And I am still a teenage boy, so sex is always good.”

“Sex is always good, regardless of age,” Derek replied with a smile. “We could take it slow this time, see how things go.”

Stiles looked at him in confusion. “I don’t understand.”

“We could try making a real relationship out of it. If you want.” The last bit was said hesitantly, as if Derek wasn’t sure how Stiles would react to that.

“Are you sure that’s what you want?” Stiles asked. “Because we both agreed that we’re not exactly each other’s first choice by any means and that we’d find a way to make this work despite that.”

“Maybe this is how I want to make things work,” Derek replied. “Could it be such a crazy idea that since we’ve mated and I’ve gotten to know you better, I’ve come to like you a lot more?”

“I don’t know,” Stiles responded warily. “Did Peter say something to you?”

“No, why?” Derek asked confused.

“I just wasn’t expecting this from you.”

“Neither was I,” Derek admitted truthfully. “Though I doubt Peter would try to convince me that having a relationship with you would be a good thing.”

Stiles’ phone chimed and he pulled it out of his pocket. A text from Lydia said, Let us know when it’s safe to come in. Stiles smiled and showed it to Derek. “I might have said something to her earlier about the dreams,” he confessed.

“At least she’s being tactful about it,” Derek replied. “Think about it and let me know what you want to do. I would like to try it and see how things go.”

“Okay, I’ll at least think about it,” Stiles agreed.

Derek smiled and leaned over to impetuously kiss Stiles on the mouth quickly before sitting back down and going back to the plans. Stiles stared at him for a long moment and Derek finally looked back at him and grinned. Stiles rolled his eyes and focused on texting Lydia back that it was safe. After that, he couldn’t help focusing on how amazing Derek’s lips had felt against his, even for that brief moment.

 

“No guests for dinner tonight?” John asked as Stiles entered the kitchen that evening.

“Nope,” Stiles replied, joining John at the counter. “All the other parents – and even Peter, weirdly enough – are instituting a family night tonight.”

“That’s probably a good idea, considering how much time you’ve been spending together.” They worked quietly to prepare their dinner for a while. “How are things going with Derek?” John finally asked.

“Good,” Stiles replied. “Things are a bit weird, but good.” At John’s worried look, Stiles quickly added, “Don’t worry – he’s not hurting me or anything. We just don’t know what we want to do with our relationship – if we want to stay friends or try to become more. And nothing’s happened with any of the other packs. So there’s a lot of limbo going on right now.”

“I can’t help with the werewolf stuff – things have been really quiet in Beacon Hills lately. Frankly, It’s starting to worry me a bit. But I’ll give you relationship advice if you’d like.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Stiles replied with a smile, “but not right now. At this point, I wish I knew where to start, let alone what sort of questions to ask to figure out what I want.”

“Do you like him?” John asked.

“Sure, he’s a nice guy. Though, he does have that figurative ‘lone wolf’ thing going on.” Stiles laughed. “Which is actually kind of funny when you think about it, considering he actually is a werewolf, and really not antisocial at all most of the time.”

“What’s the worst part about being mated to him?”

Stiles shrugged. “Right now, nothing. Derek’s been great and hasn’t tried to push anything. Everything’s basically business as usual, except that we spend more time together and we get along better.”

“What would be the worst thing if you did actually like him?”

“That I didn’t get a personal choice in the matter. I mean, I did, but it would make me appear selfish and childish – especially up against everyone else’s safety and the possibility of getting out of it later.”

“What would be the best thing about it?”

“I don’t know,” Stiles replied as he started setting the table and John pulled a casserole out of the oven. “He’s a really nice guy. Sure, he’s got the gruff exterior, but once you get past that....” Stiles shrugged. “He’s good-looking. He’s a nice guy to be around. He’s very family-oriented – and not just Peter and Cora, but the rest of the pack too. And I’ve seen him extend that in little ways to those outside of our little pack – like you, Scott’s mom, Allison’s dad.”

“So no attraction then?”

“Not really. Though, there are moments when I can’t help thinking, ‘yeah, I could see how people could find him attractive’. And while you don’t want to hear it and I don’t particularly want to say it – when we had sex, it was really good and I really enjoyed it.”

“That kind of is the point of sex,” John said dryly. “You know, to enjoy it at least enough to do it again enough times to propagate the species.”

Stiles laughed and John cracked a smile. “Very funny, Dad. And then he kissed me this afternoon – it was very chaste and all, but I can’t stop thinking about it.”

“Well, it sounds like the seeds are there, if the two of you want to work at it. What does Derek think of it?”

“He’s for a relationship, or at least for trying it.”

“Good luck to both of you, then,” John said. “And now before we ask Deaton about resurrection spells so your mother can help you with the rest of this, how are things with school and the lacrosse team?”

 

It was weird, after that. Like he’d told his dad – weird, but in a good way. It was weird being intentional about a romantic relationship. It really wasn’t like it was portrayed in the movies, that was for sure. But at the same time, Stiles kind of liked it.

He liked that he had someone he could touch, even if it was in safe spots and over clothes, and no one would say anything if his hands lingered a little longer than proprietary. He liked that he didn’t have to pretend to not be looking (because no matter how much he downplayed it, Derek really was a good looking guy and Stiles found he liked looking). He liked that when he arrived and before he left, Derek would pull him into a secluded part of the loft and kiss him. And Stiles did like kissing and Derek was good at it. He also liked that it wasn’t rushed or forced or like Derek was trying to speed along their relationship or press Stiles into doing anything else. It was just kissing for kissing’s sake.

And the longer they kept doing it, the more Stiles became convinced he actually might be able to fall in love with Derek – given a few years.

 

One night after everyone else had left and Cora and Peter had disappeared, Derek and Stiles were curled up on the couch next to each other, quietly enjoying each other’s company and Stiles was pretty sure he could get used to this.

Out of the blue, he asked, “What happens when I go to college in the fall?”

Derek shrugged. “I don’t know. Have you decided where you’re going yet?”

Stiles shook his head. “But I should be getting acceptance letters soon.”

“If you decide to stay here and go to college, nothing will change aside from where you’re going to school. As much as I’d like you to move in with me, I think it would be good for you to have the dorm experience – I don’t want to rob you of that. But if you go away, at the very least we’ll have our phones and laptops and we’ll be able to keep in touch that way. And there will be weekends and holidays home and I could come visit occasionally. It won’t be easy, but we’ll figure out how to manage.”

“So you’re not worried about getting emotionally invested and then having me go away?”

“Why would I be?” Derek asked. “You’re my mate and regardless of what happens, I trust you. I know you’ll be discreet if you find someone else and we’ll do what we need to do if we have any pack issues.”

“You’re being way too calm about this.”

“It’s all I can be until I have more information so I know how I should freak out,” Derek replied with a small smile. “But if you want me to go crazy over it, I’m sure I could figure out a way to do it.”

“No, this is good because it’s keeping me from freaking out. At least the house will be done by then, regardless of where I go.”

Derek nodded. “I know I haven’t said it enough, but I do appreciate you pushing it, and I know Peter and Cora do too, even if they – and especially Peter – haven’t said anything. Yeah, there’s been a lot of bad stuff there, but there’s been a lot of good stuff too. And another reason to make sure it’s done before you go away – so you can be there for when Deaton does the cleansing ceremony for the house and grounds. I thought it could be a good way to start fresh for all of us.”

“Sounds like a good plan.”

“It’s a great plan. And there will always be a place for you there, and within the pack, regardless of what happens.”

“Thanks,” Stiles said.

They lapsed back into silence.

“I do wish things had gone differently,” Derek said quietly.

“How so?” Stiles asked.

“If I’d had time to do this properly without the other Alphas giving me an ultimatum, I would have taken the time to court you beforehand. Or, at the very least, wine and dine you a bit.”

“And how have our friendly neighboring Alphas been lately?” Stiles asked. Derek hadn’t mentioned anything about them lately, but Scott and Isaac seemed more settled.

“They’re gone, as far as I can tell. No untoward carcasses and I haven’t caught their scents in a long time.”

“So now that they’re not pressuring us, what’s stopping you from courting or wining and dining me?”

Derek shrugged. “I don’t know. It just feels weird now. And I kind of like this whole ‘let’s see where this goes’ thing we’ve got going on. Less pressure for both of us.”

Stiles nodded. “There’s too much up in the air right now anyway, with me possibly going away to school.” He laughed. “Though it could be kind of awesome to have you pull up in front of my dorm in your Camaro and whisk me off somewhere for the evening.”

Derek laughed as well. “You’d definitely be the envy of the girls in the dorm.”

“And at least a few guys, I’m sure. I think I’m leaning towards going away to school. The whole getting out of Beacon Hills and seeing at least some of the world before I settle down – even if it’s just another part of California.”

“I think it’s a great idea. You definitely should do it.”

“Aren’t you worried about what Peter will have to say about it?”

“Not really. He’s always going to be doing his own thing regardless of what I do or say, so I just have to be aware of what’s going on. Most of the time, he’ll go along with me because it’ll be in his best interests to do so. And I’ll be ready for the other times.”

“What does he think of me as your mate?”

“He doesn’t think you’re ready. And in a lot of ways you aren’t – you don’t know much about pack law and history, though I know you’ve been working your way through the books, you aren’t a werewolf, you’re barely 18. He only sees the bad parts of you being my mate.”

“Are you regretting your decision?”

“Not at all. I think we’re a better fit than we anticipated and it’s just going to take some work.”

Stiles leaned his head against Derek’s shoulder. “You’ll tell me if you’re unhappy?”

“Of course.” Derek patted Stiles’ knee. “And you’ll do the same.”

“Yep.”

 

Time wore on and Stiles began receiving his college acceptance letters. He wasn’t surprised he got into Beacon Hills College – he’d figured that was a shoe-in. But practically every other college was a ‘yes’ as well.

With that knowledge in mind, Stiles, Derek, and John began weeding out schools based on location and academic curriculum. And from there, they went on campus tours together, thereby weeding out a few more. Stiles finally decided on the University of California with a major in history and sent off his forms.

That night, Derek made a celebratory dinner for himself, Stiles, John, Peter, and Cora in honor of Stiles’ dinner.

“So will the freaking out commence now that I’ve made a decision?” Stiles asked as they cleaned up.

“Nope. I’ve been taking it in stride as we’ve gone through the process, so I think I’ll be okay,” Derek replied, handing Stiles the last plate to dry. “I don’t know about your dad, though.”

Once Stiles put it away, Derek checked that the others were still talking at the table before crowding a surprised Stiles against the counter. He leaned and kissed him deeply and Stiles felt his toes curl in response as he kissed him back.

“Congratulations,” Derek said, leaning his forehead against Stiles’s.

Stiles grinned. “Thanks. Now I just have to make it through graduation.”

 

******

 

Derek pulled up in front of Stiles’ dorm in his Camaro and grinned as Stiles bounded down the steps to meet him. Both Derek and the car received appreciative looks as Stiles hopped in and pulled the door shut behind him as he leaned over to kiss Derek hello.

“So where are we going this weekend?” he asked as Derek took off.

“I thought we’d go to the house for the weekend, get some alone time.”

Stiles rolled his eyes with a laugh. “That’s what we did last weekend.”

“Can’t blame a guy for wanting to spend some quality time with his boyfriend, can you?”

“Not at all. But I do have to spend some time with my dad this weekend – he was pissed I didn’t see him last weekend. And Scott and Allison are going to be in town too, so we’ll have to see them.”

Derek huffed, but Stiles knew he didn’t truly mind.

“How are Peter and Cora doing?”

“Good. Peter’s still slinking around, but I think he’s mellowed a bit. And Cora’s boyfriend found out she’s a werewolf and that it runs in the family, so now he’s suitably scared and on very good behavior.”

Stiles laughed. “Wait until he finds out that I’m the normal one in the family. But at least now I’ll have someone to bond with over all the craziness.”

“You’ve been in the family too long, I don’t think you could be anywhere near normal if you tried.”

“Too true, too true. Have I told you I love you lately?”

It was Derek’s turn to laugh. “Not since last night.”

“I love you, Derek. And I still don’t regret becoming your mate.”