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i.
Unborn; seven years old


Derek is not lost, okay? He knows exactly where he is: the biggest grocery store in town, aisle – er – five with the cookies and chips. So Derek is not lost, no, but he doesn’t exactly know where his mother is either. Just five seconds ago he was trailing along behind her, scuffing his new sneakers Aunt Cece bought him for his seventh birthday along the dirty-looking linoleum while his mom murmured to herself about what was scrawled on her shopping list, and Derek was sure they were going to go down this aisle to get treats because he begs her every day for more chocolate cookies, but now he’s here and she’s not, and Derek thinks he could be close to crying.

No, Derek is resolute that he will not cry. Because alphas-to-be do not cry, and Derek knows his mom will be so proud of him if he can catch back up to her on his own – and then maybe he’ll get something fun to eat for sure. She’ll smile at him big and whisper how brave her son is and how he’s growing into a more distinct alpha every day. It’s just that Derek’s sense of smell isn’t too advanced yet, and there are so many harsh scents hounding him from human cologne to spoiling milk that he’s not sure he’ll be able to sniff out his mother.

If worse comes to worst, Derek thinks he could go up to a checkout and let a grown-up know he can’t find his mom, but the idea feels especially daunting even if everyone believes he’ll be a take-charge alpha. Besides, he thinks it’s more likely that his mom will circle back around for him sooner rather than later anyway.

Still, Derek wants to impress his mother, his pack alpha. Sometimes when his mom is away from the house, Derek’s dad will stand still, close his eyes, and tell of her exact location in town. Deciding to try that, Derek makes sure no one is looking his way before he clenches his fists and shuts his eyes and – er – feels. One by one, Derek tunes out idle chatter and harsher smells, tries to locate a familiar heartbeat or scent trail.

It takes a bit of Derek really trying to relax while simultaneously honing his tracking skills, and Derek is just about to give up when he catches a faint fluttering sound. The rhythm is similar to how his heart speeds up when he’s running, and he knows it’s not his mother’s because it’s so weak, but as he listens harder he’s overcome with this tugging in his chest that’s telling him to follow the beat.

Somehow Derek ends up across the store in the frozen foods, is marching his way to a heavily pregnant woman who is leaning over a selection of cooled pies. At first he thinks the woman herself is drawing him near, but then he realizes that she has a heartbeat and distinct earthy scent all her own, so he’s considerably confused when he halts right beside her and stares directly at her protruding belly, wants to nuzzle and cuddle what’s growing inside.

“Hello, little one. Can I help you?” The woman snaps Derek out of his daze, one hand propping herself up on the waist-height row and the other holding a fudge pop that’s still white with chill at the bottom.

“Can I hug your baby?” is what Derek replies with, and he can feel his eyebrows scrunching together in concentration, knows he might not look the friendliest, but he just wants to pick up the baby’s scent.

“Sure,” the woman opens her fudge pop arm, straightens up a bit.

Derek wants to tackle her belly to the floor, wrap it tight in his arms, but he’s also crushed with the urge to be so, so gentle, and trying to satisfy both instincts has his fangs itching to come out, a low growl ruminating in his chest. Once his hands are firmly placed on the sides of her stomach and his cheek is pressed above her bellybutton, the growl turns into a purr, and Derek doesn’t think he’ll ever pull away.

But he does, of course, because he needs to learn everything he can about these new people. “I think it’s a boy,” Derek divulges. “What’s his name?

“Well,” the lady gives him a bemused smirk and cocks her hip, “His name is Mieczysław Stilinski, but we haven’t decided on a middle name.

“My middle name is Alexander,” Derek rushes out, his wolf barking at him to lay some sort of claim on the unborn child.

“Hmm,” she seems to think on it, nudges dark, curly hair from her eye before taking a lick of her ice cream, “Mieczysław Aleksander Stilinski. Has a ring to it, doesn’t it?”

Derek nods helplessly along, doesn’t exactly know whether that’s good or bad, but he wants to keep the woman happy so that he can feel the baby move just like Cora did when she was still in his mom’s tummy.

“What’s your name?” she asks casually, then, “and who are you here with?”

Oh, yeah. Derek puffs up his chest and declares, “I’m Derek Hale, and I can’t find my mom.”

“Nice to meet you, Derek. I’m Claudia. Do you want to walk with me so we can find her?”

“Okay,” he says while automatically positioning himself to push the cart. “Maybe you can get my mom’s number so I can play with the baby when he comes out.” Derek is holding his breath for the answer, because if the lady says no then he might just explode. In fact, there’s a harsh growl heavying his chest already, pushing to be let out.

“That sounds fun,” she concedes to Derek’s utter relief. “Want a fudge pop?”

Five minutes later Derek’s mom and Mrs. Claudia are stood next to the bread discussing boring grown-up stuff like lawyer work and public official elections, but Derek can’t complain too much because he’s got chocolate on a stick in one hand and the new baby pressing up against his other.


ii.
ten months old; eight years old


“Derek,” his mom calls from downstairs, “our guests are almost here.”

Up in his bedroom, Derek scoffs. As if he can’t hear Mrs. Claudia’s old Jeep crunching up their road. As if he’s not already trying to match his own heartbeat to the baby’s. As if sharp cries aren’t repeatedly stabbing his gut. Which is why he’s still in his room, actually – he’s half-shifted already and just knows his eyes are burning red, and he doesn’t want his pack to know how little control he has over the reaction the pup pulls from him.

Deep, calm breaths. His face is back to normal, but his claws, fangs, and eyes are still wolfish.

Mrs. Claudia explained to him that the baby doesn’t cry because he’s hurt but because that’s his only way to communicate, that you can tell he’s okay if there are no tears, but it goes against every instinct Derek has to let the pup fuss.

Derek digs his claws into the carpet, back firm against his door while he waits for the Stilinski family to be greeted. Waits for them to set the raging baby on the rug in the den, surely already crawling for the staircase.

Wolf surging back towards the surface, Derek has thrown open his bedroom door and jumped down a flight of stairs to scoop up the precious thing before his heart can get through another tha-thump. Immediately his thumbs erase the trails of big, fat teardrops as a growl vibrates in his chest to settle the pup.

Already balmed, still as can be, the baby has his tiny hands on Derek’s cheeks, eyes big with wonder over Derek’s piercing red gaze.

“Hi,” Derek murmurs once his eyes have gone back to normal, rocks back and forth and offers a breathless smile.

Soft giggles match a wide smile, and Derek feels his chest puff out inadvertently.

“I see you’ve found your Stiles,” Mr. John seems to pop out of nowhere, using a derivative of ‘Stilinski’ that’s been easier for Derek’s tongue to form.

At first Derek is ashamed that he didn’t hear the man approaching, but he can’t really be mad at himself for lending the utmost attention to the baby. “I think he would’ve found me if he could’ve.”

“No argument there,” Mr. John mutters, hands stuffed in the pockets of his khakis as he waits for Derek’s dad to come into the den, most likely. They like to watch t.v. while the moms laugh loudly from the kitchen bar.

Derek has already set his attention on setting up Stiles’ toys on the den’s carpet when Mr. John decides to start talking again, scent wavering a bit uneasily: “You know, son, we’re far from neglecting Stiles. When he’s at home he’s happy as can be, and it’s only when he starts getting closer towards where you are that he gets fussy.”

Eyebrows pulling down, Derek holds the pup closer to his chest and tries as respectfully as possible to disagree. “He likes me.”

“Oh, we know,” Mr. John states, guilt rising in the air, “What I’m saying is that he’s only upset when he’s around you but can’t be right by you. Like he can – uh – sense you even when you’re miles away.”

Even though Derek kind of expected deep down that Stiles could feel his presence, it’s satisfying and relieving both to hear it confirmed that the connection goes both ways. “I can feel him whenever he’s on our side of town,” Derek admits.

Mr. John whistles. “Impressive. Stiles can pick you up about halfway down your road, I think.”

Derek doesn’t know how to respond, really. So many emotions are swirling in his stomach and chest and head. His dad comes out of his study, anyway, so Mr. John takes a seat on the couch, and Derek returns his attention to the baby, who’s starting to squirm.

After the dads are halfway through Naked and Afraid and the moms have discussed every school teacher they’ve ever known (including Derek’s newest, Ms. Job of the third grade, who is a mean lady) and Laura has stuck her tongue out at him for ‘hogging the baby’ and Cora has toddled her way all over Stiles’ special area, dinner is ready, and they all get seated around the Hale’s dining room table.

Stiles wins most of the attention, as always, hysterically laughing his way through flinging his peas at Derek and demanding to be leaned against Derek’s chest while he takes his bottle so he can still see everyone else. It’s obvious that Stiles’ is tired with the way he’s sucking one thumb and has his other hand pressed against the warmth of Derek’s throat, but he manages to keep his eyes open, which means Derek gets to stay up past his bedtime lest Stiles throw a tantrum at his absence.

Thirty minutes later they’ve all migrated to the den again, and Stiles has maneuvered his belly to Derek’s chest, eyelids sticking closed longer with every blink, when Mrs. Claudia says something that catches Derek’s ear.

“At our pediatrician’s office there was a nurse whose baby is just over six month’s older than Mieczysław, and I ran into her again at the park yesterday. The short version is that we’ve set up a play date for next weekend,” Mrs. Claudia cuts herself off from rambling.

“Oh, it would be nice for Mieczysław to have another friend close to his age,” his mom hushes.

Derek stiffens up at the implications. Technically she could be slighting Cora, who is nine months older than Stiles, but Derek doesn’t think that view is very likely. With Stiles’ tiny heart beating against Derek’s, the older can feel his eyes glowing red because he feels somewhat threatened by his mom’s conversation.

“I think she may also be going through a rough patch in her marriage, so she could use all the support she can get,” Mrs. Claudia lowers her voice as well as if the other weres in the room can’t hear the blood pumping through her veins.

“A psychologist through and through,” his mom chuckles, whatever that means, “and you’re taking on a patient pro-bono, too.”

Mrs. Claudia laughs in return, is starting to reply, but Derek has already checked out of the conversation. All he wants to do is steal the pup off so they can have some peace and quiet to watch cartoons that will make him laugh or play with toys that will help him stand. But with the pup’s eyes closed and Derek’s following suit, he knows their night together is coming to an end.


iii.
two years old; nine years old


Derek recalls Stiles’ first birthday being a grand affair. The Hale family’s whole backyard was filled with balloons and tables of dessert, and a lot of Hale and Stilinski friends showed up – including the new baby, Scott. Derek remembered hating having to share the pup’s attention with so many people.

Looking back now, though, with extended relatives of both Mr. John and Mrs. Claudia spread as far as the eye can see, Stiles’ first birthday was more like a regular play date than this Second Birthday Extravaganza.

The party is at Beacon Hills’ older park – the one with a pond and nature trail but a smaller playground, and grown-ups Derek has never seen before are gorging themselves on hot dogs while their terror toddlers try to catapult right through the top of a rented bouncy castle and shove sand down their pants in the play pit.

Derek hates the unfamiliar area and the too-loud chaos and the invading smells. He hates having to control his shift so perfectly and babysit snotty-nosed brats while Cora and Malia and Scott get to jump in puddles with Stiles. Most of all, though, Derek hates that no one realizes how important Derek is in Stiles’ life.

When Stiles scraped his knee, his aunts corralled him to Mrs. Claudia to make it better, and when it was time to eat, his uncles pushed Stiles into Mr. John’s lap to be fed, but Derek is the one that always kisses his booboos better and offers him sweets until he’s drowsy and content. Derek will admit he basked in the curious stares as the baby had to be pawned off to himself in both scenarios, but the grownups should already know that Stiles needs Derek most.

Eventually the birthday boy and Derek end up getting to be together on the park’s playset. Well, Derek is actually meant to be keeping an eye on all the smaller kids, but there’s a teenager helping most of them down the slide, so Derek thinks he’s allowed to focus his attention on Stiles.

Considerably tired and reasonably wary of flying bugs, Stiles is being extra clingy to Derek, and Derek can’t say he minds protecting the babe from sleep or flies. Derek would really like to put the toddler to rest with rumbles of his chest, but there are too many humans around for that, so he settles for letting Stiles lay his head on Derek’s shoulder as the older sways.

Stiles has grown to be extremely rambunctious, always running head-first into trouble and taking nose dives into danger, and Derek loves the boy’s energy, but he can’t say he regrets being allowed to safeguard Stiles’ more mellow moods either. When go, go, go is Stiles default mode, it’s nice to know he’s trusted with the boy’s more vulnerable moods, is all. So Derek tries to take advantage of their atypical peace by trailing off toward the park’s creek, letting Stiles lob rocks into the shallow water.

Stiles, czy możesz powiedzieć ‘Derek’?” The older practices his Polskie.

The toddler says, “Da,” leaves it at that as he grabs for another rock.

Mrs. Claudia came to Derek when fourth grade had just started and Stiles had just turned 18 months old. The babe at that point had taken to babbling nonsense a mile a minute – in English, at least. His mom was concerned about Stiles rarely responding to or speaking in a Polish tongue, so she requested Derek take it upon himself to speak Polish around Stiles as well in hopes that he’d begin using it more often.

Derek doesn’t know the specifics behind it, of course, but the task makes him feel important, and it’s nice to be able to prove himself as a dedicated, intelligent up-and-coming alpha, so he tries prompting Stiles’ Polish language whenever he remembers.

Gdzie jest Derek?” Stiles is obviously distracted and half asleep, so Derek doesn’t expect much.

“Da Da,” he looks to Derek, gesture in the right direction. In goes another stone.

Tak,” Derek acquiesces, “Daj mi the rock.”

It takes Stiles a moment before he’s grinning wickedly, standing up to chuck a skipping stone at Derek.

Caught between amusement at the boy’s antics and dread at their new game, Derek sets a firm jaw – just as an alpha would – and declares, “Nie.”

But of course, of course Stiles twists his mouth into a little smirk and reaches down for something else to throw.

He has quite an aversion to authority, his parents say, so they’ve nearly ruled out that he’ll grow into an Omega. But Derek disagrees. There’s just something so frustrating about the toddler not listening to him, disobeying him that gets Derek’s blood curdling.

Stiles’ attack doesn’t go as planned when he lets go of the rock too soon and feels it drop on his head. The boy freezes.

Derek holds his breath, heart slamming to a halt for the five seconds before Stiles begins fake crying. There are no tears, which means Derek is able to feel a bit proud over being right when telling Stiles to stop. But not too proud, because the child is still a baby. “Come here, Stiles,” the older opens his arms.

Stiles all but jumps into Derek’s lap, nose scrunched up and hand on his head as he whines.

Draining any vestige of pain (none), Derek hugs the toddler close and ducks eye level. “You’re so goofy, Stiles!” he tries to lift the mood, tickles lightly at a soft stomach.

The little one isn’t up for giggles and instead points at a random spot on his head.

“You’re okay, Stiles,” Derek balms, kisses at a mop of dark hair anyway, “All better.”

After that incident, Stiles promptly conks out on Derek’s shoulders, and an April drizzle starts up.


iv.
three years old; ten years old


Derek is in Mr. Lang’s fifth grade class at Beacon Hills School for the Supernatural. It’s actually called Beacon Hills Preparatory, but everyone in the know likes to refer to it as BH Supe, which is beside the point.

What is relevant is that in fifth grade, people are really starting to date. They pair up at recess and bike to each other’s houses on the weekends, and they kiss.

Mrs. Claudia has said before it’s likely because supes are more attuned with the earth and themselves and each other that they develop quicker, but Derek just isn’t sure.

Physically he’s ahead of the curve; even though omegas tend to hit puberty earlier than alphas, Derek is already growing hair everywhere and rumbling a deeper growl. His nose is sharper too, able to pick up just how sweet developed omegas smell.

The problem is that Derek doesn’t like any of the omegas he knows in that way. They smell nice, yes – better than alphas and betas – but he doesn’t want to hold and protect and claim, as Uncle Peter has mentioned before.

Erica Reyes keeps trying to set him up with Ean or Paige, and both are decent omegas, but his instincts disregard both of them.

Derek doesn’t want to admit it to anyone, but he thinks he might be broken.

––

The Hale house is uncharacteristically quiet for mid-afternoon.

Derek’s dad is tucked into his home office, typing away at an article despite it being Labor Day and his mom having a strict rule about no work on the holidays. Most likely Laura and her friends are giggling over boys downtown, Cora is writing on walls at her play-date’s house, Peter is with Aunt Cece and Malia making weird jokes at the park, and Derek is in a bad mood.

Just before he gives in and actually does his chores there’s a faint ba-bum he picks up from a few miles away. It can really only be one thing, and a splitting grin takes over his countenance.

Derek is standing on the front porch even before he can see Mrs. Claudia’s light blue Jeep rolling down the dirt driveway. He’s tempted to run out and meet them halfway, but he knows his mom would chide him for acting like he was raised by wild wolves.

As is, it’s all Derek can do to chirp out a “dzień dobry” before he’s yanking open the back door to find Stiles conked out in his car seat.

Halo, Derek,” Mrs. Claudia greets after shutting off the ignition. She walks around the car and offers, “dobra wymowa: good pronunciation.”

Dzięki!” he replies as honestly as he can while his focus is solely on lifting Stiles from his seat without waking him.

Once the boy is breathing shallowly against Derek’s neck he tries to be a better host by walking Mrs. Claudia to the door and offering her a drink, but his mom has already brewed up a dark tea and therefore promptly ushers him to the den.

Derek is already much more clear-headed, mood turned completely around by the soft scent of Stiles that he doesn’t question the Stilinski arrival… at first. It’s not that he isn’t happy to be surprised every so often, but his parents usually always let him know when Stiles will be coming over next so that he doesn’t badger them about it constantly. And Mr. John and Mrs. Claudia like to plan Stiles and Derek’s time together around the younger’s naps so that Stiles doesn’t get fussy and upset Derek.

Since Stiles is still out cold, Derek settles him onto the couch and decides he’ll get some juice ready for when the little menace wakes up. And if that puts him in range of hearing his mom and Mrs. Claudia’s hushed conversation, then so be it.

At first there isn’t anything too interesting to be picked up. He’s come in the middle of the conversation when who, what, when, where, and why have already been established. In fact, there’s a lull in conversation, so Derek decides to actually get on with opening the fridge.

“It’s just,” Mrs. Claudia whispers, “I’m so relieved to have answers.”

“I only wish I could have figured it out sooner,” Derek’s mom replies, the typical response of an alpha who feels like she’s let her pack down.

“No,” Mrs. Claudia insists, her voice wobbly yet heart steady. “Not even Deaton noticed, and he’s the resident druid.” She laughs. “Apparently the link is so weak since it’s been dormant for generations, but he says there was definitely a spark’s aura surrounding Mieczysław .”

Woah. Derek is frozen with the fridge door open, chill settling over the kitchen. Stiles is a Supernatural? He doesn’t really know what to think about that, but his heart is galloping away, and it’s obnoxious enough to alert the moms of his presence.

“Derek?” his own questions from the dining room.

Coming back to his senses, Derek places the pomegranate juice on the counter and searches for a glass and a spare sippy cup. “Getting a drink,” is all he offers, pours as fast as gravity will allow and skids out of the kitchen.

He doesn’t know what the information means, and he couldn’t get a good read on the adults’ feelings on the subject, but he’s sure he’ll find out eventually. They didn’t seem overly sad or scared, at least.

So Derek goes back into the den and pulls Stiles back into his lap, lets the boy nuzzle under his chin. And he can’t help a smile perking his lips. Because it’s about time everyone else noticed how special Stiles is.


v.
four years old; twelve years old


Derek is one of the oldest kids at the daycare. He easily could’ve gotten away with ditching the hellhole a solid year ago being that he’s a lot more mature than the other attendees and given that Laura could technically be in charge of them both at the house, but Derek begged his mom to let him stay as long as he could at Supernatural Smiles. Because Stiles is here, of course.

All the workers think it’s respectful that he wants to look after his de facto brother, and a lot of the girls think it’s cute that he’s protective of Stiles - especially if they’ve already presented as omega. The guys he plays basketball with are jealous that he gets so much attention - especially if they’ve already presented as alphas, and the beta personalities like that he doesn’t brag.

Needless to say, Derek gets a lot of special treatment at the daycare. Not only because of all the things mentioned, but because he’s about the only one who can positively affect Stiles’ behavior. In fact, it’s almost time Derek goes to Stiles’ classroom.

After shoving the rest of his turkey sandwich into his mouth, Derek guzzles down his blue Gatorade and throws away his trash. The lunchroom is small and sound amplifies off the walls, but Derek’s voice has dropped, holds the undertone of an almost-alpha’s now. “I’m going to preschool, Miss Washington,” Derek announces.

“Make sure you ask Hark,” their lunch lady replies, definitely frazzled as she juggles serving and washing and dismissing childish complaints.

Derek doesn’t ask permission, but he does tell the Supernatural Smiles’ manager that Miss Washington needs assistance in the kitchen. Harks asks him if he’ll go help in the pre-k room.

Subconsciously attuned to Stiles heartbeat as long as it’s in range, it takes no time for Derek to decipher that Stiles’ elevated rhythm means he’s likely up to no good.

At first glance - from ten yards away, through the door’s window - Derek can already tell Stiles is not eating his lunch, is not in his seat, and is throwing toys at Scott. So about the same as usual, actually.

A deep rumble ruminates in Derek’s chest just before he opens the classroom door, and he can hear Stiles’ pulse rabbit even as his actions freeze. Not five seconds later Derek is fully inside the room and Stiles has launched himself into Derek’s arms, breathless and giggling.

“What are you up to, pup?” Derek aims at stern and fails miserably, dazed by Stiles’ giddiness and flushed cheeks and bright eyes.

“Playing catch,” his grin twists wickedly. Derek can’t imagine the trouble he’ll cause as he grows up.

“Are you here for something?” the teacher asks, stance rigid and tone patronizing. She’s obviously a new hire.

“I’m here to help put the kids down to sleep,” Derek mimics her posture, voice deepening. He can feel his alpha ready to reveal itself more and more every day.

“Well you can help by taking that one to the office,” she informs a bit snidely, points to Stiles because of course..

It’s no wonder the kids don’t respect her with an attitude like that, and she’ll need all the help she can get putting them to nap if she wants her lunch. But Derek thinks he’ll let her figure that out for herself.

“Alright,” Derek says, grabs Stiles’ blanket from his cubby and walks back out, waving to the kids that whine at his absence.

Stiles’ pheromones are overflowing with excitement, not accustomed to the level of special treatment where he gets to hang out with the older kids. After thirty minutes outside he crashes, though, demands to be held in the way he lifts up his arms to Derek.

And Derek acquiesces, of course, despite being in the middle of his (half-assed, distracted) kickball playing.

They sit in the shade, and Stiles says “Thank you, Alpha” for God knows what reason just before falling asleep.

And Derek’s heart jumps and stomach knots, and he doesn’t know what either of their responses mean.

––

Derek wakes up feeling a bit – off. He can’t even describe what’s wrong, really. But there’s a restless energy thrumming through his veins, and he has to kick his covers off before he overheats, begins staggering out his bedroom door.

Once downstairs he accidentally runs straight into his mom while she’s carrying a load of clean clothes.

“Derek?” she questions, “What are you doing?”

He doesn’t answer, can’t, is scratching at his forearm to tame this incessant itching.

“Derek!” his mom sounds panicked this time, but it’s kind of far away, and then there’s a firm hold on both of his wrists that’s jerking his arms wide. “Stop!”

Vision focusing at the shock, Derek sees his mom inches away from his face, and he can feel claw marks stitching themselves up on his left forearm.

“You’re burning up, Derek,” there’s a concerned pull to her brow, eyes raking over Derek’s hunched figure. “Sweetheart, come with me.”

“I have to find him,” Derek pants out, eyes darting all around. Shit, his dick is heavy, and there’s an overwhelming urge to just fuck the tension out, but his wolf is clawing to the surface, telling him to go to Stiles.

Derek!” his mom shouts, voice edging toward that of the Head Alpha, “You’re in rut. You need to get to the saferoom.”

Despite the undertone of authority in his mom’s tone, Derek doesn’t feel the overwhelming urge to submit like he normally does, instead uses his excess adrenaline to jerk out of his mom’s grip on him, bolts towards the front door. And he almost thinks he’s made it, but then he’s slammed to their hardwood floors, can feel blood smearing across his stinging chin, hands behind his back and his alpha’s knee digging into his back.

“You will not go to Stiles, Derek,” she commands right beside his ear, “You will hurt him if you’re with him, and you could not live with yourself after that.”

Salty tears are running over the scratch on his face, and Derek is having trouble concentrating, his mom’s Alpha Voice doing little to contain him. “I need him, Mom,” comes out a whine, limbs struggling to get free.

“You do not need anyone, Derek,” his mom asserts, “you need to get into the rut room and calm yourself down.

Derek is so wound up, and being held still is draining him, so he can only sob out to take him to the saferoom. He tries to convince him that it won’t kill him.

––

The morning’s a cold, rainy start to winter break, and Derek awakes just after the sun. He’s curled up at the breakfast nook, forehead numbing against the window, when he hears his mom patter down the stairs, waits for her inevitable interrogation.

She kisses the crown of his head, moseys on into the kitchen to start up a pot of coffee.

He watches rain disrupt the tree leaves and darken garden stones. And even with his mother in the same room he can’t get it out of his head. He squeezes his eyes shut and clenches his fists, but there are still phantom flashes of pale skin and tiny fingers and -- Derek drags a gash into his palm to distract himself.

“Derek?” his mom calls, alarmed by the smell of blood, most likely.

There are tears blurring his vision, hot on his cheeks, and he hates himself. Pink lips, button nose. Jesus fucking Christ, he’s so sick.

“Oh, sweetheart,” his mom sighs, dropping to her knees and pulling his fingers from around his opposite wrist. “Your father and I need to talk to you.”

Derek’s stomach plummets. They’re going to disown him as their son or kick him out of the pack, or he’ll never be able to see Stiles again.

“It’s going to be okay, son,” his mom reassures, likely guilted by the stench of Derek’s fear, “this news should help you make sense of things.”

Thirty minutes later his parents have pulled up barstools and are facing Derek while he continues to stare out the window.

A few moments of deafening silence drag on before, “Son,” his father starts, “we should have talked to you about this sooner, but the odds were so low that we didn’t want to say anything until we were sure.”

“And we only began thinking about the possibility seriously after Claudia began getting tests done and Deaton revealed she has druid blood,” his mom cuts in, “Do you remember when we explained that she wasn’t sick, just that her spark was manifesting in odd ways?”

Derek does, but he’s reluctant to nod because he’s not sure where this is going. What, are they going to allow Mrs. Claudia the honors of torturing him because he’s a disgusting pervert who can’t stop thinking about her four-year-old son?

“The thing is,” his dad picks back up, hands clasped in his lap as he leans forward, “the percentage of Supernaturals who find their Soulmates in humans is incredibly rare. A Supernatural may take a human as a mate, but who they mate with is a choice whereas no one has any choice in whether or not he or she has a Soulmate.”

Perhaps his brain has been frozen completely by the window, because Derek isn’t quite following. He’s aware of this information already, and he doesn’t know where this conversation is going. Or maybe he does and he’s just pushing it from his mind.

It’s quiet again for as long as it takes for his mom to burst with the punchline: “Sweetheart, we think Stiles is your Soulmate.”