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Sugar and Spice

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“Come on, then, spark,” the werewolf grabs Stiles' face with fat, sweaty fingers and pushes his chin upwards to look into his eyes, “why don't you show us what you can do?”

Stiles raises his eyes to the sky to avoid direct eye contact, sighing through his nose. At the moment, both of his arms are being held in clawed hands – not even firmly. Just the threat of claws against his skin is what the weres consider incentive enough to keep him compliant underneath their hands; it's that exact assumption that's landed him on Deaton's operating table on more than one occasion for trying to outsmart them, or shake out of their hands.

“You could ask nicely, you know.”

The alpha in front of him smirks, pushing Stiles' face to the left, inspecting his profile for a few seconds while Stiles glowers and stares out at nothing. “Alphas don't ask for anything.”

Stiles snorts and tries to free his left arm; the beta's fingers tighten while the tips of the claws press against his veins, just enough to elicit a grunt of aggravation from his throat. “You want to fucking see?” He manages to wrestle his face out of the alpha's hand, probably simply because the alpha let him, and stares at him coolly, meeting his glowing red eyes with little more than a flinch. “Can I have one arm, please?”

The wolf in front of him flicks his wrist at the beta to Stiles' right. Finally, the claws retract and Stiles' arm drops limply down to his side. He makes a big show of stretching it out and rubbing at the pinpricks of red blood with a frown like he's in serious pain, and the alpha rolls his eyes and snarls under his breath.

“So pushy,” Stiles mutters, before flicking his fingers back towards himself in a gesture of come here. “Give me your hand.”

There's a beat of silence as the pack exchanges a look with each other – not a look of disbelief or doubt, but the classic look wolves have whenever a spark is about to show off their...spark. The this shit is really happening, how fucking cool, I wonder what he's going to do omg! look. Humans do it, as well, but they at least have the bare minimum of respect to ask politely, or to drop a dollar or two in the hat he puts down on the ground whenever he takes his act to the streets.

His act is mostly throwing fireworks out of the tips of his fingers or producing a stick of cotton candy out of nowhere for a little girl. Sometimes he turns his index finger into a lighter and puffs on a cigarette while the small pack of people that gather around to watch clap, or he'll concoct a tiny little rain cloud to drip on neighborhood kids on days when it gets close to a hundred degrees in the summer time. You know – circus shit. The kind of crap that has people going aww, fun! On a good day, he makes around fifty dollars. Not bad.

The alpha sticks his hand out, and Stiles raises his eyebrows with a smirk. “Don't be alarmed.”

“Okay,” he agrees amiably, grinning from ear to ear, his fingers twitching in excitement.

Stiles makes a show out of wiggling his fingers like he's getting the juices flowing, squinting his eyes in concentration like this is the most serious fucking thing he's ever done – as if he's about to reveal the secrets of the universe to this piece of shit. And the idiot is gobbling it up, as are his betas. They're wide-eyed, stunned silent, watching Stiles' every move with rapt attention.

Slowly, Stiles reaches his fingers out towards the alpha's outstretched palm, inching forwards with determination all over his face. “Stay perfectly still,” he warns.

He drops his fingers down into the creases of the wolf's palm and immediately the charge goes through his body; like an electric shock, or sticking his finger into a light socket. People wonder why he spikes his hair up with gel every single morning – it's because if he doesn't do it himself, his spark will do it for him whenever he does his special little trick. Luck of the trade, Stiles guesses.

With the tip of his index finger, he follows the creases in the skin carefully, with precision. It's mostly for show; human palm readers sit around with their charts and diagrams going hmm...now it looks like the cusp of Saturn is falling around the sun and your marriage line is pronounced so that means and oh my God your fate line...sir...don't go near the train tracks today... For Stiles it's more like pressing the play button on a DVD the second his fingers make contact with another person's skin. Bam – movie playing in his head.

The alpha is watching the fingers with so much intensity it looks like he's about to pop a blood vessel as his eyes flick between what Stiles is doing in his palm and Stiles' face, which Stiles has trained to look serious and concentrated. When, in reality, he's already thinking about taking the three dollars he has in his pocket down to the McDonald's a couple blocks away to get a large order of french fries.

“Hmm,” he murmurs, knitting his brow together, “that's...interesting.”

“What is?” The alpha demands, leaning forwards slightly.

“Well, it's just...”

“What?”

“Oh, Dear.”

“Fucking what!”

Stiles shakes his head slowly back and forth, pursing his lips down in an intense frown. “It would appear that...this isn't easy to say, but...”

The werewolves exchange a worried look with each other; Stiles can practically feel the sheer terror and anxiety rolling off of them in waves. Weres are so fucking easy to manipulate sometimes.

“...you're going to oversleep tomorrow.”

There's a pause. Silence. The alpha opens his mouth, holds it open without saying anything for a couple of seconds, and then, very slowly, he starts narrowing his eyes. “Are you playing games with us, spark?”

Stiles smirks broadly, tilting his head to the side. “I'd rather play with the soccer ball from Cast Away than you pack of fucking-”

He's getting shoved up against a wall – hard. His back smacks against the brick of the building they'd been standing in front of (the building he had been trying to fucking make his living in front of only ten minutes earlier before these fuckboys showed up) and suddenly there's nothing holding onto his left arm anymore. The betas fall away from him as a fucking gigantic clawed hand wraps itself around his neck – the fingers press just enough that Stiles can feel how much strength is behind them, how easy it would be for the alpha to snap his neck if he put even a twitch of more pressure behind them.

“Do you think I'm an idiot?” Canines drop down over his bottom lip and he growls right into Stiles' face, getting his putrid dead bunny breath all inside of his nostrils. Stiles scrunches his face up in distaste and sighs again.

“Oh, my God, that's exactly what I think. Are you the mindreader?”

Another growl, the fingers press harder; Stiles suddenly feels like his windpipe is about to be very seriously fucking compromised, which would suck, because part two of his street act consists of him whipping a guitar out from behind his ear to play whatever song is number one on the Top 40 radio stations that week.

“I should rip your fucking throat out,” the alpha inhales through his nose, his face as close to Stiles' as it can get without touching, long and hard. “I wonder if your blood smells as good as your skin does.”

It's a stupid threat. He's heard it about a zillion and five times – ooh, I'm going to eat your heart I wonder if it'd taste like sugar oh I bet it would, I want to rip your hair out of your skull and stuff it into a pillow, I want to make candy out of your skin and on and on. At this point, Stiles just rolls his eyes and purses his lips. “I wonder if your dick is the same size as your brain,” his eyes go huge, comically, and he mocks a gasp, “oh, jeez, I hope not, that'd be a shame.”

That probably would've been the straw that'd break the camel's back. He'd have gotten his neck snapped clean in half, died on the fucking sidewalk, come back to life an hour later with Dr. Deaton frowning down at him with a cluck of his tongue and one fucking hell of a crick in his neck. It's happened before; and don't fucking blame him for taunting alphas into killing him, all right? Maybe he'd be a lot better off if he'd just learn to shut his mouth and do his magic tricks for the werewolves every time they ask, let them run their noses up and down his throat with a smile, let them grab his arms and hold him down, all while he giggles like it's the most fun he's ever had.

He won't do that, though. He is, believe it or not, his own fucking person, and he deserves respect.

Not everyone sees it that way. So he's been killed about...give or take, fifteen times since he was seventeen years old and started performing on sidewalks for money in the city. Snapped neck, throat slit with a claw, head slammed too hard up against the concrete of the sidewalk, killed.

Every single time, he knows Scott sighs wherever he is, drops whatever he's doing with a snarl and hisses Stiles fucking got himself killed again. Allison probably frowns in worry, Melissa probably gets Dr. Deaton on the phone, and Derek Hale probably laughs maniacally while turning around in his swivel chair and petting slowly at a fluffy white cat. Because, yes, Derek Hale is an evil fucking genius and probably loves it every single god damn time Stiles winds up dead.

Scott is Stiles' connection. An invisible thread that connects them no matter how many miles apart they are, and sends signals, ranging from psst...Stiles is bleeding out on the side of the road near the mexi-mart or hey, buddy – we are out of cheetos can you pick some up on your way back to the apartment? Pretty much anything Stiles feels like sending him; Scott can't really answer him, since he's not magical, but if he's awake and hears it, Stiles can feel it.

Typically when Scott receives the perfunctory RIP Stiles message, he gets a shoot of anxiety mashed up with annoyance from Scott's end, if he's still cognizant enough to feel it.

Don't get him wrong; just because he can come back doesn't mean dying is exactly a walk in the fucking park, because it's kind of getting a little bit old hat, and it hurts like a fucking bitch. Deaton has started frowning at him as soon as he comes back to, shaking his head and saying, “there's no limit on how many times you can come back – but keep this up, and one of these days I'm just going to leave you dead for a couple of days to teach you a lesson.”

A lesson. Like it's his fault that werewolves can't stop killing him? Maybe he shouldn't taunt them and goad them into it, but, um?! He literally fucking dies! How does that not seem like an overreaction to anybody else? But, such is his life. He's tried to go to the police station every single time to say hey, you know, this dude fucking killed me last night, maybe you'd be interested to know...

Every single fucking time he winds up talking to literally anyone aside from his father, they just purse their lips at the word spark at the top of his driver's license, and sigh. “Stiles,” they'll say with narrowed eyes and shaking heads, “have you ever considered a new line of work?”

A new line of work aside from peddling his powers for money on the side of the road, making fifty dollars a day (sometimes upwards of sixty, on a day with lots of little kids and parents), getting fucking slaughtered every time a werewolf crosses his path. Because, as everyone knows, werewolves and sparks don't get along. It's a weird sort of relationship; seeing as how werewolves think that sparks are literally the most incredible things to ever walk the earth and smell so good and are so pretty, yet have absolutely zero fucking problems killing a spark or two or a hundred if a single one of them pisses them off.

So, yes. Maybe Stiles would do well to consider a new line of work. But he's one of only ten sparks within five hundred miles, and he's just, you know – capitalizing on his predicament. Humans are great and nice and fascinated by him, especially the teenage girls who giggle and blush when he pulls roses out of his sleeves, little kids love him, he's known around Beacon Hills, it's not all bad.

But, anyway. Back to the werewolf that's about to snap his neck.

The fingers tighten considerably, and Stiles starts to feel his face going red from lack of oxygen, just barely has enough time to think Deaton is going to bury me this time and make me crawl up out of my own grave, before a huge fist comes out and knocks the alpha off of him.

A couple of claws drag across his skin to leave behind some shallow cuts, there's some more punching sounds and growling; Stiles staggers away from the wall, gasping in a desperate breath as a fight breaks out somewhere behind him.

“Oh, man,” he groans, turning around to see Derek Hale rolling around on the ground with the other alpha while the betas stand back and kick their feet in the dirt (because alphas fight alphas, and no one's allowed to join in and help); he puts his hands on his hips and sighs. Another thing that's old hat is werewolves getting into fights.

He's seen this exact scene about, give or take, ten million times for as long as he's been alive. In school, whenever a pair of alphas would start in on it, snarling and clawing at each other in the middle of the hallway, everyone would roll their eyes and walk around them – sometimes Lydia Martin would somehow wind up in the fray, holding her textbook out in front of herself in defense as she tried to move her way around them, screaming, “I'm going to be late for Chemistry, you fucks!” The teachers never did anything about it. The students never gathered around to chant fight fight fight! Because they were all fucking bored by it by the time they were in high school.

Another thing that's really old hat is Derek Hale in specific getting into fights. Stiles has sat on the sideline many a time with his chin in his palm ever since Scott joined his pack, rolling his eyes and sighing as Derek beat some other werewolf's ass for who knows what reason that time.

It doesn't help that watching Derek roll around on the ground, as he kneels over the over alpha, as his jeans stretch against his ass, that Stiles, you know. Gets, like, aroused for a second. It's a good thing that he's a spark, and has the power to cover up his emotions and the scent of his arousal by fluffing out overpowering bursts of a sugar scent; otherwise he'd have been in trouble long ago, where Derek is concerned.

And – okay. It's not like he's in love or anything; because honestly Derek is a very hard person to even like, most of the time. He's just. Hot. He's good looking. In a sexual way. Like...Stiles has thought about his dick. That's all. Not a big deal.

“Tick tock, tick tock,” Stiles hisses at the battling wolves, tapping his finger on his wrist impatiently. “Wrap this up. I don't want my dad showing up to address a noise complaint because Mrs. Cooper heard what sounded like a pack of rabid cats fighting in the alley.”

There's one last bought of snarling and growling and bones snapping, and then Derek is rising victorious out of the cloud of dust, eyes glowing, blood running out of his mouth in a steady stream. The other alpha growls from down on the ground, arm twisted at an obscene angle, one fang missing from his mouth, looking like a hot fucking mess down there.

“Don't do that again,” Derek warns, voice low, flicking his eyes briefly to where Stiles is already starting to collect the small pile of crumpled up dollar bills and shoving them down into his pocket.

“Didn't realize he was-”

“He's not.” Derek corrects him before he can even finish the sentence. Because, it's true – Stiles isn't the Hale pack's spark. He's Scott's spark, and Scott is in the Hale pack, now, but it's not really the same thing. Being the Hale pack's spark would mean connecting himself to the alpha of the pack, and...

Stiles surmises the absolute fucking last thing Derek would ever want to do in his life is connect himself to Stiles. So, what, Stiles could be inside of the alpha's head, taunting him from miles away about that time at his senior graduation that he tripped over his gown and faceplanted on the stage like the least graceful alpha werewolf that ever fucking lived?

That was literally nine years ago. Stiles doesn't forget anything.

So, reiterated – no, Stiles is not the Hale pack's spark.

But it's not like he hasn't thought about it.

He is the spark that happens to be invited to the Hale pack's barbecues, happens to be connected with one of the members, just happens to exist at all. One of them shows up if they manage to catch the scent of Stiles being all in trouble. All wolves are pretty well attuned to what a sparks' distress signal smells like – most of them kinda get off on the scent, actually, which...let's not focus on that.

Usually Derek only shows his face if he just happens to be in the area; and the only reason he does isn't because he gives a shit if someone hurts Stiles. He does it if he's not particularly in the mood to drag Stiles' dead body into his car to take him to Deaton for resurrection.

“But don't.” Derek glows his eyes and growls one last time, before the other alpha climbs up out of the dirt with a grumble and flicks his head at the other two betas.

“You would do well to set an alarm, fucker!” Stiles shouts at their retreating backs. He shakes his head as he picks his baseball hat up off the ground, now empty of any residual bills, and shoves it down onto his head backwards to flatten his hair out on top of his head (as much as it can ever fucking flatten out. He has a tendency of looking like one of those creepy keychain gnomes.)

Derek turns around and faces him, taking a few steps closer as he sweeps his eyes up and down Stiles' body like he's searching for any visible bruising or bleeding, lands on the scratches across his neck, and purses his lips. “You were telling the future again, weren't you?”

This is kind of known. Known by people who know him, at least, because the whole palm reading thing isn't exactly something that he does in his public act, or really does for anyone. “Telling the future is a strong term for it.”

Without warning, he reaches out and grabs the alpha's hand. Zing, ping, bam, electricity, Derek growling don't fucking do that and - “you will eat a ham and cheese sandwich tomorrow, ooh! Fascinating stuff, right?”

It's his special talent. Every single spark has one; like, for example, Kira Yukimura is particularly adept at throwing fucking fireballs at anyone she finds threatening when the most Stiles can do is his lighter trick. And fucking Vernon Boyd can literally produce poison and toxic vines from nowhere, fucking strangle someone with them.

Stiles can “predict the future.” And by that, he gets bizarre flashes of people eating sandwiches or slipping on a patch of ice or oversleeping. It's useless. Useless. Fucking useless.

“But then...how do you know if you're going to eat the ham and cheese because you were anyway or – because I told you so?”

Derek gets the same look on his face he does every time Stiles talks to him. It's like a...annoyed hatred crossed with barely restrained homicide type of thing. Eyebrows and all. “I'm just going to not eat it all.”

“That's now how it works, alpha,” Stiles shakes his index finger in his face, “you'll see what I mean.”

“Stop doing that,” Derek points his own finger in Stiles' face, glowering at him with so much force Stiles thinks it should literally melt the flesh off of his face. “Stop with this.” The nearly getting killed bit, Stiles assumes.

“I do what I want,” Stiles says simply, shrugging his shoulders as he pulls his car keys out of his pocket to twirl them around. “Thanks for the white knight routine, by the by.”

Like Derek doesn't fucking like the idea of being called white knight in any capacity whatsoever, he growls under his breath at Stiles and huffs. “One of these days, we're just going to leave you dead on the sidewalk.”

Stiles smirks at him right before he turns around to hobble off to his car parked a couple of blocks down, in front of the McDonald's he is certainly going to be patronizing tonight. Near death experiences always make him crave a shitty hamburger – or, five shitty hamburgers. “Looking forward to the silence of death, honestly.”

“It's not funny,” Derek hisses at his back, but Stiles just waves his hand over his back and keeps on walking, laughing quietly to himself.

Derek doesn't much care for Stiles; he doesn't think the wolf has ever thought about Stiles' lips wrapping around his dick – which kinda sucks, because Stiles would super love to do that.

But, and he doesn't have to be a good palmreader to figure this out, that's just not in his future.

----

The first time Stiles got one of his shitty visions, it was Scott.

He was around twelve years old, learning how to produce a tiny little flame out of the tip of his index finger and how to make something out of nothing, and Scott was impressed. Stiles was the only spark in school, the only spark for miles and miles, and as soon as he started showing his true potential people were gathering around him at lunch and chanting fire, fire, fire! It was probably the height of his childhood career, probably the height of his entire god damn life, if he's being honest, when he was the only spark and everyone was a fan.

That was all before Kira showed up and was better and cooler than he ever was, but no matter. All good things must come to an end, as they say.

All the same, one day he grabbed Scott's hand to stop him before he left his lunch on the bus, and – fzztt, all his hair stood up on end, Scott said ow, and Stiles saw plain as day like a movie in his head...Scott checking a Goosebumps book out of the library.

“Dude,” he'd said, excited. Excited, because back then he thought that his visions would eventually get better. Like, Scott checking out books from the library and his father going to the grocery store were all preamble visions to the good stuff, like when people were gonna die and if there was some danger soon coming their way. Stuff like that.

Never happened. Stiles has never, never once had a fucking useful vision. He can't think to himself okay, magic eight ball, reveal to me...the exact time of death of this person in front of me, grab their hand, and magically have an answer. He just sees them eating doritos or pulling their hair up into a ponytail in the mirror or kissing someone or hemming and hawing over what kind of pizza they're going to get. No matter how many times in tandem he'll grab at their hand, again and again and again, nothing useful ever comes out of it.

Like he's still stuck on pre-school version, or something. Because when Kira was twelve, her fireballs were tiny and minuscule, really more like fire specks, but as she got older they got better, bigger, more lethal. When Boyd was twelve his vines were dandelions and buttercups, but as he got older they turned into thorns and poison ivy (and the occasional marijuana plant – not that Stiles knows anything about that...)

But, Stiles? Nope. He's never gotten any better. He used to sit up at night poring over his books, trying to find something to help him excel. He and Deaton would sit for hours at a time, Deaton with his palm resting in the center of the table for Stiles to grab over and over, and...nothing.

He's perfectly fine at every thing else. Better than others at some things. Like, Kira can only produce violets, and Stiles can pull any flower he can think of out of his sleeves. Or, Boyd can only make a rain cloud, but Stiles can make a storm cloud, with tiny little lightnings and thunders (a crowd favorite). Stiles can make cotton candy, marshmallows, can spin sugar out of his fingertips and weave rock candy if you give him enough time, or coat an apple in sticky, sugar-y goop.

The fucking palm-reading though. His special, unique talent, and he's not even fucking good at it. It's embarrassing. Most people don't even know what it is that he does, honestly; Kira and Boyd know because of the Special Secret Sparks Sessions (that is not what we are fucking calling it, Stiles) (then explain to me why I made t-shirts reading exactly that, Boyd?) where the three of them hangout as the resident sparks to talk about all kinds of spark related issues. Things like helping each other get better at the things all three of them can do, learning new tricks, eating pizza and trying to be activists for spark rights. You know – how it should absolutely and completely be illegal to fucking kill them, no matter if they can come back or not? Seeing as how there's only three of them in Beacon Hills, they're not making a lot of strides.

Kira always says oh, Stiles, you'll get better at it. It's probably just...but she doesn't know what it is, and neither does Deaton, or Boyd, and they can't think of any reasons for why he would be fucking falling behind.

Boyd kind of just mumbles under his breath about it's not weird...you're good at other stuff...in his gruff way of trying to make him feel better about it. It doesn't work. Stiles feels like he's stunted, or handicapped, or...something.

He used to think that maybe the palm-reading thing isn't actually his special gift, and it's just some neat little side-show trick he can do. His real gift is something way cooler than that, it fucking must be, right? He's tried to do fireballs, to no avail. He's tried to do Boyd's lethal vines, failed. He's tried controlling the weather, tried running super duper fast like the Flash, tried throwing fucking spiderwebs out of his wrists for Christ's sake, and nothing.

Doomed to a life of being mocked by everyone around him because his gift is dumb and he's a glorified candyman. Well, at least he milks it for all the laughs he can get out of it, right?

Plus, the one good thing about it is that, no fucking matter what, he's always right. It's the most satisfying thing on the face of the planet hearing people say I just won't go to the library tomorrow or I just won't eat any Chinese food tomorrow or I'm not taking the train, then! Because it's literally like the universe conspires on Stiles' side to force these things into happening the second anyone tries to resist. It's fucking hilarious.

For example. The following afternoon, Stiles is juggling bright red balls that he keeps pulling out of his hair for a small crowd of amused onlookers, when he suddenly gets a very, very strong feeling that...

Derek is eating his ham and cheese sandwich. Nearby.

He laughs mid-juggle, catches the balls in the palm of his hand, bows, collects his money and his hat and scurries off to the deli a couple of blocks down. Stiles isn't sure that that's where Derek is – but he feels like he just might be. Whenever he gets these feelings, he's right about sixty percent of the time. The trouble is, the feelings are so close to what normal people might associate with a hunch; so it's really, really hard to tell the difference between hunches and actual prophetic spark-related prophecies.

When he peers in through the huge glass window and sees Derek sitting there shoveling a sandwich bite by bite into his mouth at a table with his sister, he laughs out loud.

Stiles presses his nose against the glass, and taps his fingers in a steady beat to get the alpha's attention. Derek raises his eyes, meets Stiles', and freezes mid-bite. Stiles leers so broadly he's sure that he looks fucking borderline maniacal to anyone else in the cafe, and raises his eyebrows. “Nice sandwich,” he says, knowing Derek will hear it loud and clear.

Laura turns around, sees him, and waves with a smile – she fucking likes him, for one. Most of the Hale pack likes him, as a matter of fact. Derek's mother thinks he's amusing, Derek's father likes that he has a talent for fixing cars with just a touch of his hand, his sisters like him because of his candy making abilities and how he reeks of sugar and happiness, and they'll sometimes sit in a circle with him, forcing him to touch their palms again and again, trying to find out if they're going to get kissed any time soon.

It worked once. After ten straight minutes, he ran his finger across Cora's palm and fzzt – there she was liplocking it with none other than Isaac Lahey; he sat there in shock for a second, mouth opening and closing, Cora screaming what did you see! What was it! What did you see!

When he told them, Derek, who had been sitting on the couch nearby pretending to read, threw his book down on the table and said you are not fucking allowed to kiss that pretentious little shit.

Didn't matter either way. Cora and Isaac kissed.

The point is, every single other member of the Hale pack is his friend, except for the alpha. Which is decidedly upsetting, considering the amount of times that he and Stiles have, like, done it inside of Stiles' nasty sex dreams.

The man in question narrows his eyes out at Stiles, picks up the other half of his sandwich, keeping eye contact with Stiles as he slowly moves his hand over to the garbage can to dump the sandwich into it. Stiles raises his eyebrows, smirking, right as Laura whips around and sees her brother trying to throw out an entire sandwich half.

Hey,” and her voice is loud enough that Stiles can hear her through the glass, “there are children starving? Finish that.”

Stiles grins so much as Derek deflates guiltily and slowly brings his sandwich back to sit on the table that he's sure his face will be permanently stuck into a Cheshire Cat leer for days. And that's what Stiles means; you cannot fucking escape the fate Stiles bestows upon you. If Stiles says you're going to eat a ham and cheese, you will eat a ham and cheese sandwich. If aliens invade the earth, they will shove a ham and cheese sandwich down your fucking throat. If you try to run from the ham and cheese, hit the road, disappear in the back of a cargo truck undetected – the trucker piloting it will rip open the back doors with a ham and cheese in his hands and say jeez, are you hungry? Want a snack?

Derek should know better by now. He tries every single time to avoid it, and he fucking fails. Now, most of the time, he just shoves his hands into his pockets every time Stiles is around.

To put it simply, Derek doesn't like Stiles. The alpha acts like he's so annoyed by every thing Stiles can do, like how every single time Stiles pulls a flower out of his sleeve or says pick a card, any card or spins candy for the kids, Derek stares at him with a frown so intense Stiles thinks it should be in a book of records somewhere. Derek Hale : Most Intimidating Frowny Face.

Sometimes Stiles calls Derek Mr. Doom and Gloom, and produces a storm cloud to have it follow Derek around everywhere he goes, with tiny flashes of lightning and booms of thunder. “Turn this fucking thing off,” he had hissed last time while he wandered all around the room, dripping wet as he tried to shake the cloud off of his trail to no avail.

So, maybe he goads Derek into being annoyed by him. Maybe. Kind of. But it's just so fucking funny to Stiles, the way Derek gets so mad over every little thing Stiles does. How is he supposed to resist the temptation of taunting Derek when his reactions are so hilarious?

Plus, it's the only interactions they ever really get to have. The only times Stiles and Derek can have a conversation is if Derek's growling at him and Stiles is snarking back into his face - it's just how their relationship is.

Bottom line, Stiles will probably never be invited to be the park's spark. Which he's honestly fine with, most of the time in all honesty; he doesn't really have to be the official pack spark to hang around with them and provide his magical and calming services to the pack at large, since he belongs to Scott anyway. Seeing as how the only person who gets to have a say in whether or not the pack gets a spark, and Derek is the alpha, it's just not likely to ever become official. It's okay – Stiles can survive off of his fantasies for the rest of his life. Derek will only ever be into him in the confines of his dreams, and that's...okay. He can jerk off in the shower from now until the end of time. He'll survive.

And it doesn't necessarily matter that much. Very few packs have sparks, to begin with, because tensions between the two groups have been running pretty high lately. In example : Stiles getting killed by alpha werewolves pretty much every time he turns around.

Sparks and weres were meant to help each other out. Werewolves are the brawn and bravery, and sparks are the brains and cleverness. Balance. Right? Of course a werewolf pack would want a spark around to help them in battle, or just there to be that soothing presence like all sparks are supposed to be.

It's the smell. Something about the way sparks smell is soothing, calming, enchanting to werewolves. Like, Boyd smells like fresh rain and Kira smells like a campfire and Stiles smells like sugar. The kind of stuff people make candles out of (and, literally - Stiles could sell his hair and skin cells and blood and make thousands upon thousands of dollars off of a few candles made out of his bodily excrement.)

As it is, though. That smell has become less of a privilege to be earned and more of a right werewolves think they can come in and take.

There are very few sparks around these days. There haven't been very many sparks for generations; apparently at some point in history there were as many sparks as weres, but the numbers have drastically fucking dwindled, and have been dwindling since the 1800's. Some of them get killed off too many times and stamp do not resuscitate on their collarbones. Some of them just kind of...disappear. Without a trace. People sit around hemming and hawing like where are all the sparks going, what's happening to all the sparks?

Stiles knows exactly what happens to all the fucking sparks. So do Kira and Boyd. It's not something they particularly like to talk about.

Point being ; there's no drive for Stiles to seek out a pack, he's perfectly happy being Scott's spark exclusively, and Derek has expressed absolutely zero interest in connecting with him and definitely never fucking will, so...things are okay. Everything is perfectly great how it is. No complaints whatsoever.

----

Scott likes to be seen in public with Stiles. One of his favorite things on the face of the planet is taking Stiles out to lunch or dinner on a Saturday, when everyone is out and milling about in town and he can be seen with the spark.

Even though pretty much everyone in town already knows that Stiles is Scott's spark and best friend, he gets this proud look on his face whenever someone comes up and asks Stiles to heat their coffee back up, whenever Stiles whips cotton candy up for a little kid, whenever another wolf catches Stiles' scent and comes over for a friendly handshake so the scent of his skin will linger on theirs for a day or so.

Today, Scott and Allison drag Stiles out for hot chocolate – which really translates to Stiles concocting marshmallows to drop into the mugs of ecstatic children that all start chanting his name the second he walks inside. Neither Kira nor Boyd are as good at controlling sugar like Stiles is; which might not make either of them the fan favorite, but it does make them about eight thousand times more useful than Stiles. What's Stiles supposed to do in the heat of battle?

Turn into the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man like in Ghostbusters? Honestly.

All the same, when the three sparks go out together for dinner, typically Stiles is the one everyone comes up to for a cool trick. Kira and Boyd do dangerous things, Stiles does cute things. He's accepted it by now. And plus, it's always nice to be the favorite.

“Derek's been such a fucking pain lately,” Scott complains as he melts one of Stiles' marshmallows in his own mug of hot chocolate while beside him, Allison has one in between her fingers, nibbling on it in between sips. “He's so – like – broody.”

“Maybe I should make him another rain cloud,” Stiles suggests with a smirk, remembering the last time he did that. The last several times he's done that. A couple weeks ago he spun his finger in the air to get the condensation going and Derek slapped it out of the air before even a wisp could appear over his head, glaring at him.

“This is different, though,” Scott laughs a little at Stiles' suggestion and then sobers, narrowing his eyes, “he's...like. It's just different. Right?”

His eyes flick to Allison, who nods up and down. “He's been really down in the dumps.”

“He's been a douchenozzle.”

“Sad, I think.”

“Well,” Stiles scratches at his face, tries to ignore the way a pack of teenage girls are staring at him from two booths over, “maybe the pressure is getting to him?” The pressure of just becoming the alpha, out of nowhere; his mother had been the alpha, of course, leader of the pack, mother of the cubs, and on and on and on. But when an alpha reaches a certain age, usually around mid-40's, their powers start to lessen. Their body starts getting too world-weary to handle all that power and energy, and so it looks for someone else to latch onto.

In the Hale Pack's case, that someone else was sixteen year old Derek. Which took everyone by surprise, because they had assumed it would be Laura. Laura, who was strong-willed, on the debate team, loudmouthed and brave, who had already been given the alpha crest on a chain for her seventeenth birthday in preparation for it.

When Derek got the wind knocked out of him at the dinner table one night, when his eyes glowed red and his mother's faded into gold, everyone was shocked. Derek probably most of all. Because Derek...is quiet. He's quiet and reserved and, while tough and rough around the edges, he never really seemed to have the leadership qualities of Laura. In testament to how Laura really should have been made alpha, she only spent approximately a minute or two being upset, quietly in the corner while everyone fawned over her brother; before she unclipped the alpha crest from around her neck and held it out to her brother with a proud smile.

But it's been ten years since then. Derek has more or less grown into his role and he's not half bad at being alpha.

It still must be hard to lead a pack of people, to have everyone looking to you for the next move, for the big decisions, to have to be the tie-breaker in votes and the voice of reason and the one with the plan. Since he and Stiles aren't exactly pals who go out and get coffee together to talk about their woes, Stiles isn't particularly sure how he's handling that. All the information he gets on Derek's personal life comes from Scott, and from Derek's best friend (who happens to be Boyd – if he weren't already connected to the Martin pack, Boyd would've probably become the Hale pack's spark, Stiles assumes).

Boyd is about as interested in gossip and feelings as Stiles is in watching paint dry, and Scott is clueless and can't read a person's emotions even with werewolf senses, so Stiles literally has got nothing on Derek's personal life. All their interactions boil down to don't fucking do that and Stiles wiggling his fingers and getting beat up and Derek saving the day and that type of stuff. Not a lot of time to gab and relate to one another.

Point being – if Derek's feeling down, Stiles would have no fucking idea why; you can imagine that in his sexy E-rated dreams, Derek never stops in the middle of sucking Stiles' dick to go man, you know...being alpha is just so hard...

“He's just been more reserved, lately,” Allison provides, munching slowly on her marshmallow, “and that's – you know, that's really saying something.” Stiles does know that Derek being more reserved is really fucking saying something. “Just seems like he's thinking about something all the time.”

“When's he ever not thinking about something?”

Scott rolls his eyes and sighs. “I don't know, but it's annoying that he's so fucking down because it affects all of us. It's, like, cheer up, sad sack?”

When Stiles comes over to the Hale house for dinner that same night with Scott and Allison, he notices what they mean pretty much instantaneously – because Derek is nowhere in sight. Normally he's down here on the couch reading a book or sitting with a pack of the younger kids letting them put cat stickers on his face while Lord of the Rings plays in the background; normally he looks up when Stiles walks in and gives him a terse look, like make a fucking cloud and I will rip your throat out of your neck. This time, though, he's just not around.

There's also a palpable energy in the room of...negativity. Stiles might not have the werewolf sense to sniff out emotions directly from a person's fucking neck or something, but he does have the whole in touch with energies thing going for him; and the energy in the entire Hale house is just - not great? Lackluster. Tired.

It's not usually like this, Stiles thinks, as he glances around to find Cora and Isaac sitting on the couch, bored and watching television with glazed eyes, Laura and Martha playing cards at the coffee table with sighs and rolled eyes, the younger kids half heartedly mashing around with play-doh. Now he gets what Scott meant by how Derek being down in the dumps has been effecting everyone. Clearly he under-exaggerated it.

He chose a good night to come for dinner; the entire pack could use some spark energy. Just the sheer scent of him has people perking up, has Cora and Isaac rising from the couch to wrap him up in back to back hugs with smiles and pats on the head, Talia coming out with a pair of ovenmits on her hands and a grin, has the kids smiling and dropping their play-doh in favor of demanding tufts of cotton candy (which he says no to after a narrow-eyed look from Talia).

Derek emerges about two minutes after the entire room erupts into laughter after watching Stiles use the electric shocks in his fingers to make Laura's hair stand up on end like in a science textbook from elementary school. He stutters down the steps on quick lumbering feet, loudly, and the entire room turns to look at him, Stiles included. Derek stares directly at Stiles, and Stiles stares back – it's not unlike nearly every other single one of their interactions.

Except. Maybe it is different. In an almost undetectable way, Stiles senses something off. And not in the negative way that the room was off when he first walked in, but just – just fucking off. Like he's seeing Derek for the first time, or something. It irks him. He can't say he likes it very much, and he breaks off eye contact and clears his throat uncomfortably, something that he's never, ever done in the face of the alpha.

He listens to the heavy foot falls coming up behind him from his spot on the couch, in-between Laura and Martha, and stares down at the cards in his hand.

“You playing tricks with those?” Derek asks. His voice is quiet.

Stiles glances up at him for a fraction of a second, and then looks away. “Um – we're playing go fish.”

Derek cocks his head to the side and runs his eyes up and down Stiles' neck; like he's looking for the scratches that were there the last time he saw the alpha, when the wolf saved his life. “You been getting into trouble again?”

At this, Stiles smirks. “Always.”

It's a very strange interaction. Normally Derek comes down and says hands in your fucking pockets do not start with your magic tricks and Stiles sends a burst of light out of his fingertips to swirl around Derek's head while the alpha swats at it with an annoyed grunt. Or Derek comes down and gives Stiles little more than a narrowed-eyed look, or sits next to him on the couch and offers him not a single fucking word.

It's strange, what's happening right now. Strange enough that Laura and Martha exchange a look over Stiles' head, that Talia peaks her head out from the kitchen, that Scott stares openly with a dropped jaw.

Derek sighs. But he doesn't say another word to Stiles for most of the night; even though he chooses, bizarrely, to sit right next to him at the dinner table. The air in the room stays constantly buzzed and happy and jovial for the entirety of the night, right up until Stiles is about to leave again. He chalks that up to the fact that Derek is feeling down, and his alpha influence makes everyone feel down, and Stiles can provide general happiness to everyone at large. Soon as he leaves, all that's left is Derek and his sadness. Nothing to even it out.

Right before he leaves, Derek stops him at the door, narrows his eyes, and says, “don't fuck around.”

This is a lot more like the conversations they normally have. Stiles raises his eyebrows into his hairline, while Scott and Allison pause on the front porch, waiting for him. “That's just what I do.”

The alpha gives him a long look. “I'll just leave you for dead, Stiles.”

“You wouldn't dare,” he taunts back, grinning broadly – and before the alpha can pull his hand away from where it's hanging limply at his side, Stiles scrapes his index finger down the palm of it. “Enjoy your ravioli tomorrow, alpha.”

Derek slams the door behind him when he leaves so hard he thinks he hears the wall crack, and Stiles cackles out into the night.

----

He was just trying to buy a burrito. That was his entire fucking mission – he wanted a burrito from the twenty-four hour taco place near the truck stop at two o'clock in the morning. That's all.

No sooner had he taken his first bite with an orgasmic, gleeful moan on his walk back to to his car in the dark parking lot, than was a clawed hand sticking out from behind an SUV and his burrito was spilling all over the pavement as he went flinging through the air before getting slammed hard enough to lose his breath against a car.

He swears he hears the fucking metal dent.

Blinking rapidly, coughing and sputtering because he nearly choked on a mouthful of rice and beans, he looks up into the face of the alpha he'd seen only a couple days earlier. The one who was supposed to oversleep.

Judging by the look he's giving Stiles, he hasn't come back around because he decided he likes Stiles, now, and they're going to be best buddies and make macaroni art together.

“Spark,” he greets with a snarl, red eyes glowing directly down at him.

Stiles coughs.

“You were right.”

“Usually am,” he sputters out; he's lifted about a foot off the ground, back pressed up against the SUV, an alpha werewolf's hands holding him up by the lapels of his jacket. This is not the best situation he's ever been in.

“What else do you know?”

Stiles shakes his head as much as he can as he eyeballs the remnants of his burrito off to the side on the ground, ruined. “Honestly, nothing.”

“Really?” The alpha deposits his feet on the ground, so Stiles can finally suck in an entire breath. “Because it seems to me, like-”

“My fucking burrito,” Stiles cuts him off, staring directly down at the tortilla and rice mess at their feet. “That was a seven dollar burrito.”

The alpha doesn't look impressed or interested at all. He grabs Stiles' face with his gross sweaty fingers again and pushes his chin up to look him in his eyes.

“Did anyone ever teach you about personal-”

“Shut your fucking mouth,” his fingers squeeze against his jaw, into his cheeks. “Do it again. What did you do? Let me-”

“It's my talent,” Stiles muffles out around the fingers as much as he can. It comes out sounding a lot like itss fmy falent but the alpha clearly gets the point. There's a couple seconds of dead air as the alpha stares into his eyes, and Stiles, uncomfortable under his gaze, unsure of what the fuck is about to happen to him, looks away. Mentally he sends out the bat signal to Scott – of hey...um..are you awake?

He doesn't get anything back. Scott is dead asleep. This is not good.

Two am burrito might not have been the best fucking idea.

“Do it again.” The alpha repeats, more forcefully this time, through his teeth, dropping his hand away from Stiles' face to rest on his neck.

Stiles swallows thickly, adam's apple bobbing against the hand there. “I usually charge five dollars a pop, so-”

“I'm not paying you.”

“Okay, look – just...” the time for jokes has long passed. Alphas don't like being taunted, and the only response he's ever going to fucking get out of this guy by trying to be a funny guy is a snapped neck. Maybe he's not in the fucking mood tonight. Who knows how long his body'll lie in the parking lot for until someone finds him? “...it's really not what you think it is. Okay? It's just-”

“Do. It. Again.”

Stiles tries to sidestep a little bit, but, to no avail – the alpha boxes him in again, starts grabbing at Stiles' hand. The alpha scrubs his palm up against Stiles' against and again, his clammy disgusting fucking hand, and Stiles squeaks.

“Okay, just – that's not how-” The pressure starts turning painful. “You can't do it, only I can fucking-”

Beefy fingers pull his hand up into the air, squeeze against his wrist – Stiles hears the crack before he feels it, screams out in pain before he's even fully registered what's going on, and the alpha doesn't even blink. In fact, from the leer on his face, Stiles could guess that there's nothing he enjoys more than the pain response of a spark underneath his touch. “I'll break it,” he warns, and Stiles wonders how it's not already broken.

“Okay -” he chokes out around a whimper, “okay. I'll – give me your hand.”

The alpha smiles at him. Not a nice smile; but a good puppy type of smile. Like he's getting exactly what he wants, and of course he is. He's used to it. He's an alpha.

He keeps Stiles' half-broken wrist held underneath his fingers in the air, alternating between pressure and release enough to keep Stiles on the brink of actually crying, and holds his free hand out towards the one hanging limply at Stiles' side.

This is not the first time something like this has happened. It is not the first time a werewolf has attacked him, hurt him, treated him like trash or something that they could claim ownership over. It will not be the last. Stiles wishes he could say he's used to it, that he thinks he could ever get used to it.

With a glower and a wobbling chin, Stiles pushes his fingertips into the wolf's palm. He sniffles, breathing shallowly, and says, “you're – you're going to eat out. Tomorrow night.” The alpha blinks at him. Like he's waiting. “...steak.”

Pressure on his wrist, hard enough that Stiles does start crying as the sharp pains shoot up his wrist and down along his arm. “Are you fucking with me?”

“No, no, no,” he cries. This is not a wolf who would kill him out of sheer anger. This guy understands good and well that killing Stiles is no punishment, that it would be a mercy at this point. He knows broken bones and intimidation tactics are the way to go; clearly Stiles is not the first spark that this piece of shit has pseudo-tortured before.

It's times like these that Stiles wishes he had offensive or defensive abilities. What's he supposed to do? Produce a cloud to rain on him? Fluff cotton candy into his ears? Juggle him to death? Any of his tiny little abilities, like the flame in his index finger or the static electricity in his palms, wouldn't even phase this alpha.

He's completely and totally at his mercy. It's not a very nice feeling.

“I swear, that's just what I can do,” he pleads around his stream of whimpers as the pressure gets harder, and harder, as another crack sounds close to his ear, “please!”

Probably he would've kept pressing into his bones until he broke every last one of them, shattered them into tiny little fragments and then ripped through the skin to tear Stiles' hand off. Stiles could, in theory, grow his hand back or get it sewn back on and heal over it, but he's never tried before. For all he knows, he wouldn't be very good at it. Coming back to life, he's pretty decent at.

Sewing his limbs back on – may he never have the opportunity to find out.

Luckily, this time he doesn't, because just like last time, Derek shows up just in fucking time.

Stiles shrinks down onto the ground in a crouch, clutching his injured hand and wrist after Derek grabs the alpha by his neck and pulls him off of the poor sad crying little spark; he listens to the snarls and growls while he keeps right on crying and gently nudging at his wrist with pained whimpers and simpers. He can heal. It just takes a lot more than it would take someone like, say, Derek.

While he listens to Derek growl on and on about what did I fucking tell you I told you not to go near him again, he raises his eyes to the sky to search for the courage to do what he has to – and with a wail of undiluted fucking agony, snaps his wrist back into place as much as he can.

The pain lessens, but barely. Now all he has to do is wait for probably hours for his wrist to be back to the way it was before this fucking bullshit happened. Leave it to him and his stupid sarcastic snarky mouth to get in this much fucking trouble.

“Don't kill him,” Stiles says idly in a cracked, raw voice around a sniffle or two. Because, and this is the really interesting thing, while if that alpha had killed Stiles, probably next to no charges would ever be brought up again him – because, again, he can fucking come back so what does it really matter? But if Derek were to kill that alpha for killing Stiles, then Derek would be charged with murder.

Unfair does not even begin to fucking cover it.

And, frankly, he's really not in the mood for giving a witness statement to his father about why his pseudo-technical-alpha is being charged with murder.

Derek does not kill him. He does, however, snap his arm with the most disgusting sound Stiles has ever had the displeasure of hearing in person outside of movies. It's not even that satisfying to him; that fucker gets to just slink off into the shadows and heal and be fine probably in twenty minutes. Stiles gets to sit here in agony for the rest of the night.

He never even got to eat his seven dollar burrito. Worst. Fucking. Night.

“Every single time I turn around,” Derek starts yelling at him the second the alpha is out of sight, and Stiles sniffles, “you're getting yourself fucking brutalized in some way.”

“I reek of mystical sugar,” Stiles mutters under his breath, knowing Derek will hear him even if he whispers, and huffs out a breath. “You know how it fucking is.”

Everyone knows how it is. Everyone knows how sparks are treated. Everyone knows that werewolves are dangerous and can barely fucking control themselves, knows that sparks are manipulative and untrustworthy and weak. Werewolf strong spark weak – you do the fucking math.

“Have you ever, ever even once,” Derek squats down to his level, cocking his head to the side as he stares down at where Stiles' sad, damaged wrist is propped up on his knee, “just thought about not wandering around in the bad part of town at two in the morning?” Stiles isn't sure about Derek's particular ability to make every single word in a sentence sound threatening and menacing, but he manages it all the same.

“Ever considered that maybe weres should learn to control themselves?”

Derek gives him a long, careful look. His green eyes don't even blink as they stare at Stiles' face, where the alpha's fingers had been only minutes earlier, where tears are still openly streaming down his cheeks. He just stares. His jaw clenched and his eyes blank. “I'm controlling myself right now.” And he doesn't look angry. He doesn't say it like he's going to follow it up with controlling myself from killing you with my bare hands or controlling myself from ripping your teeth out one by one.

He says it cryptically. Stiles doesn't understand what he means by it. “Then you're one of the few,” he says evenly back, averting his eyes down into his lap.

Without asking, the alpha puts two fingers down onto Stiles' arm and his veins go black. The sharp edge of the throbbing pain starts to ebb, just enough that Stiles stops feeling like he wants to punch his other hand into the car just to give himself a new pain to distract from the first.

It's the first time Derek has ever done this for Stiles. Scott has, of course, so he knows what it feels like. And Laura, and Talia, and pretty much every other wolf he's ever met. But never Derek. Derek's barely ever even touched Stiles, in all honesty. At least, never gently, like this, and even then, at least not outside of his sex dreams.

“Believe me,” Derek's voice is low, and he doesn't look at Stiles' face as he talks, but keeps his eyes trained down on his own veins, “I'm well fucking aware of that.”

Stiles stays quiet on the ground. He sits there and lets Derek suck the pain out of him until it dissipates into more of an ache like a bruise and he doesn't say anything else because he can't fucking think of anything to say if he's not going to tease the alpha about this that or the other thing. What are he and Derek supposed to talk about, if they're not bickering in real life or fucking each other in his head? How is Stiles supposed to handle a Derek that sits and takes his pain away and doesn't tell him to shut the fuck up? It's – confusing.

“Stop going out late at night,” Derek says it like it's not a suggestion. He says it firmly, in an alpha tone of voice.

“That's not-”

“I know it's not fair,” Derek hisses, finally taking his fingers off of Stiles' skin and looking him dead in the eyes. “Some things aren't fair. Do as I say, for once.”

Stiles sets his jaw. “You're not my alpha.”

Derek keeps his gaze hard and heavy on Stiles' face without even flinching. “Believe me,” he repeats, voice raspy, “I'm well fucking aware of that.”

He doesn't hesitate or try to hide it as he lifts the two fingers that were just touching Stiles' skin and sniffs at them for a few seconds. Stiles purses his lips as he watches, not particularly offended. He knows he smells nice.

Just...maybe Derek's never been so open about it before. Maybe, in spite of the pain in his wrist, the sight of it goes straight to Stiles' dick. Maybe.

----

“I hereby bring this meeting of the Super Secret Sparks Sessions-” Boyd sighs so long and hard that it should be rattling the windows, “to order!” Stiles has this plastic toy gavel that he bought at the dollar store, and he boinks it down onto Kira's dining room table a couple of times for dramatic effect. Kira, for one, wears her white and red t-shirt that Stiles made every single meeting they have, with a smile on her face. Boyd wears his green and white one and sporadically looks down at it throughout the meeting and sighs with a glower.

It really is no fucking wonder that his best friend is Derek. It really makes perfect sense. Stiles imagines that the two of them sit and stare at each other while grunting sporadically to communicate, shoving raw meat into their mouths and pointedly not mentioning whatever it is that's bothering them because they have no desire to share their emotions. A match made in heaven.

“Your wrist healed pretty nicely,” Kira comments, eyeballing the faint scarring of tissue. “Considering.”

Considering the thing almost fell off. Considering “Yeah.”

“Have you tried looking up the alpha that did it?” She has a wary tone in her voice, like she knows what the answer's going to be. “Did you try going to the police?” Again, wary.

Stiles sighs through his nose and nibbles on his piece of pizza. “I don't know if it's worth it. I think – Derek might've scared him off for good.”

Kira purses her lips and doesn't look happy. “Good thing he showed up, right?”

Right. Stiles has absolutely no idea how he knew to show up, knew where he was; he assumed it was just the luck of the draw. Like, he just so happened to be in the area and smelled Stiles' distress from a couple of miles away. That's the most likely scenario. Derek might be a dick, but if he heard Stiles literally screaming and crying in pain, he'd come to help him – as was exemplified. Nothing more, nothing less. He just happened to be in the area.

“You should still go to the police.” Boyd says this firmly, no room for debate.

Stiles debates anyway. “You know they're not going to listen to me, Boyd.”

“They're never going to listen if you never start talking.” A pause. “Your father-”

“Can't do anything about it.” He's tried before. O-ho, boy has he fucking tried. Ever since the first time a were grabbed him at school and literally inhaled his fucking skin, pinned him up against the lockers and held him down while he shouted get off me, his father has been trying. The fucking stereotypes about weres not being able to control themselves and sparks just being so irresistible run so god damn deep, that not even the sheriff can convince people that assaults against sparks by weres should be prosecuted.

“At least Derek does something,” Kira muses in her lilting voice – the kind she uses when the boys are about to start arguing. “People are more inclined to listen to alphas than they are humans or sparks. Maybe Derek should say something.”

Which is an idea they've tossed around before. Let's get the alphas in on this, if we get the support of the alphas we could get something done – but they never actually try it. Chiefly because the only fucking alpha who would actually be willing to do it is Derek, and the Hale pack of course has a lot of clout, but, Derek as an alpha...

Kind of has a reputation.

Other alphas don't much care for him and he doesn't much care for them right back; half of his time as an alpha has been spent beating the shit out of other alphas for the fucking fun of it, or if any of them tried to get near his pack or Boyd or Kira or Stiles – and, naturally, other alphas don't take very kindly to that sort of treatment. He's literally the most hated alpha, but since he wins every single fight he instigates, people grudgingly respect him and don't really like to fuck with him. That being said, however, nobody would care much to listen to him on something political like spark rights.

Boyd and Stiles stay quiet, most likely because they're both thinking exactly the same thing. Kira takes a bite of pizza and chews. She's probably imagining Derek Hale getting up in front of a microphone at an alpha conference and going can you guys stop fucking attacking sparks? Stop treating them like garbage? Stop acting like you have ownership over every single one you encounter? Probably imagining the looks on all the alpha's faces at being told there's even one thing they can't control. Probably imagining a fucking uprising.

“Or, perhaps not,” she settles on after swallowing. Boyd and Stiles look at each other, nod.

“Perhaps not.”

After that, they pretty much spend the night bickering over whose fireworks are better, eating brownies and trying to learn new tricks. The same as every single other gathering they have. They started the meetings in the first place for camaraderie, for the power in numbers ideal. They thought, you know – they could change stuff. They've been at it since they were in high school, going to each other's houses once a week.

And every single meeting ends up the same. They discuss, entertain the idea more like, of going out there and making a stand. After deciding it'd be a horrible idea, or dangerous, or a waste of time, or not worth it, they dissolve into goofing around and stuffing their faces. Of course it's nice to have friends who understand him and it's nice to rage for a couple hours about how unfair it is, but...sometimes he wishes they were really doing something.

He knows Kira and Boyd feel the same. But it's not like they can actually do anything. It's disheartening. Sometimes the meetings leave them all feeling even worse off.

At one point, Stiles reaches out to grab Kira's shoulder in the middle of their conversation, to say something like oh my god, I know! and he winds up shocking her. Accidentally.

“Ouch!” She giggles, thinking he's trying to mess with her – but he pulls his hand away, perplexed, surprised. “Stiles!”

“Whoops,” he mutters, glaring down at his fingers as a couple blue lights fizzle on and off of their own accord, “didn't mean to.” She doesn't think anything of it, if the way she delves right back into their conversation is anything to go by; but the lights aren't stopping. Just a couple flashes on his index finger, his middle finger, barely anything at all.

The problem is, Stiles can't get it to fucking stop for a full thirty seconds. It's never been like that before – or at least, not since he was a little kid and didn't understand how to control it yet.

Kira's voice is in the background as he glares down at the fizzes of electricity. When it finally recedes, he flicks his fingers, stretching them out, testing to see if he's just...cramped, or something?

He kinda forgets about that. Doesn't think anything of it.

----

“How come you can't make chocolate?”

“Because I work in sugar. Chocolate is chocolate.”

“There's sugar in chocolate.”

“Yes. But the main ingredient is chocolate.”

“That doesn't make sense.”

“It will when you're not ten years old.”

Arguing with one of the members of the Hale pack sometimes feels like arguing with a brick wall the way they dig their fucking heels in and refuse to concede the point, even when they've been proven wrong long ago – Laura wasn't captain of the debate team for nothing, and Derek doesn't try to boss everyone around for nothing, and the ten year old in front of him whining about chocolate isn't going to be shutting up anytime soon.

At the moment, he's perched on a stool in the kitchen, eating leftover lasagna after Talia ran into him at the supermarket and said he was too skinny - he was in the passenger seat of her car being driven off against his will before he knew what was happening. Not that he minds a free square of lasagna. “Where does the sugar come from?”

“It's magic.”

“How come you can magically make sugar but you can't magically make chocolate?”

He pinches the bridge of his nose; considers for a couple seconds picking this kid up and throwing him through a fucking window just to have some peace and quiet. At this particular moment, especially, he is not in the mood for this conversation. He's been having a hard time sleeping, lately; and sometimes his fingers just start buzzing with electricity out of fucking nowhere – sometimes he sits up for hours at a time staring down as his fingers fizz and crackle, concentrating as much as he can to get it under control, but he just...can't.

And it's not a huge deal. It's not really affecting his life. It's just tiny little blue flashes, nothing more, nothing less. Nothing to get all worked up about, he convinces himself. Nothing to share with Kira and Boyd, nothing to share with Deaton – something to ignore. A fluke that'll go away eventually. “Because that's not what I can do.”

“Why?”

Stiles purses his lips and doesn't say anything. The best way to get a Hale off your back is to just ignore them altogether; he's learned that the hard way.

Although, some Hales don't take very kindly to being ignored.

Talia shoos Daniel out of the room, fucking finally, right at the same time Derek comes sweeping inside. There's no wisps of sadness or negativity, this time around – but a thrum of something else, like an excitement that's trying to be tamped down. Stiles isn't a hundred percent sure if the energy is coming from Derek or from the pack at large.

The alpha's green eyes are trained on Stiles the absolute second he walks in, most likely because he could smell Stiles from a mile away and knew he was here to begin with, in his kitchen, eating lasagna, arguing about chocolate with his younger brother.

“I ran into him at the supermarket,” Talia says amiably, gesturing to the spark with a noncommittal hand. “Don't you think he looks skinny these days?”

Derek looks at him for a second. “Scrawny.”

“Har har har,” Stiles rolls his eyes as he eats the last bite of lasagna off his plate, “hi-larious.”

He hasn't seen the alpha since that time in the parking lot, when he took some of Stiles' pain away for the first time. Stiles isn't sure if things are changed between them, now, or if maybe they're supposed to have some kind of relational change; like going from two people who are more or less required to look after one another because of a middle party (Scott) to two people who look out for one another because they...give a shit?

It's confusing, and Stiles doesn't know what to say – so he just listens to Talia and Derek make small talk, and thinks about how much easier every thing was when Derek was just growling at him and bossing him around, saving his life only because Scott would be really mad if he didn't at least make an effort while Stiles jerked off in secret while thinking about Derek's muscles.

Then, Talia leaves the room. She fucking leaves Derek alone with Stiles in the kitchen, and Stiles doesn't even have any more food to distract himself with; so all he can do is sit there on his stool, staring at an empty plate, flicking his eyes up to see what Derek is doing every couple of seconds.

As it would turn out. Derek isn't doing much of fucking anything except leaning his back up against the counter with his muscled arms crossed over his chest, staring at Stiles the same way he's been doing more and more often lately. Indiscernible expression. Not annoyed, not angry. But – and Stiles is hesitant to use the word but honestly can't think of another – searching.

Looking for something that should be written all over Stiles' face but just...isn't. It freaks Stiles out.

When he talks, his voice is just as quiet as it was the last time they spoke. “You been getting into trouble?”

Stiles flicks his eyes up and just barely meets Derek's eyes for two seconds maximum, before glaring back down at the red sauce left over on his empty plate. He tries not to think about Derek's hand on his neck, holding him down gently, but not too gently, saying those exact same words. “Not – not really.”

Derek's eyebrows raise. “What? No smartass comments today?”

Familiar territory. Bickering. Stiles latches onto it like a lifeline to get himself out of this awkward situation. “What? No brooding silence today?”

At the goading, Derek sets his jaw and narrows his eyes at the spark, finally getting his face back into a more familiar facial expression, finally acting like fucking normal. He doesn't say anything, and Stiles nearly laughs.

“See, I like you better this way. Silent.”

“You should try it yourself sometime,” Derek snaps back, pushing himself away from the counter to instead lay his palms flat on top of the island in the center of the room, putting less than three feet in-between them.

“Mmm...I like to talk.”

“I'm aware of that.”

“You like to not talk.”

“I like to talk to people I like,” he sweeps his eyes up and down Stiles' face, and smirks like he's about to throw out a real zinger – and then says nothing. The message is received loud and fucking clear on Stiles' end.

“If you don't like me, how come you're still standing here in this room with me?” Stiles raises his eyebrows and smirks right back at the alpha, feeling accomplished.

Derek shrugs easily, keeping his face impassive and blank. Like he could literally be anywhere else, or he could stay right here – like he just doesn't fucking care either way. “Just making sure you're not going to get yourself into some kind of trouble.”

“Why are you always saying that? That I'm gonna get into trouble?”

“I tell you not to get into trouble,” he reminds Stiles coolly, “and you love doing the opposite of what I tell you to. So.”

“I don't like being told what to do,” Stiles hedges – his annoyance level is rising.

“I don't like people disobeying me.”

“I don't like you.”

“Hm.” Like he knows better, he smiles. Like he just fucking knows that Stiles is only trying to be contradictory, only being a little shit just for the fun of it.

The thing is – he's not exactly wrong. Stiles doesn't truly and really dislike Derek (if he did, he wouldn't be blowing the guy in his dreams once a week.) He just isn't always a hundred percent sure what to do with him; he finds bickering with him more or less entertaining, he likes rattling his cage and ruffling his feathers, thinks his reactions to everything are funny. Plus, the guy has kind of rescued him more times than he could count on two hands. What's not to at least kind of like about him?

Sure, he's broody and moody and kind of a dickbag. But he's...

He's...Derek. That's just how he is. Stiles doesn't mind it much. And Derek, apparently, has clued into the fact that Stiles doesn't actually detest him like his behavior would occasionally suggest.

With a self-satisfied smirk, like he's just won the fucking gauntlet, Derek pulls away from the island and starts walking out of the room, to leave the spark sitting alone at the island. “Do as I say and stay out of trouble.”

“Not likely!” Stiles snaps at the alpha's retreating back.

----

Things start getting weirder.

The fizzles of electricity that Stiles can't control start happening more often; like when he's trying to drive, and the currents come out way too strong out of fucking nowhere, jolting through the car and frying the engine. Luckily, he has the ability to bring it back to life, but it's jarring and scary all the same. He sits in his car for a solid hour on the side of the road afterwards, just sitting there watching his fingers crackle and fizzle, waiting for it to stop.

It happens when he's trying to go to sleep, when he's in the shower, when he's collecting his money at the end of the day; and luckily, he's been alone every single time.

Until it happens in the middle of his act; except, it wasn't the electricity that time. It was a god damn deluge of cotton candy. He was just trying to make a handful of it for a little kid, like he's done a million fucking times before; it's one of the easiest things on the face of the planet.

He dropped the normal, average amount into the kids' hand, and tried to stop and he just...couldn't. It's not even normally a conscious effort on his part. He laughed nervously, tried to force it to stop, something he typically doesn't even have to think about doing, and it just. Kept. Coming.

The kid was fucking delighted, of course, as the pile turned into a mountain – everyone was laughing and having a good time, even the parents who by all counts should've put a stop to this shit, except for Stiles. He kept smiling and laughing (grit teeth, awkward noises) flicking his wrist again and again to try and stop it but nothing was working. It kept coming, and coming, and coming, and coming...and coming...

It stopped about a full minute and a half after it was supposed to. The mound of spun sugar was so fucking huge on the sidewalk that it nearly came up to Stiles' elbows. Everyone clapped and laughed and dropped money in his hat, more than he usually makes, and then one of his father's deputies showed up and eyeballed the mound.

“You gonna clean that up, Stiles?”

Which is why he spent a solid hour grumbling under his breath and scraping dried, hardened sugar off the fucking pavement on the sidewalk, a rain cloud hovering above his head and drenching him to make clean up as easy as it could be in the circumstances.

The worst of it happens late at night, close to one in the morning, when he's walking down the sidewalk around where he had been working earlier in the day, eyeballing the ground closely in hopes that the five dollar bill he accidentally dropped is lurking around somewhere; hopefully no one would be able to find it.

Of course, he gets intercepted by an alpha.

Of course the alpha wants him to do a magic trick.

Of course she grabs him hard enough to bruise, shoves him up against a building with her hand around his throat, snarling and hissing at him to get him to do as she fucking says.

Of course Stiles chooses to sass her instead of doing what's asked of him and of course she freaks out and starts hurting him to get her end goal. Just like every other instance where this has happened. Stiles sends out the bat signal to Scott, and this time he feels that he's awake, thank God, so he's not really worrying that much. Just going through the motions, being attacked and harassed on the street.

It's when the alpha squeezes his wrist at just the wrong angle. Just the wrong angle. In the wrong angle, in the wrong place, with the wrong amount of pressure; and it's like when the doctor smacks the tiny hammer into your knee. It's automatic.

It pulls the electricity out of him almost against his will, entirely against his will actually, and it's not just a tiny little shock and fizzle this time around.

It's a ball of blue light. A huge, flashing, strong ball of electricity that Stiles witlessly throws directly into her chest, sends her fucking flying off of him a good fifteen feet, almost to the middle of the god damn road. She almost gets run over.

Stiles doesn't have time to sit there hemming and hawing about whoa cool! How'd I do that! Awesome! I'm getting stronger! He doesn't have time to experiment with it any more. Because he doesn't know how he fucking did it, which means he just attacked an alpha werewolf, and has no idea how to defend himself again. So.

He turns tail and tries to run. Knowing it's entirely fruitless, knowing what's coming his way, knowing he can't escape, his dumb ass tries to fucking run. The spark probably makes it about ten feet in the opposite direction before the wolf rounds in front of him, growling and snarling and stopping him dead in his tracks.

Stiles puts his hands up, trying to placate her. “Okay,” he says, taking a single step back as she advances on him slowly, eyes glowing red, “that was an accident. I didn't mean to. I'm – sorry?”

He doesn't have time to say don't kill me before her hand comes out, her wrist flicks, and his neck is snapped.

Stiles Stilinski : 1993 – 2015
Good friend, passable spark
Shitty lacrosse player

----

He comes back to the same way he always does. With a huge intake of breath as if he was just underwater for hours, nearly toppling off of the operating table at Deaton's down onto the tiled ground. The lights are bright, so he squints against them as he catches his breath and holds his hand out in front of his eyes with a groan.

“Ow,” he hisses, “fuck, that fucking – it still hurts.”

He snaps his neck to the left and hears a crack – probably it just fit itself back into place. He breathes out a sigh of relief, and finally opens his eyes and lowers his hand to find Deaton, which he expected, and Scott, which he also expected and...Derek, which he wasn't expecting but it's not horribly surprising.

But what he really doesn't expect is the way they're all looking at him. Usually when he comes to, Deaton looks annoyed, and Scott is already back to texting Allison on his phone, because, like he said before, it's old hat. He's died so many fucking times at this point it's nearly bi-monthly. And, again, he can come back, so it's not really a big deal.

This, time, however, all three people in the room are looking at him with varying levels of concern. Deaton has as much of an expression as he ever does, eyebrows knit together in worry and confusion, a frown on his face. Scott is wide-eyed and scared looking as he stands at full alert and attention only a couple of feet away from where Stiles is sitting, his eyes all red and puffy like he had been crying. And Derek...

Derek looks about two steps away from ripping something apart.

Stiles blinks at them all individually. “Um?” He says, nervous, all of the sudden. “Are you guys all right? Did something happen while I was out?”

Scott looks to Deaton. Deaton clears his throat and looks like he doesn't even know where to fucking begin. Derek keeps staring at Stiles with that terrifying fucking facial expression.

“I've died before, you know,” he reminds them with a small smile; maybe it's been a while since the last time, but still.

“Stiles,” Deaton starts, slowly and carefully, “...how do you feel?”

The spark assesses himself for a couple of seconds to give an honest answer. His head hurts, which isn't abnormal, and his limbs feel sluggish and shaky, which isn't abnormal, but other than that... “fine.”

Derek makes a noise that sounds a lot like an indignant scoff, while Scott just keeps looking at Deaton to handle the situation. Whatever the situation fucking is, because honestly, Stiles is feeling pretty confused at this point.

“What's going on?” He asks pointedly, looking right at Deaton.

The vet frowns even deeper. “It took a bit much to get you to come back, Stiles.” A pause. “You almost didn't.”

That gives Stiles some pause. “What do you mean I almost didn't?”

“You almost died,” Scott cuts in – and his voice definitely sounds like he had been crying at some point, “like...really.”

“It took six hours to coax you back.”

Six? Fucking? Hours? It normally takes Deaton twenty minutes, tops, to drag Stiles back up from the underworld, or wherever the hell it is he goes when he dies (he never goes anywhere, honestly – it's like falling asleep without the dreaming.)

“We were about to call your father.”

They were about to fucking call time of death, essentially. Stiles imagines for a second his father getting the phone call at his desk in the Sheriff's office; how he'd probably say something like but you can bring him back, right?

He imagines what his face would look like if Deaton ever had to say I'm afraid not.

It's nightmarish, honestly, and it doesn't make any sense to him. One of the most essential parts of being a spark is that he can come back to life; the only time he should ever just flat out die is if his magic is sucked clean out of him, and it takes a lot to do that. Like, it's pretty much impossible. To the point where it's not even worth trying. History books have told him about all the times humans and wolves alike have tried to suck the magic out of a spark - and, to put it gently, things didn't wind up great for them.

We're talking, like, fried alive bad. Skin cooked. Cooked alive! Generally speaking, not even the crazy powerhungry alphas are willing to risk becoming a drumstick to get some spark power. So Stiles honestly does not worry about that, at all, and consequently, he doesn't worry much about dying at all either.

“But – that's...”

“Have you been experiencing anything strange, lately, Stiles?”

Stiles swallows, thickly. He was never planning on telling anyone about this, because it's embarrassing. Sparks don't just suddenly lose control of their powers except in extremely rare cases, and the fact that he's starting to, is, to put it pretty lightly, humiliating.

And, also, possibly (probably, certainly, most definitely) means something really, really bad. “Well – just like...sometimes I've been – lately I've been feeling like I don't exactly...have control over it.”

Silence. Deaton does not look surprised; like he knew the second he couldn't bring Stiles back from the dead instantly what the problem was. “That's not good, Stiles.”

Stiles takes a second. He clears his throat, rubs at his eyes, and then runs his hand through his hair, which feels a bit spikier than usual. Which is what makes him remember - “the power ball!”

“The -”

“The fucking power ball!" He thinks about Dragonball Z for a second. "I was – fucking, when the alpha attacked me, my magic just created this fucking ball of energy and-”

“The electricity in your fingers?” Deaton asks, pointing to Stiles' hands.

Stiles nods. “That's what I'm talking about. Lately I've been having a hard time, like, reigning the electricity in?”

Deaton sighs, long and loud, and purses his lips. “I'm interested to hear why I wasn't told this before, Stiles.”

Sheepishly, Stiles deflates a bit, the excitement from remembering his cool new trick ebbing. “...it was embarrassing?”

“I suppose you'd rather die than be embarrassed, then.”

“Could've died of embarrassment,” he jokes weakly.

And apparently, a shitty joke is exactly what it takes to make Derek Hale, who'd just been sitting quietly in the corner up to that point, freak the fuck out out of literal nowhere.

“Can you for five seconds stop with the smartass comments?” He growls, and Stiles whips his head around in the alpha's direction and glares. “Can you be fucking serious for once?”

Stiles huffs out a breath and bristles. “I'm just trying to lighten the-”

You. Almost. Died!”

It's roared at him; like, Scott cowering, Deaton wincing, Stiles nearly scurrying backwards out fear, roared. It's not the first time Stiles has heard Derek's alpha voice, but it is the first time that it's been shouted in his fucking direction. It's enough to make the sparks in his irises come out, and he sees them in the corners of his vision, glowing and crackling at being challenged by the alpha.

“I told you to not fuck around and you went out and got yourself killed. When I specifically said-”

“You don't fucking tell me what to do!” Stiles hops down off the operating table, on shaking legs, and takes a step in Derek's general direction, raising his chin in the air defiantly in an attempt to rub off any lingering affects from having an alpha werewolf yell at him. It's not really working - at the end of the day, even if Stiles became the most badass spark of all time...he still relinquishes power to alphas. That's just how it is. “I'm not in your pack!”

“Don't tempt me,” Derek growls, taking his own steps in Stiles' direction until they're nearly chest to chest, in each other's faces, while Scott is somewhere in the background going calm down, calm down, calm down, but it's like white noise to Stiles.

Tempt you-”

“You fucking push me and I'll bite you and force you to do as I say.”

It's probably the single most shocking thing that Derek has ever said; not just to Stiles, but in general. If Stiles weren't so worked up and angry, still hazy after having died and all, he'd probably take a couple of seconds to process that in stunned silence. Alpha werewolves typically do go around threatening to bite everyone just because they can – but it's not particularly a Derek thing to say.

Since he's too mad to have a higher level of processing on this, he just hisses and shouts, “go fuck yourself.”

Derek growls, eyes bleeding into red, looking like he's this close to swiping his claws across Stiles' neck to kill him all over again. He opens his mouth to start in on another round of shouting and roaring, but luckily Deaton sighs and puts his hand up, while the other one rubs at his forehead in consternation. “If anyone's interested to hear what's happening to Stiles,” he begins in a huff, “I'll be here waiting to tell you.”

The alpha and the spark keep eye contact. Derek's eyes keep straight on glowing red in the dim lights and Stiles wishes he could do more than flash blue sparks around his iris (wishes that he would have a guarantee that if he deliberately tried it, right now, he wouldn't just wind up losing control and shooting lightning bombs out in Derek's general direction. Then again...)

Stiles is too stubborn to look away, and so is Derek. So they fucking glare at each other without blinking while the waves of annoyance and anger roll on in-between them like a tsunami, until Scott comes to stand in the middle of them; he puts his hand on Stiles' shoulder and tugs him a couple of feet away towards where Deaton is standing without saying a word.

The vet gives him a brown-eyed stare. “I don't think you're losing your magic.”

Stiles calms himself down and tries not to think about Derek standing a few feet behind him, tries not to think about I'll bite you and force you to do as I say, because he still feels shaky and shocked from that. He resists the urge to turn around and recreate the electricity ball to knock Derek on his fucking ass, and tries to focus all his energy onto what is most definitely the more important issue at hand, here.

His first thought was that he might be losing his magic, somehow - which would have been the single worst thing to possibly happen, and he would have died, in the end of that story.

“I think you may actually be producing more than normal.”

Stiles frowns. That would explain the uncontrollable sparks in his fingers, and the electricity ball, and the cotton candy deluge, but... “then how come I nearly died, Deaton.”

“You're producing more than normal, but you don't know how to use it,” he crosses his arms over his chest and gives Stiles another long look; Stiles is used to that intense gaze after over ten years of training underneath him. “You're walking around with a million volts of electricity without any place to put it. You're, for lack of a better word, overloading.”

“Overloading,” Stiles repeats. Typical. Fucking typical. When he had less magic, he was a sad pathetic little spark who probably could've gotten off with the label birthday party magician. When he has more magic, he dies. Where's the fucking middle ground? “Well – what do I about it?”

“I'd say I should take some, but...” he frowns; which is never a good sign, “...I think that might kill you.”

“Oh, joy.”

“I'd say you should try and work some out of yourself, but again...it might kill you. I think the only option here is to try and get you to find a place to put all of it.”

“Which is – how am I supposed to do that?”

Deaton gets this look on his face like he knows exactly how to do that, but that he doesn't quite like the road Stiles would have to go down. So instead of offering a suggestion, he just purses his lips, and says, “let's wait it out.”

Wait it out. If it gets any worse, then they'll have to act.

----

Scott and Stiles live in a pretty nice apartment close to the center of town, on the second floor of a three story building, sandwiched in-between a single mother with a nine year old and an old guy whose bird sometimes wakes Stiles up with the fucking chirping, but it's not bad. Their refrigerator is typically covered in notes written on napkins or old receipts saying things like more milk need milk this is a dairy emergency and you left your phone at home and Allison called 10 times in a row I'm filing a restraining order.

Since Scott is Stiles' connection, he doesn't have much of a choice in who he lives with. Sparks and their connections have a very hard time being separated for too long; or, at least, the tether in between them starts to act out if they go too long without seeing one another. One time Stiles went on a four day camping trip with his dad in the mountains only to come home two days early because he couldn't stand the ache in his chest any longer.

It's a little bit too romantic for the relationship Scott and Stiles actually have, but – it's not like the prospects that have offered to be his romantic connection have been very great. Alpha werewolf after alpha werewolf after alpha werewolf, each more boneheaded and cruel than the next. And Scott doesn't push it, or try to get him to find someone new, and he's a good connection.

The actual part where they had to connect to one another was a little - um. A little much for who they are to one another, a little bit too much for two best friends who have no interest in ever boning each other. Because the connection is meant to be a romantic one, the act of connecting is, you know. Sexual. Kind of.

Long story short, Scott came in his pants.

Possibly Stiles did too. It's not something they ever really talk about, and they are both happy to pretend like it never happened to begin with. Bros make each other come all the time, right?

Scott pays his rent the same way he paid for gas in high school; working at Deaton's vet clinic and playing with puppies all day long. Stiles pays his rent by doing his little magic act out on the streets – although, since Deaton told him in no uncertain terms that he really shouldn't be using his magic when he can't control it, he's been on a bit of a hiatus as of late. Luckily he has some money saved up for just such an occasion, but all the same; going broke because he's a fucking failure as a spark isn't exactly his proudest moment.

As for how the magic has been in the three days since he very nearly actually died – um.

Bad. Bad is one word for it.

Silly might be another.

Sometimes Stiles wakes up in the middle of the night to find sugar dripping from his fingers down onto the hardwood floor, or with a cloud hovering over him with flashes of lightning and thunder while tiny rain drops pelt him in the eyes. He'll try to bring a pot of water to boil with a finger stir and winds up pulling a Moses, covering himself and any innocent bystanders (Allison, most recently) in lukewarm water. Scott's car breaks down, and Stiles tries to do his old standby trick of jumpstarting it with the tips of his fingers on the engine, only to...blow it up, kinda? Like, engine went flying into the air above their heads and landed in a pile of grass on the side of the road blown up. Boyd had to come and fix it himself. It was embarrassing.

After that, Scott told him to stop using his magic altogether. Stiles tries, he really fucking does; but it's like being told not to use his left hand. Using magic to make things easier or better or simpler or more fun or more interesting is just what he does. To be without it for even a couple of hours feels like having his hands tied behind his back.

And, aside from that, the magic takes control most times anyway. It's probably only by a miracle stroke of luck that he hasn't wound up hurting anyone.

In the middle of reheating a couple of slices of leftover pizza the slow way (in the microwave instead of just zapping it with his fingertips) the doorbell rings. Stiles glares in at the pizza slices through the plastic of the microwave, then at the neon 1:45 glowing at him, remembers a more beautiful time when he could warm it up literally as he was bringing it up to his mouth. A more elegant time – a full week ago. He misses those days.

He huffs out a sigh before stalking off to open up the front door. “Who is it?” He yells through the wood, expecting Allison's voice or maybe even his father's (because the man has been coming by with envelopes full of gas money lately, taking pity on his sad, pathetic little son).

“It's Derek.”

Stiles has a decision to make in this moment. He could say fuck off, Derek Hale, I don't want to see your dumb ass I'm still mad at you or he could say I'm not home which would be funny and would also piss the alpha off to such an unbelievable height that Stiles would be laughing about it for days to come; or he could say something like is your dick as big in real life as it is in my nasty pervy dreams about you? All three options have their upsides and downsides.

Problematically, there's only so long he can go on ignoring Derek's phone calls – of which there have been ten since the last time they got into that near-physical altercation at Deaton's, along with a handful of voicemails like [silence] [silence] [sigh] call me back [sigh] we need to talk [silence] – only so long he can avoid going over to the Hale house, only so long he can avoid Derek altogether.

With a prayer that Derek won't claw him to death, he unlocks the door and pulls it open just enough that he can press his face into the crack and take a long, hard look at the werewolf standing there. He looks pretty much the same as always; maybe a little more disheveled and exhausted, dark bags under his eyes and his hair unkempt, but otherwise...he just looks annoyed and pissed. Typical.

“Can I help you?” Stiles asks through the crack.

Derek puts his fingers on the door and pushes, gently, no werewolf strength whatsoever. “Open up all the way.”

“I'm more comfortable like this.”

“Stiles.”

“For all I know, you're planning on biting me and forcing me into your pack.”

Derek looks guilty. It's an interesting expression to see on his face – shame, embarrassment, as he breaks eye contact with Stiles to turn his head to the side and clench his jaw in resignation. “I never should have said that.”

“You think?”

“That was...too far. I'm sorry.” Stiles blinks in surprise at him through the crack, but doesn't open the door up anymore. Waiting. Derek huffs out a breath and turns back to look into Stiles' face, still frowning. “And you're right, that – it's not your fault how you're treated, and you shouldn't have to...” he waves his hand in the air, like he can't think of how to word it, but Stiles gets it all the same.

Derek's not big on apologies, which makes perfect sense, seeing as how he's the alpha and he doesn't really have to apologize for anything. Stiles has never once received an honest-to-god apology from the alpha; not even the time that Derek broke Stiles' guitar out of annoyance that he wouldn't stop playing and singing Call Me Maybe. Granted, the next day Derek handed Stiles a brand new, better, more expensive guitar with a growled warning to not come near him with it. But, never an I'm sorry. So if he's apologizing now, he must actually and genuinely be...sorry.

Stiles pulls the door open all the way, and as soon as he does, Derek sweeps his eyes up and down Stiles' body a couple time like he's looking for any injuries. “Apology accepted.” A pause. “I guess. Did you come all the way here just to say that?”

Derek shakes his head, once. “Are you feeling okay?”

Stiles laughs and walks away from the door, leaving it wide open for Derek to come inside himself – the microwave beeped his pizza as done a full thirty seconds ago. Of course he would come down to make sure Stiles isn't exploding in on himself, or drowning in a sea of marshmallow. He listens as Derek's heavy footfalls come into the apartment, as the door closes behind him, while Stiles grabs his steaming pizza from the microwave. “I feel like a bird with clipped wings, so – nah. Not really.”

Stiles watches as Derek sniffs somewhat discretely at the air in the apartment, probably taking in a big old whiff of Stiles' sugar-y spark scent. “Because you haven't been using your spark. Right?” He says it the way Stiles' father might say something like you haven't been drinking and driving, right?

“Not intentionally.” He bites into his pizza and whirls around to face Derek again – to find the alpha looking moderately uncomfortable.

“So you don't go out.”

Stiles swallows. “I go out, but-”

“Not at night.”

Stiles narrows his eyes down into slits as he chews slowly on another bite. “What happened to it's not your fault, Stiles?”

Derek meets Stiles' gaze with a hard look of his own, putting his hands on his hips like a stern mother and saying, “you're being careful.”

“Oh, my God, mom, yes! Do I look like a fucking idiot?”

“You have proven on more than one occasion that you have a tendency of getting yourself into trouble, Stiles.”

“So, that's a yes,” Stiles smacks his empty plate down onto the counter as he crunches on the crust, “you do think I look like a fucking idiot.”

“I think you look like you're not in any condition to be walking around with a target pained on your back.”

Stiles shoves the last bite of crust into his mouth and thinks about kicking Derek out. Like, literally. He thinks about kicking one of his gangly legs into Derek's balls and kicking him the fuck out. “I'm not in your pack.” Like he's only said about ten million times...

“You're under my jurisdiction.”

“Um? I'm Scott's spark.”

“And Scott is in my pack.”

“I answer to Scott before I answer to you.”

“Scott has to answer to me first.”

Stiles throws his hands into the air and makes a noise of frustration - something crossed between a growl and a grunt. “Okay, fine! Fine! You're the fucking boss of me! I'm just a piddly little spark and you get to boss me around and tell me what to do! Does that give you a hard-on or something?”

Derek actually has the decency to look flustered after the word hard-on leaves Stiles' mouth; he stutters out something that sounds like Iweuhwat?, blinks furiously for a couple of seconds, and then spits out a second noise like huh? “It's – fucking hell.” He scrubs a heavy hand down his face and snuffles angrily. “This is coming out wrong.”

Nearly everything Derek tries to say comes out wrong, Stiles thinks – he's noticed that about the alpha. He's not very communicative. He's much more comfortable grunting and gesturing emphatically than he is at actually trying to form complete sentences.

“It's not about being your boss. It's – I'm trying to look out for you.” Without warning, without giving Stiles time to even process the words that just left his mouth, Derek reaches into his pocket and pulls something out of it – he holds his tan hand out in Stiles' direction with a gruff here.

Stiles holds his hand out to take whatever it is, and down into his palm drops a silver chain with a pendant on the end. Curiously, he dangles the chain from his index finger, scrunching his eyebrows together as he gets a good long look at the charm dangling from the end of it.

It's a triskele. Stiles has only seen this thing oh, about, a million times since Scott joined the Hale pack. Every single member of the pack has the mark tattooed somewhere on their body. Derek between his shoulderblades, Laura near her collarbone, Talia on the back of her neck, and Scott on the inside of his wrist.

He's never seen it crafted out of metal, though. It's intricately done and perfectly smooth, about an inch long and another inch wide. Stiles looks up to find Derek watching him, carefully. Scrutinizing his reaction. “You made this?”

Derek shrugs. “If you wear that, people won't mess with you.”

Stiles knows that to be the truth. Like he's said before, the Hale pack is incredibly affluent and important, especially in California. While the Martin pack might be larger, meaner, and all around just exude that feeling of do not fuck with us, Lydia Martin's steely eyed gaze most notably, the Hale pack has more political leeway. Way back in the early 1900's, when werewolves first came out to the public, the Hales were the first werewolves to come forward. Most of the wolves that get titles like first wolf to sit in the senate, first wolf to play in the major leagues, first wolf to write a book, first wolf on television – a good ninety percent of them are Hales.

Everyone, from state to state, country to country, knows who the fucking Hales are. You see a wolf or a person or a spark walking around with the triskele somewhere on their body, you don't fuck with them. Everyone knows that.

Stiles swallows as he pools the chain back up in his palm, holding it close against his chest. “Thanks. It's...” an unbelievable honor. To put it lightly. It's a pack exclusive; of course, if Stiles were really in the pack he'd have to get it tattooed like everyone else, but the gesture is almost the same.

Derek shrugs again. Like it's not a big deal. Even though he knows he probably had to sit and debate with the pack at large, Scott probably included, about giving this to Stiles. It's like being inducted as an honorary member – it's fucking like they're going to invite him to stand in on the annual pack family photo that Talia forces on them every year. (Stiles has stood out on the sidelines for the past several years, shouting Derek smile for fucking once and Laura don't stick your tongue out).

The pack sat around and debated long and hard about giving Stiles a triskele, and Derek's going to stand there and act like it was as easy as taking candy from a baby.

Stiles guesses he would expect nothing more and nothing less from the alpha. That's just his nature.

He starts turning around to leave, because apparently a wordless shrug is conversation over in Derek speak, but Stiles catches him with a squeaked out wait. “I think I left my jacket at your house? The other day?” His red hoodie – the one he's had since sophomore year of high school, with holes in the sleeves and a zipper that only works a third of the time. His comfort article of clothing.

Derek blinks at him, gives him a long and steady look; his face is impassive, blank, like he's training it to be expressionless. “I didn't take it.”

Stiles feels the triskele pressing into the skin of him palm, tilts his head to the side. “...I didn't say you took it, I was just-”

“I didn't see it. Haven't seen it.”

“Okay,” Stiles says with a sigh, as he dangles the triskele off its chain again before sliding it over his neck with a puff. Derek watches every single movement of Stiles' fingers as he does so, stares at the charm as it rests on Stiles' bare skin right above the collar of his v-neck. “Well – thanks. Again. It's really-”

“You know I would-” it comes out of Derek's mouth in a rush, too loud, too quick, like he'd been holding it in but just couldn't anymore. Stiles snaps his jaw shut in surprise, eyes probably widening comically. “...I'd never really force the bite on you. Unless you, like...if you wanted -”

“I don't want.” It's the absolute last thing Stiles wants, actually. As annoying as being a spark has been, as obnoxious as werewolves are towards him, as many hardships as he's come to because of it – he'd never willingly give it up. Not for anything. It's who he is. He and his magic – they're not separate.

“I know that about you.” Derek's voice is measured and even-toned as he gives Stiles one last appraising look. In a quieter, more mumbled tone, he says, “...like that about you.”

Stiles doesn't get the chance to say say that again louder please before Derek is opening up the apartment door and slamming it shut behind him.

----

Things, as things do, get worse. It's like the curse, Stiles surmises. A person can't be given as much power as the sparks have, however trivial it might seem (the ability to contort sugar? Really?), without having to pay some sort of a price. That's what Stiles figures, and has been figuring, since the first time something went wrong in his life.

All gifts come with a receipt. It's just that, in Stiles' case, he can't make any return. Trapped with his curse and his gift at the same time.

So, Stiles can't fucking walk five feet without dripping sugar all over the ground. So, Stiles accidentally boiled the water in the toilet while trying to take a piss, and blew the toaster up, and nearly sent Scott flying out the window with a zing of electricity. That's all just small stuff. Nothing to really get all...worked up over.

Until, of course, it had to start fucking getting worse.

Sitting on top of the coffee table, like it's been there all along, is a cat. A black cat with a white spot over its eye, blinking at them and purring softly. Stiles had come out of his bedroom at two am for a glass of water and heard meow.

He had seen the cat, blinked at it a couple of times, and frowned. He figured, like, maybe Scott got a cat? Scott is a friend to the animals, after all. Maybe it's just one of the cats from the vet's office that needed extra attention and Scott offered to take it home. And, maybe the cat seemed vaguely familiar, in his dim memory, but he hadn't connected the fucking dots. He just got his glass of water, ignored the meowing, and went back to bed.

When he woke up in the morning, it was to the sound of Scott literally screaming. Like, horror movie material – Texas Chainsaw Massacre level shit. He came running out into the living room with his enchanted baseball bat (he loaded it up with electricity when he was ten years old to cheat in the little leagues – of course he'd been found out) half-expecting to find a dead body or a robber or...something.

Instead, Scott had just been staring at the cat, pointing, screaming, again and again and again.

What?”

“The – the – the -”

Stiles looked at the cat. “...I thought you brought that in?”

Scott shook his head, wide-eyed.

“...so that's not your cat.”

“It's – I -”

“It's just a fucking cat, dude,” Stiles approached the thing, met with a pleasant meow, and scooped it up into his arms. “Last I checked, you weren't allergic, so-”

“Don't fucking touch it!” Scott held his hands out the way someone might do when trying to stop a car on the side of the road – wide-eyed terror, taking several steps away to clear a space in-between himself and the cat.

“What?”

“You don't recognize that? That's – that's fucking Mr. Snuffles!”

Stiles glanced down at the cat in his arms. He narrowed his eyes, held it out in front of his face with a scrutinizing look, and...

Mr. Snuffles was Scott's one and only short lived pet. The only pet he was ever allowed to have, because when Mr. Snuffles passed on into kitty cat heaven after getting hit by a car, Scott was so beside himself with grief (over a fucking cat) that he couldn't even get out of bed for two days. His mother had, naturally, been concerned about his level of attachment to an animal that he only had for a couple of weeks, and opted out of living through the entire experience again.

That was, give or take, twelve years ago. But the cat in his hands right now, the one purring at him and flicking its tail – it's identical to Mr. Snuffles. Almost like...

“No,” Stiles said matter-of-factly, shaking his head. “Just looks like him. It's a stray that wandered in.”

“I know what Mr. Snuffles fucking looks like, Stiles! Look at the collar!”

With a long suffering sigh and a roll of his eyes, beyond sure that Scott was having a fucking episode and would feel incredibly silly when all this was over, Stiles reached out and grabbed the red collar around the cat's neck, flipping over the round charm hanging down.

In cursive writing. Mr. Snuffles.

Stiles dropped the cat onto the ground like it had caught fire, screaming in abject horror, and Scott joined in for a second round – the cat meowed and climbed up onto the coffee table, not a care in the world, while the screaming continued.

“What the fuck!” Stiles began wiping his hands up and down his boxers, trying to get the fucking dead zombie cat fur off of his fingertips. “What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck...”

“It's the fucking Pet Cemetery, dude! It smells like putrid flesh!”

“What the fuck!”

Meow. Stiles and Scott both jumped.

“Okay. Hold on a second.” Stiles kept right on wiping his hands. “Just – hang on. That could just be...” What? Another cat with the exact same odd white spot right over the same eye, with the exact same red and gold collar, with the exact same name?

“That's him. That's him. That's fucking zombie Snuffles!”

“Holy fuck. But how did – how – why – when...how...” he trailed off, shaking his head. How the fuck does a cat just come back from the dead in the middle of the night, how is that even in the realm of possibility, outside of maybe a resurrection spell? But that takes a fuckload of magical energy, power, concentration, and - “oh my god.”

“What? What?”

Stiles raised one finger, his index, and pointed at himself. “I – it was me.”

His magic brought Scott's dead cat back from the dead in the middle of the night. It for some reason conjured up the image of Mr. Snuffles – probably from whatever fuzzy memory the thing exists in – and resurrected it. Stiles knows how to do a resurrection. He's read about it a zillion times, fantasized about being strong enough to be able to do something like that, because...

Well. His mother.

But it was always just a distant dream. How could he ever have hoped to possess the power to bring a person back from the god damn dead, when the most amazing thing he could do was tell people what they were going to eat for breakfast the next day? When half his powers were card tricks and producing flowers out of his sleeves and making marshmallows for little kids? It was just – he never fucking really thought about it.

Apparently, now he has the power to do so. But not the control.

So – surprise! Zombie cat!

Now, Stiles is standing in front of the thing with narrowed eyes, trying to concentrate on it. Trying to send it back to whatever dimension it came from, or possibly just back to its clawed open shoebox from the back of the McCall's yard. It's not working. Scott has begun to pace back and forth across the hardwood, leaping out of his skin every time the thing meows, muttering about how fucked up it is.

“I'm not kidding about the exorcist,” he threatens, and Stiles rolls his eyes, “I will fucking – I will get a priest. I will get a god damn priest!”

“A priest can't undo magic,” Stiles says back calmly, “no one can undo this except for me.”

“Then undo it!”

Stiles can't. He, for starters, doesn't know how (how much research do you think he dedicated into the reversal portion of his studies? A grand total of fucking zero) and for seconders he has no clue how he fucking did it to begin with. Resurrections require concentration. They require an immense level of dedication and energy, and the last spark who actually managed to do it to a person nearly died in the process.

Maybe it's easier to do on animals – but Stiles by all counts should not fucking be able to walk right about now.

They call Allison. They call Allison, and spend the ten minutes waiting for her to get there locked away in the bathroom, listening in terror as the cat paws and claws at the door. Stiles isn't a hundred percent sure that the thing isn't possessed, he's not sure that it's not actually a zombie that will infect them with the T-Virus, he's not sure about anything.

Hiding seemed like the safer option.

Allison opens up the bathroom door; in her hand is a tiny crate, where, behind a grid of metal bars, the cat meows at them. “This is it?” She asks.

The boys nod.

“It's just a cat.”

“It's – back from the dead, Allison. It's the fucking Jason Voorhees of cats.”

The cat purrs at Allison from inside the crate, twitches one of its ears.

“No one else could have done it,” Deaton agrees – he's examining the thing, now, poking at it with gloved hands and furrowing his brow. It just sits there. It doesn't hiss or try to claw at his flesh, it doesn't spew green liquid of its mouth to infect them all, it just...sits there. Like a fucking cat. “And it's definitely been dead before.”

“Great,” Stiles says with a huff. “I brought it back from the dead. Great. Great.”

“Hmm.” Deaton lets go of the cat and stares at it for a few seconds, before raising his eyes over to where Stiles is standing in the corner. As far away from the thing as he possibly can get. “You realize you've done something incredible here, Stiles.”

“I didn't do it.” He would never, never in a million years, care enough to want Mr. Snuffles back from the dead. He hasn't even thought about the thing since he was in elementary school. “I did not fucking do that – my magic did it. It – did it on its own.”

Deaton looks down at the cat, then back at Stiles again. “On its own.”

Stiles nods, chewing on his thumbnail nervously.

With a heavy sigh, the vet removes his rubber gloves and shakes his head. “That's not good, Stiles.”

“I realize that it's not-”

“It's really not good.” Deaton appears to be dropping the enigmatic thing, for once in his life, and is addressing Stiles bluntly, in a straight-forward, no-nonsense tone of voice. “If it's acting even while you sleep, it's taken on a mind of its own. Magic doesn't like to be trapped inside of a body, Stiles.”

Stiles swallows. It's a very precarious balance, his existence. He's been treading the line between supernatural and human the way a mermaid treads between land and sea; human enough to pass, until you take a closer look. Two things that were never meant to come together. Magic doesn't like being trapped, at all, it's meant to be free; and Stiles' existence tends to negate that.

“I'm not going to beat around the bush,” the cat meows in the background, and Deaton ignores it, “it's getting stronger, smarter, more willful. If it keeps going down this path. It can, and most likely will, kill you.”

A person being killed by their own spark is not something that's a foreign idea to Stiles. Rare, yes. Impossible? Not quite. Stiles has heard the horror stories; every single spark alive today has heard the fucking horror stories of people who can't control it, of people who succumb to dark magic, people who play around with something too much for them to handle, and they all wind up the same way.

The magic gets powerful enough to leave them, and seek another host – something else for them to latch onto. And like Stiles has said before.

He can't live without it. Without it, he dies. That's the bottom line. There's no saving him or resuscitating him or turning him into a normal human. He just collapses in on himself and stops breathing. Like being suffocated or having his fucking heart ripped out.

“But – that only happens to...”

Deaton raises his eyebrows and lets Stiles put two and two together all on his own.

Everything falls into place all at once; what Deaton didn't want to say the last time he was standing here, when he nearly died after it took six hours to bring him back.

First of all, the fact that his magic has been getting out of control to begin with. How stupid he was to assume it was just because he wasn't as good a spark as Kira and Boyd, to think that the explanation would be that god damn simple. Second of all, the fact that it's starting to take on a mind of its fucking own, grow restless inside of him, searching for something.

It wants to spread itself out. It wants more bodies to lay claim to. Between Scott and Stiles, there's only so much it can do.

“...sparks that don't have a pack.” His voice is void, emotionless as he says it. “You're saying I need a pack.”

When Stiles comes outside of the vet's office in the early morning light, after Deaton explained that he'd take care of the animal, he runs into Derek Hale.

"Hey," Derek says, climbing out of his car where it's parked right beside the Jeep. "I heard about the cat."

The door slams shut and Derek just stands there with his keys in his hand - he sniffs the air a couple of times, and his pupils dilate. Stiles pretends like he doesn't notice.

"Yeah," he says back in a quiet voice, squinting out into the sunrise. "It was...fucked up."

"Scott was really upset."

"He was upset when the thing died, too."

Derek looks him up and down, carefully, scrutinizing, the way he's been doing so much more often lately. He doesn't get any wisps of sadness from his energy, but he does get some hints of nerves and anxiety. "Are you...?"

"I'm all right," Stiles says, hating the unsure tone of voice the alpha is using - it's not like him, or any alpha, to be unsure, or cautious. He flattens his lips out and avoids eye contact with Derek, exaggerating his sugar-sweet scent to cover up the stink of dread he knows must be all over him.

He makes a decision not to tell Derek about the whole needing a pack thing. Possibly the wrong decision. But he just...

"You know you can't bring her back, Stiles." This comes from nowhere; literally out of fucking nowhere, no context, no nothing. But Stiles knows exactly what the alpha is talking about, beyond any shadow of a doubt. His breath catches in his throat, and he glares even harder out at the emerging orange light from over the tops of the mountains. "It's not safe. You know that, right?"

Stiles does know that. People don't always come back right, with resurrection spells. Maybe the cat turned out fine, but...with people, it's different. He knows that. He's fucking positive of that.

It doesn't stop him from wanting, though. Desperately. Like a dream coming to life in front of his eyes, he imagines what his mother would say if he could actually do it; if he could bring her back, make his father happy and not lonely anymore, make everyone impressed by him, make his mother proud that he became a spark who could do something so amazing.

She might come back braindead. She might come back still sick as she was when she was alive, and come back only to die painfully the second time around. She might come back and not know who Stiles or the Sheriff are, might come back with a different personality; the possibilities of things that could go wrong are endless.

Stiles cries. Not much. Just a single tear down his cheek before he can stop it, and he doesn't feel like standing there with Derek Hale fucking watching him have a breakdown, so he starts walking to his Jeep without saying anything.

"Hey," Derek says, quietly, moving to get in Stiles' way. "Don't do that. Hey," as Stiles grabs the door handle to his Jeep and creaks it open, Derek puts his arm out in front of Stiles, right in front of where he needs to climb in to be able to drive away. "Don't...cry."

Stiles runs the length of his forearm across his face to wipe the traitor tears away, tries not to be feel embarrassed and sad and fucked up, and fails miserably.

"I hate the way it smells," Derek murmurs. "Bitter. When you're supposed to..."

When he's supposed to smell sweet all the time. Stiles feels strange, and uncomfortable, and sad, and nervous, and a deluge of emotions that he has no control over, just like his magic, at the moment - he's mad that Derek could read him like that. That Derek just fucking knew exactly what the problem was without needing to be told or asked, that he reminded Stiles that doing what Stiles wants to do, desperately, is a shitty horrible selfish idea...

He's mad. He's mad that he can't have his mother back. That he has this power and can't control it or use it and his mother will rot in the ground. He misplaces it, though, to be mad at Derek.

Stiles shoves the alpha's arm out of his way, and Derek just steps back and lets him.

And he doesn't tell Derek that he needs a pack, now.

There is a pretty heavily mandated one spark per pack rule that everyone abides by. It's not written officially anywhere, but it's just how it works. Taking on more than one spark, when there are so few to go around, is unfair and greedy and a million other negative synonyms (because of course sparks are a product and something to be shared and not, like, actual sentient beings or anything.)

Within Beacon Hills there are three packs. The Martin Pack, for starters; the one where everyone is super smart and driven and kind of nuts in a really eerie, silent way with glaring and high heels and, also, guns. Lots of guns. Many, many guns. Boyd is the spark for the Martin pack, and it couldn't have turned out any better, honestly; he and Lydia Martin have all kinds of conversations where she carries the entire thing while he sits there and goes yeah to everything she says, which is exactly how she likes it. A match made in heaven.

Then there's the Yukimura pack, who are friendly and nice while they all simultaneously can turn ruthless and vengeful in the blink of an eye; it goes without saying that Kira is the spark, there. When she was born as a spark, people were understandably confused – a spark being born to two werewolves is near unheard of. Yet Kira is here today. So not impossible.

All that leaves behind is the Hale pack.

The fucking Hale pack. Loud, obnoxious, respected, important. Anyone would be fucking lucky to get in. Stiles remembers that when Scott got in it was a big deal, because he wasn't even remotely interested in the Martin pack (not that Stiles would ever say it to his face, but Scott really does not have the balls to make it with them) and he felt that the Yukimuras were too close-knit for him to really fit in, so the Hale pack was his dream.

It was either the Hale pack or he'd have to move out of Beacon Hills to find other people, which would mean Stiles would have to go as well. So when he got in, it wasn't just the prominence and respectability that came along with it. It was also just incredibly convenient and the perfect situation. Stiles nearly vomited in surprise when Scott got in, because up until that point, dozens of submissions had been sent in for consideration by Derek, and he'd rejected every single one of them.

At twenty-two years old, after nearly seven years of being the alpha, Derek had not accepted a single new pack member. The submissions would come, and as legend has it, Derek would just throw them all in the trash without even so much as looking at them. To Stiles, that always sounded more like one of those horror stories about colleges; he'd be willing to bet Talia forced Derek to peel through them and read them line by line, while Derek complained the entire time.

All the same. Scott was the first outsider to be accepted into the pack under Derek's command. And, as of late, the last. Stiles would sometimes muse about that, and it's not because Scott isn't the best thing ever (because he obviously and completely is no questions asked), but...it doesn't entirely make sense. Does it?

That out of all the applicants, spanning hundreds of miles, maybe even to the other side of the country or the other side of the world, the only one who ever got in underneath Derek was his fucking doofy best friend that cries watching the Titanic.

The application process for joining a pack usually goes that a wolf (beta or omega) submits something that looks a lot like a college application, only with questions like status and current pack affiliation and spark affiliation. Scott was a bitten omega like literally thousands of others, no affluent pack history, with a human mother that had no clout, no money; he had no extra skills, nothing to set him apart from the rest of the applicants whatsoever.

The only thing he had was Stiles. Stiles remembers working on his history homework as Scott filled the thing out, as he asked do I write, like, your real name or should I just put... and Stiles had said just put Stiles – they know who I am. Everyone knew who Stiles was. Everyone still knows who Stiles is. Even though Derek had only ever seen Stiles from a distance, he found that the alpha was more or less always looking at him if they were in the same room together, like at town hall meetings or at the Sheriff's department. Stiles always assumed it was because he was interested in, you know...hiring the last available spark for the pack?

But Derek never asked. Never even mentioned it.

Stiles had pretty much already started looking up other packs on the internet, wondering how he'd fare far away from his dad – because no fucking way was Scott going to get into the Hale pack. No. Fucking. Way. “You have a higher chance of winning the fucking lottery,” he had said when the application was stamped and approved at town hall. Scott had shrugged and said >em>worth a shot.

When Stiles' father came home with a crisp, huge, thick, blood red envelope, with the official Hale seal carefully waxed on the back, Stiles nearly choked on his spaghetti. At that point he'd never even fucking seen what a follow-up request from the Hale pack even looked like, but he knew on sight that that's what it was.

Follow-up requests are common in other packs. It's like the call-back from an employer – you know, we'd like to know more about you can we meet in person phone call skype call that sort of a thing. For the Yukimura pack, nearly everyone who applies gets a follow-up request (in pale blue envelopes with a swirling pink seal); for the Martin pack, it's only a bit more rare (in bright orange with heavy black print, thick and heavy with a second application that asks even more in-depth questions.) For the Hales, it's nearly unheard of (blood red envelope, swirling gold hand-written letters, a black triskele stamped in wax on the back.)

Scott held it in his hands reverently for at least ten minutes, away from his body, just fucking standing there in the center of the Stilinski kitchen while his mother cried and beamed with pride and the Sheriff patted him on back like nice going, kid and Stiles went into fucking paralytic shock.

After a while, Scott just held his palm out towards his best friend, and said, “try it just this one time.”

“It never works like that, Scott, I don't-”

“Just one time.”

With a sigh, Stiles ran a finger across Scott's palm, and saw – well. Egg salad sandwich. He didn't even tell him; just puffed his lips in annoyance and shrugged.

“Had to try,” Scott breathed, fingers shaking as he ran them along the front of the envelope, over the gold lettering, “I'm going to have a heart attack.”

Scott very nearly did have a heart attack that day, Stiles thinks. He really almost fucking died – why he thought it would've made it easier or less stressful if Stiles had seen the future, he's not sure; maybe he was hoping Stiles would be able to see his induction ceremony, or something. But, alas. He was a shitty spark back then, too.

When that red envelope opened, when the thick black cardstock was pulled out and Scott read aloud in a shaking voice we request you and your spark's presence at the Hale mansion, Stiles himself almost had a heart attack. It was just fucking nuts.

Actually showing up at the Hale house was even more nuts. Walking in and having a swarm of people practically attack him was just next fucking level, like something out of a weird TV show, like nothing that could've ever possibly happened in Stiles' life.

Stiles sat in the living room with a ticking grandfather clock in the background on the couch next to Scott, while across from them Derek and Talia stared. Well. Derek stared. Talia smiled. And, the craziest part of it all was that Scott fucking bombed the interview; like, monumentally. He at one point uttered the phrase not that I'm like a pervert or anything, which is exactly how you get to someone to think that you are, in fact, a pervert. What preceded that statement was only fucking worse, and Stiles has mentally blocked it out to erase it from his memory.

Talia had smiled warmly the entire time, nodding her head, glancing in Stiles' direction as often as was appropriate. Derek sat beside her and flicked his eyes to Stiles probably more often than was appropriate; like, staring brazenly at the semi-irrelevant spark while Scott was going on a tirade about American cheese. From that alone, from the fact that Derek barely paid Scott any attention whatsoever and was more focused on sniffing at the spark, Stiles had kind of assumed that was the end of it.

Scott, as well. They were literally this close to packing their bags to leave their hometown at sixteen years old to go off and find another pack. The thought was depressing; it was a very, very, bad two days while they waited to hear back from the Hales.

This time, there was no red envelope. Stiles was just coming down his front steps, swinging his keys around in his finger, on his way to the grocery store, when he saw Derek Hale's unmistakable black Camaro cruise by the front of his house. In the direction of Scott's house. Which was only two blocks away. Stiles wasn't present at the time that Derek told Scott that he was welcome to join the pack; but he felt through the connection that Scott pretty much ascended into a higher state of being the second he looked out the window to see the Hale pack's alpha standing on the front porch.

The point is this – getting into the Hale pack is not something that just happens. Stiles can't show up and be like so...I could die? Can I please join the club? It doesn't work that way. It's a process, an arduous, grueling, considering process.

And if Derek wanted a spark to begin with, he would've asked a long time ago. It's been over ten years. Derek has been the Hale pack's alpha for over ten years. Boyd was inducted into the Martin pack when he was sixteen, around the same time Scott was getting inducted into the Hale pack. Stiles waited for a while, at first, after Scott got in. He more or less figured...they had to want him? There were three packs and three sparks in Beacon Hills. And Stiles was the last spark, the Hales the last pack, so...?

But. Derek never asked. Never expressed any interest whatsoever. Staring and sniffing and life-saving aside, Derek hardly paid the spark any mind.

Stiles should've disconnected with Scott a long time ago. He should've taken the hint and skedaddled, realized he wasn't welcome with the Hales a long time ago. As soon as he turned eighteen, he should've been in another state with another pack. Instead, he stayed behind and waited around, and now he doesn't have a god damn choice.

So, no. He doesn't even bother asking Derek. He doesn't bother even turning in a spark application to the Hales. He doesn't even tell Derek about the whole ordeal himself – Scott tells him. So, once again, he wasn't there to see what Derek's reaction to the entire thing was; he imagines again the spinning in the swivel chair and the petting of the white cat.

Though, maybe that characterization of Derek is an unfair one. After all, maybe he wasn't welcomed into the pack like he thought he would be, but he did get the triskele pendant. That was...nice of Derek. Extraordinarily nice.

Nice isn't going to save his life, though. So he sends out announcements to all sparkless packs within a hundred mile radius (apparently there are about six of them) and doesn't even call Derek Hale. Maybe it's there in the back of his mind; how much easier every thing would be if he could just join the god damn Hale pack, how much better off he'd be with people he actually knows and cares about, how he could still be around his dad and his best friends and his tiny little spark support group.

But – it's not his place. Derek didn't come running over the second he heard to offer him a spot, so he more or less assumed the point was moot.

He'll find a new, hopefully nice pack and find someway to fit in there. Alone.

It doesn't help that he has another one of his E rated sex dreams about Derek the night he sends out all the applications – like his brain is nudging him, begging him to talk to Derek about it, to ask Derek, to just...try. Because they could really fucking be something, right?

Stiles has his mouth around Derek's dick, gazing up at him through his long eye-lashes, before he pulls off and asks if he can be Derek's spark; and he could make Derek happy, right? He could be every thing Derek wants him to be. He'd be good and do as Derek asks of him and he wouldn't get into as much trouble anymore.

He'd learn to control his magic and – and be the best spark ever. He'd be powerful and smart. He could do all that shit, for Derek; and maybe it hurts him, in more ways than one, that Derek doesn't seem to be interested in any of that shit.

----

“He didn't look happy about it.”

“Who?”

“Derek. Derek didn't look happy about you-”

“What was the last thing Derek looked happy about?”

“Yeah, but...he seemed particularly not happy about it this time around. Like, after I told him he got really quiet and – and just kinda left?”

“Hmmm. Sounds like Derek to me.”

“Okay...but he seemed all – sad...”

Yet, again. It's not like he came running over to give Stiles the opportunity. Sad he might be to be losing an endless source of cotton candy and marshmallows, but not sad enough to give him a place in the Hale pack.

What he does come running over for is the interview process.

The guy just fucking shows up on the first day. He's somehow been clued in to the time that the first alpha Stiles will be meeting will be getting to the Stilinski house. He just shows up, no call no god damn note no carrier pigeon, in his fancy fucking car and his expensive jeans and his signature leather jacket and frown; he cites something about my jurisdiction again and speedwalks inside the house before Stiles can get a word in edgewise.

The Sheriff shakes his hand. Scott doesn't look surprised. Stiles gapes. It is not protocol at all for a random alpha with little to no affiliation to just be there in the middle of the fucking interview – how does that make fucking sense? Stiles has half a mind to tell Derek to get up and get the hell out of here before he scares off his potential new boss, but of course, by then he's already settled into the couch with a mug of coffee and a slice of cake that Stiles made the night before. Like he has plans of being here all god damn day, or something.

Stiles narrows his eyes, and approaches him with his hands on his hips. “Is there any reason-”

“I know a good alpha from a bad one,” he says around a mouthful of chocolate frosting before Stiles even finishes his sentence. “You have no idea what to look for.”

“Like I'm so incompetent, right?”

“Believe it or not,” another wad of cake is shoveled into his mouth, “not everything I do is meant to be some covert insult against you, Stiles. I'm just trying to look out for you.”

Stiles snorts and rolls his eyes. He sees clear as day what this is – and it's got nothing whatsoever to do with Stiles being looked out for. It's all about yet another fucking alpha pissing contest, also known as the reason Derek lives and breathes. There is nothing, not a single thing, that Derek loves more than beating another alpha at literally anything. Sports, card games, fights, arguments. He's probably going to sit there the entire time taunting the other alpha until they get into a physical altercation and ruin his mother's coffee table.

He points his index finger at Derek, who just slices into his cake again like he could care less as a spark of electricity accidentally shoots up into the air, his magic still going strong and angry. “If you mess this up for me...”

Derek swallows his cake and looks at Stiles mock-expectantly – like oh please continue I'm so fascinated to hear what you have to say. Stiles wants to fucking control his magic if only to blow this asshole skyhigh with a ball of electricity.

“...I will eat your eyeballs out of your fucking skull.”

“Hm.”

“You think I'm kidding?”

“I think you're bluffing.”

“Oh yeah?” Stiles does the only thing he feels confident enough to try at the moment. He leans down and slides his finger roughly across Derek's palm, don't fucking do that Stiles!, fzzt, and - “ha! You leave your car window open tomorrow and it rains! Ha! Ha! Ha!” Stiles thinks about that leather interior getting fucking ruined by the rain and has a good long cackle about it – the face that Derek makes in his head at the sight of it is so fucking delicious that he's sure it's better than any cotton candy he could make.

Derek glowers up at him from the couch, discarding his empty cake plate down onto the coffee table with a clatter. “I've never left the window to my car open.”

“And yet!” He taps his temple. “The eye has seen it!”

“It's not going to happen.”

How this man – this animal – has not learned that everything Stiles fucking says comes true no matter how hard he tries to resist it is beyond him. He's been right every time, every single fucking time, about the sandwiches and the ravioli and everything, and every time Derek acts all shocked and disgruntled.

Stiles lets it hang there. He'll learn. He'll fucking learn. Stiles doesn't have to argue with his stubborn ass to win the argument – the gauntlet's been thrown and Stiles is in the lead without even having to try. He'll hide out behind the bushes outside the Hale house – waiting in the rain for Derek to come out and swear and growl and pitch a fit because Stiles has won once again.

Which, maybe is a little bit too much investment to put into a person who he probably won't ever see again once he picks a new pack.

When the prospective alpha shows up, he only knows because Derek lets out a short growl. It's a little bit much – Stiles smacks him in the back of the head with 'accidental' jolts of electricity.

She's a six foot tall blonde girl named Sam with huge eyes and a pretty dress. She doesn't look much older than twenty-seven, hands Stiles a plate of sugar cookies with a giggle of heard sugar is your specialty and walks like she belongs on a runway in Paris somewhere. Stiles thinks he might be in love with her.

She sniffs at him for a few seconds, the way all werewolves do, and she must like what she smells – because her eyes light up and she doesn't go running for the hills when she sees Derek. Instead she smiles, offers him her hand.

He doesn't take it. He blinks at it, once, twice, and then looks up to meet her eyes.

“Anyway,” Stiles cuts in as Sam withdraws her hand with an uncomfortable smile, “this is whatshisface, and -”

“Derek Hale,” she corrects with a nod, because of course she'd know exactly who he is. “I'm aware. I didn't realize you had a personal attachment to the spark.”

“Personal attachment is a strong word, but-”

“He belongs to one of my betas.” Derek's voice is plain. Blank of any discernible emotion – except, perhaps, a barely contained rage. Which isn't so atypical for him.

Stiles puts the plate of cookies on the table, frowning. “I don't really belong to anyone, but-”

“Just thought I'd come by and make sure he's getting taken care of.” The words are pleasant enough – but again, the tone is not. Stiles glances over to the kitchen, where his father and Scott are sitting, watching the entire altercation. The Sheriff is scrubbing a hand across his forehead while Scott continues to look entirely unsurprised.

Sam laughs, tilting her head to the side. “I'm interested in why you haven't taken him in, then. If that's not too personal a question.”

Stiles looks at Derek, and frowns. “Well, because he's-”

“He can choose for himself. It's not about taking him anywhere.”

But he apparently isn't allowed to utter one full fucking sentence without being interrupted by one of them? Apparently?

“Sparks can't choose anything for themselves,” it's weird hearing something so fucked up come out of a face that pretty, with cookies and a pretty dress; weird enough that Stiles doubletakes her after she's finished saying it. “They need wolves to guide them. That's the balance.”

“Now, hang on a minute...”

“That's the whole reason you're here. Is it not?” She smiles prettily at Derek, who sets his jaw so hard Stiles is surprised to not hear teeth crushing into dust. “To choose for him?”

“If I had my way he wouldn't even be here,” Stiles defends himself meekly – on the tips of his fingers he feels the electricity start up, feels the telltale signs of his magic about to lose control, take over the situation.

“You don't have your way,” she tilts her head to the side, stroking her eyes down to where the electricity is fizzling on his fingertips. “At all.”

This is officially in the running for weirdest, most uncomfortable, bizarre conversation he's ever had. Derek actually stands up – not a good sign. Not a good fucking sign. Sam watches with a blank expression, her smile not faltering for a second, not impressed by him, apparently; in spite of the fact that the guy has yet to lose a fight with any alpha, she just blinks at him.

Not a good fucking sign. “He doesn't get to make any choices for me,” Stiles affirms in what he hopes is a calming voice – typically, that's what he is. A calming presence. The only thing standing in-between two alphas and a fight to the death. Normally. With his spark out of control, though, something tells him that might be a bit off today.

“I'll make this one,” Derek says evenly, gesturing to Sam with a growl, “you should leave. Now.”

“Hey!” Stiles hisses, snapping his fingers in Derek's direction, releasing a fizzle to fly into his face. Derek swats it away with a grunt. “I'll decide who goes and who leaves!”

Sam laughs. “I'd like to take the spark right out from under the Hale pack's wing.”

“I'm not-”

“Leave.” The word is snarled through grit teeth – and now, neither alpha is looking at him anymore. Stiles' dad is probably somewhere in the background loading wolfsbane bullets into his gun, while Scott tries to decide whether pulling Stiles away from the fray would be a good idea. “Now.”

Sam stares at Stiles for a couple of seconds; Stiles is in too much of a state of surprise, confusion, and shock to really do more than blink back at her with a slightly unhinged jaw, wondering – how could someone so pretty be so fucking...creepy.

What else did he expect, he thinks, as her smile turns near-feral. An alpha's an alpha.

“The Hale pack's weakness is a tiny little spark – who would've thought,” she leers at Stiles – and suddenly the reason she even came here to begin with is abundantly clear.

She might've had some moderate interest in seeing the spark for herself, maybe even for taking him home with her right there on the spot. But, an alpha that just wants a spark to help make her pack stronger doesn't usually leer like that and say things like the Hale pack's weakness. Stiles can put two and two together sometimes.

One well manicured hand reaches out in his direction; she gets within two inches of him, and he's just getting ready to leap backwards with a yelp when, you know – all hell breaks loose. The usual. Just another day in the life of Stiles, with Derek attacking another alpha with the amount of ferocity usually reserved for tigers mauling zebras in the wild.

Growling, and snarling, and jaws snapping with bites that just narrowly miss flesh – and Stiles leaps into action.

“The coffee table!” He yells, coming around the back of the altercation with his arms spread out to stand in front of said table; it was his mother's favorite piece of furniture in the house and he'll be fucking damned if either of these two idiots even so much as scratch it. Derek predictably changes course as far away from Stiles as he can manage, shoving Sam in the direction of the front door. They're both fully wolfed out, claws and fangs and scrunched up faces and pointy ears, and Stiles huffs.

This is...exactly what he should have expected the second Derek showed up. Alpha pissing contest. Whatever. He looks into the kitchen and sees his father still rubbing a hand across his forehead, firearm dangling limply from one hand as he watches, sees Scott walking over to him with his arms crossed over his chest. “This,” Stiles gestures to the fight, “is so boring.”

“Yeah,” Scott agrees as the front door gets shattered into a billion pieces where Sam goes flying through it.

“God dammit!” His father hisses, coming out to assess the damage – complete and total pulverization. A new door is in their future; not like it hasn't been ripped off its hinges in about a half dozen other similar werewolf fights since Stiles was sixteen.

With moderate interest, Stiles and Scott watch through the window as Derek holds Sam down with one arm, punching her in the face again, and again, and again. Stiles sighs and cups his hands over his mouth to yell, “don't kill her!” out at the alpha – if he hears it, he doesn't acknowledge it. With the Sheriff standing at the other window watching the entire thing, he highly doubts that Derek will be able to get off the hook for first degree murder.

“I knew this would happen,” Scott mutters under his breath. Stiles isn't sure whether or not he was supposed to hear it – he responds all the same.

“What?”

Scott slides his eyes to his friend, frowning, while in the background Derek slams his foot down onto Sam's arm with a crack so loud he thinks the entire neighborhood could hear it. “I knew he'd do this.”

“Me, too,” Stiles agrees; Scott looks at him with a furrowed eyebrow, and a frown, like he thinks that Stiles is just not getting it, or something.

It all ends with Sam raising her hand in defeat, spitting up a huge wad of blood onto her pretty white dress, before Derek snarls something right into her face that Stiles can't catch but can imagine for himself – if you ever come around here again blah blahalhabh – he practically throws the female into her car before whirling around to storm back up the porch steps.

As the car is peeling out of the driveway, Derek is bursting through the completely destroyed door, finding Stiles with his eyes. Stiles opens his mouth to go what the fuck, Derek, but Derek is already moving.

He zooms past where Stiles and Scott are standing, and – of all fucking things – grabs the plate of cookies off the coffee table and throws them down onto the ground. Over the sound of Stiles' protests, he starts stomping on them.

Can Stiles repeat – Derek is stomping on a plate of sugar cookies in the middle of Stiles' fucking living room, while an annoyed Sheriff, unsurprised Scott, and a confused Stiles look on. Stiles knows he has a dropped jaw, that noises are coming out from the back of his throat as he watches the alpha smash the cookies into dust on the ground, but it's all so...funny?

Derek is covered in blood, stomping on sugar cookies after just having beat the literal shit out of another alpha werewolf. It's kind of funny? Maybe.

“What the hell, Derek!” He finally manages to choke out a full sentence; when Derek whips his head up to glare at him, he involuntarily takes a step back, as does Scott. His eyes are still glowing fucking blood red, his fangs are covered in real blood, and he looks like a psychopath.

He points a bloody finger in Stiles' direction, and Scott and Stiles share a look. “You're not going off with some other pack.”

“Um-”

“Mine, Stiles. Mine.”

Without another fucking word, he flees the scene. Just walks out of the living room, down the porch, to where his Camaro is sitting. Almost as an afterthought, probably from the shock of it all, a burst of sugar spills out of Stiles' fingers onto the hardwood floors while he watches Derek climb into his car and speed out of the driveway.

He stands there for a second, opening and closing his mouth, cotton candy pooling all around his feet. Scott, unperturbed and still unsurprised, puts his palm out to catch some, starts licking it off his hand.

“What happened to Stiles can choose for himself,” Stiles mutters to himself more than anyone else, glaring out at where the Camaro was sitting seconds earlier.

“Yeah,” Scott agrees, a fluff of sugar at the corner of his mouth. “I knew he'd do this, too.” Stiles looks to him with a question in his eyes, and Scott shakes his head slowly back and forth. “He's, like, wanted you. Obviously.”

Not obviously. Not fucking obviously. Obviously? Fucking - “no...”

“Yes,” Scott says with a shrug, scooping some more sugar up off the ground. “He's wanted you in the pack. That's why he's been so down lately. I thought you had a sense for this stuff?"

Stiles gapes. He blinks over at his father, who's just standing there inspecting the door, hearing this conversation and barely reacting to it at all.

"What - what?"

"Derek wants you in the pack?" Scott says this like another person might say two plus two equals four.

When Stiles has spent the last, like, six years of his life fucking convinced that Derek hated him, fantasizing about him in his god damn dreams, imagining what it would be like to be in the Hale pack for real...

It just doesn't make sense.

But he thinks about mine, Stiles, mine and the fact that he showed up today at all, and the way he looks at Stiles sometimes, and how the energy in the Hale house picks up the second he comes over and holy shit -

Derek wants him in the fucking pack.

Since, apparently, it's either the Hale pack or death by drowning in a sea of cotton candy, Stiles drives to the Hale house that same night. A pile of pink sugar pools up in his lap as he goes, and at least now he knows that the sugar thing is prompted by stress and anxiety; if Derek was fucking serious about him joining the Hale pack then hopefully he won't have to worry about this anymore sometime soon. Because, seriously? It's not easy scraping sugar off the interior of his Jeep.

Stiles knows that Derek knows when he pulls into the driveway, and also knows when he's standing on the front porch. Even if he couldn't hear the Jeep, and even if he couldn't smell the cotton candy trailing behind him in a steady stream, he at least hears the screams of free candy! from the younger members of the pack as they come running out to greet him accompanied by “do not eat that off the ground” from Talia.

Talia eyes him for a second. “I'm curious to hear why you didn't want to join the Hale pack, Stiles.”

Stiles freezes in the middle of dropping his uncontrollable cotton candy into Laura's hands. “Didn't want to?”

“That's what Derek said,” Laura mutters around a mouthful of pink. “He was pretty mad when he heard.”

Stiles sets his jaw. This is fucking ridiculous. This is – this is just uncouth. If Derek cared so much then how come he – oh, for fuck's sake.

He walks inside the house and climbs up the stairs, and he just fucking knows Derek is listening. The cotton candy carves out his path behind him, and Talia keeps screaming at the kids to not eat it off the floor, and Stiles just keeps going; he goes up the winding staircase to the third floor, all the way down the long hallway to where Derek's bedroom door is. He'll be sulking in there. Stiles is fucking positive of it.

He doesn't even knock on the door; if Derek was doing anything he'd be embarrassed to have Stiles walk in on he'd have stopped the second Stiles started coming up the steps. He just waltzes right in, puts his hands on his hips, not caring that he's getting sticky candy all over his clothes, and narrows his eyes. “You better start talking.”

“About what?” Derek is sitting wide eyed at his desk, with a notebook out in front of him.

“Ha!” Stiles points a finger at him, narrowing his eyes even deeper. “Where to begin? Where to begin with you?”

Where to begin with Derek Hale? For starters – his bedroom is a mess. Like, clothes strewn everywhere, books spread out on the ground, empty water bottles on every flat surface.

“How come you're telling everyone that I didn't want to be in the Hale pack?”

“Because you never even told me you were trying to find a pack, maybe?”

“Because you never invited me to the Hale pack!”

“Because I was waiting for you to offer!”

Stiles already has his mouth open to spit back and another thing!, but he stops short. “An- you? Me? ME?”

Derek sighs so loud he thinks that his entire family can hear it even with the soundproofed walls.

“When you – literally mere hours ago – were bossing me around? And you wanted me to offer? Me? You're blaming this whole thing on me?”

The alpha sets his jaw and looks pointedly away, glaring up at the ceiling for a second before averting to the opposite corner of the room from where Stiles is shedding sugar all over the floor. “You never expressed interest.” He's practically growling.

“You!” Stiles shoots back, pointing another finger, sending a puff of pink cotton flying through the air in Derek's direction. The alpha follows the tuft with his eyes, sighs through his nose. “You! Never! Expressed! Interest!”

“Are you – kidding me?”

You're kidding me!”

“I gave you a fucking triskele, Stiles!”

“If I remember correctly,” Stiles steps farther into the room, steps on a black shirt on his way, “you said that was to, like, protect me! Not a fucking proposition!”

“Really, Stiles?” He narrows his eyes right back at the spark, remaining seated in his desk chair. “Really? I give you my family crest for no reason? That's what you've been thinking?”

“I!” Now that he mentions it. Now that he fucking mentions it...

...it is kind of ridiculous.

“But – you – I...”

“I've wanted you in my pack since I first fucking met you,” Derek hisses through his teeth – it's such a weird statement to hear in Derek's voice, especially when he's this pissed off. “You were the one who wanted nothing to do with me. Not the other way around.”

When Stiles has been walking around with a hard-on for Derek ever since he knew what hard-ons were? When Stiles has had, like, vivid sex dreams about the guy? When he's had to put conscious effort into covering up the smell of his arousal sometimes in his presence? And yet he gets to sit there and act like Stiles is the one with the fucking problem.

“You've treated me like a huge, like, tumor on your life since we met!”

Derek glares at him for a few seconds. A heavy handed fucking glare. At least the cotton candy is finally starting to fucking stop – although there's still a huge mound of it on Derek's bedroom floor. He'll probably get in trouble for that later on.

Without another word, he rises from his seat. Stiles half expects him to come over, grab the spark by his shoulders, and shake him a half dozen times just because he can. Instead, Derek walks right up to his dresser, all the way in the corner – Stiles is about to make a crack like I doubt there's anything in there seeing as how nearly all of your clothes are on the fucking ground right now – but then the alpha pulls out a suspiciously familiar looking piece of red fabric, and tosses it out onto the bed for Stiles to get a better look at.

His fucking hoodie. The red god damn hoodie that he accused his father of throwing out for getting too ratty. The hoodie he nearly held a fucking funeral for, that he's searched high and god damn low for for weeks, that red hoodie. “Hey!” Stiles hisses, closing the gap between himself and Derek's bed to grab at his jacket with sticky fingers. “This is – mine!”

Derek huffs through his nose and doesn't make eye contact. “I took it.”

“You! Took!? It!?” He holds the thing close to himself, sniffing at it for a second. “You stole it! You looked me in my face and said I didn't take it!”

The alpha shrugs, albeit somewhat guiltily.

“That was an invasion of my personal, like, rights!” He rubs it against his face, because it smells like home, still. Comfort. “Why would you do that? I fucking looked and looked and looked for this thing – all this time it's just been in your underwear drawer?!”

For a couple of seconds, it's silent. Derek still won't look directly at him – he's glaring out his window right now, a frown all over his face – not just limited to his lips, but all over his face, from the crinkle in his forehead straight down to the set of his fucking jaw. “It – it smelled like you.”

For fuck's sake. “You know,” Stiles rolls his eyes as he jabs his arms into his jacket, “if you wanted some spark smell, you could've just asked for some of my hair. I'd have probably said no, but -”

“Wasn't – it wasn't the spark smell,” he interrupts, and for the first time since he took the hoodie out from his drawer, he looks Stiles in the face. “...it was you.”

Stiles meeps. “Me?”

Derek nods. “I...like the way you smell.” A beat. “A lot.”

In a moment of hysteria, most likely because he's so fucking shocked that his brain to mouth filter is completely shot at the moment, he says, “have you jerked off with this?”

He regrets it the second it's out of his mouth; he waits for the what the fuck, Stiles!?, for the yelling, for the growling, for the red eyes coming at him – the entire confection of Derek being annoyed at him, as usual. He's about to say he's sorry, but then, Derek...

Derek fucking nods. Shamelessly. He doesn't even look that embarrassed by it; he bobs his head up and down and shrugs his shoulders.

The cotton candy starts up again, this time even stronger. He's...freaking out. Freaking the fuck out. Because in the past seventy-two hours, he's gone from thinking he was going to have to move away to find some other pack to take him in under penalty of death, to...being told that Derek Hale has jerked off with the jacket he's wearing at the moment.

The least shocking part of all this is that he has no desire whatsoever to take the thing off now that he knows; it probably has dried jizz somewhere on it. He does not care. He really doesn't.

Derek Hale is fucking into him. The man himself - the star of his god damn sex dreams, into him. It's all Stiles can do to stand there and not shove his hand down the alpha's pants; and this conversation is sure as fuck taking a turn for the surprising.

“Okay.” He says.

“Okay.” Derek says back.

“I'm mad at you,” Stiles decides, and Derek raises his eyes to look directly into Stiles', “for not inviting me into your pack.”

“I'm mad at you for not offering yourself.”

Stiles' lips quirk up at the corners, and he tilts his head to the side, pulling his hoodie closer around himself – Derek watches the movement with dark eyes. “You're the alpha, yeah?” He takes a step towards where Derek is standing.

“Not of you,” he says quietly back, watching as Stiles comes closer and closer to him, as the cotton candy trails behind him in tufts.

“Hmmm...” Stiles tilts his head to the opposite side, like he's thinking – he comes within five feet of Derek, and smiles at him. “...there should be a yet on the end of that sentence.”

The wolf blinks at him a couple of times, and Stiles nearly rolls his eyes at how daft he can be sometimes. “Are you...”

“I'd like to be in the Hale pack, Derek. Otherwise -” he shakes his hand, and the cotton candy sputters for a second, before starting up again, “...this stuff might kill me.” There are a few beats, where Stiles and Derek just stand there smiling doofily at one another, before Stiles waves his hand in-between their bodies in the distance between them. “...do you...?”

That's all it takes. Just a half question, some vague gesturing between their dicks, and then Stiles doesn't have either his shirt or his hoodie on anymore. It happens fast enough that he actually has to glance around to look for what happened to his shirt, only he doesn't get very far with that, either – Derek is already pawing at the button of his jeans, already shoving him backwards so his ass smacks up against the edge of the desk.

“Okay, fuck,” Stiles breathes, pushing Derek's fumbling fingers out of the way to undo his jeans himself, getting sugar all over the place. “Is this going to fucking stop?”

“Me?”

“The candy, Derek.”

“I don't mind.” To reiterate his point, Derek pulls Stiles' jeans and boxers down, down, past his knees, and then picks the spark up by his hips to sit him down on the desk. Stiles hardly has time to adjust to the feeling of being completely naked before Derek is pulling the jeans down the rest of the way, over his shoes, tossing them somewhere behind himself; they haven't even fucking kissed yet, and he's...naked.

Aside from his ankle socks and converse. Which, he's sure he looks a little ridiculous, but Derek doesn't seem to think so from the way he trails his eyes up and down Stiles' body appreciatively, and the spark can't help the blush that colors his cheeks; it's been a while since someone aside from Scott has seen him naked, like this.

“I don't know if you want to touch me, right now,” he says, low, right as Derek's arms are boxing him in, as Derek's body is pushing in-between Stiles' legs to spread them wide. “I don't – have control.” There's still cotton candy dripping out of his fingertips, and any second he could whip a ball of electricity out of the tips of his fingers to zap Derek directly in the chest; and, again, they haven't even kissed.

The wolf raises his hand, and Stiles notices his claws are out, right before he feels the gentle prick of them against the side of his neck. Stiles swallows heavily, breathing shallowly through his nose, as Derek stares at his fingers up against Stiles' neck with fascination, like he can't believe it. “I do.”

The claws press deeper, and Stiles knows what he's doing. Exactly what he agreed to, is what he's doing; he's marking Stiles. Typically it's with teeth, when it comes to other wolves or humans, but with sparks, it's claws. The thought that Derek could just twitch his fingers and claw his throat straight out occurs to him, but more absently than anything else, not something he's actually afraid of.

Derek wouldn't do that. That's half of the point – the trust. The willingness to sit there and let a certified wild animal ten times as strong as him to press its claws up against one of the most vulnerable, fragile parts of his body, because Derek wouldn't. He'd never, not in a million years, do something like that to Stiles on purpose. Something also tells Stiles that Derek would sooner chew his own flesh off the bones of his fingers than do it on accident, either.

Deeper, still, the claws press, until Stiles' breath hitches in pain, and Derek leans forward with a gentle shhh, running his tongue up and down the other side of the spark's neck before pressing his lips near his collarbones. The claws aren't going deep enough to draw blood, and they're not really supposed to; at least, not right now. Eventually, Derek will probably want to do the marking more permanently, so it lasts for months and months instead of just days – but for now, it seems, the surface level marks are fine enough for him.

He retracts them, finally, and lifts his lips off of Stiles' neck to kiss him, finally – and it's...nice. Very nice. A very nice, hot thing, having Derek's tongue in his mouth. A+, exactly like he thought it would be, and on and on. It's not really the main event, though, and right as he gets used to the way Derek tastes and the way Derek's tongue moves against his and how Derek's body feels pressed up against his, he reaches his hand down to grab at the button the alpha's jeans...

...only to get his hand pushed away. He blinks his eyes open in surprise, pulling back, because he expects Derek to say something about no sex today, because...why the fuck else would he push Stiles' hand away from getting at his dick?

Instead, Derek pushes the hand down to rest right next to Stiles' bare thigh, and then wraps the fingers around the underside of the desk. He does the same with the other hand, and looks up to meet Stiles' eyes. “Don't move them.”

Stiles raises his eyebrows, frowning. “But I thought-”

“Do as I say,” Derek smirks into his face, “for once.”

The spark opens his mouth to protest, like he always does, but then there is a hand. On his dick. A very, very distracting fucking hand on his fucking dick, and instead of something like I'll do whatever I want coming out of his mouth, some sort of wanton moan shoots out of his throat instead.

“Stay still,” Derek warns him, eyes flitting all over Stiles' face, watching him carefully as he strokes slowly up and down with deft fingers. “Or I stop.”

The thought of this feeling stopping, the thought of Derek pulling his calloused hand off of him for even a fraction of a second, is enough to make him snap his jaw shut over his protests. “Okay,” Stiles breathes out, fingers shaking where they're gripping the desk tightly, “okay, fuck. Fine.”

From what he remembers, handjobs aren't normally this fucking great; he guesses it must be the fact that he's, like, fantasized about this for a very, very long time. Isn't getting something that you've been privately wanting for years supposed to be more satisfying, or something? Most likely.

He bites his lip around another moan, and Derek kisses him on the mouth again, swiping his tongue across Stiles' teeth, and then he says - “the way you taste...”

Stiles has been told by his two previous lovers that he tastes good; pretty much exactly like how he smells. Derek licks into his mouth like he's trying to find the source of whatever it is he's tasting, and it's not bad at all. Not one bit of bad going on around here.

It occurs to Stiles that Derek is still fully clothed, while he's completely naked – it also occurs to Stiles that there's a very suspicious looking bulge in Derek's jeans that he's paying absolutely no attention to. The only thing Derek seems to care about at all is kissing Stiles' face, stroking him in leisurely up and down motions, sniffing at his neck intermittently between every thing else.

And, that there's still fucking cotton candy spilling out of his fingers. “Fuck,” he hisses, glancing down at the pile of pink sugar pooling down on the ground around Derek's feet, “sorry, sorry about that.”

Derek glances down at what Stiles is looking at, as if he'd forgotten all about that little hiccup, and then his eyebrows raise into his hairline before he looks back up into Stiles' face. He tilts his head to the side, a little mischievously Stiles thinks, though he wouldn't know since Derek's not usually one for being mischievous and thus has never seen the facial expression before.

When Derek grabs onto the hand that's spewing the sugar and holds it directly over Stiles' crotch, he thinks he can say that Derek is definitely being mischievous.

The sugar spills over his bare, hard dick, drips down over his balls, and he gasps at how weird it feels – in a long of ways, it's kind of like his own come dripping over himself. Just...weird. “I-”

“Shh.”

“I cannot fucking believe...”

Derek slaps his hand over Stiles' mouth, and then his face disappears out of Stiles' line of vision. The hand stays solidly placed where it is, keeping Stiles' mouth shut, and the fingers smell like nothing but Derek's skin and Derek's sweat, and it's not bad, at all. “Are you okay?”

Derek's breath is literally right up against his dick, right there, and it's all Stiles can do to nod up and down mindlessly, even though what Derek is about to do is so far out of the realm of what he ever thought possible; when the first swipe of the alpha's tongue drags along his length, he kicks. He can't help it.

He doesn't kick at anything, just out in the air, but Derek pulls back all the same. The hand drops down from the spark's mouth, and Stiles glances down to look at the alpha in-between his legs. “I said don't move,” he grins up at Stiles.

“Okay, okay,” Stiles whines, shifting just slightly, trying to angle his sugar-coated dick in Derek's direction, “I'm not. I won't.”

“This is what it takes to get you to listen to me?” Derek rolls his eyes and puts one hand on Stiles' bare thigh, rubbing soothing circles into the skin. “My tongue?”

Stiles nods, frantically.

“Yet if your life is literally in danger, I have to fucking beg you to listen to what I tell you to do.”

“You could beg me like this from now on,” Stiles pants, and it takes every thing in him to hold his hands down on the desk, again – to not reach forward and run his fingers through Derek's hair, to not paint the cotton candy all over his face, to not drip more over his crotch so Derek has to spend more time down there. “I'd do anything you say.”

Derek smirks up at him again, leaning forward to kitten lick a mound of sugar off of the tip of Stiles' dick. “Noted.”

He goes on like that – licking stripes up and along Stiles, cleaning all the sugar off of it meticulously, until the spark is shaking and near-crying in begging Derek to take the entire thing in his mouth, please, fuck, holy shit. Even then, Derek just laughs, moving his mouth down to lave at Stiles' balls for a long minute.

Stiles' fingers are red, and aching where they're holding onto the desk. He doesn't know how much longer he's going to fucking make it if Derek doesn't let him put his hands somewhere on Derek's body, to grab his own dick, to jerk himself off, fucking something. Like Derek can sense it, he pulls away, finally, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. Stiles whines at the loss of him in-between his legs, knows there's nothing left for Derek to lick off, thinks about taking the initiative to drape his still dripping hand over his own crotch again.

Luckily, he's not so far gone that he doesn't know that Derek wouldn't let him. So he twitches and stares down at his own erection screaming out at him, bites his lip, makes desperate eye contact with Derek.

“You're the alpha,” Stiles says slowly, a callback to something he said before they started doing this. “You – you're my alpha.”

“I am,” Derek agrees with a blinding grin – the hugest smile Stiles has ever seen him give off. “You're my spark.”

Stiles nods, up and down, can't resist a twitch of his hips forwards towards Derek again. “Please – can I – can I touch your palm?”

Derek must've thought that Stiles was going to ask something different – like, most likely, can I touch myself – so he blinks in surprise a couple of times. “I guess,” he says, holding his hand out, palm up, in Stiles' general direction.

“You hate this,” Stiles reminds him, grinning as his throbbing fingers come forward to scrub across the alpha's calloused palm.

Derek waits for a few seconds, watches as Stiles' face breaks into a smile. “What do you see? Lasagna, maybe?”

Stiles smiles down at him, dropping his hand back down to grip the desk again, obediently. “You fuck me tomorrow.”

Derek cocks his head to the side, and then nods up and down agreeably. “Sounds about right.”

“What?” Stiles asks, raising his eyebrows playfully. “You're not going to try and be all, like, no I won't.” Stiles' impression of Derek's voice consists of a frown, a furrowed brow, and a gravelly rasp of a deep voice.

The wolf in front of him huffs out a laugh and says, “I think I've finally learned better than that.” There are a couple of beats of silence – and Stiles thinks it's funny that he's completely naked with a raging hard-on covered in Derek's spit while the alpha himself is kneeling in-between his spread legs; yet, as far as he can tell, Derek has literally no plans to continue what he was doing before. No plans to get Stiles off, at least, and the thought makes Stiles squirm.

Slowly, Derek raises his eyes to meet Stiles' with a smile playing along his lips, tilting his head slightly to the side like he's trying to examine the spark from a different angle. “Can I have the connection now?”

Connecting to a spark is a big deal. Like, the biggest deal. It's kind of like getting married, except instead of divorce, the spark has to either undergo intense pain and suffering to snap the thread off or connect with someone else to get rid of the existing one. It's meant to be planned for typically months ahead of time, meant to be all special with candles and a nice dinner, and some sparks even have ceremonies for their connections.

When Scott and Stiles connected, it was planned and all; but it wasn't the usual romantic type of way, it was more so Stiles could have someone to look after him more efficiently and effectively. Purely just a necessary thing with no candles and no special dinner and no ceremony. Alone in Stiles' bedroom with the curtains drawn and awkwardly clearing their throats after they came all over themselves.

So, hearing Derek just casually throw it out there the way someone else might say think I might go for a bit of a walk later on is kind of, like, shocking.

“What?” Stiles demands, eyes going huge; he still has a fucking hard-on and Derek is still in-between his legs and – and...this isn't how it's supposed to happen?

Derek trails his eyes down Stiles' neck, probably eyeballing the claw marks and bruising from Derek's teeth and lips. “I want to be connected to you. Now.”

“You – I – now?”

“Now.”

“But!” He shifts slightly, and finally pulls his hands off the edges of the desk, deciding that sexy time has officially fucking ended. “We haven't even – like – talked about it?”

Derek cocks his head to the side like a confused dog. “What's there to talk about?”

Stiles stares down at him with huge eyes and a dropped jaw. Out of all the fucking weird conversations that he and Derek have had...this one might just take the fucking cake. “Um? Everything? There's everything to talk about?”

“Like what?”

“Like! Everything! Are we going to move in together, what about Scott, is the rest of the pack okay with it, what are we going to-”

“You're overthinking this.” He says it with a smile on his face so fucking casually that Stiles wants to just – to just reach out and squeeze his fucking nose.

You're not taking this as seriously as you should be!” Although, to be fair, it's probably really hard to take Stiles completely seriously while he's wearing nothing except a pair of sneakers while surrounded by a puddle of pink cotton candy fluff. “This isn't just some like hey, dude, wanna, like, do it? type of thing, Derek!”

The alpha's eyebrows raise. “You don't appear to be understanding that I've waited years for this, Stiles. I'm not taking it lightly.”

Years. He's waited years for this. In the back of his mind, Stiles recalls all the times that he would catch Derek staring at him, even before they'd even officially met, and he wonders if the waiting stretches all the way back to then, too. The thought sends a jolt through his body and reminds him that he is still, painfully, hard, and fucking into this, and into Derek, and for a few seconds he's too flustered to come up with another argument.

Because just up and connecting with Derek is nuts...right?

Right?

He swallows and shakes his head. “Okay. But – but there are still things that we need to...like, for example, the tattoo! The tattoo! I'm not-”

“What's there to discuss about the tattoo?”

A blush colors his cheeks and he looks away from the wolf, to glare down at the cotton candy pile. “Needles...freak me out. Okay?”

Derek laughs lightly and knits his eyebrows together. “I don't think I knew that about you.”

“See!” He points a finger into Derek's face, and the wolf watches it with vague interest. “That's what I'm talking about! You don't know me that well, and-”

“I don't see how me not knowing you're afraid of needles-”

“Not afraid just, like, wary.”

“...wary of needles means that I can't possibly know anything about you.”

“Because you-”

“I know your real name is Przemyslaw.”

Stiles gasps. “Who fucking told you that.” But already he's writing out an angry text to Scott in his head – something along the lines of what the fuck you fucking fink I cannot fucking believe...

“I know you can't sleep without your pillow. I know your favorite movies and TV shows and books, I know you like to rip oreos apart before eating them – what's any of that shit matter? It's all surface level, and none of it's you. And I fucking know you, Stiles.”

It's probably true, is the thing of it. Even if they haven't been the very best of friends and even if they hardly really talked about things like Stiles' fear of needles, they've known each other for a very, very long time. They've been watching each other and been around each other and helped each other and annoyed each other, for a very long time. And, in that time, Stiles thinks he got to know Derek, just like Derek claims he knows Stiles. Like, Stiles knows that while Derek may be quiet, he's always filing away the things people say, listening and watching everything with careful, knowing eyes. And that Derek eats pizza with a knife and a fork (like a fucking old lady) and that he has a habit of scratching a specific point on his face whenever he tries to tell a lie.

So – they know each other. Okay. And hearing Derek say all this is like a fantasy come to life, for him, and being offered a chance to connect with him is obviously the most incredible honor of all time, but... “...it's important to me. The – the connection and...being asked. I know it sounds dumb, but I want it to be like...a moment. You know?” Not just casually suggested and done in Derek's dark, messy bedroom with blackout curtains and converse sneakers on his feet.

Derek considers this for a second. Only a second, calculating eyes tracing over Stiles' face, and then, “okay.”

Without another word he leans forward and sucks Stiles halfway down into his mouth, eliciting a surprised mewl and a jump from Stiles himself. Through the haze of shock and mindless senseless pleasure, Stiles looks down at Derek and watches his head move up and down; watches his lips spread over Stiles' skin and the way his lashes rest against his cheek. He thinks about how two seconds ago they were having an actual serious conversation about something important, and now Derek is sucking him off like he's been fucking thinking about it and couldn't wait any longer.

Stiles drops his hand down into Derek's hair and runs his fingers through the black strands gently – and for a couple of seconds he's sure that Derek is going to pull off of him and say I told you not to move, but he doesn't. He just slides his tongue along the underside of Stiles' dick and makes a satisfied hmmm in the back of his throat.

It's not long before Stiles is tensing and gripping Derek's hair tightly, muttering I'm going to come only seconds before he actually does.

Derek swallows it. He slowly slides his mouth down to free Stiles' dick into the open air, and then he holds it gently in his hand as he kitten licks around the tip to clean off the remaining come; like he can't fucking get enough of it, or something.

“Do I taste good?” Stiles asks in a raspy voice, smirking.

Derek looks up and meets his eyes coolly, runs his tongue across his lips, and says, “you taste like sugar. Has no one ever told you that?”

Stiles has heard that he smells like sugar, that his skin literally reeks of sweetness and his hair might as well be brown sugar and his nails may as well be rock candy and his lips might as well be pink starburst; so, he's been told before that his come tastes like sugar, yes.

But he has never, never heard it said like that before. Like it's not just some gross, creepy fetish thing, or it's not just vaguely amusing. Derek says it like he'd literally make Stiles come fifty more times in a row if it meant he'd get to lick it all up afterward. In testament to this, he leans forward and swipes his tongue in long licks up Stiles, again, and again, until Stiles literally jerks and hisses sensitive! Sensitive, dude!

Even then, Derek just moves his mouth to Stiles' thigh and works his mouth along the pale skin; he's probably leaving behind some pretty impressive looking hickeys from his teeth. Stiles strokes his fingers through the alpha's hair, sighs through his nose in content. “When do I get to taste you?”

Derek lifts his eyes and laps one more lick across Stiles' inner thigh before answering. “I'm not coming unless it's inside of you.” He smirks. “So, tomorrow.”

----

Stiles shows up at the Hale house the next day the same way he always does. He bumbles in his Jeep up the rocky, dusty trail, coming to a stop right beside Laura's red car, creaks his door open and drops down with a crunch on the leaves and twigs. When he passes Derek's camaro and sees that the window is open and that the leather interior is covered in water, he smirks.

Scott had been unsurprised when Stiles came home the night before and told him, explicitly, that he and Derek had hooked up and that Derek wanted him to be in the Hale pack. His best friend simply chewed on a twizzler and nodded up and down, saying I knew he would do that.

The Sheriff had been likewise bored by the information, acted like he had been waiting a very long time for Stiles to come home and say as much, acted like this wasn't incredibly important stuff and it was all just another day at the office. Kira and Boyd gave each other a knowing smirk, and then Boyd gave a gruff nice and Kira a smiling wow! Deaton didn't say much except how he was glad that Stiles would not, in fact, be destroyed by his own magic growing too strong for his feeble body.

All around, it wasn't exactly the reaction he'd been hoping for. He was hoping for, like, excitement? Interest? Surprise? But, no. No. The most emotion he got out of any of his friends was Scott looking all crestfallen and upset when they started talking about what it was going to be like to not be connected anymore. Which, Stiles understands; they've been connected for so long now, that being without it will feel like missing a finger for a while, even with a connection to Derek replacing it. For Scott, it won't feel like anymore more than a drop in his stomach like he's on a rollercoaster, and since Stiles is just getting it replaced and won't have to actually rip it out of himself it won't hurt much for him either.

But, it's the end of something all the same.

Now he's back at the Hales to see Derek and probably have some pretty awesome sex and discuss their future all over again; at least that's what he had expected.

Before he can even knock on the front door, Scott is rounding the corner from the side of the porch and grinning at him as he stands in the light from the window beside him. Stiles is surprised to see him. “Hey,” he says, confused, narrowing his eyes, “what's-”

“Come in the back,” he jerks his head to where he had just come from, motioning for Stiles to follow him.

Stiles hesitates for a second, glancing between the front door and his best friend.

“Come on,” Scott repeats, laughing, “you're gonna like this.”

The sun has already fallen behind the mountains, leaving nothing behind but a faint light blue glow of twilight as the wind blows through the surrounding trees, and his eyes work just the same as a human's, so he has to squint when Scott disappears around the corner and out of the light spilling out from the living room window.

He passes the window himself, and rounds the corner to the back of the house.

The Hales have a gazebo in their backyard. Nothing fancy, but apparently it was built by the pack in the 1900's to commemorate a wedding of some sort; and back then, marriage was a huge deal, especially for the wolves. Nowadays the Hales use it for barbecues and a place to read on sunny days, and Stiles has spent many an afternoon out there with the girls playing a game of Can Stiles Predict Who Our Boyfriends Are Gonna Be.

Tonight, the string lights that Laura asked Stiles to help snake around the railings of the thing one night a summer ago are lit up, blindingly bright against the darkness of the surrounding forest. Stiles skitters to a stop when he sees it – surprised, but not confused.

Because he knows exactly what this is.

Inside the gazebo, the entire Hale pack is standing in a circle along the railings, grinning out at him with their faces illuminated somewhat eerily by the yellow glow of the stringlights. Talia, and Laura, Cora, Martha – even the fucking kids are there. And, Kira and Boyd. Allison. His father.

Pretty much every person that he cares about is here, now, underneath the glow, waiting for him.

Including Derek. He's standing on the very top step in the front of the gazebo, arms crossed across his chest, staring at Stiles with a smile. While Stiles is just stuck frozen in the spot fifteen feet away from it all, staring back in shock.

“You said you wanted a moment,” Derek calls to him.

A firework shoots out of Stiles' index finger, bursting up into the air with a boom. Everyone's eyes follow it and watch as the sparks bloom and begin falling back down towards the earth, a low murmur going through the pack.

“Sorry,” Stiles stutters, finally moving his feet forward on shaking legs. “Sorry, sorry – just...” he trips up the steps, falling forward, catching himself with his hands on the step right in front of Derek's feet. He still doesn't have control, of course, even with his magic knowing and understanding that pretty soon this entire pack of people will be in its domain, but it still overreacts during moments...well. Moments like this.

Exciting moments. Moments that make Stiles' hands shake and his mouth go dry.

He pulls himself into an upright standing position, and when he comes to the top step where Derek is, the alpha moves aside and angles his body so they're facing one another.

“This is...”

“A connection ceremony,” Derek clarifies, his face shadowed and angled by the lights.

Stiles trails his eyes across Derek's family, his father, Allison and Scott, Kira and Boyd. “Everyone's here,” he says, before looking back into Derek's eyes.

“Yeah.” He holds his hands out, palms up, towards Stiles.

Stiles stares down at them for a second, and gulps so loud the entire congregation probably hears it. A tingle of electricity starts up in his fingers, and he tries to ignore it, tries to get his mind straight. Of course he already agreed to connecting with Derek and of course he doesn't have any hesitations, but...

...it's really happening. In front of everyone. And Derek is staring at him expectantly, everyone is looking at him, waiting on him, and he thinks at any minute the cotton candy is going to start oozing everywhere all over again.

Luckily, he gets a hold of himself.

He raises his own hands and starts moving them towards Derek's, when, “no palm reading.”

Stiles blinks. “Not even just a little?”

“Stiles.” But he's smiling – grinning, even.

The spark slides his hands into Derek's, and he knows that Derek can feel the electricity thrumming through him as they stand there staring into each other's eyes and holding each other like this.

“No turning back,” Stiles reminds Derek in a teasing voice, smirking at him and tilting his head to the side.

“I reached that point years ago, Stiles,” Derek says plainly in response.

“Sorry it took me so long to catch up.”

“Hm. You can make it up to me.”

Interrupting them, and also reminding Stiles that there are actually other people here, Talia clears her throat. “Should I read the rites?”

Stiles and Derek both nod, and Talia opens up the leatherbound book she had been holding against her side; Stiles recognizes it instantaneously as the Hale pack's book of rituals and traditions. Things like mating, claiming, and connecting with sparks are detailed in there with some, er, vivid drawings – he's looked through it before even though Talia has told him a million times it's sacred and not to be touched until a ceremony. She's smacked him upside the head with that book many, many times before. He's very familiar with it.

It's all a bunch of ceremonial gooble-di-blah-blah in Stiles' opinion. She goes on reading from the book about the privilege of being mated to an alpha, the journey that one must walk alone has now become a journey that two must walk together and Stiles has to physically restrain himself from rolling his eyes. Mostly the only reason he manages to not snicker at every single sentence is because Derek is standing there watching her, listening with such a serious facial expression that it suddenly doesn't feel very funny anymore. Derek has probably read that book more times over than anyone else, as the alpha of the pack. He's probably, like, thought about this.

He has most likely dreamed about hearing his mother speak this words out loud. And, from what Derek has told him in the past two days, he's probably dreamed about this moment specifically with Stiles. So, Stiles swallows down his irritation and boredom and listens just as intently as Derek does, for his sake.

“...to carve out a place inside of yourself to make room for another requires one of the highest sacrifices we can suffer. Are you willing to make it?”

“I am,” Derek says, voice low, at the same time Stiles says, “totally, yeah.”

Talia smiles at them, and slaps the book closed with finality. “Przemyslaw Stilinski, you are officially a member of the Hale pack.”

“Nice,” he says, turning to look at Derek with a grin; Derek looks back at him with an equally enthused expression.

Because, all this? This was just the ceremonial bullshit part of it. The on paper part, the legal part, where everyone is bearing witness to a new union or whatever.

The real part, where Stiles actually becomes a member of the pack, when Stiles' magic actually has a place to spread itself out, when Derek actually connects with him – that's still to fucking come. Which, and Stiles is just spitballing here, but...it's probably gonna be fuckin' awesome.

Derek doesn't let go of Stiles' hands as the pack and Stiles' father and friends all clap; Stiles smirks and raises his eyebrows at him, like your move.

Derek's move turns out to be grabbing Stiles by the upper arm, cawing out a okay we're leaving to the group at large, and then dragging Stiles down the steps in such a hurry that Stiles nearly trips down the stairs and faceplants – would have done exactly that if it weren't for Derek's hand wrapped around his arm.

“Close your door!” Laura shouts at their retreating backs, and Cora cackles mercilessly while Scott goes don't say that don't say that ew ew ew.

“What's the hurry?” Stiles asks in a breathy laugh as they burst in through the back door. When it slams closed behind them, they're moving again. Quicker, now, quick enough that Stiles is having a bit of a hard time keeping up, his feet dragging and stuttering along on the ground where Derek is pulling him. “You're acting like you're going to die if we don't-”

“That's about the size of it,” Derek says gruffly back, cutting him off while they're climbing up the steps. “When did we get so many fucking stairs?”

“They didn't tell you about the stair expansion?” Stiles asks cheekily, raising his eyebrows. “Oh, man – I can't believe that. They've been adding stairs for the past couple months. One stair a day, and we were all like,” they reach the second floor, “...nobody tell Derek. It'll be hilarious, like a prank on The Office. We've added like sixty stairs and you're just now noticing; honestly, the house has ten new floors and you-”

“Do you have to make a god damn smart ass comment about everything?”

“Only when you say something stupid,” Stiles counters, and they're finally in the hallway leading down to Derek's bedroom door, all the way at the end. “So, in your case, yeah. Everything.”

“I can think of something else you can use that mouth for.”

“Oh...my god?” Stiles groans as Derek pulls his door open with a smirk. “I cannot – I cannot believe...you just sounded like a sixty year old pervy dude commenting on a teenage girl's makeup tutorial on youtube.”

“I'm not good at dirty talk,” Derek says back easily, shoving Stiles inside the room and pawing at the spark's flannel over shirt. “Clothes off, come on.”

Stiles assists in pulling off his undershirt and it flutters down to the ground on top of his flannel; he moves his fingers down to his belt, the button on his jeans, undoing them both before Derek hooks his fingers underneath the waistband of Stiles' boxers and tugs them down with his pants.

With one finger, Derek pushes Stiles back so he lands on the bed, and rips them over his shoes before tossing them off somewhere over his shoulder. Stiles, uninterested in having a repeat of the last time they hooked up, leans down and begins to untie his sneakers.

Derek seems amused by this, watching with a smile on his face.

“What?” Stiles asks.

The alpha shrugs, raking his eyes up and down Stiles' body – and it really is familiar to the night before. How Stiles is completely naked and Derek is still fully clothed; he drops his sneakers down onto the ground, pulls his ankle socks off, and looks up at Derek. “Are you going to get undressed?”

Derek meets his eyes and shakes his head no.

“You're going to come in your pants. I don't know if you realize, but the whole connecting bit is pretty-”

“I don't mind,” he says.

“Is this like your thing? You like to come in your underwear? Encased in an uncomfortably tight pair of jeans?” Stiles wrinkles his nose up and leans back on the palms of his hands on the bed. “One man's what the fuck is another man's fetish, I guess.”

Derek rolls his eyes to the ceiling, before putting one knee on the bed, right next to where Stiles' bare thigh is. “It's not a fetish.”

“Oh, yeah?” Derek takes Stiles' face in one hand, resting the palm against his cheek. “Then what is it?”

For a couple beats of silence, Derek just strokes his index finger along Stiles' temple, staring at him like he's trying to commit this entire moment to memory. Stiles shifts underneath him; the situation they're in has already started the blood flow down to his dick, and he feels like it's not fair that he can't see what's going on inside Derek's pants. He's about to say as much, but then Derek derails his train of thought by pulling his hand off of Stiles' face, raising it to his lips, and licking his fingers.

“Fucking hell,” Stiles breathes out, watching with comically huge eyes. It's – it's fucking hot is what it is. It's fucking hot that Derek loves the way Stiles' skin smells and tastes so much that he's happy to stand there licking it off his fingertips. Jesus Christ. Fuck.

“I feel like I'm in control of the situation,” he begins in a low voice, not bothering to wipe the spit off his fingers before he's trailing them up Stiles' bare thigh – the spark shivers in response. “If you're naked, and I'm not. Does it make you uncomfortable?”

It's a bit hard to think too critically on that while Derek's fingers keep playing catch me if you can with Stiles' dick, running up and along his thigh this close to his crotch again and again. It doesn't make him uncomfortable to be naked, at all, and Derek having clothes on doesn't make him feel weird or anything. It's just – what's in Derek's pants? He has no idea. There could be a fucking unicorn in there for all he's seen. “No,” he answers honestly, breathing out a huff as the fingers dance on his inner thigh. He spreads his legs wider, trying to offer it to Derek, but the alpha doesn't respond more than a smirk. “But – it's annoying!”

“Hm.”

“As usual, you're on an alpha wolf power trip.”

“I like to be in control of what's mine,” he pulls his fingers away to wrap around Stiles' knee, pulling it over so it touches his other. Stiles opens his mouth to protest, but Derek cuts him off with a raised eyebrow. “You can open your legs when I tell you to.”

Stiles flattens his lips into a tight line and narrows his eyes at the werewolf, but he makes absolutely no moves to disobey. He knows better – Derek is just vengeful enough to remove the prospect of sex altogether just to get Stiles to do as he says. “You know this is the only place where you get to boss me around!”

Derek laughs at that; his whole body shaking with it. “Believe me,” he runs his hand up and down Stiles' bare chest, “I know that. You just like to be contrary for the sake of being contrary.”

Stiles raises his chin and smirks. “Are you going to fuck me, or just play with your food some more?”

One second it's the pads of Derek's fingers running along his chest, skimming his nipples and squeezing at his neck gently, and the next it's his claws. Raking lightly, barely at all, along the surface of his skin. Stiles shivers. “You know, I'm not much for playing games,” he watches his own claws as they start to dig just slightly deeper – deep enough that it's noticeable, that it's pressure, but not deep enough to cause pain, “but I like playing with you, spark.”

The claws are probably leaving trails of white lines along his chest, now. All Stiles can do is sit there and let Derek mark him, panting out shaky breaths as tingling sensations run up his back from how good it feels. “Who's not good at dirty talk?”

Derek laughs, once, before he leans down and kisses Stiles, gently. Just a subtle brushing of their lips, just Derek's claws resting on his neck. Then Derek runs his tongue along Stiles' bottom lip, along his teeth, until it meets Stiles' and the claws press into more or less the same spot they were the night before.

He pulls away and moves his mouth down Stiles' jaw to his throat to his collarbones, distracting him, most likely, as the claws dig deeper, and deeper...

At the first noise of discomfort Stiles makes, Derek is licking at his ear, murmuring, “it's okay, shh, shh, you're okay,” in a mantra, and Stiles knows they're going deeper than Derek allowed himself to go last time. “I've got you, tell me to stop and I will, it's all right,” but Stiles has zero plans of telling Derek to stop. This is how it works; like he's said, he's read that book cover to cover and looked at all the pictures.

He's getting his mark from his mate. Alpha claws dug into his neck – almost deep enough to change him, but just missing the mark to instead scar him near-permanently.

And Stiles gets to mark Derek right back. More on that later, he thinks.

“A little more,” Derek whispers, and Stiles squeezes his eyes shut, panting against the pain – he can feel it when they're in the right place. He can feel when they've gone deep enough, because something pulses inside of his blood; recognition. His blood is learning to recognize its mate.

Derek kisses Stiles' cheek, his forehead, his lips, his nose; he licks up the wetness pooling out of Stiles' eyes, more from reflex than from him actually crying. Just a bodily response.

Finally, Derek pulls the claws out and Stiles lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding, opening his eyes and sighing.

“I'm so happy you only have to do that once,” he says with a huff. “Ouch.”

“Sorry,” Derek says gently, watching as Stiles' magic scars over the holes in his neck, probably turning them pink. “I want you to make a decision.”

“Okay,” Stiles agrees amiably, poking at the scars on his neck with his index finger.

Derek leans forward, licks a stripe up the side of Stiles' face, and says directly into his ear, “want me to suck you off before or after the connection?”

Stiles' dick jerks back to life instantaneously – just hearing Derek's voice say suck you off is all it takes to get him back in the fucking game after the marking. He thinks for a second on the choice Derek is offering him, and he can't decide. If he does it before, then (assuming Derek is going to make him come, which he fucking better) he'll be coming twice in such a short period of time. If he does it after, then it'll probably take longer for him to get back up after the connection which opens the door to a lot of sexy in-between stuff; like getting Derek to take his clothes off so Stiles can take a look down there.

Because he's interested. Very interested in Derek's dick. He wants it in his hands and mouth and up inside him. Like...really.

“When do you take your clothes off?” He asks while Derek swirls his tongue around his neck. The wolf laughs.

“Whenever I want to. Are you making up your mind?”

Stiles sighs, deeply. “Fine. Before.”

Something tells him that that's going to be the last time Derek gives Stiles the control tonight. Everything else from here on out is The Derek Show : including episodes like Am I Going To Let Stiles Come? and the fan favorite Do As I Say.

Maybe he likes it, a little bit. Being told what to do. Only when his dick is involved, though.

“No cotton candy today?” Derek laughs as he pulls away from Stiles' neck to look down at his entire body – his eyes rake from Stiles' hard-on up to his eyes, and he looks like he's appreciating the sight quite a bit.

“It's been kinda calm all day,” Stiles confesses, “probably because of you.”

Derek looks like he likes the sound of that quite a bit; he takes Stiles' jaw in his hand and kisses him full on the lips. When he pulls back, and looks Stiles in the eyes, his pupils are blown wide, and dark. “Are you going to do as I say?”

Stiles rolls his eyes so hard he thinks they should roll off onto the ground underneath Derek's desk somewhere. “Maybe.”

And then Derek gets this look in his eyes as he smiles. Something knowing, or something dark and dirty and fucking carnal – and even though he doesn't say a fucking word, the message is loud and clear just in the way he looks at Stiles in that god damn moment. It says, you'll be fucking begging for it when I'm through with you.

Stiles swallows and averts eye contact. Jesus fucking Christ. He always fantasized that Derek would be commanding in bed but this is – this is just! Too much for his dick to handle! When he's almost coming from a look? Jesus Christ.

Without saying a single word, Derek picks Stiles up by his underarms and deposits him further up the bed, towards where the pillows are, and then climbs up after him on his knees. On reflex to having a person literally crawling towards him while he's naked, he leans back into the pillow and spreads his legs; because, um, he was promised a blowjob last time he checked?

The second he does it, Derek is smirking. “Legs closed.”

What?” Stiles whines, not moving for a second. “I thought this was-”

“Thigh to thigh.”

“Oh my God...” he closes his legs and crosses his arms over his chest. “Who's ever heard of a closed-leg blowjob before? I'm so annoyed.”

“Do you have to make fucking smartass comments?”

“Yes!”

Derek sighs, rolls his eyes to the sky, and then knees his way in between Stiles' long legs, keeping his eyes on Stiles' face the entire time. “Keep them closed, or I'll stop.”

“Heard that threat before,” Stiles mutters.

Derek huffs again – probably realizing that there are just some things he cannot actually control about Stiles no matter the situation – before dropping down with his hands on either side of Stiles' head in the pillows. Stiles blinks up at him, twisting his neck a little, unsure of what exactly Derek is about to do, here.

The question is answered when Derek just drops his face into the crook of Stiles' neck, the one without the fresh scars, and inhales. And that's all he does. Face in neck, inhaling Stiles' scent. This must go on for a full minute, with Stiles staring at the ceiling and shivering from the tickle of Derek's breath and the scrape of his stubble against his skin; he thinks he'll have stubble burn when all this is over.

His tongue finally pokes out, gently licking up and down the spark's throat, and then he's moving. Scraping his tongue along collarbones and across shoulders before getting somewhere interesting – the nipples.

He swirls around one and Stiles' breath catches. A second swirl, followed up by some pretty fucking incredible flicks, and Stiles can't help it. It's fucking automatic – he tries to open his legs again.

Because Derek's knees are boxing him in, he only gets so far. But also because Derek's knees are boxing him in, Derek can feel it beyond any shadow of a doubt.

He sits up straight, grinning, and says, “I told you I'd stop.”

Stiles groans, tries sitting up to follow Derek's mouth, but Derek presses him down into the mattress with just two fingers and holds him there.

“Okay – fuck. I won't do it again.”

“Hm.” Derek doesn't look impressed.

“Oh my God...fucking – I...please.”

“Please?”

Please, Derek.”

Derek grins at him again, all white teeth and bright green eyes, and leans back down with an appreciative nod in Stiles' direction. The tongue returns to the other nipple, now, and Stiles has to really, really work at keeping his thighs together as his dick starts to feel like it's going to fall off if it doesn't get some fucking attention soon.

This goes on. He has no idea how long Derek sits there stimulating his nipples and stroking soft fingers along Stiles' thighs and occasionally coming up to lick into Stiles' mouth. The entire time, Stiles lays there thinking that one more flick and I'm going to come or one more kiss and I'm going to leap up and jerk myself off into a sock – moaning, and writhing.

Finally, finally, Derek sits up, and pulls his knees back just enough and sliding down the bed, before saying, “okay, Stiles, you can-”

Stiles' legs literally fly to opposite ends of the bed before Derek even finishes the sentence, his forlorn and neglected dick bouncing into the open air, standing straight up and ready. Hell yeah fucking right.

There's no teasing this time around. The second Stiles' dick is there for the taking, Derek is on it. He laps at it like a popsicle, long swipes and flicks and gently sucking at the tip – tasting him, Stiles knows. This isn't a real blowjob; it's Derek enjoying the sugar all over Stiles' skin, the way Stiles tastes like a walking talking candyshop, there for the taking – and Derek's taking it.

“I'm going to – fucking...” Stiles grabs onto Derek's hair and squirms, grunting out a squeak, “suck me, please. Holy fuck. Fuck.”

Derek does the opposite.

He flips Stiles over. So his dick is pressing into the mattress, covered in spit and aching with the need to fucking come, and Stiles nearly starts to cry. This man is the devil. He sees that now. This is a man that relishes in the slow-death of orgasm denial for Stiles. Is it going to be like this every time?

When Derek grabs his hips and pulls until the spark is on his knees and spreads Stiles' cheeks with his fingers, flicking his tongue at Stiles' rim, he takes back every negative thought he just had. He jerks forwards in surprise with a yell, and then Derek just holds onto his hips tighter to keep him in place.

Stiles is pretty happy that he prepared for just such a scenario before he came over today. This could've been really, really gross otherwise.

“Oh, my God,” Stiles pants as Derek's tongue swirls around to loosen him up, “this is not – we said suck me off. We never said rimming. Oh, my God.”

“Want me to stop?” Derek pulls off just enough to ask this question, his breath warm on Stiles' skin.

“Mmmm, no. No!”

Like he doesn't need to be told twice, Derek is back at it in a second. He pushes his tongue in and Stiles nearly comes right then and there – nearly cries, honestly, because it's so fucking crazy. Who would have thought – who honestly would've ever thought...a tongue in the ass? Jesus Christ. Nobody has ever done this for him before, so he's having a bit of a moment. A religious experience, perhaps.

He's positive that Derek would love nothing more than for Stiles to get down on his knees and proclaim the alpha as his lord and savior.

All too soon, Derek is sitting up, and leaning back on his knees. Stiles whines; trying to shuffle himself back, wiggling in Derek's general direction, and Derek puts a hand on his hip. “Let's do this, now, c'mon.”

Right. Right. The connection. There are other things on this earth besides Derek's tongue – Stiles was kinda starting to forget for a while there.

Stiles flips over and smiles lazily at Derek, still feeling hazy and lightheaded from every thing Derek just fucking did to him, covered in the man's saliva with his clawmarks in his neck.

Now, it's Stiles' turn to leave something of himself behind on him.

“Do you know how this works?” Stiles asks, eyeballing Derek's chest.

Derek nods. “Mostly.”

“Come closer,” Stiles flicks two fingers towards himself, and Derek inches closer. “Cllosserrr.” Derek rolls his eyes and comes back up until his knees are touching Stiles' where they're crossed Indian style on the bed. “It doesn't hurt.”

“I wasn't worried about that.”

“You're going to come in your pants!”

“Again, not worried about it.”

“Are you worried about anything? Anything at all?”

“Not with you, here.”

Stiles grins at him, a surge of affection going through his veins. “I'm into you,” he says honestly, tilting his head to the side as he sweeps his eyes up and down Derek's angular face. “Like, in all ways, I'm just – into you.”

Stiles can't even fucking imagine Derek saying something as contemporary and slang-y as I'm into you, too, so it's not a surprise to him that instead of parroting it back, Derek just smiles and points to his chest with his index finger. “I want you.”

The spark lifts his hand and brings it right in front of Derek's chest, right over his heart, but he doesn't touch. Not yet. He just feels Derek's pulse beating through his skin, feels Derek's eyes on him, feels traces of Derek all over his skin where he touched him, and just breathes. This is it. This is his moment. The final straw, the final piece of the puzzle that Stiles has been waiting to put together his entire life.

“You've got me,” he says, and presses his hand over Derek's heart.

It's not instantaneous. It takes a second for Stiles to work the magic into his fingers, to find that part of himself that's connected with Scott and tear at it with a small whimper. It does hurt, in an emotional way, to have to do this – because Scott is. You know. Scott.

But he rips it. Somewhere, wherever Scott is, he's probably groaning and saying they're doing it, Allison – they're having sex I'm going to vomit.

He breathes out, and one of Derek's hands comes up to stroke down his cheek, like he knows that Stiles is just – hurting right now. Just a little. “Okay?” He asks, in a smooth, soft voice.

Stiles nods. Okay.

After the connection with Scott is broken and he's about to go into some short of shock from not being connected with anyone, his magic latches onto Derek like a fucking leech and just...pulls. It's the craziest feeling in the world. The most intense, jaw-dropping, wind-knocked-out feeling in the fucking universe. Derek is, for all intents and purposes, inside of him, now; some part of him is filtering in through his bloodstream and it's like he can taste it. He can fucking taste Derek on his tongue and feel him inside of his skin and – okay, Stiles comes.

Just fucking comes everywhere with a punched-out moan, basically completely unaware of his surroundings.

Derek offers a grunt and a subtle jerk of his hips, and he knows that Derek just came, as well. And then it's just...done. In between them, there's a wave crashing, a tiny thread holding them together, and nothing.

Nothing will ever be the same again. All at once, Stiles feels his magic settle across the pack, to not just Derek but to everyone Derek has a connection with, as the alpha; to Talia, to Laura, Cora, Martha, the kids, and on and on. All of them. It's the most calming, soothing feeling in the world, to have that level of control over his magic again, finally.

To not feel like he's two steps away from losing it all the time.

Stiles raises his eyebrows, and says, in a hoarse whisper, “you came in your pants.”

Derek raises his eyebrows right back. “We should take care of that, then.”

"Oh yeah? Are you finally gonna let me see what's in there?" Stiles pokes at Derek's belt with a finger, and the alpha smirks before undoing it himself. Stiles feels like this is a fucking moment - he finally gets to see what Derek's dick looks like, after years of fantasies, so he can't really help the leering grin that spreads across his face as Derek undoes the button and unzips his fly.

He moves to pull both his jeans and underwear down but Stiles stops him with a hand. "Hold on. Can I...?"

Derek looks like he's confused, and Stiles is possibly too bashful to say it out loud - so he just leans forward and does it. He pushes his face into Derek's pants and licks at some of the come in the lining; Derek inahles sharply and moves to put his hand in Stiles' hair, but Stiles leans back.

"No touching," he teases, wagging his finger in Derek's direction. The alpha drops his jaw for a second, surprised, possibly shocked, even - and then smiles.

"Fine."

Stiles bunches the fabric up in his fists and pulls down until everything is on full display for him to look at. He glances up at Derek's face, and then back to his crotch. "Wow."

"It's average, Stiles."

It is average. It's more or less just - a penis. A good length, a good thickness, a nice color. It's not bad. In Stiles' fucked up sex dreams, it was ten inches and had huge veins all over it but...this is pretty good too.

Stiles licks some of the cooling come off the tip, feels it start to harden up again just a bit, and Derek's hand instantly comes down into his hair. Stiles pulls back, shaking his finger again, and says, "no touching, I said!"

"Okay - sorry. Sorry," Derek pulls his hand away, and Stiles raises his eyebrows at him to tease him some more, waiting. "You are being-"

"I'm being you! This is my Derek impression! Say please!"

Derek purses his lips, stares down into Stiles' eyes with such annoyance Stiles thinks he's about to have the skin melted off his face, and then he says, "please."

With a laugh, Stiles takes Derek into his hand again and sucks the tip into his mouth. It's still not that hard, seeing as how he came only, like, six minutes ago, but it's getting there under Stiles' swirling tongue. It goes on pretty normally for a while, until -

Derek touches his hair again.

Stiles pulls off with a pop, and says, "you're kidding me! How I'm the one who gets treated like I'm so disobedient..."

"I'm sorry - fuck," Derek hisses, "I just -"

"You don't get to say that I'm the one who doesn't listen anymore. I know better now - I see through you."

"Fine. You're the boss, now, and I'm the mouthy underling who won't listen - just put your mouth on my dick and stop being a fucking smartass."

Stiles huffs, taps the tip of Derek with his index finger, and raises his eyebrows again. "What's the magic word?"

"Stiles." Annoyed, again.

"Not the magic person, the magic word!"

Like it's the single most taxing moment of his life, Derek grunts annoyance, and says, "please, okay?"

Stiles smirks. He knows that Derek is just going to touch his hair again - that he's going to be in for a blowjob that takes thirty minutes to complete since Derek actually physically cannot keep himself from touching Stiles - and, honestly?

Doing this for thirty minutes doesn't sound half bad, at all.

----

“I can't do this. I physically cannot. You don't understand, I'm – I'm going to throw up everywhere. Hand me that bucket.”

“You know, I'm not forcing you,” Derek reminds him around a huff, “I said you could just have the necklace and that'd be that.”

“I'm not going to pussy out,” Stiles hisses back as he paces back and forth in the waiting room – there's a beefy guy sitting on the couch made out of fake bones flipping through a magazine filled with half naked girls rocking ridiculously insane tattoos. He keeps laughing at Stiles, chuckling really, and shaking his head. Stiles wants to throw a lightning bolt at his fucking face.

Because, ever since he became a part of Derek's pack, his magic didn't just calm down – it actually fucking started not being a piece of shit for the first time in his life. He can do lightning bolts now. Just as good as Kira's fireballs and Boyd's poison vine, he can just zing a huge swirl of energy at anyone who pisses him off.

The pack at large did not have a fun time with Stiles when he was training himself to get better at it. After the third time he broke Laura's arm and she had to sit on the sidelines glaring for ten minutes while it healed, she got her revenge by shaving off one of his eyebrows while he was asleep. He walked around with one eyebrow for three fucking weeks.

And the palm reading...

He has yet to be able to predict someone's death; but he did swipe his finger down Allison's palm and see her in a white dress, sweeping down the aisle towards where Scott stood waiting for her. He hasn't seen any bombs going off in important government buildings, but he grabbed Martha's once and saw her getting accepted into Yale. He's seen Scott win two hundred dollars in the lottery, seen his father get re-elected for Sheriff in the coming term, seen Derek winning fights – and on and on and on. He's finally useful. If he had known joining the Hale pack would be the thing that made him not be a piece of shit spark, he'd have done it a lot sooner.

“Everyone else did it, so I can do it!”

“Everyone else had to use a blowtorch,” Derek pipes up from the opposite couch. “So comparatively...”

“Wow. Wow,” Stiles rolls his eyes and paces some more, “not helpful?” Stiles can control his healing - so he gets the pleasure of the non-blow torch version of the mark.

Derek sighs and scrubs a hand across his forehead. He has the clipboard with the waivers sitting on his lap, Stiles' signature sitting in the corner on the dotted line; Stiles hadn't even fucking read the thing. Just signed it. He didn't even want to know what sort of things he'd have to sign away on when it came to...a place like this.

A place with heavy metal blaring out at him while a girl with a bar shoved through her nose gets a lizard tattooed on her ass. This is not family fun. Not at all.

“We don't have to do this.”

“Say that one fucking more time, and I swear...” Stiles shakes his head and points a threatening finger in Derek's direction – and even though Stiles could very easily blow Derek away with one of his flashes of lightning, the alpha doesn't even blink. “...everyone else did it. I'm doing it. I'm not – I'm not scared!”

“Stiles Stilinski?” A bored guy with a backwards baseball hat and an entire arm inked out with black comes out and eyeballs him. “Ready?”

Stiles meeps in terror, wild eyes looking over to Derek for support. Derek stands up from the couch, puts his hand on Stiles' shoulder, and says, “yeah, he's ready.”

It's tiny. Per Stiles' request, the thing is tiny, barely any bigger than the pendant Derek made for him all that time ago. When the needle came out, Stiles nearly threw up all over the floor. When the tattoo artist buzzed it a couple of times to test it, he literally almost passed out in the stupid black chair while Derek had to say, “he's a little wary of needles,” in the background somewhere.

But he did it. He fucking did it. He sat there and let a man jab a needle into his flesh for five minutes while squeezing Derek's hand so hard he almost broke his own fingers.

It sits at the base of his neck, on the side, right underneath the scar from Derek's pinkie claw.