"That shirt's not yours," Scott says to Stiles immediately when Stiles picks him up in his old Jeep and he points to the purple Led Zeppelin shirt that Stiles is wearing.
"What?" Stiles asks, sounding mildly annoyed. "No, 'Hey it's been ages since I saw you or even communicated with you while you were away at college, because because I suck as a best friend that way'? Just a 'that's not your shirt'? Seriously, Scott, you've been a pretty shitty friend, but even this is a new low."
"Sorry, man," Scott apologises. "You know I've been busy helping Derek with the pack and all."
"Forget it," Stiles shrugs easily, making Scott feel even guiltier, because he had been a bit of a dick, and responded rarely to Stiles' frequent emails or texts whilst he was away at Berkeley for college.
"But really, Stiles," Scott says again, as they drive to Derek's new house, the one he had built on another part of his family property after the pack finally persuaded him that he should demolish the old one, which everybody agreed was more a mausoleum than a home anyway. "Whose shirt is that?"
Much to Scott's amazement, Stiles turns red, before he mumbles a reply, "It belongs to Francis."
"Just," Stiles gestures randomly. "Francis. The shirt's his. I took it out of his drawer before I left for home."
"Oh," Scott says, surprised. "You borrowed his shirt. Meaning, you, and him?" He waves his hands in a vague manner, referring to this unknown Francis. "You know..."
"Yeah," Stiles takes his eyes off the road briefly to glance at Scott. "Do you have a problem with that?"
"No, no, of course not," Scott assures him. He takes in a deep breath and exhales loudly. "Wow. You and Francis. Whatever happened to Lydia?
Stiles flaps his hand, and snorts. "It was a good fantasy, but let’s face it, it was never going to happen. Besides, seeing what she is now, and seeing how hanging out with you guys invariably has me being chased, shot at, attacked... I figure a humans-only policy might be the best way to go for the moment. No offence intended."
Scott mock-punches Stiles on the arm. "You jackass. Does your dad know?"
"No," Stiles shrugs, "I don't see the point. It's only been a few months. But anything might happen..." he drags out the sentence. "We'll see."
"Where'd you meet him?" Scott asks, intrigued.
"The library," Stiles explains, earning a disdainful noise from Scott. Because of course only Stiles would meet somebody at the library. "He's a TA. We kind of argued over a book we both wanted to borrow."
"Trust you to get into a fight over a book," Scott teases and Stiles rolls his eyes.
"That's because you're an illiterate. I won the argument by the way, thanks to my charm and masculine wiles."
"Whatever. But I've got to say, you've got really weird taste, man. I mean, who'd go after a guy named Francis?" Scott asks, appalled.
Stiles raises his eyebrows, and Scott subsides immediately after remembering Stiles' own first name.
"Derek isn't going to like this," Scott says ominously after a long while.
"What the hell does Derek have got to do with anything?" Stiles asks, defensive, and Scott shuts up immediately.
What follows after is one of the most awkward dinners Scott ever had to endure, and that’s definitely a record considering the fact that he's also including the one where his parents told him they were divorcing and the other one where Kate Argent accused him of being a thief. Scott ignores Stiles' cries of protest when he and Jackson chivvy him to sit at the opposite end of the table from Derek, whilst they themselves sit next to Derek. Danny, Allison and Lydia make up the rest of the guest list, Derek tolerating Allison's presence for Scott's sake.
The pack is quiet as they watch Derek glower at Stiles from across the table, hazel eyes focusing intently on him as he talks to Allison, hands moving animatedly.
"What'd you need a gun licence for?" Derek asks Stiles suddenly, his voice cutting across the chatter.
Stiles purses his lips and puts down his cutlery, exasperated. "Derek, I know you've got your werewolf senses going for you and all, and I'd probably have to move to the next county for you, Scott and Jackson to not accidentally eavesdrop on a conversation, but the least you could do is pretend for my humble, human sake," Stiles complains. "Or would that be beneath your werewolf dignity?"
Derek lets Stiles' rant slide past him. "Why are you applying for a gun licence?" he asks again. "Is there something going on at college that we should know about?"
"No, of course not. I just thought it'd be a useful skill to learn," Stiles replies, "What's the big deal? My dad has a gun."
"Your dad's the sheriff," Danny points out reasonably. "He needs one."
"And I can't learn?"
"You don't need to," Derek intones in all seriousness.
"Excuse me, considering how the odds of my survival into adulthood dropped precipitously ever since Scott and I met you, I pretty much think that this is a decision for me to make, not you."
"That was before," Derek argues, "You're not in any danger now."
"Being in danger is not the point. I just feel it'll be useful. Allison has a gun licence now," Stiles points out triumphantly. "I don't see you complaining."
"Let's not go there," Scott interrupts hastily, obviously trying very hard not to think why Allison would need a gun licence.
"Besides, my dad's finally agreed. I mean, not that I needed his permission but I figure he'd really kill me if I didn't tell him I was getting one. So he's said 'yes', and he's going to bring me to the range sometime soon," Stiles misses the odd look that flashes across Derek's face when he says this, and he continues, clearly on a roll, "Don't worry, Derek, we'll be using only lead bullets."
"Hey, no hunter jokes! We agreed!" Scott reprimands Stiles, shooting him a dirty look and he reaches out to grab Allison's hand. "Dude, that is not cool."
"I'm sorry. My bad," Stiles apologises to Allison and he gets up from the table. "Excuse me, I'm getting a drink."
Derek follows Stiles' retreating back intently, eyes hooded with some unidentified emotion, not noticing how the rest of the table had fallen silent during the exchange between Stiles and him earlier. After a few moments of hesitation, he puts his napkin down and follows Stiles to the kitchen, the rest of the pack watching with avid interest and bated breath, not one person daring to say a word.
"Boys. So stupid," Lydia says, breaking the silence, as she pours herself another glass of wine.
"What the fuck is going on?" Stiles asks Derek the minute they're both alone. "Is it my imagination, or you're being even ruder to me than you usually are? Considering your usual standards, that really takes some doing."
Something in Derek simmers and burns when he hears the question, because the old (younger) Stiles would never have used profanity with such ease. It's been more than a year since Derek saw Stiles last, and he doesn't miss the changes that time brought with it. Stiles carries himself differently now - the gangly, energetic gait having morphing into something more coordinated and confident; his usual hyperactivity tempered with a more relaxed stance with his increased maturity, intelligent eyes observing, taking in everything with an even more analytical glint. The Stiles from before would never have challenged him so openly without care in front of the rest of his pack. He likes it. The only problem is, Derek and his wolf notes, is that he's not the only one to have appreciated this new Stiles.
Stiles yelps in pain when Derek crowds him up against a wall, and tugs Stiles’ shirt down to reveal a bruise at the junction where Stiles’ slim, fair throat meets his shoulder; it’s fading already, all mottled and green-yellow, but Derek can see the hickey and it makes his blood boil. He can smell him, the man - and Derek knows it’s a man – who left his mark on Stiles.
"Who did this to you?" he hisses, leaning in, sniffing deeply, imprinting the foreign scent into his memory and Derek knows that if the stranger ever appears in Beacon Hill, he’d be dead by Derek’s own fangs and claws because he dared infringe on Derek’s territory. Derek closes his eyes to try regain control himself, but it’s hard, not when his fertile imagination provides him images of Stiles naked, all that fair skin on display, legs braced apart in wanton pleasure, or Stiles on his belly, submissive, pliant under somebody else’s power.
"Oh my god, is this what it's all about?" Stiles asks, struggling to get away from Derek. "Some pack thing?"
"Answer me," Derek growls. The wolf in Derek howls with triumph when he feels, and hears the younger man’s heartbeat skip just a little.
"What’s it to you?” Stiles snaps. "So somebody found me attractive," Stiles sneers, dredging up that old joke of his. "Is that so hard to believe?" Derek can hear the slightest hint of a tremor in his voice, remnants of a hurt that still haunts Stiles – It’s not like anybody wanted me back home – Derek thinks he hears Stiles say. "It’s got nothing to do with you."
"It’s got everything to do with me," Derek growls, shaking Stiles, pleased to see him shake literally in his arms, that he’s still stronger than Stiles and can take him, if he wanted to. And he wants Stiles so bad, wants to mark him, wants to taste him, and make him his. Only somebody else had gotten there first and Derek can only feel inconsolable rage and impotent fury at the lost opportunity.
"Like what?" Stiles argues. You couldn’t even stand to be near me. Derek gets flashes of memories and emotions out of nowhere - of Stiles sidling up to Derek when half-drunk, only to be pushed way; of Stiles tentatively reaching out to Derek on the anniversary of the Hale family fire and finding himself flat on the ground, knocked down by Derek shifting to wolf form in his fury, deafened by the sound of Derek roaring into his ears, telling him without words to stay away; of being left behind waiting as Derek explored his land with Scott and Jackson in their lupine forms, all-too-human Stiles forgotten. Derek nearly stumbles beneath an overwhelming sensation of loneliness and rejection.
You made it quite clear you don't need me around in your pack. Stiles states simply.
I never asked you to leave! Derek shouts, but he stumbles back from Stiles when he realises that they’ve been arguing without spoken words. He puts a hand up to his temple, and shakes his head as if to clear the air, but it doesn’t work, he can feel it at the back of his head and in his mind, this awareness of Stiles. He looks at Stiles, who’s staring right back at him and Derek knows Stiles is feeling it too.
"What the hell did you do?" Stiles asks, voice accusing as he regains his confidence. He scratches his head in confusion. His hair is longer now, wavy and lush, Derek notes, another one of the changes wrought by college, and he wonders what it would feel like to run his hands through Stiles’ hair. "What the fuck was that?"
"I don’t know," Derek replies, voice hoarse and throat parched as if he’d been walking through a desert. "I don’t know."
"Well, whatever," Stiles taps his temple with the heel of his hand as if to physically dislodge the uncomfortable sensation from his head. "But you stay away from me," Stiles orders, jabbing a finger in the air in Derek's general direction, "I'm not part of your pack any more, Derek."
The wolf in Derek whines its dismay, begging its human half to run and chase after Stiles and convince him to stay, but the human side of Derek wins out, and he remains rooted to the ground, watching Stiles excuse himself to his friends before he leaves.
Derek doesn't see Stiles again during the remainder of the his summer holiday, though he knows he's resumed hanging out with the rest of the pack. Derek meets up with Jackson and Scott again a few more times, but Stiles is conspicuously absent, the only reminder of his presence being an odd buzzing in Derek’s head that he ignores.
"Stiles is leaving tomorrow," Scott says suddenly, after their usual run during the full moon, he, Jackson and Derek all laid out on the forest floor, leaves and branches pricking their bare skin.
"Is that supposed to be relevant to me?" Derek snaps at Scott, eyes flashing red with anger, and Scott backs down hastily.
"Just saying," the Beta tells him, holding his hands up in defeat. "Geez, no need to be so touchy."
Derek assiduously avoids thinking about Stiles the next few weeks, though it's hard seeing how he keeps seeing the sheriff around town and he can still feel that connection between him and Stiles coming on and off intermittently, like a radio that keeps losing its signal. His wolf also howls its protests at him, telling him to go out there and get Stiles back from Berkeley and back onto Derek’s territory, but it’s an irritation that he squashes quite efficiently.
Then one day, Derek uncharacteristically stumbles in his own house, landing awkwardly on his butt, thankful that nobody was around to witness that rare moment of poor coordination. He glares at his floor, somehow trying to find a reason for his fall when he suddenly feels a sensation of ow, fuck, shit this hurts, ow, ow, ow coming through loud and clear and Derek knows that it’s got something to do with whatever happened between him and Stiles that day at dinner. His hand is on his mobile phone before he knows and he's calling Scott to confirm.
"Did something happen to Stiles?" Derek asks Scott.
"Did something happen to him?"
"How would I know?" Scott asks, sounding harassed and Derek can hear the sound of whining puppies in the background. "We're not exactly in the same town, in case you didn't notice. Why don't you ask him yourself? You have his number, don't you?"
"Then it's your job to find out," Derek orders Scott, who can only sigh in defeat.
Scott calls him four hours later. "Stiles sprained his ankle running down the steps of his dorm. He's just left the ER. No broken bones. Happy now?"
Derek slams the phone down on Scott.
The connection continues to waver between them, falling silent finally after some time, and Derek spends a blissful few weeks with nothing seeping through. Then, one week, it begins again, Derek waking to a feeling of inexplicable sorrow, loss and grief. It comes through easily, laced with worry for the sheriff and a strong overtone of I hope Dad is OK.
Derek waits it out, attributing it to one of Stiles' moods, but it persists through the entire week, giving him a low-grade headache throughout. He finally surrenders to the inevitable and picks up the phone. "What's wrong with this week?" he asks Scott.
"What?" Scott asks, puzzled. "Nothing. I'm fine."
"Not you, you idiot. The sheriff," Derek says impatiently. "Why would Stiles be worried about his dad this week?"
"Oh," Scott says, finally understanding. "Stiles' mother died this week. He always gets weird during this time. Back in school, sometimes his dad would even let him skip class."
"I see. Thanks."
"Wait, how did you know about this anyway? Did Stiles tell you? He never tells anyone about his mom."
"That's none of your business," Derek retorts.
"You’re the one asking for my help! Seriously, what is going on with you and Stiles?" Scott asks, aggrieved. "It was the ankle the last time, now it's his mom..."
"Shut up, Scott," Derek snaps and he pretends not to hear Scott’s annoyed protests.
Derek drives past the Stilinski household that night, parking himself on the small road outside, trying to keep himself and his car out of sight. He can see Sheriff Stilinski from his spot; and something in his heart, the part that’s familiar with the sensation of permanent loss and pain, goes out to the older man. The sheriff looks tired and haggard, much unlike his usual alert self, and he's fiddling absently with the wedding ring he's still wearing, a bottle of whiskey in front of him, untouched. Derek sits for hours watching him until late in the morning when Sheriff Stilinski finally pours himself a glass of the whiskey, downs it quickly, and then goes up to his bedroom to sleep. Derek stays till he sees the sheriff leave for work just a few hours later, a wan but determined expression on his face.
Derek thinks for a few seconds before he breaks his own rules and texts Stiles directly.
Your father is fine. Stop worrying.
It's late in the evening before Stiles finally responds.
Thanks for checking up on my dad.
No problem. How are you doing?
Stiles doesn't reply to the second text. Derek resists the temptation to throw the phone at the wall in frustration.
"Stiles has a boyfriend, doesn't he?" Derek asks Scott one day, when they meet for dinner.
Scott spews his soda out. "What the-- Where did this come from?"
"Never mind that. Stiles. Boyfriend." Derek prompts.
"Yeah, yeah, he does."
"What's he like?"
"Shit, this is awkward," Scott moans, putting his face into his hands. "Look, I don't know myself. He didn't tell me much. It's some guy named Francis. Some TA he met in the stupid library of all places. I don't know anything else."
"He's a TA?" Derek asks jealously. "So he's older than Stiles?"
"Probably," Scott says, "I don't know. I mean, TAs are postgrads usually, so yeah, he's probably older."
Derek crushes the can of beer he's holding, spraying alcohol everywhere.
"Look," Scott says, frustrated. "I don't know what kind of shit went down between you and Stiles that day--"
"Nothing," Derek exhales through his nostrils. "There's nothing."
"Then why are you so upset?"
Derek sits back in the diner seat, frustrated. He can't very well tell Scott, It's because I can tell when Stiles is having sex, and could you please tell him to stop, because it's driving me out of my fucking mind.
The first time it happens, Derek's in his living room, attempting to find a TV programme that didn't insult his IQ, when he feels a wave of pleasure cresting through him uninvited, filling him from head to toe. The feeling builds and builds, enveloping him in its warmth and finally breaking and oh.
When he comes to himself again, Derek realises that he’s shifted partially, claws having popped out to score a track of scratches on the table Allison and Scott had helped picked out for him. His wolf howls loudly, He wasn’t with you and Derek finds himself screaming back at it, Shut up, SHUT UP, only for it to roar back at him, It was your fault.
It happens again a few days later. And again. And again, indicating quite clearly to Derek that Stiles had finally found somebody to indulge his hormones with, and he was taking great advantage of the situation. Derek gives up trying to restrain himself by the third time, the only recourse being to shift completely and run till he can feel Stiles fall asleep, happy and satisfied with somebody else.
"Hello," Stiles mumbles into the phone, still groggy from sleep.
"What the hell?" Stiles hisses into his mobile, jolted awake. "Derek?"
"It’s a friend from back home. Go back to sleep," Stiles whispers to Francis. "Why are you calling?” Stiles asks, “Did something happen to my father?"
"Nothing," Derek says after an awkward silence. "He's fine."
"Then why are you calling me?"
"You know what? Forget it," Stiles can hear Derek swear under his breath and he hangs up without warning.
Stiles stares at his mobile phone, the metal still cold in his hand where he had left it on his night table before sleeping. He glares at the offending item. "Damn you, Derek."
Derek’s out in the woods beyond his house in his wolf form, exploring, reacquainting himself with the land as he does almost every day now when he senses it in the wind. He stops, sniffs the air and turns back abruptly, loping back to his house, not quite trusting his senses until he sees what he detected earlier - Stiles, who is sitting on the doorsteps of his house, an inscrutable expression on his face.
Derek pads slowly towards Stiles, half-afraid that the boy would take off upon seeing him, but no, Stiles waits patiently as Derek inches closer and closer. He continues to look at Derek as he approaches, not a trace of fear showing despite Derek being in his wolf form. Derek’s tongue lolls out, showing his approval; this was the human who had faced his uncle down after all. We chose well, his wolf tells him, This human can run alongside us, even on two legs.
Derek finally stops just a foot away from Stiles, unsure of his welcome, and waiting for further invitation.
"After that dinner, I could feel you," Stiles finally says after a long period of silence, voice an example of forced casualness. "In my head. Sometimes. A lot of times, actually. Asking me to come back."
Derek looks at Stiles, and thinks back at him. Then why didn't you come?
"Because, until that call last week, I wasn't sure you wanted me around."
Derek whines his protest.
"I could feel you getting upset at me," Stiles says, his voice growing brittle. "But that was just the Alpha talking. It wasn't you."
They’re both me.
"To you, maybe. But it's not the same." Stiles cuts him off. "I’m not a werewolf, Derek. I'm human. Then you called last week..." He takes a deep breath. "So I just need to know. Do you want me? Because if you don't," he lets out a small, embarrassed laugh, "Well I guess I'd have cut class for nothing."
Derek jumps and closes the short gap between them, and shoves his muzzle onto Stiles' shoulder, almost bowling him over.
"Is that a 'yes'?"
Derek huffs against Stiles’ temple in annoyance and he smiles for the first time that night, reaching out to grab Derek’s flank. You’re the smart one, you figure it out.
Stiles pats Derek in an absently affectionate manner, drawing an internal protest from his wolf - I’m not a dog - that he shushes immediately. Once certain that he has Derek’s undivided attention, Stiles turns his head slowly and deliberately, baring his throat to him. Derek growls at the sight of the exposed skin, one paw resting on Stiles’ sternum as he licks a path up from the notch where his collarbones meet up along the muscle to end at the corner of Stiles’ jaw. He can feel Stiles shudder under his touch, his arms coming up to hold him tightly by the ruff.
Stiles gives him one more tight squeeze before drawing back slightly and he says simply to Derek, voice carrying well in the quiet of the night. "Shift."
Derek complies immediately, his wolf not even the slightest bit upset that a human could order it around. He takes his time to transform, allowing muscles to rearrange themselves, claws and fangs to retract and fur to change to skin, and when he's done, he’s on his knees in front of Stiles, cheek to cheek and holding on to him for dear life.
"Derek," Stiles breathes and Derek moves to meet him halfway, lips sliding over Stiles’ mouth hungrily.
"Stay," he asks and Stiles nods as he moulds his body to Derek’s.
"Let’s take this upstairs," Stiles murmurs, hands moving along Derek’s back, blunt nails scratching Derek’s bare skin.
Derek is more than pleased to oblige.
"You're mine," Derek says against Stiles' lips as he tips them down on the bed, both already nude, and he lays Stiles flat out for him to explore and taste. Stiles nods in between kisses, equally desperate for Derek’s touch, legs falling open to welcome Derek’s body. "Mine. You're mine."
"Yours," Stiles agrees breathlessly, letting out a small laugh as Derek nips his way down his throat. He pauses for a moment before making up his mind and letting his fangs grow out a little.
"Fuck," Stiles hisses, when he feels Derek’s fangs piercing his skin.
"I'm sorry," Derek apologises, then laves at the blood seeping out of the puncture marks, and he can feel Stiles nodding his head, tilting his head back to give Derek even more access. Then, Stiles shoves repeatedly at Derek’s shoulders until he gets the hint, rolling over till he’s straddling Derek’s hips. Derek watches, throat dry as Stiles fingers himself expertly, hand batting Derek’s away when he tries to help.
"Stay still, damn you," Stiles swears, as he rips open the condom packet and rolls it onto Derek before he applies more lube on him.
"Stiles," Derek breathes out in a strangled voice as Stiles lowers himself on Derek slowly all the way till he’s seated snugly against him. Stiles snickers, pleased with himself, and he leans forward to kiss Derek after that, giving himself time to adjust, their tongues dueling in an incredibly filthy kiss before he slowly begins to ride Derek.
"I'm yours," Stiles says through gritted teeth, "So don’t you ever. Dare. Push me away again." He punctuates each word with a downward thrust of his hips. "Do you understand?" he demands of Derek in a savage tone, leaning forward to nip Derek on the lips and biting down hard enough to draw blood. Stiles grabs Derek's chin and licks his way into his mouth, Derek’s blood mingling on their lips.
Derek’s eyes flash red, and he growls, surging up to meet Stiles, "Yes," Derek promises him, grabbing Stiles by the biceps, claws popping out involuntarily to pierce Stiles’ skin. Stiles hisses with pleasure despite the pain and he tugs Derek by the neck, urging him on with yet another roll of his hips. "Yes."
"What about Francis?" Derek asks Stiles afterward, basking in the sensation of Stiles curled around his body, head pillowed on his shoulder.
"Wow, you sure know how to ruin the afterglow," Stiles remarks, sounding much closer to his usual insouciant self. "We can sort that out later, can't we?"
Stiles looks up at Derek. "Are you seriously asking me this right now? As in, right now?"
"Yes," Derek replies, a flinty expression his grey eyes.
Stiles sighs. "I hate it when you get stubborn. Look, you don’t need to worry about him."
"Why shouldn't I? All those times--"
"I was mad at you,” Stiles lies back down and mutters against Derek’s shoulder. "And he wasn’t looking for anything serious. So..."
Derek growls in warning and he grips Stiles possessively. Never again.
"I won’t," Stiles promises. "Besides, I kind of think whatever it is that happened," Stiles taps Derek’s forehead and Derek nips at his finger, "Feels rather permanent, if you ask me."
Derek blinks and concentrates. True enough, the he can feel the connection between them now, only when it used to flicker in and out of his consciousness, he can feel it thrumming strongly in his mind, pulsing in time with his heartbeat. "Huh. You’re right."
"So that means you’re stuck with me," Stiles says, settling back down on Derek’s shoulder, managing to sound incredibly smug. Derek can feel Stiles through their connection, radiating immense satisfaction. "Do you think you can live with that?"
"Of course," Derek replies quickly without hesitation.
"Good," Stiles yawns, "Because you and me? Are so definitely going be awesome. Like that thing you did for me and my dad, you know? This is going be great. I can totally feel it. Oh wow, look, I made a pun," Stiles rambles on between smaller yawns.
Derek manhandles Stiles till they’re both lying on their side, Stiles’ back to Derek’s chest. "Shut up and sleep, Stiles."
Stiles doesn’t say anything more, but a few seconds later, Derek cries out in pain when he gets an elbow in his ribs in reply.
You rest too, Stiles orders him. And stop thinking so loud. I'm trying to sleep here.
Smiling to himself, Derek obeys Stiles happily, unashamed to acknowledge deep down that whilst he may be the Alpha, but between them, Stiles' word would be law.