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Up to You & Down to Me

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Summer started for Stiles Stilinski the way that it always did; out of the blue. He knew that his birthday marked the end of the school year, but this year had gone so fast that he didn't notice it at first. Didn't notice that it was getting warmer, didn't notice that school was winding down, didn't notice that summer was quite literally around the corner.

He finally noticed it at the end of the school year during the award ceremony that served as the last venture for underclassmen. Seniors were preparing for graduation, which was something Stiles refused to think about because his own was only a year away and he didn't want to have a panic attack just yet, so the underclassmen had awards. And while Stiles usually skipped awards, this year there was an army of support that told him he couldn't.

Lydia Martin was the general of said army, going as far as showing up at his house the morning of and politely requesting his presence. And by politely, he meant she showed up in his bedroom and threw a glass of water on him to wake him up. His dad was impressed. Stiles wasn't.

"You're insane!" She smiled in the brilliant way that would have once taken his breath away but now just made him glare. If she noticed his valiant attempt at hostility, she ignored it in favor of going to his closet and rifling through for the right outfit. Of course that meant her tossing through about half of his stuff, but he ignored that in favor of rolling over and burying his head under his soaked pillow. That was cut short as she picked it up and smacked him with it, a little harder than probably necessary. She wasn't very good at holding in her hybrid werewolfy strength.

"That hurt." The smile she had this time was absolutely terrifying.

"Not as much as it could. Now get up, shower, and get dressed. I expect you downstairs in thirty minutes or else I'll be back up here."

He grumbled through her orders, but got up and went into the bathroom anyways. Truth be told, although he'd be hard pressed to admit it to her, he was grateful for Lydia's intrusion. He wasn't used to having more than just his best friend Scott McCall to rely on and now he had this group, the pack. They actually cared about what he did, cared about him.

Not that Scott didn't care, because he did. He was the one that would go to the award ceremony and accept Stiles' awards on his behalf. And he always won awards. He had them in a container under all of the stuff in his closet. He wasn't even particularly sure what half of them were for. Especially not the one that was vaguely phallus shaped that Scott swore was for art class. Although Stiles wasn't entirely positive he'd taken an art class the year he got that one.

Once actually at the school, Stiles was left to his own devices as everyone went to their assigned seating. He knew the people on either side of them, had sat between them in classes for as long as he could remember, but he wasn't close enough to start a conversation with either of them. Instead he drifted in and out of focus, keeping half an ear open for his name or the name of any of his friends.

His was the first out of the group to be called and he stood to accept the piece of paper that told him how awesome he was at whatever class it was for. As he made his way up to the stage, he was staggered by the noise that came from behind him. A glance showed all of them standing up. Allison Argent, Danny Jepson, Lydia, Scott and even Jackson Whittemore. They were standing and applauding louder than the rest of the class as a collective whole. Plus his dad in the audience, wearing his sheriff getup, sitting with Scott's mom and Allison's parents.

It was weird that this was his life now. And although he was proud of how many people gave a damn now, he did notice one face in particular missing in the crowd. Not that he expected his sourwolf of a boyfriend to come, but he was disappointed all the same.

While Derek Hale's name had been cleared, there was still a certain stigma with having been wanted for murder in the first place. That stigma caused Derek to stay out of the public eye was much as possible, although it didn't stop the town from making use of his at home troubleshooting company once they realized he was legit and really good at what he did.

After the awards were given out, the principal spent some time talking about the setbacks and the tragedies the town had gone through. He spent time professing his appreciation of the students for abiding by the curfews and doing everything in their power to be safe.

Stiles was certain that the rest of the pack probably had about the same looks on their faces as they tried to keep in their laughter.

Right after the awards they were allowed to leave classes early. After checking that the others agreed, they all moved in tandem to the parking lot, following one another in a row towards Derek's house. Derek wasn't expecting them but they wouldn't surprise him. If he was home, he would hear their caravan a mile away.

The house had a few lights on, letting them know that Derek was definitely home. Scott had made an offhand comment about how Derek should give Stiles a key to the house, but they laughed it off. He wasn't sure if he wanted a key or not. He wasn't sure if he wanted what a key would mean for their relationship.

When they got out of their cars and started towards the door, they saw Derek leaning against the doorframe, the smallest of small smirks on his lips as he watched his pack of high school students horse around. It must have been a sight, to see his two and a half wolves playing with the three humans. Derek was always pushing the group into what Stiles called dog piles but Derek referred to as pack bonding. They had their own lives outside of the pack but at the end of the day, they relied on each other.

“We are here to bother you for a few hours.” Lydia moved past Derek, shooting him a blinding smile as she did so. They all watched her enter the house without a second glance at their alpha, trying to hold in their laughs.

If she was a full werewolf, Stiles would be comfortable to assume she would be the beta with the blue eyes out of the group. As it was, Stiles wondered who that would end up being, if any of them.

As they all went through, Stiles stayed at the door and waited for Derek to make the first move. He didn’t disappoint.

One hand hooked behind Stiles’ head, pulling him in for a welcoming kiss that succeeded in curling his toes a bit. Not one to be outplayed, Stiles angled his hips just enough that he could slip one leg between Derek’s and used both of his hands to support his weight on his boyfriend completely.

It drove Derek wild, knowing that Stiles would trust himself to Derek’s whim even during this. Maybe especially during this.

“Hey you two, stop being indecent on the porch and come join us!” They pulled apart and Jackson‘s taunt, Stiles blushing and Derek smirking lewdly.

“Come on, we have the rest of the night for that.”

Stiles pulled Derek in for another kiss before following the older man into the living room. He’d asked his dad’s permission to stay the night after the awards and had been surprised when he said yes. All that had been left of the school year was exams, which Stiles seemed to either do really good or really bad on.

His best final exam grade was 107. His worst was somewhere near 33.

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Summer went about the same way as the school year had been. Spending time with his dad, hanging out with his friends, honing his lacrosse skills with Danny, making out with Derek, rubbing off with Derek on various surfaces of his house, researching things to do with neighboring packs and his connection with Derek.

The connection didn’t go off every time someone stubbed their toe or had a normal headache. It had been so touchy to begin with that it took some getting used to now that Stiles no longer had to prepare for the flare up whenever he stubbed his toes or jammed his fingers on a day to day basis.

It wasn’t until this weird connection with Derek that Stiles realized how often he injured himself in a day.

The connection did flare up on the occasions that bigger things happened. When the anniversary of his mom’s passing came, Stiles had been lying in bed and pretending not to be effected when the connection had gone off. At first he thought it had to be from Derek’s side, until Derek called to ask what was wrong. He told the truth, that he missed his mom.

The two of them didn’t compare stories, because losing your mom and losing your whole family were two very different things, but sometimes they talked about their families and how they were before.

Another time that the connection had gone of was when Derek had been attacked by a bear. That in itself was pretty impressive, but that Derek had held his own and was able to kill the bear, all the while barely holding onto his control with the pain warring with his shift? That was really impressive.

Besides spending his summer with the pack doing various things, Stiles also had the job at the local library. He didn’t work there alone though. There was Danny, who had gotten him the job. Two weeks of working there, Lydia and Allison had come in looking for applications.

There were barely any people there in the summer, Stiles could read all he wanted for free, he worked with his friends and he got to make his dad proud. All for a nice $8.50 an hour.

It felt like stealing. At the very least like Stiles was severely cheating the system.

It was at the library when Jackson came to visit them, only a few weeks before school started back up for their senior year. He had been away with his family on vacation for a couple of weeks. No one even knew that he was home.

“Do you think Derek would mind a meeting tonight?” He directed the question at Stiles, who was often forced to answer for Derek.

He was his boyfriend, not his secretary.

“Depends on what it’s about. Pack stuff, sure. Hair care products that promise texture and smoothness but give gunk, no.”

They might be friends now, but Stiles wasn’t about to stop picking at Jackson. Just like Jackson hadn’t stopped being vaguely dickish to Stiles… or anyone really. He had his moments though.

“No, moron. This is serious.” Lydia had been flipping through a book on her lap but looked up at that, eyebrows furrowing and leaning forward.

“How serious?” Jackson glanced around, probably using his super hearing to check if they were alone. They were, except one old man in the far back of the library who sometimes brought candy for them. He was hard of hearing, so they were safe.

“When we went through Lauderville on our way home, I scented something. I think it was another werewolf, maybe more than one.”

That got their attention. Lauderville wasn’t even thirty minutes away; it was a town smaller than Beacon Hills. Stiles hadn’t seen anything about it on his searches, but he was willing to look again.

“What does a werewolf smell like though?” Lydia rolled her eyes and went back to her book. Jackson glared, crossing his arms over his chest to try and look intimidating.

It would have worked if he hadn’t seen the way Jackson reacts whenever Lydia runs her fingers through his hair. Whether or not those two were together again/yet was left unknown at this point, but they were good for each other either way.

“Not smelling, you imbecile, scenting. It’s not an actual scent, it’s more of a…”

He failed to come up with a proper comparison so Stiles decided to show mercy.

“It’s like how Derek is uncanny with knowing emotions of people. Not a scent, more like a feeling.”

Jackson sagged in relief and nodded. Stiles felt kind of bad because he had asked Derek about that before and that was the only way that he knew how it worked.

Apparently Stiles was compulsively checking the clock because Lydia called him out on it. At his blush, which wasn’t a reaction Stiles could control despite how much he tried, her eyes lit up to positively frightening proportions.

“Are you going to Derek’s?”

Stiles groaned, dropping his head to the table and wincing. It didn’t kick up the connection though so Stiles sat back up.

“Yes, please stop looking at me like that.” Jackson shook his head, leaving the two of them at the desk by themselves.

“You never tell me the fun stuff. What’s the point of having a gay best friend if he’s no good with fashion and won’t tell about his older, more attractive boyfriend?”

After blinking a few times, Stiles laughed.

“Thanks. Glad to know where I rest on your totem pole. No, don’t apologize. The truth is, half the time we’re together we’re not doing anything. We haven’t gone further than what we did on my birthday, although we’ve uh, done that a few times since then.”

Practice makes perfect and they were slowly becoming professional frottagers. Which isn’t a word, but Stiles didn’t care. It was true none the less.

At seven o’clock, Stiles punched out and told Lydia goodnight. By that time their boss had gotten in to close up the building. She slid into her car and sped off before Stiles even got near his car.

She and Jackson must have a date planned. Stiles got into his jeep, running his fingers lovingly over the dashboard and talking to it as he got everything ready to leave. Ever since Derek surprised Stiles with his jeep back, completely restored after his accident, Stiles had treated it like precious gold.

He started his jeep and pulled out of his parking spot, heading towards West Forest. He wasn’t spending the night, although his dad had been really awesome about allowing them that little pleasure the few times Stiles had asked.

The way Stiles saw that, there was no rush for them. They had all the time they could possibly need to get to everything else. There wasn’t any pressure with them.

--------------

It wasn’t odd that Stiles and Derek would make plans and then Stiles would have to wait for Derek. He ran his troubleshooting company out of the house but sometimes, if the situation called for it and the person wasn’t worried that Derek really was a murderer and just good at hiding it, he would go out to a person’s house to work on their computers.

The few times it happened, he was only out there for a little while. This time, Stiles had been sitting on the porch for almost an hour when his phone rang. He’d tried calling Derek three times but it went straight to voicemail each time.

“Hey, where are you?” He started to stretch out on the porch, not sure if Derek calling meant he was on his way or telling him that they’d have to cancel.

“I’ll be there soon. Sorry for making you wait. Mrs. Henderson’s computer might be older than she is.”

Stiles laughed because Mrs. Henderson was easily in her 80s. He checked his watch and shrugged. It cut an hour out of their time, even though his summer curfew was one unless previously discussed with his dad.

“I’ll be here.” He pressed his back against the wood of the door as he hung up, tucking the device back in his pocket and closing his eyes. Not even five minutes later he heard the roar of an engine heading his way and he smiled.

Mrs. Henderson lived on the other side of town. Derek must have called halfway there. Only when the vehicle belonging to the engine he’d heard appeared, Stiles was stopped short halfway off the porch.

SUV. White. Two things that were not Derek’s car. Not unless Derek got a new car while fixing Mrs. Henderson’s car. Not likely.

Stiles froze, torn between wanting to hide and wanting to act like nothing was wrong. He watched the car, windows tinted to a degree that was probably illegal, knowing that the passengers were definitely watching him.

He forced a smile and made his way down the steps, hovering between the house and his jeep. He didn’t trust unknown cars anymore.

The passenger door opened and a guy stepped out, adjusting his sunglasses on his nose and smiling in a friendly manner that made Stiles’ skin crawl. It reminded him of Chris Argent’s smile.

“Can I help you?” The man looked around at the area and then back to Stiles. Or maybe the house. With those sunglasses on, it was difficult to tell.

Which, by the way, it was dark outside?

“Yes, we’re looking for the Monroe house?” Stiles felt the knot in his stomach loosen a bit and he shrugged, glancing over his shoulder at the house before looking back.

“Sorry, no Monroe here.”

The man bent down to say something to the driver. While they talked, Stiles started edging towards his jeep. He wouldn’t be able to get out through the front way, although he didn’t know how to navigate the gravel roads that the back way went through before coming out just on the edge of town.

He’d give it a sporting try if it meant getting away from the strangers. The man was leaning back out of the car and his head turned directly towards where Stiles was now standing.

“Well whose place is this?” Nope, not going there.

“It’s not the Monroe’s. There are other houses further up the road but there isn’t much down this way, sorry.”

The man waited a few moments, watching Stiles in a way that was making him feel like he’d missed something. Then he smiled again, thanked Stiles for his help, and got back into the SUV. After a few minutes the car reversed down the gravel road, disappearing around the trees.

The panic that had been washing over Stiles settled in. He could feel his head throbbing, not a full blown episode but close enough. Instead of driving off, remembering the feel of the impact from the last strangers in town, Stiles took off for the back of the house on shaking legs.

Up the back steps and across the deck that Derek, Scott and Jackson had built, Stiles stopped in front of the glass door. Slipped into the wood around the door was a little hidden compartment that had a spare key to the back door.

Derek had put it there for emergencies and Stiles was sure that this constituted as one. It was either that or drive home and have a panic attack.

Once he got the door open, hand shaking so it took a few tries, he slipped the key into his pocket and made his way to the front room, glancing out of the window every few seconds.

The connection flared up completely, causing Stiles to groan and clutch his head. He was getting better at dealing with it, although Derek could sometimes still act normal when it happened. He took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself.

He heard Derek’s car, familiar and definitely Derek’s, screeching to a halt in front of the house, spewing gravel behind his tires. He left the engine running, leaping out of the car and rushing over to Stiles’ jeep, checking the inside. After that he took a second before glancing at the house and rushing up the steps.

The entire time he was yelling Stiles’ name in a voice that caused him to pause. It sounded broken, desperate.

--------------

Whatever it was in Derek’s voice, mixed in with the desperation, it made Stiles get up and rush to the door. He made it there just as Derek did, getting pushed back as Derek busted the door open. The door had smacked his arm, causing another flare of pain in his head, but he pushed through it as Derek wrapped his arms around him, holding him painfully tight.

“Derek, shit, what happened? What’s going on?” He was being held at arm’s length after that, getting looked over by Derek. He used his eyes and hands to check for injuries, although Stiles was pretty sure his only injury was the quickly forming bruise on his bicep from the door.

However Stiles kept quiet, kept still, while Derek looked him over. They hadn’t talked about this, about what Stiles should or shouldn’t do when Derek was getting territorial or protective or whatever he was right then. Instead Stiles went with instinct and let Derek check him over.

He must have finished because Derek pulled him so that they were chest to chest, still running his hands up and down Stiles’ arms, his nose tucked into Stiles’ neck and breathing deeply.

“Derek?” The alpha pulled back, eyes glowing red and violent. Stiles hadn’t noticed earlier if they had been red or not, but they were now. It was almost terrifying except he trusted Derek and knew that even if it was directed at him, he wouldn’t hurt him.

Not on purpose at least.

“I could smell the strangers when I pulled in, but it was drowned out by the smell of your fear. Terror.” That was not really surprising. Stiles hadn’t focused on how scared he was, just acknowledged that he was definitely afraid and dealt with it from there.

“A car pulled in and I just kept remembering the accident.” Derek pulled him just a bit closer, to the point that there was no room for anything between them.

His breathing was slowing down, unconsciously matching Derek’s breathing. It was soothing to be pressed against Derek like this.

“Who were they?” That made Stiles pull back because although he’d been expecting the question, he hadn’t expected Derek to be the one to ask it.

“You mean you… I don’t know. I’ve never seen them before.” Derek’s eyes were no longer red but Stiles wasn’t sure when they had changed. Maybe the same time Stiles’ heartbeat and gone back to normal.

“Did they say anything?”

In the rush of things, Stiles had mostly forgotten the short conversation he’d had with the one guy. He remembered them pulling in, remembered the fear as he waited for the guy to step out, he remembered him asking about a name, but Stiles couldn’t remember it. Maybe it started with an N. No, that wasn’t it, it was… oh!

“Monroe. He asked if this was the Monroe house. I told them no.” Derek looked behind him, through the still open door and at his still running car.

“There is a Monroe family just up the street.”

There was hysterical laugh that started to bubble up in Stiles’ chest, one that he tried to hold in, but ultimately failed. It shook him and every time he looked at Derek, saw his face go from shock to amusement, the laughter redoubled.

“So I was scared shitless for nothing.” It wasn’t a question. Derek nodded, cupping his hand behind Stiles’ neck and pulling him forward, cutting off the laugh with his lips.

The laugh was replaced with a moan and they had to pull apart so that Derek could run and turn off his car, shut the door and pull it as closed as he could get it because the lock was broken. They barely made it to the couch after that, their hands struggling to pull off shirts as fast as they could.

Guess it was time to do a little life affirming anyways.

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After a few hours together, Stiles had to reluctantly say it was time for him to go home. He still had an hour before he'd be late, but after the high adrenaline evening, he wouldn't mind turning in early. He also wouldn't mind staying awake with Derek, sure they could find ways to keep themselves entertained, but he knew that his dad would want him home. He hadn't broken curfew yet, he didn't want to start now.

Derek offered to follow Stiles. Maybe offered is the wrong word; stated felt right though. He stated that he was going to follow Stiles home, if just to make sure that he didn't have a panic attack on the drive. Truth be told, he felt really safe with his werewolf boyfriend driving behind him.

Outside of his house, Derek pressed Stiles against the side of the car instead of letting him go inside straight away. Trapped between the heat of the car and the heat of Derek's body, Stiles' hormones were starting to take notice. They were spending that time kissing, slow and languid in a way that was stealing Stiles' breath. He couldn't breathe, couldn't bear the thought to pull away, so he pushed through it. Whether Derek noticed or just needed to breathe himself, he pulled away and pressed a few lingering kisses against Stiles' gasping mouth.

He'd definitely gotten the hang of this kissing business.

Derek moved to nose his way along the side of Stiles' neck, his stubble lightly scratching his neck as he did so. He would place a kiss or a nip randomly against the skin there until he let his lips wrap around Stiles' ear lobe, releasing it only to lick up the shell of his ear.

"Leave your window unlocked."

Stiles groaned, rocking forward so that his jeans covered erection brushed over Derek's. He'd like nothing more than to pull Derek into the house and up to his bedroom, by any limb or article of clothing or body part in general that he could get a hold of, but he knew that it would be better to wait. Instead he licked his lips, kissing Derek's neck once, twice before pulling fully away.

"See you soon."

He stumbled up the pathway to the door, tossing a look over his shoulder every few feet to see Derek staring at him. It wasn't until he was in the house that he heard the car door shut and Derek drive away. He took a deep breath before turning around, yelling and falling against his front door in surprise at seeing his dad sitting on the couch in uniform, finishing off what looked like a very unhealthy meal.

"Don't you know how to turn on a light or something? What are you, a ghoul?" Stiles flicked the living room light on and moved into the kitchen, patting his stomach idly. Derek would have known that his dad was in the house, would be waiting until he went back to work before sneaking into his still underage son's bedroom.

"There are leftovers in the fridge or there's a takeout bag in the microwave." Spinning around to shoot his dad a smile, Stiles slid over to where the microwave was and opened it. Score, a hamburger, a hotdog and a large fry. He popped them into the fridge sans bag and wrappers, punching in a few numbers and turning back to look at his dad.

His dad who was looking right back at him.

"You do know that I wasn't late for my curfew, right? You're starting to scare me with the staring." His dad rolled his eyes, depositing his trash into the can next to the fridge. Stiles tried not to jump when the timer went off, pulling his own food out and then moving to the cabinets to grab a glass.

"You might want to look discretion up in the dictionary son. I'll give you a hint. What you were doing in the driveway with your very older boyfriend? That isn't the definition."

Stiles winced because of course his dad saw him making out with his boyfriend. That was just the way his life was. It was that kind of cliché.

"We're usually a lot better at discretion. We're very discrete. Completely. Just caught up in the moment." Which might not have been the best thing to say, but it was true. His dad seemed to take a moment before replying to that.

"We don't need to have an increasingly awkward conversation about protection, but I'm going to say this once so I'd appreciate it if you at least pretended to listen. I don’t know anything about this boy… this man or his proclivities, but I guess it’s safe to assume that he’s experienced. Don’t let him pressure you into anything and if you decide you are comfortable with something, use protection.”

Stiles put his glass down, casting a regretful look at his food. His appetite was almost completely gone. Nothing could do that faster than sex talk with his dad.

“Definitely not doing anything with pressure dad. Either of us. Still a virgin.”

Except that Stiles had also been thinking about the next step, the next stage in their sexual relationship. He wasn’t sure what that meant, except he really hoped it involved him putting his hand down Derek’s pants. He might or might not have thought about that a lot lately, giving Derek a hand job. He also might or might not have done some research on techniques.

It was also possible that he might or might not have watched a few videos. Purely for research purposes. Obviously.

“I trust you son. And it’s not that I don’t trust Derek, so don’t give me that look. He might look like a wanted felon, but I trust your judgment and my interactions with him have mostly been positive now that I’m not trying to arrest him. But you’re my son and I want what is best for you.”

Giving up on feeling embarrassed for the time being, Stiles made his way over to his dad and hugged him tight.

“You’re pretty good at this dad stuff.” His dad sighed before returning the hug.

“Your mom would have been better at this part, but I’m glad I’m not doing so well.”

They didn’t talk about his mom, it was just one thing they didn’t do very often. The stories were all happy until the end, and then it just hurt. Stiles knew that her presence was always with them, not that he believed in ghosts. He just knew that she hung between them, covering every surfaced of their house in a way that Stiles never wanted to get rid of.

It might hurt most of the time, but she was his mom and he missed her. And while they never talked about it, he knew his dad missed her too.

His dad left not long after that, telling Stiles not to stay up too late and that he’d be back in the morning. After the door shut, Stiles hurried up and ate. He moved quickly upstairs, grabbing his stuff and taking a shower, brushing his teeth while washing his hair. He knew that Derek would wait for him if he got there before he finished.

When he got out, dried off and dressed, he stepped into his bedroom and was surprised that Derek wasn’t there yet. He checked to make sure that his window was unlocked, although he’d stopped locking it at this point. Instead of calling and seeming like the pushy partner, Stiles flopped onto his bed and grabbed one of his books, flipping open to the front.

He read the first page twice before he shook himself out of his distraction. Half waiting for Derek and half reading wouldn’t make time go any faster. Instead be forced himself to pay attention to the book, getting into the storyline and flipping through the pages quickly.

When he finished the book, closing it and looking at the clock, he was shocked to see that it was almost six in the morning. He forced himself to stay awake, calling Derek and getting his voicemail after a dozen rings each time. After another hour and a half, he finally fell asleep.

----------------

Stiles got maybe four hours of sleep before he was woken up by his phone ringing loudly in his ear. He rolled over and thumbed the accept button, holding it to his ear and grunting into the receiver.

“Stiles? Dude, do you know where Derek is? He’s late for training.” Stiles rolled over and checked the clock once more to make sure he’d seen it right the first time.

“It’s like ten thirty in the morning, why are you training?” He heard Scott groan in frustration.

“We were supposed to meet at nine. I work this afternoon and Allison and I have a date tonight. He knew this so he said that we could meet this morning instead of our usual time. He’s late so I figured he must be with you.”

Opening his mouth to cut him off, Stiles was forced to swallow his words. He last saw Derek at around midnight since the older man hadn’t visited him like he said he would.

“He’s not with me. I haven’t seen him since last night.” Ten hours. Over ten hours since he’d last seen Derek. That usually wasn’t a big deal, but it was a big deal for Derek to miss a training session with the pack.

He took his alpha responsibilities very seriously. He trained Jackson and Scott together for the most part, spending about half of the same amount of time with Lydia who was still trying to figure out her boundaries.

“This is just great. He knows that I have plans tonight so if he thinks that I’m going to cancel, he can forget it. I’ve already canceled twice because of pack things. I knew I should have… whatever man. You see him, tell him we’ll have to reschedule.”

Before Stiles could reply, either to say he wasn’t Derek’s secretary or to yell at him that there was something wrong, Scott hung up. At this point, Stiles was completely awake and working himself up into a sheer panic.

He did the only thing he could think of. He got up and moved to his dresser, bunching the top of his shirt into his mouth. He took a deep breath through his nose before slipping his fingers into a drawer and slamming it shut on them.

The connection flared up, causing Stiles to double over a bit. His head was pounding and so were his fingers, but nothing. No phone call, no text. Usually Derek was quick to get in touch with Stiles when the connection came through.

If he didn’t, it had to be because he couldn’t.

Stiles grabbed his phone with his good hand, keeping his injured hand cradled to his chest, and moved down the stairs and into the living room. He sat on the couch, legs pulled up to his stomach to keep in the strange feeling he was having. It was like he was restless, his skin tingling with anticipation. Derek never just disappeared, not like this. Not with things like this.

Trapped in his thoughts, Stiles was caught unaware by the connection. Usually it built up slow enough that Stiles could prepare, but he barely had time to catch recognize the feeling before he was bent over on the couch, screaming into the pillow.

The pain felt like it was tearing into him physically, like his body was being torn to pieces slowly. His head was throbbing, tears pouring out of his eyes from the pain, and his body was seizing up from the muscle spasms.

He’d never felt it like this before, but even in the haze of the pain, he’d bet money that this was from Derek’s side.

He could hear his dad’s voice but he couldn’t figure out the words. He was pulling him, trying to get him to roll over and face him. His voice was frantic, screaming things that Stiles couldn’t grasp. He heard his name and the word please, but not much else.

Then there were other hands on him, holding him down and coaxing something into his arm, voices in his ear and trying to calm him. Their faces swam in his vision, but he recognized the vehicle they were loading him into. An ambulance.

He opened his mouth to tell them that this wasn’t necessary, that he knew what was wrong and it would go away, but there was this taste and then there were urgent yells coming from the EMT closest to him.

There was blood in his mouth, coming down the sides. He coughed on it; turning his head and feeling it spew out as he choked a bit. Everything was going gray and then, as the beeps and sirens and yells got louder, he lost consciousness.

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Waking up took longer than Stiles thought was entirely necessary. He couldn’t open his eyes, which scared him at first but he tried not to focus on it. He could hear voices near him and he tried to listen to what they were saying.

“…and we should know by then. I’d also like to know if you know if you’re son is sexually active or taking recreational drugs?”

The next voice was familiar. The voice was tired, worried, maybe even a little bit scared. Stiles hadn’t heard his dad’s sound like that since…

“If you knew my son, you’d know. He doesn’t need drugs or anything like that. As for being sexually active? He has a boyfriend, but they haven’t done anything. I trust that he’d tell me otherwise.”

He could hear the weight of the doctor’s suspicion on that.

“Well, we’ll run the tests anyways, just to be sure. It only takes one bad time, you know. There are a few other tests, bacteria and parasites to look for. If you’ll take a look at this list and…”

The words trailed off, which Stiles would later realize was actually him going to sleep. His dreams were chaotic, nothing he was actually able to hold on to long enough to figure out what it was. He remembered pain. Or the idea of pain since he was doped up with enough drugs that actual pain wasn’t making its way through.

When he woke up next, it was to see a nurse standing above him. He tried to gesture to her, tried to get her attention, but she was fixated on his chart. He moved his lips but no sound came out at first. The exertion caused his throat to hurt and he started to cough, the effort hurting his throat even more.

That drew the attention of the nurse. She rushed over to him, handing him a glass of water and tilting his head to drink it.

“Welcome back Stiles. You’ve given everyone here quite a scare. How are you feeling?” Stiles reached up to his throat, wondering why he couldn’t talk.

“Oh, sorry dear, your throat must be killing you. We had to put in a breathing tube. We only just took it out an hour ago. Drink some more water. I’m going to go grab your doctor.”

Stiles didn’t even try to stop her, just took a few more sips of his water and waited. He remembered what happened, remembered waking up for a few minutes, but nothing besides that. He wasn’t even sure how long he’d been in the hospital.

The doctor came in with his dad in tow. His dad bypassed his doctor and went right to his side, grasping his wrist and holding on tightly. His eyes were red, bags starting to show more than usual. He hated putting his dad through stressful situations like this.

“Good morning Stiles. Or more appropriately evening I guess. I’m Dr. Matthews. You’ve been here for a few hours now. How are you feeling?”

How was he feeling? He felt sore all over, tired in a way he wasn’t sure he’d ever experienced before, but he wasn’t in pain. There was this floaty sensation that told him that the lack of pain was probably due to some really good pain meds.

“Sore.” His voice croaked and he frowned. The doctor nodded, checking Stiles’ reaction to light and smiling a bit afterwards.

“Can you tell me what you remember about what happened?” His dad’s gripped tightened as Stiles tried to figure out how to put it into words.

“I’d been sitting on the couch and all of a sudden, everything hurt. My head, my stomach, my whole body.”

Dr. Matthews nodded, glancing down at his chart and making a few notations.

“What about your hand? Do you know how that happened?” Stiles glanced down to both of his hands but the one his dad was holding the wrist of caught his glance. It was badly bruised, although not wrapped or bandaged in any way to suggest that something was broken.

“It was an accident. I was half asleep and slammed my hand in the drawer that morning.”

Which was only half a lie, because he had just woken when he did it. However it was an accident. He did it because…

Derek.

“Derek.” The doctor looked up and raised an eyebrow, but Stiles’ dad interjected before he could ask any questions.

“We’ve called him son but he hasn’t answered or returned any of the calls.” His dad probably hadn’t meant to sound accusatory, but he did. Not that Stiles blamed him, because that sounded a little suspicious, only Stiles was pretty sure that Derek was in danger.

They stayed there for a while longer, asking questions before Dr. Matthews said he would be taking blood for a few more tests. Stiles turned his head from it, incidentally looking in his dad’s direction, and forced a smile.

“You scared the hell outta me son. You can’t imagine…”

You can’t imagine what it was like. And really, Stiles couldn’t imagine it. He couldn’t imagine what it looked like with him writhing around on the couch in pain. His dad must have thought the worse.

“I’m okay dad.” And he was, because the pain wasn’t his. It was Derek’s. Stiles was sure, 100% sure, that it wasn’t his pain. The connection had flared up because Derek was in horrendous pain.

He wasn’t sure how he could have survived whatever had caused the pain. He was saved from his thoughts as his dad stood up, nodding to the doctor as he stepped out of the room.

“There are some people here to see you Stiles.”

Before Stiles could ask who it was, his dad stepped out of the room and in walked the pack. Lydia and Allison both looked ashen, Danny and Scott looked shaken and worried, and Jackson actually looked worried.

He tried to smile but his doctor must have upped his dose of pain killers because he felt lopsided and a little like his skin wasn’t entirely attached.

“God Stiles, you look terrible.” For some reason Lydia saying that made him laugh. He tried to hold it in but the laugh wracked his body. When he stopped, his friends were watching him like he was crazy.

“Sorry. I’m okay. Pretty sure I’m high as a kite, but I’m great.” That got a laugh out of the group and they fanned themselves around him, all seeming to check him over for visible injuries. All of them noticed his hand, but none of them asked about it.

“So, what happened? Do you know?”

Stiles looked at each of them in turn and thought about it. The fact remained that he did know what happened. He knew what caused the pain, even if he didn’t know the cause of the cause. That made no sense, did it?

“No, you’re not making any sense.” Stiles blinked at his friends until he realized he’d said that out loud. He sighed before adjusting his bed, rubbing his hand over his forehead as he did so.

“This is going to sound crazy.” That got their attention.

--------------

Their faces when he finished his story, telling them everything that had happened since Derek had killed his uncle Peter, were almost comical. He might have laughed, but he’d blame either hysteria or the drugs if anyone called him on it.

It had felt good to tell someone though. He’d kept it in, just between him and Derek, but they deserved to know. If it affected him and Derek, it affected them all. That’s what it meant to be in a pack.

Scott was the first one to break the silence they’d fallen into.

“That’s what the headaches were! When you thought you had what your mom had before she died. The headaches were the connection, right?”

Everyone looked pretty astonished by that, which made Stiles remember that he hadn’t told anyone but Scott about the headaches. Yeah, they probably weren’t very happy to know he’d mildly thought he was dying for a while there.

“It triggered this morning in a way I’ve never felt before.” Lydia bent down, sitting on the bed next to him and grasping his hand in hers.

“I wish you would have told someone before now.”

Stiles returned the pressure as much as his pained fingers would let him before dropping it back to the bed.

“It doesn’t answer the question of what caused it. Derek is in immense pain, he may be in serious danger. I’ve never felt it like that before. Even my accident, which was the most pain I‘ve probably ever been in, it didn’t feel like that.”

The group passed looks around, each trying to work out what they could do. Lydia was the first one to speak.

“I’m sure, wherever he is, he’s fine. We’ll figure this out Stiles.”

And as much as Stiles wanted to believe that, he just couldn’t.

“You don’t understand what it means. That much pain just from the connection means that he had to have been in such an immense pain that…I haven’t even felt it in a while. He might not have surviv--” The word didn’t even come out before someone else was interjecting.

“No. I refuse to believe that. He’s Derek. Plus, we would have felt it. Scott and I, we would have felt it. But we aren’t going to give up. We’re going to head out right now and search the town for him.”

Everyone was staring at Jackson as if he’d grown a second head. Not that he never did the right thing, but it was surprising that he was the one to rally the troops as it were. He patted Stiles’ knee as he passed, grabbing Scott by the shoulder and propelling him towards the door.

“We’ll let you know the moment we know anything.”

The rest of the pack stayed with Stiles until the doctor came in and told them to leave, eyes wide when he saw the protectiveness in their eyes when they asked if Stiles would be getting out soon.

“We’re going to want to keep him until tomorrow regardless, but we do still have more tests to run.”

The thought of more tests made Stiles slump against the bed. Derek was out in the town somewhere, probably being strung up by hunters, and Stiles was getting poked with needles. He wished he could just tell the doctor that he knew what the problem was and he’d deal with it on his own, but he knew it didn’t work that way. Instead he sucked it up and tried not to be a jerk to the doctor when he asked questions during the procedures.

Tried being the operative word.

--------------

After more tests of different sorts and 24 hours of being in the hospital, the doctor told Stiles’ dad that they couldn’t find anything that was wrong but that they still had to get the results back from other places.

Their choices were to either keep Stiles in the hospital until they were sure or to let him go home. In the end, Stiles’ dad had sat down and they talked about it. Stiles had pushed and pushed to just go home, to wait it out, and his dad had finally given in. He couldn’t imagine what was going through his dad’s mind at the time, but if they had no inclination that it would return, why spend the money if they didn’t need to?

His dad hovered over his side when they got him to the house, not letting him do anything on his own. Normally Stiles would enjoy it, but he was too involved in what was going on somewhere in town to worry about his dad. Plus, it would be really hard to call one of the pack and find out what was going on with his dad hovering about.

“Dad, really, I’m fine. I won’t have you missing work and sleep. Please, I’ll be fine. I’m just down the stairs if something happens.”

Between guilt and general need, his dad finally gave in and went to sleep, but not until he forced Stiles to promise to yell up if he even vaguely felt ill.

Not ten minutes after his dad went to sleep, because Stiles had snuck up the stairs and listened to his snores, there was a light knock on the front door. Stiles bound over to it, tripping over his feet at the last second and almost smacking into the door. He pulled it open and pulled Jackson in by the collar of his shirt.

“Tell me what you know. Now.” No one had called or texted him to tell him what was going on yet, so any ounce of news was gold. Jackson sat on the couch, glancing up the stairs as he listened to Stiles’ dad’s snores.

“We searched every inch of the town until we got the scent. Barely had it for half an hour before it disappeared again. It was so weird, the scent was just gone. Then McCall remembered what had happened with those hunters before. How you told us they used some sort of cover up to disguise their scents.”

That was the opposite of anything Stiles wanted to hear.

“What are the odds of other hunters using that stuff too?” His chest felt tight but he pushed the thought of it away. He needed to focus on this; he could have a panic attack later.

“I asked Mr. Argent about it and he said that it wasn’t something he’d even heard of before the last hunters. Since he’s pretty up to date with hunter tactics, it has to be something just for a certain group. Guess they came to see what happened with their friends.”

Stiles remembered what Derek had said he’d done to the main hunter, the one that stabbed Stiles and later kidnapped him. The cops in town had collected the bodies when they had found them, but there hadn’t been an ID yet. All they knew was that those were the people that had gone after Stiles.

There had been a small investigation on what happened to them, but it seemed most people in town saw it as ‘alls well that ends well’ and that they got what they deserved. His dad definitely hadn’t lost any sleep over it.

“So what’s the plan?” Jackson leaned back, scrubbing his hand over his face.

“I don’t know Stiles. There’s not much we can do by ourselves. There is just Scott and I with any real training. Lydia can help us scent and hunt, but she has no combat training and these guys are probably heavily armed. Allison refuses to be left behind as well. So we have two trained wolves, one half trained half breed, and a hunter in training.”

Stiles thought that was a strange group of people but then something else stopped him. Chris Argent should be helping if these other hunters were encroaching onto their territory. That they hadn’t was actually really strange. When Stiles said as much, Jackson’s confusion and frustration at not knowing what to do went away to reveal pure anger.

His eyes kept flashing and Stiles was worried that Jackson would actually wolf out in his house. That’d probably end badly.

“We asked him for help. He said that he couldn’t offer his services.”

Feeling his own anger rising, Stiles had to struggle to keep his voice down.

“Are you kidding me? He helped the first time!” Jackson was struggling to keep something down, but it wasn’t his voice. Stiles watched as the young werewolf got his wolf under his control, his eyes no longer flashing.

“That was because a human was in danger. Because it’s Derek and not a human, they can’t interfere. Those other hunters didn’t care about hurting people but these haven’t even let people know they were in town. Mr. Argent said that because their way of life wasn’t endangered, they wouldn’t interfere.”

Stiles had heard enough. He flapped his hand at Jackson, a not so universal sign for Jackson to hand him his phone. Somehow Jackson was able to understand it and he handed Stiles his own phone because it was closer than Stiles’.

“What are you doing?” Stiles shot him a smile, probably a little scary in its ferocity.

“He won’t get involved unless his way of life is endangered? Well, I’m going to endanger it.”

He looked in his friend’s phone for the number, wondering if it was strange that the entire pack had Mr. Argent’s number. It was a little odd for friends to have one of their friend’s dad’s cell phone numbers. Maybe. Especially when the friend’s dad was a werewolf hunter and some of the friends were werewolves.

“Jackson, I already told you that--” Chris picked up, voice exasperated as if he’d had this conversation a thousand times already. Stiles interrupted him before he could get further into the spiel.

“This isn’t Jackson, it’s Stiles. And I think you’re going to want to hear what I have to say.”

He waited for a second for Chris’ response, checking the phone to make sure he hadn’t hung up. When he put the phone back to his ear, he caught the response.

“You have my attention Stiles.”

----------------

The only way that Stiles’ dad would agree to go back to work was if one of Stiles’ friends stayed with him. Because his other friends were all involved in the plan they had come up with, that left Danny. Not that either of them minded because Danny and Stiles got along just fine.

They were perched on Stiles’ bed playing cards, with Stiles losing horribly each hand as his focus slipped further and further. The rescue mission had started an hour ago and no one had called or texted them to let them know what was going on.

“How did you get Mr. Argent to agree? Last I heard, Jackson said he had said ‘sorry, no can do’. Next thing I know, he’s leading the charge?”

Stiles glanced at Danny’s discard before picking it up, glaring at his hand before discarding a card he probably needed.

“Jackson said he wouldn’t get involved because his way of life wasn’t endangered. So I endangered it.”

The conversation had been pretty interesting. And pretty one sided, if you asked Stiles.

“Here is your choice. Either you can help us find Derek or I’ll go to my dad and tell him everything. I’ve got my proof. Your move Chris.”

When he told Danny that, his mouth dropped and he started to laugh.

“That’s amazing. Only… don’t you think it would be a bad idea to tell your dad about the wolves?”

Stiles and Derek had had the conversation already once before about if and when it would be okay to tell Stiles’ dad about the werewolves. Derek trusted Stiles to use his best judgment on the situation and Stiles trusted Derek to think before getting too angry.

“We talked about it. Derek’s pretty sure that because they are all my friends and we all look out for one another, my dad will ultimately be okay with it.” He watched as Danny frowned at that.

“Maybe with them being your friends, but what about Derek?”

Yeah. His dad might not be okay with his seventeen year old son dating a twenty-four-almost-twenty-five year old werewolf that was once accused of murder. Accused by his son, of all people.

He’d thought of that too, but refused to acknowledge it until it was impossible. If everything went well, Stiles hoped to never tell his dad what Derek and the others were.

They were interrupted by Stiles’ phone ringing. With a shaking hand, although he hoped Danny missed that part, he hit the speaker button.

“Hello?” There was a noise before a door shut and all that was heard was Lydia’s voice.

“Hey you two. Listen, we caught Derek’s scent again. Not sure how he managed it, but he was able to drop his scent every now and then through whatever is masking it. We traced it out of town for about an hour. There’s a hut up there but there is absolutely no way for us to get through and keep tactical advantage.”

Stiles felt his stomach clench and Danny reached over, grabbing Stiles’ hurt hand and giving it a light squeeze.

“What about… they don’t know that you have hunters, right? So let the hunters go in first and use the element of surprise. They are expecting a brute attack by the pack, not a stealth attack from other hunters. Are there wolves in there?”

Lydia was quiet for a second before answering.

“At least one other. Scott was able to get close enough to scent it. Once he got a whiff, he came back. We’re down wind, but we don’t want to take a chance.”

Stiles nodded, turning his hand to grasp at Danny’s wrist.

“And Derek… has anyone seen or… do we know if…” He couldn’t get the words out but Lydia knew what he was saying. Her voice was soft and apologetic.

“I don’t know Stiles. We know he is in there, but if he’s alive or… we can’t tell what state we’ll find him in. We don’t think he’s dead but…” But he might be too far gone.

Stiles hadn’t felt the connection since two mornings ago. The pain had started to disappear, although that might have more to do with the pain killers than anything. Now that Stiles had weaned himself off the pain killers against doctor’s orders, he still could feel a dull ache at the back of his head, but he didn’t know if maybe that’s what it felt like for one person if the other…

He refused to think about it.

“Call us and let us know what happens?”

Lydia agreed before hanging up. Danny kept his hand on Stiles’ wrist, squeezing comfortingly every now and then.

After a while, Stiles proposed that they stop sucking at card games and go to researching. Danny pulled out his laptop and Stiles hopped into his desk chair, pulling up the internet. Danny looked at any possible werewolf stuff going on in nearby cities while Stiles did some looking on the connection.

"What if it was related to mates or something? Like a connection to your mate?" Stiles felt his throat tighten at that but he ignored it, scrolling through a page and trying to find anything of use.

"I think Derek would have mentioned if it was related to werewolf stuff. Besides, he told me that werewolf mates were a myth or whatever. Hollywood werewolves or whatever." He hadn't been sure how to take that, because he almost would have liked to... It didn't matter, because it wasn't a possibility.

"So what about you? Have you given any thought to the bite?" Danny looked up from his computer and nodded.

"Yea. I'm going to wait until after graduation." Stiles nodded but he almost laughed. What a graduation gift. Congratulations, you graduated. Here, become a werewolf for the rest of your life.

With a sigh, Stiles dropped his head on the desk and breathed. He could feel the slight throb in his head, possibly the only remains of the connection. He could hear Danny moving behind him but he focused on the dull ache at the back of his head.

What did it mean? If he focused on it, the ache grew. The pain was there, but there was something else too. It was like… it was familiar. It felt a little like… Derek.

Stiles gasped, grip tightening on the arms of his chair. The dull ache was somehow connected to Derek, not in the normal way. It was like he could feel him. The pain blossomed once he recognized it and he focused on it. He could feel what Derek felt, could feel the pain over his body. He’d been tortured, that much was obvious.

He tried to push all of his hope through to Derek, not thinking it’d work but knowing he had to try. The others were just outside, they would be there soon. Derek would be safe.

There was more pain, coming through from Derek’s side. Stiles pushed past it to try to get a read on what was going on. Then there was something on his limbs, something hauling him up. Only they weren’t his limbs, they were Derek’s. He felt like he was nestled inside of Derek, feeling what he felt. Someone was carrying him, supporting Derek’s weight.

There was a noise and Danny’s voice that had been urgently calling in Stiles’ ear, which he hadn’t heard, was panicked into the phone.

“Stiles, they got him! The hunters ran off but Derek is alive. He‘s okay.” Stiles wanted to say that he knew, but something was different. Something was wrong. Derek wasn’t okay.

His body felt sluggish and he could feel something under his skin. He knew what it was somehow, even though there was no possible way for him to know.

“They drugged him.” He opened his eyes for a moment and looked at Danny’s shocked face.

“What?” Stiles repeated it, told him to tell whoever he was on the phone with. Danny repeated it and while he listened to whatever they told him, Stiles went back to focusing on Derek.

“Derek told them that now that he wasn’t getting it constantly, it’d wear off. He’s getting stronger already.”

That Stiles knew because he could feel it thrumming under the surface, growing more steady like a heart beat. He focused on the strength, recognizing that the connection was growing fainter.

He kept a hold of it until it disappeared. Once it was gone, Stiles could feel his own body and could feel the painful throb in his head. He glanced at his pills, pushing the prescribed pain killers away and grabbed the regular aspirin, counting out three.

“He’ll be home soon, but so will your dad. After your dad checks in on you and goes back to work, I’ll take you over to see Derek for a little while. How’s that sound?”

Stiles looked up, seeing as Danny was eying him oddly. It must have looked odd; Stiles bent over half in pain and half in concentration. It must have also been strange that Stiles knew he’d been drugged.

“Sounds good. Now, what do you say we play a rousing and challenging game of Go Fish until then?”

Chapter Text

There were so many cars in Derek's driveway; not even half of them were familiar. Stiles tiptoed past them, feeling his nerves in each and every step. His dad had grilled him for an hour about drugs and sex and his medications. Stiles had lied, lied, and impressively lied to get out of it. Finally, as his dad headed back to work for the night, Danny grabbed Stiles' arm and told him they could leave.

It was amazing how quickly Stiles had gone from nervous about lying to his dad to nervous about seeing Derek again.

There seemed to be a dozen people in Derek's living room, a dozen people that didn't fit there. Most of them lined the walls, looking about as uncomfortable in the atmosphere as Stiles felt about having them there. Hunters, devoid of their weapons for the most part, littered the entry way and Stiles had to dodge through them because none of them seem inclined to move an inch. He couldn't understand why they were on edge. Sure, they were on Derek's land, but they had all the weapons.

In the middle of the group was the pack, all situated between the hunters and their alpha who was healing. It wasn't a conscious move of their part; at least Stiles didn't think so because none of them were paying much attention to their surroundings. It seemed like the moment he stepped into the room, all eyes were on him.

Including and especially Derek's, which followed every move Stiles made. He was wearing the same clothes that Stiles had seen him in two nights before, dirty and torn in places, but lacking blood for the most part. While being extra careful about letting these people see his relationship with Derek, because they would probably not approve of the age difference as well as one of them being a werewolf, Stiles slipped through the group and touched Derek's arm.

The touch soothed the last of the hurt; pushing the remains of the connection away so that Stiles, for the first time in over a day, could think clearly.

"How are you holding up?" Derek nodded, minutely pushing his arm against the pressure of Stiles' had. Not understanding, Stiles removed the hand only to have Derek place his own on Stiles' leg, unseen by the others present.

He had so many questions, so many things to say and ask and do, but he felt exposed with this many people watching them. The hunters watched critically while the pack seemed to be waiting for Stiles to breakdown. It was unfair for them to treat him like he was going to crack just because he hadn't been doing well.

He appreciated their concern though.

At least one member of the pack picked up on the fact that Derek and Stiles needed and wanted to be alone. Lydia made a noise of comprehension before making a big scene about standing up, stretching and yawning loudly.

"I'm sure we can finish this little powwow in the morning, hm? Out you go, drive safely." She herded them all towards the stairs, all but Chris Argent who somehow slipped past her and made his way over to the group.

"Glad you're coming along fine, Hale. As for you Stiles, I'd like you to walk me to my car, if you would." Chris reached forward and touched Stiles' shoulder, pulling his hand back when Derek gave a light growl.

Stiles inhaled deeply and started to stand but Derek's hand shot from his leg to his elbow, holding him just hard enough to keep him in place. Chris' eyes shot to where Derek's hand sat and narrowed, although when he looked up he was still smiling ever so politely.

"Stiles will be staying here, if it's all the same. Whatever you want to say to him, you can either say in front of me or it can wait." Stiles watched the older hunter struggle for a moment before smiling widely and turning towards his daughter.

"Remember your curfew Allison. Might even do you some good to get home early this time. As for the rest of you, I'll see you around town. Goodnight."

They all waited until everyone heard all of the doors shut, until the wolves were sure the cars were all gone. Stiles watched in awe as Lydia, Jackson and Scott seemed to relax as one now that the hunters weren't in the room with them. He was sure that he'd be able to notice Derek relaxing had he not been so tense already. Lydia grabbed Allison and Scott's arms, hauling them up bodily away from the couch.

"Okay, time for us to get a move on and let the boys chat. I don't think Derek will be able to drive so Danny will have to stay, but I'm sure he can find something of interest to do in one of the upstairs rooms, hm? Off you get, go."

She shooed Danny towards the stairs, him going with a laugh, and they bid goodnight to the members of the pack that were leaving. Derek probably could have driven Stiles home, but he was pretty sure Lydia was leaving a witness because otherwise Derek and Stiles would probably just crawl into his bed and not leave for the night. And Lydia had an extra sense about when Stiles was pushing his dad too far and probably knew that he was walking on thin ice as it was.

Once everyone was gone, Stiles turned towards Derek and watched him struggle to contain... something. It didn't seem like anger or frustration, which were the two emotions he usually struggled with, so Stiles wasn't sure what it could be until Derek leaned forward, wrapping a hand around Stiles' neck and pulling him forward. The kiss started soft but when Stiles' opened his mouth to let Derek's tongue in, it quickly became hot and wet and hard.

The emotion wasn't anger or frustration, Stiles realized with a start. It was relief. Pure and utter relief, to be alive or that Stiles was alive or... any of it. He was relieved. And so was Stiles.

After they separated, putting just a little distance between them, they fell into silence. It was neither comfortable nor uncomfortable; it just was just silence.

Stiles kept the space between them, just enough so that they weren't touching but still close enough to feel the warmth of the other person. He didn't know if Derek was still healing or if he was in pain so he made the decision to put just enough room between them so that he wasn't touching the alpha anywhere.

It was deemed unnecessary as Derek reached over once more and pulled Stiles to his side, wrapping his arms around Stiles completely and not letting up until he did the same. After that they continued in silence, simply soaking in the presence of one another. They were safe, they were in one piece, they were together.

It seemed that Derek had had enough of the silence because he leaned forward, pressing his lips against Stiles' temple and started to speak.

"I could feel you with me, there at the end. I thought it was the drugs at first, they had been making me see and hear things to begin with, but then I could actually feel you. It didn't feel the same. It had to be real. At least that's what I kept telling myself."

He felt his stomach tighten at the words. He wanted to know what Derek had gone through but he didn't want to make him relive the experiences if he could help it. Instead he tucked his head under Derek's chin, a place he was quickly becoming accustomed to. Not to sound like the girl in the relationship, but he felt safe like that, with Derek wrapped around him and keeping him warm. He hated to interrupt the moment, but he knew that if he didn't, he never would.

"It started like the normal connection but then, like you said, I could feel you. I could feel how exhausted you were, the pain and anger. That's how I knew about the drugs in your system. I could feel them slowing you down."

It had been an odd experience, not just feeling the things that Derek was but knowing what was causing them. He couldn't guess what the hunters had put him through, couldn't guess what the drug they gave him caused Derek to see or hear like he said, but he could feel it as potently as if it had been pumping through his veins. The moment he told Danny what it was, it was broken and he no longer felt the lure of the drugs, but it had been there.

Possibly sensing his train of thought, Derek pulled Stiles as close as he could get him. The older man ran his fingers over Stiles' skin in a way that felt worshipping, as if he wanted to know every inch of Stiles' body for some reason.

"I could feel your fear and worry. Then there was hope. I clung to that until they got me out."

Not able to take much more, Stiles leaned up and pulled Derek into a kiss, twisting his body so that he was almost straddling Derek's lap. It wasn't sexual, it was comforting.

"It keeps changing. It seems that something new happens every few months." Derek pulled back, moving to mouth over Stiles' pulse point. They couldn't do much with Danny just upstairs, but they could do this.

"It changes with our needs. When we need something new, it becomes it."

That seemed true enough. Going away and not coming back until it was needed, helping Derek find him when Stiles had been kidnapped, now this. It was evolving to help them. Which was actually terrifying because that meant their psychic connection had a mind of its own. Maybe it wasn't terrifying. Maybe it was just really awesome. Stiles couldn't decide.

"What if it never goes away?" He tilted his head to allow Derek more room but the older man stopped nosing his way along his neck for a moment.

"Would it be so bad to be connected to me like this?" Stiles thought about it, honestly rolled it over in his head. While he did, Derek kept still, simply breathing against his skin. If he let himself, he could be come very distracted by that little action, but he focused on the question at hand.

"I wouldn't mind. Worse people to be connected to. Just think it might be a hindrance to you. I get injured a lot."

Derek pressed one last kiss to Stiles' neck before tilting his head and pushing their lips together once more. The kiss was hard at first, more teeth and tongue than anything, until it softened. Grasping Stiles' chin in one hand, Derek maneuvered him until they could kiss without either of them having to strain for it. It was softer, but no less intense, albeit for a different reason.

It took everything in Stiles to not yell to Danny to just leave so that they could have the night alone. The effort was redoubled as Derek dropped his mouth, moving it along Stiles' jaw until he got to his ear.

"I like knowing that you're safe."

----------------

All of his tests showed that there wasn’t anything wrong with Stiles. They were left with two options at that point. They could do more tests, invasive procedures, or they could wait and see if it happened again. Of course if they waited, there was a chance it could be important and missing it could cause a lot of problems. Or they could run a hundred tests and it be nothing more than a blood clot or a massive muscle spasm or…

Or a painful psychic connection. Not that Stiles was going to mention that to either his doctor or dad. They would probably lock him up if he tried.

In the end, Stiles was able to convince his dad to agree to wait to see if it happened again. It took thirteen promises that if anything happened, anything little thing went wrong or if Stiles didn’t feel good at all, he would tell him. He had to carefully word his promises so he wouldn’t feel like he was lying about it.

His dad did however win the war on forcing him to call out of work, not that his boss didn’t already know what happened. News traveled fast in Beacon Hills. Plus Lydia, Allison and Danny had already called out for a day to visit him in the hospital. He promised his boss that he’d bring his doctor’s note, but it wasn’t necessary.

And as much as he wanted to stay home and sleep, not because he needed to but because he could, he found himself spending his days at Derek’s place. This time with his dad’s permission.

They still hadn’t talked about what happened yet. Not that Stiles didn’t want to know, because he found himself dying to ask every second he was with him. Instead he refrained by telling himself he wasn’t sure if Derek was ready or even willing to divulge that just yet. As far as Stiles knew, Derek had told Chris anything of importance regarding the hunters that got away but nothing more.

It turned out that he needn’t worry about Derek not being ready. As they moved around his kitchen to cook a meal for the whole pack, one of those ridiculously domestic things they did without questioning, Derek brought up the ordeal.

“Jackson told me you were brought to the hospital.” Pausing his chopping, Stiles glanced over at Derek to get a read on his emotions before going on. His face was blank but his shoulders were pulled back. That was the only thing that let Stiles know that Derek was suppressing something.

Instead of just confirming that he was indeed taken to the hospital, he told his side.

“I was worried when you didn’t come by that night like you said you would. I waited up until early in the morning and then went to sleep. When I woke up, Scott said you hadn’t been seen or heard from and I was doubly worried.”

He resumed his chopping, trying to keep at least half of his attention on Derek as he did, which with his luck was poorly thought out and he only barely kept from cutting off his fingers.

“I might have shut a drawer on my hand, to try to… I don’t even know what my aim was with that, to be honest. I guess I thought that if you thought I was in pain… I know it wasn’t my brightest idea, no need to glower more than usual. Sourwolf.”

His hand still smarted when he bent his fingers sometimes, but it was more a dull ache than anything else. The bruises were still pretty spectacular though.

“After that I sat on the couch and proceeded to brood. I can brood; don’t give me that look mister. Can you pass me the bowl? Thank you. Well, the connection just flared up. There wasn’t any build, it just happened. It felt worse than anything I’ve gone through and you know I’ve gone through a lot.”

Throwing the vegetables in the bowl, he stared down at the cutting board for a few moments before continuing.

“I knew it was from your side. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew that you were in pain. It was bad. Dad said he’d never seen anything like it before. At the hospital they were asking questions that I didn’t know how to answer.”

If he was sexually active, if he was taking drugs, if he had had any symptoms like this before on a smaller scale.

Yes, no, yes. He couldn’t answer it because it didn’t matter. He knew what caused it. The doctors would never find any answers unless they had Miss Cleo on their side.

“I knew I was still in pain, knew that you were still in pain, but they’d given me some pretty hefty pain killers and I couldn’t feel it. All I kept thinking about was what you must be going through, if you knew the pain I was in, if you could tell that I was on medication.”

Where you were. He didn’t say it, but it was the truest. Besides wondering what Derek was going through that caused the connection to do that, Stiles wondered where Derek was. If it was going to be too late to get to him once they figured it out.

Derek didn’t need to know that.

“I told the pack about the connection. I don’t know if you know that yet or not, but I did. I had to Derek; I couldn’t keep lying to them.”

This time he turned to face Derek, to see what reaction that would cause, but Derek’s face barely changed.

“I honestly can’t believe it took you this long.” Stiles tried to laugh, or maybe be offended because he knew how to keep a secret dammit, but he couldn’t. Instead he tossed Derek a wry smile and continued with his dinner preparations.

“Jackson and Scott went off to find you. It was pretty inspiring, seeing them team up like that. Didn’t do much, but they tried. I’m willing to give them credit for that much. After that the pain, even just through the medication, was gone. I couldn’t even feel it. Fuck, I thought you were dead.” He hadn’t heard Derek move up behind him but the man wrapped his arms around Stiles’ waist from behind, resting his forehead against Stiles’ shoulder.

He realized what was going on at that point. Derek wanted to hear his side so that he would know what was going on on his side. While Stiles thought Derek was dying or worse, Derek must have known that Stiles would have been going through hell trying to figure it out, even if he hadn’t known about him being in the hospital.

Derek went through hell and was essentially comforting Stiles. It was unbelievable.

“Jackson told me that the scent disappeared, like it did with those other hunters, so we put two and two together. Chris wasn’t going to help because you’re a werewolf and humans weren’t in trouble, but I was able to convince him.”

He would need to address that at some point, he already knew that. Chris had wanted to talk to him after it had happened but he’d been saved from that awkward conversation. He knew it was only a matter of time.

“Out of the hospital, the others went to do what they could and Danny stayed with me. They weren’t able to tell if you were alive or… I honestly thought you were dead. Lydia and Danny both tried to convince me that you were okay but I just couldn’t see how. What with the amount of pain I’d felt, the fact that the connection wasn’t there anymore? I didn’t see how you could be.”

Derek’s arms tightened around Stiles’ waist, fingers rubbing tiny circles through his shirt in calming motions. Calming and distracting, but Stiles forced himself to stay with the topic.

“Danny did his best to keep me occupied but I suck at card games and I think he realized that so we started doing research. I have some papers printed off at home about what might be attacks in surrounding cities by the way. I did some research on the connection but didn’t find much. Might want to add the new aspect, see if that comes up anywhere.”

He didn’t mention Danny’s suggestion that it might be related to werewolf mates, because that was already off the table as far as Stiles was concerned. Derek had said it was a myth.

After the research, he and Danny had chatted about Danny’s choice to get the bite. Then…

“What happened next Stiles?” He leaned back into Derek’s arms, taking a deep breath.

“That’s when it changed. The connection came back and I could feel you. God Derek, it was like I was there and the thought that you… It was so odd, being in my bedroom but feeling like I was there too. Not just with you, but there in you or something. I could feel the drugs in our… your system. I could feel you get stronger once they got you out and then the connection faded.”

Story told, Stiles stayed in Derek’s arms and didn’t move, even though the pasta was ready to go in the oven and they probably didn’t have long before the rest of the pack got there for dinner.

With one last squeeze, Derek moved to rotate Stiles and pulled them so that their chests were pressed together, mouths not even an inch apart. He waited, breathing heavily to see what would happen next.

“Ask your dad about staying the night.” Stiles blinked up, trying to focus on the words.

“Tonight?” Derek nodded, reaching up and tracing his fingers over Stiles’ neck before hooking it behind his neck and pulling him close, their mouths moving together in a way that Stiles would never get tired of.

For someone who had never really kissed before, he was definitely getting the hang of it.

He didn’t know if Derek wanted him to stay the night so they could finish their conversation, so that Derek could tell his side, or for this. He was getting mixed signals. Either way, Stiles didn’t mind. And he was definitely going to ask to stay the night.

He was tempted to ask to stay the week, because he couldn’t get enough of being there with Derek, pressed against him next to the stove. He wasn't really going to, but the promise of the rest of the night over his head? Made it very tempting. He was getting strangely comfortable in a place he hadn’t even realized he was allowed before.

---------------

They hadn't talked the rest of the night about what happened. The rest of the pack kept them busy, chatting about any parties at the end of the summer and what they were all looking forward to in their senior year. That was a conversation that Stiles stayed out of, magically having to go into the kitchen to get something for the duration. If anyone noticed, they didn't say anything.

He didn't want to think about starting his senior year because that meant being that much closer to graduation. Graduation meant college. College meant going away. Stiles wasn't sure how it was going to work. He always knew he wouldn't be going too far, between money and his dad, he knew that his college education would be from California. And he was okay with that, even felt grateful for it, because he liked California. He'd like to visit other states, sure, but he'd like to stay where he was. But things were different now because of the pack. Would they all have to stay together or could they still be a pack in other cities, other states?

Stiles wasn't ready to think about it. He wasn’t ready to start applying to colleges either but he knew it was getting to that point.

After the pack left, with a few knowing looks from Lydia and Danny that Stiles chose to ignore, he and Derek cleaned up the mess the group had made. Halfway through putting the dishes in the dishwasher, Derek’s hands came around his waist and pulled Stiles backwards. The position made it quite clear that Derek was no longer thinking about cleaning.

The position also made it so that Stiles was no longer thinking about cleaning.

They made their way to the stairs but made it no further than the first four before Stiles was pushing Derek against the wall, holding him there with his hips and arms and mouth. It wasn’t often that he took control like this, but after everything that had been going on, he didn’t feel up to being controlled just yet.

If Derek was good, he’d let him have control back later.

They were panting heavy into each other’s mouths when they had to separate, with Stiles nosing his way across Derek’s jaw to suck a bruise against his throat. Usually they had a no marking rule, Stiles didn’t like flaunting their relationship even if he really enjoyed it, but he would make an exception for tonight.

“I have plans that require a bed.” Stiles pulled back just enough to look in Derek’s eyes, shocked to see the red flash through briefly. He definitely wasn’t angry so he must have been losing control in a different way.

“Fuck yeah, okay, let’s go.” Grabbing Derek’s hand, Stiles started up the stairs and swore every time he tripped. Somehow Derek kept them both upright until they got up the stairs and into the bedroom, tipping them over onto the bed.

Stiles pulled Derek closer, moved so that he was between Derek’s legs, his back pressed against the pillows.

“This is it right? Next step in our sexual relationship? Potentially involving skin on skin? Not that I have any problems with what we’ve been doing because that’s great, I just-- holy shit!”

Derek had reached down, rubbing the palm of his hand roughly against Stiles straining erection. After his exclamation, Stiles was having trouble getting air out, much less words. There was silence besides their gasping breaths.

Somehow Derek was keeping his composure. He bent down to lick a stripe over Stiles’ neck before moving to his ear.

“Same rule as every other time. If I do something you don’t want or aren’t ready for, I need you to tell me.”

Stiles nodded, scrambling to get a little friction between them. Derek was straddling him and his weight was keeping him pressed down and unable to get any sort of friction at all.

“Say the words Stiles.” The voice in his ear, deep and rough, sent a thrill down Stiles’ spine. He’d been waiting for it, for that voice. He cocked his head to the side, licking his lips as he fought to meet Derek’s eyes.

“I will. Now do something before I’m forced to start without you.” Derek chuckled, bending down and pressing his lips forcefully against Stiles’.

Their tongues fought for a while before Stiles gave in, letting Derek dominate the kiss. It was hard, a little wet since neither of them would pull back for long, and it was causing an ache in Stiles’ jaw, but he refused to stop it. This is where he felt the best, back pressed against a mattress and Derek on top of him. It wasn’t sexual, even when it was. He just liked the weight of Derek against him in any way.

Just as Stiles was about to ask what Derek’s idea was, the hand that had been constantly palming his erection moved to his waistband. His breathing started to pick up as Derek ran his fingers over the skin just under the waistband of his jeans, unbuttoning them and pulling the zipper down before tucking in just to the first knuckles.

Now that he knew what he was getting, Stiles was even more anxious than before. He lifted his hips, only succeeding in getting Derek’s hand just a little further into his jeans. There was still the matter of his boxers, but Stiles knew he needed to walk before he ran.

“Derek…” The name came out of his throat in a groan, causing Derek to stop mouthing at his neck before nodding minutely, shoving his hand completely into Stiles’ pants with no further ado.

Stiles was pretty sure all of the blood in his body had rushed to his dick at some point when he realized what Derek was going for. Now that Derek’s fingers were brushing him, skimming over the cloth of his boxers, Stiles felt lightheaded.

“Is this okay? Should I keep going?” It took a moment to realize that Derek was talking to Stiles. He forced himself to nod, spreading his legs as much as he could with Derek straddling him the way he was.

After a second, Derek pulled his hand part of the way out before slipping it under the waistband of the boxers. He slid his hand slowly down the skin before slipping his fingers completely around Stiles. Around Stiles’ cock. Oh god, Derek’s hand was on Stiles’ cock and Stiles was hyperventilating.

“Fuck fuck fuck, if you stop, I swear I’ll stab you with a silver bullet.”

Derek chuckled over him, sliding his hand up and down once and then twice to get Stiles used to the feel. While he felt out a rhythm, Stiles fumbled with Derek’s belt buckle. After two failed tries, Derek realized what he was doing and sat up so that Stiles could have more room.

After the belt was unbuckled, the button was undone and the zipper was pulled down, Derek bent down to claim Stiles’ lips once more, sucking his bottom lip into his mouth and biting down lightly, putting a little pressure on every few seconds.

“You don’t have to. I would understand.” Stiles pulled back, wincing at the sting from Derek’s teeth, but pulling Derek down to kiss him fully.

“You’re an idiot if you think I haven’t been thinking about this for weeks.”

After taking a deep breath, because this was going to be Stiles’ first time touching anyone’s dick besides his own (and Scott’s that one time on accident but he’d been asleep so it didn’t count and why was he thinking about Scott right now?), Stiles slipped his hand into Derek’s pants.

He usually wore boxer briefs. This was something that multiple sexual encounters had taught Stiles. There must have been some ounce of premeditation on this encounter because he was wearing boxers that had just enough room for Stiles to slip his hand and wrap it around Derek.

His erection was hot under his hand, foreign but not unpleasant. He’d thought about it enough, used his own as a poor stand in, and now he had the real thing. He moved his hand a few times, realizing that Derek’s own strokes were short and slow.

He was waiting for Stiles, probably watching to make sure he didn’t freak out. To prove that he was more than okay with this development, Stiles leaned forward and captured Derek’s mouth, twisting his hand and rubbing his thumb over the head of the dick in his hand. Derek gasped before growling, a sound that caused Stiles to thrust into the hand around him.

It was strange to move their hands between them in their current position but neither of them wanted to move. Instead they made do, timing their thrusts and strokes so that they barely bumped hands. It was awkward but it felt so good that Stiles didn’t care.

He also didn’t care that he knew he was going to come depressingly early. His stamina had picked up with the more they were together but he had never had another hand on his cock and it also probably had something to do with his own hand on Derek’s and--

“Stiles. You’re thinking out loud.”

Stiles opened his mouth, either to apologize or deny the statement, but what came out was a very embarrassing groan as he came over Derek’s fingers.

Not long after, Derek’s thrusts got a little erratic and then he was coming, biting down on Stiles’ shoulder and then releasing it, biting on his bottom lip until he was done.

Pulling their hands out was a mess. Partially because they were still tangled up in one another and partially because of the come on their hands. Stiles reached over for a tissue, wiping his fingers off as well as he could. He’d still need to wash his hands. He held out a tissue for Derek to take.

The older man eyed it oddly, looking between the tissue and his hand, before accepting it and wiping off Stiles’ come. Stiles’ come which was on Derek’s hand, like Derek’s had been on his.

Holy shit, that actually happened.

“You’re thinking out loud again.” Stiles blinked over at Derek and then pushed forward, catching the edge of his pants so that they didn’t slide off. While holding onto his pants, he pressed his lips against Derek’s and kissed his softly.

“Thank you for that.” Derek shook his head, lips rubbing against Stiles’ at the movement.

“No, thank you for it.”

-----------------

It didn’t occur to Stiles that he didn’t know how the hunters got Derek, didn’t know why they got him, until he ran into Chris Argent outside of the library. He was coming out of work and the man was sitting on his car parked next to Stiles’.

He’d been trying to duck the conversation but he knew that it was inevitable now. Instead of turning and running in the other direction, which he honestly thought about, Stiles sucked up whatever dignity he had left and continued to his jeep, smiling stiffly at the man perched only a few feet away.

"Fancy seeing you here." Chris hopped off the hood of his car and walked over to where Stiles was standing.

"I was thinking we could go for a little ride." That drew Stiles up short, because he was expecting some sort of scene for some reason. Made a lot more sense that the werewolf hunter would want to keep a conversation private. However that would mean being alone in a car with Chris, completely at his mercy. He was going to have to say no to that.

But before he could open his mouth, Chris leaned forward and dropped his smile.

"And before you say no, you should probably think about the things that'll be overheard if we stay out here." Stiles glanced around at the mostly empty parking lot and noticed the group of teenagers sitting on their cars not too far away. The library shared the parking lot with a strip mall, so it wasn't that unheard of.

"Fine. But I have to get home soon, so it's going to have to be a quick ride."

Which was a lie because Stiles didn't have to be home until curfew, but Chris didn't need to know that. Hopefully the man was still a little cowed by Stiles' dad and the position he held.

"Of course. Get in."

There was something ominous about getting into a car with Chris by himself. Something even more ominous about the fact that they were pointedly driving away from the edge of town where Derek lived. Beacon Hills wasn't huge and there wasn't much in the direction they were headed so either they were going out of town or Chris was just preparing himself to make loops around town. Which might draw attention. Since that's what they were trying to avoid, Stiles really hoped there was a better plan here. Or a plan at all, actually.

"So you wanted to talk." They drove in silence after Stiles spoke, waiting for Chris to say whatever it was that he wanted to say. He probably wasn't happy about Stiles tricking him into coming to Derek's rescue a few days ago. Or maybe there was more to it, but Stiles really hoped that's all that it was.

"You've been spending a lot of time with Derek Hale." Okay, so, definitely more to it. Shit. Stiles was not prepared for this conversation.

"Yeah, we're friends." Safe bet. They were friends. Maybe if he was lucky he wouldn't have to mention anything about dating or the pack or anything else.

"Oh I think you're probably more than just friends. A werewolf is only going to get possessive like that with three types of people. The first would be his family. As close as you are to him, you're not quite that. The second would be his pack, which I think is very likely. I think that Derek has made a pack out of a bunch of high school students." It sounded like an accusation and Stiles automatically got offended on Derek's behalf.

"What's wrong with that?"

Chris shot a glance over to Stiles before pulling into a parking lot. There were people around but he could focus his attention on Stiles completely. That didn't really make Stiles feel any better, to be honest.

"Because you aren't experienced in any way. Teenagers are hormonal to start with. Adding the mood changes from the bite is just asking for problems. Scott had no choice, I see that, but it was his choice to bite Jackson. And we don't know anything about Lydia's condition. As long as my family has been hunting, they've never seen a hybrid survive past their first full moon."

Stomach relocated to somewhere around Stiles' shoes, he swallowed the lump in his throat. Lydia could have died? They hadn't known, hadn't even guessed. Stiles had been at her house, it could have happened there. It was terrifying to think about, actually.

"Well it doesn't matter anyways. We're his pack and he's stuck with us." There was an expression of disbelief on Chris' face before Stiles was even able to get the words out.

"Does he tell you anything? He's stuck with Jackson because he bit him. Scott and Lydia were bit by Peter Hale; therefore Derek is only their alpha because they acknowledge him as it. As for you, Danny and my daughter? Nothing is keeping you from leaving the group."

Except that Allison would never leave Scott, Danny was in line to get the bite and Stiles was pretty damn attached to the alpha. As if he sensed Stiles' train of thought, Chris narrowed his eyes.

"My daughter is dating a werewolf. Take some advice from me son. It's only going to end badly for everyone involved."

Not something Stiles wanted to hear. He didn't believe it and even if he did, it was not Chris' place to be giving him relationship advice. Instead of saying that, Stiles thought back on the conversation and frowned.

"You said three types of people that a werewolf would get possessive over. You only listed two." Something crossed over Chris' features before he smiled.

"The third would be a wolf's spouse. A werewolf would protect their mate from anything, even something non-threatening." Stiles' heart jumped at the word. He knew that Chris meant it just as another word for spouse, but it caused something in Stiles to tighten.

Chris must have noticed the difference, must have noticed the way that Stiles stiffened at the mention of it, because his eyes grew wide and he lunged forward, grabbing Stiles face and forcing him to look at him.

"Are you in a relationship with that man?" After having jerked his chin back, Stiles crossed his arms and glared at Chris with as much force as he could muster.

"For one thing, I really don't like you touching me like that. And for another thing, my relationship with Derek doesn't have anything to do with you. So you can just--" His words were cut off by Chris slamming his hand on the dashboard, scaring Stiles into jumping back against the window.

"It has a lot to do with me Stiles. As a hunter, it is my job to protect humans from werewolves." That caused Stiles to gape at Chris.

"I don't need any protection from Derek." The laugh that Chris let out was actually kind of startling. Stiles really wanted to reach into his pocket and call Derek, have him come out here and get him away from the man, but he knew that would end badly.

"Of course you do, especially when you become physical with him. He won't be able to control himself. He won't mean to, but he will hurt you Stiles. I'm trying to help you."

Stiles got out of the car, slamming the door and heading in the direction they had come from. If he got far enough away, he could call Derek and spin some bullshit story about... something. He'd figure something out. Except he couldn't lie to Derek, wouldn't be believed even if he could. Maybe he could call Danny instead.

Chris was right behind him though but he stopped before he got too close to Stiles.

"For your information, although this is so none of your business, Derek and I have already... been physical. Nothing happened. I'm in on piece." The look that crossed over Chris' face was almost comical. If Stiles hadn't been torn between screaming and running away, he might have actually laughed.

"Does your dad know that you're sleeping with a werewolf?" Stiles threw his hands into the air.

"For the last time, it's none of your business but I'm not sleeping with Derek. We've done... I'm not having this conversation. Yes, my dad knows, or assumes correctly, that I'm in a physical and intimate relationship with Derek. Nothing gets by my dad." Except that wasn't true and Chris called him out on it.

"So he knows that Derek and your friends are werewolves?" He looked like he won; face becoming triumphant in a way that made Stiles really want to punch something. Particularly Chris.

"No, he doesn't, but it's not like... we don't want to tell him because he doesn't need to know. Derek and I have talked about this."

Chris looked dubious for a beat before nodding, eyes turning towards the deserted road beside them. It was odd that Stiles hadn't seen any cars, but he hadn't noticed. He wondered if anyone had driven by and seen him and Chris yelling at each other and if they did, what they thought was going on?

"So you're Derek's mate." Stiles jumped at the word again. He knew it didn't mean what he associated it with, but it still threw him off when he heard it.

"He told me that that was a myth." Chris laughed, not a very pleasant sound.

"He really doesn't tell you anything, does he? Yes, the Hollywood version of mates isn't true, but there is such thing as a werewolf's mate. It's a choice. There isn't any claiming under a full moon. It's like a pack where it is acknowledged, but it has to be acknowledged from both sides for it to work."

Stiles took a few steps forward, voice dropping as he did so.

"For it to work? How does... how would it work?" Chris shook his head for a second, probably about to say that he wouldn't answer, but Stiles cut him off.

"This is my choice Chris, no matter if you think it is right or wrong. If this is a choice, I want to know what it entails. Since you think Derek is keeping things from me, I want to know. I think I deserve it. So please, tell me."

A car buzzed past, causing both Chris and Stiles to start. They made their way back to the car and slid into their respective seats, with Chris pausing before turning the key in the ignition.

"You'll be connected to him." Stiles barely kept from reaching up to touch his head, even though the connection wasn't acting up. Did that mean...

"How?" His voice broke a bit on the word. It almost hurt to breathe as he waited for the answer.

"He'll be able to find you, be able to sense if you're in danger from great distances. He wouldn't be able to go long without seeing you. If you were a werewolf, it'd be the same for you. Humans that are mated with werewolves get the short end of the deal. They get a possessive spouse and not much else."

Stiles could think of what else he'd get if he mated with Derek, if they weren't already... no, he'd know. Wouldn't he? Chris said both sides would have had to acknowledge it and while he didn't know if Derek had, if that was what he wanted, Stiles knew that he hadn't. He wasn't sure if he wanted it, except he was pretty sure he did. He wanted Derek; he knew that much without a doubt in his mind.

However it was almost like what Chris was describing was the connection that Derek and Stiles had already. The thought caused Stiles' stomach to clench. If that was true, that meant that Derek had been lying to him. A lot.

"Stiles, son, is there anything you want to tell me about?"

He couldn't help thinking about the connection, the pain that flared up to the point of sending Stiles to the hospital. The thought of telling Chris was almost too much for Stiles and he shook his head rapidly, eyes snapping forward and mouth shutting with a pop.

They were silent for the drive back to the library. After Chris drove off and Stiles got into his jeep to drive home, he wondered if they had reached any sort of conclusion on what they talked about. It didn't feel finished, but the thought of having that conversation again was almost too much for Stiles to handle.

----------------

Senior year started in a week. That was something that Stiles knew to be fact but still ignored for as long as he could. He got some clothes, any supplies he needed, but mostly focused on the end of summer instead of the beginning of the school year. The end of summer meant one thing for the almost-seniors of Beacon Hill High; parties every night.

After the obligatory 'don't drink and drive' talk from his dad, Stiles set off to a party at so-and-so's house. Allison was there twirling a strand of hair around her finger, eying the group of teens that surrounded them.

"Where is the rest of the pack?" She sighed and shrugged, moving her jacket so that he could sit down.

"Holed up at Derek's for their... monthly sleepover. Danny said he'd be here, though I haven't seen him. If you weren't here, I think I'd probably leave. I still might." Stiles nodded and plopped down beside her. He'd forgotten that it was the full moon, although that explained why neither Derek, Scott nor Lydia answered his texts.

He hadn't talked to Derek since that morning before he'd gone to work. After that joyful conversation with Chris Argent, he really wanted to talk to him, but time wasn't on his side it seemed.

"Allison, does your dad... support yours and Scott's relationship?" Allison scoffed, sloshing whatever drink was in her cup around before taking a sip and handing it to Stiles.

"No. Him and mom both smile and pretend that they are okay with it when he's around, but they aren't. Dad wouldn't hurt him because he hasn't hurt anyone, but I think he's just waiting for him to mess up."

The thought made Stiles feel a little lightheaded. He didn't want anything to happen to them, to any of them. He spent so much of the last year running around and hoping no one got killed that he didn't really think about the fact that it might happen. On accident, on purpose, it didn't matter. The fact was that it could happen.

Allison must have noticed that Stiles was moments from a panic attack because she reached over and grabbed his hand squeezing it tight.

"It's okay Stiles, really. We look out for each other, don't we? Nothing to worry about." But she didn't sound very convinced either. Sometimes he forgot he wasn't the only human dating a werewolf. He pulled her into a hug, letting out a laugh as she started to giggle into his shoulder.

"You're a good friend Allison." She pulled back and smiled, eyes a little watery. Stiles tucked her hair behind her ear and pulled her into another hug.

"We are the weepy girlfriends of two badass werewolves. Let's get some drinks and try to enjoy our last week of summer, shall we?"

Allison cheered and the two of them made their way to the drink table, laughing and trying not to bump into the couples that were bumping and grinding... or just skipping the bumping part and going straight into the grinding. It was a little obscene.

The two of them danced together in such silly fashions that most of the other occupants gave them room so that they wouldn't bump into anyone. They laughed and laughed until their sides hurt. Between songs, with Stiles holding Allison up while she fixed her shoe, he could feel the connection start to prickle at the back of his head. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on where he was, tried to bring Derek to mind, but the pain was settling in and Stiles couldn't keep his eyes open. He gripped Allison's arm tightly, pulling her close enough to whisper in her ear.

"Something is wrong. We have to get out of here."

Sensing the seriousness of the situation, Allison grabbed Stiles' arm and propelled him towards the doors, apologizing to anyone they hit on their way out. Once outside they made their way to his jeep since it wasn't blocked in like hers was. He was breathing hard, doubled over as the pain rolled in his stomach to the point that he was sure he was about to be sick. Between that and the pounding in his head, he could barely stand up straight.

In the passenger seat, he fished out his phone and dialed Derek's number, swearing when it went straight to voicemail. With shaking fingers he tried to scroll through to find Lydia's number but his phone was ringing so he answered it instead.

"What's happening?" There was a noise at the end of the phone, something like sniffling.

"Stiles, you need to get here now. We don't know what happened but... please, hurry." Allison nodded without Stiles having to tell her anything and stepped on the gas, sending them shooting off into the night.

Stiles tried to tap into the connection like he did before but he couldn't figure it out. He searched and searched but couldn't find it. As he was about to give up, Allison screamed and slammed on the breaks. In front of them in all his Alpha Glory, caps required, was Derek. He was staring at the jeep much like he wanted to pick it up and throw it. Allison was shaking, fingers clawing at the wheel, but Stiles couldn't stay in the passenger seat. Ignoring her scream to stay in the car, Stiles told Allison to stay put and jumped out of the car.

He stumbled towards where Derek was standing, tripping on his feet as he struggled to get the pain out of his head. Derek was panting hard, growling low as Stiles tried to get close to him, eyes glowing redder than Stiles thought they'd ever been before.

"Derek?" He crouched a bit, his growl deepening. Stiles stepped back, trying not to be overcome with fear but not sure if he succeeded.

"Derek, can you hear me?" He knew that Derek could understand him when shifted, but if he was acting this way, Stiles didn't want to assume. He moved forward again, reaching a hand out tensely, but pulled it back when Allison's voice came from the car. She had her phone pressed to her ear and she looked terrified but her voice was even as if she was trying to stay calm. She probably was.

"Stiles, be careful. Lydia said he shifted and attacked them, that it's like he doesn't even know who they are. He's not himself."

Stiles breathed in through his nose, trying to calm his heart rate as the alpha glanced from Allison in the car and Stiles standing in front of him, teeth showing and growls coming out heavier and heavier each time. Glancing down, trying to figure out what to do, Stiles noticed that there was something on Derek's hands. Or, well, his paws? They were slick and dripping. He moved an inch and the light from the jeep's headlights hit it just right that he could see the distinctive color.

Blood. Derek had blood on his hands.

"Derek, what have you done?"

-------------------

Not knowing what else to do, Stiles stepped closer to Derek and took a deep breath when he started to growl louder, reaching out as if to scratch Stiles but not close enough to actually succeed with it. His heart was pounding as he watched Derek, trying to figure out what to do. His presence wasn't doing anything for him but maybe...

He didn't want Derek to have it on his conscious, so he glanced around until he found something of use. He moved backwards slowly towards the jeep, trying not to seem like he was running so that Derek wouldn't want to chase him. Once he got there, he opened the door just a few inches.

Derek moved forward, head lowered and growls getting louder. He was about to attack, Stiles knew it. He glanced at Allison who looked terrified and ready to dart at any point. Stiles was pushing back the pain already in his head as he prepared for what was going to happen.

"Whatever you do Allison, stay in the jeep. If something happens, drive off. Get as far away as you can, do you hear me? Don't try to be a hero tonight Allison, please." She nodded, eyes not tearing from Derek's form coming their way slowly but surely.

"What are you going to do?" He breathed out slowly, tightening his grip on the car door.

"I'm going to try to use the connection to get Derek's attention. He's in there somewhere, I just know it." Why else hadn't he attacked yet?

With one more deep breath, Stiles threw the door open and then slammed it on his fingers. Derek had lunged forward but stopped short with a howl as the pain from the connection rocked through both of them, causing Stiles to fall onto his knees. At least he hadn't slammed it on the same hand he'd slammed the dresser drawer on. That was literally the only thing he could think because he was fairly certain he'd just broken a finger. At least one. Possibly four.

He didn't even notice when the pain receded, didn't notice that he no longer felt like he was going to throw up. The pain in his hand was still throbbing and he kept his attention on that. He was aware of the fact that he wasn't being used a werewolf chew toy, so maybe that meant--

"Stiles, answer me!" Stiles glanced up, not having heard anyone trying to get his attention in the first place. He saw Derek staring at him. Shirtless Derek. Pantsless Derek. Derek was kneeling next to Stiles; blood splashed onto his skin like it had been sprayed on. His hands were cupping Stiles' face, trying to get his attention.

"You're back." He watched Derek slump, his forehead falling to rest on Stiles' shoulder. He was naked and Allison was in the car next to them.

"I couldn't control myself. I was there, I knew what was going on, but I couldn't... I don't think I've ever been that scared before. I attacked the others. I would have attacked you." His breathing was quickening and Stiles, knowing the signs of a panic attack first hand, moved so that he was facing Derek fully. He pulled the man up to him, pressing their lips together softly.

"I'm okay. The others are okay. Come on; let's get you in the car before someone drives by." Allison averted her eyes as Stiles helped Derek into the back seat, covering him with a jacket that had been left back there a while back. Instead of getting in the passenger seat, Stiles stayed with Derek who couldn't keep his hands off of Stiles, running over his arms, back, stomach, legs and every other part he could reach.

When they got to the house, Allison jumped out without even taking the keys because Scott was on the porch with blood on his clothes. He was healed though, that was what was important. Jackson and Lydia were huddled together on the porch too, blood speckling their clothes.

"I attacked my pack." There was something broken in Derek's voice that caused Stiles' heart to thud painfully in his chest. He shook his head, wrapping his arms around Derek and squeezing as tightly as he dared. Touching Derek, having Derek touch him, sucked the pain away from his hand. It always did.

"You said it yourself, you couldn't control yourself. It's not your fault Derek. Please believe me."

Nodding, Derek tied the jacket around his waist and stepped out of the car. As they moved towards the porch, Stiles watched as Lydia flinched away from Derek and further into Jackson's chest. He knew that Derek saw it too because he tensed, faltering on the steps.

"They're scared of me." He didn't drop his voice, must have known that the pack would hear. It didn't matter, he wanted them to. Stiles tightened his grip on Derek's arm, ready to defend the group, but Lydia pulled away from Jackson before he could.

"You attacked us; of course we're scared of you. But we were mostly scared for you, you complete moron. Obviously something was wrong and we didn't know how to fix it and it just... we're glad you're okay."

Derek didn't relax completely, but he did lose some of the tension in his shoulders. Stiles helped Derek limp into the house, covering his important bits from prying (Lydia's) eyes. After that he got him upstairs and told him to shower and then come back down.

While they waited for him to make his reappearance, they talked about what could have caused it. By time Derek came down, they'd all agreed on one thing and when they told him, Derek even admitted it was the only thing that made sense.

"Whatever the hunters had been giving you must have reacted when you shifted. Nothing else makes sense." They talked about it, tried to think of what it could but, but Scott was the one to voice the real problems.

"They have something that can cause a werewolf to lose their mind when they shift, they have something to cover their scents, they have special alloy covered knives that only affect werewolves and they work with werewolves. Tell me this doesn't sound really fishy to you."

The group looked at one another, trying to find the words for it. Truthfully it worried Stiles more than he let on. These people, these psychos, were still out there somewhere. Planning their next attack, no doubt. The thought made Stiles' skin crawl, made his stomach clench. He didn't want to have to look over his shoulder but it looked like he'd have to.

After calling their parents and letting them know that they were staying somewhere else, the group divided up and went to sleep. Allison and Scott took one room, Jackson and Lydia took another. Stiles started to follow Derek into his room but he grabbed his wrist and wouldn't let him enter.

"I don't know if it's safe. With that stuff in my system? I don't want to hurt you Stiles."

Stiles pulled his arm back before wrapping them around Derek, pulling him close and pressing his lips to Derek's neck. He could feel the alpha's heartbeat, faster than usual, against his lips.

"I trust you. You won't hurt me." He didn't need protection from Derek. He knew that without a doubt.

It didn't take much for Derek to give in. They moved into the bedroom, Stiles changing into some of Derek's clothes before climbing into the bed behind him. His hand was still throbbing but they had looked at it. He could bend his fingers with no problems so he was going to assume he’d just bruised his hand and not broken anything. Thankfully.

There was so much he wanted to ask Derek about what Chris had talked about, but now wasn't the time. It was never the time. There was so much that he wanted to ask about so many things but he never felt like it was time. It didn't matter though, not right then. Not with Derek pressed against his back and placing feather light kisses to his neck and shoulders. Not when Derek couldn't keep from touching Stiles softly, apologetically. He couldn't accuse him of keeping things from him when he knew that Derek was struggling with what he could have done tonight.

He knew that it could have been a lot worse.

Chapter Text

Despite the fact that Stiles wanted to keep walking on eggshells around Derek regarding what happened when he’d been taken by the hunters, he knew he needed to talk to the older man. He knew that if they kept putting off the conversation, they’d never bring it up and Stiles didn’t want to go through that.

He had so many questions that he wanted to ask and sitting with him in the woods alone seemed like as a good a place as any to bring it up.

“Are you ever going to tell me what happened? When the hunters took you and all that came with it?” Derek had tensed at the question, eyes narrowing as he stared off into the distance.

They hadn’t been doing much, leaning against a tree together and basking in the silence. Stiles didn’t do well with silence anyways.

“I don’t think it’s that important.” That made Stiles scoff. He grabbed Derek’s arm and pulled it until he turned away from his broody glaring at a random tree or a squirrel or whatever his werewolf eyes could see.

“It’s important to me. I told you my side. Don’t I deserve to know yours?” That made Derek stiffen even more, if it was possible. He was so still that Stiles could have mistaken him for part of the scenery. Except his skin was soft and warm under Stiles’ hand, the reminder that the statue next to him was actually his boyfriend.

“Please? I just want to know.” Weakening the alpha’s defenses was something Stiles prided himself at. Sometimes he wasn’t able to get through, but more often than not, a simple please would work wonders.

Just like it did then.

“I left your house, planning on parking a few streets away. They came up behind me, said their car was messed up. I listened to their heart but didn’t hear the lie. So I went with them. Got there and someone gassed me with something. Small canister of something strong; it knocked me out.”

He squirmed against the ground, trying to get a bit more comfortable. Stiles knew that Derek felt a little out of his element, putting everything out there like he was doing, but it was important.

“They didn't do anything for the first few hours. Kept me immobile but not in pain. They hooked me up to the IV drip, asked a lot of questions.” His jaw clenched at that and Stiles reached over, wrapping his fingers around Derek’s wrist.

“Questions about what?” He kept his voice low, trying not to startle Derek out of whatever trance he put himself into to deal with telling this story.

“The pack. The wolves and the humans both.” Stiles felt his heart skip and was surprised when Derek growled, pulling his wrist out of Stiles’ grip and holding it close to him.

It stung but after a moment, Stiles realized why he did it. His reaction had made Derek think that Stiles was worried Derek had told them information on them. He knew that Kate Argent had tortured him to get information on the other beta, to get information on Scott, and Derek hadn’t given it to her. At that point, Scott wasn’t even anything but an annoying new werewolf that Derek didn’t have to deal with. He protected him then, of course he’d protect all of them now.

That was his job as Alpha.

“Stop being such a sourwolf. I know you wouldn’t tell them anything about us.” He reached over and snatched Derek’s wrist back, shooting him an almost playful glare as he wrapped his fingers around the wrist once more. He could feel Derek’s heart beating steadily that way.

“So what happened that morning?” Stiles could still remember the pain as if it was happening now. He closed his eyes and relived the pain, relived the horror of not knowing if Derek was okay, if he was alive, where he was, if he--

“Stiles, calm down.” He blinked out of his thoughts, looking at Derek’s face and swallowing. His eyes were red, but he looked calm.

His heart was pounding in his chest though, borderline panic attack. He felt his fingers scramble at his sternum as if that alone would hold it at bay.

“Stiles. Calm down.” Stiles felt his body relax, his heart thudding painfully for a second before everything seemed to slow down.

“How do you do that? Say a word and it’s like my body obeys you and not me.” Derek narrowed his eyes, his now very human eyes. Stiles hadn’t even notice them change back. Not that he’d noticed them change in the first place.

“You recognize me as your alpha. It’s the same with why the others listen to you because they recognize you as a member of the pack.”

Stiles nodded, heaving a sigh as he pressed his back against the tree.

“Before we got distracted, I asked what happened that morning.” Derek nodded, wrapping his arm around Stiles’ shoulders and pulling him a little closer. It wasn’t the most comfortable position, but it gave a different kind of comfort.

“They put something in the IV drip. I didn’t feel it at first but then it seemed to tear me open from the inside. My veins felt fit to burst, everything burned. Whatever it was, it’s something specialized by these hunters.”

The thought made Stiles remember everything else they had used that was different.

“The way they cover the scent, the knife, the gas that knocked you out and now this? They aren’t your run of the mill hunters, are they?” Derek shook his head, pressing his chin against Stiles’ shoulder. He could feel that the older man was repressing a growl.

“Chris and I talked about it a few times, although there keeps being more that we need to talk about it seems. The way he sees it is that his family are traditional hunters and these hunters are the modernized version.”

“Is this the common way of it then? Modernized hunters with science and absolute cruelty and no moral compass on their side?”

Derek shrugged and Stiles could feel a little bit of helplessness creep in. They sat in silence for a while, Stiles trying desperately to fight the helplessness and the little inkling of fear that could blossom into full blown panic if he let it.

“What about them using werewolves? That doesn’t seem to be common practice.”

The werewolves present when Stiles had been kidnapped had seemed completely aware of what they were doing. He knew that that hunters weren’t against using werewolves for their own means, like Kate had used Derek all those years ago, but this seemed different.

“I don’t know. They knew what they were doing, that they were working with the people who are trained to kill them. Maybe the hunters granted them asylum if they taught them all of our secrets. I don’t know. I don’t know anything about these hunters and they got away, so they are still out there, planning their next attack. They won’t get caught off guard again. We’ve gotten lucky recently. It won’t happen again.”

Every time they faced off with the hunters, they made it out but only just. And Stiles got stabbed that once. They had gotten lucky a lot, and with this most recent escape? The hunters would be out for blood in any way they could get it.

“If you’re thinking about imposing that ’none of the pack can come to my house’ rule again, I want you to know that I veto it right here and right now.”

Derek’s shoulders tensed and he leaned away from Stiles, glaring at him with his eyes sparking red. Stiles wasn’t scared because Derek wouldn’t hurt him, but the sight still made a shiver run down his spine.

“I am imposing that rule and you will adhere to it without a problem.”

If you asked anyone, they would tell you that Stiles had a stubborn streak a mile long. This was no different. He crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head.

“What about all that stronger in numbers mumbo jumbo?” Derek stood up, the movement causing Stiles to lose his perch and he tipped over.

After rolling to be able to get up, Stiles had to pluck leaves off of his shirt. Derek was glaring at him and, not one to be outdone, Stiles glared right back.

“It’s still true but these hunters are not like anything we’ve gone against before.”

Stiles threw his hands out, wincing when he almost accidentally hit Derek in the face.

“We’ve gone up against them before!” Derek grabbed Stiles’ forearm to keep it still.

“Not like this. Not when they are prepared for us. We aren’t taking any chances. I brought you out here to tell you that you need to stay home. Go to school, go to practice, go to work, go home.”

Stiles felt his jaw drop. He knew he was gaping but he didn’t rightly care. Derek was being beyond unreasonable. Which for him wasn’t a feat, but still!

“Are you kidding me? You’re kidding me, right? For one, that seems a little counterproductive if you ask me. And secondly? You don’t get to ground me. You’re my boyfriend, not my father!”

He raised his voice, but it was the woods and no one was around to hear them anyways. Derek’s eyes narrowed, red and perhaps a bit frightening. He took a step forward until they were almost touching, fingers clenched around Stiles’ forearm still but not hard enough to hurt. Too much.

“I’m not telling you as your boyfriend to stay inside. I’m telling you as your alpha.”

His voice had that lower register in it that made Stiles want to clamp his mouth shut and accept it. No matter how much he wanted to tell Derek to fuck off, that that wasn’t how it worked; he couldn’t. Instead he glared and pulled back, struggling to get his arm out of Derek’s grip.

“Fine. You want me to stay inside and away from you? I’ll do it. Without a problem, that’s what you said right? Great. Well let me know when my alpha is gone and my boyfriend wants to talk about how not okay I am with him telling me what to do.”

Stiles stalked off, knowing that Derek could catch him if he wanted to, but also knowing that he wouldn’t. Not unless he wanted to assert his alpha prowess again. Which Stiles really hoped he wouldn’t, because he was itching to hit Derek again and his hand was no longer in a cast. It’d hurt this time.

He climbed into his jeep and struggled with his keys, noticing that his hands were shaking. He ignored it, shoving the key into the ignition and speeding off in the vague direction of his house.

Halfway there, his phone buzzed in his pocket. He pulled it out at a red light, stabbing the open button when he saw Derek’s name.

I’m just trying to keep everyone safe.

Stiles took a deep breath before typing up his response.

This would have gone better if you would have asked instead of telling me what to do.

He stayed at the light even though it was green. Barely anyone ever took this street so he wasn’t worried that anyone would come up behind him. The next text came through and he clicked the open button with a little more care than before.

Do you think you can stay out of trouble until this is over?

Taking another deep breath, feeling his earlier anger seep out of him with the exhale, Stiles focused on his response.

Will I still get to see you?

Between Derek asserting his control like that, demanding Stiles do something that he didn’t want to, there was also the fact that Stiles didn’t want to go weeks without seeing Derek. And it could take weeks for them to finish this.

Not that he was co-dependent on his boyfriend or anything. He just really liked spending time with him. They were friends too. Plus that meant not hanging out with the rest of the pack as much as he’d like. His phone buzzed and he held his breath as he opened it.

Good luck getting rid of me.

Stiles smiled, tucking his phone into his pocket and shaking his head. He was pulling into his driveway when he realized what had just happened. Unable to resist, he sent a teasing text to Derek.

Do you realize that not only did we just have a fight but we settled it like adults? This means we’re in a mature relationship!

He contemplated putting a winky face on it, but it would distract from the actual sentiment. He didn’t have to wait long before the reply came in.

We’re an insult to the entire institution of mature relationships.

With another laugh, Stiles headed into his house. They’d be just fine.

---------------

The pack was on a mandated house arrest, but somehow that didn’t stop any of them from meeting up the day before classes started. They sprawled out around Jackson’s living room, legs and arms overlapping into one another’s space but no one complained.

Stiles knew better than to call it a dog pile but that’s exactly what it was. A cuddle puddle of pack-proportions. Not that he’d ever say that out loud. Especially with Jackson sitting as close as he was.

Speaking of Jackson. The other teen cocked his head until Stiles met his gaze and then he flicked it over his shoulder at the hallway. Pulling himself out from under Scott was a difficult excursion but he got out, mumbled his apologies for disturbing the peace, and followed Jackson towards the hallway.

They made their way in silence down the hall and onto the porch. It wouldn’t do much to keep the other two werewolves in the room from hearing their conversation if they wanted to, but Stiles knew that the pack tried not to use that on one another as much as they could.

“If you brought me out here to kill me, they are going to suspect you. And at least one of them might tell my dad.” Jackson rolled his eyes and leaned against the rail of the Whittemore’s back porch, glancing out into the yard.

It was still daylight, probably not past five o’clock. They’d been hanging out at Jackson’s for a few hours, playing video games or talking about the upcoming year. He’d gotten the feeling that Jackson wanted to talk, he just couldn’t imagine what the teen would have to say to him.

“Have you noticed that sometimes when you tell me something, I do it?” Yes, Stiles had noticed that, but he knew the answer because Derek had given it to him. Instead of saying that, Stiles felt his mischievous side kick in.

“No, I haven’t noticed that. So if I told you to rub your belly and pat your head, you’d do it?” With a raised eyebrow, Jackson seemed to force out a scoff, eyes widening just a bit.

“I don’t think it works like that.” Stiles raised both of his eyebrows, hoping he still looked innocent. And hoping that the beta couldn’t hear his heart speeding up at the joke.

“Let’s see. Jackson. Rub your belly and pat your head.” Inserting all of his authority into his tone, Stiles watched and waited to see what would happen.

What happened was Jackson’s hands twitched to their respective places but then fell to his side.

“I don’t always have no choice, it’s not like when Derek tells me to do something and I feel compelled to do it. With you I want to do these things, I don’t have to.”

Stiles laughed, biting his tongue as he did so.

“Ow, ow, shit. Sorry. Anyways, the reason you want to do what I tell you is because you recognize me as an awesome human pack member surrounded by werewolves. Means I kick serious ass and take serious names.”

He watched as Jackson’s eyebrows furrowed in obvious confusion. Sometimes that happened when Stiles went on his little spiels.

“Paraphrasing what Derek told me: you listen to me because you recognize me as a member of the pack and you want to listen to me.” Jackson nodded but then shook his head, holding a hand up and pointing at Stiles.

“I recognize Allison as part of the pack but when she tells me to do something, it’s not the same. Same goes for Danny.” That threw Stiles off, no longer confident as he slumped a bit.

“That’s what Derek told me.” Not that Derek hadn’t ever lied before, but he honestly didn’t think he’d lie about this.

“I thought it was some sort of mate thing. You know, you and Derek--” Stiles stuck his fingers in his ears and started humming loudly.

He didn’t want anyone’s opinions to persuade his own decision on whether or not he wanted that connection with Derek. He knew enough to know it wasn’t permanent, but it wasn’t to be taken lightly either.

“Here’s the deal. I don’t ask what your intentions are with she-wolf in there and you don’t talk to me about mine and Derek’s relationship. That being said, change the subject or I’m going back in the house. You can sit out here and work on your brood, but let’s be honest, you’ll never match Derek’s.”

They were silent for a while after Stiles removed his fingers from his ears. Finally, as Jackson started back towards the door, Stiles reached out and grabbed his arm.

"Can I ask why you gave me such a hard time right after you were turned? Was it just your usually jackassness or was it something else?”

Jackson paused, eyes downcast for the moment. Stiles waited, wondering if Jackson would even bother answering. Before he had to wait too long, Jackson started to speak.

"I was jealous of you. Because I was the wolf but he still gave you more attention. I see now that he was battling some sort of affliction that made him attracted to you, but that didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was that you were getting what I wanted.”

Stiles raised an eyebrow at that.

“What, you wanted Derek?” It was said as a joke, trying to lighten the mood they’d fallen into. Jackson shook his head.

“His attention. I just wanted his attention.”

He had it now, they were all evenly divided. Stiles had a different type of attention, but he knew that that wasn’t what Jackson meant. Just like with school, with sports, with his family, he felt like he was coming up short.

Stiles moved to pat Jackson on the shoulder but changed his plan, instead wrapping his arms around him and hugging him tight to him for a brief moment. He was so sure that Jackson would pull away but he was surprised when he returned the hug for a second before pulling away.

They moved into the house in silence, knowing that there was a peace between them that hadn’t been there before. Was Jackson still going to be an ass? Probably. But at least Stiles knew it wasn’t personal now.

The group had moved to sit around the coffee table playing a card game. Recognizing the game for what it was, Stiles crossed his arms and rolled his eyes.

“Danny and Allison, you two are idiots. Scott and Lydia are werewolves, they know when you lie. Didn’t think that Bullshit would be a bad idea?”

-----------------

After a few more games of cards, with three cheating werewolves and three humans that really should have known better, everyone separated to their cars with the promise to see each other in the morning in school.

Shit. They were seniors and school started in the morning. It still threw Stiles for a loop that the summer had gone by so fast.

He drove responsibly and got to the house just after seven, locking his jeep and glancing at his dad’s car. He placed his hand on the hood to find that it was still warm so his dad must have just gotten home. Tripping over his feet, Stiles moved up the steps and into the house, locking the door behind him. His dad wasn't in the living room so he moved through to the kitchen, smiling and offering a wave to his dad who was struggling with separating the cartons from the Chinese place.

"Need a hand?" His dad sighed and left them in a tangled mess, moving to the cabinets to grab some plates and glasses.

"Didn't think you'd actually make it home. You spent most of this summer with your friends or Derek or work." Stiles shrugged once more. At least he didn't mention the hospital again.

"I hung out with the pack for a few hours but school tomorrow. Figured I should get a full night's rest." He ignored his dad's mock shocked face, scooping some of his food out of the carton and onto his plate.

He didn’t even realize his slip up until his dad spoke next.

“You guys are like a pack. A pack of wild dogs or something. I swear I’ve never seen teenage boys eat so much. And Lydia’s almost no different. How she stays so skinny is a mystery to me.”

After choking on his dinner, Stiles tried to open his mouth to backpedal over what he said but it worked. His dad didn’t suspect anything, and why would he? It’s not like having packs of werewolves in your kitchen was a common occurrence or something he should be thinking about. His dad was none the wiser and that little slip up wasn’t going to let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

They ate in relative silence for the most part, a few utterances of ‘can you pass the…’ or ‘did you see the…’ but nothing else. It was a strange dinner for them. Whenever the sheriff was able to be at home for dinner, they usually talked about as much as they could since they didn’t know the next time they’d be able to meet without Stiles having been sneaking around a crime scene.

Which really did happen more often than probably normal for a kid his age, regardless of his dad’s profession.

“So, you ready for your big senior year?” With a shrug, Stiles stood up and started to deposit his garbage to the trash can and his dishes to the sink.

“Guess I have to be.” His dad nodded, rubbing a hand over his stomach and watching his son move about the kitchen.

There was something on his mind, something he wanted to talk about, but obviously didn’t know how to bring it up. Before Stiles could even think of how to bring that up, his dad spoke.

“I know you don’t want to think about it just yet, but have you given any thoughts to colleges?”

Stiles felt his heart thud and he tried to ignore it, the grips of a panic attack. There was no way his dad could understand how much anxiety that very question had been giving him these days. No way could his dad know that Stiles had been thinking about that very question every day since the summer began.

“I have a few options that I want to look further into before I make any decisions on where I’m sending applications. It’s not even my first day of senior year yet dad. Give me a few weeks before we start the process of emptying the nest?”

His dad nodded, standing up and taking his own dishes over to the sink.

“I understand that you want to live in the now as much as possible Stiles, but don’t forget that college applications have deadlines and so do scholarships.”

Stiles felt his stomach twist at the reminder. He had a college fund, sitting tight and secure with his dad putting in however much he could afford every other paycheck for the past ten years, but that was supposed to last him at least four years and college tuition these days is more than buying a house sometimes.

He’d worry about that later. One thing at a time. He started his senior year tomorrow. He needed to be well rested.

--------------

It was somewhere between awake and still very much asleep that he started to think on all of the things Derek had told him but had come out to be not so true.

Was the connection related to him being a werewolf? What about them being mates? What about them being mates as to being the reason why Stiles could sort of control the betas? Did Derek know the people that stopped at his house that day to find the Monroe house? Did Derek know more about the connection than he was telling Stiles?

He tossed and turned the entire night, turning over each question and each possible answer. He wouldn’t put it past Derek to lie to him about that stuff. He was very big on secrets. But would he lie about those things if they involved Stiles?

Probably.

And that didn’t even begin to explain the clusterfuck that was the last full moon. Whatever the hunters had put in the IV drip that had affected Derek like that when he shifted. He’d gone mild alpha since then but not a full phase. Would the stuff still be in his system? Did that mean the next time it happened they’d have to go through it again?

The more he thought about it, the more he realized he didn’t know anything. Chris had laughed, asking if Derek told them anything, but Stiles had just assumed that Derek hadn’t known things because he was only a young teen when his family was killed. He thought that Derek wouldn’t know because he was never taught.

What did it mean if he did know this stuff and just lied about it? What did it mean for them as a pack and for the two of them as a relationship?

--------------

Waking up at seven for school, first bell at eight, meant that Stiles felt like crap. He was okay with waking up early but after the crappy amount of sleep he’d gotten the night before? He was a little less okay with it.

He showered and dressed with less grace than usual, bumping his hands, elbows, knees, hips, feet and face on various pieces of furniture between his bed and the bathroom. By time he was dry and dressed, wearing something wrinkle free by some miracle, he was sure he’d be covered in bruises.

Except his skin was tough, used to taking a beating, so he didn’t worry about it too much. Downstairs his dad was drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, glancing at his watch pointedly as Stiles slid into his normal chair. His dad had set out a bowl of cereal and the milk. It was a routine they’d gotten into after his mom passed.

“You get any sleep bud?” Stiles stifled a yawn into his shoulder before pouring the milk onto the cereal.

“Not as much as I planned for, but I’m good.” His dad laid down the newspaper, sending him a knowing smile as he did so.

“Nervous for your first day of your last year?”

Spoon halfway to his mouth, Stiles almost choked. Instead he shoved the spoon in, leaving it there so that he couldn’t talk. Instead he mumbled a few things, hopefully vague enough that his dad wouldn’t notice or ask any more questions.

“Alright Stiles. I know that you start lacrosse practice again, plus your job, so I won’t hound you on chores too much, but your grades start slipping and the same rule as last year applies. No extra curricular activities. That includes your job, your sport and your friends.”

After a few more words of wisdom, his dad slipped out. Stiles did a little cleaning up, mostly just putting his bowl in the sink and rinsing it out a bit, before slipping out himself. The group had planned to be a little early so they could meet up beforehand, but Stiles was already running a tiny bit behind.

His usual morning clumsiness multiplied by ten didn’t help.

Not even half way to the school, a set of blue lights and a siren sounded behind him. There weren’t any other cars around so Stiles knew it was for him. He pulled over, putting his head down on his steering wheel and holding in the urge to beat his head against it.

The tap on his window made him look up. Standing beside his jeep was none other than Hendricks, the officer that had been on his protection detail when the last hunters were in town. He’d been on their payroll though because he left so that he could be kidnapped.

“What seems to be the problem, officer?” Hendricks pulled his sunglasses off, folded them and slipped them into his jacket pocket, before he leaned against the edge of the jeep.

“I just knew this was the only way I was going to get you alone. I know I need to explain myself and--”

This time Stiles let his head drop against his steering wheel.

“Dude, you’re going to make me late to my first day of senior year for this? Not cool.” Hendricks dropped his hand so that it was half into Stiles jeep. It meant that if Stiles drove off, he’d be taking Hendricks with him.

Smart move. Man Stiles hated this guy.

“Listen, I don’t know what you’re mixed in with, but those guys that paid me off? They were seriously deranged. And persuasive. I didn’t know it’d go to those lengths, honestly. They said they weren’t even after you, that they were just using you to get to Hale.”

Stiles sat up in a rush, causing Hendricks to back out a bit.

“And that makes it okay?” Hendricks shook his head and spread out his hands, with one still in the car.

“I didn’t say that, I said--”

“No, you said that they weren’t after me but they were after Derek, like that’s an excuse. Like that would make it okay.” It made Stiles blood boil, but he waited. He waited and listened.

“The guy is weird. He hangs out with high schoolers, that’s weird enough, but he also lives in a burned out house where his whole family died. People rarely see him in town. He’s a freak and--”

Stiles laid on his horn, drowning out whatever else Hendricks was trying to say. Once he stopped talking, Stiles released the horn and pointed at him.

“Listen to me. You leave me, Derek, and anyone remotely attached to me alone. You got suspended from duty for what you did but if you even think about coming near me again, I’ll have you fired.”

He wasn’t one to throw his weight around, never liked the thought of using his dad’s position to his advantage in that way, but Stiles would definitely make an exception for this creep.

His part being said, he pushed Hendricks arm out of the way and sped off. He was going to be late for his first day because of that asshole.

---------------

His day only got worse. He had to sign in late and his first class was with Coach Finstock who of course made it his duty to point out how poorly that looked. Next was Harris, who was a douche on the best of days. He had the classes with some of his friends but the teachers had wised up and spread them around the room.

After getting yelled out in English for trying to get Scott’s attention, Stiles was ready to just drop out. He could totally work at the library for the rest of his life. It wouldn’t bother him. Who needed an education?

His phone buzzed once in his pocket and while the teacher was writing on the board, he glanced down at it.

This might be weird but is something wrong? I have this feeling

Just hearing from Derek made his day so much better. Which was pretty twisted, but it was bound to happen when you had an older, far more attractive werewolf boyfriend.

You have no idea the shitty day I’ve had. Can’t explain how shitty

He put his phone away just as the teacher turned back, shooting a look like she knew. She went about telling them all the fun things they were going to do that year, none of which actually sounded fun except for the mythology and folk lore section.

But maybe Stiles was biased.

When they left that class, twenty minutes later, Stiles was a bit calmed down. He made his way to lunch with Scott, griping the entire way there.

“So besides Harris being a douche canoe and Coach being Coach and Mrs.… whatever her name is, being whatever she is, guess what else happened?”

Scott opened his mouth to reply but it was replaced with a dopey grin and Stiles sighed. He must have spotted Allison. He glanced around but she wasn’t in sight. Damn werewolf hearing because she rounded the corner a minute later, meeting their eyes and waving.

“Come on, Jackson and Danny should already be in there.” Lydia came up behind her, grinning as Allison and Scott seemed to gravitate towards one another.

She leaned up to Stiles’ ear, knowing that Scott would hear her if his world hadn’t shrunk to only contain his girlfriend.

“It would almost be disgusting if I knew that Jackson and I hadn’t been basically the same when we were together.” Stiles glanced at her in mock shock.

“You mean you two aren’t together?”

She hit him in the arm, one that held a little more strength than usual since she wasn’t holding back. He laughed, wrapping his arm around her waist and escorting them into the lunchroom behind ScottandAllison. They were so close they were no longer separate entities, they were one: ScottandAllison.

They all grabbed their food, gravitating to where Jackson and Danny were already seated and eating.

“How did you two get in here so quick?” They shrugged, more food in their mouths than probably necessary.

“Weight training is just across the hall.” Stiles shook his head.

“You disgust me.” Danny swallowed his food and then threw a French fry at Stiles, missing by an inch as he ducked at the last minute.

“Because you never talk with your mouth full?”

He was definitely guilty of that so Stiles shook his head again and started to eat. Seeming to remember that his phone had gone off earlier, he pulled it out and looked at it.

I felt your anger

Stiles paused because if that was true, and why else would he say it unless it was, that was new. It had to be the connection, unless it was…

He really needed to have the mates talk with Derek, but for now he’d assume it was the connection. And he’d assume the connection wasn’t related to mates.

Damn Chris Argent for putting that thought in his head.

That’s new

He put his phone down and tried to participate in the conversations going on around him, listening to Lydia and Scott talk about something Jackson had done once during a full moon while Danny and Allison laughed, but he wasn’t fully there.

The connection changed when they needed it to. Did that mean it needed to change? What was going on that made it so that the other needed to know what the other was feeling? Did it work both ways? If Derek got angry, would Stiles know? Was it just anger or would it be other emotions as well?

Could mean trouble. Go straight home after practice.

Stiles thought about arguing, because going straight home had never been a fool proof plan before, but he knew it wouldn’t get him anywhere. If it had been spoken, it would have been in the Alpha Voice.

“You up for it Stiles?” Stiles looked up quickly, trying not to grimace as he saw the entire table looking at him.

“Up for what?” Jackson rolled his eyes but repeated what he apparently had just said.

“We’re all going to the music store in town after practice. Do you want to join us?”

Stiles looked down at his phone, read the text he’d just sent.

Straight home, got it.

Hopefully Derek couldn’t tell a lie over text.

“Sure, count me in.”

----------------

Practice wasn’t half as bad as he thought it would be. Jackson and Scott were over achievers and made the newcomers almost piss themselves with their intensity. Lydia and Allison cheered in the stands like good girlfriends. Danny made rude comments behind Jackson’s back to get Stiles to laugh.

And Stiles actually played well. He’d have to get Danny a really great birthday present. Like an amazing one.

Coach even seemed shocked, making a face as he tried to come up with a compliment that wouldn’t make him look like an ass after what he’d said that morning.

“Good… good job Bilinski.” Stiles opened his mouth to correct him before giving up.

He’d gladly go by Bilinski if it meant he could get on first string this year and actually get to play. Although he’d definitely give up the opportunity to be in a car alone with Derek again. Circumstances changed, he had a feeling he’d really enjoy it.

After the guys all showered, they met up in the parking lot. Lydia climbed in with Jackson, Danny got in his own car, Scott slid in with Allison and Stiles made his way all the way to his jeep. Since he’d gotten in late, he’d had to park on the far side.

They drove to the shopping part of town, where a little strip mall sat across from the actual mall. The library was right beside them but none of them worked today so they just waved to the librarian and went to the music store.

After only being in there for a few minutes, Jackson grabbed Stiles arm and pulled him outside.

“I need your help.”

They were outside and out of sight of the store, so Stiles wondered what could be so important.

“I’m not licensed to do psychology, but I may have a number you can call.” Jackson rolled his eyes, glancing over his shoulder at the door and pulling Stiles further away.

Once they were far enough away, probably to the point that Jackson couldn’t hear them so he knew they couldn’t hear him, he tensed up again.

“Lydia’s birthday is coming up and I don’t know what to get her.” Stiles opened his mouth but then snapped it shut. After a moment, he opened it again.

“Dude. I’m a guy. In a relationship with another guy. What do I know about girls? You’d be better off asking Allison, or hell, Danny.”

Jackson raised an eyebrow.

“Danny is gay too, so why would he be a better choice than you?” Stiles shrugged.

“Difference between being gay and just being in a relationship with a guy? I don’t know dude, okay, but seriously, not the best one to ask.”

Jackson ran a hand through his hair, messing up the hard work he’d spent getting it to look so casual. He looked really harried, which actually made Stiles feel bad.

“But you’re her best friend. She and Allison are close but she’s still closer to you. For some reason.”

Because he was there. Stiles was there for her when none of the others were. He thought it but didn’t say it. It wasn’t fair, not anymore.

“Her birthday isn’t for another month, right? Give me a week or two. I’ll figure something out.” Jackson nodded, visibly relaxing.

“Something good, okay? I want this to be the best present she’ll get.” Stiles opened his mouth, some witty retort on his tongue, but shut up when he saw Jackson’s face.

He’d gone from a little relaxed to tense for a whole different reason. If he was a dog, his fur would be raised. His eyes were snapping back and forth, searching for something.

“What’s goi--” Jackson slapped his hand over Stiles’ mouth and dragged him into a small alleyway between shops.

His eyes flashed gold but then went back to normal, making Stiles shiver a bit. That never meant good things.

“The scent from Lauderville. It’s here.” Stiles felt a chill run down his spine and then settle in his stomach.

They waited and silence and Jackson started to shift because suddenly there were people surrounding them.

“Holy fuc--” A woman standing nearby laughed, not rude or harsh. Just a laugh. Almost an innocent laugh.

“Oh watch your mouth, there are impressionable ears about. No reason to get your hair in a twist beta, we aren’t a threat to you.”

Jackson didn’t back down, keeping Stiles at his back and trying to face the semicircle of werewolves facing them. At least Stiles assumed they were all wolves. He did notice on thing though. They were all wearing sunglasses.

Including one that was standing to their left that was the one that had asked for the Monroe house that day in Derek’s driveway.

“What do you want?” Jackson’s voice was a growl, hands clawing at his sides trying to suppress the urge to attack. Stiles wondered if he could calm Jackson down before he got them both killed in this alleyway.

The girl glanced at the others and they backed up so that they weren’t so surrounded anymore.

“We’re really not a threat to you. We knew you scented us so we stopped by. Besides, we have something in common.”

She had tried to step forward when she said that but when Jackson growled, she stepped back. Even through her glasses, Stiles knew she was looking at him. The lone human, being protected by the werewolf. It must have looked odd.

Hell, it felt odd. He didn’t know Jackson even cared.

Which was a lie, but still.

“What would that be?” She tilted her head and smiled, a polite and inviting gesture that unnerved Stiles a bit.

“Derek Hale? You smell of him, so you must be in his pack somehow. Well we’re his cousins.”

Stiles choked on air. He remembered Derek briefly mentioning to his dad when they met that he had cousins out of the area, but he had thought he was either lying or meant cousins that weren’t involved with lycanthropy? Surely they would have been part of the Hale pack if they were?

He wasn’t entirely sure how that worked.

“You’re the kid from his house that day. You smell like little Derek too, but in a different way.” The one that Stiles recognized spoke up. The words made Stiles swallow but he didn’t respond, feeling more than hearing Jackson’s growls increasing at that.

“What do you want?” The guy took his glasses off, revealing blue eyes. It made Stiles shiver again, remembering when Derek’s eyes had been that color. He almost missed it, but it looked different on that guy.

“Just to stop in and say hi to our little cousin of course.” The girl made a gesture and the guy replaced his glasses, stepping back a bit further.

“You’ve been here for a while and you haven’t stopped in to see him on your own?” Jackson backed up when Stiles spoke, probably trying to tell him not to draw attention to himself. Despite the eerie feeling the other wolves gave him, Stiles wasn’t scared. Or, more scared than usual.

“I’m not entirely allowed on his grounds.”

Stiles opened his mouth but Jackson beat him to it.

“Why not?” The girl smiled again, reaching up and pulling off her glasses. Her eyes were shining blood red, making a knot grow in Stiles’ stomach.

“Pack rules.”

Jackson’s growls grew almost too loud, probably close to drawing attention. Taking a chance, Stiles put his hand on his back and willed him to calm down. He felt the growls lessen.

If the others caught wind of what was going on, it might get bad. They needed to stay occupied in the music store until they figured this thing out.

“We were just hoping you could call our cousin so that we can all meet up somewhere neutral? Public, if you don’t trust us. Us, you two, the rest of the pack that’s in that store back there and our cousin. Nice group outing, don’t you agree?”

Jackson crossed his arms, fists called up and nails probably digging into his palms.

“Why should we?” The girl glared although her smile didn’t slip off her lips.

“Because it’s good manners, beta. Now do it.” Her commands had no control, but Stiles knew it was the only way they were going to be even a little safe so he pulled out his phone, shaking his head when Jackson turned to glare at him.

Derek was going to be pissed off, for so many reasons.

---------------

Derek was very pissed off when he answered the phone and Stiles had struggled through the explanation that they’d been out in town (“I told you to go straight home!”) and then Jackson and Stiles had gone off on their own (“You’re always supposed to stay in the group!”) and then the other wolves had snuck up on them (“Does Jackson not pay any attention in training?”).

He hadn’t even seemed surprised when Stiles had told him that the werewolves had been in town, making Stiles a little suspicious and a little angry. He held those in, knowing now wasn’t the time.

Fuck, he was going to have to actually act like a member in the pack rather than the alpha’s boyfriend, wasn’t he? Maybe not be submissive, because like Stiles would be able to accomplish that, but he wouldn’t get away with what he usually did.

Derek wasn’t a conventional alpha, that’s for sure, but they’d probably have to act like it in front of these werewolves. Shit would go downhill fast if that scary alpha lady thought she could move in on the Hale territory.

Especially since they weren’t too good at fighting. Hunters, sure, but other and probably well trained werewolves? Most likely born wolves? Yeah, those would be a bitch to handle.

Not that Stiles would know. Usually if there were huge werewolf or hunter fights going on, Stiles was either unconscious or about to be unconscious or at home waiting nervously by the phone.

He was a damsel in distress apparently.

They ended up in the middle of the strip mall where there were a lot of picnic tables and a huge fountain. The pack took one table and the other group stood around another. Stiles did a quick count.

Their group had two werewolves, three whenever Derek got there, and Lydia’s hybridness. Whether or not the group knew Lydia was a hybrid was unknown. Then there was Allison who wasn’t armed but was pretty handy with her hands now that her dad had forced her to start taking defense classes.

Then there was Danny and Stiles who were human and although athletic, probably not good enough at taking on a werewolf. You know. Probably.

The cousins had the girl, who was the alpha, and at least one main beta, the guy that had taken his glasses off. That left the other five, who probably ranged from regular betas like Scott and Jackson to omegas. In total, they had three girls and four guys.

Oh yeah. They were outnumbered and probably out skilled. Public place or not, if this went south, it would go way south.

Derek got there in record time, casting a glare hot enough to burn at Stiles, before approaching his cousins. There was a moment that the two alphas eyed each other before she threw her arms open, laughing as she beckoned him into a hug.

He hugged her, but something about the set of his shoulders told Stiles he wasn’t as relaxed as he was pretending to be.

Not that he was pretending very well.

“So, aren’t you going to introduce everyone? You’re the only one that knows all of our names cousin.” Derek nodded and turned to the pack. His eyes flashed as he took in the pack, asserting his power over the ones under his control and letting the three humans know to be on their best behavior.

“Jackson, Scott, and Lydia are my betas. Allison, Danny and Stiles are the humans in the pack. Pack, this is the Monroe pack from Oregon. This is Chastity. Her second is Charlie. The rest of the betas are Amelia, Sarah, Vaughn, Richie and Leo.”

The group seemed to nod as one. They were all betas besides Chastity, with Charlie being her second, him being to Chastity what Derek had been to first Laura and then Peter. At least they knew where the other stood now.

“It’s been a while cousin.” Derek nodded, turning and giving the pack his back. The move made Stiles feel a little uncomfortable, not being able to see the alpha’s expressions, but it was unavoidable. Chastity had positioned herself so that she was now surrounded by her group, with Charlie right at her side.

As she stepped forward, Charlie moved with her. The move seemed so synchronized that something about it clicked. He wasn’t just her second because he was the best. He was her mate.

If it turned out that they weren’t bad news, Stiles might have to ask them how it worked.

“You should have called. My betas were caught unaware. We’ve had a lot of issues lately.” Chastity sniffed at the air and then smiled.

“Oh, we know all about that. We ran into a bit of an issue ourselves on the way down here, although not to the scale you’ve caught. Rogue hunters, little cousin?”

They kept referring to him as a little cousin, but he looked about their age. Plus, Stiles wasn’t sure they were actually related to him. Unless they just referred to them as cousins because of the share lycanthropy or whatever.

“This is the second group. We disposed of the first. These are more subtle in their attacks than the first.”

Chastity smiled, casting a glance at Stiles that felt too intended to be an accident. Did she know what the first ones had done? How could she?

“You also have your own town hunters. Playing nicely so they won’t put a bullet in your head?” Stiles watched Allison tense but she didn’t say anything. None of them did.

“The local hunter and I have an understanding. We’re not breaking their code so we are not in any danger.”

Chastity nodded, casting a glance at Charlie who smirked. It was unnerving how well they seemed to read each other. Mates. It had to be mates.

“You’ll have to let him know about your relatives being in town. We’ll play by his rules as well.” Her reference that it was a male made Stiles pretty sure that they’d done their research before approaching them.

They were so out skilled. It wasn’t fair because the Monroe pack seemed to know everything but Derek hadn’t even told the pack anything about these “cousins”.

“I’ll have to tell him how long you’re planning on being in town.”

It was a not so subtle hint to know when they were leaving. She seemed to know it and smiled anyways.

“Just a few weeks. Family business.”

Derek’s shoulders tensed a bit more.

“You have no family business here anymore Chastity. This is Hale territory. Beacon Hills is off limits.” She grinned wildly, pulling off her glasses and showing her red eyes in all of their glory. A growl from one of her betas escaped but a glance from Charlie shut them up.

“We’re not moving in on your territory cousin. You can keep Beacon Hills. We’re just enjoying the scenery. It’s been a while since we’ve traveled.”

Derek nodded, shoulders bowed up almost to his ears as he contained himself. However he did lean forward, lowering his voice although everyone, even the humans, could still hear him.

“You’ll be gone before the next full moon. No negotiation.”

He turned to the pack and jerked his head. Without a word, they all stood and started to move away from the other werewolves, with Jackson, Scott and Lydia mostly walking backwards to watch them.

Once they were at the parking lot, the group all slumped against their cars. Derek was standing stiffly just away from them, glaring in the distance.

“Go home. Stay there. All of you.”

Everyone slipped off, metaphorical tails between their legs, leaving only Derek and Stiles. He stepped forward, trying to approach Derek, but he held a hand out and stopped him.

He cast a glare at Stiles before purposefully turning to the jeep. Stiles got in, expecting Derek to join him so that he could yell at him, but the man stomped towards his own car and started it up. He waited for a second before blaring his horn, making Stiles take off.

He put on his blinker, aimed towards Derek’s house, but a text came through that made Stiles frown.

Go home Stiles

He bit his lip, checking his rearview mirror before typing in a reply.

You’re pissed, aren’t you?

The reply was instant.

Go home

----------------

At home, Stiles was trying to figure out if Derek was more pissed at him than the rest of the pack, but he didn’t have to think too hard on it. Derek had specifically told him to go home after practice, he had said he would, he didn’t and then he had put himself in danger.

Of course Derek was more pissed at him than the rest of them.

Not long after coming to that conclusion, his phone started to ring in his pocket. He struggled to get it out, heart racing at the thought that it was Derek and they were going to talk about it, but his hope was dashed when he saw Allison’s name.

“Hello.” Slumped against the headboard of his bed, he crossed his arms across his chest and kept his head tilted so that his phone wouldn’t fall off of his shoulder.

“Hey Stiles. Listen, we’ve come to the brilliant conclusion that we don’t want to be caught alone with this new pack so we’re always going to try to travel together. But especially us humans. Danny is sticking with Jackson and Lydia will be too since she’s not trained in fighting in her wolf form yet. Obviously I’ll be with Scott.”

Stiles thought about it. He’d rather be with Danny, Lydia and Jackson but that would feel a little too much like a double date for Stiles to be able to take it seriously.

“Do you mind if I tag along with you and Scott?” He heard her sigh and was about to take it back, but then he heard her laugh.

“I’m so glad you said that. I know it’s been a while since you and Scott got to be you and Scott since all of this happened. I know with me there it’ll be different, but I hate thinking your friendship is suffering because of me.”

Stiles opened his mouth, either intent on telling her that they did suffer because of her or that they didn’t, but instead he started talking about the history class they had together and what she was thinking about the final paper they were going to have to write.

They talked about school work for about an hour, comparing schedules and final projects or papers that were going to kill them at the end of their senior year. When they hung up, Stiles felt a little easier.

He really liked Allison, she was a great girl, but despite how much they were in love, he thought she deserved a lot more than Scott. And Scott deserved… someone on his skill level. That was probably mean, but Stiles was bitter and the best friend, so he’s allowed to say it.

The next time his phone rang, it was Derek and Stiles almost dropped the phone in his rush to answer it.

“Hello, Derek?” He waited for a second, listening for any sign that the older man was actually on the line. He was about to speak again, because no way was he hanging up right now, but Derek spoke.

“I told you to go home after practice Stiles. Straight home.” Stiles tensed because yes, Derek had told him that and yes, Stiles had agreed.

What’s done is done, as Stiles didn’t always say but was willing to if it made his point.

“I know. Does it help if I say that I realize what a stupid decision it was now? Seriously a monumentally stupid decision. Won’t happen again. I just thought that if I was with the pack, nothing would happen, right? Even if something did, I was with the pack. Total badasses or whatever. Can you blame me for thinking that I was safe?”

He heard a growl that sounded a lot closer than just through the phone. He glanced at his bedroom door to make sure it was shut and locked before going to the window and letting his werewolf boyfriend in.

He was making progress if he didn’t just slip in on his own.

“Jackson and Scott aren’t going to be able to protect you by themselves against the hunters. It is going to take all of us and careful planning but they aren’t going to mind just taking down a few if it means they get what they want.”

Derek stalked towards Stiles, crowding him against the wall, eyes flashing dangerously as he tried to control himself. Knowing that not only was the werewolf scratching at the edges but that Derek was probably still dosed by whatever those maniac hunters had given him and this was dangerous territory, Stiles decided to play the submissive just so that Derek could calm down.

He tilted his head to offer his neck, dropped his eyes to show contrition and prayed his heart rate wasn’t too high as his fear rose.

“I’m sorry.” Derek snorted as he bent down, sniffing against Stiles’ neck before placing his mouth against the tendon there. He didn’t bite, didn’t kiss, just left his mouth there.

They stayed that way for a few minutes, Stiles fingers twisted in Derek’s jacket and Derek’s hands like vices on Stiles’ waist, before he had to break the silence.

“On the subject of saying things and them not being the truth, do you want to tell me why you lied about… well, a lot, but let’s start with you knowing who those guys were that drove up to your house that day and asked for the Monroe household?”

Derek stiffened but didn’t pull away. When he spoke, his lips brushed against Stiles’ pulse point.

“I thought they would go through me and I would have time to break it to everyone else. I didn’t know that they… I wasn’t prepared for it.” It had to take a lot for him to say that. Stiles used his grip on Derek’s jacket to pull him closer, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and burying his face into the alpha’s neck.

“Just because you don’t know how to say something, doesn’t mean you should lie to me. Not to me Derek. Alpha or not, you’re still my boyfriend and I’m going to see that as lying to me in the relationship and that’s just not going to sit well.”

Especially when you piled it on top of all the other lies he probably told. Stiles bit his tongue for now.

“The pack is gathering tomorrow after practice and after you and Lydia get off of work. I don’t know where yet, probably Lydia’s house. I need to tell you everything about the Monroe’s to prepare you.”

A shiver ran down his back, making Stiles move closer to Derek for comfort. Derek seemed to sense the reason because he tightened his grip on Stiles.

“Are they going to be trouble?” Derek sighed, shaking his head.

“Not if I have any say in it.”

He pulled back, forcing Stiles to meet his eyes. They were calm once more, crinkled at the sides as he held in a smile. He bent down, captured Stiles’ lips and dominated the kiss. It was rough, one of Derek’s hands on his neck to keep him in position, but Stiles had no complaints. It was one of those kisses that told Stiles that Derek only thought about him, no matter if they were fighting or not.

It might bruise his mouth and his dad would give him a knowing look later, but it was the biggest comfort Stiles could get at this point.

Chapter Text

Work felt twice as long as usual because Stiles wanted nothing more than to just leave. Lydia must have felt the same way because she couldn’t sit still. She straightened the autobiography section twice before the librarian came in and told them they could leave.

“Call and ask where we are meeting up.” They climbed into his jeep together. It made Stiles wonder why Lydia even bothered getting her license. She had access to a car at her house but she preferred to ride with someone else.

“Why don’t you ever drive anywhere Lydia?” She opened her mouth to respond and then shut it for a second. He gestured for her to speak and she sighed.

“If I have to rely on someone else, the likelihood of something happening to me while I’m out is lessened.”

Stiles opened his mouth, but didn’t have a response so he shut it. It was true. Being out by yourself means you’re able to be caught by surprise. Having to carpool reduced that chance. It was actually kind of smart.

“I’m going to call Derek.” He dialed his boyfriend’s number and waited for him to answer.

The pack ended up at Stiles’ house since his was the only one without an adult for the time being. Everyone spread out in his living room, on the couch and on the floor, keeping themselves occupied doing homework or nothing at all until Derek got there.

When he came in through the back door, silent except to those with enhanced hearing, Stiles could feel the apprehension in the room. It was almost tangible. Except that it wasn’t because it was a feeling, but still, Stiles could swear the room felt twice as full as they waited.

“So. What can you tell us about your cousins?” Derek sat down on the couch next to Stiles, his hand on Stiles’ leg and squeezing a bit before placing his palms against his own legs.

“I’m only actually related to Chastity, but even that is distantly. Her mom’s is my mom’s cousin. Her dad was their alpha. I guess he must have passed away at some point if she’s the alpha now.”

Everyone was listening intently. Derek’s eyes were roaming their faces, making sure they all understood what he was saying.

“None of them were made. All of her pack are born werewolves. Her family was more stuck up that way.” Which told Stiles that they bit to kill often enough. The thought made Stiles shiver but a look from Derek told him that wasn’t the worst of it.

“They know how to live with humans, but they prefer not to. They live on a secluded piece of land, owned through the government I think, that means no one can trespass. It’s gated and guarded to extreme measures. They are more… wild than my family.”

The pause before the word wild made it sound more sinister than it should have been. Except that it was supposed to be sinister.

“So they pick berries and usually have twigs in their hair?” Biting his tongue from commenting on the way that Derek lived before they worked on his house, Stiles shot a glance at Scott that obviously said that was a stupid question. Even if it was supposed to be sarcastic, which Stiles felt was probably not the case, it was stupid.

He wasn’t the only one giving Scott that look either.

“No, meaning they aren’t adapted to living with humans the way my family was. They are more in touch with their change than normal. Stronger than normal.”

Despite his words, Derek didn’t sound defeated or worried. His voice was strong and he seemed confident that their strength didn’t matter.

“Is that why their eyes stayed their colors rather than being normal?” That was Jackson, who had leaned forward when they had all sat down. He hadn’t enjoyed being put to the test the way he had been. He hadn’t liked feeling like he’d come up lacking either.

“Yes. Their eyes stay their designating colors.”

Lydia reached up and touched the area right beside her eye as if wondering what that would be like. To walk around with the glowing green that her eyes turned? Stiles imagined it wouldn’t be very easy. People would ask questions. They would have to go through extremes to make it so that it wouldn’t be noticed.

Except the Monroe’s stayed away from humans so they didn’t have to worry about it.

“So what is their family business? That’s what she said, right?” Derek nodded, leaning back and rubbing his palms against his leg as if they were sweaty.

“It’s not an actual business; it’s just how she refers to their recruitment.” That pulled everyone up short.

“Recruitment? I thought you said they don’t change people? All of theirs are born?” Stiles could feel his chest thud painfully. Everyone seemed as confused as he was though, so at least it wasn’t just him.

“They go around and find born werewolves and recruit them to their pack. It’s usually just something you acknowledge but they take it a step further and the alpha, which is Chastity, would bite them. It makes them docile and more submissive if done by the right alpha. It’s why her betas seemed more like cyborgs than living, breathing people.”

They had seemed strange. The way they reacted when Charlie had growled at them.

It brought up the question of a mate controlling the betas, what Stiles was thinking might be happening with him and the others, but he kept it to himself.

“Well you’re the only born werewolf here, right? So what, are they going to try to recruit you? How would that work?” Derek shook his head, glancing down at his hands and taking a few deep breaths before speaking.

“Technically they can’t recruit me because I’m an alpha. But there are certain circumstances when they can. I don’t think it matters. I’m the only born werewolf here so they’ll be leaving once they realize I’m not rolling over.”

Stiles took a deep breath, glad that he didn’t need to worry about that, but as he released it something told him to check Derek’s face. He looked at him, tried to get the older man to meet his eyes, but he wouldn’t.

He was lying. Again. To all of them. Stiles opened his mouth but shut it when Derek gave him a harsh look.

If anyone else caught it, they didn’t say anything.

It seemed like all Derek did these days was lie to them. He had to have his reasons, Stiles didn’t see him doing it just because he could, but that didn’t make it any better. It made it worse. They were a pack. They had to rely on each other, trust each other. What did it say if their alpha didn’t trust them?

Without voicing his concerns, Stiles slumped against the couch cushion and watched the rest of the group for their reactions. Everyone seemed a little shell shocked at the information, maybe a little less wary, but Stiles didn’t buy it. He couldn’t understand why they were buying it though.

Except he knew why. Despite being pack, they didn’t know Derek like he did. They couldn’t tell just by his facial expressions-- you know, the few he actually used-- that someone was wrong.

“So that’s that. Stick together. If you see any of the Monroe pack, get out of there without making a scene. And if you find yourself with them, don’t talk about the pack. They want information and it’s up to you not to give it to them.”

Stiles cast a covert glance at Scott and Jackson and tried not to remember all of the times they said something to someone they really shouldn’t have.

They were doomed.

------------

After everyone left, Derek leaving last after probably too long of a make out session considering Stiles had wanted to ask him questions and never got around to it, Stiles started to clean up. His dad would get home later and their living room looked like… well, like a bunch of werewolf teenagers had laid about for a couple of hours.

Half way through actually getting something done, there was a knock at the front door. It startled Stiles because most of the pack wouldn’t bother knocking. Or at least if they did, they’d open the door straight away afterwards. Especially if they knew his dad wasn’t there.

There was a window next to the door that Stiles tried to stealthily glance out of but was shocked to be met with a blonde haired, red eyed, smiling female alpha.

“Fuck.”

“I heard that. C’mon kid, just open the door.” Stiles resisted the urge to bang his head against the door, unlocking it and pulling it open.

“Hi. Can I come in?” Chastity didn’t have her posse with her, which was both surprising and a little suspicious. Stiles gave her a fake smile and shook his head, hoping his heart wasn’t beating too fast in his chest.

“Sorry, don’t think my dad would approve.” He was going to make a comment about his young son being in a house alone with a girl, but she made a tsk-ing nose and shook her head.

“He wouldn’t approve of one person but he’d be okay with the entire group you had in here earlier? Probably a good thing daddy dearest isn’t a wolf or he’d smell everything that happened.”

She pushed past Stiles, giving him a wide smile as she glanced around the room. Stiles had no choice but to push the door close and try to hide his nerves.

Smell everything that happened… oh god.

“I thought you smelt too much like my cousin to just be in his pack. You’re definitely a human so that wasn’t it. I could think of only one other reason you’d smell like him so much.” She was looking at the pictures over the fireplace, the few that remained of his mother before she had passed.

It felt like she was invading his privacy, too intimate. She didn’t know him and had no right to look at those pictures. He would have said as much, but he felt himself frozen in place.

Mates. That’s all his mind was telling him. He held his breath and waited. She seemed to get the hint because she continued speaking.

“Obviously that you’re screwing him. Or I guess he’s screwing you, since I don’t see him rolling over for a human. Not even one as adorable as you. No offense or anything.” He forced himself to bite his tongue.

Derek had said not to tell anything about the pack and that probably included that they were both active participants in their sex life.

“I don’t care that he’s gay. I mean, it’s a good thing his family is dead because they’d probably flip shit, but whatever. Whoever he fucks is his business.” She turned her nose up at a few of the family photos before spinning around and smiling at Stiles very much as if she hadn’t just insulted him and his boyfriend.

And really there was some serious anger over what she’d said about Derek’s family, supposedly her distant family, but he held it in. He knew he couldn’t hold his own against her, but he was tempted to try anyways.

At the very least he knew where his dad kept the spare gun.

“Are you here for a reason or did you just feel like stopping by?” She smiled, patting her pockets and pulling out a pack of cigarettes. She offered one to Stiles but he shook his head. Instead of lighting up, which he figured she would since she pulled them out, she placed them back in her pocket.

“Getting information from my cousin is going to be like pulling teeth. Very angry teeth. Our last parting wasn’t very friendly, to say the least.” She picked up a book off of the desk in the corner before placing it down again gently. Her voice had softened a bit, sincere I a way he hadn’t expected.

Not that he trusted her. Not even close.

“So you came here to what, pick my brain?” Poor choice of words. She shrugged and then plopped onto the couch, the same place that Derek had vacated not too long before.

“Not in so many words. Listen Stiles, it’s not like I’m trying to take over here. Whatever you’ve been told, it’s not like that. We’re here scoping out new territories because we’re thinking of moving. Plus I wanted to check in on my cousin. He didn’t get full guidance before his family died so there’s a lot about the life he doesn’t know.”

He thought about Chris and Derek’s lies and how everything seemed to be missing a huge chunk these days. He thought about the word that had been haunting him for a while now. He thought about Lydia and how not even Chris seemed to know how she survived or what to expect.

“I don’t feel comfortable talking to you about pack stuff.” She nodded, getting up and stretching a bit. He was getting used to the eeriness that came with her eyes always being red.

“Of course, I get it. I’m sure he will give in at some point.” She started towards the door, pulling her glasses on as she went. At the door, she stopped and turned around, biting her lip before tapping her chin a few times.

“I have an idea. Why don’t you mention to my cousin that he should give me the information that I need?” Stiles tried not to snort, he really did. He just also really failed.

“Why do you think he’d listen to me?” She smiled, a little falteringly as if she was sure that should have been obvious.

“Because you’re his mate. He has to listen to you.”

There was a moment before it registered what she said and how she said it. His throat closed up and his eyes got wide, but before he could say anything, deny it or confirm it or beg for information on it, she had slipped out of the front door.

As he ran out to find her, figure out what the hell she meant by that, he saw that she had disappeared and his dad was pulling in.

“Hey kiddo. How was school?” Stiles opened his mouth to answer but his mind was still reeling and he was unable to make any sound come out. His dad eyed him wearily before speaking again.

“That good, huh?”

--------------

He should tell Derek what happened. About her showing up, about the mates thing. He should tell him, ask him, beat him until he tells the truth, but he didn’t know how.

What he did know how to do was break the rules. He waited for his dad to fall asleep before sneaking out and starting his jeep. After making sure it didn’t wake his dad, mostly by waiting to see if he ran out of the house and started yelling, he took off down the street.

He didn’t know how it was going to go, but he knew he had to talk to Derek.

When he pulled up in front of the Hale house, Derek’s house now, he swallowed thickly before cutting off the engine. There’d be no mistaking the distinct sound of his jeep, that was plain as day.

He barely made it out of the seat when he heard the banging of the front door hitting the inside wall. Derek was only wearing a pair of pajama pants which was… a good look on him. The scowl and red eyes however… was also a good look, just not while directed at him.

“What are you doing here?” He was standing on the gravel in bare feet, although it probably didn’t even bother him. It made Stiles wince though just thinking about it.

“I needed to talk to you.” Derek growled, moving just a few inches closer. There were still a few feet between them but it felt like centimeters with the glare that Derek was giving him.

“At one o’clock in the morning? You could have called.” Stiles shook his head, trying not to be afraid of his boyfriend. His alpha.

He wasn’t sure which one he was in this moment though. Usually he could tell the difference between Derek the alpha and Derek the man, but now?

“I can’t tell what’s going on in your head over the phone and I’m getting sick of being lied to, so I figured this was the best way to go about it.” Derek stepped closer, his growl coming from somewhere in his chest if the low timbre was anything to go off of.

“What have I lied about?” Stiles gaped, a look he found himself taking on fairly often, before snapping his mouth shut.

“You lied about knowing the people that asked for the Monroes, you lied today about them not getting you to roll over or whatever, you’ve lied about knowing about the connection, you’ve lied about knowing different things with the hunters. I don’t know what else you’ve lied about.”

Derek slammed his fist against the jeep’s roof beside Stiles’ head, making the teen back up and try to calm down his breathing.

“I explained why I lied about my cousins.” Stiles gestured as wildly as he could with Derek as close as he was.

“And everything else?” He knew that Derek was pissed, eyes flickering vibrant red in a way that actually kind of terrified Stiles, but he was pissed too.

“What they want with me doesn’t involve the pack. I didn’t know everything about the connection, I had theories. And the hunters is what I went through, I had nothing to do with--”

Stiles poked his finger into Derek’s ribs which, yeah, poking an angry werewolf was not the best plan he’d come up with. Derek grabbed his wrist and held it away from him, grip tight but not bruising. Not yet.

“If you say that it had nothing to do with the pack, I’m going to stab you with something. You’re a born werewolf; you have to know what being a pack means. It means doing things together, not taking them onto yourself. We share the responsibilities, you asshole.”

Derek tightened his grip just a fraction before dropping Stiles’ wrist, returning his hands to either side of Stiles’ head. The move brought them close, intimate but too pissed off to do anything about it.

Stiles knew that Derek was repressing something, anger or something else he wasn’t sure. His breathing was rapid, tried and failed to be kept controlled.

“I know it’s difficult. You went from a family to nothing and now you have this ragtag bunch of teens as a pack but guess what, you have us. And a pack is about trust right? Well lying to us is not trusting us. Not respecting us. Don’t we deserve that?”

He tried to keep himself calm, didn’t attack Derek and struggled to keep his voice calming. Derek took a few deep breaths before stepping back a bit.

“I can’t rely on people unless I’ve bribed them into it.” It felt like a punch, like a fist landed to his gut or a kick in the ribs. Stiles shook his head, not buying it for a second.

“So what, you can’t rely on me? You don’t trust me?”

It wasn’t personal, it was pack. Except that in this pack, it was personal. They were in a relationship. It always seemed to come back to that with them.

“It’s not like that Stiles. I just meant--” Derek was backtracking, eyes downcast but still flashing angrily. Stiles shook his head against and pushed forward causing Derek to step back again.

“You don’t get to play that card. You don’t get to say things and then take them back, alright? I don’t just help you because I have to because we’re pack. I do it because I care and because you… you deserve this stuff and if I have to give it to you, I don’t care.”

Derek opened his mouth to cut Stiles off but he kept on.

“No, you don’t get to speak now because I’m tired of hearing it. You’ll say something and I’ll give in because you’re the alpha but right now you need to be my boyfriend because I’m sick of this shit. I love you and I deserve to be told the truth.”

At first nothing clicked. Derek’s face was still mostly downcast but then it wasn’t, then he was staring right at Stiles with his eyes red and wide, alarmed and potentially still angry.

He shouldn’t have snapped, but it had been building. He knew he couldn’t just order the alpha around, tell him not to speak, that he’s tired of it, that he…

Oh god. Stiles fell against the jeep as he went over the words once more.

I love you I love you I love you I love you

They repeated themselves in his head over and over as he watched Derek’s face, unchanged except his eyebrows going towards his hairline. It didn't matter because he did, he really did love Derek. It came as a surprise, because he hadn't thought about it and it just slipped out, but it was true. God, was this how Scott felt when he realized that he loved Allison?

He waited, waited for the response. It’s not like he expected Derek to say it back. Not really.

“You’re seventeen. You don’t know anything about love.”

That feeling was back, the one where it was like he’d been kicked in the ribs. This time it was more painful, his lungs felt collapsed and his eyesight was a little off. He couldn’t believe… he hadn’t expected… but this?

“What does that--” He didn’t know how to finish that but Derek seemed to get the gist of it anyways. He stepped back, shook his head.

“That day when you had detention and I picked you up. I was beating myself up because of the thoughts I had about you. You were sixteen at the time, I’m twenty four.” It felt like a lie. It had to be a lie. He said as much.

“It didn’t seem to bother you so much when you had your hand down my pants.”

He wouldn’t let Derek pull this card, not now. Not after all of this time. He didn’t get to play the noble one and bow out gracefully because fuck it, Stiles did love him. If Derek couldn’t say things and then take them back, why should Stiles? And he didn’t want to.

“You’re too young to mentally understand love. It has nothing to do with the physical.”

He was backing up as he said it, as if he knew it was bullshit and knew Stiles would call him on it. Possibly physically. He wanted to hit him but he wasn’t sure his hand could withstand the pain. He’d almost broken his fingers enough lately.

“When do I become old enough to mentally understand it then, huh? What age do I need to be? Your age? My dad’s age? Because my parents met when they were fifteen and never dated anyone else. That was it for them. So are you saying they didn’t love each other?”

He was pissed. He was pissed and hurting and pissed because he was hurting and hurting because he was pissed. It was an ugly cycle that he couldn’t break. He could feel where this was headed but he wanted to stop it, wanted to fix it.

“It’s not about age Stiles. It’s just maturity. You’re not mature enough to handle what it implies.” That made Stiles laugh, half hysterical and half actual humor. He might be immature but he could damn well handle loving Derek.

Unless he meant…

“Handle what it implies? Does loving you mean… are we mates Derek? Because Chastity said I was your mate and--”

Suddenly there was no room between Derek and Stiles anymore, Derek was inches away and right in his face. His eyes were stormy, red and swirling and absolutely frightening. This was Derek, he tried to tell himself, but it wasn’t working. The drugged wolf was clawing at the surface and Stiles just wasn’t sure he’d be able to stop it this time.

“When did you talk to Chastity?” And that was the kicker, wasn’t it? He’d come here to talk about that and had gotten completely off track.

“She came by the house today. She said I smelt like you, like we’d been… well…” He gestured helplessly because they had gotten pretty hot and heavy on the couch but they hadn’t even done anything together since that fun night when Derek had introduced hand jobs into their sexual experiences.

Derek moved in a little closer, hand tightening on Stiles’ arm and taking a deep breath to calm himself.

“I want you to answer very clearly Stiles. Did you tell her anything about the pack?” He was offended, hurt by the question. Derek should know better. He said as much but Derek repeated the question.

“No, damn, I didn’t say anything about the pack. She came to the house after you left, said I smelled like you, talked about wanting to just chat with you basically, and then she said that I was your mate.”

She would know, wouldn’t she? She had a mate. She would know what it meant, what the signs were, if they were.

“And it didn’t occur to you that she might lie to get what she wanted from you?” Stiles opened his mouth to respond but it snapped shut. He repeated the action a few times before he found his words.

“She didn’t want anything from me except to tell you to talk to her. That’s all. So why would she lie for that?” Derek shook his head, closing his eyes and muttering something under his breath.

“It doesn’t matter. You still can’t handle the implications Stiles. What you think you know and feel, you don’t.” He started to walk away and Stiles felt his stomach drop.

No. That wasn’t it. It couldn’t be.

“Okay, so I can’t handle being your mate and I can’t handle loving you and I can’t handle… Then why are you with me?”

Derek kept walking towards the house but his shoulders drew up at that. Stiles shook his head and started to follow him, tripping over his feet a few times in his rush.

“No, tell me. If I can’t handle that and that’s the endgame right, then why are you with me at all?”

He was screaming at this point, hands shaking and heart relocating somewhere about his toes. He felt hollow but he kept moving, waiting for an answer.

He wasn’t giving up without a fight.

But Derek didn’t seem to want to fight. He simply slipped into the house, locking the door behind him. Stiles banged on the door for ten minutes until his hands felt sore and bruised. Then he made his way back to the jeep, feeling numb.

Halfway home he pulled over, breathing erratic and unable to do more than gasp. He wasn’t crying, not really, but his eyes felt swollen. A panic attack. He was having a panic attack.

In the middle of the attack, he felt the beginning of a headache. He hadn’t wished for a normal headache in a long time, but he did now. Instead he felt the spread of it, hitting his gut and making his entire body bow with the force of it.

Was this from him or from Derek? Did it matter anymore? If they weren’t together but the connection was still there, would it go away in time? Would he always be connected to Derek this way if they weren’t together?

It didn’t matter. He fought off the symptoms by remembering that afternoon with Derek, pressed against the couch and laughing into each other’s mouths, and decided then and there that it wouldn’t matter. He wasn’t letting go without a fight. If Derek thought they were through, he was wrong.

Because he’d finally admitted it, to himself and to Derek, but he did love him. And fuck if he was going to let Derek’s werewolf pride get in the way.

Once both the pain and panic attack had passed, he started the jeep again and started home. He knew that it would either get deleted or not responded to, but once he parked in the driveway, he pulled out his phone and typed up a quick message.

I hope you’re okay. I’m fine. We’ll talk about this.

He snuck into the house, feeling as if his skin was pulled to tight to cover the areas he didn’t want seen. His dad was snoring in his bedroom, none the wiser.

As he climbed into bed, his phone dinged. He pulled it out and looked at it, feeling his heart sink a bit more despite his earlier claim not to let go without a fight.

Nothing to talk about.

--------------

When he climbed into the back of Allison’s car, since they were supposed to stick together and decided to carpool to school to make it easier, both Allison and Scott could tell something was up.

Partially because Stiles was moping. Partially because he apparently looked awful.

“Dude, you look like you have a hangover. What happened last night?”

At first he tried to deny it, because he didn’t want his friends to know that Derek and Stiles potentially broke up, but he knew it was true. His dad had even commented on the fact that he looked like something out of a horror film, which would have been funny if it hadn’t sucked so much.

So instead of lying, imagine that, Stiles told both of them everything. About all of the lies Derek had told, about the meeting with Chastity, the mates thing, the mild breaking up thing. Allison kept shaking her head in refusal to believe it but Scott had turned around, eyes flashing.

“I don’t care if he’s my alpha, he doesn’t get to treat you like that.” Stiles couldn’t help but smile because yes it sucked but his best friend was willing to stand up for him and that was kind of awesome.

Before he could say that though, Allison butt in.

“I’m not saying that Derek doesn’t deserve a kick in the ass for that, because he totally does, but doesn’t something seem very strange about the whole thing? Off? You said yourself that he wasn’t acting like himself there at the end.”

That was true. Basically from the point that Stiles had said those three fateful and downright terrifying words, Derek had changed.

“So what are you saying, he was hypnotized at a young age and when you say something, he reverts to his asshole ways?” She made a noise, either a groan or a laugh, as she pulled into her parking spot. Jackson’s car wasn’t there yet and he was bringing Lydia and Danny, so they waited.

“That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that something seemed off and maybe you shouldn’t just jump to assuming you know what’s going on. Would it be the first time he’d lied to you to protect you? No. Do you honestly think he’s above lying to you about his feelings for you to protect you? Obviously not.”

That made sense, but when Stiles tried to speak, Scott broke in.

“Plus wasn’t he your age when he was whatever he was with Kate?”

The three of them stopped at the same time as that sunk in. Yea, he would have been around the same age as Stiles and she would have been around the same age as Derek. Fuck.

Stiles let his head drop onto the seat in front of him, huffing under his breath. Could it really be as simple as that? Derek shut down because Stiles said those three words and it could all be traced back to Kate? That maybe Derek had loved her and…

“Fuck. No offense Allison, but your aunt really liked fucking things up.” She made another noise in the back of her through, one that Stiles would feel bad about except she really did kind of fuck everything up. And she was evil. So he didn’t feel too bad.

“Why are you idiots just sitting there? We’re going to be late.” Jackson had somehow just appeared next to the car. They all slipped out, with the new arrivals shooting Stiles a worried look. He had to wonder how bad he looked if even Jackson looked concerned.

He got his answer when Harris sent him to the nurse. He told the nurse he didn’t sleep well and had a headache, which was true. It was a normal headache though, must have been because it didn’t intensify. She smiled and patted his arm, giving him some aspirin and sending him on his way.

He stopped by the bathroom on the way back to class. After doing his business, he checked his reflection in the mirror. He looked bad, contagious even. His eyes were red rimmed, dark skin circling them. The rest of his face was red as if he had a fever. He couldn’t even remember why he slept so poorly because he’d had less sleep than that before, plus he didn’t remember waking up any.

It was strange, but he was used to strange. Especially now that he wasn’t taking his medication as prescribed. He’d found he hadn’t needed it as much since the connection had flared up.

He splashed some water on his face ad made his way out of the bathroom and back to the classroom. He was passing a long line of windows when something outside caught his eye. He could just barely make out the parking lot from there and standing next to Allison’s car was… Charlie? Chastity’s second was watching the window, sunglasses perched on his nose and arms crossed.

When he noticed Stiles looking, he crooked his finger as if to summon him out there. The last time Stiles had been alone with one of the Monroe pack, Derek had gotten fairly angry.

Not like that was going to stop him.

Stiles snuck out through a side door and made his way into the parking lot. The worse that could happen would be he’d get detention. Not like it was the first time. Doubt it would be the last. He waited until Charlie turned his way and then stopped walking with enough distance between them that hopefully he’d be able to at least partially get out of the way before something happened.

“You can probably get arrested for lurking on school property you know.” Charlie shrugged and leaned against Allison’s car. In a way that was definitely not intimidating. Not at all.

Really, the guy was as big as a house. He was petrifying when he didn’t have his girlfriend there to control the leash.

“Just thought I’d stop by, see how the conversation with Chas went yesterday. She can be a handful sometimes.”

Stiles had all kinds of smartass remarks but he bit his tongue.

“Went swimmingly. Now, I’m missing an important lecture in whatever class I’m supposed to be in, so if you’ll excuse me…”

He started towards the school but Charlie’s voice stopped him. Or less his voice and more of what he said.

“Have the headaches started yet?” Stiles swung around because that was the last thing he’d expected to hear someone ask about. He took a few cautious steps forward, careful to keep Allison’s car between them.

“What headaches?” Charlie shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest again.

“I get them sometimes when Chastity isn’t around. Usually just when we’ve been fighting actually. It’s an emotional attachment as well as a physical one.”

He focused on the headache pounding between his temples and found himself doubling over with the force of it. He hadn’t even noticed it for most of the day but now it was there and he knew without a doubt what it was. The connection. His connection with Derek.

“Is it supposed to feel like this?” Charlie nodded and knelt beside Stiles, muttering under his breath as he did so. When the pain subsided, going back to the dull ache just behind his eyes, Charlie shook his head.

“Little cousin hasn’t prepared you for this, has he?” Stiles breathed in deeply before shaking his head.

“It’s not his fault. He doesn’t know. His parents died before--” Charlie laughed, the noise cutting Stiles off midway through it.

“His family dying was a tragedy, sure, but that doesn’t mean anything. We’re werewolves, it’s instinct for us to mate.”

They both plopped onto the ground, crouched behind Allison’s car and out of sight of the windows. Stiles hadn’t even thought about how odd it would luck if they were discovered. He just knew he was finally getting some answers.

“Is it a choice?” Charlie shrugged, taking off his sunglasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. It spoke to the headache that Charlie had mentioned.

Wonder what they had fought about last, Stiles couldn’t help but think.

“Somewhat. You recognize the person as what your mate should be, but you don’t have to acknowledge it. Chas and I did right away because we knew that we were it for each other. Sometimes though you can fight it, push it into the back and deal with the side effects until it gets to be too much.”

Stiles could see Derek’s face every time he had brought up mates, every time they discussed the connection, the times that Derek had said he had theories about the connection between them. He knew. He had known this whole time.

“What happens when you mate with a human? Or your mate is a human?” Charlie shrugged a bit, pulling his sunglasses back on.

“It is different, obviously. For him and for you. He can sense you in ways you can’t sense him. And when two werewolves are denying the connection together, they are stronger with it. But one werewolf denying the connection with a human? If they do it for too long, they become weak. Vulnerable. You’re stronger in packs and stronger with a mate.”

It sounded so real, but he heard Derek’s voice asking if Chastity wouldn’t lie to get what she wanted. What did they want? Stiles couldn’t see an endgame here.

“Why are you telling me this stuff? What do you get out of it?” The laugh that that brought out of the older werewolf was actually a little startling.

“Listen, what Chastity’s business is here is her own. I am with her because I love her and I will always be with her. For you it is a choice at this point. You are not mated to our cousin; you are not stuck with him. I just thought you might make an educated decision if you knew the facts.”

If they mated, there was a high chance that Derek would want to turn him. He knew that not all bitten took the change, not all survived if they did. He knew that Derek would also never put him in that position if he could help it.

“Your pack doesn’t have any turned werewolves. All of yours were born.” Charlie nodded, getting a little tense. It was okay for them to pry into each other’s relationships, but were packs off limits?

“If her business is to get new recruits, why is she here? The only born werewolf is Derek and he’s an alpha. He can’t bow to her because the hierarchy won’t accept it. He can’t mate with her because of you. And I guess because of me. So why?”

Charlie didn’t owe him an explanation. In fact the guy actually scared him shitless, but Stiles wanted to know.

“She cannot make Derek bow but she can supersede his authority and take his pack.” The words made Stiles feel sick and he tried to hold it in. Not that he had anything in his stomach to throw up in the first place.

“Take his pack? Supersede his authority? By what, killing him?”

Charlie ducked his head, eyes already covered by his sunglasses but obviously no longer even looking at Stiles. His stomach turned and he heaved a bit but nothing came out.

“She can’t do that. We’re his pack and we won’t answer to her.” There was a pat on Stiles’ shoulder as Charlie stood up.

“If it comes to that, and I’m not saying it will, but if it does? You won’t have a choice. Not even you.”

Stiles watched as he stalked away. Everything made a little more sense now, but at the same time it was more dangerous than before.

Now not only did they have the hunters wanting to kill them, but they possibly had Chastity wanting to kill Derek and take over the pack.

The bell rang, telling Stiles he completely missed the rest of his class. Not to mention that his headache wasn’t gone in the least.

-------------

After school, Stiles wanted to meet up with everyone and get their opinions on what Charlie had told him, except that they had practice and talking about a random chick wanting to kill someone was not the best conversation to have in a locker room. Not that they hadn't had worse conversations in there before.

The boys had lacrosse practice and like every time before, the girls decided they would stay. Halfway to the pitch however, Stiles noticed someone was missing.

“Where is Danny?” Scott glanced around the group, as if Stiles had somehow looked around and just not seen Danny standing with them. Not like Danny was one of the tallest guys in their group or anything.

Jackson did the same thing though, so maybe Scott shouldn’t suffer the blame alone.

“He better not have gone far. He has my car keys.” They shifted uncomfortably, the girls visibly worried about their friend, Scott visibly confused, and Jackson visibly concerned for his car.

“Well let’s head out to the parking lot. Maybe he’s getting something out?” They started towards the lot, disregarding Scott’s grumbling that it didn’t take all of them to do it.

All Stiles could remember was Charlie waiting for him beside Allison’s car and once he spotted the Porsche, he forced his feet to move faster, dropping his equipment on the cement and breaking out in a run.

No one else moved because they couldn’t understand what happened. It was just a car; there was no one there, except there was. Somehow none of the wolves caught the scent, didn’t hear his heartbeat, didn’t smell the blood. Stiles had only caught a glimpse of his hand on the ground beside of the car but it was enough.

Danny was propped against the back wheel of Jackson’s car, holding his free arm to his bicep and shaking. There was blood staining his uniform but he didn’t look too injured.

“What the hell?” They rushed to his side, Stiles batting his hand away to look at what happened.

“I don’t know, I couldn’t move at first and my phone is in my locker but…”

It was a bite. There were definitely teeth marks on his arm. Stiles poked at it, trying to see more, but Danny slapped his hand back over the wound and winced.

“Was it… it wasn’t Chastity, was it?” Danny shook his head, wincing again as Lydia used the scarf in her hair to tie over the bite.

“No, it was Leo I think. One of the betas. Said it wouldn’t change me but I’d ‘feel it in the morning’.” Stiles looked at the group, opened his mouth to ask what the hell that meant, but was cut off by Danny seizing up in pain and then letting his head fall against the car.

“It feels like my arm is trying to turn itself inside out.”

They all looked at one another, knowing what they needed to do. Allison and Lydia stayed with Danny while the rest of the guys snuck back into the school to get their stuff and put up their equipment. They also grabbed Danny’s stuff and snuck back out of the school and back to the parking lot.

“Coach is going to be pissed. The co-captains of the team missing in the first week?” Jackson didn’t seem to care, more worried about his friend. They’d hear it tomorrow though. Probably have to run suicides or something equally fun.

They piled into both Allison and Jackson’s cars, speeding like crazy out of the parking lot towards Derek’s house. The entire ride was spent with Allison asking Stiles over and over if he was going to be okay with it or if he needed to be dropped off.

After what he’d found out from Charlie, he knew what his answer was going to be.

“I can’t avoid him forever. Whatever happens to us, I’m still in this pack. I don’t care what he thinks.”

Which was a lie, but also very much the truth. If they were over, which Stiles wasn’t very sure was true at all, he was still sticking with his friends.

Wasn’t really fair that Derek would get his heart and the kids in the divorce. Like he’d told himself already, plenty of times, he wasn’t giving up without a fight.

The pulled up in front of the house and climbed out, all of them making their way to the door with Jackson and Scott supporting a very weak Danny. He was sweating and pale, arm shaking separate from the rest of him.

“Derek, get your ass out here. We have a problem.”

There was a moment when Stiles wasn’t sure Derek would respond, especially since Stiles was the one that had yelled, but then the door opened. His eyes met Stiles’ first, searching for something before moving over to where Danny was being propped against the wall.

“What happened?” He pushed Scott away, not roughly but with enough force that he ended up beside Stiles. While he checked the wound, they all tried to explain what they had been told. Lydia took over once it was obvious that no one really knew what had happened.

“Danny went out to the car to get something and was attacked by one of the Monroe pack, Leo possibly. Bit his arm, said it wouldn’t change him but he’d feel it in the morning. We found him and brought him here. He said his arm feels like it’s being--” Derek breathed out a snort as he pulled away from the wound.

“Like it’s being turned inside out? Yeah, that’s about right. It’s an infection.” Stiles felt his jaw drop and he snapped it close when Allison shot him a disbelieving look. He couldn’t believe it either. Scott was the brilliant one to voice what was on everyone’s mind, just in the wrong way.

“So wait, if I bit someone, I could give them an infection?” Derek spun around and had Scott against the wall with a hand on his throat. The entire group moved forward but Stiles held a hand out. Scott wasn’t in danger.

He wasn’t sure why he knew that, but he did. Derek was proving a point, not trying to hurt him.

“You’ll never bite someone, so it doesn’t matter, but yes. If you bit someone with the intent to do it, you can give them an infection. Betas can’t turn someone but they can hurt them.” He held Scott there and Stiles watched as Scott actually flashed his eyes before bending his neck as much as he could.

“Was it an attack? Are we in danger?” Lydia had spun around to check their surroundings, probably half expecting an ambush since they were all just standing on the porch.

“No, it wasn’t an attack. But you need to come inside so I can explain it. I haven’t been completely honest with you guys.”

Stiles wanted to throw his hands in the air and whine, but he decided to take the mature road. Derek stayed outside while everyone moved in and Stiles avoided eye contact, not sure what he’d see if they’d met eyes. He had barely slipped in when Derek had wrapped a hand tightly around his wrist.

“We need to talk.” He wanted to be a smartass and repeat Derek’s text, say there wasn’t anything to talk about, but he shook his head instead.

“We do, but we need to help Danny first.” Derek nodded and released Stiles’ wrist, the two of them moving into the house and shutting the door.

Allison was checking Danny’s arm again, frown pulling at her lips as she looked at the inflamed area.

“It looks worse.” Derek nodded, moving beside of Allison and putting his hand on her arm, moving her away gently to look at it. While he prodded at it, accepting the antibacterial wipes from Lydia, he began speaking.

“It wasn’t an attack because they knew you’d bring him to me, that I’d know what it was. It’s a message. The Monroe pack is here for recruitment, but not of their usual type. They usually don’t take a turned wolf into their pack, but bred werewolves are getting to be more and more rare these days. Most families have begun breeding through humans now. Even my cousins, who used to be so pure, are electing to go through other means. They still, however, will not change someone themselves.”

He wanted to say that it sounded a lot like Muggles and half bloods and purebloods in Harry Potter, but Stiles kept his mouth shut. The reference wouldn’t be appreciated right then.

“So what is their plan?” Lydia was pacing, keeping her eyes on Derek’s form bent over Danny’s arm.

“They are probably going to try to go after the three humans in this pack, bite them so they become infected. The only battle for the infection is a bite from an alpha. Which will cure you, kill you, or turn you.”

The room fell silent and everyone seemed to hold their breath. Danny’s eyes, which had started to glaze over a bit, widened.

“You have to bite me?” Derek nodded, still inspecting the wound as if nothing was amiss.

“If they have their way and I change the three humans, Chastity will take over.” Everyone was still waiting to exhale, still waiting for the punch line.

“By killing you.” Derek lifted his head and looked at Stiles, eyes narrowing with suspicion on how he knew that. But he nodded and then looked at Danny.

“I have to bite you to save you. I won’t do it if you don’t want me to, but know that this will kill you in a few days otherwise.”

Danny gave a shuddering laugh, flopping onto the couch and covering his eyes with his good arm.

“Well I wanted the bite, right? No time like the present.” Derek nodded and stood up, moving so that he was looking directly down on Danny.

“The rest of you might not want to be in here. If something goes wrong…” He left that open to interpretation, but they didn’t need it. Danny could die.

It didn’t surprise Stiles one bit when no one moved. Everyone stayed where they were, waiting and watching. Derek nodded before bending down, poising his mouth over Danny’s arm where the other bite was.

It happened in seconds. He bent his head down, Danny let out a yell as the pain intensified, and then… Danny passed out. He was still breathing, obvious from the rise and fall of his chest, but he was unconscious.

“Is he…?” Lydia had a hand over her mouth, holding onto Jackson’s arm for dear life as they waited. Derek bent his head over Danny for a moment, listening or waiting for something. Whatever it was, he found it.

“He’ll be okay. The change will take.” Everyone let out a deep breath, laughing and hugging each other. Not that they did anything nerve wracking. All they did was stand there.

---------------

Danny went home with Jackson, with Derek telling them to call him if anything comes up. Lydia rode with Allison and Scott because when Stiles had tried to get in the car, Derek had reminded him that they needed to talk.

“What about the whole staying together thing?” Scott had already ducked in the car, having been turned into a whimpering pup once already that evening, while Allison was trying to keep out of it. Lydia, however, was having none of it. Stiles had tried to tell her it wasn’t important, but she was having none of it.

“I’ll take him home myself.” Lydia crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head.

“Does this mean you’re revoking that ridiculous ban on hanging out with you while the hunters are in town?” Derek rolled his eyes, crossing his own arms over his chest. He pulled off the intimidation technique a lot better, although Lydia was a close second in that regard.

“Like any of you actually paid attention to it. Now get out of here.” She slid into the car. Before they took off though, Allison popped her head back out of it. She did her best not to look at Derek as she spoke to Stiles.

“Listen, if something comes up, just call alright? I can be out here in ten minutes.”

She was essentially picking him over Derek in the divorce and that would have made Stiles laugh; only he knew it wasn’t over between them. He wouldn’t let it be.

They sped off, leaving Stiles alone with Derek. They needed to talk. About the fight, about being mates, about lying, about everything. Stiles turned around slowly to face Derek and took a deep breath. The older man had somehow come up behind him, only a few feet from him, eyes flashing red.

“You said we needed to talk?” Derek took a deep breath, calm except his eyes. Which was the terrifying part, honestly.

“I heard you had a talk with Charlie today.”

Stiles opened his mouth and laughed, hysterical and cut short as he bit down on his tongue. Of course that’s what they started with.

“Charlie was outside of the school. He wanted to chat.” Derek stepped just a bit closer, body not as tense as before but still rigid. He was holding something back.

Probably the urge to strangle Stiles for once again being alone with one of the Monroe pack.

“And the topic of your conversation was what exactly?” Stiles shifted on his feet. He hadn’t expected to just stand in the driveway when he’d told Derek they would talk.

“You know, the usual. His mildly insane girlfriend, your lack of a guidebook for werewolves, and mates.”

He almost choked on the word but thankfully he didn’t. He did have some pride. Derek moved forward once more, shortening the distance between them inch by slow inch.

“So he told you? About mating and what it means?” Stiles nodded. There was probably a lot more to it than Charlie had told him, but he knew the important parts.

“You going to tell me he was lying to get something from me?” Derek shook his head, glancing to the side. When he looked back, his eyes were no longer red but back to there normal color.

“Charlie stays out of pack politics.” Stiles nodded, feeling himself drawn a little closer to Derek.

“I’m too young and too immature, but we’re having this conversation. Are you admitting that we’re mates then?”

Derek laughed as he took another step forward. All Stiles would have to do would be to lift his hand and he’d be touching Derek.

He was tempted. Very much so.

“My denying it is the only thing keeping it from being permanent.”

Stiles swayed forward, careful to keep the space between him and Derek’s body, and then rose on his tiptoes. He placed his mouth next to Derek’s ear, taking a deep breath and then speaking.

“I am your mate and I want it to be permanent.”

Derek’s hand came up and grabbed his upper arm, pushing him away from him with a glare, but lacking in any real heat. They stared at one another until Derek growled, the noise starting in his chest, and pulled Stiles forward.

Their mouths crashed together painfully, more teeth than anything else, but it didn’t bother either of them. They hadn’t even been fighting for a full twenty four hours, but it felt like forever. Stiles licked into Derek’s mouth, tracing his tongue over the older man’s tongue, teeth, the roof of his mouth, and everywhere he could get.

Derek pulled back, making a calming sound in the back of his throat, trying to dodge it as Stiles leaned forward to kiss him again.

“Slow down Stiles. We still need to talk.” Stiles shook his head, wrapping his arms around Derek’s shoulders and then jumping, wrapping his legs around Derek’s waist and knowing without a doubt that Derek would catch him. He pressed his face into Derek’s shoulder for a second before going back to try to continue their kiss.

“Talking later, kissing now.” With a laugh, Derek carried Stiles over to the porch and then sat him down lightly. He didn’t remove him though, kept their bodies close and entwined.

He couldn’t stop touching Stiles either.

“We need to talk, about everything. You were right about a lot, but there’s still more to it. More to last night and why I acted that way.” Stiles shook his head, grabbing Derek’s hand and holding it tight until the man s topped speaking.

“I get it. Or I think I do anyways. Listen, I get that you don’t want to get the werewolf version of getting hitched, or whatever being mates entails, and I know what I said probably scared you. Or not scared, because you’re a large werewolf badass type person and you wouldn’t be scared of feelings, obviously. That doesn’t matter. What matters to me is that you know that I’m serious, that I mean it, and that it’s true.”

Derek pulled his hand back so that he could pull Stiles forward by the back of his neck, their lips meeting and moving against one another slowly.

“I know you do.” He pulled back enough to smile, an actual smile that wasn’t tinge with sarcasm and wasn’t terror inducing.

“You do know that we’re not done fixing this though, right? The lies and the fit you threw and the self sacrificing you think you’re doing? But I’ve caught on and I’m not going to let it happen. Not one bit.”

Derek laughed again, pulling Stiles forward and tucking his face against his neck.

“We’ll talk about it. We’ll talk about it all, I promise. But I need to get you home. I have a meeting with Chris Argent in an hour and I have a feeling mine and your conversation might take a while.”

Stiles nodded, standing up and dusting off his pants. Derek did the same, pulling the alpha persona over him like a jacket. As if he hadn’t just been snuggling with Stiles on the porch seconds ago.

“Alright. Well, at least we figured most of it out.” They got into Derek’s car, the first time Stiles had been in it in a while. They were silent for the most of the drive, although Derek had snuck his hand over to grab a hold of Stiles’.

Outside of the Stilinski household, after sniffing the area to make sure there wasn’t going to be another surprise visit from the Monroe pack, Derek pulled Stiles back to him for one last kiss.

“Can you do me a favor?” Stiles smiled into the kiss, running his fingers through Derek’s hair.

“Stay inside and out of trouble?” Derek laughed, pulling back so that Stiles could see him roll his eyes.

“That’s a given. No, I was going to ask that you please talk to Scott about his hostility? Towards me.” Confused, Stiles felt his eyebrows draw together.

“Wait, what? I thought you were choking him out for his stupid comment?” Derek shook his head, smirking as he pulled Stiles back.

“Partially, but it was also partially because of the way he smelled. He can’t cover his emotions at all.”

Stiles had to laugh. Scott must have smelled… protective? Or angry. Either way, Derek hadn’t appreciated it. They shared one last kiss before Stiles hefted his bag onto his shoulder and slipped out of the car.

Sure there were still huge holes in whatever the fuck was going wrong in Beacon Hills, but at least there were some questions that had been answered.

Chapter Text

A few hours after getting home, which were spent actually doing homework because he did kind of care about his grades, Stiles found himself nervously texting Derek to see what was taking so long. They’d planned to meet up at Stiles’ house, even though Stiles’ dad was home for a few hours, because they really did need to talk things out. He left three texts and was contemplating actually calling Derek (or better yet, hacking into his phone like he had with Scott’s to track his GPS) when his phone rang.

“Hey. I haven’t been worried about you at all.” He heard Derek’s snort of laughter, one he usually held in when he was around the others but let loose when around Stiles. He'd loosened up a lot since they had started dating but Stiles knew that the pack would have a collective heart attack if Derek was too loose. Laughing, smiling, not telling the betas that they were useless? Yup. The entire pack would collapse. And die. To death.

“Argent and I had quite a bit to discuss apparently.” That was probably at least half Stiles’ fault. He just knew that Chris would want to have some sort of conversation on Derek corrupting Stiles or however he saw their relationship. It couldn't have been pretty, or easy, for Derek to listen to it. If he did listen to it. Hopefully Stiles would know by now if Chris had been brutally murdered or was currently missing.

“Are you going to come over so we can talk or…”

He got his answer as he heard the sound of Derek's car as it pulled in to the driveway. Stiles hung up and slid over to the window, looked down just in time to see Derek glance up as he headed towards the front door. Stiles' dad would answer the door, probably talk to Derek for a little bit before sending him up. He'd even finally had the 'it's okay if you shut the door' talk with Stiles, where Stiles pretended that Derek hadn't been in his room with the door shut more times than Stiles could count.

Or maybe he did count them, but no one had proof so it didn't matter.

Not too long after he heard the front door open, he heard footsteps on the stairs. Those were followed by Derek slipping into his room and shutting his door. As much as Stiles would like it to turn into one of those visits, he knew they really did need to talk. Instead of trying to persuade Derek into slipping into bed with him, which actually doesn't require that much persuasion usually, Stiles made his way to his desk and twirled around a few times in the computer chair before taking a deep breath.

"Give it to me straight. That sounds vaguely sexual, but you know what I mean. What's going on with the hunters?" Derek sat on Stiles' bed, perched at the end with his hands pressed to his knees as he seemed to stare at the floor without seeing it.

"I sat Argent down, told him about the Monroe pack. He wasn't happy to hear there was another pack in town, even less happy to know that there's already been one attack. Barely able to convince him not to go after them by having him call Danny and hear for himself that he was going to get the bite at the end of the school year anyways. That didn't make him any happier, actually."

That didn't make Stiles feel any less apprehensive about the rest of this conversation but he nodded all the same. Not that he really could do anything else just yet.

"What else?" There had to be something else. He didn't see the Argents just bowing out gracefully with this new pack, this new unpredictable pack, on the loose in his town. That's probably how he saw it at least. The Monroe pack might be behaving for now, but after attacking Danny? With Derek's insistence that they won't be stopping until they can get his whole pack? It wasn't going to be pretty.

"There is still the matter of the other hunters to be dealt with. Argent told me that his contacts haven’t found anything yet, despite their looking. Something doesn't seem right with it." He was rigid on Stiles' bed, elbows locked and knuckles white as he made fists against his legs. He hated to see Derek like that, stiff and unmoving and downright uncomfortable, but he didn't move. Not just yet.

"We'll figure something out. They are going to make their move soon. The fact that they haven't yet is a bit unnerving, but we won't think about that just yet." Derek shook his head, although if he was agreeing or disagreeing, Stiles wasn't sure.

They sat in silence for a while before Derek stood up, pacing from one end of the bedroom to another. Stiles watched him with confusion at first before he found himself frowning. The way Derek was holding himself... something was wrong.

"Talk to me Derek. That's why you're here. That's why I'm here. So talk." The alpha barely acknowledged Stiles' words, a mere glance between his pacing, but after a few more rounds he flopped back onto the bed, less rigid than before. There was something to the set of his shoulders though; something Stiles couldn't place although he'd seen it before.

Something with Peter, he remembered. It hit him after that. Defeat. He looked defeated.

"I have to figure something out because Chastity is going after the pack and if we don't stay on our toes, everyone is going to get turned. I have to figure something out because these hunters want my head on a platter and the rest of the pack probably as well. I've got to find a way to keep everyone safe and get everyone else out of here."

Derek was still a new alpha. He was still just getting used to his role as a leader and now he had all of this he needed to figure out. And because he was Derek, self sacrificing idiot extraordinaire, he was going to try to do it all alone. Even though that's not what packs were for. Stiles was going to have to remind him of that fact.

He made his way to Derek, kneeling in front of him and grabbing his forearms. If he was a little more secure, maybe he'd force Derek to look at him. Grab his hand and hold onto it, try to get him to see reason that way. But this wasn't the normal relationship. That didn't mean that Stiles was in any way about to take the backseat. Not this time.

"You need to listen to me because while I'd like to say that I'll only say this once, I'm sure I'll end up saying it over and over again. We are a pack. We're all in this together. The danger you're in is the danger we're in, all of us. And none of us want you to go through this alone. You aren't going to go through this alone. We are all going to figure something out."

Derek didn't move, didn't look up, didn't seem to even breathe despite his closeness to Stiles. Well Stiles definitely wasn't going to be having any of that. He sprung up on his toes, forcing his body against Derek's until they both fell onto the bed, Derek's hands coming up to support Stiles so that the awkward angles of his elbows or knees wouldn't stab him.

"Repeat after me. You're right Stiles. We'll do this together." There was the tiniest pull on the corner of his mouth, much like Derek was fighting the urge to smile, but Stiles shook his head, bending down to nip at the exposed part of his shoulder where his shirt had been pulled tight.

"I can't hear you." Derek rolled his eyes, pulling Stiles up the rest of the way and pressing their lips together harshly.

"We'll do this together." Stiles shook his head, moving his lips against Derek's despite the difficulty it was creating to breathe.

"You forgot a part." He felt the almost familiar rumble of Derek's laughter underneath him. The thought alone made him smile against the lips he had yet to pull back from.

"Don't push your luck Stiles."

Ah. Close enough. Stiles reached up with the hands he'd been keeping limp, grabbing onto Derek's shoulder and neck and pulling him up for a bruising kiss.

-------------------

"So how does the mating thing work?" Stiles looked up from the book in his lap. It wasn't one of the many books he'd repeatedly checked out from the library that could have anything to do with the werewolf situation. It was his text book. Because they were at lunch and Stiles had a test in his next class and really, was this the best time for Jackson to be asking him this?

"Code words dude. Or like, just don't bring that up while I'm at school. Studying. And eating. Seriously, have you heard of discretion?"

Which was rich coming from Stiles, but he shrugged that off inwardly and went back to his book. However Jackson didn't move, simply kept eating whatever it was that was on their trays. It seemed like their lunch ladies had taken an exception to mystery meat this week. Stiles usually could eat anything but he wasn't feeling up to determining if he needed a fork or a spoon or a straw to eat... drink... somehow ingest whatever it was.

"How does it work Stiles?" He shrugged because honestly? Hell if he knew. He knew that one minute Derek was standing over Peter and the next he was slitting his throat and the next Stiles and Derek were connected. Whether that actually was part of the mating process, Stiles wasn't even sure. They hadn't covered a lot of the mating details. Derek seemed to be very good at distracting Stiles lately.

Not that Stiles particularly minded. Except his dad definitely did. Although it was his own fault for opening the door without knocking first.

"I don't know Jackson. It's not like I'm an expert or anything. I wouldn't even really know if it wasn't for Chastity and Charlie taking an exception to me for whatever reason. Derek wouldn't outright confirm it because he doesn't... why am I even telling you this? I don't know Jackson. Ask someone else." Jackson paused with his drink to his mouth before shaking his head. There wasn't anyone else around, not nearly close enough to hear, but still.

"Not buying that. I mean you're telling the truth, but there has to be something you can tell me. Is it something you can just decide? Is it chosen for you?" Stiles slumped, slapping his text book closed and glaring across at Jackson with as much heat as he could gather up.

Which considering he actually liked Jackson these days was still an impressive amount. Didn't bother the beta, but that wasn't the point. Not the main one at least.

"How many ways can I tell you that I don't know? I mean, I don't know how to say I don't know in other languages, but I'll figure it out for you." Jackson raised an eyebrow and smirked.

"Je ne sais pas." Stiles didn't even take a breath after that.

"Bless you. That sounded contagious, you should get someone to look at that for you. Now read my lips, you annoying furry pain in the ass! I do not know anything about mating besides the fact that it happened to me. Now, if you'll leave me alone, I actually really need to pass this test to maintain a good enough grade point average to potentially start this season."

Jackson was left blinking at the table with both of their trays of gray slop as Stiles grabbed his books and stumbled out of his chair and towards the door. He had had it up to his eyeballs with Jackson's annoying presence for the day.

And really it wouldn't have been such a big deal except that Scott had basically asked the same question that morning during their ride to school and Allison was right there looking just as apprehensive about the answer as Scott. And Stiles hadn't been able to answer, although he'd given it a bit more of a shot than he had with Jackson just then.

"I don't know. Charlie told me about a connection, for a werewolf and a human. You can like sense each other and stuff. I know when Derek's really mad and he knows when I'm in danger. Which is 99% of the time, but hey, I'm a trouble magnet."

Allison's face had fallen and she'd gone to look out of the car with more of a pout than a frown. Guess that meant they weren't having those particular symptoms. And now Jackson was asking, probably meaning between him and Lydia, and really did all of them need to be mated off right now? They were in high school for Pete's sake.

Which he'd never say to Derek because it'd fuel his issues with their age difference and Stiles wasn't going to stand by it this time.

He made his way to the auditorium, climbing up the bleachers and throwing his books down with a grunt. Maybe he'd be able to get some studying done in here. He heard a noise and he glanced down, not recognizing the men that were making their way into the gym. Not entirely strange, because it wasn't like he knew every adult in the school, but he knew most of them. Maybe substitutes? But the odds of there being three substitute teachers that looked like that?

Rugged and cold and... hey, carrying guns.

Stiles kept as still as he could, hoping they hadn't noticed him. Please don't let there be a shoot out at his school. His dad would be pissed and the school would be pissed and they'd get all kinds of media attention and it would be really difficult to hide the werewolves in Beacon Hills if there was suddenly a hundred cameras around.

His stomach dropped because the men turned up to face him as if they knew he was there. Shit. Shit shit and damn. He slung his bookbag over his shoulder and stumbled down the steps, swearing as the men started towards him. The auditorium was supposed to be off limits during lunch hours but Stiles had snuck in because he's a dumbshit and now he might get riddled full of holes and... fuck this.

He slid across the floor to the door, throwing it open and slipping through it, banging it closed behind him, flicking over the lock. He watched for a moment as the hunters struggled with the door before simply leveling their guns at where the lock was located.

Holy shit, they wouldn't--

The sound of the gunshot told Stiles they really would. Keeping his bag on his shoulder, he ran as fast as he could, ducking between students and teachers as they tried to figure out what was going on. He saw the principal and he slid to a stop in front of him.

"Mad men. With guns. Gymnasium."

The principal shoved Stiles into the hallway, aiming him in the opposite direction from the auditorium. He snapped his phone open as he ran, typing what he hoped was a coherent text and forwarding it to the group he had saved in his phone titled Pack.

Hunters. Guns. In gym. Definitely not good.

He ran, listening to a few more gun shots that he hoped weren't hitting people. If people were getting shot because of them... No. He refused to think about it. They were probably just trying to scatter everyone, hope that it would make the pack feel responsible and go out and meet them.

His phone buzzed and he looked at the name before opening it. It was from Lydia.

Get to the cafe now. We're safe.

Which meant he was the only one not safe. He heard a scream and he turned around, watching a girl paralyzed with fear face down the hall where the hunters were looking around. He groaned, throwing himself and the girl into a classroom and shutting the door behind them. This was definitely the opposite of what he was supposed to be doing. She was shaking and still kind of screaming so Stiles put his hand over her mouth and then one on her shoulder.

"Just calm down. Breathe, calm down. They aren't going to hurt you."

He had locked the door behind him but he heard the sound of someone turning the knob. Then the girl was freaking out once more. When the door actually opened to reveal two of the three guys he'd seen, his stomach dropped at the same time that the girl fainted.

Well at least he didn't have to worry about that.

One of the guys stepped forward, gun pointed at Stiles but finger not on the trigger.

"That one in your little pack?" Stiles looked at the girl, slumped on the floor like a bag of flour or something. He shook his head.

"No. I don't even know her name." The guy nodded and then made a motion to the other guy. Stiles thought for sure he was going to kill her, or him, or both of them, but instead he grabbed hold of Stiles' arm and started dragging him towards the door.

"Dude, do you even realize how messed up this is? You're going to have all sorts of people after you now. You just shot up a school! There are kids here man!" The guy shook Stiles, probably to shut him up, but Stiles had had worse than that from Derek. He didn't shut up unless he wanted to. Or feared for his life, which even though he kind of did right now, he also kind of didn't.

"I thought you guys were the smart ones. This is a stunt like something those last guys would do. They had no problems with causing a public scene. You guys have been seriously off the radar though. And now you're busting into a high school, shooting guns, kidnapping students? My dad's the sheriff and I can't even tell you how many laws you're breaking."

The man shook him again, grumbling something about wanting to beat his skull in, but thankfully he didn't. Instead he pushed him against the wall and aimed the gun in his face. It smelled and felt hot. He squinted his eyes past the gun, trying to see if anyone was lying dead in the hallways. He couldn't see anyone.

"Now. You're going to tell us where to find your little friends." Stiles could feel the connection startle awake. Either his fear or Derek's anger awakened it. He reached in, tried to feel for Derek, but it wasn't working like that. It might never work like that again.

All he knew was that he was basically the only thing standing between these hunters and his pack. He wasn't about to back down.

"Little friends? That's very rude. Besides, I don't know any midgets." The man slammed him against the wall, the gun pressing very tightly against his temple.

"You keep running your mouth and I'm not going to be as friendly as I am now. Where is the rest of the pack?" Stiles swallowed, trying to figure out how to get this to go in his favor. He didn't have to wait.

There were sirens coming up on the school, shouts coming from outside. The rest of the students had left the wing completely so Stiles was there alone. With no way of telling the good guys that he was being held hostage by the bad guys.

"Your dad is the sheriff, huh? So he'll be out there with the rest of the cops in this disappointing city. What would happen if we just opened up fire on the entire group if they try to take us out?"

Stiles stomach, which had already dropped, permanently located itself in his shoes. His dad was in danger every day but Stiles had made it worse. This was his fault. If something happened to him, it'd be his fault.

He opened his mouth to say something, to be witty or pleading or stubborn, he wasn't sure. Whether or not he'd give in or keep his backbone in place was going to stay a mystery because all of a sudden there was a dreadful growl coming from behind the hunter. He turned around just in time to see one of his buddies being slapped down. Derek was in full alpha form, eyes red and body deformed. Stiles didn't even have time to wonder if the stuff that had been in Derek's system was out, if he'd turn on Stiles, because he pulled the man off of Stiles and threw him into the wall. He growled low and, standing between Stiles and the two hunters he'd put down.

That still left one. Where was--

Another shot, because there hadn't been enough of that yet. The bullet tore through Derek's shoulder and he howled, turning towards where the bullet had started from. The hunter hadn't even blinked, despite the angry alpha facing him.

"You think you can control it Hale? Is the vrolican all out of your system? It's a funny little drug, isn't it? Do you feel like tearing the head off anything around you? What about that human you're protecting? Do you feel like killing him?"

Stiles watched as Derek turned to look at him, head cocked to the side, snarling just as much as he had when he'd faced the hunter. He wouldn't hurt Derek. He wouldn't, he couldn't, he didn't need to worry. He was safe. He wasn't scared of Derek.

Derek turned back to the hunter and launched himself full bodily at him, knocking the man down even as he let off a few more shots. Whether or not they hit Derek, Stiles didn't know, because he dropped to the ground and grabbed the gun that the hunter who had been holding him down had dropped. He'd had more than enough practice at the range to be able to do just enough damage.

He didn't fire into the fray, scared to hit Derek, but he kept his gun aimed on them. He was so sure that the cops would bust in, would have heard the shots and come running, but nothing happened. Instead of a cop walking in though, someone did appear.

Chris Argent was angry, but Stiles felt pretty certain it wasn't aimed at them. They were, after all, defending themselves. Or defending Stiles, as the case may be.

He aimed his gun and took a deep breath before firing one shot. Stiles gulped, knowing it had every possibility of hitting Derek as it did the hunter, but mildly unsurprisingly, Derek was the one to stand up after it.

"Holy shit you have good aim." Argent rolled his eyes at Stiles and looked down at the hunter, bleeding from the neck and not moving. Derek phased back to normal, eyes flashing red even after his body had returned to human. He was also very naked, but that didn't seem to bother him nor Chris.

"The police will make their way in here soon. You better put some clothes on, or get out of here. We'll be talking about this later though." Derek nodded, checking on Stiles once before running off down the hall. And really if Stiles was in any state to laugh, he definitely would have. His boyfriend just ran off down the school hallway naked with a bullet hole slowly healing in his shoulder. They weren't using any special bullets? It didn't make sense. Everything else about them was different.

But he'd said the name of the drug, although Stiles couldn't remember it just off the top of his head. He ran off and Chris crossed his arms, tucking his rifle between his arms and grimacing at the mess on the ground.

"They are going to ask what happened. What are you going to tell them?" Stiles looked up, blinking because he knew they were going to ask him, but he'd been lying so much to the police that it was second nature for him now.

"Can't I just say you came in and handled the situation while I stood there and tried not to piss myself? Because I can handle some serious shit but man, guns? That's cheating."

Chris rolled his eyes again and then looked up when the cops bust into the door, guns raised and prepared to be used. However all they saw was Chris Argent looking nonchalant in the middle of the hallway while Stiles propped himself against the wall, one of the guns still in his hand. Two of the hunters were either dead or just really unconscious and then the other one was definitely dead. It was also Stiles' luck that his dad was the one in the front of the group, leading the charge.

"Stiles..." His voice was tired, as if he was really getting tired of finding his son involved with these things. All Stiles could do was shrug, still not really aware that he was holding the gun. His dad took it from his hands, giving him a look that definitely meant they'd talk about it later, before pulling him in for a hug.

When they pulled apart, it was to see the girl that Stiles had tried to hide coming out of the classroom. She saw the bodies on the ground, screamed again and then fainted once more. Stiles turned to his dad and shrugged.

"I had nothing to do with that."

-----------------

After being entirely positive that Stiles wasn't going into shock or anything like that, he was left in the care of his friends while the police tried to get the story from Chris and the two hunters that had woken up in pain and a little disoriented. Lydia had barely left his side, right after she threatened to claw his eyes out for scaring her like he had.

"Yes, because I meant to get caught in the crossfire. Obviously." She shushed him and then attached herself to his side as if she had been glued there. Jackson didn't even seem to mind. He looked guilty, knowing that if he hadn't pushed Stiles like he had earlier about the mates thing, he wouldn't have left. And while Stiles wanted to relieve him of his guilt, he didn't want to mention it to the others. They might blame him and it wasn't really his fault.

It kind of was, but not enough to be blamed for it.

Scott and Danny looked at each other, joined in by Jackson and Lydia. Allison laughed a bit, sitting on Stiles' other side and holding his wrist. He wouldn't admit that he knew she was checking his pulse, but it was sweet of her.

"I hate when they do that. And Danny? He picked up on this stuff way too fast." Stiles laughed; he kind of missed them being the three musketeers of the human variety. It was what it was though, and nothing was going to change that.

"Holy shit." They snapped to look at the four werewolves. Their faces all matched, shocked and confused. Allison asked what happened twice before anyone answered. It was Danny that broke the silence.

"Both of the hunters just took like cyanide pills or something. Your dad was asking them who they were and they just... killed themselves." Stiles felt his stomach turn. Thankfully he hadn't been able to eat any of that gray slop for lunch. It'd be all over their shoes if he had.

"What about... do they know about... Derek?" He whispered it, knowing the wolves would hear it. They all shook their head.

"No. He hasn't even been mentioned." Stiles nodded, pulling his phone out of his pocket and sending him a text.

You ok?

The thought of the drug causing him to go off again was still at the front of his mind. He also remembered the drug, vrolican. They'd looked it up but found nothing on it. It had to have been made by the hunters and therefore not something they'd find online. Which sucked, but honestly didn't surprise him.

His phone went off and he looked down at it, breathing out a sigh of relief when he saw the reply.

Hiding out but ok.

He asked about the bullet wound but before he could send it, Scott warned him that his dad was about to walk in.

"Okay Stiles. We need to ask you some question. Your friends here need to scatter for a few minutes."

They left, even though Stiles knew they'd be able to hear it. And would have to tell Allison what was going on, but they'd still hear it. His dad sat in front of him, placing his hand on his knee and squeezing it a bit.

"Okay, let's talk. Want to tell me what happened?"

Stiles nodded, putting his head in his hands before sitting up. He remembered what he'd told Chris that he was going to say. Hopefully Chris had told the same story.

"I had gone to the auditorium to study and I saw those guys. Saw the guns and tried to rush off. They were right behind me though. Shot the lock on the door. I ran down the hall and told the principal what I saw. Kept running. Ran into that girl and tried to hide us in the classroom. She fainted and they brought me into the hallway. Everything after that is a little blurry. I remember Chris coming in and gunshots and then you were there. Maybe I just blocked everything else out."

His dad nodded, glancing down at his notebook before jotting some notes down. He hoped that Chris had given him the same story. Or at least a vague enough version of it that it didn't matter.

"Okay son. School has been canceled. Do you want me to drive you home or...?" He left the ending open and Stiles sighed in thanks.

"I'll catch a ride with Allison and them. We'll probably go somewhere together to regroup." His dad nodded, patting him on the shoulder.

"I understand son. While I'd almost feel safer with you guys at the Argents, since that man seems to always be around with a gun when needed, he's gotta go down with us to give a recorded statement. You can all go to the house if you want. With this, I'll probably be working late. There'll be another curfew put out. We don't like the looks of this."

Stiles nodded, standing up and giving his dad a tight hug before turning down and heading to where the group had left. He found them after a few short turns, huddled together and watching the cops move around them warily. Once they spotted him, they all go to their feet.

"Your house? Then we need to call and check in on Derek." If the hunters had finally had enough and went straight to the school, there was no doubt that they were capable of anything. Stiles nodded his approval and they all made their way to the two cars they'd been taking lately.

Allison and Scott were quiet during the ride. They were holding hands, tight as if scared to let go. He glanced at his phone and saw the unsent text. He hit send after adding something to the end.

How is your shoulder? We are heading to my house.

The drive to the house wasn't a long one, but Stiles was a little surprised his phone didn't go off. He'd expected Derek to answer, if even to just avoid the question and make sure that nothing had been said about his appearance. He put his bag on his shoulder, having rescued it from the empty classroom, and they all made their way up to the porch. He used his key to get in, telling the others that his dad wasn't going to be home for a while but he was sure they could expect a few cops to stop by and check in on them every once and a while.

They barely got through the door before the betas, minus Danny who just look startled and unsure, started to growl and shift as they watched the stairs. Stiles and Allison had been pushed behind Jackson and Scott, while Lydia and Danny took up the back. Danny, who didn't know how to fight yet, and Lydia who wasn't sure how to use her shift in a fight just yet. Good thing the threat was in front of them.

Only it wasn't a threat. Derek descended the steps, eyebrows raised as he stared at the pack.

"Glad to see everyone working together." Stiles pushed past everyone, not even bothering to see if they were returning to normal, before wrapping his arms around Derek's neck. They weren't overly affectionate in public, or at least the public of their friends. Whether it was because Derek wanted to look like he was still in charge or if it was just something they didn't do, they were never too close or too touchy or too anything. But Stiles couldn't give a damn at the moment.

He wrapped his arms tight around Derek's neck and buried his nose into Derek's collarbone. He wasn't going to admit how worried he'd been.

"When you said you were in hiding, you didn't say you were here. Jerk." He felt Derek place his hand calmingly to the back of his neck, pulling him tighter and closer. The others scattered into the living room, averting their eyes from the couple. Which was just as well because there was one thing that Stiles really needed to do.

He pulled Derek as far from their view as he could before pulling the taller man down, didn't even bother to make the kiss seem soft or sweet. There was an urgency and a desperation to it that he didn't want to hide. He'd spent way too much time thinking that something was going to happen, to him or Derek or his dad or the pack, to deny this quick moment of reassurance and comfort.

"Calm down Stiles. I'm here." The others could probably hear them. Every little noise that Derek and Stiles made while kissing was probably amplified for the betas. And while usually Stiles would be either proud or embarrassed, he couldn't bother with either right then.

-------------------

"So we have your crazy ass cousins attack humans to grow their own pack. She also probably wants to kill you so she can have all of us as her slaves or whatever. And now we have crazy hunters attacking us in school. I mean, what does this sound like to you?" Jackson was sprawled across the couch with Lydia perched beside him, absent mindedly running his fingers across her back and arms. They looked comfortable, together and in general.

Who knew that Jackson getting the bite and Lydia being a hybrid would be so good for their relationship?

"You think it's attached?" Scott sounded worried, maybe even a bit scared, but he was trying to keep a brave face up while the rest of the pack mulled over the idea. None of them wanted to voice their own concerns on if the two things were attached. The Monroe’s working with whoever these hunters were? It couldn't end well, not at all.

Especially if they kept getting lucky and getting out of danger whenever the hunters were involved.

"It's too much at once to be a coincidence, I have to agree. Knowing this doesn't change things though. Even if they are working together, we still have to deal with it. The Monroe's have one week to leave town before Chris Argent and the rest of the Beacon Hills hunters take offense and make it open season. The hunters... well, that's another story all together. We'll have to figure them out ourselves." Derek's voice was calm, collected, and more confident than Stiles was sure he was feeling right about now.

The pack had to stay together because otherwise they were going to be attacked like Danny had been. The only two left to be turned were Allison and Stiles, but neither of them were ever really alone anymore so it was okay. However the only way that the Argents would probably allow someone to stay with her at all times would be to tell them everything that was going on and Argent... he definitely wouldn't like knowing there was some whack job plotting about his only daughter's life.

"So what does that leave us exactly?" Allison was sitting cross legged on the floor in front of Scott, her palms braced on her knees as she watched the people in the room. Everyone traded looks, each trying to come up with a plan or at least the beginning of the plan.

They didn't get too far.

"We've got to talk to Chastity and figure out if she's working with the hunters. And figure out if her endgame is what we think it is. From there, we can figure everything else out. If they are working together, we'll go to Argent." Stiles shook his head, although he approved of the plan.

"What if they aren't working together? We just supposed to deal with both of them separately?" Lydia shot off the couch before Stiles had fully gotten his words out.

"Sorry, sorry, I just remembered something. Slightly different topic, except not really. The drug, remember? Vrolican? It's been eating away at me where I remembered the name. Then it hit me. One of the doctors that worked on me when I first woke up? He was always talking to me about this new drug they'd been feeding into my IV to fight infection that always made me feel really sleepy. Vrolice. Come on, that can't be a coincidence!" The entire floor felt a bit floored at that.

"So what, they took a legit drug and warped it to fit their needs?" Everyone pulled their phones out and had typed in the drug, waiting for the information to pull up.

"Here it is. Vrolice is an experimental drug that targets infection and other impurities in the bloodstream. It usually comes with another drug as well, called Embocan, that acts as a sedative. Put those two together and you get vrolican. Fuck. They combined them. And apparently they work really fucking good on werewolves to subdue them and fuck them up when they change."

It was forefront in everyone's mind that that might be why Lydia's bite hadn't turned her completely. She was getting that while the werewolf bite was still trying to take hold. It made sense, even if it was almost too strange to think about.

"So they've weaponized medicine. That's the opposite of comforting." Stiles wasn't feeling particularly sarcastic but he gave it his best shot. Derek, however, seemed lost in thought for a minute. Then he smiled, the scary half smile that usually turned the pack into cowering puppies.

"The hunters have to be getting it from somewhere. A drug like that can't just be put in a syringe and wait to be given, look at the rest of the information. Given the requirements for this stuff, I'd say they were getting it when they need it. Hey Danny, you feel like hacking into some databases for us?"

They turned to Danny who seemed shocked for a moment before he smiled himself.

"It'd be my pleasure."

---------------

Three hours after the school had released all of the students so that the police could do their jobs, there was a constant stream of reports on the radio and television. They turned the television on and watched as the reporters, local and some from a little further away, tried to retrace the steps of the men that had come to Beacon Hills and caused carnage.

"We can tell you for a fact that no students or staff were harmed during the attack. However we have reports that all three shooters are dead. One was dead on arrival, killed by a man who happened to hear what was going on and could get there in time. The other two reportedly took a cyanide pill of some sort and committed suicide before the police could bring them in."

The reports kept coming in but the information never changed. No one knew who they people were, no one knew why they came, no one could figure out why they came into the school and started taking shots and seemingly nothing.

Stiles' dad had called twice to make sure they were okay. There was a constant police present, with cops driving past and sometimes knocking to check on them every so often. None of them even batted an eye at seeing Derek sitting amongst a bunch of high school kids.

"Is it weird that people are so okay with us dating? I mean our friends and my dad, sure, but everyone else in town? I haven't had any one pull me to the side to tell me that I should be careful with a guy like you." Derek smirked, leaning against the couch while they watched Danny hack into several databases at once.

"I've gotten a lot of people telling me that I shouldn't be associating myself with someone as innocent as you. Which I take to mean they don't know you at all." Stiles would have to agree. Anyone that used the word innocent to describe Stiles didn't know anything about him.

"Well that sure is nice of them. Who do I need to send thank you flowers to?" Derek rolled his eyes, tossing his arm over Stiles' shoulders and pulling him to his side.

"Don't even think about it Stiles."

The group tried to keep themselves occupied while Danny worked, between talking about odd things or placing bets on when the next officer would knock on the door. Finally, about thirty minutes after he started, Danny sighed and cracked his knuckles.

"So this is what I've found. There have been break ins in nearby hospitals, nothing more than a few drugs taken. This happens fairly often according the reports I've found on here. There are three notable thefts though. All three from the Beacon Hills General Hospital. The first two took small amounts of Vrolice and Embocan. The third one took a significantly larger amount of the stuff."

Derek leaned forward, accidentally pulling Stiles with him for the way they were positioned.

"How much is a significantly larger amount?" Danny looked at the page again and shook his head.

"From this report, it sounds like they wiped them of the entire stock of the stuff. Two days ago." That drew everyone up short.

"But wait, doesn't it... you said that it had to be kept in specific temperatures and conditions, right? So what does that mean?" Derek shook his head.

"Either they've created the environment where the stuff would be okay or they are planning to use it soon. It has a shelf life of about five days. I think we should go ahead and assume they are going to attack again."

Stiles felt his heart speed up and fuck, basically everyone in the room could hear it. Not that he was really trying to keep up some sort of pretense of being awesome and never afraid, but he didn't want everyone to know just how scared he was.

"What's the plan?" Everyone turned to Derek and waited.

Despite the fact that Stiles hated that they had to rely on him for their plan, he knew that was how it had to be. Derek was their alpha and by rights had to take care of the pack. So instead of telling them to come up with their own plan, Stiles tried to push all of his faith to his boyfriend. Maybe it'd work through their connection.

Whether or not it did, Derek squeezed Stiles' knee before he leaned forward once more.

"I want everyone to head to the manor. We're going to try to draw these guys out of the woodwork and get it done in one go." Stiles shook his head, already not liking this plan.

"How do you plan on drawing them out if we're all at your place?" Derek sighed, eyes darting around the room carefully as he did so.

"I'm going to be the bait."

There seemed to be a minute where everyone was protesting, but a dark look from Derek shot that down. The only person who still had any fight left in them on the subject was Stiles. And this was one fight he wasn't going to lose if he could help it.

"No, because guess what, you colossal jackass, we need you! You're our alpha, what happens if something happens to you? Then we get taken over by Chastity and her mindless minions. There has to be another way."

Shaking his head, Derek stood up and looked down at his betas and complimentary human pack members.

"There isn't. We need bait. No offense to the others, I don't want either Jackson or Scott to be the ones putting themselves on the line because they don't have nearly enough training. However between the two of them, Lydia's training and Allison's archery? That's the only way you guys will be okay if you're attacked, if they stick together. It has to be me."

It made sense. That was the part that hurt the worse, because it made sense and it wasn't just Derek taking it on because he didn't want them to fuck up. He was taking it on because he knew he had to, that it was the only way any of them were going to have a chance. He would be the bait.

"Well what about me? I mean, Danny even has some leg up now, being a wolf. Untrained, sure, but still a wolf. What am I going to do, talk them to death?" Not that he was selling himself short, because he knew he'd find a way to help no matter what he was delegated. The look on Derek's face told him as much.

"You'll stick with them. Knowing you though, you'll think of something."

Stiles wasn't going to say he was already working on his own plan. He figured it was just assumed.

------------------

Between Allison's car and Jackson's, there was enough room for all of them, but Stiles offered up his jeep as well. Derek would ride with Stiles until they got to Allison's, where he'd get out and do his part. Allison would grab her bow and arrows and maybe some other odds and ends for the rest of them.

They made it to the house without incident. Stiles had told his dad they were going to Derek's, to which his dad had said for them to be careful and not stay out too late. He seemed distracted and honestly not paying attention to what his son was saying. Stiles probably could have said they were going to fight more people like those that had shot up the school and potentially some werewolves too and his dad would have told him not to stay out too late.

Not that Stiles thought that'd be the best way to test if his dad was really listening to him or not. With his luck, he might just believe him.

Allison ran in with Scott to gather what they could. Her dad was still at the station and her mom was nowhere to be seen, so she didn't have to sneak. They stood outside of the cars, trying to keep calm and not think about what was going to happen.

Derek pulled Stiles to the side, sending a glare to the others that clearly said if they were listening in, they'd regret it.

"Stick with the group, no matter what happens. Don't try to be the hero." Stiles nodded, tucking his head under Derek's chin and breathing in his scent.

"You going to give them all this little pep talk, or am I special?" Derek pulled back so that he could lift Stiles' head to look in his eyes.

"Don't do anything stupid." He pulled him close roughly, their mouths more fighting than kissing, and pulled back when Derek heard Allison and Scott leaving the house.

He gave them all a nod before climbing into Stiles' jeep and taking off down the road at a speed that was definitely not legal for the neighborhood they were in. He was definitely good at drawing attention, that was for sure. He crawled into the back of Allison's car and started to look through the bag she had grabbed. Hopefully her dad wouldn't notice the things they grabbed. He might be pissed if he did.

There were different attachments for her bow, a crossbow that looked pretty heavy, a few little spheres that felt like glass encased in a velvet bag inside of a box. He had a feeling those probably were breakable and he probably didn't want to break them.

"Those hunters aren't the only ones that make their own weapons. My dad's been working on prototypes for a while. Those spheres when busted have different things in them. One has a gas that'll knock out a werewolf. Triggers their sensitive noses apparently. Others have like tear gas and other stuff in them. I haven't seen them in action but I know what to do."

He was definitely going to notice his prototypes missing. Fuck. Hopefully he'd be understanding.

Probably not.

They were pulling into the manor when Stiles' phone went off. He pulled it out and read it aloud to the group.

"They took the bait. Says he's being followed and heading this way." They had mildly discussed a plan already, since they were on different levels of being able to take care of themselves.

Derek was going to lure them here. He, Jackson and Scott were the first wave, the defense. They'd keep them from getting too close. From there, Allison and Lydia were going to be the defense. Lydia was fast, faster than the other betas and even faster than Derek. They'd noticed it during her training, how she moved so quick and almost catlike. Allison would shook and Lydia would attack with her speed, get them disoriented. From there, they could rely on the other weapons that Allison had brought or the other betas could attack.

Either way, Stiles and Danny were relegated to the porch as a last resort. Danny was going to protect Stiles and Stiles was going to try to figure out if there was any way they could end it quicker without anyone on their side getting hurt.

"What do you think? This going to go to hell in a hand basket?" Danny laughed, wiping a sheen of sweat off of his forehead.

"With bells on. Okay, let's get in position. Derek should be here soon."

That was the plan. Derek would arrive, the hunters on his tail, and they'd go from there. For some reason, they hadn't thought that maybe the hunters would get there first. Stiles wasn't sure what they had been thinking, not coming up with a plan to back up their plans. They put all of their hopes in one basket and now that basket was going to hell.

The men got out and started firing immediately. Danny pushed Stiles back, ducking them down on the porch and hopefully out of sight. Jackson and Scott moved first, going after one of the nearest men together. Allison shot an arrow, watching it embed into the shoulder of a hunter. It didn't stop him though; he simply switched hands and kept firing. Lydia ran off, knocking the men over in a move that reminded Stiles of what he heard had happened in this very spot when Peter had led them all to the house.

It kept them distracted long enough for Scott and Jackson to kill two hunters. That still left three, who were aiming and firing without batting an eye. Lydia slashed with the claws that grew from her hands, her eyes glowing more green than Stiles could remember them ever being before.

While everyone else attacked, Stiles couldn't help but worry about Derek. He was going to be pulling into this without knowing what was going on. Stiles took a deep breath before forcing himself to focus on Derek. It hadn't worked yet, hadn't worked but that once, but he was going to try. He had to try. The only thing he could think to do other than this would be to injure himself as a warning, but it would distract him.

He focused on Derek and found himself shocked to feel a wave of panic, not his own. He could feel panic and anger and determination and... fear. He tried not to focus on the emotions and instead focused on his own. Tried to push the fact that there were hunters there already to Derek so he'd be aware.

It hit like a wave, not pain but acceptance. There was something there he couldn't place, a noise buzzing in his ears that he felt more than heard. He tried to focus on it, tried to focus on the sensation to see if that brought up the cause, but it didn't. Instead he heard Danny in his ear and he lost the train of thought all together.

"Dammit Stiles, you need to move. Like right now." He looked around him and saw that the others were having a difficult time with the last three hunters. They couldn't get close enough to kill them, to get them at all, and their guns were pointed at them. It was a standoff. None of them could move for the other would attack, that was certain. They needed a distraction.

Stiles was tempted to be that distraction but the sound of squealing tires made the hunters turn and the wolves attack. Stiles had to look away, knowing that if he had to watch his friends rip out the throats of the men, he'd probably get sick. Not that he was easily grossed out, but there was only so much blood he could take in one day.

The jeep skidded to a halt and Derek got out, staring wild eyed at the carnage in front of him. He shook his head and then ran to the porch, the others moving with him.

"The rest of them are right behind me. Get ready because there were definitely more of them."

Definitely more because there were two cars coming down the long winding driveway. Stiles felt his throat close up at the sight of just how many hunters were crammed into those two vehicles. This was the final showdown, without a doubt. Whoever limped away from this was going to be the winner. Stiles hadn't felt this scared in a while.

Derek shot him a look, laced with all kinds of things that Stiles wished he had time to decipher, before he and Jackson bounded towards the cars, shifting midair and landing on the hood with a growl. Allison was reloading her bow so Stiles bent down and grabbed the bag he'd somehow lugged onto the porch with him earlier. Inside were the spheres, more attachments for Allison and the crossbow. He handed the attachments to Scott and told him to take them to Allison. He then went down and grabbed the spheres.

They were targeted towards werewolves. He put it on the side because they could go off and hurt the pack. His thoughts were torn away as he heard a much deeper growl and then his stomach relocated to somewhere near his shoes.

There was a second alpha down there attacking Derek. Jackson was going after the hunters and trying to help Derek at the same time. Where there was an alpha, there were usually betas. Only none of the others were shifted.

Stiles loaded the crossbow, tucking the other arrows into his pocket and moving to the edge of the porch. He wasn't sure he could actually hit anything he was aiming at from this distance, much less not hit one of the pack, but he had to try.

He aimed first for the hunter that was trying to shoot Allison while she was distracted. His arrow went into the guy's forearm, the sound of his scream drawing attention from everyone. Lydia was there in a flash, literally, breaking his neck and going back to work.

Scott was helping Derek now, attacking the alpha in long enough turns that it would get distracted and forget about Derek every few seconds. He knew he couldn't shoot the rogue alpha without hitting one of the others, so he focused on the other hunters.

Their numbers were dwindling while the pack seemed to not have sustained too many injuries. Danny was still beside Stiles, keeping his eyes open and making sure that no one was targeting them from their perch on the porch. Just as Stiles was prepared to say they had the upperhand, there was a growl too close to his head. He spun around, aiming the crossbow but the arrow flew off the mark. The werewolf looked familiar, face morphed and hairy but definitely familiar.

He was a little too distracted to place it though as the wolf launched forward, getting knocked off balance as Danny leapt to meet him. Stiles fumbled to load a second arrow, wincing as the tip sliced into his finger. The werewolf knocked Danny out of the way, his head knocking painfully on the wall and collapsing. Stiles aimed once more and shot the crossbow, nearly fist pumping when it struck the werewolf's shoulder. He howled but simply launched himself at Stiles, knocking him over and knocking the crossbow from his hands.

Without any preamble, the wolf bit down on Stiles bicep, tearing through his clothes and making him scream. He fumbled with the arrows in his pocket, pulling it out and stabbing it into whatever part of the werewolf he could reach.

There was a noise and he felt a throb in his head, but it was covered by the throbbing pain in his arm. He kicked the werewolf off of him, scrambling away and getting to the railing where he put the spheres. He fumbled inside, pulling one out. Danny was a safe distance away, hopefully. The sphere came apart into halves, a one and a two etched into the glass. He threw the one, watching the smoke rise up when it shattered and almost cling to the werewolf that had been trying to yank the arrow out of the juncture between his neck and shoulder. Stiles threw the second and watched as the gas ignited, the werewolf going up in flames. Stiles kicked at him until he fell off of the porch into the bushes, burning the leaves as he thrashed.

Safe, or as safe as he could be with whatever else was going on, Stiles slumped and rolled up his sleeve as far as he could get it. The bite was ugly and... oozing? It was oozing something that positively stunk. He dropped his sleeve again and shook his head. He sat up, pulling the arrows from his pocket and scooting back to the crossbow. Danny was slowly coming to on the porch so it was up to him to protect them from whatever was going to come up the steps.

What came up the steps was Derek, his clothing torn and blood, his skin stitching itself together from various injuries. Stiles dropped the crossbow, shaking his head as he tried to clear whatever fogginess had enveloped him.

"We win? Everyone okay?" Derek nodded, casting a glance over his shoulder and then back down at Stiles.

"No major injuries so far. How did you two do?" Stiles groaned, looking over at Danny who was rubbing his forehead.

"Well I shot a few people with a crossbow. That was epic. And Danny tried to save me from a werewolf who I skewered and fried. You might want to put the fire out before your house burns down again though." Derek's eyebrows pulled together as he knelt down, taking one of Stiles' hands in his and then swearing.

"You're burning up." His hand moved to Stiles' head but he was shaking his head and knocked the hand way.

"No I'm not. Didn't you hear me? I burned the werewolf, not me." He could see the shadows of the others standing around him but he couldn't focus on them long enough to know if they were okay. He felt something trickling over him, like water only thicker, but he couldn't see it. It was more of a presence than something actually there, but he still tried to find it.

"I feel funny." Derek tilted Stile' head this way and that before his eyes were drawn to his sleeve, starting to stain and stick to his arm. He pulled it up, with Stiles wincing as the dried blood and oozing stuff pulled at his skin.

Even in his frame of mine, which was somewhere between being drunk and being drugged, he knew that the face Derek was making wasn't good. He opened his mouth to ask, but he ended up turning to the side and throwing up. Derek grabbed Stiles up and hauled him into the house, followed by the others closely.

"What is it? What's wrong with Stiles?" That was Lydia's voice, trying to sound as threatening as she possibly could. Which was yeah, fucking frightening if you asked Stiles.

"He was bit. The werewolf that attacked him and he burnt must have done it." Everyone gathered around where he was sprawled on the couch, with Derek trying to look at his wound even though Stiles was trying to squirm away. It hurt, like his arm was... being turned inside out.

"Fuck. Fuck, this is bad, isn't it? I've got the infection. They're going to... I have to be turned, don't I? My dad isn't going to like that." Derek shook his head, checking the wound and then swearing.

"I don't understand. Why is his progressing so quickly? It took me about an hour before I started to feel the way he looks." Danny was the only one there that had been through it. He was staring at the wound, imagining that this was what everyone else had felt when it had been him on the couch.

"Because he has a little extra going on with him at this point." Everyone stared at Derek, even Stiles who was trying to make sense of what was happening. Everything felt a little fuzzy though. Not fuzzy like werewolf fuzzy, just normal 'I swear to drunk I'm not god!' fuzzy.

"We're mated."

Everyone opened their mouths, trying to figure out what to say to that. Derek and Stiles were mated now? It had to have happened during the fight? But how? And now Stiles was sitting on the couch, well slouched really, with his arm rotting away. He had to be bit. Derek was going to have to bite and possibly cure, change, or kill his mate.

Stiles opened his mouth and let out a small laugh.

"This is not how I envisioned this going." Before anyone could respond, he threw up once more and promptly passed out.

The others were left stunned, scared, and unsure of what was going to happen next. Derek took a deep breath and looked at his pack. There were dead bodies piled in his front lawn and a burnt werewolf in his bushes and if Stiles' dad or any other officers came this way, there'd be a lot to explain. They'd have to get through this together. He already knew they wouldn't leave if he told them to. He'd have to ask, to beg, and he wasn't going to do that. They were a pack, as Stiles was so often trying to remind him.

He glanced back down at Stiles, his heart thudding in his chest quicker than Derek had ever heard it. He had to bite him now. Them being mated had sped up the infection. He was either going to cure the infection, turn his boyfriend, or kill him.

That in mind, he bent down and took a deep breath before baring his teeth and burying them into Stiles' shoulder.

Chapter Text

It felt a bit like waking up after being sedated. It sucked that Stiles now had something to base that off of. It hurt to breathe, like someone was sitting on his chest. He remembered going to Derek's house, bits and pieces of the fight, his arm feeling like it was on fire, and then nothing. His dreams, or hallucinations, were sort of Charlie Brown meets serious acid trip. He couldn't make sense of any of it except that voices were present and there was pain but nothing made it through.

When he actually woke up, it was to see Scott and Allison peering over him. Allison was crying and Scott was so pale he looked sick. Only werewolves didn't get sick, so that couldn't be it. He used his arm to prop himself up, wincing at the strain in his arm when he did it.

"Stiles." His head snapped up because that couldn't be... except it was. His dad was standing at the foot of the couch, arms crossed over his chest. He looked... pissed, to put it mildly. It brought back the events of the day.

The fight, burning up the werewolf, the bite, knowing that he and Derek were mated, Derek having to bite him...

His hand flew to his shoulder where there was another throbbing pain. His fingers skimmed over the gauze and he winced at the pain from it. Derek bit him. He was obviously not dead and no longer infected. Did that mean he was a werewolf? He cast a glance at Scott who looked down, shaking his head. Was he answering Stiles' unasked question? Did that mean he wasn't a werewolf?

"Stiles." Stiles looked up at his dad, his stomach knotting up.

"Yeah dad?" The sheriff looked around the room at the other occupants. Allison was holding on to Scott with... shit, Chris Argent sitting behind them. Jackson and Lydia were standing behind the couch, their clothes torn and dirty and bloody. Same as Allison and Scott's, to be honest. She had a scratch on her cheek that wasn't going to heal because she wasn't a werewolf. Danny was sitting in a chair nearby, head in his hands. If he was human, Stiles would assume it was because of him hitting the wall earlier, but he wasn't anymore.

Derek was the only one missing, strange since this was his house. Stiles wanted to ask where he was, but one look at his dad told him he better wait.

"We're going home." Stiles tried to shake his head, tried to say no, but his dad was staring at him and he knew better than to push it. He stood up, looking around at the group. None of them would meet his eyes. It was bad. It had to be bad if none of them would even look at him for more than a second. He glanced over to his dad who was waiting for him to walk to the door.

No. It wasn't good.

They went outside and Stiles bit his tongue as he saw the aftermath of the battle. There weren't any bodies in the yard, but it was stained with red. And there were arrows and bullet holes everywhere. They moved over to Stiles' car but his dad shook his head and pointed at his cruiser parked near the end of the driveway. Stiles nodded and moved towards that instead, pressing one hand tight to his arm where the bites were.

He glanced behind him, sensing more than anything that they were being watched. Derek was standing off in the woods, arms down at his sides and shoulders hunched. And as much as he wanted to run over to him, to figure out what was going on, he couldn't. His dad had a gun and looked pissed enough to use it on either of them at this point. Instead he tried to wave, tried to make Derek see he was okay.

"In the car." Stiles jumped, trying not to look guilty when he noticed that his dad had seen what he'd been trying to do. He slipped in, glancing out of the windshield to where Derek had been standing but he was gone. He shook his head and tried to get a read on his dad's emotions. He didn't know what was going on, except that his dad was there and had seen the aftermath and therefore probably...

God, that he hadn't called for backup and had them all arrested probably meant that he knew about the werewolves? He seemed pretty calm and collected for someone who just found out that werewolves existed.

They sat in silence as his dad navigated the roads, except they weren't heading home. Instead he pulled over on the side of the road next to the woods. It was a product of being in the pack that made Stiles want to tell his dad that that might not be the best place to park, what with all manner of creepy hunter people in town, but then he remembered that no, there weren't anymore.

That was going to take some getting used to. However that did still leave Derek's cousins to worry about.

His dad turned off the engine and turned to face him, forehead wrinkled and obviously trying to hold something in. He wanted to ask, wanted to try to put his dad's mind to ease about whatever he was worried about, but Stiles was pretty sure it wasn't going to be that easy.

"We need to talk." That was an understatement, but Stiles let it pass. Instead he lowered his head, glancing at the gauze that showed through the hole on his sleeve. The first bite had been on his bicep and the second on his shoulder. He wouldn't be able to go around shirtless without drawing questions.

Not that he went around shirtless anyways. But that was way off topic.

"Yes we do. And if you tell me where to start, I will." His dad shook his head, rubbing his hands over his face and sighing tiredly.

"Chris Argent came to me a few weeks ago. Laid out everything for me in detail. Your friends, your boyfriend, are werewolves. You can bet I laughed in his face and thought about having him put on the funny farm. I mean hell, Stiles; this man has more weapons than the entire police force. I wasn't exactly happy with the development that he was insane. But then he proved it."

Stiles couldn't help the fact that his jaw hit the ground at that. To think his dad had known for... for weeks?!

"Okay." His dad shook his head once more, placing them tiredly on the wheel.

"And he helped me come to terms with it. Not just with the fact that there are apparently werewolves, which I've spent my entire life knowing was not possible because it's fiction, right? So he helps me come to terms with that, with the fact that the teenagers that are in my house all the time are werewolves. That's not a big deal. And then I realize that your boyfriend, your twenty-four year old boyfriend, is a werewolf. And not just any werewolf. Argent called him the alpha? The head werewolf or whatever. And that's bad enough. I have to believe that you're with him because you care and not just because he's using his position... in the... I mean, what am I supposed to think, Stiles?"

Stiles shook his head, turning to face his dad and wincing when he bumped his arm against the chair in his rush to turn.

"It's really not like that dad. Yeah, he's my alpha because I'm in the pack, but it's not him abusing his position or whatever. It's not like he's my coach and touching me in the showers dad. It's completely consensual. I... fuck it. I love him."

His dad's eyes grew wide before he shook his head again, letting out half a laugh as he dropped his head back into his hands.

"Don't pull your punches or anything son." Stiles laughed, although he was definitely sure they weren't out of the woods just yet.

They sat in silence for a bit longer before the sheriff started the car again, pulling back onto the road and aiming towards the house. Stiles wasn't sure what he was thinking, since he seemed to come to terms with the werewolf thing pretty well. He also didn't seem too upset about Stiles being in love with Derek. There had to be something else, something else that was clouding his dad's eyes as they drove.

They pulled into the driveway of their house but neither made a move to get out of the car. They weren't done, that was for sure.

"I have to lie and hide this, cover it up. Do you know how much I hate this? I don't even know how I'd go about explaining that I left the scene of a crime without arresting anyone. I have a moral obligation. Do you understand that? I shouldn't have this job if I'm going to just walk away from things like this."

Stiles reached over and grabbed his dad's wrist, squeezing it a bit as he did so.

"You have a moral obligation to keeping people safe. Well that's what this does. Do you know how many times these people have tried to kill us? They are vicious in their intent and uncaring about who gets in the way." The sheriff pulled his hand away and got out of the car, stomping up to the porch. Stiles stumbled out of the car and followed him up.

"That's another thing. You continuously put yourself in danger. Those people wanted to kill you, all of you. Werewolf or not. I don't even want to know what hand you had in the fight. Not only do I have to worry about the effect this will have because of the violence but you're my son. And you're an idiot. You're going to keep putting yourself in danger and there's nothing I can do about it."

He couldn't get his key in the door so Stiles stepped up and grabbed it from his hands. Instead of putting it in the lock himself, he turned to face his dad and shook his head a little before wrapping his arms around his shoulders and squeezing.

"I know you don't want to think about it dad and I know you think I can't handle it, but we're good. I'm the only one that really gets injured and even that is just sometimes." You know, kidnapped and bitten and stabbed and t-boned. Apparently he had worse luck than he thought.

"If something happened to you..." He returned the hug, pulling his son tight and being sure not to hit his arm as he did.

"Nothing is going to happen to me dad. Derek won't let anything happen. You know, anything big. Or, well, bigger than have already happen." His dad pulled back and frowned at him, eyes dropping to the first bite on Stiles' arm.

"They told me that he had to bite you because you were going to die from the first bite. While I'm grateful for him saving your life, you wouldn't have been in that position if it hadn't been for him." Stiles fingered the bite on his shoulder through the gauze.

"It doesn't matter dad. My body apparently rejected the bite. I won't die but I won't be changed. And yeah, I wouldn't have been in the position if it hadn't been for Derek, but I was. And I am. Because he is my boyfriend and my alpha and... We’re mates."

His dad made a noise before pulling away completely, rescuing his keys from Stiles' fingers and unlocking the door. He moved through the house, dropping his badge and gun on the kitchen table before slumping into one of the chairs. Stiles kicked off his shoes and took his place in front of his dad.

"Remember what I said about pulling punches. What does mates mean exactly? For you, as a seventeen year old human that's grounded for at least twenty years." Stiles laughed a bit and then shrugged.

"Honestly, I don't know how it's going to work. I only know a little bit about it and it kind of only just happened during the huge blowout so we haven't had the time to discuss it. We're connected, we can sense one another. I don't know, there's probably more."

He wished he had the answers for his dad, but not just for his dad's expense. He had a lot of questions himself, ones he hadn't been able to ask Derek because they weren't talking about being mates. But now they were; Derek had acknowledged it. Now they just had to talk about it.

"Do you only mate with one person or can you still break up? Is it forever? Do you pick your mate or is it destiny or whatever?" His dad was asking questions that Stiles should have answers to, but sadly...

"I only know that it's sort of both, destiny and your choice. Your body knows it and you have to acknowledge it for it to work I guess. I'll talk to Derek and get the answers and give them to you."

His dad sighed, wiping a hand over his face before standing up.

"Seeing as how this relationship is a lot more extreme than I thought, I'll be talking to Derek first. But that'll be tomorrow. As for today, you're grounded. Don't give me that look young man, I need to do something. I can't ground you for lying because I let you, but I can ground you for... I don't know, something. Either way, hand over your phone and get to your room."

Stiles fished the phone out of his pocket and handed it to his dad. He stood up, trying not to gripe because he wasn't sure he deserved to be grounded, when he heard his dad's voice come out softly.

"I am glad you're okay Stiles." He nodded before moving to his dad's side, throwing his arms over his shoulders once more and holding on tight.

"You're not going to tell me not to see Derek or the others anymore, right?" His dad laughed a little, hugging him tight for a brief moment before releasing him.

"I have a feeling no matter what I say, you'll still hang out with them. But no, you're not forbidden from associating with them. Just do me a favor and keep me in the loop when things like this are going on? I can't do anything, but it'll help my ulcers to know that you're in danger and not just find out about it while hearing about the dozen dead bodies in front of your boyfriend's house."

Stiles snorted a laugh before turning towards the stairs. His dad's voice halted him once more.

"By the way, if your boyfriend is trying to be discrete, you might want to tell him that a bunch of dead people and gunshots coming from his property is the opposite of that. Just a thought."

--------------

At school the next morning, with his dad dropping him off with a stern look and then a light laugh when Stiles did nothing but try to stare innocently back, Stiles spent the first few minutes looking for any of his friends. People were scattered everywhere, heads together as they whispered about what happened the day before. The shooting of the school became news and the investigation was ongoing, but because there wasn't anything else they were going to be able to figure out about the shooters, Stiles chalked it up to a loss for the media hounds.

The first one of the pack he found was Danny. He was hunched over at his desk in class and Stiles nearly brained himself tripping over his own feet to get over there. The noise caused everyone in the class to look at Stiles, although they all looked away once they saw it was him. Helped to have a reputation for being disruptive. People paid you no mind.

Danny shot a glance at the teacher before bending his head over to where Stiles was sitting.

"You haven't answered any of our texts or calls Stiles. What's going on? Your dad was super pissed. Are we... are we..." He couldn't seem to get the words out, but Stiles was able to read between the lines. He wanted to know if they were in danger of being caught out. Stiles shook his head.

"No. Apparently daddy dearest has known for a while about the werewolf thing. And while he definitely wasn't happy about the massacre and how he has to ignore his sheriffly duties to arrest everyone in sight, he's okay with it. I mean, there is a possibility I'm grounded until my grandkids graduate from college, but he isn't going to alert the media or anything like that."

Danny sighed, dropping his head back down onto his desk. Stiles couldn't imagine how much it'd been eating at Danny, as the new werewolf, to know that everything might come crashing down around their heads. At least Stiles could honestly say that wasn't the case.

"What happened after I left?" Danny lifted his head to peer at Stiles before dropping it once more with another sigh. He seemed to be doing a lot of that today.

"Allison's dad tore us a new one for our set up and not letting him know. He was pissed. Scott was a mess when they left because he's fairly certain that Argent won't let Allison see him anymore. Then Derek went MIA after you left so we were all kind of freaking out. Don't worry, he came back. Said he needed to check something. We were worried about you, about Allison, about him, about the damn Monroe clan that decided to stop by."

Stiles held up his hand as the teacher called his name in the role. After that, he turned his attention back to Danny.

"What about the werewolf that bit me and the alpha? I could have sworn they were part of the Monroe pack." Danny shook his head, pulling out a sheet of paper and miming that he'd write the next part down. Stiles nodded and turned back to the board where the teacher was starting her notes.

Despite being so distracted, Stiles actually paid attention to the lecture. Until the note was passed onto his desk. Then all pretense of paying attention was gone.

You were bit by Leo, but the alpha that attacked Derek was not Chastity. The hunters had their own wolves, apparently the alpha had just been sitting on the sidelines until now.

Stiles bit back a groan as he sketched out his response.

So Leo just happened to show up at the worse time possible?

He slid the paper back and went back to his notes. He wasn't even sure what they were studying, but he tried to understand it. The teacher seemed oblivious to the fact that none of the class was actually participating in the discussion.

The paper slid back to his side and he eyed the words quickly.

Derek says Chastity is pissed because you killed Leo and she's demanding retribution. Against you.

Stiles resisted the urge to thunk his head against his desk, shaking his head and writing his reply angrily.

Why, because I killed the werewolf that was attacking me? God werewolves are all the same.

Danny snorted back a laugh at that and folded the paper, sliding it under his binder as the teacher started to pass out a worksheet for them to complete. Stiles made a motion once her back was turned, asking Danny to borrow his phone. Once he had it, he sent a mass text to the pack.

Hey guys, it's Stiles. I'm okay; nothing is going to hell in a hand basket, compare stories at lunch.

Danny waved that he should keep the phone since the replies would be for Stiles, so he put it in his jacket pocket and started on the worksheet. Halfway through, he pulled the phone out and skimmed through the replies. Everyone was glad to hear he was okay and that they weren't about to become science experiments. The only two that did not reply were Allison and Derek. The thought of Derek not replying hit hard, but Allison? Not only was she pack, a sincerely good person, but she was Scott's better half. Literally. And if she wasn't there anymore, if something happened and she wasn't allowed to hang out with them, be with Scott? It wasn't fair.

But life wasn't fair. Stiles knew that.

The rest of the day went about the same. The classes he shared with the other members of the pack went by fast as they all tried to compare notes from what happened the night before between trying to pay attention. Scott seemed half dead the whole day, eyes strained and red around the edges. He barely spoke besides telling Stiles he was glad he was okay.

"So what does that tell us about society today? Stiles, how about you give us your outlook on it." Stiles glanced up from the notes he wasn't quite taking to the board. He had no idea what they were even talking about, so he went with his foolproof plan of being himself.

"Society is screwed because people are idiots."

The teacher raised an eyebrow but didn't call him out on not paying attention. Instead she sighed and nodded.

"That's not as in depth as I'd like, but still very true. Okay, so here's your homework for tonight."

----------------

Lunch was a bit of a clusterfuck. Everyone seemed to have heard from someone or other that Stiles had been alone with the shooters the day before. Damn, was it only the day before? Felt like weeks at that point. Everyone kept coming up to them to talk until finally Jackson took to staring at anyone that came too close.

"So what happened?" Lydia sighed as she leaned across the table to whisper to Stiles.

"You left and it was a mess. Chris Argent went all scary and yelling. I've honestly never seen Allison as pale as she was, and that's saying something. He told us we were irresponsible, that we should have called him in, that we are not equipped to handle these things. I mean, that's our job now isn't it? To protect our pack since all they are willing to do is wait around for our asses to be handed to us via some hunter or other."

Stiles tried to choke back a laugh, except that Scott looked like he'd been run over by a car and it wasn't that funny all of a sudden. He placed a hand on his friend's arm and squeezed. They'd figure out a way to keep him and Allison together.

"So what about the other pack? Derek killed their alpha, did he take over the rest of their pack or did we kill them all? And are we supposed to believe that Leo just happened by during all of this and accept that? Because it seems really sketchy if you ask me." The rest of the group nodded. Jackson glared at another person on their way over before issuing his own questions.

"And what about the retribution she's demanding? I know we don't plan on giving in, don't give me that look Stilinski, but are we going to have to fight? Will Derek have to kill her?"

Stiles didn't want to think about it, except he had to. There might be another fight and Derek might have to kill his (potentially) last remaining relative and if that is what it comes to, would he be the alpha over Chastity's group? Would the cyborg-like werewolves accept that or challenge it?

Would the fighting ever actually end?

"From what Derek said, it seems that the other pack was demolished. He said he'd feel if he'd gotten new pack members. As for Leo stopping by, it does look like mere coincidence, but that doesn't stop the fact that Chastity is pissed." Scott's voice was rough, scratchy as if he'd been yelling or... god, crying?

"So she can attack us and poison us, put our lives on the line, but we can't fight back? Let's talk about double standards, shall we?"

The group made an aborted sound as one, like a laugh that was not meant to be, but once everyone else heard it, it seemed to trigger the real thing. Everyone, even Stiles, started to laugh until the people who had been staring at the group because of Stiles were now staring because they were laughing so hard their faces were turning red.

It was a deep belly laugh, one that made their stomachs and faces hurt, with them breaking down into giggles every time someone tried to compose themselves. It was a laugh born out of desperation and anxiety, a laugh that was contagious and probably detrimental to their health, but they didn't care. They needed this, together.

Once they calmed down, all but Lydia and Stiles who kept giggling in random intervals, they tried to talk about normal things. Homework was high on the list. There were still a lot of questions that needed to be answered, but they didn't have the answers. Really, Derek was probably the only one that did have those answers, and since he still hadn't responded to the text Stiles had sent from Danny's phone, they wouldn't be getting those for a while.

Stiles felt something tickle up his spine, like he was being watched. He turned around and while some people were looking his way, it didn't fit. It wasn't that he felt threatened; just... it felt very specific? He excused himself from the group, claiming he needed to use the restroom, before heading into the hallway. He could hear people talking, but the feeling wasn't going away. He made his way further from the lunch room but the feeling didn't go away. He was about to head back, about to ask if anyone else had that feeling, when he spotted something lurking in a dark corner of the hallway.

Was that... that couldn't be...

"Charlie?" He lifted his glasses, his blue eyes shining from the dark, and nodded. Stiles cast a look around before moving to stand next to him.

"I don't want to know how you snuck into a school that has cops posted at every entrance. No offense, you don't look like a student." Stiles wasn't sure why he didn't feel threatened, standing next to the mate of the alpha werewolf that wanted his head on a platter for killing Leo, but he knew that Charlie wasn't going to hurt him.

"I was just coming to check on you. See how everyone fared in the battle. Little cousin came over after it happened, to see who was involved. Chas is pissed because of Leo, but he brought it on himself." Stiles felt his mouth drop open, because that wasn't what he expected even if he hadn't really been expecting anything.

"What do you mean, brought it on himself?" Charlie tensed, hearing something out of Stiles' capabilities, before shrugging.

"Chas didn't tell him to bite you. The other teen, yes, and even the hunter's daughter, but you were off limits because you are cousin's mate. She told us to keep our distance from you, but Leo is new. Best way he saw to make a name for himself would be to be the one to infect you so that you were turned. Being new, he didn't know it wouldn't work."

Stiles shifted on his feet as that information sunk in.

"Whoa, okay, back up there. One, why am I off limits just for being mated to Derek and two, why wouldn't it work?" Not that Stiles was complaining because while he'd definitely been giving more thought to getting the bite, he also was sure that he wanted to wait. He knew that Derek wasn't going anywhere, that they were going to stay together. No rush, they had all of the time in the world.

"As his mate, anything that happens to you would cause him to go off the deep end. We don't mate for life, although we can, but mates are important. If the connection is ended without the acknowledgement of both parties, same as going in, it messes with the wolf part of us. And it wouldn't work because the mate part messes with the venom we deposit in our bite. Means his bite would have only killed or cured you; there was no chance of turning you."

That actually drew Stiles up short. Why was it that all of his mating questions were always answered by Charlie? At this point, he was going to become their relationship advice go to guy. If Derek didn't dispatch the entire Monroe pack, which was possible at this point.

"Well, yeah. Okay. That is information I needed to know. Does that mean I'll never have the choice to be turned?" Charlie shook his head, eyes straying the way that Stiles had just come. He popped his sunglasses back on and leaned against the wall.

"No, you still have that choice. It was just battling with the infection and the first priority for a mate is to save, not turn. If you'd been shot, it would have been different. Little cousin can bite you with the intent to change you now."

Stiles felt his eyes bug a bit and then he nodded, eyes rolling as he took in all of the news. He could still be turned if he wanted to?

"Does me not dying the first time mean that I won't die the next?" Charlie nodded, head turning towards the hall once more.

"I should head out. Look, Chastity and your mate are working on a cease fire. If they agree on the terms, we'll be heading out." Stiles bit his lip as he thought about it, but then nodded. He was almost tempted to get Charlie's number, just in case he had other mate questions he wanted to ask.

"Well hopefully it'll be all good. You know, no one brutally murdered for the fun of it." There had definitely been enough of that in Beacon Hills.

Charlie held out his hand and Stiles eyed it oddly before shaking it, smiling as Charlie shook his head before heading down the hall. Stiles watched his back retreating, eyebrow raised and almost terrified to go back into the lunch room and tell the others what happened. They took their protective detail of Stiles just a little too seriously sometimes.

When he finally got back and told them what happened, Lydia slapped him across the back of his head and told him to never do that again. Stiles had to give that one to her, but it didn't matter. He had a feeling that it was a moot point. Something told him the Monroe pack was going to be leaving.

----------------

His dad picked him up from school in silence. Stiles was used to riding in the front with his dad, on various occasions, but never in this stony silence. He tried to think of something he could do or say that would lessen the tension, but there was nothing. His dad was still sore about what had taken place the day before, still trying to figure out his own mindset on his son, his only child, putting himself in harm's way with nothing but what should be fictional beasts and monsters to protect him.

Halfway home, his dad gestured to the glove box. Stiles opened it, not sure what to expect. His dad's spare ammo was in there, as well as... Stiles' phone! He pulled it out and held it to his chest lovingly, because he could pretend that he was okay without it for (less than) a day, but he really wasn't.

Can't blame him, his is the technology generation. He tapped the button to unlock it but it was dead. He could wait until they got to the house to plug it in and turn it on. He'd have a million texts and calls from the pack, because they all told him they kept trying to get in touch with him. He just also hoped he had something from Derek.

"I'm giving that to you in a show of good faith, alright Stiles? Something else happens, you are letting me know. I don't care if you and your gang of misfits can handle it; I want to know ahead of time. It'll help keeping you all out of the news papers and science shows." Stiles nodded, resisting the urge to reach across the car and hug his dad. They'd probably crash and that was the last thing Stiles wanted.

"Thank you dad. You have no idea what this means for me. For all of us."

And really it still didn't make much sense that his dad was this okay with it, but he wasn't about to question it. He knew what they said about gift horses and mouths. This was a show of good faith and he planned on doing right by that. If that meant putting his foot down with the rest of the pack, he was more than willing to do just that. They listened to him, because he deserved respect and because he was Derek's mate. At least that part made sense now.

When they pulled into the driveway, Stiles was surprised to see the jeep parked in its usual spot. He eyed it oddly; about to ask how it got there, but his dad beat him to it.

"Don't ask. It's best if for now, you just don't ask. Now get in the house and we'll talk more when I get off tonight. You are no longer grounded, but remember what I said."

Stiles did hug his dad at that, promising to let him know if something came up. He dropped his bag off on the couch before running up the stairs, tripping as he did so, to plug his phone in. Once it was charging, he turned it on. Only problem with that is it takes smart phones about half a year to boot, so he moved around his room and did his version of a pace before he heard the chime that meant he had notifications. Thankfully it was just one and not one for each notification.

He had sixty three text messages, although a glance showed none from Derek. He had twenty two phone calls, and again, none from Derek. He sighed, reading through the texts for anything important. He listened to the voicemails, saving the ones that gave him good blackmail (really, Jackson should just stop pretending that he didn't care when he so obviously does), and deleting the rest. He contemplated calling Derek, but if he hadn't made contact yet, it was probably for a good reason.

Not good enough. Stiles waited for his phone to charge, doing idle things around the house until it was finished, before he hopped in his jeep and sped out of the driveway. He was halfway to Derek's when he pulled over, placing his forehead on the steering wheel. Before he went to Derek, to talk everything out and make sure the older man knew nothing had changed, he had to do something else.

---------------

The Argent house was tall and foreboding as always. He knocked three times, loud and quick, before stuffing his hands in his pockets and rocking back and forth as he waited. He didn't know what to expect, either Allison or Chris or the scary Mrs. Argent who he'd never seen handle a gun but still seemed scarier than her husband. Seriously, that woman made even Derek a little uneven, and that took talent.

The door opened though and there stood Chris, unimpressed with Stiles' appearance. He cast a glance into the house before stepping onto the porch, causing Stiles to step back.

"To be honest, I figured Scott would be the first one I'd see today." Stiles opened his mouth to respond to that but then snapped it shut. He needed to keep his cool for this, needed to not attack with his sharp wit just yet.

"I wanted to talk about what happened yesterday." Chris shrugged, looking over the garden beside the door before turning back to look at Stiles, mouth twisted in something that was definitely not a smile.

"You mean the battle royale in Hale's front yard that you incompetent teenagers thought you could hide, or something else?" After taking a deep breath to keep from snapping at the insult, Stiles began to speak.

"It wasn't planned. I mean, it was, obviously, but not in too much of advance. We had like an hour's warning, maybe. And we didn't think we could hide it, okay, but what did you want us to do? Call you and tell you about it? You're a hunter! You hunt werewolves; you don't fight along beside them." Chris took a threatening step forward, eyes narrowed and twisted smile still present.

"I've hunted those hunters for your little group more than once." Stiles pushed himself to his full height, staring straight at Chris and not backing down. He needed to be smart about this.

"Except it wasn't just for the pack, was it? No, because the first group of hunters didn't give a shit about hurting innocent people and this group attacked a school full of innocent people. These people were threatening your way of life, so you had to neutralize the threat. Well they were threatening our lives, not our way of life, so we did the same. So don't get all high and mighty on me about it, because you wouldn't lift a finger to help us until I blackmailed you into it."

And Chris couldn't respond to that because it was true. Stiles felt pretty damn good about that. He wanted to add on that Chris had no right to tell his dad about the werewolf stuff, but he kept it to himself. His dad was taking it well, or as well as he could, so it wasn't like he did him a huge disservice. It actually felt good not to be lying to his dad anymore. Instead he zeroed in on a different topic.

"As for Scott and your daughter? You're an idiot if you think that you will keep them apart just by keeping her out of school. You know what, they love each other. Yes, she's the daughter of hunters and yes, he's a werewolf, but this isn't Romeo and Juliet. Well, you know... never mind, bad example. They love each other and keeping them apart is only going to make her resent you. You know it, I know it, she knows it. So why bother?"

That didn't get a reaction, except a slight narrowing of Chris' already narrowed eyes. He turned towards the house and sighed, casting a glance over his shoulder before shaking his head.

"If that's all, you are more than welcome to get off my property now."

Stiles laughed, hopping off the porch and heading towards the jeep. He wasn't sure that what he said would help, but at least he knew it wouldn't hurt. He drove mindlessly until he got to the point where had to make a decision. Right would take him home and left would take him to Derek's. He flicked on the turn signal to go right, making up his mind that he could wait, that it wouldn't matter if they talked on the phone or in person at this point. He just needed to know that Derek was okay, that was all. Of course. Obviously.

With his signal blinking right, Stiles cursed and turned left.

---------------

Derek was standing on the porch of his house when Stiles pulled in. He must have sensed Stiles coming, which would freak Stiles except he liked it. He just wished it worked more the other way around. He got out of the jeep and made his way over to where Derek was standing tensely against the wall, much like he thought that if he moved, the house might crumble.

Which would have been true months ago, but it was better now. More bullet holes than before, but those could be fixed. Nothing was permanent. Well, almost nothing.

"So that went well." He watched the corner of Derek's mouth twitch up in an almost smile before it fell once more. Stiles could feel his lungs working against his ribs as he fought a panic attack down. He hadn't seen Derek this unemotional when just around Stiles in a while.

"Your dad stopped by earlier today." Which explained the jeep in the driveway. The way Derek said it, voice tight as if he was afraid otherwise he'd say something he didn't want to, worried Stiles more than he could explain.

"He said he wanted to talk to you. How'd uh... how'd that go?" Derek shrugged, leaning away from the house but still not moving any closer to where Stiles was standing on the porch. He didn't turn his head, didn't look to where Leo's body had fallen from the porch and burned the bushes. He wasn't sure he could stomach it just then.

"He asked a few questions. I gave him the answers I had." Stiles nodded, already knowing that was going to happen.

"What questions did he ask?" Derek shrugged once more, moving a little closer to Stiles as he did so. The move automatically made Stiles move an inch or two closer himself.

"About us mating. If it was permanent, if it was coercion. If I have purely good intentions towards you."

Stiles couldn't help the blush that came at that because he knew that whatever Derek's intentions were, they were good, but not all that pure. He could feel it in the way Derek's eyes roamed over his body randomly. Like right now. Hot damn.

"And uh... your answers?"

Derek moved closer, once more drawing Stiles closer just out of habit. He could remember months and months ago that he would have stepped back, but now he couldn't imagine it.

"That it was permanent for me, but that if you ever changed your mind, I'd respect it. That I did not coerce you in any way. And my intentions were towards your happiness."

Stiles felt something flutter in his stomach, maybe a little lower, because the heat was starting to pool in Derek's eyes as he moved closer. His voice had turned low, husky at that last sentence, and it had nothing to do with the alpha in him. His voice was a low timbre because... ah fuck it.

Without another second wasted, Stiles launched himself at Derek, wrapping his arms tight around his neck and pulling him down hard. Their lips crashed painfully, but Stiles wasn't pulling away. He wanted this now, more than ever, and he wasn't pulling back unless someone forced him. And even then, it'd probably take a while.

Derek eased one hand up Stiles' back until he was cradling the back of his head, tilting it just lightly to the side so that he could deepen the kiss. His tongue swept across Stiles', twining with it and then delving deeper. The noises that Stiles was making, if he could hear them, would have embarrassed him. It must have done something for his boyfriend, his mate, because Derek groaned. The hand that he'd had on Stiles' hip moved to his thigh and lifted him. With a little help from Stiles, they had him pinned against the wall, one leg hoisted onto Derek's hip, while desperately trying to abort the movements of his hips.

He really didn't want to come in his jeans, but he was pretty sure he was going to.

Stiles' own hands were busy, one roaming from Derek's hair to his arm and shoulder and back and ass and stomach and chest and neck... everywhere really. The other was tight in Derek's shirt, grip so tight that his fingers were starting to hurt but he didn't care. If Derek thought he was leaving, he was going to lose a shirt.

"Fuuuck, okay, if we don't move this inside, we're christening your porch." It needed good memories, but Stiles pushed that thought away. Instead he hopped down off of Derek's hip, and that thought did odd things to his insides, before using his grip on Derek's shirt to pull him inside. They didn't even make it past the thick carpet in the living room, with Derek dropping them right there. He kept his hand on the back of Stiles' head to keep it from smacking the floor and ruining the mood as they fell.

"I don't even care about your compulsive need to be on top, but if you don't do something right now, I might kick you." Derek stifled a laugh into Stiles' neck before dropping a series of kisses there, leaning up to kiss Stiles' hot and deep once more.

And really, Stiles knew he was going to be a talker during sex. It was sort of a given. But he never expected Derek to like it as much as he did. He might call Stiles out on it, letting him know that it was happening in a laughing voice, but he didn't mind. He liked hearing that he was doing a good job.

He was a modest man, through and through.

Except that Stiles was no longer thinking because Derek had sat up, kneeling between Stiles' legs, and was unbuttoning his jeans and pulling them down just a bit. Two things came to mind. The first was that he was totally wearing the wrong boxers for this, except Derek didn't even seem to notice the comic book characters. The second was that this was not the normal position for a hand job. At least not one that Stiles was expecting. Because yes, that was his dick that was no longer enclosed in his boxers and... Holy shit, that was Derek's mouth.

He wasn't aware they'd graduated past hand jobs, but he wasn't about to complain. Especially because his dick was in Derek's mouth and it's just rude to complain about that. Or Stiles would assume. Fuck. It was hot and wet and he kept curling his tongue around the head, making Stiles' head drop back even though he was struggling to watch the action. Fuck if that wasn't the hottest thing he'd ever seen.

He let one hand card through Derek's hair before dropping to his cheek, feeling the way he hollowed his cheeks and god that mouth was going to kill him. He dropped his hand a little further until his thumb brushed the corner of Derek's mouth where it was wrapped around him. And damn damn damn, his hips jerked up and he could feel more than see that he'd gagged Derek a bit with that. Derek pulled back, swallowing air for a second before looking up at Stiles.

And no, that was the hottest thing he'd ever seen.

"Let's hold back that until we've had a bit more practice." He maneuvered himself once more until he could hold Stiles' length with one hand, his other arm thrown over his hips to keep him down. If Stiles thought that'd hinder the enjoyment, he was seriously wrong.

He was going to have to look into the issue he had with being held down by his boyfriend during certain sexual acts. Except he really enjoyed it, so maybe not. Derek went right back to work, tonguing the slit and swallowing around as much of Stiles' dick as he could before Stiles felt the familiar tingle at the base of his spine.

"Der... fuck... Derek." His mouth couldn't form words, which was a first. Unless he'd been babbling this entire time, there was a good chance that Stiles hadn't even spoken since it started. That was a first.

Just as Stiles thought it couldn't get any better than this, Derek dove down as deep as he could and made a noise in the back of his throat... holy fuck, he was growling with Stiles' dick in his mouth!

Stiles pulled Derek's hair, the only warning he could manage at that venture, as he started to come. Derek pulled off, using his hand to milk the rest out of him. It was on his shirt and stomach and probably on the floor somewhere, but he didn't care. He rolled a bit until he could get Derek underneath him, struggling to tuck himself back into his pants as he did so. He knew he wasn't particularly ready to go down on Derek, not until he had a better grasp on what it was he should do, even though Derek was a terrific teacher. He was exceptionally glad that fangs hadn't been introduced.

Instead he reached between them, his hand fumbling with Derek's belt and then button and zipper. He was once again lucky that Derek wasn't wearing briefs, sticking his hand in the fly of the boxers and pulling Derek's dick from the confines of his pants. He ran the tips of his fingers up the length, circling his thumb over the head a few times before gripping as tight as he could without hurting him, moving it up and down slowly. He skimmed his thumb over the head every other pump, watching as Derek writhed underneath him.

It was an intoxicating sight. He bent down, sure to keep his rhythm as he did so, and captured Derek's mouth. It was odd, knowing that Derek's mouth had only just moments before been on his own dick, but he didn't care. He used his tongue the same way he used his hand, pushing forward as his hand slid to the base, pulling it out as his hand went to the head. The result was instantaneous, with Derek swearing and pulling Stiles closer, one hand on his head to force the kiss to become more heated and faster, the other hand down to wrap around Stiles' hand. Only instead of guiding it to go faster, like Stiles was sure he would, he simply left it wrapped tightly around his wrist.

Knowing that his pace was just a tease, he started to speed up with the pattern of Derek's breathing, a race to see who got there first. Either Derek was going to come or hyperventilate, but Stiles was hoping for the first. He twisted his wrist, feeling Derek's hand tighten barely before he was swearing, hips jerking upwards and forcing his dick harder into the circle of Stiles' fist. It was hot and heady and the taste in Derek's mouth was drawing him into a trance, so he quickened his pace once more. He wanted this to be as good for Derek as it had been for him.

He needn't worry about it because Derek pulled him down for a kiss, swearing into his mouth as his hips stuttered, a splash of warmth landing on Stiles' hand. He waited it out, until Derek's hips stopped jerking and he was breathing calmly into the kiss once more. At that point, be backed up so he could look at the mess between them before laughing and tucking Derek back into his pants.

As he opened his mouth to talk about a shower, maybe try to entice Derek into sharing one, Derek pulled him back down for another kiss. He pulled back just enough to whisper against Stiles' lips.

"Your dad asked one more question when he was here." And while Stiles wanted to chastise Derek for bringing up his dad that soon after a terrific orgasm, he knew he wouldn't have done it unless it was important.

"What was that?" Derek rolled them so that they were on their sides and facing one another, lips brushing as they breathed the same air.

"If I was in love with you." Stiles felt his heart stutter in his chest, knew that Derek could hear it too. He didn't care. He let one hand skim up Derek's chest to wrap around his neck.

"And what did you answer?" He waited, held his breath and waited. He'd already made his leap. It was Derek's turn. He waited, eyes locked on Derek's, unsurprised when they flashed red.

"Yes."

--------------

After that, things in Beacon Hills seemed to settle down a bit. Which wasn't to say that they weren't ready for whatever may happen, because they were. It just meant that the strangeness returned to a level they could handle.

Chastity and the Monroe pack left, but not before Charlie made one last stop to wish Stiles luck. He didn't explain what he was wishing him luck for, but Stiles didn't need it clarified. Being the human mate of a werewolf was going to be difficult, but he didn't care. He loved Derek. And he now had proof that Derek loved him. He could handle the rest of it. Besides, there was still the chance to be changed. And Chastity, while beyond unhappy that Stiles had bested one of her betas, even made an effort to appear friendly as she told them goodbye.

Of course on her way out, Derek had told them that if they came back, he was telling Chris Argent to have a field day with them. While Chastity laughed it off, the rest of her pack looked satisfyingly worried. It did wonders for morale of the Hale pack. They'd had enough of her special brand of crazy.

Allison came back around, hugging Stiles tightly but not explaining what brought it on. It wasn't needed. His little chat with Chris had apparently done wonders. He smiled as he watched Scott and Allison moon over one another, being almost as disgustingly sweet as they had been to begin with. Finishing each other's sentences, needing only a look to convey a world of thoughts, the casual touches that spoke volumes. Stiles knew for a fact that if they hadn't already, and Derek had said he would know if they had, they'd become mates soon enough.

The same could be said for Lydia and Jackson who were never far from one another. Their changes had changed them more than just physically. Jackson was still a dick, and that was probably never going to change, but his eyes constantly sought out Lydia whenever she was nearby. As for Lydia, she would come into her own with the changes, but until then she has a control over the rest that was put down to her simply being herself. She was fast, a blinding speed that even made Derek wary sometimes, but she was modest about it.

Sometimes Derek confessed that he saw a little of Peter in Lydia, the way she moved or the way she spoke, but he wasn't worried. Betas sometimes held some characteristics of the one that bit them. That being said, Stiles really didn't see any of Derek in Danny, Scott, or Jackson.

Maybe he was biased. Or maybe he really just didn't want to see the guy he was boning in any of his friends. He had enough problems.

Then there was Danny, who was training with the others, and picking it all up a lot faster than anyone had imagined. Lydia would always be a straggler, at least until they found someone or something to help them with her unique case, but the rest of them were amazed. Scott had been slow to pick up on things, but he'd had a lot going on with him those first few weeks. Jackson had moved along at a steady pace, at least Derek seemed satisfied. But they were impressed by Danny's progress.

It was sort of assumed that if any of the betas were to become Derek's second in command, it was going to be Danny. Neither Jackson nor Scott seemed to mind that at all, which was good.

Their progression was noted by at least everyone in the pack, but also probably by the sheriff who made a comment about being able to tell something was different. Stiles tried to tell him it was just the mates thing, which was true, but he wasn't sure if his dad bought it. For both of their sake, it was a good thing the sheriff didn't push the issue.

About a month after everything happened, Stiles found himself alone in the house with Derek. It wasn't awkward, never was between them anymore. He was quiet on his bed, reading a book for his English class that he was about 76% sure he'd read before, while Derek was on his computer or snooping through Stiles' stuff. It happened and Stiles had stopped trying to make Derek understand that there were boundaries.

Apparently becoming Derek's mate meant that everything was fair game. Not that Stiles minded. It worked both ways.

It was for that reason that Stiles was a little surprised by how angry Derek look when he turned around, a stack of papers in his hands. Stiles eyed it, trying to remember what it could be, but was coming up blank.

"Problem?" Derek threw them onto the bed, scattering them out. It was a series of letters from different colleges he'd applied to for early admissions. Wait listed, declined, and accepted. It was a hefty stack too. Stiles felt his back tighten as he looked over them. Oh yeah, Derek was probably pissed because Stiles hadn't told him, or any of the pack, that he'd been applying. In fact, whenever it was brought up, he'd changed the subject.

"Why didn't you tell us?" That was the other thing. Derek had started referring to the pack as an us, or a we, which made Stiles exceptionally happy. Not that now was a good time to focus on that.

"I've been waiting. I mean, I want the pack to stay close together, right? So I wanted to see where everyone else went before I decided."

Scott was going to a community college near town, to save money. The others were scattered about the state at this point, no farther than two hours, all except Lydia who was pending acceptance to a college out east even though she knew she wasn't going to take it.

"You shouldn't base your decision on the pack Stiles. No matter where you go, you'll always be pack. I told Lydia that when she said she just wanted to see if she could get in to that yuppie school." Stiles nodded, pulling Derek down onto all of the letters and then propping his chin onto Derek's chest.

"I know, I know that. It's not like that really. But between wanting to save money and not even knowing what I want to major in, I kind of... I'm thinking about the community college like Scott. Just for two years, maybe three, while I work everything else out."

It was true. He'd spent a lot of time thinking about it, even some time talking to his dad and the financial aid people at the college. Derek shook his head as he pressed his lips against Stiles' temple.

"You should have said something Stiles. Keeping it to yourself just makes it look bad." Stiles nodded, purposefully digging his chin into Derek's sternum until he was hoisted up and they rolled, the papers sliding off the bed and crumpling beneath them.

"Can I ask you a question?" Derek made a noise in the back of his throat as he pulled Stiles just a bit closer to him, pressing a kiss to his forehead before running his hand up and down Stiles' spine slowly.

"If I did move away, went to school out of state or something, would you come with me? Or would you stay here?" Derek hummed lowly as he rolled them over, pinning Stiles beneath him.

And really, it was a good question. The only thing tying Derek to Beacon Hills now was the pack. If they scattered to the four corners of the earth, he could stay there as their home base, but what was the point? So Stiles waited as Derek held him down, eyes moving over his face as he seemed to look for the right words.

"If you were to leave Beacon Hills to go to school, out of state or an hour away, I would be right beside you. That's how this works. I am right by your side in all things."

The sound of it, in Derek's voice that Stiles now associated with them being mates, the one that made Stiles shiver, caused Stiles to smile brightly and lean up, and pressing his lips almost painfully against Derek's.

"I like the sound of that."