Stiles shoves a bag into Jackson arms, smirking when he fumbles to keep it from falling. “Come on guys! It’s the Fourth of July, we need to celebrate like the red-blooded Americans we are!” At least Allison is a little more spirited, her clothing attesting to the fact since she’s dressed in red, white, and blue. Stiles is even wearing his Captain America shirt with a red button down Scott’s just happy to be spending the day with Allison, while Stiles is committed to making sure this is a gathering that they all remember. Derek’s bent over the engine of his Camaro, stripped down to a pair of black jeans and grey tank. There is grease smeared across his cheeks and as he hears their approach, he stands up straight and tries to wipe some of the mess off his hands and onto a rag. He looks confused, probably wondering what his whole crew is doing together and…not fighting.
Jackson’s grumbling to Danny who’s just chuckling and telling him to calm down, everyone’s got a bag to carry, five for Stiles who had been the one to amass all the supplies. No one could blame him though, it was going to be tough feeding ten people, most of who are werewolves AND teenagers. “Happy fourth!” Stiles proclaims, shoving some bags into Derek’s confused embrace with a grunt. “I know you didn’t really say anything about getting together tonight but I thought the pack could use some bonding time and my dad always said my spaghetti and meatballs could have stopped both World Wars.” They’re following him into the house, in that stunned silence that people usually get after Stiles shocks them somehow. He even has fireworks in the back of his jeep for them to set off later, and sparklers to run around in the forest with, because god knows they’ll end up playing hide-and-seek. It seemed to be the favorite game for werewolves who love to test their skills by searching for others. Stiles finds it amusing that Derek really lets go when they’re playing, he’s been tackled more than a few times and seen the youthful look in his eyes. It makes him happy…It makes them all happy.
They spent the better part of the last three months fixing up the Hale house with all their hard manual labor, and even then (after countless hours of werewolf sweat and tons of fights) they were only partially done. The basement still needed to be cleared out…Derek had refused to even go down there yet, unable to look into the cellar where his family burnt to death. Stiles glanced at the door leading down to the basement, his usually happy expression deepening slightly at the thought.
Suddenly, every werewolf in the room smells his emotions and they’re all crowding around him, taking up his personal space, wrestling bags from his arms, talking his ear off. Everyone’s here, they’re all together like they should be. Allison’s asking what she can do to help preparation for dinner, and Erica’s rooting through the fridge for a drink. Scott and Danny are heading back outside to practice lacrosse while Jackson talks quietly with Derek and Lydia. It’s just right.
Derek watches his…pack, his new family. Family. Something he hadn’t been certain he’d ever taste again, but here it is. He’s watching them chow down on Stiles’ ‘special’ spaghetti and meatballs and bickering about random things that make them all seem like brothers and sisters. Sometimes he feels like the only sane one there…then again, he did decide to turn a bunch of teenagers and let them join his pack, he was bound to have to deal with their emotional maturity still developing.
It’s an hour and a half before they’re all finished with dinner and desert and they’ve talked themselves in a circle, continually coming back to lacrosse now that most of his pack is either playing for the team or dating someone on the team...”get up,” his voice is gruff, not that tone, the alpha tone, that they are compelled to listen to by genetic coding but it’s a command nonetheless. Everyone’s interested, ears pricked as he watches them stand up. “Outside, run fast.” They’re definitely excited now, bounding out the front door and scrambling across the pine straw to get into the woods. They split up the second they hit the tree line, practically sprinting towards unknown destinations, catching glimpses of each other in the moonlight filtering through the leaves. Stiles literally runs into Danny who’s jogging diagonally and they crash foreheads, but laughter is already busting from their lips, drowning out the silence.
“Shit, sorry man,” Danny pushes himself up from the ground and offers the kid a hand, brushing his ass off afterwards.
“We better start running or Derek’s going to catch us, damn werewolves and their superhuman speed, it’s not fair sometimes—“ He’s cut off by a high pitched giggle erupting from their left and Stiles can tell it’s Allison who’s either been caught by Derek or Scott’s found her. Jackson zooms up, skidding to a stop two feet from Danny.
“Scott just found Allison,” he’s still grumpy, but there’s an exuberant light to his eyes, he’s even grinning slightly. “Come on, Derek’s going to catch you if you don’t run, and no one wants to do the dishes do they?”
“Wait who said we had to do the dishes if we lose?” But…Jackson’s already grabbing Danny’s arm and dragging him off at half the speed he could probably go with his superhuman run. Stiles is once again alone, cursing Jackson’s repressed nature and the ‘whatever’ he has for Danny.
Stiles hears the crack of a twig and he starts running in the direction he last heard Scott and Allison, hoping that if he runs across them Derek with capture them first and he won’t have to do the dishes…he did make dinner after all. Except he keeps running into empty clearings and all he can hear is the sound of his own heartbeat and the crunch of twigs under his feet and the consistent sound of his footfalls hitting earth. It’s a glorious night and Stiles almost wants to find a patch in the trees and lay down and stare at the stars. He hears a loud ‘fuck!!!!’ ring through the quite of the trees and it sounds like Lydia was tagged. Funny, most of the time she just gives up and sits on the same god damn rock because she doesn’t like the idea of Derek hunting them down as training. It’d be funny if she was actually trying this time and Derek still caught her quite easily. A shadow whizzes by him and Stiles tries to focus his eyes, noting Isaac and Boyd, claws out, ears pointed, and eyes glowing, they’re just playing with each other, growling throatily and fake lunging but then bounding ahead and chasing each other through the trees. Jesus, Stiles wishes he could find someone else, maybe Erica; she has to be wandering around here alone, he’s sick of being the lone man all the time while everyone else is paired up hanging out. Now that Scott’s got Allison Stiles has—a warm weight crashes into his back, curling around his frame and protecting him from the fall they take. Stiles will deny that he even made a noise, but the yelp he gave as he fell is still ringing in his ears.
Derek’s eyes are glowing red, but Stiles isn’t afraid anymore, hasn’t been since Derek wolfed out and saved him from Isaac tearing him apart when the kid was still new and had no control. Not to mention he’s grinning, glistening with sweat, and slightly hairier in the face because he’s letting some of the wolf sneak through. “Gotcha.”
“Ugh…do I have to do the dishes, because like I totally cooked, I mean isn’t there some rule against that? Not like an actual rule, but like a house rule that says cooks shouldn’t clean or something like that? I think that’s right. That should be a rule. Yeah—“
“Stiles, shut up.” Derek’s not spitting an insult or threatening anything with his tone. He’s simply telling Stiles to stop rambling like an idiot. “I got Erica, Lydia, Scott, and Allison before you.” Stiles vaguely wonders why he hadn’t heard more sounds, but most likely Derek just stumbled upon Scott and Allison making out under a tree or something, they wouldn’t have screamed because he wouldn’t tackle them…maybe just whack them upside the back of the head, yeah…that’s what Stiles would do. It’s no fun when you don’t play the game.
“Sooooo, how’d I do?” Stiles twiddles his fingers, trying to think up the other times he had gotten during hide-and-seek. He smirks at the thought the Derek actually times them on how long it takes to get each one. Derek would even be loathe to admit that he keeps a record on a whiteboard hung up in his room.
“Better…time wise, but you just wandered around this time. You didn’t run for long, just stopped and then started and then stopped. Not very effective if you’re actually getting hunted.” Derek taps the screen of his cell phone, still timing the others but making sure Stiles’ time is saved.
“I got distracted.”
“That always happens.” Derek gets up from the hands and knees position he had over Stiles’ prone form, reaching out a hand to help up the boy too. He doesn’t say anymore and points in the direction of the house before sprinting off in the underbrush after someone else.
Hours later the rest of the group is rounded up and Stiles has them sitting on the front porch holding sparklers, Jackson and Scott are setting off bottle rockets in the clearing in front of them, laughing and jumping when it falls over and shoots towards them. Derek looks a little surprised when Stiles shoves an unlit sparkler in his hand and lights it with the halfway out one he is already holding. However, he doesn’t complain, watching his pack through the smoke it makes. Glad to see they’re all having a wonderful independence day. Derek chuckles to himself, “happy fourth.”
Soon Allison’s looking droopy eyed, and Jackson can’t stop yawning, Isaac’s asleep in a lawn chair, and Lydia’s trying to stay awake where she is on the couch. Sighing, Derek whistles, getting their attention almost immediately.
“Are you stupid? Go to bed,” he watches them slowly shuffle to their feet, pile into the house like it’s sanctuary, like they belong here, and they do. Derek’s sure of it. His wolf isn’t howling anymore, it’s sated by all the pups he has to care for…as annoying as they can be, but deep down he needs it. It takes his mind off the bad things, off the nightmares, and the nagging thoughts. So, he stands there at the bottom of the stairs watching them turn and shuffle down the upstairs hallway. He’s planning to clean up for them as their one and only present this year.
Derek likes the thought that they’re there for each other, that the boys unconsciously pulled together into the same room. Inhabiting the second largest room that they’d knocked a wall down for. They stuffed three bunk beds in it, along with dressers, tables, a comfortable couch, a TV, a radio, and their own personal touches. He’d gone in there one day, expecting to find a stark emptiness to it, like they only came here when absolutely necessary, and that there would be no real attachment. He expected it to feel like a hotel where you came when you needed but not much else, just patrons…but it wasn’t. Sometime when he wasn’t looking they’d transported personal items, left some clothes in the dressers and moved in, as best they can for teenagers still living with their parents. He’d been pleased to see new sides of them, like Stiles’ need to have a top bunk and Scott’s total compliance, since he didn’t like the height. Or the fact that a lot of the time Danny and Jackson just slept on the same bottom bunk and most of the time it wasn’t for something sexual or needy, they just felt more comfortable sharing with someone, touching shoulder to shoulder or brushing arms and feet. He liked that Boyd and Isaac switched off bunks every week, giving each other a chance to have the top or the bottom as if they’d been friends for life and this just came naturally.
In the girl’s room, he hadn’t bothered to step past the door, but still reveled in the fact that Erica, Lydia, and Allison all had their own double beds. Stuffed animals had been added, the closets were filled somewhat, from what he could tell, and a glimpse into the bathroom told him the sink counters were already covered in products he would never know the function of.
All this and the fact that all their walls were now littered with posters and drawings and shelves were covered with books and CDs and DVDs; suddenly, felt better than whatever the hell he had been doing before.
After an hour, there was the all-quiet sign, a moment when Derek could literally hear their hearts falling into that familiar pattern of deep sleep. He vaguely wondered what they told their parents they were doing tonight, but the fact that no one’s coming busting through his front door is a good sign their lie is sticking. It’s kind of adorable how when they’re awake they can’t stop fighting or bickering or whatever the hell one would call it, and then there is that point where they understand that it’ not the time. Like maybe, someone’s upset or hurt and it’s inappropriate to make a joke, and it’s just like they know. He’d watched them quite a bit since he started teaching them and seen the growth right before his eyes. It almost sickened him at how sugary his thoughts were turning.
He grimaces, pulling his tank over his head and opening the back sliding glass door as quietly as possible. Even though he already ran after all of them during their game, he still has the need itching under his skin, to just keep going and going and never stop. Derek’ll run, be back before morning and collapse for just long enough that when the first pup gets up he’s awake to supervise they don’t strangle each other (because God knows Jackson and Erica have had it out a few times).
He’s out the door before anyone could even howl.