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The only one Derek can blame for this is Stiles. Stiles, who isn’t even a wolf, who takes care of everyone but rarely himself and always, always Derek.

Derek doesn’t even invite anyone to his house. They all should be afraid of it, considering how Derek became the Alpha barely hours ago. Derek couldn’t believe it when they shuffled in with backpacks and sleeping bags, piling up around the couch, even though the lumpy dust-covered thing has seen better days. Stiles opens a, a cooler and starts passing around beer and water and if Derek was human he might be having a panic attack right now. He settles for clenching his fists in a way that would normally make at least two of his four guests cringe. “What do you think you’re doing, Stiles?”

“Oh yeah, blame me,” Stiles says and rips open a bag of chips. “Always blame me.” He drops the bag untouched and leans back against the couch. “Let me guess, you don’t have a TV.”

“Could somebody tell me what you’re all doing here?” Derek growls, letting red sneak into his eyes, letting his claws show, letting them think he might lose control. Maybe a week ago this kind of nonsense could have pushed him that far but now, he’s the Alpha, and whatever’s happening right now doesn’t change the fact that he needs to stay in perfect control. It’s just a couple of teenagers, anyway. Two betas and two humans, and one of them isn’t  even fully a wolf yet. Derek can still smell the bite, his own saliva mingling with Jackson’s blood.  They aren’t a threat, not even remotely.

They’re all exhausted, that much was evident from the moment they pushed past him and into the room. Allison’s hands are trembling although her face doesn’t show her weariness except for the dark circles underneath her eyes. Her parents probably think she’s asleep. It’s a small feat in itself that she convinced them to even let her out of their sight. If they knew she was with Scott, let alone Derek…that’s a threat. That’s enough of a threat that Derek should physically toss them all out if necessary. But he doesn’t, because her eyes are rimmed red with unshed tears, too, and despite his feelings about her relationship with Scott, he respects her. He respects the way she fought to learn her parents secrets, the way the look in her eyes changed when she realized her aunt was the true monster. She’s caught between two worlds now, and that’s part of the Alpha’s job, isn’t it, to collect the people who aren’t sure where they belong.

Scott looks confused, like he’s not quite sure how he got here. Of everyone else, even Allison, Derek’s the most surprised to see Scott, because in Scott’s eyes at least, Derek ruined his life. Even if a cure was possible, it’s not terribly likely Scott would even survive. Derek’s doing him a favor, has been doing him a favor for months now. He wants to drag him out by his ears and throw him around the yard a few times, teach him a lesson or twelve and then send him home to lick his wounds. But he doesn’t, he just watches him clench and unclench his fists, surprised that Scott has enough control to keep from shifting even partially.

If Jackson’s feeling anything, anything at all, it’s not obvious from his face. He simply sits stiffly next to Allison with the same lemon-sucking sour look he’s always wearing, like he’s too good for present company and every moment he spends outside of his Porsche is yet another survival test. He’s probably here to suck up to Derek, as if begging for the bite wasn’t enough.


All three of them are apparently waiting for Stiles to answer Derek’s question.  “They won’t let us wait at the hospital,” Stiles says softly, “And we thought we should be together in case she, in case something happens.”

“You mean you thought,” Jackson grumbles, unintentionally covering the way Stiles trails off and takes a long drink from his water bottle. Water dribbles from his mouth and splashes against his sweatpants, and now Derek feels his control start to waver. He’s almost overcome with the desire to shove Scott and Allison out of the way and drag Stiles into his arms like Laura used to do on bad days. She’d bury her fingers in his hair, squeeze him too tight even when he’d complain and try to shake her off. His family had never been showy like that, so it was strange and he thought he hated it, tried to ignore the way it soothed away the pain. Now he’s sorry. He can’t remember the last time he touched another person outside of a fight.

Derek knows he’s lost and he can only blame Stiles. So he sits on the couch behind him, ignoring the dust that puffs up, trapping Stiles between his legs. “You’re right about the TV. No electricity.”

They’re all making disgusted faces, waving their hands in a wasted attempt to clear the air. “How do you live like this?” Jackson asks, and Derek isn’t sure if he’s talking about TV or electricity.

Either way, the answer to the question is “narrow-minded purpose bordering on compulsion”, but it’d go over Jackson’s head so Derek just shrugs and says, “Didn’t need it.” Stiles suddenly seems to notice Derek’s knees on either side of his head and he looks up at him, eyebrows raised. Then he shrugs and pats Derek’s leg.

They use their laptops, switching when a battery dies. Allison’s curled into Scott but she’s holding Jackson’s hand underneath a blanket. If Scott notices or cares, he doesn’t comment. At four they’re all asleep, breathing and heart beats matched. Stiles’ hand rests loosely over Derek’s bare foot, and Derek’s dragging his fingers through Stiles’ hair, not sure how he started but knowing he can’t stop. He could sleep. It’s entirely possible that he should. But he knows what he agreed to when he didn’t kick them out, hell, when he started trying to keep Scott from being a danger to himself and others. When he turned Jackson hours ago. On Allison’s laptop, a whiny teenager carries a judgmental puppet around a swamp.

Derek wakes up with his head tipped back on the couch, raised back to alertness by the sound of Scott trying to shift around Allison. He looks at Derek awkwardly like he’s holding something back and Derek rolls his eyes because seriously? The silent treatment? “What?” he whispers with as much anger as he can manage without waking Allison or Stiles. Jackson’s already awake, doing a poor job faking his breathing patterns.

“I just,” Scott starts, whispering loudly. 

“Wha-?” Stiles jerks up, leaving a damp patch of drool behind on Derek’s leg. “Wha’s happenin?”

Scott clams up again, but it doesn’t matter. He wants to say something about what Derek did, that much is obvious. He’s going to make a big fuss out of not saying anything about it, he’s going to frown at Derek and act like he’s still not part of the pack, like Derek owes him something. He’s seriously lucky Stiles has so much faith in him, because at this point that’s the only thing keeping Derek from letting him kill himself out of sheer stupidity.

He’ll figure out why it matters what Stiles thinks later. Right now he has to organize a bunch of teenagers into clean clothes and jackets so they can all go get breakfast, because being seen in public with Derek is a great idea.

“You’re totally our den mother,” Stiles says, nudging Derek with a rolled up sleeping bag of all things.

“I’m giving you up for adoption,” Derek says without a pause and only later realizes what he meant to say was, “Shut up.” 

Breakfast is at the diner on the edge of town he remembers from when he was small. One of the waitresses remembers him, too, because she’s always trying to give him free pie and when he was a felon she would slip him sandwiches and sweet tea through the back door. She smiles widely when he follows Stiles inside, happier to see him than usual. “How sweet, you brought your friends,” she says, shining despite the fact that she’s reaching the end of a double overnight shift. Derek almost regrets bringing them for just a second.

Then Stiles opens his mouth and says, “Yeah I know, I can’t believe he has friends either,” and Samantha laughs and ushers them into a booth. And that’s that.

Allison, Jackson, and Scott stay mostly silent but Stiles makes up for it with his usual chatter, charming Samantha, using her to force Derek into actually eating instead of just staring at a cup of black coffee. She gives Stiles extra bacon for his efforts, which is a lot of bacon when added to the extra she gives everyone else. Somehow in the process Derek’s hand ends up on Stiles’ thigh and then Stiles ankle hooks around his and for just one overwhelming moment Derek doesn’t know how any of this happened. There’s something wrong with the fact that he has no clue what he’s doing and he’s the Alpha now and he’s responsible for everyone at this table.

Then Samantha’s back, refilling their coffee and asking Jackson how come he’s the only one here without someone special? And everyone laughs at Derek and Stiles, and they laugh, too, and unwind their legs and move their hands. It’s like some kind of spell’s been broken at their expense, they forget that last night happened and argue over who’s going to pay before Derek rolls his eyes and gives Samantha his credit card. Scott says he owes him one, and then when he sees the look on Derek’s face, says he owes him maybe more than one. Jackson’s got that look on his face that says he could buy the little diner if he wanted to. Allison just looks relaxed, like she’s managed to forget that she’s currently the rope in a tug of war between two different worlds.

Stiles slips his hand into Derek’s and squeezes it once, grinning at him. “Thanks,” he says, and squeezes again before he lets go.

Derek misses sleeping on clean sheets. If he could have anything, absolutely anything in the entire world right now that wasn’t his family alive and well, he’d have a clean bed and he’d sleep for a week whether his instincts liked it or not. He thinks that seeing everyone acting like themselves again comes a little bit close to what that would feel like. Last week he would have felt stupid for caring, but now it’s his job.

Scott’s mom calls him when they’re in the parking lot, yawning and zipping their hoodies and trying to figure out what to do next. They drive to the hospital, alert with caffeine and diner food and worry, because even though Lydia’s awake and “miraculously” healed, that doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods just yet.

They make one stop along the way at Stiles’ insistence, picking up balloons and this obnoxious pink teddy bear. It makes Derek jealous and this is going to be a problem, because she’s his pack, too, and he can’t let himself act like a jealous teenager, think of her as competition instead of someone he needs to teach and protect. The smartest thing would be to just forget it now, pretend that these feelings are leftover from the stress of the past few months and let Stiles act out his crush.

He holds Stiles back while everyone else walks through the hospital doors. “I can’t go in there,” he says, leaving his hand on Stiles’ arm. “I shouldn’t even be here at all. If Allison’s parents see me…”

“You really think they’d do something at a hospital,” Stiles asks in a tone that says he really believes they would.

“I’m glad she’s okay,” Derek says, and means it, “But don’t get any ideas.”

Stiles pulls his arm back and tenses slightly, suspicious. “Any ideas?”

“That she can’t handle it, or need you like some kind of hero.” If anyone’s capable of handling the bite and not either turning into another Scott, or becoming another Peter, it’s Lydia. And then, as if it’s an afterthought, he adds, “Or that you’re hers.”

“Woah there, Mr. Darcy, I’m not anybody’s.” They stare at each other for a few moments. Stiles huffs in exaggerated annoyance and rolls his eyes. “Did you not see the part where I am no longer holding a giant pink teddy bear because Allison is?”

Derek finds himself incapable of doing much else but continue staring, because it’s sinking in again, that Stiles just does that. Takes care of people. “Oh.”

“Yeah, oh.” And then Stiles laughs at him, just a little. “Alright, run along home, I’ll text you.”

When anyone asks about their first kiss, this will be the one Derek remembers, Stiles darting out to press his soft, chapped lips against Derek’s. 

“Yeah, see you around, Bennet.” Because he can’t let Stiles have the last word.

Stiles turns back around and rewards him with a blinding smile. “Now you’re getting it!”

Derek waves him off and walks back out to his car.



When Derek checks his phone, he has a voicemail from the Sheriff’s department and for a minute he thinks they’re going to try to pin the identity of Lydia’s attacker on him.

Instead, he listens to the Sheriff ask him to come to the station so they can talk, and not to worry because it doesn’t have anything to do with trying to arrest him again. He kind of wants to delete the message and forget about it, but he thinks about the way Stiles’ lips felt against his own, and he thinks about how difficult it’s going to make the hunter’s lives if he’s suddenly getting friendly with the Sheriff.

The silence in Sheriff Stilinski’s office stretches on for a long time. He leans towards the desk with his hands folded on top of it, like he’s about to break into an earnest lecture about drunk driving or  something and Derek honestly has no idea where this is going.

“I want you to know that officially, you’re not a part of any current investigations. But Derek, I’m not an idiot, despite what some people in this town might think. I know there’s something else going on, and it’s got nothing to do with mountain lions, and for better or worse, no definitely for worse, my son and his best friend have somehow gotten mixed up in it. And you’re part of it, too.” Oh, so that’s where this is going. Derek relaxes into his chair, uncomfortable as it may be, and judging by the look on the Sheriff’s face he’s succeeded in appearing completely disinterested in the conversation.

He starts to say he’s not sure why he’s here but he’s cut off by a raised hand. “I’m getting there. I know you’ve got more patience than a teenager, Derek, despite how many you hang out with.  Just hear me out. I know that no matter what I say, Stiles is going to do whatever he wants, especially if Scott’s involved. So I thought it might not be a bad idea if you and I got to know each other a little better.” He looks at Derek expectantly.

For the second time in way too short a time Derek’s not exactly sure what to say next. He thinks the last thing he should do is ACTUALLY become friends with the sheriff, whether it’d throw a curveball to the hunters or not. “What exactly did you have in mind?”

“Why don’t you come over tonight for a beer and we can talk then?”

Derek spends the afternoon pacing Stiles’ bedroom without bothering to consider why the scent in there of all things is keeping him more or less calm. Stiles is still with Scott and Allison in the hospital, although apparently Jackson took off and nobody’s sure where he went. According to Stiles’ texts, Lydia’s fine and begging to get out of the hospital because “hospital gowns don’t match anything.” Derek’s trusting the three of them to figure out a way to explain everything to her until he has a chance to talk to her. Which is a conversation he’s looking forward to only slightly less than the one he’s going to have with Stiles’ dad any minute now.

Ideally, you pick your pack. The Hales have been werewolves longer than the Argents have been hunters, and they chose human companions carefully, whether they intended to give them the bite or not. Derek never had any intention of trying to rebuild what he’d helped destroy before Laura called him here and he adopted Scott by force. He thought maybe he’d have some choice in who followed, but apparently the most irritating teenagers in Beacon Hills come in a package deal.

He creeps out through the window, reluctantly leaving the bedroom behind. The Sheriff said he’d be home around three, calling it a day early thanks to last night’s chaos. It’s just given Derek even less time to try and make a plan for dealing with, well, everything. A plan that makes it look like this is all coming to him naturally. If four hours pacing Stiles room didn’t do it, a ten minute walk around his neighborhood will likely be as unsuccessful. At least Stiles will be at the hospital until he’s dragged out, letting this little meeting stay a secret for the time being.

Little meeting. He might as well call it what it is: trying to get on the good side of his teenaged sort of- not exactly – probably soon to be boyfriend’s dad.

Derek’s 23 years old, an Alpha werewolf, and as he raises his hand to ring the doorbell, he’s afraid he’s going to ask permission to date a 16-year-old. The sheriff answers the door, the lines under his eyes darker and deeper. Not for the first time, Derek wonders if the man ever sleeps more than a couple of hours at a time. “Come in,” he says, waving Derek in.

The Sheriff- Jeff, as he insists Derek call him in his home – has the season’s football games, recorded on VHS tape no less, that he hasn’t had a chance to watch. Derek’s never been a fan of, well, any organized sport, really, but he finds it oddly relaxing to sip his beer and watch Stiles’ dad get worked up over the game. He resembles Stiles then, more than any time Derek’s ever seen, and the enthusiasm is infectious. They don’t talk about anything else, not mountain lions or Lydia or the past, and Derek doesn’t even realize he’s forgotten to be the Alpha until he almost knocks over his beer gesturing towards the television.

Weird that this is how he would lose control for the first time in years, watching pre-recorded football with the taste of cheap beer in his mouth, surrounded by the smell of Stiles that’s become the smell of home. Maybe not weird, then.

Derek hears Stiles’ Jeep pull into the driveway, and when he looks at the time he can’t believe it’s six already. Jeff obviously didn’t realize the time either, muttering, “Shit,” when the front door opens and Stiles comes in and immediately starts babbling about his day.

And then shrieks in surprise, stumbling backwards and landing on his ass when he sees Derek and his dad watching football in his living room. “What are you- what- am I dead? Hallucinating? Are you pod people?”

“Shut up, Stiles,” his dad says as he helps him up. “Have you eaten?”

“Uh,” Stiles says hesitantly, “Are we just going to pretend there isn’t a giant, orange elephant in the room? Oh-kay, then no, I have not eaten.”

The Sheriff pats his shoulder. “Alright, do you wanna order pizza?”

“Ugh, Dad,” Stiles complains, “I went grocery shopping over the weekend, it’s gonna go bad. I’ll cook.” The whole thing’s domestic in a way Derek hasn’t experienced in 10 years, as if no one died last night, as if a sixteen-year-old girl didn’t end up in a coma at the hands of Derek’s uncle. As if the choice of the bite wasn’t taken away from another teenager too young to make that decision for his or herself.

“Don’t give me that look, broody-pants,” Stiles says, grabbing Derek around the bicep and tugging. “I so can cook, and you’re helping.”

In the kitchen, Stiles starts pulling things out of the fridge, chocolate and condiments and vegetables and leftovers in tupperware, goes to the cabinet and grabs pasta and spices and all the while babbles about how weird his life is, how he feels like a supernatural secretary, and if he sees Scott and Allison kiss one more time, one more! he’s actually going to choke on his own tongue. In less than five minutes, most of the food in the house is laid out on the counters and the table.

“Are you expecting an army or something?” Derek can’t help but ask, cutting into Stiles’ rant and forcing him to actually pay attention to what he’s doing.

He clutches a box of macaroni and cheese and examines the cartoons on the back like they hold the secrets to life’s mysteries. When it doesn’t provide an answer, he looks helplessly up at Derek, his heart rate increasing. “Maybe we should just order take-out?” He’s squeezing dents into the cardboard, each breath shorter than the last.

Derek’s making it up as he goes along, but it feels natural to hold Stiles’ shoulder with one hand and with the other, hold his jaw so that their eyes have no choice to meet. “Stiles,” he says as calmly as he can manage. Stiles nods silently. “You’re okay. We can order a pizza and while we wait for it, you sit down and I’ll put all of this away.” Stiles nods again, and Derek’s still making it up as he goes along, that’s his only excuse for pressing their lips together briefly, and then again, and then not so briefly.

A bottle hits the floor and shatters, and how did Derek not hear Stiles’ dad walking in?  “Somebody please tell me I’m asleep on the couch right now and my only child isn’t kissing an ex-con in my kitchen.” 

“Uh, you’re surprised, why are you surprised?” Stiles asks while he pulls a dustpan and broom from beside the refrigerator. “I thought that was why he was here?”

“No, he was here because I was making an effort to get to know your new friend who used to be wanted for murder.” He collapses heavily into a chair. “Please tell me you’re using protection, at least.”

“What?” Stiles’ head snaps up, and his finger slips, “Fuck, ow, Jesus, oh god sorry Dad, just, god damn it,” Stiles brings his bleeding finger to his mouth and sucks on it. His dad groans and covers his face with his hand.

Derek ignores the unexpected instinct to take care of his wounded whatever-Stiles-is, because it’s just a cut, and instead takes the broom pan from him and instructs him to wash his finger under the sink and not even think about putting it anywhere near his mouth again. In a couple of minutes the broken glass is cleaned up, Stiles’ dad has called for a pizza, and the three of them are sitting awkwardly at the table. Stiles has a couple of napkins wrapped around his finger, which is better than his mouth so Derek considers it a win.

“So, uh, me and Derek are not using protection-“

“Stiles!” Derek groans. Stiles’ dad looks like he isn’t sure who he wants to kill first.

“Wait, wait!” Stiles puts his hands up, “Obviously the wrong thing to say, what I mean is, Dad, me and Derek aren’t having sex, okay?”

“No, you’re just, what, emptying the cupboards and- wait, why did you empty the cupboards?” he looks around the room and takes in the damage for the first time. “I should know better than to ask, shouldn’t I?”

Stiles starts shredding napkins. “I’ll clean it up, I was just um, looking for baking powder.”

“Baking powder?” his dad repeats, clearly unconvinced. “Are you okay, son?”

Stiles shrugs, and Derek knows that he’s not okay, because he spent the day at the hospital after spending the night hardly sleeping, and that’s hard for anyone. And it must be harder for Stiles, Derek realizes as he watches Stiles and smells his fear and sadness that’s underneath the antiseptic hospital scent. Because Derek doesn’t know what happened to Stiles’ mom, but…

The doorbell interrupts the silence, but it resumes for a few minutes as they eat. It’s not uncomfortable. Stiles’ dad seems to be thinking, more confused than angry, and on the other side of the table Derek and Stiles have their ankles hooked together like they were at breakfast. Stiles’ hands are shaking, but only Derek could tell.

“Stiles, you’re 16,” his dad begins, wiping a napkin over his mouth and then crumpling it, “And I am not exaggerating when I say that I am completely against the idea of you dating someone who is not only six years older than you are, but was arrested just a couple of months ago-“

“Yeah Dad, we get it, Derek got arrested once-“ Stiles interrupts around a mouthful of pizza, 

“But I remember what I was like when I was your age, and more importantly I remember what your mother was like at your age, so I’m not going to waste my time. Just be careful, please, and discreet, and try to keep each other out of trouble.” And before Stiles has a chance to say anything, he adds, “And if I find condom wrappers I swear I will bring your Jeep to Goodwill so fast you won’t even remember it was yours.”

“So I guess that means no sleepovers?” Stiles jokes, and instead of rising to the bait, they leave him to clean up the mess he made in the kitchen. “It was kind of an honest question,” he mumbles mostly to himself. As if his dad could really stop Derek from sleeping over.

Derek really should go, but somehow he ends up watching TV with the Stilisnkis for another couple of hours, and somehow he ends up with a standing invitation to hang out with the Sheriff- with Jeff at least once a week which seems mandatory now. They shake on it, and then Derek and Stiles hug for the first time, and Derek does not think about how long it’s been since he’s hugged anyone. Derek leaves through the front door and comes back in through Stiles’ window. He sits on the edge of Stiles’ bed and listens to the conversation below him.

When Stiles walks into his room he looks at Derek and rolls his eyes, muttering, “Stalker,” and putting a finger to his lips. He shakes the mouse and wakes up his computer, hitting play on iTunes and lowering the volume enough so that it won’t disturb his dad but it could still muffle their conversation. His dad still raps his knuckles on the door as he walks by, reminding him to keep the volume low and to go to bed for god’s sake, he doesn’t care how long school’s cancelled because of the mountain lion.

Stiles’ iTunes on random provides a steady stream of folksy indie and bland pop, familiar but to Derek mostly unrecognizable. While it plays, Stiles describes in painstaking detail everything Lydia did and said for six hours, the way her hair shined in the hospital lights, how bright her eyes are now. The habit of harboring a crush on her for years apparent. Derek’s not jealous, he tells himself, because tomorrow when Stiles goes to see Lydia he will smell like Derek and it will remind Lydia that she has a pack waiting, and that Stiles is no longer a pawn in her high school games. Derek knows what it’s like to lose people, and he can’t begrudge Stiles the relief that comes with knowing Lydia’s okay.

“Earth to wolf boy?” Stiles says, tapping the side of Derek’s head. “Where’d you go?”

“Are you okay with this?” Derek finds himself asking, feeling foolish because he knows, he knows that he would not have his arms wrapped around this boy unless he was okay with it. So he covers for his insecurity too quickly, it comes out gruff and almost cruel when he says, “Because I don’t have time for second thoughts.”

“Uh-huh,” Stiles says with a yawn, and pinches Derek’s shoulder. “Scott’s been my best friend for years, and I dealt with him on the full moon. I’m okay with this.” I’m stronger than my scrawny body looks, is what he should be saying.

“What about Lydia?” Derek asks, and stops himself from saying anything else, just barely.

“God, what is it with you right now? I gave up on Lydia when she picked Jackson over me at the dance. We had a moment, man. A real moment. And she just threw it away.”

“So I’m your emotional rebound.”

“Oh my god. Derek, I know you’ve been living under a rock for the past ever, but sometimes people can have feelings for more than one person at once, and sometimes those people are totally cool with their bisexuality, and sometimes they pick the person that they know will be there for them, no bullshit. Sometimes it’s that simple.”

And Derek has to kiss him then, even though what he really wants to do is cover his face and confess that he has no idea what he’s doing, that there was no Alpha training school and he was never supposed to be Alpha, never. He never wanted it, he just wanted to be Derek and left alone, and now he has to convince himself that it’s what he’s wanted all along. And after a day of pacing and not sleeping and hanging out with the Sheriff he’s got nothing left to keep him from spilling just how terrified he really is except kissing Stiles. So he tries to put it all into the kiss, rolling Stiles on top of him and pressing kisses into his neck, and his collarbone, and then just holding him there, cupping his face and making him look into his eyes. Stiles looks back, unafraid. “You have to mean it,” Derek says, and he hates himself for it, “You have to mean it. You can’t change your mind. I need, I need you to mean it. If you don’t I’ll go now and we’ll forget this but Stiles, you can’t change your mind.” It’s too much to ask from a sixteen-year-old and he asks anyway, because he knows Stiles wouldn’t be looking at him if he didn’t mean it. It was never a gamble.

Stiles smiles, because he knows that Derek just needs to be reassured, and because this is Derek’s way of saying he means it, too. “I know, I wouldn’t, just trust me.” He kisses Derek, firm and lingering, and then settles into the crook of his neck. “Wake me up on my 21st birthday. No, wait, because then you’ll be what, 40? Never mind.”

 “28, brat.” He pushes him off, rolling him over despite his half-hearted protests and tugging him close. “If you make a single joke about dogs, I will spank you in front of the rest of the pack,” he warns, and then he presses his nose into Stiles’ neck and inhales.

“I have no idea which part of what just happened was hotter, and I am just sleep-deprived enough to admit that.”

“But not sleep-deprived enough not to notice.”

“Teenage hormones, dude. Senior citizens like you wouldn’t understand.”

“Stiles, I’m the Alpha,” he says as if it explains it all, “And we’re not having this conversation. Go to sleep.”

“Oh my god you’re afraid of my dad!”

It takes more self-control than Derek thought he had not to put his hand over Stiles’ mouth until he passes out.


Derek leaves in the morning, because he and Stiles both want to take a shower and the temptation to get in there together is too much for Derek to resist if he hangs around. And Stiles isn't exactly on the side of avoiding it. He doesn’t get it yet, that Derek really meant what he said last night, what he made him promise, he doesn’t get that Derek needs to see it first before he believes it. He knows Stiles wasn’t lying, but he also knows that Stiles is a kid, that he’s got the attention span of a small animal and if he wants to believe it or not, you don’t get over a life-long crush in a day and a half.

Derek hated Kate Argent with every part of himself that wasn’t devoted to avenging his family and loving what was left of it, and still sometimes he’d wake up from a dream about the way she’d first smiled at him and pretended she’d cared. It wouldn’t be right to compare Lydia to Kate though, and that’s part of the problem.

He’s almost home when his skin prickles and he finds himself ducking behind a tree a good 30 feet away, inhaling the smell of Chris Argent of all people. “I know you know I’m here,” Argent calls out, “I just want to talk.”  It’d be easier of Derek could see his face but he trusts his newly enhanced senses, and they’re telling him that this isn’t a trap. Still, he comes out with his claws out and eyes red, warning Argent not to get any ideas.

“What do you want?” he growls.

“Just to talk. We both lost people we cared about the other night, here. It’s as good a place as any to try to make peace.” His hands are up, but there’s a crossbow and a gun resting on the porch in plain sight. Protection, and maybe a warning of his own.

“Make peace?” Derek scoffs, “After everything your family has done to mine you think I’m going to make peace?”

Argent clenches his fists, pain written all over his face as he takes a step closer. “You think I don’t get it, Derek? The unnecessary bloodshed that my sister caused? That my own father, the man who raised me into this life, who I thought I believed in, sides with what she did? I knew your uncle, Derek, and he wasn’t a bad man. Your family, you’ve never been the kind of wolves we want to hunt. And now, we’re getting children involved. My little girl could have gotten killed. Another innocent girl had the choice of the bite taken away from her, and if I’m to believe my daughter, so did Scott. It’s gotten out of hand.”

“I can handle it,” Derek says, because he doesn’t need Argent’s pity, or his apologies. He especially doesn’t need an offer of help, whether it’s coming or not.

Argent sighs and shakes his head. “Derek, just because you’re the alpha doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing.”

“I don’t have to,” Derek says, in his face in an instant, gripping his shirt and feeling the fabric give under his claws.

“I’m trying to make peace,” Argent says through clenched teeth. “And you’re not proving me wrong.”

Derek lets go and pushes him away. “I’m not going to become your trained dog.”

“That’s not my intention, trust me. I’m just offering a truce. We’ll leave each other alone, and that’ll be the end of it.”


They don’t leave each other alone. It was never going to be possible, not when Allison and Scott think they’re Romeo and Juliet (tragedy included), when Gerard Argent makes his way to Beacon Hills with one of the ugliest wolf packs not too far behind him. There’s casualties, and yet again Derek adopts no fewer than three of Beacon Hills High School’s finest problem children.

They have more sleepovers at the Hale House, until someone (Stiles) complains one too many times that the place is falling apart, and Derek tells him that if he doesn’t like it, he should fix it. By the weekend, the pack (plus Jeff Stilinski, plus Chris Argent) are repairing the house. Saturday night, they cram into the Argent dining room. Victoria Argent still looks at Stiles like he’s a talking amoeba, but he cracks an awkward joke at the expense of her meatloaf and to everyone’s surprise she starts to laugh. She’s still terrifying, something that Derek only admits to Stiles, and somehow even more so when she fusses over someone’s collar or withholds dessert from her husband until he finishes his vegetables. Later, they’re in the living room while the adults chat over wine and the remains of dessert. Stiles starts imitating Victoria, sitting perfectly still and raising an eyebrow at Scott and saying, in the gravest tone he can manage, “Broccoli, dear,” before he doubles over laughing and gasping about what Scott has to look forward to. A couple of minutes later, Chris walks in with a sour look on his face and a plate of half-eaten pie with a fork sticking out of it and Stiles ducks behind the couch, laughing so hard and so quietly that his face is covered in tears.

It’s not like anything Derek ever thought he wanted or needed, and it’s home.


As soon as the Sheriff realized that Derek was actually living in the Hale House, he all but insisted Derek sleep on his couch until he deemed the place livable again. Stiles almost lets it slip that Derek’s been more or less staying in the house already, and Derek will never ever admit what a relief it is to have a reason to slip out of Stiles’ bed after he falls asleep.

That’s the scariest part of all the things Derek never expected, that Stiles is still chipping away at his defenses every day, making him do and feel things and whispering a secret for a secret when Derek least expects it.

Stiles keeps a bottle of his mom’s perfume, and Derek confesses that he could never outrun Laura. Stiles doesn’t know what he’d do if something happened to his dad, and Derek doesn’t tell him that it doesn’t matter because you have to survive no matter what it takes, but he does tell him that he used to have almost a hundred books. After that, he starts to find paperbacks shoved in his jacket pockets and under the seats of his car and he has no idea how Stiles does it, but he holds the books up to his nose and smells their history and he knows he’s totally lost. That when he told Stiles he had to mean it, he was talking to himself just as much and that Stiles is more than ready to have sex but Derek’s still not ready.

And then he’s sitting on Stiles’ couch, and Stiles is curled up into his side, still smelling like sun, ash, and wood because Derek wouldn’t let him shower. They’re watching some movie about time travel and classic cars and honestly Derek tried, he really did, but Stiles is mouthing along the words and Derek’s sure that if he ever really cared about the plot Stiles would gladly reenact it scene for scene. That’s when it really hits him. That he’d do this every night for the rest of his life if it made Stiles happy, and the thought is both mildly nauseating and absolutely right.  

Derek turn his head so that he can whisper into Stiles’ ear, “How into this movie are you right now?”

Stiles doesn’t look away from the screen, “Are you kidding? This is the part where the lightning hits the tower, it’s like, so important!”

Derek rolls his eyes. “How important?” he asks, running his fingers down Stiles’ arm and stroking his palm.

Stiles’ eyes widen as he looks down at their hands, and then up into Derek’s eyes. “Um, maybe not that important?”

“I thought so.” He turns off the TV, because they might be on the couch right now but he’s classier than that, and he kisses Stiles, coaxing him into his lap.

“I thought first times were supposed to be special or something,” Stiles laughs nervously, his hands twitching nervously on Derek’s shoulders. They’ve done this part a lot, making out until Stiles is dangerously close to coming in his pants, and then Derek finds an excuse to back out at the last moment. Stiles has been beyond frustrated, practically begging, but he goes with the flow and never complains. Until he’s actually about to get some, of course.

“Really, Stiles? We could go upstairs,” Derek suggests, popping the button of Stiles’ shorts and pulling them down over his thighs. “If that’s what you really want.”

“No, nope,” Stiles squeaks, “I am a-ok down here, I mean, I’m really great down there, but oh my god Derek,” he groans when Derek licks his palm and wraps it around Stiles’ dick. “I am so okay with this situation right now but could we please get rid of our pants before this continues?”

“Stiles,” Derek says warningly, “Please shut up.” Stiles kisses him, which is just as good, and they wrestle out of their clothes even though Stiles can’t manage to unzip Derek, so Derek just takes over.

Derek lies down and pulls Stiles on top of him, and Stiles whimpers when their erections brush together. Derek can’t help laughing at him a little, because he looks completely overwhelmed already. “Are you okay?” he asks, and Stiles nods enthusiastically, still obeying the command of silence. Derek files that away to use later, and for now just wishes he’d thought ahead to bring some kind of lube when he wraps his spit-wet hand around their cocks. “Now move,” he commands, and Stiles does. Derek begins to learn the shape of his muscles as he moves, the way his lips twitch, how his ribs expand as his breathing picks up. His heart rate increases, the unique pattern Derek listens for before any others, and he’s sweating, smelling like earth and sex and it’s beautiful. Derek’s going to do this a thousand times, and then some more, and if it’s like this every time…

“I’m gonna,” Stiles chokes out, his head tipping back.

“No, no, look at me,” Derek tells him, “Look at me.”

Stiles misunderstands, looking at him and pleading, “I can’t, Derek, I can’t-“  and he’s coming across their chests while Derek encourages him. After that, when Stiles is a thousand times himself and open and raw, Derek can’t last, either.