He falls asleep. Of course he falls asleep. His life's like that: danger, werewolves, a vaguely disappointed father who's his only remaining relative (and the most important person in his entire universe), and a complete lack of situational awareness that leads him to fall asleep in a werewolves' den.
When he comes to his senses, it's way slower than he wants, thinking 'wakeupwakeupwakeup, Stiles, come on. React and freaking move' as his muscles start responding to his brain again. That these werewolves are currently allies doesn't mean that he can be this careless.
He's not alone on the ragged mattress. When has his life given him a break or an easy out? Never, that's when.
"Had a nice nap, Sleeping Beauty?" The snark in Erica's voice is almost enough to distract him into a few better thought come-backs, until he comes to notice the way she's wrapped around him: thighs embracing one of his legs, firmly; arms like vices around his neck. Face almost tucked between his neck and shoulder.
"Is this another of your, uh, plots to achieve something through seduction?"
Erica snorts, a mean, defeaning sound.
"Oh, Stiles, I'm so over you, honey."
'Tell that to the hand that's caressing my nape, dude.'
It's when he's getting naked to take a very much essential shower -there's sweat all over him, and mud in places so bizarre that he'd almost taken pictures to have this documented as one of the many hysterical highlights of his supernatural existence- that he notices the scribbles all over his stomach.
He can easily recognize Erica's handwriting, the fat curl of her letters, the enormous dots on top of the single i.
'Erica Reyes was here.'
Permanent marker is a bitch to clean off his skin. Even after scrubbing his skin for what feels like freaking forever (cursing Erica's insane humor sense all the while), to the point where he is red everywhere and hurting a little, it still stays there. Mostly faded, but there nonetheless.
Isaac sits next to him on chemistry the next day. He's been doing that more often than not, after that time with the oversharing about his crush on Lydia. Now that they're more often than not on the same side (what with Scott agreeing to be in Derek's pack and all that), Stiles is mostly okay with that.
When he is not doing weird shit.
Like right now. Stiles is really not okay with Isaac right now.
"Isaac, what are you doing? That's my arm. As in it is attached to my body and I need to write. And do other stuff." He whispers, trying to not attract Mr. Harris' attention any more than normal. He yanks, not as much trying to dislodge his arm from the hold of Isaac's hands (that are keeping it trapped under the table and out of his line of vision) but to get the point across.
Isaac smirks at him and takes one of Stiles' own pens, with his left hand. He uncaps it in a show of incredible control over all his fingers' phalanges, and makes it dissapear under the table. He wiggles his eyebrows.
"What? You too? What is up with you sick pu--" And then he has to chuckle at the feeling of Isaac pushing the sleeve of his shirt up, and then the tip of the pen dragging around his sensitive skin.
"You're definitely going to--" he has to bite back a gasping laugh, "go back to being Erica's partner after this. Just so you know."
Isaac, jerk that he is, doesn't even answer. He just keeps on scribbling with such focus that it makes Stiles snort at him.
'Isaac Lahey'. At least ten times. All over his forearm. In a sorry excuse of penmanship that would make even first graders frown in disgust.
Scott frowns at him in confusion when he catches sight of the inked skin. He shrugs, all 'what can you do with psycho betas, right?', hoping that Scott doesn't get an eyeful of his stomach. That one would be uncomfortable. Maybe.
From Derek's new betas, the one Stiles likes the most is Boyd. He's got a good head on his shoulders, questionable furry life decisions aside. He's the smart one, the one Stiles worries about the less. He is good for Erica and Isaac, because he makes up for their impulsive behaviour with his own cautious one.
He is still part of Derek's pack, however. That warrants certain things. Mostly that he is bound to be a little mentally strange from time to time.
So when, the day after Isaac's thing, he's waiting for him after detention, he's not that surprised. Derek's pack is a little unhinged.
"Hey, Stilinski. Can I write on you, too?"
Even if Boyd chooses the polite and sensible approach about this peculiar brand of madness that they feel like indulging.
There a few things he would want to answer, like 'is this a thing? Why is this a thing?' or 'no way, my skin is sensitive and not taking well to ink and shit. My dermatologist will not approve of this.'.
But he looks at Boyd, and the guy's trying to make himself look small and harmless, with his hands on the pockets of his new leather jacket and hunched shoulders, and he's got this little lopsided unassuming smile that reminds Stiles of Scott. And he is won over, like the big softie he is.
So he goes with, "Sure, big guy. Join the fun. But make sure to use something hypoallergenic. My skin is a high maintenance bitch."
Boyd laughs at that, a deep uproarious explosion of sound.
He still steals one of Erica's new eyeliners from her locker.
'Boyd'. Only one time, but all over his back (and boy, had being shirtless in front of I'm-so-solid-I'm-practically-a-wall Boyd made Stiles feel a little inadequate) in enormous block letters.
"Wow. You're not a even a written words guy, are you. You didn't even write your full name. Wait, what *is* your full name?"
Boyd raises an eyebrow at him, putting the eyeliner back in its rightful place.
"What's *your* full name, Stilinski?"
He smiles at Boyd, slightly impressed.
Definitely his favorite one.
He only gets around to asking to Derek about this writing-on-Stiles'-skin pattern that's going on (because one is incident, and two is coincidence, but three is a pattern) a week or so after. They are waiting in the warehouse for all the betas to finish sparring against one another (Erica, in particular, is getting really good at kicking the guy's asses. With the exception of Scott, who's got creature of the night/living with the occult seniority advantage. Still, even he has a hard time fighting her off).
"Is writing on people's skin a werewolf ritual of some sort? Because none of the lore I've found says anything about it."
Derek looks at him with a blank expression.
"Why are you asking?"
"Your betas. They have developed the recent habit of using me as a canvas."
That gets him a reaction from Derek's eyebrows. Which is as much response from Derek's face as one normally gets. Unless there are fangs and red eyes on said face. But then that's a whole other ball game, and maybe not the best time to be pondering his facial expressions.
"Was that a question? If so, yes. They totally have. Erica even used a permanent marker on me. It didn't fade away until, like, three days ago."
The fact that he asks doesn't mean that he gets an answer, anyway. Derek only directs some complicated eyebrow code in his general direction with calculating eyes, mouth in a thin line.
The following morning he wakes up shirtless.
He hadn't gone to sleep shirtless.
Also, on his chest, precisely over the place where he can feel the steady beating of his heart, there's a carefully drawn triskelion in finger paint.
"You know that sneaking into a teenager's room in the dead of night to take their shirt off and have an arts&crafts time on their chest when they are asleep is prime creeper behaviour, right? Or psycho behaviour. Yeah, definitely psycho. Scary shit and all." He says to Derek that afternoon, away from the betas.
Derek looks at him with a lifted eyebrow and a smug little smirk.
"It didn't creep you off. And I didn't scare you. If I had scared you, you would've at least washed it off."
And that's true. In all honesty, Stiles doesn't feel as freaked out as he should, taking into account the things he's seen Derek do, and the ones he knows he's capable of. Maybe it's because lately he's discovered a capacity within himself to think and say and do things he would've condemned before (because he understands that while Derek's choices are not always the best ones, he's always trying to protect the largest range of people). Maybe it is because other than the physical intimidation tactics from the beginning and that one memorable bounce off of his own steering wheel, Derek has only ever tried to protect him. Against Peter, and Isaac, and then Jackson. And isn't that risking your own skin too much, putting your life in the line too much, pouring too much effort into things if you have the ultimate intent to harm anyway?
Maybe Stiles has somehow learned to think that Derek is a good guy, under that huge-ass pile of issues he has.
But that's not something that Stiles is ready to admit just yet.
"And what makes you so sure I didn't do it?"
"Really?" If he wasn't so Derek (all composed estoicism and ocasionally somber), he maybe would've rolled his eyes. It certainly sounded like he wanted to. "I can smell the paint on you, under your shirt."
"Okay, yes, heightened senses. Right, my bad." He does roll his eyes, flaunting the ability to do so to Derek. "I still don't know what this means, though. If it even means anything at all."
"Yeah, I know."
"Are you planning to, I don't know, share your insight on the subject?"
Derek contorts his face until it's set in an expression so foreign in his face it takes him a minute or two to recognize what it is.
A smile. Derek Hale style.
"You're smiling." He narrows his eyes. "You are smiling because you are enjoying this. You like the fact that I'm in the dark here. Because this is totally something big that you have knowledge about and I don't"
He takes a deep breath.
"Screw the kanima's master. You," He points his index finger at Derek. "Are much more evil."
The day after that all the betas and Stiles share a free period.
Erica, Isaac and Boyd use it to doodle all over his neck and shoulders with face crayons, not only stretching (and staining) the hell out of one of his favorite DCU shirts, but also attracting the stares of pretty much everyone in their vicinity. Stiles is reminded of that one time on third grade when he'd called their new teacher 'mom' by accident.
Scott's eyes keep going from Allison (sitting a few tables away from them but still sneaking a peek every now and then at Stiles' little situation) to him, in an endless loop. Finally, he seems to make up his mind and lets his eyes stay on him.
"Stiles?" He asks, hesitantly trying to convey 'have you noticed the three werewolves currently using you as a doodle pad?' in that single word.
"Believe me when I tell you that I have no idea."
Erica smiles at him, all predatory enchantress (Catwoman. Totally Catwoman). Isaac snorts, never taking his eyes away from that place under Stiles' jaw that he is coloring. Boyd shrugs, body language screaming 'I was dragged into this', it'd convince Stiles if he wasn't putting so much effort into the color schemes.
After the second time the triskelion shows up on him, he starts sleeping shirtless. After the third time he wakes up with the triskelion drawn on him, he starts thinking that maybe he knows what this is.
"It means you think of me as pack, right?" He asks, pretty damn sure that he's right here. "It's your way of marking me as one of you. That's why they wrote their names first, and why you always draw the triskele. Because underneath the hierarchy stuff, it simply states the importance of pack. Scott probably doesn't feel the need because his scent's been all over me for ages now, right?" He takes a moment to feel a surge of pride for himself. "Man, I'm so fucking smart, even I can't believe I'm this awesome. You have to bow down to my unparalleled deductive abilities."
Derek doesn't bow down to his unparalleled deductive abilities. He doesn't even look mildly impressed.
"And what else?" He asks.
"Wait. There's more than that?"
"So much for your 'unparalleled deductive abilities'."
If it weren't for the fact that Derek looks amused and sort of really happy instead of pleased with himself, he'd flip him off and leave him to his own devices with his four semi canine charges.
The fact that Derek is having mostly harmless fun with this (having fun for what might be the first time in who knows however long), drains any petty anger off of him.
The fourth time the triskelion appears on him, there's one more drawing on his body.
There's a heart on the palm of his left hand (and how did Derek do that? He knows he's ticklish as hell). As he looks at it his own heart, heavy under the pack's symbol painted on his skin, skips a beat.
"The--" His voice is so raspy, it hurts to swallow his own spit. But he's got to get this out before he runs out of courage. "The betas were reacting to their Alpha's feelings, feeding their own instincts to mark me with yours. That's also part of why Scott hasn't been following me around with a Sharpie. Your pull over him is weaker because you didn't sire him, he isn't as attuned to your feelings as Erica, Isaac and Boyd."
Derek turns his gaze from where Boyd is handing Scott his ass (go Boyd), to focus on him. His lips twitch a bit, but he doesn't smile. Keeps playing the part of bound and determined Alpha in case the others decide to chance a glance in their direction.
"Took you long enough."
That makes relief flood through him. Good, he hadn't misread the signs. Good.
He wants to say something to Derek to disclose to him his own feelings on the matter, something along the lines of 'I think you've reached the same conclusions about me that I've reached about you.' or an even more daring 'I may feel the same way as you.'. However, that's not how his brain works.
"You could have said something, you know. Instead of letting your children do the heavy lifting for you."
At that, Derek does smile.
He coughs loudly to conceal the acrobatic maneuvers of his heart.