Stiles, Laura, and even Derek’s mother, have been acting weird. Any time he walks into the room they all stop to look at him, like they’re waiting for something or were somehow talking about him without him hearing from across the house. Laura and Stiles spend a lot of time together (which makes Derek twitchy) and have developed some sort of wordless language because sometimes they just look at each other and giggle.
Derek’s confused. He also doesn’t like how Stiles has been looking at him lately. All impatient like, like he’s waiting for Derek to get something. Sometimes he sighs, and sometimes he just smiles like he has a secret. It’s really freaking Derek out.
He’s scowling down at a book, reclining on his bed and not paying attention to the words in front of him, when someone taps on his door. They don’t wait for an invitation, so he knows it’s Laura before the rest of his senses pick up on it. She comes closer, crawling onto his bed and lying at the foot, resting her head on his thigh. He twitches.
It’s quiet, too quiet when he knows she didn’t just come in here to cuddle. He waits for her to get to the point, but she doesn’t seem to be in a hurry, so he flips a page (despite the fact he doesn’t even know what he’s reading anymore). Eventually Laura must get tired of him ignoring her, because she nudges his book and sighs. “Come on, I know you haven’t paid attention to the last ten pages. At least.”
Derek huffs and drops the book on his stomach, looking at his sister blandly.” What do you want Laura?”
She pokes his arm, a silent scolding for his rudeness. “He’s not stupid you know. He knows what’s going on.”
Derek raises an eyebrow. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Laura rolls her eyes, sitting up; she tilts her head and pins him with a serious stare. “I know. And that scares me.” She huffs and mutters, “A child who wasn’t even born into this life knows more about werewolves, sheesh.”
She sighs, but takes a deep breath and looks him right in the eyes. “Tell me, don’t you ever wonder why you treat Stiles the way you do?” Derek just stares blankly at her; she narrows her eyes and stares back. Finally she groans and throws her head back exaggeratedly. “You’re hopeless! Think about it! Think about everything. The way you act, things you do for him, the way you feel when he does certain things.” She throws him a significant look. “Maybe think about some things we were taught as a kid, when it comes to others. Specifically one particular other, ok? Just, ponder.”
Derek stares at her, sure to have a look on his face like she’s grown a second head, but he nods anyway. Mostly because she’s freaking him out a bit and also to get her out of his room. She smiles. “Good.” She makes to get up, but pauses; instead she leans closer and speaks low. “No pressure or anything, but this is kind of a big deal. So use your brain, bro.” She pats his knee once and gets up, walking out without another word.
He stares after her and listens to her footsteps fade. He knows he promised to think about it, but he’s not in the mood. He’s been ‘brooding’ all day, Stiles will die (and make fun of him) if he keeps it up; so he goes back a few pages in his book and starts again, taking in the story this time.
Derek’s been thinking.
And now he’s sort of thrown for a loop.
He really shouldn’t be, and if he were paying attention the way everyone else apparently has, maybe he would’ve figured this all out years ago.
But the more he thinks about it, and he’s been doing that for days, the more he realizes Laura may have a point. A big point. A huge thing that he’s been missing.
Stiles is his mate.
It makes so much sense it’s like a slap in the face. Practically his entire life revolves around this kid and he’s never noticed until now. He only acts in certain ways because it’s Stiles involved and not someone else. Stiles is on his mind almost constantly, maybe not actively, but Derek always goes into things thinking of how it will effect Stiles. He’d rather be in this random kid’s presence than his own families’. It never made sense until now.
Over the years there’ve been plenty of people to come through the Hale house who see the slavery mark on Stiles’s skin and automatically think him lesser than them. They always scoff, turn their noses up and make snide comments that have Derek snapping and his blood boiling. Stiles always seems to sit a little closer to him during these visits and brush a few more touches over Derek’s skin. Stiles is better than all of those people, and Derek knows it, and it pisses him off that they would just brush such an extraordinary person off like dust on their shoulder.
Some people try to touch Stiles; it’s a not a smart move. Derek hates when others touch Stiles, because when they do he no longer smells like Derek, he smells like whoever laid their hands on him last. He glares at anyone who makes a move towards the kid, and if they don’t pay attention or ignore it Stiles is always right there; putting himself in front of Derek so he can smooth out and cover the stranger’s scent with his own.
There have been a few times when someone who visits thinks they can take advantage of Stiles’s vulnerability and thinks no one is watching; so they demand things, they’re nasty, and there was a few times someone actually tried to raise a hand to the kid. Always, always, a mistake. Derek doesn’t trust people, especially not around Stiles, so he’s always around; always watching. He breaks in when they get mean, he pulls Stiles away, and he tells bad jokes or he outlines all of Stiles’s goodness to erase the other words. And the people who try to hit the kid, they don’t get off so well. There’s usually blood or broken bones involved. But his father always understands, and always makes the person know they’ve done wrong; it’s not enough, but it works.
Derek’s not tactile; he’s never been one to curl up with his parents and sister for the physical comfort and bonding most wolf packs do. He likes his space, he likes smelling like no one but himself, and he doesn’t like the feeling of other people’s skin. But Stiles is an exception. He’s always the exception. Derek loves Stiles’s skin, he loves the way it smells and he’s sure it’s the softest thing on earth; only behind Stiles’s wolf’s fur. He loves how warm Stiles is and he loves it when he moves and can smell Stiles on his clothes and arms. He’s the only person who’s allowed to touch Derek for no reason and he’s the only one Derek actually welcomes contact from. He doesn’t even like hugs from his mom, only really allowing them for her benefit, and only for special occasions.
It’s not necessary, but Derek learned to control his wolf when he was a teenager. By the time he was fifteen, he didn’t even change on the full moon; he only ever did it at the insistence of his father, his alpha. So he ever only changed on the occasional full moon, hunting with his family and playing with his sister. That all went down the drain when Stiles arrived too. He changes for anything now; well, anything the kid asks for. When Stiles has a nightmare and comes to Derek, he changes so they can sleep; when Stiles is feeling a little lonely, Derek changes to they can play in the backyard or run through the woods; and then there are the times when he changes before Stiles, just so he can coax the kid to curl up with him for a nap somewhere; even if Stiles stays human. Especially if he stays human; he likes being the kid’s pillow, and blanket.
Derek has been pushed to crawling clubs for people to spend the night with since Stiles was fifteen and really hit puberty and couldn’t control things like arousal. He remembers the first time he smelled it on the kid and left the house so fast Stiles barely had time to blink. Derek could hardly control himself and all he wanted was a release. Stiles was confused and hurt for days afterward, but Derek apologized though he never understood why he acted that way. He’s been slinking away for meaningless encounters ever since, every time he catches that taunting spice in the air.
It all makes sense.
Stiles is his mate. He is the only person who Derek plays that fragile game of give and take with; he’s the only one who equals him and tells Derek when he’s wrong or being an idiot; he’s the only person who Derek would be willing to spend the rest of his life bonded to.
Derek realizes, a little slowly and a little vaguely, that he’s had his eyes trained on Stiles for a long time. Probably too long to be normal, really. He also realizes that his mother and Laura have left the room; abandoning their game of checkers and leaving Stiles and him alone. Derek’s book sits neglected in his lap, falling open and quietly sliding to the floor.
Stiles is reading across the couch from Derek with a smile on his face. Derek stares and stares until Stiles finally looks up. He must read something on Derek’s face because the brightest, most carefree and beautiful smile crosses his face and he laughs. That stupid, extremely happy one that sounds a bit manic, but always so lovely, and he turns his foot to poke Derek’s leg. “Now you’re gettin’ it, sourwolf.” He says, low and happy, and laughs again.
Derek can’t even bring himself to let out the half-hearted growl he usually would at Stiles finding amusement at his expense. Instead he pushes his book the rest of the way to the floor and sits up, pulling Stiles’s own book from his lose grasp and dropping it with Derek’s own. He leans into Stiles’s personal space, breaking all of his touching rules, and listens to his mate’s pulse speed up and skip at the same time. His mate. It sounds right; sounds perfect. Derek clears his throat and studies Stiles’s eyes. “I’m going to kiss you now, if you have no objections.” His voice is nothing but a whisper.
Stiles’s heart tumbles over itself again, and he swallows thickly. “I don’t know how to kiss anyone.” He answers back, just as low.
Derek shakes his head, leaning closer. “No that’s- no, it’s okay. I’m glad.” He can feel his own breath as it hits Stiles’s lips; he’s so close, but he won’t take. He’ll never do anything Stiles doesn’t want.
Stiles swallows again and one of his hands starts to nervously play with Derek’s shirt. “Then- then, yeah, kiss away.”
Derek leans forward the last inch or so and slots their lips together. It makes something warm uncurl in his chest and a sigh builds in his throat; so he lets it out and leans closer, one hand gripping the arm of the couch behind Stiles’s head, and the other spread over the nape of Stiles’s neck and the bottom of his skull.
And that’s it. This is home. Nothing else will compare to this moment and no one else will ever be enough for Derek ever again. Not like there will be anyone else, of course. Derek has who he wants, and he’s perfection.