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On The Job Training

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It's summer and Stiles is happy. Not just because there's no school - although that's definitely a plus - but because he gets to spend every day with the pack.

Yeah. That's his thing now. Running with a pack of werewolves.

He'd never seen this coming after that night he told Scott about half a body being found in the woods near the old Hale house.

Stiles is on his front on the sofa, one of his favourite places to be. It'd been donated by Isaac who officially lives with his aunt, but unofficially lives at the warehouse. His aunt doesn't treat him the way his dad did, but - if possible - she seems to care about him even less, not giving a crap about anything he does. Isaac really crapped out on the whole having a decent family thing and sometimes all Stiles can think is that he's lucky he has the pack.

Also, that Stiles is totally never asking him where he got the sofa from. It's comfortable, with no suspicious blood stains and doesn't reek of anything troubling, so Stiles doesn't ask questions and spends as much time there as possible.

At the moment he's going through their slowly-translated-by-him-but-it's-taking-forever-because-he-doesn't-actually-know-Ancient-Latin copy of the Bestiary, unwittingly provided by the Argents a year ago. Stiles has read through what he can of it many, many times but he still finds the thing fascinating, and is always pouring through it to try and dig up some new nugget of information.

And truthfully, it's more like he's trying to go through the Bestiary, because the rest of the pack - bar one - are on the far side of the warehouse, playing. That's totally what it is, too; the way dogs - and wolves, presumably - playfully chase or fight with each other, running around until they finally collapse from exhaustion. Stiles had found it equally ridiculous and hilarious at first; had even started bringing along chew toys until Derek, the big party pooper, had made him stop. But sometimes now a small part of him is kind of jealous that he's missing out. He never says that, of course, and it's not like they purposefully exclude him, but they all know he won't heal the way they do when he inevitably gets hurt. They're not exactly gentle on each other, a point proven when Erica pushes Jackson into a table, creating a veritable avalanche of origami animals hitting the floor. Boyd growls in annoyance, which just makes Stiles roll his eyes. He'd told Boyd ages ago to find a better way of displaying the damn things after that time Scott suffered a particularly brutal sneezing attack (as it turns out, just about everything a werewolf does is more powerful, including sneezing. They kept finding origami'd animals in the weirdest places for days afterward). It's his own fault for not listening.

That's not the only distraction, however. The other distraction is a lot closer - sitting only a few feet away - reading a book. It's something Stiles finds him doing, lately. Whenever Stiles has foregone the computer for the chance to spread out on the comfy, comfy sofa, Derek parks himself on the chair not long after. He always settles in quietly, not saying a word as he opens up his book like the guy's never heard of a Kindle or an iPad. Derek is old-fashioned in a lot of ways, and that's not always a bad thing.

Sometimes a conversation starts up, sometimes it doesn't, and mostly they just enjoy being in each other's presence.

Okay, so maybe that's just how Stiles reads the situation.

Anyway, for all that Derek is frequently the annoying, growly, over-protective Alpha, in quieter moments he's this other guy that Stiles is still getting to know. For whatever reason he's usually less guarded in these moments - and much less likely to argue with Stiles about anything, when he normally makes it an Olympic event. He really has this whole Jekyll and Hyde thing going on, and Stiles doesn't know if it's his werewolf side vs his human side, or if sometimes Derek is just a dick.

He tends to think it's the latter.

His thoughts are cut short when Derek's phone rings, gaining his interest. Derek doesn't get personal calls when they're all together - everyone he cares about is in the warehouse - so phone calls usually lead somewhere interesting. Maybe even to somewhere where Stiles can help out.

Stiles likes being useful, likes being able to have something to contribute - especially when he's the only one in the pack who doesn't have superhuman strength. No, Stiles' skills when it comes to fighting are simply hoping he trips the bad guys up with his body after he inevitably gets knocked unconscious. Not that he thinks he's not an asset, because he totally is. His research and planning skills are usually the best out of the group, but when it comes to the physical stuff? Not so much.

So, when Derek declares that they have to go back to Jungle again - as a group, because apparently being a pack means doing practically everything together; Stiles literally had to stop Isaac from following him into the bathroom that one time with a rant about personal space - Stiles knows exactly what to do. Derek is concerned about them not blending in, which - has Derek seen himself? Or his pack? They already look like they belong in a gay club 90% of the time anyway.

But Stiles is The Man. The Man with The Plan. And a cell phone that holds Delores' number.

She sounds genuinely pleased to hear from him again and is eager to take Stiles up on his invitation to meet more of his friends. Stiles always get the impression after talking to Delores - which might have happened a few times now, usually when he wanted to quite rightfully complain about something obnoxious Derek had done - that she feels like she's taking him under her wing, or something. Which is totally, totally unnecessary.

It's kind of nice, anyway.

So, once the arrangements are made, Stiles heads back in to the warehouse to share the good news.

Jackson is his typical, cheerful self. "You have friends? Outside the pack?" Yeah. Aligning his lizardy ass with Derek's pack hadn't made Jackson any less of a dick. Go figure.

"Jackson," Derek warns with a rumble of a growl, and at least there's that, now. For all his - many, many - faults, Derek will not stand for in-fighting.

"Unlike some people, I know how to socialise like a human being," he shoots back anyway, "probably because I am the only human being. I know how to network. Get on someone's good side. Make friends."

"Wait," Scott says, "are these the same friends you brought...to Lydia's party?"

The hesitation's there because they don't talk about Lydia's birthday party. It's a whole big denial thing they have going on. The fall-out and repercussions of that night went on for a long, long time - and still weren't completely over. Hence the reason Allison and Lydia weren't part of the pack with them. At the moment, he told himself. Just at the moment. "Yeah."

"Awesome!" Scott grins and Stiles grins back.

That night, Derek's face alone gets them straight to the front of the line (of course it does, why is he even surprised?) and when they walk in together as a group...Stiles suddenly understands why Derek was worried about blending in. They're getting a lot of attention, which totally makes sense given the number of hotties they have in the pack - including Erica, who's attracted the attention of the only lesbian in the room. Thankfully Delores is already there, waving them over and Stiles' relief grows as he leads the way, the interest waning a little as it becomes clear they're actually there to meet friends, not about to indulge in some physics-defying sex orgy right then and there.

"Hello, gorgeous!" she greets loudly over the music, before her gaze zeroes in on Derek and Boyd specifically, eyebrows arching. "Well, looks like somebody had two daddies," she remarks wickedly, as Stiles just makes a face and Jackson busts a gut laughing.

"That is so gross I cannot begin to tell you," is all Stiles can think to say, and then he's gesturing from group to group. "Delores, meet my friends. My friends, meet Delores and her friends."

Scott goes right up to shake her hand.

"It's a pleasure," she says warmly, then leans down towards Stiles after Scott moves away. "Is that Derek?" She asks as quietly as is possible with the music, her eyes drifting towards Scott who's happily standing to one side, moving his head up and down in time to the beat, totally oblivious to the looks he's getting.

Weird question, for several reasons. "That's Scott. My best friend." She doesn't seem to recognise him. "You met him at the party?"

"Oh," she waves a hand, "I don't know what the hell was in that punch, but I barely remember anything about that night - apart from a really disturbing nightmare about my ex." Yeah. Sounded like that had been a bad night for all involved.

"That's Derek." Stiles gestures to the man in question, who at least doesn't seem to be paying attention, talking to Boyd and Jackson about something quietly.

Clearly surprised, Delores brings a hand up to her cleavage. "Oh. I imagined something...a little more your size."

Stiles is starting to feel offended, but he's not even sure why. He's about to snap back some kind of response when there's a hand - a female hand - sliding from his shoulder down to his stomach and pausing there, a body pressing up against his back and when he turns his head he sees Erica grinning straight at Delores. "Oh, don't worry about Stiles, here. He's plenty big enough to handle Derek. Isn't that right?" she asks, turning her head to meet Stiles' gaze, and he'd be enjoying the groping a lot more if she wasn't so evil.

"I hate you," he squints, because Erica - and most of the pack, actually - seem to think it's funny to make jokes about him and Derek, when it couldn't be further from the truth.

"You love it," Erica taunts, giving his stomach a firm pat before sliding her arm and her body away, and walking - sashaying, really - off towards the woman who's still giving her the eye. Stiles doesn't know if all supernatural creatures are fluid with their sexuality, or if there's just something in the water. It could be either one, because Isaac has starting dancing with a guy who doesn't have a shirt on.

Rolling his eyes, Stiles focuses back on Delores. "Ignore her. That's just Erica. She's-"

"Stiles." A much larger - and much more familiar, which says a lot about how often Derek pushes him around - hand drops on his shoulder. Stiles is about to turn when Jackson is clearly shoved right next to him, almost stumbling. "Jackson's staying here," Derek says in no uncertain terms and Jackson looks as thrilled about this as Stiles is. "Boyd's coming with me to see if my...date's here," he finishes, and by 'date' he means 'contact', and why these secret meetings about the latest hunter activity have to happen in gay bars, Stiles has no idea. Maybe Derek's contact is gay, and this was a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone thing.

Derek's about to take off when he apparently thinks better of it and pauses, giving Delores a silent nod in greeting. It's the only way he's acknowledged her presence in any way, shape or form and then he is leaving, Boyd walking right next to him.

"I see what you mean," Delores says knowingly and Stiles throws his hands out in triumph that at least somebody understands.

"Thank you! You see what I have to work with?"

Jackson frowns at them. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Sometime later, it turns out that Jackson likes fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. This news is somehow unsurprising and Stiles would make a lot more fun of him than he already has, but alcohol doesn't affect Jackson anymore so he figures he can only get away with so much when Jackson is still sober. Delores has taken herself off to the little girls room (her words, and Stiles couldn't help but wonder which room she'd actually be using but that was the not the kind of question you asked a lady without getting slapped), so the two of them are sitting at one of the few seating areas. Clearly bored, Jackson is rolling an open umbrella between the thumb and index finger of his right hand, while Stiles fiddles with a cherry impaled on a plastic stick (oh, irony). When Jackson suddenly shifts, sitting up straight, it's enough to draw Stiles' interest and he looks up to see a guy walking towards them. He's not Derek levels of hot - or, God help him, even Jackson - but he's definitely cute and looks like a man on a mission. Sighing, Stiles drops the cherry and turns to one side, because he has no intention of watching absolutely everybody hook up around him - or watch how damn smug Jackson is about to be - when he realises cute guy's path has changed and he's walking towards him.

Towards Stiles.

"Hi," the guy says, smiling at him. At Stiles.

Right now, he really wishes he could see Jackson's face, but he kinda can't tear his face away from the guy who likes him. "Hi."

There's a noise next to him, a chair being moved and then Jackson's arm is around his shoulders. What the hell? That breaks the trance and Stiles turns to glare at him. "What are you-?"

"He's here with someone," Jackson tells Cute Guy meaningfully and seriously, what the hell?

"Really?" Cute Guy asks with a disbelieving smile. "Because it doesn't look like he's having a very good time. In fact, he looks bored out of his mind."

"That's just his resting face," Jackson says smoothly. "It's a lot different than his orgasm face, I can tell you-"

Oh my God. "Oh my God! Would you both let me participate in a conversation that's about me? Please?" Stupid assholes and their stupid territorial bullshit. And why the hell was Jackson being territorial over him in the first place?

His freak out doesn't scare Cute Guy off, who probably thinks he's doing Stiles a favour by getting him away from Jackson. This is not far from the truth. "You want to dance?"

Stiles glances out over the heaving mass of bodies and doesn't know what he wants. He's kind of pissed at both of them, but he's never danced with a guy before-

And then Jackson is kissing him.

Kissing. Him.

And Jackson's hot and all, and maybe Stiles had imagined what this'd feel like once or twice before, but now that the moment's here it's mostly just shock. The kiss isn't bad, but it is his first kiss with a guy, and Jackson is not the first guy kiss he's been hoping for.

Not that he's been hoping for anyone in particular. Or anything.

And then he thinks this is Jackson, and Jackson has kissed everyone and Stiles probably has a STD already in the five seconds they've been lip-locked and Stiles is still so shocked, it takes him a while to remember he can do something to stop it. Planting a hand on Jackson's chest, Stiles shoves him away, hard. Panting, wiping a hand across his mouth, Stiles watches in satisfaction as Jackson nearly falls off his chair.

"Dude," he breathes out angrily, "do that again and you lose both balls." He doesn't care that Jackson is a super strong lizard - he'll find a way to make it happen.

"That won't be all he'll lose," a voice says, so Stiles turns and of course Derek and the rest of the pack are all standing there watching. Derek and the rest of the pack had suddenly swooped in like there was a disturbance in the pack-force and their were-midi-chlorians had alerted them to it. Of course they had. His mortification lives only briefly, however, before Derek speaks again - and he's clearly addressing Jackson. "You were supposed to pretend to be his boyfriend. That was all."

And way, woo, wha, huh? "Excuse me? Say what?" Because he cannot have heard that correctly. Seriously cannot.

"I scared the guy off didn't I?" Jackson defends and still no one is answering Stiles' question. "You said keep him out of trouble."

"By pretending to be his boyfriend, yes," Derek says. "Not by..." Derek grimaces like it hurts to even say it, "...sucking his face off."

No, seriously. What?

"So? I kept him out of trouble." And then Jackson adds, much too smugly for Stiles' liking, "With my lips."

Derek huffs and then suddenly he's moving forward, grabbing Stiles' wrist - and oh, they were back to this, now - literally dragging him out of the club. Stiles can't resist even he wants to - and he actually really does want to. As they pass Delores she gives him a dirty wink and a big thumbs up. He can't help but feel betrayed because in what universe does this actually look like he's being dragged outside to be ravished by the hot guy in the leather jacket? Can she not see how angry Derek looks? How angry Stiles looks?

Finally, though, they're all stumbling out the exit. Derek's grip loosens just enough and Stiles is yanking away, only to prod a finger firmly against Derek's chest. It may bounce back a little due to the muscles. Stiles tries not to notice. "What the hell is wrong with you?" The shock has worn off and Stiles has settled on angry, with a chance of pissed. "You leave a...fake boyfriend with me, like it's any of your business whatsoever? So...what?" His brain tries to make sense of this insanity. "There won't even be a chance that someone might look at me? You guys get to go off and dance with whoever the hell you want, but what about me? Maybe Stiles wants to dance with a guy! Maybe Stiles wants a chance to actually kiss someone in the next decade-"

"Already taken care of," Jackson points out smugly.

"Someone who isn't Jackson!" Right about now, Jackson needs a dose of his own venom.

And Derek just keeps glaring at him, like this is all Stiles' fault when he hasn't done anything wrong at all. Seriously. For once, this is not in any way his fault. Saying nothing, Derek eventually grumps away in the general direction of his car.

Stiles stares after him. "But...I..."

"Stiles," Jackson is right next to him and Stiles see the others sneaking past - Scott included - before he can say anything to them, the cowards, "don't be a moron. Well, even more of one than usual." Completely confused, Stiles just looks at him. Jackson pats him on the shoulder in a way that's almost friendly, and maybe it should be weird because they've kissed now, but it totally isn't. "You're pack."

Stiles doesn't admit this very often, but he really doesn't understand what Jackson's getting at. "So?"

"So...you're ours," Jackson explains, like it's a perfectly normal thing to say and not in any way creepy or possessive.

Stiles just stands there, stunned, watching Jackson walk away.

What?

TBC

Chapter Text

The thing is, he can't really blame them. And that's not to make it sound like he's excusing their behaviour, because he's not - he's well, well aware of how twisted and screwed-up they are.

But that's just it. Even before he officially became part of the pack, he was well aware of how twisted and screwed-up they were - especially Derek. And he joined anyway. It's almost like he only has himself to blame.

But what was he supposed to do? It was desperately obvious they needed his help. Derek was all brute force and good intention, with no forethought whatsoever. Stiles didn't want Scott getting hurt, so to keep Scott out of trouble, Stiles had to sign up. It was that simple and ever since, Stiles has been snatching their collective - distractingly perfect - asses out of the fire.

Sure, in the past they've all been more protective of him than they really should've been, but he's the only human and the only one unable to defend himself with supernatural powers. Stiles came to grudgingly accept it, eventually, even appreciate it when he realised that being saved all the time physically didn't have to be emasculating when he keeps returning the favour using the awesome power of his mind. No actual telekenesis or telepathy, unfortunately (unless you count his mountain ash mojo, which Stiles likes to at every opportunity), just planning and connecting events and information in a way the others can't. Maybe it's because his dad's a cop - Stiles isn't sure, but the point is that they all have something to contribute and they've all saved each other's asses multiple times. Stiles included.

This, though. This was something else entirely.

For all their protective crap, they've never actively cockblocked him before - although, admittedly, that might have had something to do with the fact that prior to that night at the club, there's been nothing to cockblock. At all. Maybe the idea of Stiles actually being involved with someone was going to be as much an adjustment for the rest of the pack as it was undoubtedly going to be for him. When Jackson had said that Stiles was 'theirs'...no matter how disturbing it is, it's kind of the truth. Stiles has no personal life outside of the pack. He had no personal life before the pack either, but the point holds. If they need anything, day or night, he's there. It went both ways, at least. Anytime he calls any of them, they're there with him minutes later. Even Jackson, who never looks happy about it - especially at three in the morning - but turns up just the same.

Sooo...maybe Derek is just being even more frustratingly protective than usual?

Stiles needs more information, and finds his opportunity on a stake-out one night with Isaac (because this is what he does now; he does stake-outs and it's mostly boring but still kind of awesome). They're following up on Derek's information and also in disguise because Stiles is the only one smart enough to think, hey, if they're going to lurk around somewhere suspiciously, maybe they shouldn't look like themselves while they're doing it (honestly, totally lost without him). The others are stationed in pairs - with Derek going solo - around the warehouse they're all watching and the task is simple - see who goes in and out, don't get caught and don't wolf-out. Stiles has plotted out various escape routes, even encouraging Scott to get involved, because it's not like sharing the experience of using logical thinking was going to do Scott any harm.

Isaac is an interesting one, at least to Stiles. When he'd first been turned he was a raging douchnozzle, understandably - if annoyingly - high on the feeling of power after feeling powerless for so long. Over time, though, his douchnozzleness (totally a word) has ebbed, and he's started taking this whole pack thing pretty seriously.

So far they've seen nothing and Stiles really doesn't want to listen to Isaac go on about Erica again - those two need to get hit by the clue bus, and quickly - so to stop that conversation from happening, he grabs this opportunity for Research into Werewolf Business.

"Hey," he asks quietly, peering around the corner, "can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Isaac replies, right next to him, "as long as it's not about knotting again."

Some people never let anything go. "That was one time," Stiles hisses, "and it was genuine interest." Stiles honestly needs to know this kind of stuff. If he's one day going to be traumatised for the rest of his life by stumbling across one werewolf knotting another, he feels he needs to brace himself for the inevitable in advance. Forewarned is forearmed, and all that. "When you first become a werewolf, it's not like you...suddenly become a font of all information werewolf-based, right? Like, there's no genetic memory thing going on?" Stiles is pretty sure he's right because Scott had been completely clueless and yes, it doesn't matter that this is Scott's general state.

"Right," Isaac says, starting to sound curious although he doesn't look away from the warehouse. "I don't think I would've known anything for sure if Derek hadn't told me."

Stiles nods. "So...has Derek ever said anything about humans and their place in the pack?" Isaac stiffens noticeably but remains professional, still not moving his gaze away from the building. "When I first signed up, Derek gave me that 'humans can be a valuable asset to the pack' speech," Stiles explains in his best Derek voice, which mostly sounds like Christian Bale's Batman and nothing like Derek whatsoever, "but - I dunno. Lately I've been interested in the history of it. And where exactly a human fits in. Especially only one human." Specifically, that human being him.

Isaac proves he's a lot smarter than Stiles expects when he says, "This is about Jackson kissing you, right?"

He can't deny it - and doesn't want to, because now he gets to let rip. "That was totally psycho!" he complains. "It was bad enough Jackson laid one on me in the first place, but then he goes and implies that I'm not supposed to be with anyone? Ever? I mean...is that expected because I'm the human? Because I didn't sign up for that crap." He nods to himself firmly although if it is the case, he really doesn't know what he's going to do about it. Scott still needs protecting, not to mention the rest of them and it's really frustrating that he still feels this way despite everything. His life would be a whole lot simpler if he didn't give a crap. "I'm the sole human in the pack. Am I like...the werewolf version of a pet?" Stiles' brain is just taking the idea and running with it, now. "Oh, cute little Stiles! Pet him on the head. Throw him into the wall. Don't let him have a sex life. There's a good boy!"

Chuckling quietly, Isaac shakes his head, although he still doesn't turn it towards him. "I can say without a doubt, Stiles, that you're not our pet."

"Then what am I?" he demands, frustrated.

And then, finally, Isaac turns to look at him. He's smiling, faintly. Actually, it's more like a smirk - which makes sense, because Isaac and Erica are totally meant for each other. "You're pack."

Once again, that tells him absolutely nothing. Stiles is stopped from complaining some more when Isaac's smirk vanishes and he stands straight, head turning back towards the warehouse. "Movement," he says quietly and Stiles finds himself immediately hunkering down behind the low wall a few feet in front of them, peering over the top. Isaac may not need any help identifying people from this distance but Stiles does, fishing out his extremely expensive yet also extremely awesome binoculars. Derek had given them to him on his birthday, claiming there was nothing sentimental behind it whatsoever and that Stiles just needed to be as useful as the rest of the pack. Derek was officially full of shit.

Frowning into his binoculars, Stiles studies the men in the distance. "Don't recognise them," he says quietly, "which at least means that they shouldn't recognise any of us, either." Hunters didn't roll through Beacon Hills very often, probably mostly down to the fact that with Derek's pack on the case, there hadn't been any mysterious murders in a long time. However, every now and then new hunters came sniffing around who didn't know anything about Derek or his pack. It always paid to be cautious.

What Stiles is not expecting is exactly what happens next. One of the guys suddenly flicks on a flashlight and it's immediately lighting up Stiles. It's random chance. A one in a million shot. Really crappy timing. Shit.

"We need to move." Isaac is kneeling down next to him but Stiles is already back behind the protection of the wall, shoving his binoculars away and then Isaac is grabbing his arm, pulling him up and they're running.

Thanking God for disguises and escape routes, Stiles takes the turn to the right. "This way!" Isaac is more than fast enough to overtake him of course but he doesn't, matching Stiles' speed and constantly looking back to see if the hunters are gaining.

And then they run into a dead end. It's a huge, huge building - Isaac won't be able to make it in one leap or when holding someone, and there's no chance in hell Stiles ever will. There's some distance between them and the hunters, they could turn and go back, but there's not enough time to get anywhere of value, Stiles thinks, as he replays the route they just took in his head. Wait...the route they just took was the one... "Oh my God, I let Scott help me. Why did I let Scott help me?" Stiles brings his hands up to his head, momentarily surprised to find that the cap he's wearing is still there.

"You let Scott help you?" Isaac snaps, prowling the walls for a way out.

"I was being a good friend!" Stiles defends.

"More like-" He stops abruptly. "Fire escape," he nods towards it and Stiles spins around. It's ancient, rickety and half of it appears to be missing - Stiles needs to have a word with his dad's friends about building code violations, because really - but werewolves can be surprisingly light on their feet.

Isaac could make it. Stiles doesn't even hesitate.

"Go," Stiles tells him. "You can make it. Go."

Isaac just looks unimpressed. "And throw you under the bus? You're pack. That's not gonna happen." And - well, that's touching, really, but then Isaac must have another idea because his claws are starting to grow. "You can be my victim," he suggests instead, eyes flashing yellow.

Oh, no way in hell. Right now, there was a good chance the guys following them knew nothing about werewolves being here at all. Stiles isn't about to give them that information freely. "Look, let's just agree that's there going to be no mutual throwing-under-busedness, and think of something else." But they have to do something, something fast, because Stiles is pretty sure he can hear running footsteps in the distance and hunters tended to be the shoot-first-and-let-you-die-horribly-before-asking-any-questions type. Knowledge of local werewolves or not, they were going to be extremely suspicious about the two guys they'd seen watching the building. "Think...think..." he paces, mind running. "What would two guys our age be doing in an alley-?"

They look at each other at exactly the same time.

They had just been talking about guy kissing. And doing whatever it took not to throw each other under the bus. And at least this is Stiles' choice, which is a step up from last time. And it's ridiculous enough that, while it might not stop the hunters from killing them eventually, at the very least it might confuse them long enough to slow them down - long enough for the others to get here.

"Disguises off," Stiles encourages, already pulling his jacket and cap off, because this way they won't look much like the guys the hunters were chasing after, either. Isaac, apparently going for realism (Stiles can only presume this), yanks off his shirt too, and Stiles finds himself following suit because there's really not much time for thinking. The clothes are thrown into a conveniently placed dumpster and then Stiles doesn't even let himself think and they just move towards each other.

That's how Stiles finds himself making out with Isaac, shirtless and pushed up against a wall.

Maybe this should be a focal point where Stiles starts to question his life choices, because seriously, what in his life has actually led him to this moment, shirtless and faking being into Isaac in a dirty alley? Only he's a lot more interested in the not dying right now aspect of the evening, so even though he's kind of terrified of the hunter's footsteps he can hear thundering into the alley, Stiles tries to look like he's enjoying himself by throwing himself into it. He kisses Isaac harder, dirtier and while he isn't getting all hot and bothered the way he thinks you're meant to - probably down to the guys who want to kill them - Isaac is definitely a good kisser.

The footsteps have stopped. In fact, all sounds have stopped apart from their ragged breaths. Stiles keeps his eyes squeezed shut, refusing to make eye contact, give the hunters the easy-in to making some smart remark that will inevitably lead to their grisly-

There's a mechanised click, like the sound a cameraphone makes when someone takes a picture.

Stiles can't help it. He falters in the kissing because...well, there's no reason hunters can't be voyeurs as well, right? Stiles doesn't judge. Truthfully, he's trying to mentally talk himself out of facing what he suspects is waiting for him once he actually lifts his eyelids.

And then there's a familiar growl, and it's all over.

Breaking the kiss, Isaac stumbles back. Stiles is finally forced to prise his eyes open and - yeah. It's exactly as embarrassing as he thought it'd be. Derek is glaring so hard it's like he's setting New World Records for Glowering. Scott looks confused. The rest of them just look amused - especially Jackson, who seems like he's enjoying the hell out of the new picture he has on his cameraphone.

Clearing his throat, holding his head up high, Stiles calmly folds his arms across his really naked chest. "The hunters?" he asks primly, like he hasn't just been found half-naked, macking on another guy in an alley.

"Sent them on a wild goose chase," Derek says helpfully, although his face looks anything but helpful, eyes actually turning red.

"Oh, don't even start, wolf boy." Because really, Stiles had genuinely been fearing for his life - and even if he hadn't been, it shouldn't have mattered. He actually says, "You're not the boss of me," and then turns his back on Derek deliberately, opening the dumpster and frowning miserably. "If my binoculars are even slightly damaged...and let's not even talk about the state of my clothes." Stiles refuses to go home shirtless, so he's going to smell like dumpster for the rest of the night.

Isaac helps him, at least, because they're both in this shitty situation together. In fact, it doesn't take Stiles long to notice that Isaac is being very helpful, offering to climb into the dumpster personally instead of Stiles, wiping garbage grossness off of Stiles' belongings before passing them to him, getting all of Stiles' things before retrieving any of his own clothes...

And the entire time, he keeps shooting nervous-looking glances towards Derek.

Stiles does not enjoy any of the explanations his brain is conjuring up for this behaviour. Yanking his clothes back on as quickly as possible - trying to cut off the airflow to his nose as much as possible at the same time - Stiles stomps his way out of the alley. He's holding the binoculars in his right hand and he's just considering shoving them into Derek's stupid, wolfy face when Scott pops up next to him.

"So...that was weird," is all Scott says.

"You are the worst friend on the face of the planet," Stiles grinds out but before Scott can shoot any more confusion in Stiles' general direction there's a hand on Stiles' chest, pushing him up against the building again.

Momentarily winded - and shocked - Stiles stares up as Derek leans in ominously. All he can think is that Derek's taking quite the risk, because Stiles has to smell pretty disgusting to a werewolf right about now (also, that Derek's stupid, wolfy face is also stupidly attractive when it's up close and personal. Damn it).

"I'm the Alpha," Derek says darkly, "technically, I am the boss of you."

Stiles is so shocked that Derek actually went there that he can't even voice how offended he feels. Instead, he stands there silently as Derek removes his hand before stalking away.

Panting, watching Derek go, Stiles' mood begins to lighten as he feels the corners of his mouth twitch up. He's just reduced a werewolf - an Alpha, no less - to a lame 'not the boss of me' comeback.

There's a victory there, somewhere.

TBC

Chapter Text

Stiles' ponderings about exactly what his place in the pack is - and what's expected of him, beyond badass planning skills - are put on hold when Dad gets a phone call. Dad works night security, now. Neither one of them are thrilled about it but it's a job and it brings in money. He still keeps in contact with his old friends, though, and it's one of them who lets him know about the body they found out in the forest. Fortunately, it'd been nowhere near Derek's old place, so at least there weren't about to be any shiny new murder charges about to land on Derek's doorstep.

Not so fortunately, it seems the guy's chest has been ripped apart by some kind of wild animal.

Yeah. They were back to this again.

Stiles calls Derek, and within half an hour the entire pack is at the warehouse. It's become a home away from home at this point. They spend so much time there and it's not an entirely terrible place to be, at least once Derek started letting them personalise it. Mostly that means some actual furniture, but every now and then one of them brings something else that, for whatever reason, they feel would make a good fit. The last one was Boyd, who brought in a handmade ashtray that's so funky they find a use for it despite none of them smoking. Ultimately, Stiles uses it to store nuts when they're in a snacking mood.

Derek tells them what's going down and the next day, Scott manages to sneak into the hospital morgue under the guise of visiting his mom. The pictures he brings back are typically gross, but when they're examined as closely as possible the slashes into the chest are clearly not the work of a werewolf or a kanima.

Which means something else has arrived that's capable of killing people with its huge, scary claws. Fantastic.

Scott suggests they show the pictures to his boss, and it takes Stiles longer than it should to realise he means Dr Deaton. He literally can't remember the last time Scott went to work, and figures Dr Deaton must only be using the 'job' as an excuse to keep an eye on Scott - and subsequently Derek - at this point. Deaton would've been Stiles' next point of call, anyway. He still doesn't know exactly who Deaton is or exactly what his history is, but it's clear the guy knows a lot more about their crazy lives than any of them do. He's proven helpful numerous times, and Stiles is pretty sure that he's caught Derek on the phone to him more than once, asking for advice.

When he grows up, Stiles kind of wants to be just like him.

So they're in the exam room - literally, all of them, clustered around the examination table - and Dr Deaton doesn't even sigh, just acts like this is normal behaviour. Holding out a hand, he takes Scott's phone, slowly and intently scrolling through the pictures. When he reaches one in particular he balks, his normally placid face actually betraying an emotion, and when he passes the phone back Stiles catches a glimpse of what's clearly an awkward, taken-while-they-were-kissing shot of Scott and Allison frenching. Stiles should probably feel grossed out as Scott quickly snatches the phone away, but mostly he just feels sad.

"Well?" Derek asks roughly, stampeding over the moment of awkwardness with all of his usual subtlety.

"Was the victim male or female?" Deaton asks calmly and Stiles can see why he'd need to ask. The pictures had been close-ups of the gouges more than anything else and they'd been so deep and vicious, they'd simply obliterated most of the chest area.

"Male."

Now Deaton does sigh. "The creature you're looking for is a succubus."

It takes them all a moment for the news to settle in.

Unsurprisingly, Stiles is the first one to speak. It's kind of his thing. "As in...a lifeforce sucking hot chick? With the sex and the skimpy clothes and the enormous wings?" He pauses when he realises everyone's staring at him. "What?"

"Word of advice, Stiles," Deaton tells him drolly, "don't get your knowledge of the supernatural from comics and video games."

Stiles shifts his weight from one leg to the other. Well, okay. That was kind of a fair statement. "But they're actually real, right? That's what I'm getting at." Deaton nods. Stiles takes that as permission to turn to the left and thump Derek on the chest because, like the creeper he is, he's leaning right into Stiles' personal space. "You didn't think I needed to know this?"

"Do you know how rare succubi are?" Derek defends. "I have to warn you about every supernatural creature that might, in a one-in-a-million chance, happen to stumble through Beacon Hills?"

"How can I plan for anything if I don't even know if it really exists? It's not like it's in the Beastiery!" Stiles fires back, folding his arms across his chest. He is their ideas guy, after all. He needs to be well-informed. "What else do I need to worry about? Is there a chance of zombies appearing in the near future?"

"Don't be ridiculous," Derek practically snorts, sounding pretty damn ridiculous himself as he does so. "Zombies don't exist."

"Oh, zombies are ridiculous but werewolves and succubi aren't?" It's like Derek's living on this whole other planet, where his reasoning only makes sense to himself. Annoyed beyond belief, Stiles gives up on Derek altogether and turns back to Deaton. "How do we kill it?"

Pleased that someone seems to be taking this seriously - and okay, maybe Stiles had let that disagreement with Derek go on longer than was strictly necessary - Deaton turns away to get something out of a drawer. When he returns, he's holding a familiar looking glass bottle.

Stiles knows where this is heading. "Me again?"

"You again," Deaton nods.

Of course, the problem is finding the succubus in the first place. There's nothing, apparently, that specifically lures them out, but as it turns out succubi aren't the greatest logical thinkers, running mostly on instinct and the need for its source of energy. When another body turns up the next day of a guy who lives less than two blocks away from the first victim, they go succubi hunting in the local neighbourhood. They do a bit of casual investigation during the day - trying to find out if anyone has been hearing crazy happy sex noises lately - but soon have to give that up because the police are running their own investigation and they don't want to pop up on their radar.

So, they go out at night again, partly because there's less people around, but mostly because, so far, the succubus has only struck at night. With their fancy werewolf hearing, if they pass anywhere within range of an attack - or crazy happy sex noises in the lead up to an attack - they'll be able to hear it. Stiles has never been so glad not to be a werewolf because honestly, he does not want to eavesdrop on anybody's crazy happy sex noises, whether it's in the lead up to an attack or not.

He comments on this to Scott, as they cautiously pick their way through the neighbourhood. They've broken the area down into four different sections, each pair covering one area each, with Derek taking one for himself.

Scott just shrugs. "It is a little weird at first - well, more than a little weird," he admits. "But it's one of those things you just have to get used to, eventually. There's not really much choice in it, you know?"

There was something genuinely disturbing about the way Scott said that. It made Stiles' brain figure a few things out. "Dude. Just how many people have you heard having sex?"

Finally flushing - and there was the Scott Stiles knew, the one who actually got embarrassed about hearing other people having sex, not being all grown up about it and shit - Scott shrugs again. "It's...not all the time, you know? Most of the time you can block stuff out if you really don't want to hear it. But...sometimes...if it's really loud or really close...like Mr and Mrs Collins," he finally mumbles, shuddering.

Stiles does some shuddering of his own. "Your neighbours?" Ohhh, gross! How could Scott ever look at them the same way? How could Stiles? Sure, they were married and all, so it was no great surprise objectively thinking about them having a sex life. It was different hearing about it second hand, and no doubt horrifyingly different for poor Scott, who'd heard it first hand. Nice.

"Every time they do it," he confesses quietly, "I can't look at them for days afterward. And sometimes they do it more than once a week, which means I just can't look at them at all!"

Stiles places a companionable hand on Scott's shoulder. "So totally glad I'm not a werewolf," he re-affirms.

"And it's not just couples!" Scott continues urgently, because apparently he was on a roll now and Stiles was beginning to wish that he'd never mentioned it in the first place. "Sometimes it's people when they're...alone, you know?" Stiles did know, and was starting to think that Scott doesn't know any other phrase than 'you know', when the conversation takes an abrupt turn south. "I even heard Derek jerking off, once!"

Hello there, awkwardness.

There was genuinely no good response to that kind of statement, although a whole bunch of them flew through his mind. Derek actually jerks off, rather than denying himself the pleasure and being all self-masochistic and broody? What was it like? Was he loud? Did he say anything? More specifically, anyone's name? At exactly what place and time did this happen? Any one of which would just make Stiles sound like a pervert.

He was still trying to figure out exactly what to say when another thought struck Stiles - did that mean Scott had heard him jerking off at some point, too? They were always randomly turning up at each other's places without calling ahead. And then the real oh, shit moment - maybe Derek had heard him jerking off. Which, really, should've been all the punishment Derek deserved for turning up without warning. But, given that Stiles was technically a teenager and given how often he did jerk off, it was kind of amazing that Derek had never stumbled across him mid-jerk.

Which means. Which means...

Derek probably has heard him jerking off, and put off whatever apparently dire piece of news that couldn't wait until later.

Derek's howl when it comes, then, is something of a relief. Even if it means he's in trouble.

They find Derek fighting the succubus in the bedroom of a townhouse three blocks away. No one else is there and they don't have time to worry about the reasons why. Stiles is panting for breath by the time they get up the stairs, hands already fumbling to get the the bottle open as Derek throws the succubus into the far wall. There's a guy on the bed, out cold, naked and - well - fully erect. The succubus itself is nothing like he imagined, despite getting the truth of it from Dr Deaton. Her claws are long, black, and truly terrifying to look at. Her skin is nothing but huge, grey, drooping wrinkles and it seems like every inch of her body is writhing. The effect is more than a little strange on the eyes and Stiles is about to go to town with his mountain ash mojo when she leaps back up, pinning Derek to the floor. Stiles takes half a step towards them; Scott takes even more.

"No!" Derek yells, struggling against her vicious-looking grip. "Do it!"

"But-" He'd be trapped too, then. In the circle. With the succubus.

"She'll be trapped!" Derek does something truly ridiculous then, grabbing on to the succubus and pulling her closer.

Stiles isn't about to let a boneheaded sacrifice like that go to waste - no matter how dumb it'd been - closing his eyes as he pours the mountain ash into the palm of one hand. Letting out a long breath, Stiles concentrates, remembering what this'd felt like the few times he's done it before. Imagine what you need. Be the spark. Imagine what you need. Imagine-

His palm is suddenly empty.

"Dude!" Scott exclaims. "You did it!"

He opens his eyes to see that yeah, he has, only there was no time to be happy about it because Derek is trapped inside the circle with that thing with no chance of escape. The circle, at least, provided a distraction for the succubus who suddenly leaves Derek the hell alone, trying to force her way out. It doesn't work - everytime she tries to breech the barrier, she gets thrown back into the middle of the circle. Plainly furious, she drops back down on top of Derek - who worryingly, hasn't even tried to get up - and digs her claws into his chest.

It wasn't the claws in the chest thing that was worrying Stiles so much, though, that was the faint blue light that seemed to be coming out of Derek's body and flowing into hers. Stiles was pretty sure she was devouring Derek's soul right in front of them.

It prompts him into action, utterly sure about what he needs to do next. "I don't think so," Stiles says out loud, dropping the bottle to the carpeted floor, pulling out the mirror he's kept hidden away in his inside jacket pocket - they'd all had one hidden somewhere, for whoever was here for this part. It was small but, according to Deaton, any mirror would do and now that she was trapped - apparently, another vital part of the destroying succubi process - the mirror could do its work. "Hey, Clawasaurus," Stiles calls, louder this time, gaining its attention. Hissing, the succubus looks up at him - right at the mirror.

And freezes.

Swallowing, hoping this is really working, Stiles tests it by keeping the the mirror angled at the succubus' eyes - or the black pools that pass for them, anyway - and lifting it up higher. Its gaze follows the mirror and then, eventually, its entire body did, the claws yanking out of Derek's body with a disturbing squelching noise. The blue light disappears, much to Stiles' relief.

Utterly sure, now, that the succubus was focused only on its own reflection - it keeps slowly tipping its head from side-to-side, like it can't decide which is its best side - Stiles breaks the circle with a flick of his hand. "Get him out," he says quietly to Scott, "now." Scott doesn't hesitate, silently and carefully bending closer, grabbing Derek's still form and dragging it across the floor. It spreads more of the ash around but Stiles knows what he's doing, now. This time he doesn't even need to close his eyes, turning his left hand slowly, as the ash that's been spread out of place quickly and easily moves back together, re-forming the circle.

That done, Stiles walks closer still, as close to the edge of the circle as possible, discovering in the process that the stench coming from the succubus' mouth is almost overwhelming. Eyes watering, Stiles turns his head to one side, holding out a hand. He feels Scott place the metal into his palm and Stiles wraps his fingers around it firmly.

"Take the mirror," Stiles instructs, "but don't move it."

Scott does exactly what he's asked, having to lean in awkwardly to make sure the succubus doesn't lose interest in its reflection as they swap hands, but they get it done. Soon, Scott is the only one holding the mirror up to the succubus' eyes, and Stiles is about to step towards it.

"Are you sure?" Scott asks, nervous on his behalf.

"Dude, only one who can cross the circle," he points out, and then he's stepping in, stabbing the silver into her chest with as much strength as he can muster. It's nowhere near what a werewolf can produce but it clearly works, the resulting shockwave powerful but silent, throwing them across the room. Stiles definitely has a whole new collection of bruises across his back as he groans on the floor, and then there's a bright light that quickly vanishes into nothingness.

"I," he says firmly, "am awesome." Because really, that was 100% the truth. In every possible way.

Scott's helping him up, then, and he's stumbling over to Derek. He's healing, that much is clear. But when they look closer, there's a...faint glow, all over his body.

Stiles sighs, already pulling out his phone. "You can see that, right?"

"It's almost pretty," Scott remarks and that's all the answer he needs.

Deaton picks up quickly. "Stiles."

"Short version," he immediately explains, "succubus go kaplooey. Derek trapped with it for a while. He's now glowing and won't wake up." Stiles wonders what his diary would sound like to other people if he ever decided to write one. He'd probably end up being committed.

"Did it feed from him?"

Stiles vividly remembers the blue glow transferring from Derek to the succubus. "Pretty damn sure, yeah."

"I was worried about this happening," Deaton remarks.

Well that was just great, giving this warning now. "You picked a fine time to say something."

"I did," Deaton insists. "I did tell you not the let the succubus feed on anyone. I automatically assumed you'd put yourselves under the same category. My mistake," he says snottily, making Stiles re-think his desire to be like Dr Deaton when he grows up, "I should've realised who I was dealing with."

That was just uncalled for. "Look, we can discuss my long, detailed, annotated list of failings later. Right now - what do we do to fix it?"

"It's still connected to him, likely because he's a supernatural being himself," Deaton finally tells him. "If it stays connected long enough, it could theoretically re-form its corporeal presence."

That sounds bad. Very bad. "So what do we need to do to stop that happening?" Stiles asks. "And save Derek?"

Deaton tells him.

Stiles is very tempted to asks if Deaton's just screwing with him now, because really, the universe thinks his life is a big, fat, joke. Right? Ha fucking ha. But no, Deaton continues on quite seriously, explaining that re-forming the circle around Derek will somehow make the connection weaker, and that as the succubus survives on a mix of lifeforce and sexual energy, two people who aren't the victim need to be on either side of the circle. Kissing.

Kissing.

That is the most ridiculous thing Stiles has ever heard.

Deaton still doesn't stop talking, going on about the potential sexual energy disrupting the rest of the already weak connection, destroying it completely. And this cannot be real. This is not some crappy fantasy B-movie, sexual energy disruption cannot actually be a thing.

But Derek is still laying disturbingly still on the floor, the glow getting brighter and brighter by the second. "Oh, for God's sake," Stiles mutters, ending the call and quickly re-forming the circle around him and Derek. Now, how to break the news to your best friend that you had to make out with them? Stiles was pretty sure that most teenagers were not having to deal with these choices. "So, here's the thing."

"What's wrong?" Scott asks genuinely, evidently not having eavesdropped on the conversation but confused by Stiles re-forming the circle the way he has.

"We have to make out," Stiles just blurts, because there was no nice way of saying it, "from either side of the circle. And the sooner the better, from how glowy he's looking." That level of brightness could not be a good thing.

Scott looks shocked, of course, but after a few moments just asks, "Did Dr Deaton say it'd help?"

And he's Scott. Of course Scott wouldn't be fazed about kissing another guy. Hell, he'd probably go down on the entire lacrosse team if it meant helping someone. "Yeah."

"Okay," Scott says, all accepting, like this kind of crap happens all the time. And actually, it kind of does. For them, this is kind of normal. "Always figured that if I kissed another guy some day, it'd be you anyway."

Okay, so maybe Scott isn't the worst friend in the entire world, and they need to get with the program because Derek is looking seriously glowy now. "I gotta warn ya," Stiles can't stop himself from saying as he leans in, "I picked up some mad skills from Jackson and Isaac."

"Just don't give me mono," Scott teases, and then their lips are brushing together.

It's naturally awkward, because Stiles has to lean out more than usual so Scott's face doesn't get too near the mountain ash. And overall it's a weird, weird experience. Scott has been his best friend for practically his entire life - since the day Stiles went running into school, yelling that the new kid outside was having an asthma attack - and for all that he acknowledges he has a thing for guys now, he's seriously not attracted to Scott at all. He hopes that won't have an affect on disrupting the sexual energy connection (Stiles is going to force himself never to think that stupid phrase again in his entire stupid life), and decides to just study the kiss objectively. Unsurprisingly, Scott knows what he's doing - God knows he got enough experience with Allison - and it's strangely comforting, somehow. Stiles leans into it, bracing his hands against Scott's shoulders, letting the pressure from the past few minutes slip from his body-

"What," a grumpy voice rasps, "are you doing?"

Immediately pulling away, Stiles raises his fists in the air. "Houston, we have touchdown!" Scott is laughing at him then, and Stiles is breaking the circle and kneeling down next to an extremely grumpy-looking and not-glowy-at-all Derek. "How're you feeling? Apart from the enormous claw marks in your chest." Derek just keeps glaring at him. "You need to work on that, you know? Man - or werewolf - cannot communicate through glares alone."

"I can try," Derek argues, holding out an arm. Stiles and Scott both pull him up and he stumbles around on his feet a bit, but his skin is gaining more colour with each passing second and he's almost fully healed.

Derek eyes them both carefully. "I'm assuming...the kissing...?"

"Was totally to save your ass," Stiles points out helpfully. "You're welcome, by the way. And even if it wasn't," he finds the need to add, "apparently I belong to you guys now anyway, or something equally stupid, so I might as well get my experience within the pack, right?" He can't help himself, winking at Derek deliberately. If Derek was a cartoon he'd totally have steam coming out of his ears right now.

Stiles never gets to hear what the response is as footsteps thunder up the stairs, Erica and Boyd rushing into the room.

"Problem solved?" Erica asks quickly, gaze falling to the naked guy on the bed.

"Yes," Derek nods, finally looking away from Stiles.

"Good, because we have another one."

"Hunters," Boyd says, "the new ones in town. They're here." Well, that explains what'd happened to the others - and in fact, maybe the succubus was the thing that'd brought them into town in the first place, and they weren't looking for werewolves at all. Unfortunately, if they'd heard Derek's howl, that was no longer a secret.

Derek brushes past him, heading for the stairs. "Jackson and Isaac?"

"Leading them away from the warehouse." Boyd follows straight after, the rest of them straggling behind. Jackson is always the best one for these jobs, because so far they'd found nothing that would hurt him - with the exception of wolfsbane. Stiles wasn't entirely sure why wolfsbane of all things affected him, simply assuming it had something to do with getting the bite from a werewolf. And Isaac knew how to stay out of trouble by now and was sneaky as hell to boot, so Stiles would be genuinely surprised if anyone actually caught him.

Derek is barking out orders as they flee from the house. "Erica, with me. Boyd, stay with Stiles and Scott. Do not go to the warehouse under any circumstances until you hear from me." He pauses, looking at all of them. "Stay out of trouble." That's Derek's macho, Alpha way of saying stay safe. Stiles came to recognise what it stood for a long time ago.

They all nod, starting to move away in their groups, when Stiles feels a hand around his wrist. Surprised, he jerks back around to see that it's Derek, hand clamped around his wrist, staring at him intently.

"Thank you," Derek says, and then he immediately lets go, turning and running in the opposite direction.

Stiles isn't sure what to make of that one and isn't given much of a chance to think it over as Boyd literally grabs his shoulders, telling him to get moving.

Stiles runs through the darkness, towards where he knows the jeep is.

But his mind is stuck outside the house, where Derek's hand is still wrapped about his wrist.

TBC

Chapter Text

It becomes a thing. A stupid, ridiculous, teenage-girl thing where he can't stop thinking about Derek's hand wrapped around his wrist.

It truly is ridiculous, because it's not like it's the only time Derek has touched him. Derek has a long history of grabbing and pushing him around places all the damn time (and Stiles can admit, at least to himself, that he doesn't mind this treatment one iota. Even though he knows he really should). It wasn't the first time Derek had grabbed him by the wrist, either - he'd even done it not that long ago, when they were in Jungle and Stiles had literally been dragged out of the club.

Maybe it was because of the situation? Stiles had just saved Derek's very fine ass, and they'd all been about to go on the run when Derek - Derek! - had actually taken the time to grab Stiles' wrist and make a point of thanking him. Thanking. Him. Derek was not known for his good manners - in fact, it'd long been generally decided that Derek had no manners at all (and by generally he meant specifically, and by decided he meant that poll he'd taken from the rest of the pack with secret ballot papers and I voted! stickers that they'd worn for the whole week. Derek had not been amused. It'd totally been worth all the trouble Stiles had gone to).

In conclusion, the whole wrist-grabbing incident had been strangely perplexing.

And with Derek staring into his eyes as he held Stiles' wrist, also strangely intimate.

It probably isn't a good idea to be thinking over these things too hard when the wrist-grabbing man in question is sitting three feet away from him, Stiles acknowledges this. But his attention isn't the greatest at the best of times - hence the Adderall. Stiles likes to think of himself as a savant, but Derek just likes to call him an idiot.

In actuality, he's supposed to be researching. Stiles is spread out on his front across the length of the sofa, with a map of the West Coast and various print-outs in front of him. He's testing a theory and though there's obviously a pattern already, he likes to have as much detail as possible before passing anything on to the pack. It wouldn't do for Stiles to look like he does shoddy workmanship, especially when he's still recovering from the Scott Escape Route Debacle of 2012.

Today is totally one of those days, however, when he just cannot stay focused - which might have something to do with the twenty Red Vines he ate earlier. His mind keeps going back to that night - and not just the wrist holding, thank you very much. The conversation with Scott (Derek might have heard him jerking off, seriously), Stiles totally kicking the succubus' droopy ass, having to make out with his best friend. Definitely a weird night, with a lot of weird goings-on. Especially the whole twisted way they'd had to take down the succubus and rescue Derek (it was worth mentioning again).

"Weird," he mutters to himself, shifting the map to draw a circle around another town.

"What's weird?" Derek's voice asks and Stiles jerks, having momentarily forgotten that Derek was even there.

He turns his head to glance at him and Derek's doing the same thing he's been doing since he sat down fifteen minutes ago - sitting on his usual chair three feet away from Stiles, reading a book. "It's not..." Stiles gestures to the paperwork in front of him, because that's probably what Derek's thinking. "I was just thinking about the other night when I heroically - and single-handedly, I might add - took down the succubus." Yeah, Stiles was still never getting over that. Derek had phoned and given them the all clear to return to the warehouse yesterday morning and now it was business as usual, trying to figure out what to do next.

Despite the thanks he gave him on the night, Derek now looks unimpressed at Stiles' remarks. "I fought it first," he says, in the same tone of voice someone else would say, "I loosened it for you." But then his lips quirk up and Stiles realises that Derek's making a joke. It still takes him by surprise, sometimes.

Grinning in return, Stiles continues explaining what he's finding so weird. "I can buy a one-time deal," he says, "like...one guy - or girl - accidentally stabs a vampire in the heart with a wooden stake and realises that's how you kill it. Or," Stiles offers, since it's a lot closer to home, "someone shoots a wolf with a silver bullet and-"

"You know that's not how it works," Derek interrupts.

"No, but you get the point I'm making." Stiles waits for a nod before continuing. "So...how do we know all these different ways of killing all these different creatures? I mean, the way to take down the succubus was ridiculously complicated. Trap it in the circle. Hypnotise it with it's own reflection. Stab it with silver. And according to Deaton, if you didn't take all of those steps - in that exact order - it wouldn't have worked. Like...how does someone even figure that stuff out? How does that even happen?" Stiles would really like to know, because it's just plain weird. And interesting.

"Most of those creatures have existed for many thousands of years," Derek reminds him, "and hunters have been around almost as long as they have. I'd imagine, as with all new discoveries, there was a lot of trial and error."

That makes Stiles smile again, initially, because trial and error in relation to killing monsters just sounds funny in his head. The smile fades, though, when he begins to realise how many people must have died each time before the hunters figured it out. And then it turns into a frown completely, when he realises he'd used hunter techniques to kill the succubus. He'd used information from the people who killed werewolves. The thought lodges uncomfortably in his mind and he wonders if it ever crosses Derek's. It must. They use information all the time that originally came from people who want Derek - and the rest of the pack - dead.

Derek has become something of a pragmatist, lately. He probably just sees it as a useful source of information.

Stiles will use it too, but that doesn't mean he has to like it.

Derek is looking at him like he's about to ask what's wrong and Stiles isn't about to bring the whole conversation down by getting mopey - Derek does that enough for both of them, most of the time - so he blurts out the first thing to come to mind. "And having to kiss Scott! That was just crazy." He smiles awkwardly.

And now Derek just looks grumpy, which wasn't at all what Stiles was going for when he'd hopped on the Blurting Express. "That had to be a...little weird. You two being so close."

"I know, right?" Stiles replies rhetorically. "It was like kissing my totally non-incestuous brother. At least I have plenty of experience now, right?" he jokes, because Derek is still looking grumpy and though he tries to deny it, he clearly appreciates Stiles' sense of humour. "And seeing as I won't be getting any experience anywhere else, that can only be a good thing." He gives Derek a knowing look, but no, Derek still doesn't seem to realise that this whole situation is hugely screwed up. Stiles decides to just roll with it for now. "Well, you're probably right. My kissing powers are so awesome, we don't want to spread them around too far - they'd ruin people for other kisses for life. Maybe I should start charging for the pleasure..." he fake-ponders.

Derek just keeps looking at him, taking the whole thing entirely too seriously. A fact proven when he quietly says, "I don't think you can put a price on something like that."

Stiles' eyes go wide. Derek's eyes - astoundingly - go wide as well, like he hadn't meant to say that at all. Stiles' brain - which is usually so good at seeing patterns, except for maybe when he's willfully been ignoring them - finally lets him face the inevitable. Derek's absurd over-protectiveness when it came just to the idea of Stiles getting any with someone else. The subsequent anger and growling afterward. The emotional overreaction that leaves Derek spouting out dumbass responses that were beneath him.

Stiles being the only one that Derek quietly comes and sits next to, when he wants some peace. Who willingly sits next to Stiles when they want some peace and quiet?

It's not a coincidence. It's a pattern.

Derek likes him. And Derek doesn't just like him for kissing, he likes him.

Stiles' brain doesn't know what to do with facing the reality of this information, so it panics.

So does his mouth. "Ha! I've seen enough gay porn to know that's not true!"

Stiles is pretty sure there are crickets chirping in the silence afterward. Actual. Crickets.

"Yeah!" he continues loudly, because oh my God, Derek likes him and he yelled about gay porn and Stiles cannot deal with this right now but he cannot shut up, either. "Kissing Scott was really weird, but mostly because it made no sense to me, you know? I mean, if I had to break the connection between the succubus and you I thought it would've made a lot more sense for me to kiss you." And he actually just said that. He actually did. His brain scrambles around frantically. "Or the succubus. But she had killer morning breath - probably actual killer morning breath in her case, so..."

Derek leaves like a ninja.

Literally, like a ninja. One moment he's there and the next he's just...gone, completely silently, with only the book resting on his chair the only proof that he was ever there.

Did that actually just happen?

*

Less than an hour later, Stiles calls the pack together and shows them what he's found. He doesn't tell them that he's found that trying to avoid the fact that the guy you've been into forever likes you back and you don't know what the hell to do about it, is way better at focusing his attention than any ADHD meds (he also doesn't tell them about the panicked, five-minute phone call to Delores, where she congratulated him on finally facing the truth of his Derek situation - and then called him an idiot for taking so damn long. It had not been in the least bit comforting).

Instead he tells them about the string of 'wild animal attack' deaths dotted along the West Coast - clearly the work of the succubus, each of the victims being male and similarly mauled like the victims in town. The deaths weren't in anything so obvious as a straight line, but they'd clearly been heading in Beacon Hills' direction, which made it even more likely that the succubus was the thing that had brought the hunters to town in the first place.

"They'd have their own sources," Boyd concludes. "And they'd figure out what'd happened in that guy's house. By now, they have to know the succubus is dealt with. But they haven't left town. So either they want to know who did stop the succubus, or they heard Derek's howl."

"Or both," Erica suggests.

Something was definitely keeping them in town, that was for damn sure.

"Isaac, Jackson," Derek says, "are you absolutely sure they didn't catch a glimpse of you that night?"

Jackson snorts. "I think I know what I'm doing by now."

"He's right," Isaac says instead. "Not about never making mistakes," he casts a judgemental eye in Jackson's direction, "but we did a good job. We created a lot of...convenient distractions, but they never actually saw us."

Derek nods as he takes the information in. "So they still don't know about us specifically - what we look like, or even have any actual proof that there are werewolves in the area."

That just doesn't sit right with Stiles' brain. "I don't know. I think we're kidding ourselves if we don't think that hunters don't talk to other hunters. How do we know they haven't been in contact with the Argents?" He hates bringing up that family name because it always makes Scott frown and look sad, the way he was right now. But they can't avoid facing the possibility.

Derek finally looks at Stiles for the first time since the meeting started. "It's unlikely. Hunter families tend to stay together - but isolated. There's a lot of...politics between different hunter groups, some of it going back hundreds of years. Arguments over territory. If this is a rogue group instead of a family - and it seems like they are - they're even less likely to call up the Argents for a meet-and-greet to ask permission to hunt on their territory. Or ask if there are any known supernatural beings on their territory already."

People were so dumb sometimes. "They'd just try and sneak in and out?"

"Pretty much."

"But that's so...counter-productive," Stiles says because seriously, the opportunities. "They'd get so much more done if they all worked together."

"Well, luckily for us, they don't," Derek points out. "When you spend your whole life killing, you learn not to trust anyone. Not even your own kind." With that disturbing message left ringing in everyone's head, Derek moves on. "We need more information," he announces, "but we can't risk going back to their warehouse again." Yeah, after that little mishap, security would definitely have been tightened. "Andre at the club did mention that one of the hunters has an addiction to flavoured coffee. And as there's only one decent coffee place in town," that was totally true, and everyone knew it, "we need someone who won't stand out, and won't be perceived as a threat."

Oh yeah, this one is totally obvious. Especially as Derek looks significantly from Stiles to Erica. Grinning, Erica runs over to him, punching him on the shoulder.

"This is going to be so much fun!"

Stiles can already feel the new bruise developing, but kind of suspects she's right.

*

If there's one thing Erica loves best of all, it's being underestimated - probably because that was how she'd been treated her entire life, prior to becoming a werewolf.

The next day, she goes the whole hog. She doesn't straighten her hair, instead pulling it back into a messy ponytail. She leaves her face free of make-up, and emerges from behind the small storage area in the warehouse wearing her baggiest clothes. "How do I look?" she asks, turning and striking a pose.

"Like you always do," Stiles smiles despite himself. "Beautiful." He does genuinely think she's kind of evil, sometimes, but she's also entertaining and a lot of fun (when she's not being evil to him). She's not afraid to do what she wants, when she wants, and it's a trait Stiles often finds himself admiring. Even envying.

"Oh, Stiles," she says, all fake-emotion as she slinks over to him, "you're doing so much better with girls lately. What a shame it didn't happen until after you realised you liked guys."

Holding her elbow out expectantly, Stiles realises he's supposed to take it. He does, guiding her towards the far end of the warehouse where the others are waiting. "Well, it's not like I don't like girls at all anymore." He's definitely an open-minded guy.

"True," she concedes, "but your type these days is less strawberry-blonde perfection and more tall, broody and handsome. And I'm not talking about Boyd."

This is the reason she's evil. She delights in getting anyone and everyone tongue-tied, twisted up in their own lies that they keep telling themselves. Stiles is beginning to suspect that Derek has recognised this and that's why he doesn't spend a lot of one-on-one time with Erica.

His brain immediately tries to defend itself. "I-that is-you..." He forces it to stop, taking a moment. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Of course you do," she argues, making his mood sink, "and there's no reason to be embarrassed. Especially with the way things have changed since yesterday."

The way what had changed since yesterday? "What's changed?"

He doesn't get an answer, because she's immediately shushing him. "He's listening," she says in a low tone, and Stiles glances across the warehouse to see that Derek's head has turned, the left side of his face angled towards them. "So," she continues at a normal tone, "this is the plan."

Wait. "We already have a plan."

"I decided it needed more flavour," she explains and well, she's Erica. Of course she did. "I'm going to be the dowdy, largely ignored girl that's had a crush on you for years." Apart from the whole girl thing, that was a worryingly accurate description of his life. He and Erica have more in common than he may have realised. Also: this seems to be cutting a little too sharply, a little too bitterly close to home. Stiles can never tell if she's being truthful or making fun of him when she pulls this kind of crap. Which is no doubt the intention.

"And me?" He's kind of scared to ask, but also kind of wants to know. All right, totally wants to know.

"You?" she asks. "You're the formerly emotionally unavailable guy who's just started to open up when you've realised that I've been right under your nose all along." They've been walking the whole time they've been talking, and at this point they're a few feet from the rest of the pack. Pausing, she blinks at Derek innocently. Who's glaring.

And this time, it isn't at Stiles.

"Ready whenever you are," Erica says cheerfully, and now Stiles knows it's going to be fun.

That is until they actually get to the coffee shop, at which point it becomes clear that Erica's cover story involves them making out the entire time they're there.

"Um," he says, dodging her mouth, "is that strictly necessary?"

Sitting back, doing a good job of looking offended (although Stiles suspects she actually isn't), Erica folds her arms across her chest. "Come on, it's like a rite of passage by this point," she encourages, like no one can be an official member of the pack until they've played tonsil hockey with him. If that was the case now, they really needed to draw up some new pages for the membership charter. "In any case, you know you've got to get through me and Boyd before you get to Derek. So, why not start now?"

Stiles stares at her because seriously, the things she comes out with. "It's not like it's been...intentional. The first one wasn't even my choice! And the others were life and death situations! And yes, I know how weird it sounds that I've saved lives just through the power of guy-on-guy kissing, but apparently this is my life now." He nods firmly, before realising he can take this opportunity to try and get the answer she avoided earlier. "What did you mean earlier, anyway? About how things had changed since yesterday."

Erica glances towards the window, where they both know the others are hiding out of sight on the other side of the street. Picking up her coffee, she calmly brings it up to her mouth for a sip. "Oh, just that there's something in the air..."

"If you say love, you're gonna be wearing that drink two seconds later."

Her lips quirk into a smirk that says she'd love to see him try, but they both knew it was an empty threat anyway. "No, it's literally something in the air." He stares at her blankly. Erica explains - which is good, because otherwise he'd be stuck still staring at her blankly. "The way you smell when you're around him. And he's around you," she adds. "It's changed."

That was interesting information that told him nowhere near enough. "Changed...how?"

Putting her drink down on the table, Erica rolls her eyes. "God, isn't is obvious by now? He knows you like him. You know he likes you. And the two of you are too emotionally stunted to do anything about it. Honestly," she mutters, "for an Alpha he's so frequently disappointing."

Stiles can't argue with any of it, because this was what he realised yesterday himself. He can't argue about the crappy Alpha thing either, although he will say that it's not so much an issue now and hasn't been for a while. Most of Derek's mistakes are long behind him.

So. He likes Derek. Derek likes him. It's obvious enough that the rest of the pack all know about it.

This is not in any way awkward.

"Look," he finds himself saying, trying to be responsible, "yes, I'm attracted to him." And boy, does that feel weird to say out loud. "But even if I did want to see if it could go anywhere," and he does, he really, really, really does, he cannot emphasise this enough, "we're currently trying to track hunters so they don't - you know - kill us. This is so not the time."

"Well, I've been tracking one of those hunters for a few minutes now," she says smoothly, and it takes every ounce of control Stiles has not to whip around in his seat and check for himself. "He came in a few minutes ago, and I've been listening to everything he's been saying."

Man, after all this time, being a werewolf was still so impressive, sometimes. "Anything interesting?"

"Unless you're interested in how he takes his coffee, no." Leaning forward, she grins at him. "The point I'm trying to make is this." Reaching out a hand, she deliberately rubs it up and down his forearm. "The entire time I was talking and paying attention to you, I was also paying attention to everything he was doing. The smells I got from him when he passed the table. His accent. The choice of milk and sugar that he put into his coffee. How many times he stirred his drink. The noise he makes when he sips at it. Werewolves are extremely good at multi-tasking," she says and Stiles doesn't know why this feels like a seduction on Derek's behalf, but it does, "just imagine what it'll be like with Derek, when all of that potential and attention is focused solely on you."

...yeah. By now, her lips are mere millimetres from his. "Is this what Jackson meant? About me being yours? All of yours?" He was finally beginning to realise that maybe his place in the pack was something else entirely - and they just had a really, really weird way of showing it.

Werewolves.

"We want this for you as much as you do," Erica says, and for once she sounds completely honest. "We're a pack. We'll all be stronger - happier. You were just too dumb to realise it." And yeah, she's definitely being honest.

Stiles' gaze slides towards the window, to where he's sure they're all watching. "I'm not going to make out with you just to make him jealous. I won't play that kind of game."

Erica considers this. "I can respect that. How about making out with me just to screw with his head?"

That he could do. He never claimed to be perfect, and screwing with Derek's head was one of his favourite past times.

A smile tugs at his lips. "I'm wondering what it says about my life that, out of the whole pack, I'm the one getting the most action."

"That you're very, very lucky," she says, and then kisses him.

So, they make out in the coffee shop. And when the hunter leaves, they follow him, making out on a bench. It doesn't draw much attention - and does end up being useful. It turns out that making out in a well-populated area makes you almost invisible, because everyone seems to be terrified of looking at you. Stiles hadn't realised that so many people were deny deny deny and repress repress repress.

Erica is a good kisser, of course - Stiles is beginning to think they were all given special kissing lessons somewhere, maybe there's a Kissing 101 class at school that he doesn't know about because really, is it normal for everyone you know to be this good at kissing? They don't say much, because even if werewolves are good at multi-tasking (the images that creates in his mind, the images), she does have to pay attention to everything the hunter's doing and Stiles doesn't want to risk ruining that opportunity.

Finally, eventually - and wow, his mouth was feeling really well-used in a way he's never experienced before - Erica pulls away from him. "He's gone." She arches her eyebrows.

Stiles relaxes back against the bench, a little breathless. "Any good intel?"

"Oh, yes," she remarks slyly, glancing down towards his lap where there's been absolutely no activity whatsoever.

He can't even find it in himself to get embarrassed right now. Making out in public tended to do that. "Nothing personal," he offers instead. "But you're my pack-mates. I don't think any of you can get my engine running." This was a theory he'd been quietly formulating since this whole kissing business had started. At this point, they were more like family than anything else. Even Jackson. "You were technically very good. Ten out of ten."

Erica's bruised mouth produces a smirk. "Good thing Derek's the Alpha and not a-"

And then a shadow's looming over them. Stiles knows exactly who it is and is, admittedly, feeling a lot more confident right now than he probably should. "Hi!" he greets. "Erica has intel." Her gaze drops to his lap again and he chuckles at her. "Not that."

Derek, clearly having regressed to an earlier form of evolution, just grunts, reaching out to snag Stiles' wrist again, pulling him up off the bench. Stumbling, Stiles has to brace himself with his free hand against Derek's extremely firm chest, taking in the glower that he's finally realising has been hiding something else all along (deny deny deny, repress repress repress). And maybe they can actually do this.

Stiles is certainly not the Jane - or more accurately, John - to anyone's Tarzan however, and yanks his wrist out of Derek's hold, calmly striding along the sidewalk to where the rest of the pack are waiting.

And once again, he can still feel the pressure of Derek's hand being wrapped around his wrist.

And maybe it is a stupid, ridiculous, teenage-girl thing. But most of the teenage girls he knows are terrifying and can kick way more butt than Stiles can, so he's beginning to acknowledge that this isn't a bad thing.

TBC

Chapter Text

Out of all the pack, Boyd is the one that Stiles feels like he doesn't really have any kind of relationship with.

Sure, there's the mutual 'I'll save your ass and you'll save mine' thing that they've all got going on, as well as the general fact that they're all there for each other whenever they need something.

For someone who wanted friends so badly, Boyd is the surprisingly strong and silent type. At their meetings he's always very professional, only speaking when he has something worth saying - which is usually quite often. Boyd is pretty good at putting his brain into action; certainly the best out of the werewolves.

He also has an obvious, deeply abiding loyalty to Derek. Stiles has never quite worked out if it's simply because Derek's the Alpha, or because Derek noticed Boyd in a way that nobody ever had before.

Regardless, Stiles knows that he can trust Boyd with anything.

But honestly, he just wishes the guy would talk to him some more. Stiles has tried - many, many times in many different ways - to get Boyd involved, to get his attention, to make him do something. And where even Derek can't help but react (like he's incapable of not-reacting to Stiles' very presence, and the signs were there all along and he was very much blaming this on the overwhelming brain destroying properties of Derek's hotness), Boyd always appears completely unaffected - maybe even unimpressed - by Stiles' particularly awesome style of humour.

It's not like Boyd doesn't have a sense of humour, either. For all that he's Mr Professional in meetings, Stiles has heard him crack an occasional - if admittedly dry - joke. He's even seen him smiling and outright laughing, sometimes, although that's only ever when he's talking one on one with Isaac, Erica and even Scott.

And yeah, that'd been a little weird at first. Adjusting into the pack had taken a while, especially as he'd been so used to being the only one there for Scott - and vice versa, before Allison came along. The situation had been made even weirder by the sudden bromance that'd blossomed between Scott and Boyd, something that'd made no sense to Stiles whatsoever at the time. He'd often found the two of them locked in quiet, intense conversation together and Stiles was man enough to admit he'd been more than a little jealous.

Erica had noticed of course, because Erica noticed everything, and one day she'd joked that Boyd was just looking out for the runt of the litter. Derek had inevitably gone Alpha on her ass for suggesting that any one of them was somehow less than the rest and though Stiles enjoyed that moment immensely, he still couldn't make sense of the Scott and Boyd dynamic.

And then he'd met Delores.

It'd taken a few weeks - and a few phone calls to Delores - before Stiles had put it all together. For all that Delores was a drag queen and Boyd was a werewolf (and between them they'd make one truly awesome werewolf drag queen), for whatever reason they'd seen something in Stiles and Scott that they wanted to encourage and nurture. Stiles quietly thought that Boyd would make an amazing Alpha, and it seemed pretty obvious to him that Derek was equally quietly lining him up for the job should the worst ever happen.

Stiles doesn't like thinking about that, doesn't like thinking about that at all, but their lives are what they are and on his more morose days, Stiles can at least acknowledge that they'd probably be in good hands with Boyd.

Wow. That thought process had totally gotten away from him and also gotten really depressing, really fast. Glancing across at Boyd - the reason for all this Boyd-related introspection in the first place - Stiles sighs.

Erica's kiss-disguised auditory investigation had proven that while the hunters knew the succubus was dead, they also knew that something else was going on in Beacon Hills. They were good enough to know that they'd been sent on a wild goose chase in the warehouse district, that something had been deliberately causing problems for them the night the succubus had been killed. This probably had something to do with the fact that, even now, most of the pack were about as subtle as a really pissy bull in a china shop.

Miraculously it seemed they hadn't heard Derek's howl at all as, according to Erica, they hadn't even mentioned it in passing. Unfortunately - because this was them and there was always an unfortunately - it seemed they'd dug a little deeper into Beacon Hills' past, and had unearthed the bizarre set of 'wild animal attacks' that'd started 18 months ago.

Their curiousity was officially piqued.

And for the pack, at least, there was nothing to do at the moment. It was nighttime, and the hunter's plan was to go into the woods and see if they could flush anything out. This didn't seem like a particularly good plan to Stiles, but tonight at least it worked well for the pack, who could stay holed up in the warehouse or their respective homes. Long term it was another issue, because they were all getting the impression that although they were rogue hunters, they were stubborn and wouldn't leave Beacon Hills until they found something.

Tonight, however, there isn't anything for the pack to do other than go to the forest to confront the hunters head on, and these days none of them are that stupid. All they can do is wait.

Stiles isn't a fan of waiting. His gaze slides across to Boyd again, sitting at the opposite end of the sofa. Right now the others are running through some drills but Boyd seems deeply invested in folding paper. Origami is his thing for whatever reason, and Stiles had realised some time ago that the funky ashtray Boyd had brought in had probably been made by Boyd himself.

His hands and fingers move in neat, precise movements - and of course that makes Stiles think of fingers doing other things, and all the kissing he's been doing lately, and the way Derek looks so distractingly good in a sweaty grey wifebeater.

Stiles knows he needs to get his mind off this subject, ASAP - surrounded by sneaky werewolves with their sneaky arousal detecting noses, thanks a lot for that piece of information, Scott - and tries for the umpteenth time to impress Boyd. It wouldn't bother him so much, but even Jackson laughs at Stiles' jokes.

Okay, so it's usually more at him than with him, but that's still more than he gets from Boyd.

"So," he says casually, fiddling with his phone and pretending that he's not putting it on silent so he can take a picture of the way Derek's ass looks in those jeans. "We know origami's your thing - and your very awesome thing at that," because Stiles is in no way an expert, but he's always impressed by whatever Boyd produces when he goes on one of these origami binges. "But why origami at all?" Maybe he needs to try and connect with Boyd on a personal level and not on an 'Hi, I'm so awesome!' level.

It doesn't go well. In fact, Boyd doesn't look at him at all, concentrating on his folding. He does, however, produce a matter-of-fact, "I'm not kissing you."

And. Well. Rude! Stiles tries not to look offended, knowing he's failing at the attempt miserably. "It wasn't even crossing my mind-"

Boyd finally does look at him, and he doesn't even stop folding paper to do it.

"Okay, fine!" Stiles admits. "But if you'd been living in a severe drought area your entire life and were suddenly under seige from a kiss deluge over the space of just a few days, you wouldn't be able to stop yourself thinking about it either." He glances across at the others, who fortunately seem too involved in their training to have overheard anything. "And it's not like they were on purpose," he adds, because it's the truth, and there's no reason for Stiles to feel embarrassed and/or guilty about any of them.

"Even the kiss with Erica?"

Okay, except maybe that one.

Boyd speaks again, his own gaze sliding towards Derek. "That wasn't very nice, you know. At this point, you have to know how he feels about you."

And wow, Stiles never saw relationship advice from Boyd coming. Suddenly feeling very, very young and very, very inexperienced despite all the kissing lately, Stiles shifts awkwardly on the sofa. "It wasn't..." Geez, Boyd did a really good Dad impression. "It wasn't to hurt him or anything. Not deliberately. But then..." he shrugs. He's been doing a lot of thinking since walking away from Derek outside the coffee shop. And while he's been doing a lot of thinking, Derek has been doing a lot of avoiding. "They have all been about him in the first place, though." Stiles pauses. "Right? I think." Man, this was confusing. "That whole...'you're ours' business. Is that because I'm..?" He doesn't need to say it, eyes going back to Derek, the silence finishing the sentence for him. Is it because I'm Derek's?

It should feel proprietary. Insulting. Wrong. And Stiles has been trying to tell himself that it does.

He's really not convincing himself anymore.

"I know what the rest of us think," Boyd says mysteriously and why do so many people Stiles know just hate giving straight answers?

Ha. Straight.

"But what really matters," Boyd continues maddeningly, "is what you think."

What Stiles thinks? Stiles has been trying not to think, for a while now, that Derek is his as much as he is Derek's. And he's kind of terrified about what that means when he is so young and he is so inexperienced. Because as much as he's starting to realise that they might be able to make it work, this won't be a simple first-time fling. He's Stiles, and he can never do anything half-way. And Derek doesn't do relationships - any kind of relationship - lightly. With good reason.

It's a lot to commit himself to.

And it's finding that bravery to make the first move.

"This would be a lot easier if he'd just kiss me," Stiles grouches, "or if he'd tell me to kiss him. He is the Alpha." He tries not to say it out loud, but sometimes he wouldn't mind so much if Derek was the boss of him when it came to this stuff. Annoyingly, his brain can never decides what it wants when it comes to Derek. Half the time he wants Derek to make an obvious caveman-style move so at least he doesn't have to think about this crap anymore and just get down to the business of being together. The rest of the time, he wants Derek to keep giving him the space he needs to work through said crap.

No one told him this relationship stuff would create so many conflicting feelings. It kind of sucks.

For the first time, however, he's actually prompted a smile to appear on Boyd's face. Okay, so it's more a slight upward curving of the lips, but it's definitely the most he's ever gotten out of him before.

"What?" Stiles asks, because he's Stiles and he has to know what's caused that reaction.

"That's the exact reason he won't," Boyd says simply, knowingly, and before Stiles has time to process what that means...

Well. Everything goes to hell.

He'll never quite accurately reconstruct the exact orders of events, but there's gunfire and breaking windows and bodies hitting the ground. There's Derek's voice yelling at him to get out, and there's no way in hell Stiles is about to leave but he does dive behind the sofa.

Because, yes, that's absolutely going to protect him from bullets. Stiles honestly has no idea how he's survived this long.

He hears a lot of grunting and groans of pain and all he can think is that they were wrong, they were wrong, the hunters recognised them at the coffee house and played them, or maybe it was all from the start, maybe flavoured-coffee guy was a set-up. He's not sure how many hunters there are - three he thinks, maybe four - and he can hear one of them laughing, gloating and all Stiles can do is lay there frozen on the ground, staring at a perfectly folded swan where it'd fluttered to the floor after Boyd launched himself across the warehouse.

No.

His hands are shaking but he doesn't have time to be worried, to be afraid for himself. It's his family.

It's his pack.

Hands forming into fists, Stiles finds the bravery to do what needs to be done.

He knows they're already coming for him.

"Human!" he calls out, raising his arms up above his head, knowing there's no guarantee that's going to stop any of the hunters from shooting him. "Definitely a human coming out from behind the sofa," he continues, "and will absolutely not heal quickly if you shoot him. Also not trained in the art of werewolf kung-fu, so really not much of a threat." It's the best he can offer in the short time he has, and by the time he emerges fully he's proven right in thinking that they were coming for him. The barrel of a gun is staring him straight in the face.

"Human?" The hunter asks, disbelieving, face nothing but hard edges. Stiles takes the opportunity to quickly take in the rest of the warehouse. The hunters - four of them now, he knows - may not have been from a hunting family, they may have been rogue, but they're good. Stiles is literally the last man standing, everyone else taken down by a bullet. Normally that'd only slow them down but from the glimpses of dark veins he gets, he knows there's wolfsbane involved. This doesn't stop any of his idiot pack-mates, of course. They're weakened but still trying to get up - and each time, they get shoved back down or receive a punch to the side of the head. The pack may outnumber the hunters nearly 2-to-1, but in their weakened state they're sadly no match for them.

Stiles swallows back his anger, focusing on the hunter speaking to him. "100%. Feel free to check in any way you like that doesn't involve cutting me in half."

The hunter glances at his own gun. "Could always shoot you with a wolfsbane bullet."

Stiles stares; reconsiders his previous offer. "Feel free to check in any way you like that doesn't involve cutting me in half or shooting me."

The hunter - thank God, thank God - must have scruples about not shooting humans on sight, as he produces a small container of purple powder - ground wolfsbane, Stiles recognises - and holds it out. Realising what he's meant to do, Stiles lowers his hands and takes it - extremely cautiously, well aware of the gun still in his face - unscrewing the lid and pouring a considerable amount of the contents into his mouth. The taste is more than unpleasant - it's too fragrant, too overwhelming - and he knows he makes a face of disgust but he forces it down, dry. Opening his mouth to prove that it's gone, he carefully passes the container back to the hunter. Seeing there's no sudden sign of weakness, the hunter doesn't lower the gun, but the line of his shoulders relaxes as he takes the container back.

"What's a human doing here?" he asks curiously, pocketing the container. "You another sicko who wants the bite?"

"Really not interested in being a werewolf," Stiles says honestly. "The strength and speed stuff is pretty cool, but could totally do without the hearing and smelling. You can know too much about people, you know?" He's trying to keep himself calm; act like everything's normal. Normal means talking. A lot.

"Family?" the hunter tries instead, gesturing behind him with his head. "You related to any of those things and had the good fortune to miss out on the werewolf gene?"

His jaw tightens. "No. I'm here because I want to be." Probably not the smartest thing to say in front of a group of hunters, but he figures it'll keep them talking.

"Don't listen to him," Derek gasps from the floor twenty feet away. "Made him think he...wanted to be here."

Stiles can't help himself. "With what, your super special werewolf brainwashing abilities? Don't be a moron." That response obviously gives too much away, as the hunter now looks at him with renewed interest. Gun still held firmly in place, the hunter - Stiles cannot bring himself to keep thinking of him as 'the hunter' anymore, so decides to call him Bob instead - steps around the end of the sofa, grabbing Stiles' arm, forcing him to move with him. Stiles knows better than to resist at the moment, stumbling along next to him.

He still can't keep his mouth shut. "The manhandling is hot and all, but there's really only one guy in my life that I let get away with it, you know?"

Bob - clearly having far more control that Derek, which is really disturbing - says nothing in response. They come to a stop by Derek, another hunter who's already keeping an eye on his twitching body moving away to give them room.

"He's the Alpha," Bob says certainly. Stiles finally keeps his mouth shut, which only prompts Bob to aim his gun at Derek instead of Stiles. "Isn't he?"

"Stiles," Derek hisses, looking pale and concerned.

Gritting his teeth, Stiles tries to ignore the bullet hole in Derek's left thigh, the blood pooling underneath. "Yes."

"Which means I also know the reason you're here," Bob says, swinging the gun back to him. He smirks, like it's something dirty. "Gay werewolves. Now I've heard everything."

"I've seen a porno about that," one of the other hunters calls out, and the two of them share a dark laugh.

Stiles wants to stab him in the eye with something really, really painful. "We don't hurt anyone," he grinds out instead. "He doesn't hurt anyone. We help people. You know about the succubus."

Bob pauses, tipping his head to one side. "That was your...pack?" The last word comes out dripping with disapproval.

"That one was me specifically, actually, but - yeah. That's pretty much what we do." If he is going to die, he wants to go out on a high of knowing he took down a succubus all on his lonesome.

"You?"

And that just rubs him the wrong way. He knows what he looks like; the things he says. But he's capable in certain areas. "Me. I trapped her in the circle. I hypnotised her with the mirror. And I stabbed her in the chest with the silver stake." It's possible his bravado is getting the better of him, and he tries to dial it back. "Look, you followed it down the coast, right? You know we're not responsible for either of the deaths."

"Lately," Bob concedes. "The deaths 18 months ago?"

"That was a psychopathic werewolf that we killed." Derek may have dealt the killing blow, but as far as Stiles was concerned it'd been a group effort. "Trust me, we did everyone a big favour."

"And a year ago?"

"Killer lizard," Stiles retorts, very carefully not looking anywhere in Jackson's direction. That was - understandably - still a very touchy issue. "Which, yes, sounds ridiculous - but honestly, what about our lives doesn't? You must have seen just as much crazy shit as we have. We took care of that as well, by the way," he added, "just in case you need to know." Bob is still just staring at him, considering, so Stiles tries another tack. "Look, Bob-"

"My name is Frank," Bob...Frank says, looking at Stiles like he's lost his mind.

"Frank," Stiles corrects, "there's been no grisly deaths in a year until the succubus came along. That's because we killed the things doing the killing. We're a pack - there are no omegas. There's no reason for us to kill anybody."

Frank snorts. "And I'm just supposed to take your word for it?"

"Yes," he says flatly. "Or, you could not believe me," he suggests, "let them all die. Kill me. And not only will you have that on your conscience for the rest of your life, but my dad - who used to be the sheriff of this town, and still has a lot of friends in high places - won't stop until he finds you. All of you. And ends you."

Frank cricks his neck. Tightens the grip on his gun.

"I don't know, Frank," another hunter says as he stands over Isaac, one of the ones who hasn't spoken at all so far. "I was all for it when it was just werewolves, but a human? And a kid, at that. I know you wanted to stay under the radar, but I've been saying all along that we should call Deaton, why don't-?"

It's the eureka moment. "Yes!" Stiles enthuses, because it's their ticket out of this and they might actually make it out alive. He's well aware of how still Scott is in the distance. "Call Deaton! Absolutely call Deaton! Oh my God, I can't believe I didn't think of calling Deaton when we knew you were in town, but he doesn't really talk about hunters much-"

"You know Deaton?" Frank asks carefully.

"Frustratingly, yes. Unless he's feeling particularly unimpressed with me today, he'll back me up on everything I've told you." He grins because finally, he has reason. "Go on! Call him."

Frank squints at him. "Casey. Make the call."

It would be a bit of a letdown after all that, if Stiles wasn't so damn relieved - and at this point, he isn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Or werewolf. Whatever. His brain is kind of everywhere at the moment.

In less than two minutes, Frank and his men are slowly edging their way back out of the building, guns still out in paranoia. They did shoot six-sevenths of a pack.

"So," Frank quips as he gets closer to the exit, and it turns out he has a sense of humour, "no hard feelings?"

"Leave now," Derek grunts, even more disturbingly pale as he awkwardly sits up, "and we won't rip your throats out."

And they're gone.

Stiles' feet are immediately carrying him across the hard warehouse floor, reaching the storage area where he yanks open the locker he needs. Stiles' has been preparing for something like this for a long time, and is immediately flying back towards Derek.

Who waves him off. "No," he heaves in pain, falling to one side. "The others first."

Glaring at the idiot he's kind of fallen for, Stiles heads for the next closest. "You have a brain the size of a walnut," he tells Derek, kneeling down next to Boyd. "Hey," he says in friendly greeting, immediately changing tacks, "I'm just gonna warn ya - this is gonna hurt like hell." No point in lying about it.

Boyd writhes on the floor next to him, a bullet hole in his right shoulder. "Can't be any worse than I feel right now," he gasps.

"Woooouldn't he so sure about that," Stiles retorts as he prepares a pile of powdered wolfsbane.

Boyd breathes next to him heavily, and Stiles is absolutely not expecting what happens next. "You want to know why origami?"

"Uh." He pauses, the lighter held over the wolfsbane. Was it really important that this discussion had to happen at this particular moment in time? "Sure. Why not? This is absolutely the best time to tell me and not at all inconvenient. It's not like I'm concentrating on saving your life or anything."

Grimacing, Boyd pants through an explanation. "When no one wants anything to do with you, you have a lot of free time on your hands."

Okay. That sucks, but makes sense. Flicking the lighter, Stiles watches the wolfsbane flare up. "Maybe you could teach me sometime."

"Maybe," Boyd says quietly and then suddenly there's a weak hand reaching out, fisting into Stiles' shirt and tugging him down until their lips are pressing together.

It's brief because hey, Stiles is surprised, and he's also aware that he's recently had wolfsbane in his mouth, whether Boyd remembers that or not. Pulling away, he frowns at the man in question, who collapses back down on the floor. "Okay." He's not sure what to say. "Thanks?"

"You earned it," Boyd says through his exhaustion, another might-be-a-smile-in-five-minutes movement pulling at his lips. "Might as well collect the whole set."

Stiles can't help but smile - and then he can't help but smile even harder when he hears another voice.

"I am right. Here." Derek complains behind them, because apparently there are no longer any secrets worth keeping in the face of that kind of evening. "Right here dying and you're kissing?"

"My bad," Boyd says as dryly as he can, not sounding like it's his bad at all - and then Stiles is pressing the burnt wolfsbane inside and there's a lot more screaming.

If he notices Derek smiling faintly afterward, Stiles never says anything about it.

TBC

Chapter Text

It's the morning after the unbelievable night before.

Stirring on the sofa, Stiles yawns, stretching, feeling the weight of a blanket over his body that wasn't there when he'd conked out on the sofa however many hours earlier. He'd refused to leave last night, instead sending his dad a text about spending the night at Scott's. After - once again - saving everyone's asses, Stiles had enjoyed the distinct pleasure of doing what he could to clear up six different blood stains, while the rest of them slept it off in their make-shift bedroom area (basically a bunch of mattresses next to the storage area). It'd been a hugely disturbing experience and Stiles had been incredibly grateful afterward to rinse out his mouth as much as possible, to get rid of the horrible, horrible wolfsbane taste still in his mouth, and pass out on the sofa.

Stiles knows without even looking that Derek is there, and is proven right moments later when he prises his eyelids open against the weight of sleep still trying to hold them down. Derek looks...good. Really good. He's changed out of his blood-stained jeans into a new pair, and to look at him now you'd have no idea he'd been bleeding out on the floor the night before. Stiles finally allows himself the luxury, then, to feel some of the panic he hadn't been able to let himself deal with last night. How terrified he'd been for all of them but (secretly, guiltily) especially Derek, staring up at him in agony on the floor, the expression on his face only ever saying, You're an idiot. What are you still doing here? Go!

He lets himself feel it for a few moments, but then lets it pass. They're safe, now. He's warm, sleepy and comfortable on the sofa, and Derek's not looking at him, casually reading his book like he's not even aware that Stiles is looking at him - which Stiles knows that he totally is, the creeping creeper.

Stiles knows there are things he should probably do. Do something about the broken windows - board them up, maybe, although if the hunters were going to come back they would've come back already. Call Deaton and ream him out on principle, whether he was aware that he knew the hunters in town or not. Discover if his latest lame-ass excuse for staying out all night has passed muster with dad. Or maybe find somewhere to gargle some mouthwash or something because seriously, the stuff he wants to do to Derek right now will probably be better with fresh breath.

He does none of it.

His point is proven about Derek being a creeper when he speaks quietly and Derek doesn't jump out of his skin. "How're the others?"

"Good. Fine," Derek says, finally deigning to look at Stiles on the sofa, closing his book as he does so. "Still resting."

Lifting his head and angling it in the right direction, Stiles confirms for himself that they're all there - and smiles a little, when he sees Isaac and Erica holding each other on the same mattress. Slumping back down, he focuses back on Derek who's still looking at him.

They study each other in silence.

After last night, it feels kind of stupid not to do something just because he's scared. Stiles grabs the bull by the horns - or the werewolf by the teeth, which might be a more appropriate metaphor. He's feeling strangely calm about the whole thing.

"You're never going to make a move, are you?"

Derek shakes his head, maybe a little sadly. "No."

Stiles isn't worried, because there's an obvious solution. He blinks slowly, sleepily, his brain still fuzzy as he tries to figure it all out. "Boyd said it's because you're the Alpha. Is it because, technically, you are the boss of me?" He can't help but smile a little at the memory, and even Derek quirks his lips.

"It wouldn't be...appropriate," Derek answers awkwardly, clearly finding it difficult to talk about it this much, but Stiles is seriously impressed by just how much he's verbalising. "I can't assume that..." He pauses, one side of his face twitching, before trying again. "An Alpha could have anyone they wanted." His tone of voice is dark, full of meaning.

Stiles hadn't ever considered the power dynamics of an Alpha having a relationship with someone inside the pack. When he does, Derek's concerns start to make sense. Given that, technically, the Alpha is in charge - despite how often Stiles would enthusiastically argue this fact - they can theoretically take anyone in their pack. Not to mention the power and sense of fear they can instill. They can have anyone - or all of them, if they wanted. Willingly or not. "But that's not the kind of Alpha you are. The kind you want to be." Derek nods slowly and while Stiles admires the guy for his principles, he still thinks he's an idiot. "You have to know it wouldn't be a no. If you asked. And, come on - you know me. When have I ever quietly let you talk me into doing anything I don't want to do?"

Derek's mouth quirks again in acknowledgement, before the smile vanishes entirely with a shrug. "Can't take that chance," he says seriously.

Stupid werewolves and their stupid ethical values. Stiles can't help but think back to the night before. "That hunter...Bob."

"Frank," Derek corrects.

"Whatever," Stiles says, because really, like he cares, "he made it sound like humans aren't normally part of a pack if they're not family."

Freezing in place obviously, Derek eventually shifts awkwardly in his chair. "Yes."

Uh huh. "Like there's usually a very specific reason why a human would be part of a pack if they weren't family."

He shifts again. "Yes."

"And you didn't think this was worth mentioning when I signed up?"

And again. "...no?"

Werewolves, seriously, making him do all the work. "Because you knew it might make me realise. What my place in the pack really is." He was pretty damn sure what that was, now.

"You weren't ready," Derek says honestly. "I didn't know if you ever would be."

So Derek had just sat on his stupid, wolfy ass, doing nothing and feeling sorry for himself. So. Frustrating. Throwing the blanket aside, Stiles sighs and sits up. "Just as well one of us is pro-active in this relationship." Because Stiles is ready now, and he knows this is big and though he's not quite sure what this means for the rest of his life...he can't not. Not anymore.

Stiles pushes himself to his feet; steps forward. "I should warn you. I'm going to have morning breath."

"I'd better run now, then," Derek says quietly, only he doesn't run, doesn't move at all; just keeps holding his gaze, watching as Stiles moves towards him.

Three feet takes no time to cover at all and Stiles stops right next to him, still staring. "Put your book down."

It thuds to the floor.

The chair is probably going to hold both of their weight. It's old but large and sturdy, and nearly even matches the sofa. He climbs on - and this is him, so it's pretty awkward and not in any way elegant - but Derek doesn't laugh at his attempt at a seduction technique (something he's getting major brownie points for later). He just watches while Stiles settles in over the heat of his body, knees bent either side of Derek's thighs, pressing into the chair. He's not passive at least, hands coming up instinctively to grab Stiles' waist as he finally stops moving.

It's intimate, being this close, still staring at each other, but it doesn't feel strange. It's the first thing, in a long time, that doesn't feel strange at all.

Stiles' right hand finds Derek's left, threading their fingers together. His gaze falls to Derek's mouth. "This isn't to...collect the whole set." Even though Derek must know this by now, even though he's almost certain, he has to be sure.

"I know," Derek says calmly, "you never wanted them at all."

And that was revealing. "And yet you were still possessive. And grumpy. And jealous."

Derek doesn't even deny it. He just shrugs. "Yep."

Great. "Because you're a tool and these are aspects of your winning personality that I'm probably still going to have to keep dealing with."

He actually grins, the moron. "Yep."

"It's a good thing you're pretty," Stiles mutters, and finally leans in. As incredibly ridiculous as the whole thing has been, Stiles feels prepared for this now in a way he never would've been otherwise. It's not just having the practical experience; it's his lack of nerves, too. He's comfortable, not fumbling around worrying about technique and trying to impress anyone. He can just enjoy it.

And enjoy it he does.

When Stiles kisses Derek, it's not to save anyone's life or to complete the whole set - it's because he wants to. It's because of the way he felt the first time he saw Derek eighteen months ago and has been trying to ignore, the way they've been saving each other's lives ever since. It's because of the way he's seen Derek grow and learn to trust and be a better Alpha. It's because of the way Derek can rile him up so completely, drive him absolutely crazy, yet sit next to him for hours in what he knows is, for both of them, the times they're most at peace. It's because it's been building to this since that day in the forest when Stiles said, "Dude, that was Derek Hale. You remember, right?"

Mostly, though, Stiles kisses Derek because it's totally hot.

Stiles' personal theory about Derek being the only one in the pack who can get his engine running turns out to be true about ten seconds after they start kissing. It's perfectly nice and enjoyable before that - and then somehow everything starts working. Derek deepens the kiss and there's a hand on Stiles neck, the thumb brushing over the skin there, and for reasons that Stiles doesn't understand but totally appreciates, his pulse picks up. A low noise rumbles through Derek's chest and Stiles lets go of his hand, grabbing his head with both hands instead and kissing Derek like he wants to climb inside him, become part of him in a way that he's never wanted with anyone before. Derek's mouth is soft and firm, warm and wet and Stiles gasps into it when both of Derek's hands grab onto Stiles' shirt, yanking him even closer like he can't get enough of Stiles either.

That's how the pack finds them, of course. Plastered against each other, panting and moaning and generally making a spectacle of themselves. Stiles is vaguely aware that they're there; can hear a few sly remarks, even a comment from Jackson that it took them long enough and hey, does anyone else feel like pizza for breakfast?

Stiles doesn't care. He doesn't care that it took them this long to get here, because the whole thing was kind of perfectly imperfect. He doesn't care that they have an audience, either - making out with five different people publicly kind of puts a stop to that kind of embarrassment.

Evidently, Derek does care.

He pulls away from Stiles' lips - and it's tragic, really, how Stiles actually whines when this happens but he still does not care. "Go away," Derek instructs, not looking away from Stiles for a second and then-

Mmm. Kissing again.

Stiles starts to smile into the kiss because Derek doesn't want to stop doing this any more than he does, and there's familiar muttering and footsteps walking away. He feels like he finally has something here, with these people. With Derek. A connection that runs deep and - hopefully - throughout their entire lives.

And wow, he really doesn't do anything half-way does he? His heart is so full it's overwhelming and he can't help it - the smile becomes so huge that he has to break off the kiss.

Derek seems amused but confused, a smile tugging at his mouth as he palms the sides of Stiles' neck, eyes constantly flicking between Stiles' mouth and the rest of his face.

"What are you smiling about?"

Stiles could say it's because he's happy they finally did this. That he finally knows exactly what his place in the pack is. That he feels like he fits in, really fits in somewhere, for the first time in his life. That he's pretty sure this is going to be epic and nightmarish all at the same time, and he can't wait to get started.

What he says instead is,

"You're kind of perfectly my size."

Derek doesn't get it, the wrinkles in his forehead growing deeper. But that's okay.

Stiles has plenty of time to wipe that frown off his face.

*

That night, he makes a phone call.

"Delores? It's Stiles. Yeah. Good. Really good. In fact, there's something I need to tell you..."

~FINIS