It’s Stiles’s first day on the new job at the wildlife reserve. Not that it’s glamorous or anything - he’s just the odd-job guy, feeding the animals and shoveling shit - but it’s his dream job. Cause this place has wolves.
Of course he’s not allowed anywhere near the wolf enclosure yet but on his lunchbreak he sneaks out to sit on the roof of the maintenance building where he can see the wolves from afar and just watches the pack. It’s an odd one, a lone male and several pups, the keepers are worried that the pups will not grow up ‘proper’ with no other wolves but Stiles knows different, he grew up with no mother and he turned out just fine.
Every day for a month he watches the wolves from afar, he’s learned their names and recognises each pup on sight by now. There’s cute little Isaac, Scott who’s forever engaged in some kind of activity or other - usually bothering Jackson who always snaps his jaws at Scott but never actually bites so Stiles knows it’s all for show, the lone female in the group Erica and Boyd, who is never far from her. The leader…they just call him ‘Alpha’, but secretly Stiles has named him ‘Derek’, just cause he looks like one and every wolf should have a name.
Every day for a month until his big break comes. There is a big storm overnight and Stiles is sent to repair the fencing on the wolf enclosure and while he’s at it, might as well clean the area near the entrance while the pack is closed in on the other end. His heart races with excitement - he’s really doing this - as he sets to work shoveling and filling the water trough (only the pups drink from it, he’s never seen Derek take as much as a sip) and fixing the fencing.
The wolves are supposed to be fenced in on the other end but suddenly there’s yelping and growling and next thing Stiles knows there’s an over-excited puppy running straight at him - Scott. Stiles is frozen in place, he’s not sure what to do now. He knows he’s not supposed to touch the pups, if any get too attached to humans the rest of the pack will reject them. Not to mention that Derek would probably rip his throat out with his teeth if Stiles as much as tried. The only way the vet gets to check the pups is by sedating Derek so that he’s out of the action, no one gets near the pack if he’s awake. But Scott runs straight at him and before Stiles can run the opposite direction the pup reaches him and rears up on his hindlegs - he barely reaches Stiles’s knees - and just looks up at him with huge brown eyes (weren’t wolves supposed to have yellow eyes? This one definitely hasn’t…) and almost of its own accord Stiles’s hand reaches down and rests on the pup’s head, stroking it. The fur is surprisingly soft, he would have thought it’d be coarser and the sounds the little one makes are enough to melt his heart. Which promptly almost stops as he catches sight of Derek standing not three feet away - how the hell did he manage that, magic? - looking at Stiles. Intensely. Not…angry or anything, Stiles frowns, the wolf just…looks.
From that day on he gets to work at the wolf enclosure every day, he’s the only one the pack allows near them. Soon he spends his free time there too, sitting on the ground doing his homework while the pups climb all over him. It’s about as close to heaven as he could imagine. And wolves live for a long time, Stiles remembers reading somewhere, much longer than dogs. So he doesn’t have to give up his pack, his family, for a long time yet.