Stiles pursed his mouth and considered his answer: was he a hot sleeper? No, not really, but all the fucking werewolves in his bed were.
"Yes, super hot, like, the hottest hot you've ever hotted, as in I wake up in a pool of lava that is actually my sweat, only isn't sweat supposed to like, cool at least? But nooo, just hot, hot and sticky and gross, and this is probably more information than you are getting paid for isn't it?"
The girl in the blue apron with her nametag - Mary - pinned to it winced, and shrugged, and said, "You'd, uh, be surprised. But right, then in that case I recommend the light warmth duvet. Definitely better than anything you've got."
Stiles eyed the price, skeptical, and said, reaching out a hesitant, judgmental hand to test out the display, "Look, I did my reserach because that, like, is a thing I do, but seriously one hundred and twenty four dollars can it really be better than oh my fucking god this feels amazing."
The bedding employee looked smug, and nodded like that was that, which, well, it was, where had you been all his life duvet of freaking awesomeness, screw shitty plastic-y feeling comfortors out of bags, this was his forever girl. "I'll put it in your cart," she said, satisfied.
Really, Stiles should bill Derek. He should absolutely and positively bill Derek the grossly expensive cost of his recent Bed Bath & Beyond purchases because holy hells being comfortable was expensive and Stiles had only just gotten that job at the bookstore, which, you know, part-time students didn't make much as it was, but seriously bookstores had, like, a lock-down on hours, reserved for their favorite employees, and not new part-time summer employees that they'd only begrudgingly allowed into their fold because he had shown up every day for a month to make puppy eyes at the Information desk. And to whine. Really loudly.
And what with the new duvet (ohmygodyes) and the new sheets (whokneweucalyptuspulpcouldfeelsosmooth!) and the duvet cover (which, seriously, was worth it if just because Stiles wouldn't have to wrestle an entire blanket into the washing machine on a weekly basis to get werewolf drool and blood and dirt and bits of he really freaking did not want to know out of it) and what the hell, extra pillows because his kept getting stolen, Stiles was negative in the bank account. Beyond broke. Like, he would be asking Erica for gas money the next time she demanded they get shakes from Jamba Juice which was all the way freaking across town not because he had no pride but because he had no other options. But whatever.
Billing Derek because his stupid betas sleeping in Stiles' bed was obviously the Alpha's fault.
No really, obviously. Because Derek was a jerk, and an ass, and had no emotional capabilities whatsoever, and Stiles, in a moment of stunning brilliance, mostly riding along on the sharp-bright-(surprising)fierce anger at Isaac's quiet, beaten look, the too-still set of Boyd's hands on his thighs, Erica's face going all sharp, anguished angles. Even Scott looking so fed up he would chew his own leg off to get away from how stupid Derek made them all feel, for no reason, damn it! And just-
"That's it," Stiles had snapped into the heavy silence of the subway car, into the space left behind by Derek's brash, violent, almost cruel words, which, okay, Stiles got the fact that Derek didn't know what he was doing and that he cared and he was scared and he was scared for them but shit, if you're gonna take responsibility for turning a bunch of teenagers into werewolves and being their alpha then take some responsibility, "I just want all of you sharp-fanged and betaloned badasses to know that if big papa Sourwolf ever sticks his foot too far down his stupid werewolf throat I- I have an open door policy, all right? All of you," he said, pointedly, at, well, everyone except Scott, because Scott was the only one who would assume he had the option. The others, well, Stiles didn't actually think any one had ever offered anything like this to them, maybe ever, or else why the hell would they want to be werewolves, jesus, what was he doing.
"Hell," Stiles huffed, glaring at Derek, "open door policy for anything. If a dress you try on at the store makes you feel ugly Erica - oh my god not that it would ever, please stop growling - whatever, you get the idea, open door policy, come and cry on my shoulder. Or howl. Whatever floats your boat, guys."
The moment after that had held kind of precariously, because Derek was just sort of twitching and staring at Stiles like he didn't know what species he was, and the rest of the wolves being kind of, uh, thankful, perhaps, and amused, or something. Well, Boyd didn't look like anything, Isaac was staring really hard at his knees with this awful looking smirk on his face, Erica was still looking offended at the dress comment (oh come on, it had just been an example!), and Scott was looking at him equal parts 'alien species' and 'you are so awesome Stiles!'
Okay, maybe less with the awesome and more of the, 'yep, that's Stiles being Stiles again.'
But that had been that until two days later when Erica showed up on his bed one early evening with a dress in her hand and a wild light in her eyes and Stiles said, "I will set it on fire. Would you like to set it on fire? Because it is absolutely and positively a malfunctioning dress full of malfunctioning sequins, because Erica, dude, you are like the most beautiful and gorgeous ever and any dress that lies and says otherwise in the mirror should be shot and put down."
Erica looked down at the shimmering fabric in her clawed hand and her amber eyes glittered wet beneath her sooty lashes; there was this little tic in her jaw, and then her shoulders just...eased, just a tiny bit, like she'd let herself let go of something that was holding her up unnaturally, and, in this small, quiet voice, the voice of a girl who didn't want to be noticed because she was frightened of what people would see, said, "I don't ever want to feel ugly again."
"Oh my god, Erica, no," Stiles said, flailing his hands, but doing it quietly, with feelings. "Erica, no." He stalled, not quite certain what to say, and then, lost, he said, "Erica you're not just, you know, leather-clad bombshell, you know that, right? Like, the curling iron and the eyeliner, dude, it's hot, totally, but, Erica. People are dicks so they never paid attention - I never paid attention - but did you know? You're really pretty. And more than just, uh, your face, because seriously, Erica, it took some seriously beautiful balls to change who you are, even if, you know, I question the sanity of the werewolf thing OKAY NOT THE POINT, but like, you know. Before you were the werewolf you took on an entire wall and climbed it without any gear because you, I don't know, I'm just guessing here -" Stiles took a huge, deep breath, because holy hells, word vomit, hello! But Erica had her head cocked like maybe she was listening, and there was something sweet in the twist of her spine, like she didn't know if she should stay or should go, that made Stiles want to protect her, so he just..kept going - "but you didn't want to be beaten by a wall. By, uh, your disease and people's expectations and your own expectations, which, dude. Seriously. Believe me here when I say you're beautiful. Like, wow, totally pretty and beautiful, and that dress, seriously, is a lying liar and we're setting it on fire."
She sniffled. Then she smiled, and very carefully and fluidly ripped the dress into a cascade of sequins all over Stiles' floor. Stiles sighed, because that was going to take some serious hoover time, but, all in all, he supposed it counted as a win.
After that it was, like, all werewolf all the time.
For the first week it was mostly just Scott and Erica, because Scott had always come over before because they were, you know, best friends, but now that Allison had broken up with him Scott had a lot of time on his hands, waiting around and moping, and needed the awesomeness that was Stiles to snap him out of it. Erica was a new fixture, but Stiles only stared a little crazy eyed when he realized that she'd started to leave a make-up bag in his second dresser drawer, next to his underwear, most likely because she thought it'd be haha hilarious imagining his face every time he opened it. But, whatever, he could deal with that, and he was so totally going to draw the line if she started leaving bras on his door knobs because, no, no bras without sexy times, and Erica was beautiful and sexual and loved showing it, but it was a sexy-free zone between them. Like, it just was.
But at the end of the first week Boyd showed up. Boyd looked kind of annoyed at having shown up, which made Stiles do some crazy eyebrow dance at his desk where he'd been working on a report for Chem. Boyd just stood, stood hugely because he was huge, in front of his open window (the equivalent of his open door? pffft, werewolves) and Stiles just sat at his desk.
Then Stiles took the pen cap out of his mouth and threw a haphazard thumb over his shoulder. "Bed's free."
Boyd raised an eyebrow, and then he smiled, bright white and human-teeth but, ohdeargod, such a wolfish stretch of amusement on his dark features, and then he was this shimmering wall of dark flesh and too many muscles and a leather jacket which, seriously, dude, unneccesary, you are badass enough without it, over to his bed, where he stretched out, and fell asleep.
Stiles stared at him for a long, long time. Then he blinked at his homework, blinked back at the werewolf, before sighing, rolling his chair backwards, and poking Boyd's ginormous bicep. Boyd opened one eye in stiff upper lipped irritation. "Dude," Stiles said, "that is so not how you take an afternoon snooze fest. You take it by taking off your jacket, dude, and then your shoes, and hell, your socks if that's your thing, and then you budge up off the edge of the bed and put your feet on the matress and maybe you snuggle the pillow - okay maybe you don't snuggle the pillow - and then you get comfy and then you snoozefest."
Stiles gave him his best bitch face.
Boyd growled, really quietly, a warm, silky rumble, and sat up and took off his jacket and his shoes and his socks and then scooted back onto Stiles' bed and - quite deliberately - took a pillow as cuddle-hostage before falling back asleep.
Stiles snorted, smiled, and rolled back to his Chem homework.
So for like, the first three weeks it was mostly Scott and Boyd and Erica. And Stiles, like, really didn't get why Boyd showed up, the dude didn't seem to ever want anything like Erica or Scott did, he didn't, like, seem to have any insecurities, or stress level, or need for support, he just, uh, showed up and slept in Stiles' bed, usually, though sometimes they watched tv or played video games because it wasn't like Stiles was always doing homework and shit. Anyway, Stiles just figured Boyd showed up when he needed a break from Derek being an ass or from the world not being as cool and chill and over all awesome as Boyd obviously was. Not because he really needed anything in particular other than, maybe, a break. And Stiles could totally give him that.
Isaac, though. Stiles spent an entire evening making strange noises and nonsensical comments to his father over steamed vegetables and rice and unsalted chicken thinking about Isaac. Because, dude. If Boyd needed to take a break at Stiles', then Isaac, of the seriously abusive past and the hunched posture, and the helpless puppy-eyes and desperation thinly hidden behind leather jackets and snotty smirks, well. Isaac had to need it like burning. And maybe, like Scott and Erica, a bit more. Hell, maybe a lot more, even.
But Isaac wasn't coming on his own.
"How's Isaac doing?" Stiles asked one night while he was playing angry birds on his phone and sternly overseeing Erica highlight passages in her history textbook for the quiz she had on Thursday. She snorted, arching her golden, fluffly head up along his stomach from where they were sprawled out on his bed, and rolled her eyes at him.
"Three teenagers isn't enough, mom?"
Stiles stuck his tongue out at her, and threw another bird. "Watch your tone, young lady, or no dessert with dinner."
She groaned. "Oh, please, tell me you're making cookies, mommy."
"Only," he said with a wicked smile, "if you finish your homework."
Stiles made these cookies which, well, to die for. Apparently, they had a hidden superpower of being a weakness for all werewolves in existence. Who knew.
After a minute of Stiles biting his tongue, and Erica tensely clicking the highlighter cap against her teeth, she admitted, "He's kind of a mess. And not even a hot one. Like, it's pathetic. Stiles, you should really do something about it."
"Pfhaw!" Stiles erupted. "I should do something about it, she says! Hey, I already offered up myself as a werewolf snot rag and apparently an all you can eat bed and breakfast, isn't that, I don't know, above and beyond the call of duty already?"
Erica blocked an entire paragraph in bright yellow, precisely, analy, and probably only so that she would be distracted and have something to focus on while she said, "Isn't it kind of what you do?"
Stiles muttered something unflattering about werewolves and privacy and personal space and issues, oh god the issues, and Erica elbowed him in the side, and definitely whined and threatened and pouted at him with lucious red lips until Stiles gave up and made her cookies even before she'd finished her homework. Which, hell, maybe the cookies were some kind of bat signal, only for werewolves, because Scott showed up, and then Boyd, and Stiles poured them all glasses of milk, and flour was streaked up on the ceiling, and they were laughing in the golden lit kitchen by the time his dad came home.
Since Isaac was a mess, and it was a lazy, sun-golden Sunday morning, and Erica was all honey-blonde curls and long legs tangled in the bright-dark shadow of Boyd's protective arms, and Scott was curled around their heads snoring like a cowlicked beast, Stiles snuck-stumbled downstairs in his pajamas to make pancakes and flip through his phone contact list.
"Hey," he said into the phone, relieved when Isaac finally picked up on the fifth ring. He hesitated, but Isaac wasn't saying anything, and sheesh, even his silence sounded tentative, so Stiles said, "Hey," again, super bright and sleep-slurred, "so I'm making pancakes for you guys, and let me tell you, Boyd and Scott eat like an army and Erica eats even more so if you want any of the famous Stilinski pancakes you'd better get your butt over here in the next fifteen minutes because while I will try and save some for you I do value my limbs in tact and not bitten off so there is only so much that I can do. Kapeesh?"
Stiles' dad, sitting at the breakfast table and staring wryly at his son over his newspaper, glanced up at the ceiling towards Stiles' bedroom and the puppy pile, and took a bracing sip of his coffee.
"Uh," Isaac said.
"Great," Stiles chirped, rummaging around for a griddle and the pyrex measuring cup his mom had always used and wishing for a quick minute he'd changed into jeans before coming down so he could stick a spatula in his pocket, "see you soon!"
Then he hung up before Isaac could ruin it, and raised his eyebrows hopefully at his dad.
"Another stray?" the sheriff asked dryly.
Stiles grinned and sparkled and made the eyes at him.
"We're going to have to get you a bigger bed," his dad said, which was, uh, kind of uncomfortable and strangely horrifying and hilarious at the same time, and also, dude, awesome, because Stiles had a feeling that not all dad's would be quite as okay as his was that apparently his son had become a magnet for lost teenaged werewolves sleeping in his bed. (It'd taken several uncomfortable dinners before he'd managed to convince his father that, no, he wasn't having strange kinky harem goings-on in his room at night (for god's sake one of them was Scott!) and that honestly he was doing it for the good of the community, totally taking one for the team, I mean really, did his dad want to have to arrest even more barely legal werewolves when Stiles could instead hug them into well-rounded individuals? "Well," the sherriff had said, finally, "if it keeps them out of trouble.")
Isaac showed up in ten minutes, looming awkward and small in the doorway. Stiles' was pretty certain that his father fell in love with Isaac three seconds after opening the door, at least, that's what it seemed like from his vantage point craning his neck over his shoulder and teetering dangerously as far as he could towards the hallway while still being able to flip pancakes. "C'mon, son," his dad said gruffly, ushering Isaac with a gentle hand between his shoulder blades into a chair at the table, and then patting his shoulder absently while asking what he'd like to drink.
Stiles, chuckling to himself, scored it as a win.
Then he heard a loud thump upstairs, followed by a holler, and several more thumps, and said, "They're sunshine and kittens when they wake up," because Isaac had flinched, just a little, and looked like he was worried that they were fighting. He grinned at the other boy, and started talking, because that was what he did. He didn't really talk about anything important, just let him know that Erica would hog the bathroom and that Boyd would probably fall asleep on his shoulder if he wasn't careful and to not trust Scott to handle anything pointy for at least forty minutes after he woke up, and then he moved on to nonsense chatter about how nice the weather was getting, and how was he doing on the Lit assignment they had, and wasn't Mr. Harrison a hag, and dude he'd seriously have to teach Stiles that trick he pulled off in the last lacrosse game sometime, it was awesome, and they had this new strawberry flavored ice cream at The Summer Shack (which was, get this, literally a shack painted barn-red at the side of the road next to an empty lot filled with picnic benches) that he'd have to take Isaac to try out, at least once, before it closed down with fall, and all the while his dad was pouring orange juice into a glass and setting it in front of Isaac and ruffling the boy's curly head.
Isaac was looking a little flushed, a littly guilty, a little round-eyed, and, yeah, a little happy. Stiles felt contentment curl around and settle in his chest, especially as Erica slipped lithely down the stairs sans make-up and curled up against his back with her arms around his waist and made gimme noises and sniffed real hard at his neck and the pancakes and then slouched on over to Isaac, who she, honest to everything, leaned on, like belly in his face and flopped all over him to get at his orange juice.
"Erica," Stiles' dad said, sternly, snapping his newspaper, "You know where the glasses are."
And, heh, yeah, his dad was totally in love with ickle Isaac. Isaac was his new favorite grankid haha.
Then there was Boyd tripping over Stiles and burying his face in the space between his shoulder blades as if it was the only thing keeping him upright until Stiles heaved him into the chair that had the best puddle of sunlight, where he began to ooze slightly to the right in his chair as he fell back asleep, and Isaac trying to push him back up right, but kind of failing horribly. And Scott just kind of face planted into the table and made nonsense noises about pancakes full of sunshine and kittens. Stiles snorted, because apparently Scott's sleep-brain got stuck on the weirdest things and he must have heard Stiles' comment from earlier, creepy werewolf hearing of creepy!
Stiles put the first plate of pancakes in front of Isaac, whose eyes were wide and mouth slack at the golden tower of buttery-melting goodness, and told the rest of his wolves sternly, "Isaac was first to the table, he gets first plate."
When Isaac took his first bite he made a really quiet expression beneath his fringe of curls, kind of like he was going to cry. Stiles squeezed his shoulder and bumped him with his hip, and let the other boy lean his face against Stiles' side, taking a sneaky sniff (that Stiles knew, from experience, would become less sneaky and more creepy-blatant and possessive if Erica and Boyd were anything to go by. Even Scott did it sometimes, but whatever, Scott had always been a freak, it was why they were besties) and Stiles said, smug and soft and sun-warm, summer-bright: "I know right, I'm amazing and these pancakes are amazing, and Sundays are awesome. Next week, maybe I'll make crepes."
"So, yeah, you're totally footing this bill, dude," Stiles said, a week later on the morning of the full moon, which happened to be a Saturday that month, on the doorstep of Derek's new apartment. Derek glowered at him from the doorway, leaning grumpily against the door frame like a great big sourpuss. Sour wolf. Same difference, pffft.
"What," Derek said, "the bill to replace your brain with a functioning, non-Stiles one? Yes. Yes, I will gladly pay all the money in the world, and then some."
"Ha, haha, very funny, except, you know, not at all, ha." Stiles stuck his tongue out at Derek, and waved the Bed Bath & Beyond receipt in his face in a slightly spastic way. "I mean this bill, this one, right here in front of your nose, Derek, c'mon, use those awesome alpha werewolf eyes and read this tiny, awful print, where I spent a freakish sum of my puny savings account to pay for bedding that would not kill me when I have, count them, four werewolves sleeping in my bed!"
Derek frowned, and crossed his arms slowly over his chest. "How often are they over there?"
Stiles hesitated, then shrugged. "Regularly, but not like, you know, every night. Just. More often than not?"
"Hm." He said, reluctantly, but like his moral code was making him, the weirdo worrier freak, and, oddly enough, like saying it physically pained him, but saying it anyway, the big masochist: "I'll make them stop."
"What. NO." Stiles slapped the receipt onto Derek's chest and watched the startled expression bloom across his handsome features, and said, fiercely, "You will not tell them to stop, or so help me god I will end you, I am finally making progress with this farce of a pack that you call your own, because, yeah, dude, you protect them and I do know and they know that you would die for them, and you would like, eat a granny if you thought that she had, I don't know, spit on them, but they're, like, teenagers and shit, and that is where I come in, dude, and if you ruin everything I will- I'll- ugh! Just, look, you don't even have to pay this bill, just take us all out to eat at Red Lobster, Boyd's been going on and on about wanting lobster - well, I mean, he's mentioned it three times in the last week and a half which is Boyd for going on and on - and order pizza for us the next time they have training and actually, you know, ask what they want on it, and we'll call it even, k?"
Derek was, like, sinking into the door frame with this lazy, amused, deeply satisfied look on his face, as though Stiles just given him all the answers, and his life was, uh, sunshine and kittens, what the hell, and then Derek reached a hand out and curled his fingers into Stile's shirt slowly and dragged him close so he could stick his nose in against Stile's collarbone, just ducking his head down a little into the curve of it like his face fit there perfectly.
"You smell like pack," he mumbled.
"Well, yeah," Stiles wheezed, "they've been all over me for weeks, dude."
Derek hummed, and rubbed his nose against Stiles' skin, and then let him go. Stiles stumbled back and slapped a hand over his neck, face burning and scandalized.
"More than smelling like them," Derek said. "They smell like you. And like me. Like that's what makes them pack."
Stiles stared and stared and stared.
Derek rolled his eyes, shifted, and shrugged, awkward as Stiles had ever seen him. "It's how it's supposed to work in a real pack, what." he mumbled.
"Okay," Stiles said, "I'm, uh, gonna go now."
That night Scott and Erica and Boyd and Isaac stayed in the subway, where Scott helped them through the full moon, and Stiles promised them all a big breakfast if they managed not to eat anyone innocent during it. Derek showed up in the open window (full moon or not open door policy, damn it, Stiles didn't do anything half-way!) and said, awkward and stilted, honestly embarrassed and rubbing at the back of his neck and glaring at Stiles' wall like it was guilty of existing: "Tonight, ah."
Stiles bit his lip, and thought about this for roughly .234 seconds before he said, "Yes, Derek?"
Derek wrinkled his nose, and huffed a not-laugh, and slid his jacket off his shoulders, smoothing it out primly across the back of Stiles' computer chair. He stood for a moment in the middle of the room, and he breathed in deep, and said, in a weird rumbly voice, "it smells like a den-site in here."
"Well," Stiles hedged, "that's probably because it kind of is?"
Derek stood in the shadows with cinnamon-red eyes, not rage-bright with fire and pain, but deep and raw and powerful and warm, the kind of eyes Stiles wanted his alpha to have, the kind of eyes that could nurture, maybe, as well as protect a pack of teenage wolves, and, oh, good, Stiles thought, maybe the pack was teaching Derek how to be human and all right just by existing now that they could use Stiles as hangout home base. This was so much better than when Derek was being a jerk and a butt face and making Stiles' chest tight with rage and angry-verbage and flailing arms. Not that, Stiles was sure, Derek would ever stop being a butt face and making Stiles foam at the mouth with irritation, but at least now there could be this, too.
"So, uh, Red Lobster next week," Derek rumbled, for all the world looking like he wanted Stiles to approve of this, a slight flush across his face. Then he winced, and scowled, and glowered, and looked remarkably embarrassed. "I. Am completely blaming this entire night on the full moon, by the way."
Stiles nodded, staring.
Then, "Why are you here tonight, Derek? You haven't, uh, been around in a while. Popping up to loom creepily. I'm out of practice, dude."
For a really long, moon-soaked moment Derek was silent and the only thing that seemed to be moving in the bedroom was Stiles' frantic heart. Then Derek sighed, and said, in a quiet, thin voice, not exactly vulnerable, but not exactly confident either, "Ah. Well." and then the older werewolf seemed to just, uh, kind of give up a little, and he grinned, soft and bright and maybe a little teasing in a way Stiles hadn't realized was possible, "Tonight, I need you."
"Pfhaw," Stiles said, flustered and startled but utterly triumphant, heart racing and grin making his face ache. He turned the corner of his brand new duvet down and patted the bed. "Of course you do. C'mon and get some of this Stilinski hug-action, big boy."
Morning found the wolves gathering at the Stilinski's for Sunday breakfast. Stiles' dad wasn't up yet, though, and breakfast didn't start until the man had at least one cup of coffee, house rule to be taken with utmost sincerity if the wolves didn't want to be shot for ruining the one day the Sheriff got an even half-way decent lie-in. Which meant that there was still time for sleep when four worn and pale but relatively all right werewolf teenagers crawled through Stiles' window in the dawn light, only to pause in a loose semi-circle around the bed, in befuddled and post-moon hazed amusement. Stiles' and Derek were curled tight into each other beneath the covers, Derek's mouth pressed sweet and tender in sleep against Stiles' forehead and Stiles' with his hands curled protectively around the alpha's back.
"About time," Scott muttered, scratching at his belly while Erica yawned, stretched, and started to climb into bed. Boyd snorted, and took off his socks and shoes, and Isaac dropped his jacket and tried to wriggle his way in between his alpha and Stiles. Stiles made a snuffling noise, smacking his lips, and readjusting so that his arms were around both of them, and Derek opened one lazy eye and scooted back an inch in welcome, and Erica draped herself against Derek's back, and Boyd pressed himself back to back with Stiles (stealing a pillow to cuddle with) and Scott just kind of flopped around until the elbows and knees were something like comfortable and slept on top of them all in a big, snoring sprawl.