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It happened so fast, and completely out of nowhere.

It was the first really hot afternoon they'd had since school let out, and Stiles was lying in the shade of the Hale house, looking over Scott's summer school chemistry homework. Lydia and Allison were sitting slightly uphill from him, repairing fletching on Allison's arrows and arguing over whether Lydia's translation of the bestiary's entry on mermaids could be accurate.

Stiles was there because he'd driven Scott over after school, since summer school and driving privileges did not go together. Lydia was there because it was her mission in life not to let Jackson--or Peter Hale, or especially Jackson within fifty feet of Peter Hale--out of her sight ever again. Allison was there because Lydia's other mission in life was to learn absolutely everything about everything before the next crisis hit.

Scott was with Isaac and Jackson, doing some kind of training. Nothing violent, for a change; it was a sensory thing, and Derek had them all standing facing into the woods, twenty feet apart. Derek was wandering around, in and out of the house, periodically jumping to or from the roof past the humans sitting in the shade. There was an intermittent sound of hammering from somewhere inside the house; Peter was still working on whatever repairs he and Derek and Isaac had been doing that morning.

It was probably weird by anyone else's standards, but Stiles wouldn't have minded if his whole summer vacation had been a succession of moments like that.

And then while Lydia was insisting that she knew exactly what pinnaculi meant in context, Derek's feet hit the grass a couple of inches from Stiles's arm. He looked up to see Derek scowling, but Stiles was still mostly thinking about how to get Scott to grasp the concept of molarity. If he also felt a tiny warm rush at having Derek's briefly undivided attention, well, he'd gotten pretty good at hiding that.

"Stiles," Derek said, exasperated, like he'd said it a dozen times already, but Stiles knew for a fact that Derek hadn't said anything human-audible in half an hour. Before Stiles could say anything--and if he had it would've been to ask whether there was a problem with Scott's hearing, like maybe polarity and molarity just sounded like the same word to him, which would explain a lot--Derek grabbed Stiles's right hand. That was the hand that was holding the pen he'd, oh, probably been absently clicking for a while now.

Derek twisted Stiles's hand and just kept twisting until Stiles was on his back and his arm was somewhere it shouldn't have been. As he did it Derek was frowning in concentration and saying calmly, "Stop that, you're distracting them."

The pain was sudden and blinding, and for a second Stiles was frozen and Derek's hand was still around his. Even as he started to scream, Stiles saw Derek's face go from intent and slightly annoyed to utterly shocked, eyes widening and the skin behind the stubble going white. Derek let go of Stiles's hand like it had burned him, and then an arrow thwacked into Derek's side from very short range. Derek staggered away, getting maybe ten feet before Scott, Jackson, and Isaac converged on him, wolfed out and roaring in fury.

Stiles was still on his first startled scream when Derek went down under his betas, and Allison was up and standing over Stiles with another arrow nocked while Lydia knelt at his side, her hands hovering over him without touching. Stiles trailed off into panting whimpers and Lydia turned half away from him, jumping to her feet, and then she and Stiles yelped in perfect, no-not-again harmony, because Peter was suddenly there.

"Stiles, your shoulder is dislocated," Peter announced calmly. "Lydia, Allison, I need you to hold him still while I put it back in."

Stiles couldn't really breathe without making squeaking pained noises, but he sort of nodded. He would do worse things than trust Peter Hale to make this pain stop. Lydia apparently agreed, because she knelt by Stiles, white-faced, lips a flat, determined line.

"Allison," Lydia barked, and Allison reluctantly lowered her bow and, at a gesture from Lydia, knelt down on Stiles's legs. Lydia put one hand on Stiles's non-agonizingly-painful shoulder and the other in the center of his chest, leaning onto him with all her weight. Before Stiles could either object to being unable to breathe or really consider how sad it was that this was, physically speaking, probably the closest thing he'd ever get to the realization of a whole genre of his Lydia-fantasies, there was a hard grip on his right wrist and a hand bracing his right shoulder. It turned out he could breathe well enough to unload a howling scream as Peter snapped his shoulder back into place.

This time the scream trailed off into, "Ow, wait, actually that's better."

His shoulder still hurt really badly, but it was a normal kind of really bad hurt, like something that could have happened in lacrosse practice or being a klutz in the woods, and not something that occupied his entire awareness. Allison and Lydia both got up and moved back a little. Stiles frowned, looking over toward the scrum of snarling werewolves--or he tried to, but Peter caught his chin and made Stiles look up at him.

"Do you know what just happened?" Peter asked, frowning with an expression alarmingly similar to the scowl of concentration Derek had had right before he dislocated Stiles's shoulder. "Do you know what Derek did?"

"He dislocated my shoulder," Stiles snapped, but Peter just arched an eyebrow, unimpressed by that answer.

Stiles remembered the stricken look on Derek's face, the way he'd been shocked when Stiles screamed, and he realized he did know. He nodded.

Peter patted his cheek. "Good boy. Lydia, Allison, take Stiles to the hospital. He needs to have his shoulder checked out and no one should ever pass up a chance for prescription opiates."

"Derek," Stiles said, because he understood what Derek had done and that meant he knew that Derek really didn't deserve what it sounded like Stiles's friends were doing to him over there.

"I'll get them off Derek," Peter said, shaking his head. "It'll be easier when you're not here smelling hurt. Go on, go."

Peter stood, pulling Stiles up by his good arm and hip as he did, and Stiles realized Allison had already run to her car and Lydia was grabbing purses and phones. Lydia buckled Stiles into the backseat--another thing he'd have appreciated more under other circumstances--and they were on their way.

Elapsed time since Derek had landed next to Stiles in the grass: less than five minutes.

Stiles looked down and realized he was still clutching the pen he'd been clicking. He laughed, and then stopped with a hiss because laughing shook his shoulder. Allison twisted to look at him, her eyes wide and scared now that the whole thing was basically over.

"Stiles? Are you okay? Are you going into shock?"

"No, I just," Stiles clicked the pen and grinned. "Derek didn't even manage to take my pen away."

Allison whipped back around to watch where they were going, and Stiles glanced over and realized belatedly that Lydia hadn't gotten into the car with them. Well, of course she hadn't. Jackson and Peter were both still at the Hale house, and Peter had pretty much promised to lay hands on Jackson as well as Scott and Isaac. Obviously Lydia wasn't going to leave all those werewolves to their own devices. He hoped she had Allison's crossbow, but it wasn't like she would need it; she had Jackson, and she could point and aim him even more easily.

"Your pen?" Allison asked, sounding sort of shaky and furious at the same time. "That was about a pen?"

"I was clicking it," Stiles explained. "Derek said I was distracting them--they must have been doing a listening thing, that was why he was moving around so much."

"I thought he was in the woods with them," Allison said, still sounding weird and spooked, and it occurred to Stiles that Allison had just shot Derek, the guy she blamed for her mom's death, after seeing him suddenly flip out and hurt someone for no apparent reason.

"Hey," Stiles said, "Hey, Allison, are you going into shock?"

"No," Allison said determinedly, "no. I'm fine. You're the one who's hurt, Stiles. You're the one Derek attacked."

"Whoa, no, no," Stiles said. "No. That wasn't an attack. That was just--"

Allison slammed on the brakes, and Stiles was thrown forward. Lydia had put him in the middle of the backseat, so he only had a lap belt on. That was great because slamming his bad shoulder into a seatbelt would have hurt, but his arms still flew forward as his body bent around the lap belt, and then his whole upper body slammed back into the seat, and a little scream burst out of him involuntarily.

"Sorry! Sorry," Allison said, her voice going high. Stiles realized they were at a red light, and the sudden stop hadn't been only because of what he was saying.

"It's okay," Stiles said, closing his left hand gingerly on his right arm to hold everything still. "Allison, it's fine, I'm fine."

"No," Allison said. "No, I heard you scream, I saw your arm. You were really hurt--you are really hurt. Derek hurt you."

"Hey, no, Peter put it back, it hurts a lot less now," Stiles said, aiming for soothing and probably landing on frantic babbling.

"Allison, it's not--" it's not like your mom, and then he realized where this was going, and he said, "You can't go tell your dad that Derek attacked me. You can't break the truce."

"You want me to keep this a secret," Allison said. "You want me to lie to my dad to protect Derek Hale."

"No, I mean--no, tell him if you have to, I'm not saying--I'm just saying, that wasn't against the truce. He didn't shed my blood, he didn't bite me, and he wasn't attacking me. He's not a threat to anyone--"

"Anyone who's not clicking a pen--"

"Allison, come on!" Stiles was kind of yelling, but Allison wasn't listening, and he got that she was traumatized here, but he was going to be pretty fucking traumatized himself if the Argents decided it was time to reopen the war on werewolves--if after everything that had happened they killed Derek--just because he had twisted Stiles's arm too hard. "He's not going around looking for random people doing things that annoy him, I was on his turf, hanging out with his betas, and he--"

Stiles choked on what Derek had really done. He couldn't say it to Allison, for Allison to go and say to her dad, and ask whether that was cause enough to kill all of them.

"He made a mistake," Stiles said, quieter. "That's all, he just--used too much force, he just misjudged. I could tell he was shocked when my arm popped out like that, that's why you caught him off-guard when you shot him. He was surprised. He didn't mean to do that, it was just an accident."

"An accident," Allison repeated, and he knew she was going for scoffing, but it was coming out wobbly. "Stiles, if he can even have that kind of accident he's still dangerous!"

"Yeah, okay, but we always knew he was dangerous, we always knew he had the capacity to harm people. The deal is, as long as he doesn't actually go around hurting people he gets to live and ride herd on every other werewolf in town who's even more likely to randomly flip out and hurt people--do you think Scott could keep Isaac and Jackson chilled out on full moon nights? Do you want to put Peter back in charge? Or do you want to just kill them all and be done with it? Allison, the choice is the truce Derek made with your dad or another war, and I know you don't want that. Just--don't tell your dad that this broke the truce, okay, because it didn't."

Allison stopped the car again, more gently this time, and Stiles looked around and realized she'd stopped because they were at the ER entrance to the hospital. A nurse was coming out to the car and Stiles said, "You don't have to come in, they'll call my dad, I'll be fine. Go home, okay?"

Allison needed to go freak out in private, Stiles thought, and also if she wasn't with him they wouldn't have to get their stories straight about what happened.

"I have to talk to my dad about this," Allison said, not looking back.

"Yeah, I know, just don't make it a bigger thing than it was, okay? He stopped even before you shot him. He wasn't really trying to hurt me."

The nurse knocked on the window, looking like she was going to yell at them for parking in the ER driveway, and Stiles undid his seatbelt left-handed and started scooting toward the door.


Stiles was still standing at the intake desk, insisting that, no, seriously, they needed to look at his shoulder because it had been dislocated, when Scott's mom came out holding a file folder and stopped short at the sight of him.

"It's okay!" he said frantically as her eyes went wide and horrified, which was the exact opposite of what he'd just been saying, but this was worse than not getting his shoulder looked at. "I'm--Scott's fine, it's fine, I just--"

Stiles dropped his left hand from his pointed grip on his right arm, but Ms. McCall said, "Stiles, what happened?"

"I dislocated my shoulder, but somebody put it back in for me--"

"Okay, exam room, right now," Ms. McCall said. "Trudy, call the sheriff and tell him his son's in the ER, and I mean right now. If you ever keep a minor waiting for medical attention again--"

Ms. McCall didn't finish that threat, because she had to come out from behind the desk to herd Stiles over into an exam room.
She shut the door hard and said, "Now tell me what actually happened, Stiles. If Scott hurt you--"

"No!" Stiles said, panicked and too loud. "No, Scott didn't--Scott had nothing to do with it."

"But you picked Scott up and took him somewhere after school. To see the others, right? Did one of them hurt you?"

"It was an accident," Stiles said firmly. "He just--we were messing around and he just pushed too hard, he forgot I wasn't like them, okay? Not Scott, one of the others, I'm not saying who and you can't tell my dad, please don't tell my dad."

"Take your shirt off and let me see," Ms. McCall said grimly. "You said someone put it back? Are you feeling any numbness? Can you move all of your fingers?"

Stiles flexed his fingers anxiously and his wrist and, gingerly, his elbow for good measure. Ms. McCall stepped in to help him with his shirt; she got it tugged up to his ribs and he tried to raise his arms to let her pull it off and then stopped short and squeaked.

Ms. McCall made a sympathetic face and turned away, coming back a second later with scissors. "I hope you didn't like this t-shirt too much, kiddo. If it hurts that badly to move your arm I'm not letting you try to get it off in one piece."

"Aww, come on," Stiles said, but really, if he made it out of this with just one t-shirt destroyed he was getting off lightly.

Ms. McCall ignored his half-hearted attempt at grumbling and cut up the right sleeve of his t-shirt to the collar, efficiently revealing his shoulder as the shirt fell away.

"Oh, God, Stiles," she said, lowering the scissors, and Stiles turned his head to peer at it and realized that basically his whole shoulder was purple-black with bruising.

"Oh," Stiles said. "Yeah."

"You said someone reduced it? Put it back in, I mean?"

"Yeah, um, one of the--one of them. He seemed like he knew what he was doing."

"Well, he may have," Ms. McCall allowed, going over to a drawer. "If you're not in agonizing pain and not suffering obvious nerve damage. We're going to ice this right now and I'm going to get you a doctor, and then once your dad gets here you're getting x-rays so we can see how bad the damage is."

Stiles leaned against the bed and held the ice pack in place as Ms. McCall headed for the door, but she turned back on the threshold. "You swear Scott didn't do this? Even if it was just rough-housing, Stiles--"

Stiles shook his head and tried hard not to think of the times Scott had tried to do so much worse. "It wasn't Scott, I promise. Scott's probably still yelling at the guy who did it."

Ms. McCall sort of smiled, tensely, and nodded as she turned away.


The door burst open, startling Stiles into yanking his arm out of the doctor's grip, which hurt a lot; but it was his dad standing there looking wild-eyed, which made everything feel better to kind of an embarrassing extent.

"Stiles, what the hell--"

"Accident, dislocated shoulder, messing around, accident, I'm okay now," Stiles said all in one breath, kind of high-pitched but fully within the range of intelligibility for purposes of talking to his dad.

His dad came the rest of the way into the room and shifted his gaze to the doctor. "I'm his father. Medically speaking, was any of that remotely accurate?"

"It does look like his shoulder was very briefly dislocated," the doctor admitted. "We need to take some x-rays to be sure, if you'll sign the consent--"

"Yes, yes, of course I'll sign, what the hell are we waiting for," his dad demanded, reaching out for the clipboard and snapping his fingers impatiently. But his other hand found Stiles's left hand, where it was clutching the edge of the exam table, and held on tight.


He had curly fries and a milkshake and Vicodin for dinner, in exactly that order, on strict instructions from Ms. McCall. His dad stayed with him even though he was supposed to be on-shift until midnight. They sat on the couch in front of some movies, but Stiles was too loopy to follow anything and just rested his head on his dad's shoulder, enjoying knowing exactly where his dad was and that everything was okay now. He kind of suspected his dad was doing the same.

At some point his dad muttered something like, "About time," and pushed Stiles gently upright and then, when Stiles started listing over, laid him down flat on the couch.

Stiles blinked a couple of times and suddenly Scott was there, scowling and sniffing him.

"Hey," Stiles said. "What--Scott, what--s'all over, right?"

"You're still hurt," Scott whispered fiercely.

"Dad?" Stiles said loudly, before Scott could go any further with that.

"Right here," his dad said immediately, from the doorway, which meant he probably hadn't heard what Scott said. Probably.

Stiles struggled vaguely in the direction of getting up, which made Scott push him into a sitting position as his dad darted in to stand over the couch.

"Do you have to go back to work?" Stiles asked, blinking and letting his voice slur more than it absolutely had to. His dad was still in uniform, but that could go either way.

His dad made a guilty face like he probably should but he didn't want Stiles worrying about that. It was a familiar face.

Stiles flapped his good hand. "Scott's here, we'll be good if you gotta go."

His dad gave a short, tight nod. "Scott, if you can help him get up to bed and ice his shoulder again--I know you have school tomorrow morning. I'll be back in an hour."

"Sure, no problem," Scott said, sounding almost easy and calm, and Stiles nodded a couple more times. His dad came closer and squeezed his good shoulder, and then he nodded again and left.

As promised, Scott helped Stiles up and steered him to his room. Stiles sat on the end of his bed, painstakingly undoing his own belt and fly left-handed--his dad had untied his shoes for him when they got home, so those weren't a problem, and he was going to sleep in the hospital's super stylish wraparound shirt and the sling.

Scott disappeared and then came back with the ice pack and helped Stiles get settled on the bed.

"Okay," Stiles said sleepily, after all that. "Probably safe for you to rant now if you want to."

"This is serious," Scott snarled--literally snarled, teeth going a little pointy and eyes flashing yellow. "Derek can't do that to you."

"Well, last I saw he had an arrow through his spleen and you were on your way to ripping his arms off and beating him to death with them," Stiles pointed out. "So you probably got that across. I don't know why you're telling me what Derek can't do. It wasn't my idea."

"Because you're not mad at him," Scott snapped. "Allison told me--"

"Hey, you got to talk to Allison, that's nice--"

"Shut up, Stiles. This was not okay! He can't do this to you."

And to Scott, at least, Stiles could finally say the thing he'd been biting his tongue to hold back all night. "It was a pack thing, Scott."

"You're not his pack," Scott yelled, and Stiles got the feeling that Scott had been biting his tongue on that for at least as long. "You're my pack!"

Stiles blinked, and reached up to resettle the cold pack on his shoulder, turning that one over in his head to see if there was a way to make it sound less bad. "So... you're the only werewolf who's allowed to rough me up?"

"No!" Scott looked away, running his hands through his hair. "I'm not allowed to either--no one is allowed to hurt you! But especially not Derek, especially if it was some kind of pack thing, because you don't belong to him."

"Scott, come on, if you're--"

"We're," Scott growled obstinately.

"If we're not Derek's pack, then it's because we're the JV pack or something. We're their farm team. Minor league affiliate. They can call us up when they need us, right?"

"We're not jay vee," Scott insisted, but Stiles didn't see any other way for Scott to claim he wasn't in Derek's pack. Peter was in Derek's pack, and Peter had bitten Scott. Scott was happy enough to hang out with them most of the time and learn things from Derek and Peter, and generally act like one big happy pack until Derek did something to piss him off. Then it was all Derek's not my alpha.

But Scott wasn't an alpha either, and who else was he going to join up with? The Argents hadn't worked out on any level, Jackson and Lydia were with Derek now, and that just left Stiles. When push came to shove, Stiles didn't want to be solely responsible for looking out for Scott. He needed--they needed--a pack, and Stiles was pretty sure that they'd found one, if Scott would just accept what was already true.

"I'm just saying," Stiles said. "Are you mad at Derek because he hurt me or because you're jealous?"

Scott looked straight at him, furious; it was the kind of furious Scott looked when Stiles's teasing went a little too far, when it genuinely hurt.

"Whoa," Stiles said. "Scott, what--obviously you're--"

Scott looked away. "I liked it better when you were scared of him."

"I liked it better when I wasn't scared of anything," Stiles sighed, and Scott's shoulders sagged.

Stiles took a breath and tried again. "You're still my best friend. I'm not going anywhere without you." And if now would be a perfect time to point out all the places Scott had gone with Allison, without Stiles--well, Stiles wasn't that cruel. "You're still my favorite werewolf, okay? First, last, always."

Scott didn't say anything for a minute, and then he shrugged and looked back at Stiles, brown-eyed and half smiling. "I can't tell if you're lying. The drugs mess everything up."

"So give me the benefit of the doubt, man," Stiles said, smiling tentatively back. "Come on, I got my shoulder dislocated today and you took on an alpha for my honor."

Scott snorted. "You missed the part where Peter jumped in and Derek actually started fighting back and we got our asses kicked."

"Still! It looked totally impressive from where I was lying."

Scott shook his head, but he was still smiling, and he said, "You know I wouldn't let anyone hurt you, alpha or not."

"Yeah," Stiles said. "Yeah, I got that memo. You were pretty clear."

"Good," Scott said, and flopped over to lie sideways across Stiles's bed and, incidentally, Stiles's legs, "because my mom yelled at me for half an hour about letting you get hurt, about the possibility that I could hurt you, and about the fact that it's my fault you even hang out with werewolves anyway."

Stiles grinned and let his eyes slide shut. "Sorry, man."

"Worth it," Scott replied, sounding sleepy himself. He patted Stiles on one knee as he settled himself on Stiles's shins.


Stiles was vaguely aware of his dad coming in and shooing Scott out. He didn't just shut off the lights and leave Stiles to sleep, though. He moved around the bed, picked up the ice pack and then started gently pulling the covers out from under Stiles. He had them almost all the way down before Stiles realized this was familiar because he'd watched his dad do this before, maneuvering his mom under the covers in the hospital bed.

His eyes shot open and he tried to sit up, suddenly terrified that his dad was remembering that too. His dad looked up, startled, and pushed him gently back down.

"Hey, it's just me, Stiles. Just me." His dad tugged the covers up over Stiles's legs with one hand while the other was still resting reassuringly on Stiles's chest, right over the strap of the sling. "Go back to sleep, it's okay."

Stiles rubbed his hand over his face, feeling sort of gummy and dazed now, instead of pleasantly sedated, like when he'd been sitting on the couch with his dad, or slightly buzzed, like he had been with Scott.

"No more Vicodin tomorrow," he mumbled, letting his eyes fall half-shut again. "Messes everything up."

"Okay," his dad said. "I'll get rid of it. Do you want some ibuprofen before you go back to sleep?"

Stiles nodded because it was easier than shrugging--his shoulder didn't really hurt right now, but it probably would soon, and then he'd have to get up by himself and get something and probably wake his dad up in the process and have one of those confused no-one-is-awake-and-everyone-is-worried conversations in the hallway.

"Hold on," his dad said softly, patting Stiles's blanket-covered knee, and then he headed down to the bathroom. He was still wearing his jacket from work--he'd come straight up to Stiles's room, and Stiles recognized the tense angle of his shoulders under it. His dad had remembered what Stiles had remembered, tucking him into the bed.

Stiles opened his mouth and very deliberately closed his teeth on his tongue. He couldn't tell his dad what he'd realized for sure today. He couldn't promise his dad that it would never happen, that his dad would never have to watch him die because if it came to that, Derek would bite him and take Stiles into his pack. Stiles had known for a while that if he ever had to choose between dying and being bitten, he'd get down on his knees and beg for the bite, because he couldn't leave his dad, couldn't leave Scott, couldn't bear missing out on the whole damn world. He'd just never been sure, until today, that Derek would say yes.

His dad came back in with the pills cupped in one hand and a glass of water in the other. He sat down on the edge of Stiles's bed, and Stiles opened his mouth like a baby bird. His dad smiled, but dropped in the Advil--the classic candy-coated ones--before he helped Stiles sit up enough to drink.

Stiles leaned into him when he took the glass away. "It's okay, Dad. I'm gonna be okay."

His dad sighed and tightened his arm. "Pretty sure I'm supposed to be the one telling you that, son. But it's good to know."

Stiles nodded and pressed his face into the familiar rough-softness of his dad's jacket, and he was mostly asleep again by the time his dad settled him back onto his pillow and shut off the lights.


Stiles woke up, blinked at the ceiling and then shut his eyes again. His shoulder was throbbing, he was thirsty and had to pee at the same time which just seemed inefficient, and the light was way too bright. He could put off morning for a little while longer, just lie here and--

He smiled abruptly, stretching three limbs while he folded his right arm tightly against his chest. Derek had--okay, yes, dislocated his shoulder which sucked and he never, ever wanted to do that again--but Derek had forgotten that Stiles was human yesterday. He'd forgotten to be human-careful with his own strength. He'd acted like there was no one around but his pack, and his pack included Stiles, even when Derek was annoyed with him.

Peter, who hadn't even seen--he'd known that that was what it meant, and he'd made sure that Stiles knew it. And, for that matter, all of Stiles's friends had acted like they were his pack even if they didn't realize it, all leaping to his defense at once (except Lydia, who had leaped to check on him and probably call 911, because Lydia was awesomely practical).

Of course, all his friends leaping to his defense had meant an Argent attacking a werewolf for attacking a human--but that had to be okay, because Allison had talked to Scott about it, so the truce must still be in place. Scott would have warned him if it wasn't. And it had meant Scott being all mad at Derek for trying to steal Stiles from him, but--Stiles shuffled through his memories of Scott's visit--he was pretty sure that had been okay by the end, because Scott had stopped arguing and fallen asleep on his bed, so that was okay. Of course, both of Derek's for-sure betas, Isaac and Jackson, had also attacked Derek and then gotten their asses kicked by Derek and Peter, but....

The cold pack nudged against Stiles's sore shoulder, and he smiled more as he reached for it and settled it into place. "Thanks--"

Not Scott. And not his dad. Stiles's eyes flashed open and Isaac was crouched next to his bed, his face level with Stiles's.

Stiles swallowed a yelp and pressed down too hard with the ice pack for a second. Isaac winced at the same time that Stiles did, and he said, "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I just wanted to see if you were okay."

"Oh," Stiles said, eyes darting to his open window and back to Isaac. Okay, so maybe being part of the pack also meant there was a kind of Stiles's-casa-is-pack-casa thing going on, but frankly that had already been true for a while. "Yeah, I'm. Fine. I mean, my shoulder hurts, but it's not bad."

Isaac nodded, eyes dropping to Stiles's shoulder and then coming back up, and Stiles wondered what he could smell-see-hear that Stiles couldn't. "It's healing. It should heal completely if you take it easy."

"Yeah," Stiles said, dragging out the word cautiously. "They said because Peter put it back in so fast it caused a lot less damage than a dislocated shoulder usually does. I told them I messed it up playing lacrosse, like that time Greenberg did it on a hard pass--you remember that?"

"Yeah," Isaac said. "I didn't think it was funny then, either."

Stiles opened and closed his mouth. He hadn't thought it was funny at the time, when Greenberg was on his knees screaming and Coach was freaking out and no one could even see what was wrong because Greenberg had his pads on and no one had been anywhere near him. But it had been funny after, because, come on, Greenberg had dislocated his own shoulder throwing the ball too hard.

But Isaac had never liked seeing people hurt, Stiles remembered. And now Stiles knew why he'd always been like that, before. For all that he'd seemed to take well to the violence of the werewolf lifestyle, Isaac had probably been even more upset than Scott or Allison had about seeing Derek just randomly hurt Stiles, out of nowhere, just because he was stronger and he could.

"Hey," Stiles said. "Hey, Isaac, Derek wasn't--it wasn't like--"

Isaac raised his eyebrows and gave a small, bitter smile. "Like my father?"

Stiles swallowed and nodded cautiously. "He didn't mean to--I mean, he meant to hurt me, but he meant to hurt me like he hurts you guys, you know? Like throwing Jackson off the roof because he wouldn't stop whatever it was he was doing the other day. Come on, I know you thought that was funny."

Isaac tilted his head in acknowledgement, but he still wasn't smiling. "Jackson bounced. You screamed."

"Yeah, I mean, I'm not saying it was funny when it happened to me," Stiles assured him. "I'm not saying I don't appreciate you guys all jumping on him, because that was kind of awesome. But Derek just--"

As confident as he'd been a minute ago that he had this figured out, it was hard to say it to Isaac. If it was what Stiles thought, if it was what he thought Peter had told him, then Isaac should have known, shouldn't he? Isaac shouldn't still be worried like this.

"He was treating me like I was one of you," Stiles said, struggling not to let his voice rise into a question. "He was treating me like I was part of the pack. He just forgot for a second that I was human."

Isaac looked skeptical, and Stiles winced and hid his face in the pillow. It sounded way less probable when he said it out loud, and Isaac obviously wasn't buying it. Still, he had to ask. "Derek said it was something else?"

Isaac was silent, and when Stiles picked his head up to see how bad it was, Isaac just looked kind of sheepish.

"I didn't hang around to hear him explain it away. Once I knew he wasn't going to hurt Scott and Jackson anymore and Lydia was yelling at everybody, I just took off. I spent the night at the Johnsons'."

Stiles's mouth opened and no sound came out. He knew Isaac had foster parents--or rather, his knowledge of these things being mostly via his dad, he knew that the Johnsons had legal custody of Isaac for the foreseeable future. He'd just never seen or heard anything to suggest that Isaac was willing to act like he actually lived with them for any threat short of Derek's imminent arrest for kidnapping.

Isaac shrugged. "I didn't want to be around Derek like that, so I didn't go home."

Stiles nodded slowly. "Well, it's probably fine now. Derek really--he really wasn't trying to hurt me. He stopped when I screamed. I mean, he looked like somebody stabbed him. In my experience of people who want to hurt me, the first sign of pain is not when they back off."

Isaac looked away, and Stiles winced--he wasn't trying to compare a few run-ins with bullies and a memorable visit with Gerard Argent to the things Isaac had been through--but Isaac said, "No. It's not."

He looked back to Stiles. "You're sure? He was stopping even before Allison shot him?"

"Definitely," Stiles said firmly, remembering Derek's white face and the way he'd let go of Stiles's hand. "He was shocked. He really just forgot that I wasn't one of you."

"You are one of us," Isaac said, shaking his head and standing up. "You're just not a werewolf."

He left through the window. Stiles tucked the ice pack against his shoulder and tried to get a little more sleep.


Stiles slept as late as he could, and took a long, careful shower, but shortly after lunch he was still just about ready to climb the walls one-handed.

He couldn't drive the Jeep like this--couldn't drive out to the Hale house without rattling himself into big embarrassing sobs of pain, he was pretty sure, and wouldn't be able to for a while. Scott had texted Stiles to say that he had to go over to Allison's because she needed to Talk, with a sad-face emoticon that indicated that it probably really would just be talking, and miserable we-can-never-be-together talking at that. Stiles's cover story had gotten him forbidden to so much as look at his lacrosse gear for the next six weeks--his dad had locked all of it in the trunk of the cruiser, which Stiles wouldn't be able to get into for days, at least--so he couldn't even try to learn to cradle left-handed.

If he stayed downstairs, his dad would stay in the same room, always doing something else and appearing to pay no attention to Stiles, but always right there if Stiles needed anything. His dad was good at it, an absolute professional at hovering-without-hovering, but Stiles knew when he'd learned to do that. His dad's quiet, constant presence made Stiles's throat go tight like he might cry or fall into a panic attack at any moment.

So Stiles was in his room. He'd made the inevitable morbid decision to Google dislocated shoulders and looked at lots of gruesome pictures and fascinatingly incoherent x-rays of other people's injuries that were way more spectacular than his. He read a lot of belatedly terrifying information about how badly Derek--and Peter--could have fucked him up, both dislocating the shoulder and reducing it. And then some indeterminate amount of time later, through the mysteries of link-wandering, he'd read three articles about the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and had eight tabs open with videos to watch--seven earthquake videos and one about how to forge your own iron at home.

His dad knocked on his open door, looking apologetic. "Visitor for you, Stiles."

He stepped back and Lydia was standing there, holding the string of a Get Well Soon! balloon.

No matter what Stiles said, his dad refused to be convinced that Stiles was okay with Lydia and Jackson being back together. Of course, Stiles couldn't say anything truly persuasive like I'm pretty happy to see them together since the alternative is Jackson being a murderous mind-controlled lizard monster or I'm not sure whether I was ever in love with Lydia or if I'm just sexually oriented toward terrifying people, I know a lot more of those now. But his dad looking kind of sad every time Stiles hung out with Lydia was really the least of what Stiles felt bad about when it came to lying to his dad.

All Stiles could do now was say, "Hey, Lydia, good to see you," which sounded totally pointed and unconvincing, probably because he was already dreading what Lydia was about to say. Stiles's dad rolled his eyes before he walked away down the hall.

"Good to see you not screaming in pain," Lydia said brightly, closing the distance and leaning over Stiles. For a second he thought he was going to get a cheek-kiss out of being injured, but Lydia just tucked the balloon's string under the strap of Stiles's sling and tied it in a knot. She patted him on the head as she straightened up, and went to sit down on the end of Stiles's bed.

"Thanks, Lydia," Stiles said, trying to see the knot without twisting his shoulder as the balloon bounced around overhead. He'd probably have to cut it off. Left-handed. "That went from kind of sweet to completely emasculating in ten seconds, that was smooth."

"You're welcome," Lydia said. "I know you like balloons."

Stiles looked over at her, for a second just ordinarily embarrassed at the thought that someone had told her about his hospital-vigil. Then he remembered that that had been after Peter nearly killed her, and before everything else Peter had done to her--and she'd knelt across his body from Peter Hale without flinching yesterday, followed Peter's instructions without hesitating, to help Stiles.

"Seriously, thank you," he said, scooting his desk chair closer to her. "You were awesome yesterday."

Lydia shrugged and let her smile slip. "I did what needed to be done. I stayed on top of the situation and in the loop. And I didn't follow every instruction Peter Hale gave me."

Stiles raised his eyebrows--that was a reason for Lydia staying behind that he hadn't thought of, but it made sense. And it reminded him that Lydia ought to be able to settle his question for him. He'd talked himself into and out of believing he'd had it right yesterday about six times already. "So, hey, what did Derek say about what happened?"

"Derek didn't say anything," Lydia said, rolling her eyes. "Well--Jackson says he said a bunch of things I couldn't hear, but it was mostly growling and stop that, and then he stomped off in the opposite direction from Isaac. Peter offered an explanation, but as usual I need some independent verification before I accept his version of anything."

Lydia had been taking out Peter's life-debt to her in shopping trips and information. Peter seemed happy to pony up both, which Lydia took to mean that he was up to something. That seemed like a reasonable assumption no matter how Peter was acting.

"So you want me to independently verify?" Stiles said. "Because--I was kind of hoping you could tell me what the hell happened. I was sort of distracted by the intense pain and the being rushed away from the scene."

"That's the point of cross-checking, Stiles. Add up all the unreliable accounts and see where they line up. I heard Peter ask you if you knew what Derek did, and I saw you agree that it was something other than just hurting you. What were you agreeing to?"

"What did Peter--"

"I'm not contaminating your version by telling you what Peter said," Lydia insisted. "Tell me what you think Derek was doing, or what you think Peter was telling you Derek was doing. Both, if they differ."

So, great, now he didn't just have to say this to somebody who really did belong to the pack; he had to say this to somebody who already had the pack's side of the story and was going to grade his accuracy. And the somebody was Lydia, looking at him expectantly.

Stiles looked up at the balloon, hooking one finger around the string to make it bounce. The silver Mylar side reflected rays of light all over the ceiling.

"Derek wasn't angry," Stiles said. "Annoyed, but not angry. Not out of control. He wanted me to stop clicking my pen. He was still just telling me to stop it the whole time he was twisting my arm. But when I started screaming he looked shocked and let go, so I really think he wasn't trying to hurt me--he was trying to dislocate my shoulder but not trying to hurt me, and that pretty much only makes sense if you're talking about werewolves with other werewolves. So I think Derek was thinking of me like another werewolf."

Stiles realized abruptly that he was showing his throat to Lydia, and he dropped his chin and met her steady, inscrutable gaze.

"I think he was thinking of me as part of the pack," Stiles said, his voice coming out small. It sounded even more improbable than the last time he'd said it, like the most pathetic kind of wishful thinking. "I thought--when Peter asked me what happened, I thought that was what he meant. That's why I nodded. I thought he must know. There were humans in their family, before the fire. This probably happened sometimes. If it's a thing that happens."

Lydia tilted her head, eyes narrowed. "Family."

Stiles shrugged with his good shoulder. "Yeah, I--Lydia, you're killing me, what did Peter say?"

"Peter gave me the impression that it was a lot more he only hits me because he loves me, but then again Peter enjoys screwing with everyone all the time."

Stiles blinked. "Well, I mean--sort of, right? That is kind of what I just said. Derek loves his pack, doesn't he?"

Lydia raised an eyebrow, looking exactly as unimpressed as Peter had the day before when Stiles gave the obvious answer. Stiles decided not to remark on the similarity. He liked having all of his bones and organs on the inside.

"Derek is the alpha of his pack," Lydia said, when Stiles didn't offer up any more answers for criticism. "However, Derek also knows that his pack won't stand for him hurting you again. And I'm not talking about some little brawl, I'm talking about what I can do with access to the chemistry lab and a good supply of wolfsbane."

Stiles opened his mouth and closed it again.

"So, go for it," Lydia said, like she was concluding something, or agreeing with something, or--something. "Just remember that most of your friends are supernatural lie detectors, so if you try to tell us you walked into a door or fell down the stairs, we'll know."

"To be fair I actually do walk into doors and fall down stairs on a semi-regular basis," Stiles pointed out, because he still didn't know what else to say. Obviously they'd know if Derek seriously hurt him again; it would probably happen right in front of them. He and Derek mostly only spent time alone together when someone was in mortal danger.

"Scott will know the difference," Lydia said, standing up. "And Scott is more protective of you than anyone. So if Derek hurts you again, he won't get a chance to hurt you a third time."

Lydia was out the bedroom door and halfway down the hall before Stiles yelled after her, "Why does that sound like a threat?"

"Because it is one," Lydia called back, sounding amused.

Stiles stared up at the balloon until his dad came upstairs looking even more awkward than he usually did about Lydia. "Stiles, if someone's threatening you--"

Stiles groaned and tugged the balloon down to bang his head ineffectually against, hiding his face. "No one's threatening me. I swear, no one is threatening me. Lydia's just being--" crazy, but he had sworn he would never say that about her, to anyone, for any reason, and he wasn't going to break that promise now, "overprotective."

"Well," his dad said, while Stiles was still hiding behind the balloon. "I can't fault her for that."


His dad left for work a couple of hours later, by which time Stiles's brain had rock-tumbled everything Lydia said, and all his wishful thinking about what she might have meant, down to one unavoidable fact.

Stiles was going to have to talk to Derek to figure out what the hell was going on. All he had to go on right now was Peter and Lydia-with-information-from-Peter, and the look on Derek's face when Stiles screamed, which, frankly, was a whole memory Stiles would prefer to never have to think about again.

Talking to Derek mostly relied on Derek showing up, though. Even going out to the house was no guarantee that Derek would come within ten yards of him or be willing to speak if he did. Stiles didn't have anything as simple and human as Derek's phone number--he still wasn't sure Derek had a phone, actually--and under the circumstances he wasn't going to ask for anybody's help in getting in touch with him. Whoever he asked would probably want to supervise.

Stiles went over to his window and unlatched it, and then realized he had to open it left-handed. He'd just started tugging awkwardly on the left side when a blur of black dropped into view; Stiles froze and so did Derek, hanging from the overhang above Stiles's window by one hand.

They stared at each other for a second, and then Stiles raised his eyebrows and stepped back, gesturing to the window. "Be my guest."

Derek scowled, but he also dropped down to stand on the roof below Stiles's window and pushed it up, hauling himself quickly inside.

"So have you just been hanging out on my roof all day, or are you going to pretend that was a shocking coincidence?" Stiles's heart was beating fast. He found himself thinking, This is it. He didn't know what it was, exactly, but Derek was here and he was here and here they were.

Derek sprawled in Stiles's desk chair, but didn't pick up the thickest book he could reach this time. He just watched Stiles, not glaring and not smiling, just watching. "Of course it wasn't a coincidence. I knew Isaac would come to you."

"Okay," Stiles agreed. It was weird to be standing over Derek. Stiles sat down on the edge of the bed. There was less than a foot separating their knees, but Derek didn't move and didn't look away from him. "But Isaac was here like eight hours ago. You missed him."

Derek rolled his eyes. "I didn't miss him. I sent him home."

"So you have just been hanging out on my roof all day," Stiles concluded, and then he realized that Derek was wearing the same jeans from the day before--he could see where they were slashed on one thigh, and that darker black patch had to be blood--and a conspicuously new t-shirt, darkly black and showing fold-creases across his stomach. "And all night? You didn't even go home for a shirt? Were you, what, were you worried about me?" There had to be another reason, because Stiles didn't get things like that, didn't get people like Derek caring about him like that. It had to be that Derek felt bad about what he'd done. "Dude, the hospital didn't even believe I was hurt right away."

"The hospital couldn't smell you or hear your heartbeat," Derek said, finally looking away, and then back at Stiles, still frowning. Stiles swallowed and tried to breathe evenly. "You've been telling people I did it because I forgot what you were."

Stiles cringed, his stomach twisting. "It seemed like you did? It looked like you did, you were--"

"I did," Derek said. "I was."

Stiles's mouth hung open, because--oh.

Derek sat there and watched him in silence for a little longer and then Stiles said, higher pitched than he'd have liked, "So... pack?"

Derek huffed and folded forward, propping his elbows on his knees and scrubbing his hands over his face before looking up at Stiles again. Stiles couldn't help leaning in a little too, couldn't look away from Derek's gaze. Derek probably barely had to use wolf-senses to hear Stiles's heartbeat by now.

"I wasn't going to try to explain this yet," Derek said. "I figured it would go away and even if it didn't you would go away, or you'd ask for the bite so you could be just like your friends. Is that what you want?" Derek tilted his head and his voice got rougher, got that Alpha tone that made the hair stand up on the back of Stiles's neck.

"Do you want the bite? By this time tomorrow your shoulder could be perfectly healed, and you'd never be helpless like that again. You'd never have to question whether you were part of my pack."

Stiles stared, swallowing hard. "I thought--I thought I already--do I have to?"

Derek showed his teeth in a non-smile. "Do you have to."

"I mean, thanks!" Stiles said frantically, not wanting to ruin whatever this was. "For asking! But I--it seems like I can help more like this, sometimes, and I think I--" he remembered the mountain ash outside the club, the moment he made it work, made something that could stop Derek. It hadn't done much good in the end, but it had worked. Stiles had made it work.

"I think I'm supposed to be something else. Or I already am what I'm supposed to be, actually."

Derek leaned back a little, and without even saying anything he dropped that aggressive tone and Stiles could breathe again. "You are. I wasn't sure if you knew that, or if it would be more important to you than fitting in with your friends."

"I think I fit in just fine, judging by the amount of violence they're all willing to do on my behalf," Stiles pointed out, which made Derek's mouth go tight, and Stiles winced. He hadn't meant to bring up the fact that he'd incited Derek's pack to revolt. "So--what is this, then? Am I part of the pack? Is that a thing, can humans do that?"

Derek sighed. "There are three ways humans join a pack. One is to be born to it. There were humans in my family, before, born to werewolf parents but not wolves themselves. The second way is to be bitten."

Derek stopped there.

"So, I'm the third way," Stiles said, because that seemed to be where Derek was going.

Derek rubbed his forehead with the heel of his hand. "It's not what you think, Stiles. There's a difference between being a friend of a werewolf, or a friend of several werewolves, or even a friend of the pack, and being in the pack. It doesn't just mean your friends really do want you around."

"It's you, right," Stiles said, and Derek's head jerked up, like that wasn't obvious. "Because you're the alpha. Dude, you like me, you really like me!"

Derek gave Stiles this despairing, disgusted look, and Stiles stopped.

"I'm telling you this," Derek said, "because Peter's obviously already told Lydia, and sooner or later he'll tell you, and he'll use it somehow."

Derek stopped and stared down at his hands.

"You have to actually tell me, then," Stiles pointed out. "Because I don't think Peter told Lydia, you know...."

Derek looked up after Stiles trailed off, and Stiles raised both hands and said, "Dramatic silence," as he did his best spirit fingers.

Derek's hands were suddenly on his, holding them still, and Stiles froze in his grip. He relaxed again a second later--Derek was just holding him still, and Derek wasn't going to forget again, not like this, not now.

Derek huffed and let go. "You should be more scared of me than this."

"That wore off a while ago, man. Now I'm saving being scared for people who actually want to kill me. I mean, Scott tried killing me a few times and I was never really scared of him except when he was doing it."

"Scott was--" Derek stopped, shook his head, and moved to sit next to Stiles on the bed, his leg up against Stiles's, his shoulder pressed against Stiles's good shoulder.

Stiles looked over at Derek, who was glaring intently at the wall, and then looked at the wall and waited. He could wait. He could totally wait Derek out. He could be cool, or, failing cool, at least quiet. Pointedly quiet. Totally patient and not at all wondering where the hell Derek was going with this, because it kind of sounded like what Lydia had said Peter said was actually true, which meant--

Derek slapped his hand down on Stiles's knee, holding it still and also pressing it into Derek's knee. Derek's hand was warm, and his fingers were strong, and Stiles suddenly wasn't thinking about anything at all.

"I'm sorry I hurt you," Derek said, sounding flat and stilted, like he'd rehearsed the words too many times and they didn't even sound like words to him anymore. Stiles wondered if that was what he'd been doing for a night and a day, just practicing how to say he was sorry like a human being.

"Okay," Stiles said promptly. "Apology accepted. Like you said, you didn't mean to do it."

Derek shook his head. "But I still did it, Stiles, and I'm still a werewolf, and an alpha, and I'm still someone who doesn't think twice about hurting people--even people close to me, my pack, my--"

Family, Stiles thought, was probably the word Derek was choking on.

"Your friends are right," Derek said. "I'm a danger to you. Whatever Lydia does to me to avenge you won't matter that much if I hurt you worse the next time."

Stiles huffed. "What are you, the Hulk, now? You screwed up one time. And anyway, I'm not staying away from all my friends because I'm scared of you, which I'm not. And if you haven't noticed, you come looking for me half the time."

"You know you could keep me away from you," Derek said, and Stiles did know that. Mountain ash across the window sills, or even around the foundations of the house. He'd thought of it a few times, more in annoyance than fear.

"No," Stiles said stubbornly, because he liked this too much. He liked Derek too much, despite the threats and the occasional burst of intense pain and the general air of having been, well, raised by wolves. "I don't want you to go away. I want you to tell me why I'm part of the pack, and then I want to get on with being part of the pack."

"You're not," Derek said grimly. "But I think of you that way because I want to make you part of the pack someday. The third way for a human to join the pack is as a werewolf's mate."

For a second Stiles's brain lurched away from what he wanted to hear--Derek wanted to pair Stiles off with one of the others? Isaac?--and then every puzzle piece snapped into place at once.

"You and me?" Stiles yelped, and Derek looked over at him, finally sort of amused. Stiles felt half-drunk with sheer amazement. "You--I mean, mate, that's like, wolves mate for life, that's like--"

"This is why I wasn't going to tell you yet," Derek said, and Stiles abruptly understood what Derek had meant by I thought it would go away, or you would go away. "Obviously it's--we--it couldn't just start right there, and it's too soon anyway, you're too young."

Stiles made a scoffing noise, because, seriously, fuck that. "Too young to save your life? Too young to risk my life for you, for my friends, for the pack?"

"Too young to commit to doing that over and over again for the rest of your life," Derek said firmly.

Stiles blinked, feeling like he'd just crashed back to earth--the thought of his whole life being like the past winter gave him a panicky trapped feeling, and his mind whirled, looking for a way out.

And then he found it. "Hey, no, hold up, grimwolf. I remember before the fire. This kind of shit was not happening to your family all the time when I was a kid, even I would have noticed that."

Derek looked back at the wall, but he shrugged. "My family had established itself over generations. We had a very stable position in Beacon Hills. It will take decades to get back to that, if it's possible at all."

"Okay, but there's probably some middle ground between everyone trying to kill us all the time and being pillars of the freaking community! Come on, this is the fallacy of the excluded middle, you can't play me like that."

Derek ducked his head, but Stiles could see the corner of his mouth turning up.

"Ha!" Stiles said, poking Derek's shoulder triumphantly, "You totally love me for my brain, don't you. It's okay to admit that, I know I don't have much else going on compared to your pack of terrifyingly hot hotasses."

Derek actually looked over at him, frowning slightly. He looked Stiles up and down like he'd never seen him before, or hadn't realized until Stiles said that that he wasn't freakishly supermodel-hot.

"You're human," Derek said slowly. "You look human."

Stiles rolled his eyes. "Don't smother me with compliments, man, jeez, my ego will be out of control."

Derek put one hand over his face and said something into his palm that sounded like, "Sixteen, Christ."

Stiles winced. He wasn't really disproving Derek's too young argument being all insecure and jealous of the cool kids.

Derek dropped his hand and turned on the bed so he was actually facing toward Stiles; Stiles automatically twisted toward him, bracing himself for the incoming and this is why nothing is going to happen.

"In addition to all the logical reasons why you'll make a good mate when you're ready, if you choose to, maybe five or six years from now," Derek said, enunciating clearly, like Stiles wasn't hanging on every word even as they gutted him. Five or six years?

"I want you," Derek said, holding Stiles's gaze. "Now, just the way you are, I want you. The smell of you, the sound of you, the look of you, you drive me crazy. I'm not going to push you to do anything you're not ready--"

Stiles kind of lost control of his body at that point. It was probably entirely thanks to Derek that launching himself forward like that ended with Stiles straddling Derek's lap and pushing him down onto Stiles's pillow and not, like, both of them on the floor and someone getting concussed on the window sill.

"And I'm not going to risk hurting you," Derek said, like Stiles hadn't interrupted him. "If you want to do this, you're on top until I'm sure I won't get careless."

Stiles's vision actually kind of fuzzed out as all the blood in his body rushed to his dick; it was suddenly throbbing even more insistently than his shoulder, and Stiles was panting and blinking frantically, trying not to come from just the idea of what Derek was offering him.

"Yes," Derek said, like Stiles had asked him for something, like he could see or smell or hear everything Stiles wanted in one dazed expression. "But, here, first let me just--"

Derek raised his left hand and cupped it around Stiles's right elbow, through the sling, which made Stiles's breathing stutter and his eyes come back into focus. He wasn't scared of Derek hurting him, but the memory of the pain overrode everything for a few seconds.

"I can make it hurt a little less," Derek said. "If you want to be able to just--enjoy this."

Stiles grinned, wobbly and uncertain. "If I enjoy this any more I'm going to be all done in, like--it's going to be embarrassing."

"So yes," Derek interpreted, sliding his hand slowly up Stiles's upper arm, two fingers worming under the top of the sling to get under the short sleeve of his shirt. Stiles stopped breathing, watching Derek's face. He was frowning in concentration--it was the look he'd had yesterday minus all the annoyance, and they'd come full circle now, from hurting to--whatever Derek was about to do.

"What are you," Stiles said, and then Derek's fingertips reached the very edge of the bruising on Stiles's shoulder. Derek's eyes closed for a second and Stiles could feel something, a cool sensation like water pouring over his shoulder, not from but toward Derek's fingers. It took a second for him to realize that the pain was following that current, leaving his shoulder. The sudden absence of it--the knowledge that Derek was taking it away--made him gasp.

Derek's eyes opened again, knowing and intent, and Stiles's dick was ridiculously hard. Derek grinned, and his hand was suddenly gone from Stiles's shoulder and settling over Stiles's hard-on through his jeans.

Stiles made a completely involuntary noise and jerked into Derek's hand. He squeezed his eyes shut and let his weight fall forward into his hand on Derek's chest, and that was it, he was coming in his pants, grinding against Derek's palm.

Stiles pushed his chin into his chest, like he could hide what he'd just done, or the fact that all the blood that had just left his dick was now in his cheeks. "Sorry."

"Sixteen," Derek said, like Stiles had pronounced the word wrong, and took his hand away from Stiles's dick to pat him on the hip. "That just took the edge off, right? You're sixteen and your dad won't be home until midnight. We don't have to stop there if you don't want to."

Stiles looked up and Derek was smiling, actually smiling, and Stiles wanted to--

"Oh my God, you made me come before you even kissed me, you werewolf sex freak," Stiles realized, staring at Derek's mouth.

Derek licked his lips in a blatantly suggestive manner. "I was going to kiss you first. Next year, if you still weren't dating anyone and things had settled down a little. Kissing's not even a felony, so I figured--"

"Stop talking, why are you talking, you never talk," Stiles demanded, and lowered himself--with help--onto Derek, easing his right arm and the sling out of the way and squirming up until he could kiss him.

Kissing was complicated, though, because Stiles was also lying on top of Derek Hale, pressed against him from hips to chest, and Derek's hand was gently steadying Stiles's right arm. It was already sensory overload without Derek's mouth under his, Derek's tongue, the fascinating feel of Derek's teeth, human and blunt and always pulling away when Stiles pressed his lips or tongue against them.

Then Derek moved under him, and for just a second Stiles felt what had to be Derek's dick against his ass. Derek was hard, for him, for this--Derek wanted him. Stiles pushed up again, flailing a little as he went, which sent a sharp twinge of pain through his shoulder.

"Are you--can you--why are you still--" Stiles stuttered, waving his left hand at Derek and tucking his right against his side.

Derek's lips were parted, showing his tongue and teeth, which was incredibly distracting. Derek raised his eyebrows, and Stiles remembered where he'd been going with that.

"You know what I mean," Stiles insisted. "Take your clothes off!"

"If you insist," Derek agreed, and he reached down between Stiles's parted thighs to grab the hem of his shirt, curling up slightly off the bed as he pulled it off. He left his hands above his head. Stiles glanced up at him for permission before he set his left hand in the center of Derek's chest; Derek was just watching, but there was a flush peeking out from under his stubble. Stiles could feel the pounding of Derek's heart--unless that was just his own pulse beating in his fingertips--and Derek arched up the tiniest bit into the touch.

Stiles moved his hand up and down, just feeling the heat and softness of Derek's skin over muscle and bone. He couldn't resist tweaking Derek's nipple, which made Derek's mouth fall open a little farther but didn't make Derek move otherwise. Stiles felt a sudden hysterical urge to find out if Derek was ticklish, except that he'd gotten a bloody nose from tickling Scott even before Scott was a werewolf. Derek would probably call the whole thing off if he kicked Stiles in the face now.

Stiles ran his palm down Derek's abs--they sort of rippled as Derek twitched under him, and Stiles made a mental note to instigate an all-werewolf tickle fight sometime when he could watch from a safe distance--and then it occurred to him why Derek had had to buy that new t-shirt. He frowned, looking more carefully, but Derek was completely unmarked. Stiles dragged his hand down to Derek's right side, below the curve of his ribs.

"More to the side," Derek said quietly. "About two inches--there, your thumb's on it."

Stiles pressed with his thumb, but there was nothing, and Derek didn't wince away at all. Stiles wanted to kiss the spot--wanted to punch him there--wanted not to think about this in the middle of sex.

He shook his head and slid his hand down and in, onto Derek's treasure trail, his thumb at the top of Derek's jeans. He glanced up again. Derek's eyes were still the same uncertain hazel color, his teeth were still blunt, and he still had his hands above his head, holding on to his shirt.

"Whatever you want," Derek said, sounding just a little bit unsteady, and Stiles grinned and shifted his hand to cover Derek's dick through his jeans. Stiles heard Derek's breath catch, and Derek pushed up into Stiles's hand. The jeans were old and worn, and Stiles could feel the muscular flex of Derek's cock through the fabric, slid his hand down to cup Derek's balls and then back up to run just his fingertips over the length of Derek's cock. Derek moved under him in little involuntary-looking jerks of hips, trying to get friction, and Stiles could feel his own dick hardening again as he played around, exploring.

"Stiles," Derek said, and he sounded ragged. Stiles looked up, biting his lip at the realization that he'd just been treating Derek's hard-on like his own personal My First Penis Play Set instead of actually trying to get him off. Derek was biting his lip, and he shook his head a little when Stiles met his eyes, and unclenched his jaw to say, "No, it's fine. Whatever you want."

Stiles grinned again. "You need to work on the martyr routine if that's how you're gonna play it."

The button of Derek's jeans popped open pretty easily, but the zipper took a weird amount of concentration to get down left-handed, and Derek was squirming to get them down almost before Stiles had them open. He went still again when Stiles pushed a hand into his jockeys and got his hand on Derek's actual naked cock. He was uncut, which was going to deserve proper attention--and maybe some Googling for tips--at some point. For now Stiles figured jerking off couldn't be all that different, and he gave it his awkward left-handed best.

It didn't take long before Derek was arching up under him, hips completely off the bed and one thigh conveniently shoved up against Stiles's crotch. Stiles rocked down against it as he rubbed his thumb against the extra skin around the head of Derek's cock. Derek growled something that might have been Stiles's name and came in pulses over Stiles's fingers, spattering his own skin.

Stiles stayed kneeling up over him as Derek dropped flat on the bed. He frowned and then licked curiously at the come on his knuckles, only looking up when Derek made a weird, strangled noise. Stiles froze, fingers still pressed into his mouth. Derek looked a little bit dazed and a lot hungry, and when Stiles lowered his hand Derek caught it and tugged, sitting up enough to get his own tongue to Stiles's fingers, licking the spot he had licked and then sucking.

"Uh," Stiles said, because Derek's mouth, and his fingers, and his dick was hard all over again.

Derek tugged Stiles's fingers out of his mouth with a wet, dirty sound that made Stiles shiver with want. "My turn."

Stiles nodded, because whatever Derek meant, he was on board. Derek sat up and grabbed Stiles by the hips, moving him like a doll, too fast for Stiles to object. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, not quite sure how he got there, as Derek slid down to kneel between his feet.

"Okay?" Derek asked, looking up at him. Stiles nodded again and Derek took his hands away, putting them behind his back, and then he leaned in and pressed his face into Stiles's crotch like--no, actually nothing at all like a dog because oh god, Stiles could not help grinding against him.

Derek shifted back and said, "Gimme a hand?"

Stiles yanked the button open and zipper down much faster this time, and then Derek was licking Stiles through his boxers, making Stiles acutely conscious of the wet mess his boxers already were. Derek just made a happy noise, and his shoulders flexed but his hands stayed behind his back.

Stiles pushed his own boxers down without prompting--Derek shifted back smoothly so Stiles didn't actually hit him in the eye with his dick or anything--and then Derek leaned back in, licking again, cleaning him off in little hot wet touches that made Stiles shake and whimper but didn't quite push him over the edge.

"Derek," he said, when he didn't think he could take it anymore without bursting out of his own skin, and Derek looked up at him and smiled.

"Oh, fuck you," Stiles snapped immediately, grabbing Derek by the hair and tugging him closer.

But the next second Derek's mouth closed on Stiles's dick, and Stiles was willing to forgive him pretty much anything--teasing, excessive mysteriousness, shoulder dislocation, all of it. He couldn't even identify what Derek was doing or what it felt like, it was just good, mind-meltingly good.

Stiles was pretty sure he was telling Derek that--he knew he was talking and it had to be about Derek's mouth on his dick because there was nothing else in the universe--except Derek pulled off suddenly. His lips were shiny-wet and he was smiling and saying, "What was that about my ears?"

"Uh," Stiles said, and tried to play it back, but it was just noise in his head. "I meant--more? Please?"

Derek nodded and went down on him again, and it was different this time, faster and hotter and tighter and more. Stiles bucked up into Derek's mouth and Derek just moaned and let him, hands still behind his back, so Stiles did it again and again, past caring if this was polite or if he was doing it right, past anything except the fact that it felt so good and Derek was letting him, Derek wanted him. He could have gotten off just on that fact, but Derek's mouth was definitely doing its share.

He was already coming when it occurred to him that he should have said something, but Derek sucked him through it without pausing. When it started to feel weird--sort of ticklish-painful and way too much--Stiles pushed him away.

Derek climbed up onto the bed and Stiles flopped down next to him, and they both just lay there for a little while, catching their breath; Stiles was vaguely pleased that Derek was breathing hard too. Stiles stared up at the ceiling, but he could feel Derek watching him, and it occurred to him after a while that he should probably say something.

He looked over at Derek, who was looking back--not smiling, but not very far from it, either.

"So if I'm too young for the whole mate-for-life thing, then this is just... dating, right?"

Derek shrugged one shoulder and nodded slightly. "If that's what you want."

"So I'm not in the pack yet," Stiles said, looking back up at the ceiling. "But I'm, like, going steady with it?"

He looked sideways for Derek's reaction just as the pillow smacked into his face, and he was already laughing as he pushed it away.