Deaton's the one who gives Stiles the idea at first.
He's running through what is best described as magical oh shit drills, like the psychic equivalent of running suicides for three hours. Stiles is on his fifth round of setting up a ward on the ground, no compass to find north, fast as he can and with Deaton playing numbers stations at ear blasting levels and sometimes poking him with a stick. Stiles grits his teeth and bears it, because there could be a lot riding on his ability to set up a ward under pressure. It's better than the day he spent blindfolded and being spun around in circles until he nearly threw up, learning to know where north was. He doesn't have a werewolf's sense of direction, but he got pretty good at it. Deaton says he might make a good dowser someday, if he has a chance to study for it.
Stiles doesn't want to be a dowser. He wants to survive.
"That reminds me," says Deaton, turning down the creepy child voice reciting "1. 3242352. 32. 543636. 489075. 343. 20934. 5." and looming over Stiles, just at the edge of his peripheral vision. "I have something for you."
Stiles lets three precise drops of pennyroyal oil drop in the center of the of the star drawn in mountain ash and claps his hands.
The ward flares up and subsides to a warm, white glow.
"Great," says Stiles, looking up. "I love presents."
"It's not a present," says Deaton.
"Even better," sighs Stiles, but begins to disassemble the ward.
"DUDE," says Stiles, bursting into the room where Derek is trying to read, and coming to a stumbling stop a foot away from Derek, "I have the best idea for Halloween."
"No," says Derek.
Stiles scowls. "I want to be a werewolf, and someone else can be Red Riding Hood."
"Jesus Christ, no no no," says Derek.
"It'll be fun," says Stiles.
"I know you don't listen to me, but no. No. No. No," says Derek.
"Come on, it will be hilarious, dude, even you must think so," says Stiles.
"It will be terrible," says Derek flatly.
"Derek Oliver Hale, I don't care any more, I am going to be a werewolf and one of your band of merry mayhem makers is gonna be Red Riding Hood for Halloween, so you'd better wolf up and find a red hoodie," says Stiles.
"How -- who the hell told you my middle name?" says Derek, but he doesn't say that this is a terrible idea and will end in tears, because Stiles already knows that.
"Would you believe Peter did?" says Stiles, and then, "No, no, stop baring your teeth at me, Jesus Christ, I looked it up at the station, Mr Person of Interest. I'll have fangs and glowy eyes and claws, it will be the awesomest."
"Isn't that going to be expensive?" says Derek, on a last ditch effort. He had acquaintances into that cosplay shit in New York, and he remembers hearing about the prices of things like contacts and fangs for whatever it was they were into. Homesomething. There were trolls, which Derek had briefly been interested in -- in a wary way -- but it hadn't been real trolls after all.
"See," said Stiles, "Chris Argent said it was traditional for them to offer weregeld or whatever for someone in their clan attacking a presumably mostly innocent party, but what I heard was 'oh God don't tell your dad my cancerous, probably demented father beat the ever loving fuck out of you because you hang out with werewolves'."
"Hey does Peter owe Scott --" begins Stiles, and then stops. "Never mind, I'll just hold it over his head instead."
"You hold everything over Peter's head," says Derek, half resentful, half grateful, and Stiles says,
"Someone's got to," and then, "ANYWAY, I said to myself, if I had to pay a teenager money to keep him from telling his sheriff father about how my creepy dad beat the shit out of him because he hung around werewolves, what would I least want him to spend it on? Don't say hookers and blow." He spreads his hands out. "Werewolf cosplay, am I right?"
"You are demented," Derek tells him.
"That's nice," says Stiles. "Mall. Red jacket with hood. Go now."
"Stiles wants to be a werewolf for Halloween," says Derek. There are so many things wrong with this that he can't even begin to list them.
Peter thinks about this for a minute. He licks his lips and says: "Does he need a jacket?"
Derek tries really hard not to flash fang at his actual uncle but -- "He's half your age!"
"So?" says Peter. Derek really wants to go find the old hose behind the house and turn it on him, full blast, like Laura used to do when Derek pissed her off. The water was always cold, except in midsummer when the rubber heated up in the sun, and then it was just a burning blast of hot-rubber smelling water followed by an icy, rusty stream. It probably wouldn't do any good. Peter's still going to be thinking about Stiles wearing his leather jacket and the way it would smell of him, more and more faintly, but still delicious, for days. Maybe weeks if he only wore the jacket once or twice.
Derek is not thinking about that at all, because Derek has enough problems. It's bad enough when Stiles rides in Derek's car and the passenger seat smells like tea and fried potatoes and hypoallergenic soap and Stilesness until one of the others rides with Derek and covers it up. "He's not going to want to wear your jacket," he says positively.
Stiles does not like Peter. Stiles has invented a method of wolfsbane dispersal especially for Peter. The only other person allowed to know how it works is Lydia, and they have complicated and secret rules about when they spray Peter like a misbehaving cat, so Peter has to be constantly on alert and on his best behavior. Stiles says none of the mixes are fatal, or even really harmful beyond temporary annoyance and pain, but it is generally understood that pissing off Stiles or Lydia is a bad idea.
Derek secretly kind of enjoys it, beyond the fact that he willingly spends time with people who are smart enough and mean enough to invent werewolf squirty bottles and use them. It sort of reminds him of how his human cousins would bite and kick while they tussled, harder than the werewolves dared.
Stiles isn't going to wear Peter's jacket, he tells himself again. Stiles doesn't understand what wearing someone else's clothes like that means to a wolf, but he knows enough to refuse if Peter offers.
"But it should fit all right," argues Peter. "It should fit really well, and I think if he's going to go as a werewolf, he should have a jacket that --"
Derek bares his fangs, daring Peter to say another word. Peter steals Derek's coffee cup and slinks back to his den, probably to have creepy fantasies of Stiles' pale neck above a dark leather jacket's collar and how biting and sucking a mark there would stand out, purple-red and sweet, the way the smell of Stiles would rise up and mix with the owner's own scent from the jacket --
Derek goes to put his own head under the sink.
Stiles drives Derek home the next night and when Derek leaves the car his leather jacket stays on the seat. Stiles hesitates for a minute, but Derek is already loping off toward the half-ruined house. It's not like Derek doesn't have another jacket. Derek has at least three, Stiles is sure.
He tells himself that he means to teach Derek a lesson about not leaving his shit in Stiles' Jeep, and drives away. The leather smells nice, when he picks it up and carries it into the house, and it takes a real effort not to bury his nose in it like a creep.
Anyway now he doesn't have to buy a jacket for the werewolf costume, which is good because Chris Argent's money is only going so far in the face of hilariously expensive contacts and dental prostheses. He should be doing something sensible with the money -- and he did put aside some of it, but there's not a lot he can do to explain how he got it without breaking the news to his dad about werewolves and -- he just can't deal with it right now.
He'll give the jacket back afterward.
Allison's dressing as Katniss because crossbows, and Scott is dressing as … something involving fake blood which smells like mint and Red 40, even to Stiles. He's not sure how anybody is around Scott without reeling back and clawing their noses off. Boyd and Erica are wearing a shirt that says THIS IS MY COSTUME and a black and orange bustier -- not one each, but one wearing the shirt, which is very tight, and one wearing the bustier, which is holy mother of fuckkkkk. Isaac has ram's horns set on his head,which works because he has adorable sheepy curls and looks like an angel instead of an apex predator. Lydia's going to be some sort of fairy, Stiles knows because she dragged him out to offer opinions on it. It's all very lavender and pale green and sparkly with hair extensions and glitter all over her shoulders. Jackson is going as a vampire, because what the hell, he already looks like Edward Cullen.
Nobody knows what Danny is going as but Stiles is secretly hoping it will be as some sort of Hawaiian god and he will wear nothing but a printed loincloth and maybe some lei around his neck. A boy can dream.
Derek is standing around looking like he hates everything and everyone, but he's wearing a red hooded jacket -- not just an ordinary one from GAP or Old Navy, but one that looks like it's from Macy's or Nordstrom, with buckles over the shoulders and black piping and braided strings to the hood. He's wearing grey under it, of course, because he's still Derek Hale, and tight black jeans and Doc Martens. Lydia's gonna kick his ass because he doesn't even look dressed up.
"Hey, guys," says Stiles, lifting the mask up. There's a weird thing going on with the eye sockets, made weirder by the flashes of gold he sees out of the corner of his eyes with the contacts in. He's not sure what's in the eyes, some sort of thin glass or fabric, but it sort of blurs his vision into soft, red edges.
There's a shocked second where everybody stares at Stiles like he's the heroine of an eighties romcom and has just been released from the hands of the makeover team and is floating into the ballroom. Like, he knows he wears a lot of layers and stuff usually, but people, and by that he means Peter and a little bit Erica, are staring really hard at his crotch.
Derek is not. Derek is staring rigidly at the wall and grinding his teeth.
"Grrr," says Stiles experimentally. Nobody flinches, sadly, but the vein in Derek's temple throbs, like he's personally offended that Stiles thinks that is an actual growl. He lowers the mask. "Come on, it wasn't that bad."
"Holy crap," says Scott, "You have fangs!"
"The internet is an amazing place," says Stiles. "San Francisco is even more amazing. The guy was really encouraging about me exploring my identity as otherkin, I felt really validated."
Peter is suddenly beside him, sniffing the air just above Stiles' shoulder. Stiles jerks back and pulls out his sprayer. Peter puts his hand down absently and says, "Is that Derek's jacket?"
"You leave it in my Jeep, it's mine," says Stiles. "Isn't that right, Scott?"
"Where did you get your pants?" says Erica, circling around him. "I didn't know you knew where to get pants that fit."
"Well, I went to Old Navy and Tyra saw me," says Stiles, rubbing the back of his head. "And there was a really uncomfortable discussion about my ass and we went to many, many different stores, and I don't want to talk about it any more."
Isaac reaches out and touches the mask that Stiles is still holding. "Where did you get this? It looks really expensive."
"Deaton gave it to me," says Stiles. Deaton, as usual, had been talking around something that Stiles hadn't understood, but he likes the mask. He likes the way it felt when he put it on, not like he was a wolf, but that -- that he could be one. He likes wearing the fangs and even the contacts. He likes the flash of amber in the corner of his peripheral vision.
"So what is Derek, then?" says Boyd finally. "Red Riding Hood?"
"It's a little weird seeing him in color," says Erica.
Derek hunches up his shoulders. He has a hard time seeing red, especially now that he's an alpha. Laura had always made fun of him for it and then fussed and picked out his clothing for him anyway. It was fine. He prefered grey and black anyway. But he'd had to ask for help because he couldn't tell if the jacket was a true, bloody red, or a magenta red (a color he's still not sure actually exists) and -- it had been embarrassing.
Peter looks over and his eyebrows shoot up. "You make a convincing faoladh," he says to Derek, who glowers at him.
"Fa what now?" says Stiles.
"Faoladh," says Peter. "It's a word for a person who isn't a wolf."
"Isn't that a regular human?" says Isaac.
"No," says Derek. It's hard to explain the nuance of the word, but the betas are looking at him curiously and Stiles is waiting, so he tries. "It's a person that walks with wolves," he says. "An outlaw, a trickster, someone who is like a wolf but isn't one. That's what Mom told me it meant." Someone who held their wolf so close and dear they didn't fear the moon.
"Close enough," says Peter.
"So it's like a human pack member?" says Isaac.
"No," says Derek. faoladh aren't human, and they aren't wolf, either: they live outside the boundaries of both and pass through them as they please. It's not an easy thing, walking the shadows and borders as the faoladh do. Eventually most of them chose to be human, or to be wolf, and passed into that world.
Derek thinks that Stiles will choose the human world, even if he wears the mask of a faoladh now.
"He needs the mask, though," says Peter.
"I'm not wearing a wolf mask," says Derek.
"That would be a little weird," says Stiles. He holds it out to Derek anyway, who takes it reluctantly. The mask smells like wood and paper, maybe animal skin, and when Derek lifts it to look through the eye holes he can't see clearly. It's not blurry, exactly, but faceted, as if he was looking through a kaleidoscope. He shivers.
"I've never seen one of those up close," says Peter. He looks at Stiles, and when Stiles shrugs, reluctant, he takes it from Derek and examines it closely, more closely than Derek had dared, even going so far as to lift it to his nose and sniff it, parting his lips and breathing the air around the mask thoroughly. When he looks through the eye holes his eyes flash gold. "It's very beautiful," he says, handing it back to Stiles. "You should take care of it."
Stiles doesn't exactly jerk his wrist away, and Peter doesn't try to hold onto it when Stiles pulls away, but Derek growls anyway, sub-vocal.
Peter's not going to the party with them. He says he's too old for parties and he'd rather stay home and give treats to good children, with a look from under his eyelashes at Stiles that makes Derek choke down a growl, make him want to make Peter back off and stop looking at Stiles like that, and makes Stiles look unimpressed.
The party is at Lydia's house, and she, or her minions, have decorated it in oranges and golds and blacks, with copious amounts of fake cobwebs and a hideously ugly fabric witch that lets out ear piercing cackles whenever someone gets within three feet of it. Most everybody there, except for the pack, are people from the high school and younger students from the college, all either pretending to enjoy themselves because they were after all cool enough to be invited to a party hosted by Lydia Martin, or drunk. Maybe there were some people who were genuinely having a good time, but Derek doesn't like the weird strobe lights and the decorations' motion-activated sounds make his head hurt, so he doesn't know.
The punch tastes like cheap vodka and food coloring mixed with sugar, and the sweets are mostly dyed orange and black. There are some plain popcorn balls and rabbit food things, carrots and bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. He's not even touching the vegetables, and he hates the flavor of food dye, so he takes a popcorn ball and burrows further into a corner well away from the plastic skeleton singing the first two lines of "Monster Mash" and cackling, and watches the party. He hasn't had a popcorn ball since the time Laura made them because their mother always had.
These aren't terrible.
Derek smells Stiles approaching before he sees him: new jeans with indigo dye that hasn't washed off yet, a little like the punch, leather and Derek's own scent mingling with Stiles'. It's weird to smell himself like that -- wolves, like humans, don't usually know what their own scent is, but it's very clear when mixed with Stiles' own scent like it is now. A darker, colder sort of smell: wet ashes and sea-salt, and maybe fallen leaves. It mixes with Stiles' scent surprisingly well, and Derek tongues at his fangs and thinks, control, control, control.
"You look like you're having a super great time," says Stiles. He actually does look like he's having a good time; he's a little flushed and smells very faintly of alcohol and like he's been dancing with people, not even just the pack.
"The greatest," Derek says, dry.
"It is a little loud," says Stiles. "Boyd brought ear plugs." He holds them out to Derek but Derek shakes his head. He has to be able to hear things clearly, even if all he's hearing is Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. "Fine," says Stiles. "You want to get some air?"
"It's okay, dude," says Stiles. "I want some fresh air too. Come on, the backyard here is like, super huge, we can get away from that freaking witch for a minute."
Derek follows Stiles out, which is probably some sort of terrible, extended metaphor for their lives, but it's better outside. It doesn't smell like humans crowded in a too-small space, for one thing.. There's Japanese lanterns decorated with skulls strung up on the patio, but beyond that is just the cool October air and darkness. Derek takes a deep breath and lets it out again.
"I didn't realize how hot it was getting in there," says Stiles. Derek looks over and realize that he's shrugging off the jacket half off his shoulders. There's a bead of sweat caught in the dip between his collar bones, sliding down toward the low neck of his shirt. It looks delicious, and Derek wants to lick it up and mouth at Stiles' long neck, the line of his throat, all over his Adam's apple. He takes a step forward before he realizes what he's doing.
"So seeing me as a werewolf does it for you?" says Stiles. His voice isn't bitter, exactly, but Derek flinches anyway.
"No," he says.
"Really?" says Stiles. He takes a step forward, and then another step, because Stiles is always braver than Derek, and says, "You've been staring at me all night. Come on, even the others are treating me like a wolf tonight."
Derek says, "You're wearing my jacket."
Stiles steps closer, beginning to crowd into Derek's space. Derek backs up into the patio railing, and Stiles stops about five inches away. It's too close. It's too far. Derek looks away. Stiles isn't being aggressive, for a human, but Derek is torn between pushing back or lowering his head. Stiles smells delicious and Derek's mouth is watering again. "Stiles," he says, warningly.
"You're not working very hard at stopping me," says Stiles.
"You're wearing my jacket," says Derek again, lifting his hand to touch the smooth leather. "It -- we don't usually do that. It's something that means --"
Stiles stares at him. "But you're wearing red," he says, which shouldn't make sense but red is Stiles' color, and always has been. If there's something red at the house it belongs to Stiles and none of the others will even touch it.
"So," says Derek.
"Yeah," says Stiles, and takes the last step Derek won't -- can't -- take, crowding into him and breathing in his face and then saying, "wait, wait, fuck -- " and opens his mouth wide to take out the fangs. He fishes out a case from his tight jeans and puts the fangs carefully into it and back into his pocket.
"The guy said you could do almost anything in them, but -- you're laughing at me," says Stiles, accusing, and Derek buries his face in the warmth of Stiles' shoulder and shakes with it.
"It's really not that funny," says Stiles, "I know you're pretty weird but that's taking the werewolf scene a little too far. What if I bit you?"
Derek shakes harder, a choke of laughter escaping him.
"Okay, that's a stupid question, but seriously!" Stiles shoves at Derek, and Derek puts his hands on Stiles' hips, just where his shirt is riding up and exposing his warm skin. "You're an asshole. I don't know if I want to kiss you any more."
Derek snickers helplessly.
"Okay, I probably do," admits Stiles, his cold hands sliding up under Derek's red jacket and stroking his back. "I definitely do. I --"
Derek kisses him, tasting the cheap vodka and punch, the sweetness of the candy he ate (Stiles probably ate three quarters of the candy) and underneath, just Stiles, opening his mouth to Derek but not yielding. He's giving as good as he gets, and Derek loses himself in greed, enjoying Stiles' mouth and the shape of his jaw and the sweet throbbing pulse at his neck. Stiles is pushing closer, grinding against him, and Derek spreads his legs and pulls him in.
"Ah," says Stiles, digging his fingers in, and Derek hisses as Stiles' false claws pierce his skin, just barely, just barely enough -- "Shit! Derek, are you okay? I didn't mean to --"
"Stiles," says Derek, "shut the hell up."
"No," says Stiles, just to be contrary. "Bossy. I should just --"
Derek sets his teeth against Stiles' neck, not hard enough to mark, not even denting the skin,and Stiles shudders, hard, and makes a sound in his throat that sounds so delicious that Derek licks over his throat to make Stiles make it again. He wants to get Stiles' jacket off, and his shirt, and he wants to see how far that blotchy flush runs down Stiles's body. He says, "No, you won't."
"No," says Stiles thickly, "I won't." He sucks in a breath and says, "Oh my god, we're in Lydia's back yard, Derek, stop, I'm gonna --"
Good, thinks Derek, with a sudden twist of vicious satisfaction, Good, I want everybody in that room to know -- but he's not a wolf, not entirely, and he can be human too. "We should go then."
"Yeah," says Stiles, and he takes Derek's hand, his fingers interlocking with Derek's, long and scarred and beautiful, and pulls Derek toward the door. "Let's go."