It takes Derek a shameful amount of time to notice what’s happening.
He knows they’re all tired, tense, and more than a little scared. There’s enough of all three rolling off the others that he doesn’t need to be in the same room to smell it, to feel it.
The Alphas wanted them off balance, pushed and provoked until the armor - the pack - started to crack under the strain, and that’s exactly what they’ve gotten.
But he can’t help but think that’s not an excuse. He’s known all along that Peter, more than anyone else, can’t be trusted. He should’ve been watching, kept him out of the way more. Relied on him less. Something.
He’s spread too thin, they all are. Run ragged and ground down.
But still, he should’ve been watching, kept a closer eye on Peter. Or Stiles.
He should’ve been watching Stiles.
They all but drag themselves into the house, the tang of blood and musky sweat following, heavy in the air around each of them.
No one was killed, but Stiles already pointed out that if that’d been the point of the Alphas luring them into an ambush, then none of them would be talking about it anyway.
Derek actually doesn’t know what’s worse; the injuries, the fact that they were so clearly outfought, or the knowledge that they’re only alive because the Alphas hadn’t considered them worth killing.
Erica drags Boyd off to an empty room without a word, pulls at the few remaining, bloodied shreds of his shirt until she can get at the wood fragments and earthy debris littering the slices down his ribs and slowing down his healing.
Peter stalks off to what had been the kitchen, comes back with a bag of medical supplies Stiles had either persuaded out of Scott’s mother or just lifted from the hospital himself, Derek’s still not sure. He kicks it so it skids over the floorboards until Isaac snags it, tugs it open and bats Erica’s hands out of the way to get at Boyd’s wounds, ignoring her low growl the way he never would have a short while ago.
Derek turns and his eyes collide with Stiles, still standing near the door with a vacant expression and his baseball bat propped between his hand and the floor. The smell of wolfsbane is bitter and irritating, even under the blotted smears of blood streaking the wood.
“Stiles?” Derek prods, feet clenching in his boots like he can hold himself in place.
Stiles doesn’t jump, or twitch, or really move at all, but his eyes slowly track around to Derek, and they clear a little once they reach him. In the barely-there light, the smudges of earth on his skin are hardly darker than the circles that show his lack of sleep, rips in the fabric of his clothes and blood that may or may not be his.
Stiles blinks at him, exaggerated and slow. “Hmm? Yeah I... I’ll uh. What?”
Derek sighs, and tries to focus on the smells that aren’t the wolfsbane soaked into the bat as he walks up to him. Sweat, blood, night air, the fading sourness of adrenaline and fear. Anger.
“You should go home,” he says, slowly and deliberately, looking down the meagre distance between their eyelines. It’s exactly what he’s supposed to say.
Stiles blinks again, a little owlish and still bleary, then nods. “Yeah, I should. I should definitely do that.” He doesn’t move, other than to frown a little. “Hey, where’d I leave my Jeep?”
“You can’t let him drive,” Isaac pipes up from where he’s kneeling on the floor, next to Boyd with one hand pressed to the gash that stretches down over Boyd’s shoulder, with Erica pulling bark from his back. Boyd hasn’t made a sound, and his eyes are clear. He’ll be fine, Derek reminds himself. “Seriously Derek, look at him. He’s barely standing.”
Stiles’ complete lack of any protest speaks to that more than anything he could’ve said. Derek tracks down the Camaro’s keys and tries to nudge Stiles outside without coming into contact with the bat.
“Hey, hey, easy wolfboy,” Stiles mutters when Derek steers him to the car with a hand on his shoulder, Stiles absently scratching at drying mud on his cheek. There’s a patch of grime at the back of his neck, near the collar, sitting right over the uppermost bumps of his spine.
Derek has to all but buckle him into the seat, Stiles’ head lolling back and his eyes fluttering, like he’s fighting the urge to pass out then and there.
He looks much too small, too still, folded into the seat with his knees drawn up and head tipped back, pale light on paler flesh. Derek wants to lie to himself; to say that he’ll leave Stiles out of this from now on, like that’s something he has control over. Like he’s ever been able to push Stiles into doing anything he didn’t want to do.
But he knows that even if he could, he wouldn’t. He saw Stiles swing that stupid baseball bat, heard the crunch of an Alpha’s bones beneath it, saw the satisfied, tilted smile on Stiles’ mouth just after.
He’s one of them now, claws or not. More pack than Scott, than Peter. Maybe more than Erica or Boyd, since they backtracked on their plan to leave.
Stiles runs, but he runs toward, never away. And that above anything is what’s gonna get him killed, because Derek can’t keep a handle on his own territory; can’t stop what’s only in motion because of him.
“I could take him back, you know,” Peter’s voice floats over the air, and Derek grits his teeth as Peter steps out of the shadow of the house. He hadn’t even heard him coming. He never does, unless Peter lets him. He forces back the shift, tries to buy into the lie that Peter isn’t a random threat sneaking up on him. There’s nothing random in anything Peter does now.
“I’ll do it,” he grunts as he clicks the passenger’s door closed and steps around the car, ignores Peter’s falsely easy stance, the smirk that’s obvious even in Derek’s peripheral, basically a permanent feature now.
“Somehow I thought you’d say that,” Peter says, and he starts back up the steps, turns as Derek’s swinging into the car. “Drive safe, nephew,” he drawls before he vanishes inside, and Derek managed to stop himself from gripping the keys so hard they bend.
Stiles’ house is dark when they get there, and even though Stiles is mostly alert when he moves out of the car and through the front door, Derek doesn’t drive off until lights flick on across the ground floor and up to the next, like yellow-gold dominos falling diagonally. When he manages to pick up the sound of the shower running, he almost stays to make sure Stiles doesn’t drown, or slip and hit his head, or a million other things he could do to damage himself right now.
But there’s a distinct feeling of ‘this is something Peter would do’ about the silent listening in, and he presses his foot into the gas pedal like it’ll prove a point.
The same point he supposes he’s making when he gets back, and Peter almost immediately asks “I take it Stiles made it to bed safe and sound?” in a tone that drips with amusement, and Derek walks past him without a second glance.
Stiles would really, really love it if someone would give Peter Hale a lecture on personal space.
He doesn’t know what Peter was like before the fire, since that’s not a topic that’ll be okay to broach anytime in the next millenia, but he gets the impression from the constantly worn and trodden down look Derek wears around the guy that it wasn’t… this.
This, being crowding teenage boys against the doorframes of shoddy bathrooms, when they stink like mud and terror and would really like to get some of the lukewarm water before the werewolves use it all.
He’d get a way better shower at home, but now he’s already sailed the “I’m sleeping over at Scott’s because he needs help with schoolwork” boat, he can’t exactly face his dad covered in mud and bruises and all the things he’s come to associate with Derek’s Pack vs. Alpha Pack: The Tumult in the Trees.
Peter gives him another smile, and Stiles just doesn’t know if he’s always been this shifty, or if that’s something that comes with insanity or resurrection or both.
“You’re sure you don’t need help?” he asks, low and boring into Stiles’ ears. He wishes he’d waited until he was in the bathroom to tug his filthy shirt off.
“Completely sure, thanks,” he rattles off. “Don’t you have, I dunno, some other creeping to do? Snide comments to make? Fashion choices to mock?”
“I just wanted to make sure you were alright,” Peter insists. “That was quite a tumble you took down that bank, and humans can be so… fragile, you understand.”
“Well you’d know,” Stiles points out, flattening the tremor in his voice even harder than his back against the door. There’s still a subtle shake in both though.
“You were very brave tonight, Stiles,” Peter says, and it should sound like sarcasm, or maybe a grudging compliment. Anything that isn’t a come-on, really. “A little reckless perhaps, but then I suppose that’s the result of courage isn’t it? I’d expect nothing less from someone who’s caught Derek’s eye so… effectively.”
Stiles sputters before he can swallow it back, and Peter’s eyes track his mouth.
“No idea what you think you’re-”
“I think you do,” Peter says, “I think you know very well. I think there’re a lot of things you know; and see; and feel.”
“Okay standing a little close now,” Stiles murmurs as Peter’s breath washes over his cheek. His heart’s pounding, and he knows Peter can hear it, can probably smell the flush that’s warming his cheeks, the prickle of his skin and the feeling he’s never, ever calling arousal ever.
“Oh but we always end up here, don’t we?” Peter says, the faint scratch of his nails on the wooden frame loud next to Stiles’ ear. “You could’ve gone to your friends, or simply gone home. But you stayed. You waited. Were you waiting for me, Stiles?”
Stiles pushes against the centre of Peter’s chest, and he knows the space Peter gives him is nothing more than that; something surrendered voluntarily.
He makes himself look into Peter’s eyes. “I don’t see anything worth waiting for,” he says, with every tiny scrap of honest distrust and outright dislike he can find, wields it like a blunt object.
Peter’s smirk doesn’t even waver, and when he leans closer again Stiles is expecting him to smell like ash.
“Is that what you want?” Peter asks hushed and like a snake hissing. “For me to prove something to you?” He sounds so totally pleased by the idea that Stiles already regrets saying anything, trying not to think about whatever ideas Peter’s getting from that.
“I don’t want anything from you,” he forces out, and then regrets it the moment Peter’s eyes crease with his widening smile; a predators grin.
“You know,” Peter murmurs, considering, and Stiles can’t control the shiver as a finger strokes down the side of his neck. “One day, you might actually be able to say that to me, and have it not sound like a lie.” The finger stops right against the jumping pulse at the base of his throat, and that flush rolls hotter across his skin as his breath stutters in his chest. And he just knows Peter’s catalogued it all.
“Your heart, Stiles,” Peter says, shaking his head a little. “It betrays you, every time.”
He says it like advice, or maybe even pity, and Stiles makes himself lean in, despite the feeling of sticking his head into a shark’s mouth. “Says the man who doesn’t have one,” he says. That smile forms again.
“Some of us have heart,” Peter muses, his thumb fitting to the curve of Stiles’ neck, that one finger stroking back and forth over the thrumming of his heartbeat. “And some rely on the mind. And sometimes, there are the rare and special few, who have both in equal measure.” His eyes are deep and, not inviting, but magnetic; the spark of danger and the electric prickle of lurking darkness.
Stiles’ heart halt-skips again, the hair at the back of his neck tingling and the air sitting heavy in his chest, like Peter’s looming shape is eating the space between them, this vacuum of would-be sensation.
“Y-You wanna back up a little there, huh?” he manages to say, and at least he doesn’t visibly wince at the audible crack in his voice.
Peter tips his head to the side, almost considering, and Stiles is so sure he’s not gonna move. That he’s just gonna hold Stiles there with the air getting hotter and his breath coming shorter until he either hyperventilates or spontaneously combusts. Or until he creams himself, he thinks, more than a little hysterically. He can’t make Peter move, not with any amount of loose-footed bravado or with the largest lever in the universe.
Stiles figures there’s no place sturdy enough where Archimedes could’ve stood that would’ve let him move Peter Hale.
But Peter steps back, and the added… fondness, on his face is just that much more disturbing. One step, another. That familiar smirk.
It doesn’t feel like he’s any further away.
“Soon,” Peter says, tugging at his collar and rolling his shoulders, almost lazily. Menace sliding off his face, replaced with a menace he can hide easier, Stiles thinks. “Sooner than you think, Stiles.”
Then he’s gone, and Stiles drops back against the wall like it’s more solid than it was just a few seconds ago, letting out a shaky breath.
He’s definitely, absolutely not thinking off the heavy, liquid heat settling somewhere in the pit of his stomach, or the blood-fuelled pulse between his legs.
And when he wraps a wet hand around the burning stiffness of his dick, comes slick and warm over his fingers with a muted grunt, slumped against grimy tile under a barely tepid stream of water, he tries to focus on the bright white haze of his orgasm rather than the thoughts that led him to it.
The first time Derek gets confronted with the idea that maybe there’s something more going on than just Peter’s mind games, he’s been awake for four days, spent two of those running, and another one trying to stop Scott from getting himself killed. The Alphas have finally noticed that he’s not part of Derek’s pack, but he isn’t an ordinary, weak omega either. They’d decided he was either a threat or a curiosity, and all Derek had gotten after he’d painted a bright enough target on himself to distract them from Scott was a bare second of awkward silence.
So when he sees Peter with his hand clasping Stiles wrist and his eyes locked to the slack, pink bow of Stiles’ mouth, he’s not entirely surprised that he hauls Peter back far enough to slam him into the far wall, and press a forearm against his throat, the red colouring his vision attributed to more than just the Alpha’s flare.
His instincts are pressing at him, just under his skin. To snarl and growl the way he’d had to to control the betas after he’d first turned them. He wants to claw and rend and shred until he doesn’t feel like he’s willingly presenting his back for Peter to slip the knife in. Those instincts always rear up around Peter, moreso even than the members of the Alpha Pack they’ve encountered. And there’s no way that’s a coincidence.
“What d’you think you’re doing?” he growls, so low it’s almost subvocal, grits it out between teeth that’re literally aching to become fangs, pressing against Peter’s throat harder in punctuation.
“I was just-,” Peter chokes out, and Derek presses harder again to silence him, because he knows that if he gives Peter an inch he’ll grab up every mile he can see.
“Derek.” Stiles voice, wary and painfully quiet, pushes into Derek’s ears. “Derek it’s fine, he wasn’t… it’s fine,” he says again, and Peter somehow manages a condescending look even though Derek can hear the rasping, dry clicks of his throat, can feel the convulsions against his forearm as Peter tries to swallow.
“I sprained my wrist, okay?” Stiles says, holding his arm up so the reddened, slightly swollen skin of his wrist is in Derek’s field of vision. “It was a stupid accident, and Peter was… helping.” He says it like the word fits wrong on his tongue. “Y’know, with the magic werewolf healing trick or whatever it’s called. You probably don’t have to choke him to death.”
He’s still holding up his sprained wrist, and something claws up from Derek’s gut at the sight of the pale skin stretched over all those small bones, the trailing, bluish veins beneath. He kicks down the impulse, and shoves Peter back as he steps away.
“You trust him now?” he asks, staring Stiles in the face.
“Do I look like I’ve suffered a recent brain injury?” Stiles shoots back, and Derek hears Peter’s hoarse chuckle behind him.
“Really Derek,” Peter says, stepping around him and rubbing at his neck, “these issues you have with sharing; it’s sad.”
Derek rounds on him again, can feel the coiled pressure in his muscles, making him want to shift even as he locks it down.
Stiles hand lands on his shoulder with the barest pressure, like he’s ready to yank it back lightning fast, and it’s like ice water being tipped over his head.
“Kind of had enough of the family feud today, Derek,” Stiles says. Derek tries to focus on the softness in his voice, whether it’s borne from exhaustion and exasperation or not, uses it like smothering a flame while ignoring the smug curve of Peter‘s lips.
“Go home, Stiles,” Derek says, not looking away from Peter like he can hold him in place with a stare.
There’s a moment, two, where Derek is waiting for Stiles to argue against being told what to do; but he just sighs and mutters something about bad manners being genetic that Derek chooses to ignore, then leaves without another word. He makes sure to slam the remains of the front door behind him though.
“Well,” Peter finally says, “that was quite the display. I’m sure Stiles was very impressed.”
“Leave him alone,” Derek warns, for more reasons than he cares to name. “I mean it. Stay out of the way, and don’t cause any more trouble.”
Peter clucks his tongue, abandons the pretence of his pained neck and crosses his arms. “Come on, Derek, I don’t think you really want that. Just how many times have I saved your skin now, hmm? Not to mention the lives of your adorable little pack? Honestly I think I’ve lost count. Maybe we should ask Stiles, he seems the type to keep track of-”
Derek steps closer, lets his teeth sharpen and stretch downward. “Stay. Away. From him.”
Peter looks pleased. “There it is, you see. That’s an Alpha, not a petulant boy who can’t control his own fate; who can’t hold onto what he has, much less stop others from taking it from him.”
“What do you want?” Derek asks him. It’s what he keeps coming back to, this endless circle of unsolved motivation.
Peter tilts his head, looks up past the ceiling. “What I want… doesn’t matter,” he says, and even before their eyes meet Derek’s already written it off as an evasion. “But mostly, I don’t want to have to watch you sabotage yourself more than you already have. Frankly, it’s getting boring, not to mention embarrassing to watch.”
Derek’s fists clench, but his fingernails are just that, not slicing into his palms. “We’re doing everything we can,” he insists. “The Alphas-”
“I’m not talking about the Alphas,” Peter waves off. “No, I suspected you’d manage to bungle that one way or another, even if you’ve done somewhat better than I’d first thought... I’m talking about Stiles.”
“Stiles,” he repeats, blank even though his stomach twists at Peter’s expression.
“You need him,” Peter says, “I’d have thought that was obvious by now.”
“He’s doing enough,” Derek insists, gesturing meaninglessly. “He’s already-”
“But he’s not really part of the pack, is he?” Peter interrupts. “He belongs to Scott as much as to you.”
“He doesn’t belong to anyone,” Derek says. “It’s his choice whether he’s with us or not.”
“Have you offered him the bite yet?” Peter asks.
Derek takes a slow breath. “He doesn’t want it,” he says.
Peter shakes his head. “Yes he does. Of course he does. He’s afraid of wanting it; of what that might make him; of all the silly human things he could lose if he takes it. But that’s not the same as not wanting, is it Derek?” His eyes are boring right through Derek’s ribs.
“I won’t do it,” he says, holds to it like a second anchor.
Peter just shrugs, looks considering as he thumbs over the hair on his chin. “That doesn’t mean it won’t happen anyway. There are so many Alphas around these days, after all.”
Derek takes a reflexive step toward him, hands balling, but Peter holds up his own like surrender, even though there’s nothing like surrender left in him. This is why he always feels like a threat, Derek thinks. He’s never submitting; just waiting. Every bit of ground he gives is just time he’s buying for himself.
And Derek’s back is to the wall no matter which way he turns.
It’s the night before the full moon, and Stiles is somewhere under his own personal mountain range of printed papers and strewn-about reference books; some from what’s left of the Hale library and some from the Argent’s collection, that Allison turned over with a sigh and a look that doesn’t belong anywhere on a teenager’s face.
There’s also Chem homework buried at the bottom somewhere. Or was it Math?
He’s been trying to dismantle whatever bullshit logic lets a whole pack of Alphas actually exist without it collapsing into a big, bloody, power-grabbing mess, and so far all he’s got is the disquieting theory that there’s some kind of Super Alpha out there, controlling all the others.
There’s always a bigger wolf, he thinks, through the muddied fog of his tired brain, as he scrubs his fingers over his face like wiping away cobwebs.
Yeah. Three guesses as to that mystery wolf’s personality type and the first two don’t count.
It’s 3 A.M., which is unfair, since A.M.’s one and two decided to sneak past when he wasn’t paying attention. There’re ink stains on his fingertips and his neck may never bend painlessly again.
He spends five glorious minutes with his head held under the faucet in the bathroom sink, icy water dragging him out of his doze. He doesn’t look in the mirror when he straightens up.
The face that looks back him doesn’t really feel like him; not lately. Skin pulled too tight over his bones, last echoes of his dad’s most recent disappointed sigh bouncing around behind his pupils like a pinball of guilt and excuses.
He scrubs at his face and the hair that’s gonna need to be buzzed again soon, lets stray drops run down his neck and dampen his shirt at the collar, breathes heavy through his mouth just to feel himself do it.
Traipsing back to his room, he thinks he’s probably going to need to clear away all the stuff around his computer and on his desk before his dad sees it and thinks he’s either a serial killer, or enthusiastic about animals a wrong sorta way.
That won’t help him with the two werewolves occupying his space like storm clouds though.
He blinks at them, then hurls what he hopes is an angry sigh at Derek, who’s picking through one of the topmost books while ignoring the fact that they didn’t even shut the stupid window all the way.
“I hope you found a babysitter,” he says, stepping around Derek and tugging the bottom sash until it closes and his curtain stops waving into the room on the breeze. “And get your feet off my bed,” he snaps at Peter, trying desperately to remember that his life wasn’t always like this.
“It’s been two days,” Derek says, like Stiles doesn’t already know that. “Have you found anything else?”
“It’s 3 A.M.,” he replies, because okay maybe he’s been deliberately staying away, but there’s a principle being violated somewhere when they decide to show up like this.
“You weren’t sleeping,” Peter says, fingers picking idly at the corner of the sheets. “And times are too… unpredictable, to have you going quiet like this, Stiles.”
Stiles runs through about eight versions of I-don’t-work-for-you responses, before settling on “Can’t you just go and annoy Jackson instead? He’s one of you now after all; try getting him to join your pack instead of being an even bigger douche than he was bef-”
“Our pack,” Peter cuts in smoothly, glancing at Derek who’s still skimming through the pages of one of the Argent’s books. At least it’s not the one with all the meticulously detailed hunting history in it. Stiles had spent a few horrified minutes on that one before shoving it into a drawer to avoid the temptation of dropping it into a trashcan and burning it.
“He’s right,” Derek finally says, and wow Stiles hopes somebody got that on tape.
“So you two are a team now?” he says, barely stopping himself from making actual air quotes. “Did you put aside your differences over a latte and a deer carcass, or something?”
Peter makes a sound like a cut-off laugh, but Derek sighs and carries on. “There’s too much happening right now, you can’t just disappear for days at a time. It’s not safe.”
“Oh and suddenly you’re so invested in my safety?” Stiles scoffs, lips twisted in something a long way from humour.
Derek’s jaw twitches, and he moves like he’s about to take a step toward Stiles, before just dialling up the frown another few notches and looking away. There’s a brief roil of what is probably guilt in Stiles’ gut, because yeah Derek’s decision making skills suck something awful, but Stiles doesn’t really think he actively tries to get people - including Stiles - hurt.
“Forget it,” he says, waving a hand in empty air. He thinks Derek gets it, even though he can’t remember when hurting Derek Hale’s feelings became an item on his list of concerns. “And no, I don’t have anything. There’s some cryptic lore about Alphas mating with Alphas, but,” he shrugs, “it’s probably either useless or completely wrong anyway.”
He’s just gonna pretend he didn’t say “mating” in front of both Derek and Peter.
“Maybe,” Peter concedes, “but we can’t afford to dismiss anything. And a mate can be a powerful thing in our world, Stiles.”
“You should sleep,” Derek throws out, thankfully before Stiles can say anything in reply to Peter’s latest gem. He’d laugh if Derek didn’t look so painfully earnest and awkward standing there. He wonders - not for the first time - if there’s something about born werewolves that just makes their humanity fit wrong, like an old shirt they’ve outgrown, or if it’s just a reality of who the ones he’s met are, because of what’s happened to them.
Or maybe he’s just really, really overtired.
“We’ll leave,” Peter says, standing and casually flattening the bedcover as he does. “But you should come to the house soon. The pack belongs together, after all.”
Derek doesn’t say anything, but it’s a silence not loaded with death glares over Peter summarily declaring Stiles one of the pack, even if it’s some kind of weird honorary position for the fragile little human. Declaring that he belongs.
Stiles wishes he wasn’t flushing with how pleased the idea makes him.
The week something shifts in the dynamic of the pack begins with Isaac’s bloodcurdling scream.
“Dammit, I said hold him still,” Stiles snaps with a voice like solid iron, and Erica’s clawed hands press down harder into Isaac’s chest, as Boyd kneels over from above Isaac’s head to pin his flailing arms to the floor.
The bolt, a metal bar stinking with what can only be wolfsbane, is a grotesque protrusion from Isaac’s left thigh. A souvenir from the ragged trio of hunters who’d decided they’d deal with the overabundance of werewolves in Beacon Hills if the Argents weren’t going to do it.
Isaac yells again as Stiles keeps his leg flat to the ground, Peter completely cool as he draws the thing out of Isaac’s flesh with a slick, scraping sound that has Derek lamenting his powerful hearing. It clatters to the floor to the noise of Isaac’s last pained cry, and there’s so much tension humming from all of them it’s making Derek cut into the insides of his lips with his fangs.
Stiles is scooping wolfsbane ash into the wound before the bolt even stops its slight rocking against the charred wooden floorboards, and Isaac’s scream this time makes Erica turn her head away in a flinch, light catching tear tracks on her cheeks, and Boyd’s eyes are clenched so tight it has to be painful.
Isaac’s last convulsion leaves him slumped and breathing slowly, his heartbeat dropping to an unconscious, unfeeling rhythm. Stiles determinedly bats Peter’s hands out of the way to clear the bits of fabric and leaf litter clinging to the tacky blood as Isaac‘s body heals itself, and Peter’s eyes on Stiles face as he works are no better than Derek’s fixed on his hands as he tends to Isaac.
Derek hates admitting it, but he’s seeing Peter’s point about how much of their working as a unit, and not as a ragtag group bound by the connection of the pack, centres around Stiles; how often they’ve come to depend on the fact that he’ll know what to do when he’s needed.
Stiles has never proven them wrong. In a fair tally, Derek knows full well that Stiles has done more for his pack than he has; picking up the slack that Derek doesn’t even notice until there’s damage; staying, when even Erica and Boyd had seriously considered getting the hell out.
Peter’s been right about Stiles all along, Derek is learning. That, whatever selfish motives he has and however untrustworthy he is, Peter’s understood who Stiles is and what he’s capable of more or less from the beginning.
Derek doesn’t know if he’ll ever get past the shame of realising that.
With Isaac resting on a ratty, water-stained mattress, Derek finds Stiles just past the back of the house, where the half gone walls and crumbled floor becomes grass and moss and creeping plants leading out to trees and darkness. He’s facing away from Derek, kicking muck and topsoil over a scrap of tarp that Derek guesses he’s wrapped around the bar.
When he steps back up and through the decayed room to the more solid parts of the house, he stops and raises his eyebrows at Derek like he’s daring him to say something.
“Thank you,” is what comes out of Derek’s mouth, with as much bald-faced sincerity as he can manage. It’s been a while.
Stiles blinks, expression sliding into confused. “For Isaac? You know I would’ve helped anyway, right? Pack or no pack? You don’t need to thank me. I mean, you can; ‘cause really there has to be a backlog of things that you could…”
He trails off when Derek steps closer. He doesn’t really mean to do it, figures it’s that strange gravitational pull Stiles seems to have around him.
He’s changed, Derek thinks. The whole time they’ve been grasping at straws and trying to keep a foot on solid ground, Stiles has been changing. This isn’t the boy who’d stood next to Scott in the woods when Derek first met him; excited and chattering about werewolves.
Stiles swallows with a faint click as he meets Derek’s eyes, and Derek’s trying to pinpoint all the ways this Stiles is different, probably missing so many subtle things. Things he wants to map out and memorise. Things that feel important even if he doesn’t know why; or maybe even because he doesn’t know.
“Thank you, Stiles,” he says again, oddly hushed in a room that always echoes.
A few seconds pass where Stiles just looks at him, then he smiles a little bewildered and puffs a breath through his nose. “You’re welcome, Derek.”
The worst thing about all the not sleeping Stiles does? Is all the not sleeping he does.
He sees his dad during the occasional early morning, when he trudges through the door into the kitchen after a double - or triple - shift at the station, working on solving the sudden massive increase in vandalism, car fires, and ‘animal attacks’ across the county. There’s usually some lying involved, wherein Stiles pretends he’s up early for school and that he hasn’t just got home from the latest pack meeting, or research emergency, or medical emergency, or any number of other assorted werewolf emergencies.
Really, the word ‘emergency’ is losing all impact.
Stiles just tries to make him eat something with a vitamin in it, before watching him stumble up to bed for three hours and then head off to work again, because a frighteningly high number of Beacon Hill’s law enforcement got assassinated by a giant lizard, and that’s not something the Sheriff’s department is getting past anytime soon.
So when he gets to about thirty-six hours of being awake, and he’s had too much bad coffee and one too many Adderall, and he’s in that stage when he’s got so much energy that even while he’s jittering about trying to do a million things at once, he can tell that the crash is gonna be epically terrible.
When he gets to that point, it’s computer games and jerking off and other random stuff, until the fatigue hits him like a bag of hammers, that’s proved effective. Or at least it used to. Now it’s texting Scott to remind him to grab a copy of the assignment from Coach if he doesn’t make it in; or delving into mythology forums on wild goose chases, looking for more werewolf lore that isn’t complete B.S.; or trying to get Lydia to respond to any kind of message with anything other than “Not now, okay?”
And this time, it’s bounding up the stairs to his room, with an arm full of snacks, to find Peter and Derek (or Derek and Peter, and yeah he sometimes thinks of them like Hall and Oats) eating up his air and filling up his supposedly personal space like that’s something they’re allowed to do.
Which, given the whole ‘you’re in the pack now, Stiles’ thing, might be true; it’s not like there‘s a standard rider you sign or anything. And he doesn’t think asking the betas with no homes, or Scott who treats being in Derek’s pack like he’d be giving over his humanity, about it would help. At the very least it’d probably get him punched in the face. Or hit with a car part.
“Hey guys,” he says into the awkward quiet, sending a silent thank you to whatever deities might be listening that his computer isn’t currently showing any of his more interesting bookmarks. “If you’re looking for answers to life, the universe and everything in ten minutes or less you’re gonna have to come back, okay? I’m fresh out of magic for the day; the spark has gone out for now, please try again later.”
He shuts his mouth with a forcible click of his teeth, and resists the urge to bite his tongue because he’s tried that before and it never helps.
Derek’s squinting at him with a look that’s familiar even on those features, so Stiles busies himself with fitting all his tasty treats onto the one clear corner of his desk. When he straightens Derek’s standing closer, and Peter’s abandoned the busted cellphone of Scott’s he was fiddling with to stand next to him.
“Are you feeling alright?” Derek asks, and Stiles might make a sound like an ungainly snort, because he’s just never going to get used to Derek Hale asking him things like that.
“You seem a little… agitated,” Peter says, and Stiles tries and fails to imagine that being his ‘concerned uncle’ tone. It’s basically just repressed sass.
“I’m fine,” he says, dragging out the vowel sound. “I’m awesome. You guys though, you look,” he waves at their dual and eerily similar frowns, “you guys look a little troubled. Which, okay, is basically your world view I guess, so whatever.”
“Stiles,” Derek starts, then sighs. “You need to sleep.”
“Yeah I do,” Stiles agrees. “And don’t think I haven’t tried. But you know what happens when your life is a varied and fascinating stream of violence, last minute solutions and watching people around you get seriously hurt or worse?” He holds up a hand when Derek looks like he’s going to try and answer. “You learn that sleep is just another way for your brain to torment you with all the things you could’ve done better, that’s what. Every ‘what if’ and ‘maybe’ and ‘should‘a’ all popping up, with bonus colour pictures of every mistake. So yeah, excuse me if I’m not too eager to lay me down to sleep, okay?”
His chest is burning, and he sucks in a breath when his body forcibly reminds him that oh yeah, that’s something he needs. There’s a fine tremor running down his arms, and he clenches his hands hard enough to turn his knuckles white.
Peter’s the one who steps up to him first, so close the tips of his shoes almost touch Stiles’ sock-clad toes. He looks into Peter’s eyes, and with the brightness of the light behind him and the frazzled buzz of his every thought, Stiles can’t make himself be wary, or awkward about the ease Peter has at digging into all the parts of him Stiles tries so hard to ignore.
“Stiles,” Peter says, and it’s not like when Derek said it. It’s softer, either because he’s standing so close or because of the damningly effective way Peter’s voice just is. “You don’t need to berate yourself. You‘ve done enough, more than enough, to prove just how capable you are. How valuable you are.”
Stiles looks away, and even over the heat staining his cheeks from his little outburst just then and how overcharged he is, he can feel a brighter flush spreading. But when he tries to look away, Peter uses a fingertip to guide his head back to face him, and the random thought about how warm Peter’s touch is gets lost under the genuinely meaningful look he’s giving Stiles.
He swallows and feels his throat work and hears the gulp as Peter’s eyes track the motion, something darker, more animal, briefly darting across his mouth and the light of his eyes.
Peter tips his head up with two fingers pressed to the soft flesh behind his chin, and Stiles’ mouth opens - on a question, or a complaint, or a meaningless blur of nonsense, he can’t tell - when Peter’s lips fit to his.
It’s smooth and wet and for some reason so much hotter than he was expecting, both literally and in how every jarring thought and tremble seems to narrow down into the feel of it.
He makes a strangled sound, and Peter’s other hand spans wide over Stiles’ ribs, pulls him in closer as his lips part Stiles’ with an agile brush of tongue. Then Derek’s breath fans scalding over the back of his neck, sending shivers down the length of his spine. His own hands are useless weights twitching by his sides, like extra physical proof of how much his brain is misfiring.
When Peter draws back, Stiles has to force his eyes to open even though he didn’t know he’d closed them, and he almost hears the noise of his lashes moving against his skin as Derek turns his head the way Peter had. He gets the barest flash of the light in Derek’s eyes before his lower lip is being scraped by teeth and he’s whimpering into the slick heat of Derek’s mouth, his jaw widening in a reflex he didn’t even know he had.
“That’s it, Stiles,” Peter whispers, almost right against his ear as he tries to keep up with the way Derek’s hand is shifting restlessly over the side of his face, his cheek, the corner of his mouth where they’re connected. “You can have anything. We can give you everything.” He presses closer; the nip of his teeth grazing the curve of Stiles’ ear is a sharp pinprick of feeling next to the wet-hot, encompassing pressure of Derek’s lips. “You just have to take it.”
It’s heat everywhere; against him and around him, feels like it’s pouring down his throat from the flicks of Derek’s tongue against his teeth and the smooth slips of it against the roof of his mouth. He’s making noise, probably sounds ridiculous, needy and frantic, but he can’t help it. His breath stutters, and rough sounds fall loosely from him whenever Derek gives him half a second to drag air through his nose and the cooling wet of his mouth.
“You’re going to feel so good, Stiles,” Peter tells him, and Stiles wants to ask if he means for himself or for them. But Peter’s hand presses down against his crotch, and he can’t hiss at the contact with Derek practically chewing on his lips, can‘t move away - or into the touch - with Derek’s iron grip on the slope of his shoulder.
“Why?” he gasps when Derek moves to the side to lay a mark at the base of his throat. He’s gonna be wearing stuff with high collars for days, but that’s a meaningless and kind of crazed passing thought right then.
Peter chuckles, kneads over the quickly swelling bulge of Stiles’ dick, and he has to lock his knees before he crumples forward into Derek or just right down to the floor.
“Because it’s you,” Derek tells him, like it’s a good reason or any kind of reason at all.
Whatever reply Stiles was gonna spin out, it unravels into nothing when Peter’s fingers tug at his erection through the fabric of his pants, the slight burn of the friction making him hiss as Derek adds another bruise to his throat in the space between his collarbones.
With Peter pressing and squeezing and roughly jerking him, and Derek sucking and nipping with his teeth, Stiles doesn’t even register the bed until he’s all but faceplanting onto it, ends up sandwiched between them as Derek’s shirt hits the floor and Peter’s gets casually tossed over his computer chair.
The sudden heat as they both press into him is a kind of shock in itself, and Peter urges his arms up as Derek lifts his shirt away, and then it’s like being enveloped in the radiating warmth of the two of them, living furnaces stroking over his skin.
“Let’s get you out of these, shall we?” Peter murmurs as his quick fingers tug the waistband of Stiles’ sweats until Derek draws them down his calves and off the end of the bed to the floor.
He’s exposed, and burning up, and half out of his head with want and at least some of the confusion still clinging to him like smoke.
They get him kneeling up as their hands travel across his chest and back, over his shoulder and his neck; down the pale, bunched muscles of his thighs; everywhere but the curved steel of his throbbing dick, like an intentional tease that Stiles doesn’t think is intentional, for all that it’s frustrating as hell.
There’s a familiar click of a cap opening, then he feels the cool trail of lube on his skin when Derek’s fingers slip down and between his cheeks, and the twist of nervousness is either clashing against the searing flood of want in his belly or making it stronger, he can’t tell the difference anymore.
“Just relax,” Peter murmurs, and Stiles shocks forward into the bulk of Peter’s frame as Derek’s slick finger presses around and slowly inside him. Every feeling in his body narrows to that point of connection like a live wire, and Peter’s fingers trace patterns on his skin as Derek’s other hand grips his bare hip and holds him in place, pushing deeper.
He groans some kind of shredded sound as Derek works a second finger in past the resistance, the burn of the stretch stealing his breath as his mouth smears cool-wet onto Peter’s skin.
Derek’s fingers go so deep into him Stiles swears he can feel them pressing behind his abdomen, and no matter how many times he’s tried this on himself in the shower, or spread across his bed when he felt like he had the time, it’s never been like this. It’s never been this soul-destroyingly sweet and mind-bendingly tight, the angle so much better and Derek’s fingers so less hesitant.
The methodical, rolling pressure of Derek’s fingertips right against that spot inside him is erasing every other thought and feeling, flaring along his nerves and making him pant loud and uncaring. Peter strokes over the curve of his lips, almost teasing until he slips two of his fingers over Stiles’ tongue.
Stiles moans helplessly around the digits in his mouth, tries to suck or move his tongue as Derek spreads his fingers and presses against what feels like every point in Stiles’ entire body at once, making his now stone-hard dick smack against his belly where he’s leaning forward into Peter, a pulse of precome spreading over the head before it drips down to the sheets underneath him.
Stiles’ tongue roves over the whorls of Peter’s fingers as he tries to get air and bow his back and spread his legs wider all at once, the feel of Derek trailing another finger around his rim already making his head spin.
“You’re doing so well, Stiles,” Peter says, and Derek groans low and guttural as that third finger slides up and into Stiles on a long, gliding shove to the knuckle, the burn fading faster and more precome leaking from his cock as Derek unerringly finds his prostate again and Peter idly thumbs over his cheek, fingers stroking the inside of Stiles’ mouth.
Stiles wants to hang his head between his shoulders, just let his neck go slack, but Peter’s cradling his chin as he plays with Stiles’ mouth, and between that and Derek’s three fingers pushing in and out of him, drawing his hips back with his free hand to make Stiles ride the pressure of it, he can’t coordinate himself enough to move anyway.
“I think he’s ready, don’t you?” Peter asks, and Derek doesn’t answer, but he moves back away from Stiles and off the bed, his fingers sliding free and pulling a wretched note from the back of Stiles’ throat even as Peter’s fingers stem it back with pressure on his tongue. He feels empty and hollowed out right to his core, and Peter’s free hand petting over his shoulders and raking blunt nails over his scalp is a bare distraction.
Derek shushes him when his weight dips the bed again, and this time he’s totally naked, Stiles can feel the added heat of his body before they even touch. Both of Derek’s hands fit over his hips and tug him back, the burning hardness of Derek’s dick slotting into the cleft between Stiles’ cheeks, lube slicking the push of Derek’s body against his.
“You want to fuck him?” Peter asks, a low burr that skitters down Stiles’ spine.
“Yes,” Derek answers, and it’s so raw-sounding that it makes the hairs on Stiles’ nape rise in helpless reflex.
Peter’s thumb skims over a cheekbone, runs under his eye and back down to where his lips are still stretched around Peter’s fingers. “Then take him. Give yourself to him; the way he’s earned from you.”
Stiles makes a nameless, meaningless sound that shakes in his throat when Derek uses a hand to spread him open, shuddering as cool air brushes over where he’s slick and ready. Where he wants so badly to feel full again. But it’s nothing compared to the sound he makes when the hot, rounded head of Derek’s cock presses against his hole, and Stiles can feel himself parting around that perfect thickness as Derek leans his weight forward.
It’s a slow, inexorable push that would have Stiles gritting his teeth if not for Peter’s fingers in the way. Instead he mewls out a pathetic and undeniably hungry sound, Derek pausing halfway for a second, before his fingers go bruisingly tight on Stiles’ hips and he shoves in, fully seated in a flash fire burn that stings the corners of Stiles’ eyes with the pinpricks of tears.
This time it’s Peter shushing him, soothing him as he gets used to the feeling, Derek’s hands going from his hips to his back and over his stomach, his hips shifting that heavy, full weight against Stiles’ insides.
When Derek’s dick scrapes right over the bump of Stiles’ prostate, he can’t help the way he shoves back and then forward as the pressure drives right through him, the movement barely hampered by Derek’s grip on him.
Derek’s making cracked, low sounds and breathy moans as he tries to pace himself, before he draws back and pushes forward, then draws back further again. Each time he thrusts back in, Stiles feels like he’s going to come apart, his cock rapidly getting harder and hotter between his legs, jerking against his stomach with Derek’s movements, leaking onto the sheets.
He doesn’t even realise he’s gasping into empty air until the lack of weight on his tongue registers. Peter’s drawn back and is shoving the jeans he’s still wearing to mid-thigh, the thick ridge of his erection obscene against his underwear. Stiles can’t blame the wanton sound he makes entirely on Derek’s dick rubbing against his prostate.
The flushed head of Peter’s cock paints Stiles’ lower lip with slick when he leans forward, even more heat and a stronger, heavier musk carried on the heaving breath Stiles takes through his nose.
Peter’s fingers brush the side of his face, and Stiles just lets him push forwards until the hard, blood-hot weight of smooth skin slides over his tongue. He tries his best to keep his teeth out of the way, but with Derek grinding into him and rocking him on his knees with every thrust, he knows he doesn’t totally manage it.
He tries to suck harder, keep his lips tight, and Peter moans as his hips twitch forward.
“He’s going to come inside you,” Peter breathes, hands not holding Stiles’ head still but guiding him when he moves. “You’ll smell like him for days. Like both of us.”
Derek’s thrusts are getting harder, less controlled, and Stiles is moaning with almost every one now, his own dick slapping against his stomach and sticking down the wiry hairs leading from his navel.
The sound Derek makes as he comes feels like it goes right through Stiles’ bones, from his toes to his fingertips, the rush of warmth deep inside him making his lips go slightly slack around Peter’s cock. Derek’s dick swells and jerks with every pulse of come, and Stiles can feel it, so much more than he’d thought he would, pushed around as Derek grinds into him again.
“Make him come,” Peter says, and Stiles shivers at the tone, mouth sliding sloppily over the cock in his mouth. Derek pulls out of him slowly, and so much sensation from being abruptly empty and feeling Derek’s come start to leak out washes over him as Derek’s weight resettles over his back, one thick arm pressing into the mattress to the left of Stiles’ body.
He jerks all over when Derek’s fingers suddenly wrap around him, his grip strong and tighter than Stiles is used to from his own hand, the placement different. He comes embarrassingly fast, can’t be more than a dozen strokes with Derek’s fingers twisting around the head and thumbing at his slit before he spills hot and wet and shoots onto the bed under him. He chokes a little on his moan, adds to the drool already streaking his chin, and Peter caresses over his neck as Derek works him through the last of it, last weak pulses wrung out of him as the muscles in his stomach twitch and pull with aftershock.
When Derek leans back again, Stiles thinks he’s left the bed. Then his hands frame Stiles hips and stroke down over his asscheeks, suddenly gripping and holding him open. His come is trailing in tingling lines down the tight stretch of skin behind Stiles’ balls, and he can feel where Derek’s left him puffy and open to the air.
There’s a huff of hot breath over his hole, and Stiles has about a second to try and get his brain to catch up with what Derek’s about to do, before a hot, sleek tongue is running up from his balls to his ass, swirling around his rim before pointing and pressing into him, curling inside in a way that makes him loose a burst of a groan around Peter’s cock.
“So good, Stiles,” Peter tells him, and Stiles believes it because how would he know? He’s a mess of buzzing skin and cooling marks of come and drool, Derek’s tongue working at the wetness that’s still trailing down the backs of his thighs. It’s an insanely sensitive pressure, like he’s mapping Stiles from the inside as he eats at him; at the come he left inside. He can’t think around the pleasure and soreness and used muscles thrumming all over his body, hickeys on his neck echoing his pulse and the filthy noises of his own mouth on Peter’s dick and Derek’s mouth eating him out.
He’s already hard again; so hard and hot and tacky with his earlier release and the precome trailed down his skin, curving up against his belly. He runs his tongue against the underside of Peter’s cock, over veins and against the nerves beneath the head where he figures it’ll feel good.
Peter’s fingers fit into the hollows of his cheeks as he slides deeper into Stiles’ mouth again, smoothing over and around where his cheeks are being pressed out, and he’s so far gone that that alone is enough to have him shoving back into the wet heat of Derek’s mouth as he drives his tongue deeper.
Stiles can feel Derek’s come as he either licks it away or drags it up his skin with the tips of his fingers to push it back into him, hint of intense fullness that shouldn’t feel like more than when Derek was fucking him but somehow does anyway.
He’s losing track of himself, can’t focus between the firebrand scratch of Derek’s stubble on his skin and the pressure of his tongue and fingers, or Peter’s controlled-but-not movements as he fills Stiles’ mouth.
Peter finally comes right as Derek grips his ass with a hand on each cheek again and spreads him obscenely wide to the cooler air of the room. The sudden pulses of bittersweet-hot-wet come over his tongue as Peter pulls back, spurts landing in his throat as he swallows and swallows, along with the feeling of Derek just staring at where he’s open and slutty and fucking soaked with spit and come and lube makes him clench his eyes, the tightness behind his balls building; not enough to come but so damn close.
“Good boy,” Peter croons as Stiles pulls back with a tight drag of his lips, swallowing whatever he can suck to the back of his tongue. “You’ve done so well, Stiles.”
Like that’d been a signal or something, Derek’s fingers circle the head of his cock, squeezing and twisting right around and over the leaking slit until Stiles is nearly sobbing wound spring feeling in his gut and the shivery need to come.
“Do it,” Derek says, as if Stiles’d voiced some of that, which yeah he might’ve done. “C’mon,” Derek urges, with a voice so shot it’s just a rasping scrape over Stiles skin and nerves, everything he is. “Fucking do it.” His fingers tap hard right against the slit, rubbing at the spot under the head, and Stiles drops his forehead against the warmth of Peter’s hip as he spurts feebly onto the sheets, his thighs shaking and back trembling, tears of exertion and blissful relief clumping his lashes and firework show of colour blooming behind his clenched lids.
Peter shushes him gently as the aftershocks make him jerk and shudder, running a hand down Stiles’ back down the dip of his spine and back up, soothing in a way that should be shocking.
Derek grips his upper arms and hauls him upright onto his knees, his back to Derek’s front as Derek sloppily moves his lips over Stiles’ before letting Stiles’ head flop against the solid curve of his shoulder. He tastes bitter and hot, like Stiles’ mouth already does but different, and it’s a willful act of equal ownership - or maybe just belonging - that even Stiles can see in his wrecked state.
Derek keeps Stiles there as their combined breathing evens out and Stiles’ heart slows from a pounding drum to a slower thud, one hand splayed wide over Stiles’ belly and another across his hipbone over the bruises Stiles can already feel forming.
He’s broken down and totally fucking spent, emotionally as well as physically and mentally, and when they strip the bed and tug him down between them, silently moving with almost practiced ease, he can feel the frenetic wakefulness and harsh energy slipping off him like water.
He feels lighter, maybe even freer, and if his lids weren’t already drooping he’d laugh at feeling anything close to that squashed between these two.
The last fleeting thought he has as his chest shudders with a deep breath that fans out over Peter’s chest, is that if this, whatever it is, is what belonging to something feels like, then he’s not letting anyone take it from him.
Just let them try.