“Reject me, Alpha,” Cora muttered, her voice low and trembling. She raised her head finally to meet Stiles’ stunned, confused gaze. “…please,” she added with steady but glassy eyes.
“Huh?” Stiles knew he was dreaming, because this couldn’t be real. In fact, his entire week felt like a series of never ending dreams. Nightmares, to be precise.
It all started when a few werewolf Alpha leaders decided to ally to stop the recurring invasion threats from the Argent nation; the nation of devious, cruel were-jaguars. Stiles’ father, Alpha John Stilinski, was one of those leaders.
The Argents had taken over almost one fifth of the Stilinski territory. Eventually, to strengthen his resources John had decided to find a suitable mate for his only heir, Alpha Przemyslaw Stilinski - aka Stiles.
In fact, it all had been already fixed and finalized with the Hale nation within a week. The actual meeting between the intended mates was just a formality where the entire Stilinski nation was all set for a lavish, massive mating ceremony and eagerly awaiting the visiting pack for the association. It was a known fact that an heir would abide to their leader’s orders, no matter what, when the entire nation’s safety was on the line. So here was Stiles, meeting Cora Hale today for the very first time.
“I’m attached to someone else,” Cora explained, because Stiles was visibly struggling to get his words out.
Stiles creased his eyebrows, feeling irritated and utterly betrayed. “What?” he spat. “Don’t you think you’re little late with your love confession and I’m not the right person to handle this shi – thing - I uh…”
“I know,” Cora cut the agitated Alpha off mid-sentence. “I feel terrible. I’m sorry. I really am. I tried to give this a chance. I broke up with my partner and believe me…I was ready to sacrifice.”
Stiles huffed out a sad breath at the word – sacrifice. His father’s voice still rang in his ears -“You’re twenty-one, Stiles...the only heir of the Stilinski clan. So, act like one.”
Of course, it was precisely that - a sacrifice. But, wasn’t Stiles also on the receiving end here? Didn’t the Hales need this alliance as much as the Stilinskis did? In fact, it was the Hales who had triggered this cold war between the wolves and the jaguars in the first place.
Just a year ago, the Argent leader - Alpha Kate Argent - had tried courting the elder Hale Omega, Derek Hale.
The Omega had rejected her proposal which hadn’t gone down well with the arrogant, crazy Alpha. She’d tried to force the mating bite on him and when that failed, she’d burnt the entire Hale mansion, almost resulting in the extinction of the Hale pack, leaving only three Hale siblings as survivors, too young and lost.
Stiles had heard rumors about how the Hale Omega still carried those slowly fading Alpha marks from the attack and was apparently considered too damaged to attract any sane Alpha after that.
Stiles had also heard the stories of how the new Hale leader, Alpha Laura Hale, barely in her mid-twenties, had struggled to defend the Hale nation after the incident. The Argents were growing desperate for revenge against the entire wolf race and becoming stronger with each passing day.
If the Stilinskis needed this alliance, then the Hales needed it ten times more.
“Miss Hale, do you understand that we’re supposed to mate in like - two days?” Stiles blurted out, running his fingers through his already messy hair.
“I’m sorry,” Cora repeated. “I just…I saw you walk through that door and I knew I couldn’t do this. I love Isaac. I can’t do this to him…to you.”
“O-kaay…Okay,” finally Stiles started getting his senses back, but was still fighting hard to keep his tone patient. “So why don’t we just go out and explain the situation to our packs?”
“No!” Cora gasped, taking a quick step to block the room’s only exit. She continued when Stiles stopped on the spot. “Laura won’t understand. Isaac’s a Beta and the Lahey pack isn’t strong enough to be a benefit in this war scenario in any way. I tried giving Laura hints and she threatened to disown me.” She paused for a beat, rubbing her sweaty palms nervously. Stiles could smell strong waves of apprehension and misery rolling off her, hitting his sensitive nose. “I can’t blame my sister,” Cora murmured, looking at Stiles. “She’s buried neck deep in all this mess herself. I’ve already lost so many and I don’t want to lose my remaining pack. I...I love them too.”
Something twisted in Stiles’ chest. This time, Cora’s shaky words hit him hard.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, Stiles had certainly heard that, just never thought he’d be facing such times today, especially when he was supposed to be acting like some handsome-heir-Alpha puppet.
“I choose Derek.”
Stiles’ words felt like whiplash. The chirpy room, packed with all kinds of excited werewolves, was suddenly engulfed in an awkward, stunned silence. Stiles watched as the elder Hale Omega snapped his head up at the unexpected mention of his own name, meeting Stiles’ gaze for the very first time since their arrival to the Stilinski nation.
“…only if he’s willing to accept my proposal,” Stiles addressed everyone, but decisively, held Derek’s sharp gaze. He sensed the air fluctuate through a variety of scents, all at the same time – they were shocked, wary and finally settled on angry. Very angry.
Stiles didn’t miss the low, irritating sound of claws scraping against the hard wood of the table in front of them and he knew the Omega was having a tough time digesting Stiles’ abrupt proposition. He watched Laura’s hand shoot forward and immediately settle on Derek’s clenched fist, grounding the Omega right there.
And Stiles thought maybe he was doomed for a lifetime.
The news spread like wildfire – How the damaged Omega had finally lured a young Alpha’s heart. But the alliance was still intact and everyone was pleased and actually relieved about that.
Stiles knew his father would be the most contented of the lot. The Alpha leader had no faith in his son’s patience whatsoever and was on the verge of having heart failure prior to their alliance meeting. To Stiles’ surprise, Laura Hale had beaten John Stilinski in that department.
Laura welcomed Stiles’ decision with an open heart, gleaming eyes, beaming smile and a few bone crushing hugs which were quite rare between the two Alphas. Around Stiles she reeked of bliss and gratitude and for a moment, Stiles wondered if she loved her brother just a little more than her sister Cora.
She didn’t even look suspicious when the next day the Lahey pack approached the Hales with Isaac’s proposal for Cora. After the massive Stilinski-Hale alliance, Laura seemed pretty okay with it.
The mating ceremony was scheduled to take place in two days and everything looked perfect, uh- except Derek.
Derek was unbearably quiet. Even though he’d accepted the proposal, his scent always carried the undercurrent of gloom, disappointment and anger...towards Stiles.
So, Stiles lingered around, observing his intended mate curiously, trying to get to know him more in some way. He pathetically gawked at Derek’s stretched, tight arm muscles as he folded them over his chest and listened intently whenever John spoke. Stiles loved to watch Derek’s scowls when Laura ruffled his hair fondly, which was something she did very frequently. He adored the way Derek’s ears turned beet red whenever someone mentioned Stiles or the ceremony. Derek behaved quite nicely with everyone, everyone except Stiles.
Stiles wanted to talk to him, clear the misunderstanding, but Derek blatantly refused every single attempt to talk privately. He participated in all the pre-mating rituals with Stiles, but consciously avoided casual arm brushes or even eye contact. He responded to Stiles with his thick eyebrows furrowed, a grumpy face and a series of flat “No”s for the whole two days straight.
As Derek’s musky, earthy scent filled the air of the Stilinski guest mansion, Stiles felt his inner wolf gradually recognize the bond, even before the mating bite. His wolf literally wanted to hunt his personal favorite aroma wherever they went and whimpered silently at the cold dismissal from his Omega.
Of course Stiles was doomed for a lifetime.
“You may now bite your Omega.”
Stiles flinched at those words from the Mating Officiant.
Warily, he flicked his eyes to Derek’s who had been looking quite stoic throughout the mating ceremony so far. They both gazed at each other for solid ten seconds without moving a single muscle. That must have looked pretty odd to the large crowd who had gathered to witness their heir claiming his Omega.
It was Derek who made a first move, nothing significant, just a quick nod to show his consent and Stiles let out a shaky sigh of relief.
Derek proceeded to scrabble at the top two studs of his embroidered tunic, unbuttoning them. He gently flicked the silky material away, exposing the bare, smooth skin around his neck.
And, that was when Stiles saw it...
The three reddish-brown lines running down Derek’s left shoulder and disappearing onto his back, faint but way too long to be overlooked. The marks of an Alpha’s claws.
Stiles felt a hot sting shoot up straight through his chest. His wolf suddenly went crazy seeing those foreign scars on the Omega. His Omega. He wanted to bury his face in Derek’s neck right then and nip at those filthy scars with his fangs, gently and excruciatingly slowly, savoring the taste of the Omega’s blemished skin, until he’d sucked out every last trace of the other Alpha and decorated the soft, tanned skin with completely new marks. His marks.
The pounding heartbeat brought Stiles back to reality. He tore his eyes away from the scars and momentarily watched Derek’s heaving chest, before fixing his eyes once more on Derek’s pale, hazel pair. His heart skipped a beat.
For the first time since they’d met he watched Derek’s mask break apart entirely. His face crumpled, looking vulnerable...even scared, as if his whole world was going to come crashing down the very next moment. His lips trembled tentatively as he struggled to get his words out.
“Hey...Hey. It's okay,” Stiles muttered, soft but reassuring, scooting closer. Instinctively, his fingers flew to grab the loose fabric of Derek’s tunic, flicking it back to cover the scars.
Derek swallowed, blinking at Stiles, stunned and confused. Stiles shot him a warm smile and Derek continued staring at him as if he couldn't believe what he saw.
“Alpha Stilinski? Omega Hale? ” the stupid Mating Officiant ruined the moment. They both jumped at the interruption.
Quickly, Derek adjusted his top, tilting his neck, offering his most vulnerable part to Stiles. And God! Stiles’ wolf howled with ecstasy at that very first sign of acceptance, that pure display of surrender and trust.
Fearing Derek might change his mind, Stiles took a quick step forward, gripping the Omega’s arms, leaning in for the bite.
Derek shuddered as Stiles’ keen fangs cut through his tender skin. Desperately, his free hands twitched, wanting to grab onto something, finally settling on Stiles’ shoulders. He slumped into the Alpha’s body completely, burying his face in Stiles’ crimson velvet shirt, breathing in heavily, maybe hoping the Alpha’s scent and warmth would stop the piercing ache somehow. He dug his fingers in so deeply and painfully that Stiles knew Derek would have his marks on him first.
Stiles bit hard and long, effortlessly adjusting Derek’s weight in his firm embrace. The moment the strong coppery tang of blood hit his tongue, he felt an inexplicably warm spark run down through him to the very core of his gut, lighting up every tiny part of his insides. His entire being was suddenly concentrated on only one thing - the rhythmic thudding of Derek’s heart, strong and soothing. His own heart drummed in sync, as they breathed together as one whole.
Stiles’ heart stuttered on the choked moan that broke out of Derek’s lips, low and sexy. His Omega had finally acknowledged the bond. Finally. His wolf roared, banging his fists on his chest like King Kong. And that was when Stiles decided to let go, before his wolf did something stupid. Something like shredding both their clothes with his protruding claws and claiming his Omega in all new ways. Right there.
Derek whimpered as Stiles pulled back. Slowly, he lifted his head and watched Stiles with heavy, half lidded eyes, looking dazed and so very edible. Stiles’ lips twitched into a knowing smirk. That was a mistake.
The next moment, Derek flinched back, shoving Stiles away and he growled.
Stiles scrutinized the gleaming gun, holding it up to the soothing light of the lamp.
Apparently, the news of the quick alliance hadn’t been taken well by the Argents. They’d attacked the Stilinski border the very same night.
They had declared a war.
John had immediately left for the border with Laura and their leading packs. Stiles was gathering the troops to back them up within a few hours.
He cradled his favorite weapon in his hands. He loaded its chambers with crocus laced bullets, one by one, which supposedly had a deadly effect on the jaguars. After all, he was a firm believer in handling his enemies from a distance. Why invade their personal space and spoil your precious claws, right?
“Did you order them to keep me away from the border?”
He almost dropped the gun as Derek came barging into the room, angry and shaking.
Stiles didn't reply immediately. He knew this was coming. He stared at the fuming Derek, hoping his anger would subside with time. He was wrong.
“Answer me!” Derek snarled, popping the vein on his forehead, almost wolfing out.
Stiles needed all his control to stop from wolfing out himself. He was already disturbed by the latest news from the border and his Omega was literally baring his fangs at him. But, his Omega was upset, he knew that. He sucked in a heavy breath, gulping in the spicy, musky tang of Derek’s scent, pushing down the bubbling frustration.
“We need someone to stay back,” he slid his gun into its holster, trying to keep his voice steady, not meeting Derek’s eyes. He had to convince Derek somehow. For his plan to work, he needed time. “I'll talk to Dad. And maybe we can call in your troops if... if things are looking bad. Just give me a day.”
“I can talk to Alpha Stilinski myself,” Derek turned, ready to leave. “I'm not going to just sit and wait-”
Stiles rushed after him, grabbing a hold of Derek's hand, spinning him around with a jerk. “You're not going there,” he declared.
Derek's eyes flitted between Stiles’ hand and his face, not looking too pleased with the physical contact. Stiles loosened his grip, his hand still lingering. He was sure the Omega was going to punch his face any moment.
“I know you don't trust my abilities,” Derek breathed, regaining his composure a little. “...me being an Omega,” he muttered, low and sounding utterly disheartened. “But I’ve protected the Hale border with Laura...and I can do the same for the Stilinski nation.”
“Kate’s at the border.”
The words left Stiles’ mouth before he could form them in a less destructive format. But the damage was done. Derek's expressions suddenly stiffened. Blood drained from his face within seconds and he stared at Stiles with wide, shocked eyes.
It was the first time Kate had led the attack rather than hiding behind her pet Berserkers and they both knew what she wanted.
“If you go out there... She's gonna come right at you, Derek. She’s gone berserk herself after hearing about our union,” he pointed his finger in between them, suggestively, to knock some sense into Derek’s frozen brain.
“I can handle her,” Derek hissed, coming out of his daze, grinding his teeth.
“I don't care if you can handle her or not,” Stiles lost it. Both his hands shot out to clutch at Derek's arms, moving him right into his line of sight, shaking him once. Desperately, his eyes searched Derek's face. “I don't want her anywhere near you, Derek. I don't want her fucking looking at you,” he let out a deep, possessive rumble, his wolf taking over slowly. “You. Can't. Go.”
Derek shivered at Stiles’ Alpha voice. He ducked his head, unable to meet the Alpha’s gleaming red glare. Was he ready to submit? Of course not, his Omega was way too adamant for that.
Instead, Derek jerked back, snatching his arms free from Stiles’ hold, panting heavily as if it was physically hurting him to step away from his agitated Alpha. Determinedly, he lifted his heavy head, pinning Stiles with his glare.
“Is that an order?” Derek growled.
“Jesus Christ!” Stiles made an exasperated sound. Derek’s words cut like a razor-sharp knife. He started pacing around the room like a caged animal, rubbing his frustrated hands over his face. They were mates for God's sake! They were equal. “Y’know what?…you can think whatever you want. I can't have this conversation right now,” he snapped.
“Right,” Derek let out a judgemental huff, pursing his lips tight. “All you Alphas think that you've a license to treat us like trash.”
Stiles froze on the spot, whipping his neck in Derek’s direction.
Derek looked angry. Pissed.
“I'm not your private property,” Derek continued as if he hadn’t heard Stiles, stepping forward. His eyes glowed electric blue, challenging his Alpha. “You think you can force us to do whatever you want?”
“Derek, I never-”
“You rejected Cora!” Derek barked right at Stiles’ face. “You disrespected my sister...my pack and made me look like a pity case.”
Wait. What? - “What?”
The silence became deafening.
It seemed like Derek was done talking. He just stood there, trembling and panting. Stiles was doing the same.
It'd been three whole days and Derek still didn't know. He didn't fucking know the real circumstances under which Stiles had chosen Derek over Cora and it’d been ruining their relationship even before it could fucking start.
“When was the last time you spoke to your sister?” Stiles grated out, struggling to keep down his own fuming temper, his voice lisping through his dropped fangs.
Derek's brows furrowed at the sudden, odd question, looking confused.
“Just- Talk to her.” Stiles didn't know what else was there to say. He marched out of the room without a second glance. He banged the door closed behind him, almost breaking it from its hinges. He was pissed too.
He wished his departure was different, especially when there wasn't a guarantee that he would be coming back in one piece from the war. His wolf howled, begging him to turn around, to glance once more at his mate, maybe for the last time.
These words should never have been a part of a single sentence. Never!
Derek's brain shut off the moment they hit his eardrums. His entire body quivered as a solid wave of emerging panic crept up, ripping into his heart. A moment later, Alpha John was cradling him in a shivering hug, muttering - “He’s okay. He- He'll heal” - weak and broken, maybe trying to reassure himself.
Stiles had asked for a day. Derek now understood why.
At the border, Stiles had directly gone for Kate, as if he’d wanted to finish it before someone - Derek - could get a chance to get involved with her. And, Kate had let him.
The fight between them had been brutal and personal right from the start, so much so that men on both sides had stopped still and watched the fierce encounter between the two powerful Alphas. Both fighting to kill the other.
Being both trained and experienced, Kate had had the upper hand. She’d slashed at every single inch of Stiles’ body, bellowing maniacally of her dominance over him. Until she’d tried to utter an insolent remark about Derek, and -
Stiles’ bullet had shot her right through the middle of her head, from just a few feet away, leaving no possibility for survival.
Kate was dead. Stiles had killed her, before passing out on the ground in a deep, cold coma.
Derek gently curled his shaking fingers around Stiles’ lifeless wrist. Not lifeless, because he could most definitely feel a low pulse beneath his fingertips. His eyes hovered over Stiles’ stilled, wounded body, lingering a minute more on the shoulder bandages that held his detached humerus to its socket.
“Stiles…” he let out a choked, wrenching sob, hoping - praying that he wasn't too late to realize his mistake. He sunk to the floor beside his mate, his knees giving up. “Please come back,” he pleaded with his unconscious Alpha, breaking down into a crying, trembling mess.
It had been eight hours and Stiles hadn't twitched a muscle.
Derek hadn't left his side, even for a second. He’d stood in the corner of the room, closest to Stiles’ bed, frozen and scared. The urgent murmur of doctors and the pack felt like the distant buzz of a bee to his ears. He watched them running around without actually registering anything in his numbed brain. Someone pushed him into a nearby chair.
He just stared at his mate’s chalk-white face, feeling listless and distraught. He clasped their hands together and tried to take away all Stiles’ pain until it started draining something inside him, until someone literally snatched his hand away, shouting - “Enough. You'll hurt yourself.”
Eventually, after hours, he slumped down, tentatively leaning on Stiles’ bed. He wasn’t sure exactly when he’d drifted off into an exhausted sleep interrupted by horribly disturbing dreams.
A low whimper startled him awake.
“Stiles?” he shot up from the chair so fast that it toppled behind him with a thud. He watched blinking, feeling disoriented, as Stiles made an unconscious attempt to squirm. “Doctor! Alpha Stilinski...” he shouted out desperately, voice cracked, not knowing whom to call, ready to barge outside to fetch someone. And, that was when fingers clasped around his sweaty palm. Stiles’ fingers, shaking but warm.
“D- D-rek -”
“I’m here. I’m right here.” He quickly scooted close to Stiles, sitting at the edge of the bed, his hands twitching to touch his Alpha. Soon, he heard footsteps rushing towards the room.
Stiles blinked his way back to consciousness, searching Derek’s face with tired eyes. He looked so fragile and breakable that Derek didn’t dare touch. Suddenly, Stiles’ brows scrunched with what vaguely looked like worry.
“Hey…you’re crying… why’re you-” Stiles dug his elbows into the mattress, lifting his upper body, trying and failing miserably to reach out to Derek’s wet cheeks.
Stiles might have been almost dead a few hours back but here he was, freaking out because Derek had been crying in his goddamned sleep. Something flipped in Derek’s heart, warm and soothing.
“Careful!” someone gasped as Stiles struggled for his balance. But, Derek was already there with his arms wrapped around Stiles’ wobbly body, supporting him with a firm embrace.
The quick movement must have drained oxygen from Stiles’ brain. He fluttered his heavy eyelids, unable to stay awake. His eyes rolled back, looking ready to get lost in a deep, frigid slumber once more.
“Don't,” Derek commanded, jostling him into consciousness. “Don't you dare pass out on me again,” he tightened his grip around Stiles, hauling him closer, his glassy, concerned eyes tripping over the Alpha’s battered and bruised face.
“Is that an order?” Stiles murmured, looking straight at Derek now. His lips twitched in a pathetically weak smirk and Derek couldn't help himself but huffed out a muffled laugh at that reference.
Yes, they’d need to catch up on the time they’d lost. The last four days felt like a stupid stupid waste, all because of the useless miscommunication - no communication in fact. Of course, Derek was totally blaming himself for everything. He had almost lost Stiles. But Stiles was alive and he was so relieved his already fucked up life was actually giving him a second chance.
“You can think whatever you want,” Derek muttered, leaning in. He brushed his soft lips against one specifically distracting reddish-purple bruise at the corner of Stiles’ mouth, so very gently.
Before Derek could move, Stiles stretched up, tilting his chin, gathering all that remained of his strength, hastily nipping at Derek's bottom lip. Just a little nibble, once. He paused there, without actually pulling back. His intoxicatingly tangy, citrus breath still hovered over Derek’s lips, maybe waiting for a reaction.
Derek let out a needy growl. He raked his fingers through Stiles’ hair, yanking him closer again and finally he sealed their mouths together in a tender kiss.
Stiles’ answering moan was desperate and demanding. He flailed his hands to grab at Derek’s shirt, tugging it so hard that its top button popped and disappeared somewhere on the floor. He pushed their bodies together, gulping in his Omega’s thick, sweet scent. Swiftly, he slipped his tongue in and devoured Derek’s mouth, savoring its hot, delicious taste, curiously testing the length of the erupting fangs.
His slender fingers traveled down the line of Derek’s neck, sliding the loose shirt collar away, gliding over the bare skin of his broad shoulder. He halted just as he reached Derek’s marks, caressing them gently.
Derek's entire body shuddered at the intimate contact and Stiles shifted in response, clumsy and fast. He twisted his body at a dangerous angle in a hungry attempt to deepen the kiss even more. He winced at the resulting sharp pain.
“Fuck- my back...” he groaned.
Derek’s lips curved in a wide smile, his eyes crinkling with a mischievous gleam. “Uh huh. I can do that,” he whispered low into Stiles’ ear with his special, husky voice, teasing him.
Of course, Derek thoroughly enjoyed the way his mate did a double take at that. Stiles gaped at Derek with his whiskey-colored, bambi eyes before breaking into a silly, beaming grin.
And, somewhere behind them, Derek heard as Alpha Stilinski let out a strangled noise.