The first time they met he was eight-years-old and being attacked by a bear
He had gone deep, deep into the woods despite his father's warning and when it got cold he went into a cave
A cave that, incidentally, belonged to a bear
He managed to get out, but the bear had chased him and cornered him up against a large rock
Just as he thought he was going to be bear chow, however, he heard a loud snarling and looked up
Standing on the other side was a wolf, a relatively small wolf but a wolf regardless
The wolf sported a coat of thick black fur, bared teeth, and eyes such an electric blue that he felt shaken to his core by looking into them
The wolf snarled louder and louder, snapping a few times before making a run towards the bear
And apparently his bluff worked, the bear backed down and ran away, leaving the boy and the wolf alone together
They stared at eachother for a long time, exchanging some kind of mutual understanding, before the wolf took off back into the woods
The second time they met was a full ten years later
He was with a pack now
A werewolf pack, even though he himself was a witch
But how that happened was a long story for another time
They were staring down another pack, one full of wolves, including a very territory-hungry Alpha who seemed intent on taking land that didn't belong to him
And then he glanced over to the wolf flanking his side
A massive black wolf... with the same electric blue eyes as the one from ten years ago...
They made eye contact, but neither of them moved or made a sound
It was just a long, lingering stare that wouldn't back down
It went uninterrupted for a long time, until the growl of the Alpha could be heard
And after that everything happened too fast to register
The black wolf didn't make a sound, but turned and ran away as fast as he could
This managed to catch the Alpha off guard so much that it gave the witch's pack a step up, and because of that one action, the opposing pack retreated
That was only a few days ago....
Heavy, loud breaths echoed through the woods as well as the sound of footfall against the forest floor
His heart was hammering in his ears and he could feel his legs starting to shiver and quake underneath him
He had been running for what felt like an eternity and his lungs were burning, there was just no way he was going to make it, not for much longer anyway
But the wolf behind him wasn't letting up or giving him room or time for a break, he was relentless and the witch wasn't able to keep much distance between them
Within only a few more moments he found himself stumbling and fell backwards, squeezing his eyes shut and cringing
"Come on man don't you remember saving me? TWICE? Wouldn't it suck to end all of that for a poorly tasting Stiles flavored snack!?" he panted
He waited for a response- well... waited to be mauled
And he kept waiting...
And he kept waiting
And he kept waiting
But nothing happened
Finally, after nothing at all seemed to have occurred for the longest time, he opened his eyes and looked down, wondering if the wolf had just changed his mind like he had a few weeks ago
He wasn't expecting to see the wolf collapsed on his side, seemingly barely alive
"Hey... hey buddy? Are you ok?" Stiles asked worriedly as he crawled closer
"Buddy?" he repeated quietly, giving the wolf a little shake
He let out a harsh breath, staring up at Stiles with what looked like... pleading...
It was unnerving and it made him shudder and cringe and feel ... horrible, like he had done something or...
He glanced over, seeing a spot of red among all the black
The moment he reached out to touch it the wolf flinched, letting out a horrendous cry
But Stiles was determined, he grabbed the wolf's foot and held it still, despite the way the wolf tried to shake him away, and brushed the fur on his leg to the side
"You're hurt..." he said quietly, looking up towards the wolf's face and noting how he tried to avoid eye contact
"You weren't chasing me to attack me.... you were chasing me because you need help..."
It was a jarring realization, but the moment Stiles made it he became determined to take care of the wolf
Stiles was, ofcourse, nothing if not stubborn, and he owed this wolf alot... this was the least he could do...
"There's a wolf in our store,"
Slowly, Stiles looked up from the herbs he was sorting and gave a slow, knowing nod to the man at the door
"Yes, Scott, that would be ... a ... fact?"
"Why is there a wolf in our shop?"
"Well that's a bit of a long story..." Stiles explained
There was a bit of a pause as they stared at eachother
"BUT the short version is... this is the wolf," Stiles explained
"Wait... THE wolf?" Scott asked in surprise
Stiles nodded vigorously
"Yep, THE wolf,"
"The wolf that you sort of lowkey think is your soulmate or something?"
"That would be THE wolf yes," Stiles confirmed with a smirk and a wink
"So why is he in our shop?"
"He's hurt Scott, his leg is chewed up really, really badly, he chased me down to help him, he came to me directly, that has to mean something,"
"No, you can't 'Stiles' me Scott, after all the sketchy people YOU'VE brought back here-"
"He was with a pack that tried to kill us,"
"Allison shot arrows at us!"
"But we KNEW Allison,"
"Yeah and I know The Wolf too!"
"Stiles you don't even know his name," Scott pointed out slowly
Stiles huffed, snorting and rolling his eyes
"I need to atleast get his name,"
Kira stared anxiously over at Stiles as he set the last stone in place and cleared his throat, taking a few steps back
"I don't know if this is such a good idea Stiles, shouldn't we wait for him to wake up first?" she proposed
"Usually I would agree with you but you know... desperate times and all that... there really isn't any proof that he isn't going to try to kill us in our sleep," Stiles replied with a small shrug, clearing his throat and stepping to the side as he started reciting the spell out of the book in his hands
The wolf started squirming, making Stiles and Kira cringe
"-inunc pecus saltem-"
Then started in with the wimpering, and it seemed that each word Stiles spoke only put the wolf in more and more pain
"-ad se evocavit-"
Before he could even get the last syllable of the last word out of his mouth a cloud of smoke surrounded the wolf and when it dissipated, in the wolf's place, lay a man
He was striking to look at, not just because of his beauty, but because of a very significant marking on his back...
"A triskelion? Yeah," Stile said quietly
Kira stared at him worriedly, rubbing her hands together
"Yeah... he's a Hale,"
"You're a Hale,"
The green eyes- if you could really call that combination of green, gold, and grey just "Green" that is- of the werewolf flickered up to Stiles and he gave a small nod
"You're Derek Hale, one of the only survivors left,"
Stiles was quiet for a moment, seemingly weighing his options before speaking again
"So... do you... I mean... do you have some kind of selective mutism or something? Is there a reason you aren't talking?"
"Throat..... hurts," Derek finally said
His voice was astoundingly gentler than one would believe he could be at first glance and Stiles could have given himself a round of applause for figuring it out
But he didn't- for more reasons than one-
"You haven't been in human form in a long time have you buddy?" he frowned
Derek swallowed, looking ashamed as he stared down at the sheets, wich suddenly seemed entirely more interesting than Stiles
Stiles cursed, running a hand down his face and letting out a heavy sigh
"That... that wasn't an accusation..."
Derek looked up at him in surprise but said nothing, curling in on himself a little bit tighter, wich seemed to be his reaction to almost anything
"So you haven't been human in a few months, is that right?"
Derek gave a small nod of his head and Stiles leaned back, alright... he could work with this...
"So how come you haven't been human in months?"
Derek wrinkled his nose, glancing up at Stiles with narrowed eyes
"Right, right, your throat," the witch muttered, rubbing the back of his neck
He was preparing to try again when Derek interrupted, answering his original question
"I.... was .. looking for... someone,"
"You were looking for someone? In your wolf form?"
A nod- yes
"Someone... someone you know?"
Another nod- yes again
Stiles had a feeling he knew where this was going and lowered his voice as he spoke
Derek went still, picking at the white sheets covering him from the waist down and pulling them up a little higher
"Your sister is missing?"
His head barely moved, but Stiles considered it a yes
"And you were looking for her in your wolf form?"
That time it was atleast a little bit more firm and noticeable
"Why were you looking for her in your wolf form? Wouldn't you have had more luck if you could ask people if they'd seen her?"
Derek shook his head, narrowing his eyes a bit
"Oh.... let me guess, you caught a phantom of her scent and for some reason you believed that being with that pack would help you find her, then you got in too deep and were conditioned to follow the orders of the Alpha? You're a beta, it's pretty hard to go against an Alpha's orders, even when they aren't your own,"
"'Oh'?" Stiles asked in confusion
"O-O...mega..." Derek rasped
Stiles went pale, feeling the tips of his fingers go cold as he swallowed
"You're an Omega?" he asked quietly
Derek closed his eyes, taking a shaking breath that obviously caused him some sort of pain as he winced from the intake of air
"I can't.. feel Laura's .... Alpha spark anymore..."
If Derek couldn't feel his sister's spark, that meant either she had given it to someone.... or it was taken from her....
Frankly Stiles didn't know what was worse....
"Ok.. ok so you went looking for your sister and thought that being with that other pack was gonna lead you to her, when Alpha Power Hungry decided to use you for his own agenda and tricked or manipulated you into doing his bidding, then you saw me and I somehow snapped you out of it and you ran off, that was a few days ago, what happened next? How'd you get hurt?"
"Alpha found me... I got away...."
"He found you, attacked you, this is what you got away with?"
Derek gave a jerky nod, cringing on his next exhale
"Ok, ok... don't worry, we're done for now ok? No more questions I promise, just rest alright? I'm going to get you something to take the pain out,"
Derek gave one last nod before closing his eyes and turning his head away, not watching Stiles as he got up and headed out of the room
This was worse than he thought...
A million times worse than he thought....
"Derek Hale? Your mystical soulmate wolf is Derek Hale?"
Stiles sighed, dragging his hands down his face as he paced across the floor
"Yeah, Malia, except not exactly, I keep telling you guys this isn't some sort of weird soulmate thing,"
"Then what is it?"
"I... I don't know! I don't know but that isn't important right now!"
"Stiles you should just try to be open, maybe he feels it too, maybe he knows what it is," Kira said with a positive smile
"Easy for you to say, you don't have some strange connection with werewolf royalty,"
"Lydia, not helping," Stiles groaned
"Yeah, I don't know if you can really call the Hales royalty," Scott pointed out
Stiles squinted, his face scrunching up slightly
"Ok... not the point I was trying to make but thanks for trying, look this isn't about me or being connected to Derek or even about him being a Hale, this is about a guy who's hurt and scared and alone and probably an Omega who just lost his last remaining family member who isn't insane, and who's still running from a jacked up crazy Alpha who attacked him, he needs us, please tell me you've got my back here,"
"Stiles, OFCOURSE we do," Lydia said softly, reaching out and taking his hand
Stiles squeezed, taking a breath and rubbing his head with his free hand
"Thanks... really, thanks,"
"No problem, we're your pack, we're here to help, and it isn't like we would've turned Derek away to begin with," Kira added
Stiles allowed a ghost of a smile to touch his lips, giving a small, affirmative nod
"Yeah, yeah I know,"
"Your pack made a get well card for me?"
The question is slow, hesitant, and utterly bewildered in a way that kind of breaks Stiles' heart
"Yeah, we did, and if ... when you feel better Scotty wants to talk to you about this being your pack too,"
Derek looked away from the homemade card and set it down next to him, staring up at Stiles with the most heavy look of suspicion he had ever seen
He wondered vaguely if that's anything like the same look he gives to people...
"Why are you doing all of this for me? Why are you being so NICE to me?" he asked cautiously
"Well, there are a few different ways to look at this, um... maybe it's because you've saved my life twice and I've only saved your's once so I still owe you, or that despite popular opinion I am actually a decent person... although that one may be hard to swallow... also that you're a good person who's had alot of bad things happen to him and I don't want to see more bad things happen to you, and maybe round it off with us having some weird connection that my pack keeps nagging me about... I don't know, some of it? All of it? None of it? Pick your poison,"
Derek still looked like he wasn't very trusting in any of this but he also seemed somewhat resigned
Stiles just sighed, licking his lips and leaning back in his chair
"Why did you save me anyway?" he finally asked
After a decade of wanting to know, he was finally asking and it felt... it felt weird, more than anything...
Derek finally looked up, raising an eyebrow thinly in Stiles' direction
"Because I hated the person that I had become, I had been... gone, for a long time, but when I saw you again... it made me remember who I used to be, and I wanted to be that person again,"
"Well.. I was actually talking about the FIRST time you saved me but good to know..."
"The first time? Well maybe despite popular opinion I am actually a decent person,"
"Clever," Stiles snorted, watching for a moment as Derek subtly tried to pull the blankets up further around him
Stiles hadn't really noticed it but it was probably kind of cold in the room, most of the werewolves had such high body heat that they just left the air on all the time to suit them but with Derek still healing his internal heating was probably a bit faulty
Wordlessly, Stiles walked over to the closet, grabbing a few spare blankets and draping them over the other wolf
"Thanks," Derek said quietly
"Yeah, ofcourse," Stiles smiled back, giving him a little wave before making his way out of the room, deciding to give Derek some privacy and to get out of there before he screwed things up with talking like he usually did
Roughly three days after Derek Hale arrived at Mclinski Apothecary Stiles looked up from the runes he was drawing and smiled at Derek's slightly blushing face as the werewolf offered him an envelope
"Hey look who's walking without a limp! You all healed up?"
"I think so," he answered quietly as Stiles took the envelope
"That's good, maybe soon you can get back to running huh? I know how cooped up you wolves feel when you aren't," he mused, taking the page out of the envelope and staring at it for a moment before smiling brightly
"A thank you card?"
"It would have been better with paint but Lydia only let me have crayons to 'prevent a mess'..." Derek added shyly
"Are you kidding me? This is great! It's beautifull!!"
"You... you really think so...?"
"Yeah ofcourse I do! It's gorgeous, man, how did you do this?"
Because when Stiles thought about a thank-you card made with crayons, he thought about scribbles and poorly drawn flowers that couldn't be colored inside the lines, not .... this masterpeice that Derek gave him...
"Well I'm a professional artist or... I used to be,"
Stiles frowned, eyebrows nitting together as he started to ask what Derek meant by 'used to be', unfortunately though he was interrupted by the presence of Scott, who was tumbling in excitedly to give Stiles a new order for herbs
"Man I'm starting to think everybody who comes in here just wants inscence or sage, when's the last time we got something cool like a ward? Hell I'd settle for a fertility mixture at this point," he huffed, clearly not sharing his freind's excitement
"I um... should really go, leave you to your work... thank you for helping, I appreciate it," Derek said quietly, almost under his breath as he started heading for the door
"Hang on a second, where do you think you're going?" Stiles frowned, jumping to his feet and striding over to him
"Um... out? ... Away?" Derek replied slowly, glancing between Stiles and Scott as if that would somehow answer his slightly confused questions
"Because... I'm healed now....?"
"Derek, you have no pack, no family, no HOME, you have no place to go,"
"Thanks for reminding me," Derek huffed with a sour look
"No no I meant.... stay,"
This would be the moment that Scott decides to subtlety slip off to the back room and leave Stiles and Derek to it
Whatever "it" decides to ultimately become
"Stay?" Derek echoed, although this time it was a question
"Yeah, I mean... you're alone, and I don't think you should be alone when you have a pack right here who's perfectly willing to accept you,"
"I still don't understand why," he frowned, narrowing his eyes and wrinkling his nose
"Maybe I still owe you one, I did only save your life ONCE so far,"
"You don't owe me Stiles, and I think you're going to regret this," Derek insisted
"Why would I regret this? You said you're an artist right? That's great, practically kismet, because it just so happens that we NEED an artist, I'm the best artist we've got around here and obviously my skills are a little lacking, but somebody's gotta do our advertisements and labels and-"
"And who's doing them right now?"
Make no mistake, just because Derek hadn't been overly observant lately due to his wound, it didn't mean that he hadn't noticed the beautifull calligraphy on the labels and signs that Stiles just didn't seem to match the rather messy "skills" that he had seen Stiles display when the witch was drawing a map for him so he could figure out where he was
"Um... Lydia, but she isn't happy about it, c'mon you'd be doing us a favor,"
"A pack for some simple artwork? Really?"
"It's a start isn't it?" Stiles pressed
"I mean... we could help you find your sister, see if she's really- ... see if we can find her,"
Derek looked down, falling silent for a moment
"I guess I do owe you the art for taking care of me,"
Stiles huffed, rolling his eyes and stepping closer
"Aren't you the one who said there's no debt between us?" he asked quietly
"Things change don't they?" Derek reasoned, stepping closer as well until there was only an inch or two between them
"Not these things," Stiles argued, reaching out to gently place a hand on his arm
"Sometimes they do," Derek shrugged back, gently placing his fingers beneath Stiles' chin
"Mmm... agree to disagree," Stiles smirked back, leaning up and closing his eyes as he pressed a soft, gentle kiss to Derek's lips
Derek wrapped an arm around him, keeping the witch in place and allowing his own eyes to fall shut
"I won't leave," he said after a moment, lips still pressed against the other pair
"Good," Stiles smirked
"I'd just have to run after you if you did,"