Actions

Work Header

Actual Puppy Derek Hale

Work Text:

Derek hated hunters. He really hated hunters. What he hated more than hunters, were the hunters who traveled. Traveling hunters viewed themselves as self-proclaimed ‘distributors of justice’, but never bothered to spend time learning about their targets. They came in, went for the kill, and blew out of town faster than a man finding out he knocked up his one night stand.

Really, introspection on the level of loathing he felt towards traveling hunters was ill-advised when Derek was currently high-tailing it across the forest because two of them were chasing after him. It was probably a father-son team or something, given how sloppy the younger one had been and how much the older one had yelled. They’d come out of nowhere, tossing a monkshood smoke bomb right into the living room of the rotted Hale house and shooting at Derek the second he’d rolled off the tattered family couch and made a run for it.

Dusk had already settled not too long ago, which Derek knew made it easier for him to maneuver through the trees and foliage while keeping the hunters at a distance. He was wearing them down already, having made a massive circle around the woods in an attempt to air the house out before trying to head back. Their aim was good; but not as good as Derek’s speed. He was new, for an alpha, but he wasn’t new at being a werewolf. He just needed to make it back home, where he could use his knowledge of the structure to his advantage.

Until his ears caught the sound of a gun going off, and his back pricked with a sudden fire of pain--not bullet pain; dart pain. Derek stumbled, grabbing a nearby tree and using it to shove himself forward, to keep moving. His body began to burn and his muscles protested with each step he took. Derek’s vision swam and he prayed desperately that whatever had hit him wasn’t wolfsbane or something equally bad for his livelihood.

He’d never harmed another, they had no reason to put him down like this. Sure, being the only Hale, and subsequently the only werewolf, left in town left him open game, but mostly for play. It wasn’t uncommon for hunters to use him as practice, to track him down and rough him up as a means of keeping themselves ‘in shape’ for when they came across an actual hostile creature. Derek didn’t care for the treatment, but it had always been better than the alternative of death.

Derek stumbled, and his right leg gave out, forcing him to the ground. He felt tired, so very tired, and he suddenly didn’t want to fight anymore. He just wanted to lay on the floor, surrounded by leaves and moss, and sleep forever. His heart and his mind were telling him to get up, that he needed to keep running, but his body could barely respond to the simple command of moving forward and dragging himself along the ground; legs dead weight behind him.

He knew the second the hunters were there. They flanked him on both sides, guns cocking.

Derek used the last of his strength to lash out, teeth gnashing and giving them the angriest snarl he could muster. The younger one took a step back, but didn’t seem to be very cowed. Derek’s vision swam, and he forgot how many hunters there were when one--two--one set of legs crouched in front of him. A hand buried itself into his hair, forcing Derek’s head back, as if he could focus enough to look into the hunter’s eyes.

“Lot of fight for an omega,” the man mused, shoving Derek’s head back so far that his hair pulled at his scalp and his neck strained to swallow. Derek snapped his teeth again, claws digging into the dirt to try and at least bite part of the man holding him. His head was thrown to the ground, so hard that Derek felt painfully dizzy for a long minute as the two hunters began to talk.

“Give me the collar.”

“You sure we’re supposed to do this?”

Movement, and a rustling of fabric. “Nothing in the code says we can’t keep ‘em as a wolf. Makes it easier in the long run, anyway. They get stuck as a wolf--” the hunter lifted Derek’s head again, sliding something around his neck that felt coarse and reeked of hemp and wolfs bane, “--they go feral. When they go feral, we can kill ‘em.”

The material tightened around Derek’s neck, just shy of choking, and the effect was instantaneous. Derek could feel his body rejecting the barrier, the constraint around him that was forcing him to shift. He choked, sucking in a sharp breath of air and clawing at the earth.

It hurt; it hurt and it burned because something was forcing him to shift and he didn’t want to. He wanted to stay human, he wanted to run, to leave and hide away from these hunters. He’d never even shifted before, he’d only been an alpha for a couple of days. Laura’s death was still fresh in his mind; neither of them had expected the rest of the Argents to come seeking vengeance after Kate.

Laura had never told him how to control an alpha shift--given that it had taken her over a year to figure it out on her own after their parents died, and neither of them had really thought that Derek would ever need to know anyway. They had thought they were safe.

It was overwhelming and dizzying. He could feel a base, uncontrollable desire to redirect his pain onto others. It made him scream and howl and writhe, even as the hunters rolled him onto his back. He was going to hurt people, he was going to lose his mind and get himself killed because he couldn’t stop his body from changing.

“Help me get him in the truck before the shift makes the tranquilizer wear off.”

Derek’s face burned as his bones shifted. His entire body felt like he’d been dropped into a pit of fire, muscles and sinew rearranging, bones breaking and re-forming into a new skeletal structure.

Terror licked at him like acid; ate away at him until he couldn’t breathe beyond the agonized howl that tore itself from his chest. Hands were grabbing at him, pulling on his legs mid-shift to drag him across the forest floor.

No!” Derek shouted, though it came out as an actual bark, not a human plea. He tried to pull at the earth, but the dirt and leaves slipped underneath the paws his hands had become. The adrenaline coursing through him brought forth new clarity, and Derek started to struggle. He wrenched to the side, snapping at the hand around his ankle and frightening away the younger hunter. It was enough for him to struggle free, scrambling to four legs and bolting forward.

He could hear the hunters cursing behind him, but he kept going, kept running until there was no longer forest underfoot but pavement. The flash of headlights blinded him and Derek barely had a chance to register the squealing of tires before pain crunched along his side. A yelp broke forth, and Derek couldn’t stop his legs from giving out. His body was already trying to heal, trying to mend broken flesh and bone as he heard someone--a young man-- curse and scramble out of the vehicle.

A human.

A human meant the hunters couldn’t interfere. Derek stopped struggling to his feet, releasing the loudest whine he could manage, and dropped back to the pavement.

“Oh shit. Oh shit. Is that a wolf? Is it-- did I hit someone’s dog? Oh my god,” the human scrambled over, hovering nearby as if afraid that Derek would bite him. That wouldn’t do, because he might leave Derek and call animal control instead. Derek whined again, still disoriented from the shift, the last of the tranquilizer, and the pure energy coursing through him from his fight-or-flight reaction. He lifted his head, staring as piteously as he could at the human, and whined again.

The human was a young man, probably in his last year of high school or first years of college, and he looked completely freaked out. Belatedly, Derek noticed that the kid looked familiar, but he was more concerned with not being locked in a cage until he went out of his mind and was killed in cold blood.

He whimpered, a high, stuttering keen that seemed to get through to the kid. The human fumbled with himself for a moment, arms flailing every-which-way, and then he reached a hand out. Derek set his head on the pavement, glancing up to see the hunters hovering just inside the shield of the treeline, and went completely limp when a palm landed hesitantly on his neck.

“Hey buddy, it’ll be okay. I’m not gonna hurt you,” the human soothed, his voice wavering and his heart thundering so loud in his chest that Derek felt like he should be the one doing the comforting. “I’m just gonna. Uhm. Try to do something, Jesus, I didn’t know dogs came in your size.”

The human stood, jogging back to his jeep to mess around with something inside of it. Derek looked up, watching the hunters motion to one another and disappear back into the forest.

Heh. Nice job trying to outsmart a wolf.

Derek had to force himself not to fight back when he felt an arm slip under his body, and instead moved with the human to make it easier to be lifted up. He was really, genuinely, terrified that he was going to be dropped as the kid grunted and groaned and stumbled as he tried to set Derek down on an old blanket that smelled like beach sand and ocean water.

At least the human hadn’t tried to actually carry him to the jeep. That would have ended horribly.

“Come on, Marmaduke.” Suddenly, the blanket was being dragged towards the jeep. Derek wondered, belatedly, how this scrawny human was going to get him inside of the car, when he was hefted up again and dropped a little gracelessly into the trunk.

Huh. Maybe the kid wasn’t completely skin and bones.

So glad Danny helped me with training over the summer,” the human gasped tiredly, reaching out, patting Derek on the head, and then closing the back door to the jeep.

The ride to--wherever they were going--was eventful only in the fact that the kid, apparently, had bottled up all of his panicking until he’d gotten Derek into his Jeep. Derek faded in and out to the sounds of the human yelling to someone on the phone.

“Seriously, Scott, he’s like the size of your mom! Come on, what else am I supposed to do with him? It’s like--not even eight yet. Can’t you just call Deaton and ask him to stay open for a little longer? I don’t want this thing to DIE, Scott. What if watching an animal die is the same as a person. I don’t want to be able to see thestrals, Scott. You don’t understand the SITUATION. HERE.”

His voice hit a pitch high enough that Derek had to wince just the tiniest bit. His body had already reached the last stages of healing, but all of his senses were heightened in his shifted form. The only upside was that the kid was going to take him to Deaton. Derek had met Deaton a small handful of times, before the hunters had come after Laura for killing Kate. If anyone could understand and hopefully help, it would be him.

The jeep jarred as it came to a stop, the kid jumping out of the car and running off. When the trunk door opened, Derek was staring at Deaton, the human kid, and a stretcher designed for hauling animals from cars and into the clinic.

Derek released a loud whine, and then a loud growl when Deaton pulled out a tranquilizer gun. He saw the recognition flicker in the man’s eyes as the kid released a sigh of, “you’re growling. That’s good. It means you aren’t dead yet.”

“I don’t think he’ll be needing this, Stiles. Why don’t you hold onto it while I get him on the stretcher.” Deaton handed the tranq gun to the human--Stiles-- and Derek couldn’t help but relax the tiniest bit as he was eased onto the gurney. He didn’t think it wise to move too much after having just been hit by a car. He doubted Stiles was that oblivious.

Derek couldn’t help but give Deaton a soft whine and press his muzzle into the man’s hand from where it was pulling the gurney. Deaton glanced down, giving Derek a reassuring grin. “It’s been a while, Derek.”

Oh thank God. Deaton recognized him. Now all they had to do was get Stiles to scram and Deaton could take off the collar and let Derek get back to scoping out potential pack members. He already had a few at the school who looked like some good kids in need of help.

Stiles cocked his head, following Deaton as they went into the back room of the clinic. “You know him?”

Deaton didn’t look shocked. In fact, he looked very confident. It was the kind of blank, peaceful look that Derek dreaded to see on his face. The last time Derek had seen that expression, Deaton had let him fiddle with a bunch of glass tubes and Derek had ended up breaking a bottle of some foreign strand of wolfsbane that, after one sniff, had him hallucinating for three hours.

“He’s Derek Hale’s pet dog.”

No.

No no no. No. No no. Deaton, no.

Stiles made a face. “They named the dog after their kid?”

Deaton laughed, and Derek kind of contemplated the merits of biting his throat out. “No, Stiles. I do think that Derek named the dog after himself when he was little. Kids do that.”

“So it is a dog, then?”

Deaton glanced down at Derek, and Derek tried his very hardest to glare back to the best of his ability when he was stuck as a wolf. “He’s a halfbreed. Wolf and German Sheppard.” Deaton explained. Derek felt offended, and he hoped that Deaton could pick up on it through sheer mental will alone.

“Oh.”

Deaton proceeded to poke and prod at Derek like he was actually doing more than making himself look busy. “Last I heard, Derek’s been out of town since his sister died. Do you think you can keep an eye on him while I try to give the dog sitter a call?”

Derek had no idea what Deaton was even talking about, even when the guy went off to use the phone. He had some inkling of an idea when Deaton picked up the phone and proceeded to hold a conversation with dead air. He sounded surprised, sympathetic, and then ended the fake call with, “I’ll try to find someone to watch him for you until Derek gets back. I hope your mother gets well soon. Have a good night.”

Deaton hung up, and dialed again.

This time, Derek felt a little more than mildly offended, especially when Deaton started to hold a mock conversation with him on the phone. Derek felt violated in the most intimate manner, wounded to the very core. He had things to do, a pack to build, he couldn’t be subjected to the whims of some vet who happened to know about the supernatural.

Deaton turned around and he pressed his fingertips together. Oh, that was a gesture Derek knew well. He may have lived in a burnt-out shell of a house, but he’d grown up watching cartoons as a kid. Only evil-villains and counselors did the finger push.

“I just got off the phone with Derek Hale,” Deaton began.

No you didn’t.

“Since the pet sitter has had a family emergency, he would like to know if you would be willing to watch his dog for him.”

Stiles looked ready to protest, mouth dropping open and his hands twisting out in a ’what the hell’ motion. Derek wished he could speak, if solely for the purpose of goading Stiles into turning Deaton down.

“I can give you community service hours that you can put towards college.”

Stiles’ head snapped up, heart jumping with piqued interest.

Derek was so screwed.

[x]

“Man, I am so glad Walmart is open 24 hours,” Stiles told Derek cheerily, opening Derek’s door. He reached out to pat Derek on the head and got his fingers nipped at for his efforts. Derek was so very not glad that Walmart was open 24 hours. His ass hurt from where Deaton had taken great pleasure in stuffing him full of vaccinations, and now his stomach was rolling and his joints ached while his body adjusted to all of the new chemicals pumping through his veins.

“Calm down, Cujo,“ Stiles muttered under his breath, reaching into the back of the jeep and pulling out a-- why did he even have a police-issue K9 dog vest. Better yet, why was he shoving it over Derek’s head. “There we go. I knew this would come in handy.”

It frightened Derek to know that Stiles was the type to hoard things for ‘just in case’

Stiles hooked the simple leash that Deaton had given him onto Derek’s collar, and Derek found himself half-dragged into the proverbial hell known as Walmart.

Apparently, putting a K9 Unit vest on a behemoth of a dog was warrant enough for everyone to steer clear, which was completely okay with Derek. It was like they had a quarter mile radius of free space to walk down the aisles without interruption; people actually shying away if Derek aimed just the tiniest curl if his snout at them.

Derek was a little too comfortable with how much he liked that.

“We should get you a badass collar.”

Derek snapped his head up, ears perking forward when he saw Stiles perusing a display of dog collars. There wasn’t a reason to point out that they likely didn’t make one large enough, since Derek’s shoulder almost reached Stiles’ hip, but it didn’t matter because taking off the collar the hunters had put on him would remove the forced shift anyway.

Stiles plucked one from the back of the rack--dark green camouflage print--which Derek noted was not a bad choice, and turned to Derek. Oh yes, Stiles could buy all the collars he wanted because that would mean Derek wouldn’t be stuck in this wolf form and he could resume his life.

“You like this one?”

Derek dropped his mouth open, tongue lolling out and eager pants escaping him--the whole ‘excited puppy’ shebang. Anything to get rid of the damn collar he already had on. Stiles’ face lit up for a split second, and then it fell instantly. It made Derek’s ears drop, because that was not a good face. That face did not mean good things.

“I’m only really taking care of you until the human Derek comes back… I shouldn’t replace the collar he bought you…” Stiles reached out, scratching behind Derek’s ear like he could comfort Derek from the horror striking him. “It could have sentimental value.”

Fuck sentimental value. Derek was stuck as a godamn wolf--and posing as a dog. There was negative sentimentality attached to this.

Stiles put the collar back on the shelf and Derek released a whine for good measure. All that really did was make Stiles reek of guilt before tugging Derek towards the section lined with dog food.

Instantly, Stiles went for the biggest bag of, literally, the cheapest food they had. Derek’s stomach lurched at the sheer idea of having to ingest it, and was mildly offended that Stiles thought Derek would actually eat it. He yipped, but Stiles kept pulling the bag out, and so he barked and growled to try and get his attention.

“I know you’re probably hungry, but we have to buy the stuff first,” Stiles cajoled, lifting up the sack of the world’s most unpalatable dog food ever. Derek may have panicked a little, but he really didn’t want that food, so he surged forward and bit into the corner, tearing the bag open and causing food to spill all over the aisle.

“Shit!” Stiles cursed loudly, fumbling to throw the bag down before the entire thing emptied itself. “What the hell, dude?”

Derek barked, because, hello, obviously that was not the food to go with. Stiles gave him a dirty look and reached for another bag of the same damn food. Derek went in for the kill a second time and Stiles dropped it before any more damage could be done.

“Okay no. You are not going to be a princess about this,” Stiles hissed, going for a bag of slightly-less-nauseating food. Derek bit down on the sleeve of Stiles’ hoodie and dragged his arm back, growling lowly.

“Oh my god this is like a scene from Air Bud. Dude no, bad dog. Bad Pluto.”

Stiles swatted him on the nose and Derek jerked back in surprise.

It seemed Stiles looked moderately shamed for having smacked him, because he was reaching, instead, for a package of soft food meant for smaller breeds of dog.

Oh hell yes. Even through the packaging, that stuff smelled 10x more edible.

Derek wagged his tail.

“You have got to be kidding.”

Derek yipped.

Stiles grabbed the entire display box and set it inside of the shopping cart. “I am so charging your owner for this when he gets back.”

For good measure, Derek bumped his shoulder into Stiles hip. Only he bumped a little too hard because Stiles lurched forward and almost knocked the shopping cart over.

Oops.

“This is very degrading for a big scary dog like you to be eating Pomeranian food,” Stiles said, even as he reached down to scratch behind Derek’s ear, “I just want you to know that.”

[x]

Stiles lived with his father, and the K9 vest made much more sense when Derek caught sight of the police cruiser sitting in the driveway. The car ride to Stiles’ house had mostly been Stiles explaining over the phone to his father why he would be bringing a dog home, and then pulling out the ‘community service hours’ card just like Deaton had.

Absently, Derek wondered if he could bribe teenagers into accepting the bite by telling them it would earn community service hours. It wouldn’t hurt to try.

“Stiles. You said you were bringing a dog home, not a behemoth. Jesus, Stiles, is that thing even domesticated?”

Derek tucked his tail between his legs and ducked his head down, because he really didn’t want to be out on the streets like this when the hunters were still in town. Stiles pressed his hand against Derek’s back, protesting, “He’s a half-breed! He’s good! He’s just a little bitey sometimes, but I think that’s just passive-aggressive violence as a means to coping with a stressful situation. He’s been abandoned and hit by a car, dad!”

“You’re the one who hit him with the car, Stiles.”

“So not the point.” Stiles sighed grievously.

Stiles father exhaled heavily, shrugged his shoulders, and gave Stiles a half twist of his head before saying. “If he craps in the house, you’re the one who has to clean it up.”

“Well, yeah, I figured that.” Stiles shot back, ushering Derek in the house, his arms still laden with two shopping bags of dog chow and another one full of toys Derek never intended on playing with.

“You say that now,” Stiles’ father muttered ominously. Derek seriously wondered if his entire time stuck as a wolf was just going to be him feeling offended at everyone, because he was pretty sure he equated to at least a 3 year old dog. Also, totally implied that he, Derek Hale, did not know how to house-train a dog. Not that Derek was a dog, he was a wolf, and therefore he didn’t need to be house-trained in the first place.

Stiles snarked something back to his father before he led Derek upstairs and into his bedroom. Derek had to recoil temporarily, because he was not accustomed to the scent of a teenage boy’s room in his wolf form. Everything reeked of Stiles, Stiles’ sweat, Stiles’ spunk, and also a spattering of scents from people he must have interacted with on a daily basis. It wasn’t a bad scent, per-say, but it was temporarily overpowering to be completely surrounded by it when he’d only just met the kid a few hours prior.

“All right, buddy.” Stiles opened up the closet, like he actually thought was going to set a blanket on the ground for Derek to sleep on. Derek whuffed, just to let Stiles know that wasn’t acceptable, and hopped up onto Stiles’ bed. He kind of liked how the kid smelled, though he felt uncomfortable with how heady the scent of sex was when he stuck his nose under the quilt. Instead he opted for using the pillow, which was mostly a mixture of some sweat and shampoo.

He peeked around the room while Stiles continued to obliviously rummage around in the closet. At least, being a werewolf, he was still able to see things in muted colors. It was like someone just sucked half of the vibrancy out of everything. It was still better than being completely colorblind.

“Dude.”

Derek looked over, and he kind of wished he could still smirk, because Stiles was gaping at him with an armful of old quilts printed with Power Rangers and Thomas the Tank Engine. “You are like, two of me. You can so not sleep on the bed.”

Derek wagged his tail, ears perking up when he heard it thumping on the mattress. Stiles did seem pretty susceptible to the cute and fluffy rou--

“No.”

Or not.

“Get down. Bad dog.” Stiles dropped the blankets, pointing to the pile like Derek was actually going to listen. “Down.”

Derek grunted and rolled onto his back, wriggling around and knocking pillows everywhere just to show Stiles how unlikely it was that he was going to get off of the bed.

Stiles marched over, hesitated, and then grabbed the Power Rangers comforter before throwing it over Derek. Everything went dark for a second and Derek had barely a breath to yelp in surprise when Stiles tugged the comforter and wrenched him off the bed, sending Derek to the floor in a painful heap.

…Clever little shit.

Stiles, apparently, knew what was going to happen as soon as Derek navigated his way out of the blanket prison, because when Derek finally managed to stick his head out, Stiles was laying across the bed and pulling his laptop out of his book bag. Derek could care less about the laptop, because he wasn’t really inclined to sleeping on the floor at all.

The floor smelled like dirty feet and lots and lots of Doritos crumbs. That in mind, Derek leapt back up on the bed, scrambling over Stiles’ bony legs for a second and then half crushing the human as he tried to find a position that was comfortable. Stiles wheezed, shoving at Derek and really getting nowhere at all.

Derek pressed up between the wall and Stiles’ side, head resting on the pillow and his legs draped over Stiles’ hips.

“I hate you.” Stiles hissed vehemently, but the skip of his heart told Derek that Stiles really didn’t hate him much at all.

It was kind of nice to have someone to share the bed with. Even if he was a wolf for the duration of it.

[x]

Living with Stiles Stilinski and his father was really not something Derek had ever anticipated happening. It was already on day three and he and Stiles had an unspoken agreement on a few key items. The biggest one was that Stiles was to never try to ever use a squirt bottle on Derek again if he didn’t want holes chomped it in it and water dumped all over his bed from Derek chewing the bottle while perched on the mattress.

Also; the only way to get Derek to do something was coaxing him with food and the most expensive brand of dog treats. Derek was not a fool, and he wasn’t above accepting bribery. He was a dog, anyway, no shame in that.

Despite that, Derek was still trying to adjust to the surprisingly strict morning routine that Stiles had, apparently, regimented since middle school. Spending months living off inheritance money with nothing to do kind of made anyone lazy. Werewolves were no exception, it seemed.

Each morning, Stiles got up three hours before school and dragged Derek with him for a morning run. He actually liked the running, it kept him active and he maybe loved all of the scents he could pick up around the neighborhood.

He found out the first day that stopping to smell them, however, got himself choked and Stiles jerked back so hard he sometimes fell to the ground. After the jog, Stiles would shower and get dressed and Derek learned to entertain himself by following Stiles’ father around the kitchen while the man groggily tried to operate the coffee maker.

Derek wasn’t used to being around people as a human. As a dog, however, he found he kind of liked to put his head on the sheriff’s knee and get some free ear-scratches while the man drank his first coffee and read through the morning paper.

Like clockwork, Stiles would always thunder downstairs and into the kitchen to cook something healthy for breakfast to keep his dad from stopping at Denny’s or McDonalds. After the first morning, and a half hour of torturing Derek with the scent of turkey-bacon (Derek’s canine palate could pretty much stomach anything, he found out), Stiles had bought a bag of treats suggested by someone at the pet store.

Thus, Stiles would grab one of the pig-ears, toss it to Derek, and cook while Derek chewed on it at his feet. Derek liked it. He liked it too much, because he’d only been with them a few days and he could be leaving at any given moment. He was getting far too comfortable and he wasn’t sure he particularly cared.

Today was really no different, and Derek crunched his way through the pig-ear treat while Stiles stepped over and around him to slide the eggs and toast onto a plate for himself and one for his dad. Derek was content to listen to the two of them talk, having grown used to witnessing a variety of different conversations between the two for the past few days.

“Did you talk to that girl today?” Stiles dad asked. Stiles paused, chewing and then swallowing his mouthful of food. His heart stammered, like an uneven, remorseful ache had gone through him, and he gave his dad a halfhearted shrug.

“Not really. I’m kind of tired of her ignoring me anyway. I think I’m just going to focus on school right now. I mean, who ever stays with their high school sweetheart, anyway?” Stiles gave his dad a crooked grin that looked way too forced. It made Derek kind of want to find the girl and see what made her think this kid wasn’t worth her time. Stiles, albeit a bit overzealous, was far from a bad person.

Derek had honestly been surprised to find out he really only had one real friend, named Scott. Even then, Scott was apparently more focused on his girlfriend than spending time with Stiles. It didn’t seem to bother Stiles all that much--he claimed it was the ’honeymoon phase’ of dating, and that the bro code allowed Scott a free pass on his first girlfriend, anyway. There was also a kid named Danny, who Derek had yet to meet, that helped Stiles out on weekends with practice or something--Derek hadn’t particularly been paying attention-- but Stiles didn’t seem to be very close with him.

The Sheriff watched his son for a moment before he shrugged and speared a forkful of eggs. “Whatever you think is best for you. You know I just want you to be happy, right?”

Stiles’ lip twitched in a shy smile, nodding. “I know, dad.”

Derek suddenly missed his family more than anything in the world. He didn’t like the way his chest ached, how it made him feel so terribly alone, and he dropped the pig-ear to trot out of the kitchen and up to Stiles’ father’s room.

On his second day there, Derek had discovered that the Sheriff’s bed was elevated, and had once contained drawers under it until the wheels had broken on the set. He’d instantly loved it, because it was just enough space for him to crawl on his belly under it to hide from both Stiles and his father.

He did exactly that, wriggling his way under the bed and then resting his head on his paws. He missed his human body, he missed Laura and sometimes even Uncle Peter--the version of him Derek had known that would have never tried to kill Laura for power.

Dwelling on the past was never good, but neither was ignoring it entirely. He was still trying to deal with losing Laura, and sometimes Stiles and the sheriff just weren’t the right remedy. He missed being human, and he missed having someone to talk to, but at times he couldn’t stand to see the way that Stiles still had some family left.

Sighing, Derek allowed himself to doze off, knowing both Stilinski men would be leaving within the hour. When he woke up again, the house was quiet and empty. Derek pulled himself out from under the bed, snooping around the upstairs--and filching some beef jerky from Stiles’ gym bag-- before wandering down the stairs.

The walls had a lot of photos, ones of a family that seemed a lot fuller with the addition of a grinning woman and a substantially younger looking Stiles. Derek didn’t really now what happened to her, but he had a good enough idea to understand.

Derek wandered into the kitchen, nosing open the pantry and finding the stack of old newspapers. If he had lips, he’d be grinning wickedly at that exact moment. Stiles had tried to swat him with one last night after Derek had climbed on the bed. If Stiles thought he was going to get away with smacking Derek with a rolled up paper like some kind of cartoon pet, he was sorely mistaken.

Grabbing the first off the stack in his teeth, Derek got to work shredding them and chewing up every single scrap. It stuck to his gums and mouth and really didn’t taste that great, but that was okay because he just spit it all out over the kitchen floor. Most of the time Derek made messes, Stiles’ father just sighed in aggravation and then made Stiles clean it up. It was pretty great. Derek loved when they left their drinks around the house. He had spent a good few hours engaging in wagging his tail just enough that it would topple over half-empty glasses of water or soda.

Though, after the second time Derek had caught himself watching Stiles’ butt wiggle around in the process of cleaning, he was starting to reconsider how much he should invest into knocking cups over.

Half past noon, the Sheriff came home, sighed at the mess of paper, let Derek out the backyard while he made lunch, and then let him back in to eat. Derek spent most of the time whining at his feet, because Stiles may not give in to the begging, but Stiles’ father would willingly give half his meal if Derek stared long enough.

“I don’t know, buddy,” Stiles’ father sighed. Derek had mentally taken to just calling him Sheriff, because Stiles never said his name and nobody from the department who called in or came by had ever called him anything but that. Derek perked his ears up, chomping on the slice of turkey that was dropped his way. “Your owner had better allow visitation rights. I think Stiles is going to miss you.”

A hand pressed to his muzzle and Derek had a feeling Stiles wouldn’t be the only one missing him. He nosed up into Sheriff’s hand, lapping at his palm and chasing the taste of turkey and wheat bread on his skin. He wanted, more than anything, to be human again, but he also had a feeling he wasn’t going to be able to leave this family behind without looking back.

When Stiles came home with a bag full of dog shampoo and brushes, Derek instantly bolted upstairs and scooted his way under Sheriff’s bed. There was no way in hell he was getting a bath. He was dignified. Dignified wolves did not get baths.

“Derek!” Stiles shouted, dropping down and staring under the bed with a disgruntled glare. “You stink. Get out from under there.”

Derek growled and scooted backwards. Hell no.

“Seriously, dude. Don’t make me get the squirt bottle.” Derek wondered if Stiles realized that Derek wasn’t supposed to understand him, and so threat of a squirt bottle of water should not have been effective. Stiles reached under the bed, trying to grab Derek’s forepaws. Derek dragged them under his body, wriggling out of reach. Stiles dropped onto his stomach with an irritated grunt.

“Come on, dog. I let you sleep on my bed. I let you kick me in the kidney at least once every night. The least you could do is let me wash you.” Stiles started to drag himself under the bed, and Derek released a long and piteous whine. Stiles went still, and then slumped down with a sigh. “Don’t be like that. I’m even going to brush you. I could be doing things like watching porn or playing Robot Unicorn, but instead I’m going to be responsible.”

Stiles’ hand crept out, fingers brushing Derek’s scruff and then sliding up to tentatively rub behind his ear. “You should be glad. I’m not even sure if I’m getting reimbursement for all this stuff.”

Derek put his head down on his paws, huffing through his nose. Stiles grinned, petting his head. “See. That’s love right there. I’m sacrificing for your well-being.”

Love.

Like anyone actually loved Derek. Hah.

Stiles dragged himself out from under the bed, pulling out a pig-ear from where it had been bulging out of the pocket of his swim trunks. He waved it near the opening to the bed, eyebrows bouncing like that was going to help persuade him.

Derek sighed, because he really didn’t want to upset Stiles too much. He liked the attention, to be honest. It had been a long time since anyone was so focused on Derek’s wellbeing. The only downside was that the focus was due to the fact that Stiles thought he was an actual dog. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Dragging himself out from under the bed, Derek made sure to be extra snappy when he grabbed the pig-ear from Stiles, chomping down on it with a crunch and following Stiles towards the bathroom. At least they had a detachable showerhead, because there was no way Derek was going to let Stiles wash him outside where people could see. He had some pride.

Stiles climbed inside of the tub, reaching for Derek’s collar to coax him in. Derek pulled back, the collar tugging just a little bit forward. A spike of hope shot through him and Derek pulled back even more. Only, Stiles didn’t tug it again. He cursed and grabbed Derek by his front paws and yanked so that Derek had to stumble and jump to keep from smashing his ribs into the edge of the tub.

He tumbled in with a yelp, porcelain making a loud series of thuds before he could get himself upright. Derek nearly gave into the temptation to snap at Stiles’ hand, because the kid was laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. Derek, though, knew that Stiles reacted more to piteous looks, and so he whined and dropped down to his stomach, head sitting between Stiles’ ankles.

“Aw, don’t look so down, sourpuss.” Stiles tutted, fiddling with the showerhead and pulling it down so he could turn the water on and adjust the temperature. Derek whined again, but that only got him a spray of lukewarm water to the top of the head.

Stiles didn’t waste time in soaping him up and rinsing him off, following up, surprisingly, with some dog conditioner that he must have snagged at the store. Derek hated the feeling, his fur damp and heavy, sticking to his body and making him feel cold in every spot that wasn’t being currently washed. When Stiles went to get a towel, Derek made sure to wait until the perfect moment to give his body the most massive shake known to man, spraying water all over the bathroom and along Stiles’ chest and face.

“Aw, come on, dude. Really?” Stiles whined, staring at the half-sopping towel. “I was literally going to dry you off just now.”

Derek dropped his mouth open, lolled his tongue out, and then shook his body again.

“Okay--okay that was totally intentional.” Stiles groused, dropping the towel on Derek’s head and scrubbing with a particularly vindictive force. Once Derek was moderately less-wet, Stiles tugged him out of the bathroom and downstairs to sit on the living room floor. Where he got the brush from, Derek had no idea, but suddenly he found himself pushed down and a brush stroking through his fur.

It snagged on every tangle and snarl known to man, and Derek had to stop himself from whining in pain with any harsh tug. Instead, he growled and made aborted backwards movements like he was going to bite Stiles’ wrist. Just to let the kid know how very much Derek did not like to be brushed.

“It’s okay, buddy,” Stiles soothed, scratching behind Derek’s ear, “it gets better.”

And, surprisingly, it did. Once Stiles had fixed his fur, the brush ran across it like a long, soothing scratch of nails. It made his skin tingle, and he maybe pressed into it after a while. His fur suddenly felt lighter, cleaner, like he wasn’t being weighed down anymore. Stiles must have noticed the change, too, because he was stroking Derek’s neck and muttering, “see? I told you.”

Always had to be right, didn’t he?

Stiles paused suddenly, fiddling with Derek’s collar. “Should probably take this off so I can get your neck,” he mused. Derek tensed, his mind a litany of, ‘yes yes yes yes’ as Stiles went to undo the clasp.

And then he stopped.

“Actually, I don’t want to lose it. Your fur’s pretty okay there anyway. I don’t wanna have to fight you to get it back on, anyway.” Stiles pulled away and patted Derek on the head before standing up to put the brush away.

FUCK.

Derek whined, because he could, and he slumped on the ground in defeat.

[x]

It wasn’t until later in the week that Derek was struck with a wave of desperation to be rid of his wolf form. He wanted fingers and toes, and he wanted to see things back in their full color instead, to be able to understand the television without the high-pitched ringing that his sensitive hearing picked up loud and clear.

So when Stiles took him out for one of their morning jogs, Derek stopped halfway down the street (the exact spot that was between houses and out of sight from the road) and started to pull. He walked backwards, shaking his head and loosening the collar, feeling it slowly inch up until it was hitting the base of his ears.

He could feel his ears start to move, the collar so close to popping off when Stiles finally gave up trying to pull him along and stepped forward. “You’re gonna get hit by a car, man. Stop that.”

Stiles whapped him gently on the nose with the end of the leash, making Derek snarl halfheartedly. Stiles, however, stared him down. Derek was starting to understand that stare. It was the one that meant Derek would be denied table scraps for the rest of the day if he refused to cooperate. Considering how delicious human food was to his canine palate, Derek was temporarily cowed.

“Now that you’re done with your temper tantrum,” Stiles muttered, “we still have a few blocks to go.”

They began jogging again, and Derek waited long enough for Stiles to stop paying attention again before he stopped and wrenched back a second time. He was so close, if he could just--

“Okay, screw this.” Stiles surged forward, snagging onto the collar and dragging Derek towards himself. “I’ll just tighten the damn thing.”

That worked.

“Cool.” Stiles muttered after a second, “a collar designed for lazy people.”

There was a wrenching sensation, and the collar was suddenly snug around his throat without ever having a need to be removed. Stiles smiled at his handiwork, and patted Derek on the head before he picked the leash up, unaware as to how he was ruining Derek’s life.

If Derek had a life, that is.

Stiles was completely oblivious to how he was making it harder and harder for Derek to try to become human again when met with resistance at every turn. The worst thing for Derek was knowing that he was being given nothing but love and care when he didn’t fight it.

They headed back to the house, the sun coming up just as Stiles shouldered open the front door while unhooking Derek from his leash. Derek made a beeline for his water bowl while Stiles thundered upstairs to shower. It was some sort of national holiday, which meant that Derek would most likely be left to entertain himself while Stiles went out with Scott to celebrate a day free from the burdens of his senior classes.

Only…Stiles didn’t rush around like Derek had been expecting. In fact, when Derek trotted up the stairs and nosed open Stiles’ door, he was surprised to hear the sound of the Xbox being turned on as Stiles slumped down in his desk chair. When Derek wagged his tail--which was basically a dog’s equivalent of inquiring if someone was in a good mood--Stiles reached a hand out and wiggled his fingers.

Derek moved forward, pressing his head up into Stiles’ palm and letting himself be pet. When he was satisfied with rubbing Derek’s fur, Stiles went back to playing his game.

An hour passed before Stiles paused, threw his controller down on the bed, and grabbed his cell phone. He dialed out, spinning his chair in circles while he waited for someone to pick up.

It went to voicemail, and Stiles sighed loudly before he dropped his cell on the desk and turned to Derek. “Guess like it’s just you and me today, buddy.”

Oh. Scott must have been with that Allison person that Stiles always complained about on days he was feeling particularly grumpy. He didn’t complain out of spite, but more in a manner that signified Stiles resented her for taking up all of Scott’s attention. Derek really didn’t know much about Scott. He’d come over a few times, but he had started dating some new girl just a few days before Derek’s furry problem had occurred.

Derek wished he had a voice to tell Stiles that it was just the enamored phase and that his friend would learn how to divide his attention once he got used to being with this Allison person. Since he didn’t have a voice, however, Derek just started to lick at Stiles’ hand and arm until Stiles had to get up and run away from Derek to save himself from being covered in dog spit.

It worked well enough; it had Stiles laughing and whining at Derek to leave him alone, especially when Derek got his tongue wedged in between the webbing of Stiles’ fingers.

[x]

The more time that passed, the more desperate Derek started to grow. It wasn’t just because he missed being human, or because he was forgetting when to stop acting like a dog, but because he was getting attached to Stiles. Really attached.

As in, he was beginning to question his own sexuality, attached.

It wasn’t like Derek had experienced any relationship other than Kate, or that he’d had time to really understand his preferences. He’d gone through the motions of life for so long that the idea that he might be attracted to men hadn’t come to mind. Then again, it might have just been Stiles.

Stiles, who would stay up at odd hours to do nothing, and then stay up twice as long when he remembered that the something he should be doing was an essay in one class or another. Stiles, who was brilliant and second in his classes only against a girl he was over the moon for, but Derek had a feeling wouldn’t give Stiles the time of day.

Stiles, who would wait for hours, constantly checking his phone, in the hopes that someone would text him and want to hang out. He would bend over backwards for his friend, Scott, on any occasion, but spent twice that amount of time getting blown off for Scott’s girlfriend.

Stiles, who was so lonely that he’d cried softly into Derek’s fur on more than one night, asking no one (but asking Derek all the same) what was wrong with him, and why nobody liked him.

The thing was, Derek liked him. Derek liked him more than he should, more than he could really afford. He wanted to be human just so that he could truly be there for Stiles. He wanted to hold Stiles, to kiss him and tell him all the reasons that his friends were undeserving.

He wanted to remind Stiles how great of a son he was, how he was destined for so many great things. He wanted to prove to Stiles with his hands and mouth exactly why Stiles shouldn’t be spending so much time staring angrily at himself in the mirror, picking at the moles on his face and torso like he could pull them out of his skin.

Derek was in so far over his head, and it was all because Stiles made him feel stupid things.

So, when Stiles came thundering in the house one afternoon during the third week, Derek was up on his feet and hopping around before he could think about what he was doing. Stiles was happy--elated-- about something.

He was talking a mile a minute, gesticulating wildly to his father, and it made Derek so revved up that he started yipping and jumping in circles to try and get Stiles to at least talk at a pace where he could understand. Stiles’ father wasn’t faring much better, staring at his son with a blank, but amused, expression.

When Stiles finally ran out of air and dropped down to pet Derek, Sheriff spoke.

“You mind running that by me again? Maybe a little slower this time?”

Stiles scrubbed affectionately at Derek’s ears, grinning up at his dad. “I’m first line tonight, dad!”

First line!

Derek knew for a fact that, despite all of the hard work and effort Stiles put into lacrosse, he’d never been considered good enough to be put first line. This was A Big Deal in the Stilinski household. Derek licked at Stiles’ hands, because he couldn’t use words to congratulate him, but he could use dog-speak.

When Stiles turned to face him, Derek lapped at his face, tasting the remnants of ketchup and french fries from his lunch, and also the sweat and dirt that came from lacrosse practice after school. Stiles grunted, shoving Derek away to stand up, grinning like a loon all the while.

“First line?” Sheriff echoed, matching Stiles’ smile and clapping him on the shoulder. “That’s great! I’m really proud of you, Stiles.”

“Me too, I mean. I’m happy-- and proud. Because, you know, first line.” Stiles breathed, lunging forward to grab his father into a hug.

“I’ll have someone to cover for me tonight so I can watch your big game, how’s that? We can bring Derek too. It doesn’t hurt to have an extra person cheering for you.”

“Derek is a dog, dad,” Stiles laughed, pulling away and failing miserably at hiding his smile. “But he can come, too.”

Of course he could damn well come. Derek was invested in this game. He was the one being dragged out at the ass-crack of dawn to go running with Stiles. Not that he disliked it. He actually liked it more than anything else. Still, if he were a more lazy wolf, he would have some serious discrepancies about such harsh conditions. Stiles didn’t even bring a bag if Derek had to take a dump, which was just uncouth.

The next few hours were a flurry of activity. Stiles’ father called around to find someone to cover for him, and Stiles was being a general whirlwind of activity because he was on the brink of panicking. The more Stiles freaked out, the more riled Derek got until they both had to go for a pre-game run around the neighborhood.

Stiles left for the game first, having to go through the team warm-ups and everything. Derek had to wait another hour before Sheriff finally hooked his leash on and they both climbed into the cruiser to head for the school. Derek couldn’t help but wag his tail the tiniest bit in anticipation. He was having a hard time really resisting his more pet-like habits, not when he’d spent weeks trying to pass as a dog anyway.

They pulled into the parking lot of the high school, and Sheriff fitted a newer, bigger K9 vest onto him--just to avoid any type of comments from the other parents. The last time they’d tried to bring Derek to a game, even just with Stiles on the bench, there had been complaints about how a dog of Derek’s size was unsafe. Slap on a K9 Unit vest and it was like Derek was suddenly walking around with a sign that said ‘I’m well-trained and 100% child safe!’

When they hit the bleachers, Derek instantly caught sight of Stiles talking with the coach. Even with a dog’s hearing, he couldn’t really pick out much of anything useful when it was being drowned out by the chatter of the crowd. Sheriff guided Derek up to the bleachers, sitting the both of them down next to Scott’s mom.

She scratched Derek behind the ear, and he normally would have enjoyed the attention but he was more distracted by the fact that Stiles was nodding at the coach, scrubbing at his face with the back of his wrist, and heading to sit down on the bleachers.

Scott leaned in to say something to Stiles, his hand clapping Stiles on the back, rubbing it, and then giving his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. That didn’t look good at all. Stiles should have been out on the field--the game was starting. They’d all been so excited to see him on first line. What’d happened? Derek didn’t like this, because he’d never seen a kid work harder than Stiles did. Stiles deserved a chance at front line.

“Looks like coach changed his mind,” Scott’s mom sighed. Derek whined, straining towards Stiles until his leash was pulled out of Sheriff’s loose grasp. He bounded towards the bench before someone could reign him in, bumping his head into Stiles’ elbow the second he reached him. Stiles looked down, his sad expression turning into one of forced cheer as he rubbed Derek’s head.

“Hey buddy. I hope you didn’t get too excited about me playing. I guess Greenburg wasn’t so sick after all.” Stiles cupped Derek’s chin, scratching the little whiskers there and then patting him on the nose. “There’s always next time, huh?”

The smile on Stiles’ face meant nothing when all Derek could smell where his tears. He didn’t like it, it made him angry and frustrated at how helpless he was about all of this. Whining, Derek licked at Stiles’ palm, chasing away the saltiness of tears that had been rubbed away.

Stiles moved to scratch between Derek’s shoulders. “It’s okay, buddy. Go back to dad before you get me in trouble.” Stiles made a hand wave back for the bleachers, the same motion he always used when he wanted Derek to go in that direction. Derek licked Stiles’ elbow and obliged, only because sitting on the bench was better than getting kicked off the team for having pets or something else utterly ridiculous.

He came back just in time to hear Scott’s mom speaking.

“Poor Stiles. I thought he was going to talk my ear off this afternoon when he told me about it.”

Sheriff scowled, crossing his arms as Derek set his head on the man’s knee. “How can they do that to kids?” he snapped, hand instinctively moving to rub down Derek’s neck. “Tell them they’re gonna play front line and then change the lineup at the last minute? That’s bullshit.”

Derek agreed, because now he was stuck watching Stiles watch the game, when they were all expecting to be cheering him on and hoping he got to show off what he’d learned in the past year.

When they hit halftime, Stiles made a beeline for the bleachers, relinquishing the leash from his dad and dragging Derek out into the empty grass that was a ways behind the bleachers. Scott came with, and even another boy that Derek had heard them call Isaac.

They unhooked Derek, and suddenly Derek found himself the victim of a game of monkey in the middle as they tossed around the lacrosse ball. That was okay, because all he did was happily knock Stiles into the ground and steal the ball from him and run off with it.

Having to employ the help of Scott and Isaac to chase after Derek for the lacrosse ball seemed to cheer Stiles up substantially. Derek could tell he was a little less miserable by the time Derek had been dragged to the ground and the ball pried from his mouth. He roughhoused with Stiles for a minute, but things had to be forced to an end when someone on the team called the boys back to the field for the second half of the game.

They ended up winning, but completely without Stiles‘ help.

The ride home didn’t seem too bad. Derek got to go with Stiles, and so he spent the entire trip with his head out the passenger window. He even made sure to wag his tail so that it kept slapping Stiles in the shoulder because little things like that were always what made Stiles grin.

Stiles, despite having not played, showered when they got home. Derek waited by the back door, watching Stiles emerge not long after in his pajamas. He opened the door for Derek to go out into the back yard and Derek made a beeline for the spare lacrosse stick sitting over by one of the few trees.

He chewed on it a little when he tried to carry it back, mostly because it was reflex to munch on whatever was in his mouth, and then spat it out at Stiles’ feet. He was going to cheer this kid up, come hell or high water.

Picking up the lacrosse stick, Stiles frowned and tapped Derek affectionately on the nose with it. “This isn’t a stick, buddy.”

Derek harrumphed, shaking himself and then loping back to the tree to grab a ball too. When he dropped it at Stiles’ feet, Stiles scooped it up instinctively into his stick’s net, rolling it around. Derek yipped, barked, panted and then ran to the tree to signify that Stiles should throw it.

Stiles laughed, rolling his eyes and then using the stick to lazily lob the ball across the yard. Derek ran for it, jumping and catching it with ease. He brought it back to Stiles for a second round, because he couldn’t just make it seem like Derek was letting Stiles win, after all.

“It really creeps me out how human you seem, sometimes,” Stiles muttered to himself, and he flung the ball again. This time it sailed over Derek’s head and past the tree. Derek
barked, loud and excited, and started to jump in circles, hoping Stiles caught on that Derek was cheering for him.

Apparently he did, but it did not create the result Derek was hoping for. The lacrosse stick fell from Stiles’ hand with a clatter, Stiles’ face crumpling and his knees buckling. Derek watched in horror as Stiles slowly sank to the ground and clutched to his knees.

No, no, no. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Derek was trying to cheer Stiles up, not make him more upset. Derek whined, rubbing his nose all over Stiles’ hand where it was hugging his knees, licking what he could reach--ears, temple, neck--until Stiles picked his head up and wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck to drag him into a hug. His face was crushed into Derek’s thick fur, sniffling and hiccupping on a stifled sob.

“I’m sorry you came to the game for no reason, buddy.” Stiles sniffed. “Should have known it wasn’t gonna happen. S’ok, though. I just won’t get my hopes up next time. S’just a stupid sport anyway, right?”

It made Derek so angry that he had to control himself from growling. There was no one here but Derek and Stiles--and Derek was a dog. Did Stiles really think like that? Getting angry at himself for getting his hopes up? He should be furious at the coach, should be yelling at everyone and throwing the blame because none of this was his fault.

Only, there was nothing he could do about any of it, nothing except to lick the tears from Stiles’ cheeks.

[x]

The more time that passed, the more times that Derek forgot not to act like a dog. Today was one of those days when he couldn’t help it; not when Stiles would start running around the house, ranting and raving about the perfect beach day and how he had to find Derek’s Frisbee before Scott and Allison showed up. Derek practically chased after Stiles, wanting to be around him, just to hear him talk and laugh and smile.

He was barking excitedly at Stiles tripping around his room before he realized how ridiculous he was acting and promptly went silent. Horrified at himself, Derek quickly jumped on the bed to watch Stiles with a judgmental stare.

In actuality, Derek should have known a beach trip was a terrible idea. Mostly because he got sand in his fur and Stiles was shirtless. Stiles didn’t have a perfect body, but Derek loved it like that. He loved Stiles’ half-defined pectorals and firm, flat stomach with the thick patch of hair trailing down from his navel and into his swim trunks. He liked the tiny bit of baby fat still clinging to Stiles’ hips, wished he was human so he could hold onto them and press their bodies together.

Instead, Derek was a wolf pretending to be a dog, and Stiles was getting hit on by every single girl that was passing by where Stiles was building a sandcastle with Derek’s help. Well, Derek was just sitting there and watching, but he offered harrumphs of approval and pawed at inadequate architecture.

“Hey, could I help?” Stiles and Derek both looked up at the blonde girl hovering the castle, her lips pulled into a nervous smile. Derek felt his hackles raise, a growl punching straight from his chest when he caught the sound of Stiles’ heart skipping in--what? Excitement? Attraction? Either way, Derek didn’t like it. He growled again, ears flattening against his head when she stepped closer as Stiles started to gesture to the empty seat on his other side.

She hesitated, and Stiles reached out to grab Derek’s muzzle and shake it affectionately. “Don’t listen to him, he’s just a jealous baby.” Stiles laughed, and the girl sat down. Derek barked at her, even though it was kind of muffled since Stiles was holding his mouth shut, and she started to look uneasy. Good. Anyone with no backbone didn’t deserve Stiles, anyway.

Derek kept growling, and when Stiles tried to take his hand off, he snapped in her direction. She jumped, wrenching her hands away from the sandcastle.

“Dude, stop it. I will seriously tie you to the jeep.” Stiles hissed, flicking Derek on the nose and covering it in grainy sand. Derek didn’t care, as long as this girl knew she wasn’t welcome, he was fine with being banished to the jeep. He stood, the hair on his back rising and another bark escaping him. He could smell her fear and anxiety, and he was entirely satisfied when she stood up again and offered Stiles a weak smile.

“Maybe later? I have to go to work soon, anyway.”

Stiles’ face fell, but he put on a forced look of enthusiasm. “Yeah, sure. I’m from Beacon Hills so I’m a little ways out. Did you want my number?”

A look to Derek, and then the girl gave Stiles a weak wave of her hand. “That’s fine, I’m sure we’ll run into one another sometime soon.”

She turned, hurrying down the beach while Derek barked after her. Of course, he didn’t get to keep it up because Stiles was tackling him into the sand and wrenching a strangled noise out of Derek.

“You are such a dick!” Stiles cried, shoving Derek’s nose into the sand and rubbing it back and forth. “You are the worst ever!” He didn’t sound more than frustrated, though, and Derek yelped so that Stiles let him go. He yipped at Stiles, running around him and then jumping over him. Stiles released an aggravated sigh, pushing himself up to his feet and going to get the Frisbee from their beach towel.

Derek wasn’t really sure why Stiles had even bought a Frisbee. Derek hated playing fetch. It was already demeaning enough. He only did it when Stiles was depressed or on the days where Derek thought he was going to go out of his mind with excess energy and needed an outlet.

Stiles threw it and Derek allowed the thing to sail over his head before he trotted over to the landing spot, picked it up, and then carried to their beach towel. He flopped down, much to Stiles’ vocalized dismay, and started to chew. Allison was on the towel next to him, reading a book and listening to her headphones while Scott and Isaac were messing around in the ocean.

She actually wasn’t that bad. Derek didn’t mind her too much, even though she smelled strangely familiar, in a way he couldn’t place. She reached out, absently patting him on the head before pulling away to turn a page in her book.

“Aw come on, I totally spent like, three dollars on that thing.” Stiles whined, sitting down next to Derek and trying to take the Frisbee. Derek leaned his head out of the way, and kept chewing. This was what Stiles got for just letting a pretty face walk into his life. That girl could have been a home wrecker for all he knew. Stiles should have better taste.

Perhaps a more masculine taste, like someone like Derek. Only Derek didn’t like that idea, because that meant someone could easily hurt Stiles. Derek wouldn’t hurt him, though.

Surely they just needed to find a way to get the collar off, and Derek could show Stiles exactly how perfect they were for one another.

Stiles reached for the Frisbee again and Derek rolled onto his back, kicking sand up onto Stiles. He even took special care not to get Allison covered in sand. Stiles shoved at him, wiping sand from his leg and arm.

“Rude.“

If Derek could laugh, he would, but instead he bit through the plastic and then let the Frisbee fall onto the sand next to his face.

Stiles frowned, staring at the decimated remains of the toy. “Not cool, dude.”

Derek wagged his tail, trying to ignore the way his heart ached when Stiles just gave him a fond smile and proceeded to scratch Derek’s belly.

Oh, belly rubs. The bane of Derek’s existence. Solely because he was going to miss them terribly once he was human again. They felt amazing.

It was possible that the only reason they felt so amazing was because it was Stiles who did it, and Derek was kind of maybe a little bit in love with him. That was okay, though, because Derek had a sinking feeling that, when he became human again, Stiles would want nothing to do with him. He’d take what he could get as Derek the dog--for as long as he could get it.

[x]

“Okay, the point of fetch is that you fetch the toy, you don’t run away with it.” Stiles grunted, lunging for Derek again. This was probably Derek’s favorite thing to do, because he loved how hard Stiles would try to take whatever toy it was that Derek had, only for Derek to bound away before he could grab it.

No matter how many times they had played this game in the past few months, Derek didn’t tire of wearing Stiles out completely. It was a great game to play before bed, mostly because Derek waited until Stiles was visibly exhausted before he’d stop wanting to play. It was the only way Derek had been able to make Stiles go to bed at night instead of staying up late on the computer. It bothered Derek to always see Stiles looking haggard when he would get up after only two or three hours of sleep and start his daily routine again.

Sure, Derek knew Stiles often jacked off to help with his excess energy, but even on days where Derek was locked out of Stiles’ room for hours on end, Stiles still had enough stamina to stay up late. The worst part about that was that Derek knew he could do nothing about it, he was a damn dog, and Stiles didn’t even know the real Derek.

It was complete and utter torture, sometimes. Derek may have whined outside of Stiles’ door enough times that he got locked out in the back yard if Stiles was in a particular mood about his personal time.

Stiles lunged for the rope toy again and Derek jumped out of the way, running around Stiles for good measure when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He yelped when Stiles tackled him to the ground, writhing and wriggling to try and get out from under him. They rolled around for a good minute, Stiles trying to get the toy and Derek trying to keep it from him. Derek used the weight of his body to roll them over, pawing at Stiles’ chest. He panted, yipping at Stiles when his head was ruffled and he finally relinquished the toy.

“You’re heavy,” Stiles grunted, petting down Derek’s back. Derek ignored him, rubbing his nose into Stiles’ neck and jaw, licking at the sweat and dirt there. He loved Stiles’ smell, loved the taste of his skin (really, everyone tasted good to Derek’s wolf tongue, though) and the feeling of Stiles’ hands scratching through his fur.

“This is getting kind of tight,” Stiles mumbled, rubbing his fingers under Derek’s collar. Derek, foolishly, paid his words no mind, snuffling Stiles’ jaw when the weight around his neck was suddenly gone. The shift back wasn’t painful, it was like everything was setting itself back into place. Derek’s face was still buried in Stiles’ neck when he realized that he wasn’t a wolf anymore.

He was completely human.

Draped across Stiles’ body.

Still kissing his throat.

“Uhm.” Stiles said intelligently. “What the fuck just happened?”

He was also naked.

“Oh my God,” Stiles cried, “oh my God! Dude, what? Why--what? How? What’s going on!?” Stiles wailed, unable to do much as he was trapped under Derek’s body still.

Derek shoved himself off of Stiles, eyes wide and one hand automatically going down to cover his dick. Stiles, well fuck. Stiles did a completely un-subtle downward drag of his eyes before flicking them up to Derek’s face and then gaping in utter shock.

“Are you Zeus?” Stiles blurted, “I mean, he’s supposed to be a swan but maybe times are changing, I don’t know. Wha-- I just. I’m really confused and I feel like I should be screaming right now but I’m a little--just, wow. You’re really hot.” Stiles said weakly, looking like he wanted to get up but maybe was too shocked to actually move his body.

Flustered, and completely unable to process Stiles’ reaction, Derek turned and ran. He kept one hand over his dick, bolting for the fence at a wobbling gait. It was a little hard to remember how to run as a human when he’d been running for months as a wolf. He didn’t even make it all the way because Stiles had, apparently, become more agile with all the times they’d played together, and from the lacrosse training.

Stiles hit him in a tackle right at the backs of his knees, bringing Derek down like a sack of bricks. Derek snarled, his fight or flight senses kicking in and his claws coming out to dig into the earth, teeth gnashing.

Stiles, perched on Derek’s ass like he was meant to be there, let out a surprised shout. “Are those claws?!”

“Get off!” Derek howled, still trying to remember how to regulate his strength so that if he threw Stiles off, he wouldn’t hurt him. He also kind of wanted to avoid his dick flopping around everywhere if they did get into a tussle. Stiles, being the idiot that he was, reached out and tugged on the tip of Derek’s ear.

“Oh my God! What the hell? Is this real? Am I tripping? Are you a werewolf! Dude, you are so a werewolf! Or are you like one of those animal people? I thought you only existed in anime?”

“Stiles, shut up!” Derek practically wailed in mortification. He had completely lost his only chance to save his dignity because Stiles, the little bastard that he was, had started scratching behind Derek’s ears and down his neck like he had when Derek was a wolf.

His weakness, apparently, existed in both forms.

It was obvious Stiles had picked up on this, because he was dragging his nails down Derek’s spine and then back up to scratch at the base of his skull. “Well, either there was PCP in that Monster I drank, or this is actually happening.” Stiles half-sobbed, “I think I‘m in shock. Also, you have a really nice ass. I don’t know what I’m saying right now.”

Derek blamed the months he’d spent as a dog, shamelessly seeking attention and knowing that there would be no repercussions. Now just having Stiles’ hand running down his back and neck made Derek want to just lay there and take it.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” he muttered, struggling for air as his fangs and claws retracted under Stiles’ touch. Stiles paused, shifting from where he was still sitting on Derek’s ass.

“Well, I just want to point out how perceptive I am.” Stiles let his hands rest on Derek’s shoulders, apparently satisfied at how he had ‘tamed the beast’, “because I kept thinking you were really creepy as a dog.”

“Thanks,” Derek said dryly.

Stiles laughed, pushing himself off and getting to his feet. He brushed dirt from his jeans, holding a hand out to help Derek to his feet. “I meant creepy like, you seemed more human than dog. I just--wow. I really think I should be freaking out more but maybe I‘ve read too many World of Warcraft fanfics or something, because this is just awesome.”

“I’m not human.” Derek took Stiles’ hand, allowing himself to be pulled to his feet. Stiles’ eyes did a half-sweep of Derek’s body and--fuck--he already could smell Stiles’ sudden interest.

“Yeah,” Stiles agreed absently, focusing on Derek’s face and grinning. “Abs like those are completely inhuman.”

“I’m going to go home now.” Derek replied. He couldn’t stand to be around Stiles much longer before he would give in to the need to touch. He wanted so much from Stiles and he knew that he couldn’t have any of it. So, instead, he started to step back, watching as Stiles’ face fell.

It made his chest ache, to know that he was responsible for that expression, but it would hurt more to be around what he knew he couldn’t have--not the way he wanted.

“What about the time I locked you in the house when Mr. Hawkins’ dog was in heat?!” Stiles cried at Derek’s back. Derek hesitated, mortification welling up tenfold when Stiles added, “I had your back in a moment of weakness!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Derek snapped, feeling his shoulders, neck and ears start to burn in shame. He kept walking towards the gate.

“I remember! You tried to drag me down the block when he was walking her! I have scars from when I hit the sidewalk!”

Stiles didn’t sound angry, he sounded desperate and upset. Like--like Derek was the only person he had besides his father, and Derek was walking away from him.

It didn’t matter. Stiles…Stiles shouldn’t have gotten attached in the first place. Deaton had told him that Derek was someone else’s pet, anyway, so why would he think Derek was obligated to stay now that he was human?

Derek did want to stay, though. He wanted so badly to turn and pull Stiles into his arms and never let go. He wanted to cover Stiles’ face in kisses, to make him laugh and squirm and show Stiles every reason why he should love himself.

He couldn’t do that, though. There were so many things Stiles didn’t know. They were practical strangers, Derek just being an observer in Stiles’ life for the past handful of months. He had no right to ask any of that of Stiles--not when Stiles had used him for companionship. Even though Stiles knew he was a werewolf, Derek could always deny it if he brought it up around other people and save Stiles from a life of hardship that came with Derek’s kind.

Derek ignored the indignant shouts directed at his back and slipped out the gate.
That’s when he realized something that made his stomach sink.

Sticking his head over the fence, Derek stared at where Stiles was squatting on the ground, fiddling with the discarded chew toy. He looked upset.

“Could I borrow some pants?”

[x]

Things went a little odd from there. If there had been no awkward moments between them before, there were more than plenty to make up for it now. Derek had gotten so used to being Stiles’ dog in the past handful of months that, even just running into him at the grocery store had Derek making a beeline for Stiles before he could stop himself.

This time was probably, by far, the worst. Derek was already tired and cranky from sleeping on the floor of his burnt out home when he stomped into the gas station to grab some late-night comfort food. His fingers were curling around a Twix package when he heard it.

“Aw, come on, dad. Scott’s busy tomorrow, I don’t have anything better to do!“

Derek’s head snapped up and he felt his heart seize in his chest. He knew that voice anywhere. He could recognize that voice over a sea of people. Stiles was a few aisles over, bickering quietly with his father.

Derek didn’t even know what he was doing, but his feet started to move without his permission. He felt an unbearable longing and excitement--so much like when he’d been a dog--and Derek was a slave to his own impulses when he completely bypassed the Sheriff to bump his forehead into Stiles’ shoulder.

“Uh,” Stiles jerked, staring at Derek with wide eyes.

What the hell had he just done?

Derek backed away, horrified as Sheriff stared at Derek like he’d grown a second head and then looked to his son. “Friend of yours, Stiles?”

“Uh,” Stiles gaped some more, swallowing convulsively and then nodded faintly. “Yeah, I mean. yeah.”

Sheriff turned to look at Derek, who had been trying desperately to disappear behind a display of Code Red. “Most people say ‘hello’ when they greet their friends. You are… friends... right?”

“I--”

“Dude, dad. Rude.” Stiles snapped, giving his father a halfhearted shove in the arm. “He’s like a big sad puppy dog. He doesn’t know how to words.”

“How to what?”

“I know how to talk.” Derek muttered over top of Sheriff’s question. “I just -- haven’t slept in three days.” Sleep deprivation, Derek had realized over the many years since his parents had died, was the best excuse to ever provide when acting irrationally. In all honesty, he hadn’t slept much anyway.

His house was one giant nightmare, but Derek couldn’t bring himself to meet with the insurance brokers in charge of his family’s accounts. He didn’t want to think about the heaps of money waiting for him. It felt wrong to take from his family.

Stiles and Sheriff both stared at Derek, and wow, hey, this gas station had an amazing and interesting beef jerky selection. Derek reached out for the cheddar and turkey jerky, absently wondering if that combination of tastes was even very appetizing.

Derek turned, making a beeline for the check-out counter and tossing down the Twix and jerky. He grabbed his wallet, flipping through for a $5 and sliding it across the counter.

“You know,” Stiles appeared next to Derek, sans-father (a quick look showed the man innocently perusing the assorted gum aisle) and leaned on the counter. “If you miss me, you could just say so. You don’t have to act like the whole, uh, hairy situation, never happened.”

Derek took his change from the clerk, stuffing his wallet into the pocket of his jeans and staring Stiles down. He couldn’t get this kid dragged any more into his life than he already had. Derek had a feeling that, no matter what he did, he wasn’t going to be able to run away from Stiles, or from the affection that came with it.

“Maybe I don’t miss you and I never want to see you again,” he offered, brushing past Stiles and heading for the door. Stiles grabbed his elbow, giving it a tug and bringing his hand up to the back of Derek’s neck. It was instantaneous, bringing back so many memories of that same hand affectionately pressing into his fur when he would be napping or waiting for Stiles to finish studying.

Derek stopped moving before he could consider what he was doing, pressing back into that touch and then jerking away so forcefully that Stiles’ hand was wrenched off of his elbow.

“Okay, yeah, that? That was you trying to act like you don’t miss me at all,” Stiles pointed out, stepping up into Derek’s space and frowning, “which is total bullshit, by the way. I mean, seriously?” Stiles leaned in close, hissing, “I know you’ve heard me jack off before. I would like to think that means we’re at least friends.”

It was bad enough when he’d been in his wolf form, but just the memory of those scents and sounds coming from the other door of Stiles’ bedroom during his ‘personal time’ came back to Derek tenfold now that he was human again. Stiles’ scent was overpowering as a wolf; it was still overpowering now, but in a way that was intoxicating. Derek wanted to drag Stiles in, to press their bodies together and cover Stiles in his scent until Derek couldn’t tell where he ended and Stiles began.

Instead of doing that, Derek grabbed Stiles’ bicep, dragging him right out of the gas station and around the building until they were out of sight, with Stiles sputtering and flailing the entire way. Derek shoved him against the wall next to the outside bathrooms, one hand curling into Stiles’ collar and his finger pointing into Stiles’ face.

“If you say one word--”

“Like what? Hey dad, Derek the dog is apparently Derek the dude? Yeah, not happening,” Stiles scoffed, even as his pupils dilated and his heart rate skyrocketed. Derek couldn’t help but flare his nostrils, dragging in the scent of frightened arousal that Stiles was practically leaking. He dragged his eyes down to Stiles’ mouth and then up to his eyes, seeing the way he was being watched with a surprising intensity.

Exhaling slowly, Derek pulled back with a nod. At least Stiles wasn’t an idiot. His collar was rumpled from Derek’s fingers, and Derek gave the hem of Stiles’ shirt a quick tug to straighten it out. Stiles shakily relaxed, and then batted Derek’s hands away. “Yeah, buddy. That’s what I thought.”

“I’m serious.” Derek growled and Stiles shifted, crossing his arms like he could defend himself if Derek suddenly went crazy and decided to stab him through the chest with his claws or something.

“I got that, dude. You know, you seem to forget the part where you were my dog for five months,” Stiles said lowly, “Unlike you, though, I don’t. I kind of miss my dog and I’m pretty sure you know you were like my best friend.”

It hit Derek like a punch to the gut, and he could feel his eyes widen and his brows shoot up. A mortified flush crept rapidly up Stiles’ neck, reddening his ears and the high points of his cheeks. Stiles lowered his gaze, swallowing so heavily Derek could see his adam’s apple bob with the movement. “So yeah. Maybe I just wanted Derek the person to be my friend in place of the dog he was until a week and a half ago. My bad, dude. I forgot you being my pet was more of indentured servitude than by actual choice.”

“No.” Derek barked out, before he can stop himself. Stiles snapped his head up, and wow, Derek has no idea how to talk to people anymore. It was bad enough before Laura had died, but he’d gotten so used to having to communicate with his body that he doesn’t remember how to do it now that he’s human again.

It was apparent that Stiles was waiting for Derek to continue, but what was he supposed to say? Hey, I was your dog for a few months and I kind of fell in love with you along the way? Can we date now that it’s not considered bestiality?

Derek was pretty sure that wasn’t going to fly with Stiles--he was actually kind of positive. Stiles had a standing crush on Lydia and a sometimes-crush on Danny. There was no room for Derek in that equation, the new person in his life. Stiles had gone on rant after rant about Scott going out with Allison when they’d only known one another for a few days, and Derek didn’t think his heart could take months more of pining just to try and get Stiles to consider him.

This was pathetic. He was 23 years old and tripping over himself after this kid who didn’t even turn 18 for another couple of months. Laura was rolling in her grave.

“Dude.” Stiles said, gesturing vaguely. “Was that it? Just ‘no’? I’m pretty sure when someone says ‘no’ that they’re supposed to follow up as to why the ‘no’ is there in the first place.”

Derek leaned in, butting his head up against Stiles’ jaw like he always used to do when Stiles was particularly upset. It shut him up instantly, and Derek took that moment to nuzzle and breathe in Stiles’ skin before he pulled away.

“Goodbye, Stiles.”

Derek hightailed it to his car.

“I’m not going to stand for this!” Stiles shrieked after him, “This is not a badly scripted romance movie! People actually talk about things in real life! You can’t just do a cuddle and run, Derek!”

[x]

Derek had actually thought, for a while, that he’d succeeded in Stiles’ accused ‘cuddle and run’. That is, until two days later when he heard the unmistakable sound of Stiles’ jeep rolling up to his house. Derek was half tempted to just hide in his basement, but then he realized Stiles shouldn’t even know where he lived.

He headed outside, watching Stiles clamber out of the jeep with his keys jingling in his hand.

“How did you--” Derek started, but Stiles cut him off by wrenching out a plastic bag full of toys. Even without being shifted, Derek could pick up the mingled scent that marked them as his toys--even though he really never played with most of them so much as chewed on them when he got bored.

“I told my dad I wanted to give you these back,” Stiles tossed the bag at Derek’s feet, “he pulled your address up from public record. He misses you, y‘know. The dog you, at least. He‘s been talking about getting a dog when I start college.”

Derek probably stared for longer than necessary because, after a while, Stiles glanced around and shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie, gnawing on his bottom lip. “So I’m guessing you poop in the woods as a dog or whatever, since you don’t seem to have plumbing.”

“A wolf,” Derek corrected, because he could. Stiles’ eyebrows shot up, his lip coming unlatched from his teeth as he gave Derek a ridiculous little smile that had Derek’s heart doing all sorts of fluttering motions.

“I figured. You know, in case you’re wondering, I had a mental breakdown last week when I realized that my dog--wolf, sorry dude--was actually a person. A naked person.” Without Derek’s permission, Stiles started to head for the porch steps, hopping them one at a time until he was face to face with Derek.

“It took me like, six hours to come out of shock,” Stiles said seriously, pulling a hand out of his pocket to press it against his chest, over his heart. “Apparently there’s some kind of defense mechanism that’s triggered by watching your dog undergo a beauty and the beast style transformation.”

Derek kind of felt like he wanted to cry, or burst into hysterical laughter, or maybe just wrench Stiles’ clothes off because that tiny bit of snark in his words drove Derek wild. It always had, but being human again and less than ten inches away from Stiles was apparently wearing on his self-control.

Pulling his hand out from his other pocket, Stiles shoved a ziplock bag of bacon at Derek. “So, I was going to bring brownies but I didn’t know if you were--”

“Don’t even say it,” Derek cut in, a mortified burn coming to his ears and neck. He could not handle dog jokes right now. He was barely over any of what had happened in Stiles’ back yard.

Stiles’ grin widened before he laughed and waved the bag around. “Hey! I had to read articles about grapes and chocolate and stuff that kills dogs! Who knows what kind of digestive system you have!” Stiles tried to hand Derek the bag, but Derek swatted it out of his hand. It slapped on the ground with a pathetic crinkling of plastic and they both stared at for a second before Stiles gave him an exaggerated frown.

“You used to like bribery,” he said with a forlorn stare at the baggie of bacon strips.

“Are you serious?” Derek blurted, bringing his arms up to cross them over his chest, like he could somehow defend himself from Stiles’ imploring stare.

“Well, what would you prefer? We can do belly rubs instead.” Stiles offered.

Derek, until his dying breath, would deny the fact that he perked up at the thought.

He did stamp down on the desire to step towards Stiles’ outstretched hand, and instead turned on his heel to head back inside. He knew things weren’t the same between them, no matter how much he wanted to believe otherwise.

He hesitated when long fingers curled around his elbow, giving a tug that had Derek swiveling his head to blink at Stiles. Stiles looked half desperate, his eyes wild as he said, “okay, dude, come on. I’m pretty sure you want in my pants. I’m like, 85% sure. Either that or I really need to work on reading signals, because all I’m getting from you is that you’re angsting because you were my dog and now you’re not but you’re too afraid of your feelings to do anything about it.”

Stiles‘ fingers were hot, leaving an invisible brand into his skin that Derek knew he‘d feel for hours afterwards. This was too much, too soon. Derek never thought Stiles would come after him, and now that he had, Derek was completely lost as to what to do. “If you’re that perceptive, then why did you waste so much time on Lydia?”

Stiles stared, looking just the tiniest bit shocked and affronted. His eyes twitched and narrowed, gaping mouth slowly falling shut to purse into a thin line.

“I think focusing on a pointless crush is better than constantly reminding yourself how alone you are.”

“So what? You came here to see if I would be your pet again?” It hurt to even ask, because Derek didn’t want to just be Stiles’ pet. That’s exactly why he’d been avoiding all of this (other than dragging Stiles into a life of danger and supernatural encounters, that is). He trusted Stiles not to say anything --- well he knew Stiles wasn’t an idiot, was more like it-- but Derek didn’t want to be around Stiles if all he got out of it was to be treated like a house pet.

Stiles looked frustrated, his eyes darting to and fro like he could somehow read Derek’s mind if he stared hard enough. Derek clenched his teeth, jaw twitching as Stiles released an aggravated sigh. “Wow, okay, so you being a dumbass--apparently--was not just from being trapped as a dog,” he muttered under his breath. Derek jerked his arm back, because the last thing he wanted to hear from Stiles was some sort of verbal lashing.

He didn’t even get the chance to really be angry because Stiles was shoving up into his space, their chests almost bumping and making Derek feel entirely too crowded. He sucked in a sharp breath, wanting to snarl and bark and then remembering with startling clarity that he was human, and humans didn’t do that.

“I don’t care,” Stiles blurted, gently shoving at Derek’s chest. “I don't care if you're a dog, or a man, or a werewolf. I mean, okay, werewolf is completely unexpected but so was the whole part where I went from playing fetch with my dog to having a naked man lying on top of me,” Stiles ranted, throwing an arm out and gesturing to the entirety of Derek‘s body, “--and trust me, buddy, I am still having trouble processing that-- but no matter what you are, I just want you in my life, okay?”

Derek’s gut burned, and he found it hard to breathe as Stiles gave him a desperate, pleading look, begging Derek to understand. “I get that I don’t know much about you. I don’t know anything, really, other than what I could wean off of my dad with a few shots of whiskey. That’s not even the point!” Stiles cried, throwing his hands in the air, “the point is that no matter how much I don’t know about you, what I do know is that you’re good, and I know you actually give a fuck about me.“

“You don’t know that,” Derek blurted, because this was too close to heart; it was too much, too raw. It made him want to run and hide under the Sheriff’s bed just to avoid the way Stiles was looking at him, the way Stiles’ fingers would brush his chest or arms during a flail, how Stiles’ words stabbed through him like a knife.

“Dude don’t even give me that shit, okay. Just don’t.” Stiles said flatly, looking about ready to karate chop Derek in the throat like he did with Scott when Scott would say something particularly ignorant or annoying.

“Why are you even pushing me away? Do you think that just because you’re human now that you can act like none of that ever happened? You let me cry on you; you were there every time Scott blew me off, and you were there when I got benched during the lacrosse match.” Stiles hesitated, nipping at his bottom lip in an aborted nervous fidget and then sniffing once, like his frustrations were pushing him to near tears. Derek could smell it building in his eyes, and he didn’t understand.

How could Derek have affected him this much? It was almost impossible to wrap his head around the idea that all of his pining, all of the moments where his heart ached to see Stiles alone, to know he couldn’t do anything… and now he had some inkling of a chance? Good things didn’t happen to Derek. They never did, and they shouldn’t now.

“Come on, man, my dad’s a detective and you left me alone for a week. You didn’t think I could put some numbers together and actually realize it?” Stiles said quietly, licking his lips and shoving his hands into the pockets of his hoodie, blinking rapidly to dispel the glaze of tears in his eyes and act like he hadn’t just gone on an extremely close-to-heart rant. “You could have run away, or ignored me, or done a hundred other things that a dog with a human brain would do--but you didn’t.”

No, no he didn’t. He had been there with Stiles even after the hunters had left town--had stayed through all of it. Derek didn’t really think Stiles would do much past processing the fact that Derek had been a dog and now he was a man. He didn’t think Stiles would care enough to actually sit and think over every moment that Derek had been his pet.

“I didn’t… think you’d care this much.“ Derek admitted hoarsely, his throat clicking when he swallowed. It was hard to articulate all of the words going on in his head. They swam around like a tornado, hard to pluck the right ones to use without saying the wrong thing. It was likely that physical communication was the way to go, and so Derek gave a small shrug and a bob of his eyebrows as well.

Stiles stared for a second, and then reached into the pocket of his jeans, pulling out a slip of paper. It looked like a grocery list written on the back of some sort of map printout. Derek didn’t really get to glance at it for very long before Stiles was rolling it up, taken by surprise when Stiles’ hand shot out and he swatted Derek on the head with it.

Derek snarled, snatching Stiles’ wrist and tugging it away from his hand. He couldn’t even bring himself to let go as he snapped out, “are you here for a reason or did you just want to yell at me?”

“You can’t hide under the bed anymore, Derek!” Stiles exclaimed, “you can’t just close up and avoid the issue! I’m trying to fucking talk to you! You just--”

“What do you want me to say?” Derek interrupted, dropping Stiles’ wrist to back up against the door. He had to get away--Stiles made him feel crowded, put Derek on edge to a point where he had to force himself not to get too distressed or he might give in to the desire to shift. Stiles followed, making Derek instinctively put a hand out and press his palm right into Stiles’ sternum to keep him at a distance.

Shaking his head, Derek tried not to give into the desire to curl his fingers into Stiles’ shirt and just drag him in for a kiss. He couldn’t handle this proximity, couldn’t handle the emotion that was being forced into words. “I can’t do this,” he hissed, “my family is dead, my sister’s dead. There are hunters who want to kill me.”

Frustration growing, Derek pushed at Stiles until he was forced to step back in surprise. “You honestly believe I’m just going to open up and cry on your shoulder or something? This is life, Stiles! Sometimes people can’t talk!”

“I’m not asking you to talk!” Stiles cried, “I’m asking you to listen to me!”

Derek almost jumped out of his skin when Stiles’ hands came up to grab at his wrist, holding it against Stiles’ chest, but not taking it off. Stiles’ fingers were warm and a little clammy, and Derek could feel the pulse of his heart roaring through his fingers, thumping erratically against Derek’s skin. It made this situation all the more surreal, even as Derek shook his head.

“I am listening.”

“Then why are you still running away?!” Stiles’ voice cracked at the very end, his eyes and nose prickling red in a way that made Derek want to take back everything he’d ever said. He couldn’t, though, because Stiles was in over his head and he was going to regret this the second he really got to know Derek.

Derek couldn’t take losing anyone else, through death or other means.

“I’m not running.”

Stiles’ face contorted into a look of anger, shoving Derek’s hand from his chest and snapping, “I talked to Deaton, you know.”

Derek froze, muscles seizing and his lungs hiccupping on air. Stiles--fuck. Stiles looked like he’s on the edge of a breakdown; his chin and lower lip shaking with each breath, brows pinched with an expression of overwhelming confusion and hurt

“What?” Derek rasped.

“Deaton knew,” Stiles began shakily, looking like he wanted to say a lot of things but didn’t know where to begin. Swallowing, he tried again. “He knew it was you the entire time. But…but you know why he didn’t tell me? Why he didn’t take that collar off?”

“Why?” Derek asks wearily, feeling as though the floor was about to drop out from under him at any second, like Stiles was going to drop some sort of bomb of emotional blackmail on him.

“Because I’m lonely,” Stiles blurted, his confession taking Derek entirely by surprise. It was one thing to see the loneliness, but another thing entirely for it to be so suffocating that Stiles would have actually confessed to feeling it. Derek didn‘t know what to think or feel, trapped there as Stiles lost the nerve to maintain eye contact.

“…and Deaton had a feeling that you were lonely too, and he thought maybe--maybe we could be good for each other. And when he told me that, I thought he was right. I thought I could try to find you and--fuck. I don’t know, okay?” Stiles dragged his hands up, rubbing furiously at his short hair and then rubbing his palms down his face. “I don’t even know anymore. I just really fucking miss you.”

Stiles’ hands fell, and he looked back up at Derek, eyes wide and beseeching and saying so much that Derek didn’t know if he could handle what he was being shown. Stiles swallowed, dragging in a shuddering breath , “I miss getting on your nerves, I miss talking to you--even when you wouldn’t talk back--and going for a run in the morning with you. I miss when you would hog the bed, and. And I wish I knew what it would be like to fight you for the covers when you have hands instead of paws and you’re not covered in fur, all right?”

He didn’t know what made him move, not really. One minute they were standing there, talking, and the next minute Derek was stepping forward, crowing Stiles back up against one of the support beams of the porch. Stiles didn’t seem to have much time to react before Derek was hooking a hand around the back of his neck and kissing him.

Instead of shoving Derek away or even just standing there, Stiles reacted like he’d been struck by lightning. His hands flew up, one grasping to Derek’s shoulder and the other burying itself into the hair at the base of Derek’s skull, holding tight as his mouth opened, pliant and willing.

Derek couldn’t control himself; months of watching and wanting, and then the tension that came with his being human again. He shoved a knee between Stiles’ legs, settling his hand on the curve of that thin hip and hiking Stiles up just enough to grind his thigh up between the vee of Stiles’ legs. The groan that was punched out of Stiles’ chest was muffled between their mouths, breaths heavy as Derek kissed and bit his way into Stiles’ mouth.

The hand on Derek’s shoulder started to push, and it took Derek a second to realize Stiles was trying to push him back. He leaned away, dragging Stiles’ bottom lip between his teeth before letting it go with a wet pop.

Stiles, eyes wide and mouth swollen, panted out, “I didn’t say you could kiss me.”

It was like dropping lead right into his stomach, and Derek struggled to respond. He’d been so sure Stiles was interested him at least the tiniest bit. He was an idiot. “I thought--”

“I wanted to kiss you first,” Stiles interrupted, ears burning pink and a sly grin quirking at the corner of his mouth.

Had Derek been a wolf, this was when he would have snorted at Stiles and ignored him to go chew up a pair of his shoes or hide under the bed. He wasn’t, though, and so he could only roll his eyes and slide the hand that had been around Stiles’ neck down to cup his jaw. “I have this feeling you’re under the impression that the initiator of the kiss is the man in the relationship, but this is not the 1800s and you’re not a blushing virgin.”

“That’s sexist.” Stiles pointed out, turning and pressing his cheek further into Derek’s palm. It made his blood boil, made his body burn with the desire to drag Stiles into his arms and take him apart piece by piece with his hands and mouth alone.

Not yet, though. It was too soon.

In the meantime, he could do with a little light bantering. “Just because all women don’t think like that, doesn’t mean there aren’t women who expect the male to make all of the advances.”

“… are we going to have a debate on misogyny and sexism against women before gay making out?” Stiles asked flatly.

“Looks like it.” Derek couldn’t even stop the half-smile that was pulling at his lips.

“I would rather just gay make out.” Stiles informed him.

“Okay.“

“Also, we have a lot of things to talk about. Like the dog thing. That’s important. Also I need to verify that I still get community service hours and compensation for the money I spent on your food and also the newspapers wasted,” stepping forward, Stiles started to lead Derek back against the door of his house, wood creaking with their movements. Derek’s back bumped up against it, and he nodded.

“Okay.“

“No sex until the third date.” Stiles added, leaning in so close that his lips brushed Derek’s with each word.

“Okay.“

Stiles pressed a hand to Derek‘s hip, fingers slipping under the hem, toying with the strip of skin they found there. “You have to buy the condoms.”

“I’m okay with intercrural.” Derek mused, rocking his hips into Stiles’ touch.

“I feel like this relationship is going to be a lot like the first time I tried to kick you off the bed.”

“Sounds about right.”

Stiles laughed, and Derek took great pleasure in kissing the smile right off of his lips.