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Negotiation Tactics

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They’re on patrol because Derek thinks it’s a good habit for a pack, even without outstanding enemies, and Stiles can’t stand to leave anything alone. Derek catches the scent of fresh blood in the air only a few minutes before they get back to Hale house. At first, Derek dismisses it; something is always bleeding in the woods, that's how you know the forest is alive.

The scent is getting stronger, though. There's a lot of blood - big animal, bigger than a human. Derek's almost too lost in puzzling out where it’s coming from to pull Stiles behind him just as they come close to the house.

"What--?" Stiles twists, trying to look at whatever is ahead.

"Just remember there's no danger," Derek says, letting Stiles get a good look at the dead buck. Knowing that they're safe, it's almost entertaining watching Stiles leap and flail.

Then he does it all over again as Peter steps out of the shadows. Derek rolls his eyes. He ought to tell Stiles that reacting like that just encourages Peter.

"Looks like our luck has turned at last," Peter says, kneeling by the carcass and plucking a ziploc bag from between the antlers.

"I think I'm gonna hurl," Stiles says faintly. "Wait, this is a good sign how exactly?"

Peter grins. He opens the bag, pulls out the papers inside and spreads them into a fan. "These, Stiles, are calling cards. And this," he gestures at the buck, "is something of a welcome gift. Think of it as a friendly new neighbor leaving a casserole on your doorstep."

"So, a note on the door is bad news, a dead animal is good news." Stiles shakes his head. "Werewolves."

Derek makes a displeased sigh and herds Stiles into the house, away from the sight of blood. He doesn't like the sick-rapid beat of Stiles' heart, and likes the hungry looks Peter directs at Stiles even less.

~~

Initially, Derek was going to give Jill Kline the benefit of the doubt. The alliance between Klines and Hales goes back for decades, according to Peter, and her pack is old and well-based. Derek wanted to like her.

But her first visit to the Hale house had her making pointed remarks about the décor, and if the current visit is going better so far, it's only because Jill is too busy eyeing Stiles to comment on interior design.

Stiles is sitting in the corner mending his crosse, long fingers tying careful knots and his bottom lip caught between his teeth. As annoyed as Derek is at all the staring, well, can he really blame her?

Before she leaves, Jill asks Derek for Stiles’ number. Loudly. Where Stiles can hear her.

“Well, did you give it to her?” Stiles says, hounding Derek once she's out of earshot. “I don’t know if you’re aware of this, given that you are one yourself, but werewolves are hot.”

Derek just rolls his eyes.

~~

“C’mon,” Jill says during their next negotiation. “Sharing information is important.”

A muscle ticks in Derek’s jaw as he considers, then says, “So you’ll agree to share your perimeter observations with us?”

“Sure,” Jill says happily, eyes glued to where Derek is scribbling Stiles’ number. “I’ll have him home before curfew, too.”

She does, although the only reason Derek knows this is that he’s keeping watch near the Stilinski house when Stiles drives back, grinning widely and smelling of lipstick and arousal.

No actual sex, though.

~~

After that, it’s harder to refuse the McMillan alpha when he asks Stiles to accompany him on a short walk through the woods. They don’t want to look like they’re forming a potentially-hostile alliance with the Kline pack, after all, and Quincy McMillan (“Terrible name, I know, call me Mac”) slips in some nice territory concessions in the bargain.

Also, these are Derek’s woods, which means he gets to run through them and circle around the clearing where Mac has Stiles pinned up against a tree, rubbing greedy fingers where Stiles’ too-tight shirt cuts across his biceps.

Stiles’ lips are reddened, sensitive-looking, when Mac finally leaves them with a fond farewell and a smug expression.

“I should probably care more that you’re prostituting me for the benefit of the pack,” Stiles says, dreamy-eyed, “but that would mean going against making out with hot people, and I don’t think I’m constitutionally capable of objecting to that.”

Derek just shrugs and goes for a run followed by a long, punishingly cold shower.

~~

Negotiations with the Kindle pack take place at their territory, a couple hours' drive away from Beacon Hills. Stiles squirms in the car seat. “How come they're not coming to us?”

"Older pack does the visiting,” Derek says, keeping his eyes on the road. “They can afford to leave their territory even less than we can.”

"That's... impressive,” Stiles says. “Just how new are they?”

New enough, it turns out, that the Kindles' house still has paint-shiny doors free of scuff-marks, and the upholstery is entirely free of tears made by careless claws. The pack itself is small, only Amy and James – the Alpha couple – and their kids. Their eldest, a girl named Justine, is fourteen. She stares at them with gloomy discomfort that sends a pang of recognition through Derek.

"You guys have family around these parts?” Stiles lounges over the edge of one overstuffed chair, threatening to dive right into it. Derek looks at him and mentally sighs.

It's not that he keeps Stiles in the dark on purpose. He just forgets that Stiles doesn't know the common rules of pack dynamics – hell, Derek didn't realize he still remembered those things. “Far away from family,” he replies, to spare Amy the awkwardness of trying to explain the obvious without sounding condescending.

"Split off the Miller pack in Michigan,” James says, cheerful. He has faded blue eyes, a face lined from smiling. “Was starting to get crowded back there.”

Derek gestures. There you have it. “We welcome you to the area,” he says, a little stiff.

"Thank you,” Amy says. “Won't you have something to drink?” She bends with some difficulty, and Stiles scurries to pour the tea in her stead. “Thanks again.” She flashes a smile at Stiles, a little self-conscious, rubbing circles over her pregnant belly.

"No worries,” Stiles says, easy. Derek is resolved not to bring up the way Amy's looking at Stiles' hand, wrapped around the kettle's handle. It's not likely that anything will come of it, anyway, not this time.

Once Stiles puts his cup down, it takes exactly three moments before he has a lap full of squirming toddler. “Jason,” Amy says, laughing. “That's no way to treat a guest.”

"Nah, he's fine.” Stiles' hand rests across the back of Jason's neck, silky blond hair poking through Stiles' fingers. Jason mock-growls before rubbing his face in Stiles' stomach and settling down, apparently content.

James is giving them a fond smile. Amy's look is definitely... wolfish. Justine hunches her shoulders and kicks her legs. “You let him get away with anything,” she says accusingly. “I don't even know why you brought him here, you should've left him with grandma and brought Ivy and Brendan instead.”

"They need to be around cousins their age,” James says. It sounds like a familiar argument. “And Jason is going to be Alpha one day--”

"Ugh,” Justine says. She aims a venomous glare at Derek as she marches out of the room.

James winces. “Sorry. She's taking a while to adjust.” James’ unease, too, isn’t unfamiliar; Derek recognizes the slight clumsiness of someone who was made into an Alpha rather than born one.

“Could've been worse.” Derek shrugs. “At least she didn't stomp her feet and tell you you're not her real Alphas.” Derek may or may not be speaking from experience, here.

On the couch, Amy's hands are wandering into some definitely suggestive territory. Stiles squeaks, “Um, are you sure you want to do this? With your husband right there?”

“I suppose he can tag along, if you want,” Amy says doubtfully. “How about it, honey?”

James waves them off. “Not my thing. But you guys go on and have fun.” James turns to Derek with a smile suddenly gone sharp. “Now, about that mutual protection pact…”

~~

“I expected werewolves to be more territorial,” Stiles says on the drive back. They’re nearly back in Beacon Hills, and this is the first thing he’s said since they left Kindle territory. Amy must have worn him out.

Derek shrugs. “We are on other levels. You’re human; you can’t smell that Amy’s nuts about her husband. You, she just had the hots for.”

“Oh. I guess that’s weird, too, all those Alphas wanting to have sex with me.” Stiles shifts in his seat.

Derek’s nostrils automatically flare, searching for the smell of come. There’s none there. “You don’t, though,” he says, surprising himself. “Have sex with them, that is.”

“I dunno.” Suddenly, inexplicably, Stiles smells sad. “I mean, it’s fun. And then we go a little bit forward, and suddenly it’s not anymore.”

He sounds fed up with himself. Derek steals a glance at Stiles’ generous mouth, suddenly thin-lipped and stern. “You don’t have to,” Derek says, sounding halting and awkward even to himself. “Whatever you don’t want—”

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Yeah, got the message, they stop before I even know I want them to.” But he’s smiling again, if a little wistfully. “I just wish I understood why. All my life I was dreaming about hot people sexing me up, then the time comes and I just can’t.”

“I thought you dreamed about the Martin girl sexing you up,” Derek says with a snort.

He means it as a joke, but Stiles nods like something new and interesting just occurred to him.

~~

From a political standpoint, having Stiles around is a godsend. Even if he hadn't consented to the other Alphas'... company... the mere presence of him sends a message of encouragement, of peace. Packs looking to conquer new territory don't have bright-eyed unbitten humans running around.

Besides, there's more than one way to grow a pack. Force isn't everything. “An alliance with another pack would do us good,” Peter says, thumb-typing something on his iPhone. “A mating treaty, say.”

Derek snarls, wordless, not bothering to verbalize the shut up.

“Don't growl at me, I'm just bringing up options.” Peter smirks, twirling around the ridiculous office chair he dragged to the house, because proper furniture makes perfect sense when you're living in the burnt shell of your former home. “Useful options. That boy wants a good, steady--”

"Don't even,” Derek says, and stalks away.

"I was going to say hand,” Peter calls after him.

Derek runs, fast and hard until the rush of blood in his veins drowns out everything he can't unhear. But when he closes his eyes and pants for breath, he still sees Stiles' parted lips, the amber warmth of Stiles' eyes.

~~

Ignoring Stiles was easier before Derek saw him make out with the entire world. Now Stiles just drops by in the afternoon, easy as you please, without so much as a half-hearted excuse for his presence.

"No, seriously,” Stiles says, following Derek into the house. “Why me? Why Alphas? Is it like, a scent thing? A behavior thing?”

"A human thing.” Derek opens the ancient refrigerator, stares inside. No salvation offers itself. “You're human, but you're not afraid. That's half of it.”

"Then hunters must--” Stiles actually freezes mid-sentence; Derek thinks if his life had a soundtrack, there would have been a tire-squeal accompanying Stiles' sudden silence.

Then again, if Derek's life had a soundtrack, sad trombones would probably feature depressingly often. “Yeah,” Derek says. “Let's not talk about that.” Then, because the dejected look is just plain unnatural on Stiles, he adds, “Are you going to the cross-border meetup?”

"That's, what, Kline and McMillan?” Stiles' eyes go glazed for a moment, a happy absent smile floating to his lips, and something in Derek eases. He ruffles Stiles' hair for effect, congratulating himself on the successful diversion.

~~

Of course, Stiles would wait for the most inopportune moment to ask, “What about you? Does the Stiles Alpha Madness ever strike you?”

"Stiles.” Derek grits his teeth and swerves, barely avoiding bumping into the curb.

"Okay,” Stiles says once the car (and Derek's heartbeat – Christ, he's happy Stiles can't hear its sudden surge) have settled. “But seriously, would you make out with me?”

Derek recovers enough to make, “That a request?” sound dry rather than strangled and choked.

Stiles huffs. “Asshole.” But he smiles as he says it.

~~

Derek is beginning to regret coming to the meetup. It's not like they even need him here.

The actual negotiation is mostly done by McMillan and Kline's seconds, who give each other small cordial smiles and draw boundaries on a whiteboard while a preteen kid – probably Kline's younger brother – types it neatly on a laptop.

Meanwhile, Jill and Mac are on the loveseat with Stiles sandwiched between them. There's not actually room for three people on that couch, not that they let it stop them. Jill's fingers are rubbing just below the waistband of Stiles' jeans, probably mapping his hipbones given how ridiculously low-slung those pants are. Mac is ardently kissing Stiles, hand cradling Stiles' jaw. Derek shifts in his seat and tries to focus on the negotiations.

But now that he's paying attention – he can't not – he's ridiculously aware of a stuttering quality to all the touches, how Jill's fingers dip the slightest bit lower only to pull up when Stiles' heartbeat picks up and his sweat turns sour with the first traces of fear. Mac seems content to keep strictly to kissing. Makes sense to Derek. Stopping and starting like that just seems frustrating.

By the time the negotiations are done, Stiles is wrecked. Jill helps him straighten his clothes, pecking him on the cheek and then swatting him on the ass. His mouth is red and wet, a little open like it always is, breath running hot. Derek stealthily wipes his palms on his pants and gets up, catching his chair before it has time to do anything more than wobble.

But the worst bit has to be when Mac slaps him on the shoulder on the way out. “Thanks for mediating, man,” he says, glancing fondly at Stiles.

"So that's what they call it there days,” Derek mutters on the way to the door.

It makes Stiles crack up, at least. So there's that. Getting in the car with him now is going to be... interesting. Probably not that bad, though. Derek's been in worse situations.

~~

This isn't that bad. This is worse.

Every time the car stops or starts, Stiles whimpers. Derek's finger clench white on the steering wheel, trying to make the ride as easy as possible, but he's not sure he's helping at all. Stiles' hips keep jerking in aborted little thrusts. His face is turning red, whether with embarrassment or exertion, Derek can't say.

"Derek,” Stiles says. His voice is hoarse and creaky. “You said before. If I asked you.”

Derek grits his teeth and looks forward at the road. They're just outside Beacon Hills. “I'll get you home in ten minutes,” he says.

Stiles groans, head thumping back into the car seat. “I'm not going to make it ten minutes.”

And so they pull into the Preserve, just at the edge of Derek's property, and Stiles still has his seatbelt on but he wrenches his zipper open, unbuttons his jeans and surges into Derek's touch, moaning freely into Derek's mouth. Stiles' cock is hot in Derek's hands, stiff and eager and wet – there was a damp patch on Stiles' underwear when Derek pushed them down.

"Yes, please, Derek.” Stiles writhes under his touch, spilling the third time Derek pulls his cock. He keeps surging up to Derek's mouth, even then, pursuing a string of shallow open-mouthed kisses until all he stops shuddering under Derek's hands.

Stiles is quiet after that, weirdly pliant. Derek has to pretty much pour him out of his seat when they get back to Stiles' house. He waits to see Stiles gets in the front door before turning away, tires squealing.

The bruises Stiles' fingers left are still vivid on his shoulders when Derek makes it back to the reserve, kept from healing by the sheer force of Derek's will, and Derek presses on them with one hand while the other grips his cock. He doesn't even need to thrust, just holds himself tightly, tightly, thinking of Stiles' skin and his scent, his mouth, the rapid fearless beat of his heart--

He comes, waits a beat, and hits his head hard against the steering wheel. He glares at the passenger seat for a moment, then drives back home with his teeth gritted.

~~

Stiles said yes, Derek tells himself, over and over, doing pull-ups until he feels the burn in his muscles. That has to count for something. He said yes, and he never smelled frightened or showed hesitation.

Because you’re such a good judge of that, Derek thinks despite himself. He clenches his eyes shut and falls into another endless string of crunches.

~~

Avoiding Stiles isn’t easy, not least because Derek doesn’t actually want to do it. He’ll hear Stiles’ voice or scent him, and without thought Derek will find himself turning towards Stiles before he catches himself. Like a fucking sunflower on a window sill. It’s undignified.

It’s just for a little while, though. Just until Derek figures out what to tell Stiles. Right now Derek can’t even tell what he himself is thinking, instinct and emotion all muddled up.

Stiles keeps turning up in the woods. That’s not so bad, for the most part. Derek can hide from him here better than anywhere else, run loose circles around Stiles to make sure the kid stays out of trouble.

Trouble, though, has a way of finding them. Derek breaks out of the leaf cover, making sure he’s within grabbing range of Stiles when he says, “Stranger coming.”

Stiles, predictably, flails and stumbles, but Derek already has his hands in place to steady Stiles. “Fucking fuck,” Stiles says darkly, but he follows Derek back to Hale house willingly enough.

The newcomer doesn’t keep them waiting long.

She’s human, Derek can tell by her scent. Her heartbeat is about as quick as you’d expect from someone at the end of a brisk walk. He doesn’t smell steel on her, but he knew a hunter who carried a ceramic dagger for just that reason.

She stops a few steps short of the house. Derek’s nostrils flare at the scent of blood.

Stiles is saying something low and hurried, but Derek can’t quite pay full attention. He glares at the stranger in his territory. “Well?” Derek’s voice feels odd, rusty.

She steps in and offers her hand. Her palm is dwarfed by his, short fingers with bitten fingernails. It’s a moment before Derek remembers he’s meant to shake it. “Clara,” she says with a smile full of small, shiny human teeth. “I’m here on behalf of Germaine Saunders.” Her eyes are wide and very blue.

Derek sucks in a breath, fighting against the dizzy rush her blood tempts him into. Living and metal, warm... He shakes his head to clear it. “That’s a big name,” he says. “And she sends an unarmed human to negotiate? Alone?”

Clara smiles. “Well, not exactly alone. I have some folk around, just in case.” She tilts her head. She’s bleeding from scratches all over her collarbone, tiny and precise. Deliberate. One drop beads and drips; Derek tears his eyes away from it at just the last minute before it falls down her cleavage. “But I’m sure I won’t need them to intervene.”

“You won’t,” Derek agrees. He clenches his hands briefly, turns and sees--

Stiles. Who has gone quiet, watching Derek with an anxious, intent gaze.

When Derek turns back, he can feel the warmth of Stiles’ skin right behind him, for all that Stiles is several steps away. He smiles at Clara. “I’m sorry. May I offer you a drink?” He pulls out the territory maps before waiting for her reply.

~~

Clara purses her lips thoughtfully. She hasn’t actually said much since they sat down with the maps. Stiles has been completely, unnaturally silent, his eyes burning holes in Derek’s back.

It should make Derek nervous. Instead, it’s grounding. “So there’s our joint border with McMillan,” Derek says, drawing on the lamination. “We patrol it by turns - our pack this week. I can take you out to see them, if you like.”

Her smile is faint now. Considering. “I’m sure that’s fine. You seem to have settled in all right.”

Derek shrugs modestly.

Clara nods, slapping her hand on the table. Derek can hear Stiles’ startled gasp. “That’s great.” She crosses her arms and leans back. “I think we’re good.” She sounds almost surprised.

Then crooks an eyebrow at Derek and says, “Care to seal the deal?”

Behind him, Stiles doesn’t move. At all.

It’s plain what she’s offering, obvious what Saunders intended when she sent a human to do her negotiations - a human not born to a pack, but fearless enough to walk into a strange wolf’s den unarmed, clever enough to analyze treaties, trusted to accept only if they were beneficial to the pack. Alphas can be very predictable in their responses, sometimes.

But Derek wasn’t born to be an Alpha, and besides. “My mate is right here,” Derek says softly. “He’s human. So, no thanks.”

Clara snorts. "So human means monogamous, now?" She looks at him, too clinical for a once-over. “Not all of us are. Just like some werewolves aren't, and some are. Obviously.”

Then she seems to go loose all at once, almost boneless, and laughs. “Okay, I get it. Now can I get something for the bleeding? It’s annoying as fuck.”

~~

They send her on her way covered in band-aids. Which have cartoon ponies on them, because Stiles is a freak.

“If you can’t respect Applejack as the awesome character she is, we can’t be friends,” Stiles says loftily. Then he deflates. “I mean. Not that you necessarily implied we were friends, exactly.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “I wasn’t about to give her the entire story.” He hesitates before adding, “I’m not sure I even know the entire story.”

“Uh,” Stiles says slowly, “what’s to know? I want to sex you up, apparently it’s mutual, yay us.” But there’s a bitter twist to the corner of his mouth, and Derek hates it.

“Did you?” Derek asks. “Did you, really, or did you just--” he waves his hand, unsure what he wants to say but dead certain there are a whole lot of things he doesn’t want to.

“What, let you have your way with me?” Stiles snorts. It’s really unattractive. Derek wants to kiss him anyway. “Yeah, because that sounds like something I’d do.”

“Actually, faking your way out when you’re way in over your head sounds exactly like you.”

Stiles wheels around. “Oh. Oh, yeah? Sure, let’s make this all about me, when you’re the one who only looked at me because I was Alpha-nip!” His eyes are incandescent with righteous fury.

“Is that what you think?” Derek is seriously considering tearing his hair out. “Were you actually in the room for the last hour? Were you paying attention at all?”

“Yes, watching you try not to slobber all over someone you don’t even know!” Stiles yells the last couple of words. Then he’s just standing there, staring at Derek, looking lost and out of breath. “And you went and told her I was your mate,” Stiles says softly. “Why would you do that?”

It’s growing late, and cold. Derek is tired. He gently pushes at Stiles’ shoulders, pulling him down till they’re both lying on the ground.

“Wet leaves. Gross,” Stiles mutters. He winds his arms around Derek’s neck, holding on.

In the quiet that isn’t, between the sounds of crickets and night birds and the far away noises of the town, Derek can talk. “You just wanted to, and I quote, make out with hot people. Which is fine. But it’s not what I want.”

They’re quiet for a while, blanketed by the sound of each other’s breaths and heartbeats. Derek thinks that if Stiles told him no now it would hardly even hurt, so long as they have this.

“I do, in fact, want to make out with hot people,” Stiles says. Derek huffs a laugh into Stiles’ neck. “Of which you are one, don’t get me wrong. I also want to have sex.”

Derek lets the silence go on until he can’t stand it. “Sex with...?”

“Someone I care about,” Stiles says with a sigh. “Which, in case you didn’t get the memo, would be you.”

Derek gets the impression that he’s supposed to run away now. Instead he says, softly, “I-- care.” There’s a little niggling fear in him that’s probably actually huge as fuck. But it’s very far away right now. “I care about you, too.”

Stiles sucks in a breath, like he’s surprised. The nerve of that little idiot. “I bet you say that to all the unbitten pack humans,” Stiles says lightly.

Derek growls, rolling on top of Stiles and pinning him down. “I don’t.”

The kiss is meant to be a claim, a demonstration of his intentions. It’s probably typical that it spirals out into biting and jerking hips and Stiles stretching out below him, head thrown back, dew dripping down his neck. Derek licks the drops and thinks mine mine mine, sucking rough bruises into Stiles’ fair skin, etching a mark.

“I don’t,” Derek mumbles again once they catch their breaths. He stands and helps Stiles up. He’s starting to shiver, rubbing his arms restlessly.

“Yeah, I got that. Loud and clear.” Stiles’ grin is completely obnoxious. Derek leans to kiss it off his face.

~~

They park the car nearly a mile away from Saunders’ house. Stiles wipes his palms on his jeans, flashing Derek a nervous smile. “I thought the established packs visited the newer ones.”

“That’s for negotiations.” Derek pulls Stiles forward. They’ve got some walking to do, and while Stiles isn’t too slow for a human, he’s still not as fast as Derek. “This is different.”

Stiles narrows his eyes. “And by this you mean--” Derek yanks him forward. They don’t want to run late. ”Ugh, fine. Leave me in the dark, see if I care.”

Stiles’ cheeks are stained pink by the time they get there, breath gone quick. He catches Derek’s wrist. “Hey, wait a minute.” Stiles swallows. “I wanted to bring a knife or something, but you kinda came at the last minute and I didn’t have time to pack. Still, I guess you have your claws, so....” Stiles trails off, bringing Derek’s fingers to his neck.

Derek needs a moment to unsnap his eyes from the movement of Stiles’ throat. Another one to parse Stiles’ meaning. “You don’t know what you’re asking for.”

“I think I have the general gist.” Stiles wrinkles his nose at him. It’s incongruously cute. “It doesn’t mean I’m, like, challenging anyone to a duel or offering my hand in marriage to all askers, right?”

Derek rolls his eyes. “It’s provocative,” he says.

Stiles smirks. “Provocative is my middle name, man.”

“Isn’t it Eugene?” Derek meets Stiles’ shock-and-horror expression with a raised eyebrow. “I’ve seen your driver’s license, you know.”

He takes a breath and concentrates, lets his claws come out long and sharp. He meets Stiles’ eyes. Waits for Stiles’ nod before cutting into skin.

Stiles swears, but at the first moment it’s muffled, lost in the red haze fogging up Derek’s mind. Blood, Stiles’ blood wells out unto skin, fresh and sharp and alive. Derek’s knees tremble ever so slightly. Just a taste, he finds himself thinking, leaning helplessly close. Just a little taste.

With a firm hand Stiles pushes him away, then comes close again, touching his lips to Derek’s. Derek nips at them, calmed by Stiles’ scent up close. The cut is sloppy, an uneven red line across Stiles’ collarbone, blood welling up and trickling down Stiles’ chest. Stiles stands back and squares his shoulders, offering Derek a sliver of smile. “Let’s do this.”

~~

Saunders’ place is too large to seem like a house, and half-underground for protection. “It’s like a castle,” Stiles says with nothing like subtlety. “Or a cave. Can we have a cave too?”

“Sure,” Derek says. “Just as soon as we’re one of the most powerful werewolf families in the continent.”

Stiles deflates. “So that’s a no?”

It doesn’t keep him down for long, though. Jill and Amy are at the door, and Stiles runs to hug them only to come into an awkward halt just in front of them. “Um. Hi.” He glances at Derek and rolls his fingers.

Derek huffs. “Go ahead and suck faces if you want to. I’ll see if there’s something to eat.” He presses a quick kiss to the top of Stiles’ head before moving away.

“Well, okay then,” Stiles says before his voice is muffled by someone’s mouth.

~~

After the initial greet-and-graze, everyone gathers in a loose circle around their host. The crowd pushes Stiles to the front. Derek isn’t about to allow them to part.

Germaine Saunders smells very, very old. Not like old humans, who smell frail and often sick; her scent is many, many overlapping circles, thinning into nothing at the edges but consolidating into something terrifyingly present at the center.

She raises an eyebrow at Stiles. “Some would call this display rash,” she tells him, eyeing the blood staining his white t-shirt.

He smiles at her, pulling up one shoulder in a sloppy half-shrug. “What can I say, I’m a spontaneous kind of guy.”

“Aren’t you just.” She crooks a finger. He approaches her, slow with caution, kneeling at her feet when she motions him to. Saunders grips Stiles’ jaw in her hand, staring into his eyes like a jeweler appraising gems. “Ah, if I were only twenty years younger.”

Stiles’ shoulders are dropping a little, the muscles in his neck loosening. He sighs like someone coming out of a dream when she lets go. “That would have been. Interesting.” He sounds a little unsteady, but gets up with a fluid grace he doesn’t normally possess.

“You have a way with words,” Saunders says drily. She turns her attention to the Cotter pack’s representatives, and Derek lets out a long, relieved breath.

~~

The air is much more relaxed after Saunders is done with her review. She leaves with a few Alphas - to hammer out more agreements or just get hammered, Derek doesn’t know - and the tentative, awkward politeness in the room spills into something more rowdy.

It helps that the punch is spiked with just enough wolfsbane to make things interesting. Derek should probably mention that to Stiles before the idiot manage to poison himself.

As it happens, Stiles’ mouth is otherwise occupied when Derek finds him. “We wouldn’t let him hurt himself,” Mia Saunders says with a deeply disapproving expression. Next to them, Stiles is busy feeling up Clara while Brad Saunders licks the back of his neck.

“Fuck, you’re soft,” Stiles says to Clara in an admiring sort of tone.

Brad nips his ears. “Isn’t she just?”

“I mean, fucking werewolves-- oh, don’t even,” he grumbles when Clara starts to laugh. “I mean, they’re hot and all, and they’re all so built. Would a little more body fat hurt? Really?”

“I could start laying into the curly fries,” Derek says, cutting in from the other side.

Stiles brightens considerably. “Derek! Hey, guys, you know Derek?”

“We met,” Mia says. Brad detaches himself from Stiles’ neck long enough to smile.

Stiles extricates himself with a moderate amount of groping, proceeding to drape himself over Derek. “Hey.” His breath is hot on Derek’s face, his mouth following in short order. His blunt erection presses against Derek’s hip.

Derek’s hands wrap around the back of Stiles’ thighs, pulling them together so Stiles can feel his own response to the heat between them.

“Should we get a room?” Stiles winds both arms around Derek’s neck in a move that’s getting to be beautifully familiar.

Derek snorts and looks around pointedly. To their left Clara is sandwiched between Brad and Mia, with barely a scrap of clothing on hanging on to any of them. There naked bodies moving together throughout the room, some of them more furry than others. “Nobody else bothered to.”

“Awesome.” Stiles’ legs clench around Derek, insufferably tight, until Derek has no choice but to pin Stiles to the wall and rut against him. Stiles hums approval, raking his nails up Derek’s back, scratching, leaving a mark. Derek growls and puts his mouth on Stiles’ throat, thrusting harder at the metallic tang of Stiles’ skin.

Stiles pants out a laugh. “Did you turn into a vampire and no one told me?”

Derek nips at his shoulder. “It’s not the blood.” Not exactly, not this dry remainder. “It’s just. Life. You’re alive.”

“Mmm. Yeah.” Stiles moves in a way that seems like it ought to break his spine, rubbing their cocks together. Derek should push back and take their pants off, at least, but he can’t bear to put any distance between them right now.

Stiles takes initiative, pushing Derek away for long enough to unbutton his jeans. Derek follows suit after a moment of aching dizziness at the separation.

He might’ve had a little more punch than advisable.

Then they’re skin to skin and Derek is aching in a whole different way. Needs to come, to have his mark on Stiles for the entire room of sweating, naked werewolves to see. “Look at you,” Derek rasps, licking a droplet of sweat from Stiles’ temple. “Everyone wants you, you’re fucking beautiful. Fucking come for me, show me you want it.”

It takes very little beyond that to get Stiles to come, fucking into Derek’s grasping hand , arching like his spine has gone liquid. The scent of him is heady, blood and spunk and sweat mingling in a mixture that has Derek cursing and adding to the mess on Stiles’ stomach.

~~

There are blankets in a side-closet. Derek gets a good pile of them while Stiles is in the bathroom cleaning up. Packs form impromptu nests all around the room, sleeping in piles on mats taken from a stack in the corner.

Derek makes up a soft, tidy nest for them when Stiles returns from the bathroom. He’s got Clara with him, talking animatedly. “A spray bottle? Really?”

“Would I lie to you?” Clara’s grin is too wide. It makes the tips of Derek’s fingertips itch for the added protection of his claws. “Anyway, this is our stop, I think. Unless you want to come with me? Brad and Mia have an actual bed here. It’s huge.”

“It would be.” Stiles has an easy smile turned on her, hand resting on his hip. “I think I’ll stick with Derek tonight, though. I just got him to stop stealing the blankets.”

Clara laughs. “Can’t let him backslide, huh.” She plants a light kiss on Stiles’ cheek and goes upstairs, presumably in search of the aforementioned bed.

Derek bundles Stiles close, taking care to cover him well.“I don’t like her,” Derek grouses.

“What are you talking about? She’s awesome.” Stiles nuzzles Derek’s chest, making a content noise. “I wanna be her when I grow up.”

Derek barely keeps from groaning out loud. “You’re bad enough now.”

Stiles sinks his teeth briefly into Derek’s shoulder and says, “Gee, thanks.”

Derek starts feeling drowsy sooner than he expected. It’s been a long time since he fell asleep like this, surrounded by the peaceful sounds of sleeping people.

In his arms, Stiles yawns. “I like this,” he says, a little slurred. “This is better than the Alpha pack. If we’re choosing between fighting for our territory and fucking for it, I’ll take option number two any day.”

It’s more complicated than that, and it’s on the tip of Derek’s tongue to say so, but he’s tired and Stiles smells good. “That was for death,” he mumbles into the top of Stiles head. “This is for life.”

“For life.” Stiles lets out another jaw-cracking yawn and snuggles closer. “I like the sound of that.”