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Your Lifelong Membership is Free

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“I just think it’s time the fraternity grew up a little bit,” Derek says, lifting a shoulder to keep his phone pressed against his ear, while he reaches out to grab a box of quinoa off the shelf.

“Uh huh, time to grow up, gotcha.” Laura’s voice sounds tinny through the phone; Derek doesn’t know if it’s the connection, or the fact that she’s so many miles and towns and states away.

“I’m serious,” Derek says, rescuing his phone from its precarious position, his fingers curling around it carefully. It’s brand-new, shiny and fragile-seeming, and he’s still not entirely convinced he’s going to get through the first week of owning it without accidentally crushing it.

Laura sighs; Derek can so easily picture her rolling her eyes. “Everyone’s going to hate you if you start the year off by taking away everything fun.”

“They had plenty of fun last year, I assure you,” Derek argues. “And I’m not talking about taking away everything fun! I’m not some monster.”

“Not a monster, just a fun-sucker,” Laura says agreeably, and Derek makes another frustrated noise. He doesn’t know what the hell it is about big sisters, because none of his other siblings are nearly as annoying as Laura is.

“I just think our reputation could be better,” he grits out. “I don’t want my being President of the Alphas to be something that actually hurts me when I’m no longer in the college bubble.”

“Derek,” Laura says, and her voice finally gentles a little, “you’re going to be fine. The Alphas have bounced back pretty well from Peter’s dubious leadership, right?”

“Yes,” Derek says, trying not to sound too petulant. “But that was fifteen years ago, that’s not even the point. I just - I want this to be a good year.”

“You’re gonna be fine,” Laura says, her tone that perfect mix of warmth and irritation, the one that speaks of a big sister’s particular kind of affection. “Now stop freaking out and finish your grocery shopping. You know when you’re stressed you end up buying all of that health-food crap that you never actually eat.”

Derek guiltily sets down the box of shredded wheat he’s been debating and plucks a thing of Frosted Mini-Wheats off the shelf instead. “Shut up,” he mutters as he drops it into his basket, and Laura’s laugh rings through the phone, bright and clear despite the distance.

“You’ll be fine,” she says again. “I’ll talk to you later. Don’t forget to have fun, okay? College is supposed to be fun.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Derek says, and he says goodbye before hanging up, sighing as he looks down at his grocery cart. Sometimes he really misses having a meal plan. True, the food was often pretty terrible, but at least it meant he didn’t have to deal with the grocery store.

Besides, he’s not sure he’ll have enough time to bother with cooking this year. He’s got a lot on his plate, between his full course load and fraternity stuff, to the point where he’s spent the summer second-guessing whether or not accepting a role as Alpha Nu Alpha’s president was actually the right decision. It’s a heady responsibility on its own, even without factoring in the additional pressure he feels as the infamous Peter Hale’s nephew. Being Peter Hale’s nephew means he can’t screw up; it’ll be worse for him than it would be for anyone else.

Derek’s spent the past few months preparing though, and as far as he can tell, he’s about as ready as it’s possible to be. He just hopes the semester goes smoothly, no unpleasant surprises lying in wait for him.

He eyes the grocery shelves one more time, before putting a second box of Frosted Mini-Wheats into his cart. It’ll be his reward, he tells himself, as he makes his way toward the checkout lanes, for getting through Rush Week in one, hopefully sane, piece.


“Because they’re not fun, they’re stupid,” Derek snaps, his eyebrows pulling down into a formidable frown. Across from him, Boyd huffs a quiet laugh and takes a sip of his americano.

“Some people think they’re fun,” Boyd says easily. “And Derek, I love you, man, but you are not my go-to-guy for what qualifies as fun.”

“I don’t want to do the pranks again,” Derek says. “They’re a pain in the ass, they’re distracting, and someone always goes for my car.”

“They’re tradition,” Boyd says. “And maybe you need to face up to the fact that your car is so damn ostentatious that it’s basically asking to be defaced.”

Derek scowls at him, then takes a gulp of his too-hot coffee, wincing a little as he swallows. “I don’t see why you’re so attached to this,” he adds. “It’s the same-old pranks every single year, nobody ever does anything clever or original.”

“Well, maybe this year’s the year,” Boyd says. “Besides, Isaac loves the pranks, and I like him better than I like you. The pranks stay.”

“Fine,” Derek says, because when Boyd decides to be stubborn about something, arguing is about as useful as kicking at a brick wall. “We’ll do the pranks for the pledging process, but I get to pick our first event.”

Boyd’s eyes look decided to amused, peeking at Derek over the rim of his cup as he takes another sip. “You still want to do that whole thing in the woods, don’t you,” he says. “Where we, what, bond with all the prospective freshies and howl at the moon or some shit?”

“Shut up,” Derek says, fighting to keep a frown off his face. He’s pretty sure he doesn’t succeed, if the way Boyd laughs is any indication. “I don’t want to do any howling, I just think it’d be better than the usual drunken shitshow the fraternities throw.”

“Being out in the woods isn’t going to make the guys drink less, Derek,” Boyd says reasonably, but then he shrugs, and Derek knows he’s won. “But, fine, I’m in. I’ll check with the other frats, but I don’t think they’ll have an issue with it.”

“Good,” Derek says, taking another swig of his coffee. “I’ve got a spot picked out and everything.”

“Of course you do,” Boyd says, in the same fond voice Laura uses when she thinks Derek is being ridiculous. Derek isn’t going to let it bother him though, because kicking off rush week with a casual thing in the woods is so much better than the usual boozy mess that starts the process. No guarantees it won’t turn into a little bit of a boozy mess, but Derek does at least intend to stand guard over the beer. Not only will it be a good opportunity to scope out this year’s crop of freshman, but he’s more than happy to refuse a refill to anyone who’s obviously past their limit.

If Laura wants to tell him he’s no fun, fine, but Uncle Peter’s spent years regaling Derek with tales of his time as President of the Alphas. Derek’s paid close attention, because Peter’s stint as President is a pretty comprehensive guide on ‘How to Successfully Run a Fraternity into the Ground,’ so Derek plans to do the opposite of what Peter did.

Keeping at least an eye on the drinks and the freshman is absolutely step one.


“All right, I admit it,” Boyd says, hands in his pockets as he surveys the scene before them, “the party in the woods was an awesome idea.”

My awesome idea,” Derek says, unable to keep the pleased note out of his voice. “Just like all my ideas are awesome. Which is why we should get rid of - ”

“We’re not getting rid of the pranks,” Boyd says cheerfully. “Nice try though.”

Derek’s still scowling at him when a tipsy freshman wanders up, his smile sweet and a little goofy. “Any chance I could get a refill?” he asks, holding his cup out to Derek. Derek gives him a hard look, trying to gauge just how drunk he is.

“How many have you had?” he demands, taking the cup with some reluctance.

The kid blinks, looking kind of startled. “Um - I think, just three? Not that many.”

“Yeah, but how quickly did you drink them?” Derek continues. “I could’ve sworn you were just up here - ”

“Give the man another drink,” Boyd interrupts. “Who are you, the keeper of the kegs?” He steals the cup from Derek and fills it up himself, smiling as he hands it over to the kid, who beams back at him.

“What’s your name?” Boyd asks, filling another cup for himself.

“Scott,” the kid says, lifting his cup to his mouth, then stealing a glance at Derek and apparently thinking better of it. “Scott McCall.”

“Well, Scott,” Boyd says, curling his arms around his shoulders and guiding him away from Derek, “let me tell you about Omega Delta Pi, and why it’s widely agreed to be the best frat on campus.”

The grin Boyd shoots over his shoulder manages to be the smuggest thing Derek’s seen all day. Derek rolls his eyes, turning his attention back to the kegs just in time for another freshman to pop up in front of him. Derek knows a freshman when he sees one, but this guy doesn’t seem nearly as young as Scott McCall. He’s got sharp cheekbones and short, neat hair, and he’s wearing the kind of preppy clothes that speak of both money and high school popularity.

“Derek Hale?” he asks, extending a hand. “Jackson Whittemore. I’m interested in pledging the Alphas.”

Derek keeps his poker face on as he reaches out to shake Jackson’s hand. Handsome, rich jocks are basically the bread and butter of the Alphas. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, precisely, and there are plenty of decent guys in the fraternity, but the predictability of it all sometimes grates on Derek. He’s really hoping to leave his own mark on the fraternity, he wants this year to be different, and so far, it’s been the same steady stream of crew-cuts and polos seeking him out.

Still, people can surprise you, so Derek hands Jackson a drink and clears his throat. “Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself,” he says, and Jackson doesn’t hesitate before launching into a laundry list of his many accomplishments, ranging from a lacrosse captainship to an apparently stellar academic record and an appreciation for fancy vehicles.

It’s nothing Derek hasn’t heard before, and despite his plan to stay sober for the evening, he fills a solo cup to the brim for himself, thinking he’ll need it if Jackson keeps talking for longer than the next two minutes.


Jackson Whittemore goes on about himself for a full quarter of an hour, finally leaving when Derek promises to be in touch with him about the Alphas’ next rush event. A handful of guys quickly take his place, and Derek spends the next half hour or so holding court by the kegs.

The stream of prospective pledges finally dies down, and Derek takes the opportunity to do a quick check on the current state of things. The party’s getting to the point where it might start winding down soon, but there are still plenty of people hanging around. It doesn’t look like anybody’s too wasted, which is good.

He sees a guy he was talking to not ten minutes ago laughing with Boyd and Isaac, and he frowns, his mouth tightening. What was his name - Danny? Danny, whom he’d liked, and who he’d figured would definitely accept a bid from the Alphas, considering Jackson had been the one to drag him over, introducing Danny as his best friend from high school. Derek had just assumed that where Jackson went, Danny would follow.

Instead, he’s huddled up with Boyd and Isaac, looking infinitely more relaxed than he’d been when he was talking to Derek. Isaac glances up, catches Derek’s eye and grins, even gives him a little wave.

Derek’s scowl deepens, and he’s already trying to think of a way to steal Danny back when a voice interrupts his thoughts.

“So, are you standing guard?”

Derek turns around to find a guy he hasn’t spoken to yet, hell, one he hasn’t even seen until now. The kid’s got a crooked smile on his face, like he thinks he’s being funny, and this is not the kind of nonsense Derek has time for, not when Boyd and Isaac are busily stealing all of his best pledge prospects.

“Or - hey, are you trying to be one of those British guards?” the kid asks.

“No,” Derek says.

“Are you sure? Because you’re actually doing a stellar impression of one. Like, I haven’t seen you crack a smile all night.”

“You’ve been watching me all night?” Derek asks, lifting a single eyebrow before he can think better of it. The kid flushes, his smooth, clear skin turning a delicate pink, and Derek feels suddenly, uncomfortably warm, despite the fact that the night has turned cool and crisp.

“Not in a creepy stalker way,” the kid protests. His tongue darts out to wet his bottom lip, a quick, nervous tic. “But my Dad’s a sheriff, and I’ve been taught to be aware of threatening-looking people who hide out in shadows.”

“I’m not hiding out anywhere,” Derek says. “I’m making sure no stupid freshmen get plastered and wander off to do dangerous things that would get us all into trouble.”

“But does that require the shadows?” the kid asks. “Really?” He scrunches his nose, and Derek hates that he finds it kind of - no. Derek isn’t even going to think about words like cute or adorable or sweet. Those words shouldn’t even be in his vocabulary.

“Do you want a drink or not?” he says gruffly, because the sooner this guy leaves, the better.

Most people, provided they are not Boyd or Isaac, turn tail and run when Derek gets snappy, but this kid just grins and holds out his solo cup, which Derek quickly fills.

“Cheerio,” the kid says, going so far as to put on a shitty accent, and he lifts his cup in a mock salute as he leaves. Derek just stares, because this is by far the strangest interaction he’s had all night.

Also the most interesting, in a way that leaves Derek feeling distinctly unsettled and more than a little warm and wanting.

He pointedly doesn’t watch the kid leave, turns instead back to Boyd, Isaac and Danny, who look to be getting along swimmingly. This time, it’s Boyd who grins at him, and Derek glares back with every fiber of his being.

It might, he admits to himself, be time to find Jackson and stage an intervention.


By the end of the night, Derek knows that Danny is a lost cause, but he’s made his peace with it. There are at least twenty other guys who seemed interested, and Derek knows they’ll pick up more over the course of the next week. He signals a few Alphas over to come help with the clean up, leaving Cal, Ethan and Aiden to take care of the kegs.

To his left, he sees the guy from earlier, the one who did the terrible British accent, hanging all over someone else - Scott, he thinks, the kid he’d hesitated on giving another drink to. They’re clearly good friends, probably roommates, and as Derek watches, Scott dissolves into a fit of giggles, slumping against his friend, who has his own head thrown back in laughter.

Derek can’t help but notice the pale stretch of his throat, the unexpectedly long, lean lines of his body. Even from here he notices his mouth, how red and inviting it looks.

The kid is kind of ridiculously Derek’s type, provided Derek’s willing to overlook the irritating personality and lame jokes. Which Derek’s not willing to do, actually, because he has shit to do this year - a fraternity to run, a thesis to write, and a job to secure before graduation - and he doesn’t need the distraction he can already tell Scott McCall’s friend would be.

That thought in mind, he forces himself to turn away, calling out to Cal, “Make sure you get those kegs loaded up in Aiden’s truck, we can get ten bucks apiece if we turn them back in!”


The rush events for the rest of the week split much more firmly down fraternity lines, and as predicted, Derek doesn’t see Danny once. Neither does he encounter Scott McCall or Scott’s mysterious friend, which Derek firmly tells himself is not a disappointment so much as a blessing.

Like most years, the Alphas have a surplus of want-to-be pledges, so Derek and Cal put their heads together and, with the rest of the brothers, whittle their list down to twenty-five.

At their first meeting post-bid acceptances, Derek counts no fewer than twenty-two polo shirts among their prospective members.

Six of those polo shirts come with upturned collars.

Laura laughs long and loud when Derek tells her about it later that night, in pained, unhappy tones, keeping his voice quiet so none of his fraternity brothers overhear him. Aiden still insists the popped collar is the height of fashion, and if he had even an inkling of Derek’s true feelings on the matter, there would be passive aggressive pouting for days.


By his watch, Derek has exactly four minutes to make it all the way to the far side of campus before he’s late to his nine am lecture. He should be fine, provided he doesn’t catch the damn light on Elm St, but nonetheless, he’s outright jogging toward his car, unwilling to waste any precious extra seconds on walking.

His Camaro looks odd in the early morning sun, and Derek spends a brief moment panicking about scratches or paint before he realizes it’s Saran Wrap.

Somebody has fucking Saran Wrapped his entire car, and Derek has a pretty good idea which organization is responsible.

“You have gotta be fucking kidding me,” he grumbles to himself as he approaches, his jaw clenching as he realizes just how many layers deep the plastic wrap goes. It’s airtight, too, and there’s no way in hell he’s going to risk scratching his paint job in order to tear it off. He doesn’t have time for this.

He scrubs a hand through his hair and looks up just in time to see Jackson crossing the street.

“Whittemore!” he shouts, and Jackson startles badly, almost tripping off the curb. When he sees that it’s Derek though, he perks up and trots right over.

“What’s - oh man, what happened to your car?” he asks, eyes widening as he takes in the plastic wrap.

“Someone’s idea of a hilarious joke,” Derek grits out. “Are you on your way to class?”

“Just breakfast,” Jackson says, leaning forward to get a closer look, letting out a low whistle when he sees just how tightly the car is wrapped.

“Fantastic,” Derek says. “Grab three other pledges and get this cleared off - I need it done by the time I get out of class.”

“What - really?” Jackson asks, sounding immensely put out. Derek glares at him.

“Consider it part of your initiation,” he says. “And so help you, if I find a single scratch on my car...”

“Right, got it,” Jackson says glumly. Derek gives him one more stern look before he hoists his backpack more securely onto his shoulder and moves off in a fast walk. Two minutes, then, to get all the way across campus; he’s not going to make it, not even if he was moving at a flat-out run, but hopefully he won’t be more than ten minutes late.

As he’s crossing the East Quad, he digs out his phone and sends Boyd a terse message.

the hell he writes. did you sic them on my car on purpose?

Boyd texts back just as Derek’s reached his building, and he checks the message before heading in.

nah, the text reads. just got a good crop this year - good instincts. better watch out, hale, i think we’ve got some geniuses on our hands

Which, perfect, Derek thinks, giving his professor the most apologetic look he can muster as he slips into a seat near the door. A pranking mastermind is the very last thing he needs, especially if that’s going to mean waking up to nasty surprises like a Saran Wrapped car every morning.


“I bet you anything it was Stilinski,” Jackson’s saying as Derek enters the Alpha house later that afternoon. He’s already holding court with some of the other pledges, something Derek finds not at all surprising.

“It was obviously an Omega,” Jackson continues, “and Danny wouldn’t give anything up, but my roommate’s been going on about how Lahey’s dubbed their frat the Order of Megatron, like it’s the funniest thing in the world and not actually utterly idiotic. And if he thinks it’s hilarious, then Stilinski definitely thinks it is. And how else do you explain the Megatron toy stuck on the windshield?”

“Is my car cleaned off?” Derek interrupts, raising his eyebrows at the cluster of pledges. Jackson goes silent, looking vaguely mutinous, and a boy to his left pipes up.

“Good as new,” the kid says, and Derek squints at him, trying to remember his name. Greenhut, Steinberg, something like that.

“Thank you,” he says, then, after a moment’s deliberation, heaves a sigh and heads over to the group. “There’s an aspect of your initiation that I may have neglected to mention.”

Jackson raises an eyebrow. “Does it have anything to do with us having to unwrap your car this morning?” he asks, a snotty edge to his voice, though he subsides once Derek shoots him a look.

“There is no hazing on this campus,” Derek says, voice serious. “Nothing dangerous or demeaning - we take that very seriously. I take it very seriously.”

“Wasn’t there some shit that went down, like, twenty years ago?” Greenburb breaks in, and Derek makes an irritated noise.

“Yes,” Derek says, forcing the acknowledgement out, “which is why we don’t mess around with anything that might hurt someone, destroy anything, or otherwise damage this fraternity’s reputation.” He gives each of the pledges a hard look, but they’re all nodding along agreeably; a few of them even look relieved, like maybe this whole time they’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop as regards initiation rituals.

“After the crackdown on hazing,” Derek says, “the Omegas and the Alphas started an annual prank war with each other. I was hoping to not have to deal with it this year, but the Omega’s President and VP are, in fact, toddlers, so we’re stuck with playing along.”

“Oh, I can work with this,” Jackson says, a glint already in his eye.

“Don’t embarrass the fraternity,” Derek says as he starts to make his exit. “And the first person to suggest TPing gets thrown out on principle.”

He notices Greemblurb hastily shutting his mouth and at least manages to resist rolling his eyes until he’s actually left the room.


Derek has to admit, he’s proud of his pledges for the fish retaliation. He has a feeling Ethan and Aiden might have planted the idea, but still, he’s impressed. Enough so that he shells out for pizza that night, and he and the brothers spend the evening hanging out with the pledges, relaxed and casual, just shooting the shit. This is what Derek likes best about the Alphas, this sense of camaraderie, the feeling of belonging to something greater than yourself.

Granted, he usually has to sit through one too many “I was a star high school athlete” stories for his tastes, but on nights like this, he can’t even mind that too much.


It takes awhile for the Omegas to make their next move, long enough that Derek almost starts to wonder if this might be it, if luck has fallen on his side, for once.

He should know better than to get his hopes up by now.

Something shocks him out of a sound sleep in the wee hours of a Tuesday morning. When he blinks blearily at his alarm clock, the neon green numbers read 3:27. His room’s pitch black, his door is still closed, and for a moment, Derek has no idea what’s woken him so suddenly.

Then he hears a thump from downstairs.

He sits straight up, tilting his head as if to hear better. This time, it’s a sound right outside his door that catches his attention. A swish, a crinkle of paper, and Derek slowly pushes his covers down and slides out of his bed, padding over to the door. He briefly debates grabbing for some sort of weapon, just in case there’s an intruder in the hallway, but it’s honestly more likely that Aiden’s snuck in another stray animal of some kind.

Still, Derek opens the door quickly, figuring it can’t hurt to have surprise on his side, just in case, and to his astonishment, he finds a person crouched in front of his door, dragged partially in by the grip he has on Derek's doorknob. The guy's head snaps up, mouth open, and Derek glares at him.

And that’s when the guy lets out a terrific shout.


“What the hell?” Derek growls, and he grabs the kid’s shirt, yanks him straight up. “It’s three thirty in the morning, what are you - ”

He breaks off abruptly as he realizes who, exactly, he’s staring at. Scott McCall’s friend, the stupidly attractive one, the one Derek doesn’t even have a name for yet. He stumbles forward, the kid’s weight pulling at him, only to have his heel slide sharply across the wood of the hallway, like it’s been greased with something.

Derek goes down hard, dragging the kid with him. He connects sharply enough that it knocks the wind out of him, and he gasps, uselessly trying to suck in some air.

The kid takes the opportunity to shove away from him, and even in the gloom of the hall, Derek can tell how smugly pleased with himself he is. “Surprise!” he chirps, then gets to his feet and takes off down the stairs.

All up and down the hallway, bedroom doors are flying open, and Derek sits up just in time to see nearly every one of his brothers fall victim to their slip-n-slide of a hallway. Only Ethan and Cal, down at the very end of the hall, escape, and Derek jerks his head toward the staircase.

“Get ‘em,” he says hoarsely, his breath not entirely returned to him yet, and both Ethan and Cal take off. Derek can hear the mystery kid’s voice at the bottom of the stairs, urging whoever else he’s working with to “Go, go, go!” though it’s nearly drowned out by the shouts and yelps from his current floor.

He struggles to his feet, then heads downstairs at a quick pace, only to find Ethan and Cal sprawled in a groaning heap at the bottom. Derek reaches for a nearby lamp, and he groans once light floods the room, and he can see the oily sheen of the entire floor.

As if that weren’t enough of a tip off, the entire room reeks of butter.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” he grumbles, stepping gingerly onto the floor so he can help Cal up. It’s a mistake; Cal grabs onto his hand harder than Derek’s expecting, and his feet slide out from underneath him again, sending both of them down in a tumble.

“I thought the pledges were supposed to be pranking each other!” Ethan groans. “Holy shit, I hate everything, it’s three thirty in the fucking morning!”

“I may have broken my ass,” Cal says pathetically. “Is that a thing that’s possible? A broken ass?”

“Don’t talk,” Derek orders, gritting his teeth. He pushes himself up, wincing, and doesn’t make the mistake of trying to help Ethan or Cal again. “Just - nobody say anything.”

They’ve all managed to stand upright, taking refuge on the blessedly non-buttered staircase, when Derek hears the basement door fly open, and Ennis, the only brother who was actually willing to take the downstairs bedroom, strolls out.

“Derek?” he says. “I heard - ”

He goes down before any of them can call out a warning, and Derek groans, runs a hand through his hair only to realize it's fucking covered in butter.

Much like Ethan, he hates everything.

“Get everyone up,” he grumbles. “We’re not waiting to clean this shit up, who knows what it’ll do to the wood.”

“But three thirty in the morning,” Ethan whines, only stopping when Derek shoots him a look.

It takes them hours, the process made infinitely longer by the fact that no one seems to be capable of staying on their feet for more than five minutes at a time. The butter is everywhere, and Derek gets another nasty surprise when he goes for the faucet to fill up a bucket and finds it coated in what has to be Vaseline. Oh God, he hopes it’s Vaseline.

At around eight am, once they’re just about finished up and everyone’s duking it out over who gets to shower first, Jackson bursts in, his phone held out in front of him.

“You’re gonna want to see this,” he says, holding it out to Derek.

There’s a video. Of course there’s a video. Derek takes one look at it, notes the angle, and with a furious bout of swearing stomps over to the mantle, where he finds a small, cheap camera, a light on it flashing red, signaling that it’s recording. Derek thumbs it off, briefly thinks about smashing it, but tosses it into an end table drawer instead.

“I want your retaliation to be sensational, do you understand me?” he says to Jackson, whose face is all kinds of contorted in a clear attempt not to laugh. The video on his phone is still playing; Derek can hear Ennis swearing, the particular string of curses that had marked his third spectacular fall.

Jackson nods, hurriedly shoving his phone into his pocket and making for the door.

Derek orders a couple juniors to do a quick round and double check that all of the doorknobs have been wiped off, while he heads upstairs to grab a shower of his own, if there’s even any hot water left.


The Alpha pledges’ next prank is dying Scott McCall’s hair pink

Derek is not impressed.


Especially when the next thing they get hit with is stinkbombs.

Derek thought the butter was bad, but no, the stinkbombs are the worst thing to ever happen to him, and a prank this bad simply cannot go unanswered.

It takes a week, but luckily the weather cooperates, and they’re able to leave the windows open almost the whole time in order to air out the house. Derek’s main concern is that they’re inviting another stinkbomb attack, but the Omegas, at the very least, seem to be respecting the prank war tradition of giving the other side time to respond before launching a new attack.

Derek makes use of the time by gathering information. He meets with the Alpha pledges in the back corner of the library, on the fourth floor, where no one ever goes.

“All right,” he says, folding his arms across his chest imposingly and looking sternly out at the freshmen and handful of sophomores gathered around him. “What can you tell me about the Omega pledges.”

“It’s Stilinski,” Jackson says promptly. “He’s the one coming up with all of these, I guarantee you.”

Derek huffs a sigh; it’s not the first time he’s heard that name, but he’s not sure why Jackson’s so intent on assigning all of this mayhem to one person.

“Who the hell is Stilinski?” Derek asks, and that’s when Greenberg, whose name Derek’s finally got a handle on, leans across and shows him his laptop.

“That is,” he says, and Derek’s eyes widen, because on the screen is a freeze frame of the infamous butter video, and right there, bolting down the stairs, is the same kid Derek had found outside his door. Scott McCall’s friend, the guy Derek’s been thinking about far more than he’d like this semester.

“Stiles Stilinski,” Greenberg says. “He sits in front of me in Finstock’s Econ class.”

“Trust me, it’s all him,” Jackson says. “Danny’s brilliant, but he isn’t devious, and God knows McCall isn’t.”

“Stiles Stilinski,” Derek murmurs, eyes fixed to the screen. “Greenberg,” he says sharply, and Greenberg jolts a little, looks at him expectantly. “I want you to find out everything you can about him, you understand?”

“Should I talk to him?” Greenberg asks. “I mean, he might know I’m an Alpha - wouldn’t he be suspicious?”

Derek doesn’t see that being a problem; Greenberg is absolutely one of those guys who slips right under the radar, who you have to look twice before even noticing him. Still, it’s good sense, so Derek puts his hand on Greenberg’s shoulder and gives a firm squeeze.

“Just pay attention to him,” he says. “Keep an ear out for any new pranks he’s planning, see if you can figure out an opening for us to get back at him.”

“Sure,” Greenberg says, looking pleased at his newfound responsibility. “Yeah, I can do that.”

“Good,” Derek says. “Then let’s try to see if we can figure out something better than pink hair for our next attack.”

Every pledge before him flinches, which, they should feel bad. Dying one pledge’s hair pink is nearly as terrible as TPing.


you willing to concede victory yet? Boyd texts, when it’s one week post-stinkbombs, and the Alphas have yet to respond.

oh, we’re just getting started Derek replies.

That’s the day Greenberg bursts in, telling Derek all about how next Saturday, Stiles and Scott will be housesitting for the Omegas, no one but them in the frat house.

Derek grins outright, his mind already working.

Time, he thinks, to call in some help.


Jackson’s dating one of the girls pledging their sister sorority, Delta Alpha Kappa, and she very kindly agrees to help them out, in exchange for Derek introducing her to the head of the Math department.

“Really?” he asks, curious despite himself. “That’s your price?”

She smiles, showy and fake. “I have big plans for my time at this school,” she says firmly. “And I happen to know that you’re one of the few students Harris actually likes.”

‘Likes’ isn’t necessarily the word Derek would use, but it’s close enough.

“Sure,” he agrees, then, “You know the plan?”

Lydia just rolls her eyes, but it’s oddly reassuring, like she’s confident enough about what she’s doing to be dismissive.

Derek watches from behind a tree while Lydia and her friend Allison step up to the Omegas’ front door. The boys let them in without question, and Derek pointedly does not think about the way his chest tightens when he sees the way Stiles is looking at Lydia.

He counts to twenty once the door closes, then jogs over to the front step, carefully testing the handle. Unlocked, just like Lydia had promised to leave it. He presses his ear to the front door, listening, and when he can’t hear anything, he slowly presses it open and slips silently inside.

There are voices coming from the kitchen, and Derek creeps closer, waiting for an acceptable cue. He grins when he hears a squawk of outrage, quickly followed by the metallic clang of a pair of handcuffs.

“Hey! Are you - what - you liars!” And that’s Stiles, pissy and stunned.

“Well, we didn’t lie about the dinner,” he hears Lydia say, then Allison chimes in, “We did lie about being out of the staples though.”

Derek gives it another couple moments, and then he hears Lydia say, “For Derek,” which is the best cue he could have asked for. He steps smoothly around the corner, gaze flickering around, taking in the scene before him, Stiles firmly cuffed to the staircase, while Scott’s attached to the radiator. Neither one of them is going anywhere.

“Thank you, ladies,” he says, with a mock tip of his hat. Stiles groans, gives another half-hearted tug against his cuffs.

“You are an actual caricature of a real human being, do you know that?” Stiles says. “Seriously, dude, you’re like the big bad British wolf or something, always lurking in corners and glowering - ”

Just for that, Derek grins at him, big and wide, the same smile, coincidentally, that he puts on when he’s flirting. For some reason, it seems appropriate.

Stiles makes a noise, deep in his throat, and Derek feels his grin stretch wider.

“My, what big canines you have,” Stiles mumbles.

“Allison, Lydia,” Derek says, without looking away from Stiles, whose cheeks are steadily turning a flushed, pretty pink. “If you would be so kind as to show the pledges in?”

Lydia hands him the key to the handcuffs as she passes; Derek watches her and Allison go, then glances down at the key, thoughtfully. Stiles is hardly in an ideal position for what he’s planning next, so Derek steps forward, caging Stiles in completely. He’s pressed so close that he feels rather than hears Stiles’ inhale, and in a quick, fluid movement, he unlocks the cuff Lydia had attached to the bannister.

“Is this a joke?” Stiles asks, his voice more than a bit choked. His fingers flex and curl, like he's already anticipating being free.

“Nope,” Derek replies, then stretches up as higher as he can reach, forcing Stiles’ arm up with him. When he reattaches the cuff, it’s way above Stiles’ head, leaving him precariously on his toes, and that much less able to squirm once Derek gets to stage two.

“Oh, dude,” Stiles says. “This is just mean. This constitutes bodily harm, I’m pretty sure - I could dislocate my shoulder here! Easily!”

It’s a plea for sympathy and nothing more, because there’s no way this is putting any actual strain on Stiles’ arm, not if he behaves himself and doesn’t try to tug his way to freedom.

“Don’t worry,” Derek says, stepping just far enough away that he isn’t directly in Stiles’ personal bubble again. “You won’t be like that for long.” He’s grinning again; he kind of can’t help it. It feels good to get one up on the kid who’s been driving his whole fraternity so crazy. More than that, this is the closest he’s ever been to Stiles in the daylight, and it turns out the kid’s eyes are this amazing, rich brown, almost amber in the morning sunlight.

Derek’s always had a thing for brown eyes.

He forces himself to step away, before Stiles catches him outright staring. There are water cups to be overseen, after all, and a big part of Derek wants to let Stiles stew for awhile, before putting part two of his plan into action.


It takes a couple hours, but their prank goes off without a hitch. Derek breaks away from helping once the entire living room is packed tight with cups, and the pledges have just started on the kitchen. It’s smaller, and Derek figures it won’t take more than forty minutes to complete, which means it’s time to start on the Stiles-specific portion of his plan.

“Stiles, Stiles, Stiles,” Derek drawls, enjoying the fact that he so clearly has the upperhand here.

“How do you know my name?” Stiles demands, surprisingly mouthy for someone in his position.

“You don’t think I’d take the time to find out exactly who’s been masterminding all these ridiculous pranks?” Derek says easily. He tosses the duct tape from one hand to the other, watches Stiles’ eyes track it.

“Masterminding!” Stiles says. “That is false - completely off base - I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about - ”

“Oh, I know an instigator when I see one,” Derek says.

The temptation to lean in, to put one hand just above Stiles’ shoulder, to maybe set the other one on his hip or at his elbow, is way, way too strong. Derek is not going to be the kind of guy who takes advantage in that way, so instead, he grabs the edge of the duct tape and unrolls a long strip.

“Okay, seriously, man,” Stiles says warily, “what is that for?”

“Why don’t I just show you?” Derek asks.

“No need, actually, I’m fine not knowing,” Stiles says, voice high and tight, but Derek ignores him. He starts on Stiles’ wrist, since that’s up and out of the way, sets to winding the tape around it good and tight, though not tight enough that it runs any risk of cutting off Stiles’ circulation.

Stiles quickly catches on to Derek’s intentions, and as soon as he does he starts squirming and pulling away, as if he has any actual chance of escape.

“I’m allergic to duct tape!” he protests at one point, and Derek stills, halfway through wrapping his arm.

“Right,” he snorts. “Try a more believable story next time.”

“It’s true!” Stiles yelps. “Scott, tell him!”

Derek glances back at Scott, who’s sprawled pretty comfortably on the floor, though he looks a bit wary when Derek’s gaze lands on him.

“Well?” Derek asks, lifting an eyebrow. “Is he really allergic to duct tape?”

Scott looks from Derek, to Stiles, to Derek again. “Are you going to tape me to the bannister, too?”

“That depends,” Derek says. “You gonna tell me the truth?”

“Not even a little bit allergic,” Scott says, and Stiles howls.

“You traitor!” he calls, as Derek gets back to work.

“Hey, I got my hair dyed pink for you!” Scott protests. “You’re on your own for this one.”


Derek calls Jackson and Greenberg over to hold Stiles’ feet, after a well-timed kick nearly catches him in the balls, but with their help the duct taping goes quickly, and Derek finishes just as the last of the pledges file out, the kitchen now completely filled with cups of water, but for a narrow path from the bannister to the back door.

“Well, this has been fun,” Derek says, looking smugly at the sight Stiles makes. He’s totally trapped, taped securely from the neck down, his feet no longer even touching the floor. Stiles’ protests and complaints have finally subsided, and now he just glares mutinously at Derek, his jaw firmly set in a pout.

It mostly makes Derek want to think of those words that he’s barred from his vocabulary.

Derek does a quick, final check, just to make sure the tape isn’t cutting into Stiles anywhere, and once he’s satisfied that he’s not going to be leaving him in a position that’s too uncomfortable, he leans in close, though not quite close enough to touch. He can smell the faint scent of Stiles’ cologne though, and when Stiles blinks up at him, he can see the different shades of brown swirling through his irises.

His eyelashes, Derek notes, are absurdly long, and unless he’s much mistaken, Stiles’ gaze drops very briefly to Derek’s mouth, a development that makes an annoyingly large part of Derek want to celebrate.

“Tell Boyd I look forward to receiving his surrender,” Derek says, and to his secret delight, Stiles’ eyes narrow.

“We have not yet begun to fight,” he says, with as much dignity as he can muster.

Derek laughs; it’s a hard threat to take seriously when its giver is taped to a staircase, but God damn, let it never be said that Stiles Stilinski doesn’t have spunk.

The warmth that curls through Derek at that thought is dangerous, and he quickly takes his leave, with no more than a final mocking wave to both Stiles and Scott. He jogs back to his car, parked two blocks over, still smiling as he slides behind the steering wheel.

Whatever Stiles comes up with in retaliation, and Derek has no doubt that there will be retaliation, he has a hard time believing it’s going to top this.