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this guy's been awake since the second world war

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i. you know you drive me up the wall

Stiles gets blackout drunk and sleeps for twenty hours after surviving his freshman year. After that, he doesn’t sleep for five days. Five whole days.

He tosses and turns for a solid eight to ten hours a night. He keeps his eyes shut and stays as relaxed and still as humanly (or at least Stiles-ly) possible, but nothing keeps his mind from wandering. Some nights the entirety of Inception plays out behind his eyelids, fractured by fleeting thoughts of groceries his dad needs and whether or not he should go for that protection tattoo Allison showed him last week. Other nights he does long division in his head just to make sure he still can.

Most nights, for most of the night, he lies still and thinks about Derek Hale--but that’s been pretty par for the course since his epic love for Lydia flamed out just over a year ago, replaced by this not totally new, but definitely totally unhealthy, obsession.

Things get real desperate when he rolls out of bed one morning with this ridiculous line of pimples climbing up the side of his jaw and a hard-on that apparently appeared out of sheer boredom. The next night is when he begins counting sheep. (He stops when his erection decides to be there again, because sheep and that were two things he didn’t want mingling. Ever.)

When sheep fail him, Stiles drags himself out of bed and walks (he doesn’t trust himself with his Jeep in this state) to Scott’s in the ratty sweats and jersey he didn’t-sleep in. It’s just past noon when he lets himself in with the cactus pot key. When Ms. McCall catches him in the hallway, she mothers him for a solid ten minutes before he’s able to convince her he wasn’t punched in both eyes.

“Just haven’t had much sleep,” he says, very calmly, until she believes him. He smiles a little, waves a little, and collapses onto Scott’s floor as soon as she lets him go.

He groans, loud and melodramatic, and slaps his hand against Scott’s mattress until Scott shakes and growls himself awake.

“I’m up,” he mumbles into his pillow. “Why ‘m I up?”

“Insomnia, Scott. Insomnia,” Stiles says, considerably less calm without adult supervision, before Scott is even fully awake. He pauses for breath when his voice cracks (he thought he outgrew that bullshittery years ago, what the hell) and scowls into the crook of his arm. “I have now read everything there is to read about insomnia, and you know why? Because I have it. Insomnia!”

It takes Scott another minute to form proper words, specifically the words, “Are you, like, delirious right now?”

Stiles isn’t convinced Scott actually knows what that word means, but it’s accurate enough that he nods. “Deliriously tired. I haven’t slept in eons, okay? Literal eons. Okay, not literal eons, but you get my point.”

“I do?” Scott asks, then yawns.

“Sympathize with me, damn it.” Stiles picks himself up, his limbs protesting the sudden shift. The ability to produce kinetic energy was so not something he possessed this week, but there was only so much time he was willing to spend on a floor with Scott’s dirty laundry for the sake of dramatic effect. He throws himself onto the desk chair instead, his eyes sliding shut as soon as he gets settled.

“Yeah, no, totally. I get you,” Scott says. He waits a beat before adding, louder, “Are you asleep?”

Stiles jerks upright, his eyes going wide and sleepless again in an instant. That elusive state of unconsciousness had been so close that he could practically taste it, smell it. (Which didn’t make much sense since his bed was glorious and Scott’s chair was lumpy as all hell, but he would’ve taken it. He would’ve taken sleep anywhere if it decided to make itself an option once more.)

“I think I was getting there,” he says, echoing Scott’s yawn. “So weird. Your chair sucks.”

“I love that chair.” Scott kicks his sheets off and frowns. “And what do you mean weird? Supernaturally weird?”

Stiles shrugs and drops his head down into the circle of his arms while Scott changes. “I don’t know. Maybe? It’s been five days.”

“Really? Didn’t you say it started two days ago?”

“That was three days ago,” Stiles says. He gets up when Scott nudges him and trails him down the stairs. “Where have you been, Head in the Clouds?”

“With Allison,” Scott responds easily with that big goofy grin. “Time flies and all that, right?”

Stiles would gag if his bones (funny bone included) didn’t ache with exhaustion, but ache they do, so he takes a seat at the kitchen table instead. He holds his hand out for the sugar after Scott pours him a cup of the coffee from the half-full pot Ms. McCall left on the counter for them. “Can we get back to my potentially supernatural problem?”

“Have you seen a doctor? You could ask my mom,” Scott says.

Stiles shakes his head. “I think that option left the table when potentially supernatural got on it.”

“You should ask Derek,” Scott says, then.

Stiles makes the effort to at least heave a sigh because that definitely deserves a heaved sigh. He never thought he would miss the frenemy thing Scott had going with Derek’s pack, but he misses it so much. Back then, you should ask Derek would never have been a viable option. It still isn’t, especially when Stiles is pretty sure his filter would allow him to literally hit on Derek and subsequently have his throat literally ripped out, but Scott no longer seems to realize that.

“Ask him what, exactly? Boo-hoo, I can’t sleep, please hold me until I can?

Scott cringes from where he’d stuck his head into the fridge to find lunch. “Okay, maybe not that. I just meant--it could be a spell or something. He might know if there’s weird mojo going around town.”

“He’s like ninety percent weird mojo. How would he ever tell.” Stiles chugs half of his coffee and pours in more sugar. “Besides, aren’t you the first one he comes running to when that kind of stuff goes down? Wouldn’t we have known, oh, say, five days ago?”

“Okay,” Scott says. He slaps a sandwich together before sitting himself down, trying to bite and chew and look serious all at once. (Stiles never did get the whole wake up hungry thing. He would have filed it away as a werewolf thing if Scott hadn’t been doing it since he was five.)

“Okay, so,” Scott starts again, swallowing with his wolfy jugular (which is something Stiles is absolutely allowed to say as the human in this relationship). “I understand your pain.”

“Thank you,” Stiles says.

“It’s summer break. You should be allowed to sleep for as long as you want.”

“I agree,” Stiles says.

“We should call Derek.”

Stiles groans. So, what, the guy shapes up and saves their lives a dozen times or so and he’s suddenly an expert? Stiles thinks not.

“Clearly Stiles thinks not,” Scott says around a mouthful. “Maybe Deaton?”

“I’m not an animal, Scott,” he says. “Can you just get me a copy of the bestiary? I lost the files in the epic hard drive fail of spring quarter.”

“Sure, but Allison’s coming over in half an hour if you wanted to hang out and ask her. She’s got most of it memorized now, you know. Did I tell you that?”

Scott has, in fact, told him that. Repeatedly. With the same proud grin each time. Stiles doesn’t remind him, though, because he’s the provider of caffeine in this situation and Stiles is completely unwilling to alienate his source.

“Allison,” he says, weighing the pros and cons of that option. Taking into consideration that his idea had been for Scott to knock him over the head and bless him with some forced unconsciousness, Stiles was willing to consider that Allison might be able to help.

 

Allison laughs.

“I’m sorry,” she says, leaning against Scott’s shoulder as she joins them in the kitchen. She smiles apologetically before explaining, “It’s just, the last time I saw you was at Lydia’s welcome home thing--and you look exactly the same now as you did then, with the eyes?”

Stiles rubs at his eyes, knowing without seeing that the heavy bags of sleep-deprivation are hanging out there. He doesn’t remember much of Lydia’s welcome home thing, which had basically been Lydia’s welcome home alcohol distribution festival, but he does recall waking up with streaky eyeliner tracks under his eyes. (Who put eyeliner on him in the first place and why were questions with answers that still eluded him.)

So maybe he deserved the laughter. It doesn’t stop him from pulling a face (five day fatigue earns him the right to be a bit cranky, he feels) before he asks, “So you have insider information that’s going to fix my super hilarious problem?”

Allison shakes her head and spends a minute playing with Scott’s hand before looking back up to Stiles. “Not unless you’ve been experiencing the symptoms of puberty, too.”

She laughs again, like the mere thought of it is hilarious. Scott seems to get the joke a second later because he laughs, too, leaving Stiles confused and more than a bit freaked out.

“Symptoms of puberty,” he says, rolling each syllable slowly off of his tongue. “Like inexplicable bad acne on a guy who takes excellent care of his skin? Or more frequent than usual morning--excitement?”

His voice cracks over excitement, pitching high before settling back down. Stiles slaps a hand over his mouth and freaks out harder when Allison and Scott instantly stop laughing.

“Or this?” he says in a low hiss, pointing at his throat.

Allison, for lack of a better term, titters nervously. “Oh.”

 

As it turns out, oh in Allison-speak means--.

Stiles stands, hands pressed to the table to keep himself upright as his head reels with a slush of exhaustion and disbelief. “I’m sorry. Did you say mate?”

“Something like this happened when Scott told me he loved me for the first time,” is what she actually said. “It’s a proximity thing. We couldn’t sleep when we were apart and everything felt better when we were close. There were those side effects for us, too, just like what you’re describing. It happens when a werewolf finds their mate, but doesn’t complete the bond.”

She went on to talk about, and is in fact still going on about, the social and romantic implications of the whole ordeal or something, but Stiles can’t handle much more of an infodump. Stiles is still stuck on the mate concept as a general thing that is not happening because what?

“Wait. Wait a wait.” He sits back down when his arms give out. “You’re saying I can’t sleep--.”

“Don’t forget about the puberty,” Scott says in a tone that suggests he genuinely thinks he’s being helpful. “Second puberty is the worst.”

“Don’t say second puberty,” Stiles says, flailing his hands in front of himself to indicate just how wrong that sounded. “Second puberty is not like second breakfast. It’s not a thing and mates are not a thing. Not for me. I’m pretty sure I would remember if a werewolf told me they love me.”

“The bestiary suggests that any romantic overture from either party involved will initiate the bond, so it could’ve been you,” Allison says, which is just about as helpful as second puberty. She seems to realize it, at least, because she goes on to say, “But I see your point. You said this all started after Lydia’s party?”

Stiles nods and exercises a tremendous deal of willpower by not grinding his teeth. “Yeah, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t make or receive any romantic overtures that night. I went to the party, went home, slept, woke up, and never slept again.”

(He doesn’t say, “Yeah, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t make or receive any romantic overtures to or from Derek that night,” because the possibility that he hit on a werewolf is already pretty horrifying. The possibility that said werewolf could have been Derek is, for the sake of his continued sanity, inconceivable. Stiles resolutely does not conceive any such possibility.)

“What about the middle bit?” Scott asks.

Stiles swivels towards him like a very determined owl and stares. “Middle. Bit.”

“Yeah.” Scott pauses and looks to Allison, then to Stiles, and finally shrugs. “You didn’t go home after the party. You went somewhere with Danny and his friends?”

“I went somewhere with Danny and his friends,” Stiles repeats. He breathes in, breathes out, and then shouts at a volume Finstock would approve of, “Why the hell didn’t you mention this earlier!”

Scott begins to look increasingly alarmed. “I--thought you knew?”

“What part of oh, man, I think I had my first blackout drunk experience did you not understand?”

Scott cringes and picks sheepishly at the crumbs on the plate still in front of him. “The blackout part?”

Allison pats his knee reassuringly. “Stiles, this is good.”

Stiles disagrees violently and opens his mouth to make his dissent very loudly clear, but he deflates before the words get out. All he manages after a moment’s pause is, “How.”

“You could ask Danny what you got up to,” she says. “Start filling in the blanks?”

Stiles pulls a face and rolls his eyes. “So, what, I should just go up to him and say hi, Danny, I think one of your friends is a werewolf and I might have mated with them last week?”

 

“Hi, Danny, I think one of your friends is a werewolf and I might have mated with them last week,” Stiles says after finding Danny in the library doing some cool charity thing for the kids.

Danny stops doing some cool charity thing for the kids. Danny stops doing everything and just blinks. Then blinks again.

“Sorry, what?” he asks.

Stiles adjusts the set of his shoulders and tries again. “Do you have any werewolf friends?”

Same response: two blinks and an, “Excuse me?”

Stiles is never taking Scott’s advice again. (“Yeah, man, that sounds fine,” he had said. “Those are great questions. Very direct.”) He tries a third time, going for casual-mundane-honest. “I don’t remember what happened after we left Lydia’s place. Fill me in?”

“You asked us to drop you off in the woods,” Danny says very, very slowly. “So we did?”

“Thanks,” Stiles says. His voice cracks. He turns on his heel and marches right out of the library before the wholly humiliating aspect of that conversation can start to bother him. As a Stilinski, he has a policy against humiliation that this whole day seems intent on testing.

As he walks away, he’s pretty sure he hears Danny’s boyfriend say to him, “Did you really just get so caught up in the years of pretending not to know about their wolf problems that you kept on pretending in the face of an open admission?”

He’s also pretty sure he hears Danny laugh and say, “Habit, I guess?”

Stiles makes the executive decision to ignore it.

And when he can’t stop the little troll voice in his head from going you know Derek lives in the woods, right, he ignores that, too.

 

And when Scott says, “You know, Derek lives in the woods,” Stiles is tempted to roll down the window and leap out of his moving car, bruising consequences be damned. Scott did tear his mouth away from Allison long enough to do him the favor of driving him out to do the whole retracing his steps thing, though, and Stiles doesn’t want to be rude.

“All werewolves live in the woods,” Stiles says, keeping still except for the nervous bounce of his leg. The aforementioned troll voice is getting louder and quickly becoming impossible to ignore. (Derek Derek Derek, it says with frenzied glee.)

Stiles smacks a hand against his forehead, which doesn’t help anything at all ever. So he does what he always does under pressure and opens his mouth.  “And even the ones that don’t! Were probably there! Aren’t they doing some werewolf camp thing that you weren’t invited to?”

“I was, but Allison wasn’t, so--.” Scott shrugs and turns onto the trail into the trees. “I’m just saying--.”

“What are you saying?” Stiles asks with no real need to know.

Scott keeps quiet and slows to a near-stop as Stiles pushes himself up to start scanning their surroundings for clues that will make his life very easy, sleep-filled, and not at all harder.

“Allison just mentioned youmaybeDereking?” Scott says, rushing the last words out in one quick go.

Stiles freezes as he begrudgingly translates youmaybeDereking from Scott speak into its English counterpart: “Do you think you might have made a supernatural love connection with Derek Hale?” He turns to Scott a second later with every intention of telling him he has no idea what he could possibly mean by that because nothing like that has ever occurred to him as a possibility, ever, even in eloquent, well-worded, grammatically correct terms.

But what he ends up saying in a voice that climbs up half an octave as he speaks is, “Are you asking me if I mated with Derek?”

Scott stops completely, then, and looks at him like he thinks someone should be asking him that. “Well, did you?”

“Blackout drunk.” Stiles points at himself.

“Right, right! I know. I know, and I don’t mean mated like--you know. Because you wouldn’t be feeling the side effects if you did, and also gross, but if you started something--.”

“I didn’t start anything.”

“I thought you couldn’t remember,” Scott says.

Stiles hates it when Scott makes good, valid points.

“It’s a possibility, right?” Scott asks.

“It is not,” Stiles decides, even if he can’t stop himself from thinking about Derek and Derek’s skin and Derek’s whole--face situation. (It’s not like these thoughts are a new development, anyway.) “Look at me, man. I’m wearing bags that could carry groceries under my eyes and I’m pretty sure I’ve got three socks on, and none of them are form a matching pair. What do you think my luck stat is, huh?”

“Well,” Scott says, getting this look in his eye like he’s decided now is the time for humor. “You’re friends with me, right?”

“Right, so extremely low,” Stiles says. “No--no, don’t look at me like that, you know I didn’t mean it. The extremely low still holds though, and extremely low is not high enough to land me Derek Hale as a mate.”

It’s also not high enough to allow Stiles the realization that any werewolves in the area would be hearing this conversation clear as day until after he’s finished ranting. Stiles sinks low in his seat and groans, which any loitering werewolves probably also hear.

“Want me to come in with you?” Scott asks a pause so awkward that Stiles would nominate it for consideration in the Awkwardness Academy Awards.

Stiles would also nod, his age old preoccupations with survival in the face of big-bad-wolf teeth urging him not to walk into that house by himself, but the potential embarrassment of the imminent future was too great to risk witnesses. He shakes his head and tumbles out of the car with all the grace of an adolescent zebra who hasn’t slept in five (going on six, now) days.

“I’ll call if I’m alive enough to need a lift back,” he says.

The hope is he’ll be alive enough to need a lift back.

The hope is he’ll wander in, find a beta, and receive the awesome news that he had done something of a romantic nature to or with a completely willing werewolf who was thoroughly into him. The more realistic hope is not running into Derek as soon as he sets foot inside the house.

He doeesn’t run into Derek as soon as he sets foot inside the house (score!), but it’s a near thing. Stiles is still taking in the new downstairs, repurposed into a training area after the pack moved into normal homes that had mailing addresses, when Derek appears at the foot of the stairs with his usual, still-impressive jump from the top.

Before Stiles can so much as open his mouth, Derek glowers and frowns and smolders (and Stiles feels week in the god damn knees) and says, “You can’t be here.”

“I know! Yes! Excellent point!” Stiles shoots his hands up in the air in what he considers a great sign of peace. The only greater sign would be curling right up into the fetal position, which he desperately wants to do, but the place was renovated--not clean. Besides, the wave of exhaustion that just hit him would probably knock him out if he gets horizontal right then and there.

Other waves he can’t even think about--specifically waves of Derek is So Fine, Derek Looks Great in That Shirt, Derek Should Glower More, and Derek is So Fine--are right there with exhaustion, bouncing around his ribcage like it’s a playground with no parental supervision allowed.

Stiles shakes his head clear and lowers his hands an inch. “I’ll get out of your hair and face and blood--oh, god, is that blood--after just one question. Just one. Did I--.”

Make overtures of a romantic nature in your general direction while off my face doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. Stiles stumbles over the sounds and ends up making a garbled one that could be approximated as, “Annargh?”

“You didn’t,” Derek says humorlessly. “Leave.”

“One more question. Please? Okay--.” Stiles pauses for breath to keep from squandering another ask, but not for long enough that Derek has a chance to protest. “I can’t sleep and Allison said something about mates and I was wondering if you had any experience--firsthand or otherwise!--with the whole mates and mating thing and if you would maybe ever do the mate thing with someone like--.”

Stiles isn’t allowed to finish with me before he’s lifted by the scruff of his neck and bodily hauled towards the front door. He’s pretty sure he’s going to be deposited on the porch, which is more than enough to answer his question in the negative, but heat flares under his skin where Derek’s fingers are curled and he feels so comfortable all of a sudden that he doesn’t stay conscious long enough to find out.

He’d gotten the answers he came for, after all. Derek’s made it plenty clear, in no uncertain terms, that Stiles was not considered mate material in this relationship.

 

ii. i need to see your face that’s all

Stiles wakes up in his own bed and says, “Derek.”

The light behind his blinds suggests it’s day, which in turn suggests he slept through the night, which--is awesome. Stiles brings a hand up to the back of his neck to feel around for a bruise from Derek’s ninja death pinch, which had been completely unnecessary except for the part where it actually seemed to help him sleep through the night.

Sleep through the night.

He slept through the night.

“I slept through the night!” he says, at what’s probably too loud of a volume for whatever time of morning it is if his dad’s grumble as he passes by in the hall.

Stiles makes him a breakfast fit for a Sunday to make up for it. He calls Scott, scrubs out the bathroom, and goes for a run.

Then, just after lunch, he crashes in the middle of reading everything there is to read on werewolves and mates. (Safesearch on, thanks.) As it turns out, one single night of sleep isn’t quite enough to make up for five nights of none. Stiles figures a power nap in the middle of the day couldn’t hurt his rep as a not-even-twenty year old if nobody finds out about it.

He settles into a nest of blankets, made as comfortable and inviting as possible, and squeezes his eyes shut tight to indicate that his body is completely ready to receive at least another hour or two of sleep.

What Stiles gets instead is the incredibly distracting image of the set of Derek’s jaw. It sticks in the back of his eyelids and refuses to go away until he takes a very cold shower. He’s not not tempted to jerk off to the set of Derek’s jaw, but he doesn’t do it because this isn’t high school. Besides, if Allison was right, there’s some cool werewolf guy or gal out there just waiting restlessly to mate it up with Stiles. It hardly felt right to keep fantasizing about Mr. No-I’m-Not-Your-Mate-Get-Out while knowing that.

He does, however, briefly consider getting in the Jeep and driving out to ask for another dose of Hale violence since it didn’t seem to come with any side effects aside from beautiful, blissful sleep.

It’s less of a briefly, really, and more of a Stiles is out in the driveway with his keys in hand when Scott and Allison pull up behind the Jeep.

“Hi and bye,” Stiles says as they get out. “Wait, actually--Scott, can you do that neck thing?”

“Hi,” Scott says. “What neck thing?”

Stiles makes a pinching motion with his fingers just as Allison gestures towards the house. “Oh, right. Sorry. Come in? Want lunch? Are there demons in the woods? I was going out there anyway.”

“Stiles,” Allison interrupts. “Scott told me you slept?”

Stiles nods. He isn’t quite sure why she isn’t saying this like it deserves a celebration, because it’s sleep. It deserves a huge celebration.

“Alone?” she asks.

“I thought we agreed to get me out of earshot before you asked him that,” Scott says, practically whining.

“Out of earshot is Michigan for you, honey,” Allison says. “Stiles?”

“Yes, alone.” Stiles lets himself be herded back inside. “What kind of sleep would I be getting with company? I mean, yeah, Derek sort of helped with the whole knocking me out--totally uncalled for, by the way--thing. Hey, and thanks for getting me home, man.”

Scott blinks as Stiles directs that last bit at him. “For what?”

“Getting me home? After finding me passed out in the woods? You know, like a good friend? I take back everything I said about my luck stat.”

“Scott was with me all night after he dropped you off,” Allison says.

“But you still take back what you said about your luck stat, right?” Scott asks.

Stiles tries and fails to remember why he let either of them into the house.

 

Allison hooks herself up to the house wifi and asks Stiles to forward her some research before trying to nap, or something. Since a nap had been just what he wanted before they arrived, Stiles is more than willing to try. Sure, he failed once just under an hour ago, but he was Stiles. Try, try again is practically his first, middle, and last names and holing up in his room would be one way of keeping him away from those looks.

Scott keeps looking at him like he’s torn between sympathy and confusion. Allison stares as though he’s someone she would truly like to help, which is great, and something she would very much like to observe, which is considerably less flattering. They’re both keeping things from him, but he doesn’t push it because he’s fairly certain it’s about werewolves and he doesn’t want to know.

Well, according to his research, he’s literally dying to know. He loiters around on the stairs long enough to hear Allison tell Scott, “Even if he was knocked out, he shouldn’t have been able to sleep that long without his mate in the room.”

“Or around it, right?” Scott says. “I spent a few nights on your roof.”

“Right. The compulsion to complete the bond would be like a jump start to the system. He’d be restless, and--why are you looking at me like that?”

“Huh? Oh, it’s nothing. You just sound really smart.”

There’s a pause that Stiles does not want to think about before Allison says, “Stiles is going to cry if we defile his couch.”

Stiles drops his jaw in a silent gasp. He would not cry. (He would cry.)

“Look,” she continues. “There’s not much to go off of here, but none of this suggests that he would have been able to sleep. Can you just--ask him? What we talked about?”

“Ask him if he’s lying?” Scott sounds offended by the mere thought of it.

“The other specific thing we talked about?”

After another pause, Stiles has to strain and lean forward to hear Scott say, “I am not going to ask him if he had sex with Derek!”

Consummated with Derek,” Allison says, just as quietly. “We agreed on consummated.”

Stiles books it out of there and piles every single pillow in his life on top of his head. He’s heard quite enough.

 

The nap is a bust. This surprises no one. What surprises literally every single person in the know are the several long nights of good, peaceful sleep that Stiles manages to get after the Day of Two Failed Naps. He sleeps so well that he even dreams like he used to, about anything from showing up to a midterm without a pencil to giving Peter Hale a different answer in that parking garage years ago to pressing his mouth to the line of Derek’s spine and--.

Anyway.

After the seventh consecutive night of going right out like a light as soon as he hits the sheets at midnight and staying right out until morning, Stiles is pretty sure Allison made some sort of mistake. Even those ridiculous symptoms of that thing he refuses to think of as second puberty were disappearing.

“Maybe it really was just insomnia,” Stiles says over a Wii Bowling (the local bowling alley had banned them two years ago after Jackson and Scott discretely wolfed out, took up two lanes, and threw strikes for hours on end) session over at her place. “Boring human, medical, and non-supernatural insomnia.”

“What about the second--uh, secondary side effects?” Scott asks.

Stiles pulls a face at him. “I don’t know, stress? You’d probably regress to the most awkward period of your teenage years, too, if you didn’t sleep for five days. It’s not like there’s any other explanation.”

Allison looks up from texting Lydia (who is somehow getting a signal in the mountains or valleys or wherever she’s gone vacationing with Jackson now) to frown at the both of them. “Maybe.”

Stiles waits for her to continue and groans when she doesn’t. “Could you be more cryptic?”

“I’m just saying--.” She stops saying. “Don’t you want to know what you got up to in the woods that you can’t remember, anyway? You mentioned Derek being pretty upset.”

Which isn’t a very smooth change of subject, but Stiles’ll take it. He isn’t ever very keen on mate talk, after all. “I’m pretty sure we’re all better off not knowing. I probably just peed on a tree Derek thought was his or something.”

“Maybe,” Allison says again.

And, alright, maybe Stiles had his doubts as well. He had felt too down for too long for there not to be a wolf-related reason. He had been restless through the exhaustion, just as Allison said she’d been with Scott. Maybe he did have a mate problem, then, but it had clearly resolved itself by now. There’s probably some sort of expiration date on incomplete bonds.

“There’s no expiration dates on incomplete bonds,” Allison says to let him know he’d been thinking out loud. “They don’t just go away.”

“Well, this one did,” Stiles says. “And, hey, I’m not complaining.”

(He’s maybe complaining a little bit. The longest relationship he’s had to date is a second date with a girl from his American Politics class whose name he can’t quite remember. Having a mate might have been--a sort of nice that Stiles refuses to let himself dwell on.)

Allison seems down to let it go as her phone lights up with a new text. Scott confirms, then reconfirms, that her father (who only carries a gun around Scott about half of the time now) is out of town before slinking upstairs with her. Stiles settles into the guest bedroom with the amazing bed and doesn’t sleep for even half a second.

 

Surrounded by werewolves with questionable self-restraint, Stiles has had a lot of time over the past few years to think about what being mauled might feel like. Even his worst nightmares couldn’t compare to the way he feels when he opens his eyes the next morning.

Stiles feels wrecked. The bone-ache from before is back, stronger, and he can’t lift an arm without hurting all over. When he rolls over to swing his legs out, he only succeeds in rolling himself onto the floor with a thud.

“Withdrawal,” Allison says when she comes running with Scott.

Stiles stays down with his cheek pressed to the floor and mumbles a, “What?”

“I thought this might happen.” Allison stoops down to help Scott help him up. “You were probably able to sleep before because your mate was nearby. Outside, maybe, like how Scott stayed with me until we were ready to complete the bond. Your mate probably couldn’t find you last night with Dad’s security up around this place. Are you okay?”

Stiles grumbles incoherently.

“Do you want me to call him and let him know where you are?” Scott asks. “Not Allison’s dad, I mean. Derek.”

“Why are we assuming it’s Derek?” Stiles says. He wants to shout, at least a little, but his voice comes out hoarse and sounds tired like the rest of him. “Why were we always assuming it’s Derek? I mean, just because Isaac’s still out of town doing summer classes to graduate early and Erica and Boyd are with each other doesn’t mean it has to be Derek. There are lone wolves in the woods we don’t know about. Probably. Right?”

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Allison giving him her most sympathetic look. “Possibly?”

Stiles nods. Derek is hands down his first choice in the Nice Ass, Would Mate category of life, but also top of the Out of Stiles’s League charts. (Stiles is fairly certain that his league is expanding because, hey, he’s easy on the eyes and pretty damn funny. It’s not expanding that far, though.) There has to be another explanation, another werewolf out there, and Stiles will find it/them because he refuses to be that guy that accidentally conned Derek Hale into some sort of mating ceremony while drunk.

 

After pumping Stiles up with enough water and vitamin C to get him back on his feet, Allison and Scott drop him off at home. Scott is worried about leaving him alone, but Stiles knows he’s been planning a romantic whatever for today since finals’ week. Stiles could really do with some alone time, anyway. He has a mate to confront.

He doesn’t even make it to his Bat Cave (read: bedroom) before he’s stopped by a hand in the back of his shirt. His yelp goes either unnoticed or pointedly ignored as his dad drags him into the kitchen and sits him down at the table in the We Need to Talk seat.

“I tried ignoring it,” his dad says before Stiles has all, or even just a handful, of his bearings and wits back about him. “I said, John, your kid’s eighteen--.”

“Nineteen,” Stiles says, though he’s fairly sure this isn’t the point.

His dad frowns. “Nineteen. He can make his own decisions, you can respect his privacy, and, heck, Hale hasn’t even been accused of murder in a few years.”

He pauses, then, like he expects Stiles to say something--to confess something. Stiles stares. “Hale? As in--what?”

“Derek Hale, Stiles!” His dad sinks down into the chair opposite Stiles and rubs a hand over his eyes, looking his age for a split second. “You think I don’t notice his car just because he parks around the corner? Every night this week, Stiles. I get what it feels like to be apart for so long, I do, but could you be just a little more discrete? And Hale, Stiles? It had to be him of all--no, forget about that. I’ve--I’m making my peace with that. But the secrets. Were you even at the Argents’ last night? I called Chris, but he’s out of town. Stiles, just--what have I done to make you think you can’t talk to me about this?”

Stiles keeps staring, hearing the words but not quite making sense of them.

“I haven’t even arrested him recently,” his dad continues. “Don’t think I haven’t been tempted, but--.”

“Okay,” Stiles says, finally, because he is still his father’s son and members of this family can only stay speechless for so long before having their membership to said family revoked. “Okay, uh--I think there’s been a misunderstanding.”

“You say his name in your sleep,” his dad says. “At least I hope that’s sleeptalk I’ve been hearing.”

Stiles goes right back to the staring.

“All I’m saying is I’d like to meet him with the safety of my gun on for once. Is that too much for a concerned dad to ask?”

“Is it too much to hope for you to meet him without your gun on you at all?” Stiles asks. He isn’t aware how completely unconducive to convincing his dad that he’s gotten the wrong impression here those words are until they’re out there.

His dad, for a reason Stiles can only think to call insanity, actually cracks a smile. “Let’s work on the safety thing first. Then we’ll talk about losing the gun.”

 

Stiles has never been a huge fan of the snowball effect. He prefers to let the little hints that something unsavory is up fly right by him. Blissful ignorance is blissful, after all. But these hints insist on flying right in his face, and sometimes even into his eye or mouth like those stupid summer bugs with no sense of self-preservation. These hints pile up, snowball, into one big it’s really time to do something about this moment.

And Stiles has never been a huge fan of being proactive out of necessity, either, but his dad is looking as tired as he feels and Scott is overcoming his desperate want to not know anything about his mating habits to ask after him and even Allison has been taking chunks out of her summer to help him with his definitely supernatural problem.

His definitely supernatural and most probably Derek-related problem.

To his credit, Stiles does spend half of the afternoon trying to explain it away.

It couldn’t be Derek, he tells himself, because Derek said, “You didn’t,” in a way that suggested, “You weren’t here the night of Lydia’s party.” Though, in retrospect, context suggests Derek meant, “You didn’t annargh.”

Stiles tries again.

It couldn’t be Derek, he tells himself, because Derek would probably sooner rip his own neck out with his own teeth than mate with a lowly human who didn’t even have an impressive set of knockers. (Stiles has to disregard that one quickly because it is unkind to literally everyone he knows.)

Stiles tries again.

It couldn’t be Derek, he tells himself, because Derek was still hung up over his past with Kate Argent and probably in no mood to mate with anyone full stop. Though, Stiles did stage that pack plus Scott intervention two years ago (after all the territory wars blew over) to talk Derek into seeing a totally awesome and qualified werewolf shrink who had been damn near impossible to find and it might have been effective.

Stiles tries again, and again, and again.

Finally, Stiles sets an alarm for three in the morning and sticks his phone under his pillow to make sure he’ll hear it. It’s summer break, glorious summer break, and he isn’t about to spend it not getting to the bottom of this.

 

After spending the rest of the night rehearsing a variety of reactions to the various things he might wake up to, Stiles ends up jerking upright in bed at exactly three in the morning and saying, “Ahah!”

He hadn’t actually expected to catch Derek in his room, so he’s as surprised as Derek seems to be when his aim is dead on and on his accusatory finger is pointed straight at Derek’s chest.

Derek, who’s sitting at Stiles’s desk looking like a caged animal with his eyes flashing alpha red. Derek, who jumped a little like the alarm had woken him up, too, from sleeping at Stiles’s desk.

Before anything, Stiles allows himself a minute or three or ten to quietly freak out. It’s Derek. He totally started something supernatural and possibly romantic with Derek. While drunk. Drunk. Maybe this isn’t a complete shocker or any sort of shocker, but that doesn’t help Stiles figure out the how. Allison made this sound like some sort of consensual, two-way, reciprocated emotions thing, but clearly that doesn’t apply in this situation. Clearly Stiles had done something untoward and clearly Derek was sitting there weighing the pros and cons of off-ing Stiles to get back to regular sleep in his regular den.

Or something?

“Wow,” Stiles says. “So that was kind of the end of my plans for this scenario, actually. We’re so off-script now.”

The red of Derek’s eyes disappear and Stiles is barely able to make out the form of him as he gets up, moving towards the window.

“Wait!” Stiles throws his covers off and stumbles to his feet, stunned for a second at the complete lack of aching bones and other pains in his body.

Derek doesn’t pause for even half a second, though, and Stiles doesn’t take the time to think before lying, “My dad knows you’re here and he said he’ll shoot you if you leave.”

His dad said no such thing and isn’t, in fact, even in the house. Stiles is pretty sure Derek knows both these things, but it somehow still gets him to stop in the window with one leg over the ledge.

“What,” Derek says after a moment.

Stiles realizes he’d been staring and rubs at his eyes as he sits back down on his bed. Words, Stilinski. Words.

“I honestly think I should get to what you, man. You’re in my room. And if Allison and my dad and the internet are to be trusted, you’ve been in my room all week. And--and mates? You could have said something?”

Derek flinches, swaying in the window like it’s taking every bit of his willpower to keep from hopping right out and never looking back. “It doesn’t concern you.”

Stiles is suddenly very glad his dad isn’t in the house, because his voice cracks and goes a bit shrill for a boy when he says, “It doesn’t concern me? How the hell do you figure that?”

“I was handling it,” he says.

He was handling it, he says. Stiles feels his shoulders sag. “I was freaking out because I couldn’t sleep for five days and you were handling it?”

Derek flinches again and, if the past five minutes hadn’t proven it, there was no denying any longer that this thing was definitely a Thing--mates, bonds, even second puberty--because all Stiles wants to do is hug Derek until he stops looking so cold in June.

“I thought it was only affecting me,” Derek says. He moves back inside when Stiles gets up to shut the window, maybe out of guilt and maybe out of the same gut-wrenching necessity to be close that Stiles is suddenly hit with. “I didn’t know.”

“You didn’t know,” Stiles repeats without animosity. (Don’t get him wrong, he tries for animosity. It just doesn’t come.) “You’re a werewolf. You’ve been a werewolf for, I don’t know, a pretty long time? How could you not know?”

“There’s not much precedence for this kind of thing,” he says, his shoulders jerking up in the aborted motion of an almost-shrug. “Werewolves don’t normally wait to complete their bonds once they find their mate.”

Stiles opens and closes his mouth a few times, and when the right words don’t come, he just says the first thing that comes to mind. “But you did. You waited.”

Derek does shrug, then.

“Because you wanted this whole thing to just fizzle and die out, right?” Stiles says.

Derek’s eyes seem to flash red again, but it only lasts until he blinks it away. “Wasn’t that your plan, too?”

“That’s not fair,” Stiles says, even though that kind of was his whole plan. “I didn’t know at first. I still don’t even know how any of this happened!”

The words are still in the process of spilling out of his mouth when Derek lifts a hand, pressing his palm to the back of Stiles’s neck. Stiles expects another ninja pinch to put him out, but as a familiar flare of heat goes up under his skin at the touch, the fact that there was never a ninja pinch becomes excruciatingly clear.

All Derek had done a week ago was touch him, and Stiles had literally fainted.

It isn’t the only (completely humiliating) fact that becomes excruciatingly clear with every passing second of Derek’s hand against his skin.

Stiles sees himself teetering down the trail in the woods, away from Danny’s car, and pounding on the door of the Hale house. A jumble of words he still can’t decipher even as the memories come back to him is spilling out of his mouth, only stopping when the sound of the Camaro pulling up behind him drags his attention away from the door.

“Stiles,” Derek is saying in the memory as he gets out of his car, and maybe also in the present as he shakes Stiles by the shoulders.

He’d said something loud and angry, then louder and happy, as Derek stared. Stiles thinks he remembers words like should and want and maybe, just maybe, he hears love. He definitely remembers, now, curling his fingers in Derek’s jacket and pushing him twice before dragging him forward (though he’s pretty fucking immovable, he’s Derek Hale, so Stiles also remembers stretching up himself) to slant their mouths together in a drunk-sloppy kiss that is truly atrocious.

It didn’t seem to matter, though, because Derek was moving and walking him back, one step two, until his thighs hit the hood of the Camaro. Derek was fitting their mouths together better and hotter and meltier.

Something that felt a lot like ignition hit home in Stiles’s chest, but then Derek was pulling back, fangs out and eyes red.

Back in the now of his own room, with Derek’s hand warm and borderline tentative against the back of his neck, Stiles goes wide-eyed and slack-jawed.

“You kissed me back! I didn’t con you into anything!” he says. “I was just stupid drunk!”

Derek drops his hand and does this thing with his eyebrows that conveys so much skepticism and confusion all that once that Stiles has to wonder if it’s a superpower that comes from being the alpha. “I never accused you of that.”

“You--implied it,” Stiles says. “With the brooding and--maybe the brooding’s just you, but--the throwing me out of your house and the quote-unquote dealing with it without talking to me like I did something wrong--.”

Derek, not for lack of a better term but for the fact that it’s the perfect term, broods. Possibly even shamefully.

“--when all I did was tell you I love you!”

Derek looks up, his jaw set the way Stiles dreams about sometimes. “No.”

It knocks the air right out of Stiles’s chest. He hears his voice waver when he says, “No?”

“No,” Derek repeats with a shake of his head.

“So--what I actually said was--.”

“You love my teeth,” Derek says with a flash of said teeth as he grimaces.

Stiles does love his teeth. He loves Derek, too, and he’s disappointed in drunk Stiles’s priorities when it comes to these things. He can sense that he’s about to run his mouth and say this very thing, so he quickly rushes to force something else, something completely un-thought-out, out through his lips: “Your werewolf genes considered that a romantic overture fitting of a mate?”

“No, Stiles,” Derek says, some of his usual exasperation sneaking back into his tone. “I’m pretty sure that was the bit after you stopped talking.”

Stiles could have guessed that. Stiles could have guessed a good many things about himself, about this conversation, about the cosmos.

And just about anyone could have guessed that the next words out of his mouth would be, “I don’t think I know what you’re talking about so maybe you could show me,” because Stiles, much like stupid bugs that fly into people’s mouths, has no sense of self-preservation. Because there’s a crazy thrill in his stomach at the thought of Derek wanting this and wanting him and kissing him back that makes him want to take risks without waiting to confirm these new theories of his.

Derek looks so suddenly peeved, but not truly angry, that Stiles almost laughs (self-preservation has yet to make an appearance, still). “This is serious, Stiles.”

And Stiles just looks at him, just lets himself stare for a while. There’s tension under Derek’s skin, more than what’s usually there. It looks a lot like restraint, restraint that’s cracking, and the thrill in Stiles’s stomach does a little jig when it catches Derek’s eyes on his mouth for half a second.

Because holy shit, Derek.

“I know it is,” Stiles says, as evenly as he can manage. “And I’m pretty sure you had your tongue in my mouth after I put mine in yours so that kind of suggests to me this whole thing is seriously mutual? Plus, you drove me home. Twice! I mean, that and the mates thing. Which I hear is necessarily consensual. Which I thought just somehow didn’t apply here, but it totally does, because you totally love me, and I think maybe you somehow got it into your head that I don’t love you when I’m sober, but that’s just not true, so you’re going to kiss me right now before I even finish this sentence because--.”

Derek makes this sound that Stiles identifies as a bit of annoyance, a bit of frustration, and a ton of fondness before he pulls Stiles in and bites a bruising kiss into his lips. There’s nothing sloppy about it. It’s measured, but not restrained, and it’s hotter than anything Stiles remembers from his newly returned memories. It’s the press of teeth to his bottom lip and the slick pressure of Derek licking into his mouth, and Stiles twists his fingers in Derek’s hair because it’s there and he doesn’t remember doing it the first time.

Then Derek’s making another sound, a deeper sound, as they tip backwards into Stiles’s bed with their limbs tangled together. Stiles presses his mouth to that jaw of dreams and Derek breathes him in, or maybe just breathes.

“Are you sure about this?” Derek asks, voice hoarse.

Stiles nods and latches on. “Oh, yeah. Yep, definitely. You’re not getting rid of me now. I read that this is permanent once we make it official.”

“And you want to--.” Derek pushes himself up despite Stiles’s drawn-out sound of complaint. “You want to?”

Stiles nods again, quicker than before. “Duh. But not now. You’ve been sleeping in that chair for a week and you need sleep in a proper bed. I am going to be a total saint and disprove every stereotype about hormonal teenagers--.”

“You are a hormonal teenager,” Derek says.

“Yes, but only for a few more months, and I’m not a stereotypical hormonal teenager, so I’m going to set an alarm for morning and we’re going to make things super official and super permanent then. Repeatedly, maybe.”

Derek settles down again after a second, clearly too impressed with Stiles’s organizational skills to argue if that fond little grin on his face (the one with almost no trace of confusion left in it) is anything to go by. Stiles grabs his phone and sets a new alarm named CONSUMMATION!!! and, for good measure, sends out a mass text to all his contacts saying just that.

 

Later, Stiles discovers that he really, really loves Derek’s teeth and the many, many things Derek is capable of doing with his teeth.