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Stiles has hooks screwed into his headboard and a whole box full of toys, but when he leads Derek into his bedroom and shuts the door behind them, all he can think is that other people have touched all of those things and he doesn’t want them to touch Derek. Even if this is just for tonight, even if he never speaks to this man again—he doesn't want them to touch Derek.

“What’s your safeword?” Stiles asks.

“But we’re not—” Derek starts, and stops. He shifts his feet.

“Safeword,” Stiles says. “Tell me, Derek.”

“Camaro.”

“Good boy,” Stiles praises, and kisses him. “Mine’s urinal cake.”

Derek snorts.

Stiles grins. “Sexy, isn’t it?”

Derek rolls his eyes.

Stiles kisses him again, pushing him back, back, back until they hit the bed, and Derek hits the mattress beautifully. Fucking beautifully. Stiles is so glad that this is his green sheets week and not his Batman sheets week.

He pushes his suspenders down, yanks off his bowtie, and crawls on top of Derek. He can’t believe that this is happening. The list of things he wants to do to this man is at least seven miles long and still growing, but right now it’s all he can do to be here, now, in the moment, with Derek’s body beneath him.

He wonders if he’s less sober than he thought he was. He feels crazed. He feels right.

Derek’s fingers start to unbutton Stiles’ dress shirt, but Stiles pulls the hands away, bending down to capture Derek’s mouth in an open-mouthed, filthy kiss. He grinds his hips down, hands sliding under Derek’s t-shirt. Muscle ripples under his fingers. Stiles bites down on Derek’s bottom lip and feels Derek’s body shudder against his; he’s almost dizzyingly hard.

He pulls back, intent on getting Derek’s shirt off, but then Derek’s eyes open and they’re brilliant, electric blue.

Oh, fuck.

“A werewolf? Seriously?”

Mate,” Derek growls.

“Excuse me?” Stiles says.

“I—you—” Derek stares at him, eyes still Beta-bright. There are claws just barely pricking Stiles’ skin. “I’m a werewolf.”

“No shit,” Stiles says.

“You’re my mate,” Derek adds.

“Uh-huh,” Stiles says. “Like… soul mate?”

Derek nods.

“Wait, do all werewolves have mates?” Stiles asks, his brain instantly snapping to Allison and Scott. “What about bitten werewolves? What if you’re already dating someone, do they automatically become their mate? See, I have this friend, and he got bitten, and he just got married to his girlfriend like eight hours ago and if anyone’s soul mates here it’s definitely them.”

Derek is frowning. “They have mates. I don’t know. You’re mine, though. You’re my mate and I’m yours. We’re. We’re supposed to be.”

“Scott didn’t say anything about some big soul mate realization when he got the bite…” Stiles mutters. “Maybe this is like the knot thing, where he was all weird and embarrassed about it? Like, dude, it’s just a penis.”

“Stiles,” Derek says.

Stiles sighs and stares down at the beautiful man that he was going to sex into oblivion, like, two minutes ago. His one night stand turned werewolf soul mate. “Okay. So, why don’t you go into the kitchen and use your magical werewolf senses to hunt down the Cap’n Crunch. I’m gonna put on some comfy clothes—oh, do you want comfy clothes, too? I might have some stuff that fits you.”

“Sure,” Derek agrees after a beat, as Stiles crawls off of him and heads for the light switch.

Stiles digs out his break-up hoodie—a large, soft blue piece of perfection that he’d liberated from Danny senior year of high school—for Derek. It’s been three months since he last wore it, so hopefully his scent isn’t very strong. Or maybe since Derek’s his mate or whatever, Derek wants something that does smell like him?

“Here,” Stiles says, tossing it.

Derek catches it, subtly sniffs it (not subtly enough, though) and slides it over his head before leaving the bedroom.

Stiles is sliding on a pair of fuzzy socks when Derek calls out, “You want Crunch Berries or Peanut Butter Crunch?”

Decisions, decisions.

“Crunch Berries,” Stiles decides, eventually, coming out into the kitchen. “Did you—oh, cool, you found the bowls, too. And the spoons. We are eating classy midnight snacks, tonight!”

Derek stares at him, one eyebrow cocked.

“I’m sober now,” Stiles says. “Don’t look at me like that.”

“I thought they didn’t serve alcohol at Five Lashes?” Derek says with a frown, as he pours cereal into a bowl and then sets it opposite himself.

It’s for Stiles. He’s serving Stiles first. Okay.

“They don’t have alcohol,” Stiles tells Derek as he takes his bowl, “but there was an open bar at Scott’s wedding. The single life is rough.”

Derek nods and pours himself a bowl of Peanut Butter Crunch.

Stiles brings the boxes of cereal into the living room with them. They’re going to be there a while.

 

 

Derek never really thought he’d meet his mate. He hadn’t even been sure he wanted to meet his mate.

But now there’s Stiles.

Derek answers all of his questions about mates as best he can and then introduces Stiles to the small but active group on FetLife that is actually comprised of werewolves, to answer Stiles’ questions on supernatural BDSM practices. He can literally see Stiles’ fingers twitching as his eyes flick down the list of threads. Derek leaves him to it.

Intellectually, Stiles is still an acquaintance, but as far as his wolf is concerned, Stiles is home and pack and a little bit Alpha. The cognitive dissonance is dizzying.

Derek calls Laura from the hallway outside Stiles’ apartment.

“Whazzat?” Laura mumbles into her phone, because it’s five in the morning and a Saturday.

“I met my mate,” Derek says.

“What, now?” Laura groans.

“Laura,” Derek says through gritted teeth.

Laura yawns. “What’d you do, maul them to death?”

“No!” Derek says, horrified. “What the hell, Laura?”

“Shut up. Are they human? Did you accidentally wolf out and scare them off?” 

“He already—yes, he’s human, but he already knew about werewolves.”

“You wolfed out, didn’t you,” Laura sighs.

“He already knew,” Derek hisses.

“Okay, okay, crankypants. So why are you calling?”

“I—” Derek comes up short.

“Derek.”

“Can I come over, after this?” Derek blurts out.

Laura sighs. “Cuddle time?” she asks, her voice somewhere between wry and fond, now.

“Yes,” Derek says quietly. “Please.”

Cuddle time means that Laura will hold him, feed him breakfast, and let him put his head in her lap while she catches up on her TiVo’d football games. It sounds like heaven after tonight.

“Yeah, sure,” Laura tells him. “Come over whenever. I’ll probably still be asleep.”

“Thanks,” Derek says.

“Yep,” Laura says, and hangs up.

Derek exhales, puts his phone into his pocket, and squares his shoulders before he heads back inside.

 

 

After the morning in which Stiles’ werewolf soul mate runs away from him with some weak bullshit about his Alpha requesting his presence at freaking five in the morning (seriously, Derek, learn how to tell a lie), things get better.

Stiles has a nasty suspicion that Derek’s introduction to the world of BDSM was very different than his own—Lydia carefully doling out bits and pieces, ruling his education with an iron fist, constantly using terms like ‘sex positive’ and ‘kink shaming’. He can see a younger Derek seeking out scene without doing anything more than some cursory research, headstrong and impatient and arrogant. But eventually, they do talk.

Derek does not want a 24/7 arrangement. Thank God.

Stiles can kind of see it, now. The soul mates thing. He hopes he’s not just some kind of Baader-Meinhof thing, seeing what he wants to see with the looming knowledge of SOUL MATES over his shoulder at all times—but seriously, he and Derek are really well-matched. Even their kinks mostly line up. It makes Stiles… suspicious.

“So, if you think about it,” he says one day, when their lunch date has hit a lull, “our being soul mates is really just a fluke, right?”

Derek looks up from his pad thai. “No.”

“No, listen, so, our personalities are supposed to match up perfectly, right? But we aren’t just born with personalities. We grow and change and we make a billion decisions every day that affect who we become. String theory. There are infinite universes, and in every one of those, there is a different version of us. But it’s only in this universe that we met at the time when our personalities and kinks and lifestyles matched up perfectly to make us soul mates. In another universe, maybe you had a different second grade teacher, and which slightly altered your personality, and now your soul mate over there is Earl Humperdink down the road.”

Derek has that frown on his face, the You’re Being Too Scientific Frown. Most commonly, he gives it to Stiles whenever Stiles will systematically deconstruct everything technically wrong about a movie instead of just enjoying it. He’d gotten that frown for a solid two hours after they went to see Gravity last week.

“Also, the whole theory of soul mates is extremely fatalistic and depressing, when you really think about the implications for free will,” Stiles adds, because he really can’t help himself.

“That’s not—you’re thinking about it wrong,” Derek says.

“How?” Stiles asks.

"Mates are… We’re not meant to be together. We can still find and love other people. It’s just that if we do happen to meet and fall in love, there’s something more that comes of it.”

Stiles considers that.

“They’re outside of string theory,” Derek says. “You can’t think about it like that. If there are infinite universes, then it’s not that in each universe, we have a different mate because we’re different people. Mate means in every universe, no matter how different we are, we will always be different in ways to complement each other. We’re two halves of something whole, no matter how we’re divided.”

Stiles swallows.

He wonders if there’s a universe out there where Derek is the pragmatic one and Stiles is the romantic one. He feels sorry for that Stiles. He loves it when Derek comes out of nowhere with things like this—stupid, sappy, matter-of-fact things that make Stiles want to take him home and tie him up and hurt him so, so sweetly.

 

 

Two months into their relationship, Derek breaks his arm.

This is how Stiles finds out that being soul mates means that they actually have some freaky supernatural bond that allows them to share pain.

 

 

“You couldn’t have mentioned this earlier?” Stiles demands, glaring at Laura over Derek, who’s sitting between them on the couch, squishing a melted ice bag.

“It’s not a big deal,” Laura says with a shrug. “It doesn’t happen for minor injuries, only when the pain reaches a certain threshold.”

Demonstratively, she pinches Derek’s arm.

“Ow,” Derek complains.

“Sissy,” Laura retorts.

"This is literally the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of,” Stiles breaks in, no less irate. “Why is this a thing? Why would I want to feel Derek’s pain? In what universe does that seem like a practical thing to throw into a mate bond?”

“It halves the pain. It works both ways, too, so if you get hurt Derek will be able to help you, too,” Laura says. She looks honestly baffled by Stiles’ reaction.

Stiles blows out a frustrated breath. “Well, okay, but say that Derek’s having his arm sawn off. I’ll be too busy rolling around on the floor in agony to stop the dude from finishing the job. Even cut in half, that pain’s going to leave both of us non-functional. Or—or what if I had been driving when Derek broke his arm? I could have crashed the car and died.”

“Stiles, this is a sacred bond o—”

“Does it not work between mates?” Stiles asks desperately. “Like, if someone else hurts Derek, I’ll feel it, but if I’m the one to hurt him, I won’t?”

Laura frowns. “No, you should still feel it if you hurt Derek.”

Stiles pinches Derek.

“Ow!” Derek complains.

Stiles pinches him again, for good measure, because he hadn’t felt a thing on his end.

“Stiles!”

“You have to reach the threshold, remember?” Laura says, exasperated. “Pinching won’t do it. Look, what does it matter? The chances that either of you are going to get hurt are pretty minimal—”

“But, if I’m Derek’s mate, I should be able to hurt him. That’s not—”

Why are you so preoccupied with hurting Derek?” Laura demands. “You should…” Realization dawns on her face. “Oh.”

“Yeah,” Stiles snaps.

“Oh,” Laura says again.

Derek slumps miserably back into the couch.

 

 

At three months, they’ve worked up to some pain and impact play. They have yet to hit their pain-share threshold in a scene, but Stiles gets the feeling that they’re right on the edge of it.

The nipple clamps are something that Stiles didn’t have to replace for Derek when he’d outfitted his stash with werewolf-grade equipment, something he’d used on his last boyfriend months and months ago, so he’d had reservations about using them on Derek, at first. But when he’d attached the little metal clips for the first time and watched the clench of the jaw, saw the muscles of the arms flex as bound hands clenched, and beneath the blindfold the eyes squeezing shut against the bite of pain—he only saw Derek. And it was okay.

The clamps are silver with black latex tips that securely grip each dusky pink nub, with a little silver screw on the side of each clamp to control the tension, and a simple silver chain connecting them. It sways back and forth, now, as Derek breathes through the first bite of the clamps, and a thrill chases down Stiles’ spine at the thought of what’s to come.

He presses a kiss to Derek’s lips, because seeing Derek on his knees, naked and bound and helpless just for him, is the best thing in the world, and goes to set the timer on his phone.

Derek’s breathing quickly evens out as he adjusts to the bite, as the pain goes dull, and the chain sways ever so slightly as his chest expands and contracts. The leather binding his wrists behind his back creaks quietly in the silence of the room.

Five minutes pass slowly.

When Stiles finally moves toward Derek, Derek’s breathing stutters and his cock jumps, growing harder. With the blindfold on, his other senses are on high alert.

“That was easy for you, wasn’t it?” Stiles asks quietly.

Derek doesn’t answer.

Stiles tugs on the chain, and Derek jerks.

“You can’t wait for me to tighten them,” Stiles says, fingering the left clamp, watching the clench and unclench of Derek’s abs as he does. “You can’t wait for them to bite down on your nipples, pinching so hard you won’t be able to breathe for a few moments, and then burn until I decide to make them even tighter. Maybe one day we’ll even use my clover clamps. There’s no latex coat on those. They’d dig their sharp little teeth right into your nipples so good.”

Derek’s breathing is harsh and his cock is flushed deep purple.

Stiles puts his free hand in Derek’s hair, moving the other to Derek’s right nipple, and slowly turns the screw half a turn.

Derek hisses and tries to duck his head down, but Stiles has him by the hair and yanks his head straight.

He moves to the left nipple and turns that screw halfway too, so slowly, bit by bit, millimeter by millimeter, delighting in the way that Derek grunts and jerks his head against Stiles’ grip, then draws in deep, harsh breaths. He takes pain so beautifully.

“Ohhh,” Stiles breathes, his own cock achingly hard. “Oh, that’s good, isn’t it?”

Derek’s hands are balled into fists.

“So good,” Stiles says, and unable to resist, he tugs at the chain again.

Derek snarls, and when Stiles tightens his grip on Derek’s head, he arches and keens, high and pained until Stiles swoops down and captures his mouth in a filthy kiss. His hand goes down to grab Derek’s cock and finds it dripping with precome. Stiles pushes his tongue into Derek’s mouth, claiming, making sure that Derek knows that Stiles is the one who’s doing this to him and Stiles is the only one who ever will again. Derek moans and thrusts his hips forward.  

Stiles releases him.

Derek gasps for air, thrusting forward into the air, head swinging back and forth in a desperate search for Stiles.

But no. Not yet. They can go up another half-turn on the clamps before they’re maxed out.

Stiles forces himself to step back and threads his fingers together, pressing down hard on the backs of his hands. His cock is throbbing against his briefs, aching to spring free. He loves it when he’s fully clothed and Derek is naked, knows Derek loves it too, but God does it make things uncomfortable.

Gradually, Derek’s breathing evens out, but it’s nowhere near as placid as it was before. His hands are rhythmically clenching and unclenching behind his back. Stiles can see his muscles ripple as he does it. It makes him want to lick and bite, more and more with every passing moment.

Tomorrow night, maybe he’ll truss Derek up in a beautiful shibari design and bite every section of flesh created by the ropes. Derek loves being tied up. When they’d first talked about it, Derek had said, stiltedly, quietly, “I—I like not making—choices. I like. Thinking is stressful. Sometimes. And all the ropes, they make me feel like I’m—I’m so tightly bound. Like I never have to do anything ever again. Just breathe.” So maybe they’ll do that.

But tonight. Tonight is for nipple clamps.

Stiles can see Derek tracking him right now—his breathing still at Stiles’ quickening heart beat as the end of the second five minutes approaches, his cock dribbling precome whenever Stiles’ cock gives a particularly hard throb, the way he goes still when Stiles starts to walk over to him. By the time Stiles is standing over him, Derek is nearly panting, body held tight, cock positively dripping.

Stiles traces a finger down the dip of Derek’s sternum, slow and careful, straight down until he catches the chain. He tugs.

Derek groans, shuddering.

“Ready for more?” Stiles asks.

Derek nods.

Stiles grips the screw on the left clamp, pauses, then gives it a painfully slow half-turn that makes Derek gasp. Quickly, before Derek can recover, Stiles reaches for the right one and turns that screw halfway as well, this one quick and brutal.

Derek throws his head back, mouth gaping open, body rigid with pain.

Stiles grits his teeth and does not touch his cock.

An eternity passes and then Derek exhales long and hard, head falling, body collapsing into a tremble. He pants open-mouthed. Sweat is beading on his skin, making it shine.

“Good boy,” Stiles praises, cupping Derek’s face with one hand. “That was so good, Derek.”

Derek nods against his hand, panting hard. “Tighter,” he pleads.

Stiles’ heart tugs. “No.”

“Please.”

Stiles pulls on the chain as hard as he dares, and Derek chokes.

Stiles.”

Stiles knows that he could easily go two or three more turns on the clamps, this didn’t have this fucking mate bond. He knows it. He remembers doing it with one of his exes for one long, glorious scene that had lasted almost two hours, pushing his sub to his absolute limits and watching him come undone, and God does he want to do that with Derek. He can picture it in his mind. Just a little tweak. Just—

He tugs on the chain again, grabs the right clamp and twists it ever so slightly, and Derek moans. It goes straight to his cock.

“Please,” Derek begs. “Please, more, I need it, Stiles please, it’s so good…”

Stiles can picture it. He’d put a hand on Derek’s shoulder this time, dig his thumb into the delicate skin stretched over Derek’s clavicle, let the nail press in, and when Derek shuddered he’d twist the clamp a little tighter. Derek might even whimper. Then, because they had all the time and pain in the world to play with, Stiles would loosen it a little to let some blood rush in and swell the nipple, then tighten it right back up and—

He can’t.

No.

No.

Stiles grabs both nipple clamps and pulls them off. Intense disappointment washes over him, but he fights through it. He will not ruin this scene.

Derek stills. His shoulders slump.

“You ready for it?” Stiles asks, forcing it, determined to keep things going. They can still do this. They can still make this work. He threads a hand through Derek’s hair, coming closer, until Derek’s face is inches from his crotch. “It’s gonna all come rushing in, Derek, and it’s gonna hurt so nicely.”

Derek nods, breathing out slow—then he stops. It comes on fast for him, Stiles has learned. Werewolf healing.

First, Derek’s jaw clenches. Then his whole body starts to stiffen against Stiles’ leg, his breathing getting faster as the blood rushes back into his nipples, a thick and agonizing rush as the abused vessels refill with blood. Stiles presses closer as Derek’s body gets tense, and reaches down carefully to brush one swelling nipple.

Derek jerks and gasps, beautifully, and pushes his face into Stiles’ thigh, panting into it hot and hard.

“Good boy,” Stiles says, stroking his hair. “You take it so good, Derek, so good for me.”

His hips thrust forward, hard, rubbing his cock desperately against Stiles’ leg. He’s practically humping it.

“God yes,” Stiles breathes. “You gonna come?”

Derek whimpers into the fabric, body trembling, sweating, rocking against him again. The pain is clearly building, growing, his nipples dark purple and swollen. They must be throbbing. His cock is rock hard against Stiles’ leg. Derek is pushing into him desperately, his body arching as the pain and the pleasure crescendo. He’s close. He’s so close.

“Come for me,” Stiles says, stroking his hair. “Come on. Do it. Do it, Derek, come for me.”

Derek cries into his leg and comes, his whole body stiffening. Every pulse of come is accompanied by a cry, muffled by Stiles’ thigh, and when there’s nothing left Derek slumps against him, turning his face to gasp for air.

“That’s my boy,” Stiles says, petting his hair with one hand. With the other, he undoes his jeans and pushes them down far enough to let his cock spring free. “Come on. Almost done. Suck me off, now. You were so good, it won’t take very long.”

Derek nods tiredly, mouth opening obediently.

Stiles slides his cock in carefully, only a few inches, and tightens his grip on Derek’s hair. “Go on.”

Derek closes his lips a little, moves his tongue a bit, and gets a rhythm going after a few seconds. His body is already recovering. By the time Stiles climaxes, Derek easily swallows it down.

Stiles fights another wave of disappointment.

“Sorry,” Derek mumbles.

“No!” Stiles says, falling to his knees. “No, no, you were perfect, Derek. You were so good.”

Derek doesn’t answer.

"You were perfect,” Stiles insists, pressing a kiss to his lips, before he starts undoing the cuffs that bind Derek’s hands. “Absolutely perfect. Let’s get you into the shower, now, have something to drink, and then we can snuggle up together in bed. You can be the big spoon.”

“M’always the big spoon,” Derek says.

“You like it that way,” Stiles reminds him. “Makes you feel all manly and tough.”

Derek smiles. Finally.

 

 

Stiles consults with Scott first, because… well, it’s Scott. Scott is his bro.

He waits until they’re in the car, driving to the movie theater. They’re alone, because Derek hates movie theaters and Allison was guilted into attending some dreadful Tastefully Simple party. It’s perfect timing.

“So, bro,” Stiles starts.

“Oh, God,” Scott says.

Stiles smacks him on the arm. “Shut up. I need to ask you something. Because you are my bro, and also, a werewolf.”

“True Alpha,” Scott reminds him, grinning dopily.

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, we know. So. Listen. You know how Derek and I are soul mates and all that jazz?”

“Yeah,” Scott says warily.

“And you know how we have that stupid magical mate bond that lets us—for some ungodly, incredibly moronic reason—feel each other’s pain?”

"It shares the pain,” Scott explains, like Stiles doesn’t know that. “It’s really nice. Allison loves it. She, uh, has really bad, you know. Cramps. She used to take medicine for them.”

Stiles blinks. “Oh my God. You get her menstrual cramps?”

“I share her pain!” Scott protests. “It’s a beautiful expression of love and devotion, Stiles.”

“It’s not an expression of love if you don’t actually have a choice about it,” Stiles snipes.

Scott sighs. “Well, what about it?”

“Right. Well. You know how Derek and I also… engage in alternative sex practices?”

“Ye—” Scott stops. “Oh. Oh, shit, dude. How does that even work?”

“It doesn’t,” Stiles answers glumly. “I was hoping you would know something that could help.”

Scott’s eyes widen. “I—dude. What. Why would I know anything about that?”

Stiles shrugs. “You’re my bro. And a werewolf. A bonafide True Alpha.”

"Sorry, dude,” Scott says, shaking his head. “Not a clue. Maybe you should ask Allison’s dad? He knows more about werewolves than Deaton does, I think. It’s crazy.”

“Yeah, I’d like to never, ever talk to Chris Argent about my sex life, thanks,” Stiles says.

Scott doesn’t reply.

Stiles slumps back in his seat, sighing.

“This is really bad, huh?” Scott says sympathetically.

“Yeah,” Stiles says.

“I’m sure you’ll figure something out,” Scott tells him encouragingly. “You’re a great Dom.”

Stiles smiles slightly. “Thanks, man. You were the best sub I ever had.”

Scott rolls his eyes. “Yeah, only because I was five and didn’t realize that Good Boy/Bad Boy wasn’t a normal game for kids to play.”

“Good Boy/Bad Boy was the best game!” Stiles says. “Dude, don’t even front. I was there. You liked it.”

“Dude, you are so lucky your parents didn’t think you were a child psychopath,” Scott says.

“Oh, totally,” Stiles agrees easily. “Remember when we were like six and I asked for a length of nylon rope for Christmas?”

“Yeah, that was nice,” Scott says, nodding. “I used to get the worst rope burns when you had to use that old hammock string instead.”

Yeah. Scott is his bro.

 

 

Since he and Derek began dating, Sundays have become Stiles’ least favorite day of the week. See, Laura is really into sports. And parties. So every Sunday that her team has a home game, everyone Laura knows, including and especially her baby brother, traverses down to the stadium parking lot at some ungodly hour of the morning to freeze their asses off at a tailgate party.

Stiles likes these tailgate parties for exactly two reasons:

  1. He gets to snuggle up to Derek to keep warm
  2. Free food

The people are nice, but they’re a little too old to really be Stiles’ crowd. Most of them have babies, or are in the process of having babies, and they talk a lot about school districts and the housing market and 401k’s. And they’re really into sports. They once spent an hour debating Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning as quarterbacks, referencing exact stats and specific games without ever once needing to consult Google.

So, by and large, Stiles and Derek huddle together in a camp chair under at least two blankets and eat the free food, without doing much socializing. If it’s early enough, Stiles will usually fall asleep on Derek. That’s always nice. Derek makes a great pillow.

Anyway. The point is that those tailgate parties are most of the contact that Stiles has really ever had with Laura, so the two of them are not exactly close. Which makes this awkward.

“Stiles,” Laura says, sounding justifiably surprised by his call. “What’s up?”

“Hey,” Stiles says. “I, uh—do you have a few minutes?”

There’s a pause. “Sure.”

“Awesome. So. About mating bonds.”

“Uh-huh,” Laura says.

“Derek and I, we’ve been trying to work around the whole pain-sharing thing, but it’s… really not working out.”

“Really,” Laura says, suddenly frigid.

“I’m not breaking up with him,” Stiles snaps, annoyed. “It’s just. It’s been hard. I don’t know how much Derek’s told you about our lifestyle, but this is kind of a really important part. And if it’s at all possible, we’d like to find a way to around it.”

“And what will you do if you can’t work around it?” Laura asks.

“I don’t think that’s any of your business,” Stiles says frankly.

Excuse me?”

"If there’s nothing we can do about it, then Derek and I will sit down and have a long, not-fun conversation,” Stiles says, relenting slightly. “And whatever we decide to do will be our decision. We’re not required to do what you, or for that matter, the universe, has decided we’re supposed to do.”

Laura exhales.

“I take it you don’t have any ideas?” Stiles asks.

“No,” Laura says. “You’re really—it makes you guys that unhappy?”

“Yes,” Stiles says.

Laura pauses. “Stiles, the mating bond is… sacred. That’s what we’ve always been taught. That’s what Derek’s been taught. So keep that in mind, when you’re bitching and moaning about what an inconvenience it is to date the only person in the world who is literally perfect for you. Okay?”

“I’m not—”

But he grits his teeth and forces the words back. Laura doesn’t matter. This is between him and Derek, and it doesn’t matter what Laura thinks.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he says, eventually.

 

 

Next on his list is Deaton. Stiles actually sets up a time to meet with him in his office, because—well, mostly because he’s hoping that if Deaton has any ideas, if they need supplies, then Stiles can then have them right away.

“I’m not sure I understand,” Deaton says slowly.

“Mate bonds. Is there any way to, like, temporarily disable them?” Stiles asks. “The, uh, the pain-sharing bit.”

Deaton frowns. “I don’t think so. I’m not sure why you would want to.”

“If maybe one of the people has some awful chronic pain, and they don’t want to hurt the other person for the rest of their life?” Stiles suggests.

“Neither you nor Derek have chronic pain,” Deaton points out.

“Or maybe if one person was getting hurt, the other person could disable the bond so they could work to help the other person,” Stiles says—which, he definitely should have said in the first place. That’s a much better reason.

“I really don’t think you can pick and choose which elements of the mate bond you want active, Stiles. I’m sorry,” Deaton says, all professionalized sympathy.

“You can’t think of anything?” Stiles asks.

Deaton frowns, and actually takes a moment to really think. “No,” he says eventually. “No, I can’t think of anything like that.”

“God, this is so stupid,” Stiles mutters, throwing himself back into his chair. He blows out a breath. “You’re a scientist, Deaton. Tell me. Why the hell would mate bonds share pain? Like, what evolutionary sense does that make? All it does is make it easier to take out both mates, instead of just one.”

“Ah, if there were mate bonds between humans, maybe,” Deaton says. “But you forget that they’re only for werewolves, and werewolves live in packs. Imagine if your mate were off hunting while you were back in the den with the rest of the pack. If your mate were to be grievously injured, even if you were in too much pain to go and help them, it would serve to alert the rest of the pack that your mate needed help.”

“Well, yeah, okay,” Stiles admits. “But like. How do you even deal with the existence of soul mates? Because if we have soul mates, then it’s basically the world’s best argument for predeterminism. We don’t have any free will. I was always meant to be the person that I am right now, because that’s the person that’s perfect for Derek. So there was never a chance that my mother wouldn’t die. Or that I wouldn’t have gone to Columbia. Or—” He flails a little, his trying to corral his thoughts into something eloquent.

Deaton’s expression is impassive.

"Soul mates depend on a predetermined universe,” Stiles finally says. “But evolution, our prime theory for existence, depends on randomization and chance. But is that all a lie? Is there no such thing as evolution?”

“Maybe,” Deaton says thoughtfully. “Or, maybe, evolution is truly random, and the mate bond is just a supernatural phenomenon that emerges when two highly-compatible werewolves, or a werewolf and a human, enter into a relationship. Maybe it was only human romanticism that birthed the notion of predetermined soul mates.”

Stiles blinks, because—of course. Of course.  

Deaton shrugs. “But I’m afraid the anthropology of mate bonds won’t help you to control it. Though. There is…”

“What?” Stiles asks.

“You can’t shape a mate bond to your own liking,” Deaton says slowly, “but you can break it. I’ve heard of it.”

“Break it, like, dissolve it? No more bond?” Stiles asks.

“Yes,” Deaton says. He looks grim.

“Is it… bad?” Stiles asks tentatively.

“The ritual itself is painless, I believe. But I’m afraid I’ve only heard of it as a hunter tactic. You’d have to ask Chris Argent.”

Stiles makes a face.

Scott was right. Crap.

 

 

Chris Argent hands him a sheaf of papers and says, “You shouldn’t feel any side effects, during the ritual. It’s designed to break bonds quickly and silently.”

“Oh,” Stiles says. “Good.”

“Not usually,” Chris replies.

 

 

Finally armed with a solution, Stiles pulls out the Cap’n Crunch and pours them each a bowl before sitting down in his living room with Derek. He sits opposite of Derek. He’s hoping it’ll help to hide his nerves. The last thing he wants is for Derek to be uncomfortable.

“Soooo, remember how I was looking into ways to work around our whole pain-share problem?” Stiles asks.

Derek accepts the bowl of Peanut Butter Crunch from him. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. So, uh, the bad news is, there isn’t a way to work around it,” Stiles says.

Derek raises an eyebrow.

“The good news,” Stiles says, “is that there’s a solution.”

“You’re being an asshole on purpose, aren’t you?” Derek says long-sufferingly.

Stiles grins, quick and nervous. “You know me so well. But, no, seriously, I have a solution, and it isn’t… No, okay, I’m just going to tell you, without pre-biasing you. Because I want this to be an honest, open discussion and this should be like a safe space. You can feel however you want, and you should communicate it. And I’ll do the same. All right?”

“No, please, preface it a little longer,” Derek says dryly.

“Don’t tempt me,” Stiles retorts.

Derek takes a spoonful of Peanut Butter Crunch.

Stiles takes a bite of his Crunch Berries, and just to be an extra asshole, chews with his mouth open.

“Eugh,” Derek says, looking away.

“So,” Stiles says, after he swallows. He’s just going to go for it. Get it out there. “Here’s the deal. According to my sources, the only way that I’ll be able to hurt you, without also hurting myself, is to… break the mate bond. Dissolve it. Completely.”

Derek stills.

Stiles’ heart goes into overdrive because he’s said it, and he takes another bite of Crunch Berries to stop himself from adding anything to that. Shit, shit, shit.

“You… don’t want to dissolve the bond?” Derek asks tentatively, after a long silence.

“I do,” Stiles says immediately, and blanches. “I mean, I don’t!”

“You’re freaking out,” Derek says.

“No fair, using werewolf senses,” Stiles whines.

Derek gives him a look.

Stiles deflates. “Shit. Yeah, I’m kinda freaking out. I just don’t want to offend you or something, because it seems like all you werewolves are super on-board with this mate bond stuff. It’s a big deal for you guys. But, on the other hand, this pain-sharing thing majorly sucks.”

“There’s more to it than pain-sharing, you know,” Derek tells him. “That’s just the first stage of the bond. It becomes an increasingly stronger psychic connection, with mood-sharing, dream-sharing, and even telepathy.”

“Are you shitting me?” Stiles blurts out, before he can stop himself. Then— “Oh my God, I am the worst. Shit. I didn’t mean that!”

Derek raises an eyebrow. “Yeah, you did.”

Stiles grimaces. “Yeah, I did. But, like—dude, we can’t share emotions during a scene. That’s actually dangerous.”

“I know,” Derek says, and doesn’t say anything else.

Stiles finishes his Crunch Berries to keep himself from pestering Derek.

“I never—wanted to find my mate,” Derek finally says his voice quiet and stilted. “I thought maybe I didn’t have one, because of… because of what I like. That there was something wrong with me. And I didn’t understand how my mate and I would ever be able to play. With the mate bond. And I thought that if I did have a mate. I thought they wouldn’t be into this stuff, that I’d have to have normal sex and give this up. Because there was just no way it would ever work. With the bond.”

Stiles wants to touch Derek and at the same time he doesn’t dare to breathe right now. What is Derek saying?

Derek is quiet again, before he eventually adds, “And, you know, it’s not like dissolving the mate bond would make us less compatible.”

“So. So you’re okay. With dissolving it,” Stiles says haltingly.

“Yeah,” Derek says. “But if you want to keep it—”

“I don’t,” Stiles interrupts. “I don’t. But Lau—I mean, I got the sense that this was a huge taboo for werewolves. Like, I had to get the ritual to dissolve the bond from Chris Argent.”

Derek shrugs. “Maybe for other people.”

“So,” Stiles says, because he has to be sure. “So, we’re dissolving the bond.”

“Yes,” Derek confirms.

“And that’s okay with you,” Stiles says.

“If it’s okay with you.”

“I’m good.”

“I’m good, too.”

Stiles can’t help the smile that breaks out across his face in the rush of relief that swamps him. “Can I come sit next to you?”

Derek nods, and Stiles practically leaps out of his chair, racing around the coffee table to plant himself on the couch, half in Derek’s lap.

“Can I kiss you?” Stiles asks breathlessly.

Derek rolls his eyes. “You can always kiss me, idiot.”

Stiles does.

 

 

They dissolve their mating bond. Laura is pissed, Scott is sympathetic, and Stiles’ dad is mostly very confused about why Stiles had asked for clippings of his prized night-blooming moon flowers.

One of these days, Stiles is going to tell his dad about werewolves. Really.

 

 

Stiles runs a hand down Derek’s bare flank. “Ready?” he asks.

Derek’s on his hands and knees on his bed, blindfolded, but otherwise uninhibited. Derek doesn’t much care for the give of the mattress, and he thinks about the beautiful bench he could build if they had a play room, one fit for lying or kneeling, padded and fitted with leather.

“Yes,” he says.

Stiles gives his ass a light slap, and stands back.

Derek tracks him easily. He can hear Stiles’ heartbeat and breathing, the sound of the heavy flogger being lifted up from the dresser, and the carpet smushing under Stiles’ feet as he readies his stance. He can smell leather, mountain ash, hemp, and of course, Stiles. Werewolves can’t smell emotions, but they can sure as hell smell arousal. All it takes to get Derek hard nowadays is a whiff of Stiles’ scent when it’s mixed with a blast of arousal.

Sometimes, when Derek is naked and blindfolded and waiting, and Stiles is feeling vindictive, he’ll palm his cock at random intervals just to watch Derek’s reflexively twitch in reaction.

The flogger sings as it flies through the air, and Derek tenses right before it hits his ass, swiping left to right, the tips just barely making contact. His skin burns, light and pleasant. Almost immediately it comes again, just as gentle, right to left now.

Stiles knows that he’s tense.

Derek flexes his hands against the sheets and resists the urge to wriggle. God it feels good.

Stiles brings the flogger down again and again, crisscrossing strokes that work up a good, solid burn on the skin of his ass. There’s an easy rhythm to it, a slap, slap, slap, that blends with the rhythm of Stiles’ heartbeat and has Derek relaxing, muscles easing even as Stiles starts to land the hits with more of the flogger.

“Stiles,” he breathes.

“Shhh,” Stiles says, not breaking rhythm for a second.

The impacts hit him harder and harder, vibrating his bones, the wolfsbane tails biting into his flesh, until it finally reaches its crescendo and slowly backs off. Until Stiles slowly brings it back up again. Up, and down, and up, and down. Like waves. Derek’s ass is on fire, stinging and burning and tingling with pain, reverberating deep and warm until it’s almost pleasure. It’s almost impossible to feel individual strokes anymore. There’s just pain-pleasure, coming at him in waves.

His body is relaxing. After a while it doesn’t even feel like pain anymore. It’s just pleasure, hits of ecstasy that are taking him higher and higher, making his body sing and his cock throb, taking him closer to the edge.

Stiles thinks that as Derek relaxes, he stops tracking Stiles. That isn’t true. He stops smelling him, stops listening to the flogger, to the movement of fabric, to the sound of his breathing—but Stiles’ heartbeat. Derek never loses track of that. Stiles’ heartbeat is everything.

When Derek truly falls, that’s what his universe comes down to.

He feels amazing right now. He feels like his body is floating, like he’s under a massive waterfall with water crushing down on him and his body standing strong and sure against it. His ears rush. He’s dimly aware of Stiles still at work, the flogger coming down again and again, marking him red and purple and claimed, but all he can feel is a steady, wonderful thrum. It’s heaven.

When Stiles’ arm finally slows to a stop, he barely registers it. His body hangs, suspended, floating in sensation. He’s no longer on his hands and knees. He’s flying.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

His body is being moved. Positioned. Something rough is snaking around him, snaring him, wrapping him tight in rigs and wraps and crosses. Every brush of Stiles’ skin against his own is like a brand. Slowly, piece by piece, Derek can feel himself being wrapped up tight. Safe.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Stiles’ voice floats down to him from somewhere far away. “You were so good, Derek. You’re such a good boy.”

He’s being cradled, swaddled. He couldn’t move if he wanted to. Everything is a haze of pleasure and security and the steady anchor of thump thump thump.

He’s home.