Actions

Work Header

To Build a Home (Of Sorts)

Chapter Text

Derek had to leave. Not because Cora asked him to, but because if he stayed one more week in this town it was going to kill him. Cora wanted to go too, which was just a bonus. If he was being perfectly honest her tagging along made leaving easier.

It was one less person he’d be leaving behind.

So when they had packed up their things -which had been light, with the sentimental items being few and far between- and made their final exit of the loft he felt little to nothing while sliding the door shut. It wasn’t until his tires made contact with the interstate road when the reality sunk in, that he was finally putting distance between himself and Beacon Hills. Derek didn’t really know if that warranted a breath a fresh air yet. Sure he was out, but that didn’t mean all the pain and horror that town inflicted on him would just suddenly disappear.

He held his breath until they left the state of California and then some.

For a while they bounced around, Cora mostly wanting to sightsee. They had the time for it, they weren’t living on borrowed time anymore. They didn’t have to spend every waking minute tip toeing around for the other shoe to drop and a new bad guy to roll into town. Now they could afford to stop and just be .

It was something he hasn’t been able to do in a long time, even back in New York with Laura.

For a while the sightseeing was nice, but for Derek it didn’t take long for the novelty of it to wear off. He could only buy so many printed mugs and baseball caps from touristy tchotchke shops. By now his keys had more decorative charms than socially acceptable. However that didn’t stop Cora from dragging him from place to place, this time some lighthouse in Minnesota on the east part of Lake Superior. It wasn’t even all that; a simple museum, a public bathroom, and not-so-tall lighthouse.

While it might be on the mundane scale for him, Cora found it rather quaint and charming . It’s also how he found himself in another god forsaken tourist shop debating on buying a history book of the area or a mug that said “Split Rock Lighthouse” in thick calligraphy. He hadn’t even managed compare prices before Cora had suddenly showed up at his side and began to drag him out of the shop.

He nearly dropped the mug.

It hadn’t been for no good reason though, Cora had dragged him out to meet a beta who was in the local pack just eight minutes north in Beaver Bay. The guy, Michael he’d learned, just wanted to check in on behalf of his Alpha to make sure they weren’t a threat. Derek respected that to the enth degree but a pit in his stomach flipped uncomfortably at the mention of a pack. He felt content with this trip, escape, whatever he wanted to call it just being him and Cora; yet, he could tell she was looking for a pack, looking for stability.

He didn’t think he could ever give her those things.

So when Michael invited them to dinner Derek’s mouth hadn’t even opened to politely decline before Cora said yes with a dopey grin on her face. Which was how he found himself driving up route 61 playing follow the leader with Michael’s car.

“He seems nice,” Cora said.

Derek glanced over to her, his eyebrow arched, “you just met him.”

“And he seems nice, your point?”

He shook his head and focused on the road again, hitting his blinker a little too forcefully to turn right off the highway and onto a trail road. Thankfully she dropped the issue. The forestry was vastly different than in Beacon Hills; more grassland-ish, less fir and maple trees and more spruce and pine. Definitely the change of scenery Derek needed but he could tell meeting a new pack was a situation he didn’t need. If it put a smile like that on Cora’s face he’d suffer through a pack dinner.

By the time they broke the tree line the sun was casting its orange and purple glows of twilight, giving the surrounding forest area a distinctive whimsical look. Part of a river was on the property, a dock extending out on the body of water. Beside the dock was a cabin, rather modern given the setting with lots of harsh lines and windows.

There was lots of deck area and A-frame roofing. It was larger than his childhood home for sure. For some reason that intimidated him on a primal level. Derek shut down both his thoughts and his car, ripping the key from the ignition before getting out. The air was just a nippy as it had been at the lighthouse, not even his skin resilient to the north evening chill.

“This way,” Michael said, motioning for them to follow him again but on foot.

Derek kept pace with Cora, making sure he could get between her and someone given something to happen. If she rolled her eyes at the gesture - which he caught her doing - he ignored it and continued to do it.

The inside of the house was significantly warmer both temperature wise and comfort wise. Where the outside had a blue hue, the house itself had an orange hue that reminded him of strength, safety, and pack . He almost felt like throwing up or turning tail to run far away.

He did neither.

In fact he kept walking forward, eyes scanning over various framed photos and decor items. There was a graduation picture of two twin girls in traditional caps and gowns, two people who looked to be their parents flanking them. There was no flare from their eyes which either meant they were human or they’d touched up the photo before printing it, the latter seeming to be the more likely. Baby pictures, pack outings, and anything someone could capture with a camera seemed to be in photo form within the house.

There was a clutter of children’s toys in the one of two living areas they had walked through, a small child pausing their mission to chew up a doll’s head to look at both him and Cora. Michael said it was another beta’s kid, only eighteen months as of last week. Within seconds of the child sniffing them out he went back to gnawing on the doll and the three of them kept walking.

Surprisingly the only person they had run into had been that baby, and he could hear almost all the noise emitting from what he assumed was the kitchen but he found it odd nobody was milling about. So when they finally turned a corner into a set of open glass french doors, Derek almost felt his heart leap out of his throat at the sheer amount of people in one room. The youngest looked no older than five while the eldest could be well into their nineties.

Depending on what they consider years.

“Michael,” a man, undoubtedly the Alpha, spoke up from his spot behind the kitchen island. “You’ve brought guests.”

“Alpha Henry, these are the wolves you noticed on our territory, Derek and Cora Hale. This is our Alpha, Henry Johnston,” Michael introduced.

Derek didn’t miss how some of the older members of the Johnston pack stiffened, their eyes giving the same look of pity he’s been getting for the past eight years of his life. Cora whimpered and stepped closer to him. A small part of him wanted to claw their eyes out but a bigger part of him chose to ignore it and not give his obvious discomfort away. Henry stepped around the counters with heavy booted footsteps until he faced them, his presence radiating the power Alphas traditionally possessed. He was slightly shorter than Derek, brown hair tastefully salt and peppered with age, and he could see the slight resemblance between him and Michael. Nothing like a father and son but they definitely shared similar features.

“Welcome to our Minnesota territory,” Henry said warmly, shaking their hands briefly but with a firm grip. The rest of the Johnston pack went back to talking amongst themselves and prepping dinner, and Derek wasn’t going to lie, it smelled pretty good compared to the road side food he’s been forcing down his maw.

“What brings you two to town?”

This time Derek had the chance to speak up. “We’re just traveling. We mean no threat to you or your pack.”

“I didn’t think you were kid,” Henry chuckled and the words sounded so painfully like his father’s, shit . “Well, we’d be glad to have you both stay for dinner tonight. The more the merrier. Any objections?”

“No! I’m dying to have a good home cooked meal,” Cora smiled, “thank you.”

Dinner had been uneventful in the sense that nothing suddenly smashed through the window or nobody had tried to kill them. However it was full of questions and storytelling, of course Cora was the one to kindly take the wheel of the conversations. Derek only talked if he absolutely had to, his uncomfortability only doubling as the twins from the graduation photo made it their personal mission to eye him up like a piece of meat. So when one of the betas asked him where they were staying he answered honestly, saying they were going to drive through the night south through to Wisconsin and hopefully straight shot it to Chicago. And that was pretty much the gateway that had them sleeping in the guest rooms in the cabin for the night. Marie, Henry’s wife, insisted upon it and wouldn’t accept anything less.

Two youngsters like yourselves need rest, had been her exact words after dinner as she ushered them to get their things and each take a guest room.

The night was dark and quiet, too many breaths and heartbeats for him to close his eyes. His room had a window that let in a hint of moonlight, and other than that he was submerged in darkness. The sheets beneath him were a flannel like material and too scratchy for his liking but he didn’t complain since this had been the softest bed he’d slept on in weeks. For hours the clock on the bedside table screamed angry red numbers at him. Midnight, two, three, five…

He eventually let sleep deprivation win at six am and passed out without hesitation.


When their overnight stay with the Johnston pack crossed the line into undefined permanence was a mystery to Derek. After their first night Cora pulled him aside and just asked if they could stay for another day or two, Michael had even told her she had Henry’s approval. So then the extra two nights turned into a week, and a week into a month, and a month became three and so on.

It’d been six months and Derek was suffocating.

On Sundays they had campfires by the lake. On Mondays they all drove south to the much bigger city of Duluth for a shopping trip. Tuesday through Thursday was as mundane as it gets, everyone taking it day by day from school or work. On Fridays they had night runs through the woods. On Saturdays they had big pack dinners.

Wash, rinse, and repeat.

It was a painful routine, but the happiness on his sister’s face had been more than enough to keep him reined into all this. Into the Johnston pack. Even then he kept to himself, fall and winter had passed and it was now well into spring, silence was his only defence. Sleepless nights were frequent as were the feelings of badwrongleave that he couldn’t deal with. Throughout the winter he noticed the small things at first; the Johnston’s rubbing their hands on the back of Cora’s neck when she passed, getting certain items when they went to town because they thought of her, even letting her put the Christmas tree topper on even though it was family tradition for the kids to do it.

Then it was the bigger things; one day he found Cora’s things slowly leaving her room and appearing in Michael’s room, Adam and Shawn - Michael’s adoptive parents - throwing accepting looks to Cora on many occasions that Derek couldn’t quite place, and ultimately he walked into the bathroom one day to see the two of them practically eating each other’s faces.

That had made it official.

One side of it, Cora found someone and someplace she could have her happiness. The other side of it, Derek had finally lost everyone.

It was April now and the weather was finally looking up, the harsh snow the winter had brought on had melted away to expose a rather humid climate. Marie mentioned Minnesota was in the T zone for warm and cold weather patterns so humidity was common here. Today was unusually warm, and werewolves being werewolves, the bolder pack members took to jumping into the still freezing lake.

He remained seated on the deck of the cabin, firmly planted on a swinging bench that was attached to the overhead roofing. The sun’s heat washed over them and the gravel driveway created a heat shimmer. A soft breeze allowed a wind chime to play it’s soft melodies which was almost over ridden by the laughter and chatter down by the lake. He was almost debating to go on a run as the sliding glass door beside him opened and closed, Henry stepping out to the railing of the deck to look out to the rest of his property.

“Join me over here?” Henry asked, no hint of command in his voice.

Derek looked over to the Alpha, waiting a moment before standing up and settling himself with a good foot of space between them, his forearms braced on the deck fencing. Alpha Johnston was for a lack of a better term odd. Traditional Alphas were usually stern and followed pack dynamics like it was law. Liberal Alphas were usually lax and allowed for new dynamics to be added if need be.

Two extremes; it was like comparing Scott McCall to Deucalion.

Henry landed somewhere in the middle and that wasn’t as common as one would think.

“Enjoying the day?” Henry started, looking over to Derek with a raised look.

He shrugged, “it’s nice out.”

“No swimming though?”

“No swimming. Not really my thing,” he answered.

His mind supplied him with a numb body, the memory of barely being held up in eight feet of water, terrified that he would drown--

The Alpha nodded with a slight hum but other than that fell into a silence that Derek couldn’t even begin to figure out. Instead he gnawed the inside of his cheek and looked to the lake now that he had view of it. The younger children were at the shore, playing with their toys and the shallow water. Many of the older betas were either in the water, jumping off the dock, or simply watching over the children while talking amongst themselves on a blanket. Cora was currently on the dock, hand in hand with Michael who was convincing her to jump in.

That’s when the twins, Jessica and Jasmine, ran towards them and shoved them off into the water.

“Your sister seems to have found her place within my pack,” Henry pointed out, the unsaid but you haven’t was implied and heavy between them.

“That she has. She’s….happy,” Derek agreed, his heart flipping oddly in his chest.

“But you’re not.”

He didn’t answer Henry, opening his mouth felt like too much. Like he’d just scream into the heavens about how he hasn’t been happy for a very long time and being here, being within a pack yet to be broken by hunters has been slowly torturing him. Since they had given him a place to stay he figured that would’ve been rude. He kept his mouth shut.

“Cora talked to me recently,” the Alpha continued, “and she requested I talk to you about it. I’m not going to weave around it for you, she wanted to join my pack as an official member and I accepted. Of course we’re waiting to make it official for when she and Michael have their mating ceremony.”

“Oh,” he said, trying to seem vaguely surprised yet he’d seen that one coming for a while.

“I asked if I should offer the same opportunity to you, but she said you would decline.”

“She wasn’t wrong,” Derek sighed, trying to find words even if they weren’t really his thing, “I don’t think I can ever have this. Not after….everything, but thank you for at least making the offer Henry.”

“When will you be leaving?” Henry asked, cutting to the chase.

“I-” Derek paused, “after Michael and Cora’s mating ceremony.”

The Alpha nodded, seeming pleased with that answer. Derek couldn’t even find it in himself to take pride that he’d pleased an Alpha. Before more could be exchanged Henry clasped a hand on Derek’s shoulder before wordlessly turning on his heel to return inside.

Henry’s hand seared against his shoulder, marking itself into his skin like it was branded into his memory forever. For the first time since he’d arrived here he felt himself get choked up and it was just typical for it to be over something as simple as a touch of an Alpha. He knew it wasn’t that simple though it had been a silent invitation. He could hear everything that touch had meant, everything it had exchanged between him and Henry, everything between an Alpha and an Omega.

If you need it, we’ll always be here to welcome you with open arms.

He didn’t go inside for another two hours.


 

“So you’re leaving?”

Derek looked up from his hands to Cora almost needing to see the hate in her eyes. He needed to see the disappointment flooding them. It wasn’t because he was looking for an excuse to stay it was just an expected reaction. Unexpectedly when his eyes met her’s there wasn’t anything but a mix of acceptance and happiness.

The rest of the Johnston pack was within the nearby woods, he could hear their small howls and movement, Michael being the closest to them. Five minutes ago the entire pack had been where he and Cora were, watching as she and Michael were mated. The mating had been beautiful even for Derek. As a child he was born into a pack that had pretty much been mated off or they simply couldn’t travel to ones they had been invited to because traveling with two young and unpredictable pups was a very bad idea. Much to his and Cora’s surprise Marie, Adam, and Shawn had performed the ceremony even if it was typically an Alpha’s job. Still there had been so much….hominess that he felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders the whole time.

All that was left for Cora was to have her first official run with Henry and she would be as good as pack. Cora Hale-Johnston rolled off the tongue pleasantly.

“Yeah,” he breathed, the finalization of it daunting.

They stood in silence for a moment under the moonlight, its fat face hanging high in the sky. The lighting made the white flowers woven into Cora’s hair look even brighter than before along with her white slip that would probably end up getting dirty the second she ran off into the woods. Derek flinched when the salty bitter smell of tears hit his nose, Cora’s hand flying to wipe at her face.

“I can st-”

“No,” she shook her head, “no you need to go Derek. I’m just gonna miss you, I spent eight years thinking you were dead. I’ve only gotten a year and a half with you, but I’ve found my happiness, now you need to find yours.”

For the first time in a long time a smile split his face, it may have been a sad one but it was a smile nonetheless. He stepped forward the two steps it took to wrap his arms around Cora in hopes everything he wanted to say but couldn’t was expressed. Her smaller frame held onto his tightly, nuzzling her face into his neck like they used to when they were kids. A part of him saw this coming but he never thought it would be so easy to let her go on her own.

“Thank you,” he said, voice cracking with emotion as he kissed her temple and stepped back.

Cora nodded, sniffling before asking, “do you want help packing up? I’m sure Henry and Michael will understand and wait for me.”

“I packed and got everything in the car this morning,” he said: he wanted a smooth exit. Cora took in a shaky breath and waved awkwardly because what else was there to be said? She demanded every Johnston pack member have his cell number and vice versa, also she promised to hang him by his dick in the middle of the woods for hunters to find if he didn’t call her weekly.

He didn’t doubt that.

Derek pulled his keys out of his pocket, gripping them tightly as he looked to the left to see gold eyes staring at them from the dark forest. “Keep her safe Michael or I’ll rip your throat out with me teeth,” he deadpanned knowing full well the beta had been listening. Cora shoved at him playfully, telling him to go on and get out of here and he did, staggering back until he turned on his heel and made for his car. By the time he got in Cora was entering the edge of the woods and he couldn’t help but listen in.

“He won’t really rip my throat out will he?”

“I don’t think so?”

“Not funny babe.”

He started the engine, a shaky hand putting the car in drive and an equally shaky foot stepping on the gas. The lights of the house got dimmer and dimmer, the sparkling of the lake ended up being engulfed by the trees, and eventually it was just him on a lonely road to wherever he was headed. Derek rolled down his window, the air within the cabin of the car too stuffy for him to breathe in right now. By the time he stopped at the turnoff to Route 61 howls went off in the distance that registered as a different pack.

Cora’s couldn’t even be deciphered properly.

The wheels of his car turned south bound and he stepped on the gas, having never felt so free in his life. He was no longer constricted by his family, his youth, Kate, the list goes on. This was all him and taking the first step out like this on his own was simultaneously terrifying and intensely satisfying.

By the time the clock on the dash read a little after midnight he’d driven through Duluth and was on the interstate towards Minneapolis. Last year the plan had been to go through Wisconsin to Chicago and someway or another end up back in New York. A family friend there who had taken care of him and Laura eight years ago offered to help again, saying she was indebted to their mother. Now? Now that felt like a wound he didn’t want to reopen.

Cora had been an example, taking her new situation and creating a life with the Johnstons. Maybe Derek had to do that too; start from scratch and build from the ground up. It was what his father did when something happened, he needed to use his hands, try and focus his energy on something while he healed.

While he didn’t know where he was going to settle yet, he figured going a bit south would be best considering he hated the humidity of Minnesota. Getting out of that climate zone would be ideal, but other than that he had not a damn clue where to go. The more he thought about not knowing the more he accepted that it was okay to not be completely sure.

For once in his life he didn’t have a plan and that made him step on the gas just a little harder.

Chapter Text

For some reason or another Derek kept going south to Kansas City before backtracking to Denver in hopes to take a few days off in Albuquerque. When his sister had occupied the passenger seat she requested they take the northern routes up through Oregon and Washington, making their way past Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Now was his chance to take the more southern routes.

He’s been on the road a lot and has come to find his tastes to be of warmer weather. It was one of the reasons why he’d hated New York so much; all the cold weather and cold people. The weather had also been part of the reason he disliked Minnesota. It wasn’t like he couldn’t take the snow, in fact he liked it on occasion but northern states that ended up under ten feet of snow just wasn’t for him.

A while back he left Denver, heading south to New Mexico which would only take three hours tops to pass the state lines. His phone was currently jacked into the sound system via AUX cord, the music volume turned up to the point where his windows had to be rolled down to stop the car from vibrating too much. It’s not like there was anyone else on the road to piss off with the music…

There wasn’t anyone else on the road, which was odd considering he was on an interstate highway which led from one state capitol to another. Brows furrowing he sat up straighter in his seat, eyes scanning the road for any sign indicating where he was or somewhere to turn off. After ten more minutes of driving he found an exit with a sign reading “ 2.4 miles until Sloan” which he figured was a town of sorts.

The exit took him to a very small road that was almost too small for two cars to drive on at once, let alone anything near what would be city standard. There was no speed limit sign but there was no way in hell he was going to go over thirty on a road like this. For about five minutes he continued down the path, obviously going up in elevation considering whenever the trees broke around him he could see the highway he’d been on getting further and further away.

He turned down his music when the sign for Sloan showed up on his right, an old wooden sign that really should be updated. The brown wood was marked with off-white paint that said “ Town of Sloan, proud population of 3,354 persons ” and he paled. Beacon Hills had over 30,000 people alone while Beacon County had at least 500,000. This was barely even a town but the anonymity it gave off was appealing.

Regardless he needed to find a store or sorts, a person at the very least to help him get back on track. The awkward road to get to the town eventually got better the further in he drove and despite the rocky start the town itself wasn’t half bad. There were street lamps, tiny single family homes, a gas station, a bed and breakfast, a local market, various shops, and much to his surprise a hardware store and a bank.

Obviously with the small population came with everyone knowing almost everyone, therefore the stares he got from passersby weren’t too much of a surprise. Some glancing over for a second before resuming whatever they were doing. Some glancing over and continuing to stare at him much like the Johnston pack twins did.

If he rolled up his windows to use the tinted glass as an advantage the people outside wouldn’t know.

Derek pulled over to the curb in front of the market place, making sure all of his valuables were stowed away before getting out. He shed his leather jacket the moment he got out, his skin already hot in it, leaving him in a grey v-neck as he walked onto the sidewalk. Several strangers eyed him up obviously lacking the enforced rule of “it’s rude to stare”.

He did what he did best and ignored the looks, keeping his eyes behind his aviators even as he walked into the store. It’s scuffed wooden floors, ancient shopping carts, and flower crown moulding gave away it’s age. To his nose he could smell the freshness of the produce just across the way, the fresh picked flowers some guy was selling near the checkout, and even the dust under the shelving units.

It was...different for sure, but not in a bad way. It had its charms.

He turned to an empty cashier stand, there was only the two and the other was occupied with an elderly man scanning a bag full of brussel sprouts for a woman trying to sooth a crying toddler on her hip. At the register he chose a woman in her twenties if he had to guess sat on a stool and flipped through a rather dull looking magazine.

“Excuse me,” Derek started, clearing his throat.

The girl, Lisa according to her name tag, nearly fell off her stool as she flailed with her magazine. Her thick old school glasses nearly fell of her petite nose and her frizzy brown hair got caught on her tongue. It took a moment to compose herself and Derek let her take her time, even offering her a small smile in hopes the smell of pure embarrassment would leave her scent.

“Oh, um hi sir! What can I do for you today?” Lisa asked, gaining her breath back. Her voice was high pitched and sweet which worked well with her mousy features. A tiny finger pushed up her glasses as she waited for him to respond.

“I’m traveling south to New Mexico. Don’t think I’m on the right route. Think you can help?” Derek asked, keeping it short and to the point.

Lisa leaned on the conveyor belt to her right, crossing her arms, “no offence but don’t you have a smartphone with maps that can help you with this?”

“I, um, I don’t really know how. I don’t use my phone for much more than calling people,” Derek admitted, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. He couldn’t be smooth and suave all the time. He was a tad old school and liked traditional maps. Even back in high school he took AP human geography just because most of the class required to look over maps.

Lisa covered the laugh that threatened to spill over her mouth, reaching back from her post to a spinning display only to pick out a map of the the states. She picked open the plastic wrapping it was in and opened it up  and pointed to Colorado.

“Okay, you’re here,” she said pointing to a western part of the state where most of the mountain range was, “you start in Denver?”

Derek nodded.

“You must’ve took the west exit which is Route 70 when you wanted to take the south exit which is Route 25 which would’ve taken you straight to New Mexico. Sorry…?” Lisa trailed off.

“Derek.”

“Sorry Derek, looks like you might want to figure out how to use Google Maps,” she finished, standing back with her hands on her wide set hips.

He sighed feeling like he could’ve really made it to New Mexico within the day. Eyes glancing around the store he found a clock that read a little past five in the afternoon. He didn’t feel like driving tonight, so maybe another night in Colorado wouldn’t be too much.

“Also not trying to be a dick but you’re gonna have to pay for the map,” Lisa added and he arched a brow but didn’t hesitate to reach into his wallet and fish out five bucks to give her, telling her to keep the change. He gathered the map up and folded it small enough to it could slide into his back pocket with ease, waving off  Lisa before exiting the store back into the low hanging sun.

Scanning the area he spotted the bed and breakfast a few blocks down, and figured it wasn’t too far of a walk. He turned and began walking along the sidewalk, taking into account that this town had one road where everything mainly sat, the sub blocks just had houses and maybe the occasional playground or school bus stop. The mountain terrain made the roads slant either up or down to some degree, the reason two teens were running down their street to catch their basketball that was rolling downhill from them.

By the time he got to the bed and breakfast, and not to anybody’s surprise it was open and had vacant rooms available. It was two stories tall with baby blue siding, dark roof shingles and white trim that made it contrast with the grey shop that was beside it.

The river stone path that led to the front steps were nice and obviously maintained so no weeds overgrow them. As for the front steps he could tell they were a little rickety and probably wouldn’t last much longer.

Derek walked through the door, the overhead bell ringing above him with a soft chime. The screen door slapped shut behind him, as did the main wooden door making a person on the stairs jump but they kept walking upwards until they vanished from sight. Before he could think about retracting this idea and just booking it back to his car a boy ran up to him from the ground floor hallway, maybe twelve if Derek had to guess.

His floppy blonde hair nearly got caught in his eyes and his very striking blue eyes were almost too light to be natural.

“Hey you’re the dude Lisa texted me about, the new guy,” the kid said standing next to Derek looking about a foot shorter.

“New guy?” Derek asked, not as creeped out as he should’ve been by the fact Lisa from the market texted this kid about him.

“Yeah, new guy. We get maybe four new people here a year, by tomorrow you’ll be the talk of the town. Anyways I’m guessing you’ll be needing a room?”

In the end he kind of tuned the kid out only answering with yes/no answers, a much older employee coming to the check in to help the kid out with everything, thankfully handling the money transaction. He wasn’t here to make small talk, he was here to sleep and then in the morning get back on the road.

Maybe he felt a little bad when the kid looked absolutely pissed off when Derek kept up with the very short answers, and even more pissed off when Derek said he could handle his bags once he got to the car. With four traveling tourists a year this kid must not get a lot of action in Sloan. Derek hesitated when the keys to his room were in his hand, the kid glaring at him like he was about to sprout two heads.

If it was his similar experience of not having many friends or thrills as a kid, or maybe the Colorado water was...doing things to him but he decided to fuck it and give the kid something to latch onto for substance.

“Look kid-”

“Jake.”

“Look Jake,” Derek started over, “let me get my stuff, let me settle in my room, and maybe I’ll let you come up and I’ll show you my baseball card collection.”

The kid literally lit up like a Christmas tree and Derek couldn’t stop the smile from gracing his face, moving a little quicker than he would’ve before inviting Jake to hang out for a little while. He pulled his car under the shade of a willow tree that was beside the place he opted to stay at, getting his duffel out with ease and making his way back inside without problem. This time upon entering Jake didn’t run up to pester him.

Shrugging he marched up the stairs, his hand brushing against the wood grain railing, making his way into the room he’d taken. There were eight rooms and only one other had a door closed, the others were open and vacant.

It wouldn’t surprise him that much if a tumbleweed ghosted through this house.

He opened the door to his own room, settling his duffel on the dresser. It was nice despite the leaky faucet he could hear dripping from the ensuite bathroom to his left. There was a white metal frame bed, ocean blue duvet cover resting neatly on it with matching pillows. Soft white carpeting was the choice of flooring in the room, accept the bathroom which had tan tiling.

Only a minute had passed for him to take in the rather nice room before his door was just swung open, Jake walking in like he owned the place. Then again, his family probably did own the place.

“You said baseball cards?” Jake prompted.

Derek huffed, grabbing them out of his bag and settling himself on the bed, holding them up, “baseball cards.”


 

“Did you hear what happened to Mr. Monty?”

“No, what did that old shit get into this time?”

That’s how Derek found out about the plot of land at the base of Sloan Peak on the northern end of the town, a few miles into the woods. That original night turned into a few, reminded him of how Cora was with Minnesota.

There was just something drawing him in and telling him not to leave. So who was he to ignore what his instincts were telling him to do?

Oscar Monty as he found out was the same elderly man he saw working the market with Lisa his first day here. Been here for generations, his own grandkids still here and still growing up. According to Jake who decided to stick to Derek like a leech said the man worked in the gold mine within Sloan Peak until the 60’s when it had been mined out until it was bone dry. Now a big company wants to buy his land and set up new rig to get the deeper ore out of the ground.

He wasn’t an idiot, he knew that was a bad idea. It would poison the groundwater, hurt the environment, and apparently Mr. Monty wasn’t an idiot either since he wouldn’t sell his land to them. Some of the townspeople said he’d threaten to go to court to get them off his back.

Before the fire Peter wasn’t half bad, ran a company with Derek’s father which dealt a lot with firms and lawsuits. Long story short Derek knew that if Oscar took what he has to court he simply wouldn’t win. There would be a loophole, the company would bribe someone out, and honestly there was a better solution.

Derek could buy it.

His family has one hundred seventeen million in reserve bearer bonds, not including insurance from the fire and whatnot. With three people left and all that money to be divided up Derek had thirty nine million alone from the bonds. He probably had enough to buy the entire mountain if he wanted and still have some left over to live on. Comfortably too.

It’s how he found himself driving up to the land Oscar owned, meeting him there to go over what it would take for him to get it rather than the company. The woods around it looked nice, much denser than Minnesota and Beacon Hills for sure, but just as green. By the time he got to their meeting point he noticed two things. One, these woods were much more lively than he’s used to. A bird’s constant chatter, the nails of various squirrels climbing trees, a creek nearby, all of the things he normally couldn’t pick out with such ease. Two, Oscar wasn’t here yet.

That  gave Derek a chance to at least look around a little bit. The obvious focal point within the clearing was the worn down shack that maybe several decades ago would’ve been in it’s prime but was now nothing more than a hollowed out shell.

He’d be lying if he said it didn’t have a horror film type look to it and he didn’t do well with horror films. Thankfully he could take his mind off of it when the sound of a rusty truck engine came into earshot and prompted him to wait beside his car for the old man to show up. It didn’t take long for the truck to pull up beside his own car.

“They be offering a stiff two million for my land,” Mr. Monty said, rolling down the window of his car rather than getting out of it to talk. Derek appreciated a person who could get straight to the point, made things less awkward and quicker.

Derek crossed his arms and leaned against his hood, “that’s overpriced.”

“They think they can lure me in with big money talk,” Mr. Monty said, his voice gruff and worn with age, “but I know full damn well they ain’t payin’ me jack shit.”

“How much you want for it?” Derek asked.

Mr. Monty leaned out of his window, resting his weight on his arm, “for what it’s gunna be worth plus gettin’ that old shack outta here? Quarter million.”

“Now you’re just selling yourself short Mr. Monty,” Derek deadpanned, rolling his eyes.

“Listen Derek,” the man spoke, tone much lower than before, “I’ve lived here, my daddy lived here, my daddy’s daddy...I’ve had this land longer than time itself. I’ll give it to ya for a quarter million if ya promise to keep it natural. I don’t want none of those shit stormin’ companies commin’ in to fuck with the land. Understood?”

There was something in this man Derek respected. Probably his straightforward attitude on selling his land quickly to someone who will abides by his standards. He looked at Oscar for a moment, his arms falling to his sides as he reached into his car to fish out his checkbook and a pen. He filled it out swiftly, the ball point on the pen scribbling against the paper with ease, the blue ink soaking into the paper with finality.

He ripped it out of the book, the seam tore perfectly and he didn’t hesitate to hand it over to Mr. Monty. The man’s face paled slightly at the paper now in his hands, wrinkle rimmed eyes looking over the check. The next thing he knew his hand was being shaken brutally and a cackle like no other was coming from the man.

“You are one crazy son of a bitch Derek Hale,” he wheezed, “I’ll find ya with the papers for the land sometime this week. Now enjoy your land while I go buy everyone a round of drinks.”

“Will do,” he said but by the time he managed to say anything at all Mr. Monty pulled away back down the small road to the town, his hysterical laughter almost louder than the engine itself.

Derek swallowed thickly, trying to wrap his head around what he just did. His eyes flickered back to the shack, to the trees, to the blades of overgrown grass, to the mountain a few miles north of here. It was all his now. His name would be on the legal documents, he just spent a quarter of a million on this land, his land.

Numbly he reached for his phone, fingers shaking as he scrolled through his recents to find Cora. Oddly enough he’s only called her four times, not enough times to have his prior calls be low enough on the list to not be seen.

October 18, 2012 - Stiles Stilinski, missed call (3)

Derek clicked on Cora’s name, trying to ignore that name on his recents list as the calming monotone rings blared in his ear.

“Hey big bro,” Cora chirped.

“I think I’m building a house in the Colorado mountains,” Derek rushed out, his lungs on fire from holding that in. He waited for her to respond while many silent beats passed, and he could hear her smiling from the other end.

“Sounds perfect for you.”


There was a moment when Derek wasn’t sure if he was going to actually build a house. Thinking back on it, him buying the land was impulsive if not a little insane. However it was that very impulsive insanity that got him here; it’s mid-September and the basic framing was done, as were the walls. Now he just had the task of roofing and weatherproofing before the Colorado winter kicked in.

Today was warmer than it has been lately, the sun arched high in the sky as the slight freckling of clouds offered little shade. He was settled on the plywood which was the makeshift roof at the moment, as it still needed to be prepped and shingled properly. Like usual it was just him, the supplies, and his nail gun.

A calm wind swept through the clearing, making its way across his bare torso and through his unkempt hair. The overheated nail gun was securing the felt paper that would help protect from leakage, and with each quick sound of the nail splintering the wood the more tension fell from him.

This house was supposed to be something to get his mind off things and a fresh start. However the more time passes, the longer he stays within this tiny town, the more agitated he gets. Years of bottled up emotion and anger were spilling over and sometimes in the most subtle ways. He went to get a coffee last week; his claws punctured the cup, and he hadn’t even realized they were out until he felt the steaming brew spill all over him.

Then there were the other times when it wasn’t so subtle.

Like the time he had been hammering the house framing together and ended up breaking three base frames in anger. He ended up beta shifting for a few days in the middle of the woods, tearing up trees and killing small animals to get all the negative energy out. By the time he had calmed down and come back his phone was practically blowing up with calls from Cora and a few other Johnston pack members. There had been a threat of her coming down to help him, but thankfully he managed to talk her out of it.

He was fine.

Even if that is the biggest lie he continues to tell himself. He’s fine.  

In the ground his car door was open, the radio turned up to some classic rock station to tune out the white noise as he worked. Roll more felt, step over, nail it in, rinse and repeat until all the roofing was covered.

When the sun was covered behind trees, inking the sky a splotchy red/orange/pink, is when he finally finished with the felt. Technically he could start on the actual shingling but he didn’t feel like being out until midnight. Wrapping the power cord around the nail gun he moved to the edge of the roof before jumping off, landing in the grass with a soft thud.


Even though Sloan can suit most needs, when it comes to specialty needs -- like building a house for example -- it lacked the resources. So when he woke up and got some food in him, he didn’t wait long before getting in his car and high tailing it south to the nearest large town. It happened to be Aspen.

Lots of tourists, lots of old buildings, and most importantly the shops he needed.

Highway 82 was pretty bland until it actually got to the city, that’s when grey scape area turns into a bustling city even outside of ski season. Lush greenery and tasteful brick buildings surrounded the area, as did the tons of cars taking up the curbs. He ended up maneuvering through the home improvement's hellish parking lot, wandering for five minutes until finding an open space way in the back.

Not that he minded the walk.

He exited the car swiftly, his heavy boots smacking against the asphalt as he walked.

Chapter Text

“Alright, well I found some cool two bedrooms in The Mission district, but they’re pretty expensive. There’s a couple in Haight-Ashbury...also, uh, expensive,” Stiles listed, looking over the map of the Bay Area of California.

Scott, who’d been settled on the hood of the Jeep glanced down to the map, “what about Berkeley? Don’t a lot of students live around there?”

“Uh, yeah. Yeah I mean we could try Knob Hill,” Stiles said moving to circle that on the map, brows furrowing before he added, “but the Jeep would probably burn through a lot of clutches.”

“You’re bringing the Jeep?”

The accusation in Scott’s tone hurt a bit, as if the Jeep hadn’t been in Scott’s picture until now. Shakily Stiles answers with, “that’s the plan, okay? No one gets left behind. Lydia’s not gonna have a problem getting into Stanford, Kira is thinking USF, Malia is….Malia is gonna figure something out. Listen the plan is perfect.”

“Or we could wait until we get into college, and then figure out where to live?” Scott suggested, the half laugh he let out was a clear indicator that he was getting tired of this conversation.

Stiles frowned, letting the red marker slip from his hand before running it through his hair. A long silence washed over them as the moon rose behind the smattering of clouds. They were at the Beacon Cliffs which overlooked Hill Valley, the city below illuminating the night sky. It was less than two days until the full moon, and less than six months before they’d be graduating and booking it to the bay.

A part of him was terrified, like going just an hour or two south wasn’t enough distance between him and that fucking tree stump. Hell he was terrified right now being in the same forest as it, but he’ll deal. It’s what he’s been doing since the start of sophomore year. Dealing. Stiles is so done with dealing when all he really needs to be doing is healing.

Piece by piece glueing himself back together, it won’t be perfect but right now he’s a hairline fracture away from putting a bullet in his brain.

Not that anyone knew that tidbit, plus his dad needed him around. Leaving the man alone would be selfish and only bring him to an even earlier grave.

“You okay dude?” Scott asked, pulling Stiles from his thoughts.

“What-,” he hesitated, “-what if I took a gap year?”

Scott arched a brow, his crooked jaw clicking a bit, “a gap year? You were just gushing about your plan and now you’re talking about a gap year?”

“That’s just it Scotty, this plan...it’s not anyone’s but mine and I’ve been planning it around all of you. I’m so terrified of losing you all that I am starting a path I don’t really want to go down,” Stiles huffed as he shoved himself off the hood of the car, walking towards the cliff to watch the bustling city below. Even to his ears he could hear an echo of the nightlife, the bright lights from the city center called to anyone foolish enough to fall prey to that kind of scene. Beacon Hills was slower, more for the average-joe who just wants a white picket fence life with a side of werewolves, kanimas, evil spirits, and cryptic emissaries.

The wind picked up, making his hoodie flap a little and in turn making him pull it closer.

“Does this have to do with Malia?”

Stiles let out a bitter laugh, shaking his head, “no. No it’s not her.”

“...the Nogit-”

Don’t ,” Stiles snapped, whipping around to eye the tree line. His owlish gaze scanned for anything; any sign of the Oni, of a freaking firefly, of his own shadow. Finally he looked back to Scott who was on his feet now, inching closer to close the distance between them. Eventually he was wrapped up in his best friend’s arms the grip almost enough to be painful.

Scott sighed, his breath meshing with the gusts of wind, “I don’t know how we got here…”

“Me being a dumbass and leading my asthmatic best bro into the woods in the dead of night only to be bitten by an Alpha werewolf?” Stiles offered only to get a smack on the back of the head.

“....but we’ve all been through shit. So if you need to go Stiles I understand, we’ll all understand,” Scott finished and pulled back so they were eye to eye. A mixture of emotions wafted from the younger guy, and Stiles didn’t need to be a werewolf to sense it. The concoction of acceptance, encouragement, and pity was clear as day and Stiles felt like choking.

All he could do was nod, twitching slightly with the sudden approval he didn’t really know what to do with. Now he’d just have to endure another six months, and if he’s done two and a half years he can do another six months.

“Let’s go to Delphina’s, curly fries and a double bacon on me?” Scott offered.

“Marry me?” Stiles asked, perking up at the offer.

Scott rolled his eyes and shoved a bit at him, “get in the car before I change my mind.”


When Stiles was seven he made a map of America’s tiniest towns. It had been for a second grade project, kind of like a “ where do you want to go when you grow up ” thing. Of course he didn’t want to be like the other kids who stuck with the basics like Hawaii, New York, and freaking space. No Stiles had to be different, so that’s how his mom ended up helping him search the tiniest towns in America.

By the time he got to present his project he had a fancy printed map sloppily glued to cardboard. It wasn’t the pride of his schooling but it certainly was the most fun project he’s ever done. Plus is was one of the last normal things he got to do with his mom before the dementia hit. All the other students were in awe as he pointed out the tiny towns he wanted to visit- which were awesomely labeled with smiley stickers -meanwhile his parents stood at the back of the classroom with matching grins.

Best project ever.

That was until a week later, the hype of the project died down, and the piece of cardboard was shoved into the attic with all of the other memorabilia crap his family stowed away. However eleven years later Stiles couldn’t help but be thankful for his family’s inability to let things go. It was that stupid tiny town map that was currently sitting shotgun, leading him anywhere but Beacon Hills.

Beacon Hills….the very place he was born and raised, the place he figured he’d stay in, the same place that was running him to the ground. Unless he was sleeping- and that was if he didn’t have nightmares for once -the weight of the world was on his shoulders, a constant bone deep ache that seemed to never fade.

He needed out and he needed out fast.  

The day he stood on stage to get his diploma was the day he told his father he was leaving. Oddly enough the only part Stiles couldn’t believe was the ease with which his father looked him dead in the eye, nodding with a “ come here son ” before hugging the life out of Stiles. At the time the scary part had been telling everyone he was leaving, but now as he watched the Beacon Hills highway sign fade in the distance the real terror set in.

According to his map a lot of west coast land had small cities, yet the thought of staying on the same coast line of Beacon Hills was enough to give him the shakes. Therefore he took off to the heartland in search of….something.

Stiles didn’t exactly know what he was looking for. He’ll address that when he figures it out.

“There you go Scotty Boy, one postcard from Utah,” Stiles muttered as he slid the flimsy piece of paper into the mailbox to be sent back to California. It was a cheesy lake picture with the bold title of “ Greetings from Garden City, Utah. Home of Bear Lake ”.

The picture didn’t to the lake justice.

In real life the lake was a much deeper blue and the greenery was actually rustic hills married with dry weed and the occasional small mammal. The sky was different too, much brighter than Beacon Hills even though he knew the sky was pretty much the same, probably nothing more than an illusory thing. Still Stiles was in awed by the beauty of the lake that, if you went far enough up it’s coast line, crossed into Idaho.

Well that and the amazing raspberry shakes this one place along the lake had.

There was a hot second where Stiles debated staying a little while longer just to enjoy the shakes and fries. Still, he had places to go and people to meet, now wasn’t the time to throw in the towel and settle in.

Turning on his heel, Stiles walked from the mailbox  and back to his Jeep. Today the sun was arched high in the sky, the elevation in this town was enough to have his skin burning with just a few minutes out without protection. Despite the Jeep lacking a working AC the shade it provided from the sun was more than a blessing.

Sure it was late September but global warming is so fucking real, ergo it’s still hot as all hell. Even with the windows rolled down and his speedometer indicating he was going a good seventy five along Interstate 70 he was still sweating through his clothes. With a groan he balanced the wheel with his knee as he stripped off his flannel, leaving him in just a tee. Personally it was one of his favorites, its bright blue color offset with a yellow print of a rubber duck on it.

Tasteful.

Hands back on the wheel he moved to turn up the radio, his head bobbing to some shitty top forty as he started making headway to the next stop on his map. A tiny speck of a town which only had maybe two thousand people back when he was seven years old, Google now telling him the population was more around three thousand.

Sitting back he sang along to Rihanna as the town of Sloan drew closer with each mile.


“Holy shit, two of you,” that was the first thing he heard when he got to the register. Usually it's someone either giving mutual silence or someone peppy trying to get your life story in the time it takes to scan and pay for the items.

Stiles froze while he put his packs of gum, bottles of water, non-name brand Pop-Tarts ( much to his chagrin ), and chips onto the conveyor belt. The last time there were two of him….

“E-Excuse me?” He stuttered, looking at the short woman in front of him.

“Two of you, two newbies within months of each other,” the woman stated like it was obvious, “we’re lucky if we get one visitor a year. This? Unheard of, also you want paper or plastic?”

It took a moment to gain his bearings from her outburst, to really comprehend what she said. Sloan must be more hidden than he’d thought, then again the road into town looked more like a hiking trail than anything else. Honestly it’s hard to miss the turnoff from the highway.

“Are you lost too? Our first guy couldn’t even use Google Maps, managed to turn himself so far around he went west instead of south, ended up here,” the woman, Lisa, asked as she finished ringing up his items which she ended up putting in plastic since she really didn’t get an answer.

Stiles cleared his throat, his chewed down fingernails scratching the back of his neck, “oh, um no not lost. I’m visiting town, part of my road trip.”

“So you waste your gas and miles coming to Sloan?” Lisa asked, leaning across the counter with her elbows propping her up.

“I’m visiting the country’s tiniest towns. Can I just have my stuff?” Stiles asked, wanting nothing more than to get out of this store, even if its interior was very charming.

Lisa rolled her eyes, “just as snippy as him. Here, that’ll be fifteen sixty.”

The price was insane but he pulled out the cash anyways, waiting for his change only to haphazardly throw it into the bag before bolting out of the shop. Sure he may have nearly collided with a jogging mother and her baby stroller but it was better than spending another second with Lisa. Regaining his footing Stiles made his way down the street to where he’d parked his car under a willow tree, entering the bed and breakfast he’d checked into beforehand.

Once in the room it was nearly pristine which made it abundantly clear on just how many visitors this town got. Sorry to say this white carpeting was about to mingle with Pop-Tart and chip dust by the end of his stay. Settling the bag on the dresser he moved to his backpack which had been lazily strewn across the bed, making a move to grab his laptop and charger from it.

Stiles stayed in the room for around an hour, transferring his Utah photos from his phone to laptop. It wasn’t for some cheesy memory album he could tell his grandkids about one day. He wasn’t going to compile a slideshow to present to his friends and family back in Beacon.

This was for him.

Because sometimes he still had trouble with dreams and reality, sometimes it was really hard to tell if he was asleep or if what he was experiencing was real. The pictures made sure, they were proof of everything he’s done in the past four months, proof that he’s awake and fine. The final 2% of the photos were being transferred when the door to his room burst open.

A kid with floppy blonde hair waltzed in like he owned the place, slurping on a blow pop; grape of all flavors.

“What the hell are you doing?” Stiles asked as the kid leaned on the bed post, the cocky looking son of a bitch taking his time to respond. His eyes narrowed at the kid, shutting his computer and shoving it to the side before standing up to face this kid. Not that he couldn’t face a fourteen year old, but still this kid had some odd confidence to him, and Stiles may or may not feel intimidated by it.

“Checking in on my family’s third customer of the year,” the kid huffed as if it was obvious, “plus Lisa told me to keep an eye out for you so….this is me keeping an eye out for you.”

“Lisa? Lisa from the town store?” Stiles asked, knowing word spread fast in towns this small, but not this fast. Besides what was so interesting about him being here for a week?

“No, Lisa from the Simpsons,” the kid rolled his eyes.

Stiles opened his mouth to retaliate, to says something snarky and witty enough to get the kid to leave. Yet he found himself chuckling at the comment instead. For the first time in a while he genuinely laughed at something and didn’t just laugh because he was expected to. It took him off guard and this was the first real sign that he was healing.

The kid looked at him with a calculating stare, “Lisa said you were kind of a jerk.”

“Well she overcharged me for like four items and hounded me for showing up in town, I think I had the right to be a bit of a jerk to her,” Stiles defended, crossing his arms. The kid looked rather unimpressed, sticking his sugary candy back into his mouth before walking around the room taking in everything from the shoes on the floor to the dust on the window sills.

The kid mentioned his family owning the place- it was clear now that the woman who checked him in had some resemblance to the kid -so he obviously wasn’t looking around to get a sense of the floor plan. Bright blue eyes glanced at the MacBook currently on the bed like the piece of technology personally offended them.

“That computer have Netflix?”

Stiles bit his lip, “and if it did?”

With a shrug the kid grabbed the snacks from the bag he’d investigated earlier and settled onto the bed. Stiles ended up closing the door to his room, moving back to sit on the bed and take a out a Pop-Tart for himself. He’s seen this before; lack of attention and excitement, the constant hunt for someone to pay attention. If anything this kid reminded him of himself when he was that age.

“Well looks like you’re gonna be watching some movies, I’m Jake by the way.”

“Stiles, now shut up and don’t eat all my Pop-Tarts.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, you paid good money for them.”

They ended up watching Captain America because they couldn’t agree on whether to watch the old or new Spider-Man movies.


Unlike Beacon Hills, which by this time in September was ridden with dead grass and ugly brown leaves, Sloan’s grass was still a rich green and the leaves were a medley of yellows, reds, and golds. The morning air was crisp in the lungs and the twilight breeze was enough to soothe people from the day’s events.

Stiles wasn’t going to lie, it was really nice this time of year. Especially here in Sloan. That being said he only had two more days here until he went south for the winter in search of more tiny towns. Admittedly this was probably going to be the town he missed most.

Jake had been pretty cool too, their initial movie marathon going on until well into the night when the owner who had checked him in prior rushed in to usher Jake out. The next morning the woman gave him breakfast in bed as an apology. The days until now had been spent exploring the woods that surrounded the town, swimming in a small creek he’d found, buying a ton of keychains because some of them happened to be super cool.

Thankfully that Lisa chick hadn’t been there when he bought them.

Other than that he did manage to have some memorable mexican the other night, a place near the local hardware store that made a killer pico de gallo and al pastor. Not that he was some mexican connoisseur but he did leave a hefty tip.

Currently he was walking down Main- the only substantial road in this town -trying to get his point about community college to Lydia over text; and failing. Various town’s people were walking around this afternoon, parents with their children. Children with their pets. Pets with their owners. Between the dodging of people and vigorous texting he almost didn’t catch the “ did you hear about how Hale paid Oscar in full for his forest land ?” a couple mentioned a few feet behind him.

Stiles froze, his phone nearly falling from his fingertips at the...oddly perfect name and situation put together. Turning on the worn heel of his chucks he walked double time to catch up with the couple.

“Hey-,” he called out, tapping the guy’s shoulder, “-excuse me.”

The two hand in hand turned around both giving him curious looks.

“Yes?” The woman said, her free hand resting on her heavily pregnant stomach.

“You mentioned the name Hale who lives out in the woods,” Stiles started before adding, “it wouldn’t happen to be a man with a serious brooding face and a leather jacket? First name Derek?”

The man nodded, “actually yeah. He moved into town back in late June, ended up buying Monty’s land in the woods in early July, up by the trails--.”

Suddenly the D.H on Jake’s baseball cards and Lisa’s mention of a man who couldn’t use google maps made sense.

Stiles didn’t know if it was the heat or the cotton currently in his ears but suddenly he couldn’t hear anything . The air was chalky and uncomfortable on his tongue, and his limbs felt heavy. He didn’t even wait until the couple finished whatever they had been saying, his feet already propelling him back to his car. Blindly he reached for the handle and threw himself into the seat. The leather seats offered little to no comfort for him to sink into and the car’s stagnant air wasn’t helping. His keys dug uncomfortably in his palms but eventually ended up in the ignition, the Jeep’s engine roaring to life as he tore down the road.

The trees casted intricate sun shadows against the trail, their colors basked everything in an amber glow. The faint hum of the radio cut in and out with static the further he drove. In the rear view mirror he caught the sight of the dust his tires kicked up. Dewy patches of bluegrass lined the trail, the blades vibrating as his car passed.

All of the sensory details distracted him from the mild panic that had built up.

There was a sudden bend in the trail, an ancient sign that read “Monty’s” was nailed to one of the trees. Stiles turned down the road and though he’d been driving for a good ten minutes it took less than two until he reached a break in the trees.

In front of him was a large clearing, the surrounding trees and thick underbrush creating a solitary atmosphere. Emerald grass covered everything but a gravel driveway and riverstone walkway...which led to a lavish house.

Stiles sat in his Jeep, mouth agape as his eyes scanned over the exterior.  

It was two stories, and while not some modern feat, its rustic style fit perfectly. Massive windows covered the house, olive green siding complemented the light wood finishes. Stone pillars held up the porch overhang which was adorned with a wooden swing. With little hesitation he cut the engine and jumped out of car.

Finally his eyes caught sight of a car, which not only signaled that Derek was probably here but also at some point had given up the Camaro. Stiles sputtered a bit, glaring at the monstrosity of a car. However it didn’t take long until his attention was caught by something else. Loud footsteps echoed from the open front door.

The last time they saw each other was a year and some months ago. Admittedly this Derek was already so different. His beard was thicker and his hair wasn’t spiked up with copious amounts of gel. The usual dark henley was replaced with a soft looking sweater -- this one had fucking thumb holes . Another thing that was noticeably different was the lack of tension the man held in his shoulders. There was an unusual calmness, and in the back of his mind Stiles couldn’t help but be a little envious.

Stiles opened his mouth -- say something, anything -- but nothing came out.

“This is private property,” Derek deadpanned.

Chapter Text

He was ahead of schedule, by a month or so to be exact.

What used to be the old and worn shack was now a near finished house. The exterior was done as was the landscaping which wasn’t technically supposed to be done until at least October. Then again, it was probably for the best considering it wouldn’t be long until it started snowing. All that needed to be done now was the flooring to be installed, the appliances needed to be delivered, and eventually he’d need to order furniture.

Then again he wasn’t much good at interior design; maybe Cora could come down and help him out, or at the very least Skype with him while he shopped online.

Today had been a good day all things considered, he had even managed to get into town for lunch. Other than that, Derek managed to finish painting the last room. Now, as the sun was near setting, he opted to take the rest day to sit back and relax. Near the back of the house where the  deck was, sat a screened room. While not originally a part of the plan he added the screens to keep the bugs away.

He remembers vividly how much he hated them as a kid, how swarms of them would get in his face and in his mouth. Laura and Cora would always tease him about it; how he was a werewolf scared of bugs. Of course at the end of the day his mom would tell the girls to knock it off before holding him tight telling him it was okay to be scared of things, even bugs.

Eventually he got a bottle of water from the cooler and made himself comfortable on the floor of the deck. His gaze raked across the expanse of grassy area around the house. A pair of squirrels along the treeline raced up the trees and a single cloud settled low in the sky. With a deep breath he cracked the seal on the water and downed half the bottle in one go.

A slight breeze made the leaves rustle in the distance.

For a while it was just that, the relaxing sounds of the outdoors and the soothing rotations of the fan above. That was until a car came into earshot; a low grumbling rattle he’d pegged as a larger animal was now nearing and was so clearly a car. However, for some reason or another, the car engine was familiar but something he couldn’t quite place at the same time.

Regardless he wasn’t expecting anyone.

On his feet Derek walked through the house, his boots smacking against the unfinished floors as he waited by the front window, all the while trying to pinpoint the engine sound. It was when the car was only yards away from the break in the tree line that he could hear everything clearly.

A jackrabbit heartbeat, harsh breathing, and horrible static radio. Now the pungent smell of car exhaust wafted into the house via the open door. It was that same smell that had burnt his nose two years back, the sour smell of gas and leaking oil only doubled by slightly burning duct tape.

It was Stiles.

Stiles was supposed to be in college or something, back in California, or at least anywhere but Sloan Colorado. His chest tightened severely, but not enough to have him running away. This is what this house was for, this is why he put roots here, because he was tired of running. If anything, Stiles stumbled on this town by accident and found out about him.

The sound of the Jeep cutting off and the sudden smell of too much caffeine and anise was enough to have him walking towards the front door. It was only seconds before he crossed the point of no return, standing awkwardly within the door jam and in plain sight; then again so was Stiles.

His hair was longer but not my much, and for the most part nothing seemed to be that different than maybe an inch on his height. Amber eyes stared him down and Derek almost felt the need to shy away from it, like the gaze was rough and scrutinizing.

He swallowed the thought and cleared his throat. “this is private property.”

Stiles laughed, laughed so hard he needed to lean on his car and for whatever reason the sound alone had him swooning a bit. The soft ambiance of the woods had nothing on Stiles’s laugh; it’s what coaxed a laugh out of him as well, granted it was much softer but a laugh nonetheless.

After what seemed like a good minute of laughter they both seemed to get their heads on straight and suddenly the weight of the situation hit them like bricks. Or, it did for Derek at least.

“It’s...been a while,” Derek said, scratching at the scruff under his chin.

“A year and a half,” Stiles answered immediately before adding, “give or take. Ya know I wasn’t really keeping count.”

He shrugged- mostly, because he didn’t know how to respond to that. Apparently neither did Stiles, because for a long time they just stood there awkwardly, both of them finding the ground rather interesting. The wind picked up gradually; leaves cascading from the branches to the ground, and along with it came the sudden scent of ozone and sulfur. It had Derek reeling a bit, his nose burning and stinging violently as he tried to pick up where it had come from.

He double checked himself when he got his answer; it was Stiles.

It was clear as day, how the gritty sulfuric smell wove in with anxiety, warmth, and something else Derek couldn’t quite place. These negative smells just wafted off Stiles like a storm and he just wanted to….fix it.

“You wanna see the rest? Of the house, I mean,” Derek offered, pointing back towards the house.

The younger man looked up from his shoes almost hesitant in his mannerisms before jerkily nodding his head, “uh, yeah sure. Sure.” For an awkward moment Derek almost thought Stiles changed his mind, but Stiles only reached into his car to grab his phone and keys, not to leave. A breath he may or may not have been holding left his chest, shoulders falling into a relaxed position as he led Stiles into the house .

It still smelled of sawdust and fresh paint.

“It’s not much yet, the floors need to be put in and there isn’t any furniture other than a blow up mattress I bought a while back,” Derek said, as if trying to justify having a half finished home. Not that he needed the validation because, as far as he was concerned, he was fine and ahead of schedule.

Much to his word Stiles did see the rest of the house; from the kitchen down to what would be the laundry room. Along the way there were varying degrees of noises coming from Stiles, most either curious or pleased. No real conversation was passed until they made it full circle back to the kitchen.

“Your house is beautiful, probably costs more than my liver and kidneys,” Stiles said, his hip leaning against the counter.

Derek couldn’t help but smirk, “probably, but the land makes up most of the value anyways…”

“Still, it’s amazing. You and Cora have done a good job on it.”

“Cora doesn’t live here, we separated up north in Minnesota. She mated a beta from another pack,” Derek clarified, an ache blossomed in his chest at the mention of his sister. More often than not he found himself missing her; and at a fundamental level he knew the sibling bond was there, but he missed the pack bond that no longer was.

Stiles’ eyebrows arched at that, “she’s eighteen and already...uh, mated ?”

“It’s not uncommon to mate that young for werewolves,” he shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest and let himself lean onto the counters as well.

“Good for her, she must be happy,” Stiles said.

“Yeah.”

And after a moment, “are you happy?”

Derek paused, the question heavy on his shoulders as it lingered between them. He didn’t know how to answer that because objectively; yes. There was this house, Cora was mated, he wasn’t being crushed by the crippling weight of Beacon Hills. Subjectively he wasn’t; it got lonely sometimes even for him, technically he is an Omega even if he never really declined Scott’s offer to join his pack, and more than anything else he still doesn’t feel like he’s really done any healing. But Stiles looked like he was a fish out of water, mouth opening and closing around words and even flailing a little bit. It was then that the same dangerous ozone copper smell rose again, it’s harsh metallic smell making the hairs at the nape of his neck stand up.

“Yes,” he said with finality which got Stiles to calm down, “I’m happy.”

Stiles shut his mouth with a jerky nod, scratching the back of his head which Derek knew was more of an impulsive habit than anything. Just like he knew how Stiles biting at his lips or the inside of his cheek meant he had something to say but wasn’t going to.

“So how did you find me? Or this town even?” He asked, doing his best to put the awkward subject to the back burner.

“Well I wasn’t really looking for you, I just happened to stumble upon you,” Stiles said, “and for Sloan...I’m taking a trip across the country for a year, to the smallest towns. Sloan was on the map so: here I am.”

It was almost funny. Almost.

Derek had no intention of even finding Sloan, yet Stiles had purposely taken that Route 71 exit. He wasn’t that hard headed, he could see the comedy of the situation.

“The country’s smallest towns?” Derek asked.

“I wanted to do something different,” Stiles answered as if that had been obvious, “I think next up is Creede. Just south of here, smaller than Sloan.”

“Smaller?”

“I think they only have four hundred people who live there year round,” Stiles said and Derek felt his eyebrows shoot up. Sloan was small, a little over three thousand people and already everyone was in everyone’s business. Anything smaller and he’d be better off living under the same roof as everyone; no privacy whatsoever. Obviously, the terrorizing thoughts over this translated to his face because Stiles was laughing again.

“Don’t you love isolation? Wouldn’t Creede be right up your alley?”

Derek shook his head, brows pinched, “I wasn’t always solitary, and even now I still enjoy people.”

“Hmmm, whatever you say Big Guy,” Stiles mused before once again biting at his lip.

“It’s true,” he found himself saying in defence, “I threw the biggest 10th birthday party in the fourth grade. Proof I once wasn’t so...withdrawn.”

“I wouldn’t say withdrawn so much as introverted. Plus, that example is ancient.”

With a huff Derek answered with, “I spent six months with Cora’s pack. That recent enough?”

“I don’t know, you could’ve spent six months holed up in a room away from everyone,” Stiles fought.

“Guess you’ll have to find it in yourself to trust me.”

“Guess I will,” Stiles answered immediately.

If Derek had been playing baseball, he wouldn’t have expected that curve ball. It hasn’t been long since Stiles was the one suggesting death and arrest towards Derek. While things like the pool and Boyd’s death could contradict that, it didn’t mean he and Stiles were necessarily on trusting terms. That usually only came to play when it was life or death.

Talking in an unfinished kitchen wasn’t exactly life or death.

“So...um, I should probably get back to town. I saw this Mexican joint yesterday I wanted to try out and it’s getting pretty close to dinner anyways--”

“Ask for a grilled tortilla with lime, best thing you’ll ever have,” Derek suggested, knowing the exact place Stiles was mentioning. By now the owner knew his exact order down to the usual time Derek called in for pick-up. He knew the ups and downs of the food there; knew that the pico de gallo is a little acidic for anyone with tastebuds but knew the al pastor was probably the best thing on the menu.  

Stiles smiled a genuine smile, “yeah. I’ll try it out...or, ya know, you could always tag along? Guide me through the perfect Mexican feast?”

“No,” he said before he could bring much thought to it, and Stiles visibly deflated, “no, I mean, I just have a lot of work to do here.”

The younger man nodded, obviously a little stung by Derek’s response, “sure that’s cool. I probably have to call Scott and my dad later anyways.”

That was a shitty play-off if Derek’s ever seen one, but he didn’t dwell on it. He signalled Stiles to follow him back to the front of the house, both of them taking in a fresh breath of air once they stepped to the porch. There was suddenly a lot left unsaid and for whatever reason it made a pit settle in the bottom of his stomach.

When was Stiles leaving town? Is this the last time they were going to talk? When the fuck did Stiles start trusting him?

Of course these questions were going to stay unanswered because Stiles’ keys rattling and the man actually moving away settled it. Derek watched Stiles’ back as he walked to the Jeep, the tightness that was high strung in his shoulders and the spicy smell of dissatisfaction lingered. Obviously whatever this trip meant to Stiles, whatever seeing Derek meant to Stiles, didn’t really have the outcome intended.

They weren’t here to be friends. He was settling and building a home for himself. Stiles was simply passing through.

“Hey Derek!”

“Huh?”

Stiles pointed to the left and Derek followed the direction which landed on his car. Of course.

“Although you can pull off a dad car I gotta say the Camaro suited you a lot better,” Stiles said, halfway into his own car.

Derek shrugged, “the Camaro just didn’t have the mileage.”

“Mmhm, whatever you say. Good luck on the house Derek,” Stiles said before settling into the Jeep, it’s door shutting with a loud squeal. The engine sputtered to life and all too soon he was watching as the tail lights vanished into the trees. He turned on his heel and walked back into the house, shutting the front door for the night before collapsing against it.

Stiles’ final words sounded too much like a goodbye.

Derek figured he could use a few hours of angry floor installations.


Stiles’ final words were not a goodbye.

“I, Stiles Stilinski, call forth Derek Hale for one mexican food delivery,” is what he woke up to at seven in the morning.

The lack of blinds in his room had harsh morning light reflecting violently on the light colored walls. With a groan he threw his arms over his head, stretching his sleep heavy limbs out as the blanket fell a little and exposed his skin to the cold air. Derek sat up, the air mattress creaking uncomfortably as he did. Simultaneously he wiped the crust off his eyes and moved to grab a shirt and shorts.

Eventually he made it downstairs to the front door, feet protesting against the unfinished concrete beneath them. His hand grasped the chilled door knob, wrenching the door open to see Stiles there with a familiar take out box in his hand. He was in a worn Beacon Hills police hoodie and jeans which in turn made Derek feel a little inadequate in just a thin shirt and basketball shorts.

“It’s seven in the morning,” Derek greeted with.

And while Stiles seemed relatively positive a second ago, his words must’ve drained all of that away. Stiles deflated a little and uncharacteristically shrunk into himself.

“Oh, uh I didn’t really think to check the time,” Stiles said with a nervous huff, his teeth opting to gnaw at his lips as his hands gripped the box tightly, “plus I didn’t really peg you for a “ sleep past six ” kind of guy.”

Derek almost allowed himself to huff in amusement at the fact Stiles thought he was an early riser. In fact, before the fire, he’d enjoyed sleeping in. Now it was more of an old habit than anything else. He let himself take a step to the side, motioning for Stiles to come in instead of staying out in the cold dewy morning. There was a brief pause of hesitation before they were both inside and the door was shut.

“So I didn’t really see a fridge...or a stove for that matter, and I totally took your recommendation on the order last night and the owner put it together that you gave me the tip. Anyways they mentioned your favorite thing to order and then I just kind of--” Stiles rambled, as if trying to justify bringing by food.

Derek grabbed the box and set it on the kitchen counter, opening it to expose an order of lime tortilla al pastor tacos with extra guacamole. By now he wasn’t surprised that his order was more or less memorized by the cooks and owner. The lack of appliances made eating out a constant.

“Thank you,” he cut Stiles off, promptly taking a bite.

It seemed to appease Stiles, enough to have his scent calm down to a warm spice rather than a thunderstorm. However, it didn’t take long for him to put Stiles on the back burner while he savored the food before him. Before he knew it he was taking his last bite, his hands were a mess of juices and toppings, and Stiles looked a little more smug than what one would consider casual.

“Enjoy it?”

“Shut up.”

Stiles rolled his eyes, shoving his hands into his hoodie pocket while he remained standing a few feet away. It made him feel slightly uncomfortable and on edge, but he made no move to break the tension. Even as he went to throw away the box and clean up the slight mess he made Stiles just spectated; stood there impassively, stature rigid and awkward.

It’s like the air in the room was being sucked out slowly and neither of them really knew what to do about it.

There was a time when Derek wanted nothing more than a still and silent Stiles; no constant flailing and word vomit. Because of Stiles he knew too many random facts about the male circumcision and hypothermia - which he really had no use for since he wasn’t affected by either of those things - but now all he wanted was to know more. He wanted the constant fizzle of energy in the room and the ear splintering laughs. Derek wanted anything but this ...whatever this was.

“So-?”

“Do-?"

They both paused, looking at one another with saucer like eyes. When Stiles began to stutter out an apology Derek shook his head, stopping the younger man in his tracks.

“Don’t apologize, you’re fine, what were you going to say?” Derek prompted.

“Uh, I was just gonna get out of your hair-- I guess, I mean I wasn’t sure if you’d even really accept the food so I really didn’t plan this far…” Stiles trailed off, his fingers playing with a loose thread on his pocket as a distraction.

“You could always help me install floors?” Derek offered.

“Yes,” Stiles responded before quickly adding, “sure...yeah, I got time.”

This is how they ended up; hunched over in the living room pounding the wood panels into place before nailing them in. Of course Derek had expected to solo this build the whole way and only had one nail gun. He gave it to Stiles, which in hindsight might not have been the best idea, but so far so good. They went in tandem, he led and put the planks together and Stiles trailed behind to nail them in place.

Although it was unusual and a bit awkward having someone working with him, the companionable silence wasn’t terrible nor was the sped up work process. By the time mid afternoon rolled around they were both hungry and a little sweaty, but they’d made huge progress. Majority of the living room was done, void of the steps that led past the fireplace. They only had a few more panels to do at this point and they’d already gotten into a steady rhythm.

This was when Derek regretted ever giving Stiles the nail gun.

There was the usual smacking of the gun going off, but this time followed by a yelp. Out of the corner of his eye he watched as Stiles scrambled away, dropping the gun and falling backwards. The harsh sound of fabric tearing was the last sound echoed before silence washed over them.

“Oops?”

Stiles was flat on his back, his shirt split from where he’d nailed it into the floor. Pale beauty marked skin and rosy nipples pebbled at the cold air, a splotchy red blush slowly making an appearance. A soft trail of dark hair ran from his belly button downwards past the top of his jeans. His mouth was dry all of a sudden, his own face feeling red hot. Derek tore his eyes away, flickering up to Stiles’ face which looked more than embarrassed.

“I...I managed to nail my shirt,” Stiles huffed, his hands pulling his shirt back across his chest as if to cover himself up for modesty's sake.

Derek raised an eyebrow, “I see that. Come on, I can get you another one.”

“You don’t have to--”

“Do you want to go shirtless?” Derek asked.

Stiles paused, jaw snapping shut and shook his head before standing up. Derek stood up as well, dropping his tools to lead Stiles upstairs, their feet marching in sync as they went. The air was tainted with the unpleasant zest of nervousness. He didn’t say anything even as they turned the corner into the hall that lead to his bedroom, knowing there was little he could say to calm Stiles’ obvious embarrassment.

Opening the door he headed towards the small folded pile of clothes beside the blowup mattress, grabbing a plain black shirt to give to Stiles.

“Here, this should fit,” Derek said and handed it over.

Stiles used one hand to keep his ripped shirt covering him and the other grabbed the new one, but his gaze was transfixed on the room instead. “This yours?”

“Well I mean technically this whole house is mine,” Derek said flatly.

“You know what I mean.”

“Yes, this will be my room once it’s furnished,” he answered with a small nod.

The young man made a small humming sound, looking a little impressed. For whatever reason that made his chest puff up in pride, like Stiles’ approval was important. At the end of the day this was just a bedroom. With that he turned on his heel and walked to the door telling Stiles he’d be back downstairs, giving him space to change comfortably. True to his word he went back downstairs, quickly finishing the rest of the flooring in the room considering it was close to being done.

Even then Stiles wasn’t out yet, but it didn’t worry him, he could hear everything that was going on. Specifically he could hear the erratic heartbeat and thumbs pressing rhythmically against a phone screen. Derek put away the flooring tools, wrapping up the cords neatly and making sure everything was in its place.

Finally, just as he was about to go check and see if something was wrong, Stiles appeared at the top of the stairwell. He was practically swimming in the shirt, the black material threatening to swallow him whole. Apparently the younger man knew it too because he fiddled with the hem of it nervously.

Derek didn’t know what he missed while he was busy running with Cora, but whatever happened back in Beacon must’ve been rough on Stiles. Then again, it’s been a year and a half; he had no right to just ask what had Stiles all anxious and stressed.

“Better?” Derek asked, not wanting the silence to linger any longer.

Stiles nodded, descending the staircase, “yeah, much better.”

“That’s good--”

He was cut off by the shrill ringing on his computer back in the kitchen, the Skype call tone echoing through the empty house. The two of them just stood there for a moment, eyes locked in a more or less “ what do we do? ” moment. Instead of letting them wallow in awkwardness he nodded towards the kitchen, quickly walking over as to not miss the call.

The computer was flipped open, the screen blue with Cora’s picture plastered on it as well.

“You have a computer?” Stiles asked, a smirk on his face.

“I’m not eighty,” Derek retorted.

“But you can be archaic. I mean, Lisa told me you couldn’t even use Google Maps.”

“Shut up.”

With a roll of his eyes Derek trailed his finger over the mousepad, clicking the accept call button and waiting for the connection to go through. Stiles was on the other side of the counter, elbows braced on the dark counter tops, away from the camera.

Before he could ask if Stiles even wanted to say hi Cora’s pixilated face showed up, a warm smile on her face. Behind her Marie and Michael gave him a wave and a quick hello, asking how he’s been. Derek of course gave a short story of everything he’s been doing.

“--I just need the luxury things now--”

Derek a couch isn’t a luxury item ,” Cora teased.

Stiles stifled a laugh in the background.

“This whole house thing is new to me, let me go at my own pace,” Derek snapped at her, but there wasn’t much heat behind it. It was then when two identical squeals followed by a small happy cry came from the other end. Suddenly Jasmine and Jessica were nearly shoving Cora off her seat in a rush to say hello. The twins did their best to out voice each other, Derek only snickering when the two ended up fighting over who got to say hi first.

In the end Michael and Marie escorted the two out of the room, leaving Cora and the computer. Another cry came from the room which had his sister picking up Nick; the once small baby who enjoyed chewing doll’s heads, now almost two years old.

Der !”

“Hey Nick, you being good for everyone?”

Yea !”

Cora shook her head playfully from behind him mouthing a no in response to his yes. Derek bit back a small laugh, his eyes flickering back to Stiles who was watching with a hard look on his face. Derek ignored him.

Come back ?”

“Maybe for Christmas bud,” Derek offered.

Otay, buh-bye ,” Nick said halfheartedly as something else must’ve grabbed his attention, the child rushing off camera to go to it. Cora shook her head and scooted closer, her brown eyes filled with a scrutinizing look. Derek raised an eyebrow at her, cocking his head backwards in question

So...you gonna tell me who’s with you ?” Cora asked.

“It’s not my decision, if they want to say hi they can. If not I’m not gonna say anything , ” Derek answered honestly, gaze glancing back to Stiles who seemed stiff with worry. Nothing needed to be said because the human was circling the island towards the camera frame. He stepped over a spot to let him in, watching as he awkwardly shuffled over and offered a wide eyed Cora a wave.

“Congrats on the whole mating thing, by the way,” Stiles said.

Cora sat on the other line for a good moment, just wide eyed and staring blankly. It was disconcerting to say the least, he and Stiles had time to exchange a worried look before looking back to the screen. Cora’s shocked expression morphed into anger, her eyebrows overly expressive.

What the fuck?! Stiles gets to see the house before I do? That is so not fair you asshole! ” Cora screamed, her eyes flashing on camera in a weird way before calming down enough to add, “ and hi, Stiles. Thanks, Mikey is pretty great.

Derek scrubbed a hand across his face when he registered what his sister just called Michael, and Stiles just laughed, eyes scrunched up from the force of it. He ignored how his stomach swooped.

“Sorry- if it helps, I didn’t mean to find Derek or his cool house,” Stiles said.

As long as you come for Christmas too we’ll call it even .”

“It’s not like that.” Derek said the same time Stiles said “Sure.”

The room was silent, the tense atmosphere making it hard to breathe. Once again the thick smell of ozone and thunder rolled off Stiles, the pale skin of his face turning beet red. Derek tried and failed many times to come up with something that could reverse what he’d said. It was more of him saying Stiles was traveling and wasn’t staying right now. Not him saying Stiles could not and should not come to Christmas.

A part of him found that thought comforting, like Stiles being there would make being with the Johnston’s more bearable.

“Uh...yeah, it’s not-- it’s not like that,” Stiles tripped on his own words, reaching for the keys on the counter, “it was good talking to you, Cora but I have to uh, get some laundry done before I take off to the next city. Bye, Derek.”

And just like that Stiles was all but running out of there like staying a second longer would kill him. Derek watched as Stiles left, his mouth parted in shock, suddenly not used to the spot next to him being vacant. From the computer Cora made an irritated sound, waving her hands around angrily.

You’re a fucking idiot--

“You don’t think I know that? I’ll call you later,” Derek growled at her, slamming his computer shut a little too harshly.

He didn’t even realize he was storming out of the house; his shoes left on the back porch, his shirt and pants thrown onto the grass without a care. The pull on his skin was painful as it shifted into stark black fur. Within him his bones cracked and contorted into their more lupine state. His fingers popped and his nails elongated into razor like claws. Within seconds he was on all four paws, spine bristled in frustration.

Without so much as a second thought his paws dug into the grass and topsoil as he took off into the woods, leaping and bounding through the underbrush and past trees. The world was bleak and he didn’t stop to take in its beauty like usual.

Fuck. He didn’t even understand where his body was taking him until he finally heard the sound of the town along with the loud rumble of the Jeep. Derek skidded to a halt, nearly tripping over himself to stop before he broke the tree line. Growling low in his throat he watched through the bushes only to spot Stiles’ car turn onto the road, several people stopping to gasp at the speed in which the car was going.

Derek whined, tail tucking between his legs as he turned back, howling as he darted deep into the forest.

Chapter Text

Creede wasn’t what Stiles needed.

It was small, lonely, and only 291 miles away from Derek Hale.

Stiles remembers vividly how disappointed Jake was when he rushed into the bed and breakfast, claiming he needed to leave. The kid gave him a baseball card as a goodbye gift, Stiles gave him the last of his PopTarts. The five hour drive south didn’t do him well either, he’d been tired and wounded from the day’s events.

The five hour drive gave him time to just dwell on the last time he saw Derek. It was his rearview mirror that caught the steel blue glint in the treeline, but it was Stiles who saw the inky fur and elongated snout. Derek had shifted, almost walked out into the middle of a population of people all because Stiles ran off.

Fucking ridiculous.

It’s been a week. Mostly, Stiles has been stuck in his motel room not enjoying the small town for its small treasures.  Rather he’s been watching shitty old movies, calling Scott, and doing his best to enjoy the alligator jerky he found at a gag gift store a few miles back. It was pathetic and Lydia even texted him to get his head out of his ass and enjoy his illogical gap year.

They...who were they to tell him what to do? He found Derek Hale. Derek, the guy who slammed him into steering wheels and walls. Derek, the guy who threatened to rip his throat out with his teeth on several occasions. Derek, the guy who has saved his life and vice versa. Derek, the guy Stiles is pretty sure he’s been kind of in love with since Jackson’s cold blooded phase.

He could mope if he wanted to.

It’s not like that just kept ringing in his head like a song on repeat. Stiles was so stupid; sure Derek may have found his place to settle and heal, but that didn’t mean he liked Stiles. He was probably annoying the hell out of the guy-- he brought him mexican food at the ass crack of dawn!

Stiles almost hates himself for thinking about abandoning his mom’s map and staying in Sloane.

Almost.

His thoughts were interrupted when a knock came from his door, followed by, “Sir, if you want to stay another night you have to pay for it!”

“Yeah, sure, just add it to the bill or whatever,” Stiles called back before letting his head fall back into the pillow. Its plush feathers caught his head with ease, allowing him to sink into it and just forget everything. By Christmas he’ll be on the east coast, by spring he’ll be up north, and by summer he’ll be back home prepping for Berkeley in the fall.

None of that had Derek in the equation.

Stiles frowned; listening as the footsteps past the door trotted away, ignoring the yellow light coming from the side table as he fell asleep, still numb from it all..

❉❉❉

...“Promise to be gentle with her?”

Stiles looked up to his father, nodding with his chest puffed out, “I promise Dad! I’ll be like super gentle, like always.”

His dad’s hand reached out and ruffled his floppy hair with an “I know you will kiddo” before turning to open the hospital door. Stiles followed his father into the white room, the smell of icky chemicals hitting his nose, and the sound of the heart machine going ‘beep-beep-beep’. By now Stiles was used to it and knew that this wasn’t about him, this was about Mom and their time together. Passing the curtain she sat on the bed, her legs crossed and covered with brightly colored yellow socks.

Those were her favorite.

“Hi Mama!” Stiles smiled, his tongue poking out from where his two front teeth were missing. He remembers how sad his mom was when he lost them, something about how she was the Tooth Fairy which was just silly because the Tooth Fairy lived up north with Santa Claus. Since she really thought she was the Tooth Fairy, Stiles went with it and promised to give her his next tooth instead.

His mom looked up from where she was playing with a deck of cards, a confused look on her face.

“Claud," his dad said carefully, “it’s me. John, your husband and Stiles, our son. Remember?”

Stiles bit his lower lip, worried it would be one of the days she really didn’t remember him. Except...no...it wasn’t because she gave them a sad smile like she always did when she remembered them. Her eyes got all wet and watery as she nodded, patting the spot on the bed beside her.

“Goodness, I’m sorry...things just come and go sometimes. I don’t mean to forget, you both know that right?” His mom asked, her small hand pushing her dark hair behind her ear.

Stiles took off his shoes and crawled up onto the bed, setting the map onto the table.

“I know Mama,” Stiles nodded, “but remember when you helped me with my map for school? This one right here with the smiley face stickers nurse McCall bought for me?”

His dad pulled up a chair beside the bed, grabbing the TV remote from beside Mom who gave him a raised look. “Don’t worry baby, we can chat later, go ahead and spend time with Stiles. I can watch the news with subtitles.”

“Can you read it without your glasses?” His mom teased and Dad let out a laugh, holding her hand.

“That’s for me to know and you to watch me struggle with,” he  joked.

Stiles giggled, wiggling up closer as his mom wrapped an arm around him asking him all about the map. Then...then he was off! He told her all about how the class never even heard of all these places and how Mr. Brooks was so impressed he was given an extra gold star on the board and a lollipop. Even though it was grape and his least favorite flavor he didn’t let it go to waste and gave it to Scott.

“Remind me my love, who’s Scott?” Mom asked, a blank look in her eyes.

“Only like my bestest friend in the whole wide world! He moved here when I was in kindergarten, his mom Melissa is your nurse sometimes!” Stiles said as if it was obvious, a little disappointed she didn’t remember.

Her face hardened, thin eyebrows pulling together as she flinched away from him, “you don’t need to be a little brat about it just because I don’t--!”

“Claudia!” His dad hissed, pulling on her hand. “He didn’t mean it like that and you know it. Please don’t get upset at him.”

Stiles felt his breath stop for a moment, whimpering when she started to yell at him. He hated it when she yelled at him; ever since she got sick she started to do it. Dad always says she loves him and that she can’t help it. Her brain isn’t working right when she yells, but she never used to yell at him. Even when he did something bad; like shove a crayon up Jackson’s nose in first grade and got sent home for it.

His mom frowned, rubbing her forehead, “I’m still upset, John. He just thinks he can say whatever he wants! I don’t remember! I’m mad that I don’t! Who is Scott? Melissa...Melissa who? He treats me like I’m stupid!”

“Mama! No! I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry Mama!” Stiles gasped, lower lip wobbling as he leaned into her side. His dad stood up, grabbing Stiles’ bottle of cola and the map, about to tell him to wait in the hall when small arms held him close and small cries were pressed into his hair along with kisses peppered to his face.  

“‘M sorry my sweet boy, ‘m sorry I’m not a good mom anymore--”

“I love you anyway!” Stiles cried, holding her tight and buried his face into her chest, “you’re the best Mama ever.”

...and then she just let go again and Stiles blinked away tears, huffing a bit as he pulled back to look at her. Her big brown eyes looked down at him, head tilting a bit in confusion. All her tears were gone.

“Who are you again?”

Stiles froze before he let out a scream, flailing his body around angrily. She didn’t remember! She was just there! She was just holding him like she used to. Bigger hands held him, pulling him off the bed and against a hard chest. Stiles felt his face all red and hot; legs kicking all about because he didn’t know what he did wrong!

Did she not love him?

Did she not want to remember him?

“Mam--Mama!” He wailed, shoving against his dad to get back to her.

He could hear her calling for a nurse, and he heard people running past him and his dad into her room. Sobs hurt his throat as he just kept screaming past them, wanting his old Mama back. The one who would tuck him in when Dad was on a night shift as a super cool deputy. The one who made yummy Italian sweets because she liked spoiling her family and neighbors. The one who wasn’t mean and who wasn’t sick.

“Son--”

“No! No! NO! Wan’ Mama!!” Stiles screamed, punching as he was set on the ground.

“Stiles!” His dad yelled, shaking him a bit.

“Wha-? W-Wha-?” He wheezed, using the back of his hands to wipe at his eyes so he could see his dad clearly. The old man looked oh-so sad, tears in his own eyes. When he started counting Stiles did too, breathing in and out just like his dad told him to. His chest felt better when he did as told.

They looked at each other for a long time, and Stiles went into to give him a hug...but his father held him back, giving him the same blank stare Mama did.

“Who are you again?”

Stiles shook his head, backing away this time, watching as his dad stood up and went back into the room, slamming the door behind him. A wail came from him as he ran back to the room, tugging at the metal handle but just couldn’t get it open. It felt like forever he screamed at his parents to open the door for him, to let him in again.

Yet something told him to run away, to leave, so he did. He ran down the halls, the lights above flickering violently as he tore down them. He went to the elevator, opening it only to see these scary ninja looking guys with huge swords pointed at him. Between them was this nasty looking guy with all these yucky bandages all around him. Stiles shivered and stepped back, hitting the hospital wall behind him.

“Let us in Stiles,” the middle guy purred, “let us in like your parents wouldn’t.”

Shaking his head Stiles ran down the hall, away from the three scary men and into the stairwell. The door was heavy and he managed to open it, shutting it behind him before going up rather than down. Why? He wasn’t sure but eventually he was on the roof, the night wind strong and loud. The door slammed shut by itself behind him, locking him out of the hospital.

“No! No-no-no, open it!” Stiles cried, banging on it but stopped when he heard loud growls. He let out a small scream and ran away from the glowing eyes, stopping when he realized there was nowhere he could go.

“Please stop,” he muttered, looking down to himself when his voice sounded deeper.

He was older now, his real age, not a little seven year old. Swallowing the lump in his throat he looked back up, Lydia stepping from the ominous shadows that was just beyond the service door light. Her strawberry blonde hair was matted and caked in blood, falling off in sickening chunks. Her usual porcelain skin lacked a pink tint and held an unhealthy blue, as if she’d been outside for too long. Everything about her looked decayed and wrong.

“Lyd--”

Her head flung back as she screamed, her shriek deafening for minutes until she finally stopped and collapsed and vanished into nothingness. Stiles didn’t realize whose death she was predicting until Derek stalked from the shadows as well, eyes red and void of emotion.

“Derek?”

The wolf growled, shoving at him hard enough to knock him back. He fell on his ass, his head smacking against the side of the roof. His head exploded in pain and his vision spun. Hands wrapped around his neck, hoisting him up painfully.

“Derek,” he gasped, trying and failing to get his toes back on the ground, “this--isn’t you, you’re not a killer--”

The cry of his words was cut off when sharp fangs sunk into his neck; warm crimson spurting from the wound. Tendons, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, and the whole nine yards...he felt it all being ripped out, torturously slow. He twitched numbly, his hands scrabbling at Derek who just laughed bitterly, lapping at the blood on his face.

“It’s not like that,” Derek growled before throwing him off the edge of the hospital, and Stiles couldn’t scream, not with his throat mangled to all hell. So he just let himself fall, shutting his eyes until the pain stopped…

❊❊❊

...Stiles jolted out of bed, his hands flying to his throat as a scream left it raw and ruined. Tears blurred the dark motel room, the moonlight from the window casting a shallow glow across everything. Breathing was a challenge, his chest rattling and his ribs aching with his struggle. Blindly he reached for his phone, his thumbs working on autopilot as he typed in the familiar number, putting it on speaker as he listened to the sharp tones.

He knew there would be no answer.

Hi! This is Claudia Stilinski, I can’t get to the phone right now but I’ll be sure to call you back as soon as I can. If this is an emergency regarding my husband please call the home phone. Have a wonderful day!

The beep afterwards pulled him out of his panic.

“Mom,” he croaked, holding back a sob, “I-I...I’m eighteen years old...it’s almost been ten years. And-and I don’t know how to let you go. I hurt for you when I’m awake, I see you when I sleep, and...fuck I’ve been paying your phone bill just to keep your voicemail all these years; because Dad wouldn’t talk to me for months after you fucking died on us. Not that you had control over that...it would...I just wish you were here, ya know? I don’t know what I’m doing. God, I’m wasting away my college fund to follow a stupid map we made when I was seven. I’m such-- such a fuck up.”

“And I know that wherever you are you’re probably sighing at the sight you’re seeing. A full grown man crying to a dead woman’s voicemail because he had a nightmare in Colorado. But...I’m okay with admitting that I guess, I know it’s probably s-stupid, but I am. I miss you, I miss the way Dad used to be, I wish Scott was never bitten by Peter, I wish I had been a better son. We can’t fix that though, can we? Life just deals the cards and we play them regardless, so...I have to cope.”

Stiles took a deep breath, eyes locked on the map on the window side table.

“And I know where to start. It starts with you, I need to let you go. I’ll never forget you, not like you did me, but I need to move past you. I need to figure this out, how to live again. How to breathe. So...uh, I love you Mama. Always. I’ll always love you...but just know I’m not paying your phone bill next month. With much love... Mieczyslaw Stiles Stilinski.”

He hung up the phone, letting it slip through his fingers as he curled into his pillow, crying himself back to a dreamless sleep.


The following day he checked out of the motel and shoved everything he’d been traveling with back into his Jeep, cringing at the old laundry smell coming from his bag. He kind of let himself go if he was being honest; for a few days it was just him and his thoughts, trying to drown them out with overpriced deli food and Netflix.

Creede had only been a few days at most but it turned into something much longer.

It was like he was stuck, feeling hesitant to put more than 300 miles between him and Derek’s new place. There was a comfort he didn’t let himself feel when he was there; the comfort of knowing someone else was just as, if not more broken than him, both using their own methods to deal with it. Derek was graceful with his pain, using his worn hands to create a home from the ground up, bleeding into the very foundation of the house.

Stiles, rather than building something new and better, was running and trying to get lost from the raging thoughts plaguing his mind. The nightmare was still fresh in his mind, his body jumpy to the slightest sound. It was a prime example of his mental state.

Sane enough to function but still broken.

Are you sure you want to go back?

Stiles sighed into his phone, leaning his body on the side of his car, “yeah….I think it’s what’s best for me. I just hope he’ll let me stay, the bed and breakfast in Sloane has fucking outrageous rates.”

You’re just going to leave your mother’s map, just like that? ” His father asked, voice heavy on the other end.

“It was a second grade project Dad.”

It meant the world to you, I know it still does.

“It never won’t mean nothing, but this is just something I gotta do. Look, I gotta go, I’ll call you when I get back to Sloane.”

There was a door opening from his father’s side, followed by a loud noise, “ alright son, just be careful. Tell Hale that if he hurts you he’s going to meet the business end of my pistol.

“Jesus Christ--!!”

Don’t Jesus Christ me, Stiles...I love you kiddo.

“I love you too Dad, call you soon,” Stiles smiled, hanging up his phone and letting it settle in his pocket, its weight heavy within its confinement. The sun was arched low in the sky, the morning still dewy and moist. Cars, maybe two or three at most brushed by, the town eerily quiet and ghostly. He turned and got into the Jeep, its low grade heating system kicking to life with a dusty smell.

His nose twitched a little from it, but after three years he was more or less used to it.

The clock said it was a little after nine in the morning, he was wearing the black shirt Derek let him borrow, he’d be back in Sloane by three at the latest. His foot pressed down on the gas, hand on the clutch as he put it into gear. Beneath him the wheels caught traction on the road, carrying him down the single road of Creede back north. The back part of his brain told him this was a stupid idea but he couldn’t not try.

Stiles came to accept he didn’t have to visit Cora and her pack at Christmas, he could just stay at Derek’s house and take a week for himself. Skyping with his family and friends back in California would be more than enough to keep him occupied.

The radio played some shitty top forty, yet Stiles couldn’t bring himself to turn it off. Instead he bobbed his head to the beat, letting his off-key voice belt out the lyrics. By the time he was nearly back in town his radio was turned up and his throat was dry from the constant singing.  It almost felt normal, like he was himself again and enjoyed the little things. The road sign signalling for Sloane also held a sign for Spring Park Reservoir; Stiles turned down that road.

It was scenic and pretty, his eyes tracing over the lush fall foliage. Some small gas stations and a few houses popped up every now and then, but for the most part it was quiet. Stiles threw the car in park, shutting it off as he hopped out to see the glistening water in full glory. The Reservoir itself wasn’t too deep or too long, but its rich blue color looked gorgeous; ripples emitting from where fish swam.

His hand went to his back pocket to grab his phone, wanting to take a picture.

His phone wasn’t there, but instead he found the worn cardstock map, it’s edges rough against his fingers. The dream, the call, and Stiles knew the next step; how to fully let himself get past her. Stiles let his shoulders roll, trying to get some of the tension out of them as he walked closer to the water.

At this proximity he could see the underwater plants floating near the surface and the tadpoles wiggling at top speed. Stiles pulled out the map, unfolding it carefully. The crease lines were fragile, the color worn away back to white there. The smiley stickers were faded and soft, his mother’s handwriting just as precise and haunting as it was all those years ago.

“It’s time to follow my map, not ours,” he sighed, his fingers gripping the top side of the paper

The worst part was the lack of sorrow he felt when he moved his hands in opposite directions, the shrill sound of the fibers splitting almost like music to his ears. Stiles didn’t stop until a million tiny pieces of his second grade project were cupped in the palm of his hand. From behind the wind picked up and with a particularly strong gust the map floated away, dancing and twirling as they drifted into the water and downstream.

Stiles let out a laugh, head thrown back as he outstretched his arms to the sun, finally feeling like he was doing something for himself. Something good and something he needed; he wasn’t sure he deserved it, but he sure as hell needed it.

After another twenty minutes of watching the paper either float away, sink, or dissolve, he returned to his Jeep, leaving the lake behind him as he drove to Sloane. The scarily small road into town eventually broke into the main road and the familiar shops and homes stood just as they did a week and some odd days ago.

Familiar faces watched his car go by with fond looks, like they’d noticed the Jeep’s absence and almost missed it. Stiles ran a hand through his hair, watching the town slip by as it got less and less populated, nearly vanished by the time he turned to the long wood road to Derek’s house. His nerves felt frayed beneath his skin, his stomach rolling each time the car dipped into a groove in the trail.

Even under all that he could still feel some slight relief of being back.

For the third time he left the thick wooded area, circling the clearing where the house stood in all its glory. Stiles pulled his Jeep to a stop beside the Toyota, the wheels grinding loudly against the gravel driveway. There was a moment when his breath hitched and his hand twitched against the door handle, unsure if he had the nerve to actually open it. As soon as it came it went, the nervousness fleeing quickly as he shoved himself out, his legs untangling from their cramped position.

“Derek?” Stiles called out, looking around the woods before settling on the house, stepping up to the front porch. “You home?”

Chapter Text

Nights blurred to days and days blurred to nights. He didn’t notice when the sky turned colors, or when the wind picked up, or when the birds stopped chirping for the night. It went on like that for a few days; relishing the dirt between his paws and the twigs stuck in his matted hair. The constant running and surveying of the land wore him down; his joints aching bittersweetly with each movement.

No matter how much he pushed himself, his thoughts still ran wild in his head.

Stiles didn’t hesitate to go to Christmas with him, the response was easy and relaxed as if no thought needed to agreeing. His mind supplies itself with images of them at the Johnston house; doing mundane things like sitting around the fireplace with the pack and Stiles trying and failing to eat Christmas Eve dinner neatly. If he could he’d shut his brain off, keep those thoughts away.

It wasn’t going to happen and teasing himself with what ifs was cruel.

Derek was laying on the ground, panting from another running spree, his snout pressed into the cool soil. The creek was a few miles east so he resorted to laying down rather than making the trek over there. A patch of sun came from a bald spot in the tree’s canopy, shining down and warming his side pleasantly.

His tongue licked at his maw, his four legs stretching out in hopes to suppress the ache within them. Stiles was probably long gone by now, well past Creede- leaving Derek in the dust, and...and Derek was wasting time shifted instead of working on his house like he was supposed to. This teenager wasn’t supposed to interfere with this, he wasn’t supposed to come in and break Derek, Derek wasn’t supposed to break Stiles.

It wasn’t fair to either of them.

A whine came from low in his throat as he stood up on shaky legs, wobbling the whole way back to the house. The pads of his paws were raw, his spine was sore from sleeping on the ground for God knows how long, but above all he was so tired. By the time he emerged from the woods to his house he felt ready to pass out.

His fur vanished, replaced with skin for the first time in days. Within him his bones morphed and cracked back into place.  He let out a soft sigh when he flexed his toes and fingers. Shaky hands grabbed onto the railing of the porch stairs, making his way into the house and accepting its shelter from the outside. As much as he loved the woods he also enjoyed the comforts that home brought.

That being said he made a beeline to the shower, waiting until the water was near scalding before he got in. Hot rivulets of water washed away the tension from his muscles and bones, melting him to mush within a few minutes. He wasn’t sure how long he stayed under the spray; unlike humans his skin didn’t prune as easily, but the mirror and windows were fogged heavily and the air was thicker. Derek washed his hair and body swiftly before shutting off the water and letting  droplets fall from his skin as he exited the shower.

Toweling off he retreated to his bedroom and only had the energy to slip on a pair of old sweat pants before he just gave up, falling onto the air mattress, asleep before his head even hit the pillow…

❉❉❉

…“Derek?”

Derek blinked rapidly, looking up from his half eaten plate of food. The pack was looking at him worriedly, especially his parents at the head of the table. Cora patted her high chair table with a loud chorus of smacks, growling at it playfully.

“Huh--what?” He asked.

“Are you okay? You spaced out for a few minutes,” his father asked, setting his knife and fork down carefully. Derek nodded, a small smile on his face as he turned to take a bite out of the pasta his mother and Aunt Charlotte --his father’s sister-- made. It seemed to quell the pack’s worry and they continued on as normal.

Peter and Corinne were going on about trying for a baby soon, which had the older pack members giving them smiles and encouraging words. Meanwhile Laura was chewing off Grandpa’s ear like no other, but the older man didn’t seem to annoyed by it. In fact he laughed here and there with the eleven year old.

From across the table Gabe, one of the younger betas and closer to Cora in age, sneezed into his food. Not only was it disgusting, but the sneeze had the boy shifting part way; his ears and fangs elongating and his eyes flashing gold.

Cora found it hilarious.

“Gabe, next time sneeze into your napkin,” Grandma chastised, handing him a napkin, and the boy nodded before shifting and cleaning himself up. Derek looked back to his food and took another bite, savoring the wide range of spices his mom liked to cook with. Pasta was one of his favorites; he especially loved ravioli.

Maybe his mom would make it for him on his birthday.

Glancing up his eyes widened when he spotted the mirror on the dining room wall, its glass shattered and edges burnt to a crisp. Derek felt his jaw hang open as he examined it for a little while longer. He blinked once before it went away, the mirror the same as it’s always been.

“You sure you’re okay Der?” Peter asked under his breath.

Derek glared at his uncle, “yes. I’m fine.”

“Just checking,” Peter said, stabbing his chicken with the end of his knife before eating it straight from the wrong utensil.

Rolling his eyes he took a sip of water, his skin crawling with heat all of a sudden. It was probably his mother playing with the thermostat again, sometimes it was turned up too high. Werewolves were warm by nature, he didn’t understand why she didn’t just keep it at a nice temperature. When he looked up from his glass the mirror was still fine, but this time it was the walls and curtains that were charred; the doorways littered with ash and cobwebs.

He let out a growl, his fork bending in his hands by how harshly he was clutching it.

“Derek Hale. What has gotten into you tonight?” His mother demanded.

Bristling he stood up from his chair, wiping the sweat from his forehead and pulling at his collar, “is anyone else feeling hot?”

“Derek?” Laura said in a concerned tone.

“It’s so hot! How aren’t you guys hot?” Derek gasped, itching at his skin for the feeling to go away. His nails elongated into claws as he kept marking up his skin, feeling the need to crawl out of it. When he looked up for help he knew he wasn’t going to get it. His family remained at the table, their bodies sitting eerily still as flames licked up their skin. In horror he watched as their skin melted off their bones, as their clothes fused to their bodies.

They didn’t scream. They didn’t shift.

They just sat there as the fire ate away at them, and eventually the amber blaze reached the ceiling and consumed them all whole. Derek fell to his knees; howling as all of his pack members, his family, were taken from him. He banged his fists onto the floor over and over again, until his knuckles were caked in blood, roaring with the pain that tore through him. As if by magic the once spotless hardwood became nothing more than old decayed wood.

The glow from the fire was gone, replaced with a strange blue light.

The house wasn’t the same anymore; everything was burnt to a crisp, holes let in moonlight from above, the smell of home and pack was eradicated. Derek sat back on his legs, gasping in broken wheezes for his family. He didn’t get to say goodbye, he didn’t get to tell them he loved them, he didn’t get to say he was sorry.

“Come back,” Derek bit out, “please c-come back.”

The haunting wind was all he got in response.

Standing up he walked through the house, towards the front door. There was no point in staying, everything he had to stay for was gone. Nervously he reached for the handle, opening the door and carefully stepping out of the house. The night was cold, the darkness seeping into his flesh and bone. A cackling laugh coming from somewhere deep within the woods made him stop short.

Nevermind. He’s going to stay in the house, he’s just going to turn around and go--

Except when he turned around he was no longer at the house. Rather, it was just woods. He stood in a large opening, surrounded by trees and deafening silence. Just behind the trees he could see millions of fireflies looming in the pitch black. He tried to shift, but nothing washed over him, no sense of change.

It put him on edge, to say the least.

“Derek!”

At the sound of Paige’s voice he turned around and caught sight of her terrified face instantly. She was thrown across a large stump, her arms and legs bound by rope, her small frame thrashing against the restraints.

“Paige!” He called back, rushing over to help her- only to be blown back by a mountain ash ring. Derek landed hard on his back, his ribs making a loud sound of protest as he did so. His high school sweetheart let out a gut wrenching sob, the tone of it getting deeper and deeper, enough so that it urged him to sit up and make sure she was okay.

She wasn’t okay, because it wasn’t her.

Stiles’ struggled against the ropes, salty tears running down his face. Derek felt his heart lurch in his chest, the world coming to a stop when he saw him there instead of Paige. His pale skin was inked with bruises and cuts, thick globs of blood staining the stump.

“Save me, Derek--save me!” Stiles wailed.

“I will. I promise I will,” Derek cried, wiping his eyes as he stood back up, banging against the barrier until his shoulder protested. Banging against it with his claws, trying his best to do what Scott did with Jennifer, trying to save the man he loves. It was too late though, another laugh echoed from the clearing, another familiar face revealing itself.

“Oh Der,” Kate purred, her neck slashed out and her voice suffering from it, “why make promises you can’t keep?”

“Don’t touch him,” he snarled.

Kate laughed again while unsheathing a sword, it’s metal reflecting light every which way. He felt like his heart stopped beating in his chest. He went numb all over like a bucket of ice cold water was dumped on him. Stiles stopped thrashing around, eyes going scarily blank as he looked right at Derek.

“You can’t save me. Why did you lie to me?”

Derek shook his head, “Stiles I’m trying to save you--”

“Too late.”

Kate let the sword come down with finality, the razor sharp blade slicing Stiles clean through. Stiles didn’t move, just watched as his insides rushed out of him. By the time the life left Stiles all Derek was left with were cold dead eyes staring at him.

Derek howled…

❉❉❉

...Derek bolted up from the bed, fangs bared as he snarled at nothing. Late day sun was casting in through his window. His body was tense; his muscles bunched up and his joints stiff.

He couldn’t breathe, let alone focus on anything.

Except for the voice outside and the pounding on the front door. It was severe against his harsh breathing and the nature outside. His whole body shook as he forced himself upright; not only was it a challenge since he spent almost two weeks on four legs, but whatever he was feeling wasn’t helping his sense of balance.

He braced himself with his hands along any wall and railing he could, inching slowly towards the door. His ears still rang from his dream; the sound of the sword splitting Stiles in two echoed on loop. The metallic scent of blood filled his nose, so that he could almost taste it.

It was driving him insane.

The knocking on the door distracted him, kept him from focusing on the fact he wasn’t breathing right and that he just woke up from the world’s worst dream. A cold sweat broke out all over his skin as his hand grazed the door knob. Derek swallowed the lump in his throat as he opened the door, eyes slowly lifting to see who stood on the other side.

The sound of screams fell silent in his mind, replaced by a rhythmic heartbeat. The smell of blood vanished, replaced by warm spices and coffee grounds. Derek licked at his lips; his eyes meeting amber ones he’d just watched go lifeless. These ones were different, so full of life and energy it almost hurt to look at them.

“Dere-- whoa !”

Derek lunged at Stiles, his arms wrapping around the smaller man with ease. He was alive, he was in one piece, and best of all he was back in Sloane. Stiles let out a small yelp, body frozen for a moment before returning the embrace. Then there was a hand rubbing up and down his back and a small hushing sound in his ear telling him to breathe.

In and out. In and out.

It kept going like that for a while until his lungs weren’t on fire and words seemed like something he could manage. Derek realized for the first time that his face was burried into Stiles’ shoulder, taking comfort in the strong scent there, even if the sulfuric ozone smell lingered.

Stiles let out a shocked sound, “are you on drugs? You’re hugging me.”

“Shut up,” he managed.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Stiles asked softly after a beat.

Derek let out a shaky breath, “no.”

The last thing he wanted to do was talk about it, so instead he separated himself from Stiles and wiped the wetness from his face. With that he turned on his heel, leaving the door open as he walked to the kitchen to get a glass of water. He hadn’t been sure if Stiles had followed him or not until he heard the front door shut and footsteps come towards the kitchen. By then he’d downed two glasses of water and still didn’t feel much better.

A whirlwind of thoughts rolled through his head. Somehow he’d managed to verbalize the most pressing one.

“You’re back,” he said in more of a question.

“Yeah, I am,” Stiles answered.

“For how long?”

That is when the silence kicked in for real, and Stiles went ridged and nervous, “uh…well, Derek, that depends on you.”

“On me?”

“I’m not doing the map anymore, I sorta ripped it up. Self-righteous I know,” Stiles babbled, “and, I kind of ran out on you and I just couldn’t stop thinking about how I never let you explain the whole Skype thing. Then again, I can totally understand if I overstepped, I was only half kidding about Christmas. Anyways...um I just, you have this big house all to yourself and I don’t really feel like going back to Beacon Hills for a while and I just thought….I just figured if--ya know if it was cool with you maybe I could stay?”

Derek opened his mouth, a response half baked in his throat, but Stiles kept on going.  

“Of course I’d help and stuff, this time I promise not to nail my shirt to anything. I mean I assume you’re going to be putting furniture in soon. If it’s from Ikea I can totally help with that, I am the master of those things, Scott assembled his desk the wrong way after two hours but I fixed it in about thirty minutes. Like I said, master of Ikea stuff. Also despite what you may have seen at my dad’s house I promise not to leave a huge mess. Okay...maybe my habit of leaving towels on the floor will take a while to kick, but I’ll try and remember not to do that and--”

“Stiles,” Derek interjected, setting the glass down with a loud thunk, “I leave towels on the floor too.”

That was the last thing Stiles expected him to pay. His jaw fell to the ground in shock, eyes nearly bulging out of his head. Stiles let out a small laugh and Derek let himself get lost in it. The laugh went on for a few more seconds before dissipating, the joy replaced with a newfound seriousness.

“Wait--was that a yes?”

Derek looked up from his hands, the easy answer heavy on his tongue.

“Yes.”

Stiles let out a long sounding sigh, his shoulders falling and face relaxing from its pinched state. The house would no longer be silent for days on end, Cora would no longer be the only person he talked to, the house would no longer just be a house.

Suddenly, with Stiles here, it had the potential to be a home.


 

“What about these ones?”

“No.”

“It’s twelve hundred dollars, I know money isn’t an issue.”

“Stiles, they’re yellow .”

The younger man groaned, looking longingly at the obnoxious sun colored washer dryer combo. It’d been a few weeks since Stiles officially started living at the house and to say the least it had been a lot louder. Plus it had pushed up the need for actual items to be in the house; like plates, toothbrush holders, cable. Of course, for the first week or so Stiles was basically silent and left no trail behind if he went somewhere other than the room he picked out for himself.

Now Derek was pretty sure Stiles left his mac ‘n cheese pot in the sink from last night and a pile of towels in his room from his previous showers.

“No fair, but fine. There will be a yellow object within this house, mark my words,” Stiles said matter-of-factly. Derek just rolled his eyes, walking further down the aisle away from the monstrosity of an appliance. The squeaks of old sneakers against the linoleum floors of the Home Depot trailed behind him, catching up promptly as a flannel covered shoulder grazed his.

“Don’t believe me, big guy?” Stiles asked.

“No I believe you will, just believe that I will throw it out,” Derek shot back while stopping in front of a modest grey colored washer dryer set to look at its info tag.

The other man wedged himself between Derek and the washer, leaning on it with his arms crossed, “you will do no such thing. Yellow is a great color! What about a lamp shade? Those are subtle.”

“No, now move,” Derek said, moving to pick up the appliances and put them onto the large flat cart.

“Yo, what are you doing? This is like putting a ‘ hey I’m a super strong werewolf ’ sign on your back,” Stiles huffed, “at least let me help you, alright? So this doesn’t look like a miracle.”

Even though it would have taken five seconds for each piece and there was nobody in the isle, he complied; knowing Stiles would probably feel more comfortable doing that. Together, still mostly Derek’s doing, they lifted the two items onto the platform cart. They browsed around for a little while longer before paying for the new appliances, opting out of the help service to load it into the car.

The outside air was nippy; it was early November and snow had begun to fall. Beneath their feet the fresh powder crunched loudly, and the streetlights gave the nightfall a yellow glow. For Derek a simple jacket and maybe a hat would do; he only wore the thick socks and boots because he didn’t want his feet getting wet. Stiles was a different story. Before they walked out he’d put on a hoodie, a winter jacket, gloves, a hat, and even a scarf he’d bought impulsively back when he’d been traveling.

Derek teased him for the fuzzy ball on the top of his hat.

Stiles smacked him in the arm with a smile.

Derek silently admired the slight pink that ran across Stiles’ cheeks and nose.

Stiles didn’t notice.

They’d taken Stiles’s Jeep which had more vertical room than Derek’s car, plus the back bench had been taken out and left at home for more space. With ease Derek got the two appliances into the back of the car. Stiles offered to take the cart back to the storefront.

“We should get something to eat,” Stiles said when he got into the car.

Derek glanced at him from the passenger seat, “we have stuff back at the house.”

“Yeeeah, but ,” Stiles said, starting up the car to put on the heat, “we drove all the way to Denver to get to a Home Depot. Plus it’s around dinner time anyways, we can just eat here then drive back.”

“Sure,” he agreed after a moment.

“Awesome.”

They ended up driving around town for a while, circling a few blocks before settling on a thai place that looked decent and not too crowded. Stiles practically ran from the car to the restaurant to try and avoid being in the cold, yelling at Derek to hurry up when he’d apparently taken too long to cross the street.

“You’re slow for a werewolf,” Stiles deadpanned.

“You’re annoying for a teenager who tries to be a smartass with a werewolf who has a set of fangs and a low tolerance for said teenager,” Derek shot back and walked inside.

A young host sat them down at a booth near the window, handing them menus and water before leaving them alone. They both shed their layers before sitting comfortably in the worn seating, the earthy warmth of the restaurant removing the chill from their bones. Soft light cast down from an old fixture. The cars outside flew past in colorful blurs.

“What are you getting?” Derek asked after a while, feeling like he couldn’t decide for himself.

Stiles looked up, his tongue poking out from his lips, “probably the chicken curry. You?”

“Don’t know yet,” he shrugged, eyes scanning the menu again, “I always get pad thai. I kind of want to try something different.”

“What if we traded? I’ve never eaten whatever you just said, and you could have my curry.”

Derek shut his menu, nodding with a small smile on his face, stacking it with Stiles’ and shoved it to the side of the table. Within a few short minutes the waiter came back for their orders and their menus before once more leaving them alone.

“So how’s your dad doing?”

“He’s good, nothing terrible has happened since I left,” Stiles answered, his long fingers playing with the sauce packets, “I think he’s got something going on with Melissa though. The last few times I’ve called she’s been there.”

“That a good thing?” Derek asked, wondering if Stiles was okay with that considering the last woman his father had been with was his mother.

“He and Melissa deserve to be happy- and if being together makes them happy, then it’s a good thing,” Stiles said.

“You and Scott can really call yourselves brothers now.”

Stiles laughed, “yeah, I guess we can.”

Derek set his elbows on the table, crossing them lazily. The silverware clanked from where he’d bumped into it. The sound reverberated through the empty seating area. Their conversation went on for a while; mostly talking about easy things, whatever came to mind. At one point they got back into the whole yellow furniture topic, Stiles fighting for it. Derek gave up saying that if he managed to sneak something yellow in good on him.

“How’s the curry?” Stiles asked when the food arrived and Derek first took a bite.

He was surprised at the tangy flavor it held, the warm spices flowed on his tongue and heated his throat nicely, “it’s not bad. How’s the noodles?”

Stiles took a bite, slurping the noodles messily to get them all in his mouth. Somehow he’d managed to get peanut chunks in his hair. Regardless his eyes went wide and he looked down at his plate with awe. “Holy shit, this is really good,” he said around a mouthful.

It pulled a laugh out of Derek, even if Stiles’ eating habits were a bit gross. He didn’t know why he was even laughing; maybe it was because he found it endearing that Stiles enjoyed the food Derek technically picked out for him. Maybe it was because lately most of what Stiles did he found either captivating or attractive. Nevertheless, Derek sat back in his seat, trying to contain his outburst when Stiles joined in on the laughter.

It only made him laugh harder.

Stiles’ head was thrown back, the pale skin there exposed without his scarf on. His eyes shut while in mid-laugh. Derek greedily watched his shoulders shake and his adam’s apple bob, then suddenly he found his curry incredibly interesting. Quickly he forced himself quiet with a long sip from his water before returning to his meal.

“I hope you know how hot and cold you are,” Stiles huffed.

“Eat your food, I want to be back before midnight,” Derek said.

Chapter Text

Stiles woke up, half of his body hanging off the bed, exposed to the cold morning air. Shivering slightly, he wiggled back up on the bed and tucked himself under the blanket. The sunshine did little to improve the heat within the room and neither did the six blankets he had on his bed. It had been a recent upgrade from the air mattress Derek had gotten him, much more comfortable and didn’t put a kink in his neck every damn night.

Rolling over, he bit at his lip when the semi he was sporting rubbed just so against the blankets. A part of him debated if he should explore it further and possibly start the day off with an orgasm, but the other part of him always felt guilty when he did it. It was only the two of them in the house and Derek happened to have both super hearing and a super sniffer.  

If Stiles was having struggles doing it with just Derek in the house, how the hell did Derek survive as a teenager in his house? Cora was probably too young but Derek was in that zone where jerking it was like a nightly routine. Did the Hales soundproof their walls? Were they good enough werewolves to just tune it out and ignore it? His mind wandered to other things that only fueled the low hum of arousal in his stomach.

Was Derek a one or two hand kind of guy? Did he play with his balls or the head of his dick more? How long was he, or was he gifted with more girth? Was he cut? Did werewolves in general get cut? Real wolves have knots, so did werewolves have them too? Does Derek shift when he’s doing the nasty or does he stay human?

Stiles was naturally a very curious person and these questions were all very valid.

Instead of questioning Derek’s sexual habits and questioning his own, he sat up with a long stretch and got out of bed.

The icy floors stabbed at his feet and his skin broke out in goose bumps.

Despite being a naturally cold person he loved the winter months, plus being from California the snow outside was practically a God send. He couldn’t be too mad at the weather. Before he left his room he grabbed a pair of his pajama pants to put on after he used the bathroom. He padded his way to the bathroom, shut himself in and relieved himself with a satisfied groan.

He finally caught the smell of herbs and spices.

Confused he finished up, washed his hands and put on his pants before he made his way downstairs. Quickly Stiles bypassed the semi-furnished living room and walked into the kitchen to what looked like a very organized Martha Stewart cooking show set up. Pre-greased pans were lined up, on the stove something was simmering away with steam seeping from under the lid, and on the island a knife was going away at vegetables at a deadly pace.

And in the middle of it was Derek Hale.

Derek fucking Hale was making a goddamn feast for an army.

From the counter the wolf’s laptop was playing something that Stiles could only describe as “ indie hipster bullshit that is probably undiscovered ”. Derek was humming along to the music like he knew the words but felt too lazy to verbalize it fully. He shouldn’t have found that as adorable as he did. The music window only took up half the screen while the other half of the screen had multiple recipe tabs queued up.

“What are you doing?” Stiles asked.

Derek’s knife slipped, nearly taking off his finger in the process as he jumped in surprise. The poor guy must’ve been so immersed in everything he didn’t notice Stiles which he kind of relished since he’s never gotten the jump on a werewolf before.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Derek snapped, as if the answer was clear.

“Uh...having a mental breakdown and coping by making more food than the two of us could ever eat?” Stiles tried.

The man rolled his eyes, his eyebrows doing the usual grumpy thing as he left his post to walk over to the new fridge only to point at the calendar. His finger landed on the twenty fourth of November...and oh, it was Thanksgiving.

“You do know there’s just two of us right? I’ve seen Scott eat like three whole pizzas post-werewolfism and I can put away like maybe a pizza and a half if I’m super hungry. This? I’m not sure we can eat all this without a little help,” Stiles babbled, patting his stomach to apologize in advance for how much he’d stuff it later.

“Then we’ll have leftovers,” Derek shrugged and returned to cutting up celery stalks.

Stiles moved to the counters and sat down on one of the island stools, a yawn was pulled out of him before he spoke again, “you never did this in Beacon Hills.”

“I’m not living in constant fear for my life anymore nor am I babysitting Scott.”

“Point taken,” he said, “but since when do you cook?”

“My dad taught me how to cook, he taught both me and my sisters. It was kind of tradition to help on Thanksgiving,” Derek said and Stiles reeled from the sudden sentimental information. Despite that, the man kept going, “except for my mom. She was terrible at cooking, I think the best she could do was a pancake and even then half of them were burnt.”

“So she didn’t help?”

“No, she just entertained the rest of the pack and some family friends she’d always invite for major holidays. She was a people person so she was good at that.”

Stiles rubbed the back of his neck, “I guess you just take more after your dad personality-wise then.”

“No, both of my parents were extroverts. I’ve just had a long period of unfortunate events which closed me off,” Derek said.

“Right,” he muttered awkwardly.

He’s learned a lot in the ten minutes that he’s been up for. Not only was Derek cooking a Thanksgiving meal but he apparently was doing it because it was  a family tradition. From that family tradition Derek had learned how to cook with Laura and Cora from their dad. Talia Hale was a terrible cook according to Derek and was the life of the party. The most shocking was probably the whole extrovert thing.

Stiles remembered vividly the story Peter told him and Cora back when the Alpha pack thing happened at the start of junior year. Derek had been the captain of the basketball team, had a girlfriend, was kind of a low key Jackson level douche bag. So really, Stiles wasn’t surprised Derek was more sociable back in his teenage and child years, but he just wasn’t used to hearing about it.

All he’d ever known was the Sourwolf he’s grown accustomed to.

“It’s only awkward if you make it awkward,” Derek said after a while of silence.

“Awkward? I’m not making it awkward. How am I making it awkward?” Stiles asked.

“I’m talking about my family- which I rarely do- and now you’re making it awkward by just being silent and panicking over the new information,” Derek answered, “the point of me building this house is to heal. I can’t heal if I don’t...talk. So that’s why I’m making this food and thinking about my family with good memories.”

Okay, now Stiles felt like an asshole.

“Sorry, it’s just you’d never talk about them. It caught me off guard is all,” Stiles apologized, before he glanced around the counter top. A bowl full of compostable items was nearby, as were unpeeled potatoes and a peeler. He grabbed all of those items and started peeling them for a lack of anything else to do. The skin shavings fell into the bowl with wet plops until it started a pile, dampening the sound.

“How did they meet? Your parents I mean,” Stiles asked, breaking the silence between them.

That’s how it went on for a while.

Stiles peeled what felt like fifty potatoes and Derek cut the herbs, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and so on while talking about the Hale family origins. It was 1976 when Talia and Andrew had met for the first time, it was the first week of summer for college students. Derek’s dad and his buddies thought going up north to the lake in Beacon Hills rather than the overcrowded beach would be a good idea. They’d been there for like an hour being loud and noisy when an angry rant came from beside their set up. Talia in all her glory was going on about how it was private property and how they were trespassing--

“Wait, hold up, are you telling me we met the same way your mom and dad met? That’s ironic,” Stiles laughed, putting down the last potato as Derek took out homemade bread he somehow had time to make.

The man smiled fondly and kept going.

--and Andrew told her to calm down. That was the wrong move, according to Derek, because his mom shoved him into the lake along with their boom box and told them to get lost. Only a week had passed before Talia and Andrew ran into each other again, and Peter who had been with Talia had made his first impression on Andrew by laughing at him because he’d been beaten by a girl. The way Derek’s dad deflected the comment somehow got Talia’s attention, because within a few months Andrew was asking her on a date--

“Where’d they go?”

“Delphina’s diner--”

“Home of the world's best fucking curly fries!”

--and from then on many dates happened. Two years after the first meeting Talia had let Andrew in on the whole werewolf thing, but not on purpose. Some asshole omega had tried to come after Talia’s father who was the Alpha at the time, wanting to have the power. Andrew had been over when it happened and Talia wolfed out and protect her father. Derek’s father took it in stride, shrugging it off and said it was kind of obvious since she literally lifted him up and threw him into that lake years ago.

It was suddenly 1984 and four major things happened for the Hale family. Talia’s father stepped down and passed his Alpha status down to her. Talia took a risk and gave Andrew the bite, but it paid off because it didn’t kill him. They got married to only have three months of downtime before they found out about Laura--

“Is this a thing?” Stiles asked, now having moved on to helping Derek slice bread chunks for the stuffing.

“What?” Derek asked with a raised eyebrow.

“For werewolves to not give a damn about age? I mean your parents seemed to move pretty damn fast. Cora is mated and by what you’ve told me, she’s probably had like seven kids by now.

The beta huffed, “quick for humans maybe. I mean werewolves don’t get sick, unless we’re poisoned, so we live longer. Werewolves take mates too, most of us want to have as much time with them as possible, even if it means mating young. By traditional standards I’m late on the whole ‘taking a mate and having kids’ train.”

“How long is living longer?” Stiles asked.

“Satomi is close to two hundred? But that’s pushing it. Most live to one thirty or one fifty, but Alphas tend to live longer.”

Stiles paled.

--Laura was born on a very warm summer morning in 1985, and Derek followed in early November in 1988--

“You didn’t think to mention it was your birthday like two weeks ago?!”

“Stiles it’s not important. Let me finish the story.”

“I’m buying you a cake.”

“Shut up.”

“And balloons.”

“I hate you.”

--and with only three years distance in age, Laura and Derek were close as kids. Of course, they lived out in the Hale house. Talia and Andrew often took the two children on walks around the reserve. Years rolled by, Peter found his love named Corinne- who was a werecoyote of all things- and Talia’s parents spoiled the crap out of everyone. There wasn’t really a plan for Cora; it was 1994 and she just kind of happened and the next year rolled around and she was born on a rainy spring afternoon. That put a ten year age gap between Laura and Cora; meanwhile, Derek and Cora were only seven years apart.

That was pretty much the Hale family up until around 2004 when it went up in flames. Before then it was annual ski trips, spring break vacations to Hawaii and Alaska, pack runs on the full moons--

“Sounds like a picture perfect family.”

“The only problem with that is the fact we didn’t have many family photos. There’s no point since our eyes mess with the lens,” Derek reminded Stiles, who nodded at him to keep going.

--Now it’s 2005, Derek was in his senior year and Laura hadn’t been to college yet. Peter was in the hospital with extensive burns, and the eight other family members inside were burned to death. All that remained was their ashes buried under a single grave stone labeled simply ‘Hale Family.’ That year Laura moved them both to New York, Derek got his GED and Laura went to a community college in Brooklyn. Apparently, they lived in a shitty brownstone that had a leaky pipe somewhere that would always drip and keep them up…

“...Laura loved that leaky pipe. Kept her from thinking about what had happened at night, but that’s pretty much it. That’s my family,” Derek finished just as he started to put the sides into their appropriate dishes to be cooked later.

Stiles sat back, a small smile on his face, “wow….I mean I know what happened was shitty, but your family sounds wonderful. You dad and I would’ve gotten along, he seems to have my type of humor.”

“He did,” Derek agreed, and somehow Stiles felt guilty for reminding Derek of Andrew. Then he felt even more guilty when he finally met eyes with the older man, finding them watery and red from the story, a faint tear rolling into his stubble. Stiles frowned. Regardless, Derek asked him to grab the bag of marshmallows out of the pantry and Stiles complied, sliding off his seat to grab the sugary bag of goodness. Only, the bag wasn’t there.

“Are you sure we have any?” Stiles asked, turning back to look at Derek.

“I thought I bought some, did you check behind your chips?”

“Yeah, they aren’t there. Do you want me to go get some? I’m pretty sure I can’t stay here and make the food, I’d probably fuck something up,” Stiles offered.

Derek nodded, “yeah. Can you also get some olive oil and anchovies?”

“Ew, what the fuck?”

“Trust me, you’ll like it,” Derek said.

“Whatever you say,” Stiles said and walked back upstairs to change into jeans, a jacket, and snow boots before he left the house.

The exhaust from his car smelled terrible, but rolling down his window meant snow and cold air would find its way in. Thankfully the drive wasn’t too long and he could distract himself with some classic rock on the way. Nothing said happy Thanksgiving like some Bohemian Rhapsody and him screaming along to it at the top of his lungs. By the time he pulled up, Mrs. Williams was standing outside the the neighboring thrift shop, shoveling the snow off of the sidewalk.

“Having fun there Stiles?” She asked, hand on her hip in a sassy but playful way.

“Lots,” he smiled, “hey, are you working today?”

“No, just came out here while my mother-in-law cooks the Turkey to shovel the store front. If I don’t keep up it’ll be untameable,” Mrs. Williams said before giving him a wave, “happy Thanksgiving Stiles, send Derek my best wishes. Hope you two are happy.”

Stiles cocked his head a little, eyes squinting in confusion before squeaking out a simple goodbye before escaping into the store. He shut the door, leaning against it for a moment to collect himself.

Mrs. Williams thought him.,...and Derek….were together? Like boyfriends? Like two guys who have consensual and totally awesome dick to dick contact on the regular? What has the world come to? With a deep breath he stood back up and used the doormat to kick the snow off his shoes before venturing deeper into the store. A few people milled about, doing their best to be quick about it to get back to their families and friends.

Stiles took a speedy trip over to the right sections. Just for Derek he found the olive oil and anchovies. After that he went over to the sweets section, looking over the various sizes until finding the small snowball ones his family only use for hot chocolate.

“Hey! Stiles!”

With a big grin he turned on his heel to see Jake behind him; like usual an obnoxious lollipop was sticking out of his mouth and staining his lips green. They did their handshake, which was a bunch of high fives, some awkward leg movements, and a fist bump followed by a suave snap.

“Hey dude, what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at home with your parents?” Stiles asked while grabbing a bag of mini-marshmallows and walking with Jake towards the register.

The young teen shrugged, “we have guests at the bed and breakfast, my parents kind of celebrate with them. I got bored so I came here to hang with Lisa.”

“Lisa’s here too?”

“Her family doesn’t live here, so she just works on holidays,” Jake responded, jumping up onto the conveyor belt when they got to Lisa’s check-out. The girl at the end looked at the boy with a fond and annoyed look, kind of reminds Stiles of how Derek looks at him most of the time. Today Lisa was in an oversized sweater, like usual, but this time it had a Turkey on it and her mass of hair was in a comical bun on her small head.

“Thanks for telling him my life story,” Lisa said while ringing up the three items, “this it?”

“Yeah,” Stiles nodded, handing her the cash.

“Cool, hope it’s good,” Lisa smiled and handed him the items before sitting back on her stool, her tiny fingers playing with the worn pages of her book. It’s cover was long destroyed and its pages had dog ears on pretty much all of them. Jake went on to tease her about the condition of it and she flicked his forehead.

“Lisa...do you want to have Thanksgiving with Derek and I?” Stiles asked suddenly.

He wasn’t known for his brain to mouth filter.

Lisa and Jake stopped their bickering and looked at him with wide eyes. Stiles quickly added to his bold statement.

“I mean Derek hasn’t celebrated it in a long time and I’m not with my dad this year. So Derek kind of went crazy and is making like a million things that we can’t finish alone. We’d be happy to have you join us,” Stiles said, knowing this was going to either go over really well or end terribly.

Jake was getting ready to walk home while Lisa kind of sat there looking confused.

“You don’t have to Lisa--”

“Are we friends?” She asked, pushing up her glasses with her finger.

Stiles gnawed on his lower lip, “I mean I’d like to get to know you better, but I know that you and Derek are pretty close. It would be super cool if you were with us today but seriously, don’t sweat it if you don’t wanna do it.”

With that Lisa ducked under the check-out and came back up with a knitted cap on, along with matching gloves and a puffy jacket. She marched out of the stand with a brilliant smile on her face, walking over to the other cashier which was an older woman, currently playing on her phone.

“Candice, I’ve been working the Thanksgiving shift for like four years….and the Christmas shift….and the New Year's shift….this year I’m going to have Thanksgiving for real. I don’t think it will get too busy, but call in Mike if it gets too crazy,” Lisa said with finality before slinging her bag over her shoulder and returning to him and Jake.

Stiles smiled at her, patting her hat which had her smacking his arm away with a huff. He took it as a compliment.

“Later you guys, I gotta get home. Happy Thanksgiving,” Jake said with a small wave, sticking his lollipop back in his mouth.

“Happy Thanksgiving, dork,” Lisa smiled and tousled the young teen’s hair, Jake rolled his eyes and jerked away. Stiles gave him a wave and watched him rush out of the store.

With that he lead Lisa to his Jeep, having to help her when she tried three times -- and failed -- to buckle her seatbelt correctly.

Chapter Text

Derek looked at the clock on the microwave, its angry green numbers showing it’d been almost forty minutes since Stiles left and Derek knew it only took twenty. Thoughts of Stiles hurt, taken, and mutilated ran through his head, making him feel restless and uneasy. He pushed off from where he’d been leaning on the counter, rearranging the sides he’d prepped for cooking for the third time.

The ham was in the oven and would be in there for another three and a half hours.

He had nothing to do.

So when nearly an hour had passed, he had a ten minute Skype call with Cora, and he’d managed to find enough ingredients to maybe make a pie, the front door finally opened. Derek felt himself relax, felt the compressing loneliness flee….Then he heard more than one heartbeat, more footsteps, and way too many voices.

Turning around he watched as Stiles walked through the archway from the living room, arms filled with one bag of mini-marshmallows, the oil, the fish, and a massive jug of apple cider and a bottle of wine. Behind him Lisa followed, her eyes owlish as they scanned the house.

“So this is what you did with Monty’s old shack? Impressive,” Lisa said with an appreciative nod.

Derek looked from Lisa back to Stiles who gave him a “ please don’t be a sourwolf or so help me god ” face on. In retrospect he did make a lot of food and a two person Thanksgiving wasn’t really so thrilling. Plus Derek, for once, didn’t mind having a guest; he knew Lisa anyways, she was a really good person.

“It was funded with old family money,” Derek explained as he grabbed the bag of marshmallows and topped the sweet potatoes, finally finishing with the prep.

“Who wants a drink?” Stiles asked.

Lisa nodded; and while Derek wasn’t all that thirsty, he nodded at Stiles.

Derek let out an amused sound as Stiles got the new glasses and poured everyone's drinks. After that they let their guest know what they’d be eating later before moving to the living room and talking about random things. Lisa told them she had an online shop and her paintings were selling quickly. She ended up promising to paint them something for the house.

Stiles asked for something Bob Ross-ish.

“So,” Lisa started, “how do you two know each other?”

Derek felt himself pause for a moment, glancing to Stiles who was in the same state. Nervously he cleared his throat and decided to take the lead on this one, knowing Stiles’ lack of brain to mouth filter would get the best of him.

“We come from the same small town in California,” he started, taking a sip of wine casually, “when I was a sixteen and he was around nine I kind of got into some trouble with the Sheriff who’s his dad. When I was waiting for my parents he came into the station and talked to me. Ever since we’ve kind of been friends.”

“So now kind-of-friends are living together in another tiny town,” Lisa snorted, pulling her knees to her chest, her sock covered feet digging into the couch cushions.

Stiles laughed a little himself before playing into the lie, “he was such a teddy bear back then. Not the six feet of muscle and brooding stubble he is today.”

“I do not brood,” Derek defended, keeping the confusion to himself when he didn’t hear Stiles’ heart skip a beat.

“You two are sickeningly sweet,” Lisa said.

“No,” Derek said the same time Stiles said, “thank you.”

He looked at the younger man who just shrugged with a lazy look, setting his glass on the coffee table to sit back on the couch comfortably. That’s when Stiles and Lisa sprung into more art conversation, and Derek decided it would be a good idea to maybe have a fire tonight. Excusing himself he walked towards the foyer, slipping on his jacket and boots, escaping to the outside.

The overcast skies and the white blanket of snow made him think of the cabin in Canada his family would rent when he was little. How snowy it was and how secluded it was. He walked over to his car, grabbing the small axe in the back. Usually Derek would have opted to just split the wood with his hands, but with the big windows in the living room and Lisa being here he didn’t want to make a scene.

With the heavy weight of the axe in his hand he walked over to the edge of the woods, tearing off some twigs and small branches for kindling first. Afterward he started chopping off thin low limbs into manageable chunks.

Derek made a mental note to do this before winter next year.

Five minutes passed until he had enough wood to have a fire going for most of the night. Picking up the haul he returned to the front door, kicking the snow off his boots before heading inside. He heard the yell of “ you suck Lisa, like so freakin’ much ” and feet rushing up the stairs. Worried, Derek didn’t even shed his coat before going to the living room to see what the fuss was about.

Lisa was sprawled out in a full body laugh on the couch, wiping tears from her face.

“Should I be worried?” Derek asked.

The girl sat up, shoulders shaking, “Stiles just needed to...uh...go to the bathroom. He kind of needed space.

“Space?” He prayed as he crossed the living area to the fireplace where he started loading in the wood, setting the rest to the side for later.

“Yeah, he kind of worked himself up watching you chop wood ,” she laughed, as if it was the most casual thing.

Derek dropped some of the wood, the pieces clattering against the floor. With a deep breath he steadied himself; his body heavy with her words. Stiles...was all, er, bothered because of him? A lump formed in his throat, his palms sweaty and nervous. He pushed it away; Stiles was eighteen, he was probably horny for everyone and everything.

The length of silence had him on edge, and the sound of mouse-like footsteps nearing had him bristling. Lisa sat on the edge of the fireplace, arms crossed and face suddenly serious yet comforting.

“You really don’t know do you?” Lisa said with slight pity in her tone.

Derek grabbed the lighter beside the grate and started to light to kindling, “know what?”

“That Stiles is so into you it’s kind of stupid,” Lisa deadpanned, leaning over slightly, “and don’t get all weird about it. It’s obvious you’re into him as well.”

“When we became friends I didn’t want you to be my love guru.”

“I’m not being your love guru. I’m just opening your eyes. So this doesn’t get too awkward we’re going to stop talking about this and have a good Thanksgiving,” she said, patting his shoulder before going back to nurse her glass of wine. Derek didn’t let himself think about what Lisa had said, busying himself on lighting the fire, backing away when the flames grew.

He shed his coat finally and let it drape across the back of the couch.

Around that time Stiles ventured back into the living room, his face red with a flush that went from his cheeks down to his neck. Derek could still smell the faint trace of Stiles’ arousal, its sweet musk familiar but so much more intense because this time Derek knew why it was there. He should probably say something, make the silence less palpable, but words just weren’t forming at the moment.

Instead he just moved to sit back on the couch, finding warmth in the cushions.

“If it’s going to be like this the rest of the night I’m going to need to have some more wine,” Stiles huffed, sitting down as well but this time much further away from Derek.

Lisa smirked, “I second that.”

“I’m more of a water person,” Derek shrugged.


 

Another glass of wine, after another glass of wine probably wasn’t the best idea. Of course, he wasn’t going to tell Lisa she couldn’t drink- she’d bought it and she was of age by human standards. Stiles on the other hand...Stiles was passed out face first on the couch, his underage stomach full of wine and food.

“‘M gonna explode,” Lisa slurred, from the dining table.

Derek glanced over to her with a smirk, “I just think you’re drunk and you overate.”

“I think you’re right,” Lisa said, downing the rest of her glass before fully relaxing in her chair, “thank you for th’dinner and stuff. It was real good.”

“Anytime, glad you enjoyed it,” he said before shoving up his sleeves for the millionth time to continue scrubbing dishes before setting them into the dishwasher. It was a slower clean up process than he’d like considering the other two were just not up to it at the moment.

Lisa pretty much adored the green bean casserole, Stiles ate his body weight in ham and gravy, and Derek had the sweet potatoes and marshmallows to himself. The table had been lively; jokes, stories, and Derek found himself enjoying it. For once his shoulders weren’t bunched, his muscles didn’t ache from tension, and he wasn’t really keeping one ear out for the next threat.

He was just there , and that was a big step for him.

“So--”

“Don’t go there.”

Lisa made a noise, almost hurt, “what do ya mean don’t go there?”

“You know what I mean,” Derek sighed as he finished up with the remaining dishes.

“Ohhh I know, but really you should talk about it. He’s asleep. I’m here so you can get it all off your chest, plus I’m pretty drunk so like...I probably won’t even remember this tomorrow,” she said, trying her best to add logic to her drunken slur.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” he said with finality, wiping his hands on a kitchen towel before returning to Lisa, “and now I need to get you home before it gets too dark to drive in the snow.”

“Fine. We’ll talk in the car then,” Lisa shrugged and stumbled to her feet.

Derek rolled his eyes as he walked through the hall to the foyer, grabbing his phone keys and shoved on his outdoor clothes again. Eventually he noticed Lisa struggling with lacing up her snow boots, so he had her sit on the slight step from the door while he gave her a hand doing the simple task. By the time they were in the car the snow fall lightened considerably and the headlights gave him surprising visibility.

Even if his vision alone would’ve allowed him to see, the law was kind of against him plus Lisa would’ve probably lost her shit.

“We’re in the car,” Lisa said.

“How astute of you to notice,” Derek shot back.

Her hand smacked against his arm, a sleepy laugh falling from her mouth, “you’re being a brooding dick. Knock it off.”

“You’re not the shy clerk from the store I remember.”

“Takes a while for me to open up, but stop deflecting. We’re gonna talk about the massive UST between you and Stiles,” Lisa insisted.

Derek choked on air.

UST ?”

“Unresolved sexual--”

“I know what it means but why the hell do you think Stiles and I have it?”

“Because it’s literally visible at some points. Honestly Derek, he looks at you like you hung the moon and you look at him like he built very earth you walk on. Jesus I really don’t understand how you’re denying these things. Tell me straight on that you don’t have feelings for him.”

Derek opened his mouth, his own heart running wild in his chest, but nothing came out. Words fell short because that was the thing...it would be a lie if he said that. The tips of his ears burned red and he was thankful for the darkness within the car which hid them from sight.

“That’s what I thought,” Lisa said.

“Why do you even care?” He asked as he turned down the main road, pulling back up to the small grocery store. She lives in one of the two apartments above for cheap.

Lisa unbuckled her seatbelt, the silence within the car ringing in their ears, “I care because I lost that. I lost the one person I cared for most before I could tell them how I felt...so forgive me for trying to save you the same pain.”

She sounded a bit more sober now, like whatever memory she had pulled up was too much for her and crashed whatever substance high she’d been on. Derek looked out the windshield, watching the few bystanders outside navigate the snowy terrain, watched the festive street lights wind up street poles and signs.

“Happy Thanksgiving Lisa, thanks for coming,” Derek said after a while, still not meeting her eyes.

There was a sigh followed by the door opening, “Happy Thanksgiving, Derek.”

With that the door slammed shut and the small woman rushed through the cold and into the building. He waited until he saw the lights flicker from the windows above the shop before pulling away, making a u-turn back to the house. Snow crunched under his tires and the hum of the engine vibrated the steering wheel, distracting him from deeper thought.

The dark woods soon broke into the clearing, the house lighting up the white surroundings with a warm orange glow. The very second he shut off the car the sound of soft snores and a dying fire could be heard from inside. Derek let himself sit in the car for a moment, letting himself have a private breather before walking in. His skin pebbled from the temperature change and his shoes tracked in already melting snow.

Stiles was awkwardly contorted on the couch, a pillow trapped in his embrace as his foot hung off the edge. His mouth was hanging open, snores coming and going rhythmically, his nose twitching here and there. Derek looked away, Lisa’s words haunting his actions even as she was gone.

After a quick journey to the laundry room he grabbed a spare blanket, coming back to find Stiles in another odd position. Derek almost felt bad that he’d wake up with a kink in his neck. Almost.

He unfolded the plush throw, and draped it across the younger man, making sure he was covered completely before letting him sleep in peace.

Derek didn’t stop and admire the calmness in Stiles as he slept.

He didn’t.

Once the fire was put out and all lights but the table lamp by the couch were off, he retreated upstairs to his room for the night.

Chapter Text

“Ughhh,” Stiles moaned when he tried to open his eyes but failed to do so. The light from the massive living room windows was more than enough to have his head spinning and his stomach churning.

He turned back into the couch cushions and buried himself into the blanket, shielding himself from the brightness. The entirety of his body ached and moving felt like a chore. Is this what getting hit like a train felt like? Feeling sluggish he was almost tempted to go back to sleep when his mind suddenly came upon the realization that he had a blanket.

From what he kind of remembers he was chilling on the couch, and at some point he must’ve fallen asleep on it, because he just woke up on it.

The thing was, there hadn’t been a blanket on it last night.

Stiles felt his face fill with heat as he put two and two together, coming to the conclusion that Derek had gotten him a blanket. It had his lips split into a hidden smile and his stomach swooping in a better way than it had a minute ago. If anything he curled into the blanket further with the newfound information.

“Take this and drink some water. Coffee and omelets are in the kitchen when you’re ready,” a voice - oh God such a loud voice - said, followed by a clink on the side table near Stiles’ head.

“Nughh,” Stiles managed, not looking up but rather pushing himself into the cushions as far as he could.

There was a small laugh followed by fading footsteps. Derek’s laugh was possibly Stiles’ new favorite sound, it was gorgeous and needed to be heard more. For a while Stiles let him relish it because last night was a pretty clear indication that his feelings may be a little more than platonic for the guy.

If Derek didn’t pick up on it then he’s more hard headed than Scott.

Within a few minutes the promise of food and drink had him sitting up, his bones protesting the whole way. His lanky hands covered his eyes while they attempted to adjust to the harsh light. In the end Stiles gave up and let his eyes hurt as he searched the side table for the aspirin and water Derek had left for him.

The water felt good in his throat but he didn’t down it, his stomach was still shaky.

He stood up, wrapping his body in the blanket for warmth as he ventured to the kitchen. Derek was in the lower part of the room, technically the dining room, sitting at the table with breakfast of his own in front of him.

“Morning,” Derek said without looking up from his worn paperback.

Stiles wasn’t hungover.

He was dead.

D ead, because Derek Hale was sitting criss cross on a chair, munching softly on his breakfast while wearing that fucking thumbhole sweater. Not only that but his hair was all sleep rumpled and his facial hair was unkempt, a rustic book in hand that looked like it’s been read hundreds of times.

Whoa, Stiles needed time to recover. Derek can’t just do him like this first thing in the morning, it just wasn’t fair. Not while Stiles was messed up from his wine induced coma, his face probably covered in dried drool, and his jeans all crusty from the day before.

“Uh, morning to you too,” Stiles rasped and loped around the island counters to grab a pre-made plate and a mug of piping hot coffee.

“Decaf. Three sugars and that flavored creamer you like,” Derek added as if he knew Stiles was wondering how the coffee was made. He was very particular about it.

Stunned Stiles just croaked out a, “thanks” before he grabbed his things and joined Derek at the table. His eyes were cast down to his plate, a colorful mess of an omelet and potatoes mixed with bell peppers greeted him. Thick aromas of spices and herbs rose with the steam coming off of the food, making his mouth water.

Their forks clanked against the plate, Stiles devouring his food with gusto after the first amazing bite. If Stiles wasn’t so head-over-heels for Derek he might’ve asked the food out on a date. By the time his plate was empty Derek was dog-earing his page, finally looking over to Stiles.

“How are you feeling?”

“Like I never want to drink again,” Stiles laughed.

Derek shook his head with an amused smile, “not for a while at least.”

“Probably,” Stiles agreed.

His gaze shifted to the window, watching the outside with glee. It never snowed in California, unless one went north or on a mountain. So seeing it in such a large quantity was making him feel like a child again. The trees and their limbs were embraced by a thick layer of ice, fluffy snow packed the ground, and given the location of the house it happened to look like a cheesy scenic holiday card.

Stiles didn’t mind.

“I’m not used to it either” Derek said, following his gaze outside.

“We should go out there, I mean, if you want…” Stiles suggested, it was better than sitting inside all day. It would spare them from the stress of online shopping for a few hours, that shit was harder than it looks.

Derek threw him an arched look, “and do what?”

“I don’t know,” Stiles shrugged, “we could build a snowman, I could attempt to go against you in a snowball fight. Listen, my whole childhood was spent in hot and dry California, let me have the experience.

“Aren’t you a little too hungover for that?”

“Pfft, what the hell does that have to do with having some winter fun? Don’t be a Grinch, dude.”

“Don’t call me dude,” Derek mumbled.

“Dude, take me up on some outside snow fun and I’ll stop calling you dude, Dude.”

“You’re ridiculous….go get your snow stuff on,” Derek said, setting his book on the table before taking the plates back to the kitchen.

Stiles let out a happy sound, standing up a little too quick for his body’s liking, but he recovered and trudged upstairs to his room. After a certain point, when his stay was something kind of permanent, Derek had shoved him in the car one day and took him to some outdoors store in Aspen. A hoodie and old chucks weren’t going to hold through the winter months.

So here he was now, long johns under his jeans; layering his shirts until he was setting it with a heavy winter coat. Toes were kept toasty by thick wool socks and heavy snow boots. Stiles walked downstairs as he shoved on gloves.

The kitchen was clean and abandoned, and Stiles didn’t hear Derek follow him upstairs.

Confused he approached the sliding glass door to the back porch, to see if Derek had gone out already. The clothes Derek had been wearing early were folded on a shelf beside the door...which, odd.

Stiles looked back outside, spotting human shaped footsteps within the snow right by the door, but the drop off by the steps cut off the trail.

“Derek?” Stiles called, exiting the house to follow the footsteps.

The air stung his lungs and his nose felt frozen already. Suddenly he was so glad he let Derek practically mom him at the store to get him all the warm clothes. Snow crunched under his feet as he followed the trail towards the steps, observing carefully where the indents in the snow seemed to get smaller and misshapen.

“What the fuc- AHHH !”

It wasn’t a very manly scream, but given that there was a gigantic wolf in front of him he wasn’t going to dwell on it. His body flailed and his head started pounding again, reminding him he was still pretty hungover. If the rail of the porch wasn’t there he would’ve fallen on his ass. Before panic could set in, and definitely before Stiles tried to find a big enough icicle to defend himself with, he registered the glowing blue eyes giving him a rather unimpressed look.

Derek !?” Stiles gasped, eyes wide in awe as he watched the wolf nod slightly.

The animal in front of him was large, not like an average wolf, like he was pretty sure if Derek came closer his head would fall somewhere near Stiles’ hip. Derek’s inky black fur looked soft, the wind flowed through it effortlessly and small snowflakes were smattered through it. Not to mention the strong canine muscles the guy sported, it was slightly terrifying.

“You’re a wolf, an actual wolf,” he muttered dumbly, and Derek somehow managed to roll his eyes just as bitchy as he could as a human. Stiles stood still, still taking in the sight before him, as Derek started to trot up to him. His paws dragged in the snow, his heavy breath billowing out in a cloud. He gnawed at his lip as Derek practically headbutted him at the hip, his ears rubbing at Stiles’ jacket.

Nervously, he raised a hand and let it hover above Derek’s fur, not sure if he had permission to touch him. However like a sixth sense Derek’s ears perked up and his head rose to meet Stiles’ hand. Beneath his palm was the softest and warmest thing he’d ever felt; the wolf was like the best teddy bear in the world. His fingers dove right into the fur, scratching and playing with it, his face breaking out into a huge grin.

The moment his hand dipped lower to his neck was when Derek’s hind leg hiked up and kicked once. In an instant Stiles was almost crying from laughter as Derek backed away with a small unthreatening growl.

“Dude, you--like, ohmygod that was hilarious,” Stiles wheezed, laughter bubbling up in his throat.

Obviously Derek wasn’t a fan and began trotting away.

“Okay. Okay, sorry Derek!” Stiles called, even though he didn’t really need to, and started after the guy.

Derek didn’t pause, and wow, rude. Stiles however did pause and bent down ignoring how his body protested and started collecting snow in his hand. Once it was a nice ball shape he took aim and threw. The snowball hurled through the air only to land a good foot left of Derek. His jaw dropped, and at that Derek finally paused to look from the snowball back to Stiles.

“Oops?”

With a small yip Derek rushed back, and Stiles would be lying if he said watching a massive supposedly deadly wolf run at him, but he kept his cool. Quickly he balled up another snowball, waiting until Derek was closer until throwing it. This time, thankfully, he managed to get the snowball to graze the wolf.

Derek skidded to a halt in the snow, using his snout to flick up snow at Stiles. Snickering, Stiles backed away and stumbled as he leaned low to collect more snow, balling it up before throwing it again. With his usual grace he managed to trip over his own feet as he threw it, falling back into the snow. The snow itself was surprisingly hard and it fluffed around him when he landed with a yelp.

“Ugh, nausea,” he groaned, shutting his eyes while the feeling died down.

For a moment he felt better, blocking out the light of day with his eyelids, until a rough feeling smushed his nose and mouth. That...that did not make him feel better. Eyes opening he was greeted with Derek looking down at him, his front paw pressed against Stiles’ face with no remorse. The least he had expected was maybe a lick to the face...not a paw.

Confused, Stiles shoved it off, “you’re a dick. Why would you even?”

Derek snuffed, with the best shrug he could manage in that form, before stepping back to give him room. Stiles smiled a little, laughing before letting his body sprawl out and flail.

“Snow angels, Derek. Fundamental part of childhood that I missed,” he explained, waving his limbs for a while longer before taking a pause. Derek just sat on his haunches, watching with a blank face. That was not okay, this was a mutual thing, mutual non-stress fun time and Derek was spending it just sitting there.

“You too, make a snow wolf or something.”

Derek tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eyes.

“Do it. Do it. Do ittttt,” Stiles pressed, “do it or I’ll never stop calling you dude.

Derek continued to sit there.

“I’ll tell my dad you let me drink my ass off--”

Derek growled and fell backwards into the snow, all four legs sticking up. For a moment Derek craned his neck to look at Stiles, giving him a side eye before wiggling on the ground. Stiles only expected it to happen for a second, but suddenly Derek kept doing it and his tongue was hanging out of his mouth. It shouldn’t have been that cute but it really was.

Stiles pulled off his glove and got his phone out, opening the camera and quickly getting a video of it. There wasn’t going to be another chance like this, plus he was ninety percent sure Cora would get a kick out of it. Same with his dad and Scott.

He shoved his glove back on before his hand froze, putting his phone back into his pocket before he could be caught. Derek eventually slowed down, rolling onto his side so he was laying down casually.

“Enjoy that?”

Derek looked away, Stiles smirked.

“So do you wanna lay over there or do you wanna get your furry ass over here and keep me warm until I feel like I can get up?” Stiles asked.

There was a heavy pause, and Derek kept looking out at the icy woods for a while before looking to Stiles. Then heavy paws padded over and when Derek was sprawled out beside Stiles he almost ran the same length, just a tad short.

“Ugh, you’re huge,” Stiles groaned, rolling on his side to bury himself into the soft downy fur. There was a huffy noise from Derek but other than that they remained silent. Derek was producing an insane amount of heat and Stiles wanted to curl in and stay forever. That was until a cold and very wet nose nudged at his cheek.

“Dude!”

Chapter Text

Derek pulled into the parking lot of the motel, the snow crunching under the car even as it slowed to a halt. In the car the smell of stale cheeto dust and stagnate gas station coffee was thick, the seat beneath him worn in and uncomfortable.

They had been in the car for nine hours, straight shooting it from Sloane to De Moines. While Derek probably could have made the eighteen hour drive without an overnight stop, Stiles claimed he was going crazy and needed a bed.

“Thank God,” Stiles groaned from the passenger seat, stretching out like a spaz.

Derek chuckled softly and got out of the car, “stay here, the heat’s on. I’ll go get a room for the night.”

“Sounds great,” Stiles nodded, blasting the heat as high as it would go.

Once Stiles was shut in Derek turned on his heel, making his way towards the motel office. The sky was dark, the last sliver of sunlight had vanished a while ago. It only made the wind chill feel colder against his skin. By the time he found warmth in the office his face felt frozen.

Behind the counter was a gruff looking man, worry lines gracing his face.

“Lucky you, we’ve only got one room left,” the guy said, pulling something up on his computer.

Derek approached the counter, “would it happen to be a room with two beds?”

“No, it would not happen to be. Sixty bucks, you want it or not?”

For a moment Derek hesitated, but logic won. It was only for a night and if it was too uncomfortable he could sleep on the floor or in the car so Stiles could have the bed. He fished his wallet out of his pocket and handed the guy his debit card, waiting a good five minutes for the card scanner to work, before being handed the keys to the room.

“Enjoy your stay,” the guy called and Derek threw a wave behind his shoulder as he left. The wind slammed the door shut behind him rather harshly, snow from overhead had begun to fall again.

Back at the car Stiles was fiddling with the radio, trying his best to get his hand down a pringle can to no avail. It was oddly endearing, Derek not minding how dumb it looked. He opened the car door and took the keys out of the ignition, promptly shutting the heating and radio off. In signal he held up the keys to the room, which had Stiles all but bolting from the car.

Stiles took the keys, took his blanket and pillow, and opted to get to the room in favor of “ not freezing to death ”. It gave Derek time to collect the trash from the car and throw it away in a nearby dumpster before retreating to their room for the night. Carefully he slipped off his snow boots and set them by the door when he walked in.

“I thought--”

He paused when he realized Stiles wasn’t even in the room, but it only took a moment for his ears to pick up on a whimper and the flow of water. His eyes flickered to the bathroom door which was shut, steam seeping out from under the door. Though he didn’t want to admit it, hearing the soft noise from Stiles made his face and ears heat up.

Fuck ,” he muttered, scrubbing a hand down his face as he shed his jacket and moved to turn up the heater even if the sign beside it said it would be an extra charge.

A few moments later he heard the water pressure change followed by another soft moan. Derek swallowed with an audible click; it wasn’t sexual, he’d be able to smell the arousal from Stiles. It was more of a satisfactory smell, probably due to the warm shower curing the chill from the snow outside.

When another one of those moans came from the bathroom Derek let out a growl, his hand violently grabbed the remote and turned something random on the TV just for some white noise. It seemed to do the trick, and with that he fell back onto the bed with a sigh. He may be a werewolf and his healing was superior, that didn’t mean his body couldn’t ache. As of right now his legs and back felt rather sore from being in a car for so long.

Despite this being a motel bed it would have him feeling better in the morning.

For a while he settled on watching some B-list movie, the edges of sleep creeping up on him by the time Stiles was walking out of the bathroom in a worn graphic t-shirt and pajama pants. His hair was wet and matted to his forehead, small droplets of water pooled around his collar bone.

“I, uh, there’s probably hot water left if you want a shower,” Stiles said and sat on the edge of the bed.

“I’ll take one in the morning, ‘m too tired to take one now,” Derek yawned, “how’s the water pressure?”

“Not too bad actually,” Stiles answered, turning back to glance at the TV, his fingers nervously playing with the string of his pants.

Derek hummed, eyelids feeling heavy, “sorry about the bed. It was the only room they--”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve had to share a much smaller bed with Scott, I’m sure a queen is more than big enough for the two of us. Now go to sleep, you look like crap...no offense.”

He chuckled and rolled over before falling asleep.


Sun filtered in from the window, the white outside only made the light brighter. Derek groaned and looked away, burying his face into the pillow for shelter. It was then when he registered the hairs tickling his face and the hot breath against his neck. Startled, he let his eyes open despite how the light irritated them and looked down to see Stiles pressed up against him.

Their legs were tangled up in each others, the sheets and blankets wove around them, binding them tight. Stiles’ head was tucked into the crook of Derek’s neck, mouth open with soft snores pouring out. His own arm was acting like a pillow for the younger man, most of the fingers on that hand tingled with numbness. Yet he found himself ignoring the feeling in favor of letting his eyes trace the splatter of beauty marks across Stiles’ face, taking in the obscenely long eyelashes and arched eyebrows.

Derek felt his stomach flutter, the unusual sensation making his skin rise with goosebumps.

The clock on the bedside table read a little past eight.

“Stiles,” Derek whispered into the crown of his head, “we have to get on the road.”

In response Stiles groaned and curled in closer, mumbling something incoherent before seeming to fall back asleep. Derek felt his cheeks turn up into a lazy smile, taken back by the response he had gotten. This time he let his hand fall onto Stiles’ arm, gently running his fingers up and down the soft skin in hopes of waking him up.

Stiles whined, nose scrunched in response before his eyes finally cracked open.

“Huh?” Stiles opened with, his face still hidden in Derek’s neck.

“It’s eight. I need time to shower and for us to get breakfast, and be on the road by ten,” Derek said clearing the sleep from his voice.

“Oh...five more minutes,” the teen yawned, “please?”

Derek sighed, because he knew they didn’t really have the time to have five more minutes. Regardless he nodded with a fond smile, “sure. Five more minutes.”

Stiles tried to get out something that sounded like a “thanks” but it was muffled and weak.

The next five minutes were a mix of soft breaths, warmth, and Derek trying his best to keep calm and enjoy the moment. This time, instead of trying to wake up Stiles he simply slipped out from the bed and opted to let Stiles sleep. The teen let out an affronted noise, his body trying to find something to curl around. Eventually he found a pillow and latched on, snuffling a little before settling back into sleep.

Derek let himself linger, taking in the moment for a while longer before retreating to the bathroom to take a quick shower. He turned up the knob as hot as it would go, the scalding water cascaded down his tense muscles and loosened them substantially. Derek wasn’t keen on staying in the shower longer than he had to, so he made quick work of washing up before exiting.

While he was shoving on his clothes his phone went off on the sink. He grabbed it and looked at the text.

Incoming - Cora Hale, 8:34 am

>You’re still planning on coming in around seven, right?

 

Outgoing - Derek Hale, 8:35 am

<Yeah.

 

Incoming - Cora Hale, 8:35 am

>Is Stiles with you? Did you manage to fix it?

 

Outgoing - Derek Hale, 8:39 am

<Yes, what’s with the interrogation?

 

Incoming - Cora Hale, 8:40 am

>Just making sure. I told Henry we were having him as well.

 

Outgoing - Derek Hale, 8:42 am

<Okay. We’ll see you soon. Love you.

 

Incoming - Cora Hale, 8:44 am

>Love you too, bro.

 

With that Derek pocketed his phone once he was dressed, returning to the bedroom to find Stiles standing by the door dressed and ready to go. Not questioning it, Derek shoved on his outdoor gear and made sure they collected everything of theirs before leaving the room.

“What happened to sleeping in?” Derek asked as they walked to the front office.

Stiles shoved his hands in his pockets, “I, uh, got kind of cold….without you, so I figured I would just get dressed.”

It shouldn’t have made Derek go a little weak in the knees, but it did. He brushed it off casually and nodded easily before opening the door for both of them. While the guy from last night was no longer at the desk he still left the room keys on the counter, turning back to see Stiles nearly wrestling with a vending machine.

The thing had dispensed a peanut butter cup, but it was dangling halfway.

“Come the fuck on man,” Stiles snarled, shaking the machine.

“Here...let me,” Derek offered, and shook the machine himself, knowing he could add a little extra power to it.

The candy Stiles bought had fallen...among several other candies, all clattered to the slot at the bottom. Derek froze, his eyes meeting Stiles’ which were equally as wide as his own. There was a noise from the backroom, whoever was in there obviously heard the commotion.

“Go, go, go,” Derek rushed and Stiles bent down, his hands scooping up the candy before rushing out of the office. Nervously Derek slipped a twenty on the counter as well before running out to the car, unlocking it and throwing himself in. The second Stiles was in he started it up and tore out of the parking lot, eventually both of them safe on the road.

The car was silent, until it wasn’t, both of them exploding in laughter.

“You shook out like all of the candy! Derek that was awesome,” Stiles cackled, face red.

Derek took a deep breath, “I wouldn’t say awesome, it was something for sure.”

“I needed you around as a kid, that happened all the time.”

“Good to know I’m only good for vending machine mishaps.”

“Shut up, that isn’t the only thing you’re good for, now I think we can drive for a while before we need to stop and get breakfast. Sound good?” Stiles asked.

“No,” Derek said instantly, “in five minutes when we’re back on the interstate you’re gonna whine about being hungry. We’re stopping in De Moines.”

While Stiles didn’t say much else, Derek caught the smile on his face which was more than enough.

Chapter Text

Stiles was metaphorically going insane this time around.

He and Derek had pulled up to the Johnston pack house moments ago, the massive house in the middle of nowhere Minnesota - did all werewolves have a thing for houses in forests? - stood tall and proud amongst the trees. Several cars were lined up and he could see tons of people inside congregating and….

...and Stiles was nervous.

The only packs other than his own that he knew was Satomi’s and the Alpha pack. All of them unconventional, terrible, or a total shit show. According to Derek and Cora the Johnstons were well established, hunter free for years, and the polar opposite of Scott’s pack.

“Stop it,” Derek deadpanned as they approached the door.

“Stop it? Stop what?”

“Stop freaking out, I’m choking on the chemosignals.”

Stiles paused, “oh. Uh, yeah I’ll work on containing my chemosignals after I figure out how to master interspace travel--”

The door swung open then; warmth flowing out of the house, along with the smell of home cooked food, and a constant buzz of conversation. Cora stood there, a smile gracing her face as she looked over the both of them. Here she looked softer; her hair thrown up messily, a sweater engulfing her thin frame, so unlike the Cora he’d met in Beacon Hills.

The first thing she did was get them out of the snow, stepping back to let them in. Stiles kicked the snow off his boots before stepping onto the foyer and set his suitcase beside him as he shed his winter layers. Derek followed suit but had to pause to hug his younger sister.

“Hey, bro,” Cora greeted, “been a while.”

“I texted you today.”

“I meant face to face,” she corrected, flicking his cheek much to his dismay.

Stiles snickered which only brought the attention onto him. Derek stepped back and allowed Cora to cross to him.

“And you...it really has been a while, come here,” Cora said before she pulled him into a big hug.

Her strength tested his bone density but he lived through it, hugging her back just as tightly and rocked with it a little.

“Hey Cora, nice to see you in person again. You look...happy, you look good,” Stiles said, giving her one last squeeze before parting.

With that she lead the two of them into the house, the narrow foyer breaking into a huge living space. The tall ceiling allowed for a tall Christmas tree, the thing towering up into the second floor. He had the urge to ask how the hell they even decorated that high, but the answer was right in front of him.

Werewolves. Duh.

People were strewn about, lounging on couches and children ran all around. Many of them were wolfed out and play fighting with one another. It was a bizarre sight. Stiles glanced to Derek who gave him a reassuring smile as they walked into the dining room.

Stiles may not be a werewolf but he instantly knew who the Alpha was. He was a shorter man but that didn’t make him any less powerful, his hair greying slightly, and his posture powerful. Others in the room took notice of their presence and waved, and Derek was the one to wave back. Stiles simply smiled softly to a few before focusing on the Alpha and the woman approaching them.

“Derek! Oh sweetheart it’s been forever, come here,” said the woman, her blonde hair stark against her tanned skin.

Derek smiled, which was still a sight Stiles was getting used to, and hugged her tight, “hi, Marie. Good to see you again. How’s the yoga class going?”

“Good. It’s good, I think I’m going to stick with it,” the woman -Marie- responded and stepped back for the Alpha to have his words.

The man stepped forward and gave Derek a hug and a warm welcome just like the others. After that he looked right at Stiles, eyes flashing red for the slightest moment before flickering back to brown. Stiles couldn’t help but flinch out of habit more than anything else.

“Sorry I--”

“No need kid, I know somewhat of what you and your pack has been through. I was just letting you know my status in the pack, I mean no harm. Name is Henry Johnston, nice to meet you…?”

Stiles shook the hand Henry extended to him, “Stiles Stilinski, and yes that is a nickname.”

“Well Stiles, welcome to the most hectic holidays you’ll ever encounter. Hope you like chicken parm,” Henry chuckled, and left him and Derek to do something else.

While Stiles had been expecting more, that was all there was. Henry and Marie weren’t interrogating them, growling at him, making some snide comment about him being human. It was a normal house party with totally normal party goers. It was a culture shock to say the least, and Stiles was handling it with silence.

For once in his life he was stunned into silence. He walked around nearly attached to Derek’s hip, and while Derek was the one who gave smooth welcomes and greetings, Stiles could barely choke out an awkward “hello”. The Johnston pack and other auxiliary members found his uneasiness as endearing.

Stiles wasn’t endearing.

He was annoying, sarcastic, sometimes idiotic, mostly too smart for his own good. Endearing has never been a synonym for Stiles. Actually, there is probably not a real synonym for Stiles but that didn’t matter.

Outside the sun was gone, their late arrival basked the house in darkness, only staved off by the roaring fire and the soft lights. Stiles was curled into the side of the couch, watching the throng of people chit chat about things he couldn’t even begin to comprehend. His knees were pulled up to his chest, socked feet curled into the couch cushion beneath him. Derek had taken a moment to go to the bathroom and get a drink, but it’s been a while and Stiles figured he’s been roped into conversation.

“He’llo!”

Stiles looked in front of him, eyes catching nothing until they traveled lower to see a small familiar face. His mind took him back to the first time back at the house, Cora’s Skype call, this had been the little boy who wanted Derek to travel back.

“Hi,” Stiles waved at him.

The boy took it as some sort of signal to practically jump up on him. The first thing his body did was let out a small squeak and the second thing was a small flail. For whatever reason the kid found it funny, giggling as his hands kneaded at Stiles’ shirt.

“You name?” The boy asked.

“I’m Stiles, what’s your name?”

“Nick!”

Stiles offered him a smile, “nice to meet you, Nick.”

“P’ay wif me?” Nick asked, head cocking to the left with the question. The puppy joke that came to mind was probably wildly inappropriate, so he kept it to himself. Nick’s eyes flashed a bright gold when Stiles seemed to take a while to respond, an unhappy noise coming from him.

“Of course my dude, whatcha want to play?”

Nick lit up, jumping off Stiles in favor of running to a play box on the other side of the room. He was pretty impressed at the speed the toddler could run, in a year or two he would probably be faster than Stiles.

Within seconds Nick returned with three things in hand; a tiara, a sword, and a knight helmet. Within minutes Stiles was a princess dragon doing their best to fight and take down the mighty Knight Nick. There were several guests who watched with smiles for varying amounts of time before returning to their conversation, he was pretty sure a teenage pack member was snapchatting him. Stiles pretended to breath fire and Nick screamed and bashed him pretty hard with the sword.

“Oh...no...getting weaker,” Stiles gasped, faking a wounded arm.

Nick flashed his eyes with a smile while his sword came down on him again, “got you!”

Stiles gasped, letting out a choking noise before falling to the ground and played dead. Nick jumped on him with a victorious roar, a small one for sure, and Stiles opened his eyes to give the boy a high five.

“Making friends Nick?”

Stiles looked above, spotting Derek looming over them. The older werewolf didn’t give the child time to respond before tossing said child into the air a few times and giving him a hug. Nick wailed in joy, body flailing happily.

“Yea! ‘Tiles is coool,” Nick nodded as he was set back down.

“I’m the coolest,” Stiles confirmed, looking pointedly at Derek who rolled his eyes before helping Stiles up to his feet. It wasn’t long before Nick went speeding away to do something else, leaving Stiles in a tiara standing in the middle of the living room.

Derek looked him over, and Stiles couldn’t help but feel his face heat up. It probably wasn’t the best idea to let himself feel like that in a house full of people who could literally smell emotion, but Derek just did things to him.

He reached for the crown on his head, letting its prongs slip from his hair, “I think I’m done playing princess dragon for the night.”

“Cora got it on video,” Derek smirked.

“Of course she did,” Stiles said, his eyes rolling with little heat behind it.

“So,” he started, “did the princess dragon work up an appetite? I think they saved you a plate of food.”

“Yes, lead me,” Stiles groaned, just having realized how hungry he actually was. Not just for a gas station corn dog, like an actual home cooked meal. Derek turned around and lead him through the house back to the dining room. Some point along the way Stiles set the tiara on a random surface, hoping Nick would find it.

The hallway was stopped short by the archway to the dining room, the pictures lining the wall making the place warm and cozy. They hadn’t even stepped into the dining room all the way when a cluster of voices yelled at them to stop. Immediately Stiles’ mind went on high alert, scanning the room to find nothing but the pack.

Confusion ran through him as he glanced to Derek who only gave a shrug in response, both of them turning back to the members who had just yelled at them.

“Look up,” an older man said, pointing just above their heads.

A pit formed in Stiles’ stomach, falling out of his ass when his eyes landed on mistletoe that was haphazardly taped up. He caught Derek freezing up beside him, looking equally if not more uncomfortable than Stiles did.

“Isn’t mistletoe something that can kill you guys?” Stiles blurted out.

“It’s fake, just for looks and tradition,” Marie answered through her cup of coffee, “and in this house we don’t break tradition, boys.”

Stiles couldn’t just not do it at this point. If he was being completely honest, the thought of kissing Derek was basically a dream come true, but realistically Derek was probably weirded out to kiss him...because they were friends. Friends don’t kiss, not like one is supposed to do under the mistletoe. He felt his breath hitch in his throat as his mind tried to come up with several ways to get out of this. Maybe Derek ate something with nuts in it, so kissing him could put him at risk of an allergic reaction. Maybe Stiles had like...herpes or something, but that thought was shut down the moment he remembered that werewolves can’t get that.

Maybe--

Stiles didn’t have anymore time to think because rough hands cupped his face and warm lips were on his. That was all though. There weren’t any fireworks, no moment of knee weakening elation. It was just a kiss. The kind of kiss one would give their ninety year old grandmother, but a kiss nonetheless. His eyes were wide open, staring at Derek’s eyelids and slight freckling on the bridge of his nose. All the breath he had was stolen and he couldn’t take a new one yet.

Stiles didn’t know if he was kissing back, or where to put his hands, or how to really react. He just stood there frozen as Derek kissed him awkwardly. By the time it did end and they were pulling away he still felt too shocked to breathe. Derek’s face was tomato red and it trailed up into his ears. Stiles probably didn’t look much better.

His heart felt like lead in his ribcage and anxiety rolled off of him.

“Uh, I’m--not super hungry. Just kinda tired from the trip, so I’m just gonna ya know...get some sleep. Thanks for having me, I’ll see you all in the morning? Yeah I’m just gonna...go...to sleep…” Stiles rambled, backing into the hall.

A nervous looking Michael cleared his throat, “up the stairs, sixth door on your left. That’s your room.”

“Thanks,” Stiles nodded before practically running up stairs, leaving Derek and the Johnston’s to deal with the aftershocks. He counted the doors on his left before getting to the sixth one, throwing himself inside without a second thought.

His back rested against the door, his head hitting it with a thunk as he tried to collect himself. However that seemed to not be happening so he opted to strip off his day old clothes and shakily climb into pajamas. The worn material of his sweats and t-shirt did little to soothe him.

For whatever reason -- no, he really did know the reason, it was Derek-freaking-Hale -- he just couldn’t keep his cool. He just kissed Derek, under the mistletoe, in front of a bunch of strangers, in the name of tradition or whatever. That wasn’t how he imagined it going when he pictured kissing Derek for the first time.

Not that he imagined kissing Derek a lot, because he didn’t.

The more accurate thing to say is he imagined it sometimes, and out of those sometimes this was never a scenario that came to mind.

Stiles grabbed his pillow out of his suitcase, throwing it onto the bed along with his body, curling into it for comfort. His fingers itched to reach for his phone and punch in the number; her number, but he had stopped paying the bill the moment he left Creed. Her number was gone, disconnected, and he had nobody to talk to.

Derek was probably over it, partying away downstairs. Scott and his father wouldn’t get it. Lydia is probably off being too smart to deal with his bullshit. Lisa and him weren’t really close enough yet for him to randomly call her at this hour. He wasn’t close enough to even think about calling Malia, Kira, or Liam.

The only person he could talk to was fucking dead.

Jesus, his life was terrible.

He left the light on as he crawled under the blanket, shoving his face into the pillow before his eyes got too watery. Honestly, crying would only make his feelings worse, and he was kind of a loud cryer too. Everyone would probably hear and be awkward about it tomorrow morning.

In hindsight, thinking back to his initial invitation to Christmas, he probably should’ve said no to Cora. Not only was he an ass of a houseguest, but he kissed Derek and that was something neither of them could take back.

Stiles wasn’t really all that tired, having slept really well at the motel, but he still forced his thoughts away and fell asleep.

Chapter Text

It was early when Derek made his way down the stairs, most of the Johnston pack was still asleep by the sound of things. His body was tense and his eyebrows were drawn in, unable to unfurl no matter how hard he tried.

Sleepily he turned the corner to the kitchen, finding one of the pack members leaning against the island, bottle feeding their infant.

“Morning, Derek.”

“Morning, Greig, Isabel making a fuss?” He asked as he grabbed a pod for the coffee maker, slipping it in along with a mug before he let it brew him a cup.

Greig smiled, “just some early morning hunger. Izzy is like that sometimes. Sleep well?”

“Alright, weird being back in a house with so many heartbeats.”

“You’ll get used to it. How long are you and...Steve is it....staying for?”

Derek couldn’t hold back a small snort, scrubbing a hand down his face, “Stiles, not Steve. I think we’re staying a day after Christmas before driving back to Colorado.”

Greig nodded, his eyes shifting back to his daughter without much else said. The coffee maker beeped and Derek took his coffee, putting one scoop of sugar in it before turning to leave the kitchen. His legs directed him to the back porch, and he ended up settling on the porch swing protected from snow by the overhang above.

The chill didn’t bother Derek, his bare feet didn’t freeze over from stepping along the bare wood beneath them. Sure, the breeze was a bit nippy, but his higher body temperature plus the thicker pajamas he wore were more than enough to keep him comfortable for a while.

He sat down, sipping on his coffee every now and then as he watched a few birds skid down the frozen lake across the way. It wasn’t snowing right now, the overcast sky was actually breaking up a bit, allowing for some sun to shine down.

Regardless of the scenic view Derek was unable to focus on it. His mind was stuck on last night, on Lisa’s words, his mind was stuck on Stiles. Last night...last night was terrible to say the least. It had been a lot of what he wanted paired with stupid impulse and peer pressure. Then Stiles ran away from it, and Derek didn’t have time to smell how he felt so the best his mind could supply him with is that Stiles didn’t want that.

Which hurt because Derek did, he did want that and that took courage for him.

The first girl he fell in love with was Paige, and he ended up snapping her spine. Then between junior and senior year he fooled around with Ryan Douglass who had been on the basketball team, both of them between people and curious. It was a few times, enough for Ryan to realize he wasn’t interested in guys and enough for Derek to realize he was interested in both. Lastly it had been Kate….Kate Argent who burned his family and left him broken beyond repair.

So to realize he could have something with Stiles was unnerving. His father was the Sheriff of Beacon County, Derek could remember multiple accounts of Stiles saving his life, and Stiles, despite being human, had stuck his nose into so much supernatural shit it’s a surprise he’s even alive.

Stiles was strong, brave, protective, sometimes a tad too talkative, but Stiles was everything Derek wasn’t. Derek wanted to be like that, and he was sure at one point, probably before the fire he had some of those qualities but not anymore. He was closed off, reserved, and sometimes angry. It’s old residual anger that boils over sometimes, and he can’t help it.

Long story short he wanted Stiles, he’d admit that to himself and himself alone. Yet last night it was a clear indication of how those feelings were reciprocated. They weren’t and that hurt the most. This was the first time in a long time he’s letting himself try and have something, and this was something he clearly couldn’t have.

The coffee in his mug had gone cold.

“Hey--”

Derek jumped in his seat, cold coffee sloshed out of the cup and onto his pant leg but mostly the snow below. Glaring he turned his head to see Stiles standing all bundled in snow gear, giving him a wide expression.

“Did I just sneak up on you?” Stiles asked.

“If I say yes are you going to be annoyingly cocky about it and never let me live it down?”

“Do you know me?”

“So, yes,” Derek sighed and set his mug on the side table behind him.

Stiles walked over, his shoes a little slick on the deck, but pointed questioningly to the seat beside him. Derek shrugged and gave a nod, and the guy took the seat only to hiss about it being cold through his pants.

“I don’t really feel like edging around what happened last night and having the rest of the trip be awkward,” Stiles started after a moment, and Derek felt like his guts were being twisted.

“Oh. I’m sorry about that, about last night. I should’ve asked if it was okay to kiss you,” Derek said, keeping his eyes focused on the treeline.

“It’s...well it’s not fine, but thank you. I just, I wish it hadn’t happened. I don’t want it to make things weird between us.”

Derek hid his confusion when he heard the stutter in Stiles’ heart, the blip in time with the words “hadn’t happened.” It was an obvious lie, but he couldn’t tell why Stiles lied about it. Then again, Stiles’ heart did weird things sometimes even without talking; it was probably one of those moments.

“Why would it make things weird?”

“I don’t know, but can we just put it behind us?”

Derek looked over to Stiles then, his mind still playing “I wish it hadn’t happened” on loop. Stiles looked restless, the circles under his eyes were more pronounced than usual, and Derek probably looked just as rustled. His chest ached as he made a move to answer, because it wasn’t the answer he wanted to give, but for Stiles he’d give anything.

“Of course. It’s behind us,” he agreed.

Stiles smiled, but Derek saw the artificialness behind it, “awesome. Now I can ask, how the hell are your balls not freezing off?”

“Werewolf. If I wanted to I could break the ice on the lake and swim in it,” Derek answered nonchalantly before adding “not that I would do that” when Stiles lit up with an idea.

“You’re no fun,” Stiles frowned, collapsing back into his seat.

Derek rolled his eyes and stood up, knees cracking as he did. Mug in hand, he stood in front of Stiles, meeting those amber eyes, “come on, before you freeze. I’m sure everyone is already in the kitchen for Christmas Eve breakfast.”

Stiles hopped up, nearly slipped, but caught himself before following Derek. It made him chuckle a little, as they walked back into the heated home. While Stiles stripped from his snow gear, Derek walked to the kitchen to clean up his mug. Just as his hearing told him, the kitchen and dining room were flooded with people. Everyone cooking, or socializing, or trying to not fall asleep while standing.

“Hey just in time, the first round of breakfast is coming up,” someone told him.

Nodding he grabbed a few things for the table and helped Cora and the twins set the table. It was extended as far as it could go, which sat thirty. Most of the kids would probably eat downstairs in the rec room like they usually did on massive pack get togethers. Stiles snaked in, giving Cora a good morning while sitting beside Derek. Cora opted to sit on Stiles’ other side with Michael.

Derek gave her a grateful look.

“So French toast, bacon and lots of it, fruit salad, scrambled eggs, regular toast, fried eggs, omelets, pancakes, and Fiona is pulling out the biscuits and gravy. Dig in,” Marie announced from one head of the table.

When Stiles went to grab a piece of toast Derek stopped him, “wait.”

“But she said--?”

Derek pointed to the opposite end of the table, where Henry was giving Stiles a soft look.

“One of our customs is the Alpha plates up first, don’t worry about it,” Henry said easily as he loaded up his plate, passing it down so others could dish up instead of handing him everything. By the time Henry got his plate back it was a free-for-all, everyone piling their breakfasts high.

Derek settled on mostly fruit salad, omelets, and bacon.

Stiles drowned his mound of French toast and scrambled eggs with syrup.

“I don’t think your teeth will survive eating that much sugar,” Cora said.

Stiles took a bite, “I dunno. I think I’ll live.”

“We’ll see,” she said, and took a bite of bacon.

“He managed to put away a pile of candy on the way here. I think his teeth can handle it,” Derek added which led to telling the table the story about the vending machine back in Iowa. Laughter roared from everyone and Stiles seemed to thrive on it, suddenly talking about this time he managed to break a vending machine at a hospital.

Derek paused from eating, looking over as Stiles told the story. His hands, those long deft fingers, waved around to help explain the story. His eyes were bright and wide with amusement from talking about the funny event. His syrup shiny lips ran a mile a minute, voice a little raspy from sleep.

Stiles glanced at him, arching a brow, and Derek shook his head, motioning for him to continue.


Christmas morning had been ridiculous.

It had been a mess of joyful screams, wrapping paper everywhere, and the heavy scent of spiced hot cocoa. Due to the sheer amount of pack members, most stuck to just giving presents to immediate family members.

Stiles got a Star Wars themed mug, patterned socks, and rare collector edition comic. Cora got an outdated cellphone charm, slippers, and a book about spanish poetry. Derek got decor for the house, a decorative throw blanket, and a poorly knitted scarf.

After that the day was filled with conversation, clean up, and so on. However, like most holidays with the Johnston pack it was tradition for the wolves to go on a run, leaving the human members and small children at home to continue the celebrations. Eventually the sun set, the sky darkening and the moon casting a blue glow across the snow.

“You running with us?” Michael asked as he walked up to Derek who had been standing by the sliding glass door.

Glancing over at the beta Derek nodded, “yeah. I will.”

“Cool, see you out there?”

“Yep.”

The beta stepped out into the snow, and Derek took another minute to himself before stepping outside as well. The chilled air nipped at his skin and the light from inside casted his shadow onto the snow below. Most of the wolves were already off in the snow, waiting for everyone else to arrive in order to start the run.

Derek moved to take off his shirt when his name was called from inside the house, followed by clumsy footfalls.

“Hey, before you go…” Stiles called as he walked out onto the porch in just a hoodie.

“Before I go?”

“Here,” Stiles prompted, extending an oddly wrapped gift with a mischievous grin on his face. Just from the shape of it Derek rolled his eyes, using a delicate claw to slice the wrapping off. The candy cane print fell to the snow exposing a yellow lamp shade, and the irony of the gift had them both laughing. Apparently the joke from Home Depot wasn’t lost and having one yellow item in the house was going to be a thing.

“Thanks. I mean, this is better than your knitted scarf,” Derek teased.

Stiles smiled, “hey I did so good for my first scarf don’t even.”

“I wasn’t saying it was bad,” Derek said.

There was a pause before Stiles pulled a thin rectangular wrapped thing out of his hoodie, handing it to Derek. He was taken back, feeling a little bad all he had gotten Stiles was the comic. Hesitantly he traded the shade for the third gift, unwrapping it a little more carefully than he did with the shade. More candy cane wrapping fell, only to expose a dark wood picture frame. On the left corner of the frame a triskele was etched into it, but the most surprising thing about it was the picture itself.

He hadn’t seen it since before the fire.

One edge was singed but other than that the picture was fine, if not a little faded from the years and stress. His parents were sitting on beach chairs, Laura and him flanking them, with baby Cora crying about sand in her swimsuit in the middle. It had been one of the earliest vacations he could remember, and this picture had been notorious in their home.

Derek hadn’t realize he was crying until Stiles’ hand was on his shoulder.

“Jeez, I didn’t mean for you to cry or anything--”

“Thank you,” Derek muttered, his thumb rubbing against the glass of the picture frame.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Stiles asked.

“Yeah, thank you,” he repeated and handed the frame back to Stiles, “I need to uh, get going.”

Stiles nodded jerkily, taking a step back but not going inside fully. He turned around, stripping off his shirt and pants and set them on the nearby table that didn’t have snow on it. With that he jumped off the stairs, shifting as he left the porch. By the time he landed he was on four legs instead of two.

With a quick glance back Stiles was still on the porch looking at him with glassy eyes, but despite that gave Derek a wave and a smile before retreating inside. Huffing he looked back to the Johnston pack, giving an affirmative bark as he rushed forward, the rest of them taking off as well.

The run was freeing to say the least; the icy air rushed through his fur, Cora tried and managed to ride on his back a few times before he flung her off, and most of all he managed to keep his mind mostly off Stiles for the next hour.

With every exhale he pushed his legs to run faster, dodging trees and other obstacles. Eventually he managed to almost match speeds with Henry, but couldn’t catch up fully. Snow crunched beneath his paws and made his fur damp. The moon light guided them through the forest, and eventually led them back to the house.

Inside he could tell most children had gone to sleep, the lack of high pitched voices and giggles telling him as much. The muted voices were low and dwindling as older guests retreated to bed for the night. Derek waited until Cora got him a towel and fresh clothes before shifting back and re-entering the house.

“Next time you find out you have the ability to full shift like Mom, tell me?” Cora asked, voice a little bitter.

Derek rolled his eyes, “sorry I didn’t tell you. I’m still getting used to it. Can we not get into it right now?”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever.”

“Don’t get like that ,Cora.”

“Get like what? I think I have the right to be a little pissed about it, Derek. You just...didn’t think to tell me you could do that?” she snapped, growling at him with golden eyes.

Derek snarled at her, “I’m not in the mood. I love you, goodnight.”

With that he took his towel covered body and still folded pajamas and retreated up the stairs to his room. On the way he couldn't help but notice how Stiles’ room door was already shut, and soft snores were coming from it. Frowning as he walked past he made it to his own room, shutting himself in before foregoing clothes at all.

The first thing he noticed was the picture from Stiles on the nightstand. Beside it were cookies and a card. Hesitantly he walked over and reached for the card, a dumb little Santa cartoon on the front of it. Regardless of his bad mood he managed to smile at it, opening it up to see Stiles’ chicken scratch.

I know this is a hard time of year for you, but I thought the picture would make things a little more tolerable. I know sometimes I struggle to remember what my mom looked like. Hope you like the picture. Thank you for letting me into your home, thank you for putting up with me, and Merry Christmas Derek.

-Stiles

P.S. I got you a few cookies, they’re oatmeal chocolate chip since I know how you feel about raisins.

Derek felt his chest expand with warmth and feeling the longer he stared at the card. He placed the card back on the table and made sure it stood nicely before he fell back onto the bed. The warmth of the bed felt good on his chilled skin, even better when he was tucked under the thick duvet covers.

He watched the nightstand, eyes focused on the smiling faces within the picture until he finally fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Leaving Minnesota was a bit of a tear jerker. Cora punched them in the shoulders and told them to visit more often, Derek told her to come to Colorado sometime. The majority of the pack shook hands or hugged and gave fond goodbyes. Nick had been extremely sad to say goodbye to Stiles, which made Stiles give him an extra hug in the end. Henry and Marie sent them off with an apology about the mistletoe mishap. Stiles shrugged it off and promised to keep in touch, thanking the Alpha for letting them stay.

They stopped in Lexington, Nebraska on the way home. Derek had been falling asleep at the wheel, and Stiles had been also too bleary eyed to drive as well. The werewolf was so tired he just handed Stiles his card, telling him to get them a room.

It was probably for the best, Derek growling at the desk clerk wasn’t an ideal outcome.

With a yawn, Stiles stepped into the office of the small hotel, a small fountain inside reminded him how much he needed to use the bathroom. Quickly he approached the front desk to a lady in a power suit, her fingers tapping away on the keyboard.

When she failed to greet him he cleared his throat and leaned his elbows on the counter.

“I need a room,” Stiles said firmly and held up the card between his fingers.

The lady nodded briskly and typed something and said, “we have one single bed open and two twin beds open.”

Stiles opened his mouth, but paused for a moment before he decided, “the single bed is fine.”

He hoped Derek was either asleep or not listening as he said that, handing the woman the card for payment. The transaction had been quick and in no time he had the card back along with keys. Back out at the car Derek was reclined in his seat, hands behind his head as his eyes were slipped shut. Softly Stiles knocked on his window and jerked the man out of his light sleep.

“Got it,” he said and held up the keys.

Derek nodded and got out of the car.

Once they grabbed the essentials for the night they locked up the car and retreated to the room. It was on the top left corner of the building, three stories up. The room and halls smelled sterile, it almost burned Stiles’ nose so he could only wonder how Derek was handling it. The room itself was small, the bathroom taking a good amount of square footage from the overall space.

“Can you put this on the bed for me? I’m gonna change and brush my teeth,” Stiles asked and held out the pillow.

Derek grabbed it and ventured to the bed, Stiles steadied himself with a deep breath and closed himself in the bathroom. The tiles were an ugly brown color beneath his feet. Stiles made quick work of his clothes and slipped his pajamas on with ease.

He entered the bedroom, only to find Derek hunched over his phone, eyebrows drawn together.

“Everything okay?” Stiles asked.

“Fine,” Derek said shortly.

Stiles wanted to push, but desicded it was better not to. Instead he walked around the bed and plugged his phone in before he slid into bed. He was turned on his side so his back was to Derek, his pillow wadded up underneath his head.

Silence fell over them and Stiles did his best not to work himself up.

There was the occasional shuffle once the lights were turned off, the blanket taught between them as they quietly fought for coverage. However having their backs to each other made sharing difficult. Stiles curled into himself, holding back a shiver as he pressed further into the mattress. A part of him wanted to run down to the car and get extra socks or something, maybe another shirt, but he was too lazy to do that.

“Cold?” Derek asked all of a sudden.

“No…’m fine.”

“Your heart stuttered,” Derek deadpanned.

Stiles bit his lip, “maybe I’m a little cold. It’s whatever.”

Then the mattress shook and warm arms wrapped around him and yanked him towards the middle of the bed. Stiles let out a surprised gasp, looking back to see the shadow of Derek’s face behind him. Strong arms held him tight and and his back was warmed up by the broad expanse of Derek’s chest. It knocked the words out of Stiles, his heart thudded behind his ribs and his stomach formed into knots.

For a moment he remembered that he wanted this, that...that he had bought the single bed room for this reason.

“This okay?” Derek asked, voice gruff in the shell of his ear.

Stiles nodded slowly, “y-yeah, this is okay.”

Even exhales ran across the back of his neck and ran through his baby hairs. Their legs slotted together and arms rested lazily against each other’s. Stiles basked in the feeling, sleep coming easier now. Apparently his thinking was keeping Derek awake, because a slightly irritated, “Stiles, calm down and go to sleep” was growled into his ear.

“Sleeping. Going to sleep now,” Stiles said, shutting his eyes and let himself eventually drift into a dreamless sleep.


“Where are you going again?” Derek asked from behind the desk in the office.

Stiles zippered up his snow jacket, “Aspen. My dad sent me a large package, and because of the snow it’s going to be easier to pick it up from the UPS store than wait for it to come here. I’ll be gone for two and a half hours tops.”

Derek nodded, typing something on his computer before cross referencing something in a book, “call me when you get there, the roads can get icy.”

“I will, Worrywolf. I’ll be home soon,” Stiles said and turned out of the office and made his way out to the Jeep.

It was February now; the snow would continue on until at least April before tapering off into the hot summer months. Earlier in the winter months Derek had fixed his Jeep’s heating and put chains on his tires. As of right now Stiles was more than thankful as he started down the road out of Sloane, the two amenities made the ride much smoother.  

For Christmas Cora had gotten him a Star Wars mug that he used frequently. When he had taken it out to use it properly for the first time he caught sight of something inside the mug. It had been a piece of paper, and on it the the contact info for Isaac and Jackson.

Yeah. He called her the second Derek was out of the house, asking why the hell she had given him that information. Then he put two and two together and asked when the hell Isaac and Jackson became close enough to live in Europe together. She told him a brief backstory before mentioning that it may be a good idea for the two of them to see Derek again.

At the time Stiles laughed, because that wasn’t fucking happening.

Stiles would not allow douchescarf and lizardbrain anywhere near the house. Not a chance in Hell, because that was his and Derek’s safe zone. Jackson would just be a dick and Isaac would probably be infuriating. That was until he actually called them over Skype with Cora and had a real conversation.

Europe changed them.

Not like some reality show hypnosis mojo or anything, but Jackson wasn’t as mean and Isaac certainly learned some goddamn respect. After that he casually texted them and it got to the point that them flying out to visit became a reality. Today was that day and Derek had no clue.

This was going to go horribly.

However he really did have packages from his dad to go pick up, so there was truth to what he had told the werewolf prior to leaving Sloane. The traffic was light today, making the drive to the airport quicker and more smooth than usual. With the weather it was kind of amazing the flight even made it in without a cancellation.

Stiles ended up paying for parking in the parking complex before taking the brisk walk to the baggage claim inside. According to the times Isaac had texted him they wouldn’t land for another ten minutes, and even then he’d probably end up waiting an additional twenty minutes for them to get off and get their bags.

He ordered a sugary drink from Starbucks before he made himself comfortable on the nearby bench.

Stiles slurped the last of his drink through his straw, the unpleasant sound echoed and drew attention from others. Then he was smacked upside the head to the words “that’s fucking obnoxious Stilinski, I just got off a thirteen hour flight.”

With a flail Stiles bolted up onto his feet and spun around to see the two standing with their bags in hand.

“Fuck you too Jackson,” Stiles grumbled and rubbed the back of his head.

The guy had the audacity to smile, “nice to see you too.”

“Hey Stiles,” Isaac greeted with a small wave.

He nodded with a wave of his own, “been a long time. You guys look good...like better than you did before. Not like--”

“We get it, now lets hit the road. I’m about to pass out,” Isaac interjected.

Stiles threw his cup away and led the betas out to the car. Jackson growled at the snow, which made him and Isaac laugh a little; apparently he had gotten a little to used to the rain and shine to appreciate the snow. At the sight of the Jeep the two groaned and Stiles glared at them.

“She still goes, don’t bitch about it,” Stiles said and threw himself into the driver’s seat.

“Well if we crash at least Isaac and I won’t die,” Jackson sighed.

“Can you not jinx it please?” Isaac asked.

“I’m not jinxing it.”

“Yes you are.”

“Well if I am your sorry ass isn’t dying.”

Stiles glared at both of them, “ children ! Please, shut up.”

Isaac narrowed his eyes, “I’m older than you--”

“Doesn’t matter. You’re in my car, you’re going to my house, now respect your metaphorical elder,” Stiles said and started up the Jeep, pulling out of the parking garage and making their way onto the open roads of Aspen.

Halfway to the UPS office Jackson made a offhanded comment about Stiles’ use of the term “my house.” It made him nearly take a wrong turn, but he corrected and took a moment to process it because Jackson was right. The house wasn’t his house….but after months of living there and adding his own personal touches along with Derek’s….it was kind of their house. Stiles shrugged it off and asked them about how Europe was.

Easily enough the two forgot about it and went into a long story of their travels. They continued  talking while they loaded up the massive box from the shipping store, and all the way back to Sloane.

“...and then Isaac told this woman she had a nice fanny pack,” Jackson laughed.

Isaac groaned and Stiles raised an eyebrow.

“Fanny means vagina in England. So he basically--”

“We get it Jackson!” Isaac snapped.

Stiles parked the car and threw his head back in laughter, on the verge of tears. While he felt sorry for the poor woman who was subjected to that, he felt worse for Isaac who was probably mortified. The offended beta hopped out of the car, slamming the door shut and it sobered Stiles up. Jackson shrugged and got out as well, Stiles followed suit and grabbed the box from the trunk.

“You done being a dick?” The curly haired beta asked.

Jackson sighed, “yeah. I wasn’t being a dick though, I was being a good guest and telling one of our hosts a good story.”

“Fine. I’m over it, let’s get inside before we freeze,” Isaac said.

“You won’t freeze you babies, Derek said he could jump into a lake in this weather and be fine,” Stiles said and walked past them, shoes leaving their own crunchy indentations in the snow. The two followed him up to the house, making comments on how good it looked. The Toyota was here, Stiles hoped Derek heard the compliments.

He deserved it and there was only so many times Stiles could praise the man for the crown moulding before it lost it’s novelty.

Before Stiles even got to the front porch steps the door was yanked open, warm air rushing out of the house in a massive gust. Derek stood there wearing his thumb hole sweater -- Christ on a cracker it shouldn’t be so attractive --, his sock clad feet almost touching the snow, hands shoved awkwardly in his jean pockets, eyes wide with a blank expression.

Okay, this might not have been the best idea to surprise reunite three werewolves, but Stiles wasn’t really known for his ideas anyway.

Stiles hoisted the box in his arms, raising his eyebrows in question to Derek but it seemed the guy was looking right past him. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up when whines came from behind him. Isaac and Jackson bypassed him slowly, their movements slow and methodical. Derek was walking towards the steps as well, eyes shifting to blue.

Stiles almost had the urge to tell Derek to put shoes on.

Almost.

The betas stopped at the steps, frozen at the base of them. Meanwhile Derek kept going until he was one step away from the two, the air around them full of tension. Stiles felt terrible when he saw the broken look on Derek’s face. He could see the weight on his shoulders and the pain in his eyes. Derek’s hand left his pockets, shaky fingers moved and placed themselves on the back of Isaac and Jackson’s necks.

No words were exchanged as the three of them collided, arms wrapping around each other tightly. Soft growling noises and motions that looked like scenting were traded between the three. Stiles felt his heart grow four sizes too big for his chest then proceed to melt.

“Awe, you guys, you gave the tin man a heart,” Stiles said with a goofy smile on his face.

All of them looked up and over, glaring dangerously. He squeaked and tried his best to hide himself behind the box as cover. That didn’t go over as planned because footsteps approached and a louder more aggressive growl was directed towards him. Glancing up Derek stood right across from him, the wolf staring at the box like it was offending him.

“What’s in the box, Stiles?”

“Uh, stuff. For you. The picture from Christmas was kind of like an intro to all the other stuff we found in both the Hale house and Laura’s storage unit….Peter kind of told us about it,” Stiles explained.

Derek recoiled, mouth parted in shock as Stiles explained. Jackson and Isaac even had horrified faces on which made Stiles feel like more of an ass.

“Or...I can just put this back in storage--”

“No,” Derek growled and snatched the box from Stiles harsh enough to pull at his arms. Stiles winced and rubbed at his shoulders. The wolf was already retreating back inside, not even stopping for the two other betas. He just rushed inside and Stiles figured he was going to his room.

“Well...not only did you dump us on him, but you dumped his dead family’s things on him as well. Nice job Stilinski,” Jackson said.

Stiles rolled his eyes.

“He has a point,” Isaac agreed.

“Do you want me to kick your sorry asses outside for the night? Grab your bags and get in, no more talking about how badly I fucked up,” Stiles snapped, storming into the house with the two rushing after him. The tour could happen later, everything could happen later because right now he was borderline panicking. Once he directed dumb and dumber to their rooms, giving them a quick rundown on the general layout of important rooms like the kitchen and bathrooms he left them on their own.

Hopefully they would do what they did best and just make themselves at home.

Stiles crossed the west wing hall to the exposed living room balcony and looked nervously at the east wing. It held Derek’s room, and from where Stiles was standing he could see it was closed.

It was rarely closed.

With a quick mental vote of confidence Stiles crossed the balcony, entering the east hall as quietly as possible. Then again there was a werewolf behind the door that could hear his heart from miles away. Stiles took a deep breath, the breath was shaky and unfulfilling. It made his body ache and head hurt.

He knocked on the door, one hand attempting the door handle but found it locked, “D-Derek?”

There was no answer and Stiles fell into full panic mode, “okay, okay Derek I’m sorry. I’m really fucking sorry for doing this. It was stupid and I didn’t think about how you’d take it. I’ll-I’ll use the rest of my savings to send Jackson and Isaac back to England and I’ll ship the stuff back. I’m really sorry and I understand if you’re like super mad...I’ll get it if you want me gone or whatever. I’m sure my dad could pay for like a plane ticket or reimburse me for gas money--”

The door was ripped open, a teary eyed and red faced Derek stood there looking absolutely wrecked.

Don’t leave...I’m upset, but don’t leave,” the older man croaked out.

Stiles choked out a sob and used his jacket sleeve to wipe the stupid tears off his face, “oh thank God. I’m sorry Derek. I’m so, so sorry.”

“I know you are,” Derek said and pulled Stiles into his chest.

Stiles went limp in the hold, his arms numbly wrapped around the older man as his head rested heavily on Derek’s shoulder. He’s never needed touch more, confirmation that even though he messed up it would eventually be okay. His tears soaked Derek’s sweater and he felt some of Derek’s seep through the collar of his jacket.

“I hate that I did that,” Stiles confessed, “I hate that it’s been awkward between us since Christmas.”

“Me too,” Derek agreed, but said no more.

Stiles couldn’t tell if he was agreeing to both statements or just one.

“I’m not asking you to forgive me, but can we try to go back to the way things were?” Stiles asked.

There was a pause, lengthy and tense before Derek squeezed him tight, “of course we can.”

“Cool,” Stiles sniffled and pulled back almost regretting it when he saw Derek’s tear stained face, “also, you know I didn’t mean to give you that box and bring the betas back to make you upset, right?”

“I know,” Derek nodded.

Chapter Text

Jackson and Isaac formed a love hate relationship with Sloan. They insisted it was too small yet impossibly charming. In the end Isaac was won over when he met Lisa for the first time; his eyes basically shaped into hearts the moment he saw her. Jackson was a different story; he still wasn’t thrilled with the town but he was enjoying every moment at the house.

The four of them, and quite often Lisa as well, made this shell of a house a home.

That was more than Derek ever asked for.

“We should start having game nights,” Stiles’ voice called from the doorway to his office.

Derek looked up from his laptop with an unimpressed look. For a moment they were stuck in the silence. Stiles’ optimistic expression souring into a shocked one, and Derek instantly began to worry.

“Since when the hell do you wear glasses? Actually...you’re a werewolf wearing glasses. How does that even work?” Stiles flailed.

“Just because I’m a werewolf doesn’t mean my eyes don’t strain, the glasses help,” Derek said as his face heated up slightly, using his finger to push the black rimmed glasses up on his nose.

The younger man made a surprised huff, leaning lazily on the door frame, “well, guess you really do learn a new thing every day. Do earplugs work on werewolves?”

“No, earplugs don’t work,” Derek chuckled, bracing his elbows on the desk, “but anyways...game nights?”

Stiles broke out into a smile and crossed into the room, letting himself plop down into one of the chairs beside the desk. Long limbs were splayed out everywhere, an eclectic mix of clothing adorned Stiles’ body. In the back of his mind, Derek wondered how Stiles could pull off such an array of colors.

“Yes, game nights. They should happen, I feel like unless we go to Aspen or out to eat the four of us never have quality time,” Stiles explained, “but I think game night could fix that.”

Derek felt his eyebrows draw in, “so you want the four of us to sit in the living room for up to two hours playing board games?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying, a-plus comprehension skills Derek.”

“Don’t be sarcastic.”

“Pfft, you wish.”

“Fine, don’t be an asshole either.”

“Man you’re really pushing it today.”

Derek let out a laugh and leaned back in his chair, letting himself relax into the conversation.

“So if I were to say yes--” He started.

“Really?!” Stiles gasped.

“If. If I were to say yes, what games are you talking about? Candy Land is off the table.”

Stiles scowled, “I’m offended you’d think I’d put us through that. I’m all for Chutes and Ladders.”

“I think Jackson is a Monopoly kind of guy.”

“Jackson is the worst. We’d never get through that game, plus it’s the worst game ever.”

“It is.”


 

“What are you two idiots doing?” Stiles asked one morning, early morning dew coating everything from the grass to the porch.

Out in the field behind the house Jackson and Isaac were in workout clothes, shifted as they sparred with each other. It was all quick movements and effective blocks and dodges. Isaac was bobbing and weaving through Jackson’s heavy hit combat style. For a split second Stiles was a little jealous, but then again, working out sucked and he proved that in high school lacrosse.

When Isaac finally made an attack he twisted Jackson around and flipped him onto his back.

Jackson let out a groan and laid there for a while.

“Working out, our place back in Europe had a gym, so we’re improvising,” Isaac explained, hands on his hips while he took deep breaths.

Stiles’s eyebrows crinkled, noting that yeah...Derek didn’t put a gym or at the very least any gym equipment in the house. He made a mental note to mention it to Derek. Jackson sprang back up, wiping the dirt from his shoulders.

“Okay, let’s go again. I’m kicking your ass this time,” Jackson grumbled, eyes flashing blue and staying blue. Isaac flashed his own back and Stiles watched as they collided and tumbled around the grass, this time the fight more playful than the last.

Stiles dug his toes into his worn slippers, using both hands to hold his mug as he took a sip out of his coffee. It warmed his mouth and throat as he drank it, holding it close so the steam had a chance of keeping him warm. Even with his flannel pajama pants on and hoodie the crisp morning air still seeped into his skin.

He thought about retreating back inside when there was a small tap on the glass door behind him. Glancing back he kept calm when instead of Derek he spotted a black wolf behind the two panes.

They should probably get a doggie door.

Those blue eyes were alive with a rare mischievousness Stiles couldn’t help but smile at. Derek scratched up by the handle again, and oh, right opposable thumbs. Stiles stepped back and slid it open letting Derek out of the house. There was a soft nudge against his thigh before Derek bounded off the stairs towards Isaac and Jackson.

Stiles watched as the two paused and let out identical screams of shock, Isaac falling on his ass when Derek manage to get close to them.

“He doesn’t bite!” Stiles called out to them, laughing as Derek leaned over Isaac in an almost challenging way.

“Since when is this a thing?” Isaac asked, clearly confused and still in a little shock.

Stiles kept his eyes on Derek as the question was ignored, the wolf moving to sniff around the grass where the two other Betas had been fighting.

“Does he play fetch?” Jackson teased.

Derek pounced on him; it ended up turning into a chase thing between the three wolves. Stiles watched them fondly for a little while longer before retreating inside to the warmth of the house. He set his mug in the sink once he finished the rest of his coffee, moving to fix himself some breakfast.

Isaac wasn’t a morning eater, Jackson probably made himself something fancy like egg whites, and Derek hasn’t been up long enough to start breakfast. It was a “ fend-for-yourself ” kind of morning. He got out some of the frozen waffles from the freezer along with some bacon from the fridge.

He was just getting it prepped when his phone went off, the familiar Star Wars ringtone blaring through the kitchen. Smirking he pulled the device out of his pocket and accepted the call, pressing it to his ear with a “ ‘sup Scotty?

That’s it? That’s all you’re giving me? ” Scott asked.

Stiles frowned, “what do you mean?”

I haven’t seen you in almost a year, the last time you called me was like months ago and you give me a lame sup?

“I’ve been kind of busy,” he answered while putting bacon in the heated pan, catching a glance of the others from the sink window, “with Christmas stuff, finishing the house, Jackson and Isaac being--”

Jackson and Isaac?!

Stiles winced, “uh, yeah? Cora gave me their numbers, they’re living with us back in the states. Surprise?”

There was a pause on the other line, something muttered before, “ dude you’re being a distant dick.

“I know I’m kind of breaking your “ call once a week ” thing, but things happen. Can we drop it, vow to talk more frequently, and enjoy our call right now? Please bro?” Stiles asked, popping his waffles down in the toaster.

I’m only dropping it because I only have a little bit of time before I have to get to my morning class, ” Scott grumbled.

“Oooh college, right. How’s that going? Straight As?”

I have mostly Bs, I have an A in biology though which really matters for my degree.

“Atta boy Scott. That’s the GPA I’m lookin’ for.”

Shut up .”

Stiles smiled, flipping his bacon and grabbing a plate and silverware.

Tell me about...well, bro tell me everything that’s been going on ,” Scott demanded, sounding like a child on Christmas.

With that Stiles explained about Christmas with Cora and the Johnstons -- purposely leaving out the mistletoe mishap for obvious reasons --, he went on about the house and how he managed to get a yellow lampshade into the office, and then finally ended on Jackson and Isaac giving the Alpha reassurance they were both okay.

That’s great Stiles, but how are you? ” Scott asked.

“Me? I’m fine, doing fine,” Stiles shrugged even though the guy couldn’t see it.

You left Beacon Hills like a bat out of hell. How are you actually doing? Are you better? ” Scott pressed and Stiles paused, breath hitching as he looked outside. Thankfully they were still distracted, so when he answered he felt a little less on the spot.

“I’m getting there. Nightmares still get to me sometimes, Isaac left the door open to my room once. I’m trying though, to get better.”

That’s good. I’m glad you’re getting somewhere ,” Scott said before tacking on, “ oh shit I gotta go. I can’t be late again. Call me this weekend?

“Of course. Sorry about before, give Kira a hug for me?”

I’m already over it and I will, see ya.

The call dropped and Stiles let his head do the same, resting it between his shoulders as he braced his hands on the cold countertop. He loved Scott, they were brothers, but man sometimes he couldn’t handle the way Scott could just take a hard topic and address it so casually.

Stiles needed a gentle push, some preamble, a little something something before getting all heavy.

He grabbed the raspberry jam and spread it on his waffles and dumped syrup on his bacon before digging in, not even taking a seat; instead standing at the counter. There was thundering footsteps on the porch before the door slid open, Jackson and Isaac came in looking ruffed up and muddy; meanwhile Derek trailed in behind them dirty paw prints marking the floors.

“Oh my God you’re cleaning that up!” Stiles called after Derek who vanished up the stairs before looking to the other two, “don’t sit on anything until you shower.”

“Yes Dad,” Jackson huffed.

“Uncharacteristically kinky of you to say,” Stiles teased.

Isaac laughed.


 

Derek looked over his shoulder to the foyer seeing Isaac and Stiles barrel through the front door with bags of groceries in their hands. Behind them tumbled in Lisa who held nothing and wore green corduroy overalls and a bright smile.

“A big mouthed birdy told me it was movie night,” Lisa announced, kicking off her shoes before flopping onto the couch.

“You’re only here because you told us we could have free movie candy if we let you tag along,” Stiles huffed.

Isaac furrowed his eyebrows, “does she always just leave the store when she wants off?”

“Yes,” Derek said at the same time Lisa and Stiles did.

The blonde shook his head and took the bags to the kitchen, Stiles following in suit muttering about how he’s not a ‘ big mouthed bird ’. Derek hid his smirk by turning back to the TV, setting up the list of movies for them to pick from.

Jackson shuffled downstairs and took a seat next to Lisa, starting up conversation with her while the two others made their way back in with food in hand. Derek caught sight of prepackaged popcorn and frowned a little, knowing he’d be able to taste the artificial undertones to it.

Soon blankets and pillows were rearranged to everyone's liking and spots were chosen. Isaac, Lisa, and Jackson were piled up on the larger part of the L-shaped couch. That left the small part that was meant for one person for Derek and Stiles to share, but Derek’s shared a bed twice with Stiles.

He could do this.

Stiles was busy putting all their food on the coffee table so Derek decided to bite the bullet and take the corner piece of the couch. The younger man turned around and while his brown eyes narrowed a bit, he didn’t protest when he ended up sitting cross legged on the end without a proper back rest.

Derek felt bad. Lisa nudged him with her foot teasingly.

“I’m thinking one of the Mission Impossibles,” Isaac suggested.

Jackson huffed, “dude we’ve seen those like fifty times.”

“You two fight like an old married couple,” Lisa joked, “what about The Hateful Eight?”

“I’m not really feeling up to see Samuel L. Jackson getting his dick sucked, once was enough,” Stiles groaned.

“What happens?” Jackson sputtered.

“Samuel get’s his dick sucked, graphically, near the end,” Lisa supplied shamelessly.

“How about the new Batman versus Superman?”

Derek felt all the eyes in the room turn to face him, and he sunk further into the couch. Stiles was the most owlish looking, cheeks red, and Derek could hear his heart practically beating out of his chest. It was his honest movie suggestion, it’s been one he’s been meaning to see. Isaac and Jackson were accepting his option, Lisa made a noncommittal noise before accepting as well.

Stiles nodded hollowly, blankly looking back to the TV.

Derek played the movie, hoping the six ninety nine price would be worth it.

The title screen started up, the surround sound speakers Jackson bought making the movie sound pretty good. Even to Derek’s ears. Outside the sky was darkening rather quickly, until the only source of light was the TV flashing pale colors of the movie through the room. For the first half he focused on the movie, the plot, the feeling of comfort and ease that surrounded him.

About half way in Derek started noticing Stiles constant squirming.

He’d stretch his arms every few minutes, along with his back, and legs. On a few occasions he popped his neck and fingers, trying to switch positions but ending up criss cross every time. By the time Derek had missed the next scene almost completely he nudged Stiles with his foot to get his attention.

Stiles looked back, “am I--?”

“If you’re uncomfortable you could always...um, lay back,” Derek offered, words clunky and halfbaked.

If the three others were looking at them Derek chose to ignore it, watching as Stiles gaped for a moment as if trying to find the right words before stopping all together. Then hands were on his calves, spreading his legs apart--and before his brain could even process that Stiles was slotted between them laying with his back pressed to Derek’s chest.

His body flooded with warmth and low grade arousal. He felt like a fucking teenager again, and he could sense how uncomfortable Isaac and Jackson were with what was probably all the UST ( as Lisa would call it ) in the room. Even Derek was a bit overwhelmed by it. Lisa was just eating this up like a giddy school girl. Derek looked back to the movie, focusing on that rather than the way Stiles was against him.

It wasn’t even the end of the movie when Lisa got a phone call from the grocery store, her boss telling her he needed her back in as soon as she could get there. Jackson got up and offered to drive her, Isaac bluntly told Derek he couldn’t be left alone with him and ‘ sleeping beauty .’

To that Derek raised an eyebrow and looked over the crown of Stiles’ head to see him asleep, mouth open to little snores he hadn’t heard until he tuned them in. Thick dark eyelashes moved as Stiles’ eyes moved behind the lids.

He remembered psych class from high school enough to know Stiles was probably dreaming.

A part of him didn’t want to wake Stiles up, but the bigger more selfish half just didn’t want this...contact to end. So he looked back up to the screen, finishing out the movie until the credits rolled. Considering he only remembered half of it and it wasn’t that good Derek decided it was not worth the money he spent.

He couldn’t fret about that too much because Stiles was suddenly tensing up and tossing around until they were chest to chest, Stiles’ cheek pressed against his shoulder. A soft whimper came from his lips and the smell of distress was apparent.

A nightmare.

Derek let a hand cradle the back of Stiles’ neck, focusing on the distress before draining it away. The same ozone smell that Stiles carried when he first arrived in Sloane was suddenly back and stronger, the feeling sizzling through his blackened veins.

Whatever Stiles had been dreaming about wasn’t pleasant; however after Derek drained the distress Stiles settled considerably back into an easy sleep. Exhaling loudly he turned off the TV and let his head rest and his eyes slip shut as well, unable to help himself when he wrapped his arms around Stiles as he too fell asleep.

Chapter Text

“No, you’re staying here. It’s a full moon tonight, I don’t want you to be part of this.”

Stiles crossed his arms standing on the back screened porch, eyes narrowed at Derek, “I’m going with you. What if there is wolfsbane or mountain ash? I’m the only one here who can even touch those. Also have you forgotten I’ve been out on full moons? I can handle myself.”

Derek growled, “Stiles this isn’t--”

“Derek! I’m not that spazzy sixteen year old you left in Beacon Hills, so go ahead...I’ll be following you anyways.”

The older man’s eyebrows were nearing the level ten death glare, but he said nothing. Instead he turned around and marched down the steps, booted footfalls making the stairs creak. Stiles quickly followed Derek out into the yard and out into the woods. The thick underbrush and trees looked easy for Derek who was walking through it swiftly.

Stiles tripped on a root.

“Not spazzy, huh?”

“Shut up,” Stiles huffed, but the question put a smile on his face.

After that they walked for a while, maneuvering around trees and fallen branches. The ice and snow was still dense, and the weight had snapped a few low hanging limbs off cluttering the paths.

“So what are we looking for?” Stiles asked.

“I’m searching for a strange scent, Jackson picked it up when he went on a run,” Derek said taking a sharp left.

“I think you mean ‘we’,” Stiles teased with a small laugh.

There was a growl, “no. You just tagged along, like always.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Stiles snapped, eyes glaring dangerously at Derek.

The wolf snarled, “it means you just showed up and didn’t leave. You, like always, forced yourself into something not meant for you. This was my house, my territory, my time to heal and you walked right in and fucked it all up.”

“You let me in! I gave you the chance to say no and kick me to the curb!”

“No you didn’t.”

“Yes I did.”

“No. You just babbled about being helpful until I couldn’t take it and just caved in.”

Stiles took a step back, his face heating up as his jaw hung in shock. Anger sizzled under his skin, his fingers itching to punch something and get rid of the tension within him. Derek, although observant of his reaction, kept going like the dicknose he was.

“...you bitched about the color of the washer and dryer, you leave your dirty dishes everywhere, you invited Jackson and Isaac into my home without my permission, you managed to weasel your way to my family Christmas. The worst thing you ever did was have the fucking audacity to go through my family’s things! You didn’t have the right to touch them let alone send them out here just to hurt me again--

“Fuck. You,” Stiles basically screeched, but a small part of him knew he was egging on an already pissed off werewolf on the night of a full moon, Derek didn’t mean that, “at any given time you could’ve told me to go. Kicked my ass out of your house and your territory and sent me on my merry way. You and your sister invited me to Christmas and also fuck you...I thought you’d want to see Isaac and Jackson. They were like your first two betas. Sorry I’ve been such a burden but it’s your fault. If you wanted me gone you should have said something rather than act like a fucking wuss and just let me ruin everything.”

Stiles didn’t have anything to say about the Hale items...because...yeah...Derek had been right, maybe that was crossing the line. Regardless the other things were bullshit so he focused on them, which only fueled his anger further.

With each word Stiles had gotten closer until they were face to face, chest to chest, and in the end his anger won. His hands shoved forward, whacking Derek in the chest with enough force to have the man stumbling back. The werewolf snarled, and Stiles watched as fangs became visible behind lips and claws replaced finger nails.

“What...you’re gonna hurt me? That’s rich Derek, fucking rich,” Stiles huffed and stood his ground.

“You’re giving me reason to,” Derek snapped.

“Do it! Whatever you can do to me can’t be worse than what I’ve already been through.”

Something snapped and Stiles was facing the sky, the canopy above was stark and lacking foliage. His lower back hit a root, a pain blossomed quickly from the impact point. Five sharp points pricked his neck, tearing at his shirt collar just so.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he was aware the Lichtenberg figure was probably exposed now, but the fear of having a very pissed off werewolf on top of him was a little higher on his list of priorities at the moment.

A near roar was blasted into his ears and Stiles threw a successful punch to Derek’s jaw, stopping the animalistic sound in its tracks. His heart was beating out of his chest, his body was cold against the still thawing ground, and Derek’s warm body on top of his was making the anger morph into something else.

Fucking asshole.

“I hate you,” Stiles wheezed through the grip on his throat.

“Lie.”

Derek’s nose nuzzled at his throat, his grip eased up a little allowing Stiles to take in substantial amounts of air. It was enough to have him shove again, this time Stiles found enough strength  to knock Derek on his back. It didn’t last long though because Derek lunged at him again, both of them tumbling down a slanted part of the forest. At the very top of the slant the tears at his shirt got caught on something, yanking on the fabric enough to rip it off him completely, exposing his skin to the chilled snow below. The whole way down they shoved and yanked at each other, but Stiles noticed how Derek never intentionally clawed him or bit him.

By the time they landed at the base of the hill they were snowy, cold, and a pile of limbs. Stiles was on top, and their faces were barely an inch or two apart. Their breaths puffed out in white clouds from the cold, mingling between them before vanishing.

“I still hate you.”

“That’s still a lie.”

“I know,” Stiles said before slamming their lips together.

It was more than what happened on Christmas; there was something more primal and heated about this kiss than the chaste clinical one under the mistletoe. His hands cupped Derek’s face, the pads of his fingers feeling up the scruff that adorned Derek’s cheeks. Their tongues fought for dominance and it was turning into an angry sloppy exchange that was stupidly arousing.

Derek’s hands ran up his thighs, eventually cupping his ass through his jeans which had Stiles more than excited. His hips moved up and down a little, trying to get friction against his dick which was uncomfortably trapped in his boxers.

His lips pulled away, diving into lavish at Derek’s neck. The werewolf whined underneath him, body arching up to meet up his own. Oh Christ on a cracker that shouldn’t be as hot as it is, but it only makes things more heated. Even though he know they won’t stay he sucks hickey after hickey into Derek’s neck, their hips grinding against each other in the best way, both of them getting the friction they need.

“I hate you,” Stiles said and let his teeth scrape on Derek’s adam’s apple, “so much.”

“You lie,” Derek retaliated, using a hand to cup Stiles’ face, “so much. Now shut your fucking mouth a kiss me again.”

With a short nod he moved up to kiss Derek again, their stuttering breaths mingling between them. Bursts of arousal, want, need, and right rushed through Stiles’ body making his thoughts fuzzy and his toes curl. At this point he was so close to coming - from anger or the rutting he didn’t know, maybe both - it almost hurt. A warm pressure cupped at the bulge in his pants and Stiles mewled lowly, grinding down harder which had Derek growling.

The chill of the woods was nonexistent, the skin to skin being more than enough to keep them warm. His own skin was caked with mud, now dry and flaking off his skin with every movement. A thin sheen of sweat coated them both, small noises of pleasure leaving their throats every so often.

The tingling at the base of his spine was almost too much; Derek was snarling and arching up--

--ew , Stilinski, keep it in your pants.”

Stiles went ridged, eyes flying open to see Isaac and Jackson not too far away amongst the trees. The two betas sported red faces and awkward gazes that were pointedly looking anywhere but at him and Derek. From beneath him Derek growled, almost sounding frustrated, before slipping away back onto his feet. It left Stiles on the ground, bare torso exposed and caked in half melted snow.

Isaac rushed forward and handed him his jacket, giving a sad look to Stiles’ shoulder.

“He was gonna find out sometime,” Stiles muttered and stood up.

“Find out what?” Jackson asked, confused.

“None of your fucking business,” Stiles said.

“Screw you.”

“Screw you too.”

Jackson rolled his eyes, “actually...screw each other and stop it with this childish shit. It’s honestly pissing me off and Isaac smells like sad puppy all the time.”

Derek snarled at the other Beta, storming off into the woods and left the three of them there. Stiles deflated, pulling Isaac’s jacket closer to his chest, eyes trained on the ground.

“It’s okay, I get it--” Isaac started

Anger boiled under his skin and suddenly he just didn’t fucking care anymore. Derek was just at the edge of the tree line when he pretty much screamed…

“It’s not okay, it will never be okay. How the fuck could you understand? I was possessed by a demon junior year of high school and killed two people!”

The woods went silent, as if the animals and nature was also repulsed by what happened to him. Isaac’s hand on his arm tightened, Jackson looked like he’d been kicked in the nuts, and Derek  stopped in his tracks.

“A Nogitsune, it’s a thousand year old Japanese trickster spirit. It got into my head after Scott, Allison, and I did the Nemeton sacrifice. I hurt a lot of people, I probably knocked a good ten years off my dad’s life from the stress, I’m the reason Allison is dead, and the worst part is some deep part of me enjoyed the power of it all. So, excuse me if I’m an asshole, or closed off, or whatever you want to call it. I guess I’m just broken and needed someone who wouldn’t try and give me therapy. Someone who just...knew what it was like and would just let me heal.”

Stiles took a deep breath afterward, hands shaking at his sides. Derek’s face remained stoic yet his eyes told a different story. They were glassy and confused, and at the same time held the sort of sadness that was bone deep.

That was it.

Derek turned back around and kept walking.

Jackson and Isaac didn’t move a muscle until Stiles let out a pained laugh. They flinched at the hollow sound before they began leading him back to the house in silence. The woods didn’t seem as vibrant as they did before, his body numb.

At some point they got back to the house, and eventually he took a shower but he couldn’t remember when, everything passed in a blur.

Derek didn’t come home and that night Stiles didn’t sleep.


 

It was raining when he ran up to the door to Lisa’s flat above the store, the cold spring rain soaking through his leather jacket and chilling his skin. Being as emotionally distraught as he was his body wasn’t controlling its temperature the best at the moment. He was cold.

With shaky hands he pressed the buzzer twice, his arms crossing in hopes of warming up.

The snow on his shoes was being washed away by the pounding rain.

Yes ?” Came through the intercom of the buzzer.

“It’s Derek.”

That was all that needed to be said for the gate to her door to be buzzed open. Derek let himself inside, shivering at the heating he was suddenly in. His shoes squeaked and Lisa was at her door at the top of the stairs, a worried look crossing her mousy face.

“Take off your shoes and jacket and leave it by the heater down there,” she said and vanished into her flat.

He did as told; leaving his in damp socks, soaked jeans, and a soaked t-shirt as he walked upstairs. He shut the door behind him, seeing Lisa enter the mostly open living area from another room with a towel in her hand. She handed it to hm.

“Go take a hot shower, give me your clothes to dry before you get in. I’ll heat you up some food for when you get out,” Lisa instructed and he thankfully went to the bathroom, shutting himself in.

The mirror proved to him just how shitty he looked. His skin was pale and his eyes were lined with dark circles, the eyes themselves bloodshot. That plus the pathetic wet clothes made him look a little better than terrible. With a sigh he peeled off the tacky clothes from his body, opening the door just slightly for Lisa to take before shutting himself in once again.

After taking a moment to figure out the shower worked he set the spray to the hottest it could go before jumping in. It burned his skin, like a billion needles being stabbed into him at once. His skin turned red from the temperature change, his feet tingled from it, and he ended up just letting the water heat him up rather than actually using soap.

Lisa’s were too perfumey for his nose.

He got out when he felt like he was overheating and the mirror above the sink was completely fogged up. He stepped onto the mat outside the tub and used the towel to dry off his body until it was free of water droplets. His hair turned fluffy after he towel tried it, feeling foreign on his forehead.

“Derek? You’re clothes are outside the door. I’ll be on the couch when you get out...I uh, found a sweater that belonged to my ex. I thought you might be warmer in it,” Lisa told him before leaving again.

He felt a spark of fondness form in his chest at her consideration. She wasn’t obligated to do any of this. A moment later he grabbed his clothes and the sweater, and after a second of inspection he slipped it on instead of his own shirt. It was big, even on him; the arms were long and one shoulder was almost falling off.

Derek felt cozy, but mentally he felt like shit.

Pants and socks back on he hung up his towel and exited the bathroom, spotting Lisa on the couch. There was a blanket and pillow in the corner of it, the tv washing the whole couch in muted changing colors. Lisa was sitting cross legged with a steaming mug of what he assumed was hot chocolate in her hand. The coffee table held another mug just like hers.

He could smell the extra spices she put in there.

“Thank you, you don’t have to do this,” Derek muttered once he sat next to her, his own mug in hand.

“I know I don’t have to , but it’s what friends are for Derek,” she said, her free hand wrapping around his shoulders and her fingers simply ran through his hair. Suddenly Derek felt unable to breathe because this reminded him so much of how his mother would deal with him whenever he was upset as a child.

Derek let himself lean into the touch.

“Do you want to pick something to watch or just sit?” She asked.

“Just sit, if that’s okay?”

“Of course.”

For the next two hours and two tattoo shows later Lisa retreated to bed, helping Derek setup his bed before leaving to her bedroom. It left him on the couch in the dark flat, staring up at the ceiling. He could hear the occasional car pass and the freezers down below in the grocery store buzzing to keep the perishables good.

Finally he let himself think about it.

He thinks about how his lips still burned from the kiss, about how he lost control and hurt Stiles, about how Stiles confessed something so disturbing and he just walked away from it. It felt like the darkness around him was swallowing him whole, and he was unable to get purchase on anything to keep him afloat.

In the end he clicked on the table lamp, breathing deeply when it offered him some relief.

Do it. Whatever you can do to me can’t be worse than what I’ve already been through.

If you wanted me gone you should have said something rather than act like a fucking wuss and just let me ruin everything.

I hate you.

The words were stuck on loop, Stiles’ broken voice repeating them over and over. Derek didn’t realize he was crying until he let out a broken noise, so low he could barely hear it himself. His hands dug into his eyes trying to stop the flow but the tears kept coming. He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t think, he couldn’t be strong like he’s supposed to be.

He was weak. So weak.

He walked away from the only person that felt like home.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he couldn’t help but acknowledge that by the time he got back, his home would be miles away from Sloane, once again leaving him all alone.

Chapter Text

He ended up giving Chris Argent a call, asking for details on what had happened after he and Cora left. He was told the vivid story of Scott, Stiles, and Allison getting nightmares. While Scott and Allison got over it, Stiles spiraled; vanishing in the middle of the night, the town erupting into chaos, and the nemeton acting up.

A nogitsune.

Skinny, defenseless, Stiles...as a nogitsune. Derek almost didn’t believe it, he didn’t want to. To him there was too much good in Stiles for him to be possessed by something that evil. Then again the lichtenberg figure on his shoulder was proof enough, and it made Derek feel bad for not being there when it happened. Maybe he could’ve helped or even prevented it from getting as bad as it did.

Except he wasn’t and he couldn’t change that.

He couldn’t just make Stiles feel better, he couldn’t take the scars away. Especially now since he hadn’t been home in two days, letting their fight fester the longer they were separate. Jackson and Isaac hadn’t made moves to contact him either, however Cora sent him a single text telling him to “ stop being a pig headed idiot and fix it ”.

Derek was on his way back to the house after staying the night at Lisa’s. Thankfully the whole time she didn’t ask questions or push him, she just let him be. It allowed him to think and plan  what to say.

After he pulled up alongside the Jeep, he cut the engine and took a moment to himself before getting out of the car. He could hear Jackson and Isaac watching TV, both of them talking and probably ignoring his presence.

He didn’t let it get to him, he just walked up and opened the door.

...actually he tried to open the door. It was locked. Frowning he grabbed his keys and unlocked it, walking in this time around. He could smell the negativity, it seeped through the walls and wrapped Derek in it. It made his chest tighten uncomfortably.

He focused on the heartbeat upstairs and followed it, not looking at the Betas when he walked passed them. They didn’t say anything either. It was probably for the best. Derek made it up the stairs and down the hall, coming to a pause at Stiles’ room.

There was a moment of hesitation before he knocked.

Go away Isaac, ” Stiles said, voice muffled.

“Not Isaac,” Derek responded weakly.

There was a thud followed by a pained sound. Then there were footsteps and the door cracked open. Derek wasn’t prepared to see how ruined Stiles looked. His hair was matted to his forehead, faint stubble dusted his cheeks and chin in splotches, face smelling of salt and Derek was pretty sure he caught sight of actual tear streaks.

“You’re back,” Stiles muttered, eyeing Derek up and down like he wasn’t real.

Derek nodded, “I’m back.”

They stood there then, silence heavy between them as they just looked at each other like it’s been years since the last time they did. Everything Derek thought about saying went out the window the moment his gaze went past Stiles to see suitcases and his belongings in organized piles.

“You’re leaving?” Derek whined.

The younger man tensed, eyes narrowing, “you want me out . So I’m leaving.”

“I never asked you to leave.”

“You made it pretty clear you didn’t want me here.”

“I--” Derek started but couldn’t find his words, like they were trapped in his throat unable to form around the lump residing in there. The entire plan he cooked up at Lisa’s was quickly flying out of his brain, and he couldn’t remember everything he wanted -- needed -- to say.

He was never good with words.

With a step closer into Stiles’ personal space the world around them vanished, the two others downstairs didn’t matter, the town they were in didn’t exist. It was just them and Derek was so afraid that if this backfired Stiles would vanish too. At this point he’s exhausted all other options.

His hands inched up until they were cupping Stiles’ heated cheeks, his fingers burning from the contact. Those hot whiskey eyes were watery and wide, making Stiles look more broken and vulnerable than before. It tore at something deep inside of Derek, haunted him to the marrow of his bones. Suddenly he realizes that if he’d been there during the Nogitsune he probably would’ve lost it.

“Don’t--”

Derek took several steps back hands up in surrender, “I’m sorry, I won’t…”

Then Stiles was stepping into Derek’s space instead, hands gripping Derek’s shirt so tight it would probably wrinkle. They looked at each other for a while, searching for something; a sign, a motive, anything to use against each other but nothing came.

Instead Stiles softly said, “don’t kiss me unless you want me to stay.”

“I want you to stay,” Derek nodded, leaning into Stiles until their lips crashed together.

Their hands were frantic as they stumbled out of the hall and into Stiles room. Somehow the door was slammed shut behind them, by who Derek didn’t know, but regardless he was the one pressed up against it with Stiles against him. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

Long fingers were tangled in his hair, pulling it slightly and his own were gripping Stiles’ waist, pulling him closer. There was this push and pull about it, different from their last two kisses. The one at Christmas was forced and staged, the kind you give to a distant family member. The second one a few days ago was a battle, like their anger for each other wore them both out and fighting with their words and fists wasn’t cutting it anymore.

This one...this one was hesitant but needy, like they wanted to give into it but they’re both reluctant to jump in. Despite the push and pull it was uncorrupted by awkwardness and anger, it just was and to Derek that was everything.

Stiles was the one to pull away but leaned back in so their foreheads rested against each others. Between his turned down nose and Stiles’ turned up one they were slightly smushed together, but neither of them seemed to care.

“Still want me to stay?” Stiles asked.

“Yes,” Derek exhaled, thumb brushing against Stiles’ chin and pulling a bit at his plush bottom lip, “I want you here.”

Stiles nodded, head falling onto Derek’s shoulder where it stayed for a while. In an instant his arms were wrapped around the younger man, holding him close. He let his eyes slip shut for a moment, taking in the smell of exhaustion and relief wafting from Stiles. It made him nuzzle closer, hands rubbing up and down Stiles’ back but avoiding his shoulder blade at all costs.

Eventually their legs gave out, exhausted from the semi-apology they just had. Derek slid down the door to the floor, Stiles ending up curled in his lap with his face still smashed into his shoulder.

The moment Derek wrapped his arms around Stiles’ hips, hand resting on the small of his back Stiles bucked away with a small yelp. The smell of pain was sharp and pungent, it put a foul taste in Derek’s mouth. He put his hands up, eyes wide as Stiles went from his tense state back to relaxed, face still scrunched in discomfort.

With gentle, shaky hands he pulled at the collar of Stiles’ hoodie, exposing the pale skin of his neck. Stiles didn’t move, just inhaled sharply and shut his eyes...letting Derek see his mistake. There were four perfect claw shaped bruises on his neck, the thumb bruise undoubtedly on the other side.

His hand fell down Stiles’ shoulder and back to the hem of his hoodie, pulling it up to show off the dark purple bruise that was probably from landing on that root. Derek went breathless, his chest aching with the knowledge that he did that to Stiles.

That he hurt Stiles. He had the intention of hurting Stiles, and he remembers not caring. He remembers he was too mad to care who he had been hurting, except now he was fully himself and he absolutely hates that he did this.

Before he knew he was even doing it, lines of black trailed up his arm, his body leeching the pain until there was nothing left to take. Pale eyes met with warm brown ones, neither filled with hate or malice. Regardless he still felt the crushing weight of guilt and regret.

“Where did you go?” Stiles asked all of a sudden, changing topics.

“...stayed with Lisa, she gave me her couch.”

“Oh, that was nice of her.”

“Yeah it was,” Derek said before asking, “where were you planning on going?”

“I don’t have much money left, probably back to my dad’s house,” Stiles told him.

Derek didn’t dwell on how Stiles didn’t refer to his childhood home as just his home. It was selfish but he ended up saying, “I’m glad you’re staying here.”

Stiles paused before nodding, finally looking up with bloodshot eyes, “I’m glad too.”

They weren’t okay, they were far from it, but Derek truly believed they could get better.


The next day the house was eerily silent, of course Stiles didn’t have supernatural hearing but still...more quiet than usual. His muscles ached, his bones felt brittle, and most of all he felt exhausted mentally. From having to pack, then unpack, then have a few panic attacks, then finally have Derek come back.

Only to kiss him, cry, then ask him to stay.

Stiles turned on he TV and channel surfed until he landed on something mildly entertaining on Food Network. He had a bowl of cereal he was currently eating even though it was well past the usual breakfast hour.

The cereal in the bowl was just getting to its weird “sorta soggy but not totally crunchy” stage when footsteps echoed to his left. Stiles used his tongue to swipe the milk at the corner of his lip, glancing over to see Derek approaching slowly.

His hair was messy against his forehead, obviously he hadn’t gone through the process of styling it today. He was in soft looking sweats and a classic white t-shirt, muscular arms practically ripping through the sleeves. Typical.

Wha’sup?” Stiles asked, swallowing his food.

Derek shrugged, standing just shy of the couch, eyes flickering to the television for a moment.

“You can, uh, sit if you want,” Stiles followed up with, keeping it casual and easy, “but it’s up to you. I dunno maybe werewolves prefer to watch Martha Stewart standing.”

“Haven’t seen that fact in the bestiary,” Derek muttered, taking a seat beside Stiles who was frozen in astonishment at the joke. It wasn’t half bad, it even got him to laugh a little, hiding it in his bowl as he turned his head to watch the show. By the time Martha was browning her meat and chopping up other ingredients Stiles lost interest in his cereal.

“Your lasagna is better,” he said out of the blue.

From the corner of his eye he watched as Derek paused, taking a thoughtful moment, fists clenching and unclenching before relaxing again. There was a moment of uncertainty before Stiles kept going, because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut ever.

“I mean she’s barely putting any spices in it, you go heavy on that stuff, it’s amazing,” he said mindlessly leaning back into the cushions, hand falling beside him, “also you make your own pasta sheets. I mean she’s doing that but you do something that just makes it mouth watering. Honestly I could marry your lasagna. When is the last time you made it? I’d be so down with--”

He paused when the feeling of fingertips brushes against his palm. Slowly he looked between them, watching as Derek held his hand there even if it looked like he was debating to take it away. It tickled slightly, but the hand promised warmth, comfort, and hope….

Stiles grabbed Derek’s hand, linking their fingers together, both of them holding on tight.

“--anyways, as I was saying I would be so down with you making it again. I’d help too, if you wanted.”

“Sure,” Derek said slowly.

“Sure to me helping or sure to making it again soon?”

“Both.”

“Oh, okay. I can’t wait,” Stiles nodded, looking back to the TV.

There was a pause before Derek spoke up again, “why wait? I mean, we could...start now since we have to make the pasta and the sauce”

“Wait really?” Stiles asked, careful to keep his grip on Derek’s hand relaxed and not like the Hulk’s or anything.

“If you wanted. Jackson is out on a run, Isaac is still asleep, so there wouldn’t be too many bodies in the kitchen right now.”

“Do we have everything?”

“Everything but fennel seeds, which I can text Jackson to pick up while he’s out,” Derek answered, his bunny teeth sticking out slightly as they worried at his lower lip. Stiles tried to contain his swooning, but fuck his heart betrayed him and sped up double time.

They kissed last night though...so...he doesn’t really know what to make of this.

“Alright. Yes, yeah we should,” Stiles nodded after a moment, begrudgingly letting his hand slip out of Derek’s grip in favor of shutting off the TV and grabbing his bowl. His knees popped loudly as he stood up and he let out a huff of amusement from the sound. Derek looked concerned and Stiles shrugged it off, “I was kinda tossed around a lot in high school...my knees are going to shit and I think my right shoulder is fucked. Don’t worry about it.”

“Oh,” Derek said, standing up as well, “sorry about that.”

“It’s fine. Things are better now,” Stiles found himself saying, but he meant it.

With that he bypassed Derek and walked through the archway to the dining room and kitchen, rinsing his bowl when he got to the sink. Clattering came from his left where Derek was filing through cabinets to grab everything he needed for the dish. Things like spices, eggs, flour, and tomatoes because Derek Hale was a all homemade from scratch kind of guy.

The only thing that would make this more authentic is if they raised chickens and grew their own cotton for clothes. Stiles wouldn’t let that happen though; grocery stores and online shopping were just fine.

“Where’s the pasta maker?” Derek asked.

Stiles glanced behind him, watching Derek bend over to rifle through cabinets. He did not look at the ass currently presented to him. Nope, no freaking way. He looked back to his hands.

“Uh...dunno? When did we last use it?”

“The last time we made pasta.”

“Ha-ha, you’re hilarious,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes.

Derek huffed, looking through the cabinets twice more before giving up with a frustrated growl. Stiles ran a hand through his hair, head rolling back with it, his eyes catching something silvery above the overhead cabinets.

“We should really teach Jackson where things go when he does the dishes,” Stiles said pointing out where the pasta maker had been hiding, “as well as how to fold laundry correctly.”

“He didn't even put it back together right,” Derek said as he took it down, frowning then the crank handle fell off rather easily. His insane wolfy reflexes allowed him to catch it before it hit the ground.

What a show off.

With the missing piece found they opted to start with the pasta; gathering things like flour, eggs, salt, oil. He was pretty sure it was a basic recipe since it sounded familiar to what his own family --his mom-- did when pasta was homemade. Then again Stilinskis aren’t known for their cooking so store bought pasta was more of a regular occurrence.

“How many eggs?” Stiles asked from the fridge, forgetting how many they used last time.

“Six.”

Nodding, he grabbed the bowl from the counter and placed all six in there, not trusting himself to hold all six in his hands. He’d drop like four and then slip on the mess and the last two would crack on him. It was not something he or Derek wanted.

Once he was back at the counter he watched as Derek sifted flour and salt onto the counter, making the mountain/well thing for the eggs to settle in. Stiles did his best not to watch very muscular arms work on fluffing-- no wait sifting the flour.

He focused on cracking all the eggs into the bowl, and though he’s lived here a while now it was still weird not seeing yellow yolked eggs. The market in town was one of those “ we get shit local ” places and that included eggs. Stiles looked it up; apparently chickens around Sloan are fed a high carotene diet.

“Alright, you crack all the eggs?” Derek asked.

Stiles put the last shell into the trash and nodded, pouring them into the void Derek in the flour  created.

“Can I do the fork thing? You got to do it last time,” Stiles asked, eyeing the silverware longingly. The werewolf sighed, as if it was such a hard choice, and handed the fork over to Stiles. He grabbed it away and grinned down at the soon to be pasta dough, starting to mix the eggs into the flour.

He didn’t get very far before he broke the well a little too soon, half mixed egg running out.

“Jesus Ch--”

“I didn’t mean to!”

“Here, let me fix it,” Derek said and used his hands to scoop the yolk back into the flour and block it off from leaking anymore, “you’re a mess.”

“I resent that. Honest mistake, I’m not a pasta king like you are,” Stiles said, waving his hands wildly to make a point….only to have some of the floury/eggy goo fling onto Derek’s face. They froze and Stiles honestly felt his stomach drop a little bit.

Derek looked at him, eyes narrowed and brows furrowed, his hand snaking to the flour bag to his right.

“Okay what I did was an accident--!” Stiles yelped, stepping back but before he could fix his offense his mouth was suddenly full of flour. He sputtered, using a nearby dish rag to wipe off his tongue. Derek was laughing until his face went a bit red, unable to keep it in.

Stiles made a dash for the flour, whipping it at Derek.

It wasn’t just a pinch. It was an entire fist full, and it went everywhere.

“Your beard,” Stiles laughed, “you look like Santa.”

“You’re dead,” Derek said very seriously as he grabbed more flour and threw it at him.

He expected that, so he did his best to scramble away from it, running around the island to put distance between them. They both had flour in their hands, they were just waiting for the right time to strike. Stiles is impulsive, or at least he thought he was so he went for it. He leaned over the counter and flung the flour at Derek before making a run for it.

The guy followed the chase, bolting after him. He rounded the counter to try and get to the right side of the fridge to use the door as a shield, but of course...if he wasn’t going to slip on eggs he was going to slip on a mass of flour.

More of it rained down on him as hands hooked under his arms and pulled him back up to his feet.

“Whoa,” he breathed once on his feet, turning back to look at Derek who was coated in a thick layer of flour.

The wolf looked at him up and down, “we’re a mess.”

Stiles smirked, letting it fall from his face a little as his hand came up a little to cup Derek’s cheek. His thumb brushed near Derek’s mouth and said, “you have a little something right there.”

“Oh do I?” Derek deadpanned.

“Yeah you do,” Stiles nodded, stepping closer into the other’s space until there was very little space between them, “and I’ll just...get it for you.”

Impulsive.

Stiles pulled Derek in, their lips meeting in a rather flour-y and dry kiss, but it was in the moment. Whatever. Hands rested on his hips, pulling on them until they were flush together. There was this stupid tingling at the base of his spine; his excitement for whatever this was rolled through him at a breakneck speed. It prompted him to do two things; one was to rake his hands through Derek’s hair, and two was to possibly roll his hips a little bit.

Both actions pulled this tiny needy sound from Derek that was doing all kinds of wonderful things to Stiles.

“Listen guys--”

“What the fuck Isaac?” Stiles whined, pulling away from Derek to look at the beta.

The guy was still half asleep, his hair was matted to his forehead, and he was just in boxers and a shirt he’s sworn he’s seen Scott wear a few times. Most importantly; once a-fucking-gain the guy was interrupting them.

“Don’t ‘what the fuck me.’ What the fuck the both of you? I wake up to mouth sounds, then I come down to a cooking explosion, and it’s not even noon yet,” Isaac huffed, pointing out...some pretty key points that Stiles didn’t exactly have an answer for.

Derek let out a low sounding growl, “sorry, Isaac.”

“Wait, why are you apologizing?” Stiles gasped, watching as Derek moved to the small supply closet near the stairs where most of the cleaning supplies were.

“Because I remember being a werewolf in a house with other people,” Derek said simply, “and hearing certain people doing certain things wasn’t the highlight of my childhood.”

Isaac brushed passed them to the coffee machine.

Stiles crossed his arms...fine, point taken, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t upset that they were interrupted.

Derek swept the floor.

Chapter Text

Outside the snow was melting, it had been slowly for a while now, but within the last few days the thawing really began to show. On the property small patches of grass were poking through the white and the main road of Sloane no longer required chains to drive on anymore. 

Long story short, the drab winter months were fading into the promise of spring and Stiles had never been more excited for it. Growing up in California in a barely middle class family meant seeing snow was pretty rare. Vacations were a never unless it was a birthday or anniversary; they was usually just an hour drive to the ocean for a day then back.

So while living in Colorado and experiencing snow had been great...Stiles had never been colder in his life.  

His skin was always covered in goose bumps, his fingers and toes were red from the cold, and he swears at one point his hairs were shivering. The betas and even Lisa called bullshit on that one and maybe he was over exaggerating a tiny bit. Whatever, he was just a very cold person.  

So here he was, doing nothing on a cold day in early spring sitting on the couch with a mug of coffee.

Once again Derek made it; decaf, three sugars, and the caramel creamer just the way he likes. It’s actually kind of nice having someone just have coffee ready for him the second he’s down the stairs. Back at his dad’s house it was straight up black decaf, anything sugary was off limits.

Stiles tried to hide the creamer and sugar from him once. 

Within two days it was gone and his father was practically on a sugar rush. It was traumatic and from then on Stiles has had to suck down bitter coffee. Now? Now he can have his coffee the best way and Derek can craft it perfectly. Better, actually, since he has this frother thing that makes the coffee have the fancy froth thing you see at those “hipster brew houses” or whatever. Long story short Derek makes the best coffee and it’s like one sixteenth the reason why he’s sticking around.  

Stiles blinked away his thoughts, taking a sip of the drink before balancing his laptop on his knees and opening Skype. He scrolled down the list until he found Scott’s name, clicking on it only to be greeted with the monotone dial tone blaring from his speakers.

The screen switched, a blocky looking Scott coming to life as they connected. Thankfully they have fancy internet so the connection was pretty good. He smiled and waved through another sip of his coffee, Scott giving him a strangled hello before looking away from the screen only to mutter something.  

“What buddy?” Stiles asked.

In the next second Kira plopped down beside Scott, her hair looking….rumpled. Oh.

“Did I just--?”

No! Well yes ,” Kira said frowning before switching on a bright smile, “ but it’s okay. Hey Stiles, how’s your cabin in the woods?

“It’s not my cabin in the woods. Technically you’re correct but there aren’t any unicorns or horrible plot twists that have to do with sacrifices,” Stiles said. 

That movie is pretty bad,” Scott added.  

“Oh so you’ve seen that movie but not Star Wars?”  

I’m getting to it!

“Sure you are dude,” Stiles huffed, his ears picking up movement from the one creaky stair. He looked over to see Jackson and Isaac shuffling down them; still in pajamas but both equally curious to what was happening on the computer. He greeted them with a nod before looking back to Scott and Kira.

“How’s school treating you two?” Stiles asked.  

It sucks ,” Scott said.

Kira elbowed him and rolled her eyes, “he loves it. He likes getting to work with animals. I’m liking it too, my writing class is hard though. 

“I’m not going to lie, I’m kind of glad I’m not suffering through that right now,” Stiles joked, not flinching when two people crowded around him. On screen Scott and Kira went still, eyes wide while obviously processing who they were currently seeing. Stiles took charge, “right. Scott you know them. Jackson, this is Kira. Scott’s girlfriend and kitsune from New York. Kira this is Jackson...or if you prefer, lizard dick-- OW !”

He got a rather harsh flick to his ear for that one.

“I know where you sleep,” Jackson growled.

“You’re as threatening as a puppy,” Isaac said tiredly.

“Shut up,” Jackson snapped back at the blonde.

Scott cleared his throat, “ you guys are civil, it’s weird.

Stiles shrugged, “we all live together. It would kind of suck if we weren’t civil.”

Anyways ,” Kira dragged on, “ nice to meet you Jackson. I think I remember Lydia mentioning you a few times.

“Lydia mentioned me?”

“Oh God, here we go,” Isaac whined, leaving with a short wave.

Uh, yeah. A few times over the past few years ,” Kira said softly.

Stiles glanced at Jackson who, for a lack of a better term, looked all gooey with heart eyes. He didn’t even need to be a werewolf to hear how fast his heart was beating.

...it didn’t hurt. The idea of them; Jackson and Lydia, it didn’t hurt like it used to. He and Lydia, whatever metaphorically happened in his prepubescent and early adolescent fantasies, were just that. Fantasies. Which were nice at the time, but he’s come to realize she’s not it for him. She’s a friend, a best friend, a person who shares a love of knowledge and a person he admires. Nothing more. No more Stilinski-Martin babies or daydreams of coconut scented red hair.

“Is she...around?” Jackson asked finally.  

No,” Scott said, “she’s at MIT right now. 

“She made it to MIT?”  

Stiles nodded, “she’s already a junior, since she’s taken so many AP courses and did other...smart people things I guess.”  

“Wow...that’s great,” Jackson said, mumbled and soft as he walked away without even saying goodbye.

Stiles raised an eyebrow to Scott who simply shrugged, “ he left sophomore year, I don’t know what to say.

“Neither do I, so I’m not going to say anything to him,” Stiles said before moving on with, “how’s dad? Melissa?”

Scott went off on a long tangent about how his mom was doing, mentioning how she’s bored with the lack of hospital excitement lately. Perhaps she’d grown used to the constant flow of dead people, supernatural levels of ER visits, and the blood and gore that came with it all. The thought made a chill run up and down his spine. His father was fine; the diner still follows the “ no bacon, light cheese, little grease, but extra lettuce with tomato ” rule for his burgers. The station is also quiet, void of a shoplifting bust and a few noise complaints. Parrish is doing well there too, now that he knows how to reign in his Hellhound thing.

By the sound of things Beacon Hills is healing from the damage.  

It’s kind of sad that it’ll be fine before he’ll be.

How are you though?” Scott asked. 

Stiles raised an eyebrow, “I told you, my cabin life is fine.”

He was given looks by both of them, equally terrifying as they called him on his bullshit without even using words. For a moment he wondered if he could forge shitty internet connection and eventually end the call. He instantly felt bad about that so he sighed as he stared into his mug.

“Uh, getting somewhere. I’m not as jumpy,” Stiles said softly, “nightmares are still there. I’ve learned to keep them quiet though. Werewolves are surprisingly light sleepers.”  

That’s a start, I’m proud of you man,” Scott smiled. 

Kira nodded, “ super proud. Maybe when spring break comes along you can visit? Or maybe we can visit?

“Maybe. I kind of dumped Isaac and Jackson onto Derek. I’ll ask how Derek--”

Since when do you need to ask Derek for things?

“Since I moved in with him? Scott, I’m not just going to open the house to you, you and Derek weren’t exactly gal pals. The visits are a maybe, that good enough for you?” Stiles asked, getting snappy near the end.  

His friends got a little defensive but nodded anyways.

I gotta...do college stuff, bio homework. Talk to you later? ” Scott asked suddenly.

Stiles nodded, “whatever man. Talk to you later. Bye, Kira.”  

Bye St--

He shut his computer before she could finish. The grip on his mug turned his knuckles white, his teeth were practically turning to dust with how hard he was clenching them together. He’s known Scott for sixteen years yet there’s this way he just gets under Stiles’ skin. He stood from the couch quickly and let his computer fall into the mess of blankets he’d just been using. Without words he dumped the rest of his coffee into the sink, the sugar in it only feeding into his agitation. 

It’s like the time Scott forgot to show up for the science fair in fifth grade, then got upset when Stiles had Heather help him out instead. He gets weird and defensive, unable to see the other side of the situation.

“Stop it, the house smells terrible,” Isaac called from the dining room.

Stiles narrowed his eyes at the beta, shoulders shaking with each breath. He needed out. He marched to the front door; shoving his boots on and grabbing his lighter jacket before storming out of the house. The wet grass was slick and squelched under his weight with each step. Around him the air was crisp with the mid morning chill.  

Before long the house was a distant memory.

The native Colorado trees and shrubbery surrounded him as he walked deeper into the woods. Blossoms on the trees blocked the rising sun’s rays from above, as time went on he could see his breath less and less; meanwhile, his ears picked up on the cacophony of birds and small animals all around.

No Skype tones, no Isaac and Jackson, no Derek, no cars, and no hum of electricity.

Just him.

Panic still settled low in his stomach. It was heavy and constant as he walked; but through all of this he still had ten fingers. Eventually he walked up on a small river that obviously was a downstream flow from the mountain. Snow was still in thick patches around the stream of water, fish swam with the current, and Stiles sat on a dry rock and allowed himself time to calm down.

⌽⌽⌽ 

“Think you would’ve made it home?”

Stiles flinched at the sound of someone else’s voice and craned his neck, only to spot Derek walking through the trees and into the clearing. He had to convince himself that his heart didn’t skip when Derek called it home . Maybe he’d be extra lucky and maybe Derek didn’t pick up on it

“I don’t know, maybe,” Stiles shrugged, eyes focusing back on the river.

“Isaac thinks you’re mad at him,” Derek said.

“Wrong idiot.”

“Scott?”

Stiles slumped a little further, head falling into his hands.

“So...Scott.”

“Yeah,” Stiles said with more venom than he intended...but he wouldn’t take it back.

He still doesn’t understand how Scott is okay after everything that happened; Scott is too bad of a liar to hide if he wasn’t okay. Stiles was jealous that his best friend got the girl, the athletic ability, the Alpha powers, and managed to get out and live life again. Meanwhile he’s stuck here trying to stitch an open wound with children’s tweezers. He’s been afraid of what goes on inside his own head, sleeping more or less is a rarity these days. Somehow the universe decided to deal him the shittest cards, and now he can’t deal with it anymore.

“He says things he doesn’t mean,” Derek said.

“Yeah, well he looks at me like I’m seconds away from breaking.” 

“Are you?” Derek asked. 

Stiles froze, teeth gnawing at his lower lip as he craned his neck to look at the other. That...who gave Derek the right to read him like an open book? Actually, since when could Derek read him like an open book? Maybe he’s felt this build up since Scott got bitten and maybe he’s resorted to bottling it up, only getting better at it after the Nogitsune.

Maybe being here, in a stable place with normalcy has allowed him to keep pretending that looming panic isn’t there. He blinked the blurriness from his eyes, mouth parting as he took a deep breath, refusing to let tears fall. There was nothing to cry about, there wasn’t--

“Yes there is,” Derek said sharply, stepping over to sit beside Stiles on the other rock, “you have a lot to cry about if you’d let yourself.” 

Stiles raised an eyebrow, ignoring that he’d been talking out loud with, “do you...have you ever let yourself cry?”

“Sometimes, depends what or who I’m crying for.”

“So yes?”

“Yes Stiles, I have the ability to cry,” Derek deadpanned. 

It was hard to picture Derek crying for real, he’s so used to this stoic hard version of the man that the softness of just letting emotion out was hard to imagine. Stiles used his boot to kick at some river bank pebbles, the harsh sound they made echoing between the void of conversation.

“I think he doesn’t like the idea of me living here with you,” Stiles said after a while.

“Like you’re not safe?”

He shook his head immediately, “no. Of course I’m safe, I mean...I think he hates that I chose to stay here over going back to California to fulfill our bromance and go to college together.”  

“You’d just be stuck,” Derek pointed out, “taking care of him, not having time for yourself to figure everything out.”

“When did you get so wise?” Stiles asked.

“When I gave time to myself, I was here for a few months before you showed up.”

“Is that a backhand way of saying I screwed up your healing process or whatever?”

Derek paused, shrugging, “no. I think you being here actually has been helping. Same goes for Isaac and Jackson.”  

“You just used me and the term helping in the same sentence,” Stiles snorted.

“I did and I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t true,” Derek said.  

Stiles’ hands braced on the rock below him, fingers laced within the thick layer of lichen that covered the stone. His chest was tight with things he didn’t know how to process. Derek scooted over until their sides were pressed together, body heat being exchanged which juxtaposed the slight early spring chill. Stiles bit the bullet, leaning completely on Derek with his head awkwardly craned over so it could rest on the the older man’s shoulder. An arm looped around his back, a hand searing its print on his hip where it rested.  

“I don’t know what I did to let you let me stay,” Stiles said. 

The arm around him tightened.

 “You were you, and that was enough.”

Chapter Text

“I think this is a great idea.”

Derek rolled his eyes at Lisa, and the mousy brunette flipped him off in response before taking off her hat and sunglasses as they settled at their spot.

“It was your idea anyways,” Isaac said, setting down the cooler and outdoor chairs down.

Derek ignored the soft conversation in favor of looking out onto the creek. It was June and unusually hot. The water was flowing downstream in a soft current, lapping against the thick grainy sand and rocks at the shore. It was so inviting. Above, the sun was shining brightly, lighting up the blue sky. Its rays felt amazing against his back, warming his skin enough to give him goosebumps.

A splash pulled him out of his thoughts. His eyes flickered over to the water to see Jackson surfacing with a scowl on his face.

“I’m going to fucking kill you, Lahey!” Jackson yelled, rushing out of the water.

“I thought you evolved past last names,” Stiles snickered.

Jackson glared at Stiles, and Derek gave him a hidden look to keep him in check. Lisa was with them, and as much as Derek wants to trust her because he really does, she still doesn’t know about them. The other beta set his shoulders, opting to chase Isaac around the beach to try and get revenge. It just might happen; Jackson happens to be faster than Isaac.

Derek helped Lisa and Stiles with the set up as the other two messed around. Before long, the once bare beach was decorated with chairs, a blanket, and enough food, drinks, and music to last the whole day.

“Come on, I wanna swim,” Lisa said as she shucked off her dress, exposing a rather vintage looking swimsuit. At this point Derek wasn’t surprised; the couple at the only second hand shop in town knew Lisa by name. She was their number one customer.

“I’ll go in later.” Derek shrugged, taking his seat on the blanket to finalize his decision.

“Stiles?” She asked.

Derek looked over, watching Stiles as he stood on the sand. His toes dug into the grains and his fingers nervously fiddled with the hem of his shirt. The lighting mark. He could barely remember what it looked like. It’s been months since their fight, and even then he only got a quick glance at it. It’s big though, spanning across his left shoulder blade and then some. His eyes went to Stiles’ neck but saw nothing, so obviously the lines were slowly fading just like any scar over time.

“Uh, I think I’ll keep Derek company,” Stiles said, sounding a little breathless, “if...that’s okay?”

Lisa nodded, “Yeah. That’s fine, don’t look so torn up about it.”

With that, she patted his cheek before running off to join Isaac and Jackson, both now reduced to swim trunks and wrestling in the water. Derek smiled at the three of them, the feeling of pack and family running strong even though none of them were Alphas.

There was a sigh and rustling beside him. Stiles took a seat with his knees pulled up to his chest.

“You’re not going to swim?” He asked.

Derek bit the inside of his cheek. “I’ve tried. After the pool...I uh, it’s harder.”

Stiles made a funny noise, head cocking to the right. “Really?”

“Not being able to move while sinking is scary.”

“I got you though, plus that was like eight feet of water.”

“I’m not prying into why you’re not swimming,” Derek commented dryly and Stiles bit his lip and nodded with understanding. It might’ve been a little harsh but he really was only here because everyone else was, and being alone at the house...while it felt like bliss this time last year, he couldn’t fathom it now.

He enjoyed having the company of these people, and he’s allowing himself to enjoy it.

“So I was thinking,” Stiles said but didn’t continue.

Derek arched an eyebrow, “you were thinking? Very good.”

“Don’t be an asshole.”

They both laughed, faces turning slightly pink.

“I was thinking about the Fourth of July, and uh...I was wondering if we could have people come here? Just for like two or three days of course. Also no pressure, I just thought it might be nice or--”

“I’ll think about it,” Derek said, cutting Stiles off before he ran out of breath.

“You’ll think? Very good,” Stiles shot back.

Derek laughed, scratching his chin as he sat back in the chair, “you’re the worst.”

Stiles smirked with a shrug as he got up, walking to the beach bag. Derek watched, surprised when he got sunscreen out. While he didn’t take his shirt off, he did lather up his arms, legs, neck, and face pretty well. When he asked about it, Stiles rolled his eyes and mentioned his many moles and how he wasn’t really keen on getting cancer. Derek was pretty keen on that not happening as well.

They kept the conversation going: sometimes Stiles would crack a joke, sometimes Derek would tell him a story about some place he’s been, and sometimes they’d fall silent and watch the three in the water. Derek kept an eye on Isaac. He was obviously into Lisa and she felt the same way, except Derek was worried for her finding out. She seemed to be strong and loyal, which was all pointed to good things, but he still couldn’t bring himself to tell her yet.

He couldn’t lose another house and another family.

“Stop.”

He blinked and looked to Stiles. “Huh?”

“Your face is scrunched up, you do that when you slip into a dark place. Stop it. We’re here to have fun,” Stiles said.

Derek felt himself pause...because Stiles can read him like an open book and he doesn’t know if he loves or hates that. Maybe both? It felt nice to have someone there to guide him and keep him on track. At the same time he’s terrified of what that meant, what that would do to them.

He nodded anyways, using his phone to skip the current song and settle on one he likes. Thinking back on it, he should’ve never gave Jackson his spotify. Now all his music is mixed in with whatever rappy techno bullshit the guy listens to.

They stopped for lunch, all of them huddled close as they passed around sandwiches, chips, and fruit.

“How would you guys feel if some people from Beacon Hills came here for the fourth?” Derek asked after everyone settled.

Stiles went still as he unwrapped his sandwich.

Jackson and Isaac look at him with questioning looks.

Lisa continued eating.

“Who?” Isaac asked.

Derek looked to Stiles, who fumbled a bit before getting his words out. “Uh my dad, Melissa, Scott, Kira, and Lydia. Nothing big.”

Jackson nodded quickly, and Derek is pretty sure there is only one person on that list that made him so quick to agree. He fought the urge to roll his eyes. Isaac shrugged and nodded, saying it might be a little fun but they’ll need to find a good place to shoot off fireworks. To that, Lisa mentioned a place just west of Sloan that would be dry enough to light stuff off without burning anything.

“How long?” Isaac asked next.

“They’d come on the second and leave on the fifth,” Derek said, and he’d have them for a day or two, but the fact Stiles hasn’t seen his dad in a year swayed him to give them a few more days.

“Derek you don’t have to--”

“I want to,” he said to Stiles, giving him a soft smile of reassurance.

Stiles grins, hand falling on Derek’s knee with a soft squeeze. “Thank you.”

Derek puts his hand on top of Stiles’, fingers moving them around so they could hold hands. The weight of Stiles’ palm in his reminds him why he’s doing this and reminds him what’s really important here. Lisa is biting her lip to attempt to hide her smile while Jackson and Isaac do nothing. They’re obviously used to it.

For whatever reason, their approval means a lot to Derek.

He pulls Stiles hand a bit, jerking his head once for Stiles to get the memo. The other man scoots over so they’re closer. It’s more comfortable, and Derek feels at ease as he takes another bite of his sandwich. It doesn’t take long for everyone to finish off their food. Of course Lisa finishes before all of them. Werewolves need a lot of calories, and Stiles has three stomachs, so they take a little longer.

“I get why you brought so much food now,” she teased and they all shrugged.

“At least you’re not the one paying to feed a small army,” Derek said.

It earns him a few laughs.

Isaac and Lisa get up, returning to the water to probably have a sickeningly shmoopy splash war. Jackson opted to stay behind, finishing the last of the carton of strawberries and melon. He was on his phone, texting like mad, and Derek really didn’t want to know.

“What about our toes?” Stiles asked out of the blue.

Derek blinked and looked to Stiles, eyebrows arched. “What about them?”

The younger man points to his toes then to the water, “I’m sweating, you’re sweating, and I...I think I can handle my toes.”

There is a moment where Derek tenses up, because he’s suddenly getting pictures of him at the bottom of the pool, looking up for a moment through the blurred chlorine water to see Stiles swimming away from him, and he’d never been too good at holding his breath anyways. Jackson is here too, and while he smells like wolf, Derek’s neck still prickles with the venomous tail that swiped across his neck.

He wants to say no, but he knows that was years ago. Jackson is a werewolf now. Nobody is going to force him in this time.

He would never heal if he never tries to.

Stiles shakes him out of his thoughts. “Derek we don’t have to.”

“We can,” he said, feeling himself flush from more than the heat. “But slowly. Yeah?”

“Of course.”

They stand up and head to the edge of the water. The sand beneath them is soft from years of water lapping at it, and the closer they get to the water the cooler the air around them gets. It’s a nice feeling, better than sitting in stagnant hot air. Derek hesitates, holding Stiles’ hand a little tighter as open water hits his feet.

He won’t lie, it feels pretty good.

“I’m sorry about that by the way,” Stiles said after a moment, “I should’ve held you up.”

“If you hadn’t called Scott then we’d probably be dead right now,” Derek pointed out. “What you did was necessary. Don’t apologize.”

“You don’t swim anymore,” Stiles pointed out, sounding and smelling guilty.

“I wasn’t a big swimmer in the first place.”

Still .”

“Stiles,” Derek pushed, turning to face him better, “I hated swimming as a kid. That experience didn’t make water anymore of my friend than it used to be, but here I am dipping my toes in. Please don’t blame yourself for that.”

He could hear a sharp inhale from the camp, and when Derek looked over Jackson was looking back. Obviously he had been listening in to their conversation. The sharp scent of guilt and horror flooded the beta, and Derek shook his head at him too.

“It’s not your fault either,” Derek reminded him.

Stiles squeezed his hand.

Jackson sunk further into his chair.

“Hey, you’re in the water!” Lisa beamed from a couple feet away.

Isaac gave them a lopsided smile. “Think you can manage knee deep?”

“No,” Derek said, but Stiles, who had seemed like he’d been thinking about it, deflated a bit and stayed put. “You can go,” he encouraged.

“You can even keep your shirt on,” Lisa added, crossing her arms in a challenge stance.

Stiles snorted. “Pfft, I’m not taking it off because you’d be too captivated by my hot bod.”

“You wish,” Isaac snapped.

Derek and Lisa both laughed, and Stiles flipped them off before stepping forward until he was at his knees. He could tell Stiles had been itching to get into the water and cool off, and the shirt would protect his pale skin from burning anyways.

It only took a few seconds for Lisa to lose her cool and splash Stiles. Stiles sputtered and splashed her back, which turned into another but thankfully less shmoopy splash war. Jackson came back in as well, joining in while Derek watched from the safety of the shore. It put a smile on his face to see the four of them having fun.

“Stilinski! Stop getting me in the face!” Jackson growled.

“So you regress to your old self when things don’t go your way? Noted,” Stiles smirked.

Jackson tackled Stiles into the water, both reemerging with laughter.

Derek hadn’t felt this happy in a long time, and while this may not have been an official pack, it sure as hell feels like a family. For him that means the world.

Chapter Text

“Do we have enough popcorn? Lord knows Scott can pack it in before the movie even starts. Oh shit Derek do we even have a popcorn maker? Were-things taste the microwave shit, because let me tell you Isaac hates it--”

Stiles turned around only to be silenced by Derek standing right behind him with a flat look. It made the words die in his throat before they had a chance to become more than a thought. The beta’s hands capture his and squeezed tight in reassurance.

“We have a popcorn machine, it’s in the pantry,” Derek said softly, “we do have popcorn and if it’s not enough I’m sure Lisa can snag some from the store for us. Take a deep breath, please .”

“Okay,” Stiles nodded and did as told, his lunged managed to fill quite a bit before he let the breath go.

His eyes flickered to the clock where bright green letters told him it was just past noon. This meant the plane definitely landed and the gang from Beacon was probably already with Jackson and Isaac. He was about to see people he hasn’t seen in a whole year; fuck, he can’t even imagine what Derek is thinking right now.

The way the man’s eyebrows are heavy set give him a small hint.

Stiles stepped into his space and wrapped his arms around Derek, craning his head back enough so they could maintain eye contact. Strong arms held him back, equally strong thumbs massaged at his lower back.

“You okay?” Stiles asked.

“You’re the one freaking out about popcorn,” Derek teased, lips split into a small smirk before it faded into a neutral look, “but I’m a little nervous too. Especially about Scott, he’s not my biggest fan.”

“Well tough shit, he’ll have to deal. I’m not going to restrain myself from kissing you, especially during the fireworks dammit,” Stiles said with determination.

Derek laughed lightly before he stuck his face into Stiles’ neck, breathing deep. He tilted his neck a little better and let his cheek rest on Derek’s shoulder. The house was silent and it was moments like those that made Stiles’ heart swell in his chest, made him feel warm and wanted. After a few moments they broke apart and worked together to make sure everything was in order before everyone got here.

It had been when they checked rooms and their cleanliness that a thought hit Stiles like a sack of bricks.  

“Der,” he muttered and spun around to count the number of bedrooms again before he groaned.

“Care to share?” Derek prompted.

“There are six bedrooms and nine of us, and we all know we can’t put Lydia on the couch,” Stiles said, arms crossed so he couldn’t nervously bite at his nails.

There was a momentary pause before Derek shrugged, “you can sleep in my room. Problem solved.”

That made Stiles pause, stomach curling in a way he’s not entirely sure is good or bad. The first thing he thinks is how awesome it’s going to be to sleep with Derek; like actually sleep not sex because they’re not there yet. The next thing that runs through his mind is how Derek’s been since after their fight. Sure they cuddle and touch, but not for a long period of time and Derek always avoids touching his lower back.  

It was the silence that made Derek pale and tense up, close himself off in a way he hasn’t done in a while, “or you can take my room and I’ll take the--?”

“No! No, uh I want to! I really want to,” Stiles rushed out before adding, “and dude I wouldn’t put you on the couch in your own home.”

Derek pretty much melted, the tense line of his shoulders dissipating quickly with a reassured nod. A second later his face pinched up again, eyebrows scrunched together like two caterpillars in battle, “don’t call me dude.”

“Baby cakes?”

“No.”

“Shnookums?”

“Oh God no.”

“What about--?”

Stiles was cut off yet again when Derek’s hand fell on his shoulder, the warmth of it made his skin prickle.

“Let’s just stick with Sourwolf, yeah?” Derek proposed.

Stiles felt his face break out into a dopey grin as he leaned into the older man, his chest rose and fell with laughter he fought to hold in. “Deal,” Stiles agreed.

For a while they stood in the hall like that, their touch never faded, the comfortability between them increased as time flew by. Eventually Stiles found himself on one of the decorative hallway tables, his back firm against the wall with his chest pressed to Derek’s. Their mouths and tongues explored and teased, hands roamed across skin, and Stiles was ten hundred percent sure he was in heaven.

That was until Derek stepped back with an incredibly irritated look on his face.

“I can hear the cars about a mile out,” Derek informed.

Stiles whined low in his throat as his head thunked against the wall behind him, “that means we have a mile of kissing left.”

“Unless you want to explain to your father why you have a wet patch on the front of your pants--?”

“I do not!” Stiles gasped, face red as he looked down between his thighs. Sure enough the light tan of his pants was slightly damp and dark in one particular area. “Okay so maybe I do--stop looking so smug and let me go change pants,” he said while he shoved a bit at Derek to get some space.

Derek laughed, full-bodied and bright, and fuck Stiles was wrong before. This was heaven. Stiles retreated to his room, pants in his hamper and soon replaced with new clean ones. He eyed his closet for a moment before he grabbed a few changes of clothes and pajamas. His dad will probably take this room, he doesn’t want to waltz in early and wake him up. By the time he had put his clothes into Derek’s room the front door had opened, a new cacophonous roar of voices drifted through the house.

Suddenly this place didn’t feel as hollow.

He spotted Scott first when he walked to the stairs, a part of him dammed the open concept which gave him no preparation. Still he all but sprinted down the stairs, and his feet were on autopilot towards the Alpha. The familiar scent of the soft soapy body wash Scott always used and the gentle giant hug had made Stiles feel like he was back in Beacon Hills again.

“Dude! Oh my god dude!” Scott basically screamed in excitement.

“I know Scotty,” Stiles said and squeezed him once more before he pulled back.

His eyes flickered to the right. There were as many suitcases as there were people, void of Lydia who had two suitcases at her side. A second later he stepped up to his father whose light eyes seemed glassed over with emotion. Stiles buried his face into his father’s shoulder, breathing in the greasy scent from whatever unhealthy food his father ate at the airport.

“Have you gotten taller?” His father asked and patted his back.

Stiles smirked and shook his head, “maybe you’re starting to shrink Pops.”

“Watch it there kiddo.”

“Well you don’t have to watch it around me, come here,” Melissa said, opening her arms.

“Hey Melissa,” Stiles smiled and gave her a hug.

“You look great...better than last time we saw you,” Kira mentioned sheepishly with a wave.

Stiles resists the urge to bite at his lip. His eyes flicker Derek who gave him a reassuring look. It made his rising nerves cool down. Lydia cleared her throat and promptly removed herself from Jackson’s side only to pull him into a tight hug.

“Did not see you as a country boy Stiles, not one bit,” the redhead told him with a smirk as she pulled away.

“It’s not like I’m raising cattle and rising horseback,” he said which got him a few laughs.

The tour was quick, and of course every compliment Derek received for his craftsmanship made a deep blush cross his face. Everyone was assigned their rooms, suitcases lugged up the stairs were soon forgotten on beds in favor of getting lunch started. Apparently the plane had turbulence the whole time, thus nobody at their inflight meal.

A room full of hungry werewolves and probably equally hungry humans was not an ideal situation.

“So someone mentioned burgers on the way here?” John questioned.

Isaac, who was at the fridge to get out mass quantities of ground beef and a small package of ground turkey, shook his head, “as much as I’d love to let you eat a regular burger, Stiles—”

“Really son?”

Stiles looked up from where he’d been double counting their burger bun and condiment count, eyebrows raised, “two choices, a burger now or a steak on the 4th.”

At that his father clammed up, looking at the turkey meat with defeated eyes, “I guess I’m in the mood for turkey then.”

“Brutal,” Derek muttered with a smirk.

“It is for his health,” Stiles defended, hip checking him playfully. Melissa who was sitting at the island caught the gesture, and a look of slight surprise crossed her face.

Jackson, Scott, Lydia, and Kira came in from the living room then. The weirdest part was seeing Scott, Lydia, and Jackson together again; it gave him horrifying flashbacks to middle school and high school when they went together as well as oil and water.

Now?

Now they’re civil adults cracking jokes at each other.

“London must’ve been really good for you then,” Scott said, leaning against a counter with his arms crossed.

Jackson nodded, “I did a lot of growing up.”

“Have you told them the fanny—”

Jackson snarled at Isaac who rolled his eyes and went back to seasoning the burger meat with Kira’s help.

“Wait, no, we have to hear this,” Lydia said mischievously.

“No we really don’t,” Jackson whined.

“Come on,” Scott pressed.

Stiles cleared his throat, he could feel the mass waves of discomfort coming from Jackson, “if he doesn’t want to talk about it he doesn't have to. It’s an embarrassing story, let it go.”

The room stilled for a moment, and Stiles wanted nothing more than to punch the hurt look off Scott’s face. For nearly a year he’s been living with Derek and several months with Jackson and Isaac; without a doubt he’ll defend them, it isn’t even a question.

“Right,” Jackson said as the tension left his shoulder, “um, someone want to help me set the table outside?”

Lydia opted in immediately only to have John and Melissa follow them.

After a moment Stiles’ attention was caught by Derek who was giving him a curious look, “you know Jackson can fight his own battles, right?”

“I know,” Stiles nodded, “but I know he still has trouble with peer pressure, you should’ve seen him freshman year of high school. He would do anything just to….be somebody. I don’t want him to have that same struggle now that he’s past it.”

“He’ll be fine,” Scott interjected, getting the rest of the kitchen’s attention, “I mean him telling an embarrassing story doesn’t even come close to the shit he did to us.”

“He was all bark and no bite except when he was the kanima. All he really did to us was call us names and threaten to do something,” Stiles encountered while starting on the fruit salad.

“Let's agree to disagree? Maybe get back to this being a nice visit?” Kira piped up.

“Wonderful idea,” Derek grumbled.

Scott huffed and nodded before continuing with, “so what is there to do around here?”

After that things went much smoother. Conversation was kept to light hearted topics and when they did dip into hostile territory someone was quick enough to pull them out. The reunion lunch had been successful and by the time bellies were full all of the food was pretty much gone. Stiles made a mental note to suggest a drive to Aspen because there was no way the local store had enough for them to buy in bulk.

The betas—including Derek—invited Scott and Kira out for a run, and both of them happily accepted claiming they needed to stretch their legs. It left everyone else at the house, cleaning up lunch which didn’t take long with four sets of hands.

Melissa, John, and Lydia are headed to the living room when the doorbell rang. Stiles excused himself to get it. Lisa stood on the porch, her usually poofy hair up in a frizzy ponytail while she wore a thin button up and corduroy overall dress. In her hand was a small bag that was obviously not just for a day out.

“Uh, hey Lisa, what’s up?” Stiles asked.

The woman frowned, “Isaac invited me to stay for the fourth? He said it would be okay….did he not ask Derek?”

Shit .

“No, wait I mean yes,” Stiles lied, “yeah he asked. Come on in, I’ve been really busy today. It went over my head.”

He backed up and let Lisa in, closing the door to preserve the air conditioning from the outside heat. Once she kicked off her shoes and stuck them in the foyer closet he lead her into the living room where the remainder of the group was.

“Who’s this?” Melissa asked, curious from her seat on the couch.

“Guys this is Lisa, she’s a good friend of ours in town,” Stiles introduced, “Lisa this is my dad John, my best friend’s mom Melissa, and the one and only Lydia Martin.”

Lydia smirked, “the one and only.”

Lisa ducked her head a bit before waving, “hi. It’s nice to meet you...but I thought there’d be more of you?”

“The others went on a hike, we volunteered to stick around to clean up from lunch,” John answered.

“You hungry?” Stiles asked.

“No, I’m good,” Lisa said and nodded her head towards the stairs, “I’m going to run my bag upstairs.”

With that the woman turned on her heel and marched up the stairs in the direction of Isaac’s room. Stiles turned back to the three others in the room who seemed alright with Lisa which was a relief.

“She seems nice,” Lydia noted.

“Is she, um, pack?” His father asks.

Stiles blinks after he plopped himself on the nearby armchair, “kind of? I mean we’re not really a pack since there’s no Alpha...but she feels like family.”

Melissa’s eyebrows bunched up a bit, “how does that work then, a pack with no Alpha?”

“Lisa and I are humans, but for Derek, Isaac, and Jackson they’re technically Omegas,” Stiles explained.

“That’s impossible, they’d be feral by now, right?” Lydia countered.

Stiles shrugged, “probably, but somehow it works. Don’t question it.”

“Don’t question what?”

Everyone looked up at Lisa who walked back in.

“I was just asking Stiles about his Jeep and how it still works after all these years,” Lydia told her, tongue quick to come up with a lie.

The room’s tension faded and the five of them decided to watch some TV while waiting for the rest to come back from their “hike”.

⌽⌽⌽

“That was certainly interesting,” Kira said, a little pale from the game.

John took a sip from his beer, “I don’t think I’ll ever unhear my son talk about incest and pulling out.”

Stiles laughed as he packed up Cards Against Humanity. Unsurprisingly to him, Derek, Isaac, and Jackson; Lisa had won the game with her hidden vulgar sense of humor. The visitors from Beacon Hills learned a lot about her, including her affinity for the two midgets shitting in a box card.

“It sure as hell was fun though,” Jackson said.

Scott who was sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table nodded, “I still can’t believe how many expansions you guys have.”

“Well we kind of need it with this amount of players,” Derek said, as he got up to put the game back in the closet.

Isaac stood up then, headed towards the kitchen for a drink. Lisa stood up as well and followed the beta. Stiles rolled his eyes knowing those who were going to mildly defile the kitchen for a good five minutes.

“What the hell are you rolling your eyes for, they are not as bad as you and Derek,” Jackson teased.

Stiles watched Derek tense up from the corner of his eye, and yeah that really wasn’t the way they wanted to be outed in front of everyone. Jackson realized his slip and sunk into the couch.

What ?” Scott asked, his head doing the confused puppy tilt.

“I’m surprised none of you picked up on it,” Melissa said with a warm smile on her face.

Stiles really does love that woman.

“Uh yeah, Derek and I are a thing,” he said with a little jazz hands to lighten the mood.

Derek took his seat again beside Stiles, and he couldn’t help but snort when an arm was thrown around his shoulders for effect.

“Since when ?” Scott asked and Kira lightly elbowed him.

“Mid-winter? A few months,” Derek answered this time.

Lydia hummed in thought, “I should’ve seen it. Good for you two.”

Stiles glanced to his father who had yet to chime in on the conversation. The older Stilinski was looking between them, and thankfully there was no heat behind the look.

“Are you happy?” John asks.

“Wha—of course I’m happy,” Stiles said quickly.

His father nodded, “then I’m happy….and Derek I assume I don’t need to tell you I know how to use wolfsbane bullets, right?”

Derek squirmed a bit before he nodded shakily, “I’m fully aware.”

“Please stop with the threatening gun talk Dad,” Stiles groaned.

His father smirked, “I’m done.”

Isaac and Lisa came back in after a few more minutes, and suggested they watch a movie which was a fabulous idea. It took Stiles’ mind off Scott’s pissy attitude that quickly got tiring; he’d only been here for seven hours. Derek’s hand found his, and it’s all Stiles needed to calm down and focus on the movie.

He’ll push off talking to Scott until tomorrow.

⌽⌽⌽

Stiles stepped out of Derek’s bathroom adorned in his pajamas with freshly brushed teeth. Derek was in bed already, propped up with some pillows, eyebrows furrowed as he fiddled on his phone.

“Someone looks frustrated,” Stiles pointed out as he turned off the overhead light.

The room, much like the rest of the house, was stone and wood. A giant window exposed the outside, framed with cream colored curtains that compliment the beding. Stiles moved to the bed and pulled down the bedding only to climb in beside Derek. He didn’t know if Derek consciously chose the right side of the bed, but it left Stiles with the left side; his favorite side.

“Cora is asking about some insurance stuff,” Derek grumbled.

“From the fire?” Stiles asked and turned on his side to face the werewolf.

“Yeah,” Derek nodded, “she needs the account numbers since we don’t live together anymore, it’ll make it easier for her to access her funds.”

Stiles frowned, not a fan of the worry on Derek’s face, and wiggled in closer to Derek. The man let out a sigh and set his phone down, reaching over to turn off the table lamp. The room was submerged in darkness, the only source of light now emitted from the window from the half full moon.

Derek turned back, and Stiles was eagerly waiting for some form of cuddling; however, what he got was Derek beside him on his back and blankly staring at the ceiling. Confused, Stiles propped himself up on his elbow and knew full well Derek can see him.

“Um...do I smell or something?” Stiles asked.

“What?”

“Am I wearing scratchy pajamas?”

“What the hell are you asking me?"

Stiles flailed his free arm to motion between them, “there is currently zero cuddle action right now.”

Derek tensed up before he ran a hand down his face. Silence made the room ring for a moment and Stiles was ready to say fuck it and curl over on the opposite end of the bed. That was until Derek cleared his throat as if he was actually going to use his words.

“I—I want to hold you, but I don’t want to hurt you.”

“What?” Stiles asked this time.

“We haven’t cuddled since the fight,” Derek whispered, voice crackly, “and when I tried to hold you then all I did was irritate the wounds I gave you.”

Stiles felt like an asshole for trying to turn this on to Derek. His throat and back ached in remembrance of the post fight wounds. The bruises were on his body for a good two weeks and then some. He hated thinking about that fight, the fight; it was a terrible thing. He leaned forward a little and his hand searched until it found and linked with Derek’s.

“I was being a fucking shithead, provoking you like that. We both said and did things we didn’t mean,” Stiles said lowly, “and it’s not like I’m still hurt. I’m fine now.”

Derek’s teeth worried into his lower lip, “logically I know that but I—”

“But nothing Derek, you’re not going to hurt me,” Stiles pressed as he squeezed Derek’s hand, “I trust that you’re not going to hurt me.”

The verbal conversation faded, but it didn’t mean the conversation was over. They traded a few expressions, and now that Stiles’ eyes had adjusted to the darkness he could see how upset Derek was over this. After a moment Stiles pulled away from Derek and sunk back into his part of the bed before he spread his arms open.

“Then I’ll hold you,” Stiles tried as nerves ran through him.

Derek’s face went soft, his lips parted slightly only to expose his top two teeth. He let out a sigh of relief when Derek scooted over and curled against him. Stiles tangled their legs together and held onto Derek firmly. The soft smell of soap and the sharp scent of toothpaste flooded Stiles’ nose. Derek’s body temperature ran hot, and he was sure by the morning they’ll wake up with the blankets kicked off. He let himself hold onto the older man, relaxing into the touch, sleepiness slowly consuming him.

“How can you be so sure I’d never hurt you again? After what I did,” Derek asked, voice muffled in Stiles’ neck.

Because I love you is what Stiles almost said.

Instead he goes with, “because I trust you, completely.”

Derek held him tighter and Stiles gave him a kiss on the forehead that was worth more than words.

“Goodnight Stiles,” Derek muttered.

Stiles yawned, “night Derek.”

Chapter Text

The next morning was good; it was a pancake brunch before the festivities for the fourth commence.

Everyone was outside to set down the dishes they brought out. Stiles flipped the last pancake before he set it on the platter and covered it with aluminum foil. He used an oven mitt to hold the hot plate and began to make his way outside.

“Yo Scott? Wanna get the door?” Stiles asked seeing as he’d been the last one out.

The Alpha looked through the glass sliding door, and Stiles felt instantly put off. The guy looked beyond pissed as he used more force than necessary to open the door. Stiles nearly feared the glass would shatter. Scott’s crooked jaw was set in place, and it looked as if his teeth were grinding together.

“Um—” Stiles started but was promptly cut off.

“Is Derek abusing you?” Scott snarled.

Someone dropped silverware, the cutlery rang loudly in the silence. Stiles felt numb for a moment before unshackled rage bubbled up in his chest. His father stood up abruptly, eyes glazed over in shock and calculated anger. Derek, who hadn’t been sitting yet, turned around and looked incredibly hurt by the accusation.

Isaac and Jackson tensed up and flanked Derek, both looking equally done with Scott’s shit.

Stiles set down the pancake plate on the deck railing while his hands turned to grip the oven mit almost too hard.

“What the fuck are you on about?” Stiles asked.

“Last night, I heard you guys talking,” Scott started, “about how Derek hurt you bad enough you needed time to heal.”

“Excuse me?!” John yelled.

“You were listening to us?!” Stiles asked, his anger only doubled with this knowledge.

Scott rolled his eyes, “that’s what you get from that? What about the part where Derek is abusing—”

“Say that one more time Scott,” Derek bit out, “and you will not spend another minute on my property.”

Scott paused and in the next moment his brown eyes shifted red and his growl made every hair on Stiles’ neck stand up. Lisa who’d been very confused this whole time shrunk in her seat with a small gasp.

Fuck.

“I’m not going to stand here and let you and do this to my best friend,” Scott said, “tell me. Have you gotten physical with him? Hurt him?”

Stiles tensed up and looked to Derek who shut down, he knew he couldn’t lie to Scott and silence equaled the same answer. His father started to move for Derek, he was so clearly enraged at this fact; however, Scott moved too quick and got to Derek first.

The beta countered the lunge, and instead of of them colliding with the table Derek redirected the force and sent the two of them off the edge of the deck. The railing collapsed and the plate of pancakes flew through the air before it landed all over the grass below.

“Holy shit!” Stiles gasped and started for the stairs, but his father’s hand grabbed his arm and yanked him back.

Isaac and Jackson shifted with twin snarls before they jumped down to separate the two. Scott had his claws buried deep into Derek’s shoulder, too close to Derek’s neck for comfort. It was clear the Alpha was fueled on anger and went for lethal strikes while Derek did his best to play the defensive and keep himself alive.

“Stiles does he really...um…” Kira started but trailed off.

“No,” Stiles snapped and yanked himself away from his father’s grip, “Derek would never abuse me, fuck he wouldn’t abuse anybody!”

His father took a step back and his face softened, obviously Stiles’ sincerity was enough to tell his father that Scott’s vile accusation was false. With that he rushed down the steps and out into the yard.

There was a lot of blood and a lot of snapping and snarling. Isaac did his best to keep Scott back while Jackson pulled Derek away. Stiles rushed to Derek’s side; there were deep gashes, his nose was quickly healing from it’s broken state, and scratches from the broken wood railings had cut up his shirt and face.

Stiles saw red.

He turned on his heel and watched Scott shove Isaac away.

Scott !” Stiles screamed, his body was shaking.

The Alpha faltered and it was enough time for Stiles to get a word in.

“You have no right to come into this home and try and pick fights about something you don’t understand—” Stiles snarled.

Scott growled through his bared fangs, “I understand that he hurt you, that whatever he’s done has kept you here and away from us back home!”

“Scott this is my home,” Stiles said brokenly.

“No it’s not,” Scott huffed, visually irritated, “your home is Beacon Hills, it’s at college with me, with your dad. Derek screwed up his chance at a family, he can’t take mine away. You’re my family Stiles, not his.”

Silence. Dead silence.

The words shake Stiles to the core, and he could only imagine how Derek felt. Nobody moved, or spoke, hell nobody dared to breathe. Footsteps, soft and almost timid, start to walk and Stiles watched as Derek limped passed to stand in front of Scott. Derek looked gutted, he was pale and shaky.

Scott, who seemed a bit shy now despite his bold words, stood his ground.

“Get the hell out of my house,” Derek whispered with such authority it was haunting.

Nobody did anything to stop Derek as he made his way to the tree line with no hesitation and vanished within the greenery. Stiles’ lips puckered from the million and one things that ran through his mind, that he wanted to scream at Scott. Instead he looked around; Lisa was shaking as his father and Lydia tried to calm her down and explain everything, bits of pancakes and broken house were littered on the grass, Melissa was fuming as she reprimanded her son.

Stiles looked back at Scott who had the audacity to look at him with sad eyes.

“I haven’t been your family for a long time,” Stiles told him bitterly, “you’ve barely been a friend to me….just get out of here Scott.”

“Stiles—” Scott tried.

Jackson growled and put himself between him and Scott. Stiles patted his shoulder before he walked in the same direction as Derek. He had an idea of where he’d find the man, the same rocky river area he went to when he had the bad Skype call. It’s been more or less their space to go when they need quiet. It was like this itch under his skin that burned, he had to make sure Derek was okay.

The soft quiet the woods provided allowed Stiles to focus on the familiar path, he knew exactly where to put his feet so he wouldn’t trip. As soon as he could hear the rushing water he could hear the loud sobs that echoed down stream. Stiles felt his heart break, the poor organ split into two as he picked up the pace.

He broke the tree line into the small clearing only to see Derek hunched over the water on his knees, hands violently scrubbing the blood off his skin. The man’s breathing came in short sharp inhales only to exhale in tiny hiccups. Stiles rushed forward and collapsed next to Derek.

The tension in the wolf’s shoulders fell as he slumped to the side. Stiles sat back and let Derek fall against his chest. His shirt dampened with blood and tears, but he couldn’t care less considering the state Derek was in.

“Breathe with me,” Stiles muttered, and purposely took deeper breaths for Derek to follow.

It took a while but eventually Derek was brought back to an occasional hiccup or wheeze, but for the most part the sobbing had died down. Stiles rocked them back and forth as he ran his hand through Derek’s hair a few times. They sat like that and relished the touch without heavy words, neither of them seemed to be ready for it quite yet.

However, so much needed to be said, and Stiles wasn’t patient.

“I’m so sorry,” Stiles said hoarsely, “I’m so fucking sorry Derek.”

Derek sunk further into the hold with a whine, “‘s all my fault.”

“No it isn’t. It was never your fault.”

“I trusted her.”

“She manipulated you.”

“I got them all killed.”

“She killed them.”

“Erica and Boyd too….I got them killed.”

“That was Deucalion and Kali.”

Derek looked up, his eyes were bloodshot, “he’s right….I lost my chances at a family.”

Stiles felt his jaw drop, disbelief ran through him like a tsunami, “who am I? What about Cora? Isaac? Jackson? Lisa? Even little Jake?”

Derek opened his mouth but quickly shut it.

“We are your family,” Stiles tells him firmly, “we are your pack.

“I’m not an Alpha,” Derek reminded him.

Stiles rolled his eyes as he rested his forehead against Derek’s, tears of his own threatened to fall down his cheeks, “it doesn’t matter. You are—you’re so strong, so kind, so brave. The world keeps pushing you down and you finally have something good here in Sloane. Don’t let Scott ruin it, please Derek, you deserve to be happy. To have us.”

Derek inhaled sharply and Stiles could tell Derek didn’t believe it.

“Say it,” Stiles said and craned his neck back, his hands moved up to cup Derek’s cheeks, “tell yourself you deserve this.”

“I don’t—”

“Bullshit! You do Derek.”

A beat passed before Derek spoke again, his voice wavering and soft.

“I deserve this.”

“Deserve what?”

Derek hesitated, “I deserve my family.”

Stiles nodded at him to keep going.

“I….I deserve my home, Sloane, you and the other betas, my sister,” Derek listed robotically.

They were getting closer.

“And what are you not responsible for?” Stiles asks.

Derek whined again, “but I am. I told her about my family and about the house. I gave Erica and Boyd the bite. I got all of them killed.”

“None of those deaths were your fault.”

“Boyd’s blood is on my hands,” Derek reminded him.

Stiles paused and sighed, “true, but Boyd knew it wasn’t your fault. It was you against three Alphas.”

Derek shuttered at the memory and his head fell back against Stiles’ chest. He didn’t want to push Derek further, not with what had just happened, so he sat there and let himself be the comfort Derek needed.

The summer sun was slow to rise in the sky, but by the time Derek spoke up it felt like midday.

“I didn’t kill them,” Derek muttered.

Stiles stilled and held onto Derek tighter.

“You didn’t kill them,” he agreed.

Derek sat up, and after a moment lifted his head sharply as if he had gone into shock. Stiles leaned in and put a hand on Derek’s shoulder. Slowly Derek turned his head, his eyes flickered up to meet Stiles’. He felt as if the wind had been knocked out of his body, it was clear both of them were shocked by the change.

Stiles blinked, dumbfounded as red eyes bore into his.

Chapter Text

It didn’t feel like the power he held after he slashed Peter’s throat open.

There wasn’t the undertone of aggression and bitter sorrow that came with the tainted Hale power. This was his own power and as it burned inside of him it felt pure and clean. His irises were heavy with the shift as he looked at Stiles in shock. The man beside him was clearly just as overwhelmed with the development.

“Der,” Stiles breathed.

Derek blinked and let his eyes fade back to their human color and smirked, “I’m the Alpha now.”

He watched as Stiles barked out a deep laugh so intense his body shook with it. A moment later he had an arm full of Stiles. He held onto the younger man tightly and hid his face in his neck. Derek felt the pack ties strengthen; he could even feel Lisa if he focused hard enough which was a huge relief. The poor woman’s first experience with werewolves was through violence, but this gave him hope she’d stick around.

Or if not for him at least for Isaac.

“I’m so proud of you,” Stiles said and broke the silence.

Derek craned his head back to get a better look of the guy in his lap, and it felt like his heart was four sizes too big for his chest. He couldn’t find the words to respond but like usual Stiles beat him to the punch.

“Words are hard, I know big guy,” Stiles said, “but I get it. I get you.”

“Thank you,” Derek muttered.

Eventually they stood up and started to head back towards the house. The whole walk, as brisk as it was, they held onto each other. The need for contact after everything that transpired was near insatiable for both of them. Derek kept silent the whole way there and when they broke the treeline he did his best to ignore Scott’s lingering scent.

The mix of veterinary chemicals, electricity, and name brand laundry made him want to retch up the little food he had in his stomach.

It wasn’t my fault. I have another chance at family .

He kept that mantra in his head as he and Stiles walked up the stairs. The pancakes had been picked up and someone collected all the wood debris and it in a neat pile. It made him rather upset, those hand railings took him a few months to complete from start to finish. The fact they were obliterated in five seconds was saddening.

He wasn’t halfway through the backdoor when he heard the rush of footsteps come from the living room. On instinct he knew it’s Jackson and Isaac and it made his chest tighten in both hope and fear. There was nothing he wanted more than for the two Betas to accept him as their Alpha, but there was a very real possibility that they could reject him.

The thought made him whimper.

What he wasn’t prepared for was Jackson and Isaac to all but tackle him. Derek had to let go of Stiles so he could catch them both. The two had their faces in his neck their arms fighting to both wrap around him comfortably. Derek breathed in deep and let his hand cup their necks as a way of scent marking them. A deep growl vibrates from the center of his chest and the two Betas return it.

“Gmggnhdms,” Jackson mumbled but it was too muddled for Derek to make out.

Isaac translated and used one of his arms to grab Stiles by the shirt and yank him in. Derek moved a bit so Stiles was wedged in the massive hug. It reminded him of his siblings when they’d gather close for comfort, it made him want to pile on the couch and appreciate the closeness.

“How?” Isaac asked, his voice timid.

Derek swallowed the lump in his throat, “I um, I forgave myself for some things.”

His tone was enough to let the Betas know not to press on the subject, to just appreciate that they were no longer Omegas fumbling hopelessly on their own. He could lead them, protect them, and most of all cherish them.

They separate after a moment and Derek could feel the bonds strengthen between the four of them. This was his pack, and these were his Betas and his Second. It made him feel more complete than he’s felt over the past ten years since the fire.

“So what happened while we were gone?” He asked.

“I drove Scott, Melissa, and Kira to the bed and breakfast. They’re staying there and John and Lydia stay here for the night. The next available flight doesn’t come until tomorrow,” Isaac spoke first.

Jackson nodded his head back towards the living room, “John and Lydia are with Lisa right now. She’s been in shock.”

“Shit,” Stiles muttered and pulled at his hair.

Derek bristled with that information, “define shock.”

“Well she won’t look at either of us,” Isaac said bitterly while he gestured between himself and Jackson.

He focused on the living room, on Lisa in particular. Her heart rate was relatively calm but it was clear the scent of anxiety and hurt came from her. It was an odd mix of emotions, the least he expected was fear of some sort. Derek looked at the three in front of him and motioned for them to follow him into the living room. John and Lydia were settled on the couch opposite of Lisa who looked incredibly small within the massive cushions.

Her eyes were bloodshot and her alabaster cheeks had tear stains on them.

Lydia looked back at them, “glad you’re back.”

Derek nodded at the banshee before he returned his attention to Lisa. Her glasses obstruct her gaze but Derek was pretty sure she wouldn’t look at him anyway. For a moment he made sure he mentally went through all his options before he approached her. He sat on the coffee table in front of her having decided that up front might be the way to go.

“I’m sorry you had to find out this way,” Derek said off the bat, it wasn’t his intention to let her in on the secret so abruptly.

Lisa doesn’t look up but she does fiddle with the tiny rings on her fingers.

“Did John and Lydia fill you in?”

She managed a small nod.

“So then you know that Jackson, Isaac, and I are werewolves,” Derek continued, “but you’ve known us for a year now. What you saw today was the first time in a long time we needed to get violent like that, and it was to protect myself and the safety of others around me.”

“That’s the thing!” Lisa screamed and finally looked up, a fresh round of tears spilled from her eyes.

Derek flinched back from the outburst and he could tell it had taken everyone else off guard as well.

“A whole year,” Lisa explained, her lower lip wavering, “and you guys have become my family. I’m here all the time, you guys use my shopping discount, I am in charge of the remote on Sunday mornings….and you guys never told me.”

Hurt and anger made Derek’s nose burn. This information made his mood sour further, they should’ve told her sooner.

“There are hunters, people who want to kill us,” Jackson pointed out, “we haven’t had the best experience telling people our secret.”

“So a year of friendship means nothing then? Don’t you think if I wanted to kill you I would’ve done it already?” Lisa asks.

Derek clears his throat, “the woman who killed my family plotted it for years.”

The room went tense and Stiles’ sigh told him that probably wasn’t the best thing to say.

“We never assumed you were a hunter,” he continues, “we just wanted to be careful now that we’re starting roots again. It was never because we didn’t trust you Lisa, because we— I trust you.”

The woman bit her lip and sat silently in thought. It felt like everyone collectively held their breaths for her next answer. Lisa finally shook her head and looked up for a moment as if the ceiling would somehow give her an answer to her internal struggle.

“I want to know everything,” Lisa stated firmly, “no more lies. No more secrets.”

Isaac let out a breath of relief and Derek found himself beyond excited that Lisa wanted to be a part of the pack. At the very least she’s in the know, which was better than not even trying at all with them.

“Well that would be my job,” Stiles said, “I have been the research and Beastiary jockey since the start of all this.”

“Don’t you mean beasti—”

“No! Not beastiality! Beastiary, an index of supernatural creatures!” Stiles corrected.

Derek snorted because it was probably the fiftieth time someone has tried to correct them on it. Lydia let out a small laugh of amusement by the whole situation; that combined with the truth in the room everyone relaxed a little bit.

“Can I see?” Lisa asked after a moment.

“You mean our shift?” Isaac asked and the mousy girl nodded.

Derek took a deep breath and let his features morph into their lupine state. He opened his eyes to see Isaac and Jackson also in their Beta shift and it was in that moment Derek realized all three of them now carried different eye colors. Isaac still had gold eyes, Jackson’s were blue, and his own were now red.

Lisa let out a shaky breath.

“I’m still not used to it,” John sighed.

Stiles laughed, “really? Almost three years in?”

The older Stilinski rolled his eyes and Derek could see where Stiles gets some of his habits from. Derek turned back to Lisa who openly stared at the three of them, it was obvious she was still processing, but there was no fear from her.

“So what does this mean? It’s clear that I have to keep this a secret,” she asked.

Derek let himself shift back and he looked at her seriously, “the secret is important, but there are two options for you. You can know and stay independent or you can join my pack.”

“Your pack?”

“My eyes, their red color, it means I’m the Alpha. I lead the pack….Isaac, Jackson, and Stiles. You can join if you want or not. Take your time, it’s a big decision,” Derek told her with a soft tone, he wanted to make sure she felt like she had an option.

Lisa bit her lip, “I’ll think about it.”

“Okay,” Derek nodded and smiled at her before he stood up, “um, does anyone want a redo on breakfast?”

“Please I’m starving,” Jackson whined.

“Jackson saying please, wow,” Stiles teased.

“Don’t push it,” Jackson said.

Stiles raised his eyebrows, “what are you gonna do— agh !”

Jackson hooked his arm around Stiles’ neck and violently rubbed his knuckles over Stiles’ hair which had the man flailing and calling uncle. Derek sighed and looked back to Lisa, “welcome to pack life.”

⌽⌽⌽

Derek parked the car and sat in the driver’s seat for a moment, his thoughts whirled around in his head as he reflected on the day’s events. There had been a tearful goodbye that made his chest ache as John and Stiles bid their farewells. Jackson and Lydia did this awkward silent thing and hugged fiercely when they thought nobody had been looking.

The drive to the airport had been comfortable even without Stiles, who spent the day educating Lisa on everything she wanted to know. John had continued to give him bits of protective fatherly advice and Lydia commented on her wanting to visiting more.

He was going to miss them.

Now that he was back he felt worn out and exhausted from everything. Going from Omega to an Alpha with an established pack took a lot out of him; he felt raw and exposed with this new power. He wasn’t used to the purity it held and it had been a while since he led anybody with such authority.

Derek needed to relax.

He got out of the car and made his way up to the house, his keys rattled the lock for a moment until the gear mechanism within clicked and he was able to get inside. Chatter from the kitchen led him and he found Lisa and Stiles at the kitchen table with Isaac. On the laptop a Beastiary page was pulled up, lore on Travelers was translated from archaic latin. Isaac flipped through a few old books that were probably older than all their ages combined.

Jackson was at the stove making something that smelled like pungent health food.

“—so they can just travel through this hypothetical multiverse?” Lisa asked as her petite finger pushed up her glasses.

“In theory, but we’ve never met a Traveler so maybe this information is wrong,” Stiles said, paused and looked in Derek’s direction.

His face must’ve given something away because the next thing he knew he was being pulled into the study with the doors closed behind them. Derek sat his phone, wallet, and keys on the desk before he leaned against the sturdy furniture with his hip.

“You’re all scowl-y.”

Derek gave Stiles a flat look, “I’m not.”

“Yes you are, you’re scowling Derek,” Stiles insisted and broke into Derek’s personal space, “talk to me.”

“I’m just overloaded,” Derek started, not used to letting his emotions out this easily, but he did anyways, “I’m anxious and overwhelmed….”

Derek leaned in when Stiles’ hand cupped his cheek. It was a firm touch. It grounded him a little more and put his mind somewhat at ease. A lump had risen in his throat after his words and it was almost painful to swallow around it. He hated the heaviness in his chest and suddenly the floorboards were very interesting to look at.

Derek ,” Stiles whispered.

Derek looked up with watery eyes.

“Jesus...come’ere,” Stiles huffed and opened his arms for Derek to fall into.

Once within the hold Derek felt the weight of the world slide off his shoulders; the ability to breathe came back to him. He buried his head into the crook of Stiles’ neck and inhaled the spicy sweet cinnamon scent with the undertone of ozone that was probably never going to go away. It made him feel comforted and safe.

“I don’t want to fail again,” Derek croaked out, his fingers wound into the material of Stiles’ flannel, “I can’t let you guys down….I just wish I could be like her.

“Like who?”

“Like my mother, a good Alpha.”

A heavy sigh came from the younger man and lithe hands ran up and down his back in lazy strokes. The study was silent for a while, the only communication was touch but they were both fluent by this point. Time felt slow and didn’t constrict their moment in the slightest, and it felt right when Stiles pulled back.

“I wish you could see what I see, what the others see,” Stiles frowned, “because it is anything but a failure.”

This pulled any sort of half baked protest right out of Derek’s mouth, because what was he supposed to say to that? It pulled his heart in six different direction and made his legs feel a little wobbly. Words have never and will never be his thing, so instead he grabbed Stiles’ hand and led them out of the study with no explanation.

As they walked towards the back door he could feel the anxiety roll from the three others.

“Is everything okay?” Isaac asked while he nervously fidgeted in his chair.

Derek nodded, “it’s been a long day, I just need a bit to adjust.”

“We can start on dinner then,” Lisa piped up with her now reddened cheeks, “I mean...for when you get back. Less to stress about.”

“Thank you Lisa,” Stiles said with a warm smile before he tugged on Derek’s hand to prompt him to keep moving. Derek nodded to the three betas at the kitchen table before they exited the house. The sun was still high in the sky, it would be another hour before it fell past the horizon. He looked out from the deck to the perimeter to lush green trees that rustled in the summer breeze.

Without much thought he stepped out of sight of the dining room and stipped of his clothing.

“Um—?”

“I need to shift, if that’s okay?” Derek said in an unsure voice.

Stiles put his hands up, “of course. Do what you need to do.”

With the permission granted he continued until he was free of clothing, and he silently noted how red Stiles went. Derek barely fought the urge to smirk and countered it with the focus needed to full shift. This time when he called forward his wolf the shift felt different, but then again he’s never full shifted as an Alpha before. His very bones felt bulkier and his stature felt more broad, but it felt right.

By the time he was on all fours he was going through a sensory overload. Everything was amplified in this state, but as an Alpha it was a little too much. He whined and curled in a bit as he adjusted to the surroundings; to every sound, to every sight, and to every sound until he felt confident he was under control.

“Wow...you’re huge,” Stiles gasped.

Derek quirked his head at Stiles who sputtered and flushed even deeper.

“I mean—no, I mean as an Alpha you’re a lot bigger when you full shift.”

He huffed and walked over only to press his snout against Stiles’ hand. The fur along his neck and head were thoroughly ruffled for a few minutes until Stiles got bored with the repetitive motion. Derek walked down the steps and onto the lawn, only to relish the soft blades of grass that cushioned his paws.

After a moment of contemplating he leaned his head down and wagged his tail.

“What?” Stiles asked.

Derek did his best to roll his eyes in this form before he approached Stiles and bumped his legs before he leaned down again.

“You want me to get on?! I refuse to be the Bella Swan to your Jacob—”

Derek let out a deep growl at the bullshit Twilight reference.

“I’m heavy! What if I break you or something?” Stiles protested.

To that Derek shook his head with a whine and pawed at Stiles’ leg. The human bit his lip nervously; it wasn’t due to worry or fear, it was more hesitation and good natured concern. Another beat of silence passed before Stiles made a wild hand gesture that Derek interpreted as well just do it .

He leaned forward on his front legs enough for Stiles to swing his leg over. When Derek stood Stiels yelped and fell forward only to have his face smack against Derek’s neck. His laughter sounded like a weird grumble in this form, but by the flick to the ear he received it was clear Stiles understood the sound. As he started to walk, Stiles’ hands held onto the fur around his neck like a vice, but if that is what made him feel safe Derek wouldn’t stop him.

A little past the tree line is when he gained some speed, but he decided against going full speed mostly because Stiles would probably fall off. Still the speed increase made Stiles inhale sharply but his scent was practically oozing excitement and joy. Derek yipped and did a slight hop over a protruding root. This made Derek think of Stiles had he wanted to be a wolf, both of them would be side by side as they ran through the forest fueled by instinct.

He’d never require that of Stiles, and this was a perfect alternative.

Derek pushed a little faster as he followed the familiar trail to his private sanctuary he’d found on his first month here. His property included a small mountain like area that offered an overlook to the vastness that was the surrounding natural landscape as well as the small speck that was Sloane. He slowed down when they reached the spot and he waited until Stiles was not holding on for dear life before he bent down to let him off.

“Shit!” Stiles laughed when he proved to be wobbly on his own two feet.

Derek made another attempt at a laugh before he bypassed Stiles and sat near the overlook. He was not alone for long and eventually Stiles was pressed against his side. He glanced to the human beside him, the vibrancy of the sunset made his eyes almost glow golden. Stiles was so unbelievably beautiful...kind and smart... everything .

After a moment he curled up close and let his head rest on Stiles’ thigh.

“So cuddly,” Stiles murmured in an awestruck voice.

Derek let out a soft pur in response.

Sloane had done them so much good, and Derek was very thankful he didn’t take the right exit a year ago. He would have had none of this had he kept going. The thought of never having this home and this family physically pained him. He nuzzled in impossibly closer to Stiles and forced those dark thoughts out of his mind.

In front of him the falling sun painted the sky a mess of pinks, oranges, and purples. Trees around them rustled with the fading breeze that provided soft background noise that quelled what would’ve been unsettling silence.

“I don’t feel it anymore,” Stiles said out of the blue.

Derek raised his head and craned it back to look at Stiles.

“Sometimes it creeps up in the back of my mind,” he continued, “the nightmares, the memories, how good it felt to create all that chaos….but being here with you has taken that all away. You have this ability to help people Derek. You helped Scott when he was first bitten even if he was and is the world's biggest asshole to grace this planet. You helped the betas, you gave them a family. You got your sister out of Beacon Hills and to a place she can call home. You’ve created this place….our home….”

Stiles trailed off and smiled bright and beautiful. Derek sat up a little more so he fully faced the man in front of him.

“That is what Alphas do. You help everyone unconditionally, you trust and put faith in people—”

Derek squirmed a little, because he really couldn’t tell if he was just stupidly overwhelmed or going into cardiac arrest.

“—hey, no,” Stiles said and used a hand to hold Derek’s face so they made eye contact, “I really do mean all of this….I mean it because I love you.”

Ice water had been dumped on him at the same time butterflies exploded in his stomach. Unlike any other time in his life words begged to fall from his mouth and it was just his luck that he was in a form in which he couldn’t even speak. Derek ignored the squawk from Stiles as he shifted back into his bare human state.

“I wouldn’t be all those things if it weren’t for people like you,” Derek explained softly, “the betas, Cora, you ; you’ve all brought out the best in me. I guess it was a part of me I’ve never really seen and there are still things you tell me I just can’t wrap my head around yet.”

Stiles shook his head, “and you don’t ever have to if you don’t want to.”

He couldn't remember the last time he grinned this wide. 

“I love you too,” Derek said.

Chapter Text

“Your mouth— fuck, ” Derek panted.

Stiles was on his knees in front of Derek. It was obscene; the way those amber eyes looked up at him through thick lashes, and how those plush spit slick lips stretched around his cock. It made his skin sizzle and burn with the heat of arousal. One hand was gripping the countertop while the other was tangled in Stiles’ hair.

It shocked the hell out of Derek when Stiles attempted to take more of him in. The sensation of his head hitting the searing hot back of Stiles’ throat was heavenly, but for Stiles is was clearly too much by the way he flinched back to prevent himself from gagging. Unsurprisingly it doesn’t deter Stiles, because it would be unlike him to step down from a challenge.

Derek inhaled sharply when Stiles started to use his tongue in short kitten like licks while his hands went to work. The scorching heat of his tongue paired with the tenacious curiosity of his hands had Derek spiraling towards an orgasm. His stomach tightened and he felt himself tense up, and thankfully it was just as an effective warning as words.

Stiles did his best to stay put, and to swallow what he could but a lot of it fell from the corner of his mouth and dribbled down to the bathroom floor.

The younger man pulled off with filthy pop. A string of spit connected them for a split second before Stiles’ hand came up and broke it.

“You sure you’ve never….?” Derek started.

Stiles flushed with a hoarse chuckle, “I’m pretty sure I’ve never done that before.”

“I wouldn’t have guessed,” he said playfully as he loosened his grip on Stiles’ hair.

He held out his hand for Stiles to take and helped him up. Derek leaned back and grabbed a spare roll of toilet paper from the cabinet. He tore off a bit of it and Stiles took it and wiped his mouth. With the spare moment he took the opportunity to tuck himself back into his pants and shove his shirt back down.

The bathroom was thick with the smell of sex, it was almost enough to make Derek lightheaded. However, he couldn’t help but enjoy the intermingling of their scents, especially in such an intimate way.

Derek looped his hands through Stiles’ belt loops and attempted to pull the younger man closer. He wrapped his arms around Stiles and ducked his head down. Stiles met him in the middle as their lips met, the sweet thing quickly morphed into something much dirtier, it was obvious the residual heat of the moment still ran through them. He trailed his touch down and squeezed Stiles’ ass.

It pulled a rather high pitched squeak from Stiles.

He couldn’t help but pull back and chuckle at the noise.

“You’re a dick, you know that?” Stiles asked.

“Well I know you happen to like me, dick and all so,” Derek trailed off.

Stiles’ eyebrows rose and it was clear that he was trying hard not to laugh, “Sourwolf’s got jokes now?”

“I’ve always had jokes.”

“Oh my god, you’re….you’re so good,” Stiles laughed and hid his face in Derek’s neck.

Derek smiled wide and rocked them back and forth for a moment, and they both went silent and enjoyed the contact. After a while they cleaned up the bathroom and themselves, because while Isaac would be decent enough not to comment on the scent, Jackson will taunt them relentlessly.

That was the last thing they needed.

After a while he found himself in his office working on a few menial tasks; paying some bills, looking at news, some other things as well. He could hear Stiles talking to his father on the phone from the living room. With the three other Betas out of the house it was eerily quiet.

He was getting used to the loudness of pack again.

Derek had scrolled past a few news articles when a particular ad drew his attention. It was an obvious scam, but it was about college tuition. His brain went seven different directions; it even went as far to cause him to glance at his diploma that hung on the wall. The most consuming thought fell back to Stiles.

While Derek knows he can’t force Stiles to get a higher education, he knows that Stiles will regret not attempting to. He is way too smart not to try.

He grabbed his phone and sent a text to Stiles.

 

Outgoing - Derek Hale, 12:34 PM

<Can you come up to the office when you have a minute?

 

Incoming - Stiles Stilinski, 12:35 PM

>We’re in the same house, why are we texting?

 

Outgoing - Derek Hale, 12:35 PM

<It’s a big house?

 

Derek didn’t receive a reply, but he did hear shuffling from downstairs followed by socked footsteps scaling the stairs. He looked up when Stiles entered the room with a smile on his face.

“You’re in a mood today,” Stiles said while he walked over and sat on the desk, “lots of jokes.”

“I used to be the funny one in my family,” Derek informed.

“I don’t doubt that….anyways, what did you bring me up here for?” Stiles asked.

Derek clicked open a new tab on his computer and typed in his desired search before he angled the screen and showed it to Stiles. Stiles’ eyebrows drew in as he glanced at the screen, obviously a bit surprised at the suddenness of the topic.

“I know you haven’t mentioned it, and this is just a suggestion but maybe you should apply,” Derek said and opened Google Maps which he finally figured out how to use, “and it’s only a forty minute drive to campus, just north of us if you take highway 82.”

Stiles is silent for a minute before he cleared his throat, “the thought is sweet Derek, but….look I can’t really afford tuition anyways and I’ve been kind of looking for work in town—”

“I can pay—no I want to pay,” Derek interjected, “despite the sudden move to New York I still finished high school and college. I didn’t necessarily want to, but I did and I would have regretted it if I hadn’t.”

“I can’t just ask you to pay for college for me,” Stiles fought.

“You didn’t ask, I am offering,” Derek corrected.

It makes the younger man clam up, even his eyes drifted down to the floor. Derek felt himself sour a bit. Instead of shutting down too he moved closer and reached out until he held both of Stiles’ hands and waited until Stiles was ready to look back up. He didn’t say anything, because at the end of the day this wasn’t his choice.

“For a long time I’ve told myself I wanted to be a PI or a cop, ya know? I thought I wanted to follow my dad’s footsteps,” Stiles said.

“But….?” Derek prompted.

“But I’ve been thinking maybe not,” Stiles started, “I’ve had more than enough terrifying life and death situations to last three lifetimes. I’d probably get shot somewhere stupid like my toe or something anyways.”

Derek frowned, “so what do you want to do?”

“Before my mom got sick she was a teacher. She taught fifth grade,” Stiles said.

The sudden mention of his mother made his heart rate spike. The familiar smell of ozone and sour apples radiated off Stiles and burned Derek’s nose. Behind that though was a warmer scent, one Derek sensed as positive, almost reflective.

“A cop. A teacher. Anything you want to study, I’ll make it happen Stiles. If college isn’t for you then you can stop anytime….but at least try,” Derek said and gave Stiles’ hands a squeeze.

Stiles bit his lip, “are you sure?”

Derek couldn’t keep the small smirk off his face as he nodded, “I’m one hundred percent sure.”

“You’re too much,” Stiles sighed as the tension that flooded his shoulders faded.

“I’m doing this because I love you, you idiot,” Derek deadpanned.

“There’s my Sourwolf,” Stiles laughed and leaned down so they were closer.

Derek found himself admiring the slight scruff that lined Stiles’ cheeks and upper lip and the smattering of moles. His eyes flickered up to meet Stiles’ and while their color was always enticing, the look of gratitude and admiration hit him like a punch to the chest.

“Thank you,” Stiles whispered.

They shared a soft intimate kiss, not one of anger or heated passion. This one was tender and meaningful, all of the sappy rom-com shit Laura used to subject him to all in one. That was this kiss.

When they parted Derek felt oddly floaty, almost as if the air in his body had been replaced with helium. Stiles’ head and neck were a deep shade of red and Derek couldn’t help but question if he looked the same.

“I guess I should start working on my application then?” Stiles asked.

“You’d be applying to start in the spring term, since it’s already summer, but yeah probably,” Derek nodded, “but it doesn’t have to be right now obviously.”

“No, I was very much planning on going back to finish my show….if you wanted to come with I’m sure we could cuddle up on the couch?” Stiles offered.

“I definitely want to come with,” Derek said and let Stiles pull him onto his feet and lead him to the living room. They ended up on the couch, one of the good fuzzy blankets draped over them, with the soft voice of Mary Berry telling them all about the logistics of Charlotte Royale.

⌽⌽⌽

Derek hated airports.

They smelled like a thousand too many scents. Too many sounds echoed off the walls. Everything was too brightly lit. For a werewolf the only way it could get worse was to actually take a plane. The only time Derek had flown was out to New York and the mere memory of breathing in recycled air was enough to make him want to vomit.

Derek !”

He felt himself pivot into the direction of his name. Under the baggage claim sign stood Cora with a blinding grin on her face. She was tanner than the last time he saw her, her hair was chopped off to just above her shoulders, she looked happy. Derek met her in the middle and pulled her into a tight hug, picking her up off the ground for a moment.

“I need to breathe,” Cora wheezed and tapped his shoulder.

Derek put her back on her feet, “sorry...I just missed you.”

“I missed you too,” she said, paused, and continued with, “it’s weird to feel you as an Alpha again.”

“It’s weirder to be one again,” he said.

The younger Hale rolled her eyes, “duh.”

He shoved her shoulder lightly, she was still the same old Cora. They made their way to terminal parking and made the drive back to Sloane. They talked privately because the second they got back to the house nothing would be kept quiet. He learned about how the Johnstons had been; the twins give him their wishes. According to Cora the two still fawn over him which Derek can’t help but find amusing. Derek told her about the McCall visit, but kept it abbreviated because it was still a bit sensitive.

“This town is really nice,” Cora noted as they drove down the main street in Sloane.

“I love it here,” Derek agreed, “just wait until you see the house.”

The road to the house was still getting used to the constant use; a year ago Monty would only drive through every six months or so. Now the trail like road is getting permanent tire indentations that would allow for a smoother ride. He followed the trail and the wide left turn that lead to the property, and he was rather smug at the look of awe that crossed Cora’s face when they approached.

She was silent until he parked the car, “it reminds me so much of our old house.”

Derek felt his throat constrict, “yeah….but I’ve made it my own. A safe place.”

“Of course,” Cora agreed, “but I am dying to get inside, I’ve been sitting for way too long.”

They exit the car and Derek picked up on the off-tune singing from the kitchen as well as the faint scent of potatoes.

“He’s a terrible singer,” Cora said and grabbed her suitcase from the trunk.

“He’s not that bad.”

“Aww, defending your boyfriend Der?”

Derek rolled his eyes and opened the front door, allowing her entry first before he followed her inside. The air conditioning felt great against his skin but that potato scent intensified as well. Confused, he walked down the hall and into the kitchen. Stiles was at the stove, a plate beside him was stacked high with what looked to be fried potatoes.

Isaac, Lisa, and Jackson were sitting at the island bar stools in comfortable conversation. The four of them turned in warm greetings.

“Cora!” Isaac beamed and got up to greet her properly.

Jackson followed, “good to see you.”

“I’d give you a hug but I’m too busy— ow , fucking oil! Stop spitting!” Stiles gasped and waved his set of tongs in the air.

Derek watched Lisa get up and walk over, the small brunette held out her hand, “hi. I’m Lisa.”

“Cora,” Cora introduced and shook her hand, “Isaac has told me a lot about you.”

Lisa gawked and blushed before looking at Isaac to confirm. The curly haired Beta awkwardly nodded and shrugged, “you’re worth talking about.”

“I better be,” Lisa said and calmed down a bit, “nice to meet you Cora.”

“You as well,” Cora nodded before looking past them, “nice to see you too Stiles.”

Stiles glanced back, “after I force feed you a shit ton of potato pancakes I’ll give you some love.”

With the promise of food Cora let herself be led to her room by Jackson and Isaac, wanting to catch up with them for a moment as well as get settled. Derek glanced to Lisa with a fond look.

“Isaac didn’t mean to embarrass you,” he told her.

Lisa nodded, “I know. I just….nobody has ever liked me enough to gush about me to someone before.”

“Well I’m glad Isaac is that somebody,” Derek said and walked to the fridge to get a glass of water. Beside him he could see how much of a deep fried mess Stiles had made, little splatters of oil and pieces of potato are everywhere. He pauses his water endeavor and moved to stand beside Stiles.

“You’re making a mess,” he pointed out and pressed his front against Stiles’ back, his arms now secured around Stiles’ waist.

“Deal with it, you’re getting food,” Stiles said while he leaned back against Derek.

Derek chuckled and let his face burrow into Stiles’ neck. The act made the younger man gasp and jerk from the touch, obviously taken back by the tickle of Derek’s breath. It spurred Derek to hold him tighter to nip and kiss at the ticklish skin. Stiles tossed his tongs onto the counter and wormed around until he faced Derek.

“You ass, I’m so ticklish,” Stiles wheezed.

“I know, therefore I’m tickling you,” Derek said.

“I retract my offer, no potato pancakes for you!”

Derek mock gasped and faked his upsetness. Stiles hands came up and cupped his face, and leaned in close to pepper soft kisses all over. It made his stomach swoop and his cheeks ache with a smile. They had almost forgotten about the others until a long sounding cooing noise echoed through the room along with a few laughs.

Derek craned his neck to look at the others with a raised look.

“You’re in a public part of the house,” Jackson reminded them.

“Really? This isn’t the bedroom?” Stiles sassed.

Before Jackson could speak up Derek interjected, “lets just eat. I’m sure Cora is starving.”

“I wasn’t going to eat that nasty airplane food,” Cora said with a fake gag to emphasize her point.

They all took turns, all of them stacked their plates high with potato pancakes. Stiles had even set out two sauces to pair with the deep fried treats; one was a creamy horseradish and the other was a spiced applesauce. He sat at the head of the table with Stiles and Cora on either side of him. Isaac was beside Cora, Lisa was at the opposite head of the table, and Jackson ended up beside Stiles.

It was something Derek thought he’d never see.

Everyone was curious about the Johnston pack, and Cora did he best to keep up with the conversation. Derek couldn’t help but notice how different she was, before she joined their pack she was rougher around the edges and less open to small talk. It was all work no play for her. Now she’s calmer, more at ease; she kept smiling.

Derek couldn’t help but remember her before the fire; she had been little at the time, and he remembered how often she’d flash a toothless smile. She would drive Laura absolutely crazy by sneaking into their eldest sibling’s room to try on her clothes. Derek used to teach her how to play basketball, but even as a werewolf she struggled to get enough power to make a basket.

Still….this Cora had hints of that happy little girl he remembers and it was so good. Most of their family was dead, except for Peter who had fucked off somewhere. It was really just him and Cora. Still he managed to reconnect with her and get her to a place where she could be happy. Derek could only hope that it made his family proud, wherever they lie.

“—Derek?”

Derek blinked a few times and snapped out of his zone to look at his sister who’d called his name.

“Huh?” He asked.

“You okay? You’ve been staring at nothing for a while,” Isaac said with a sheepish look.

“I was just thinking, I’m fine. Sorry,” Derek said and made sure he put out a soothing vibe towards Isaac. The Beta’s tension lessened and he let out a small sigh of relief.

Stiles’ hand covered his in a silent squeeze that said a million words.

Derek let a small smile cross his face as they picked up conversation once again.

⌽⌽⌽

“I want to move in.”

Derek paused on his work in the garden and looked up, squinting against the bright late summer sun. Lisa stood in front of him; she was in light denim shorts and a brightly patterned oversized shirt. The heat was scorching today so her usually long poofy hair was thrown up, if anything it made her look much smaller than usual.

He tossed the weeds in his hand into the compost bucket and wiped dirty his hands on his shorts before he stood up.

“I just—,” she started before he could answer, “I really like it here, it’s calm and pretty. I also like all of you guys too, obviously. The whole werewolf thing isn’t going to be an issue either, Stiles has kinda taken me under his wing to explain everything….I want to move in and I want to be pack if you’ll let me.”

Derek inhaled sharply through his nose, and his eyes grew heavy as they flashed red.

Lisa didn’t flinch.

He stepped forward and pulled her into a hug. The woman’s head barely met his shoulder and her mass of hair managed to get into his mouth. Derek sputtered and jerked back which caused Lisa to laugh.

“Sorry,” he said before sobering and looking at her seriously.

“Oh god it’s a no isn’t it?” Lisa whimpered.

“What? No, Lisa of course I’d be honored to have you join my pack. Why did you think I’d say no?” Derek asked.

Lisa rolled her eyes, “well you gave me your RBF so I assumed!”

“RBF?”

“Resting bitch face,” Lisa informed him, “you’re such an old man.”

“I’m twenty-five,” Derek said.

“Old. Man.” Lisa singsonged.

Derek shook his head as his shoulders shook with amusement. This woman who gave him such a hard time at first was actually one of the best people he’d ever met. She’s both kind and strong, a bit of an asshole at times, she absolutely is head over heels for the pack—especially Isaac. Lisa will be a good Beta.

“This house is open to you as a home,” Derek said, “and I would love for you to be one of my Betas.”

Lisa grinned and gave him another hug, this time she was on her tiptoes so she could hug him properly. He squeezed her back as the pack bond between them grew. It obviously caught the woman off guard because she gasped and pulled back, her hand splayed across her chest.

“What is that ?” Lisa asked.

“Pack bond,” Derek said, “every Beta who has an Alpha can feel it. For humans less so, if you were a wolf you’d feel it a lot more.”

“I don’t have to….?”

“Of course not. The bite is a gift, I’d never force it on anybody. If you were dying and said you didn’t want the bite I wouldn’t,” Derek explained to her.

Lisa exhaled in relief, “I kind of like being human. Besides Stiles has explained to me that I can do things for the pack that supernaturals can’t. It’s useful.”

“You have no idea,” Derek agreed, his thoughts retreated to Beacon Hills and the countless times where Stiles’ humanity played to an advantage.

They talked logistics for a while; when she should get her things from her flat, the laundry schedule, things of that nature. Eventually they ended up back in the garden and Derek showed her how to properly tell the difference between a female and a male bell pepper.

Chapter Text

Stiles woke up warm and cozy, the soft down comforter was warmed by the morning sun that casted its rays though the window. With a yawn Stiles raised his arms above his body and pointed his toes as he arched his back in a long stretch.

He glanced over to see Derek still asleep; his hair was adorably sleep tousled. Without hesitation he rolled over and pressed himself close to the sleeping wolf. Derek moved as well, his strong arm had wormed its way around Stiles to trap him in an embrace. Stiles relaxed into the familiar touch and he let his head fall onto the other half of Derek’s pillow.

They stayed like that for a while, and Stiles fell in and out of a light sleep. It is well into the morning when Derek finally woke up only to grumble and hide himself in the bedding.

Stiles laughed, “morning sleepyhead.”

“G’morning,” Derek mumbled.

“Any plans for the day?” Stiles asked as his he ran his hands through Derek’s hair.

“Nothing in town,” Derek said and looked up, “you?”

Stiles shook his head, “unless it involves you and me in this bed then nope .”

“Or really?” Derek smirked.

Really ,” Stiles grinned.

“Oh,” Derek started and sat up, the sheets fell to expose his bare chest, “I forgot I have this thing—”

Stiles sat up and reached for Derek to pull him back into bed. The Alpha fell back with a huff and Stiles swung his legs around to straddle him. He leaned down and kissed Derek which proved to be a bit difficult since they were smiling and laughing. Stiles rested his forehead against Derek’s.

“Nice try,” Stiles teased, “but I mean if you really need to go do that thing, then I guess I can stay here all by myself….”

Derek growled, his hands grabbed Stiles’ hips fimly. Instead of continuing the banter Derek decided to get back to kissing, which Stiles was completely okay with. He leaned into the touches. As time passed his body felt more and more like a livewire, sensitive to the mildest things.

Stiles wanted more.

He broke away from Derek and sat up, his hands splayed on the man’s chest. Derek looked at him quizzically, his thick eyebrows raised in slight confusion. When Stiles’ fingers moved to grip the hem of his own shirt Derek’s hands quickly covered his.

“You don’t have to,” Derek said quickly, his eyes flickering to Stiles’ left shoulder.

“I want to,” Stiles said and licked at his lips, “I want to do this.”

With that Derek’s touch faded and it left Stiles free to move. He crossed his arms and pulled upwards to yank off the thin material. It left his torso exposed to the slightly chilled air which caused him to break out into goosebumps. As if like a reflex he tried to reach out for his shoulder, to hide the lines that extended, but he stopped himself.

He was with Derek.

He was safe.

He could do this.

“Can….can I see it?” Derek asked lightly.

“Um, sure,” Stiles nodded and moved to sit back on the mattress. He cleared his throat and sat with this back facing Derek. He could feel Derek move from where he’d been laying down. The thick feeling of nervousness rolled through him; lichtenberg figures, natural ones, only last a few days and in rare cases a few weeks. This? This was the physical mark the Nogitsune left him and according to Deaton and Morrell it would probably be there forever.

Stiles froze when fingers traced over the mark.

“Is this—?”

“Yeah,” he said with a shaky voice, “it’s fine.”

Derek’s touch lingered in some places while in others he traced rather quickly. The weight on the bed shifted and Derek’s lips were pressed against the middle most part of the scar. Stiles shivered and he found himself unable to decipher his emotions, but he decided they leaned towards the positive side of the spectrum.

A trail of feather light kisses ran up his shoulder, his neck, up to his jaw which Derek nipped with his human teeth. Stiles leaned into the touch and his eyes fell shut as he allowed himself sink into this feeling of security.

Derek’s mouth was right up against the shell of Stiles’ ear, “you’re gorgeous.”

Derek ,” Stiles whined, his face felt hot as it burned red.

“You are. Every scar, every mark, every freckle and mole….you’re gorgeous,” Derek continued as he rested his chin against the junction between Stiles neck and shoulder, “you’re so strong too, for carrying this mark and for showing me. So brave.”

Stiles inhaled sharply and craned his neck so he could look at Derek. His eyes stung with unshed tears, hell they were probably a bit red at this point, and his heart fluttered his chest.

“I love you,” Stiles whispered.

“I love you too.”

Stiles twisted himself around to face Derek, and this time the kiss had a depth to it that it lacked before. An urgency.

Before long Stiles was laid back against the bed with Derek on top of him. Stiles’ legs were wrapped around Derek’s waist, the need for physical contact was strong between them. Derek trailed his kisses downwards. It didn’t take long for the wolf to figure out how sensitive Stiles’ chest was considering Stiles was practically a panting mess by the time Derek finished teasing his nipples.

Stiles arched up allowing their hips to rock together. Despite the layer of clothing between them Stiles felt how aroused Derek was, and it was all for him. It made him feel wanted, and needed, and loved .

“Please,” Stiles asked but he didn’t specify.

Derek knew.

He was turned over onto his stomach with his ass in the air and his face smashed against one of the pillows. The heat of Derek’s touch left him for a moment, but it was all forgotten when the sound of a cap popping open sounded through the room. Anticipation was continuously building in his stomach like a coil wound too tight.

Stiles fumbled with his boxers for a minute, his fingers unable to get a grip on the elastic band, but eventually he pulled them down and off his legs. His cock was heavy between his legs, the hot skin cooled now that it was free of it’s confines.

“Fuck,” Derek growled.

Stiles looked over his shoulder to see the Alpha eye him hungrily, his eyes slowly made the change from green to red. The predatory gaze prompted Stiles to arch his hips up more in a silent tease. His head decides to shove itself into the pillow, his brain all but short circuiting, when Derek’s slick finger found his hole. This was an activity Stiles had done before, but these were not his fingers and it felt so damn good. The familiar yet foreign feeling made him tense for a moment before he reminded himself to relax. His skin burned hot while Derek worked him open with his fingers, the stretch and burn that followed made him whimper into the sheets beneath him.

When he attempted to get a hand around himself Derek batted it away.

“Come on Der.”

“I got you.”

Stiles whimpered and tried to protest but Derek did this thing with this fingers, and bent them the right way that had his eyes rolling back in his head and his toes curling into the sheets. Derek teased with a fourth finger for a while, and by now Stiles’ dick was dripping pre-come and he wasn’t allowed to do a thing about it.

Suddenly he was empty and unable to clench on anything. He turned over to see Derek tear open a condom and cover himself with it. One day Stiles would prep himself, allow for no condom, and it was going to be awesome. For now this would definitely make do.

He reached out with grabby hands at Derek who laughed at the gesture.

Stiles let his eyes roam over the other man. Tan skin still sun kissed from summer was coated in thick dark hair. His body, especially now as an Alpha, was for a lack of a better term, chiseled like a fine Grecian sculpture—

“Really Stiles? A Grecian sculpture?” Derek asked, obviously amused.

“Wait what?”

“You said I look like a Grecian sculpture.”

“Shit I didn’t mean to, well I mean you are but I was, um, just admiring,” Stiles choked out and felt a little embarrassed.

Derek leaned over him and shook his head, “don’t be embarrassed. Never with me.”

Stiles bit his lip and nodded, because he felt a bit too shaky to answer verbally. Instead he wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck and brought them together with a kiss. One of Derek’s hands held Stiles’ hips up while the other wrapped around his own cock and guided it forward.

It was slow and nearly torcherous, and Stiles needed a few moments every few shallow thrusts because this was still pretty new for him. Well both him and Derek really. By the time Derek’s hips were flush with Stiles’ ass he felt like he was seconds from coming.

“Okay,” he panted and ran a hand through Derek’s slightly sweaty hair, “move, you can move.”

Derek leaned forward and Stiles craned his neck up to meet him in a kiss. It was cut off when Derek started to thrust in earnest, Stiles arched up and his mouth fell open in a breathy cry. They fit together perfectly and without even trying they knew how to move with one another.

Every nerve in his body felt like a livewire. Without fail every brush of Derek’s cock against his prostate had him shaking with pleasure. Stiles had one hand clutching the pillows behind his head while the other moved to wrap around his own dick, and this time Derek let him. He didn’t pump because lube was rather important for that, but the tight hot pressure his palm provided began to propel him into an orgasm.  

“Fuck, fuck ,” Derek huffed, his breath searing against the sensitive skin of Stiles’ ear.

Stiles clenched around Derek, which was the best thing Stiles could’ve done since a pure look of ecstasy crossed the man’s face. The pace was picked up, human teeth bit at his neck, and Stiles was done.

“Holy God—fuck—” Stiles choked out and writhed as he came messily across his stomach.

Derek’s rhythm faltered and with a stuttered groan followed Stiles into climax, and emptied into the condom. The room was heavy with the smell of sex and the sound of their labored breathing. After they had their blissful postcolital moment Derek pulled out and went to throw out the condom. Stiles remained still on the bed, eyes fluttered shut, his body more like gelatin at that point.

He gasped when a hot washcloth touched his skin.

“Shh, just taking care of you,” Derek muttered.

Stiles relaxed under the attention, “hmm ‘s nice.”

Derek chuckled and lips were pressed against his forehead. The touch was gone for a minute but soon the bed dipped again and Derek was curled around him. Stiles burrowed into the warmth, his ass throbbed with the slight movement.

Stiles glanced up with heavy eyes and smiled at Derek.

“I love you,” Derek grinned sleepily.

Stiles hummed in approval as his nose brushed against Derek’s, “I love you, too.”

⌽⌽⌽

It was totally weird in the best way possible.

To walk down the main street of Sloane, hand in hand with Derek Hale, it was eye opening. Mostly because absolutely nobody was shocked, in fact when a few locals they knew stopped them to say hi they expressed happiness that the two of them felt more comfortable in town.

Mrs. Williams had been right since Thanksgiving.

The trees that lined the streets mimicked the forest around the house, their green had slowly faded into an array of yellows, oranges, and reds. Everyone was at that awkward stage in their clothing choices that consisted of something thick enough to keep you warm, but thin enough to keep you from sweating like a beefy wrestler.

“Hey guys!”

They both turned around to see Jake bound towards them. An obscenely heavy backpack rested on his shoulders, its weight hindered how fast he ran but regardless he still caught up. His blonde hair has gotten darker and it was cropped shorter; obviously for the start of a new school year.

“Jake, my man, what’s up?” Stiles asked.

“You know, boring shit…. school ,” Jake sighed.

A man who passed gave Jake a look for swearing, and Stiles gave him a wink. He’s heard younger kids say worse.

“So eighth grade?” Derek asked.

“Nope,” Jake said, “seventh. I just wanna be done. School is so stupid.”

“You say that now—” Stiles started.

“Don’t! My mom says the same thing!”

“It’s true,” Stiles huffed.

The kid obviously wasn’t happy about that.

Derek cleared his throat, “you should come over sometime. I know Lisa has been wanting to show you some movie she saw.”

“It’s probably really good then, she has good taste,” Jake nodded, “but sure. I’d like that.”

They set up a time, Jake said his parents would probably call Lisa or Derek to confirm. Stiles liked the kid; he was a rambunctious little shit, a lot like him. With goodbyes exchanged Jake went on home and it left Derek and Stiles to continue their walk.

“He’s probably gonna know about the pack one day, if he stays close with us,” Derek commented.

Stiles raised his eyebrows and glanced to his boyfriend, “you think? I mean he’s probably going to go away to college. He wants to play for a D1 school for baseball.”

“That leaves five or six years before that happens, a lot can change,” Derek said.

“Fuck yeah a lot can change,” Stiles agreed.

“Language,” Derek teased.

“Get off your high horse, a twelve year old just said shit and you’re gonna get on my case?” Stiles laughed.

Derek squeezed his hand, “I’m just kidding.”

“You better be,” Stiles said, “besides I remember a certain someone who loves my dirty talk—”

A low growl rumbled through Derek’s chest and Stiles let out a soft sigh of his own.

“I’m just kidding, we’re in public I’d never tease you like that,” Stiles promised with a sly wink.

“You’re the worst,” Derek groaned.

⌽⌽⌽

This would probably be one of the last warm nights before fall really began to settle in.

The sky was tinted a deep orange; the closer to the setting sun the redder everything became. To the east the sky was rapidly exposing its royal blues and deep violets which would soon hold millions of stars.

Tonight was a full moon. It will be the first official one with Lisa as a Beta.

The clearing had a cliff side view of the wilderness, Colorado mountains framed the horizon. Blankets and food surrounded the small campfire that had been set up for both Stiles and Lisa. They lacked the body temperature that werewolves had so they had to make do with fire, blankets, and a few layers once it got darker.

Derek was settled on one of the blankets with Stiles sprawled out beside him, his head laid on Derek’s thigh. He watched as Jackson and Isaac wrestled across the way and Lisa paid attention, she thought that sparring between two werewolves was fascinating, apparently the speed was mesmerizing.

He knew better. She was mostly keeping an eye on Isaac since the last time they trained he had a few broken bones that sufficiently freaked her out. Of course they explained that he’d heal and that sometimes sparring lead to injury; despite that Isaac ended up on the couch with Lisa nursing him for the rest of the day.

The fire in front of him popped and crackled, and if the old him sat here he’d probably be running far far away. Except this was the new him. He could feel its heat crawl over his skin and clothes, its color was stark against the darkening surroundings, and all things considered this should have him screaming.

This fire could do nothing to him. It just was. It was providing heat and a cooking source for the pack, it was doing good. Stiles had taken extra care to setup the stone barrier and concave pit so nothing would happen.

He trusted Stiles with every fiber of his being.

The thought of Stiles pulled his gaze from the fire and down to the younger man. His eyes glowed with the light of the fire, their amber looked ten times brighter in this moment. Derek felt his chest grow heavy just by looking at Stiles, and by now he was confident Stiles would always make him feel one hundred different things at once.

Lucky. Happy. Loved. The list goes on and on….

“You’re staring,” Stiles hummed and looked up.

“I like looking at beautiful things,” Derek said softly.

Stiles face blanked before it heated up only to be paired with a goofy grin. Derek leaned back on one hand while the other ran itself through Stiles’ hair in lazy strokes. They didn’t need words in this moment; by now they could read each other like books. Every eyebrow quirk, every sound, every hand motion means something in their very own language.

Stiles’ hand removed his from his hair and took it. Their fingers laced together through muscle memory since neither of them looked away. A million things were being said; the past year had been one of the busiest times of his life, and Stiles has pretty much been with him the whole way.

He had come to Sloane with nothing to his name and his head barely above water. Stiles had jumped in head first and once again kept him afloat. It’s what they do. They go back and forth to do what they do best and save each other.

Derek frowned and looked up, sadly breaking the moment, only to realize that the three other Betas had wandered off. They weren’t far, he could hear them, but they were obviously giving them space. Derek had never been more grateful.

“What are you going to do without me? I mean with me in college you’ll be all by yourself,” Stiles asked.

“I’ll have the Betas,” Derek pointed out.

“Lisa works, Jackson does whatever Jackson does, and Isaac is addicted to his video games,” Stiles listed.

Derek shrugged, “I’ve been thinking about getting a job. I don’t need the money but it would be something to do.”

“What kind of job?” Stiles prompted.

“Maybe I’ll take up knitting, start a store,” Derek said, only to grin wide when Stiles dissolved into a fit of laughter.

“I demand hats and sweaters for the winter then,” Stiles said breathily once his laughter faded.

“I can try,” Derek said, “but maybe something in town. I’ve been looking through some job offerings online and in the paper.”

Stiles nodded and scooted closer. Derek let his arm wrap itself around the younger man, enjoying the contact between them. The fire in front of them popped loudly, some of the embers floated up searing hot only to fade into nothingness as they cooled.

“Is mating the equivalence of marriage?”

Derek inhaled wrong, falling into a coughing fit until his ability to breathe returned. The question was so sudden it left his skin raw and his chest scarily tight.  He remembered as a young child being a terrible optimist, that one day he’d take a mate and live happily ever after. It had been a privilege to be in a pack with so many successful matings. Then everything happened—Paige, Kate, the fire, the shitshow that was Beacon Hills. Derek had let go of that fairy tale a long time ago.

Having a mate wasn’t in the cards for him.

When he realized he hadn’t said anything and Stiles was beginning to smell anxious he cleared his throat and sat up straight.

“Kind of, it carries supernatural significance but marriage is often done as well so it has human significance too,” Derek said slowly.

“Like what?” Stiles asked.

“Well it shows other supernaturals that you’re claimed, it’s basically a repellent,” he explained, “the pack bond between the two parties is different. Dynamics can shift depending on ranking. It changes the depth of the relationship.”

He looked at Stiles who seemed to be deep in thought, this information was probably all new or an updated version of what he already knew.

“Sorry,” Stiles said, “I was just….Cora and I have been texting and she mentioned it to me and it’s been on my mind and I just thought— shit, I don’t know what I thought I just wanted to talk about it with you because well I see us in it for the long haul and—”

“Stiles breathe,” Derek said and waited until Stiles did so before continuing, “I see us like that too, but there is no rush. It’s a big commitment, a permanent one that we need to think about before jumping in feet first.”

There was no acknowledgement.

“This doesn’t mean I don’t want that with you,” Derek said sharply.

“I know ! I know, but you have a track record of being selfless and doing what you think is for the greater good. You need to be selfish. You deserve to have someone love you like that, and I want to be that person for you if you’ll let me. Eventually,” Stiles said.

The world went vertical and he found himself holding Stiles tight. His face ached with a cheek splitting grin and his heart went wild behind his ribs. He had no idea what he did to deserve this; to deserve Stiles. This time around he’d need to be dead in order to let all this go.

“You’re grinning like a madman,” Stiles noted.

Derek craned his neck back to look at Stiles fully, “I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” Stiles echoed, his hand now gripped the fabric of Derek’s shirt, his deft fingers toyed mindlessly with the soft material.

“Eventually,” Derek said seriously with a nod, “I promise.”

Stiles broke out into a wide smile and kissed him. Derek growled lowly and pressed himself against Stiles; with the conversation fresh in his mind coupled with the full moon he was ready to pull off clothing and take.

That was until he was pushed back lightly.

“Later. Right now….,” Stiles said and pointed upwards.

Derek looked up and saw that the sun had set completely and the moon hung fat in the sky. He felt its pull tug at him, and he couldn’t help it when his eyes turned their deep crimson. He turned back to Stiles and pressed a soft kiss to his forehead.

“You’ll be okay here with Lisa?” He asked.

Stiles nodded, “yep. Go join the other Betas.”

“I love you,” he said again.

“I love you too sugarplum,” Stiles said as Derek stood.

He paused and rolled his eyes, “the pet names are not happening.”

“That’s what you think!”

Derek smirked before he tilted his head back to let out a long sounding howl. He heard Jackson and Isaac join in after a second; their howls distinct in their own ways. Then he caught how Lisa and Stiles joined in with pitiful human howls of their own.

This felt like home, and for Derek he couldn’t ask for anything else.

Chapter Text

Hey! Long time no see! I've missed Teen Wolf and the Sterek fandom like crazy. 

This being said the second part to this series is now up, and the first chapter has been posted. I don't have a posting schedule but I hope to not make you guys wait too long for updates. 

Much love, 

nogitsune_lichen