Actions

Work Header

This Is Not A Drill

Work Text:

Explosions were never good news. That rule was pretty fixed, actually. Stiles stuttered to a halt, holding his puny arm over his face as if it would protect him from the wave of heat and fire overwhelming him. He didn’t fall, he didn’t run. Instead he pushed on. His dad was in there.

The whole economic down turn had been hard on warehouse owners, building after building closing down, falling derelict. Good for Beacon Hills’ brand of supernatural villainy though. It was just that the responsible law keepers of the county tended to police said buildings and Stiles tried to wrap his mind round his anger about that and cling to it. He couldn’t let the fear building in his gut to consume him. He’d end up useless then. He had to find his dad.

His imagination was already coming up with excuses. His dad wasn’t really in there, for all that Stiles had watched him walk ahead of him. His dad had been thrown clear. Stiles ran his hand across his eyes, shook his head to shake the ringing out of his ears. His dad was going to be fine, right?

Derek came up to hold his shoulder. “Stiles.” Stiles couldn’t take the sympathy in his voice.

“We just have to find him. He’s going to be…” Stiles couldn’t speak anymore. His voice was raw and choked and it was too much effort. Instead he pulled against Derek’s arm. “You can bite him.”

Derek tightened his grip as an ominous groan came from the building. The fire was already licking at the surrounding buildings and there were sirens starting to echo, coming closer. Stiles pulled at the grip, then. He needed to find his dad, stop him. Get Derek to save him. Anything.

A figure stumbled out of the flames, mostly familiar. He slumped to one side and Stiles could just make out the ruins of his clothing in the flicker of light from the flames. Derek finally let him go and Stiles ran forward, desperate and needy. He needed his dad. He couldn’t let his dad go.

His dad looked up at him, eyes flashing yellow, teeth sharp, claws out. “Stiles?”

“Dad?” Stiles watched as his dad fell to his knees, the raw burns on his skin steaming as they healed. “Dad?” he repeated, unable to believe it.

 

The “too long: don’t read” version was essentially his dad was bitten. Everything else…

It had been another routine call about kids making noise in the woods, strange lights and sounds, which had taken John to the preserve. John was wary of anything happening in the preserve these days. No one mentioned the mountain lion attacks from last year but no one had really forgotten them either. Parents tended to warn their kids away from the woods, which was why he felt duty bound to check out any complaints. It became another way to worry about Stiles after the whole truth about what was really going on in Beacon Hills was revealed.

It had been late into his shift, in the wee small hours of another calm night. It was too early for fog, even, which would cloud the town until the sun burned it off. The patrol car could only handle the main tracks and he’d driven slowly and carefully along them, aware of the tightness of county budgets. When Jon’d hit the limit of the vehicle, it hadn’t taken long to shrug on his coat and flick on his flashlight and walk deeper into the trees. Maybe he should have had someone with him, but he was an experienced cop and they were short-handed. And if wishes were horses…

There had been red eyes, although it had taken John a few minutes to identify them as eyes. He’d wondered if they had been rifle scopes for a moment. And it was that moment that proved fatal. His flashlight had been knocked out of his hand and he’d landed heavily on his knee and then he’d been grabbed and whatever it had been had bitten him. There had been no other word to describe it.

By the time John’d grabbed the flashlight and waved it around, the mysterious creature had vanished back into the woods. He’d actually sighed about the idea of calling animal control out again – they were increasingly frustrated by the whole mountain lion/no mountain lion thing Beacon Hills had going on – but made his way back to the squad car.

The bite had itched more than hurt, burned almost. He’d washed it out with peroxide and taped it up and half forgotten about it as he dealt with an attempted robbery at the gas station and then his paperwork. He never thought that it had been a werewolf. None of the werewolves John knew looked like that.

His first full moon had been three days later.

“My dad’s a werewolf.” Stiles seemed to be still trying to get the words to sink in from the amount of time he was spending repeating that same phrase. After his dad had told them all about the night he was bitten, Derek had followed Stiles up to his bedroom to watch him pace and attempt to process. He wasn’t about to admit to the Sheriff that he was also up here to try and calm his boyfriend down.

“Yes.” Derek said, cautiously.

“How did you not know that? Don’t you have super senses? No. Wait. I know you have super senses.” Stiles focused all his energy on Derek for a moment, laser bright. He was working through anger and disappointment and something a little too close to frenzied panic for Derek’s liking.

“Hey, hey.” Derek reached out, shifting closer, trying to pull Stiles towards him. But Stiles, instead of his usual battle to clamber into Derek’s lap and force him to kiss until Derek’s lips were numb, froze. Derek could make him come closer, drag him, but that would be crossing some boundaries Derek had very firmly established in his head. He was happy enough for Stiles to push him around all he wanted but that was it. “What’s up?”

“My dad! With the werewolf super senses. Of smell. And hearing.” Stiles flapped his hands in Derek’s loose grip, his eyes wide.

“He’s asleep.” Derek could hear the soft snores clearly through the walls. “And it’s not like I spent a lot of time around your dad, you know.”

“My dad’s a werewolf, Derek. What the hell is going to happen now?” Stiles huffed out a noise that was sheer frustration and worry. “What is he going to do?” Then Stiles finally flopped onto the bed beside Derek, resting his head on Derek’s shoulder.

“I’ll help him. He’s pack.” Derek let his arm snake around Stiles, hold him close. “He’s pack if he wants to be.”

 

“You were bitten by a rogue alpha,” Derek explained. He was sitting in the kitchen and watching the Sheriff fry some bacon with a look of satisfaction. Stiles had produced the packet and laid it on the table before grabbing a pop tart and his keys and heading to school. Derek had spent the night curled up in bed with Stiles, slipping out of the window and driving home before it got light, changed his clothes and come back, using the front door for a change.

Stiles had spent a long time in the shower before rushing out of the house. Derek could smell the body wash and the scrubbed raw skin and he wished he could get Stiles in his arms one more time before he left the house. Stiles barely smelled like him anymore.

That was when Derek realized Stiles’ plan and he had to duck his head to hide his smile.

“We took care of her.” Derek shrugged and accepted the plate of bacon and eggs, wincing slightly as the Sheriff loaded his plate and covered the mess in ketchup. His expression was blissful as he started shoveling the food down his throat. Derek dug in too, hungry. He hadn’t really eaten since he and the pack had grabbed burgers yesterday before heading out to battle the kelpie that had taken up residence in town. On their territory.

The Sheriff slowed down, eating at normal speed now. “You’re going to need to explain more than that, son.”

Derek startled a little at the word before he nodded. “We didn’t kill her. She was turned over to some people we know – I can’t tell you who, yet. They take care of werewolf problems – and we thought we’d got her before she bit anyone. Clawed up a few deer, that was all.”

“And the thing last night?” The Sheriff settled back and drank his coffee, again smiling in approval.

“The kelpie” Derek swallowed his last bite of bacon. “We think she might have summoned it. And maybe set up the booby trap. She was trying to take over the pack, we think.” Derek swallowed his coffee. “Or make one of her own.”

“Which is why she bit me?” The Sheriff tapped his fingers on the table, working through his deductions. “Nothing else?”

“She might – maybe – have smelled Stiles on you. She’d met him earlier.”

“And by ‘met’ you mean?” The Sheriff’s eyes were sharp, just like Stiles’, equally penetrating.

“Threatened. But Stiles can take care of himself.” Derek drank some more coffee. He was getting to the dregs which was not good because it meant he was going to run out of delaying tactics soon enough.

“Uh huh.” The Sheriff pushed himself up and started running water into the sink, clearing the table and Derek pushed up to help. He’d already grabbed the dishtowel before he realized what he was probably revealing. “Guess you’re around here a lot.”

“We all are.” That wasn’t a lie. Not entirely. “It’s…safer here.”

“Than in wherever you’re living nowadays. Which is…?”

Derek dried the plates and put them away before turning around. “Loft apartment. On Willow?”

“Fixer upper?” The Sheriff’s heart was beating a little faster now, but he seemed to have otherwise perfect control. Derek wondered how he did it.

“Yeah. When I get time.” Or can be bothered, was more like it. His roof didn’t leak and the stove worked. It wasn’t like he got cold or anything.

The Sheriff stiffened. “Your heart did this skip thing. Just then.”

“I lied. A little. I can’t be bothered with DIY.” Derek shrugged. “And Stiles has Xbox.”

“Mmmmm. So, what else? I already know about the healing.” The Sheriff let out a shaky laugh. “Hearing?”

“Much more precise. Wider range. It can be overwhelming at first.” Derek shrugged. “Smell, sight, also better.”

“And I turn furry on the full moon.” The Sheriff rubbed his hand over his face. “I need a drink.”

“That could also be a problem.” Derek had to bite his lip to stop a laugh at the look of panic on the Sheriff’s face. “We should probably sit down for this.”

Stiles found it hard to focus at school. He usually found it difficult, maybe giving his lessons about half of his full concentration. Lydia had some kind of equation she’d come up with this one time she was drunk on cocktails. But today was worse. Stiles had nearly been late, sliding into his seat beside Scott just as the second bell rang. And his day had been one of those ten percent attention days.

Scott had earnestly turned to him during lunch and given him a whole speech about his dad joining the pack which Stiles had nodded through and tried not to laugh in Scott’s face. Sometimes the whole alpha thing made him very, very serious indeed. To the extent of motivation speeches. Which made Stiles want to pat his head and make awwww sounds.

Stiles skipped out of practice, thinking that Derek and his father, alone in the house, together, probably trumped Finstock’s crazy anger. Because he might be facing his dad and Derek’s crazy anger instead and wasn’t that just a bucket of kittens and sunshine. Stiles skirted with the speed limit all the way home.

Derek’s car was still parked on the street as Stiles pushed the door open, dropping his backpack and skidding into the living room. Derek and his dad were watching some old baseball game. There was an open bag of chips on the sofa between them, and, deliberately, slowly, his dad took a handful and ate them. With relish.

“So I guess Derek told you all about werewolf healing.” Stiles frowned. “You’re still going to eat vegetables.”

“Sure, sure.” His dad ate another handful of chips while Derek frowned at whatever was happening on TV.

Stiles glanced between them, his eyes narrowed. “What else did you talk about?”

Derek looked at Stiles at that, his eyebrows a little more drawn. He didn’t shake his head or anything so Stiles guessed their conversation hadn’t included the words “And I’m dating your son.”

His dad reached out a hand, put on his concentration face (which Stiles used to joke made him look constipated) and slowly transformed his hand into claws.

Derek and Stiles were in the kitchen, presumably cooking. John had been happy enough to order in but Derek had insisted. The TV was still on but he ignored it to test out his hearing. Talking with Derek had given him a better sense of what he was supposed to be feeling and how to control his senses. In fact, that had pretty much been a theme of their discussion. How to hide and how to control what he’d become.

John had admitted to Derek that he’d locked himself in one of the empty unused cells down at the old station house that was still waiting for demolition when he’d realized what was happening. Or, guessed. He was still mildly freaking out over the whole werewolf thing, to be quite honest, for all that he’d seen Scott do his furry thing more times than he was strictly comfortable admitting. When John had woken in the morning to clawed up plaster on the walls and a dull ache in his hands that vanished almost as soon as he noticed it, he’d reckoned he’d made the right choice. Derek had looked impressed.

But controlling his hearing was something he needed to practice. It wasn’t eavesdropping. Not really. They both knew he could hear them.

Stiles wasn’t talking when he manage to isolate their breathing. Derek was mainly making soft ‘there, there’ noises.

“He could have died, right?” Stiles voice was muffled, like he was covering his mouth with cloth or maybe crying. “The bite could have killed him. He could have rejected it or something.”

“It’s more dangerous the older you get. The bite seems to kill more than it turns when you stop being a teenager.” Derek was calm and authoritative and, again, John wondered what the kid had gone through to be so blasé about this. “But he lived and, sure, he’s a werewolf. But it means you get to be entirely honest with him.”

“Honest? That’s your upside? My dad is a werewolf.” Stiles let out a groan. “My dad is a werewolf and I’m never going to get away with anything ever again.”

Derek had no response to that beyond a soft laugh. They didn’t talk anymore but the sound of cupboard doors opening and knives chopping was too boring to listen to. It took a few moments of staring at the game before John realized he was wondering what else Stiles was hiding from him.

Derek left after dinner and Stiles and his dad were all alone in the house when Stiles snapped the TV off and turned around on the sofa to face him. “So, I guess we should talk.”

“I don’t suppose I could bribe you out of it?” His dad shook his head and laughed. “Derek Hale seems a little different these days.”

Stiles swallowed. He knew he looked guilty. “We’re friends.” And more, whole lots more. “It’s complicated.”

“So is this pack thing.” His dad was still looking at him very directly. “Derek was telling me I should speak to Scott with one breath and then reassuring me that it was entirely my own choice with the next.”

“You know what a shit storm it’s been. What with Derek leaving town and having to come back to deal with Peter and everything.” Stiles could feel the grin on his face fade as his dad shook his head slowly.

“I knew something was going on. Something more than just werewolves. For all that I stayed out of it as much as I could.” His dad finally looked away and Stiles breathed a little more easily. “I always worried that you were going to be next on someone’s list. That I’d find you tied to a tree or displayed in the middle of the gym or just torn to pieces in the Preserve or something.”

Stiles knew he could do something about that. He slid across the space between them and hugged his dad. He was glad his dad hugged him back.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Dad?” Stiles definitely knew how to ruin the atmosphere. “About you being a werewolf.”

“I guess I wanted to keep you safe, son.” His dad ran his hand over Stiles’ hair, messing it up. Stiles batted his hands away and patted it back into shape.

Then he sighed. “That’s my job as well, you know. I couldn’t…lose you, Dad.”

“Me neither.” There was another hug, longer this time, and neither of them spoke about who else they’d lost.

The station wasn’t crowded when John got in, early. He nodded to the desk clerk and headed through to his office. He’d left Maurice, one of his more capable deputies, in charge overnight and would have relieved him but Maurice was out answering a call. Nothing serious, just a broken window. It was easy to just lock himself in his office and haul out the files that had always struck him as not fitting the neat solution he’d been handed. Laura Hale’s murder. The Hale house fire. Kate Argent.

There were others to do with Lydia Martin and that Whittemore kid and weird animal attacks. The strange hallucination at that gay bar last year. Flicking through them, he was reminded again how often Stiles showed up at these crime scenes. Stiles and Scott and Derek Hale.

John hadn’t dared look them over, even after he’d been kidnapped and locked in a root cellar with Melissa and Chris Argent for hours. He guessed it was finally time to deal with what was staring him in the face after all.

He was sitting back in his chair and looking at a stain on the wall when there was a knock at the door. “Come in.” It was probably better than allowing everything to slot together in his mind, especially since he couldn’t do anything about it.

“We got this kid in lockup. I think he’s responsible for the vandalism at the youth center but he’s stonewalling.” Pam looked disgusted and a little fed up. Her shift would be over soon as well.

John let his eyes linger over the files one more time before he slammed them closed and shuffled them into some sort of order. There was nothing he could do to change the past. “I’ll come speak to him.”

The office was pretty much full of the normal buzz – someone paying a fine, paperwork being filed, phones being answered – and he let its familiarity settle him again. Everything that had happened to him with the bite and the long, uncomfortable conversation with Derek yesterday seemed to settle into place. He wasn’t going to suddenly stop being himself for all that he could develop claws and really sharp teeth. And the strength and senses thing was interesting.

He realized why Stiles was so fascinated with it, above and beyond helping Scott out.

The punk kid was glaring across the interview table at the mirror pretty sullenly when he slid into the seat opposite. “Want to tell me what happened?” A nice, safe opening gambit. The kid didn’t take the bait, although he shifted the weight of his regard to him, insolence the predominant expression on his face. He had probably been responsible. At least that was what all John’s police instincts seemed to tell him.

John took in a deep breath, and then another. He sorted through the scents that the air carried to him: sour sweat, coffee, weed and the acrid tinge of spray paint. It was an unpleasant taste that lingered despite the shallow breaths he shifted to.

“Okay. Name?” The kid mumbled under his breath but it was sharp and clear to John’s new senses. He scribbled it down, accurately, and watched as the kid shifted uncomfortably. They went through date of birth, address, the usual suspects, with each answer becoming a little clearer as he realized John wasn’t missing anything. “And where did you buy the spray paint?”

“What paint?” The kid’s heart gave the same sort of skip that Derek’s had earlier and John grinned a little too wide. He watched the kid swallow, nervously, could smell the fresh sweat on his palms. He’d never really had to struggle to break a suspect before but this was a whole new level of confidence. The kid slumped, all fight and defiance sliding out of him. “Hardware store over in Lextown. My brother was the one who bought it though.” His heartbeat was steady.

“And was he the other youth reported at the scene?” John caught sight of Pam throwing up her hands up in amazement as the kid spilled the whole story. Maybe there was something to Derek’s assertion that most people sensed something dangerous about them and didn’t want to piss them off. Although Derek had let out a dry laugh at that and explained that Stiles didn’t seem to care too much about what his instincts were telling him.

Derek really knew his son well. Possibly… John shook his head and made his notes while the formerly tough kid confessed all his wrong doings. He’d probably get away with handing the whole mess over to Child Services from the sounds of it. Maybe get the kid doing some community service. Especially when he confirmed a couple of names that John had been noting as persons of interest lately.

Derek was waiting for him on the sidewalk when he pulled up to the loft complex on Willow Street. There were a couple of awkward moments while Derek looked up and down the street as if he was expecting someone to be watching them.

“You better come in. I’ve got a visitor.” Derek’s face had that closed down, pinched look that John was learning to interpret as Derek being really uncomfortable about something.

Chris Argent was there when the elevator doors opened, leaning one hip against a long table and flicking through an old book. He tried to disguise the quick once over of his eyes, the way his hand twitched towards the gun in his hip holster.

“Mr. Argent,” John said, nodding pleasantly. John guessed he was probably on the wrong side of Chris’ friend/foe list now, what with Chris being a hunter and all, something that seemed sharper as John breathed in gun oil and a sharp, acrid hurtful scent. On the other hand, manners cost nothing.

“Sheriff.” Argent didn’t reach out to shake his hand but he did replace the book on Derek’s table and straighten up. His eyes flicked to where Isaac was lounging on the bottom step of a metal spiral staircase but obviously the threat was in front of him. “I hear you had another one of those animal attacks recently.”

John didn’t reply. He just folded his arms and waited. Argent could be as impassive as the worst hardened offenders but he was obviously not in the mood today.

“Derek explained about the code. He said he did.” Argent shifted his attention to Derek who nodded. “And it would be hard to hide the death of the Sheriff but not impossible.” Argent’s voice held an ugly, threatening edge and the urge to bare his fangs, let his claws drop rose up. Instead he clamped down on his anger.

“That won’t be necessary.” Derek’s voice was utterly certain. “And you better not let Stiles ever hear you even hint at that idea.”

Chris Argent looked down at the ground, uncomfortable and unsettled. He almost looked more afraid of Stiles than of the three werewolves in the room. The Sheriff wondered if he needed to be having another talk with his son as well as finding out more about this werewolf business. Actually, another talk with Stiles was probably overdue. While he could overhear conversations in kitchens, Stiles couldn’t. But that was something to consider later on.

“You got anything for us?” John wandered across to look out of the window, trying not to show that he had never been here before and was basically checking the place out. Isaac let out a soft laugh, almost sub vocal, which Argent obviously didn’t hear it.

“Some basics. Kelpies are rare. It’s been a while since anyone has seen one.” Argent patted at the folder he’d brought with him. It smelled of the same gun oil and that unpleasant organic scent, making the hackles on the back of his neck rise. “Try not to call me if you can help it. You know what it does to Allison.”

Derek nodded and let Argent out while John kept looking around the bare space. Derek would have no privacy here, his bed tucked against a wall, the kitchen nothing more than a stove and a refrigerator unit. At least the bathroom wasn’t out here in the huge sparse room.

Derek locked the gate after Argent left, listened carefully until he drove away and turned to the Sheriff, avoiding Isaac’s laughing gaze. Isaac was way too amused by the panic Derek could feel building in his gut. Derek had spotted one of Stiles’ lacrosse shirts – one he’d pulled on when leaving Stiles’ bedroom one morning and kept, nostalgically – lying in a heap beside his bed. He avoided looking at it, desperate not to draw attention to the fact that it was a neon sign that Stiles took his clothes off in here.

Everywhere in here.

The Sheriff settled at the long table and snagged the folder Argent had left rather gingerly. But all Derek could see was the way he’d bent Stiles over that self-same table and rimmed him until he’d come untouched. In fact, there wasn’t anywhere in the room where Stiles hadn’t been fucked – the staircase, the bed (obviously). Up against the long window. Cold fear wrapped tendrils round his spine and held him frozen in place.

“You really keep this place clean, Derek.” The Sheriff’s voice was approving. “Lots of bleach. Deals with the insect problem?”

“Yeah.” Isaac was the one who answered, drawing out the word. “The insect problem. That’s why Derek cleans. He finds it relaxing.” Isaac leaned over to look at the file but not before shooting Derek a sly grin. He thought he was hilarious, now.

Derek snagged the folder and closed it. “I wanted to talk about training.” Isaac started to slide out of his seat and towards his tucked away space at the side of the loft. Derek shot his hand out and grabbed at his shirt to hold him in place. “Isaac can help with it.”

“What sort of training?” The Sheriff was suspicious but he wasn’t leaving and he seemed to be listening to Derek.

“Normally, we’d be testing control.” Derek paused. The Sheriff had managed to show remarkable control which anyone who wasn’t a teenager and had to deal with Stiles on a regular basis would probably find easier. Being a werewolf under the pull of the full moon was easier than keeping your temper with Stiles sometimes. Derek had lots of personal experience to attest to this. Experience he should never, ever, admit to. “But I thought you’d want to practice shifting and maybe some fighting skills.” He’d had so much practice pretending to know what he was doing that he managed to keep his eyes steady on Stiles’ dad without betraying his uncertainty.

The Sheriff nodded. “Like going to the gun range?”

Derek wasn’t sure what he meant.

“To practice? You’ve learned to shoot but you need to keep your skills in tune?” The Sheriff raised a shoulder in a move that was pure Stiles, his demeanor betrayed unease and yet a confidence that he was right and Derek was just maybe a little stupid for not getting the analogy. Which was, just like Stiles tended to be time and time again, perfectly correct.

“Good. Only there’s less targeting and more clawing and biting.” Derek pulled out the spreadsheet printout Stiles had forced him to make, full of colors and timeslots and little blocks of activities. “We can move some people around.”

“You have a schedule?” The Sheriff was definitely holding back laughter.

Derek knew it was as ridiculous as it sounded. “Scott’s in school and it’s not like he was born a werewolf. The betas… When there’s not a crisis… It’s important to balance work and life and werewolfing.” He was quoting Stiles there. Derek didn’t let on that he found it soothing, in some strange way, to know who he was with and when and it made him feel slightly more part of things. Returning to being a beta had felt like he’d lost a limb for a while and he’d been nearly an omega before Scott and him had come to the agreement over Peter.

The Sheriff had a blank, assessing expression on his face as he looked at Derek. Derek wasn’t nervous. He was just…uncomfortable. On edge. Because he was keeping a huge secret. There had been a lot of problems in the past that might have been solved a whole lot sooner if secrets weren’t being kept. And Derek was at fault as Scott or Stiles or Lydia or even Peter. Now that the Sheriff knew all about werewolves, maybe he should tell him the whole truth.

Which might get Derek shot or locked in jail.

“We should perhaps start sooner? What does your schedule look like?” Derek pulled the sheet towards him to avoid the Sheriff’s eyes.

“I’ve got some vacation time. Shouldn’t you be hunting the kelpie?” Stiles’ dad settled into place at the table. “I could…help, I suppose.”

“Help?” Derek’s eyes shot up to see the Sheriff pulling a frown. “What do you mean?”

“I’ve got resources. At the department. Could see if there’s a pattern of animal attacks slightly wider afield?” The Sheriff didn’t sound sure. In fact, he sounded like he couldn’t believe he was making the offer.

“It’s possibly better if you don’t. Might draw attention.” Derek ducked his head again, looking at the schedule. Who knew so many different shades of green and blue could be fascinating? He also didn’t want to let on that Stiles had basically used the Sheriff’s office as his own personal information service more often that they were happy to admit to. “One of my cousins was a police officer. He said he never used his werewolf advantage at work.”

The Sheriff’s eyebrows shot up at that and he leaned back. “You believe him?”

“I was a kid. I was gullible.” Derek’s heart turned over for a moment as he remembered just how trusting and honest he’d been. “He was killed.”

“Hunters, right? That’s the threat to werewolves?” The Sheriff leaned back on his stool.

“Fire. He died in the fire.” Derek turned to the sheet of paper again. “Now, what shift are you on Friday?”

Stiles drove them to the old warehouse – werehouse, heh – Derek had rented for them to use as a training space. His dad didn’t say much as Stiles took the familiar twists and turns, being the perfect driver he never was with his dad beside him in the jeep. He was still nervous – worried about his dad being a werewolf like basically everyone else he knew, worried about what that might mean and worried about his dad finding out about him and Derek and, well, going insane now he was a slavering creature of the night.

Derek and he hadn’t exactly planned to be…together. If someone could go back three years and tell him that one day he’d not only be having regular, amazing orgasms with another person but that person would be Derek Hale of all people, he wouldn’t have even asked if the Mets won the next World Championship because it would have been so far from anything he could have believed. Derek was so far out of his league that it wasn’t even funny, with his abs and his hair and his shoulders and those biceps and… Stiles focused. He couldn’t have his dad smelling his whole aroused thing that tended to happen around Derek, even now.

Stiles wasn’t sure who had made the first move. Derek claimed it was Stiles and Stiles remembered it differently. He definitely knew for sure that there had been another apocalypse, another near death experience, and instead of stealing whiskey from his dad or burying himself in school work, he’d refused to move from Derek’s sofa until Derek woke up, healed and whole again. They’d argued – it was like a familiar, comforting routine – over whose fault it was, who didn’t follow the plan, until he’d pushed Derek up against the wall and they’d moved through three bases before collapsing in a pile of sticky hands and trembling limbs and just held on.

Derek insisted on the dates. Stiles would have been happy with food between sex, really, but Derek picked him up and took him to movies and to a band at a bar two towns over and they ate out, not just take out. And maybe Stiles had been so caught up in the fact he was in what was his first real relationship that he had managed to completely miss the fact his father was a werewolf. Which, he had to admit to himself, he felt all kinds of guilty about.

His dad didn’t comment on his silence as he pulled up to the warehouse and followed his dad out, carrying his backpack. He had homework on top of everything else.

Derek started to smile at him when he came in, a soft smile that he only seemed to save for Stiles, along with his most annoying arguments. Stiles gave him a quick aborted wave and Derek’s face stilled as Stiles’ dad came up behind him, looking around curiously. Stiles winced as his eyes landed on the pile of crash mats to one side of the space. Stiles had enjoyed a really, really good blow job on those crash mats, jeans tangled around his ankles as Derek basically demonstrated his entire lack of a gag reflex.

Derek’s eyes widened before he jerked his attention back to Stiles’ dad, leading him over to where there was a wide, empty space.

“This place would make a nice gym, Derek.” His dad was looking around in that casual way that meant he was hinting very broadly that people better listen to his ideas. “Airy. The town could do with a proper gym.”

“I don’t need money,” Derek said, shrugging out of his Henley and replacing it with a worn sleeveless shirt. There were stains on it that were probably blood, maybe oil. Maybe some mud, actually, now Stiles was looking at it. He’d almost yelled out that Derek shouldn’t put on the shirt, his usual reaction, before he choked it down and sat at the table in the corner, hauling out textbooks and laptop and snacks and trying not to eye the way Derek’s jeans hugged his ass.

It was almost harder to pretend he had no interest in Derek beyond friendship now he was allowed to touch (and kiss and lick). Just around his dad. Or where his dad might smell it. Stiles let his head thump down onto his Calc book.

“Lots of homework, Stiles?” His dad hung his coat on the back of the chair and grabbed a drink of Stiles’ water. “Better get on with it.”

Stiles sneered at his dad as he wandered back to Derek. “Jobs aren’t always about money, Derek. Sometimes you just need something to do that isn’t driving around town and –“

“Brooding. Derek does spend a lot of time brooding.” Stiles couldn’t help but interject, accepting the pair of glares with equanimity. Both were more fond than angry and he settled to his work with a warm feeling unfurling in the pit of his stomach.

Training with the Sheriff was different from training with the other betas and Scott. Derek didn’t want to throw him into the walls and the pillars and the ground like he did with them. He needed to show his strength, his speed, the threat they were all facing. With Stiles’ dad, it was a different urge. They weren’t pack, not yet, but the potential was there. From the way Stiles was acting, the Sheriff was already accepting Derek as an ally, but Derek knew the Sheriff wasn’t. He almost wanted to court him, like he hadn’t managed to do with Scott, back when everything had been falling apart around him. And even though Scott was technically the alpha, there was a part of Derek that saw him and Stiles as a complete unit, a pack within a pack. Stiles’ dad should be part of that.

So he didn’t slam the Sheriff into the floor. Instead he showed him some of the moves, some of the attacks that took most advantage of teeth and claws rather than fists and punches, on one of the stray mannequins that Cora had shown up with one day. Someone had painted crude faces and targets on them (one looked a whole lot like Peter) but most of the time the pack sparred with each other. Maybe he should get Scott and Isaac to come in and do some demonstrations.

The Sheriff seemed eager to learn, rolling up to his feet when he over-reached, when he misjudged his new-found strength, with an enormous playful grin on his face. “How fast can I go?”

“You need to build up your wind, a little.” Derek grinned. “And not as fast as me.”

The Sheriff raised his eyebrows at him, a move Stiles pulled on him frequently. Derek was mostly immune. “Really?”

“I’m a born werewolf. A Hale. And I can…” Derek shook his head. Then he decided that full disclosure was probably for the best. “Let me show you.”

Normally he’d just strip in the middle of the warehouse, particularly if it was just Stiles and him (especially if it was just them. Because the stripping would be the prelude to them fucking) but the Sheriff’s presence made him duck around a corner. He could hear the Sheriff checking in with Stiles as he peeled off his pants and transformed. When he padded back around the corner, huge and furry, he heard both of their heartbeats tick up. He reckoned the Sheriff’s was in shock but Stiles always loved to see him in his wolf form. They’d discovered he could do this in the dark days when it seemed Peter had them beat. His wolf form had been just enough to tip the battle their way, though.

Derek let his tongue hang out in a wolfy grin as Stiles scrambled over to him to run his hands through Derek’s fur. It was one of his favorite pastimes after all. He sniffed at Stiles, smelling clean boy and that mix of coffee and electronics and pineapple that he knew as well as his own scent. There was something wrong though. Stiles didn’t smell quite right. He didn’t smell enough of pack, of Derek.

It only took a moment to lick a thick stripe up Stiles’ neck, making him shriek out in disgust. Derek nosed at the damp skin approvingly, before using his strength to tip Stiles back and then crawling over him to hold him down, to make him smell right again. Stiles protesting, pushing at him without any hope of shifting him. His hands were more tugging at the fur than trying to shove him away anyway.

He glanced up to see the Sheriff snapping a picture with his cell, hiding a laugh behind his free hand. “Thank you, Derek. Perfect Christmas card material.”

Derek stuck his nose under Stiles’ ear, rubbing and just touching. He’d not done that for what felt like weeks. Stiles let out a soft moan, the sort of sound Derek was used to hearing when they were both naked and together and not in front of his father.

Derek scrambled up, trotted around the corner and shifted again. He was just pulling up his pants as Stiles followed him, eyes wide. Derek frowned as Stiles opened his mouth to speak and he closed it again, miming locking his mouth with a key and throwing it away. Derek glanced behind Stiles before he deliberately and teasingly slowly fastened up his pants, almost laughing at the disappointment in Stiles’ eyes.

The Sheriff’s phone rang and Stiles jerked and flailed, shocked out of his daze. Derek overheard the dispatch reporting another mysterious fire which the Sheriff agreed to come get a look at.

Derek was shrugging into his shirt as the Sheriff came around the corner to join them. He looked a whole lot more harried than the relatively relaxed and laughing man Derek had just been showing off to. “You guys going to eat here?”

“I was thinking about heading back to the house, dinner there?” Stiles looked between his dad and Derek, implying that Derek was going to be invited to eat with them. Like a proper boyfriend might be. Derek turned away, not wanting Stiles to see what he was thinking. Stiles had this ability to tell what he was mulling over, even when Derek tried to shut everything down.

“You do that. I think I’m going to be late.” The Sheriff leaned forward, ruffled Stiles’ hair. He nodded to Derek, grabbing his coat as he left. “Don’t wait up. And think about that gym, Derek.”

“My dad, ladies and gentlemen,” Stiles muttered. “Able to nag even when he’s running out of the door.”

“He just wants to make sure I’m… happy? I think.” Derek wasn’t quite sure how to read the Sheriff, after all. “That I’m taken care of.”

“Which is warring with the whole must look after pack thing you’ve got going on?” Stiles shuffled his feet before meeting Derek’s eyes, full of frank honesty. “It must be strange. I mean, we were all kids when we joined the pack.”

“Other than Peter.” Derek felt honor-bound to correct. He really didn’t miss Peter.

“Who we do not mention.” Stiles seemed to feel much the same way.

Derek listened to the car reverse out of the lot and drive away. “Your dad’s no longer here,” he hinted. “And he’d be expecting you to smell of me…”

“After you pulled the whole wolf attack thing.” Stiles didn’t look too annoyed. “Licking me like that in front on him.”

“I could lick you now?” Derek advanced as Stiles backed up to the pile of mats. “And you’d better take your shirt off. Bet I got it covered in dog hair.”

“My pants too, huh? Being as you really were all over me.” Stiles flung his shirt to the side before lowering his hands to his belt. He tripped out of his shoes before trying to walk out of his socks and undo his pants all at the same time. Derek, eager to help, tipped him backwards and laughed as Stiles bounced. “You’re going to pay for that.”

“Can I pay for it with a blow job? Maybe some rimming?” Derek lowered himself until he was hovering over Stiles. “A little light bondage?”

“I’d settle for a kiss,” Stiles said, tilting his head back. His words were unadorned with any of the teasing Derek’s voice had held. “I’ve missed that.”

“Me too.” Derek dropped the final inches between them, swallowing the small moan Stiles let out as he parted his lips. Kissing Stiles was something Derek would never quite come to terms with. Every time he did it, it felt like it was something new, something that was fragile and just for him and ethereal. But at the same time, it felt right, like coming home. Something old and familiar and reliable and the best of all things. The feel of Stiles’ naked skin under his palms was also serving to drive him wild, especially when Stiles pulled at his shirt, nails catching on his skin.

Derek ducked his head to suck a mark into Stiles’ skin, over his shoulder, easily hidden but something he could remember was there. Stiles arched back, the hard line of his cock brushing up against Derek’s and Derek knew that he wasn’t going to be satisfied with just a quick orgasm, a little frottage. “I’m getting the lube,” he whispered into Stiles’ skin. “Then I’m going to fuck you.”

Stiles pushed him away, trying to work his pants off at the same time. “Hurry up then.” He grinned widely and Derek was caught up in the easy joy of it all for a long moment before Stiles kicked at him again, impatient as ever. Derek grabbed the lube from his bag and soon he was easing into Stiles, slow and steady. Stiles just took him, breath hitching as Derek bottomed out, kissing him until he felt Stiles wriggle, trying to get him to move.

Derek teased him with small, tight rolls of his hips, waiting for Stiles’ mouth to open on just the right pitched whine before he started thrusting in earnest. Stiles started letting all his thoughts spill out. In the past they might have embarrassed Derek, that litany of love, affection, want and need that Stiles felt free to tell him, maybe even not cognizant that he was doing it. But now it just allowed him to blank out the rest of the world and focus purely on Stiles and on how Derek was making him feel.

It was pretty fucking amazing.

Stiles obviously wasn’t in the mood for drawing it out much longer. He fumbled his hand between them, stroking his cock with short, hard strokes. Derek angled his hips, knowing with the benefit of practice and experience exactly what to do to make Stiles come. Stiles always kept quiet as he came, something held over from his years of silent masturbation and awareness of werewolf hearing. Of course, they were sneaking around now in a whole different way but Derek still got a thrill of pleasure when he finally allowed himself to let go, to come deep inside Stiles. To know he was leaving a scent that would scream “mine” to anyone who was paying attention.

Derek kissed Stiles down from the high, mouths moving lazily against each other until they were breathing normally again.

“Missed you,” Stiles breathed out into another kiss. “Missed this but missed you more.”

Derek held him close and just breathed Stiles in until he was the only thing he could sense. “Guess we better shower?” He wasn’t entirely happy with how reluctant it sounded. He was an adult. He was supposed to know better than this. He also probably shouldn’t be screwing Stiles.

Stiles held Derek’s face between his hands and made Derek look at him. “We’ve been through this, Derek. I hate to sound all romance novel, but nothing - and I’m sure about this - nothing is going to stop us being together.” Stiles’ mouth twisted into a wry grin. “And, if nothing else, my hand just about developed calluses from all the jerking off I’ve had to do without my werewolf boyfriend to take care of me.”

“You take care of me too.” Derek knew he should come up with something funny or sarcastic, but he couldn’t. He needed Stiles to know what he meant to him. Stiles fell silent at that, raking his hands through Derek’s already messy hair, twisting it into improbable spikes. Derek let him.

After they’d showered – and Stiles had shown what kind of refractory period he had, which led to Derek on his knees and swallowing him down – Derek reluctantly let Stiles get back into his jeep.

“My dad was right, you know.” Stiles’ eyes flickered over the warehouse behind Derek. “This place would make a cool gym.”

Derek shook his head. “Let’s just deal with rogue Alphas, deadly water horses and your dad being a werewolf before I start anything new.”

Stiles started the jeep, coaxing it into life. But he didn’t drive away. Instead he leaned out of the window. “If we waited until everything was quiet, we’d never do anything.” Then he cheesily blew a kiss in Derek’s direction and reversed out of the lot. Derek waved. He’d drop past the house later.

And he might as well find out what owning a gym might entail.

Stiles tried not to grin at Derek when his dad “checked in” on them in the middle of his shift. He was pretty used to that – had plated up some lasagna which he reheated quickly – and he knew better than to be naked and with Derek’s cock anywhere near his person around that time. He’d also showered as thoroughly as he could when he got home.

Half of him wanted to tell his dad. Kinda wanted his dad to see how fucking happy Derek made him. And how annoyed and how wound up and how Derek was basically just puppies and sunshine. He wanted Derek to talk about baseball and werewolves and the crime rate with his dad. He just wanted Derek to be part of them, he guessed.

He knew Derek had Cora although that was a whole weird mess he wasn’t going near, especially since Cora seemed to have headed for the hills again, or possibly college. And he knew he and his dad were close – closer than a hell of a lot of other kids and parents. And now he didn’t have to lie about werewolves and the things that wanted to kill him or anyone else, he felt like they might get back to some kind of equilibrium. A new equilibrium, after all the disruption had been resolved. A better place.

And none of that was going to happen until he told his dad the entire truth about Derek.

Derek who was currently using Stiles’ laptop to look at gyms. “Do you think a boxing ring might be an idea?”

“Why not just have one of those big mat things?” Stiles flicked through another book on folk tales, focusing on the illustrations more than anything.

His dad hesitated with a forkful of lasagna hovering in front of his face. “You’ll need a studio. For yoga.”

“Because you do yoga, Dad.” Stiles rolled his eyes before focusing on a slightly promising page.

“You need to attract a broad market. You’ll have your body builder types, right? And then the older—“ His dad shoved the lasagna into his mouth and chewed for a moment. “And women. Who like working out but also do, like, yoga. And aerobics.”

Stiles laughed out loud at that. Derek sighed and turned to wait for whatever Stiles was thinking to be explained to him. Stiles shot him a grin – half triumphant and a whole lot affectionate for Derek knowing he was about to embarrass Derek. “Can you imagine Derek in leg warmers and one of those lycra tight things.”

“Leotards.” His dad supplied the word before shoveling some more lasagna into his mouth.

“Yes. It would be like purple and pink and he’d be this pretty princess and –“ Stiles hooted with laughter again.

“I used to do personal training, back in New York. When I was with Laura.” Derek’s voice was soft, a little unsure. Stiles stopped laughing immediately. Derek didn’t talk about the past a whole lot, for all that he told Stiles things he was sure Derek had never told any of the others. He and Cora never played happy family memory time either. So nuggets about Derek’s past were golden and precious. “I can do a bit of yoga. But not in a leotard.”

Stiles stole a sip of his dad’s water. “What?”

His dad shook his head before going to grab himself another glass and filling it, rather pointedly. Derek clicked about some more, making a soft thoughtful noise as he found something worth considering. Stiles kept drinking. This was nice. This was what he wanted. He just, maybe, needed to let his dad settle more into the werewolf thing a little bit more first.

“One of the guys in the station used to run a gym before he signed on with the department. You should come talk to him.” His dad finished off his food while Derek thought it over, slowly nodding. Stiles felt a warm, solid lump settle under his breastbone.

There was some kind of teacher training day on the Monday so Derek was ready when Scott texted to ask if he wanted to take a run through the woods. It was ostensibly to see if they could find the kelpie that was still causing random mysterious fires, which, Derek privately thought, was strange being as a kelpie was a water horse according to everything Stiles insisted on telling him. It didn’t matter as he and Isaac pulled up to find Scott and Ethan waiting. Stiles and the Sheriff drove up moments later.

Scott waved awkwardly, obviously feeling strange about taking charge when it was Stiles’ dad. Stiles punched at Scott’s shoulder before jumping onto him and tumbling Scott to the ground. “So I thought I could stay here with the cars and shit while you get your wolf on?”

Derek knew that Stiles would usually then come back to the loft, or they’d head out for a late movie a few towns away. It was a comfortable habit. But Stiles’ eyes were flickering between him and his dad and it took Derek a moment to realize why Stiles really was here this time. Derek shrugged off his jacket, wondering how he could tell Stiles he would keep an eye on his father without letting everyone else know.

He cleared out his pockets – one too many lost or smashed phones had led to them being a little more cautious with who took their cell – and grinned at it. He tapped out a text, watching as Stiles casually flipped his own phone out and smiled at it. Then Derek handed over his coat to Stiles, turning away before he did anything stupid like try to kiss Stiles out here in front of everyone. Not that they would normally hesitate. Stiles claimed it was revenge for all of Scott’s oversharing in the past.

The Sheriff looked happy as he shrugged out of his coat and stuck it into the jeep. “Should I leave my phone too?”

“Keep it,” Stiles said. “Just in case you get lost.” Then he grinned, a little wicked. “Of course, you could always try howling.”

Everyone looked at Scott, who still flushed. “I wasn’t sure what to do,” he whined, as they all laughed, even though the Sheriff looked confused.

Derek took pity on him, slapping him on the shoulder before he let his teeth and claws come out to play, feeling his jaw lengthen and the strength start to fizz under his skin, along with the urge to run. “I’ll explain on the way. We’ve got some hunting to do.”

The Sheriff had already transformed, his eyes glinting yellow in the glow from the headlights. He took off, almost in challenge, while Derek laughed and caught up.

John had been tramping these woods for years, in a professional capacity and when he’d had the odd occasion to go camping or just try to get away from it all. He’d thought about getting a dog, back when Claudia was still around, which would have given him an excuse to come out and enjoy the whole back to nature thing.

He snorted at the irony as he followed Derek along a barely discernable pathway, ducked low to avoid branches. The odd leaf caught in his hair but it didn’t matter, caught up as he was in the way he felt powerful in a way he thought he’d left behind on the football field in high school. Everything was brighter, louder and he just ran faster and found no limits as yet. The wind carried scents – a rabbit, rotten meat, the left over char from an illicit bonfire. It just seemed more somehow than it had before.

He took another deep breath and caught the scent of Stiles, as familiar to him as his own smell. He looked around in puzzlement until he caught sight of Derek. Of course Derek smelled of Stiles. They were friends. They spent time together. A lot of time together. He’d come home the other night on his break to find them curled up on the couch together.

John paused, letting Derek run ahead of him. Then he shook his head, dismissing the thought. Stiles would share something like that with him. Something important. John tucked the idea of Derek and Stiles as a couple into the back of his mind until they’d dealt with the monsters once more terrorizing his town. There’d be time to talk to Stiles later.

In the end, Isaac was the one who found the kelpie, almost a whole week later, which made perfect sense to Stiles and Stiles alone. “Isaac likes animals. More than Scott does.”

Derek roared at the inky black creature, his claws ready to tear and shred and do all kinds of nasty violence. It looked unimpressed, its forward facing eyes (predator eyes, Stiles’ brain supplied, like hawks) fixed on Derek for a moment before it tossed its seaweed laden mane. And, seriously? They were miles from the coast. It pawed idly at the muddy ground.

Stiles pressed the ruin of the t-shirt Derek had thrown at him to Isaac’s shoulder, trying desperately not to look at the way the bone, muscle, tendons and flesh were all knitting back together under his fingertips. The beast’s razor sharp claws were to blame for that. Isaac had succeeded in holding it here while the rest of the pack raced to join him. Scott and Allison were still on their way while Derek had thrown himself straight at the monster, making it leave Isaac alone to heal. Stiles was there as so much excess baggage. There was no way he’d even really begin to heal from a wound like Isaac’s. He tried ducking down real small as Derek and the creature smashed together again.

He wouldn’t tell Derek, but Stiles really liked watching him fight, liked watching the sheen of his muscles and the way his body flexed and twisted. He liked watching Derek mock-fight a whole lot more than if there was real blood and guts on the line, of course. He really didn’t like Derek’s life being in danger. The fear cut through the whole potential arousal like a hot knife through butter, so to speak.

But he’d be blind not to admire the way Derek looked when he coiled up tight then launched himself to defend Stiles. And Stiles would reward this defense with orgasms just as soon as he could. His hands might be slippery with blood right now, but thoughts of Derek were definitely staving off any urge to faint.

Another car screeched up and Stiles turned, expecting to see Scott in Allison’s sensible mom car. He wasn’t expecting to see his dad in a police cruiser. It was even stranger to see his dad transform, as he climbed out of the car, claws appearing and teeth lengthening (and hair migrating). He’d seen his dad as a werewolf a couple of times but this was different. His dad was in his uniform, shirt collar popped, neatly pressed khakis, the whole thing. His badge was glinting on his chest, for crying out loud. But he was also all wolfed out and the dissonance between the two made Stiles startle. Then he gave his dad a quick wave before returning the pressure to Isaac’s shoulder.

His dad leveled an ‘I’ll talk to you later’ stare at Stiles before assessing the whole Derek vs kelpie situation going on. Derek had a huge bleeding cut across his chest and his abs that was healing, quickly. It was also steaming slightly.

“I think its hooves are poisonous,” Isaac ground out, writhing painfully for a moment. “There’s water in Derek’s car. Need to wash out the wound.”

Stiles started to dash across the open ground to the cars when Derek was tossed, like he weighed nothing, and collided with Stiles, flattening him to the ground. He huffed for a moment, bleeding a little on Stiles then tilting his eyebrow at the compromising – and familiar – position. Then he rolled up, leaving Stiles breathless for a moment. He scrambled to his elbows, waiting for the kelpie to attack him, the only human at the party but it seemed to be stalking back and forwards, kept at bay by an invisible line.

“It’s trapped,” his dad said, voice darkened by his mouthful of fangs, making him hiss a little.

“Can only go so far from the water it came from?” Derek came to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Sheriff while Stiles reached Derek’s Camaro and pulled the warm bottle of water from under the passenger seat. He had a feeling he was responsible for leaving it there, after some date that involved take out and making out. It was unopened. There was also a can of soda, which he grabbed as well. It was all liquid, to be quite fair. “There was something like that in Stiles’ notes.”

Stiles tossed the can to Derek who looked at it quizzically as Stiles mimed pouring it over his chest, over the lurid red line that ruined the sheer perfection of Derek’s body. Derek rolled his eyes but did as Stiles suggested and the cut healed. Stiles threw a thumbs up at Derek as he sluiced some of the water over Isaac’s shoulder.

Another roar of engines and Allison, Scott and Cora drew up, flinging themselves out of their cars. Scott ran to Isaac and Stiles gave up his space at Isaac’s side to come stand beside Derek. The kelpie lunged at him but was brought up short by that invisible demarcation.

“Okay, it gets twenty out of ten for creepy scary looks and about minus a thousand for not being able to go that far from water.” Stiles automatically knocked his shoulder against Derek’s just to let him know he was still looking out for him.

“All supernatural creatures have a weakness,” Allison put in, her bow held loosely in one hand. She shrugged at the glares from the werewolves standing beside her. “It can go far enough.” Soberly, Stiles recalled the bodies they’d found, torn to pieces of blood and bone and mush. The kelpie snorted in annoyance, flashing its steely, razor sharp teeth, and Stiles shuddered.

“You’ve got a bow,” his dad put in, looking at Allison.

“Yeah, Dad. Remember? Allison was nationally ranked and she’s human and a hunter. Like her dad.” Stiles wondered what his dad was thinking as he looked between the kelpie and Allison’s bow.

His dad flicked his eyes to Stiles and shook his head. “Remember what your file said?”

“Yeah,” Stiles muttered. “Only not, like, all the specifics. Give me a clue? Kelpie facts for $100?”

“Iron kills it. Or slows it down.” His dad pulled out his gun. “Let’s see what bullets do.”

When his dad put three rounds neatly into the kelpie’s forehead, Stiles had to concede the point. It stuttered, fell to its knees. The wounds Derek had caused earlier had healed after bleeding out a little dark red blood. This time the blood that gushed out was black. “Allison – shoot it!”

Allison smoothly pulled and drew a line of arrows all along the animal’s vital organs while his dad emptied his gun into its chest. It still valiantly twitched, trying to keep its feet under the weight of its collapse until Derek strode forward, claws out once more, and near severed its head. Seriously. There was like this flap of skin and muscle and Stiles had to swallow a few times to keep the nausea down.

“Okay. So that’s not pretty.” Derek walked backwards, shaking the blood off his hand and keeping an eye on the kelpie which twitched again before lying still, blood steaming slightly in the night air. Derek reached out with his clean hand to cup Stiles’ cheek, a habit he’d developed some twenty fights back or something. Then Stiles noticed his eyes flick to his dad and the caress turned into a totally friendly and not at all awkward clap on his shoulder. Then Derek was spinning away to check on Isaac and Stiles was left standing between his dad and Allison.

“Right.” His dad had re-holstered his gun and was looking over Allison’s bow, clearly envious. “Used to shoot one of these with my dad and grandpop. Stiles wouldn’t remember, but he used to try and use it too.”

“Dad! Okay. Nice save. Second – you’re a werewolf, not a hunter. You have, you know, claws and fangs and stuff. Super healing. You shouldn’t be-“ Stiles flailed as he tried to encompass the enormity of the weirdness. “You shouldn’t be using guns and bows and stuff.”

“I had to control my claws so I could shoot straight,” his dad replied, dubious. “But, son, you use every weapon you can.”

Derek came to stand behind Stiles. “Exactly. You should know that.”

“Great. Now my dad and my boy-“ Stiles shut his mouth with a snap. “My friend. That’s what I was saying. Anyway. You’re ganging up on me and it’s not fair.” Stiles wandered over to the corpse, testing his stomach again, ignoring the full body wince Scott and Allison gave behind his dad. “What do we do with the evil killer horse body?”

 

Derek muttered something about dealing with it and then everyone had places to be – Scott and Allison back to dinner with her father, Cora to wherever she disappeared to nowadays, the Sheriff back to work. Isaac, Stiles and Derek were the only three unable to come up with excuses as they hauled the tarpaulin and shovels from the back of Derek’s car. Digging and burying the creature in a shallow grave. What a date night this was.

Derek looked up from the bottom of the hole he and Isaac had pretty efficiently carved out of the forest floor while Stiles flicked through the lore by the light of Derek’s flashlight. There was nothing that said anything about special burial rituals as far as Stiles could see but it was a useful delaying tactic to prevent him having to do any digging. Derek and Isaac were much stronger than him and he could properly admire Derek’s muscles from this vantage point.

He could tell Derek knew exactly what he was thinking.

“Okay. That’s creepy. Stiles, stop being all turned on by Derek and help me.” Isaac levered himself out of the grave and Stiles helped him drag the corpse over. “The sooner this is over, the sooner you can drop me at the loft and head to Stiles’ house and make out and stuff.” Isaac waved his hand to suggest all the other things he didn’t want to think about.

Stiles was pretty much on board with this plan. “I’m still not sure it’s this easy.”

Isaac rolled his eyes. “I got my shoulder sliced open, remember? There were still insides on the outsides.”

“But you got better.” Stiles shrugged. He was still sure they were missing something. His life wasn’t this perfect. “As did Derek’s abs. And they are—“

“Stiles.” Derek shook his head as he heaved his corner of the tarpaulin. Or, to be more honest, guided his section along the ground while Isaac did all the heavy lifting.

“What?” Stiles handed over his bit of material to Derek when he vaulted out of the grave and waved as the kelpie landed with a wet thump. “There’s no one-“ Stiles nearly jumped out of his skin and he let out a particularly high-pitched scream as a heavy hand landed on his shoulder.

“You need to bury it with a horseshoe,” his dad said into his ear. Stiles could hear the smug grin in his voice as he turned around to see his dad toss Derek a wrapped package. “Had a call from Chris Argent.”

“It would be so much easier if Chris would just give me access to his bestiary, you know. I would only use that knowledge for good.” Stiles folded his arms and let Isaac and Derek fill in the pit. His dad squeezed his shoulder but he didn’t head back to wherever he’d left his car, his usual quiet gait unfairly augmented by werewolf stealth. Stiles silently grumbled about the fact he really, really wouldn’t be getting away with anything for the foreseeable future. Which brought him around to thinking about the one thing he was getting away with and what he might be getting away with relatively shortly. After he’d showered. And Derek had showered. And they could shower together and all would be pretty okay with the world right about there.

Derek shot him a wide eyed glare, eyebrows drawn tight as he shook his head infinitesimally.

“Man, I am looking forward to be home alone,” Stiles said, loudly. Isaac closed his eyes and Stiles knew he was probably wishing, again, that he didn’t know Stiles at all.

His dad snorted, patted his shoulder and headed off. Stiles just sank his head into his hands.

Derek’s heart was hammering as he pushed open Stiles’ window and slipped in. He’d shadowed Stiles all the way back to his house, leaving his car parked around the block in the shadows between two street lights. The few minutes it had taken to run from there to Stiles’ had him thinking through all the horrible things that might have happened to Stiles in the space of time and flipping up the side of the house without even really checking to see if anyone was watching.

It was 3am and he was done with being careful.

“You can come through the front door, now. I can probably talk my dad into a key.” Stiles had his shirt off and his shoes were nowhere to be seen. But he hadn’t managed to undress any further. “Of course, he’d probably be thinking it would be because of werewolf emergencies. Not boyfriend emergencies.”

“This is-“ Derek shrugged. Then he peeled out of his shirt and crossed the tiny space between him and Stiles, wrapping Stiles up in his arms and nuzzling along his neck. Stiles held on just as tight, baring his neck and kissing at Derek’s temple.

“I know.” Stiles kept his voice soft. “We survived. You survived. I didn’t get hurt beyond a few scrapes-“ And Derek held him a little closer at that. “And we defeated the forces of darkness – in a really gross way, to be honest – and we’re here.”

Derek just let Stiles’ familiar, warm scent soak into him for a moment. “You are really gross and muddy.”

“That’s what happens when date night becomes digging grave night.” Stiles pushed Derek away, Derek dropping his arms immediately, and unfastened his belt, shoving his pants down. He left his underwear on for now, gesturing impatiently at Derek. “And now we shower.”

Derek didn’t put up more than a token protest of “Your dad?” He was desperate to get his hands on Stiles, reassure himself that he was fine. There was also the low-level thrum of arousal that always followed a satisfying fight, a bizarre wolf instinct that Derek had rather worried about, wondering if it made him too violent. On the other hand, it wasn’t like he won fights all that often.

Stiles let the water warm up, digging out the fluffy towels while Derek stripped off. Finally they were pressed against each other, warm and wet and kissing, open mouthed and desperate. Derek was supposed to be an adult here, for all Stiles was eighteen now, but he was as eager as a teenager, hard already despite the fact he’d barely done more than step into a shower and press against Stiles. He wasn’t going to be able to hold back long enough to break Stiles apart like he wanted to. This was quick and dirty, hands jerking a little too rough, too fast. This was thank fuck we’re alive sex.

“I want to take you to bed,” Derek gasped, pulling back.

“Just” Stiles twisted his hand, fingers catching at the head of Derek’s cock. “Fuck it. Refractory period is short. Just let me come and then you can…” Stiles hummed against Derek’s throat as Derek tightened his grip. “Let me come and then you can make me come again.”

Derek sped his hand up, pulling out all the tricks he knew to make Stiles come. “Yeah. Think you can get it up again?”

“Think you can, old man?” Stiles wasn’t really moving on his dick anymore, more like holding it and Derek’s shoulder to keep his feet as the water pounded down over their shoulders. Derek bit down, with blunt human teeth, on Stiles’ shoulder and growled while Stiles let out a shout, something that might have been his name, and came. Derek jerked him through it before he let go and wrapped his still sticky hand over Stiles’ fingers, encouraging him to move. He found Stiles’ mouth with his own and panted into it as he spilled over their joined hands.

 

Stiles and he hung out after their shower, lying on the bed, a movie playing on Stiles’ laptop. Derek wondered when he’d become so fascinated with the path between Stiles’ moles. He guessed he could pin it down to the first time Stiles had been seriously hurt and Derek had taken pain from him while Deaton had cleaned and stitched and bandaged. Now, with Stiles wearing low slung pajama pants and nothing else, it was easier to trace the invisible lines. Beacon Hills might be a magical confluence of ley lines but Stiles had as many lines hidden under his skin. Even the faint lines of his scars were fascinating to Derek who had none despite all the pain and wounds he’d taken.

Stiles was playing with his hair, twisting it around and no doubt making it stand up in ridiculous spikes. Derek would normally stop him but that would require moving more than he wanted to.

“Derek? You awake?” Stiles’ voice was low and intimate and Derek wanted to always hear Stiles speaking like that.

“I’m here.” Derek brushed a kiss over the skin closest to him, grinning as Stiles shivered.

“How are we going to tell my dad?” Derek nosed at Stiles’ side before Stiles pushed him away. “About us. In a way that won’t give him a heart attack.”

“He doesn’t have to worry about that anymore, you know.” Derek pulled himself up to his elbows, leaning over Stiles so he could look him in the eyes. “Werewolf healing. He just has to worry about hunters and wolfsbane and alphas and, you know, all that fun stuff.”

“Witches.” Stiles made a face. “Mermaids.” Stiles had really not liked the mermaids, especially after they’d tried to drown him and Scott. He’d sworn it had ruined the beach for him forever. “But no heart attacks. Or, you know, cancer.”

Derek tightened his arms around Stiles.

“Telling my dad was always something we were going to do anyway. I had this whole plan about coming home from college for Winter break and pretending I’d met up with you and then telling him. And being all, no sir, we did not start this while I was still in high school.” Stiles scrubbed his fingers through Derek’s hair. “I’m going to be the worst college roommate, if I manage to graduate high school. My dorm is totally going to be covered in pictures of you and Scott and the rest of the pack.”

Derek pressed another soft kiss to Stiles’ side, listening to him ramble about all the different things he wanted to do and all his ideas about college. Derek was just glad he had Stiles now, for as long as Stiles would have him. Finally Stiles wound up with, “But I think we should probably tell my dad about us. Because he’s going to find out because he’s got that super sniffer on him now.”

Derek agreed, in principal. The thought of telling the Sheriff made his heart beat a little faster and his hackles rise. But they didn’t have to do anything right now. “So, are we done talking? We’re not watching this movie after all.”

The heavy scent of Stiles’ arousal deepened. He dashed across the room to slam his laptop shut and came back, kneeling crawling until he was straddling Derek. “I have no other immediate plans. Why? You got some thoughts?”

“You make me do nothing but think,” Derek teased, letting his fingertips roam up Stiles’ side. Stiles squirmed under him, ticklish, before grabbing Derek’s hand and dragging it up to his mouth. Stiles shot him a stink eye as he licked and tormented Derek’s fingers. Derek pulled them free, after a moment, and kissed Stiles. It started off soft, mouths barely touching, tantalizing. Then it deepened when Stiles parted his lips, letting Derek’s tongue slip in and taste him. He loved it when Stiles gave in to his baser instincts, when he became a mess of want and need and stopped thinking so much about everything. Derek liked that he could do that for Stiles, make him feel good.

That was why he didn’t say anything when Stiles hit him in the head with the lube. Instead he laughed into the kiss, letting his hand stroke down Stiles’ back before cupping his ass through his pants. Stiles rolled against him, cock a hard line against Derek’s belly, and murmured encouragement as Derek eased the pants down, revealing all that smooth skin.

Derek grinned into the kiss. “Stiles? Want to lie down for me?”

“I want to ride you,” Stiles said, rolling his hips again.

“How about you do that after I’ve opened you up, with my mouth?” Derek nudged his mouth against Stiles’ cheek, waiting for the words to sink in. Stiles became a pile of flailing eagerness as he tried to move and get his pants off at the same time.

He hit Derek in the shoulder when Derek laughed at him. “Get to it, Fuzzball.”

Derek just ran his hand down the curve of Stiles’ back, over his ass and held on. “I should be saying something about the magic word.”

“Orgasms?” Stiles raised his head and looked at Derek over his shoulder. “That’s definitely some kind of magic.”

Derek hmmed in agreement as he bent down to kiss the curve of Stiles’ ass, nosing over the smooth, soft skin, licking at little at one of the moles that dotted Stiles’ body. Sometimes he thought this was his favorite mole, especially since he was the only one to see it. He was ridiculous and sentimental and a complete fool when it came to Stiles. He stilled Stiles’ hitching hips by opening him up, the pad of his thumb brushing across Stiles’ hole. He was teasing himself as much as Stiles by now, his cock sending bursts of feeling through him when it hit against the mattress. He knew where this was going to end up but he was going to enjoy getting there.

Stiles let out a high pitched squeak when Derek darted his tongue across his sensitive skin, clenching tight with surprise. But he almost immediately relaxed as Derek lapped at him again and again, broad strokes with the flat of his tongue. It was only when Stiles was making soft, caught sounds that Derek changed his tactics, sharpening his tongue to a point, tracing around the rim and working it inside Stiles, slowly and patiently. Stiles’ taste was strongest here, near enough, even under the soap from earlier and Derek couldn’t get enough, fixing his mouth over Stiles’ hole and sucking. Stiles yelped at that, another sound Derek catalogued and treasured. Every sound was worth treasuring.

Stiles had his hips canted up now, begging with his body for more. Derek used the slick of his spit to work his finger in, licking around it, driving Stiles to distraction. Stiles keened as Derek pulled away, his hips raised up as high as he could get without clambering to his knees. “C’mon, Derek. C’mon.”

Derek had to wrap his hand around the base of his cock, press down to stop himself coming at the sight. “Thought you were going to ride me?” His voice was a little shaky, growls working in amongst the words, but they had the desired effect. Stiles flung the lube backwards and Derek slicked his fingers working them in, before using the remainder to slick up his own cock. With Stiles’ hands on his shoulders, he situated himself against the pillows and let Stiles work himself down, hot and tight. Derek steadied Stiles before reaching for his cock and starting to stroke.

“No.“ Stiles batted his hands away. “I’m going to come on your cock.” Derek grinned at that, planting his feet on the bed to help him thrust up. Stiles was normally too impatient for this but Derek liked holding himself back, waiting until Stiles couldn’t hold on and watching him fall apart.

Stiles fell forward and kissed him, mouth a furnace. He let groans slip into Derek’s mouth when Derek grabbed his ass and fucked up into him, hitting the perfect angle. Stiles’ cock was leaving wet, warm trails on Derek’s abs, leaking as Stiles came closer and closer. “Love you,” Stiles mumbled into Derek’s neck as he fucked himself back, almost too hard. Derek heard the rabbiting of his heart, the way it sped up as Stiles came closer and closer. In a fit of wickedness, Derek traced the stretched, delicate skin of Stiles’ rim with the edge of his nail. “Fucker,” Stiles gasped as he shuddered and came, overwhelmed by sensation. Derek stopped holding back, pulled Stiles close to him and spilled inside him.

Stiles flopped on top of him, a warm blanket, while Derek stroked his hands over Stiles’ back, his ass. “I didn’t hurt you?”

“Oh no,” Stiles muttered. “I mean, I’m going to feel that tomorrow but it’s all good.” Stiles drew out the all, aiming to raise his hand and flop it around but only managing to weakly prod Derek in the side. “All good.”

Derek should insist that Stiles shower, wash off the scent of sweat and come and Derek. He should leave, change the sheets. But he was selfish. Stiles smelled right, happy, sated and his and Derek felt possessive and smug at that. Stiles didn’t seem inclined to move, sliding to Derek’s side and using his chest as a pillow. “Sheets,” he ordered, and Derek pulled the blankets up to cover them. He could hide the evidence later but, for now, he was going to enjoy this for as long as he could.

Derek was asleep against Stiles when he felt more than heard the front door open. Something warned him awake through though the Sheriff was quiet as he softly closed and locked the door, tiptoed up the staircase. He had enough time to slide out of the window and land on the porch as Stiles’ door clicked open. His dad paused, looking over Stiles, before closing the door and making his way to his own bedroom. When Derek heard the shower click on, he clambered back through the window, feeling uncomfortably like he was in some kind of farce.

But it wasn’t like he could run home in just his boxers.

He kissed Stiles, suddenly regretting that he couldn’t stay the night, sneak out and pretend to have not been there anymore. Stiles’ dad was awake and would probably hear his heartbeat and come and investigate and that was…

Derek pressed a quick kiss to Stiles’ slack, sleeping mouth before slipping out again.

They were going to tell the Sheriff, and soon, and damn the consequences. There was no way that they’d be able to hide like this much longer.

Stiles’ alarm was the most evil device known to man. Unfortunately, time and supernatural creatures waited for no man, and Stiles ended up stumbling through to the bathroom after only three blessed presses of the snooze button. It was only when he was wandering back, no time to shower, ready to contemplate clothing choices and breakfast selection that he realized his dad’s door was open. Like, open wide. Unusually. And there was a breeze blowing in through the wide open window.

And his dad’s bed was empty. It had obviously been slept in.

Stiles sprinted back to his room to grab his phone. Derek answered after two rings. “My dad’s not here.”

“He was there when I left. He came home and went to bed. It was only a couple of hours ago.” Derek sounded half asleep at first but Stiles could hear him rummaging around, shrugging on clothes. He also heard the unmistakable jangle of keys. “I’m on my way.” That made Stiles worry, the fact Derek could confirm that his dad had come home safe. And that made Stiles worry about all the things that would be unsafe for his dad now.

Stiles hovered in the hallway, just in case his dad had come back, for a few moments before running back to his room and throwing on clothes. Then he phoned the school, put on a rasping voice and explained that “Stiles wouldn’t be in today.” He fooled no one, probably, but his dad would hopefully cover for him when he…got back.

Stiles chewed most of the skin off his thumb while he waited, in between texting the rest of the pack and telling them to go to school. It was nice that Lydia was the one who protested the most, making Stiles promise to tell her if she could help at all.

Derek made the drive in two thirds of the time he was supposed to.

 

“You weren’t in the room at all?” Derek was taking in deep breaths as he stood in the doorway, one hand caught in Stiles’.

“I stayed out. But the window was open and I don’t know if…” Stiles stuttered to a halt. He didn’t want to voice what he was afraid of. But from the way Derek squeezed his hand tight, he got the idea that Derek understood.

“There was another werewolf here. One I don’t recognize.” Derek pulled Stiles behind him and stepped into the room. “There wasn’t a fight.”

“No mess?” Stiles checked the room. “No blood.”

“No blood,” Derek repeated, drawing in another breath. “He was alive when they left.”

Stiles swallowed against the lump in his throat. He leaned close to Derek, pressing against his leather jacket, letting the familiarity soothe him. His voice sounded like it came from far away when he spoke. “We’re going to get him.”

“And he’ll still be alive,” Derek answered Stiles’ unasked question. “I’ll drive.”

 

They started with Chris Argent, strangely. He didn’t blink, just pulled out a map and checked his guns while Derek and Stiles pored over it. “Allison told me. Wasn’t hunters. As far as I know.”

“Thanks,” Stiles said, tapping his fingers on the paper. Derek watched as he walked his fingertips over the lines and curves. “We start here.”

“Why?” Chris was nodding as he leaned over Stiles’ shoulder. “The kelpie?”

“Yeah. And quarter off from there?” Derek was already heading for the door as Stiles rolled up the plastic covered sheet. “Derek can-“

“You’re with me, Stiles.” Derek tugged him out of the way and into the elevator as Chris locked up. “I’m not letting you go on your own.” Stiles frowned, ready to argue. “I can smell them. You can’t. I can drive quicker. You can’t. And I’m going to kill whoever took your dad.”

Stiles’ eyes gleamed a little but he had pasted on a fierce expression and held out his hand to Chris who sighed before slapping a pistol into Stiles’ hand. “Keep that hidden. I don’t want anyone asking where you got it. Or why you have it.”

“Wolfsbane bullets?” Stiles settled the gun into his hand and Derek tried to ignore the way Stiles was grinning a little reckless and eager. “I’m ready.”

Derek wasn’t exactly worried about the way Stiles didn’t talk as they stomped through the woods. He was focused on the path, the trail he could faintly pick up, the sounds around him. He knew that Stiles would be doing something similar. Stiles and silence weren’t as unacquainted as he’d once thought. Stiles talked to cover up nerves or irritation or boredom. Stiles talked through sex until Derek and he were too far gone to use their mouths for anything other than vague kisses and low, dark moans. When he went silent, focused, he was deadly. Sometimes Derek feared Stiles’ silences, when Stiles took on this hard-edged jawline and straightened his back.

Derek never liked what came out when Stiles was like this.

Derek caught a sudden stronger whiff of strange Alpha and the seaweed smell he’d come to think of as kelpie. It was fresher than the trail they’d been following. “They’re near.”

Stiles went stiff and still, before slowly easing the gun from the holster under his shirt. He looked around and then stifled a soft bitter laugh. “Feels weird hunting in the daylight. Normally I can’t see anything without night vision goggles or a flashlight or something.”

Derek could see why Stiles found it weird. He was mostly glad because it meant that things couldn’t sneak up on them. Didn’t mean they were safe. “Keep behind me?” He knew better than to make it an order – Stiles and he had discussed that at length. Orders weren’t polite. Requests were. – and walked slowly forward without waiting for an answer.

Stiles was quiet behind him still. They came through some tightly packed trees, around a corner, up a slight incline, scent getting stronger all the time. Derek let his claws slip out, felt his jaw elongate, his teeth sharpen.

Another kelpie was waiting for them in the middle of the path.

Stiles dropped behind him as it charged, firing steadily, two-handed. Derek knew the shots would bring Chris running as he ran in, ready to slash and bite. Stiles’ aim wasn’t as good as his dad’s, but he managed to hit the beast in the chest, the mouth. He didn’t practice enough, really. More interested in books and Derek and that was the way he should be. Stiles shouldn’t have ever needed to learn how to fire a gun but Derek was glad he had as the kelpie feel to its knees, wide-eyed and frothing at the mouth as Derek leapt up to give himself enough leverage to punch through its thick hide, aiming for its jugular. The black blood burned as he tore and ripped and shredded.

Stiles slapped another clip into the gun before he pushed up to his feet. He didn’t put the gun away.

Chris Argent didn’t bother hiding his gun as he trotted around the path. He took a look at the beast before raising an eyebrow at Derek who shrugged. “Guess this was the right direction.”

Stiles was still silent as he moved off and Derek followed, Chris falling into step behind them. The woods were quiet and Derek wondered if that was because of the kelpie or just because they were there. This part of Beacon Hills wasn’t one he was particularly familiar with. He didn’t run around the town, marking it all. Instead he stuck to the fraction of land he knew like the back of his hand, the places that mattered to him.

He started making plans to patrol further afield, to get to know more of the area, to try and prevent strange wolves setting up shop. Derek knew it probably wouldn’t work. Things would still get out of hand, slip through the net and get out of control too quickly.

An old, battered trailer sat in the clearing beside the small pond around the next bend. The water level was low and what water remained was muddy and stagnant. There should have been a cloud of insects buzzing over the unclear depth but it was still strangely quiet. The clearing was shady, trees tightly packed around it. It looked like some fishing spot or a place where a family might camp, teenagers finding a secret den to smoke and make out. It didn’t look like the type of place some kidnapping asshole would hole up in.

Derek was probably too accustomed to abandoned buildings.

Chris waved his hand to show he was going to flank the trailer to the right. Stiles moved left, leaving Derek the one right in the path of the beta werewolf who flung open the rusted door and jumped at him. It felt good to let loose, to punch and claw and to toss the half turned man into a tree. The tree gave a satisfying crack when the werewolf smashed into it. Derek readied himself for another attack but the next figure out of the door was an alpha, a woman, who had her claws unsheathed and wrapped around Stiles’ dad’s neck.

“Hey, John?” Chris shouted, not lowering his gun like Stiles had. Derek caught the flick of eyes, the way the Sheriff’s shoulders tightened. He also didn’t miss the way the Alpha’s claws seemed to dig in deeper.

“This is our town,” Derek growled, low and as threateningly as he could. “Let him go and get out.”

The response was a growl, a baring of teeth. Behind Derek, the beta he’d slammed into a tree got up. Stiles aimed his gun at him and he stopped moving.

“Your alpha was the one who bit my dad,” Stiles said. “Let him go and we’ll call it even.” Derek was proud that Stiles’ voice didn’t shake at all, proud that he didn’t drop his arms from where he was aiming at the beta. “I won’t even set the local hunters on you.” Derek caught Chris’ frown but managed not to laugh.

“You killed her,” the Alpha bit out. “And the power passed to me. Not to you.”

Derek shrugged. He didn’t like being reminded of what happened when power passed from one werewolf to another. Stiles had made all sorts of Highlander jokes which weren’t really funny. “She died in a fire. That she set.” He didn’t mention the animal attacks or the fact that the Alpha had apparently set kelpies loose on the population of Beacon Hills.

The Alpha roared, loud and frightening. Derek responded with a roar of his own. He was an established werewolf, he had a secure pack, he had a home and he was in his own territory. He’d fought off creatures that were a thousand times more frightening than her. She wasn’t even a blip on the scale of scary to Gerard Argent. He let more of the change come over him, feeling his shoulders broaden, his ears sharpen. He didn’t go to full wolf because there was a part of him that really didn’t want to walk back through the woods with no pants. He heard Stiles give a soft huff to the side.

Chris pointed his gun as the Alpha tossed the Sheriff to the ground and sprang towards Derek. Now that Stiles’ dad was out of danger, Derek didn’t hold back. He didn’t bother running forward, just bent his knees and jumped, landing heavily on the new Alpha and taking them both down. The world narrowed to teeth and claws and Derek felt an odd sort of peace, the type of peace that came from knowing exactly what to do and how to do it and from not facing any terrible consequences. Fighting an Alpha was still a stretch for him but he’d become sneakier in his moves and she wasn’t used to the new strength yet, an insight he used to land more than his fair share of hits.

He finally got the Alpha pinioned, her arms twisted up behind her back and her face ground quite comprehensively into the dirt. “Here’s my offer now. Leave and I’ll give you a head start.”

“Derek.” The Sheriff was on his feet, wiping the blood from his neck with a sick expression on his face. “They’re scared.”

Derek took a deep breath, his inner self reveling in the thought of him causing that kind of fear in another. It swirled around his head, making him feel a little sick. “Never come back,” he ground out, before slamming her head into the ground once more. Then he pushed up, the few blows she’d landed on him already healing.

Stiles was standing off to one side, his gun pointed at the ground. Chris still had his weapon up and ready, but Derek didn’t think the Alpha was a threat anymore. He took a couple of steps towards Stiles, needing to touch him. Derek didn’t feel quite himself when he fought like that, no holds barred. He didn’t like to feel his control slipping like that, not really. He would have pulled out her spine and roared his triumph to the skies and the bloodlust in the thought made him shiver. Stiles gave him a twisted grin and transferred the gun to one hand, reaching out with the other for Derek and letting him hold it.

Derek heard the Alpha behind him give out a scream that was more crazed than anything he’d heard yet. She was moving before the sound finished echoing dully off the water and Chris’ gun rang out. She howled as she fell before she landed heavily as Derek turned around. The stench of cordite and wolfsbane filled the air. She didn’t move.

There was a scramble from the far side of the clearing as the beta started to run. Derek let him go, holding on to Stiles’ hand.

“So, Derek needs to touch someone in his pack to ground him?” John took the towel Chris had pulled from the back of his truck and wet it with some water from a canteen. He used it to clean the dirt and blood from his neck. The wounds were still healing, something Derek explained took longer when they were inflicted by an Alpha.

“Yeah.” Stiles was nibbling on the side of his thumb, a sign he wasn’t being entirely truthful. His heart also gave a little skip. John grinned widely. This was awesome.

“What else?” He put on his best cool interrogatory look, took in a deep breath and stopped. He sniffed, long and hard. “Stiles?”

“Yeah, Dad?” Stiles’ attention was on Derek who had peeled off his t-shirt and was using it to wipe down the blood off his skin. He wasn’t looking at his dad and he wasn’t looking at Derek in a way John was at all entirely comfortable with.

“Why do you smell like Derek’s…?” Nope. There was no way he could finish that sentence and ever look Stiles in the eye again. “Like Derek?”

“We-“ The skip in Stiles’ heartbeat came even before Stiles managed to get the rest of the sentence out. “We spend a lot of time together.”

“Naked?” That came out a little strangled. “He’s a werewolf, Stiles. And older. Much older.” He turned to gesture at Derek who was standing watching them both with a lost look on his face. The kind of look that said he was entirely guilty and knew he deserved everything that was coming. “You’re only eighteen.”

Stiles’ mouth opened and closed. He shifted, stretching out his hand and letting it fall to his side again.

“And how long have you been… dating Derek?” John was aware his voice was climbing higher and higher. He had maybe been expecting to have this conversation in a very understanding way when Stiles went to college. Or about that Danny kid. But not about Derek Hale. Especially not about Derek Hale.

“Since I was eighteen.” Stiles’ heartbeat was entirely steady. He wasn’t lying. Then he looked his dad full in the face and pasted on his most shit-eating grin, a little wild around the eyes like he got when he was aiming to drive John all the way up the wall. “Because he wouldn’t do anything sooner.”

And now John was having mental images he really didn’t want. He looked between Stiles and Derek and Chris Argent, who was pretending not to listen. And considering the amount of times John had chased Allison and Scott away from inappropriate parking spots, it was the least Chris could do.

John took in another deep breath and coughed, wishing he hadn’t. He never needed to smell his son and Derek’s come mixed together like that ever again. Stiles’ grin just grew wider. “Okay. We’re going home and you’re going to shower and we’re going to talk.” John was actually wagging his finger by the end of his diatribe. “And Chris is giving me a ride because I refuse to smell that in Derek’s car.”

He stomped away to Chris’ car, trying to shake the smell from his nostrils. He even got a sympathetic look from Chris, which was heartening. Derek hadn’t moved, still clutching his t-shirt to his chest. John stopped. Then he grinned. This was just Stiles and him all over.

“By the way, Derek.” Derek stiffened, looking afraid, which would have meant something if John hadn’t basically seen him restrain a crazed werewolf not fifteen minutes again. “Thank you for saving my life.”

Derek stared at him in befuddlement while Stiles collapsed in laughter by the side of Derek’s car as they drove off.

Derek wasn’t sure how long the silence over dinner could last. He’d dropped Stiles off at home three hours ago, gone to the loft, told Isaac the whole story and showered until his skin bore no traces of Stiles or anyone else. Isaac had still been laughing at him when he came out, especially when he waved Derek’s phone at him.

There was a message asking Derek to come to dinner at the Stilinski house. Derek had listened to Isaac continue to laugh at him and then phone Scott so they could both laugh at him some more. Part of Derek was actually quite happy that Isaac was enjoying this, was laughing as freely and happily as he was. Isaac didn’t laugh like this a whole lot. That feeling had to jostle for space with the leaden ball of fear that was settling solidly into his belly. He had no reason to be scared of the Sheriff even though he had guns and – shit, Stiles hadn’t given Chris the wolfsbane bullets back. He could do some serious damage.

Derek would do what Stiles wanted, he knew. And if Stiles wanted to break up with him because his dad wasn’t happy, he could deal. He wouldn’t be happy but he was half waiting for the other shoe to drop anyway. Anytime he started to feel settled and happy, something shit happened and it was probably safer for Beacon Hills if he just didn’t date. He would go over there and let Stiles break up with him and he’d talk about pack training and that would be it. It would be hell until Stiles went away to college and Derek didn’t have to see him around all the time but he could cope.

He rubbed at his chest and looked around the dinner table. Stiles didn’t seem like he was going to do it here. He wasn’t cruel. He would probably ask his dad to give them some time alone and tell Derek to back off then. But it made eating hard, even though the Sheriff was making satisfied noises, like the steak in front of him was the best thing he’d ever tasted.

Finally he put his knife down and looked at Derek and Stiles. Derek had managed to choke down a few mouthfuls but his plate was pretty untouched. Stiles’ was still full. And Stiles smelled only of soap and Stiles and his detergent. Derek started to panic.

“How long? Has this been going on? Since you knew about werewolves? Because you were sixteen then? And Lydia? What was that all about?” The Sheriff leaned back in his seat, folded his arms. They were obviously going nowhere until his questions were answered.

Stiles shot a flat look at his dad from under his eyelashes before heaving out a sigh. Then he grabbed for Derek’s hand, pulled it onto his lap and twined his fingers with Derek’s, holding on tight. “Okay. So maybe I left a few things out of the story. But you weren’t dealing well with the whole knowing about werewolves. I didn’t want to make it any harder for you.”

Derek read the look on Stiles’ face as stubborn but he knew Stiles was bullshitting.

“I was worried how you’d take it,” Derek put in. He ignored the sharp shake of Stiles’ head. “I worried a lot about it. About Stiles.” Derek could feel his shoulders rising and he rolled them to try and appear more comfortable. “I was worried about his age.”

“So there was a whole lot of worry. And I didn’t want you to have any of it.” Stiles waved his free hand to try and answer some of his dad’s questions. He didn’t let go of Derek, squeezing his hand even more tightly. “And I didn’t know how you’d react to the whole… guy thing.”

The Sheriff looked hurt, shock and pain on his face. “Why wouldn’t I react well to that?”

Stiles shrugged. Derek opened his mouth and closed it again. He couldn’t think what to say. In fact, he could barely think at all. His mind was a mess of white fuzz, static. They all sat in quiet for a moment.

“It’s more the age thing,” Stiles’ dad began. “And the secrecy.”

“Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have hidden that.” Stiles’ mouth twisted in a mockery of his usual grin. “Bad things happen when we keep secrets around here. Normally it’s Scott’s fault though.” He leaned against Derek for a moment, pressing their shoulders together. “And the age thing… You were older than Mom, right?”

“Yeah, but we didn’t start dating when she was in high school.” The Sheriff ran his hands through his hair in a movement that was so similar to Stiles that Derek smiled. He wondered if he had any of his dad’s mannerisms. Or his mom’s. He didn’t think the ability to shift into full wolf form counted as a mannerism. The fact he wouldn’t ever be facing this kind of questioning from his mom and dad, Stiles and him having to explain themselves to them, made him duck his head, squeeze Stiles’ hand a little tighter.

“Okay. Eat your food before it gets cold. And you can let go of Derek. He’s my pack; I’m not going to shoot him.” The Sheriff shrugged and cut into his steak again. Stiles finally attacked his dinner while Derek picked up his fork and prodded at his salad.

He finally gave in and blurted out, “Are you sure?”

The Sheriff threw him an ‘are you shitting me’ look, one he tended to receive more from Stiles than anyone else. “Sure? Yeah.”

“It’s a big deal,” Stiles put in. “I mean. It’s this whole special werewolf thing as well as being, like, amazing and cool to me. You shouldn’t do it just because Derek and I are…”

“Dating.” Derek watched as the Sheriff shivered, obviously trying to shake some images from his head. “And it’s not because of that.”

Everyone ate in silence for a few moments. The steak tasted better now, less like cardboard, and Derek was able to choke down some potato as well. This silence was slightly more comfortable than the last one but Derek was mentally counting in his head. He got to twenty-three before Stiles spoke up.

“Well, why then?” Stiles continued to stab at his steak, mauling it more than cutting it.

“I trust Derek.” The Sheriff shrugged. “I’d like it better if he had a job and I’m still not one hundred percent on board with you two but you’re an adult, now, in age anyway. And Derek is going to have to come to family dinner more often and sometimes he’s not getting you because I need time with my son. But he saved your life and mine. And if anything happens to me, he’ll look after you. That’s why.” He stopped to take a drink and Derek found he couldn’t move. He’d never had anyone just accept him like that. There had always been pain and argument and a whole lot of water under the bridge before his shaky pack had started to strengthen. “Come on, before it gets cold.”

“I’m, um, looking into the gym thing,” Derek offered, when he got his voice back. Stiles squeezed his leg before starting to eat more enthusiastically.

The Sheriff put down his glass, before smiling at Derek. “Yeah? Tell me what you’re thinking about.”