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Lead You Home Again

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The first time Derek meets Stiles, the kid’s brown eyes are wide, and he’s staring up at him with a mischievous grin as he tugs at the arm of Derek’s first ever Batman figure like he’s trying to separate it from Batman’s body. Derek had to beg and plead with his parents to let him have that figure and if this kid thinks he’s getting away with that, he’s got another thing happening.

But before he can do anything, his mom is sweeping into the room, laughing with Mrs. Stilinski and saying “Derek, this is Stiles. You remember Mrs. Stilinski, don’t you?” and Derek nods, awkward and shy in front of adults who aren’t his parents. Stiles chooses that moment to tug on Derek’s shirt, his sticky hands leaving chocolate on the green fabric, and he holds out the figure to Derek with a bashful smile.

“Sorry,” he says, his feet scuffing against the carpeted floor. “I wasn’t trying to break it.” Stiles bites his lip and looks up at him, making his eyes wider, which Derek is sure shouldn't be possible. “Can we play?” Stiles asks, his cheeks flushing.

Derek looks over at his mom, and she nods, her lips thinning as she raises an eyebrow at him, saying “be good,” with a warning tone. Derek knows what that means; that Stiles is human, and he needs to be careful, needs to control himself, and not let the wolf out to hurt Stiles. The trust his mom is putting in him makes Derek’s chest feel warm, and he grasps Stiles’ little hand in his own and pulls him towards the playroom.

“What else have you got?” Stiles bounces on his feet, eyes greedily looking around the playroom.

“D’you wanna do a puzzle?” Pulling out one from the pile in the corner, Derek balances it in one hand and hands the box to Stiles.

“Puzzles are kind of boring,” Stiles says, his fingers tapping against the box. “Can we play with your action figures some more?”

Derek’s face falls, he really wanted to do the puzzle, Laura never wants to do puzzles with him anymore, and he really likes them. “I’ve got a puzzle that has superheroes on it?”

Shifting from foot to foot, Stiles puts the puzzle box he’s got on the ground and nods, a smile spreading across his face. “Yeah, that sounds good!”

The afternoon passes peacefully, after they do the puzzle, Derek gets the action figures out and discovers that Stiles doesn’t get tired of making up stories. They play for hours, not even stopping to ask for snacks; eventually they get tired, and when Mrs. Stilinski comes in to get Stiles, she finds them curled up on a cushion together, almost totally asleep.

“Kiddo, c’mon, time to go home and see daddy.” Scooping Stiles up in her arms, his head drooping on her shoulder, Mrs. Stilinski stands up.

“Wanna stay with Derek,” Stiles mumbles, his hands fisting in his mom’s top.

“I know, honey, but we’ve gotta go home.”

Derek scrambles to his feet, his eyes on Stiles and Mrs. Stilinski. “He can come back,” Derek says, tripping over his words in his eagerness to see Stiles again. “Please? He’s — I had fun.”

Mrs. Stilinski kneels down and touches Derek’s cheek with a smile. “That’s very kind of you, Derek.” Stiles lifts his head from his mom’s shoulder and grins at Derek, waving goodbye as they leave the house.

*

After that afternoon, Stiles is always around. They spend the summer playing outside, running through the trees; even though Stiles is smaller, his legs shorter, he doesn’t stumble that often. Sometimes Derek hears Stiles’ lungs struggling to keep up, so he stops, feigning tiredness, and they lie down on the ground, staring up at the blue skies. It’s peaceful being around Stiles, Derek feels settled in a way he doesn’t when he’s at school; there’s a warmth in his stomach that he doesn’t quite understand, but he likes it.

Stiles meets Scott at school, and Scott joins them to play sometimes, but he’s got asthma and his dad always yells at him whenever he joins Derek and Stiles in the woods. It’s not nice, and Stiles tells Derek about how mean Mr. McCall is, and how he feels bad because he wishes Mr. McCall would go away, but he doesn’t want Scott to not have a dad.

They invite the Stilinskis over for Thanksgiving that year, and during the preparations Derek tells his mom that Stiles settles the wolf. His mom drops the bowl she’s holding, and Derek gasps, but she ignores the mess and kneels down to meet his eyes. “Are you sure?” she asks, her eyes serious, and Derek nods furiously.

“It feels calm when he’s around, like it was with you an’dad when I was little.” When he says that, she smoothes her hands down his shoulders and she looks like she’s about to cry. “Is that a bad thing?” Derek asks in a small voice.

“No, sweetheart. It’s not a bad thing at all.” His mom bites her lip and touches his face with her fingers. “You — you’re very lucky. Stiles is going to be important to you. Don’t forget that.”

*

Almost two years pass, during which Stiles treats Derek’s house like a second home. He has birthday parties there; helps plot with Derek against Laura; is sitting on the couch clutching homemade cupcakes when Derek comes back from his first day at high school. Stiles is there so often, his scent mixes into the house, and sometimes Derek finds himself standing in the hall inhaling Stiles’ scent, enjoying the peace it brings him.

Everything’s normal until one day Stiles comes over to the house, his face tired and drawn; Laura puts him in a headlock, which usually makes Stiles giggle, breaking any mood he’s in, but this time he freaks out and starts crying. Letting go of him instantly, Laura steps back in shock, and Stiles turns on his heel, running out of the house, and heading towards the woods.

Derek snarls at her and gets scolded by his mom, flashing her red eyes at him; Derek’s body flood with shame, because he knows better than to wolf out at Laura, he does, but she made Stiles cry.

“Can I go and find Stiles? Please? It’s still light and he’s upset. I — I need to find him.”

It only takes a moment for his mom to let him go, and then Derek’s tearing through the woods, tracking Stiles by the scent he knows almost as well as his own.

Derek finally finds him curled up under a tree, not too far from where they usually play. He’s wiping his eyes, his hair flopping over his face, the bitter sense of sadness floating around him; he doesn’t move when Derek sits next to him, just leans into Derek a little. Shifting awkwardly, Derek nudges Stiles with his elbow. “What’s going on?”

Sniffing, Stiles blinks and rests his head against Derek’s shoulder, twisting his hands in his lap. “My mom’s sick.”

“Like the flu?”

“We were watching Jungle Book and then her voice started going funny during a song, and her face — I was really scared.”

Derek isn’t really sure what to say; human illnesses scare him, he doesn’t like how fragile humans are, how they could go away at any time. He doesn’t want Mrs. Stilinski to go away, doesn’t want Stiles to lose anyone. Clearing his throat, Derek pushes those thoughts down. “Where is she?”

“In the hospital, with my dad. I called 911 when she started acting funny and they came and got her, and I went with them in the ambulance.”

Curling his arm around Stiles’ shoulders, Derek suppresses the feeling that he should’ve been there with Stiles, should’ve been helping him somehow. “If your dad’s at the hospital, how did you get here?”

“Dad didn’t want me to stay for all the tests, so he got a deputy to drive me where I wanted to go.” Stiles shrugs. “I wanted to come here.”

“Want to go back to the house?” Derek squeezes Stiles’ shoulder. “Mom won’t let Laura put you in a headlock again.”

Stiles laughs wetly and nods, shuffling forward a little before getting to his feet. Brushing the dirt off his pants, Stiles shrugs and sticks his hands in his pockets. “Okay.”

They make their way through the trees, both of them know the route by heart, so there’s no need for Derek to use his senses. When they reach the house, Derek’s mom is standing on the porch and the waves of sadness coming off her almost overwhelm Derek. Holding it together, Derek watches as Stiles flings himself in Derek’s mom’s arms; she gently rubs Stiles’ back, holding him close as his fingers grip her clothes.

“It’s okay, sweetheart. You can stay here as long as you want.” Looking up, she nods at Derek. “Stiles’ dad called the house, and I’ve explained things to your sister. Why don’t you and Stiles go inside and pick what we’re having for dinner?”

“I get to choose?” Stiles says, craning his neck to look at Derek’s mom. “Really?”

“Of course.”

When Stiles’ dad comes to pick him up, Stiles’ shoulders slump a little, his hands twisting together. There's a hushed conversation between the adults, and a warning glare from his mother that stops Derek from listening in. Derek takes in the strain on Stiles’ dad’s face and doesn’t think that this is good news.

Later, Derek curls up on the couch with his mom in a way he hasn’t done for years, and rests his head on her lap. “Mom?”

“Yes?”

“You could — if we told the Stilinskis about us, could you save Stiles’ mom?”

“Derek —”

“I’m not asking you to tell them,” Derek says quickly. “I know the reasons we don’t tell people, but it’s Stiles and it’s his mom.”

“I know, sweetheart, I know.” Her fingers comb through his hair. “If I thought Claudia would take it, I’d tell them. Your father and I were going to tell them soon, but now we don’t want to add stress to their lives.”

“How do you know she wouldn’t take it?” Derek twists his fingers in his mom’s skirt. “The — it’s a gift.”

“It is, and I hope you remember that, but the thing is that not everyone wants the same gift. Claudia, I think she’d see it as cheating. You remember when Gram died?”

“When you became Alpha.”

“It passed to me, yes. She told me, before she died, that sometimes people know when it’s their time to go.”

Derek takes it in, his face scrunching up, thinking about how kind Mrs. Stilinski is to him, how she trusts him with Stiles. “But Stiles is going to lose his mom.”

“He is.”

“It’s not fair.”

“No, honey. It’s not.”

*

Claudia has another stroke five months later, and she doesn’t leave the hospital again; she gets weaker and weaker, unable to do simple things like hold a cup. It’s terrifying, but Stiles tries to smile through it, even though sometimes Derek catches him sitting by the elevators with his head in his hands, looking older than any eight year old should.

Derek’s visiting her with his mom the day the doctors tell Stiles’ dad that they don’t think she’ll make it through the night. Stiles doesn’t want to leave her side and Derek feels an overwhelming urge to stay with him, asks his mom if it’s okay. After conferring with Stiles’ dad, she looks at him with sad eyes and says he can.

Stiles is curled up with his mom on the small hospital bed, her frail hand resting on Stiles’ head; the bitter lemon stench of the building has infected Derek’s senses, but he doesn’t even think about leaving. Hitching his legs up in the chair by the bed, Derek continues pressing buttons on his DS, trying to pick out Stiles’ scent amongst the hospital smells. It’s comforting, and he’s close to sleep when he picks up on something else and —

After that, it’s all a blur.

The machines monitoring Claudia start to beep, and Stiles wakes up in a panic, his hair mussed as he stares in horror at his mom. The nurses move Stiles out of the way, and Derek reaches for him, holding onto his shoulders tightly. The room fills with hospital people and Stiles cries out for his mom, the pain evident in his voice. They try and force Derek and Stiles out of the room, but Stiles struggles, won’t let them do it and then the noises stop.

There’s nothing but silence and Stiles goes limp underneath Derek’s grip.

They don’t let them stay after that, a nurse takes them out into the hall and hands Derek a blanket that Derek drapes over Stiles’ shoulders. There’s no reaction from Stiles, and all Derek can do is hold Stiles’ hand until John comes bursting through the doors.

*

Everything changes after that, and Derek doesn’t know what to do. Stiles still comes over to the house, but he’s quieter; preferring to sit by the window and read a book instead of running in the woods with Derek. It doesn’t bother Derek, not really, he likes reading, and he’s happy to stay near Stiles whatever he’s doing.

Two months after his mom dies, Stiles turns up at the house with a shaved head, his jaw set like he’s daring Derek to say something about it. Derek wouldn’t know what to say even if he wanted to say anything — Stiles feels so far away from him that Derek’s sometimes at a loss about how to talk to him.

Laura doesn’t have any such problems; she rubs a hand over Stiles’ skull and tells him he’s lucky he has a nicely shaped head, which makes Stiles smile. Derek’s bitterly jealous; it’s been a long time since Stiles has smiled like that at him.

*

The gap between them grows wider when Derek starts his sophomore year at high school. Between lacrosse, extra classes, and trying to control his wolf, Derek barely sees Stiles. After school one day, Derek tries to call Stiles to hang out, but no one answers. Derek slams the phone down in the cradle and claws at the wall.

“Derek Hale, what on earth do you think you’re doing?” His mom’s voice is sharp as she yells at him from the kitchen.

“I didn’t —” Pulling his claws out of the wall, Derek’s face flushes red and he sighs heavily. “I’m sorry.”

Coming out of the kitchen, his mom sits on the couch and gestures for Derek to join her. “Come on,” she says. “Come talk to me.”

Reluctantly sitting down next to her, Derek tries to get enough control over himself to make his claws vanish. It takes longer than he’s used to, and that scares him. “I don’t know what’s happening,” he says softly.

“Why did you decide to claw the wall up?”

“Stiles — he wasn’t answering the phone.”

“How long has it been since you’ve seen him?”

“I don’t know.” Derek looks at his mom, his hands shaking slightly. “What’s happening to me?”

Stroking a hand over Derek’s hair, his mom makes a noise in the back of her throat. “Nothing’s happening to you. You — do you remember how I told you Stiles would be important to you?”

“Yes.”

“I’m afraid I didn’t realise how important he’d be. Stiles is — we talked about anchors.”

Derek’s eyes widen and he almost chokes on air. “But he can’t —”

“Not yet. But he could be, your wolf senses that he could be, and because you’re a teenager, and you haven’t seen him for a while, it’s acting out.”

“What am I meant to do?”

“You understand that it’ll never go away? That Stiles will always be important to you?”

“I do, but I —” Derek breaks off with a frustrated noise. “I can’t do this to him. Not now. Not after his mom.”

“Then you give him space. Your wolf will calm, and you’ll be able to stay in control.”

Derek doesn’t like it; he hates the idea of not seeing Stiles, but Stiles is a kid, and he can’t put this on him. Not now.

Instead of spending Friday nights at the Stilinski house with Stiles and sometimes Scott, Derek starts going out with his teammates. It’s awkward at first, he’s never really done any socialising like this before, but it becomes a regular thing, and soon he’s only seeing Stiles every few weeks. His wolf calms down, but there’s a churning in Derek’s gut like what he’s doing is wrong. He doesn’t know how to fix it without Stiles.

*

Four months after his sixteenth birthday — the first birthday Stiles didn’t come over for since they met — Derek goes to the movies with his teammates. He’s loitering outside the movie theatre, waiting for the rest of the team to arrive when a woman approaches him and asks for a light. She’s blonde, ridiculously pretty, and smiling a smile that Derek’s never had aimed at him before.

“I, uh. I don’t smoke,” he says, scratching the back of his head with one hand. “Sorry.”

“Well, I guess you wouldn’t be as adorably hot as you are if you did smoke. I’m Kate,” she says, sticking her hand out for him to shake.

“Derek,” he says, and he’s sure the hand he offers her is clammy, but she doesn’t say anything; just smiles at home again. The rest of the team arrive not long after that, and they shoot him questioning looks as he stands there.

“Here.” Kate hands him a piece of crumpled up paper with numbers scribbled on it. “You should call me.”

When she walks away, Derek’s left staring dumbly after her, his teammates slapping him on the back and dragging him into the movie theatre, each one of them saying something lewder than the last.

*

Her number sits in Derek’s pocket for days before he calls her. Kate sounds excited down the phone line as she gives him her address. There’s a nagging feeling that this is strange, because he’s sure there’s meant to be more lead up than just — but she’s hot, and he wants this, so he goes.

They don’t go anywhere; Derek feels awkward in her apartment, but then she’s kissing him as a movie plays on the television and Derek goes with it. He’s overly eager, but she slows it down, controlling the kiss, controlling him, and Derek has to ignore the way his wolf whines at that; the idea that he’d let anyone other than his alpha control him, because he wants this — wants to be a dumbass teenage boy for once.

One night she asks how old he is, and Derek thinks about lying, because maybe she won’t want to see him anymore if he tells her the truth, but he doesn’t go through with it. When he tells her he’s almost seventeen, she smiles, palms his dick through his jeans and asks if anyone’s ever given him a blow job before.

Things speed up after that, and the next thing Derek knows, he’s playing hooky and sneaking Kate into the house so they can fuck on his bed. He doesn’t hate it, but it’s not what he’s expecting either; there’s a part of Derek that feels used, especially when she leaves after taking a quick shower, pressing an almost cold kiss against his lips.

It doesn’t happen again at the house, and Derek’s okay with that — he was so paranoid his mom would smell a stranger’s scent, he’d spent the rest of the day cleaning up, making sure no trace of Kate was left behind.

Derek sneaks around so much that when he next sees Stiles, it’s been almost a year since he spent any significant time with Stiles. He never meant to leave it that long, and he hates the way Stiles looks at him like he’s a stranger. They head out into the woods, trying to make it seem like it was when they were younger, but Derek doesn’t know if he can fix this. If maybe it’s been too long.

When they reach a clearing, Derek throws the football at Stiles, tells him to make him run, and Stiles does as Derek asks. Derek chases the football all over the preserve, trying to exhaust himself so he doesn’t have to think about anything.

“Here.” Stiles limply throws the football at Derek. “My arm hurts.” Sitting on the grass, Stiles stretches his legs out in front of him and stares up at Derek. “I saw you with someone.

Derek stands stock still and avoids meeting Stiles’ eyes. “You saw me?”

“Yeah.” Stiles shrugs, looking down at the half dead grass, picking at it. “I’m not going to tell anyone.”

“How do you know people don’t know already?” Derek gives up any pretence and joins Stiles on the ground, not daring to sit too close to him.

“Because if they did, you wouldn’t be sneaking into her car after school.” Stiles eyes him, his eyes narrowing. “I’m right, aren’t I?”

“You’re too smart.”

“That’s what my teachers say.” Stiles is silent after that, keeps his eyes on the ground, and Derek almost drifts off listening to the familiar sound of Stiles’ heartbeat. “I miss hanging around with you,” Stiles says, poking at a hole in his jeans. “I know you’re doing all that gross stuff with a girl, but it’s like you’re not ever around anymore.”

A weight sinks in Derek’s stomach and he can feel the guilt seeping through his veins. Shuffling a bit closer, Derek nudges his shoulder against Stiles’. “I’m sorry. I didn’t — There’s things that I — I didn’t mean to abandon you, Stiles.”

“Well you kind of did, dude.”

And Derek knows Stiles is right, knows that he can’t explain why he had to do this, but he can’t — there’s no way he’s ever going to do this again. He needs Stiles as much as Stiles needs him. “I really am sorry. I know things haven’t been — since your mom died — but I’m always going to be here for you, Stiles. Whatever else I’m doing, that’s not going to change.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

*

Derek’s watching Transformers with Stiles when he notices there’s a message on his voicemail, and he listens to it as Stiles attempts to do a handstand. It’s Kate, telling him she’s leaving town, and it doesn’t hurt as much as he thought it would. It stings that she didn’t tell him face to face, but he — he doesn’t feel anything.

“What’s wrong?” Stiles asks, clambering back onto the couch and poking him in the thigh.

“Uh, nothing,” Derek says, shaking his head and reaching for the popcorn. “What are we watching?”

“Nothing until you tell me what’s wrong. Your face went all funny.”

For a ten year old, Stiles is obnoxiously perceptive sometimes. Stuffing a handful of popcorn in his mouth, Derek chews, trying to keep his eyes on the screen as Stiles watches him. Swallowing the popcorn, Derek rolls his eyes. “That girl I was seeing?”

Wrinkling his nose, Stiles nods. “Yeah?”

“She’s left Beacon Hills.”

“Oh.” Stiles’ face drops and he bites his lip. “Are you okay?”

Grinning, Derek wrestles Stiles into a headlock, scrubbing a hand over his shaved head, ignoring the squawks Stiles lets out. Stiles’ flailing arms knock over the popcorn and Derek grabs some with one hand, mushing it against Stiles’ face; laughing at the way Stiles tries to spit it away. Eventually, Derek lets go of Stiles and they lean against the couch, Stiles’ breath coming in heavy gasps. Derek brushes a hand over Stiles’ head and nods. “I’m okay, Stiles.”

*

It’s not until his mom calls a pack meeting a month later that Derek realises the implications of what he’s done, the choices he’s made. She stands at the head of the table, tells them about hunters in town.

Tells them to be careful, and then she says the name that hits Derek in the chest.

Argent.

Kate Argent.

Derek’s skin flushes and he’s sure everyone at the table can sniff out his secrets, what he’s been hiding. Uncle Peter is looking at him consideringly, and Derek can’t take it, pushes his chair back as soon as his mom dismisses them and runs to his room.

Breathing heavily, Derek presses his claws into his palms as punishment for his stupid, stupid decisions. Laura comes back to town tomorrow, and both of them are going to the Stilinski’s house for dinner. He’ll tell Laura, and she’ll help him decide how to tell mom what he’s done.

*

The next day, they’re on the couch at the Stilinski’s house eating pizza; Stiles grins around a slice while Laura tells him tales about college. She’s only down at USC, but it still seems like a world away to Derek, so it must seem alien to Stiles. It’s peaceful, Die Hard on the television as they talk, the recently elected Sheriff dozing in his chair.

Then John’s work phone rings; Derek can tell it’s the work phone because Stiles stiffens, and he’s taken to hating whenever his dad gets called in on his nights off. Derek doesn’t listen in, but he notices when John’s pulse quickens as he listens to whatever the person on the other end is saying and it must be bad because he ducks out of the room to continue. Derek’s momentarily distracted, but then Stiles challenges Derek to eat a slice in under a minute and Derek, well, he’s a sucker for bets involving food.

He’s choking down the slice when John comes back in, his face ashen, and Laura’s the first one to voice the question. “What is it?”

“There’s been a fire at your house,” John says, his eyes filled with sorrow. “We have to go.”

They all pile into the cruiser, and it’s not far into the journey that Derek starts to smell smoke, and he can tell Laura’s picked up on it as well by the way her hands twist together on her lap. It can’t — what he’s smelling can’t be true. It can’t. Stiles is between he and Laura and when Derek looks over, he can see Stiles’ brow furrowing. As they get closer to the house, the lights from the fire engines and paramedics provide a garish view of the water hitting the flames.

John opens the door and the smell of burnt flesh chokes Derek, bile in his stomach rising up, and he’s forcing his own door open and vomiting on the ground. Crawling over the seats, Stiles rests his hand against Derek’s back, rubbing in circles until Derek’s finished. When he straightens up, Laura’s already out of the car, standing a good distance away from the house, tears running down her face as John holds her up.

She — if she’s not alpha yet, then that means their mom is still alive. But Derek can’t understand why they’re not outside, why they didn’t leave as soon as they realised there were flames. It’s not until he’s moved close to Laura that he understands why. There’s wolfsbane all around the house, it’s burning into the ground as the flames rage and Derek can’t take another step closer because he can feel it seeping into his skin.

Laura whines, turns and buries her face in Derek’s shoulder, squeezing her eyes shut. He touches her neck, and when she looks at him, her eyes are alpha red. “Mom,” he breathes out, not taking his eyes off the house, feeling the sting of unshed tears.

Stiles comes up beside him, rubbing his eyes from the smoke and ash falling around them and Derek wraps an arm around him when Stiles tentatively leans against Derek. Comfort of the pack will help you heal, his mom had always said. Derek’s not sure there is any healing for this, but he’ll take what he can get.

*

It’s hazy after that. Derek knows Kate did it; he tried calling her, just to see if she’d answer, to see if it wasn’t her, but the number was disconnected. The vet, Deaton, approaches Laura, tells her that he’s an emissary, whatever the fuck that means. Apparently Laura needs him to help her with her transition to an alpha. What it means to Derek is that she’s not there, that she’s not with him when he needs her.

John insists they move in with him and Stiles, and Derek’s pathetically grateful for the gesture. Laura has school to go back to eventually, but Derek has nowhere else to go and he feels safe here in the Stilinski’s basement.

He finds himself wearing John’s clothes for three days before Stiles realises and drags him out shopping. Laura had already done been out, had to buy clothes in order to deal with all the legal crap Derek’s been ignoring because he can. There’s a part of him that feels guilty about leaving Laura to deal with it all, but he can’t be at these meetings with lawyers, knowing that it’s his fault everyone is dead.

Derek buries himself in the basement most days, pulling blankets over his head and ignoring Laura. The only person who comes and joins him is Stiles, and he never even says a word to Derek; simply sits on the floor with his stuffed wolf, or curls up on the bed like he did with his mom in the hospital. His scent fills the room, bouncing off the concrete walls and simply having Stiles there is a comfort; the only comfort Derek will allow himself to have.

*

Laura comes home and tells everyone that she’s deferred school until Derek finishes high school and, no. That’s not what Derek wants at all. He wants out of Beacon Hills, wants to leave this town behind, and he thinks about saying it out loud, but then Stiles is looking at him with a hopeful smile on his face, and Laura’s trying so hard not to alpha Derek into anything that he —

He doesn’t say a word.

He’s done enough to fuck everything up.

*

“We don’t want a funeral.” Laura looks up from the paperwork she’s been going through. “They wouldn’t want that, especially since they’re not —” she breaks off, her lips thinning when she presses them together. “A memorial service is fine.”

John examines her face and nods. “I’ll call someone I know. They’re good people.”

Slumping in his chair, Derek picks at the cuff of his hoodie. “Do we have to invite people?”

“Derek —”

“What?” Shooting a look at Laura, he shrugs. “The only people who care are in this house.”

Sighing, Laura pushes her chair back from the table and raises her hands in surrender, a gesture Derek hasn’t seen her do since she inherited the alpha powers. “I’m not doing this now.” Abandoning the papers on the kitchen table, she walks out of the house, closing the door behind her.

Derek can hear her elevated heartbeat from where he sits, staring at the table with a blank look on his face. She’s not moving from outside the house, the rustle of her clothing makes Derek think she’s sitting on the step and then he hears it; hears the hitch in her breath that means she’s trying hard not to cry. He feels like shit.

Swallowing, he glances over at John and shakes his head. “I didn’t — I don’t.” Derek reaches for the papers on the table, his trembling fingers picking up a stapled bundle, eyes glancing over words like ‘insurance’, ‘in the event of death’ and no, he can’t do this. The papers fall from his hands and Derek finds himself covering his face with one hand, hot tears spilling down his cheeks as John presses a hand to his shoulder.

“It’s okay, kid.” John’s voice is soft and warm, his hand squeezing slightly, and all the fight leaves Derek’s body; the exhaustion he feels overwhelming his body. “Let it out.”

He’s wiping his eyes when Laura comes back into the house; she heads straight for him and pulls him into a tight hug. “We can do this,” she’s saying. “We can.”

Derek holds on and tries to put faith in her words.

*

The memorial service passes in a blur of sympathy and suffocating fragrances. Stiles and his dad stick close to Derek and Laura, knowing when to move people along, and Derek can’t stop the thought echoing in his brain that it’s not that long ago they had to go through this themselves. When they all get home, Derek can see the strain on both their faces and he hates that he put them through this, that his own stupidity made them have to relive the worst time of their lives.

Life becomes a numbing, grey, routine. He goes to school, does his work and passes his tests. When the school realises that he’s not socialising like he did before, they make him see the guidance counsellor. She doesn’t seem too impressed with Derek’s answers to her questions, but there’s nothing he wants to say to her, or anyone else. No one else tries to make him talk; Laura knows how he works, John doesn’t want to push him, and Stiles — Stiles sits with him. Sometimes he talks about his day, talks about Scott, about what they’re doing at school, but most of the time he sits with Derek in a comfortable silence.

Stiles is spread out on the floor, chewing on the end of a pen as he works through his math problems. There’s the soft scratch whenever Stiles scribbles something down, the hushed tone of his voice as he sings to himself. Derek’s sprawled on the small bed they managed to get down there, holding his copy of Hamlet above his head with one hand and taking comfort in Stiles being with him.

It’s dangerous to rely on Stiles so much, Derek knows this. Laura’s seen it, told him as much, but Derek doesn’t know what to do. It’s not that Stiles is Derek’s anchor — not yet — but with his family gone, Derek doesn’t know how to explain it. Stiles settles the wolf, and it makes Derek’s stomach churn because Stiles is still too young for such responsibility, he shouldn’t be the person Derek ties himself to like this.

The wolf claws at him each time Derek thinks about leaving, which means he needs to. Once he’s graduated, he and Laura need to get the hell out of Beacon Hills.

*

“Are you sure?” Laura leans against the trunk of a tree, her eyes fixed on Derek. “You don’t have to — I can go back to school by myself. You should be happy, Derek.”

“I can be happy with you.”

“What are you going to do when I’m in classes? You know I don’t care that you don’t want to go to school, but you need to give me something to work with.”

Derek shrugs, scuffing his foot in the dirt. He hasn’t really thought about it, hadn’t thought about anything except getting out of Beacon Hills. “There’s community colleges in LA, right?”

Laura hesitates before nodding once. Untwisting her fingers, she stares past Derek and pushes herself away from the tree. “I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m your sister before I’m your alpha, but you’re punishing yourself for something and I wish you’d talk to me about it.” Tilting her head, she meets Derek’s eyes. “I know you’re not going to, but I wish you would.”

Derek doesn’t know what to say to that, pulls the cuffs of his leather jacket over his sleeves and hunches over, staring at the ground. “I can’t.”

“And that’s okay for now. But one day, Derek. One day.”

Nodding reluctantly, Derek shoves his hands in his pockets and shifts from foot to foot. “Can we go back now?”

“Yeah,” Laura says with an almost inaudible sigh. “Yeah, we can.”

*

“You’re leaving, aren’t you?”

Derek looks up from sorting through the clothes he’s managed to replace and sees Stiles standing at the bottom of the basement stairs, one hand clutching his ratty stuffed wolf. He only does it around the house, once told Derek that he thought it still smelt like his mom.

“Yeah,” Derek says, hand skimming over a pair of jeans. “Your dad’s been great, but we — we can’t stay.”

“Why not?” Stiles says with all the impunity a stubborn eleven year old can muster. “Dad won’t mind.”

“It’s not that. Laura has school and I —”

“You could stay by yourself,” Stiles says, his eyes widening as Derek continues to move clothes nearer his duffle bag. “You don’t have to —”

“Stiles, no.” Derek sits on the edge of the bed and motions for Stiles to join him. “How would you feel if you went away and left your dad?”

Stiles sighs, kicking his feet out, sneakers colliding with Derek’s duffle. “Not good,” he replies, glaring at the bag.

“Laura’s all the family I have left,” Derek says. “She — I have to go with her.”

“We’re still friends, right?” Stiles asks quietly, fiddling with the ears on his wolf.

“Yeah,” Derek says, hooking an arm around Stiles’ shoulder and hauling him close. “We’re still friends.”

Stiles’ face is turned into Derek’s chest and Derek can smell the salty tears that threaten to fall from Stiles’ eyes and it hurts. The Stilinskis are family to him and Laura, but Derek can’t do this; can’t pretend to be something he’s not, can’t pretend that he’s not responsible for his family burning to death. The longer he stays in Beacon Hills, the more he feels crushed by the weight of guilt. Leaving isn’t a guarantee that things will get better, but at least he’ll be able to walk down the street without people giving him pitying looks that he doesn’t deserve.

“When are you going?”

“End of the week,” Derek says as Stiles pulls away, furiously rubbing his eyes.

“You ever gonna come back?”

Stiles’ face is full of hope and Derek wants to say yes; he doesn’t want to be another person who leaves Stiles for good, but he can’t lie to him. “I don’t know.”

“Oh.”

Nudging Stiles with his shoulder, Derek forces a smile onto his face. “Want to eat the cookies Laura made?”

“Is she home?”

Derek ignores the ache in his chest at Stiles so casually referring to his house as Derek and Laura’s home and shakes his head. “Not yet. We can eat them before she gets back.”

“She’ll be mad,” Stiles says with a small smile.

“So what?” Derek says with a shrug. “Go on upstairs, I’ll be there in a minute.”

*

Derek throws his duffle in the trunk of the Camaro and turns to the Stilinskis. John claps a hand on his shoulder and frowns, the heavy air of sadness he’s been carrying around since Claudia died still weighing him down. “You need anything, you call us, okay kid? Your parents — Talia would never forgive me if I didn’t tell you that.”

“We will,” Derek says, nodding at John once before stepping away.

“Thanks for everything,” Laura says, wrapping her arms around John, turning her face against his neck. “We — I don’t know what would’ve happened if you hadn’t been here for us.”

“You know you don’t have to go,” John says, his hands resting on her back. “We don’t mind you staying here longer.”

Letting him go, Laura takes a step back and smiles softly. “I know.”

“As long as you remember that.”

Stiles is quiet, loitering by the car and Derek sighs as he walks over to him. “You gonna say goodbye?”

“No,” Stiles says, his jaw set as he refuses to look at Derek.

“Stiles, come on.”

“What? You — after my mom died you said you’d always be there,” Stiles says, folding his arms over his chest, bottom lip jutting out. “And now you’re leaving.”

“My whole family died, Stiles,” Derek says quietly. “I can’t stay here. Each time I walk down the street I see them, all of them. I — it hurts.”

Stiles looks up at him, and his shoulders slump in defeat. “I don’t want you to go. You — no one else knows what it’s like.”

“You’ve got Scott.”

“It’s not the same, his dad left, but his dad’s a butthole.”

“Yeah.” Derek slips his hands into his pockets and sighs. He wants to apologise for leaving, but he and Laura need to go, even if that means leaving behind the people they care about. The few that are left. Derek doesn’t want to put them in danger, couldn’t live with himself if anything happened to them because of him. He’s barely keeping his head above water as it is; seeing a woman wearing the same winter coat as his mom, catching the scent of the perfume Aunt Celia wore, passing the hardware store he went to with his dad — it kills a little bit of his soul every day.

“You’re gonna keep in touch, right?” Stiles’ eyes are impossibly wide, reminding Derek of the first time they met. “You’re not gonna ignore me because you’re gone?”

“How could I ignore you, Stiles?”

“I dunno,” Stiles says, his foot scuffing the dirt. “‘Cause I’m just a kid and you’re going away and you can stop talking to me?”

“Fuck, Stiles, I’m not going to do that.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

*

Derek stretches out on his bed, his cell phone resting on the crate he’s been using as a table; he can hear the traffic outside the apartment. It’s small, and not cheap, but he and Laura haven’t really spent that much time indoors since getting to LA. Laura likes taking him out, showing him the places she went to during her first years in the city. As far as either of them know, there isn’t a large pack in LA for them to have to approach; they’ve met some other wolves, but they’ve been betas away from their packs or omegas with no interest in finding a pack. Laura’s the only alpha, and whenever Derek wonders out loud if she wants to expand their pack, she looks away.

They have pack members back in Beacon Hills, and Derek feels the tug from them every day, so he knows it’s worse for Laura. She’s called John a few times with Derek in the room, but Stiles has never answered. Derek hasn’t admitted it to himself before, but he misses Stiles. Glancing at his cellphone, Derek reaches over to grab it; pulling up Stiles’ number, he hits the dial icon before he can change his mind.

It takes a moment for Stiles to pick up, but when he does, there’s a tremor in his voice as he says, “Derek?” and Derek can’t help the smile that appears on his face.

“Yeah. Hi.”

“What’s — how’s LA?”

“Busy.” Derek lies back against the bed, curling his bare feet against the blanket bunched at the end. “There’s a lot of people.”

Stiles makes a noise and there’s a rustling like he’s got his hand in a bag of chips. “Are you doing anything?”

“Talking to you.”

“Dumbass. I meant —”

“I know what you meant. I’m taking some classes at city college. History.”

“Can I send you my homework?” Stiles asks hopefully.

“No.”

“Rude.”

There’s silence down the line, and Derek can hear Stiles breathing, if he focuses he can hear the familiar thrum of Stiles’ heartbeat, and it’s like no time has passed. “How’s your dad?” he says eventually.

“The same. Hey, have you seen any celebrities?”

Derek lets out an easy laugh, staring at the ceiling. “The places Laura takes me aren’t really celebrity hangouts.”

“If you see Megan Fox, tell her I love her.”

“I’m sure she’ll be flattered by a scrawny eleven year old’s affections.”

“Shut up, asshole, I’m twelve now.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah,” Stiles sighs. “You missed my birthday.”

“Stiles, I —”

“Forget it.”

Derek rubs a hand over his face. “Don’t do that. It’s not okay I forgot, and you know that.”

“We didn’t do anything when you turned eighteen.”

“That’s different. You know I didn’t — I’ll send you something, okay?”

“If you wanted to make it up to me, you could come back.”

“Stiles.”

“I know. I didn’t mean —” Stiles breaks off with a frustrated noise. “I miss you and Laura being here. Dad’s working a lot, and Scott can’t always hang out. The house is empty.”

“I’m sorry,” Derek says, his voice thick. “If I could —”

“Yeah. You could get Skype? Then I could see your ugly face.”

Nodding to himself, Derek eyes his laptop leaning against the wall. “I can do that.”

*

Laura’s staring at the microwave, waiting for it to nuke her burrito when Derek decides to tell her. It’s been two years since they left Beacon Hills, Laura’s finished up her undergrad and has decided to do a Masters. Derek’s still taking classes at city college, had taken on work at a furniture store once Laura’s last year started because, holy shit, she was terrifying when she was in study mode.

When she turns around, stuffing the burrito in her mouth, Derek winces at the sight.

“What?” Laura says around a mouthful.

“Do you have to eat like that?”

Sticking her tongue out at him so Derek can see the mashed up food in her mouth, Laura takes a seat at the small table they managed to fit in the kitchen. “So,” she says after she’s swallowed. “What is it?”

“What are you talking about?” Derek picks up an orange from the fruit bowl and digs his fingers into the skin as a distraction, peeling it off roughly.

“You’ve got that look on your face.”

“What look?”

“That look that says you want to tell me something. That same look you had when you chewed up my stuffed tiger when you were eight.” Laura bites into her burrito and raises an eyebrow at him.

Pulling out the other chair at the table, Derek sits down and focuses on the orange in his hands, peeling off each segment and placing them on the table in a neat line. “I don’t know how to — the fire.” He can hear the intake of breath from Laura and it hits him in chest. “It was my fault.”

“How can it —” Laura cuts herself off and drops the burrito on the table. “You were with me at the Stilinski house. There’s no way it was your fault.”

“It was,” Derek says in a small voice. “I was. I was dating someone. Called Kate. I didn’t know that she, that her family were hunters.” Picking up one of the orange segments, he picks at the white, peeling it off in small bits. “I snuck her into the house one day when everyone was out and we — I didn’t know. I thought she’d left Beacon Hills, and then mom told us about the Argents; I was going to tell her when we got back from Stiles’ house, but I never.” Juice from the orange spills down his fingers and he squashes the segment, pulp sticking to his skin. “It was my fault.”

Laura doesn’t say a word, steeples her fingers and rests her chin on her thumbs, her fingers rubbing against her lips. She’s quiet for so long, Derek wants to run away, wants her to tell him to get out, wants her to do something because he can’t stand this purgatory.

“It’s not your fault,” she says, and Derek shakes his head, denying her words because they’re not true, can’t be true. If Laura thinks it’s not his fault then —.

It is his fault. It has to be. Derek was the one who let himself be used by Kate, who let her into the house, who felt so guilty and ashamed he didn’t tell his mom immediately so that
his pack, his family, could protect themselves.

He doesn’t realise he’s saying it all aloud until Laura’s pushed back her chair and then she’s hugging him, her hair falling over his face as he cries. Derek cries for his mom, his dad, for all the kids in the house, for his aunts and uncles. He cries for Laura, because he took away their entire family and she’s had to struggle, becoming alpha before she was ready without knowing the truth.

He doesn’t cry for himself. He doesn’t deserve it.

Laura’s stroking his hair, whispering words that are meant to be comforting, but Derek can’t take comfort in them. Forcing the tears to stop, Derek pulls away from Laura and heads straight to his room, closing the door behind him.

Sitting on the floor with his back against the door, Derek waits for Laura to user her strength and push the door open. He can hear her pacing outside, knows she’s twisting her fingers together, and it’s only a matter of time before she comes after him.

But she doesn’t. Laura raps her knuckles on the door once and says, “it’s not your fault, Derek,” before she walks away.

Derek doesn’t know what to do with that.

*

“Where do you want to go?”

Derek shrugs, scanning over the take out menu for Laura’s favourite indian restaurant. He hates the place, but she’s finished her Masters degree and that deserves celebrating. “I don’t care.”

“We could go back to Beacon Hills.”

“Not there.”

“I thought you and Stiles talked?” Laura snatches the menu from Derek’s hands and starts circling half the options.

“We do.” They don’t go a week without talking; Stiles still wants Derek to track down Megan Fox for him, but he also calls Derek whenever he misses his mom. Derek doesn’t know what to do with the trust Stiles shows in him, can only sit there with the phone to his ear as Stiles spills his guts down the line. When Stiles says his dad wants him to try therapy, Derek doesn’t say anything because he doesn’t know what to say. He’s never been good at talking to strangers about how he feels and thinks Stiles is probably the same. When he says “do you need someone to talk to?”, Stiles just says “I have you,” and that’s the end of it.

Laura eyes him from her position sprawled out on the couch, her graduation gown still on. “But you don’t want to go back?”

“No.”

“Okay.” Laura stares at the menu and sighs. “I’m not going to stop asking.”

“I know.”

Examining her manicure, Laura casually kicks her feet up on the arm of the couch. “What about New York?”

“Laura, I really don’t care where we go.” Derek takes the menu back, looking at the options circled, and waves it around. “You want all this?”

“I’m hungry, and it’s a full moon in three days.”

Rolling his eyes, Derek digs out his phone and calls in the order. When he hangs up, Laura’s already looking up apartments in Brooklyn.

*

Laura forces him out of their new apartment, telling him she needs some time alone. He gets it, they don’t have a pack here, and it’s hard for her when all she has is Derek. Learning to be an alpha is hard to do without guidance, it would be easier for her if they had pack near, if Laura had anyone other than Derek to rely on. The guilt weighs heavy on him, still feeling that it’s his fault they’re not back in Beacon Hills, his fault that Laura is struggling so much. If they had Stiles and John around them, it would be easier for her, but Derek — he isn’t ready yet. Doesn’t know if he’ll ever be ready.

Derek heads into the city, walking across the bridge in the snow because he needs to feel the outdoors on his skin. It’s been too long since he’s been able to shift outside and as soon as he gets a good speed up, the wolf paws at him, wanting to be let out. There’s a spot outside the city that’s kind of a sanctuary for wolves like he and Laura, and they head up there whenever they can, but it’s not enough. Derek misses the easy access of Beacon Hills preserve, misses being able to shift and run whenever he wanted.

Trudging through the greying sludge, Derek finds himself in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller and he stares up at it, wondering what Stiles is doing back in Beacon Hills. He checks the time and does the math, taking his phone out and hitting call.

“Bored already?” is the first thing Stiles says and Derek laughs, grinning up at the tree.

“I have to be bored to call you?”

Stiles snorts and it sets off a warm glow inside Derek’s chest. “I’m the most entertaining person you know.”

“You’re one of the only people I know.”

“Still not making friends?”

“I don’t want to make friends.”

“You should come home, then. Where you already have friends.”

Derek sighs and pinches his arm to stop himself from saying yes. “Stiles.”

“I know. Let me put you on speakerphone for a sec.” There’s a rattling and then he hears Stiles opening the fridge door; it’s still got the creak Derek remembers. “Sorry,” Stiles says. “I’m making something for dad to take to work.”

“I don’t want to distract you.”

“Cutting my finger that time was an accident. Also, I was eight and who let me handle knives at that age anyway?”

“Laura.”

“Ah. Yeah. That’s true.”

The lights from the tree fall over the streets as Derek stands there, listening to the sounds of Stiles chopping up something. “What are you doing for Christmas?”

“Uh, dad’s working the afternoon so others can get family time, so I’ll be at Scott’s after lunch. His mom couldn’t trade shifts, so we’re going to play video games and eat junk.”

“That sounds different to what you usually do.”

“Fuck you,” Stiles says cheerfully. “It’s not traditional, okay, but at least I’ll be with people I like. All of Danny’s relatives are coming over, and half of them don’t know he’s gay.” There’s quiet on Stiles’ end for a moment, Derek watching people walking past him when Stiles starts to talk again. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Did you ever — do you only like girls?”

Derek sucks in a breath and clenches his fist involuntarily, unsure how to answer Stiles. “It’s — I don’t know how to explain it,” he says, finally. “I don’t deal with lines, I think — if I’m attracted to someone, if that person fits with me, then that’s all I care about”

“Oh.”

“Is that — are you okay?” He can hear Stiles dropping the knife on the counter and then there’s the sound of running water. “Stiles?”

“I’m okay. I didn’t hurt myself, just washing off tomato goop. I don’t think I’m straight.” The words come out in a rush like Stiles is scared of saying them out loud.

“Does that bother you?”

“No? I don’t know.” A heavy sigh comes down the line. “I always knew that I thought some dudes were hot, but I didn’t know what that meant. But there’s this senior? And I — it’s like how I was with Lydia, and I don’t know what to think.”

“You’re allowed to be confused, Stiles.”

“I don’t like being confused.”

Derek laughs softly. “I know you don’t. Look, just because you like this guy doesn’t mean you have to do anything about it. Considering you’re fifteen and the Sheriff’s son, it’s probably a good idea you don’t do anything about it, but —” Derek breaks off and tries to choose his words carefully. “You can crush on whoever you want, you can take time to figure out who you’re attracted to, and that’s okay. It’s your life, Stiles. You can take as much time as you want.”

There’s quiet from Stiles, only his breathing reassuring Derek that he’s still on the line. “I wish you weren’t in New York.”

“I’m sorry,” Derek says, watching the mist of his breath float away. Snowflakes start falling down again, hitting his bare hands and going down the collar of his leather jacket.

“I know why you are, why you’re not home, but I — I miss you.”

Derek closes his eyes against the snow and swallows. “I miss you too.”

“Are you ever going to come home?”

“I don’t know.”

“Will you tell me when you do?”

The fact that Stiles says ‘when’ makes Derek’s heart hurt and he — Beacon Hills will always be home, for so many reasons, but he can’t be there. “I will,” he says finally. “I will.”

*

“How’s school?” Resting his arms on the scuffed up counter, Derek hunches over his laptop as he talks to Stiles.

Making a face on the screen, Stiles shrugs. “It’s school.” His fingers unconsciously tug at the ends of his hair. “Everyone’s making noises about college.”

“Oh.” Hands curling around his mug of coffee, Derek raises his eyebrows at Stiles. “What are your plans?”

“Could you sound more like a long lost relative?” Stiles’ eyes dart away for a moment. “I don’t know. How am I meant to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life?”

“It doesn’t have to be for the rest of your life.”

“That’s the way everyone talks about it.”

Derek straightens up and stretches his back out, reaching to grab a bag of Doritos from the shelf above him. When he looks back at the screen, Stiles’ cheeks are flushed. “Are you okay?”

“What? Yeah, I’m fine.”

“What does your dad think about college?”

“He keeps telling me to do what I think will make me happy.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“I don’t know what will make me happy.”

“You’re being difficult.”

Stiles pokes his tongue out at Derek. “I’m not,” he sighs. “Maybe a little. But what am I meant to do? What if what makes me happy now, won’t make me happy when I’m twenty? What if I pick somewhere I want to go and I hate it? What if I leave the state and my dad gets hurt?”

“You can go and visit colleges before you pick,” Derek says, licking orange dust from his fingers.

“Stop being reasonable.”

“I get that you’re freaked out.” Derek folds the top of the bag over and wipes his hands on his jeans. “You don’t have to leave the state if you don’t want to, no one’s going to judge you if you don’t.”

Ducking his head, Stiles rubs the side of his hand against his forehead. “Isn’t that what you’re meant to do? Go away from home and explore the world?”

“Not if you’re not ready.”

“How do I know if I am?”

Derek shrugs, smiling softly. “If it hadn’t been for the fire, I would’ve stayed in Beacon Hills my whole life.”

“Shit, Derek I —” Stiles stops talking, his brow furrowed. “You really would’ve stayed?”

“I would’ve taken vacations, but yeah. It’s where everyone I loved was, why would I have wanted to leave?”

“Was?”

“Is. You know that if I —”

“I know,” Stiles says hurriedly. “I wasn’t trying to — I’m just glad you kept talking to me.”

“Like you could ever ditch me,” Derek says with a grin.

*

“Why?” Derek asks quietly, his feet tucked underneath him on the couch. “Why do you want to go back now?”

Laura huffs as she throws a tank top across the room. “Why are all my clothes dirty?”

“Laura, come on. Why are you going back? Stiles says there’s nothing going on.”

“Stiles is a teenager,” she says with a wry grin. “If it’s not going on in his pants, he doesn’t know about it.”

“He knows stuff,” Derek says defensively. “Who have you been talking to?”

“Deaton.”

Curling his lip at her, Derek looks away, staring at the apartment block opposite them. Rain thunders against the window and Derek plays with the ends of his sleeves in an attempt to distract himself.

“Derek,” Laura pleads, tentatively touching his arm. “I know you don’t like him, but he’s the only link we have.”

“If he — he could’ve warned me.”

“Would you have listened?”

“I’m not blaming him.”

“I know,” Laura says sadly. “The only person you’ve ever blamed is yourself.” Her hand tightens on Derek’s arm for a moment before she lets go.

“It was my fault.”

“And I’ve told you that’s not true,” Laura says, her tone sharpening. “You were manipulated. You trusted someone. There’s no way you could’ve known.”

“But when I found out she was a hunter.” Derek shifts further away from Laura, curling into himself against the arm of the couch. “I should’ve told mom that she knew how to get in as soon as I knew what she was.”

“Derek —”

“Don’t.”

“Right,” sighs Laura, dropping the subject. Rubbing a hand across her face, she stands up and heads over to the kitchen. “I’m still going back. Are you coming with me? I need to let Mrs. Leo know if either of us are staying.”

“You’re asking me?”

Laura glares at him from the counter. “You want me to be your alpha for this? You want me to order you to come home with me?”

“No,” Derek says, ducking his head. “No. I’ll come.”

“Then get packing. It’s a long drive.”

*

Derek hates stopping off at motels, they reek of other people, but Laura insists they have to take breaks; now they’re somewhere in Nevada with McDonalds spread out on Derek’s bedspread, Laura biting into a Big Mac like she hasn’t eaten for days.

“Have you called Stiles?”

“No.”

“Why not?” she asks, chewed up meat spilling out of her mouth.

Derek winces and shoves a napkin at her. “Do you have to eat like that? I have to sleep on this.”

“Stop avoiding the subject.”

“I’m not.”

Raising her eyebrows and smacking Derek’s hand away from her fries, Laura snorts. “Yeah, okay little brother.”

“I don’t want to make him think I’m staying,” Derek says after a moment, his eyes going to the sad little box of chicken nuggets he ordered because that was always his dad’s choice. “It’s not fair to him.”

“We could stay,” Laura says hesitantly. “We could go back for good. We — Derek!”

Ignoring Laura’s cry, Derek closes the door behind him and starts walking. After everything, after being away for so long, Beacon Hills still calls to him in a way he can’t ignore. It crawls under his skin and scratches at his heart, and if it’s that bad for him, he can’t imagine what it’s like for Laura. She doesn’t talk about it, but his mother always talked about the ties she felt to the land, how it kept her grounded.

He stops by the nearby garage and heads in, picking up a pack of crappy chocolate brownies as an apology for Laura. The guy on the counter is half asleep, the faint air of dope hanging around his head, and he startles when Derek nudges the brownies onto the counter.

“Good choice, dude.” The guy gives him a wide smile and rings up the brownies. “Mountain Dew goes wicked awesome with those.”

“I think I’ll pass, thanks.”

Pocketing his change, Derek pushes the door open, shaking his head to clear his brain a little. Kicking the dirt by the side of the road, Derek aimlessly wanders away from the motel, staring at the dried and dying flowers that he passes as he walks. There’s one further down the road that’s alive, a deep orange that catches Derek’s eye and he slumps down next to it, rubbing a hand across his face. Pulling his phone from his pocket, he glances at the time before sighing and scrolling down to Stiles’ name.

It rings three times before Stiles’ voice comes down the line. “Derek? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong.”

“Okay.” Stiles’ voice is echoing like he’s outside, but then there’s the slam of a door and it goes quiet. “If nothing’s wrong, why are you calling?”

“I can’t call you for any other reason?” Derek teases with a smile.

“You could, but you call at regular times, not randomly on a Thursday night.”

“Can’t get anything past you.”

Stiles snorts, laughing. “Like you would even try. What’s going on?”

“Uh — we’re coming back.” Derek closes his eyes, runs a finger across the soft petals of the flower and listens to Stiles’ sharp intake of breath.

“For real?” Stiles says in a small voice.

“Yeah. I don’t — we might not be staying. Laura wants to, but I—”

“You don’t have to explain. I get it. How long until you’re here?”

“We’re in Nevada now —”

“Nevada,” Stiles yelps. “That’s really close. You’ll call me, right?”

“I will.”

“Okay. Okay, good. Shit, Derek.”

Derek doesn’t need to see Stiles’ face to know there’s a wide smile on it and his eyes open, focusing on the patch of grass next to him. “Bye, Stiles.”

“Bye. See you soon, yeah?”

“Yeah.” Derek pockets his phone, picks up the brownies and stands up, heading back towards the motel.

*

“You ready?” Laura stops the car outside the county line and glances at Derek.

“Yeah. Yeah, I am.”

The car slowly creeps over the border and Derek lets out a breath. It doesn’t take long before they reach town, and Derek wishes he could be surprised at how little things have changed. The sports shop he bought his first basketball at is still there, the pizza place they’d go to for birthdays still has the same missing neon bulb that it did when they left. Having travelled across the country, there’s a certain comfort in it, in the way that Beacon Hills has stayed the same even though they’ve been gone.

“Apartment? Or do you — we could go see the house?”

“It’s not a house, Laura.”

“Okay. Apartment it is.”

It doesn’t take them long to unpack, they didn’t have much after the fire, and haven’t accumulated much since then. Laura knocks on Derek’s bedroom door, pushing it open as he’s throwing his shirts in a drawer.

“Want to go for a run?”

“Now?”

Laura shrugs, tapping her fingers against the battered chest of drawers. “Yeah. In the woods, like old times.”

“It’s not like old times, Laura.” Derek slams the drawer shut, forcing Laura to step away. “This isn’t the same as before.”

“We’re still family, Derek. This is still our home and I’m going for a run. Come if you want to.”

She slams the door behind her and Derek waits for the sound of her leaving the apartment, wincing when she slams that door as well. There’s a pull to the land that both of them feel, and he knows Laura needs the run to settle but Derek — he can’t do it yet. Driving through town was hard enough, but the woods are where they played as kids, where their mom took them out to shift for the first time, and where they celebrated almost every meaningful moment of their lives.

Derek sighs and starts to tug sheets over the mattress on the bed frame. Slipping into a pair of sweatpants, he pulls a blanket over him and closes his eyes. He’ll make it up to Laura when she gets back is the last thought he has before he drifts off.

*

Laura doesn’t come back.

Derek wakes up two hours later, his body burning and his head pounding. His claws rip through the mattress before he even realises what’s happening.

This isn’t — his senses are sharper, new strength flowing through his veins and it’s not his to have, was never his to have. If he’s feeling like this, then Laura —.

Scrabbling away from the bed, Derek scoots across the floor until his back is against the wall, his eyes wide and his claws digging into his arm. Not Laura. Not again. He can’t do this again, can’t lose someone because of his stupidity.

A sliver of moonlight peeks in through the curtains and Derek pushes down the urge to howl, to mourn his sister. He knows what he has to do; he has to find her, bring her home and give her a proper burial, but he can’t move. His claws are embedded in his arm, blood seeping out and running down his hands. There’s a slow drip drip onto the hardwood floor and Derek closes his eyes, blinking against the tears that are threatening to fall.

He has absolutely no idea what to do.

*

Eventually Derek staggers to his feet and numbly heads towards the bathroom, washing the blood off his skin, scrubbing and scrubbing until the water runs clear.

He dresses in old jeans, boots and a sweater, throwing on his leather jacket before heading out the door.

There’s an automatic assault on his senses; car engines grinding, power lines buzzing, cats screeching and he stumbles, trying to adjust to his ramped up powers. Shaking his head, Derek breaks into a sprint, speeding up when he reaches the woods. The scent of blood is easy to pick out, but at this distance he can’t distinguish between animal and human. Tearing through the trees, he eventually picks up Laura’s scent; it’s stationary and quickly fading, but it’s there, and that’s all Derek cares about.

She’s pale. It’s the first thing he notices about her. There’s an arrow sticking out of her heart, he can smell the wolfsbane on it, and it’s — if he’d gone with her, he could’ve pulled it out as soon as it had happened and taken her to Deaton. He could’ve done anything but left her here to die, alone. Shrugging out of his leather jacket, Derek wraps it around his hands and tugs at the arrow, yanking it out of Laura’s chest.

Throwing the arrow to the side, Derek drapes his jacket over his arms before he lifts her up, cradling her carefully. Her head lolls to one side and Derek looks away, her eyes staring lifelessly at him. He runs, unable to do anything else, needing to get her home before anyone sees him.

It’s dumb luck no one spots him, and when he makes it back to the apartment, he lays her out on the couch and collapses on the floor, his head in his hands. Fumbling for his phone, he finds the number he’s looking for and hits dial.

“It’s Derek. I need to see you.”

*

The vet office is cold and dark, and Derek hates it. He can feel the power held by the building, and it makes his skin itch. Trying not to touch anything, Derek stands with his back against the wall until Deaton joins him.

“Sorry, a rather vicious tabby cat needed my attention.” Resting his hands against the counter, Deaton meets Derek’s eyes and raises his eyebrows. “What did you need me for so urgently?”

Derek flashes his red eyes at Deaton and ducks his head when Deaton looks away. “I don’t want it.”

“Laura,” Deaton sighs heavily. “I’m sorry. But you don’t have a choice, Derek. You’re the last of the Hales. This is your inheritance.”

“I don’t want it. Isn’t there something you can do? Something that can get rid of this?”

Deaton’s face is inscrutable, staring at Derek as if he’s looking for something. “How long ago did Laura die? Was it less than 24 hours?”

“Yes.”

Giving Derek a curt nod, Deaton walks over to his safe, unlocks it and taking out a book. “I have something that could help you. That could bring Laura back.”

“What is it?”

“This isn’t something to take lightly,” Deaton says as he flicks through the pages. “You could die. The spell could go wrong and the Laura that comes back might not be your Laura.” He holds out the book to Derek, turned to a page with symbols on it that Derek’s never seen before. “This is what you need. I can supply you with the herbs, but there’s an ingredient only you can add.”

Placing the book on the counter and skimming the page, Derek swallows, his fists clenching by his sides. “My blood.”

“Enough to create a spark. Not enough for you to die.” Deaton leans his hands against the counter. “It’s a very interesting spell, if done correctly.”

Narrowing his eyes at Deaton, Derek snarls. “I’m so glad my sister’s death has given you an opportunity to use this interesting spell.”

“My apologies.” Deaton holds his hands up in surrender. “I meant no harm.”

“Get me the herbs.” Derek tucks the book under his arm and waits impatiently for Deaton to hand him a bag. He’s turning to leave when Deaton speaks again.

“Be careful, Derek. And good luck.”

*

Derek puts the supplies on the counter in the kitchen, not able to look at Laura’s body on the couch. Quickly following the instructions, Derek mixes the base ingredients before reaching for the knife Deaton slipped into the bag. The note from Deaton inside the bag says it’s coated in something that will stop him from healing, and he winces at the implications. Glancing over at Laura, he grits his teeth in determination and holds his hand over the bowl. Pressing the blade against his skin, he slices his flesh open, watching in fascination as his blood spills out of the cut. Derek’s never been hurt like this before, everything has always healed and he can’t stop staring at the gash; how the blood doesn’t stop coming, how his skin doesn’t sealing itself up automatically.

He lets the blood spill into the bowl until it reaches the halfway mark and then he curls his hand into a fist, walking over to the sink and switching the water on. The water turns pale pink as he washes the substance from the knife out of the wound; once it’s clean, his skin quickly heals, and he wipes it dry before grabbing a fork from the drawer and stirring his blood in with the herbs. The pungent smell floods the apartment and Derek coughs, suppressing his gag reflex as he adds the last of the ingredients to form a sticky paste.

“Okay,” he says to himself, stripping off his shirt. “Okay.” Derek uses the paste to paint the symbols from the book on his chest, adding a dot in the same place Laura was shot.

Walking over to the couch, he dips his finger back in the mix and gently draws a triskelion on Laura’s forehead, tearing open her shirt and smearing some over her wound. Sitting on his knees, Derek closes his eyes and inhales deeply; images of he and Laura after the fire flood his brain; the time they spent staying with the Stilinskis, Laura squeezing his hand at the memorial service, the time in Arizona when Laura broke up a bar fight.

Keeping his eyes closed, Derek carefully speaks the words Deaton wrote down. “This was never my power to have, it’s not the power I want. Give it back to the person who had it last, give me back the person who it belongs to.”

A piercing pain runs through his body and it makes him howl, forcing the shift on him, draining the alpha power from him.

There’s a sudden inhale from Laura’s body and Derek blacks out.

*

“— the hell you thought you were doing, you irresponsible idiot. Why did you think it was a good idea? What if something had gone wrong? What if I had come back wrong and you had to kill me? Did you think of that? Oh, you’re awake.” Laura stops pacing and stares over at him, her face falling. “Derek. Why?”

Struggling to sit up, Derek notices the mixture has been cleaned off his chest, and there’s a fuzzy blanket draped over him. “I didn’t want it,” he chokes out. “It’s not mine.”

“But this could’ve gone so wrong.” Laura kneels by his feet, resting her head against his knee. “You could’ve — don’t ever do it again, okay?”

“Don’t die on me again.” Derek tentatively touches Laura’s hair, wanting to cry at how real she feels, how alive she is.

Lifting her head, Laura lets out a watery laugh, blinking back tears. “I’ll try not to.”

“Are you okay?”

“I’ve got a gnarly scar.” She pulls down the shirt she’s wearing to show the mark where the bolt went in. There’s a slightly silver glow to it and she shrugs. “But I’m okay,” she says, her voice softening. “Thank you.”

“You’re my alpha.”

“I’m your sister first, dipshit.”

Derek grins and reaches out, curling his arms around Laura in a tight hug, pulling her up and squeezing her close. Inhaling her familiar scent, he relaxes, a peace settling inside him at the feel of having his alpha back. She’s been the only constant in his life, aside from Stiles, over the last six years and he needs her, isn’t ready to let her go.

“Did you tell anyone?” Laura mumbles into his neck before letting go.

“That you died?”

“Yeah.” Rocking back on her heels, she looks up at him before climbing up onto the couch. “Did you tell anyone?”

“Only Deaton. I brought you back here and went straight to him. When I woke up with the powers — I couldn’t think straight.”

“Good. Good, okay. We have to find out who it was.” Laura rubs her hands down her thighs and takes a deep breath. “Did you find anything when you went looking for me?”

“No, I wasn’t — there wasn’t any time. I just wanted to find you.”

“Okay.” Staring across the room, Laura shakes her head. “We have to go back out there.”

“What? No.”

“Derek, you know we do.”

“Not yet. Not now.” Derek pulls his legs up onto the couch and rests his head against the cushions, resisting the urge to whine. “Can’t we wait until we’ve seen people? Until they know we’re back?”

Letting out a breath, Laura nods. “If that’s what you want.”

“It is.”

“You know you can stop staring at me any time.” Laura shoots him a wry smile. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“You did,” Derek says in a small voice, hating how it sounds.

“But I’m back. And I’m not going anywhere now.”

*

Derek pulls the car up outside the Stilinski’s house and waits for a moment before getting out. The short walk to the door feels like a marathon and he takes a deep breath before knocking on the wood. He hears Stiles’ voice as he yells to his dad and the thundering of his footsteps down the stairs.

“You asshole,” Stiles yells when he opens the door. “You said you’d call.” With that, he launches himself at Derek, wrapping himself around him like a spider monkey. “Hi,” he mumbles into Derek’s neck.

“Hi.” Stiles’ body is pressed against his and Derek can feel his heart going a mile a minute. “Can I put you down?”

“Oh.” Stiles untangles himself from Derek and slides to the ground, a sheepish smile on his face, cheeks flushing. “You did say you’d call,” he says, scuffing his foot against the ground.

“I know.” Clapping a hand against Stiles’ shoulder, Derek lets his hand travel, rubbing his fingers against the nape of Stiles’ neck. Squeezing once, Derek lets go and knocks his fist lightly against Stiles’ shoulder. “We were unpacking and then I figured it was easier to come visit.”

John comes to the door, leaning against the frame with a small smile on his face. “Derek.” Holding out his hand, he clasps Derek’s and gives it a firm shake. “It’s good to have you home.”

A shiver goes through Derek’s spine when John says that; he doesn’t know if it’s the mention of home, or if it’s the fact that ever since he’s been back, Derek’s been able to sense Beacon Hills getting back under his skin like he never left.

“Where’s Laura?” Stiles has directed them into the kitchen, sitting down on the same chair he always sat at when Derek was last here.

Taking his usual seat, Derek shrugs and keeps his answer vague. “She had some things to do. Went to visit Deaton for some reason.” Laura didn’t want him to go with her, kissing his cheek and telling him she had alpha business to discuss.

“She might see Scott, he’s working there now.” Stiles fiddles with the corner of a police file, his eyes skitting across Derek’s face. “He’s saving up for a bike, but I don’t think his mom is going to let him buy it.”

John swipes the file away from Stiles and sits at the table. “Melissa’s right,” he says. “Do you know how many people we see on bikes getting into accidents? Dying? If either of you think you’re buying bikes, you’re mistaken.”

“Talk to Scott,” Stiles says, waving a hand in the air. “I’ve seen those photos and have no interest in one.”

Derek laughs at the look of disgust on Stiles’ face and nudges him with his shoulder. “You don’t want to wear leather and look cool?”

“I’m plenty cool without leather.” Stiles pushes him back and grins. “Anyway, Scott mostly wants it to impress Allison.”

“And that’s my cue,” John says, rolling his eyes and getting up. “I’ve got to get to work. Derek, you sticking around?”

“For a while.” Derek looks up at John and shrugs, a smile on his face. “As long as Stiles doesn’t get sick of me.”

“Well your face is really annoying,” Stiles says, scooting his chair away from Derek when he half heartedly reaches out to smack Stiles lightly. “But I can probably put up with you.”

Shaking his head, John walks out of the kitchen, muttering “some things never change,” to himself.

“So, who’s Allison?” Derek reaches for an orange from the fruit bowl and starts to peel it.

“Helping yourself to food? It’s like you never left,” Stiles snorts, flicking his finger against Derek’s ear. Tearing segments off, Derek stuffs some in his mouth and grins at Stiles, who makes a face at him. “Gross, dude, seriously.”

Swallowing the mouthful, Derek picks another segment off and shrugs. “I remember how many marshmallows you used to fit in your mouth.”

Flushing red, Stiles grabs an apple and fiddles with the stem, twisting it around until it comes off. “You remember that?”

“I remember being worried you’d choke.”

“Ass.” Stiles’ sneaker grazes against Derek’s shin. “I only did it to make you laugh.”

“It worked,” Derek says, quietly picking at the orange. “You, and your dad, you helped us a lot. Helped me a lot.”

“Oh. Well, good.” Stiles punctuates his words with a bite into his apple, the crunch echoing in the room.

“So who’s Allison and why does Scott think he needs a bike to impress her?”

“New kid at school,” Stiles says around the chewed up apple. “Scott thinks he’s in love with her.”

“And the bike?”

“You remember Scott? I love the dude, but in the grand scheme of high school he’s not cool.”

Derek looks Stiles over before reaching for the paper towels and wiping the juice from the orange off his hands. “High school isn’t everything.”

“Dude, I know that. Aside from Lydia not ever giving me the time of day and Harris always being a dick to me, I’m fine not being cool. Scott’s the one who has a problem.” Stiles rocks back on his chair. “Being an asthmatic lacrosse player isn’t buying him any points with the lovely Miss. Argent.”

A rush of cold washes over Derek’s brain and he’s stuck, not able to say anything. Stiles is talking about something, but all he can hears is Argent. His wolf is whining, wanting to go home, wanting to find his alpha and hide far, far away from any mention of Argents.

“— rek, Derek? You okay?” Stiles’ hand is on his arm, squeezing slightly. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” His mouth clacks when he answers Stiles, and he forces a weak smile on his face. “It’s nothing.”

Brow furrowing, Stiles moves his hand away, the tips of his fingers grazing against the back of Derek’s hand. “Sure? You look — you look like you did after the fire.”

Derek freezes, not sure what to say. “I don’t —”

“Do you know something?” Stiles’ eyes are narrowing and Derek can hear his heart rate speeding up. “Derek, the fire? Did it have something to do with the Argents? With Allison’s family?”

“Drop it, Stiles.”

“I don’t — why didn’t you tell anyone? Was it —” Stiles’ eyes widen in horror and Derek knows he’s made the connection, knows he’s worked it out. “The girl you were with. The one you wouldn’t let anyone meet.”

Derek stands up so quickly that his chair clatters to the floor, and he can hear the blood rushing in his ears as he stumbles backwards, his back hitting the wall. Fighting off the shift, Derek breathes deeply, his claws threatening to come out. “Don’t.”

“Okay.” Stiles gets off the chair and takes a tentative step towards him. “Derek, what’s going on? Why did you come home?”

“This isn’t home,” Derek says, his fists clenched by his side.

“It is.” Getting closer, Stiles touches Derek’s arm. “Home is where the people who care about you are. This is home, Derek. Whatever you — if you think you’ve done something, it doesn’t matter.”

“Everyone died.”

“I know.”

Derek slumps to the floor, his legs outstretched and it doesn’t take a second before Stiles is down there with him, sitting next to him, their sides pressed against each other.

“Do you need me to call Laura?”

“Not yet.” Derek turns his head to see Stiles’ face close, his eyes open and trusting and — he needs to talk to Laura. Needs to find out if she knew the Argents were in town, needs to discuss letting Stiles know. “She — we need to talk. All of us, but first, tell me about the Argents?”

Stiles bites his lip, the corners of his eyes wrinkling as he winces. “Are you sure?”

“Tell me, Stiles.”

“Okay, okay. Allison moved here at the start of the school year. She seems nice, aside from choosing not to date my bro. Her dad sells weapons to law enforcement, which is weird because it’s not like my dad has a stash of weapons at work? This town doesn’t have a SWAT team or anything. I don’t know her mom, but she kind of freaks me out whenever I see her.”

“Why?”

“She’s creepy. I think she’s evil, which now that I’m saying it, seems really prophetic and Derek will you please tell me what’s going on?”

Derek stares at the way Stiles is twisting his fingers together and nods slowly. “I will. I just — I need to talk to Laura first.”

“Now?”

“Yeah. I think so.”

“Are you safe in town?” asks Stiles, standing up and offering a hand to Derek.

Taking it, Derek pulls himself up, holding on a little too long to Stiles’ grip once he’s on his feet. “I’m safe, I promise.”

“I don’t want you dying after you just got back.”

“I’ll do my best.”

They stand awkwardly in the kitchen until Derek reaches out and tugs Stiles towards him with one arm, not sure he should be taking so much comfort in the feel of Stiles’ body against his. Stiles’ face rubs against Derek’s neck and it’s so close to scenting, Derek wants to tell Stiles everything right now, but he can’t, he has to wait for Laura. It’s not something that’s to be taken lightly, even as much as the Stilinskis are family.

Letting go of Stiles, Derek tentatively touches Stiles’ face and drops his hand when Stiles’ eyes widen. “I should go,” he says quietly.

“When are you going to come back?” Stiles doesn’t step away, takes Derek’s hand and squeezes.

“After I’ve talked to Laura.” Derek manages to put a smile on his face. “I promise.”

“Don’t do that.”

“Promise?”

“Smile to make me feel better.” Letting go of Derek’s hand, Stiles crosses his arms over his chest. “You’ve never done that before, don’t do it now.”

Derek nods, hitching one shoulder up, his fingers aching to touch Stiles, but he leaves his hand dangling by his side instead. “I’ll talk to Laura and we’ll come back.”

They walk to the door in silence and just before Derek steps outside, Stiles stops him. “I’m glad you’re back.”

There’s a weight off Derek’s shoulders and his lips form a small smile. “Me too.”

*

“What did you and Deaton talk about?” Derek drains the spaghetti and tips it back in the pot, getting the fresh sauce he made earlier out of the fridge.

“Side effects of the spell.”

“He didn’t tell me there would —”

“No.” Laura rests a hand on the back of his neck. “There’s nothing wrong with me, okay? He did a bunch of tests, sprinkled some powders that stank the place out, but he thinks I’m fine.” She smiles at him when he tilts his head to look at her. “Still me.”

“Are you?” Derek asks, stirring the sauce in with the spaghetti, checking the sausages under the grill.

“What?”

“Fine?”

There’s a quiet that’s only broken by the clinking of plates and silverware as Laura rummages around in the cupboard. “I don’t know,” she says finally. Leaning against the counter as Derek dishes out the food, she picks at her nails. “I died, Derek. There’s no handbook to deal with that.”

“If there’s something wrong —”

“I’ll be okay, little brother.” She bumps her hip against his and grabs her plate. “But thanks.”

They eat quietly, Derk not sure how to start to bring up everything he needs to talk to Laura about. The television plays in the background, the scrape of knives against plates echoing. Derek twists the last of his spaghetti around on his fork; he’s doing that for what must be the sixth time when Laura’s hand darts out and stops his movements.

“What is it?”

Derek drops his fork and pushes his chair back, needing to get some space. “There are Argents in town.” The words are hard to get out, he almost chokes on them, and it’s Laura’s total lack of reaction that clues him in. “You knew. You knew and you didn’t tell me.”

“I didn’t,” Laura says quickly, her hand gripping Derek’s wrist. “I didn’t know until Deaton told me today. How do you know?”

“Stiles told me. Scott wants to date one of them.”

“Derek —”

“Is she here?” Derek can’t meet Laura’s eyes. If Kate’s here, he can’t stay; he’ll have to run again, and nowhere seems far enough.

“No. No, it’s her brother, his wife and their daughter.”

“Chris.”

“Yeah. Derek I — Deaton doesn’t think they know what she did.” Laura’s thumb rubs a circle against the inside of his wrist. “And they’re not the ones who killed me.”

“You can’t know that.”

Her eyes flashing red, Laura glares at him. “Yes I can. I passed by their house and their scents aren’t right. Derek, it wasn’t them, I swear to you.”

Derek nods, tugs his wrist away from Laura and sets his jaw stubbornly. “I want to tell Stiles and his dad.”

“Tell them what?”

“About us. What we are. You know mom and dad were going to before Claudia died.”

Laura pushes her chair back and gets up, walking over to the window. She stares out at the streetlights that shine into the apartment and Derek can feel the waves of sadness coming off her. “You think we should?”

“They’re the closest thing we have to family in this town. And I want —” Derek cuts himself off and stares at his hands, tightly fisted in his lap. “I want to tell the Sheriff about Kate. About the fire.”

Turning around and looking at him, Laura shakes her head. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“That’s not why I want to do it.” He clenches his fists once before letting them open, resting his hands on his thighs. “I can’t lie to them, Laura. Stiles, he already knows that Kate was involved —”

“How does he —”

“When he told me about the Argents being in town, I couldn’t — he worked it out, okay.”

Laura’s leaning against the window and she laughs quietly. “Stiles always was too smart for his own good. Mom was convinced he’d work out the family secret.”

“He would’ve if we hadn’t left.” Derek’s sure of it. “His dad’s off tomorrow.”

Worrying her lip, Laura nods, the alpha mantle on her shoulders now. “We’ll go then.”

*

Derek’s woken up by Laura’s heartbeat pounding in his ears and he’s over to her bedroom before he’s even realised he’s moved. She’s half shifted and shaking, sweat pouring down her face, a low whine in her throat as he approaches.

“Laura?”

Sniffing, she raises her head and looks at him. “Derek?” Her claws are embedded in her palms, and there’s a disgusting noise as she pulls them out.

“I’m here,” he says, sitting on the edge of the bed and taking her hand. Smearing the fresh blood on her palm he examines her face as it shifts back to human. “What happened?”

“Dream. It was — I was buried.”

The words are a knife to his heart and he involuntarily squeezes her hand. “I didn’t do that.”

“I know you didn’t. It’s okay, Derek. I’ll be fine.”

“You’re not fine.”

She gives him a weak smile. “But I will be. Now get out, I need to shower.”

Kissing the side of her head, Derek lets go of her hand and starts to walk away. Stopping by the doorway, he taps on the wood and meets her eyes. “Don’t pretend with me,” he says. “Whatever happens to you, I want to know.”

Laura nods silently and Derek walks away, closing the door behind him. When he’s back in his room, he takes comfort in being able to hear her moving around. Derek normally tunes her out without realising; it has to be done in a family of werewolves or else you’d lose your mind constantly focusing in on heartbeats and breathing. Now, though, he needs to make sure she’s okay. When she gets into the shower, he gives her some privacy — there are limits — but then there’s the sounds of her stripping the sheets off her bed, getting changed and Derek doesn’t fall asleep until after she does.

*

Waking up from a deep sleep, Derek can smell bacon cooking in the kitchen and he smiles to himself as he sits up, raking his fingers through his mussed up hair. Laura only makes bacon when she’s made an important decision, and the sweet smell of pancakes also floating around the apartment means she’s happy with the choice she’s made.

Stumbling out of his room, Derek makes grabby hands for a mug of coffee, grunting when Laura sticks one in his hands. Sipping at the sugary coffee, Derek slowly comes to life, staring down at the pile of pancakes Laura places on the table. There’s a platter of perfectly cooked bacon next to it and a bottle of syrup just waiting for Derek to get his hands on it.

It’s the closest thing to a perfect breakfast they’ve had since they left New York, and possibly even before that; maybe not since they were all together in the old house, everyone alive and happy.

Loading his plate up with food, Derek pours syrup over it all, smirking at the look of disgust on Laura’s face, and starts to eat.

“You’re so gross with food,” she says, primly cutting her pancakes, raising her eyebrows at Derek.

Choking down his mouthful, Derek laughs at her. “I’ve seen you eat four Big Macs in less than five minutes and I’m gross?”

“Full moon hunger, I can’t be blamed for that.”

“Uh huh.”

“Shut up before I dunk you in syrup.”

Derek snorts and stuffs a forkful of pancakes in his mouth. “Are we telling them today?” he asks after he’s washed them down with some coffee.

Chewing around a bite, Laura nods. “You’re right. They deserve to know. Mom would’ve told them by now.”

“They’ll be okay with it,” Derek says.

“You trying to reassure me, or yourself?”

Derek sticks his tongue out at her before reaching for more bacon.

*

Stiles and John are waiting for them, and after they’ve welcomed Laura back with enthusiastic hugs and an offer of help with anything they may need, they settle on the couch that still smells the same as it did when Derek and Laura were staying here. It’s a little worn, and there's a few more stains on it, but there’s the sweet homey smell that always floats around the Stilinskis and gets under Derek’s skin like a soothing balm.

“I’m guessing we’re here for a reason,” John says, sinking into his recliner. “And not only to welcome you both home.”

Laura fixes her eyes on him. “What did Stiles tell you?”

“Nothing,” Stiles jumps in, his leg bumping against Derek’s thigh. “I didn’t say anything.” He’s leaning into Derek slightly, his bare arm pressed against Derek’s henley. Derek can feel the heat coming off Stiles’ body, and he’s got Laura on his other side, so this is really not the time for him to be thinking anything to do with Stiles. Not that he does. Stiles shrugs and glances at Derek quickly. “I don’t really know anything anyway, and it’s not my story to tell.”

The room goes quiet for a moment and then Laura sighs and hits Derek on the shoulder. “You do it.”

Glaring at Laura, Derek looks at the Sheriff and then at Stiles. “This is something our parents wanted both of you to know, but we never got the chance to tell you.”

John’s face is soft as he gestures for Derek to carry on. “It can’t be that bad, son.”

“Depends on how you feel about werewolves,” Derek blurts out and, well, that wasn’t exactly how he was going to say it.

Stiles jumps up from the couch and punches the air with a grin on his face. “I knew it!” Looking down at Derek, Stiles flushes and sits back down. “Sorry. I didn’t — there had to be something going on that wasn’t human.”

They all stare at him until Laura smothers a laugh with her hand. “Sorry, sorry. It’s just that Derek said you’d guess. Mom always thought so too.”

“Not that I’m not willing to believe you,” John says, his eyebrows raised. “But is there —” he waves a hand in the air. “Something you can do to prove it?”

“There is.” Derek extends his hand and sneaks a look at Stiles. “You might want to move away.”

“You’re not going to hurt me,” Stiles says with conviction.

A small smile on his face, Derek looks away and lets the shift come over him; his claws coming out, fangs sliding down, and when there’s no reaction from the room, he lets his face fully change. Both of the Stilinski’s heart rates speed up, but not from fear, and when he opens his eyes, they’re both staring at him. Stiles has a look of fascination on his face, and John looks as if everything is suddenly making sense.

“Okay.” John rubs a hand over his face. “Laura, you can do this as well?”

“I can. I can also fully shift, into a wolf, but I didn’t think you’d appreciate me shedding in the house.”

A bark of laughter escapes John’s mouth as he sits back in his chair. “You’re right about that.”

“Dude.” Stiles hasn’t taken his eyes off Derek and he cautiously reaches a hand out, his fingers grazing across the back of Derek’s arm. “Can I?” Off Derek’s nod, Stiles carefully touches Derek’s fingers, tracing the claws all the way to the tips. There’s a flush on Stiles’ cheeks and there’s a — oh. Oh. Derek knows that scent, and if he wasn’t shifted, he’s sure his face would be matching Stiles’ flush. “Wow,” Stiles says, turning Derek’s hand over. “What else can you do?”

“We can tell when you’re lying,” Derek smirks. “We’re stronger, we heal faster than humans, and our senses are sharper and don’t even think of making a dog joke.”

John clears his throat to get their attention. “Why are you telling us this now?”

“The fire,” Laura says. “It was started on purpose and the family who were involved are back in town. We need your help.”

“I see. What family is it?”

“The Argents.” Derek’s voice is small and he stares at his hands. “They’re hunters, they hunt what we are, they say they’ll only kill werewolves who kill people but our family — we didn’t hurt anyone.”

There’s a quiet noise from Stiles’ throat and he presses closer to Derek, his hand clutching Derek’s elbow. “We know that.”

“It was Kate Argent,” Laura picks up, her nostrils flaring at the name. “She came after Derek and persuaded him to show her how to get into the house. Her brother and his family are the ones in town now and we don’t think he knows what his sister did.”

“What is it you want me to do?” John’s mouth is a thin line, his eyes hard.

“You have resources we don’t.” Laura edges forward on the couch. “I think the arson investigator was paid off and I want to know who did it. If we know that, then that might be a tie to Kate, and that’s real, human evidence.”

John scratches the back of his head and sighs. “I want to help you both — and your family — but I need a reason to reopen the case.”

“Dad, you’re the Sheriff,” Stiles interjects. “That’s got to mean something.”

“I still need something to look into it officially.”

“If we get something for you,” Derek says, painfully aware of Stiles’ hand still gripping his elbow. “Can you do it?”

“Of course.” John scrapes his hands through his hair and puffs out air from his mouth. “Well, this has been quite the evening. Pizza?”

*

The kitchen is covered in pizza boxes, Derek and Laura having given the Stilinskis a short, sharp lesson in how much werewolves can eat. For a while, Stiles was keeping up with them, but now he’s rocking back on his chair and stroking his food baby, smacking Laura away whenever she tries to trip his chair leg. Derek’s comfortable for the first time in a long while. There’s been no hint that Laura wants to make more wolves, wants to make a pack, but here with Stiles and his dad — it feels safe like it does with pack.

Laura’s shoulders aren’t stiff, and she smells relaxed like she hasn’t since Derek brought her back. She’s trading stories with John and she’s smiling, laughing and apologising when John tells her about the night he and Claudia tried to double date with the Hales, but Laura kept calling the restaurant up and asking for her parents.

Stiles groans, pushing his shirt up to examine his full stomach and pats it in satisfaction. “I want ice cream.”

Derek raises an eyebrow and smacks the back of his hand against Stiles’ stomach. “You think you should eat more?”

“Don’t try and shame me,” Stiles says, rubbing where Derek’s hand hit him. “I’m beautiful no matter what I look like.”

“Uh huh.”

“Derekkkkkk, go get me ice cream.”

“What? No.”

Huffing, Stiles tugs his shirt down and pouts. “You always did when we were kids.”

“You’re not a kid any more, Stiles. You’re almost eighteen.”

“Yes, but you’ll always be older.”

Chuckling, Derek rolls his eyes and gets up. Opening the freezer, he roots around for the tub of Phish Food and grabs two spoons out of the drawer, handing one to Stiles and pulling the lid off. “Sharing,” he says, scooping out some for himself.

“I don’t remember this being part of the deal,” Stiles grumbles as he digs in.

Smirking around the spoon in his mouth, Derek ignores the look Laura throws him and concentrates on Stiles, bickering with him over the last scrap of ice cream in the tub.

*

Laura’s nightmares don’t get worse, but they don’t get any easier either. Derek’s lost count of the amount of times he’s woken up to her trying to muffle her screams in her pillow. He’s helpless; she swears it’s not his problem, but he was the one who brought her back, the one who was too weak to go on without his sister and he — he needs to fix it.

Derek’s gathering laundry when his phone goes off, the screen saying Stiles, but it’s the middle of the school day and —

“What’s going on? Are you okay?”

“— n’t believe I found it, we, Derek? Derek are you there?”

“Stiles, what’s going on?” There’s voices in the background and the hand not holding his phone is on the verge of sprouting claws.

“The thing,” Stiles says excitedly. “The thing dad needs to reopen the investigation, I found it.”

His teeth grind against each other as Stiles is silent. “Did you go near the Argents?”

“What? No, dude. I wouldn’t do that. The report from when my dad interviewed Harris? Harris said she had a pendant on, drew it, right?”

“Yes, so?”

“So Allison was wearing that pendant today.” Stiles’ breathing comes down the line and he sounds like he doesn’t want to say the words, but he does, and Derek really does love him for that. “Derek, I think Kate’s back in town.”

“Okay.”

“Okay? Dude, I tell you the woman who killed your family is in town and you say okay? Fuck that, I’m coming over.”

“No, Stiles. Stiles, don’t.” Closing his eyes, Derek concentrates on his breathing, trying to regain his equilibrium. “Your dad will kill me if you leave school in the middle of the day, and he knows how to, now.”

“He wouldn’t actually kill you.” Stiles lets out a deep sigh. “Okay. Okay, I won’t come over. But you’ll come over here, right? Later? You and Laura?”

Derek nods before realising Stiles can’t see him, and when did that happen? When did he start to expect Stiles to be in a room with him? “Yeah,” he says belatedly. “We’ll be there.”

“Good. Oh shi —”

The line goes dead, and Derek is sure Stiles has been caught on the phone by some poor teacher; the image of Stiles trying to talk his way out of it brings a smile to Derek’s face for a moment before the reality comes crashing back down on him. Kate’s back. Derek’s got no reason to disbelieve Stiles about the pendant, and if Allison is wearing it, then she’s had contact with Kate. Which means that Chris knows where Kate is.

*

“You can’t go storming in there, Laura.”

John’s arm is across the doorway, and he’s got no hope of holding back an alpha, but Derek’s sure that Laura won’t hurt him.

“Why not?” Laura’s words come through gritted fangs and she’s struggling with her control, her eyes flashing red every few seconds.

“Laura,” Derek speaks softly, not wanting to startle her. He takes a few steps closer, resting a hand on her arm. “Laura, don’t. Listen to him.” Stiles is breathing down his neck, his chest rising and falling against Derek’s back.

“If they’re protecting her —”

“You said you thought they didn’t know.” Derek grips Laura’s arm, not enough to make her instincts flare up, but enough to remind her that he’s there, that their pack is there. “Trust yourself, Laura. Please.”

Her breathing coming in short, sharp huffs, the red in Laura’s eyes fades away and she slumps a little, falling backwards against Derek. “I need to know,” she whispers.

“I know you do.” Derek strokes a hand through her hair and he and Stiles walk her back into the kitchen, John following behind them. “Coffee?” he asks, looking at Stiles.

“Hot chocolate,” Stiles says decisively, taking the box of cocoa from the cupboard. The smell in the kitchen reminds Derek of nights after the fire, when they couldn’t sleep and John would shove mugs in their hands as they sat on the couch.

“So,” Laura clears her throat, her eyes set in a harsh glare. “What is it you can do?”

John rubs a hand over his face. “Harris was drunk when he met her, he says he’s sure she was wearing the pendant, but that was six years ago. If he’s willing to make a statement that the pendant Stiles saw Allison wearing is the same one —”

“Yeah, like he’d do that,” Stiles snorts, before shutting up when John shoots him a glare. He brings the mugs over, handing the Garfield one to Derek with a grin.

“Like I was saying. If he’s willing to make a statement, then I can look in to it. I’ll talk to him tomorrow, before the lacrosse game.” Sipping at his hot chocolate, John looks at Laura. “I’ve got an interview scheduled at the weekend with the arson investigator as well. I’m trying, Laura.”

“I know, I’m sorry. I — it’s hard.”

Derek startles at Laura admitting weakness. It’s not something she’s ever done around him, not since she became alpha. He doesn’t know if it’s being with people she trusts, if she’s deferring to John, or if it’s because she came back. Derek doesn’t want to ask.

The room falls silent, only the sounds of Stiles stirring his hot chocolate echoing. Stiles elbows Derek in the side. “You coming to the game?”

“Why would I come to the game?”

“Because I’m playing.”

Raising an eyebrow at Stiles, Derek wraps his hand around his mug, letting the warmth sink into his skin. “Playing?”

“Sitting on the bench with Scott, whatever. You should come. Laura, too. Integrate the werewolves back into society.”

“You’re an idiot,” Derek says.

“That’s not an answer.” Stiles nudges him with his sock clad foot and deliberately widens his eyes. Derek is slightly ashamed of how easily he folds.

“What time?”

Stiles crows with victory as Laura looks over at them. “You can sit with dad, and, oh, you can see Scott’s mom again.” Gulping down a mouthful of liquid, Stiles smirks, smears of hot chocolate in the corners of his mouth. “We can go out for dinner afterwards?”

“I already said we’ll come to the game, Stiles, you don’t need to bribe us.”

“He needs to bribe me,” Laura interjects. “Watching teenage boys run around with sticks is not my idea of a good Friday night.” She’s folding her arms over her chest and she looks so much like Laura, it makes Derek ache because that’s her, that’s his sister. Not his alpha, his sister, and that’s what he’s missed. That’s why he wanted her back. When he meets her eyes, there’s a question in them and Derek shrugs, shaking his head.

*

“What the hell is that?”

Derek looks down at himself and shrugs. “It’s a shirt.”

“It’s your high school lacrosse jersey,” Laura says, running a hand down the sleeve. “How do you even still have it? How do you still fit in it?”

“It was in the car.” Derek shrugs Laura off and tugs at the hem, fingers playing idly with a loose thread. “I didn’t bring it into the house after that last game we had and — I guess mom never did either.”

“I don’t remember you picking it up.”

Derek grabs his leather jacket from the hook by the door and slips it on. “It’s not a big deal, Laura. Can we go? You know Stiles will make faces at us if we’re late.”

*

It’s busy at the lacrosse field, the stands filled with parents and friends and, not for the first time, Derek contemplates just how weird Beacon Hills really is. He spots Stiles and Scott helping to carry equipment to the field and raises a hand, hiding a smirk when Stiles fumbles the sticks, shoving them into Scott’s arms and racing over to Derek.

“You came.” Stiles has a small grin on his face, and Derek’s sure Stiles thought he and Laura wouldn’t show up.

“Said we would, dumbass,” Laura punches Stiles lightly on the shoulder and looks over at the stands. “Your dad still interviewing Harris?”

“Yeah. Said he’ll be done before the game starts.”

“Oh my God, Finstock is still here?” Eyes widening, Laura looks back at Stiles. “Why are you on this team again? He once made Derek puke with the amount of suicides he had the team do.”

Stiles frowns, his mouth opening as he licks his lips. “How does that work, anyway? If you’re stronger and faster than people? Do you switch it off? Or is this why Beacon Hills kept winning shit even with Finstock as a coach?”

“A bit of both,” Derek says, hitching one shoulder up.

“Huh.” Stiles grins at him. “Cheater.”

“He’s got you there, baby brother.”

“Stop calling me that. It wasn’t cheating, it was using my natural abilities.” Derek rests his hands on his hips, his jacket falling open and as soon as Stiles’ eyes fall to his shirt, he regrets wearing it.

“Dude, you’re wearing your jersey?” Stiles’ eyes light up. “That’s so cool.”

Or maybe he doesn’t regret it. “Showing some team spirit,” Derek grins. “It’s nothing special.”

“You’re home,” Stiles says softly. “It’s nice to see you realising that.”

“It’s just a jersey, Stiles.”

“Says you.”

Laura’s been watching them with a thoughtful look on her face and Derek really doesn’t want to know what she’s thinking, because it won’t end well for him. Pointing over at the field, he pushes Stiles’ shoulder a little. “Shouldn’t you be helping Scott?”

“What? Oh, yeah.” Huffing out a sigh, Stiles scratches the back of his head. “Another thrilling night of sitting on the bench.”

Squeezing Stiles’ shoulder lightly, Derek offers him a small smile. “You don’t have to be on the team, you know.”

“Yeah. I know, I — I like it, sometimes. Not when Finstock’s yelling at us, but it’s fun. Gets my energy out?” Stiles unconsciously leans into Derek’s touch, enough that Derek notices. “I’d probably spend all my time playing video games with Scott if I didn’t have it.”

“Then go and join your team,” Derek says before letting go of Stiles.

Shooting one last look at Derek and Laura, Stiles runs off towards Scott, helping him sort out the helmets, the back of his neck bright red. Turning to Laura, Derek rolls his eyes at the look on her face. “What?”

“Nothing.” Laura links her arm through his and pulls him along. “Come on, I can see John.”

*

Derek finds himself squashed between Laura and John, the hard bleacher seats making his ass go numb. Scott’s mom is the other side of John, and she’s one of the few people who hasn’t given Derek and Laura the faux sympathetic look since they’ve been back in town.

It’s comfortable, the old high school spirit settling back inside him, and when the chants start up, Laura surprises him by remembering almost every word. She’s laughing, her shoulder relaxed, and 10 minutes into the game she pulls at Derek’s jacket to make him show off his old jersey. If he didn’t know she couldn’t get drunk, he would have serious questions about whether she smuggled a flask in.

Then it goes to shit.

John stiffens next to him, his shoulders going tense and he swears under his breath. “She’s here.”

Derek’s vision blurs because he can’t — this isn’t something he can deal with. He concentrates on the feel of Laura next to him, searches out the scent of Stiles because it grounds him, and then John’s hand is resting on his back and he closes his eyes.

“Derek?” Laura’s voice is small and Derek takes a moment before nodding, opening his eyes and breathing deeply.

“I’m okay. Where is she?”

“Sitting with her brother and niece,” John says. He pats Derek’s back awkwardly, his lips in a thin line and Derek wants to run, he does, but the feel of his pack around him is keeping him steady and he —

“Derek, seriously, I need you to say something.” Laura’s hand is digging into his arm, and he knows her eyes are close to flashing.

Putting a hand over hers, Derek turns to Laura, takes in the concern on her face and nods at her. “I’ve got my pack,” he says quietly. “I’m okay.” He glances down the bleachers and spots her, the shock of blonde hair and a wicked grin on her face that he used to love. Hair that used to fall over her face when they fucked. She’s whispering in Allison’s ear and pointing at some of the kids on the field and it takes everything Derek has to choke down the bile in his stomach.

Tearing his eyes away from her, Derek seeks out Stiles, watching the way he bounces on the bench when Beacon Hills gets the ball, how he cheers for his teammates, flinging an arm around Scott’s shoulders and fluffing his hair. It settles something inside him, and he tries not to think about it too hard with his sister and John right next to him, but Derek knows, deep in his gut, that Stiles is — somehow, he’s it. And Derek doesn’t understand why, or how, but it’s there.

“We’ll get her, Derek.” John’s jaw is set as he stares down at the Argents.

Derek has to believe him because the alternative is that Kate gets away with what she did, that she’s allowed to carry on living in the world. So he has to believe.

*

Beacon Hills win the game, and Scott and Stiles both get a little game time towards the end, which makes John and Melissa beam with joy. Stiles turns around at the end of the game, grinning up at the stands where they’re all sitting and Derek smiles back, ignoring the churning in his gut that happens when he hears Kate’s voice through the crowd.

They all wait for Scott and Stiles to finish changing, John and Melissa sticking close to Derek and Laura. Derek doesn’t know how much John has told Melissa, but she’s circling around him like a mother does, and it makes him miss his own mom so desperately.

When Scott and Stiles come running out of the building, cheeks flushed and grins on their faces, John pulls Stiles aside with Derek and Laura. Brow furrowed, Stiles takes one look at Derek and says, “what’s wrong?”, his hand reaching out to touch Derek’s shoulder.

Arms wrapped around himself, Derek’s fingers dig into his leather jacket as he avoids Stiles’ eyes. “She’s here.”

“She —” Stiles’ eyes widen, his jaw tightening as he looks at Derek. “What the fuck.”

“Stiles,” John says.

“Sorry, sorry, but if anything deserves —” Stiles shakes his head and breathes out slowly, his hand stroking up and down Derek’s arm. “Hey,” he says quietly. “You okay?”

Derek nods, concentrating on the feel of Stiles’ hand, the subtle scent of his bodywash in the air. “Can we go?”

“Yeah,” Laura answers. “Dinner?”

“Pizza,” Stiles says decisively. “Everything is better with pizza. Do you — is it okay if Scott and his mom come as well?”

After Derek nods and unfolds his arms, Stiles shouts over to Scott and they make their way off the lacrosse field, heading towards the cars. Derek lingers before getting in the car with Laura, sure that he can feel someone’s eyes on him, but a quick glance behind him doesn’t show anyone. Shrugging it off, he tips his head back against the headrest, flexing his fingers and trying to regain his equilibrium.

“Sure you want to go out?” Laura’s voice is steady and even, not betraying the speed of her heartbeat. Sometimes she forgets that Derek can hear her as much as she can hear him.

“I’ll be fine, Laura.”

“But —”

“Don’t bring it up, okay?” Derek shakes his head and stares out of the windscreen at Stiles’ Jeep ahead of them. “What am I meant to do about it? I want to have a dinner with people I care about and not think about her being in town.”

Laura’s quiet for a long while before she exhales, shooting Derek a look as she pulls into the parking lot. “Okay. We can do that.” Giving him a weak smile, Laura switches the car off and gets out, waiting for Derek to follow. They join up with Stiles and John along the way, Melissa and Scott following after with Scott jumping on Stiles’ back as they approach the pizza place.

The familiar scents of dough, sauce and mozzarella hit Derek and it’s a subtle comfort; a reminder of the times he’s spent at Luca’s Place with his pack, with people he’s loved. Knocking his shoulder against Laura’s he offers her a smile as they walk through the door, Stiles and Scott loudly proclaiming they could eat three pizzas each.

Laughing at Melissa cuffing Scott lightly on the shoulder, Derek sits down next to Stiles in the booth and glances at the menu.

“Why are you looking at that?” Stiles nudges Derek with his elbow. “You always get the same thing. Meat. Lots of meat.”

“I could want something else.”

Snorting, Stiles plucks the menu from Derek’s hands and raises an eyebrow. “Not likely.” Scanning the menu, Stiles’ eyes light up and he waves it in the air. “Hey, dad, they’re doing low cal pizzas.”

“No.”

“But —”

“I’m having regular pizza, Stiles. Lots of cheese, and a bunch of pepperoni, and you’re not gonna stop me.”

Scowling at his dad, Stiles turns back to the menu, mumbling things about salads for work. Hiding a smile, Derek leans back in the booth and nods at Scott. “What have you been doing?”

“Working,” Scott says, fiddling with his water glass.

“At Deaton’s, right?”

“Yeah.” Scott frowns at Derek. “How’d you know?”

Derek shrugs, his shoulder brushing against Stiles. “Deaton’s an old family friend, and Stiles told me. You enjoy it?”

“It’s better than a lot of jobs around here, and he pays well.” Shooting a look at Melissa, Scott grins at Derek. “I’m saving up for a bike.”

“Uh, what was that?” Melissa says, turning away from John to face Scott. “Are you still going on about that bike? Because that is not happening.”

“Mom, it’s totally safe.”

“You come and sit in on a shift with me and you’ll see just how safe they are.”

They continue bickering back and forth, the rest of the table looking on in amusement until their waiter approaches the table, effectively postponing the arguing. There’s easy conversation as they chow down slice after slice, and Derek feels the weight on his shoulders from the game start to lift. Next to him, Stiles is in constant motion, his fingers flying over items on the table; somehow Stiles ends up with sauce in his hair and Derek shakes his head when he notices.

“What?” Stiles jerks his head away when Derek twists to face him, a napkin in his hand.

“You’ve got sauce in your hair.” Derek reaches towards Stiles again, clamping a hand on his arm when Stiles almost falls out of the booth. “Hold still,” he says, dabbing at Stiles’ hair until it’s all out. When Derek drops the napkin on the table, everyone else is looking at them, and he can feel the flush on his cheeks, his heart beating double time.

“Um, thanks,” Stiles says quietly, his thigh pressing against Derek’s under the table. “Wouldn’t want to walk out with sauce in my hair.”

John snorts and points his glass at Stiles. “Hardly the strangest thing you’ve had on your head.”

“Hey, hey, we’re not going to talk about that.”

Laura looks between them with a predatory smirk on her face. “What aren’t we talking about?”

“Not long after you left,” John starts, ignoring the groan from Stiles. “Stiles decided he needed to accessorise his head.”

“Dad, seriously?” Stiles whines, collapsing into himself and resting his head against the table.

“I think Derek and Laura should know what they missed.”

“Go on,” Laura says with a grin.

“Make it stop.” Stiles voice is muffled and Derek rests his hand against Stiles’ back, rubbing in small circles.

John spares a smile at Stiles’ actions and takes a sip of his soda before carrying on. “There were the trucker hats with varying slogans. The beanies in multiple colours. There was a cowboy hat which, I’ve gotta say kid, even I didn’t understand. Then there were —”

“Stop,” Stiles says, raising his head from the table. “Please, if you love me at all, you’ll stop.”

“No salads at work next week?”

“Seriously?” Stiles glares at John, tapping his fingers on the table. “You can alternate, okay? And don’t think I don’t know about your secret trips to Susie’s Bakery.”

“I’ve done no such thing.”

“Liar.”

Melissa clears her throat and taps her hand on the table. “Anyone for dessert?”

*

Leaving Luca’s, they decide to take a shortcut to the parking lot, cutting through the side streets. There’s a strange churning in Derek’s gut as they step outside the building, but he ignores it in favour of asking Melissa about her work.

Then everything goes wrong.

He’s on the ground, covering Stiles and Melissa with his body and he doesn’t need to turn around to know that Laura has done the same to John. Waiting for a moment, he looks up, sees the spent shot on the floor, smelling the wolfsbane and —

“Laura?” John’s pushed Laura off him and is staring down at her arm in horror. It’s smoking, a bullet embedded in her forearm and, no, no Derek can’t lose her, not again, not like this.

Scrabbling over to her, Derek cradles her head in his lap. “I need the other bullet,” he says, meeting John’s eyes.

“Where —”

“Over there.” Derek inclines his head in the direction and John nods, eyes narrowing as he pulls out his pocket flashlight and starts searching.

“Derek,” Melissa cautiously comes closer. “We should call an ambulance.”

“No.”

“It’s what she needs.”

Stiles is by Derek’s side in an instant, resting a hand on Derek’s shoulder and squeezing. Looking at Melissa, Stiles shakes his head. “She doesn’t need that. I can’t explain right now, but she doesn’t.”

“Stiles, I don’t —”

“Mom,” Scott interjects, his eyes fixed on the way Laura’s veins are turning black. “Trust them, okay? If whatever they’re planning doesn’t work, we’ll do it your way.”

Lips pressed together, Melissa nods once. “What do you need me to do?”

“Stiles, get the lighter out of my jacket,” Derek says as John comes back with the bullet. “I need something with a flat surface.”

“Oh, here.” Scott fumbles with his coat pocket, pulling out a flyer for a local burger joint and handing it to Derek.

“You might not want to watch this.” Derek flicks his hand, letting his claws come out. Ignoring the shocked gasps from Scott and Melissa, Derek leans over Laura. “I’m sorry,” he whispers before he holds her forearm and digs out the bullet with his claws. Blood spills down his hand, running down his arm and soaking his clothes, but he gets the bullet out, dropping it in John’s outstretched hand. “I need people to help hold her down.”

John moves down and holds Laura’s ankles, his eyes fixed on Derek. Opening the spare bullet, Derek spills the wolfsbane on the flyer and holds his hand out to Stiles, who puts the lighter in his palm. Derek flicks the lighter and waits for the spark. “Hold her,” he says before gathering up the ash and pressing it into Laura’s wound. Before she can buck away, Derek grabs her shoulders, grounding her as she twists on the floor, the roar that echoes from her mouth a primal, terrifying sound.

And then she stops, her body going limp and Derek looks down at her. “Laura?”

“Yeah,” she croaks. Lifting one hand, she touches Derek’s hand on her shoulder. “Yeah I’m — it was her.”

“Kate?” John says sharply.

“Uh huh.” Laura struggles to a sitting position, wincing at the blood smeared on her arm, on Derek’s hands. “I saw her.”

“What?” Stiles jumps to his feet and looks around. “Where? She’s walking around with a rifle?”

“She’s gone now, doofus,” Laura says with a fond smile.

“Uh, guys?” Scott’s looking at them with wide eyes. “Someone want to explain what’s going on?”

Derek looks down at Laura before glancing at Stiles, who shrugs and says, “it’s your secret to tell,” with a small smile.

“Werewolves,” is all Derek says. He’s dimly aware of Stiles and John clapping their hands to their faces and groaning, but Derek’s really not in the mood for long explanations.

Melissa’s looking at Laura’s arm and nodding to herself. “That would explain a lot. Your family?”

“Most of them,” Laura says. “It’s why they were killed.” Getting to her feet, she glances around the alley. “Can we go somewhere? This feels exposed.”

“Back to ours?” Stiles suggests, already leading the way back to the parking lot, Scott on his heels. Derek can hear Scott asking questions, and Stiles trying to shrug them off, saying that it’s not his story and that — Derek appreciates that.

*

“So,” Melissa says when they’re all settled at the Stilinski house. “Werewolves.”

Leaning against the wall, a mug of coffee in her clean hands, Laura shrugs. “Yeah. That going to be a problem?”

“You don’t go around killing people, right?”

Laura shakes her head, smiling a little, and Derek senses the warmth and comfort radiating from everyone in the room. “We’re not that different to humans,” Laura says. “There’s the healing, and our senses are better, but we —” She breaks off and takes a deep breath. “Our mom raised us to be human as well as wolves. We’re not one or the other, and we know how to control ourselves.”

Taking it in, Melissa glances around the room at their faces. She meets Derek’s eyes and gives him a right smile. “Well. As utterly insane as this all sounds, I believe you.” Looking at Laura, she inclines her head. “I trust you.”

“Have you known all along?” Scott finally bursts out, hitting Stiles on the arm.

“Dude, ouch.” Stiles rubs his arm, frowning at Scott. “And no, it wasn’t — we found out when Derek and Laura came home. I didn’t know before that. Though,” he grins over at Derek. “At least there’s an explanation for why Derek gets grumpy once a month.”

Derek throws a cushion at him. “Ass,” he says, trying to hide a smile.

“There’s one question I have.” Melissa straightens up on the couch, a serious look on her face. “Who shot you?”

The room falls silent, Stiles and John exchanging looks before John waves a hand at Laura. “You can tell her if you want.”

“Derek?” Laura says. “Do you mind?”

Derek automatically seeks out Stiles, wanting the steady support he can sense from him. “It’s okay,” he says, not taking his eyes off Stiles. “Tell them.”

“Kate Argent.”

“What?” Scott startles next to Stiles and looks at Laura. “Allison’s aunt? Why would she —”

“The Argents are werewolf hunters. They say they abide by a code, but Kate doesn’t. As far as we know, Allison and her father have never done anything similar, but Kate is — she’s manipulative and ruthless.”

“That’s why you wanted to know about Allison’s necklace,” Scott says absently to Stiles. “It belonged to Kate, right?”

“Yeah.” Stiles shrugs, looking slightly shamefaced. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but it wasn’t mine to tell, and I didn’t want to put you in danger.”

“She set the fire.” Melissa doesn’t phrase it as a question. “You’re trying to prove it.”

“We don’t need to prove it. She did it,” Laura says, a hard set to her jaw. “But, yes. We needed the necklace to help John pull a case together.”

“The bullets will help,” John says, turning them over in his hand. “The one that didn’t go in Laura. There aren’t that many people in town with rifles, most who hunt come in from neighbouring counties, and the Argents are arms dealers, which gives me a reason to question them.”

“Really?” Derek tries to keep the hope out of his voice, but he knows he fails by the almost pitying look John gives him.

“That doesn’t mean we’ll find anything. What we want to happen is for them to refuse, then I can call in a favour and get a warrant, and we can tear up their house, but —” he shakes his head. “I’m getting ahead of myself, and it’s getting late. I’ve got an appointment with the arson investigator tomorrow to show him Kate’s photo.”

“Did Harris —”

“Yes, Stiles, Harris said it was her he spoke to, but you know we need more than that.”

“Wait, what?” Scott pauses as he’s pulling his coat on. “Harris is involved?”

“Yeah,” Stiles answers with a wince. “He told Kate how to, y’know, burn down a house.”

“Does this mean he’ll get fired?”

“Huh.” Stiles makes a face. “I didn’t think of that.”

“That’d be cool,” Scott says with a grin.

Melissa rolls her eyes and tugs Scott by his collar. “Say goodnight, Scott.”

Hastily waving, Scott follows Melissa out of the house, trying to explain that it’s not like he wants all his teachers to be fired, only the nasty ones. Derek looks over at Laura, who isn’t even trying to hide her laughter as she listens to their conversation.

“Are you staying?” John asks Derek as he stands up, rubbing a hand over his face.

“I don’t — Laura?”

Laura’s taken Scott’s place on the couch, curling her legs underneath herself, her face pale and strained. “Can we? After tonight I want to be here. With pack.”

“We’re pack?” Stiles looks up in surprise, his fingers digging into his jeans.

Rolling her eyes, Laura stretches a leg out and pokes Stiles in the side. “Dummy.”

“Oh.”

“You both know where everything is,” John says. “Sleep wherever you want, the guest room is still, well, it’s still there.” He stops in the doorway and turns around, a soft smile on his face. “I’m glad you’re okay, Laura. Goodnight.”

“Night, dad,” Stiles calls as John heads up the stairs. “There isn’t anything in the basement anymore, but the mattress is in the guest room, so where do you want it?”

The question is directed at Derek and he shrugs, not really minding where he sleeps. “Wherever.”

“Helpful as ever.” Stiles makes a face and gets off the couch. “Uh, my room? It’s either that or it stays in the guest room with Laura and she’d probably step on you in the morning or something.”

“Hey,” Laura protests. “I probably wouldn’t do that.”

Derek glares at her and grins when she attempts to smile innocently at him. “I’ll stay in Stiles’ room,” he says.

“Okay.” Stiles claps a hand against Derek’s back. “You’re the ones with super strength, you can move it into my room.”

“It’s not super strength, Stiles.” Derek follows him into the hallway and up the stairs. “Supernatural powers are not the same as super strength. I’m not The Hulk.”

“You kind of are.” Pushing the door to the guest room open, Stiles gestures at the mattress. “I’ll get sheets and stuff from the closet.”

Awkwardly lifting the mattress up, Derek walks the short distance to Stiles’ room, pushing the door open with his foot and dropping the mattress on the floor at the foot of Stiles’ bed.

“Here.” Stiles dumps a pile of bedding on the mattress and throws a pillow from his bed at Derek’s head. “Make yourself a den or whatever, I’m going to go and check on Laura.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“You say the nicest things,” Stiles shoots a grin at Derek before leaving the room.

Derek lays back on the pile of bedding and looks around. The room hasn’t changed that much from when Stiles was a kid; different posters, but the stuffed wolf is still living on Stiles’ bed, and the telescope that used to belong to Claudia is still by the window. There’s school books scattered on Stiles’ desk, and a pinboard with photos and notes on it. Derek can see an old one of him and Stiles before the fire; he’s got sunglasses on to combat the lens flare, and he looks happy.

He can hear Stiles and Laura laughing in the guest room, and his chest warms at the sound of his pack, his family, being together under one roof. It’s not like it was, nothing could be, but it means something to his wolf. Derek sighs and sits up to sort out the bedding. He takes his socks off, liking the feel of the carpet under his bare feet, and stands up, shaking out the sheet Stiles gave him.

“They smell okay?” Stiles asks when he comes back in the room, toting a bag of Reese’s Pieces and two cans of soda. “They’re the cleanest ones we have, so I figured that was the best thing?”

Tucking the edges underneath the mattress, Derek sits in the middle, crossing his legs. “They’re fine.”

“Okay, good.” Stiles hands a can to Derek and fiddles with the tab on his, eventually opening it and taking a sip. “I’m not actually tired, so do you want to watch something? I’ve got Netflix and they just added Avengers.”

“Can I shower first?” He can still smell Laura’s blood on his hands, and there’s no way he’ll be able to sleep with that scent on him.

“Yeah, of course. Towels are where they usually are. Do you want something to wear?” Stiles is already pulling out a pair of sweatpants from his bottom drawer and handing them to Derek. “I don’t know if any shirts I’ve got will fit you, since you decided to go and get all,” he waves a hand at Derek. “Built and shit, but I’ll look while you’re in the shower.”

*

Derek makes it a short shower, not wanting to give himself a chance to think about... anyone. Closing his eyes under the relentless stream of water, he lets out a sigh, hating himself for the way he feels, for the fact that Stiles feels the same way, and — Derek can’t deal with this until everything with Kate is finished. If everything with Kate gets finished. He trusts John, but he doesn’t trust the Argents not to weasel out of this. Scrubbing his hands through his hair, Derek finishes washing and switches the water off.

Quickly drying, he pulls on the sweatpants Stiles gave him. They’re soft, and smell like Stiles, but have a faded logo on the side that says something about police training, so they were obviously John’s to begin with. Rubbing the towel over his head, Derek straightens up the bathroom and walks back to Stiles’ room.

Stiles is splayed out on his bed, headphones on, and wearing pj pants and a faded Aerosmith t shirt that Derek remembers Claudia wearing. One of his knees is bent at an angle and Derek stops in the doorway, watching Stiles for a moment, smiling at the unconscious movement of Stiles’ fingers against his leg as he taps along with whatever he’s listening to. Stiles can’t see him from the angle he’s lying at and Derek takes advantage of it until he starts to feel like a giant creeper. Moving into Stiles’ sightline, Derek raises his eyebrows at him and smirks at the startled movement Stiles, yanking his headphones out of his ears as he sits up.

“Hey, hi. Good shower?”

Derek nods, unable to dismiss the way Stiles’ eyes skirt over his chest, lingering on the sweatpants hanging low on Derek’s hips. “Shirt?” Derek asks, resisting the urge to fold his arms over his chest.

“Here.” Stiles hands him a plain black t shirt. “This should fit you.”

“Thanks.” His skin still feels damp, so he drops it on the mattress and sits on the edge of the bed.

“You know, traditionally people put on t shirts.” Stiles crawls down the bed and sits next to Derek.

“Shut up Stiles,” Derek says with a smile, turning his head to look at Stiles. Their faces are close, too close, and Derek sucks in a breath before looking away, feeling heat spread up his body. “Weren’t we going to watch a movie?” He stands up and turns away from Stiles, making to sit back down on the mattress.

“When did you get a tattoo?” Stiles follows him to the mattress, picking his laptop off his desk and putting it at on the floor. “Wait, how did you get a tattoo?” He sits on the mattress with Derek, narrowing his eyes. “Shouldn’t the healing make that impossible?”

“What question did you want me to answer first?”

“Funny.” Stiles smacks him on the arm and shrugs. “When?”

“Started thinking about it when we were in LA. There was a beta from the East Coast who said he knew someone in New York who could do them. When we got there, I looked him up.”

Stiles nods slowly, his fingers twisting in the blankets by his legs. “What is it? How come you didn’t heal?”

“A wolfsbane variant in the ink. It’s —” Derek bites his lip before continuing. “It’s a triskele. Each of the spirals represents something.” He stretches out on his front, his head near Stiles’ thigh, face nestled against his arms.

“What is it for you?”

Derek can sense Stiles’ need to touch, and he wants to tell him to give in, but Stiles’ fingers on Derek’s bare skin might push him over an edge he’s not sure he’s ready to fall off yet. “It was on a chest my mom had, she always said it was alpha, beta, omega.”

“But what is it for you?”

“You’re irritatingly smart, you know that?” Derek lifts his head enough to see Stiles smiling down at him. “It’s past, present, future. I — it was something I needed. To represent that I wouldn’t always be stuck where I was. That I could move on.”

“Did it work?”

“Getting there.”

Stiles hums thoughtfully before poking at Derek’s arm. “Turn over,” he says, prodding at Derek until he gives in. “Lift your head.” Stiles pushes pillows underneath Derek’s head until he’s propped up, and then he grabs the laptop from the floor. “Give me a moment,” he says, jumping up and switching off the lights before lying back down next to Derek.

Derek doesn’t know where to put his hands with Stiles so close, but that decision is taken away from him when Stiles squirms around before lifting one of Derek’s arms up and curling up under it, his head resting against Derek’s bare chest. Sucking in a breath, Derek rests his fingers against Stiles’ arm.

“This okay?” Stiles asks, tentatively. His heart is beating faster than usual, and it would be so easy for Derek to say no, to push Stiles away, but he doesn’t want to do that.

“Yeah,” Derek says. “Yeah.”

Stiles relaxes against him as the movie starts to play. The scent of Stiles surrounds Derek, his warm body pressed up against him, and it should be unbearable, it should make the itch beneath Derek’s skin become worse, but it doesn’t. It’s soothing, and Derek has a vague memory of feeling like this when he was younger, when he —

When he’d met Stiles the first time.

It’s not exactly a shock to Derek’s system; he’s always known that he and Stiles’ relationship was different, that his mom had taken the time to explain that Stiles was special, but this is Stiles anchoring him. Derek left Beacon Hills to stop this from happening. It wasn’t that he didn’t want Stiles as an anchor, but it wasn’t fair to Stiles, not when he was a kid, and not now. Breathing steadily, Derek tries to concentrate on the movie, but his brain is telling him that he’s safe; that he’s surrounded by pack and he can feel himself slumping into the pillows stacked behind him.

The last thing he hears before he drifts off is Stiles’ amused chuckle.

*

Derek wakes up in a panic, not sure what’s going on, or where he is. There’s a lump on his chest which he soon realises is Stiles, and he can hear a whimpering noise that definitely isn’t Stiles. Carefully moving Stiles off his chest, Derek sits up, a frown on his face as he listens to the noise that seems to be coming from Laura.

“Whazzat?” Stiles’ slack mouth rubs against the pillows, his fingers twitching against Derek’s bare arm. Opening his eyes, Stiles blinks a few times before focusing on Derek. “Fell asleep on you. Sorry.”

Shaking his head, Derek smiles at him. “It’s fine.”

“What woke you up?”

“Laura. She’s been having nightmares, I have to —”

Scrambling to sit up, Stiles looks at Derek, his eyes wide. “Why’s she having nightmares? Is it Kate?”

“More complicated than that.” Getting to his feet, Derek hesitates with his hand on the door. “You might not — she can get violent.”

“Can I wait outside the door?”

Derek sighs, not wanting to have Stiles anywhere near danger, but maybe, possibly, being around pack will help Laura. Nodding, he opens the door and waits for Stiles to join him. Laura’s whimpering gets worse the closer Derek gets to the guest room and he motions for Stiles to stay in the hall.

“Laura,” he says, stepping into the room. Derek takes a few steps towards the bed and reaches out, shaking Laura lightly. She’s not wolfed out, but her breath is coming in short, sharp gasps and there’s a thin sheen of sweat on her skin. Her eyes fly open, her hands gripping Derek’s arm tightly.

“What —” Laura swallows and closes her eyes for a moment, her grip on Derek relaxing. “Another nightmare?”

“Yeah.” Sitting on the edge of the bed, Derek brushes his knuckles over her forearm. “What was it?”

“The same.” Laura looks away, staring at the wall that holds a photo of Stiles and Claudia at the Hale’s annual fourth of July cookout. “Buried, not able to breathe. My claws — I was scratching and I couldn’t get out.”

There’s a knock at the door and Stiles pokes his head around, hair sticking up every which way. “Can I?” Derek nods in response and Stiles walks in, sitting on the floor by the bed. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Stiles asks, shadows playing across his face. “Because there’s no reason for Laura to be dreaming about being buried.”

Sometimes Derek thinks Stiles is too smart for his own good. Exchanging a look with Laura, Derek rolls his eyes when Laura makes a face that Derek knows means he has to tell the story. “Laura died,” he says. “When we first got back, she was out running in the preserve and she was shot at with a wolfsbane coated arrow. It went straight into her heart.”

“Okay.” Stiles rubs the heels of his hands into his eyes, sighing heavily. “After everything, that’s not so hard to believe. But, I mean, she’s obviously not dead, so.” He waves a hand in the air and raises an eyebrow at Derek.

Shifting uncomfortably, Derek licks his lips. “There was a ritual. I — when Laura died, I became an Alpha. I didn’t want it. Deaton helped.”

“Wait, Scott’s boss knows about werewolves?”

“He’s always known,” Laura says from the bed, her eyes still closed. “He’s an advisor, that’s as much as I can say.”

“Way to be mysterious, Laura,” Stiles snorts. “But she’s okay now, right?” He directs the question towards Derek, his eyes wide with worry.

“Aside from the nightmares, she’s the same pain in the ass she’s always been.” Derek dodges Laura’s attempt to hit him, ending up on the floor with Stiles, leaning against the bed.

“Does my dad know?”

Derek shakes his head, stretching his legs out on the floor, his feet knocking against Stiles’ shins. “You’re the only one who wasn’t involved who knows.”

“Oh.”

There’s silence in the room for a while until Laura makes a noise and sits up. “I need a shower before I go back to sleep, so I’m going to go and do that. You two should go back to bed as well; it’s been a long day.”

There’s a firm tone in her voice and Derek scrambles to his feet, holding his hand out to Stiles to help him up. Stiles doesn’t let go of his hand when he’s upright and Derek’s skin feels heated as he tries to ignore the softness of Stiles’ hand in his, how Stiles holds on like Derek is grounding him as much as Stiles grounds Derek. Ignoring Laura’s pointed look, Derek lets Stiles tug him out of the guest room and lead him back to Stiles’ room. When they’re back inside, Stiles walks over to his bed, still clasping Derek’s hand, and sits down, leaving Derek no choice but to sit next to him.

“Is she really okay?” Stiles asks in a quiet voice. “The nightmares, will she always have them?”

“I don’t know. Tonight she was better than she has been.”

“What do you mean?”

Derek looks at Stiles, his mouth quirking into a sly grin. “You wouldn’t have much of a guest room left if she did what she normally did.”

“Oh.” Stiles brow furrows, a small line between his eyebrows that Derek finds adorable. “Does that mean — you said Dad and I are pack, right? Does that help her? Make it easier?”

“Maybe.”

“Well if it does, we’ll all have to hang out a lot more.”

“Oh joy.”

Nudging Derek with his shoulder, Stiles laughs. “Shut up, you love me.”

Derek can feel heat rush to his cheeks, and he doesn’t deny it, just lets the words hang there until Stiles’ eyes widen and there’s a flush of red across his cheekbones that Derek can see in the dark. Squeezing Stiles’ hand, Derek lets go and makes to get onto the mattress on the floor. Crawling under the blankets, Derek can hear Stiles’ heart beating extra quickly and he smiles up at the ceiling. “Go to bed, Stiles.”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, his voice soft. “Yeah, okay.”

*

John’s gone by the time they wake up the next morning; the knowledge that he’s meeting with the arson investigator hovering over all of their heads. Derek makes a face when Laura halfheartedly suggests going back to the apartment and she gives in easily, shrugging and saying “we’d have to come back here anyway,” which is true.

They’re in the kitchen, helping Stiles throw together lunch; Derek’s making grilled cheese while Laura instructs Stiles on how to make the tomato soup their mom used to make after full moons. The smell fills the kitchen, and it goes a long way to relaxing Derek. He can’t stop thinking about what will happen if the investigator doesn’t ID Kate, if all of this has been for nothing, if she gets away with it. Stepping closer to Stiles, Derek breathes in the combination of the soup and Stiles’ own scent, his hand unconsciously resting on Stiles’ hip as he leans in.

“Smell okay?” Stiles’ fingers wrap around the wooden spoon as he stirs the soup, the heat of his body radiating against where Derek is pressed against him.

“Yeah. Smells good.”

Laura clears her throat and smirks at Derek when he turns around. “So can we eat?”

“I know you can,” Derek replies with a sugar sweet smile.

“You’re an asshole. Gimme a grilled cheese.”

Derek sets the plate with the pile of grilled cheese on the table with a flourish that has Laura laughing in a way Derek hasn’t heard for a while. He stops and smiles to himself, moving out of the way when Stiles starts to bring over bowls filled with soup. Stiles’ foot rests against Derek’s ankle as they eat, and Laura keeps shooting Derek looks like she knows what’s going on. Which is ridiculous because Derek has no idea what is going on; Stiles is still Stiles, the kid who was there for him when he needed someone, but he’s become more than that and Derek doesn’t know how to handle it.

Stiles is stacking the dishwasher when John comes home, and all of them freeze, waiting for him to get inside the house. There’s a slow burn under Derek’s skin as John walks into the kitchen; he can’t read anything from John’s face and it’s taking all he has not to scream for answers.

“He ID’d her,” John says when he sees all the eyes on him, and Derek sinks down into the waiting chair by the table. “We’re not all the way there yet, but he admitted being bribed by her, said she handed him the payment personally, so there’s that.”

Derek’s barely hearing what John’s saying, blood rushing to his ears, his hands feeling heavy and numb as Laura clutches at one of them. Suddenly Stiles is by his side, leaning against him and Derek slowly comes back to himself. Blinking, he stares at John and swallows. “Really?”

“Really, kid.” John gives him a small smile, reaching out to clap a hand on Derek’ shoulder. “We’re getting there.” Squeezing hard, John clenches his jaw. “We’ll get her.”

*

After that, it’s as if everything speeds up; the search warrant turns up the necklace Harris saw Kate wearing and the gun she used to shoot at Laura. It doesn’t take long for John to dig up information about arsonists in Beacon County, and once he gets them into interrogation, they’re happy enough to spill on Kate in favour of reduced time. Derek doesn’t have any time to wrap his head around it, not until John comes to him and asks if he’d be willing to testify.

“To what she —” Breaking off, Derek stares over John’s shoulder at the certificates on the office wall.

Grimacing, John nods. “I can’t say she won’t tell her lawyer, that she won’t try and drag you into this.”

“But I was with you when the fire happened.”

“I know that, but she’s one fucked up woman.” John takes a swig of his coffee. “Her brother hired her a lawyer, so we’ll have to be prepared for what could happen.”

Brow furrowing, Derek leans forward. “Should you be telling me this?”

“Who are you going to tell?” John says with a shrug. “Look, I don’t want you going into this blind, okay?”

“Okay. Thank you.” Standing up, Derek shifts from foot to foot, awkwardly sticking his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. “It’s, uh, a full moon tonight.”

“Oh. What does that — do you need anything from me?”

“Laura and I will go for a run in the preserve. So if you hear howls...” Derek trails off with a grin.

Huffing out a laugh, John makes a gesture with his hand. “I’ll make sure we don’t send anyone out there.”

*

When Derek suggests to Laura she goes full shift, she looks spooked and shakes her head. “I don’t want to,” she says quietly, picking at her burger.

“Why not?”

“Drop it, Derek. I don’t want to do it tonight.”

Returning his gaze to his fries, Derek bites his lip and sighs. “Okay.”

The run ends up being peaceful; Derek will never be sick of his feet against the ground of the preserve, the power and connection that flows through his veins when he’s shifted during the moon. It’s not something they have to do, but he’s so fucking glad they’re able to do it again on a regular basis. Beacon Hills is home, he senses it with each step he takes as he careens through the trees, his claws catching on the odd bit of bark, and it’s freedom, it’s the settling of his stomach as he and Laura roughhouse until they get too tired to carry on.

Waking up after full moon nights is never fun; even with the accelerated healing, Derek’s body aches. Stretching his limbs out in his bed, Derek rubs a hand over his face before realising he can hear someone in the kitchen and there’s a familiar scent underneath the bacon. Tugging a pair of sweatpants on, Derek stumbles out into the main space. “Stiles?”

“Oh hey, you’re up.” Stiles flips the bacon onto a plate. “Did I wake you?”

“No. What are you — hi?”

“Hi. Sit down. You want pancakes?”

Derek sits down, frowning at the mug of coffee Stiles puts in front of him. Sipping it slowly, he settles into his seat, listening to Stiles bustling around the kitchen. It’s not strange, like it should be, it’s just Stiles and that’s. Derek’s okay with that.

“Here.” Putting two plates on the table, Stiles joins Derek and starts eating, pouring syrup over the pancakes with a gleeful grin.

It takes a moment before Derek starts to eat, the grumble of his stomach making him aware of how hungry he is, and, besides, Stiles is sitting there shooting him nervous looks. “Where’s Laura?”

“Still in bed. She, uh, opened the door for me and snarled before going back to bed.” Stiles is trying to hide a smirk around a mouthful of pancakes, but it’s not working. Derek can see the amusement in his eyes and he lets out a low chuckle.

“You’re lucky she didn’t bite you.”

“Like she’d do that,” Stiles says, wiping his mouth with his hand. “You both love me.”

“Is that right?”

“Pack, remember.”

Derek mock groans, slapping a hand to his face. “I knew we’d regret that.” Laughing when Stiles kicks him under the table, Derek ducks his head, the skin on his chest feeling tight. “Would you ever want it?”

“Want what?”

“The bite.”

“Oh.” Stiles puts his fork down and rest his elbows on the table, staring at Derek. “Do you — would I have to? If we...” skin flushing, Stiles makes an incomprehensible gesture with his hand.

Derek coughs, and he kind of wishes he was wearing a shirt for this, but he can’t not answer Stiles, not when he can hear Stiles’ heart thudding so hard in his chest, can smell how nervous Stiles is. “No, Stiles. You don’t have to be a wolf.”

“Okay. Okay, uh. Then no? I mean, if I’m dying or something, then Laura has full permission to bite me, but I like being human.” He pauses, picking up his fork and swirling the syrup around on his plate. “That’s okay, right?” Stiles’ voice is quiet, nervous, and Derek doesn’t think Stiles should ever feel that way around him.

Reaching over, Derek rests his hand against the curve of Stiles’ neck, his fingers stroking against the delicate skin. “Whatever you want to do is okay with me,” he says softly. Stiles’ pulse is vibrating under his skin and Derek can smell the want coming off him, but that’s not enough, that’s not permission, and he so desperately wants permission. “Stiles, can I —”

And that’s all he manages to get out before Stiles’ mouth is on his and Derek can’t do anything but sink into the kiss. Stiles turns into Derek, his hands skimming up Derek’s bare arms, one hand sliding up the back of Derek’s neck and scratching through his hair. Derek can’t take not touching Stiles, wants to have his hands all over him; his hands slip down Stiles’ body until he can tug him forward, until he can comfortably lift Stiles up and settle him on his lap.

There’s a delighted laugh from Stiles, he’s smiling against Derek’s mouth and Derek kisses Stiles’ bottom lip. “What?” he says, voice low and intimate.

Resting their foreheads together, Stiles shrugs, his fingers rubbing at the base of Derek’s skull. “I forget how strong you are.”

“I don’t have to —”

“Did I say I didn’t like it?”

Derek opens his mouth to reply when there’s a sudden groan from behind him and —

“Really? This is what I wake up to?”

Sighing, his hands holding Stiles in place, Derek tits his head back and meets Laura’s eyes. “Morning.” The glare she throws him loses any power because her hair is still sticking out in tufts, and she’s wearing an old N’Sync t shirt she’d kept at college. “Stiles made food,” Derek says, in an attempt to distract her.

“Stiles is sitting on your lap,” Laura responds, grabbing a rasher of bacon from the table. Taking a seat, she eyes Derek and Stiles with a thoughtful look. “So. This is a thing now.”

“Yeah,” Derek says as Stiles climbs off him and takes his seat. Hooking an ankle around Stiles’ chair, Derek leans forward and looks at Laura. “Is that a problem?”

“What? No.” Scraping a hand through her tangled hair, Laura makes a face. “Not for me, and not for this pack.” Smirking around a bite of pancake, she taps her foot against Stiles’ leg. “Maybe for your dad, though.”

Stiles groans and buries his face in his hands. “Why did you have to mention that?”

“Because you obviously haven’t thought about it.”

Looking up, Stiles makes a face at Laura, his hand seeking out Derek’s almost automatically. “Trust me,” he says. “I’ve thought about it.” Glancing over at Derek, Stiles squeezes his hand and shrugs. “He, okay, he won’t be dancing around the room at the age difference, but he trusts Derek. He trusts me. It’ll be fine.”

Laura raises an eyebrow, but drops the subject, for which Derek is eternally grateful. He picks up his coffee mug with his free hand and gulps some down. “You didn’t have nightmares?”

“No,” Laura says, fiddling with the fork Stiles left on the table. “Running with you helped. I think —” she breaks off and looks away. “I think knowing this could all be over helped.”

“That’s good, then, isn’t it?” Stiles looks between them. “If that’s helping, then when she goes to jail, they might stop?”

Shrugging, Laura offers Stiles a smile. “Maybe. There isn’t a handbook for coming back from the dead.”

“You could write one.”

“Who would buy that?”

“Hipsters.”

*

They’re out for dinner with everyone when John gets a phonecall on his work cell. Stiles pokes Derek in the ribs and raises his eyebrows at him. “Listen in,” he hisses. “Find out what’s going on.”

“I’m not doing that.” Derek avoids the way Stiles pouts at him, squirming away from Stiles’ insistent fingers. “Stop that.”

Scott’s watching them with narrowed eyes. “You’re dating,” he says eventually, his voice low.

“What?” Stiles’ cheeks flush red and Derek smothers a groan because Stiles can’t keep a secret from Scott to save his life. “No we’re not.”

“Yeah you are.” Scott leans across the table and grins. “You have that look.”

“I don’t have a look,” Stiles scoffs.

“Uh, yeah you do. Also, Derek’s hand has been resting on your leg since we sat down.”

“It —” Stiles looks down. “Oh.” Glancing over at Melissa who makes a ‘not listening’ gesture, Stiles shrugs. “Yeah, okay. We’re dating. We haven’t told dad.”

“Why not? He likes Derek.”

“Yeah, he likes Derek now. Maybe not when he finds out his son wants to bang him.”

“Dude.”

Derek rubs a hand over his face and ignores the way Laura is laughing into her lasagne. “Can we put a hold on this conversation, please? Also, your dad’s coming back.”

John’s walking back to the table with a strange look on his face; subtly scenting the air, Derek picks up on confusion and hope colouring John’s scent.

“What is it?” Laura says before John can sit back down.

“It’s Kate.” John sits down and shakes his head. “She’s taken a plea.”

The sounds in the restaurant fade away and Derek can’t hear anything but white noise in his ears. His fangs prick his bottom lip, he can’t change here, not in public, but then Stiles is there. He cups the back of Derek’s head, tucking Derek’s face against his neck, his fingers stroking the hair. “You’re okay,” Stiles says quietly. “You’re safe.”

Taking a few deep breaths, Derek lets himself bathe in Stiles’ scent until he feels under control again. Fangs sheathed, he nuzzles at Stiles’ neck and straightens up, his skin colouring when John raises his eyebrows at them.

“Is there something we need to talk about?” John looks at Stiles, the corners of his mouth slightly turned up.

“Busted,” Scott whispers underneath his breath, yelping when Stiles kicks him.

“Uh, later?” Stiles scratches the back of his head and squints at his dad. “Later sounds good.”

Derek glances down to where they’re still pressed against each other and tries to subtly put some distance between them. Unsuccessfully, judging by the amused look John shoots him, and Stiles just moves closer again when he realises what Derek is doing. Rolling his eyes, Derek wraps a hand around Stiles’ fingers and holds on. “What were you saying?”

“Right.” John looks around the table. “Kate’s plead guilty.”

“But why?” Derek frowns and meets Laura’s eyes; she looks as confused as Derek feels.

“Her brother went in and talked with her.”

Laura’s eyes widen and she chokes on her drink. “Chris? Chris talked to her?”

“This morning. Next thing I know, her lawyer requests a meeting with the DA and she’s admitting to everything.”

“Did she say anything about what we are? About why she —” Laura looks away, biting her lip. “Why is she doing this?”

“Laura.” John leans across the table and touches her arm. “You’re never going to get an answer for that. Not unless you go and ask Chris Argent, and I don’t think you want to do that.”

She laughs softly, shaking her head, her hands fiddling with her glass. “No, no I don’t.” Breathing out, Laura looks at Derek and there’s a ghost of a smile on her face. “It’s over.”

Derek loosens his grip on Stiles’ hand as he stares down at his plate. In this way, the most obvious way, it’s over. But it’s also not; Derek carries the weight of their deaths with him every second of every day. This part is over, Kate won’t get the chance to do this again, but it’ll never be over for Derek.

“Hey.” Stiles nudges Derek with his elbow. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Derek glances around the table and gives Laura a small smile. “I’m okay.”

*

“So,” John says when they step outside the restaurant. “You two.”

The narrowing of John’s eyes make Derek want to take his arm from around Stiles, but Stiles has a firm grip on his waist and the ensuing struggle would only serve to make things more awkward. There are nerves wafting off Stiles, but there’s a quiet determination in his stance and Derek smothers a smile because Stiles is ready to fight for this, fight for them, and Derek’s never known anything like that before.

“Yep,” Stiles says, a pop on the P. “We were going to tell you.”

“How long?” John folds his arms over his chest in a way that suggests if he doesn’t like the answer, Derek will be spending the night in lock up.

“Since the last full moon.”

“That’s two weeks ago,” John says in a steady tone, not taking his eyes away from Derek.

“It is.” Stiles’ fingers rub against Derek’s side in a circular pattern. “Dad, this is —” he breaks off and sighs. “I don’t want to stop seeing him.”

“I’m not going to make you do that.”

The tension in Stiles’ body flows out of him and he sinks against Derek. “Okay,” he says. “Okay, great.”

“But —”

“I knew that was coming,” Stiles mutters, and Derek tries to hide his smirk when John rolls his eyes.

“— you do have a curfew, at least until you’re eighteen. Any dates on school nights and you’re to be home by ten. Weekends you can have later, but — and hear me when I say this — no sleepovers.”

Skin flushing red, Derek coughs and meets John’s eyes. “I wouldn’t — I know the law.”

“It’s not you I’m worried about,” John says, eyeing Stiles carefully.

“Dad, come on. I can respect the law.”

“I know you can, I’m asking if you will.”

Stiles shrugs and looks at his dad, his face serious. “Even if I didn’t respect the law, I respect you, and I respect Derek. Now can we please stop having this excruciatingly embarrassing conversation in the middle of the sidewalk?”

“Especially where my sister can hear,” Derek says, able to hear Laura’s laughter as she sits in the car waiting for him.

“Oh man, Laura’s been listening?” Stiles turns and buries his face against Derek’s arm. “Kill me now.”

“Enough with the dramatics,” John snorts. “Time to go home. I’ll, uh, meet you by the car, Stiles.” Looking between the two, John shakes his head and offers them both a small smile before walking away.

Untangling himself from Stiles, Derek smoothes his hands down Stiles’ sides until they come to rest on his hips. “Okay?” Derek asks, searching Stiles’ face.

“Yeah.” Stiles tilts his head, his eyes sparkling with amusement. “So, dates?”

“You don’t want to date?” Pulling Stiles forward, Derek nudges at Stiles’ cheek with his nose. “Don’t want to share a sundae with me? Hold hands at the movies?”

“I’ll make out with you in the back row.”

Laughing, Derek kisses the hinge of Stiles’ jaw, trails a line of kisses along Stiles’ jawline until he reaches Stiles’ mouth. It would be so easy to get lost in Stiles; the way he reaches up and wraps his arms around Derek’s neck, fingers threading through Derek’s hair. “You have to go home,” Derek says, lips brushing against Stiles’.

“Yeah.” Stiles smiles ruefully and places a chaste kiss against the corner of Derek’s mouth.

“You should go.” Lifting his head and glancing at the car, Derek notices Laura rolling her eyes at him. “And Laura’s making faces at me.”

“Scared of your sister?” Stiles teases, unwinding his arms from around Derek and stepping back, shoving his hands in his pockets.

“You are,” Derek says with a grin, knocking his shoulder against Stiles.

“Lies,” Stiles says as he turns around, heading towards the cruiser parked down the street. “Lies and slander.”

“Uh huh.” Derek watches Stiles walk away, holding a hand up in goodbye before climbing into the car with Laura. “Don’t say a word,” he says, shooting Laura a look as she starts the car up.

“I wasn’t going to say anything.”

*

Their first date ends up being at the ice cream parlour, Stiles groaning with an amused grin when he realises where Derek is taking him. They share an apple cinnamon swirl sundae with chocolate sauce and Stiles steals the cherry before Derek can even say a word about it.

“Stop pouting.” Stiles kicks Derek under the table. “If you really want a cherry, go and ask the blonde behind the counter, she’s been eyeing you up since we came in here.”

“What?” Derek traps Stiles’ foot between his legs and smirks at Stiles when he tries to tug it out with no success. “No she hasn’t.”

Raising his eyebrows, Stiles laughs disbelievingly, a smear of chocolate sauce on his chin distracting Derek. “No wonder it took us so long to get together if you don’t notice things like that.”

“I wasn’t going to —” Derek winces and stops talking, his hands resting on the table.

“You weren’t — oh.” Stiles puts his spoon down, the clank it makes echoing in the shop. “Never?”

“It’s not that I didn’t want to,” Derek says, reaching across the table, stroking his finger against the back of Stiles’ hand. “I did, I do. It’s hard to explain.”

“Try.” Stiles yanks his hand out of reach, starts to fiddle with the end of his spoon. “I’m not — this isn’t an ultimatum, I wouldn’t do that, but you’re hiding something from me.”

Leaning back in the booth, Derek rubs a hand over his face. They’re both silent, the sounds of spoons against glass and idle conversation echoing around them. “It’s not something I think I should put on you,” Derek finally says, his eyes locked on Stiles to see how he reacts.

“As opposed to the whole wolf thing and the psychotic ex and, I don’t know, everything else you’ve put on me since we met?”

“You anchor me.”

“I — what?” There’s a wrinkle between Stiles’ eyebrows, and his mouth stays open as he stares at Derek.

Lowering his voice, Derek leans forward, his forearms resting on the sticky table. “The way we control the wolf, it’s instinctive, it’s holding onto something that reminds you of your human side. For me, it’s you.”

“And you didn’t want to tell me that?”

“Not because you couldn’t handle it —”

“That’s not what I —”

“Yes it is.” Derek gives Stiles a half smile when he reaches over and taps his fingers against Derek’s forearm. “And that’s not why I didn’t tell you.”

“Okay,” Stiles says, his face open and questioning. “Why was it?”

“I didn’t want to put it on you.”

“You’re stupid.”

Derek snorts and sits back. “Thanks.”

“No, I —” Stiles breaks off with a frustrated noise. “You’ve been in my life since before I can really remember, you know that?” Stiles taps his fingers against the table, his eyes fixed on Derek. “I look back and it’s like everything I did, I did it with you or Scott. You were the one who was there when my mom was sick, and you —” shaking his head, Stiles sighs. “You can say I anchor you, but you’ve been anchoring me since I was a kid.”

Derek stares at Stiles, his mouth slightly parted as a light flush appears on Stiles’ cheekbones. “I didn’t know.”

“Yeah,” Stiles says with a roll of his eyes. “That was obvious. Why do you think I wanted to talk to you all the time when you were away?”

“I thought it was me. Thought I was being selfish for wanting to keep you for myself.”

Stiles smirks and shifts his foot from between Derek’s legs. “Well I’m pretty irresistible.”

“You have chocolate sauce on your chin.” Derek grins as Stiles scrambles to wipe it off, licking his fingers and rubbing harshly at his skin. “Stop,” Derek says, stilling Stiles’ hand. “Here.” He licks his thumb and rubs it against the smear, trying to ignore the wafts of lust coming from Stiles. Coughing, Derek wipes his thumb on his jeans, his cheeks feeling hot when he meets Stiles’ eyes. “We should go,” he says, standing up and getting his wallet out.

Stiles slides his hand into Derek’s and kisses the top of his cheek, his lips brushing against Derek’s beard. “Heavy first date,” Stiles says as they walk out of the parlour, the garishly decorated door swinging closed behind them.

“Not that heavy.”

“Still. Wanna go make out in the park?”

Laughing, Derek stops in the middle of the street and pulls Stiles close, until Stiles is almost stepping on Derek’s feet. “You tryin’ to make me a teenager again?” he says, gently rubbing his cheek against Stiles’ face.

“Trying to make this good for you.”

Derek lifts his head and bites his lip, not hearing a lie in Stiles’ words. “You — this is enough. You’re enough.” He’s not sure that those words are good enough, but Stiles’ face lights up and Derek thinks that maybe he can do this.

*

Derek fixes his tie in the hallway mirror, frowning in concentration as he tries to get it right. Sighing, he flicks the end of the dark green material and rolls his eyes. He can’t remember the last time he wore a tie, Derek’s not actually sure if he’s ever worn a tie outside of funerals and, yeah, that’s a happy thought.

“Why are you wearing a tie?” Laura comes up behind him and peers over his shoulder, her hair falling across her face.

“Stiles. We’re, uh, going to that fancy Italian place.” Derek shuffles away from the mirror and grabs his suit jacket from the couch.

“Seriously? None of my boyfriends ever took me there.” Laura bites down on a red vine, looking grumpy as Derek shrugs on his jacket.

“Maybe you’re not that nice.” Dodging out of the way of Laura’s fist, Derek laughs, his dress shoes sliding on the floor. Steadying himself, Derek pats his pockets, making sure he has everything. “Do I look okay?”

“You want me to answer that seriously?”

Derek doesn’t stomp his feet like he used to when he was a child. He doesn’t. But it’s a close thing. Standing up, Laura walks over to him; smoothing her hands down his shoulders, she smiles at him and it’s so strongly reminiscent of their mother that Derek’s finding it hard to breathe.

Quirking a smile at him, Laura pats him on the chest. “You look great. Stiles won’t know what’s hit him. Though, if you’re doing this now, what are you going to do when he’s finally legal?” She waggles her eyebrows at him and stuffs the last of the red vine in her mouth.

“Please stop talking.” Derek pulls a face and turns around, grabbing his keys from the tray. “Be good,” he calls as he leaves.

Pulling up to Stiles’ house, Derek idles in the car, breathing steadily until he gets his heart rate under control. He has no need to be nervous, he knows that. Stiles is — he’s Stiles. Derek doesn’t know any other way to explain what they have, except that it’s been working and he doesn’t want to fuck it up.

Getting out of the car, Derek tugs his sleeves down and heads to the door. Stiles opens it before Derek can even knock and there’s a bashful smile on his face like he’s ashamed of being so eager, and Derek can’t — he leans in and cups the side of Stiles’ face, capturing his lips in a bruising kiss. There’s a hitch in Stiles’ breath as his hands grab at the lapels of Derek’s jacket, his mouth opening under Derek’s ministrations, and it’s utterly ridiculous how undone Derek is by the whimpers and moans that are spilling from Stiles’ mouth.

Reluctantly pulling away, Derek rests their foreheads together, his eyes fluttering shut for a moment and a soft smile on his face. “Hi,” he says quietly, meeting Stiles’ eyes.

“That’s an excellent hello.” Stiles looks down between them, his hands releasing the grip he has on the lapels. “You look good.”

Stepping back, Derek’s gaze travels up and down Stiles’ body, taking in the well fitting pants, the tie that looks brand new, and the dress shoes that still have a shine to them. “You went shopping,” he says with a pleased smile.

“I didn’t —” Stiles sighs and his head hangs slightly. “Okay. I wanted to look good, and it was either go shopping or pull together ill fitting clothes, most of which would’ve belonged to my dad.”

“Hey.” Derek tips Stiles’ chin up. “You look great.”

“Oh,” Stiles says, a slight reddening to his cheeks. “Thanks.”

“So? We’re going?” Holding out his hand, Derek raises an eyebrow at Stiles, a comfortable feeling in his gut when Stiles takes it.

*

The dinner goes too quickly for Derek’s liking, but when he looks at the gold plated clock on the wall, almost three hours have passed, and it’s close to nine. Stiles licks his spoon clean of his pumpkin pie gelato, making a face when he realises it’s all gone. Craning his neck, Stiles peers at Derek’s bowl. “Can I have some?”

“You can order more for yourself you want,” Derek says, smirking when Stiles pouts and widens his eyes. “That look isn’t going to get you any of mine.”

“You said we’d share.”

Swallowing a mouthful of his chocolate cherry, Derek shrugs. “I said we’d share dinner, I didn’t say we’d share dessert.”

“Wow,” Stiles says, dropping his spoon in the bowl. “You’re competing for the worst boyfriend ever right now.”

“Really?” Derek says flatly. Scooping some gelato up, he leans over and waves it in front of Stiles’ face. “You want?” he asks, holding it just out of reach when Stiles’ mouth parts, his tongue licking his lips.

“Tease.”

“Do you want it?”

Stiles’ eyes narrow. “What’re you trying to suggest?” he asks with a dirty smirk.

Rolling his eyes, Derek shoves the spoon closer to Stiles’ face; Stiles’ eyes light up, and he opens his mouth, tongue darting out to lick at the gelato. The smirk never leaves his face as he licks at the spoon, his tongue doing these things that Derek is absolutely not imagining happening to his cock.

Stifling a groan, Derek resists the urge to push the spoon into Stiles’ face and instead meets his eyes. Stiles’ eyes are dark, pupils blown wide and Derek swallows, Stiles’ scent driving him crazy and going straight to his dick. Shifting awkwardly in his seat, Derek tries to will his cock to behave, but with Stiles’ mouth around his spoon, it’s not listening.

Stiles hums happily when he’s finished the gelato and the empty spoon hangs between them for a moment before Derek gets himself together; Stiles’ eyes on him as Derek finishes his dessert. It’s a heated gaze, and Derek’s skin flushes underneath it, the gelato a cool shot to his brain. “Stop it,” he mutters after he’s finished.

“Stop what?”

“You know what.”

Stiles flexes his fingers and links them together, resting his chin on them as he smiles at Derek. “Tell me.”

Keeping his eyes on Stiles, Derek signals for the check, a rush of excitement threading through his veins when Stiles bites his lip and drops his hands, long fingers fiddling with the cloth napkin on the table.

*

“Where are we going?” Stiles’ legs are splayed haphazardly in the front seat of the car, the tie around his neck loosened enough to show the dip between his collarbones, pushing every single one of Derek’s buttons.

“Is there somewhere you want to go?” Derek asks, very firmly keeps his eyes on the road.

Leaning forward, Stiles notes where they are and makes a gesture with his left hand. “Go left here.”

Derek follows Stiles’ directions until they’re pulled in behind an old abandoned train yard. Turning to Stiles, Derek quirks a smile at him. “Did you direct me to a make out spot?”

“No.” Stiles makes a face, tugging his jacket off and dropping it over the headrest. “My dad knows all the make out spots. This is somewhere he doesn’t know.” Stiles is waggling his eyebrows at Derek and it’s — Derek’s sure he shouldn’t be finding that attractive in any way.

Ducking his head to hide his smile, Derek laughs. “You do realise how small this car is, right?”

Stiles opens the passenger door and smirks at Derek. “That’s why we’re going outside.”

It’s quiet outside, far away enough from the centre of town to not attract any bystanders; Derek leans against the hood of the car, his hands by his side, and then Stiles is right up against him.

“Hi,” Stiles says quietly, his eyes flitting up and down Derek’s face. Derek can see each tiny movement on Stiles’ face like this; the corner of Stiles’ mouth twitches like he’s itching to say something, but then Derek’s cupping the side of Stiles’ face and Stiles’ mouth stills, his bottom lip dropping slightly.

“Hi.” Derek’s lips press against Stiles’, like he’s been wanting to do all night, and Stiles falls into him. His body is a warm, solid line and Derek’s hands clutch at Stiles’ shirt, tugging at the material until it’s pulled out of Stiles’ pants. Tentatively sliding a hand underneath the shirt, Derek grins against Stiles’ mouth when Stiles gasps. “Okay?”

“No, I totally object to you touching me,” Stiles bites out, his hands resting on Derek’s shoulders, a full bodied shiver flowing through him when Derek traces his fingers up Stiles’ spine. “Oh fuck.”

Derek clamps a hand on Stiles’ hip, trying to stop him from slipping his thigh between Derek’s legs. “Stiles, we promised.” It’s a weak protest, because Derek wants nothing more than to have Stiles in every single way he can, but they can’t do this.

Whining, Stiles drops his head onto Derek’s shoulder. “It’s not that long,” he says, his breath sitting Derek’s neck. “It’s a month.”

“27 days,” Derek says automatically.

Lifting his head, Stiles examines Derek’s face. “You’ve been counting?”

“I —” Derek scratches his nails down Stiles’ back and ducks his head, mouthing at Stiles’ neck. “You have no idea how much I want you.” Scraping his teeth against the reddening skin, Derek darts his tongue out to lick, the taste of Stiles making him want to flip them, rut up against Stiles until they both come.

“If you’re not going to do anything, this is — oh — this is cruel.” Stiles hands fumble against Derek’s shirt.

“You could —” Derek hesitates and shakes his head, tries to step away from Stiles, but only succeeds in bashing his ass against the car.

“What?”

And Derek doesn’t want to break the promise he made to John, not when it comes to Stiles, but Stiles is standing there with his shirt a mess, his face flushed and his lips swollen from Derek’s kisses and Derek wants.

“Hey,” Stiles touches Derek’s face. “What?”

“It, uh. Your hands. You could —”

“You want me to give you a handjob?” Stiles’ face lights up, and he kisses Derek quickly. “You want my fingers on your cock?”

Closing his eyes, Derek nods, but when Stiles’ hand starts to travel down his body, he automatically reaches out to stop it before Stiles can get to his zipper. “You want to do this?” he asks, his fingers seeking out Stiles’ pulse.

“Yes.” Stiles presses his lips against Derek’s cheek. “Let me.”

Stiles’ pulse is steady, and when Derek opens his eyes he sees nothing but Stiles’ open face, so he nods before capturing Stiles’ mouth in a rough kiss. Letting go of Stiles’ wrist, Derek slumps back against the car, putting all of his weight on it. Staring up at the sky, Derek sucks in a breath when Stiles’ fingers graze his abdomen before heading lower, getting Derek’s zipper undone, letting his pants fall open.

“Lick,” Stiles says, holding his hand in front of Derek’s face, raising his eyebrows in a subtle challenge, and Derek takes great pleasure in hearing the stutter in Stiles’ breath when he drags his tongue all over Stiles’ palm. “Uh, okay.” Stiles’ voice is hoarse and he pauses for a moment, staring at Derek before shaking his head, a small, private smile on his face and then —

Then his hand is pushing its way into Derek’s boxer briefs; at the first touch of Stiles’ fingers, Derek’s cock twitches, pre-come already leaking out, and if Derek lasts longer than 10 seconds, he’ll be impressed with himself because, fuck, this is so much more than he ever imagined.

Stiles gets bolder, pushes Derek’s boxer briefs down to expose his cock, his fingers wrapping around and giving it an experimental stroke. Derek feels helpless under Stiles’ gaze, his whole face heats up and he doesn’t want to look away, wants to show Stiles how good he’s making him feel, but it’s more intense than he thought it would be. Stiles seems to get it though; his face softens and he dots light kisses across Derek’s face, telling him between kisses how amazing he is, and Derek can’t do anything but push his hips up into the fist Stiles has around his cock.

“You close?” Stiles bites Derek’s earlobe. “Come on, Derek.” Stiles plays with Derek’s foreskin like it’s his own personal toy and Derek’s totally fucking fine with that, especially when Stiles rolls it back and swipes his thumb over the slit. The groan that falls from Derek’s lips is almost sub human; Stiles’ teeth are against his neck and Derek’s never submitted for anyone who isn’t his alpha, but it’s Stiles. Then all it takes is one more stroke and Derek’s orgasm hits him like a dart, flowing through his body and leaving him shaking.

Breathing heavily, Derek loosens his grip on Stiles, sure that his grip will have left bruises on Stiles’ pale skin, and his wolf loves that idea. It takes a moment for Derek to realise Stiles has wiped his hand off on his shirt and he rolls his eyes at the sight. “You had to do that?”

“Well,” Stiles kisses the underside of Derek’s jaw and shifts uncomfortably. “I kind of came in my pants.”

“You — oh.”

Stiles folds his arms over his chest, his skin flushing and he shrugs. “I’m seventeen, Derek, what did you expect?”

“I didn’t say it was a bad thing.” Derek tucks himself back in and does up his pants. Touching the curve of Stiles’ neck, Derek licks his lips. “It’s kind of hot.”

“What?”

“That you were that turned on by what you were doing to me? Yeah, Stiles. Hot.”

There’s a pleased look on Stiles’ face, and his lips twist into something resembling a smug smile which makes Derek tug him in close, swiping his tongue against Stiles’ bottom lip before nipping at it. Stiles parts his lips, giving Derek full access, and then it’s as easy as breathing, the taste of cherry chocolate still in Stiles’ mouth as they kiss, Derek’s hand cupping the back of Stiles’ head, needing to control this as much as he can.

“Your phone,” Derek mumbles against Stiles’ mouth. “It’s ringing.”

“Don’t care.”

“It could be important.” Derek taps Stiles’ hip and reluctantly pulls away. Rolling his eyes at Derek, Stiles shuffles around the car and opens the door, grabbing his phone. “It’s Laura,” he says in a puzzled tone. Looking over at Derek, he frowns. “Why’s she calling me?”

Answering it, he leans against the door. Derek can hear the words coming down the line; Scott’s had a severe asthma attack and is in the hospital. He’s moving before he even knows what he’s doing, opening the car door and waiting for Stiles to get in, still talking to Laura.

“You want to go straight there?” Derek asks after Stiles ends the call.

“Yeah, I — shit, I can’t go there with come in my pants.” Twisting his fingers in his lap, Stiles shakes his head. “Your place is on the way there, can we stop so we can change?”

Derek nods, and the car falls silent as he heads towards the apartment. He’s barely pulled up before Stiles is out of the car, and he has to jog to catch up with him. Heading to his bedroom, Derek gets some old sweatpants for Stiles, and strips his own shirt and jacket off, tugging a hoodie over his head.

Holding a t shirt out to Stiles, Derek notices Stiles’ hands are shaking as he tries to unbutton his shirt. Covering Stiles’ hands with his own, Derek takes over, slips the shirt off over Stiles’ shoulders and drops it on the floor. Squeezing Stiles’ hand, Derek kisses Stiles’ forehead. “Breathe,” he says. “We’ll see him soon.”

Nodding, Stiles follows Derek’s directions, his breath slowly returning to normal, and they finish changing in silence before heading out again.

*

Laura meets them at the hospital doors and takes Stiles inside while Derek parks the car. When he walks in, he’s confronted with an array of smells, but he waits for his senses to adjust before he manages to pick out Stiles and Laura’s scents. Following the trail, he soon tracks them down, both of them slumped in the hard plastic chairs. Laura’s cradling a styrofoam cup of coffee in her hands and Stiles is staring blankly at the wall. Taking the seat next to Stiles, Derek curls an arm around him, pressing his lips to Stiles’ head. “Any news?”

Shaking her head, Laura leans forward, taking a sip of her coffee before answering. “Melissa said she’d come out when she knew anything.”

“What happened?”

“They were having dinner, and Scott started having an attack,” Laura says. “He had his inhaler, but it didn’t help him like it usually does, so Melissa brought him in. She said they were trying a nebuliser.” Laura drains her coffee and shrugs. “That was a while ago.”

“Have you seen him?” Stiles asks, his voice small.

“When they moved him. He looked okay.”

“How did he sound? You can hear his heart beat, right?” Stiles rubs a hand over his face. “Did he — was it —”

Laura touches Stiles’ knee and locks eyes with him. “I promise you, if I heard anything really bad, I’d tell you. Well, I’d tell the staff first, but then I’d tell you, okay?”

Stiles lets out a wet laugh, coughing slightly, and nods. He curls into Derek as much as he can, his head resting on Derek’s shoulder, his hand seeking out Derek’s free one. When Derek looks at Laura, she raises her eyebrows, smirking at him, and Derek lifts his chin, mouths “so what?” at her, because he won’t be ashamed of this, won’t be ashamed of what he has with Stiles. Even if his older sister can still smell spunk on both of them.

It seems like forever before Melissa comes out to see them, Stiles is close to dozing on Derek’s shoulder, but snaps awake when Melissa approaches them. “How is he?” Stiles says, quickly, blinking in an attempt to wake himself up.

Melissa’s hair is falling out of her braid, the strain evident on her face when she tries to smile. “He’ll be okay. The asthma’s worse, he’s being admitted for treatment until they can get it under control.”

“But they’ll be able to do that, right?” Stiles’ fingers dig into Derek’s thigh, his pulse faster than usual.

“They should.” Melissa sits in the chair next to Laura. “He’s awake, if you want to see him.”

Derek squeezes Stiles on the shoulder and shakes his head. “You go. He’ll be overwhelmed if we all go in there.” And he means that, he does, but Laura’s had her thoughtful face on since Melissa came out to see them, and Derek knows what conversation she wants to have with Melissa; it’s better that Stiles isn’t with them for it. When Stiles smiles at him and leans over to give him a kiss before walking away, Derek tells himself it’s not like he’s lying to Stiles, but the churning in his gut tells him that’s not working. Rubbing a hand over his face, he looks at Laura and shrugs. “I know you want to say it.”

Looking between the both of them, Melissa frowns. “What?”

“I want you to know I’m saying this because you’re family,” Laura starts. “This isn’t something to be taken lightly, and I wouldn’t —” she hesitates. “I wouldn’t do it like this, under different circumstances.”

“Okay,” Melissa says, drawing out the word. “Want to tell me what you’re thinking?”

Laura straightens up, her shoulders set, and Derek’s suddenly, painfully, reminded of their mother. How she’d stand with elegance and strength during any official pack business. It’s a knife to his chest to know he’ll never see her like that again.

“What if I gave Scott the bite, made him a wolf?”

And, yeah, Laura’s never really been one to beat around the bush. Melissa’s mouth drops open and she leans back in her chair, her forehead wrinkling slightly.

“I — I really don’t know what to say.”

“It’s Scott’s choice, obviously, but he’s under eighteen and it would be wrong of me not to ask you.” Laura looks Melissa in the eyes earnestly. “You’re both pack whether he wants this or not, but I would be remiss as alpha if I didn’t offer.”

Melissa’s slowly nodding, her hand reaching out and clutching Laura’s wrist. “Thank you,” she says quietly.

“There are risks. There’s a chance the bite couldn’t take and that’s —” she breaks off and covers Melissa’s hand with her own. “Scott would die if that were the case. It can’t be predicted, but Scott is young, and mostly healthy, there’s no reason the bite wouldn’t be successful.”

“I’d have to talk to him,” Melissa says. “It’s his decision.”

Laura squeezes Melissa’s hand and smiles. “It’s not a time sensitive offer. Anytime he, or you, want it, it’s open.”

*

Derek’s pushing the cart down the aisle, Laura ahead of him, when he picks up on a familiar scent and smiles to himself. “Laura,” he calls. “Take the cart.”

She makes a puzzled face, but turns around to take over steering. “Where are you — Derek?”

Derek waves her off and walks down the aisle, passing by the frozen burritos and pizzas. He follows the scent, straight to the cereal aisle where he spots Stiles hovering in front of the granola. He stops at the top of the aisle to watch Stiles; taking in the way Stiles chews on his bottom lip and rocks back on his heels as he stares at the food. Derek knows he has a goofy smile on his face, and he stuffs his hands in his jacket pockets before heading towards Stiles.

“Hey,” he says, stifling a laugh when Stiles jumps.

“Jeez.” Stiles grasps at his chest, his eyes wide. “Why would you do that?”

Derek steps a little closer, still thrilled by the way Stiles doesn’t back up, how he stands his ground, a small smile steadily getting bigger. “I like hearing your pulse race.”

“There are better ways to do that,” Stiles says, his hand sliding up Derek’s forearm. “You should know that by now.”

“That’s —” Derek breaks off, looking up sharply, his eyes narrowing.

“What?” Stiles frowns, fingers grasping Derek’s arm.

“I can smell them,” Derek say quietly. Even through his jacket, Stiles’ touch is a soothing balm and Derek leans into it before he answers. “Argents.”

Stiles’ jaw sets and he moves even closer to Derek, lips brushing against his cheek. “I’m here. What do you need?”

“You. Here.”

“Is Laura in the store?”

Derek nods, his hands making fists in his pockets, he tries to inhale Stiles’ scent as subtly as he can. “She — she’s getting the frozen stuff.”

“Okay, okay.” Stiles steps to Derek’s side and weasels his hand inside Derek’s right jacket pocket. Breathing out as soon as Stiles’ skin touches his, Derek relaxes his hand, letting the feel of Stiles’ fingers ground him. “Can you tell who it is?”

“Allison,” Derek says. “And Chris.”

“We can go, if you want? Find Laura? We don’t have to stay here.”

“No, no, I —” Derek inhales, his shoulders stiff. “It’s a small town. I have to get used to this.”

Kissing behind Derek’s ear, Stiles squeezes Derek’s hand as much as he can. “Proud of you.”

And that’s all Derek hears before the Argents turn around and come down the aisle, Allison laughing with her father. She sounds so much like Kate, Derek wants to throw up, but he’s got Stiles right by his side and he — he can do this. He can.

Chris stops dead in the aisle when he spots Derek and now it’s like a standoff, and that’s not what Derek wanted. He wanted — he doesn’t know what he wanted. But Stiles can read him like a book and he’s shifting on his feet, waving at Allison. The smile on Stiles’ face is strained, but it’s enough to make Allison move towards them, Chris half a step behind her.

“Stiles, hi.” Allison’s smile is shy; unlike anything Kate ever was, and that makes Derek relax enough to nod at her. She startles, like she didn’t think Derek would even acknowledge her, and she offers him a tentative smile. “Derek, I — we haven’t met?”

Stiles glances between the two of them and shakes his head. “You haven’t, have you? Uh, okay. Not that this is awkward at all,” he mutters and Derek hides a smile. “You obviously know who each other are, so, uh. Did you finish the work for bio?”

“Oh, uh, yeah, yes. Did you?”

“Almost.” Stiles winces and leans into Derek a little. “I’ve been busy.”

Allison’s eyes widen as Chris comes up behind her. “You two are —? Huh.”

“What’s that meant to mean?” Stiles says indignantly, straightening up. “Do you think I can’t get a guy like Derek?”

And trust Stiles to say that, to turn an awkward situation into something only minorly embarrassing. Derek rolls his eyes at Stiles, taking his hands out of his jacket. “I don’t think that’s what she meant.”

Allison lets out a hesitating laugh, like she’s not sure if she’s allowed to. “It wasn’t, I swear. You — I’m glad you have someone. That you both do.” She meets Derek’s eyes; Derek can hear her pulse racing, and he’s not oblivious to the way Chris is looking at him, like he’s itching for a chance to put a bullet in Derek. “I’m sorry for what Kate did.” Allison’s voice is strong, unwavering, and Derek admires her for that. “My dad, he told me about what — what it is we do and Kate, she. It wasn’t right, and I’m sorry.”

His hand tight in Stiles’, Derek looks past Allison at Chris and there’s a small glimpse of respect on his face. Derek doesn’t know why, if Chris thinks that he’ll suddenly shift in public at the mention of Kate, but it means something. Returning his gaze to Allison, Derek nods at her. “You don’t have to apologise for what Kate did.”

“Yes I do.” Allison looks behind her at her father before turning back to Derek. “We all do. The Argents have no quarrel with the Hales. I know it’ll be hard for you to trust us, but if you ever need help, we owe you. No questions asked.”

Chris steps forward, a frown on his face as he touches Allison’s shoulder. “Allison that’s not —”

“No questions asked,” she repeats, shaking off her father’s grip. She smiles at Stiles, her cheeks dimpling in a way that makes her seem like a schoolgirl again instead of a young woman burdening the responsibilities of a legacy she doesn’t yet understand. “See you in class, Stiles.”

Instead of pushing past them, Allison turns around, shooting a look at Chris that has him following her instead of challenging them. Derek breathes out, not as unsettled as he thought he would be. He can hear Laura getting closer and he turns around, wincing at the concerned look on her face.

“What happened?” Rushing up to them, Laura narrowly misses running over Derek’s foot with the cart.

“Argents.”

“And?”

“It’s fine.”

“Sure?”

“Yes.”

Stiles snorts, waving a hand when Derek and Laura both look at him. “Sorry, I just — communications between the Hales. I forgot what it was like.”

Rolling her eyes, Laura smacks Stiles on the arm and steps behind the cart again. “Are we finishing the groceries?”

“Shit, what time is it?” Stiles detangles himself from Derek and looks at his phone. “I’m going to be late, dad needs dinner before his shift.” Kissing Derek quickly, Stiles picks up his basket, grabs a random brand of granola from the shelf and runs off.

“Sure you’re okay?” Laura asks after Stiles has vanished.

“Yeah.” Derek grabs the cart and starts pushing. “You forgot pasta.”

“I got ice cream.”

“Remember how they’re not the same thing?” Derek ducks his head before Laura can hit him, laughing when she almost trips over the wheel of the cart. “Hey,” he says when they reach the dried food. “I am okay.”

Laura nudges him with her elbow, giving him a smile. “I know.”

*

“You’re coming to dinner,” Stiles says one afternoon, laying out on a checked blanket in the preserve. His fingers graze through Derek’s hair; it’s so soothing, Derek’s almost asleep, the sounds of the woods reminding him of when they’d play outside as kids. It’s ridiculous, but when he’s out here with Stiles, it’s like he never left Beacon Hills. The woods still smell the same, still feel right underneath his feet, and having Stiles by his side only amplifies the feeling that Beacon Hills is home, will always be home.

Turning his head, Derek presses his face against Stiles’ stomach, the slightly sweaty scent of teenage boy filling his senses. “When?” he asks, voice muffled by Stiles’ shirt.

“Tonight.”

Lifting his head, Derek stares at Stiles, his eyebrows furrowing. “Tonight?”

Stiles waves his phone in Derek’s direction. “Laura’s orders. Scott and his mom are coming as well. Though why it has to be at my house, I’m not sure.”

“It’s Laura,” Derek says with a yawn, settling his head back down on Stiles’ stomach. “When?”

Stiles’ fingers delicately tap out a pattern on Derek’s forehead, grazing down his nose and resting his fingertips on Derek’s lips. “We’ve got time.”

“Good.” Derek kisses Stiles’ fingertips, smiling to himself when he hears Stiles’ heart skip. “We’ll pick up take out.”

“Laura didn’t say —”

Derek snorts, stretching his legs out until his feet touch the grass at the edge of the blanket. “If we don’t pick up food, there won’t be any.”

“Shouldn’t she be providing for the pack?”

“She’ll call this ‘delegating’.”

“What?” Stiles laughs, his belly shaking with it, jolting Derek’s head a little. “She didn’t even say anything.”

“Again. It’s Laura. How are you not used to this by now?”

“Ugh, Hales.” Stiles’ fingers are tracing patterns against Derek’s cheeks, rubbing against the grain of Derek’s beard, and it’s so like being petted, Derek’s eyes start to get droopy. The steady thud of Stiles’ heart echoes in his ears, mixing with the sound of rabbits not far from them digging in the ground and between one breath and the next Derek falls asleep.

He’s woken up by Stiles’ mouth on his, and Stiles’ hand stroking his hair. Derek would be happy waking up like this every single day. “We’ve got to get going,” Stiles says quietly, his face so close Derek can see the patch of hair he missed when shaving that morning. Derek presses a thumb against it and pulls Stiles down into another kiss, letting himself have this moment of peace before they have to go.

*

Derek’s right, there’s no food at the Stilinski house when he and Stiles get there, but there is Laura sitting on the couch with a smug look on her face when she sees the pizza boxes Derek is carrying.

“You could help,” Derek says, hefting them into the kitchen, Stiles stomping up the stairs to change his shirt.

“Where would be the fun in that?”

John rolls his eyes at them and starts to shuffle the files on the table out of the way. “Is she talking about delegating again?” Gathering the files into a pile, John stands up, taking them over to the small desk in the corner. “It’s strange how delegating always ends up with Laura not doing anything, isn’t it, Derek?”

“I do things,” Laura says, taking a seat at the table, her nose wrinkling. “When are Melissa and Scott getting here?”

“Scott said they’re on their way.” Stiles comes walking into the kitchen, still tugging his Spiderman t shirt down over his chest. Heading over to the boxes, Stiles tries to snag a slice, pouting when Derek smacks his hand away. “I’m hungry.”

“Be patient.” Derek kisses Stiles, his hands curling around Stiles’ waist, sliding underneath his shirt. He doesn’t know why Laura has gathered them together, but he doesn’t like it, and he can’t help the urge to be near Stiles. Resting his forehead against Stiles’ shoulder, Derek lets his body relax as Stiles strokes his fingers against the back of Derek’s neck. Zoning out, Derek dimly hears Stiles talk to John, asking him about work. It’s calm, comforting, being part of this family; bonded with the people he loves.

When Derek lifts his head, Stiles touches his cheek and gives him a smile before the doorbell rings. Laura heads off to answer it, greeting Scott and Melissa like the house is her own; Stiles and Derek move the pizza boxes over to the table, spreading them out so people can help themselves to whatever they want.

Stiles and Scott share a complicated handshake that Derek isn’t even going to try and understand. It’s easy conversation until the pizza’s mostly gone and Scott and Stiles are rubbing their stomachs, groaning about having eaten too much.

“Moderation, boys,” John says as he throws away the pizza boxes.

“Like you can talk,” Stiles groans, leaning against Derek. “I know about the muffins Kathy brings to the station.”

John coughs, and avoids looking at Stiles. “That’s different. Laura, didn’t you say there was a reason for this dinner?”

“Smooth subject change, dad.”

Laura stuffs the last bite of pizza in her mouth and shrugs, swallowing and taking a drag of her drink. “I want to talk about expanding the pack.”

The room falls silent, and Derek’s pulse starts racing, his hand seeking out Stiles’. “Laura —”

“I know I didn’t talk to you about this first,” she says. “I’m sorry. I thought you’d realise after I offered the bite to Scott.”

“You did what?” Stiles says, his eyes widening at Scott. “Dude, you didn’t tell me?”

Scott shrugs, his cheeks flushing. “I didn’t say yes — I don’t want it. Not unless my asthma gets really bad. Then, okay, I guess being a werewolf would be better than dying.”

“You should’ve told me.” Stiles’ foot kicks at Scott’s ankle. “Friendship timeout,” he huffs.

“How long?”

“Until you lend me the new GTA.”

“Dude,” Scott makes a wounded noise. “I haven’t even played that yet.”

“Friendship involves sacrifices, Scott.”

Derek rolls his eyes and tunes out the rest of their bickering. “Why now?” he asks Laura, his fingers digging into his thigh, only just controlling his claws.

Steepling her fingers on her lap, Laura ducks her head and sighs. “You know I haven’t had nightmares in three weeks? The last dream I had was about being the first werewolf in space.” Looking up, Laura twists her fingers together. “I know it won’t be like it was, I’m not trying to replace everyone, but I need wolves in a pack, Derek. No one here wants to be changed, and that’s okay, but it can’t only be you and me.”

Scott and Stiles have reached an agreement, joining John and Melissa in observing Laura, staying silent as Derek takes in her words. Breathing in the scents in the room, Derek lets them calm his nerves. “Okay,” he says quietly. “Did you — is there someone in mind?”

“You both know Isaac Lahey?” Laura directs the question to Scott and Stiles, who nod in response, Scott’s forehead furrowing.

“He — his dad died in that car accident, right?” Scott glances at John, his voice steady. “He used to beat Isaac. We saw the bruises sometimes in the locker room.”

“Yeah,” Stiles says. “He used to try and hide at the end of the row, but it’s a bunch of dudes getting naked, someone’s going to notice at some point.”

John’s lips thin out and he nods. “Isaac was taken away from him a year ago, not long before he died. He was in foster care, but since he turned eighteen he’s been alone.”

“So you’re thinking, what? Ready made family?”

“That’s a crude way of putting it, Stiles.”

“But?”

“But,” John sighs, rubbing the back of his hand against his forehead. “Essentially, yes. He’s a good kid, I don’t want to see him lose his way.”

“So you think Laura biting him would help that?” Stiles’ eyebrows are almost vanishing into his hairline and Derek squeezes his hand, shifts in his chair to face him.

“It’s not like that,” Derek says. “You know it’s not like that. Laura won’t go and bite him without explaining what this is, what could happen. That’s not who she is. If Isaac wants it, we’ll all be there for him, will be for the rest of his life.”

Sighing heavily, Stiles nods, the corners of his mouth turning up in a small smile. “I know that, I do.”

Laura reaches over and touches Stiles’ arm. The realities of what we are can be tough, you don’t need to apologise for that.”

“Yes, I do. I know you,” Stiles says, shaking his head. “I know who you both are.”

“It’s okay,” Derek lifts their joined hands and kisses Stiles’ knuckles. “Stop worrying.”

“I’m not —” Stiles makes a face when Derek raises an eyebrow at him. “Okay. I’ll stop.”

“If Laura explains things as well as she did to me, then I have complete faith in her,” Melissa says with a smile, holding her wine glass up in a salute to Laura.

“Thanks, Mel. It’s all for nothing until I talk to Isaac, so we might as well drop the subject. Stiles, your birthday is coming up, right?”

Derek frowns in confusion at the exchange between Laura and Melissa, unsure when they became so close. Not that Laura shouldn’t have friends, there aren’t many people she used to know still in town, and Melissa knows their secret, so Derek supposes it makes sense.

“It is,” Stiles says, his foot tapping against the floor. “I’m hoping my really awesome dad will let me have a party.”

John laughs, leaning back casually in his chair. “You want me to condone underage drinking in my house?”

“Who said anything about alcohol?” Stiles protests, and he looks so ridiculous widening his eyes in an attempt to look innocent that even Derek has to smother a chuckle.

“That look hasn’t worked since you were six and you thought washing my uniform in mud was a good idea.”

“Hey, no one explained to me about detergent,” Stiles grumbles, kicking his feet out, letting go of Derek’s hand and folding his arms across his chest.

“So the yard would’ve had bubbles and mud all over it?” John raises his eyebrows at Stiles, a fond smile on his face. “Your mom thought it was hilarious. Made me clean you up while she tried to stop laughing.” Shaking his head, John points a finger at Stiles. “You can have a party, a small one. If I come home to kids vomiting on my lawn, or people having sex in my bed, no parties ever again.”

“Oh my god, Dad, this isn’t Project X.” Stiles’ cheeks flush slightly, and Derek can hear the tick of Stiles’ pulse when he looks over at Derek. “I kind of thought it’d be small anyway, it’s not like I’m that popular, and if you don’t want people vomiting on the lawn, I’m not going to invite the lacrosse team. Not the whole team anyway.”

“Derek’s going to be with you?”

“Obviously.”

“But Derek won’t be buying you alcohol, will he,” John says, staring at Derek with a hard glare.

“I wouldn’t,” Derek says. “Even if he asked me.”

“And I’m not gonna ask him,” Stiles says quickly, eyes darting between Derek and John. “Not at all.”

“Good.” John looks at Melissa and grins, rubbing a hand against his chin. “Want to host a guest that night?”

“Actually,” Laura interjects, a smile on her face that Derek knows is trouble. “Stiles could have his party at our apartment? If you don’t mind.”

Melissa makes a face and shakes her head. “You really want to host a bunch of teenagers in your home?”

“Being that Derek is dating one of those teenagers, sure.”

It’s not often Derek wants to hit his sister, really, but it’s been happening more and more lately. He stubbornly throws an arm around Stiles’ shoulders and glares at Laura, ignoring her when she sticks her tongue out at him.

*

It turns out that Derek doesn’t need to break his promise to John because Laura is the one who starts stashing alcohol in the apartment in preparation for Stiles’ party. Derek isn’t sure why Laura decided she needs to be the person to corrupt a bunch of teenagers, but he’s staying well away from it. He’s put Laura in charge of getting any drunk teenagers home, and Stiles, well, Stiles will be staying over whether he’s drunk or not.

Derek’s skin heats up at the thought of it, of finally having Stiles in his bed and all to himself. It’s been twenty six days since Stiles gave him a handjob; since then it’s been heavy make outs, over the clothes groping and both of them reluctantly backing away with swollen lips and rumpled clothing. Derek shifts on his bed, the sheets rubbing against his skin as he thinks about the way Stiles looked that day, how hard it had been to stop where they did.

It’s been years since Derek’s let anyone touch him like that, since he’s wanted anyone to touch him. He’d tried, after Kate, to go out and explore his options as Laura had put it. Derek had made out with a few people, and there’d been this one guy at a house party in Brooklyn who he’d ended up jerking off in the bathroom, but there’d been nothing serious. Nothing that ever went anywhere. But now there’s Stiles, and Derek wants everything with him. To hear the noises he’ll make when Derek touches his cock, what he’ll say when Derek’s sucking him off, when Derek’s fucking him.

Staring up at the ceiling, Derek slides a hand down his chest, stomach muscles jumping when his fingers graze over the skin. Swallowing, Derek grips his cock with one hand, remembering Stiles’ ridiculously gorgeous fingers touching him. Moving his own hand, he thinks back to outside the car, how Stiles teased him, jerked him slowly and confidently; wonders if Stiles touches himself in the same way, if Stiles has ever fingered himself. Groaning, Derek strokes himself, free hand pinching his nipples as he closes his eyes, images of what it’ll be like to have Stiles spread out on his sheets flooding his mind.

His body starting to overheat, Derek shifts, reaching under his pillow to grab the lube. Drizzling some on his fingers, Derek strokes himself, foreskin sliding back; grazing his thumb across the head and gasping. Forming a fist, Derek fucks up into it, images of Stiles’ soft skin and reddened lips in his mind until he feels his orgasm starting to build; his body straining with effort, his back arching off the bed, come hitting his stomach. Breathing heavily, Derek wipes his hand on his chest and sighs, sinking into the bed, a sense of exhaustion coming over him.

*

The day of the party, Derek crashes out on the couch with his laptop, searching for jobs. Laura’s already got an interview with the physical therapy department associated with Beacon Hills Memorial, and he’s starting to feel lazy. Stiles got into UC Davis before Derek even came back, and that’s where he’s decided to go, which is good. Derek would feel really uncomfortable if Stiles made a decision based on their relationship. Scrolling down the page, he idly looks at jobs in the Davis area. They haven’t talked about what they’ll do when Stiles leaves, and it’s not like Davis is that far from Beacon Hills, but Derek doesn’t know how he’ll react to Stiles being away, not now they’re together.

Derek doesn’t remember his mom and dad spending that much time away from each other, pack life was too important to them. Peter and his wife never seemed to spend time apart, and everyone else had been too young to have serious partners. Staring up at the ceiling, Derek sighs, wondering what his mom would say about his relationship with Stiles. She’d known Stiles was important to him — Derek remembers her quiet words after he’d told her that Stiles settled the wolf — but he’ll never know if she’d known how their relationship would grow, that they’d end up together like this. There’s so many questions he wishes he could ask her, so much that neither he or Laura know about themselves, and sometimes it’s too much for Derek to think about.

The guilt still crushes him, and there are days when Derek wonders if he’s allowed to be happy; if what he has with Stiles is something he’s going to lose one day because he doesn’t deserve everything Stiles is. But then Stiles will touch his arm, will kiss him softly, and it helps stop those thoughts.

Flexing his fingers, Derek nudges the screen back to life, bookmarks a few job postings and closes the laptop, putting it on the ground. Tapping his feet against the end of the couch, Derek’s startled by the buzzer going. Stumbling to his feet, he makes his way over and presses the intercom.

“Hello?”

“Hi,” comes Stiles’ voice through the crackly speaker. “Let me up.”

Derek doesn’t really know why Stiles is here to early, but he’s not complaining. There’s the crank of the elevator, and Derek can hear Stiles’ heartbeat as he gets closer. Opening the door, Derek leans against the wall and waits for the elevator to shudder to a hault.

“Hey,” Stiles says as he walks over to Derek. There’s a backpack slung over his shoulder, and Derek tries to hide the shiver that goes down his spine at the reason for Stiles having a backpack with him.

Cupping Stiles’ cheek, Derek rubs his thumb against Stiles’ skin and leans in for a quick kiss. “Hi,” he says quietly when he pulls away.

“We going inside, or are we going to give your neighbours a show?” Rolling his eyes, Derek tugs Stiles inside, smiling fondly when Stiles drops his backpack on the floor by the couch and flops down, kicking his shoes off and raising an eyebrow at Derek. “You joining me?”

“What do I get if I do?”

Stiles wriggles his eyebrows and Derek’s skin shouldn’t be heating up, but it’s Stiles, and Derek’s been falling for Stiles since before he realised. As soon as Derek’s ass hits the cushion, Stiles is on him, pushing Derek back against the arm of the couch and clambering on top of him. Derek laughs, grinning up at Stiles, and he runs his hands up Stiles’ back, the fabric crumpling under his fingers. Nosing at Stiles’ neck, Derek kisses his warm skin, sinking into the couch when Stiles lets out a soft sigh.

Trailing a line of kisses up Stiles’ jaw, Derek moves a hand up to hold the back of Stiles’ head, fingers carding through Stiles’ hair. Derek kisses the side of Stiles’ mouth, before being caught off guard when Stiles turns into it; Stiles tastes of pancakes with chocolate sauce, and Derek smiles, slipping a hand up Stiles’ shirt, splaying his fingers against Stiles’ heated skin. He’s sure Stiles’ skin must be flushed by now, and Derek wants to see, wants to touch every inch of Stiles’ body; it feels like he could lose himself inside Stiles if he had the chance.

Nipping at Derek’s bottom lip, Stiles pulls away for a moment, resting their foreheads together, his eyes bright. Derek smiles, flicks his tongue out to lick at Stiles’ lips, trying to chase for more kisses, and it makes Stiles laugh, which is quickly turning into Derek’s favourite sound in the world.

“You didn’t have to come over early,” Derek says softly. “But I’m glad you’re here.”

“Wanna move this to your bedroom?”

“Oh.” Derek shifts on the couch, his brow furrowing a little. “You want to — now?”

His hands resting on Derek’s shoulders, Stiles shakes his head, fingers stroking against the exposed skin by Derek’s neckline. “Not if you don’t want to. I guess Laura’s going to be coming home soon?”

“There is that, yeah.” Derek grins, squeezing Stiles’ waist a little. “I don’t really want my sister coming home during anything we do.”

A wicked smirk appears on Stiles’ face, and he wriggles on Derek’s lap, grinding his ass against Derek’s crotch. “Bet there’s something we can do in that time.”

“Let me do something first,” Derek says, lifting Stiles up, laughing when he lets out a shocked squawk. Arms flailing as Derek carries him into the kitchen, Stiles pouts as he’s put down on a chair in the kitchen, which only goes away when Derek kisses him. Stepping away, Derek opens the fridge and grabs the small red velvet cake with white frosting; he sticks two candles in it and lights them. “Close your eyes,” he says, balancing the cake in one hand and turning around.

Derek carefully puts the cake on the table and takes the seat next to Stiles, knocks their shoulders together and kisses Stiles’ cheek. “Open your eyes.”

“Oh,” Stiles breathes out, his eyes fixed on the cake.

“Happy Birthday. S’your favourite, right?”

“Yep.” Stiles turns, presses a firm kiss to Derek’s mouth before linking their fingers together. “My mom used to make me a cake for myself when I was little if my birthday wasn’t on a day I could have a party.”

“I remember,” Derek says quietly, squeezing Stiles’ hand. “Blow your candles out.”

“I’d rather blow you.”

“Later.”

“Promise?”

Derek coughs and looks away, his cheeks heating up. “You going to blow your candles out before they melt into the cake?”

Rolling his eyes, Stiles brushes his foot against Derek’s shin and forms an “o” with his mouth, before he blows out the candles. Derek can’t stop staring at Stiles’ face; the pink flush on the tops of his cheeks, the softness of his mouth, and when Stiles meets his eyes, Derek’s lips curve into a small smile. Sticking his finger in the frosting, Stiles doesn’t look away from Derek as he sucks at his finger, his cheeks hollowing out and —

“Bedroom,” Derek bites out when Stiles finally finishes. “Now.” He grabs Stiles’ hand and pulls him up; Stiles stumbles over the leg of his chair and Derek steadies him, his free hand grasping at Stiles’ side. “Okay?”

“Fine, I’m fine,” Stiles says, his pulse racing. “Weren’t we going somewhere?”

Derek lets Stiles tug him towards Derek’s bedroom; closing the door behind him, Derek watches with wide eyes as Stiles strips his shirt off and sits on the edge of the bed. Stepping forward, Derek kneels on the floor and slides a hand up Stiles’ thigh, letting the tips of his fingers linger against the seam of Stiles’ jeans.

“I thought I was going to do this to you,” Stiles says in a low tone.

“Is that a complaint?”

“No, no, carry on.”

“Stand up,” Derek says, rocking back on his heels. “Take your pants off.”

“Romantic,” Stiles laughs, but he obeys. There’s no show to what Stiles does, and Derek enjoys it all the more because of that. He doesn’t want a show, doesn’t want anything but what Stiles is giving him; the light pink flush spreading down his body as he takes his pants off, sitting back down on the bed to get them over his feet. When Stiles goes to remove his boxers, Derek reaches out and stops him, one hand covering Stiles’ wrist.

“Let me.” Derek shuffles forward on his knees, inhaling the scent of pre-come already leaking into Stiles’ boxers. “I want —”

“Whatever you want,” Stiles says, touching Derek’s face with the tips of his fingers.

Letting go of Stiles’ wrist, Derek slides his hands up Stiles’ thighs again, savouring the feel of the hair under his palms. Stiles’ cock is pushing against the fabric of his boxers and Derek wants it so much he can’t quite put it into words. Hooking his fingers in the top of Stiles’ boxers, Derek looks up at Stiles, sucking in a breath at the sight of him. “Lift up,” he says, his voice hoarse.

Biting his lip, Stiles rests his hands on the bed and pushes himself up enough so that Derek can tug the boxers down and then Stiles’ cock is right there, almost fully hard, curving slightly to the left, pre-come shiny and sticky on the head, and Derek — he just wants.

“You gonna stare at me all day?” The flush on Stiles’ chest is darker now, covering his whole chest, and running down towards his cock. Derek can’t wait to get his mouth all over that flush, to bite at Stiles’ nipples, make him writhe beneath him when Derek finally gets to take his time with Stiles.

“I could always stare at you all day,” Derek says, throwing Stiles’ boxers to the side and pushing his legs apart. “But right now I want —” he licks a stripe up the side of Stiles’ cock and smirks when Stiles’ fingers twist in the sheets. Holding Stiles’ cock in one hand, Derek licks his lips and takes Stiles in his mouth. Derek’s not prepared for the way Stiles tastes, how his scent is so much stronger like this, and it’s fucking overwhelming. He can’t take too much of Stiles into his mouth, not for his first time, but Derek tries; he takes as much as he can before gagging, and then he pulls off, a trail of spit running from his mouth to Stiles’ cock.

Wrapping his hand around the base of Stiles’ dick, Derek strokes him a few times, listening to Stiles’ breathing to guide his touch before he goes back to it, already missing the weight of Stiles’ cock against his tongue. It’s sloppy, and Derek knows there are other people who could do this better, but Stiles’ fingers are curling tentatively in his hair, gasps falling from his mouth, so Derek knows he’s doing something right. Stiles’ grip in Derek’s hair is getting bolder, holding on firmly, and it spurs Derek on; saliva spills from the corner of Derek’s mouth and he uses it to stroke the rest of Stiles’ dick, keeping up a steady rhythm until Stiles is shifting on the bed, his fingers gripping Derek’s hair tightly. He’s whispering words about how close he is, and Derek feels like he should be pulling away, but he wants the whole experience; wants Stiles to come in his mouth, wants to taste Stiles.

It only takes two more strokes before Derek gets his wish and then Stiles is coming. There’s too much for Derek to swallow, and he pulls off spluttering, keeping a hand on Stiles’ cock and working him through until there’s come all over his hand. When he lets go and licks his hand, there’s a groan from Stiles. “What?”

“You’re ridiculously hot,” Stiles says, leaning back on his hands and staring at Derek.

Cheeks heating up, Derek drops his hand and shifts awkwardly on his knees. His dick is pressing against his pants and he wants anything Stiles is willing to give him. Wiping his hand on his shirt, he pulls it off over his head and throws it to the side. There’s an uptick in Stiles’ pulse when Derek gets to his feet and the predator part of Derek enjoys that more than he’s comfortable admitting.

Stiles’ eyes travel the length of Derek’s body and Derek raises an eyebrow when Stiles meets his eyes. “Something you want me to do?”

“I’m feeling kind of exposed,” Stiles says with an easy grin. “I think you should join me.” There’s a lazy swoop of his foot as he looks up at Derek.

“That’s what you think?”

“Oh yeah.”

Derek makes a thoughtful noise and presses the palm of his hand against the bulge in his pants before he undoes the top button, watching as Stiles’ eyes automatically fall to Derek’s crotch. Making quick work of the rest of the fastenings, Derek pushes his jeans down over his hips, balancing on one foot to tug them off completely, leaving them where they fall.

“Come here,” Stiles says, kneeling on the bed, and those words are all it takes for Derek to do what Stiles asks. He clambers onto the bed, almost faceplanting in his desperation, and he can feel his skin heating up with a combination of embarrassment and excitement. When he laying on the bed, staring at the ceiling, Stiles comes and climbs on top of him, pressing his hands against Derek’s chest.

Covering Stiles’ hands with his own, Derek’s lips curve into a small, private smile. They feel swollen from his earlier actions, and it’s like he’s carrying a badge of honour, that anyone could look at him and know exactly what he was doing to Stiles earlier.

“What is it?” Stiles leans down, brushing his lips against Derek’s forehead. “What do you want?”

“Whatever you want to do.”

A wide grin spreads across Stiles’ face and he slides off Derek’s body. Running his fingers down Derek’s chest, he stops just above the waistband of Derek’s boxer briefs and presses his fingertips against the trail of hair. “I think I really want to blow you.”

Derek’s cock twitches in response to that, and he can feel the pre-come soaking the fabric of his underwear. He’s so turned on from getting Stiles off that he’s not sure he’s going to last once Stiles gets his mouth on him. Running a hand up Stiles’ muscled forearm, Derek tilts his head back on the pillow and licks his lips. “Please,” he says, his voice hoarse. “Please.”

“I got you.” Stiles kisses Derek like he’s trying to find his own taste in Derek’s mouth and it’s hotter than Derek ever imagined a kiss could be. He threads his fingers through Stiles’ hair and holds him there for as long as possible; until Stiles pulls away, his breathing becoming laboured.

Swinging himself over Derek’s legs and sitting down, Stiles places kisses all down Derek’s body, hooks his fingers in the waistband of Derek’s underwear and slowly pulls them down. Derek lifts his hips up as Stiles goes, holding back a burst of laughter when Stiles realises he has to move to get the underwear down Derek’s legs. The furrow between Stiles’ brow makes Derek want to kiss it away, but before he can do anything about it, Stiles is back on him; he’s leaning over Derek’s cock, breathing over it as he runs a finger up along the thick vein on the underside, and it’s the best kind of teasing Derek can imagine.

Climbing off Derek, Stiles lies down diagonally on the bed and wraps one firm hand around Derek’s cock, squeezing lightly when Derek can’t hold back a groan. Stiles’ hands are a revelation; Derek’s been dreaming of them being on him again since that night by the car, and he’s not disappointed now.

“M’not gonna last long,” Derek mutters, his hand seeking out Stiles’ skin, the tips of his fingers grazing Stiles’ shoulder.

“Okay, okay.” Stiles sucks his bottom lip into his mouth and contemplates Derek’s cock; Derek is about to say something when Stiles rolls back Derek’s foreskin and covers Derek’s dick with his mouth, swirling his tongue around the head and Derek — he’s clenching his fists, trying so hard not to push up into Stiles’ mouth because he knows what that’ll feel like, doesn’t want to choke Stiles, doesn’t want this to be anything but amazing for both of them.

The heat of Stiles’ mouth is almost enough for Derek to come, but it’s Stiles’ tongue that finally sets Derek off; running down the side of Derek’s cock when he pulls off, circling around the head, dipping into the slit. Derek’s hand grips what of Stiles he can find, fingers pressing marks into Stiles’ shoulder that’ll stay for a long time and he —

Derek’s eyes flutter shut when he comes, his thighs shaking, his lungs sucking in air desperately. When Derek recovers and directs his gaze down his body, Stiles is still holding his cock, playing with the come that’s all over his hands; Derek swears softly, almost wishing he could get hard again already. His dick twitches in Stiles’ grip, and a small smirk spreads across Stiles’ face when he looks at Derek. “You want to go again?”

Laughing, Derek shakes his head and reaches out for Stiles, clumsily pulling him up until they’re curled up together. Rubbing one hand down Stiles’ back, Derek licks the come in the corner of Stiles’ mouth, chasing the taste until they’re kissing. Derek rolls onto his back, taking Stiles with him, and the come between them is making a mess, but he doesn’t care; letting go of Stiles is the last thing Derek wants to do, and judging by the way Stiles is running his hands all over Derek’s skin, he feels the same way.

“We, uh, should shower,” Stiles mumbles against Derek’s lips, one hand stroking Derek’s hair as he lifts his head up.

“Uh huh.” Derek runs his hands up Stiles’ arms, cupping the back of his head and pulling him down for another kiss. It’s getting late, Laura will be back soon, but it’s hard to have any desire to move when Stiles is sprawled on top of him.

Stiles pulls away and sits up, raising an eyebrow at Derek. “You might be an exhibitionist, but I have zero desire to have your sister catch us naked on the way to the shower.” Sliding off the bed, Stiles shrugs and reaches a hand out to Derek. “C’mon.”

Reluctantly, Derek gets off the bed, taking Stiles’ hand, unable to resist placing a sloppy kiss against Stiles’ cheek. “Hold on,” he says, tugging Stiles towards the drawers. Letting go of Stiles, Derek opens the second drawer and grabs two pairs of sweatpants. “I know you’ve got clothes, but in case Laura comes back while we’re in the shower.”

Opening the bedroom door, Derek and Stiles stumble across to the bathroom, draping the sweats over the towel rack; Stiles sits on the edge of the tub and unashamedly watches Derek switch the shower on. Sitting next to him, Derek rests his head against Stiles’ shoulder and looks over at the pale blue tiles. “What time are people coming over?”

“I told everyone any time after eight. Is that okay?”

Nodding, Derek reaches behind him and sticks a hand under the spray. Silently standing up, he gets into the shower, Stiles following him and pulling the curtain across. Squeezing some body wash onto his hands, Derek rubs his palms against Stiles’ skin, lightly scrubbing the drying come off him. Running his fingers up Stiles’ shoulder, Derek presses against the bruises forming there. “Sorry,” he says, words garbled by the water.

“For what?” Stiles blinks, scrubbing a hand through his hair.

“These.” Gently touching the bruises, Derek kisses the tip of Stiles’ nose. “I didn’t mean to —”

“I like them,” Stiles says in a rush. “I — it makes me feel good, like I, uh. Like I belong to you.”

“You —”

“That’s okay, right?” Biting his lip, Stiles looks at Derek uncertainly. “That I want to be yours?”

Derek can’t find the words for how much he loves Stiles for that; his mouth drops open and he nods, hands firm on Stiles’ skin. “I — I’m yours, as well,” he finally says, his eyes wide, glad that Stiles can’t hear how fast his heart is beating. Derek feels ridiculous; standing in the shower like this with Stiles, but there’s a warmth spreading through his body that has nothing to do with the water spraying down on them.

Skin flushing, Stiles ducks his head with a smile. “Turn around,” he says. “Let me wash your back.”

*

Derek strips the bed while Stiles grabs his bag from the living room; it’s not that he doesn’t love the way the bed smells of him and Stiles — it’s the best smell Derek can think of — but there’s come smeared across the sheets, and Derek, he wants everything to be right later. He knows it’s sappy, but Stiles deserves it, deserves whatever Derek is capable of giving him.

Pulling on a pair of black jeans, Derek’s about to fasten the zipper when Stiles comes back in the room and drops his bag on the floor. “Are you seriously not going to wear underwear?” Stiles groans, walking over to Derek and sliding his arms around him. His lips are soft, and he tastes like cake, which makes Derek smile.

“You eating your cake without me?”

“Don’t think that’s going to distract me from this,” Stiles says, slipping a hand down the back of Derek’s jeans and grasping at Derek’s ass. “How am I meant to enjoy the party knowing that you’re walking around like this?”

Derek smirks and reaches behind himself to grab Stiles’ wrist. “Can I get dressed now?”

Moving his hand out of Derek’s pants, Stiles steps away; folding his arms across his bare chest, he shrugs. “Go on then.”

Feeling Stiles’ eyes on him, Derek does up his jeans slowly, reaching in and adjusting himself before he fastens them. Turning around, he spends more time than he needs to looking in his wardrobe for the deep red button up shirt he’d planned on wearing tonight. Stiles’ gaze is fixed on him, the hairs on the back of Derek’s neck prick up, and it’s gratifying to know that Stiles is as affected by him as he is by Stiles.

Shrugging the shirt on, Derek leaves it open as he sits on the edge of the bed. “Now you,” he says, raising his eyebrows at Stiles.

“Menace,” Stiles mumbles underneath his breath as he unzips his backpack. Derek starts to regret teasing Stiles when Stiles shimmies out of the sweatpants Derek gave him and stands naked next to Derek as he rummages through his bag, pulling out seemingly unending amounts of clothing.

Trying to ignore the fact that Stiles is still naked, Derek leans back on his hands and pointedly looks at the pile of clothing Stiles has left on the bed. “How long were you planning on staying here?”

“Shut up,” Stiles says, kicking Derek’s shin. “It’s my birthday, I wanted choices.”

“Wear the black.”

“Because that’s your usual colour choice?”

“Because you’ll look good in it.” Derek pulls out a pair of dark blue jeans from the pile and hands them to Stiles. “These as well.” Standing up to button his shirt, he ducks his head and whispers, “no underwear,” in Stiles’ ear.

Coughing, Stiles tugs on the jeans, his cheeks flushing as he tucks himself in, zipping them up carefully. “You’re an asshole,” he says, kissing Derek’s neck.

“So are you,” Derek replies without turning around. Stiles’ arms loop around his waist and then Stiles’ mouth starts to suck at the base of his skull, just below his hairline. Shuddering, Derek covers Stiles’ hands with his own, feeling the prick of his fangs against his lips before he manages to regain enough control to pull them back.

“I wish that would last,” Stiles says when he pulls away, his tongue swiping over the quickly fading mark.

“There are — I can control the healing sometimes.” Turning in Stiles’ arms, Derek strokes up and down Stiles’ sides. “If you want?”

“You — yeah. If you’re, I don’t want you do something you don’t want to do.”

Derek ducks his head, sticking his face against Stiles’ neck and breathing in his scent. Grazing his teeth against the tendons, he bites down a little, not enough to mark Stiles, but enough to make his intentions clear.

Oh,” Stiles says, one hand fisting in Derek’s hair. “Yeah, okay.”

Smiling against Stiles’ skin, Derek stills for a moment, realising he can hear Laura’s heartbeat. Straightening up, he kisses Stiles quickly, before saying “Laura’s almost home,” and reaching behind him for the pair of socks he left on top of the chest of drawers.

“She always ruins my fun.”

“She’s staying at Melissa’s tonight,” Derek says, tying the laces on his boots.

“I take it back.”

*

The music isn’t loud enough to hurt Derek’s ears, but there’s enough pounding bass that Derek can feel it vibrating through his body. Laura made him push the couch back so there’d be room for dancing, and, as much as he doesn’t want to admit it, she probably had the right idea. Stiles is in the middle of the group dancing up a storm in front of the speakers, and it’s — Derek isn’t sure where Stiles learnt to use his hips like that, but it’s making Derek’s jeans very uncomfortable.

“You okay?” Laura hands him a beer, a wide smile on her face like she’s enjoying this more than Stiles is.

Nodding, Derek takes a swig of the beer, not looking away from Stiles waving his hands in the air. Even with all these other people in the apartment, Derek can still easily find Stiles’ scent, would be able to find it anywhere, even in the busiest mall. It’s a comfort, and he hides a smile when Stiles almost falls over his own feet.

“You not going to join him?” Laura asks, nudging Derek with her elbow.

“I don’t dance.”

Rolling her eyes, Laura pushes herself off the wall and head into the kitchen. “The kids need more chips,” she explains. “Go enjoy yourself with your boyfriend.”

Before Derek can think about following Laura’s instructions, Scott is standing next to him, sweat covering his face. He punches Derek’s arm, swaying a little, and Derek can smell the rum in the solo cup he’s holding.

“Derek, hey!” Scott grins at him, sipping from his cup and nodding his head in time with the music. “This is really good,” he says, slurring a little. “Good for Stiles, y’know? An’you — you’re going to be good to Stiles, right?” Scott’s eyes are wider than usual, and really it’s probably wise that Laura didn’t bite him, because then Scott would have literal puppy dog eyes, and Derek doesn’t want to know what damage Scott could do with those. He’s earnestly staring at Derek, poking him with one finger, and seemingly waiting for Derek to respond.

“I, yes?” Derek finally says, his brows furrowing. He takes a deep breath, trying to avoid the alcohol fumes Scott is emitting. “I’d do anything for Stiles.”

Scott’s smile gets wider, and he flings his arms around Derek, narrowly avoiding spilling his rum. “S’good, Derek. You’ll look after my bro.”

It’s awkward, Derek’s still not used to hugging people like this — not after everything — but it’s Scott, and Scott’s pack. Patting him on the back, Derek returns Scott’s hug before removing himself from the embrace. “You need water,” he says, clasping Scott by the shoulder and directing him into the kitchen. Ignoring Laura’s amused look, Derek gets a bottle of water from the fridge, takes the cap off and hands it to Scott. “Drink this before you drink any more alcohol, okay?”

Scott nods happily, chugging the water down and pointing over at one of his friends Derek doesn’t know. Draining the bottle, Scott passes it back to Derek and head back out to the main room, putting Stiles in a headlock and yelling for a different song to be put on.

*

It’s past midnight when the party dies down, and the only people who are left are pack; Stiles’ head is in Derek’s lap, and he keeps bursting into giggles every few minutes, his nose scrunching up in a way that Derek refuses to call adorable.

“Hey, hey Derek,” Stiles says, waving his hand in front of Derek’s face. “I like you.”

Capturing Stiles hand with his, Derek kisses Stiles’ knuckles. “I know.”

“Do you like me?” Stiles’ lips form a pout, his eyes widening as he stares up at Derek. There’s a faint air of alcohol wafting from Stiles, not enough for him to be as drunk as he’s acting, but enough that Derek gives in and humors him.

“You know I do.” Squeezing Stiles’ hand, Derek puts it back down on Stiles’ chest, letting go and smiling down at him. “Have a good birthday?”

“Yep.”

Scott makes a snuffling noise from where he’s faceplanted on the floor and raises a fist. “S’good birthday, Stiles. Sleep now.”

“Oh no.” Jumping out of her chair, Laura pokes Scott with her foot. “You are not sleeping here. I promised Melissa you’d get home, no matter what state you were in.”

“But she’ll see me,” Scott whines, lifting his head from the floor. “And I’m drunk.”

Laura snorts and easily hauls Scott up until he’s got one arm draped over her shoulder in an attempt to balance. “You puke on me and I’ll leave you in a gutter.”

“Uh oh,” is all Scott says before he shuts up, one hand clamped over his mouth.

“You should really take him back before he vomits on you,” Stiles says with a lazy grin.

Raising an eyebrow at Stiles, Laura shifts Scott slightly. “Because you have no reason for wanting us to go, do you Stiles?”

“Nope,” Stiles says with an angelic smile that Derek doesn’t believe for a second.

“Uh huh. Scott, where are your shoes?” Laura lets go of Scott and waves a hand at him. “Stiles, who was the girl that left with Boyd?”

“What?” Tearing his gaze away from Derek, Stiles looks at Laura. “Oh, uh, Erica.”

“She’s sick, right?”

Shifting on to his side, Stiles nods; he reaches back and grabs Derek’s arm, curling it around his waist. “She’s epileptic. She’s on a new treatment I think? But her mom isn’t comfortable with her being out by herself yet. Boyd’s a good guy, treats her right, y’know? Not everyone has been as nice.”

Derek strokes Stiles’ stomach, his fingers moving in slow patterns as Stiles talks to Laura. It’s comfortable, having Stiles curled up on his lap like this, a solid warm weight, a reminder that he’s not leaving. “I think you need to get Scott home,” Derek says, lazily raising the hand not wrapped around Stiles and pointing at where Scott is slumped against the wall.

Laura laughs when she glances over at Scott and shakes her head, grabbing her jacket from the kitchen. “C’mon,” she says, dragging Scott forward by his arm. “Time to get you home.”

“Do I have a bed there?”

“Yes, Scott, you have a bed there.”

“Awesome.”

“Bye buddy,” Stiles calls out, rubbing his cheek against Derek’s leg.

Derek holds a hand up in goodbye as Laura directs Scott out of the apartment. When the door closes behind them, he touches Stiles’ shoulder, smiling when Stiles rolls onto his back. “Hey,” Derek says, tapping Stiles on the nose, trailing his fingers down to Stiles’ slightly swollen lips.

“Hi.” Pursing his lips, Stiles kisses Derek’s fingers before sighing. He reaches up and touches Derek’s face; Derek closes his eyes as Stiles drags his hand over his skin, the pads of Stiles’ fingers running across Derek’s beard, the curve of his lips, tapping lightly against Derek’s chin. “You’re really attractive,” Stiles whines, his palm warm against Derek’s cheek. “I really like you.”

Opening his eyes, Derek looks down at Stiles and covers the hand on his cheek, threading their fingers together and kissing Stiles’ palm. “C’mon,” he says, letting go of Stiles’ hand, his free hand touching Stiles’ leg. “Time to move.”

“What? No. I like it here.” Stiles wriggles and smirks. “You’re comfy.”

Before Stiles can react, Derek scoops an arm under Stiles’ legs, the other one under his shoulders, and stands up, getting halfway to his bedroom before Stiles starts to protest. “You, you’re — I am not a Disney Princess, Derek!”

“I am very aware of that, Stiles.” Walking into the bedroom, Derek leans over the bed and gently drops Stiles onto the mattress. “No one is ever going to accuse you of being a princess.”

“That’s just mean,” Stiles says, scooting back on the bed and folding his arms over his chest. “It’s my birthday, I could be a princess if I want.”

Joining Stiles on the bed, Derek ignores his comment and pulls Stiles’ feet into his lap, untying the laces on his shoes and throwing them off the bed. Tugging Stiles’ socks off, Derek presses his fingers against the arch of Stiles’ foot, smiling to himself when Stiles goes silent, nothing but a soft, “oh,” falling from his lips. He does it again, one hand on Stiles’ ankle, fingers touching the delicate bones; Derek can feel Stiles’ eyes on him, enjoys the way Stiles doesn’t shy away from the way he watches Derek. He never hides it, whenever Derek looks back at him, Stiles just smiles a smile that is only ever for Derek, and doesn’t look away. Derek’s spine always jolts under Stiles’ gaze, even when it’s during something simple like watching television.

Letting go of Stiles’ feet, Derek shuffles up the bed and quirks a smile at the way Stiles is almost boneless, sinking into the mattress with a peaceful look on his face. Stroking a hand through Stiles’ hair, Derek meets Stiles’ eyes. “You okay?”

Nodding, Stiles wraps a hand around Derek’s forearm and squeezes. “Head’s fuzzy.”

“That’d be the whiskey.”

“Smartass.”

“Takes one to know one.”

“Why’d my foot massage go away?”

“Because you were almost asleep.” Derek carries on touching Stiles’ head, scratching his fingers against Stiles’ skull. “Stiles, I don’t think we — tonight, I think —”

“S’okay, big guy.” Stiles yawns, his hand limp around Derek’s arm. “I’m not — I get it. Fully informed consent.” Waving a hand in the air, Stiles smiles that smile at Derek, his eyes warm as he looks at him. “Just because I’m eighteen, doesn’t mean we have to fuck right away.”

Derek’s quiet for a moment; he just looks at Stiles, taking in all that makes him Stiles, all the things that Derek can’t do without. “I love you,” he says quietly, fingers stroking through Stiles’ hair.

“I —” Stiles’ mouth opens and closes a few times, his eyes wide. “Why did you tell me that when I’ve been drinking?” he groans, smacking Derek on the arm. “I was — I had plans, dude. There was going to be romance and shit. Instead you just said it, and I —”

“Stiles —”

“I love you too,” Stiles blurts out, his grip on Derek’s arm firmer, to the point where it would leave bruises. “I, Derek, you’ve been it for me since —” he breaks off and scrambles into a sitting position, almost knocking Derek backwards as he gets closer. “You’re mine,” he says softly. “And I’m yours.”

There’s a hitch in Derek’s breath as he touches Stiles, pulling him closer until their noses brush against each other. He can smell the whiskey on Stiles’ breath, it mixes with the lust and love coming in waves from Stiles, and Derek revels in it, keeping their mouths from touching until he can’t take it anymore. It’s sloppy, both of them too eager for anything else, but then Derek brings a hand up and touches Stiles’ cheek, letting it ground him. Slowing the kiss down, Derek sighs against Stiles’ mouth, nips lightly at Stiles’ bottom lip, enjoying the rasp of his stubble against Stiles’ skin.

“We, uh, we should stop,” Stiles says between kisses, a hand resting against Derek’s chest, fingers poking through the gaps in Derek’s shirt. “I might fall asleep on you.”

Chuckling, Derek kisses the corner of Stiles’ mouth and tilts his head away. “Bathroom,” he says. “Then you can fall asleep on me.”

It’s satisfyingly domestic as they wash up together, Stiles leaning into Derek as he brushes his teeth, light touches as they pass each other to grab towels and soap. Derek’s never been good about people being in his space, even as a child he would retreat out of the house to get time alone, but it’s always been different with Stiles. They’d shared everything when they were kids, Derek still remembers the shock his mom showed when he offered Stiles his Oreos, how Peter raised his eyebrows in surprise when Derek lent Stiles his copy of The Hobbit.

When they make it back to Derek’s bedroom, Stiles is already drooping, and he barely stays awake long enough for Derek to switch the light off and get into bed. Stiles’ arm almost smacks Derek in the face as they settle, but eventually they fit together with Derek’s palm resting over Stiles’ heart. Taking a deep breath to inhale Stiles’ scent, Derek closes his eyes and lets the sound of Stiles’ steady heartbeat lull him to sleep.

*

Derek wakes up slowly, his face smashed into Stiles’ armpit; he would be embarrassed by the way he’s greedily inhaling Stiles’ scent if it weren’t for how much Stiles accepts everything to do with Derek’s wolf. Rubbing his nose against Stiles’ skin, Derek kisses along Stiles’ side until he reaches Stiles’ hip. There are streaks of sun coming through the curtains, and Derek hides under the blankets, resting his head against Stiles’ bare stomach and waiting for Stiles to wake up.

“Whatcha doing?” Stiles says sleepily, his hand patting Derek’s head through the blankets. “Is this a blow job situation?”

Silently laughing, Derek opens his mouth and bites at Stiles’ hip, his arms holding Stiles still when he squirms.

“Okay, okay, no blow job, jeez.” Stiles’ voice is rough, and there’s the slight rustling as Stiles moves his arms, possibly to rub his eyes. Derek likes being able to listen to Stiles like this, to not have eyes on him, yet knowing what all of Stiles’ little sounds and movements are. He lies there for a while, tracing patterns on Stiles’ skin and breathing in Stiles’ stronger scent. Stiles’ hand stays on Derek’s head, and Derek can tell from Stiles’ breathing that he hasn’t gone back to sleep, that he’s enjoying this moment as much as Derek is.

Placing a wet kiss against Stiles’ hip, Derek eyes the way Stiles’ dick is starting to harden, and he smirks before sliding up the bed, sticking his head out from under the blankets and looking at Stiles. “Hi,” he says, his voice hoarse.

“Enjoy yourself down there?” Stiles threads his fingers through Derek’s hair and tugs at the ends. Tilting his head into the touch, Derek nods before he moves to cover Stiles’ body with his own.

“Too heavy?” he asks, kissing Stiles’ chin, trying not to crush Stiles.

“There’s an assumption of weakness in that question I’m not comfortable with,” Stiles says with a smirk before his face softens. “I like having you on me. It’s solid, reassuring.”

“You trust me.”

“Was that not clear by now?”

Derek swallows past the lump in his throat and shifts to his hands and knees, leaning over Stiles, a feral smile on his face when he hears Stiles’ heartbeat pick up. “You want —”

“I want,” Stiles says quickly, reaching up and touching each bit of Derek’s skin he can find. “I want everything.”

There’s nothing Derek can say to that, his mind goes blank and he leans down, capturing Stiles’ mouth in a fierce kiss. Stiles surges up to meet him and then they’re tangled together; legs brushing against each other, half hard cocks coming into contact, and Derek’s swallowing the groan Stiles lets out. Stiles tastes like morning after; a strange mix of stale toothpaste and whiskey, but Derek refuses to let him go for the time it would take for them to go to the bathroom.

Stiles’ dick is hard against Derek’s thigh and Derek pushes up against it, biting down on Stiles’ bottom lip when Stiles groans. “Derek,” Stiles mumbles. “Come on, I want — fuck — please.”

“Please what?” Derek says, smirking at the way Stiles’ eyes narrow.

“Fuck me.”

And it’s those words, so stark, so needy, that spur Derek into action. Pushing the blankets off the bed, Derek rocks back on his heels and stares at Stiles. Watches the way Stiles’ chest rises and falls, his cock heavy and flushed, leaking pre-come over his stomach. It’s fucking hypnotising and Derek could watch him forever if he had the choice. Running his hands up Stiles’ thighs, Derek bends over and licks at the head of Stiles’ cock, taking pleasure in the way it twitches under the attention.

“How do you —” Derek breaks off and waves a hand at Stiles. “I want to see your face.”

Stiles shuffles down the bed and rolls his hips off the mattress. “Like this,” he says. “Give me a pillow.” When Derek reaches up, Stiles takes advantage of the access and tickles along Derek’s ribs, an unrepentant grin on his face when Derek glares at him.

“Menace,” Derek says, pushing the pillow under Stiles’ hips and kissing the inside of Stiles’ thigh.

“I’m not sorry.”

Spreading Stiles’ legs, Derek presses a dry finger against Stiles’ entrance, just enough to put some pressure there. “You sure about that?”

“Y-yeah.”

“Uh huh.” Sliding off the bed, Derek opens his bedside table drawer and grabs the lube. Staring at the box of condoms that’ve been sitting there for months, Derek glances at Stiles. “Do you — I can’t give you anything, and I want —”

“To come in my ass?”

“Jesus, Stiles.” Sucking in a breath, Derek wraps two fingers around the base of his cock and squeezes, closing his eyes in an attempt to keep from coming at the sound of those words coming from Stiles’ mouth. “Your fucking mouth.”

“Leave the condoms in the drawer and get over here.”

Dropping the lube by Stiles’ head, Derek covers Stiles’ body, unable to resist the temptation of Stiles’ bitten red lips. Derek needs the contact, wants to feel Stiles against him like this; warm bodies colliding, Stiles’ hands lighting him up with every touch.

Working his way down Stiles’ body, Derek tastes each bit of Stiles’ skin he can, taking note of the differences as he does. There’s a thin sheen of sweat over Stiles’ chest, spread down to his stomach, and there’s a whiskey tinge as Derek swipes his tongue over the skin. Stiles squirms underneath Derek’s ministrations, small gasps echoing in the room, and Derek tries to resist rubbing himself against the sheets as he continues his journey.

Stiles’ scent gets muskier the closer Derek gets to his dick, and Derek can’t stop himself from taking Stiles’ cock in his mouth and sucking until Stiles lets out a yell, his hands fisting in the sheets. Pulling off, Derek kisses Stiles’ hipbones and moves down, spreading Stiles’ legs and slipping between them. Rubbing his beard against Stiles’ inner thighs, Derek bites the reddening skin before lifting his head. “Lube?”

Fumbling above him, Stiles finds the lube and presses it into Derek’s outstretched hand. Derek rearranges the pillow underneath Stiles’ hips before drizzling the lube on his fingers. “Ready?”

Stiles nods, a relaxed smile on his face. “Yeah,” he says, his voice soft, leg knocking into Derek’s shoulder gently.

Taking a deep breath, Derek circles his fingers against Stiles’ rim over and over again until Stiles whines, saying Derek’s name like it’s a curse. “Patience,” Derek says with a smirk, before he presses his index finger against Stiles’ hole, pushing it inside slowly, feeling Stiles’ body stretch. “Good?”

“Uh huh,” Stiles says, his hips shifting slightly as he adjusts. “C’mon.”

Kissing Stiles’ knee, Derek pushes his finger in up to the knuckle, and it’s tight, so tight that Derek can’t imagine what it’ll feel like when he’s finally inside Stiles. He works his finger in and out until Stiles loosens up, and then Derek adds another, listening to Stiles’ breathing get shallower as he starts pushing back against Derek’s hand. “You okay?” Derek asks, unable to take his eyes off the sight of his fingers vanishing inside Stiles’ body.

“Way past — holy fuck, do that again!” Stiles’ body arches up, his voice strained as Derek’s fingers graze against his prostate.

“I don’t know if I can,” Derek says with a slight laugh. “You — three?”

Stiles is practically fucking himself on Derek’s fingers, the room filled with the sounds of lube squelching, both of them breathing heavy, softly swearing and groaning. His voice is low as he nods furiously. “Yeah, yes, three. Go on.”

And Derek doesn’t know how he got this, how somehow he has Stiles in his life, but it’s everything to him. Withdrawing his fingers, Derek watches in fascination as Stiles’ hole grips at nothing before he pushes three in, finger fucking Stiles slowly, until Stiles is squirming so much he’s almost dislodging the pillow. It’s the best view Derek could imagine. Ducking his head, he licks around Stiles’ rim, wrinkling his nose at the taste of lube, but loving how it makes Stiles squirm even more.

“I — you really need to fuck me if you want me to come when you’re inside me.” Stiles’ hands bat at Derek’s head impatiently and he doesn’t stop until Derek’s removed his fingers. Casting his eyes over Stiles, Derek bites his bottom lip. “What?” Stiles says, his legs curled around Derek. “What is it?”

“Can we — I want you on top of me.” Derek can feel Stiles’ body still, and his cheeks flush, suddenly unsure about his request. “We don’t — however you’re comfortable, but I think —”

Stiles scrambles to sit up, his hands finding Derek’s face, and he kisses him firmly, warm and reassuring. “You think I’d turn down the option to ride you? C’mon,” he says, smoothing his hands down Derek’s shoulders. “Lie on the bed.”

“You sure?” Derek asks, even as he climbs up the bed, his head hitting the pillow as Stiles follows him, settling on top of Derek’s thighs and staring at him.

“Why do you want it like this?”

Pausing for a moment, Derek rests his hands on Stiles’ knees, trying to ignore the way their dicks are brushing against each other. “It puts you in control,” he says eventually. “I don’t — I’m more comfortable like this.”

Leaning over Derek, Stiles presses his lips against Derek’s forehead before placing soft kisses against Derek’s cheeks. “Then I’m sure.” Straightening up, he rubs his hands down Derek’s chest, a wicked grin on his face when he tweaks Derek’s nipples. “Derek, there’s nothing hotter than you being comfortable with what we do, okay?”

Nodding, Derek shifts underneath Stiles, his hands travelling behind Stiles until Derek’s gripping Stiles’ ass, the tips of his fingers teasing at Stiles’ still open hole. The lube trickles out a little and Derek sucks in a breath, his dick suddenly harder than he can ever remember it being, and Stiles must sense something because his eyes widen and then he’s pushing back against Derek’s fingers. One slides in easily, and that’s as much as Derek can take because he needs to be inside Stiles now.

Grabbing Stiles by the waist, Derek moves him up until he’s perched just above Derek’s groin. Moving one hand to grip his own cock, Derek rests a hand on Stiles’ hip. “Move back,” he says, waiting until Stiles’ ass is right up against the head of Derek’s dick. Breathing steadily, Derek locks eyes with Stiles and guides his cock inside him. The sight of Stiles above him like this makes Derek’s heart thud so loudly in his chest, he’s sure even Stiles’ human ears would be able to hear it. Stiles’ eyes are fluttering as he lowers himself down, and it’s taking almost all of Derek’s will not to push up, to give in to the wolf and take Stiles quick and hard.

Derek focuses on the slightly fast heartbeat that he can hear clearly coming from Stiles, the tangy scent coated in warmth that always surrounds Stiles; it’s grounding, makes Derek comes back to himself, and then Stiles sinks down the last inch and it’s — Derek’s almost sure he stops breathing.

“Holy fuck,” Stiles says, his voice a low murmur. His skin is flushed red, sweat coating his chest, and Derek is completely overwhelmed. Neither of them try to move yet; Derek’s fingers come to rest on Stiles’ thighs, stroking up over Stiles’ hips, keeping his touches light as he waits for Stiles to adjust.

“You good?” Derek asks, his hand wrapping around Stiles’ half hard dick and stroking.

“Getting there.” Placing his hands on Derek’s chest, Stiles pushes himself up, rocking his hips a little as he pushes back down. It’s a slow drag, and Derek touches Stiles’ dick in the same rhythm, working him back to full hardness. “Okay,” Stiles says, a little breathless. “That’s — I’m good.”

Derek doesn’t change a thing, wants Stiles to be in control, so he lies there, slowly stroking Stiles’ dick, and lets Stiles rise and fall on top of him. If Derek thinks too much about being inside Stiles, about having Stiles clenching around his dick like this, he’s not going to last very long, and he wants to; he needs to make this good for Stiles because if he does, some part of Derek feels like he’ll be able to erase what his first time was like. Be able to erase Kate.

Stiles’ mouth is open as he lifts himself up, his forearms shaking with the effort, and Derek lets go of Stiles’ dick in order to clasp his hands around Stiles’ arms. Bending his knees, Derek places his feet flat on the bed, and Stiles groans, letting his hands slip forward. “Jesus, Derek.”

“I got you,” Derek says quietly, guiding Stiles forward until he’s cradled on his chest. Stiles’ dick is rubbing against Derek’s abs, leaking pre-come between them and Derek aches to get his hands on it again, but he knows Stiles can’t take holding himself up anymore. Pressing his lips along Stiles’ forehead, Derek grips Stiles’ ass with his hands and starts to fuck up into him, letting his fingers graze against where his cock vanishes inside Stiles.

There’s no rhythm to what Derek does now, not anymore; Stiles is all around him and all he can think of is keeping this connection between them for as long as possible. Stiles lifts his head and their open mouths collide in a rough kiss, Derek sucking at Stiles’ tongue, one hand curling around the back of Stiles’ head. His hips stutter when Stiles pulls away and kisses his way down to Derek’s throat, his back curving as he sucks and nips at Derek’s neck.

Derek’s hands map the ridges of Stiles’ back, the lines of his shoulderblades, the bumps of his spine; Stiles’ teeth scrape against Derek’s jugular, and that sparks something primal inside Derek. He starts fucking Stiles hard, scraping his nails down Stiles’ back, and all Stiles does is ask for more, his mouth marking Derek’s skin between breaths.

“Please, Derek — I need —” Stiles pants against Derek’s neck, his fingers digging into Derek’s biceps.

There’s a tightening in Derek’s balls as he pushes up into Stiles again and again; he’s barely clinging to his human side, and he tugs at Stiles’ hair, pulling up enough that he can stick his face in the gap between Stiles’ throat and shoulder, inhaling Stiles’ scent to keep him there, keep him from wolfing out. “Gonna — m’close,” he manages to say.

“Good,” Stiles says, one of his hands sliding underneath Derek’s head, his fingers threading through Derek’s hair. “Come on. Come for me.”

Stiles’ body is clenching around Derek, somehow making it hotter and slicker than before, and then Derek can’t hold on any longer. He feels his orgasm building in every single nerve ending; when it finally hits, Derek’s vision goes blurry, his limbs shaking as he comes inside Stiles, his hands clinging to Stiles’ skin.

Struggling to regain his breath, Derek strokes his hands down Stiles’ back, not wanting to pull out of Stiles yet. Stiles nudges Derek’s face with his nose, dragging his lips across his skin until they’re kissing, soft and sloppy. Humming happily, Stiles rests his face against Derek’s, rubbing his skin against Derek’s beard. “You gonna stay inside me forever?”

“If I could, I would,” Derek replies before he can stop himself. “I mean —”

“S’okay. I get it. I like it. Still feel full with you like this.”

Stiles’ simple acceptance of everything to do with Derek’s wolf never fails to amaze Derek; how easily he takes in anything that Derek does, not just tolerating it, but enthusiastically taking part. Rolling them over, Derek carefully pulls out of Stiles; kneeling on the bed, he presses his fingers against Stiles’ hole, feeling his own come inside Stiles, possession curling in his gut.

“Not that I haven’t enjoyed your fascination with my ass, but I could, uh, use your help here.”

When Derek looks up, Stiles has got a hand wrapped around his dick, and he’s lazily stroking it as he watches Derek. Surging up the bed, Derek lies next to him, covers Stiles’ hand with his own and kisses Stiles’ shoulder. “Show me,” he says, slotting their fingers together, letting Stiles guide their movements.

“Pretty much anything you’re going to do here will be good,” Stiles says with a laugh. “You, fuck.” Eyes closing, Stiles grips himself firmly and moves their linked hands steadily. “M’so close, Derek.”

“I know.” Derek inhales, his nostrils flaring. “I can tell.”

“You’re sniffing me again, aren’t you?”

“You love it.”

“I do,” Stiles says fondly. Moving their hands faster, Stiles pushes his hips up, and Derek can sense it’s not going to be enough for Stiles, not now. He detangles his hand from Stiles’ and reaches down, pushing two fingers back inside Stiles. “Oh,” Stiles gasps. “Yeah, fuck.” He’s shoving himself down against Derek’s hand while he jerks himself, and Derek can hear Stiles’ pulse speed up. Thighs trembling, Stiles’ breath gets shallower, and then there’s a skip in his heartbeat and he’s coming, his body shaking as he spills all over his chest, his ass clenching around Derek’s fingers.

Delicately removing his fingers, Derek wipes them on the sheets and tugs a limp, pliable Stiles closer, until he can wrap his arms around him. The sun is high in the sky now, casting a glow through the gap in the curtains, turning Stiles’ skin golden. Derek traces a pattern between Stiles’ moles, happy to stay like this for as long as possible, listening to Stiles’ even breathing.

“What’re you doing?” Stiles asks, his mouth smushed against Derek’s collarbone.

“Nothing.”

“You’re playing with my moles,” Stiles sighs, rubbing his cheek against Derek’s skin in an approximation of scent marking. “I can tell.”

“If you can tell, why did you ask?”

“I like hearing your voice.”

There’s really nothing Derek can say to that that doesn’t sound overly emotional; instead he brushes his lips against Stiles’ head and holds him tighter. “We should shower,” he says quietly.

“You sound so enthusiastic about that.” Stiles tips his head up, a crooked grin on his face as he kisses the underside of Derek’s jaw.

“I’ve got you naked in my bed, why do you think I want that to change?”

“Because I have come leaking out of my ass and it’s starting to feel strange,” Stiles says in a matter of fact way, and Derek can’t help but laugh.

“Okay,” he says, letting go of Stiles and splaying his arms out on the bed. “Go shower.”

Sitting up on Derek’s legs, Stiles makes a face and folds his arms over his chest. “You’re coming with me,” he says stubbornly.

Before Derek can answer, he hears his phone vibrate with a text and reaches over to the bedside table. “Laura says she’s having breakfast at the McCalls, but she’ll be home by lunch. She also says we’re banned from having sex in the bathroom.”

“So?”

“So maybe now I want to blow you in the shower.”

“Laura’s going to punch you,” Stiles says with a grin, his eyes tracking the movements of Derek’s body as Derek gets off the bed.

Cupping Stiles’ face with one hand, Derek rubs his thumb against Stiles’ cheekbone and licks at Stiles’ swollen lips, turning it into a gentle kiss that takes Derek’s breath away. “Worth it,” he says when he pulls away. “Always worth it.”

*

“What do you guys do for Hallowe’en?” Trailing his fingers over Derek’s stomach, Stiles circles around his navel, scratching the hair above his crotch. “Are there wolfy traditions?”

Derek looks up from the book he’s reading and raises an eyebrow at Stiles. “We went out trick or treating with you when we were younger.”

“I know that, I just — what did your parents do when we were out?”

“Gave out sweets to any kids who made it to the house.”

“So no wolfy traditions?”

“No.” Saving his place with a bookmark, Derek threads his fingers through Stiles hair. “Though —”

“Yeah?”

“When Laura and I were in New York, we shifted and went to some parties. People thought we were make up artists.”

The glee coming off Stiles is palpable, and he pokes his fingers inside Derek’s navel, grinning up at him. “Did you scare kids? C’mon, I know what a softy you are, you totally scared kids on Hallowe’en didn’t you?”

“Maybe.”

“That’s a yes.”

Derek doesn’t say anything, just picks up his book and hides a smile behind it. The things he enjoyed in New York were few and far between; he’d still been bogged down in guilt, missed Beacon Hills, but Hallowe’en had always been fun. “Hey,” he says, dropping his book. “Why’re you asking about Hallowe’en?”

“Some kids I know are having a party. I —” Stiles hesitates, tapping his fingers against Derek’s skin. “I was thinking of going, if you’ll come with me.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“Sure? You’re not exactly the party king.”

His hand still resting in Stiles’ hair, Derek gently runs a finger down Stiles’ face. “If you want me there, I’ll be there.”

“I kind of thought we could watch everyone else get drunk and hijack one of the bedrooms.” Stiles wriggles his eyebrows at Derek and, one day Derek will be able to resist that, but today isn’t that day.

“Yeah, okay.”

*

Halfway through the party, Derek finds himself draped over Stiles, which isn’t an unusual situation for him these days. There are too many people in the room for him to do what he wants, but when he leans in and whispers in Stiles’ ear that they should go upstairs, Stiles nods eagerly, like it wasn’t his whole reason for coming in the first place.

Neither of them have been drinking, but they pass people in various states of inebriation as they make their way up the stairs, Stiles’ hand linked with Derek’s as they find an empty bedroom. There’s a lock on the door that Derek turns it as soon as they’re inside, and that’s all he gets the chance to do before Stiles is on him, pushing him against the door and kissing him for all he’s worth.

“I think we’ve got about 20 minutes before someone wants this room,” Stiles mutters, his hands pushing Derek’s shirt up.

“Anyone else can wait,” Derek says, sucking a mark against Stiles’ neck, licking over the fast appearing bruise.

“What if I want it fast and dirty?” Looping his arms around Derek’s neck, Stiles shoves his thigh between Derek’s legs and licks a stripe up his neck. “It’s been ages since we’ve done that.”

And there’s a lot about that that appeals to Derek; he’s already unbuttoning Stiles’ pants, shoving one hand inside and wrapping a hand around Stiles’ cock. “No underwear?” he says against Stiles’ mouth.

“Easy access,” Stiles says, tugging down Derek’s fly. “Looks like you thought the same.”

“You’re complaining?”

“Didn’t say that.”

Derek captures Stiles’ mouth in a sloppy kiss, his wrist trapped at an angle as he strokes Stiles’ cock, pushing his own hips up as Stiles’ clever fingers do the same to him. He’s never going to stop being in awe of the way Stiles uses his fingers; Derek’s had them inside him, has licked them as he’s fucked Stiles, watched them as Stiles fiddles with pieces of paper, and they’re always something to admire. Stiles thinks he has a fetish for his fingers; he doesn’t seem to understand that Derek loves everything about Stiles.

When Derek hears Stiles’ breathing start to get shallow, he knows Stiles is close to coming, and the coiling in his own gut means he’s not far behind. They’re good at this now, have worked out all the ways they can get each other off quickly; they know how to tease each other when they’re taking their time, and it’s always good, always special, because it’s them. Derek didn’t know how good it could be until he had Stiles.

The dim noise of the party floats through the door as Derek comes, his head hitting the door as he spills all over Stiles’ hand; Derek carries on stroking Stiles’ cock, his movements rough as he works through his orgasm, but that’s enough for Stiles because then he’s coming, his cheeks flushed as he bites his bottom lip.

“That was —”

“Messy,” Derek says. He brings his hand up to his mouth and starts to lick at the come, the corners of his lips turning up in a smile as Stiles watches him with a heated gaze. When he’s finished licking his hand clean, Derek reaches for Stiles’ and runs his tongue through the come slowly congealing on Stiles’ palm. Stiles’ heartbeat ticks up, and Derek can feel his eyes on him as he sucks the mess off Stiles’ fingers one by one.

Derek,” Stiles breathes out when Derek is done, and then he’s kissing Derek, his tongue sliding inside Derek’s mouth; Derek gives back twice as good, wanting Stiles to taste what he tastes, wanting them to share everything like this.

Their soft cocks are hanging out of their pants, and there’s still a sticky mess between them. Stepping away from Derek after one more lingering kiss, Stiles grabs a box of tissues from the table at the end of the bed and hands some to Derek before he cleans himself up.

“You’ve got sex hair,” Stiles says, a crooked smile on his face as he touches Derek’s hair. “Everyone’s going to know what we’ve been doing.”

“Good.” Derek drops the crumpled tissues on the floor and jerks Stiles towards him, nosing at his neck before sucking a raw mark onto Stiles’ skin. “Let them.”

*

“If I tell you both something, are you going to get mad?” Stiles twirls the spaghetti around his fork and looks between Derek and Laura.

Derek can tell Stiles’ pulse is racing, but his scent only carries a hint of nerves, so he shrugs, brushing his foot against Stiles’ ankle. “I’m not gonna get mad,” he says, trying to be reassuring. He’s never quite sure if he’s good at it, but Stiles’ scent settles, so Derek guesses it at least works for Stiles.

“What is it?” Laura raises an eyebrow, her nails tapping the glass of soda by her plate.

“Scott made out with Allison and now wants to date her.”

Stiles says it so quickly, Derek almost doesn’t take it in at first, the words slowly making their way through his brain until he realises what’s been said. Putting his fork down, Derek clenches his fists, trying not to react in the worst way possible. Allison isn’t Kate. He knows that, but she’s still — she’s a hunter, and Scott knows their secret and —

“Derek. Derek, come back to us. Please.” Stiles’ hands are touching Derek’s shoulders, his fingers pressing against the tense muscles and Derek takes a deep breath, inhaling family and pack and — he shakes his head and looks up. The worry on Stiles and Laura’s faces hit him like a rock to his stomach and Derek feels sick.

“I’m sorry,” he says quietly, so quiet he’s not sure Stiles will hear him.

“Don’t be,” Stiles says, his fingers touching the nape of Derek’s neck, stroking gently as he shuffles his chair closer to him. “There’s nothing to be sorry about.”

“Breathe, Derek,” Laura says, reaching across the table and taking Derek’s hand in hers. “Breathe. We’re here.”

She’s not using her alpha voice, but it’s enough for Derek to know she’s there. He closes his eyes, breathing deeply and concentrating on their scents; trying to keep himself in the moment with them. Slowly, it works and he opens his eyes to see them both staring at him. Moisture pricks at his eyes and he blinks, nodding at Stiles and squeezing Laura’s hand before letting go. “I’m okay,” he says in a croaky voice. “I’m — I’m fine.”

“You’re really not.” Twining his arm through Derek’s, Stiles links their fingers together like he’s scared of he lets go, Derek might vanish. “I can — Scott knows how important the pack is, if you want me to tell him he can’t —”

“No. Don’t do that.” Derek forces a small smile on his face, and he knows both of them can tell it’s fake, but at least he’s trying.

“Don’t fake a smile for me, then,” Stiles says. “You know I don’t like it.”

Rubbing his free hand over his face, Derek shrugs. “I’m not — she’s an Argent. I don’t know how to deal with an Argent close to our pack again. But I know she’s not Kate.”

“She can’t come to the apartment,” Laura says. “Not yet, and maybe not ever. Any interaction with Derek is on his terms, and her father stays out of it. And tell Scott that he’s a wimp for not talking to us himself.”

Stiles makes an insulted noise. “Hey, that’s my bro. He’s not a wimp, he was just nervous. Plus now he’s actually going to have to think about dating Allison, and guess who will have to deal with that? Me, that’s who.”

The laugh Laura lets out breaks the tension still in the air; Derek tugs at Stiles’ arm, saying “can I have this back so I can eat?”, and suddenly it’s okay. They discussed the Argents and the world didn’t collapse; Derek considers this progress.

*

Three weeks before Christmas, Derek comes home to find Laura sitting on the couch, staring into space, an overwhelming scent of sadness filling the room. Cautiously, Derek approaches her, perching on the edge of the cushion. She hasn’t smelt like this since the nightmares stopped and it scares Derek.

“What’s happened?” he asks, preemptively digging his fingers into his thighs, staring at the abstract print on the wall above the television.

“The letter,” she replies, her voice rough as she gestures to a piece of paper on the table.

Sighing, Derek reaches for it, and settles back on the couch. As he scans the letter, he understands why Laura’s suffocating in sadness; it’s from the county, telling them that the remains of their old house is to be demolished. Giving into instinct, Derek drops the letter on the floor and moves closer to Laura; when he touches her arm, she crumples in on herself, bending over, her body racked with sobs.

Derek feels utterly lost as she cries; all he can do is rub circles against her back like he remembers their mom doing to them after the full moon. Her breathing is ragged as she tries to get herself under control, and Derek still can’t form words; the idea of the house being torn down making the wolf inside him claw and whine. “Want to go for a run?” he says eventually, the words sounding harsh in the darkness of the room.

Raising her head, Laura nods, her skin red and blotchy. “I want to shift,” she says. “Fully.”

“Okay,” Derek says quietly, trying not to put any pressure on her; Laura hasn’t shifted fully since Derek brought her back, and he’s been waiting for her to want to do it again. “Pack a bag.”

They drive out to the preserve, Derek shrugging his jacket off and leaving it on the seat. Rolling his neck, Derek lets the shift come over him, and he heads into woods, swiping his claws on the trees as he goes, like he used to as a pup. Reaching a familiar space, he jumps up onto a branch and flips himself down, enjoying the strain in his muscles as he flings himself about. Breathing in the different scents of the preserve, Derek listens for Laura to join him — the padding of her paws as she makes her way through the trees.

She pauses just below the tree Derek is perched on and he takes his chance, jumping down onto her with a laugh. Growling in a familiar way, Laura bats her paws at him as they roll on the floor, her claws occasionally catching the bare skin of Derek’s arms, but it’s not spiteful, and Derek will heal eventually. She’s strong in this form, like their mom had been, and it’s not long before Derek is on his back, baring his throat to her. Laura noses at his skin before huffing and climbing off him.

“Yeah, you’re the alpha,” Derek mutters, getting to his feet, and scratching Laura’s flank. “You’ve still got leaves in your fur.”

Snarling at him, Laura bares her teeth and starts to run; a black blur between the trees that Derek can’t hope to catch up with. He stays upright and takes off through the woods, not following Laura, but not going far enough to lose her scent either. Derek runs as fast as he can, circling back through the trees and occasionally getting distracted by small animals that he gives in to his urges to chase.

Stopping to get his breath back, Derek bends over, resting his clawed hands against his knees and breathing heavily. He’s drenched with sweat and the scratches Laura inflicted are only just starting to heal. Sitting at the base of the tree, he keeps an ear out for Laura; he can hear the crunch of the leaves as she runs, and when she howls, he returns it, letting her know she’s not alone.

Eventually, Laura comes trotting back to him, her fur matted with mud, and her tongue hanging out of her mouth. She butts her muzzle against Derek’s leg and he sits on the floor, wrapping his arms around her, burying his face in her fur.

“I’m sorry,” he says around the lump in his throat. “I’m sorry.”

*

“How long did they give you?” John asks over dinner the next night, spooning pasta onto plates.

“We’ve got until the end of January,” Laura replies, gripping her glass of wine tightly. “I don’t know where to begin. Having strangers pull down the house seems wrong, but it’s too big of a job for Derek and I to do alone.”

“If you want, I can recommend you some people.” John passes a plate to Derek. “Billy at the hardware store has a brother who could help you out.”

“I’d like that.”

Stiles takes a plate from his dad and reaches for the sauce Derek made, pouring it over the pasta. “Do you want to rebuild?”

Derek shakes his head, taking the salad bowl from John. “No. The land is still ours, but living there would be — I can’t do it.” He spears a slice of tomato with his fork and chews on it; Stiles knocking their shoulders together in silent apology.

“Besides,” Laura says with a smirk. “Derek might end up living in Davis for a while.”

His face flushing, Derek looks down at his plate, avoiding John’s eyes on him. Stiles slides a hand under the table and rests it on Derek’s thigh. “Thanks, Laura,” Stiles snarks. “Not like we’ve been waiting to discuss this or anything.”

John clears his throat and lets his fork clink against his plate. “I think we can talk about this later.”

“If we’re bringing up things people don’t want to talk about, how about we talk about when Laura’s going to bite Isaac?” Derek snipes, lifting his head and narrowing his eyes at Laura.

“Hey.” Laura throws a piece of bread at Derek, attempting to kick him under the table. “I said I’ll do it in the new year. He needs to be prepared — I can’t have a new beta freaking out at a full moon, especially not with Argents living here again.”

“Okay,” John says calmly, raising a hand. “How about we all stop talking about high pressure subjects before there ends up being claws at the dinner table.”

Stiles snorts as he takes a swig of his soda. “Claws at the dinner table? Really, dad?”

“You, be quiet. We still have to talk about how your boyfriend is apparently moving to Davis with you.”

“It’s not a done deal,” Stiles exclaims, his hand squeezing Derek’s thigh. “We were just thinking about it.”

“You need to work on that tell you have when you lie,” John says, pointing at Stiles with his fork.

“I don’t have a tell.” Turning to Derek, Stiles makes a face. “Do I have a tell?”

“I don’t know, if you lie, I can hear your heart skip.”

“What if my heart skips for a different reason?” Stiles points out with a small smile, his hand creeping up Derek’s leg, fingers playing with the inseam of Derek’s jeans.

“I —” Derek clamps his hand around Stiles’ wrist, stopping him from going any further. “I don’t think that’s something we should talk about when your father is in the room.” He lets go of Stiles’ wrist and watches Stiles’ cheeks turn red. Stroking a finger across the back of Stiles’ hand, Derek shakes his head. “I was going to talk to you about it,” he says to John. “There’s — nothing’s been confirmed yet, but if Stiles doesn’t think I’d be in the way, then I would like to go with him.”

“And what about Laura?”

“I’d stay here,” Laura says, swallowing her mouthful of pasta. “It’s home, and by then Isaac will be part of the pack, maybe someone else.”

“What?” Derek stares at her, his heart racing. “Who else? Why can’t you talk to me about this?”

“Because I haven’t decided yet.”

“If you want to let someone else in, it’s a pack decision.”

“And it will be.”

Stiles touches Derek’s shoulder and leans in; Derek turns his head slightly, enough so he can inhale Stiles’ scent, letting it settle him. “Who is it?” he asks, rubbing his cheek against Stiles’ hair.

“Erica Reyes. And her boyfriend as well, if he wants it.”

Snorting, Stiles shakes his head, his hair brushing against Derek’s mouth. “Are you planning on biting all of my friends?”

“Smartass,” Laura says. “I can’t control who I think will be good candidates for the bite. Isaac deserves a new start, deserves to feel strong and have family around him again. Erica will feel powerful, with the right guidance; plus I’m sick of being surrounded by guys. I need some lady wolf time.”

“To exchange manicure tips when it comes to your pretty little claws?”

“Don’t be an ass, Stiles.”

“It’s funny that you think saying that will stop me,” Stiles says with a smirk. “Hasn’t worked yet.”

“It worries me that you’re legally an adult.”

“That, we can agree on,” John says, putting his glass down and ignoring Stiles’ outraged gasp. “Are we all finished? Derek, Stiles, you’re on clean up.”

Derek ignores the grumbling coming from Stiles, and starts to pick up the dishes, carrying them over to the counter. Dropping the plastic salad bowl in the sink, Stiles leans against the fridge, his arms folded over his chest.

“What is it?”

“Nothing. I just — you do want to come to Davis with me, right?” There’s an air of vulnerability in Stiles’ tone that makes Derek turn around from the sink.

“Where did that come from?” he asks, touching Stiles’ waist. “I do, you know I do.”

“You’re not worried that we won’t —”

“Hey,” Derek interrupts, resting his hands on Stiles’ hips and pulling him close. “Think of everything we’ve gone through, even only in the last few months.”

“What if we’re fine when dealing with all that stuff, but we argue over who finishes the cereal?”

“We don’t eat the same kinds of cereal, Stiles.”

“But what if —”

“Stop.” Pressing a finger against Stiles’ open mouth, Derek locks eyes with him, not sure how to say what he wants to say. “You — we work. We worked before we ever got together. When we were kids, we worked; when me and Laura lived here after the fire we worked; even over Skype, we worked. There’s no situation in which we won’t be okay. I love you. That’s not changing.”

Taking his finger away from Stiles’ mouth, Derek leans in and kisses him, achingly soft because he’s the most precious thing in Derek’s life, and Derek doesn’t know how else to do this. There’s no part of him that doesn’t want to be with Stiles; Derek can’t see a point in his life where he won’t want Stiles with him, so for Stiles to think he doesn’t want to come to Davis with him — Derek can’t let him believe that.

When they pull apart Stiles’ eyes are wet and Derek doesn’t say a word, just kisses Stiles’ forehead and wraps his arms around him, holding him close and listening to the steady thud of Stiles’ heart.

*

One week into the new year, Derek finds himself standing at the edge of the treeline, looking at the old house. Laura’s gripping his hand so tightly, Derek isn’t sure he won’t have some broken bones after this, but he’s not going to complain because he knows exactly what it is Laura’s feeling. Stiles is on his other side, his fingers threading through Derek’s hair, occasionally pressing his lips against Derek’s cheek; Stiles’ touches are keeping Derek calm, stopping him from growling at the men tearing down the porch he built with his dad. John’s at Laura’s other side, his hands in his jacket pockets as he surveys the work being done.

There’s a physical ache in Derek’s gut as he watches the charred pieces of his childhood being thrown into skips. If he closes his eyes, he can still see his mom in the living room chasing after his youngest cousin; there’s his dad lifting him up onto the kitchen counter to show him what to add to the sauce for dinner; Uncle Peter curled up with Aunt Celia on the window seat. They’re all so painfully alive in his head that, even now, he can’t quite believe they’re gone.

When the walls start coming down, Derek looks away, buries his face against Stiles’ shoulder and lets himself drown in the comfort Stiles is offering. He can feel Laura’s grip loosen, and then she’s stroking a hand against his back, and he can hear the crashing as the house gets torn down.

Derek doesn’t look up again until the noise stops. There’s a wide, empty, space where the house used to be. There’s debris left over that will be cleared away eventually, but the house — the house is gone, and Derek feels a weight off his shoulders that he didn’t know he was carrying.

“Are — are you okay?” Stiles asks, licking his lips nervously as he watches Derek.

“I think so.” Taking Stiles’ hand, Derek turns to see Laura staring at the space left behind. “Laura?”

“Yeah,” she says, her voice low and slightly strained. “I’m okay. I am. Can we — I don’t want to be here anymore.”

“C’mon, kid,” John says, clapping a hand on Laura’s shoulder and steering her back in the direction of the cars. “There’s a drink at the house with your name on it.”

“I can’t get drunk,” Laura laughs, a little lighter than Derek expected.

“Doesn’t mean you can’t have a drink.”

Their voices fade away as they walk off, and then Derek and Stiles are left alone. “Come home with me,” Derek says in an almost whisper. “Please.”

Stepping closer, Stiles presses his lips against the corner of Derek’s mouth. “Always.”