When Stiles came home from the grocery store, there was a wolf in his living room. A really big wolf with curly brown fur like he’d never seen before, even in pictures. The animal was curled up on his couch, but as soon as Stiles’s bags slipped out of his shocked fingers to spill all over the floor, the wolf sprang up to stand on the couch instead, front feet braced on the back of it and long pink tongue lolling out of its mouth.
“What the actual fuck,” Stiles said, softly but with feeling.
He was just about to slowly back away and then start running when the wolf yipped at him. That didn’t actually make him feel much safer about the gigantic predator in his home, but it did stop him from moving. Then, quite abruptly, the wolf was gone. In its place, there was a naked Scott, with his modesty blessedly preserved by the upright back of the couch.
“Stiles!” he said brightly.
“What the fuck?” Stiles reiterated, more forcefully as the initial burst of adrenaline started fading, leaving him a little shaky and hyped up but eminently relieved that he wasn’t gonna get eaten. “Since when the fuck can you do a full shift? And Scott, dude, what in the name of all that is holy made you think it was a good idea to alert to me that development by scaring the ever-loving shit out of me?”
Scott looked so innocently surprised, like it hadn’t even occurred to him that this might not be the best way to approach his anxiety-prone best friend.
“Oh,” he said. “Sorry, man. I was just really excited. I wanted to show you right away, while I still could.”
“What do you mean by that?” Stiles asked, finally stooping down to scoop up the loaf of bread, three bananas, two boxes of poptarts, and seven boxes of microwavable mac ‘n cheese that comprised his menu for the week. “While you still can? I didn’t even know it would ever be possible for you to do the whole wolf thing. I thought Derek said it was a family-specific ability.”
“It is!” Scott told him. “Most of the time, it’s just a few bloodlines that are still pure enough to let loose their inner wolf, or whatever. Almost all of the time, actually.”
“So why am I gonna need a lint roller to get all your new fur off my couch?” Stiles asked.
“Dude, it’s a solar eclipse!” Scott said, as if that meant anything at all in this context.
Stiles shrugged as best he could with his arms full of packaged foods to indicate his confusion, and then headed toward the kitchen to unload. He heard Scott scrambling around and the rustle of fabric behind him and was very grateful that his bud was at least taking the time to put pants on before following him. He was halfway through arranging the mac ‘n cheese boxes to his satisfaction when Scott came skidding into the room, still barefoot and bare-chested and apparently very impatient that Stiles wasn’t getting it.
“A full solar eclipse, Stiles!” he said, more emphatically this time. “What does that mean?”
“That the sun is being eclipsed,” Stiles said dutifully.
“Yes, and by what?” Scott prompted.
“By the— Wait, are you saying the moon itself gave you the full wolf shift just by being in the path of the sun?” Stiles demanded, abandoning his bananas to give Scott an incredulous look.
“Only temporarily,” Scott said, though that didn’t seem to dampen his spirits much. “I don’t know how the hell it works; all that weird moon magic stuff is way beyond me. But Derek showed up at my house an hour or two ago to tell me this would happen and talk me through the shift itself and how to do it. He went to see Isaac too. Apparently, during a solar eclipse, all werewolves can...I don’t know, get really in touch with their inner wolves and let them out like he can.”
“The eclipse isn’t for, like, another forty minutes or something,” Stiles said, checking his watch to make sure his grocery run hadn’t taken much longer than he’d thought.
“Full occlusion isn’t,” Scott said. “But it’s already started, technically! When it gets closer to full coverage, we’re all gonna run together as a pack.”
“A real wolf pack,” Stiles said, a little bit awed by the idea. “Dude, that’s fucking cool as shit.”
“I know, right?” Scott’s smile was infectious now that Stiles knew what it was for. “I still gotta go tell Liam. I just wanted to show you first.”
Without warning—which, rude—Scott stripped off his sweatpants and was replaced by the wolf again. In this form, he came up to waist-height at the shoulders. If he stood on his back legs, he would probably stand taller than Stiles, which was a pretty intimidating image. But instead of doing that, Scott just headbutted Stiles in the chest and licked his hand with that sandpaper-rough tongue.
Stiles laughed and ran his fingers through Scott’s fur, scratching behind his ears and under his chin, feeling how soft and sleek he was.
“Ah man, this is so weird,” he chuckled. “Wish you could do this all the time. You’re so much cuddlier this way, and it’s not weird to say that to your bro when he’s a giant puppy.”
Scott yipped at him again, which Stiles took as agreement. Then he snatched up his own sweats in his mouth and loped out of the kitchen, through the living room, and right out the front door that Stiles had left open in his initial surprise. Stiles watched him go feeling oddly bereft.
He put the rest of his groceries away before pulling out his phone. Derek answered on the third ring.
“Why didn’t you tell me about the eclipse thing?” Stiles asked immediately.
“I figured you’d be Scott’s first stop,” Derek said, unconcerned. “Didn’t want to ruin the surprise.”
“That surprise left me with three bruised bananas, thank you very much.”
“I’m...sorry?” Derek said, sounding very confused but appropriately contrite.
“If you guys are all gonna run around and literally howl at the moon, I wanna be there,” Stiles said. “Someone with opposable thumbs needs to be present to hold the camera, after all. This momentous occasion needs to be properly documented.”
He could practically hear Derek rolling his eyes. “I’ll text you the coordinates for where we’re meeting up. You know you’ll get left behind pretty quick, right? They’ll all be really high energy and eager to run.”
“Just them?” Stiles asked. “Not you too?”
“I’m used to this form, remember?” Derek said. “I run like this all the time.”
Stiles hummed. “Scott let me pet him,” he said idly. “Very soft.”
“So,” Stiles said, drawing it out obnoxiously. “How come you never let me pet you? Don’t you like ear scratches and belly rubs?”
Derek sounded highly offended when he said, “Stiles, I’m not a dog!”
“Majestic wolves can like belly rubs too!” Stiles protested. “I’m just saying. I bet Isaac and Liam will let me pet them later too. You’ll be the only one not getting any love.”
“Maybe I don’t want love,” Derek said archly.
Stiles smirked, leaning back against his kitchen counter and crossing his ankles. “Not even from me?”
The silence on the line was very gratifying and his smirk grew. Calling Derek out like that was a gamble, honestly, but Stiles had been almost sure that there was something there, between them. Now he was certain. For a minute, though, he thought that he had pushed a bit too far too soon, that Derek might deny it or even just hang up. Then—
“Well. Maybe from you.”
The admission was quiet, like he wasn’t sure he even wanted Stiles to hear it. But he did hear it and it sent his heart into a series of palpitations that he shouldn’t have enjoyed as much as he did. The smirk turned into a genuine smile.
“I’ll text you the coordinates.”
Derek hung up without a goodbye, but Stiles didn’t mind. He’d already gotten more out of the guy than he’d expected to today.
There was only a half hour until the eclipse reached its peak, so Stiles hurried upstairs to change into something more suited to running around in the woods and also to grab the nice camera he only used on special occasions. By the time he came back downstairs, he had two text messages from Derek.
[drive to 38.8375° N, 120.8958° W and walk east, we’ll meet you there.]
[you can pet me. but call me a good boy and i bite your hand off.]