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Survival of the Species

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Survival of the Species

It’s the last game of the season, Stiles is warming the bench like the best of them, they’re ahead by ten points, and the crowd is going nuts.

Stiles, though, is doing his very best not to throw up. Or pass out.

His vision is swimming, he’s overheating, he can’t catch his breath, and his skin feels dry and tight, like he’s itching to burst out of it.

He’s basically just counting down the minutes in the game, desperate to get out of there, shower, get home, change into pajamas, and crawl into bed, and that’s when everything goes wrong.

Greenberg takes nasty fall, something snaps, Coach screams in fury, and Greenberg is taken away in an ambulance. And Stiles is his replacement.

Everything is spinning. It’s dark, the field lit up with flood lights, and his head is throbbing. Stiles does his very best to stand steadily, even though he sort of just wants to fall over, and Scott nudges against his shoulder. Stiles almost topples over.

“Dude,” Scott says, frowning. “You okay?”

“Sick,” Stiles grunts, eyes burning. “I think.”

“Just stay on your feet til the end of the game,” Scott says. “Five more minutes. Then we’ll be champions!”

Stiles nods in agreement. The game starts. He runs forward three steps, the world tips out from under him, and he’s out before his head hits the ground.

*

“Ow,” Stiles mumbles, when he comes to. He opens his eyes, squinting against the flood lights, and sees a ring of concerned teammates looking down at him.

“Stiles,” Scott says, falling to his knees, tugging Stiles’ helmet off. “Are you okay? You smell—” His eyes flash gold and he blinks hard to hide it.

“Clear out!” Coach Finstock shouts. “Back up. Give him space!”

He shoves his way through the players, kneels on Stiles’ other side, and says, “What the fuck, Bilinski?”

“Uh, I’m okay, Coach,” Stiles says, trying to sit up. “Just got dizzy, is all.”

“You passed out,” he snaps. “That means automatic trip to the ER. And without you, we don’t have enough players – we’ll have to forfeit the game.”

Stiles’ eyes go wide. “Coach, no. I’m okay! I didn’t pass out, I just fell. Right?”

He looks around wildly and the rest of the team nods slowly, going along with it, except Scott, who’s still staring fixedly at the ground, breathing hard.

“It’s just the flu, I think,” Stiles says, because he’s pretty sure that’s all it could be. “I’m fine. We’ve got two minutes left. I’m good. Help me up.”

“You sure?” Coach asks hopefully, clearly reluctant to forfeit the game.

“All he’s got to do is stand on the field,” Jackson says, grabbing Stiles by the wrist and hauling him up. “We’ll handle the rest.”

Stiles flashes Jackson a shaky, grateful grin and Jackson’s eyes flash too, just for a moment, before he looks away.

“Okay,” Coach Finstock says. “Okay. Bilinski. Stay on your feet. Everyone else – win this game. For Greenberg!”

“For Greenberg!” they shout, which is bullshit, in Stiles’ opinion, but whatever. All that guy did was break a leg. Stiles is pretty sure breaking a leg hurt way less than feeling like his skin was going to burst.

They win the game – Scott and Jackson dominate on the field, Stiles stays on his feet and clutches his Crosse and doesn’t get tackled, everyone cheers, and they’re official state champions.

Stiles would care more, if he didn’t feel like he was dying.

*

He doesn’t exactly remember making it home, but he apparently let Scott drive his jeep, which is serious business.

He showers, crawls into bed without bothering with pajamas, and passes out, feeling chilled despite his fever.

Stiles’ dreams are vivid and strange, filled with heat, the sensation of hands and mouths on his body, pressing bruises into his skin, and he wakes with a jolt, hours later. He’s hot, wet and sticky with sweat, and for a moment, he can’t figure out what woke him.

His phone rings again, and he rolls over, reaching for it blindly.

It’s the middle of the night.

“Hello?” he says, voice muffled, soft around the edges. His throat is raw and painful.

“Scott says something’s wrong with you.”

Stiles squints at his phone. “Derek?” he asks. “It’s – I’m. Three AM, Derek.”

“You sound like shit.”

“Flu. It’s a thing. Human.” The phone starts slipping from his fingers.

“Tell me what’s wrong. It’s a – Scott thinks it might be a spell.”

Stiles hesitates. Is it a spell? It feel like death, but like not magical. He’s hot, feverish, sweaty, sticky – he frowns. His sheets are soaked right through.

He smacks his lips together, trying to focus, and says, “Hot. Fever, I think. Sweaty. Sticky. Tired.” He frowns. “Weird dreams? My skin’s – splitting. Too tight. It’s just… the flu.”

“Are you sure? We should—”

“Humans get sick, sourwolf.” He lets the phone slip from his limp fingers and falls asleep.

*

He wakes up burning hot, achingly hard, and craving something he can’t define. He just knows he needs it, needs it to live, if he doesn’t get it, he’ll lose his mind – and his mind is already quite lost to fever and delirium.

Stumbling out of bed, Stiles pulls some pajama pants up over his hips, hissing when his hand brushes against where he’s achingly hard. He tugs a stretched out t-shirt over his head and staggers down the stairs. His lips are cracked, his mouth dry, he’s thirsty, and he’s starting to worry that maybe this is supernatural after all.

He throws open his front door and freezes, because Scott is standing there holding a thermos, about to knock.

“Dude,” he says. “You look like hell. I brought you soup!”

Stiles doesn’t want soup, but he can’t stop staring at Scott’s neck – he’s never noticed how attractive such an innocent bit of skin can be. But he’s suddenly aching to press his face right there, to breathe him in, and he stumbles closer.

“Scott,” he mumbles, and Scott yelps, staggering back, dropping the thermos.

“Wait,” he says. “Stiles, just – just, there’s something –” and his voice is dropping lower, practically a growl. His eyes flash, his teeth sharpen, and, yes, this is what Stiles needs.

He collapses against Scott’s chest, moaning at the contact, and pressing his face into Scott’s throat, where it’s warm and he can breathe him in with every inhale.

“Scott,” he pants. Scott is holding unnaturally still, not even breathing. “Scott, I think — I think I’m a vampire.”

Because he needs — he doesn’t know what he needs – but he bites down on Scott’s neck with blunt, human teeth, and keens a little.

“Fuck,” Scott moans. “Shit, fuck, what the fuck.” His hands are claws when he tears at Stiles’ shirt, yanking him back. “Stiles. Fuck. Okay. Just – give me a second. You smell – shit, you smell amazing.”

Scott closes his eyes – they’re glowing gold – and Stiles sways towards him, needing the contact.

“Just, just touch me,” he mumbles, reaching out for Scott. “I need – I need—”

“Deaton.”

Stiles jerks away, nose wrinkling, because that is so definitely not what he needs, thank you very much.

But Scott is herding Stiles towards his Jeep. He gets Stiles inside, buckles him up, and then he’s too far away and Stiles can’t feel him and everything goes topsy turvey, sideways, painful again, and he’s so confused and feverish and aching, that he starts to cry.

“Hey, hey,” Scott says, when he’s back with the keys and climbing into the driver’s seat. “It’s fine. We’ll get you fixed right up. I’m calling Derek. Hold on.”

“Derek,” Stiles echoes, humming a little. Derek will know what to do.

*

They get to Deaton’s before Derek does, and Deaton is busy trying to trim the nails of a particularly uncooperative cat. He impatiently directs them to the room in the back, and Scott helps Stiles manage the halls and doorways.

He’s growling a little under his breath, his fingers are sprouting claws. Stiles can’t remember the last time he saw Scott so close to losing control.

“What’s wrong?” he pants, as he paces the room. He had tried to sit on the table or a chair, but he feels like he’s going to vibrate out of his skin. He’s burning up from the inside out.

“Nothing,” Scott says quickly, watching him, eyes sharp. His voice hisses a little around his fangs. “I just – you smell good.”

Stiles blinks at him but it’s too hard to focus, and then Deaton is there, Scott’s doing his best to explain what’s wrong, and Stiles is pacing, pacing, pacing.

He can’t think, he can’t focus, all he knows is that he wants – wants – he’s dying of thirst.

“I’m a vampire,” he mutters, licking his lips, looking around restlessly.

“No,” Deaton says, stepping in front of him. Stiles grimaces but holds himself still as Deaton shines a light into each of his eyes, frowning, before shoving a thermometer into his mouth.

“This better not have been up a dog’s butt,” he mumbles, and Deaton doesn’t bother confirming or denying it.

“Fever,” he says, after the thermometer beeps. “I’d say it was just a human bug, except for the way you’re reacting, Scott. Describe that for me.”

Scott shifts uncomfortably, eyes fixed on the wall over Stiles’ head, and he says, “Yeah, uh. He smells like… like… I just want. Him. I’m sorry, Stiles! I just, I can’t — it must be a spell, right? Jackson reacted, too. Uh. Broke his legs after I found him…” Scott grimaces. “Jerking off in Stiles’ backyard while he slept?”

“What.”

Stiles stares at him. Deaton hums and makes a note. And then the door opens and Derek is there and that’s all that matters.

He smells like sunshine, like sugar, like the sky just before it rains, like Christmas, like everything good, all rolled into one. It’s overwhelming and Stiles whines as he breathes it in, staggering to Derek on legs that tremble.

“Derek,” he says, twisting his fingers into Derek’s t-shirt. “I need – I need –”

But he doesn’t know what he needs until Derek growls, low, jerking him hard against his chest, burying his nose against the side of Stiles’ neck and breathing him in, every exhale a brush of heat against his throat.

Derek’s chest is rumbling and Stiles keeps breathing, “Please, please, please,” while tugging at his shirt and he doesn’t know what’s happening, but he hurts and he’s hard and all he knows is that Derek, somehow, can fix it.

“Dude,” Scott says, taking his arm, tugging him, trying to pull him away.

Derek snarls, snapping his teeth, eyes flashing red, as he jerks Stiles away from Scott’s hand.

“It’s a spell, right?” Scott asks, watching them warily.

“No, I don’t believe so,” Deaton tells him, frowning. “A spell, we might be able to fix. I’m afraid Stiles is…” he hesitates, sounding a little uncertain. “An omega.”

The effect is instant – Derek shoves him away hard and Stiles staggers, trips over his own feet, and falls, landing on his hands and knees, breath knocked out of him.

“No,” Derek says, cold and final.

“Derek. Calm down. I’m sure we can figure this out, if you just –” Deaton begins, but Derek growls, shaking his head.

“Fix it,” he snaps, backing away from Stiles, who can do little more than blink up at him, unable to process the rejection.

“You know that’s not how it works,” Deaton says. “Don’t you? I’d imagine your mother never told you much about omegas, given the strength of your pack, the stability. She may not have thought it was a lesson you needed to know. But perhaps Peter—”

No,” Derek snarls.

Deaton starts to explain, saying, “I can temporarily control symptoms, give you both time to come to terms—”

But Derek slams out of the room before he finishes, and Stiles slumps to the floor, hiding his face in both hands, and moaning, “I think I’m dying.” Nothing makes sense – and now Derek has left him.

“No, Mr. Stilinski,” Deaton says grimly, rooting around in his special cupboard of herbs and remedies. “I’m afraid not. You’re merely suffering from a biological imperative to bear your alpha’s children and strengthen the pack.”

Stiles considers that for a moment, as best he can with his mind a hazy mess, and then he says quietly, “I think that might be worse.”

“So, so much worse,” Scott agrees.

*

Deaton grounds up a noxious mixture of herbs, crams the powder into capsules, and tells Stiles to take one each day until the sickness fades, which should be in less than a week. He promises to look for a more long-term solution, because apparently this condition is a chronic one.

The relief isn’t instant, but the capsules do help, soothing some of the fever and clearing his mind just enough for Stiles to get progressively angry.

He doesn’t know what the hell is happening to him, and Deaton, as usual, is low on details. Apparently omegas are rare, he doesn’t know much of anything, and perhaps he ought to ask Derek for more details.

Judging by how red Deaton’s cheeks had gone during the discussion, Stiles is pretty sure Deaton knows more than he’s willing to say, which just adds to his fury.

And Derek refuses to answer his phone or return his text messages, and as soon as Stiles stops overheating and suffering fever-induced hallucinations and inopportune erections, Stiles intends to seek him out and force some answers from him.

For now, all he is capable of is drinking copious amounts of water, staying in bed, and, uh. Dealing with his erection problem on his own.

His skin still crawls with a strange restlessness, his body thirsting for something he doesn’t understand, but it’s muted, less urgent, thanks to Deaton’s capsules.

Three days later, when the fever finally breaks, Stiles drags his wrecked body into the shower, washes away the stickiness he hadn’t seemed able to get rid of, and then dresses and goes looking for Derek.

His newly built house in the Preserve is empty, and Stiles is pretty certain Derek heard him coming and headed for the hills, so he decides to hang around and wait him out.

His eyes narrow dangerously when he tries to slip the key he’d sneakily made into the lock and it no longer fits.

“You changed the locks?!” he shouts, his voice echoing into the void of trees, forest, and silence. “C’mon!”

There’s no answer, and more determined than ever to wait for Derek to come crawling back, Stiles drops down onto the steps to wait.

He waits and waits and waits some more, until his phone battery is dead and the sun has started to set. It gets dark and chilly, but he doesn’t give in, stretching out on the porch instead, swinging one foot angrily against the side of the house.

He falls asleep some time before midnight.

*

Stile wakes up just as Derek is trying to carefully, quietly step over his prone body, key already in the lock, like he meant to just leave him there.

Growling and reaching out blindly, Stiles manages to wrap both hands around Derek’s ankle, and he clings.

“No,” he snaps, as Derek staggers a little, trying to shake him off. “You’re not leaving without explaining what the hell is wrong with me, Derek. This isn’t fair.”

Derek manages to shake him loose and backs carefully out of range of Stiles’ flailing hands and feet as he pushes himself up off the porch. When Stiles finally has his balance, he fixes Derek with his angriest, most self-righteous glare, and puts both hands on his hips.

Looking a little pale and a lot mutinous, Derek says, “You shouldn’t be here. It’s late.”

“Then maybe you should answer your goddamned phone,” Stiles snaps.

“Or you could take a hint and figure out that I don’t want to talk to you.”

Stiles’ eyes narrow dangerously and he says, “Fine. You don’t want to talk about it, fine. I’ll figure this out on my own. I mean, it’s not like it’s a big deal or anything, I’ve just suddenly developed the inclination to bear my alpha’s children to strengthen the pack, whatever that means.” Sarcasm is sharp on his tongue and maybe his eyes are burning with anger and frustration, but Stiles doesn’t care.

“Stiles,” Derek says, but Stiles is too angry to listen to him now.

“I’m sure it’s Googleable. Or, fuck, maybe I’ll give Peter a call, and—”

No,” Derek snarls, and then he’s suddenly in Stiles’ face, all the careful distance between them gone as Derek pins him against the porch railing, his eyes blazing red, his lips pulled back over sharp teeth. His hands are clawed where they dig into Stiles’ shoulders, nearly breaking the skin, and even as Stiles feels a terror-inspired rush of adrenaline, he also wants to push back against him and purr.

“Peter doesn’t get to go anywhere near you,” Derek spits. “Don’t you fucking dare call him, or I’ll – I’ll –”

Stiles swallows his fear and adrenaline and says quietly, “You’ll what, big guy? You don’t wanna talk about it, I’ve gotta find someone who’ll help me.”

Derek shoves away from him, breathing hard and glaring. “Stay away from me,” he says, seeming a bit more control. “The more you’re near me, the worse it’ll get.”

He turns to go inside and Stiles grabs his arm. Derek tenses up but doesn’t pull away or turn to look at him.

“Derek,” Stiles says quietly. “Please. I’m kind of freaking out here.”

For a moment, he thinks Derek isn’t going to answer. And then Derek pulls away carefully and says, “You don’t have to be afraid of me. I’m not going to do anything.”

And then he shoves his way inside, closing the door on Stiles’ face, and Stiles wraps his arms around himself and says, “That’s kinda what I’m afraid of.”

*

He Googles it and gets a shit load of porn he never asked for.

He calls Scott, and though Scott answers on the first ring, he has nothing new to report, and refuses to even come over to help distract Stiles from his anxiety with video games.

“Deaton says I should stay away, for now,” he says, apologetic. “Apparently whatever’s wrong with you is going to fuck with my instincts? He was pretty vague, but said I might accidentally hurt you. I can kinda see it, when I saw you last, I sort of wanted to…” he trails off awkwardly and then finishes with, “Pretty much eat you up, like the big bad wolf. It was weird.”

Stiles flops back on his bed. He still feels like his body doesn’t quite belong to him anymore, and since everything happened with the Nogitsune, it’s not an unfamiliar feeling.

But it makes his throat close up with panic.

“Does Deaton know how to fix it yet?” he asks, voice cracking a little.

“No. But it’s going to be okay. We won’t let anything happen to you.”

Stiles isn’t sure it’s going to be okay at all.

Eventually, Scott has to go to hang out with Kira, and Stiles lays on his bed for a while longer, staring at the ceiling and trying to keep his breathing nice and even. Panic attacks won’t help, and he does feel so much better than he had before.

Finally, unable to lie still any longer, he gets up, restless and agitated.

There’s only one place he can think of to go for answers. He just hopes that for once, Chris Argent will feel inclined to give them.

*

“You look like shit,” Argent says, opening his apartment door and frowning. He glances down the hall like he expects Stiles to have come with someone else.

“People keep telling me that,” Stiles says.

“What are you doing here?”

Stiles shifts on the balls of his feet, tries to think of a nice, easy way to start this conversation, and ends up blurting, “Do you know what an omega is?”

Argent’s eyes narrow a little. “A wolf without a Pack. Dangerous. Prone to going feral.”

Stiles shakes his head. “Not – not in that context.” He sucks in a breath and says, “The kind that’s supposed to, uh. Bear the alpha’s children.”

Argent has him by the arm, jerking him into the apartment, and slamming the door, all in the space of a heartbeat or two. He shoves the deadbolt home and then spins to face Stiles.

“Explain,” he snaps.

“I was hoping you could.” Stiles lifts his hands helplessly. “No one’ll tell me anything. All I know is that I got sick – fever, weird dreams, hallucinations, other things. And then Deaton said, ‘hey, he’s an omega,’ except I’m not a wolf without a pack, I’m still a human – I think – and then Derek freaked out and he won’t tell me anything and won’t answer my calls or anything and Scott isn’t allowed to be near me and I don’t know what’s going on.”

Argent jerks his chin towards the couch in the living room. “Sit,” he says tersely, before heading to the kitchen. Dropping into the couch, Stiles feels a bit of his anxiety ease. Argent has to know something.

Argent comes back and grimly hands Stiles a gun.

“Uh. No offence or anything, but, what? I don’t think violence is the answer here.”

“Wolfsbane bullets,” Argent says, after Stiles gingerly takes the weapon. He sits in the armchair across the little coffee table, decked out with a doily, and it’s all so domestic, except for the fact Stiles is holding a gun.

“You know how to shoot?” Argent asks.

“My dad’s taken me to the range a few times,” he says. “But what the hell.”

“You need to be able to defend yourself.” Argent leans forward, grim and very serious. “Stiles, listen to me. Has anyone done anything to you that you didn’t want?”

“Uh.” Stiles blinks at him. “Derek made me patrol last week when I didn’t really want to, but he was trying to teach me something about poisonous mushrooms and –”

Argent grimaces. “Sexually.”

“Oh.” Blinking a few times, Stiles tries to parse that into something that makes sense, and then says, “Uhm, no. Sir. Nothing, uh. Sexual.”

“Good. Okay. You need to know that no matter what happens, you still have a choice. And if anyone –anyone-- tries to tell you otherwise, or touches you without your consent, you tell me, and I’ll deal with it. Until then, keep that.” He nods at the gun. “Sometimes they can’t control themselves, but that might slow them down enough for you to get away.”

“Uh, okay,” Stiles says, nodding a few times. “Right. Okay. So, do you mind telling me what the hell you’re talking about? Because I got a little lost back when you implied that I may possibly have been – uhm. You know.”

“Assaulted.”

“Right. Assaulted. And that I might have to shoot—”

“An omega is a very rare phenomenon that occurs when a pack is in danger of dying out,” Argent says, matter-of-factly. “It’s an instinct – an evolutionary trait that mainly lies dormant unless needed. It’s triggered in a pack member when the alpha of the pack is stable enough, when the pack is safe enough, that procreation is the next essential step in preserving the integrity of the pack. Basically, after nearly being destroyed, the Hale Pack is now stable enough that the omega trait has been triggered – leading to a biological imperative to mate and produce offspring.”

“Okay, but,” Stiles slowly, frowning. “That still makes no sense. Why would I be the one who… who has that trait? I’m a guy. I can’t—”

“You can,” Argent tells him, still so grim. “It’s the same evolutionary pathway that enables a human body to shift into a werewolf, and allows that same body to heal from nearly any injury. Really, when compared with those abilities, the ability for a male body, in times of great need, to produce children, isn’t entirely farfetched.”

“It feels farfetched to me!”

“Certain species are capable of reproducing asexually when there aren’t enough members of the opposite sex. Survival of the species.”

Stiles’ anxiety is back, and he’s doing his best to stay calm, to keep breathing, but he’s feeling a little off balance here. “So I’m an omega because Derek wants children,” he says, shrill. “There are girls! In the pack, even! Why would I be the one who got ‘triggered’?”

Argent shrugs. “It’s impossible to say. But the important thing is that you aren’t safe, Stiles. Not with any of them, but especially Derek. It will be instinct to them – they will mate with you whether you are willing or not, and with the nature of the omega trait, you won’t be in a position to consent anyway.”

“Deaton’s trying to fix it,” he says faintly. “He gave me some herbs that calmed the symptoms, but…”

“Until then, you must stay away from the pack.”

“What happens if he can’t fix it?” Stiles asks, eyes wide.

“Any wolf who catches your scent will go feral,” Argent tells him. “They won’t be able to help themselves. Keep yourself safe. If they hurt you, I’ll deal with it.”

*

And then, two days later, Stiles feels fine.

The fever is gone, his head is clear, his dick is back to normal teenaged levels of inopportune erections. And Scott comes over, warily, and declares that his weird smell is still there, but it’s faint and definitely not enough to convince Scott to lick him all over, or Jackson to jerk off in his back yard.

So Stiles goes back to school and compartmentalizes the shit out of his life and pretends everything is normal, waving off Deaton’s warnings that the symptoms will most likely return in a few weeks, and probably worse.

But Stiles is not an animal and he does not have heats, thank you very much. He has homework, and a sad attempt at maintaining a social life.

And as the weeks tick by, things are nearly normal again. He goes to school, he does his homework, he messes around with Scott, he makes sure his dad eats healthy food, he rolls his eyes as Derek continues to avoid him like he’s got some sort of plague – he doesn’t!

And it’s not all that strange that the rest of the pack keep their distance anyway. Sure, Scott and Stiles were ostensibly members of Derek’s pack – along with Jackson, Isaac, Boyd, and Erica – but Stiles thinks they’re sort of fringe members. Part of the pack, but reluctantly.

Which is just more reason why that whole omega thing was nonsense. If anybody was going to be bearing the alpha’s children, it would probably be Boyd. Derek loves that guy.

So Stiles chalks his symptoms up to the flu, buries himself firmly in denial, and carefully hides the gun Argent gave him in the bottom of his underwear drawer.

And then his father goes away for the weekend, off to a conference, and Peter Hale shows up, and everything goes to hell again.

It’s dusk on a Friday, and Stiles stops to gas up his Jeep on his way home from Scott’s. He’s on his way out of the station, a pack of Red Vines in hand, one dangling from his mouth, when suddenly there’s an undeniable presence looming behind him.

He assumes, naturally, that it’s Derek, and he feels an instant easing of the anxiety he’d been carrying around since Derek started avoiding him so completely.

It’s not Derek.

“This is interesting,” Peter drawls, stepping from the shadows like an overdone villain, and Stiles nearly trips over his own feet.

He can’t help the way his heartrate speeds up, but he tries to hide it. He takes an obnoxiously large bite of the Red Vine and says, “What, you, lurking like a giant creeper? No, I think that’s kinda cliché by this point.”

Peter ignores his sarcasm and steps closer, breathing in deeply, and Stiles grows more unsettled. “Derek didn’t mention anything about this. If I’d have known, I’d have come to visit so much sooner.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Stiles says, breezily stepping around him, heading for his jeep like he’s not afraid.

“I know what you are,” Peter says, smirk growing sharper, falling into step beside him. He’s much too close, and Stiles can’t help but speed up. “I can smell it.”

Stiles scowls. “I’m not anything,” he snaps. “And if I was something – which I’m not saying I am – than you certainly wouldn’t recognize the smell, because I’ve heard that whatever it is you’re implying is very rare, and you’ve probably never smelled it before, so you’re lying.”

Laughing softly, Peter draws a slow breath and says on his exhale, “You couldn’t imagine the things your scent is making me want to do to you.”

Stiles’ body locks in place, fear choking off his breath, and he spares half a moment to mourn the fact that his gun is under his underpants at home. Peter takes an extra step before turning to face him, dragging his clawed fingers up the side of Stiles’ neck and hissing, “And no one’s even marked you yet.”

He yelps and staggers backwards, dropping his package of Red Vines. “If you touch me, you’ll regret it,” he says, voice wavering a little despite his attempt at bravado.

“Oh, I doubt that,” Peter purrs, eyes flashing blue. “I doubt that very much, Stiles.”

His hand is still curled around the side of Stiles’ neck and his thumb strokes up along Stiles’ pulse point.

 

Stiles’ plan to kick Peter in the balls and make a run for his jeep is waylaid when Derek is suddenly there, growling so loudly, Stiles can feel it in the pit of his stomach.

He’s got one hand on Peter’s shoulder, digging in with claws and drawing rivers of blood, even as Peter laughs, and the other hand shoving firmly against Stiles’ chest.

“Go,” Derek growls. “Get out of here.”

Stiles can’t help stumbling back. “Were you following me?” he snaps. “Being creepy totally runs in your family, doesn’t it?”

Derek ignores him, seeming unable to stop sprouting fangs and fur, his eyes flashing red. “You don’t get to touch him,” he growls at Peter, shoving him up against the side of the gas station.

“He’s not even marked,” Peter mocks. “Do I really need to teach you the proper care and keeping of your omega?”

“I’m not Derek’s anything,” Stiles argues, and Derek turns and roars at him.

Go.”

So Stiles does, scrambling for his jeep, and before he gets in, Peter calls, laughing, “Be careful, Stiles. I’m not the only strange wolf in Beacon Hills these days, and I doubt the others have as much control as I do. Even I would have trouble if you were in heat.”

“In heat,” he sneers, indignant. “I don’t—”

“It will happen again,” Peter says. “And it will get worse. And soon, you’ll be as out of control as the rest of us.”

And Derek loses his shit and throws Peter across the parking lot, into the side of a dumpster, and containing this supernatural showdown is no longer Stiles’ concern, so he throws the jeep into gear and speeds out of the parking lot.

*

The first thing Stiles does when he gets home is pull Argent’s gun out of the drawer and carefully set it on his desk, in easy reach. He leaves it unloaded, though, wolfsbane bullets carefully lined up beside it.

The second thing he does is text Derek.

Warn me next time your psychotic uncle is in town, he writes. There’s no reply, and a few minutes later, he adds, Or at least get there before the bad touching.

It’s not even a full minute later when his bedroom window slides open and Derek slides through it, all casual, like he hasn’t been avoiding Stiles for weeks, like he hadn’t just been a psychotic ball of werewolf rage in public.

He runs his eyes critically over every inch of Stiles’ body, and Stiles isn’t sure if he should be turned on by it, or offended by how clinical the whole thing is.

“He didn’t hurt you,” Derek says, cold and factual, but there’s some hint of a question in his tone that has Stiles shrugging to validate the statement.

“No,” he says, and something relaxes in the tense line of Derek’s shoulders. “He, uh. Said a bunch of creepy and sexual shit, though.”

Derek’s jaw flexes and he says darkly, “He won’t. Not again.”

“I… didn’t know you cared,” Stiles says, his sarcasm a bit shakier than he meant it to be.

Derek doesn’t reply – his nose is twitching and his eyes narrow. “Wolfsbane.”

Rolling his eyes, because apparently Derek is reverting to one word sentences now, Stiles says, “Yeah. Argent gave me a gun.” Derek’s eyes widen a little, his gaze locking with Stiles, and for all that he wants to, Stiles finds he can’t look away. Instead, he says, “To, uh. Protect myself. From werewolves who don’t keep their hands to themselves or whatever. Including you.”

For a long moment, Derek just looks at him, his gaze intense, impossible to look away from. And then he ducks his head, rubs at the back of his neck, and says, “Good.”

Suddenly afraid that Derek will take off and go back to pretending Stiles doesn’t exist (all the while apparently stalking him at the gas station), Stiles says, “So, are you going to tell me what’s going on? Argent was worried I’d been assaulted, and said a bunch of stuff about evolution, but—”

Alarmed, Derek says, “What exactly did he tell you?”

Hoping giving some info might help him get some, Stiles says, “It’s a biological instinct to, uh, create offspring to strengthen a pack that has nearly been wiped out. He said that wolves will go feral, will… lose control. And do things to me even if they don’t want to – if I don’t want them to. But Peter was okay – his creepy self, but okay. And you – I mean, you’ve never wanted to touch me, and that hasn’t changed. So…”

Derek scowls, turning away restlessly, so his face is half cast in shadow. “It will get worse,” he says grimly. “The heats. The instinct and the hormones. Now, the scent is there, but overpowered by your natural scent. When the heat cycle kicks in, though, it will get worse, and weaker wolves won’t be able to control themselves.”

“Weaker?” Stiles echoes faintly.

Derek looks at him again, eyes burning red for a moment. “Yeah,” he says. “But I’m not weak. I won’t lose control – trust me.”

“We don’t trust each other,” Stiles says, shaky.

“You can trust this.”

Because if there is one truth in all this, it’s that Derek doesn’t want to touch him – and not even a ‘biological imperative’ to do so would change that.

Derek turns to go, like he thinks that is as much of an explanation as Stiles needs, and Stiles panics, grabbing his arm. Derek freezes and Stiles feels his bicep flex under his hand, but he doesn’t let go.

“Wait,” he says desperately, words tripping over each other. “Why is this happening to me? How do we fix it? What did Peter mean about being claimed, and other strange wolves? I can’t actually get knocked up, can I? And heats, that’s not a thing, how could that be a thing?”

Derek is half out the window, but he looks over his shoulder and says, “Nothing will happen to you. Deaton and I will fix it.”

He pulls away, slipping out onto the roof, and Stiles calls, “But what happens if you can’t fix it?”

Derek’s eyes glint red in the darkness as he pauses for a moment, and then he says, “If it’s not fixed, you’ll either need to be claimed, or you’ll die. And I’m not going to let you die.”

And before Stiles can draw enough breath to start freaking out about that casual bit of information, Derek adds, “Don’t go anywhere alone – don’t trust werewolves, even ones you know. And take the gun with you.”

And then he’s gone.

*

The problem with not trusting any werewolves, even those he knows, is that pretty much everyone Stiles knows is a werewolf. So he holes himself up in his bedroom for the weekend. It’s not the worst thing, he does have finals to study for, but the isolation gets to him, despite the fact that Scott calls at least twice a day just to chat and keep him company.

On Monday, he goes to school, which Derek would probably frown on, but Stiles is unwilling to let his education suffer any more than he has to because of supernatural shenanigans.

It’s hot, though, and Stiles is a sweaty mess as he’s changing out of his gym cloths at the end of the day. He’s distracted, mentally reviewing all the homework he has, so he jumps when Jackson suddenly slams his locker nearby.

“Stilinski,” Jackson growls, low, eyes flashing.

“What! I didn’t do anything!” Stiles yelps, closing his own locker quickly and tugging his t-shirt on.

“You should go home,” Jackson tells him, voice still rough, clearly struggling for control. He stalks closer, eyes fixed on Stiles’ neck.

“Ah, what? Okay, okay,” Stiles says, hands up in a useless attempt to soothe him. “Dude, get control of yourself! I’m fine! You’re fine! I don’t – I’m not –”

Jackson draws in a slow breath and says, “Are you sure?”

And Stiles pauses, thinking back, and yeah, okay, he’s felt a little off today, but it’s a hot day! Of course he’s going to feel sweaty, and sticky, and…

A wave of dizziness hits him suddenly and he falls back against the lockers with a groan, vision going gray for a moment, and the slight twinges of heat and fever he’d felt all day suddenly ramp up. His mouth goes dry and then, when Jackson’s eyes flash in response, he’s suddenly salivating for him, desperate to lean forward and taste Jackson’s sweaty throat and – no, no, no.

“Oh fuck,” he pants, and his underwear is wet, what the fuck. “Okay, maybe. Maybe you’re right.”

Jackson snarls, closing his eyes and shaking his head like a dog. He grabs onto an open locker for balance, metal twisting under his grip. “Go home,” he snaps. “Danny! Drive Stilinski home. He’s sick. Take his jeep. I’ll pick you up after.”

Danny’s there suddenly, looking more concerned by Jackson’s obvious issues than Stiles’ but when Jackson shoots him a pleading, angry sort of glare, Danny gives in gracefully.

“Sure, dude,” he says, still looking at Jackson, puzzled.

Stiles just goes along with it, dazed and beginning to ache.

*

It’s getting worse and Stiles panics. It’s only been a day and his head is already foggy, his skin feels too tight, his fever too high. It’s worse than the first time. The capsules Deaton gave him aren’t working anymore.

Before he loses his mind completely, Stiles grabs his jar of mountain ash and makes a ring around his house. By the time he’s done, he can barely stand upright. He crashes in bed with a moan, hard, wet, and aching.

He loses time, lost in the fever. His dad calls in to the school to let them know he’s not well, and leaves soup and Gatorade for him before heading off to work, but Stiles has no appetite for food or drink. He’s lost in rolling waves of heat, desperate for someone – anyone – to touch him. To fuck him. He’s empty and he needs to be filled and that’s all his mind has room for right now.

He suffers feverish dreams, filled with wanting and with sex, but none of it eases the tremors in his bones. He cries and he begs but there’s no one there to hear him.

He’s not sure how long passes until Stiles just can’t do this anymore. He’s weak, but he still manages to crawl out of bed, stagger out of the house, and somehow find himself on his back deck. He doesn’t know where he’s going or really care. All he knows is that he needs to find someone – anyone – to help him.

But he’s having trouble remembering how to make his feet move to navigate the stairs.

“Stiles.”

His head snaps up and turns to see Derek standing there, hands flexing into claws, eyes a steady red, half shifted.

Derek,” he cries, desperate, stumbling down the stairs towards him. “Derek, please, please, help me.”

Stop.”

There’s enough alpha command in Derek’s voice to make Stiles freeze, feet only inches from his mountain ash barrier. His eyes are wide, each breath catches in his throat with a whine, and he’s trembling.

“Stiles,” Derek says, more carefully now. “You need to go back inside.”

“No,” Stiles moans. “No, I need you. Derek. I need you to fuck me, please, please.”

“You don’t want that,” Derek tells him, voice steady, even as his body shudders, teeth growing sharper.

“I need it,” Stiles says, eyes burning with tears. “It hurts, everything hurts, I need you, please. My skin – my skin’s too tight, my body’s breaking, I’ll tear myself to pieces, please.”

Closing his eyes, Derek says, “Stiles. You don’t want me. This isn’t you.”

“Help me,” he says hoarsely. “Please.”

For a long moment, he thinks Derek’s going to refuse, that he’s going to walk away. And then Derek says quietly. “Okay. I’ll help you. But you need to do everything I say. Okay?”

Yes,” Stiles says, eager, nodding wildly. “I will. I’ll do anything you want.”

Derek exhales slowly and says, “Break the line, Stiles.”

Quickly scuffing his foot through the line of mountain ash before Derek can change his mind, Stiles stumbles forward, reaching for Derek desperately.

Derek catches him, and the contact is enough for Stiles to moan, head falling back.

“Come inside,” Derek says, tugging Stiles towards the door. He leads him back up to his bedroom.

Stiles wants it fast, hard, he doesn’t care, he just needs Derek inside him, filling him up, but instead, Derek climbs onto his bed, sitting up against the wall with his knees spread, tugging Stiles to sit between them, leaning back against Derek’s chest.

He’s still wearing far too many items of clothing, and Stiles twists against him, disappointed and tugging at Derek’s shirt.

“Shh,” Derek says firmly. “Lay still.”

And Stiles had promised to obey, so he goes still, panting a little, exhaling shakily when Derek carefully wraps his arms around Stiles’ waist, holding him securely.

“Use your hands,” Derek tells him, voice quiet and breath brushing against the shell of Stiles’ ear. He shivers.

“Your hands,” Stiles says, pleading.

Stiles is hard, achingly hard, and he’d tried to get himself off so many times since this started, but the fever is too distracting, the feeling of his skin trying to tear itself apart too sharp. He hadn’t managed it.

“Stiles,” Derek says, sounding disappointed. He nips at Stiles’ ear. “You promised.”

He moans faintly but gives in, shoving his hands roughly inside his underwear, wrapping them both around himself, shuddering.

And it’s not what he wants, but Derek is quietly encouraging, telling him exactly what to do, and his scent is wrapped all around Stiles as tightly as his arms are, so it’s different. It helps him focus on what he’s doing, it soothes the burn under his skin, and it barely takes any time at all before he’s coming, crying out wordlessly as he arches back, head on Derek’s shoulder.

He’s lost in a blissful haze after that, his body basking in a bit of relief, fever faltering, and Derek gets up without a word. When Stiles comes back to himself, the fever has broken, just a little – enough that he panics.

“Derek,” he gasps, afraid, eyes flying open, just as Derek kneels beside the bed.

“Shh,” he says, his face soft and perfectly human. “I’ve got you.”

Derek tugs his underwear off and cleans him up with a warm, wet cloth, and Stiles just hides his face and tries to breathe. It’s simultaneously the most humiliating and the hottest thing that’s ever happened to him, and he’s still too achy, too hot, too exhausted, to figure out how to react here.

“I’m tired,” he says, voice breaking.

“Just wait,” Derek says, tossing the wash cloth away. He carefully spoons half a dozen mouthfuls of soup into Stiles’ mouth, makes him take a few sips of Gatorade, and then tucks a cool, clean sheet around him.

Stiles starts drifting off, and then the bed dips. He reaches out blindly, and his hand tangles in Derek’s fur as Derek curls up around him, keeping him safe and anchored. He shoves his wolfy head under Stiles’ chin, snuffling at his throat for a moment, before nuzzling along the side of his neck and tucking his tail around them both.

Derek has never let Stiles even see his full shift before, let alone snuggle it, and if Stiles were more conscious, he’d totally take advantage of the opportunity.

As it is, he barely has the energy to tangle his hands in Derek’s fur, and then he’s asleep.

The heat comes back, burning and insistent, but each time, Derek is there to talk him through it, just enough to keep Stiles from losing his mind.

*

For a while after the fever breaks, Stiles keeps his eyes closed, his breathing labored, because Derek is still there, sitting on the edge of the bed, running a cool cloth over Stiles’ forehead, and he’s not quite sure what he’s supposed to say.

The past few days have been a haze of fever dreams and nightmares, with startling bursts of clarity, and he wishes he didn’t remember any of it at all.

“Derek,” he says finally, voice hoarse, and there’s a pause before Derek takes the damp cloth off his forehead.

“Better?” he says, sounding wary. “The fever broke a while ago, but I wasn’t sure…”

“Better,” he says, and then he grimaces, opening his eyes. “I think. I feel like shit.”

Derek gets up, takes a careful step back, but he’s still watching Stiles carefully, eyebrows furrowed like he’s waiting for something. Stiles isn’t sure if he’s expecting Stiles to lunge at him and beg for sex again, or for Stiles to lash out at him over what happened.

As it is, Stiles is just very, very embarrassed, afraid, and more than a little grateful. Sure, Derek was around while Stiles was vulnerable and out of control and basically a disgusting mess… but he’d been careful and almost kind, and Stiles doesn’t know how to react to it.

He kind of just wants to crawl under a rock and never come out.

“Your dad’s making soup,” Derek says, grabbing his coat from the back of Stiles’ chair. “He’ll be up in a minute. He doesn’t know I was here – I hid in the closet.”

And then Derek moves towards the window, like he intends to just leave, like nothing happened here worth commenting on, and Stiles sits up, wincing at the ache in his muscles.

“We have to talk about this,” he says, even though he’d really rather not.

“No we don’t,” Derek says calmly, sliding the window open. “Keep the gun on you. Stay home if you can. We’ll figure this out, and –”

“Derek,” Stiles says, eyes stinging. He tries so hard not to cry. “I just – I’m so sorry, I—”

For a moment, before his usual scowl is back, Derek looks stunned, maybe horrified. And then he says, “This isn’t your fault. It’s mine. And I’ll fix it.”

And then he’s gone and Stiles gives in, crying until his dad arrives with soup and relief that Stiles is finally himself again.

*
Derek calls a pack meeting a few days later, and Stiles is worried it’s about whatever’s going on with him, or that maybe Derek’s decided to vote him out of the pack or something.

He needn’t have wasted the time being anxious – Derek refuses to even look at him.

Instead, he gathers his betas in his loft and grimly tells them, “Peter’s in town and he brought trouble with him.”

“Must be Tuesday,” Isaac says with a smirk but, as usual, everyone ignores him.

“He’s on the run from an alpha pack,” Derek says, arms crossed over his chest.

“A pack made of alphas? How is that possible?” Lydia asks him, eyebrows up.

“They’re werewolves who have killed their entire packs, gaining power with each kill, and then joining a pack of similarly powerful alphas. They’re nearly feral, very dangerous, and until I figure out what they want, no one goes anywhere alone.”

He looks at Stiles when he says it, the only time he’s even acknowledged his presence, and Stiles miserably ignores the thrill he gets at the eye contact. He hugs his arms around his stomach and shrinks back against Scott’s side a bit, looking away.

“Shouldn’t we track them?” Jackson asks. “Figure out where they’re staying, chase them out of our territory?”

“They’re dangerous. Until we know what they want, we need to be cautious,” Derek orders firmly.

“Or we find Peter and give him to them,” Lydia suggests. “Gift wrapped.”

Derek snaps, “Stay away from Peter, stay away from the alphas.”

And then Isaac says, “Okay, but is anything being done about Stiles? He stinks.”

Stiles feels Scott bristling against him, but before Scott can say anything, Derek snarls, “Stay away from Stiles, too.”

“If we all stay away from Stiles, how’s he supposed to not be alone to stay safe from the alphas?” Erica asks, because she’s the only one with any common sense. Well, her and Boyd, who seems above this whole discussion.

“I’ll stay with him,” Scott says loyally. “I don’t think he stinks.”

Derek looks like he wants to argue about that, too, but he scowls instead, and turns and walks away, which Stiles takes to mean they are all dismissed.

He’d usually hang around after a pack meeting to bug Derek because Stiles thrives on attention, but this time, he slinks out of the room before the rest of the pack, Scott tagging along doggedly behind him.

*

Deaton’s capsules have stopped doing anything to slow the progression of Stiles’ heats, he hasn’t found any new information on how to stop the entire ridiculous situation, and his best piece of advice, apparently, is, “Perhaps it’s time to stop trying to reverse the condition and decide on a path forward that you can live with.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Stiles snaps, while sitting on the cold exam table, swinging his legs angrily. Scott is watching worriedly on chair nearby, Stiles’ assigned babysitter.

“It means, Stiles, that I don’t know if this is something that can be fixed, and if it can, it won’t be in time to prevent you from suffering irreparable harm.”

“Irreparable harm?” Stiles echoes, ducking his head, crossing his arms over his chest. “Derek says that it might kill me.”

He’s hoping Deaton will deny it, but instead, Deaton says, apologetic, “Werewolves run hotter than humans, as you know, and the heat cycles causes them to burn even hotter. The omega instinct was never meant to be triggered in a human. Without the capsules I gave you to alleviate some of the strengths of the cycle, you will burn too hot to survive without significant neurological damage, or death.”

“No one will tell me why this is happening to me,” Stiles says shakily. “If it’s supposed to be a werewolf, then why isn’t it?”

“It’s impossible to say,” Deaton tells him. “Omegas are rare, the lore behind them are a closely guarded secret. It’s possible Derek’s parents knew, but I doubt they had time to share all their secrets with him before the fire, and he was never meant to be alpha.”

“So what do we do?” Stiles asks, squaring his shoulders. “What are the options?”

“For your own safety, you need to be claimed,” Deaton says delicately.

There’s a pause, and Scott breaks it, squeaking, “Like, sexually?”

“In a manner of speaking,” Deaton says distastefully.

“By an alpha,” Stiles says, numb. “Derek.”

“Or any werewolf capable of defending his or her claim on you,” Deaton adds. “An alpha is an obvious choice, as the strongest, and also because a pack comes along with the alpha’s claim. But any werewolf will do.”

“I’ll do it,” Scott says instantly, getting to his feet. “What do I have to do? We just have sex and then, what, he’s cured?”

Deaton looks a little strained, as if he’s battling impatience, and says, “It’s not so simple. The claiming will warn off other weres who may be attracted to an omega’s scent, and the process will ease the heat phase of the cycle, yes, but it’s a biological imperative to create offspring. If a mating cycle proves unsuccessful, it will repeat, again and again, until it’s satisfied.”

“So… Scott will need to… to have sex with me… once a month… until I’m knocked up.”

Deaton nods and Scott says, “I’m in.” He looks grim, determined, and Stiles wants to laugh and cry at the same time.

“Dude,” he says instead. “Kira’s awesome, but do you really think she’s gonna be cool with you and me having sexual sleep overs once a month, with the end goal to produce children?”

“Anyone who isn’t okay with the fact that I’d do whatever I have to to keep my best bro safe isn’t worth dating,” Scott says stubbornly.

“I appreciate it, seriously,” Stiles tells him, sliding off the table and smiling wryly at Scott. “But I’m not going to let you throw away your future because mine’s fucked.”

“Be careful, Stiles,” Deaton says, as they prepare to leave. “Given how your last heat went, I am not sure you would survive another unscathed.”

“I’ve got a few weeks to figure it out,” he says, trying to sound optimistic. “I’ll come up with something.”

*

They have a sleepover, playing videogames until after midnight before Scott finally passes out and Stiles lays awake on his bed, staring up at the ceiling, and trying to remember how to breathe.

He feels like a stranger in his own body. He feels fine, but knowing that at any moment, his body could go into a meltdown, with strange biological reactions he doesn’t understand, makes him panic. He feels sick, anxious, and scared.

He thinks about what it means for him, and for his future, and how, if worse comes to worse, he’ll have to tell his dad that he’s somehow gotten knocked up by a werewolf.

He wonders if that’s really worse than the alternative, which is dying.

He’s pretty sure his dad would prefer the werewolf grandchild. That is, if his heart survives the entire thing. And if Stiles survives the entire thing.

He presses a hand to his stomach and his breath hitches in panic, so he snatches his hand away and closes his eyes and forces himself to take careful, regular breaths.

Insomnia is nothing new to Stiles. It had become particularly familiar after the nogitsune incident. It was something that he and Derek had in common. Before this particular clusterfuck, Stiles used to find himself over at Derek’s house once or twice a week in the middle of the night, while his dad was on nightshift, watching movies and sitting awake in comfortable silence together.

Stiles misses it. He misses getting irritated replies to his random and obnoxious texts that he’d send to Derek throughout the day – pictures of gross things he finds in public bathrooms, thoughts on philosophy, Marvel vs. DC, politics, Sunday morning cartoons. Artsy pictures of clouds, leaves, pencil shavings. Interesting pages from school textbooks, pictures of Scott sleeping in the library, that one time he found a smudge on his Lacrosse stick that he insisted looked like a little wolf – it didn’t.

A few months ago, on a night like this, Stiles wouldn’t hesitate to grab his phone and send Derek a picture of the spider spinning a web on his window, the way the shadows fall in the shape of a hot air balloon, Scott sleeping with his mouth wide open.

He wouldn’t hesitate to grab his keys and drive over to Derek’s place, if the anxiety and insomnia were particularly bad.

Stiles slips out of bed and grabs his keys before he gives himself time to second guess it.

He’s hyper vigilant on the drive over, eyes narrowed and staring into every shadow, on the alert for any out of control wolves, but he makes it without incident, parking his jeep near the new Hale house.

In the silence after he turns off the engine, he stares up at Derek’s window, dimly lit, and wonders if he should just go home.

He sits for about six minutes, windows open, considering his options, before Derek appears beside the jeep.

“You have a death wish,” Derek snaps, and Stiles is so startled, he’s got Argent’s gun up and aimed at Derek before he even has time to scream.

“I could have shot you!” he cries.

“At least you’re not entirely defenseless. You’re not supposed to be on your own. What are you doing here?”

Stiles falters, lowering the gun and shrugging miserably. “We never finished The Two Towers,” he says finally, staring at the steering wheel.

Derek is quiet for a moment, and Stiles figures he’ll order him to turn around and drive straight back home – or maybe come along for the ride, so Stiles isn’t alone. Instead, he sighs, opens the door, and says, “Come on.”

Unable to believe his luck, Stiles rolls up his window, stashes the gun, and pretty much falls out of the jeep in excitement as he follows Derek inside.

Peter’s there, lounging in an armchair reading, and he closes the book with an arched eyebrow when he sees Stiles in the doorway.

“You let him wander around alone at night, Derek?” Peter says, setting the book aside. “And still unclaimed?”

“I thought you were leaving,” Derek says pointedly.

Peter laughs, getting to his feet. “By all means,” he says, as Stiles edges away from him and he makes his way to the door. “If you want to be alone with Stiles, don’t let me get in the way. I wasn’t in the mood for chaperoning anyway.”

Derek hesitates. “Or you could stay.” Like he’s afraid to be alone with Stiles. “We’re going to watch The Two Towers.”

Peter just smirks and closes the door behind him.

It’s awkward and too quiet, and Stiles breaks the stillness by moving to the couch, curling up on his usual side, tugging Derek’s threadbare throw over his shoulders. Derek messes around in the kitchen for a few minutes, and then places a mug of hot chocolate unceremoniously on the little table beside the couch. It’s got a mountain of marshmallows in it, and Stiles picks it up gratefully, warming his hands.

Derek turns on the movie without a word. It’s still waiting, paused where the left it, like he hadn’t bothered watching anything without Stiles there to watch it with him.

Stile watches Merry and Pippin and the council of the Ents for a little while, his body gradually relaxing into the soft couch cushions. His body is exhausted but his mind keeps running in circles.

The hobbits are just showing the Ents the destruction of Isengard when Stiles sets his empty mug aside and says, without looking at Derek, “Deaton says he’s not gonna be able to fix me before this kills me.”

Derek doesn’t say anything for a long moment, and Stiles risks a quick glance at him. His eyes are fixed on the TV, but his hands are curled into fists to hide his claws.

“Scott says he’ll do it,” Stiles says quickly.

Derek’s eyes flash red for only a second and then he’s breathing in deeply, exhaling carefully, and saying, “That’s good. That’s. For the best.”

“He’s 18.” Stiles tugs the throw more tightly around his shoulders. “I’m not ready to watch him bind himself to someone he doesn’t love.”

Derek closes his eyes. “You’re 18 too.”

There’s a pause – the Ents are storming Isengard, the dam is breaking.

“So. So, if I’m going to be this way forever,” Stiles says, staring at his hands. “I’m going to need you to tell me everything you know about it.”

“Yeah,” Derek says quietly. “Okay. What do you want to know?”

So many things.

“Did you know this could happen? Did you – is it something you chose? Have you ever known anybody like me? What… what even is ‘claiming’? Will I actually die? What happens – how the fuck – I’m a guy, you know that, right? But Deaton says it’s still possible that I could – that I’m – I can’t actually get knocked up, that’s not a thing, right? Why is this happening to me?”

Derek picks at a loose thread at the tear in the knee of his jeans and carefully doesn’t look at Stiles. The room is dim, the hobbits still fighting against the orcs on the TV, and Stiles can’t see Derek’s expression well enough to judge it.

“My mom told us about it, when a pack out east got nearly destroyed a few years before she died,” he confesses. “It was a big deal – it takes a pack nearly being destroyed and then stabilizing enough that it becomes safe again, to bring children into the pack. Usually packs just… never recover. It’s not something that gets chosen, it’s just something that happens.”

Derek shoots him a quick, unreadable look.

“It’s supposed to be something… something positive,” he says, barely audible.

Stiles flinches.

“I know that it’s not – not for you. Not for us,” Derek adds quickly. “I know.”

“So… so what happens now? With the claiming?”

It’s Derek’s turn to flinch, and he doesn’t look at Stiles when he says, almost clinically, “Sex. And during intercourse, there needs to be…” he hesitates, ruining his attempt at distance and objectivity. His voice wavers a bit, cracking, and he clears his throat. “Biting.” He looks at Stiles again, and then away just as fast. “Usually on the neck or along the tendon between the neck and shoulder. It’s, uhm.” His voice fades away to just a whisper. “Instinct.”

Stiles can’t help clapping a hand to the place where his neck and shoulder join, and he swallows hard. “Biting?” he yelps. “Deaton said this wasn’t supposed to happen to a human. So if it was you – if it was an alpha, they’d turn me?”

Derek shakes his head, voice still soft, and says, “Sometimes the omega is human… it doesn’t matter. You’ve already been turned into something more than human. After being claimed, there’s a… a bond. Between the alpha and the omega. You’d be faster. Stronger. More resilient. Not a wolf, but… not human either. You’d have to be to – to survive. What comes after.”

Stiles’ eyes widen. “Because I could I get…” he winces, voice just as low as Derek’s. “Pregnant.”

The quietness, the softness, seems too much for Derek suddenly, and he gets restlessly to his feet, going to the window. “Yeah,” he says, taking a deep breath. “Yes. But it’s not – it’s not supposed to be like this.” He gestures between them, frustrated, and says, “It’s supposed to be more than just – just a biological thing. It’s rare and – and sacred. Almost spiritual. The bond, it’s… it’s unbreakable.”

“So I would belong to the wolf who claimed me?” Stiles asks, shaking. “Like… like slavery. Forever.”

Derek turns back to him, silhouetted by the moonlight shining through the window, and says, almost angry, “The werewolf who claimed you would belong to you at least as much as you would belong to them.”

“Oh,” Stiles breathes, nervously licking his bottom lip. “Like soulmates.”

Derek turns back to the window, bracing one arm against it, breathing for a moment, visibly calming himself. He ducks his head, forehead against the glass, and says, “An omega is valuable. It’s always someone strong and loyal, someone…” his trails off for a moment. “Someone the alpha trusts. Cherishes.”

“Okay,” Stiles says, carefully breathing. His voice sounds a little hoarse, uncertain. “Okay. So. So, why is this happening to me?”

Derek goes very still, like he’s holding his breath. He doesn’t say anything at all.

So Stiles keeps talking. “Argent told me that any werewolves who smell my scent when it gets… bad. That they’ll be overcome by instinct and will force me…but you…” he swallows, searching for the right words. “You took care of me. Last time. You didn’t do anything – not even when I…” He winces. “When I begged you to.”

He sees Derek’s eyes flash red, reflected in the window, and then Derek pushes away, prowling closer. He runs his hand through his hair, shakes his head, and says, “Argent doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” The words are rough. “That’s the point. The omega instinct is only triggered in someone the alpha wouldn’t ever hurt – no matter what happens. It’s someone that the alpha – someone that I…” he trails off helplessly, looking at Stiles, like he can’t – or won’t – finish the sentence.

And Stiles doesn’t know what to do with any of this, because if all this is true, then why does Derek look so grim, like someone ran over his dog? Why has he treated this like a disease? Why has he stayed away?

It’s too much to filter through, and before Stiles can even start to try, his phone buzzes in his pocket and he jumps, grateful for the interruption to give him time to think.

“It’s Scott,” he says, apologetic. “He woke up and now he’s freaking out, thinking I’m dead.”

Derek looks at least half as relieved as Stiles feels, and he grabs the jeep keys from the table. “I’ll take you home,” he says, clearly grateful for the escape.

Stiles still hasn’t found any words to say by the time they pull up at Stiles’ place, so he gets out of the car, numb.

“Derek,” he says helplessly, as Derek hands him his keys. “I just—”

“It’s fine.” Derek shakes his head and forces a fake smile, Stiles can see right through him. “Just… stay safe. I’m sorry. We’ll figure it out.”

He shifts into a wolf so suddenly, he’s already disappearing into the shadows before Stiles can reply.

Instead, he picks up Derek’s discarded clothes off the driveway and goes inside, prepared to beg forgiveness from Scott.

“I think Derek’s in love with me,” he says instead, when he meets Scott on the stairs.

“Yeah,” Scott says, like he’s known it all along.

*

Stiles sleeps for hours, a deep, dreamless sleep. He feels nearly human when he wakes up again, and Scott is sitting on the end of his bed, playing Call of Duty on silent, which Stiles knows is a huge sacrifice.

He moans, stretching a little, and says, “Sleep is amazing, Scott. Seriously.”

“Mmhmm,” Scott hums. “You snored.”

Stiles doesn’t care too much. “I need a shower. I stink.”

“Yeah,” Scott agrees as the match ends and he comes in last, because he couldn’t hear anybody coming. He doesn’t complain though, just turns the game off and says, “Go quick. I told my mom we’d bring her lunch when you woke up, and she’s starving. You know how grumpy she gets.”

Stiles does, so he hurries to the bathroom, amazed at how much better he feels after a few hours of sleep.

*

“The thing I don’t get,” Stiles says, as they pull into the parking lot at the hospital, after gorging himself on curly fries and burgers before bringing Melissa some lunch. “Like. How did you know, about Derek’s… feelings?”

Scott rolls his eyes, taking a sip of his milkshake. “He cuddled you while you jerked off,” he says. “And! Then he fed you soup.”

Stiles blinks. “Well. Yeah. Okay.” And… there was the mutual life saving. The fact that Derek always let him in when he showed up in the middle of the night. That Derek listened to him. Asked his advice. Trusted him. Showed up on hard days, like the anniversary of the fire, like Laura’s death, and let Stiles make him pancakes, take him on road trips to the shore, just the two of them.

It’s possible, possible, that Stiles has been a little blind.

“I thought you knew,” Scott says around his straw, cocking his head curiously. “Like, I thought that’s why you were all –” He waves his hands around in a vague impression of anxiety and panic. “Freaking out.”

“I was freaking out because I started going into sex-crazed fevers, and I could get pregnant,” Stiles says dryly.

“Oh.” Scott squints. “Not because Derek was in love with you and you didn’t know how to handle his unrequited feelings?”

It’s Stiles’ turn to stare, his mouth hanging open. “Uhh,” he says, stunned. “You do know… I mean, I’m not subtle.”

Scott blinks at him.

“Scott. I’ve been pretty much in love with him since I was 16.”

Scott laughs, but when Stiles doesn’t join in, he trails off. “But Lydia. You had a ten year plan. You never had a ten year plan with Derek!”

“Because I knew I’d need way more than 10 years to ever get him to like me!”

They park at the hospital, Scott still looking dumbfounded, and Stiles rolls his eyes.

“Wait here,” he says. “I’ll bring her lunch. You look like you need a minute.”

Stiles jogs into the hospital, waits for Melissa at the nursing station, gives her the bag of burgers and lets her fuss over him for a few minutes, promising to get more sleep and eat more greens and bring his dad over sometime next week for dinner.

Then he heads back out to the car, frowning down at his phone and trying to think of something nice and casual to Derek to trick him into hanging out so they can figure out this whole ‘feelings’ thing.

“Stiles.”

Startled, Stiles’ head snaps up and he stares. “Peter?” he asks, frowning. Peter looks totally out of place, all in black like usual, same leather jacket, same irritating smirk. It takes Stiles a moment to realize it seems odd because he’s never actually seen Peter in the daylight before. “What are you doing here?”

“Still unclaimed,” Peter huffs, hunching his shoulders a little and studying Stiles like he doesn’t know what to do with him. “And alone. What is Derek thinking?”

“I’m not alone,” Stiles says, growing a little nervous. He glances towards the parking lot, but he can see Scott inside the jeep in the distance, bopping along to the radio.

“You need to trust me,” Peter says, voice low suddenly, and Stiles stumbles backwards, because Peter is right next to him now, too close.

Stiles huffs a nervous laugh, shoving his phone in his pocket. “Trust you,” he echoes. “That’s hilarious. Why would I ever—”

Peter grabs him by the back of the neck, breaking the fragile skin there with his claws, and Stiles tries to twist away, opening his mouth to scream for Scott. Before he can draw a breath, Peter pushes the pads of his fingers in hard and Stiles’ body goes numb, his knees give out, and he crumples to the ground, unconscious before his head hits it.

*

He wakes up with a sore head, bound hand and foot, on a lump and uncomfortable cot.

“Ow,” he moans, his memories all jumbled up.

It takes a moment to piece together what happened and it helps when Peter says from nearby, “Oh, you’re alive. Good. I had begun to worry.”

And then every warning that Deaton, Derek and Argent gave Stiles about his condition and how other werewolves would react rushes through his mind, and he panics. “Don’t – what are you doing?” he asks, struggling to breathe. “Where are we? Derek will kill you.”

“I hope not,” Peter says dryly, looking out a tiny window, his back to Stiles. “I’m doing this for his own good.”

“I don’t think he’ll agree!” Stiles says desperately, struggling to free his hands. “Just let me go, and I won’t tell him, I swear.”

Peter clucks his tongue. “Begging for your life already? I’m a little disappointed.” Stiles glares at him and Peter rolls his eyes. “Relax,” he says. “You may be entirely too pretty for your own good, but you’re not my type.”

Peter has been a creepy, hovering, borderline bad-touch experience in Stiles’ life for too long for him to quite believe it, and Peter must see the disbelief on his face. He rolls his eyes again, even harder. “Omegas aren’t my type,” he clarifies. “Too clingy and needy, and I’m not one to share my power. The alpha-omega bond strengthens the omega, but threaten an alpha’s omega, and the alpha will do just about anything to ensure their safety. I’m not about to hand my enemies a weapon to use against me.”

“Then let me go,” Stiles says, yanking at the ropes around his wrists.

“I’m not about to hand my enemies a weapon to use against my nephew, either,” Peter tells him, heading towards the door. “The alpha pack wants me.” He shrugs. “And with you leaving your delicious scent trail all over town, it’s only a matter of time before they use you to get Derek to hand me over.” He glances over his shoulder with a grin. “Or keep you for themselves. It’s hard to tell. So you stay here, safe and sound, where no one will find you, and Derek will assume they’ve got you, he’ll help me destroy them, I’ll harness all their power, and disappear before he finds you and realizes they never did. It’s a win-win. All you’ve got to do is wait here – and don’t get too excited. I hid your scent trail, they’re not going to find you.”

And then he’s gone and the only sounds are the birds, the wind in the trees, and Stiles’ frantic breathing.

*

Time passes strangely in the silence. Stiles takes to talking to himself, voice growing progressively rougher as his throat goes raw and he twists at the rope binding his wrists. It gets dark and his arm muscles start burning from being twisted behind his back, from his on-going efforts to get free.

He lets himself go limp, squeezing his eyes shut, resting for a while. Maybe he can wait it out – Peter hadn’t hurt him, Derek will find him.

But the anxiety grows and grows, and as the sun starts to set, he starts twisting even harder at his wrists, until they start to bleed. He gets progressively more desperate until he’s panting, beads of sweat running down his face. Every time he thinks the ropes are about to give, even a little, they slip again on the blood oozing from his wrists and he swears and tries again.

His stomach is cramping up with fear, he’s hazy and he thinks it’s hunger at first, but as the hours tick by, it gets worse he knows what it is. It’s heat, beginning to pool in his body.

And wouldn’t that be the worst way this ends, dying of unsatisfied heat while bound and bloody in what seems to be a shack in the woods.

He laughs a little, desperate, and then thrashes until he falls off the bed, landing hard on the floor. He lays there, dazed, for a long moment, before he starts looking around for something, anything, with a sharp edge.

There’s nothing. Not a knife, a rock, a piece of glass.

And it’s getting harder to breathe. His bones are beginning to ache.

It’s hard to focus on anything, but Stiles hangs on to his need to escape with everything he’s got as his body starts to shake.

He can’t get his hands free, and he thrashes again, panting – and one of his shoes slip off. It makes it almost laughably easy to tug that foot free, and Stiles doesn’t need his hands, he just needs to get out.

He kicks off his other shoe and keeps kicking until the rope comes loose too, and Stiles is so far gone in panic and heat that he doesn’t even pause to put his shoes back on, he just shoves himself up onto his feet, staggers to the door, opens it with the hands bound behind his back, and stumbles out into the darkness.

He can’t howl, but he starts shouting Derek’s name, voice hoarse and broken, as he crashes headlong into the forest.

He doesn’t make it far before his knees give out and he crumples to the soft ground, wrists still bound. He gasps, waves of heat crashing over him, shuddering and squeezing his eyes shut.

His last coherent thought for a while is that at least he’s not dying of this in that shack… the forest floor is at least an improvement.

*

Lost to heat and instinct, Stiles somehow finds his way to water, partially submerging his face in a creek in an attempt to drink and soothe his parched throat. The cooling sensation helps bring him back to coherency enough that he looks around, forcing himself to focus, and finds a rock that looks sharp enough to break the ropes on his wrists.

He rolls himself into the creek, clutching the rock and trying to saw at the ropes, hoping the cool water will keep him aware long enough to get free. It soaks into his jeans, makes his wrists slippery, stinging where they’ve been rubbed raw, but he starts to hope maybe they’re slippery enough to slide out of the ropes.

He’s twisting and tugging at them, ropes weakened by the sharp stone, when he hears an animal crashing through the underbrush nearby, and Stiles snaps his head around in that direction, going very still.

“Derek?” he calls softly, voice hoarse.

Red eyes flash in the shadows, accompanied by a low, rough growl, and when the partially shifted wolf steps out of the trees and is illuminated by the moon, Stiles can see that it’s definitely not Derek. It’s a twisted figure, huge and hulking, an ugly human face with fangs and fur and blood red eyes, shoulders that ripple with muscle, and ham-like fists, clawed and inhuman.

The wolf sucks in a breath and huffs, scenting the air, eyes locked on Stiles, who’s still sitting in a creek, defenseless and in heat, hands behind his back.

It’s pretty much the worst case scenario Deaton and Argent had both warned him about.

“No,” he croaks, scrambling onto his knees, still in the water. “Don’t. Just – just wait.”

The alpha doesn’t charge him like Stiles half expects him to. Instead, he approaches slowly, saliva dripping from his fangs, mouth hanging open and a cruel smirk on his mouth.

“Left your pretty scent all over town,” the wolf says, voice grating through his twisted throat.

Stiles throws himself backwards, landing on the embankment with a grunt, like the tiny creek is enough to keep the strange alpha away from him. Even as terror washes over him, his body reacts to the presence of the alpha wolf, drowning in another wave of sharp, aching heat. It makes his head spin, makes his body tremble as he fights not to throw himself down, to submit or to beg.

He’s panting, whining a little, and it’s all he can do to cling to coherency and remember that no matter what, he doesn’t want whatever this wolf has in mind for him.

But his body wants it – anything to cool the heat that’s burning him up from the inside.

It’s far too easy for the wolf to reach over the creek, wrap a large hand around his ankle, and tug him so that he slides back through the water. For a few seconds, his head is submerged and he can’t breathe, and then he’s gasping on the bank with the wolf looming over him on his hands and knees above him, and Stiles starts to panic.

“No,” he chokes, trying to kick his way free. Grunting, the wolf lowers himself down on top of Stiles’ thrashing body, pinning him with his heavy weight, pressing his half-wolfed out face against the side of Stiles’ neck, breathing him in. His mouth is still open, saliva dripping on Stiles’ throat, and his body arches up, rubbing against the feral wolf.

For a moment, Stiles loses himself, so desperate – but then panic overwhelms everything when he feels the wolf’s claws deliberately tearing through the fabric of his jeans, and with a vicious twist, the ropes binding his wrist finally snap.

Stiles reacts instinctively, desperate breaths sobbing in the back of his throat, as he swings the sharp rock up and around, smashing it into the side of the wolf’s head. There’s a sickening crack of bone and the scent of blood and Stiles knows it isn’t enough to stop the wolf, but it’ll slow him down.

He gets free while the wolf is still shaking his head, trying to clear it, and he manages to lunge across the creek before there’s a feral snarl and he’s pinned again, half in the water, laying on his stomach, the wolf’s hips pressed down against him.

Stiles struggles, thrashing and feverishly mumbling, “No, no, no,” if only to remind himself he doesn’t want this, no matter how his body burns to give into it.

The wolf tears at his jeans, ripping fabric and skin, and Stiles’ protests become a wordless, desperate cry.

He twists and turns and the wolf growls, “Lie still.” And then there is a strange sensation at the spot where his neck and his shoulder meet, a wet sort of pressure and Stiles feels his muscles all lock up against the intrusion moments before the alpha wolf’s fangs pierce his skin.

He goes still, his body freezing, his lungs incapable of drawing breath. He can feel blood running from where the wolf’s teeth are tearing into his flesh, dragging Stiles up onto his hands and knees as sharp claws keep tearing at his jeans.

“Don’t,” Stiles says, but his body won’t listen – his head falls, his back bows in submission, he holds still, panting, his entire burning up, aching to lean into the wolf at his back.

He doesn’t, though. It hurts and he grits his teeth but he doesn’t push back against him, even as frustrated, angry tears streak through the mud on his face.

The wolf is still growling, his breath hot on Stiles’ torn flesh, his teeth still tearing into Stiles’ skin, and it’s so loud, maybe that’s why he doesn’t hear Derek coming.

All Stiles knows is that he’s being held up by nothing more than fangs buried in his shoulder and his own trembling hands and knees, and then there’s a sound more feral and furious than any he’s ever heard, and the weight is torn from his back.

Stiles falls forward with a wet, grateful gasp, curling onto his side, shaking and fighting to stay here, to stay coherent and conscious because he doesn’t know if he’s safe yet. He’s bloody and he hurts all over and there’s still that itching, burning need under his skin just to lay still and submit.

He presses his hand to the torn, ragged wound on his shoulder and pants, each breath a strangled, panicky sound.

Stiles is shaking, and he keeps losing time. His teeth chatter together, he feels detached from his body, as if the shocked cold and burning heat are fighting over someone else’s torn, bruised limbs. He’s staring up at the trees in the dark, and his mind is shutting down, too overwhelmed with fear, pain, and desperate need.

He’s cold and he’s burning up and everything tastes like blood.

He’s not sure how long it takes before Derek is there, fully wolfed out, whining low and sniffing at Stiles’ torn shoulder, his neck, the blood that’s soaked into his skin. Stiles can’t help flinching away with a broken, animalistic whimper.

Derek is human a moment later, his warm hands on Stiles’ wrists, tugging him up.

“Stiles,” he says, shaky. “Stiles, hey, hey, I’ve got you.”

Stiles’ head rolls back. He’s shaking too hard to focus, hot and cold at the same time. “I can’t – I can’t feel anything,” he gasps, trying to push away.

“Okay,” Derek says. “I’ve got you.” He presses one palm to Stiles’ cheek, and the soft warmth of it gives Stiles something to focus on, to ground him. And then black veins are snaking up Derek’s arm and with them, the anxious mess of Stiles’ pain.

The night is bright and sharp suddenly, the haze of his heat and his pain clearing, and Stiles starts shaking violently, terror twisting in his stomach.

Derek looks like he’s losing his shit, his eyes flaring red, his face harsh with anger or concern, Stiles can’t even tell.

“There—there were so many things I wanted to tell you before this stupid heat thing happened again,” Stiles says, teeth snapping together as his body keeps shuddering with shock. He tries to smile, but it feels twisted and wrong on his face. Humor is pretty much the only defense he’s got left, though, and the idea of Derek cradling his mangled, bloody body in the middle of the forest after saving him from being – being –
Stiles can’t even think the words that would describe what that alpha had nearly done to him.

“This is my fault,” Derek says, harsh, but his touch is still so gentle.

Stiles ignored his words, swallowing hard when Derek gathers him close to his chest, Derek’s body heat warming him. “Wanted to tell you that…” clinging to lucidity is difficult, he so badly wants to let himself fall into the haze of fever, or unconsciousness. “That you aren’t Kate.”

Derek goes so still, Stiles can feel him holding his breath.

“Not your fault,” Stiles mumbles, letting his head fall to Derek’s shoulder. “And you don’t have to fix this if you don’t want to – don’t want me. We’ll figure it out.” He’s slipping away, he can feel it.

“Me wanting you is what caused this,” Derek snaps. “Stay with me. Stiles.”

He hums in agreement and then flinches when Derek lifts him, the movement jarring the ragged wounds in his body. Pain makes everything sharp again, and he cries out, remembering the alpha, the helplessness.

“He—he bit me,” Stiles gasps, shuddering again. “Am I going to be a werewolf – do I belong to him?” His voice is fragile and cracks in the middle.

A growl rumbles low in Derek’s chest, his arms tightening around Stiles, who doesn’t have to look up to know that Derek’s eyes are flashing red.

“No,” Derek tells him, the words rough. “You’re not human anymore, you’re immune to the bite.” He hesitates a moment and then adds, “And it wasn’t a marking bite – it wasn’t done to seal a bond. It was just to… to hurt.”

“Can’t feel it now,” Stiles says hazily, his skin prickling as the heat grows stronger, overwhelming Derek’s attempts to soothe his pain. “Can’t feel anything.”

“And you don’t belong to anybody,” Derek says, still sounding so angry, but Stiles knows it’s not at him.

“I could be yours, though,” he mumbles, eyes drifting shut.

“You don’t want to be.”

“Been in love with you since I was sixteen,” Stiles argues, drifting away as the fever crashes over him again. “Ask Scott. Scott knows.”

He feels Derek shudder against him, arms tightening their hold, but Stiles slips away, lost in fever dreams of twisted alphas holding him down, hurting him, forcing themselves inside him, and the worst part was that every time he opened his mouth to scream, he begged for more instead.

*

A warm wash of water rouses Stiles from his fever sleep and his eyes blink open sluggishly, trying to make sense of what’s happening. His head rolls to the side, supported on the rim of the bath, and he sees Derek there beside him, carefully rinsing the ragged gash in Stiles’ shoulder with water.

“I’m in your bath,” Stiles hums with a small, crooked smile. “Weird.”

Derek flashes him a quick look before focusing on the wound again, but there’s a softness around his mouth that wasn’t there a moment ago. “Welcome back,” he says, another rush of water running over Stiles’ shoulder. “You are in my bath, yes. You were covered in mud and blood, and I’ve got to clean and bandage this.”

Stiles is vaguely aware that he should probably be feeling more pain than he is right now, but the pain is distant, and so is the heat. “What happened?” he asks, trailing his other hand through the water absently.

Derek turns his attention to Stiles’ torn wrists. Stiles purrs a little, going boneless in the water as Derek runs his thumb along the underside of his wrist. “The alphas had caught your scent and they offered Peter a trade. Let him live if he gave them you.”

“He probably did, huh?”

“No,” Derek tells him. “He told me what he did instead, and then he helped us kill them. Ennis got away, and I tracked him into the woods, but he – I was too late, and he hurt you.”

“Crazy alpha werewolves aren’t your fault,” Stiles hums.

“Peter took off before I could kill him for what he did,” Derek confesses.

Stiles doesn’t feel anything and he lets his eyelids flutter shut again.

“Hey,” Derek says, soft. “Stay with me.”

“Nothing hurts,” Stiles murmurs. “And the heat is far away.”

“Because you’re in shock,” Derek tells him, and Stiles opens his eyes again, studying Derek in the soft light.

“What do werewolves know about shock?” Stiles asks, warm with amusement. He still feels like he’s floating above his body.

“Enough,” Derek says. “Stand up for me.”

His limbs don’t seem to want to obey, but Stiles does his best, and Derek steadies him when he lurches and slips on the wet tub. Derek wraps him in a fluffy towel and half carries him to his bed, sitting him on the edge and coaxing him to stay upright while he wraps yards of gauze around his shoulder and his wrists.

And then, still kneeling at the floor at Stiles’ feet, Derek looks up at him and says, “Do you want me to call Scott?”

Stiles takes a breath, closes his eyes, and slowly shakes his head. “No,” he says quietly.

“Why?”

When Stiles looks at him again, he sees Derek swallow hard, still looking up at him, something tight in the line of his jaw.

“I trust you,” Stiles tells him, and Derek flinches.

“It’s the heat – the instinct. You can’t know—”

“I don’t feel any of that right now,” Stiles says, reaching a hand out to steady himself on Derek’s shoulder. He trails his fingers up the side of Derek’s neck, biting his lip when he feels the way Derek shudders under his touch, eyes flaring red before he closes them. A coil of heat, so easily ignored until now, tightens low in his stomach.

Stiles swallows, his mouth suddenly dry, and says huskily, “All I know is that being with you is an amazing outcome of a pretty spectacularly shitty situation, and if you want me, and I’ve wanted you for so long, and you being with me will save my life, then there are so many better things we could be doing with our mouths rather than talking ourselves in circles.”

Derek’s eyes search Stiles’ face, his brow furrowing, like he’s looking for proof that Stiles really wants him, and Stiles doesn’t know how to give it.

“You’ve gotta trust me too,” he says, soft, because he knows Derek does. Isn’t that what Derek had said? This happened because Derek trusts him, relies on him, wants him.

Still, Derek hesitates, but both his hands are resting on Stiles’ thighs, and Stiles can feel his body’s reaction to Derek’s nearness, to his touch – the heat that he couldn’t feel before is burning more and more brightly in the pit of his stomach, beginning to twist through his bones. He can feel himself growing wet again, slick between his legs.

So he says, voice going a little husky, “And if we’re gonna do this, it would be nice if, the first time you kissed me, I was lucid enough to remember it.”

Derek rolls his eyes but his lips quirk with something like fondness. “Pushy,” he says, and Stiles only has a second to grin before Derek rises up on his knees, slips one hand around to support the back of Stiles neck, and kisses him.

Derek doesn’t kiss him like he’s reluctant or uncertain – he kisses like he’s the one who’s been needing this like oxygen, like he’s already claiming Stiles.

It’s intoxicating. With every press of Derek’s teeth and his tongue, Stiles feels the heat lick through his veins, growing hotter even as he grows harder and more desperate to feel Derek inside him.

He clings to Derek’s broad shoulders, licking his way into Derek’s mouth, so hungry for him that he forgets he needs to breathe at all until Derek breaks the kiss to suck in a shaky breath.

“Derek,” Stiles pants, flushed, eyes growing hazy. “I need – I need –”

“Shh,” Derek says, dragging his mouth down the side of Stiles’ neck, gently easing him down onto his back. “Lie still, I’ve got you.”

Stiles goes boneless, sinking backwards, pressing his arms to his face and struggling to breathe, but he’s starting to burn up again. He does his best to lie still, though, some deep-seated omega desire to please his alpha.

But then Derek is pushing Stiles’ towel aside, palming Stiles’ dick just as he grazes the junction of his shoulder and his throat with his blunt, human teeth, and Stiles arches with a needy cry.

There’s fire sparking through his veins now, driving away the echoing chill of shock that made him feel so far away from his own body. He can feel every fingertip, every toe, and everything in between now, and giving into the heat rather than fighting it is an entirely different experience. He’s not afraid, even as he burns up from the inside. There is no pain, no fear, just need, and trusting entirely that Derek, his alpha, will fill all of those needs.

“Derek,” Stiles pants, while Derek wraps his hand around Stiles’ cock, rubbing his thumb over the head where it’s already wet with precome. “Please, please, just. Just fuck me, okay?”

Derek nips his throat gently and says, “I said lie still.”

Stiles does, growling at him, which makes Derek flash his eyes, playful. Stiles is unprepared for the effect that has on him, his entire body shivering as he grows even wetter between his legs, pulling up his knees and basically ready to do whatever Derek wants him to do, to give him everything he has.

“Please,” he whimpers, eyes wide and beseeching. “I just need…”

But Derek won’t hurry. He makes his way down Stiles’ chest, brushing his lips over each bruise he finds there, still lazily stroking him.

And Stiles squeezes his eyes shut and does his best to lie still.

“Derek,” he says shakily, when Derek brushes his thumb over one of the scratches the other alpha left on his hips. “I can’t, please.”

Stiles has grown so wet, he can feel it, slick between his thighs, and his breath catches in a strangled moan when Derek drags his mouth there, tasting it.

Derek’s voice is rough when he says, “I’m going to make you come with my mouth. Okay?”

“No,” Stiles moans. “No, no, I need you inside me.”

Derek drags his tongue up the underside of Stiles’ cock and says, “I know, Stiles. But I need you with me for that, and this will help ease the fever, a little. Do you trust me?”

“Yeah,” Stiles sobs. “Yes, yes, please. I’m with you, I’m always with you, I—”

His words are cut off with a gasp as Derek takes him into his mouth, and maybe he had a point about the fever, because Stiles is overwhelmed with the heat of it. All that exists in the world is the fire under his skin, and the heat of Derek’s mouth.

He loses time, begging and crying and needing so badly to be filled. Derek keeps him on the edge for so long, it starts to hurt, and Stiles can’t come, not when he’s so empty and wet, no matter how deep Derek takes him into his mouth.

So he sobs and he begs and he fucks Derek’s mouth, and then, as soon as Derek pushes two fingers inside him, just enough to ease that aching emptiness, Stiles comes so hard on his tongue that he sees stars, his vision graying out and the fire blissfully soothed, at least for a little while.

His body is aching, his shoulder is throbbing where it was torn open, his heart is pounding, and Stiles feels a harsh rush of lucidity, and with it, a wave of uncertainty and vulnerability.

He doesn’t know how he should feel – with the begging, the crying, the strange wetness in his body, and he sort of wants to roll himself up in a blanket and hide. It’s too intimate, too much, and it’s easy when he’s burning with fever, but for now, anyway, it’s just him and his body and Derek, who’s watching him carefully while he licks a bit of come off his bottom lip.

“Oh god,” Stiles says, shaky, and Derek smiles a little.

“There you are,” he says, like Stiles had been gone for a while. He supposes he had been. “Okay?”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, throat raw from begging, crying, screaming. “You?”

“Yes.” Derek runs a hand up Stiles’ thigh, soothing. “I’m going to fuck you,” he says. “Okay?”

Stiles shivers, his dick doing a valiant attempt to get back into the action. “Yes,” Stiles says, swallowing hard. “Yeah. Please.”

“Stay with me, if you can,” Derek says, and then nudges his hip and says, “Turn over.”

His body is limp but Stiles does what he can, flopping onto his stomach and stretching out, self-conscious when he realizes how much more vulnerable this position makes him feel.

“I’m wet,” he says, faint, cheeks burning, because he thinks maybe Derek needs to be warned. “It’s weird, and I don’t know—”

“I like it,” Derek says roughly, and then he drags his tongue through the stickiness on Stiles’ thighs and higher, like he’s chasing the taste.

It’s like a punch to the stomach—all the air leaves Stiles’ lungs in a gasp, his eyes go wide, and he can feel Derek licking his way inside him.

He does his best to lie still, to stay silent, clenching his teeth to keep from keening or begging. And with every brush of teeth and tongue, the heat burns hotter and hotter, but Stiles clings to coherency as best he can, because Derek asked him to.

It doesn’t take long until he’s shaking as he fights off the urge to lose himself in the heat. He’s hard and aching again, and it’s borderline painful, and Derek is working two fingers inside him, stretching him open, his tongue soothing the burn.

It’s too much and not enough and Stiles’ attempt to stay quiet doesn’t matter as much as sobbing, “Derek, Derek, please.”

It’s harsh and desperate and Stiles doesn’t care anymore.

“Okay,” Derek says, quiet, easing Stiles onto his back. “You’re doing so good.”

“I’ll be so good,” Stiles tells him. “I just need you inside me.”

Derek smiles a little, nuzzling Stiles’ temple, and says, “So pushy.”

And then he kisses Stiles, and it’s not what he needs right now, but it’s distracting enough that he forgets, for a few moments at least, how much he needs to be filled. He clings to Derek’s shoulders and kisses him back, and it’s sloppy and rough, too much teeth, and it grounds Stiles, helps him focus.

Derek pushes between his legs, hooking his arm under Stiles’ thigh, tugging it up so Stiles feels pinned beneath his weight and wide open. It makes the breath whine in his lungs and he bites his bottom lip to keep from begging anymore.

“Still with me?” Derek asks, tugging Stiles’ bottom lip with his teeth.

“Yeah,” Stiles says, nodding wildly. “Yes.”

“Good boy,” Derek says, and then he’s pushing inside, achingly slowly.

“More,” Stiles demands, arching against him. “Harder. Derek.”

Derek growls a little, and then he’s buried inside Stiles, dropping his head to Stiles’ shoulder and breathing hard, his hands on the bed on either side of Stiles’ head, flexing like he’s struggling with control.

Stiles holds very still, breathing harshly, adjusting to the feeling of Derek inside him. It’s good – it’s so good, and now that he’s not so empty and aching, everything blinks into focus – perfect clarity.

He runs a soothing hand up Derek’s back, feeling his shoulders flex beneath his hands.

“I trust you,” Stiles whispers, pressing a mindless kiss to Derek’s cheek, the shell of his ear. “You can let go.”

“Stiles,” Derek says, voice breaking around the fangs he can’t seem capable of controlling. He lifts his head, eyes burning red, and Stiles can see that he’s trembling a little.

Stiles shifts his hips, even that slight movement sending sparks of heat up his spine, and says, “I’m yours, remember? You won’t hurt me.”

“Mine,” Derek growls, pushing just a little deeper. Stiles cries out, arching up, digging his nails into Derek’s shoulders.

“Yes,” he agrees. “Yours, all yours, c’mon, please. Derek.”

Derek begins to move inside him, careful at first, but slowly losing control, until it’s too hard and too fast and maybe it should hurt, but Stiles can’t feel any pain, just heat burning hotter and hotter, twisting in his veins. He’s given up any attempt to hide, to stay quiet, but Derek doesn’t seem to mind, just fucking him harder every time Stiles begs him to.

“Please,” Stiles says mindlessly, baring his throat to Derek instinctively, wrapping his legs around his hips. He needs to come and he can’t and it makes him sob. “Please, please come in me.”

Derek presses his face to Stiles’ throat, mouth open, tongue dragging along his pulse point, burying himself deep inside and saying roughly, “Still with me?” He brushes the side of Stiles’ neck with sharp fangs.

“Yeah,” Stiles says, nodding wildly. “Always with you.”

“I can have you?” Derek’s voice is an animalistic growl.

And Stiles knows what he’s asking. He tips his head back, baring his throat even more, and panting, “Yes, have me, do it, I’ll be yours.”

It doesn’t hurt. Derek bites down, hard, and all Stiles feels is a rush of white hot heat, something sparking over his skin, burrowing beneath his skin, and the tension that had been building in his bones cracking to pieces. He screams as he comes harder than he ever has, with Derek’s fangs buried in his shoulder, holding him still.

He loses time again, clinging to Derek as Derek fucks him, and when Derek comes, Stiles feels it echo through his own body, bolts of electricity.

It takes so long for Stiles to come down, drifting on exhausted, sweet waves of gentle heat, and when he does, Derek is still buried inside him, brushing frantic, apologetic kisses at the marks he’d left on Stiles’ shoulder.

“Sorry,” Derek says, breathless. “I’m sorry, does it hurt? I’m sorry.”

Stiles purrs, running his fingers through Derek’s hair, and he hums, “I can feel you. In me.” And not just sexually. Echoes of Derek’s panic are whispering through Stiles’ own mind.

Derek lefts his head and he looks wrecked, eyes wide. “Did I hurt you?” he asks again.

“Do you feel me?” Stiles asks him, exhausted and unable to stop smiling sleepily. “Do I feel hurt?”

Derek closes his eyes and breathes and says, “No,” he says, sounding so relieved. “You’re healing.”

“Because you’re a good alpha,” Stiles tells him, voice slurred with sleepiness. He pats Derek on the shoulder. “And now we’re soulmates. And you’re inside me.” He smirks a little. “Sexually, too. ‘M okay. Sleepy. Love you.”

Derek lets out a startled breath, and Stiles is too gone to think of why. “Sleep,” Derek says, quiet, kissing the corner of his lips. “I’ll take care of you.”

“I know,” Stiles says, drifting away, the fever broken.

*

Stiles wakes up when the sun starts shining too brightly through the window. It’s slow and lazy, and consciousness comes floating back like a cloud, and for a long moment, when his eyes finally flicker open, all he feels is a hazy, sweet sense of contentment. His body feels better than it has felt in a long, long time.

And he’s not at home, he realizes, blinking at the blankets piled on top of him, which aren’t his blankets. And he’s not in pain – he should probably be in pain, he thinks, flinching as memories of the alpha wolf in the woods come rushing back. And he’s naked.

And there’s a strange feeling, a low-grade anxiety, that he can feel in the back of his mind, like an echo, and it takes a distressingly long time for Stiles to realize that it isn’t his.

It’s Derek. Derek, who Stiles had a whole bunch of sex with the night before, who Stiles fell asleep next to, who has apparently run away.

But not too far. Stiles can hear him downstairs, probably in the kitchen.

So he stretches, still slow and content, and wanders to the bathroom, where he squints at himself in the mirror, because his bandages are gone and the alpha’s marks on his shoulder are nearly healed, much more than they should be. And the mark that Derek left on his neck is already closed up, looking more like a scar than a fresh bite.

His bruises are gone, his muscles aren’t sore at all, and he feels better than he has in months.

He showers and then goes back into Derek’s room, looking for his clothes, but they’re destroyed and soaked with blood. Stiles hesitates for a while but being naked is making him feel incredibly vulnerable, especially since Derek has to know he’s awake, but he hasn’t come upstairs.

So Stiles steals one of Derek’s t-shirts and a pair of his sweats, which are way too big. He holds them up with one hand as he tackles the stairs.

Derek goes very still when Stiles steps into the kitchen, which is a mess of dirty pots, pans and plates, piled high with just about every breakfast food Stiles can imagine.

“You’re nervous,” Stiles says, after it becomes clear that Derek doesn’t know what to say.

Derek’s cheeks are flushed and he’s holding a spatula like a weapon. “You’re not,” he says, after a moment.

“You can feel me too?”

Derek nods, turning to a frying pan where eggs are starting to burn. “Yeah.”

Everything is awkward. Stiles takes a seat at the kitchen table, fidgets for a moment, and says, “What are you doing?”

“I didn’t know what you wanted for breakfast,” Derek says gruffly, hunching his shoulders and glaring at the eggs.

“So you made everything?”

Derek flips the eggs and doesn’t answer.

“Well,” Stiles says brightly. “Luckily, I am starving. Apparently a whole lot of sex does that to me.” He starts loading a plate up with a little bit of everything, chatting like it’s not awkward as he does. “Oh, hey, also, I’m practically all healed! You probably noticed, I mean, I’m assuming you took the bandages off, and I know you said I’d become stronger and everything after you – after we –” His cheeks heat up and he waves a fork in illustration and then just changes subject with a desperate sort of grace. “So, anyway, I’m probably going to need a new phone, I haven’t seen mine since Peter – and the woods – and –” There are so many more awkward things to avoid talking about than he realized. “Or maybe I could just… borrow yours… to text Scott and my dad?”

Derek drops Stiles’ phone – a little dirty but still good – wordlessly on the table, and Stiles pounces on it, abandoning his over-filled plate, which Derek adds a few singed eggs to.

He’s got dozens of texts from Scott, freaking out because Stiles is missing, and then half a dozen after Derek must have let Scott know that he was okay.

Stiles texts him back one-handed, shoving some bacon into his mouth as he does. Still alive, he writes. At Derek’s. Don’t worry… all fixed.

Scott writes back nearly instantaneously. WHAT. How?!?!

How do you think.

OMG you had sex. With Derek. OMG are you pregnant?!?!?!

Stiles has been handling things pretty well, he thinks. With aplomb, even. He’s gracefully accepted the fact that his body does weird things and he needs sex to live and that apparently other werewolves may want to have sex with him without his consent. He’s okay with the idea that he heals faster – though not werewolf fast – and that when he gets turned on, he gets wet. He’s even adjusted to the idea that he apparently shares some spiritual bond with Derek that seems to make Derek bitchy this morning.

But one thing he forgot to grow accustomed to is the idea that all this is happening with the endgame of getting Stiles pregnant.

So he has a panic attack.

It’s swift – his heart starts pounding, his hands go numb, his phone clatters to the floor, his breathing goes harsh and irregular, and his vision starts spotting. His body feels alien and the very idea of being trapped in it makes him feel like scratching off his skin or throwing up.

Before he can do either, Derek is dropping to his knees in front of the chair Stiles is sitting in, his hands coming to rest on Stiles’ thighs, just above his knees.

“Hey,” he says, low and concerned. “Stiles. Breathe. You’re okay, you’re fine. What’s wrong?”

Stiles shakes his head wildly, a pained sound catching in his throat. “Can’t breathe,” he says, and Derek slides one hand up to the back of his neck, thumb pressing to the mark just above his shoulder, and it sends a strange, sweet sensation through Stiles’ body, making him hyperaware of that spot and drowning out the alien feeling of the rest of him.

Stiles lets his head fall onto Derek’s shoulder and Derek runs his other hand up and down his back soothingly.

“You’re fine, you’re fine, I’ve got you,” Derek says, repeating it until Stiles manages to suck in one breath and then another.

When the shaking has calmed and he can breathe again, he closes his eyes and leaves his forehead resting on Derek’s shoulder.

“Tell me what happened.”

Stiles mumbles, “Am I pregnant?”

He feels Derek startle, a shock going through his body, and then Derek’s tugging him up, hands on both shoulders, and forcing Stiles to look at him. “No,” he says. “You’re not.”

“But how do you know?” Stiles asks him, desperate. “You can’t be sure.”

“I used a condom,” Derek says firmly. “Jesus. You’re 18. You’re about to graduate. You’re going to college. Of course I wouldn’t – no, Stiles.”

Stiles blinks. “A condom,” he echoes, blinking again. It hadn’t even occurred to him. He can’t help a small, hysterical giggle. “Right. Okay. So I don’t need to – so I’m not –”

Derek rolls his eyes, but it’s fond. “No. You don’t need to. You don’t ever need to, if you don’t want to. You’ll still have heat cycles, but now that you’ve been claimed, you’ll be strong enough to handle it on your own. You don’t – you won’t need me at all.”

There was that little tremor of anxiety again, just an echo, because it was Derek’s this time, not Stiles’.

His eyes widen. “That’s why you’re afraid,” he breathes. “Because you think I don’t need you.”

Derek pulls away, standing up, retreating to the stove, even though there’s nothing cooking anymore. “You don’t,” he says, and if Stiles couldn’t feel that shaky concern growing stronger, he’d have thought Derek was totally fine with what he was saying. “With my mark, you’ll be safe from other wolves. They won’t be drawn to you the way they were. You’re strong enough to deal with the heats on your own, or with… someone else. You’re free.”

Stiles stands up, hesitating only a moment before stepping closer. “You’re forgetting the part where I told you I was in love with you.”

Derek shakes his head. “That was the instinct, and it’s been satisfied. Anything you feel now is just the bond. It’s not real.”

There’s a sharp twinge of pain echoing in Stiles now, like Derek’s breaking his own damned heart.

“You’re not listening,” Stiles says, coming closer. Derek tries to back up but the stove is at his back, so he crosses his arms over his chest and tries to scowl instead. “When I told you that I wanted it to be you, I meant… forever. Like, dating. Which I’ve wanted for a really fucking long time. I’m pretty sure this omega bullshit wouldn’t have happened in someone who wasn’t absolutely okay with being your…” he shrugs. “Soulmate. Or whatever. And I am. I’m over the moon, Derek. So… so if you want me to be with you, I want to be with you.”

“But school,” Derek argues weakly. “You’ll go away and meet new people and I can’t—”

“Not too far away,” Stiles tells him. “I can come home on weekends, or you can come there. And if we can’t see each other, phone sex is totally a thing. A hot thing. Or, ooh, Skype sex, Derek. Think of the possibilities.”

“But—”

Stiles shakes his head. He reaches up, smoothing the places where Derek’s clearly been running anxious fingers through his hair. Then he lets his fingertips trail down, over his cheekbone, letting his thumb drag across Derek’s lower lip.

“Do you want to be with me?” he asks, quiet. “And remember – I can tell when you lie.”

Still, Derek hesitates, eyes wide and dark. “Yeah,” he says finally, like he can’t help it, and Stiles beams at him.

“Yeah,” he says. “We can date. Movies and coffees and awkward dinners with my dad. And maybe, one day far, far away, when it’s not too weird – it might always be too weird – a… family?”

“Yeah,” Derek says again, more sure this time. “Yes, all of it.”

Stiles can feel it now, a fragile, bright sort of happiness chasing away all of Derek’s uncertainty, and it makes him smile so widely, his cheeks hurt.

“Come have breakfast with me,” he says, taking Derek’s hand and tugging. “I can’t eat all this. And then maybe we can have the morning sex we were supposed to have but you panicked and ran away from.”

“I didn’t panic,” Derek argues, but he lets Stiles drag him to the table. “I was giving you space. Respecting your boundaries.”

“Because you love me,” Stiles says smugly.

Derek sighs but doesn’t argue, which is practically the same thing, and Stiles is totally willing to accept – “Because I love you,” Derek echoes finally, with a scowl, but Stiles can totally feel how happy he is.

“You totally do!” Stiles cries, beaming, and then he forgets about breakfast all together, hopping into Derek’s arms, clinging to his shoulders while Derek grunts and catches him, hands on Stiles’ ass while he wraps his legs around Derek’s hips.

Stiles kisses him happily, smug in the knowledge that Derek will never be able to hide his true feelings again.

The End.