Derek clenched and unclenched his fists over and over. He wasn’t even aware he was doing it until his mother reached out and touched his arm with a smile. “Relax, Derek. It’s almost time.”
Derek tried to relax as his mother ran a comforting hand down his arm. Sunset was in just a few minutes, and then there was only around half an hour after that til moon rise. Derek could feel the buzzing just beneath his skin, could already smell Stiles’ scent in the air. It made his fangs push against his gums, his claws ache to come out. He wanted to take off now, let his instincts lead him to his mate, reunite with him and claim him finally as his own. It had been so long since Derek had seen Stiles, his entire body was aching and longing, his wolf whining and uneasy from the separation.
(It had been three days.)
“Are you nervous? Excited?” his mother asked him.
“A bit of both, I guess.”
She squeezed his arm. “Don’t worry. It won’t be long before you’re with Stiles again. It’s exciting. Things’ll never be the same after tonight. You and Stiles are starting a long life together. I’m so happy for you, and that it’s Stiles.” Derek ducked his head and smiled.
“I remember the mating run with your father like it was yesterday,” she reminisced. “I remember standing here like you, beside my own father, my entire body nearly burning with the need to find and claim your father.”
“Mo-om!” Derek groaned. He was a werewolf; sex and modesty weren’t really things that bothered him. But there are some things, like thinking about his parents claiming each other, that weren’t really the thing he wanted to think about when he was about to go claim his own mate.
His mother chuckled. “Enjoy it, Derek. The hunt, the chase, the anticipation. I know you want to get to Stiles as soon as possible, but the mating run only happens once in your life. You’ll find him soon enough, and then you’ll spend all night claiming him.” Derek blushed up to his hairline as his mother watched him with a knowing, mischievous smirk.
“Are you going to embarrass Laura and Cora this much when they do their own mating run?” Derek asked.
“Oh, definitely. It’s part of the fun.”
The minutes dragged on as Derek watched the moon rise. He could already smell Stiles’ faint scent on the air, and his eyes had a faint electric blue glow as he leaned against the hood of the Camaro.
Derek’s mother grabbed Derek’s hand and squeezed it. “It’s time.” Derek couldn’t help the growl that started deep in his chest. His mother turned to him and placed a leather cord around his neck. Two matching silver bands with a triskele engraved into the side hung on it. The mating bands.
She looked him in the eyes, her gaze a bright red, and smiled. “With the rising of the full moon on this November day, and as Alpha of the Hales and the Beacon Hills territory, I declare the start of this mating run. Derek,” she paused and kissed him on the cheek. “Go find your Stiles.”
His mother let go of his hands and Derek grinned at her before throwing his head back and howling. Finally. He got into the Camaro, rolled down the window, and started following the scent.
He drove away from the Hale house, off the property and towards town. Mating runs used to be done through the woods, the wolves chasing each other or their human mates until they ended up claiming each other in the woods. The last few generations changed things. His grandmother just waited at a restaurant for his grandfather, and his cousin chased his mate all the way to Iceland. Some of his relatives still liked to do a traditional woods run, but Stiles told him, “Dude, I’m not running through the woods when I’m not running for my life. I’d like to be well rested for our mating night, if you get my drift.” Then he’d winked suggestively and tackled Derek back to the bed.
The first place that Stiles’ scent led Derek made him laugh. He should have known, even without the scent trail. The bookstore where they’d met a few years ago, at a book club meeting Derek had gone to when he’d spent a year reading classics. The meeting was for Treasure Island, and Derek had been eager to discuss it.
But there’d been a guy there who was the most annoying person in the world. He talked constantly, mainly about how much he loved the book and how awesome pirates were. “I mean, it’s like a farce! Were we really supposed to believe those guys didn’t know that Long John Silver was the cook? It’s like, watch out for the guy with the peg leg! But here comes a dude with a peg leg who’s a cook all of a sudden, wanting to go look for the treasure! I was literally laughing out loud.”
Derek was irritated at first, but the longer the guy went on about the comical elements, the more Derek started to soften. By the end, he was even smiling and chuckling to himself.
After the meeting, the man came up to Derek and said, “Dude, did you really want to seriously discuss Treasure Island? Like, a lit class? You do realize we were in that meeting with a bunch of grannies? Awesome grannies who totally love pirates, but I don’t think they would care about, what was it? The futility of desire or the motif of solitude? Like, did you really think about that when you read? I was just like, whoa these are some fucking awesome pirates, yo.”
Derek had been miffed and a bit taken aback at his response and had turned to go, but then the guy said, “You know, we could discuss that motif of solitude or whatever other Englishy, literary, pretentious thing you want to talk about. I was thinking over coffee.”
Derek had just stared at him in surprise. People hit on him often, but it usually had something to do with his looks or sex. No one had ever offered to talk about a fucking nineteenth century book about pirates over coffee before. Then Derek really looked at the guy. Tall, thin but with surprising definition in his arms and shoulders, hair sticking up in multiple directions from having long fingers run through it too often, and bright eyes that Derek could easily see himself falling into.
“Yeah, okay. If you’re buying.”
The guy smiled. “I think I can handle that.”
Derek stared at the bookstore from a parking spot right in front of it, and couldn’t believe that a stupid book had brought them together. And now here he was, on his mating run to find him.
Inside, Derek found Boyd waiting just where he thought he’d be – in the classics section, right beside Treasure Island. Boyd grinned when Derek approached, and said, “Thought you weren’t gonna show.”
“Trying not to get arrested for speeding before I get to him,” Derek said. “Gotta keep Stiles’ father out of this. Just wait until your mating run with Erica. We’ll see if you’re as smug then.”
Boyd laughed as he handed Derek an old, worn copy of Treasure Island. Derek opened the front flap to read the inscription, written in Stiles’ hand, and then was out of the bookstore with a quick goodbye to Boyd, book still clutched in his hand.
The next stop was Laura’s coffee shop three streets over. As soon as Derek entered, he could smell Stiles’ scent even over the rich aroma of coffee.
Their first date had been at a coffee shop that no longer existed. But they’d been on so many dates to Laura’s coffee shop that Derek wasn’t a bit surprised it was part of the run. He glanced over at the corner chairs, where they spent most of their time.
He remembered the first time he ordered for Stiles, when Stiles was distracted on his computer as he finished up a paper for one of his grad classes. It was Thanksgiving break, and he’d wanted to finish it so they could “go home and fuck their way through black Friday while everyone else wasted money on a capitalistic racket.” Derek offered to buy him coffee to help him get finished faster.
Derek’s order was always simple, a hazelnut coffee with milk, but Stiles liked one of those coffees Derek thought were only a tv fabrication. He blamed Laura for enabling Stiles, really. And when he went up to the counter, a new high school kid working instead of his sister, so Derek had to remember the ridiculous order.
He set the cup beside Stiles’ elbow and sat down to read his book. Fifteen minutes later, Stiles muttered, “Well, fuck me.” Derek glanced up to find Stiles looking at him, mouth hanging open. “You know my coffee order.”
“Barely,” Derek said. “I couldn’t remember if it had almond or vanilla, and – oof!” Derek was cut off when Stiles lunged across the empty space between them and flopped on his body to kiss him. The kiss was more intense and eager than Derek was completely comfortable with in a public space, but he found himself kissing back anyway.
“I love you, too,” Stiles whispered against his mouth, then kissed him again before sitting back down in front of his computer. Derek picked his book up, ridiculous smile on his face.
When Derek approached the counter, Laura was waiting on him behind it, holding a lacrosse jersey with a number 24. “Go get ‘em, Derek.” Derek grabbed the jersey, kissed his sister on the cheek, and ran back to the car.
Stiles liked to tease Derek that lacrosse was a better sport than basketball. “You played basketball, how boring is that? God, that’s the worst sport ever. Lacrosse is far superior.” Derek let Stiles ramble about lacrosse, mainly because he didn’t care one way or another.
“Baseball is better than both,” Derek said simply after Stiles stopped talking.
“That’s a given,” Stiles replied. “How have we not talked about baseball yet? We’ve been dating for months.”
“Spring training just started. It wasn’t baseball season until now.”
“I know. I have this dream that one year, I’ll get to go see the Mets during pre-season.”
“Stop the car!” Stiles shouted. “If you hate the Mets, just stop the car right now and I’ll get out and walk home. I cannot interact with a Mets hater.”
For their second Christmas together, Derek bought him and Stiles a Mets spring training ticket bundle that included meet and greets and a breakfast with the team. He thought Stiles was going to pass out, but he cried instead and gave Derek probably the best blowjob he’d ever gotten.
When Derek opened the door of the car at the school, the air was heavy with Stiles’ scent. He didn’t know if Stiles had been here recently, had rubbed himself on posts, or had peed on something. (Knowing Stiles, he and Scott went around peeing on Beacon Hills High School just for the fun of it.)
Derek ran to the field and found Scott sitting on the bleachers with Isaac, Allison, and Lydia. They grinned as he ran towards them.
“This is so exciting!” Allison exclaimed, clapping her hands.
“You’re making good time,” Lydia said as she checked her phone. “Faster than Stiles predicted. I told him he underestimated how much you wanted to get to him.”
Derek didn’t care enough to blush because they knew where the mating run was leading. Stiles’ scent was so thick right here, like he’d rubbed himself on each of his friends, and rolled around in the grass. Which he probably did. Then Derek started thinking about Stiles rolling around in the grass, naked, and he only came back to himself when he heard the others talking.
“Earth to Derek,” Scott said.
“His eyes are much bluer than they were,” Lydia stated.
“And he’s wolfed out,” Allison added.
“I’m more concerned about the fact that he’s half hard in his pants,” Isaac said.
“It’s natural,” Lydia said. “You can’t imagine how difficult this is for him.”
“I’m surprised he’s not humping the bleachers where Stiles was sitting, honestly,” Scott said.
“Better get a hold of himself before he goes to see the sheriff,” Isaac said.
“Dude! You’re not supposed to tell him the next stop!” Scott frowned as he handed Derek a blank speeding ticket. “Here’s your clue anyway.”
Derek grabbed it and ran back to the car, the others catcalling and yelling behind him. If the next stop was to see the sheriff, that meant it was the last one before he finally got to Stiles.
The inside of his car made it difficult for Derek to concentrate or even breathe. Everything smelled so much like Stiles. The book, the jersey, the scent of Stiles outside and inside of the car. Derek felt like he was going out of his mind. He just wanted to take off running in any direction until he found him, but he knew that would take much longer than using the clues. His mother had told him to enjoy the mating run, but it was almost impossible when he felt like he was going to crawl out of his skin if he didn’t find his mate soon. He glanced at his crotch, and Isaac hadn’t been lying. Derek was half hard in his pants. Dammit, he should have worn something looser.
He barely registered the ride to Stiles’ house. He parked in the driveway behind the cruiser and ran to the porch. The sheriff opened the door before he took the last step. “Derek.”
The sheriff smiled and stepped aside to let Derek inside. Which was torture. Stiles’ scent was all around him, thick and heavy. He could taste Stiles on his tongue, and his fingers itched to touch.
“It’ll be all right, son,” the sheriff said, touching Derek’s shoulder. Derek hadn’t realized until then that he’d been whining. “Just a little longer, and then you’re stuck with him forever.” The sheriff gave him a smirk, but Derek knew just how happy he was for them.
“I didn’t think it’d be this difficult to be away from him.”
“Remember this when you’re both yelling and slamming doors.”
“We do that already.” Derek smiled.
“Do you have the rings?” the sheriff asked, and Derek reached beneath the collar of his shirt and pulled out the strand of leather. The sheriff nodded in approval. “I’m so happy for you both. I wouldn’t trust anyone else to take care of him.”
“I know. I love him, and I’ll always take care of him.”
“I know that.” The sheriff placed a hand on Derek’s shoulder and squeezed. “Welcome to the family.” Then, he gave Derek a piece of a paper with directions on it. “Go find him. He’s waiting for you.”
Derek took a deep breath, his nostrils filled with Stiles, and then ran back to the Camaro. The directions took him back to the Preserve, not far from where he started. He drove his car as far as he could, then got out and ran the rest of the way by instinct. His body could feel the pull of the bond, so close now, and his nose was filled with Stiles’ scent hanging in the air. When he got closer, he was able to hone immediately onto Stiles’ erratic heartbeat, beating slightly fast, but mostly calm. Waiting.
Waiting for Derek.
That thought made Derek lift his face to the sky and howl. His mate was close and waiting for him. He couldn’t be happier than this moment.
Finally, Derek broke the treeline to find a small cabin nestled between trees. It was almost hidden if you didn’t know it was there. Unmistakably, Stiles was inside. Derek could hear the creak of the bed as Stiles jiggled his leg nervously.
Derek felt like he could breathe again.
He forced himself to go slow as he walked towards the cabin, up the few steps, and across the porch. He paused, listening to Stiles on the other side of the door. Stiles knew he was there, his scent changed and emanating so strongly that it filled the forest air. Stiles smelled excited and joyous now that Derek was close.
Mine, Derek thought as he opened the door. Stiles was seated on the edge of the bed. When he saw Derek, his face broke into the most beautiful smile.
“Took you long enough,” Stiles said, standing as Derek rushed towards him and lifted him into his arms. Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck and kissed him deeply. “I thought you’d never find me.”
“It hasn’t been that long,” Derek protested between kisses.
Derek set Stiles back onto the floor and yanked the leather from around his neck. He dropped the two rings into his hand, and watched as Stiles took one, and then he took the other. Derek lifted Stiles’ hand and slid the ring onto his finger. “With this ring, you pledge to be mine forever.”
Stiles did the same to Derek, saying, “With this ring, you pledge to be mine forever.”
“Mine,” Derek growled, his eyes burning as he shifted, the metal burning his skin like a brand. He was Stiles’ and Stiles was his. “Mine.”
“I’m yours,” Stiles breathed against him. He bared his neck and whispered, “Claim me.”
Derek growled before leaning forward and biting down.
Later, Stiles told Derek how he’d spent the last day preparing the small cottage for their mating. “I know we’re supposed to be here for three days, so I hope we’ll do something other than have sex. I worked really hard on fixing this cottage up for us!”
“It looks wonderful,” Derek mumbled against Stiles’ belly where he was licking and nibbling.
“You haven’t looked at it at all,” Stiles said flatly.
“I will, I promise.”
“I even lit candles!”
“You’re perfect,” Derek said before trailing a line of kisses lower.
They’d have three days to check out the cabin before the Pack came to see them as the last part of the ritual. Derek wasn’t thinking about that right now. They’d only been together for half an hour, and they had three long days to be together. Stiles had a bite on his neck and an assortment of bruises sucked into his skin, but they were just getting started. Derek had plans still.
Derek grinned against Stiles’ skin as Stiles said, “I love you,” his fingers carding through Derek’s hair.
Derek pushed up so they were eye to eye, stared at Stiles’ face, and couldn’t believe his luck, that this man was his. “I love you, too. Forever.”
“Forever,” Stiles said, then pulled Derek down for a kiss.