“He’s normal,” is the first thing that Wednesday says when she sets eyes on Stiles, still half-hidden behind Derek.
“He’s human,” Derek corrects mildly.
She narrows her eyes at him. “Yeah. A normal human.”
Behind him, Stiles chuckles, and remarks with amusement, “This is the one that you warned may scalp me, isn’t it?”
Wednesday gets that shrewd look in her eyes that Derek usually only sees when she’s contemplating whether or not it would be a good idea to push him into a nest of alligators or weigh him down with bricks and shove him into the lake. She eyes Stiles as if deciding whether or not he’ll float.
“Normal,” Derek snaps, and Wednesday gives him a smug, triumphant look that means he’s played right into her hands. Derek winces, and is forced to admit that he may have possibly made a mistake.
They’re not even all the way into the house before Laura materializes out of a wall beside them, shouting “Boo!”
He doesn’t flinch. Stiles, however, does.
“You can see her?” Derek asks, brows wrinkled in confusion. He turns to blink at Laura. “He couldn’t see you last time.”
“I may have learned some things from Aunt Morticia,” she tells him smugly, leaning in to pinch his ear between two sharp nails. He bats her away, but on the inside, he’s marveling a little that he can touch her now. “Did you know that our great-grandfather is a ghost? He’s still haunting his old place back in Europe.”
When Stiles sets eyes on Derek’s mom, he blurts out, “I’m so glad you aren’t dead.”
His mom raises one dark eyebrow at him, fingers steady as she carefully mixes something hissing and purple with something else that’s tar-like in consistency and bubbling alarmingly.
“Hey,” Laura goes, offended, and Stiles blushes all the way up to his ears.
“Death is a social construct,” his mother says, when she’s done mixing volatile poisons next to the bread cupboard. She’s teasing him — Derek knows that — it may have been years since he’s seen her, but he knows the way that her voice has gone flat, her features set into a perfect poker face.
“Mom,” he growls, rolling his eyes, and she just laughs, throwing her head back and crossing the kitchen to pull him into a hug. She smells like the deadly nightshade in the garden and a bit like smoke, her scent familiar, a tug at his navel that goes pack pack alpha family with heavy finality. It’s easy to hug her back.
She pulls Stiles into the hug a moment later, burrowing her nose in his hair and sniffing obnoxiously when Stiles goes stiff. Derek wonders what she smells on him, if she smells the same things that he does, if she smells Derek, like he’s soaked into Stiles’ skin.
When his dad meanders into the room five minutes later, Derek’s got his face in his hands and Stiles is clustered around a cauldron with his mom and sister. They’re arguing about the various uses of belladonna, and Stiles’ eyes are bright with fascination.
“This was a mistake,” he tells his father, glaring when Laura lets out a loud peal of laughter and collapses backwards so quickly that she goes straight through the floorboards.
Derek’s dad pats him on the arm. “I can tell you’re lying, son.”
Dinner is a trying affair, because Derek spends it paranoid out of his mind that despite his mother’s assurances, something deadly is going to end up on Stiles’ plate.
“This is really good, Mrs. Hale,” Stiles tells her, beaming.
“There’s rat poison in it,” Cora says triumphantly and when Stiles just blinks at her, unphased, she pouts. “You’re no fun at all. Derek, take him back. It’s your right to demand a better model.”
“I don’t really think that relationships work that way, Cora,” he tells her.
On his other side, Laura snorts. “I seem to remember you singing an entirely different tune when Cora was born.”
“Lies,” Derek hisses, and takes another bite.
Wednesday and Pugsley make up for not being able to harm Stiles by going a bit overboard with Derek. The third time that week that he wakes up either drowning or in various pieces around the house, he loses his temper and chucks them into the swamp. In pieces. Weighted down by bricks.
When he gets back, flicking mud from his fingertips, Stiles is with Aunt Morticia in the gardens, peering up at Cleopatra — his auntie’s pride and joy — as she lovingly feeds her yak meatballs.
“Can I feed her?” Stiles is asking, a wide grin on his face, because there is of course no reason to be terrified of a seven-foot-tall man-eating plant. Derek’s boyfriend has no preservation skills at all. He’s surprised to find that it’s horrible.
“Best leave it to those of us who can regrow our appendages if she gets a bit nibbly, darling,” Aunt Morticia tells Stiles with a smile. Then she calls over her shoulder, “And just what have you done with my children, nephew?”
Derek smiles fiercely at her, shaking swamp water out of his hair. “They’re where they belong,” he says loftily. “At the bottom of the swamp.”
Aunt Morticia tsks at him, but when she thinks he isn’t looking, she leans in close to Stiles and whispers, “He learned it all from me.”
“Oh,” comes a voice from the doorway. Derek blinks and cranes his neck so he can see over Cora’s shoulder. It doesn’t work; all he can see from this position is Cora.
“I’m taking anatomy this semester,” Cora tells Stiles without looking away from whatever it is she’s doing. She’s got a sketchbook in her hands and has her face so close to his exposed kidneys that he can feel her breath.
Derek blinks again and Stiles edges slowly into the room, looking green around the gills. Derek winces, remembering a conversation from what feels like a lifetime ago, his own voice hissing, you faint at the sight of blood?
It’s nothing that they haven’t done before, taking turns with the scalpels and the rib spreader and examining what’s inside — they were curious kids, after all — but it isn’t something that Stiles is used to. He hesitates again, ready to tell Stiles that he doesn’t have to be here, that he can go hang out with Laura or his dad, but Stiles is still creeping closer, despite the look on his face that indicates vomit is iminent.
“And you couldn’t look at your textbook like a normal person?” Stiles asks, glancing over her shoulder and staring in morbid fascination.
“It’s not the same,” Cora tells him, wrinkling her nose and poking at his lung, just to see how it’ll move. “It’s easier this way. The cadavers at the morgue smelled bad and Wednesday wouldn’t help me. So Derek volunteered.”
Stiles gives him a squinty-eyed look and frowns, so Derek tries his hand at an apologetic smile.
“Do you want to touch?” Cora asks, finally looking away from her sketch so she can cock her head at Stiles. “It’s pretty neat.”
“Shouldn’t your brother be offering that?”
Cora huffs and looks at him, pointedly widening her eyes. He clears his throat, taking a deep breath, and refuses to acknowledge the way his heart trips over itself when Stiles can’t seem to look away from his inflating lungs.
“You can touch,” he says quietly. “If you want.”
He watches Stiles’ fingers twitch towards him, an aborted move that ends in him biting his lip and hesitating with his hand still outstretched.
“My heart,” Derek says, trying not to blush when Stiles gives him a wide-eyed look of surprise. He clears his throat again and glares when Cora hides a grin behind her sketchbook. “Touch my heart.”
“That would be the sappiest thing you’ve ever said to me if, y’know, I knew you didn’t mean it literally,” Stiles tells him with a lopsided grin, already reaching.
“It’s still pretty sappy,” Cora says, rolling her eyes when Stiles flinches at her voice. “Hell, if you really want some sap, I can cut it out for you.” When Stiles just stares at her, vaguely horrified, she sighs and elaborates. “That way you can tell everyone that you’ve held his heart in your hands.”
“Oh my god, Cora, go away,” Derek groans, shaking his head.
He doesn’t even see her leave, because a moment later, Stiles’ knuckles are brushing against his exposed heart, tentative and shaking, and there’s a small, amazed grin lighting up his face.
“I’m not so sure how I feel about this,” Derek mutters, staring out into the swamp. The alligators seem to be steering clear of them for now, but the snakes are an entirely different story. Stiles is standing at his side in a pair of swim trunks and not much else, skin almost as pale as Wednesday’s.
“C’mon, Derek,” Cora coaxes, just her head visible above the water. “Don’t worry so much.”
“Do you realize how many things could kill him in this swamp?” Derek grits out, and Stiles snorts, flashing him a grin when Derek turns his frown on him.
Wednesday, whom he hadn’t noticed sneaking up on them, pauses at Stiles’ side, and slips her hand into his. Derek stares, surprised, as Wednesday and Stiles exchange a soft, almost affectionate look.
“We’ll protect him,” Wednesday assures him solemnly, fingers squeezing Stiles’. “He’s ours now. We won’t let him get hurt.”
He doesn’t find out what happened to Peter until Laura bursts into the kitchen one day, where Derek and their mother are gathered around the cauldron, and gasps, “Peter’s on the edge of the property. Wednesday’s with him, but—” she cuts off, sending him an anguished look. “Derek, Stiles is out there.”
He sucks in a breath and is out the door before their mother can so much as blink.
When he gets to the large oak that serves as a marker, Peter’s got his teeth around Stiles’ wrist, a horribly amused look in his eye.
“—ope, sorry, buddy. Pretty fond of being human,” Stiles is saying, his heartbeat pounding too fast. Wednesday is at his side, glowering at Peter, her own hands severed at the wrist. He doesn’t have time to wonder where they are, because he’s bursting into the clearing and snarling before Peter gets stupid ideas about biting down whether Stiles wants him to or not.
“You’re lying,” Peter sing-songs, and then Derek is colliding into him, bowling them both over and digging his fangs and claws into all the soft places he can find.
The fight lasts moments before his mother is there, yanking Peter away from him and roaring, her eyes flashing red.
Peter laughs at her, his own eyes flashing red. “My dearest sister-in-law! To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Get off our land, Peter,” his mother snarls, edging backwards so that Wednesday and Derek, but more importantly, Stiles is behind her. “You aren’t welcome here anymore. You gave up that right when you murdered my daughter.”
Peter scoffs. “Laura’s fine.”
“Laura is a ghost. Because you killed her,” Derek snarls, wrapping an arm around Stiles’ waist and tugging him close.
“I only wanted in on the fun,” Peter pouts and Derek — Derek wants nothing more than to rip his uncle apart, split his smug face in half — wants to make it so that Peter can’t scare anyone ever again.
“You killed an alpha without my permission,” his mother says calmly, eyes sparking like embers. “You murdered my daughter, turned a teenage boy against his will, and went on a killing spree in a town where you are supposed to be a corpse. You aren’t welcome here anymore.”
“Fine,” Peter purrs, eyes narrowing. “I can see when I’m not wanted. I merely wanted to come meet the boy that my nephew gave up his family for.”
“I didn’t give up anyone,” Derek snarls and his mother sends him a quick, fond look over her shoulder. Then she’s turning back to Peter, eyes still hard.
“You’ll regret it if you don’t turn that boy, Talia,” Peter remarks, eying Stiles like he’s a slab of meat. “There’s something special about him. And trust me, he wants it. He says he doesn’t, but he’s lying.”
“I don’t want the bite from you,” Stiles says, his own voice hard, heartbeat perfectly steady. “Don’t worry, if I change my mind about being a werewolf, I know exactly who I’m going to go to.”
Peter stares at him for a moment longer, eyebrow quirked and a huge, predatory smile on his lips, and then he just turns and leaves. As simple as that.
It will never be that simple, Derek thinks, staring into the patch of trees that Peter has vanished into. Peter’s always been a little stranger than the rest of them, but something about him has been off — since Laura, since the fire, maybe even before all that. He doesn’t like it one bit.
“Your uncle is a creeper,” Stiles whispers into the silence afterwards, sidestepping heavily into Derek’s space, running a hand down his spine. When his mother nears them, Stiles tips his head back easily, baring his throat without needing to be coaxed into it. Derek watches his mother rub her cheek against his and feels his own heart beat ever so slightly off-kilter.
“He’s always been like that,” Wednesday mutters, shattering the moment as she calmly reattaches her hands.
None of them say anything about the way they huddle around Stiles in a protective shield on the way back. They don’t have to. Stiles is pack now; he’s family. And that’s more than Derek could have ever hoped for.
Their last day there, Stiles cuddles up next to him in the big bed that he used to share with Laura whenever they were over. It’s in the attic, which is thankfully ghoul-free for once, and Stiles’ feet when they press against Derek’s beneath the sheets are absurdly cold.
“Your family is kind of awesome,” he tells Derek in a whisper, kissing his temple distractedly. He sighs happily and snuggles in further. Stiles sleeps the same way that Laura always did. He starfishes across the bed and clings like an octopus whether you let him or not. With Laura, the closeness was nice because they were pack. With Stiles, it’s nice for an entirely different reason, even if he does get elbowed in the face more often than not.
His family has spent the last couple weeks letting Stiles into their life, opening up to him with the ease that Derek had expected. They all loved him, regardless of how normal he was. Even Wednesday, who spends most of her days plotting how to kill people, smiles with genuine affection whenever the two of them spend time together.
Earlier in the afternoon, Uncle Gomez and Aunt Morticia had corralled them both into the dining room and taught them — that is to say, Stiles; Derek has known how since he was six — how to waltz.
“For your wedding, of course, dearest,” Aunt Morticia had said flippantly, waving a hand as Uncle Gomez whirled her around the room.
Stiles had blushed, his entire face going bright red, and Derek had coughed and tugged him closer, eyelashes fluttering with unexpected pleasure when Stiles had peered up at him and given him an adoring grin.
He’d gotten his feet stepped on a good hundred times in the following three hours, but it had been worth it to have Stiles so pliant and relaxed in his arms, even when the rest of the family piled in to watch and then attempt to demonstrate properly when no one could agree on which way was right.
“They’re horrible,” Derek mutters, nosing his way into Stiles’ neck.
Stiles laughs and kisses him again, a real kiss this time, and after several long moments, pulls back, eyes shimmering with mirth, and says, “That’s what I said, isn’t it?”
Three weeks later, Stiles calls him when Derek’s ripping down the old house, piece by piece. It’s three in the afternoon, which means he must have just gotten home from school.
“Your sister sent me a letter,” he tells Derek when he picks up.
Derek blinks and tosses a plank of wood out the window. “Which one?”
“Laura,” Stiles hums, sounding pleased. He’d gotten attached to all of them over the last few weeks, but Derek isn’t blind. Laura’s his favorite. He doesn’t know if it’s because she’s a ghost or if it’s because she’s Laura, but Stiles had taken to her immediately and they’d been practically attached at the hip the entire visit. Derek had pretended that it bothered him, but secretly he was pleased. Laura was kind of his favorite too.
“Ooh, there’s a letter from Cora and Wednesday too! And a post-script from your mom!” Stiles exclaims, and Derek just knows he’s grinning.
“Should I come over there and read them with you?” Derek asks drolly, wrinkling his nose when his wrist accidentally snags on a protruding nail. He scowls and tugs it free.
Stiles makes a negating noise in the back of his throat. A car door slams. “Naw, I’m coming to you. You’re at the house, right?”
Something warm is curling up and taking residence inside his heart. It feels a little like bugs, like the time that Laura cut him open and gave him maggots because she thought it was funny. She hadn’t thought it was very funny a couple days later, when he’d put Horatio’s — Wednesday’s tarantula — entire nest of hatchlings inside her skull. It’s a creeping, crawling sensation that wriggles around and makes itself at home. Morticia knew the name for it the day she walked in on Stiles and Derek arguing about whether or not he was allowed to go see the family’s pet lion.
“Yeah. Be careful though, I’m tossing boards out the window,” he warns, voice inexplicably soft.
“I’ll go the long way around the house,” Stiles assures him and starts the car.
“Look, man, I’m sorry, but he’s gone. Just stop, Stiles. I’m sorry,” Scott’s saying, his voice choked up and painfully earnest.
Stiles scoffs. “Please, I’ve seen Derek survive way worse than this — Derek, use your claws!”
Derek is trying. What kind of creature even has stomach lining this tough? He grimaces, slicing another inch or so into the gash he’s been working on for the last ten minutes. The stomach acid, which is about a hundred times worse than the creature’s venom makes his skin tingle, fire crawling over his flesh like it wants to blister.
Scott makes this quiet, sad noise and goes, “Stiles. My skin still hasn’t grown back from when this thing spit on me last week, there’s no way—”
“Ugh!” Stiles cries, frustrated. “Just help me get him out okay?”
And the thing is, Derek has no idea what Stiles has told the rest of them about Derek. He has no idea if Stiles has told anyone else about his family or how Derek’s not exactly normal. He doesn’t even know what he told them about his and Derek’s trip to his aunt’s earlier that summer, but judging by Scott’s current reaction, Stiles has taken his secrecy incredibly seriously.
Scott must give in, because his ears start picking up the sounds of another pair of claws working away at the other side. They’re not as good as the knife that his aunt gave Stiles, the one covered in various runes that reek of dark magic — a family heirloom, apparently, which, yeah; they loved Stiles — but it makes the job easier.
When Derek finally spills out of the thing’s stomach, he blinks, and tells Stiles, “Don’t touch me, it’ll eat through your flesh.”
Stiles grins at him. “I know that, dumbass,” he says happily and his heart doesn’t stutter on a lie, but he looks like he’s considering hugging Derek anyways.
Eventually, he makes himself tear his eyes away from the blissfully happy smile that Stiles is sporting, and glances over at Scott, who is giving him a wide-eyed look of disbelief.
“You never told him,” Derek whispers, shooting Stiles a shy, besotted look. If Cora were here, she’d probably eviscerate him on principle, just for being so disgusting.
The smiles eases into something more affectionate. Stiles croons, “Of course I didn’t. It wasn’t my secret to tell.”
Derek gives him a small, pleased smile, and wishes that he weren’t actually dripping in acid right now, because the urge to kiss Stiles is immense and mind-numbingly terrifying. It’s amusing, is what it is. “I love you,” he blurts.
That smile just widens, Stiles’ eyes going soft. “I know, dude. You took me to meet your family.”
“Um, guys?” Scott says, still looking between them; he clearly has no idea what’s going on, but Derek isn’t inclined to put him out of his misery just yet. “What’s going on?”
“We’ll tell you later, Scott,” Stiles tells him, flapping a hand dismissively as he tugs the hoodie over his head and starts wiping gook from Derek’s face. The hoodie immediately starts sizzling, but it’ll hold up long enough to wipe his lips clean.
When its done, Stiles kisses him, slow and happy. Derek’s toes curl. After Stiles pulls back, he nuzzles their noses together and breathes, “Love you, too, sourwolf.”
“Do you think my dad would let me have a man-eating plant?” Stiles asks him later that week. He’s got a letter from Aunt Morticia in his hands and has been making little squeaky noises every few seconds, not paying an ounce of attention to the B-list horror movie they’ve got playing in the background.
“No,” Derek says without thinking. Then he blinks. “Why?”
“Cleopatra had babies,” he croons, scooting over so he’s more in Derek’s lap than on the couch cushion.
“I didn’t know she could do that,” Derek says, somewhat horrified.
Stiles kisses him, arms wrapping around his neck. He shuffles a little, moving so that he’s straddling Derek. He shimmies his hips and Derek hisses, because that’s Stiles’ shimmy, the stupid little move he does every time he wants to tell Derek that they should have sex without actually saying that they should have sex.
Derek’s hands go to his waist, tugging him even closer.
“I’m not keeping it for you,” he says when Stiles is popping the button of his jeans open and wriggling his hand into Derek’s pants. “I’m really not.”
“That’s what you think,” Stiles sing-songs, chuckling darkly in Derek’s ear and doing something with his fingers that makes any argument Derek could possibly make fizz out.
“Sometimes I think you’re more Addams than I am,” Derek grinds out through gritted teeth and bucks up into Stiles’ grip.
Stiles laughs again, breathless, and leans in so he can purr into Derek’s ear. “Nah,” he breathes, lashes fluttering against Derek’s skin. “I’m better than an Addams. One day, I’ll be a Hale.”