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It’s been all of sixteen hours since Derek was last in the preserve, but it seems different in the daylight hours, less like something’s going to jump out and slash him to pieces. It’s the only reason that he let Cora talk him into coming out here to look for the second half of the John Doe, which she had supposedly found the night before, when he and mom and everyone else were on the other side of it.

She’d been quiet about it, which was unlike her, waiting for mom to go back into work before she’d dragged him to the side and confessed that she knew she wasn’t supposed to listen in on him and mom, but she had, and that she’d found the body, and don’t you think I should take you there?

What he should have done was call mom the second she’d said something. Instead, he’d let her drag him out here, out of uniform, with just a cell phone and a gun for backup.

“It should have been somewhere around here,” she’s saying, pacing the line of trees to their right. She’s running her hands through her hair and biting her lip, which is more up in arms than he’s seen her for awhile.

He’s about to tell her to calm down, that it’ll be fine, and maybe tiptoe around asking her if she’d imagined it when a voice calls from their left, “Ugh, what part of private property do you fuckers not seem to understand?”

His head snaps up, away from the remnants of vomit plastered across some leaves, and blinks.

He hasn’t seen the younger Stilinski since the fire, but he recognizes him now, the familiar tilt of his mouth and the bright eyes he’d inherited from his mother. He’s not twelve anymore, that’s for sure. It’s been five years since the fire, so Derek knows that, but seeing it is different. Seeing him, the boy who’d disappeared with Scott McCall after the fire took both of their families from them, is completely different.

“Seriously, do I need to put up more signs? I know there’s one down by the road, so if you want to find a place to get some, trust me, this is not the place.”

“Ugh,” Cora says, wrinkling her nose. “He’s my brother.”

The boy — Stiles, unless he’s back to going by the completely unpronounceable name that’s on his birth certificate — scoffs and squints at them, shoulders back as he crosses the clearing to come stand before them. “I don’t care, trespassing is still trespassing, mi amigos.”

Derek snorts, yanking his wallet from his pants so he can flash Stiles his badge. “Deputy Hale,” he says shortly, yanking Cora closer to him when it seems like she’s about to get into Stiles face about this. “I don’t know if you’re aware, but there was a body found here last night.”

Stiles blinks at him, then narrows them shrewdly. “Lie,” he crows, dancing a little closer. “There was half a body found a good fifteen miles away from here, so if you please—”

“My sister says that she found the other half here last night,” he cuts the boy off with a narrow look of his own. “And furthermore, this property was seized by the county a good year and a half ago when nobody could track you down to see if you still claimed it as your own.”

Stiles raises an eyebrow at him, gesturing around them with a sweep of his hands. “This part of the preserve has been ours for a century and a half, dude. It’s my property. I don’t give two shits what the county has to say about it.”

Unsubtle, Derek grinds his teeth. “Well, in that case, I don’t suppose you’ve seen half of a body on your property recently?”

Stiles hums, making a show of considering it, then flashes them both a huge grin. “Nope, can’t say I have.”

“But—” Cora starts.

“Now, Hale one and two,” Stiles interrupts, grin tipping over from toothy to almost threatening. “If you don’t have a warrant, kindly fuck off.”

Beside him, Cora erupts into furious protests, but Derek is busy examining the dirt on the boy’s hands and knees, the twigs caught in his hair. “Where have you been this whole time, anyway?” he asks abruptly. “The county kind of exploded when two minors disappeared right out from under their noses.”

Derek’s mom, who hadn’t even been sheriff until Stiles’ father had been lost to the fire, had gone absolutely crazy, putting together a manhunt that had lasted months, until they’d finally had to give it up. Somewhere, the face in front of him is still on his fair share of amber alerts.

Stiles cocks his head curiously and studies Derek with those shrewd, too perceptive eyes. He doesn’t say anything for a long time, then he grins again, slower and less toothy. “I’m good at disappearing,” he says, and just the way he says it, it sounds like a promise. “Now get off my land.”

.

They find the other half of the body two days later, the morning after Cora goes out and digs it up right outside the old Stilinski-McCall house.

She tells them about it over breakfast, a grin on her lips and wiggles her phone across the table at them over a plate of eggs, the screen displaying the gruesome remains of a boy with dark hair and blank, staring eyes.

“Dammit Cora,” he hisses as their mother lunges to her feet, already reaching for her cellphone.

Two hours later, they’re shoving Stiles into the back of Derek’s cruiser and bagging up the remains to be taken to the morgue. It’s a mostly quiet drive back to the station, just the static over the radio and the sound of Stiles shifting in the backseat.

“So,” Derek says, after they break free of the preserve. They’re maybe ten minutes away from the station. “Who is it? The John Doe?”

He’s not really expecting an answer, so he’s surprised when Stiles snorts in the backseat. When Derek looks at him in the rear view, the boy has curled into himself, knees pulled onto the seat indian style, arms still cuffed behind his back. He looks — he looks not okay, is what he looks like. He looks like a hurt teenager, not a serial killer.

“Should you really be asking me that, Deputy Hale?” Stiles mutters into his knees, voice strangely weak, for someone who spent the last thirty minutes mouthing off to the people arresting him.

“I’m not afraid of you,” he says, before he can stop himself, glancing quickly at the road before returning the majority of his attention to the rearview. Stiles eyes him in the mirror, eyes almost gold and intense enough to make a shiver go down his spine.

He leans forward, closer to the grate between them, until he’s right next to Derek’s ear, breath upsetting the short hairs closest to him. “Maybe you should be,” he whispers, and Derek jolts like he’s been hit.

He returns his attention to the road, ignoring Stiles slumping back into his seat, so he almost misses the quiet voice from behind him.

“Scott McCall,” Stiles says, his voice wavering shakily. Derek looks at him, eyes wide, and Stiles meets them firmly in the mirror as he says. “Someone killed my brother and I mean to find out who the fuck did it. Nobody’s going to stop me, not even you.”

.

Back before the fire, the relationship between the Stilinskis and the McCalls were discussed pretty frequently. It was odd, having two families living in the same house, so rumors spread like wildfire, ranging from swingers to mormons.

They were good people though, good enough that Mr. Stilinski had been voted almost unanimously into office. Mrs. Stilinski was everyone’s favorite music teacher at the elementary school and her days doing storytime at the local library were always packed with almost every kid in the county. Mrs. McCall was a sweet, albeit fierce woman that Derek had only seen once or twice when Laura had broken her leg and needed to go to the hospital. And Mr. McCall was… well, they didn’t see him much because he was almost always away for work, but he wasn’t too bad.

Stiles and Scott had been raised as brothers, even if they weren’t actually related. They were family, and while Derek hadn’t been a deputy back then, he remembers the way that two soot-covered twelve year olds had sat on their couch, shell-shocked and blank-eyed.

So he isn’t exactly surprised that it takes all of an hour of questioning before his mom lets Stiles go with a firm ruffle of his hair and a demand that he come to dinner sometime before he vanishes into the ether again.

Stiles had given her a crooked smile and said, “With all due respect, Sheriff Hale, my brother was just murdered. I’m not going anywhere just yet.”

Derek had followed him out to the parking lot, because his mother would have killed him if he hadn’t, and stopped when Stiles did, just outside the station. He blinks when Stiles yanks a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lights one, smoke curling into the air between them.

When he sees the look that Derek is giving him, Stiles smirks, rolling his back against the brick of the building so that he’s properly facing Derek. He takes another deep drag, the ember flaring red, and breathes out slowly, smirk still on his face. “Trust me, dude,” he says. “These won’t be what kill me.”

Derek opens his mouth, shifting uneasily, but Stiles smiles at him again, and says, “I need to have a conversation with your sister. Any idea where she is this time of day?”

Derek gives him a flat look. “School. Where all the other seventeen year olds are.”

Stiles snorts. “School, huh? Maybe I should enroll myself.”

“Have you been going to school?” Derek asks, surprised.

“Not as Stiles Stilinski, but yeah, I’ve gotten in some schooling here and there.” He pauses, and considers Derek for another moment as the cigarette smolders away in his hands. He brings it to his lips and inhales absently, still watching him.

“What?”

Stiles bites his lip. “You should come with me. She’ll need someone—” He cuts himself off. “So how about it? Come with me and pull your sister out of school?”

Derek stares at him. “I’m on duty.”

“Please,” Stiles scoffs. “Like your mother wouldn’t let you off the hook the second you said you were taking the traumatized teenager home.”

Derek hesitates, glancing from Stiles to the door of the station, then back again.

“C’mon, please,” Stiles coaxes, pushing away from the wall and up into Derek’s personal space. This close, Derek could probably count the moles that dot his skin. “I promise that I’ll explain everything the second we get Cora.”

“Does this have anything to do with how weird she’s been acting?”

Stiles nods at him, flicking the cigarette so that it goes flying into the parking lot, lost amongst the cars.

Derek sighs. “Fine.”

.

“You’re telling me,” Cora says. “That I’m a werewolf. That werewolves exist and that the thing that bit me the other day was some kind of rogue?”

They’re clustered around Cora’s bed, which Stiles had flopped onto the second they’d gotten into her room. He wriggles a little, punching at the pillow until Cora’s hand reaches out and stops him. He grins.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” he shrugs.

“And you expect us to just believe you?” Derek says, giving him a dubious look.

Stiles shrugs again, flailing a hand in Cora’s general direction. “The bite went away, right? And you’ve been having issues with your hearing. It’s always hearing and smell that manifests first, after the healing of course.”

Derek glances at Cora, but she’s just toying with the hem of her t-shirt, fingers pressing to her skin beneath.

“That still doesn’t mean I’m a werewolf,” she says. “There’s got to be another explanation that isn’t so—”

“Crazy?” Stiles cuts in, treating them both to another too wide, toothy grin.

Cora nods, slumping back into her computer chair. “Yeah.”

Sighing, Stiles pushes himself up, scooting back until his back is pressed up against Cora’s pillows. As Derek watches, he folds his legs up under himself, both hands going to his knees.

“I’m going to explain this once, okay?” he says, and when both he and Cora nods, Stiles takes a deep breath. “Five years ago, Scott and I were at school. Our house caught fire. Eleven people were trapped inside. Eight of them were werewolves.”

Stiles exhales slowly, hands trembling when he brings them to his face. “One of those eight was my dad. When he died, his power as alpha passed to Scott. It should have passed to me, we — Scott and I — we always figured that’s how it was going to happen, but it didn’t. Our entire family, our entire pack died screaming in agony. My mom and dad, my grandpa, my cousins. Scott’s mom, his aunt and uncle, then his dad... Well. You know what happened to Rafe. Everyone does, but the point is that everyone died. Except for the two of us. We were twelve years old, man, and he— Scott was never going to be able to control the alpha shift. No way. So when you guys were distracted, I got us out.”

He swallows. “It was pretty touch and go for awhile. It’s not easy to get two minors across state lines without being detected, but we did it. I got us out and we managed to get to New York, where there was another pack waiting. They helped us, a little, but it mostly me and Scott. I helped him learn how to control it and it wasn’t easy, but we made it work.”

“Three weeks ago, something showed up on the Beacon Hills website. A deer, with a spiral on it, you remember, right?”

He waits for Derek to nod, then shuffles, drumming his fingers against his knee cap. “That mark stands for revenge among our kind, so Scott — Scott decided to come back without me. He said it wasn’t important, that he didn’t need his second to do this, and I believed him. He’d gotten a hold of the alpha thing. He was strong. I didn’t even worry about it until he didn’t check in last week.”

“Then when you got here, you found him,” Cora says softly.

Stiles’ knuckles go white. “Then I found him. I wasn’t really thinking, I just knew that I needed to protect him, get him in the ground before the wolf that killed him came back.”

“How’d you know it was another werewolf?” Derek asks, settling down onto the edge of the bed. There’s a foot or so between them, but he has the unnerving urge to set his hands on Stiles’ knee, to comfort him any way he can.

Stiles shudders and for the first time, flashes gleaming gold eyes in his direction. “My eyes aren’t red, dude. If Scott had gotten his dumbass killed by some bear or a couple hunters, I would have been alpha. But I’m not, which means that some fucking wolf ripped my best friend in half.”

He’s snarling, a bit, teeth too big and too sharp to be entirely normal, and Derek isn’t entirely thinking when he gets his hands on him. He just knows that his sister is sitting a couple feet to their right and if Stiles loses it, he doesn’t want Cora to be the one he lunges for.

“How do I fit into all this?” Cora asks carefully, shifting uneasily. When Derek looks up at her, he has to do a double take, because her eyes are just as gold as Stiles’ are.

“You must have found Scott right after, when the alpha was still around.” He shrugs. “It’s pretty intense, when you first go alpha. Scott used to get the urge to bite everyone, every Joe Smo on the fucking subway. We got him past that, but I don’t know.”

“So, what now? What do we do? Do I tell mom? I mean, I should, shouldn’t I?”

Stiles heaves a breath. “Not now. Not yet. Telling your mom would be a bad idea, it would just distract her. Plus, we’ve already got Derek in the know. As for what we do—”

He looks at them, eyes glowing gold in the dim light of the bedroom, and tells them, “We find out who killed my family and we rip their goddamn throat out.”

.

The next few days pass slowly. He goes on patrols, sometimes alone, sometimes with other deputies. He goes home and talks to his family over dinner, then after, he pulls Cora into her room and asks her for updates on how things are going in school.

Stiles had decided against enrolling. “It’s not like I’ve got the time right now,” he’d shrugged when they’d both asked him about it.

Cora tells him about the new girl in school, how she’s made friends with Lydia and that douchebag Whittemore, but since they’re partners in chem class, Cora’s kind of gotten dragged along with her. They’re friends, kind of, and it takes a week for the news to make its way to Stiles.

Stiles is busy pelting lacrosse balls at her, supposedly to help with her control, when she mentions Allison offhandedly, and she’s busy controlling her anger, so she doesn’t notice the way that Stiles goes still.

“Allison Argent?” he asks carefully, and Cora blinks at him.

“Yeah, how’d you know?”

“Fuck,” Stiles hisses, dropping the lacrosse stick like he’s been burnt. He staggers and Derek catches him with a hand to his shoulder, surprised when Stiles relaxes into it for a moment, just a moment, before tensing up again. “Fuck.”

“What?”

“You—” Stiles starts, cutting himself off when his eyes go molten. “You’ve got to be careful around her, okay? The Argents are hunters, they’re the ones who—”

He cuts himself off again with an agonized whine, scrubbing his hands through his hair.

“Just be careful, okay,” he says blankly, and before they can protest, vanishes into the treeline.

“What the hell was that about?” Cora asks after he’s gone. Derek flexes his fingers, feeling the memory of Stiles’ heat beneath them.

“I think we just found out that the fire wasn’t an accident.”

.

He doesn’t see Stiles again for a week and a half, even though Cora assures him that he’s checked in with her after school.

“He’s seemed kind of off,” she’d shrugged, taking a bite of hamburger helper. It’s just them for the night, mom on night shift and Laura visiting Peter in Long Beach for the week, so they spend dinner talking about the Argent girl. Cora’s pretty sure that she doesn’t know anything about her family, but says she’s being careful just in case.

Neither of them see Stiles for two days after that, and when he finally does show up, it’s only to stagger out of the woods and collapse in front of Derek’s cruiser.

“Jesus fuck, Stiles,” Derek hisses, screeching the car to a halt before he can run the kid over. He slams the door behind him, hustling around to the front of the car so he can get a hand cupped behind the kid’s skull. “What the fuck is wrong with you, I could have hit you— holy shit, what the fuck is wrong with you.”

Stiles is reeling, eyes flashing intermittently gold. He’s paler than a sheet of paper and kind of smells like he’s been rolling around in the morgue.

“Derek,” he breathes, nuzzling Derek’s hand happily. His pupils are blown so wide that there’s the smallest ring of gold around them and he looks like he’s on drugs.

“Jesus,” Derek says again, carefully wedging one hand under Stiles’ knees and the other under his shoulders before he lifts. For a werewolf, the kid doesn’t weigh much, so it isn’t all that difficult to wrestle him into the passenger seat of the cruiser and get back in on the driver’s side. Once he’s there, he turns to Stiles again, cupping his face with careful hands. He doesn’t think about how Stiles’ cheekbones feel against the pads of his fingers or the way that Stiles turns into him with a quiet mewl. “What do you need? What happened? What do I do?”

“Got shot,” Stiles murmurs, eyelashes fluttering. “Allison’s aunt. Wolfsbane. Can’t— can’t reach my heart.”

“Fuck.”

“Call Cora. She’s friends with— with whatsherface, right?”

Derek nods, already listening to his phone dial. “What does she need to get?”

“Bullet,” Stiles murmurs. “It should be something fancy, maybe in a box? I don’t know.”

And then he passes out.

“Fuck,” Derek hisses again, just as Cora picks up. “Hey, you’re studying with Allison at her place tonight, right?”

“Yeah?” Cora asks. “Why?”

“Stiles got himself shot. We need some kind of bullet from her aunt, I don’t know, can you—”

“I’m on it,” Cora assures him, and hangs up, leaving him with an unconscious, bleeding minor in his patrol car and no idea what to do about it.

.

Stiles is in and out of consciousness for most of the time that Derek spends driving around nonchalantly, and it isn’t until he starts moaning in pain that Derek pulls up to his house.

It isn’t hard to get Stiles inside. He’s mostly out of it, mumbling deliriously and sweating so much that his skin is slick under Derek’s hands. It makes it slightly harder to get a grip on him long enough to muscle him up the stairs and into Derek’s bedroom, but he does it, rushing for a washcloth as soon as Stiles hits the bed.

“Seriously, please tell me that you’ve got it,” he shouts when Cora ring him up half an hour later. He’s mostly sitting on Stiles to keep him on the bed and there are claws out, digging into his mattress as Derek keeps himself from getting bucked off of Stiles’ hips.

“I’ve got it, I’ve got it, where are you?”

“Home! Now!”

He doesn’t even hang up the phone, just lets it drop to the bed as he leans forward and wraps his hands around Stiles’ wrists, pinning them firmly to the bed. That part isn’t easy at all, because while Derek might outweigh the kid, he’s still human, and Stiles is — Stiles is losing his mind, gnashing his teeth in Derek’s face and trying to get his claws into him.

“What do I do?” he asks desperately, because at this rate, Stiles won’t be conscious enough by the time Cora gets here. “When she gets here, what do I do with the bullet? Come on!”

Stiles roars, whole body shaking. “Break it open. Wolfsbane inside. Burn. Ash in— in me.”

When Cora rushes in fifteen minutes later, Stiles is unconscious and there are black veins fanning out from his arm to his upper chest.

Derek bites his lip and breaks the bullet open.

.

It’s a crappy couple days, after that, starting with two teenagers getting attacked in a video store and ending with him and Cora watching, horrified, as claws punch through Stiles’ chest. Derek tries not to blame Stiles, because it’s not really okay to blame something on a dead man, but he blames it on Stiles. A little bit.

.

“So,” Stiles says from his position on Derek’s bed. “I’m a fugitive now, apparently.”

Derek jumps, spinning to face him with wide eyes. Stiles watches him, slinking to his feet, eyes narrowed as he creeps closer.

“You were dead,” he blurts, shuffling back half a step when Stiles keeps coming, until he’s backed up against his door.

Stiles’ eyes glint dangerously. “So you decided to blame everything on me? Really, dude?”

“Cora—”

Stiles snarls, closing the remaining distance between them and fisting a clawed hand in Derek’s shirt. He slams him back against the door and stars bloom behind Derek’s eyes, the taste of blood in his mouth when his teeth come down on his tongue. “Don’t you dare blame this on your sister,” he hisses.

Derek stares at him, eyes wide when Stiles leans in close, dragging his nose down Derek’s cheek. “What do you want me to say?”

“An apology would be a good place to start,” Stiles tells him, huffing a breath out into space under Derek’s jaw. “C’mon, Derek. I thought we had something special here. Why you gotta throw me to the wolves, man?”

There’s a glint of humor there, somewhere amongst all the anger, and Derek doesn’t know how this happened. He has no fucking idea how he got here, with a seventeen year old boy pinning him to his bedroom door. “I’m sorry,” he gasps, biting down on his lip when one of Stiles’ thighs wedges itself between his legs.

Stiles lets out a sharp bark of laughter, pressing his thigh up and grinding it against Derek’s dick, eyes sparking gold when it twitches. Derek isn’t thinking, he’s barely breathing when Stiles laughs again and sucks a patch of skin into his mouth. He bites, hard enough to hurt, and when Derek just squirms, he breathes, sing-song, “Not good enough.”

He rocks their hips together and Derek almost swallows his tongue, teeth clicking together when Stiles licks a wet stripe up his neck. “What is good enough?”

Stiles pulls back far enough to grin at him and spins them around, walking Derek backwards until the backs of his knees are knocking into his bed. He goes down in a controlled sprawl, licking his lips when Stiles follows him down, happily crawling into his lap.

He gasps again when Stiles grinds into him, rolling his hips against his. “I’d say that this is good enough, wouldn’t you? You fucked me over, so I get to fuck you now. Fair, right?”

“But you’re—”

Stiles snarls, getting a hold of Derek’s wrists and slamming them down over his head. He fumbles with Derek’s zipper with one hand, yanks it down and shoves a hand down his pants, grinning dangerously at the noise Derek makes when he gets a hand around his dick. “I swear to god, if your next words are anything about me being seventeen, I will rip your throat out. With my teeth.”

“Okay,” Derek gasps, shuddering as his hips tip up to meet Stiles’. “Okay. Fair.”

“Now,” Stiles purrs. “Where do you keep your lube?”

.

“Oh my god, you fucked him,” Cora cries the next morning at breakfast, her eyes wide. Thankfully, it’s just them in the house, mom and Laura both having already left for the day.

“I think it’s more that I fucked him,” Stiles says, sauntering into the kitchen wearing a pair of Derek’s boxers and not much else.

“Jesus, I’m gonna be sick,” Cora mutters, wrinkling her nose as she pours herself a bowl of cereal. She seems to be trying her hardest not to breathe through her nose. “Couldn’t you have showered first?”

Derek hadn’t been thinking. He hasn’t done much of that since last night, but this morning, he’d woken up, bleary-eyed with the smell of Stiles’ spunk on his skin, and the memory of Stiles hovering over him, moving inside him, and he’d kind of just blanked out and gone for the coffee.

“No,” he says, bluntly, and takes the box of Cheerios from her. Stiles just laughs.

.

“We should probably tell mom soon,” Cora mentions later, after she’s out of school. They’re sitting in the parking lot of the school, spread out on the hood of Derek’s cruiser with a couple takeout boxes between them and Derek can’t stop thinking about leaving Stiles curled up in his sheets after breakfast. He’ll probably be gone by now, tracking down the alpha, but just the thought of him in Derek’s bed makes his stomach flip-flop.

“Yeah,” he murmurs, taking a quick bite of his pad-thai. “Probably.”

“Hey,” Cora says, nudging him in the ribs with her chopsticks. He grunts and thinks that one of these days, she’s going to actually break one of his bones doing that, now that she’s got supernatural strength on top of her already not inconsiderable muscles. “It’ll get Stiles off the hook, at least.”

He cocks his head at her. Considers. “Yeah, okay.”

.

Unfortunately, they don’t get a chance.

.

“Derek! It’s him, he’s the alpha!”

The shout tears him away from the sight of Rafael McCall standing a few feet away. He glances over his shoulder to where Stiles is skidding up next to the nurse and elbowing her in the face and for the span of half a second, feels overwhelming relief. Then there are claws biting into his side and he’s crumpling as Stiles lunges past him, sending both him and McCall tumbling across the floor.

He sees the way that McCall’s eyes go red, how they’re both snapping teeth and the sound of snarls, and Stiles is shouting, “Derek, run!”

Derek runs.

.

“You just left him there?” Cora snarls.

Derek blinks at her. “He told me to leave. I thought—”

“You had a gun, Derek! Why didn’t you use your gun?”

It wouldn’t have worked. Stiles had told him just how little damage real bullets did against werewolves. It wouldn’t have worked, but it might have slowed McCall down long enough for both of them to get out of there, maybe. Then Stiles wouldn’t be missing.

“We’ll find him,” he says instead, grabbing for Cora’s hand. “We’ll find him.”

.

Cora doesn’t want to go to the school dance, but Allison and Lydia showed up at their house and strong-armed her into it, much to her chagrin.

Allison Argent is a sweet girl with a dimpled smile. She doesn’t seem like a werewolf hunter at all. If anyone seems like a hunter, it’s Lydia Martin, with her poisonously sweet smiles and predatory eyes. He can see why her and Cora were friends in grade school — why it wasn’t too much of a hardship to slip right back into friendship when Allison came along.

It’s Lydia Martin who coerces him into volunteering at the dance since their math teacher came down with something or another last minute, and it’s Lydia Martin who shoves a suit in his hands and tells him to be there at eight.

He goes, because he might as well, which means that he’s the first one on the scene when he realizes that Lydia’s gone missing.

McCall has lost his scars, he realizes, looking at him over Lydia’s body.

“Where is he,” Derek growls, pressing his gun to the center of McCall’s forehead. It won’t do anything, maybe, but it feels better to have it there, to know that at least he could slow him down. “Where’s Stiles?”

McCall tilts his head at him. “Stiles? I haven’t seen him.” His eyes brighten and he croons, “Did you lose your puppy, Deputy Hale?”

Derek scowls at him and tugs Lydia further into his lap, away from the crazy man with the fangs. He stays quiet and hopes that Cora’s managed to sense his distress, that she’s getting backup or something. God, what if she hasn’t even noticed that him and Lydia are missing? But no, her and Allison had come with Lydia, there’s no way they’d miss her.

“No matter,” McCall says with a shrug. “I need your help anyway.”

“And why should I help you?” he barks out, fighting down the urge to pull the trigger.

McCall grins at him, tracing a claw lovingly over Lydia’s ankle. “Because if you come quietly, Deputy Hale, I won’t have to finish what I started with this girl here.”

Derek hesitates, but in the end, there’s nothing he can do. Not if he doesn’t want his sister’s friend to end up a corpse. He goes.

.

Finding Stiles in the ruins of his family’s basement is an accident. He’s strapped up to a car battery and groans like he’s dying when Derek tugs him out of his chains, but he’s alive, eyes fluttering open. He smiles sloppily and raises his hand long enough to drag it across Derek’s cheek.

“You’re here,” Stiles whispers, eyes not focusing properly. “You’re real.”

With all the werewolf stuff, up to and including slamming Derek around like he weighs five pounds and pinning him to the bed like it’s nothing, Derek sometimes forgets that Stiles is just a lonely, seventeen year old kid. And then something like this happens, and Derek remembers.

Derek bites his lip and tugs Stiles up into his lap, pulls him in close and wraps his arms around him. “Shh,” he whispers when the movement makes Stiles whine in pain. “It’s okay, it’s okay. I’m here.”

.

After that, everything happens very, very fast. Cora meets them just outside the tunnels, her eyes bright, and she has just enough time to hiss, “Allison, she was with me, she saw—” before there’s an arrow in her stomach.

Derek stares, staggering when Stiles roars and sends them both stumbling to the ground. It’s a good thing he did too, because there’s another arrow, firmly embedded in Stiles’ shoulder, and then there’s a flash grenade going off and someone hissing, “Stay down, just stay down, Derek, for the love of god—”

Stiles whines when another arrow hits him and it’s that that makes him realize that Stiles is curled up around Derek and his sister, protecting them with his body.

“Nice shot, Allison!” a woman’s voice is crowing. Most of Derek’s vision is obscured by Stiles, but he can just make out blonde hair over his shoulder. “Now, we get to put them down like the dogs they are.”

Allison startles, the cold expression going out of her eyes. “But I thought we were just catching them—” she starts and her aunt laughs and kicks Stiles off of them, ignoring his groan of pain.

“And we did,” she says happily, pulling her shotgun out and tilting it at Stiles. “So now we’re going to kill them.”

She pulls the trigger.

Next to him, Cora screams, clawing at the arrow still in her stomach and once it’s loose, crawling across Derek to get to Stiles. The smell of blood is thick in the air and Stiles— Stiles isn’t moving. His entire abdomen is a mess of gore and Derek can’t think. He’s freezing cold and there’s blood spattered across his face.

He goes for his gun, pulls it out in a daze and angles it at Kate. He feels numb, blank, but her shotgun is pressed up against Stiles’ head now, not even a foot away from Derek’s sister.

“Don’t touch him,” he rasps, pushing himself up. He’s shock-heavy and the world is narrowed down to the flash of Kate’s teeth in the dark and Stiles’ blood spreading out beneath him. “Don’t you fucking touch either of them.”

Kate blinks at him, a smile spreading across her face. “Deputy,” she purrs. “I didn’t expect a human.”

He’s lost track of Allison, but from the way Cora’s looking pleadingly at something just over his shoulder, he can guess where she is. “Take a step back and I’ll arrest you instead of blowing your brains out.”

Kate throws her head back and laughs. “Oh, Deputy,” she chuckles, tears in her eyes. “You’re a hoot and a half. They’re monsters, don’t you know?”

“That’s my sister you’re talking about,” he growls.

“And this one?” Kate asks, nudging Stiles’ head with the tip of her boot.

Derek blinks. He doesn’t even has to think about it. “He’s ours.”

“Oh?” she says, tilting her head curiously. “I get it, y’know. He’s pretty and I’m sure those lips are great at sucking your cock, but he’s—”

There’s a rustle behind them and then a male voice, one that Derek knows. “Put the gun down, Kate.”

Argent. Allison’s father. Derek’s seen him at the station and at Cora’s lacrosse games, but he doesn’t know him well enough to chance lowering his weapon. Not when Stiles and his sister are at risk.

There’s talk about codes and about the fire, but Derek can’t focus on that, not when Cora is digging the bullet out of Stiles’ guts, her claws slick with blood. She lets out a quiet whine when the alpha shows up, but that’s nothing compared to the noise that Allison makes when McCall gets his claws around Kate’s neck.

He doesn’t even watch McCall drag her inside, doesn’t see Allison follow after. He’s too busy rushing to Stiles and Cora’s side, pressing his hands against the wound. “It’s healing,” Cora’s gasping. “It’s healing, I need to go get—”

“Go,” Derek says, nodding at the door. “Get her out. Don’t get killed.”

“Such a sap,” she mutters and lunges for the door.

“I’m not dead, y’know,” Stiles murmurs, eyelashes fluttering against his cheeks. Derek laughs.

“I know, I know, I just—”

“You care,” Stiles coos, a sweet smile crossing his lips. “That’s so nice. Nice doesn’t really happen to me anymore.”

“Yeah, well, stay alive tonight and I’ll bring you home for dinner sometime, yeah?”

Stiles laughs, eyes flickering gold in the shadows, and looks like he wants to say more—

There’s a roar and the sound of gunfire and then Stiles is springing to his feet and growling, yelling over his shoulder at Argent, “Please tell me you’ve got some actual firepower in that bag of tricks,” and Argent is tossing something to him.

Stiles looks at it, hums, and Derek realizes what it is right as Stiles says, “I can work with this.”

“Cora, down!” Derek yells and watches as the bottle arcs up and over her and Allison’s head, shattering across McCall’s shoulders.

The smell of burnt flesh makes him gag, but he joins Argent, unloading his entire clip into McCall’s back as Stiles paces around his burning body, eyes fierce and yellow. The moment the fire goes out, Stiles is springing at him, and Derek — Derek can’t really see much from his position but he can guess.

“You killed your own son, you sick fuck,” Stiles is snarling, his shoulders shaking, and McCall laughs at him.

Laughs and laughs and says, “He was weak.”

“He was your son!” Stiles howls. “My brother! He was all I had left and you—”

He cuts himself off with another anguished snarl, and with a flash of claws, it’s done.

Behind him, Argent shifts uneasily and Derek turns on him, eyes narrowed at the gun he’s got clutched in his hand. “Don’t even think about it,” he growls and Argent blinks at him, but lets the gun drop.

“This isn’t your show anymore,” Cora says once she reaches them, unloading a staggering Allison onto her father. Cora hesitates for a moment when Allison turns wet eyes on her, but Derek can see the moment her spine turns to steel. “I’ll see you in school, Allison.”

The Argents go and Cora slumps against him. For a long while, they just watch Stiles, slumped over McCall’s body, and then Cora presses a kiss to his temple.

“Go to him,” she whispers. “I’ll be waiting at home. It’s about time I had a chat with mom, anyway.”

Derek nods, watching her go quietly.

“I always hated him,” Stiles tells him when Derek reaches him. “Even before this, I hated him. He— he was jealous of my dad. It upset the balance in the pack and he was always hurting Melissa and Scott, when my dad couldn’t see. We kicked him out, y’know? Before the fire. The only reason he was even there that day was because Melissa wanted him to get the rest of his shit.”

Derek doesn’t say anything, because he isn’t stupid. His dad died when he was eight. Condolences, sometimes, makes it hurt worse. He doesn’t want Stiles hurt.

Instead, he drags Stiles gently off of McCall’s body and into his arms. He tilts Stiles chin up with a finger and kisses the trembling line of his neck.

“I hated him,” Stiles sobs and turns, burying his nose in Derek’s chest.

It takes a good half an hour for Stiles to calm himself down, and when he’s finally stopped crying, he turns to Derek, eyes glinting red in the darkness. His mouth trembles a little as he tries to smile, heaving out a shuddery little breath and saying, “I guess I’m the alpha now, huh?”

Derek hums, kissing his neck again. His nose. His cheeks and brow. Then finally his mouth.

“Alpha Stilinski,” he breathes against Stiles’ lips. “Come home with me?”

.

“So, I’m yours, huh?” Stiles asks later, after the most awkward dinner that Derek has ever had with his mother. Ever.

They’re curled up on his bed, Stiles smelling of Derek’s soap, Derek’s shampoo.

“Ours,” he corrects, kissing the top of one pink ear. “You’re ours. Me and Cora. Mom and the rest too, if you want.”

“Yeah?” There’s a grin playing around the edges of Stiles’ mouth, small and pleased.

“You’re pack,” he says simply, shrugging and tightening his grip around Stiles waist. He smiles when Stiles turns in his arms, pressing a soft, happy kiss to his lips. “You’re our alpha.”