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Surely It's Impossible

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He was nervous. But he welcomed that feeling, because it wasn't fear. He had felt fear for so long, even before his name was called on that day. He was tired of fear. He welcomed nervousness, because it was a replacement. It was manageable, and for once he had people who calmed his nerves. He had an out. It would not consume him.

"This is going to work." Laura nodded, taking a seat next to Stiles.

The cameras had cut only a couple minutes prior. Stiles had instantly walked off, quickly heading outside, hoping the fresh air would calm him. No one had chased after him, apart from Laura. Most of the Hale's were getting good at giving him space. Derek had been trying his best, even given their recent conversation. Stiles appreciated that.

Laura, on the other hand, had a harder time with boundaries. She constantly wanted to help, to soothe, which Stiles was thankful for, but none the less, sometimes he just needed breathing room. It was hard to escape from a house full of werewolves, many Alphas no less.

Sitting on the back porch, Stiles was calmer now, hands no longer shaking and heart no longer beating as fast. Apparently the fresh air did indeed work, and the fact that his second message, speech, whatever, it was finished. A sigh of relief.

Stiles gave a soft smile towards Laura, who let her hand rest on his shoulder. He relaxed further, closing his eyes and breathing deep. He relished the fact that he didn't feel the need to flinch with an Alpha's hand upon his shoulder, crowding his space. He embraced the change, let it fill him with soft light.

It was a beautiful day, brisk, but the sun was shining, warm on his skin. The breeze was soft, brushing away the crumpled leaves, brown and worn, soon to be covered under a thin layer of snow.

"I've got to make a few calls. Are you going to be okay?" Laura asked, pinching her eyebrows together, trying to read him, to figure him out.

Stiles snorted. "Laura, contrary to popular belief, I'm not preparing to run away. I'll be fine."

Laura smiled, removing her hand and beginning to stand. "I know that, you're in too deep now." She teased with a wink.

Stiles made a face, but he supposed it was true, in whatever sense Laura meant it in. In too deep in this uprising. In too deep with the Hale pack. In too deep with Derek. There was no going back, no other life to return to.

He sat out there for a few more minutes, closing his eyes and soaking up the heat of the sun. He hadn't been away from the Hale house in a few days, no one really had. It was safe here, meaning that Stiles didn't think anyone would be leaving anytime soon.

At least there hadn't seemed to be mass chaos just yet. They would have to wait to see how the Hale's most recent message would be received. People would now know this wasn't just a fluke, or a publicity stunt.

Overall, Stiles thought it went well. Everyone was well spoken, proper, as the Hale's always appeared, but still relatively relaxed. Their image was upheld, yet they spread a calming message, rather than one of fear. Stiles only hoped that it worked. That people would stop feeling the fear. That people would stop spreading the fear.

"Hey." Derek spoke, disrupting Stiles' thoughts.

Stiles turned to look behind him, giving a soft smile to the man behind him. He was leaning against the door frame, head cocked to the side and arms crossed. Ever keeping his distance, ever cautious. Classic Derek.

"Here to tell me the bad news, already?" Stiles turned back around to look at the tree line. The woods looked so much prettier when they were filled with leaves, varying in colors of warmth. Everything was dead now, leaves fallen and branches empty.

Derek took a seat beside Stiles on the steps, leaning away slightly and shaking his head. "You know, I don't always come to speak to you just about political junk."

Stiles looked at Derek, smirking. "Political junk?"

"You know I didn't mean it that way-" Derek began, defensive.

Stiles waved him off. "No, no, I just meant it's kind of strange to see famous and powerful Alpha Derek Hale using phrases like 'political junk.'"

Derek shook his head again, joining Stiles and looking out towards the woods. "You've got to get over this image that you have of me."

Stiles swallowed, looking down at his feet and picking at the skin by his nails.

"I'm trying." He spoke softly. And he was. Everyday things changed for him, little things.

"I know." Derek nudged him with his shoulder, trying to perk him up.

Stiles did want to get to know Derek, the real Derek. He knew it was important for the movement, but. . . he also wanted to just get to know Derek. Who the man was. There was no denying that being a military leader and prominent part of the Hale pack was part of Derek's identity, but Stiles knew there was more. There was so much he still didn't know about the man himself, not just the Alpha side of him.

He had seen it in everyone else. Erica's sass, Laura's care, Isaac's pestering, Boyd's boldness, Cora's attitude, Peter's snark, Talia's motherly aura, but he still felt like he didn't know Derek. He knew they hadn't had long together, practically no time really, not enough to truly get to know someone. They had spent the least amount of time together out of everyone in the Hale pack.

Even so, the constant comparison was there. What other Alpha-Omega couples were doing right now, compared to them. All of them must have completed the mating by now, some may have been married, in whatever fashion they deemed appropriate based on their Sector and traditions they upheld. The women may even be pregnant.

Of course, their differences had to do with what himself and the Hale pack were trying to accomplish, but that didn't mean they could ignore what else was happening. What would happen.

The Mating Run was not made to be temporary. Alphas mated for life.

"Well, the hard part is over, for today." Derek nodded, as though convincing himself. Stiles wondered how hard it was for Derek, to stay here, locked in the Hale house. He wondered if skin itched, wanting to get out and do something, to help. But that feeling would be completely overshadowed by the pure animalistic protectiveness that encased Derek right now, to be near his Omega, to protect him.

Stiles thought about commenting how incredibly wrong Derek was. That everything could go wrong now, that this could only be the beginning of something horrible. Other Sectors could go up in flames, Alphas could riot, Omegas could be shot dead in the streets.

"You've got to stop thinking like that." Derek glared Stiles' way, as though he could read the thoughts swirling in Stiles' mind, like a dark cloud creeping in.

"I didn't say anything." Stiles protested, though it was obvious they both knew what Stiles was thinking.

"It's written all over your face though, your body. And I can smell it." Derek made a face, although the smell was putrid, burning at his nostrils.

"You can't keep thinking the worst is going to happen. I get you're trying to be realistic, but that doesn't mean being pessimistic." Derek spoke.

Stiles just nodded silently. It felt like a scolding, like an Alpha upset with his Omega.

Derek huffed. "I'm sorry, I'm not meaning to sound commanding. . . I just don't want you to be miserable anymore."

Stiles looked at Derek with a bewildered face, but Derek only looked away, looking upset. Is that what Derek thought, that he was miserable?

"I'm not miserable." Stiles stated simply.

Derek didn't say anything. Stiles nudged Derek's shoulder, as was done to him a couple minutes ago. Derek inclined his head towards Stiles, but didn't make eye contact.

"I'm not miserable." He repeated. "It's a lot of pressure, you know? Omega stuff aside, it's a lot of pressure, being involved with the Hale pack, being with you."

Stiles paused, trying to think of the right words. "But I'm not miserable. You've been. . . more than I could have expected, to say the least."

The wealth, the food, the atmosphere. That in itself was something Stiles would never be able to put into words. But the kindness, the warmth, that was another thing entirely.

Stiles would never be able to explain what all of this meant, not properly anyways. He wasn't great at words either, clearly. Guess he had to give Derek some slack as well.

"I want you to be happy." Derek finally looked at Stiles, meeting his gaze.

Stiles had to wonder if Derek meant he wanted Stiles to be happy in general, or happy with him. He didn't believe Derek to be that selfish, but he also couldn't deny that Derek was yearning for Stiles to be with him, the pull growing stronger every day. Whether that was entirely his Alpha side or not, he had yet to figure out.

"I know." Stiles nodded. And he did, he believed Derek, believed the Hales. Their actions, every day, with and without Stiles near, had only further proved the fact that they considered him pack, considered him equal.

"Lunch is ready." Derek stood, heading inside, seemingly avoiding the conversation.

***

Lunch was rather quiet, in comparison to the usual banter and clanging dishes. Stiles looked around, but everyone was just staring down at their plates in silence, as though they were concentrated on the food before them, though none of them were eating.

He sat his own fork down and everyone looked at him. "What, did another Sector burn down?"

The table grew even quieter as everyone stopped picking at their food, forks frozen in place, eyes turning away.

"Holy fuck, did another Sector actually burn down-" Stiles leaned forward, looking to Talia.

"No, Stiles." She smiled softly and looked around at her pack. "We have received word that protests have begun."

Stiles leaned back, licking his lips. As anxiety began to roll off of him, Derek placed his hand on Stiles' knee. It was the most imitate touch they had shared really, but it was also comforting every time Derek did it. Calming, never pressing.

"You seem to have misunderstood, Stiles." Laura spoke up. He looked to her, raising a brow.

"The protest are Omegas, protesting for their rights." Talia finished. Stiles looked at the pack, all smiling at him, almost looking proud.

"And it's- I mean it's peaceful, everyone is okay?" Stiles asked, leaning forward again.

"From what I have seen." John spoke up, nodding. "They're lining the streets in many Sectors, holding posters and such. Some are marching, some are standing outside of predominantly Alpha populated areas, bars and clubs and such."

"And how are the Alphas taking that?" Stiles asked, swallowing. It was up to the Omegas to stand up, to speak out. But it was up the Alphas to decide how they were going to respond.

"The majority have been rather quiet, but many are supportive. Many are marching with them." Laura said. The joy was written all over her face. It was a step in the right direction.

Stiles breathed a sigh of relief, his second one today. He couldn't be foolish, he knew there would be angry Alphas, hell, some angry Omegas. He just hoped it didn't get bloody.

"That's good." Stiles nodded, picking up his fork again, though he was finished eating. Even so, it relaxed the rest of the pack, who continued eating, this time talking casually. It made Stiles falter for a moment, to realized how the pack had followed his movements, not eating when he wasn't eating. As though they could sense his stress and it was somehow affecting them.

Derek gave Stiles' knee a brief squeeze, making him look over at the man. They both smiled, reassuring they were both okay. Stiles had noticed that's how they communicated most often, by touch, by look.

Lunch wrapped up soon, with most of the pack going to relax or find something to entertain them. Boyd went on a supply run, with Erica joining him. His father watched some sport rerun, while Isaac joined on the couch, picking at his nails. Cora went upstairs, presumably to be a mopey teenager, and Laura and her mother went to the office.

"Do you- do you wanna do something?" Stiles asked, turning to Derek before he could second guess himself.

"Uh, sure." Derek spoke, eyebrows raised and a little surprised. "What do you have in mind?"

"Well, I'm assuming you're not going to let me leave the house-"

"Not a chance!" John called from the living room, answering for him. Stiles huffed a sigh and shot a glare at the back of the man's head, envisioning lasers melting his hair away.

Derek's lips twitched in a smile, but he remained quiet, waiting for Stiles' answer.

"Well, do you have any ideas?" Stiles asked, countering.

Derek smirked, taking a step closer and cocking his head to the side, looking at Stiles in a way that had his heart beating quickly in a matter of seconds.

"Not a chance in hell!" John fired quickly, this time turned around and leaning over the back of the couch, facing them both and glaring.

Stiles growled at him, before grabbing Derek's hand and pulling him upstairs. He didn't really realize what he had done until he reached the top of the stairs, but Derek didn't seem to mind that Stiles had literally yanked him around. He let go of Derek's hand and walked into their- Derek's bedroom, shutting the door and flopping down on the bed with a huff.

"I'm starting to go stir crazy." Stiles ran a hand through his hair. He was used to not being in one place for too long. While others on the streets claimed corners and lots as their makeshift home, often acting territorial, Stiles and John had moved around, not sticking around for too long. Even when their home actually had four walls, Stiles would leave often. Whether it be for school, the library, for a coffee, or even just a walk.

"I know, I'm sorry." Derek gave a sympathetic look. Stiles understood his concern. Even if the Hale pack did say he had free rein to do whatever, he doubted that Derek would ever let him leave. Stiles was beginning to see that Derek didn't mean to be controlling, he just wanted Stiles safe. Even so, that didn't mean that Stiles wasn't going to feel suffocated. The kindness was there, but so was the fear that Stiles would be in a bubble forever.

"Well, what if you went with me?" Stiles asked, though he already knew the answer. He sat up slowly, looking at Derek and wringing his fingers together.

"Stiles-" Derek started, looking down and crossing his arms.

"Never mind." Stiles shook his head. He understood, he did, but that didn't mean he liked it.

"I don't like this either. I want to be able to. . . I don't want to keep you trapped here, but I have to keep you safe." Derek sighed quietly. He wanted to make Stiles understand, wanted him to feel what he felt. He had felt the same way, before.

Stiles nodded. "I know." He had found himself saying that a lot recently. Because he did. He understood. He just hated it.

"What do you normally do, when you're at home?" Derek asked, still looking uncomfortable, like he didn't know how to handle Stiles' negative emotions, his frustration.

Stiles shrugged. "I did homework, until I graduated. I read, played video games, hung out with Scott-" Stiles felt a pang, remembering his best friend. He hoped he was okay. Hoped one day he could talk to him, see him, again. Hoped he would be safe in all this.

Derek nodded. "My mother has a lot of books. Afraid I don't have any video games though."

For a moment, Stiles imagined Derek with a headset on and controller in his hands, yelling at the television. He almost mustered up a smile.

"It's cool." Stiles shrugged. This conversation was going no where. It seemed their conversations were either extremely on the surface, or deeper than Stiles would ever want to go. They couldn't seem to just. . . be.

"What do you do?" Stiles asked, crossing his legs. Derek snorted, but finally uncrossed his arms and walked a little closer. Ever since last night, Derek didn't really come near Stiles. He'd touched his knee at lunch, but only for a moment, only to calm Stiles.

"Work, usually." He shrugged.

"Which includes? I mean on a day to day basis." Stiles motioned with his hands, standing up. He felt awkward sitting while the other man stood, looking down at him.

"Usually training the others, checking in on missions, working on new materials." Derek shrugged, like that was an every day, normal job, commanding all of Sector Five and more. Having a hand in controlling the government and being able to start the next world war.

"Do you ever do anything else, besides work all the time?" Stiles asked. The man had to have more to him. Had to give him something.

"Well," Derek looked around, as though he was truly trying to come up with something, anything.

"And it can't have anything to do with work." Stiles crossed his arms, trying to get literally anything out of the Alpha.

"I like to read." Derek spoke simply.

Stiles nodded, waiting for more, but afraid that that was all that he was going to get. At least they had one thing in common.

"Actually," Derek paused. "Laura and I go to the diner on Friday mornings."

"The one we went to?" Stiles asked. "I remember the waitress saying something about that."

Derek smiled. "Yeah she always works Friday's when Laura and I are there."

"Well, that's a start." Stiles huffed. It was something.

"I'm not very good at. . . " Derek motioned between the two of them.

"I can tell. Luckily for the both of us, neither am I." They both laughed and felt more relaxed then. Though strange, it was slightly comforting to know that they both had no idea what they were doing, or how to do this. Though, Stiles suspected that Derek was playing slightly dumb and taking it slow for Stiles' sake, which he appreciated, but. . . he found himself wanting some things slow while desperately wanting other things.

Stiles looked away, out the window and towards the woods once again. Like something was pulling him there.

A few months ago, Stiles wouldn't have stepped foot in the woods. Woods were where Alphas liked to roam, like to be themselves, trade skin for fur. But the woods weren't so scary anymore.

"Walk with me." Derek spoke, breaking the silence. He swallowed, but turned, beckoning Stiles to follow.

***

It had gotten colder, on their walk. The woods were almost silent, apart from the birds above their heads, singing songs and dancing in the trees. Stiles watched them for a moment, twirling around each other and spinning in the air. Their footsteps crunched as they walked, the leaves underfoot a rustic brown color, soon joined by others that fell from the trees as the wind rustled their branches.

The cold bit at Stiles' cheeks, at his nose, no doubt turning the tip of it pink. He huddled in himself, cursing for not getting a coat, while the cold seemed to have no effect on the other man next to him, body heat radiating off like he was actually ablaze.

Stiles thought about the Alpha beside him, as he walked. He was concerned with the current state of things, the world, but he was also concerned with Derek.

His ankle began to throb, throwing him back to last night in a spiral of memories. What they had said to each other, what they had felt. It seemed as though Derek didn't even remember, or at least was acting like he didn't. Like he had pushed it away.

Stiles breathed in the crisp air, surprised his breath didn't come out in a cloud of fog, swirling around his head.

Every day was uncertain, every moment he waited for something to change, something to go wrong. It seemed as though Derek had remained the only constant. Constantly there, constantly protecting, constantly patient, waiting.

In a way, Stiles was waiting too, and not just for something to go wrong. He was waiting for. . . Derek to make a move, in a weird sort of way. He wondered what would be worse, putting their bond off so long that one day Derek could just no longer handle it, or starting to try to ease into things. He wondered if that would help, little things, little touches, little words. Stiles wanted the little touches, the little words. Wanted to say them, to hear them, but he also wanted what was best for Derek, as Derek wanted what was best for Stiles.

"Derek?" Stiles spoke up, words softly forming around his cold, wind chapped lips.

Derek turned, humming in response. Their steps were slow, casual, but there was a tightness in the air, a tension between the two that never seemed to fully ease. It was there in pack meetings, there in their room, and here in the woods, following them like a thick layer of fog.

"I want to ask you something." Stiles spoke. Derek only looked at him, waiting. Stiles recalled on their first night, how Derek had said that Stiles could tell him anything. He wanted to hear it, wanted the truth, wanted to trust.

"I was thinking about last night." Derek's pace faltered for half a step, but he recovered quickly. Stiles refused to look at him, only staring forward. They had been walking for about ten minutes now, with no destination in mind.

Stiles waited for Derek to reply, but once more the man only walked next to him, awaiting what Stiles had to say.

Stiles thought about the scent that must be coming off of him right now. Anxiety, mostly. He wondered how it felt for Derek, wondered if, perhaps in a different way, Stiles would feel the same thing once the bond was completed, if he could somehow sense how Derek would be feeling.

After a moment more of silence, Derek finally spoke up. "What exactly were you thinking about?"

The man picked at a loose string on his forest green Henley, distracting himself. He walked gracefully as he tugged at that string, step never faltering, never having to look down at his feet. He walked as though he belonged to the woods, as if they, rather than the Hale mansion, were his home.

The woods seemed to still, breeze ceasing as the birds quieted their tune. Clouds had covered up the sun, providing no warmth against the frigid day.

Stiles stuck his hands in his pockets as he thought of what to say. He had a thousand questions, he always did, and always seemed to bombard Derek with them. But perhaps, now, it was Stiles' turn to make some decisions.

The Alpha-Omega dynamic was changing in the world, Stiles saw no reason it couldn't change between Derek and Stiles. There were two people in this bond and it was time for Stiles to say what he wanted, to not cower down or suppress how he felt. He wasn't afraid of Derek and was growing used to the idea of what they were. It was the idea of what they could become, what Stiles wanted to become that was so terrifying. To find out if it was what Derek wanted, that was what made his heart pound in his chest.

"You're nervous." Derek spoke up, looking to Stiles.

"What does that smell like?" Stiles asked, meeting his gaze. He was avoiding, avoiding what he wanted to say, avoiding what he felt, avoiding what he was thinking.

"When wolves say we can smell what you're feeling, it's not just a scent thing. We can actually feel it." Derek looked to Stiles, but knew he didn't understand, he'd never experienced something like that, couldn't make that connection.

"When someone is nervous, for me, it's like my fingers tingle, almost shaking."

"Is it like that for other emotions too, you can feel them, physically?"

"Yes." Derek nodded. "Fear, for example, fear is like. . . like my throat goes tight, my legs feel uncertain beneath me when I walk, like they might crumble. Anger is like a white light, my head will pound and my body goes hot. Sadness. . . sadness is like my brain is foggy, like I can't think straight and. . . my body will sort of ache, I suppose."

"You named all of the bad emotions. What about the good ones?" Stiles focused on his feet as he walked, shoes crunching against the hard ground. He stepped over twigs and dips in the earth, knowing he was slowing down Derek's normal pace, though he didn't indicate that he minded.

Derek smiled softly. "Happiness is. . . warm. It envelops you, like a blanket. You sort of feel. . . loose, I guess?" He made a face, like he couldn't find the right words.

"Like. . . like you've just stretched in the morning and now you feel awake, alive. You just feel. . . good. I don't know, it's sort of hard to describe."

"I think that makes sense." Stiles nodded. "And can you feel all the emotions, good, bad, all of them?"

Derek's lips twitched. "Yes, I can feel, smell, everything. Anything anyone is feeling, it's sort of an Alpha thing I guess. And I've worked my entire life to heighten all of my senses to the best of my ability."

"I'm guessing that's a Hale thing?" Stiles asked. There was no doubt that commanding armies wasn't just about brute strength, it had to take all of your senses.

Derek smiled softly, his only response. "So what did you actually have on your mind?"

Stiles swallowed. Nervousness hitting him again, no doubt Derek's hands feeling the impact, if it was how he described it. Stiles was slightly annoyed in that moment, that Derek could always know what Stiles was thinking, but he couldn't know how Derek was feeling at every waking moment.

"When the bond is completed, will I be able to feel what you feel?" Stiles asked. He hadn't noticed Derek had stopped walking until he didn't hear the second pair of footsteps.

He turned, finding Derek standing back, a few steps away from him, this time looking at the ground, as though something had captured his attention. Stiles walked back to him, surprised to find that he was even colder than he was when Derek was walking beside him a few seconds ago. Derek's body heat had kept him slightly warmer, even though they were separated by a few feet.

"Not entirely." Stiles paused, waiting.

"Not like I do, not as. . . intensely as I do. But. . . if I'm ever in pain, if I'm happy, you'll feel that, just as I feel you."

Stiles nodded, wondering what had made Derek stop so suddenly. As though he had asked the question out loud, Derek spoke softly.

"You-you said when. . . when the bond is completed." Derek picked at the string again, that damned string.

Stiles almost spoke, before he thought better of it. He almost said that it was bound to happen, but knew that wasn't entirely the truth, and knew that would hurt Derek. Derek had given him an out, no matter how painful, no matter how much it killed Derek, he would never force him to stay, never force him to complete the bond.

"Would it help, if I- if we," Stiles corrected himself, "I mean you said once that touch helps, right?"

Derek only gazed at him, face curious. What did he have planned?

"Last night, I. . ." Stiles trailed off. He knew how he felt, he had set it in stone last night and this morning, the moment he awoke it was on his mind. Mating Run aside, he was starting to have feelings for Derek.

"I want to know if it would help to. . . sort of. . . not, or if little things, like gradual sort of, would help?" Stiles cringed at himself. That had made no sense.

Derek sucked in a breath, looking at a tree beside Stiles, eyes yielding nothing.

Honesty, honesty, honesty. Stiles wanted to chant it, wanted to scream it. He couldn't smell what Derek was thinking, couldn't read his mind, his face. He just needed to know, wanted to know. He wanted to help, wanted to be, wanted to. . . progress.

Derek's eyes snapped to Stiles quickly and he wondered if he could smell the change in his emotions that easily. How he was growing annoyed, desperate. He wondered what desperation tasted like on Derek's tongue.

"Anything." Derek said quickly, so fast, Stiles barely even heard it, barely understood it.

"I mean. . . Stiles-" Derek huffed, ready to bare it all. "Anything you do, drives me absolutely insane. Your touch sets me on fire and your voice sends shivers down my spine."

Stiles just stood there, watching the man. He seemed almost frozen in place, the only part of him moving was his chest, up and down as he breathed deeply.

"But does that. . . make it better, or worse?" Stiles wasn't sure if he would actually be helping or making things worse. He wanted to help, wanted to touch Derek, but if he had to stay away, he would, just as Derek had done for him since day one.

"The closer you are, the harder it is, but. . . I can tolerate it, because I know you're there, know you're with me. When you're away, I can't stand it, it feels like my chest is caving in." Derek sighed, almost cringing at the feeling.

"I just. . . I don't want to hurt you." Stiles softly spoke.

"You don't." He replied.

Stiles was surprised to find his throat closing. He looked anywhere but at Derek. At the forest floor, at his worn shoes, at the crumbled up pieces of leaves.

Stiles shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts but coming back to the same one.

"Derek we can't keep walking on eggshells." His voice was stern, set in stone. There was no wavering, no changing his mind this time.

"So we're going to do this. Maybe not the way the others are, but, we do it our way."

After a moment, Derek nodded, eyes turning bright. It meant that Stiles was saying yes, not only to Derek, but to the bond. Saying yes to the future, whatever it may look like. Saying no to fear and yes to hope.

"Okay." He spoke.

"Okay." Stiles replied, nodding as Derek had previously. He turned then, heading them back to the direction he assumed was the Hale mansion. He was still freezing, fingers going numb.

"But there are boundaries, rules." Stiles quickly thought out loud, though he knew Derek knew that. It needn't be spoken out loud.

"Of course." Derek agreed.

"I mean for the both of us." Stiles looked at Derek. This wasn't just about him anymore, what he wanted, what he didn't want. It was also about Derek, what he wanted, what he needed. It was about compromise and teamwork.

"Let's establish them, then." Derek spoke, suggesting.

Stiles breathed deep, nodding. "Honesty, trust, communication, they still remain at the top, doesn't matter how many times we have broken those promises to each other. We start over. We do this right, or as right as we can, but our way."

"What does our way look like?" Derek asked.

"Our way looks. . . slow," Stiles furrowed his eyebrows. They were slow, always slow. "But it's. . . effort. Trying, both of us trying." His voice got quieter as he spoke.

"Stiles, do you want to try?" The question was honest, sincere, and so the opposite of pressuring. He needed to know if he wanted this or if it was just for Derek.

"I meant what I said last night." Stiles said. And it was true. He felt it even stronger today, every minute, every second. He wondered if Derek felt it the same way, like a wave constantly crashing over him, pulling him under, until he couldn't breathe. He wondered if Derek felt it even stronger than he, being an Alpha.

"And the rest of your rules?" It was clear what Derek wanted, he wanted Stiles, all of Stiles, all the time. Asking Stiles what he wanted was a far more complicated question.

Stiles thought for a moment, worrying on his lip, on how to phrase what he was about to say. Derek had to know how he felt, after yesterday, hell, after all of this. Knew what he was fighting for, knew he wanted to do this, he had practically screamed it from the rooftops. But what did their way look like?

"I guess. . . I guess I don't really have any." Stiles shrugged.

Derek raised his eyebrows, in curiosity. Believing Stiles to be lying. "Oh, really?"

"If we have those things, the honesty, trust, and communication, I don't need any other rules. Because. . . because we can't just keep setting these expectations. That's all this has been, all we have been. The Mating Run expects us to be a perfect match. The media expects us to be married by now. The world. . . the world no longer knows what to expect. So we do it our way. Not just my way, not just my rules. Us. Together."

Stiles looked to Derek, shivering. The other man noticed and took a step closer as he walked. Stiles could feel the heat as he grew closer.

"I don't want to push you." Derek said softly.

"And I don't want to push you away." Stiles replied.

The rest of their walk was quiet, the birds returned, chirping louder than before. They pranced around them both, playful and fun. The forest seemed to come alive, the clouds began to part, revealing tiny glimpses of the bright sun.

***

Stiles embraced that heat, that warmth, sitting in front of the window in Derek's- his, bedroom. Stiles was determined to get better at that, at calling this his home, these people his pack. Derek wasn't just the Alpha, but also wasn't just his Alpha. The phrase sounded daunting, controlling, yet. . . Stiles found peace in it sometimes. It couldn't really be explained, how he liked having an Alpha, liked being bonded, liked the feeling.

His Alpha, who protected him at all cost. His mate, who would always do what was best for him. His. . . well they hadn't quite figured the rest out yet, but they would. No more eggshells. No more fragility.

Stiles curled up around a book, tucking his knees into his chest and nuzzling into the plush chair, sunbeams cast across his chest, warming him. He was dressed in several layers now, but still felt the chill of the wind, as though it was still nipping at his nose, his fingers. He wondered if Derek could feel the cold, past his own heat. Wondered if he could feel Stiles.

He would continue to ask questions, to test theories. Continue to break the stereotypes, crush the old way, the boundaries that were never meant to be there, and set up his own. He would let Derek in, and not even keep him at an arm's distance. No, he would pull him close, pull him tight, and not let go.

He wasn't sure he could let go anymore.

***

"Good morning, you delightful little bean." Erica chirped, smiling around her cup of coffee as Stiles walked into the kitchen.

"You're awful chipper this morning." Stiles mumbled, pouring himself a cup, embracing the warmth around his stiff, cold joints.

He and Derek had shared a bed again last night and Stiles was finally getting used to the dip in the mattress, the weight, the heat, that was Derek. He even embraced it, snuggled up to him, un-apologetically.

Derek was gone when he woke up, however, the bed freezing in his absence, sheets almost stiff with cold.

"Well, that is because today is a beautiful day, Stiles." She sang with a sigh, setting her mug down. Stiles only took a sip of his own, burning his tongue slightly, but loving the warmth sliding down his throat.

"And why is that, Erica?" Stiles asked, immediately looking down to her finger, trying to see if their was a ring on it, but her finger remained bare.

"The sun is shining, the bird are singing-"

"And she got fucked so hard the walls rattled last night." Cora spat, walking into the kitchen, bags under her eyes and a frown plastered on her grim face.

"Dear God, I didn't sleep at all last night-" Isaac came clambering in, leaning against the counter and rubbing his eyes.

Stiles was starting to suspect that all mornings at the Hale mansion were like this. He smiled around his mug as he watched them argue, though it was just the three of them this time.

He slid out quietly, heading back upstairs to grab a coat. Coffee in tow, he went to the back porch, perching himself on the stairs, watching the woods again. It was still pretty early, the sun not very high in the multicolored sky.

Stiles shivered, taking a sip of his coffee and just sat. He was afraid soon he would have so little time to just sit, though truthfully it was all they had done the past few days. It was true he got bored easily, stir crazy really. The Hale's hadn't seen the brunt of it yet, but with the situation of the world, what they had started, Stiles enjoyed the fact that here, on these worn wooden steps, the world didn't seem so crazy. Didn't seem so evil, so menacing. Here, he could imagine a world where everyone was equal, free, and loved. Where there were no kids on the streets, where Omegas and Alphas went to the same bars, where they shopped at the same grocery stores.

His eyes flickered to the woods again, something catching his gaze. It was a body, a man. Stiles squinted and then his heart starting beating. It was Derek, he was sure of it, but he was shirtless, covered in blood.

Derek began to casually run in Stiles' direction, as though he hadn't noticed Stiles was sitting there. Even from the distance and with the glare of the blazing sun as it rose in the sky, Stiles could see the man's glowing red eyes, half shifted.

About halfway across the field, Derek looked up, noticing Stiles sitting there. He stopped for a moment, before he began to walk towards him, looking like he had just been caught, shoulders hunched and head down. . . almost. . . embarrassed?

Stiles's heart was hammering. He didn't seem hurt, no limp or injuries in sight. Did that mean that the blood that soaked his hands was not his? Was there a threat? Did someone try to come and hurt them? Boyd was absent this morning, as was Talia. What had been going on?

"I can smell your worry from my bedroom, it reeks." Peter hissed behind him, making Stiles whip around.

Stiles glared, turning back around, only to find Derek completely gone, as though he was never there in the first place.

"Looks like he got something big this time." Peter took a step closer, always instigating, always pressing. Wanting Stiles to ask the question.

Stiles didn't reply, but had no doubt that Peter would keep talking, keep pushing.

"I have to say, for as much as I tease the boy, he has more self control than what I thought." Peter almost sounded disappointed, like he wanted Derek to snap.

He had said something similar once, had implied it. Implied that this was hard on Derek, something Stiles already knew. Pushed that it was his fault, which Stiles supposed, it sort of was.

"Though I don't know why he even tries, we all know what's going to happen." Peter rolled his eyes.

"You just love to hear yourself talk, don't you?" Stiles' coffee had gone cold, soured. He shivered against the slight breeze.

"What's going to happen to you both." Peter followed up, correcting Stiles.

Stiles remained quiet, glaring at those woods, cursing Peter and considering getting up and walking away from him. He also considered throwing his cold coffee in his face, wishing it was still warm so that maybe it would burn the man.

"It's already happening, after all." Peter sighed.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Stiles finally caved, huffing out a sigh himself.

"Stiles, it's seventy-five degrees." Peter cocked his head and smirked at Stiles' shivering frame.

Stiles froze, hands gripping the mug. He looked up to the sun, felt the warmth it spread across his body, but he was still so cold. Almost. . . empty feeling.

Peter disappeared, as he always did, when Stiles turned to look at him.

He got up, the coffee in his stomach sitting like a rock, and took his mug back inside to the sink. Everyone else seemed to be gone, the house quiet, still.

Stiles turned and headed to the office. He raised his head as he raised his hand to knock on the door of Alpha Talia Hale's office, but paused, noticing a note.

Be back soon.

Stiles' stomach clenched, where had she gone? For that matter, where had everyone gone? Stiles walked through the house, the living room, the dining room, the kitchen. No one was there. He walked upstairs, and was revealed to find his father, cleaning his guns, and he could hear Cora outside of her room, blasting some rock song that practically shook the walls.

So not everyone was gone, at least, but where was Derek?

"Hey." A voice spoke behind him. Stiles jolted, whipping around quickly, hand placed across his throat in surprise.

"Jesus fucking-" Stiles panted. There was Derek, wearing a shirt this time, blood no where in sight. As though he had imagined it completely.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." Derek smiled softly, sympathetically. Stiles often wondered if he just couldn't help himself, being so quiet, so sneaky. If it was just part of his nature, or part of his training.

"Where were you this morning?" Stiles asked. It came out rough, wary.

"I went on a run." Derek shrugged, heading back downstairs, with Stiles hot on his heels. That wasn't a good enough answer for Stiles.

"Was this one of your 'blow-off-some-steam' runs?" Stiles asked dramatically.

"They usually are." Derek sounded. . . tense. Like something was on his mind. More than the usual doom of the world.

"Did something happen?" Stiles stepped in front of him once they reached the bottom of the stairs, crossing his arms.

"No, nothing new. Reports show the same thing, some protesting, others laying low-"

Stiles shook his head. "You know that's not what I'm talking about. Everyone is gone and you-you came back covered in blood."

Derek didn't respond, looking away. Was he going to break his promise yet again, where they back to this place again, already?

"I go on runs to. . . it's difficult, to fight my instincts, my Alpha side. Denying you. . . it's difficult." He repeated, at a loss for words once more, like nothing he could say could ever truly explain what he was feeling inside. Stiles could at least sympathize with that.

"The woods used to be able to clear my head, but it doesn't work anymore, I have to. . . feed my Alpha side in other ways." Derek swallowed.

"By literally feeding?" Stiles asked, cautiously. He was trying his best not to judge. If Derek had to kill a couple squirrels to not attack his pack in a fit of rage, or pin Stiles to the bed, he figured that it was a fair sacrifice.

"You know how when you sense a heat coming, it just sort of comes over you, and you can't do anything to push it away?"

Stiles' throat bobbed as he nodded. He knew that feeling exactly.

"It's sort of like that. My body has been pushing me towards that side and sometimes I. . . sort of lose myself." He shook his head.

"I can't lose myself around you, Stiles, so I. . . so yes, I feed, sort of as a way to curb my appetite." He smirked, laughing at himself. Appetite indeed.

"It makes sense." Stiles nodded.

Derek looked to him, confusion on his face, like he would think Stiles would never understand.

"Your uncle, ever cryptic, mentioned something like that. Does that happen to Omegas too?"

Derek took a step forward, breathing deep. He slowly moved his hand over Stiles' shoulder, and let it just hover there. Stiles shivered, the heat radiating off of his hand, sending warmth not just over his shoulder, but over his entire body. It was warm out today, yet to Stiles, it felt like it was the middle of winter.

"My body pushes me towards my Alpha side, further in myself. Yours. . . yours pushes towards me." Derek's voice grew quiet.

My body is trying everything it can to be with you, as is yours, and you don't even realize it.

He had said it only a couple of nights ago and hadn't realized that the same thing was happening to himself. At one point it might have felt like a betrayal, his body fighting for Derek, but now, it seemed simple, like a solution. Like a door was opened, a way for them to truly begin. An opportunity to stop teetering around.

Stiles had been cold, for several days. Before, he would have little shivers, running down his spine, but they would dissipate. Now the wave pulling him under was icy, stinging his muscles and prickling at his joints.

Your touch sets me on fire.

Would it set Stiles on fire?

Stiles took a small step, feeling as though he was crossing an invisible line, sketched into the wood floor beneath their feet. The air became heavy, thick, as Stiles swallowed around it.

He raised his hand, let it hover over Derek, as he had to him only moments ago. But rather than the ice that Derek felt, Stiles felt pure flame.

Slowly, he brought the hand closer, hovering it over Derek's chest, feeling like his hand was going to catch fire. Pushing past the feeling, he rested it on the man's chest, making him suck in a breath as a literal shock went down his arm, like lightening. Derek stopped breathing, while Stiles fought for his own breath.

Stiles looked up at Derek's face, mere inches from his own. They had touched before, hugged a few nights ago even, and found themselves wound up in a tangle of limbs as they slept each night. But this was different, this was. . . intentional, set with a purpose.

"You make me warm." Stiles spoke as his veins filled with liquid gold, encasing him from only one touch, one palm pressed against the Alpha's chest, which rumbled in pleasure.

Stiles flushed at the sound and Derek stiffened again, noticing the change of Stiles' scent in the air, in the blood that pooled in Stiles' cheeks.

He could smell all emotions. Even want, desire.

He brought his hand up, snaking it, until he settled at the back of Derek's head, cupping it. He curled his fingers, wrapping them in Derek's hair, fingers scratching at his scalp. The Alpha's body rumbled with a purr, leaning into the touch as his eyes slowly closed.

"You have no idea, how that feels." He sounded pained, weak. This was part of the reason Stiles really wondered if he would really be helping, with the little things. Was this like taking the edge off, or making him crave more?

Derek placed a hand on Stiles' hip, pressing his fingers into him to the point that bruises would form. But Stiles didn't yelp, he held on to that feeling, those fingers that ground him, those fingers that Stiles wanted in other places, yet he never wanted them to leave his hips.

Derek's head was slightly pushed back, the weight of him held in the palm of Stiles' hand. Taking a deep breath, Stiles brought his other hand up and placed it on the Alpha's bicep, just letting it rest there.

His body felt like it was on fire, but Stiles didn't want the fire out. He wanted to burn, to be set ablaze. He didn't want to stop, no, he wanted more.

"Stiles." Derek spoke, placing his other hand on the small of his back, before yanking him forward, bodies almost flush together.

Stiles watched as Derek throat bobbed, as he looked down at Stiles. Licking his lips, Stiles dared to take a half step forward, to where they would fully be pressed together. Dared to lean up on his tiptoes. Dared to press his lips against the Alphas.

"Would you two get a room, already?" Cora snapped, arms crossed and peering down at them from the top of the stairs.

Stiles took a step back from Derek, never getting to press his lips against the other man's. The fire sizzled out to mere embers as they separated, Derek with a growl on his lips and Stiles with his eyes looking down at the floor, face red once more, though for an entirely different reason.

"Cora." Derek snapped, glaring at her, the Alpha rage written all over.

"Yes, Derek?" She asked sweetly, or at least as sweetly as she could.

Derek opened up his mouth, presumably to snap at her again, when Boyd burst through the doors, heaving out air, clothes ragged.

All three of them took a step towards each other, eyes wide.

"Derek-" Boyd started, before he locked eyes with Stiles, instantly silencing.

Within a second, Isaac and Erica came running through the still open door, bringing with them a breeze of cold air. Erica's hair was a frizzy mess, leaves and dirt stuck to almost every part of her. Isaac was in a similar shape, with a trickle of blood running down his brow. Boyd was the best looking out of all of them, though his shirt was in shambles, barely hanging on to his heaving shoulders.

They had ran here, frazzled.

"What the hell is going on?" Stiles asked, Cora appearing at his side, no doubt wondering the same thing.

"Maybe we should wait for Talia." Erica spoke. Where was the Alpha? Surely not where they had just came from, they wouldn't leave her behind.

"Derek." Boyd spoke, jerking his head to the side, motioning for Derek to follow him to another room.

"Hold up." Stiles placed a hand on Derek's chest when he took a step to follow the man.

"Someone explain what the hell is going on, to all of us." He snapped, putting his foot down on the matter. He had every right to know.

Boyd looked to Derek, who only gave him a look. What were they hiding?

"There was. . . an attempted attack." Boyd chose his words carefully.

"Attempted?" Stiles looked at them all, covered in mess, looking like they had been through hell, like they had been attacked.

"Where was the attack?" Stiles asked.

"We had been getting reports, rumors, really, that Sector Two has been doing. . . research on our forces, digging for information, really." Boyd spoke, avoiding the question.

"That's Alpha Edric's Sector." Stiles spoke quietly, Derek placing a hand on the small of his back with a low growl.

Erica began to pick leaves out of her hair, making faces at the dirt that was caked there. Isaac's gash had already almost completely healed, the drying blood the only evidence there was ever an injury there.

"You're going to have to explain this in words that I understand." Stiles spoke, waving a hand.

Isaac opened his mouth, when Talia came strutting through the door, looking every bit as beautiful and powerful as she always did, Laura on her hip. Both women were dressed impeccably and pure power seemed to follow them inside.

"Perhaps we should all take a seat." Talia spoke. Everyone followed her to the dining room, gathered around the table. During the squeaking of chairs against the wood floors, John had come downstairs, taking a seat as well. Though he didn't know what was going on, he did know he wanted to be apart of it.

As Stiles shifted, he caught Peter's gaze, who was leaning against the door frame, smirk plastered on his lips. He gave a wink, before Stiles returned his gaze back to Talia and the rest of the pack.

Before Talia even spoke, Derek placed a hand on Stiles' thigh. He relaxed slightly, but it wasn't enough to cease the worries that were creeping down his back.

"Before we fully begin, I would like everyone to know that the situation is under control." Talia spoke calmly.

"What situation?" John asked, elbows on the table. He leaned forward, as though stretching towards the Alpha would make her speak faster.

Talia turned to Boyd, motioning for him to share the information that he knew.

"During the night, Major Wilson alerted me that there had been some. . . activity, around the air base." Stiles glanced at Laura, who tensed as Major Wilson's name was spoken.

Stiles wanted to ask what sort of activity, but kept his mouth shut, waiting for Boyd to continue.

"I went up there myself and by the time I arrived, most of it was taken care of." Taken care of?

"Quit being so cryptic and spit it out, boy." Peter rolled his eyes, arms crossed from the corner he lurked in. No one snapped at Peter, this time.

Boyd huffed, squaring his shoulders, making another strip of fabric fall off.

"There were thirty Sector Two men surrounding the base, my guess, looking for gaps, holes, in our surrounding wall."

"Wall?" Stiles asked. He had been to the base several times, he never saw a wall.

"What you saw, Stiles, is what we wanted you to see, what we allowed." Talia explained. "We have several allies, all over the world, not all are werewolves."

"The wall isn't actually visible. It surrounds the entirety of Sector Five, but there are. . . gaps. Places where the wall has been ripped open." Laura interjected.

"Even once inside the walls, only certain people are permitted to see what's inside. If you hadn't been allowed to see what you did, it would look like nothing more than an empty field." Boyd finished.

"So. . . it's just an invisible wall, that does what, exactly?" Stiles asked.

"It offers protection. The people who created the wall are alerted when an outside force tries to breach it." Boyd answered.

So that was the call that Boyd got in the middle of the night. It was why all of them were gone this morning, and yet, Derek was not, he had stayed.

"How can they sense something like that? And how do they know it isn't one of us? I mean we have left the Sector plenty of times." Stiles asked.

"The wall is, like us, supernatural. It can sense hate, can sense malice. It is. . . created to understand what someone's intentions are when they come near it. It sort of hums, buzzes, and alerts those who are its creators, who then alert us." Talia spoke.

"So someone was trying to breach the Sector?" John asked.

"Someone did breach the Sector. Someone tried to breach the base." Peter mused.

"How is that possible, that someone came in?" Cora asked. Derek tightened his grip on Stiles' leg.

"In the case that someone breaches the Sector, there are more powerful walls, and wards for that matter, surrounding other areas of the Sector. The mansion, the base, and your father's house, among other places." Derek spoke, nodding towards John.

Stiles swallowed at that. They had been protecting him far longer than he even knew them. Protecting his father. His mother.

"They never breached the base, never even got close, and they never will." Boyd spoke sternly, glaring at the scenario.

"How were they even able to breach the original wall around the Sector?" John crossed his arms, leaning back. Losing faith in the Sector, losing faith in Talia.

"As I said, there are gaps. Our walls, our ruins, the history and magic that is buried in the soil of this Sector dates back thousands of years. You can imagine, after so many millennia, people whisper, books begin to fill with information." Talia spoke.

So Edric knew and he had breached the Sector, but for what purpose?

"Why did they come, though?" Stiles asked. What did they want from them? Was this all about their broadcasts?

"We don't entirely know." Boyd spoke, seeming mad about that fact. "They knew the exact place where a weak spot was, as though they had studied it."

"Is that even possible, them getting so close, to find the gap?" Cora asked.

"With the proper magic, they could conceal themselves enough to at least creep around the wall, without alerting it of their presence, until they were able to crawl into the gap." Laura answered.

"How big is this gap?" John spoke again.

"Not big enough to fit more than one person at a time, they seemed to filter in." Erica spoke.

"Which means they had studied the wall, studied the gap." Boyd said.

"And they went straight for the base. . . did they know where it was at?" Stiles asked.

That was impossible. The air base was incredibly secretive, Stiles often got the feeling that others didn't want him knowing about it, that the ground beneath it questioned his presence there. Perhaps with the magic in the ground, it really did. And with the protective magic that concealed what it really looked like. . .

"That's impossible." Derek finally spoke.

"Is it? If they had been studying the wall, knew of its presence, what makes you think they don't know more?" Peter hissed.

"The base is a fairly new development. Its location couldn't have gotten out. It is one of our most protected-" Derek began again.

"And yet they went straight for it." Peter spoke, cutting the Alpha off.

"What do they want with it?" John asked. The man had yet to see the base, didn't quite understand the fuss.

"Alpha Edric himself is known to have some of the most intricate, new, trinkets. Did he want them for himself?" Erica asked, picking at the dirt underneath her nails.

"Edric is a collector, not a military man. He would have no use for the equipment there." Boyd answered, eyes moving in thought.

"But other things there. . ." Peter started.

A hush fell over the room. The Hales were hiding something and word had gotten out.

"What other things?" Stiles asked. Everyone avoided his gaze. He looked to Derek last, hoping his gaze would pressure him into talking.

"The air base has other things housed in its walls." Derek spoke quietly.

"What things?" Stiles asked. He was tired of the secrets, the cryptic messages, the tiptoeing.

Talia looked around the table, at the pack before her. At those she dearly loved. At those she would protect at all cost.

"Someone has been communicating with Edric, someone on the inside." She spoke sternly.

Derek and Boyd growled at that, at the accusation that one of their men was a rat.

"We're leaving out one crucial part of this all." Peter spoke, eyes slowing turning towards him as he stepped closer, near the table now.

"What does Edric want with the things lurking in our base?" Peter raised an eyebrow, looking around at the pack.

"It wasn't an attack." Stiles spoke softly, eyes now on him. "It was a test."

"A test?" Isaac looked to Boyd and Erica.

"To gain more information on the wards, the wall, us. If Alpha Talia Hale sent her best men, members of the pack to go guard whatever the hell you have locked up in there, well now Edric knows. Knows it was well protected, and for a reason." Stiles finished.

"Not quite." Erica cocked her eyebrows, smirk on her lips.

"No one made it out alive." Isaac smiled, a gleam in his eyes.

Thirty men. And they had taken them out so easily.

"As I said, they didn't even get near the air base. If somehow even one escaped our grasp, they would having nothing to report back to Edric except for the fact that we slaughtered them all." Boyd spoke simply.

Stiles shivered, leaning back in his chair. His stomach was in knots.

"If you hadn't been tipped off, what would have happened?" Stiles asked quietly. Would Edric's men have gotten what they wanted, would they have come for him? Is that was even what this was about?

"My nails wouldn't be ruined." Erica clipped.

Boyd huffed, rolling his eyes. "If I hadn't gotten that call, and they somehow broke the concealing wards, my men would have done the very same thing that we did."

Stiles nodded, biting at his lip. They would have killed them, just the same. Boyd had said that when they arrived most of them were dead already.

"What did Edric want?" Stiles looked up, locking eyes with Talia.

"We don't know." Talia shook her head.

"The better question, is what did Edric plan on doing, if he did get his hands on what he wanted?" Peter asked.

"An attack?" John asked.

"He's against the movement." Stiles guessed.

"He hasn't outright said so, but-" Laura shook her head, looking frustrated.

"But he hasn't shown overwhelming support either. . . Talia, how many Sectors have your heard from, once the message was broadcasted? Once we stated that the Hale pack stood with Omegas?" Stiles asked.

"Thirty-six." She answered. She looked at Stiles, as though she knew what he was thinking. As though she didn't want to say it out loud, but knew.

"Which means that fourteen Sectors are either against us, or too afraid to speak up. I have a strong feeling the Edric is not one who is afraid to speak up." Stiles grit. He thought back to that night. Edric's swagger, his confidence. How he broke the rules, got kicked out of the mating run. How he took several mates. Edric didn't want equal playing fields, he didn't want Omegas to be on the same level as he. He wanted to rule over them.

"You think that Edric was going to wield whatever was in there?" John looked to his son. The young man who always figured it out, when no one else could. Always calculating, always listening, always understanding things no one else could.

"I think Edric isn't the only one with other supernatural beings on his side. I think Edric has the largest Sector in the world and I think he is building an army." Stiles sat straighter. He was not afraid. He was not cowering. He did not want bloodshed, but he would not back down. If Edric had came to his home, came to hurt his family, he would protect his people at all cost. He may not be an Alpha, but that didn't mean he couldn't act like one.

"Where were you today?" Stiles changed subjects, turning towards Talia. She had left him a note, stuck to the office door, which remained locked up tight. She and Laura had come back completely unscathed, both wearing suits, Laura's in a shade of charcoal, while Talia's was in a shade of pure black.

"Your brilliant mind isn't the only one wondering if others are scheming, Stiles." Talia cocked her head to the side.

Stiles swallowed, placing his hand on top of Derek's, which was growing impossibly tight around his thigh.

"Myself and a few of my allies," Stiles wondered which allies those might be. Talia had so many. "held a meeting, working on a new message."

"Saying what, 'we want world peace?'" Peter snorted.

"And what did you come up with?" Derek asked, ignoring Peter.

"We created a new name for ourselves. For those who want equality, for those who want peace. No longer are we just Omegas and Alphas." Talia smirked.

"You're looking at the vice president of the AO Alliance, a new, progressive collection of Sector Alphas and," Laura looked to Talia, smirking. "Sector Omegas."

"What?" Peter sneered. "You're prepared to put Omegas in a position of power?"

"I'm prepared to put Omegas no where. What I am prepared to do is not sit back as our people are attacked." Talia snapped, eyes red.

Our people.

"And you think people are just going to sit back and let that happen?" Peter scoffed, crossing his arms in anger.

"We've already had thirty-six Sectors sign the agreement and join us in both the meeting and the movement." Laura crossed her arms, leaning back. Thirty-six Alphas who agreed that Omegas could and should be in a position of power. Sector Omegas.

"Jafari sends her love, by the way." Talia commented.

"I hope in your preparations, you took into account that you are starting a war." Peter snapped.

No war, no blood. That had been Stiles' wish. Their hope, their message, had been to spread equality, to inform, to help others understand. Not to take over, not to scare, not to push back. But. . . would Stiles be okay with sitting back, while people like Edric continued to come for them, to belittle Omegas?

Stiles thought back to that attack on Sector Forty-Seven. Though it was several days of travel between them, Sector Two was closest to them. Were they related? Had Edric started the attacks?

"I won't sit back." Stiles spoke, echoing Talia words. "I won't let people get slaughtered, on either side. I will fight, if it comes to it. I will fight for a better world."

The pack rumbled in approval and Stiles felt it in his bones. They would stand with him. They would follow him, an Omega, wherever he went. Whatever he chose.

"We will all be slaughtered." Peter snapped, taking a step forward.

Derek growled out, making the Betas sink in their seats ever so slightly. "You seem to have so much confidence in Edric and his pack. Perhaps you are not telling us something that you know?"

Insinuating that Peter was the rat. That he knew too much.

Peter snapped his teeth, eyes glowing blue. "I am many things, dear nephew, but I am not a rat."

Derek growled back, standing up. Stiles was surprised to find that Talia did nothing to silence Derek. He glanced at her, but Talia only looked up at her son, looked. . . proud. It was as though Derek grew in height, cowering over the rest of the pack, but not making them fear, no, they sat up straighter. Looking. . . looking to their Alpha.

"Alpha Edric's territory is large, but it is not filled with many people. Their territory is too inhabitable in most areas." Talia spoke calmly, reassuring.

"Which is why it's filled with mostly Alphas." Peter hissed. He was suggesting that the Omegas couldn't live there. Alphas ran hotter than everyone else, but Stiles had a feeling that the Omega's absence wasn't due to the climate.

Derek snapped his jaw, red eyes glowing, and without wanting to, Peter took a step back.

Derek was powerful, Stiles had heard echos of the man even being a brute, before Stiles got to know him. But Derek was not irrational, wasn't a savage. He had tasted blood, but at a cost. He knew the risks, weighed them heavily. He knew what he was willing to risk and what he was willing to fight for.

"I will fight." Derek snapped again, the Betas cocking their necks to the side in submission. Stiles swallowed, his own neck itching. This wasn't normal, Talia was the Alpha, Laura next in line, and yet Derek. . . Derek had the ability to make his pack submit.

Stiles had heard rumors of an Alpha pack, no Omegas or Betas included, but they didn't submit to each other. They had a leader, Deucalion, but they didn't submit to him. Not like this.

"I will fight." He repeated. "I will stand with my people. I will defend my people. No one will touch my mate or my pack. We will do this Stiles' way, but we will go to war, if that's what it comes to. And if you will not stand with us, I will slaughter you the same way I will rip out Edric's throat."

The room was deafeningly silent, the Beta's still with their heads cocked to the side, though there was no fear in their eyes, only admiration and love. Even Laura's head, as well as Cora's, was slightly turned in respect. Stiles looked to his father, who joined in on submitting, eyes ablaze, approving of Derek's message.

With a release of breath, Stiles turned his head, submitting to an Alpha. His Alpha. Something he had never done before. Something he had never chosen to do before.

Derek whipped his head to Stiles, looking down at where he sat, as though he instantly knew what the man had done. His eyes grew a brighter crimson and his sharp teeth dropped down from his gums.

"Meeting adjourned." He snapped, teeth making him have a slight lisp, before he was grabbing Stiles' hand, ripping him out of his chair so violently it flew backwards.

Stiles didn't even get the chance to see the pack's reaction as he was lifted off the ground and carried outside into the cold. His back was shoved against the tree, bark scratching at his skin through his thin t-shirt.

"You could at least have let me grab a coat." Stiles huffed as he stared into Derek's eyes, sparkling like rubies, pouring into his soul. They made him want to beg, made him want to bear his soul, made them want to drop to his knees. The power that they alone held was terrifying, and yet Stiles was not afraid.

"You submitted." He growled out, but it wasn't menacing it was. . . almost arousing.

"Seemed like the right thing to do at the time." Stiles shrugged slightly. He could practically taste Derek's breath, still hitting him with panted huffs. He wanted to taste it.

Stiles wanted to mention how the rest of his family submitted, all in their own ways, apart from Talia. Wanted to ask what that meant, if that had always been the case. Before it had seemed like a respect thing, when the Alphas turned. It wasn't forced, wasn't. . . instinctual.

"You submitted to me." Derek repeated, glancing down at Stiles' neck as his throat bobbed.

"Should I not have?" Stiles squeaked as Derek growled lowly.

Derek smirked slightly, glancing down at Stiles' lips as he spoke. "Oh, I want to see you submit again, Stiles."

Was Derek. . . holy fuck, was Derek turned on right now?

Stiles refrained from glancing down at Derek but swore he could smell something in the air. . . like some sort of spice. He wondered if it was as Derek said, that Omegas could still smell, still sense things, just in other ways. He wanted to smell Derek, wanted to taste him.

Throat bobbing again, Stiles slid his hand back up to Derek's neck, where Stiles' had turned to the side only seconds ago, submitting to his Alpha. He traced his fingers down it, stopping when he reached the neckline of Derek's shirt.

The Alpha breathed heavily and Stiles heard his claws, right next to his head, scrape the bark, little splinters of wood falling on Stiles' shoulder.

"Does that bother you?" Stiles asked, placing his full palm on the man's neck, replacing his fingers.

"In what way?" Derek asked, voice rough. Stiles laughed, throwing back his head slightly as Derek went rigid, in more ways than one.

Your touch sets me on fire and your voice sends shivers down my spine.

And his laugh, what would it do?

"Derek?" Stiles breathed.

"Hm?" Derek hummed, glances switching between Stiles' lips and his throat, as though he could see the blood flowing beneath his skin.

"No more eggshells." Stiles whispered, Derek finally locking eyes with his own. Without hesitation, which was something constantly written all over the Alpha, Derek quickly leaned in, locking his lips with Stiles.

Stiles sucked in a breath, lightening flowing through his veins as his body came alive, set ablaze. Derek ceased the opportunity, gently pushing his tongue into Stiles' mouth, running it over his teeth, his tongue, tasting him.

Stiles didn't have to guess what his lips did to Derek. He shifted and his hardness pressed against Stiles, who only moaned in return.

Derek growled out, pulling back slightly. It gave Stiles the opportunity to breathe only for a moment, before his breath got caught again as Derek ran his tongue over the length of Stiles' throat.

Stiles threw his head back as another moan escaped his lips. His face grew flush, the Alpha had made him moan from just his lips. He remembered that first night they were together, how Derek had made him hard before his lips had even touched him.

"I remember those sounds." Derek purred, licking the shell of Stiles' ear and sending shivers down his spine.

Stiles remembered too, how he had moaned. How all worries, all thoughts had left his mind. How he had begged for Derek, how he had craved him.

He remembered what it had felt like to have Derek's jaw clamp around his throat, for his life to be completely in the hands of the Alpha he had just met. He remembered the completely irrational trust, the bond that was already being solidified before Derek had claimed him. Something beyond the Mating Run, something beyond the claim.

The Mating Run began to unite the Omegas and Alphas together, for them to find their mate, what should have been their equal, but it had turned into a publicity stunt. A way for Omegas to enter the limelight, a way for Alphas to increase their power. There wasn't a bond, there wasn't care, wasn't love. But Derek defied all rules, he broke all of them, shattered them in one crushing blow.

"Derek," Stiles spoke. He just held him, gripping at his skin, like he wanted to be covered by the man's heat. He couldn't explain it, the way his body molded around Derek's, the way it fit perfectly. Stiles almost wanted to cry, so desperate to just be with Derek. He hadn't realized how cold he was without him, how stiff, how empty.

"I've got you." Derek said, just as he had on that first night. And Stiles crumpled, knees giving out, but Derek just held him up, crushed against his skin. He had ceased at devouring his neck, instead just burying his head there, breathing.

Stiles didn't have words for what he felt, as the tears silently streamed down his face. He hoped Derek didn't think they were because of him, or at least in the way that Derek had feared Stiles felt towards him. Derek had no idea how Stiles felt towards him.

It covered him, like a blanket, like feeling alive Derek had said.

Stiles had never felt more alive.

"Whatever happens-" Stiles' breath hitched, choking on his tears.

"Nothing is going to happen to you, Stiles." Derek shushed him, crushing him closer, though he pulled back to look into his eyes. He swiped a thumb across his cheek, catching a tear. Stiles wasn't worried about what would happen to himself, though.

Stiles thought back to how Derek had described the scent, the feeling, of sadness. How it left his body aching. Stiles hopped that wasn't what he smelled, or felt. He hoped he felt the truth. That he wasn't sad, wasn't crying for that reason.

"Promise me you'll stay mine." Stiles breathed, the words sounding funny coming out.

"I'll always be yours." He said quietly. And it seemed to solidify something inside them both, locked into place.

Stiles heart ached at the words. He wasn't owned, that wasn't what it meant to be someone else's. He belonged to Derek in a way that was more complicated than the books could ever attempt to explain and Derek. . . Derek belonged to Stiles. Equals.

And it all made sense then, in that moment. What they were fighting for. It wasn't just about the Omegas walking down the streets or the Alphas in bars, it was about that feeling. About belonging.

And being held in Derek's arms, he felt like he belonged here.

***

The next few days were slow. The entire pack was on edge, almost twitching in anticipation. Waiting for something bad to happen.

Talia and Laura spent almost all their time in the office, door shut as they talked quietly over papers and held conference calls. John spent his time upstairs, cleaning his guns and watching the news, busying himself. He hadn't said when he would return to work, only that he was using some vacation time.

Cora dealt with things in her own way, locking herself in her room and listening to music that rattled the skulls of those who dared walk by. Derek and Boyd spent most of their days, and nights for that matter, huddled around maps and other documents strewn across various tables. Erica and Isaac spent their time babysitting Stiles.

But even with their attempts to entertain him, Stiles was bored. It had been four days since the Sector Two attack, and about a week since they had first locked themselves here in the mansion.

Boyd, Erica, Isaac, Talia, and Laura left frequently, though they argued they did only when they had to, while the rest remained at the Hale mansion.

Stiles was surprised in the beginning to find Derek staying here with him. Though he knew the man must have been desperate to get out and do something, to command his men, scout the area, or whatever the fuck he usually did, he chose to stay with Stiles. And he was. . . happy. It hadn't really been an emotion Stiles had seen from Derek a lot, but it was a good look on him.

They had grown a little more comfortable around each other. As Stiles had hoped, the little things helped, helped the both of them. Derek placing his hand on the small of his back, Stiles brushing up against Derek. But it was also things that weren't physical touch. They would read together, Stiles with his feet up on Derek's lap. And when Stiles finished a book, he had already finished six, Derek would pick one out for him.

The books varied, some were fiction, some were full of the history. He liked every single one that Derek picked. Lately, he liked anything that had to do with Derek.

The house was still today, as it had been the past few days. The office door was cracked open, only revealing hushed whispers and papers shuffling. Boyd was at the table again, surrounded by more maps and markers. Erica joined him this time, though it appeared she was only there to comfort him, hands rubbing his tense shoulders.

Isaac joined Stiles' father again, downstairs watching TV, barely audible. They had grown on each other, John seemed to appreciate the quiet Beta.

He had gotten a call from Scott yesterday, which was nice, but also not. The entire pack had been listening to their conversation, though they tried to pretend like they weren't.

Stiles was happy to hear from Scott, happy to hear him and his mom, and their small town of Beacon Hills, for that matter, was entirely safe. They joked for a bit, Scott explaining how furious Lydia Martin had been when he was chosen. Stiles couldn't believe it had been that long since the drawing of his name. Since his heart was pounding out of his chest, sitting in that little folded chair.

He was happy to hear from his friend, they talked for around two hours, but Scott liked to. . . press.

Dude, Derek Hale? You're like super famous now!

Stiles had laughed it off, but it sounded wrong even in his own ears. Scott wanted all the details, though he had revealed that him and the entirety of Sector Five had watched the whole thing. Stiles didn't exactly want to hear that his Chemistry teacher had watched him get fucked up the ass.

For all that Scott made Stiles cringe, he did avoid the heaviness, the topic of the possible war at hand, though Scott didn't know about that. He saw Stiles on TV, saw his and the Hale's broadcast, but Scott was essentially clueless. And Stiles was thankful for that.

It was hard to hang up, to not know when he could next talk to Scott. Though, with guilt creeping up his shoulders, he had to admit that he hadn't thought of his best friend much these past few days. He could have called him any time he wanted.

After he hung up, Derek had laid a hand on his shoulder, rubbing those circles like he had watched Erica do to Boyd.

He tore away from his touch however, heading upstairs. He had climbed up to their room and just sat there, by his seat in front of the window, deep in thought. Thinking about Scott, about his previous life that had been torn from his grasp so quickly. How he didn't miss that life, those people. And how he tried to feel bad about it, but couldn't bring himself to.

So he had sat there and sat there, until he smelled dinner cooking downstairs and decided to join. Regardless of the ever changing rules and standards, it was rude to miss dinner.

***

"I heard that Lydia Martin was upset about her not getting chosen." John tried to bring up, with a chuckle. It was clearly an effort to break the silence, to lift the tired spirits around the table.

Stiles nodded briefly, managing a smile that came out more like a grimace.

"Lydia Martin was never going to get chosen." Talia hale snickered, cutting up her chicken and shaking her head slightly.

"Why's that?" Stiles spoke up, popping a bit of potato into his mouth. The food that usually melted in his throat tasted like ash in his mouth. He had good days and bad days since the claiming. Most were good days now, outweighing the bad, but now he had even more on his plate than Derek's feelings for him. Today was turning into a bad day.

"She was ejected." Laura shrugged, as though it were obvious.

"Huh. I always figured that girl would get chosen, if not her first year, sometime down the road. Didn't figure she'd have to cheat her way through either." John shoved a bite of bread in his mouth, contemplating.

Stiles agreed with his father, everyone just knew that Lydia Martin would be chosen. She was gorgeous, smart, and perfect Alpha material. Though Stiles' stubbornness got him in trouble, Lydia's sass was a turn on for any Alpha, Beta, or Omega that met her.

"She didn't cheat, she entered exactly one thousand submissions, as per the rules." Talia spoke.

"Then why did she get disqualified?" Was there another way, other than entering too many votes, or not any at all? Perhaps she had tried to bribe the people behind the stage, or sway Alpha Talia Hale's opinion. She was certainly ballsy enough to try, anyways.

Talia looked to Laura, who decided to speak instead of the Alpha. Stiles seemed to be the only one who noticed that, recently. Talia was looking to Laura more and more, she seemed to be a sort of ambassador, and was obviously second in line, and yet Derek. . .

"Lydia Martin is not an Omega." She stated plainly.

"I'm sorry, what?" Stiles sat his fork down, leaning forward.

"She's a banshee." Talia shrugged, shoving another bite of chicken in her mouth.

Stiles just sat there, shoving his food around. First of all, what the hell? How could Lydia not be an Omega? How could this have been kept secret for so long, and why? Stiles had known Lydia almost his entire life. Then again, should he really be surprised to find out, after all that he had learned, that people weren't who they said that they were?

"Banshee?" John asked, sitting back in his chair slightly.

Everyone had stopped eating, apart from Talia. While the wolves usually, well, wolfed down their foods, it seemed everyone was picking at the meal, minds on a million different things.

"They're pretty rare, little Lydia Martin probably didn't want anyone trying to steal her." Peter appeared, fork suddenly in hand and cheeks full of bread. He didn't even have a place at the table, yet somehow had a plate in front of him.

"What do you mean steal her?" Stiles asked, taken aback. Talia had said that there were other creatures working for the Sector, had been since pretty much the dawn of time, why would she need to essentially fake her identity?

"She didn't realize what she was until a few years ago." Talia said to Stiles, ignoring Peter as they always did.

"How did she find out?" Stiles asked.

"I'm sure the dryness between her legs when around an Alpha-" Peter smirked, before he was cut off.

"Peter." Talia just sighed, covering her face with her hands. Stiles' face burned at the implication and John cleared his throat. No one made eye contact with each other.

Lydia never got a heat.

"The more appropriate answer-" Talia began.

"I'm not wrong." Peter waved his fork.

"Be that as it may, the fact is the Lydia didn't develop the same as the other children."

"Seemed pretty developed to me." Erica motioned, cupping two hands around her breasts.

Cora laughed, even as Laura glared at the immaturity of them both.

"We had other supernatural creatures at the school, a couple witches," Stiles shrugged. "So why hide what she is?"

"Like I said, she's rare. People love rare." Peter raised an eyebrow.

Stiles thought back to what Peter had said, about the certain things kept at the air base. Were there people there? And if so, where they being protected, or kept prisoner?

Sector Five was one of the most, if not the most powerful Sector, but at what cost?

Stiles swallowed, mouth suddenly dry. What if they were working so hard to protect the Omegas that they forgot about everyone else? There were far more extraordinary people out there, in hiding. Stiles had no doubt they weren't just afraid of Alphas.

"I need to put out another broadcast." Stiles spoke quickly.

Talia put down her fork and gave a brief nod. "May I ask what it is concerning?"

Stiles shook his head. "Not yet," Talia raised an eyebrow and Stiles swallowed. She was still his Alpha. Still in a position of power. Still helping him. "I mean, I haven't quite gotten it figured out."

Talia studied him, but after a moment, gave a nod. "Erica, Boyd, clean the table, would you?"

Erica looked like she wanted to argue, but Boyd immediately got to work. The table quickly was cleared of food, plates, and people, and Stiles was surprised to see Peter still sitting when everyone else had left, apart from Derek.

Peter looked at Stiles, as though he knew something the rest of them didn't. No. . . as though he knew what Stiles had been thinking and Stiles was right about it.

Derek grabbed Stiles' hand, sensing the tension, and started to lead him upstairs to their room.

It had started to get easier, calling it their room.

Stiles stopped on the bottom step, tugging Derek backwards. He furrowed his brow, but followed the Omega none the less as Stiles lead them to the front door. He grabbed both of their coats, Stiles' parka and Derek's black leather jacket, as well as Derek's keys off of their spot on the hooks.

Before anyone could question them, Stiles quickly went outside, with Derek hot on his heels, though he wasn't sure what they were doing.

Stiles slipped into his coat, the air frigid. He had read in one of the books Derek had let him borrow that Sector Five used to be warm almost year round. He wondered what had changed that, as winters here usually resulted in blankets of white snow. But it was still too soon for winter weather, and even as the temperature dropped, Stiles was far colder than he should be.

He walked towards the garage and as they entered it, tossed Derek the keys to the Camaro, who caught them without even looking.

Stiles climbed in the passenger seat and as soon as Derek started the car, he immediately began pressing the buttons that he assumed indicated heat, their bright red symbols drawing his attention. Derek backed out of the garage and waited at least half a mile before he turned to Stiles expectantly.

He hoped that half a mile was far enough from the Hale's that he could explain himself. Far enough to where they couldn't hear.

"Just a little farther." Stiles insisted. He knew that Derek really didn't want him away from the house, their little protective bubble, but also knew that he wouldn't keep him locked up there.

"Do you have a destination in mind?" Derek asked, unphased that Stiles had just yanked him out of the house.

Stiles thought for a moment. They obviously needed somewhere safe, who knew if there was someone keeping tabs on them. But he also needed somewhere that Derek would feel safe enough to bring Stiles to.

"The penthouse." He spoke. Derek remained silent, but did a quick u-turn, and flew down the road. Stiles watched him, as Derek's hands tightened around the steering wheel.

Once again, he thought back to that first night. How angry Derek had been, the claim so fresh that even the idea of Boyd, or Peter for fuck's sake, touching him or even being near him sent Derek into a frenzy.

Stiles snorted, remembering his first car ride in the Camaro. How stunned he had been, by their wealth, by the way Derek had been driving. He was terrified, for more than one reason, but now, he watched as Derek flew down the road, weaving in between the few other cars, and realized that he trusted Derek with his life. That was exactly why he was doing this.

"What?" Derek asked, noticing Stiles' mood shift into something. . . sort of funny.

"I was just thinking back to that first night again." Stiles shook his head, gazing out the window.

Derek raised his brow and cocked his head. "Which part?" He purred.

Stiles smacked his arm, earning a laugh. It was warm, made Stiles warm.

"I meant that first time in the Camaro. You offered to teach me how to drive." Stiles noted.

"I did." Derek nodded. "You'll have to pick out a car, first, no way in hell I'm teaching you in this car." He rubbed the steering wheel, making a loving face.

He was teasing, lighthearted, the jerk. Stiles loved it. Loved how Derek always knew how to make things better. How to make him feel better.

"I would have no idea what to look for." Stiles retorted. He didn't need a car, but learning how to drive would be fun.

"You could be like Erica and just pick something shiny, then learn about it afterwards." Derek shrugged.

Stiles laughed, he could picture that now. He had no doubt that regardless of the scenario, Erica would drive like she did when she had Stiles in tow, faster than the cops could ever go. His father had once talked about getting a cruiser, the vehicles the police used. But they were only given to the much wealthier, much higher up in the ranks government officials. Not Stiles' father.

"I would make a few recommendations, of course." Derek said.

"Like what?" Stiles asked.

"Well, it'd have to be reliable, safe. And it's got to go fast, we only have fast cars in this pack. Oh, and a roomy back seat."

"Why would I need a big back seat- Derek!" Stiles smacked his arm again, harder this time, but Derek didn't even flinch, only laughing again.

"Where is all of this coming from, hmm?" Stiles crossed his arms, making a face at Derek. He was in such a good mood.

"It's only fair of me to tease you back." Derek shrugged, glancing at the rear view mirror occasionally.

"Tease you back? Sarcastic comments, sure, but teasing. . ." Stiles trailed off.

"Oh you're a tease all right." There was that damned smirk again. He was going to kill Stiles with that smirk.

Lighthearted, laughing, but hands tight on the steering wheel, knuckles white. Hiding something, or simply on edge?

"Why are you so tense?" Stiles asked, nodding towards his hands on the wheel, which eased up only slightly.

"Well, you're only a few feet away from me right now, in a very small, enclosed space." Derek sighed slightly, jaw clinching, as though even saying the words made it harder.

Stiles smiled again. He would assume his role as a tease, if that's what he was. "Do I smell like literal fucking sunshine?"

Derek hissed as Stiles leaned slightly in, grin plastered on his face.

"Literal fucking sunshine. . . and me." Derek spoke, making Stiles swallow. That was. . . well that was hot.

Derek groaned. "Don't do that."

Just like that night Derek had claimed him, sat deeply inside of him, knotted him.

"Fuck, don't do that either." Derek huffed. He had asked that of him too, that night. It all came back to that night, didn't it? Stiles planned on making more memories, however. So when he thought of being fucked and filled by Derek, it wouldn't just be remembering that night, under the stars.

He would have thought that he would have tried to forget that night, had worried that it would haunt him, when his name was called. Afraid he would see it every time he closed his eyes. But as soon as he locked eyes with Derek it was like something. . . clicked. And he wasn't afraid anymore.

"Stiles." Derek spat, gripping the steering wheel with clawed hands.

"You had promised me you weren't going to crash, whether it be in a car or plane." Stiles crossed his arms, feeling smug. He liked having this. . . power over Derek. Liked making him feel this way.

"That was without distractions." Derek said quietly, though he tried to blink away the fog, focusing on the road.

"So, I distract you, Derek?" Stiles leaned closer, body practically over the console now. He thought about placing a hand on the man's thigh, but was afraid the man might literally crash. It might be worth it though, to see Derek tense under him.

"Is this why you wanted to go to the penthouse?" Derek asked, heart hammering.

Stiles supposed it would make sense and was sort of a great idea, though it wasn't his intention. A place where they could be alone.

"Not exactly, but now that it's on the table-" Stiles cut himself off with a laugh as the engine roared, Derek's foot literally pushing the gas pedal to the carpet.

"And what if I just stole you to talk business?" Stiles asked.

"Does it involve a desk?" Derek raised an eyebrow, breaking his gaze with the road to look at Stiles. It was Derek's turn to make Stiles' squirm, apparently.

This was better, a better kind of tension. They were happy, lighthearted, even given the circumstances. The world could quite possibly crumble around them and Stiles would have, and had had plenty of time worry about it. But the future would still be there. He wanted to make sure Derek was a part of it.

They bantered a little more the rest of the ride, though none of it was the same nature as their previous teasing. They, of course, arrived in record time, thanks to Derek's heavy foot on the gas.

Jennings wasn't there to great them this time Stiles noted, as Derek typed in some lengthy code to enter the penthouse.

All the lights were off when they stepped through the door, but sensing their motion, instantly flicked on. It was a little cold inside, Stiles noted, as he shrugged off his coat and hung it on the gold coat rack. The beauty of the place still struck Stiles. The Hale mansion was just as beautiful, but it was different. It was warm, full of comforting smells and warm colors. Stiles had gotten to the point that it was beginning to really feel like home.

This place just seemed like. . . like the image that the Hale's tried to portray, like what people thought Derek was. Some stuck up Hale Alpha, handed everything and sacrificing nothing. They didn't know what power he truly held, how he loved his people fiercely, and what he had done for Stiles.

"I do have to say, I'm a little surprised you actually brought me here." Stiles spoke, still looking up at the giant chandelier above his head, as they stood in the foyer. It sparkled in the light, the center of attention.

"Why is that?" Derek asked, crossing his arms.

"Well, I just mean, I haven't left the Hale mansion in about a week. You guys come and go, but. . . I don't know, I guess I just didn't know if you felt it was safe enough."

Derek frowned at that, considering his next words carefully.

"I always want to keep you safe, no matter the circumstances, but. . . I'm never going to keep you prisoner somewhere." He shook his head. "You aren't my trophy Stiles, something to show off when I feel like it and the rest of the time keep locked up behind a glass case. You are your own person and free to do as you wish, I've told you that since the beginning."

Stiles nodded. "No, I know, I guess I just mean. . . that it must be difficult for you, given everything." He waved his hands around, as though that would properly communicate what he was trying to say.

Everything meaning the Omega rights. Everything meaning their still incomplete bond.

"I will always sacrifice my. . . comfort for your freedom, Stiles." He said it sternly, as though he was reading a fact from a book.

Stiles nodded, not really having words to respond to something like that. To the fact that given the pain, the urge, Derek had done nothing to push Stiles.

"So, I wanted to talk to you about something." Stiles cleared his throat, cleared his thoughts. Derek nodded and lead them to the living room, motioning for Stiles to take a seat, as he started the fire.

"I know I probably shouldn't, but I've been thinking about what Peter said."

Derek snorted, but stood up, flames now growing tall in the fire place. He took a seat besides Stiles, but as always, kept a fair distance.

"What about, in particular?" He asked.

Time to put it all on the table, to ask the hard, almost accusatory questions.

"About the air base." Stiles spoke quietly, timid. He didn't want to make Derek upset, not because he feared him, but because he was beginning to care for him. He felt bad, they had been so lighthearted in the car, relaxed. Stiles didn't want to constantly talk about the things going on, but he had to know.

"You want to know what we've got hidden in there." Derek guessed. He guessed right.

"Peter is. . . he knows more than he should, for many reasons, but one of them being the fact that he takes something very complicated and tries to make it very simple." Derek shook his head.

This didn't sound like it was heading the right direction. This sounded like Stiles was going to get the answer he hoped he wouldn't.

Derek noted the look on Stiles' face and sighed. "Stiles, the first thing you need to know is the things Peter described there are there for a reason. They're dangerous and in the wrong hands could cause a catastrophe."

What kind of objects were there? And why were they hidden there?

"And to answer the question that no doubt has been gnawing at you, no, we don't have people there."

Stiles breathed a sigh of relief.

"But. . ." Derek began. "You remember when we were talking about the wards, how we have extras, stronger ones, around certain areas of Sector Five?" Derek asked, waiting for Stiles' nod.

"Mother explain the air base, the Hale mansion, but there are other places heavily warded."

"Like where?" Stiles asked. He hoped, given what they were discussing, that here was one of those places. That Stiles hadn't just put them both at risk.

"There are certain things we keep from Peter, from the rest of the world, for a good reason." Derek swallowed.

"Derek, I'm not going to say anything, it's why I wanted to talk here." Stiles motioned.

Derek stood, fidgeting. "One of those places heavily warded is here, otherwise I never would have agreed to bring you here."

Derek walked towards the fire, sticking his hands in his pocket. Stiles watched his back as it slowly rose and fell with his breath, watched his shoulders slowly grow less tense.

"I'm not worried about a war, Stiles." Derek spoke.

Stiles frowned. What did he mean by that?

"You sound confident-" Stiles began.

"Let me clarify. I'm not worried about losing a war, Stiles." Derek's shoulders grew tense again, as he stared into the blazing heat of the fire.

"Your first thoughts of us, of our power, you didn't overestimate us." Derek shook his head slightly.

The most powerful Sector in the world.

"Part of the reason we are so. . . successful is due to the people we are surrounded by. I don't mean the soldiers, though they play a vital role, but I mean those people my mother described, those who assisted with the wards. They assist with far more than just that."

Stiles wanted to stand, to move, to fidget, but remained seated and as still as he could.

"You mentioned that you only had a few people in your school who were other supernatural beings, that's for a reason." Derek huffed and turned around, folding his arms across his chest.

"Our Sector. . ." He struggled for the right words.

"My pack, this place. . ." He looked around. "We are far more than meets the eye."

No shit, Stiles had figured that out the minute his name was called out by Alpha Talia Hale.

"The Hale name goes back many millennia, but we adopted a few nicknames along the way. One that stuck, in every language, was The Protectors."

Stiles at least understood that. From the minute he met the Hale pack, no matter how terrified he was in those first moments, he was protected. Though he feared the future, he was always safe in the present.

"Sector Five is. . ." Derek trailed off again, words lost. "I need you to forget everything you know about our world's history."

"Done, I always sucked at history in school." Stiles shrugged. He only remembered a few key concepts, ones that were drilled into his head since he was a child. Facts that every member of society knew, like that there were fifty Sectors, each ruled by an Alpha.

"I need you to forget, because it's all wrong." Derek said and Stiles sucked in a breath.

How much of his life had been a lie?

Derek stood there for a moment, before moving quickly to a bookshelf. He flipped through several, before he seemed to find the right one. When he opened it however, there were no pages, only an empty box and a folded piece of paper.

He opened that paper quickly, revealing a huge map. He looked around for a moment, before he was gone in an instant, and back a second later with tacks. He pinned it above the fireplace, yellowed paper stark against the dimly colored walls.

"What is that?" Stiles asked.

"This, is our world." Derek waited for Stiles to pick his jaw up off the ground, before he continued.

"These patches of land here," he motioned. "According to the current textbooks, they don't exist. According to textbooks two hundred years ago, they are abandoned. According to what we know today, they are flourishing with life."

Stiles swallowed, shaking his head. Where Derek had pointed, that land and the ocean surrounding it, Stiles had never seen it before. It was like someone had ripped the map in half and burned a part of it, claiming the world was only the land they were currently on.

"There was a war, many years ago. It separated us," Derek pointed to the chunk of land that Stiles assumed was them, "from them." He stood in front of that section, effectively cutting it off.

"Many years after that, after the world separated itself, cutting ties completely, we did something similar."

Stiles leaned forward, puffing up his cheeks full of air before he released it slowly.

"There was already. . . separations in the land, but no official Sectors, you could travel freely from one part of the land to another. And so, there was no individual ruler over each Sector, rather, a ruler over the entire continent." Derek motioned to the entirety of the chunk of land seated in the ocean.

"But those separations, those became permanent, became the Sectors?" Stiles asked.

"Exactly. Sectors became. . . well, Sectors. Separated from others, ruled how they saw fit."

"Ruled by Alphas." Stiles spoke.

"Not originally." Derek raised a finger, going back to the bookshelf and grabbed an old green leather book, plopping it down on the coffee table. Stiles blew off the dust and waved his hand around to disperse the clouds of debris, opening it and flipping through the worn pages.

He slowed his flipping, realizing that each one had a large drawing of some sort of creature, a different one each page. Some were beautiful, while others were horrifying.

"During the second war, when Sectors separated and were able to govern as they saw fit, many did not wish certain people to be allowed in their Sector. The Alpha rulers were. . ."

"Controlling?" Stiles suggested.

"Power hungry. Alphas have this instinct, to protect, to lead. It's biological, but many Alphas think these traits, these desires, are their right to control, to do as they please. History has twisted the nature of what Alphas should be into something. . . other. But it wasn't just Alphas. Omega and Betas wanted a society with just wolves. While Alphas had been twisted in a rage of power, Omegas had been twisted into thinking that their entire purpose was to serve an Alpha. Other supernaturals didn't help their cause and therefore were of no use."

"So what happened to these people then?" Stiles motioned to the book, feeling sick.

"Many were banished from their Sectors and tried to flee to other Sectors, but doors were shut in their faces."

"Sectors don't usually let people cross freely. . ." Stiles thought back to the party at the Hale mansion, how there were other Alphas there, from other Sectors. But no other Omegas, no other Betas. He thought of how he had dreamed as a child of running away, finding a Sector that would be full of green pasture and rainbows, one that would take care of him, but how his father had told him that was just a dream. An impossible dream.

He thought of how guarded the Mating Run was, how they had flown him in, how each Omega had arrived one at a time, locked into a building with no escape, no taste of freedom or a way to find out more information on Sector Thirty-Seven.

"With no where to go, many died, many went extinct." Derek spoke. Stiles shook his head. It was horrible, what was done to them. And it wasn't just Alphas, he reminded himself.

"I told you how the Hale name goes back many millennia. We earned the name Protectors when Sector Five, freshly created, began accepting all creatures into its Sector."

"Weren't people mad?" Stiles asked.

"Many were furious. They dreamed of a society of peace, but their version of peace included only those controlled by the moon." Derek glared down at the ground. "But, Alpha Thomas Edward Hale was a stern man. Many called him The Brute. He acted purely on instinct, only ate live game, lived most of his life in the woods. . . and considered the safety and well being of his people, his pack, above everything else."

Derek stalked slowly towards that map, peering up at it. "His pack was close to a million strong. Alphas, Betas, Omegas, witches, warlocks, banshees, kanimas, hellhounds, kitsunes, everyone was welcome. Everyone was pack."

Stiles tried and failed to see that in his mind. He didn't even know half of those people existed. They were things of scary stories around a campfire, or a tactic parents used to get their children to be good. Some Stiles had simply never heard of.

"And he was slaughtered for it. For allowing others into the Sector, to his pack. He went down in history for having the largest pack in creation, but also for what he did. For accepting all. For being a Protector."

Derek clinched his jaw, looking up at that worn map, shaking his head slightly.

"There were many who left, Alphas furious, worried that these people would somehow take over, would retaliate. Omegas worried that they would be. . . left alone, that Alphas would procreate with these 'Others,' as they called them. I told you how biologically Alphas are called to protect, to lead. Omegas are called to support, to love. This idea too became twisted, into the idea that in order to fulfill their purpose, they had to be servants to the Alphas, they had to bare children."

"That's ridiculous." Stiles snapped. It was ridiculous on both sides, Omega and Alpha.

"And yet many still think this way." Derek frowned. "Betas, not fitting in with the Omegas and Alphas view of things, were actually the ones to rebel, in the eyes of the Omegas and Alphas that is. They befriended the Others, many married, mated, and bore children. They were trying to create a society of peace. . . but there were others on the outside who saw what was happening. Saw the change as Alpha Thomas's people were turning against him. And they struck, uniting with those who opposed the Others to bring him down. They beheaded him and stuck his head on a fence post at the manor for all to see, a display."

Stiles' stomach rolled.

"But through all the hate, all the fighting and war, they had missed one crucial element." Derek turned to Stiles finally. "Only a couple days prior, Alpha Thomas' power had been transferred down to his only son, Thomas Edward the Third."

"Alpha Thomas stepped down?" Stiles asked.

"No." Derek shook his head, taking a step closer. "There are certain times where another Alpha of the pack, of direct lineage, can take over without killing the head Alpha."

"How is that possible?" Stiles had never heard of such a thing. It was already not super common for Alphas to birth another Alpha, it was what made the Hale pack so powerful. Every child Talia had bore had been an Alpha.

Derek shook his head. "It isn't common, no one is really sure why it happens. Have you heard the story of the True Alpha?"

"The one where a Beta can turn into an Alpha, without murdering one?" Stiles asked. Again, a child's bedtime story.

"The translation, over the years, was lost. It was turned into a fable, a fun story to encourage bravery and motivation, but it was no Beta who turned into an Alpha by sheer will and deep rooted power."

"It's another Alpha, a member of the pack." Stiles assumed.

Derek nodded. "It is by no effort of the Alpha to take over. They don't try to, don't mean to, but something. . . something in nature shifts and at an exact moment the head Alpha's power gets broken, sent down to the True Alpha. The one, deemed by nature and the world order, who is supposed to rule over the pack."

Derek took another step closer. "This power was transferred to Alpha Thomas' son two days before he was murdered, as his pack was being slaughtered around him. Perhaps the world, the ancestors, I don't know, something knew what was going to happen."

"So when they killed him. . ."

"He was no longer the Alpha." Stiles thought about what people had called Derek. The Alpha Derek Hale.

"Thomas Edward the Third was similar to his father in many ways. He too got a nickname, More Wolf than Man. He was young when the power was shifted, the stories say only a teenager. He barely had control as an Alpha male, let alone the ruler of a million peoples, during the middle of an oncoming war. The night his father died was a full moon, his first full moon as head Alpha, where he would be most strong. A slip up on the killer's plan. Thomas the Third witnessed the murder of his father, watched as they killed him, and as soon as they hung his head on the spike, he killed the entire group, The Hunters, they called themselves. They hadn't seen him, hadn't sensed him coming. Many say he was like a ghost, many thought it truly was the ghost of Alpha Thomas Edward Hale, come back for revenge."

"How could he have the ability to do that, kill them all?" If they had killed Alpha Thomas Edward hale so easily, beheaded him, how could his son kill them all?

Derek swallowed. "When someone becomes a True Alpha, the power does not ease into them slowly, it slams into them, like a brick wall. Suddenly, your power as an Alpha is increased beyond measure and you are the strongest version of yourself. Alpha's strength increases with the size and power of their pack, and Thomas the Third just came in to power of quite an enormous one." Derek looked away again, this time out a window, revealing the night sky.

"The power consumed him. The only thing on his mind was his rage, vengeance for his father. So he slaughtered them as they had his father. Lined their heads up on every fence post surrounding the manor, didn't leave one empty. . . he was never the same after that. He had a mate, Margaret Josephine. Less than a year later she bore a child, but died during the birth. The loss, the grief," Derek shook his head, looking sick. "It consumed him and he died a day later."

"What about the baby?"

"Maynard Phoenix Hale grew up under the protection of his pack, what was left of it. They protected him, many died for him. By the time was of age to be a fit king, most of the Others had been massacred, as no one was there to stop it. Those who were alive either stayed loyal, fiercely until the end, or went into hiding. Years later, he took a mate and they had children. Alpha Maynard grew up with the same principles his father and his father before him did. To be a Protector. He just did it a little differently than the previous men."

"How so?" Stiles asked.

"Maynard used his people for the benefit of the Sector. During his lifetime, many came after him, his children, his people, but he was prepared. Wards had been instilled from the Others, protecting the Sector and its people. My mother tells me that by the time the wards were secure, almost the entire population of the Others was wiped out, either from being killed by The Hunters or the exhaustion of securing an entire Sector. Many went into hiding, protected, as promised, by Maynard and the rest of the Hales that followed after he was gone. For centuries, that has been our job." Derek smiled softly. "We Protect Those Who Cannot Protect Themselves."

"That's an Argent moto." Stiles shook his head. The Argents were a family of Beta wolves who worked in security, or so his father had vaguely explained to him. Their name had came up in a case once, but John refused to touch on the matter.

"Argents were once the majority of The Hunters, those who aimed to wipe out the Other population. But there was a man, Christopher Argent and his daughter, Allison Argent, who changed that. They changed the old crest, made it their own, and served as Maynard's right hand, until the day he died."

Stiles shook his head, this was all so insane. Derek took a seat next to him, wrapping his hand in Stiles'.

"So, long story longer," Derek smiled softly. "No, we don't have people at the air base, Stiles. We have them somewhere else."

Stiles opened his mouth to say something, but no words would form.

"They are under our protection, as they have been since the world you know came to life."

"Where are they, underground somewhere?"

Derek laughed. "No, Stiles, just as I don't lock up my Omega, I don't lock up the Others. They are in their own sort of town, much like this one. There are houses, restaurants, libraries, schools."

"But how is that possible?" Stiles asked.

"Is it really so crazy to think that there is a part of Sector Five, purely dedicated to those who are not like us?" Derek looked at the map again. Stiles didn't know half of it existed, didn't know half of the world existed.

"So they've been here the whole time." Stiles shook his head, still in shock.

"Right under your nose." Derek smiled again. "They of course are free to go wherever they like in the Sector, but most choose to stay in solitude, with their own kind."

"Do they know? I mean, about what's going on?" Stiles asked.

"They have access to the same news channels that we do, so yes. They know that my Omega has started an uprising." There was the lightheartedness again.

"And how do they feel?" Stiles asked.

Derek cocked his head to the side. "The Others have certainly no qualms about your proposal for a better world."

"You say that as though you speak to them frequently."

"Every other Thursday." Derek shrugged. Stiles hit him in the arm again, this time surprising Derek.

"So many secrets. . ." Stiles trailed off.

"Well, you never asked." Derek cocked his head.

"Smartass." Stiles rolled his eyes. "Would I be able to see it, one day? I mean, if they would be okay with it?"

Derek snorted. "Trust me, the Sirens have been begging me to bring you by."

Stiles shook his head. He couldn't stop thinking a mile a minute, couldn't process this all.

"You said you weren't worried about losing a war." Stiles noted, looking at Derek. "Was that because of the wards they built?"

Even though they had gotten past them.

"That was because I knew they would fight for me, if it came to that."

"I'd never ask them to do that." Stiles shook his head. He didn't even know they existed, he would never ask them to fight for his cause. Wouldn't use them as a pawn, as a power move.

"Neither would I, but I know they would." Derek shrugged.

"I can't believe the rest of the world, whatever that looks like now, doesn't know about this, about these people." Stiles shuttered at the thought of half of the world still alive and thriving, he didn't even know they existed.

"That was their choice. Better to live in exile, but at peace, than be killed for simply breathing."

Stiles nodded and he understood that. Understood why they wanted to be left alone. He wondered if there wasn't a biological component, if Omegas and Alphas might be better off, might thrive, alone.

But that wasn't what he wanted for the world, it just didn't feel right. The Others should be free to live as they like, but have the choice to do so alone or with the rest of the world.

The world was going to change, Stiles could sense it, could practically taste it. But it wouldn't just be because of him, or the Hale pack. It would be because of those stepping into the light, those who would be given a voice, those whose ancestors had fought for change.

***

The rest of the night was less. . . intense. Derek left Stiles alone for a little while to make dinner, a skill set Stiles didn't think Derek possessed. Even with Stiles' unsettled stomach, it was pretty good.

"It's so quiet here." Stiles noted, curling up on the couch in front of the fire.

"That's because you don't have to deal with the rest of the pack here." Derek snorted, taking a seat behind him. He grabbed Stiles' right ankle, yanking it into his lap and rubbing small circles there, as they did when they read.

"They have certainly kept busy." Stiles commented, mostly referencing Laura and the role she had been playing.

"Laura has. . . stepped up, so to speak. She's less interested in military training, more involved in the paperwork side of things, it's where she likes to be." Derek made a face, as though he would much rather risk his life on the battlefield than have to sit in an office all day.

"It seems everyone in your pack has a role." Stiles said, shivering as Derek's hand trailed slightly higher than high ankle, edging his calf.

"Each member of the pack is a valuable asset, but I would have chosen them either way." Derek shook his head, grabbing Stiles' other ankle and repeating the same circles, lighting a path of fire on Stiles' skin.

"How did you all even meet?" Stiles asked. He had asked before how it had worked, the entire pack, especially with all the Alphas, but it wasn't just the Hale's in the pack.

"They had no one else." Derek shrugged, though his brow furrowed, as though it upset him. "Boyd sort of raised himself, and his sister, Alicia. She went missing about ten years ago. A couple weeks later he joined the military program, having no where else to go and hoping that maybe he could use the military to track her somehow."

"Did he ever find her?" Stiles asked.

"No." Derek shook his head, looking grim. "Erica. . . she lacked confidence, lacked proper training. Her parents were never around and she got pushed around a lot at school. She needed someone to believe in her, needed to see how much value she held. Boyd was actually the one who suggested inviting her into the pack, they went to high school together and rekindled when she joined."

Stiles smiled at that, at how attached they were. They were so different, but so perfect for each other.

"And Isaac, his father. . . Isaac's father was a horrible man. I won't speak for the trauma he went through, I'm sure he would speak to you about it, if you ever asked him. Isaac needed out of the life that he was stuck in."

Stiles realized something then. Realized that Derek did for those Betas exactly what he planned on doing for people like Stiles. People who needed out, who needed a better life. Not only had he given them that, but he had made them pack. They were strong and fierce, but that was due to Derek's training, beyond that, there was nothing extraordinary about them. But, he chose them anyways.

"What did people say, when they came into your pack?" Stiles asked. If Boyd had joined the military, he couldn't have been young. They must have been in the pack for only a few years.

Derek shrugged, placing his palm on Stiles' shin, running it up and down slowly.

"I never really paid attention, really. I didn't care. I'm sure mother took care of any bad publicity though." Derek smiled softly.

"She must really have her hands full at the moment then."

Derek cocked a smile. "She's not trying to shut down the news, though, or silencing the concerns or comments of the bigots. She's. . . observing, planning the next move, I suppose."

"That sounds very. . . militaristic."

"We incorporate certain. . . strategies into other aspects of our lives, I do suppose." Derek smiled again.

Stiles could honestly see it, Alpha Talia Hale on that battlefield, rubble and death all around her. Still in that power suit, not a speck of dust on her as she obliterated her enemies.

"As long as you don't incorporate powdered eggs into our lives, I think I'll survive."

They both laughed at that, Derek making a face at the mere thought of the meals he had to eat.

For a few minutes, they just sat there. Derek rested his head on the back of the couch, hands still slowly rubbing Stiles' ankles, soothing and warm. Stiles just watched him, curled up and practically buried in the couch.

He never thought that this was how it would be, mated to an Alpha, or at least claimed by an Alpha. Never expected to just be with Derek, breathing the same air without an ounce of fear coursing through his veins. No chores, no berating, or controlling.

He wished it were like this, for everyone. Wished it could just be them, in this penthouse.

But he no longer wished for them to meet in a coffee house. No longer wished they were Betas, because they were here, like this for a reason. And as much as he would hate to credit the Mating Run, or the Hale's or even Derek, this never would have happened without them. This life, the opportunities Stiles had to speak out, never would have even been a possibility without them, but they never made it feel like he was in debt to them. They made him feel welcome, loved, right from the start.

And Derek, even during all the confusion, even fighting what his body was aching for, had always put Stiles first, no matter what. And he knew, without a doubt, that he would do it over and over and over again.

Stiles quickly leaned up, disturbing Derek's peace and making him turn to him, almost startled with Stiles' abrupt movement.

"I wish we could stay here." Stiles confessed, moving to where he side by side with Derek, touching his thigh to his own. He curled up, resting his head on Derek's shoulder, embracing the warmth, always embracing that warmth that radiated off the man.

"I know." Derek nodded, turning to breathe in Stiles' scent, rubbing his cheek on his head, scenting him slightly. He knew that he did too.

"We're going to be okay, right?" Stiles asked. He wasn't asking about the Omegas, or the Alphas, or the state of the world.

"Yeah, Stiles, we're going to be okay." Derek turned slightly, pressing a kiss gently to Stiles' temple.

"I think so too." Stiles spoke quietly, and he really meant it.

"Hey Derek?" Stiles pulled back slowly, barely un-gluing himself from Derek, who only hummed in response.

"If things were different, if we were like other mating pairs, what do you think we would be doing right now?"

"Honestly? Probably fucking."

Stiles sputtered, pulling back to shoot Derek a look, sending the man in a fit of laughter, which Stiles soon joined in on. It warmed Stiles from the inside out, the fireplace and Derek's body heat aside.

There was light among the darkness. There was heat among the cold. And it was going to be okay.

They were okay.