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Surely It's Impossible

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He needed to stop freaking out. I mean seriously, there was no reason to be this nervous.

There were people turning in hundreds of submissions, people whose hands were cramping from writing their name over and over. People who were praying in the corner that they would get chosen. People who were posting about it, trying to gain popularity as if this was The Bachelor. People who were secretly paying money to have their name put in more.

He had no reason to panic. He only put his name in once, he would be fine.

Taking a deep breath, Stiles rubbed his clammy palms on his slacks, leaning back in the uncomfortable plastic chair he was forced to be seated in. He scratched at his neck, not used to wearing a suit, he felt like he was being choked.

Stiles was one of the few people who didn't want to be entered into the Mating Run. Many people dreamed of it from the time they knew how to speak, dreamed of having an Alpha to take care of them, to have riches and glory, forever in the limelight. It made Stiles shiver.

Of course, there were many entering their name for the money. They knew that if they got chosen for the Mating Run, the money would be rolling in from the heavily televised event. It would be over all social media platforms all over the globe, not to mention the fact that Alphas were known for being wealthy, royalty really. Those chosen would have their name forever in the history books as the Mating Run Selection for that year and would never have to worry about money or popularity ever again.

Most people were greedy, they wanted the fame and the money, and could care less about the Alpha. They didn't care if they got knocked up, if they were forced to do what the Alpha wanted, didn't matter as long as they got to wear designer clothes and never worry about their next meal.

Stiles understood that aspect of things, to a degree. Sector 5 wasn't exactly wealthy. They had a high homeless population, many children growing up in poverty, and most families were low income.

Even so, Stiles couldn't stomach the idea. The idea of being taken out of his family, out of his normal life, and thrown into an arena where he had to run for his life, whilst being chased by Alphas, all wanting to mate him. And if selected, never being able to return to his previous life, never having contact with anyone from his previous life. He would be controlled by an Alpha until the day he died.

Stiles couldn't do that. He couldn't leave his dad, or Scott. They were his family, his only family, and he didn't want a new one, certainly not with a wealthy Alpha who wanted to parade him around.

Stiles looked around, watching all of the other Omegas.

Many looked white-faced, stepping into the private rooms to turn in their submissions. Some were carrying stacks of three hundred or more submissions, others carried a handful.

Of course, there were rules. No one could submit more than a thousand submissions, legally anyway. People still found a way to do it every year. And of course, all Omegas had to submit one, up until the age of forty. Most by then were married and didn't bother to submit more than one. No one that old had ever been selected anyways, they wouldn't look as good on television.

Of course, it always seemed that the popular Omegas were chosen. The ones who everyone knew. The wealthy. The ones who submitted thousands and acted surprised they were chosen. They were the ones who always had speeches prepared.

No one had been selected who deserved it in years, some would argue ever. It was ironic really. The entire reason that the Mating Run event was created was to help Omegas find a better life. Instead, it turned into a bloody fight for gold.

Taking another glance around, Stiles' eyes settled on a young girl. She must have been eighteen, as that was the youngest age you could start submitting. She had tear-filled eyes and was wringing her hands together nervously.

Maybe she too was praying she wouldn't be selected, a rare occurrence, but as Stiles watched her mother hug her, whispering not to worry, she would be chosen, Stiles realized he was still alone.

Even Scott was in favor of the Mating Run, but Stiles wasn't sure he got a vote considering he was a Beta. Stiles felt Beta's had it easiest. They would never be forced to submit to an Alpha like Omegas had to. They got to work normal jobs and live normal lives and actually got to choose who they got to love.

A man came out after turning in his submission, taking a seat next to Stiles. Pretty soon the drawing would be announced.

Everyone's chatter came to a dull hush, as everyone took their seats. Everyone waited, heart's beating loudly, throats thick with nervousness and emotion.

Stiles heard a shaky breath and looked over his shoulder, spotting Lydia Martin.

Stiles knew in his heart she would be chosen. She was beautiful, young, and one of the few people in Sector Five who was wealthy. She was small, something Alphas saw quite appealing. It was easier to get them to submit and gave Alphas more confidence, not that they needed any. She was also quite womanly, with perky breasts and a thin waist, perfect for bearing children. Stiles had had a crush on her for years, until he finally came to the conclusion it would never, ever, happen. That conclusion took a while, however, all of his high school years.

Turning back around, Stiles looked to the stage in front of him, as Talia Hale walked across, black heels clicking against the brown flooring. She reached the podium and the room drew so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. Stiles' mind was telling him to cough to break the silence, but he resisted.

"Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for being here." Her voice boomed across the room, the microphone completely unnecessary in all actuality. Alphas had that ability.

Stiles wanted to snort, as if they had a choice. He crossed his arms and leaned farther back into his chair, stretching his legs as far as he could, getting a glare from the man seated next to him.

"We are so pleased to be entering into the twenty-seventh season of the Mating Run."

Everyone clapped, while Stiles tried not to groan. Twenty-seven years of the same horror story over and over and Stiles had only been alive for the last eighteen years. He could only imagine what life must have been like before.

Most of the older generation fully believed the Mating Run forever changed society positively, but there were others such as John Stilinski who subtlety disagreed.

"As you all are well aware, this tradition has benefited our Sector greatly. Not only do new, healthy, relationships form between Alpha and Omega, but the event increases productivity and sales in all areas of economics. It's inspiring and encourages positivity and equality for all."

Several nods were seen across the crowd, some grunting in approval and agreeance.

"Now then, for the rules." Talia gave a small smile.

Stiles snorted, receiving glares from his neighbors. Everyone knew the rules, they had grown up learning about the event in schools, in books, at home, and on the playground. There were even posters in the bathroom.

"Each Omega from the ages of eighteen to forty was required to turn in a submission with their name on it. There is a maximum of one thousand submissions and as per a new rule this year, anyone discovered with over a thousand submissions is automatically disqualified."

This earned several gasps and made Stiles perk up a little more. So they were finally enforcing the rules. . . Stiles wondered why. He also knew that this eliminated a fair chunk of submissions, making his back begin to sweat.

"We of course always encourage Omegas to submit the maximum amount of submissions, however, do not forget that we draw only one. Anyone can be the next candidate."

Stiles' heart was in his chest. It was if she was looking straight at him, pouring into his soul, warning him, mocking him, you're next. You're next.

Stiles cleared his head. No, it would be fine. He was fine. One submission out of near millions. Not him.

"We have counted up all the submissions and would like to thank our volunteers and staff for their help." She listed off several names and everyone paused to clap for the people they didn't know and didn't care to know.

"Now for the moment you've all been waiting for, we are ready for the drawing. Please remember to hold all applause until after the name is spoken."

Cameramen straightened their backs, people started to jiggle their legs and Stiles bit his thumbnail.

Talia took a breath and began to open the vanilla envelope, sealed with the Sector Five emblem. Stiles always wondered who actually drew the name. Did Talia Hale herself draw it, then place it in an envelope to make a dramatic scene?

Everyone held their breath, waiting for the name to be called, praying it would be them. Some had their eyes closed, unable to bare it. Others clasped hands with their friends, white knuckles protruding.

Stiles felt like he was going to throw up, he knew he shouldn't be so nervous, but being newly eighteen, knowing that this was the year he would be forced to submit, the year it could all come true, was nerve-racking none the less.

"This year's Mating Run Selection for Sector Five is. . ." She pulled out the tiny slip of paper with her perfectly manicured red nails, painstakingly slow.

That was when Stiles felt it. The drop in his stomach. He knew this was more than nerves, this was something different. This was. . . a warning.

"Omega Stiles Stilinski, of the Stilinski household."

Nobody clapped. Nobody breathed. It took a solid few seconds for everyone to register what had happened, including Stiles.

The first sound heard was a sob from a young girl, devastated she had lost. From there it was mass chaos. Grumbling turned into yelling, claps turned into cheers, and people began to smack Stiles on the back, congratulating him, while others turned their bodies completely away from him, as though they were absolutely disgusted by the idea of Stiles winning. He certainly was.

"Stiles Stilinski?" Tali's called, searching the crowd.

Stiles couldn't move, couldn't breathe. This couldn't be happening. Not to him. Not to one name out of millions. There was a mistake. A glitch in the system. This was wrong, oh so very wrong.

"Go up there Stilinski!" Jackson yelled, seemingly angry as well. In a way, Stiles was surprised. You'd think he would be glad his girlfriend, Lydia, didn't get chosen. Perhaps he wanted to be. Or perhaps he didn't understand why or how someone like Stiles could possibly be chosen.

Stiles couldn't move, couldn't think.

Somehow, Scott had left the guest section of the crowd and found him. Quickly, he pushed past people and crouched down low, placing his hand on Stiles' knee in a sign of comfort.

"Come on man, you can do this. Take a breath. Just go up there, shake her hand, and we can leave right after. You can do that." Scott squeezed his thigh again and pulled him up forcefully.

Stiles felt queasy and pale in the face, but focused on taking one step in front of the other. He was on the verge of a panic attack and tried to will it away.

Slow awkward claps began to erupt and Stiles could feel the stares, the cameras, and the lights beating down on him, weighing him down.

The applause didn't stop until he reached the stage, amazingly not tripping on the stairs, though he gripped the handrail so hard he heard the metal squeal in protest.

Talia reached out her hand and Stiles swallowed back his vomit.

"Congratulations, Mr. Stilinski." Stiles shook her hand and she held onto it well after he was done, turning towards the cameras, moving his body as well. She smiled boldly towards the cameras, all for show, Stiles knew, but he did not smile.

That was the first time he had gotten a truly good look at the crowd, thousands of people, hundreds of cameras, all pointed towards him, waiting for him to make a move or to speak.

But he had nothing. Nothing prepared, nothing to say. It was then, looking at the cameras, and the journalists taking notes, and the flashes of cameras that Stiles grew angry. He practically ripped his hands out of Talia Hale's hands, forming a fist.

He didn't want this and he was about to tell the world exactly what he thought.

"Thank you all for coming out. I hope you have a wonderful evening." Talia nodded once.

Even in the midst of his fury, Stiles was in a way thankful for that moment, the moment Talia Hale saved his skin. Alphas were good at reading emotions though, she probably smelled his fury.

Alpha Talia Hale quickly placed a hand on Stiles' back, rushing him backstage.

Once they were back there, he was immediately swarmed by the crew. People in suits and pencil skirts, with headsets and walkie-talkies. He was bombarded with congratulations, questions, comments, and instructions, all in the forms of shouting.

He felt as though he was going to pass out, but could only hold up a hand, willing them to stop.

"Everyone back off, I've got it from here." Talia said sternly, effectively shutting everyone up.

"But-" A young blonde started.

"Return to your duties. Mr. Stilinski, follow me."

Stiles had no option but to do so. To even be in the presence of Alpha Talia Hale was an extreme honor, but Stiles could only focus on not throwing up.

She quickly weaved him between dull colored hallways and finally to a small unoccupied room that looked like it was for storage.

Closing the door behind him, she pointed to a seat, and Stiles greatly took it, instantly throwing his head in his hands and elbows on his knees, crouched over and focusing on taking deep breaths.

"Just breathe Mr. Stilinski," Talia spoke rather softly, surprising Stiles. He had never seen Talia be so gentle, she was always stern and serious, very rarely offering up a smile unless it was to appease the press.

Stiles shook his head, eyes still covered. This couldn't be real, this had to be a nightmare.

"I can see you're not happy with this choice."

Stiles snorted. "That's the understatement of the year." He was embarrassed by how wrecked his voice sounded. He wanted to burst into tears, but he would not give anyone the satisfaction of seeing him cry.

"That's quite rare. I haven't seen someone be disappointed in around fifteen or so years." Talia crossed her arms.

"Well, I guess I'm just a record-breaker." Stiles threw up his arms, standing quickly and turning from Talia. He placed his hands on his hips and hung his head low, staring at the light grey cement ground.

"I suppose you're referring to how your name was only submitted once."

Stiles scoffed, growing angry again.

"Yeah, I suppose I am." He faced her. "Out of everyone, those who submitted thousands, those who found a way to cheat, and you can't tell me they didn't, those who begged and bribed for this, those who are crying right now out of disappointment, those who are fighting in the streets for a place to sleep, and you choose me? Me? Someone who never wanted this, someone who never asked, why? Why?" Stiles' eyes filled with tears.

"The drawing system chooses who it chooses, Mr. Stil-"

"Don't try to feed me that line of bullshit Alpha Hale."

"Watch your tone, young man." Talia said sternly, but Stiles ignored her.

"Every year it's the same pattern. Someone who submitted thousands of submissions, someone who is popular and perfect. Someone who never had to worry about their next meal, someone who will look great on television, someone who has been preparing for this moment their whole life. That isn't the random drawing system, that's the government system. That's politics. That's the media. And that isn't me."

Stiles breathed heavily and Talia remained calm.

Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Stiles spoke again. "With all due respect, Alpha Hale, you're a liar. Everyone knows it. You're a great Alpha, but you're a liar. The entire system is a lie and I want no part of it."

"With all due respect, Mr. Stilinski, you seem to forget what an opportunity this is." Talia spoke, growing angry.

"Oh, I am well aware of what an opportunity this is. What this all means. And I don't want it. Give it to someone else."

With that, Stiles threw open the door, shaking the hinges and stormed off.

"Mr. Stilinski!" Members of the crew called, willing him to stop, but he did no such thing, shoving past them all.

Following the glowing red exit sign, he opened a door to the outside, quickly taking off, but as soon as he did, he was stopped. Damn, they were fast. Security was instantly on him, tackling him to the ground.

"Get the fuck off of me! Get off!" He screamed, face scraped against the pavement and arms being twisted in a painful manure. He could feel the blood running down his face and heard something pop in his shoulder.

Without warning, he was pulled to his feet, panting and still fighting. He was aggressively turned towards the door where Talia Hale stood, amused.

Stiles spit out blood on the ground. "So it's already begun? Me having no choice for the rest of my life. Being forced to abide by your sick rules."

His arm was pulled even harder, cutting him off. He refused to scream in pain.

"Take him." Talia nodded to the security. They made quick work throwing him in the back of a black SUV and locking the doors.

Stiles threw his head back on the headrest. There was no way out. This was his life. He wouldn't ever get to go back to Beacon Hills. Never speak to his dad again. Tears welled up in his eyes and he decided to close them, resting his head on the window.

He stayed there for several minutes, never moving, barely breathing. He didn't try to think of a way to escape, a way to talk himself out of this situation. There was no way out. Even so, he hadn't yet reached acceptance.

Perhaps once all the Alphas saw his little scene (and he was sure it would be televised) they would decide they didn't want him. Stiles scoffed at the idea. An Omega hadn't been refused in the history of the Run.

Several more minutes later, the driver's side door opened, revealing a large African American man.

"Mr. Stilinski." The man nodded, before climbing in and starting the car. "My name is Boyd."

Stiles sighed, looking at the window as Boyd began to pull out of the building.

"Alpha Hale specifically wanted me to instruct you not to worry." Boyd spoke deep and gruffly.

Stiles snorted. "Right."

"I'm just following orders." Boyd shrugged. It was evident he really didn't give a shit how Stiles felt.

"Well, Boyd, I appreciate your willingness to fall on your knees for your Alpha."

Boyd flashed his eyes at Stiles through the rearview mirror. His glowing gold eyes screamed Beta.

"You should be grateful Alpha Hale is the Alpha over Sector Five." He spoke as if he had a personal opinion in the matter, but Stiles didn't bother to question it.

"Sorry, grateful isn't exactly in my vocabulary right now." Stiles glared. Boyd didn't reply.

After several moments of Stiles glaring out the window, his heart dropped.

"Wait, are we already headed there?"

"No. It's customary to attend a party the night of the selection."

"Fan-fucking-tastic." Stiles clunked his head on the window.

Once again, Boyd didn't respond.

"How far away are we then?" Stiles groaned.

"Nearly there."

Within a few minutes, they were pulling up to a huge iron gate. Boyd leaned out over the window and motioned to the guards, while Stiles was busy shitting himself.

The gate had a giant H on it, this was the Hale mansion.

"Why the fuck am I at the Hale mansion?"

"It's where the party is held. Come on." Boyd cut the engine after parking the car right in front of the door and opened Stiles' door. There were people rushing around everywhere, preparing for the party.

"Thanks, Charles." Stiles nodded.

Boyd glared and took off towards the front door, Stiles slow to follow. Before Boyd could even open it, the door was opened by a young woman.

"You must be Stiles." The woman spoke.

"Must already be all over national news." Stiles murmured.

"Go easy." Boyd warned the girl.

"Oh hush, come in, come in!" The young woman had long black hair with a slight curl to it, as well as striking green eyes. Her skin was an olive complexion and she was dressed in a casual red sweater and jeans.

After shutting the door, the woman turned. Stiles could instantly tell she was an Alpha.

"I'm Laura Hale." She smiled.

Stiles swallowed. Why was he meeting the Hales?

"I'm Stiles, of course, you already know that."

She laughed. "Yeah, the whole world knows who you are, especially after your little stunt."

"Shit." Stiles huffed.

She laughed again. "Don't worry sugar, the whole world already loves you. No one says it, but everyone's tired of seeing the same story over and over again. An Omega who tries to run away and takes on six security guards? Now that's a story everyone wants to follow, forget the rich bitch from Sector Twenty-Four."

Stiles managed a tiny smile. He at least appreciated the fact that Laura was trying to make him feel better.

"Guess there is no escaping the limelight now." He shrugged.

She smiled softly. "As if there ever was. The world is full of leaches. All attached to their screens, starving to live a life of glamour, so much so they try to live vicariously through other people that are wishing the exact same thing." She began to walk, motioning for Stiles to follow.

"Gotta say, I didn't expect a Hale to say something like that."

"Well, I guess we're both full of surprises," She smiled. "Let's get you cleaned up."

She led him to a bathroom, where she wet a rag and wiped all the blood off of his face. She frowned, looking at his appearance.

"I don't know much about first aid, but I think you should be all right." She smiled softly. She began to walk again, until they both took a seat on a plush looking couch.

"So, I didn't get much from your bio, what's your life like?"

Stiles snorted. "I put the least amount of information as possible. If you haven't noticed, I was trying to avoid getting chosen." Each candidate had to submit a bio with basic information. Name, where they were from, who their parents are, their education, and a little about themselves. The bio had a maximum of 500 words and most used every bit of it, except Stiles of course. He filled out all required fields and left the rest blank.

Stiles shrugged. "My life wasn't anything special."

"You say wasn't, past tense." Laura turned her head to the side, curious.

Stiles nodded. "Yeah, well that life is over, so."

"Well that's not true, I mean-"

"Right, because visitations from my dad and yearly visits to my home town to show people how fucking great the Mating Run is and how perfect my life is, is the exact same as my old life."

Laura frowned, looking down. "I know this isn't ideal, but-"

"Laura." Talia spoke from a doorway, cutting her off and seeming to communicate with her eyes alone. Stiles startled looking at her, fearing she would scold him for his planned escape, but she did no such thing.

"Let me show you to your room." Laura smiled tight lipped.

Stiles followed her through the mansion, not having time to stop and be amazed by everything around him. They walked up the stairs and eventually she opened a door towards the end of a hallway and motioned.

"This is your room. Hopefully, you find it satisfactory."

Stiles literally laughed out loud. "You really don't know much about me then. I slept on the floor for most of my life, yeah, I think a king-size bed and more square footage than I've ever seen will suffice."

Laura nodded, feeling awkard. "Well. . . good. Dinner is at six. I can let you get acquainted for a little bit. The party is at eight. You'll have to be dressed accordingly, someone will be here to get you set up."

Laura started to leave the room when Stiles stopped her.

"Wait. What is this party business all about?"

"You." She smiled and closed the door.

Stiles was fucked. I mean honestly, what was going on? Nobody knew too much on the inside scoop of things that occurred before the Mating Run, but a party? And dressed for the occasion, what did that even mean? Who all would be there?

Stiles took a seat in the bed, focusing on taking deep breaths.

Thoughts raced through his head a mile a minute. If the Hales were hosting, did that mean that one, or possibly several of them, would be entering the Run? Was that even legal, given the fact that Stiles had met them? And given the fact that Talia Hale basically ran the fucking thing?

He just wanted to talk to his dad, the person he talked to most about his problems. The person he loved the most in this entire world. He didn't even get to say goodbye, didn't get to say I love you.

He remembered the last conversation they had. They had barely even discussed the drawing, knowing there was no point, as they were both certain it Stiles couldn't possibly be chosen. They were talking about a case his dad was working on, a man stealing from a local grocery store. They had made blueberry pancakes that morning, a rare treat, only for celebration. His father had argued that if other people were celebrating, they should be too, and that meant with original maple syrup, not the sugar free kind.

A soft knock wrapped on the door. "Mr. Stilinski?" A young curly-headed kid poked his head through the door.

"Just Stiles." He mumbled.

The man nodded. "I've come to let you know that dinner is ready, please follow me."

Stiles nodded, standing. He quickly removed his suit jacket and tie, unbuttoning the top buttons, still uncomfortable and not caring about looking his best. If he was going to be forced to go to a dinner, he wasn't going to look the part.

The kid seemed around Stiles' age and was casually dressed in a green sweater and jeans.

"My name is Isaac by the way. Isaac Lahey."

The name sounded familiar, but Stiles couldn't place why. He figured they probably went to the same high school or something.

Soon they entered the dining hall, filled with a huge mahogany table and many wolves already seated. Talia sat at the head of the table, in a more intricate chair.

"Mr. Stilinski, I'm so glad you joined us." Talia spoke.

"Would you rather me come in kicking and screaming?" Stiles asked. The entire table laughed, startling Stiles. He wasn't joking.

"Not in particular." She shook her head no.

"Well I for one am all for your stunt, I thought it was absolutely fucking hilarious." A scantily clad blonde spoke. Her breasts were practically spilling out of her tight shirt and her eyeliner was thick.

"Erica, language at the table." Talia snapped. Erica turned her neck slightly, submitting.

That was going to be Stiles' life from now on. Submitting after only a glance.

More wolves continued to fill in seats, all but one, to the right of Talia. Stiles wondered who was supposed to fill that one. Right of the Alpha was supposed to be second in command, but it remained empty.

Plates were passed out and everyone dug in once Alpha Hale gave the nod, a tradition, but Stiles only picked at his food, still feeling queasy from the day.

"So Stiles, why don't you share a little about yourself? We'd all like to get to know you." Talia spoke. The entire table grew quiet, all eyes on him.

Stiles sighed, putting down his fork. "Really? I don't see why." He crossed his arm. He hated being the center of attention and didn't feel like sharing his life story with strangers who had nothing in common with him.

"Why what?" Talia asked.

"Why you would all like to know about me? I am just a face in the game right? Someone to boo, someone to cheer for. Someone to keep up with, all of my embarrassing moments, fits of rage, hell, even watching me take a shit if part of your fun isn't it?"

No one spoke. "You wanna know about me? I grew up in the streets until I was twelve, when my dad finally could secure a job. From there, I lived in an apartment where I saw more cockroaches on the walls and needles on the ground than I did meals on the table. I went to school, where I was beaten weekly and flunked out. I got a job, where I was harassed every night leaving work, fearing for my life. While others grew up around me dreaming of mating a big strong Alpha, I grew up praying I would never be entered, because while the other Omegas saw wealth and power as freedom, I saw being left alone as freedom. I didn't want this, I still don't. I don't need it, I don't deserve it. While you all think it's hilarious I try to escape and "make a scene," just remember I'm going to try to do so every damn day, so I don't have to be stuck in this shitty piece of crap system that demands I be fucked and filled with pups while cameras are on me constantly for you lazy fucking inbreds to be entertained."

With that, Stiles got up so fast his chair squeezed across the floor and stormed off to his chamber, leaving the room utterly silent and shocked.

He tried to be thrilled by what he just said, how he had told them off, but he wasn't. He was upset. It didn't really make him feel any better and it wouldn't change anything. He would still be stuck here, except now he probably made things worse for himself.

He just wanted to go home. To be left alone. To have his life go back to normal.

As he climbed in the unfamiliar bed filled with unfamiliar scents, he cried, messy and long. Sobs wracking his chest and red cheeks stained permanently with tears.

He let it all out, all the anger, sadness, and pain. He cried for his dad, for Scott, for his life. He cried for his future. He cried for the life he had to live. And most of all, he cried for the freedom he had fought so hard to get, that was being ripped out of his hands right in front of him.

***

Somehow, Stiles managed to fall asleep. It was a dreamless sleep, one that felt only a few minutes long, when in actuality it was a little over an hour.

He woke with a start when there was a knock on the door.

Quickly shooting up out of bed, Stiles looked around. Damn. It wasn't all a dream. This hell was a reality.

"Mr. Stilinski?" A woman called.

Stiles sighed heavily and stood up. He walked over to the door and opened it.

An older woman with brown hair smiled back at him, little wisps of grey hairs sticking out of her messy bun. She was carrying a large bag over her shoulder.

"Hey, honey. My name's Caroline. Mind if I come in?"

Stiles nodded, opening up the door entirely.

"I'm here to get you ready for the party."

"Oh. Right." Stiles nodded. He was hoping the party was canceled after his outburst. No such luck.

"Now then. I've got a suit here for you." She unzipped the bag, revealing a beautiful navy blue suit, with a white collared shirt and a red tie. She also brought out brown dress shoes and a few other items.

"We'll make you look all spiffy." She smiled greatly.

Stiles knew he shouldn't, but he liked her. She was friendly and just seemed. . . warm.

"So, what exactly is this party all about? Laura just said it was about me." Stiles asked, gathering the clothes in his hand.

"Well, she's pretty much right. It's a celebration of the Mating Run Candidate, a celebration of a new season. Everyone, well all the important people, will be here to see you."

Stiles swallowed. "Well, that's not terrifying."

Caroline chuckled. "Don't you worry sugar. They are all excited to see you, they're happy for you. Besides, the Hales will keep you safe."

Stiles nodded, still on edge.

"Now then, go change, I only have so much time to make you my masterpiece."

Stiles went to the joined bathroom, quickly changing. This was the second time today he had to wear a suit, and he wasn't thrilled.

Even so, he had to admit that it fit perfectly. He wasn't sure how they got his exact measurements, but somehow they did. The pants were snug and complemented his legs, elongating them, and the jacket didn't swallow him as his cheap one did. The shoes even fit great and were surprisingly comfortable. The whole ensemble probably cost more than his entire collection of paychecks.

He straightened his tie and walked out to a beaming Caroline.

"Oh my, my! Don't you look sweet! These Alphas are going to eat you up!"

That wasn't exactly comforting.

"Now then, come here." She motioned with her hands. Standing on her tiptoes, she reached up to Stiles' hair, while he squatted down to help her out.

She ran her fingers through it, gently pulling and reshaping it with a slight bit of pomade.

"There. Officially my masterpiece. Guys are so much easier. You throw on a suit and suddenly you're a runway model. It isn't fair really." She frowned. "Alright sugar, that's all for me. Isaac will be in for you shortly." With that, she grabbed her things and turned to leave.

"Wait!" Stiles exclaimed.

She turned back around, eyes raised expectantly.

"Uh. What exactly do I have to do tonight?"

"Just follow the Hales, they'll be showing you off. People will shake your hand, throw them a nice smile and down a few glasses of champagne if you can. The night will be over before you know it." She winked, before making her exit.

Stiles took a shaky breath, looking at himself in the mirror. He certainly didn't look like someone who would be drawn as the Candidate. Eyes too big, skin too pale, body too skinny, not to mention his scraped face.

At least Caroline had managed to do something with his hair.

A knock came again and Isaac opened the door.

"Hey." He gave a soft smile. "You look great."

Stiles nodded. "So do you."

Isaac was dressed in a simple black suit with a black skinny tie with more defined curls than Stiles last saw.

"You ready?" Isaac asked.

"No, not at all, but I'd rather get this over with, so lead the way."

Isaac nodded.

As he led Stiles down the hallway, the noise grew louder. People chatting, glasses clanging, soft music, and the occasional fit of laughter.

"Just a piece of advice, when you don't know what to say or do, just smile."

"That's the best you've got?" Stiles hissed.

Isaac shrugged. "They just came here to see you and most were forced to come anyways. They already know that you aren't like every other Candidate before. They don't know what to expect from you, so just be as normal as you can."

Isaac paused right at the top of the stairs.

"This is it, remember, just smile. Talia's going to meet you at the base of the stairs, so just don't fall on your face on the way down." Isaac grinned and turned to walk away, leaving Stiles all alone, about to make his grand entrance.

He just had to run down the stairs and not fall, it would be fine. Please God let it be fine. . .

Stiles took a deep breath and shoved his left hand in his pocket in hopes to stop it from shaking. He took a step into the light and wanted to turn right back around.

At the bottom of the stairs was a mass amount of people, all dressed in suits and glitter and gold, chatting loudly and drinking often. They hadn't yet noticed Stiles and he was thankful for that.

Quickly, he glanced down at Alpha Hale, who was waiting. She gave him a small smile and nod, reassuring him.

With another breath, Stiles took another step out, and heads began to turn. Applause instantly erupted and people began to cheer. Quickly, Stiles dropped his head and started to walk down the stairs, focusing on his steps. He felt like he was walking down the stairway to hell.

After what felt like years, he reached Alpha Hale, who wrapped her arm into Stiles' elbow, making it look like Stiles was escorting her, when in actuality it was the other way around.

She gave a big smile and squeezed his arm, trying to calm him down. Soon the crowd quieted down, all eyes on the both of them.

"Good evening everyone. I am so glad you are here."

Stiles tried to breathe, looking back at the crowd that was staring at him.

"As you all know, tonight is a celebration. We are thrilled to welcome Mr. Stiles Stilinski into our home. I hope you all get the absolute pleasure of meeting him, he truly is a unique individual."

Several people softly laughed. So everyone had indeed seen his attempted escape.

"Now then," Talia suddenly had a glass of champagne in her hands. "To a night full of celebration, joy, and laughter. Cheers!"

Everyone raised their glasses and went around clinking them, while Talia leaned in close.

"You're doing great. Just keep smiling and follow my lead."

Stiles was honestly surprised Talia was being this kind to him after what he had done only two hours ago. He knew he wasn't exactly kind and that Talia had opened up her home to him, but that didn't mean that he wanted that in the first place.

"Alpha Hale!" A man quickly walked over to them, before they had even made it three feet away from the staircase. He was quite a short man, with brown hair cropped short and a nicely trimmed beard. He was sporting a dark grey suit with a red bow tie. He seemed to be in his forties or so, and his receding hairline secured the guess.

"Ah, Tom, how are you?"

"Quite well, thank you. Ah, Mr. Stilinski, such a pleasure to meet you." He slightly bowed. Stiles felt awkward. Never in his life had someone ever shown this much respect towards him and he wasn't sure he liked it.

"Uh, yeah you too."

"Stiles, this is Alpha Tom, of the Clayton household. He's a few hours from Beacon Hills." Talia motioned.

Tom nodded. "Yes, Forest Falls is a lovely place, you must come visit sometime!"

"I'll put it on my to-do list." Stiles smiled tightly.

"Excellent!"

"If you'll excuse us, Tom," Talia spoke, leading Stiles away.

"You're doing great." She smiled, slightly squeezing his arm.

Stiles relaxed ever so slightly, though his back was still rigid with nerves as he continued to be lead around the room by Talia. People were constantly staring, though some did try to make it look like they weren't. Even so, it was painful to be apart of. Stiles had never had all eyes on him and while most people in his situation would probably revel in the attention, Stiles just wanted to return to his room.

Soon they were approached by a woman with dark skin and bold blue eyes. She only seemed to be around her thirties or so and was drop-dead gorgeous. Wearing a sparkling forest green dress that hugged her curves, she screamed powerful femininity.

"Talia, so nice to see you again." She smiled big and bright, revealing her stunning white teeth.

"You as well, Jafari."

"My, my. You must be Stiles. Such a unique name no?" Jafari turned her head to the side.

"Well, I've never exactly heard the name Jafari either." Stiles spoke.

To his surprise, she laughed. "You are as funny as they say. It's a traditional African name. I'm not from around here, as you can tell by my accent."

"But we are so glad you are here." Talia smiled.

Jafari nodded. "Me as well. Certainly better than where I was before. Now then, what do you think of this party Stiles? Good, no?" She took a small sip of her glass, awaiting Stiles' response.

"It's lovely." He responded quickly, not wanting to upset the Alpha who was currently gripping his arm. It wasn't entirely a lie either, he decided. In any other situation, Stiles might have been enjoying himself more, or at least not wanting to leave quite so fast. Then again, in no other situation would he ever be in the presence of so many famous werewolf families, let alone Alpha Talia Hale herself.

It all honesty, it truly was a lovely party. Full of exquisite hors d'oeurves, expensive champagne, and people gathered in clothing that cost more money than Stiles could even think of. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and was excited to see him, something Stiles had never experienced.

"Yes." Jafari nodded. "Well, you must have a lot more people to meet, and I've got more champagne to drink." She winked, before giving Alpha Hale a slight bow and turning to grab another glass.

Stiles sighed as they took off once again. This could go on all night.

"You're about to meet Alpha Edric. He is a very powerful man from Sector Two and we are working on a few contracts with them, so please be respectful."

"Have I not been already?" Stiles groaned.

Talia chuckled. "You've been great. I only meant keep it up. Now then, he's just over there."

Stiles turned his head and finally saw who Talia must have been talking about.

He was a very tall and stocky man with dark brown hair and a clean-shaven face. He was dressed in an almost too tight black suit that was bulging at the arms. He was casually leaned back on the bar countertop, whiskey in hand.

Before they had even reached the bar, the man turned, locking eyes with Stiles. Immediately his eyes flashed red and Stiles gasped slightly.

"Alpha Edric, I am so glad you could make it tonight."

"Well I wouldn't want to miss something like this now would I?" Edric cocked his head to the side, looking Stiles up and down.

"The camera truly doesn't do you justice Mr. Stilinski. It is a pleasure to meet you." Edric stuck out his hand and Stiles hesitated only a moment before he took it.

"Pleasure's mine." Stiles mumbled.

"I gotta say, I'm a little disappointed I'm not running this year, I would have snatched you up before you could even step off the platform." He grinned wickedly, taking a sip of his drink, ice cubes clinking together.

"Yes, it is a disappointment. Perhaps next year then?" Talia spoke.

Edric finally broke eye contact with Stiles. "Perhaps."

Talia nodded, giving a small smile.

"Tell me Mr. Stilinski-"

"Stiles." He interrupted, causing Talia to squeeze his arm harshly.

"Stiles, then." He grinned. "Tell me, Stiles, how does a man like you end up in an event like this?"

The question was clearly accusatory and Stiles didn't have a good answer.

"I've been asking myself that question since I was chosen." Stiles tried to remain lighthearted but didn't appreciate being accused of meddling with the system when he so strongly didn't want to be involved in the first place.

Edric hummed, taking another sip. "They say your name was only in the drawing once. Curious."

"Well, I guess they got one thing right about me." Stiles said sternly.

"I think I'd like to find out more." He grinned wolfishly.

"Well, then I guess you'll just have to stay tuned. Excuse me." This time it was Stiles tugging Talia away, leading her to who-knows-where.

As soon as they were out of earshot, Stiles turned to Talia, expecting a lecture.

"I think that went well." Talia said calmly.

"Really?" Stiles questioned.

"Edric is quite different than most Sector Alphas. He likes a challenge and hates to be bored. He certainly likes you. I don't think that could have gone better, though you did worry me in the beginning."

"How much more of this?" Stiles groaned.

"Not much. Soon the festivities will truly begin, then the showings of The Selection, then a speech, then everyone will leave."

"Wait, I don't have to give a speech right?"

"No, no. I'll do most of the talking." Stiles sighed in relief.

"Now then, looks like the dancing will soon begin. Do you dance?" Talia asked.

"Ha! Absolutely not." Stiles never learned to dance, that was only something for the wealthy. Even so, he was uncoordinated and could barely walk in a straight line, let alone dance.

"Well, I suspect you will soon have to learn, but given the chaos of tonight already, I'll let you sit this one out. My daughter, Cora, loathes dancing. Feel free to join her, she's standing right over there." Stiles followed Talia's gaze and saw a young woman leaning against the wall, arms crossed. She was wearing a modest strapless black gown with black shoes, hair pulled back over her shoulder.

Stiles turned to ask Talia something and noticed she was already gone. Noticing people begin to dance as the music picked up, Stiles quickly made his way to Cora, not wanting to be asked to dance or stuck on the dance floor.

"Uh, hey." Stiles said awkwardly, leaning against the wall next to her.

"Hey." She snapped.

Stiles cleared his throat. "Heard you don't like dancing."

"No, so if you even think about-"

"Woah, woah, woah. No worries there, I don't dance." Stiles waved his arms.

Cora peered at him for a moment, before turning back around to face the crowd.

"Good. Mother always forces me to dance at these things, but I refused tonight."

"What makes tonight any different?" Stiles asked.

"Yesterday was my fifteenth birthday. I'm practically an adult and will not be forced to participate in such childish things."

Stiles smiled and looked around, noticing all of the adults dancing, most of them older.

"I don't see anyone youthful out there."

Cora snorted. "I meant being forced to dance. I grow quite tired of old men laying their hand too low on the small of my back."

Stiles made a face. "No wonder you refused."

"Let's just hope you don't face a similar fate in the Mating Run."

Stiles paled, growing sick.

Cora turned, noticing Stiles' face and demeanor change.

"I was only joking. Besides, most everyone in the Mating Run is under thirty." She shrugged.

"Right." As if that was supposed to make it better. Stiles could only imagine being mated to a thirty year old while he was eighteen.

"I only hope mother won't force me to join like she did Derek." Cora cocked her eyebrow, arms crossing farther.

"Jesus, how many Alphas are in your family?"

Cora snorted. "Why do you think my family is so powerful? So far, Alpha Talia Hale has popped out three Alphas, a rare occurrence." Cora sneered at her mother's name.

"Then how come Laura isn't running this year?"

Cora rolled her eyes. "Laura is promised to another, from another Sector. Mother fears that if she were to run this year, it would cause issues in politics, or that's what she says. Even so, she wasn't forced to run her first two years of eligibility, unlike my brother, or myself I suspect."

"You are forced to run? I thought it was optional for Alphas, that's why they only took fifty, one Alpha for every one Omega competing."

"This is the case for most everyone, except for my family." Cora sighed. "Mother thinks that as the Alpha for Sector Five and an advocate for the Mating Run, it is only fair her children represent her beliefs and therefore participate. Except for Laura, of course, her favorite child." Cora grumbled.

"Well, I would say that that seems fucked, except I can't manage to feel any sympathy for you." Stiles said honestly.

Cora shrugged. "I like straight shooters."

Stiles smiled. He supposed he was grateful the Hale family wasn't a bunch of trolls.

Looking out at the crowd, he saw most participating in traditional Sector Five dances, while others were still mingling around the group or at the bar. While looking, he locked eyes with Alpha Edric, still sitting at the bar and sipping his drink, watching him.

"What's up with that guy?" Stiles asked Cora, hoping that Alpha Edric couldn't hear him given the distance, music, and other noise.

"Alpha Edric?" Cora shook her head. "Guy's a horndog. He competed in the Run a few years ago and got disqualified."

"Disqualified? I didn't know that was even possible."

"Clearly you don't watch the Run, it's what he's known for. There are only a few ways Alphas can get disqualified and there have only been two occurrences."

"Right, that one guy who killed the Omega girl like fifteen years ago."

"Yeah, murder is one way to get disqualified."

"And the other?" Stiles pressed.

"Taking several mates."

Stiles screwed his face. "I thought the whole point of the Run was for Alphas to find their one."

"Not in Edric's eyes. His goal was to fuck as many Omegas as he could, then leave them there to fend for themselves, whilst making his way around."

"That's sick." Stiles spit.

Cora hummed in agreeance. "He tried to justify his actions to the court and I guess it worked to some degree."

"How do you justify something like that?"

"Well, he claimed that since he didn't claim them, just had sex with them, that he didn't do anything explicitly wrong. There is nothing in the rulebook that says Alphas can't have sex with multiple Omegas, it just had never happened before."

Stiles risked looking back at Edric and was thankful he wasn't staring back at him.

"How's he still around if he got disqualified?"

Cora signed. "It's all part of the system. Once you're in the Run, you're essentially famous for life, regardless of what follows after. Besides, he's an extremely powerful Alpha, ruling over Sector Two. And still somehow popular with many who agreed that he did nothing wrong."

"Did he ever even take an Omega?"

"No, well not really. He did for like two days, just because he had to basically, but then dumped them less than forty-eight hours later, said he wanted to keep his options open. Edric isn't exactly one to commit. Trust me, if werewolves could get STD's, he'd have every single one in the book."

Stiles made a face, even more disgusted the man had been so desperately flirting with him.

"I don't understand how he could still somehow be well-liked."

"Or well feared." Cora shrugged. "Politics is politics."

"I guess things will never change." Stiles sighed, slipping his hands into his pockets.

"Don't be so sure. Things already are."

"What do you mean?"

Cora shook her head. "Nothing, I'm out of line. Mother would skin me alive if she knew I was talking to you about the Mating Run."

"The Mating Run is heavily televised and known by everyone on the Earth, how could it be so hush-hush?"

"It's not the Mating Run itself, it's the. . . logistics, I suppose. Anyways, are you ready then?" Cora asked, trying to change the subject.

"For what?"

She laughed. "Oh, I don't know, the biggest event of the year, which just so happens to begin tomorrow night?"

"Oh, right. I try not to think about it."

Cora laughed again. "You really are a character." She was much more relaxed than when Stiles came over to her at first and he thought that perhaps in another life they would have been good friends.

"I keep hearing things like that."

"Well, I suspect you could get used to it. The Mating Run has never seen anyone like you in the history of the Run. And I suspect you won't stop with just attacking security guards. The world expects a show, and they expect you to be the one to deliver."

"So what, I can't just fake it until I make it?"

Cora chuckled. "You can try, but with a mouth like yours? That's going to be impossible."

"Guess you got me there."

For a few minutes, they stood in silence, watching the crowd dance, before the music slowly faded.

"Good evening everyone," a voice called from the top of the stairs. Talia once again was speaking to the crowd.

"I hope everyone has been enjoying their nights." A round of applause was heard, neither Stiles nor Cora participating.

"It is now time to watch the Selection Ceremony. Please turn your attention to the screen."

The lights dimmed and people turned to the giant screen. After a few moments, a deep voice was heard over the black screen.

"Sector One: Omega Hannah Burton, of the Burton household."

A video began to play, showing a young blonde girl crying, running to the stage in joy. She was dressed in a simple baby blue dress, not a wrinkle in sight. He heels clacked as she came on stage, hugging the Alpha who announced her choosing.

Turning to the camera, she smiled brightly.

"I would just like to thank everyone who got me here, my family, and my friends. And thank you, Alpha Henry. I am just so incredibly thankful to begin my journey of love and. . ."

Stiles groaned, tuning out. Cora gave a light chuckle but continued to watch. Stiles chose to look around once again instead. Seeing that everyone was essentially glued to the screen, he slowly made his way to a back door, hoping to not be caught.

Grabbing the door handle and twisting it slowly, he prayed the door wouldn't creak as he quickly pushed his body through the crack.

Shutting the door behind him, he breathed a sigh of relief and shuddered at the cool night air.

Staring at the moon, he breathed in deep, knowing that in just a few days, he would be looking at the same moon on a different side of the country, life forever changed.

He walked farther onto the lawn and was surprised no guards had stopped him yet. He thought about running, but knew he wouldn't get far. It would be a waste of time and energy.

Taking a seat on the grass, he brought his knees up to his chest, resting his chin on them.

Closing his eyes he breathed deep and tried not to think about his father. Even so, tears welled up in his eyes. Maybe he could somehow find a phone or even write a letter. Surely if people were able to sneak extra submissions, he could sneak a phone call.

Stiles was startled when he opened his eyes and saw Laura sitting next to him.

"Jesus fucki- you scared the shit out of me."

"Sorry," She smiled sheepishly. "It's a beautiful night." Laura gazed up at the moon, face illuminated. She was wearing a pale pink dress that complimented her skin tone and made her green eyes stand out.

"Yeah, I guess it is." Stiles sighed.

"Look, Stiles. I know you don't want to do this, it's obvious even without your outburst last night. And I know telling you that people kill for this opportunity won't change your mind. I know this isn't how you saw your life and as cheesy as it is to say look on the bright side, just try it. I won't pretend to know what you're going through, especially as an Omega, but let's just say I understand, to a degree." Laura's face grew sad and she turned away.

"Because you're promised to another?"

"How did-? Cora." Laura rolled her eyes. "Guess the secret is out then. Yes, I am to marry a man from Sector Forty-Seven in less than a year."

"How does that even work?"

"My mother wants to create as much peace as possible, it's why she supported the Mating Run even in its creation. She wants an alliance with Sector Thirty-Two, they are a very wealthy sector and she hopes that by promising off an Alpha Offspring, we can work something out."

"Do you even know who it is?"

Laura smiled softly. "No, I just know it is a Beta wolf from a very wealthy family."

Stiles shook his head. "It's just not fair, for either of us. We shouldn't be forced to spend the rest of our lives with a stranger."

Laura turned towards him. "Even so, isn't it worth it if it's for the good of my Sector?"

Stiles scoffed. "Maybe so, but what about me, huh? Who is this benefiting besides the Alpha who gets to parade me around like his chew toy?"

Laura smiled softly. "I appreciate you being so passionate, truly I do. It is so rare to see someone fight for what they believe in, but I think you forget about the possible benefits of your. . . arrangement, not to mention the fact that you paint us Alphas in a very negative manner. I think if you got to know us, you would see that we were not all so bad."

"Really, so Alpha Edric is just a good guy then?"

"That's not fair. There are bad people everywhere, regardless of their sex or status. Edric was one bad apple in years of the Mating Run."

Stiles shook his head. "I don't think you get it. It's not the fact that I'll be with an Alpha that bothers me, I mean I am genetically born ready and yearning for an Alpha. I'm not repulsed by this idea. What I am repulsed by is the fact that I will be forced to be with someone who I don't want to be with, for the rest of my life."

"And how are you so sure you won't want to be with them?"

Stiles didn't have an answer for her.

"As you said, you don't know any of these people. You have no right to judge them before you have even met them, just like no one has the right to judge you."

Stiles hung his head. He supposed she had a point.

"I am sorry for being so defensive, but my brother is going to be out there. My family. My pack. My friends. While you may not want to be out there, just remember some Alphas may not want to either."

"Your brother you mean?"

Laura smiled softly. "I guess Cora just revealed all of our family secrets, didn't she? Yes, my brother. Now I'm not allowed to say much more."

"That's exactly what Cora said, why is that?"

"Perhaps she does have a brain then. I cannot discuss the Mating Run further, being that a member of my family is running, my mother practically runs the damn thing, and as an Alpha of the Hale pack, I know more than anyone else in the nation."

"So you know why I got picked."

Laura swallowed. "The drawing chooses who it chooses."

"The words of your mother. You all really are brainwashed." Stiles stood quickly, turning to walk away.

"Stiles, wait!" Laura chased after him. "I'm sorry I can't say more, believe me, I would if I could." She sighed. "Look, just please, try to look on the bright side. It's not all bad, and. . . look if you ever need anything," she looked around quickly. "just find my brother."

With that, she was gone in the blink of an eye, leaving Stiles alone in the yard once again.

Shaking his head, he headed back inside, hoping no one had noticed his absence.

When he slipped back in, everyone's attention was still on the screen, and he heard the narrator call out Sector forty-nine. Good, they were almost done.

He returned back to his spot standing next to Cora, who smiled when he joined her again.

"Enjoy your moonlight stroll?" She whispered.

Stiles chuckled. "If only it was longer."

"Everyone enjoyed your video."

Stiles turned red. "Oh God, they showed that?"

"The selection, dumbass, not your encounter with the law, though that's been on repeat on everyone's phones."

The end of the video quickly finished and a round of applause was heard. The lights were turned back on slowly and everyone turned their attention back to Talia, who suddenly was next to Stiles, startling him.

"What a great selection of candidates this year." Another round of applause.

"Once again, we would like to thank everyone for coming out. It's always a pleasure to see everyone all gathered here together, like one big pack." She smiled. "Mr. Stiles Stilinksi must be leaving soon to start his journey, let's all congratulate him once more."

The room erupted in applause and cheers once more and Stiles only gave a brief nod, noticing the cameras.

"I know he is feeling many mixed emotions heading off into this new journey and could use all of your support. Please remember to tune in for the event, as if I have to remind you." Everyone laughed, while Stiles' grimaced.

"Everyone, Stiles Stilinski." Talia motioned towards him and people cheered loudly once again. Stiles tried to manage a brief smile and was thankful when Talia quickly escorted him out.

"Well done Stiles." Talia said.

Giant doors sectioning off the room were shut behind them and he came into a room with the full pack.

"You managed your first party without throwing up." Erica smirked

"The night is still young." Stiles grimaced.

"Now then, it's probably about time to-" Talia started.

"Oh come on mom, can't he just have a few hours to just. . . hang out?" Cora exclaimed.

"Cora, we do not have time-"

"Mother, he doesn't leave until the morning, and as he said, the night is still young, at least let him enjoy a glass." Laura spoke.

The pack looked at Talia hopefully, making Stiles ponder.

"Fine, but this just means everyone else must be on their A-game tomorrow."

"Yes, Alpha." Everyone spoke.

Cora and Laura approached him excitedly.

"You did it!" Laura said happily.

"I didn't do much, just kinda stood there." Stiles said, confused.

"Exactly." Erica said.

"Erica hush. You talked to everyone without pissing any Alphas off, especially Edric, and managed not to ruin your reputation. That's worth celebrating." Laura smiled.

"And here I thought my reputation was ruined when I tried to fight off those security guards and called you all inbreds." Stiles said, accepting the glass of champagne from Isaac.

Everyone laughed. "Trust me, we've been called way worse."

"Oh really, by who?" Stiles smiled, taking a swig of his drink. He couldn't imagine anyone challenging the Hale pack or speaking bad of them.

"By me." The room grew quiet as a man stepped around the corner. He had sandy brown hair and blue eyes, along with a little bit of scruff. He was not dressed like the others, instead wearing a plain grey t-shirt and black jeans.

"Peter, we weren't expecting you." Talia spoke from the opposite corner.

"Well it's not truly a party until I arrive now is it?" Peter crept closer and everyone grew viably tense.

"You must be the infamous Stiles." He smirked.

"And you are?" Stiles asked.

The man stepped right up to Stiles. "I'm Peter Hale."

Stiles looked around and saw everyone who was sitting was now standing, an intense look on their faces.

"Is that supposed to mean something to me?" He asked.

"Aw, isn't that sad. My own pack didn't mention me."

Talia rolled her eyes. "Peter, how unexpected of you to drop by. What's your reason?"

"What, I can't visit my family every once and a while?"

"You only come here when you want something, spill it." Talia snarled.

"Oh dear sister," he walked towards her, and Stiles was thankful he wasn't near him anymore. Something about him just seemed off.

"I only wished to meet dear Stiles."

"You and everyone else in the Northern Hemisphere." Stiles huffed.

"Well, you are quite a spectacle after all." Peter smirked.

"How so?" Stiles asked. While he was sure Peter was referencing his stunt and his desire to avoid the Mating Run, he wondered if there was something more he didn't know.

Peter began to open his mouth when Talia stopped him. "Peter, we have a long day ahead of us. I think it's time we wrap this night up, yes?"

"Aw, but things were just starting to get interesting." He stepped even closer to Stiles. "Weren't they, Stiles?"

Stiles grimaced and tried to take a step back, but Peter flashed his red eyes.

"I'd hate to disappoint my nephew, but I might just have to keep you myself." Peter traced a claw along Stiles' jaw. With a sudden burst of anger, Stiles smacked his hand away, gaining shock from the room.

"I'm no one's pet to keep. Stay away from me." Stiles said boldly. Peter only grinned wider, exposing his canines.

"You speak to an Alpha like that, boy?"

"Enough Peter," Talia growled, flashing her red eyes and making her pack submit. All except Peter and Stiles that is.

"Do not ruin this night. If you only came here for trouble, then leave."

"Tsk, tsk, dear sister. Don't forget this is my house too. I think I'll stay awhile, or perhaps travel to Sector Thirty-Seven."

Talia growled. "You have no business going to the Mating Run, you know it isn't open to the general public."

"Oh, surely they wouldn't notice if I just snuck my way in." He glared.

"You had your chance years ago Peter, and you blew it. Shall I remind you?"

"No need." He said sternly.

Turning towards Stiles once more, he grimaced. "Don't be so sure these are people you can trust, dear Stiles. Everyone has a secret."

With that, he was gone, the room releasing the breath they were holding.

"What the hell was that?" Stiles was the first to speak.

"That was my Uncle Peter. He's bat-shit crazy, just ignore him." Laura said, smiling softly.

Stiles had the feeling something was going on that he wasn't in on. It seemed everyone was walking on eggshells.

"Now then, I think it's time for bed, we have a big day tomorrow."

"What's tomorrow?" Stiles asked.

"Tomorrow you leave for Sector Thirty-Seven, where the Mating Run will be held this year. There, you will meet your fellow competitors, go over the rules, have a day of training, and get to see who the Alpha candidates are."

Stiles stayed quiet. So it actually all began tomorrow. Everything just seemed so quick. Just a few hours ago his name was being called, and in a few more hours he would be in another Sector, awaiting his fate.

"Laura, please escort Stiles to his room, everyone else, good night."

With that everyone dispersed, all heading to their own private quarters. Laura gave Stiles a brief smile as she began to lead him back to his room.

He was a little sad in a way he had to be leaving so soon, mostly because he was dreading what was to come, but also because he had never seen such luxury. Not to mention that as much as it pained him to even think this, the Hale's were actually. . . nice. They had shown him kindness and patience, accepting him graciously even through his outburst. Stiles knew it could be a lot worse.

He of course had heard the horror stories. Omegas who had been abused by Alphas, at home and in the streets. Omegas who were too weak to fight back and were taken advantage of during their heat, or not. The Mating Run was supposed to fix that, and while Alpha-Omega crime rates were down, it still happened every day.

How are you supposed to fix crimes that primarily happened between those who aren't rich, famous, or popular? Just regular Omegas, and sick, perverted Alphas. Those are the things not covered in media, not discussed at the dinner table. As of it never happens. As if it doesn't matter.

Arriving at the bedroom, Laura turned. She paused a moment, before lunging at Stiles, wrapping him in a bone-crushing hug.

"Oh, Stiles."

"Laura you're- ah! Crushing me." Stiles groaned out.

"Sorry." Laura looked down sheepishly. "I'm so glad I got to meet you, Stiles. I only hope. . . well, I'm sure you're going to find an amazing Alpha."

Stiles nodded. It was all he could muster.

"Try to get a good nights sleep, I know you'll need your energy."

"Yeah, running for my life and all." Stiles snorted.

"Just. . ." Laura looked around. "Just remember what I said earlier. Stay safe. Be smart. I hope to see you again someday." Laura squeezed his hand gently and was gone the next instance.

"Damn werewolves and their fancy mojo." Stiles rolled his eyes and stepped into the bedroom, frowning.

He stepped into the conjoined bathroom, stripping down. He wanted to wash this night off as quick as he could. All of the stares, all of the handshakes, all of the smirks from Alpha Edric.

It took him a few minutes to figure out the shower, he had only used one of them once before. Most households in his neighborhood only contained a bathtub.

He yelped when he stepped in, the water freezing cold. Wiggling the knobs he finally got the water to an acceptable temperature.

An array of soaps and shampoos were on the large shelf and Stiles wasn't sure which one to choose from.

He grabbed a shampoo at random and gave it a whiff, practically sneezing at the floral scent. He grabbed another and gave another small sniff, finding this one acceptable.

Quickly lathering up his hair he scrubbed hard, then tentatively chose a body wash.

This one smelled simple enough, like clean laundry and rain. Stiles didn't like overwhelming scents, but as he applied the body wash he almost wanted to change his mind. Perhaps if he doused himself in overwhelming scents, the Alphas wouldn't want him, unable to smell his natural Omega scent. Yeah right.

Stiles scrubbed his entire body until he felt clean, then repeated the process, making sure he felt fully fresh.

He then just stood there for a little while, letting the warm stream of water hit his back and form little beads that rolled all the way down his legs until they touched the floor.

Tomorrow was the day. The day his life would officially change. He knew now there was no getting out of it, but as much as he tried to listen to the Hale's and stay positive, he just couldn't.

Now the only thing he could hope for was that he would get an Alpha who would treat him right. Perhaps if he were to find Derek Hale, he would be as nice as the rest of the Hale's. Well, all except Peter that is.

Stiles turned off the water and stepped out with a shiver, quickly wrapping himself in a large fluffy white towel. Once dry he lowered the towel and wiped down the mirror, gazing at himself.

He was skinny, pale, covered in small moles. Eyes too big, nose too upturned, hair too messy. He wasn't meant for the limelight. There must have been a mess-up. Whatever Alpha got stuck with him would not be happy, he or she would be disappointed, especially once he or she heard Stiles' opinions on this entire thing.

With a sigh Stiles left the bathroom and entered the bedroom, quickly searching through the dresser. Grabbing a pair of sweatpants and a long sleeve t-shirt he climbed under the fluffy covers, cozying up.

Breathing in deep, he tried to relax and enjoy these last few moments of bliss. He doubted he would ever see the Hale's again, except perhaps at a reunion ball. He was thankful for their hospitality and grace, and this bed.

Rolling over, Stiles grabbed the covers, closing his eyes and willing sleep to come, knowing he needed his energy if he wanted to put up any kind of fight. Even whilst being in the most comfortable bed he had ever experienced, he couldn't seem to find the right position. Tossing and turning Stiles refused to glance at the clock, knowing seeing the number would only stress him out further.

Pure exhaustion finally overtook him sometime in the early morning.

Stiles dreamed of glowing red eyes and pointed white teeth.

***

He awoke early with a groan, this time with no confusion. He remembered vividly where he was and what was going on, much to his disappointment.

Stretching, he wasted no time getting out of bed, anxiety already making his stomach flutter and his breathing pick up. Moving the white curtain, he glanced out the window and saw that the sun was just now rising. Perhaps he would have at least a few moments to himself, to try and collect his thoughts before he was rushed out the door.

He was at least thankful he knew what would be going on today, or at least the basis of it. He liked to be prepared for things, which is one of the reasons why this whole experience had really thrown him for a loop. His whole life he always had a plan. How to act, how to survive, how to carry on the next day. It was a skill he learned pretty early on. When you're living in the streets, you don't have many options but to plan.

He would map out in his mind where he was going to try and find his next meal for him and his father. Crossing off certain areas he knew were occupied by other, much larger groups, and moving the places he had been recently to the back of his mind. He would sit in silence against a brick wall for hours, using his fingers in the mud to map out the city, his father watching quietly, occasionally offering suggestions.

Once he decided on three options, plans A, B, and C, he would then decide his next course of action. When was he going to go? Was he going to avoid people? Was he going to use them to his advantage? What would he do if he got caught, run, flirt, scream, fight? What would be his backup plan?

Once he got to where he needed to be, what would he take? How much should he carry?

Stiles watched the sunrise, trying to impossibly form a plan for this insane day.

He knew one thing. He couldn't hide, scratch that off his list of ideas. He would be thrown into crowds of people, other Omegas, other people watching his every move, and even recording it for others to watch. His moves had to be calculated, not erratic as he had been. He had to be smart.

He had to try and fit in, another impossible task. Stiles had never fit in his whole life, sticking out like a sore thumb. In school, he was always the smart, weird kid who clicked his pen too much. The kid who sat the bench, the kid who wore the same jacket too often, the kid who would skip lunch, insisting he wasn't hungry, the kid who somehow always finished his homework, having nothing better to do. He wasn't a genius, wasn't athletic, wasn't popular, but wasn't an outright freak either. He had at least one friend, Scott McCall, but didn't seem to fit in anywhere. Stiles knew if he wanted to survive, well, be successful, he had to fit in.

No more outbursts, no more glares. This would be difficult.

He was going to meet the other Omegas, first impressions would be important. While it wasn't entirely necessary to have Omegas on your side, it certainly helped. The more liked you were, the better you looked on TV. The better you looked on TV, the more supporters you had. The more supporters you had, the better life you had. Making friends during this process wouldn't be a bad thing either. Stiles could use all the help he could get, or at least some pointers. Most Omegas in this situation had been preparing for this their entire lives, knowing the ins and outs.

Of course, his fate was ultimately in the hands of the Alpha that chose him. He doubted any Alphas would duke it out for him, so he really just had to hope that the one Alpha he was chosen by would at least provide for him in some way or another. He just hoped he wouldn't get chosen by someone like Alpha Edric.

He cursed himself for not keeping up with the tabloids, perhaps then he would have at least some kind of background information on some of the Alphas. He was going in completely blind. Well, he knew of one Alpha running, Derek Hale, but with a name like Hale, Stiles was not likely to be chosen by him.

Everyone insists the run is based on instincts, but Stiles always found it too strange that the most wealthy and powerful Alphas always ended up with the smart, sophisticated, wealthy Omegas. They knew how to handle the pressure, how to make people like them, and, at least on camera, how to please their Alphas. No one really knew what life was like behind closed doors, they knew only what they told the media.

Given that Derek Hale was the Alpha son of Talia Hale, leader of Sector Five and mother to three Alphas, as well as a member of the board for the Mating Run, it was practically promised that Derek Hale would claim someone with the potential to be as powerful as he. If Laura Hale was to be married to another from a powerful Sector, it was a given Derek would be as well.

Even so, Stiles couldn't help but wonder. If his name was chosen so randomly and the details of the situation always kept secret, Stiles wanted to know what exactly was going on. Surely nothing too out of the ordinary considering Talia's own son was running. Stiles didn't know, or rather pay attention, to who the other Omegas were that were running, but he was sure that the rest were powerful, he was just a wildcard. He wanted to know what they were playing at.

With a blink, Stiles realized that the sun was now officially up. Right on cue, a knock on the door was heard, Boyd opening it after a moment.

"Morning Mr. Stilinski." Boyd gave a brief nod. "Please change into these clothes."

Boyd handed him black pants and a long-sleeve black shirt, simple and almost uniform looking. When he turned over the shirt however, a large five was taking up the back of the shirt, displaying for all where he was from.

Stiles looked at Boyd, who hadn't moved. "Well can you at least turn around, a guy could use some privacy."

Boyd frowned, but turned around anyway. They didn't expect him to run now, did they? Where else would he go?

Stiles quickly changed, trying not to fall over as he slipped the pants on as fast as he could. While straightening the outfit, he noticed a small three swirl symbol on the wrist of the cuff. The Hale pack symbol. He wondered if it was supposed to be as discreet as it was.

"Okay, you can turn around now."

"Good, now put these on so we can go." Boyd handed him a pair of black combat boots that looked a lot like their military wore, with thick black laces. Stiles hoped he didn't have to wear these tonight, the weight of them would probably trip him up and/or slow him down. Then again, he didn't figure it mattered too much, he was going to be caught either way, heavy soles or not.

Stiles sat on the bed and slipped on the boots. "So are we already headed to Sector Thirty-Seven?"

"Yes, all Omegas are to meet there at noon."

"Sector Thirty-Seven is an entire day trip away, at least fourteen hours." Stiles frowned. His father had done quite a bit of traveling when he first got a job. Stiles wasn't always convinced what he was doing was legal, but chose to never question his father, who had fought for him to always have food on the table.

"We'll be flying." Boyd walked out of the room, expecting Stiles to follow. Stiles' stomach dropped and he walked quickly to catch up with Boyd. He had never flown before, let alone seen a plane. Such things were reserved for not just the wealthy, but the extremely powerful. People like Sector Alphas and high ranking military. Stiles was just a poor Omega.

"Flying?" Stiles asked, still stunned.

"Yes, I myself will be accompanying you."

That made Stiles feel slightly better, at least he wouldn't be alone. He didn't know much about planes, only that they flew insanely fast through the air somehow.

Boyd walked downstairs and took a turn, stopping in front of a large door. "Alpha Hale wanted to wish you goodbye." Boyd paused, opening up a door that revealed Alpha Talia Hale.

"Stiles! I'm glad I could catch you before you left." To Stiles' shock, she wrapped him up in a warm hug. The embrace was genuine, not forced.

"I am so grateful I got to know you, Stiles, truly I mean that. I only hope that this journey will be everything you wish for." She smiled softly and Stiles chose to not grimace, she already knew this wasn't the path he wanted to take.

"Now then, try to keep your head up and remember everything you learn in these next few hours. Don't focus on the cameras or anyone else."

"I thought it was my job to get people to like me." Stiles frowned. This was the best advice she could give him?

Talia smiled. "People will like you no matter what, just be true to yourself. Enjoy every moment that you can, I need not remind you this is a once in a lifetime chance. Make friends, take care of yourself, the rest will fall into place, I know it."

"I only hope you're right." Stiles said.

"I always am." Talia winked. "You'll be fine, I promise. There is a great batch of Alphas competing this year, though you didn't hear it from me."

Stiles laughed. "You only say that because your son is competing."

She rolled her eyes. "My son is. . . something else. Never mind that. Have a great time Stiles, I wish you the best. We'll all be thinking of you here. I hope we shall see each other again soon." Talia wrapped him in a hug once again and this time Stiles returned the embrace. Talia was stern, even scary at times, but in these past few hours, Stiles had seen her in a different light. She was a fierce leader, respected by all, yet still deeply cared about her pack and had a motherly aura.

"Thank you, Alpha Hale." And Stiles meant it. Never had he imagined he would have received such a warm welcome and such grace from the entire Hale pack. Perhaps it was true that what you saw in the media wasn't always true, for some anyways. Stiles wasn't entirely giving up that notion, he discovered oftentimes what you see is what you get.

With a smile, Stiles was walking away from Alpha Hale and being led outside of the mansion into the garage. A line of cars filled up the large space, all different and all expensive. Their paint colors reflected the rows of lights and the garage was filled with the smell of new rubber tires.

Boyd held open the door to a sleek black SUV with chrome detailing, similar to the one he had been escorted in only yesterday, though it seemed so far away. Stiles was at least a little familiar with vehicles. Of course, most of the ones he saw were rusted and had parts missing. He had read about their creation in molded history books in school and as a kid dreamed of having a blue car, a wild notion for a poor Omega from the streets. He quickly gave up that dream.

Stiles climbed in the back seat, heaving out a sigh. Once again he was being led to a new place he had no desire to go to.

Boyd started up the car and circled out of the garage and Stiles instantly bombarded him with questions, as per usual.

"How long will we be in the car?" Stiles was impatient and the few school trips he had taken on a bus had his leg bouncing the entire ride.

"It's about an hour's drive to the place we will be boarding." Boyd said flatly.

"Is it not an airport?" Stiles had read about airports. He knew it was where the planes took off and landed, needing long strips of path to land on.

"Not exactly. These planes are not used by average citizens." Boyd had a tone to his voice Stiles couldn't quite place.

Stiles snorted. "I don't think any planes are used by average citizens."

Boyd frowned. "I mean these planes aren't used by the wealthy or even Sector Alphas. These are. . . reserved."

Stiles couldn't figure out what that meant. These planes were for the most powerful people across the nation, Alpha Talia Hale must have been one of them. Given her status, it made sense, Stiles had just never really paid attention to how powerful the woman really was. He suspected, especially with all of the secrets, and apparently special planes, that she was involved in more than she let the general public know.

"How long will the plane ride be?"

For once, Stiles saw Boyd displace a brief smile. "As I said, these planes aren't your typical. We will reach Sector Thirty-Seven in less than an hour."

"What?" Stiles choked on air. "That's impossible."

"Not while on a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird."

"Is that like code for something?" Stiles puzzled.

"Only for the fastest plane in the world. It's military, top secret."

"So then why the fuck am I of all people going to be flown in it?" Stiles understood the paparazzi and secrecy, but this was something else entirely.

Boyd smiled once again. "Alpha Talia Hale is more important than you think she is. Short answer, because you're under the Hale's supervision and Alpha Talia Hale wants only the best for you. She wants you to be represented well." Boyd shrugged. "Plus I don't like to waste time, so if I am to fly with you, it's going to be fast."

"So have you rode in one of these death traps before then?" Stiles wrung his hands together in nervousness, locking eyes with Boyd's in the rearview mirror.

"I fly them."

Stiles paused briefly. "Holy shit. So what, you're all top secret high up there and all that then?" Stiles motioned with his hands.

Boyd shrugged. "I was. . . in a special forces group."

"What like black ops or something?"

"It's classified."

Stiles threw his head back. "Holy shit. One minute you think it's insane to be chosen to be bred by a random Alpha on live television, and the next you're sitting in a car with a fucking classified ex-military man."

"Not ex."

"What?" Stiles asked.

"I'm not ex-military."

"Oh my God. Talia Hale literally had a damn army." Stiles closed his eyes once again. So much for running away, or fighting back. How powerful was this woman? What did she run, the fucking nation?

"Look, if anything, you should be more relaxed."

"More relaxed? Are you serious right now?"

Boyd sighed. "You are more protected than all of the most powerful beings in the nation."

"Why?" Stiles exclaimed, exasperated. Boyd paused.

"Let me guess, classified?" Stiles asked.

Boyd gave a brief nod.

They sat in silence for a few minutes and Stiles almost broke down and asked Boyd to turn on the radio when he finally spoke up.

"There are some rules to cover before we arrive."

"I thought that wasn't until I got to Sector Thirty-Seven, Talia said we would be going over the rules for the Run."

"Not those rules. Different rules. Like you can't tell anyone about what you have seen, or more importantly what you are about to see, or your throat will be slit."

"Jesus-"

"It is not to be disclosed to anyone where you have been, or how you got to Sector Thirty-Seven. If anyone ever questions it, you rode on an airplane out of an airport, standard flight. You didn't meet any of the other Hales besides Alpha Talia, Cora, and Laura, and you have no idea who I am, other than a simple security measure. And above all, you have no idea who Derek Hale is."

"Well at least that shouldn't be a problem, I don't know him at all."

"No, but you know he is running, already breaking the rules. Omegas aren't to know anyone personally, or anyone who is running. He will be protected at all costs and anyone who appears to know him or even stares at him a little too much will be shot down. Don't give yourself away."

Stiles swallowed. "This whole thing is nuts. I mean I get that Derek is Alpha Hale's son but-"

"Derek is more than the Alphas son." Boyd glared in front of him, making Stiles look away out the window.

"I don't see how you all expect me to survive. One person is telling me to find Derek, the other is telling me to avoid him or die." If this was so risky, or classified, or whatever the fuck else it was, why was Derek even running? Because he is the Alpha's son didn't seem like a good enough reason.

"I'm not telling you to avoid Derek, in fact, I would make yourself known to him quickly, he is. . . a valuable asset."

"Right." Stiles dragged out the word. "I don't see how I'll have the opportunity to do that anyways. I mean, I'm just thrown onto a platform and told to run, not exactly like I have time to shake his hand and ask him his favorite color."

"You can get to know him in other, faster ways." Boyd cocked his head.

"What do you- oh, Boyd! Seriously?" Stiles made a face. He wasn't up for a discussion on seduction with Boyd.

Boyd smirked once again, but it quickly dissipated. "We're approaching. You're fine for now, but remember the rules once we board. These people here are to protect you, but once we land in Sector Thirty-Seven, we are out of Alpha Hale's jurisdiction."

Stiles looked out of the window and suddenly the green trees disappeared, revealing miles of yellowed grass and small paved roads.

Arriving at a large armed gate, Boyd rolled down the window and signaled something with his hand. The gate they were stopped in front of was instantly opened and they rolled through slowly. Once the gate was opened, Stiles could fully see all of the sleek black aircraft. The pictures in his rotting textbook didn't do them justice. They were massive, full of smooth edges and large wings.

Boyd parked close to a plane that was separated from the others, surrounded by men. He hopped out, coming to Stiles' side and opening the door.

Rather than being bombarded by other people or the media, he was greeted by a uniformed man. The man was dressed in an all-black combat military uniform with guns and ammo strapped across every square inch of his body. Hands clasped behind his back and hair perfectly cropped short, he quickly gave a salute.

"Mr. Stilinski sir, General Boyd."

"Major Wilson, nice to see you again. Please lead the way." Boyd remained stern, as if he had never smiled in his life.

With a brief nod, the man turned, escorting Stiles towards the plane.

Stiles dropped his jaw, finally getting a good look at the aircraft up close. It was entirely black with a sharply pointed nose, with large engines, ultimately looking deadly.

While Stiles drooled, Boyd and Major Wilson whispered briefly.

"Everything cleared protocol. She's ready for you."

"And as for landing?" Boyd asked.

"Everything is set up sir. You are due to land in STSAB." Major Wilson spoke.

Stiles didn't have the brain cells to try and figure out what that meant.

As they neared the stairs up to the aircraft, Stiles noticed more and more men guarding the plane and watching their every move.

"They are here to protect you and make sure everything goes smoothly, Mr. Stilinski. Rest assured you will reach Sector Thirty-Seven quickly and efficiently."

Major Wilson paused at the base of the stairs, motioning for Stiles to go ahead. Stiles swallowed, but took his first step, feeling Boyd close behind.

"This is insane," Stiles mumbled, looking around. "And you're sure I'm not going to die."

"Parachutes are right here." Boyd smacked them, then took the left seat in the cockpit and instantly began flipping buttons.

Stiles looked at the array of glowing lights, switches, and things he couldn't even begin to comprehend, taking a seat with a huff.

Boyd slipped on a headset and continued to press buttons.

"Wait, you're flying this thing?" Stiles asked worriedly.

"I told you I flew them, now put this on." Boyd handed Stiles a headset and he quickly put in on. As the plane began to roar to life, Stiles' heart began to beat faster.

"Well, yeah, but I didn't think you meant now!" Stiles cringed as his voice cracked.

"Buckle up. We're about to get going." Boyd said, ignoring him.

Stiles breathed deep, trying to slow his heart rate. Buckling in, he gripped the leather seat, closing his eyes.

Boyd spoke into the headset words and phrases Stiles couldn't even begin to comprehend, some kind of aircraft military lingo.

Without much more warning, the plane began to move. Stiles sucked in a deep breath, looking in front of him with wide eyes.

The plane was slowly gaining speed as Boyd turned the plane onto a long runway. Speaking the strange phrase again, they began to pick up even more speed. Stiles was for sure breathing hard now, white-knuckling the seat. He could hear the whooshing of the aircraft going faster and faster.

"Try to relax. We're about to go up."

Stiles wasn't sure how aerodynamics worked but he was utterly terrified. He knew deep down that Boyd was extremely capable of keeping Stiles safe, but none the less he feared for his life. How was it even possible to fly in the air?

"Triskele Alpha One Seven, cleared for takeoff."

"Here we go." Boyd gave a brief smirk, before their speed drastically increased. Stiles pressed his head against the back of the seat and gripped the seat even harder. Within a few moments, the plane gave a brief jolt and the next thing Stiles knew they were in the air.

"Holy shit!" Stiles yelled.

Stiles continued to lean back as the nose of the plane continued to point towards the sky, gradually getting higher and higher. He closed his eyes, not wanting to look death in the eyes.

"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. We're in the air. We are in the fucking air."

"Relax, we'll be there in less than an hour. You can take your seat belt off now if you like."

"No fucking way buddy! This thing is staying strapped to me."

"Fine." Boyd huffed.

Stiles risked shitting his pants and looked to his right and saw a mass of clouds. It was truly beautiful and Stiles released the tightness of his grip only slightly. Though he was on the way to hell, he tried to push that thought aside and take in what he was seeing. In a way, he felt slightly smug that he of all people got to be above the clouds right now. After he had gotten shit on his whole life, he was the guy who got to experience this.

"How fast are we going right now?" The clouds seemed to be slowly passing by, though Stiles knew they must be going fast.

"About 2100 miles per hour."

"How is that even possible?" Stiles questioned. It was amazing and beautiful, yet in a way really pissed him off. How is it that children were starving and yet these giant machines were capable of flying him around?

"Don't strain yourself thinking about it." Boyd smiled.

"I can't believe this is all really happening." Stiles shook his head, looking in front of him as they flew through the clouds.

"Well, you better start believing it. In just a few minutes we are going to be landing and this whole shit show will officially begin."

Stiles managed a smile. "Guess you're not an avid watcher of the Run?" He cocked an eyebrow.

Boyd frowned. "The Run does a lot of good, doesn't mean I like being forced to watch."

"Alpha Hale forces you to watch?"

"No, my girlfriend Erica does."

Stiles laughed, watching Boyd shake his head. He couldn't really picture Boyd sitting on the couch avidly watching the Run, but Erica on the other hand, he could picture that.

"Guess you'll be forced to watch a lot more in the coming days." Stiles figured Erica and Cora at least would be persistently watching, which meant that the rest of the Hale pack would be as well, especially now that they knew someone in the run and the fact that Alpha Derek Hale himself was running.

"Least it won't suck as bad."

"How's that?" Stiles puzzled.

"Because you and Derek are people I'd actually support. You aren't the average Omega and Derek. . ."

"Derek what?"

"Nothing."

"You and your damn classified information. You know if you can't say it then you really ought to just not mention it at all because now I'm going to spend the next two weeks lying in bed at night staring at the ceiling wondering what you could possibly be hiding that's classified."

"I don't think you'll be thinking about me much in the coming weeks." Boyd mumbled.

Stiles glared. "Not fair. I rebuke that." He crossed his arms. He really didn't want to think about what was going to happen in the next two hours, let alone the next two weeks.

"Get ready again, we're about to descend."

"What? It's been like 15 minutes!"

"I told you I would get you there in less than an hour."

"Yeah, but I didn't think you meant- you know what? Never mind. I really need to stop questioning you guys. You're like. . . wizards or something, a cult for sure though." Stiles shuddered.

"We're werewolves." Boyd said simply.

"Yeah, extremely wealthy, powerful, famous, and secretive werewolves. Cult." Stiles said pointedly.

"Still not a cult, but I can't argue on the other stuff." Boyd rolled his eyes. "Triskele Alpha One Seven requesting permission to land STSAB." Boyd spoke.

"Cleared to land runway one-niner, Triskele Alpha One Seven." A man reported back.

"Wilco." Boyd spoke.

"What the fuck does all of that even mean?" Stiles asked.

"Trisklele Alpha One Seven is us, STSAB is Sector Thirty Seven Air Base."

"That's overly complicated." Before Stiles could rattle off another snarky comment, they began to descend, Stiles still extremely uncomfortable, gripping the seat once again.

"If you rip that leather I'll kill you by the way." Boyd said casually.

"You should be more worried about cleaning the shit out of the crevices. Holy mother of-" Stiles closed his eyes, feeling his stomach dropping as they descended.

Eyes still closed, Stiles jolted when he felt the tires hit the runway smoothly.

"Thank God for gravity." Stiles sighed in relief.

Boyd spoke more aircraft-lingo and soon they came to a stop.

Once Boyd had shut everything down, they both stood, Boyd leading Stiles. He stopped in front of the closed door, turning to Stiles.

"Remember everything we talked about. There will be security."

Stiles nodded, taking a deep breath. Boyd opened the door, revealing a familiar scene. Instantly, they were surrounded by several men, though there were vast differences. For one, they were surrounded by commercial aircraft and a large building that looked far less classified then the one in Sector Five. The men around him were in blue jumpsuit uniforms, Stiles thought they looked a lot like mechanics. They were not carrying any kind of weapons and looked bored, rather than focused and alert.

A man in a suit came up on Stiles' left, giving a brief smile. He had sandy blonde hair and was fairly tall, his brown eyes revealing his lack of sleep.

"Mr. Stilinski, my name is Paul Wilker." He gave Stiles a brief nod and stuck his hand out for Stiles to shake. Stiles took it, but wished people would stop wanting to shake his hand. "I am glad you arrived here safely. If you will please follow me."

Stiles and Boyd followed behind the man while the men in blue stayed behind. Out of now where two more men in suits were behind them, wearing sunglasses and clear discreet earpieces. They must have been the security Boyd was talking about.

They were led into the light-colored building through a back door into a long hallway with beige painted walls and ugly artwork. It looked, smelled, and felt boring and quiet. The opposite kind of place Stiles liked to be.

Soon though, after several twists and turns, they were exiting the building through a secluded side door. This time there were rows of cars in front of them, rather than aircraft. The vehicles were all white and SUVs, less fancy than the Hale's but still clearly only for the wealthy.

They were lead to an older man waiting by one of the cars. "Mr. Stilinski, this is your driver this morning. He'll be taking care of you. It was a pleasure to meet you." Paul gave a brief nod, before he was off. Geez, no one ever stuck around for long it seemed.

"Hello, sir." The driver gave a small bow, before opening the back door. He looked to be in his sixties, with thin gray hair and a clean-shaven face.

Stiles began to climb in, then turned to look at Boyd, who had made no move to follow after Stiles.

"Boyd?" Stiles questioned.

"This is where I leave you. I've got some things to do before the Run officially begins, as do you."

"Wait, what?" Stiles was stunned, he hadn't expected Boyd to leave so soon, though he knew he should have. Boyd couldn't stay forever.

Boyd gave him a knowing look, then nodded to the driver, who shut the door.

Stiles continued to watch Boyd through the dark tinted windows as the driver started up the car and began to drive away. Stiles turned to look back at Boyd, who locked eyes with him, before pulling out a cell phone and disappearing.

Stiles' heart hammered, wanting to ask the driver questions, but holding his tongue. He knew they were now in Sector Thirty-Seven and according to the car's clock, it was 11:13, so they must be arriving soon.

"You must be very excited." The driver spoke, glancing back at him.

Stiles opened his mouth to deny, but stopped quickly, remembering what the Hales had said. He had to play the game, plus who knew who this guy was, or who was listening. The last thing he wanted was his name on the cover of a scandalous magazine.

"It will certainly be interesting." That was a safe enough answer. The driver seemed satisfied and turned his gaze back to the road.

"Um, when will we be arriving?" Stiles asked.

"Five minutes sir."

Stiles took a deep breath. Five minutes. Stiles longed to be back home, or even back with the Hales. He wondered how his dad was doing, but quickly dismissed the thought as tears threatened to prickle his eyes.

Looking out the window, he saw a vast amount of tall, spiky looking trees surrounding him everywhere he looked. The scenery was very different than what he saw in Sector Five. Everything here seemed more green and alive.

His mind began to wander, looking at the endless stream of green. He knew he was due to meet the other competitors first. Assuming he would hate all of them, he dreaded the idea of being forced to make friends. Fortunately, after the run, he wouldn't have to see many of them much at all, but he shuddered to think that he would see the Alpha ever day.

He grew angry at himself when he felt just a tiny spark of joy. He knew his body was going to reject his own beliefs, after all, he was biologically made for an Alpha. His body craved an Alpha. With a solemn heart, he knew that as soon as the Alpha pinned him down, he would be a goner, begging for the Alpha.

It made him angry that this was how it had to be. He knew that without the Mating Run, it would be very unlikely he would ever be with an Alpha except for perhaps a one-night stand. Alphas were powerful and loved Omegas, but didn't want to lower their status. People like Stiles usually ended up with Betas, sometimes other Omegas. His father is a Beta and his mother was an Omega, Stiles figured he would follow in their footsteps, assuming he could meet someone.

His high school dating life was non-existent. When he was little, he had a big crush on Lydia Martin, like every other boy did in school. The crush lingered until Stiles got enough common sense to know it would never happen. Lydia was a wealthy, popular, Omega and Stiles was a nobody. Even if Stiles wasn't poor or had more friends, their personalities would certainly clash, or so he figured. Lydia loved material things, was wickedly smart, and loved to be loved. Stiles had nothing, wasn't school smart like Lydia, and didn't care if people paid attention to him or not.

Of course, he wouldn't have to worry about his dating life much more. In just a few short hours, he was going to be claimed by an Alpha for the rest of his life. Thankful Edric wasn't running, his mind came up with different people he might see running. Random faces his imagination conjured up, Alphas he had read about, or seen in the streets. He tried to picture Derek, but couldn't get a solid image. He thought he may have seen him once or twice on the walls of some official building, perhaps a courthouse or the police station, but he wasn't sure. He figured that he had the dark hair that all the Hale's had, as well as tanned skin and some height to him.

He wondered if he would be like Cora, snarky and blunt, but fun once you got to know her. Or perhaps like Laura, instantly welcoming and caring, maybe even too much. Possibly even like Talia, a strong leader and well respected, but still warm once you got to know her. With a swallow, Stiles hoped he wasn't like Peter, rude and constantly making people uncomfortable, using his power to his advantage.

Stiles shook his head, he wasn't sure why he even was worried about such a thing. The only thing Derek and Stiles had in common was being from Sector Five. Derek would never go for someone like Stiles, he doubted anyone would. No one had been left out of the Run before, but Stiles figured there was a first year for everything. If Derek was as important as the Hales had let on, he was bound to be mated to someone equally as powerful.

The trees began to clear and Stiles looked forward, seeing a large building. It was a huge light-colored brick building, surrounded by neatly trimmed bushes and trees. A sector Thirty-Seven flag stood tall, blowing in the wind, it's bright colors standing out against the pale blue sky.

Slowly, the driver temporarily parked in front of the building and opened the door for Stiles, who thanked him with a small smile.

"Hello, Mr. Stilinski!" A cheery voice called. She was a tiny little Beta with long brown hair pulled back in a sleek ponytail. Sporting a dark grey suit with a white button up, headset on and clipboard in hand, she looked very professional and made Stiles want to groan.

"My name is Lisa! Please follow me." She flashed her perfect white teeth at him and Stiles followed, sticking his hand in his pocket. She was waling quickly, clearly on a schedule, and Stiles made sure not to slow her down.

"This is where the Mating Run will be held, though you'll be spending a lot of your time outside of course." She giggled. Pausing in front of a large door, she turned towards him.

"Okie dokie! Everyone else is waiting inside! Get to know the other Omegas and we will begin shortly, just as soon as everyone is here! Congratulations!"

Stiles watched her bounce off, heels clicking. He heaved in a big breath, hoping he could sneak in and stand in a corner for the majority of the time. Opening the door, he realized this would not be the case.

As soon as the heavy metal door squeaked open, all conversation stopped and heads turned. Stiles swallowed, remaining frozen, the door slamming loudly behind him. After a few seconds, many Omegas resumed their conversations, while several continued to stare, and one approached him.

"Hi! You're Stiles right?" A young girl with long blonde hair spoke. She was very pretty, with striking blue eyes and a curved waist.

"Yeah." Stiles nodded, sticking his hands back in his pockets, feeling uncomfortable.

"This is all kind of crazy right?" She said excitedly. She clearly expected Stiles to strike up a conversation with her.

"Yeah, yeah I guess so."

"I've been dreaming of this day my entire life! I've wished for it every year when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake." She smiled dreamily.

"Wow." Stiles forced a smile. Stiles used to have birthday cakes when he was younger, when his mother was alive.

"I'm Katie by the way!" She stuck out her hand and Stiles shook it quickly. "I'm from Sector Twelve, by the way, you're from Five?"

How did she already know so much about him? "Yeah." Stiles looked around, hoping he could find somewhere to make his exit from this conversation.

"I watched all the news about you." She shrugged. "You're the most talked about right now so I wanted to get to know you. Good publicity and all."

Stiles nodded. "Excuse me." He ignored her disappointed face and made a beeline towards what looked like a bathroom, avoiding people. Thankfully he made it without someone wanting to talk to him, up until he got to the door.

"We start in two minutes, might as well hang out here rather than hide in there smelling shit." A dirty blonde spoke. Her hair was cropped short and she had chocolate brown eyes. She was leaned up against the wall between the men's and women's restroom, arms crossed and resting-btich-face on.

"Oh, uh-"

"Everyone knows who you are, get used to. It was fairly easy to figure out you were going in there to hide."

"Guess so." Stiles scratched the back of his neck, leaning up beside her. Perhaps she would be more tolerable than the last girl.

"My name is Malia."

"Stiles."

She nodded, watching everyone. "Your story was quite a surprise." She said nonchalantly.

"It certainly wasn't the usual." Stiles chose his words carefully.

"Thank God. The only thing worse than watching boring people would be having to run with boring people." Her tone was irritated.

"Where are you from?" Stiles asked, not really wanting to make conversation, but also not wanting to stand in awkward silence. If he had to make friends, it would be with this girl, rather than the other one.

"Sector Forty Seven."

Stiles nodded, figuring she already knew where he was from.

"Oh, there comes another one." Malia groaned as the room fell silent again. Quickly though it was filled by an excited scream.

"Oh my God!" The girl who entered the room cried out, running to hug another girl.

"Guess they know each other." Stiles raised his eyebrows.

"The system is fucked." Malia said.

Stiles snorted. "You seem to be one of the few people who think so." He turned to her a little more.

She gave a small smile. "Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be here. But you can't deny everyone gets chosen for a reason, I don't care what anyone else says."

"Why'd you get chosen then?" Stiles asked.

"Probably because my biological father is from Sector Five, but I grew up and lived in Sector Forty Seven alone. An interesting story." She shrugged her shoulders. "Guess that failed once you entered in though. Thanks for taking the pressure off." She bumped shoulders with him.

Stiles laughed. "You're welcome I guess." He wondered who her biological father could be. Was it just a low-life Alpha who didn't even know he was a father, or someone important who just didn't want a child?

Right then the same woman who greeted him at the car, Lisa, entered the room, making it go quiet instantly. She stepped onto a small platform at the front of the room, like her own little stage.

"Hello everyone! Who all is excited to be here?" The room erupted in cheers and claps, apart from Stiles and Malia.

"We are all so excited you are here. If you will look to the screens behind me, one on the left and one on the right, you will see all of the Omegas who are participating in this year's run. This way everyone can get to know each other or at least recognize some faces!"

The gigantic screen turned on with everyone's faces lined up in rows and columns, filling every inch of the screen. Stiles grimaced at his picture, an old school photo. Everyone else's seemed to be professionally done, as if they had them taken just in case of an event like this.

"Hopefully you have gotten the chance to meet some of your fellow competitors. We are now going to go over some of the boring stuff." She made an exaggerated sad face. "We need to cover some ground rules. Most of these you all probably know, but none the less we need to cover them. Of course, you all are soon going to find out the Alphas running this year," She paused for applause, which she was awarded.

"The Alphas are off-site and will not be here until the Mating Run officially begins. This is to prevent any possible interaction of any form that might compromise the integrity of the Run. That being said, you all are to remain in a group that will continue to be heavily monitored to make sure you all are in the right spot. You are not allowed to leave the group or the premises for any reason, and doing so will not only result in immediate disqualification, but is punishable by law."

"Jesus." Stiles murmured.

"We will give you an outline of where on the premises you are allowed to go to make sure you all know your boundaries, however, there will be guards should you have any confusion. After the reveal of the Alphas, we all will go to have a light lunch together. During this lunch, it is vital you stay in the common room, as the media will be surrounding the building. You are not allowed to contact the media in any way, as far as they know, you aren't even here yet, and it should remain that way. Should you reveal yourself, the Alphas running, or any other information pertaining to the Run that is not already in the media, you will be immediately disqualified and punished accordingly. After lunch we will have a break-out session. Here you will be able to have a few hours to do what you please, whether it be mingle with other Omegas, get ready for the run, or grab some refreshments. Even so, you are required to remain in the commons. If you would like to freshen up, a guard will accompany you."

So basically Stiles couldn't even shit in peace. He had joked about it before, but now it really was a reality.

"The Run will start promptly at 6:00, so the sun will be fully down. Please pay attention, this next step is imperative. Before the run, you all will be lined up in order according to Sector Number. This should be fairly simple, as you all have your number on your backs. From there, you will be taken one by one down into the tunnel. A guard will escort you down the tunnel, where you will be placed on your Sector platform. As soon as you are on the platform, you are not to move. Stepping off the platform before the allotted time is forbidden and of course will result in disqualification. Once everyone is on the platform, a timer for thirty seconds will begin. When the timer hits zero, you are to begin your run. The Alphas will be released ten minutes after you are released, giving ample time for you to gain fair distance. The cameras will be surrounding you at all times, but you must pay them no mind."

Yeah right, Stiles rolled his eyes. He wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if one literally flew threw the air and smacked him on the forehead.

"From there, the Alphas will have a maximum time slot of six hours to claim an Omega, but of course you all know this typically occurs much faster." She smiled as the crowd gave a brief round of laughter.

Stiles sure to God hoped it didn't take six hours. He couldn't imagine running around for that long, waiting for his doom.

"These next few things are a little flexible, as it is up to your Alpha. Once claimed, you two will officially start your journey. Some may stay here for a night or two, others may immediately travel back to your Sector. This of course is up to your Alpha. The event will officially be completed at midnight. The site will be cleared, the cameras will be off, and you will spend your first night with your Alpha!" She finished excitedly and the room erupted in applause.

"Should you ever have any questions, the agenda and rules will be posted all around this room. Of course, feel free to ask myself or anyone else you see. Now then, time for the fun stuff." She smirked. Stiles' heart began to hammer.

"I am so excited to be presenting this year's Twenty-Seventh Mating Run Alphas. Who you see before you could very well be your future mate. Please, take a look."

Stiles' eyes zeroed in on the screen, as it changed from the Omega faces to the Alphas. They were lined up just like the Omegas were, in rows and columns by Sector Number. Instantly, Stiles focused on Sector Five, Derek Hale. His jaw practically dropped. Even just by the tiny photo, Stiles could tell he was drop-dead gorgeous. His face was tanned with black stubble. His hair was an onyx black and his green eyes were striking. He wasn't smiling, instead looking rather stern and angry, thick eyebrows pushed together, but Stiles imagined he had a brilliant smile.

Everyone was whispering excitedly, while Stiles continued to only stare at Derek.

"If you will take a look around this room, you will see were have eight smaller screens. These screens are touch screen. If at any point you would like to take a closer look at an Alpha," She walked towards one of the smaller screens and tapped on the Sector One Alpha, "you may simply tap their profile picture. Doing so will enlarge their photo and will provide you a brief description containing their name, age, sector, and brief biography, just as the Alphas can do to your pictures."

"Good thing I didn't have any acne in my picture." Malia joked, as the picture of the Alpha took up the entire screen, around three feet tall.

Stiles could only swallow in response.

"Now then! Remember to stay in this room, the common room. Lunch will be served in just a few moments, so please begin to take your seats." She gave a brief nod, before exiting the room.

Stiles looked at the seat closest to him, in the very back. He headed towards it, but paused, looking to his left. Several people were already at their seats, but a few lingered around various screens. The one closest to him didn't have anyone around it, so Stiles quietly headed towards it.

He peered up at the large screen, finally looking at all of the Alphas. They were all beautiful, many flashing their red eyes to look dominate, while many others smiled softly, trying to appear as though they were just like any other person. Derek was the only one who managed to look rugged and powerful while simply being himself, no posing, no flashing of the red eyes. He almost looked bored, like he would rather be doing anything else than having his picture taken. No matter how many Alphas Stiles looked at, his eyes kept creeping back to Derek's.

Cautiously, Stiles reached up his hand and gently tapped on Derek's face. Quickly, his face was enlarged and Stiles sucked in a quick breath. Up close, Stiles could see all the details of Derek's face. The photo was so clear it was like he was standing right in front of him. Stiles could see now that his eyes were not simply green. They were a greenish-blue with flecks of gold, incredible compared to Stiles' simple brown eyes. Derek was incredibly handsome and even his picture seemed to make Stiles nervous.

Trying to break his focus, Stiles glanced down at the description.

"Derek Theodore Hale. Age Twenty-Three. Sector Five." The description read. Like Stiles, he didn't have a biography.

"Stiles, quit ogling and get over here." Malia called. Red faced, Stiles headed back to take a seat next to Malia in the back.

"I wasn't. . . ogling." Stiles made a face.

"Um, yes you were, that was oogling." She pointed.

"What you're trying to tell me you weren't curious about any Alphas?" Stiles asked defensively.

"Of course I was, which is why I looked at pretty much all of them, rather than starting at one for five minutes."

"It was not five-" Stiles stopped talking as plates of food were placed in front of them. "It was not five minutes." Stiles angrily whispered.

"Whatever dude, all I'm saying is Derek Hale is hot and those blonde bitches two tables in front of us have been talking about him the whole time so you better be prepared for some competition." Malia cut into her steak quickly and took an inhuman sized bite.

Grimacing, Stiles turned to his own food and cut his steak into smaller, more easy to manage bites. If there was one thing he could get used to, it was all the delicious fancy food. At least one good thing came from this shit-show.

"They can go after him all they want, I don't give a shit." Stiles said, trying to keep his tone nonchalant.

"Liar." Malia mumbled around food.

"How are you here if you were raised in a barn?" Stiles asked.

Malia glared. "I wasn't raised in a barn."

"Well your manners say otherwise." Stiles mumbled around his own food.

"Says the guy with steak juice dribbling down his chin." She smirked.

Stiles glared and wiped it on the back of his hand. Malia laughed and Stiles soon joined her. They soon both finished their meals and watched the others in silence. They were all in clusters, leaned in close, whispering softly yet laughing loudly. They were thoroughly enjoying themselves, no anxiety present. It was very. . . high school.

"You've just got to relax, it's going to happen no matter what." Malia shrugged, leaning back in her chair.

"Doesn't mean I want it to."

Malia smiled softly. "I know. But it is. Life is shitty. You pop out of the womb Omega and this is how your life has to be, it isn't fair really. But it's life." She shrugged again. "And rather than feeling shitty all the time and mad at life, you've just got to accept that this is it and make the best of it. The more you resit and make yourself miserable, the worse your life will be. The sooner you accept that you are an Omega who is going to be mated to a wealthy, popular, hot as fuck Alpha who will do everything to please you, the better."

Stiles snorted. "Everyone seems so convinced these Alphas are saints."

"And you seem so convinced they aren't." She said pointedly.

"Let's just say I've met some not-so-great Alphas."

"Haven't we all? And haven't you met some shitty Omegas and Betas too? People are dicks, regardless of who they are."

"You remind me of someone I know." Stiles smiled softly.

Lisa soon walked back into the room. "I hope everyone enjoyed lunch. We now are only a few hours away from the Mating Run officially beginning. During this break-out session, remember you may do as you please in this area and can ask a guard if you would like to go anywhere else. Refreshments are at the bar in the back, but bartenders will cut you off, we do want you to remember this experience." Everyone laughed. "The Alphas are relaxing at their site now, excited to meet you." She raised her eyebrow, then walked out of the room again.

Malia snorted. "I don't understand why they insist on getting us here so early if we just have to sit around for several hours. You would think that poses a bigger security threat then us being here for just a few minutes."

"It's probably so the media has plenty of time to get things set up."

Malia made a face. "Yeah no kidding, I read somewhere they have hundreds of cameras, hundreds!"

Stiles shook his head. "It's ridiculous. I guess I should just be thankful they aren't filming right now, have to soak up these last few hours of sanity."

"If you think this is sanity," Malia motioned to the blonde girls still screaming over God knows what, "then you're already losing it."

"Guess so." Stiles wiped a hand over his face.

"Want a drink?" Malia asked, standing.

"I want several, but apparently that isn't allowed either." Malia snorted, but they headed over to the bar.

"What can I get for you guys?" A plain looking man asked. He was wearing a crisp white button up and navy blue bow tie. He seemed young, maybe mid-twenties with a baby face and soft blonde hair. Stiles wondered how you even got a job like this.

"I'll have a mojito." Malia said.

"Vodka on the rocks." Stiles mumbled.

"You got it! Just to let you know sweetie, I can only serve you that one drink." The bartender gave a wink towards Stiles and walked off to make their drinks.

"You should have gone for something more fruity, maybe they would let you drink more."

Stiles shook his head. "I need something to make my throat burn."

Malia laughed and accepted her drink when it was placed in front of her. She took a tentative sip, while Stiles downed the whole thing in one gulp.

"Christ, you really don't want to be here." Malia widened her eyes.

Before Stiles could say something else, a young guy took a seat next to him. The guy just stared at Stiles, not saying anything.

"Uh, hi?" Stiles raised his eyebrows.

"Look, Stiles is it?" He spat out.

Stiles made a face. "Yeah?"

"I know you seem to be popular right now, but don't let it get to your head. The only reason your name is still in people's mouths is because you are an embarrassment. Don't think you're on the front cover because people actually like you, they just can't help talking about the freak from Sector Five." He looked at Stiles up and down in disgust.

"Better then them covering the prick from Sector who-gives-a-fuck." Stiles shrugged. He had dealt with his fair share of assholes, a privileged Omega wouldn't scare him off. Stiles tossed an ice cube into his mouth, chewing on it slowly.

"I'm from Sector Thirty-Two, known for having some of the most successful Omegas." It was true that Sector Thirty-Two was extremely powerful and wealthy, but no Omega was known for being successful, at least not on their own.

"And how do you define most successful, the bitch who can pump out the most kids, or the bastard who can fit the biggest cock up their ass?"

Malia spat out her drink laughing, covering her mouth immediately after.

The guy's face went red, fuming and embarrassed.

"Look, you better watch out." His voice was shaking. He puffed his chest, trying to look big, although he couldn't have been over five-foot-eight.

Stiles looked bored. "For what, you, I suppose? What am I supposed to be scared of?" Stiles had been threatened by a lot of people, places, and scenarios, but never by an Omega.

"I am friends with some very powerful people, trust me, you don't want to make me an enemy." The vein in the man's forehead began to throb.

Stiles leaned in close, startling the man. "And I am friends with some people who know what intestines look like when you rip them out of someone's nostrils. I don't pose a threat to you or anyone here. Frankly, I don't give a fuck about this entire thing, so why don't you drag your privileged pale ass back to your table while we wait for this thing to be over?"

The man was stunned, but quickly got up and practically ran back to his seat.

"Were you part of the mafia?" Malia asked, stunned.

"No, I just read too much." Stiles shrugged, chewing on another ice cube. It was true that Stiles had befriended some. . . interesting people while he was on the streets. There were people out there who would literally kill for him, that's just how it was. Though Stiles was thankful for those people and wished them the best, the was glad to be out of that situation. Perhaps one day he would have enough to give back.

"That dude was an asshole," Malia snapped.

Stiles shrugged. He had met worse people.

"Intestines out of. . . nevermind. My ass is sore, can we go do something else?" Malia asked.

"What all is there to do in one singular room?" Stiles snorted.

"I don't know, but something has got to be better than sitting on this wooden stool."

Stiles wasn't sure about that, but they got up none the less. Passing by a screen, Stiles paused.

"Well you said you have looked at some Alphas, who piques your interest?" Stiles asked.

"As if it matters?" Malia asked. She had a point. For all of this take a look, make some friends, bullshit, it really didn't matter. Ultimately, they were going to go out there, get chosen, and be done with it all.

"Hey, I'm supposed to be the brooding one here."

She smiled. "Well, I looked at this one from Sector Thirty-Four. She seems kind of badass." Malia clicked on her picture, revealing a woman with tanned skin and dark hair, flashing her red eyes and baring her sharp canines. Her name was Kali and she seemed like she would fuck you up.

"Well, I see your type." Stiles said sarcastically.

Malia snorted. "Then I checked out this one," she clicked on an image of a young man, who was very handsome, but vastly different from the previous woman. He had short brown hair and a nice smile, with mysterious eyes.

"You play for both teams I see?" Stiles raised an eyebrow.

Malia shrugged. "I'm not picky. What about you, only got eyes for Derek Hale?"

Stiles looked back at the screen. "I haven't really looked at any of the others really."

"Why are you so hung up on him?"

"I don't know." Stiles figured that was the safest answer, and the most truthful. He didn't know why he didn't look at the other Alphas, perhaps it was because he knew of Derek Hale, at least a little bit. Or maybe because Laura had encouraged their meeting, or maybe it was something else entirely.

"Hey, I'm not trying to discourage you, with an ass like that, you could get any Alpha you wanted." Stiles laughed.

"Well thanks, but it's not really about me wanting them, it's them wanting me."

Malia shrugged. "Technicalities, come on, pick yourself another Alpha."

"Uh," Stiles looked at the screen, before picking a young man with brown hair and a wicked smile. His name was Brett, from Sector Three.

"Hottie, hottie. I see you also have a type?"

Stiles shrugged. "I guess so, but like I said it doesn't matter. Can we do something else now?"

"Fine, fine. What do you want to do?"

"I don't know." Stiles glanced at the clock, seeing it was a little after three. "We still have so long."

Malia looked around, before smiling wickedly, walking over to a table with small boxes.

"I can kick your ass in Monopoly."

"Oh, you're on." Stiles grinned. It was a game he got to play with his father a lot, and he had grown very good.

Impressively, Malia was very good as well, and they ended up playing for close to two hours. More than once a small crowd gathered around them, watching them play.

With a victory screech, Stiles stood up, giving a small dance when he finally won.

Malia glared. "Stop gloating! I swear you cheated!"

"I did not!"

"Yeah you must have, you were the banker!"

"Bullshit-"

"Ladies and gentlemen," Lisa called. Stiles and Malia whipped around to face her.

"It is now time to get you all down into the tunnels. If you will please all line up in number order in front of the guards there." She motioned. Stiles and Malia looked, seeing that the lunch tables had been cleared without them noticing. People began to move and soon Stiles and Malia did as well.

Before getting in line, Stiles stopped, realizing this would be the last time Stiles got to see Malia, at least for a while.

"Well, uh, it was great meeting you."

Malia smiled. "You too. Good luck out there."

Stiles nodded. It was an awkward goodbye, just like their first encounter, but Stiles was sad he had to split up from his new friend. If he ever had to see these Omegas again, he hoped to see her.

Hesitantly, Stiles got in line, right behind the girl with a large four on her back. Soon everyone fell into place and Lisa stepped to the middle of the line.

"Everyone, please follow your respective guard down the tunnel and follow their directions. Your Alphas are getting ready as we speak. Good luck." She smiled excitedly and a brick seemed to drop in Stiles' stomach. The Sector One Omega went first, led by a guard in navy blue. After a few seconds, another guard came to escort the Sector Two Omega. Within just a couple minutes, a guard was nodding at Stiles, who followed him shakily.

The guard led him through a door, closing off everyone behind him. They were then in a long hallway that was dark and cool. This must be the tunnel. In front of him were the other Omegas, looking around nervously.

"Stop here." The guard paused him. "Lift your arms."

"Wha-" Stiles spoke. He was ignored though, as the guard shoved his hands up and began to pat him down. "Hey!" Stiles snapped.

"Clear." The guard mumbled, before shoving Stiles forward. Stiles glared, but walked until he was behind the Sector 4 Omega once again. Soon everyone filed in tightly, the air growing humid and heavy. Each guard stuck by their Omega, all looking unhappy.

Stiles glanced at his guard, whose gaze was laser focused at the end of the tunnel.

Soon, the line began to move, one Omega would go left, then the other right, then the next left. Stiles went left with his guard and was led down another hallway.

"When you step onto the platform and it begins to rise, do not move or get close to the sides, unless you want your nose chopped off." The guard said, bored.

They arrived at the end of the tunnel and Stiles stepped on a slightly raised platform.

"Once you reach the top, do not step off the platform or you will be disqualified. Once everyone is up top the timer will start for thirty seconds. Good luck."

With that, the guard pressed a button and the platform began to rise quickly.

"Wait-" Stiles called, but it was too late, he was being whisked forward, underground. Like a damn elevator scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Stiles remembered watching that movie over at Scott's and being amazed at the possibility of that much candy being in one place. His father explained that that was a time before everything had changed.

His heart was hammering in his chest and all he could see surrounding him was dark grey walls. The ride was fast, making him almost lose his footing several times, but after a minute or so, it slowly began to stop. Just when Stiles started to regain his footing, the platform went upward. Stiles looked up, seeing the black sky riddled with stars. After a few moments, his head poked up above the ground and he was able to see all the others, standing on their platform.

He watched as other platforms raised up quickly as his platform came to a shuddering stop.

This time, no one was talking. Everyone was looking around, wide eyed. Stiles was panting heavily, eyes flicking around rapidly. One by one the platforms rose, with people looking around nervously. Cameras on flying contraptions swarmed around them, each looking at all the Omegas. Stiles tried not to glare.

The air was still and brisk. Nothing made a noise, no birds, no crickets. The earth was deathly still, the only thing he could hear was the hammering of his own heart.

"The Twenty-Seventh Mating Run will begin in thirty seconds." A voice echoed. It seemed to surround them all, Stiles had no doubt it was due to some type of technology he would never be able to understand.

"Thirty, twenty-nine, twenty-eight. . ." The voice drowned out as Stiles' heart rate picked up even faster. His head swarmed, feeling cloudy. He looked around him still, before focusing on a spot in the forest. That was where he would run. The voice seemed to slow and Stiles hadn't even realized it hit zero until he saw people taking off running. Something then registered and he ran towards the woods as fast as he could.

He ran like he never had before. He had ran for his life, quite literally, several times before. When stealing food, when running from gunshots, when running away from the police. Each of those times he was panicked, heart racing, but it had never been like this before.

Each of the other times he had ran, he knew that if he didn't make it, he would die. This time, he knew he wouldn't die, he would be captured and somehow that seemed more terrifying. Though he knew it was inevitable, he'd be damned if he was going to go down without a fight.

The woods were eerily quiet. No one was running beside him or around him. The only sound was Stiles's panting breath, rapid heartbeat, and the crunch of his boots against the ground. The air around him didn't even feel real.

He ran for what felt like hours before he had to stop. Leaning up against a tree, he bent down, hands on his knees, trying to suck in oxygen. He swallowed back the bile rising up his throat and wiped the sweat off his brow. Though it was a cool night, Stiles could feel be beads of sweat rolling down his back. He wondered how far he could run before someone could stop him.

He tried to slow his loud breath, listening all around him for anything, but there was nothing.

Just as his heart rate was beginning to slow, he heard a scream. A human, bloodcurdling scream. Stiles' eyes widened while he froze in place. The scream sounded far away. Should he keep running, should he hide? He wasn't sure what to do, completely out of his depth.

Closing his eyes briefly, Stiles took in another deep breath. He would keep moving, but he would walk, allowing him to hear better and pause when necessary. Perhaps if he could keep his heart rate under control, he senses would be more sharp. It was easier for Alphas, there senses were boosted 24/7.

Walking quickly, Stiles headed towards the direction that he hoped was farthest from the scream. He looked up at the sky and stopped. Displayed by some sort of projector was the time, 6:51 P.M. Beside the time, there were the faces of three Omegas, those who had been claimed. Malia was not one of them and Stiles breathed a sigh of relief, though he knew both of their fates.

He wondered how these Omegas had already been claimed. Perhaps as soon as the timer ran out, they just sat there, arms spread wide, ready to be tackled by an Alpha. Or perhaps the Omegas only got to run a little while before they were tackled and claimed. Alphas were greedy like that.

Looking in front of him, Stiles was about to take another step when he paused, hearing a strange sound to his right. He looked at a tree, walking closer. Peering inside the tree hollow, he saw a lens circling around as it zoomed in and focused. Stiles set his jaw, glaring at it. Malia was right, there were hundreds of cameras, watching his every move. Would it matter at this point if he were to flip them off?

Doing his best to ignore the camera, he walked forward for several more minutes. Soon he happened upon a creek and practically screamed triumphantly. His dry throat had been killing him.

Dropping to his knees, he cupped his hands, dipping them in the freezing water. He drank several handfuls, until his stomach hurt. He then wiped the water on his face and the back of his neck.

He thought of the times his father had told him not to drink water that was unclean, no matter how thirsty he got. Most of the time Stiles had followed his father's rules, except when he saw a man throw away a full soda because it was diet and not regular. His father also told him not to eavesdrop, but it was pretty much Stiles' only source of entertainment.

He stole that bottle from the trashcan, along with a box of half eaten chicken wings, and took it back to his father. He told his father that he was the one to take only a sip of the drink, then they split the rest of it.

He wasn't used to soda that was still fizzy, most was flat and had a weird taste Stiles hated, but he liked this one. It made his tongue feel weird and made him have to burp, sending him into a fit of giggles every time his father would let out a belch.

Water was sometimes hard to come by and they spent more than one occasion collecting rainwater in an old cup. Sometimes they would go in restaurants or gas stations, asking for water, but they only sometimes received what they had asked for. People took one look at them, dirty and frail, and sent them on their way. Everyone was struggling in their area of Sector 5, there wasn't much extra to share as it was.

That's why John Stilinski's new job was such a big relief, even if Stiles was mad when he first took it. John and Stiles had saved up money for months for John to be able to afford a nice shirt and slacks from their local thrift store. John only told Stiles it was for a job that would put food on the table, and Stiles didn't care what the job was, until he discovered it was a police officer, the people Stiles strongly disliked. The people who laughed at him, threw food at him, shot at him, and had no sympathy for him. The people who had never helped.

Stiles refused to talk to his father for two weeks when he learned that he had got the job, but eventually came around when John had bought Stiles his first hot meal in months. His father swore that he took the job to make a difference and that he would make a change.

Now, Stiles only worried. Worried about the bad people out there, his father's health, and that somehow his past would come back to haunt them both. He never felt secure, even though his father had had the job for several years.

Closing his eyes, he reopened them, glancing at his reflection in the water, lit up by the full moon. He was about to stand when he heard a twig snap. His body froze and his breath caught in his throat. He looked further down the strip of water, towards the other side of the creek, and saw the reflection of a man.

Swallowing, Stiles slowly raised his head and was met with glowing red eyes across the creek. Stiles' instinct was to run, but he stayed put, waiting to see what the Alpha would do.

The man was buff and had buzzed hair. He was wearing a navy blue tank top, revealing his huge biceps. He flexed his fingers, and Stiles glanced down to his razor sharp claws. He was flexing them like he wanted to rip into something.

That was all it took.

Stiles took off running, turning around and running back the direction he came. He was hoping the creek would slow the wolf down, but it seemed to do no such thing, as the man jumped clear over it.

He could hear the man hot on his heels, breathing anomalistically. Stiles thought about yelling, but knew there would be no use. The man was gaining speed and Stiles were terrified to look backward.

Within a moment, Stiles could feel the Alpha's breath on the back of his neck, making the hairs there stand up. The man shoved him down, causing Stiles to hit the ground hard and roll a few times.

The Alpha pressed him down and Stiles got a mouth full of dirt. The wolf placed a clawed hand across his back and leaned in close, breathing Stiles' scent in.

"Get off me!" Stiles squirmed, but it was no use.

The wolf growled, before leaning in closer. Stiles tried to fight, pushing against him, but the man had to be at least 250 pounds. Stiles clawed at the ground, dirt collecting under his short fingernails.

He turned his head slightly, able to breathe a little better, though it gave his neck a painful cramp. Opening his eyes, he looked for anything to help him, as the man began to rake his claws down Stiles' back.

Stiles squinted in the dark, spotting a rock. Stretching out his hand, he was just an inch or so away. Stiles stretched his hand as far as he could, grabbing the rock. Once in hand, he quickly swung it, aiming for the man's head, but was stopped.

The man's hand grabbed his own, growling.

"Seriously? You were going to bash my head in, even with billions of people watching?" The man growled angrily, slurring around his fangs.

"I'd rather them see that then me go down without a fight." Stiles spat out.

The man leaned down, looking like he was about to rip Stiles apart, before he froze. Quickly he sat up, sniffing the air as his eyes went wide. A yelp in the distance was heard and the man stood, releasing Stiles.

A growl was heard nearby, menacing and dark.

The man above him growled, lowering his body slightly, defensively. He snapped his jaw, glancing at Stiles and huffing, before he took off.

"What the fuck?" Stiles gasped. The man had just left, just like that! Without wasting this opportunity, once Stiles gained his footing he took off sprinting again, in the opposite direction the other Alpha went.

He didn't get far before he heard another growl, similar to the one he had heard. Fuck, was he being followed?

Stiles picked up the pace, looking behind him to see if he could spot anyone. The next step Stiles took didn't connect with the ground and he found himself tumbling down a hill. He rolled down, hitting and twisting every part of his body painfully, before landing on his back with a crack.

Stiles cried out, laying there only for a moment before he rolled over with a groan. If he didn't move, the Alpha would be on him. But he was in immense pain, the wind knocked out of him. Stiles clutched his chest as he got up on his hands and knees. He closed his eyes, trying to focus on his breath as black spots began to cloud his vision.

Shaking his head as he was still dizzy, Stiles looked up to the sky, blinking several times to try and focus his eyes. The clock read 8:08 and it appeared as though thirty or so Omegas had been claimed. On instinct, he began to look for Malia's picture when he heard someone approaching.

Without thinking, Stiles took off again, tears brimming his eyes from the pain. He only got a few yards before he was tackled.

Stiles yelped, squirming around as he was manhandled. On his stomach once again, a hand pressed his head into the ground, while a knee pressed into his back.

"Stop." A voice growled out.

"Fuck you!" Stiles spat out, squirming.

"You're hurt."

"As if you care, get off me!"

The man didn't respond, but lifted his hand off of Stiles' head, while still keeping him pinned. Stiles began to squirm, trying to be released, but froze when he felt the man's breath on the back of his neck, making him shiver. The Alpha leaned down close to his Stiles' ear.

"If you move, I will rip your throat out with my teeth."

Stiles thought briefly, before slowly nodding his head. He couldn't fight if he was dead and Stiles was surprised the man even thought about letting him up.

Slowly the man climbed off of him and Stiles quickly flipped over, but didn't make a move to run.

Stiles grimaced, looking down at the blood on his thigh. A limb must have caught him during his tumble.

He glanced up at the Alpha and did a double-take. The man was Beta shifted, but even through the hair, ears, and glowing red eyes, Stiles knew exactly who this man was. This was Derek Hale.

"You. . ."

Derek growled low, apparently not one for talking.

Stiles leaned up until he was sitting, getting closer to the man.

"You're. . ." Stiles was cut off when Derek leaned in close, inches from his face.

"Cameras." He muttered so quietly Stiles could barely hear what he said. Derek watched him as Stiles stared into his glowing red eyes, licking his lips. Derek's face hardened, following the action. Without warning, Derek placed a hand on Stiles' chest and shoved him back down to the ground.

Stiles let out a groan when his back connected with the ground harshly. Instantly Derek's head was in the crook of Stiles' neck, making him blush. Derek breathed in the Omegas scent, growling low.

He ran a hand slowly up Stiles' chest, making Stiles breathe hard. With the hand came a strange feeling, like everywhere his hand traveled he hurt slightly less. Was the Alpha taking his pain?

This was not happening. There was no way that Derek Hale, THE Alpha, was on top of him right now. There was no way that he was scenting him right now. And there was definitely no way Stiles was getting hard because of it.

"Fuck." Stiles exclaimed. This was really happening. In a way Stiles was relieved.

"Relax." Derek ran his hand up and down Stiles' side, trying to soothe him, but it was doing just the opposite. Stiles squirmed underneath Derek, elongating his neck and giving Derek more room.

Derek ran his nose up the length of Stiles' neck, breathing deep. Without hesitation, he repeated the action with his tongue, making Stiles gasp.

Derek kissed Stiles' neck softly, surprising Stiles with his gentleness. He pushed up Stiles' shirt slowly, running his warm hand across his stomach, making Stiles shiver.

It was then Stiles noticed that Derek was shirtless and wearing only tight black jeans that gripped him perfectly in every way.

"Wait." Stiles spoke, though he didn't really mean it. He wanted Derek to keep going and never stop.

Derek hummed, but slowed down, trailing kisses up his neck once again, making Stiles shut up.

Derek popped out his claws and ripped off Stiles' top, quite literally, making Stiles go hot. Derek slowly dropped his head down to Stiles' naval, licking a stripe upward.

Stiles moaned, breathing heavily. Derek smirked, locking eyes with Stiles. His eyes were still glowing red, but he had shifted back human and Stiles could therefore see how attractive the man was, even with his tousled hair and sweaty chest. His muscles flexed as he gripped Stiles' hips, pulling him closer.

Derek kissed up Stiles' abdomen, before locking onto Stiles' right nipple, biting it gently with human teeth.

"Fuck." Stiles threw back his head.

If this was going to happen, he was sure happy it was with Derek. He wasn't sure why, but he felt as though he could trust this man more than any of the others. He actually liked his family, and if Derek was half as kind as they were, he knew he would survive. He still might be miserable conforming to their lifestyle, but it had to be at least a little better.

Stiles looked up at the sky and saw it was 7:42. Almost all the Omegas had been claimed. Just as he began to look for the Omegas, trying to distract himself from jizzing in his pants, Derek grazed his teeth against Stiles' neck, making him close his eyes and moan. At this point, he was fully hard and Derek hadn't even kissed him.

Snapping out of his daze, Stiles moved his head, causing Derek to lock eyes with him.

Fuck he was hot.

Derek cocked his head, smirking, exposing his white teeth.

"Don't look at me like that." Stiles said, panting.

Derek cocked an eyebrow and looked impossibly hotter. I mean, the man oozed sex.

Keeping his eyes locked on him, Derek placed his fingertips on Stiles' navel, moving them impossibly slow down towards the top of his pants.

"Derek." Stiles said. He wasn't sure why. He didn't know what to say. Didn't want him to stop, wanted more, but didn't know how to ask for it. Wanted to be his, but was too embarrassed to admit it.

"What do you need?"

Fuck. The fact that he even asked that. Stiles swallowed, cautiously placing a hand on Derek's back, feeling the rigid muscle.

Derek slowly began to lean down, then paused once he was about an inch from Stiles' face.

Without thinking, Stiles quickly leaned up, locking their lips. Derek froze, as Stiles sucked in a gasp. After a brief moment, he reacted quickly and Derek gripped Stiles' face in one of his hands, getting a better angle as he slipped his tongue into Stiles' mouth, tasting him.

Stiles moaned, making Derek pressed his body closer to Stiles, as Stiles pressed his tongue against Derek's.

All thoughts left Stiles' head as he forgot about the cameras and the future. All he cared about was getting this Alpha inside of him.

Wrapping a hand around Derek's neck, Stiles pulled him impossibly closer and he ground up into him, looking for some friction. Something seemed to ignite in Derek, as he gripped Stiles' hips hard enough to leave bruises.

He kissed him harder, biting his lip and grinding down into Stiles.

Breaking the kiss as they both panted, Derek quickly ripped off Stiles' pants, revealing his hard cock. Derek's pupils blew and Stiles gripped Derek's pants, trying his best to rip them off as fast as he could.

Derek helped him out, revealing his massive cock.

"Holy fuck." Stiles threw back his head. Even without a knot, Derek was massive.

Derek growled lowly, leaning down to capture Stiles' swollen lips again.

Without warning, he flipped Stiles over, pulling his hips towards him, while pushing at his shoulder blades. Stiles' chest was pushed down to the ground, while his ass was high in the air, presenting.

"Fuck." Derek growled low, placing a hand on Stiles' cheek and pulling slightly, exposing Stiles' hole to the cold air.

"Please." Stiles moaned. His hole was slick, waiting for an Alpha's cock.

"Gonna make you feel good." Derek hummed.

"Please, please." Stiles was on the verge of tears. His body needed Derek.

"You want this?" Derek asked.

"Yes, God, please."

Derek leaned in close and Stiles gasped as he felt Derek's tongue.

"Oh my God." Stiles moaned, placing his forehead on his arm.

Derek proceeded to open him up, lapping at Stiles' hole almost desperately. Once he was slicked up, not that he needed much help, thank you Omega genes, he quickly slipped in a finger easily. Omega bodies were built for Alphas and at this moment they were both grateful.

"Fuck, please get inside me." Stiles moaned as Derek crooked his finger, hitting his prostate.

Derek chuckled, biting Stiles' cheek gently. Even through Stiles' begging, he continued to stretch him out. Slipping in another finger, Stiles could do nothing but pant, yearning for his Alpha. He squirmed, before laying back down again, gripping the ground. It felt good, almost too good, and yet he needed more.

"Shh. I've got you." Derek said, slipping in a third finger. Stiles sighed, blissed out.

Stiles almost wanted to try and think about everything that this decision would cause, what his future would look like, but he couldn't. All he could focus on was Derek inside of him.

"Please, Alpha."

That seemed to do the trick, as Derek growled again, low in his chest, before removing his fingers. Lining up, Derek pressed the tip of his cock to Stiles' hole. He pressed in slowly, Stiles moaning the whole way, before his tip was fully in. He paused there, making sure Stiles was okay before he continued. After a few painstakingly long moments, Derek bottomed out.

"So fucking tight." Derek panted.

"Oh my God." Stiles looked backward at Derek, craning his neck, before dropping his head back down to the ground as Derek slowly pulled out, only to press back in.

"Fuck, please move."

Derek complied, fucking Stiles slowly, hands on his hips, gripping him tight.

"Fuck." Derek threw back his head. His hole was perfect. Tight and warm and shaped just for his cock.

Derek pulled out, making Stiles groan in protest, before he was flipped on his back.

Quickly, Derek slipped back in, fucking Stiles hard.

Stiles was only able to look up at Derek briefly, before he closed his eyes and threw his head back. Derek was gorgeous, eyebrows drawn together in pleasure, abs pulled tight and red eyes half-lidded.

This was pleasure like he had never felt before. His hand could do nothing to top this and neither could his drunken high school endeavors.

Of course, he had never been with an Alpha really, fearing them and not wanting to be used for sex, that made him feel. . . dirty. But fuck, he would be dirty for this Alpha.

Derek fucked him in a rhythm Stiles swore he would memorize. He hit all the right spots and growled out, making them both rumble from the inside out.

Stiles could feel himself getting close, he was going to cum untouched.

"Fuck Derek, I-I. . ."

He couldn't even form words. Derek's cock began to swell as his knot grew. He leaned down, licking a strip of Stiles' neck, sending Stiles over the edge.

Stiles cried out as he came hard, black spots creeping in on his vision as he threw back his head. Derek's cock locked inside of him as Derek came, groaning out. Derek leaned down as Stiles' neck was exposed, biting down and claiming him as his own.

Immediately this caused Stiles' dick to spurt out more cum and he blacked out from pleasure.

Only a few seconds later he regained consciousness, opening his eyes to reveal a blissed out Derek, who had practically collapsed on top of him.

He rolled them, his dick tugging on Stiles' sore ass, making Stiles groan. He felt a drop of blood run down his neck towards the ground, but refused to touch it.

Stiles was still breathing heavily as Derek stared at him, his eyes now green and wide alert.

"That was. . ." Stiles said, running a hand through his hair, looking up at the stars, almost feeling awkward now that they had finished.

Derek hummed, smiling slightly, feeling proud. Stiles turned his head to look at Derek, meeting his gaze.

"You claimed me." Stiles spoke quietly.

"I did." Derek nodded.

Stiles swallowed. "So. . ."

"So I claimed you as my mate." Derek nodded, finishing the sentence for him.

"Fuck." Stiles said, running a hand down his face.

Derek looked pained. "You regret it?"

"No." Stiles spoke. That was the problem. Stiles didn't regret it.

Derek nodded. Now their encounter felt awkward. Derek was no longer practically feral and Stiles was no longer high on pheromones and hormones, yet Derek's cock was still in his ass and they were supposed to have a mature conversation.

"So, what next?" Stiles asked.

Derek snorted. "Well we can't exactly do much until my knot goes down."

"Fuck, you knotted me." A wave of arousal went through Stiles' body. Derek was still inside of him and that. . . well that just did something to Stiles.

"Don't do that." Derek snapped.

"Do what?" Stiles squawked.

"I can smell your arousal, it's. . . challenging so just. . . don't."

"Well it's a little hard not to think about it when you're cock is still inside of me."

Derek closed his eyes. "Don't say that either."

Stiles snorted. "Already trying to control me?"

"No, I'm trying not to knot you again." Derek grit out.

"Oh. . ." Stiles looked away. Oops.

"Just. Give me a minute, please." Derek closed his eyes.

Stiles nodded sympathetically. He didn't realize he had such an effect on the man, perhaps it was because he was claimed. Stiles understood to a degree, his hormones really messed him up, so he could only imagine what it was like for an Alpha, especially being that they were biologically more aggressive and had a faster recovery.

After a few minutes, Derek's knot went down and he was able to slip out slowly, releasing his cum. It ran down Stiles' leg, making him groan.

"Don't do that either." Derek gripped Stiles' hip tightly.

"This isn't exactly easy for me either."

Derek's eyes flashed and he clenched his jaw tight. Clearly Stiles being horny affected Derek.

"Come on." He pulled Stiles up, as Stiles let out a groan. He was sore, in every way.

"Where are we going?" Stiles asked.

"Fuck." Derek sighed, looking at their shredded clothes and ignoring Stiles.

"Guess you shouldn't have gone so wolf-man." Stiles snorted, placing his hands on his now bruised hips.

"Like I had much choice." Derek cocked an eyebrow. At that point, his Alpha side had almost completely taken over him. He thought he would be able to stay better under control, but something about the Omega had made that impossible for him.

Stiles rolled his eyes. "Guess we're streaking."

Derek smirked. "You are."

Stiles was about to make a snarky comment when Derek shifted right in front of him, into a full wolf. He was huge, way larger than a normal wolf and had solid black fur, as dark as the night. His eyes glowed red, familiar and striking against his midnight fur. He was gorgeous.

"Holy shit!" Stiles took a step back.

Derek sat down, somehow looking smug.

"Not fair!" Stiles pointed his finger like a child and debated stomping his feet.

Derek started walking and Stiles had no option but to follow him.

"No fucking wonder everyone is all 'Derek Hale is so powerful,' 'Derek Hale is so awesome,' blah blah blah. You can turn into a fucking wolf. So not fair." Stiles crossed his arms, partially because he was annoyed, partly because he was a child, and partly because he was cold.

Derek looked back at Stiles and huffed.

"Don't even. You have hair covering up your nutsack, so you don't have the right to make faces."

Stiles crossed his arms farther, feeling self conscious and even colder.

"Another reason this isn't fair? You can't talk back. Wait a second. You did this on purpose, you totally did this on purpose. You-"

Stiles was cut off by a loud bang. He instantly crouched low out of reflex, then looked to the sky as it displayed all of the Omegas faces with white confetti falling around them. They were all claimed.

Derek huffed, looking annoyed and waiting on Stiles to follow him.

They walked for what seemed like hours and Stiles began to shiver as the temperature dropped as the night grew on. He looked up to the sky to see what time it was, but the display was gone, only the stars and moon were above now.

Derek stopped as they neared the edge, shifting back into his human form.

"Stay here. I'll be right back." He muttered.

"Wait, wha-"

Before he could even blink, Derek was gone. Stiles huffed and sat down, alone with his thoughts, a very bad thing.

Stiles closed his eyes. Okay, so he had just been claimed. Derek had just climbed on top of him and had sex with him, bit his neck, knotted him. He was claimed.

In a way, Stiles was thankful. Thankful it wasn't a stranger. Thankful that Derek was kind and gentle. Needless to say, Stiles had horrible expectations, but was taken aback by the mannerisms and actions Derek took to make sure that he was okay. I mean, he actually asked for consent. Stiles was a little disgusted that he was thankful that Derek did, I mean for fuck's sake he shouldn't have to worry about something like that. Every Alpha should get consent. But that's not the world that he lived in.

Lisa had said that this was the time that was up to the Alphas and he wondered what exactly Derek had in store.

He heard rustling in the bushes and Derek soon came through, now fully clothed and with clothes in hand.

"Here." Derek handed Stiles the clothes, then stood there.

"Well, can you like turn around or?"

"I just watched my cum drip out your asshole and you're shy now?"

Stiles' face turned crimson. "Okay well, I was high on hormones and shit and now I'm not so if you could just-"

Derek rolled his eyes so hard Stiles thought they might pop out, but he turned around, arms crossed.

Stiles quickly got dressed, tripping as he put on the pants. He took an extra second putting on his shirt, looking at Derek's ass in those jeans.

Derek was wearing black jeans, a grey Henley, and a leather jacket, looking like walking sex, while Stiles was wearing a huge blue long sleeve shirt and black sweatpants.

He quickly was able to tell that these were Derek's clothes, by the size and by the smell. They didn't smell like any other Alpha though, they smelled like. . . Derek. Omega's noses were not nearly as sensitive as Alphas, but even so, Stiles could tell that this was an Alpha scent. It was strong, dominant, and Stiles would be lying if he said he didn't enjoy the scent surrounding him and covering his body.

"Okay." Stiles spoke softly.

Derek turned around and his eyes instantly went red, looking at Stiles in his clothes.

Growling, he stepped close quickly, before stopping abruptly. He blinked a few times and slightly shook his head, before clenching his jaw. He seemed to be stopping himself.

"Come on." Derek growled out, taking off quickly. They walked out of the forest and onto a paved road, Stiles speed walking to keep up with Derek.

"So where are we going?"

"I'm having my driver pick us up." Derek said quietly.

Stiles began to open his mouth when Derek stopped suddenly, making Stiles crash into his back. Derek crouched down, pushing Stiles behind him further.

Stiles followed Derek's heated gaze to the other side of the road, where he saw another Alpha and a girl. Derek snapped his jaw, eyes flaring red. Stiles looked at the other Alpha, heart hammering hard when he realized it was the one from before.

The other Alpha sneered, before grabbing the girl's hand and yanking her in a different direction.

Derek stayed in his defensive position for a few moments longer, before he stood, growling deep.

"I guess you don't like the guy." Stiles chuckled nervously, scratching the back of his neck. Derek looked like he was ready to kill.

Without saying anything, Derek took off again, Stiles hustling to catch up.

They walked in silence for a few minutes, Stiles still shivering and his heart rate quickening as thoughts raced through his head.

Where could Derek be taking him? What happens next? Who was Derek really? Was he nice or would he be just like every Alpha Stiles feared? What was this big secret between the Hales and pretty much everyone else? How powerful were they really and how would that affect Stiles?

"Hey." Derek said softly, now standing in front of Stiles. He hadn't realized he had stopped walking.

"Sorry." Stiles swallowed.

Derek gave a nod. "The car is right there."

There was still awkward tension between them. It seemed neither one of them knew how to act or what to say, of course, there wasn't exactly a manual for such a thing.

They walked to the car and a man got out, opening up the door for them.

"Boyd!" Stiles ran over to Boyd and practically tackled him in a hug. Within a split moment, it was like a chain of reactions. Boyd shoved Stiles off, as Derek let out a growl, running at Boyd and pinning him against the car, claws at his throat.

"Derek!" Stiles yelled out.

Boyd turned his neck, submitting.

"Derek, stop-" Stiles yelled.

Boyd glared at Stiles, willing him to shut up.

Derek grit his teeth, fighting an internal battle with himself.

"Explain it to me."

Boyd nodded slowly. "When Stiles saw me, he got excited. He ran at me, not the other way around. I shoved him off of me as soon as possible. We barely even touched. You know that I wouldn't do that to you. You know that."

Derek had his jaw clamped so tight Stiles thought his teeth might shatter. He took in a deep breath slowly and took a step back.

"Give me the keys." Derek said sternly.

Boyd tossed him the keys and stepped back.

Derek climbed in the car, turning it on. He rolled down the window and glared at Stiles.

"Get in the car."

"Wha- What the fuck just happened?"

"Get in. Now." Derek snapped, eyes still glowing red.

"Hold on, wha-"

"Do what he says. Now Stiles." Boyd said quietly, nodding.

Stiles paused, but did what he said, climbing in the front seat beside Derek. Before the car door was even shut all the way, Derek took off, engine roaring.

"Holy shit! Slow down, you're going to kill me!" Stiles fought with the seat belt before finally hearing it click shut.

Derek said nothing as he continued to speed down the road, gripping the steering wheel so tight Stiles could hear the leather squealing.

"What just happened back there? Why did you do that to Boyd?"

Derek growled. "Don't say his name like that."

"Like what?" Stiles threw his hands in the air.

"Like you're best friends."

"What is this, a pissing match?"

Derek took a deep breath, closing his eyes.

"Woah dude, eyes on the road, the fuck?"

"You're fine, we're not going to wreck."

Stiles glanced down at the speedometer, seeing that they were doing 90 miles per hour.

"I'll believe you when we aren't flying down the road at the speed of light."

Derek pressed on the gas harder.

"What the fuck is your problem?"

"My problem?" Derek looked at Stiles. "My problem is that my newly claimed Omega just threw himself at one of my best Betas and though I know it's irrational, I want to rip his throat out for touching you, which is conflicting because he is my best friend."

"Are you serious right now? I barely even know Boyd! And I didn't throw myself at him, you piece of shit."

Derek didn't say anything. "Believe it or not that helped."

"Jesus Christ." Stiles rolled his eyes and looked out the window, arms crossed. Alphas were fucking ridiculous.

They sat in silence for a little while, not even the radio was turned out for background noise. Stiles watched the trees go by, almost black in the night.

"Are you going to tell me where we are going or just kidnap me and pretend I am not here."

Derek snorted. "I didn't kidnap you."

"Sure as hell feels like kidnapping."

"Like you would know."

Stiles glared. "I've come pretty close thanks."

Derek glanced at Stiles, faced softened only slightly.

"I'm taking you somewhere safe for the night."

"Safe? As in I am in danger?" Stiles' heart rate picked up. He had only been with Derek for a couple hours and yet he was still in trouble?

Derek smirked. "I'm keeping you safe from my sister."

"Oh." What a relief. "I'm guessing we're talking about Laura here?"

Derek's eyebrows furrowed.

"You met my sister?"

Stiles snorted. "Dude I met your whole family, even your bat shit crazy Uncle Peter-"

Derek slammed on the breaks, turning the wheel quickly. Stiles slung forward in his seat belt, sucking in a gasp and they squealed to a stop, rubber burning and sending up puffs of smoke.

"Dude, what the fuc-"

"You saw Peter?" Derek growled out, suddenly very close to his face.

Stiles swallowed. "Uh, yeah, he kinda stopped by."

"And my mother let him in?" Derek growled again, eyes flashing red. Stiles realized how beautiful they were as they illuminated the car in the dark.

"Not exactly, he was just kind of there, no one was thrilled to see him, to say the least."

"What did he say to you, did he touch you?" Derek grew angry.

"No! Hey, no." Stiles said. It came out more soothing then he meant it to. Derek's shoulder's dropped slightly, thankful. Stiles decided it was best to leave out the part where Peter traced a claw across his face and threatened to follow him down to Sector Thirty-Seven.

"Peter only comes around when he wants something." Derek looked through the windshield, thinking.

"Funny, your family said the same thing."

Derek turned to Stiles. "So you really met my whole family then?"

"Yeah. As much as I hate to say it, they're really great."

"Clearly you didn't meet Cora yet."

"Actually I did, and she is one of my favorites thank you very much."

Derek rolled his eyes. "You would be the one to love Cora."

He put the car back in drive and accelerated slowly this time. "And to answer your question, we are going to the plane."

"The same one from before?"

Derek nodded.

"Great." Stiles groaned.

"Do you get sick flying?" Derek asked.

"Not so far. I don't exactly have much experience flying except for when Boyd flew me down here." Stiles quickly looked at Derek, awaiting a response at the mention of Boyd's name, but there wasn't one.

"Most people don't."

"So we're flying back to Sector Five then?"

Derek nodded.

"But not back to the Hale Mansion?"

"No, I've got a place an hour or so out."

Stiles supposed he wasn't really surprised that an Alpha wanted him all to himself for at least a night. Though it seemed like the Hale family was very pack oriented, the two were newly mated and clearly Derek was still very much on edge. Even so, it didn't mean that Stiles wasn't nervous.

Soon, they arrived in front of the massive plane, guarded by many men in the dark of the night. Had there not been a few lights, the plane would have blended perfectly into the night sky.

Derek got out and quickly opened the door for Stiles, who gave a nod in thanks.

"Sir." A man greeted Derek with a stern face. Stiles recognized him as the man who spoke to Boyd only hours before. He was still dressed the same and still looked just as stern.

"At ease." Derek spoke. The man began to lead the way. Derek placed a hand on the small of Stiles' back, making him go stiff. Stiles wasn't sure if it was a sign of ownership, dominance, or a comfort for Derek, but either way, Stiles wasn't sure how to feel.

"Everything is up and running, looking good." The man, Major Wilson if Stiles remembered correctly, said.

"Any compromises?" Derek asked. Stiles didn't want to know what that meant.

"Negative, sir."

Derek gave a nod as they arrived at the stairs to the plane.

"Go ahead and get settled, I've got some things to check up on." Derek gave a nod towards the plane.

"Okay." Stiles nodded, climbing on the plane and taking a seat where he was only hours ago. Stiles could hardly wrap his mind around that fact. All of these events had taken place in just a couple days and yet it had felt like years.

He took a seat and his mind instantly started racing as he looked down at the vast array of buttons blinking and flashing, lighting up the cockpit in an otherwise completely black space.

He wondered where Malia was, and if she was happy. He hoped she was happy. In a way, he hoped to see her again. In another life, she might have even been his type, might have even brought out the painful flirting in him, but there was no time to think about that. The fact was, Stiles was mated to Derek, now and forever, there was no escape.

Once again, the thought of it "not being so bad" crept up on him, and this time he didn't shove it down.

Stiles had to admit that Derek Hale was like no other Alpha he had met before, though he tried to limit his interactions with Alphas for obvious reasons. Most Alphas were pigs, cocky and prideful. Stiles knew it wasn't right to generalize and stereotype, but it was hard not to, growing up in the world he did, with the life he did.

Still, Derek had been. . . respectful. Even during their short amount of time together, he had made sure Stiles was comfortable and whilst dealing with his own Alpha instincts, had remained relatively calm, given the circumstances. Though he hated to admit it, Stiles was sort of impressed.

That being said, anxiety and fear still made the hairs on the back of his neck creep up on him. Derek could have been faking it all for the cameras and he already knew something fishy was going on here. From Laura saying the things she did to Boyd saying that basically everything was classified, it was obvious something else was going on here.

Though he would never admit it, Stiles felt a pang when he realized that Derek hadn't chosen Stiles because he had liked him, he chose him because of something else. It was ridiculous, but Stiles couldn't help feeling a little hurt.

What could possibly be going on here though? It all started with the fact that he was selected, a one in a million chance that really wasn't a chance at all. What had Talia done to make him get selected and why? If Derek is as important as Boyd said he was, why would he be paired with a random Omega without much of a life?

Stiles' thoughts were disrupted by Derek climbing aboard. Derek took a seat in the cockpit with Stiles, immediately slipping on his headset and handing the other to Stiles.

"No way."

Derek cocked an eyebrow.

"Does everyone in the Hale pack know how to fly a damn plane?"

Derek smiled. "Just me and Boyd, though Laura is in training."

"What the fuc-"

"I'll explain more when we are in the air." Derek had a look of seriousness on his face as he prepared the plane for takeoff.

Stiles grew quiet, looking out at the front of the plane as Derek began to talk into the headset. The plane began to move, turning down a long runway. Stiles felt like he was in some kind of weird déjà vu dream sequence.

"Triskele Alpha One Seven, cleared for takeoff."

Stiles didn't know much, but he figured that meant that they were about to be in the air.

"Don't kill me."

Derek snorted. "Relax, I'm a better pilot then Boyd."

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"

"Boyd didn't kill you did he?"

Stiles pinched himself. "Not that I know of."

Derek rolled his eyes as the plane picked up speed. Stiles' anxiety spiked and his breathing picked up. He had only done this once, it wasn't like he was an experienced flyer, and he hoped he never would be. As far as he was concerned this would be the last time he would be caught in a plane.

"You've got to relax." Derek clenched his jaw.

"Telling me that doesn't relax me." Stiles snapped.

Derek swallowed.

"Why the fuck do you look nervous? Oh my God, were you lying about flying planes? Of fuck, is this your first time? Oh my God, oh my God-"

"Stiles! Shut up!" The tires lifted off of the track as the plane was in the air.

"Please don't kill me." Stiles rambled as his anxiety continued to spike and his heart pounded in his chest.

"Please, you've got to calm down."

"Once again, that doesn't help." Stiles snapped. He looked at Derek who was gripping the yoke, still steering the plane upwards. His jaw was clenched, nostrils flared.

"What, is it something I said? Look I ramble when I'm nervous, you're just going to have to get used to it-"

"You're scent is filling the whole cockpit. You're anxiety is choking me right now and it's difficult for me to breathe and not come over there next to you."

Stiles was stunned. Was his scent that strong? Sure he was nervous but Jesus. And what did he mean come over there?

"I can't exactly control a panic attack when it's coming on." Stiles snapped.

"No," Derek shook his head as the plane leveled out, coasting through the air. "That's not what I mean. . . it's. . . difficult for me."

Stiles furrowed a brow.

Derek huffed in annoyance. "Look, it upsets my wolf side that you are upset right now and I can't do anything about it because I have to fly the plane so please just. . . take a deep breath for me, okay?" Derek refused to look at Stiles, embarrassed he was discussing his feelings so openly.

For the millionth time tonight, Derek shocked Stiles. From what he understood, Derek's wolf side yearned to comfort and be near Stiles while he felt like this. Any other wolf would have made Stiles be quiet.

Stiles gave a brief nod, staring out at the front of the windshield, looking at the lights below. He tried to stay quiet for as long as he could, calming himself down while simultaneously trying not to annoy Derek.

"It's kind of cool." Stiles said softly, breaking the silence.

"What's that?"

"Flying at night." Stiles shrugged. "I've never seen so many lights. Before I saw the clouds and the sun, but. . . I kind of like the lights."

Derek gave a small smile. "It's my favorite time to fly too."

"So. . ." Stiles was a little nervous to try and open up a conversation with Derek, but his heart rate was calmer now and he figured one of the best times to have a conversation would be when Derek was flying a plane, then he couldn't hop out of his seat and strangle Stiles.

"Are you in the military too then, like Boyd?"

"You really got to know Boyd didn't you?" Derek snapped, jaw clenched.

Stiles' face reddened. Clearly, it wasn't a good idea to start a conversation.

Derek shook his head. "Sorry, that was uncalled for."

Stiles gave a small smile. Surprisingly, he was sympathetic. It was clear Derek was trying not to be a dick, even though his jealousy was clearly getting to him.

"Boyd is my best friend. We met in the military actually." Derek paused. "This is all classified-"

"Jesus, you're just like Boyd. Can't I know anything?"

"If you would have let me finished, I was saying that this is all classified, but since the Mating Run is over and we are now. . . involved, I can share."

"Oh. . . sorry."

"Of course, I can't tell you everything until I am back with my mother and we have a formal pack meeting."

"I guess that makes sense."

Derek nodded. "So what do you want to know?"

Stiles laughed. "Oh buddy, you have no idea how much I want to know."

"Oh boy." Derek mumbled. Stiles chose to ignore that.

"So you say you met Boyd in the military? He said he was in some kind of classified special forces group, are you in that too?"

"I run in."

"Shit." Stiles leaned back.

"I run a highly classified military group that no one knows exists. I was training a different group when I spotted Boyd. He seemed like a real leader. I took a look at his file and saw that he got perfect scores on every test, physical, mental, combat, everything. I recruited him and soon took him into my pack."

"That's another thing, your pack? How does that work, four Alphas in the family?"

Derek smiled. "That's a common question." Derek shrugged. "I don't know, it just does. My mother is. . . brilliant, strategic, a great leader, and a fantastic mother. It hasn't been easy, but it works to our advantage in many scenarios, others not so much."

"Jesus I can't imagine the fights you must have."

Derek snorted. "Yeah, we've certainly had our fair share of bloody nights."

Stiles shook his head. "That must have been incredible though, growing up with that many siblings."

"And infuriating." Derek smirked.

"I can't help noticing how all of you seem polar opposites of each other." Laura was a born leader, and incredibly kind. Talia was authoritative and organized, yet still had a motherly side of her she seemed to keep hidden most of the time. Cora was sassy, full of spunk and strong feels. Peter was an absolute asshole. Derek was. . . well Stiles hadn't quite figured out Derek.

Derek nodded. "There are lots of conspiracy theories out there that believe we aren't related."

"If it wasn't for the hair and eyes I might believe them." One thing they all had in common was their stark black hair and incredible eyes, a mixture of green, blue, and specks of brown.

Derek smiled. "We'll be landing soon."

"Okay." Stiles nodded. He felt calmer now. It was true that Derek was a great pilot and actually having a normal conversation with him made him feel immensely better. At least Derek didn't seem to be a freak.

Stiles swallowed, remembering how he was chosen for a reason. "I have a feeling you already know everything about my family."

Derek turned towards Stiles and shook his head. "Not now." He tapped the headset, then motioned around him, creeping Stiles out. Was there really the possibility of someone listening in on them?

"Triskele Alpha One Seven requesting permission to land SFAB."

"Cleared to land runway two-seven left, Triskele Alpha One Seven."

Soon Stiles was able to see the ground as they landed smoothly, Stiles' heart only picking up when the tires hit the pavement.

They came to a stop in silence, both taking off their headsets at the same time.

"Am I going to be bombarded by paparazzi when I step off this plane?"

"If you were, I would be thoroughly impressed by the general public's ability to find a highly classified air base."

Stiles raised his eyebrows. "Well okay then."

After stepping off the plane, Stiles was shocked to see they were not surrounded by several men. Only a single sleek black Camero stood in front of them. Derek led Stiles to the car, the door being held open by a man in a suit.

"I've got it from here, thank you." Derek spoke to the man with a nod.

The man nodded and handed him the keys.

"Holy shit!" Stiles exclaimed, climbing in the car.

"Oh my God." Stiles was in awe at the beauty of the car. The interior was all leather and all black. It smelled strongly of Derek and Stiles had a suspicion this was Derek's favorite car.

Derek smirked, proud of himself.

"The wealth of you people never ceases to amaze me." Stiles shook his head.

"I can get you one if you want." Derek said nonchalantly.

Stiles laughed. "That's insulting, I don't even know how to drive."

"I'll teach you." Derek said, starting the car and accelerating quickly. Stiles would never admit that made his heart flutter.

"You won't be able to if you kill me, Jesus Christ do you always drive like this?" Stiles gripped the side of the car.

"Only when I have places to be."

"Where exactly do you have to be?"

Derek gripped the steering wheel, jaw firmly set in place and eyes glued to the road. Jesus, did he want to get him in bed again that badly?

"We'll get there no matter how fast you go, unless we are dead." Stiles tried to sound sarcastic, but it was a weak effort.

"You seem to be very insistent I'm going to kill you some way or another."

"I haven't exactly had the best experience with Alphas, let alone ones with money, cars, and planes."

Derek growled so low it was almost inaudible.

"Sorry." Stiles apologized. He wasn't sure what he was apologizing for, but he didn't exactly want to upset the Alpha on their first night together. First impressions and what-not.

"I'm not upset with you." Derek said, though he tightened his grip further. "Just know that we aren't all bad."

"Your sister said the same thing."

"She can be wise sometimes." Derek softened his grip on the wheel.

Stiles looked out the window, focusing on the stars in the sky, creating tiny spots on the otherwise black night sky. He wanted to feel angry and bitter, but couldn't bring himself to be horrible to a man who had treated him otherwise. It made him angry that the Hale family was breaking every stereotype, at least so far. Even so, he kept waiting for the ball to drop. There was no way this would all go smoothly, not if Stiles was involved.

Stiles had been pushing it away, but he couldn't help thinking of his dad. This would be the first time they were ever really apart for a long time. Of course, there had been nights they spent apart, but they always knew where each other was, and that they were safe. He knew his dad must be worried sick and trying to keep track of him somehow, but there would be no way he would ever succeed. Even as a police officer, John didn't have anything on the Hale's and their power, especially being that the Alpha Stiles was with controlled the military.

Stiles felt a pang in his chest remembering how calm his dad had been before the drawing, firmly believing that his son would not be chosen. Neither one of them believed there was the possibility he ever would be.

He could picture it now, his dad sitting at the kitchen table, a bottle of scotch in hand, staring at his picture, waiting by the phone for a call he would never get.

Stiles felt tears well up in his eyes, but quickly blinked them away.

"I'm sorry." Derek spoke lowly. Stiles glanced at Derek and saw his eyebrows knit together, he had returned to his stiff position.

Stiles shook his head. "This whole reading my emotions thing is going to get old really fast." He snapped. He didn't like people knowing his business and was typically good at hiding his emotions, except around an Alpha, let alone an Alpha who had just claimed him.

"I don't mean to intrude, I. . ."

"I know." Stiles said quietly. The man was telling the truth, and it had to be annoying, always knowing how people felt, smelling the sting of sadness and the punch of anger. Derek was going to be smelling a lot of that.

They stayed silent for the rest of the car ride, Stiles trying to focus on being still, which only caused him to fidget more.

Soon, they pulled in front of a massive building with large intricate windows and a wrap around glass patio. This must be Derek's place.

"Holy shit." Stiles said, stepping out of the car as Derek held open the door for him. Clearly still a gentlemen, even without the cameras following them.

They walked up to the front, where an older gentleman greeted them, dressed in a slim black suit with a matching bow tie.

"Alpha Hale, Mr. Stilinski." He took a small bow.

Derek gave a brief nod as the man moved out of the way to let them in. As soon as Stiles stepped in, his jaw dropped. The interior was a soft cream color, with marble flooring and gold detailing. As soon as you walked in, you were faced with a gold staircase, the steps lit up by soft lighting. A massive chandelier hung above their heads, ceilings so high it made Stiles crane his neck. In front of them was a glimpse of what Stiles could only assume was a massive open floor plan, where the living room and kitchen were only a little ways apart.

"Go ahead and take the night off Jennings, thank you."

"Yes, Alpha." He gave a brief bow and disappeared.

Derek shrugged his leather jacket off, hanging it on a gold coat rack. Stiles wasn't even surprised by the fact that Derek had a butler.

"This is your place?" Stiles was still looking around, jaw open.

Derek shrugged nonchalantly. "Sometimes."

"Dude, I know you're not much of a talker, and clearly I make up for a lot of that, but I gotta know about your life." Stiles laughed, breaking his focus on his surroundings to look at Derek. It was there, in the soft glow of the yellow lighting, that Stiles was truly able to appreciate Derek's beauty. Stiles had seen Derek in a different, erotic light, but now he was able to see Derek in a different manner. He wanted to get close to him, try and name the color of his eyes and slowly trace his fingers across the dips of his body, mapping him.

Stiles swallowed, noticing the quiet of the house and Derek's lack of response.

"We'll have time to talk. Are you hungry?"

"Yeah, yeah I guess so." Stiles shrugged. He was always hungry really, that was something that had not changed since he had steadily had food on the table for a few years now. In the beginning, he feared that it wasn't permanent and he found himself rationing his food. He quickly realized McDonald's burgers didn't keep well and slowly warmed up to the idea of throwing away food, even his leftovers. His father had scolded him when he had wrapped up a single tomato slice and placed it in the fridge. It stayed there for a week and filled the fridge with a rancid smell, it was only then Stiles realized that perhaps things really were changing and he could ease up.

Of course, they had had their ups and downs since then, with the ever changing economy and low salary that he and his father earned, but though they sometimes had the water shut off and never owned a TV, he always had food on the table. His father had promised him that no matter what, he would never have to steal or dig through a dumpster again and he had kept that promise.

"I'm not exactly a cook, but we can order something if you like?" Derek spoke, opening up the massive refrigerator to reveal the most food Stiles had ever seen, though it seemed Derek was still looking for something to eat.

"Oh my God." Stiles stepped close, crowding his space, but Derek didn't move, rather, he stayed frozen in place.

"I've never seen this much food in my life, except at a grocery store. No way we are ordering food, I'll cook."

"No, you don't have to do that-"

"Please, I want to, I've never had this many ingredients to cook with." Stiles continued to stare in the fridge, but looked at Derek when he realized he hadn't spoken.

He had that same look on his face that he had in the car and Stiles was starting to have a difficult time reading him.

"I'm sorry, we can order whatever you like, of course, Alpha-" Of course Stiles had already overstepped, even saying no to the Alpha when he had offered him whatever food he wanted.

"No," Derek held up a hand, taking a step back. "Sorry, I. . ."

Stiles stood there waiting for a response from the constipated Alpha.

"Please, make whatever you wish, that would be fantastic. I'm going to go wash up." He gave a nod, before disappearing quickly.

Stiles shook his head, but immediately got to work. He wasn't sure what he wanted to make until he saw the meat. That would make his Alpha happy.

He didn't realize what he had just thought until he was already seasoning. Since when did he care about pleasing an Alpha? As far as he was concerned, any other Alpha could lick the bottom of his shoe.

Pausing for only a moment more, Stiles dismissed the thought and continued to season the meat, after rummaging through some cabinets. He hoped Derek wouldn't mind.

Finding a skillet, he turned the heat on, while he brought out the vegetables and began to chop them.

"Can I help you with anything?"

"Oh, you don't need to."

"I want to, please, if you're going to be cooking, at least let me help."

Stiles gave a small smile. "Alright, you can chop up those vegetables right there."

Derek nodded sternly and pushed up the sleeves to his grey Henley, revealing his tanned arms. Stiles swallowed and began to watch Derek, his hand gripped around the knife, clearly an amateur, but Stiles appreciated the effort none the less.

Smiling, Stiles returned to his sizzling pan, coating the meat in butter and spices. He startled, however, when he felt Derek come up behind him.

"That smells incredible." Derek closed his eyes, breathing in the scent.

Stiles smiled as his heart warmed with glee. His Alpha approved.

"Hopefully it tastes just as good." Stiles popped the vegetables in the skillet with the steak, making sure the season them heavily.

Derek began to grab plates, setting the table. He grabbed two beers from the fridge, raising his eyebrows at Stiles, making sure he was okay with that to drink. Stiles nodded, returning back to his work as he popped the pan in the oven.

"Should be ready in just a few minutes." Stiles washed his hands and grabbed the beer Derek was handing him, nodding in thanks.

"You really aren't like any Omega I've ever met." Derek said, taking a swig.

Stiles swallowed slowly. "I'm not sure how to respond to that." He said truthfully.

"I don't mean it in a bad way," Derek furrowed his eyebrows. "Quite the opposite actually."

"How do you mean?"

Derek shrugged. "You're. . . mellow."

Stiles burst out laughing, surprising Derek. "Mellow? I have been called a lot of things and mellow is not one of them. Clearly, you did not see me try to take down the security officers." Stiles laughed again, taking a swig of his beer. Derek let out a small laugh as well.

"Perhaps mellow was the wrong word."

"Mhm." Stiles nodded, setting his beer down to take the pan out of the oven. Setting it on the stove, he hummed, looking at its contents. The aroma was filling the room and making Stiles' stomach rumble.

"Soups on." Stiles grabbed a mat and the skillet, placing it on the table. He dished up the steaks and a healthy portion of vegetables onto each of their plates, giving Derek the bigger of the two steaks.

"This looks great." Derek smiled in thanks, cutting off a piece like it was butter. Stiles didn't realize then that he waited for Derek to take the first bite, a traditional sign of respect.

Derek's eyes widened, looking at Stiles. "This is amazing Stiles, where did you learn to cook like this?"

Stiles smiled, heart swelling at the compliment, and took a bite himself. It was in fact delicious. "My mom taught me some stuff when I was younger, before she died." Stiles shrugged. "Once I got an actual kitchen it just sort of became a hobby of mine. I didn't really have the option before." Stiles didn't exactly feel like coming out and telling Derek he was on the streets for years, whilst sitting in his penthouse eating off of fine china.

"Right." Derek looked down. "I'm sorry."

Stiles smiled softly. "Thanks."

"She had frontotemporal dementia, right?"

"How did you know that?" Stiles asked defensively.

Derek cleared his throat, finishing off his beer. He went to the kitchen and grabbed two more, popping their tops off.

"My family. My mother is Alpha of Sector Five, she kind of knows everything about everyone."

Stiles nodded. "That was almost believable." He pointed his fork at Derek, before taking another bite. Derek looked confused.

"But see, I know for a fact that's bullshit." A little voice in the back of his head was telling him not to push it, but he ignored that little voice.

"Because there is no way in hell a family like yours would give two shits about my life, otherwise, I wouldn't have been on the streets for three years." Stiles took the last bite of his steak and continued to speak whilst his mouth was full.

"Your pack did some kind of research on me and my life, sorry to disappoint, by the way, there isn't much there, especially in my early teenage years, kind of wiped off the map then."

Derek frowned, pushing his plate away.

Stiles stood up, suddenly angry. He snatched both of their plates up, taking them to the sink. He threw them in their angrily and began to turn on the water.

"Leave them," Derek called from behind him.

Stiles ignored him, rolling up his sleeves.

"Leave them," Derek said more sternly. Stiles sighed, but obeyed, turning off the water.

"Come here." Derek called. Stiles grit his teeth, but came back to the dining room table. He prepared himself for Derek to scold him, or perhaps even hit him.

Derek looked down, collecting his thoughts before he spoke. "Look," he shook his head. "I don't care what my mother says, I'm going to explain everything to you, at least everything that I know. I don't want to leave you in the dark, besides, you're too smart for that."

"Damn straight." Stiles crossed his arms.

"One thing you should know about me though Stiles, is that I am a straight shooter." Derek leaned back.

Stiles looked at him, nodding. He expected nothing less from an Alpha such as him. Though Stiles almost remarked on how it seemed Derek wasn't exactly a straight shooter when it came to expressing his feelings.

"I suspect my family fed you the 'drawing chooses who it chooses' speech, but I already know you don't believe that, no one really does."

"Well, when you're faced with a one in a million chance and you, not the popular, pretty, wealthy, Omega, get chosen, you begin to question the system slightly." Stiles waved his beer.

Derek smirked. "My mother has worked hard to make the system what it is today, but no one is denying it has its faults. In an aim to be more progressive, my mother has had to make some sacrifices and has done things she regrets. You, however, are not one of those things."

Stiles blushed.

"It is true that my mother selected your name specifically."

Stiles thought about singing I-knew-it at the top of his lungs, but resisted.

"But why?" Stiles asked, exasperated.

Derek swallowed. "That's where things get a little bit more complicated." He looked off to the side, crossing his arms further, clearly uncomfortable.

Stiles scooted his chair closer, leaning in. "Look," he dropped his voice low. "I get you're not much of a talker, but you're going to have to let me in, at least enough to where I understand what is going on and why I am here."

Derek simply looked at Stiles for a few moments, then nodded.

"Come with me." Derek stood, leading Stiles towards the balcony. He opened the sliding door and Stiles shut it behind himself. He watched as Derek headed towards the rails, causally leaning on the side, relaxed. He looked towards the night sky, the wind softly blowing his black hair, almost blended in with the black of the night, only illuminated by the bright moon.

"My mother has had to make some decisions for the good of the Sector, for the world."

"Like Laura being married to someone from another Sector?"

Derek nodded, not even surprised Stiles knew what he did. He continued to look at the sky, listening to the waves of the ocean.

"The stronger our pack gets, the stronger our Sector gets, the better my pack will be able to make the world. People look at us and see the wealth, they see the parties and the Alphas, but they don't see the purpose. We didn't grow to be who we are by chance, we did it through determination and sharp decisions. My pack. . . envisions a better future, one that takes sacrifices. Sometimes we just have to play the part."

Derek paused, looking down. "You asked for honesty."

"That's all I want." Stiles spoke softly.

Derek licked his lips. "I didn't go into the Mating Run to find a mate. I went in to find you."

Stiles froze. Him? Why?

"I won't lie to you in the fact that it started off as a political move. My mother believes that by being mated to an Omega who didn't come from wealth, perhaps we can enact change. My pack are strong advocates for Omega rights, that's why the Mating Run was created. Unfortunately it turned into tabloids and drama, but that was never the intention. . . even so, that's not the only reason I chose you."

Stiles swallowed.

"In the beginning, I was firmly against the whole thing. I was adamant I would not be forced to run, I didn't want to be forced to mate someone I didn't know, or be stuck in that situation for the rest of my life."

Stiles paled. He sounded just like himself. Could it be that all this time, there were Alphas who felt the same way Omegas did? Did they feel as trapped as they did?

"But I couldn't turn my back on my people. I couldn't continue to walk down the street at night and see those Omegas propped against a wall, selling themselves or collapsed on the sidewalk, high on who knows what." Derek made a face.

Stiles knew it was true. Omegas had to take up other means to get by. Stiles always told his father he would never get involved with drugs or prostitution, but he would be a liar if he said the thought never crossed his mind.

"Alphas are supposed to be leaders, those who care for Omegas, and here I was, sitting in a mansion having my shoes polished while Omegas were fighting for their lives, just for being Omegas.." He shook his head. "So I made a choice. I would run, but only if we did it my way. My mother's only condition was that it was an underrepresented Omega, I had several other conditions."

"Like what?" Stiles asked. He couldn't possibly think of what conditions would lead to him.

"I also wanted an underrepresented Omega, but I wanted one who. . . was unique. Passionate, one that wouldn't just bow down to me, or throw themselves at me. I wanted an equal. Believe it or not, those are hard to come by."

"An equal?" Stiles asked out of shock.

"That's how my family and myself see Omegas, as equals. I, in particular, have grown tired of these bullshit games. An already loved and well-off Omega is chosen to have their dream come true, to be mated to an Alpha who just wants to use them. . . I narrowed down my search by first finding someone who was born and raised here, someone who wasn't born into a wealthy family or had any special circumstances."

"Let me get this straight, you wanted an ordinary Omega to be chosen? Isn't that the polar opposite of what the Mating Run is?"

"Exactly. That's not how it was supposed to be, but that's how it is. The political side of things was the hope that we would bring the Mating Run back to its roots and improve from there. Give Omegas the chance to live as Alphas do, while revealing the gap between the two, in hopes to close it. In hopes of igniting a change."

"That's smart, I have to admit." Stiles shrugged.

"That wasn't all though." Derek took a swig of his beer, peering at the ocean.

"As I said, I had my own conditions. My sisters and mother searched for months for the perfect Omega, like I was speed dating or something." Derek snorted. "I went into my mother's office one day and found a stack of files on her desk. I sneered at them all, full of Omegas who were either too popular for their own good or desperate to drop on their knees at the sight of red eyes. I was about to walk out when I saw a file under a book, separate from the others. It was yours."

"Me?"

Derek nodded. "You were. . . perfect. Risky, but perfect and I. . . I knew that if I had to do this, it had to be you."

Stiles shook his head. "I still don't understand, why me? I get the political side of things, as you say, but there were plenty of Omegas with situations like mine."

Derek shook his head. "No, none quite like you. . . my mother knew Claudia."

"What?" Stiles' heart stopped beating.

Derek nodded. "I never got to meet her, unfortunately, but they were friends. They worked together for years, coming up with different ways to fight for Omega rights. When she died. . . my mother was distraught, wouldn't come out of her room for weeks. We learned later she was holed up in there, fighting for a new campaign." Derek smiled softly.

"My mother never knew you and your father were on the streets. Her and Claudia's relationship was very secretive, John didn't quite approve of what they were doing, or rather the means by which they were doing it. They had an argument and your father said he never wanted to speak to her again, and my mother respected his wishes, not knowing that you had lost everything. She stayed out of your life, following John's wishes. . . she hadn't seen you or heard anything about you until the day she saw your file."

Stiles didn't say anything, unsure of what to say.

Derek took a deep breath, releasing it slowly. "I knew it had to be you, there was really no one else, not for me. My mother thought it was too risky, you were too much of a culture shock, but I was certain you would be the one." Derek smiled. "As soon as you came out swinging I was certain." He laughed, Stiles joining him.

"You were passionate, fiery, you didn't want to submit to anyone and. . . anyways I broke several rules after that."

"What do you mean?"

Derek smirked. "I followed you. I wasn't there the night of the party at the mansion, even that was too risky, besides I was forced to be at the party with the other Alphas running, but Boyd kept me updated. I wanted to meet you so bad, I almost came to the mansion that night, but I couldn't risk ruining this whole thing. Meeting you the night of the run seemed wrong in a way, but right in another." Derek shrugged. "When you got on the plane that day, I was there."

"What? How?"

Derek laughed. "It's not like you have to sneak around when you control the whole air base."

Stiles rolled his eyes.

"I didn't ever see you though, I kept my distance, afraid I would do something stupid, but I caught your scent." Derek swallowed, suddenly looking nervous.

"That's when I knew."

"Knew what?" Stiles asked.

"Knew I wasn't going to bail." Derek smiled, locking eyes with Stiles.

"As much as I hate to admit it, that makes me feel better in a way, like I'm not crazy." Stiles shook his head.

"Why would you think you were crazy?" Derek asked.

"Because everyone around me, Omega, Beta, or Alpha, was telling me that I should be so excited, that I should be grateful for this opportunity. I guess it's comforting knowing that there are Alphas out there that feel the same, in a way."

"Not many unfortunately, but we are out there." Derek smiled.

"I'm glad it was you." Stiles said softly. It made Derek's heart swell.

"I am too. It almost wasn't." Derek growled lowly.

"What do you mean?"

"That other Alpha, Ennis, he almost claimed you. It would have ruined everything. Obviously people couldn't know anything, so I had to pretend that I was following other Omegas, that I hadn't come only for you. I couldn't follow your scent directly, if I had, I would have found you within minutes and people might have guessed something was up. I had to keep my distance. Ennis was following the scent of another girl, when he suddenly switched, catching yours."

"That's how I got out of there, you were the one who ran him off." Stiles realized.

"I was trying not to be irrational. I saw you lift that rock and I thought, this is it, I won't have to kill him, but then he caught you." Derek looked down. "I'm known for having excellent control, it's one of the reasons I am the Alpha I am, but. . . in that moment something snapped. I was about to attack when another Alpha whisked by, completely oblivious to me. He was going for a girl a few hundred yards from you, but he came too close to you and I snapped his leg. Ennis heard and the gig was up."

"I remember that growl, I'm not sure I'll ever forget it." It still sent shivers down his spine.

"He had what was mine," Derek growled again, menacing like before. "You were pinned down, you were hurt, he was hurting you."

"How did you get him to leave though?"

Derek looked away. "Alphas communicate a little differently. The tone and pitch of a growl can basically communicate for you, I basically said that I was going to kill him, and I sort of have a reputation."

"Of killing people?" Stiles raised his voice.

"Of keeping my promises." Derek said sternly.

"Oh. . ."

"He knew who I was. . . decided it wasn't worth his life I guess. . . I want you to know I tried not to hurt you, that was the last thing I wanted, but you just kept running and. . . Alphas like the chase, it was very conflicting." Derek looked almost ashamed of himself.

"Yeah, I distinctly remember you threatening to rip my throat out."

"You wouldn't stop squirming."

Stiles laughed, despite their conversation.

"I hope I didn't hurt you." Derek looked down.

"You didn't, you. . . kind of did the opposite." Stiles looked away, though he could feel Derek's gaze.

"Stiles I. . ." Derek took a step closer to Stiles, brushing their shoulders together. "I won't ever hurt you."

"Don't make promises you can't keep." Stiles said, looking at the ocean.

"I don't."

Stiles looked at Derek, holding his gaze.

"I guess this is it, huh?" Stiles asked, still holding his gaze.

"What do you mean?"

Stiles motioned around him. "It happened. I've been claimed. I'm with an Alpha now, my life will never be the same and this is it."

"I don't ever want you to feel trapped here. I want you to be able to do as you please." Derek said.

"So if I wanted to leave right now you would let me?" Stiles knew it was a stupid question, but that was the point. He knew the Alpha wanted him here, that was the whole point.

Derek's brows furrowed. "That would be very difficult for me."

Stiles nodded. "I know." And he did know. He knew that it would ruin everything the Hale pack was working towards and he also knew that it would hurt Derek's Alpha side. He knew that the Alpha would yearn for him and eventually hunt him down, the claim being too strong.

"The media would destroy you and quite honestly it would make things way worse for the both of us, defeating the entire point of this situation and changing the Mating Run forever, but if you wanted to, I suppose I couldn't stop you."

Stiles made a face. "Of course you could stop me. I'm surprised I'm not pinned up in your dungeon already."

Derek snorted. "Laura wasn't kidding, you really do think the worst of Alphas."

"Can you blame me?"

Derek frowned. "From what I've seen on paper, you've had a hard life and I'm sorry that some of that has been caused by Alphas, just. . ."

"What?" Stiles asked, after Derek never finished his sentence.

"You asked for honesty, can I ask something in return?"

"I suppose." Stiles shrugged.

"Trust. I know it will take time, all of this will, but I want this to work."

Stiles remained silent, thoughtful. "I appreciate what you are working towards, assuming it isn't all a lie. But I don't trust people easily Derek, especially not Alphas I just met."

"Then can I earn it?"

Stiles looked at Derek. The man was different than anyone he had ever met. Gorgeous, authoritative, yet respectful. He could have anything he wanted in the world, yet he wanted Stiles' trust. Yet he wanted Stiles.

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Okay, I'm willing to work with. . . whatever this is." Stiles motioned.

Derek smiled. A brilliant, beautiful smile that made Stiles' heart flutter.

"But you have to keep up with your promise. Honesty, which means using your words wolf-man."

Derek snorted. "My sisters tell me I'm not very good with feelings."

"You're not, you suck, but we'll work on that."

They both laughed, finishing off their beers. Stiles was. . . comfortable. He never imagined that he would be this close to an Alpha and not on edge. His anxiety was telling him to fear, that it was all a ruse and he would get stabbed in the back, but he was hopeful. Hopeful the Hale's really meant what they said, hopeful Derek did actually want him, political or otherwise. He hoped for the otherwise.

It pissed him off that he craved an Alpha, that he knew he would never really be fully happy without one. Like loving a woman, knowing you're supposed to be with them, but falling in love with a man, the person you really want to be with, the person you are made to be with.

Stiles shivered, the wind coursing through his hair, twirling it around.

"Let's get you inside," Derek spoke quietly, Stiles nodding in agreeance.

Once inside, the air turned a little more awkward, still heavy from their last conversation.

"So," Derek swallowed. "We'll probably be spending the next few days in the mansion, but I wanted to have a night for you to try and adjust and everything. . . I guess I can show you to your room."

"My room? Will I not be sleeping with you?"

Derek looked a little shocked and Stiles' face turned a bright shade of red. He had just assumed that the Alpha who claimed him would want to sleep with him, he had never heard of a pair sleeping in separate rooms after the run.

Derek cleared his throat. "I just figured you would be more comfortable-"

"Right, yes, yeah thanks." Stiles nodded and Derek began leading him to his room, down in a tucked away hallway.

It was simple, modern, yet still elegant. The room was painted a soft grey, the furniture a dark mahogany wood. The king size bed was covered in a large white bedspread, with a massive amount of fluffy looking pillows. Two white lamps sat on either side of the bed, on top of two nightstands.

There was a dresser opposite of the bed and a small desk on the right side of the room. Another door led to the closet and right outside of his room was the guest bathroom, complete with a large shower, a Jacuzzi, and double sinks.

"If you ever need anything, my room is right there." Derek pointed to the end of the hallway.

Stiles nodded. "Thanks."

They both stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do next.

"Well, I'm going to hop in the shower." Stiles spoke.

Derek nodded. "I'll see you in the morning. . . goodnight Stiles."

"Goodnight Derek."

Stiles watched as Derek walked off, though not to his bedroom, before Stiles went to the bathroom.

He looked at himself in the mirror, shaking his head. Removing his clothes, he gasped when he saw his injuries.

His arms and legs were covered in small cuts, where he got caught on limbs as he tore through bushes and trees. Shades of purple, green, and blue covered his torso, bruises shaped in whelps, most likely from his falls. He had a scrape across his cheek and could still feel the tightness in his shoulder from where the guards had thrown him down. There were a few injuries that stood out though, namely the five small bruises, right on his hip, from where Derek gripped him. His neck was absolutely destroyed, covered in red marks where Derek couldn't get enough of his scent.

Stiles' hair was disheveled and he was pretty sure there was even a leaf stuck in there.

Shaking his head, Stiles turned on the shower, stepping under the hot spray. The soap and shampoos were unscented, which Stiles found interesting but also was thankful for. Stiles hated smelling all artificial and he knew Alphas did too. Stiles wasn't surprised that Derek wanted him to smell like himself, or perhaps the both of them together.

Stiles took his time, relaxing under the warm spray, washing thoroughly. His face reddened when he washed over his hole, still ever so slightly sensitive. Stiles' mind went back to just a few hours ago, how full he was, how warm he was.

Stiles hummed, hand grazing over his member. Immediately he stopped, embarrassed. Derek was probably listening to him and Stiles refused to wack one out on their first night together.

He turned off the water quickly, wrapping himself in a fluffy black towel, patting himself down quickly. Suddenly he was in a hurry to get to the guest room.

Wrapping the towel around his waist, he stepped out of the bathroom, releasing the steam in a large cloud. He quickly went to the guest room, shutting the door and then cringing.

He didn't have any clothes. Hopeful, he opened a drawer, happy to find it fully stocked. He grabbed a large sweatshirt and sweatpants, surprised when they smelled new. He almost felt like Derek would give him his clothes to mark him. That was typical Alpha behavior.

Stiles snuggled up in the clothes, then headed back to the bathroom, trying to be quiet in case Derek was asleep. Opening up a drawer, he found a brand new toothbrush and toothpaste. Stiles smiled to himself, Derek really was prepared.

He brushed his teeth, then stuck the toothbrush in the little holder that was sitting on the counter. He looked in the mirror again. He looked a little better, cleaner at least. His hair was a wet floppy mess and his neck was still just as red, no matter which way he tilted it.

He ran his fingers over it, shivering at the touch, when he heard a growl from the doorway.

He snapped his eyes over to meet Derek's glowing ones.

"Did I hurt you?" Derek asked, eyes still glowing.

"No, I'm fine." Stiles said, making sure to suddenly pull his sleeves down, not wanting to reveal the bruises. Of course, the majority was not from Derek and the things that were Stiles didn't mind.

"You're lying."

Fuck werewolf hearing.

"I'm fine."

Derek took a step closer, standing right in front of Stiles. "Let me see."

Stiles sighed, knowing there was no way out of this.

Looking away, Stiles slowly raised his sweatshirt, revealing his hip, covered in fingertip sized bruises.

Derek growled low again, eyes flashing. He gently cupped Stiles' face, turning it, further exposing his neck and revealing the markings there.

Derek didn't look upset though he looked. . . satisfied.

"I told you it was fine." Stiles said quietly. "I don't mind."

Derek growled low, leaning closer. He ran his hand downwards, settling over the markings, pressing gently, making Stiles hiss.

Derek hummed, leaning even closer until his face rested in between Stiles' neck and shoulder. He stayed there for a moment, breathing in his scent, until he slowly placed his hands on Stiles' hips.

"Okay?" He asked quietly.

Stiles nodded frantically. This was okay.

Derek slowly nosed upwards, toward Stiles' hairline, scenting him there. Stiles nervously placed a hand on Derek's bicep, holding him there.

The one hand remained on Stiles' hip, the other moved up his abdomen slowly, until it rested on his neck, tilting it further. Stiles jumped slightly when he felt Derek's teeth ever so slightly graze his neck, then sighed when he felt his tongue follow the marks.

"Mhm," Derek said, satisfied. He stepped back slowly, only keeping the one hand on Stiles' hip.

"You didn't smell like me anymore."

"Sorry." Stiles said quietly.

"You will soon, I won't have to do that anymore."

"Oh." Stiles said.

"Goodnight, Stiles." With that, Derek was gone, retired to his bedroom.

Stiles went to the guest bedroom, turning off the light and flopping down on the bed. He glanced at the clock on the nightstand, seeing that it was just after 1:00am. He huffed, flopping over onto his side.

He felt a pang in his chest. Derek said he wouldn't do that anymore. Stiles' eye brimmed with tears. He was so fucking confused and his Omega hormones didn't help.

He said it was just political. That he just did it for Omega rights and Stiles was thankful, but. . . he wanted Derek to want him for him. He wanted to smell like Derek, not just to show others that he was claimed, but because he wanted to smell Derek on himself. He wanted to sleep in the same bed as Derek. He wanted. . . he wanted Derek.

Angrily, Stiles swiped at a tear, rolling over to the other side.

He was angry. Angry that he felt this way. Angry that Derek was respecting his wishes, or what he thought was his wishes. What used to be his wishes.

He should be thankful. Derek was giving him space, being respectful, being truthful, being so un-Alpha while still being an Alpha. He had boundaries and gave Stiles the truth and Stiles wanted more. Fuck. Why did he want more? He went from dreading this moment, to wanting more.

Maybe it was the bond. Maybe his hormones were still going crazy. He wasn't sure, but he couldn't deny the feeling of disappointment settling in his chest.

He wanted more.

Chapter Text

Stiles woke with a start. He looked around, forgetting where he was for a moment. The room was still dark and he felt the fluffy bed below him, pressing up into the palm of his hands as he ran his fingertips over the soft cover. The feeling of the bed alone helped him remember that he was sleeping in the guest bedroom of Alpha Derek Hale's penthouse.

He was no longer tired and knew he wouldn't be able to fall back asleep. He felt. . . well rested and relatively calm given the circumstances. He was a little surprised he was able to fall asleep in the first place. Truthfully, he had been exhausted, but he feared his mind would keep him up, as it so often did.

He didn't dream that night, another surprise. Usually after facing stressful events, he dreamed about them for weeks, but he had yet to close his eyes and feel fear. He wondered if the Alpha already had a hold of him somehow. There had been some conspiracy theorists out there that claimed that Alphas somehow had the ability to alter Beta's and Omega's feelings.

Glancing over at the nightstand to his right, he saw a small alarm clock displaying the time. It was early and he wondered if Derek was awake. Did he like to sleep in, or was he an early bird? Should he get up and make him breakfast? That is what a good Omega would do.

Then again, why would Stiles care about being a good Omega?

Stiles' mind flashed to his father and his stomach dropped. He missed his father so dearly. He longed to see him, to hug him, to speak to him. Omegas didn't get to see their family for several months once claimed, the system argued it was to help the Alpha and Omega bond, but Stiles would argue that the Omega's that got chosen, otherwise known as the popular, better off Omegas, were the ones whose parents had been preparing for this their whole life. Other Omegas were not so dependent on their family as the Stilinskis.

A wave of guilt coursed through Stiles' body. He had been ripped out of his father's arms and wouldn't get to see him again for several months, or, truthfully, if Derek Hale wished it, ever again. Stiles was now part of Derek's pack, no obligation or rule he got to see his family ever again.

But even if he could just talk to his father, to just assure him that he was alright, that he was safe for now. He knew his father must be worried sick. It was quite possible his father hadn't even slept since he got chosen, at least not without drowning himself with a bottle of Jack Daniels. Stiles just wanted to know that he was okay, that he would be okay.

Derek said that he wanted Stiles to trust him, but it wasn't that simple. Stiles couldn't just turn off how he had felt his entire life. He couldn't suddenly put everything behind him and believe without a doubt the Hale's were good, that Derek was good. Sure they had been mostly kind to him, but life was cruel and it wasn't the first time someone had smiled at his face while holding a knife to his back.

Derek couldn't just ask for his trust, he had to prove it, to earn it. And Stiles devised the perfect plan.

Of course, this plan would require Stiles pleasing his Alpha first. Derek had to like Stiles, to trust Stiles first, trust that Stiles was falling for it. Then, he could get what he wanted.

Breakfast it was.

Hopping out of bed, Stiles went to the closet. It was filled to the brim with more clothes than Stiles had owned his entire life. Grabbing a simple clean t-shirt and jeans he headed to the bathroom.

Changing, he glanced at the mirror once again. He was pleased to see he was healing nicely. The scrape on his face was now an ugly scab but was healing rather quickly, similar to his cuts. The markings on his neck and hips, however, were deep and hadn't seemed to really change.

Stiles ran his fingers through his hair, trying to calm the bedhead. He brushed his teeth quickly, eager to get breakfast started, assuming Derek hadn't already beat him to it.

Exiting the bathroom, Stiles headed towards the kitchen. He was looking down, rolling up his sleeves when he crashed into someone.

"Oomph!" Stiles bounced off of what seemed like a stone statue, almost falling, before two hands steadied him.

"Woah." Derek smiled.

Stiles looked up, mouth agape. Derek was still holding on to him, wearing a tight fitting shirt drenched in sweat. He was glistening, hair slightly damp and sticking to his forehead. His heartbeat was rapid and his breath slightly quickened. He must have just gotten done working out.

"Sorry." Stiles muttered out, embarrassed.

"No worries." Derek took a step back, seeing how Stiles seemed to be uncomfortable.

"Um. . . are you hungry?"

Derek gave a small smile. "Yeah, actually. You want to go get something to eat? I know a great place."

Stiles frowned. This wasn't a part of his plan. His plan was to woo Derek through his famous pancakes drenched in too much syrup. On the other hand, Derek was willing to take Stiles out when they hadn't even spent a full day together. Most Alphas wanted to keep their Omegas in for a while. While not part of the plan, it wasn't exactly a bad idea either.

"Yeah, that'd be cool." Stiles nodded, still feeling awkward. He wondered how much time he had to spend with Derek to no longer feel awkward.

"Alright. I'm going to take a shower, I'll be out in a few and we can head out."

Stiles nodded and watched Derek walk away. He sighed, rolling his eyes. At least maybe he could still get pancakes.

This was going to be difficult, Stiles realized, taking a seat. Alphas wanted to provide for their Omegas, and Omegas wanted to provide for their Alphas. Derek clearly wanted to make sure Stiles was doing okay, which was great, except it made it harder for Stiles to win Derek over through things like cooking and chores.

Now Stiles was afraid that the only way he could win Derek over was through sex. His eyes brimmed with tears, but he blinked them away quickly, before Derek could notice.

Stiles huffed, standing up. His ADD wouldn't let him sit for too long. Derek had given him a brief tour, but Stiles decided to explore the penthouse a little himself.

Soon he found a theater, much to his amazement, equipped with leather couches and an actual popcorn machine. Continuing, he found a small office, which made him wonder what Derek's role was in his pack, with the military, politics, and the general Alpha-ness that was Derek Hale.

Heading upstairs, he explored down a hallway, where he found a giant room surrounded by glass, with a grand piano sitting in the middle. He wondered if Derek could actually play, or if it was just for looks. He ran his finger over the smooth black top and imagined Derek playing. It was odd to think of an insanely strong Alpha doing something so calm and peaceful. His fingers alone seemed like the would instantly crush the keys upon playing a single note.

Next, he found the gym, which was where Derek must have been. The room still smelled like sweat and musk and Stiles went red faced realizing he didn't exactly mind it. He ran his fingers over the equipment, wondering what it all did. It almost looked a little scary, bars of metal and cables, along with weights of varying sizes, most of which Stiles probably would not be able to lift.

"Are you ready?" Derek asked, leaning against the door frame.

Stiles jumped two feet in the air, but wouldn't admit that he let out an embarrassing squeak.

"Sorry, I-"

"Stiles, you've got to stop apologizing. I didn't mean to spook you, but no reason to be on edge."

Stiles begged to differ, but his deal was to trust Derek, besides that was the whole point to his plan.

"Right, sorry, ah, fuck." Stiles shook his head and Derek chuckled.

Stiles followed Derek, who lead him downstairs and to the front door where he paused, shoulders tense. Stiles almost crashed into his back, that would be the second time this morning.

"What?" Stiles asked, questioning why Derek had not opened the door.

Derek didn't turn around. "I thought. . ."'

Then Stiles got it. Derek thought he could let Stiles out, but he couldn't. Derek's Alpha instincts were too strong, he wanted to keep him home, keep him hidden. They weren't going out anytime soon.

"It's fine, I can just make something-"

"No." Derek shook his head, turning around to meet Stiles' gaze. "No we're still going, you're not a prisoner. I just promised you that I wouldn't have to scent you again like that, but I would really like to, if that's okay."

Oh. Stiles wasn't expecting that, but he supposed it made sense. Derek truthfully hadn't fully scented Stiles, that usually required a lack of clothes.

"I'm sorry, it seems I'm already breaking promises." Derek swallowed, lowering his gaze.

"You can't deny your instincts." Stiles said, before he had time to really think. He had a habit of doing that, speaking before thinking.

Derek set his jaw into place. "I'll be brief."

Stiles nodded, stiff. He stood there, unsure of what to do. No Alphas really ever wanted to touch him willingly.

Derek slowly pulled his hand up to place it on Stiles' neck, closing his eyes and breathing deeply. He pressed down firmly, but gently, spreading his scent. Stiles held his breath, as Derek slowly snaked his hand towards the back of his head.

Stiles unconsciously leaned his head into the touch, tilting it and exposing his neck. Derek breathed in deeply once again, then quickly dropped his hand.

Stiles snapped out of it as Derek cleared his throat and nodded.

They both headed out the door and a car was waiting for them, the same sleek black one from before. Derek slid behind the driver's side as Stiles stared some more before climbing in.

They drove in silence for a few minutes, Stiles staring out of the window at the passing trees.

"What are you thinking?" Derek asked, breaking the silence.

Stiles shrugged.

Derek hummed in frustration. To be fair, it must have been frustrating always knowing how someone was feeling, but never what they were thinking. Derek could smell Stiles' emotions, even if Stiles wasn't even aware himself.

Stiles decided to bite the bullet. "I'm thinking about how we're leaving the house right now."

Derek nodded. "I don't believe in confining Omegas. You aren't my property, as I said last night you can do as you please."

Stiles swallowed. He wanted to test the boundaries here, but he was scared. Derek could be lying, he was most likely lying, but Stiles couldn't figure out his angle. If Derek wanted to fuck Stiles he would have done it already, if he wanted him to be a slave, he would have gone over the chores. It was confusing, but maybe that was part of the fun, making Stiles feel comfortable and then yanking the rug out from under him.

"I know you don't trust me." Derek swallowed. "It hasn't even been a full day, I wouldn't expect you to, but. . ."

"But you want me to trust you, I know. It just isn't that simple Derek." Stiles said quickly.

"I know."

"Do you?" Stiles snapped.

Derek didn't react, rather staying silent. "I do, not in the same ways perhaps."

Stiles sighed. He felt like he was constantly walking on eggshells and it was tiring, even after one night together. He wished things were simple and that he could trust Derek immediately, but that's not how the world worked. Derek needed to earn his trust.

"You said you were willing to earn my trust."

Derek nodded. "I did, I am."

Stiles thought about his plan. Was he willing to risk it?

"And I said in return I wanted honesty."

Derek nodded as Stiles took a deep breath.

"Stiles," Derek looked over at him. "You can ask me anything you want, I'll be honest, I won't break that promise to you."

Stiles' eyes swelled up with tears. "Are you ever going to let me see my dad?"

Derek's eyebrows furrowed and quickly they were on the side of the road. Derek unbuckled and quickly turned to Stiles.

"Stiles, of course you're going to see your father. I would never keep you away from him." Derek sounded sincere, which was even scarier for Stiles. It was scarier that Derek was so different than other Alphas. At least if he fit the mold Stiles knew what to expect, how to act, what to say, what his life would be like. With Derek, everything was up in the air.

A single tear rolled down Stiles' cheek as his lip quivered. "When?" His voice broke.

Derek reached forward, then retracted his hand, thinking twice.

"When what?" His voice was soft.

"When can I see him?"

Derek swallowed. Stiles held his breath. Now is where he should prepare. Prepare for Derek to say the worst, to prove that he was no different than the others. To forbid him. To make up an excuse.

"My mother wants to have dinner with the both of us first, for you to really get comfortable with the pack. We planned on having dinner in a few days, I suggested we invite him actually, if that's alright with you. I've already made the call."

Stiles froze. Derek had already made the call. He had talked to his father, he suggested Stiles seeing his father, fuck, Stiles' father meeting the pack!

Stiles lunged at Derek, attacking him in an embrace. He wrapped his hands around his torso, burying his head in Derek's neck and cried.

Derek wrapped an arm around Stiles and placed the other on his back, rubbing in gently. He seemed to purr and Stiles didn't even care.

"Thank you." It was all Stiles could manage.

Derek hummed, holding Stiles impossibly closer.

Stiles slowly pulled back, looking into Derek's eyes, which were soft.

"You're. . . different." It didn't sound like a nice compliment, but at the time Stiles couldn't come up with a different word for Derek.

Derek chuckled. "I take that as you're okay with the fact that I invited your father to dinner?"

"Fuck, yes." Stiles nodded quickly. "Thank you, thank you so much." Stiles grabbed Derek's hand, gripping it tightly, still up close.

Derek squeezed back reassuringly. "I won't break my promise to you, Stiles, I'm never going to keep you from your father."

Stiles took a deep breath and nodded. This was the first step. The first step towards Stiles trusting Derek. Not only was he letting him see his father, but he had also invited him to come and meet his fucking family, his pack, within a few days of him being claimed.

Stiles nodded, leaning back into his seat.

"Sorry for jumping you."

Derek smiled, driving the car back on the road. "Didn't bother me."

They drove the rest of the way in a comfortable silence, Stiles happier than he had been in a long time and Derek clearly feeling the same.

They arrived at a small run down diner and Stiles raised his eyebrows.

"This is where the almighty Derek Hale eats breakfast?"

"They've got the best chicken fried steak in town too." Derek unclicked his seat belt and got out, holding Stiles' side of the door open. They walked up to the front and Derek held the door for Stiles again, making Stiles smile slightly. He had never really been on a date before, certainly not a "real one" where I guy did stuff like hold the door open for him.

They took a seat in a booth in the back of the restaurant, which didn't surprise Stiles. Though Stiles was scented before they left, it was just barely enough to say that Stiles was his. Derek didn't want to attract any attention and Stiles didn't really mind.

"Heya sugar." A woman greeted Derek. "This must be the Stiles Stilinski." The waitress seemed to be in her forties or so and had voluminous blonde hair. She was wearing a pink top that matched her lipstick and eyeliner far too thick for her small eyes. Her tanned skin was covered in soft wrinkles and dotted with freckles across her nose.

Stiles smiled at her. "Just Stiles."

"Well, just Stiles, I am glad to see Derek come in here with someone other than that sister of his." She said with a snarky tone, as she gave Stiles a menu.

"I'm guessing Laura?"

The waitress widened her eyes. "Yeah, that one. I already know what you want to drink, what about you honey?" She looked at Stiles.

"Just water please." Stiles smiled softly.

"Sure I can't get you anything else?"

Stiles looked at Derek, then cursed himself for it. He didn't need permission and he knew this. Derek gave a small smile of encouragement.

"Um, can I have a coffee too please?"

"Of course. I'll bring that right out to you." With that, she took off and Stiles turned to Derek.

"You must come here a lot." Derek didn't even have a menu in front of him.

"I suck at cooking." He shrugged, scratching the back of his neck.

Stiles looked down at the menu and saw everything looked great, but he couldn't exactly get pancakes out of his mind. Derek had already blessed him beyond measure with the announcement of his father visiting soon, but for some reason Stiles still wanted to push it, just to see how far he could get.

The waitress, Susan according to her tag, brought two coffees and a water and asked if Stiles was ready to order.

"Can I get the full stack of double chocolate chip pancakes?"

"Of course, bacon with that okay?"

"Yes!"

"You got it, extra whip cream just for you." She winked as she wrote it down. She turned to Derek then, eyebrow cocked up.

"You not feeding this boy?"

Stiles laughed.

Derek shrugged. "Usual for me."

Susan nodded and headed off. Stiles grabbed his coffee, ripping off the tops of three sugar packets and throwing it in his coffee, while Derek drank his black.

"You remind me of Cora, she always gets the chocolate chip pancakes." Derek shook his head.

"Best kind of pancakes there are."

"Too sweet." Derek made a face.

"Derek if you're trying to tell me you don't have a sweet tooth this may not work out."

Derek laughed. "Of all things that could be our downfall, that would be that huh? Well, good news for you is that I do in fact have a sweet tooth, specifically for my mother's strawberry cake, I just can't do sweets for breakfast."

Stiles squinted. "I guess that's valid. What did you get then?"

Just as Stiles asked, Susan brought their plates, setting down Stiles' gigantic stack of pancakes first, whip cream almost toppling over. She then sat down four plates in front of Derek before refilling their coffee.

"Six eggs cooked over easy, four sausage links, two slices of toast, two hash browns, and a plate of bacon barely cooked." Susan said.

"Oh my god." Stiles made a face. "Alpha werewolf metabolism amazes me."

"Just wait until you learn about their stamina." Susan winked, then walked off. Stiles face went red.

Derek smiled as Stiles shook his head. They both dug in happily. Stiles moaned around his first bite of pancake, dousing the whole thing in sugary syrup.

Derek watched Stiles eat, amused. Stiles ate like he was starving and for some reason, Derek found it charming. He couldn't judge too much though, he was basically eating a plate of raw bacon, another thing Stiles never understood, Alphas obsession with raw meat.

A bit of syrup started to dribble down Stiles' lip towards his chin, but Stiles stuck out his tongue and licked it up, Derek following the movement, before he cleared his throat and looked away.

They both finished and Susan came up to them rather quickly, in a hurry for some reason.

"Sorry to rush y'all, but there are some reporters outside." She looked upset and Derek growled.

"Damn. Sorry, Susan, I didn't mean to-"

"Oh you hush now, I'm surprised the vultures stayed away for as long as they did. Seems like you can't even take a shit in peace these days."

"That's what I said!" Stiles exclaimed too loudly, earning him some looks.

Derek laughed and got up, handing Susan a $100 and grabbing Stiles' hand quickly.

Stiles didn't even have time to gawk at the huge tip Derek gave her before he was pushed towards the door. Derek stopped right in front of it.

"Keep your head low, just ignore them. I've got you."

Stiles nodded, ignoring the way his heart swelled, and Derek shoved the door open. Immediately reporters were shouting and cameras were snapping pictures.

"Mr. Stilinski! Alpha Hale! Over here!"

Stiles kept his head down and Derek wrapped his arms around him protectively, shoving past the reporters with a growl on his lips.

Finally, they made it to the car and Derek opened up the passenger door, Stiles practically jumped in. As soon as the door was closed, Derek turned to the reporters and they all instantly grew quiet, cameras lowering. Stiles couldn't hear what he was saying, but judging from their posture, it wasn't pretty.

Stiles was captivated by the way that the instantly obeyed him without hesitation. After a few more moments, Derek climbed in the car, eyes blazing a fiery scarlet red.

He instantly drove off, tires squealing against the pavement. The leather steering wheel squeaked under his tight grip.

Derek shook his head. "Fucking vultures." His eyes were still red, but he took a breath and they slowly faded.

"What did you say to them?" Stiles asked.

This surprised Derek. "Nothing."

"How did you get them to back off?" Stiles crossed his arms.

Derek shrugged. "I just. . . so I might have growled at them a little."

"Derek. . ." Stiles drew out, sounding like a mother scolding her child. "Did you use the I-will-kill-you growl?"

Derek shrunk down slightly.

"Derek you can't do that whenever you feel like it. It scares people."

"I don't do it all the time! Just. . . well just when people are doing things to hurt you."

"They weren't hurting me." Stiles raised a brow.

"Yeah, but they could have." Derek growled quietly.

Stiles laughed and rolled his eyes. "Well, I certainly didn't expect to become a celebrity overnight."

Derek snorted. "You have been on the cover of every magazine across the entire globe."

Stiles moaned. "Great. Also, can we talk about the plate of raw bacon?"

"That is what you want to talk about?" Derek turned to Stiles.

"Yes. Derek that is so gross. It was raw!"

"Not entirely."

"Derek."

"It's better that way." Derek shrugged.

Stiles pretended to gag.

"Just wait until you wake up in the morning to find me eating it right of the package." He smirked.

Stiles pictured that. Derek shirtless in sweatpants, standing in front of the fridge. His messy black hair and sleep eyes, dangling a piece of raw bacon in front of his mouth and licking his lips. It was disgusting, yet it wasn't. Yet it was an image Stiles hoped to see.

Soon they arrived back at the penthouse and Stiles waddled inside, holding his stomach.

"I'm going to burst." He said as Derek hung up his keys.

"Better not, Laura loves this rug."

Stiles laughed. "You're really close to your family aren't you?"

Derek rolled his eyes as they both took a seat on the couch. "Some would argue too close. I am some."

Stiles laughed and looked at Derek. Really looked at him. He didn't see any malice in his eyes. His mother always said eyes were the gateway to someone's soul. All Stiles saw was beauty and kindness, even if Derek did try to hide it behind a tough demeanor.

"So wait, you like actually talked to my dad?" Stiles asked.

Derek nodded.

"Geez, how did that go? Did he do the sheriff thing?"

Derek smiled. "He did mention the sheriff thing a few times. But it went well."

Stiles shook his head. "You got to walk me through it man. Words, like we talked about."

Derek nodded, scooting slightly closer. "I know how much you love your father, how much he means to you. And you know, fuck rules, so I just decided to call him up and see if he wanted to come for dinner. I knew he would want to see you and I hoped it would make the transition easier. Family is the most important thing to me, plus I want my pack to meet him, along with myself."

Stiles remained silent, not sure what to think. He was afraid he was going to lunge on Derek again.

"You want your pack to meet him?"

"Well yeah, if he's going to be pack."

"Fuck." Stiles instantly stood up, turning around.

"What?" Derek jumped up quickly, concerned.

"You!" Stiles turned around, tears filling his eyes again.

"Did I do something wrong?" He asked, confused.

"No Derek, that's the fucking problem!"

Derek furrowed his eyebrows. "Help me out here."

Stiles bit his lip, turning again. Derek reached out and grabbed his arm and Stiles didn't recoil.

"Hey, talk to me. Words, like we talked about." He smiled softly.

"This is really fucking hard."

"I'm sorry." Derek's face screwed up and he retracted his hand.

"No, no, Derek. You are perfect and it's so fucking hard because you shouldn't be, you know? No, fuck you should be, this, this is how it should be, but it's not and it's so unexpected I don't know how to act with you. Because you're supposed to be controlling and scary and you're not and I don't know how to please you even though it's like I don't want to please you but I fucking do. And fuck you just invited my father into your pack, the fucking HALE pack without even meeting him just because he is my father and-"

"Hey, hey, hey." Derek stepped closer, sensing Stiles was on the verge of a panic attack. Taking a risk, Derek wrapped Stiles into a hug and Stiles instantly melted into it.

"You're making him pack." Stiles whimpered into Derek's chest, who kissed the top of his head in response.

"Stiles you're my pack. My family. He's your family, so now he's my family, my pack."

Stiles cried then. He let everything all out. All of the anxiety, the fear, the nervousness, the pain, the worries. He cried in the arms of an Alpha werewolf who had treated him with more respect and kindness than anyone apart from his family had.

And it was then, in Derek's arms, that Stiles realized that he didn't quite hate the wolf as much as he expected to.

"Breathe." Derek ran a hand through Stiles' hair comforting him. Slowly, as to allow for Stiles to protest, Derek wrapped an arm under his bottom and picked him up, carrying him. He placed him onto a bed and climbed next to him, though he scooted back a lot and didn't cling for any longer than necessary. Even so, Stiles inched a little closer so that he could feel the warmth radiating off of Derek's body.

They laid like that for several minutes, Stiles tucked beside Derek, Derek tracing small circles on Stiles' back as tears slowly began to stop falling.

Then the laid for a little longer, until Stiles was so comfortable beside the Alpha that he fell into a deep sleep.

***

If this were a perfect world, Derek would have been a Beta. Stiles would have caught his eye in an old book store. Derek would have been sitting down at a table and smile that earth-shattering smile. Stiles would pretend he didn't notice, tracing his fingers over the spines of books that filled the oak wood shelves. Stiles would do a terrible job at flirting and Derek would just laugh, turning his head to the side, curious, while Stiles would wonder where such a man had been his whole life.

But this was not a perfect world. This was a world full of pain with very little pleasure. A world where Stiles hated who he was and hated who he was supposed to be. A world where Alphas decided everything, often resulting in even more pain.

But waking up next to Derek, Stiles had never felt more at peace.

He kept his eyes closed, relishing in the feeling, not letting fear creep its way up his back like a creature from the night, because he had given up. This was no longer just his body craving an Alpha, this was Stiles. This was not werewolf genes, this was a young man slowing falling in love with the idea of being with someone else for the first time in his life.

While he knew the pain would be severe if this were to go wrong, he remembered something his mother used to tell him, that the ending can be full of pain, but the beginning can be so beautiful that it's okay. He remembered her repeating this phrase on her death bed and refused to believe it once she passed. The end was too painful, he was convinced. But perhaps there was some truth in her words.

Derek breathed in deep, still sleeping and subconsciously pulling Stiles close.

Stiles cracked his eyes open, slowly turning his head as to not disturb Derek. He looked up at Derek, whose eyes were tightly closed. His eyebrows were furrowed, like he was deep in thought as he slept. His arm was still wrapped around Stiles and his hair was tousled in a painfully adorable way.

He was warm. Stiles decided that was a good way to describe Derek. Warm. Physically, yes, his temperature ran about 105° Fahrenheit, but it was more than that. He was kind and gentle and more than what Stiles ever thought was possible.

"Hey." Derek spoke, eyes still closed. His voice was low and raspy with sleep and Stiles found it endearing.

"Hi." Stiles spoke softly.

Derek slowly cracked his eyes open and glanced down at Stiles, who met his gaze without fear.

"Did you sleep well?" Derek asked, rubbing Stiles' back so softly he could barely feel it. His fingers were so warm they almost burned.

"Yes." Stiles responded. And he had in fact, better than he had in a while.

"Good." Derek smiled.

"Thank you." Stiles said.

"For what?"

"I don't know. Everything." Stiles shrugged.

Derek frowned. "Stiles. . . I've done nothing different than what every Alpha should be doing."

Stiles nodded. "But you are, and that's what makes the difference."

Derek looked away, still rubbing small circles, deep in thought. It was true that this is how it should be, comfortable, but that wasn't how the world worked, they both knew better than that.

"You know, I had a plan today." Stiles broke the silence.

"A plan that didn't include napping after breakfast?" Derek chuckled.

Stiles smiled. "No I mean I was going to woo you with my pancakes." He rolled over onto his side, propping himself up on his elbow, facing Derek.

Derek turned closer to Stiles, propping himself up on an elbow as well and raised a brow.

"Woo me?"

"Yeah." Stiles shrugged. "I figured if I could woo you with my pancakes and I don't know like clean something that maybe I could call my dad in a couple weeks or something." Stiles chuckled. He thought it was funny now, that pancakes would somehow change everything, but a hint of nervousness still clung to his voice.

"Stiles. . ." Derek sounded sad.

"I know, I know-"

"You can make me pancakes any time."

Stiles turned to Derek and laughed. He wasn't expecting that, but he was glad to hear it. He liked it when Derek made jokes. They had had too much heavy for too long already.

Derek sat up in bed and Stiles followed suit. Derek dug into his pocket and grabbed his phone. He typed something in, then handed it to Stiles.

"Meet me downstairs when you're done."

He exited the room and Stiles furrowed his brow. He looked down at the phone and his eyes widened. Derek had pulled up his father's contact and the "John Stilinski" seemed to burn bright.

Hands shaking, he clicked the call button, then held it up to his ear. He actually thought it wouldn't even ring, that it was a joke and that he would hear a laugh track. Or that this wasn't actually Derek's phone, or perhaps someone would answer, but it wouldn't be his father, only someone in on the joke.

Instead, it wrung only once before his father answered.

"Alpha Hale, nice to hear from you again-"

"Dad." Stiles cut him off.

"Stiles?" John paused, presumably in shock. "Are you okay? Are you hurt? What's going on-"

"Dad, dad, I'm fine, I'm fine." Stiles cut him off, voice shaking with mixed emotion, throat thick with the ever looming threat of tears escaping.

"You-you're calling me."

"Yeah, Derek gave me his phone."

"Derek." John repeated.

"Yeah dad, that's his name." Stiles laughed, but he couldn't say he wasn't just as shocked that the Alpha had allowed this.

"No, I know, I just. . . wasn't expecting you to be on a first name basis like that, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised."

"Yeah," Stiles smiled to himself. "Yeah he's certainly different than I expected, but dad, how are you? Are you okay?"

John chuckled. "I'm fine son."

"Have you been eating your vegetables? And cutting down on the red meat? I told you how that stuff is-"

"Stiles. I'm fine, I promise. Alpha Derek Hale called me not too long ago, invited me for dinner and assured me for about thirty minutes that you were doing fine. I asked to speak with you but I guess you were sleeping, he didn't want to wake you."

Stiles's eyes burned once again. "Yeah, he told me today you're coming for dinner and going to meet the pack."

John remained quiet. "Stiles. . . I know how you feel about Alphas son, but. . . you've got a really good one. A good man Stiles. Never thought I would say that but. . ."

"Yeah dad, I know." Stiles practically whispered.

He could picture his father nodding his head as he paced around the house, wood floors creaking underneath his worn-in boots. He would run a hand through his short sandy blonde hair that was slowly starting to turn more salt and pepper than it was colored.

"Just. . . just be safe Stiles, okay?"

"I will dad, you too."

His father snorted. "I always am Stiles."

"Yeah right." Stiles rolled his eyes. "How's Scott? Melissa?"

"Their both fine. Scott's raveling in the attention, he tells everyone he knows that Stiles Stilinski is his best friend."

Stiles laughed. Of course he was. Scott always dreamed of being the popular kid. Who knew it would go like this though. Maybe now he would have a shot of being captain of the lacrosse team. He deserved it.

"Melissa's doing good too. She's been worried sick about you. Can't say I've been any different."

"I'm fine dad, promise. Make sure you tell her that too." He wondered how much they had been speaking to each other. No doubt his father was taking it hard and Melissa was trying her best to comfort him. He always saw Melissa as a second mom and would be lying if he said he didn't see the way his father had looked at her on more than one occasion. Even so, his father would never make the first move, too scarred and cloaked in the fear that anything good in his life would turn its back on him somehow. Not to mention the fact that Stiles was positive his father felt wrong for ever even thinking about another woman that wasn't Claudia.

"And you're eating? Sleeping?"

"Dad, I. Am. Fine. I literally had chocolate chip pancakes like an hour ago."

"Jesus Stiles, you know what that much sugar does to you."

"Yeah, but I slept it off." Stiles shrugged and smiled, even though his father couldn't see him.

John sighed. "Hang in their kid. We'll. . . we'll figure something out, I just need more time to-"

"Dad, no!" Stiles shocked himself by how exasperated he sounded. His father planned on busting him out.

"I mean. . . dad things are. . . I'm fine and Derek is. . . fuck I just I'm okay, okay?"

"Stiles. . ." He remembered a few weeks ago they were having dinner, burgers from the old joint down the road, the one that probably should be shut down based on health codes, but they didn't talk about it. They were joking around, watching the commercials for the Mating Run on TV. They shook their heads at the bad editing, the intense fake conversations, and the heavily photoshopped Alpha wolves. His father and he spiraled into a conversation of what their escape plan would be if either of them had ever gotten chosen, full of burner phones, trackers, black hoodies and small pocket knives. How they had laughed, and laughed.

"Dad, it's like you said, Derek is. . . good. And yeah, this isn't what I wanted to happen but it has and now. . ."

"You can't seriously tell me you like this guy."

"Dad." Stiles didn't really know. He didn't dislike him, and he thought that if things were different that Stiles would certainty be throwing himself at Derek. The only thing he knew now was that he didn't hate Derek and that he was. . . well, he was trying and that was what mattered most to Stiles.

"Stiles he. . . he's everything you hate."

Stiles' face grew red. "Dad, he-"

"Stiles he's an Alpha, an Alpha who took you away from your home, from me, from your life. Who is going to parade you around and-"

"Dad! Look, it's different okay?" Stiles wished he could explain everything to his dad, but he knew Derek was probably listening, even if it wasn't on purpose. Besides, what Derek had told him was supposed to be confidential, even he wasn't supposed to hear it, so he was sure he wasn't supposed to pass it along.

"How can it be different? Stiles these people-"

"Dad." Stiles sounded angry. "I know it's crazy, okay? I get it. And trust me, I'm still scared but. . . just come and meet the Hale's, meet Derek, see me again okay? Please? You have to trust me." He couldn't mess this up, couldn't live with the fact that he could have seen his dad but somehow screwed it up. Couldn't reveal too much, but couldn't make his father go crazy either.

His father remained silent for a while, deep in thought.

"Dad?" Stiles was almost afraid he had hung up.

"Okay, alright fine. I'll be there."

"And behave."

John snorted. "I'll try my best."

"For me?"

"I'll try my best." His father repeated gruffly.

Stiles snorted. He figured that was the best he was going to get out of him. The old man was stubborn.

"I love you, dad." And he said it earnestly. Like he might never see him again. Like he had never conveyed how much he truly appreciated and loved his father. He tried to put all the emotion, all the memories, all the pain, all the laughs, and all the love into four simple words, knowing it would never be enough.

"I love you, Stiles. Be safe." His voice cracked like the old leather recliner he sat in most hours of his days off.

"You too. . . bye, dad."

"Bye son." They both stayed on the line for a few seconds longer, holding on to each other, before Stiles finally hung up, afraid that if he didn't press the red hang-up button now, he might not be able to.

Surprisingly, he felt better. He got to hear his dad's voice again, to know he was okay, and he got to be assured that he would see him again. It was a little concerning that his dad sounded like he wanted to raise hell when he met the Hale's, but Stiles supposed he couldn't blame him. Any father would be protective of their child being with someone else, and given the extreme circumstances, Stiles couldn't say he would react any differently.

Stiles got up and headed downstairs to meet Derek, who was sitting down on the couch. Stiles handed him the phone and Derek smiled back.

"How did it go?" Derek asked.

Stiles snorted and sat down next to him.

"Like you weren't listening." Derek's neck turned red.

"I-"

"Relax, I'm only teasing. It went well actually." He couldn't blame Derek for listening in, he might do the same if he were in his shoes.

"Good." Derek nodded. "I'm really looking forward to meeting him."

Stiles made a face. "Wish he felt the same."

Derek laughed. "Most parents aren't excited to meet their. . . " Derek trailed off, unsure of what to call each other, "besides, I took you away from him and you both aren't partial to Alphas."

"I suppose that's fair. How does your mother feel?"

Derek smiled. "She is excited to see you again and to see your father. They haven't spoken in so many years."

"Yeah, I suppose that's true." Stiles swallowed. He wondered if his father questioned anything, or if he just assumed it was pure coincidence that his wife's former best friend's son happened to choose Stiles. Like a damn soap opera. He hoped there would not be blood.

Derek placed a hand on Stiles' shoulder, sensing his anxiety. "It will be fine, I promise. Besides, if anyone is going to have a dramatic outburst, it will be Cora."

"Why's that?"

Derek rolled his eyes. "Because that's Cora."

Stiles laughed and Derek joined him.

"So, what do you want to do today?"

"Um, I don't know, I kind of thought I would have my chore list by now so that I would be busy."

Derek snorted. "Well, that plan is busted, as is your wooing me with pancakes plan, sorry to disappoint."

"Yes, clearly I am distraught, I so desperately wanted to be Cinderella."

They both smiled. And it was comfortable. Stiles was comfortable. They were able to smile and joke and look forward to things together. Stiles no longer felt like he had chains around his ankles. And while he still feared the future, he didn't fear the present, and that felt like progress.

***

They ended up literally just spending the day lounging. They watched movies and ate junk food and laughed at the terrible movies Stiles chose to watch. Stiles argued that the worse the movie, the more fun it was to watch with people. On more than one occasion, Stiles giggled at the facial expressions caused by Derek's big eyebrows and on several occasions, Stiles found himself slowly inching towards Derek. They ordered pizza, grabbed more blankets, had a couple beers, stretched as they walked to the kitchen for more drunk food and more beers, and crashed upstairs.

Derek giggled on his way up, watching Stiles trip on the stairs. He wasn't even drunk, just extremely clumsy.

By this time it was around 8:00 and Stiles threw himself on the bed spread eagle, unsure of why he seemed so tired after doing absolutely nothing all day. Even so, he knew he wouldn't be able to fall asleep.

Derek just stood at the door frame, watching Stiles, who rolled over to look at him questioningly.

"What?"

"Nothing." Derek shook his head.

Stiles nodded. "Okay well you can come in you know." Derek's toe literally hadn't even crossed the line into the room, still technically in the hallway.

Derek swallowed. "You hungry?"

"Derek we just had pizza. . . but yeah of course, what are you thinking?" Stiles smirked.

Derek barely smiled, but quickly dropped it. He almost looked nervous, breaking his gaze with Stiles before quickly looking back at him, then repeating the process. He shifted his weight and scratched the back of his hand.

"Do you want to grab some ice cream?" Derek asked.

Stiles squinted. "Sure. . . what's the catch?"

Derek heaved a big sigh, stepping only one foot in the door. "My sister is a bitch."

Stiles raised an eyebrow. "Derek? Words?"

"Right. . . my sister wants to see you again, she won't stop texting me so I agreed that we would meet for ice cream and apparently I've pushed it off as long as I possibly could because she just informed me they close at 10:00 and she refuses to eat anything past 9:30 because of this new diet she's on."

Stiles laughed. "Okay, but what's the rush? Thought we were all having dinner in a few days."

"My sister's a bitch."

Stiles laughed again, but heaved himself off of the bed, heading to the door, when Derek didn't move. Stiles almost crashed into him, wouldn't be the first time, but caught himself.

"Um. . ."

Derek was glaring at the ground as though it had just kicked a kitten.

"You alright there big guy?" He thought about tapping him on the shoulder or maybe poking him in the bicep to make sure he was still alive.

Derek only glared harder.

"You know we can just say no right?"

"My sister's a bitch." Derek spat out.

"Okay." Stiles crossed his arms. "What is going on? Should I be looking forward to mint chocolate chip or not?"

Derek sighed. "I'm sorry, this isn't fair to you." He ran a hand through his hair, still nervous. "My sister wants to see you again, she really likes you. I told her to fuck off and let's just say she has her own means of persuasion. Apparently, she wants to talk about some things before we meet all together as a pack and it had to be tonight because my mother is at some meeting and can't find out about this."

"Your mother can't find out about us getting ice cream?"

"No."

"Derek, your life is a soap opera. Grab your jacket." Stiles rolled his eyes, passing Derek. He was almost out the bedroom door when he felt a tight grip on his wrist, but as soon as it was there, squeezing, it instantly stopped.

"I'm sorry." Derek back up several feet from Stiles. He looked shocked with himself and humiliated.

"It's okay." Stiles said, but he almost felt like he was lying. He was okay, he knew he was okay, but the years of being tormented by other Alphas didn't suddenly go away. The memories, the feelings, crept up on him like a snake slithering its way up his back, leaving a cold trail of fear.

"No. I'll call Laura." He stepped out of the room quickly, passing Stiles and flying down the stairs.

"Derek!" Stiles called, trying to catch up to him.

He practically chased him down the hallway, before finally catching Derek as he was going into his office to make the call.

"Would you just listen for a second?" Derek froze.

"Shit." Stiles heaved, out of breath. Derek refused to face him.

"Don't call your sister, we're going for some damn ice cream and you're going to like it. Now grab that sexy leather jacket of yours and let's get in that nice ass car so we can go because I'm not going to sleep until I get some mint chocolate chip dammit."

Derek turned around, still not looking pleased.

"What is up with you?" Stiles crossed his arms. "You've been weird."

"I don't want to go tonight."

"Okay. . . we don't have to, I was just joking about the mint-" Stiles then felt bad.

"No, I. . . I don't want to go with Laura." He shook his head. "Look, I'm sorry I grabbed you like that, I shouldn't have, ever, this is just. . . this is embarrassing for me okay?"

"What is embarrassing?" Stiles' face reddened. "What you're embarrassed to go out with me?" Stiles thought things would be a little different given that they had gotten breakfast earlier today.

"No! No, God, no, I. . . Laura is a bitch!"

"Would you fucking use your words?" Stiles yelled. "That was the deal, speak with English words, no secrets, honesty and honestly I have no idea what the fuck is going on and haven't for at least half an hour. Are we going for ice cream or are we not? Jesus Christ."

The room remained still and the fear crept back up, making him think maybe a slap was coming, but once again, Derek Hale shocked him, by laughing. A big belly shaking laugh.

Soon enough, Stiles joined him, and soon his sides were hurting, and his eyes were brimming with tears.

"I'm sorry." Derek shook his head. "Fuck." He wiped a hand down his face. "Yes, words. English. Feelings. Got it. Look, I'm embarrassed okay?"

"Okay, but why?"

Derek licked his lips. "Because I get. . . look I'm trying to paint myself as this perfect Alpha who will never hurt you but like. . . I am an Alpha, Stiles, that's something I can't biologically change, and I am embarrassed because as an Alpha who just claimed an Omega, I have this urge to keep you tucked under my arm at all times, forever protected, especially from other Alphas, which makes this hard and also weird because Laura is my fucking sister, she isn't going to take you away and shit, but like my Alpha instincts don't give a fuck about inconsequential details like that."

Stiles paused to think. "So your Alpha dick is telling you that Laura is going to steal me away to fuck me."

Derek's jaw clenched.

"Derek, you're an idiot and also kind of an asshole."

Derek crossed his arms defensively. "This is why I said I was embarrassed, Stiles."

Stiles smiled softly. What he had said still was true, but he couldn't help feeling sympathetic for the wolf. Just as Stiles' knees got weak catching the scent of an Alpha, Derek had issues letting another Alpha close to Stiles, blood or not.

"Get in the car." Stiles walked towards the door, grabbing Derek's jacket and slipping it on his own shoulders, while the chill of the night pinched at his cheeks. He waited for Derek to follow and unlock the car before sliding in. Derek didn't join him for a second and Stiles half thought about rolling down his window.

"Derek!" Stiles yelled, even though he knew he had no reason to yell.

Derek finally got in, looking angry. It was then Stiles felt bad.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you-"

"You didn't."

"Then why are your eyes so red?" Stiles asked.

Derek blinked a few times, not even noticing that his eyes had slipped into a menacing scarlet glare. It was a little quirk Derek had, like sometimes he forgot he was an Alpha. Stiles never forgot, yet he found it almost endearing.

"I'm not mad at you Stiles, I don't think I ever could be."

"Even after I keep yelling about my mint chocolate chip ice cream?"

"Even then." Derek started the car, never looking at Stiles.

"I'm angry that I am the way I am. I am angry that my sister knows this and still refuses to listen to me. I am angry that she likes to push me, test me, thinking it makes me better. I am angry that she is putting you at risk just for shits and giggles. And I am angry that you prefer mint chocolate chip to rocky road."

Stiles let out the biggest gasp he ever had. "Derek! Mint chocolate chip is THE ice cream. No other ice cream compares!"

"False."

"Whatever, you haven't tried it homemade, my mom made awesome ice cream."

Derek smiled. "I'm sorry I got so. . ."

"Snappy?"

"Yeah, that works."

"You're allowed to have feelings, Derek. You can be angry. I know I seem like a tiny little damsel but I promise I can handle my shit.

"I know you can, I've never questioned that." Derek said seriously.

"Good." Stiles stuck his nose up in the air. "Just as long as you don't turn out to be a shitty person. And yeah your sister is an asshole, but she is also really sweet and she really helped me when preparing for all this, in a weird way. She gave pretty good advice in retrospect."

"And what was that?"

"Find you."

Derek smiled and his hand twitched, moving slightly like he was going to reach for Stiles, before thinking better of it.

"So should I be worried about tonight?" Stiles asked.

"Honestly? I don't even know. I never know what to expect with Laura, or Cora. God, at least there is a little bit of guessing with Laura." Derek grimaced.

Stiles laughed. He loved the way he talked about his family, because it was real, raw. It made the famous Hale pack seem a little less far-fetched.

"But you're already helping."

"How's that?"

Derek's eyes turned red once again and he gripped the steering wheel harder, shifting. His lips twitched in a smirk.

"You're wearing my jacket."

"Fucking Alphas." Stiles shook his head, amused, but he also knew that Derek could most likely tell that his so called annoyance was a lie. He put the jacket on not just because he was cold, but because he liked the scent of Derek and because he knew what it would do to Derek. The jacket swallowed him whole, Stiles' body to lithe to fill it out, but it was warm and comforting and full of Derek. And I guess Stiles was kind of a fucking tease.

"You're kind of possessive aren't you?" Stiles boldly asked, all Alphas were really.

"It's an Alpha thing." Derek shrugged nonchalantly, though his grip remained tight on the wheel.

Stiles hummed, sarcastically pretending that he fell for what Derek just said. It may be true that Alphas were possessive of their family, pack, and Omegas, but it was also just Derek. He could see it in the way he guarded Stiles, in the way he treated his family, his military background, all of it. It's one of the things that made Derek, Derek.

"Does that bother you?" Derek asked lowly.

"No." The atmosphere in the car turned thick, but both men didn't push it. Truthfully, it didn't bother Stiles that Derek was possessive, not Derek's version of possessive anyways, because Derek didn't want to control Stiles, didn't want to own him. He wanted to protect him from things that went bump in the night, from people that could hurt him, wanted to make him feel safe, and that? Yeah, that was okay with Stiles.

They pulled into the ice cream place a few moments later. The opening of the car door released some of the air inside, freeing up the tension as they both stepped out. Instantly, Derek got closer to Stiles, protective and caring. Stiles smirked to himself, slightly in awe.

Derek opened the door for him, little bells jingling as they entered the empty ice cream spot and a man glanced up from behind the counter, giving them a nod.

"For fucks sake, finally you're here! I felt like I was in high school again, getting stood up by Chad McLair after the Friday night football game." Laura exclaimed.

"As if I'd ever stand you up."

"As if I'd let you." Laura pinched Derek, but wrapped him in a hug quickly, scenting him ever so slightly.

"I've missed you Der-Bear."

Stiles snorted and they both turned their attention to him, Derek looking sheepish. Stiles noticed how different Derek was with his family. Derek was constantly stern, never showing emotion and always serious, except when he was with his family and more recently, when he was with Stiles.

"And I've missed you Stiles." Her face softened and she wrapped him up in a big hug without warning, making Stiles squeak, but her embrace and intention was soft. This was the Laura that Stiles remembered. Even so, Derek let out a growl and the hug was cut off short.

Laura ignored Derek's response, but respected him by taking a step back. "How have you two been? By the smell of things not-"

"Laura, not tonight." Derek snapped. Laura looked shocked, but nodded her head.

"Alright, what's everyone having then? I'm buying." Laura said.

Derek growled, stepping up to the register to order, leaving the two of them alone. Stiles guessed that it was indeed true that Alpha's liked to provide for their own.

Laura rolled her eyes. "Fucking Alphas am I right?" She asked Stiles, who snorted.

They both took a seat in a booth across from each other, waiting for Derek. Stiles looked around, noticing how the ice cream shop was set up like one in the fifties, lots of red, white, and black. It reminded him of a place he and mom used to go to.

"Men, they always think with their dicks." She shook her head, crossing her arms and leaning back.

"If you two are in a quarrel why did you make him come tonight?" The last thing Stiles wanted was to be caught in some weird sibling rivalry, especially between two Alphas, one of which he had to live with.

"We're not in a quarrel, my brother is just. . ."

"Possessive?"

"I was going to say jealous but that works better. No, protective, that works best. He always has been very protective of everything in his life. I knew he was going to be like this tonight."

"Then why did you arrange this?"

Laura sighed. "Because I needed to speak to you both before the pack meeting with your father. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to meet your father, there are just some things we need to discuss. Besides, I figured that you two hadn't fucked yet, so this was the perfect opportunity to speak with you both."

If Stiles had been drinking water he would have spat it out. Even so, he choked on his spit. "I'm sorry?" What had that had to do with anything

"He's guarding you enough as is and well I knew Derek would want to wait until-"

"Laura!" Derek growled, eyes flashing red. Stiles almost wanted to laugh at the scene, Derek holding three bowls of ice cream while ready to kill. Innocence mixed with malice.

He practically threw Laura's ice cream at her, before sitting down next to Stiles. The booths were much too small for them both, but Derek didn't seem to care, thigh pressed up against Stiles', comforting himself by the touch of his Omega.

"I'm just sayin-"

"Then stop saying. I didn't want to come tonight and you knew that so just get on with it." Derek snapped. Truthfully, Derek had the right to be upset. No one would normally ever ask an Alpha out of the house a mere couple of days after a claiming, yet here they were. It was easy to tell Derek was not one to disappoint his family.

Stiles expected a sassy retort, but instead was surprised to see Laura's eyes filling with tears. She tried to blink them away, looking at something to her right. Derek instantly melted.

"Shit, Laura, I'm-"

"Shut up." She dug her spoon into what appeared to be cookies and cream ice cream, shoving a giant spoonful in her mouth. Before he had even spoken, she began to speak.

"I know you didn't want to come okay? I wouldn't have either so can you just trust me that this is important?" She swallowed her ice cream and Derek nodded, still feeling like shit.

"Look, I've got a bad feeling something is going to go down and it very well could be Peter trying to stir some shit up this Friday."

"Why?" Derek snapped, already angry at the mere thought.

"I overheard mother and him having a heated conversation, it involved John and Stiles' names, though I couldn't exactly make it out, you know there is no sneaking up on Peter. I don't know, I've just got this bad feeling. . . besides, I may not be there."

"What? What do you mean you won't be there?"

Laura smiled softly, though her eyes filled back up with tears.

"Mother informed me this morning that I am to head to the sector of William Adelson, my soon to be betrothed."

"Why so soon?" Derek asked quickly.

She shrugged. "Something has changed, they want to rush things along."

Stiles knew exactly what had changed and he felt horrible. They wanted to rush it because they knew how popular Derek Hale was right now, as if he wasn't before. This made the Hale's powerful, and therefore that sector more powerful.

"I'm sorry." Stiles spoke truthfully.

Laura waved her hand, dismissive. "I've accepted my fate long ago. Perhaps something good will come of it, like you two. . . anyways I'm going to try to push it off for half a day or so, so I can meet John."

"Thank you, I really appreciate that, I know that he would love to meet you."

Laura smiled, wiping her cheeks. "Enough of this, eat your ice cream." She demanded.

They all took a bite, Derek swirling it around in his mouth slowly, deep in thought.

"Don't do that baby bro." Laura spoke softly.

Stiles glanced at Derek but couldn't tell what she was referring to. Clearly sibling bond was a real thing. Or perhaps it was an Alpha thing.

"You know that this isn't fai-" Derek started.

"Life isn't fair Derek. Can we please just-"

"If mother would just take two seconds to think about anyone but herself she would see that-"

"Derek, please, this is not how I wanted to spend tonight." Derek got quiet, knowing what she meant. She didn't want to spend possibly her last night with her brother fighting.

Boldly, Stiles placed a hand on Derek's knee, trying to comfort him.

"Okay." Derek nodded.

"Good, now we can talk about how Stiles looks ridiculous in your jacket. Like a small child."

Derek threw a sweet and low at her. "He looks nice."

"No it's fine, I do look like a child." Stiles shrugged.

Laura laughed, looking between the two of them. "You two really do make the oddest couple, yet somehow it makes sense. . ."

Stiles blushed, finishing off his last bite of ice cream. They had never been referred to as a couple before, except perhaps by tabloids.

Laura cleared her throat. "Now then, Derek I know you don't want to hear it, but I fear Peter might try to pull something."

"You know I won't let him lay a finger on Stiles or John." Derek's eyes went red.

"I do, which is why I worry. Do not let him get to you, don't cause a scene. We want John to like the pack, not fear them. You know Peter will try to get under your skin, don't let him."

"You say that as if it is easy."

"I know it isn't, but Stiles nor John needs to see the ugly side of our family just yet, so keep your claws away and let mother handle him, as you know she will."

"Not as effectively as she should."

"He is her brother." Laura defended her mother.

"He is an asshole."

"He didn't always use to be that way."

"But he's still an asshole."

Laura sighed. "Please, just try, for me? For Stiles?"

Derek huffed out a breath. "Fine. I won't start anything, but I will finish it if I have to."

"I would expect nothing less from my baby bro. As for you Stiles, don't get Cora all riled up, I heard she really likes you, which could cause problems."

"What? How can that cause problems? I thought the point was to all get along?"

"Oh it is, I'm just warning you friend-to-friend here that if you become best friends with Cora, you'll regret it, the child is nuts and quite angsty right now. The more you egg her on, the worse it gets. She has quite a mouth on her and if she gets too comfortable she will talk about the wrong things at the dinner table." Laura shuddered.

Stiles looked to Derek for backup, but he just shrugged in agreeance. Apparently, werewolves going through puberty weren't the best company. As if dinner wasn't already going to be interesting.

"Alright fine. Who all will be there anyway?"

"The whole pack, Talia, Derek, Cora, me, Erica, Boyd, Peter, unfortunately, and Isaac."

"I feel like you're setting me up for failure." Stiles sunk down.

Laura snorted. "Relax, the whole pack loves you and you've already met everyone."

"Yeah, but you haven't met my dad." Derek shifted uncomfortably.

"Cheer up buttercup, it'll all be fine." Laura smiled softly.

"You say after you just assured as both that Peter was going to cause shit." Stiles crossed his arms, leaning back in the booth.

"I said that something was going to go down and that it could be Peter. Besides, if it does, that's shit that will be handled quickly by my mother and your very lovely beau Derek."

Stiles was still skeptical. "How do you even know something is going to happen?"

"Laura's had this weird intuition in her whole life." Derek explained.

"Yeah but I've never been wrong have I?"

"Sometimes you make things seem way more serious than they ever are."

"And maybe that is the case this time as well." Laura turned to Derek. "Thank you for coming tonight, I know it wasn't easy."

Derek nodded. "Like I said, I'll never stand you up."

They all got up and Laura wrapped Derek in a hug, as Stiles stood there watching them. He had always been an only child and truthfully most of the time he was thankful, but it would have been nice to have someone like Laura.

"Don't think you're getting out of all this." Laura motioned to herself, then wrapped him up in a hug as well, squeezing just as tight as before, but this time Derek didn't let out a growl, instead just smiled softly as Laura softly wiped her palm across the back of Stiles' neck, scenting him.

"I hope to see you soon Stiles. I'm really glad I got to meet you and. . . well I'm really glad that my brother has you." She smiled softly again and Stiles could see that it reached her eyes.

"Love you both. Be safe, but not too safe, have some fun you fucking geriatrics, you're mates for fucks sake. If I don't smell the cu-"

"Okay! Moment ruined! Goodbye Laura, see you Friday!" Derek quickly ran out of the restaurant, bells jingling above the door again. Stiles giggled, but hugged Laura again. He was going to miss her and hoped this wasn't the last time he would see her.

"Take care of my baby bro." She said, placing her hand on Stiles' cheek. He nodded and went outside to climb back in the car, meeting a red faced Derek.

"You're sister is great." Stiles laughed, buckling up.

"My sister's a bitch. . . but yeah she is pretty great." Derek backed up out of the spot and began to head home.

"Question." Stiles spoke.

"Answer." Derek replied.

"Earlier you said that we would stay at your place for a while because you didn't want to move into the Hale mansion yet. . . are we still going to be moving in there?"

"That was the plan, but I'm not really sure I want that." Derek frowned.

"Don't you want to be close to your family?"

"I love my family, I always will, but I'm a grown man." He shrugged. "I understand pack dynamics say that an Alpha should be with his pack and that my mother wants me to be with her always, but I can't help wanting to get away. I'm not sure how that conversation will go though, she nearly lost it when I was in basic."

"That must have been tough for her, she must have been worried."

"Nothing to be worried about."

"Oh, while your son goes to shoot off bombs and try to not die?" Stiles asked sarcastically.

"They'd never let that happen to me." Derek retorted seriously.

"Oh right, sorry your majesty." Stiles rolled his eyes.

"You know I didn't ask for this right? I didn't ask to be who I am, I didn't ask to be an Alpha, didn't ask to be part of this family, didn't ask to be treated differently." Derek said.

". . . yeah I get that." Stiles was sorry he snapped.

"So I just. . ." he paused, before shrugging. "I want something different, I deserve something different and it's not just about me anymore."

"Well you didn't ask me if I wanted to move into the Hale mansion."

"Do you?" Derek looked at Stiles, curious.

"Not really." Stiles shrugged. "Your family is great, but I'm not sure I'd really fit in."

"You're pack, you'll always fit in."

Stiles shuddered at the words. He wasn't sure he would ever get used to that. He was accepted so rapidly and the fact that Derek and Talia had chosen him still blew his mind. He was grateful things were going the way they were, but he had to agree with Derek that he didn't want to be stuck at the Hale mansion, constantly surrounded by the pack all the time.

"Besides, the walls aren't exactly soundproof."

Stiles whipped his head over to Derek. "What exactly are you trying to imply there buddy?"

"That Cora is horny and-" Derek seemed to smirk yet grimace at the same time, before laughing at Stiles' clear lack of comfort.

"Okay, yep, got it, thanks." Stiles grimaced and Derek chuckled.

They pulled into the garage and both headed inside. By now it was late and Stiles smiled to himself at how well the day went, at how well everything was going. He was comfortable and that was what was most scary. Something had to go wrong, something had to change because life was never this fair.

"What's wrong?" Derek asked as Stiles shrugged off his jacket, gently laying it over the couch. Stupid werewolf noses.

"Nothing."

"Stiles." Derek looked at him as though he was scolding him.

"Really, nothing."

Derek nodded his head, though he didn't believe him. They both stood then, in an awkward silence. That was the thing about them, they were both so awkward, in their own ways. Stiles was gangly and frantic while Derek was guarded and quiet. They really had next to nothing in common, yet they seemed to be getting along well enough.

"Well I should probably head to bed."

"Right, yeah." Derek scratched the back of his head.

"Unless?"

"Unless?" Derek asked.

Stiles licked his lips. "Nothing, nothing." He wasn't sure why he had even said that.

"Okay." Derek nodded, shifting his weight. "Well I'm going to go for a run." He pointed over his shoulder.

"It's kind of late isn't it? And cold." Stiles commented.

Derek shrugged. "I run hot. Plus I've got the whole thick coat thing."

"Right, yeah. Are you sure? I mean it's dark and kinda-" Stiles wasn't sure why he was still talking.

"Stiles? I've just got to blow off some steam, I'll be fine."

"Yeah, okay. Night then."

"Night then." Derek nodded and Stiles turned, heading to his room. He turned back and Derek was gone, presumably out the door already. What did he mean blow off some steam? Was he still upset about their argument earlier? Or did Laura really make him that mad?

Stiles felt like a rock was sitting in the pit of his stomach, pulling his weight down and making him sick. He decided to take a shower in hopes that the warm water would make him feel better. Peeling off his clothes he stepped in, but the water only made him hot and feel more nauseated.

He only stayed a moment more to get clean before stepping out again. The bathroom was now foggy with the mirror completely covered in steam. He continued to sweat and desperately wanted to get out of the stuffy room, so he wrapped a towel around his waist and headed to his room.

He looked through all of his clothes but only ended up grabbing a pair of underwear. He wanted a big baggy shirt, but unfortunately everything in his closet and drawers was his exact size. He had a fleeting thought to go borrow Derek, surely he wouldn't mind. . . no that was a bad idea. No matter how nice Derek is, he couldn't just waltz into his room and steal a shirt.

But also maybe he wouldn't notice. . . who was he kidding, he would notice. His scent lingers everywhere he goes, leaving a little trail like a snail.

He climbed into bed, little droplets of water still lingering on his skin. He climbed under the blankets, yet was not tired. His mind was still wide awake, thoughts running around a mile a minute. He was wondering about Derek, about why he went on a run. Was this something he always did? Surely not. It was a little after midnight now, but as he said, he was a grown man and could take care of himself.

Stiles flopped over again, huffing. Pulling the blankets up close, he willed himself to fall asleep, but sleep never came. His ears seemed to be constantly perked up, listening for Derek to come in. Then again, if Derek didn't want to be heard or seen, he wouldn't be. Maybe he was already home and Stiles just didn't know. Could he hear Stiles' pounding heart? Was it bothering him?

Huffing, Stiles threw the blankets off of him and grabbed a t-shirt, slipping it over his head. He went to the door and placed his hand on it, preparing to turn the knob, but paused. What was the plan here? What was he doing? What if he woke up Derek or ran into him?

He would just grab a glass of water.

Opening the door, heart hammering as if he were in a horror movie, he tried to be quiet as he stepped out of his room and into the hallway. Derek's room was down the hallway and he could see his door was shut. Damn.

Stiles stepped down the hallway and towards the kitchen, never passing Derek. He went to the sink and grabbed a clean glass, filling it up with tap water, though Derek's fridge had one of those built in faucet things. Stiles looked out the window, the almost full moon lighting up the entire room and illuminating his pale skin. He sighed, wondering if Derek was still out there and okay.

He finished his glass of water and was placing it in the sink when he heard a noise. He froze, fear covering him like a coat. His heart began to hammer and his breath picked up. He slowly crept around the corner, looking for something, any sign, but saw nothing as the penthouse was pitch black and Stiles didn't have eyes that could illuminate.

He heard another sound, like a door being pushed open. Stiles' swallowed. Was someone breaking in? Surely Derek had good security, but it was still a possibility.

Stiles looked around for anything that could be a weapon as he backed up slowly. He completely froze when he heard something behind him. He turned quickly and yelped. There was a massive black wolf sitting on its haunches, head cocked.

"Derek! Jesus fucking Christ! Warn a man, oh my God!" Stiles clutched at his chest as his other hand rested on his knee, trying to catch his breath.

Derek just sat there, looking at him with his massive red eyes. Stiles looked into them and found they were captivating, more beautiful than any ruby ever could be. He caught his breath before speaking again.

"Is this like a nightly thing for you?"

Derek huffed, standing up.

"Whatever," Stiles began to turn when Derek shifted right in front of him, suddenly much closer than he was before, and very, very naked.

"I didn't mean to scare you." His voice sounded gruff without use.

"Scared? I wasn't scared." Stiles would deny until the day he died that his voice raised several octaves and then proceeded to crack.

Derek smirked, his eyes still glowing red, though the rest of him was shifted human.

"Liar." He brushed past Stiles, heading down the hallway to his room. Stiles huffed and followed after him.

"Am not!" Stiles shouted down the hallway.

"Are too!" Derek shouted back, as he shut his door. Stiles would be a liar if he said he didn't watch Derek's bare ass for as long as he possibly could.

What was that? Was that it? That was their conversation? Stiles sighed again, running a hand over his head. He was in trouble. He was about to step back into his room when Derek opened his. He now had pants on and Stiles had to admit he was a little disappointed, though Derek's bare chest didn't hurt to look at either.

"Were you worried about me?" He asked, leaning against his door frame with his arms crossed, making his biceps bulge.

"What? No! Big bad Alpha Derek? Psh. Why? Should I have been?" Stiles asked.

Derek snorted. "No, Stiles. Go to sleep."

"I was trying." Stiles whined.

"Try harder." Derek said.

"Why are you so pushy?" Stiles crossed his arms defensively.

"Because I'd like to go to sleep." Derek sighed.

"Then go to sleep." Stiles argued back.

"That's the plan."

"Then. . . go to sleep." Stiles said confused.

"I will."

"You are so confusing."

Derek smirked. "Goodnight Stiles."

"Goodnight Derek."

Neither one of them moved. Stiles looked around, seeing what Derek was waiting for.

"Stiles."

"Derek." He repeated.

Derek sighed loudly, unfolding his arms and standing straight. "Come here."

It was demanding. But Stiles obeyed, stepping right up to Derek.

Derek cocked his head slightly and raised his hand, placing it on Stiles' neck, letting it rest there. It felt like it was burning against his cold skin. Derek hummed, moving his hand forward slightly, closer to Stiles' throat. He could crush Stiles at any time, just for getting on his nerves, and he would be in the right. Stiles pushed that thought out of his head quickly, trying to believe the best in Derek.

Derek's eyes glowed bright red once again. "Why were you up?" He asked.

"Couldn't sleep." Stiles responded truthfully, never breaking the heated gaze between the two of them.

"Why?" Derek asked.

"Don't know."

"Liar." Derek could hear Stiles' heart skip a beat.

"I was waiting for you to get back."

"Why?"

Stiles huffed. "I don't know." And that was partially the truth. He wondered if his heart still skipped a beat for half truths.

Derek squinted his eyes. Perhaps his heart had given him away.

"It's not fair you're some kind of walking lie detector." Stiles threw out.

"It's not fair you lie."

"It's not fair you dance around the truth." Stiles retorted. Derek's hand slowly moved back and slid in Stiles' hair, fingertips gentle on his scalp. Stiles swallowed.

"I don't dance around the truth."

"Then why did you go on a run." Stiles didn't realize until he did it, he stepped slightly closer and leaned into Derek's touch.

"I told you, I needed to blow off some steam."

"What steam?"

It was Derek's turn to swallow nervously. He took his hand back and backed up. "Goodnight Stiles."

"Wait-" Stiles sputtered as Derek began to shut the door.

"I need a shirt!" He quickly yelled. It almost didn't sound like English, like it was all one big word, and Stiles was pretty sure Derek didn't even understand what he just said. Even so, Derek froze, before opening the door again.

"You. . . need a shirt?"

Stiles licked his lips. "Uh. . . yeah."

Derek squinted his eyes.

"Why?" Derek looked down at Stiles' perfectly fine shirt.

Stiles began to sweat. Why had he said that? Stupid, stupid.

"Uh. . ."

Derek rolled his eyes and opened his door fully, stepping to the side and crossing his arms. Stiles took that as an invitation to step inside. When he did, he was instantly hit with the scent of Derek. It was thick, warm, musky, it was fully Derek and nothing else.

The room was dark and the Stiles quickly noticed Derek's huge bed, covered in dark charcoal grey sheets. His furniture was also a dark mahogany wood, matching the bed frame. His windows were open, thin curtains softly blowing in the wind.

Stiles swallowed and Derek turned his back to him, heading to his dresser and opening it. He quickly grabbed a shirt and threw it at Stiles, who caught it awkwardly.

"Um. . . thanks."

"Stiles, if you need my scent on you, you know I can-"

"No, no!" Stiles quickly spoke. Fuck he didn't mean to make this weird. And was that offense? Saying no to Derek's scent so quickly? "I just uh wanted a big shirt and yours don't fit me so you know. . ."

"Are your shirts constricting you, because-" Fuck, Stiles was making this worse.

"No, no they are fine." Derek was thinking the worst of things here, that his hormones were taking over or something, craving Derek's scent and making his skin extra sensitive, as if he were going into heat. It was clear based on the look on Derek's face that he was concerned.

"Promise, I just wanted a big shirt." Stiles prayed it was the truth. Prayed his heart didn't skip.

Apparently Derek was satisfied, as he nodded and uncrossed his arms.

"I can take you shopping tomorrow if you'd like."

"No, I'm fine, really, I just like big t-shirts to sleep in is all." For some reason it was then Stiles realized he was in his boxers and his face heated up in embarrassment.

Derek nodded, though he still didn't seem entirely convinced that Stiles was okay, and he couldn't blame him, he seemed absolutely insane. Too bad there was a no return policy on Omegas.

"You can keep that one."

Stiles nodded. "Well uh, I'm gonna hit the hay. Thanks for this." Stiles pointed at the shirt and chuckled nervously.

Derek nodded, face stern.

"You're going to need to blow off more steam aren't you?" Stiles joked.

"Most likely. Goodnight Stiles."

"Right." Stiles ducked his head and practically ran out of the room. As soon as he got to his room, he shut the door quickly and banged his head against it, cringing.

Oh my God, that was more embarrassing than prom night. He was lucky that Derek didn't hate him before, but everything was up in the air now. Clearly, Derek wanted some time alone, why couldn't Stiles just leave him alone? And God, then he made it seem like he was going into fucking heat or something.

Groaning, Stiles ripped off his shirt and threw on Derek's. He then flopped into bed angrily.

How could he be so stupid? Obviously Derek just wanted some time alone and Stiles had to go and fucking wait up for him like a little puppy, then followed him to his room to ask for a fucking shirt.

Stiles shut his eyes tightly, wishing the memory away, though he knew it would play in his mind all night. He half thought about getting up again and apologizing, but he knew that would make things way worse.

Tears brimmed in his eyes as he kept reliving the embarrassment over and over. And the worse part? It was completely obvious to everyone but himself at the moment that Stiles wanted Derek's shirt, not just a big shirt. He wanted it to hang off his shoulders because that just reminded him that it was Derek's. He wanted to smell Derek on himself, wanted to feel his warmth. He wanted it to feel like Derek's hand across his skin, wanting it to stain him.

He rolled over, licking his lips and tasting the salt of his tears. He hoped Derek couldn't hear him crying, or worse, smell it. Alphas had told him that tears smelled bad, so sad that it pinched at their throats, making them choke.

God, the morning was going to be awful. Stiles had a habit of ignoring things until they went away and he hoped that Derek would go along with that plan.

***

Stiles woke tiredly, muscles stiff and head pounding from his tears. His throat felt dry and as he cleared it he realized how horrible he felt. He sat up, hearing something weird, like a banging, or pounding.

He got up, slipping on some pants quickly to investigate. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was a little after 8:00am. He opened the door and followed the sound towards Derek's gym.

The door was open and Stiles was able to get a full view of Derek's. . . well everything. The music was pounding so loud he could feel it in his chest. Derek was pressing a bar above his chest over and over, puffing out his chest as he did. Stiles' face went red as he watched him, but couldn't break his gaze.

Soon Derek finished his reps, racking the bar and grabbing a towel, wiping down his face and turning towards Stiles.

He gave him a smile and jerked his head to the side, motioning for Stiles to come in. He grabbed a remote and turned down the music to where it was no longer making his chest rattle, but still plenty loud.

"How'd you sleep?"

"Like shit." Stiles figured there was no point in lying.

"Shirt didn't help huh?" Derek smirked, smug bitch. He wiped down his chest, then threw the towel on the bench.

Stiles glared and noticed he was still wearing it, the fabric hanging off of him loosely.

Derek grabbed a water, taking a quick drink, still waiting for a response from Stiles.

"How did you sleep?" Stiles asked.

"Like shit." Derek responded.

"Guess your run didn't help." Stiles retorted. He wondered if they would ever stop arguing like middle schoolers. He hoped not.

"Guess not. Hungry?"

"Always."

Derek snorted in response.

"I can make something." Stiles offered.

Derek nodded. "Sure. That'd be great. I'll go wash up." He grabbed the towel and threw it over his shoulders.

"Good, you stink." Stiles commented. He didn't really, just smelled like sweat and musk and well Stiles didn't even mind.

In response, Derek threw his sweaty towel at Stiles, landing right on his face. Stiles yelped, ripping it off and sputtering in disbelief.

Derek just laughed, leaving the room.

"That's it mister! No blueberry waffles for you! Only regular, that's right, regular I said!" Stiles yelled after him, huffing when he didn't get a response.

He headed to the kitchen and began grabbing ingredients for waffles, thankful he spotted the waffle maker a couple days ago. He was violently whisking the mix up when Derek walked in, leaning over his shoulder to snag a blueberry.

Stiles smacked his hand, but was too late. Derek laughed as he popped the blueberry in his mouth, chewing happily. His hair was wet, sticking up everywhere and his navy blue shirt still clung to his chest. He was wearing those damn tight black jeans that did things to Stiles and his feet were bare.

"I said no blueberries for you."

Derek pouted. "Please."

"Nope, it's what you get for being a meanie."

Suddenly, Derek was right next to Stiles, using some kind of werewolf juju to get next to him impossibly fast.

"Please?" He cocked his head to the side.

"Nope." Stiles stuck his nose up in the air, ignoring Derek as he gave the batter one final mix.

"Fine." Derek stepped away, defeated, and opened the fridge.

He grabbed something, Stiles wasn't sure what as he was focused on his waffles. He poured the batter in the waffle maker and smiled at the sizzle it made. While he was distracted, Stiles poured some blueberries on top of Derek's waffle, then shut it quickly.

When he turned to see if Derek had noticed he instantly gagged. As threatened, Derek was dangling raw bacon into his mouth.

"Oh my God Derek!"

Derek let go of the strip and caught it in his mouth, letting it dangle like a child would a noodle. He then proceeded to slurp it up and chew with a smirk.

"I think I'm going to be sick." Stiles puffed out his cheeks and grabbed his stomach.

Derek grabbed another piece and rolled it in between his fingers, studying it.

"It's really not that bad-"

"I don't want to hear it." Stiles held up a hand and returned to his waffles, making sure they reached the perfect golden brown and nothing more. He reached around Derek and his nasty bacon to grab the butter and the syrup. It surprised himself how familiar he already was with the penthouse.

Derek put his bacon up and sniffed at the waffles as Stiles opened the lid to the waffle maker. He went to grab one and Stiles smacked his hand.

"Bad dog." Derek pouted again, offended.

"Go sit down." Stiles motioned.

Derek obeyed and took a seat on the bar stool. Stiles quickly plated both of their waffles and took them to the bar, where Derek's face lit up.

"Blueberries." He commented cheerfully.

"Yeah, yeah, you big puppy."

Derek grabbed the syrup and lightly coated his waffles, while Stiles cut off a giant slice of butter and drenched his entirely.

"How are you not 300 pounds?" Derek asked, mouth full of blueberry goodness.

"I honestly don't know. My dad said that my mind is so active it burns calories." Stiles shrugged.

Derek snorted and nodded in agreeance. "You must have been insane as a child."

"So my teachers say." Stiles mumbled.

They both laughed but were interrupted by the doorbell ringing. Stiles looked at Derek, whose eyebrows instantly lowered as he began to frown.

"Who is that?"

"I have no idea." He stood and began to listen. "Stay here."

Stiles did just that, as he watched Derek disappear. Stiles tried to listen as best as he could, wishing he had the power of Alpha hearing. After a few minutes, Stiles began to get worried and stood up. He was just about to walk towards the door when Derek appeared, looking shook up.

"Who was it?" Stiles asked concerned.

Derek didn't answer, swallowing hard.

"What's going on?"

"I've got to leave town." He said, not looking at Stiles, as though he was refusing.

"What? What do you mean? Why?" Stiles asked frantically. What had him so shook up, and better question, why in the hell did he have to leave? Alphas were meant to stay with their Omegas for at least several weeks before separating for any given reason.

"That was General Lockland. There's been a situation." He swallowed again, looking pale.

"What? What do you mean, I thought you were the boss, what is going on Derek?"

"I've got to go." He turned, walking to his room while Stiles was hot on his heels.

"Go where?"

"I've got to fly out." Derek responded as the reached his room. He ripped off his shirt quickly, going to his closet.

He tore back all the clothes, revealing a large safe hidden. The keypad was huge and everything looked to be made out of thick steel.

"Derek."

He ignored him, opening the safe and pulling out several guns, grenades, and other shit Stiles couldn't even identify.

"Derek." He said more sternly.

He then pulled out a uniform from the back of his closet. It was all black and stiff with pockets and attachments for weapons. Derek quickly changed and started strapping guns to his hips, back, and ankles.

"Derek!"

Derek brushed past him, sitting down on his bed and tightly lacing up black boots.

Stiles ran both hands through his hair and tugged on it. "Can you just tell me what the fuck is going on? You're freaking me out!"

Derek finished tying his boots and paused before looking up at Stiles.

"I'm sorry for leaving you like this." He stood up, packing more weapons onto his person and in a large duffel bag. He threw a huge gun over his shoulder, strapped it to his back, and slipped on tight black gloves. He began to walk out the door when Stiles yelled.

"No!" Derek froze. "No, you don't get to do that. You don't get to walk out like this. Honesty. Words. You promised. You promised you wouldn't hurt me."

Stiles' eyes brimmed with tears and Derek shut his tightly, trying to ignore the pain in his chest.

He turned towards Stiles, swallowing hard and looking into his eyes. He licked his lips nervously before speaking.

"I have to go to the base. There was a bombing, a big one, on Sector Forty-Seven."

"A bombing?" Stiles asked, eyes wide. There hadn't been such an act of violence since before the Mating Run had started several years ago.

Derek nodded. "There are a lot of people hurt right now, so I have to go."

"Do you know who did it?" Stiles asked, exasperated.

"No, but it looked like a hate crime."

Stiles froze, heart hammering. "Who was bombed?"

Derek swallowed, turning his head.

"Derek?"

"It was an Omega shelter in the South-side of Sector Forty-Seven."

"Oh my God. They're right above us." Realization struck Stiles like a freight train.

Derek cliched his jaw, nodding. "Isaac is on his way. He's going to pick you up, and you're going somewhere safe. Boyd is going to meet me at the base and-"

"No."

"What?"

"No, I'm coming with you."

"Absolutely not." Derek quickly responded.

"Derek-"

"No Stiles." He said sternly.

"I am coming with you, you can't stop me."

"Yes, I can." Derek stepped close to Stiles, flashing his eyes red and baring his teeth.

Stiles' eyes brimmed with tears again. Was Derek going to show his true colors now?

His face melted, instantly sorry. "I can't take you, Stiles, I won't take you to a war zone."

"I'll be fine, I'll-"

"No. I promised to keep you safe, this is me keeping that promise. No negotiations. I've got to go." Derek paused only a moment more before he reached into one of his holsters and handed Stiles a gun.

"This is a Beretta M9, it's a pistol." The gun felt wrong in his hands, too heavy, too scary. "Something happens to you, you put your finger right here," Derek tapped the trigger, "and you squeeze."

"Derek-"

"Be safe, okay?"

The tears that threatened to fall finally did, rolling down his cheeks.

Derek placed a gloved hand on Stiles' cheek, wiping a tear. He leaned forward and pressed his lips on Stiles' forehead gently. An act of kindness. An act of care. An act of love.

"I'll be back."

"You better." Stiles' voice shook and he subconsciously begged Derek not to go, but the next time he blinked, he was gone.

The penthouse was eerily silent and Stiles could only stand there, gun in hand. Had that just happened? Had his Alpha just left him all alone, running headfirst into a war zone?

What was going to happen to him? His heart began to pick up as images raced through his head of Derek running into a burning building. Of bullets racing past him, then landing in his abdomen. Of red blood staining his black uniform. Of the air thick with smoke and dust as Derek screamed in pain.

He felt the panic attack coming on, breath impossibly fast yet he was unable to breathe. It only accelerated when he heard a loud pounding at the door. He wasn't sure what to do. Did he hide? Did he run? Did he stand, gun up?

Before he could decide, he heard a voice call his name. He prayed that it was Derek, that he had changed his mind and come back for him. That it was a false alarm and that things could go back to normal.

"Stiles!" The voice called again, running towards him. Before he could officially panic, he saw Isaac's head pop out.

"Thank God." Isaac said, running towards him. "We've got to go."

Stiles was too in shock to protest or say anything more. "Do you even know how to shoot his thing?" Isaac asked, looking at the gun.

Stiles shook his head. "Jesus, here." Isaac grabbed it from him and stuck it in the back of his pants, before grabbing Stiles' hand.

"Come on."

They tore through the house as Isaac pulled him along, down the stairs and into the front, where he was met with a black SUV. Isaac practically threw him in the backseat, before hoping in the passenger. Before he had even shut the door, they were off, tires squealing. Erica was in the front seat, driving like a bat out of hell.

"What the hell is going on?" Stiles asked.

"We are getting you the fuck out of dodge." She spoke seriously, before merging onto the highway recklessly, earning her several honks. Stiles glanced at the speedometer and saw they were nearing 120 miles per hour.

"Is Derek okay?"

Erica and Isaac glanced at each other. "He's about to be up in the air as we speak."

"Oh my God." Stiles threw his head back, trying to control his breathing as his panic attack rose again.

"Okay, Stiles, just breathe." He felt like he was choking, throat tight and eyes watering.

"Stiles, breathe, it's all going to be okay." He was seeing black spots and knew he was going to pass out.

"Jesus, Erica do something!"

"What the fuck am I supposed to do? He's freaking out!" Erica screamed.

"Clearly, what do we do?" Isaac asked.

Stiles clutched at his chest, leaning forward, trying to breathe while his mind wouldn't shut up that Derek was going to die.

"Stiles it's going to be okay." Erica kept glancing frantically in the rearview mirror, while flying down the highway. Stiles saw blue lights out of his peripheral, but realized that they weren't trying to pull her over, rather, they were escorting. He wondered if his father was out there.

Stiles shook his head. It wasn't going to be okay, none of this was. Derek just disappeared and now he was getting on a plane to get shot at. Stiles didn't even get to say goodbye.

"What are you doing?" Isaac hissed at Erica.

"I'm calling him."

"Are you fucking insane-" Isaac whispered, but Erica flipped him off.

Stiles felt unconsciousness overtaking him and Isaac and Erica's voice seemed to cut in and out like a bad phone call.

"Boyd he's freaking out, I don't know! No don't. . . dammit. . . Boyd! Don't tell him he's going to do something stupid. Boyd? . . . dammit!" She hung up angrily.

"What did you just do?" Isaac yelled.

Erica swallowed. ". . . he heard."

Isaac threw his head back in anger. "Dammit, Erica! Why did you call?"

"I didn't know what to do Isaac!" She yelled back, eyes brimming with tears.

"Shut. . . the fuck. . . up." Stiles grit out.

"Shit, Stiles I'm sorry. Are you okay?" Erica asked.

Stiles just glared at them both. Erica was still swerving everywhere.

"We're not going to make it." Erica grit out.

"Yes, we are." Isaac said sternly, gripping the seat.

"Fuck it, I'm calling it."

"It's too risky." Isaac snapped.

"We're already risking our nuts as it is."

"Can somebody please tell me what the FUCK is going on?" Stiles yelled, finally calming himself down enough to catch his breath for a sentence.

"Erica is being an idiot."

Erica shook her head, pressing a button on the dash, starting a call. "Pull it." She spoke to someone, before hitting another button to end the call. Without warning, she slammed on the breaks, yanking the car to the side. Stiles slid across the seat as Erica and Isaac braced themselves. Once they quickly came to a stop, both Isaac and Erica got out quickly, yanking Stiles out and shoving him in another car, this one much lower to the ground. It had sharp edges and tight seating, barely fitting the three of them.

"That was stupid!" Isaac said, buckling himself and Stiles up.

"It's going to save our asses."

Instantly, Erica pressed her foot on the gas and was back to driving. Stiles felt like puking seeing the speed reach close to three hundred miles per hour.

"Where are we going?"

"Somewhere safe." Erica spoke.

Stiles shook his head, chuckling. "Fucking Hales. I fucking exist you know, tell me what the fuck is going on or I swear to God I will jump out this car."

Isaac sighed. "The bombing. . . it was planned. Talia had been to the Omega Shelter only a couple days prior. It's an organization she publicly supports, as well as the rest of the Hale pack. It's a message. We fear it's a threat."

"And Derek is going towards the threat?"

"Derek is the strongest, smartest, and best Alpha to be out there right now."

"Yeah and what about the rules your precious Alphas are supposed to follow huh? Like the one where we stay together for a few weeks? The one where he doesn't fucking leave me to go get his head blown off?"

"Stiles, he's going to be fine." Erica tried to assure him.

"You don't know that." Stiles grit his teeth together, stopping the tears in their tracks. Whether it was his hormones, his Omega side, or just Stiles worrying, he didn't care.

"What were you telling Boyd?" Stiles asked, realizing something.

Isaac growled, clearly still angry at Boyd.

"Nothing, just updating him." She tried to play it off.

"No. . . you said 'he overheard.' Who overheard?" He snapped.

Erica didn't respond.

"Erica. Did Derek hear?"

No response.

"Erica!"

"I didn't know he would overhear, okay? I didn't." She said frantically.

"Yeah and now who knows what's going to happen." Isaac snapped.

"Surely. . ." Erica looked sad.

"He's going to freak out isn't he?" Stiles asked, breath picking back up again. Derek was an Alpha, an overprotective, possessive, stupid son of a bitch who cared deeply for Stiles already and was going to freak out at the mere idea of Stiles being hurt.

Erica looked forward and Isaac looked out the window as everything flew past them. At this point, the cops could no longer keep up. They were on their own.

"Where is Talia?" Stiles asked. Surely she could give him some answers.

"She's already at the safe house."

"Is that where we are headed?"

Erica nodded, biting her lip.

"I can't believe this is happening." Stiles shook his head. "They couldn't have sent anyone else?"

Isaac shook his head. "It's a threat, a message. We're sending our own."

"Yeah and what's that, that we're sending Talia's son, an insanely powerful Alpha, newly mated Alpha, and crazy military leader to get killed?"

"That we aren't afraid."

Stiles shook his head angrily. He would never understand politics.

"We're almost there." Erica spoke, slowing the car down. They were now on some winding road surrounded by trees, but Erica still was going in the 200s. They approached a giant metal building, smooth and without windows, sticking out boldly against the green of the forest.

"This is it?"

"Pretty isn't she?" Erica asked sarcastically.

Erica typed in some code on the dash of the car, opening a side of the safe house. She quickly pulled in and the side closed behind them. For a second they were in complete darkness, before the lights flickered on, all completely red, revealing a garage full of sleek black cars and what looked like military owned vehicles.

They all got out, Stiles stiff from being so tense the whole time. They approached a door and Erica stuck her hand on a keypad, as it seemed to scan her hand. She then leaned down as something that looked like a laser shot in her eye. She stuck her finger out and it was pricked. Isaac stepped up next and repeated the process, and they then both turned to Stiles.

"What?" Stiles asked.

"You're already in the system, go ahead." Erica spoke expectantly.

"Me?"

They both nodded. He followed suit, blinking as the laser shot in his eye and yelping when his finger got pricked, drawing blood.

A groaning sound was heard, before the lights turned normal and a huge steel door was opened. They both entered, Stiles following hesitantly. He was instantly crushed by arms wrapping around him, knocking the breath out of him.

"Oomph."

"Thank God you're okay."

"Laura!" Stiles squeezed her tight.

She pulled back, placing a hand on his cheek. "I was so worried." It already looked like she had been crying, eyes red and watery.

"Stiles." Talia greeted, wrapping him in a much gentler embrace.

"I am glad you're safe." She spoke.

"Can somebody please explain all of this." Stiles motioned.

Talia nodded and motioned to a seat at a huge mahogany table, currently covered in maps and official looking documents.

"This is the safe house, it's been standing since before I was born. I had to keep the pack safe, so we moved here for now."

"Yet you had no problem sending Derek in." Stiles snapped.

"I didn't choose that. He did." Talia snapped, sounding angry about it herself.

Stiles sat back, arms crossed. "Why would he choose to leave me?" Stiles hated the way it sounded, desperate, but he hated the way it felt even more.

"He didn't choose that, but he chose his people the minute he stepped into his Alpha role. He is meant to protect them, that's his role in the pack. This means protecting you, keeping you safe."

Stiles shook his head. "This is all insane."

Talia smiled softly.

"Guess now we can only hope your precious little Derek doesn't get himself blown to bits." A voice spoke from a corner.

"Peter, Jesus!" Cora spoke. She too was visibly shaken, arms crossed.

"What?" He asked defensively, smirking.

Stiles chose to ignore him, turning back to Talia. It was unfortunate that they were family and Peter had to be safe as well.

"How long is this going to take? I mean what exactly is Derek doing?"

"Truthfully, I'm not sure." Talia shrugged. "I know Derek's primary goal right now is to protect the people of Sector Forty-Seven and find the culprit or culprits of this hate crime. Whether that means getting people out or keeping people in, I'm not sure."

"Let's be honest Talia, he wants to go in, dick in hand and try to be the hero as always." Peter stepped closer.

"Peter, now is not the time for your antics." Talia said, frustrated.

"He's always had a hero complex wouldn't you say? I don't even think he would mind dying at the hands of an enemy." Peter motioned with his hands, looking off into the distance, bored.

"Peter!" Everyone snapped.

Stiles just snorted at the immaturity of Peter. Forever full of anger and antics. Peter squinted.

"Bet that just crushes you doesn't it? Poor little Omega, Alpha ripped away from you before you even got a second taste of his knot in your hole."

"That's enough!" Talia snapped, eyes red, but it was too late.

Stiles stepped right up to Peter, face only a few inches away from his. Peter didn't move an inch, unafraid and unconcerned.

"You seem to think you know a lot, don't you? Think you're so clever, so funny, don't you?"

Peter smirked.

"You think that I am bothered by you? I've been surrounded by people like you my whole life. You mean nothing to me," Stiles looked at Peter up and down "It's easy to see how you became Alpha. You stole it didn't you? Because you were too weak to be born an Alpha?" Stiles cocked his head. "Thought it would make you powerful, didn't seem to work though did it? Never invited to run. Never held an important position in your life. Never claimed an Omega. Never wanted. Even by your own pack."

Peter clenched his jaw, visibly flexing.

"I've only known your family for a few days and yet they are willing to take a bullet for a stupid little omega, can you say the same?"

"I'm still here aren't I?" Peter asked.

"Not for long." Stiles responded.

"Is that a threat?" Peter laughed. "From an Omega?"

Stiles stepped closer. "From an Omega mated to one of the most powerful Alphas in the world. It's a threat."

"Boys-" Talia tried to speak.

"Funny how you have to have your bitch of a mate fight for you." Peter spat.

"Funny how you had to steal your power by killing someone. Who are you underneath your lie? Nothing."

Peter snapped his teeth at Stiles, who didn't flinch.

"That's enough!" Talia snapped.

Stiles stepped back, out of respect for Talia. Peter growled lowly and Stiles only smirked innocently, crossing his arms in amusement.

"This won't help anybody." Talia spoke.

"Can you stop being the peacemaker for once and let Peter get what he deserves?" Cora groaned. She clearly wanted a fight.

"I'd be quiet little wolf." Peter threatened.

"Or what?" She growled back.

Talia sighed. "Please, for five minutes let's stop this. By now Derek and Boyd have touched down."

That shut everyone up really quickly. Stiles took a seat again, heart feeling weak. Everyone slowly took a seat at the table, apart from Peter who left the room, seemingly uninterested. Stiles peered at the papers on the table, unable to decipher any of them. They looked like rough drafts of official statements, maps, and numbers or units of something.

"My father." Stiles realized quickly.

"He's safe, I spoke to him only a moment ago."

"Well is he coming?" Stiles asked.

Talia shook her head. "I asked him to, but he refused. He chose to stay at the station to provide any kind of assistance he could."

"Well can't you like force him to come?"

"Stiles I can't take a man against his own free will." Talia seemed shocked by the notion.

"Why not? You did me."

"That's quite different. You're my son's mate."

Stiles looked away. Dammit, dad. Why did he always feel the need to be the hero? Stiles always thought maybe it was because he couldn't save his mom, so he was going to try and save as many people as he could. But Stiles needed his dad. It was hard enough without him during all this and now he had to worry about him getting hurt or worse. Stiles shuttered at the thought.

"We need to release a statement soon. Sector Five has yet to hear about the bombing and I would like my people to hear about it from us first. Laura, I think you should read the statement."

"Me?" Laura's face paled, eyes still red. Her jaw dropped slightly, lips parted in surprise.

"You are to be mated soon to a prominent member of Sector Forty-Seven, I think it's only right that you deliver the message. A message of concern, support, and strength between the two of us."

"Is this really a time for tactics like this mother?" Laura asked concerned and slightly annoyed.

"Politics will always be politics. By actively showing our support, we can strengthen both of our Sectors."

"Doesn't that also make us an active target though? Most political leaders or otherwise know about the contract between Laura and her betrothed and as soon as we release that to the public, there will not only be uproar due to her officially not competing in the mating run, but also placing a target on our backs. Whoever committed this crime will come for us next." Isaac spoke confidently.

Stiles swallowed. They were in enough danger already, due to their location, strong military, and the odd relationship between Derek and Stiles that had massive coverage everywhere, making many Alphas and Omegas uncomfortable with the change.

"Are you sure Stiles shouldn't do it? I mean given his relationship with Derek, this could be a great opportunity to push our Omega Rights agenda." Laura said.

"Or it could cause even more angry people than there already are." Erica spoke, pulling her hair into a ponytail.

"People are angry?" Stiles asked.

"I love how non-self obsessed you are and all Stiles, but you really got to pick up a magazine every once in a while." Cora sassed.

Laura rolled her eyes. "People don't like change, so yes there are some that are angry. Mostly old school Alphas who are actually just major dicks and should be in jail and Omegas that think that the Omega run or being mated to an Alpha is their only way out of a shitty life."

"Well put." Isaac responded.

Stiles swallowed. "But that's not true. Besides, Derek and I aren't exactly walking around with picket signs."

"No, but the fact that you haven't made any comments to the press, haven't mated, and haven't shown off to anyone speaks for itself."

Stiles made a face. "I thought Omegas were supposed to just be with their Alphas bonding or whatever."

"They are, that's the plan, but most Omegas and Alphas are so narcissistic by that point that they'll do interviews and get spotted by the paparazzi."

"Yeah that already happened once, it was horrible."

Cora snorted. "Yeah I saw those candids, made several front covers in fact."

"Oh God, why?" Stiles cringed.

"Well let's see," Cora began to change her voice "Alpha Derek Hale and newly claimed Omega Stiles Stilinski were spotted on a date in a cute tucked away diner. Stiles had no comment upon exiting the diner, but Alpha Derek Hale sure had something to say, with his menacing red eyes and deep growl that rang through his chest, it was obvious that he wanted more alone time with his Omega. Sources say that Derek is protective and loving their time spent together and they are just taking things slow."

"Hold up, sources? Who the fuck said that?" Stiles asked.

"No one, of course. People can slap the word "source" on anything and say someone said it."

Stiles shook his head, running a hand through his hair.

"But like people aren't actually angry right?"

Talia and her pack exchanged glances. "There have been some. . . arguments some might say. There will always be people who disagree with our movement, but that doesn't mean we will pull back."

"What exactly is your movement Talia?" Stiles asked, leaning back.

"It is not my movement. It's the movement for a better world, one where we can all be treated the same, if that is what we wish. This means that if an Omega chooses and is more comfortable being more submissive in a relationship than they will be able to pursue that without fear of judgement, however, if an Alpha chooses to be more submissive, or be with another Alpha, or even be without anyone, this too will be accepted. A world where everyone can be equal but also celebrate their differences."

Stiles nodded. "Sounds great in theory."

"You say that as if it can never happen."

"I just don't see how it can."

Talia smiled softly. "And yet you're all across the news, magazines, articles, television, and everywhere else in the globe."

"But I haven't done anything!"

"Not much yet, but everyone suspects you will." Talia said.

"You have a voice Stiles, you did before, but now it's even more elevated. You've got the Hale's support and you're mated to one of the most powerful Alphas in the world." Erica spoke up.

"You could change things if you wanted to." Laura spoke.

"You'd have our support." Cora said.

"We'll have your back." Isaac said.

Stiles took a deep shaky breath and licked his lips.

"I didn't sign up to be some political leader or like world organization president."

"You didn't sign up for any of this, as you once told me." Laura spoke.

"We're not asking you to do anything you don't want. We only want to make you aware of the fact that you do have a voice, a very powerful one. People want what you have. They want your life."

Stiles snorted. "No, they want the last week of my life. They don't want anything from my past."

"They don't know about your past. Don't know why you're so different, not the full story anyway. They don't know why you don't want this. But I guarantee that if you were to explain it to them, that there would be more Omegas than not that lived a very similar situation to you. People will rise up, they just need a leader." Talia explained.

"Which is why they have you and Derek and the rest of the pack." Stiles motioned.

"Yes, but we all are missing one important thing."

"I can't imagine what." The Hales had more power than almost anyone in the world and for all Stiles knew they only revealed a slight part of their power to him.

"We're not Omegas."

"I'm not right for any of that."

"Can you name a powerful Omega leader that was ever truly successful, or hell, can you even recall an Omega leader?" Laura asked as Stiles looked away.

"So what, you think that if I give your speech that suddenly Omegas will start fighting for themselves and Alphas will just bow down? And you think that will help things? An Omega shelter just got bombed, and for what? Having different hormones? Different eyes? The ability to produce?" Stiles asked.

"There will be no peace, not for a while, maybe not ever. It will not happen overnight, but the point is that it can start." Talia spoke, leaning forward and lacing her fingers together.

Stiles scoffed, realizing something. This is what Derek was talking about. This is why Talia had thought about choosing Stiles. It really was political.

"I am not my mother Talia." Stiles spoke angrily. The room grew still in shock.

"Yet you remind me of her every day." Talia smiled softly, looking more motherly than Alpha in the moment.

"I just want things to go back to how they were."

"But do you really?" Talia asked. Stiles quieted at that.

Licking his lips, Stiles leaned forward, looking at the pack who all stared back at him. They all had a role, all had importance. Derek clearly did as well, so important he couldn't even be here. Stiles wished that he was, or that his father was here. They would tell him what to do.

But Stiles wanted to feel important. Wanted to feel like he was doing something to help during all this. Wanted to feel like more than someone who was just being babysitted by the Hale's out of obligation. He was no one before and now, strangely, he was someone. He could make a change and truthfully that was scary as shit. Stiles had never been a leader, never had the option and was always more comfortable in the shadows anyways. That was his safe space, don't stand out or you get hurt. But now he had protection, had options. He still feared being hurt, but maybe the chances were lesser now, at least outside of the Hale pack.

"Alright," Stiles turned to Talia. "I'll play politics for a little bit. I'll do your speech. On two conditions."

Talia raised her eyebrows. "Name them."

"You let me say it how I want to and you let me do it in Sector Forty-Seven." He hadn't even fully finished his sentence before the entire erupted into protests.

"Absolutely not."

"That's a terrible idea."

"You'll get killed."

"No!"

"Are you an idiot?"

Talia held up her hand to silence everyone. "Stiles, you know we can't let you do that."

"Why not? You said I had a voice right? You said I could be powerful? What's more powerful of a message than the mate of Alpha Derek Hale in Sector Forty-Seven, delivering a speech about change and unity in the middle of a battle scene, rubble and ash in the background?"

They all remained silent, knowing he had a good point.

"I made a promise to my son, to myself, to your father, and to your mother, to protect you." Talia said.

"And I am protected. I'll be with Derek, or Boyd at the least, or you guys can come with me. I want to do this on my own terms if I am to do it."

Stiles knew that he was right. That this would be powerful. That show-casing how Stiles, the mate of infamous Alpha Derek Hale, was willing to risk his life for change, for Omega rights. For a change. That he would go against his own Alpha's wishes to unite.

"Derek would be furious with me." Talia spoke.

"Then you tell him it was my idea. He'll be angry with me more than you. Besides, if you say that I am like my mother, then you know that I am stubborn and won't change my mind." Stiles smirked and Talia returned the smile.

"I don't like this." Laura spoke.

"Laura." Talia turned to her daughter. "You are to travel with him. Erica and Isaac, you as well. Peter, Cora, and I will stay here in Sector Five."

"Are you sure this is a good idea mother?" Laura asked.

Talia remained silent for a moment. "No." With that, she stood. "I've got to make some calls." She exited the room, leaving the rest of the pack and Stiles.

"This is insane." Laura shook her head.

"What are you so nervous about?" Stiles cocked his head. "You're an Alpha and Talia would never let anything happen to you."

"There are things that even my mother can't protect me from."

"Like your mystery man?" Erica smirked.

Laura groaned. "This puts me one step closer to him. . . but I suppose we were to meet in a few days anyway."

Stiles smiled softly, understanding her nervousness. He too was nervous, as much as he may try to cover it up. He was going to walk into a war zone and talk to a camera that would be broadcasted across the globe. But even so, he was more nervous about Derek finding out, about him seeing him.

"Well this isn't how I exactly planned our first road trip, but here we are." Erica picked at her nails.

"Well I guess this too will be your time to shine, Laura." Isaac smirked.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"Well Derek and Boyd are in Sector Forty-Seven, and you're the only one who has ever flown a plane before."

Laura paled once more. "I'm not flying, I haven't completed my training. I'll get one of Derek's men to bring us down there."

"Oh you mean all of his best men, who he took with him? Yeah go ahead and call him up." Erica joked.

"Oh God, don't, he can't find out." Stiles said.

"Oh so you expect him to just see you on TV then?" Cora asked sarcastically.

"I'll figure out something when we get there."

"You're going to have to figure out something before then. It's not just like Derek won't find out that one of his aircraft is missing."

"Not to mention the fact that he's going to see us in the air and hopefully not shoot us down if he recognizes it's a Sector Five aircraft."

Stiles cringed. This was a terrible idea.

"We'll figure something out. If we can just get there than I can improvise from there."

"I seriously don't think sucking his dick will get you out of this one." Erica said.

"Erica!" Cora yelped.

"Young ears, Er." Isaac groaned as Cora stuck out her tongue, only furthering his point.

Stiles smiled, then looked away in thought. They all had a point. There was no way they could sneak a plane all the way to another sector. They would be gunned down. They would probably be able to get to the base without having to worry, but past that was up in the air. They would need help on the inside.

"Erica? Can I borrow your phone?"

Erica raised an eyebrow. "You really think this is the time for Candy Crush?"

"What the hell is that?" Stiles asked, confused.

"Never mind, here." She handed it to him and Stiles grabbed it quickly.

He began scrolling and looked back up at her. "Don't kill me by the way."

Erica frowned, opening her mouth to question him when Stiles ran out of the room. He opened the first door he saw, and found it was a bathroom, complete with a lock. He quickly locked it and ignored the banging on the door. He was about to do something possibly really stupid.

Hovering over the name, he clicked it and brought the phone to his ear. He wasn't stupid enough to call Derek, but there was someone else who could possibly help them, without getting furious.

The phone rang several times and Stiles really thought that no one would pick it up, which wouldn't be a huge surprise given the circumstances.

"Babe? What's going on-"

"Boyd." Stiles spoke quickly. A new string of uproars and bangs were heard on the door and Stiles had to put a finger in his other ear to try and drown it out?

"Wha-"

"Boyd just listen, I need your help." God he prayed Derek wasn't around to hear him. "I need to get into Sector Forty-Seven."

"No, St-"

"Just listen! I'm going to deliver a speech, a pretty fucking important one in Sector Forty-Seven. If you are going to go head first to get yourself blown up, I need to do my part too, okay?"

"It worse than we thought, Stiles. It isn't safe for you here." Stiles hoped that Boyd wasn't stupid enough to say his name with Derek around.

"Are you alone?" Stiles asked.

"Of course I am, you seriously think I would pick up the phone around Derek? If he even heard your name he would freak, he's barely holding it together as is."

Stiles wanted to question that, but didn't have time. It sounded like the pack had begun to split wood.

"Look, I know we don't know each other very well, but we need to get into Sector Forty-Seven, it's important. Talia knows, she doesn't like it, but it doesn't matter. And I need to sneak an aircraft out somehow, and most importantly, I need Derek to not know about this."

Boyd was quiet for a while.

"Boyd?"

"Stiles, I can get you the aircraft, but Jesus, when Derek finds out. . ."

"I can't worry about that right now. Please, just don't tell him."

"I could never do that to him. . . but I swear to God Stiles, if you or Erica, or-"

"We will be fine, Boyd. I need to do this. And I. . . I need to see him, okay?" Stiles rested his head against the cool wall and the banging ceased.

"I just need to know he is okay and I need to be there, so just please get us there, okay?"

Boyd remained quiet for a moment. "Okay. I can get you here, but everything that happens afterwards is up to you. The moment that plane lands, this might all be over."

Stiles swallowed. He wasn't sure what Derek's reaction would be.

"That's all I need."

"Alright. . . I'm going to get you on a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. I'll make some calls after this. Get to the base, find Major Wilson, he'll know what to do. When you get on, stay quiet. Derek controls all air traffic, but as far as he is going to know, his stubborn sister decided to come and deliver the speech, that was the first plan anyways."

Stiles was pretty sure this was the most Boyd had ever spoken and his tone made Stiles want to say yes sir.

"Okay and Laura knows how to fly?"

Boyd chuckled. "She knows enough. I won't be able to send you the coordinates or communicate with you after this phone call, Derek is already suspicious enough as is. Just get here Stiles and make it fast. I don't know how much longer I can hold him off."

"What? What do you mean?-"

Stiles was cut off by several loud bangs.

"I gotta go!" Boyd yelled. "You get my girl here safe!"

"Wha- Boyd!" Stiles shouted, but the line went dead. Stiles looked down at the phone to confirm and swallowed. Those sounded like shots. It truly must have been worse than what they thought.

"Stiles?" Isaac called softly. Stiles approached the door, unlocking it slowly to reveal a tearful Erica.

"You fucking idiot!" Erica yelled, punching Stiles in the arm. Stiles hissed, grabbing his arm, though he was sure that she had held back.

"That was reckless!" Laura snapped.

"No, it was quite smart." Peter murmured from behind them.

"How long have you been there?" Isaac asked. Peter only smirked in response.

"Fucking creep." Erica snapped. "Regardless, that was dumb. You're going to get us all killed."

"Or, I just saved all of our asses from getting shot down." Stiles crossed his arms, shoving past them all to get out of the bathroom.

"Either way, Derek is going to know." Cora shrugged, taking a seat.

"Not until we touch down."

Peter snorted, taking a seat as well, and propping his feet up on the table. "You think that Derek won't find out? The Alpha who controls the entire fucking military? You think he'll see one of his planes in the air and think nothing of it?"

"Well he won't shoot us down, Boyd will at least stop him from doing that." Erica said.

Peter snorted. "He will know as soon as you step foot onto the base. Derek has eyes everywhere. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if he has a tracker on you right this very moment."

"Why are you so convinced this will go South, you got a plan of your own?" Stiles asked.

"Hardly. I simply know what it's like to be an Alpha, regardless of your previous accusations, and I know Derek."

"How so?"

"I know that he is obsessed with you. Was ever since he saw your file. I know that Derek took most of his best men with him, but left some here on purpose, because he's smart, he's strategic, and he doesn't trust that you won't try something. You haven't completed the bond and let's just say Derek is beginning to get desperate, meaning that having you out of his site is becoming physically painful for him."

Stiles paled, mouth going dry.

"Stop it, Peter." Laura snapped.

"What? I am simply informing dear Stiles of things the rest of you won't." Peter quickly popped his feet down to the floor again, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees.

"You think it was easy for Derek to leave you like that? I guarantee he lost his lunch as soon as he stepped on the base. I bet he's had difficulty breathing ever since. You think Derek is this perfect Alpha for not fucking you yet, but you don't even know that you're killing him."

"Peter!" Laura roared, eyes red. Peter only saw it as a challenge and stood quickly, flashing his own red eyes.

"The minute you step on that base, Derek will know. Someone will tell him and he will be waiting. And as soon as the plane lands-"

"Peter, I am warning you." Laura threatened. At this point, all the wolves were in a defensive stance, preparing for a fight behind their Alpha, at least while Talia was out of the room.

"Tell me." Stiles asked, voice thick.

Peter stepped up to Stiles. "As soon as you step off that plane, Derek will be on you, more furious than you've ever seen before. And he'll never forgive you."

Stiles' eyes threatened to brim with tears, but he refused to let them fall, not in front of Peter.

"He's going to be happy to see him after his initial shock, you know that." Laura snapped.

Peter snorted. "Yeah I'd say. You're lucky if he doesn't bend you over right then and there."

If Stiles could have growled he would have. "This is going to work."

Peter smirked. "Oh you'll get your precious message on TV. Talia will make sure of that. But as for what happens after that?" Peter raised an eyebrow.

"Let's tackle one thing at a time." Isaac said, trying to calm the pack down.

Peter hummed. "Good luck Stiles, I'd get going if I were you."

"And why's that?" Stiles asked. He didn't trust Peter. His tone was even more off than usual. He was up to something.

"Talia has finished up some calls which means that the whole world is preparing to hear you speak. And it also means you now have an even larger target on your back. People are going to try and stop you from getting to the Sector. I'd get a head start."

Stiles looked back at the pack, who looked concerned. It was the truth.

"Okay. Let's go then. Can't get killed before we've even gotten started."

With that, the pack moved. Laura grabbed all the important documents on the table, preparing to bring them with her. Erica quickly left the room, shouting behind her that she had to change.

Once the papers were stacked neatly, Laura also left the room.

Cora remained seated at the table, sulking and Stiles tried to control his breathing.

Isaac placed a hand on Stiles' shoulder. "This is going to work."

"It has to."

Both of the girls came back a few moments later. Erica was wearing tight fitting black jeans and a busty top, hair up and hoops in. She sported chunky black boots that, for once, were not heeled. Laura was wearing a uniform of sort, similar to Derek's, but with much fewer weapons. She too was wearing black laced up boots like Derek's and was fiddling with her pocket. Isaac grabbed a jacket and threw one at Stiles. Upon catching it, Stiles instantly recognized it as Derek's leather one. He hadn't even seen him snag it.

Without hesitation, Stiles slipped it on and the scent instantly comforted him.

Talia entered the room, smiling softly.

"Please be careful, all of you. I still don't like this-"

"Mom, we'll be fine, promise."

Talia swallowed. "I already worry about your brother." Talia turned to look at Stiles. "Take care of him Stiles, he needs you, especially during all this." Stiles wasn't entirely sure what she meant by that, but nodded anyway.

Soon they began to embrace, saying their goodbyes. Even Cora got up and hugged everyone, including Stiles. Only Peter was gone.

"Okay." Stiles spoke. They all turned to him. "Let's do this."

They headed toward the garage and all piled into a big SUV that fit them all, Erica driving once again. Laura sat in the back with Stiles and kept wringing her hands nervously. Stiles had never seen her so nervous.

They backed out of the garage and were soon on the road. Erica quickly made a call to Major Wilson, who simply said he was ready for them. Erica slipped on sunglasses and pressed on the gas as they flew down the highway.

The radio was not turned on and no one would speak. As Stiles looked out the window at the trees, he was reminded of his trip to the Hale Mansion, how the trees were the same. He could have never guessed that those would have been much simpler times compared to now.

As much as he tried to not let it bother him, he worried about what Peter said. He knew that Omegas and Alphas were supposed to remain together, but he had never heard of the consequences of not doing so, most likely because it was so rare for them to be separated. Maybe it was because of that, or maybe because Alphas didn't like to reveal their weaknesses. Stiles thought it was kind of funny in a way that Alphas were Omega's weaknesses, making them quiver just from their scent, and it turns out that Omega's are Alpha's weaknesses. Stiles was Derek's weakness. And this was dangerous, especially after such an event. Stiles knew that Derek had to be as strong and as prepared as possible during times like these and especially after Stiles' speech. For all he knew, he could start a war.

Stiles feared for his friends, now pack. For his father. For Derek. For his own life. He thought that his fears had already come true, that his life had forever changed. He didn't realize how wrong he was.

His life would never be the same.

Chapter Text

Stiles tried his best to remain calm. That was going to be his goal, to not freak out. He had to be calm, for himself, for the pack, for Derek, and for the world. He had to look like everything was going to be okay, that he was certain. It was now his job to not only comfort his Alpha, but to comfort the world that things would get better, that things were changing for the better. 

Pulling through the gates of the air base however, he couldn't deny the hammering of his heart in his chest. 

Erica parked quickly, jolting them all forward as she slammed on the breaks, but they were all halfway out the car before it was even in park. Major Wilson ran to them quickly, speaking directly to Laura, and then turning to Stiles.

"Alpha Hale, Mr. Stilinski, everything is booted up for you, she's ready to go. I spoke to General Boyd, he's ready for you." Wilson stopped walking at the entrance of the plane. He seemed relatively calm, but more awake than Stiles had seen him before. 

"I gotta say, I don't like this, Laura." He looked at her, deep concern in his eyes. Stiles could have sworn there was more than just a concern in his voice.

"I know, I'm not sure I do either." She swallowed. "This is going to work." She said to Major Wilson, though it seemed she was reassuring herself, nodding and looking at her feet.

Major Wilson gave a brief not. "I've contacted Sector Forty-Seven, they'll be expecting your arrival in their air base. General Boyd said they aren't far from the location, hope that gives you enough time." Wilson glanced at Stiles this time.

Everyone seemed to be dead set that something would happen as soon as they landed. Stiles began to wonder how much of a possibility that was.

Laura looked behind her, swallowing in fear at the plane, as everyone else had already boarded.

Major Wilson placed a hand on her shoulder, comforting. "You're ready for this."

Laura nodded sternly with a shaky breath, mind made up. She could do this.

Major Wilson stepped back as Laura stepped on to the plane quickly, presumably before she could change her mind. Stiles knew the feeling.

Stiles started to step up, before he paused and turned back.

"Any word?" Stiles knew he didn't have to clarify, Wilson knew exactly what he was talking about.

He shook his head. "I haven't heard anything from him since he left," Wilson gave him a look. "My ass is on the line here Stiles-"

"I know." He nodded. "Thank you, Major Wilson."

"Yes sir." Wilson returned to his stoic position, and Stiles boarded the plane.

Everyone was already strapped in and ready, Laura already talking into her headset. Stiles took the seat next to her, surprised it wasn't already filled. He had no time to be nervous about the flight, or more specifically, Laura's ability to fly the damn thing.

"You know how to fly this thing, right?" Isaac asked, looking pale. Stiles was thankful someone else had asked. He gripped on to his seat belt, allowing it to cut into him. 

"I've flown many times, it's simultaneously using the guns on the side that I struggle with." Laura said, flicking several buttons and switches.

Stiles wasn't sure if that made him feel better or worse. Would they have to use guns? Were they literally headed into battle?  

"Well let's just hope we won't have to use them." Erica muttered. Though she tried to conceal it, worry was written all over her face, along with fierce determination. 

He had no idea what he would face when they landed. He knew Boyd was close, but he didn't know if that meant Boyd was at some base, or if they were going to be near the bombing site. Boyd had also said it was worse than what they had thought, and who knew what that meant.

Stiles grabbed the documents from Laura's bag, looking over them as they ascended into the air. He briefly heard Erica snort, presumably at Isaac's fear, but ignored it in favor of looking over the document. There was already a typed out statement for him to read off, but he made faces reading it.

"This doesn't sound anything like me." Stiles spoke. It was formal, democratic. 

"They never sound human, too official. Just read it off and we can get the hell out of dodge." Laura spoke, clearly wanting to get this over with. 

Stiles shook his head. "If I am doing this, I'm doing this my way, I won't read from a piece of paper that some politicians typed out for me. It's not me, it's not real."

Laura looked at Stiles. "Are you sure that's a good idea? People are expecting something clean cut, reassuring. Something that makes people know that Sector Five is not backing down. Something that sounds official."

"People don't need to know that. People need to know omegas will not back down. That we won't give up. That things are going to change. That's the whole point, the whole message. Now is the time."

The plane grew quiet, the humming of the engines the only thing audible.

"Make sure to include that, damn." Erica finally spoke up. Stiles snorted, but gave a brief nod. He had told Alpha Talia Hale that the only way he would do this is if he got to do it his way, he wasn't about to break that promise.

"We're touching down, here we go." Laura's voice shook ever so slightly, but she looked strong as hell, face set and hands gripping tight. She looked like her brother.

Stiles stood up straighter as their wheels touched down, looking around him. The landing was pretty smooth, considering Laura's lack of experience. He squinted through the windshield, seeing something in the distance in front of them, annoyed it took a while for the plane to slow down, though he knew it was still coming in hot.

As they got closer, he saw it looked like a building, and maybe a few tents set up. Soon he was able to see people, who quickly stood up after spotting them. Stiles heart began to pound as he noticed the people were moving, running towards them, no, sprinting towards them. 

"Oh fuck." Stiles said, standing and then taking a step back subconsciously as the plane continued to roll forward slowly, cautiously. 

"I think they're ours." Laura spoke, as if that was supposed to calm him down. She and the others joined Stiles, quickly undoing their seat belts and standing.

"Then why the fuck are they running at us like that?" Erica asked, pulling a gun out of its holster, strapped to her thigh. What was going on?

The plane stopped abruptly, Laura cutting it short. They jolted, catching themselves from falling, but otherwise paid no mind to it. Quickly, the wolves jumped out, as there were no stairs. Stiles figured there was no reason to be scared of heights now, and jumped as well, Laura helping to catch him.

They turned quickly towards the people, still running at them, and now shouting and waving. They were all dressed in military uniforms and under closer inspection, it was revealed they were indeed their men. Stiles still wasn't sure if this meant he wasn't supposed to be afraid or not. What was causing them to run towards them, looking panicked?

"Alpha Hale!" A man screamed, leading the pack, sprinting as hard as he could. Laura quickly began to run to meet him, and the rest soon followed. If Laura trusted him, then so did Stiles and the rest of the pack.

"You must come quick!" The man spoke out of breath, but he was speaking to Stiles, not Laura.

"Wha-" Stiles began, out of breath and shaking his head in confusion.

"Please hurry, they are barely holding him off!" The man spoke, taking off running again, presumably leading them. 

"Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck!" Erica yelled, as they all took off.

"What's happening?" Stiles asked, hoping for a response from anyone as they ran towards the unknown. 

Laura shook her head, eyes red. "I knew this would happen. Stupid fucking idiot!" He spat. 

Stiles still didn't know entirely what was going on, but didn't ask any further questions, it was clear this was about Derek. Had something happened to him? Was he hurt? What did they mean hold him off, was that about Derek, or someone else? Thoughts raced through his mind as he tried to keep up with the soldier.

The man stopped, a few hundred yards away from the buildings and tents set up outside, trying to catch his breath. 

"Ms. Reyes, I need you to follow me." Another man spoke from the side, and Erica quickly went with him, Isaac joining her.

Was this about Boyd, was he okay? Stiles' face went pale. Were they all hurt? Where things really this bad? He needed to see Derek, to know he was okay.

They walked towards the building slowly, almost cautiously, and Stiles opened his mouth to ask a question about where they were going when a roar was let out. It shook the walls, rattled his chest, and made him drop to his knees, as did every other solider in a ten mile radius. He covered his ears quickly, squinting his eyes shut at the noise. He knew without a doubt that it was Derek.

Stiles looked up and saw the door ripped off. Men clung to Derek, trying to hold him back, but it was not working. Derek shook with rage, eyes a brighter red than Stiles had ever seen, fully beta shifted, shirt ripped and covered in blood. Was it his own, or someone else's?

Stiles swallowed in fear as the men were thrown off of him, crashing into the walls as rubble fell beside them. The solider who led them quickly ran up to Derek, hands held up in surrender, but was grabbed by the throat and thrown across the air base, his body landing with a thud against the concrete.

"Stiles, listen very carefully to me." Laura slowly stood up and Stiles followed the action, now back on his feet, unlike everyone else in a ten mile radius.

Derek began to take off at a full sprint towards them, eyes staring into Stiles'.

"Whatever you do, don't run." Laura spoke slowly, quietly.

"What?" Stiles whispered, though loudly. He had a two hundred pound Alpha werewolf sprinting towards him, and he was expected to not run? What kind of plan was that?

"Listen to me. Don't run. He won't hurt you." She spoke.

"Doesn't fucking look like it- Laura!" He whispered again, as Laura took off at a full speed sprint away from Stiles, running the opposite direction, leaving Stiles completely alone. So what, she could run, but he couldn't?

He gulped as Derek was near, only a few feet away from him, and within seconds Stiles was pinned to the ground, on his back, but somehow it didn't hurt, perhaps Derek braced him for the fall. Even so, Stiles held his breath. Immediately, Derek's mouth was on his throat, biting at his previous mark from being claimed. He growled deep, making them both vibrate. He ran his hand underneath Stiles' shirt, needed to feel his skin, to know this was real, to calm him.

Stiles slowly and cautiously placed a hand on Derek's back, feeling the Alpha release some of his tension slowly. This wasn't what he expected, though he wasn't sure what to expect.

"Okay." Stiles spoke, not knowing what to do or say. He was being pinned down by an Alpha who looked like he wanted to murder everyone in site. Stiles remained as still as possible, unsure what to do in this situation. Laura had said he wouldn't hurt him, and so far he hadn't.

"Stiles." Derek finally spoke after a few minutes. His voice sounded absolutely wrecked, destroyed.

"Hey." Stiles heart sunk hearing him like that and the fear began to slip away. Derek wasn't angry, not at Stiles, not yet anyways. 

Derek seemed to whimper, burying his head impossibly closer into Stiles' neck. The man had no intentions of harming Stiles, but rather, desperately needed to be with him. He was worried. Laura had told him not to run because she knew this, but also knew her sticking around could get them both in trouble.

"We gotta get up, big guy." Stiles rubbed Derek's back and Derek growled softly, unlike his previous menacing growl.

Derek pulled back slowly, still on top of Stiles, still pinning him down. His eyes still glowed red and his fangs protruded sharply, but he looked slightly less crazy.

"You're not supposed to be here." Derek snapped. There was the anger.

"What, you're not happy to see me?" Stiles smirked. Derek only growled. Clearly his attempt to lighten to mood had not worked.

"Your ass is getting back on that plane." Derek growled, glaring harder.

Stiles pushed Derek slightly and was thankful that Derek listened to his silent request, getting off of him. They both stood and Stiles kept a fair distance from Derek, annoyed and still slightly afraid. While the Hale's constantly tried their best to break Stiles' fear of Alphas, it was still there, it the back of his mind. Ever looming.

"No, I'm not." Stiles crossed his arms.

Derek smirked, surprising Stiles, but it wasn't playful, it was menacing. He was clearly pissed off, and determined. 

"You are getting back on that plane." It was a statement. An order, full of authority. 

Stiles took a step up to Derek. "When have I ever listened to the orders of an Alpha?" Stiles spat, walking around Derek, further into the base. Unsurprisingly, Derek grabbed him, but Stiles tore his hand out of Derek's.

"You broke your promise." Stiles spat, tears in his eyes. He was angry.

Derek's face dropped. "Stiles-"

"You promised you wouldn't hurt me, you promised honesty. You lied. You lied Derek." A tear began to fall but Stiles swiped at it angrily. He didn't want Derek to see him like this. He wasn't sad, well maybe a little, but every other emotion in this moment was covered by his anger. His disappointment. He wanted to desperately for Derek to be different.

"I have a duty Stiles, I-" Derek began.

"Yeah? So do I. Believe it or not, asshole, I didn't just come for you." Derek didn't need to know that one of the reasons Stiles wanted to give the speech here was to be close to Derek, to know he was okay. Not in this moment anyways. Not when Stiles was so fueled with anger.

Derek's face screwed up in confusion. "What are you talking about?" He took a step closer, looking angry once more. 

"How did you find out we were coming?" Stiles asked. In the back of his mind, he knew he would find out, he knew it couldn't be that easy, especially after Erica had said that Derek overheard about Stiles' little freak out earlier.

"It's not that hard when you run the entire goddamn military, Stiles. I knew as soon as your ass boarded the plane." Derek crossed his arms. 

"And yet I still got here." Stiles cocked an eyebrow. Derek knew they were coming, and didn't stop them. What did that mean?

Derek clenched his jaw. "Guess I don't have as much self restraint as I thought." He looked mad at himself, breaking his gaze with Stiles to glare at his shoes. 

He wanted Stiles here. If he truly didn't want him here, he could have prevented it. Hell, he could have just locked up Stiles for the rest of eternity if he wanted to. Yet here Stiles was, on a dangerous, top secret, military base, preparing to do something oh so stupid. 

"Alright then," Derek waved a hand, motioning Stiles up and down, as he took a step closer. "What's your plan then? Huh? What, you want me to hand you a gun and say 'go get em babe?' What're you planning?" Derek crossed his arms, growing visibly annoyed. 

Stiles rolled his eyes. "God, it really pisses you off when people don't listen to you, doesn't it?" Underneath Derek's desire to be equals, his sweet words and kind gestures, he still was a fucking Alpha.

"No Stiles, it pisses me off that people I care about are so fucking reckless." Derek stepped even closer.

"Stiles!" Laura shouted, motioning for him to come quick. But Stiles wasn't quite done, and clearly neither was Derek. 

"You think I like that you just ran out here, without any second thoughts? You just left me like it was nothing." Stiles spat. The thought briefly crossed his mind that a few days ago, that would have seemed like a blessing, getting the Alpha to leave him. He still wasn't a fan of the idea that he now seemed so dependent on the Alpha for his safety, for his well-being. He had never depended on anyone except himself and his dad before. 

Derek growled, inches away from Stiles. "You think that was nothing? That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my fucking life, Stiles."

Stiles thought back to what Peter said, about how leaving Omegas could hurt Alphas. He wondered to what extent, but was so furious he wasn't sure he cared. He hoped Derek had suffered while he was gone.

"You think I wanted to leave you, especially like that? I know what I did Stiles, I'm aware every minute that you're away from me. I didn't fucking like it, but I'd do it again over and over if it meant keeping you safe."

"I'm safe when I'm with you, like it or not. And I'm doing this, you can't stop me." He hated admitting it. Hated knowing that that was the truth, that they needed to be close. 

Derek clinched his jaw, slowly raising his hand and placing it gently on Stiles' cheek, mood shifting. Stiles was a little taken aback at the gesture. Regardless of Derek's anger, and the words he had spoken previously, the Alpha did have a lot of control. In this society, that kind of backtalk could have gotten Stiles killed.

"You are the most stubborn person I have ever met." Derek shook his head.

Stiles smirked. "Get used to it buddy." He was still pissed. Still had so many questions. But he knew that in this moment, they needed to be united, not to fight. They could save that for later. 

Derek smiled in return, eyes finally melting back to their stunning green. He rested his forehead on Stiles', breathing deep.

"I'm never going to have the strength to be away from you, not now." He whispered. 

"Then don't." Stiles spoke, melting. Stiles didn't care about how dangerous things were, he had lived in some sort of danger his whole life. He just needed to know that Derek would be okay, that he could see him, be with him. It made him feel stupid, clingy, like a poor little Omega, but he couldn't deny that that was how he felt. Not to mention the blatant terror he felt being away from the Hales, especially now, with everything going on. They were his safety. 

"Stiles!" Laura called again, louder this time. 

Stiles turned to look at her, nodding that he was coming.

"What do you have up your sleeve?" Derek asked, still concerned. Stiles doubted that would change.

"If I tell you, you aren't going to like it." Stiles said, looking away. 

"I don't like the fact that you're standing in front of me right now." Derek rolled his eyes. 

Stiles smiled. "I at least won't go in guns a blazing, promise." As if Stiles even knew how to shoot a gun, or use the technology the Hale pack had. He'd get himself killed.

Derek nodded, looking to one of the soldiers on the ground, regaining consciousness.

"Shit." Derek groaned. It was almost as though he had just realized what he had done, like he had snapped out of it. That brought up yet another question for Stiles, whether shifting for Alphas, or at least as Derek just had, was a sort of altered state. He had so many for Derek, so many about Alphas. He had never wanted to know before, never put in the effort to know more than the fact that they were knot-heads. Assholes. Perhaps Stiles' own ideas of things had began to change as well. Perhaps they had to. 

"Yeah, you did a number, no wonder you run the military." Stiles snorted. The all mighty, powerful Alpha Derek Hale. He thought back to the times he would here about Derek. The old men in his Sector praising the young soldier, the men and women gushing. The teenagers wanting to be like him. The kids playing Prince Derek on the playground. 

Derek looked embarrassed. "I've got to go apologize, I'll meet you in a few, don't do anything stupid. . . please." 

"You either." Stiles spoke, clinching his jaw. He needed him safe, protected. If Derek was okay, then Stiles would be too. But it wasn't all fear based. Stiles wanted Derek to be okay. 

Derek nodded, jogging off to help up the solider, as Stiles turned to join up with Laura, who gave him a frown, left eyebrow raised. Hales and their stupid eyebrows.

"Took you long enough." She said, arms crossed. 

"We uh, had some things to discuss." Stiles cleared his throat. He was no longer angry, annoyed sure, but there wasn't time to be angry.

"Yeah, I could tell by the angry glares. Did you work it out?" She asked.

"Kinda." Stiles replied. He wasn't sure how Derek would react when he found out what Stiles was going to do, hell, he wasn't sure how the world would react, but he was here now, and he wasn't leaving. 

They began to walk, Laura leading them towards a dark green tent set up on the side of the building.

"Is Boyd okay?" Stiles asked.

"Yeah, he's going to be fine." Laura said, no lie in her voice. 

"So he was hurt then, what happened?" Stiles grew instantly concerned.

"We'll talk about that later, we gotta talk about something else first." She held the tent opening for him and they both entered, taking a seat at a wooden table, already occupied by two very important looking military men.

"Stiles, this is General Mason, and General Ford."

"Sir," They both spoke, nodding their hands and shaking his hand firmly. They all took a seat and Laura pulled out some documents.

"Well boys, there has been a change." She laced her fingers together, watching as they glanced at each other. It was clear Laura was in charge of this meeting, not them. It made Stiles smirked. He loved a good feminist. 

"I'm not going to be giving the statement, Stiles will be." She spoke, eyebrows slightly raised, waiting for them to argue, so that she could shut them down. 

"Will all due respect, Alpha Hale-"

"Don't think I don't know about your opinions, General Ford. I may still be in training, but I can kick your ass out of this army before you can say powdered eggs. You may keep your opinions to yourself." Stiles raised his eyebrows and stifled a smirk.

"Now then," Laura opened her bag, pulling out several documents. The next few moments Stiles tuned out, they were just talking politics, things that had nothing to do with Stiles and that truthfully not only confused him, but also bored him. 

Stiles heard a noise and looked to the tent entrance, before Erica came in, looking frazzled, face red and splotchy, hair a frizzy mess. 

"Sorry!" She spoke as fast as she could, seemingly trying to block the entrance, before she was pushed out of the way by a very angry looking Alpha.

"You are not giving a speech in the middle of a fucking war-zone on national television." Derek spat. His red eyes had returned. So he had heard.

"Global actually." Laura muttered sitting back, amused.

"Not helping." Stiles sang nervously, his leg bouncing. 

"I can assure you, Alpha Hale, that Stiles will be well protected and-" One of the men spoke.

"Get the fuck out." He glared, flashing his eyes and snapping his jaw.

The men got up and quickly left, leaving just the three of them, tension high once again. Arguing was sure to ensue. 

"Derek-" Laura sighed, leaning forward sympathetically. 

"Don't start Laura!" Derek snapped, pointing at her. 

"Derek, he's doing this. He can do this-" She started.

"That's not the point-" Derek began.

"Would everyone shut up and let me speak for myself for once?" Stiles asked, silencing their bickering. Laura looked at him in surprise, but Derek just clamped his mouth shut. 

"You weren't even supposed to know about this, but clearly Erica can't keep quiet." Stiles began, annoyed. But it wasn't her fault. It was going to come out eventually, and it would probably be best the Derek knew before seeing it on live television. 

Derek looked at him, wearing an expression Stiles couldn't recognize. "What ever happened to honesty?"

Stiles frowned. "That isn't fair and you know it." Honesty. They promised each other that. They had both broken their promises

Derek looked away for a moment, before walking over taking a seat next to Stiles, running a hand through his hair. 

"Look, I know the dangers, trust me, I wasn't too keen on the idea at first either, but Derek. . . you and your pack claim to want to fight for what's right, I do too. I'm tired of sitting back, watching this all happen. Boyd said it was worse than what you thought out there, even more reason for me to do this. Me standing where the bombing happened, where Omegas were killed? It shows that we aren't afraid, that we want to fight, that we won't back down. I've never had a voice before, but I've finally got the choice to use it." Stiles spoke.

Derek swallowed, looking away. Stiles couldn't read his expression. 

"He's right, little brother. His message will be ten times more powerful than mine could ever be. An Omega giving a speech on a hate crime committed on innocent Omegas? That's powerful." Laura shook her head.

Derek shook his head in return, not knowing what to say. Stiles had no doubt he was conflicted. The Hales had proven they were for change, but allowing a newly bonded Omega to do such a thing, to put them at risk, was scary for an Alpha. But then again, Derek was no ordinary Alpha, and this was no ordinary situation, so Stiles wondered if Derek felt this way.

"I'm going to go get ready." Laura placed a hand on Stiles shoulder, before exiting the tent, giving them some privacy. The tent grew quiet. 

"I know you don't like this-" Stiles started.

"That's not it, Stiles." Derek stood quickly, running a hand through his hair. "I know why you're doing this. It's smart, it's bold, it's a fantastic plan, truly I applaud you and my mother." He sneered.

"Then what's the issue?" Stiles asked. 

Derek snorted, turning his back and shaking his head, like it was obvious.

"I can't lose you Stiles."

"Derek-"

"You haven't seen it out there, Boyd's right, it is worse out there than what we thought it would be. This wasn't just an angry group this was. . . planned out. Sophisticated. Boyd was shot today, right in front of my eyes. They attacked us, just for coming near the bombing site. I can't let you near there."

Stiles stood, worried for Boyd and shocked at the situation, but not ready to back down. He walked up behind Derek slowly, placing a hand on his back.

"Just get me close, that's all I ask. Derek. . . this could change everything. This could change history. Come with me, help me do this, please." Stiles was practically begging. The whole reason this came about was because of the Hales. No one would listen to some random Omega. But the Omega of Alpha Derek Hale? That person had a voice. He couldn't do it without him.

Derek turned to Stiles, face set sternly. Stiles was afraid it was in determination to say no.

"I won't lose you." He spoke, certain.

"You won't, promise." Stiles returned.

Derek nodded, with a sigh, and grabbed Stiles quickly, crushing him in a hug, burying in his neck once again, but only briefly, before pulling away, taking Stiles with him. Stiles had a feeling he would never get out of Derek's site again.

Derek led him to another tent, marked as a medical tent. He opened it, revealing several men, all laid down on small cots, some wrapped in bandages, others still being tended to. Some barely breathing. 

"Boyd!" Stiles called, spotting him in the back, Erica near his side.

"Hey kid." Boyd gruffed out, a doctor stitching up his shoulder. He would be healed soon, but the doctor was trying to rush the process. 

"What the fuck happened?" Stiles asked, exasperated. 

Boyd looked to Derek, communicating something. Derek gave a brief nod towards Boyd and wrapped his arm around Stiles' back, pulling him closer, comforting him. 

Erica held Boyd's hand, looking like she had been crying, and Isaac looked at the floor. They had heard this story before. 

"Earlier today we went to look for civilians, we got several out. They were all Omega and Beta, some workers, some just on the streets as it happened. So far, we have found no survivors. . ." Boyd hissed as the final stitch was finished.

"There was a man there, we found him unconscious. A few hours ago, he came to." Boyd looked at Derek again, almost as if he was asking permission to continue.

"He was an Alpha." Boyd finished.

Stiles sucked in a breath. "Do you think he was someone involved?"

"We've been trying to get him to talk, but. . . he won't give much up. The only thing he told us were that there 'were more.' We weren't sure if he meant civilians, Omegas, or Alphas. So we went back. When we arrived, we headed towards the site, like before, but we were stopped before we could even get a clear view of the building."

"They attacked you. . ." Stiles spoke. Boyd gave a nod, slipping back on his shirt once the doctor was officially finished.

"We weren't ready, but we will be next time." Boyd looked stern, determined, and Stiles just nodded.

"Thank you." Stiles said to Boyd, who only nodded in return. Stiles wasn't sure what else he could say.

"It's a good thing you came when you did, it was one of the only reasons I got you here." Boyd spoke, smirking at Derek, who huffed a sigh and looked away, almost looking embarrassed.

"What do you mean?" Stiles asked. 

The whole pack laughed and Stiles looked away nervously, clearly not keyed in. 

"We'll let Derek answer that," Laura spoke, coming in the tent and giving Boyd a smile, thankful he was okay. 

"Stiles, we need to start getting you ready." She jerked her head to the side, motioning for him to come with her. 

"Right." Stiles nodded, both Derek and he following Laura, while the rest of the pack stayed behind with Boyd. Stiles hoped he healed soon. 

They arrived at another tent, and by the scent, this one was Derek's. It was overwhelmingly strong. Musky, dark, and. . . Derek.

"I left you a couple outfit choices in there, along with the written statement. Whether you choose to read it or not, I'll stand with you, whatever you have to say." Laura pressed her hand against his cheek, smiling softly before leaving them.

Derek and Stiles both entered the tent and Stiles looked at the suit laid out on Derek's bed, sighing. He supposed it made sense he had to look presentable. Beside it however, was another outfit, unexpected. 

Stiles was suddenly very aware of the eyes on the back of his head, and turned back to Derek.

"I know you don't like me doing this, but. . . thank you." Stiles spoke. For a moment, he had to put himself in Derek's shoes, it was only fair. He knew this couldn't be easy on him. 

Derek smiled softly, shaking his head. "Stiles, I am so incredibly amazed by you. Everyday I am more thankful that I chose you." He sounded almost. . . proud.

Stiles' face turned red.

"I want you safe. . . but I also want you happy. I can't stop you, I won't." Derek shook his head, swallowing. "I'll get you there, but I swear to God, if anything happens-"

"It won't, you have to trust me. Besides, you'll be there, right?" Stiles realized how much that meant to him. That Derek said he wouldn't stop Stiles. It further proved the ideal that Derek respected Stiles as an equal. That he had rights. That he could do as he pleased. 

"As if I would ever let you out of my sight again." Derek growled.

Stiles chuckled. "It was that bad huh? And here I thought I was being dramatic." There was no doubt that Stiles had been freaking out, but he grew a little red at the realization he just admitted that to Derek. 

The tip of Derek's ears turned red and he broke eye contact. "I. . . struggled."

Stiles hummed. "Yes well, 'Stiles hurry we can barely hold him off,' screamed at me by running soldiers was not the exact thing I expected to hear when stepping off the plane."

Derek scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. 

"So," Stiles turned, grabbing the suit and holding it up, looking at it and making a face. "What did Boyd mean by what he said a few minutes ago?"

Derek growled lowly, and Stiles turned to look at him. It was clear Stiles didn't need to elaborate.

"We'll talk about that after your statement." Derek spat. There was a whole lot of that going around. 'We'll talk about it later.'

Stiles smiled. "Alright fine, but you're not getting out of this one."

"I have no doubt." Derek groaned, removing his shirt, still covered in now dry blood. Stiles tried to look away, but didn't, watching Derek's muscle flex as he changed his clothes, back into a menacing all black combat uniform. He was slightly terrifying, definitely intimidating, and incredibly hot. 

"Take a picture, it'll last longer." Derek spoke, strapping weapons to himself quickly. 

"Shut up." Stiles muttered, face red, as he turned to look at the other outfit Laura had picked out. To his surprise, it was a combat uniform, just like Derek's. He considered the suit, he didn't feel like he was right to wear the uniform being that he was a measly Omega, but then again, he wanted to change things up. People were expecting a message from a powerful political Alpha in a fancy suit, not a nobody Omega in a military uniform. He didn't want to look wealthy, or powerful in a political sense, he wanted to look strong and powerful, in a different sense.

Stiles grabbed the uniform, going behind a wardrobe to change. He slipped on everything, quickly learning it was all super tight and very heavy. There were some weapons already attached, small things like knives and bullets, but he was thankful he didn't have to try and figure out where to strap down the other kinds of guns all the others had. He hoped that as long as he had the Hale's, he wouldn't need them, at least for today.

He left the gloves off and laced up his boots. He looked down at the statement, grimacing once more. He didn't want to say anything on that paper. He wondered how Talia would feel when she heard his message, he hoped he didn't upset her too much. That was one of the last people he wanted to upset.

He stepped out from the wardrobe, still reading the rest of the statement, before he looked up at Derek, noticing the silence.

"What?" Stiles asked, watching at Derek's nostrils flared, almost looking angry, but there was something else there. 

Derek swallowed. "Nothing, I'll meet you out there." With that, he quickly left the tent. Stiles furrowed his brow, should he have worn the suit instead?

Stiles shrugged, leaving the paper on Derek's bed and heading outside the tent, where he was met by a giggling Laura, sporting a similar outfit to his.

"What just happened?" Stiles asked.

Laura whistled, looking Stiles up and down. "Oh I know exactly what happened."

Stiles looked down at himself and his face turned red. "Oh my God, I should have went with the suit."

"I think Derek would disagree." Laura snaked her arm around Stiles' shoulders, still giggling, as she led him to a car. Everyone was already waiting, except for Derek. Stiles was glad to see Boyd with them, though he was a little concerned he wasn't completely healed. Hopefully they wouldn't need his muscles anyways.

"You're going to do great." Erica smiled, giving him a long hug. 

Isaac smiled at him, giving him a pat on the back. "We'll be here cheering you on."

"Thanks guys." Stiles smiled, growing nervous by the second.

"Everybody ready?" Boyd asked.

"You're coming with us? Are you sure that's such a good idea?" Stiles asked. 

"I'm practically healed, besides, I'm not going to let my best man go out there alone." Boyd spoke, as Derek appeared and clapped him on the back.

"Let's get going." He looked angry again, but climbed in the drivers seat. Boyd and Laura climbed in the back, leaving the passenger open for Stiles, surprising him. 

Derek took off quickly, like he always drove. A couple cars followed behind him, presumably with cameras or for protection. Once out of the air base, they were on bumpy roads, making them all jolt around as Derek flew down the roads. 

"Are Johnson and the others still there?" Boyd asked.

"Yeah, and no change so far." Derek muttered, eyes on the road.

"Let's hope it stays that way." Boyd replied, Derek clinching the steering wheel. On a whim, Stiles slipped his hand into Derek's free one, making the Alpha relax. No words had to be spoken, he knew how his Alpha was feeling. It was almost. . . easy to comfort Derek. He used to think that Alphas were so simple, always wanting a good fuck, but it seemed different with Derek. Touch was always something Omegas were thought to crave, but it seemed to comfort Derek just the same.

They rode in the car for about twenty more minutes, before Derek spoke again.

"We're nearing base." He said lowly.

Stiles watched around him as the scene changed. No longer were they surrounded by large trees, but a small town. It didn't take long before Stiles could see the destruction. Large brown clouds of dust laid in front of them and farther back a giant black cloud of smoke. The roads were littered with abandoned cars, the sidewalks empty. Shop windows were busted in and papers flew down the streets. Buildings were falling down and shell casings rolled around on the ground with a clink.

It really was worse than they thought. Stiles wondered how people didn't know and thought about how he had to be the one to tell people.

Derek turned down a street, the building dead ahead of them, though still far off.

"Stop." Stiles spoke, and Derek quickly did so, the other cars parking beside him.

Stiles quickly got out and the others followed, slightly confused.

"Here." Stiles spoke, giving a nod to everyone.

Laura motioned to the other cars, and several camera men got out. It was clear these were no reporters, they too were dressed similarly, sporting a triskele on their chest piece. They were part of the Hale army. 

"Are you sure you're ready for this?" Laura asked. 

Stiles nodded. Everyone took a step back, far away from Stiles, except for Derek, who paused for a moment, lingering. 

"This is going to change everything." Derek spoke, looking at the ground. 

"I know." Stiles replied. Derek took a step back, joining the others, as the camera men came closer.

"On my mark," A cameramen started as Stiles took a deep breath. "Three, two, one, rolling." A man spoke.

"My name is Stiles Stilinski. I am an Omega from Sector Five, and a member of the Hale pack." Stiles looked behind the camera men, glancing to Laura and Derek. Laura smiled at him softly, while Derek remained stoic.

"I am currently standing in Sector Forty-Seven, in a town that has been utterly destroyed due to the hateful acts of a group of Alphas." Stiles began to walk, towards the still burning building, looking up at it, as the cameras followed. It was the first time he himself had really gotten a good look at the building, making his emotions even stronger.

"The building before me probably means nothing to most of you, but it means everything to me. This was an Omega shelter, full of unarmed men, women, and children, who all burned alive simply because they were Omegas. This was a planned act of hate, and may just be the beginning." Stiles turned back to the cameras, growing angrier.

"So many are convinced that there isn't a problem, but do you see that?" The cameras zoomed in on the building. "There are no survivors and these acts will continue unless there is a change. I will not sit idle while my people are being killed ruthlessly. A change is coming. We are not afraid, we will not back down." Stiles practically glared at the camera. He was convinced at this point this was the only emotion the media had seen from him. Anger.

"This was a message to all Omegas, and I have one in return. We are fighting back." 

The cameras cut and Stiles took in a shaky breath. 

"Stiles. . . that was incredible." Laura spoke, eyes brimming with tears, approaching him and giving him a tight hug. She was proud. 

"And the whole world saw that?" Stiles asked, still trapped in Laura's tight embrace. Before he could get a response, Laura's phone began to blow up, making her jump back quickly and pull it out, though she didn't answer it.

Stiles swallowed, guess that answered that, people were contacting the Hales as soon as the broadcast ended. Derek's phone rang as well and Derek was quick to answer, stepping away from them both.

"And now we wait?" Stiles spoke, ringing his hands together. He felt good, he said what he wanted to and he would stand by it, but he didn't know if things would get worse or better. He knew there would be backlash, but he just hoped there would also be supporters. He couldn't be the only person who felt this way.

"Now we wait." Laura nodded. 

They all headed back to the car, waiting for Derek to finish his call and join them. Stiles watched him through the dusty car window, he looked angry, pacing back and forth, running a hand through his hair. Even given the circumstances, Stiles couldn't deny that an Alpha in uniform, looking stern was something he couldn't look away from.

"What do you think he is saying?" Stiles asked, trying to track Derek's expression. One full on anger, clearly, but there was something else.

"He's on the phone with mother." Laura spoke.

"Oh." He wished at this time he could hear like Alphas, Laura would be able to hear their entire conversation.

In a couple more minutes, Derek hung up, jogging back to the car and starting it quickly.

"What was that about?" Laura asked casually, though she already knew. It was for Stiles' sake, and he appreciated that.

"Mother being mother." Derek spoke, reversing and flying out of the town, leaving the dust and rubble behind. Stiles wondered who would take care of this town and how the people would recover.

"Did she see it?" Stiles asked, though he already knew the answer.

Derek nodded. "It was broadcasted on every station across the globe. Everyone saw it."

Stiles began to fear he made things worse. What if this only inspired other Alphas to rise up and strike? What if more attacks occurred, or what if no Omegas stood up? Or what if, by mentioning the Hales, he made things worse for them? What if people came after the Hale pack specifically? Sure they were powerful, but there was only so much a family could take.

"Hey." Derek spoke, looking at Stiles, sensing his worry. "It's all going to be okay."

Stiles nodded, though he wasn't sure he agreed, as he looked out the window at the passing trees, turning into a green blur with the speed of Derek's driving.

"So what now?" Stiles asked with a sigh, he knew they would have to wait, but wanted to know what the next step was at least. He hated waiting, he wasn't a patient person. 

"We fly you home." Derek spoke.

"What-" Stiles began to speak.

"I'm coming with you." Derek cut him off before he could protest. 

"Derek, the mission has not been completed." Laura spoke. Stiles was beginning to see more of her military side show.

"And I have plenty of capable men who will finish this." Derek snapped at her.

"You're going to walk out now, after all of this?" Laura argued.

"If this is because you don't believe that this is a place for an Omega or some shit, I swear-" Stiles began. Stiles could take care of himself, he had his whole life. Now was not the time to throw the damsel in distress card, not after he just got finished talking about a revolution where Omegas would be treated equal.

"No place for my Omega." Derek looked pained. This was personal. 

Stiles bit his lip. His Omega. It should have sounded threatening, scary, but. . . it was comforting. 

"Look," Derek sighed. "I believe in this, I believe in Omega rights, and I believe things can get better, but I also know war. And I know how things work. Things very well may get worse before they get better, and I'm not going to have my pack here when they do. Mother fears borders may close due to attacks being specifically targeted to Sector Five and if that is the case, I want to be right there."

"No one will be able to leave?" Stiles asked.

Derek nodded. "Which may prevent people from coming in. This is as much of a social battle as it is a physical one. We are confident we could defeat any other military there may be, but that doesn't mean we want to kill everyone in sight. If we can change peoples minds. . ." 

"Then we can change their actions." Stiles finished.

Derek nodded his head. "What about the Alphas that staged the attack here? They just get to go free?"

Derek tightened his grip on the wheel, shaking his head. "Before we came out today, Boyd told me something. The Alpha, the man involved, finally cracked after some. . . pressure. As far as he knows and as far as we know, he's the only survivor. Turns out he was a coward, every other Alpha killed themselves in the bombing." 

Stiles didn't want to know what "pressure" meant, it was distributing enough to know that this was a suicide-bombing, something he had only read about it old textbooks. 

"A suicide mission?" Laura asked.

Derek glanced at her in the rear view mirror, nodding. "We think they're trying not to leave a trail. The fact is though, we don't know if this is some giant national group, or if this is just some group of friends who hit up the bar too often."

"But we know this was planned, right?" Stiles asked.

"It was too sophisticated not to be." Derek replied.

"Then there was no way some random guys got a hold of that kind of ammo. This is bigger than just some random bigots." Laura spoke.

Stiles bit his lip, nervous. How big could this possibly be, and what had he just begun? 

"Either way, that means they won't come here again, there is nothing left for them here." Derek spoke. They would move on, planning to target another spot, Sector Forty-Seven had earned its limelight.

"That means they will branch out though. . ." Laura got out her phone and began to make some calls.

"I want every Omega shelter, hospital, therapy center, everything with the name Omega in it on lockdown. . . yes I'm aware. . . I don't give a fuck, make it happen. I'll send you the details tonight." She hung up angrily, before sending several texts. 

Every moment of every day Stiles was reminded how powerful the Hale pack was. 

"Did I make everything worse?" Stiles asked.

"No, you started something better." Derek placed his hand on Stiles' knee. It was comforting, more than it should have been. Derek's touch alone had the ability to calm Stiles, but the looming thoughts still crept up on him.

Soon they arrived at the base and were greeted by several claps and cheers, making Stiles blush. Clearly Derek's men believed in what they stood for, or at least they were good at pretending. 

"Move the fuck out of the way, I actually know him!" Erica pushed soldiers out of the way like they were made of feathers, to run up to him.

"Fuck yeah Stiles! You fucking did that, that was awesome!" Isaac yelled, clearly enthused.

"I swear to God seeing you like that gave me a boner." Erica spoke, calm as if they were discussing knitting.

"Jesus fucking-" Derek cut himself off, wiping a hand down his face. 

"Good stuff, Stilinski." Boyd nodded. 

Derek gave a flash of his eyes and the soldiers dispersed quickly, leaving just their group together. They walked towards the tent Stiles sat in with the important soldiers earlier, all taking a seat.

"We're heading back home," Derek got started quickly. "Boyd, I need you with me. I'm also taking Major Wilson and a few others back home, but I need Johnson to stay here, help the people. I'll be sending shipments of supplies."

Boyd nodded in understanding, prepared to relay the message. 

"Are we going back to the safe house?" Isaac groaned.

"No. . . not yet." Derek spoke.

"Isn't that a little dangerous?" Laura asked. After all, as soon as news broke about the bombing, they retreated as fast as they could. Everybody, well, a lot of people, knew where the Hale mansion was and while it was heavily armed, it was nothing compared to the safe house.

"Stiles' whole message was that we aren't afraid. If the most powerful in all of Sector Five hide in a hole, what does that say?" Erica spoke. Stiles was convinced she wasn't afraid of anything.

"Yeah, but doesn't that put an even larger target on our back?" Laura asked.

Derek shook his head. "Security will be upped, walls will go up if they have to."

Erica, Isaac, Boyd, and Laura all looked at each other as though that meant something.

"Walls?" Stiles questioned. How the hell were they going to build walls that fast?

"Derek, walls haven't been raised since-" Laura began.

"I know." Derek snapped. "Look. . . I will do whatever it takes to keep my people safe. If you or anyone else would like to remain in the safe house, feel free, but I will not hide."

"What are the walls?" Stiles asked again, though something told him he should just keep his mouth shut, he had no say in the matter regardless.

"It's a sort of dome, it stretches over the entirety of Sector Five." Laura answered.

"Jesus fucking- how? I mean how is that even possible, is it like a physical wall-" The technology these people possessed never failed to amaze him. Stiles wasn't even great at working a cell phone.

"It's a mostly clear dome, these sort of beams or something shoot out at an angle until meeting on top, merging together and spreading the sort of force field downward, creating that shape. Think of the sky you saw during the mating run, the one displaying the time and who had been claimed? It's like that, but it's virtually impenetrable. If you want the real logistics, ask Danny, our military tech guy, I have no fucking clue how it really works, other than it keeps us in a bubble." Laura spoke, looking stressed just thinking about it.

"If this is the case, why haven't we been using it like our whole lives?"

"Because we're the only ones on the globe who have it and no one knows about it." Isaac spoke up.

"Everybody already knows Sector Five, though seemingly poor and meek, has an extremely powerful Alpha, and for that matter pack, why would this come as such of a surprise?" Stiles asked.

"We keep that image for a reason, the poor one I mean. Think about it, did you know about our military, or me, or any of this before? People hear that and they grow afraid, jealous, angry." Derek spoke.

"As far as other Sectors know, we just happen to be an average Sector with an Alpha who, as you said, is powerful, involved in the Mating Run and many politics. One that just happens to like to stick to her roots, but they don't know about the rest of our family, or how strong her role really is."

"Jesus fuck, I'm claimed by an Alpha who literally runs the damn planet." Stiles threw his head back.

"Lucky bastard." Erica spoke, Boyd quickly giving her a look.

Stiles snorted. "Okay, fine, but I'm not leaving my dad out there."

"He's already at the mansion." Laura spoke, Stiles nodding in approval, anxious to see his dad. Oh, how things were simpler when he only had to worry about dinner.

"How ugly do we think this is going to get?" Stiles asked.

The pack looked at each other with mixed emotions. 

"We don't know."

***

Arriving back home went smoothly. There were no surprises, crowds, or scary situations. They touched down just as quickly as before, with Derek driving this time. He had teased Laura that there were scratches on the plane, and she just sneered, still thankful to not be in the captain's seat. Erica chimed in, hating on Laura's landing, earning a few snorts, as Laura turned red. 

"I can't even drive a car, don't feel bad." Stiles laughed, trying to comfort her as he turned to look back at her.

"Dibs!" Erica yelled, making everyone flinch in surprise and at the volume of her voice. It had been a long day and everyone was growing tired.

"Too late." Derek purred.

"Dammit." Erica crossed her arms, pouting. "You always get to do everything with Stiles."

Clearly there was more than one person who wanted to see Stiles drive for the first time.

Derek helped Stiles off the plane and remained at his side for the rest of the ride towards the Hale mansion, constantly looking over at him, as if checking that he was really there. There were times Stiles just wanted to reach out and touch, just to reassure, to comfort, but he resisted.

Unlike the plane ride, the car was silent. Everyone seemed to just stare out the windows, apart from Derek, who split his time looking at the road as he drove, and Stiles. The stereo played softly, some rock song no one had heard before, and every once in a while you could here Laura's polished nails clicking against the screen of her phone, presumably speaking with someone important.

When they arrived, Derek parked directly in front of the door, forgetting the garage. As they all climbed out, they were bombarded by the Hale pack, all running out to great their family. Talia was last to come out, never running or looking frazzled, but none the less warmly greeted everyone. 

There was one person who hung back, Stiles catching him out of the corner of his eyes. Stiles turned, seeing the man who was stuck in the wood frame of the front door, standing on the porch. 

It only took half a second for Stiles to realize, this was his dad. He froze, in shock for only a few seconds, before he was sprinting towards his dad.

His dad cracked a big smile, catching Stiles as he launched himself at him, tears brimming in his eyes. He brought his dad in tight for a hug, making his dad groan in pain at the force of the embrace. 

"Stiles." He spoke with a sigh, thankful to have his son in his arms. He pulled back, getting a good look at his child.

"Dad." Stiles spoke, smiling softly, as a single tear fell. Without a doubt, the one person he wanted during times like this was his father. To give him advice, comfort him, and more than anything, Stiles just needed to know that he was safe. He worried every day for his dad, given his profession, but now more than every Stiles had to see his father, to physically know that he was okay.

"I'm so glad you're okay." Stiles spoke.

John scoffed, trying to lighten the mood. "Of course I am, what, your dad can't boogie anymore?"

Stiles laughed, tears beginning to dry up.  "I just worry you know."

John softened. "I know. . . but apparently it's no longer me we have to worry about. I saw your little speech."

Soon the Hale pack was surrounding them, Talia coming right beside John. Stiles wasn't sure if it was for support, or to protect Stiles from whatever John was about to say. 

"Yes, we all did. You did an excellent job, Stiles. Please, let's all head inside for dinner." She nodded towards them, leading the way. John and Stiles followed, Derek suddenly appearing next to Stiles, hand on the small of his back, comforting. Stiles relaxed into it.

Instantly Stiles was greeted by the warm smells of dinner, already prepared and set up on the table. Stiles found it comforting to know that in the midst of chaos, they were still having their family dinner. 

Everyone took a seat, Derek to the right of Talia, filling the spot that was once empty on the night of the party. Stiles sat on Derek's right, and John sat directly across from Stiles.

Soon dinner was passed around, with everybody loading up. Stiles hadn't realized how hungry he was until the pleasant aromas filled his nose. The last time he had ate was when he made Derek blueberry pancakes.

As he listened to forks scrape against plates, Stiles wondered who would be the first to speak up. Were they going to discuss what was happening, or were they going to ignore it for the night.

"John, I hear you're working in law enforcement these days." Talia speaks, breaking the silence.

"That's right." John says gruffly. Stiles remembered that the two had a past, and suddenly wasn't just worried about John's feelings towards Derek, but rather Talia.

Talia nodded politely, though of course she heard the annoyance in John's voice. She chose to ignore it.

"So," John began, setting his fork down and licking the inside of his cheek. Here we go. "Are we going to talk about how your forcing my son to be the new face of your uprising?"

"Dad-" Stiles began, shoulders dropping with a sigh. Of course.

"I forced your son to do no such thing, in fact I suggested Laura deliver the speech, as according to plan. Stiles thinks for himself, this was something he wanted to do, willingly."

"You expect me to believe that load of horse shit?" John snapped, turning further to Talia, Laura hunkering back, in between them.

"Dad, stop this. It's true, I wanted to do this." Stiles spoke up.

John's face screwed up. "Why? Why in the hell would you endanger yourself like that?"

Derek seemed pleased by John's reaction, annoying Stiles. Clearly they were on the same side of keeping Stiles away from any possible danger.

"Because for the first time in my life, I can step up and do something important."

"Stiles. . ."

"No dad, I'm not going to let you sit here and tell me not to do this, not like you did to mom." Stiles spat. 

John froze, and the table grew quiet, all eyes on Stiles and John. Derek slowly slipped a hand on Stiles' knee, letting it just sit there. Stiles knew that wasn't fair but. . .

"Stiles-" Talia began.

"No. This is my choice, my life, right? You said you weren't like other Alphas, right?" Stiles pointed that question at Derek, who looked stern. "You said I was free to be me. So I'm taking your word for it. I'm doing this and I could certainly use your help."

"You will always have our support." Talia said, not missing a beat. The rest of the pack nodded in agreement.

Stiles looked to Derek, wanting to hear it from him.

"I'll protect you no matter what." He smiled softly, looking proudly at his Omega.

Stiles looked to his father, who looked saddened.

"Dad?"

". . . you remind me so much of your mother." His voice was soft, laced with a sigh. His eyes soften and he leaned back in his chair slightly.

"I was worried when I found out what your mother was doing, how serious it was becoming, with Alpha Talia Hale no less. . . it was dangerous then and it's even more dangerous now-"

"Dad-"

John held up a hand. "Now let me finish." He paused, waiting to see if Stiles was going to interject again.

"What you're doing is extremely dangerous, and knowing you, reckless. . ." John huffed out a sigh, looking at Talia briefly. "but I know you, and I know you're stubborn, just as your mother was. I don't like this, but. . . if you have the entire Hale pack backing you, then I feel a little better about this, I guess."

"I won't let anyone touch him." Derek growled out, tightening his grip on Stiles' knee. 

"You won't let him out of your sight, not like that stunt you just pulled." John said.

Stiles opened his mouth to speak, but was shut down by Derek quickly.

"I won't be able to. He'll be safe with me." Derek was stern about this.

John remained quiet, thinking. "Alright. . . but I want in."

"Absolutely not-" Stiles yelped.

"If my son is doing this, if his. . . mate is, then I am too. I'll always fight for my son, always."

Talia nodded in understanding, making Stiles' jaw drop. They were agreeing with this?

"No, no, no, that is not happening." Stiles straightened.

"I will not send you into battle, John, however, your assistance will be greatly appreciated, not to mention I'm sure Stiles will need your company in these times."

"Talia, you cannot get him involved-" Stiles began.

"Your father will be under our protection Stiles." Laura spoke.

This was true, he would be more protected than ever, he would know more than ever, be involved more than ever. Stiles just hoped the old man didn't die of a heart attack.

"Fine, then he isn't going anywhere. He can sit on his ass here." Stiles crossed his arms like a child.

"His room has already been prepared." Talia spoke in agreement.

"Now hold on a minute. I'm not going to just sit back while my son goes out there doing who knows what. You may get to control him, but you don't control me." John placed his elbows on the table, snapping at Derek.

"He won't be going anywhere, not without me." Derek spoke. Okay first, rude and controlling. Second, that's hot.

"Besides, our military is more than capable of protecting our Sector and others. You and your son will be safe here. We will take every precaution and perform as much business here at the mansion as possible." Talia spoke, still ever calm and collected.

John snorted, leaning back and crossing his arms. "Claudia was right. All this time I thought she was just over-exaggerating."

"About what, may I ask?" Talia spoke.

"You really do have the means to start a damn war." John nodded. Oh he had no idea. 

Talia smiled softly. "Now then, enough of this for now. Let's all get some rest. Laura, please show John to his room." John looked to Stiles, face softening once more, before giving a small smile. He got up and followed Laura, as the rest of the pack rose. Despite everything, Stiles was just glad his dad was safe, and here.

Cora disappeared to her room, Erica and Boyd soon following. Derek headed upstairs as well, Stiles following close behind. He led him to the end of a hallway, to the last room. Opening it caused Stiles to almost stagger back, Derek's scent so strong. 

This was obviously Derek's childhood home, yet the room was still somehow sophisticated, walls painted a dark grey, dark mahogany furniture spread throughout the room. There were no posters hung or dirty clothes littering the floor to let anyone know this was once the room of a teenager.

"I'm sorry, I didn't have more time to prepare the room." Derek said, looking sheepish.

"Well, given the circumstances, I think I can forgive you." Stiles joked, stepping further into the room and looking at the framed picture of the Hales on his small desk. The many papers and the laptop added to the adult look.

Stiles turned slowly, looking at Derek, who had sat on the edge of the bed, looking hurt.

"Are you okay?" Derek asked, sounding pained.

"Yeah, yeah I'm fine-" Stiles began, ready to shoo Derek's concern off.

"I know you didn't get hurt, I mean. . . I'm sorry I acted like that back there."

Stiles understood, or at least he tried to. It was only fair. "Well, from what I heard, it looked like I got there right on time."

Derek hung his head. "When I heard you were coming, I was mad, but. . ."

"But?" Stiles asked, stepping closer. He honestly figured that Derek would just be a big ball of rage when he arrived, but there was something else there. Need. 

"You don't know much about Alphas, do you?" Derek asked, with a soft smile.

"Nothing at all, you're quiet foreign to me." He returned the smile, before dropping it, watching Derek's face fall. 

Derek stood, turning away from Stiles and walking towards the window, looking out at the night sky, speckled with stars. His face was pinched and he swallowed.

"I promised you honesty and communication. . . which I'm afraid means that sometimes I will have to tell you things that you won't want to hear."

Stiles nodded once. "That's part of it though, right? Proper communication and all."

Derek swallowed once again, looking angry with himself.

"Derek, you can tell me." Stiles said softly, but the man remained quiet.

"Peter. . . Peter said something to me earlier, about you." Stiles began, then waited for a reaction, but got none. "About how it's hard for Alphas, he warned me you might be. . . different when the plane touched down, about how it hurt you, to be away from an Omega."

Derek didn't respond.

"Is that true, I mean, are you okay?" Stiles asked.

Derek breathed deep, still staring at the stars. "When I left you, I know it was cold. I know it wasn't a proper goodbye. It was the only way I could get away, I wouldn't have been able to leave any other way. I was alright, up until we touched down. I was able to focus on the mission, in and out, but once we were done there I. . ."

Stiles stepped closer, behind him as Derek continued to look away. 

"It's hard to be away from Omegas, yes, but. . . my body is trying everything it can to be with you, as is yours, and you don't even realize it." Derek shook his head. 

Stiles furrowed his eyebrows. How could that be so? He would know something like that.

"Your scent is even stronger than when I chased you down to claim you." Derek's jaw clenched, swallowing. 

"Peter said it would be hard for you. . ." Stiles started, but didn't know how to finish.

"Peter just loves you doesn't he?" Derek paused, collecting himself after his spout of annoyance. "When I got back to the base, it began to get worse, it was. . . painful, I was quick tempered, but I could still distract myself, until I overheard your phone call."

Stiles remembered that moment vividly.

"When I heard you weren't okay, something snapped in me. I was no longer me, I was all Alpha and. . . I couldn't control myself."

Derek looked even angrier with himself, leaning froward to grip the window seal, the wood creaking under his grip. Well that answered that question.

"Boyd and the others kept trying to hold me back, but nothing was working, I kept trying to escape, dead set you weren't okay. I think it's the only reason Boyd allowed you to come, he would never disobey an order otherwise. You were the only thing that could change me. . . even so, when I heard you were coming, it got worse. I wanted so desperately to be with you, I would do anything."

"So when I got there. . ."

"I pushed past everyone, to be with you. I still don't know how I restrained myself." Derek said. 

Stiles wondered what he meant by that. Restrained himself from killing everyone? Or from doing something to Stiles? Even so, Stiles smiled softly. 

"You're a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for."

"Here I was thinking the opposite. I acted like a savage, hurting my men and. . . and I'm so sorry I hurt you, Stiles." He hung his head.

"Derek. . ."

"I keep breaking my promises to you. I'm sorry. . . I will forever protect you Stiles, always, but. . . I understand if you want out, if you want to remain in contact just for business, I'll move to the penthouse and-"

"Derek." Stiles spoke. Derek stopped speaking.

"Look at me." Derek slowly turned, meeting his gaze and straightening. 

"Now come here." He ordered, Derek approaching Stiles slowly. He stopped, still a couple feet away. Stiles rolled his eyes.

"Come here."

Derek sighed, stepping right up to Stiles. Heart beating, Stiles slowly reached for Derek, slipping his hand into his, making the Alpha tense, before he slowly began to relax.

"I don't know anything about Alphas, other than the stereotypes. You have been nothing but accepting of me and all my Omega-ness, so it's only fair I learn about you. Which means learning about how you feel, so you have to tell me, okay? I know you can sense my emotions, but I can't sense yours, so I need you to tell me how you feel. I don't want to cause you pain and I. . . I don't want this to just be business." Stiles admitted. It would have been easier, but Stiles couldn't deny how he felt, as much as he wanted to. He could convince himself it was biology, or Omega hormones later. 

Derek slowly placed a hand on Stiles' cheek.

"You say you didn't just choose me for the politics. . . did you mean that?" Stiles asked quietly, swallowing in nervousness. The doubt was always present. 

"Even if I had no idea who you were, I would still choose you over and over again."

"How did you know?" Stiles asked, referencing the mating run. 

"I caught your scent, mesmerizing. And I saw your amber eyes and got lost in them. The thought of anyone claiming you other than myself made my blood boil and my chest ache. It had to be you. It still is."

"Promise?" Stiles asked, voice barely audible.

"Promise." Derek slowly leaned down as Stiles remained still. It seemed to take years for Derek to finally lean into Stiles, resting his forehead on Stiles' shoulder. Derek placed his other hand on Stiles' hip, pulling him even closer and pressing there, fingers right on top of Stiles' still existing bruises. Slowly, Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek's torso, like a little kid trying to fit his arms around a tree trunk. 

Derek sighed into him, snuggling into his neck. Stiles would have to ask him about that too. The whole scenting thing. He knew so little and began to feel guilty about it. But that could wait for tomorrow.

Derek pulled back slowly, keeping his hand on Stiles' hip and looking into his eyes. 

"Promise." He repeated, nuzzling into his hair, before he pulled him to the bed. Derek pulled him close, but his grip was relaxed, leaving Stiles able to remove himself if he wished to. Stiles wished he did. It would make things easier. If he could just hate Derek. 

Nonetheless, they laid there together, Derek's arm laid across Stiles, unsure of tomorrow, but slowly becoming sure of themselves.

***

Stiles woke up next to a furnace. He had heard that Alpha's ran hot, but holy shit, they weren't lying, the guy was an actual fireplace.

Regardless of how he felt in the past or present, Stiles slept like a rock that night. He was a little surprised, figuring his mind would keep him up, or at the very least, the fact that he was sleeping next to an Alpha werewolf. The thought was ever present of betrayal, of the possibility of hypocrisy, or changed minds. But the thought was. . . growing smaller. Which scared Stiles even more. 

He felt like things were just going so fast, even though, in terms of Alpha-Omega relationships, theirs was going glacier slow. He would wage all of the money he had, not much, on the fact that every single Omega claimed in the Mating Run was now completely mated and bonded, the women were probably knocked up by now. They had most likely been all over the news, already boasting and gushing on talk shows, full of engagements and pregnancies and glitter and bleh.

Derek and Stiles were. . . well they were in bed together, and that is something Stiles had never expected, ever. Or maybe he had, but not like this. He hated to admit that he had feared Derek in the beginning, but of course he had. Any smart Omega would fear Alphas in this society, or maybe that was Stiles' hardened heart talking. He knew, now, it wasn't fair to Derek. Derek was a good man, a good Alpha. He had already shown that to Stiles and it had been only a few days.

Too soon to really know, the voice spoke in the back of his head. Stiles shut it down. 

Derek had every right, every reason to do whatever he pleased with Stiles, solely based on the fact that he was his Alpha. But he hadn't, and that had made all the difference.

Maybe he just hadn't gotten started yet.

But a ridiculous thought isn't it? Why wait? To gain his trust? Alpha's were a lot of things, but Stiles really couldn't see one waiting to fuck him, control him, just because. Derek was. . . fuck, Derek was different. That was terrifying.

Stiles of course was thankful for this fact, that he had somehow fell into the arms of not only a decent Alpha, but a decent pack. That he was able to be involved with the pack, see his dad, be himself, and fuck, start an Omega uprising. 

Stiles shook his head. No, there was no way Derek had alternate motives. No Alpha would let an Omega do something like this, live the life he was living, unless he truly had a stake in the game, unless he truly cared. And Stiles felt like he did, like they all did. He had had to trust his gut, his intuition, his instincts, his entire life, and they had never let him down. 

He may have only been an Omega, but he could read people, people were predictable. Well, except the Hales, he supposed. They weren't what he expected. They were better. 

They were good. They had to be. Regardless of all of the Omega stuff, they seemed like good people. And that was what truly mattered. 

Stiles looked over at Derek, who was still sleeping. Stiles had always read in cheesy books that men tended to look softer when they slept, more childlike. He could see where they got the ideal, but Derek still looked like an Alpha. His eyebrows still furrowed in his sleep, like he was deep in thought, and his body still seemed slightly rigid, like he would be ready to jump out of bed any second.

He wondered if that was part of the whole soldier thing, or being an Alpha, or even just being part of the Hale pack. It was probably all of it. It was just Derek. 

Stiles sighed slightly. He had a plan. It had been shattered. He was going to get Derek on his good side, to get what he wanted. But he didn't have to. Derek was on his side, always on his side, even when he wanted to do something as idiotic as start an Omega uprising.

Stiles had to admit he was impressed. His control, Derek's ability to give him freedom was impressive. Not in the sense of not being an asshole, but in the truly biological sense that Alpha's felt a pull towards their Omega's to be near them. Omega's felt it too and Stiles suspected it was part of his freak out when Derek left, especially so soon after he was claimed. 

Peter had mentioned that it hurt Alphas and Stiles had seen some of the reality of them being apart for even just a few hours. Would it always be like that, or would it change once they were truly mated? 

Stiles' face turned red, though there was no one around except a sleeping Alpha. He couldn't deny that there was a pull towards Derek, though he wasn't sure if it was purely biological, hormonal, or whatever else. He just hoped that being. . . apart wouldn't put too much of a strain on Derek. That was the last thing they needed. Besides, he wanted it to be a choice. From the both of them, if they ever got to that point. It wasn't a possibility now, not unless. . . 

Fuck Stiles, don't think about a heat right now, for the love of God. 

Stiles shook his head again, deciding he had to get up before he got himself into an even deeper rabbit hole. 

He knew that as soon as he moved to get up, Derek would wake, so there was really no point in trying to sneak, though he did anyways.

As soon as Stiles was sat up, Derek jolted awake, gripping Stiles close for only a moment before he realized what he did, instantly pulling away with a sheepish frown and sitting up as well.

"Morning." Stiles spoke, giving a soft smile.

Derek turned to Stiles and gave him a small smile in return. "Good morning."

Stiles tried to not laugh at Derek's hair. The Alpha who was constantly polished now had disheveled hair and tired eyes. An interesting site compared to what others saw on the television, and the first photo Stiles had seen on Derek. It made Derek seem more. . . human. What a joke.

"So, what's on the agenda today?" Derek asked, getting up out of bed and heading towards the dresser, sifting through the clothes with a frown. Stiles figured most of his clothing was at the penthouse, but it wasn't like Derek was a fashion God. He primarily wore the same thing every day. Dark colors and a leather jacket.

"You're asking me?" Stiles also stood, a little surprised. Didn't Alpha Derek control their day?

He had to stop thinking like that.

"Well, you're the one starting an uprising, so." Derek spoke, turning as he slipped on a shirt. He smiled, no hint of malice in his voice.

"You're in a chipper mood this morning." Stiles called, heading towards the bathroom.

"I have you back." Derek shrugged simply, starting to unbutton the jeans he had slept in. What an uncomfortable thing to sleep in. Stiles turned to give him so privacy, as he shut the door for his own.

He took a leak, then started up the shower. He still felt slightly dusty and like he smelled of smoke from the previous day. 

Showering relatively quickly so that he couldn't stand and think, he exited and grabbed a towel, shivering as he ran it across his skin. It was almost winter and Stiles knew he would feel the effects soon. He hated winter. Winter meant cold days on the streets, and Christmas without food, let alone presents. Well, not anymore he supposed, but those memories were etched into his brain.

He almost felt guilty as he found a packaged toothbrush in a drawer, grabbing some toothpaste that he figured was Derek's. Looking around made him feel worse. The bathroom was huge, triple the size of his dad's master bathroom back home. He still couldn't believe he was here.

He spat out his toothpaste, right as Derek knocked on the door. Stiles mumbled around his spit as Derek walked in and began to brush his teeth as well.

"So," Stiles started, turning to lean against the counter. Derek raised an eyebrow in return. Stiles waited for him to say something, well, mumble around his toothbrush, but Derek didn't say anything, just kept watching him.

"Hurry up and spit out your toothpaste so you can tell me all the doom stories." Stiles waved around his hands. 

Derek made a face, but spat out his toothpaste none the less, rinsing his mouth and turning towards Stiles with an unimpressed look.

"Doom stories?" He asked, crossing his arms.

"Yeah, I mean all the bad things that happened after the broadcast." Duh.

Derek shrugged. "I don't know, I haven't heard anything."

"How have you not-"

"I've been with you the whole time, what, you think I communicate with my mother in my dreams?" Derek snorted.

"Honestly, wouldn't surprise me, you Alphas-" Stiles started, before Derek playfully shoved him out of the way and headed downstairs.

"If you would like to know what happened, I'm sure mother can fill us in." He called behind him as he climbed down the many stairs, Stiles hot on his heel and far less coordinated. 

"Speak of the devil." Talia spoke, coming around the corner with a mug of what smelled to be coffee in her hand.

"Oh, fuck. You guys have coffee?" Stiles stunned himself for a moment. That was rude of him, you don't ask an Alpha- no. That's not how things worked anymore. He could ask for coffee, it was clearly already made.

"Of course, help yourself." Talia spoke, leading them both to the kitchen. Derek showed him where the mugs were and got out two. Stiles poured him a cup, and made a face when Derek grabbed it and began drinking it black.

He poured cream and sugar in his own, still making faces at Derek as he did so, who only watched, amused.

"Finally, someone who drinks coffee like a normal person." Cora spoke, coming around the corner and pouring herself a cup.

"You shouldn't even be drinking it this young." Derek spoke.

"Derek, I highly doubt coffee really affects werewolves." Cora mumbled with sass as she poured in a ton of sugar. Stiles made a face at that too.

"How do you think I got such a hairy chest?" Derek asked, eyebrows raised.

Cora faltered, then slammed the creamer down, spilling it, and storming out of the room without her coffee.

"Derek, it isn't right to tease her like that." Talia said, thought she smirked around her coffee.

"Didn't you used to wax your chest in high school?" Laura walked in, grabbing another mug. Stiles wondered how many they had.

"No-"

"Oh, he definitely did, I remember hearing the screaming the first time." Erica said, hopping up on the counter. Apparently the Hale's like to accumulate in the kitchen. 

"That is so not-" Derek started, sitting his mug down.

"Is too!" She yelled back, cutting him off.

"Erica," Boyd started, preparing to shush her. Surprisingly, he chimed in. "You know he only did it for the swim team."

"Now hold on-"

The room erupted in laughter, Stiles joining in as Isaac walked around the corner. 

"Are we talking about that time Derek waxed his chest?" He asked, pouring himself the last of the coffee.

Everyone laughed once again, while the tips of Derek's ears turned pink.

"I don't even know why you did it, it grew back by the end of the day." Erica snorted.

"So what you not only have supernatural healing, but supernatural hair growth?" Stiles asked.

"I shave twice a day, it's horrible." Isaac growled.

"Shave what, the three hairs on your upper lip? You're better off tweezing." Erica knocked back the rest of her coffee, sitting the mug in the sink.

Isaac growled at her, while everyone else laughed. 

"Laugh it up, but we all see your uni-brow in the sunlight." Isaac snapped back, crossing his arms like a child.

Erica turned around and gasped, throwing her mug at him. Boyd leaned forward and sighed, catching it and walking to sit it back in the sink. He wrapped a hand around Erica's waist, comforting her.

"Children, don't you think we have more important manners to discuss?" Boyd asked, looking to Talia.

She nodded, and walked over to sit her empty mug in the sink as well.

"He's right." She nodded, heading into the large dining room where everyone could sit together.

Everyone followed, following the same seating arrangement as the night before. John then walked in, still looking tired as he rubbed the side of his face.

"What, we starting the party without me?" John asked, huffing and taking a seat. 

"Good, now then, everyone is here-"

"Not quite." Peter hummed, slipping in at the table, making everyone roll their eyes.

Talia chose to ignore him, and began. "As everyone already knows, Stiles delivered a broadcast yesterday that was seen by, well, almost everyone."

Stiles thought that that wasn't exactly true. Unbeknownst to many Alphas, there were thousands of Omegas in the streets, those who didn't have access. Even so, he knew it was being talked about. 

"We've already seen countless interview requests, but denied them all." Talia spoke.

"Good." John nodded in approval. Stiles was sure that if he had the option, he'd keep him in a bubble for the rest of his life.

"Isn't the whole point to get the word out?" Cora asked, genuinely curious. 

"On Stiles' own terms." Talia nodded. Stiles didn't ignored how she had said on his terms, not theirs.

"What's our next step?" Boyd asked, rubbing Erica's back.

"Well, that essentially is up to Stiles, but as his. . . advisor, I would recommend we wait." She spoke confidently, as always. Everyone looked to Stiles.

"Is that a good idea?" He asked. He had no idea what to do, what was best.

"Waiting gives ample time for everyone to hear the message. For it to be discussed, to gain supporters."

"It also gives time for other Sectors to plan an attack." Peter spoke up, looking sly as always.

"Is that a possibility?" John asked, leaning forward, elbows on the table and glancing to Stiles.

"At this point in time, anything is a possibility. The message Stiles delivered was a bold one, practically unheard of, at least coming from an Omega on global television. I have no doubt that there are plenty of bigots out there upset right now, but I also know for a fact there are millions of Omegas who, for the first time, have heard a message of hope. So far, the only messages I have received have been positive, apart from a few online cowards who hide behind a screen. If we wait, we wait for the response of the people. Wait for more support, to get a gauge of how to proceed-"

"But if we sit back and do nothing-" Laura spoke.

"The message is being drilled into people's heads though, played over and over." Cora spoke up, all eyes turning to her.

"I mean look," She opened up her phone and clicked on the news app. Every story had a picture of Stiles' face on it.

"Everyone is talking about it." 

"But that's what we want." Laura spoke confidently. "If we wait, we pose the risk of allowing others to plan an attack, to voice their opinions. But if we proceed blindly, we risk this whole thing falling apart."

"But, won't that make us look like cowards, or like we don't really have a plan?" Isaac asked.

"We're not sitting back and hiding." Talia clarified. "We're just not. . . heading out. I don't want Derek and the others out there like that again-"

Derek began to speak up, but Talia held up a hand, instantly silencing him.

"I need you here, leading, being there for your Omega. That is your role, now, not to be a solider on the field." She took a breath. "It's up to Stiles-"

"Okay, wait, you gotta stop saying that. I appreciate it, I do, more than you could ever know, but I have no idea what I'm doing here." Stiles shook his head.

"Stiles, this has never been done before. We don't have a book on this." Talia shrugged and Stiles was surprised by such a nonchalant act. 

"Yeah, but. . . look I need your help with this, all of you." Stiles looked around the table.

"I get that I am Derek's Omega," He looked over to him. "But, before all that, and still even now, I'm just an Omega. Nothing crazy, nothing special." 

Derek grunted at that, disagreeing.

"That's exactly why people will listen to you." Laura leaned forward, placing a hand on Stiles'. 

"People don't need someone like Lydia Martin." Erica smiled. He knew what she meant, someone who was born with the wealth, an easy life.

Stiles nodded, taking a deep breath. "Okay." He wasn't sure what else to say.

"If we do this, we do it your way, as you said. But there is no backing out now, Stiles." Talia smiled.

"I'm not backing out." Stiles shook his head. "But I won't sit back either."

Talia began to protest, but for once, Stiles cut her off. 

"I won't send Derek and Boyd out there. That's off the table, no buts." He pointed at Derek. "But. . . people will be expecting something. I won't do any interviews with those pink-haired vulture picking low-life little-"

"Stiles." John sighed.

"Right." Stiles cleared his throat. "No interviews, at all. But. . . we need to put out another video, soon."

"What will it entail?" Talia asked.

Everyone looked to Stiles, waiting. "There are Alphas out there right now that are pissed. That want to kill me, other Omegas. I won't start a war." He shook his head. "But I won't sit back if more Omegas are slaughtered. This has to be. . . smart. And as much as I would like to knock some Alphas around, I know that not all are like what I once thought."

Derek squeezed his knee.

"I think one of the main issues is the misinformation and lack of education on both sides. The bigotry and stereotypes are not just coming from Alphas. For years, Alphas have refused to learn, to listen, to Omegas because they were seen as lower, as less than. Why learn about them when they're just-" Stiles cut himself off before he said something bad in front of Cora, or his dad.

"But at the same time. . . there is so much I don't know about Alphas. I was so afraid of what I thought I knew, that I refused to look into anything else. Refused to accept that maybe some are good. People are so afraid, so set in their ways. . . their eyes need to be opened. That's what the message will be about."

Everyone was silent for a moment. "I think that sounds like a fantastic idea Stiles." Talia spoke, first to break the silence.

"It's true too, isn't it?" Laura looked around. "We know so little about Omega's truly. If we could learn more about them, listen, maybe they would be less afraid."

"You exude power, it's biological, and it's terrifying to those who have no control." Stiles shrugged. 

"But that's not just-" Laura said, frustrated, though not with Stiles. Perhaps with the situation.

Stiles smiled. "I know, Laura. Or at least I'm learning. If we can educate, we can stop the fear. If we can stop the fear, Omega can stand up, when they do that-"

"The Alphas will fight back." Peter cut him off.

"I have no doubt." Stiles spat back. "But I refuse to believe that the Hale pack, or most of them," he shot a glare at Peter, "are the only good Alphas. As much as I hate to admit it, I met plenty of great ones at the pre-Mating Run crap, parties and all that. I know I'm not the only Omega who wants change, and that means you guys can't be the only Alphas."

"We're not." Talia nodded confidently. "I have received overwhelming support from many, very powerful Alphas."

"Good, we could use some of that." Laura nodded.

"But we also need the little guys. The everyday Joe's, not the rich, or the powerful." Erica chimed in. 

"We need the Omega's." Derek spoke, for the first time in a while.

"This'll work." Cora nodded. 

"There is going to be blood-" Peter said, leaning back in his chair.

"Peter." Talia snapped. "That is not our goal here. No war. We limit fights. We educate. We teach. We, all of us included, learn. We're lucky enough to have a teacher sitting right here in front of us. I suggest we all pick up the textbooks and start taking notes."

Stiles smiled fondly at Talia. They were willing, not only to keep him safe physically, but to learn. It said a lot that Talia, of all people, who worked with his mother on Omega rights, still agreed that they all had a lot to learn.

"We're with you, Stiles." Boyd nodded. 

Stiles looked around at the table, and felt incredibly grateful. All of his worries, all of his fears, the absolute dread he felt as his name was called out not too long ago, it was slowly fading away. This was more than he ever could have asked for, and he promised himself, and the Hales silently, that he wouldn't take it for granted. 

"Now then, how about breakfast?" Talia clapped her hands together, standing.

"Thank fuck, I am starving!" Erica pushed her chair back quickly, joining Talia to presumably help in the kitchen. 

Boyd sighed and chased after her rather quickly.

"Don't let her touch the food, you know she can't cook!" Cora yelled, running after them both. 

"Children." Laura huffed, walking towards the kitchen.

Isaac headed towards the living room and Peter disappeared into thin air, leaving only Derek and his father accompanying Stiles at the large table.

"I don't like this, son." John shook his head, hands clasped on the table.

"Dad-"

"Stiles, I get it, I do. I want a better world, a different world but-"

"Dad, we finally have a chance to stop dreaming about it, to do something." Stiles pleaded with him.

"I know that, and I'm glad. . . I just wish it weren't you doing it."

Stiles rolled his eyes, knowing his dad was just worried. "I've got the big bad wolf with me, along with the support of the entire Hale pack, who, if you haven't noticed are entirely too powerful and wealthy for their own good."

Derek snorted, looking away. Though he was present, he seemed to almost be leaving them alone to talk, in his own way.

"Since when do you trust Alphas?" John asked, sitting back, looking at him curiously.

"Since they decided to treat me as one of their own unconditionally." Stiles answered simply, though he was a little surprised to find it slipping out of his mouth.

Derek squeezed his knee under the table once again, a sign of comfort. 

John nodded, scrutinizing them both. "Gotta say I'm a little surprised."

"About what?" Stiles asked.

"This," John motioned. "I mean, you hated Alphas, Stiles. I figured you would have ran kicking and screaming, but here you are sitting at a table full of them."

Stiles shook his head, a little annoyed at his father. What, did he want him to hate them all? At this point, it wouldn't help him in any case. 

"I'm learning too." Stiles said simply.

John nodded. "And you," he pointed at Derek. "If you lay one finger on my boy, if you hurt one hair on his head-"

"Dad-" Stiles groaned.

"Don't even. I never thought I would have gotten the chance to lecture the Alpha that claimed my child, hell, I thought I would never get to see you again-"

"Which is exactly why you don't need to drill him-"

"Stiles." Derek spoke, making both of the Stilinski men pause.

"Sir," Derek leaned forward, but kept the hand on Stiles' knee. "I promise that I will always keep your son safe. Always. I know you yourself must have certain opinions about our family, given what you have been through. But I can promise you that your son will be nothing but loved and cared for by this family. By me. I won't ever hurt him."

The room grew incredibly quiet until John cleared his throat. "Well, then, I- uh- ahem, good."

Derek nodded sternly, sitting back slightly. "I'm going to go check on breakfast." He got up rather quickly, leaving the room at the same pace.

John raised an eyebrow at his son, and Stiles just shrugged, surprised himself.

"I thought you hadn't completed the mating-"

"What? Dad, no, hush!" Stiles flailed.

"You sure about that, because from what I just heard-" John jerked his thumb over his shoulder, motioning to Derek.

"Dad, oh my God, I think I would know if- wait no, shut up, Alpha hearing!" Stiles hissed, leaning forward, both palms planted on the table.

"Guess you're right, I'd be able to smell it all over you-"

"Dad! Oh my God-" He clung his head on the table, right as the pack started to bring in their breakfast.

"Did I miss something?" Erica hummed.

"No, nope, nothing happening here. Is that bacon? I love bacon!" Stiles sat up.

The plates were quickly passed around and Stiles almost orgasmed at how good it was. He forgot how much wolves ate, especially Alphas. Derek himself had like twelve pieces of bacon on one, yes one, of his plates. Regardless, they knew how to cook. 

They all wolfed down their food rather silently, occasionally bantering with each other.

"It's your turn." Cora argued.

"No, I did them two days ago." Isaac argued back.

"Well I did them yesterday." Erica crossed her arms.

"Boyd-" Cora began. 

"Nope, I play the I-got-shot card."

"You've been healed for a day!" Cora whined.

Stiles snorted. "I think Derek should do the dishes."

Cora's eyes lit up. "Yes! Derek it is totally your turn, I can't even name the last time you did the dishes."

Derek made a face. "That's because I don't live here anymore."

"So my case still stands, your turn." Cora smirked as she stacked three plates in his hand, before running off. The rest of the pack quickly disappeared, even his father, leaving only Stiles and Derek in the dining room.

"You started this, you have to help." Derek called over his shoulder, heading to the kitchen with all the dishes. Stupid werewolf strength. 

Stiles groaned, but followed along. "So you are like other Alphas, making me slave away, doing chores, like washing the dishes."

Derek gave him a look, making Stiles laugh. "Fine, fine."

Derek washed and Stiles dried. He noticed that they had a super fancy looking dishwasher, but didn't say anything.

"So, I have some questions." Stiles began, not looking at Derek.

"You can ask me anything you want." Derek shrugged. 

"Well. . . I mean it's only fair that I learn about Alphas, right?" Stiles didn't wait for a response. "I didn't realize how little I had known about them, until I met you. Or maybe I just didn't know Alphas could be any different."

Derek shrugged again. "I don't really see myself as different."

Stiles snorted. "Are you joking? Besides the fact that you actually respect, well, me in general, you're an Alpha of the Hale pack, and control the military. You can fly the world's fastest plane for fuck's sake."

Derek smirked, amused as he handed Stiles another cup. "We're working on another one, faster."

"Christ." Stiles shook his head, drying the cup and sitting it to the right. 

"But I mean it, you can ask me whatever you want." 

"And you'll answer it honestly?" Stiles asked.

Derek screwed his face. "Now I'm really not looking forward to this."

"Derek." Stiles whined. "You promised honesty." 

Derek sighed and stopped washing the dishes. "Yeah I guess I broke that, didn't I?" He paused for a second longer, before he continued, rinsing off the last plate and handing it to Stiles to towel off.

"Okay, yeah, I promise."

"Good." Stiles sat the plate down as they both dried off their hands, leaving the task of putting up the dishes to someone else, as Derek lead them out of the kitchen.

"Come with me." Derek spoke, before leading him to a door. He opened it, revealing a flight of stairs.

"Should I be afraid?" Stiles asked, looking weirdly at the stairs.

"Come on, big baby." Derek shoved him down the stairs, and shutting the door, enveloping them in darkness.

"Now hold up, I wasn't expecting it to be completely pitch black-" Stiles stopped talking when he turned and saw Derek's eyes, a blazing red color, looking down at him.

"Cheater." Stiles mumbled, crossing his arms.

Derek only laughed, before putting his hand on the small of his back, prepared to catch him if he fell, which was certainty possible. 

Eventually, Stiles made it to the bottom and Derek quickly turned on the light, making Stiles wince at the brightness. 

He looked around and noticed the basement wasn't all that scary, it was just a wide open space with another giant table pushed near the far right corner. On the opposite wall was a giant chest, and Stiles wondered what that could be for, what it could have in it. It looked old, and dusty, and had the triskele on it. He would add that to his questions, for now, he had one very, very important one.

"Why are we down here?" Stiles made a face, but took a seat at the table, Derek joining him.

"It's soundproof." Derek said simply.

"Why?" Stiles asked, screwing his face in confusion.

"For new shifters, it can be rough." Derek shrugged.

"Okay, Derek, see, I don't know anything, clearly, about Alphas, so you're going to have to kind of elaborate. I mean I know that wolves' first full moon and all that is horrible, but is it different for Alphas?"

"Not really. Born Alphas are stronger than betas, so naturally their first shift you have to take more precautions." His eyes glanced over to the chest, and Stiles followed the movement.

"What's in there?" Stiles motioned with his head.

"Chains, mostly. We haven't had to use them in a while, Cora was the last to learn control." 

Stiles nodded. "Is that hard for you, learning control? I mean, I've always heard Alphas don't really have control, but I don't know if that's just a stereotype."

"Stereotype, to a degree." Derek leaned his head. "I mean, Alphas are protective, which can sometimes turn into possessiveness. But anyone can learn, it's all about if you're willing to or not. I don't walk down the streets and lose control when I smell an Omega near heat." Derek shook his head.

"So it's a choice thing." Stiles confirmed.

"Yes. . . and no." Derek said after a moment. "I mean it's a choice not to be a jackass to other people. Blaming your harassment of an Omega on your lack of control due to you Alpha status is a choice thing. That's you choosing to be a jackass. But, there are certain things that are inherently difficult for Alphas to control."

"Like?" Stiles asked.

"Like their need to be with an Omega." Derek exhaled. "It's rooted in our DNA to crave an Omega, that's something no one can turn off, regardless of how they feel towards Omegas. So the pull is there, constantly, but. . . it grows stronger in certain situations."

"Like?" Stiles asked, motioning for Derek to continue. Dude had to start elaborating. 

"Like heats. Like Mating Runs. Like claiming. Like bonding. Like mating."

Stiles nodded, tips of his ears turning red. He knew this was a professional conversation they were having, but the fact that he was having it with his Alpha, the one who had the power to change Stiles current un-officially-mated status made the conversation slightly more uncomfortable. And it was almost odd, to see someone like Derek, so stoic, professional, militant, discussing things such as heats. And it was kind of hot. 

"So the whole Omega scent thing, that's as powerful as they say?" Stiles asked cautiously.

"No stereotypes there." Derek grunted. 

"Well what's it. . . I mean what's like?" Stiles asked.

Derek cleared his throat, looking slightly embarrassed. "It's kind of hard to describe."

"Try, please." Stiles smiled softly. He wanted to know. Wanted to learn. Wanted to know that Alphas were different than the idea that he had stuck in his head his entire life.

"I guess it's like. . ." he looked away, looking for the words. "Like a burning sensation almost, all over your body, almost an itch. Live a craving. It's wanting something that's right there in front of you, and turning away from it, I guess. Like being thirsty, not having water in days, and seeing a full glass right there in front of you. . . of course that's not your every day walking down the street that's. . ."

"That's claiming." Stiles nodded.

"And afterwards." Derek nodded. 

"So, do you. . ." Stiles trailed off. Derek looked away again, clinching his jaw. "Sorry, that was like super personal, you don't have to-"

"Yes. I mean, it is like that, but that doesn't mean I can't control it." Derek snapped, seeming angry at himself. He deflated only a moment later, noticing how stiff Stiles had gone.

"I'm sorry, I. . . do you remember when you stepped off that plane, how I had acted?" Derek asked.

Stiles snorted. "Yeah I'm pretty sure I peed a little."

Derek continued. "It was one thing, knowing you were coming, I told you that, but it was also your scent. As soon as you stepped off that plane I could smell you. It was like the hunt began, it was worse than that first night. The night I thought I was going to claw my own throat out if I couldn't find you." He shook his head.

"It was stronger because of the claim?" Stiles guessed. Derek nodded.

"So then, when Peter was talking about it being painful for you, will that keep happening?"

"We're together now, so it's better-"

"But will it keep happening? That burning or whatever?" Stiles asked, concerned. 

Derek didn't want to answer that. "Stiles-"

"Derek. You said you would answer honestly." Stiles snapped. He knew that wasn't fair, that this wasn't easy on Derek. He promised to learn, but he didn't need to torture Derek in the process.

"Yes." He sighed defeated.

"How-how could you not tell me that, that you were hurting?" Stiles was growing angry. This whole time, Derek had been hurting and Stiles didn't even know.

"Stiles, it's not bad it's-"

"You just said it was like your entire body was on fire Derek, I mean fuck." Stiles ran a hand through his hair. "I didn't know."

"How could you?"Derek asked.

"Yeah, well, I guess it'd be a non-issue for most, most Omegas would have been bred by now right?"

Derek growled, eyes flashing in anger.

"Sorry, that wasn't directed at you. I just. . . what can I do?" Stiles asked. He hated that Derek was hurting, that it was his fault. That Derek had done nothing but good for Stiles and that Stiles couldn't give anything in return.

Derek growled again, standing up quickly, turning his back to Stiles and confusing him further.

"For one, don't say stuff like that." Derek growled out.

"Wha-"

"Your scent, it is the most strong I have ever smelled in my life. It's specialized, now that I've claimed you. My body, and yours, without you even knowing it, is pulling me in everyday, harder and harder. So you can't. . .  invite me in like that. Your words, your touch, it all pulls me in. I can't leave you again, but I also can't. . ."

Derek trailed off and Stiles understood, making him feel more like shit. He wished things were different more than ever then. Wished he and Derek were betas. Wish they had fallen in love in a coffee shop. 

But those weren't the circumstances and Derek knew that and he held back as much as he could. Stiles realized how hard it must be for him, only brushing his hand against the small of his back, placing a hand on his knee. His body was killing him from the inside out, all because they hadn't completed the mating bond. 

But Stiles couldn't be entirely selfless. He wanted to help Derek, so desperately, and he would be a liar if he said he didn't ever want to be with Derek, but he wasn't ready. Once this was done, it was done, and Stiles wasn't sure what would happen after that. He was already unsure of so much, he just wanted to be sure that he and Derek were okay. Unfortunately, the only thing he was sure of was that Derek was hurting and it would get worse day by day. 

"I'm sorry-" Stiles started. Derek whipped around quickly, eyes red.

"Don't apologize. I won't force you to do anything, ever. Don't-don't ever think that-"

"Hey," Stiles stood, walking closer towards Derek, who froze in place. "I know, okay. I trust you." And that meant everything. It meant that despite what Derek was, despite what Stiles was, he was willing to try. Was willing to trust.

Derek nodded, taking a seat again. Stiles knew he had to be more cautious. If Derek had learned to control himself and continued to fight this as he was, then Stiles had to at least give him the respect of backing off a little, when he needed that. And stepping up a little, when he needed it.

That didn't mean jumping into bed, but Stiles wasn't afraid of Derek, not anymore. Wasn't afraid to touch him. Wasn't afraid to lean into him. If that's what Derek needed, Stiles could do that.

"Look, I- I know that sounds kind of scary, but I'm fine, promise. Just don't-don't ever change who you are, or what you want, or do anything for me that you don't want to, okay?"

Stiles nodded. "Derek Hale, when have you ever known me to do anything I didn't want?"

They both laughed, lightening the mood enough to where Stiles felt like he could continue. 

"When you. . . came at me," Stiles chose his words carefully, looking at Derek for a sign to stop, but he gave none. "You almost seemed to be. . . I don't know, not entirely yourself-"

"Yeah, again, sorry about that." Derek hung his head.

"Stop apologizing." Stiles smacked him lightly, and Derek caught his hand quickly, making Stiles inhale sharply in surprise. Derek just held it in one hand, flipping it over to trace the lines of his palm.

"When we shift, Alphas, sometimes we go in a sort of trance. Sometimes we're sort of blinded by rage, sometimes blinded by something else." Derek shrugged. Stiles didn't have to ask what that something else was.

"But you broke out of it, your trance, or whatever." Stiles waved around his other hand. 

Derek nodded. "It's sort of complicated. Take your scent for example, it was the thing, partially at least, that sent me into a frenzy, and yet it can be used to calm me, along with your touch."

"So the neck thing." Derek smiled softly, breaking his gaze with his hand to look into his eyes.

"Every Alpha has a. . .  spot. Your scent is strong there and- I don't know it's just-"

"My spot?"

Derek snorted. "Yeah, sounds stupid coming out of my mouth."

Stiles laughed. "A little, but I think I understand. Scent, touch, it's comforting. And given my elevated scent, and your elevated senses, it makes it all that more strong."

"Yeah, pretty much."

Stiles smiled. "You wolves, always such cuddlers. Even Scott was like that-"

Derek growled lowly, though there was no hate or malice in it.

"That's another thing, you wolves are so possessive."

"Protective." Derek corrected.

"Jealous." Stiles retorted. Derek only rolled his eyes.

"Well whatever you call it, the fact still stands." Derek didn't argue that. 

"So. . . " Stiles regretted opening his mouth as soon as he did it. 

"What?"

"Nothing." Stiles shook his head.

"Say it." Derek encouraged. 

Stiles turned red. "Well I- uh- I just want to make sure that- well, you know-" 

"Stiles." Derek spoke impatiently. He had to know about Stiles' sputtering and procrastinating by now. 

"I want to help-"

Derek began to protest, dropping his hand, but Stiles placed a hand on his chest, stopping him, though if Derek wanted to press forward, he could. 

"I want to help. That may not mean much, right now." Stiles felt it was necessary to add on that last bit, to clarify that he wasn't completely unwilling to get fucked by Derek senseless.

"But I want to." Derek stared at Stiles, looking for the lie and he had no doubt he was listening for the skip of his heartbeat as well. 

"So how can I help?" Stiles asked, removing his hand from Derek's chest, but once again, Derek snatched it up quickly, placing it back.

"This." Derek said simply. Touch. Comfort. It was simple. Stiles could do that. 

Stiles nodded and looked down at his hand on Derek's chest. It was warm, comforting Stiles, though the goal was supposed to be the other way around. It was a reminder. That he was here. That Derek was here. That he had gotten chosen by Derek, an Alpha who cared for Stiles, not just as an Omega, but as a man.

"I guess it was smart having the soundproof walls." Stiles shrugged.

Derek shrugged. "You haven't asked anything wildly inappropriate yet." He joked.

"I'm not done yet." Stiles smirked, Derek swallowed in response. "But I'll ease up for now." 

Derek smiled and they both got up, heading back upstairs. As soon as the door opened, Stiles realized how truly soundproof the basement was. It was like the house came alive. Isaac and Erica yelling about some movie they were watching, Boyd making something in the kitchen. 

It was warm, nice. It was pack.

"You okay?" Derek asked, once more placing his hand on the small of Stiles' back. Stiles like it there. He leaned back into it, making Derek smile.

"Yeah, yeah I'm okay."

***

The next few days went by essentially the same. They would wake up, all eat breakfast together, and go about their day. Of course by the third day, they all had work to do, vacation over.

Talia spent the majority of her day in the office, door shut. Laura spent most of her day yelling on the phone. Boyd spent his on the computer, dealing with what looked to be military business. Isaac and Erica spent most of their day bickering. John spent most of his day reading the news. Derek spent most of his day with Stiles.

Stiles spent most of his day trying to work on his next speech. He still wasn't sure what he wanted to say. How do you get the message across to begin to care and learn about others? Talia and Laura tried to console him as best they can, but ultimately left it up to him. He wished they would just type it up like the last speech they proposed.

All in all though, it had been quiet. The news continued to broadcast his message and more articles were being published. Stiles tried not to look at most of them, or watch the news, but Cora assured him it was almost all pure bewilderment and curiosity, rather than negativity. 

Stiles decided to spend the afternoon outside, in the woods, only a few yards from the house of course, he never could wander too far. 

The papers were in front of him but all he ended up doing was scribbling stuff out and wadding up the papers. Maybe he was looking at the wrong angle. He had said before this couldn't just be about him.

Standing quickly, he gathered his useless papers and headed inside. Derek had been upstairs on the phone all afternoon, dealing with some political junk, Stiles was sure. But that gave him time to do something he might otherwise disapprove of. 

He stood outside of the door, hesitating only for a moment, before he knocked. Talia quickly greeted him and stepped to the side, inviting him in.

He took the chance to look around the great office again, at all the books. He would get his hands on those one day.

"Please, take a seat, Stiles." Ever formal.

"Talia," Stiles paused. Sometimes it still tripped him up, not to call her Alpha. 

"I've been working on this speech and I think I'm going about it wrong."

"Please share." Talia crossed her legs, leaning back in her chair.

"It can't just be me, one person saying all of this. Everyone assumes that you, the Hale pack, are on my side or whatever, but I think they need to see it. I mean, us, together, but. . . it's important to have an Omega standing up, I agree, but people are still cautious, curious. They won't step behind me, but they'll step behind you. If we can get people to see that he Hale pack is involved, truly involved, then maybe they'll start to listen. I'm a nobody, which can be a good angle, but not yet. People need answers right now, to know this wasn't just a fluke. Omegas need to know that this is real, that this is happening. That they have Alphas on their side."

"You know you have my support, always."

Stiles nodded. "They need to know that."

Talia nodded. "Very well. I can call in the crews today. We have time to do a formal video, edit it and everything, if that's what you wish."

Stiles shook his head. "No, we don't want to instill fear. If people see a video, all of us dressed up fancy, clear cameras and bullet point sentences, it feels cold. We want to unite, people need to see that. How we can be equal. It needs to be casual."

Talia nodded. "Very well. Who all would you like involved?"

"Everyone, the whole pack." Stiles nodded. "As soon as possible. It's been days."

Stiles knew it was time to put something out. The Hale pack had completely cut themselves out of the media. No one had seen or heard from the Hales or Stiles in several days, not since the attack on Sector Forty-Seven, which could have the possibility of scaring people, making them think something was wrong.

"I'll make the calls." She stood and Stiles gave her a quick thanks, before rushing to exit. As soon as he stepped out of the door, he ran into Derek, a wall of stone. 

"Well hey there." Stiles laughed as Derek steadied him on his feet. 

Derek smirked down, "What're you planning? You have that look on your face."

"What look?" Stiles made a face.

"The conniving look. You're up to something. And I'm not sure I'm going to like it." Derek squinted. 

"Well considering your overall hatred for the media, probably not."

Derek grunted, pulling them both towards the table, where everyone was already sitting. Damn, Talia worked fast.

"Have you finally killed all the trees and ran out of paper?" Cora asked, feet propped up and blowing a bubble with her gum.

"If that's your version of asking me if I have finally come up with a plan, the answer is yes."

"Let's hear it." Laura spoke, right as Talia walked in and took a seat. Stiles glanced at her, then continued.

"People need to hear from an Omega, yes, but. . . right now people are scared. They need to hear from someone they know, someone they trust, Alphas need that too. If Omegas know that the Hales are on the side of Omega rights, and I mean officially dead set, not just speculation or an occasional interview question, if they are backing an uprising, then they'll feel safer."

"Or they'll hate us more and try to slaughter us all." Peter spoke, appearing once more.

"Christ!" Isaac jumped in surprise.

"That won't happen." Derek growled out, squeezing Stiles' thigh tightly. Stiles places his own overtop it, making him relax.

"Derek's right. Our message is unity. Of course there will be people that fight back, but we have to try and get people to be as peaceful as possible, not threaten them."

"People aren't just going to stop their ways because some Omega said so." Peter sneered.

"Which is exactly why all of us, the Hale pack are going broadcast a message."

Erica clapped her hands, excited to be on TV. "We're going to ask for help, from others, other Sectors, other packs. Talia, you have friends that seemed to enjoy my company at the party, think they're willing to show their support?"

"Absolutely."

"We can get a sort of chain going." Laura nodded. 

"If we can get leaders to show support, people will begin to follow." Isaac included.

"And then if people do try something, their Sectors can take care of it." Boyd chimed in.

"This is a good plan, son." John nodded.

Peter sneered again, and everyone ignored him, except for Stiles.

"What do you think, Peter?" Stiles asked. Derek pressed lightly into Stiles' thigh, warning him.

"I think that this is only going to inspire the Alphas that were holding back."

"Holding back?" Stiles asked.

"Peter-" Laura started.

"Nay, nay, little Laura. He needs to hear this. Stiles," He turned to look at him once more. "Are you aware that the majority of rapists and murderers are Alphas? Statistically speaking. Do you think those particular Alphas are going to like the fact that not only a little measly Omega is standing up to fight for rights, but that Omega also has support of not only the Hale pack, but many other well-known Alphas? If you think this won't end in bloodshed, you truly are more stupid than you look."

Derek snapped out of his chair, lunging at Peter, before Laura caught him.

"Sit." She snapped at Derek. He didn't obey, but reeled back the claws.

"I'm not stupid, first of all." Stiles stood, making his chair squeak and heads turn. "I know the costs, I know what I am sacrificing, I know the danger I am putting you and everyone else in. But I also know the lives that I will save in the long run. I won't force others to listen, to bow down to me. That's the opposite of the message I am trying to send. But for once in my life, I have confidence that not every Alpha is a bigot. I know that they are big, and strong, and powerful, which means that if I can convince the good Alphas to stand up for the Omegas, to stand up to the bigots, then we won't have to worry about those rapists and those murderers you speak of. It won't be easy. Blood will be spilled. But there will not be a war. Unlike your crowd, Omegas don't want to rule over others, we just want to walk down the street without fear of our lives." Stiles exhaled sharply. 

Stiles slipped his hand into Derek's. 

"So go fuck yourself. I don't need your help, because you have made it clear that you don't want what I'm fighting for, so I don't want you on my side."

"Oh little Omega, I love a good wet hole as much as the next Alpha."

Quickly, Erica was on him, growling and snapping her jaw. Isaac quickly joined, before Boyd and Laura were trying to pull them both off. Isaac was successful in landing a good punch, sending blood in the air as Cora cheered them on, but they all stopped quickly when Talia let out a menacing roar.

Everyone immediately submitted, apart from the Alphas, though Cora and Laura turned their necks briefly out of respect. Derek remained still, crushing Stiles' hand in his own, staring down murderously at Peter, shifted out.

"Derek." Talia spoke very slowly. It was then everyone turned to him, slowly and silently. 

"If you ever," Derek started, growling low in his chest, sending a hum throughout his body and making Stile's hand vibrate.

"Say something like that about my mate again, I will rip your throat out with my teeth and wear your organs like a pearl fucking necklace."

Stiles stifled a giggle, while everyone else looked terrified. Stiles looked around briefly, before settling on Peter. Though he tried to cover it, even he looked scared.

"Never again. Or you're out. I mean it." Derek snapped his jaws and let out a brief roar, making everyone submit once more.

Derek let go of Stiles' hand and stalked out of the room, leaving them all stunned.

"That was-" Stiles cut himself off. It didn't seem like the time for a sarcastic comment and it was a proud moment when Stiles could get himself to shut up.

"It's getting worse-" Cora started, but Talia quickly growled at her. 

What was that about? Surely that wasn't part of the whole not completing the bond thing, that was just Derek being angry, right?

Stiles turned and began to follow Derek, ignoring the yells from behind him, telling him not to follow Derek, to turn around and come back. But they themselves had said that he could do what he wanted. And what he wanted was to find Derek.

He walked outside towards the woods, knowing that that was where Derek liked to be when he was thinking. He frequently saw him stalking towards the woods, shoulders hunched in anger, or whatever else he was feeling. He had asked Laura about that, who, with a sad smile, said that was just sort of his place. That every wolf had a sort of comfort spot. Cora's was her room, as was most teenagers, Laura's was the house, Talia's was some tree called the Nemeton. Derek's was the woods.

Stiles of course didn't know where he was going, but Derek wasn't one to hide, especially with the idea of Stiles being alone in the woods.

"Derek?" Stiles called, pushing back some tree limbs, looking around.

"Der?" He called. Woah. Nicknames, that was new. Chill, Stiles.

He heard a growl and quickly whipped around, greeted by red eyes. His heart hammered, mere inches in between himself and his Alpha. 

"You shouldn't have come after me." Derek growled out. 

Stiles folded his arms. "And leave you to mope alone? I don't think so." 

Derek shook his head, clinching his jaw so tight Stiles swore he heard his teeth grind together.

"Look, Peter-" It took a second for Stiles to realize that he was just shoved against a tree, back rubbing against the bark. The air was knocked from him, releasing a strange sound from the back of his throat.

"Don't." Derek spat.

"Okay, yeah, totally no more saying Pe- that name. Nope, bad man, very bad man." Stiles patted Derek's shoulder twice, then let it linger there in thought.

Derek's eyes were still glowing red, peering into Stiles' like he was looking for something.

"Can you even feel that?" Derek asked, still sounding mad.

"Wha-" Stiles shook his head in confusion.

Derek shifted, grabbing Stiles' hand and pressing it against his chest. He looked again into Stiles' eyes, searching. 

"You can't, can you?" Derek shook his head, clinching his jaw again.

"Der-" 

Derek brought his hand up, pressing it against Stiles' own chest, still looking. He slid it up, cupping Stiles' face, looking desperate as only his red eyes remained from his previous full shift. 

"Nothing." Derek spat. 

"Derek, please, just tell me what you're-"

"You don't feel it." Derek pulled back angrily, taking a step back and shaking his head again. "Nothing." He took another step back.

"Der-" 

Derek took off, disappearing like Peter always did, completely gone as soon as Stiles blinked.

"Derek!" He shouted after him, walking off in the direction Derek took a step towards. 

He kept calling after him, and after a few minutes, stopped walking. He noticed his cheeks were wet, he had been crying. Where had the Alpha gone? Derek never left his side, rarely left the house himself, only to pick up food, or take a phone call, or run around in the woods to "blow off steam." Whatever that meant. 

He didn't know where he was, where Derek was. He was alone, and afraid, and desperately hoping that Derek was okay.

He slid down against a tree, falling down with a huff and bringing his knees up to his chest. He rested his forehead there, arms hugging himself. The sun was almost set and it was freezing out. He was certainly not dressed for the weather, wearing only a t-shirt and jeans. 

He gave himself that moment, just to sit, and to cry. He hadn't really gotten to have one of those moments in a while. He cried because of the pressure. He cried for the future. He cried for the state of things. He cried for the Omegas. He cried for the Alphas. He cried for his dad. He cried for himself. He cried for Derek. He cried because he had fucked this up. 

"You don't feel it." 

What did he mean? Stiles brought his head up, looking up at the sky. The stars were beginning to come up. He looked to the moon, the same shape, same placement of that first night they had met. The night of the Mating Run. The night he had been claimed. He had dreaded it so badly, still shivered at the memory. All of it, except being with Derek. It should have been horrible, terrifying, but it was soft, and comforting, and it was so Derek.

Derek was soft, and comforting, and everything that Stiles hadn't expected, but everything he had needed. And he had fucked it up. He had been hurting Derek, this whole time. And he hurt Derek bad today. 

Looking at the stars, he began to connect them, as he began to connect the dots in his own mind. Derek had admitted that he felt like he was burning, constantly itching to be with Stiles, his body pushing him further and further day by day. Derek had to fight every day. He hurt, every day, but still respected Stiles, kept away from him. Kept their relationships professional, friendly. Kept his distance. Derek was trying to be perfect and Stiles made him feel like he was alone.

Had made him feel that Stiles felt nothing.

Fuck.

Stiles rested his head on his knees, pulling them closer, caving in on himself.

"You don't feel it."

He did, he did feel it. Fuck, he felt it. So strong he thought sometimes he was choking on it. And Derek was perfect, and he knew this, but that fucking voice in the back of his head never fully left him. 

"You don't feel it."

Stiles swiped at his tears, angry. He had been so worried about everything else, about Omegas, sometimes he forgot. Alphas were people too. Derek was real, he had real emotions. Despite how Derek wanted to act, how he felt, he was fundamentally and biologically an Alpha. And neither one of them could deny that. And Stiles couldn't deny how he felt.

He felt it. 

Stiles stood quickly, catching himself on the same tree he had been leaning against, unsteady on his feet. He shook his head, looking up to the moon once again. Remembering when Derek was laying on top of him as he stared up at the dome, shooting projections of happy, smiling Omega faces down at them.

He walked, shivering and cowering in on himself. He just wanted to be with Derek, to promise him that he felt it. He felt it.

He walked, for what felt like forever, fingers going numb.

He walked, eyes constantly searching. 

He walked, whispering out Derek's name occasionally, all he could muster.

There was a snap of a twig behind him and he whipped around. "Derek?" He whispered out, but all that came out was a rabbit, freezing in fear when it saw Stiles, who only sighed and turned back.

There was no telling how deep in the woods he was. There was no way he could circle back to the Hale mansion, he had no idea where it even was at this point. Turning and going back where he came from wasn't an option, he hadn't even been walking in a straight line. 

He looked to the moon again, throat burning with thirst and the cold, and he wondered if that was how Derek felt. 

Burning.

He wanted to cry again, but had used up all of his tears. He looked down, spotting a creek. It rippled with the slight breeze and reflected the bright white moon. Stiles froze. 

He thought back to that night. When he had run, when he had been chased. He thought back to when he stepped off the plane. When Laura had warned him not to run. Alpha wolves often acted on instinct, Derek had said that himself. 

He had to run, he had to be chased. 

Stiles looked around, quickly rubbing up against a tree, hoping he was able to mark his scent there. He cursed himself for wandering around for hours, he was already so exhausted, muscles stiff. For all he knew, Derek was back at the Hale mansion, or in another Sector. He pushed that thought away, hoping that Derek was near enough to hear, smell, sense, whatever, that his Omega was running through the woods.

Stiles took off, albeit slowly, running in a random direction, but trying to run straight. Perhaps he would even run into Derek.

As he ran, he thought about what this would mean, what would happen. He knew the stakes. If this worked, Derek would chase him down, act on instinct. He would pin him down. He would complete the bond. 

Tears found their way running down Stiles' face once more.

Because he didn't care. He didn't care what it meant. What would happen.

Because he felt it.

He pushed harder, chest burning and lungs protesting at the cold air. His limbs were stiff, tired and achy. He wanted to slow, but he refused.

He panted, crying, trying to catch his breath and he sprinted in an unknown direction, hoping that something else wouldn't catch him.

"Derek, you stupid, son of a bitch-" He tripped, tumbling down, twisting his ankle and groaning out in pain. He gave himself only a moment to lay there in pain, before he was forcing himself up again, forcing himself to run. He was able to run off the twisted ankle, almost entirely.

He sobbed as he ran, from the pain, from the situation, from his misery, from his fear.

He heard a snap of twig and kept running. He heard another and ran harder. Please.

He hard a huff, a growl, and pushed harder, crying harder. Please.

Within another second, he was tackled, landing hard on his side with a groan. He quickly fought his capture in fear that it was anyone but Derek. He almost didn't recognize the man on top of him, but was instantly flashed back to that first night. That damn first night. Derek fully shifted on top of him, growling down, eyes red.

Stiles breathed heavy, just breathed, looking up at Derek, who didn't move.

Stiles sniffed and breathed heavy, gripping Derek's shoulder, pulling him closer. Somehow, though he was pinned, Derek was barely touching him.

"I feel it." Stiles nodded frantically. Derek's eyes softened, though his brows furrowed.

Stiles reached up, placing a hand on Derek's chest. He grabbed one of Derek's hands and place it on his own chest, which was still moving up and down rapidly as he tried to catch his breath.

"I feel it." Stiles repeated, trying to make Derek understand.

Derek growled softly and leaned down, nuzzling his head into Stiles' neck, breathing in his scent. His spot. 

He wanted so desperately for Derek to believe him. He could hear his heartbeat right? He had to believe it. 

They sat like that for a few minutes, Stiles slowly regaining his breath, staring up at the moon.

Derek pulled back slowly and Stiles visibly shocked at the fact that it was green eyes staring back at him.

"You ran." Derek said.

"You ran first." Stiles retorted.

Derek clinched his jaw. "You shouldn't have ran, I-"

"I knew what it meant." Stiles snapped. "I don't know much about Alphas, but I knew what I was doing."

"Why would you. . . ?" Derek trailed off, shaking his head, still above him.

"Because I feel it." Stiles spoke, pressing his hand against Derek's chest again, who rumbled in approval. 

"I know I wasn't acting like it. . . I know I don't feel the same way you do, I mean, I know that we feel differently, fuck, no, I mean-"

"That I feel as an Alpha, and you feel as an Omega." Derek offered.

Stiles nodded quickly. "And it's different, okay? I know it's killing you, I know it is-" Stiles sucked in a shaky breath and more tears fell.

Derek softly swiped at one with his thumb, then cupped Stiles' face.

"And I don't want you to hurt anymore, okay? And I was scared, I'm so fucking scared, all the time, but I am so fucking tired of it, Derek, I am. And I feel it, I felt it that first night and that- that is so fucking scary for me, but I-I feel it Derek." 

Derek shushed him softly, pulling him up, until Stiles was completely in his arms. 

"I don't want you to hurt anymore." Stiles whispered, pressing his forehead into Derek's shoulder.

"It's going to be okay." Derek spoke into Stiles' hair. They sat their for a few more moments, before Derek picked him up, walking in another direction. Stiles grew even more tired but fought it. He still had more to say, more to ask.

"I'm sorry." Derek spoke, voice thick. 

Stiles shook his head, still gripping onto Derek. "You don't have to say you're sorry. You're allowed to feel."

Stiles knew that wasn't in Derek's nature. He was generally more quiet, reserved. He was a strong military leader, a strong, powerful Alpha. It wasn't in his nature to feel more than anger and contempt. 

They remained quiet as Derek carried Stiles back to the Hale mansion. Stiles was half-asleep when they arrived, only able to catch a few bits of a conversation. Most of it worry, asking if they were both okay, and part lecturing, saying how stupid they both were. 

Stiles felt Derek's muscles shift as he climbed the stairs and laid him softly in bed. Derek pulled back, but Stiles clinched his fist harder around the ball of Derek's t-shirt he had been holding, pulling. 

Derek smiled softly, and climbed in next to him, pulling him close and humming, vibrating them both. He nuzzled down into his neck. His spot. And Stiles slinked a leg in between Derek's, embracing the warmth. 

Embracing that they both felt it. 

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

The next several weeks blurred together. Every day was the same and it was taking a toll on the entire pack. Stiles watched as they grew more and more restless, pacing around the house, or wringing their hands. It reminded Stiles over and over again that they were pack creatures, they needed to run, not to be crammed up in a house. Though Derek tried to comfort Stiles, it was obvious he was feeling the effects as well. 

Today, though, there was a certain excitement in the air. Today it was decided the Hale's were going to host a press conference. 

The security measures had taken the longest to set up, Boyd and Derek going over things repeatedly. It was a Sector Five exclusive, only those born and raised in the Sector, and those who agreed to be researched extensively, were invited. Stiles was pretty sure they had samples of these people's blood at this point.

They decided to host it at the Hale house, where the entire pack felt most comfortable, where there would be a million eyes, visible and not. Boyd was assigned to stay closest to Stiles, to essentially be his bodyguard, though Stiles argued that Derek, and Talia for that matter, could handle it, not to mention himself. Though, Stiles would be an idiot to ignore what was happening in the world, to ignore the idea that there were people out there who wanted to hurt him. 

Many other men he recognized from the air base were now crowding the Hale mansion, stationed at every exit, every door, even guarding the damn bathroom. It was growing suffocating, especially as everyone else continued to run around, preparing for the event.

Stiles sucked in a deep breath, straightening his tie as he stared in the bathroom mirror. He had shut himself in here for the past hour or so, trying to catch his breath. The tight suit around his neck only made things worse. He felt like the walls were closing in slowly, day by day. He couldn't escape it, he just had to endure.

The last time he had looked like this he had been walking down the steps of the Hale mansion, the steps he now climbed daily. Today, he barely even recognized the place, with its elaborate decorations the sparkled and shone. It no longer felt like a home. 

He didn't recognize himself either.

A gentle knock sounded on the bedroom door and Stiles was visibly surprised to see Cora there. She sported a tight black dress and a grimace similar to Stiles'.

"You're going to want to let me in." She spoke, though she shoved herself past Stiles to let herself in regardless of what he was going to respond.

"What's that?" Stiles asked, motioning to the compact bag she held in her hand.

"This is what is going to save your ass." She marched towards the bathroom, setting down the bag and messing with her pristine hair that was intricately braided on top of her head, exposing her collarbones and soft neck. She was beautiful. 

She meddled only for a second longer, waiting for Stiles to follow her further into the bathroom, before she began to open the bag and pull out a million different things.

"You're not seriously thinking about putting that on me, right?" Stiles asked, looking at the products with skepticism. 

Cora smirked and Stiles focused on the dark plum color that coated her lips, growing even more nervous than he was before. 

"Relax, I promise to make you look natural." Cora rolled her eyes at Stiles' lack of confidence.

"I didn't have to wear makeup before." Stiles crossed his arms, feeling slightly offended that Cora felt she had to make himself look like someone he wasn't. The whole idea of this was to prove that people should be their authentic selves. 

Cora faulted for a moment, setting a bottle of colored liquid that matched Stiles' skin tone on the counter. She took a step towards Stiles and grabbed his hand softly.

She tugged him in front of the mirror and Stiles swallowed as he truly looked at himself. He had lost almost all color, apart from the purple bags under his eyes. His cheekbones looked like they had sunken in and the color of his peeling lips almost matched the rest of his skin. 

"I only want to make this easier for you, but I won't if you don't want me to." Cora spoke softly. Stiles knew what she was referring to. Stiles and Derek had essentially sealed themselves off from the world since Stiles was claimed. While the world constantly read the tabloids on the other mating pairs, knowing who ate what for breakfast, they didn't know that Derek and Stiles hadn't completed the bond. They didn't know how it was affecting them both.

Stiles nodded, ripping his gaze from the mirror. He turned to Cora, who softly smiled before beginning her work in silence. 

They would ask questions about the pair, and Stiles felt like those questions may be harder to answer than the ones about the state of the world, about the future. 

The decision to host a press conference had not been an easy one, but it had made the most sense. Stiles, Talia, and Laura had spoken for weeks in silence about it, planning things out. When the news was announced to the pack, it wasn't exactly well-received. Boyd and his father voiced their concerns of safety, while Derek had flat out refused to allow it to happen.

Sweet talk and promises of security were the only things to convince Derek to even agree to half of the plan. They had compromised. 

Though Stiles was nervous, he was excited to see people again, to feel like the world wasn't crumbling around him while he sat in a mansion. Really, things hadn't been too bad. There had been protests on both sides, but rarely violence, and no deaths. It was concluded that the best way to address questions, to voice their opinions was to do one big press conference, rather than repeatedly sending out messages or broadcasts.

Since the first draft of the bill, they had gained three more signatures, totaling thirty-nine now. Thirty-nine Sectors who agreed that things needed to change, who supported the idea of equality, of Omegas in a position of power. Thirty-nine Sectors who had released broadcasts of their own in support.

"There." Cora smiled softly, nodding to herself and stepping back to pack up her things.

Stiles glanced at the mirror out of his peripheral, afraid to look, but sighed with relief to see that not only did he not look like a clown, he almost looked. . . normal, healthy. 

"Everyone is gathered outside, we'll get started soon." She nodded, before leaving the room, presumably to meet the rest of the pack outside, where the conference would be held. It was Derek's idea to host it outside, the weather was to be nice and the background was subtle enough to where others watching wouldn't be able to tell where they were filming. 

Another knock sounded, before Stiles' nose was filled with his scent. 

"Hey." Derek spoke, placing a hand on the small of Stiles' back. He leaned in, nuzzling his neck softly, before pulling back and giving a soft smile.

"Hey." Stiles sniffed, tugging at his cuff links. 

"You're going to do great." Derek said, but Stiles could tell the Alpha was still uncomfortable with the entire idea.

"Yeah, it'll be fine." Stiles nodded, taking in another deep breath. "Let's head down."

Stiles made to move, before Derek stopped him. "Hang on a second." 

Derek placed a hand on the side of Stiles' face, before he leaned in to press a gentle kiss to his mouth. 

"Are you trying to calm me down or make my heart beat faster?" Stiles asked, making Derek smile. 

"I'd be satisfied either way." Derek shrugged, before grabbing Stiles' hand and leading him downstairs, where Talia was waiting.

"Come on you two, don't make us late," Talia spoke sternly, leading them towards the back door of the house. She paused there, hand on the handle. 

"Remember-" She started.

"Mother, we know." Derek rolled his eyes, before she flashed her own red in annoyance. She opened up the door and walked out, Stiles and Derek hesitating for only a moment before they followed, hand in hand.

For a moment, Stiles felt okay, up until he was bombarded with flashing lights and several shouts, all trying to grab his attention. He held on tight to Derek's hand, who remained steady by his side, leading him up the stairs on the raised platform his dad and Isaac had spent their afternoons building. 

"Please, everyone," Talia spoke at the microphone that she didn't need, as Stiles and Derek settled into their seats behind her. Stiles' leg began to bounce up and down, before Derek placed his hand on it, reminding him gently that they had to keep up appearances. To remain calm and collected. 

The crowd quieted down, though the cameras still remained flashing. Stiles stared out into the sea of people, the cameras, the flushed faces of excited reporters. 

"Thank you all for being here today." Talia spoke to the reporters, to the cameras that were no doubt broadcasting this message across the globe. Stiles wondered if those who were presumed to be lost, if the other half of the world could see them right now. If they knew what was happening. If they felt any hope. 

"Alpha Talia!" A man shouted, before several followed suit. Talia held up a hand once more. She couldn't even get in one sentence.

Stiles glanced around some more, noticing the security outfitted in the typical all black Hale uniform. He recognized Major Wilson in the back, who seemed to have his focus on someone else at the table, a particular Alpha who was immaculately dressed in a navy blue dress. 

"Thank you all for being here today," Talia began again. "I come before you today to present a new beginning." 

The crowd began to murmur as more flashes came from the cameras. 

"Behind me today I have the people who have helped make this all happen. My family, my pack."

Stiles, Derek, Laura, Cora, Erica, Boyd, Isaac, and even John were all present at the table on the stage, with microphones, and glasses of water in front of them.

"I'd like to formally introduce the world to an incredible man. A man who is the perfect person to shed light on the issues of today." 

This part hadn't been rehearsed, at least not with the rest of the pack. Stiles knew that Derek would argue, that he would say it wasn't a good idea for Stiles to speak, that it wasn't safe. That assumption was confirmed as correct as he felt the hand on his leg tighten. 

"Stiles Stilinski, everyone." Talia motioned, before several claps and shouts were heard. Everyone trying to get his attention, his focus. The only thing Stiles was focused on was breathing. He stood, avoiding Derek's glare as he walked towards the podium, as his hand slipped off his thigh.

"Good afternoon," Stiles spoke. His voice didn't sound normal in his own ears, but the journalists, reporters, and whoever else was in the crowd, didn't seem to hear an issue. 

Stiles refrained from clearing his throat as he looked down at his shaking hands as he began to trace circles on the pieces of paper that were supposed to be his notes.

"I feel a little silly being up here," Stiles spoke truthfully, looking up. The crowd quieted down. "I don't quite feel worthy, to be up here, to be before you, to be surrounded by these people, my pack," he paused. "and I've come to realize just how lucky I am, to be with such incredible people who have done nothing but welcome me, support me, and love me."

Stiles swallowed, looking down at his paper once more, taking another shaky breath.

"But those feelings, those thoughts, are what is actually silly. Because I am worthy, because I should be surrounded by people who care," His voice grew stronger, more certain.

"No one should be afraid that they are unworthy of love because of who they are. No one's life should be determined from birth," Another shaky breath.

"No children should have to be taught that they deserved to be bullied, because the bully outranks them. No teenagers should have to accept the harassment they face on the field, in the hallways, because they are told they are less than. No adult should be refused a raise due to the color of their eyes. No one should feel as though they aren't safe in a grocery store because they smell different. No one should be treated differently because of something they cannot control, because of a society that decided that's just how it has to be. It isn't." Stiles took that moment to pause, to look into the crowd, to make eye contact. 

"I stand before you today as someone who has lived all of these moments throughout my life. As someone who got lucky. Not so many have been as lucky as I, not those Omega men, women, and children who died in the Sector Thirty-Seven attack, not those on the streets, and not many of you who are watching right now. . ." The crowd had gone utterly silent.

"The Mating Run was created to be something that united Alphas and Omegas, but turned into a way for Alphas to exude their power and a way for Omegas to escape the life that had already been decided for them. As of today," Stiles fought glancing at Talia, fought the fear that circled him.

"As of today," he repeated. "The Mating Run is void." 

The crowd lit up, shouting and standing. Security took a step closer, but Stiles held up a hand. They had every right to be confused, to ask questions, many were probably even afraid.

After a few moments, miraculously, the crowd quieted enough for Stiles to continue speaking.

"This decision was not made lightly and we intend to address all questions and concerns, whether they come from Omega, Beta, or Alpha," Stiles stressed. 

"This is about us all-" He began again.

"How can you even say that? You were in the Mating Run!" An angry woman in the crowd sneered. Security stepped forward again, fully intent on removing the women, but Stiles again held up his hand and they paused.

"I dreaded the moment my name was called," Stiles admitted. "The Mating Run. . . it's seen as this glorious thing, a dream come true. It was my biggest nightmare." He trailed off, collecting his thoughts. This wasn't on the script, he didn't have notes for this. 

"But I met some of the most incredible people, the most incredible man," Stiles face burned as the cameras snapped more photos. "I recognize my privilege and understand the situation I am in is a situation most will not experience. . . but I dream of a world where I didn't have to meet Derek this way, the Hales this way. I have confidence that that dream can come true. I have been surrounded by people who have allowed me to make my own decisions and I dared to feel as though that was abnormal." His voice rose. 

"The Alpha Omega bond is supposed to be precious, not demanding. For too long we have strayed from simple human rights to focus on biology and politics. That changes now. We have a voice, we have a right to speak up, to break these so-called norms. All of us."

Stiles took another breath, straightening his notes. 

"Though the Mating Run may be void, we have implemented ways to address the issues that come with that decision." He steered himself back on track.

"For one, Mating Runs can now be implemented on a voluntary Sector-based agenda. Omegas, Alphas, and Betas may enter their name into a drawing or similar fashion to previous traditions, to ensure that people still have the opportunity to meet others and pursue a relationship in the way they choose to, while respecting their desire to run. We are aware that tradition is important for many, but we feel as though no one should have to be forced to participate." 

It was fair, in Stiles' eyes, in the pack's. He hoped it was in everyone else's too. He never wanted anyone else to feel that dread again as their name was called. Let them enter if they wished, but leave them out if they didn't want to participate. 

"In addition," time to bite the bullet. "I would like to announce that it has officially been signed into effect by a majority rule of thirty-nine to eleven that Omegas are now allowed to run for leadership positions, such as Sector Omegas." 

An uproar even louder than the first, but Stiles took a moment to note that it wasn't anger. It was. . .  confusion, and even fear, but many were cheering in support. While these things had been in discussion for a while behind the scenes, people hadn't yet been able to confirm their suspicions. For those on the outside, the world was rapidly changing. 

"However, let it be known that Sector Omegas need not be mated to a Sector Alpha to be placed in this position." Stiles roared over the crowd.

"And who gave you the authority?" A man shouted, pointing his finger angrily.

"Who gave Alphas the authority?" Stiles questioned, pinching himself for retorting like that. It was unsophisticated, immature. 

The man's face grew purple, but he sat down, as did the rest of the crowd, ready to listen once more.

"Our aim is to change the world for the better, to offer inclusion and give people the choice to live as they like without impeding or negatively affecting the lives of others. We are well aware that many are comfortable with tradition. The idea is not to ban or discourage Alpha Omega relationships, but to give people the freedom to choose, to recognize that this may not be the norm for people anymore. For centuries, it has been accepted that Alphas and Omegas were the ideal relationship, but we want everyone to not feel abnormal for maintaining a different kind of relationship, whether it be Omega-Omega, Alpha-Omega, Beta-Beta, or even Alpha-Alpha." 

Stiles needed to start wrapping this up, the crowd was growing restless, itching with questions.

"My hope is that one day my children can grow up in a world where everyone sits at the same table at lunch. Where they can walk home from school without fear. Where they can meet someone nice and not care if they are an Alpha, or Beta, or Omega, or anyone else." 

People began to look around at that. Anyone else?

"My hope is that everyone," Stiles looked directly into the biggest camera for this, "will feel welcomed to live the life that they would like to live. From this day forth, I vow to do everything I can to create a world of acceptance, to all."

With that, Stiles stepped back from the podium and his breathing started again once the crowd erupted in claps and cheers. He only hoped the people viewing this message from behind a screen felt the same way.

Stiles took a seat next to Derek. This time, it was Derek who avoided Stiles' gaze, who didn't place his hand on his thigh. It hurt Stiles more than it should have.

"At this time, we will entertain questions from the press." Talia spoke at the podium, before taking a seat once more.

At once, everyone stood and waved and shouted. Stiles was thankful when Talia took the first question, as he was unsure of where to even look.

"Alpha Talia Hale, how does this ruling impact your authority and credibility, given that you were essentially the creator of the Mating Run?" A woman asked.

"As Stiles previously stated, the mating run, unfortunately, did not turn out how we had planned. We sought to unite Omegas and Alphas and give them an opportunity to meet and mate in a safe environment. It is unfortunate that it has turned into a crooked political publicity stunt." 

The dramatic words shocked the room, but she was right. Stiles had full confidence that Talia did not set out to make the world this way when she created the Mating Run and it wasn't at all her fault that it had. And as for her authority, her credibility, well, these people simply had no idea of what she was capable of. 

"Alpha Derek Hale!" A man shouted next, Talia barely finished closing her mouth.

Derek seemed slightly taken aback that someone had called for him, but nodded the man ahead nonetheless.

"How do these decisions validate you as an Alpha, or even as a man?" He shouted from the back.

Derek made a face. What a shit question. "Are you implying that equality somehow makes me less of an Alpha, of a man?"

The reporter's face turned red and he said nothing.

"If anything, I am an even stronger Alpha, even better of a man with Stiles by my side, not as my Omega, but as someone who had the balls to make these decisions, to take on the weight of starting a better world, and perhaps most importantly, to challenge me." Derek snapped.

Not exactly a professional statement, but it was entirely a Derek response, not to mention it made Stiles' heart swell. 

"Mr. Stilinski!" Another woman shouted. Stiles nodded to her.

"The world has heard little of you and Derek's relationship, how are you both?"

Perhaps she was trying to be kind. Perhaps she was trying to pry. 

Stiles swallowed. "The state of things has certainly put some stress on us both, but we are. . ." Fine? Okay? Slowly day by day killing each other? "leaning on each other during these times." 

It was then Stiles felt Derek go rigid and for a moment he thought he had said something wrong, before he noticed Major Wilson give some sort of signal, or so he assumed.

"No further questions at this time." Talia spoke rather quickly, before the entire pack stood and cleared the stage. The reporters snapped more pictures as they made their way back into the Hale mansion calmly, while the reporters were forced to remain in their seats until they were safe inside.

Once there, Major Wilson whispered something in Derek's ear, who only nodded sternly. 

The pack gathered in the living room as the reporters were all lead back to their vehicles and off of the Hale property as quick as possible. 

Stiles figured that he would ask what had just happened later, perhaps when Derek cooled off.

"Well, I think that went very well." Talia nodded to Stiles. 

"I went a little off track." He scratched the back of his neck. They had practiced this for a reason.

"Yet you handled it well," Talia spoke, appearing to be pleased. "Now then, let's all get changed for dinner, shall we?" 

"Please, God, these heels are killing me." Erica moaned.

"You only walked like twenty yards max." Isaac spoke, rolling his eyes and crossing his arms.

"And these are six inch stilettos, you try walking in grass with these bastards on." She rolled her eyes right back, before slipping off the sleek back stilettos and heading upstairs. The pack soon followed her, Stiles and Derek trailing up last.

They walked to their room in silence, with Derek shutting the door rather forcefully and practically ripping off his suit jacket and loosening his tie. He ran a hand through his hair, disheveling it just the way Stiles liked it. 

"You were angry, you're still angry." Stiles pointed out quietly. Derek took a moment to take a deep breath, hands on his hips.

"What makes you think that?" He asked, still not looking at Stiles.

"You wouldn't look at me. . . or touch me." Stiles finished rather quickly. He had grown used to the man's simple touches, so that when they were gone, things didn't feel right.

Derek's nostrils flared. "I'm not angry, maybe I was at first, but. . . I am extremely fucking proud. And I didn't look at you or touch you because I was afraid that if I did, I would mount you right then and there, in front of all those cameras." At this Derek makes eye contact. 

Stiles blinked. "They'd probably air it as a throwback special to the Mating Run." 

Derek closed his eyes and sighed, though Stiles spotted a slight upturn of his lips. "Sometimes I wonder how your brilliant mind says things like you did on stage, and then turns around and says stuff like that." 

"Comes with the charm I suppose." Stiles shrugged, taking off his suit jacket and hanging it on the back of a chair, before loosening his tie as well. His clothes felt suffocating and itchy. He found himself constantly wanting to wrap up in bulky layers, the constant cold nipping at him, yet everything he wore clawed at his skin.

"I never got to say how good you looked." Derek spoke, taking his tie off and throwing it on the floor without care, stepping closer to Stiles.

"Yeah, well, Cora slapped some shit on my face and-" Stiles began to wave his hands.

"That's not what I was referring to." Derek cut him off, snaking his arm around to grab Stiles' ass, who blushed and laughed. Either Derek really wasn't mad, or he got over it pretty quickly.

"You don't look so bad yourself." Stiles pointed out. It was true. Derek looked good in everything, but damn the man could pull off a suit.

"I have a good tailor." Derek winked. Stiles laughed, placing a hand on Derek's chest.

"So. . .  you really aren't mad?" Stiles asked, looking up at Derek through his lashes.

"No Stiles, I'm not mad, I promise." He smiled softly. 

Stiles nodded, before he leaned up and stole Derek's lips for a kiss. Derek tightened his grip on Stiles' hip, sucking in a breath and deepening the kiss. Stiles snaked his hand into Derek's hair, pulling slightly, just the way he knew Derek liked it.

They hadn't done much these past few weeks, too busy and too stressed, but for at least a little bit, in moments like this, they felt almost normal. Stiles felt like he could breathe. Well, not now, not with Derek kissing him like that.

"Derek," Stiles breathed, pulling back to catch his breath. Derek went to work on his neck, sucking and nipping at his sensitive skin like he couldn't get enough. While Derek would heal, Stiles would not, he would wear these bruises for days and the thought sent a wave of heat down to his groin.

"Taste incredible." Derek mumbled, shaking his head slightly in disbelief. He pulled back to kiss Stiles again, so hard it was bruising, but Stiles only pressed for more, pulling Derek closer by his belt loops. 

He needed more, needed Derek against his body, needed to feel him. 

Without another thought, Stiles grabbed the bottom of Derek's shirt, untucking it and sliding his hand onto Derek's hip, feeling the fiery skin that covered his muscle, warming him down to his very bones.

Derek growled into his mouth, fueling Stiles further. With shaky hands, he tried to undo the bottom button on Derek's shirt, but with frustration realized he was too frazzled. Derek, on the other hand, was solely focused on Stiles and destroying his neck.

He too pulled Stiles' shirt out from his pants, but rather than waste time, he ripped all the buttons and slid the shirt over Stiles' shoulders.

"I liked that shirt." Stiles mumbled into Derek's mouth. 

"I'll buy you another one." Derek mumbled right back. He snaked his hand onto Stiles' neck, moving his head to gain access to his mouth completely. 

Stiles moaned as Derek's tongue was thrust into his mouth, overtaking him completely.

Stiles fumbled with the buttons again, before Derek covered Stiles' hands with his own, gently moving them to unbutton his own shirt quickly and throwing it to the floor. 

"Derek," Stiles moaned as the other man began peppering kisses down his neck, then the top of his chest. Stiles needed more.

Derek ignored him, kissing down his chest like he was on a mission to taste every square inch of Stiles' skin. He snaked his tongue over Stiles' nipple, making the younger man throw back his head with a quick intake of breath. He'd never felt that before.

Derek paused then and smirked as he gazed up at Stiles. He maintained eye contact as he repeated the action, making Stiles throw back his head again with a groan. That, that Derek liked.

"Der," Stiles began, gripping his bicep with such force Derek's skin went white under Stiles' fingertips.

Derek sank to his knees and began kissing his lower belly, sending Stiles into a frenzy.

He felt like he was going to explode, skin so hot he thought at one point he was on fire. His hard cock pressed painfully against his slacks and Derek was so close to it that Stiles thought he might pass out just from the sight.

Derek paused as his tongue grew closer to the waistline of Stiles' pants, mere inches away. 

"Please, please." Stiles panted, snaking his hand in Derek's hair, encouraging and begging at the same time.

"You sure you want this?" Derek asked. Ever the gentleman.

"Yes," Stiles breathed out. God, he was so sure. He hadn't felt this alive in weeks, he needed this, needed Derek.

Derek pulled back slightly to maintain his eye contact with Stiles as he slowly unbuttons and dragged his zipper down painstakingly slow, giving the Omega a last minute out if he wanted it. 

"Jesus fucking-" Stiles bit his lip as Derek palmed Stiles' aching cock. He grabbed the waistband of Stiles' underwear and slacks and with the speed of an actual fucking snail pulled them down his thighs, taking him in.

"Derek, I swear to God." Stiles panted and Derek only smirked, looking at Stiles' leaking cock. It was torture, sweet, wonderful torture.

"What do you need, baby?" He asked, soothingly rubbing his hands up and down Stiles' thighs, acting as though he was oblivious to Stiles' desperation.

"Anything, anything, God please." He was going to burn up, he was on fire, dear God.

"Shh, shh, breathe baby." Derek rubbed those hands up and down again, waiting for Stiles to listen to him and take a breath. Their separation, the waiting, it had built and built to where Stiles literally felt like he couldn't take it.

After a few moments, Derek took Stiles' cock in his hands, and they both let out a moan at the same time, Derek's eyes glowing red instantly with the simple touch.

"Need to taste you," He growled out lowly.

"Yes, God, please," Stiles begged.

Without warning, Derek took Stiles into his mouth, swallowing him down quickly. Stiles threw back his head, panting like he had just run a marathon. This was how he would die.

"Oh my God, Derek, Derek." Stiles chanted his name, biting down on his fist so he wouldn't cum right then and there. 

Derek's only response was to hum around his cock and he unbuttoned his own pants. 

The man had expertise, he had to, because the blowjob that Stiles was receiving right now was actually out of this fucking world. Was this an Alpha thing? Was this a Derek thing? Stiles didn't know, or really care, all he knew was that he was receiving the best blowjob of all blowjobs from Alpha Derek fucking Hale.

"Derek, oh my God." Stiles moaned, adding a second hand to Derek's hair and pulling. He tried his best not to thrust, to push, if anything he was just hanging on as he felt like his legs were going to collapse from under him. 

Derek went down lower on his cock and Stiles felt the tip of his dick touch the back of Derek's throat.

"Jesus, Derek, I'm gonna-" Stiles stopped to let out a moan as Derek cupped his balls.

He gave no other warning as he came hard, shooting down the back of Derek's throat, who swallowed it all like it was nothing. Stiles' legs were so shaky he thought he was going to pass out, but Derek was there, practically holding him up.

Stiles panted, blinking away the dark spots in his vision as Derek stood. His pupils were blown wide and his eyes were blazing a deep red, locked onto Stiles'. 

"Lemme taste," Stiles panted, knowing it would drive Derek crazy. The man growled and leaned in, kissing Stiles deeply. As he did so, Stiles snaked his hands into Derek's pants, pulling out his heavy cock.

"Christ." He whispered against Derek's lip as the man let out a moan. His cock was enormous, and he didn't even have a knot right now.

Stiles slowly pumped the man, who turned to liquid gold in his palms. Derek watched as Stiles' seemingly petite hand was wrapped his cock, stroking him. 

"Stiles," he breathed, throwing back his head as Stiles twisted his hand in a certain way. Stiles didn't have a lot of experience in the bedroom, but he did have a lot of experience jerking himself off. Surely doing it on someone else couldn't be that different. 

"I'm gonna cum." He growled out. Stiles pumped him harder, helping him reach his climax, as Derek shot his load all over Stiles' stomach in thick streaks, coating it.

"Fuck." Stiles spoke, feeling like he was going to climax again just from the sight of Derek all over his stomach. 

Derek took a moment to catch his breath before he slowly swiped a finger through his mess, and sucked it into his mouth. 

Holy fuck, Stiles didn't think anything could be hotter than that. Then Derek swiped up more and held it up to Stiles' mouth. Never mind, there was indeed something hotter. 

Stiles had never seen Derek look so wild than in that moment, the moment Stiles sucked Derek's cum soaked finger into his mouth, cleaning it off with a hum. Not even when Derek was covered in blood, or when he almost attacked the pack at the air base. This right here was the most savage and out of control Derek had ever looked, and Stiles fucking loved it.

"I think that was the best thing that has ever happened in my life." Stiles spoke, still breathing heavily.

Derek smirked, eyes still blazing red and rubbing circles on Stiles' hips. He leaned down and kissed him, tasting himself on Stiles' lips with a groan. He broke the kiss to place his hands on the back of Stiles' thighs, lifting him up and carrying him to the bed that they were too in a hurry to climb into.

He tucked Stiles near him, not even bothering to clean them both up. He needed to scent him, needed him near.

Derek nuzzled into Stiles' neck as Stiles closed his eyes and let out a yawn. This right here, this was what it should feel like, this is what it should be like.

"Go to sleep," Derek spoke, knowing Stiles was fighting exhaustion. "There's plenty more where that came from."

Stiles snorted and mustered enough energy to gently slap the man's bicep before he succumbed to sleep. 

***

The next morning Stiles woke up feeling better than he had in months. His body wasn't stiff or freezing cold, but rather Stiles woke up feeling refreshed and alive again.

He stretched with a yawn, before opening his eyes. Derek's side of the bed was once again empty, except for a note.

Stiles rolled over onto his stomach and propped himself up on his elbows to read to the note that looked like it had been haphazardly ripped out of a notebook.

Had to run and do some "political junk." Everything's fine, so stop worrying. I'll be back soon. 

- Der

Stiles rolled his eyes, but smiled, tossing the note onto his nightstand. 

Scratching the back of his head, he made his way to the shower, where he spent too much time debating whacking one out before deciding that it wasn't the best idea considering he was surrounded by wolves who could hear everything he did, which then made him realize, oh my God, they totally might have heard him last night. 

Eventually, Stiles made his way downstairs, where he was greeted by Alpha Talia Hale, sitting at the breakfast table with Cora. What an odd sight.

"Good morning, Stiles. How did you sleep?" Talia asking, taking a sip out of a baby blue mug that had long since been identified as hers. Stiles walked to the cabinet and pulled out his own red mug with the small chip in the handle.

"Awesome, actually." Stiles gave her a polite smile.

"You actually have some color to your cheeks." Cora noted, taking a sip of her own coffee. Stiles had long since stopped looking in the mirror, but he was curious if that was true. Maybe sex really did make you glow.

"So where did everyone head off to?" Stiles asked, taking a seat and changing the subject.

"To the air base, checking to make sure everything is in order," Talia spoke.

Stiles nodded, but wondered why things wouldn't be in order already? Because of the planned attack? Or because of the press conference? 

"No need to worry, I'm sure they'll be back very soon. In the meantime, I was wondering if you would accompany me." 

Stiles swallowed his coffee quickly, burning his tongue.

"Accompany you? Where?"

"Well, today is sort of a day of errands, we all have some things we need to get done, don't we Cora?" Talia raised her eyebrows, looking at the teenager. Cora rolled her eyes with a huff, before setting down her mug and heading towards her bedroom.

"She's waited almost three weeks to do laundry and it's starting to smell." Talia shook her head. "Regardless, I was wondering if you would feel comfortable seeing our pack healer and emissary, Dr. Alan Deaton."

"A healer?" Stiles asked, picking at the chip in his mug.

"Just to make sure everything is okay." Talia gave a comforting smile. 

Stiles chewed on his lip. He supposed it made sense. After everything he had been through, and everything he had yet to go through, it made sense that they wanted to make sure he was okay.

"Yeah, alright." Stiles nodded.

"Wonderful. His clinic is not too far from here. Run upstairs and we'll get ready to go." Talia placed their mugs in the sink, ushering Stiles upstairs. 

Stiles was essentially ready, so he threw on a pair of shoes and a jacket and met Talia back downstairs. The house was quiet when they left, as far as Stiles knew only Cora was home. His father had mentioned returning back to work today, which made Stiles extremely nervous, but John tried his best to convince him he would be alright.

Stiles just hoped that was true.

***

Talia Hale drove a lot different than Derek did. Where Derek was quick turns and constant acceleration, Talia was smooth and never in a hurry. 

Stiles watched as they passed cars and wondered what those people were thinking about, what they were listening to. He wondered if the people on the radio were talking about him, or if the stations still played music. 

Soon enough they pulled up to a small white building with clean cut architecture. The sign out front simply said "Dr. Alan Deaton's Clinic." Strange.

As they walked through the front door, a little bell rang and a receptionist looked up. 

"Hi there! Mr. Stiles Stilinksi?" She asked. The tag on her bright purple button-up read Mary. 

"Yes." Stiles cleared his throat, nodding. He stuck his hands in his jacket pocket, hoping it would help with the fidgeting. 

"Alrighty. . ." The receptionist trailed off, clicking some buttons on her computer, eyes darting back and forth. 

"You're all checked in, Dr. Deaton should be with you- oh! There he is now!" She smiled, as a dark skinned man came around the corner. 

"Alpha Talia Hale, Mr. Stilinski," Deaton greeted. "Nice to see you both. Please, follow me." 

Stiles swallowed, but did just that, all the way into a small examination room. He took a seat on an uncomfortable chair, while Talia stood by the door and Deaton took a seat on a stool with wheels. 

"So, how are we feeling today, Stiles?" Deaton asked, looking at a clipboard that Stiles assumed had his information on it. 

"Uh, good?" Stiles spoke.

"You don't sound too convincing." Deaton turned to him with a teasing smile on his lips. 

"Talia, would you mind?" Deaton asked. 

Stiles balked at the fact that not only did Deaton essentially just asked her to leave but he spoke so incredibly informal to her, calling her Talia. It was extremely disrespectful, but Talia seemed unphased. 

"Of course, let me know if you need anything." Talia squeezed Stiles' shoulder, then left the room. 

As soon as the door shut, Stiles felt even colder, hands growing stiff. He sunk them back into his jacket pockets and shrunk back into his chair. The man seemed friendly enough, and he was obviously to be trusted if Talia not only brought Stiles here, but left him alone.

"So, Stiles? How have things been going?" Deaton asked, looking up from his clipboard.

"Um," Stiles cleared his through. "Good, yeah, uh good." He nodded. 

Stiles didn't really have much experience with doctors. They couldn't afford visits when Stiles was younger, so most of Stiles' idea of doctors came from books, news stories, or overhearing teenage girls discussing Grey's Anatomy in the hallways of high school.

Deaton nodded, clearly seeing that they weren't going to get very far.

"Stiles, I would like to build a level of trust with you. My only goal here is to make sure that you're okay, and that you continue to be." Deaton paused. "I have been the pack's emissary since before Derek was born. I care about this pack, and I care about you and your well being. That being said, I'm going to have to ask some very personal questions here. Please let me know if you need to stop, or are uncomfortable answering anything."

Stiles swallowed, but nodded in agreeance. This was all starting to make him feel like something wasn't okay.

"Let's start way back with the mating run. Physically, did everything go okay that night?"

Stiles' cheeks reddened, remembering the night. Things started out so not okay, but ended up more than okay. "Uh, yeah I suppose they did."

"Great, no pain or discomfort?" Deaton asked, writing down something.

Besides having a giant fucking knot in my asshole? Stiles thought. 

"No, none." He answered instead.

"Good. And afterward, nothing of concern?" Deaton continued scribbling down notes, the sound of his scratching pen on paper filling the room's silence.

Stiles shook his head no, wringing his fingers.

"Great. Now then," Deaton stopped writing and looked to Stiles. "When was the last time you and Derek had sex?"

Stiles choked. Deaton wasn't joking when he said there would be personal questions. 

Taking a deep breath, Stiles broke eye contact with Deaton, instead turning his focus to a framed picture of some random flower, hung on the bland grey walls. He knew that he and Derek didn't exactly have a normal relationship, but sometimes he hated talking about it with so many other people. He wanted it to just be him and Derek, especially lately.

"We haven't. Not since the mating run." Stiles answered rather softly.

"Nothing at all?" Deaton furrowed his brows.

"Not. . . not like before."

"Anally, you mean?" Deaton spoke, unabashed. 

Stiles nodded, trying not to grimace at the conversation. 

"May I ask if things are going okay with you two?" Deaton crossed his legs and folded his hands together, now looking like a shrink.

"They're great, actually." Stiles nodded, forcing a smile.

He knew Deaton would wonder, then, why they hadn't had sex. And honestly. . .  Stiles didn't have a good answer. Before, he could say that he wasn't ready, that he wasn't there with Derek yet, but that wasn't true, not now at least. His heart ached for Derek, he craved his touch, and he knew that he was ready. 

Deaton paused for a moment, before returning to his clipboard. "I'm going to run through some things with you, and I just want you to tell me if you've experienced any of these symptoms, alright?"

Stiles nodded in understanding. His stomach was in knots and his heart and head were both pounding. He was starting to feel sick and wasn't sure if it was simply the conversation that they were having, or something else. 

"Have you been cold recently?" Deaton asked.

Stiles nodded, bundling up further, as though the words themselves had caused shivers to go down his spine.

"Difficulty sleeping?"

"Sometimes." Stiles mumbled. He slept well most of the time when he lied next to Derek, but sometimes he would wake up and toss and turn for a bit before he was able to fall back asleep. 

"Fatigue?"

"Yes." 

He was so tired, all the time. Getting out of bed was not an easy task, especially when he woke up next to Derek. All he wanted to do was stay in bed all day with the man. 

"Weight loss?" Deaton asked.

"Yes." 

"Feelings of weakness?"

"Yes." 

"Lack of appetite?"

". . .yes." 

Stiles clenched his teeth, looking down at his lap. He fought the tears that were rising. Why was this happening to him? Everything was seemingly so perfect, he was happy. Why was his body doing this to him?

"Dr. Deaton. . . what's happening to me?" Stiles asked quietly. Unsure if Deaton had even finished his questions, but knowing he would check all the boxes.

"Stiles. . . I am afraid that your body is simply growing too weak."

"I don't get it, we. . . I mean we touch all the time, he's around all the time. We're still physical, we. . ." Stiles trailed off. This was so ridiculous. There were millions of people that weren't having sex for whatever their reasons, why was this happening to him? 

"Unfortunately, once the claim has started, it is practically impossible to stop the bonding that ensues, pushing you two together. While you and Derek may be very happy and emotionally secure, your body doesn't know that. Your biology, your intrinsic, they say that you two haven't completed the bond, and your body, and Derek's, will do whatever it can to finish the bond. Given that you say you and Derek are doing well, relationship wise, I can only recommend you completing the bond. Completion of the bond is the only way to rid yourself of these symptoms and return to peak health." 

Stiles nodded. He understood, and in all honesty, this had always been something he knew. It just was never an issue explored because people who were mated were typically hopelessly in love. Alphas and Omegas did a lot of things they probably shouldn't when it came to sex, but one thing people didn't do was bond and mate just for the heck of it. It was their most sacred, unspoken rule. You couldn't fake it, and no amount of sex in the world would be the same as being mated. Beneath everything, no matter what image you upheld, it was something you would always yearn for.

Of course, there have been instances of claiming an Omega and bonding, and then it not working out, though the Mating Run media pretended otherwise. Those people had plenty of sex, sure, but they weren't mated. They may have tried, but you mate for life. If it doesn't click immediately, it won't. The whole idea of the Mating Run is to find your person for life, and after Stiles has learned what he did, he realized that the Mating Run was all planned. There was no random drawing, you were matched to a specific person for a specific reason. Whether that reason was just for mating, for love, he couldn't be sure.

Mating had been described as the most intense feeling one can have. Severing a mating bond is like cutting off a limb, or even taking out a vital organ. It feels like literally ripping out your heart. Severing a mating bond only happened in extreme circumstances. Death, cheating, a crime. And it certainly wasn't in Stiles' sites. 

He wanted Derek, in every way. And he knew it wasn't just the bond talking, pushing him, drawing him to Derek. Fundamentally, regardless of the biology, Stiles cared for Derek in a way he couldn't describe. The closest way he could put it into words was to say that  he was starting to fall in love. 

Completing the bond with Derek sounded simple enough, but finding a way to explain to Derek the severity of their situation, Stiles' feelings, and listening to Derek's own, while also trying to find a way to somehow make it sexy rather than a chore? That felt like an impossible task.

"However-" Deaton began

Stiles snapped his head up. However?

"I am afraid there may be complications that we need to address." 

"Complications?" Stiles breathed out. 

Deaton nodded grimly. "Under normal circumstances, your heat most likely would have been triggered by now, forcing the bond to complete. Quite frankly, I am surprised you have yet to go into heat. However, I believe that due to the present circumstances, your body is under too much stress and too weak to naturally trigger a heat cycle." 

Stiles froze. He ran through the days in his head and his stomach dropped. Deaton was right. . .  how had he not had a heat yet? There were so many days in the beginning like he felt like he was on the verge, just from a simple touch, a gland for Derek, or his scent. But then things began to change, the world began to change and his body just hadn't caught up. Stiles was used to about a once a year heat, and he was overdue. The fact that his heat hadn't been triggered. . . something was wrong. 

"There are still options, we can induce your heat." Deaton began, slowly. 

Stiles made a face. Inducing it was one of the worst ways to have a heat. It forced the worst symptoms on you all at once, rather than gradually. He had only heard of it being done to assist with pregnancy, and once in a book where a woman was crazy and trying to frame a murder.

"There is no way to do this naturally?" Stiles asked, voice shaky. 

"It is certainly an option, but I am afraid of your chances. Triggering a heat at this point in your bond is unlikely, your body is beginning to give up on the premise of being mated, and even if you can trigger a heat, the effects may be. . . overwhelming."

"What do you mean?" Stiles asked. The effects, the symptoms, they were worse than he thought, worse than he would have expected. Of course, he didn't expect any of this. There were many worries Stiles had when his name was called out at the drawing. Never once did the idea of not being bonded cross his mind. 

"If we can get your body to the point of being healthy enough to trigger a heat, meaning building up to one, once the heat is triggered there will be no stopping it. No gradual heat. It would be, honestly, hell. The most intense you have ever experienced. Your body is trying to make up for lost time, and ensure the bond is completed no matter what. Your desires, your feelings, your typical heat symptoms will be elevated drastically. Given how your body is so weakened right now, I worry that the heat may be too much."

Stiles shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. Death by heat. Death by sex. The idea was ridiculous, yet very much a possibility. 

How had it gotten this bad? Where did they go wrong? Fuck, they were happy. It was slow, it was gradual, and Stiles knew it still could be, but. . . the reality was that if Stiles had any hope of this relationship working, of them being a united front, they couldn't just be on the same page emotionally. 

Stiles wasn't an idiot either, he knew Derek was a man, an Alpha at that. A man had needs, had cravings. It was already revealed that Derek had been struggling with control. As much as Stiles was breaking down, Derek was only growing stronger. Their bodies, though anatomically different, were slowly forcing them together, until it was too late. Until Derek snapped, or until Stiles broke. 

"With the option of inducing a heat, at least it would be over with quickly and we could start as soon as today. I can't make the same promise if you choose to go naturally." Deaton spoke sympathetically.

Stiles felt sick. The last thing he wanted to do was force a heat on himself and Derek. The news alone was horrifying, let alone the idea of inducing a heat by tonight. 

He had always dreaded heats, especially when he was on the streets. It was few nights a year his father made sure to try and save up as much as he could to get a room at a seedy motel. The feeling of a heat, though glorious for many who were spending it with loved ones, was only tied to bad memories for Stiles. Memories of scratchy sheets full of scents of unclean men. Of paper thin walls that revealed that others were listening. To cat calls and growls and red eyes staring at him in an ally as he just tried to make it behind a locked door. 

As much as Stiles hated to admit it, he knew that his past had to have played a role in all of this. His body wanted this. His heart wanted this. But his mind, his subconscious, was telling him that this was all a horrible idea. 

The opinions he held onto, the ideals that he thought would forever be true, shattered almost overnight. And he knew he could, and had to, get over this. He deserved it. Derek deserved it.

He wasn't in the streets anymore. He had a home, a family. The world was changing, things weren't the same anymore.  He had someone who cared about him, who protected him, who put him first. He deserved to be loved and he deserved to love. 

"I want to try it naturally," Stiles concluded. "I know the risk, but. . . it's how I want it to be."

Deaton nodded. "Of course. I would suggest progress begin today, if at all possible." 

"Meaning, we need to start trying to trigger the heat today." Stiles spoke.

Though hearing what he had today was anything but easy, he knew at least one positive would come out of this. He would be mated to Derek, meaning he would finally get to spend a heat with someone he trusted.

"Correct. Take it slow, in a sense. Build up your bond strength, as well as your own strength. I know this is hard to hear, and I don't mean to worry you, Stiles, but time is of the essence if this is how you want your heat to go. If you want to be bonded to Derek." Deaton added on the last sentence as almost an afterthought, as a sort of just-in-case, but he needn't be concerned. 

Stiles nodded, suddenly aching for Derek. For his warmth. 

"I thought things were getting better, Cora said. . . " Stiles trailed off. She said he had some color to his cheeks. He felt better. But it wasn't enough.

"Perhaps a step in the right direction." Deaton smiled softly. 

"I hope things go well for you, Stiles. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

Stiles shook his head and stood, legs feeling stiff and achy. He puffed out his cheeks and expelled them slowly, ready to go home. 

"Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns."

They shook hands, and Stiles walked out of the clinic quickly into the cool autumn day. He shivered against the wind, not seeing Talia until her hand was rested against his back.

"Let's get you home." 

***

Arriving back at the Hale mansion felt strange, in a way. Stiles wasn't entirely sure why, he just knew that it felt like everything had changed. . . again.

Derek was still gone and not knowing when he would be back, Stiles took the time to think, to plan. And then he called Scott.

"Well, I mean, there is one positive out of this whole thing?" Scott spoke.

Stiles sighed, though he had a slight smile on his face. He was spinning around on Talia's office chair, a room he felt without any doubt was soundproof. It felt good to talk to Scott, to be able to explain everything, without any loaded questions to having to structure his sentences while keeping in mind that everything he said was being recorded and interpreted. 

"You get to have, like, a lot of sex." Scott spoke. Stiles could picture Scott in that moment, sitting in his own office chair, though it was in front of a much smaller, much messier student desk. Scott would be picking at the threads in his jeans, and be wearing a grimace, though he would be happy for his friend.

Stiles laughed. Leave it to Scott to always look on the bright side. It was then he truly ached for Scott, to see him again. It felt safer now, like it was actually a possibility to see him soon. He hoped he could, but it would be best to push it off for now, at least until after the heat. 

They talked for a while longer, just random things, and Stiles was once again grateful to just talk, no agendas. Scott updated him on a new girl he met, Kira, who he said was unlike anyone he had ever met.

Stiles could practically feel Scott's heated cheeks through the phone. He sounded absolutely enthralled, and Stiles was insanely happy for Scott. 

After their goodbyes, Stiles sat there a moment later, in Talia's office, staring at nothing. He felt strange, because. . . even after everything he learned today, even after everything that had been going on in his life, he was happy. He knew it would be okay. Because he had a home. Because he had a family. 

Because he had Derek.