It was strange for Peter to ride in a car in his wolf-form, but for now being an animal seemed to be the form that was expected of him. He was questioning his decision already, pondering if it had been a good idea to submit to a human and subsequently allowing an eighteen year old girl to collar him. There was magic in the leather Lydia had fastened around his neck, but not the oppressing one he had expected. Still, something was there, binding him to the redhead but for now he could not contemplate how far her influence went.
He thought about leaving, to break the window and run as fast and as far as he could. He would be free of his sister, of a pack he had stayed with because he had seen no other way. But would binding himself to these kids really be any better? Lydia unexpectedly reached towards him, carding her fingers through his unruly pelt and calming him with the contact. He couldn't even remember the last time someone had touched him without a hidden agenda. Sure he lived with his family and he definitely knew how to blow off steam. He was young, had money and was not short on companions for the night, or a few hours if the need arose. But this, this was different.
Lydia's touch didn't seem to have any ulterior motive but to make him feel better. The twin, Aiden, or maybe Ethan, Peter had never bothered to learn the difference, kept throwing him glances. He seemed ready to abandon the wheel in favour of throwing himself onto Peter, if the werewolf as much as twitched the wrong way. When Peter grumbled lowly, a sound of pure comfort, the boy whipped around.
The werewolf would have chuckled, but in this form he could only make a small yip of amusement. Aware that Peter was yanking her boyfriend's chain, Lydia pulled his neck a little. "He has every right to be nervous; you have a terrible reputation. Don't play games with him." Still, her words lacked heat, making her reprimand more a friendly suggestion than an angry rebuff.
Peter only raised his head and looked at her. This was one of his basic character traits: teasing other people, testing them, pushing them to see how far they could go. Most people broke but a few of them, like Isaac, like Erica, like Boyd but especially like Scott and Lydia became something more, something they could never have become on their own. But maybe he should try, for a chance to go to bed without a constant ache in his chest and being able to wake up without tears in his eyes because his broken heart hurt more than he could suffer.
"At least not yet." Lydia added, barely audible. Aiden looked at her but she shook her head, indicating that she had not spoken to him. Her eyes searched Peter’s in the rear-view-mirror of the passenger side.
Not yet … but maybe someday. They had wanted him to submit, did they expect him to change as well? Was that even possibility for him? He was not a very nice person. His sister had made use of his abilities, but she had stopped caring after he had pushed her away one time too many after the fire. And Talia had had her own agenda. She had been eager, eager and determined to bring their family to their former glory, indifferent of who she left behind on her way to the top.
He had not been able to take that any longer. But was this really better?
~ * ~
When Stiles put the Jeep into park, he took a deep breath and put his head on the steering wheel. Tonight had been a gamble with the highest stakes imaginable, but still he had won. More than just Derek; who was looking at him from the passenger seat with concern in his eyes. Stiles felt the werewolf's hand on his shoulder and turned his head, smiling at him before nodding towards the door. "Only a few more minutes until midnight. Let's get the glasses and the champagne."
Aware that his Alpha didn't want to talk, Derek slipped out of the car and entered the kitchen. He was not prepared for the joy lighting up Melissa's face when she spotted him. Neither was he ready for the fierce hug she pulled him into, once he had properly entered. Yet he returned it all too willingly, remembering that now he didn't have to hold back any longer, that he was allowed to touch and to scent and to savour.
Wiping away tears of joy, his Alpha's mother gestured toward a set of glasses. "I prepared everything. I hoped that you would be here before midnight."
Derek got two bottles of Champagne from the fridge and started to open them, filling the glasses when Mrs. McCall hugged all the others, even Chris Argent when he entered, assuring herself that nobody was harmed. She stepped back from the grey and brown wolf that seemed glued to Lydia's side, looking at her son and his best friend questioningly.
"Mum, that's Peter, Peter Hale." Scott revealed and instantly his mother understood.
"He's the Alpha who bit you. You and Erica and Boyd and Isaac and finally Lydia." Angrily she turned towards the wolf, glaring down at him, "What is he doing here?"
Peter was impressed with the fierce woman cornering him in the kitchen. He had done horrible things in the past, using these kids had only been the tip of the iceberg. He was strangely thrilled to find out what she would do to him. The mother of the true Alpha. Surely this woman held a lot of power in this family, despite being human. She appeared fierce and she smelled of resentment and determination when she stepped closer threateningly. Peter retreated even though he was well aware that she was physically no match for him, especially not in his wolf form.
Still, attacking the female would be a death sentence, so Peter lay on the floor on his belly and tried to appear unthreatening. It was an indication of her intelligence that she didn't relax. As the wolf had expected, Melissa McCall didn't buy his submissive act for a second.
What Peter hadn't counted on was Isaac putting a hand on her shoulder, reminding her quietly, "He's the one who made me strong enough to defend myself against an abusive father."
Boyd was next, claiming a place next to Peter, beside him not in front of him, speaking softly, "He's the one who made an offer, an offer that turned out different than I had thought but still ended me with a family, people who really love me. Didn't it, Melissa?"
Erica, looking at Melissa from behind Lydia since she had entered from the garage only a moment ago. "He's the one who healed my epilepsy, a disease that ruined my life."
Looking up in amazement because it seemed so very simple for these wolves to stand by his side when his own pack had long since forgotten how to be united. He watched his true Alpha approaching his mother, gently turning her. "He's the one who helped a weak, asthmatic boy to become a true Alpha. One who is strong enough to protect the people he loves. If you want to be angry, be angry for the things he will do from now on. Because I think– just like Derek – he will need some time to get used to our ways. But don't be angry at him for things of the past, because with him coming here, we wiped the slate clean. He's just like every other wolf in this house, wanted and cared for and he will be punished like everybody else if he screws up. He's nothing special, not really, he's just someone we want around. Can you accept that, mum? For me?"
Looking down at Peter once again, Melissa McCall sighed deeply. She knew that she would do everything to make her kids happy, despite her personal feelings. Still she reminded the wolf, "Step one toe out of line or hurt a single one of my kids and you will find out how much damage a human can do, even to a werewolf." And after that she turned around, distributing the glasses so that they could toast the New Year.
The others followed her, leaving Peter in a daze about what had happened. These kids had stood by him, not against another wolf-pack but against a member of their own pack. How could they do that? Why would they even think about choosing Peter's side over that of the Alpha's mother? He only realized that Lydia was still by his side when the young girl tugged at his collar, pulling him from his thoughts. Her voice was soft, so very different from the few times they had actually spoken, because then she had been terrified and resistant by then. "Innocent until proven guilty. Now come on, we don't want to miss the clock striking midnight. I have a feeling that we are in for an exciting year."
He could shift, should shift so he could drink with the others. But somehow everything he smelled, everything he felt ever since being around these kids was too overwhelming to confront in his human form, when the thoughts and emotions were even stronger. For a wolf, even one with a human side, the world was much simpler and for one night, he could allow himself a little simplicity, couldn't he? So he followed at Lydia's heel, watching this pack surrounding the TV-set in the living room, counting down the seconds to midnight.
They all cheered and clinked their glasses and hugged one another. Especially Derek seemed to throw his arms around everybody at least twice, beaming like Peter had not seen him since high school.
~ * ~
After emptying their glasses the entire pack made their way upstairs and though Derek looked at Stiles in wonder, the teenager only smiled and tugged him along. They opened a latch in the ceiling of the first floor, pulling down a steep staircase that they climbed up one after the other. Derek could even see Aiden steadying Peter on his way up. Derek didn't know if it had been his uncle's idea to join them all along or if he was merely following after Lydia in her very short skirt, but decided not to bother tonight.
Once under the roof they walked along a small pathway between boxes and old cupboards, a broken rocking chair and an outdated children's bike with a black handle, until they reached the front of the house. Stiles opened a door and one after the other they spilled out onto a small roof, with barely a railing to mark its edge.
"Every human find himself a werewolf. It's time to enjoy the first show of the year." Stiles urged, watching his werewolf friends pulling a human pack member close.
Curious where this was going, Derek watched Isaac sitting down on the floor, opening his arms, pulling Allison into his lap. Ethan of course pulled Danny close. Lydia sat down between Aiden's feet, allowing the wolf to hug her from behind, gesturing Peter to lie down beside them. Scott opened his arms for his mother and the woman sank into them, leaning against her son's broad chest, resting her head on his shoulder. That left only Stiles without a companion and though Erica and Boyd only had Mr. Argent sitting between them, the man had wanted to spend New Year with his daughter after all.
Still Stiles did not claim a place, instead a looked at Derek with a small, nearly shy smile. Only too willing to provide warmth and comfort, Derek slid down the wall and opened his arms for Stiles. The teenager took the invitation, leaning back against Derek to get as much heat as possible, announcing quietly, "Ladies and Gentleman, Happy New Year."
Amazed, Derek looked up because fireworks started to explode around them. They were close enough to enjoy them in all their glory, something Derek had always avoided in New York since they were loud and they stank. But here, in Beacon Hills, on top of the Stilinski residence, the werewolf could watch the night-sky lighting up in magical colours, without having to suffer the noise and the smell. For more than half an hour several neighbours shot firework after firework and they all watched it wordlessly.
Even when everything was over, the pack still stayed outside, watching the stars in the sky, simply revelling in being together. After nearly an hour, where everybody had followed his own train of thoughts lingering on the edge of sleep, Stiles patted Derek on the knee, prompting his family, "We should go to bed."
There was a lot of rising and shuffling, where Peter got a little lost in the amount of legs on the balcony, when out of the blue Erica spoke, "I want to sleep with Derek tonight. He's one of us now Stiles, and you said we could if he chose us."
Peter was unable to bite back a growl when he pressed forth between the bodies of the teenagers, positioning himself between his nephew and the blonde before he could even think about it. Still he didn't weaver, willing to protect the only family member he had in this pack. Things would be different if he were human, but his wolf couldn't help himself. Derek was barely more than a pup in his eyes and needed protection.
He didn't count on Derek pulling him back gently, keeping him from making the mistake of attacking a member of his new pack. When he took his next breath he was confused by the smell of undiluted joy his nephew extruded. Torn between defending his sister's son and keeping tabs on what this pack was doing, he barely comprehended when Ethan nodded in agreement, stating quietly. "Yes, me too."
Followed by Boyd who nodded his agreement and Lydia reaching out for Derek, placing a hand on his arm. Peter nearly lost his footing by turning around to keep track of all the teenagers who claimed his nephew. They seemed like an overwhelming force with Derek standing between them. How his nephew was not afraid of the prospect of being in the middle of some kind of gang-bang Peter didn't understand.
~ * ~
Derek was overwhelmed, though he believed that he had misunderstood Erica's request. When Ethan repeated it, with Danny agreeing wordlessly, Boyd nodding his consent and Lydia reaching for him he felt a bubble of joy swelling in his chest. When finally Scott nodded and stated quietly, "Yes, I would like to sleep with you as well. It's the right way to start this New Year." It was as if the sun had risen, so bright was the smile on Derek's face.
Looking at Stiles, the only member of the pack he had shared a bed with until now, Derek hoped that his human Alpha would share his pack's feelings. As much as he felt honoured, overwhelmed really, by his new family's desire to be close to him, he couldn't even think about sleeping away from Stiles tonight of all nights. Not after he had finally understood what unbelievable gift this boy had held in store for him. Stiles reached for Derek's neck and touched their foreheads, "So let's find a place to pile, gorgeous."
Stiles could feel Derek shiver under his fingertips, so he prompted the others. "Prepare the cinema, we'll be with you in a minute."
When the others spilled out to prepare a sleeping place for the pack, Stiles looked at Derek, who had his eyes firmly trailed on the floor.
"Yea?" The werewolf's voice sounded thick with emotions, as if he was barely able to keep himself together.
"It's over." Stiles whispered, pulling Derek close, wrapping his arms around the wolf, holding him as strong as he was able to. "You're one of us now, and nobody will ever make you leave." He assured the wolf, who took his time, audibly concentrated on his breathing. But after a few moments of Stiles not letting go, Derek clutched the teenager's shirt as if the boy would vanish the next second.
Patiently, Stiles held him, an arm around the small of his back, a hand wrapped around Derek's neck, holding on fast to the trembling wolf in his arms. If his shirt got drenched with tears and his jacket got claw-marks all over its back, nobody would ever know since Stiles knew how to hide such little slips from his pack. Derek still didn't looked at him when he pulled back after a while, nodding obediently when Stiles nudged him towards the house, telling him to shower before bed.
~ * ~
Once Derek was gone, Stiles turned towards the edge. He had tried to hold back, to hold everything in for the entire evening because he hadn't wanted to frighten Derek with his emotions. But now, Stiles couldn't keep himself in check any longer, he started snickering, laughing out loud until tears of joy were running down his cheeks. He felt like bursting from happiness. Tonight had been a gamble and despite his lack of preparation he had won. Won more than one wolf's allegiance and he felt like shouting his happiness from the top of his roof.
He pressed his hands together, slowly pulling them apart, concentrating on his energy, forcing it out of his body so that he would not burst. When he finally let go lighting illuminated the night in the most vibrant colours, connecting Stiles to every part of his own home and the closest area of his territory. He didn't know how long he allowed this storm of emotion getting the better of him, but when he finally lowered his hands, he felt a set of strong arms warping around him from behind.
"That was pretty amazing, bro," Scott whispered into his ear, holding him upright now that Stiles had exhausted himself. "But our wolves are waiting for you, one of them even more anxiously than the others."
"I know," Stiles gave in, allowing his best friend to help him through his evening routine before stumbling down the stairs. When they entered the cinema the three-level cushioned surface had been equalled so that it made one, huge platform where they could all snuggle together.
It was no surprise for Stiles to see Derek lying in the middle, Erica wrapped around him from behind, Lydia at the top and Allison was smiling at the nervous wolf from a distance. Tension seemed to drain out of Derek when Stiles crawled onto the platform, claiming the spot beside him, turning so the wolf could wrap around him from behind.
Scott followed his best friend, using Stiles thigh as a cushion, arms wrapped around Allison's legs when the girl lay in the arms of her other boyfriend.
Peter was the only one who walked around the platform, lying down in a corner shortly before picking up his pacing again. He looked at the teenagers, unsure if he wanted to sneer at them for the undignified puppy pile or hop onto the bed to snuggle up to them.
Nobody said anything for a little while, but after the quarter of an hour Scott whispered, "Lydia, get your wolf to stop patrolling." And Stiles continued, "As long as he's not up here, none of us will find any rest."
Low mumbles assured Peter that everybody shared the opinion of the two Alphas, to his amazement even Scott's mother and Allison's father muttered their agreement. So Peter slowly rose from his place on the floor and jumped onto the platform when Lydia held her hand out for him.
He allowed his instincts to guide him, when he curled up behind Lydia and Aiden, as far away from the hunter as possible, but still, when the girl traded places with her boyfriend turning her back on Derek, waving her fingers through his unruly pelt, he felt tension draining out of him he had not even noticed to be his constant companion over the last few years. Looking at the security monitors he realized that the clock was about to strike two when he finally closed his eyes. Two hours into the New Year and at least a small part of his family finally seemed to have found a pack that cared for them.
He drifted off to Stiles' and Scott's quiet whispers, "Welcome to the family."
~ * ~