Every morning, the first thing Stiles does after he showers is bind his breasts.
It’s the first part of his daily routine, something that is as soothing as it is necessary. It makes him feel real, like he’s no longer some big joke God or whoever is playing. He feels like he’s on the road to being right, to being who he’s supposed to be and not--not what he is right now. So he dons a binder that is maybe just a bit too tight, tells himself he likes the pinch, that it means something, and resolutely does not look in the mirror until he’s pulled on a long-sleeve shirt.
Stiles has only ever really had two friends, and one was his mom. After she died, Stiles had thought he would go insane, that everything he’d been working towards was lost. His dad supports him, sure, but it isn’t the same, it’s not like when his mom was alive. She had been his champion. Then she died and Stiles was alone for a little less than a year, until Scott had moved to Beacon Hills. Stiles had needed a friend so badly, needed somebody, just so he wouldn’t feel so alone, so when Stiles had found Scott, and when Scott hadn’t seemed put off by Stiles’ eccentricities, Stiles had taken the leap.
The memory of telling Scott is still vivid in Stiles’ mind, even now, two years later, and whenever he thinks about how he’s going to have to tell the others soon, before they figure it out for themselves, he remembers that day. He knows not everyone is going to be as accepting as Scott, particularly not Jackson who is a jerk on a good day and a grade-A asshole on a bad one, but Scott will be there for him. They’ve already discussed it and Scott promised. He hasn’t told Allison, either, and Scott tells her everything now, so Stiles knows he can trust him.
Stiles should be getting dressed, but instead he loses himself in his thoughts.
~ * ~
He revisits the memory of Scott inviting him to the pool the summer they were fourteen and Stiles balking. He’d said yes because it was almost ninety-eight degrees out, and he’s been to the pool before, has gone to swim off extra energy with his mom and sometimes his dad, but he’s never been with a friend and he knows that most guys don’t swim in t-shirts.
Scott actually puts his shirt back on when Stiles refuses to take off his own, and though he gives Stiles a weird look, he doesn’t bring it up until they’re back at Stiles’ house, getting ready to shower and then order pizza.
“Is it a scar? Or something? I mean, did you have, like, open-heart surgery and you don’t like people looking at your scar?”
Stiles stares at him, blinks and says, “Dude, seriously. You have got to stop watching Untamed Heart with your mom. No, dude, I didn’t have open-heart surgery, which means no, I don’t have a gorilla heart.”
“Oh. Then why did you keep your shirt on at the pool? If it’s because you’re white, I gotta tell you, man, you’re not gonna get a tan like that.”
There are a dozen different lies Stiles could tell him, but his mom had always said that when Stiles found someone he could trust with his secret, he would know and he should follow his gut. Or his heart. Whichever was talking loudest. He takes a deep breath, fists his hands at his side and says in a rush,
“Um. Wow. So I think the only word I caught was ‘breasts,’” Scott replies, and he’s doing an amazing job of only looking at Stiles’ face.
Stiles’ chest goes tight and he tries to pull in air, but it’s like that first year after his mother’s death. He can’t remember which way is in when he breathes, can’t get all the thoughts and worries flooding his brain to quiet. His hands are shaking but he has to unclench his fists so he can grab onto the back of a chair and hold himself upright. Stiles is dizzy and sick, and he really wants Scott to just magically understand.
“Breasts,” Stiles chokes, out, and he’s horrified that he’s maybe, possibly, crying as well. He had thought this would be easier because he trusts Scott. “I have breasts. I’m not--I wasn’t born a boy. Not--not physically.”
There’s this long, terrifying silence before Scott finally speaks. “Okay, so wait. You were born a girl? As in, you’re actually a girl who just likes to dress as a boy?”
And yeah, Stiles is crying, but it’s too late to worry about that because his only friend is probably about to become his ex-friend and this was why they had moved to Beacon Hills when Stiles was in the third grade, so that he could have a place where people weren’t trying to force him to be someone he wasn’t, like his second grade teacher, Ms. Adams and oh god, why can’t he breathe?
“I was born--I was born wrong and this--this isn’t who I am,” he cries, waving a hand at his chest.
“Um, wow. Stiles? Stiles, uh. Hey, Stiles, I’m just--I’m gonna go call my mom, okay? Like, I’ll, uh, I’ll be back.”
He practically runs out of the room and that’s when Stiles’ legs give out. He falls to the ground with a crash and he’s sort of surprised to find that the tears have stopped. He’s still breathing too fast and too hard, still feels lightheaded, but he also feels empty. Like something inside him is broken and he thinks, this is it. I’ll never have another friend again.
Later, Stiles will feel ashamed that he thought so little of Scott in that moment, because just as Stiles finally starts to stand up again, Scott is back, one arm curving around Stiles’ waist, eyes wide and frightened as he leads him over to the couch. He sits down just as close to Stiles as he used to, doesn’t let go as he tells Stiles over and over that he’s sorry, that he called his mom because Stiles is clearly freaking out and his dad is working and Scott is worried. But he’s not grossed out, and Stiles isn’t wrong. Maybe he’s not right, but he’s not wrong either, and just because he was born a girl doesn’t mean he’s not still Scott’s best friend. He is. If he can deal with Scott’s eternal nerdiness, then Scott can deal with the fact his best friend has breasts. It’s not that big of a deal, dude.
Stiles wonders why the world isn’t full of more Scott’s, because everyone should have a friend that is this accepting.
By the time Melissa McCall arrives, Stiles has managed to calm down a bit, but he sort of falls apart when she asks what’s wrong and Scott has to tell her. He kind of does a crap job at it, but he gets points for effort and for not calling Stiles a girl, and still saying things like, ‘he,’ and ‘his.’ It can’t be easy, not when you’ve just been told your best friend was born with a vagina and breasts, but Scott doesn’t slip up once and for that--for that Stiles is really fucking grateful.
The added bonus is that Melissa puts Stiles in touch with a therapist who specializes in the psychological ramifications of being born with one gender but identifying with another. He is informed, nice, and he helps Stiles deal with a lot of the personal self-identity issues his previous therapist had glossed over. But more than that, after just one session with Dr. Grayson, Stiles feels more confident. And his dad has already agreed that Stiles can start the hormone therapy after his sixteenth birthday because it’s not like this isn’t real, like he’s going to change his mind or decide that no, he’s actually fine with having a girl’s body. So just a little under two years and everything will begin for him. Really begin.
~ * ~
Stiles is just tugging a short-sleeve t-shirt on over his long-sleeve when his phone rings and he’s surprised and suspicious in equal turns when he sees ‘Sour Wolf’ flashing on the LCD screen. Derek has been acting odd recently, odder than usual. The first month after he took on alpha status, he’d been busy trying – and failing – to train Jackson, who was at least fifty percent anger before the change and is now closing in on eighty percent. Mr. Argent had been furious, probably still is, which was why Stiles had stepped in, using all the things he’d learned through trial-and-error with Scott to help Jackson.
Now Jackson has control of his wolf except on full moons, when he and Derek go on lockdown together while Scott lounges around on Allison’s roof -- because that’s not weird. And even though Stiles is the reason Jackson no longer wolfs out at the slightest provocation, he still bears the brunt of Jackson’s taunting. He’d resent it, but he’s pretty sure there must be something redeemable in Jackson, considering he’s best friends with Danny, who is not only a jock and out, but also one of the nicest people Stiles knows. He’s confident he can wait it out.
Since then, though, Derek has been acting weird. Standing too close, glaring more than usual. It makes Stiles uncomfortable and a few times he’s ducked into the restroom to check if his binder has rolled up under his shirt, positive Derek’s seen something that’s given him away.
He lets the call go to voicemail, planning to just hear out whatever it is Derek wants to say, but seconds after the ‘missed call’ alert pops up, Derek calls again. Stiles groans, jerks his pants up and belts them into place before he answers, taking care not to let his annoyance bleed through. He’s going to be late to school at this rate.
“Derek, hey. Hi.” He could ramble on, but he’s busy looking for his other shoe, so he leaves it at that.
“Pack meeting at my house tomorrow at 3pm. Don’t be late.”
“Uh.” Stiles stills in his search because tomorrow is Saturday and he’s supposed to meet with his therapist at 1:30pm. There’s no way he’ll make it back in time. And normally he wouldn’t care, but Derek is calling him to tell him to be at a pack meeting, and Stiles feels like that’s kind of a big deal. He’s never actually been invited, he’s always just shown up with Scott or sometimes on his own and then ignored Derek’s glares. He likes irritating Mr. Big Bad Alpha and being the uninvited guest is always the quickest way to do that.
“What? Is that inconvenient, or do you just only come when you’re not invited?”
“Dude, which werewolf woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, Mr. Grumpy Pants? It isn’t that. I’ve just got a thing tomorrow. At 1:30.”
“If you want to be considered part of the pack, Stiles, you need to learn to do what I say, when I say. And right now, I’m saying be at my house tomorrow at 3pm.”
Derek has already hung up by the time Stiles thinks of a witty comeback to that, so he locks the screen on his phone, shoves it in his pocket and finishes tying his shoes. He’s totally running late now, so he doesn’t even have time to grab some toast as he runs out the door, and Stiles meanly changes Derek’s ringtone on his phone to ‘Werewolves of London,’ because Duran Duran is too good for the jerk. That one went to Scott and Jackson has Tool’s ‘Forty Six & 2.’ Stiles will have to figure out a good ringtone for Danny when the time comes.
When he gets to the school, he pulls into the only parking spot left, the one farthest from the building and located under a tree that spits sap. Stiles is pretty sure this is going to be the worst Friday ever, but when he slides into his seat in English, Scott is there, a travel mug filled with rich, black coffee and a bagel sandwich wrapped in napkins. He slips both to Stiles with a grin.
“Dude. Dude, you are my favorite person ever. I seriously love you right now.” The words are chased by a hushed groan as he takes a bite of his breakfast, and Scott just grins.
“You said you were planning to study all night and you didn’t answer when I called this morning.”
“Yeah, I overslept, and then stupid Derek called to tell me there’s a pack meeting tomorrow at 3pm, which I can’t make it to, not that he understands that.”
Scott opens his mouth to reply, but their teacher interrupts, telling them both to shut up and at least pretend to pay attention. They do so grudgingly, but the moment the bell rings, Scott is talking again.
“You should tell him why,” he says as they file out of the room and into the packed hallway.
“Yes, because telling him I’ve got a meeting with my therapist who is an hour away for reasons I’m unwilling to divulge is going to go down so nicely. He totally won’t threaten to rip my throat out or possibly banish me from attending all further meetings.”
“Not that you’d listen to him.”
“Yeah, well, obviously, but he’ll probably get all mean about it.” He pulls out his phone, scrolls through his contacts until he finds his therapist’s number and waffles over whether or not to call. He could see if there’s an earlier time available, but he hates the idea of having to rearrange this part of his life for anyone. He shoves his phone back in his pocket and gulps down half the coffee after offering Scott the first sip.
“Anyway, I’ll just make something up and text him. It’s not like he can hear my heartbeat that way, right?”
“Or,” Scott says as they detour to avoid Jackson. “You could just tell him. I mean, so far he hasn’t figured it out, but he’s bound to at some point. Wolves have a keen sense of smell and sooner or later, you’re going to wind up alone with him and you won’t have Allison or Lydia to hide behind.”
Stiles scowls at the reminder. He’s been lucky so far. The fact that he has a period to deal with at all kills him, but at least it’s short and light and, because maybe someone out there is looking out for him, he’s on the same schedule as Allison, which means that as long as he sticks close to her, no one else notices his scent. It’s risky, but Stiles hates being alone too much not to risk it.
They’re almost late to econ, and their coach raises an eyebrow at them as they slip into their seats just as the final bell rings. Stiles uses digging out his text book as cover to whisper to Scott.
“I just—he already hates me, you know? But he still lets me pretend like I’m part of the pack and I’m not—I don’t think I’m ready to give that up.”
Scott sighs and he sounds so disappointed that Stiles can’t help but wince. He knows he sounds needy, but he spent the first twelve years of his life with only his mom for a friend and the last three with just Scott. He likes having more people to hang out with on a semi-regular basis, even if he’s pretty sure none of them consider him to be their friend.
They can’t talk during econ because Coach is quick to use anything excuse to humiliate them, but the minute they’re out of class and headed to third period, Scott is there, one arm slung around Stiles, his other hand tucked into Allison’s.
“You’re being an idiot. I think you’re underestimating Derek and his ability to be a decent human being.”
Allison, who has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, says, “Totally. You can definitely tell him. He’s just a big, misunderstood, baby-eating alpha werewolf.”
They share a grin behind Scott’s back and Stiles thinks maybe it’s been worth it in the long run, how ignored he felt when she and Scott first got together.
Then she adds, “But seriously, Stiles, I think you should give Derek a chance, whatever it is. He picks on you because he knows you can take it.” Stiles loses all faith in her.
“Actually,” Scott says, as Allison heads to French and they enter the chemistry classroom. “He said you just smell the best when you get scared.”
“So he’s really a pervert. Nice. Great. Awesome. Also? Screw you.”
Stiles ignores Scott for the duration of class – which isn’t hard now that they’re on opposite sides of the room – and focuses his attention on Danny and their assignment. Mr. Harris doesn’t hover as he normally tends to, but Jackson manages to bump his arm just as he’s reaching for the sulfuric acid and the glass bottle slides across the desk and shatters all over the floor, earning Stiles a detention.
God, he hates this class.
~ * ~
Stiles forgoes the binder in the morning because Scott has a point. Sooner or later, Derek is going to need to know and Stiles wants it to be on his terms, not because something happens and he’s outed involuntarily. So he dons the usual two layers of shirts and then pulls on his jacket as well. He feels naked and weird and the sensation of his chest moving kind of makes him want to either punch something or cry.
He puts the binder in his backpack to take with him for afterwards, because he’s not going to spend the rest of the day feeling like this, grabs his wallet and phone, shoves them into his pocket, then heads downstairs where his dad is starting coffee and possibly contemplating breakfast. Stiles has time to scramble eggs before he heads over to Derek’s, and food might help calm his nerves, especially something high in protein.
“Where you headed off to so early?” his dad asks as Stiles pulls out one pan for eggs and one for bacon.
“Over to Derek’s.” He pauses, looks over at his dad uneasily. He knows how his dad feels about him being there, especially since Stiles told him about the werewolf thing and had Scott back him up with physical proof. His dad thinks he’s playing with fire, so he figures it’s probably a good reason to tell him why. “I—Scott thinks I should tell him. I wanted to wait until—well, I wanted to wait, but he’s right. I need to tell Derek at the very least, just in case.”
His dad studies him for a moment, eyes tired and bracketed by worry lines Stiles is pretty sure he put there. He feels bad for this, for causing his dad so much trouble, even if his dad never complains. Stiles wonders if he ever regrets having a child, or if he wishes his kid weren’t so screwed up.
“Do you want me to come with?” his dad offers after a long moment. “We could take the cruiser, that way he understands I’m not just there as your dad, that this is about the law as well.”
That makes Stiles smile. “Nah. It might just make him angrier. It’ll be fine. Plus Scott already knows I’m headed over there. Ten bucks says he lurks within hearing range just in case he needs to come rescue me because he was wrong about Derek not wanting to ri—er, eat me.”
His dad snorts and goes back to his paper, and ten minutes later, Stiles is sliding him a plate of eggs and bacon. He only manages a few bites of his own before nerves threaten to make him throw it back up, so he rinses off his plate and loads it into the dishwasher.
“I’ll probably head over to the doc’s after, but I should be home by 4pm. What time is your shift tonight?”
“Got the evening off. I hear there’s a marathon of really bad werewolf movies on tonight. We could order pizza, stay in, hang out?”
“Yeah,” Stiles replies. “Yeah, that sounds great.” He leans in to give his dad a hug goodbye, then grabs his keys from the counter and darts out the door. It’s already 9:30am and he needs to be on the road to his therapist’s by noon or he’ll be late.
~ * ~
Derek is standing on the porch when Stiles pulls up, and he’s an imposing figure against the backdrop of his crumbling house. Stiles still hates the idea of Derek living here, of him being surrounded by so many bad memories, and he knows Scott feels the same way, but short of inviting Derek to move into the guest bedroom, there aren’t many other options.
Stiles drums his fingers on the steering wheel, drags out the task of unclasping the seat belt and tells himself to breathe. He’s still a few days away from it, but he dropped by Scott’s house on his way, face beet red as he asked his best friend to tell him if he smelled like he was close. Scott had stood next to him, face dark with embarrassment and sniffed hard, then backed away and declared Stiles’ secret safe from a werewolf’s nose.
As he pushes open his car door, Stiles reminds himself that Derek won’t actually kill him, if only because that would bring the Argents down on the entire pack. It doesn’t keep him from getting nervous, though, so by the time he reaches the foot of the decrepit stairs his palms are sweaty. Derek’s suspicious glare does nothing to assuage Stiles’ fears and he almost turns away right then, but he can’t. He knows that.
“The meeting isn’t until 3pm,” Derek says. He looks ready to add something cutting to that comment, but then he goes still, head cocked to the side in what Stiles has come to think of as his ‘listening’ pose. “Want to tell me why the sheriff is parked just down the road, car idling and with back-up on standby?”
“Oh my god,” Stiles groans, and he’s not sure if he’s annoyed or embarrassed that his dad even thinks that’s necessary. “Possibly because he knows I was planning to come over here to tell you something that may or may not make you very, very angry.”
There’s really no warning. One minute Derek is standing on the porch and the next he’s right in front of Stiles’ eyes bright red and angry. It’s more than a little terrifying and Stiles stumbles back, putting some much needed space between them.
“I swear to god, Stiles, if you or that idiot friend of yours have gotten me in trouble with the sheriff’s department again, I will rip your throat out.”
Stiles pales and shakes his head. “No! God, no. It’s—it’s nothing like that. I just—it’s, uh, personal? And—but, um, Scott thinks it’s probably best that I tell you. I mean, I think so too, you know, I just—there aren’t really that many people who know and it’s not, like, something I can just say, but it might become, uh, an issue? Like, a big issue. Later. If you found out by accident. Which is why I’m here. Now. To tell you. You’reteetharereallyfuckingsharplookingcouldyoupleaseputthemaway!”
He’s cringing by the end and he’d like to back up, but Derek has somehow managed to crowd him against the hood of his car without him realizing it, eyes still glowing, fangs jutting out. Derek makes like he’s going to lunge because he’s an asshole like that, but at the last second pulls back, eyes narrowed but once again their normal green. His nostrils flare and Stiles kind of wants to throw up.
“I’m not actually going to kill you,” Derek says with a frown, and he steps back, gives Stiles breathing room. “So what is you need to tell me that you think could possibly end in your death.”
Stiles opens his mouth to say, ‘I was born a girl,’ but the words lodge in his throat, choking him. He swallows, tries to force them out, but he can’t. He’s only ever done this with Scott and Scott’s mother and even if Derek doesn’t kill him for lying, he’s probably going to kick Stiles out of the pack and yeah, it’s got to be said, but Stiles just--he hates those words.
So instead he says, “I was born a boy,” and waits grimly as Derek stares at him, trying to work out why Stiles’ heartbeat is telling him that statement was a lie.
It’s to be expected, Stiles knows. He closes his eyes, and says it like he’s supposed to, like he spent all night practicing. “I was born a girl. Or at least, I was born with a girl’s body. I—I just.” He’s running out of words, out of air, and he sags back against his Jeep under the weight of Derek’s scrutinizing stare. “It isn’t that I wanted to lie, I just—Scott’s the only person who knows besides my dad and Mrs. McCall, and I don’t. I had to leave my last school because my teacher told me I was abnormal in front of the class and I just want—I want—” Stiles isn’t sure what the hell he wants right now, so he shakes his head, slips around the front of his car to the driver’s side door and opens it. He doesn’t meet Derek’s gaze as he whispers, “I’m sorry,” and then he’s peeling away, leaving Derek to stand in the cloud of dust his tires make.
Stiles makes sure to slow down before he reaches his father, makes a point of singing along to whatever shitty song happens to be playing on the radio, only looking up when his dad passes around him and honks. Stiles honks back, waits for his father’s car to disappear around the curve in the road, then pulls over. He makes it about five steps before he’s throwing up in the bushes and he doesn’t even try to fight the tears that threaten to choke the air out of him.
He allows himself five minutes and then he’s back in the car, radio unnaturally silent as he makes the hour-long drive to his therapist’s office. Stiles has a feeling it’s going to be a pretty unproductive session, but it certainly beats sitting at home stewing alone.
~ * ~
Stiles schedules his next appointment on his way out, this one three weeks away because Dr. Grayson is going out of town, and heads back to his Jeep feeling moderately better than he was when he initially arrived. Or at least, he is until he sees Derek leaning against the side of his Jeep, no sign of the black muscle car anywhere to be seen. He’s almost afraid to ask—
“How did you get here?”
“You’re really unobservant when you’re emotional.”
Stiles goes from wary to furious in seconds and he hurls his keys at Derek’s head. “Fuck you, you asshole,” he shouts, uncaring who might see or hear him.
“No, hey.” Derek catches the keys and pockets them all in one swift movement, then he’s in Stiles’ space, hands on Stiles’ shoulders. “That’s not what I meant, Stiles. Calm. Down. Everyone gets emotional, not just females. Look at Scott. Every time he gets emotional, he tries to kill you.”
Stiles tries to jerk away because he doesn’t need this placating bullshit, but Derek doesn’t let go. His grip tightens until Stiles finally goes still.
“If you call me a girl—”
“I swear to you, Stiles, that isn’t what I meant. You were—you were sick in the woods. I’d followed you in wolf form and when you ducked behind the bushes for privacy, I hopped into the back of your Jeep and laid down behind your seat. I kind of expected you to notice me at some point, but you were pretty lost in your head.”
It sounds valid enough, and Stiles gives him a jerky nod to show he’s listening.
“We won’t make it back in time for the pack meeting,” he feels obligated to point out.
“I already called the others to tell them it was canceled. Scott knows I followed you here and he even threatened to tell Chris Argent that I bit a small child if I fuck this up.” He sort of grimaces at the last, but Stiles knows it’s really just a constipated smile. He’s going to have work on that with Derek, teach him how to smile in a way that won’t terrify the masses.
“Okay, so then why are you here?”
“You didn’t even give me a chance to respond, Stiles. You show up at my house at 10am on a Saturday, bombard me with something I never even saw coming and then run away before I’ve even had a chance to digest the information. You can’t do that, Stiles. Not with me, not with anyone.”
“I think you’ll notice that I can. And I’d like to do that right now but you’re in my way.”
Derek wolf-grins at Stiles, all straight, white teeth that might not be fangs but could still tear his throat out. Then Derek is moving around him, climbing into the driver’s seat of Stiles’ Jeep. Stiles is really going to have to put his foot down one of these days, but he decides that can wait and scrambles into the passenger seat just as Derek revs the engine.
“Jesus!” Stiles struggles with his seatbelt for a moment before he realizes they aren’t moving, and slowly, oh so slowly, his heart rate drops back to normal. “Right. Okay. What the hell, dude?”
“First you’re going to buckle up, then we’re going to go get food because I’m pretty sure you need to be fed every three hours or you’ll combust. After that, we’re going to drive back to Beacon Hills slowly so that we can discuss how you cannot just tell people you’re transgender and then run away.” The words are fierce, but there’s something almost gentle in Derek’s gaze, like he understands just how terrified Stiles is and is trying his hardest not to make things worse.
“Fine, but you’re buying me a cheeseburger. And not some shitty McDonald’s cheeseburger, either. I want In-n-Out. A double double, animal-style. With animal-style fries.”
“I swear to God, I don’t know where the hell you put all that food. I’m surprised you haven’t put your father in the poor house with how much you eat.” Derek puts the Jeep into drive and peels out of the parking lot.
~ * ~
They go from Derek lecturing Stiles on etiquette and how he needs to stop talking once there’s food in his mouth, to discussing Stiles’ decision to tell Derek. There are other questions, but Derek doesn’t ask them in the car. Stiles isn’t sure how he feels about that, how he feels about anything right now, but since Derek also hasn’t told him to stop coming by, or that he’s no longer an unofficial member of the pack, he figures he’ll take what he can get.
By the time they pull up outside Derek’s house, it’s pretty late. With all the trees around them, it seems darker than it should be and Stiles shivers a little. He’ll never like being out here, where everything seems so dead, where Derek is living in a ramshackle house that was burnt nearly to cinders with almost his entire family trapped inside. Where Derek’s sister was torn in half so their uncle could become alpha. Where Stiles helped light a man on fire. He still has nightmares about that, and even though he knows it was necessary, he feels sick to his stomach knowing he helped end another person’s life.
Derek drags him out of his thoughts with a hand on his shoulder. “I’ve moved the meeting to tomorrow, same time. I’ll pick you up at 11am, though, so we can finish this discussion beforehand.” He holds up a hand to forestall Stiles’ reply. “I’ll meet at your house at 11am. How’s that. No one to overhear.” Derek’s gaze sweeps over Stiles and somehow doesn’t linger on his chest. “It explains a lot,” Derek mutters, and it’s like he’s talking to himself so Stiles stays silent. “Right. Tomorrow. We’ll finish this discussion then, and lay out some ground rules as well. Rules to keep you safe, Stiles, not rules to degrade you. Now go away.”
Stiles clamors over into the driver’s seat and is driving away before Derek even finishes closing the door. He manages to slam his door shut and buckle himself in without having to stop and makes it all the way home without getting sick. Nerve wracking as it was, Stiles counts the day as a win and goes into his house ready for a long night of bad movies and hanging out with his dad.
~ * ~
Stiles is downstairs in the kitchen pouring his second cup of coffee when Derek knocks on the door. They stare at one another for a long moment before Derek growls a little. Stiles steps back hastily and invites him in, still a little bewildered. Derek scowls.
“I said 11am. Did you think I wasn’t really going to come?”
“Uh, no. I mean, that’s not it. Dude, I’ve never seen you use the front door to anyone’s house but your own. Forgive me if I feel my entire perception of you has been thrown off.” He leads Derek through the house to the kitchen where Stiles waves him over to the kitchen table and pours him a cup of coffee as well. He has no clue if caffeine has the same, if any, effect on werewolves, but he’s sort of at a loss as to what else to do. “So,” he says, and takes a seat across from Derek.
“Have you eaten?”
“What? Oh, yeah. Had breakfast with my dad before he left this morning.” It’s not the whole truth, and he’s pretty sure Derek knows that, but Stiles has been in this state of constant nervousness since Friday, so toast is all he can currently stomach, especially after the overload of greasy food yesterday.
“So Scott knows,” Derek says without preamble.
“Uh, yeah. I, um, told him. When we were fourteen.”
“How long...” Derek breaks off and Stiles could almost smile at how uncomfortable he looks. He doesn’t though, because it’s not like this is any easier for him.
“I’ve been Stiles since I was in first grade. I hated people calling me G--by my birth name.”
Derek nods, drums his fingers on the table and lets his gaze wander to the window. He’s trying to find the right words and that kind of pisses Stiles off. Derek has never been careful around him before, never once hesitated to use brute force as an intimidation tactic. He’s not at all surprised when the silence continues to stretch and grow, filling up the room, choking the air around them with awkwardness. Just when Stiles is about to reach breaking point, the back door swings open and suddenly Scott is there, half a bagel hanging from his mouth.
“So, what’d I miss?” he asks, plopping down in the chair next to Stiles, He offers him the unbitten half of his bagel and Stiles takes it, thankful for the distraction.
“Uh, he stated that you knew about me and sort of insinuated that he was asking when I went from being from Genim to Stiles.” He glares at Derek as he says his name, daring him to say something.
“Oh. Man, wow. So you’ve been sitting here for, like, ten minutes like idiots.” Scott is clearly feeling daring, taunting his alpha, but Derek lets the comment slide. “You should totally ask Stiles about the summer between eighth grade and freshman year when I had to help him figure out how to make it look like he’s equipped down there. That was awkward.” He’s blushing as he says it, and Stiles wants to kill him, but the look of abject horror on Derek’s face makes the embarrassment worth it.
“Please don’t. I really don’t want think that’s necessary information.”
Scott grins. “He’s probably packing right now. I bet if you asked, he’d show you what it looks like.”
“Oh my god, I would not! Jesus. Can we please not talk about what might or might not be in my pants?”
Scott eases up, his face going serious in a way it normally doesn’t. “You should tell him why your family moved here. Tell him about Ms. Adams.”
“He knows about Ms. Adams.”
“No I don’t,” Derek cuts in.
“Yeah, you do. I told you about her yesterday. She was my second grade teacher, the one who called me abnormal.”
“She didn’t just call him abnormal,” Scott says, and it’s clear he wants this story told. Stiles sighs, hating his life just a little bit more.
“On the first picture day, I showed up in black pants, a light blue button down and one of those fake clip-on ties. Ms. Adams called my parents and told them it wasn’t appropriate for a little girl to dress like a boy for the class photo. She said it would give parents the wrong idea. We were sitting in the office and I could hear her, so I said that I was a little boy, that my body was just wrong. They refused to let me have my picture taken and the next day in class, Ms. Adams said it was abnormal for little girls to think they were actually little boys, and that my parents should be ashamed that I thought that way. I was switched to a different class and at the end of the year, my dad requested he be transferred here.”
Derek stares at him, gaze unreadable. He doesn’t respond, gives no outward sign that he’s even heard what Stiles said for so long, both Scott and Stiles are fidgeting. Finally he asks, “What happened when you moved here?”
“My parents met with the principal and the teachers and my new doctor. They explained the situation, told them I was to be called Stiles, that for all intents and purposes, I was a boy, I just happened to have a girl’s body. A couple of teachers were uncomfortable with the whole situation, but my third grade teacher, Ms. Coolie, was awesome. By the time I was in middle school, teachers had been referring to me as a boy for so long, I think they forgot it wasn’t biologically true. None of my teachers at Beacon Hills High know, not even coach.”
Stiles shifts uncomfortably on his chair, waits for Derek to say or ask something else.
Derek sighs and rubs a hand over his face. “The others should know. Something like this--” He stops. “This doesn’t change anything, Stiles. I--we won’t let it. You don’t have to tell them right now, but there will have to be ground rules. Shit.” He looks a little horrified again, like he’s just realized something terrible. Stiles revels in a moment of glee until Derek scowls at him. “I cannot even begin to tell you how lucky you are this did not blow up in your face. Jesus, Stiles.” Just like that, Derek’s calm facade melts away into anger.
“Don’t get mad at him!” Scott growls, and it’s sort of fascinating, watching them wolf out slowly. Stiles has to literally sit on his hands just to keep from poking at Derek’s brow and the jut of his chin as his jaw adjusts to accommodate the larger teeth.
“You have no idea how dangerous he is to be around right now because your wolf is mated,” Derek snarls and that has Stiles snapping to attention.
“Exactly. Not everything can be read in books or found on Google, Stiles. You’re like a ticking time bomb right now. In a pack made up primarily of born werewolves it wouldn’t be a big deal. They have more control over their impulses, but in this pack...”
As his fury overtakes him, Derek wolfs out the way Scott does, face broadening, claws sliding out menacingly. He looks scarier like this than when he’s an actual wolf and Stiles is moving before he can tell himself to stop, chair tumbling to the ground, legs propelling him backwards. Derek follows, snarling out a warning when Scott moves to intercede. Derek crowds him up against the wall and drops a hand to Stiles’ stomach, fingers low over his abdomen.
“Werewolves don’t go into heat, not like real wolves do. But we can smell when a female is at her most fertile and when her cycle is about to start. In a pack, a female gives off a unique smell, regardless of whether she’s a wolf or not, that attracts us. A mated female will reek of her mate, and that is generally enough to keep the rest away. You might not be a girl in that that’s not the gender you identify with, but your body still produces all the right chemicals.” He pauses, takes a deep breath and Stiles knows he’s being scented and he’s terrified. “I can smell it on you. You’re not far off from it, are you?” Stiles shakes his head no, unable to tear his eyes away from where they’re locked on Derek’s. “An untrained wolf wouldn’t know what to look for, but with each full moon, my pack grows stronger. How long, Stiles, do you think it will be before Jackson smells you? Lydia masks her scent with magic, and Allison is basically mated to Scott. He might recognize the scent on you, but his wolf won’t respond to it. The same can’t be said about Jackson, or any other werewolf we come across, myself included.”
“I’m sorry,” Stiles whispers, because he is. He has never not resented his body, but he doesn’t think he’s ever hated it as much as he does right now.
Derek’s eyes shift from the bright red to something darker, something hungry and Stiles can tell it’s a struggle for him when he steps back, chest heaving. “My wolf has been responding to you since the moment we met and I couldn’t figure out why, Stiles. I could smell that something was different, but there was so much other shit going on, I just figured my wolf thought you’d make a tasty snack. So. Ground rules. I don’t care what is happening in the pack, the three days prior, the three days after and the entire duration of, you stay away from Jackson and away from me.”
“I can’t skip school.”
“You don’t have to worry about school. Until Jackson knows what it is he’s scenting and where it’s coming from, he won’t know it’s you. And even then, there are so many girls on campus, he won’t think to track the scent to you. You’re safe at school. But you can’t come to the house, you can’t be in the woods or anywhere else we’re likely to find you, Stiles, because I can’t promise we’ll be able to control our wolf sides. You can still hang out with Scott and Allison and Lydia, and even Danny. When the time comes, I’m pretty sure his wolf will share his inclination. But Jackson and I--you need to stay away from us.”
It’s better than what Stiles had thought would happen. And he relaxes a little, lets some of the tension drain out of his muscles. He’s managed to almost completely forget about Scott, so Stiles startles when he speaks.
“What about Lydia? I mean, if she can mask her scent, couldn’t she mask Stiles’?”
Derek shakes his head, the last traces of his wolf melting away. “I’m not willing to risk it. Like I said, my wolf has been responding to Stiles’ scent right from the start. If Lydia’s magic suddenly stopped working--” He looks a little sick and Stiles isn’t sure if he should be offended or relieved. He opts for the latter at Derek’s next words. “To risk that is to risk a mating bond being forced on Stiles. It’s better if he just stays away until the scent isn’t as strong.”
Everyone in the room goes quiet for a moment, but Stiles has never been one to keep his thoughts to himself. His ADHD is only partially to blame for his inability to filter the things that come out of his mouth.
“So wait,” he says, mind slowly working through everything that’s been said over the course of the last hour. “What you’re very carefully not saying is that your wolf totally thinks I’m mate material. Huh. So my scent is attractive to wolves.” He wrinkles his nose because ew. Not really something he’s ever wanted to contemplate. Scott cackles, but shuts up quickly when Derek aims a death glare his way.
“Mention it again, Stiles, and I’ll--”
“Rip my throat out with your teeth. Yeah, I get it.”
The last of the tension leaves his body and Stiles lets his eyes fall closed. Suddenly he’s ravenous, nerves no longer twisting his stomach in on itself and he thinks fries sound good. Or maybe chicken. There’s still leftover fried chicken from Thursday night and maybe even some mashed potatoes. When he opens his eyes, Derek is gone, but Scott is still there, gaze fond.
“I told you it wouldn’t be so bad.”
Stiles shrugs and pushes away from the wall, opens the fridge. “There’s still Jackson to tell, and I’m pretty sure he was absent the day they handed out the pamphlets on sensitivity.”
“Yeah, but he’s got Danny there to beat him into submission. He’s not gonna make a shitty remark about you being transgender when his best friend is gay.”
Stiles really hopes Scott is right, but even if isn’t, he’s pretty sure Jackson won’t be a jerk about it forever. For all that Jackson likes to land a few extra tackles in lacrosse and maybe shoulder Stiles out of the way a bit more than necessary, he’s never gotten personal with his insults. That has to count for something. But that’s also for later. Right now, Stiles is starving. So he pulls out all the leftovers and piles them onto the table, and between he and Scott, they manage to put away at least fifteen chicken legs, and the last of the mashed potatoes. They finish with two hours to spare before the meeting, and as they’re climbing into Stiles car to pick up Allison, he puts a hand on Scott’s wrist.
“I don’t know when Derek plans to tell the others, but maybe we could tell Allison. Before the meeting?”
Scott’s smile is all encompassing. “All right, but dude, if we’re telling Allison, it is my right as her boyfriend and your best friend to tell her about how I had to sneak tampons into the locker room for you freshman year.”
“Ass,” Stiles grumbles, but for the first time, he doesn’t hate the reminder that he’s not quite how he wants to be. He’ll get there, he knows that. Dr. Grayson had promised to have a list of surgeons they next time they meet and it can only go uphill from there, no matter how hard he has to work.
They swap cars at Scott’s house because Stiles lacks a backseat, then they’re off to Allison’s. There’s nothing awkward about the silence between them, but Stiles can’t help his need to fill the quiet, so he fiddles with the radio until he finds something not too old and not too hipster. When they pull up to Allison’s, he jumps into the backseat and arranges himself carefully. His phone buzzes with a text from ‘Sour Wolf’ while Scott is making nice with Allison’s dad and Stiles opens it, his face breaking out in a broad grin.
‘Think of it less as being ‘wrong’ and more as simply being ‘incomplete.’ When you’re ready, we’ll help you tell the others, but there’s no rush.’
“What’s so funny?” Allison asks as she slides into her seat.
“It’s kind of a long story,” Stiles replies. “One I’m totally willing to explain to in exchange for coke.”
She laughs. “Fair enough.” Her gaze isn’t searching, and she doesn’t push, but Stiles can tell she senses something important is going on. He takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, and is trying to figure out what words he’ll use this time when Scott clambers in.
“I’m not sure who I fear more,” he says as he pulls away carefully. “Your father or my alpha.” He drives like a grandmother until the Argent house is out of sight, and then he hits the gas just enough to get them really going. “So, hey, where to?”
“Somewhere we can talk without anyone overhearing us,” Stiles replies.
Scott catches his eye in the mirror and grins. “Cool. Cool. Hey, dude, it’s gonna be fine.”
Stiles nods. He’s pretty sure it will be too.
His phone buzzes again, and Stiles opens the new message, only half his attention on the conversation taking place in the front seat.
‘For the record, I’m pretty sure my wolf would consider you “mate material” regardless. That’s not the only scent he finds appealing.’
Stiles’ breath catches in his throat and heshakily replies with a cheeky, ‘Knew you liked me.’ As he slips his phone back into his pocket, it occurs to Stiles that for the first time in his life, he’s not going to have to do this alone.