Stiles found out what was wrong on Saturday.
He did something about it on Sunday.
The pack found out on Monday.
Stiles tapped his fingers against his leg rhythmically, eyes scouring the page in front of him. He tried not to sigh as he flipped the page again. Deaton had loaned the pack some tomes, and Stiles was steadily making his way through one on werewolves. So far, he already knew all of the information the book was telling him.
The door to the loft slammed open. Stiles jumped, a small yelp escaping him as he slammed the book shut on his fingers. He gently pulled his hand out of the book and cradled it to his chest.
Stiles froze as Derek came into the kitchen, eyes red. He didn’t seem to notice the human sitting at the kitchen counter, stiff in his seat, heart beating loudly. Stiles dug his fingers into his thigh with one hand while the other slowly pulled the tome closer to his chest.
“Derek?” he whispered, as if talking too loud would turn the alpha against him.
Derek whipped around, red eyes zeroing in on Stiles. Surprisingly, no growl erupted from his chest.
“Are you okay?” Stiles asked. Fear was slowly bleeding into concern.
Derek just stared. The tense line of his shoulders drooped as he took a deep breath, nostrils flaring.
“Do you want me to call the rest of the pack?”
Like a flip was switched, Derek dropped into a crouch and roared. The noise shook the cabinets. Stiles’s foot caught on his chair as he scrambled to back away, the tome’s weight bringing him to the ground on the other side of the counter from Derek. He held the book over his head in a grim chance to save himself.
But no blow came. His life didn’t flash before his eyes. He didn’t die horribly with a swipe of extra-sharp alpha claws.
Instead, Stiles opened his eyes. He peeked around the counter, body taut and ready to sprint, and saw… an empty room.
Derek was gone.
Stiles went to Deaton immediately, distancing himself from the loft as fast as he could. It had to be a werewolf problem, he thought. If it wasn’t, it was a Derek problem, which was infinitely worse.
Deaton just smiled his cryptic smile and said something about the green tome’s chapter 13. He didn’t give any more detail, no matter how much Stiles’ pushed. Stiles drove home, cursing under his breath. He took note of the empty driveway. The Sheriff’s shift was supposed to end at three p.m., and it was way past that, so Stiles knew he was working a double.
The green tome was the one regarding werewolves, Stiles remembered. He ran his fingers over the large tree on the cover. He closed his eyes. His Spark, the warmth inside his chest that Deaton told him was magic, pulsed through his fingertips on the cover of the tome. The magic found what it was looking for.
Page 487, chapter 13 of the Green Tome. Stiles flipped to it.
Formal Etiquette within a Pack , it said in looping handwriting. The ink was precise and clean. Stiles ran a finger over the large, curled P , and his magic thrummed inside him.
He spent the next few hours reading, losing himself in the subject.
Ring! His alarm blared in his ear.
Stiles blearily lifted his head from his desk, a paper sticking to his cheek as he did so. He swatted it off with a swipe of his hand. His phone rang again. He hit the snooze button blindly, eyes fixed on the paper he had pulled off his cheek. There was drool on it, but he was more interested in the content of the paper.
He remembered now.
The night before, and he knew it was the night before because the sun was now shining through his werewolf-friendly window, he found something important in the Green Tome. Something very important.
Scott’s ringtone played, shocking Stiles out of his dazed panic. He checked the text.
Pack meeting tonight at Derek’s place.
He only had till the end of the day to think of a way to fix Derek.
The problem, as the Green Tome had told him right where his magic had guided him, surprisingly was not Derek’s fault. It was everybody else’s. Werewolves had specific instincts programmed into them, whether they were born or bitten. Formal etiquette was important to them, and werewolf biology guaranteed its success with hidden instincts.
Why was this important? Well, Stiles threw himself backwards onto his bed as he internally monologued, one of those instincts was the need to join a pack. Formal etiquette said that to do this, a wolf needed to formally join and swear submission to the alpha.
It had taken Stiles a minute to understand, when he had first read the Green Tome. But then it hit him. None of the pack, well, none of the people who thought themselves to be in Derek’s pack, had formally joined it. And there laid the problem.
Derek was an alpha without a pack.
But why hadn’t Derek told them that they needed to submit?
He probably thought that the wolves understood their instincts and didn’t submit on purpose. That self-sacrificing, alpha idiot. Stiles grit his teeth at the thought of his alpha with no pack bonds to anchor him.
He had to fix it.
The pack meeting, as usual, was every Sunday night at seven.
Stiles showed up with a pie. He made sure it was Derek’s favorite type, just in case his plan failed.
Derek regarded him carefully, but Boyd pushed Stiles into the living room before any threats could pass between them. Boyd took the pie and headed towards the kitchen. He knew Boyd was his favorite for a reason.
The meeting passed in a daze after that.
Stiles found himself watching the pack’s every move. He saw Erica, Isaac, and Boyd huddled on one couch, Scott and Allison on the other, as Jackson and Lydia claimed the armchair. They were all separated. It was so obvious now; they didn’t act as though they had pack bonds. They were friends, but not pack.
He gravitated towards Derek as the meeting ended.
Scott waited by the door, a concerned look on his face, but Stiles waved him away with a lame excuse.
He felt Derek’s eyes on him, but he waited until the werewolves were out of hearing distance.
He turned to Derek, met his eyes.
“Alpha Hale,” he stated. He watched Derek’s eyes flash red as they widened. Derek flared his nostrils and stepped forward. He was playing with fire, evoking the Alpha in him, but it was necessary. “Alpha Hale, I, Spark Mieczysław Stilinski, formally submit to you.”
Derek staggered back, aware of what Stiles was doing.
“I give my throat to you. I ask to become part of your pack and be your loyal beta. I will risk my life for your pups, and do everything I can to keep the pack safe. Though I am not a wolf, I will act as a valuable beta if given the chance.”
Stiles tilted his head to the side, baring his throat to his alpha. He didn’t hesitate. He had practiced before the meeting, practiced to keep his heart steady and not let the smell of fear escape him. The only thing left was for Derek to decide. He closed his eyes.
Stiles heard Derek step towards him, felt fingers hover over his skin, but they stayed there, just hovering, not touching. Stiles knew he had to do something.
“I submit, Derek,” he whispered.
That was all it took.
Sharpened teeth touched Stiles’ throat with just enough pressure not to break the skin. His breath stopped, his heart stopped. The feeling that consumed him was more than arousal, more than stupid teenage hormones. It was the feeling of pack. Now that Stiles had finally felt it, he knew he could never go back.
Derek whimpered, leaning into Stiles as they simultaneously pulled each other closer. He buried his face in Stiles’ neck, inviting Stiles to do the same.
“Is that really your first name?” Derek’s voice rumbled through his chest, and the bond between them was tinged with laughter.
Stiles grinned against his alpha’s neck. “Maybe.”
His phone buzzed in his pocket, no doubt Scott wondering if there was a quiz on Monday. Derek drew back, frown in its regular place once again. Stiles knew what he was going to say before he said it.
“No, Sourwolf,” he huffed, “I don’t have any ulterior motives for once. I wanted to be a part of your pack, actually I thought I was until I talked to Deaton. He’s the one who told me-- well he didn’t really tell me, he really just alluded to it-- that you can’t just believe you’re in a pack to actually be in it. There’s a whole ass ritual that I didn’t know about.”
Derek opened his mouth to respond, brow furrowed, but Stiles cut him off again.
“Unlike the wolves, I don’t have hidden instincts to tell me every nuance of werewolf culture.”
That made Derek look away, and Stiles mentally cursed.
“Woah, Sourwolf, stop the sad face. It’s not your fault. For once, it’s all on them. My theory is that they have no idea what their instincts are telling them. Of course, you could have talked to them about it, but I can understand why you’d be scared to.”
“I’m not scared--”
“Yes, you are.” Stiles magically tugged on the bond. “Don’t forget about our new magic lie detector here. I’ll always know now.”
Derek smiled sadly. He brought a hand up to subtly scent Stiles’ neck. “They don’t want to be part of my-- our pack. I’ve come to terms with that. So should you.”
“They don’t know what they’re missing.”
Stiles didn’t stay the night. He couldn’t. His father was expecting him at home soon. Also, his hormones could only stay in check around Derek for so long, after all, he was a teenage boy.
It hurt to be without his alpha for the night. He didn’t think it would hurt this much since he was a human. To reassure himself, he held tight to the pack bond as he slept, the essence of Derek always within his magic’s reach.
Stiles arrived at school feeling lighter than he ever had.
He could tell when the wolves smelled him approach his locker. Their postures changed. They got tenser than before, and Stiles could tell they were suppressing their beta-shifts. He held in a smirk. He would show them how great it was to be in the Hale Pack, how much they were missing out on.
“Stiles?” Scott asked first. He had his puppy-dog eyes out, pout in full effect. “Why do you smell like that?”
Lydia groaned at the loud voice he used. “Discretion, Scott. Learn it.”
“What do I smell like?” He faltered now. He hadn’t planned on what he would say once he was confronted. “Is it a bad smell?”
Isaac sniffed the air discreetly. “No. Just a different smell. Is it new deodorant?”
“Sure,” he grinned. “Let’s go with that.”
They didn’t find out until after school, when Stiles declined hanging out with the wolves to go to Derek’s loft. Lydia and Jackson had left already, so he escaped Lydia’s murderous gaze.
“You’re going to spend the day with Derek?” Erica asked incredulously.
“Why wouldn’t I? He’s my alpha. That’s what pack does.” He walked backwards towards his Jeep, eyes carefully watching the wolves’ reactions. Well, the wolves and Allison. They mostly looked confused.
“But,” Scott scrunched up his nose, “it’s Derek. And we’re your pack too! Why don’t you hang out with us?”
“Because you’re not.” He didn’t say it rudely, just made it a statement. “You’re not my pack, and deep down you know it. Your wolves know it. They’ve chosen not to be pack with or without your input. I hope it’s without, because if I find out you chose being omegas over being in the Hale Pack, I won’t be responsible for my actions.”
Okay, so maybe he lost his temper a little. Sue him. He was high on the pack bond, and for once he didn’t care.
He left before they could respond.
The next day, school was close to torture. And Stiles knew torture, he had been through it firsthand. The wolves avoided him when they could. Allison gave him a smile as she passed him in the hall, but that was the extent of the interaction Stiles received until lunch.
“What the hell is going on?” Lydia greeted him as he sat down. The wolves avoided eye contact, though Jackson just looked amused. Stiles noted that Boyd wasn’t there.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She raised an eyebrow, something she must have learned from Derek because it seemed effortless. “You know damn well what I’m talking about. Why has the pack been avoiding you all day?”
“That’s simple, really. They--” Stiles froze. He cocked his head.
Something snapped into place in his chest. He got a rush of adrenaline. Subconsciously, he registered Lydia glaring at him impatiently, but it didn’t matter. A new pack bond had formed. He knew who it was.
“I have to go,” he quickly stood, shrugging his backpack onto his shoulder. “Urgent pack business.”
“We are pack, Stiles. Any urgent business concerns all--”
“No, you’re not.” He started to walk away. “Don’t worry, the wolves will explain everything. I have a new packmate to greet.”
He sprinted through the halls, narrowly avoiding a crash into a water fountain. He almost threw himself into his Jeep. The drive to Derek’s loft was insufferably long, the new pack bond tugging painfully in his chest.
By the time he threw himself into the loft, the ache in his chest almost brought him to tears.
“Stiles, over here,” Derek called from the couch. He added a little bit of alpha to his voice, “Now.”
Stiles staggered into Boyd’s open arms, the ache instantly soothed. He rubbed his face into the beta’s neck and took a deep breath in, feeling Boyd do the same.
“Thank god you came to your senses,” he mumbled into Boyd’s skin.
“I’m sorry, Stiles. I didn’t know what my wolf was telling me. If I did, I would have done this ages ago, I hope you know that.” He sighed. “I fought it at first. After being human my whole life, the urge to bare my throat and recite a pledge of submission seemed unnatural, so I pushed it away.”
They pulled away from each other, Boyd’s hand coming up to scent mark Stiles’ neck.
“I think that’s the most I’ve heard you say, like, ever,” Stiles chuckled. He collapsed on the couch next to him, his body suddenly tired. “Puppy pile time?”
“Puppy pile?” Boyd asked, the beginnings of a smirk pulling at his mouth.
Stiles gasped. “How can you not know what that is? I thought you wolves did it all the time when I wasn’t around. Time to educate you, my strong, silent friend.”
Three hours later found them huddled together on Derek’s bed, their pack bonds thrumming with content. Stiles fell asleep almost immediately. Boyd laid over him, his face in Stiles’ neck, mostly asleep. Derek laid on Stiles’ other side. He took in the smell of pack and smiled, his hand brushing Stiles’ hair back. He stayed alert. He didn’t want to lose his pack again. He wouldn’t let that happen.
Derek’s hearing sharpened as someone entered the building. He smelled the air, growl waiting in his throat. Lydia and Jackson. This recently after a new beta had joined, Derek’s instincts were strong. He didn’t like the idea of trespassers in his den.
The growl woke Boyd, who rubbed at his eyes and shook himself to attention. He flashed his eyes at his alpha in recognition.
“Stay with Stiles,” Derek ordered, an alpha command in his voice. “No matter what happens, do not let him out of your sight.”
Boyd whined low in his throat but nodded. He wrapped his arms around Stiles and moved to face the door as Derek approached it. His eyes stayed gold. As his alpha opened the door, Boyd caught sight of the trespassers on his territory. He growled, not bothering to keep the noise down. They were not supposed to be there.
Stiles grunted beneath Boyd. He pushed the beta off him slightly, looking around to orient himself.
“Derek? What’s going on?”
Boyd pulled him closer, eyes still on Lydia and Jackson. His growl got louder. Stiles seemed to realize what was happening. He flailed against Boyd’s grip, but he couldn’t move away.
“Derek, breathe,” he called, projecting his voice. “They aren’t a threat. They didn’t even know they weren’t part of the pack until lunch today. You don’t need to protect us from them.”
Boyd placed a hand over Stiles’ mouth, silencing him. He ignored the muffled protests.
“Lydia, Jackson,” Derek growled, “What are you doing here?”
Jackson bared his teeth, shoulders tense because of the anger radiating from the alpha in front of him. He placed himself in front of his mate. His eyes flashed blue.
“Jackson,” Lydia cut in, voice sharp, “Stop it. You’re making the situation worse. Put the claws away, and we can talk this out like normal people.”
Lydia’s eyes roamed to where Boyd laid over Stiles, posture a clear threat. She raised an eyebrow. “So that’s why you’re all uptight. We interrupted the aftereffects of Boyd’s induction into the pack.”
Derek’s eyes flashed red.
Lydia placed a hand on Jackson’s shoulder, smoothing her thumb over his tense muscles. She stepped into the loft, making sure to place herself between the wolves. She met Derek’s eyes and straightened.
“Alpha Hale,” she enunciated clearly and with intent. “I, Banshee Lydia Martin, formally submit to you. I give my throat to you. I ask to become part of your pack and be your loyal beta. I will risk my life for your pups, and do everything I can to keep the pack safe. Though I am not a wolf, I will act as a valuable beta if given the chance.”
Stiles froze underneath Boyd. He watched Derek for any hint of emotion but found none.
Derek took a step forward as Lydia made her throat visible, brushing her hair out of the way and averting her eyes. She seemed to know what she was doing. Derek stepped close to her, ignoring the growling ex-Kanima plastered to her back. He bent his head and placed his teeth very carefully against her pale skin.
Stiles lost his breath as the bond snapped into place.
Lydia sagged against Derek, her face buried in his neck, and let out a whimper that even Stiles could hear. Jackson was at a loss on what to do. He wanted to make sure his mate was safe, but he didn’t want to get near the alpha.
“Boyd,” Derek said, face still pressed into Lydia’s hair. “I rescind my earlier command. Can you help your new packmate while I take care of Jackson?”
Boyd sprung into action. In an instant, he was cradling Lydia in his arms and placing her next to Stiles on the bed. He wrapped herself around them both as soon as she could.
“Jesus,” she groaned, “Does it always feel like this?”
Stiles put his palm on the back of her neck. “It fades after a day or two. I’m at the end of my induction so I only feel it when I’m not near Boyd since he’s so new. That’s why I rushed out of school earlier. I literally couldn’t be away from him.”
Derek cleared his throat, calling Jackson’s attention away from the bed. He waited for the wolf to speak. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, but he hoped that by the end of the day he would have four betas instead of three.
“Alpha Hale,” Jackson’s voice cracked. He stumbled over his next words. “I, Werewolf Jackson Whittemore, formally submit to you. I give my throat to you. I ask to become part of your pack and be your loyal beta. I will risk my life for your pups, and do everything I can to keep the pack safe.”
He clenched his jaw and bared his throat.
Derek hesitated. He met Jackson’s eyes. “Do you actually want this?”
Jackson’s features dropped. His eyes softened. He whispered, “Yes. I really do.”
Derek’s eyes turned red, making Jackson’s turn blue on instinct. He bit down on Jackson’s throat, hard enough to break the skin but not hurt him too badly. It would scar, but his werewolf spark would only allow other supernatural creatures to see it, saving him the embarrassment of having a bite mark on his neck in plain sight of humans.
Jackson let out a noise close to a sob. He collapsed into Derek’s embrace, nose in the crook of his neck.
“Thank you,” he choked out. “Thank you.”
“I’ve got you,” Derek murmured into his skin. He hefted the beta into his arms and carried him to the bed.
“We’re gonna need a bigger bed,” Stiles muttered, scooting over to make room for his new packmate. “This one’s getting a bit too small.”
Lydia tried to smack him on the chest but ended up grabbing his shirt instead. She hummed, content.
Body cleared his throat. The others felt his bond go dim, and they reacted with whines and wandering hands to scent mark him. “Does it make me selfish to wish Erica and Isaac were here? They were my original pack. Erica’s my mate.”
Derek pulled Boyd away from Lydia as he whined. Their emotions were raw after so many bonds being created in such a short time, and Derek knew he had to dispel his beta’s doubts.
“It’ll be fine,” he said. His chest vibrated with a calming rumble. Stiles thought it sounded like a purr. “Either they’ll change their minds or they won’t. I don’t want to get in the way of you and your mate, don’t worry about that. If they decide to join the pack, we will welcome them. If they don’t, nothing bad will happen. They’ll stay in the territory as long as they want to, and despite not being in a pack, my presence will keep them from being omegas. Everything will be fine.”
Stiles relaxed at that. He had been worried about Scott, about his brother. He didn’t want hunters to go after him for his status as an omega, no matter how he had acted on Monday after school.
By the end of the day, all the betas had gotten permission from their parents to stay over for the night. Derek ordered pizza for his pack. Lydia selected the movie The Notebook and glared any protestors into submission. Stiles watched it unfold with a soft smile.
As they settled down for the night, Stiles made sure to claim the spot on Derek’s left. Their bond pulled tight between them. Stiles ignored the warmth in his chest that told him to close the distance between them.
He shut his eyes and asked his magic to protect his pack. His chest buzzed in response. He fell asleep with a smile on his face, his alpha on his right and Jackson on his left.
Scott approached Stiles at his locker the next morning. They looked at each other for a minute, neither one moving to say something until Scott met his eyes.
“Are you happy?”
The question took Stiles by surprise. He had thought they were going to argue about the pack or just move on like nothing happened.
“Yes, I am. Derek’s a good alpha, Scott. He had a rough patch at the beginning because his last living relative had just died and the people who killed his whole family were back in town. I don’t think you can blame him for that.” He softened his voice. “He’s better now. We’re all better, and I think, if you want, you’d fit in in the pack too.”
Scott scuffed his shoe against the floor, looking down. “I don’t want to be an omega like you said we were, but I don’t think Derek’s pack would be right for me.”
He met Stiles’ eyes again, his brow furrowed. He looked like a kicked puppy.
“You’re not an omega,” Stiles grimaced. “Derek told us yesterday that as long as you stay in his territory and associate with the pack, you’re not technically omegas. Sorry I told you that without checking first. I was kinda mad. And high on the newly formed pack bond.”
“Is that why Jackson, Lydia, and Boyd are bouncing around like they’re on drugs?” His eyes went wide in recognition, and Stiles wanted to laugh. He had missed his brother.
“Yeah. It’s the pack bond reaffirming their place in the pack.”
Scott tilted his head to the side. “What’s your place in the pack?”
Stiles’ face flushed. “Um, well, it’s complicated. We haven’t really talked about the hierarchy yet. By hierarchy I don’t mean that stuff in romance novels, there’s no place in that pack that everybody hates or anything. They got that wrong. I mostly mean that we haven’t discussed who will feed us or who will take care of the pups when there are some.”
Scott nodded. His eyes glazed over slightly, and he frowned. “Pups. I hadn’t thought about that.”
Stiles clapped Scott on the shoulder and directed him to their first class of the day.
The Hale Pack gravitated towards each other during the school day. Jackson chose to sit next to Stiles in Economics, which gathered the attention of the gossips of the school. Lydia leaned against him in the halls and talked about her next shopping trip. Boyd and Jackson hung out in gym class. Lydia and Boyd had a conversation about chemistry as they ignored their idiot math teacher.
Boyd and Stiles walked to lunch together, shoulders brushing. Their table was full, but nobody ignored Stiles like the day before. He breathed a sigh of relief and leaned into Boyd’s side. Boyd swiped his palm over Stiles’ neck.
As the final bell rang, Stiles felt one of his pack bonds tighten. Derek’s. But it wasn’t harsh. It was more of a reminder of something Stiles had forgotten. He followed the crowd of students to the parking lot and felt himself grin.
Derek was leaning against his Camaro at the other side of the parking lot. Stiles broke into a sprint and threw himself at his alpha. He ignored the other students’ whispers and held tight. He felt his packmates come closer over the bond. Derek pulled them all into hugs, even Jackson, who grumbled under his breath about his reputation but relaxed all the same.
Lydia leaned against Stiles as their pack members greeted their alpha. She rested her head on his shoulder.
Stiles saw Derek tense and scanned the crowd. He relaxed as he saw Erica and Issac walking towards them instead of a monster or a cop like he had assumed. That would have been fun to explain to his dad.
“Derek,” Erica said, slightly hunched. “Can we talk?”
Derek glanced at his pack but didn’t see any negative reactions. He turned back to the two wolves. “Of course. Do you want to meet at the loft?”
Isaac nodded as Erica verbally agreed. Stiles saw Boyd inch towards his mate, his back tense. Derek seemed to notice as well, because he nodded. Boyd moved to Erica’s side.
Stiles drove Lydia to the loft in his Jeep, Jackson with Derek in the Camaro.
They gathered in the living room. Stiles claimed the big couch for the pack, corralling Jackson and Lydia onto it and settling down next to them. He gestured for Derek to do the same.
Derek raised an eyebrow. “I’m not cuddling with you.”
Jackson snorted. “You didn’t seem bothered by it last night.”
Lydia smacked the back of his head.
“I meant,” Derek huffed, barely restraining himself from rolling his eyes, “I will not show weakness in front of foreign wolves.”
It was Stiles’ turn to snort. “They’re not foreign wolves. They’re Erica and Isaac.”
“You know what I mean,” Derek did roll his eyes then.
Erica and Isaac arrived a little later, Boyd in tow. They hovered awkwardly by the door before Boyd grabbed Erica’s hand and directed them to the other couch. After making sure they were settled, Boyd sat next to Stiles.
Isaac cleared his throat. He looked at his feet. “I-- we don’t really know how to do this. Before we were turned, we didn’t have anybody, and it feels horrible to put your trust in somebody after that. That’s why I didn’t submit when my wolf wanted me to. I couldn’t go through that again.” He looked up to meet Derek’s eyes. “I know you’re not like my father, but I couldn’t risk it at the time. I thought I was in your pack even without fully submitting. When-- when Stiles told us we weren’t, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if you would want me.”
Derek looked wrecked. Stiles resisted the urge to go over and hug him. Instead, he pushed as much comfort across the bond as he could.
Erica went next.
“I didn’t want you to be my alpha,” she admitted. Jackson growled until Lydia stopped him with a hand on his knee. Erica grimaced. “I mean, I didn’t want to make myself that vulnerable in front of a person I barely knew. But I know you now. When Stiles told us we weren’t part of the pack, like Isaac said, I didn’t think you would want me. I thought that you hadn’t told us that we weren’t pack because you didn’t want us to be. But I do. Want to be a part of the pack, that is. If you’ll have me.”
Derek considered them both. Erica pulled at the edge of her skirt nervously. Isaac averted his gaze and bit his lip. Stiles huffed.
“Of course we want you in the pack,” Stiles said a little too loudly. The wolves winced. “Sorry, but of course we want you, you idiots. More than that, Derek’s always wanted you in his pack. He’s just too full of self-pity and grief to say anything about it.”
Derek glared at him half-heartedly. “Stiles, shut up.”
“What? It’s true.”
Derek moved towards the couch occupied by the two wolves. They shot to their feet automatically. Stiles thought they looked slightly scared and was close to intervening, but Lydia stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
Derek focused first on Isaac, the most emotionally volatile, and waited for him to start.
Isaac took a shaky breath. “Alpha Hale, I, Werewolf Isaac Lahey, formally submit to you. I give my throat to you. I ask to become part of your pack and be your loyal beta. I will risk my life for your pups, and do everything I can to keep the pack safe.”
He tipped his head to the side and bared his throat. He forcefully shut his eyes as Derek placed his teeth on his neck, doing the same thing Stiles saw him do to Jackson. As the bit mark slowly healed, Isaac felt tears stream down his face. The bond formed, filling him with a rush of emotions.
Surprisingly, it was Jackson who moved first. He let Isaac bury his face in Derek’s neck before moving him to the couch with the rest of the pack. Each of them scented their new packmate. Stiles made sure to push his palm against Isaac’s neck and hold it there.
“Alpha Hale,” Erica said, back to her normal, confident self, all self-doubt gone from her posture. “I, Werewolf Erica Reyes, formally submit to you. I give my throat to you. I ask to become part of your pack and be your loyal beta. I will risk my life for your pups, and do everything I can to keep the pack safe.”
Stiles focused on the new bond that formed as Derek bit Erica’s neck. It was tinged with relief.
Lydia moved first this time, waiting for her alpha and his new beta to finish scent marking each other. She grabbed Erica by the waist and pulled her to Derek’s bed. She shouted at the boys to bring Isaac as Erica wrapped herself around Lydia with a whimper.
“Well,” Stiles said, trapped between Derek and Isaac on the bed, “That was an eventful Wednesday.”
Jackson groaned. He buried his nose in Erica’s hair. “Shut up, Stilinski.”
Allison was getting tired of the pack politics. She understood why Scott didn’t join the Hale Pack, but at the same time, she didn’t. If it was just the fact that he didn’t want Derek as an alpha, she would understand. But it wasn’t that. He had told Allison once that he didn’t mind the thought of Derek as his alpha.
So why hadn’t he joined?
She asked him as they laid on the couch in his living room, a romantic comedy on the television in front of them. He froze and wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“Scott,” she said, “you don’t have to tell me why, but maybe you should tell Stiles. He should know that you don’t think Derek’s a bad alpha.”
Scott didn’t respond. He sank further into the cushions. Allison sighed and resigned herself to not knowing.
“I don’t have a problem with Derek,” he said at last, but he didn’t look happy with it. “He has a problem with me. He’s made that clear plenty of times.”
Allison made a questioning noise. “What do you mean?”
He clenched his jaw. “He doesn’t want you in the pack, so he won’t get me.”
She turned to Scott with wide eyes. “You haven’t joined the Hale Pack because of me?”
“No!” Scott looked scandalized. “No, of course not. But Derek has said himself that he doesn’t trust your family after… after Kate. And that means he doesn’t trust you. I can’t have an alpha that doesn’t trust my girlfriend.”
Allison softened. “As adorable as that is, Derek doesn’t have a problem with me, Scott.”
He scrunched up his face. “But--”
“Honey,” she smiled, “Derek and I don’t have any problems. I thought you knew that, or I would have told you before now.”
Allison stood up, cutting off Scott once again. She shuffled around the living room and shrugged her jacket on. “Come on, we’re going to the loft.”
“But it’s Friday,” Scott whined. “We were supposed to have date night tonight.”
She pulled him to his feet and dragged him out of the house.
As Scott drove them to the loft, pouting the whole way, Allison texted Stiles to warn him they were coming. It wasn’t a great idea to show up on a new pack’s territory without warning.
She walked into the loft first after Erica opened the door. She scanned the open space for Derek. When she found him, she didn’t wait for Scott to enter before she marched up to him, making eye contact the whole time.
The wolves in the room tensed. From their perspectives, Allison was challenging an alpha werewolf.
She let her face show the hesitancy she was feeling and huffed, “I don’t know if I remember this right, but here we go. Alpha Hale, I, Hunter Allison Argent of the Argent Clan, formally submit to you. I give my throat to you. I ask to become part of your pack and be your loyal beta. I will risk my life for your pups, and do everything I can to keep the pack safe. Though I am not a wolf, I would act as a valuable beta if given the chance.”
Allison bared her throat and averted her gaze.
Scott started to growl from behind her, but someone shushed him.
Derek moved closer to her, face blank. He watched her closely. After half a minute of tense silence, he ducked his head close to her neck. She held her breath and prayed that Derek wouldn’t rip her throat out. Her heart must have been going crazy. Derek placed his teeth on Allison’s neck gently, more gently than he did for Stiles and Lydia, so his sharpened fangs were just barely resting on her skin.
She gasped as the bond rushed through her. She fell limp into Derek’s arms with a whine, digging her nose into his neck. He did the same without hesitation. In the back of her mind, she registered Scott snarling. She pulled away from her alpha with great difficulty and turned to her boyfriend-- no, her mate. She wasn’t a wolf, but the term felt right.
Scott looked at her with wide, yellow eyes, his teeth elongated into fangs. He didn’t approach her, but he looked like he really wanted to. “What happened? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Scott,” she said. But the truth was, her breathing got short and her heart started to pound.
Boyd stepped up to her, ignoring Scott’s noises of protest. He pulled her into his chest and ran a hand over her hair, smoothing it back from her face. Slowly, the rest of the pack gathered around them, weary of her mate’s posturing but filled with the need to touch their packmate.
She sighed in relief.
“Scott,” Derek said softly, as though trying not to startle him, “You don’t have to join if you don’t want to. We will never force you to join our pack.”
Allsion looked between Lydia and Isaac to watch Scott step up to Derek. She held her breath again.
“Alpha Hale,” he lowered his head and bared his neck, “I, Werewolf Scott McCall, formally submit to you. I give my throat to you. I ask to become part of your pack and be your loyal beta. I will risk my life for your pups, and do everything I can to keep the pack safe.”
Derek moved slowly, giving Scott time to back out, but he didn’t. His heart stuttered as Derek bit down, drawing blood as he sealed their pack bonds.
Scott cried out as the bond snapped into place. A tear ran down his face. Derek pulled him into a tight hug, nose digging into his neck.
“I’ve got you,” he muttered into his skin. “We’ve got you. You’re okay now. You’re okay.”
“I’m sorry,” Scott said. “I didn’t trust you. I thought you hated Allison, and I didn’t trust you. I’m so sorry.”
“Hey,” Derek pulled away slightly and gripped the back of Scott’s neck, “Look at me. That doesn’t matter. I don’t care about that, not anymore. All that matters is that you’re pack now.”
Allison couldn’t take it anymore. Apparently neither could the rest of the pack, as they all converged on their alpha and their new packmate. Stiles pushed the wolves out of the way so Allison could reach her mate. She gave him a smile in thanks before she attached herself to Scott’s back, resting her cheek against Derek’s hand on the back of Scott’s neck.
Stiles wiggled his way between Jackson and Erica to press against Derek’s back.
“I’m proud of you,” he whispered, knowing full well that the pack could hear him but not caring at all. “You’re a good alpha.”
Derek rumbled, a subvocal purr that Stiles loved.
Stiles’ heart skipped a beat in his chest as he realized that, oh, he loved Derek. He had loved him for a while. In the beginning he had blamed it on hormones and his teenage brain, but that wasn’t the whole truth. He loved his alpha in a more than platonic way. Uh oh.
As the night came to a close, and the pack pulled all the blankets in the loft to the floor to make a puppy pile-- “It’s not a puppy pile, Stiles”-- Stiles pulled Derek upstairs. He went to one of the spare rooms and led Derek into it.
“Stiles?” Derek asked, confused. Stiles found it unfairly adorable, and it didn’t help what he was about to do.
“We need to talk.”
Derek stepped forward, eyebrows furrowed and eyes concerned. Stiles stepped back. “What’s wrong?”
“I think I need to tell you something.”
“Okay,” Derek dragged out the word. “And what would that be?”
“I like you,” he rushed out, avoiding eye contact, “In more than an alpha-beta way. I think I’ve liked you for a while now, but I didn’t realize it. And yes, I get that I’m just a teenager and this seems pretty sudden to you, but it’s not sudden for me. I’m sorry I like you, I know you don’t feel the same, but I couldn’t just let you think that my intentions were entirely platonic, when they’re not. I don’t think they ever were platonic. You can stop me at any--”
Derek pulled him in for a soft kiss, just a small brush of lips. Stiles was pretty sure his heart stopped.
“I like you too, Stiles,” Derek breathed against Stiles’ lips, their foreheads pressed together.
Derek grinned, full on grinned with teeth showing and everything. Stiles was sad the rest of the pack missed it, but that faded pretty quickly as Derek gripped his hips. “Yeah.”
“ Oh .” Stiles’ eyes widened and he blushed.
“ Yeah .” Derek kissed the smile off his face.