The boys were spending this particular summer morning in the preserve. Running, chasing, playing. Practicing. Getting better, stronger.
Only today was different.
Something was different.
Something was off.
Smelled ... not human or fauna.
Boyd was the first to stop. Jackson and Isaac a moment after.
No one moved until Jackson rolled his eyes and then went toward the new scent.
Isaac and Boyd shared a panicked look before following.
Lydia (and maybe Stiles, too, depending on how bad it went) would decimate them if something happened to her boyfriend. And being in a pack with her for a year now meant they knew how smart she really was. (Harris would be proud. But sane people feared the way she easily knew how to make a Molotov cocktail. They definitely should have tried to stop Erica from having a girls’ night with Lydia.)
Isaac bumped into a stalled Jackson. “Huh? What’s-”
“Shut up,” Jackson muttered so quietly that Isaac, as close as he was and with supernatural hearing, nearly didn’t hear.
And then Isaac looked up.
The entire air surrounding the threesome spiked with panic. Ten yards away was a black wolf. Which was strange enough since there were no wolves in California (thanks, Stiles). But a wolf was just another animal. And this was not just another animal. Not with those eyes. Bright, unnatural blues, like Jackson’s when shifted. Expect against pitch black fur. This was unnatural, even for the supernatural - maybe? They honestly had no clue.
Jackson took a step forward but immediately stopped. The growl sent a shiver through his skin.
“We should go,” Boyd whispered.
After a beat, Jackson agreed, “Yeah.” And then turned away.
“Come over - now.”
Stiles rubbed his eyes. “Do you pay attention to the time before calling?”
“I’ve been up for two hours. Now get your ass here now.”
Stiles dropped his phone as Scott whacked him with a pillow.
“What did your BFF want?”
“Shut up,” Stiles mumbled, signed, and then rolled over, over the edge of the bed, but actually did manage to get on his feet with minimal damage - just a loud crack from his knees.
“Time’s it?” Scott watched in amusement.
“Crap,” Scott said and got up like a normal person. “I gotta be at the clinic by nine.”
“Good thing we’re already dressed. You grab the Pop-Tarts and I’ll get my keys,” Stiles said before heading to the bathroom. Jackson would have to deal with the scent of yesterday’s clothes and night of video games and junk.
The moment Scott shut the Jeep door, Stiles pressed a couple of buttons on his phone. “‘Here’ is yours or Lydia’s?”
Stiles wasn’t stupid. He did a lot of dumb things, but he wasn’t stupid . Sure, most people, upon hearing there was a massive black wolf in the woods, would be like, avoid! And here Stiles was, walking into the Beacon Hills Preserve like there wasn’t anything to be wary of. But! He at least came with protection. No, not with his ‘wolves. Don’t be stupid. He made sure they stayed away until Stiles checked it out. They were at Lydia’s. She had a pool. The wolves didn’t have to worry about sunburn, and sunburn was worse (probably, not really, but kinda) than a stray wolf in the woods. So, again, Stiles wasn’t stupid; just reckless and protective (and dumb).
So here he was, walking deep into the preserve, following Boyd’s directions to the location of the black wolf, carrying a Rowan wood bat and a bag of pixie dust (mountain ash, whatever, Deaton). Again, not stupid.
A growl stopped him in his tracks. Everything was silent. No birds, no squirrels or rabbits.
Stiles swallowed and listened for another sign of the wolf. Who had to know he was there. Probably could smell the pack on him. (The ash, too.)
After a full minute of silence, Stiles continued to follow Boyd’s direction. The wolf probably thought he’d scare Stiles away. Jokes on them; apparently nothing scares Stiles away from danger, according to the sheriff (aka his dad).
Another growl - louder, closer - this time. Stiles didn’t stop. He was on a mission. Who was this wolf in his territory?
All of Stiles’s focus was on Boyd’s instructions - following the instructions. He only realized he found the spot when he was staring into the eyes of a ginormous, blue-eyed wolf standing on all fours. (Damn that hyperfocus for blocking the sound and sight. Why did ADHD have no middle ground?!)
“Hey, dude. This is private property.”
“Cool, cool. Uh huh. How about human language?”
Okay, well, that wasn’t working. But on the plus side, Stiles was pretty positive this was a werewolf, based on the conversation cues.
“You okay?” Erica said, running over and hugging him, getting his clothes wet.
“Erica,” Boyd said.
She let Stiles go and took a step back.
All eyes were on Stiles. He wondered what he smelled like to the others. He felt exhausted and thirsty and hungry. “I’m fine.”
“You look like shit,” Jackson commented in concern.
Stiles flopped down on one of the pool lounges. He scraped his left hand against the cement as the lounge tipped over, but he caught and righted himself and it and settled down.
No one paid the action any attention (anymore).
Isaac entered the backyard from the house with a sandwich and drink and set it on the table beside Stiles. Everyone was now waiting for Stiles to share what happened.
Being the little shit that he was - sorry, being thirsty and hungry - he took a large bite and chewed. (And choked a little.) After swallowing and taking a gulp, he cleared his throat.
“So, yeah, there’s another werewolf in Beacon Hills.”
“No shit,” Jackson deadpanned.
Stiles rolled his eyes.
“What’d he say?” Isaac asked, curiously.
“Yeah...about that. I’m good at taking control of a conversation, but even I have my limits. Dude was shifted the entire time. And seemed kinda...rabid?”
“Feral,” Lydia corrected.
Stiles shrugged. “Yeah, he didn’t show any sign of-”
“How do you know it’s a ‘he’?” Erica questioned.
“The wolf dick. Dude was growling on all fours,” Stiles deadpanned.
The next day, Stiles returned to the preserve. And again the day after.
The ‘wolves didn’t like it, so on day three, Stiles told them they could go on a run, but to keep their distance.
The pattern continued. Stiles went into the preserve and found the lone wolf. They kept their distance but Stiles wasn’t anywhere closer to getting the man (or just male in this case) to shift back.
A month into the routine, Stiles showed up with two packets of Pop-Tarts. After getting close enough, he sat down, pulled a packet from his bag, and tore it open.
The wolf lifted his head, watching.
Stiles shoved a block into his mouth and held the second out to the wolf.
The wolf sniffed, scrunched up his nose, gave Stiles a look of disgust (definitely human), and promptly settled his head down.
Stiles shrugged (causing himself to choke) and pulled out a book. After half an hour, he left, but promised (threatened) to be back the next afternoon.
As promised, and per usual, Stiles returned.
A week after his offering, Stiles plopped down, rambling about the all-nighter with his best friend (the human; not packmate).
Ten minutes in, the wolf was right in front of Stiles, something dangling his mouth. Blood. Blood dripping.
Jackson was always promising to maul Stiles to shut him up. This dude was going to actually do it!
Instead, Derek dropped what was in his mouth.
Stiles startled with a yelp, looking down. “Oh my god! What the hell is that?!”
The wolf prodded it with this snoot.
“Is that a dead bunny rabbit? Oh my god! Why?”
Derek just repeated the action.
Stiles suddenly remembered what happened a week ago. “Are you sharing your food?” He blanched. “Oh, gross.”
The wolf took a step back, looking hurt.
“Oh, no! Sorry! No, wait!” Stiles shouted as the wolf started to leave.
“Thank you,” Stiles said. “I just don’t eat raw meat, Buddy. But I do appreciate the offer. I know what it means.” His demeanor shifted. He smirked. “You just provided for me. You like me.”
“No take backs.”
Stiles continued to show up daily. The others were curious, but Stiles wasn’t sure yet about having all the wolves in one place.
A few days later, Stiles pulled out a book and started reading out loud.
The wolf gave him a questioning look. (How a wolf could show that emotion, Stiles wasn’t sure, but it was there.)
“This one’s summer reading. And I don’t know if you noticed, but I have ADHD.”
Stiles swore the wolf rolled his eyes and gave him a ‘no duh’ snort.
“Anyway,” he sing-songed. “Reading out loud helps me keep focus, especially when I’m not interested. And I haven’t gotten past the first chapter twice now. So if I have to suffer, so do you.”
On the third day of book club, Derek came over and laid next to him.
On the fifth day, Derek rested his head on Stiles’s thigh.
That became their pattern. Reading, chin up, hand through the fur.
After a week and half, Stiles finished the book. At that point, he decided to broach an important topic: pack.
“Hey, Wolfie. So, you kinda met most of my pack that one day. Maybe you wanna try again?”
Everyone was excited for this day.
Stiles made Jackson drive to In-N-Out to load up a bunch of burgers.
When they arrived at the wolf’s spot in the preserve, Stiles motioned for them to pause while he went to his usual spot on the ground.
“Hey, Buddy. I brought friends. Maybe you all could get along and join our pack, yeah?”
It took some time, but day after day, the ‘wolves (and sometimes Lydia, but not all the time) settled on a routine. They ran together. It seemed like the wolf knew the area well and showed them the territory lines.
Stiles conducted training and they all learned to read the wolf’s communication style.
Stiles had no idea why the wolf stayed shifted, but he could see some more human characteristics as the summer progressed. And the pack bonds settled.
It was Lydia (of course it was) who suggested a camp out a week before school started.
Jackson brought a portable grill. They packed too many (but still, maybe, not enough) hamburgers and hotdogs. Everyone brought blankets and blankets and blankets. No tent. It was a full moon and they were going to enjoy the stars. Stiles had his red lacrosse hoodie and Lydia had Jackson’s.
The pack sat around, eating, talking, laughing the evening away. And when moonrise came, the ‘wolves went on a run, a hunt.
Stiles and Lydia stayed behind and got a fire going. Stiles really hoped they didn’t return with bunny rabbits.
It was not a bunny rabbit.
It was a deer. And all the werewolves looked so proud that Stiles just smiled and said they could do as they liked over the campfire, but he wasn’t touching it.
As the pack gathered around the fire, Stiles noticed the wolf wasn’t with them. He looked around, finally spotting the black wolf a few yards away, staring at the fire. His blue eyes entranced by the flames. Stiles could almost swear that fear and trauma clouded the wolf’s gaze.
“Hey, Wolfie. Come on over. Claim your prize. I know you musta done all the heavy work with the deer.”
Derek’s gaze shifted, looking at Stiles.
Stiles smiled and extended his arm out. The wolf moved closer and let Stiles run his hand through the fur. He looked calmer.
“I brought marshmallows,” he whispered. “I know that’s why you agreed to tonight.” He winked and slowly walked them both to the others.
The night continued with more laughter and talking. Marshmallows turning to s’mores. Marshmallow food fights. And Stiles cooking some over the fire and feeding them to the wolf.
At some point, even the ‘wolves tired out. They all spread the blankets and got comfortable. Jackson and Lydia cuddled together. Boyd, Erica, and Isaac together, though Boyd and Erica just a little closer. And then Stiles a few feet away from Jackson with the wolf (his wolf) behind him, protecting him from the woods.
He should have been more concerned with an actual wolf at his back, but after the bonding over the last few weeks, Stiles just felt safe.
Sometime in the morning, Stiles started to come to consciousness. He opened an eye to see the rest of the pack asleep, closer together.
An arm tightened around him.
Stiles let out a small, pleasurable moan and hugged the arm closer, causing the body behind him to move closer.
If he was more awake, he would have realized he was wrapped tight by a human body. But as it was too early, he didn’t.
But that’s a story for another day.