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A big shadow falls across Stiles and Scott, coupled with the all-permeating and impossible to ignore stench of a teenaged alpha looming, and Stiles frowns. The knee jerk response inside of his head tells him to be deferent, to be smaller – to at least be nice and meek.

Instead, Stiles straightens up and squares his shoulders. He pointedly stares down at his new class schedule, ignoring the alpha and acting like he doesn’t even notice them at all. All the same, he has the nerve to speak to Stiles. He says, “what’s your name?”

Stiles doesn’t answer. He turns his body away, stares at his schedule, and ignores them. It’s fruitless to hope that the alpha will take the hint, so he doesn’t bother – it’s no surprise when he changes trajectories, huffing an exasperated laugh before he says, “McCall.” And Scott jerks.

Scott is just a beta. He has no choice but to straighten up and look this alpha in the face, to give him his undivided attention.

“What’s your good looking friend’s name?”

Scott, as close to against his will as it could get without actually being forced, frantically glances at Stiles as if in apology. He clears his throat and opens his mouth, but Stiles sighs through his nose and cuts him off, looking up from his paper to finally take in an eyeful of this boy who’s dared to speak to him.

Tall. Tan. Dark hair. Light eyes. Strong jaw. He is sexy in the obvious alpha way, with his uniform tie undone carelessly, his smirk, his intense eyes boring right into Stiles’ face. When they meet eyes, he smiles wider, moving incrementally closer to Stiles’ body as though he can’t help himself, and Stiles grits his teeth.

Sexy as he may be, Stiles is not a little bitch. He says, “not that it’s any of your god damn business, but my name is Stiles. Do you need something?”

The alpha grins. All teeth, shiny white, straight as an arrow. He’s got this sculpted perfection to him that Stiles is sure has worked on all the omegas he’s ever encountered before, but Stiles stands his ground and narrows his eyes. “A date.”

Stiles looks him up and down, slowly, from the black shoes on his feet, to his uniform khakis and blazer littered with pins, to his face. He frowns, makes a face, and says, “pass.”

Stiles has turned down many an alpha who has propositioned him before; the responses are usually pretty violently angry or at least moderately annoyed. But this one, even in spite of his alpha fuckhead buddies bursting into hilarity at their friend’s misfortune of being shot down by an omega, grins. He smiles so wide his face should split apart. He thinks it’s funny. Cute, maybe.

“Figured I’d ask,” he shrugs. Then, he looks away, to Scott standing there with his jaw hanging open. “Your friend is sort of mean, huh?”

Scott meeps.

“His friend is uninterested in meathead alphas with dicks for brains, is more accurate,” Stiles bites back.

“You wound me,” he grins some more, clutching his heart in mock pain. “I’ll see you around.”

With that, he goes. He grabs his dumbass alpha friends and he goes down the hall, in a cloud of testosterone and cologne and alpha, like he could not care less that he just got humiliated by an omega in front of half the student body in the middle of the hallway.

Stiles stares at his back as he goes, frowning and scratching at his cheek, and then he looks to Scott, who seems a bit shell shocked. “Do you have any idea who that was?” He demands, crowding Stiles up against the lockers as though to shield him from any other wandering alpha’s gaze.

“An asshole?”

Scott snorts, shakes his head, eyes big. “That was Derek Hale.”

“Is that supposed to mean something?”

“Just that he’s – well – you know.”

Stiles frowns.

“….he’s like royalty. I can’t believe you didn’t want to go out with him.”

“Are you kidding?” Stiles rounds on him, jaw agape, as though he cannot believe he’s hearing this right now. “Guy barely even knows my fucking name and he’s asking me out, like it’s a given I’ll say yes. He’s a pig.”

“They all generally are,” Scott agrees, because it’s hard not to. Alphas are terrible. They have been terrible since the day Stiles woke up on the morning of his fourteenth birthday to discover he was no longer the under-the-radar, passably attractive beta who no one paid a second glance to, but was an omega after all. His parents’ worst fucking nightmare. His own worst fucking nightmare.

He got tall and skinny, developed long eyelashes and pink Cupid’s bow lips, birth marks speckled across pale cheeks, got a breathier voice and a better sense of style, and it was like a starting gun was shot over his head without his consent.

The scent was the nail in the coffin. It has been described to him by many an alpha as sexual napalm perfume. He smells like an alpha’s wet dream, and he’s hot. He knows he is. He owns a fucking mirror.

Over the course of a summer he went from nothing and nobody to the single hottest omega in his school district. It was a big deal. Stiles was flustered and flummoxed by the attention. Alphas following him around. Getting asked out by girls and boys he’d only dare to dream of speaking to before he presented. Being given gifts, candies, flowers, beer even, just anything, anything he wanted, anything he could think of, anything – so long as he’d ultimately put out. For a while it seemed like a dream, like being an omega was what he needed to make his life not shitty, to make him popular and well liked and even loved.

Oh, but it wasn’t. It was a nightmare.

More than one alpha, older and scarier and awful, tried to break into his bedroom, setting off the alarm, scaring Stiles to within an inch of his life. His dad had to install perimeter alarms, a fence surrounding his property with an electric buzz, a new home security system with an Australian robot woman inside who would armor the house like he lived in The Purge. He would be followed sometimes, in the grocery store, or at the mall, or even just at the gas station. Alphas would come up to him and try to touch him, get near him, smell him closer, and he’d have to spray them in the face with mace just to get them away from him.

Stiles learned how to break noses and evade capture. How to get out of a chokehold, how to fight someone off, how to elbow someone just right to get them off of him. All of this, he did as a way to feel like he had some control over his life – but he never did. They kept coming, and it only ever got worse.

Even the alphas who weren’t rapists were just dicks. They’d call him a whore and make hand gestures at him and then beg for a date. They’d shove flowers in his face and then when Stiles would politely decline their advances they’d call him a tease, a useless slut, a fucking idiot. High school is by and large the worst of it, because adolescent alphas are horrible, untamed hormone monsters. The things they say to him are hair-raising, but he just got used to it. He forced himself to not give a shit.

His dad thought switching him out of public school and into private school, where his neighbor Scott goes to school, would be better. Uniforms would help. Smaller class sizes and more teachers would help. Closer supervision would help. That’s why he’s here right now, getting eye fucked by half the student body, standing in this hallway in his own uniform with the collar buttoned tight and the tie practically strangling him so less of his neck is visible.

There are no other omegas in this school, let alone any male omegas, not even on staff. It is just him, and him alone. His parents hadn’t accounted for that when they made the decision to send him here.

At least Scott is here, Stiles reminds himself. He reminds himself that again when they walk into homeroom and everyone stops and stares at him, taking in the full sight – looking him up and down, whispering, talking about him. The betas look at him like he’s more of a nuisance than anything else, an annoyance they’re going to have to deal with for the rest of the school year.

But the alphas all look at him like he’s a toy, or something. A shiny new plaything. After all – female omegas actually serve a purpose, because they can conceive and give birth to alpha children.

Male omegas, however, exist purely for the pleasure and entertainment of alphas. So they say.

The teachers seem to have his best interests at heart. There’s assigned seating in all of his classes, and he’s always surrounded by betas, with the nearest alpha being at least two seats away from him. In spite of that, they stare, their eyes like lasers, and they whisper about him and laugh and lick their lips at him the second he looks in their direction. He ducks his head and grits his teeth. Does his level best to pay attention, to get his bearings around the new campus, to get caught up in his new classes.

Derek Hale is in his English class. He walks in and sees Stiles flanked by betas in the corner of the room, and he smiles, all teeth. But that’s it. No lascivious comments, no glares, no threats to Stiles’ person. He sits down on his side of the room and maybe glances at Stiles more times than is entirely appropriate, but he does nothing. Which is a relief.

Stiles has been on the receiving end of an alpha’s rage several times before. All of these instances were a result of him refusing to date them or fuck them – it surprises Stiles to not get even a lick of vitriol from Derek Hale in the wake of turning him down.

In the lunch room, Stiles meets Scott’s pretty girlfriend that he’s only ever seen in passing coming or going from Scott’s house. She’s nice, shaking Stiles’ hand and actually making an effort to talk to him like he’s a real human person instead of just a sex-vessel that she personally has no interest in.

Stiles is just biting into his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, when a tray abruptly gets smacked down right next to him by a pair of big alpha hands. He looks up, meets Derek Hale’s eyes, and frowns so deep his face should fall off.

“I came to apologize for earlier,” he says as he slowly lowers himself into the chair beside Stiles, maintaining his eye contact the entire time. Stiles chews his food, then looks at Scott and Allison like can you believe this shit? They blink owlishly at the scene in front of them, probably unsure what to do about it, if anything.

“You mean when you jumped on me the second you saw me and tried to get me to go out with you?”

Derek smiles. That same insane smile from before, like everything Stiles says amuses him instead of enrages him even in the least. “Yes. I realize that was – rude.”

“Rude,” Stiles repeats back to him with a snort. Across the table, Scott shifts uncomfortably. He’s seen Stiles go claws-out on alphas more times than he could count on one hand, after all, and it does not usually end well. “All day long I’ve had to sit and listen to these shit-head alphas call me a cockslut and a whore within my range of hearing, and you think I’m concerned about your little crush.”

Derek puts his hands up as if in surrender. His eyes are big in his head, like he’s taken aback, hearing an omega use words like that. “Whoa. Uh, yeah, that’s kind of why I wanted to talk to you. I’ve been hearing the same. I felt – it was just – it was rude.”

So, Derek feels bad having to sit there listening to other alphas treat Stiles like shit. Great. “If you knew it was rude, then why did you do it?”

He gestures to Stiles with his index finger. “Well, you look like that, for starters.”

Scott palms his face. He’s anxious for what’s about to happen here.

Meanwhile, Stiles picks up his soda can and thinks about beating Derek upside the head with it.

“…I sort of couldn’t help it.”

“You think that’s a compliment?”

Derek laughs, again. It’s this ball busted, incredulous laugh, but it’s not humorless. He really finds something about Stiles funny, or endearing. “Look, sweetheart,” Stiles grits his teeth, and starts viciously shaking his soda can as Derek continues to talk, oblivious, “it’s not my fault that other alphas are dicks to you. But I’m not going to –“

Before he can finish, Stiles pulls the pop-cap on his coke directly into Derek’s face. It sprays him, from head to toe, surprising him into leaping up from the table and staggering back, sticky, wet, soda everywhere, while the lunchroom erupts into shock and laughter. Allison is wide eyed and slack jawed, much like a lot of her peers, while Scott is resigned and unsurprised, pressing his chin into his palm as he watches the last of the soda spray out onto Derek’s khakis and blazer.

Stiles stands from the table and throws the empty can aside, looking a wet and frazzled Derek directly into the eyes. “Don’t call me sweetheart,” he snarls. “Or baby. Or honey. Or any other dehumanizing bullshit fucking name you can come up with. My name is Stiles. Or, better yet, don’t refer to me at all.”

Just like the last time Stiles expected Derek to get angry – he once again, does not. He stands there sticky and dripping, and he wipes the soda off his face, out of his eyebrows. Other kids are losing their minds laughing at him, nearly toppling out of their seats, but it’s like he doesn’t care.

He puts his hands up in surrender again, and he says, “fair enough,” slowly back-stepping away from the table with a smirk, “lesson learned.”

When Stiles sits back down at his table, Allison crunches on a carrot and says, “I cannot believe you just did that to Derek Hale.”

Stiles picks his sandwich up even though he’s barely hungry anymore, biting into it vindictively. “Why? Because he’s an alpha?”

She shakes her head. “Uh, no. Because he’s Derek Hale.”

So?

**

“There is something severely wrong with him.”

“Did you hear what he did to Derek Hale yesterday in the lunch room?”

“Uh, yeah. There’s a term for omegas who act like that,” she laughs, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “He’s a crazy fucking bitch.”

“All Derek did was ask him on a date. Christ, it’s not like he groped him.”

Stiles slams his locker closed and looks pointedly in the girls’ direction, to emphasize that he just heard every word they said about him. They blink at him and sort of shift uncomfortably, but offer no apologies. Of course not. They’re alphas. Most of them would sooner rake themselves over the coals before apologizing to an omega for anything at all. Especially one as unfavorably psychotic as Stiles has apparently already garnered a reputation for being.

Stiles breezes past them and starts off toward his History class, that he blessedly shares with Scott. He hugs his textbook against himself and frowns, passing a group of alpha boys that stare at him as he goes.

One of them says, “hey, Stiles,” with a smirk so wide you could skate up and down it. Stiles makes a face at him and keeps walking, as they all burst into laughter behind him and start saying things that Stiles blessedly cannot hear.

He does not want to know.

When he sits down next to Scott, he breathes out and shakes his head. “I should not have sprayed soda on Derek Hale.”

Scott smiles at him. “Oh, you definitely should have. It was hilarious, everyone thinks so.”

He rips open his textbook so hard the page nearly rips. “Or they think I’m a crazy bitch.”

“Well,” Scott hems and haws, and then gestures to Stiles up and down. “…you kinda are.”

“Thanks,” he bites, and Scott quickly back peddles.

“I thought that was your sort of badge of honor. Not being all weak and kittenish.”

It is Stiles’ badge of honor. He’s gone out of his way ever since he presented to keep himself from being seen as some little alpha punching bag they can do whatever they want to. The problem is, when he acts like that and asserts himself, no one thinks he’s just standing up for himself or being tough.

They just think he’s crazy. Like it’s so insane, so absolutely insane, to not want an alpha to treat him that way.

Stiles doesn’t want to keep having this conversation, because, bless his heart, Scott will never get it, and that’s not his fault. It’s hard to imagine being in Stiles’ position, because there are very few people in this town or even in this state who are in Stiles’ position.

“Speaking of badges,” he changes trajectories, “what’s up with all these pins people have in their blazers?”

Scott perks up, turning his body to show his own off to Stiles, neatly lined up on his lapel. “You get them for activities and extra curriculars. I’ve got one for lacrosse,” he touches it, a tiny little pin shaped like a net, “and one for perfect attendance last year,” a little green checkmark pin, “and this one means I’m a senior. You have that one too, see?”

Stiles does indeed have the little purple bar on his jacket. He thought it was an insignia for something else, or nothing at all, truth be told.

“I’m sure you’ll get tons. Didn’t you want to join the newspaper?”

Stiles makes a face, fiddling with his pen just for something to do with his hands. “That was before I realized this school is godless.”

“It’s not godless,” he insists. “Just… it’s new, you know? Having you around. Things will settle, you’ll see.”

Stiles doubts that. The kids he went to his last school with were mostly kids he had known his entire life. Most of them even knew him when he was still a beta, before all that bullshit happened to him with his hormones.

And they still all treated him like garbage. For years, and years.

“Seriously, join newspaper. I know the editor, and she is not an alpha dick, trust me. She is going to like you, as a person. Plus, you’ll get more pins.”

Apparently, pins are something these kids take very seriously. Collecting them may be a sport, especially for popular students whose social lives are more important than their scholastic lives.

Derek Hale has about a dozen of them. Stiles had noticed that. Not that he gives a shit.

At his locker between French and last period, he gets to have another closer look at Derek’s pins, because the guy seriously has the bronze balls to come up and speak to Stiles, even in spite of what happened in the lunch room.

He walks up with his hands in his pockets. Maybe to indicate that he has no plans of touching Stiles. It’s a subtle gesture, but it’s surprisingly thoughtful, for an alpha.

“Hi,” he says, smiling. Stiles glares at him, then goes back to rummaging through his locker. “I came to apologize… again.”

Stiles stays silent.

“I shouldn’t have called you – you know,” he rubs at his hair and seems reluctant to repeat the word itself. Likely out of fear of getting another can of soda in his face. “I’ve never met an omega before, I don’t know the protocol.”

That gives Stiles some pause. He looks at Derek in the face and finds sincerity, muddled up with the usual alpha arrogance. “You’ve never met one?”

“Not officially,” he shrugs. “Especially not one like you.”

“You mean a boy.”

“I mean like you,” he insists, shaking his head. “You’re…” he waits for hot, sexy, cute, any number of physical descriptors that alphas have used in his direction in the past, thinking them compliments, instead of harassment. “…different.”

Stiles turns his body so they’re facing one another, and Derek takes a step back. It’s polite, another gesture Stiles would not have expected from an alpha, least of all one that looks like Derek. “Different,” he repeats, toneless.

“Maybe we should just start over. If that’s okay with you.” He holds his hand out, tan and big and strong, and says, “I’m Derek Hale.”

Stiles stares at it for a moment. He’s had an alpha pretend to go for a handshake, just to grab Stiles’ wrist to pull him in close to get a sniff at Stiles’ neck. For whatever reason, maybe Derek’s open expression and small smile, he knows Derek isn’t going to try and pull a move like that.

He puts his hand in Derek’s tentatively, and they shake.

“You just feel bad because you’ve heard what they’re all saying about me.”

“All?” He furrows his brow. “A select minority of sexist assholes, yes. But not all. Most of us are normal.”

Stiles licks his lips and does not miss the way Derek tracks the movement with his eyes. He likely cannot help it, so Stiles lets that one go. “It does not make it any less horrible.”

Derek frowns. “Uh. Look,” he looks away, out the windows across from them, and then back at Stiles, “I’m an asshole. I shouldn’t have asked you out like that in front of everyone, or – or called you a pet name. I couldn’t stop myself, I don’t know. Now everyone is saying all this shit about you, and I feel like a fucking jackass.”

Stiles closes his locker and hugs his books against his chest, shrugging. “They were going to say shit about me, anyway, so it’s whatever. Apology accepted. Just don’t salivate in my direction too much.”

He moves to walk away, toward his last class, but Derek matches his stride easily, so they’re walking in tandem through the halls and the crowd of their classmates. “I’m not sure I can help that. You are ….”

“I know. I’ve looked in the mirror.”

For whatever reason, alphas cannot stand it when Stiles is self aware about the way that he looks. They usually back track and say he’s ugly or full of himself. But Derek Hale smiles at him, like he likes Stiles’ sour attitude, his confidence, his general state of being.

“You think I’m a pig.”

“Oh, big time.”

“Maybe you’ll let me prove I’m not.”

“All alphas ultimately are pigs, even the ones who seem nice,” he insists, and Derek smirks.

“I’m sorry that alphas have treated you so badly that you feel that way.”

“Uh huh,” Stiles rolls his eyes. “For someone who’s never met an omega before you sure are rehearsed and well versed in trying to charm them.”

“Maybe I’m just charming.”

“Ha.”

“You’re sort of infuriating,” Derek says this very sincerely, cocking his head to the side as they climb the steps to the second floor together, side by side.

“Nobody’s making you talk to me,” they get to the landing and then stop, facing each other, as others teem past them, casting side long glances like they expect one of them to wind up getting pushed down the stairs.

“You misunderstand my tone,” he steps closer, just a little, just enough that Stiles blinks and notices they are close enough to touch. But Derek does not touch. “I meant that as a compliment. You don’t like being told you’re beautiful, maybe you’d prefer being told you’re irritating.”

Stiles can’t help it. He blushes and looks away, shaking his head. It is a reaction that Derek does not miss, not one second of it, and he clearly relishes it, from the smirk he gets on his face. Like he’s winning. “You’re fucking annoying, too.”

“So you’ve made very clear several times, now.” Derek puts his hands in his pockets again and looks Stiles right in the eyes. “If I asked you on a date again would you throw soda in my face?”

“Most definitely.”

“All right. Then I won’t. I’ll just say I did.”

He starts backing away, shrugging his shoulders, leaving Stiles standing there watching him.

“Then I’ll just say that I said no to the date you didn’t ask me on.”

“Whatever you want,” he agrees, before turning on his heel and heading to his own class, vanishing into the crowd. Stiles stands in his spot for a moment or two, feeling silly and strange and like he’s got whiplash, before he collects himself and bee lines it for the door to Chemistry.

**

“He asked you out again?” Scott practically screeches this at Stiles in the passenger seat of Stiles’ Jeep, trying to whip around to face Stiles directly but getting stopped short by the seatbelt.

Stiles nods. Yes. Yes he did.

“And you said…?”

“No,” Stiles shrugs, slowing to the stop sign at the crosswalk between the two sides of the parking lot. “Of course no.”

“Why of course –“

“First of all, he’s an alpha.”

“You know, that’s really more part of the reason you should,” Scott reminds him with a shrug. “Alphas and omegas are drawn to each other for a reason.”

Stiles makes a face. Maybe in books and movies the alpha and omega thing is portrayed as romantic – in reality, it’s rape culture at its absolute worst. “And second of all, my dad would fucking kill him and then me.”

“You’re talking about the rule,” Scott raises his eyebrows and then frowns, gazing across the parking lot as they push forward through the crosswalk now that it’s empty. “How serious is he about that?”

“On a scale of one to ten?” Stiles shrugs. “Try a hundred.”

“But what if you really liked an alpha and he wasn’t that bad –“

“Doesn’t matter. You know how my dad is. Rules are rules.”

Scott frowns even more deeply, as Stiles catches sight of the alpha in question walking up to his car. It’s an expensive one, silver and shiny in the afternoon sun, because of course it is. Not only is Derek an attractive athletic and popular alpha – he’s also wealthy. Go figure.

He looks up as Stiles’ Jeep is bumbling past him, and he smirks and does a two fingered wave. Stiles ignores it in favor of averting his eyes and feeling a blush creep up his cheeks.

Scott notices. He says, “oh, you like him.”

“Ha!” Stiles laughs out loud, shaking with it, slowing at the red light that will take them off campus and into town. “Don’t make me piss myself.”

“I know you,” Scott accuses with a jab of his finger in Stiles’ direction. “You think he’s sexy.”

“Of course he’s sexy,” Stiles’ blinker tick-tick-ticks, “but that doesn’t mean I like him.”

“All these years, I’ve never even seen you pay an alpha the time of day, and now here you sit,” he holds his hands out in Stiles’ direction, as if there’s anything to see. “Blushing over Derek Hale.”

“I’m not.”

“How come you won’t say yes to a date with this guy even though you clearly want him to drill you into the next millennium?”

“Okay, I don’t,” he insists, hitting the gas the second the light turns green and turning onto the main road, “and I just told you why. Alphas, bad. My dad, kill.”

“What about your mom?”

Stiles sees Derek’s car coming up right behind him in the rear view mirror, and he looks away immediately, as though doing so is proving Scott wrong. Like, see? I don’t like him. I’m not staring at his car in the mirror! “She thinks the rule is archaic and shitty, but she’s also aware of the fact that no matter what her or I think, my dad is going to react however he wants to.”

“So you’re just never allowed to date?”

“Not alphas.”

“Never?”

“Never.”

Scott taps his fingers on his knee and furrows his face together, like he’s really trying to think his way out of this one for Stiles’ sake. “Why are you so into this idea of me and Derek Hale, anyway?”

“I’m into the idea of you losing your virginity,” he corrects. “Your heats are getting worse and worse, you’ve said it yourself. Getting an alpha boyfriend or girlfriend would… help.”

Stiles frowns. Scott is not wrong about that.

At first, Stiles’ heats were traumatic to him because they’re awful to begin with. Being fourteen years old and having no control over his body, his own mind, any of it, was fucking terrifying. Especially since his dad filled his head with all this stuff about how alphas are not to be trusted, they’d hurt him given half a chance, they only want one thing and if Stiles didn’t give it willingly they’d just up and take it. Stiles grew up learning to resent his heats more than anything else. He never saw it as natural, or special, or any of that bullshit.

And as time has gone on, they have gotten worse. It’s so bad now, Stiles blacks out. He can’t remember entire pockets of time, sometimes whole entire days. He’s lucky that he has access to a heat center where he’s on lockdown and can’t get out and no one else can get in – so at least when he comes to, he’s sure there’s not much he’s gotten up to. But it is still anxiety inducing, to wake up and not remember what happened the past three days.

“Getting an alpha in my pants wouldn’t magically make my heats not suck.”

“I’ve done research,” he says, lifting an eyebrow. Stiles sighs. Of course he has. Scott barely passes his classes and barely studies the things that actually matter – but leave it to him to suddenly know everything about omegas just because his best friend is one. “Getting a heat partner would make your heats not just more bearable, but um,” he glares out the window, cheeks going hot, “…like, good.”

Part of Stiles knows that. The problem is, the other 75% of him would rather drop dead than allow an alpha within 1,000 feet of him when he’s like that. “I can’t trust them,” he insists, pulling onto their shared street. “Not with this. I’m – Scott, come on. It’s not just vulnerability. It’s being at the total and complete mercy of an alpha. I can’t –“

“I get it,” Scott says, but he doesn’t, not really. He can’t imagine what it feels like. He could never imagine the way it feels to be less than human in the eyes of half the world. “…but Derek Hale is not like that.”

Stiles slows to a stop on the curb right in between their houses. Scott’s is blue with a red door, a porch swing and a big maple tree in the yard – Stiles’ is brick and further back, a big fence with an electric current buzzing surrounding the property.

“…he’s arrogant, but he’s not like that.”

“You like this guy?”

“I mean,” Scott scoffs, “he’s the captain of the lacrosse team, of course I have to like him. But I also have spent a lot of time with him and – you know,” he frowns, here, shaking his head. “….it’s a team mostly comprised of alphas, and in the locker room, they talk, and…”

Stiles can fill in the blanks. What he means is that since Stiles first started less than two weeks ago, the main topic of conversation in that mostly-alpha locker room has been him. What he looks like, how his heats are, if he’s easy, if he’s a crazy bitch like they already say he is, if he’s a slut, if he’ll do whatever they want him to, on and on.

“…but not with Derek around. He won’t let them even mention your name, dude.”

That surprises Stiles. Given the way that Derek looks at him and pounced on him the second that he laid eye on Stiles, he would’ve thought Derek would be in that locker room yucking it up with the rest of those pigs. Derek is, after all, the only one of the lot who has had the balls to really speak to him.

Because he’s arrogant. But apparently, arrogance does not equate being a fucking sexist.

But none of this really matters, because, “even if he were the fucking Mother Theresa of alphas, my dad would shoot him between the eyes, and he’s well within his rights to do so.” He pulls his keys out of the ignition so the engine dies and stuffs them into the pocket of his blazer, frowning. “Until I’m mated off, I’m like his property. He can kill anyone who touches me.”

Scott is not happy with this. He’s always known that omegas are the property of their parents until they get mated and then are the property of their alphas, but maybe he had rose colored glasses on whenever he really considered that fact in the past. But there’s nothing rose-colored about that law.

It’s the part of his life that makes Stiles feel the smallest. Like he’s nothing. Like he doesn’t even matter, beyond his biology.

“And you know he’s going to just marry me off to the first beta who shows any interest in me the second I graduate,” he says this bitterly.

Scott puts his hand on Stiles’ shoulder and squeezes. “You know, if I were an alpha, I’d marry you just so you could be your own person.”

Stiles’ lips quirk at the corners, because he knows it’s true. Scott would do that in a heartbeat. “Thanks,” he says. “I don’t think Allison would like that, but thanks.”

“Are you kidding? She’d love it. She thinks you’re great. She thinks you’re crazy, but like, in a good way.”

That’s nice to know, that Scott’s girlfriend likes him. “I better get home before they put out an APB on me,” he gestures to the time on his phone screen reading ten minutes past when he’s supposed to be home, and Scott huffs a laugh.

They part ways, Scott lurching up the steps to his own house with a broad wave over his shoulder, Stiles padding up the drive to the big metal gate blocking his path to the front yard.

He punches in the security code on the key pad and stands to watch as the gate swings open for him, sliding through as soon as there’s a gap wide enough for him to do so. As he walks through the grass, he thinks some more about Derek Hale.

The guy is a douchebag. There is no doubt in Stiles’ mind that he’s pompous, he’s a rich kid fuck off, he’s popular and jockish and that instantly makes him an ass, and worst of all, he’s an alpha. That makes him dangerous.

But he won’t let them say anything about Stiles within his earshot. Stiles doesn’t know if that’s because he’s crazy and jealous and possessive of an omega he has no rights to be possessive over, or if he actually gives a shit. Stiles would bet his life on the former, because the guy has alpha dickhead written all over him.

And he is sexy. Really sexy. But that’s neither here nor there.

At the front door he keys in another security code, is prompted to stick his key in the lock, and the door opens for him with a creak. He steps in and thumps his backpack down in its usual place on the bench, undoes his shoes by the door, and heads straight to the kitchen where he knows his parents are waiting for him.

His mother is standing there wearing pink rubber gloves and holding a trash bag, while his father is leaning inside the fridge right next to her, throwing an old takeout container from who knows when into the bag.

“Cutting it a bit close there, kid,” his dad says first thing, barely even glancing over his shoulder to address him.

“I was talking to Scott outside,” he says, leaning against the door jam and crossing his arms over his chest.

“One thing I like about this new school is your uniform,” his mother tells him with a smile, “you look adorable.”

Stiles glances down at himself and winces. He feels like a complete idiot in this get up, so of course his mother likes it. She’d likely love to see him in overalls and a straw hat or any other number of humiliating outfits.

“You’re finally cleaning out the fridge, huh?”

“It was starting to smell,” she says with a huff, as the Sheriff dumps another mysterious Chinese takeout box into the trash. “How was school?”

Before he can even answer, his dad straightens up to his full height – tall, broad, vaguely menacing – and gives Stiles a very serious look. “Any of those alphas giving you trouble?”

“Uh, no,” the answer is yes, of course it’s yes, a dozen times over, but nothing good could come of his father knowing that. “No trouble.”

“If any of them start –“

“If there were a problem he’d say it,” his mom hisses under her breath. Stiles sighs through his nose and looks away.

Ever since Stiles presented as an omega, they’ve been fighting more. His dad, as an old school alpha type with a no-bullshit attitude, thinks that Stiles would be better off if they locked him in a tower somewhere and threw away the key. His mother does not agree. Not in the least bit.

“I’m gonna go do homework,” he says, turning on his heel before either of them can say anything else to him. As he goes, he can hear their murmured voices, bickering over what to say to Stiles and what not to say to him, and he just shakes his head.

They’ve got a bookshelf full of bullshit written by alpha psychologists about the best way to deal with a teenaged omega, and they still haven’t managed to figure it out.

In his room, he pulls his books out and tries to concentrate on his work. But his mind keeps drifting off into dream space, leaning his chin in his palm and staring out his window at the woods behind his house, thinking about Derek Hale.

**

Stiles ends up paired with Derek Hale for an assignment in their shared English class. He’s surprised, given his teacher’s evident proclivity to surrounding him with betas and betas alone, but he figures there perhaps just weren’t enough betas to go around this time.

She approaches him as the rest of the class chatters and moves to meet up with their partners, setting her hand on his back and asking him, “are you comfortable working with him?”

Stiles looks across the room at where Derek is collecting his things to come and meet Stiles, and he swallows a lump in his throat. He should say no. He should say he doesn’t have any interest in speaking to alphas, in being alone with them in any capacity, because that’s what his father would have him do.

But Stiles clears his throat and says, “oh, he’s not so bad.”

“Good,” she says with a warm smile, patting him on the back like a good dog. Stiles grits his teeth in a smile, and right as she’s walking away, Derek Hale is taking her place right in front of him.

He sets his backpack down and grabs the desk, turning it to face Stiles’ head on. It screeches on the tiled floor underfoot, and Stiles winces.

Derek sits down, looks Stiles right in the eyes. “Hi, Stiles.”

“Hi,” Stiles, insanely, feels shy. He threw soda in this asshole’s face not a full week ago, and now he’s sat here feeling fucking shy to be talking to him. “Um, let’s –“ he’s nervously turning pages in his notebook to get to a blank one, clicking his pen, not meeting Derek’s eyes, “let’s just do the assignment.”

Derek watches him. Stiles has been watched by many alphas, many times, thousands of times, and he’s hated the feel of an alpha’s eyes on him every single time – but he does not hate this. It makes his hands clam up, and his throat go dry, but he doesn’t hate it.

“You like this book?” Derek holds up his worn down copy of The Kite Runner, with the school library sticker on the spine.

“I’ve read it before,” he admits, glancing at his own copy lying on his desk – it’s from his personal collection, no school sticker, just his name scribbled on the back of the front cover. “It’s one of my favorites.”

Derek raises his eyebrows. “So, this should be easy for you.”

“I guess so.”

“You like to read, huh?”

He says it with this note of surprise in his tone, and it irritates Stiles. He bristles and makes a face at him. “I know I should just focus on ways to make alphas want me, but yes, I like to read.”

Derek grins at him, all teeth. He leans back in his chair, does that alpha-posturing leg spreading thing where he takes up twice as much space as he needs to – normally, Stiles hates that shit. Now, he watches the movement and his mouth goes bone dry. “You don’t really have to work that hard at making alphas want you, I’d bet.”

“You are a fucking pig,” he accuses, and Derek laughs through his nose. “Let’s just – sit up. And let’s do the fucking work.”

Derek does as he’s told. He sits up straight and raises his eyebrows, watching as Stiles reaches into the front pocket of his blazer and produces his glasses. He slides them on and starts observing the handout with their assignment on it, while Derek keeps himself busy observing Stiles.

“You wear glasses?”

“Reading glasses. These questions are easy,” he clicks his pen and writes the number one down in his notebook, but Derek just keeps right on staring at him. “You have any opinions on this, or are you too distracted by my poor eyesight?”

Stiles looks up and meets his eyes. Derek smiles at him as soon as they make eye contact. He says, very sincerely, “you are so god damn pretty.”

It’s humiliating, but Stiles blushes. He pushes his glasses up on his nose and goes red around the face, clearing his throat and pretending to be fascinated by the assignment all over again. “Omegas having weaknesses turns you on. Go figure.”

“No,” he makes a face, like that offends him. “They look good on you. It’s a dirty librarian thing.”

That’s a joke. Stiles can’t help it – he laughs, genuine and quick. No alpha has ever made Stiles laugh before, because truth be told, they aren’t very funny. Why would any of them need to learn how to have a sense of humor or a personality, when they’re alphas, after all?

It’s like cat nip to Derek. He sits up some more and smiles, and he goes on. “You look like you’re going to tell me I’ve got overdue book fees. I do, actually.”

“You’re in big trouble, then,” he teases, and Derek bites down on the cap of his pen and smirks. “Uh – anyway. Back to the…”

“Sure,” he agrees, breezy. “I like this book, too.”

“I’m surprised you’ve read it. I would’ve pegged you for a spark notes type of person.”

“I love to read,” he insists, and then he points to a specific pin on his blazer - it’s a stack of books, red green and blue. “I’m in book club.”

“They have book club?” Stiles is immediately interested. Before he realizes, he’s leaning in closer to Derek to get a better look at that pin. He’s close, too close, leaning forward and exposing his neck as he gazes at all of Derek’s pins lined up – Derek goes stiff.

Stiles pulls away instantly, embarrassed. He blushes again and looks down, pushing his glasses up, shaking his head. He must have just sent waves of his scent directly up Derek’s nose, bared his neck, got close enough to touch; all things that drive alphas absolutely bananas. “Sorry,” he mutters down at his books.

When he dares to glance up, Derek does not look like he’s about to go insane and lose control, and he doesn’t look angry. He says, “sorry? For what?”

Stiles clears his throat. “For – I just –“

“I’m not an animal,” he says evenly, cocking his head to the side.

Stiles shrugs his shoulders and fiddles with his pen. “I did that to an alpha once and he tried to – anyway,” he shakes his head, like it doesn’t matter. Derek frowns at him. “You’ve got lots of those. Pins, I mean.”

Derek is effectively side tracked by this comment. He glances down at his blazer and then smoothes it out, nodding. “It’s important to my mother that I be involved. At first I hated it, but now I don’t mind. It’s a good way to make friends,” he gestures at Stiles’ own blazer, bare aside from his senior pin. “You should try a club. It sounds lame, but it looks good on a transcript.”

Stiles snorts. “Right, because I’m going to college.” Sarcasm drips from his tone.

Derek’s easy going smile falls. He had forgotten that omegas aren’t allowed to go to college, evidently. This is a sore subject for Stiles, who just shakes his head and gestures to the assignment once more.

Derek’s got no more smart ass comments to make after that. They do the work, and Derek only stares at him a moderate amount, eyes trailing up his neck or across his face, and Stiles does his best to just ignore it. They manage to finish just before the bell rings.

Derek offers to turn it in, tearing the paper out of Stiles’ notebook along the perforation gently. The rest of the class is loud as they move desks back to their original places and start packing their things up for the next period. As Derek stands and slings his backpack over his shoulder, he clears his throat and looks Stiles in the face. “I think that’s such bullshit, just so you know.”

“What?”

He stuffs his free hand in his pocket. “You’re smarter than most of the alphas at this school. You should be going to college.”

Stiles blinks at him. “Well, I’m a sex toy. So.”

“You’re not,” he insists.

“How would you know how smart I am or am not?”

Derek shuffles a bit in place, like he’s bashful. “Uh. I’m a student aid in the office.”

A-ha. So he went through Stiles’ school file, his transcripts, his years and years of nothing but straight A’s and glowing reviews from his teachers. It’s a huge invasion of privacy, but Stiles can’t find it in him to be offended.

“If you were an alpha you’d be going to an Ivy League,” he glares at the floor, brow furrowed, like this is something he’s really mad about. “I just think it’s such bullshit.”

The classroom is almost empty, by now. It’s just him and Derek and a couple other stragglers, one student up front talking to the teacher - it’s quiet. Stiles isn’t sure what to say. No alpha has ever said anything like this to him before. His mind is blank.

“You’re not a sex toy,” he goes on, not meeting Stiles’ eyes. “I’m sorry.”

Stiles finds his voice. He says, “it’s not your fault. That’s just reality.”

Derek is mad, still. He has nothing else to say. He turns on his heel and hands in the assignment, and then he walks out of the classroom, leaving Stiles staring after him with a blank expression on his face.

Well, he thinks. That did absolutely nothing to keep Stiles from finding him attractive. It has certainly made things ten times worse, if anything.

He collects his things and heads to his next class, which he shares with Scott. As soon as Stiles walks in, Scott sits up straight and waves him over. As though Stiles doesn’t have an assigned seat right next to him, anyway.

Once Stiles has got his backpack on the ground, Scott is speaking to him. “I heard Derek Hale was making you laugh in English class.”

As Stiles sits, he looks around the room and frowns, scanning for someone who could have already told Scott that tid bit. “Is there a walkie talkie club at this school I don’t know about? How could you possibly have heard that, when it literally just happened half an hour ago –“

“Oh, you and Derek are the it topic,” he waves his hand like it’s so obvious. “If he even looks at you, I hear about it.”

“Great,” Stiles mutters, pulling his glasses off and tucking them away into his pocket.

“So, he’s funny, huh?”

“He’s all right.”

“You want to ride him into the sunset.”

“Scott, Jesus Christ,” he hisses, looking around to make sure no one else heard that.

Scott puts his hands up in surrender. “I’m just calling it like I see it.”

Allison appears, setting her purse down on top of her desk and smiling. “What’d I miss?” She asks, settling into her seat.

“Stiles wants Derek to rail him.”

“Oh, I heard that, too.”

Stiles presses his hands over his eyes and breathes out, hard. This is a nightmare. “I’ve got to stop talking to that kid. If word gets to my dad that I’ve even so much as spoken to him…”

“How’s he gonna find out?” Scott asks him, while Allison nods in agreement. “What, is he in on the high school gossip?”

No. But that doesn’t mean he’s not in on some gossip. The man tracks Stiles’ phone, his Jeep, his entire life – and it isn’t because he doesn’t trust Stiles, but it’s because he does not trust one single solitary person around Stiles. If he catches wind that Stiles has shown interest in some muscle-head jock alpha, he’s going to lose his mind. Stiles will be grounded into next eternity.

The bell rings, so Stiles sits forward and cracks his fingers, getting ready to take notes on the lecture. He bites his lip and finds himself thinking of Derek, again, like the guy has already planted roots inside of Stiles’ head, and now Stiles has no choice but to daydream about him.

This is bad. This is very, very, very bad.

**

“Stilinski!”

Stiles tenses at his locker. He’s familiar with that voice. He squares his shoulders and focuses on the task at hand, which is sticking up personal affects to his locker door. He presses a sticker from his favorite band onto the metal and ignores Derek’s incoming footfalls.

“Hey, brown eyes,” Derek greets him when he’s close enough, and Stiles pretends he does not like that. He hates it, as matter of fact. Or, that’s what he tells himself. “You’re busy, I see.”

Stiles smooths tape over a picture of himself and Scott at the aquarium, in front of the penguins.

“You like penguins?”

Stiles fixes him with a look. “Do you need something?”

“Is it cold in here, or are you just feeling particularly chilly towards me all of the sudden?” Stiles says nothing back to him. Derek goes on. “Brrr. Like we’re in the penguin exhibit.”

“I’m not –“ he sighs through his nose. Then, he slams his locker closed and meets Derek face to face, head on. “Can I share something with you?”

“Oh, absolutely,” he grins, leaning against the lockers. He’s so broad, tall, and Stiles likes the look of him so much it’s almost perverse, but he ignores that, as best as he can.

Stiles fiddles with his fingers. “You know my dad is the Sheriff.”

“I’ve heard rumblings to that effect.”

“Yeah. He owns a gun. He’s a pretty good shot.”

“I should hope so.”

“He’s –“ he rubs at his jaw, and wonders how to put this. “..Look. My dad loves me. And as much as he loves me, he hates alphas. And you know what he hates more than alphas? Alphas who look at me.”

Derek cocks his head to the side, like he’s only just barely following this.

“I mean, I’m not allowed to - I’m not allowed to date. Alphas, specifically.”

“So,” Derek starts, slowly, “you’re saying you can’t date me because your dad won’t allow it.”

“Let me be crystal fucking clear,” he waves his hands around a bit, “I can’t date you because my dad would shoot and kill you.”

Derek laughs. He thinks that’s a joke.

“I am not kidding.”

“Come on,” he rolls his eyes. “He just says that, probably.”

“You know that he’d get away with it, and so does he. I stopped just being his son the day I presented,” he folds his arms over his chest protectively. “I just don’t think it’s a good idea for us to talk.”

Derek stares at him for a moment, like he’s assessing just how serious Stiles is. Stiles is dead serious, deathly serious, right down to the bones serious, and Derek seems adept at reading body language, so he picks up on that. But he’s still an alpha. So his main focus is, “…because you like me.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But you do,” he snaps his fingers and straightens back up to his full height, tall tall tall, and Stiles looks away. “You like me, and you think your dad is going to shoot me for it.”

“I know he –“

“I like you, too,” he grins, and Stiles presses his hands to his eyes. Oh, Jesus fucking Christ….

“I’m telling you that you could wind up literally dead over this, and that’s all you care about.”

Derek shrugs, slow and languid. “Five minutes alone with you, and I could probably die happy.”

Stiles stares at him. Oh, this is bad. This is so, so bad. He rubs at his face and wonders how he let this happen – how did he go from throwing soda in this guy’s face to this? How did he fucking let this happen?

He’s a siren. He lures alphas to their deaths. He sees that, now. “Just – stay away from me,” he grips the straps of his backpack and steps away, one step at a time, backwards. “Seriously.”

Derek grins at him. “We’re kinda past that.”

“Nope,” Stiles waves his arms, shakes his head. “Derek. Stay away.”

“There is something about you,” he insists, even as Stiles keeps moving away, “I cannot help myself.”

Stiles turns and charges away, glancing over his shoulder just once to see Derek lingering, watching Stiles leave.

This is bad. Derek is right about one thing – there is something there. Between them. Electricity or a magnetic pull that may refuse to be ignored if either of them allow it to fester anymore than it already has. Stiles has to ignore it at all costs, for their own good.

There’s forbidden love, and then there’s this shit. It is not romantic. Stiles is afraid of it, at the same time he wants it, because he’s sick in the fucking head. It’s like the books always warned him about; he’s an omega. That means, no matter how embittered or empowered he is, one day, he’s going to meet an alpha that’s going to wreck his entire life.

Derek Hale cannot be that alpha. Over his dead body. Perhaps literally.

He skirts to a stop in front of the entire reason he’s at school after hours to begin with – a wide open door, chattering kids on the inside. He sucks in a deep breath and composes himself, willing thoughts of Derek away as best that he can.

Inside, everyone turns to look at him. He’s used to this sort of a thing, so he ignores them all and heads to the front. There’s an alpha girl at a big desk, with a copy of the school paper in front of her face clutched between bright pink fingernails.

Stiles skids to a stop in front of her and clears his throat. She drops the newspaper down and eyeballs him, up and down. “Scott said you’d be by,” she tells him, and Stiles nods. “You wanna join the paper.”

“I wish I had a portfolio or something, but,” he rubs the back of his neck, “I wasn’t allowed to join at my last school.”

She purses her lips. Then, she extends a pale hand out to him, so Stiles takes it and shakes. “I’m Lydia Martin. You’re allowed to join this paper.”

“Oh,” he breathes a sigh of relief. “Great, that’s –“

“You know you look like a walking ad for sex, right?”

Stiles is surprised by this. “Uh –“

“Like… you are aware of that. Right.”

“Yes,” he huffs.

“I’ve heard what people say about you,” she leans back in her swivel chair and it creaks, as she sets her chin up in her palm and eyeballs him some more. “Apparently, you’re a real bitch.”

“Sort of,” he agrees with a rueful smile.

She smiles back at him, like she likes that answer. “Good for you. I’ve got an idea of just how to fit you into the team, if you’re willing to give it a shot.”

“Sure.”

“Most of the people at this school,” she points around the room – an alpha Stiles recognizes from his economics class hunched over a laptop, shooting lascivious glances at Stiles every ten seconds, a beta girl with butterfly clips in her hair and a pen clenched between her teeth –, “have never met an omega before. You know there’s less omegas in the United States than there are bald eagles?”

“I did know that,” he nods, and she smiles at him.

“Crazy shit. You heard about the assembly the day before you came to school, right?”

Stiles did, indeed, hear about that shit. Scott reluctantly informed him about it on the drive to Stiles’ first day. Apparently, because they were getting an omega, they had an entire shebang in the gym about respect, keeping distance, and, you know, not attacking him the second they saw him. It wasn’t terribly dehumanizing or anything.

“Sexist fucking psychopaths,” she tells him, annunciating each syllable harshly. “I think you should write about that.”

“…the assembly?”

“The entire thing,” she gestures in a big circle, as though encapsulating the entire world in her arms. “The whole charade. How this world treats you like you’re a sub class of person.”

“Oh, I don’t know if I want to ruffle any –“

“Ruffling feathers is the only way to be heard,” she challenges, lifting an eyebrow. “Not everyone here is a complete dick. Plenty of people were disgusted by that assembly, Stiles. You’ve got an audience. Most of these kids just want to know what you’re really like, what it’s really like to be like you.”

Stiles rubs the back of his neck again. He isn’t so sure about this. He’s spent a great deal of time reading omega rights literature yes, and he’s read countless banned books that he has to hide under his bed so his dad won’t find them, and he’s been on omega forums where he and the rest of his kind express their frustrations at the state of the world – but actively participating in it?

That sounds like a bad idea.

Lydia seems to read his hesitation, because she goes on. “I’m not saying you have to stage protests in the cafeteria. You don’t even have to write anything that controversial if it makes you uncomfortable. Just… perspective.”

Perspective. Stiles definitely has a point of view on all this bullshit. The problem is, his point of view is one that he’s had to bury deep for so long. He’s not allowed to say it’s horse shit he can’t go to college. He’s not allowed to say it’s a dehumanizing fucking nightmare living in a house as locked down as the FBI headquarters. He’s not allowed to say he doesn’t want to marry some shitty beta he’s not going to care about. He’s not allowed to say that his dad treats him like he has no agency, no rights, nothing.

He’s barely allowed to exist as it is.

“Write what you’re comfortable with,” she says with finality. Then, she gestures to an empty and clean desk to her left. “That’s yours. I need something on my desk by Thursday.”

He hesitates. “Anything?”

“Anything. And before I forget,” she opens her top drawer and pulls out a pin – a tiny little folded up newspaper – and hands it to him. “Welcome to the Beaconian.”

**

At home, his father notices the change in Stiles’ uniform instantly, the way he notices every single thing Stiles does or does not do.

At the dinner table, he points it out. “What do you got there on your lapel?”

Stiles swallows his bite of spaghetti and clears his throat. “Oh, um. At school they have like, clubs, and when you join one you get a pin. I joined newspaper. That’s what I was doing after school today.”

“That’s great,” his mother beams at him, smile going wide. “That’s so great. Is everybody nice there?”

“Yeah, super nice. The editor gave me my own column and everything.”

“Wow,” she nudges Stiles’ father under the table, Stiles hears it and sees it. “Isn’t that great? He’s going to be published in the school paper.” Just like a real boy, Stiles thinks bitterly, twirling some noodles around on his fork.

“About what?” His dad asks. And he’s got this tone. Like what could you possibly have to say? What could you possibly have to write about? He doesn’t mean it that way. Or maybe he does.

Stiles is not good at lying to his dad. Ever since he presented, the sheer idea of doing so puts the fucking fear of god into him. So he can’t, even though alarm bells are going off in his head, begging him not to tell the truth. “Oh…just like. About being like me.”

His dad puts his fork down with a clink, and his mother gets this nervous look on her face.

“Most of these kids haven’t ever met an omega,” he goes on, shaky. “Did you know there’s less omegas in this country than bald eagles? You know. Because they give a shit about those stupid birds, but omegas, they – I just think I have a…perspective.”

“Perspective,” his father repeats, slowly.

“I think it’s great. He’s right. Those kids don’t know anything about what it’s really like to be an omega in this day and age.”

Silence. Stiles stares at his food and wishes he could go back in time and say nothing. Or go back in time and take the pin off his jacket before he got home so he wouldn’t have had to say anything at all.

“You know, son, they lock omegas up for speaking out of turn.”

John.”

“I know that,” he defends, throat going tight. “It’s not fair –“

“You’re god damn right it’s not fair,” he bangs his fist on the table and Stiles jumps, flinching, while his mother pinches the bridge of her nose. “It’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s a living nightmare. I know that. But they will. You think those alphas who believe male omegas should be chained up in basements will take very kindly to you writing your perspective in their kids’ school paper?”

“I just think if any of them knew what it was really like –“

“They know how it’s really like,” he challenges, eyes going hard. “That’s how they want it.”

Stiles’ chin wobbles. “It’s just the school paper.”

“You’re upsetting him,” his mom says, pointlessly – of course this is upsetting Stiles. It’s only his own life up for discussion.

“The wrong person reads it, and you’re in trouble. They’ll mate you off to some fifty year old alpha in another state –“

Stiles stands and pushes his chair out with a screech. “I’m not hungry anymore,” he spits, and then he flees the room altogether. As he goes, he hears his dad sigh, long and loud, because he knows he went too far again, and his mother call his name to come back, but he ignores all of it.

He goes up the stairs and slams his bedroom door shut, pressing his back up against it. It’s just the school paper, he thinks bitterly, closing his eyes. It’s just the fucking school paper. It’s not like he’d be nailing the 95 theses to the door, or staging protests, or doing anything like that.

If people knew what it was like…

But then his father is right. Many of them know exactly what it’s like, and they don’t care. They think it should be even worse. That thought scares the hell out of him.

Later on, he comes out of his room to go brush his teeth and get ready for bed, and he hears his parents arguing down the hall. He pauses and hovers in the dark, listening.

“…things like that to him, John! He’s a kid, he’s –“

“He’s not a kid. He’s eighteen god damn years old! He needs to know what it’s like, what those people are like, because coddling him is only going to make things worse!”

“The way you talk to him, it’s not right. How you lock him up in this house and won’t let him be a normal –“

“He’s not normal, Claudia. He is not normal.”

“Jesus Christ, do you hear yourself?”

Stiles curls his arms against himself and frowns.

“I’m being realistic. If he speaks up, if he starts making noise, they will come for him, and you know it. You know they will, god dammit, and I won’t let that happen! You think I don’t know what he thinks about all this? The things he reads?”

“He’s right. He should be angry about it, and he has every right to be angry about the way you treat him.”

“Because I don’t want my son to go out there and get raped. To get beaten. Those fucking animals will leap at the chance to get their hands on him – the way he looks – the way he smells –“

“It’s not his fault!”

“I know that!” A long, sad sigh. A pause. Then, his voice is softer. “I know that. He’s my only son. Every day he leaves this house I don’t know if he’ll come back. You know how that feels, Claudia. He’s just… he’s so much weaker than them. He’s so small. He doesn’t…”

Stiles has heard enough. He dives back into his room and shuts the door softly, before climbing into his bed. He pulls the covers up to his chin and turns to stare out the window – the night sky, the stars, the moon, the woods beyond, and the space where a big tree used to be.

They cut it down. After the second alpha tried to climb it and come in through Stiles’ bedroom window.

He curls up tight and squeezes his eyes shut, sinking underneath the covers, wishing he could disappear completely. He cries, just a little, hugging himself and sniffling into his pillow. He feels so small.

**

“Check out your pin,” Scott excitedly points out the next morning as soon as he gets into Stiles’ Jeep. “Isn’t Lydia great? I mean, she’s a huge bitch, but she’s a genius. The paper has been so good since she became editor.”

“Yeah,” Stiles frowns and revs the engine, sliding into gear. “I don’t think I’m gonna do it anymore.”

“Whoa, what?”

Stiles shrugs. “It’s just not going to work out.”

There’s a pause. Stiles drives on to the four way intersection and keeps his eyes on the road, but he can see the gears in Scott’s head turning. Scott may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but he is very emotionally intelligent. He knows how to read a situation.

“Your dad said no, didn’t he?”

Stiles nods, silent.

“That man is a fucking sexist,” he bursts out, incensed, even as Stiles shakes his head to deny it.

“He isn’t. He’s just well aware that the world is full of them, and violent ones, at that.”

“Now you’re parroting what he says,” he points an incriminating finger in Stiles’ direction. “You know what I think? I think sitting back and just – letting things happen, bad things, things that aren’t right, is as bad as the people who do them.”

Stiles grits his teeth, gripping the wheel hard.

“Your dad controls you. It’s not right.”

“He just wants me to be safe.”

“He wants you to be a good little omega who does as he’s told!”

Scott’s right. He knows that Scott is right, because Stiles has yelled this exact thing in his dad’s face a dozen times before. It isn’t that his father is sexist, it isn’t that his dad wants to mate him off to some gross asshole who will hit Stiles and make him a little sex slave - it’s that his dad wants Stiles to stay in a box where no one can touch him.

His intentions come from a father’s love for his son. But that doesn’t make them right.

“I want to be on the paper,” he says, quiet. “I want to write about this shit. But I’m scared he’s right. They’ll – they’ll find me and –“

“It’s the school paper. Worst thing that’ll happen is the parents will freak out. Come on,” he nudges Stiles in the arm. “This isn’t you. You always stand up for what you believe in. For yourself. They already think you’re a crazy bitch.”

They do, at that. What’s a little bit more? Still, he can’t get his father’s words out of his head; that it’s better for him to be seen and not heard, it’s better for him to not make waves, to just sit there and be pretty and not make a sound – like he’s prey hiding from predators.

**

Stiles forgets his French textbook in second period. He raises his hand and asks if he can run to his locker to grab it - he’s given a yes, so he moves quick.

The halls are almost empty, but not entirely. There are some people, seniors especially, who have free periods. Some of them choose to study in the library or sit outside in the sunshine, but some of them linger in the halls talking to friends in small clumps, voices low so they won’t get in trouble. Stiles ignores all of them as he heads for his locker, pulling it open and digging for his book.

There’s a handful of alphas some ten feet away, some of them being ones who stare at him and make gestures at him and whisper behind his back – but he pays them no mind, even as he hears them quiet at the sight of him, murmuring to one another.

He pulls his book out, and in the process of doing so, knocks a box of pens onto the ground. He swears, bending down to pick them up –

A hand, warm and rough, latches onto his ass and squeezes. Stiles shoots up and jerks away, slamming his back into the lockers with a clang that echoes.

There’s an alpha right behind him. Blue eyes, firm jaw, tall, big, staring right right at him. He smirks. “Whoops,” he says. “My hand slipped.”

The other boys snicker and laugh. Stiles’ face goes white, his hand tingling to reach out and slap him, to punch him, to do anything aside from just stand here, but his throat seals up and his eyes go wet with humiliation. He says, “don’t touch me,” and they laugh.

“What?” The alpha leans in closer, like he couldn’t hear. He sniffs, smelling Stiles’ neck, and Stiles is pressed against the lockers so he can’t pull away. He just stands there and freezes.

His brain short circuits.

“You smell like candy,” he says, voice low, deep, almost a growl. Stiles tries to slide to the left, away from him, but a big arm shoots out and boxes him in. Stiles goes still.

“Leave me alone,” he hisses, and the alpha makes this face, like he’s hurt, while his friends watch.

“You know, you’re a lot prettier when you’re not talking.”

“Get away from me,” he says, and he pushes his body against the arm trapping him to try and break free, but it doesn’t move. He’s shaking. He lowers his head and he does the only thing he can think of to get out of this situation – playing the fucking part. “Just – please. Please leave me alone, I’m – I’m late for class.”

The alpha smiles at him. “Say it nicer.”

Stiles grits his teeth and stares at his feet. This is humiliating. It’s demoralizing. They’re mocking him. He sniffles and clutches his book to his chest. “Please, alpha.”

That does it. He retracts his arm and steps away, a smug grin on his face. To add insult to injury he spits, “little bitch,” right into Stiles’ face.

Stiles skirts away from him and speed walks down the hall, as fast as he can without actually running. Their laughter follows him, but it’s like white noise in his ears. He’s still shaking, hands going white where he’s clutching his book, and he can’t remember how to get back to class.

His eyes prick with tears and he can’t go back there looking like this anyway. He knows there’s a bathroom down the hall to his left, so he turns quickly and bites his lip to keep from bursting into tears in front of all the kids standing in the hall.

Derek Hale is there, laughing with his alpha friends and looking care free. Stiles can’t stand the humiliation of him seeing Stiles like this, so he lowers his head and tries to make himself small, hoping he won’t be seen. Of course Derek does see him, could probably smell him, and as soon as he does, the smile falls off his face.

Stiles ignores him. He dives into the men’s bathroom door and shoves himself inside, hiding behind a stall door and then immediately bursting into tears.

He drops his book on the ground and cries into his hands. He has been treated that way by dozens of alphas before, but that was…

The bathroom door creaks open. “Stiles?” That’s Derek’s voice. Of course it is.

“Go away,” he hisses. “I just – just go away.”

Derek’s sneakers squeak on the tiles as he walks further inside. Stiles sees his converse stop right in front of the stall Stiles is hiding in, and he presses his hand against the door so he won’t be able to open it. “What happened?”

“I just have something in my eye.”

“Stiles.”

He sighs. Taking in a big breath, he sniffles some more and dreads the thought of repeating it out loud. It’s too humiliating. Derek will laugh at him. “They – they made me –“

“Who?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know them, they – he – he made me call him alpha.”

Derek sighs. He mutters something that sounds like Jesus Christ.

“He touched me and they all laughed.”

“Touched you?”

“He groped me, okay?”

“Stiles, open the door.”

Stiles hesitates. Then, what’s the point?

He pulls open the stall door and Derek is standing there looking like he always does – big, dark hair, light eyes, pin-covered blazer. Stiles wipes the tears off of his cheeks and steps out, shaking his head. “I forgot my French book and they were all loitering in the halls. One of them –“ he stops short, then forces himself to keep going. “Grabbed my ass. And sniffed me. His friends watched and laughed and then he made me say please and call him alpha. It was – I feel –“ he hugs himself, looking away. “…I feel like a fucking bitch. Which he called me, too.”

Derek bends down and picks up Stiles’ French book for him. He holds it limply at his side, and he frowns. “What did this guy look like?”

“I don’t know – blue eyes. Blonde. Tall. He had a… a lacrosse pin.”

Derek’s jaw twitches. “I know that motherfucker.”

Stiles walks to the sinks and pulls down a paper towel, wetting it with cold water. He’s had a lot of practice with making himself look like he hadn’t been crying in the bathroom, after all. He says, “I just stood there. I just fucking stood there. I threw soda in your face for calling me sweetheart, and then this guy literally assaults me and I just… I just….” Froze. Went full omega. Please and all.

Derek does not ask what Stiles had done to deserve being groped. He doesn’t ask if Stiles was being a tease. He doesn’t ask if Stiles maybe lead this alpha on, somehow. He does not ask why he didn’t react better, if he really didn’t want to be touched.

He says, “I’m sorry that… I don’t know what to say that’s good,” he rubs at his neck and doesn’t meet Stiles’ eyes. “That’s - I’m sorry. That sounds so stupid. That was fucked up.”

Stiles presses the cold paper towels to his face to reduce his puffiness. “It’s better than what most people say to me after.”

Derek blinks. “That’s happened before?”

A sarcastic laugh tumbles out of Stiles’ throat. “Dozens of times. He’s not the first, he won’t be the last.”

“Yes he god damn will,” Derek furrows his brow. Stiles does not have time for this white knight routine, so he just rolls his eyes and keeps pressing his face. “Are you going to tell –“

“Who? The principal? So she can lecture me about not being such a slut? No thanks.”

Derek is quietly stunned. He frowns and looks away, like he’s trying to think of something good to do, the right thing to do, how to react – and he comes up empty. Stiles knows the feeling.

Stiles throws his used towel in the trash and then gestures with one hand for his book. “I’ll take that, now.”

Derek hesitates. “You’re just going to go back to class after –“

“This is my life,” he snaps, reaching down and ripping the book out of Derek’s hand himself. “I’m – used to it. Whatever.”

Derek frowns. “You were crying.”

Stiles shakes his head. “I’ll see you later,” he breezes past Derek and storms out into the hall. Derek’s friends are waiting outside for him, blinking owlishly at him, like they just heard everything and are regarding him like spoiled goods, now. He scowls at them murderously and snaps, “eat shit,” at them, much to their surprise.

When he gets back to class, his teacher stops writing and gives him a bit of a stare. “Nice of you to join us, Mr. Stilinski.”

The class laughs. Stiles lowers his neck and hurries to his seat without a word, face red. After he sits, he remembers the feel of a foreign, unwelcome hand grabbing him, like the right to do so is granted just from Stiles’ biology alone. He remembers the laughter, worst of all. It echoes around in his head and he grits his teeth and wills himself not to cry. No more crying about it. No more crying.

Screw his dad. He’ll write on the paper. He’s tired of being quiet about everything all the god damn time – he’ll write. All of it.

At the end of the class day, he looks up from packing his backpack full of everything he needs for his homework and sees the alpha who touched him. His initial instinct is to recoil and hide behind the locker door – but he notices something.

The alpha has a black eye and a split lip that he certainly had not had before. When he catches Stiles looking he averts his eyes and immediately turns to walk the other way, away from where Stiles is standing.

Stiles had said he didn’t care for Derek’s white knight routine. But this? Beating up alphas who touch him? This is okay. He smiles and bites his lip, shaking his head as he zips his bag up.

Derek is in big trouble. But then, so is Stiles.

**

Stiles has a dream that Derek climbs in through his bedroom window. He’s wearing his school uniform, because it’s all Stiles’ subconscious can come up with. He dreams that Derek comes into his bedroom, his personal space, into his bed, and they kiss. There’s lots of touching, hands searching, bodies pressing up against each other - and they hold hands and, while they never go all the way in the dream, Derek says he loves Stiles. Like, loves him.

Not the way he looks. Not the way he smells. Not that he’s an omega. Him.

When Stiles wakes up, he’s sweaty and aroused. He sits up and observes his hard on, the wet patch on his underwear, his dampened skin. He says, “that’s not good,” out loud to nothing and no one.

It is not good.

He jerks off in the shower and he tries his god damn hardest to not think of Derek Hale. He tries not think about how Derek’s khakis fit him perfectly, to not think about his smile, his eyes, his jaw, anything about him – but he can’t help himself. His mind wanders.

For the first time in his life, he fantasizes about an alpha. To be fair, he’s fantasized about the amorphous idea of an alpha; like, some dream person his brain came up with, because every alpha he ever met in real life was a nightmare person.

But this is the first time it’s a real alpha. Someone he knows. He comes down the drain of the shower and then presses his forehead against the tiles, breathing in deep, staring blankly as the water pelts his bare skin.

This is not fucking good.

It’s just himself and his mother at the breakfast table this morning. It’s a blessed thing that Stiles’ father is at work, because he doesn’t think he’d be able to look his dad in the eyes after dreaming of an alpha essentially breaking in through his window and then jerking of about said alpha in the shower.

He eats his toast and stares at his plate. “I think I’m still gonna do the paper,” he announces, apropos of nothing. His mom smiles at him, like this pleases her.

“I think that’s a good idea,” she tells him, and she means it. “Your father – well. He just worries is all. But I think you’re right, as long as it’s not too…inflammatory.”

It’ll probably be pretty inflammatory. But that’s neither here nor there.

He takes another bite and chews it mechanically. He’s not very hungry this morning, but if he doesn’t eat, his mother will worry, so he keeps eating. “Mom,” he starts, and she meets his eyes across the table, “are you and dad…are you going to get divorced?”

She puts her fork and knife down. “Oh, honey. No, no, not at all.”

“It’s just - you’re always fighting over me, and –“

“We are not fighting over you,” she insists. She stands from the table and comes sweeping over to him, bending down to be at his eye level, catching one of his hands in her own. “We – have different opinions on certain things. It’s true. I’m sorry if you’ve… heard.”

Stiles hears everything.

“…but you know what? One thing we will always agree on is how much we love you. I’m sure your father will see in time that his intentions are good but his methods are not.” She looks him right in the eyes. Stiles frowns and looks away.

“Do you think he’s ever going to be okay with – if I – if there was an alpha I liked and –“

She grips his hand tighter. “Is there?”

He back peddles immediately. “No, no, just – just theoretically. Like if in the future if there were. Hypothetically. I’m eighteen now, so I’ve gotta move out at some point,” he babbles, nervous. “I can’t move out until I get married, so…you know. He has to let me date eventually.”

“There are plenty of nice betas in the world, Stiles.”

You married an alpha.”

“I sure did,” she agrees. “Because I’m not an omega. It’s different for you.”

“That’s such bullshit,” he snaps, and she sighs. She stands back up and shakes her head, like she’s exhausted of this conversation already. “I’m – I’m eighteen. I should be able to – if I find somebody, it shouldn’t matter.”

She puts her hands on her hips and she studies him. She’s reading his face, his body language, his tone, all of it. She says, “there is an alpha, isn’t there?”

He looks away. It damns him.

“Stiles. Absolutely not.”

“Mom, he’s different,” he tries, but she cuts him off.

“No, he’s not. They’re all –“

“Dad is an alpha!” He repeats, even though it’s a useless argument and he knows it is.

“Who is it? I want a name.”

Stiles presses his lips together. Over his dead body is he going to tell his parents who it is. He’d sooner chew glass than do that.

“Stiles.”

“We’re not even doing anything. We haven’t even kissed. We barely speak. He’s just - there’s something…I can’t explain it.” He shakes his head, staring out the window, eyes going far away. “I think about him. That’s all.”

“Your father will lose his god damn mind if he hears about this.”

“Don’t tell him,” he begs, pushing his half eaten breakfast away. “Please? It’s nothing, I swear. He’s just - he’s just… I just wish…”

She sighs. She raises her eyes to the ceiling and likely asks some higher power up there in the sky why she has been burdened with an omega for a kid. It has brought her nothing but heart ache and pain, and it has put a strain on her marriage, and it makes her worry every single second of every single fucking day.

When she brings her eyes back down, she seems resigned. “I will not breathe a word of it to your father. On one condition.”

Stiles doesn’t like the sound of that, but he is at her mercy.

“Tell me who he is.”

He sighs. Stares at the table. “His name is Derek Hale.”

Her eyes bulge out of her head. “Hale? As in, Talia Hale’s son?”

“I guess so?” He has no fucking idea what Derek’s mom’s name is, why would he? He barely knows anything about Derek.

She puts her hand over her mouth. “I went to school with her. She’s – she was a friend of mine for a long time. After we both got married and had kids we lost touch.” She looks at Stiles again. “Maybe I should give her a call.”

“No. Mom. Don’t.”

“Not about you,” she insists. “Just. A little snooping.”

Mom.”

“It’ll be fine.”

“Swear to me you won’t tell dad,” he holds his pinky out to her and gestures for her to take it. “Seriously. Swear on my life.”

She makes a face, like she thinks this is silly, but she does it all the same. She locks her pinky with his and says, “I swear I won’t tell your father.”

Chapter Text

Lydia gestures with two fingers in Stiles’ direction as soon as he sets foot in the newsroom. She’s got a pinched expression on her face, but then, she nearly always does, so Stiles doesn’t think very much of it.

Once he’s close enough, she holds up the piece of paper he had given her just this morning before homeroom and waves it around in the air a bit. “This is good. You can write.”

“Oh, thanks. I know, it’s surprising. Professional mate-hunting is usually an omega’s greatest skill.”

She snorts, amused by him. “Most new staff don’t get a piece in the paper until at least the fifth issue of the school year. You’ve got yours in the first. Congratulations.”

He blushes a bit. Praise from alphas is one of those things that’s really hard not to preen under, even for an omega as vastly embittered as he is.

“It’s funny. I sort of expected you to go full bleeding heart on me. You know,” she leans back in her chair with a creak, “kill all alphas now. That sort of a thing.”

He shakes his head. “I’m more interested in telling my side of the story. Alphas get enough attention as it is.”

She smiles. She is really really pretty, Stiles thinks, and there goes the omega in him talking again. If he didn’t already have a crush, it would probably be her. “Well, go on. Your work for the week is done,” she shoos him away, and Stiles is relieved. He had promised Scott that he would be there for lacrosse practice, because it’s almost time for the first game of the season, and apparently he needs people to cheer him on.

The field is on this side of the school, so he only has to exit the newsroom and then go out a side door, and then he can see it. He walks quickly and squints against the sunlight, tugging down on the straps of his backpack.

He finds Allison sitting near the bottom of the bleachers, pretty close to the bench with all of the players’ Gatorades and bags. When she sees him she perks up, waving at him with a very big smile. She really does like him.

“So, are you a published writer?” She asks him, leaning her chin in her palm.

“I am, if you can believe it,” he sets his bag down and sits right next to her, shoulder to shoulder. “Maybe I won’t be trapped in a kitchen for the rest of my life.”

She nudges him hard in the side. “You are too much of a smartass to be some shitty alpha’s kept omega.”

Stiles knows it. He doesn’t want to be some shitty alpha’s kept omega. But he kinda wants to be Derek Hale’s kept omega. That’s a comment he will keep to himself.

Speak of the devil, Derek is standing not twenty feet away from them. He’s got a lacrosse stick in his hand that he’s rhythmically beating into the grass, more out of habit than anything else, and he glances in Stiles’ direction. They meet eyes.

Stiles goes red and looks down. He remembers his dream again and he doesn’t want Derek to know – like, Derek will be able to tell just from looking at Stiles that Stiles has filth in his head about him, or something.

Allison notices. Betas tend to notice a lot. She nudges him again and says, “he’s so cute.”

“He’s not,” he shakes his head, feigning ignorance. “He is a pain in the ass.”

“I bet he is.”

“Yikes.”

“Yikes,” she agrees, eyebrows raised high.

“Let’s just watch – the whatever the hell we’re supposed to be watching,” he gestures to the field, where they are all still pretty much just standing around. “Fascinating stuff, here. Alphas standing.”

“This is most of what lacrosse is,” she shrugs. Then she gestures to her lap, where she’s got a book sitting. “I always bring spare entertainment.”

Scott is elated to see that Stiles has come to watch him standing around. He waves over the top and grins before he shoves his head into his helmet, and Stiles sighs and thinks that Scott is lucky he’s cute. Otherwise, Stiles would be just about anywhere but here, right now, watching alphas knock each other around. He also notices that the shitty alpha who grabbed his ass the other day is there, but he’s sitting on the bench and looking remarkably pissed off about it. When he turns and catches Stiles looking, he immediately averts his gaze and then nervously flicks his eyes over to Derek, as though to make sure he hadn’t been caught looking.

Stiles grins.

They start doing practice stuff. Throwing the ball with their sticks and running around. Stiles has absolutely no clue what the rules of any single sports games are – he knows baseball, because before he was an omega, he was on teams as a kid. But lacrosse is another game entirely. The goal seems to be hit each other as hard as possible won’t that be fun? That’s generally what alphas are into anyway, so he checks out mentally ten minutes in.

He doesn’t even get to watch Derek do anything. Since he’s team captain and has proven himself good at the game, he mostly just stands there and watches, talking to coach. He glances at Stiles every so often, which Stiles tries to ignore – but hell. Would it kill Derek to get sweaty? For Stiles’ sake?

Abruptly, there is a big sweaty alpha in Stiles’ line of sight. And it is unfortunately not Derek. It’s one of the others Stiles does not have a name for. “You’re Stiles, right?” He asks.

Stiles nods absentmindedly. “Yes.”

An alpha hand sticks out to him. It’s also sweaty. Stiles grimaces and takes it with two fingers, barely shaking it, like he’s picking up a wet piece of food he found at the bottom of the sink. Allison snorts and then covers her mouth to stifle the sound, but the alpha barely notices her. “I’m Jackson Whittemore.”

“Uh huh.”

“You’re in my chemistry class.”

“Oh?”

“I sit a few over from you,” unbelievably, he hefts his leg up. He sticks his foot on the bottom bleacher so his shorts ride up – they hug him just right, so Stiles can see the outline of his dick. He looks at it, blinks, and then looks at Jackson’s face, bored. “You’re on the newspaper, huh?” He gestures at Stiles’ pin. Before Stiles can confirm or deny this, he keeps talking. “My ex girlfriend is the editor. Ex as in, we are no longer together. So I’m single,” he leers at Stiles.

Stiles looks somewhere at an imaginary camera and sighs. Jackson is harmless. He’s just horny. Over Jackson’s head, he catches Derek glaring in their direction with a frown, but Stiles ignores that in favor of shooting Allison a look.

She’s smiling. She thinks this is funny.

“You know, coach is actually thinking about making me a co-captain.”

“With Derek?”

“Yeah. Good friend of mine, actually.”

“Derek is your good friend?”

“Well. We’re on the team together.” Which means Derek likely hates Jackson’s guts. Stiles may not know a whole ton about Derek, but he’d bet a million dollars that Derek does not like Jackson. If coach does make Jackson co-captain, Derek will probably eat his lacrosse gloves just to get out of having to work with him that closely.

“Look, we’re kinda trying to watch, so…”

“Oh, right,” he stands up straight, removing his leg from the bleacher.

“See you in chemistry,” Stiles waves sarcastically at him, and Jackson, oblivious, waves right back. He goes trotting back to the bench and is probably thinking to himself that now he’s got an in with the hot omega, when really, Stiles was bored of him the second he laid eye on the guy. “Jesus. Poor Lydia.”

“They’re actually good together. He’s probably trying to get with you just to make her jealous,” she waves her hand, like it’s irrelevant, “they’ll be back together before you know it. They’re always breaking up and getting back together.”

Stiles leans back and tries to get back into watching them run around – but it’s just not that interesting. He keeps his eyes on Scott, but even that gets old after a while. Scott is good, but he’s not a world class athlete or anything.

He sighs and announces he’s going to the rest room, while Allison nods him off. Up he goes, down the bleachers to the main building. He goes in through the locker room entrance, spilling out into the hallway where the bathroom is only a few doors down.

A hand grabs him by his upper arm and stops him short. He turns to find Derek Hale - he’s tanned by the sun, sweat on his brow, and he’s frowning. He wastes no time on hellos, and just gets right down to the meat of the issue. “What was Jackson saying to you?”

“What?” Stiles turns all the way to face him, furrowing his brow.

Derek frowns even more deeply. “Jackson. What was he – was he hitting on you?” Jealousy. Stiles reads it loud and clear, and he bristles.

“Uh, yeah. He was. Not that it’s any of your –“

“That guy is a douchebag,” he barks, confirming Stiles’ earlier suspicion that Derek hates his guts. “You don’t want anything to do with him.”

Stiles makes a face and scoffs. “What are you, telling me I can’t talk to other alphas?”

“I didn’t say that,” he moves closer. It’s inadvertent. Stiles gets a deep breath of alpha sweat and cologne and it clouds his head for a second, but he shakes that off. “Just. I don’t know. I didn’t like him talking to you.”

“We are not dating,” he gestures in between their bodies. They are close. Stiles can feel the heat off of Derek’s body and he blinks rapidly, feeling it get to him, then shaking that off, too. Or, trying his best to. It creeps up his spine. “You can’t tell me not to –“

“I am not telling you anything. It made me jealous, I admit it, I’m an asshole. I was just asking what he said to you.”

Stiles takes a deep breath. Alpha. Sweat. Cologne. Derek. His gym shorts, his tight Beacon Prep grey t-shirt on his broad shoulders. He can’t think of a comeback.

“I’m sorry, I’m being a dick,” he shakes his head, like he’s angry at himself. His hair moves, and Stiles watches. His throat feels itchy. “I’m an alpha. I know you’re not – we are not – you said we can’t, and I respect that. I respect you.”

“I –“ Stiles has to lean up against the wall. He presses his hand to his face and it’s hot. He feels hot all over.

“I think about you all the time,” he murmurs this, and Stiles closes his eyes and he feels light headed. “Do you think if maybe I asked your dad first, if … whoa. You okay?”

Stiles is seeing white around the edges of his vision. He’s fully against the wall, his entire weight, and his body is pricking all over with heat. He’s sweating, immediate and feverish, and Derek looks him up and down. He says, “you look –“ then he stops.

Sniffs the air. And his eyes go big. He goes stiff and still, and that’s when Stiles knows what’s happening. Why he’s weak out of nowhere, why he can’t think straight, why his vision is going blurry.

It’s his heat. He has at least half the presence of mind to think that it wasn’t due for another two weeks, it’s too early, he already put in his absence forms for school and everything – but then the rest of him is overtaken by pure blind panic.

He’s in heat. Out in the open. With an alpha he barely knows standing five feet away from him. If that.

He jerks away and makes a valiant effort of making a break for it, but he can’t. He flops breathless against the wall and tries to get his bearings. What side of the school is this? How far from the parking lot is he? What are the odds of him running into an alpha from here to his Jeep? He can’t drive like this, he can barely walk like this, but he has to get the hell out of here -

“Stiles,” a voice says, and there is an alpha trying to touch him. He recoils viciously, practically snarling.

“Stay away,” he snaps, hugging his arms against himself to make himself smaller, to hide the scent of his heat that must be pouring out of every square inch of his skin. “Don’t touch me, don’t, don’t –“

He moves forward. He can barely see straight. The world is tilted on its axis and Stiles is out in the open. Panic. Anxiety. Heat curling up in his gut.

Two hands on him. Stiles backs away, into a door that swings open, so he falls back, onto the floor. He slides away on his hands, looking up. It’s Derek Hale. He can see that much.

He looks so big. He’s hovering over Stiles and he’s speaking, but Stiles can’t hear what he’s saying. Stiles says, “don’t come any closer, I mean it,” and he’s making these big, panicked, sobbing sounds. He’s crying. He hadn’t realized that before. “Don’t. Don’t. Stay away from me –“

Derek moves closer. At this point he’s just a black mass of alpha, alpha, alpha, and Stiles is petrified. He moves as fast as he can away, away, and Derek just follows him.

Panic. Stiles cries and screams and he remembers being fourteen. The trauma comes immediate – he remembers going into heat at the mall, alphas everywhere, trying to touch him, trying to get on top of him, his screaming, begging them not to, his father having to physically fight them away from his son.

Stay away from me,” he screams, moving back. He hits a wall. He has nowhere else to go, and Derek is still coming towards him. He knows he’s drifting out of himself. He knows the part where he stops fighting it and just gives into it is coming, and he shakes and hugs the wall. “Just don’t hurt me,” he begs. “Just don’t – don’t - don’t make me –“

Derek is talking to him, but it’s just noise. Alpha voice. He still smells like cologne and sweat and Stiles likes that. A big hand touches him on his back, gentle, and Stiles likes that, too. He’s crying still, his face wet, his body burning, and he reaches out.

Hard, hairy skin. Stiles grabs on and pants. “Help me,” he says, mindless. “I can’t – I can’t –“

Alpha talking to him. It’s all fuzzy. All he can think about is alpha, right here, right in front of him, and he craves. Like badly. Like needing water in the desert bad. Like if he doesn’t get it he’ll scream bad. Like he can’t survive if he doesn’t get it. He wants it.

He grabs, mindless, and he gets pushed away. Again, he reaches out, and he’s pushed away. His hands held down. He wails and sobs and begs, but he’s held down firm, hard, no hope of moving.

It’s all a blur, after that.

**

He comes to in the nurse’s office. His head is throbbing, his throat is as dry as sand paper, and he’s stiff. That’s what he notices first. He blinks up at the pink ceiling and frowns. He’s very, very confused.

He sits up and he groans. That hurts. Everywhere pretty much hurts. His arms, his legs, his head, his whole body. He presses his palm to his head and grunts, swinging his legs over the edge of the cot.

“You’re up,” a cheery voice says. He looks over and sees a blonde woman with pink lipstick and a pink shirt on, leering at him from a desk. This is baffling. “You really went through it for a minute, there.”

She’s standing and walking over to him. She has a bottle of water in one hand, and a palm full of Advil in the other. He’s never been more grateful to see these two things in all of his life. He rips the water out of her hand and scarfs all four pills at once, swallowing them as fast as he can chug water.

“Hydrate up!”

He stops. Rubs the back of his hand across his mouth. “What happened? Did I faint?”

She gives him a gentle smile. “Well,” she starts, voice a bit tight. “I took the liberty of checking in at the office. They told me you put in heat absences for a couple weeks from now.”

Stiles nods. Then, it hits him. The memory comes back like a ton of bricks, and he thinks he may actually faint this time.

He was talking to Derek in the hallway. Derek was right there. They were just standing there one second, and the next, Stiles was…

He covers his face. Both hands. “Oh, god.”

“It’s all right. Everything is fine.”

“Oh, my god.”

“Have you ever heard of false heats before?”

“Oh, my god.”

“It’s okay.”

“Oh, my god. In front of…”

He pulls his hands off of his face. She’s still smiling at him. So nothing that bad must have happened. He has heard horror stories of omegas going into heats, even false heats, in crowded places before; hell, he even lived through a version of that when he first presented.

He’d rather not get into specifics of what happens after.

“It’s all fine. My guess is that since yours is so close and you’re a virgin…”

“How could you possibly know that?” He demands, humiliated.

She makes a noise of disgruntlement, maybe. She admits, sheepishly, “…it’s in your files.”

He stares at her. She looks at the ground for a moment, embarrassed for him maybe. “Those fucks have it on file that I’m a virgin.” It makes him want to throw up. There’s no reason grown adult alphas in charge of his education need to know if he’s had sex before. He feels violated. To them, it’s just information from his doctor that they have a right to know, because as an omega, the status of his virginity is as crucial as whether or not he has the appropriate vaccines to be in school.

“My point is, since your heat is coming up and you’re – you’re a virgin, and you were talking to Derek Hale, it just sort of…” she makes a tumbling motion with her hands. Yes. Spiraled out of his control, is what she means.

His body acted of its own volition. In a way, Stiles should not be surprised. He’s had dreams of kissing Derek for fuck’s sake. He jerked off thinking about the guy in his god damn shower. He thinks about him and told his mother about him. Of course his stupid little omega body said if you won’t do him, I will.

He remembers the sweat. How Derek looked in his tight t-shirt. He palms his beet red face and thinks about melting into a puddle on the floor.

“You are lucky it was Mr. Hale,” she assures him very sincerely. “Such a gentleman, that one.”

He fixes her with a glare. She’s perfectly nice. But he is this fucking close to killing her in this moment. “What do you mean.”

She hands him a cold compress, that he immediately presses to his head. “He stayed with you and made sure none of those alphas got within twenty feet of you, until we were able to get enough betas to get you here. He’s still waiting outside for you.”

Stiles keeps the compress against his forehead and he blinks. Oh.

He remembers thinking Derek was going to force himself on Stiles. And he feels awful for thinking that, like a piece of shit, like he deserves hell for thinking that for even one second. Logically, he knows it was fair of him to feel that way. But it’s … he feels horrible.

The nurse checks his vitals and asks him some questions, just to be sure the false heat is totally done and over with and that it’s not going to happen again anytime soon. She deems him safe and healthy, filling out a pink form on a clipboard that he then has to sign for her. “I don’t blame you,” she winks, “he is very cute.”

He is. Stiles shakes his head and signs the form. He certainly is.

She lets Scott in to see him while he waits for his parents to come pick him up, because apparently he’s too weak to drive himself home, now, which may be fair. As soon as he’s in the room he launches himself at Stiles and hugs him tight, a relieved sigh spilling out of him like water.

“When someone told me you were in heat, my heart went straight to my ass,” he says, pulling back to look Stiles in the face. “I thought, this is it. This is the day. I’ll have to fight alphas to the death in my best friend’s honor. It was horrifying.”

Stiles laughs. Scott 1,000% would have fought tooth and nail, had it come down to that. Stiles is lucky beyond lucky that it didn’t.

“Oh, man.” He hugs Stiles again. “Don’t do that to me ever again. You are so fucking lucky Derek was there and not some – some –“

“The nurse said the same thing,” he bites his lip, still cradling his cold compress. “She says he stayed with me?”

Scott nods. “Dude. I don’t want to embarrass you. But you were – I heard it. You were begging him to fuck you. And he just.” Didn’t.

Stiles imagines the amount of self control that must have gone into that. It’s one thing to restrain one’s self from an omega in heat – the scent, the enticement, the sex, all of it.

It’s another to restrain one’s self from an omega in heat that’s fucking panting for it. For you. He can’t imagine. He cannot fathom what it must have been like.

“You kept saying you were going to die if he didn’t. And man, he wanted to. I saw it in his face,” he points to his own face. “He held you down and he kept saying no.”

Stiles stares at the ground. “I’m so humiliated.”

“No, no, no. Stiles, it’s natural. It wasn’t you. Derek isn’t mad or anything. He –“ he leans in close, “I think he loves you.”

Stiles makes a face and rolls his eyes. “He loves the idea of me, maybe.”

“A forbidden love,” he raises an eyebrow.

“A dead body in my front lawn when my dad finds out.”

“Not after he hears about this. The great big alpha who protected his son from being attacked in the locker room.” He taps his temple. “Think about it.”

Stiles does think about it. He thinks about it all the way up until his parents actually show up.

His mother comes in first, grabbing him and holding him up against her and saying thank god nothing happened, thank god, thank god. His dad stands back and looks angry, which is par for the course for that guy.

“You look sick,” he tells Stiles, pressing his palm to Stiles’ forehead. “Are you still feeling sick?” His dad always calls his heats sick.

“I wasn’t sick,” he says, irritated. “I just had an episode. I’m fine. Can we go now?”

“Yes,” his mom says, helping him down from the table and clutching him, like she’s petrified to let him go. “Let’s go home. We’ll order pizza, how about? And ice cream?”

“Okay,” he agrees, leaning into her.

They go out into the hall. As soon as the door opens and Stiles is stepping foot into the hallway, Derek jumps up from where he had been sitting on a bench outside, waiting. It’s almost seven o’clock at night now – meaning he’s been sitting there for at least two entire hours, waiting, and waiting, just to catch a glimpse of Stiles.

He stares. He looks incredibly disheveled, way way more than Stiles has ever seen him look. His clothes are askew and his hair is a mess and he’s got bloodshot eyes. Stiles looks back and then quickly averts his eyes when he catches his dad looking, too.

Scott, bless his heart, decides to pipe up. “This is the alpha that kept everyone away from Stiles,” he practically shouts.

Stiles wants to turn tail and run. He doesn’t want his dad to know Derek exists, that Derek has been near him, that Derek has touched him.

That Derek was in the room, when Stiles went into heat.

The Sheriff levels Derek with a cool, hard, stare. It’s silent. Derek looks like he isn’t sure if he should leave or stay, and he can’t help himself, it seems, from looking at Stiles. Which doesn’t help his case, not in the least bit. Everyone notices him looking. He is not very subtle.

He clears his throat. He puts his hand out. “Derek Hale,” he introduces himself to Stiles’ dad, and Stiles seriously thinks about faking a fainting episode to escape this entire thing. He wants to grab Scott by his neck and strangle him for saying a single fucking word.

“Derek Hale,” his mom repeats. Her eyes are big. She’s looking right at him. She knows who he is. Stiles told her, after all. “Oh.”

His dad still hasn’t taken his hand. It hangs there in between them. Stiles gets ready to fall to the floor like a fish.

But, his dad takes the hand. Shakes it. He says, “good of you to watch after my son.”

They are still shaking. Stiles can tell from here that the Sheriff is squeezing too hard. Alpha posturing.

Derek says, “of course.”

They are still. Shaking. Hands. Stiles pointedly clears his throat.

The shaking stops, but they do not release each other’s hands. They are staring at one another. Claudia laughs nervously like it’s funny, while Scott looks between the two of them again and again, anxious. “If you’re ever alone with my son again when he goes into heat –“

“Maybe let’s not threaten teenage boys,” his mom says, tugging on her husband’s arm.

“No, it’s fine,” he says back, keeping his eyes on Derek. “…I don’t know what you did to him to make that happen to him –“

Dad.”

“…stay away from my kid. You hear me?”

Derek is dumbfounded. He clearly had not expected this. But the fact is, his father is not a fucking idiot. They called him and explicitly told him that Stiles went into a false heat on account of being alone with some fucking alpha boy.

He’s not stupid.

They release hands. Derek looks at Stiles, eyes big in his head, and figures he maybe shouldn’t say anything else.

As they turn to walk away, Stiles says, “he didn’t do anything to me, he was just standing there. I’m the one who ruined his fucking night not the other way around!”

“You can’t control yourself,” his dad hisses at him in a low voice, and Stiles is taken aback. By the dismissiveness in his tone.

Like Stiles is just a stupid animal. Driven by instinct alone. Like he really is just meant to be a fuck toy. And he can’t help himself.

Stiles looks over his shoulder. Derek is still just standing there, watching him go, hands on his hips. Stiles feels so bad, because Derek had done everything right, and now they’re not even allowed to speak to one another.

“Mom?” He tries, but she just shoots him a look that says be quiet, so he does. Scott is quietly stunned as they walk, like that hadn’t been what he expected either. He thought the Sheriff would hug Derek and announce him as a second son or something, most likely.

In the parking lot, his dad gruffly announces that he’ll drive Stiles’ Jeep home for him, taking the keys from Stiles without another word.

In his mother’s car, with Scott in the backseat, Stiles unleashes. “How come you just stood there and let him talk to Derek like he did something wrong?”

“Stiles,” she sounds exhausted. She probably is. “Tell me the truth. You told me there’s nothing going on with that boy. Is that true?”

Stiles looks out the window.

“You went into a false heat just from talking to him. I need to know right now if he –“

“No,” he crosses his arms over his chest. Scott is mute silent in the backseat. “I just – want him to. That’s all.”

She rests her forehead on her steering wheel. “Oh, honey.”

“If I may interject,” Scott starts from the back. “…Derek Hale is not a bad guy.”

“I figured that from the way he had every opportunity to take advantage of Stiles and didn’t, yes.” She pulls her head off the wheel and stares at the night sky. “That is not the issue.”

“If he’s not a bad alpha then how come Stiles can’t –“

“It’s any alpha,” Stiles says, voice low. His mother nods. “It doesn’t matter. I told you that.”

It doesn’t matter.

After a beat or two, his mom sighs. She gives Stiles a look. “He is very cute.”

“Yeah,” he agrees. He blushes and looks away.

“I will not tell your father. Especially not now,” she puts it in reverse and starts backing out, shaking her head. “He wants that kid’s head on a pike.”

**

Stiles knows that his heats are getting worse. And he knows it’s because he’s a virgin, and because he wants Derek extra extra badly, and because his body wants Derek extra extra badly, and that if he doesn’t do something about that, he’ll keep going into false heats. At school.

Derek will not always be there to keep other alphas away. There are alphas in this school who would leap at the opportunity to take advantage of him. He is sure of it. This is not a conversation he can have with Scott. Or Allison. Or even his parents. They wouldn’t get it, or they’d think he was exaggerating, but he knows he’s right.

On Monday morning, instead of going to homeroom, he goes to the omega clinic. He goes through security and shows his omega ID, which gets scanned by a beta girl that smacks bubble gum in Stiles’ face. She has a gun and a taser on her belt.

In the lobby, the security guards look him up and down. They recognize him. Some wave or nod their heads at him. He does come here three times a year, after all.

Stacy is at the front desk today, and Stiles is relieved that it’s her - she is an overly friendly beta girl with blue hair and long nails that Stiles knows he can have a real conversation with. That he can trust won’t go around telling anyone else about it, most importantly.

He approaches her desk and she grins at him. “Stiles, you’re early,” she looks down her glasses at him. Then she goes to her computer screen and clicks a bit. “You’re not scheduled until next week.”

“I actually came to talk to you.”

“To me?” She smiles wider. “Asking me on a date, finally?”

“Unfortunately not,” he smiles ruefully.

She snaps her fingers. “Drats.”

“Um…can I ask you something? Sort of…off the record?”

She leans forward, pressing her chin into both of her palms. “Absolutely you can, angel. What is it?”

He hesitates. He looks over his shoulder at where the guards are, and they seem wholly uninterested in these proceedings. And there is no one else around to overhear. He clears his throat and looks back at her. “So. I’m eighteen now. I was wondering if that meant – if I checked an alpha in with me for my heat, does that mean you wouldn’t have to tell my parents?”

She leans back. She smiles at him. But, she shakes her head. “Age is nothing for omegas. Everyone else gets to be a legal adult at eighteen, but unfortunately, omegas are still under the dependency of their alphas. In your case, your father. We have a legal obligation.”

Stiles’ heart sinks. He figured. But that fucking sucks. He says, “oh.”

“But,” she raises a single pink finger in the air. “If you did, hypothetically, have an alpha. And you did, hypothetically, want to bring said alpha in, without your father knowing about it,” she slides a green form across the top of the desk in his direction, “then you’d simply have to have your alpha-friend sign this confidentiality agreement.”

Stiles observes this form. It’s a non-disclosure type of agreement – there’s a space for a member of the center to sign, and then a space for an alpha to sign.

“If you got this signed, we wouldn’t have to tell a single soul that you brought anyone here. Not even your crazy dad.”

Stiles rubs the back of his neck. “But it says I need a senior team member to sign.”

She smiles at him. From underneath her sweater she pulls out her clearance card, with a picture of her on it, her name, and a blue dot with senior team member written across it.

Stiles is ecstatic. “Seriously? You’d sign for me?”

“Not all of us are weirdo alpha types like your dad,” she gestures around to the center, “some of us actually, you know, study omega biology? And we’re well aware that just banning any and all alphas from coming within ten feet of omegas isn’t exactly healthy. You’re eighteen. You need to have an alpha heat partner, or you’re going to start having thirteen heats a year.”

Stiles shivers at the sheer idea of that. Three heats a year is nightmarish enough. Thirteen? He’d rather eat his own shit and die.

Without waiting for confirmation, she grabs the form from Stiles and scribbles her signature in the appropriate space with a flourish, before handing it back to him. “Now, you get your alpha to sign that,” then she digs around for another piece of paper on her desk, coming up with a purple one, “and get all of these things from them and get them to us at least three days before your heat, and we’re in business.”

He takes both papers and stares at them for a moment. “And you swear my dad will never know?”

“On my soul,” she nods.

At school, he finds Derek in the hall.

He’s not hard to find. Stiles knows where his locker is, now, has an idea of his class schedule and everything. He’s exactly where Stiles expects him to be – in B Hall, on his free period, with his familiar looking alpha friends. The blond girl is in his economics class, and the big guy is on the lacrosse team, and the tall lanky one is on the paper with him. He may not know their names, but he’s familiar with them.

They all stop and stare when they see him coming. After all, it is no secret to anyone, especially not Derek’s own friends, what happened at school on Friday afternoon. Everyone has been talking about it all day.

The things he’s overheard, he would much rather not repeat.

Derek looks at him and straightens up. He pulls down on his blazer and then runs a hand through his hair, like he’s checking to make sure it’s still in place, like he likes it to be.

He approaches warily. He has his glasses on, and he adjusts them as he comes to a stop, giving the others a thin smile. “Hi,” he says.

The blond girl sort of winces at him in lieu of a smile. “You’re not going to tell us to eat shit, this time?”

He frowns, looking at each of them individually. They are looking at him like they do not like him, not one bit, and Stiles bristles like a taunted alligator. He straightens up, squares his shoulders, and sneers at them. “I might.”

“Do you need something?” The big guy interrupts. Stiles shakes off his need to be a bitch to them, because he actually does need something, and he nervously fidgets with his glasses again.

“Can I – can I please speak to you?” He says to Derek. “…alone?”

“Yes,” he agrees instantly, stepping away from his friends like they are dead to him now that he has Stiles’ attention. They stare at Derek as he moves to leave, frowning and rolling their eyes like they’re irritated by these proceedings, irritated by Stiles, in general. Stiles can’t help but wonder how much that Derek has told his friends about what’s going on between them. If anything.

Stiles guides him to a classroom he knows will be empty, gestures for him to go inside. Derek does, and Stiles closes the door behind them with a hard slam.

They stand there in the dark room, the only light offered what’s filtering in from the windows. It’s sort of romantic in a way, in the dim light, and that’s an insane thought. A total omega-slut thought. Stiles tamps it down, and clears his throat. “Um… so. We haven’t gotten to talk since…”

Derek folds his arms over his chest and leans up against the empty teacher’s desk, smirking. “Since your dad said he’d kill me, yes. It’s funny. I sorta thought you were exaggerating about that.”

“Oh, I wasn’t.”

“You were not,” he agrees.

“That’s not even what I wanted to talk about. I mean, I’m sorry he said all that to you. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I mean, I am. Sorry. Because he sucks. But what I wanted to,” he swallows, thick, the air in the room heavy, and he gets worried he’ll go into heat again. Just from being alone with Derek Hale. “….what you did. For me. Maybe my parents won’t say it, but I will. Thank you. It…you can’t imagine.”

Derek looks at him. His expression is unreadable. He frowns and then he clears his throat, shaking his head a bit. “You’re thanking me for not raping you?”

“No, I –“ he goes red. “No. I mean. Yes. Sort of.”

Derek looks mad. This is not the reaction Stiles expected. “Because I’m such a deranged asshole, it must have taken a whole lot of self control to not force myself on you after you explicitly told me you didn’t want me to touch you?”

“No,” he frantically waves his hands. “You’re misunderstanding. You’re misunderstanding me. Just…” he scuffs his feet on the carpeted floor. “…not everyone would have done that. Lots of people think – they think an omega’s mindless heat is consent enough. You know that.”

“I don’t think that.”

“I know. I know that now. You are different than what I expected you to be.” He fiddles his fingers. “Look. I’m in this situation, where my father is controlling my life because he thinks he knows what’s best for me. But, he doesn’t. And I’m terrified? Of … going into heat in this school with no warning and – and – not having you there. Because it’s possible. Because I’m.” He scratches at his cheek and looks away. “I am a virgin.”

“Whoa.” That catches Derek’s attention. He stands up straight, shaking his head. “No, you’re not.”

Stiles breathes through his nose, squelches down the humiliation, and nods. “I am.”

Derek stares at him. “Oh, no. You look like that, and you’re a virgin? No.”

“My dad has been very strict. I’m not even allowed to have heat partners.”

What? Not even…?”

Not even betas. Not even other omegas.

“And it’s just getting worse, and worse. I need – I need someone to help me. Because if I don’t, if I don’t get someone, I’m going to keep getting false heats, and then I’ll….”

Derek is angry, again. “Why don’t you just tell your dad that you’re going to get yourself killed if you don’t get a heat partner?”

“He wouldn’t believe me.”

“Everyone knows that,” he bursts out. “Everyone knows omegas need heat partners, otherwise it’s…miserable.”

It has been miserable. Stiles’ heats are mythic. It’s like dying for three days straight. “He thinks it’s a lie perpetuated by alphas who want to turn omegas into sex toys.”

Derek breathes out through his nose. He apparently can’t think of anything to say to that.

“My point is. I haven’t trusted anyone enough to…and even if I had, my dad would find out, and he’d go ballistic. But I went today and it turns out there’s a loop hole. So my dad never has to know.”

“What are we getting at here?”

Stiles smooths his sweaty hands out on his pants. He wills himself to just ask, because Derek will say yes, he’s certain, but he’s never asked anyone this before, and he doesn’t know the script.

He takes in a deep breath. Lets it out, slowly. “I’m asking you to be my heat partner.”

“Yup,” Derek immediately agrees. He doesn’t even pause for a millisecond to consider it. Even though Stiles just said his dad will kill him, just said that it has to be secret, just said all of that – he barely blinks. “I will do that.”

Stiles blushes. “Okay.”

They stare at one another. There’s this understanding between them, that they’re going to have sex, and it just sits there in the air and neither of them want to poke it with a stick. Or, at least, Stiles doesn’t. Derek seems eager to start poking, actually.

“If we’re going to have sex, can I kiss you, now?”

Stiles takes a step back, away from him, and Derek frowns. “No, I might - go into –“

“Just that would do it?”

Stiles scoffs. “Just you being sweaty and looking at me did it, last time. Let’s not tempt fate.”

“Fate,” Derek repeats, smirking. “Oh, we are definitely fate. I feel it when you look at me.”

Stiles doesn’t know what to do with that, or what to think about it, or if he agrees. He knows that he feels something when Derek looks at him, too, but it’s dangerous to feel that way, so he mostly pretends he doesn’t notice it.

“And you cannot tell anybody about this.”

“Uh, what?” He deflates a bit, shoulders sagging in disappointment. “I can’t brag?”

Stiles wants to beat him with a newspaper like a bad dog. “Derek,” he presses his hands together and steps closer, “my dad looked you in the eye and told you he’d kill you. He does not bluff. Put your ego away and keep the god damn secret.”

Derek laughs. He grins and he laughs and he agrees. “Whatever you want.”

Stiles wants Derek. He wants Derek so bad he’d do anything to get him. It’s a good thing that Derek does not ask for much.

This whole thing is the worst idea that Stiles has ever fucking had in his life. Derek’s got a price on him, just like Stiles has a price on him. They will pay.

The only question is when.

**

Talia Hale fumbles a plate into soapy sink water when she sees Stiles walk into her kitchen.

Derek must have said he was bringing a friend over, and did not elaborate. He did not mention the fact that this ‘friend’ is an omega that looks like he stepped off the set of a high class porn and smells like some kind of fancy perfume.

He had insisted on Stiles coming over after school so they could talk more about this entire, you know – them having clandestine sex thing. Stiles is certain that this is all being done in his mother’s house under the guise of a mysterious “school project.” As for him, he had to tell his parents he was staying after school for a club he’s thinking about joining. It’s a good thing he has never lied to his parents so they suspect him of nothing, otherwise, he’d never get away with any of this.

Talia clears her throat and grabs for the plate fruitlessly, while one of Derek’s beta sisters that Stiles vaguely recognizes from school, leaning up against a counter chomping into an apple with her uniform shirt untucked, just nods her head and says, “yup.”

Yup. Stiles seriously looks like that.

“Ah,” Talia pulls her dish washing gloves off of her hands and lays them on the counter. She is looking at Stiles like she’s checking for evidence of him being a hooker of some kind. “Derek, this is your –“

“Friend,” he finishes her sentence. “Not even, really. More like classmate. Barely know him.”

Stiles stays impassive. “Your house is beautiful,” he comments. Talia is flustered by him. She’s a grown woman, and she’s flustered by him. An alpha is still an alpha, after all.

“Thank you,” she says, tone even and measured.

“You have great taste. Love the wallpaper.”

Talia stares at her son, because it may be a bit overwhelming to look at Stiles. She wants to grab Derek and shake him and demand to know right here and now if Derek is fucking this omega, if they’re going to mate, what the hell is going on here – after all, most omega/alpha pairs get married before they’re even out of high school, so it wouldn’t be unheard of for her to wonder.

She will not ask any of that. But she wants to. She will do so the second Stiles is no longer in this house.

“My mother says hello,” he goes on.

“Your mother.” She seems dumbfounded.

“Claudia. Stilinski.”

She stares at him some more, head to toe. “You’re Stiles Stilinski? Jesus, the last time I saw you, you were...” a beta. And a baby, too, probably. Oh, to be that beta baby again…

“Welp,” Derek pops his lips on the p. “We are going to go upstairs and do that school project.”

He turns, and Stiles follows suit. At their retreating backs, even as they’re going up the carpeted stairs, Talia shouts, “with the door open. Do you hear me? I just washed those sheets, Derek Hale. Door. Open.”

“Door open,” he calls back without even looking over his shoulder.

There are pictures of the Hale kids lining the stairs for the most part, but there is also a bizarre number of, of all things on earth, framed magazine covers and articles with pictures of food. It must have something to do with what Talia Hale does for a living, but Stiles has no idea what profession that could possibly be.

They go down the hall. Derek opens up a door at the end and gestures for Stiles to go on ahead of him. It’s his bedroom, Stiles realizes. It’s almost too much for Stiles’ eyeballs to take in all at once. He has blue sheets. His bed is huge, really huge, the hugest thing in the room. There are dirty clothes everywhere, probably sweaty clothes, like the ones Derek was wearing the other day that made Stiles go into a false heat. It reeks like him in there, like alpha, like sex, and –

“I can’t go in there.”

Derek blinks at him.

“I’ll… I’ll go into heat.”

Now, Derek smirks. He leans back against the wall beside his door and he just leers, grinning like the cat who got the cream. “You want me so bad.”

Stiles grits his teeth.

“It’s cool,” he sweeps his eyes up and down Stiles’ body. “I am intimately familiar with the feeling of wanting something that bad.”

“Another room. Please.”

“Your wish is my command.” He closes the door to his bedroom and heads down the hall, back to the stairs. Stiles follows him the entire way, watching his backpack move as he goes.

Down there, his mother is watching them. She’s got her hands on her hips. She observes Stiles with a sharp eye, like she’s searching him for imperfections, blemishes. There aren’t any.

They go to another door, a set of stairs that goes down, this time, and then they’re in the basement. It’s a redone basement, with blue walls and nice carpets underfoot – a big television with an Xbox and a PlayStation, a sectional couch, a coffee table.

“It’s a little cold down here,” Derek tells him as he takes his backpack off and sets it on the ground. “If you get chilly, I have a sweater you can borrow.”

Oh, the thrill Derek would get out of putting Stiles in one of his sweatshirts. He shakes his head and says he’s fine, putting his own backpack down, before he sits down on the couch. It is cold down here. But he cannot put on Derek’s clothes, for his own safety. “So, you wanted to what? Go over it? It’s sort of a natural thing. I kinda thought that you would know how.”

Derek unzips his backpack and sits down on the floor. Then, he starts pulling out books. Book after book, all of them with something about omegas and heat in the title. He thumps them all onto his coffee table and then looks Stiles in the eyes. “I’ve been doing research. Did you know an omega’s first penetration can be incredibly painful if you don’t do it right? I bet you’re glad I know that.”

Stiles gapes at him, completely bamboozled. The word penetration has him feeling like he just stepped into an oven. His skin prickles and his mouth waters, and that makes him feel gross, so he shakes it off.

“Did you also know that with an appropriate partner a male omega can orgasm over fifty times in one day?”

“I did not know that,” he confesses. He’s red. Derek delivers this information clinically, like he’s a doctor at the center wearing rubber gloves and a white coat, and not a teenaged alpha. He needs to change the subject away from penetration and orgasms now, right now, because he’s going to lose his fucking mind if he doesn’t. “My heats are long. Like, three days long.”

Derek frowns. “Because your dad is a sexist asshole and forces you to –“

“Derek. Come on,” he warns, voice low. “So you brought me here to rattle off heat trivia at me?”

“Oh, not even that,” he leans back on his hands, grinning some more, “I brought you here so I could look at you.”

“Don’t be gross.”

“How’s it gross? You’re so pretty.”

“So you’ve said and so I know. I’ve told you I can’t be alone with you without fear of going into heat, and apparently you can’t be trusted to take that seriously.”

“Okay, I’ll take it seriously,” he sits up straight and puts on a serious face, and Stiles sighs. “What are your heats usually like? Just to give me an idea.”

“Well. To tell you the truth. I have no idea. I black out.”

That changes Derek’s mock serious expression to a seriously serious expression. “You’re kidding. You black out? Like, remember nothing, nothing at all?”

“Nothing,” he agrees. “Not a second of it.”

“So you don’t remember the other day.”

That gives Stiles some pause. “Bits and pieces, actually. I remember the beginning. And … some of the middle. None of the end.”

“That’s …. I’ve never heard of that. Is that normal?”

“No,” he confesses. “No. My dad…”

“That guy is really starting to piss me off. He’s fully ruining your life. He’s ruining your body. Which would be a real fucking tragedy, because…” he makes vague gestures at Stiles’ physique and Stiles scowls at him.

“Well. Not anymore. That’s what this whole thing is about.”

Derek nods. He changes the subject, maybe angling for lightening the mood. “I remember every second of it.”

“Uh huh.”

“Like, vividly.”

“Anyway. I have no idea what I will or won’t remember this time, or what I’ll do, or anything. I’m sorry to say that, so you won’t know what to expect. But you can imagine. You…saw.”

“I saw what you’re like when you don’t get what you want, yes. I’ve got no context for what you’ll be like when you do get what you want.”

They stare at one another. Stiles clears his throat and dares himself to maintain the eye contact. Apparently, Derek dares himself the same thing. His lips quirk. He grins. “You know your eyes are nuts.”

“Like acorns.”

“I meant nuts like insane, but that color, yes.”

“Do you ever tire of telling me in explicit detail how attractive you find me?”

“No,” he admits. Right as Stiles is about to retort, there’s the unmistakable sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. Stiles expects Derek to sweep the books all about omegas and sex off the coffee table and hide them, but he doesn’t – he leaves them there out in the open, even as his mother enters the room.

“I brought you boys some snacks,” she says. She does have a tray with lemonade and butter cookies on it, but Stiles is certain she came down here to snoop. It’s the oldest trick in the book.

“It looks delicious,” Stiles tells her as she sets it all down for them right next to the books.

She looks at Stiles. Looks at the books. She looks at her son. “…what’s all this?”

Derek smirks. He says, “project is on mating. You know. Omegas and heat. Stiles is the expert.”

Talia looks about two steps away from picking up that glass of lemonade and throwing it directly in her son’s face. Instead, she forces a smile on her own and sets her gaze on Stiles. “How are things at school, being the only omega?”

Stiles picks up a cookie. He says, “I manage.”

“Stiles is a real firecracker,” he winks at Stiles and smirks at his mother, “he threw soda all over me. Remember washing that out of my clothes?”

Talia looks at Stiles again. “Well, good for you. This is not a school project,” she points to the books, and Derek shrugs. “You two are having sex.” Stiles chokes on his cookie, coughing and sputtering, but Derek just sits there, cool as a cucumber.

“Haven’t yet. Working on it. Stiles’ dad thinks he should be a virgin until death.”

Stiles is still coughing on cookie, reaching desperately for a glass of lemonade and sucking it down to clear his windpipe.

Talia is surprised. Not about them having sex. That apparently is nothing to her, but she is surprised about Stiles’ dad. She says, “that’s not healthy.”

Stiles wipes tears out of the corners of his eyes from his coughing fit.

“Just…don’t have sex down here. I just redid the carpets.” With that, she turns to leave. She hesitates over Stiles, shaking her head as she gazes at him, like she feels bad for him. Then she’s gone.

Stiles stares after her. As soon as she’s gone, he turns to Derek and whisper hisses, “what the hell was that?”

Derek languidly shrugs. “She’s sex positive. Also, not a sexist. And you are insanely hot. She’s probably up there crossing her fingers, hoping we mate. Think of how good the Christmas cards will look.”

Stiles wonders what it’s like to live in a house where sex is not something that’s shunned and considered evil – where heats are not something to be ashamed of, or to hide. He looks at Derek’s books, his research, and he eats some more of his cookie. It must be nice.

“Thanks for doing all this,” he gestures to the books.

“I just don’t want to fuck it up.”

He bites his finger. “I’m nervous,” he confesses, and it feels really strange to be even slightly vulnerable in front of an alpha. He has spent so long building up his armor and his thick skin, it feels almost wrong to let all of it drop in front of Derek Hale. “I’m scared. I’ve never been with anyone, and – and I’m kind of freaking out.”

Derek smiles at him, like he thinks it’s cute that Stiles is nervous. “It comes naturally. You’ll be fine. I won’t hurt you.”

That, Stiles can be absolutely certain of.

“You’ve –“ he starts, and then clams up again, feeling silly. “You’ve had sex, right?”

Derek nods.

“Oh,” Stiles nods back at him, angling for nonchalant, and probably failing miserably, because Derek is cocking his head to the side and smiling that arrogant smile of his, like he knows everything, like he can see right through Stiles’ bullshit. Judging from his mother, Derek has likely had tons of sex and has bragged about all of it – if Stiles really wanted to know, he could ask around school and hear all about it. But then Stiles doesn’t really want to know.

“Never with an omega, and definitely not with an omega in heat,” he picks up a cookie of his own and chomps into it, so crumbs get all over his blazer. “You seriously don’t even want to kiss me until you’re in heat and you won’t remember?”

Stiles pulls his knees up onto the couch and hugs them against his chest. “I can’t, I told you. You really want to go through all that again? Holding me down and having to force yourself to not rip my clothes off?”

Derek finishes the rest of his cookie in one bite, wiping the crumbs off of his fingers onto the floor. “I would go through it a million times over.”

“Ugh,” Stiles rolls his eyes.

“Even the part where your dad says he’ll kill me. You are just so –“

“Pretty, I know.”

Derek smiles at him. Stiles is beginning to resent, hate, love, and fall for that fucking smile.

Chapter Text

Stiles’ article gets published the next day, and it makes some pretty big waves. As Stiles had suspected, he hadn’t needed to really write anything all that inflammatory. He hadn’t written all alphas must die, he hadn’t written that he thinks omegas should be allowed to go to college, he hadn’t written a diatribe about how alphas are out to get him or that they’re all pigs, or anything to that effect. All he had really done was tell the truth about how his life changed after he became an omega. How people treated him differently. How people looked at him differently. How it ruined his fucking life, and it isn’t his fault.

It was more reflective than anything else. But people cannot stop talking about it. They whisper about him as he walks past in the hall, and this time, it’s not just alphas talking about how bad they wanna fuck him; it’s betas, too, murmuring about how they feel bad for him, how they never thought of it that way before. In the lunch room, people stare at him more than usual. But when he catches them looking, they immediately avert their eyes instead of brazenly staring like his feelings about it don’t matter to them.

“You should frame it, Stiles,” Allison tells him over her slice of pizza, gesturing to Stiles’ own copy of the Beaconian sitting folded up next to them. “It’s so good. It makes you think.”

“Frame it and then hide it,” he grimaces. “I’m not even technically supposed to be writing anything.”

“Your dad can’t get mad about that,” Scott insists, waving his spoon around in the air. “it’s harmless. It’s just a thinkpiece.”

“Remember when you thought he was going to pat Derek on the back and invite him to be my boyfriend?”

Scott deflates. He certainly does remember that. “Fair point.”

“Speaking of, what’s going on with you and Derek?” Allison asks, and she points over Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles turns to look before he can help himself, and there Derek is, sitting with his usual friends, staring right back at Stiles.

Stiles blinks at him, tries to keep himself impassive, but he knows he blushes. He knows it when Derek smirks at him and gives him another one of his two-fingered waves. He looks away and shakes his head, staring pointedly down at his sandwich. “Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

“Not even a chaste kiss on the cheek for him rescuing you from all those alphas?” She waggles her eyebrows at him and Stiles just looks at his fucking sandwich. It is the only safe thing to look at, right now. Stiles is a bad, bad liar, which is only part of the reason why this entire thing is a horrible idea.

“No such thing as a chaste kiss for Derek Hale,” Stiles assures them, to which they share a knowing look. “The guy is a complete – he’s a jerk.”

“Oh, that was convincing,” Scott snorts. Christ, if Stiles can’t even convince Scott that he’s not completely obsessed with Derek Hale, then what are the odds of him ever being able to convince his father of the same? It’s not like he can turn back, now, because he’s already fully committed himself to the idea of letting Derek be with him for his heat, and he can’t disentangle himself from the commitment. Because he just…can’t.

The idea is impossible. Not doing it. He wants to have sex with Derek almost as badly as he wants to breathe. He’s in this. Bad liar or not, bad idea or not, he’s gotta do it.

He’ll just have to try a little harder at seeming completely indifferent to the guy. Avoid him in the halls. Not make eye contact with him in their shared classes. Insist he can’t be paired up with him. Like Derek does not exist, that’s how Stiles has to act toward him in school, and it’s for their own best interest.

Derek, apparently, does not agree.

He is waiting for Stiles in the parking lot at the end of the day, in the space between Stiles’ Jeep and a purple Acura. He’s just standing there in the sun with sunglasses on, backpack hanging off of one shoulder, hands in his pockets, and he smiles as soon as Stiles rounds the corner to spot him.

Stiles blanches when he sees the guy, nearly trips over his own feet, catching himself on the side of his car. “Hey,” Derek greets him, casual as all get out.

“What are you doing?”

“Waiting for you, obviously.”

“No, you’re not.”

Derek smiles. God damn him. “I noticed you trying to act like I didn’t exist all day long.”

“For your own good,” he accuses, pointing his keys into Derek’s general direction. “For your own god damn good. Stop smiling at me all the fucking time, stop looking at me, my friends are already suspicious that we’re –“

“Because we are.”

“Derek,” Stiles steps as close to him as he dares to get, and Derek stands his ground. He at least knows better than to push his limits. “This is a secret. Okay? I hate alphas, everyone knows that. I can’t suddenly be friendly with one, they’d all know what’s going on!”

“Like when we’ll both be out for the same days during your heat.”

Stiles pauses. He hadn’t even fucking thought about that. He puts his hands on his head and starts pacing, back and forth, back and forth, while Derek stands and watches him, amused. He had been so tangled up thinking about the actual act of it, obsessing over the idea of Derek putting his hands on him like the gross little pervert that he is, that he hadn’t even fully mapped out the fucking logistics of the plot to lose his virginity. “Oh, this is bad. How had I not even considered that? This is so bad.”

“Relax,” Derek insists. “I had my mom write me a note about a family obligation. I guess my great uncle is going to miraculously drop dead on the same day you go into heat.”

Stiles stops dead in his tracks. He swivels his body so his shoes grind on the tarmac underfoot. “What, exactly, have you told your mother about what’s going on here?”

He shrugs, like it barely matters. “That you’re going into heat and I’m –“

“The truth?” He shrieks, voice going up about twenty registers in 0.2 seconds. “You told your mother? Are you out of your god damn mind? Are you insane?”

“I told her not to tell anyone,” he holds his hands out like what do you want me to do? “I explained the whole thing to her, Stiles. I told her your dad is a nut job and she totally is on board with the entire ordeal. She likes you, I told you that.”

Stiles covers his face with his hands. This just keeps getting worse, and worse, and worse.

“Unlike your parents, my mother has no interest in controlling my sex life.”

“How nice for you,” he half whines, pulling his hands away from his eyes so he can look at Derek, standing there in the fading sunlight. “Sometimes I think you are not grasping the gravity of what’s going on here.”

“I completely grasp the gravity of what’s going on here,” he argues. “If you’ve gotta ignore me in school to make yourself feel safer, that’s fine. I came to ask for your phone number.”

That surprises Stiles. He doesn’t know why it does, because he really should’ve seen it coming, but it does. He blinks and frowns, shaking his head. “So we can talk…?”

“Yes, Stiles. So I can actually speak to you without you freaking out.”

Stiles licks his lips nervously and wonders if he should do this. Giving Derek his number feels like a big deal, and he guesses that it is, because he’s never ever in his life dared to give an alpha the time of fucking day from his phone before, let alone the number to contact him on it. He wonders what exactly Derek even wants to talk to him about on the phone, if he wants to text, if he’s going to be gross like his dad always warned him about when he would give speeches on the dangers of cybersex.

Derek pulls his phone out and gets his thumbs ready to enter it in, and Stiles sighs through his nose. Fuck it, he thinks. He’s already fucking the guy. Why not throw this into the pot, too? He tells Derek his phone number and feels silly doing it, watching Derek’s fingers punch it in.

“Are you gonna text me?” Stiles asks, and he knows he sounds nervous, because he is.

“Why else would I want your number?”

“I don’t know,” he blushes and shrugs. Then he toes at a pebble under his shoe. “I’ve never texted an alpha before. You know. Like that.”

Derek puts his phone back in his pocket. “I’m not going to send you pictures of my dick, Stiles.”

“Well, good.”

“Don’t be nervous,” he assures Stiles, a smirk in his tone, and when Stiles manages to look up into his face, there’s a smirk there, too. “Oh, by the way. I’ve got that stuff you asked me for.”

He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a plain purple folder, handing it over to Stiles. Inside, Stiles finds a photocopy of Derek’s driver’s license, a paper with an emergency contact and a home phone number, his alpha identification card, and the form that Stacy had signed for him. Stiles pulls out Derek’s license and smirks at the picture.

“This. Is a really, really bad picture of you.” He looks stoned. He probably is.

“Let’s see yours,” he challenges.

“No need. You know I look good in it,” he tucks the folder against his side and smiles. “I look good in every picture.”

Derek looks at him, like he’s thinking of all the things he would really like to do to Stiles if they weren’t out in public in broad daylight. It’s a very heated, very heavy stare. It makes Stiles’ skin prick.

Then, Derek does his two-fingered wave and walks off, to his own car on the other side of the lot.

**

Stiles isn’t really allowed to do very much after school. He’s expected to come home right after classes, go up to his room and do homework, come downstairs for dinner, and then go back up to his bedroom to do whatever the hell he can find to entertain himself with for the remainder of the night. Most of the time, he plays video games or watches Netflix on his laptop until he falls asleep still in his clothes, on top of the covers.

He’s deep into a movie he dug up from the bowels of streaming that he’s barely watching, eyes starting to droop closed even though it’s barely nine o’clock, when his phone buzzes on his bedside table. He immediately presumes it to be Scott or Allison, seeing as how those are his only two real friends, so when he sees a number he doesn’t recognize he’s genuinely flummoxed for a moment. Then he remembers his conversation with Derek earlier and he seizes up, losing his grip on his phone so it clatters on top of his table and makes a huge ruckus.

He grabs it in both hands and glares at the screen. It says, wanna talk?

Stiles leans back into his pillows and shucks his laptop off and away from him. He bites his lip, staring at the notification, and then he swipes, going to the text itself.

He quanders over what to put Derek’s number under. Something fake? But then, what’s the difference between a fake name and just Derek? Does some other name make it sound like anything else but an alpha? If his dad were to take his phone and go through it, the name wouldn’t matter. He’s certain whatever Stiles and Derek are going to talk about in these texts will be incriminating whether Stiles puts him under Derek Hale or under Bob the Builder. It’s irrelevant. He types in Derek’s name and then stares at the new text thread, before poising his fingers to answer back.

Me, 9:05 PM : What about? I’m busy.
Derek, 9:06 PM : You? Busy? At 9 pm on a Wednesday? I thought your dad locked you up and threw away the key after 7.
Me, 9:08 PM : It’s for the best. Going out at all hours of the night wouldn’t be prudent of me.
Derek, 9:11 PM : Riiigghhtt, better to let him control your entire life as opposed to actually live it.
Me, 9:14 PM : Did you want something, or are you just being a dick?
Derek, 9:16 PM : I want something.
Derek, 9:16 PM : I thought maybe we could talk some more about your heat. Get into specifics.
Me, 9:17 PM : Specifics?
Derek, 9:18 PM : Yeah. Like what’s on the table and what’s not.
Me, 9:20 PM : What do you mean?
Derek, 9:23 PM : I mean, what do you like?

Stiles puts his phone down on his chest and stares at the ceiling. His face is hot, and he touches it with his own fingers to feel it. No one has ever asked him something like that before. He genuinely does not know what to say back to that. The truth is, he doesn’t know what he likes, what he’s into, what he’s not, what’s good, what’s bad, any of it. No one has ever touched him before.

Or, people have. Alphas have. Just not – not like that. He’s been groped and jumped on and pushed around, but never touched. To him, alpha-touches are divided into two categories. Violent harassment or gentle harassment. It’s impossible to imagine good touches.

Even though he feels embarrassed, it’s a lot easier to say this through text, so he sighs through his nose and picks his phone up again, prepared to be honest.

Me, 9:27 PM : I’m a virgin. I don’t even know how to do any of this stuff.
Derek, 9:28 PM : You’ve still gotta have an idea of what you like. Haven’t you ever watched porn?
Me, 9:31 PM : Uh, no. My dad checks what I do on the internet.
Derek, 9:32 PM : …you’ve never watched porn. Ever.
Me, 9:34 PM : Why would I? I’m sure the porn that involves omegas is nightmarish anyway.
Derek, 9:36 PM : Well, maybe, some. There’s nightmarish porn everywhere. You’ve NEVER seen any porn?
Me, 9:38 PM : I suppose you’ve watched tons?
Derek, 9:40 PM : Million of hours worth, yes. Millions. I could send you some.
Me, 9:42 PM : I’m good, thank you. Watching that shit would probably send me into early heat, anyway. It’s only a few days away.
Derek, 9:45 PM : I know that, which is why I need you to give me something to work with. You have fantasies, don’t you? You can tell me. I won’t laugh. I’ll tell you mine, even.
Me, 9:47 PM : Well. I have had dreams. About kissing.
Derek, 9:49 PM : …kissing. And what else?
Me, 9:51 PM : Just kissing. Touching, too, I guess. Kissing mostly. I’ve never kissed anyone either.
Derek, 9:52 PM : You’ve never even KISSED SOMEONE? Stilinski. You’re pulling my fucking leg.
Me, 9:56 PM : I’m only attracted to alphas and alphas are horrible, what do you want me to say? I’ve never really wanted to kiss any of them, let alone have sex with them.
Derek, 9:58 PM : But you want to kiss me and have sex with me, don’t you?
Me, 10:01 PM : I’ve already admitted that.
Derek, 10:02 PM : So, when you think about it, what do you think about?

There’s no way on god’s green earth that Stiles can honestly answer that question. First of all, he’s already humiliated enough as it is by what he’s already admitted. And second of all, no. Absolutely not. Stiles would rather chew his hands off, bite his wrists down to the bone, than ever tell Derek Hale the specific things he’s fantasized about them doing. Never mind the fact that most of these things that Stiles has thought about have been pretty G-rated in comparison with what Derek has likely watched on the internet. It doesn’t matter. Stiles has some pride.

And he’s spent his entire life being told that sex is bad. His heats are embarrassing and shouldn’t ever be talked about. How is he supposed to know how to talk about these things? Even the thought of saying it, in text or out loud, makes him want to throw up from humiliation.

Me, 10:10 PM : It’s too embarrassing, and you know that, and you’re just teasing me.
Derek, 10:12 PM : I’m just trying to get a feel for what’s going to happen, that’s all. I swear.
Me, 10:14 PM : I need to go to bed. Goodnight.
Derek, 10:15 PM : Don’t get mad at me, come on
Me, 10:20 PM : I’m not mad, I’m just, like. I don’t know. It must have been nice growing up with Talia for a mother who encouraged your sense of self and even your sexuality. I don’t know what that’s like. I don’t know what I want in bed, I don’t know what to do in bed, I’m barely allowed to talk about my heats at all. All I know is I just want you and my body wants you and I don’t know. This has been sufficiently humiliating. I’m going to sleep.

Stiles cannot believe that Derek only got in one hour of having Stiles’ phone number before Stiles has to mute his text thread, but there it is. He mutes Derek, put his phone on his night stand, and turns around to face the wall beside his bed. He glares at it for a long time, tossing and turning and sighing up at his ceiling, going over and over that conversation in his head.

The truth is, Stiles is jealous of Derek. And even more true, he’s jealous of all alphas. He always has been. He is jealous of the freedom to want whoever they want, while Stiles is trapped only wanting alphas, only seeking them out, no matter how bad they are for him. He is jealous of the sexuality, of thinking it’s fun and good to have sex and not bad and evil or like it’s the worst part about his body. He wants to feel normal, but it’s just like his father says. He isn’t.

**

Stiles closes his locker door to find Derek on the other side of it, frowning. He immediately says, “you’re upset with me.”

Stiles ignores him in favor of turning to head for his next class. But of course, Derek is right there with him, walking alongside, sighing through his nose.

“I wasn’t trying to – come here,” he grabs Stiles by his arm and takes him into a secluded corner by the vending machines, with a happy green plant blowing in the air conditioning. It’s warm where his hand touches, and his hand is big. Bigger than Stiles’ hands. The thought comes unbidden, totally heat-riddled and omega-gross, and he immediately tries not to think about that too much.

There’s no one else around here, no other kids to leer at them or stare or try to eavesdrop on their conversations, which is why Derek pulled him over here to begin with. “…I wasn’t trying to upset you. I was just trying to make sure I wasn’t going to do anything that would freak you out.”

Stiles looks at his feet and scowls. “It did upset me. I’ve told you a dozen times. I’m a fucking virgin. I just felt like you were making fun of me.”

“I wasn’t,” he swears, sincere. “I was just – I just – I find it a little hard to believe, that’s all. I mean, you look like someone who’s had sex or at least kissed a handful of people.”

“Well, I’m not. I’m not even allowed to really talk to alphas, let alone kiss them, Derek Hale,” he folds his arms over his chest and looks away, at the snacks in the machine, at the plant, at anything but Derek’s face. His cheeks are red and he feels like crying, because he’s two days from his heat and he feels psychotic and unhinged all the time, this close to it. “But it’s like I said. I only want alphas. It’s just – my stupid fucked up brain and my idiotic gross body.”

Derek makes a face. He shakes his head and he moves closer to Stiles, without meaning to maybe, and Stiles backs away. Too close. Derek freezes and then runs his hands through his hair, like he’s frustrated, like Stiles is irritating him, and Stiles sniffles and focuses hard on the green leaves of the plant. “The way you talk about yourself is so shitty,” he accuses. “You know, your body isn’t gross. It’s rare, it’s important, no matter what anyone says. Maybe your father raised you to hate omegas,” he squares his shoulders and he looks so intense, so serious, and also, sexy. “My mother raised me to respect them.”

Stiles doesn’t know what to say to that, and his throat is itchy and dry with unshed tears. So he just stands there, arms crossed, silent.

“All I was trying to do last night was learn more about you,” he puts his hands up all innocent, and Stiles figures that must be true. Of course that’s all he was trying to do. It’s just sex, to him. To Stiles, it is everything, the only thing he’s ultimately good for. “I’m sorry that I…I’m sorry.”

Stiles bites his lip and he shakes his head and he focuses in on his feet. His eyes well up with tears and the bell rings, signaling them as late for class, but Stiles ignores it, and Derek does too, staying right where he is, waiting for Stiles to say something. Stiles wipes at his eyes fruitlessly, as more tears come, and he confesses the thing that has been bothering him all along. Maybe his entire life, since he presented. “…what if I’m just not very good at it?”

Derek, unbelievably, laughs. He laughs like it’s the silliest thing in the world. “It’s not possible.”

“Why? Because I was made just to pleasure alphas?” He hisses bitterly.

“No. Because all consenting sex is good sex, especially heat sex,” he hesitates for a second, his hand hovering in the air. Then, he jerks it forward and uses his index finger and thumb to gently pull Stiles’ face up by his chin, so they can meet each other’s eyes. Derek’s, light and speckled, Stiles’, dark and red-rimmed. “I want you so bad, it’s all I think about.” His voice is dangerous, a low murmur, and it sends a chill down Stiles’ spine. “I know it’s going to fucking blow my mind. Believe me.”

Stiles wipes the last of his tears. He doesn’t know whether or not to believe Derek, to trust him, to take him at his word. What he knows about Derek is very little – he knows Derek is arrogant. He knows Derek likes sex. He knows Derek likes Stiles. He knows Derek isn’t a sexist. The rest, he still hasn’t managed to fill in the blanks. It’s insane to think about, considering Stiles is going to let this guy into the room with him when he’s at his most physically, emotionally, and mentally vulnerable.

Whether his mind knows it or not, his body has decided to trust Derek implicitly. He nods his head and shrugs and feels small, minuscule, and that must be his hormones talking. Derek seems so big compared to him, in this moment. “I’m just very – scattered in the days before,” he says by way of explanation, voice hoarse. “I’m crazy. I muted your number and everything.”

“I figured you did,” he smiles, light and easy. “I’ve been getting the idea you’re really nervous about this entire thing.”

“Yeah,” he admits. What’s the point in hiding anything from him?

“You should seriously consider watching some porn.”

“No,” but this makes him laugh. Derek has a unique knack for making Stiles laugh, one that no one else seems to have, no one else in the world. “Are you nervous too? If so, you should tell me. It will make me feel better.”

Derek grins. “Of course I’m nervous. Look at you,” he gestures to Stiles in his entirety. “You’re way out of my league. I should be licking the floor you walk on and washing your feet with my hair.”

“Jesus Christ,” Stiles laughs again. “I should probably…” he juts his thumb over his shoulder to indicate that he needs to get to class and so does Derek, as a matter of fact.

“Will you unmute me now?” He asks, cocking his head to the side.

“Maybe. Then again, maybe not. You’re exactly as annoying as I figured you’d be.” He starts backing away and Derek tracks his every move, watches him go, almost obsessively. Like whenever Stiles is around, he has no choice but to look at him, and only him.

“Let’s see how annoying you think I am in two days when my dick is inside of you,” he gets this shit-eating grin on his face and Stiles turns on his heel and speed-walks down the hall, away from him, far away, before he does something stupid, like jump on top of Derek and kiss him.

**

Stiles drives himself to the omega center the night before his heat is supposed to start, and already, he feels completely psychotic. He had tried to pack his duffel bag like normal but he kept losing track of his things and losing his train of thought, kept winding up standing in the middle of his bedroom staring blankly out his window, having this insane thought that he wishes Derek could come in that way and they could have sex here.

As such, the bag he has is full of oddities, some of which he barely remembers having decided to pack. Hopefully, there’s at least some spare underwear in there.

When he arrives, the smell seeping off of him must be strong. The betas at the door seem irritated by him as he fumbles clumsily for his identification – it’s in his pocket somewhere. He digs and digs, flummoxed when he can’t find it.

One of them points to his chest. “You have it on your neck,” he says, gruff, annoyed, and Stiles presses his hand to his forehead and feels lightheaded. He pulls the lanyard off and hands it to them, so they can scan it and then make sure he matches the picture, and then they finally let him inside.

At the desk he has to sign forms. These are forms he’s signed a thousand times before, has memorized, could recite with his eyes closed while hopping on one foot, but he struggles to get them done. The letters start to blur into one another and his head pounds and he has to lean his full body against the desk to keep himself from falling over.

There are times when Stiles sincerely wishes he had an actual partner. Someone to help him get his bag packed and someone to help him fill out forms, when he’s like this. He shouldn’t have even driven himself here, for god’s sake, but he didn’t have anyone to help him.

His dad refuses to even be around him when he’s in heat, and his mother was busy, and he can’t ask Derek because that’s a Big Ask. Scott would have, but Scott already does so many things for Stiles as it is.

What he’s getting at here is he can’t wait until he’s married and doesn’t have to do shit like this on his own anymore. It’s embarrassing.

When he finally finishes, shoving the papers away from him with shaking hands, they take him by his arms and lead him down a long, long hallway.

The fluorescence is bright and hazy. It makes him squint, reaching out to block it with his hand. He has no idea what room number they put him in or how long it takes to get there or how to get back to the lobby – they just open the door, gently push him inside, and then shut it with the grind of a lock clicking.

He drops his bag onto the ground by the door because it’s too heavy for him to carry it anymore. The rooms here are always exactly the same. It reminds him a lot of a hotel room – a kitchenette with a fridge that they stock with more bottles of water than Stiles could ever drink in two years and snacks like celery sticks and peanut butter. A small living area with a couch and a television that Stiles never even thinks about touching, that he genuinely believes is there more for heat partners than anything else. A bed, the biggest thing in the room by a landslide, two tables with lamps, and a bathroom.

Stiles doesn’t even take his shoes off. He immediately dives at the bed, shivering until he pulls the covers over himself, staring blankly across the room. He has always, always, always, hated coming here. The rooms smell like bleach and hand sanitizer, the floors are bright white and hard to look at when he’s in the thick of it, and the lights are always buzzing, buzzing, buzzing. It’s the least sexy place he can honestly think of, which is ironic, considering what it exists for in the first place.

He should just be grateful there’s someplace for him to go that’s safe and locked down. But he finds himself resenting this place more often than not.

Stiles loses track of time. Minutes go missing. One moment he’s staring at the wall and the next he’s turned over, staring at the television on the other side of the room. This is the part that has always freaked him out the most – missing time. Pockets of thoughts gone in the blink of an eye. It’s not normal. It makes him panic, his chest seize up, his fingers twisting into the bed sheets as he tries to remember what he had just been doing, thinking about, anything he had been thinking about, what he had just been doing.

He decides to focus his thoughts and he lands on Derek. Right. Derek Hale is coming here tomorrow to be with him and to touch him and have sex with him and kiss him – the thoughts make Stiles dizzy with want. He thinks of Derek’s big hands and his broad shoulders and his veiny arms, and then he has to stop, otherwise he’ll push his heat along farther and deeper and everything will be so much worse so much faster.

He imagines what Derek’s day will be like tomorrow. He will probably get here and be lead through security like a suspected war criminal. They will search him for weapons and check to make sure the clothes he has on don’t have anything like draw strings he could use to strangle Stiles with on the off chance he went full crazed alpha and decided to kill the omega.

Then they’ll take him to a doctor who will poke at him and prod him and test his reflexes and then hook him up to some machine that will read his blood pressure. They’ll ask him questions about Stiles and omegas in general and gauge his reactions, to see if he seems violent. They’ll tell him what to expect. They’ll lead him down the hall with the bright lights and then they’ll push him into this room just like they had done to Stiles, and then the two of them will be alone together.

It’s bizarre to imagine Derek in this scenario. It’s bizarre to imagine Derek in this room at all. Stiles has always been alone, here. It’s the loneliest place he can think of.

He drifts into a fitful sleep, thinking about Derek climbing in through his window in his house, sneaking into Stiles’ bed, and kissing. So, so much kissing.

The next thing Stiles is actually aware of, the next moment he feels even remotely in control of his body or his mind at all, Derek is there. He’s squatting down and cocking his head to the side, and he’s got his hands clasped in between his knees as he observes Stiles with a smirk on his face. He says, “hey, brown eyes.”

Stiles is baffled. He’s on the floor. He’s sitting on the floor with his back up against the cabinets in the kitchenette and he doesn’t know how he got here and he doesn’t remember Derek coming in. He has this petrifying thought that maybe Derek has been here for hours already, and they’ve already had sex and Stiles missed the entire thing, but then – that couldn’t be. Stiles has all his clothes on. Or, most of them. He still has his socks on, for Christ’s sake. You can’t have sex with your socks on.

Maybe you can. Stiles wouldn’t know.

“…okay?” Derek says, and Stiles blinks at him. He missed that. Derek must be able to read the confusion on Stiles’ face, because he repeats. “I said, are you doing okay?”

Stiles looks at what he has in his hands. A water bottle. He grips it in his fingers and he bites his lip and he feels ridiculous, but he holds it out for Derek to take. “Can you please open this for me?” His voice is raspy. “I can’t.”

Derek immediately takes it, swivels the cap off likes it’s nothing, and hands it back to him. Stiles shoves it into his mouth and drinks, drinks, drinks, Derek’s eyes on him the entire time, until there’s nothing left in the bottle. He tosses it aside with a crackle of plastic and then he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “Feel better?”

“No,” he says, and it’s true. Nothing ever makes him feel better during his heats except the one thing he can’t have. But now Derek is here. So he can have it. It’s right there in front of him, close enough he could touch it, so he does.

It is the first time Stiles has ever touched Derek Hale before. His fingers brush against the thin fabric of a cotton t-shirt, and that’s when Stiles notices that he’s not in his uniform. It’s also the first time Stiles has ever seen Derek outside of his school uniform. Stiles fists into the shirt and, abruptly, tries to use that grip to tug Derek into him, against him, on top of him, this crazed desperate voice inside his head telling him it’s what he needs, wants, will die without, but then –

Derek easily pries Stiles’ hand off of his shirt and holds it. He says, “how about not on the floor?”

Stiles is mystified by this comment. He would’ve thought that Derek was going to come into this room and immediately fuck Stiles on any surface he could find, without a care in the world. He was more than welcome to do exactly that, actually, and the smell of Stiles’ heat has to be driving him absolutely fucking insane.

But he just sits there. Stiles marvels at his self control, again.

“Who cares?”

“You should,” Derek is smirking. Stiles wants to lick it off his face. “It’s your first time. Come on,” he stands up and grabs Stiles by his hips.

Stiles has never been truly handled by an alpha before. He is taken aback, at first, by how Derek picks him up like he’s a kitten that’s being corralled and not a whole human boy. Stiles goes into his arms easily, being lifted up like it’s nothing – and then the insane, sex-addled, crazy omega in him starts going fucking ballistic.

Thoughts come to him instantly. Big, strong, protect, want, fuck, now, and Stiles flails in Derek’s arms. He manages to wrap his legs around Derek’s waist and clamp on like an octopus claiming prey, while Derek sighs and allows it, fitting his hands onto Stiles’ ass to keep him from falling.

That’s a good touch. That is a very good touch. They’re face to face, so close they’re breathing the same breaths, and Stiles....

“I want you,” Stiles says this like an accusation, like it’s all Derek’s fucking fault and now he has to pay for it, “holy fuck, I need it, I need it, I can’t – please – alpha - I’ll do anything –“

“Lucky for you, I won’t ask for much,” he says. And he’s smiling. It’s bananas that he can stand there smiling like this is fun for him, while Stiles is dying.

No, really. If Stiles doesn’t get Derek inside of his body in ten seconds, he will drop dead.

“Let’s go to the bed,” Derek suggests, but Stiles ignores him.

“Kiss,” he demands, like a dog barking for a bone. “I want to kiss you right now, can we kiss?”

“Oh, right,” Derek laughs. “That’s your big kinky fantasy. A kiss.”

Stiles moves forward and traps Derek’s lips anyway. Derek isn’t surprised, because why would he be? It’s sloppy and a little frantic, but Derek tastes like cinnamon and anise and cloves and like pumpkin pie and Stiles licks into his mouth just to get more of it, biting down on his lip, grinding his body up against Derek’s and panting through his nose.

Derek pushes him away after what feels like an eternity, and also, not long enough. He unravels Stiles’ legs from his waist and sets Stiles down on the counter top right behind them, where Stiles promptly tries to move to kiss him again, but Derek stops him with a single hand to his chest. “For someone who claims they’ve never kissed anyone before, you sure are good at it,” he sounds out of breath.

“It’s what I’m made for,” he says without thinking, though in this moment, he means it. Sex is what he’s made for. He’s meant to be fucked. He has to be preternaturally good at things like kissing, because if he wasn’t, he’d be defective.

Derek frowns. Stiles is confused by that - don’t alphas like that kind of a thing? “Don’t say shit like that,” he says, and Stiles blinks rapidly in hurt and surprise at this chastisement, moving away and folding his arms over his chest. Stiles is sensitive to tone and body language when he’s like this, so he gets this crazy thought that the alpha in front of him is mad at him or that he’s done something wrong or he deserves to be slapped - it’s insane, he feels himself being insane, but he can’t … help it.

Derek realizes his mistake instantly and swears under his breath, swooping in quick to pull Stiles back against his body. “I didn’t mean to say that, just calm down. Just relax. I didn’t mean to say it like that.”

If Stiles thought for three seconds that he did even one thing to make Derek unhappy, he’d burst into tears. As it is, he curls against Derek’s chest and whines while Derek pats him on the back and seems at a loss for what else to do.

“Let’s go to the bed.” He has been begging Stiles to go to the bed for the past twenty minutes. Somehow, Stiles has evaded it and side tracked him, every single time. Now, Derek is starting to learn that if he wants Stiles to do something, he’s going to have to physically force him to do it. He picks Stiles up and doesn’t give him an option, so Stiles is left flailing wildly as Derek carts him across the room and then dumps him onto the sheets, where Stiles clutches and whines and kicks his legs.

“I need to – I need to be with you,” he says into the bed, before he turns over onto his back and blinks hazily up at Derek, who’s standing there, just standing, looking at him. Ten seconds ago Stiles was almost crying and waiting for Derek to hit him for speaking out of turn – now, he’s right back to begging for it, shaking and half-crying. “I need your – I need your –“

“…my?” He’s enjoying this.

“…the – I – the –“

“The…?”

“Shut up,” Stiles commands him – totally incensed and crazed and all animal. “Just shut up and please do it. Please? Please please please –“ he sits up and gets his paws on Derek’s pants, undoes the button, pulls on the zipper, before Derek catches his hands.

“I’ll do that, just lie back,” he says this gently, pushing Stiles’ hands until they’re out of his way. Stiles has a one track mind. He busies himself with taking off his underwear, flailing about on the bed until they’re off his body and tossed to the side. He fumbles with his shirt and winds up twisted up in it, arms all over the place, head buried in the fabric, and then there’s Derek laughing again. “You are lucky you’re so fucking hot,” he helps Stiles with his shirt, so he breaks free and can breathe again without the fabric suffocating him. “…you are a complete and total train wreck.”

“Come on,” he begs, totally naked, reaching out to tug on the elastic of Derek’s briefs. “Come on, I’m ready, I’m ready –“

Derek takes his shirt off first. There should be a choir or a beam of holy light shooting out from somewhere, because the sight of it is truly fucking biblical. His chest. Oh, his chest. His fucking body. He looks like Stiles’ fantasies. He looks like what Stiles has always wanted but never wanted to say out loud. He reaches out to touch, both hands, feeling along the hot skin and basically salivating. Derek is a complete pompous dick, so of course he says, “it’s nice, right?”

Stiles looks up to meet his eyes. They maintain eye contact. It seems to last forever. “I want you to fuck me.”

“I will,” he promises, and then, finally, he takes his underwear off, and there it is.

It’s big. Stiles is nervous and excited and shaking and he wants it so bad at the same time he doesn’t think it’s going to fit, and it’s got veins, and his balls are big, he’s hairy, he’s such a fucking – he is so –

Derek drops one knee onto the bed. Then the other. He moves forward, draping himself over Stiles’ body slowly, like he’s worried if he moves too quick, Stiles will spook. Stiles will not spook. There is nothing on this earth that could keep him from letting that dick enter his body, at this point.

There’s no going back.

“You with me?” Derek asks, and Stiles realizes he’s been still and quiet ever since Derek took his underwear off. “Stiles?”

“I’m with you,” he says back, voice clumsy with heat.

“You’re shaking.” He runs his fingers down the length of Stiles’ arm, to feel it. Stiles’ body quaking.

“I’ve never –“ he shakes his head, disoriented all of the sudden, confused by his surroundings. “I’ve never…”

“I know,” Derek is close. Their bodies are touching. At one point, Derek’s dick tags on Stiles’ leg and it’s wet and big and hard and firm and Stiles gasps and grunts, lost to the complete and total abandon of his heat. “I’ll take care of you, sweetheart. It’ll be so good. Just – let me –“

Derek uses one hand to turn Stiles’ body over by his hip. It’s easy, because Stiles jumps to help, to get onto his stomach, to be in a better position. As soon as he can, Derek is touching Stiles’ back. He’s rubbing soothing, slow circles, up and down, scratching his blunt fingernails into Stiles’ skin so hard that it makes him whine, his body convulsing with need.

Derek has studied this. He has watched porn and observed how alphas get their partners calm, get them relaxed, so it won’t hurt. He has read books and taken notes and obsessed over this exact moment – so of course. He’s good at it. Stiles is lost to the touch of his fingers, the drag of his hands, skin on skin, all of it. It’s heaven on earth, and those are just his fucking hands. God only knows what’s going to happen when they start… when …

Derek gently gets Stiles up onto his hands and knees, and Stiles is shaking again. Derek soothes him, more scratching, massaging, saying something into Stiles’ ear that Stiles misses but enjoys the brush of Derek’s breath on his hair.

“You’re ready?”

“Yes, please, please,” he bears down and he hopes he’s enticing instead of awkward and clumsy. “Inside me. Please. Just.”

A finger touches him and Stiles goes still. Derek says, “it’s so fucking hot,” maybe to himself, and Stiles nods, frantic. He knows it’s hot. He’s on fire. He’s in an oven. He’s baking. He needs Derek to help him or he’s going to die here.

“Okay, okay, just relax. You with me?”

“I’m so ready, I’m so ready –“

“Just take a deep breath, just relax,” something big and hard presses but doesn’t push, and Stiles keens and loses his mind. He begs for it, swearing and shaking and half screaming, and then it’s in him.

It slides in like it’s nothing, his body prepared, Derek expertly maneuvering it, and it does not hurt. Not like they always said it would, not like Stiles has had nightmares about, nothing like that.

It feels good. Like he should go to hell right now for feeling something this good. He goes silent and lax, the second it’s all the way in, where before he was tense and anxious. It’s like his body is getting exactly what it wants and is shutting down, somehow, because it has spent so long hunting and searching for this feeling. Now it’s here. There’s nothing else to work for.

“Oh, holy fuck,” Derek says, but it’s white noise. Stiles is staring blankly at his sheets and his body jerks and he’s overcome with a tidal wave of the most intense pleasure he’s ever felt in his entire life. He comes. Instant. And it’s like no orgasm he’s ever given himself before, like nothing on this earth, and he asks himself why he ever spent so long hating alphas when they’re actually good for something after all. “Did you just…”

Stiles nods, brainless. He came. Derek hasn’t even been inside him for ten seconds. He hasn’t even moved, hasn’t even started fucking him, and Stiles came, all over himself. “Don’t stop,” he begs, burying his face into the sheets, “more, more, please.”

Derek takes him by his hips, and does as he’s told. It’s hard but slow, because Derek wants to be gentle with him. He’s never handled someone as breakable as Stiles is, most likely, so he’s still learning the ropes of what Stiles can take and what he can’t. He shudders and stops at one point, holding absolutely statue still and grunting.

“I don’t want to go too soon,” he explains, patting Stiles on the back. It honestly doesn’t matter at this point. Stiles is just along for the ride. “Your body is fucking insane. Your skin - you’re so soft – I want to fucking touch every part of you.”

Stiles nods. He has no idea what Derek is saying, but he nods. Whatever he says. He’s the alpha. Whatever he says goes.

Finally, Derek starts fucking him again. It feels so good. It feels like everything he’s been waiting for, his whole life, everything, everything –

He comes again. It takes him by surprise and he moans so loud he’d be embarrassed if he were in any right state of mind. He’s mindless at this point, babbling things he can’t remember saying, shaking, body jerking from the force of Derek’s slamming into it. Derek says some more stuff to him, more totally insane praise that he barely listens to, but Stiles is totally gone.

He lies there totally useless, closing his eyes.

Next thing he knows, Derek isn’t on top of him anymore. They’re lying right next to one another in the bed, facing each other, and Derek is touching him. On the face, on his neck, his collarbones, his lips, anything he can touch, he does, fingers gently and searching.

“You are like a picture come to life,” he’s got this intense look on his face, eyes soft, lips parted. “I could never get tired of looking at you.”

Stiles blinks at him. He’s more lucid than before, but he can remember it. The sex. He doesn’t think he’ll forget about it, and he’s grateful, because he didn’t want to have his first time being a memory that’s just lost. “Was it okay?” He asks. He sounds hoarse again.

Derek meets his eyes. “It was the best fuck of my life.”

“Don’t be nice.”

“I’m not. To you, maybe,” he grins, alpha-smile, all teeth, and Stiles’ heart clenches for him. “You are so pretty,” he leans in and kisses Stiles on the shoulder, “so smart,” on the neck, “so sexy,” on his jaw. “And you felt so…the way it felt to be inside of you…” he trails off and turns over a bit, to stare at the ceiling.

Stiles keeps his eyes glued to the side of his face, like he can’t possibly look anywhere else.
He has a good face. A very good face. He is quite possibly the most attractive person that Stiles has ever met. And truthfully. He doesn’t think that’s just his heat talking.

Derek is not like any other alpha he’s ever met. Any other alpha would have burst through that door and pinned Stiles down on the floor and fucked him and wouldn’t have given half a shit about whether or not it was hurting Stiles or if it felt good for him. Any other alpha would’ve pushed Stiles away after and gone right to sleep. But Derek is cuddling, and talking to him, and giving Stiles attention.

Stiles had never known this before, because he’s never had anyone else with him when he’s in heat. But apparently, Stiles cannot get enough attention when he’s like this. Derek is happy to oblige.

“You really thought it was good?” Stiles asks, and he doesn’t sound like himself – he sounds small and nervous and like one bad word from Derek will send him huddled into a corner crying.

Derek turns to face him again, and his face is so open and honest. “It was fucking incredible.”

Stiles is sleepy. He nods his head one more time and then he curls into Derek‘s body and shuts his eyes – he can feel Derek smelling him. Sniffing at his hair and his neck. Stiles can’t find it in himself to care.

He’s asleep in minutes, listening to Derek’s heartbeat.

**

Stiles’ heat breaks faster than it ever has before. It’s over in a day and a half, Stiles coming to after a nap on the couch with his head in Derek’s lap.

He sits up and he’s disoriented, tasting alpha in his mouth, clicking his tongue and stretching with a mewl from the back of his throat. Derek is watching something with lots of yelling and guns, but turned down low, likely to help Stiles stay asleep.

“Are you all back to normal?” Derek asks him. When Stiles turns to him with his brow furrowed and his lips pinched down, Derek grins. “Oh, yes. There you are.”

Stiles rubs at his head. He feels… fine. A bit sore and exhausted, but nothing like what he usually feels after his heats. Usually, he feels like hell froze over after a heat; there’s vomiting and he can barely move and a headache the size of Antarctica settles into his head and lives there for the entire day after.

Today, he’s fine. He’s covered in alpha, head to toe, but that might not actually be a problem.

“Do you remember anything?”

Stiles is surprised that this is the first question that Derek has to ask him, after everything that just happened. Which is when Stiles realizes that holy shit, he actually…does remember it. Some of it. It’s hard to parse exactly how much, because some memories are fuzzier than others and some feel like there’s patches missing, but he still does remember. Which is insane.

He hasn’t remembered a heat in years. But he remembers the first time very vividly, even the parts where he was somewhat out of it. He remembers Derek touching him, on his face, and the kissing, lots and lots of just truly fucking gross kissing. He remembers waking up at one point with Derek snoring in his ear and he remembers all kinds of other things that make his ears burn now in the harsh light of day.

They had done lots of things to each other.

Lots of things.

Things that Stiles is not at liberty to repeat.

Things that Stiles can genuinely say he couldn’t repeat even if he wanted to, because the embarrassment would choke him to death. There was…sex. Just endless, endless sex. And all kinds of it. Stiles thinks that he put Derek in his mouth at one point but he’s not sure, and he burns with the half-there memory, reaching up to feel his jaw.

It’s sore. He definitely did that.

Stiles hasn’t said a word, not for a whole minute or so, but he doesn’t actually need to. Derek can read his facial expression, the red tips of his ears, and his body language loud and clear.

“You do remember,” Derek is pleased with this. “You remember when I made you come five times just with my –“

“Okay,” Stiles puts his hand up to stop him, voice going up loud enough to tune him out. Derek is grinning from ear to ear, sitting so close to Stiles they are practically on top of one another. “I…yes. I remember. Parts. I’m a little muddled right now.”

He goes to stand, to get a sense of his bearings and surroundings, but his legs are jello. They wobble and he falls right back down into the couch with a thump. Derek puts his arm behind Stiles on the back of the couch, very familiar and close, and leans into him. Stiles is uncomfortable. He never sits this close to alphas.

He just spent nearly two entire days having sex with this guy, and now the thought of sitting close to him is freaking him out. He’s getting whiplash.

“Uh –“ he scratches at his cheek. What are they supposed to talk about now? “…well.”

Derek levels him with a steady gaze. Jesus, they’re so close to one another. Stiles can smell his skin. “You know, you don’t snore.”

Stiles is taken aback by this. He rears his neck back so he can look Derek in the face, furrows his brow, and goes, “huh?”

“When you sleep. You don’t even snore. It’s very omega-like to not snore.”

“I am one,” he points to his chest. “Of course I don’t snore. I vividly remember you fucking sawing logs like you were on a work site, though.”

Derek laughs. He leans forward and it’s like, unbelievably, he’s going to try and kiss Stiles on the mouth. It’s a knee jerk reaction when Stiles pulls away and blinks hard, shaking his head once, quick. Derek freezes and his lips curve downward. He’s confused.

Then he sighs through his nose and makes an assessment far more intuitive than any alpha has ever been. “So we’re not doing that anymore…?”

“I –“ Stiles starts.

There’s no guidebook for this shit. Stiles hadn’t thought that far in advance when he had asked Derek to be his heat partner. He had not considered the aftermath of this decision. He had not thought what it would be like the morning after.

Now, he feels like a complete idiot for not having thought of it at all.

He doesn’t have anything to say, so he frantically searches around the room for a change of subject. It’s not totally wrecked – the bed is mussed, the sheets all over the place, pillows strewn about, but everywhere else is relatively neat. There’s not much to look at and no way to escape this conversation.

“…it’s not like we can. It’s not like we –“ he fumbles. It’s too early for this shit. He just got out of heat. It’s too heavy a conversation.

Derek waves it off. He clears his throat and takes his arm off of Stiles’ shoulders. Stiles is embarrassed to admit that he immediately misses the touch, being so close, but he is not about to say that out loud.

“I almost forgot,” he bends down and grabs at a backpack that Stiles vaguely remembers him digging around for spare clothes in at one point. It was dark in the room at that time, middle of the night, and they had just had sex for probably the fourth time. Stiles goes hot at the memory and focuses on Derek’s hands digging through his clothes to come up with…

Of all things, a stuffed animal. He hands it to Stiles and his smile is thin, but there. Like Stiles can’t see for himself, he says, “it’s a penguin.”

It is a penguin. It’s got little flappers and everything. It’s soft and puffy and Stiles squeezes it.

“I got it for you. Since you like penguins.”

Stiles does like penguins. Who doesn’t, really, but this makes Stiles smile. Derek remembered that picture in Stiles’ locker of the penguin exhibit. He went out of his way to get Stiles a penguin.

“Thank you,” Stiles says. “It’s – thanks.”

Derek rubs the back of his neck, and he’s much more gruff than usual when he speaks again. Perhaps he is uncomfortable. “You want me to go?”

“No,” Stiles says before he can stop himself, and Derek raises an eyebrow at him. “I mean – not like, you have to go. I mean we both have to go pretty soon. Because my heat’s over. But like, you don’t have to go. I don’t want you to go. Not that I don’t want you to go, but just – you know.”

The words hang there for a moment. Derek seems at a loss for what Stiles wants, and he should seriously just join the club because Stiles doesn’t even know what Stiles wants, at this point.

Or, he knows he wants Derek. He just also knows he can’t have him. Not really.

He fiddles with one of the penguin’s fins and then he avoids Derek’s eye contact and feels like he’s screwing everything up. “I kinda gotta shower the alpha stench off of me before going home to my parents…so.”

“So, you do want me to go.” He does not sound happy about this.

“I’m not, like, kicking you out.”

“You are,” he challenges as he stands up and starts collecting his things. “You’re just doing a spectacularly bad job of it.”

“Man, I just – I just got out of - I’m not at my full functioning right now, okay?” He bristles and folds his arms across his chest defensively, watching Derek shove his belongings into his bag. “I know you did me a favor and everything, but I don’t –“

“A favor?” Derek blinks at him, completely miffed. “You think this was a favor?”

“Oh, man,” he rubs at his temples. “Derek. I just woke up. What are you –“

“I’ll just go,” he says. He sounds mad. Stiles blinks at his retreating back and really can’t think of a single thing to say as he turns and punches in the code by the door to get himself free. He looks over his shoulder at Stiles once as he pulls open the door, and he is definitely mad. Stiles can see it on his face. “It wasn’t a fucking favor, Stilinski.”

With that, he’s gone. The door clicks behind him, and then Stiles is alone in this stupid heat room again. He pets the fluff on the penguin absentmindedly and asks himself what the living hell just happened there?

One second they’re bickering, the next they’re fucking non-stop, the next they can barely have a conversation with one another or look each other in the eyes. Stiles tries to quell the overwhelming feeling that he’s fucking this entire thing up, his whole life, and most importantly, he tries to ignore the fact that he didn’t want Derek to go at all.

Stiles doesn’t know how to be around an alpha like that. To touch or kiss or anything. It came naturally to him when he was in heat, but once it was over, he went back to being a cold, crazy bitch, just like everyone says he is.

He packs up his own bag, moving languidly across the room. Everything he touches and looks at reminds him of something that happened in the past two days – the water bottles in the recycle bin, the pillows on the floor where they fooled around for a while, the bed, the couch where they kissed, the sheets strewn everywhere clumsily from their last frantic go at it. It feels like someone else did it, almost, when he thinks of it.

The person who frowned and pulled away from a kiss cannot be the same person who actively and enthusiastically did all those things with Derek Hale. No way. Maybe he’s more desirable when he’s in heat after all, just like they’ve always told him. Or at least more tolerable.

In the shower, he inspects his body. He finds bruising on his thighs, which is to be expected. Hickeys on his chest, which is surprising but nothing he can’t manage. Other than that, he’s unharmed. Derek was gentle with him. Even when he was rough, he was holding back. Stiles scrubs extra hard to make sure any and all traces of Derek Hale’s scent go down the drain with the soapy water, so when he gets home, his parents will not suspect a thing.

They’ll be surprised his heat was short, but they’d never for a second think that Stiles was lying to them about something. Or, omitting the truth. Stiles has never done something like this before.

It’s a moot point either way, because when he gets home, his parents aren’t even there. They hadn’t expected him home so early, so there’s no notes left on the fridge for him or money for pizza even. He goes up to his room and unpacks, tossing his dirty clothes into his laundry basket.

He sets the penguin next to his pillow and stares at it for a while. Before he can help himself, he picks it up and smells it. It had been living in Derek’s bag with Derek’s clothes for days on end, so of course, it reeks of him. Cinnamon and cloves. It’s comforting, and it’s a thought Stiles does not want to linger on. He doesn’t want the penguin to lose its scent so he stops smothering it and sets it back down next to him, sitting. It’s very quiet in the house. He wishes he had somewhere else to go, but he doesn’t. He’s not really allowed to go anywhere else.

Maybe he should unmute Derek’s number and try to talk to him about what happened. Or what they’re going to do now. Or how they’re supposed to act around one another.

But then, there’s not really much to talk about in that department. They can’t do anything. They can’t act on any of their feelings. Why bother?

Chapter Text

At school on Monday morning, he’s accosted by an alpha at his locker – he would’ve expected it to be Derek Hale, but instead, it’s Lydia Martin. She waltzes right up to him before the homeroom bell has even rang, as though speaking to Stiles is the very first thing on her agenda this morning, and puts her hands on her hips. “Have a nice break?”

She’s referring to his heat. He ducks his head and tries his level best to not think about Derek’s hands, all over him. “Not so much,” he lies, keeping his eyes on his books. “Without a partner the entire thing is kind of a nightmare, and I didn’t have one. I’ve never had one. No partner. Ever.”

He’s a horrible liar. And an awkward one, to boot. But luckily for him, there is probably nothing that Lydia cares less about in the world than whether or not Stiles is having sex. “Anyway,” she says haughtily, flipping a curl over her shoulder, “I’ve been getting lots of responses to your piece.”

Stiles slams his locker closed and gives her his full attention. “Responses?”

“I’ve received a lot of anonymous responses, yes. Most of them are actually pretty positive,” she digs into her purse and comes up with a stack of small notes, mostly handwritten in pencil or pen. “People think you’re smart and you should go to college.”

“Really?” He grabs at a note and scans it. The gist is exactly like Lydia had said – it sucks omegas can’t go to college blah blah blah, people treat omegas bad blah blah blah. Stiles is surprised. He would’ve thought they’d have tarred and feathered him in the hallways.

“I did get one particularly interesting one,” she says evenly, reaching into her bag to pull out the only one that was typed up on printer paper instead of written by hand. To further hide whoever wrote it, Stiles is sure of it. “I was debating whether or not to show it to you, let alone print it as a letter to the editor.” She holds it out to him, face unreadable. “I figured you might be used to reading things like this. It sort of stunned me.”

Stiles already knows he doesn’t want to read that shit. But he takes it out of her hand and grips it in his fingers, digging into his front pocket to get his glasses out.

He shoves them onto his face and starts to read, Lydia’s eyes on him the entire time to watch his reactions.

Whether Stiles Stilinski likes it or not, there are real and valid reasons why things are the way that they are. Omegas are weaker and frankly less intelligent than alphas or even betas. They need alphas to tell them what to do, otherwise they’d just wind up in a whorehouse somewhere. While ultimately I am of the opinion an omega’s purpose in life is to be an alpha’s sexual partner, I prefer omegas as spouses rather than sex workers. Stiles is still young. He just hasn’t realized his purpose yet. He whines about not being treated with respect – he has done nothing to earn respect. All he really has are his good looks which will be gone before he’s forty anyway. Maybe he just needs a good fuck and he’ll settle down. Had it not been for Derek Hale’s ludicrous white knight bullshit, I’d have done it myself.

Stiles smirks. This is clearly not the reaction Lydia had been expecting. Maybe she thought Stiles would burst into tears or get angry or ball the thing up and throw it away – but she was right about one thing. He is used to reading things like this. It amuses him, by now, because he knows that it only ever comes from alphas who are threatened by him.

Most importantly, alphas who he has spurned. This person has likely fantasized about fucking Stiles a thousand times before, seeing as how it’s all he’s good in their opinion, and is enraged by the idea that Stiles has the ability to say no to those advances. It’s funny. Because it’s pathetic to him.

“Oh, you should definitely print this,” he hands it back to her and grins. “Let people see how alphas really think of me and all omegas.”

She takes it back slowly and gives him a look. “You think this is funny,” she repeats. It’s obvious that she was completely shocked by its contents upon first reading it. “He as good as threatens to rape you.”

Stiles shrugs. “Heard it before.”

She observes him critically. Then she seems impressed. “I like you,” she decides out loud. “You got any ideas who would write something like this?”

“Dozens,” he gestures around them, alphas galore, and raises his eyebrows. “My money’s on one of the psychos from the lacrosse team.”

She snorts. Because it’s probably true. There was thinly veiled vitriol towards Derek Hale which likely not only comes from the fact that Stiles has been known to pay Derek the time of day unlike any other alpha here, but also because he’s the captain of the team. Alphas are territorial psychopaths. It just makes sense.

He goes to class and bears the usual staring and whispering without much comment. He is used to people paying extra close attention to him in the days after his heat anyway – looking for signs that there might have been an alpha that he spent his time with. Hickeys or a smell or if he seems more subdued than usual, as though an alpha is controlling his every move now.

Stiles had scrubbed and scrubbed every time he got in the shower and had covered up any bruises one might be able to see even with his uniform on. There’s nothing for them to gawk at. He made sure of it.

He sees Derek in the halls between third and fourth period. Derek is the same as always. He’s leaning against his locker and smirking at something one of his alpha buddies just said, arms crossed over his chest. When he looks up and meets Stiles’ eyes, he grins so wide it crinkles his eyes at the corners.

But Stiles pointedly looks away, ducking his head and scurrying faster to get away before Derek has the chance to stop him, to say anything to him. What he would want to say to Stiles now is anyone’s guess, but Stiles doesn’t want to hear it either way. There’s just no point. He doesn’t know what Derek’s reaction to this slight is, because he’s long gone and tucked away into his classroom before Derek can say or do anything about it.

In English class, Derek sits on his side of the room and seems to be trying his level best to catch Stiles’ eyes, but Stiles avoids them. He keeps his head low and he focuses on the teacher and his work, nothing else. It’s much the same during their shared lunch period – Derek doesn’t eat, or at least doesn’t eat much. He stares at Stiles and Stiles ignores him.

It’s for the best. It’s best to rip things apart when they’re small. Once they get too big, it’s worse for everyone.

Stiles speed walks with an oblivious Scott to his Jeep at the end of the day, hoping that they’ll get to his car before Derek has a chance to catch up and jump on him. They make it, and Scott starts chattering about the day and classes and homework. Stiles pulls out of his parking spot with a relieved sigh.

As they go, Stiles sees Derek stopping dead in his tracks at the sight of Stiles’ Jeep leaving the parking lot. He stares, watching Stiles go, a deep frown on his face. He knows he is being avoided. He’s not happy about it.

It makes Stiles feel like shit, because unfortunately, doing any kind of pain to Derek Hale, whether emotional or physical, makes him sad. He’s quiet the rest of the drive home, gripping the steering wheel and wishing he were somebody else.

Then, he wonders if he were somebody else, would Derek even want him?

**

Big hands grab Stiles as he’s on his way to Chemistry at the end of the next day. They drag him bodily into the supply closet by the gymnasium and it’s dark – he has this split second genuine terror that the alpha who wrote that batshit insane letter to the paper has come to make good on his promise to show Stiles what it means to be a “good” omega, and he reacts.

He reaches out to hit them in the face, opening his mouth to scream at the top of his lungs, and then the light comes on. It’s Derek Hale. Of course it’s Derek Hale. In his school uniform with his backpack on, eyes big in his head, catching Stiles’ wrist before Stiles punches him in the face.

He sags, all the adrenaline leeching out of his body as he realizes he’s not in imminent danger. Then, he gets angry. He beats at Derek around the shoulders with his open palm, livid and upset, saying, “I thought I was being kidnapped you fucking –“

“How the hell else am I supposed to get you alone?” He demands, and he grabs at Stiles’ wrists again to stop him. He holds onto them this time, hands rough, and Stiles frowns. “You won’t speak to me, you won’t unblock my number, you won’t even barely look at me –“

“So dragging me into a dark closet at school seemed like a good plan?”

Derek lets go of him and takes a single step back. There is not a lot of room to move around in here, maybe a few feet at most, and they can hear basketball being played on the other side of the wall. Running feet makes the squirt bottles of cleaning supplies rattle and shake on the shelves, but both Derek and Stiles ignore that, staring only at one another.

Stiles has not been this close to him in days. He smells the same as always, and Stiles tries to ignore that. He also looks the same as always, which is unbelievably sexy especially in his uniform, which Stiles cannot ignore no matter how hard he tries. But he squares his shoulders and reaches for the door knob. “I’m leaving,” he announces, but Derek runs to stop him, latching onto the knob before Stiles can even reach his arm out all the way.

“I’m begging you,” he says, and he is dead serious. His voice is low and intense. “Give me ten fucking minutes. I will get on my knees –“

“Jesus Christ,” Stiles tries to pace, but he doesn’t have the space to do so. He settles for putting his hands on his hips and shaking his head, irritated. “What is it?”

“What is it?” Derek repeats like the words don’t make any sense. “What is it? Are you kidding me?”

“I –“

“I’m kind of going fucking insane here,” he gestures at himself – and now that he mentions it, he does look kind of…disheveled. His tie is undone, his eyes are tired with bags underneath them like he hasn’t been sleeping very well, and he’s rumpled. “I didn’t realize you were going to treat me like I didn’t fucking exist when I agreed to this.”

“I thought I made myself perfectly clear,” he keeps his tone even and firm, “I can’t have any kind of actual relationship with you. I thought you got that. What did you think, we’d start dating?”

Derek stares at him. Like he thinks Stiles is crazy. “I thought you’d at least acknowledge my god damn existence. And what is this bullshit in the paper?”

“What bullshit?”

“This fucking diatribe from an alpha that wants to fucking rape you,” he barks back, and he’s mad, now. Really mad. Big mad. Alpha mad. It makes Stiles flinch a bit, take a step back as much as he can. “Why is he being given a god damn platform? You should’ve thrown it out!”

“People need to know how these alphas really think of me,” he defends.

“You’re legitimizing it,” he argues right back.

“You know what? If I wanted an alpha’s input on my bodily autonomy, I’d have asked for it. But I didn’t. So.”

Derek steps close to him, dangerously close, and Stiles has to tip his head back to be able to look into his eyes when he’s so close. He swallows, thick and heavy, and Derek narrows his eyes. “You are fucking infuriating,” he has made a similar accusation before, so this does not phase Stiles in the least.

“I just do what I want,” he says back. “Apparently that makes alphas mad. You, too.”

“That’s not what I mean,” he says. “You think there aren’t alphas in this school who would leap at the chance to –“

“I’m not arguing about this with you,” he waves his hands, and Derek frowns. “I’m not talking to you at all, actually! If you’ll excuse me –“

He goes to leave the cramped room, to get out into the hallway where the smell of alpha and cologne is not overwhelming, but Derek’s arm shoots out to block him, effectively stopping Stiles in his tracks. “Why not?” He begs, literally begs, and Stiles grits his teeth. “Why not? I think about you all the time, all the fucking time, all I do is think about you, and you won’t even god damn look at me. When we were together, you were so –“

“I was in heat, Derek.”

“It’s not just that you wanted to have sex with me,” he insists, as the shelves rattle again, loud feet banging on the gym floor, “you – I just thought – you wanted me.”

Stiles looks away. Maybe he remembers feeling that way. It wasn’t just about Derek’s body or him being an alpha and that being exactly what Stiles’ body wanted.

He wanted Derek. Not the heat, not the hormones. And he knows that he made it clear to Derek – not in anything he said, but how he acted. So he can only imagine how whiplashed Derek must feel, when one second he’s getting attention and touching and kissing and the next Stiles is slamming the door in his face and moving on with his life.

Derek is about to open his mouth to say something else, but his brow furrows and he looks at Stiles, cocking his head to the side. “What are you doing?” He asks, and Stiles notices he’s moved closer without realizing it. He’s leaning in close, and he’s… “…are you sniffing me?”

“No,” he immediately denies, backing away. But he’s a shit liar.

Derek observes him for a moment. Then, he breaks into a grin. The shit eating grin. The alpha one where he knows everything, and he points his index finger right into Stiles’ face. “You do want me.”

“Whether I do want you or I don’t want you, it doesn’t matter,” he blushes bright red and Derek sees that, too, loves it, smiles even bigger, but Stiles stands his ground. “How many times do I have to tell you? My father will kill you! It’s not hyperbole! It’s literal!”

“Tell me that’s all this is about,” he says, that begging note creeping back into his tone. “Look me in the eyes and tell me it’s just about your dad. Please.”

Stiles hesitates. He looks at the ground and he can’t do this, can’t be alone with Derek, can’t tell him the truth, can’t do any of it – because it’s a bad idea. The entire thing has been a bad idea. Stiles should go back in time to that moment when Derek came up to him to apologize for calling him sweetheart and tell Derek to not speak to him ever the fuck again, to leave him alone, because it is better that way.

The problem is, too much has happened since then. There’s no rewind button. He’s made his choices and there are consequences, god dammit.

Derek says, “Stiles. Come on.”

Stiles sighs through his nose and pinches the bridge of his nose. He takes in a deep breath, and then he looks up. He looks Derek right in the eyes. “If it weren’t for my dad…” he starts, and the words get stuck in his throat. He has to force them out. “…I would. We could.”

Derek knows what he means. He looks relieved and he looks like he wants to lean down and kiss Stiles on the mouth. And believe it when Stiles says there is nothing he wants more in this life than a kiss from Derek Hale, but he can’t let himself have it.

“But it’s moot. My dad is –“

“I don’t care about him. I don’t give a shit about that. I want you, I won’t lie about it, not to you.”

“This isn’t a joke –“

“I want you.” He repeats this, serious and severe. “Being with you was like nothing else I’ve ever fucking experienced in my life, and it wasn’t just the sex. I feel it. There’s something about you I cannot shake. You feel it, too, I know it.”

Stiles doesn’t deny it. He can’t. Derek reads his silence loud and clear for what it is, and he moves forward more on instinct than anything else. Stiles should move away. He should say no.

He just can’t find it in him, anymore, to deny himself what he wants.

They kiss, and it’s better than Stiles has ever dreamed about. It’s their first kiss outside of the haze of Stiles’ heat and it’s different at the same time it’s the exact same. Derek tastes the same and his lips feel the same and it makes the same thrill go up Stiles’ spine, but it’s better. Stiles can feel it more clearly. Derek’s skin, the smell of him, the feel of his body pressed up against Stiles’, how big he is, tall, so tall, so broad –

When Derek pulls away, he presses his forehead against Stiles’ and breathes right into his mouth. They pant into each other’s mouths for seconds on end, and Derek touches his face. It’s gentle. His fingers cradle his chin, his cheek, and Stiles wants to melt.

He has never felt like this before. He worries he will never be allowed to feel like it again.

“I say we do it anyway,” he pulls away suddenly and says this. Stiles blinks at him. “Let’s just - let’s just do it.”

“What do you mean? Like, sneak around?”

“Yeah, fuck it.”

“That can only end terribly,” he scoffs, shaking his head.

“Or it ends perfectly,” he shakes his head right back and takes Stiles by his hips, pulling him in close again. Stiles is powerless to stop it, letting their bodies crash into each other. “Or it ends with your dad seeing we’re meant to be together and we get married and you come with me to college and –“

“Jesus Christ, you’ve thought about this,” he accuses, and Derek nods like he isn’t embarrassed by it at all.

“Yes. A lot. All day long every day. I feel it every time I look at you. I want to fucking be with you, I’ll do anything.”

Stiles rubs at his face and he doesn’t know what to say, what to do, how to make this work. He knows that Derek is serious, and he is not kidding around or messing with Stiles’ head. When an alpha decides he wants an omega, that is fucking it. There is nothing at this point that Stiles could do to make it not so. Derek has decided. He’s made his choice, and it’s Stiles, consequences be damned.

They barely know each other. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes, especially with alphas and omegas, biology is everything. This is the kind of thing that Stiles could never make his dad believe, could never convince him is true. He’d think it was another lie, another manipulation by an alpha, another thing Stiles has no control over because Stiles is too stupid to know any better.

But Stiles knows, just like Derek knows. It’s right there. It’s not a lie. It’s real.

“I want to, but I’m scared,” he confesses, because there is nothing worse Stiles could imagine than his father finding out and putting a bullet in Derek’s head. “What if…”

“He never has to know until we want him to,” he insists, and Stiles knows in this moment that his mind has already been made up.

No matter how nervous he is, it’s done.

**

Stiles is not much for skipping or cutting class; he’s barely ever tardy. He does his work and turns it in on time, studies obsessively, does his readings, makes flash cards and aces all of his tests. It’s a point of pride for him to get perfect grades, because it’s like proof that he’s not a blow-up sex doll that’s simply come to life. He’s smart. He has his own individual thoughts.

It’s pointless to be such a good student, because it will never amount to anything, for him. Everyone else is applying to college. Stiles doesn’t even get flyers in the mail from colleges, because they know he’s an omega. It’s a thought that has been weighing on his shoulders more and more, listening to other kids talk about their SAT scores and what schools they’ve applied to and what their top three are. Stiles wasn’t even allowed to take the god damn SAT’s.

The idea that his grades impress no one and do nothing for him in the long run has depressed him as of late. His perfect attendance and studious discipline to always be on time starts to feel less and less important to him – as a result, it’s easy beyond easy for Derek to convince Stiles to come and meet him behind the dumpsters outside the cafeteria.

It’s a little fenced in area that Stiles finds when he follows Derek’s instructions. There’s the dumpsters tucked away, and they’re big enough that Stiles can only see the top of Derek’s head sticking out from the other side.

Once he steps around to join Derek in the enclave, no one can see them. It doesn’t smell great back here and there are flies buzzing around a giant heap of yesterday’s leftover spaghetti and meatballs, but it’s easy enough to ignore as soon as they’re standing close to one another.

“Hi,” Stiles says. They haven’t seen each other in person since the day before in the supply closet with the basketball team banging around on the other side of the wall – it feels like it’s been an eternity, but Derek looks the same and he smiles the same and he smells the same. “I’m supposed to be in History. Scott is probably wondering where I am.”

“You’re not even telling Scott?” He’s drinking Hawaiian Punch out of a can he bought from the vending machines. It makes his lips more red, and Stiles likes that.

“Uh, no. He can’t keep a secret to save his god damn life. You’re not telling your asshole friends, are you?”

“Okay,” he laughs, “you have had a problem with them since day one, and they’ve barely ever even spoken to you. Why is that?”

“I don’t like alphas. It’s kind of on sight. Like Tom and Jerry.”

He gestures between the two of them with one finger as he takes a big sip of his juice, raising his eyebrows. When he swallows, he smirks. “Yet you’ve snuck away from class to come stand by the spaghetti monster just to see me.”

“Well,” he straightens up and grips his backpack straps. “You’re….you.”

“I am.”

“And they’re just – alphas.”

He finishes his juice and throws the can into the dumpster, where it clatters and clangs its way to the bottom.

“So, did you tell them or not?”

“Of course not,” he stuffs his hands into his pockets and shrugs. “They don’t like you either.”

“Uh, what the hell! Why?” For some reason, he’s mad about this.

“You just said you hate them on principle alone, and now you’re mad they don’t like you either?” He thinks this is funny.

Stiles scoffs, offended. “I’ve given them no reason to dislike me.”

“You told them to eat shit.”

“An offer which still stands, by the way,” he mutters darkly, narrowing his eyes.

“They think you’re stuck up and prissy. I mean, you are.”

“Prissy?” He frowns. “Why? Because I don’t like being called a whore sixty times a day?”

Derek smiles at him. There seems to be nothing that Derek Hale enjoys more than getting him riled up. “Your clothes are always ironed, your hair is always done, you won’t eat the cafeteria food, you used being an omega to get out of PE –“

“Since when is any of that a crime?”

“It’s not,” he shrugs, still loving every second of this. “It’s just…prissy.”

“Did you invite me here to mock me?” Stiles crosses his arms over his chest and scowls; truth be told, he knows he is sort of stuck up and he knows he is sort of a priss – but it’s infuriating to be labeled as such by other people. Especially by alphas who know nothing about him. “I thought we were going to – I don’t know – hold hands or something.”

Derek has still got his hands deep in the pockets of his khakis, and he cocks his head to the side to assess Stiles in his entirety. His neat tie, his crisp white button down that yes his mother pressed for him, his squeaky clean khakis. “Is that what you want to do?”

“I don’t know,” he admits as his ears go pink. “I’ve never had a secret relationship or even a public one. I don’t know the protocol.” He rubs at his arm absentmindedly, maybe just for something to do aside from standing here feeling exposed.

“We can do whatever you like.”

Stiles goes red again. If there were a record for getting embarrassed, Stiles would hold the champion title just on account of Derek Hale alone. He stares at his shoes and he feels silly, like the dumbest person to ever walk the earth, but he clears his throat and says, “maybe kiss? If that’s okay.”

“What is it with you and kissing?”

“It’s – I don’t know,” he laughs and shakes his head, “I just…like it.”

Derek steps closer to him. “The way you think of kissing is like how anyone else would think of fucking. Like it’s the most romantic and clandestine thing two people could possibly do.”

That is true. After all, when Stiles has his terribly arousing dreams about Derek, they are never having sex. The suggestion of sex is there, yes, and it always leads to Stiles waking up with the need to jerk off, but the main theme is always just kissing. Stiles doesn’t know where he gets that from. He’s read his fair share of romance novels and seen enough movies, where kissing is as far as anyone is allowed to go – maybe that’s what did it.

Plus, Stiles isn’t even allowed to talk to alphas. Kissing is clandestine and bad. As bad as sex, even.

“It’s another thing that makes you prissy,” Derek tacks on, lifting a single eyebrow.

Stiles says, “shut up,” and grabs Derek by the lapels of his school jacket. Derek grins, and Stiles grips onto him harder. All of his pins scattered messily with no rhyme or reason, a stain leftover from his breakfast this morning maybe. “Just – just shut up.”

“All right,” he agrees.

Stiles’ eyes flick to Derek’s lips, and Derek doesn’t miss it. Stiles has never in his life initiated a kiss, and he’s not about to do it now, either, because the thought of leaning forward nearly makes his skin break out in hives.

Derek reads this hesitation for what it is and says, “you know, we’ve already done this. And more. A lot more.”

It’s true. But heat makes things easier. Heat is all instinct, no thought. This is all thought. Stiles is not good with overthinking; it paralyzes him. He swallows and says, “you do it first.”

“You do it first,” Derek challenges. Stiles wants to fucking kill him in this moment – he is just so fucking arrogant and idiotic and frustrating and so fucking annoying.

Stiles curls his fingers into his jacket deeper and pulls him in close. They are not at equal height by a long shot, so Stiles has to pull him downward, and Derek still won’t kiss him. “I don’t know how,” he admits.

“Oh, you know how,” Derek laughs in his face. “During your heat, you proved that about a million times over. It’s natural.”

Stiles swallows. “Because I’m a slutty omega.”

“No. Because it’s not rocket science.”

Oh, good god. Stiles bites the bullet. He leans forward and attacks Derek’s lips with his own and then immediately pulls away. His lips are tingling. Derek tastes like fruit punch.

They kiss again and Stiles grips onto him even tighter, stepping in between his feet and thrusting his body up against his – he licks Derek’s teeth and his mouth and his lips and he sucks on his tongue and can’t help it when his hands wander down his chest, then back up again. Maybe Derek is right; this does sort of come naturally. His body tells him he wants to feel Derek’s chest underneath his shirt, so he does that. His body tells him he wants to bite Derek’s bottom lip, so he does that. He has no idea if this is even remotely enjoyable for Derek, but he very nearly doesn’t care.

He gets an answer to that question anyway when he pulls back to catch his breath, and Derek’s eyes are all glazed over, heavy with want, his breath coming out quick between his teeth. Stiles stares at him, and he stares back.

The arrogant fuckbag from earlier is not present, anymore. Derek’s edges have been softened out. He says, “I want to make you come so bad.”

Stiles laughs. He covers his mouth and he laughs and laughs, so it echos up to the top of the building.

Derek ignores this in favor of reaching out to undo the top button on Stiles’ collar – he gets it loose and then works on undoing the tie, while Stiles just stands there and giggles because it tickles on his neck. Derek gets the tie off so it dangles limply, and then he leans in and buries his face into Stiles’ neck.

Stiles laughs again. He can’t help it. This one is louder. If anyone were trying to hear them, they certainly could, but he can’t find it in himself to care.

Derek presses kisses into his skin and Stiles goes batty again, panting out these noises that are half-laughs and half-moans. Derek is close enough against him that he feels that he’s getting hard, and that’s totally circus elephants to Stiles, because they’re barely doing anything. And Derek is hard. He laughs some more and Derek sucks hard on his skin so the laughing turns into moaning again, and Derek gets even more hard.

“You can’t leave hickeys on me,” Stiles protests, pushing Derek away, much to his evident chagrin.

“Why?”

“Uh, because it’s like a big neon sign that says I’m fucking someone.”

“Exactly,” he leans forward again and moves to leave another mark, but Stiles dodges out of the way.

“Seriously. My dad will call the cops on me if he sees it. And ironically, that’s just a phone call to himself.”

Derek makes a face, and he seems determined to argue. “Leaving marks on each other that we cover up with our clothes is part of the Romeo and Juliet thing.”

Yikes. “This is not Romeo and Juliet.”

“If you told me to plunge a sword into my gut right now, I’d do it.”

Double yikes. “Derek,” he laughs, because that’s got to be a joke. But he is not joking. He’s dead serious, as a heart attack, likely because the arousal has gotten into his head and made him absolutely nutter butter. Stiles is not equipped to have this much power over somebody, especially not this early on, so he doesn’t quite know what to say or do. “I’m sort of more of the opinion that neither of us should do anything that crazy.”

Derek kisses him on the mouth again, hard. “I want to bend you over and –“

“Over what? The dumpster?” He gestures to it wildly, all the flies and the spaghetti and the bags of trash reeking to high heavens, and Derek observes it with a sort of detachment. Like it does not seriously matter what he’s bending Stiles over, so long as he is. “Oh, Jesus. I better – we better not,” he reaches up and buttons his button again, shaking his head. “You are an animal.”

“You’re leaving?”

Stiles ties his tie and smiles, while Derek watches his fingers work a little too obsessively. “Before you seriously try to fuck me next to a bunch of dead rats, yes.”

“But,” he starts, then can’t think of a good excuse.

“I should get back to class anyway,” he smooths his shirt and jacket out and clears his throat. “You, too.”

“I don’t care about class,” he reaches out and grabs at Stiles’ hand, holding it in both of his own. “I’ll go down on you, seriously.”

Stiles chortles another hysterical laugh that goes up to high heavens, because no one has ever given him an offer like that. Or, Derek has, and Stiles had agreed, but that was – well, you know. Different. They weren’t at school, for one.

“Later,” he says after his fit of laughter dissipates. “I don’t know when because we’re not doing that at school, but…”

“You can come to my house.”

“Would your mother be –“

“She’s not going to tell your parents, I already talked to her about it. You can come over, seriously.”

Stiles bites his lip. He knows beyond any shadow of a doubt that if he goes to Derek’s house, he will wind up in Derek’s bedroom. And if he winds up in Derek’s bedroom, he will wind up in Derek’s bed. And if he winds up in Derek’s bed, then he’s going to wind up having sex.

Truth be told, even though he knows they’ve fucked a dozen times and has the memories to prove it to himself, he is nervous for it. Derek is big. He remembers the size of him. And it’s one thing when he’s in heat and his body literally prepares itself to be attacked that way.

It’s another when he’s not, and it doesn’t. Not to mention, he’s just a fucking scaredy-cat to begin with. A clueless scaredy-cat.

Derek senses hesitation and he steps forward, leaning down to speak directly into Stiles’ ear in a low murmur. “I want you so badly.”

Stiles finds it surprising, that he actually likes to be wanted. The way Derek wants him is different than how other alphas want him – and it’s because Derek’s want is one that he wants right back. He wants Derek to think about fucking him and to think about kissing him and touching him and being with him. He wants Derek to jerk off in the shower thinking of him. He wants Derek to not be able to eat or sleep because he can’t see Stiles. He wants Derek to be obsessed.

“Okay,” Stiles says. “Maybe this weekend.”

“This weekend,” he hastily agrees. “Okay.”

“Okay.” They stare at one another. Stiles’ mouth goes dry, because all he can think of is Derek’s tongue. And who the hell knows what’s going through Derek’s disgusting fucking mind. “We should – go separately so no one sees us together.”

“All right.”

Stiles hesitates. He kind of wants to take Derek to his Jeep and make out there for the rest of the school day, but it’s not an option. It is not an option.

Right?

Right. Totally. He clears his throat and turns without a word, because if he says anything he’ll just talk himself out of it, and he goes. He feels Derek’s eyes on the back of his neck the entire time, and it makes him feel giddy and insane at the same time.

The first thing that Scott says to him when he climbs into Stiles’ Jeep after the school day is, “where the hell were you in History class?”

Stiles hadn’t actually come up with an excuse. He had tried to in his other classes, truly he made a valiant effort – but then he’d just wind up thinking about Derek’s hands and his shoulders and the way he smiles at Stiles and how he talks and…you get it. It was a waste of his fucking time.

“Well,” he starts, grinding the gears into reverse, “I…skipped it.”

“Obviously. Where were you?”

“Well,” he backs out and cuts his wheel, clearing his throat. “I…was playing hooky.”

Scott stares at the side of his face as they cruise through the parking lot. He probably thinks that Stiles is having some kind of a stroke. “But where were you?”

“I was just –“ he stops at the crosswalk, and it’s some bizarre twist of fate or god punishing him or maybe the devil controlling the narrative, but Derek Hale happens to be crossing the parking lot at that exact second. “Um.” Stiles loses his train of thought.

Derek walks in front of the Jeep and makes direct eye contact with Stiles. He grins, and then he looks at Scott and does a small wave with the half of his hand that isn’t underneath the strap of his backpack, like he barely cares to wave at all. Stiles goes silent and watches him walk, throat itching, brain going quiet – Scott is not stupid.

Well. He sort of is. But he’s not that stupid.

“What the hell was that?” He demands, watching Derek go out of his way to look over his shoulder to maintain Stiles’ eye contact. Jesus Christ. He might as well be waving a sign around that reads I am fucking the resident omega in big glowing neon lettering. “Stiles? Hello?”

“Huh?” Stiles blinks. He is still sitting there with his foot on the brake, even though the cross walk is empty, now. Derek is going across the lot to his shiny silver car and Stiles imagines that it’s leather interior, that it reeks like alpha and sweat, and he imagines that they’re fully going to have sex in that car at some point –

Stiles.”

“Yeah?” He’s still sitting at the cross walk. The car behind him honks, and he looks in his rear view mirror to see one of the alpha jackholes from the lacrosse team riding up on his ass and honking again, and again. Stiles glares at him and then hits the gas, shaking his head.

“What’s going on with you?” Scott asks, seeming frustrated. “You never skip. Never.”

He stops at the red light and grips his steering wheel extra hard, heaving out a great big sigh. “Well, what exactly is the point of me even going to school anymore at this point?”

Like he can’t believe Stiles just said that, Scott gapes at him. “What?”

“I mean, I’m not going to college. I’m not applying to college. My grades mean nothing.”

“They don’t mean nothing,” he snaps, shaking his head. “They mean you’re smart, smarter than any of these dicknoses,” he makes a sweeping gesture across the parking lot.

“I’ve already proven that ten times over. I just - don’t get the point anymore.”

The light turns green and he goes.

“The point is you’re – you’re making a point. That omegas aren’t stupid.”

Stiles shrugs. “People who think that will always think that whether I go to history class or not.”

This is shaking Scott’s entire foundation. He squeezes his eyes shut as though he thinks he’s having a nightmare he can wake himself up from, but then he opens them, and everything is still happening. “What are you talking about?” He half-yells, and it’s loud in the tight space of the jeep. “Is this more bullshit rhetoric you’re parroting from your dad?”

“No,” which is true. But these are opinions his father has made clear before in the past. Truthfully, the guy is probably just waiting for graduation so he can foist his son off on the first beta he deems halfworthy of the honor. Higher education for Stiles has never occurred to his father. Not even a job. He expects Stiles to get married to some mild mannered cop, definitely a cop, and then Stiles will just sit at home twiddling his thumbs for the rest of his god damn life. “It’s senior year. I’m tired.”

Scott is slack jawed. “You’re not telling me something,” he accuses, and Stiles is a shit liar, so he keeps his eyes dead on the road. “You’re keeping a secret.”

“No secret.” It falls flat.

“Pull over.”

“What? No, I’m –“

He pounds his palms on the dashboard again and again, “pull this god damn car over!”

Stiles is startled into doing what he’s asked. He slows and pulls onto the shoulder, while Scott keeps going berserk in the passenger seat, ripping his seatbelt off as the Jeep stops, rounding on Stiles with his eyes big in his head. “You tell me what’s going on right now, Stiles Stilinski, or I’ll fucking go insane. I mean it.”

Stiles has no plan B. He has no backup plan. He hadn’t even formulated a lie, something to tell people that will get them off the scent of the truth. That’s how much of a shitty fucking secret keeper he is; because he’s never kept one before. It’s damn near impossible to hide secrets from his father, so he has never bothered beyond little white lies like what he’s reading about and how school is going.

“Nothing,” he says, and Scott nearly has an aneurism.

“I will rip this car apart wheel by wheel, door by door –“

“All right, all right,” he shouts to be heard over Scott’s hysterics. “I will tell you. On one condition,” he points to Scott with his index finger, hoping it’s menacing enough to be taken seriously, “you have got to keep your god damn mouth shut. You can’t even tell Allison.”

Scott hesitates. He tells Allison every single thought that passes through his brain, so this is a big ask. A huge ask. He works his jaw and then he sighs through his nose. “Fine.”

“Swear it.” Stiles offers his pinky out, and Scott sighs, again. A long suffering sigh of the damned. He takes Stiles’ pinky in his own and nods his head solemnly.

“I swear on my mother’s life.”

Stiles separates their pinkies and he turns to face forward for a moment, thinking about the best way to word this. He opens and closes his mouth a couple of times, and Scott just sits and waits, completely wrapt in anticipation for what Stiles is about to say. Stiles rubs his face a couple of times, and then he turns back to meet Scott’s eyes. “Derek Hale –“

It’s all he’s able to get out before Scott is reaching out and banging the hell out of Stiles’ dashboard again, hollering, “I knew it,” and he keeps right on banging. “I knew it, I knew it, I knew it, I fucking knew it.”

“We –“

“I knew. The moment you came back to school after your heat I knew it,” he points an accusatory finger in Stiles’ face. “You were way too relaxed after. And Derek being out on the exact same days because his,” he does air quotes here, “great uncle died? My ass. Holy shit,” he puts his hands on his face and gets this far away look in his eyes, “you had sex with him.”

Stiles shrugs his shoulders helplessly.

“You had sex with him,” he repeats this like he simply cannot believe it, “you’re still having sex with him! You – I knew it. You and him. It just makes perfect sense, you can’t imagine, I know him so well, and it just adds up, two plus two equals four. Oh this is so great,” he grabs Stiles by his shoulder and squeezes, affectionate and familiar, “this is the greatest thing that’s ever happened. I knew it. You two are going to get married and then your dad can’t pawn you off on one of his gross deputies, and Derek is so –“

“You’re getting ahead of yourself,” Stiles interrupts. Given the chance Scott could just go on and on and on about how this is the best day ever and he always knew it was going to happen and now Stiles’ life is un-fucked and everything is going to be okay in the end; he has an optimistic disposition, and that’s not his fault. But the reality is… “this whole thing is just fucked up, right now.”

Scott frowns. “What do you mean?” It’s like he cannot imagine anything about this being bad.

“Well,” Stiles hacks out a sarcastic laugh, “for starters, my dad will end his entire life the second he finds out about this.”

Scott churns that around and around in his head, but he says nothing.

“Second of all, we can’t tell anybody because, again, if my dad finds out he will end Derek’s entire life,” he counts off on his fingers, “third of all I don’t think anything I say will make my dad let me marry him, fourth of all I cannot think of a way to get away with it, but fifth of all, I’m completely fucked, because…” he shakes his head and he frowns and he looks out his windshield, as cars pass them by, “...I think we’re like,” he holds one index finger out, and then his other, and slowly brings them together, while Scott watches. “…you know how they say alphas are meant to be with omegas and vice versa?”

“Yeah.”

“I think that’s me and him,” he says, and Scott nods along, like duh, like obviously, like of course. But the issue is, he’s spent his entire life being taught that that is a load of horseshit, some big lie that alphas tell omegas so they can force them into mating, and then as his dad would say, if Stiles ever believed that he’d just wind up chained in someone’s basement.

Derek would never in a million years do that to him. It’s not like that. His dad will never believe it. It’s a whole ass problem.

“Why is it such a problem that you only want alphas?” He demands, and he’s mad about it. “I mean, you’ve told him that, haven’t you?”

“Uh,” he scratches at his cheek. “I’ve never wanted one like this before.”

Scott blinks at the side of his face and seems quietly stunned by that information. “…just Derek?”

Stiles nods. Yes, only Derek. Derek is the first and he may very well be the last, and it’s starting to feel more and more like there is nothing that Stiles can do about that.

“Oh, my God. I told you he loves you. I said that. After your false heat, and you laughed at me.”

“I wouldn’t use that word,” he corrects, but Scott is resolute.

“You’ve told him your dad will kill him, and he’s still doing it. It’s true love. I’m shaking,” he holds his hands out in the air between them, and sure enough, they are certainly shaking. “I’m so revved up about this. Stiles, now you get to choose your own life.” He grabs Stiles by shoulders and shakes him, just once, like he’s trying to get Stiles to wake up and realize this for himself. “You get to marry Derek, who loves you, and wants you to do what you want.”

“I might not,” he says, voice tight, and Scott frowns at him again, like he doesn’t understand. “…I might not get to. That’s the problem. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Scott sits with that information for just a moment, and it looks like he’s trying to think his way out of it. “Well, what if you just…did it?”

Stiles blanches. He immediately shakes his head and he laughs, even though it’s not funny, but it is a completely ridiculous suggestion. Yes, if he were to just up and go to the courthouse with Derek and marry him there is absolutely nothing that his dad would be able to do about it. Alpha claims are taken very seriously. It’s law. The second it’s on paper with an alpha’s signature, he is their property, period. He could. And he would get away with it, too.

But it would break his father’s god damn heart, and in spite of everything, in spite of how his dad treats him and how much of a sexist he really is, Stiles cannot do it. He can’t. That’s another whole ass problem. There are a lot of them in this situation.

“What are you going to do, then? You can’t let him pair you off with a beta, it would ruin your life!”

Stiles is aware of that. He is more acutely aware of that now than he has ever been before in his life. Now, he is certain a beta could never satisfy him sexually or mentally or romantically or at all, in any way shape or form. Now, he is certain he wants an alpha, a specific alpha, that one right there, and there’s nothing that will make him stop feeling that way. “I don’t know,” he confesses, and Scott puts his hand on Stiles’ shoulder again. The squeeze this time is not one of excitement – it’s like a silent I’m sorry.

“I will not tell a soul,” he repeats, nodding resolutely. “I will sooner fall on my own sword, for real. But you should really just marry the guy and run away with him.”

Stiles starts his engine and he drives off the shoulder, and he knows he’ll never be able to do it. It is seriously the only way out of this situation, but he can’t do it. Family loyalty is important to him, in spite of everything. He couldn’t do it.

**

Derek, 4:45 PM : What are you doing?
Me, 4:47 PM : Homework. I’m sorta behind in my classes.
Derek, 4:48 PM : But I thought you were all about your classes?
Me, 4:51 PM : To tell you the truth, I’m feeling more and more like there’s no fucking point, but I don’t really want to talk about that. What are you doing?
Derek, 4:54 PM : Watching porn
Me, 4:55 PM : Oh for fuck’s sake. Of course you are.
Derek, 4:57 PM : Well somebody wouldn’t have sex with me next to the dumpsters today. I have to make due somehow.

Stiles pushes his books aside and focuses his full attention onto his phone – he looks over his shoulder to make sure his bedroom door is shut tight, and then he bites on his finger and smirks to himself. He feels silly. He sort of wants to be better about sex. Like, he wants to be able to talk about it and he wants to say stuff to Derek like what Derek says to him. He doesn’t want to be prissy in this particular scenario anymore, because he likes sex and he likes the idea of sex and thinking about it, so he bites the bullet.

Me, 5:01 PM : What kinda porn is it? Just wondering.
Derek, 5:04 PM : Want the link? It’s male omega/male omega.
Me, 5:05 PM : They have that??????

Stiles always figured most porn, especially most porn that alphas would be watching, would feature heavily on violence against omegas being perpetrated by alphas. He thought that it would all be heat-rape type shit, or just rapey shit in general, because that’s the kind of things that alphas have said to him for years, like in that letter to the editor that Derek got mad about.

It’s baffling to imagine there are actual omega porn stars out there. But then, it must be a fucking goldmine.

Derek, 5:07 PM : Stilinski, they have everything you could think of. Alpha/omega, beta/omega, alpha/alpha, men and women, women and women. Whatever you’re into, they have.
Me, 5:11 PM : Have you ever watched the alpha/alpha stuff?
Derek, 5:13 PM : Yeah. Not my thing. You want the link or what?

Stiles looks at his bedroom door again. Then, he launches himself at his bed and climbs up onto his belly, facing the door so he’ll know if someone walks in, and he takes a deep breath.

Me, 5:14 PM : Yeah, I’ll watch it.
Derek, 5:15 PM : What’s got you suddenly so interested? Last time I asked you went nuts and got all embarrassed.
Me, 5:16 PM : Well, I’d like to know stuff. About sex. Like how everyone else knows about it. I wanna be good at it.
Derek, 5:17 PM : You are.
Me, 5:19 PM : I mean, sexy. So when we have sex and it’s not my heat I can be, like, knowledgeable. You have no clue how sheltered I’ve been my entire life. I wanna see porn, I wanna do it, link me.

Derek sends him the link without any further commentary. He stares at it and he gets nervous, checking to make sure his door is closed for the third time in a row. Then, he taps it with his finger and covers his mouth with his hand, watching it load up. It’s on PornHub which he’s heard of but never dared to actually look at before, and he has absolutely no chance to psych himself up to watching it – it just starts playing.

Loudly. Out of his phone speaker.

He goes nuts and flails his phone a bit, as moaning blares out of it, and then he shuts it off. He breathes out, waiting for footsteps to come charging down the hall to demand what he’s doing, banish him to hell for watching porn, take his phone away and lock it up in the safe.

No one comes. He sighs in relief and fishes his headphones out from his backpack on the ground, plugging them in and then shoving them into his ears, getting his phone back into his face and hitting play.

This is the single most insane thing he’s ever seen in his life. There is no such thing as omegas who get into relationships with one another, he’s always been taught – there is literally no point. Male omegas can’t reproduce either which way. They cannot impregnate someone else and they can’t get pregnant; they literally do not have the parts to do so. They can’t even fuck someone else. Generations of alphas circumcising omegas down to essentially nothing has seen to that. Stiles never once in his life imagined he’d be sitting watching two male omegas having sex but it’s happening.

He puts his hand over his mouth and gapes. It’s nuts. He stops the video to stare out into space for seconds on end, opening and closing his mouth around the shock. He never knew omegas…he never thought? This is turning his world on its axis.

Derek, 5:30 PM : Do you like it?
Me, 5:34 PM : It’s something. I’ve never heard of omegas having sex together before. I’m processing the information. I’m completely freaked out.
Derek, 5:36 PM : What would make you think omegas wouldn’t fuck each other? Why not???
Me, 5:38 PM : It’s not really part of the narrative you’re given when you’re like me. I can’t explain. Just take my word for it….this is blowing my mind. I’m just in shock. It’s…hot.
Derek, 5:40 PM : Of course it’s hot. It’s two omegas going to town on each other. There is nothing more attractive in this world than a male omega to me. Obviously.

Stiles ruminates over that for a moment, blinking at his text thread and hemming and hawing. He wonders if that is something that got put into Derek’s brain, that’s linked with the fact that he’s absolutely meant to be with Stiles, in the end. He wonders if they were seriously meant to be together and if that’s why Derek thinks male omegas are the best thing that’s ever happened to this world, and if that’s why Stiles goes nuts over Derek being tall and broad.

Derek always says there’s just something about Stiles that keeps him coming back for more. It’s not just that he’s an omega. It’s that he’s Stiles. It’s hard to explain.

Derek, 5:45 PM : You wanna sext?
Me, 5:46 PM : What???? No!!!!!!!!!!!!
Derek, 5:47 PM : I thought you said you were trying to be more of a pervert.
Me, 5:48 PM : You are a big enough pervert for the both of us, first off. Second off, no, I can’t do that. My parents are home. What would I even say?
Derek, 5:50 PM : That you love my huge cock, duh.

Stiles loses his mind. He kicks his legs into his bedsheets and cackles, absolutely chortles up at his ceiling, burying his face into his pillow to stifle the noise some.

Me, 5:53 PM : Hmmm… no thanks!!
Derek, 5:55 PM : Uh, don’t you?
Me, 5:56 PM : 🤔🤔🤔
Derek, 5:57 PM : 🥺🥺🥺
Me, 5:58 PM : It’s okay. It’s, like, average.
Derek, 6:01 PM : You’re just teasing me, but so you know, I’m deeply wounded. This is what is finally going to break me.

Stiles laughs and bites his index finger, because Derek is funny in a way no alpha on earth has ever been. He’s considering throwing Derek a bone and admitting that, yes, his dick is pretty nice and also pretty big, when his dad comes into his bedroom without knocking.

Stiles jumps and immediately drops his phone to bury it underneath his pillow.

“Dinner’s almost ready,” he says, and he judges the scene. Stiles’ books long forgotten on his desk table, Stiles himself in bed with his phone hidden underneath his pillow. It’s the man’s entire job to assess scenes and make judgments about them, so he cocks his head to the side and observes Stiles a bit more critically.

“Uh, okay. I’ll be down in a second.”

“What are you doing in here?”

Stiles swallows. He pulls his phone out from underneath his pillow, because hiding it is incriminating. He says, “texting with Scott.”

“About what?”

“Classes.”

“What class?”

“History.”

He hovers in the doorway for a moment. Then, he steps all the way inside and Stiles’ heart drops into his ass. He considers trying to ball his phone up and eat it so the evidence is gone, or making a break for it and running to the bathroom and flushing it into the ocean, or jumping out the window to electrocute himself on the fence, or any number of things.

Instead, he just sits there, frozen and paralyzed in fear, as his dad sits down on the edge of the bed right next to him. Stiles has no idea what’s about to happen or what he’s about to say, and his heart is beating so loud in his chest it should just up and fly away, at this point. “I know you’re not happy with me about what I said to that Derek Hale boy.”

Stiles stares at him, mouth agape, but silent.

“I know you think he’s such a great guy just because he didn’t force himself on you the second he had the chance. I’m here to tell you that’s the bare minimum, kid.”

“I know it’s the bare minimum,” he defends, voice shaky. “But he –“

“No buts,” he interrupts, so Stiles snaps his jaw shut and glowers. He stares at his pillow, and his phone buzzes in his hand, so he turns it face down.

“He’s nice to me –“

“Of course he is,” the Sheriff huffs a laugh. “He wants you to think he’s nice.”

Stiles doesn’t know why, but he argues. He never argues. Especially not about alphas. This time, he sits up and tosses his phone aside, meeting his dad’s eyes head on. “You know, you don’t even know him. You always assume all alphas are the exact same, but you –“

“What exactly is going on between you and this boy?”

Stiles shuts up. He’s being idiotic. Arguing this intensely in Derek’s defense is not a good idea; it’s a horrible idea. It can only incriminate them both, in the long run. “Nothing,” he says, shaking his head. “I barely know him. He’s in my English class.”

“You like him?”

Stiles shakes his head. “No, I – I just said I don’t know him.”

“But you have a crush on him.”

“No,” he looks away. For just the briefest of seconds, he glances away, and his dad reads people for lies. He knows how to. He’s good at it. Stiles’ averted gaze tells him all he needs to know, so he stands and he puts his hands on his hips. He’s still got his uniform on with his utility belt. The gun and everything.

“Uh huh,” he says, observing his son. “How about we get you into a different English class.”

“That’s not – I’m not – it’s nothing!”

“You shouldn’t be around him if you like him so much. Who knows what will end up happening?”

Stiles bites his tongue. He wants to scream that he can control himself, that even if he did have a crush on Derek it wouldn’t matter because he’s not some sex-stupid animal who jumps on any alpha who shows him the least bit of attention. He wants to say he’s sick of this bullshit, he hates being treated this way, he hates having his entire life controlled by an alpha even if it his father, he doesn’t care anymore. He’s eighteen.

“Do you have any other classes with him?”

Lunch period, Stiles thinks. But then he doesn’t want to give it up, because he likes seeing Derek at lunch even if they can’t sit together. They look at each other sometimes, and it’s silly, it sounds silly, but Stiles likes to see him. Just seeing him. He says, “no, just…English,” resigned and irritated, sighing through his nose.

His dad says nothing else. He leaves the room with the door wide open because Stiles has to go down for dinner soon anyway, and what’s he need to be closing the door for? He has no real privacy, in this fucking house. He’s going to call the school and get his schedule moved around to be sure Derek Hale will not cross his son’s path at any point during the day, nevermind the fact that Stiles is used to his schedule and he likes his teachers and his classmates.

None of that matters. Stiles wants to cry, but he has no time.

He glances at his phone one more time and sees a notification from Derek, but he can’t answer it. He leaves his phone under his pillow and goes down to dinner. He sits quietly and eats and only speaks when he’s spoken to, and he wants to scream.

He just wants to fucking scream.

**

At school the next day, he has to go to the office and pick up a copy of his new schedule. He does so bitterly, angrily clomping in and glaring at the secretary as she stares down her glasses at him and purses her lips. She probably thinks exactly what his father thinks; which is that he had to get his schedule changed around because of some alpha he’s obsessed with, just typical omega bullshit. He huffs a sigh as she slides it over to him and he rips it out of her hands, observing it.

They had to switch everything around just to get him out of Derek’s English class. The only class that’s the same is his History period. The rest is a jumble that he has to figure out, now.

He goes to a different homeroom and everyone blinks and stares at him as he sinks into his seat. In his new Chemistry class he’s paired with an alpha girl who seems irritated by him, frowning and rolling her eyes because she got saddled with the omega who is certainly a complete fucking idiot and will be utterly useless to her other than his good looks.

In his new English class, Scott is there, blessedly. But as he walks in, a bit late because he had to run around trying to find the classroom, he notices that there’s one of those nutso alphas from the lacrosse team in this class, as well. It’s the same one who was stuck behind Stiles at the crosswalk yesterday, that honked at him and glared through his windshield. They meet eyes as Stiles walks in, and he follows Stiles’ every movement.

It’s unnerving. Stiles ducks his head and goes to his seat next to Scott, who perks up and says he can’t believe his schedule got this fucked just because Stiles might have had a crush on Derek, according to his dad.

All through class, the alpha stares at him. It makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He turns over his shoulder to look back, at one point, and the guy smiles at him. Shiny white teeth. Stiles doesn’t like it, so he turns to face front and scowls. Of course he’s got class with a psychopath, now. Why not?

When the bell rings and everyone gets up to collect their things and hustle on to their next classes, Stiles is dawdling, staring at his schedule to find he’s now expected to be on the other side of fucking campus. Scott says goodbye and leaves Stiles to his own devices – he’s one of the few stragglers still left in the room, as the teacher erases the board.

A hard shoulder bumps into him. It makes his arm jerk, so he loses grip on his new schedule and it flutters to the floor.

“Oh, whoops,” it’s the alpha from the lacrosse team. Up close, he’s got piercing blue eyes and meticulously styled brown hair, and he’s tall. They’re all tall, but this one especially. Stiles swallows and watches him bend down to pick up the schedule for him, straightening back up to his full height and offering it to him with a small smile. “Didn’t see you there, omega.”

“Stiles.”

“What?”

“My name,” he says, narrowing his eyes. “Is Stiles.”

He doesn’t seem to care about that. He shrugs, and pushes past Stiles’ body. He deliberately rubs their bodies together and Stiles jumps back with a confused frown – what the hell? He stares at his back as he leaves the room, and under his breath he mutters, “fucking psycho.”

In the newsroom at the end of his class day, he sits down at his desk and spins in his chair for a moment. Then, he sits up and says, “hey, Lydia.”

Her desk is only five feet away from his own at the front of the room. She’s chewing on a pen and doesn’t even look at him, just grunts to let him know that she heard him.

“Your ex-boyfriend is on the lacrosse team, so –“

“We actually got back together,” she corrects, still not looking at him. Just as Allison predicted, then.

“…so, you know who’s all on the team. Like, their names.”

She finally looks up from what she was doing and squints at him. “Yes, I do.”

He rubs at the back of his neck. Honestly, he would ask Derek, but something tells him that if Stiles mentioned any of this to Derek, then that would only lead to big, huge, trouble. If Derek knew that there was some alpha who refused to call Stiles by his name and was staring at him all throughout class, he’d go ballistic.

“This kid in my new English class is on the lacrosse team, but I wondered what his name is. Uh, he’s extremely tall. He’s got blue eyes. He’s a complete dick.”

She shifts in her seat to face him directly. “Why do you want to know what his name is?”

“He wouldn’t call me by my name.”

“So what did he call you?”

Stiles grits his teeth. “Omega.”

Lydia snorts and rolls her eyes. “That is Hunter Morrison. He’s a sexist pig and also a psychopath.”

“Those are all things I picked up on,” he waves his hand, like none of that actually matters. It doesn’t. He just wanted to know his name, for his own peace of mind.

“I’m surprised he’s still on the team,” she gives him a bit of an eye as she says this, like she knows something he doesn’t. “Considering Derek hates him.”

“Derek sort of hates everybody,” he says, and at her look, he clears his throat and says, “so I’ve heard.”

“Right,” she frowns at him and then shakes her head, like it doesn’t matter. “But especially Hunter. Derek has been campaigning to get him off the team for two years, now, but sadly, he’s actually sort of good at the game. And, you know. Being a complete asshole doesn’t actually matter if you can play a sport well.”

Hunter hasn’t actually done anything to him. But you know when you see someone and an alarm bell goes off in your head, for no apparent reason? Stiles will avoid him to the best of his ability, but he has this sneaking suspicion that Hunter is the one who wrote that letter to the editor. Other alphas at this school have been sexist yes and have been lascivious yes and they’ve even assaulted him. Truth be told, that’s all par for the course.

But Hunter reads as uniquely malicious. Like, the kind of person who genuinely believes omegas should be locked up the second they present. Call it intuition.

Stiles pulls his laptop out of his bag and sets it up on his desk, leaning back in his chair and swiveling from side to side, again and again. Truthfully, he’s feeling a bit of writer’s block. Even though his first article was generally well received, he cannot for the life of him think of what to write about next. His thoughts have been so totally consumed by Derek as of late that he’s been, frankly, slacking on his school work in all other departments. Which really isn’t like him, but fuck it.

Just…fuck it.

Across the room, he catches eyes with Isaac Lahey. That’s one of Derek’s friends, the tall one who always looks unbelievably annoyed at Stiles’ existence every time they cross paths. In testament to this, Isaac sort of sneers at him before looking back at his own laptop, his fingers typing away. At least Isaac actually has something to fucking write about. He swivels about in his chair some more, and it creaks. It’s very creaky. He tests the creak to see exactly how creaky it is, again and again, until Lydia clears her throat very pointedly.

He stops creaking and goes on to chewing his pen.

Frankly, this has been a god awful fucking nightmare of a day, and he hasn’t gotten more than a glimpse of Derek in the halls to make matters worse. He huffs and puffs over his laptop for a while, but then he just winds up closing it and packing his stuff back up, strapping his bag onto his back and making a bee line for the exit.

At his retreating back, Lydia calls, “I need your next piece on my desk by the end of the week, Stiles.”

Stiles sighs and keeps walking. He kicks rocks out in the parking lot on the way to his car, knowing full well that all he has waiting for him at home is homework and his bedroom and a dinner he’s liable to barely touch. He should go on a hunger strike in protest of having his entire schedule fucked with just because he maybe had a passing thought about an alpha, but then, his strikes have never actually gotten him very far in the past.

To his surprise, when he gets around the big tree in the parking lot by where his Jeep is parked, he sees Derek is sitting in its shade, in between the Jeep and the tree, so you can’t see him until you’re right up on him. Stiles startles at first and then he’s relieved, unbelievably relieved, because he hasn’t gotten to see Derek basically all day long and he hasn’t gotten to talk to him since last night.

He looks up and squints against the sunlight. “Where were you all day?” He asks, an edge of concern in his tone. “You weren’t in any of your usual classes.”

Stiles drops his backpack down next to where Derek’s is carelessly strewn, and he lets out a long suffering sigh. “Today has been the worst day on record in the history of the world. My dad changed all my classes.”

“What? Why?”

He gives Derek a look, putting his hands on his hips. “Because he asked me if I had a crush on you and I’m not a very good liar.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Derek stands up to his feet, agile and quick, and gives Stiles a look right back. “You’re not a good liar? You’re doing all this,” he moves his index finger in between their two bodies, “and you can’t tell a lie?”

Stiles rubs at the back of his neck and shrugs. “What do you want me to say? I’m an omega. Not a master of manipulation.”

Derek gets this far away look in his eyes, He puts his chin in his palm and he stares out past Stiles’ head, shaking his head slowly, back and forth, back and forth. “I’m going to wind up getting shot, aren’t I?”

“Don’t joke about that,” Stiles shoves him in the shoulder, so Derek grins and hacks out a laugh.

“He seriously changed your entire day just because he thinks you have a crush on me?”

“Now all my classes are weird and full of jerks and my teachers suck and I can’t write anything for the paper. It’s just been a suck fest, start to fucking finish.”

“Hopefully there’s a different kind of suck fest on our horizon,” he gives Stiles a playful nudge and Stiles goes red and looks at his feet. “Seriously, your dad is a complete ass.”

“He has it out for you.”

“I don’t really care,” he shrugs, like he genuinely doesn’t. “I mean, it pisses me off he messes with your life all the time, but I don’t care if he doesn’t like me. You like me, don’t you?”

There is really no use in denying it any longer. Stiles nods and twiddles his fingers.

“You never told me if you liked that video I sent you.”

“Oh, um,” he doesn’t think he can talk about this out loud, but Derek is looking right at him and he’s expecting a response. “…it was interesting. I never knew omegas used, um…you know.”

He raises an eyebrow. He wants Stiles to say it out loud. Stiles will not, over his dead body, and so he purses his lips closed and tries to keep from laughing. Derek smiles at him, because he thinks it’s endearing and also hilarious that Stiles is a sheltered prissy omega who can’t say words like ‘strap-on’ out loud. “But did you like it?”

With his cheeks on fire, he tells the truth, even though it absolutely kills him to do so. “I think I’d rather the alpha stuff.”

“Of course you would,” he steps closer, into Stiles’ personal space, and Stiles looks over his shoulder to make sure that there is no one watching them – there’s no one around, the parking lot almost empty, the sun just beginning to set.

“I have to be home in thirty minutes.”

“That’s tons of time,” he jerks his head in the direction of Stiles’ Jeep, and Stiles may not know everything about sex or hooking up, but he knows how to read body language and signals. He knows that Derek wants to get in the Jeep and makeout, maybe even do a little bit more, and the thought of it makes his stomach churn with want. “You wanna…?”

Stiles bends down to pick up his backpack. He throws it into the back and then he slams the hatch, pointing to his passenger side door. Derek quickly lunges for it, pulling it open with a creak and jumping inside even before Stiles has got his own door fully open. Once they’re both inside, Derek takes a great big sniff, looking around at all of Stiles’ personal effects and his interior. “It reeks like you in here,” he comments, reaching a hand out to run his palm along the dashboard. “This thing is ancient. Cool, but ancient.”

“It was my mother’s before it was mine,” he says by way of explanation. “Not everyone gets a fancy sports car for their sixteenth birthday.”

Derek smiles at him. “Hopefully, I get super rich when I get out of school, so then I can buy you a fancy sports car for your twenty-sixth birthday, or whatever.”

It’s a suggestion that he intends to pursue this relationship long after high school is over; and that means that he also intends to marry Stiles, like he had said before in the supply closet, like Scott had said that he should just hurry up and do for his own good. Stiles is getting used to the idea more and more, and furthermore, he’s getting attached to the idea. Which is bad. Because Stiles still has not figured out a way to slither away from whatever beta his dad is going to stick him with, and there is every chance, every single chance in the world, this entire thing will just go right ahead and fall apart before Stiles even gets his fantasy of marrying Derek fully formed.

He plays with the newspaper pin on his blazer and he says, not meeting Derek’s eyes, “you think you’d let me get a job?”

“What?” Derek grabs Stiles by his face, turning his chin so they’re looking at one another. “What the hell do you mean, let you?”

“It’s just – you know. Lately I’ve just stopped caring about my schoolwork because it all seems moot, anymore. My dad will want to marry me off to some jerk who’s going to agree with my dad’s notion that I should stay in the house all the time, and –“

“You’re not marrying some jerk,” he says, and he is serious as all hell, his voice low and intense. The thought of some nameless, faceless asshole out there putting his hands on Stiles has made him bristle. “You’re going to be with me. Of course you can have a job, if you want a job, you can have one.”

Stiles has a litany of issues with that statement. He wants to say any number of but what about, but what if, but if they found us out, but if he saw us, but if he won’t let me, but if, what if, and on and on and on. But Stiles is just so exhausted of it all the time; he’s tired of trying to talk himself out of getting what he wants and ultimately deserves, and he’s tired of feeling like speaking out of turn or doing anything the goes against the carefully set rules he’s lived by ever since he was fourteen makes him a bad person.

Derek is so nice to him. He’s an arrogant prick, but he says just the right things and he does the right things and Stiles fucking wants him. It’s wrong, but he does not care anymore. It’s dangerous to want something so badly, and even more dangerous to take it, but fuck it.

He leans over and kisses Derek on the mouth, hot and fast, and then he pulls away. They look at each other, right in the eyes. Derek’s are hazel and in the light they sometimes look more green or yellow, sometimes in the dark they look brown or black, and Stiles wants to live inside of them. “I want to be with you,” Stiles tells him very sincerely, hoping that he manages to sound intense enough to be believed. No buts, no what if’s, no nothing. This is what Stiles wants.

Derek grabs him and drags him over the seat, picking him up like he weighs nothing and getting him into his lap – Stiles winds up straddling Derek’s hips, his head almost touching the ceiling of his Jeep. His hair brushes against it and he feels bizarre up here, like this, and shy, because he’s a fucking scaredy-cat with no sexual prowess, but Derek touches him like he’s the sexiest person alive.

He puts his hands on Stiles’ stomach. Where Derek’s is tight and tan and muscled, Stiles’ is all soft. A bit bony, which makes Stiles feel self-conscious, but Derek doesn’t seem to mind. “You know, I keep thinking,” Derek starts in a murmur, leaning back to meet Stiles’ eyes, “about when I first went inside you, during your heat. Like, that moment, above all the rest, I think about all the time. That was the moment I knew I was completely fucked. It’s like your body was made for me.”

Maybe it was.

“You are just so…” Derek grips his hips hard and pulls them down on top of him, grinds them together, eyes going intense. He surges up and kisses Stiles on the neck, all over his neck, eliciting a surprised inhalation and then a soft moan from Stiles.

Stiles angles himself away and attacks Derek’s mouth with his own, moving them together slowly. They haven’t really had a kiss that wasn’t heat-crazy or just want-crazy since this whole thing started, so this time, Stiles focuses on actually getting a feel for Derek’s body and mouth instead of just mindlessly taking what he wants. He figures out how to move his tongue in a way that makes Derek breathe harder, how to bite on his lip, how to move his body just right so Derek’s breath catches.

He can feel Derek’s erection against his own body, and he knows he’s hard in his own pants. He has this totally crazy thought of having sex right here, right now, in the school parking lot where anyone could walk up on them, in broad fucking daylight. For a second, with Derek’s hands on him and their lips mashed together in the silence of the car, it seems completely realistic. Why the hell not?

But, Stiles pulls away and breathes out, shaking his head. “Uh, we shouldn’t,” he laughs, mindless and breathless, and Derek nods, because he knows that they shouldn’t. Even as his hands keep searching Stiles’ body, gripping his hips, he knows they shouldn’t. “I’ve gotta, um, get home.”

“Okay,” Derek sounds disappointed, but he does not fight it when Stiles moves to climb off of his body into the driver’s side again. Stiles can’t help himself from looking at Derek’s pants, to get a nice long look at the outline of his erection through his uniform khakis.

Derek catches him looking, so Stiles averts his eyes and clears his throat.

“You know, you’re allowed to look,” Derek tells him, and he’s got that teasing, arrogant tone in his voice that makes Stiles want to either slap him or lick him. “It’s basically yours, at this point.”

“Oh, my god,” Stiles feels a hot flash go down his back, “you’ve got to get out of this car before I jump you.”

“I wouldn’t mind.”

“Derek.”

He puts his hands up in surrender, laughing. “All right, I’m going. But I will be thinking about you,” he says this like a promise, “and thinking how much it blows we don’t get to see each other as much at school.”

It does blow. It blows huge fucking chunks. “But, Saturday,” he says, and Derek knows what he means. Yes, Saturday. Saturday, meaning Derek’s house and Derek’s bed and Stiles being in both of those things.

“Saturday,” Derek agrees.

He gets out and closes the door behind him, picking his backpack up off the ground where he left it and then stalking away, to his silver car parked just a few slots down from Stiles’. Stiles watches him go and he feels giddy, and crazy, and like maybe Scott’s right, that his life will someday get to be un-fucked.

When he gets home he leaps up the stairs and calls to his parents that he’s got a ton of homework to do, so they barely catch a flash of him before he’s tucked away into his bedroom with the door closed. He sets his laptop up on his desk and pulls up the word file he had left empty in the newsroom, poising his fingers over the keys.

He knows exactly what to write about, now.

Chapter Text

Stiles dresses in all black and he keeps his glasses on, in case he needs them. He sets his bed up with pillows to make it look like he’s underneath the blankets, which isn’t convincing with the lights on – but, if his parents were to check on him, in the dark, just peeking in through a crack in his bedroom door, it is just convincing enough. He turns his light off and closes his door, and then he checks his pockets to make sure he has everything.

His phone, his house keys, and nothing else. He stands there in the dark, not moving so the floorboards won’t creek and his parents will believe he is truly asleep up here, until his phone buzzes in his pocket. It’s a text from Derek that just reads I’m on your street, and Stiles sucks in a great big deep breath.

He has never in his life snuck out. It has also never even occurred to him to sneak out. He hasn’t had any practice climbing down the side of his house, he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to shimmy his way underneath the fence, and he’s completely unsure of if he’ll be able to get away with it. But, now he’s in this, so he closes his eyes and wills himself not to panic, just for a single second, before he tip toes to his bedroom window.

He slides it open as quietly as possible, wincing when it catches and makes a noise. Once it’s open all the way, he climbs onto the roof outside, and hastily slides it shut behind him. Then, he’s just out here, in the dark, on his roof. He gets nervous but he squelches it down, leaning over the edge to get a good long look at the trellis he figured he’d climb down to get to the ground.

If that tree were still in his yard, he’d just climb that down and it’d be easy as pie. Sadly, that’s another thing alphas had to go and ruin for him. Now, he’s stuck with this mess. Vines and flowers that his mother meticulously prunes all summer long, now reduced to nothing but brown garishness in the early winter freeze. He observes it, thinks he’s almost certainly going to break his neck, and then he gazes across his lawn to the street. Derek’s car is idling behind Stiles’ Jeep. He’s probably watching this right now and laughing his dick off.

Stiles gets down onto his knees and reaches out to grab at the wooden slats of the trellis with both hands. He makes the mistake of looking at the ground, where it’s dark and ominous like the ocean, and he grits his teeth to convince himself to keep going. He tightens his grip and swings his legs off the roof, winding up attached to the side of the house like a squirrel on a tree.

Carefully, step by step, he climbs down. Slat by slat. It’s actually not that hard. The leaves rustle and the boards creek, but it’s not even that loud. He smiles to himself, as he gets to the part where he’ll be close enough to the porch to swing his legs onto it and be back down on solid ground –

The porch light turns on. Stiles freezes like a raccoon in the beam of a flashlight by a trashcan. Horrifyingly, he hears footsteps coming directly for him on the wooden porch, too fast for him to even think of a move to make, and then his mother is looking right at him. She’s got Stiles’ old baseball bat in her hands, and she leans over the railing of the porch to find her son clinging to the side of the house, dressed like he’s robbing a bank.

She blinks at him. “Stiles,” she greets, voice even.

“This isn’t what it looks like,” he immediately defends, though, what the hell else could he be doing? Gardening? In November? At night?

She looks at him some more, and Stiles cannot read her facial expression. He can’t tell if she’s angry or disappointed or about to call his father down here to let him have it. “I thought I heard a raccoon.”

Stiles is the world’s biggest raccoon.

Her eyes flick to the street, where she sees Derek’s car sitting with the headlights off. She draws an immediate conclusion, because she’s smart, smarter than Stiles’ dad and Stiles combined. Fancy sports car idling outside their house, Stiles climbing out of his bedroom window, the fact that it’s eleven o’clock at night. It’s pretty obvious. She says, “is that Derek goddamn Hale?”

His fingers hurt from gripping the trellis and he nearly slips at the accusation, but holds on and sucks in a deep breath. “Um…”

She puts the bat down on the porch and pinches the bridge of her nose.

“Don’t tell dad,” he pleads, quiet, and his mother looks at him. They have the exact same eyes, down to the details, eyelashes and all, but hers hold the power to be overwhelmingly critical, in the way only a mother’s truly can. She is analyzing this entire situation, bit by bit, and truth be told, as well as Stiles thinks he knows his mother, he cannot begin to guess what conclusion she’s about to draw.

After a long sigh of resignation, she puts her hands up. “I see nothing,” she backs up, slow, “I know nothing, I hear nothing.” She takes the bat with her and goes back into the house, closing the door softly behind her, leaving Stiles hanging onto the trellis.

He breathes out and presses his face into the dead vines, overwhelmed with relief. God only knows what his father would do to him if he discovered Stiles sneaking out to go cavort with an asshole he’s specifically told Stiles to stay away from. He’d probably put bars on Stiles’ windows and pull him out of school, or something equally insane like that.

He gets down off the house and makes a break for it, sprinting as fast as he can to the fence like he’s in The Hunger Games – he nearly loses his glasses off his face in the process. He searches around in the grass for the part where their neighbor’s dog likes to dig, and finds the small dip. It’s too small for any alpha to crawl under, but perfectly sized for Stiles’ skinny body to shimmy underneath.

It sort of hurts, the points of the fence digging into his ribs, but he makes it. He crawls across the grass and then gets up, having to run the length of the fence back towards the other side, where Scott’s house is and where Derek is parked. He runs so fast his lungs hurt, because he’s not very athletic even though he should work on that more, and springs himself at the passenger side of Derek’s car.

It’s unlocked, and he dumps himself inside, huffing and puffing like he just ran the marathon and shouts, “drive.”

Derek fumbles on his gear stick and gets into second, driving away so fast the tires squeal like they do in the movies. Stiles obsessively checks over his shoulder as they go, to make sure his dad isn’t following, to make sure no one is following, that the fence is still closed, nothing happening, no one to stop them. They slow to the stop sign that will take them out of the neighborhood, and Stiles is still panting – clutching at his chest like he’s about to have a heart attack.

“I have never in my life,” Derek starts, “seen something as funny as you acting like you’re breaking out of prison.”

“I am, essentially,” he puffs, and then he sits up straight and palms his face. “Did you see my fucking mom catch me?”

“Uh, yeah. She let you go?”

Stiles shrugs. He doesn’t have an explanation for that. He always knew that his mother felt that the Sheriff’s rules were absolute hogwash, and he always knew that she agreed with Stiles on almost everything that he ever argued with his dad about, but he did not know it went this far. Like, so far she’s going to turn a blind eye to Stiles sneaking out to meet with his secret alpha boyfriend.

“There’s a reason my mom was her friend, I guess,” he shrugs, and starts driving off into the night, away from Stiles’ street and Stiles’ house where his dad has no clue, none whatsoever, that Stiles is not in bed.

“That was such a rush,” he says, but he’s still obsessively glancing over his shoulder. “I feel like I’m on the run. Like, the cops are after me. I can’t believe I actually snuck out – you know, I’ve never even stayed up past my bed time.”

“You have a bed time?” Derek is not happy to hear this information. “He treats you like you’re twelve years old.”

“He reads all these shitty books about how it’s good to give omegas boundaries and rules,” he leans back into his seat and looks out the window. All at once, he realizes he’s in Derek Hale’s car for the first time; the one he’s imagined himself being in only a dozen times since he started fantasizing about the guy two months ago.

There are leather seats, as Stiles had suspected, and it does reek of alpha and cologne, and it is a complete and total mess. The dashboard glows neon blue across the car, so he can see that there are empty bottles of Powerade everywhere, his gym bag in the backseat reeking of alpha sweat, his backpack with all of its books spilling out across the seats. Stiles blinks. He guesses he never figured Derek for being neat, but this just seems ridiculous.

Derek himself is in a blue t-shirt and jeans. Stiles has never seen him in jeans before.

“That’s really fucked up,” Derek tells him seriously, and Stiles nods. He knows it’s fucked up. It is also sort of something he’s been forced to get used to, so it doesn’t barely phase him anymore.

Probably, the Sheriff is hoping to marry Stiles off to someone who will impose similar rules on him, like he’s their charge and not their husband. He doesn’t want to think about this anymore because it makes him abysmally sad, so he compartmentalizes and focuses on Derek. Something that Stiles has never learned before because he’s never truly been attracted to someone, is that when you are attracted to someone, every single thing they do is hot beyond.

For example : Derek driving a car? Hot. His hand on the steering wheel and the other resting on the gear shift? Hot. The way he leans back in his seat and spreads his legs a bit, his skin lit up by the dashboard lights? Hot. Everything about him is hot, in this moment. Stiles feels sort of nuts, like he’s the grossest person alive for being attracted to the veins in Derek’s arm, but it’s fine. He’s uncovering his own sexuality, it’s fine. If arm veins are a thing to him, then that’s great. Derek will not mind. Stiles could have the weirdest kink imaginable and Derek would not mind. Then, Stiles wonders if he even has any kinks. How would he know at this point? How does he go about finding these things out?

Does Derek have any? Maybe he should ask. But the idea of asking him that question makes him want to light himself on fire, so he sits quietly and keeps his hands in his lap, out of fear of he what’d do with them if he let them think for themselves.

Derek says, “you are quiet tonight.”

“Oh, um,” he laughs.

“You’re nervous.”

“Not nervous. Just – okay, nervous. Very nervous. Big nerves buzzing around in the old noggin,” he taps his head a few times for emphasis. “But, also, excited.”

Derek briefly glances away from the road, just for one second, to give Stiles his signature smile. “Oh, I’m excited. I’ve been thinking about this for so long.”

Stiles does not want to touch that statement with a ten foot pole. He clears his throat and shifts a bit in his seat, and he can’t think of anything else to say because all of his thoughts inevitably drift to sex. It’s no matter, because Derek is turning onto his street and then parking on the curb outside of his familiar house before Stiles knows it.

They walk the path to the front door next to one another. It’s nearly eleven o’clock at night, so Stiles isn’t sure what to expect to be going on at Derek’s house at this time. The lights are all on, which Stiles finds bizarre, because he’s almost always asleep before ten and his parents don’t stay up that much later, and even if they do, they just watch television down in the den. Derek’s family must not have early mornings like Stiles’ dad does.

They go in, and it’s just the same as last time Stiles was invited over. The same foyer, same stairs, same kitchen and living room. Derek puts his hand on the small of Stiles’ back and guides him forward into the living room, where they find Talia on the couch taking pictures of cupcakes with a very expensive looking camera. She’s got bright studio-looking lights on them and everything, and the coffee table is done up with flowers and random oddities like expensive jewelry and bottles of nail polish.

Stiles cannot make sense of this scene, not any part of it, and no one explains it to him.

“Stiles,” Talia greets him with a friendly smile. She clicks one last picture of her plate of cupcakes and observes the digital image with a frown. Then, she sets it aside and gives them her full attention. “I got a phone call from your mother the other day. She’s under the impression there’s something going on between you and Derek.”

Stiles forces a smile onto his face. Genuinely, he has no clue how he’s supposed to respond to that. He’s standing here in her living room at eleven o’clock at night and Derek has alluded to the fact that she knows he’s here to have sex with Derek. What the hell is he supposed to say?

“I told her I had no idea what she was talking about,” she winks.

“Well,” he finds his voice, “it’s all right now either way, because she caught me climbing down the trellis to meet Derek at his car just ten minutes ago.”

“Ah,” she looks at Derek and gives him an impossible to read look. “Looks like we’ll all know except for your father. I don’t remember him being such a complete ass when we were in school together. Sometimes when you have an omega for a kid it changes your brain. I’ve read that.”

Stiles has read that, too.

“You’re welcome here anytime,” she tells him sincerely, and then she goes back to clicking away at pictures she’s already taken on her camera, observing them all and cocking her head to the side. “If Derek gives you any trouble, just let me know.”

“Ha ha,” Derek snipes, and then he takes Stiles by his shoulders and guides him away from the bizarre scene with the cupcakes and the camera, angling him towards the steps.

As they go up, Stiles turns on him and whispers, “why is she in there taking pictures of cupcakes and jewelry?”

He gestures to the framed pictures of food that Stiles had noticed the last time he was in this house. “She’s a food stylist. She makes food look really nice and then takes pictures of it. I’ll show you her instagram sometime.”

“That’s a job?”

“She’s good at it,” he points to the pictures again, because they are, after all, proof. He observes them a bit, pushing his glasses higher up on his nose to get a good look at them. They are really good pictures, and the food does look good. He figures it has to be someone’s job to take the pictures of food in cooking and lifestyle magazines, and why not Talia’s? “C’mon,” he drags Stiles away from the pictures and leads him to the same door that Stiles could not pass through the last time he came here.

He passes through it, this time. Walks right inside, only to discover that Derek’s bedroom is even worse than his car in terms of messiness. There are dirty clothes all over the place, strewn over a loveseat in the corner of the room by a television with an Xbox, draped on the bed, tossed in the direction of a mostly empty hamper. More empty Powerade bottles like it’s all he drinks, books all over the place, complete and total chaos. His room is big, too, at least twice the size of Stiles’ bedroom, so it’s miraculous it could possibly be this messy.

Stiles has to comment on it. “You are a complete slob, I guess?”

“Well, I had to have at least one flaw,” he smirks. Then, he gets to work clearing off books and clothes from his bed. He tosses them onto the floor and Stiles watches, wondering why Derek didn’t think to tidy up before bringing Stiles over. Maybe it’s better to let Stiles know what he’s getting into than it is to put up a front – Stiles appreciates that, at least. “Which reminds me, I still can’t seem to find one on you.”

“One what?”

“Flaw,” he turns, and he runs his index finger up and down Stiles’ body in the air. “There are literally none.”

“I have flaws,” he scoffs.

“Like?”

“Like…” he thinks. “…I’m fucking psycho.”

Derek laughs out loud, smoothing out his bed sheets and shaking his head as he does so. “That’s just sort of the omega trademark in you.”

“So, all omegas are crazy?”

“What I mean is, society sort of drives them crazy,” then he stops, stands up straight, turns to look Stiles in the eye. “I don’t mean that in a bad way.”

Stiles kind of gets what he means. Before Stiles presented, he was bizarrely average. He played baseball and he liked to do shit like barbecue on the porch with his dad and collect baseball cards and he watched Marvel movies religiously. After he presented, it’s not like some switch in his head flipped that made him batshit just on account of being an omega.

The constant, all consuming, ever present dread that accompanied being an omega made him fucking batshit. Now, he’s got all kinds of weird quirks like refusing to accept any food or drink from alphas for fear of being roofied and never going out past nightfall. Except for tonight, at least.

“And I wouldn’t even call that a flaw, so much as a facet to your personality.”

“Well,” he thinks harder, and Derek is seriously rearranging his pillows. “Your friends think I’m prissy, how about.”

“All right, fine,” he laughs some more, sitting down on the edge of his bed and nodding. “Your stuck up attitude is a flaw. Nevermind that it’s something I like about you.”

“You like that I’m stuck up?” Stiles has to laugh at that – frankly, it’s his shittiest personality trait.

“It’s funny,” he shrugs. “You wanna come sit?”

On the bed. Stiles fidgets with his glasses just for something to do with his hands, clears his throat, and slowly moves over to sit down next to Derek. He folds himself up, criss-crossing his legs, so his knee presses into Derek’s thigh, and looks into his eyes. They stare at one another for a moment, like they always do, and then Stiles has to fucking say something, otherwise he’s going to self-combust. “Can I ask you something kind of, uh, personal?”

Derek nods his head. “Absolutely.”

Stiles picks at a loose thread on his black jeans and refuses to look Derek in his eyes, when he asks this question. “I never really, or like, we never actually talked? About my heat. After my heat. It’s like we both know it happened but we just sort of dance around the subject.”

“I was waiting for you to bring it up,” he says honestly, cocking his head like he’s trying to read Stiles’ mind. “What do you want to know about it?”

This is embarrassing. But, Jesus, they had sex. And lots of it. Stiles remembers bits and pieces, it’s true, but he does not have the full and total picture and he was not in his complete and total right mind, so he wasn’t analyzing every single move Derek made like he would’ve been doing if he were in his right mind. Whole pockets of information are just missing from Stiles’ memories, and it’s been driving him absolutely fucking crazy.

He straightens up and he says, “did you…you know.”

“Did I…?”

“…like it?”

“What kind of question is that?” He guffaws, tipping his head back to laugh at the ceiling. Stiles looks at his neck and thinks that’s hot, too, because he’s just that gross anymore. “I have never in my life been in the same room as someone who could orgasm that many times in a single hour.”

Stiles covers his face with his hands, then quickly removes them, as if forcing himself to not be embarrassed by it. It’s not embarrassing. What’s embarrassing or bad about it? He can orgasm a lot. There are alphas in this world who would kill to have the kind of refractory period Stiles has.

“The whole time I felt like I was in the presence of, like, a fucking higher power, and I was just a puny peasant.”

“Shut up,” Stiles laughs and he smiles because that is silly beyond silly.

“I’m serious. The fact that you let me within a hundred feet of you is a miracle in and of itself. What a stupid question to ask,” he rolls his eyes. “Did I like it? Please. I will spend the rest of my waking days chasing after that kind of feeling.”

Stiles chews on his thumb. “Do you think you’re gonna like it better than…” he points to the bed underneath them and Derek instantly gets what he means.

He sighs through his nose like he expected that Stiles would be worried about this exact thing – that Stiles would be tossing and turning, with the belief that his heats are the only time he’s actually very desirable or good in bed or good at anything having to do with sex or kissing or any of it. He’s been told that before, after all, that his heats are all he’s really good for.

“Heat sex is fun,” he admits, looking Stiles dead in the eyes. “But there is something to be said for having you fully mentally present with me.”

“Oh,” he’s surprised. He hadn’t thought of it that way.

“There’s pros and cons to both. But if you asked me which I’d rather do? At the end of the day, normal sex. Trust me. You’ll see.”

Stiles averts his gaze and purses his lips, because it’s hard for him to believe. Heat sex is sort of what makes the world go round, as far as most people are concerned. It’s like the holy grail of all sex. Nothing could be better than that. The desire, the pheromones and hormones and the chemicals all mixing together.

But, Derek is right. Stiles was only ever half-there with him when they were together. He never thought that anyone would give a shit about that, because what do alphas care about how cognizant their partners are?

He clears his throat. “I feel kinda weird that your mom knows we’re up here having sex,” he admits, and Derek smirks.

“She does not care, believe me.”

“Which is bizarre, to me.”

“Just because your dad controls everything you do.”

Stiles takes in a deep breath. “Well. Not this.”

They’re quiet for a moment. Derek seems to be waiting for Stiles to do something, to make the first move, to say something, to just…

“So, like, what do we do? Do we just like…start?”

Derek laughs at him again, but it is not a mean, mocking laugh. It’s a laugh of endearment, like Derek finds Stiles’ complete lack of sexual grace more cute than anything else. “Just relax,” he says. He picks up one of Stiles’ arms and runs his fingers up and down, all the way down to his wrist, and it…feels really good. No one has ever touched Stiles like that before. It seems silly, because it’s such a simple touch, just the tickle of his fingertips on Stiles’ skin, but it isn’t that simple.

It sends firing signals up to Stiles’ brain. It reminds him of when Derek ran his hands up and down Stiles’ back before his first time, like there’s something special in that kind of a touch that just makes Stiles’ entire body go lax.

Their faces are close. Derek looks him in his eyes, says, “does that tickle?”

“Yeah, but, it’s nice,” he says. They are both suddenly talking quietly, murmuring to one another, not out of fear of being heard because it would be embarrassing, but because no one else is allowed to hear them talking to one another like this.

This is private. Personal. Just the two of them.

Derek picks up the other arm and does the same to it, making Stiles shiver. A good shiver. Up the spine to his hairline. “Your skin is so soft,” Derek says, and Stiles also vaguely remembers him saying something to that effect during his heat. For some reason, it feels more special when he says it now, because Stiles can read the reverence in his tone.

Stiles wants to kiss him so bad it’s all he can think of, watching his eyelashes flutter as he lowers his eyes and focuses on Stiles’ skin, his jawline, the shape of his mouth. He realizes that he’s sort of allowed to do that, now, whenever he wants, if he wants to, and he goes for it, willing himself to not hesitate. They kiss, and kiss, the taste of cinnamon the only thing Stiles can think about.

He pulls away when his glasses start to get in the way and huffs a laugh, reaching up to pull them off. “Oops. I’ll take these –“

Derek stops his wrist and raises an eyebrow. “No, no. Leave those on for me.”

Stiles levels him with a stare. “You are kidding me.”

“What? They turn me on,” he shrugs, no big deal, while Stiles rolls his eyes so far back into his head it almost hurts to do so. “Is that such a crime?”

“They’re reading glasses, not lingerie.”

“To me, they’re as sexy as a pair of lacy underwear.”

“Whatever,” he grabs Derek by the v of his shirt and tugs him closer. “More kissing.”

His glasses do sort of get in the way, every now and then, but it’s easy to maneuver once they get the hang of it. Derek has got this incredibly practiced way of kissing that makes Stiles think that he’s kissed a lot of people before Stiles, maybe more people than Stiles could count on one hand and it’s kind of a bummer thought that makes something ugly bloom up in his chest that reminds him of jealousy, so he tries to ignore that and just think of it like now Derek has lots of experience that he can use on Stiles instead of anyone else.

Derek bites Stiles’ lower lip, pulls back, and asks, “what’s something stupid about me you think is hot?”

There are sadly a lot of answers to that question. Derek has Stiles’ face in one of his hands, his thumb against Stiles’ cheek, and they’re so close, Stiles could not hope to get away with not answering this question. “Tall,” he says, simply.

“Tall,” Derek smirks. “How’s that any better than liking your glasses?”

“It’s not. I’m as gross as you.”

“Oh, no you’re not. Your sex fantasies all revolve around kissing. Mine…not so much.”

“What do you fantasize about, then?”

Derek grins. This close up, Stiles gets to watch his entire face shift with the expression, his eyes crinkling, his nose wrinkling up, his cheeks lifting. “Fucking you. Or did you want more details than that?”

Stiles pushes him away and says, “let’s – I wanna do it.”

“Okay,” Derek agrees. Stiles gives himself no time to hesitate – he rips his shirt off over his head and then moves down to undo his belt. This is nothing like in the movies, where clothes slowly and sensually come off, like a practiced dance more than something all fumbling and awkward. Stiles stands up and completely undresses in a haste, while Derek stands and does the same thing right next to him.

There is looking. Stiles running his eyes up and down Derek’s torso like a sex-hungry gremlin, Derek staring at Stiles’ legs. Then they are standing in Derek Hale’s bedroom totally naked, and Stiles has this overwhelming desire to cross his arms over his chest to hide himself, but he beats that urge off with a stick in his head.

He gets back onto the bed and looks at Derek in a way he hopes translates as follow me, and it works. Derek climbs right on after him, and Stiles cannot help himself from looking at his dick. Then looking at his own. The differences in them could not be more stark. Derek’s is big, and heavy, and sort of menacing looking from any angle. It’s got veins and everything, which are even better than the veins on Derek’s arms. Meanwhile, Stiles’ is…pretty much the opposite of all of those things.

It’s not meant for the same things that Derek’s is meant for.

“I can tell what you’re thinking about,” Derek says as he blankets Stiles’ body with his own, so he’s on top of him, his arms on either side of Stiles’ head on the pillow. Stiles swallows, and Derek watches his adam’s apple move as he does so.

“It’s just – kinda funny, isn’t it? The…difference.”

“I like yours more.”

“I like yours more,” Stiles counters.

“Which is why we are attracted to one another. We just solved the puzzle.”

Stiles nods. That’s exactly why. It’s weird to think of attraction as boiling down to just what kind of body parts turns a person on, but it…is. Derek likes Stiles’ body. Stiles likes Derek’s body. Why overcomplicate it?

They are just looking at one another again, and it occurs to Stiles that Derek isn’t going to do anything until Stiles asks for it, because he likes to mess with Stiles more than anything else. He is acutely aware of the fact that Stiles would rather die than use his mouth to say sexual things. And he thinks it’s funny.

Stiles dares himself to be bold. He’s naked in Derek’s bed. And they’ve done this before. He can channel the sexy part of him – it exists, somewhere deep in his brain. He says, “maybe you could…what you offered to do?”

“When?”

“By the dumpsters.”

“What was that again?” He feigns ignorance, cocking his head to the side like he really can’t remember.

Stiles averts his eyes. He picks a spot on the wall to stare at – a tour poster for a band that Stiles also likes. “…with your mouth?”

“What about my mouth?”

“I am going to punch you so hard you’ll have to wear a neck brace.”

Derek laughs out loud, his entire body shaking with it. “Ask me,” he says, pecking Stiles on the lips just once, quick. “Or I won’t.”

Stiles rolls his eyes and thumps his head back on the pillows. Fuck it. “Will you go down on me?”

“It’s not so hard, see?”

“You get way too much pleasure out of watching me squirm.”

“Oh, you have no idea,” he teases. He kisses Stiles on the mouth again, a nice long kiss with lots of biting and tongue, before he moves down to his jaw, his neck, his collarbones. Stiles shifts and he feels bizarre, just lying there while someone else touches him, but what’s he supposed to do? He wishes he had read a book or something before coming over, like, What To Do In Bed or What Alphas Like. As it is, he’s just flying blind.

Derek does not seem to like wasting time. He gets off the bed and grabs Stiles by his ankles – uses them to pull him down to the edge of it, Stiles squawking at the abrupt handling. He gets down on his knees while Stiles pushes himself onto his elbows so he can look, watch, see it all happen and actually remember it this time, and Derek smirks at him. He spreads Stiles’ legs and gets in-between them, leans down and holds Stiles’ eyes the entire time.

Stiles swallows a gigantic lump in his throat the size of Alaska. He makes sure his glasses are sitting right on his face. He thinks he should look away because it’s embarrassing somehow, it feels wrong to watch, the whole thing feels wrong, gross, he shouldn’t let Derek do it –

The second Derek swipes his tongue up Stiles, he stops thinking that. This feels so much better than he remembers it feeling. This is the best feeling on planet earth. His eyes close of their own volition like he can’t feel pleasure and watch it at the same time or his brain will short circuit, and Derek does it again. His tongue is wide and wet and Stiles’ dick is just the right size for it. Stiles is going to come in five fucking seconds, he can feel it.

Derek sucks him into his mouth and Stiles reaches out and grips his hair involuntarily. He’s got gel in so it’s kind of wet and crispy, but he tugs on it and digs his fingers in deep, mouth opening on a sound of pleasure so foreign to him it makes his cheeks go hot with embarrassment. It’s not intentional when he uses his fingers in Derek’s hair to push his head down more, and it’s also not intentional when he bucks his hips up into Derek’s mouth so the entire length of him goes in at once. His body chases pleasure while his mind tries to catch up.

He has half a mind to apologize for doing that, but Derek doesn’t take offense. He pulls away and smiles, raising his eyebrows but making absolutely no commentary. He’s surprised and not at the same time. Again, he goes down and licks, grabbing Stiles by his hips. He flicks his tongue against the slit quick, so quick Stiles hands shake and his legs go stiff, the intensity of it is white hot.

He moves back and opens his mouth to speak. He makes it as far as, “you’re going to –“

“Shut up,” Stiles hisses at him, pulling on his hair again to get him back down. “Shut up, please, please –“

He doesn’t need to be asked again. He laughs but he isn’t mad, doesn’t care about Stiles’ rude mouth, doesn’t care about being handled by his hair, none of it. Any other alpha would probably despise the sheer idea of letting their omega talk to them like that or control them like that. Derek is not any other alpha.

It only takes fifteen more seconds of Derek’s tongue and mouth before Stiles orgasms. It bursts out of him and squeezes his body together only to release, Stiles’ hand gripping Derek’s hair so hard it has to hurt his scalp, but he does not complain. He just dutifully swallows Stiles’ come, much less thick than Derek’s would be, and pulls back with a smile on his face.

They don’t say anything to one another. Stiles couldn’t think of a single thing to say if he actually wanted to, and Derek doesn’t seem interested in running his mouth for once. He stands up. Gets back on the bed, so Stiles takes the cue and moves backwards with his hands and feet, back to the head of the bed where he can rest his head back on the pillows.

“Face to face okay?” Derek asks him. His voice is low and intense, serious, eyes dark. Stiles wants to bottle up the sound of his voice like this and drink it, seriously, it’s so sexy, and he nods up and down, fervently.

Stiles lets Derek get settled in-between his legs, lets him take his knees and adjust them, lets him lean down right over him, so they’re inches away from one another’s lips. He cocks his head to the side and looks at Stiles with an unreadable expression on his face. Stiles wishes he could read his mind, know what’s happening inside of there, what he’s seeing when he looks at Stiles like that.

A kiss, slow and gentle and reverent.

Derek sticks his hand down below and he smirks. “You’re wet.”

He puts a finger in, maybe just to be an ass, maybe because he wants to feel it, maybe because he can. Stiles pants out, breathes in deep, and he’s afraid it’s going to hurt this time. He doesn’t have the blanket of his heat to emphasize pleasure and mute pain, and he’s firing on all cylinders, nothing hazy about him. He’s wet, sure, but he’s tensing up before he can help it.

Derek feels that around his finger. He meets Stiles’ eyes. “You gonna come again?”

It’s an insane question to ask. Stiles swallows and answers honestly, “I don’t know.”

“You will,” he assures him, removing his finger and taking his own dick in his hand. He’s lining it up, angling it up, and Stiles goes stiff. “Relax.”

“Easy for you to say,” he huffs a laugh, even though it’s not funny, but he’s trying to ease his own nerves. “It’s too big.”

“It isn’t. I’ve been in there before.”

“But not like –“

“You’re psyching yourself out,” he leans over and kisses Stiles’ neck, teeths at his ear, breathes into the shell of it so Stiles shivers. “Relax, relax.”

Stiles tries to take the advice. He imagines himself just all at once softening up, releasing his muscles, his limbs dangling limply. It works, halfway, enough that he can breathe, enough that Derek takes it as an open invitation.

Again, he lines himself up. The head touches Stiles’ rim and he grabs onto Derek’s upper arm where his muscles are huge and firm. He digs his fingers in while Derek pushes, just the head. Stiles feels it more acutely than he ever did while he was in heat. He felt it, then, yes, but only the good parts, only the part where he loved every second of it. He has no memory of this specific feeling.

This too much, too hard, too rough feeling. He winces and whines and grips onto Derek tighter, eyes screwing shut. “Am I hurting you?” Derek asks him.

“It’s just…” he breathes. “It’s too big.”

“You’re tense.”

“Yeah, there’s a huge god damn foreign object going inside of me,” he barks, so Derek grins. He’s always fucking smiling whenever Stiles starts flipping, being difficult, because he really just finds Stiles hilarious. For whatever reason.

Derek pushes in more. Stiles reaches for Derek’s hand and Derek obliges, entwining their fingers together so Stiles can squeeze. “Just a bit more,” he says, and goes in all the way. Stiles makes a sound of surprise because it’s even bigger than it looks, even bigger in feel, and thumps his head back on the pillow. It’s a lot. Derek is still, like a rock, not moving even a muscle as Stiles acclimates himself to the feeling.

They meet eyes. Stiles is sure he’s red faced and a bit sweaty, his hair a mess, but Derek looks at him like no one has ever, ever fucking looked at him before.

Like he’s precious. A small thing that needs to be taken care of. Stiles wants to crawl inside of him. Ironically.

After a good bit, Derek pulls out. It’s a drag, but it’s not harsh, it’s not painful, just…slow. He goes back in and Stiles’ breath hitches, because it feels good, not amazing, but good, and Derek likes that reaction. He kisses Stiles on the mouth and does it again, and again, while Stiles feels himself hardening up again in between them.

“This is better,” Derek tells him, voice whisper-soft. “See? I can look in your eyes.”

During his heat, Stiles does remember his complete inability to focus on anything for too long. He couldn’t hold Derek’s eye contact, let alone share a meaningful look – now, he can. And they do. They stare directly into each other’s eyes as Derek fucks him, and it makes him feel this surge of something foreign and new and also familiar, at the same time.

Another word comes to mind, but Stiles won’t say it yet, so he settles on fondness.

“You feel it better too, don’t you?”

Stiles nods. He can feel every inch of Derek inside of him, feels it every single time it comes and goes, in and out, and he likes it a lot. Derek pulls back and angles himself differently, and Stiles immediately misses having him that close, but he gets why – it’s hard to really go at it from that close up, and Derek wants to. Go at it, that is.

He does. It’s faster and harder, now, hard enough Stiles’ body jerks with Derek’s thrusts, that it pushes him back against the headboard, his own erection bouncing against his stomach. “That’s so good,” Derek mutters, biting his lip, staring down at Stiles’ body intently. “Fuck.”

“I think I’m gonna come again,” Stiles says quickly, because it’s true, and because he knows Derek will like to hear it – his suspicion is confirmed when Derek goes faster. That familiar ache burns in his body and he closes his eyes, allowing it to come and consume him entirely. He has no clue what kind of noises he’s making because he barely has control over it. His body makes the sounds in response to Derek’s body, and it’s fine, whatever he does is fine, because Derek does not mind it.

He has his second orgasm and it’s better than the first, because Derek is inside of him and holding his hand and it feels like fucking heaven on earth. It’s like something has been invented, just between the two of them, something secret and special and intense that no one else will ever get to experience in their lives. It’s only theirs.

Derek finishes not long after, burying himself in deep and pressing his mouth against Stiles’ ear, so Stiles gets to hear his throaty, deep grunt. It makes him want to come again, really, but he’s tired and satisfied and it’s fine. Better than fine.

They stay locked together in quiet for a moment. Breathing.

Stiles is the first to speak, after. “That was…”

“Yeah.” Derek has no smartass comment to make. That in and of itself says enough. Derek’s cock twitches inside of Stiles’ body, but Derek still will not pull it out. He seems reluctant to move at all, content to stay with his mouth against Stiles’ ear and their fingers laced.

“I feel different.”

“What do you mean?” Derek pulls back enough to look him in the face.

Stiles’ glasses are a bit askew from the fucking, so he fixes them and clears his throat. “I don’t know. I just feel…”

It is not the loss of his virginity. It’s not that he finally had actual sex, like he’s thought about for so long. It’s not even about having an encyclopedic knowledge of Derek’s body, now. It’s something different. Just, different. A thing there’s no name for.

Derek kisses him one more time, their lips moving together languid and gentle, like they have all the time in the world. The reality is that they don’t, not really, not at all, because every single second that they spend together is stolen; it’s a second that they have to sneak and lie and beg to have.

He finally removes himself gently, and there’s a disgusting squelching sound that Stiles does not want to think about at all, and then they’re lying side by side on Derek’s bed. Stiles stares up at the ceiling, and without Derek’s body heat, he’s chilly all of the sudden.

But, he barely manages even half of a shiver before Derek is reaching down and pulling at the covers, settling them on top of Stiles up to his shoulders, doing the same for himself. They press against each other and stay silent, Derek’s fingers moving up and down Stiles’ bare arm slow and careless.

“Can I tell you something um…personal?”

Derek smiles. “I think you can, yes.”

He turns on his side and looks at Derek directly, taking in a deep breath through his nose. “I never thought I’d actually have sex with an alpha. Um. I kinda always thought…I just thought I’d never be with anyone. For real. I thought I’d graduate and then marry my dad’s chosen beta deputy and have boring sex and clean the house and cook dinner.”

Derek looks at him, but says nothing.

“I…don’t wanna do that.”

What?” Derek’s eyes go big in mock shock. “You don’t want to marry a cop?”

Stiles pinches his arm and Derek laughs, shaking his head.

“You’re not going to do that, so don’t even worry about that anymore,” Derek insists, shaking his head. “You’re going to marry me. All this is going to work out, you just gotta give it time.”

But they have no time. Stiles can’t imagine giving this up now that he’s got it, but there’s no fucking time for them to think of a plan, to come up with a way to get what they want without destroying everything, there’s nothing. Stiles knows it, in the back of his mind, but god damn.

He wants to cling to this like it’s a rock and he’s in a tsunami.

They cuddle and kiss some more, but then Stiles has to go home, absolutely has to, and Derek reluctantly gets dressed alongside him. In the car they hold hands on the center console, with Derek rubbing his thumb against Stiles’ wrist, right on the veins, where it feels good and tickles.

He parks and shuts his headlights off outside of Stiles’ house, the gate buzzing, the lights all off inside, and Stiles sighs and leans back against the leather seat. “I wish that I wasn’t a fucking omega.”

“Why?” Derek furrows his brow, like he genuinely doesn’t get it.

“Uh, because it’s made my life a living fucking hell.”

Derek shakes his head. “Alphas have made your life a living hell. I like that you’re an omega,” he grins, “I’m in love with you.”

Stiles might have figured that because they sit around and talk about getting married all the time, but Stiles has always chalked that up to the whole preternaturally meant to be together thing. Alpha and omega stuff. Biology. The word love is one that Stiles shies away from, because his whole life he never thought he’d get to have it, his whole life he’s thought he’d have it ripped away from him before he ever got to really feel it.

Derek says it so easily. He knows love. He gets it. He has it. It has never been something he’s been denied.

Stiles looks at his hand, where it’s inside of Derek’s. The size difference. How safe it feels to have him, to be here, in his car, where no one else can get to him. But it’s hard to look at Derek and not think, my father is going to shoot you in the head, and his lips curve down in a frown. “I…” he starts.

“Don’t worry about it,” Derek shrugs, like it’s no big deal, none at all, if Stiles does not say it back tonight. “I know how you feel, it’s obvious. You don’t have to say it.”

Stiles nods his head. He gets out after kissing Derek goodbye and he goes through the motions of squiggling underneath the fence and getting into his own yard, where it’s pitch dark. He gets to the side of the house and grips onto the trellis with one hand, and then he stops.

Pauses. He takes a moment to reflect on what just happened, on what he just did, and he smiles. He presses his forehead against the dead vines and he grins from ear to ear, his heart beating in his chest so hard it makes him giddy with adrenaline. He got away with it, and Derek is still alive to tell the tale, and he’ll be there in school on Monday for Stiles to see and look at and know, secretly to himself, that Derek is all his.

He climbs up on light feet, his jeans scraping against the shingles of the roof when he gets up there. As quiet as possible, he shimmies his window open, stepping one foot down into his bedroom silently, then the other.

As he slides it shut, his bedside lamp turns on, illuminating his mother sitting on top of his bed with a stern expression on her face. Stiles jumps and nearly screams, but stifles it down just in time with his hand over his mouth, breathing out a sigh of relief that it’s just her and not some random person who climbed up here.

Better yet, that it’s not his fucking father. Who is likely snoring clueless two doors down.

“You better tell me right now what’s going on,” she starts, voice low and dangerous, index finger pointed menacingly in his direction, “or so help me god.”

Stiles swallows. He runs his hands down the front of his shirt because they’re clammy with sweat and nerves and he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say.

“What are you doing with that boy?” She demands. She’s speaking in a harsh whisper, because dad has no fucking clue, no idea, and they have to be quiet. “What are you doing?”

“He’s…” he does not know what to say. The truth is the only option, but it’s…

“You tell me right now, Mieczyslaw, or as god is my witness, I’ll tell your father.”

“Okay, okay,” he puts his hands over his glasses and just tries to fucking think for a second. He knows he has no way out of this one, and he knows she’s not bluffing, because she’s worried about him. Stiles is sneaking out at night to go see an alpha she knows nothing about, and alphas really are bad news, it’s not just something they say for the hell of it. For all she knows, he’s in trouble. “Um.”

He moves and sits next to her on the bed, breathing out through his nose and shaking his head. He looks at his feet, because he cannot look his mother in the face and say this, so he focuses on his dirty shoelaces and clears his throat. “We…had sex.”

“Oh, my God…” she is abysmally unhappy with this information.

“Mom, he’s different, he really is, he’s –“

“I don’t want to hear any of that bullshit,” she snaps at him, so Stiles closes his mouth. “I do not need to hear a diatribe about how he’s so perfect and great and you love him. Stiles,” she turns to face him directly, “do I need to spell out for you exactly what would happen to him and you if your father ever had even a sneaking suspicion that you’ve been alone with that boy? Let alone had sex with him.”

She does not. She does so anyway.

“He would kill him or at the bare minimum put him in jail for touching an omega he has no legal rights to touch.”

Stiles curls his upper lip and hisses, “I’m not a piece of fucking property the cops can fine people for touching.”

“In the eyes of the law, you are.”

“That’s not –“

“It doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not, it’s the reality, and you’d do goddamn well to remember it,” she points her finger at him again, and Stiles pipes down immediately, glowering at his feet again. “What would possess you for even a moment – what would make you think this was a good idea?”

“It’s not about,” he starts, then closes his mouth, struggling to find the words.”…whether it’s a good idea. Or not. It…he…mom, it’s him. I know it’s him.”

She sighs. This exhausted, long suffering sigh. Sort of like she always knew that this day would come, where her son would come to her and proclaim he’s found his alpha soulmate. She has been dreading it since the day he presented, most likely.

“How much time have you actually spent with this boy?”

“…um.”

“Stiles.”

He picks at a dry patch on his arm. “He kinda…well. He kinda was there for my – for my last heat?”

What?” This is the detail that has truly shocked her. She nearly falls off the bed, nearly topples right over from the surprise of it. “Are you out of your mind? There’s cameras all over that building! Your father religiously checks up on –“

“I know, I just couldn’t help myself, okay?”

“Oh, my God…” she repeats this, and buries her face in her hands. She’s quiet for a full minute, just shaking her head, absolutely speechless. Stiles cannot blame her for that, so he stays quiet, and he waits. “What’s the plan here, Stiles? You’re just going to sneak around with him until your father finds out and loses his goddamn mind?”

“I don’t know,” he confesses, rubbing at his face and feeling small “I don’t know, I don’t know. I just can’t…he’s.”

“How well do you even know him?”

“Enough.”

“You let this boy in with you during your heat? Do you have any idea how irresponsible –“

“Mom,” he cuts her off, squaring his shoulders. “He loves me, I know it.”

“Oh, I bet he’s told you that,” she snorts, rolling her eyes, and it makes Stiles so fucking mad to be dismissed like that. Like he’s too stupid to know any better, too dumb to know when someone is lying to him. Stiles has spent his entire life hating alphas. He’s not suddenly going to trust the first one who comes up and smiles at him, for fuck’s sake. “What else has he said? That you’re special?”

Stiles looks her right in her eyes. “That he wants to marry me, actually.”

She breathes out. This is something she was not expecting. For whatever reason, this is the detail that trips her up – she puts her chin in her palm and looks past Stiles’ head, going far away for a second. Then, she laughs, this ironic sort of laugh. “Jesus Christ, you’re serious about this.”

“Yes.”

“And so is he.”

“Yes.”

“And now this is a whole fucking thing.”

Stiles rarely if ever hears his mother use the f-word. He nods his head all the same.

“God dammit.”

“You know, I could just do it. I could just marry him and dad wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.”

Her eyes go sharp. She gives him a look so profoundly agonized and disappointed in him that he thinks it should melt his face off for its severity. He shrinks back and immediately he wants to suck the words back into his mouth, to never say them at all, because it was shitty of him. It would be unforgivable of him to do that, he knows, and if he did it, he’d have to run away and his parents would never hear from him again.

It’d be like he was just gone. He knows that.

“I won’t. I would never – I just…I can’t fucking marry one of dad’s deputies, I can’t be with a beta, you know it!”

“I know that,” she says quietly, upset.

“He wants me to be some god damn asshole’s little house pet!”

“I know.”

“That’s not me, and Derek would never ask me to do that!”

She seems totally resigned, at this point. Quiet and disappointed and sad. “Fucking Derek Hale,” she says from between grit teeth, like in this moment, she hates him as much as she’s ever hated anything. Like she would give anything to go to his house and slap the living shit out of him for all this bullshit he’s brought down on her family. “Here’s what we’re going to do. I will not say a word, and neither will you. Your father never has to know about this. Not for now.”

“But –“

“I don’t know what we’re going to do about this. Nothing, not a thing for now. I’ll think about it. I’ll…I’ll come up with something. I don’t know what, or how, but…maybe going along with anything your dad says for a while is in your best interest.”

Stiles knows exactly what she means. He better be quiet and do as he’s told, which is not something he’s always been particularly good at.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” she stands from his bed and smooths out her skirt, “the second that fucking kid takes one step out of line and does anything, one single thing, other than treat you with the utmost respect, a bullet is going in his fucking head.”

Stiles’ eyes go big, but he fervently nods his agreement and understanding. Stiles’ dad is the authoritarian figure in the house, and he is the alpha, so Stiles knows to fear him on principle alone.

But Stiles’ mother is fucking crazy. She will shoot someone for looking at Stiles the wrong way. It is a good thing that Derek is not liable to do anything untoward, not even in the slightest, otherwise Stiles would be genuinely worried for his safety.

She gives him one last withering look, and then she leaves his bedroom, shutting the door quietly behind herself to go sneak back into bed with Stiles’ father.

**

Stiles’ second article appears in the paper, and it’s even worse than the first one.

He had written about his perfect grades and his perfect attendance and how all of his teachers have always loved him and have written him glowing letters of recommendation, and how none of it really matters. When he gets married, he’ll be expected to stay at home even though he can’t have children to take care of. He’ll be expected to clean all day long and make the bed and pick up hobbies like bird watching or some nonsense like that, because no one will hire him for a real job. Most alphas would sooner chain their omegas to the bed before letting them go out and do something for themselves. An omega’s life is supposed to be catering to their mate, period. Whether it’s an alpha or a beta it does not matter.

By this point everyone knows that he’s writing in the paper, so everyone reads it the second it comes out to see what the mouthy omega is going to rant off about this time. After the letter to the editor was printed with all that nonsense from an anonymous alpha (probably Hunter Morrison, who eyeballs the ever-living hell out of Stiles in English class now), everyone was sort of surprised. They acted like they’d never in their lives heard of someone being so violent towards an omega before, but Stiles knows better.

They’ve all heard about it. They just have never fucking cared, so long as they didn’t have to see it happen right in font of them.

This time, a lot more people are upset. He can feel it in the way some alphas literally glare at him as he walks past, or give him a dirty look like they think he’s crazy, or scoff at him or roll their eyes. It was one thing in his first piece when he only spoke about himself and how it feels. It’s another to directly throw alphas under the bus for something they’ve done to him, or at least what they would plan to do.

In lunch period, people walk past him and there’s negative energy. The entire room feels like it’s staring at him. Even Scott and Allison notice.

“I don’t see what they’re all so annoyed about,” Allison says, slowly stirring her Greek yogurt with a frown on her face. “It’s not any worse than what you were saying before, and they liked that.”

“Because these people think it’s wrong of me to want a job,” he tells her. “I’m not supposed to do anything other than clean up after an alpha.”

“But they think it’s wrong you can’t go to college,” she goes on, still not getting it.

“Because college is harmless. Reading books and whatnot,” he shrugs, “it may be a waste of money and time, but harmless.”

Scott nods, like he totally gets it, like he religiously lurks the omega forums like Stiles does. Hell, he probably genuinely does have an account on one of those just to read what they’re all saying. “They don’t want a partner, they want a maid,” he agrees enthusiastically. “They’re all fucking assholes,” he raises his voice, so people can hear him, “and I think it sucks.”

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Thanks.”

“It was good either way, Stiles,” Allison assures him with a sincere smile, “you write well. Maybe you can be a journalist!”

Stiles feels like laughing directly in her face. You’ve gotta go to college if you want to write for a major publication, and he’s never getting in there. If he were to marry Derek, he’d be allowed to tag along to Derek’s classes with him, but Stiles highly doubts he’s going to major in Journalism. Stiles actually has no fucking idea what Derek intends to go to college for, but he knows that Derek has applied to a bunch of schools only because he saw the pamphlets and such on Derek’s desk at home.

It’s not something that Derek has ever brought up, before. Partially because he assumes it would hurt Stiles’ feelings, to hear about Derek going off to get his higher education, when he knows Stiles wants that so terribly badly and isn’t allowed to have it.

But, Allison only intends to be kind, so he won’t be mean to her. He just nods like yeah, sure, maybe, in my fucking dreams, and she smiles some more. She looks at something over Stiles’ shoulder and zeroes in on it, before she leans down and lowers her voice. “Derek Hale is coming over here,” she says, like she’s excited for him. As far as she knows, he’s just a hot alpha who thinks Stiles is cute, nothing more, nothing less.

Stiles looks over his shoulder, and sure enough, there’s Derek, with his tray and everything, walking right up to their table. Stiles feigns total and complete lack of interest, shrugging his shoulders and picking up his peanut butter and jelly again, shoving it into his face to hide his smile.

Derek stops right next to them. He has three hamburgers on his tray and nothing else, like he’s a caveman or something, and Stiles wants to laugh out loud about it, but he can’t. He settles for a smirk and an eye roll that makes Derek smile. “My friends aren’t in lunch today,” he says, “mind if I sit here?”

Scott is mute. He is focusing very intently on his banana, as though it holds the secrets to the very universe, most likely because he knows if he were to speak a single word, he couldn’t stop himself from blurting out the truth in front of the entire school. Honestly, it is a very, very irresponsible move on Derek’s part to come up and sit and eat lunch with Stiles. It is not very smart at all. He can see people staring at the and whispering already, because Stiles notoriously hisses at any alpha who comes within five feet of him – for whatever reason, they think he just has a soft spot for Derek Hale.

But, Stiles can’t really blame him. They don’t get to see each other at all except for this one time of the day, and Stiles gets it. He’s spent most of his classes staring out the window just wondering what Derek was doing, thinking, who he was talking to, if he was thinking about Stiles. Now, here’s the living breathing proof that Derek has done nothing but think about Stiles.

“Fine,” Stiles says, like he’s annoyed.

Derek sits. He picks up one of his hamburgers and bites into it, while Allison looks between the two of them again and again. Maybe she’s trying to imagine them being together. She seems to decide they look cute, because she smiles.

“I liked your article, Stilinski,” Derek says to him, casual. Stiles buries his pleased smile underneath a giant bite of peanut butter. “It was smart.”

“Stiles is super smart,” Allison butts in, a mischievous grin on her face. “So, you like what he said? About omegas getting to have jobs?”

Derek smiles right back at her. “Absolutely.”

“Oh,” she is pleased. She looks at Stiles and raises her eyebrows, and Scott is a miserable fucking man next to her. He eats his banana manically, bite after bite, staring pointedly down at the table. He is bursting at the fucking seams to get up and shout that Derek and Stiles are fucking, but bless his heart, he stays put. Silent. Eating his banana. “You know, the Winter Dance is coming up.”

“A mating ritual is coming up,” Stiles corrects with a raised eyebrow. Derek eats his hamburger without comment.

“I just mean, you know. Sometimes people ask other people to go to the dance, I don’t know,” she shrugs. Jesus, she’s practically grabbing Derek and Stiles by the back of their necks and pushing them together while saying now, kiss for how subtle she is. “I bet Stiles will get lots of offers.”

“Perhaps not,” Stiles shrugs. “Now that I’m too outspoken and crazy.”

“But so pretty,” she gestures to him, giving Derek a look.

Derek nods his head. He is amused, loving every second of this, Stiles can see it plain as day on his smug fucking arrogant god damn face. “The prettiest.”

Jesus fucking Christ…

“Tons of people are going to ask you, Stiles,” she assures him, like this is something he’s genuinely looking forward to. Stiles can honestly say he’d rather stab himself with a rusty shiv than have to live through countless alpha proposals, especially with how things are going for him right now, but again, he does not want to be rude to her.

“I’ll have my dad go and prepare the dowry.”

She laughs. Scott is done with his banana and now has nothing to do with his hands, so he settles on pressing them together in front of his mouth, elbows on the table, eyes unfocused and far away.

“McCall,” Derek says, so Scott meeps and sits up straight. “You ready for the game on Friday?”

“Oh,” he squeaks, then clears his throat. “Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. I’m ready. Big time. I’m – I’m there. One hundred percent. Ready. Head in the game.”

Stiles palms his face.

“I guess you’ll be there then, huh, Stilinski?”

Stiles actually hadn’t thought about it. Well, duh, he’s going to the game, because he begged his parents to let him go to support Scott and he had to swear he’d be sitting with Allison who is a beta and completely harmless and his friend, but he had forgotten the part where Derek would be there, too. Playing. Derek has probably been dying to ask if Stiles is going all damn day, but hasn’t had an opportunity, so now he’s here, playing nonchalant in front of Stiles’ friends, like he could care less.

He cares a whole fucking lot. Stiles knows it. “I guess so,” he shrugs, eating a potato chip. “I’ve never seen a lacrosse game before.”

“I think you’ll like it,” Derek tells him. What he means is, that Stiles will probably greatly enjoy getting to watch Derek run around and get sweaty on a field for two straight hours, and he is not wrong about that, not in the least. Derek is on his second hamburger, big bites, and Stiles watches him eat out of the corner of his eyes.

He’s just eating hamburgers. But Stiles is obsessed.

“There’s a party at Lydia’s house after,” Allison says, and she’s smiling some more. “Stiles, can you come?”

“Oh, uh,” he rubs the back of his neck, “my dad is not crazy about me going to parties with alphas and liquor. I can ask, but…” the answer is almost certain to be hell fucking no.

She taps her chin. “Maybe you’re sleeping over at Scott’s house that night.”

“Maybe,” Derek agrees, polishing off his second burger and picking up his third. He wants Stiles at that party probably more than he wants to win his idiotic lacrosse game.

But, again. “I can’t get away with a lie like that.”

Scott nods, but keeps his mouth shut. It’s better for everyone that way.

“Well, you never know,” she shrugs. “Maybe he’ll say yes.”

When hell freezes over, yes, perhaps his dad will let Stiles go to a party.

**

He gets home from school and drops his backpack onto the ground by the door, calling that he’s home into the bowels of the house. He’s just about to start climbing the steps when his father’s voice comes from down the hall, asking him to come into the kitchen.

With a sigh he heads that way, hands in his pockets.

He turns the corner and sees his parents both sitting at the kitchen table. His mother is looking remarkably uncomfortable, sitting there with her arms folded, while his father looks…angry. That’s his normal facial expression, but it takes on a bit of more menacing quality when Stiles sees what they’ve got laid out in front of them.

It’s the Beaconian. Three different issues. All the ones with Stiles’ pieces in them, including the one with the insane letter to the editor about raping him. His heart falls deep into his stomach and he stills, unsure of if he should even move at this particular moment. The thought comes that maybe he should make a break for it, but he could never outrun his dad, so he stays put.

“Come sit,” his father says, and Stiles has fight or flight alarm bells going off in his head. He swallows and seriously considers running out the front door, but instead, he slowly moves into the kitchen, pulls out the chair he normally sits in at dinner, and sits.

“I can explain,” he starts, but his dad silences him with a finger in the air.

“I explicitly told you I didn’t want you writing anything like this for your school paper.” This is a quiet sort of rage – no yelling, no throwing stuff around, but it’s almost worse than if he were to do any of those things.

Stiles shifts in his seat. “But I…did you even read them? I’m good at it.”

“I did read them,” he says, and then he cocks his head in his mom’s direction, “and your mother read them, too. They are good. That’s not the point. The point is, you directly disobeyed us and went ahead and did it anyway, even though you knew how I felt about it.”

Stiles stares at the table. Really, he has no defense. “But I was just telling the truth,” he argues all the same, “you don’t know how kids at that school look at me. They all think I’m stupid, I just wanted to prove I’m not, why is that so bad?”

“You don’t have to prove anything to them,” he insists, but he’s wrong. Stiles has to prove everything, all the time, every single fucking day, because no one would ever believe he even has half a brain cell in his head otherwise. “Why are you so worried about what these kids at school think of you? Or if you’re going to be able to get a job after school is over?”

Stiles bristles. “Because I want a job.”

“You think you do,” he says, and Stiles desperately looks to his mother for backup, like she normally always is willing to give. She always jumps to his defense and tells the Sheriff to lighten up or to try and see things from Stiles’ perspective, or she at least argues. Tonight, she is quiet, arms crossed, a frown on her face. “You’re lucky no one expects you to –“

“Lucky?” He scoffs. “It’s dehumanizing to not even be allowed to – to –“

“Once you’re older, you’ll understand,” he waves his hand, like Stiles’ protests mean nothing, like everything he wrote is just silliness, a childish lark of his, and Stiles wants to stand up and flip the table over. He wants to say his dad is crazy, he’s not thinking clearly, all he can think about is how scared he is of his son getting taken away because he can’t control the omega and it clouds his fucking judgment.

He looks at his mom again, and she’s still.

Stiles remembers what she had said when he got back from Derek’s house, that night – about going along with what his father says, because it’s for the best. Not to ruffle any feathers. Not to stand up to him about the wrong things, because he’ll get suspicious. To not rock the boat. He’ll start snooping if he thinks Stiles is out of control. And there is plenty to fucking find, at this point, and Stiles cannot let that happen.

It is unfair, beyond anything that has ever been unfair in this life.

But he sucks in a deep breath and glares at the tabletop. He says, “okay.”

“Obviously, you’re not doing this anymore,” he points to the papers, and Stiles wants to protest and argue because he likes writing and he’s good at it and everyone reads it and maybe he can actually change people’s minds with his words, but he keeps his fucking mouth shut.

For the first time since all this started, his mother actually speaks. “Maybe there’s another club you can join?”

Stiles is angry. He is doing his level best to keep it buried deep, because an episode would do nothing to help his case. He thinks about any other club he might be interested in, and his mind instantly drifts to Derek’s pins on his school jacket. He clears his throat and says, “book club?”

“Book club,” his mother repeats, then looks to the Sheriff. “Sounds harmless.”

“Fine,” his father waves his hand, and Stiles nods. Okay, fine, book club. “But this entire thing has proven to me one thing – you need to stop getting these ideas in your head about becoming some kind of activist and getting yourself killed or something even worse than that.”

Be quiet, Stiles chants to himself in his head. Be quiet, be quiet, be quiet, don’t yell, don’t talk back, just fucking sit there and be quiet.

“I’ve got someone I want you to meet,” he says, and Stiles’ eyes go wide, because he knows what that means. He has been dreading the day he’d hear those words for years and years and years. He looks at his dad, mouth opening and closing, and then to his mother, who is pointedly avoiding his eye contact, frowning still, looking anywhere but at Stiles.

This cannot be happening.

“I think you’ll like him,” he goes on, and he smiles, like this is supposed to make Stiles happy, but Stiles just sits there, eyes big, throat itching, his hands shaking. This can’t be happening. It’s too soon. Stiles was supposed to have more time.

This wasn’t supposed to happen until graduation, and he had time. He had months and months of time to plot his way out of this, or to at least marry Derek and avoid it altogether, or just – to do something. Anything. It’s too soon.

“He’s one of my newer deputies, and he’s pretty young,” he’s still talking, but it’s white noise in Stiles’ ears. “I think you guys would get along pretty well.”

Stiles swallows and he blinks, quick, trying to keep his tears at bay. He doesn’t want to meet this person. He doesn’t want to. He wants to say that – that he’s not interested, it’s a beta, he doesn’t want a beta, he doesn’t want to, he just fucking doesn’t want to, he can’t, because…

…what’s he supposed to say? Stiles should be thrilled at the prospect of finally being allowed to date. He should be grateful at finally getting a chance to meet someone and get taken out and all this other fucking nonsense. There is no reason he shouldn’t be happy about his, in his dad’s mind. What’s he going to say? He’s already found someone?

That’s out of the question.

Stiles says not a word. He looks to his mother, who looks back at him with a face that tells him to just do it, and he knows it’s for his own good. He has no choice. He stays quiet and he nods and he tries not to look too miserable, but he knows it shows. How can it not?

“He’s coming to dinner tomorrow night,” his father sweeps the newspapers up off the table and stands, moving over to the trash. In Stiles’ writing goes, like it’s useless, and Stiles really feels, in this moment, like it is. Like he is. All he’s good for is being someone’s husband. His dad thinks so. Maybe he’s right.

Stiles isn’t sure if his dad intends this to be a punishment for disobeying him, or not. But if it is, he’s a maniacal genius. Because Stiles feels effectively punished. This is a fucking nightmare.

“Can I be excused?” He croaks. “I have homework.”

“Of course,” his mother tells him before the Sheriff can say a fucking word. She knows that Stiles has to leave this table right now, immediately, before he does something stupid.

He leaps up and goes to the hall. Picks up his backpack as an afterthought. Runs up the stairs and goes straight into the bathroom with his ears ringing and his body feeling like it’s made of water, because it’s the only room in the house with a door that will lock.

He slams it behind himself and immediately bursts into tears. With his back against the door, he slides down to sit on the floor, shucking his backpack off to the side of his body, and cries into his hands. He reaches up and locks the door, and then curls in on himself.

He pulls his knees up and cradles them with his arms, crying as quietly as he can so they won’t hear him downstairs. His body shakes and he wishes Derek were here, more than anything else in the entire fucking world.

There was supposed to be more time. Stiles was supposed to have more time. He was going to get himself out of this. He had committed himself already to the idea that he wasn’t going to let this happen to him, that he wasn’t going to let it happen, it wasn’t going to fucking happen. Derek said he didn’t have to marry anyone else. Stiles knows that his father’s mind is already made up; he would not be introducing Stiles to someone who he didn’t think was a perfect match. There’s no way for Stiles to escape it.

He’s going to date this asshole, and then they’re going to get married, and that’ll be that. His father has decided. Stiles wants to scream, rip this room apart, break something, kick the wall, do something, anything, but he doesn’t. He sits and he cries.

Chapter Text

Telling Lydia his father had banished him from the newspaper was hard. She seemed very surprised to hear that there was an alpha in Stiles’ life who Stiles allowed to control him this much, because Stiles is so smart and outspoken and angry, but Stiles had no choice. He turned his pin over and she frowned at him and she didn’t say much of anything. It was almost like she was disappointed in him, but she doesn’t know the full story.

If she did, she would probably just pity him, and Stiles does not like to be pitied, so he kept his mouth shut and ignored her judgmental stare.

He finds the room where book club is and he rubs at his face. He knows he probably looks a bit disheveled and tired, because he had spent the entire night crying and snuggling with the penguin that Derek had bought him, that he has to bury in his hamper whenever he’s not home because if his father saw it he’d know it was a gift from an alpha suitor. He hopes he doesn’t look too miserable when he opens the door and walks inside, because Derek is there.

They’re sitting in a circle. They’ve got the desks arranged and everything. There’s about seven or eight of them, and they all turn at the sound of the door opening, their conversation stopped short. When Derek sees Stiles standing there he immediately sits up straighter and looks surprised. Stiles hadn’t answered any of Derek’s texts last night because he’d been too upset and too sad and he didn’t want to have to tell Derek the truth, but now there Derek is, and Stiles…really, cannot put into words how relieved he is to see him.

He looks the same as usual. Dark hair, tall, big arrogant grin on his face. Stiles wants to run across the room and jump into his arms and cry, but everyone is looking at him, so he clears his throat and steps farther in, ignoring Derek’s eyes on him.

“Stiles,” the group leader is Kira Yukimura – who happens to be a girl from his History class that Stiles knows. She greets him with a big smile. Stiles had told her earlier he’d be joining, so she had been expecting him. “You made it!”

Stiles nods.

“Well, don’t be shy, come join,” she gestures wildly, and then she scans the room to see there’s no available spots. “Why don’t you grab a chair and –“

“There’s a spot next to me,” Derek immediately says. There isn’t, is the thing. Derek’s friend Boyd is sitting there. Derek looks at him and barks, “move,” so Boyd sighs this long, long suffering sigh of irritation.

But, he stands. He collects his bag and his book. Then, he sarcastically bows in Stiles’ direction, offering the seat to him with his arms outstretched, before sauntering off to grab a desk off to the side and find a spot to fit it into the circle.

Stiles puts his bag on the ground next to Boyd’s now-empty desk and sits. He’s between Derek and Allison, who smiles at him and looks happy to see him here. For Derek’s part, he leans back in his seat and chews on his pen, giving Stiles a long once over, then smiling at him.

Stiles wishes they were alone. He wants to be alone with him. He wants everyone else to disappear so Stiles can be with him, and only him.

“I don’t have an extra copy of our book this month today, but I promise I will next session,” Kira says, “for now you can share with –“

“Me,” Derek interrupts, and Kira blinks at him. She furtively glances to Stiles as if silently asking him if that’s okay, because Derek is an alpha and Stiles notoriously detests all of them for good reason – but Stiles nods.

“Okay, then. Now, we were just talking about how…”

Derek slides his desk closer to Stiles’, so they’re touching, edge to edge, and their bodies are as close as they can possibly get like this. Stiles can smell him, this close, and it comforts him – cinnamon, cloves, cologne. His clothes are rumpled and his jacket has a stain from lunch on it, but Stiles wants to sit and stare at him.

Derek moves his book into the middle of their two desks. It’s The Lovely Bones. Stiles has read it before, so he puts his chin in his palm and mentally checks out for the rest of the hour, wishing that they were in a position where they could hold hands. Or, at least sit and stare at one another without it seeming weird. Stiles would be more than happy to spend an entire hour sitting at a desk, looking into Derek’s eyes.

It’s that gross, and it’s that bad. For real.

At one point during the discussion, Derek sits up and starts talking, giving his opinion on whatever they’re sitting around debating at the moment. He talks very self-assured and confident, and also, smart. And beyond that, sexy. Stiles sits and stares at him with his chin in his palm, watching him talk, enthusiastic and smart, and he wants to lick Derek’s throat. Badly. It’s perverse. Stiles is obsessed, obsessed, obsessed.

Finally, it ends. Kira dismisses them all cheerily and says she’ll see them next session, and Stiles immediately stands up, followed by Derek.

They look at each other. Derek says, “you weren’t answering last night,” and he looks Stiles up and down as though searching him for evidence of injury or hurt.

Allison is right behind them, putting her things into her bag. “Stiles, I didn’t know you were joining book club,” she interrupts, and Stiles loves her, genuinely he does, but in this moment he wants to tell her to shut up so badly.

“Oh, uh,” he hasn’t told Derek this yet, obviously, and telling him via telling Allison while he overhears is as good as anything else, so he clears his throat. “…my dad found out I was writing articles and kicked me off. Now, I’m in book club.”

“What?” She furrows her brow. “Scott said he kind of sucked, but I didn’t realize it was…” that bad, is what she wants to say. But, she smiles sadly at him and shrugs, instead. “Well, there are no assholes in this club. We read lots of good books. You’ll like it,” she glances at Derek over Stiles’ shoulder. “See you.”

“Yeah, see you,” he agrees, waving her off.

As soon as she’s gone, most of the classroom empty, Stiles turns and looks at Derek. “I kinda need to talk to you,” he says, and he needs say nothing else. Derek picks his bag up and starts to leave, ignoring Boyd, who clearly was expecting to have a conversation with Derek and is now set aside like chopped liver. Stiles follows him, out into the hall, down by the vending machines and the plant where they had their last private conversation at school.

The lights are half off down here, because the school day is over and they conserve energy, so they’re only partially lit by the glow from the machines, standing together in the corner, Stiles frowning and Derek looking desperate to know what’s going on.

“Your dad made you quit the paper?” He demands, angry. “Did he even read what you wrote? Why the hell would he be angry about what you said, when it was only the truth? Doesn’t he give a shit about what you think?”

“No,” Stiles tells him honestly, a sarcastic laugh coming out of him before he can help himself. “No, his greatest concern is keeping me away from alphas who want to harm me at all costs.”

“You are always saying things like that to defend him,” Derek hisses at him. “You don’t have to fucking defend him. What he does and how he treats you isn’t okay.”

“Look,” he starts, holding his hands out, frowning. “This is all irrelevant, because I need to tell you something. All right? It’s bad. It’s real bad. And it’s going to make you very, very angry. But I need you to stay calm.”

Derek blinks at him. Then, he puts his arms over his chest and he sighs. “What is it.”

He knows it’s bad. Stiles would not pull him into a corner at school like this, frowning like this, averting his gaze like this, for anything that wasn’t absolutely fucking terrible. Stiles can see it in his face that he knows, that he’s already halfway to lividly angry just about the paper, and he rubs his face.

He has never seen Derek angry before. What he knows about angry alphas is a lot, because his father has drilled into him the need to avoid making them angry at all costs. They have bad tempers. They have very little control over their tempers. And Stiles knows this is going to make Derek absolutely fucking murderous, because Derek has already decided Stiles is his, all his, and…just…

He looks at the ceiling. “So.” He starts, and it hangs there for a moment. “There is, apparently, a deputy. That my dad likes. That he wants me to meet.”

“What do you mean?”

Stiles toes at the ground. “Remember how I’ve said my dad is going to – he wants to marry me off? To, ideally, a cop?”

There’s a pause. Derek staring at him. He’s putting the pieces together in his head, slowly, very slowly, because his mind is likely rejecting it entirely, but Stiles sees it the moment it clicks. His body stiffens and his eyes narrow and his jaw tightens up, from gritting his teeth together.

Stiles decides to keep talking before Derek can say anything. “I don’t really have a choice, here, I have to date him, otherwise…I just don’t have a choice. My dad is making me, he’s my alpha, I can’t…”

“Stiles,” Derek says, voice low and serious. “I need you to know I am exerting every single ounce of my self control into not punching my fist through this god damn wall right now.”

Stiles sighs. He thought so. “Just calm down,” he says, but Derek keeps going.

“That motherfucker is not your alpha,” he says, then he points to his chest, his eyes dark and intense and serious, beyond serious, to the grave serious, “I am.”

“Not officially,” he says, voice small, because it’s true.

Derek says nothing. He is dangerously quiet.

“Just – just –“ he paces a bit, nervously, back and forth, and wrings his hands together. “I cannot get out of this right now, and I know that hurts you and it’s not that great for me either believe me, but I have to do as he says for now. I have to, I – and he’s going to make me go out with him. And if it gets to that point, I’ll probably have to…invite him…” he treads lightly, on this particular point, “…to the center, for my –“

“You’re going to fuck this guy?”

There it goes. Stiles can almost physically see the last piece of Derek’s self control go flying out the window. He walks right up to the vending machine with the chocolates and chips in it, and he punches it. His fist goes clean through the glass, shattering it into a million pieces – Stiles yelps in surprise and jumps back, as the glass cascades down onto the ground along with a handful of Hershey’s bars and bags of sun chips.

Derek pulls his hand out. To Stiles’ complete dismay, it is covered in glass and blood, dripping down his arm and ruining his uniform shirt – but Derek just observes it, eerily calm. He says, “I better go to the nurse,” in a detached voice, and then he stalks off to do exactly that, leaving Stiles blinking after him with his jaw on the floor.

That, honestly, went better than Stiles had expected it to.

**

Stiles’ phone buzzes on his desk right next to where he is trying and failing to concentrate on his homework. The screen reads Derek’s name and he grabs at it quickly, moving to his closet and shoving himself inside with the door closed behind him.

He sits on the floor next to his shoes and answers. “Hi,” he breathes, into the dark.

“Hi,” Derek’s voice sounds tinny on the other line, different and strange. “I wanted to…I’m sorry I lost my temper like that.”

“No,” he shakes his head, “no it’s okay, you’re totally right to be mad this situation is so fucked and you’re so right to be angry because it’s not fair, like, at all, and you’ve been so - you’re so – and I’m terrible, just dumping that on you out of nowhere, and –“

“Stiles,” he sounds amused. Stiles can hear the smile in his voice. “It’s – I mean. It’s not okay. But you don’t need to apologize to me. I…I was just surprised. I didn’t think. Well. This is just sort of taking me…”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees, leaning his head back agains the wall. “…is your hand okay?”

“It’s fine. A few bandages and I’m good as new.”

He sighs. “I wish I could’ve stayed with you at the nurse but…” but, he couldn’t. Then he’d have to call his dad and say he’d be late and it’d be an entire thing. “I’m not happy about this. And I won’t have sex with him, I won’t even kiss him. I swear. I’ll – I’ll play the role of the totally chaste omega, 100%.”

Derek laughs. “Good. You don’t seriously think your dad would just let this guy be with you during your heat, do you?”

Stiles has already decided that he will never lie to Derek, for any reason, ever, no matter what the consequences of the truth are. Maybe that’s an indication of his body latching onto Derek as his alpha already even without being claimed. He tells the truth when he says, “I do think that. Um, here’s the thing. This guy … I’m not just supposed to date him. This is. He’s setting me up. He’s going to marry me off to this guy. It’s not…”

Derek is quiet for a moment. Stiles can only imagine what he’s doing – if he’s up in his bedroom fiddling with the bandages on his hand, sitting on his bed, seething with barely restrained rage, and putting on a brave face for Stiles’ sake. “It’s not just casual, that’s what you mean. What if you said you don’t like him?”

“Irrelevant.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No. This is his choice. He thinks.”

Another silence. Then, Derek sounds angry, angrier than ever before, “I don’t fucking like this,” he barks, and Stiles palms his face. “It’s not right. What is this, 1674? This arranged marriage bullshit - it’s not right. You’re mine, you’re with me, I fucking…” he trails off, and Stiles can only nod his head, because Derek is right. “When are you meeting this fucking guy?”

“At dinner tonight,” he says, dreading it, dreading it, dreading it. “It’s going to be a whole thing.”

“This is so fucked,” he mutters, mostly to himself it sounds like. “How long can you really keep this up? How long am I supposed to just – are you – how long?”

“I just haven’t figured out yet how to pose the idea to my dad in a way that doesn’t end with you lying dead in a pool of your own blood.”

“Fair enough,” he snaps, like it’s not fair, not at all. “I’m about two steps away from taking you to the courthouse and just fucking doing it.”

“Derek,” Stiles puts a begging tone into his voice, “just give me – just – I know it’s not fair. But you don’t know how much that would kill my family if I –“

“I can honestly say at this exact second that I don’t care about them. They are ruining your life.”

Stiles knows it. He knows Derek is right. He knows the situation is fucked. He knows he cannot possibly fake date some beta and real date Derek at the same time, it’s ridiculous, it’s stupid, and most importantly, it can only end in bloodshed.

But he can’t do that. “Just give me some time,” he asks, and Derek sighs. He may already be at that point, where he can’t truly say no to Stiles, even when it kills him. “I’m sorry. This isn’t…I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he says, but it’s not. “If that guy puts his fucking hands on you –“

“I will not let him, I swear.”

He sighs. “Okay.”

**

Jordan Parrish is the most boring person that Stiles has ever met in his entire life. He moves boring. He talks boring. He looks boring. Stiles was bored the second he walked into the room, immediately writing him off as a waste of his fucking time.

But, unfortunately, Jordan does not seem to feel the same about Stiles. Of course not. Because Jordan has seen the pictures of Stiles that the Sheriff has on his desk at work and knew that Stiles was attractive. But it is one thing to see it frozen in a picture and another to see it in full surround sound right in front of him.

He laughed when Stiles reached out to shake his hand. It was this incredulous are you fucking kidding me this is seriously him type of a laugh. Stiles looks like a wet dream to him, most likely. Considering he’s got the nondescript face of a Ken doll, he never in his life would’ve expected an omega that looks like this to even glance in his direction.

Now here he is, across the dinner table, looking right at Stiles, and he’s still got that look of disbelief on his face. Stiles eats his lasagna and tries to avoid Jordan’s direct eye contact.

It doesn’t matter. He stares. It’s hard not to.

“You’re how old?” Stiles asks him after taking a big sip of his milk.

Jordan smiles at him. “Twenty seven.”

Stiles grimaces. Then looks to his mother, who has been putting wine away all night long like it’s her job to drink it. If it weren’t for the fact that Stiles’ dad will not let him have wine, even in spite of how he’s the legal age to drink and has been for two years, he’d be fucking wasted right now.

“Nine years older than me. That’s not weird or anything.”

“Stiles,” his dad warns. Stiles shrugs.

“I’m just pointing it out. I’m still in high school, did you know?”

“I did know that.”

“Yup. I’m a teenager in high school.”

“You look older than that,” Jordan tells him. Stiles isn’t clear on whether that’s meant to be a compliment or not. Either way, it pings as gross, and Stiles does not like it.

“I’m not.”

“You seem smart,” Jordan says, and Stiles looks somewhere at an imaginary camera.

“A fat lot of good being smart will get me when I’m washing your dishes every night, huh?”

“Stiles.” This warning is serious. Stiles sits back in his seat and decides he’s not hungry in spite of only having taken about four bites of his dinner.

Jordan smiles at him, still, no matter what Stiles throws at him. The guy is demented. It’s like Stiles can say whatever he wants and it doesn’t matter, because he’s pretty, so fuck it. “I have a dishwasher.”

Stiles wants to flap his napkin across his face and say “oh, wow, a dishwasher, get the dowry paw!” in an over affected southern accent. But he thinks that would send his father over the edge, so he just grimaces again.

“I am smart,” he says instead. “You know, I actually would’ve been top of my class several years in a row, but I don’t get ranked with the rest of my classmates.”

“Well, it wouldn’t be fair,” Jordan says, and Stiles wants to sprout claws and lunge across the table at him to rip his skin off his face. “Being ranked with alphas and betas.”

“My pea-sized omega brain can’t possibly keep up,” he agrees with mock sincerity. Jordan reads his foul attitude as a joke.

He laughs. Stiles hates him more than he’s ever hated anyone.

“I actually meant because omegas are on average smarter,” he corrects, and that gives Stiles some pause. “I read a study. They have higher IQ’s. Not to mention much better emotional intelligence.”

Stiles blinks at him. He has no sassy retort for that one.

His father haughtily drinks his beer as if to say “I told you that you’d like him,” but Stiles still doesn’t like him. So he’s not a complete and total sexist pig – that doesn’t mean Stiles has to immediately drop his pants.

“Jordan does a lot of work with omegas actually. You know. Those kinds of cases,” his father will not elaborate because everyone at this table knows what he’s referring to. What kind of cases he means.

Stiles takes a second to look at Jordan Parrish, again – this time, he really looks. He’s young, and he has a baby face that’s deceiving and also speaks to why he’s been given the task of working with omegas out of anyone else they have on at the precinct. He’s got nice eyes and carefully styled hair, and he’s fit like he works out a lot, and just for one second, Stiles imagines it.

He imagines that Jordan is boring in bed. He imagines that he has no real interests other than police work, and that makes Stiles distrust him on instinct alone. He imagines that Jordan enjoys things like doing the crossword puzzle and sitting at the dinner table talking about how their day was. This is exactly the life that Stiles’ dad wants for him. A mild mannered beta who doesn’t hate omegas, but is a benign sexist because sure, omegas are smart, but at the end of the day, they still need us to look out for them. They still need to spend all their time in the house. They need to be watched. They need to be controlled, because they can’t control themselves.

Jordan is nice enough. Stiles hates him.

“It’s not a very fun part of my job, but it’s necessary,” he says, looking only at Stiles, because Stiles is the only person in this room he cares to impress. “It’s important to me.”

Stiles squishes his lasagna with his fork. “Great.”

“Your dad showed me that letter a disgruntled alpha wrote to you after what you said in your school paper,” he says, out of the clear blue sky, and Stiles frowns – he looks to his dad, confused, but his dad has no discernible expression on his face. “That’s the kind of thing you should take seriously, Stiles.”

Stiles thinks about throwing his fork into Jordan’s stupid fucking face. “It’s a dime a dozen. If I went postal every time an alpha told me in no uncertain terms he wanted to rape me, I’d be a billionaire.”

Jordan gives him a critical look. His plate is almost empty and he’s barely touched his beer, maybe not big into drinking. “It’s not a joke.”

“It is to me,” he snorts. “Some alpha going insane because I won’t sleep with them. Come on. It’s pathetic.”

“Sure it is. It’s also dangerous.”

Stiles makes a gesture at Jordan that says ‘seriously, with this guy?’, frowning at his dad and eyeballing his mother. They sit quietly and watch this exchange like they want to see how it all unfolds, how Jordan and Stiles mesh, if they get along.

“I guess,” he agrees, no point in arguing. “What, you want to write a report?”

“No,” he smiles, again, and Stiles hates him. “Just, if there’s any more developments, maybe let me know.”

Right. Because now Jordan is supposedly dating him and as such is responsible for Stiles’ safety and should be informed on any ongoing events in Stiles’ life; after all, Stiles is stupid and flighty and prone to chasing after the first alpha who pays him any mind. Now that he’s being paired off, that won’t do.

Stiles’ childhood is being ripped out from underneath him, right in front of his eyes. His adolescence gone in a blink, handed over to this twenty-seven year old man who will control everything he says or does for the rest of his life. But, like, in a nice way.

Stiles looks at his parents and says, “I don’t like him.” Jordan blinks, as though he’s surprised by Stiles’ forthrightness, but doesn’t seem terribly offended.

Claudia laughs out loud at the brazenness of it, nearly chokes on her wine and goes into a coughing fit. But the Sheriff just sighs and waves his hand, because Stiles’ opinion doesn’t matter. “You’ll like him. You’ll get a chance to get to know him more on Friday.”

“Friday?” Stiles shakes his head. “No, that’s the lacrosse game. I can’t miss it, I promised Scott –“

“It’s just one game,” his dad shrugs. Stiles grits his teeth.

Yeah. Just one game that Derek really wants him to be at, that Allison was excited to hang out with him for, that Scott was thrilled at the prospect of having Stiles there for him. Never mind all that. Now Stiles has other responsibilities.

He has to go to dinner with stupid fucking Jordan idiotic Parrish who’s going to talk down to him all night and be condescending and arrogant and annoying.

Stiles sulks and stews in moody silence for the rest of dinner. When it comes time to say goodbye, Jordan tries to touch Stiles on his back and Stiles ducks away from his hand, narrowing his eyes.

Jordan doesn’t mind, and why would he? Eventually, he’s going to be given the right to touch Stiles whenever he wants however he wants, whether Stiles likes it or not.

He heads up the stairs immediately after the dishes are all done – and his parents are already starting to argue. His mother is mad, big time, because Stiles isn’t interested, doesn’t want him, doesn’t want any of this, but his father insists, it has to be this way, Stiles will learn to like him, on and on and on.

He’s so fucking sick of listening to them fight over his life. None of it matters. His dad is the alpha and what he says goes, and Stiles just wishes they would hurry up and get divorced so he could only see one or the other and not both at the same time. It’s driving him insane. His entire life is one big shitshow.

He walks into his bedroom and turns on the light, gently closing the door behind himself. He presses his back against it and stares at his ceiling for a moment, breathing in and out through his nose, listening to them fight downstairs.

This is a nightmare. He wants to wake up so bad.

There’s a tap at his window. Stiles ignores it – probably the wind rattling it. Then, another, so Stiles looks.

He nearly breaks his neck in his haste to fly across the room, trips over his rug, almost brains himself on the edge of his desk, heart falling deep into the pit of his chest.

Derek Hale is on his roof. Somehow, someway, he got through the fence without tripping the alarm and climbed up the side of the house to perch himself outside of Stiles’ bedroom window, and this is not good.

This is not. Good.

Stiles moves and he opens the window as quietly as possible, met with Derek’s frowning face and his cologne and the smell of alpha, alpha, alpha, so strong it almost knocks him over. “Are you fucking insane?”

“Yes,” he admits, lifting his chin in the air. “I couldn’t just sit at home while you got stared at by some grown man who wants to paw at you, fuck that.”

“You need to leave right now,” Stiles is hissing in a whisper, too terrified to speak any louder than that for fear of being heard. “Derek, you’re fucking out of your mind. My father will kill you if he sees you –“

“He sounds busy.” So he can hear them fighting. Stiles is embarrassed and mad at the same time, because now Derek is acutely aware of his shit home life and… it’s just humiliating, for some reason, for his dirty laundry to be out for Derek to see. “Let me in.”

“No.”

“Stiles,” he’s got this pleading edge to his voice, but Stiles stands his ground. Under no circumstances will he bring Derek into this house. It will be his fucking coffin. “Please? I need to see you, be with you, I can’t stand this fucking –“

“My door doesn’t even have a lock on it,” he says. He checks over his shoulder, then looks back again. “How did you get through the fence?”

“I watched you do it.”

Stiles looks at him. He’s muddy and grassy, like he had to crawl and dig his way underneath – Stiles knows that dip in the fence is barely big enough for his own, much, much smaller body.

Derek clawed his way through just to be denied permission to even come inside, to even touch Stiles, hug him against his body. Stiles wants to shoot himself in the foot, looking at him all dirty and upset and angry, but he can’t. Let him. Inside.

“I saw that guy he wants you to be with,” he snaps, angry, so angry, and Stiles just listens to him, because it’s the least he could do. “He’s too old, first off, and second off, he’s clearly a little shithead fucking bitch boy who can’t get his own game so he has to rely on shit like this to –“

“Be quiet,” he presses his finger to his lips. “Please, please don’t yell, don’t –“

“Marry me,” he says, serious as a heart attack. Stiles palms his face. “Come on. Marry me. Pack a bag right now and come with me and I’ll take you away from all of this bullshit and we can be together and –“

“But I can’t do that to –“

“Why do you care so much about him?” He furrows his brow and leans in the window more, so he’s halfway inside the room, and Stiles frantically tries to stop him from coming in any farther. “He treats you like garbage! He wants to lock you up for the rest of your life! I’d never do that to you, and I know you said to wait, but I can’t do it! I won’t just sit by and watch and –“

Stiles, horrifyingly, hears someone coming up the stairs. He pushes at Derek’s shoulders as hard as he can, but he’s the man who can’t be moved. He’s so big and strong and Stiles can’t corral him, even when he says, “please, please, please, you have to go, please go, he’s going to-“

The footsteps come closer and Derek’s got this insane look in his eyes. He can tell, from hearing the particular gait and the weight of the footsteps, that it’s Stiles’ father. And that is the guy who’s trying to rip Stiles out of Derek’s hands and keep them apart and is ruining Stiles’ life – that’s Derek’s omega. And so, that’s an alpha Derek has a fucking problem with. He’s eerily still and focused on the approach, because he’s for real thinking of going after him.

Fighting Stiles’ dad. It’s insane. It’s alpha-brained nonsense that Stiles cannot abide. He pushes harder and begs more.

“Please, he’ll kill you, he’ll kill you if he sees you, please, alpha, please!”

Derek looks Stiles in the eyes. He looks so fucking sad. Stiles hates it more than anything to think that he’s the reason for that look. He wants to make it better, but he can’t.

Derek ducks away from the window off to the side into the darkness where he can’t be seen, and Stiles closes it just in time for his dad to walk inside his bedroom and fix him with a look.

It seems like Stiles is just in his room, by himself, upset about what happened downstairs. He’s got wet eyes and he swipes at them quickly, keeping them averted to the ground.

Derek is on the other side of that wall. He does his best to distance himself from it.

“I know you’re not happy about this,” his father’s voice is low, “but you need to think of the big picture.”

Stiles sniffles. “Oh, yeah. The big picture. Some guy who’s too old for me will get to make me fold his laundry for the rest of my life and we’ll have missionary sex forever. Whoopee.”

“You and I both know it’s better than the alternative.”

Stiles used to feel the exact same way. It wasn’t that he wanted to ever get stuck with one of his dad’s deputies, especially not one this much older or this much of a pain in his ass, but he just didn’t want an alpha. An alpha would be worse. He was told that his entire life. An alpha would beat him, rape him, and make his life a living fucking hell. It’s what he’s always, always been taught. It’s coded into him like DNA.

“There are alphas who wouldn’t –“

“Like who? Derek Hale?”

Stiles works to keep his face impassive. He works to not subconsciously flick his eyes to the window, where right outside, Derek is listening to every word that’s being said. “Like a lot of them. I don’t like him, dad, don’t make me go out with him –“

“You’ll learn to like him,” he says, for the thousandth time, and in this moment – in this exact second, with Derek on his roof and his entire life flashing before his eyes, Stiles means it when he says…

“I fucking hate you.”

His dad grimaces. Being hated is not a problem to him. “You’ll live.”

He leaves, closing the door behind him with a gentle click. Stiles stands still and listens to his footsteps go down the hall, listens for the descent of them on the stairs, waits until he’s all the way at the bottom, far away.

He goes to his window and opens it, climbing out onto the roof to find Derek is sitting there in the dark, with his back against the siding of the house, looking miserable. Absolutely miserable. A shadow against the house, still and silent.

“I shouldn’t have pressured you like that,” he says first thing, voice different from before. Less angry. More subdued. “I just want…”

Stiles sighs. He moves to sit down right next to Derek, their shoulders touching, and he looks out across his yard to the surrounding woods, and Scott’s house beyond the thin layer of trees and the fence buzzing. “You know, if you can sneak in here, I’d imagine other alphas can, too.”

“No, they’re not smart enough,” he sounds sure of this. “I only figured it out because I watched you do it.”

They’re quiet for a moment. Stiles just wants to sit and be in Derek’s company because his scent is calming and he makes Stiles feel like a real person, and not a thing to be pawned off onto somebody else. Like he’s not just a problem to be solved. Derek smells like cologne and cinnamon and alpha, and Stiles wants to go inside and pack a bag and marry him more than anything in this god damn world.

But something keeps stopping him. It must be the omega in him, unable to truly disobey an alpha. Stiles hates that part of him more than anything else.

He scratches at his jeans. “I think my parents are going to get divorced.”

Derek nods, as though that is totally obvious. “Uh, yeah.”

“She fucking hates him. I think she only stays because of me.” Which makes Stiles feel terrible.

“Well,” Derek says. Then he’s not sure what else to say, because really, there’s nothing left to say. It just is what it is. Stiles’ life sucks.

“Then I think if I up and ran away with you it’d be the biggest slap in the face,” he shakes his head again, and again, “but I can’t be with that guy. He thinks he can tell me what to do already. And I just know he thinks I’m – he thinks of me like I’m his responsibility. It’ll be like being married to another version of my dad, and I can’t…” …do it anymore. Stiles has spent his entire life being told what to do and it’s agonizing, insulting, dehumanizing.

“I can kill him.” Derek is not kidding. He will do it, at Stiles’ word.

“There’d just be someone else taking his place,” Stiles says. “I want to…be with you. Like, for real. Where we can kiss and hold hands and stuff in front of people. And I wanna go to college with you. And…be rich and pay someone else to clean.”

Derek smiles at him. “We’re going to do all those things.”

When? Stiles looks to the future and sees void. Everything planned for him. A lifetime of bowing and scraping for some fucking cop who will probably slap him for not folding the towels right.

Stiles has gotta get out of this one. Truly, he knows he only has one option, but it’s the one that he shies away from out of fear. He could never be afraid that Derek would hit him or control him or anything like that, but he is terrified of running away because this is the life he knows even if he hates it.

Derek doesn’t think of it like this. But it is true all the same – to marry him is to become his property.

**

A bag of chocolates is offered to him, and Stiles barely glances at the alpha holding them out to him. He thinks it’s a kid from his French class. Honestly, he has no idea. “You wanna go to the winter dance with me?”

“No,” Stiles doesn’t even think about it. He slams his locker shut and rips the chocolates out of his hands, much to his evident chagrin and surprise. “I’ll take these, though.”

Normally, Stiles would never accept food from an alpha for fear of it being drugged. But these are packaged and entirely unwrapped – he’ll eat these all by himself, thank you very much.

He shoves them into his backpack and keeps walking, nose in the air, frown on his face. This is the third alpha who has asked him to the dance today alone, and no matter how many of them he turns down, they just keep asking. Stiles wonders what it must be like to go through life with that kind of false confidence; he sometimes wishes he were an alpha, because then he could be delightfully clueless and arrogant, too, instead of being a ball of nerves and anxiety hiding underneath sarcasm.

He turns the corner to head to Spanish class, and he sees Hunter Morrison is at his locker, shoving books in and looking angry. The guy always looks angry, Stiles has noticed; Stiles keeps to the other side of the hall, because truth be told, that is one alpha he’d be afraid to say no to. Stiles isn’t being arrogant to think Hunter would ask him out. He’s just reading the situation for what it is.

He can tell, from the way Hunter looks at him, that Hunter wants him. In that way. It’s lascivious, the way he’ll stare. Stiles manages to skirt by him without being seen and breathes a sigh of relief – he had been too wrapped up in avoiding Hunter he hadn’t noticed someone else coming up to him from the other side of the hallway.

An alpha from his Chemistry class. Stiles tries to move around him, but he blocks Stiles’ path with his body, broader and taller, and Stiles sighs through his nose.

“Hi, Stiles,” he says.

“Move.”

He laughs. Stiles is not kidding.

“Look, uh, I was wondering –“

“No.”

“But I –“

“No.” He breezes past him, leaving the alpha staring at his back with his mouth agape most likely, and faintly hears the muttering of fucking bitch as he goes, but he really doesn’t care. Genuinely. He has a lot more things to worry about, other than an alpha’s fragile fucking ego and this idiotic god damn dance everyone is so riled up about.

One of those things is standing at his own locker right now, frowning, watching someone else ask Stiles out. Derek has his backpack on one shoulder, his French book under his arm, and he slams his locker closed. He looks irritated and his shoulders are stiff, his posture rigid.

Stiles wants to stop and talk to him or at least smile at him, do something to make him feel better – but he can’t. Stiles briefly glances at him as he walks past, and Derek blinks with a frown, eyes angry.

This is really not fair to him. Derek has to just sit there and take it as other alphas flock to Stiles like he’s a lightbulb and they’re all moths, has to just sit there as someone else takes Stiles out to dinner, while Stiles misses his lacrosse game. It is beyond unfair.

Stiles can’t imagine the amount of mental effort that Derek puts into not going apeshit every single fucking day. It seems important to Stiles to let him know that it’s not going unnoticed by him, considering even for his shortcomings (like climbing underneath Stiles’ fence and nearly getting killed in the process and punching his hand through the vending machine which Talia had to pay to replace) he has been as good as a saint.

In between fourth and fifth periods, Stiles ambushes Derek and corrals him into the supply closet before anyone can see them.

He’s surprised. He looks Stiles up and down as though making sure nothing is wrong, that he’s not hurt or upset. He’s about to open his mouth to probably ask what’s the matter, but Stiles attacks his mouth before he gets the chance.

Stiles pushes him against the door and bites his lower lip, fists his hands into the lapels of Derek’s school jacket, and Derek does not complain. He returns the kiss fervently, desperately almost, and tugs Stiles up against his body as close as he can get it. Like they’re going to melt into one another. They should.

Derek takes Stiles by his face and pushes him away, just an inch or so, so they can look one another in the eye. “What are you doing?” He asks, smiling and cocking his head to the side.

“Just –“ he waves his hand. “Saying hello.”

“Hello?”

“Yeah. I know you’ve seen me get asked out, like, six times today, and I know that’s not very fun for you.”

Derek nods his head. “I do like to fantasize about dismembering other people who think they can talk to you, yes.”

“Well, I’m just reminding you,” he kisses Derek on the lips once, then pulls away, “that I’m just yours, you know?”

“And Jordan what’s his face’s.”

“No,” Stiles insists very seriously. “Just you.”

Derek regards him. He takes in the intensity of Stiles’ eyes and the serious curve of his mouth. He smiles. “You know I’m jealous as fuck.”

“I’ve noticed that, yes. Which is why we’re in the closet right now.”

Derek kisses him again, harder, more fervent, like they’re trying to eat each other’s faces off – and then he grabs Stiles by his hips and moves him across the closet, to the other side, against the shelves of sponges and pencils and dry erase markers. Things clatter to the floor around their feet but neither of them pay any attention, and there are other kids walking past the door again and again, but they ignore that, too.

He shoves his hands down, grabbing at Stiles’ belt, and he says, “can I get you off?”

“What?” Stiles laughs, but he doesn’t stop Derek from opening his pants, doesn’t stop him from reaching his hand in and grabbing Stiles’ dick. “I have to – class starts soon and I –“

“I bet I can make you come in less than a minute,” he says, like it’s a challenge, and he starts rubbing. Up and down, up and down, thumb working the slit.

Stiles goes cross eyed and bites his lip, all protests flying out the window, overtaken by pleasure. “Holy shit…” Derek’s hand is bigger than Stiles’ entire package by a decent margin, so it’s easy for him to take it all in his palm, to massage it, cradle it, to make Stiles muffle a moan into his own hand.

“I can’t wait until I get to memorize your entire body,” Derek says to him, voice low, dirt low, filthy low, “so I know exactly how you like it.”

Stiles is going to come. It’s barely been twenty-five seconds and he can feel it. He always knew half the point of his dick was to be a pleasure center and he always knew he could come really fast and many, many times in a row – but this is just absurd. He has half a mind to be embarrassed about it, but the thing is, Derek likes it. He very clearly likes it a whole lot.

“Say please,” Derek tells him, voice disgusting and aroused and Stiles shakes. Shivers. Grabs onto Derek’s shoulder and looks him right in the eyes.

“Please,” Stiles says, and then comes immediately after with a high keen that he tries to stifle to the best of his ability.

It is a lucky thing that he never comes too much when he does, because otherwise it would be an entire mess all over his uniform. As it is, there’s just some stickiness on Derek’s palm, a bit in his underwear, but nowhere else.

“I want to play with you until you beg me to stop,” he hisses, pushing his own erection against Stiles’, and Stiles can’t stop him. Doesn’t want to. This is insane. Anyone could walk in and catch them and it’d be a problem, a big one, the hugest one, but he doesn’t… care.

Then, in a move that truly makes Stiles’ brain short circuit, Derek brings his hand to his mouth and licks Stiles’ come right off it. Stiles watches and almost goes again right in his pants. “Oh, my god,” he whispers. Truly shocked and turned on and – just …

The bell rings. Stiles hastily tucks himself back into his pants and buckles his belt, while Derek steps away and smiles. He adjusts himself in his own pants so his hard-on is less noticeable. He’s going to have to walk to class with his book in front of his lap, for Christ’s sake.

“Um,” he says, and doesn’t know what else to say. His head is cloudy from his orgasm.

“When can I see you?” Derek asks.

“I – I don’t know,” which is the truth. He has to go to dinner with Jordan tonight. “He’s picking me up at six o’clock.” And Derek will be at the stupid lacrosse game.

Derek glowers, eyebrows drawing in. “I want to fucking castrate that –“

“Let’s go to class,” Stiles cuts him off. It’s always best to just stop Derek before he winds up going off the alpha deep end. “I’ll text you. I – I – I miss you.” And it’s true. Stiles misses Derek every second of every day, even when they’re together, because it’s never enough time.

“You have no fucking idea,” Derek tells him, and then he opens the door, and they leave. Derek goes one direction and Stiles scurries off in the other, looking over his shoulder once just to watch Derek walking away.

He wants to stay in that closet for the rest of the day, letting Derek get him off again and again. He wants to kiss Derek until they lock the doors and he wants to get in Derek’s car and drive away from this town to another state so that he doesn’t have to go see Jordan tonight, but it’s not an option. It’s not fair. It gets less and less fair every single day.

He’s only two minutes late to English, and he knows he looks frazzled and a bit disheveled, but he hopes that everyone thinks it’s because he had to rush to get here, nothing else.

Hunter sits up straight when they lock eyes. Stiles immediately averts them to the ground, watching his feet as he settles into his seat and gets his notebook and pen out of his bag.

Scott looks at him. He may be the only person in this room who has any idea what he was just doing, and really, he’s only guessing. But Stiles’ shirt is never rumpled and his collar is never askew, so he makes a judgment.

He gives Stiles a thumbs up and Stiles is embarrassed, so he ducks his head and tries to just pay attention.

They’re doing small group discussions today. Naturally, Stiles winds up thrust into a group with Scott, Lydia Martin, and fucking Hunter Morrison.

They gather four desks up into a jumble. Hunter winds up sitting right next to Stiles, and Stiles does his level best to just ignore him. He keeps his face impassive and his eyes on Scott, while Lydia fluffs her hair and starts leading their discussion.

Stiles checks out. He looks out the window and he imagines Derek sitting in French class looking out another window, but both of them might be looking at the same lacrosse field, the same trees, and Stiles daydreams.

“…Stiles?” Lydia interrupts his thoughts. “Any opinion on that?”

“Oh, uh,” he clears his throat and looks around the circle to find everyone else engaged, books open, blinking at him. “Uh –“

For the first time in Stiles’ earshot, Hunter actually speaks. “Don’t worry about it,” he says. “It’s probably not very important you actually read these books anyway.”

Scott stiffens and Stiles turns to look at Hunter. Full on. They meet eyes, and this time, Stiles does not look away. “Uh, why? Because I’m an omega and therefore just a complete idiot?”

“Oh, Christ,” Lydia sighs and frowns. She’s not in the mood for this. It’s happening, anyway.

Hunter grins at him. “I just meant what’s it really matter? If you do well or if you don’t.”

“Maybe let’s just get back on topic,” Scott suggests nervously.

“Because I’m only here for the entertainment of alphas, is that it?”

Hunter shrugs. Languid. Bored. Maybe he’s enjoying this. “Calm down.”

“You are a complete asshole,” Stiles bursts out – his blood pressure is steadily rising and he knows he’s kind of projecting onto Hunter. Really, he has no proof this kid wrote that letter and he hasn’t directly done or said anything that awful to Stiles – but he’s got a lot of frustration about his situation brewing inside of him pretty much 24/7 lately, and he can’t yell at the person who really deserves his ire, so he settles on the next best thing. “What’s the matter? Mad because you know I’ll never sleep with you?”

Hunter leans in to him. Close. Stiles backs up on instinct, blinking with a confused frown. “Oh, I wouldn’t bet on that.”

“What the fuck –“

“Man, leave him alone,” Scott barks, and Lydia is just watching with a concerned twist to her mouth. “You’re taunting him.”

“He’s taunting me,” Hunter insists, eyes going wide with innocence. “I barely said anything.”

Stiles grits his teeth. He goes for broke. “I know it was you,” he accuses. “I know you wrote that bullshit letter. I know what you think about me.”

“What letter?”

“You are a sexist, entitled, fuckface of a person. It’s never going to happen.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he shakes his head, but he’s grinning. He knows. He knows that Stiles knows, too.

“Whatever,” Stiles snaps, opening up his own book to the correct page and glaring down at it. “Just fuck off.”

“Are we done?” Lydia asks, irritated.

Stiles and Scott share a brief look, while Hunter busies himself with leaning back in his seat and looking remarkably haughty for the situation. Stiles is sure that whatever sick obsession the guy has with him has only been made worse by this encounter, but he does not care.

He is growing exhausted of having to constantly step around alphas and betas to make them happy. Just fuck it. The guy is a creep, but it doesn’t matter, because he will never be able to act on any of his impulses.

When the bell rings, Stiles leaps up and collects his things like his very life depends on it. He shoves his books into his bag and is out of there, away from Hunter and his god damn eyes, before Scott even stands up to join him. Just fuck every single second of that shit.

Stiles has half a mind to tell Derek about it. He imagines that if he went up right this very second to Derek at his locker and told him everything, the way Hunter looks at him and the kinds of things he says and how Stiles is certain he’s the mastermind behind that letter, Derek would go bananas. Totally monkeys. He’d hunt the guy down and cause a scene and get in a fight. It would be cathartic for Stiles to stand back and watch his alpha beat the shit out of him. He’d enjoy every moment of it, because he’s psycho.

But, Stiles can’t do that. Derek is better not knowing because he’s got a temper and he’s got a lot of other people he’d like to beat on as it is. Derek has been holding a lot of rage in, and it’s probably best for Stiles to not poke the bear.

It is fun to fantasize about Derek knocking his teeth out, though, so in History, he alternates between imagining Derek killing Hunter and imagining Derek killing Jordan. It makes him smile.

**

Stiles seriously wants to wear his shittiest pair of jeans and his most faded t-shirt to this date – he considers it for a moment as he peruses his closet, but he knows if he were to walk downstairs wearing it, his father would march him right back up and demand he change.

He settles on a nicer shirt and a cleaner pair of jeans and calls it good. Jordan is taking him someplace nice and expensive, because of course he is, so he has to at least look good enough to get through the hostess stand.

Derek, 5:20 PM : Hey. Everything okay?
Me, 5:22 PM : Ummm yes. Nothing bad will happen tonight. The guy may be a pig but he’s got this false sense of chivalry. He won’t grope me I don’t think. He’s more the type of sexist who will wear me down mentally.
Derek, 5:25 PM : Oh, great. And I was worried I’d have to kill him with my bare hands.
Me, 5:26 PM : Good luck at the game. I’m really sorry I have to miss it. I kinda really wanted to go and see you play. Next time, I promise.
Derek, 5:28 PM : you can’t really make me promises.

Derek is right. He’s being childish and pouty and jealous, but he is right. Stiles can promise Derek precisely nothing, not a single thing, because he doesn’t know if he’ll make it even to next week before getting married. Who knows what his dad is thinking? How all this is going to end?

He doesn’t know how to answer that one so he just doesn’t. He sits on the edge of his bed and waits for his dad to call that Jordan’s here to pick him up, staring out his window.

Bored, he opens up the Instagram app. He’s not allowed to have any social media accounts, but he does have the Instagram app mostly just to stalk other people and be jealous of their lives. He lurks on Scott’s and Allison’s and finds other omegas out there in the world who are actually allowed to do things like go out and have fun – he hate stalks one in Florida pretty much religiously, envy boiling in his stomach all green like bile. All their pictures are at the beach or at the bars with their insanely hot alpha. Stiles sighs. He may never be allowed to do stuff like that.

He gets a thought. Derek mentioned Instagram once. His mother’s Instagram. That means he probably has one, too.

He has no idea what Derek’s username would be but he takes a wild guess that he’s not that creative to come up with something too out there. He types in Derek’s name and it comes up immediately. Derekhale18. 18 is Derek’s jersey number.

This feels like snooping, even though it isn’t. It’s his public account. Everyone else gets to look, so why can’t Stiles? Still, the shame monster comes and sits on his shoulder the second he clicks on the account and it comes up, all of Derek’s little squares.

He lurks. It’s mostly what he would’ve expected. Pictures of him at parties with his lacrosse friends, drinking white claws. Pictures of him with Boyd and Isaac and Erica, where he smiles with all his teeth and looks…just really hot. Stiles salivates over him from picture to picture, biting his index finger with want.

He goes deep. He winds up in last year, before they knew each other existed. It’s more of the same, some pictures of him with his sisters, the older one at college whom Stiles has never met. Some lacrosse pictures. Drinking. Parties.

Then, horrifyingly, he stumbles on one of Derek kissing another person and he nearly drops his phone on the ground. He catches it at the last second, bringing it up to his face and glaring.

She is pretty. Stiles vaguely recognizes her from one of his classes. She’s an alpha. She is tall. She’s got long legs. Stiles is overcome with a kind of rage he didn’t know he was capable of. He thinks who the fuck is this cunt, and then immediately shakes his head at himself.

Derek has never been secretive about the fact that he’s been with other people. He has said many times he’s kissed other people, and fucked other people. Stiles just isn’t used to having it so plainly in his face. He’s jealous. Real, real jealous. Everyone who has seen this picture got to think oh yeah, that’s Derek’s girlfriend. Because it wasn’t a secret.

There’s no pictures of Stiles on Derek’s Instagram. That’s not fair. It’s his own fault. He lurked and got his fucking feelings hurt. He’s bizarrely angry at Derek for this, like the psycho he is, and has a fleeting thought of being cold and impassive to him because he kissed someone else AN ENTIRE YEAR AGO.

Then, his doorbell rings. Stiles sighs and closes the app, tucking his phone away into his pocket.

**

Jordan drives a nice car. He opens the door for Stiles and Stiles grunts a thank you. It smells like cologne and aftershave. He asks Stiles about school and Stiles gives him perfunctory answers. He asks Stiles about his hobbies and Stiles honestly tells him he has none, isn’t even allowed to do anything. He asks Stiles what hobbies he wishes he had, and Stiles rolls his eyes. Uh, gee, the ability to leave my house without needing permission first would be nice.

Jordan parks outside of the restaurant. He says, “I get the impression you don’t like me very much.”

“Really? What gave you that idea? When I said it point blank in front of you?”

He smiles. “That. And how you act.”

Stiles frowns.

“It’s okay if you don’t like me yet,” he shrugs. “But your father really thinks you and I would get along. I really do intend to make you like me.”

“My dad doesn’t really know me that well.”

“He’s your father.”

“He’s my prison ward.”

Jordan sighs, long and loud. He thinks Stiles is frustrating. He has no idea how bad Stiles can be. “Well. Whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me. It wouldn’t kill you to smile every now and then.”

Stiles vividly imagines reaching across the car and hitting him. Just one really good fucking solid punch. But he can only imagine how that would end. Not well. Not well at all.

“Come on,” Jordan says, opening up his own door, and Stiles reluctantly follows suit.

Inside, it’s nice. It’s got romantic lighting and nice music playing and it’s not so crowded that it’s hard to hear each other talk. They go to a booth by the windows and Stiles settles in on his side, expecting Jordan to sit on the other.

He does not. Horrifyingly, he gets in right next to Stiles, boxing him in, trapping him against the wall. He has no idea if Jordan means that to be menacing or not, but all the same, it sort of is. Stiles is uncomfortable being this close to a man so much older than him, but he keeps his mouth shut and glares at the table.

Their bodies are touching. Stiles surreptitiously tries to scoot away from him, but he’s pressed up against the wall as it is.

“Have you ever been here before?”

Stiles swallows a lump in his throat. “I haven’t really been anywhere. I’m not allowed to go out.”

“Right,” Jordan says. He doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with that. Which is a red flag. “You want a soda?”

Stiles rolls the dice. “Maybe wine?”

Jordan laughs, his body shaking with it. “No, I don’t think so.”

Stiles stares at the menu. This is even worse than he could have ever fucking imagined. He really is just exactly like Stiles’ father, a little clone. That’s why the Sheriff likes him. Not because they’d get along.

But because it’s someone to keep Stiles in line.

When the waitress comes, Jordan doesn’t even ask. He orders Stiles a coke. Stiles’ hand itches to pull his phone out and text Derek, just to talk to him, anything, but Derek is busy at the game and Jordan wouldn’t like that, so he keeps his hands on the table in front of him, and stays quiet.

“You’re very pretty,” Jordan says, apropos of nothing.

The appropriate response is thank you. Stiles grimaces and says it, like it’s being pulled out of him by a string.

“Have you ever been with someone else?”

Stiles rears his neck back and frowns. “What? No, I’m not allowed.”

“Just asking. Someone so pretty, you’d think they’d have had lots of attention.”

“Oh, I get attention,” he scoffs. “More than I’d like. People treat me like I’m not even human. Like, I’m just…”

“That’s terrible.”

“Yeah.”

“So, you’re a virgin?”

Again, Stiles is offended. “Uh, what?”

“I’m just asking,” he puts his hands up all innocent, and Stiles despises him. It’s rude. Beyond rude, it’s a gross fucking question to ask. “Your father thinks you are.”

“Why are you two grown men sitting around talking about whether or not I’ve had sex?”

“I’m just asking,” he repeats.

Stiles glares. “Of course I am,” he lies. He finds it’s much easier to lie to Jordan than it is to anyone else – perhaps because Stiles hates him so much, he could give a fuck less what he does or doesn’t believe.

Their drinks come and Stiles realizes he hasn’t even barely looked at the menu to see what he’d like to eat – turns out, it does not matter. Jordan orders for him, and after the waitress leaves, he turns to Stiles and smiles at him. “You’ll like that.”

He stares at the table. It’s better than looking at him. “Okay.”

“You really are very pretty,” he moves closer. Puts his arm around the back of the booth around Stiles’ shoulders, so his chest is touching Stiles’ side. Stiles hates it. He doesn’t want to be touched. But if he were to say anything it’d be an entire thing, a scene, and Stiles is supposed to be playing the part of the good omega who sits there and shuts up, so he grits his teeth. “You’ve got nice skin.”

This bothers him. Derek has said that to him, and he bristles, because only Derek is allowed to say that sort of shit to him, or even know that Stiles has nice skin.

“Wanna cut it off and make a doll out of it?”

Jordan laughs. He thinks Stiles is being funny. “Pretty, but a bit mouthy.”

Stiles hates him.

Jordan has the balls to reach out with his hand, the intention being to touch Stiles’ face. Stiles flinches away and blinks hard, mouth curving down.

“Sorry,” he laughs. “I guess you’re not used to being touched.”

“Not really.”

But he goes again. Like he can’t help himself. He’s got Stiles backed up against the wall so there’s nowhere for him to go this time, and his fingers brush against Stiles’ cheek – Stiles flinches again and shakes his head.

“Can you not?”

“Sorry,” he repeats. He isn’t. “You’re just –“

“I know.” He grabs at his soda and sucks it up, angry, and also embarrassed for some reason.

Jordan takes the hint and finally drops his hand onto the table. He leans back a bit, too, blessedly, because Stiles was starting to choke on the scent of his cologne. “So, what do you like to do?”

“I’ve told you only a zillion times.”

“I mean, for fun.”

“Video games, I guess. Movies. Shows. Music.”

Jordan nods his head, but he seems to have no response to that. He just sits and stares at Stiles for a moment, like he’s drinking in the entire picture of him, and it makes Stiles uncomfortable. “After we get married, I don’t think you should play video games anymore.”

Stiles wants to say newsflash asshole! I will never ever ever ever fucking marry you! Instead, he grins his teeth. “You know, I’m a teenage boy.”

“It’s just, there’s certain expectations.”

“Right. Cleaning up after you, making you dinner.”

“You say that like it’s so bad,” he furrows his brow. “What else would you do?”

Stiles sits up straight and squares his shoulders, daring to look him dead in the eyes. “I’d like to work.”

“Work.” Jordan repeats this like it’s a foreign concept.

“Yes.”

“Uh,” he laughs. This has taken him off guard. “You mean…a job? Like what?”

“I don’t care,” he says, honest. “And I wanna go to college.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m smart,” he insists. “I’d like to – to – get a degree and –“

“And do what?”

Stiles frowns. “And do something.”

“But what?”

That’s a fair question. There aren’t very many places that hire omegas to begin with – his options are pretty much strip club or cashier. Even then, those are hard gigs to come by for an omega. “Just something.”

“Stiles,” Jordan smiles at him and shakes his head. “You’re being ridiculous.”

“It’s not ridiculous,” he insists, but he feels chastised. He feels very small. “I’m smart.”

“Of course you are. But I really would prefer if you didn’t say things like that.”

Stiles feels hot. His eyes are itchy. “Like what?”

“Like you want to work. It’s silly,” he shakes his head like it’s just absurd, totally bananas for Stiles to even say it. “As soon as we’re married you’ll already have a job.”

“Right,” his throat feels tight. “As your servant.”

“Why do you think of it like that? I’ll take care of you, you’ll take care of me. It’s nice.”

It isn’t. Stiles has no rebuttals. This guy is so much worse than Stiles ever had nightmares about growing up, when his father would bring up who he’d marry. He’s completely brainwashed. He can’t even entertain the idea of Stiles doing anything but being his slave. He feels sick.

When the food comes, Stiles doesn’t even pick up his fork, at first. He just stares and sits in silence, not moving, just fuming. Jordan notices. “Eat.”

Obediently, Stiles picks up his fork and takes small, mechanical bites.

“You like it, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” he says.

“Yes,” Jordan corrects him. Stiles wants to jab him in the arm with a steak knife. Instead, he repeats it back to him tonelessly.

When they get back to Stiles’ house, right at 8 o’clock on the dot as instructed by Stiles’ father, Jordan tries to kiss him. Stiles backs away into the door and shakes his head, resolute, and he says, “absolutely not.”

Jordan smiles at him. He’s always, always fucking smiling at him. It’s like nothing Stiles says will ever genuinely rile him up. Maybe because he thinks Stiles is just…stupid. He says, “all right.”

Only because he knows the time will come where Stiles will be completely powerless to refuse.

Inside, his parents are sitting in the living room watching television. His mother puts her book down in her lap the second she sees him, eyes concerned – his father is obliviously drinking a beer, completely engrossed in whatever the hell he’s watching.

Stiles folds his arms over his chest.

“How was it?” His mom asks him. She looks as though she knows the answer will be bad.

Stiles hesitates. If he tells the truth, that it was a hellacious nightmare and Jordan repeatedly tried to touch him no matter how many times Stiles made it clear he wasn’t comfortable with that and Jordan was condescending and treated him like a child, then his mom will get angry. His parents will get in another huge fight. And Stiles is so exhausted of having to hear it. It’s always the same, anyway. What’s the use?

“Fine.”

“Was he nice to you?” She presses.

Stiles shrugs. He wasn’t nice – or he was, in his own way. But just not really, not actually. He just seemed nice. On the surface. Stiles got the distinct impression from him that in the future, when they’re married, if Stiles acted the way he did tonight, Jordan would hit him. But that’s neither here nor there.

“I’m going upstairs,” he says, and Claudia frowns and looks to his dad – who seems completely uninterested. In his mind, there’s nothing to worry about. Things are going exactly as he wants them to.

In his room, he paces.

There is no way in hell he’s marrying that guy. But he’s already caught himself several times saying when, when, when, like Jordan had, as though it’s a done deal. Like there’s no way out of it. That’s not good. Stiles can feel himself growing more and more resigned. More and more trapped. It’s driving him mad. He feels like he’s caged up.

He’s going insane. Absolutely fucking insane. Because one second he’s in the supply closet with Derek and he’s so happy and Derek is so great. Then the next second he’s locked into a restaurant booth with Jordan who never lets him speak out of turn and kept putting his hands where they don’t belong.

He is not marrying that guy.

There’s this all consuming dread that he’ll have to, that he has no choice, that it’s basically already happened. It makes him want to act out, want to do something stupid, irresponsible, so he pulls his phone to of his pocket and starts jabbing his fingers around on the screen.

Me, 8:14 PM : Come pick me up. I want to go to that party.
Scott, 8:14 PM : whaaaatttt?!?!?! You’re sneaking out ?!?!?! AAAAAHHHH
Me, 8:16 PM : Yes, just fuck it. Just text me when you’re outside.

Chapter Text

Scott watches with his jaw dropped, as Stiles climbs down the side of his house and then shimmies underneath his fence, making a break for it to the back door of Allison’s shiny silver car. He likely cannot believe it, not for one single solitary second, because last time he checked, Stiles was too afraid to even try staying up too late. Now, here he is, breaking out of his house, like he’s a seasoned professional at sneaking around already.

Once he’s inside, both of them turn around to stare at him. “You’re a mad man!” Scott accuses him, but he’s laughing. He’s laughing his ass off. Allison is likewise amused, grinning from ear to ear, dimples out on full display.

“I love it,” she tells him. “You deserve to have fun. I can’t believe this,” she’s staring at the electrified fence and shaking her head. “They really put that up to keep you locked in?”

Stiles goes to correct her, that it’s actually to keep alphas out. Then he stops himself. Maybe it’s both. He never realized that before.

She drives on. Stiles is going insane in the back seat, high energy, shaking and rubbing at his face again and again. He had forgotten his glasses, but it should be fine. He doubts he’ll need to read anything at this stupid party anyway. Then again, how the hell would he know? All he knows about high school parties is what he’s seen on television, in movies, and he bets it’s not that realistic. Then he gets nervous. Like he has no clue what he’s fucking doing. He tries his best to squelch it down, convinces himself it’ll be fine as soon as he gets some alcohol in his body.

“The game was great,” Scott informs him. “We won. Derek is seriously so good. I’m okay, but he’s – you know.”

“I don’t, actually.” It’s hard to keep the bitterness out of his tone. He wanted to see Derek play, because that’s his boyfriend, his actual boyfriend, but he’s not allowed to say that.

“I can’t believe he still hasn’t asked you to the dance,” Allison sounds genuinely put out about this as she slows to a stop sign. “I would’ve thought…it just really seems like he likes you.”

Stiles laughs out loud. He can’t help himself. “Oh, I don’t know.”

“I think he does,” she insists. Scott busies himself with rolling down his window and sticking his head out into the wind, maybe just to get as far from this conversation as he can. “Maybe he’s just not sure you’d say yes. Considering you’ve turned about fifty of them away already.”

“I’d say yes.”

“You’d think he’d know that by now.”

Stiles laughs again. He feels bizarrely care free. In this moment, he thinks he could seriously get away with anything. The desire to tell Allison to keep driving until they’re on the highway and getting the hell out of this town is overwhelming, but he figures sneaking out to a party is as good as anything else.

When they arrive, he’s nervous again. As he walks out onto the front yard on his way to the door, he takes note of the fact that there are so, so, so many alphas here. More than he’s ever been alone with without adult supervision. The place is crawling with them, and Lydia’s house is HUGE. Sprawling, with a pool and a patio and four floors, every single inch of the yard and downstairs is littered with kids from school. Stiles walks in and feels out of place, as everyone turns to stare at him, some of them glaring, some of them simply openly surprised to see him.

After all, these kids know Stiles isn’t allowed to leave his house. Now, here he is, at a party, no supervisor in sight. It’s blowing their minds.

He ignores them all and follows Scott and Allison to the kitchen. There’s liquor everywhere, alphas everywhere, and Stiles clings to Scott like a life line, holding his wrist and trying his level best to seem like he belongs here, doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. After all, there is a genuine reason that the Sheriff has banned Stiles from any and all parties. This doesn’t seem like a particularly safe situation for him to be in. That’s what his dad would say. Matter of fact, that’s also what Jordan Parrish would say.

But fuck him. Fuck both of them.

He sees a cooler full of white claws, which is a kind of alcohol he’s been dying to try for years. He immediately grabs a can that says watermelon and pops it open, shoving it into his face – the first sip is terrible. He’s never tasted alcohol before. It burns on the way down and he screws his face up in disgust, but immediately goes in for a second one, then a third, a fourth. It buzzes him instantaneously and he feels ... light.

“Whoa, slow down,” Scott pats him on the back. “I don’t think you’ll be able to sneak back in your house if you’re too drunk to climb the lattice.”

That, for whatever reason, seems completely irrelevant to him at the moment. Getting home is a non-issue. Figuring out how to get away with this is also a non-issue. He’s here to have fun, not stand around worrying about how he’s going to get out of here. He drinks some more and looks around, sees what everyone else is up to. Really, nothing that heinous is going on. There’s some making out that Stiles blinks at, and some girls sitting at the kitchen table smoking those JUUL things Stiles has heard of, and he thinks there’s a pile of puke that someone left on the ground after missing the trash can, but it’s really not that bad. It’s fun.

“Hey, how’d that psycho arranged marriage date with your dad’s deputy go?” Scott asks him, leaning up against the island.

Stiles laughs. “It was a fucking nightmare. The guy is a sexist. He thinks I should, like, rub his feet and cook his dinner and then bend over to get fucked everyday.”

Allison is surprised to hear Stiles talk like this, but Scott’s eyes go wide for another reason. “He’s that bad? Why the hell would your dad want you to –“

“Because he’s terrible,” he has to shout to be heard over the music blasting over their heads, people woo-hooing in the living room and dancing. “All he cares about is that I don’t wind up with an alpha. Never mind what I want, or think, or feel, or anything.”

Allison frowns at him. She says, “what the hell?”

“Yeah,” he agrees. What the hell? “The guy is almost ten years older than me. He treated me like I was a little kid all night long,” he takes a giant sip of his drink, nearly polishes it off in one go, “and he tried to kiss me. After I told him not to touch me, he tried to kiss me.”

Scott is incensed. Like, ready to fucking rage. “I’ll kill that guy,” he says, slamming his beer can down in the island for emphasis.

“I hope so. Otherwise, I’ll have to marry him.”

“Whoa, what?” Allison looks to Scott, and Scott nods at her like yeah, yup, that’s what’s going on here. “Why don’t you just tell your dad you don’t like him?”

Stiles laughs. “Oh, I have. Doesn’t matter.”

He finishes his white claw. It started tasting better and better the more he drank it, so he grabs another and pops it open with a fizzle. Caution has completely been thrown out the window and into the wind, gone, in the rear view mirror.

“You should run away,” Scott says. He means it. Allison nods sagely in agreement. “Just take off.”

“Yeah.” He drinks. Yeah. He really should.

Speak of the devil. He looks into the living room at the exact moment Derek Hale is walking inside from the patio, laughing with his friend Isaac, with a beer in his hand. He doesn’t notice Stiles at first, too busy yucking it up with his friends – but he stops at one point and furrows his brow. Like he can smell Stiles in the air and is confused. After all, Stiles should absolutely not be here.

He looks across the way and he sees that Stiles is here, regardless. He moves forward, a quick jolt of his body that seems to be completely automatic – his legs moving to Stiles before he can stop himself. But he freezes in the middle of the room, looking around at all the people who are watching him, and he frowns.

Meets Stiles’ eyes.

Stiles has had just enough to drink on a near empty stomach with zero alcohol tolerance to be foolish. He says, “it’s Derek!”

Derek hears him. He smiles, this relieved sort of smile, because Stiles isn’t going to force him to pretend like they do not know one another for once, and he starts coming over, while Allison and Scott sort of tense up. Scott for one reason, and Allison for another.

Once he’s close enough, Stiles says, “hi,” to him, and Derek says hi back.

“Hey, brown eyes,” he rubs the back of his neck, glancing briefly at Stiles’ friends. He smiles again, but his face seems to be fighting with a genuinely confused expression – like he’s happy to see Stiles, but isn’t sure if this is such a good idea. It’s not, woo-doggie, it is not at all, but fuck it. That’s the theme of the night. Just fuck everything. “What the – what the fuck are you doing here?”

“I wanna drink,” he announces, holding his can of claw up as evidence of that. “And be stupid.”

“Well, good for you,” he puts his free hand in his pocket.

They stand there staring at one another for a second. There are a lot of things both of them want to say to each other, but everyone is watching them. There are also a lot of things they’d like to do to each other, but they stare. Staring is half of what they do to one another. Stiles cannot wait until he’s in such a position that he can grab Derek by his collar and kiss him on the mouth and all over his stupid arrogant fucking face.

Allison clears her throat, pointedly. “The game was really good, Derek.”

“Thanks,” he tells her, and then he looks back at Stiles. “I wish you were there, Stilinski. I probably would’ve played even better, if I knew you were watching.”

Stiles blushes. Derek is so nice to him for no reason. It is not Jordan Parrish’s kind of nice, like he’s nice just to get something out of him or he’s nice to lure him into a false sense of security. Derek’s nice is incredibly organic. He’s nice to Stiles because he believes that Stiles deserves nice things and nice touches and nice words.

“Is that your first alcoholic beverage ever?” He gestures to the white claw in Stiles’ hand and grins, like he thinks it’s hilarious, to see Stiles standing there drinking.

“It’s my second,” he corrects, big smile. “I’m drunk.”

“Oh, boy,” Derek laughs out loud. “Where does your father think you are?”

“Upstairs in my bedroom, considering my future as a husband.”

Derek does not laugh at that. And Stiles remembers, oh yeah, Derek is big time jealous, and maybe he shouldn’t be making jokes like that. He has been drinking, after all, and he’s been warned time and time again by his father that the worst thing in the world is a drunk alpha, because they’re angry and unpredictable and dangerous.

When Derek says, “may I speak to you alone?”, Stiles should seriously say no. His dad would tell him to say no. But Stiles says -

“Okay,” and readily and enthusiastically agrees. Allison smiles with all her teeth because she thinks Derek is going to finally ask Stiles out, and Scott just stands there with his mouth closed, as Stiles follows Derek down the large hallway toward a door on the left.

It’s a bathroom. Derek closes it and locks the door behind him, rounding on Stiles with a bit of a concerned expression on his face. “What are you really doing here?”

“I told you,” he waggles his can in the air so the liquid inside sloshes about. “I’m partying.”

“What happened with that fuckface?”

“Oh,” he waves his hand, like it doesn’t matter, is water under the bridge. “Guy is a pig.”

Derek puts his beer down on the sink. “Obviously he is, but in what way? Did he do something to you?”

Stiles snorts. He does not realize he’s poking the bear, but he is, and he keeps right on poking when he says, “he tried to.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

He sips his drink. “He’s a fucking pig. I told him not to touch me and he tried to kiss me.”

Derek stares at him. He’s very still, in this moment. Stiles keeps drinking and he frowns and he rubs his eyes because he really is feeling sort of drunk already, but Derek just stands there. Stiles can’t read him very well right now.

“And he kept saying, when we’re married. As if.”

“Did you tell your dad?”

“Tell him…?”

“That this guy tried to kiss you after you told him not to.”

Stiles shrugs. “It wouldn’t have made a difference if I had.”

Derek sucks in a great big breath through his nose and closes his eyes. Then, he releases it very slowly. Stiles realizes that he’s trying to calm himself down, that he’s stiff, that he seems taller and bigger somehow, from rage alone.

“I am going to lose my fucking mind,” he says, very matter of fact, and Stiles narrows his eyes. “You seriously expect me to just stand around and wait while your father marries you off to this fucking guy? I’m not going to do that, Stiles. I’m not going to –“

“Well, you’ve kissed other people too.”

This comes out of literal nowhere. An airplane falling out of the sky would make more sense than what Stiles just said. Derek stops short and is effectively sidetracked, furrowing his brow and shaking his head, like he’s fucking baffled, because he is.

“What?”

“I looked at your Instagram,” he says this like an accusation, but Derek is still confused, eyes big in his head. “There’s pictures on there of you with a girl.”

Derek puts his hands on his hips. He appraises Stiles, top to bottom, as though he’s trying to figure out what the hell is going on with him. “Last year.”

“Well, you could’ve warned me.”

“I did. I told you in no uncertain terms that I – oh, what the fuck. I’m not arguing with you about this, are you kidding? This is seriously you after half a white claw?”

“Uh, almost two,” he corrects, even though it’s idiotic. “And I’ve never exactly had a drink before. Don’t change the subject. I’m mad at you.”

“Why?” He demands, completely ball busted and baffled.

“Because you – because - it’s not fair!”

Derek rubs at his face.

“Because you get to kiss people and have an Instagram and post about it! And I – I have to... I have to marry a guy who’s going to take my phone away and make me iron his fucking shirts! It isn’t fair!”

Derek is smart. He has the presence of mind to perhaps realize that Stiles is projecting. Nothing that’s going on here is about him. Even though Stiles is yelling at him and telling him he’s mad, he knows it has nothing to do with him, not really. Stiles can see it the second the anger sort of drains out of his body, the moment he takes a step back and looks at the situation for what it truly is.

“You are not marrying him.”

Stiles takes another long tug off his drink. “But I might have to,” he admits. “But if I …”

Derek shakes his head. He is resolute. “It’s not going to come to that.”

He throws his empty can into the wastebasket and sucks in a great big breath. He’s drunk. Or, he hasn’t any clue what drunk really feels like. Maybe this is just buzzed. He doesn’t know. All he knows is he feels different, and it mixes in with his anxiety and his abysmal depression, and Derek is looking right at him.

“I’m scared,” he says. “I think he’s even worse than…I think he’ll hit me. You should’ve seen how he looked at me. He kept saying – he kept saying how pretty – in this way? Like in this way. In how he said it. I didn’t like it.”

Derek is angry again. But he’s trying his absolute hardest to not let it show, because right now, he seems focused on trying to make Stiles feel better. He puts his hands on Stiles’ shoulders and holds him, his hands big and strong and warm, and Stiles thinks he might cry. “Stiles. It is not going to come to that.”

This is one of those promises they cannot make to one another. Stiles knows it. Derek can’t guarantee that. He can’t. He just can’t.

“What am I gonna do?”

“Just – it’s okay. It’s okay. We –“ there’s a commotion on the other side of the door and he furrows his brow, glancing over his shoulder as though he can laser eyes his way through it and see what’s going on. Then his eyes go big, and he releases Stiles as though he’s caught fire. “Jesus, it’s the cops.”

What?” Stiles half screams, panic gripping him instantaneously. He listens and he can hear kids scattering, running feet, things falling over – they might all be legal drinking age, but if someone called in a noise complaint, then the cops will come and break it up. Plus, for all Stiles knows, there are drugs being done out there. That’s all irrelevant.

If the cops are here, there’s every chance in the world that one of them is Parrish or his dad. And that is not good. That is the worst case scenario. He panics. He looks to see if there’s a window he can climb out of in here, but there’s nothing, nowhere to go, and this is bad. This is so fucking bad. He never should’ve come here. This is the biggest mistake he has ever made in his life.

He can’t be found like this. Whether it’s his father or Parrish or just another deputy, it does not matter. He can’t be found alone in a room with Derek Hale. It will damn them both. They’ll …

“Get out,” Stiles commands Derek, shoving him towards the door as hard as he can – but Derek does not budge.

“I’m not just going to leave you to-“

“Derek, get out!” He shouts. “Please, I’m begging you. Just go, I’ll be fine – just go, please, please –“

“Jesus Christ,” he mutters. He looks upset. It’s another one of those times where Derek is sad and it’s all Stiles’ fault and it makes him feel like the hugest piece of shit on earth, but he has no fucking choice. It has to be this way, and it sucks, but it’s just… how it is. Stiles doesn’t know who he was kidding, coming here tonight, talking to Derek in front of everyone like that. It was childish and immature and he’s going to pay for this. Big time.

Derek leans down and kisses Stiles on the mouth. It’s this desperate lingering kiss that Stiles wishes he could deepen, wishes he could get more of, but there is no time. Derek meets his eyes, and he says, “I love you,” then he turns and he rips the door open, storming out, lividly angry about it. Stiles watches as the house clears out, people running past the wide open bathroom door, and he rubs at his face and he just… stands there. No use running. He’s been caught. Dread pools in his gut like an old friend, and he accepts it for what it is.

It’s thankfully not his father that finds him. It is, unfortunately, Jordan Parrish. He had likely just gotten on the night shift after dropping Stiles off, and is now standing here in full uniform on his first call of the night, staring at Stiles. He blinks.

“Stiles,” he greets, and Stiles frowns at him.

**

It really was not necessary to take Stiles to the station in the back of the squad car. Stiles isn’t sure if Jordan just didn’t know what else to do with him, or if he’s trying to scare him straight, or what – but it’s humiliating and infuriating all the same.

Jordan walks him inside and sets him down in the chair right next to his desk. Then, he sits in his own chair and stares at him. It creaks, as he rocks slowly, back and forth, back and forth. He’s assessing Stiles like he’s wondering how much to say to him, or where to even really begin. He says, “your father is on his way.”

Stiles stays mute. He has not said a word to him since they first locked eyes back at Lydia’s house. He is not about to start talking now.

Jordan drums his fingers on top of his desk. “I don’t have to tell you how bad an idea it is to be alone in a house full of inebriated alphas.”

He certainly doesn’t. He’s going to lecture Stiles either way, though.

“Maybe I should show you some of the cases I’ve worked in the past. Omegas alone with drunken alphas. You wanna know how that usually ends?”

“You know, I really don’t need the after school special.”

Jordan’s lips quirk. He leans in close, too close, and Stiles tries to shift away, to no avail. “Go ahead and get in as many of your sarcastic little jabs as you can. I’m not going to tolerate it for much longer. I’ll slap that smirk right off your face.”

Stiles knew it. He had been expecting it. But it’s one thing to suspect it in his head and another to have it actually happening to him. To actually be sitting here, having a man nearly ten years his senior say in no uncertain terms that once he gets the chance, he will beat Stiles, who is a kid, who is smaller and weaker than him. His breath catches in his throat and he goes stiff, heart dropping into his stomach. Jordan looks at him like he’s a dog that needs to be punished, and Stiles doesn’t like that. He doesn’t like that one bit.

Quietly, he asks, “are you threatening me?”

“No,” he shakes his head, once. “I’m telling you the truth.” Of course he is. This is the guy they’ve hired to work omega cases, and of course he’s a sociopathic abusive piece of shit, why not? Stiles wants to kick him in the face and go running out of this place so bad, but he doesn’t have that option. They sit and stare at one another for a moment, and Jordan looks at him like he’s daring Stiles to do something. Like, give me one reason to hit you. Just one.

“You know something?” Stiles curls his upper lip, voice lowering, “I will sooner slit my fucking wrists than marry you.”

“Uh huh,” he’s not impressed by this. As it is, Stiles has no choice. He’s marrying Jordan, period, end of conversation. He really will have to slit his wrists if he thinks he can get out of it and Jordan probably thinks Stiles isn’t brave enough to do so.

It’s right on time for Stiles’ father to come into the station. He bursts in through the gate and comes straight for them, fast, angry, heavy foot falls, and Stiles shrinks back a bit. He can’t help it. It’s instinct.

Jordan stands up. They shake hands. Stiles hates both of them so much in this moment, he could scream it at the top of his fucking lungs. Instead he sits with his arms crossed, angrily looking away, shaking his head, his body tense and alert. He’s shaking.

His father looks at Stiles. He’s so angry. He’s so god damn angry. Stiles has broken about fifteen of his rules in a single night. “Let’s go,” he barks at him.

Stiles has self preservation instincts. Enough that he knows that going with his dad right now is going to be bad. He resists for a moment, shaking his head and opening his mouth to protest, but his dad grabs him by his arm and literally pulls Stiles up to his feet and starts tugging him out of the station.

Stiles’ sneakers squeak on the tiles. He staggers under his dad’s strength and nearly loses his balance, nearly topples against someone else’s desk but catches himself at the last second. He can feel Jordan’s eyes on his back as he goes, and he just wants to claw them out of his smug fucking head so badly.

In the parking lot, Stiles tries to pry himself free. “Stop,” he commands, but it’s ignored. He tries again. “You’re hurting me –“

His father stops. He lets go of Stiles’ arm and turns on him, so they’re face to face, so Stiles can look in his eyes and see exactly how furious he is.

Stiles takes a step back.

“What is the matter with you?”

“I –“

“Are you out of your mind? A party? What have I told you? You know what happens to omegas that –“

“Yes, okay, yes I know! I know! It’s my life, my living fucking nightmare, of course I know! It’s not really my biggest concern right now! You know what he said to me in there?” He points to the station. “He said he’d fucking hit me!”

His dad blinks. He was not expecting that. He seems confused for a moment, like this has genuinely shaken him up. But he goes back to stormy once the shock of it wears off, and he shakes his head. “Stiles. Don’t lie your way out of this.”

It nearly bowls him over. The dismissal of it. He had barely taken three seconds to think about it, to consider the situation, and he’s decided his own son is a liar. Stiles almost loses his breath in the wake of that, it hurts so fucking bad. “I’m not lying,” he insists, but his dad doesn’t believe him. It’s no use. “I’m not lying, he said it! Dad, he tried to kiss me when I didn’t want –“

“That’s enough,” he barks, and he grabs Stiles’ arm again, pulling him to the car parked in the front row. Stiles tries to break free, but it’s no use, none whatsoever. “You’re grounded. Beyond grounded. You’re lucky I don’t pull you out of school and–“

This changes Stiles’ tune near instantaneously. “No, no,” he begs, eyes going big, body ceasing its protests. “Please, not school. Please. I’m not – I was lying,” he says, immediate, back peddling so fast he’s giving himself whiplash. “I was lying. He never – he never said that. I won’t sneak out again. Just not school. Please.”

If he gets pulled out of school, that’ll be it. He’ll be married next week. He’ll be in Jordan Parrish’s house with a black eye. He’ll be locked in the house every day. Tied to the bed for all he fucking knows. And no one will believe him. Not even his own father.

And Derek. And him, most of all. Stiles is more afraid of losing him than ever before, in this moment. If he gets pulled out, he’ll never see Derek again. He’d do just about anything to keep that from happening, including this.

“Why would you say something like that?” He asks, opening the passenger side door. “What is the matter with you?”

Because it’s the truth. Because Jordan is as bad as the alphas his father has always warned him about. Because it’s never really been about a person’s placement on some idiotic scale; it’s always about who a person really is, on the inside. Stiles has learned that. The hard way.

But he says none of these things.

Stiles swallows. “I – I - I’m sorry.”

The Sheriff shakes his head. He ducks Stiles into the car and slams the door shut, leaving Stiles staring through the window at the dark night, the moon, his entire life slipping through his fingers, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Now, he knows his father will never believe him. Jordan can hit him and get away with it. It won’t make a difference. It settles in his gut. This abysmal feeling. Like there is a house burning down and there’s nothing Stiles can do but to stand there and watch it happen.

“You are lucky Jordan is willing to overlook all of this,” he says when he gets in, jabbing his keys in the ignition.

Stiles looks at his hands. “Yeah. I don’t know what – I just – wanted –“

“Just – be quiet, Stiles.”

Stiles closes his mouth.

**

Stiles has had his Xbox and laptop taken away and, worst of all, his phone confiscated indefinitely. When the Sheriff first took it Stiles was petrified that he’d try to go through it, read Stiles’ texts, find out he’s been talking to Derek Hale and what exactly they’ve been saying to one another.

That would have been a cataclysmic fucking event, the likes of which this world has never seen. It would’ve made the eruption at Pompeii look like a beach vacation by comparison.

Luckily, his dad seems to have simply taken it and then locked it up in the safe alongside his other toys without even trying to crack Stiles’ security code.

Unluckily, without those three things, Stiles is a miserable sack of waste. He gets locked up in his bedroom with nothing to do, no one to talk to, which is a dangerous road to go down when he’s already starting to feel depressed. And he hasn’t even gotten to talk to Derek or Scott and tell them he’s fine – it must have been hard for Derek to just walk out and leave Stiles in the bathroom to his fate, but surely he knows it was better than the alternative of the two of them being found locked in a room alone together.

Stiles stares out his window and fantasizes about Derek coming through it. He doesn’t know why this is always the daydream he clings to whenever he truly starts to feel alone, but it makes him feel sane. Someone out there really does care about him. Someone out there would believe him if he told them what Jordan said to him, how he acts, how he treats Stiles when his dad isn’t watching.

And this is the guy they’ve got handling omega cases. It’s funny, or it would be, if it weren’t such a chilling commentary on the state of the world at large.

He does his homework, is done by ten in the morning on Saturday, and then has nothing else to do. He picks through his bookshelf, but he’s read all of these a half dozen times and he doesn’t think he has the attention span to read any of them again. He organizes his closet by color, cleans up his dresser, pairs off all his socks, empties his waste basket. Then it’s only noon.

He decides he’ll take a depression nap. Gets into bed with his lights off and the blinds drawn, so his room is as dark as it can possibly get this time of day. It helps that it’s overcast and gloomy outside. Frankly, that’s how he feels, too.

Against his will, he starts trying to imagine what being married to Jordan Parrish will actually be like. He foresees even more depression naps. He’ll clean every square inch of Jordan’s house and then run out of things to do and sleep, then wake up and make dinner, have sex he doesn’t want, go to bed, and do it all over again. He’ll never let Stiles get a job. Not even as a cashier. He’ll never let Stiles have friends. He’ll never let Stiles go out.

He stares at his ceiling. He wishes his dad had believed him. It seems pointless to wish it at this point, but he still does. What happened to him? He was not always like this. It is a terribly sad thought, to remember what his father was like before he was an omega. Then, it feels like it’s all Stiles’ fault their relationship is so bad now, that his dad went nuts.

Right as he’s starting to drift off into sleep, there’s some gentle taps on his window. Immediately, he knows that it’s Derek Hale, and his heart leaps in his chest. He sits up and pushes his covers off, lurching at it to pull the blinds all the way up, and there’s Derek. It’s raining now, so he’s wet, his Beacon Prep lacrosse hoody soaked through, but he looks so good. Like Stiles’ daydreams come to life. Stiles doesn’t hesitate, this time.

He gives not a thought to the danger or the consequences of his actions. He throws the window open and pulls Derek halfway inside – enough that he can wrap his arms around Derek’s neck and hold on for dear life.

“Whoa,” Derek laughs, as he nearly slips on the wet roof, catching himself on the windowsill at the last second. “Jesus, I was worried about you. You haven’t been answering my –“

“He took my phone away.” He squeezes tighter, harder, refuses to let go. Even though Derek is wet and he’s half out the window and it’s freezing outside, he will not let go.

Derek huffs into Stiles’ neck. “Of course he did. What happened last –“

“I don’t wanna talk about it,” he insists. “I don’t want to – it was –“

“Okay,” Derek says, quietly. “Can I…can I maybe come in?”

Stiles finally releases him, enough to pull away and look at him in his face. His hair is wet and sticking up all over the place, and he’s shivering a bit. He is muddy from climbing underneath the fence and Stiles really has to applaud his bravery, to do that in broad daylight.

His father is at work. And his mother might not like it if she walked in and found Derek Hale in her house, but she would not have quite the conniption his father would.

He steps back from the window. “Okay. But just…” he presses his finger to his lips, “quiet.”

Derek puts one leg inside, and he drips on Stiles’ hardwood floor. Then a second, and he straightens up to his full height. He looks insane in here. Not just because he’s soaking wet, either.

Stiles has never had anyone else in his bedroom before. He feels self conscious, as Derek gazes around in the semi-dark, looking at Stiles’ posters and his closet and his desk. Hastily, he lunges at his bed and remakes it, and then he notices his dirty shoes from the night before are out in the open and he kicks them underneath his bed frame, embarrassed that Derek saw them.

Derek notices. “You’ve seen my bedroom before, you know. Yours is immaculately clean compared to mine.”

Stiles turns on his bedside lamp, illuminating both of them in its soft glow. Derek is shivering, still, as he peels his wet sweatshirt off and lays it out over Stiles’ desk chair to dry off.

“I have a shirt you can borrow,” he says, leaping over to get to his closet – but Derek stops him, shaking his head.

“It will not fit,” he grins, like it’s funny Stiles is so much smaller than him. “I’m all right. It’s warm in here.” He looks around a bit more. Stiles really doesn’t have much going for him; just a closet, a dresser, a desk, and a bed. “Are you okay? What happened? Did you get in trouble?”

Stiles sits down on the edge of his bed. He clasps his hands together between his knees, and he wonders how much he should tell Derek of what happened last night. He already told Derek about the terrible date and how Jordan treated him and Derek is already angry about that.

But Derek does not know the worst of it. And Stiles is not sure that telling him is such a good idea. There is a limit to Derek’s self control just like there’s a limit to everyone else’s.

And discovering that Jordan threatened to harm Stiles and that Stiles’ father did not believe it might be exactly where Derek draws the line. Stiles has sworn to not lie to Derek, but perhaps he should omit some of the truth, to protect him.

“It wasn’t so bad,” he murmurs, keeping his eyes down so Derek won’t be able to tell he’s not being completely truthful. “I got in trouble. Um. Jordan found me.”

Derek puts his hands on his hips. The mention of Jordan’s name has him instantly alert. “Yeah? What’d he say?”

Stiles remembers exactly what he said, word for word. Has had it buzzing around inside of his brain ever since he heard it. “Just – it was irresponsible of me to go to a party. Then my dad showed up and flipped. He said he would…” he hesitates. Thinks better of saying this. His dad threatening to pull him out of school is another thing that would make Derek go apeshit. “…he just took my laptop and my Xbox and my phone and locked me in here.”

Derek’s eyes glance to his bedroom door. “It locks?”

“Not literally,” he corrects with a light laugh. But the fact that Derek instantly believed that his father trapped Stiles in his bedroom perhaps says enough for his current situation. “I’m just not allowed to leave other than school. And uh. Jordan.”

Derek stares at him. He seems to be trying to think of something to say, and is coming up completely empty, other than perhaps a litany of curse words and a vow to cut Jordan’s balls off.

Stiles looks away. “It was unbelievably stupid of me to go to that party. I mean, really. What was I thinking?”

“You were probably thinking that you were sick of having no sense of agency, and you just wanted to have some fun. And you were pretty upset about Jordan,” he’s fishing for information. He’s smart, and he knows there is something he’s not being told. “You seemed to think he was the devil, last night.”

Oh, he definitely is. Stiles is not about to admit that to Derek Hale. “He just - he’s sort of condescending.”

“You said he tried to kiss you.”

Stiles did tell Derek that, didn’t he? “Uh…”

Derek moves forward. He’s still got the bandages on his hand from punching the hell out of that vending machine the other day, and they’re wet. He sits down right next to Stiles on the bed and he looks at him, very critical. He doesn’t say anything. Really, he doesn’t need to.

Stiles twiddles his fingers and he curls his lip and he feels…small. Tiny. Like he’s trying to reach out and hold onto something steady but it keeps slipping out of his fingers. He looks at his hands, his feet, Derek’s wet jeans, just anywhere but at Derek’s face. “…I’m afraid of him.”

“What did he do?” He asks, because Stiles is not afraid of anybody, not without good reason.

Stiles shakes his head. He shouldn’t say. But he knows Derek will believe him. He might get angry and he might go nuts but he wouldn’t be wrong to do so, and he’d never say Stiles was fucking lying. He’d never say that.

Stiles sniffles. “He told me he – he said he would slap me. He said he couldn’t wait to slap the smirk off my face.”

Surprisingly, Derek laughs. It’s not a ha-ha funny laugh. It’s this short, clipped, angry chuckle. He stands up. He walks to the other side of the room, then back again. “Wow,” he says, and he rubs at his jaw. He might just be trying to not lose his temper. “Uh, wow, holy shit. That’s not going to happen. Don’t be afraid of him. He is a little bitch. What kind of grown man threatens a teenaged omega?”

“But he –“

“What does your dad think about that?” He demands, furrowing his brow. “What the hell does he have to say about this clown threatening to hit you? I thought he was such a great guy, what happened to that?”

Stiles crosses his arms over his stomach. “I told him,” he confesses, voice low. “He didn’t exactly believe me.”

Derek stares at him. His face is blank. He looks like he cannot fucking believe that. Like that’s not possible. It cannot be this bad. It can’t be this bad. He looks around at Stiles’ empty bedroom with very little personal effects because Stiles is barely allowed to leave it, and he just shakes his head. Like it cannot possibly be. This can’t be Stiles’ life.

It is, though.

“Oh, Jesus Christ,” he mutters. He palms his face and he breathes in and out, like he can’t believe it. “Jesus fucking Christ.”

Stiles sits and he nods. He really has nothing else to say about all this. It is what it is.

“I won’t marry him,” he insists, resolute. “I told him, and I’ll say it again, I will kill myself first.”

“You’re marrying me,” Derek has said this so many times. So many fucking times. And every time he says it, Stiles is more and more attached to it. He’s got his hooks in it. He will not let it go. They’ll have to pry it out of his cold dead hands. Maybe literally. “Don’t say shit like that - it’s never going to come to that. You’re going to be with me. I don’t care what I have to do to make it happen. I will kill that motherfucker with my bare hands.”

Stiles isn’t sure if Derek is referring to Jordan or the Sheriff when he says that. Maybe both.

Derek comes back to sit next to Stiles, pressing his damp body right up against him, looking into his eyes. “Let me take you out of here,” he begs, voice gentle and low. “I’ll take you right now. I’ll take you and marry you. Please.”

Stiles should. He has been thinking it for weeks, now, a little voice in the back of his head whispering to him that it’s his only way out, it’s how it’s meant to be, him and Derek, it’s always just been him and Derek. Ever since he met Jordan Parrish, the voice has gone from a whisper to a scream. All encompassing.

But.

“I can’t,” he shakes his head. Derek frowns.

“He thinks you’re a liar,” he reminds Stiles gently. “You told him this grown man wants to hurt you, and he did not believe you.”

“I know,” he presses his hands over his eyes. He knows that. He knows a lot of things, way more than Derek does, about how his father has treated him since he became an omega. This is the tip of the iceberg. He will likely go on to have lifelong problems with his heat because of what his father has done to him. He’s going to have psychological damage. There’s no words for what his father has done to him, how it will go on to ruin his life even if he does marry Derek. Stiles has got scars, on the inside. He’s crazy. He’s got problems. It is all his dad’s fault.

But he clings. This is his family. They treat him like shit, but they’re all he’s known, his entire life. He clings, clings, clings, to things his father has told him. He clings to the memory of life before he was an omega, when his dad wasn’t so fucking sick in the head.

“You are a much better person than I am,” Derek notes, with a small laugh. “I’d have punched that guy and ran a long time ago.”

Oh, yeah. Derek would never let this kind of shit happen. Not to himself or to those around him. But he wouldn’t understand - he’s an alpha. The world has never told him to be quiet or to be small or to do as he’s told. He’s only been taught to go after what he wants even to the point of recklessness. He has no idea what it’s like to be Stiles. No clue whatsoever. He doesn’t know how it feels, to want something, and to be told he cannot have it. To be told to go after it will only end in his suffering.

“I’m not going to let this go much longer,” Derek tells him, very resolute, and Stiles nods. “I love you. If he puts his hands on you, you tell me. And I’ll kill him.”

“Okay,” Stiles agrees. There’s no talking him out of that one. “Can we – can we not talk about this anymore? I don’t wanna talk about this anymore, I miss you, I want to - just not this anymore.

Derek sighs through his nose. “What would you like to talk about?” He reaches out and adjusts a strand of Stiles’ hair, runs his fingers down Stiles’ cheek. It’s the same as Jordan had touched him, in the dim lights of the restaurant, but it is different when Derek does it. Jordan’s touch had been of ownership and infatuation. Derek’s is of reverence, love, softness.

“What’s your favorite color?”

That surprises Derek. He smirks a bit and says, “what?”

“Just…we don’t really know each other all that well. Yet we’re so obsessed with one another. I just would like to know stuff? About you. Like your favorite color.”

Derek smiles. His arrogant smile. “Green. Is yours red?”

“Oh, uh, yeah. Whoa. How’d you guess?”

“Let’s see. Your backpack is red, your notebooks are all red, you take notes in red pen, your favorite sweatshirt is red…”

“You noticed all that?”

“Stiles. Baby. All I do is stare at you and when I can’t stare at you I think of you. Of course I noticed all that. When we’re married I’ll buy you a red house and a red car, how’s that?”

Stiles smiles to himself. His face feels hot. He can’t help but to compare these two men in his mind – when Jordan talks about when they’re married, he implements rules or threatens harm. When Derek talks about it, he paints a dream world for Stiles to fantasize about, for Stiles to move into in his mind, that keeps him sane whenever he feels like he’s going off the deep end.

“What’s your favorite food?”

“Mexican. I love burritos,” he holds his hands out in front of him, miming the size of the world’s biggest burrito, “the bigger the better. You?”

“Pesto.”

“Pesto,” Derek repeats, amused. “Just, by the spoonful?”

Stiles laughs out loud and it feels good. Like he hasn’t truly laughed in days. “No, like, on pasta. My mom makes the best ravioli lasagna with creamy pesto sauce. She makes it every year for my birthday.”

He trails off a bit, at the end of that sentence. There are no more birthday ravioli dishes in his future. Either way he sees it, that part of his life is over. It makes him sad. When he’s with Derek his parents will be so mad at him, all the lies and the sneaking around and the betrayal. His mom will never make him pesto ravioli lasagna again.

It’s like Derek can read his mind. He leans down and kisses Stiles on the forehead, pulling him flush against his chest, sighing. “Don’t be sad,” he pleads, but Stiles is. “I’ll make you pesto ravioli lasagna on your birthday.”

“You won’t make it right, but okay.”

Derek snorts a laugh. “You’re probably right. But I’ll still try. Because your happiness genuinely means the entire world to me. I’m going to do whatever I can to make your life great, I promise.”

Stiles knows that. He does. They sit quietly for a moment, enjoying one another’s company, and then Stiles says, “you want some candy?”

“Uh, yeah. You have some?”

Stiles stands and goes to his dresser. He opens the bottom drawer and digs through old clothes he never wears anymore, before he comes up with the bag of truffles an alpha gave him as part of asking him to the dance.

“You hide candy in here?” Derek thinks this is funny.

“I’m not allowed to eat candy very much, but alphas are always giving it to me,” he says, shrugging. “I hide it whenever I get it.”

This is another instance where Derek wants to comment on the shittiness of Stiles’ situation, but instead, he simply accepts his chocolate and unwraps it, popping it into his mouth as Stiles does the same. “I assume you hide your penguin too.”

Stiles grins. He leans down and digs in his dirty clothes, to the bottom of his hamper, and comes up with the fluffy penguin, holding it out for Derek to see it.

He laughs. “Do you like that thing? You never mentioned it again.”

Stiles squeezes it a bit. “Yeah. For a while it –“ he blushes, but forces himself to push through his embarrassment. This is going to be his husband, for Christ’s sake. He should be able to say even embarrassing things to him. “…it still smelled like you, so.”

Derek grins at him. “You like how I smell?”

“Obviously,” he snorts. “Otherwise, what am I doing?”

“What do I smell like to you?”

He rubs at the penguin’s fluff and shrugs a bit. “Kinda like pie.”

“Pie.”

“Pumpkin pie. Cinnamon.”

“Huh,” he leans back and considers that for a moment.

“What about me?”

“You mean, what do you smell like to me?”

Tons of alphas have been very explicit with Stiles about what he smells like, but they’ve always said different things. Mostly terrible things, if he’s being honest with you – so he has no real idea what his scent is. Especially not what it is to Derek, who may just have a different read on it than anyone else, because he’s… well. Derek.

“Like sex on Christmas morning.”

Stiles laughs out loud. “Uh, what?”

“Seriously. You smell like peppermint candy and hot chocolate. Hasn’t anyone told you that?”

Stiles shakes his head. “Never, no.” He fiddles with the penguin’s fins and smiles to himself. “Maybe I only smell that way to you.”

Like Derek is the only one who really knows him. It may be so.

Derek manages to escape the Stilinski house unscathed for a second time, kissing Stiles goodbye at his window with a promise to see him on Monday, then climbing down the side of the house and making a break for it. Stiles watches him go in the rain, wishing he had climbed out of here with him.

**

Scott leaps into the Jeep on Monday morning and immediately throws his arms around Stiles’ neck, holding on for dear life, rocking him back and forth. “I thought you were a dead man,” he says into Stiles’ shoulder. “When the cops showed up – oh my God, I thought you were a goner. Did he take your phone?” He pulls away and looks Stiles in the face.

Stiles nods. “My phone, laptop, Xbox, will to live.”

Scott’s jaw goes tight. “You know, if I were an alpha, I’d beat him to death with a baseball bat.”

“Thanks” he says. It is a nice thought. Then, Stiles stops himself – where the hell did that come from? He’s never once in his life wished bodily harm upon his father. But something has shifted.

The second he said he didn’t believe Stiles, it changed. It changed the foundations of their entire relationship, even more than it did when Stiles first presented. Things are just different, now. They haven’t said a single word to each other since the fiasco at the police station, and to be perfectly frank, Stiles is fine not speaking to him ever again.

“Anyway,” he shakes his head, as though he doesn’t want to keep talking about this because he knows it only upsets Stiles, “Allison is very pissed that Derek still has not asked you to the idiotic dance.”

This makes Stiles smile. It’s so stupid – because Allison is completely out of the loop. She has no idea how bad things have gotten, no clue whatsoever, so of course, her biggest concern is that winter fucking dance and whether or not Stiles is going to get a date. He pulls away from the curb and starts driving off to school, shaking his head as he goes. “I don’t think I’m going to even go. If I said I wanted to, they’d make me go with Jordan, and I…” he trails off.

He would rather get a blender, put a brick, a handful of nails, and an entire pint glass inside, blend it up, and then drink it.

“Well, fuck that guy. When are you going to run off with Derek?”

Stiles frowns. “It’s in production.”

“Uh huh. I know you,” he points his finger at Stiles, accusatory, “you are doing that thing where all you think about is how your choices affect others. Well, fuck everyone else in this particular scenario. Even your mom, dude. Just do what you want this time. Just for once.”

“I will,” he insists. He has no other choice, as it is. “I’m just…trying to be diplomatic.”

“No diplomacy. No being nice. Just do it.”

Stiles sighs. Scott and Derek are on the same page, at least. Stiles is a few chapters behind both of them, still stuck in the part where he’s trying to come up with a way where no one gets hurts, where everybody is happy. It must be the trained omega in him. Demanding he put others before himself, demanding he consider everyone else’s happiness before his own. It is exhausting.

“By the way, Allison and I are going off campus for lunch today,” he says, right as the school is coming into view. “Mostly just so you’ll be forced to sit with Derek. Also partly because we want Chinese.”

Stiles sighs. Of course Allison is starting to puppeteer them together. “I like Chinese, too.”

“Too bad,” Scott says with a lopsided grin. “You have flirting to do, according to Allison.”

They slow to a stop in a parking spot. Stiles throws it into park, and Scott is leaning down into the footwell to gather up his backpack and lacrosse bag, but Stiles reaches out and touches him on the arm. Scott stops, looks up to meet his eyes. “Thank you,” he says, sincere. “For…just. Being not a piece of shit. My whole life these days feels like one piece of shit after another. You and Allison have been so nice to me. It’s made everything more bearable.”

“Hey, don’t mention it,” he grins again and pats Stiles on the shoulder. “We love you. You’re our baby.”

“Oh, Christ…”

“For real. You’re our son.”

“Thanks.”

“Now, mommy and daddy wanna see you get railed by a –“

“Stop,” Stiles bites at him, pushing his door open so hard it nearly snaps off. Scott laughs maniacally in the background. “Please don’t ever refer to yourselves like that again, I mean it.”

**

He gets called to the office during third period over the intercom. It surprises him – his parents never come to pick him up from school or anything like that. As he walks down the hall he has this thought that maybe an extended relative has passed away or, one could only hope, they’ve finally decided to get divorced.

Instead, he walks into the office and sees Jordan Parrish, in full uniform, waiting for him. Stiles doesn’t even say hi. He just walks up and lifts an eyebrow in a silent question as to why the fuck he’s here at Stiles’ school.

Jordan has the nerve to smile at him. After the way he acted the other night and the things that he said, he’s going to stand there and act like it never happened. “I thought I’d surprise you,” he says, and Stiles blinks at him. “Want ice cream?”

It does not matter whether Stiles wants ice cream or not. He will go get ice cream with Jordan. The secretary is watching this entire exchange with a shrewd eye, and from the way she looks between the two of them, Stiles knows that she can tell Stiles is not thrilled about this. But what’s she going to do?

As they walk side by side out of the building, there are many things that Stiles would like to say. He wants to say he doesn’t very much appreciate being pulled out of his classes for something as asinine as this, and he doesn’t very much appreciate Jordan at all, and he’s sick and tired of having to put on a god damn show every day just for his benefit.

He stays quiet, instead. Preservation instinct.

Jordan has come in his squad car, and it’s something that Stiles is actually quite familiar with. When he was growing up, before he presented, he used to love to ride around in the passenger seat of his dad’s car and they’d drive out to the preserve so Stiles could turn the lights and sirens on or get on the intercom and shout nonsense into it. They would get burgers and fries and swear not to tell mom, and sometimes Stiles even got to watch his dad give people speeding tickets. They are some of his most cherished memories.

After he presented, they stopped doing things like that. Really, his dad stopped doing anything with Stiles altogether.

Stiles looks out the window as they drive. He folds his hands in his lap and he stays silent – he has plenty to say and no rights to say any of it. Stiles gets soft serve vanilla ice cream with extra chocolate sprinkles, and Jordan gets nothing. He parks the car at the edge of the lot and shuts it off, his radio buzzing with muffled voices every now and again.

Stiles doesn’t really get to have treats very often, so instead of throwing it at Jordan’s face like every muscle in his body aches to, he eats it. Bite by bite. He can’t remember the last time he had ice cream. Supposedly, too much sugar isn’t good for omegas, or at least, that’s what his father has read in his shitty parenting books.

“Look,” Jordan starts around a sigh, “I know you’re not happy about what I said to you the other night.”

Stiles licks ice cream off his spoon. “You mean when you said you can’t wait until you can beat me at will.”

“That is not what I said,” he snaps, angry, angrier than Stiles has seen him. Stiles shrugs and takes another huge bite, crunching on sprinkles. “…I shouldn’t have said it either way. And I didn’t mean it.”

Ha, ha. Yes he did. Stiles knows that he did. Stiles wonders if this is a pretty accurate snapshot for the rest of his life. Jordan saying or doing something terrible and unforgivable to him and then trying to win back Stiles’ affection with gifts and sweets. Probably, it is.

He sighs, again, frowning and furrowing his brow. “I just got angry. And worried about you. Anything could’ve happened to you at that party, Stiles.”

Stiles rolls his eyes and tries to tune him out, to the best of his ability. It’s not about being worried for Stiles. It’s about controlling him. Stiles isn’t naïve.

“I shouldn’t have said it either way. I apologize.”

“Not accepted.”

Jordan stiffens. In this moment, he looks like he’d give absolutely anything to reach out and strangle Stiles with his bare hands. “That’s fine,” he says through grit teeth. “I wanted to show you something that’ll change your tune, anyway.”

He reaches into his pocket and pulls out what is certainly a ring box, and he holds it out in between them for Stiles to look at. He opens it, revealing a decent looking diamond ring. Stiles stares at it, scraping at what’s left of his ice cream, and he has no visible reaction.

He wants to rip it out if Jordan’s hand and throw it out the window. He doesn’t see a ring when he looks at it – really, he only sees handcuffs. A rope tying him down. Suffocation.

“It’s pretty.” He shrugs. What the hell else is he supposed to say?

It’s better than the surly, one word answers Jordan has been getting since he picked Stiles up, so he smiles, pleased. He reaches out and touches Stiles on the face again, and Stiles bears it with a grimace and a sigh. “Not nearly as pretty as you.”

“Please don’t touch me,” he says, voice even.

“You’ll have to get used to it sometime.”

That may be true.

**

At lunch, Stiles walks in and feels nervous. He knows that Derek will never say no to Stiles no matter what he asks for, including something as silly as sitting with him at lunch, but he’s more worried about Derek’s friends. Who Derek has said do not like Stiles very much. And who glare at him every time they see him.

Stiles is at least sort of well versed in putting on a smile and being nice, when he absolutely has to be, so he straightens his shoulders and finds their usual table in the lunch room. They’re all already sitting down, having a conversation, and Stiles approaches with his brown paper bag clutched in his hand.

When he gets closer, Derek notices him coming and straightens up. He smiles. Stiles smiles back, nervously walking to the front of the table. “Um, hi,” he says, and they all swivel their eyes to look at him. Boyd looks bored at best, and Isaac sort of frowns at him in surprise, and Erica just sneers at him. “…can I maybe sit with you?”

They all look to Derek. Like he’s in charge, or something. Hell, maybe he is. Stiles knows very little about Derek’s friends or his dynamic with them. “Yes,” he says. He sticks his foot out and uses it to push Isaac’s chair away, so he’s not sitting right next to Derek, anymore. Isaac just sighs and allows himself to be pushed to the edge of the table, leaving a space big enough for another chair right next to Derek.

He reaches behind himself to grab at an empty chair from the nearest table, and slides it right next to him. He pats it and gestures for Stiles to come over, so he does.

He sets his backpack on the ground, his bag lunch on the table, and slowly lowers himself down next to Derek. It’s quiet, at first. Stiles digs into his bag and pulls his sandwich out, then his Greek yogurt, then his pretzels. He lays them all out in front of him mostly for something to do, while they all stare at him.

Erica observes him with a bit of a narrowed eye. She says, “still too good for the cafeteria lunch, huh?”

He wants to be a bitch to her so bad. His automatic response would be to reach out and flip her tray of spaghetti directly into her lap, ruining her uniform shirt for the rest of the day, but he wants them to like him. He can be likable. He knows he can. He’s an omega, for Christ’s sake. So he clears his throat and he meets her eyes directly, “uh, actually, I’m not allowed to eat the school lunch. On account of it could be drugged.”

That trips her up. She says, “uh, what?”

“My dad’s really paranoid. He thinks that someone would put roofies in the spaghetti,” he gestures to her tray, and she frowns at him. “It’s ridiculous. Though, it has actually happened. In Nebraska. The lunch lady drugged a cupcake and then kidnapped the omega she fed it to and – well. You can imagine the rest.”

They’re all blinking at him. Boyd says, “Jesus Christ,” in a low voice, but Stiles just shrugs.

“I’ve got tons of stories like that. Better to eat the sandwich I made myself.”

She twirls some spaghetti on her fork and it almost seems like she feels bad for having said anything at all. Derek clears his throat and nudges Stiles in the side, smiling at him, “how’s your day so far? Anything interesting?”

Stiles decided pretty much the moment he walked into the office and saw Jordan Parrish standing there that he would not breathe a word of that event to Derek Hale. He’s got a whole list of things he’s not telling Derek for his own good, at this point, and perhaps at the top of that list is the fact that Jordan Parrish already has a fucking ring picked out. No, no. Derek does not need to know about that.

Then, Isaac opens his fat gob. “Why’d you get called to the office during third?”

Stiles stares at him. He wants to do the spaghetti tray-flip thing again. “Uh…” he clears his throat. Fuck it, he thinks. He glances at Derek briefly, smiles thin, and says, “Jordan came to see me.”

Derek goes stiff and still.

“Who’s Jordan?” Erica demands, frowning.

“He’s kind of my – I don’t know. Suitor, I guess. My dad set me up with him. He just took me for ice cream.”

“He set you up with him?” Erica is baffled by this, as are the other two. Jesus, Derek really has been telling them next to nothing about this entire thing, huh? “You mean…?”

Stiles bites into his sandwich. “Um, yeah.”

They all look at Derek. Who is preoccupying himself with viciously cutting up his spaghetti noodles with his plastic knife, again and again – jab, jab, jab. Stiles smiles nervously. This is going about as well as he would’ve thought it would go.

“How old is this guy?” Isaac demands.

Stiles puts his sandwich down. “Twenty seven.”

“Christ,” Erica snaps, looking at Derek, then her other friends, as though confirming that everyone here is as appalled by this as she is. “You like this guy?”

“No,” he smiles ruefully. “Uh, can we not…”

“He doesn’t want to talk about it,” Derek speaks for the first time in five minutes, and he barks this at his friends who all sort of blink at the admonishment and go back to eating their lunches. Stiles has never really been around Derek and other people at the same time; so it’s surprising to him to learn that all those times Derek assured Stiles that he truly wasn’t that nice, only nice to Stiles…he was not lying.

“All right,” Erica agrees slowly. “So, uh, winter dance?”

That sounds like a safe topic of conversation. “I’m not going,” Stiles says to her, and she nods at him, as though she isn’t surprised.

“Yeah. We’ve all watched you disappoint and humiliate about twenty alphas. I sort of figured. Derek?”

Derek shrugs. He seems distracted, leaning back in his chair, getting as close to Stiles as he can without it seeming suspicious, barely touching his food. Who knows what he’s thinking about? Stiles wishes he could read his mind.

Boyd, who seems to be the most stoic and also the most bored out of all of Derek’ friends, decides to drop a bombshell. He says, “Jennifer seems pretty interested in who you’re going with.”

Stiles’ crazy possessive omega antenna goes up. Jennifer. That is a name he recognizes – he hadn’t been able to place her when he had seen her on Derek’s instagram, but the second he hears Jennifer, he knows that that is her. The pretty, leggy alpha that Derek has pictures of himself with on his Instagram. He looks at Derek, who looks back at him, and Derek seems almost…nervous. Stiles has never seen Derek look nervous before.

“I have absolutely no interest in her anymore,” he says, dead pan. Erica snorts and nudges Isaac in the side, like they’re in on some little joke together.

“Right. Seeing as how you cast her off so quick to hook up with that cheerleader from Beacon Hills High.”

Stiles raises his eyebrows. He looks at Derek and he says, “wow.” There is a truly ugly emotion brewing in his stomach, and it makes him put his sandwich down, uninterested in it.

“Maybe she’ll go with you to the dance,” Isaac laughs, and Derek says nothing. Not a word. “But I seem to remember you pissing her off pretty bad.”

“She was –“ he starts, casting a sidelong glance at Stiles, “…crazy. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“What about that kid from the debate team?” Isaac presses, and Stiles’ head feels fuzzy.

He always knew Derek had hooked up with a lot of people. Derek has been honest about that from the start. But there is something to be said for anonymity. Like, having no clue who these people were or what they looked like or how they met or any of it. Stiles pushes his food away and he frowns, then tries to play it off like it does not bother him. After all, he’s supposed to be convincing Derek’s friends to like him, not getting bitchy and whiny over the fact that Derek has had other relationships.

Hell, they don’t even know Derek and Stiles are currently in a relationship. They literally do not know any better.

“Let’s talk about something else,” Derek insists, but they’re relentless. They think they’re just teasing their friend, after all.

“Why don’t you go with Jennifer? You always said she was at least good in bed,” Erica winks, and that just about does it.

Stiles shoves what’s left of his food into his paper bag and stands. “Sorry, I’ve just realized,” he says, clearing his throat as he picks up his backpack. “I’m…not very hungry. Excuse me.”

He puts his bag on his shoulders and escapes. He throws his uneaten lunch in the trash as he goes, figuring he had plenty of ice cream already anyway and doesn’t need to be eating a full lunch. Behind him, he hears Derek very distinctly asking his friends, “don’t you guys know how to read a fucking room?”, but Stiles ignores it.

In the hall, he pretty much just walks off. He doesn’t know where he’s going to go or what he’s going to do, and technically he’s not supposed to just be wandering around campus during his lunch period anyway, but whatever. He’ll just go hide in the bathroom until it’s time for his next class, or he’ll go hide in his car, or he’ll just sit outside his classroom waiting for the bell to ring.

He can feel himself being annoying. It’s not that big of a deal. So, Derek has slept with other people. So, he’s kissed other people. So, he’s had relationships with other people. Almost everyone else on planet earth gets with more than one person in their lifetime. It’s not that big of a deal, he reasons to himself as he walks, but it is to him. He’s upset. It hurts his fucking feelings.

Footsteps come up behind him and he knows it’s Derek. No one else would’ve chased him out of the lunchroom like that. The only reason it took him so long to catch up is because he had to sit there and wait a minute before following, so their idiotic classmates wouldn’t get any funny ideas about what’s going on between them.

Stiles is getting so, so exhausted of having to hide everything all the time.

“Stiles, wait,” Derek says. He puts his hand on Stiles’ shoulder and Stiles shrugs out of it quickly, narrowing his eyes and charging ahead like Derek isn’t even there. “Jesus, what are you mad about?”

“Nothing” he says. Derek sighs, exasperated, irritated.

“I told you a million times, I’ve had other –“

Stiles turns on him, so they’re facing each other, and Derek stops dead in his tracks, surprised. He takes in the murderous expression on Stiles’ face and closes his fucking mouth, smart enough to at least know when to shut the hell up. “Yes, I know,” he bites back, “you were a real Casanova. You’ve had sex with dozens of other people, I get it – maybe I’m just tired of having it shoved into my face all the god damn time.”

“Dozens,” he scoffs. “Who said dozens?”

“It must be so great to be so – so –“ he struggles to think of the right word, “sexually experienced.”

Derek looks at him, and it is very clear he is at a complete loss for how to deal with his particular situation. He frowns and he rubs his neck and he just stands there. He’s never made Stiles upset before. He has no idea how to apologize or even what to apologize for.

“You ever think that maybe I’m just jealous?”

“None of them are anything like you,” he insists, shaking his head. “I want to be with you. I’m marrying you. What are you wasting your time being so fucking crazy about?”

“It’s not just –“ he huffs, and he looks at his feet. His dirty old shoes, his clean pants, the carpeted floor underfoot. “It’s. You got to have a whole life,” he murmurs, and Derek’s expression softens a bit. “While I was stuck in my room you were just out there partying and kissing people and having sex. I’m…jealous. Not just of them. Of you.”

Derek clicks his tongue like he feels bad for him, and Stiles just shrugs his shoulders. Really, what else is there to say?

“It hurts my feelings,” he insists, and Derek waves his hands like he gets it, it’s done, it won’t happen again.

“They’re idiots,” he says, referring to his stupid friends. “They shouldn’t have been bringing that up in front of you, anyway.”

“How would they know any better?”

Derek frowns. Stiles is right about that, and he can’t deny it, so he just scuffs his feet a bit on the carpet and shrugs his shoulders. His eyes catch something over Stiles’ head and he grimaces a bit, cocking his head to the side and glaring.

Stiles turns to see what he’s looking at. Hunter Morrison is there, at his locker, watching them. He’s got this openly curious expression on his face, like he’s trying to figure out just what the hell is going on between these two, and Derek glowers at him.

Something that Stiles has forgotten, in all this insane hubbub, is that Derek knows Hunter. They’re on the lacrosse team together. Lydia had told Stiles way back when that Derek hates Hunter and has made that perfectly clear many times over by trying to get him off of the team – he doesn’t even necessarily need a reason to go nuts on Hunter. But he’s caught Hunter looking at Stiles, and this makes him bristle, like a taunted alligator.

Stiles shakes his head. “Let’s just, uh,” he moves away, pointedly refusing to look in Hunter’s direction, “talk later.”

“All right,” Derek agrees, glancing one last time at Hunter before he focuses his attention back on Stiles, moving alongside Stiles down the hallway in the opposite direction. “I fucking hate that guy,” he mutters once they’re out of Hunter’s earshot.

Stiles nods, but offers nothing else.

“Look, can I see you after school? Maybe, uh, skip book club?” He pauses in front of the cafeteria doors. “I have something to show you.”

“Okay,” he nods his head. “Um…I’m sorry I’m so crazy.”

Derek grins at him, the arrogant, smug fucking grin that Stiles used to hate so much. “It’s no big deal. It only solidifies how into me you are.”

**

Stiles waits by his Jeep in the fading afternoon sunlight, leaning up against his door with his arms crossed. When Derek appears, he’s got his uniform shirt untucked and his jacket is loose, tie undone – he’s always doing that as soon as the last bell rings. Like his uniform is a straight jacket to him and he needs to undo all the snaps and buttons of it immediately, as though he just cannot fucking stand it for even a second longer than he must meet the dress code requirements.

Stiles likes it, anyway. He likes when he can see Derek’s neck and throat all the way, instead of obstructed by his collar and tie, and he likes being able to see the tight stretch of his white button down over his broad shoulders and his chest. He likes it the best when Derek takes his jacket off and rolls his white shirt sleeves up to his elbows, so Stiles can see his hairy, strong, veiny forearms. Yikes. He needs a psychologist.

“Hey, Stiles,” Derek says to him, big grin.

Stiles blushes. “Hi,” he stands up straight. “Um…sorry, again, about –“

“You know, anytime you apologize for something, you do it about three times. You noticed that?” He sets his backpack down on the ground and cocks his head to the side. “Once is sufficient. Or better yet, zero. Stop being sorry for everything.”

Stiles rubs the back of his neck and he nods. He knows what Derek means anyway. Stiles is constantly sorry for everything that he does, and it’s a learned habit he needs to figure out how to break. “You wanted to show me something?”

“Yes,” he agrees. Then he checks over his shoulder to insure that no one is watching them, and luckily, most kids have already gone home for the day or are in their after school clubs, so there’s no one to see them in the parking lot. That sorted, he leans down and gives Stiles a giant kiss on the mouth, tongue and teeth and lips all colliding.

“Is that it?”

“No,” Derek kisses him again, the same, more hands, more touching, more tongue. “That wasn’t it, either.”

“I hate surprises,” he insists, but he’s giddy. He wonders if it’s another present, like his penguin, or maybe Derek has gotten him some more chocolates or maybe a soda or something. Or, maybe he got Stiles a book. Or a new uniform tie, because Stiles’ is starting to come apart a bit in one spot.

Derek bends down and rifles around in the front pocket of his backpack for a moment, and Stiles watches with rapt attention. Something crinkles, and Stiles gets excited – maybe a bag of chips? A candy bar?

He stands back up to his full height and he’s got something in his hand, holding it out for Stiles to take. Stiles blinks and he takes in the full sight of it, and he freezes. He’s seen one of those today, already, but he’s not about to say that to Derek.

It’s another ring box. This one is red, velvet, shiny in the sun, and Stiles swallows a lump in his throat. He gets a decidedly much different feeling seeing this one than he got when he saw the one Jordan showed him – his mouth goes dry and he glances up to Derek’s face, as though searching for confirmation.

Derek is smug. He says, “open it.”

Gently, cautiously, like he suspects one wrong move will get it taken away, he reaches his fingers out and touches it. It’s soft. Stiles bites his lip and he takes it, quick, pushing the top open, then nearly fumbling it all to the ground when he sees what’s inside.

“Holy fuck, that’s huge,” he shouts, so Derek has to shush him around a laugh. It is huge, though, it’s fucking gigantic – Stiles keeps staring at it as though to insure he’s really seeing what he thinks he is. “Is that real?”

“Of course it’s real.”

“It’s huge.”

“Do you like it?”

“Uh,” he scoffs, eyeballing it some more. It’s so sparkly. It catches the sunlight and glitters, shimmering and shining and Stiles is mesmerized by it. “Where did you get this?”

“Box of cereal.”

“Derek.”

“I went to a jeweler,” he rolls his eyes. “Where do you think? Do you like it?”

“Is this a real ring?”

“Yes.”

Stiles holds the box like he’s afraid it’s going to self-combust. He bites his lip and just stares at it, stares and stares. Truthfully, he can’t imagine himself wearing this hunk of rock, because it’s just…big. Like he’s a mobster’s wife or something, that’s what it looks like. And it’s just so..sparkly. He stares some more. “Can I…” he looks at Derek, who’s looking right back at him, smirking, “…can I please try it on?”

“Stiles, it’s yours,” he insists, smirking even wider. “Of course you can try it on.”

He doesn’t need to be told twice. He gently plucks the ring out of its box and holds it in his palm for a moment, grinning from ear to ear, touching it gently with the fingers on his opposite hand. Then, he carefully pulls it onto his ring finger, holding his hand out as though to observe it, how it looks, how it feels, and he stares some more.

So…shiny…

“Do you like it?” He’s asked this only a half dozen times, now.

Stiles nods, mindless. He’s obsessed with it. If it were physically possible to make love to a ring, this would be the one. He wiggles his fingers to see it catch the light differently, cocking his head to see it from every angle, and Derek grins.

“Can I take it home?”

“Stiles. It’s yours,” he repeats.

“Did you really pick this out yourself?”

“Yeah,” he shrugs, like it’s no big deal. “I figure you’d have been happy with a ring I fished out of a box of cracker jacks.”

Stiles would have been very happy with that, yes. It’s not about the style of ring or the size of the rock or even what kind of rock or what color – it’s about the gesture. The meaning. But getting a gigantic fancy ring like this is no cross to bear.

“I can really take this home?”

Derek smiles at him, nods, then leans down and kisses him again, more gentle than before. It’s a kiss that says something, and this one says love. “Whenever you’re ready, Stiles,” he says, and Stiles knows what he means. “I’m ready when you are. Just say the word.”

Stiles swallows and he looks at his diamond some more, watching it reflect the light again and again. He wants to go right now. He wants to get in the Jeep and go to the courthouse and do it. He’s wanted that for a long time, now, and has been denying it to himself – is still denying it, even with this ring on his finger, even now.

He doesn’t know what the final push is going to be. He finds himself half dreading it and half longing for it.

Chapter Text

Stiles hides the ring and its box in his pillowcase. Mostly so in the middle of the night he can pull it out and play with it, watch how the diamond glitters in the moonlight coming in through his window. He practices putting it on and taking it off, again and again, cradling it in his fingers and bursting into hysterical laughter from time to time, just because it still feels distinctly unbelievable that this is happening to him.

It’s crazy how long he spent completely resigned to the future that was planned for him. Now, he says insane shit like he’d rather kill himself than marry someone aside from Derek Hale, and the most insane part of it is that he fucking means it. He never realized before just how abysmally depressed he was.

Sometimes you don’t notice until you realize you could actually be happy. Like, this horrible feeling does not have to last forever. And it’s not normal to feel like that all the time.

Now, he finds himself unable to fall asleep, too busy fantasizing about being with Derek for real. Because they haven’t been together for real, yet. They only play at together, like they’re actors, every time they manage to wind up alone.

He’s in the middle of designing their imaginary shared bedroom, staring blankly at his ceiling, when his window opens. He sits up with the ring in the palm of his hand, watching as Derek Hale climbs inside in the dark, the moonlight illuminating him enough that Stiles can make out his face.

“You have got to stop doing this,” Stiles says to him in a whisper as Derek straightens up. “You are going to wind up in a body bag.”

“Lately I’ve been more and more of the opinion that I could take your dad in a fight,” he smirks. “Rage alone will strengthen me to beat his ass.”

“What are you doing here?” Stiles demands, glancing at his bedside clock. “It’s one in the morning.”

“What do you think?” He pulls down on the hem of his t-shirt and appraises Stiles, head to toe, “I’m here to have sex with you.”

“Oh, what did you just say?” He snaps, voice going shrill. “What? Here? Now? No.”

“Why not?” He moves forward, and the floorboard creaks underneath his feet. Stiles jerks and stands, rushing over to halt him in his tracks.

They stand there pressed together in quiet for a moment, listening to be sure nobody heard that. Silence. Stiles sighs in relief and looks Derek in the face. In the dim light, he’s even better looking, like moonlight illuminates all his best features just right. “That’s why not,” Stiles whispers to him.

“Because you know I’ll make you scream,” he snaps his fingers, and Stiles rolls his eyes. “That’s fair. But I brought you a present.”

Stiles raises his eyebrows. “Another one?” He opens his palm to show Derek the ring tucked away, and Derek smiles at it. “This is a good enough present for the next ten years, honestly.”

“What are you up to, awake in bed cradling your ring?” He smirks even bigger, like he’s caught Stiles doing something embarrassing. Stiles guesses he kinda has. “You excited?”

“Oh, you can’t imagine,” he laughs, a little embarrassed, gazing at the diamond in his hand. “It’s – I don’t know. Too good to be true.”

“Not really,” he shrugs. “It’s what you deserve.”

Stiles goes giddy again, because Derek has this insane tendency of making Stiles feel like he’s a balloon filling up with air about to burst or something, but he sets the ring down on his bedside table and shakes his head. “What’s this mysterious present?”

Derek has his backpack on, but it is not full of his school books. He takes it off and it seems nearly empty, light, like he only brought it to carry up this singular gift. He unzips it and he’s got this shit eating grin on his face, like he cannot wait to see how Stiles is going to react to this thing he has.

Stiles watches him get his hands on a box, and he can’t tell what it is until he’s got it in his own hands. He observes it, a bit confused at what he’s looking at, and then he drops it on the ground in surprise.

It smacks loudly in the dark silence, and they freeze again. Silence. Stillness. Stiles hisses, “what the hell is that?”

Derek grins. “It’s a vibrator.”

Why?” He demands.

“Because you’ll like it. I bet I can make you come, like, a hundred times with it –“

“Ssshhh,” he hisses, finger to his lips. “Are you fucking crazy? Breaking into my house at one AM with a sex toy?” Derek seems completely fearless at this point; like he’ll climb up to Stiles’ bedroom willy nilly without a fuck given about whether he gets shot or not, so long as he gets to see Stiles for ten minutes.

“You wanna try it out?” He picks the box up and holds it out for Stiles to take – but Stiles refuses. No way. “Don’t knock it until you try it.”

“We cannot do that in my bedroom, Derek. You are sick in the head.”

Derek grins at him. He always thinks it’s hilarious when Stiles gets worked up.

“And anyway, isn’t that – isn’t that more for people with vaginas?”

“It’s for anyone,” he argues with a shrug. “Just wait. It’s going to blow your mind.”

“Is this something you’ve seen in porn? Like…have you ever actually seen an omega using these in porn?”

Derek nods. Stiles bites his lip and he looks at the box in Derek’s hands – truth be told, he does…really sort of want to try it. His knowledge of sex toys may be limited, but he’s not completely clueless. He can imagine that a vibrator on his dick would feel, uh, pretty fucking good. And he can also imagine that letting Derek do that to him would feel even better, and before he knows it, he’s vividly imagining it; the whole scene, in Derek’s bed, and it makes his skin feel hot. Blazing hot.

Derek can tell. He smirks and cocks his head to the side. “You want to?”

“No,” he insists. He can’t. No way. That would be the stupidest idea on planet earth. Absolutely not. He cannot do that.

All the same, he grabs Derek by his shoulders and drags him bodily over to his closet, pushing both their bodies inside, shutting it quietly behind him. They’re stuffed in here like sardines, among Stiles’ clothes and his shoes and a shelf above their heads housing old school textbooks and video games.

Derek is pressed into the hangers, so they rattle a bit as he moves, getting caught up in an old sweatshirt. “All right,” Derek snorts in amusement at this change in scenery – it is, after all, ridiculous.

“It’s just – safer.”

“So you want me to use the –“

“No, dumbass,” because he is not that stupid. “Maybe let’s just…can we kiss?”

Derek leans back and rustles the clothing around his shoulders. “This feels distinctly absurd.”

“It is,” he agrees. He takes Derek by his collar and pulls him down so their faces meet, lips moving together in the dark. It’s so quiet in here every rustle of their clothing and their skin touching seems loud, like surround sound, everything else gone except for the two of them, kissing. “It’s just that I need you so badly.”

“Relatable.”

“And I get this like, sense of total dread. Every now and again. Like it’s all just…like if I can’t – like if I can’t just nut up and run then I’ll be –“

Derek puts his hand on Stiles’ face. Thumb on his cheek, stroking slow and gentle.

“I just wanna be with you so bad. It’s not just about getting away from my dad or Jordan. You know that right?”

“Of course I do.” He grins. “I love you.”

Stiles’ mouth wants to say those words so god damn badly. They burn on his tongue, stick to his teeth like candy. He wants to scream it at the top of his lungs and then whisper it into his ear. But it trips him up.

Love is not something he ever thought he’d have. It’s foreign and strange. He could choke on it.

“Do you think I’m fucking everything up?”

“What?”

“Do you think I’m dragging my fucking feet?”

Derek makes a face. It’s hard to really see it in here, but he can tell that it’s not a very happy face. “Stiles, I’m asking you to jump off of a cliff. It’s not that easy, I know that. I told you I’d wait.”

He nods. He knows that. It’s a precipice. It’s a vast great darkness where nothing is safe. It’s away from his family. It’s letting go of every single thing he’s ever been taught.

“I feel ridiculous having this conversation with you in a closet.”

“Some day we won’t have to talk in closets,” he says. Derek doesn’t ask when, and he doesn’t demand a time frame, and he doesn’t push Stiles, not at all. He just smiles like the thought makes him happy, and Stiles wants to live inside him. He is legitimately everything to him, in this moment. “I think I’m just going to do it.”

“What do you mean?”

Stiles puts his hands on Derek’s shoulders and squeezes - he’s so big and tall and strong. “I think I’ve given up. On waiting for my dad to come to his senses. I think he’s….” The words get stuck inside of him for a moment, because it hurts bad enough to think it, saying it is even fucking worse. “…I just kind of think he’s not really my dad anymore.”

Derek is quiet. He doesn’t know what to say to that. What can he say?

“I’m so sad,” he croaks, and Derek holds him. Draws him in close and hugs him against his body, warm and strong. “I’m tired of being so sad, and it’s, like, this really bad sad. Like I can’t remember what it’s like to not be so sad.”

“I fucking hate him for doing this to you,” Derek says into Stiles’ hair, and Stiles knows the feeling. He fucking hates his father, too.

Who knows how deep the scars go? Stiles is going to spend the rest of his life finding new ones.

“I’m going to just do it,” he says to Derek’s chest. “I have no choice. I’ll die before I let Jordan touch me, I mean it.”

Derek kisses his forehead and stays quiet. Stiles can tell just from the stiffness of his body that he wants to rant and rave about all the people he wants to kill for what they have done to Stiles over the years, but he knows that wouldn’t be helpful, and it would do nothing for the situation, and it’s pointless, so he’s quiet instead, because he’s perfect. Stiles thinks so.

They don’t say anything more for a moment. Then, Stiles sniffles and asks, “what college are you going to?”

Derek is surprised enough by the question that he laughs. “You mean, what college are we going to.”

Stiles’ heart does a backflip and he can’t help but to smile wide, pulling away from Derek to look him in the face. He knew that Derek had every intention of bringing Stiles with him, but it’s so nice to hear him say it. Derek never says anything he doesn’t mean.

“I’ve applied to six. I think my top choice is Beacon University, but you’ll have to help me decide. Assuming I even get in.”

Derek definitely will. He’s not on the honor roll or anything like that, but he’s smart and well read and he’s got tons of extra curriculars and he’s captain of the lacrosse team for god’s sake. He’ll get in.

“Are we gonna live in the dorms?”

“Sure, if you want.”

“And we’re gonna go to the dining halls? And go to parties? And all that stuff?”

Derek strokes his back, up and down. “Anything you want.”

Stiles latches onto this fantasy harder than any of his others. College has always been his untouchable dream – and it’s so stupid, because other kids don’t think of it that way, because to them, it’s just part of their lives. To Stiles, it means freedom more than anything else.

“I’m going to have a degree,” he says, dreamily, and Derek laughs. It’ll be more of a nominal degree, less prestigious and important than the one Derek will receive, but a degree is a degree. “You really should probably go, now.”

“Okay.”

They stay standing there for another moment, gazing at one another in the dark. They do not move, not an inch, trapped entangled in one another’s bodies. “You’re not leaving that vibrator here, seriously. If my dad found that he’d put me in an institution, for fucking real.”

Derek snorts. “That’s fine. It’ll be waiting for you in my bedroom.”

Stiles goes hot again imagining being in Derek’s bed, and he pushes him away, before he does something stupid like decide to fuck Derek in his house even though it could only end in bad news. He opens up his closet door to usher him along to the window, with the moon still shining in big and bright.

Derek picks up his backpack and slings it over his shoulders – the window is still wide open, so it’s chilly in here, but Stiles does not mind.

Before he climbs out, one leg on the roof and the other in Stiles’ bedroom, he kisses Stiles on the lips and grins at him. “I’m gonna wait for you,” he promises. “Even if it’s forever.”

It will not be, that’s the thing of it. Stiles can already feel himself being half gone.

**

Stiles’ third period gets let out early because they breezed through the lecture much faster than his teacher had anticipated – he has an entire twenty minutes before his next period, which almost never happens. He goes straight to the vending machines for a snack, pulling his backpack off and digging around in the bottom of it to find some loose change. His allowance is pennies, so he rarely has any money aside from what he needs for gas, but he thinks he can find four quarters to rub together for some chips.

He finds just enough money and then stares through the glass. This is a brand new machine, on account of Derek punching the last one to shreds, so it’s all shiny and the snacks are fresh. He should buy a bag of pretzels, but there’s a pack of Reese’s in there that’s calling his name. He stares at them longingly, biting his index finger. It’s incredible how much of his life he’s spent being physically incapable of disobeying his father’s rules, even the most asinine of them - but now here he is, seriously considering buying chocolate because there’s no way he can ever find out. Stiles used to think he had like a sixth sense, some alpha power that made him omnipotent, that he could smell chocolate or ice cream on him even hours after it had been consumed.

Of course that’s silly. It’s just one of those things his dad managed to convince him of.

As he moves to start pushing his quarters in, someone else joins him in the machine enclave. He glances over his shoulder briefly, looks back to the machine, then does a double take.

Hunter smiles at him the way he always does. Stiles rolls his eyes and goes back to shoving his quarters into the coin slot, ignoring him completely. Talking to him never leads to anything good. He talks out of his fucking asshole, anyway. Hunter goes to the soda machine and sort of hovers there, watching Stiles press A6 instead of pulling any money out or even observing the sodas much at all.

The Reese’s gets pushed forward, and then it gets stuck. Stiles huffs and taps on the front of the machine with his open palm, but it doesn’t budge. Of course this would happen to him, he thinks. It’s karma for doing something he shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.

“Need help?” Hunter asks.

Before the words are even fully out of his mouth, Stiles hisses, “not from a mouth breather like you.”

Fuck it. There goes his chocolate. It’s what he deserves, anyhow. He starts to turn on his heel to move, but Hunter speaks again. “I’ll give you a dollar for another,” he offers, and Stiles glares at him.

“No, thanks.”

Hunter leans up against the soda machine and looks at Stiles, up and down, the same way he always does. The way that makes Stiles’ skin crawl, the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, alarm bells going off in his head. “You know, you were right the other day.”

“I usually am,” he says slowly, “but about what specifically?”

“I did write that letter,” he admits, and Stiles nods his head like uh, yeah, duh. “I didn’t mean anything bad by it. I just think the world would be better if we stuck to the way things are supposed to be.”

Oh, gag. “Right. Like, I should be taken from my family and put in an institution until the highest bidder wins me and gets to rape me for the rest of my life. There’s nothing bad about that at all.”

Hunter smiles at him, like Stiles is being funny. Of course he finds that funny. It’s likely his greatest fantasy. “It’s really not my fault you hate your own placement so much,” he is smug, this terrible look in his eyes, “omegas serve a very special purpose.”

Yes, “special purpose” is the term weird sexist assholes always use to describe an omega’s place on the hierarchy at the very, very bottom of the food chain. “Special purpose” is another word for “sex toy.”

“I think I’ve heard enough,” he snaps. He goes to turn, to leave the machines behind and head in the direction of his next class, irritated and chocolateless, but Hunter reaches out and stops him. Puts his hand on Stiles’ upper arm and holds it steady, strong, so Stiles is effectively stuck.

“Can I ask you something?”

Stiles glares at him. “Can you let go of my arm?

Hunter ignores him. He moves closer, into Stiles’ personal space bubble, and Stiles bristles. He is not stupid enough to really do anything to Stiles in broad daylight, on campus, when anyone could walk up on them, but Stiles knows that given the chance, Hunter would. He would fully hold Stiles down and do whatever he wanted to him because it’s what he thinks omegas are made for. Stiles is uncomfortable with his gross eyes on him and his gross hand on him even more. “What exactly did Derek Hale say to you to make you go into heat, in the locker room?”

This takes Stiles off guard. He frowns and shakes his head. “Uh, what?”

“He must have done something.”

“No,” he says this slowly, carefully. He doesn’t know what Hunter’s angle is. “He didn’t say or do anything to me, it just happened.”

He cocks his head to the side and observes Stiles as though he suspects that Stiles is lying. He probably thinks all omegas are liars, are manipulative, are always out to get something from alphas. “Maybe he touched you a certain way.”

Now, Stiles gets where this is going. Hunter wants to figure out how to trip Stiles’ heat because of course he does, because then he’d get exactly what he wants, what he’s wanted to do from the start, and it’s disgusting, gag-worthy. He tries to pry his arm free of Hunter’s grip, but it is no use. He’s big. Stiles is not. “Seriously? You are fucking gross. Get off of me.”

“Is there something going on with you two?”

“No.”

“He’s not so nice, you know,” Hunter informs him, even as Stiles tries and fails to free himself. “You think I’m the bad guy just because I actually know how your kind works.”

My kind,” Stiles repeats, incensed. He gives up on trying to be civil and starts using his opposite hand to try beating at Hunter’s grip on him – unfortunately, this makes Hunter laugh, because he’s a sociopath.

“I’ve never actually touched an omega before,” he says, and he sounds a bit awestruck. “You really are so fucking weak.”

Stiles definitely is. Maybe he’s not quite strong enough to get Hunter’s hand off of him – he changes trajectories and winds his arm back, then slams his hand as hard as he can into Hunter’s face. It’s satisfying to watch him stagger back with the force of the hit, even as Stiles’ hand aches and burns from the impact. Hunter doesn’t let go of Stiles’ arm; in fact, even with how stupefied he is from the slap, his grip tightens up harder.

He’s mad. Of course he’s mad. In his little rat brain, omegas are supposed to get down on their knees and serve alphas, not slap them in the fucking face. “You fucking bitch –“ he starts, moving like he’s going to hit Stiles right back, and Stiles braces for it, flinching away and trying to move back from his body as much as he can.

“Uh, what the fuck?”

Both of them freeze. Derek is hovering in the entrance to the enclave, narrowing his eyes, trying to take in the full scene in front of him. Hunter gripping Stiles’ arm with his hand cocked to hit him, Stiles leaning away with a wide-eyed expression on his face. “What the fuck is going on?”

Stiles says, “he won’t let me go.”

Derek has put up with a lot. He has put up with insane rules from Stiles’ father that they’ve had to dodge. He has put up with Stiles refusing to run away from home even though it is very clearly the only safe option for him to actually become a human person instead of just a piece of property. He has stood idly by and watched Stiles get taken on dates by a beta cop who has threatened to harm Stiles. He has watched alphas ask Stiles to the dance, again and again, and he has born all of this with a grimace, only because Stiles has asked him to. He has had the patience of an absolute saint.

He’s sort of at his limit. This is the final straw. He’s wanted to go bananas on somebody for months, and unfortunately for Hunter, it looks like that’s gonna be him.

It’s no surprise that Derek takes his backpack off, and moves toward them with intent. His eyes are hard and serious and his posture is stiff, his hands balled up into fists at his side. Stiles tenses up because he knows they’re going to fight and he is actually not sure who would win because they’re pretty evenly matched size wise, but he does absolutely nothing to stop it. What the hell is he supposed to do? Get in between them and ask nicely?

When alphas wants to kill each other, there’s really not a whole lot anyone can do about that. Hunter lets Stiles go because he needs both of his hands to do this, and Stiles steps away with big eyes. “Calm down,” he says this uselessly to Derek, who is not listening. Calm is not here right now. Calm has flown out the window. “Just don’t –“

Derek dodges a punch like it’s nothing to him and then he grabs Hunter’s arm with both of his own hands and uses it to take him hostage. It happens quickly – one second they’re going to fight, and the next second, Derek has him pinned up against the brand new vending machine, one fell swoop. Looks like it’s not going to be a fight, after all. More of a dressing down. He shoves Hunter face first against it and Stiles hears the glass crack, as he jumps back in surprise, gripping his backpack straps.

Derek has Hunter’s favored arm trapped behind his back, pressing his body all the way up against his so that he’s stuck between the machine and Derek, nowhere to go, no escape, and Stiles swears that he hears bone crack. Hunter yelps and Stiles winces, because that sounds like it definitely hurts, but Derek does not relent.

“Say you’re sorry for touching him,” he commands, and Hunter sort of scoffs against the cracked glass of the vending machine. Like, me? Apologize to this little bitch of an omega?

“He should apologize to me,” he huffs, a bit muffled. “He’s the biggest cock tease I’ve ever –“

Another cracking sound, Hunter grunting in pain again, and Derek repeats, “I said, apologize to him.”

“Fuck, okay, okay Hale, Jesus. I’m – I’m sorry.”

“That didn’t sound very sincere,” he looks to Stiles, “did you think so?”

“Um,” he says. Should he stand here or watch or should he leave?

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry –“ another crack, this one worse than the others, like the final snap of his bone breaking clean in half, and Hunter screams. Ouch. Stiles winces again and looks away, to the wall, feeling the blood drain out of his face.

“You’re gonna leave him alone?”

“Yes, I swear to god –“ Derek presses on the break and Hunter grits his teeth and literally vibrates with pain, so Stiles has to look away again.

“If I catch you looking at him again…”

“I won’t,” this is said desperately, frantic, the words of a man at his breaking point. All the times that Stiles ever fantasized about Derek taking care of his enemies with physical strength in the past, he realizes that he does not have a very good imagination for violence. This is nuts. Derek is way stronger than he’s ever let on in Stiles’ presence, most likely because he can’t ever use his full strength against Stiles because he would literally snap him in half like a stick.

Finally, Derek releases him. Hunter’s arm is definitely broken, and beyond that, it’s…mangled. Derek did an insane fucking number on him. There is actual bone sticking out of his skin, blood, on Derek’s hands, on the vending machine, on their uniforms, and Stiles gags. Yikes, yikes, yikes, yikes –

“Are you insane?” Hunter demands, looking at his fucked up arm like he can’t believe it, looking from Derek to Stiles, again and again. His eyes are filled with tears and Stiles cannot blame him, because that shit looks like it hurts beyond any pain Stiles has ever known. “All this over a stupid little slut?”

Derek moves like he’s going back in for more, to do something even worse to him, but Stiles waves his hands and gets in between the two of them, shaking his head. “You’ve done enough, just stop,” he insists, and Derek stops dead in his tracks. They’re already in trouble as it is. There’s no way Hunter is going to walk away from this and not seek retribution, if not by physically trying to harm either of them, then by way of the higher-ups at this school. Maybe even involving law enforcement.

Worst of all, the vending machine is completely fucked all over again. The thing was brand new.

“You two deserve each other,” Hunter spits, but it’s got no real venom. He’s crying for god’s sake. Stiles almost laughs, but then he slaps his hand over his mouth to keep it at bay. “You’ll pay for this, the both of you,” he looks at Stiles, upper lip curling as if Stiles absolutely disgusts him, “you should be locked up, you know that?”

“What did I just say?” Derek asks him, and Hunter skirts away quickly, scurrying on quick feet to go running off to tell the principal what happened here.

**

Stiles and Derek sit on one bench in the hallway outside the principal’s office, and Hunter sits on the opposite one, glowering at them both with his mangled and bloodied arm sitting limply in his lap. He has to go to the hospital, apparently, but Stiles does not feel bad for him. Maybe he shouldn’t be such a gross fucking asshole and things like this wouldn’t happen to him. They’re silent, no one speaking a word, because really, none of them have anything to say to one another.

Maybe Stiles and Derek do, but it’s nothing Stiles is particularly interested in having Hunter overhear, so he stays mute, tapping his foot on the carpeted floor and pointedly avoiding looking at Hunter’s arm for fear of gagging again.

The Sheriff walks in, full uniform, frown on his face. He’s flanked by two EMT’s who immediately run up to Hunter and start asking him questions and inspecting his absolutely disgusting arm, but the Sheriff’s eyes find Stiles first. He looks him up and down as though hunting him for signs of injury or upset, and when he comes up empty they settle on Derek Hale sitting right next to his son, and his eyes narrow just the slightest bit.

This kid again,, he seems to be thinking. This fucking kid again.

The EMT’s take Hunter away to the ambulance after clucking their tongues and shaking their heads a few times, and Hunter immediately stands and shoots one last withering glare in Stiles’ direction. Then, he sweeps out of the office and runs away, for all intents and purposes. He is probably going to want to press charges against Derek, but it is not that big of a deal. Alphas assaulting other alphas for any number of reasons is sort of a dime a dozen, especially when it comes to fighting over omegas. Derek will pay a fine and move on with his life, but Hunter may go on to have permanent issues with that arm of his.

Stiles can see Derek trying to hide a satisfied smile behind his hand out of the corner of his eye.

“What’s all this?” His father asks, gesturing to the two boys left sitting.

“I can explain,” Stiles immediately sits up straight and clears his throat. “Hunter is the one who wrote that shitty letter to the school paper. The one about – you know.”

The Sheriff nods. He remembers that letter very vividly, most likely.

“And he – touched me.”

“Touched you,” he repeats. He has his hands on his hips. His eyes flick to Derek sitting quietly in the background, and then back to Stiles.

“Not like that, just…I mean he threatened it, but…he just wouldn’t let me go. I slapped him. He was about to hit me and then…”

“And then Derek Hale showed up,” he finishes for him, and Stiles nods. He is trying to sell this like it’s not that big of a deal, really it’s nothing, nothing at all, but he knows he’s failing. Derek has been suspended. Hunter has got a completely fucked arm and cannot play lacrosse for the remainder of the school year, most likely. And Stiles is in the middle of the entire thing, for some reason. “Like he seems to always be doing.”

Stiles rubs at his forehead.

Derek is apparently firing on all cylinders today. He sits up and turns to face the Sheriff, even as Stiles’ body language screams at him to shut the hell up, and he speaks. “Someone has to,” he challenges, and Stiles’ father stares at him.

They stare at one another. Stiles sits in between them and tries to think of something to say, but comes up completely empty. The urge to reach out and slap Derek on the back of the head and tell him to be fucking quiet is overwhelming, but he can’t even do that.

“What is going on with you and this boy?” The Sheriff asks Stiles. Stiles immediately puts his hands up as if in surrender, shaking his head very fervently.

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I barely know him, I swear to god. He was just in the right place at the wrong time.”

“Just because I don’t want to see an omega get punched in the face by an alpha three times his size doesn’t mean we’re fucking.”

It is the exact wrong word choice. It is the stupidest fucking thing for Derek to say in this moment, and Stiles is cursing Derek’s alpha-brain more than he ever has. “You broke his arm,” the Sheriff says evenly. He is doing the math. It’s not that hard. It is not a hard equation at all. “Seems a bit excessive.”

“Well,” Derek laughs, sarcastic, biting, and Stiles puts his face in his hands, because here we go, “I know you could care less whether or not someone hits your son, but –“

“Let’s go home,” Stiles stands up and moves toward his dad as though to take all attention away from Derek, entirely, like he’s not even there. “I’m not in trouble here, can we go?”

This diversion does not work. The Sheriff glares at Derek over Stiles’ head like Stiles isn’t even there. “What the hell does that mean? What are you talking about?”

“Dad, let’s leave, he’s an asshole.”

“What are you trying to accuse me of, exactly?” He demands, and Derek is too mad to back peddle. He’s been angry for a long time, and he hasn’t been allowed to do anything about it, but now, he stands up. He squares his shoulders and even as Stiles is desperately trying to physically remove his father from the hall, from the school entirely, Derek talks.

“You know exactly what I mean.”

“Stiles, who the hell is this kid?” He demands, and Stiles shakes his head, and he insists for the ten thousandth time, I barely know him, he’s nobody, he’s just an alpha, he’s an asshole, he’s just being a jerk, I don’t know him, I do not know him.

The math is still simple. No matter how much Stiles denies it, his dad is not a fucking idiot. It’s all right there. It’s right in front of his face.

The Sheriff takes Stiles by his shoulders and maneuvers him as far from Derek as he can, putting Stiles half behind his own body as though to shield him from this alpha. “You know him,” he says, and Stiles shakes his head even harder, but this is damning. It’s happening so fast. Stiles didn’t realize it would be this fast. “Didn’t I tell you to stay away from my son?”

Derek sets his jaw. But he says nothing. It’s in everyone’s best interest that he say not a single fucking word, does not move an inch, just stands there watching as Stiles’ dad tugs Stiles down the hallway, towards the double doors. Stiles looks over his shoulder and he meets Derek’s eyes, all the way down the hall – Derek looks so angry. He just stands there curling and uncurling his hands into fists, watching Stiles be taken away, like he’d give just about anything to knock Stiles’ father out with one good punch, but he’s not that stupid. He is just not that stupid.

Stiles sort of wishes he were that stupid.

**

At home, the Sheriff goes right to Stiles’ bedroom.

Stiles chases after him as fast as he can, staggering up the steps and nearly tripping on his way, and when he gets to his room, he already finds it in half disarray. His dad is ripping it apart. He’s looking for things. He’s tearing it apart, digging for clues, hints, evidence.

Stiles says, “just calm down,” desperately, but it’s no use. “I don’t know him, dad, how many times do I have to tell you that?”

His dad ignores him. He rips open the top drawer of Stiles’ dresser and throws all the clothes out. Then the next drawer, dumping its contents all over the floor, while Stiles stands back and can do absolutely nothing to stop it. The bottom drawer, clothes flying everywhere, and then Stiles’ chocolate stash.

This is a low grade offense. But his dad is operating on a hairpin, right now. He picks the candies up, and it’s like total proof, of Stiles being a liar, of being disobedient, of being insolent and stupid. Stiles shakes his head as if to deny those being his, but his dad grits his teeth and he asks, “he gave these to you?”

“No,” and that’s not a lie. Someone gave them to him, it just wasn’t Derek, but this does not exactly help his case “No, it’s – no. I bought them myself.”

The Sheriff does not believe him. He doesn’t believe him at all. Like he never believes anything that Stiles fucking says. He shakes the bag in the air and he shouts, “these will destroy your body, Stiles, don’t you know that?”

Stiles balls his hands into fists at his sides. It’s just candy. It’s just fucking candy. “You are the one who’s been destroying my body.”

“What?” He throws the candy aside. He goes to Stiles’ bedside table and pulls the drawer out of that too, digging around in Stiles’ school papers and his pens and his trinkets, throwing them all onto the floor. “You’re not making any sense –“

Stiles bends down and he tries to pick up his things, furiously trying to collect them all into his arms with his chin wobbling, but his dad stops him. He physically pushes Stiles away, and it’s a good push – Stiles loses his footing and he falls down, left sitting on the floor staring up at his dad with his eyes huge in his skull. His dad has never touched him like that before. He just threw Stiles aside like a disobedient puppy.

This is completely out of Stiles’ control. He can’t do anything about this. It’s all spiraling, right in front of his eyes, what he was always afraid of, it’s happening, right now, and he can’t stop it.

“You’re ruining my –“

“Has he touched you?” He demands, and Stiles shuts his mouth. He shakes his head. “Have you been alone with him?”

“I don’t know him, dad,” he shouts, but he’s crying. It has no real venom, no real intensity, as his voice cracks, his throat tightening. It’s a bad lie, and his dad knows it.

He grabs Stiles’ hamper and he flips it over, so the dirty clothes spill out in a giant mound on the floor – but then, there’s Stiles’ penguin. It rolls onto the floor and almost escapes unnoticed underneath a sweatshirt, but the Sheriff grabs it and hoists it up into the air, observing it critically. There’s no earthly reason Stiles should have something like that, unless it were a gift, and no one is giving Stiles gifts except for alphas, so he draws an immediate conclusion.

“He gave this to you?”

“No,” he insists, but it’s no use. He moves to stand up, get up onto his feet, to try and reach and grab his penguin before his dad does anything to it - it’s too late.

Big hands tear it apart. Right down the seam. It splits in half and its fluffy white insides come gushing out, its flappers ripped off, so it’s nothing but a pile of fabric and fuzz on the ground. Stiles cries and he reaches out for what’s left of it, frantically gathering it up into his arms and sobbing, so angry he’s shaking.

“You have no right to ruin my things,” he shouts, cradling the insides of the penguin against his chest. “That was important to me!”

“Because Derek Hale gave it to you?”

Stiles glares at him from where he’s kneeling down on the ground. He’s so fucking angry. And in this moment, he just doesn’t have it in him anymore. To lie. To pretend. What’s the use, anymore? It’s half out as it is, and his entire life is falling apart right in front of him, and his dad already knows anyway. He just wants Stiles to admit it. “Yes,” he spits, and his dad puts his hands on his hips.

“Have you been seeing him? Have you been with him?”

Stiles looks down in his arms. All the pieces of the first gift Derek ever gave him, torn apart, and he cries, shakes his head. “He treats me like I’m a god damn human being, like you never have! You ruined my life, you’ve taken everything from me, for years!”

“How long?”

“Just leave me alone.”

“Stiles, you are completely out of control, you are out of control –“

“All you’ve ever done my whole life is try to control me! You drove me to this!” He gestures around, his destroyed room, his shitty little life. “This is your fault!”

“If you want to make me out to be the villain that’s fine,” he waves his hand, like it truly doesn’t matter, “you saw what Derek Hale did to that kid’s arm, you think he wouldn’t do that to you, given half a chance?”

This is an infuriating judgment that his dad has passed on someone he doesn’t even know, someone Stiles cares about very deeply, and it lights a fire in his gut. Even the sheer idea of Derek ever laying hands on him like that is fucking ridiculous, maddeningly idiotic. “He would never,” he growls.

“Yes he would,” he is resolute, and sure, no questions asked. “This is done. It’s over. Whatever it is, it’s done.”

“You can’t do anything about it,” Stiles challenges, hastily climbing up onto his feet, throwing the remains of his penguin down on the ground. “You can’t do anything about it!”

“Yes I can,” he moves closer, so they’re right in each other’s faces, and Stiles grits his teeth. “You’re never going to see him again, you’re never going back to that school again, it’s done.”

“You can’t –“

“I can,” he says, and Stiles knows that that’s true. All of it is true. His dad can take him out of school and all of Stiles’ hard work will go down the drain, his diploma gone, he’ll never even be allowed to get his GED, because he won’t need it. His dad can see to it that there’s a restraining order placed against Derek, that he’ll never be allowed within fifty feet of Stiles ever again, he can make Stiles and Jordan move away, he can do anything. Anything at all. Anything he sees fit to do. He could walk out that door and go find Derek and kill him, if he felt like it.

“I love him,” Stiles says, pointing to his chest, his entire being, to try and drill the point home, to try and appeal to his father’s sense of empathy. “He’s everything to me, he – you can’t – you can’t –“

“You’re being hysterical,” his dad says, and Stiles almost loses his breath.

It hurts. The slap in the face, the dismissal, the wave of his hand. It fucking hurts, gets him right in the gut, knocks the wind clean out of him. This is what his father really thinks about him. He thinks Stiles is crazy, stupid, just an idiotic animal who wants what’s bad for him, has to be controlled. Stiles might have always known this.

But not like this. Not like this. Stiles is trying to tell him how he feels. The most important thing in the world to him. And his dad just shoves it away. Maybe doesn’t care.

“Clean your room,” he barks, and then he slams the door behind himself when he goes.

Stiles stands there for a moment, still. He looks at his destroyed bedroom, all his belongings strewn on the floor, his penguin mangled and ruined at his feet, his lamp knocked over, his closet in disarray from being searched, clothes covering every square inch of his floor. He stares at the mess, and he doesn’t move. Not for a full five minutes.

This is the exact moment he feels the last of his grip on his old life slip away. His fingers let go of the rope. He lets himself fall. It’s done. Just like his dad said, it’s over, completely over – just not in the way that his father had meant it. His dad thinks he’s going to marry Jordan and calm down and stop being this way, stop being such a thorn in his side, finally learn what his place in the world is meant to be. Stiles would sincerely sooner cut all his fingers off than do any of that bullshit, would rather fling himself out that window right now than do any of that bullshit.

Stiles goes to his bed, thankfully untouched by his father, and picks his pillow up. He digs into the case and pulls the ring box out, cradling it in his hands, smoothing his fingers over the velvet gently. He doesn’t know what his father would’ve done if he found this thing; likely, he would’ve made good on his threats to kill Derek. Now, his father has forced his hand.

This is not how it was supposed to be. Then again, maybe it was.

**

Down in the basement of Stiles’ house is an old box of things from before Stiles presented. It’s mostly mementos from his days on little league baseball teams, his glove, a bat, pictures of him on teams. Old jerseys. Baseball cards. Pictures of him and his dad at games. His old skateboard. Comic books.

It’s all these stupid things that Stiles supposedly lost interest in, like a switch was flipped in his head the second it became obvious he was an omega.

The truth is, Stiles didn’t give up on baseball, and he didn’t start hating skateboarding, and he didn’t stop liking comic books. He just had it all taken away from him because he wasn’t supposed to do those things anymore. He often wonders if maybe he could’ve gotten good at baseball, if anyone had ever let him try.

Stiles thinks of those stupid things as he packs his bags, now. He shoves clothes into his school bag, as many as he can fit, and then he fishes out his old duffel bag from the bottom of his closet, and he stuffs that full too. He does not clean his bedroom. He leaves it the way his father left it. He does not make his bed, doesn’t even sleep in it – he stays up all night sitting on the edge of it and looking out his window.

All he has in his bags is clothes and shoes and books. It makes him sad. Doesn’t he have anything else?

It’s six in the morning when he finally moves. The dawn is gray and dark and cold. Jesus, there’s only two weeks until Christmas, and this is what he’s doing. He can’t even imagine what Christmas will be like this year. Normally his mom makes prime rib and mashed potatoes and they watch The Grinch and Stiles always gets lots of presents, mostly new clothes and books, but now, all that’s done.

He had to wait for his father to go to work, for his mother to be up in the kitchen, making herself coffee and starting on breakfast. She has very little clue exactly what transpired last night – she knows that the Sheriff has already pulled Stiles out of school. She knows there was a fight. She knows that his father suspects Derek Hale has been around his son. But she does not know how bad it was. She probably couldn’t imagine how bad it was – Stiles almost doesn’t have the words for how bad it was. Worse than he could’ve ever imagined. All those times he would lie awake afraid of him finding out, he always kind of hyper focused on what would happen to Derek. He didn’t spare much thought to what would happen to himself.

He comes down the stairs, quiet and slow, and he’s got his bags with him. He can smell the coffee brewing, can hear his mother humming to herself as she sets to work probably making pancakes to try and cheer Stiles up, opening the fridge and closing it, utensils clanging, cupboards opening. He hovers in the hallway listening for a moment, quiet as a mouse, and he knows he cannot go in there to say goodbye. He won’t be able to go if he tries, so he doesn’t.

Stiles does not know what’s going to happen, after he does this. He doesn’t know if he’s going to see his mom or dad again or if he wants to or if he should or if they’re going to get divorced or if they’ll want to see him. It scares the shit out of him. The desire to stay back in the comfort of the familiar, no matter how terrible it is, grips him in a vice, for just a moment. Go upstairs, unpack, clean his room, let it happen to him. Seems safe. Safer than this.

He can’t do it.

He opens the door and closes it, not a sound. She’s going to go upstairs to wake him up, and he will not be there. She’ll look for him in the bathroom, in the hallway, in her own bedroom, in the basement with his dusty skateboard, and he’ll just be gone. Stiles wonders if she’ll immediately know where he’s gone to, if she’ll be sad or if she’ll be happy for him, or maybe both. There’s a lot of things Stiles would like to say to her, millions of things, like how it’s not her fault and everything got so messed up, but he can’t.

It’s too hard. It’s not fair.

He only has so much time before his father knows that he’s run away, and most importantly, before he checks the tracking on the Jeep and sees exactly where he’s gone, follows him, tries to stop him, maybe by force. He moves as fast as he can, slipping through the gate and dumping his bags in the backseat, starting the Jeep, then hesitating.

His brick house sits and the surrounding fence buzzes. He tries to remember what it used to look like, before he became an omega. It’s hard to even imagine this place without the fence, anymore.

Because it’s not that place anymore. He’s not that kid anymore. Everything is different, now, and he’s holding onto smoke, to ghosts, to nothing. He’s been trying to hang on to something that doesn’t even exist anymore for so fucking long. He grits his teeth and he leaves it, driving as fast as he can get away with, rolling through stop signs and taking corners so hard he nearly rolls his Jeep once or twice.

Stiles parks on the street outside of Derek’s house. It looks the same as always, in the early morning sun, and from here, he can see one of Derek’s bedroom windows, dark, because he likely is still asleep. He doesn’t have school today on account of being suspended, after all, and he was probably up late wondering if he was going to be shot anytime soon. It would almost be a funny thought if it weren’t so terrible, imagining Derek just sat on his bed like, shit, am I dying tonight? Derek doesn’t know for certain that the Sheriff figured out what was going on, but he’d be stupid to not be afraid of it, to not be wondering, to not be concerned about it.

When Talia opens the front door after he frantically rings the doorbell again and again, hands shaking, she seems surprised, in her pajamas. She takes in the sight of him – rumpled, still in his uniform from the day before, eyes bloodshot and puffy red from crying, bags in his hands – and she says, “Stiles, honey, are you okay?”

“I need to see Derek,” he says first thing, and his voice is totally shredded. It’s hoarse from crying and yelling at his dad, from staying up all night, staring at his bedroom walls.

She beckons him inside into the foyer where it smells like coffee and maple syrup. He puts his bags down and he wrings his hands together and turns to her to explain what the hell is going on, why he’s here, that he has to be quick - but as soon as the door is closing behind him, Derek is there, at the top of the stairs. He must have heard the unmistakable sound of Stiles’ Jeep rumbling outside, maybe smelled Stiles downstairs, and immediately shot out of bed. His hair is rumpled from sleep and he seems glassy-eyed, pounding down the steps at top speed, frantically pulling a shirt on over his bare chest.

“Baby,” he says, coming right down to him, putting his hands on Stiles’ shoulders. “What happened? What’s the matter? Jesus, look at you.”

Stiles’ chin wobbles. He looks at Talia, then Derek, and he croaks, “he took me out of school.”

Derek’s lips part, and he shares eye contact with his mother. It lasts for a moment, like both of them are taking this information in.

“He’s gonna make me marry Jordan next week. I…he knows about you and me,” he puts his hand on Derek’s wrist and he squeezes, tight. “He ripped up my penguin.” This is not an important detail, but it feels like it is to Stiles. He loved that thing. It was a comfort object, something he relied on whenever he couldn’t have Derek himself, and to see it ripped up was traumatic.

“Jesus Christ,” Derek mutters.

Stiles reaches into his pocket and pulls out the red velvet ring box, holding it out to him, eyes desperate and pleading. “I need your help,” he says, and Derek does not even think about it. He nods his head, taking the box out of his hand, looking to his mother. He pulls Stiles into his body, holds on for dear life, as hard as he can.

Talia is wearing pajamas with sushi on them, sushi that has faces, the nigiri grinning at Stiles. It’s ridiculous. It makes the entire situation seem that much more absurd. “Just go get dressed. I’ll – start the car.”

Stiles leans down to get his stuff but Derek is already there picking it up for him, gesturing with his head to follow him up the stairs. Stiles does in a bit of a daze, feeling distinctly like this isn’t happening to him, like any moment he will wake up and realize it’s all been a dream. Talia’s pictures of food are all bright and happy, the wallpaper blue, the carpets clean, and maybe it is a dream. Everything seems hazy.

Derek’s room is unbelievably clean. No clothes on the floor, no empty Powerade bottles, no mess on his desk or by his gaming couch, all tidy. The bed isn’t made, but that’s only because he literally just got out of it.

He notices Stiles looking and he says, “I figured you’d be coming to stay eventually so I kinda got it ready.”

Stiles doesn’t even respond to that. He bends down and opens his duffel bag that Derek set down for him and finds jeans, finds a t-shirt, just anything, anything aside from his stupid school uniform that he should’ve changed out of at home and doesn’t know why he didn’t. He can’t get married in his school uniform. Then it seems like he shouldn’t be getting married in ripped jeans and a band t-shirt either, but he doesn’t have anything else, he’s got nothing nice, he wasn’t ready for this, hadn’t prepared.

His eyes cloud with tears and he wipes them away, sniffling, shimmying out of his khakis, shaking out his jeans.

“You’re crying,” Derek notes. Stiles wants to say no shit Sherlock or something equally bitchy but he doesn’t have it in him so he just nods, like yup, sure am. He’s been crying on and off for hours. “Hey – stop –“

Stiles is forcing himself out of his school jacket, shaking fingers moving to the buttons of his white shirt. “I can’t, we have to move, we have to –“

Derek takes him by his shoulders, so Stiles freezes. They look each other in the face, and for the first time since he set foot in this house, he realizes. Oh, that’s Derek. His Derek. With his hazel eyes and his strong jaw and his black hair. Stiles looks at him and tries to drink him in, tries to absorb this moment.

This is no fairytale, like in the movies. There’s no music, no flowers, no one cheering him on. This is not how it’s supposed to be. Stiles is resentful for a lot of things, and now this, too.

“You know you don’t have to do this,” Derek tells him. It’s true. Stiles could just take off on his own and disappear, start up some new life, become someone else – but he doesn’t want that. He does want to marry Derek. That’s the life he wants.

That’s not why he’s crying. “I’m just feeling insane,” he says, and it’s true. “I’m just - I haven’t slept – haven’t eaten – he destroyed my room, my penguin, my stupid fucking penguin…”

Derek kisses him on the forehead. “I’m sorry. I will get you a new penguin.”

Stiles waves his hand. It’s not the most important thing right now. It’s just a stupid little detail he clings to, for whatever reason. “Get dressed, we have to go.”

“All right,” Derek agrees, and does as he’s told, because he knows the best thing to do right now to make Stiles feel better is to move, to go, to get this done, so it can be over already.

Talia drives them to the courthouse, and Derek sits next to Stiles in the backseat. Right next to him, in the middle, holding his hand, so Stiles is stuck between him and the window. Derek rubs the back of Stiles’ hand with his thumb, quiet, maybe waiting for Stiles to speak first.

“I’m really happy,” Stiles says, apropos of nothing, and Derek smiles. “I mean, yesterday and today have been the worst days of my life probably and I’m a complete wreck and this is not how I wanted it to go and it just seems really fucked up right now but …” he squeezes Derek’s hand, and looks him right in the eyes. “It’s you, or it’s nobody. You know that? It’s not just you because it has to be or because I’m just getting away from all that - it’s because it’s you.”

“I know that,” he says. He moves closer, pressing up against him, kissing him, holding him close. It’s weird because his mother is up front, but she is not snooping, and Derek doesn’t seem to care. “I’m happy too. I can’t wait to wake up with you every single day for the rest of my life.”

It’s a weird thought. A good one, but odd. Not the part about waking up with Derek, but just… that idea. The rest of Stiles’ life. Of there being one.

The second Stiles and Derek pull up and get out of the car, Scott is in their faces, wild eyed and insane.

He’s waving his phone at Stiles aggressively, and he’s shouting, “are you kidding me with this text?”

Allison is behind him with two coffees in her hands, likely one being Scott’s, and she seems … like she’s not fully awake, just yet. She’s got her hair in a messy bun on top of her head, she’s in a bath robe, she’s completely dead inside.

Marrying Derek in fifteen at courthouse please come?” Scott reads, incensed. “I didn’t even have time to brush my fucking teeth.”

“Don’t get too close, then,” Stiles says, and Scott frowns. He’s got bed head and Allison is dozing off while standing up behind him, and it’s funny. This is hands down the worst wedding party in the history of the world.

“Where’s your dad?” Scott asks, as the lot of them move up the steps to the courthouse.

“Cluelessly at work.”

“Oh, Jesus,” he puts both of his hands on his face. “It’s really happening. You’re not kidding. It’s happening.”

Did he think Stiles got him out of bed and dragged him to the courthouse as a prank?

“I was supposed to write a speech,” he goes on, even as they’re going inside, greeted by the stale smell that all public offices always have. “I’ve got nothing. I’m a blank slate.”

“You don’t need to make a speech.”

“I insist that you don’t, actually,” Derek deadpans.

There is no fanfare. They walk right up to a mean looking older woman who frowns and rolls her eyes the second they say what they’re here for. She takes Stiles’ temperature and looks at his pupils to make sure he’s not in heat being coerced into marrying some random alpha, has Scott and Allison and Talia all sign forms that all this is above board and they’re witnesses to a genuine and real marriage and not some sham. She prints off a marriage license from a machine that looks like it was built in 1967 after asking them all kinds of asinine questions like birthdays and parents’ names, and then thrusts it at them.

They sign it, one at a time. It feels like it should be more momentous, but it’s not. There’s elevator music playing over their heads and Allison almost falls asleep in her chair in the corner waiting for it to be over.

She stamps a giant seal on the marriage certificate, and then it’s done. Derek and Stiles are married, that easy, that quickly. It seems silly now how long Stiles spent being afraid of doing this, when all it was was a flourish of a pen and a big stamp. It’s sad how easy it is to sign his rights as a person away to someone else, but he tells himself not to think like of it like that, because Derek does not think of it like that, could never think of it like that.

Jordan would’ve thought of it like that. He can’t imagine what their wedding would have been like. His mind violently shies away from those thoughts, because he doesn’t have to think about them anymore. He doesn’t have to. It’s done.

Derek puts the ring on Stiles’ finger as more of a ceremonial act, and Stiles wiggles his fingers to watch the diamond catch the light just like he’s done dozens of times since he’s been given this thing. Feels different, now.

“I feel bad I don’t have money to get you one,” he says, and Derek waves his hand.

“We’ll go get one tomorrow.”

Why not? They have as much time as they want, now. It feels weird, like there’s still something Stiles forgot to do, still some responsibility hanging over his head, still something holding him back. It is hard to shake that feeling. It may stick with him for a while yet.

Outside, the sun is higher in the sky, blue, not a cloud in sight, and Stiles’ father is there. Stiles has half a mind to pretend like he doesn’t see him, to just keep walking and get into Derek’s mother’s car and drive off and be gone, because he can do that now. He has no obligation to his father any longer. He’s not Stiles’ alpha. He can’t make Stiles do much of anything.

He’s leaning up against his cruiser with his arms crossed over his chest, no expression on his face. Stiles wonders how he figured out what’s going on. He wonders if Claudia called and said Stiles is missing and his Jeep is missing and if the Sheriff knew instantly what was happening, or if it took him off guard.

If he thought Stiles would never do something like this. He really should’ve seen it coming, and if he didn’t, that’s on him. It is not Stiles’ fault. It isn’t.

Derek squeezes Stiles’ hand as they approach him to try and comfort him however he can. Stiles has nothing to say to this man. At the same time, he has millions of things to say to him, but he just isn’t so sure if he has the energy to say any of them right now. This day is supposed to be happy.

It’s a complete shitshow already, yes, but maybe he should avoid a confrontation and save it for another day.

They stop a few feet away. Scott and Allison hover back and quietly watch, and Talia just sighs and folds her arms over her chest, frowning, like she should just usher the boys away from this fucking guy, but figures she should let them at least talk, for a moment. None of them have any idea how this is about to go.

The Sheriff speaks first. To Derek, actually. “I should’ve killed you when I had the chance, huh?”

Derek laughs. It’s not very funny, but Derek is psycho, so of course he laughs. “Yeah, maybe. I should kill you where you stand for how you’ve treated my omega for the past six years, but that would upset Stiles, so I won’t.”

“Oh, he’s a winner, Stiles,” he snipes, as if he’s not the one threatening Derek to begin with. Stiles grits his teeth. “I’m glad you’ve thrown your entire life and future away to be with this animal. You’ll see what he’s really like and you’ll be sorry.”

Stiles would say he’s surprised, but he’s not. Maybe in his dreams where he’d imagine running off with Derek, he had this fantasy where his dad would realize the error of his ways and feel sorry that he drove Stiles to do this to their family, and beg for Stiles’ forgiveness, and admit that he was wrong. Stiles always knew that that was the most unrealistic dream that he had. It’s not even painful to him, to stand here listening to his dad basically say that he hopes Derek winds up beating and raping him. It is, after all, what Stiles deserves. It’s what many people will think he deserves, when they hear about this.

“Jordan really did threaten to hit me,” he says instead of gracing that statement with a response, and the Sheriff blinks. This isn’t what he expected Stiles to say. Maybe he thought Stiles would yell and scream at him. “He treated me like a toy. You should fire him. He shouldn’t be working with omegas.”

He tugs on Derek’s hand and Derek follows him to the car, away from his father – and that’s it? That’s really all they’re going to say to one another? After all this time? Stiles could sit down and write a thesis paper on all the things his father did wrong. All the things Stiles is owed an apology for. All the things his father never should have ever in a million years done to him.

Stiles just doesn’t want to. It would fall on deaf ears. And he feels sorry for his father, because Stiles has left him and that means his mother is not far behind, and he’s going to be all alone. Stiles doesn’t relish that, not one bit, even though it’s what the man himself has sown. It doesn’t make him happy or make him feel like he’s won.

Stiles is sad and happy at the same time and it’s confusing in his head. He wonders why his mother didn’t come to see him off. If she’s mad at him. If she’s at home packing her bags and getting ready to go, too.

They sit in the backseat again. Scott and Allison wave them off and Talia offers them congratulations from the front. It all feels distant and muted to Stiles, now, to think this is real, to think everything he’s ever known is just done and over now, signed away as easy as that.

Then, it really wasn’t all that easy, now that Stiles can think about it in retrospect. Stiles had to climb a mountain to get to this point. He went through years of psychological manipulations and, frankly, abuse. He never thought of it as abuse before, but now he sees it for what it is, he knows what happened to him, and he knows it’s not okay. Derek runs his fingers through Stiles’ hair and kisses him on the forehead and holds him tight, like he’s small and precious to him, and Stiles smiles.

He watches the Sheriff’s cruiser disappear in the rear view mirror and he imagines Jordan Parrish receiving the news he’s not going to get to have a little slave to kick around, that he won’t get to have sex with Stiles after all, and it brings an even bigger smile to his face. Stiles thinks that if his dad doesn’t fire Parrish, then he’ll campaign to get him removed. He’ll print fliers and everything. He doesn’t want that man within a hundred feet of any other omegas if he can help it.

Now, he can do shit like that, and there’s nothing and no one stopping him. He can do whatever he wants. He can say whatever he wants.

“You’re hungry,” Derek says, not a question, because of course Stiles is. He hasn’t eaten since breakfast yesterday, and that seems like a lifetime ago. It is. Another life altogether. “You want to go out? I’ll take you to a nice restaurant to celebrate.”

Stiles shakes his head. “In N Out?”

Derek laughs, because of course that’s what Stiles wants to eat on his wedding day. A fucking hamburger and a milkshake. He’s going to eat as much junk food as he can stomach and then he’s going to go back to Derek’s house and nap in his bed, which is his bed now too, where he lives, until they get their own place. Until they go to college.

Feels like a fever dream. Stiles wants to roll down the window and scream at the top of his lungs, everything he’s been holding in, for years, and years, and years.

As they wait for their turn to order in the line at the drive thru, Stiles looks Derek in the face. “I love you,” he says, for the first time out loud, and Derek grins so wide it makes Stiles smile right back at him, infectious. “I’m sorry it took me so long to –“

“Don’t apologize. Don’t apologize for anything, anymore.”

Chapter Text

The very first thing that Derek does on their first full day being married is re-enroll Stiles in school. It’s bizarre standing in the office with him, watching him being handed forms to sign on Stiles’ behalf, watching him sign everything as Stiles’ alpha and guardian, handing over the marriage certificate as proof this is all legal.

The secretary is irritated because she literally just un-enrolled Stiles the day before. She’s chewing gum that she pops at them again and again, rolling her eyes and sighing as she clicks around on the computer to get Stiles set up all over again. She asks if Derek wants Stiles to be put in all the same classes as him, and Stiles is surprised when Derek looks to him for the answer instead of answering for him.

He says yes, of course he does. Their placements are not that far off in any of their classes – Derek is actually in a more advanced math class than Stiles because Stiles’ strengths lean more toward English and verbal and History and farther from the science and the math of it all, but other than that, it’s fine. Nearly identical to where Stiles was before.

Derek takes him for dinner the next day and makes a whole big deal out of it. He refers to it as their first actual and official date, which makes Stiles laugh out loud because, uh, they are fully married, but he’s sort of right. They have never been on a date before.

Every single second they’ve spent together before getting married has been in closets, or in the dark, or in one of their cars. It’s odd to be driven to a restaurant in Derek’s car and then to hold his hand in public as they walk up to the front door, where everyone can see them, instead of having to hide.

When they sit at the table together, Derek immediately picks up the wine and beer list. He sets it in the middle of the table facing horizontal so they can both crane their necks to read it at the same time, having to press their faces close together to do so.

Derek reads it like he understands what any of these words mean or what the numbers and percentages next to the unpronounceable titles mean, furrowing his brow and scanning down the list. But Stiles is absolutely lost and confused. It’s like reading something in a foreign language.

He feels the need to clarify, “I’m allowed wine?”

Derek looks at him and he frowns. “Don’t ask me stuff like that. You’re allowed whatever you want.”

Stiles blinks. Oh, right.

“I don’t really know what any of…” he trails off, rubbing the back of his neck. He’s kind of embarrassed. Derek clearly knows what all this stuff is and Stiles doesn’t and it makes him feel stupid.

Derek smiles at him. “It’s all probably going to taste like horse urine at first for you, so it does not necessarily matter which one you get. You’ll like white wine more, I think.”

“Will you pick for me?”

“Sure,” Derek shrugs. Then he leans back in his seat, and he appraises Stiles in his entirety. His lips quirk at the corners. “You are an ethereal heavenly angel and I am simply a man.”

Stiles bursts out laughing. Derek has said similar things before and Stiles almost always reads them as jokes, but the thing is, Derek does mean to be funny, but he also means it means it. He’s serious. He genuinely thinks Stiles is from another plane of existence from him.

“You know, you don’t have to be so nice to me anymore. Now I can’t run away.”

“You had better get used to it, because I intend to be nice to you for the rest of eternity.”

“Okay,” Stiles agrees, running his index finger over his lips to smooth his smile out.

Derek orders their drinks for them and he knows how to pronounce everything, how to say it, and he says thank you to the waitress after she nods and starts heading off. He looks insanely sexy doing it, and Stiles feels like a pervert again, practically salivating just from watching Derek order drinks.

Then, he shrugs at himself. That’s his husband. He’s allowed to be horny about him whenever he feels like it.

Stiles can truly count on one hand the number of fancy restaurants he’s been to in recent memory – one of them was of course with Jordan Parrish, which is something he’s been burying and repressing in an attempt to forget about it. It’s very romantic in here. The tables are small and candle lit and the music is soft. There’s a flower in a mason jar next to the salt and pepper. It makes Stiles feel like a million dollars even though it’s probably not all that special of a place.

“I think I want spaghetti,” Stiles says after gazing at the menu for a minute or two, and almost asks Derek if that’s okay, but stops himself at the last second. It’s going to take a while to get used to that.

The drinks come and they order. The waitress sort of gazes for a moment too long at Stiles as he tells her what he wants, but Stiles doesn’t mind, because it’s not malicious. She’s just surprised to see an omega is all – it a rare sight, to be fair.

As soon as she’s gone, Stiles picks up his wine glass and takes a sip. He nearly chokes on it. Derek was not lying. It tastes like sweet horse urine and peaches. Absolute nightmare taste. Still, he keeps drinking it even as he makes the world’s most sour face.

Derek sips his beer right out of the bottle and grins. “You look like you love that.”

“I do,” he frowns and makes a face at the glass. “I love the prospect of getting drunk. You know, my dad always said alcohol would, like, make me go into a coma or something. It was easy for him to tell me shit like that and make me believe it because literature on omegas is hard to come by. I believed it for, like, years.”

Derek thumbs at the lip of his bottle and he seems thoughtful. “What other kinds of things would he tell you?”

“All kinds. How much time do you have?” He snorts. “Sugar would ruin my body, going out at night would surely lead to my demise, alphas all want me dead…that sort of stuff. Now look at me.”

“What about your mom?”

Stiles swallows a big sip of wine and frowns as he does so. “What about her?”

Derek leans forward a bit, adjusting himself in his seat. “I mean, while all this shit was going on your whole life, where was she?”

That is a difficult question to answer. It’s nuanced, Stiles knows it is, and there is perhaps no true answer that Stiles could give to Derek that would satisfy him. The reality is, Stiles’ mother never did anything bad, not really, not like his father. She never agreed with any of the shitty rules or the stuff he would flat out make up or pull from sexist books written by alphas. She never forced him to do anything and she never stopped him from doing anything he really wanted to.

No, she never did anything wrong. She just never did anything. Yes she would stand up for Stiles and yes she tried to help him. But maybe Stiles can admit she never tried all that hard. And all of this has simply been compounded by the pain he feels now, at wondering if she even cares at all that Stiles is not around anymore.

Stiles stares into his half empty wine glass. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Jesus, I’m sorry. I’m upsetting you.”

“No, it’s cool - it’s fine - I’m just.” He takes in a deep breath. “There are still some fresh wounds.”

Derek observes him for just a moment, as though he’s trying to gauge just how out of sorts Stiles is now that he’s been asked about his family life. Stiles doesn’t have very much to say, and even if he did, he wouldn’t want to say it, so what’s the point?

“Let’s talk about something else,” Stiles proposes. “How about first date stuff.”

Derek smiles at him. “And what is first date stuff, exactly?”

“You know,” he gestures vaguely. “Like what people talk about in movies when they’re on dates. Like…” he trails off. Because honestly, he has no idea what people are supposed to talk about on first dates.

He has even less of an idea what people who are married are supposed to talk about on ‘first dates.’

“What do you think about…Um…”

Derek raises his eyebrows. He’s got this shit eating grin on his face, watching Stiles fumble to think of something to talk about. “You’re thinking about this way too hard. It’s not like you need index cards with conversation points on them –“

Stiles snaps his fingers. “Flash cards. That’s exactly what I should’ve done.”

“We’ve got the rest of our lives to sit around talking,” he puts his chin in his palm and smiles. “I’d like to stare at you for a minute.”

Stiles’ cheeks go hot. “Stop being gross.”

“It’s not gross. Not anymore. Now you have to let me stare.”

“I don’t, actually,” he puts his nose in the air. “I don’t have to do anything.” At Derek’s surprised smile, Stiles clarifies. “I’m just testing out saying things like that. Like, no one can really make me do anything. Well, you can, actually, but –“

“I won’t,” he finishes for him. He means it. “Except for when I make you say my name in –“

“All right,” Stiles cuts him off.

Derek laughs and finishes off his beer, pushing the empty bottle to the edge of the table so it’s easier for the waitress to simply walk by and scoop it up for him. “How do you really feel about all this?”

“You mean marrying you? I’d rank it 9.5 out of 10 so far.”

“Where is that half point deduction coming from?”

“Your snoring.” It really is mythic. Stiles thinks Derek should be studied in a lab, because snoring that loud just cannot be healthy.

“I guess that’s fair,” he tips his head, “I meant more all the other things. Like how it feels to not be under someone’s thumb all the time, now.”

Stiles shrugs his shoulders. Honestly, it’s only been two days, and it hasn’t entirely sunk in yet. He keeps catching himself asking Derek for permission for insane things, like if he can have seconds of Talia’s absurdly good pancakes or if he’s allowed to watch an R rated movie on Netflix or if he can borrow Derek’s toothpaste because he didn’t pack any of his own. Beyond that, he feels like part of him is missing.

Or, there’s a space. A void. Where something used to be, now there is nothing. Stiles doesn’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, just yet.

“I’m happy,” he decides out loud. “I just….can’t wait for real life. You know? Right now feels like some weird interim. Living in your bedroom in your mom’s house and still going to high school but being married and all. It’s just – everything feels surreal.”

Derek nods his head like he gets it, because he probably does. Who knows how he feels suddenly having an omega hanging off his neck pretty much 24/7? Stiles would imagine he feels pretty good about it, but it still must be odd. Waking up and having someone else in his bed, looking next to him and always finding someone else there.

Stiles has never, ever always had someone there for him. Scott, yes, but not like this.

Not so close. Not so intimate. Not so much so it’s like they’re stitched together by their hearts.

The waitress comes and picks up Derek’s empty bottle and Stiles’ empty wine glass. “Another round, boys?”

Stiles and Derek share a look. Stiles almost asks if he’s allowed, but then catches himself and says, “yes, please.”

When dinner is over and they’re walking out to Derek’s car in the night, Stiles is giddy. The wine has made him feel like he’s operating from another place in his brain, a much lighter and more fun place, where he laughs too loud and suddenly decides he’s going to call the waitress by her first name like they know each other.

In the car, Stiles buckles up and drums his hand on his knee. “I love dinner,” he says, and Derek nods. “I love going out. I love wine. I love spaghetti. I love your car. I love –“

“Me?”

Stiles laughs too loud again, reaching out to gently caress Derek’s stupid, smug, arrogant, idiotic face. “Yes, you. Against my better judgment.”

“Ouch,” he snorts. “It’s fine. I don’t know how I wound up in love with such an absolute spazzoid, but that’s fine too.”

Stiles stares out the window at the trees and the lights passing him by as Derek drives. He fiddles with the ring on his finger and he loves that, too, watching it obsessively as it shines and then goes dark, depending on what the car is going by at that exact second.

He feels light. It is not just the wine.

Derek’s house – his house, now – is dark when they pull up to it. Talia’s car is missing and so is Cora’s, no one home, and Stiles blinks. “Where is everyone?”

Derek puts it in park. “I told them to find somewhere else to be tonight.”

“Oh.” A pause. “Why?”

“Why do you think?”

Stiles honestly has no fucking idea. He frowns and looks at the dark house, then at Derek’s face, still illuminated by the dashboard lights. “Because we’re watching a movie…?”

“Because we’re having sex.”

“Oh,” he repeats, and his face goes hot. Because, oh, duh, of course Derek wants to have sex. They haven’t been able to have sex since that last time in Derek’s bedroom, and Derek has not been exactly quiet about his desires to do all that over again – not to mention, they just got married.

Traditionally, there’s sex on the wedding night. Derek and Stiles hadn’t because there’d been so much going on and there were lots of emotions and the whole day went by so fast, but now, they’ve got time. Lots of time.

And the house to themselves, per Derek’s puppeteering.

Derek is still looking at him. The air in the car has shifted, changed, gone heavier. Stiles wants Derek it’s true, but he can honestly say that he believes that it does not hold a candle to the way that Derek wants him back. Derek’s want of him is so deeply entangled in his very essence of being, it seems like. Like, wanting Stiles is just who he is, now. It’s all he thinks about. It’s all he does. Just…want.

He turns the car off. Silence.

“I really do think you are an ethereal being,” Derek says, and Stiles has to press the back of his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing. “I don’t think there is a prettier person on earth.”

“Probably not,” Stiles agrees.

“You ready to go upstairs?”

Oh, Stiles is ready. Absolutely ready. He’s nervous and not at the same time, like his body is ready to go but his mind is still too busy thinking, so he’s sort of buzzing with the conflicting emotions as he walks to the front door inside the house with Derek.

It’s dark in here and Derek does not turn on the light. He puts his keys on the hook and they jingle in the quiet. Stiles takes his jacket off and hangs that up, as well, so then they’re both standing there. In the dark.

Derek goes first, up the steps, and Stiles follows him. It’s hard to see and he has to use Derek’s body for reference, putting his hand on Derek’s back to guide him forward so he knows where to step and when.

In his bedroom, Derek turns on the light. It’s still pretty clean, but there’s little messes in a couple places. The hamper is overflowing with both Stiles and Derek’s clothes, Stiles’ bags are still in the corner spilling their contents all over the floor, and the bed is not made. Neither of them pay any attention to those things. It does not matter, in this moment.

They kiss. Once the door is shut behind them and the lights are on, they attack one another. Limbs flailing, bodies pressing against each other, tongues in each other’s mouths, teeth biting, all of it. It’s frantic and fast, so fast Stiles almost doesn’t notice it when they’re on the bed, when Stiles has half his clothes off already, when Derek is sticking his hand into Stiles’ pants and eliciting a shocked moan of pleasure from Stiles’ throat.

They’re all tangled up together and Derek breathes into his neck. It tickles, so he laughs, and Derek does it again just for the reaction.

When he pulls off, he smirks. “Want to try your toy?”

Stiles is confused for a fraction of a second, but when he realizes, he feels his face go hot. He definitely, definitely wants to try that thing, but he’s nervous. It’s just a sex toy, a fairly benign one at that, but he’s never done anything like that before. All the same, he nods, swallowing his nerves.

Derek leans over the edge of his side of the bed, digging around underneath it. “I already charged it for you,” he says into the depths, and Stiles rolls his eyes. Of course he did. He’s probably been obsessively watching porn and fantasizing about doing this exact thing to Stiles since the day he picked it up.

When he comes back up, he has it in his hands. It’s black. Stiles licks his lips and stares at it and then meets Derek’s eyes. “Ready?”

Stiles hastily shimmies out of his underwear, tossing them off to the side and then nodding. He opens his legs a bit and Derek leans over him, grinning from ear to ear. “I’ll do the low setting first,” he says. “Just so you can see how it feels.”

“Okay.” He watches as though it’s happening in slow motion, as Derek brings the thing closer to his body. He touches it to Stiles’ alert erection and smirks, meeting Stiles’ eyes before he even turns it on. Like he wants to watch Stiles’ face as this happens to him.

It switches on and Stiles jerks. “Whoa,” he says, breathless and high. It’s sort of relentless, which is the point of it, but the pleasure starts and then doesn’t stop, aggressive and fast and quick, and Stiles sits up. He opens his legs wider and screws his eyes shut and just – comes.

Derek laughs. “What was that, fifteen seconds? Christ, it’s like you operate on a hair trigger.”

Stiles is staring at the ceiling. He pants and puts his hands over his face. That was a lot. A lot all at once. He’s sweaty, already, and he’s got come on his t-shirt.

Without any warning, Derek climbs on top of him. He straddles Stiles’ legs and rucks Stiles’ shirt up to get it out of the way, and he leans over Stiles’ body with this crazy grin on his face, cocking his head to the side. “Want another one?”

Stiles nods. “Please?”

“I wonder how many times I can make you come before it starts to hurt,” he says, slowly bringing the toy back to Stiles’ rapidly hardening cock. Stiles remembers that when he was in heat, Derek had a similar quandary and actually did spend a decent amount of time fiddling around with Stiles, just to make him come, just to see how many times he could.

The exact specifics of that event are blurry. But Derek claims he made Stiles come five times in succession with just his tongue, and Stiles believes him.

He switches it on, and it starts all over again. Stiles grabs Derek’s arm and squeezes his muscles, runs his fingers along the veins. He whines and pushes his body into the vibrations, mindlessly chasing the pleasure – it’s slower, this time, but he does get another orgasm. He comes on his stomach and goes limp, hands reaching out to touch Derek on his chest. Just to feel him.

“Fuck…” he whispers, looking up to meet Derek’s eyes.

“You like it?” He already knows the answer. He just really likes to make Stiles say things like this out loud.

“Yes.”

“You want more?”

Stiles bites his lip and nods. “More, yes. Please. It feels so good,” he sinks deeper into the pillows and grabs Derek by the shirt he still has on, pulling him in low for some wet kissing that lasts a while, waiting to get hard again.

Derek smiles, their faces still close. “You know, when you were in heat, you’d beg a lot more.”

Stiles doesn’t break the eye contact. “When I’m not, you should be begging me.”

Derek likes that. His gaze goes darker and he kisses again, open mouthed and sloppy. Stiles can feel Derek’s erection through his pants, against his own body, and it makes him feel…oddly powerful. Like if he felt like it he could make everything stop and then Derek wouldn’t get to come or get off at all. He put it there, and he can just as easily take it all away.

Derek wants him so badly. It makes Stiles power hungry. One moment he is blushing and nervous and the next, this weird sex-driven part of him is awakening, a natural thing he can’t seem to control and has never been afforded the opportunity to explore.

“Do it again,” he says, pushing Derek away. Derek obliges, putting his free hand on Stiles’ face and pressing his fingers into his face, just north of rough.

As it starts up, Derek edges his fingers closer to Stiles’ mouth. Stiles knows what he wants Stiles to do, and in the moment, with the pleasure pooling in his gut and Derek looking at him like that, he almost has no choice.

He opens his mouth and lets Derek put his index finger in. Stiles licks it, and Derek gets this insane look on his face. His eyes go deeper, darker, more narrow, his mouth open, tongue between his teeth.

Stiles wraps his lips around it. Derek pants. He wants it badly. He wants it so fucking badly. It feels good to be wanted, to have someone make him feel sexy and not in a sleazy, predatory way. In a good way. In a hot way. Stiles feels pretty and hot and like Derek would seriously get on his knees and beg to fuck him, if it came to that.

Maybe it should come to that. Stiles likes the thought of it.

He comes again and bites on Derek’s finger more accidentally and automatically than anything else as the orgasm wracks his body, but Derek does not complain. He bites his own lip and tosses the vibrator aside, blanketing Stiles’ body with his own, pressing them together chest to chest, lips touching, but not quite kissing.

“I want you so fucking bad,” he says against Stiles’ mouth. “Are you ready? You want to?” His hand is fumbling down at Stiles’ entrance. Fingers pushing. “You’re fucking soaked –“

“Make me come again,” Stiles says, and it comes out as half a question, half a command. Stiles is not used to telling an alpha what to do, let alone in bed, so it fumbles awkwardly out of his lips. Derek pulls back and looks at him. A steady, heated gaze.

He is smart. Also, Stiles is not subtle. Derek says, “oh, you wanna mess with me, huh?”

Stiles blushes.

“Okay,” Derek agrees around a laugh. “You can toy with me. It’s hot.” He reaches over to where he tossed the toy earlier, picking it back up and shaking his head as he does so. “You’re just gonna make me do this until I crack, is that it?”

“Maybe.”

“Fine,” he grins, caressing the hairs on Stiles’ leg gently. “I love you, you know?”

“I love you, back. Please do it,” he pushes up on his elbows so he can watch this time, mouth open as he pants. “More.”

Derek obliges. He runs it slowly up and down Stiles’ length, and Stiles shivers. It’s a pleasure unlike any other. It feels amazing when Derek uses his hand, yes, and even better when Derek uses his tongue, you bet, and really good when Derek fucks an orgasm out of him via his prostate, absolutely.

But this is a unique, alien type of pleasure. Mechanical, relentless, merciless. It wrings orgasms out of him with no fucks given. It’s almost painful. Maybe that’s the point. The more orgasms he has, the more sensitive he gets, the more powerful his pleasure, the louder he is. He comes and half-screams, gripping onto Derek’s shoulder and screwing his eyes shut.

His stomach is a mess. He’s wet. His t shirt is ruined. Surely he is going to dry out soon.

“Please,” Derek says, taking Stiles by his neck and pulling him in close. A kiss, a lick of his tongue on Stiles’ cheek. “Can I fuck you, now? I’ll do anything.”

Stiles smiles lazily. “Beg me,” he challenges, and Derek meets his eyes.

“I want it so bad,” he promises. It’s not good enough. He goes on, “I’ll eat you out. I’ll go down on you, whatever, just –“

Stiles hugs him. He wraps his arms around Derek’s middle and hugs him close, all the way up against his body – so now Derek’s shirt is stained, too. Derek is physically shaking, his body quivering, because he wants it that badly. Stiles has never felt so sexy in his entire life. He’s obsessed with Derek’s want.

With one hand he opens Derek’s pants. Undoes the belt, the button, the zipper. He sticks his hand down into Derek’s briefs and he feels it. It is so big, hot, hard, precome leaking out of the slit. Derek shakes in his arms at Stiles’ touch, but Stiles will not be mean, will not tease him. He smiles and just feels it, the weight of it on his palm. It’s crazy to think that it’s only his. No one else will ever get to touch it. Just him.

“You’re so pretty,” Derek tells him, voice hot and low. “Please, can I fuck you?”

Stiles nods. He won’t torment Derek any longer. For all he knows, Derek would come untouched just from pure arousal alone and then sex would be totally ruined for both of them. They have tons of time to explore the limits of both of their bodies, but now is not that time.

Derek grabs him by his hips and flips him over. Now that permission has been granted, he has no need to be gentle any longer. He forcibly removes his own pants, just enough that his cock and balls are out, and gets Stiles onto his hands and knees.

Then, he seems to think better of it. He pulls Stiles up again, so that Stiles’ back is pressed against his front, and he mouths mindlessly at Stiles’ neck. It’s wet. Kind of gross. Stiles is turned on enough he does not care, bares his neck even more so Derek has more access.

It’s distracting. Stiles doesn’t notice it at first, but Derek is lining himself up. He feels the hot head of it graze across his cheeks and he bites his lip. It’s so big. It’s really a miracle of god’s creation. Derek is only eighteen but he’s such a man, in all possible ways – Stiles only ever knew he was attracted to alphas in general, but now that he’s with Derek, he knows it’s men in specific. Dicks.

“You’re so fucking pretty,” he says, again. It’s like it’s all he can think about – how pretty, how sexy, how attractive Stiles is. How bad he wants it. He uses his hands to guide his cock forward, towards Stiles’ entrance, and he pushes.

Stiles cries out, and Derek pauses. More open mouthed kissing on Stiles’ neck. To relax him, most likely. Then, he pushes in more, and more, Stiles whining and reaching over his shoulder to grab at Derek’s, for something to squeeze.

Stiles has to arch his back a bit to make it easier – leaning forward as much as he can, and Derek likes that. He pushes all the way in and wraps one arm around Stiles’ chest. His fingers press into Stiles’ underarm, big and beefy and rough, and his other hand grips Stiles’ hip to give him leverage to fuck.

It’s rough. Stiles had pushed Derek to his absolute breaking point, and now he guesses his reward or punishment is this aggressive, desperate fucking that shakes his entire body. Stiles pants and his hand reaches for Derek’s on his hip, curling their fingers together, and Derek lets him. It’s so hard. It’s really, really hard. Stiles likes it. He’s surprised he does, because it’s gonna bruise, it’s gonna hurt later, but he doesn’t even mind.

When Stiles comes, squirting a bit onto the sheets, the arm around Stiles’ chest tightens. He squeezes Stiles hard, tight, the sound of their bodies meeting each other the only sound in the room aside from Derek’s deep grunts and Stiles’ little whines. “I’m gonna come,” Derek says into his neck and Stiles nods. “It’s so good, it’s so good, you’re so good…” he trails off, into a broken kind of moan that makes Stiles’ body shiver. It’s so sexy. Stiles likes that sound a lot, wants to hear it again, and again, and again.

Derek comes and he goes still in Stiles’ body. Both hands trail down Stiles’ front, his chest and stomach still covered by his wet t-shirt, down onto his thighs, then back up again. “Baby,” he kisses the back of Stiles’ neck. His breaths are shallow and quick. “God, I love you. I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Stiles says, quiet.

“That was the best sex I’ve ever had.”

“Better than heat sex?”

“By light years.” His hands are still rubbing all over Stiles’ body, his softening cock buried deep. “Can I have you forever?”

“You sort of already do.”

“I know,” he rests his chin on Stiles’ shoulder and sighs. “I just like to hear you say it. I would stab myself in the stomach for you. I’d feed myself to the lions for you. I’d –“

“I know,” he says. “Let’s lie down, please?”

Derek slowly, carefully, pulls out. His cock bounces free and Stiles leans forward, down onto his hands, before he flips on his back, looking at the ceiling. Derek grabs the covers and pulls them over the both of them as he lies down next to him – he immediately maneuvers Stiles so Stiles’ head is on his chest, cradling Stiles’ body against his like he’s afraid to let go.

He kisses Stiles’ forehead. “What a way to consummate a marriage.”

“Consummation,” Stiles repeats, thoughtful. “Isn’t it weird how marriages were like null and void if you didn’t fuck? Especially omega/alpha marriages, back in the day. It’s like, who cares? What about asexuals?”

“I think back in the day, they didn’t know about asexuals,” Derek muses. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” he raises his eyes to look at Derek’s face. “You keep repeating yourself.”

“I can’t help it. I just…” he gazes at Stiles, and Stiles can see it in his eyes. Love. It’s all over his face. It makes Stiles’ stomach do a backflip, because god, Christ, they’re in love. Deeply in love. It’s everything.

“I’m so happy,” Stiles informs him, very serious for the subject matter. “I know everything is…and some things aren’t right. But I am. Happy. I can’t wait to…college. And living together. And getting our own place. It’s like a fairytale, to me.”

Derek settles deeper into the pillows. “To me, too. You know how you always imagined you’d end up with a beta and making dinner and all that?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I always imagined I’d end up with another alpha.”

Stiles did not know that. He sits up and blinks. “Seriously? You? With an alpha?”

“It sounds weird now, but I’ve only ever dated other alphas,” he smirks.

“What about all the male omega porn you watch?”

“Meeting, let alone fucking, a male omega seemed like an impossibility. Seriously. They don’t grow on trees like alphas and betas do. But then I wonder. If that attraction to them only comes from some weird part of me that always knew I’d find you.”

Stiles has mused over the same thing before. Many times, now. It’s so romantic it sort of makes him want to scream – but instead, he just settles deeper against Derek and shuts his eyes. He’s exhausted.

Derek claps his hands and the lights turn off. Stiles had not known about that feature of Derek’s house, but now he knows, and he’s going to exploit the living shit out of it in the days to come.

They’re quiet for a moment. Derek is just beginning to snore when Stiles sits up, making Derek stir. “Do you mind that I don’t shave my legs?”

“Huh?”

“I know those omegas in porn are like…hairless weirdos. Do you mind that I’m not…?”

“No, of course not,” he shakes his head sleepily. “I like your hair. Go to sleep.”

Stiles settles. Derek is snoring deeply not fifteen seconds later, completely dead to the world, and Stiles watches him sleep. He smiles to himself and bites his index finger, and he cannot believe that this is his life. Not at all.

**

Their first day of school back together is on record as the most Twilight Zone day Stiles has yet experienced since this whole thing began. They decided to treat Derek’s suspension like a mini honeymoon where they just went out to eat and fucked and kissed and held hands and did not do a whole lot else, for days, and days. It was nice. And relaxing. After the weeks that Stiles had leading up to it, something relaxing was definitely what the doctor ordered.

Now, real life has come knocking. Stiles feels weird getting up and dressing in his uniform, tying his tie right next to Derek in his bedroom. Their bedroom. But it still feels strange to call it that. He’s used to his mom leaving out his pressed shirt and pants for him every night, and today, they are wrinkled from the wash. Derek makes a comment on it to tease him and Stiles laughs, but it makes something in him sort of clench. It’s not about whether his clothes are pressed or not.

He just expects to see his mom. She is not here.

Downstairs, Cora has already commandeered the breakfast table – she has a giant mound of scrambled eggs and bacon on her plate, that she’s crunching on as she watches Stiles and Derek come in. Every weekday morning, Talia is up before the sun, and sometimes she wakes Stiles with her puttering around. She does all sorts of shit – being a single mom has made her sort of task oriented and productive. She answers work emails, does laundry, and makes breakfast, all before the kids are even out of bed.

It’s still surprising to Stiles to come down and see a table full of food first thing in the morning. Stiles says, “thank you,” to her, and she gives him a very warm smile. She likes him. She thinks he’s polite and cute, or that’s what Derek tells him.

As they sit, Cora glowers at them. “I wish more than anything else on this earth that you two,” she points between them with a crispy slab of bacon, “would learn how to quietly have sex.”

Stiles is humiliated. He sort of figured Cora might have heard some of their insane love making because he is acutely aware of the fact that it gets, uh, loud, but to actually have her brazenly bring it up at the god damn breakfast nook in front of Talia has Stiles desperate for an escape route.

Derek, however, seems unfazed. “It’s a good thing you can drown us out with the sound of you and your boyfriend having sex. Oh wait…” He grins before grabbing a plate, spooning eggs onto it. Yes, Cora is notoriously single. Stiles has heard tales about how in love she is with, of all people on earth, Derek’s friend Isaac, which makes Derek angry whenever he brings it up.

Cora glowers at him. “I don’t know how you tricked Stiles into marrying you,” she accuses, giving a quick cursory glance in Stiles’ direction. “He’s a twenty out of ten and you are a two at best.”

Derek sets the plate, now piled high with food, in front of Stiles, and reaches to start building his own. “I know that. Luckily Stiles is not vain.”

Stiles has not yet figured out how to traverse conversations between Cora and Derek. They are volatile at best with one another, and usually at the dinner table Stiles has favored saying absolutely nothing because who knows how they’d weaponize his words against each other? Talia never even butts in – right now, she’s reading a magazine, sipping coffee, silent, like the kids aren’t even here.

He pokes at his eggs and says, “I think Derek is a twenty out of ten, too.”

Cora eyeballs him. Stiles does not know if she hates him personally or simply hates everyone. “Don’t you have poor eyesight?”

Stiles does have poor eyesight. He looks to Derek for backup, but he’s pre-occupied, shoveling food into his mouth as though his life depends on it.

Cora stands from the table and collects her backpack from the ground, holding it by the strap so it dangles limply from her hand. “Either soundproof your room or gag him,” she says to Derek with finality, and then she’s gone, traipsing out of the house to drive off to school.

Stiles is embarrassed again, but Derek just snorts and eat his bacon, like he could care less what his sister thinks. “How come you guys don’t get along?” Stiles asks him, and Derek makes a face.

“Who says we don’t get along?”

“Uh – you guys never say a nice word to one another.”

“That’s just being siblings,” he waves his hand and crunches into another huge chunk of his breakfast, “you are an only child. You wouldn’t get it.”

That must be true. Stiles has often been jealous of other kids who have big families or even just one other sibling, because it gets sort of lonely being the only one in the house, or in his case, totally suffocating, being the only one around for his parents to control and manipulate. Now, watching Derek and Cora interact, he thinks he was ultimately better off. What if he had had an alpha for an older brother or something? It would’ve been an absolute nightmare on top of what he already went through.

Outside in the morning light, Derek asks, “you want to take your car or mine?”

This is a question that surprises Stiles. He would’ve figured Derek would always insist on driving his own car, whether Stiles is there with him or not. First of all, it’s a much nicer car, and second of all, he’s the alpha. Stiles hasn’t driven his Jeep since he’s been at Derek’s house, a full week now, and he imagined it would sit and collect dust in the driveway for all eternity. Or Derek would ask him to sell it.

Stiles says, “mine?”

Derek agrees.

They both climb in, throwing their bags into the backseat, and then Stiles sits and observes Derek sitting there in his Jeep for a second. He’s been in here once before, when they were sneaking around, and they kissed and everything and even nearly had sex in here. But he still looks weird in here. Like Stiles’ Jeep is a cartoon and Derek is live action. Like the Garfield movie or something like that.

Stiles starts the ignition and it roars, making Derek raise his eyebrows. “This is what killed the dinosaurs,” he says, and Stiles grins at him.

As he drives, weaving through the streets of suburbia to get them off onto the main road, Derek watches him. Stiles isn’t doing anything that interesting – switching gears and cutting the wheel – but for the way Derek watches him, you’d think he were performing open heart surgery.

“I know this thing is sort of a piece of junk,” he says with a self deprecating smile, “but hey. It runs.”

“You like this car, don’t you?”

“I love this car,” he corrects. Truly, he does. It’s sort of the one good thing that has come out of his childhood, so he clings to it like a stuffed animal – after all, it was something his father couldn’t physically tear apart with his bare hands.

“Then, I like it, too.”

Stiles slows to a red light, turning so they can meet each other’s eyes. Derek smiles and Stiles smiles right back at him because he can’t help it. He makes sure the light is still red before he leans over and kisses him, and Derek kisses him right back.

After Stiles parks and they’re both outside in the parking lot making their way to the school, Derek holds his hand. And it’s insane, because it’s really the smallest possible gesture in the world, but it’s also momentous, in this exact moment. Their fingers intertwined, in front of everyone, the entire school, and they don’t have to hide it.

People stare at them as they walk and they whisper and Stiles is certain that the gossip mill has been churning and churning ever since Derek got suspended and Stiles stopped showing up for a while, but he doesn’t know if everyone knows that they fully got married. Stiles can feel Derek’s wedding ring that Stiles picked out himself pressing against the skin of his own hand, but he doesn’t know if anyone else notices it or not.

Either way, they look. There may not be anything else even half as interesting as Derek and Stiles going on at this school, today.

Derek walks with Stiles to Stiles’ locker first, where he gathers up the books he’ll need for the first few classes of the day, and Allison is at her own locker across the way. She slams hers closed and comes over to them, a shy smile on her face. Probably because she doesn’t really know Derek all that well.

“I thought you two getting married was a dream I had,” she says as she takes in the sight of the two of them standing there. “Even when Scott kept saying it definitely happened I couldn’t wrap my head around it.”

Last she heard, Derek wasn’t even asking Stiles to the idiotic winter dance that’s only three days away, now. Now, here they are, married and holding hands for the world to see. She was definitely half asleep when they signed the paperwork at the courthouse, so it’s not surprising she’s still wrapping her head around all this.

“It still feels like a dream to me, too,” Stiles tells her, and she smiles with all her teeth like she thinks Stiles is just being cutesy. It is sort of cutesy, but he almost means that literally.

Life with Derek so far has been alternate reality style bizarre, for him. A dreamy, hazy existence of sex and food and endless attention showered onto him like he’s the most important person in the world.

No one has ever made Stiles feel like that, before.

Derek is quiet next to them, eyes trailing around the hallway sort of listlessly. Stiles has noticed that about him the more time they spend together - he’s actually not all that talkative with other people. Stiles is certain he likes Allison just fine, because she’s completely harmless and nice, but he’s said maybe four words to her, and they were all after prompting.

“Everyone has been talking about you guys since Derek ripped Hunter’s arm half off,” she says as they all walk in the direction of their shared homeroom. “Everyone thinks that you and Derek, like, had sex in the bathroom or something. It’s a hot story.”

Stiles and Derek definitely have had lots of sex. It just was not in the god damn bathroom – what about that is so sexy an idea to people?

“…news of you two being married is slow to travel, because most people think it sounds too insane to be true. Scott and I haven’t said anything of course, but now I guess…” she gestures to the rock on Stiles’ finger. “Cat’s out of the bag?”

“The cat is out of the bag,” he agrees. Derek holds his hand, but says nothing. When they’re alone, he’s a chatterbox. This is going to take some getting used to. “What’s everyone saying? Do they think it’s weird?”

“Not weird,” she says. “More just…random.”

Random is a very good word for it. Stiles knows that people figured there was something either actually going on or something about to go on between the two of them, because Derek is the only alpha on planet earth Stiles did not viciously snap at for even so much as glancing at him. But they probably all have whiplash now, going from assuming they will ultimately bone to discovering they’re fully fucking married.

In second period Chemistry, Derek makes a big deal to their teacher out of letting Derek and Stiles be lab partners so they can sit together, and then once they’re seated, Derek turns his stool facing Stiles. They hold hands, both hands, pressing their knees together and staring at one another with stupid smiles on their faces.

“Can you two not look at each other like that right in front of me?” Jackson Whittemore bitches from the table behind them – when Stiles looks at him, he finds the other boy looking thoroughly disgusted. “It’s pornographic.”

“We’re just holding hands,” Stiles bitches right back, turning to face him without releasing Derek’s hands. “How’s that pornographic?”

Jackson makes a face at him. “I’m sure you’ve been told this before. Everything you do is pornographic, Stilinski.”

“Then don’t look at him,” Derek barks, and Jackson glowers, but sits and goes silent, pointedly turning away to stare at the opposite wall instead of Stiles and Derek right in front of him.

In French class, Derek makes another big deal out of having his seat moved so he can sit next to Stiles, and it starts all over again. They hold hands and talk to each other in low tones about nothing, nothing at all, and everyone gives them a wide berth or stares at them enviously or just does their level best to ignore them.

It’s nuts, and Stiles really should tell Derek to cool it or at least back off a little with the PDA – but truth be told, Stiles doesn’t want to. He likes it. The constant hand holding and constant kissing and touching and talking is nice. It makes his day feel special even when nothing special at all is happening around him.

At lunch time they set their trays down, sit next to one another at the first empty table they find, and start kissing. They don’t touch their food or even barely think about it before they’re half on top of one another, eating each other’s faces off. Stiles doesn’t care if people are watching, and he can imagine they are and are either turned on or pretending they’re not, but fuck it. It’s fun. He thinks he’s getting pretty good at it - after all, he’s already had tons of practice.

“Stop that,” Erica yells at them when she slaps her own tray onto the table. “Stop it right now.”

They pull apart much to their shared chagrin, but Derek keeps Stiles’ hand hostage, stroking it with his fingers even as he picks up a chicken tender and bites into it.

“All day long I’ve heard nothing else aside from how you two can’t physically restrain yourselves,” she sits and looks angry. She always looks angry. “What’s next? Sex in the locker room?”

“It’s just kissing,” Derek shrugs.

It is not just kissing. They melt into one another like they’re going to become one single unit at every possible chance they get. No wonder people are talking about them.

Boyd and Isaac appear with grunts instead of real greetings, as Stiles peers down at his school lunch. The first school lunch he’s had since middle school. He pokes at his chicken, but it doesn’t look very good, so he picks up a fry and eats that first. It’s all right.

“If you think that’s bad, wait until taco day,” Isaac tells him, smirking. “It’s like dog food.”

Stiles makes a face and picks apart his chicken with his fingers. Maybe his dad had a point about not letting him eat school lunches – this is like child abuse.

He sees Scott and Allison coming from across the room and he perks up, turning to Derek and asking, “can Scott and Allison come sit?”

“Don’t ask me shit like that,” Derek says for only the zillionth time. “Obviously, they can.”

“Uh, says who?” Erica narrows her eyes. “McCall can’t fucking read.”

“He can read,” Stiles says, baffled. “Is there a rumor Scott can’t read? He can definitely read.”

“What I mean is, he’s an idiot.”

Stiles can’t deny that, so he just changes trajectories. “He’s nice.”

In spite of Erica’s protests, Scott and Allison do come over and sit. It’s weird at first, because this is definitely the meeting of two entirely different worlds, and Stiles really isn’t sure if they’re all going to get along, but it’s not so bad. Everyone already knows each other at least in passing so there’s no need for introductions, but it’s quiet at first.

Derek is absolutely no help. He just sits there and eats, holding Stiles’ hand, no commentary, no ice breakers. Isaac and Erica both frown, and Boyd looks like he could care less whether they go the rest of the lunch period in dead silence. Derek has said many times over Boyd is his best friend out of his three friends, but Stiles has yet to see them exchange words.

Stiles imagines they hang out and just sit in silence together.

Naturally, Scott speaks first. “Dude, everyone is talking about you guys. I heard you two had sex in the janitor’s closet during fourth period.”

Stiles laughs out loud. “Unfortunately not.”

“I figured, but that’s crazy! Apparently they have nothing else to talk about!”

“Apparently,” Erica agrees a little pointedly, sarcasm dripping from her every orifice, but Scott is oblivious.

“And, get this, I saw your mom leaving your house last night. Like, bags packed and everything.”

That makes Stiles freeze. He finishes what he has in his mouth and stiffens, turning his body to face Scott all the way. “She left?”

Immediately, the easy going grin on Scott’s face fades away. He furrows his brow and says, “are you guys not speaking? Did you not know that?”

Stiles looks at his food. No, they are not speaking, and no, he did not know his mother was planning on leaving his father. It figures, and it makes sense, but it’s still a lot to take in. In spite of everything that has happened since Stiles presented, all the bullshit and the fighting and everything else, those are still his parents. The original evidence of real love that Stiles ever had, the first people he saw when he opened his eyes to the world as a baby.

It gives him no pleasure to know they are separated. In fact, it makes him sad.

“I’m sorry,” Scott says, reaching out to put his hand on Stiles’ back. “I didn’t – I wasn’t –“

“It’s okay,” Stiles assures him, because it is, and he has a big blabber mouth and doesn’t always think before he speaks, so Stiles is used to it. But he keeps his gaze pointed down, picking the skin off his chicken tenders bit by bit, and no one says anything for a second. Stiles knows they all feel bad for him. Derek squeezes his hand harder.

“Let’s talk about something else,” Derek suggests, and they all do.

Stiles doesn’t say anything else for the rest of lunch period.

**

Talia gave Stiles a brand new phone as a welcoming gift, on account of his old phone being trapped in the safe in his father’s house, so he doesn’t have much of anyone’s numbers. He has Derek’s and Talia’s and Scott’s and Allison’s, but no one else’s. Not even his father’s or his mother’s. It’s not as though he can call either one of them and ask what’s going on. He could go back to his house, but the reality is, he is afraid to go back there.

He’s just not ready to go back there. Maybe one day – but then, Stiles does not know any longer what the future holds. He has Derek, but Derek is his only sure thing. Everything else is different, now, changed, for the better. But still different. And that’s always hard.

He could call the station and get patched through to his dad. But he’s afraid his dad wouldn’t take the call. In spite of everything, that would hurt. His father does still have the power to hurt him, even now.

“I’ll go with you,” Derek offers, watching from the edge of the bed as Stiles pulls his hoody on and zips it up. “Seriously. I don’t like the idea of you going there alone.”

“It would be even worse if I showed up with you,” and Derek knows that it’s true, because he shuts his mouth and looks away, jaw tense. Derek doesn’t very much the like the idea of Stiles going anywhere alone, and frankly, Stiles isn’t nuts about not being around Derek even for a single hour, but this is one of those things he absolutely has to do alone.

“Are you sure you even want to talk to him? After all the shit he pulled?”

“I just need to know what’s going on. It’s my family.”

“They’ve never treated you like you’re their son,” he insists.

“They did. Before.”

“But that’s not –“

“I’m going either way,” he says, and Derek shuts his mouth. It would the easiest thing in the world for him to stand up and forbid Stiles from doing this, banish him to this room, keep him locked up here, never letting Stiles leave. He has the power to do exactly that. In the eyes of the law, Derek could even hit Stiles, if he felt like he had to.

Derek just doesn’t think like that. It would never even occur to him to give Stiles an order, that way. So he’s not happy about this, but he makes absolutely no moves to truly stop Stiles from doing it.

“Believe me, I would rather ask my mother. But I don’t even know where she is,” he says, and Derek frowns.

He gestures with both hands, before holding his arms open wide. “Come here,” his voice is low. Stiles moves immediately to him, into his arms, where Derek wraps him up tight and holds him, pressing his face into Stiles’ neck and inhaling him completely. “I’m sorry.”

Stiles hugs him and sighs. He is sorry, too.

“Just…If Parrish is there –“

“If he’s there I’ll avoid him. He can’t do or say anything to me, anyway,” he pulls out of the hug and smiles, though it doesn’t reach his eyes. “I’m a married omega, remember? Touching me without my alpha’s permission is grounds for jail time.”

“Or grounds for my hands squeezing the life out of him.”

“I wouldn’t stop you,” Stiles laughs, running his hand through Derek’s hair. “Don’t worry. I’ll be in and out.”

**

Stiles parks outside the station and he shuts his ignition off, pushing his keys into his pocket and then setting his hands in his lap. He stares at the building, the surrounding trees, the familiarity of it bringing back a thousand memories. Stiles remembers he used to love coming here, and he even used to have real ambitions of being a cop just like his dad. He wanted to help people and be powerful and have a gun – which is as complex as his ten year old brain could ever manage to imagine what the job would actually be like.

He wanted to be like his dad. He doesn’t know what happened to that. Where it went. His dad was his role model and hero and then overnight, it all got taken away from him. It still feels like his fault. It still feels like he did something wrong, just by being born with the stupid omega gene.

Inside, the officer at the front double takes him, jaw dropping a bit, before she attempts to school her expression back to indifference. Everyone here probably knows exactly what happened, and everyone knows what Stiles did to his family, and they all probably hate him for it. He can’t exactly blame them. Stiles puts on a brave face and clears his throat, approaching her desk warily.

“Is my dad in?”

She blinks at him. “He is,” she says evenly. “You remember where his office is.”

Stiles nods. She glares at him a bit, eyes flicking to the ring on his finger, but she says absolutely nothing else to him. It’s better than Stiles would have expected.

In the actual station with all the officer’s desks lined up and all of them walking around or sitting around, it quiets down a bit when they notice him. He tries to keep his head down as he walks, but they stare, and they resent him, and they hate him. They’re implicitly on his dad’s side. They think Stiles was an insolent omega who ran off with some asshole and ruined his entire family’s life – especially now since Claudia left, he really is not looking good to these people.

But he does notice Jordan is not among them. The desk Stiles remembers as being his, the one where Jordan threatened him after the party at Lydia Martin’s, is empty and cleaned off. It’s no one’s desk now.

He hesitates at the door marked with his father’s name. His hand hovers over the knob and he grits his teeth. It’s harder than he would like it to be, just to go and talk to his own father. And it is not fair.

All the same, he opens the door and walks inside, and they meet eyes.

The Sheriff is surprised. He puts down his pen immediately at the sight of his son, sitting up straight, lips parting. He may have thought he would either never see Stiles again or at least not see him for a very good long time.

The last words they exchanged were not pleasant.

Stiles closes the door behind himself and he blinks. “You fired Jordan?”

“I did,” he says, but he says nothing else. No apology for not believing Stiles in the first place, no admission of guilt – not even an acknowledgment for the fact that he tried to force Stiles to marry a man who certainly would have made his life a living hell. Just those two words, and Stiles would expect nothing more and nothing less.

Stiles moves farther into the room and hovers for a moment, not sure where to start, or what to say. His dad sits there and is silent, just looking at his son. They stopped knowing how to speak to one another a very long time ago. It’s not just what Stiles has done. It’s everything. Year’s worth of backlogged transgressions that make conversations between the two of them feel like navigating a minefield.

“I really am in love with him,” Stiles says, choosing to start there before going anywhere else. “I didn’t…it wasn’t. Something I did just to be…I wasn’t being spiteful. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. It’s just that you were going to – and he would’ve beat me? And I was in love with an alpha and I knew you’d never approve and I just had to get out of there. I didn’t want to hurt anybody but…” he trails off.

The Sheriff is still and quiet, listening. Stiles doesn’t know what he’s thought about this entire thing; if he thought it was vindictive of Stiles to do it or if he thought Stiles was just acting out and rebelling, or what. At the time he convinced himself it didn’t matter what the Sheriff thought, but of course, it does matter. It matters to him.

Stiles ripped their family apart. Of course it matters what his father thinks. But he still isn’t talking. Maybe he has nothing to say. It’s fair and unfair at the same time, this silence.

“Really, I just came to ask where mom went,” he looks away and frowns, scratching at his cheek.

“Beats the hell out of me,” he mutters, frowning. “She took off when my back was turned, just like you.”

Stiles doesn’t know what to say to that. He looks away, and his eyes land on the picture frames his father has on his desk. They are mostly pictures of Stiles, the ones that Parrish might have seen that initially had him interested in the first place – Stiles moves and picks an older one up, holding it in his hands and observing it closely.

It’s of Stiles when he was maybe nine or ten, holding up a fish on a line, the first he ever caught. He’s grinning ear to ear, the happiest kid in the world, and it’s hard not to smile, looking at it. “I really loved going fishing with you,” he says, holding the picture out for his dad to see as though he doesn’t look at this picture every single day. “Then you stopped taking me and I didn’t understand why. You stopped doing anything with me. You know, that really hurt me.”

The Sheriff shakes his head. “You changed,” he shrugs, like it’s that simple.

“I didn’t, though. I didn’t. I still would’ve gone with you, but you treated me like I was…not your kid anymore.”

“I looked out for you,” he argues, like Stiles just doesn’t get it. “I couldn’t take my omega son out on the lake, or to baseball games, or any of it. It’s just not – you just don’t do that.”

Stiles spent the vast majority of his early omega years having his things taken away, being told that he wasn’t allowed to do what he liked anymore, being cooped up in the house while other kids got to play and go to camp and go swimming. Stiles had to sit and learn to be quiet, for his own good. Alphas will beat mouthy omegas, his dad would say. It was all in Stiles’ best interest to be small and quiet and to understand his place in the world.

“Well, you ruined our relationship in the process,” he says. “And your marriage.”

“Is that what you came here for? To rub salt in the wound?”

“I came here because my parents are getting divorced,” he snaps. “And you want to say it’s all my fault, you’ve probably told everyone here it’s my fault, but you know it isn’t. You tried to cage me up and then you tried to pawn me off on someone else. It wasn’t right. You ruined my life.”

“I was trying to-“

“No,” he interrupts, shaking his head. “There’s nothing else to say. You ruined my life. Full stop. Now I have to relearn how to exist, because of what you did to me.”

Stiles doesn’t want to stand here trading barbs with his dad any longer. There is a lot that his father still has yet to realize or understand, and it’s not Stiles’ responsibility to help him get there. He needs to do it on his own. Stiles is unsure if he will ever be able to have a relationship with his father, any kind of relationship, even one that only boils down to emails.

Too much has happened. It has left a void in his life and his heart to have no real family left, but it is what it is. You can’t just undo or forget about years of emotional abuse, no matter the fact that the abuser genuinely believed what they were doing was the right thing.

He turns to leave, and then pauses with his hand on the doorknob. He says, “thank you for firing Jordan.”

He doesn’t wait for a response. He closes the door behind him and he ignores everyone’s stares as he walks out, shoulders bunched up.

It felt both good and bad to say all those things to his dad; good, because it was the truth, and it always feels better when the truth comes out. And bad, because it hurts to admit it. Hurts even worse to know it.

He knows it is not his fault he’s an omega. And he even more knows that the way society has decided to treat their omegas isn’t fair. It’s wrong. His dad was wrong and the world is wrong but all Stiles had ever done was try to find a place where he was allowed to exist in the world.

Now he’s found it. Of course they all hate him for that.

Stiles wonders if his mom is just gone and gone for good. He wonders if she thinks that now that Stiles has a new life and a new family, he doesn’t need her anymore, or if she feels guilty and can’t face Stiles in the wake of everything that has happened. She always promised she’d try to make his life better.

She failed, more than once. But Stiles doesn’t blame her. He wishes he could talk to her and tell her that he’s not angry with her and that he wants her and needs her in his life, but she’s gone, and now he has to live with that.

He sits in his Jeep for a while afterwards. He thought this would’ve given him closure. Saying that stuff to his dad and knowing his parents are getting divorced and that Jordan is gone – that should’ve given him a sense of the book closing. But it didn’t. Maybe nothing ever will. It may be an open wound for the rest of his life.

At least he has someone who listens to him and supports everything he does. Stiles drives back to Derek’s house and goes immediately up to his bedroom, where Derek is playing video games, and he sits next to him on the love seat and tells him what happened and that he may never see his mom again and Derek kisses him and tells him it’ll all be okay. He doesn’t tell Stiles what to do, or how to be, or what to think. He just holds him and loves him. That’s all he really has to do.

**

Stiles and Derek come home from school one afternoon and do their usual after school routine; they dump their backpacks by the door, take their shoes off, and then immediately go to the kitchen to get something to eat. Mostly Derek is the only one who craves snacks after school – because he’s a giant and an athlete that needs constant food or else he withers up and dies – so Stiles usually just gets a lemonade or something, and they stand in there talking and goofing around until it’s time to do homework or play video games or fuck, depending on the day.

Today, Talia is there. She’s typically at work this time of day so it’s surprising to see her. She has a letter in her hands, and when the boys walk in, she smiles at them. “Look what came,” she says, placing the letter face up on the kitchen island and sliding it over to Derek.

Derek looks at it, reads the return address, and sucks in a deep breath. Stiles looks at it as well – and when he sees what it is, he gets excited. It’s from Derek’s top choice school, Beacon University.

They have spent lots, and lots, and lots of time talking about that school. They go on Google and look at pictures of the dorms and pick which one they’d want to stay in, read the reviews for the on campus coffee places to see which one is better, fantasize about the dining hall and endless ice cream, on and on and on. It’s their obsession. Derek has already gotten into one of his safety schools, so both of them know that they’re definitely going to college, but this one is different.

Derek has apparently wanted to go to Beacon since he was in elementary school. It has the best architecture program, which is important to him, because he wants to do that for a living. It’s baffling to Stiles whenever Derek talks about it, because he really doesn’t get it, but he likes to watch Derek talk about it because he gets so serious and into it; Stiles could listen to him talk about it forever, honestly. Case and point, this is a big, big deal. A huge deal.

He picks the envelope up and cradles it for a second. Then, he sits on one of the stools and puffs out a tormented sigh. “I can’t open it.”

“I can,” Stiles rips it out of his hand, and pauses. “Want me to?”

Derek presses his hand over his mouth, eyes going far away. He is probably flipping the fuck out in his head. He says nothing.

“Open it,” Talia says to Stiles, and Stiles complies quickly. He tears at it, and Derek winces at the sound, sighing again. There is probably nothing worse than the idea of not going to this particular school to him. He sits there and stares blankly across the kitchen, as Stiles pulls the letter out and unfolds it.

Stiles reads. He smiles. He holds the paper out for Derek to take it and says, “you got in.”

“You are fucking with me,” he snaps, ripping the paper out of Stiles’ hand to read it himself. He reads exactly what Stiles had, Dear Mr. Hale, we are pleased to inform you…and he deflates, all tension leaving his body immediately. “Oh, thank fuck…”

Talia comes around the island and hugs him, rocking him back and forth, before pulling away and kissing him on the cheek. “I’m so proud of you,” she tells him, holding his face in both her hands. “I can’t believe you’re going to college. Both of you,” she looks to Stiles, and smiles at him.

Derek reads the paper again and again, reaching his arm out to pull Stiles against his body, like he cannot have this moment in his life without Stiles being a part of it. “I can’t believe it,” he says, laying the paper out flat on the island just to stare at it some more. “We’re going to Beacon.”

“We’ll go out to celebrate tonight,” Talia tells them. “How about Tarantino’s? Stiles, isn’t that your favorite?”

Stiles nods, only half listening to her. Derek and Talia start talking over his head about dinner and what to eat and how exciting it all is, but Stiles tunes them out. He stares at that paper and he feels light – he is going to college. And neither of them even pause to stop and think about it, neither of them say maybe Stiles shouldn’t tag along. It’s just a given, of course Stiles is allowed to go, of course Stiles is going to live with Derek in the dorms, of course Stiles will go to Derek’s classes and maybe even get to take a couple on his own if Derek agrees to it and does the appropriate paperwork, which he will.

This has been an impossibility for so much of his life. And now he’s going, no questions asked. Stiles’ eyes get wet and he wipes at them, sniffling and shaking his head. He can’t believe it.

They won’t give him a real degree and some of the professors may not even grade his work, and he knows some kids will think he shouldn’t even be there even just to be with his husband, but he doesn’t care, right now. He’s going, and everyone who told him he couldn’t can go fuck themselves.

Derek hugs him and kisses his forehead. “Are you happy?” He asks, and Stiles nods. Yes, he’s happy. He is so god damn happy.