The first day of Stiles Stilinski’s life begins with a hangover. Yesterday he graduated from high school and turned eighteen on the same day, so at least it’s a well-earned hangover, but shit.
“I think I’m dying,” he says past the fuzzy roar in his ears when he meets his friends for coffee at noon.
“You should be.” Lydia wrinkles her nose and takes a dainty sip of her latte, looking so perfectly poised nobody would have guessed she’d matched Stiles shot-for-shot last night. “You were completely out-of-control.”
“It was his birthday,” Scott protests, on Stiles’s side as always.
“So how does it feel, Stilinksi?” Jackson is Stiles’s least favorite friend, the one he hopes sort of drops off now that high school is over, but he looks at Stiles with eyes uncommonly bright and attentive. “Being a big, grown-up omega now?”
Ah. That’s why Jackson’s being nice.
“I’m not any different than I was two days ago,” Stiles tells him, trying to keep his voice cool.
Jackson shakes his head. He’s kind of been puffing out his chest all morning, unconsciously trying to impress the omega in the room. “Well, your scent is. Kind of clouded by all the shit you poured into your body last night, but still. I’m surprised you weren’t accosted by Alphas the whole way over here.”
“Some of us are just better at controlling it than you,” Scott mutters, but he scoots his chair a little closer to Stiles’s, protecting him from the unwanted attention. Something he definitely wouldn’t have done two days ago.
Stiles sighs. He knew this would happen as soon as he went off his blockers. Omegas are required to take them once they hit puberty, to protect them from Alphas who can’t control themselves, but the blockers end as soon as an omega comes of age. Personally, Stiles thinks it would be better to teach Alphas how to control themselves, rather than putting it all on the omegas, but who ever listens to him? He’s been off the blockers for almost forty-eight hours and every minute he can feel himself becoming more omega. It sucks.
“Don’t get used to it,” he tells Jackson, taking a gulp of his coffee, which is weirdly good today. “Right after this I’m going to the clinic and I’m getting my first OmaEsterin dose.”
Jackson’s mouth falls open. “You’re what?”
Stiles shrugs. “Look, I was salutatorian of our graduating class. I’m going to college in the fall, not mated to the first Alpha who wants to drag me into the kitchen and keep me there. I’m staying on birth control until I’m ready to have kids, not until the state or the Alphas in my life decide it’s time for me to get knocked up.”
Jackson looks almost devastated. “But…but OmaEsterin blocks everything. Your scent, your heat…I mean, after having all of that kept from you for years, don’t you want to enjoy it?”
“No,” Stiles says flatly. “I want to enjoy life.”
Jackson shakes his head. His face is a little pinched and disapproving now. He takes a bite of his pastry and speaks around the crumbs: “Well, it just seems like a huge waste to me.”
Stiles feels his eyes flash. Now that he’s off the blockers they flash gold, not blue, which ruins the effect, but he can’t help it. He’s pissed. “So sorry I find my needs more important than your knot, man.”
“Your needs are all related to my knot, omega. Or did the salutatorian fail biology?”
“Fuck off,” Stiles and Scott say simultaneously, both flashing their eyes at Jackson. Scott’s bright red ones actually shut Jackson up for, like, half a second.
“Don’t pretend you support him, Scott. You’re an alpha too. He’s practically your omega, and the drugs are going to take him away from you. You should be trying to talk him out— ”
“Is there a problem here?”
A shadow falls over the table and they all look up to see the barista, the guy who made the first good coffee Stiles has ever had here. He barely spoke when they ordered, just kept his head ducked and grunted out the price, and Stiles had felt like he just didn’t belong behind the counter. Now, getting his first good look at the guy, Stiles realizes that he was right. This guy belongs in Hollywood or Parisian runways, not working at the cheapest eatery in Beacon Hills. He’s so gorgeous Stiles wants to flash gold eyes at him until the Alpha is smiling down at him. If a mouth that hardly-set is even capable of smiling.
And he smells good. Really good. The blockers used to prevent Stiles from recognizing Alphas by scent, and now that they’re out of his bloodstream he’s been catching little whiffs of people and realizing right off the bat whether they’d be a compatible mate.
Apparently this guy is very compatible. He’s also completely out of Stiles’s league, and is currently glaring at the four of them as if he wants to throw them out on their ears.
“No problem, man,” Jackson says. “Unless you’re starting one.”
The guy’s eyes narrow and Stiles can see just the slightest hint of red bleed in, but he controls himself. “No fighting in the café,” he says gruffly before he turns and stalks away.
“What was that, Jackson?” Lydia snaps as soon as he’s gone. “Are you going to start a pissing contest with everyone today?”
“You guys don’t know who that is?” Jackson looks around at all of them, evidently delighted when they shake their heads in tandem. “That’s Derek Hale!”
“Derek Hale. Of the Hale family? Hale werewolves? Hale family fire? Hello?”
Stiles’s eyes widen. The Hales had been one of the most influential families in Beacon Hills for years, one of the few who were actually full-shift werewolves. The Hale house had burned down years and years ago, killing everyone inside. It had been a huge, terrible tragedy, so awful and shocking the ruined house still stands like a monument to the lives lost. “Where has he been all this time?”
“Running from the law.” Jackson points an accusing finger at Stiles. “You should know about this. Your dad’s the sheriff. They thought maybe he set the fire, for, like the longest time, and then he killed a bunch of people up in Kitoosie…”
“That’s what I heard, anyway. He’s crazy. He’s been living on his own, all feral and shit, but I guess he wanted to come home. I can’t believe they let him work here. I’ll have to tell my dad.”
Stiles’s watch beeps and he stands up. Derek the feral murdering barista isn’t behind the counter anymore, and Stiles almost feels sad that he’ll never be able to smell him again. Fuck, that’s weird. His birth control shot can’t come fast enough. “Well, this has been fun, but I’ve got my appointment. Hasta la later.”
“You’re making a mistake!” Jackson yells at him.
Stiles flips him off and keeps walking.
As Stiles climbs into his car, he notices Derek walking across the parking lot towards him. He scowling and staring at the ground and Stiles gulps. Had he overheard Jackson?
Stiles peers through his rearview mirror as he slowly backs out of his parking spot. Derek is still walking. Derek is still not looking at him. Derek is getting into his own car.
Stiles drives out of the parking lot, Derek right behind him. The shitty, beat-up old jeep Derek is driving stays behind Stiles for almost three miles before Stiles starts to feel a little bit freaked out.
Is Derek following him?
Stiles pulls onto the interstate and Derek stays on his tail. When Stiles takes his exit, Derek does too.
Stiles start to speed up.
He knows that it’s stupid to be afraid of werewolves. They’ve just evolved faster than anyone else— scientists think that in five hundred years, everyone will be a werewolf. The human race has already evolved into alpha/beta/omega markers and everything that comes with those biological changes. Werewolves can actually shift into full-body wolves, but they’re good at controlling it. They’re just like everyone else in every way that matters.
That’s what Stiles’s dad has always said, at least, and Stiles tries to be tolerant. But now a werewolf is following him and he’s a little bit terrified.
When he turns into the clinic parking lot and Derek does too, he almost has a heart attack. He shuts off the car and locks the door, then reaches for his phone. If he calls his dad, a squad will be here in, like, two minutes.
He watches through the window as Derek gets out of his car and walks inside the clinic, not even glancing over at Stiles.
Derek hadn’t been following him.
They’d just been going to the same place.
Stiles drops his phone, feeling like a world-class moron.
Stiles doesn’t go in for his appointment until twenty-minutes past his start time, and when he does he’s greeted by a harried-looking doctor who apologizes that the clinic is so under-staffed.
“So, you’re eighteen?” The doctor scans the page briefly. “Congratulations. I assume you’re here for heat stabilizers?”
“No, birth control.”
“Wait, you want birth control? Do you mean fertility drugs?”
“No. I want OmaEsterin. One dose a year for complete omega suppression.” Stiles fights to tamper down his anger when the doctor just stares at him like he’s some sort of monster.
“That blocks your heats, your omegas senses, and your omega markers to alphas,” the man tells him a little condescendingly.
The doctor shrugs and presses a button on the wall intercom. “Jess, I need a dose of OmaEsterin in room 300.”
A stressed-out voice comes through in a crackly burst. “I have your samples done for the patient in 291, what should I— ”
“Bring those to me, too.” The doctor gives Stiles a false smile. “I have to check on another patient. You hold tight.”
Stiles leans back and closes his eyes. The wait turns into another twenty minutes, and Stiles is ready to hop off the bed and go find his doctor when the door finally opens and an intern comes in.
“Sorry, Dr. Lunger got called away. Mr. Stilinksi, right?”
“Right. You have my birth-control shot?”
The doctor holds up a syringe. “Right here.”
“This needs to be injected directly into your anal gland,” the intern says apologetically. “It’s a little painful.”
“Lay it on me.” Stiles flips over and pulls his hospital gown up to his waist. There’s a bright, excruciating pinch, making him grit his teeth, but it quickly fades to a throbbing and then to almost nothing.
“You’re all set.” The intern takes off his gloves and throws them in the trash. “Your omegas senses should be completely blocked by tomorrow morning. Coming so soon after the blockers, you may experience some nausea, but it’s nothing to worry about.”
“Have a good day,” the intern says absent-mindedly, already flipping to a new page on his clipboard for the next patient.
“Hey, dad,” Stiles says at dinner that night. “What do you know about Derek Hale?”
Stiles’s father, the Sherriff of Beacon Hills, freezes with his fork halfway to his lips. “Why?”
“Well, he’s working at the Coffee Karma now, and we were there today— ”
“Did he hurt you?”
“What? No. Not at all. But Jackson was talking about him, and said he killed some people, or something?”
“Jackson should keep his mouth shut.” The sheriff takes a bite of the tofu casserole Stiles made for dinner, scowling. “The law has already dealt with Derek Hale. If he doesn’t give people a reason to distrust him, they should let him be.”
“So it’s true?”
“It’s none of your business, kiddo. Hale’s had a hard life, and he’s only a few years older than you. He’s got a lot to deal with without worrying about rumors.” The sheriff chews thoughtfully. “But…stay away from him, all right? You have a habit of sticking your nose where it doesn’t need to be, and that’s one place I don’t want you messing around.”
“No problem.” Stiles goes back to his dinner, putting thoughts of Derek Hale out of his mind. He’ll never have to smell the guy again if he doesn’t want to. Handsome, moody alphas aren’t going to distract Stiles now. He’s eighteen, loaded up on birth control, and free from high school.
The Summer of Stiles starts now.
As it turns out, the Summer of Stiles starts with throwing up.
A lot of throwing up.
When Stiles had heard nausea, he’d assumed he’d maybe be a little dizzy, a little off-balance in the mornings for a few days. He really hadn’t anticipated vomiting every morning and usually at least twice more throughout the day.
Three weeks after his shot, he’s lying in his bed, too miserable to move. The throwing up started the week after the injection, but it’s just getting worse. At this rate he’s going to spend the entire summer sick.
He’s too old to whine, but fuck, it’s not fair.
Scott and Jackson stop by to offer some emotional support after Stiles misses the beach trip they’d all had planned. They smell like salt water and sunscreen, but Stiles is pleased to find that they don’t smell like alpha too much anymore. When he asks, they tell him he smells different, too.
“You don’t smell like an omega,” Jackson tells him, inhaling deeply. “But…I don’t know. You don’t smell like you did on the blockers, either. It’s weird. Kind of nice, I think? I don’t know. It smells like…I don’t want to get too close.”
“No, I know what he means.” Scott sniffs, then leans back. “Must be the way the drug works. It’s like, telling me you’re off-limits.”
“Told you you shouldn’t have done it,” Jackson tells him smugly. “It’s completely fucking up your body chemistry.”
“Get out,” Stiles says, too tired to argue.
After five weeks, Stiles has had enough. He’s constantly sick, his back hurts, he’s bloated, and, most annoyingly, he’s depressed. Stiles never gets depressed, but he just feels like he doesn’t want to get out of bed. These aren’t side effect he was warned about, and he’s going to do something about it.
He drags himself to the phone and calls the clinic. “Hi,” he says when the receptionist picks up. “I got an OmaEsterin shot there five weeks ago, and I’m having weird side effects.”
“Do you remember who treated you?”
“A doctor and an intern, I think. Doctor Lunger and…someone else.”
Stiles waits, listening to the jangly waiting music, until a male voice comes over the line.
“Yeah, hi. I got an OmaEsterin shot five weeks ago and it’s made me really sick.”
“Nausea is normal after a dose— ”
“This is more than nausea, though. I’m constantly throwing up, I have weird pains in my back, I’m, like, really down all the time in a way that isn’t normal for me…oh, yesterday I ate seven donuts in one sitting. I threw them all up, but it was this super weird hunger pang I’ve never felt before.”
The doctor pauses. “Can you refresh me on your name and the date you were treated?”
“Stiles Stilinski. May 23rd. You ordered the shot and someone else actually gave it to me.”
The doctor sounds a little ill. “Can you refresh me on your symptoms, please?”
Stiles does so, and there’s an even longer pause.
“Mr. Stilinski, I’m going to need you to come into the clinic so we can run some tests. Could you come with a parent or alpha tomorrow at noon?”
Stiles frowns. Tomorrow is his father’s day off, so he can make it, but he’s a little wary of the doctor’s tone. “I guess.”
The line goes dead.
Stiles tries not to be scared as his father turns the car into the clinic parking lot. “I’m sure it’s nothing,” his dad says for like the hundredth time, patting Stiles’s leg soothingly as he searches for a parking spot.
But what if it’s not nothing? What if there’s something really wrong with him? Like…like…
Like the cancer that took his mom away years ago. He doesn’t like to think about that, but he remembers the way she faded away right before his eyes.
He doesn’t want to die, and he really doesn’t want to die like that.
When they get inside the clinic they’re quickly directed to a private waiting room. “The doctor will be with you in just a moment,” the receptionist tells them, shutting the door soundly behind her.
“Did you see the way she looked at me?” Stiles starts pacing, rubbing his stomach when it starts to roil. “I’m dying.”
“You’re not dying, son.”
“That’s the way you look at someone who’s dying.”
“Stiles, she’s a receptionist. They don’t tell her jack. It’s against HIPPA to share your medical information with her.” Sheriff Stilinski sighs. “You’re making me tired with all that pacing, buddy. Come sit.”
“I can’t. I’m scared, dad.” Stiles squeezes his eyes shut, feeling so awful he wants to sink into the floor.
The door opens and Stiles is hit by a wave of scent so overpowering he stumbles. There’s a sudden, shocked intake of breath from the doorway, and then Stiles is being scooped up in an embrace.
It’s so sudden he kind of shrieks, and then his dad is yelling, and everything is so overwhelming that it takes Stiles several seconds to realize what’s happened.
Derek Hale is holding him.
Derek Hale practically broke the sound barrier so he could get to Stiles and sweep him up in his arms.
And now Derek is pressing Stiles face into his chest and growling at Stiles’s dad, who has one hand on his gun and the other hand stretched out towards Derek.
“Mr. Hale,” Sheriff Stilinski says in his sternest voice. “Put down my son, or I will shoot you.”
Derek hisses and moves, just a little, turning Stiles away from his father. Protecting him, Stiles realizes sickly. So he won't accidentally get hit if his dad shoots.
“Dad, he’s not hurting me,” Stiles manages to say, words muffled by Derek’s chest. It’s true. Derek’s arms are incredibly gentle, and, honestly, Stiles almost wants to cling to him. The shaky, sad, sick way he’s been feeling for five weeks has almost disappeared.
But he’s being cradled like a baby by a complete stranger. A stranger who is, if the rumors are true, a murderer.
“Put him down,” the sheriff repeats, eyes steely.
Derek growls again.
“Derek,” Stiles says, feeling a little weird at addressing him by name when they’ve never technically been introduced. “My dad will shoot, okay? Put me down.”
Derek blinks at him, and a little bit of reason come back onto his eyes. He sets Stiles carefully on his feet and shakes his head, bewildered.
“Who are you?” he whispers. “Why do you smell like…” His eyes flash red as he struggles to put the concept into words. “Like my mate?”
Stiles gapes at him. “I smell like what?”
Derek reaches out to him. His hand is trembling, eyes wide and a little scared. “You smell like my mate. Like I’ve been mated to you for years. But I don’t even know you. What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” Stiles says. He folds his arms around his middle and blinks back tears. “I have no idea what’s happening.”
At the sight of his tears Derek’s eyes bleed red again and he wraps his arms around Stiles. The sheriff steps close but it’s obvious that Stiles isn’t being hurt. Instead Derek cuddles him, making a comforting rumbling sound in his chest. As he keeps inhaling Stiles’s scent his wolf seems to come closer and closer to the surface, until he’s mumbling words without even apparently being aware of what he’s saying: “Shh. Don’t cry. Don’t be sad. You’re safe. So safe here. I’ll take care of you. Gonna be right here. Gonna take such good care of you and the cub. Don’t cry— ”
Stiles pulls away, shocked. “What did you just say?”
Derek stares down at him, obviously just as stunned by his own words.
From the open doorway, someone clears his throat. They all turn to see Dr. Lunger and a nurse staring at them. “You can cancel that blood test,” the doctor says to the nurse. “I think we have our answer.”
“Doctor?” Stiles swallows hard. “Am I…am I pregnant?”
The doctor grimaces. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am for this mistake,” he starts.
Derek catches him just before he hits the floor.