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And You Say You're Alone

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It takes one night for everything to change. Just one night.

Not the night Scott gets bitten. That changes everything, too, but Stiles handles that just fine. Instead, the night Gerard Argent decides to kidnap Stiles is what flips their new definition of normal on its head. Stiles doesn't like talking about it, which is unusual for him, though his brain never allows him to stop thinking about it.

Kind of like how he doesn’t talk about her but is always thinking about his mom. Dealing, adjusting... well, it's not really his thing. Ignoring, that he can do.

And so he does.

But the night in question goes like this:

Gerard Argent is an ancient douchebag. Stiles could pretty much leave it at that and it would be enough. But there’s more.

More. Like Chris Argent taking exception to torturing a kid. A human kid. When clearly Gerard doesn't mind it at all. It ends about as well as that particular disagreement was ever going to. Gerard dies. Chris survives. And the shock of watching her father put five bullets into her grandfather seems to break Allison out of whatever crazy place she'd been inhabiting of late.

Stiles is still tied to the chair, staring down at the bullet riddled body of the man who just spent most of an entire day beating him, cutting him. He feels alarmingly numb, his head swimming. As if now, with the immediate threat gone, his body is going to hibernate through the pain.

Allison breaks into sobs on her father's chest- no worries, he’s just bleeding out over here, but hey, have a big family hug- the door explodes inward and Derek comes crashing in. Derek of all people, he finds himself thinking, and yet who else would it be.

Derek howls and the sound reverberates through Stiles, like every bad and terrifying thing he’s ever felt encompassed in one inhuman sound.

He rushes the Argents like a linebacker, shoving them as far away from Stiles as modern architecture will allow and takes Stiles away. Like Stiles is a damsel in distress. Which, at that point, he mostly is. So. It’s entirely possible that he should have been concerned with how hard Allison and her father hit the wall. He never does quite find it in him to care.

It’s Derek who takes him to the hospital, even though Stiles swears the whole time that he’s totally fine and he just needs some sleep. Stiles still isn’t sure if he was delusional or in denial, the result is the same. Derek definitely doesn’t take him home.

Stiles spends two weeks in the hospital.

When Scott comes to see him he apologizes profusely for not coming to get him as soon as he’d gone missing. He’d had Jackson to deal with. And he growls at the smell of Derek in Stiles’ hospital room, even after Stiles tells him what happened. He’s not even happy after Stiles’ dad admits he’s a hell of lot more fond of Derek now than he ever was before.

Jackson doesn't die on the lacrosse field, but it is a near thing. And when he wakes from the coma, a little over a week later, Derek presses his palm to Jackson's and that is that really. A new master for the kanima. It doesn't immediately make Jackson pack. Nothing could ever be that easy. At least, that's what Scott tells Stiles, because Stiles is still in his own hospital room when it happens. Scott doesn’t seem particularly happy that Derek’s in control of the kanima but it wasn’t like Scott was going to step up and do it.

Stiles sees Jackson once during the summer. Jackson’s alone on the street, as he passes right next to Boyd, Isaac, and Erica. Sees the way he looks at them, with a quiet kind of desperation and longing. And he sees the way they look at him. Isaac makes a low, whimpering noise and Jackson responds with a hiss that sounds like a burst pipe.

He doesn't ask Scott about it. Turns out that torture kind of dims a guy's curiosity.

Even hearing about Peter Hale’s brief return from the dead does little to interest Stiles. He shudders at the thought, thanks whatever higher power is out there that he’s gone again, and doesn’t worry about it.

The Argents leave town as soon as the school year is officially up. This is fine with Stiles. He’d really rather not see them ever again. It’s only knowing that Scott is still mourning the loss of Allison that makes him soften that stance even a little. When Scott talks hopefully of Allison coming back for the next school year, Stiles smiles like he agrees. He doesn’t.

Lydia’s parents send her to her uncle and aunt in France before the year is even over. Stiles honestly isn’t sure what she knows or doesn’t know about werewolves or Jackson. She’s gone so fast no one gets a chance to find out. She doesn’t return in time for the start of school. Stiles thinks he should care more, but it’s hard to care about anything. It's not that his feelings for her are gone, how could they be when he's loved her for years, obsessed over her. They're just so... strange now, from his post-torture vantage point. Like everything else they just don't seem muted and dull. When his dad tells him she's gone, he just shrugs and consequently gets weird looks for a week. That’s still better than the looks his dad had been giving him once he’d told him about werewolves and kanimas and the real reason Stiles had been hurt so bad. Sometimes Stiles thinks his dad filed all that away and locked it up where he wouldn't have to think about it anymore. They don’t really talk about it much.

It's a long, hot summer.

Stiles has physical therapy three times a week. By August he can hold a pen in his right hand again, not that he can actually write with it. Considering Gerard broke every single finger, some of them in two places, that's a real accomplishment.

He's out of his chair, too, though he still has a limp, and there's a wide, jagged scar in his left thigh that aches and pulls when he pushes it too hard.

There's nothing they can do about his eye. His vision is permanently damaged. A scar crosses his face from his temple to the side of his nose. The part that stings the most, though, is that the scar doesn’t mean anything but some dead nerves and a face no one will forget. He can’t see out of his eye because Gerard fucking Argent hit him so hard his retina detached, and then kept him locked up in the basement for over a day, which was just long enough for the damage to be permanent. Stiles doesn't bother playing it off with good humor or sarcasm. He just doesn't talk about it at all. What's the point?

He sells his Jeep just before the school year. He can't drive anyway.

He spends a lot of time thinking about Derek. He thinks about Derek more than he ever did before, which is saying something since Derek’s been pretty much front and center in his life since Peter bit Scott. But it’s different now.

He mostly thinks about Derek breaking down doors and throwing people, grabbing up Stiles like he’s something important. Like he was worth saving.

There’s probably a syndrome for this, he thinks, getting a crush on someone just because they saved your life. And it’s not, well…crush is a... he’s not quite sure that’s what this is. It’s not like he’s never recognized Derek’s hotness before or thought about how weirdly intimate the situations they got into were. But it’s different now, and he’s not sure how. He just knows that the panic attacks he’d had under control for years are again creeping up on him. They simmer just below the surface of his skin, waiting to be let out. He knows that when it feels like the panic is about to crawl out of his mouth, his eyes, his ears, his nose- he closes his eyes and remembers Derek’s voice in his ear, the feel of his jacket against Stiles' bloody face, the way he’d pressed his hand down on the wound in Stiles' thigh to stop the bleeding.

It... helps, thinking about Derek being so desperate to protect him. To save him.

So now it's the beginning of September, his junior year, and this is Stiles' life. His friend is oblivious, his Jeep is gone, Derek's gone back into hiding or something, his dad can barely look at him, and he’s half blind.

Scott picks him up the first day, talks about how Allison is back and actually texted him last night, and generally ignores Stiles' condition. That's fine with Stiles. He prefers not talking about it.


Derek should be working on the house or running the pack through drills. The renovations on the house are nowhere near done, though the building is miles away from being the dilapidated, burnt out shell it was. They’ve spent the summer working on it- new framework, putting up walls, a new roof; just cleaning out charred wood and broken glass had taken a week.

Instead, Derek is sitting on the stairs, leaning back in a way that might be uncomfortable if he were paying attention. He’s paying attention to the phone in his hand instead, to the video on the phone.

"I'm not doing this. What do you even think this is gonna do, huh? Besides prove you’re a douche. And old. What are you, ninety? Untie me and see how fast we turn this around."

A pause, and then a low voice that even Derek has a hard time hearing. But he knows now, after rewatching this so many times that it says Don't be a hero, son.

"Yeah, don't call me son. I’ve got a dad. He’s the sheriff? Yeah, bet you didn’t think about that before you kidnapped his only son from right in front of him. What kind of big bad are you?"

Metal scrapes on metal and the man behind the camera, Gerard Argent, says, You're making a mistake. You might want to start reading from my script.

"No. You are. But that's really not the point. The point is you can pretty much do whatever you want to me, I’m not begging anyone to come save me, you sick freak. What is your problem anyways, don’t you people have a code?"

Tell him. Tell your alpha. Tell him you’ll be returned missing body parts missing if he doesn’t come. Stiles is jerked closer to the camera. And then Stiles is screaming. Screaming.

"Don't you dare come for me." Stiles' looks into the camera for the first time. His voice is ragged, breathless, the words barely make it out. "Do you hear me, Derek? Don't."

Tell your alpha, he had said. The fucking old bastard. Tell your alpha, and Stiles had assumed he meant Derek, as if it was completely obvious that he was Derek’s and Derek was his alpha. When the truth was Stiles, more than anyone else, had the choice. Be pack or don’t. Derek’s or Scott’s. And yet… there he was, throwing himself in with Derek.

Laughter from behind the camera. Oh, but we know he will. He knows right where to find you. And if you aren't enough incentive we always have your pack mates to work over.


He had to have known Derek would come for him regardless, right?

He blames himself for Stiles’ injuries, for what he endured. It always comes back to him. He could blame Scott, who never should have been working with the hunters in the first place, regardless of what his intent had been. He could blame Stiles for ever getting in the middle of werewolf business, or letting the hunters get wind of him. But neither one of those things are fair.

Besides, Derek’s pretty sure Gerard hadn’t needed Scott to figure out that Stiles was important.

Which is another bitter pill because Derek hadn’t figured it out. He didn’t figure it out until Stiles had almost died, until he spent endless nights at the kid’s hospital bedside, watching him sleep. Watching him breathe, trying to find a semblance of peace in the knowledge that he’d made it through. That he was still alive. But the question Derek can’t answer, the one that doesn’t make any sense, is why did Stiles assume Gerard meant Derek? Why not Scott?

Derek shoves his phone in his pocket, closing his eyes and shaking his head at himself. He needs to push the training up a notch. They need to be bonded and ready for any new threats that come their way. They need to be a real pack. They’re almost there. But the Argents are back in town and that means Derek needs them at their best. Outside, Erica and Boyd are sparring while Isaac plays referee.

And Jackson- Derek’s eyes narrow- Jackson is on the porch, staring, unblinking at the three of them.

He could join in. The others would be glad to have him. But Jackson won't. Hasn't, in all the months since the day he woke up in the hospital. Anger and guilt roll off the boy in waves. He isn't a wolf, but he's pack all the same. His unhappiness makes them all uneasy.

Small steps, Derek reminds himself. This time around, they have to take small steps. It’s enough for now that he and Isaac managed to get Boyd and Erica back safely. That they’ve stayed. That they’re here, bonding, training. It’s enough that Scott is bonding with Isaac even if he does avoid the rest of the pack.

Erica notices him first, and nearly gets herself tackled by Boyd. Isaac perks up to see Derek in the doorway.

"Hungry?" he asks them, knowing the answer.

They are always hungry. Jackson jumps from the porch and starts heading to his car.

"Jackson. You too," Derek calls. Jackson stops, turning his head in a way that's just shy of being reptilian. He still doesn’t blink. "Come with us,” Derek tells him. It isn't a command, even though it could be. He's trying to ease Jackson into this.

Jackson nods, waits for the rest of them to get their things, and says nothing when Isaac and Boyd climb in his car instead of Derek's. Erica is practically purring, her eyes straying to Jackson's car in the rearview mirror.

"He's coming around," she says confidently.

Derek grunts. He wishes he was as sure as she is.

"Now if we could say the same about our alpha," she sing songs.

And if a bitter taste rises in his mouth at that, if he remembers her storming off with Boyd in tow, he swallows it down. Kids make mistakes. He made a lot of them; he’s in no place to judge. And they came back, in the end. He furrows his brow, frowning at the road in front of them.

"Stiles," she supplies, answering the question he won't ask.

"What about him?"

"Saw him at school today," she says, but hesitant in a way she rarely is. Which means they didn’t just see him, they see him every day, they talked to him. Which is fine, except they don’t quite know how to control their emotions, especially as a pack, and he’s not sure how susceptible Stiles will be to them. "He seemed normal, considering. Still limping and his hand looks really messed up. Well, and his face, but he could work that scar if he wanted to. It’s not like you can even tell he’s blind in that one eye. It looks normal. But his scent is off. Sickly."

Derek's hands tighten on the steering wheel. "He's sick?"

"No. But even Boyd noticed.” Which is saying something, Derek allows, because Boyd’s the least sensitive to the emotional state of the pack. “It’s not a physical sickness. It’s like, you know, emotional. And then Isaac said he thinks Stiles is separating himself from the pack, like an injured wolf would, even if he doesn’t realize that’s what he’s doing. He dips out of lunch, and I don’t see him with Scott so much.” She shrugs. “You know how Isaac gets, lone wolf and infinite sadness and I’m pretty sure he’s thinking of Stiles like the runt of the litter or something. He’s worse about Stiles than he is about Scott. And you know how Isaac is about Scott.” She sighs dramatically, as if Isaac’s sensitivity to emotion is the worst thing she’s ever had to deal with.

Which, in the case of Isaac being fully convinced that Scott must be part of the pack, yes, it might be. Isaac’s newfound affection for Scott is annoying at best, obsessive at worst. But then, it’s Isaac. Sensitive Isaac. Derek sighs.

“He asked about you,” Erica continues.

"Isaac?" Derek's at least partially aware that he's being dense, almost purposefully so.

Erica is looking at him like he's the stupidest person she's ever seen. He growls, but she’s not intimidated.

"Stiles. I told him you were being your usual cranky self, and he just said sourwolf, under his breath. I don't think he meant to say it or even realized he did." She pauses, looking over at him. "He was so quiet today, when we talked to him, barely said two words. Isaac asked Scott about it and the Boy Wonder said he's been like that since they let him out of the hospital." Her distress is a suffocating smell, giving her away. She acts like she doesn't care, but she does.

Derek grunts in response. He needs to handle this if Scott isn't. After the hospital he'd thought Stiles would need time. Time to heal, time away from the pack. Time to change his mind about Derek. But obviously he needs to bring Stiles back to the pack, if only for his own good. It's just hard to make himself do it, thinking about it makes his stomach uneasy, like it knows how big an impact one, single human might have on the pack. On his life.

But. Stiles might not be a wolf, but he's pack, more pack than Scott even, and Derek's left him on his own for too long.

How do you apologize for ruining someone's life? Stiles was human, soft and breakable. And Derek had allowed him to be broken. Tortured. Hadn't realized how important the kid was. Gerard fucking Argent had figured it out, though. Peter had.

Derek had forgotten, in his years of grief, that pack wasn't just wolves. His family had been humans and wolves and that had been pack. But it seems so long ago sometimes, and Derek hates thinking about it, hates how much it hurts to think about it. It’s easier to think about losing them than ever having had them. And because of that he hadn't been able to pull his head out of his ass in time, hadn't realized there was a better way to bring his pack together, and Stiles had suffered.

"Derek," Erica whispers, nearly whimpers. Her head is bent away from him, baring her neck.

He reaches out without thinking, gently rubs her shoulder. Soothing her. She must smell his unhappiness. He knows an alpha can keep himself from bleeding out emotion and scent, but he doesn’t know how. And Peter is dead now- again- so Derek is back to figuring things out on his own. But Peter did teach him that one important lesson. Human love matters.

"I'll go check on him," he says, finally.

Erica makes a pleased sound and nuzzles against his hand.


Two weeks into the new school year, Stiles goes to the first practice of the lacrosse team with Scott but ends up leaving in the middle. It’s too much, watching his former teammates discuss the upcoming season, readying their gear. Scott’s got Isaac there, anyway, and despite Isaac clearly being Team Derek, he’s also totally hung up on Scott. Scott doesn’t seem to mind. Besides, he hates the sad looks Isaac shoots his way.

Afterwards he doesn’t go out with Scott, even though he can tell Scott really wants him to, desperate to return to their normal lives. Which, Stiles guesses, Scott can do if he wants. He has the option.

Stiles is grateful his dad is at work when he limps his way into the house. He doesn't want his dad worrying about him and that seems to be all he does when they occupy the same space. Stiles had thought knowing the truth, about the werewolves and what Stiles' life has been like since last year, would make things easier between them. It hasn't.

He lowers himself onto the first step and sits. He doesn't have the energy to get himself upstairs to his bedroom. His leg is killing him, and he has a wicked headache.

He rests his head against the wall. He’s so tired. He can’t remember ever being this tired. Not with all the running around after Scott had first changed, not even when his mom died. It’s a bleakness of spirit he’s never felt before, and he hates it. Hates it and doesn’t know what to do with it.

He closes his eyes, trying to stop the thoughts running through his head.

He doesn't realize he's fallen asleep until he's being lifted. He struggles weakly to get down, his dad is too old to be carrying Stiles to bed, but his fingers scrabble against familiar leather and he settles down.

"Derek," he whispers. Why is he here? Stiles hasn't seen him months.

"You can’t sleep on the stairs."

"Was just resting," he murmurs, closing his eyes and pressing his face into leather.

Derek is warm and he smells like the woods, and most importantly he feels like safety. Like the night he took Stiles from the Argents. Stiles had asked him why, the night Derek came to visit, after the doctors had told him his vision would never be perfect again. Derek had been quiet for a long time, staring at Stiles until the point where Stiles would have started babbling. But he hadn’t started babbling, he’d just kept waiting for the answer.

"You're pack," Derek had said finally, standing and moving towards Stiles' hospital bed. Towards the window he had come in through in. "I should have been protecting you in the first place." He'd stood over Stiles, pushed his head gently until Stiles’s neck was bared.

For a brief moment Stiles had been sure Derek would bite him. Instead, the alpha had lowered his head and breathed in deeply through his nose, then exhaled just has deeply through his mouth.

Scenting, Stiles' mind had provided, but he'd been stunned silent. He hadn't found his voice again until long after Derek was gone.

And then nothing. Oh, he knew the pack watched him, he wasn't stupid. And Scott would always mention it if he caught Derek’s scent in Stiles’ hospital room, near his house. But Derek hadn't come to speak with him again. And Stiles had... missed him.

“We gotta stop meeting like this,” he tells Derek, but Derek is silent and stony faced. As usual.

Derek lays him on the bed so carefully Stiles barely notices being put down at all. The feeling of his shoes being taken off rouses him again. He opens his eyes to the surreal vision of Derek Hale- seriously what is his life right now- taking his shoe off and tossing it across the room.

"What are you doing?" Derek raises an eyebrow.

"I mean- why- you're taking my shoes- I don't understand."

Derek is silent. Of course he is. He tugs particularly hard on the left shoe and Stiles hisses in pain as it pulls his leg wrong. Derek growls, and then his hand is on Stiles' leg, fingers digging into the muscles in a way that somehow stops it from cramping fully.

"You're touching my leg." Because stating the obvious, when the obvious is this fucking unreal, is usually his best way of dealing.

Before Grandpops Argent had tortured him he’d been more used to Derek shoving him and snarling at him than showing concern. Stiles had actually always assumed that was Derek showing concern.

Derek sighs, glaring up at him. Then he’s crying out,

“Dude!” And he’s definitely awake now, as Derek unbuckles his belt, tugs his jeans down until they’re tangled around Stiles' knees and what the hell- “You are crossing some serious lines!”

Derek pushes the jeans the rest of the way off, letting them drop to the floor. He leans over Stiles, tangling one hand in his hair and pulling his head to the side. Stiles' face scrunches up in irritation. Not this again. But yes, this, again. With one hand working the muscle of Stiles' thigh and the other pulling his hair, Derek breathes slowly, heavily, on Stiles' neck.

“Shut up and I can take the pain away,” Derek says, voice quiet against Stiles' skin.

“You don’t- why would you- you’ve been gone for months. The whole summer.”

And that’s not what he’s actually trying to say. But it’s hard to concentrate when someone- not just someone, freakin’ Derek- is breathing on his neck and touching his bare skin and practically lying on top of him. He’s a teenage boy, for god’s sake. And not a one-hundred-percent-only-interested-in-tits kind of teenage boy, either. He’s not blind to Derek’s more obvious charms. In fact, he’s spent a decent amount of time considering Derek’s more obvious charms.

“Shut up before I shut you up,” Derek snarls.

And that’s actually. Yeah. Stiles can handle that because that’s just Derek being Derek. Except for the hand still in his hair and semi-nakedness and... yeah. Stiles stares up into Derek’s face, and Derek’s eyes close, brow furrowed in concentration. Stiles' leg goes pleasantly numb, and Derek breathes out harshly against Stiles' neck. The pain is gone. Derek shudders and lifts himself away from Stiles.

Without thinking about it, Stiles reaches out and grabs Derek’s arm. “You gonna disappear now? Again? For, like, months? Because that sucked, dude, that sucked so hard. You can’t just... I mean, you know that’s not cool. You said I was pack. But...” He bites his own tongue.

Derek frowns, looking like the words he’s trying to get out are choking him. When it becomes obvious that words aren’t going to be forthcoming, he shoves his nose against Stiles' neck again, the same deep breath in, long breath out. Derek’s stubble tickles as he rubs his face against Stiles.

“Come to the house tomorrow with Erica and Boyd,” Derek says, after scenting Stiles for several more moments.

“With Scott?”

Derek shrugs. “Scott will come to us when he’s ready. Or he won’t.”

That’s a change. Before everything that happened last year Derek had been desperate for Scott to be in the pack. Sure, that had been before everything that happened, including Scott being a freaking idiot and working with Gerard, of all people. But given the way Isaac’s been hanging all over Scott since the school year started, Stiles had assumed that was still the case.

“Come tomorrow, we can help you with that leg. Your doctors are idiots.”

Stiles smiles at that. “Should have taken over my PT a while ago then, huh?”

Derek doesn’t smile. He stares into Stiles' eyes for a long moment before finally saying, “I should have.”

He backs away, and Stiles lets go of his arm. Derek doesn’t say goodbye, of course, but he pauses in the windowsill. His jaw works, words clearly held back. And then he’s gone.

Stiles doesn’t get up, just rolls over, bringing the bed cover over his shoulders. His leg feels better than it has since the knife went into it. But more than that he feels like he can breathe, doesn’t feel as if he’s choking on everything he can’t say. Like Derek’s visit unknotted something inside of him.

He’s also more turned on than he can remember being in a long time. Fucking Derek and his breathing and his leg touching and his pants unbuckling.

It takes an embarrassingly short amount of time to jerk himself off. The smell and warmth of Derek still lingers in the room, and Stiles can remember the feel of his hand on his thigh. And Stiles really shouldn’t be masturbating to thoughts of Derek but-

He comes, hard and messy, and only just manages to bite back Derek’s name. He closes his eyes, clean hand brushing his neck where he can still feel the light burn of Derek’s stubble. He stays that way until it’s dark in his room and he feels the anxiety building up in him again. He takes a shower and distracts himself with homework.

He pretends he’s not really thinking about Derek and pack and how his leg doesn’t hurt at the moment.


Derek hears the hissing, and smells Stiles' worry from the kitchen. It has him dropping the hammer and heading outside.

Stiles turns to look at him before he's even out the door. There's a nervous smile on his lips. He nods his head toward the yard, and what Derek sees there makes him stop in his tracks, a hand falling heavily to Stiles' shoulder, pulling him closer, nearly behind him.

Jackson- Jackson, who for months has never shown an interest, who in fact has smelled of fear and anger that whole time- is chasing Isaac through the yard. He's only halfway transformed. Scales across his still human brow and along his jaw, clawed hands, though his feet seem human. No tail. Derek wonders if this half turning is the effect of Jackson’s attempts to repress the kanima. Isaac and Jackson are bounding off trees, up them, around them.

Isaac darts under thick underbrush near the side of the house, and Jackson leaps onto the house itself and crawls up, disappearing from sight.

Derek sniffs the air, but all he's getting from Jackson is an easy determination. The way the boy used to smell on the lacrosse field.

Stiles leans into his side, and Derek lets him, enjoys the way he fits there. Stiles is radiating self-satisfaction now.

"How'd you do it?" Derek asks. He looks at Stiles.

"I'm just that good, dude, I keep telling you." He grins at Derek, and Derek finds himself almost smiling back.

"Ah, ah, I saw that. Almost got one. One of these days, Derek, I'm gonna make you laugh so hard you shit yourself."

Derek raises an eyebrow. "That's a goal of yours?"

Stiles nudges Derek with his shoulder but doesn't move away. "Not literally making you shit yourself, no."

There's a commotion above their heads, loud hissing, low growling, and then Isaac and Jackson land in a heap, narrowly missing the stairs. Both are completely human. Isaac is laughing, loud and clear, like he normally only laughs for Stiles or Erica. Jackson is smiling, pushing Isaac off him.

He smells so near to happy that Derek does smile, wide and open. He’s not oblivious to the look of shock on Stiles’ expression.

What Derek has been trying to do for months, Stiles has managed to do in just the last three weeks since the day Derek found him asleep on his stairs.

Derek waits until the two boys are up on their feet before saying, "You should spar Boyd, Jackson. He'd be more of challenge."

Isaac huffs in indignation. Boyd barks a laugh. Jackson looks, and reeks, of worry.

"C'mon, Godzilla, give me a go," Boyd calls.

Jackson responds to the good natured ribbing, transforming instantly and fully this time. Clothes ruined, of course. Derek hopes he has a change in his car. Then he's gone, stalking after Boyd who slinks into the slowly darkening woods around them and is gone from sight.

"Impressive," Derek says quietly.

Stiles snorts. "More like amazing. Magical. Gifted with the ability to bring wolf-lizard packs together with incredible ease."

Derek shoves the kid lightly and goes back into the house, shaking his head.

"You're in awe of me, admit it! You would be lost without me!" Stiles calls after him.

Erica’s laughter rings out high and clear.

Two hours later they all come in, Jackson thankfully clothed. They're wet from cleaning up in the stream, even Stiles, who doesn't look entirely pleased. His hair, longer these days, is hanging wetly in his face.

"You need to control your puppies," Stiles snaps, but there's laughter behind the words.

Derek shoots him a bland look. "They're my puppies now?" he says, without thinking.

Surprise spikes Stiles' scent, and something else, something more subtle and unknown to Derek’s nose, but he smiles. A small, almost shy smile that Derek knows is for him and him alone. He’s been giving Derek these smiles for weeks now.

"Yeah, well, when they don't behave they're definitely yours," he responds finally. And then, as he goes up the stairs two at a time,

"I'm stealing a shirt!"

Three weeks ago he’d have had to take those steps one at a time and slowly. Training with the pack is good for him. It’s been good for all of them. Derek’s not quite used to, or comfortable with, how good things are now. He’s waiting for the other shoe to drop at all times.

Derek realizes he hasn’t exactly dealt with his... issues. With the betrayal and death that haunt him constantly. It’s possible that staying in this house was a bad idea. But with all the work they’ve been doing it’s starting to feel like something new. Something he can have, maybe even keep. And somehow it’s all come to revolve around this loud-mouthed, scrawny kid.

Derek goes back to replacing the hardwood floor in the living room, ignoring the warmth in his stomach, the half-smile that won’t leave his face. The rest of the pack settles down and helps him.

They get half the room done before Derek realizes Stiles never came back down. He leaves the others to their work and goes to check on the kid. He can’t have hurt himself, Derek would have known. Hell, they all would have known. Isaac whines, but Boyd puts a steadying hand to his neck and he calms. Isaac, out of all of them, is most sensitive to mood changes and the most affected by them. Derek thinks it’s years of abuse coming into play. Either way he’s clearly picked up Derek’s worry, while the others have dismissed it or not noticed at all.

Not that Derek needed to worry. He finds Stiles curled up in Derek’s bed, asleep. He’s wearing one of Derek’s t-shirts, too big and falling off one shoulder, and a pair of Derek’s sweatpants, rolled up at his hips to keep them from falling off.

Derek breathes in deeply, taking in Stiles' scent mixed so thoroughly with his own.

For the first time since that night, when the Argents had kidnapped his pack, something loosens in Derek’s stomach.

The Argents took everything from him once. But somehow they didn’t manage to take this. Stiles, or the pups- Stiles’ word for them, not Derek’s, though it seems to have stuck- his new pack, maybe his family. Just thinking the word, of the feeling it encompasses,  makes Derek’s chest seize. Because family only means fear and loss to him. And he’s suddenly terrified.

Downstairs, he hears Isaac whimpering. He ruthlessly stamps down on his emotions.

He sits at the edge of the bed and leans over Stiles carefully, towards the bare neck within easy reach. Derek doesn’t even have to really stretch to scent the boy. Stiles moans, good eye flickering slowly just as Derek pulls away.

“Could give a guy ideas, breathing on him like that,” Stiles mumbles sleepily.

Derek pushes still-damp hair from his forehead, but doesn’t respond. He’s not sure what he would say anyway.

“Stole your stuff. Doesn’t fit. Why’re you so big?”

Derek huffs with something that might be amusement, because it isn't like Derek is so much larger than Stiles. Derek used to wish that Stiles would just shut up and stop talking. But now that he’s quiet more often than not, now that he’s been changed by torture and cruelty, now all Derek wants is to hear is his relentless chatter.

“I should go. So tired,” Stiles says finally, clearly running out of energy again.

Derek doesn’t want him to leave. This is good, the whole pack under one roof. Or almost. He immediately pushes thoughts of Scott away. Replaces them with thought of Stiles being here all the time, leaving his scent all over the house, talking all the time the way he used to.

“Stay,” Derek says.


“Someone will take you.”

“My clothes-”

“Will dry. Take one of Isaac’s shirts if you need one.”

“My dad-” Derek reaches over to his nightstand where Stiles' phone is sitting, snatches it, and hands it to Stiles. Stiles frowns sleepily.

“You want me to tell my dad I’m sleeping in your bed?"

Derek rolls his eyes. “Maybe not those exact words.”

Derek watches as Stiles sends a text, gets a response, sends another. And then one more. He gets a second response and then he’s flailing the phone wildly until Derek takes it back.

“He says if I get hurt on your watch he’s got wolf’s bane,” Stiles tells him.

“You told him you were here?” Stiles shrugs, rolls onto his back, limbs splayed across the bed. “He knows everything else. Didn’t feel like lying.”

Derek nods. He moves to stand, figuring he should let Stiles sleep if he’s so tired.

“Mmm. Don’t go. You’re warm.” Stiles is more asleep than awake, his heartbeat slow and steady.

He rolls again, this time coming to stop against Derek’s side. He grabs a handful Derek’s shirt and holds tight.

After a minute, Derek asks, “Why did you assume he meant me and not Scott?” He doesn’t expect an answer, but as usual Stiles surprises him.

Stiles snorts, pulling himself closer and rubbing his face against Derek’s leg. “Scott broke my batman, can't be an alpha.”

Derek frowns. “Scott... broke your batman?” Stiles makes a moaning noise of agreement. “And that’s why you chose me as your alpha?”

Another snort. “Not a choice, is just... how it is. Word association. Alpha. Derek. Hmmm. Sleep. Bed. Warm. Derek. Safe. Derek. Lots of you, actually.” He stops for a wide yawn, eyes stubbornly closed. “Sleeping now, sourwolf. Stay.”

A soft, thin snore follows his last word. Derek stares down at him in disbelief. Derek stays where he is for hours, until Stiles rolls onto his back and Derek can lay down on the very edge of the bed. He stares at the curve of Stiles' shoulder, the smooth line of his neck. Not for the first time he wonders if Stiles would take the bite from him if Derek offered. Derek falls asleep wondering.


“You smell like Derek,” Scott says, after the second time in one week where Stiles has managed to crash in Derek’s bed without meaning to.

His dad isn’t exactly happy with him, but they don’t talk about it. Which is par for the course these days. Stiles scowls at Scott.

“You do. And your dad called me again to say you didn’t need a ride this morning.”

“First of all,” Stiles says, slamming his books into his locker. “I don’t smell like anything. And second of all, I didn’t need a ride.”

Scott makes a frustrated noise that might be a growl and grabs Stiles' arm.

“You smell a lot like him. Like he’s purposefully making sure you smell like him.”

Like Scott doesn’t know Stiles has been spending his afternoons with the pack.

“Would you stop sniffing me?” Stiles finally huffs.

“Is this about being part of Derek’s pack? Because I told you, I don’t think you should be going there.”

Stiles scoffs, shaking his head. They’ve had this argument four, maybe five times now, he’s lost count. Stiles trying to convince Scott that he should come to Derek’s, try to actually connect with other werewolves, learn more about what he is. Scott thinking Stiles shouldn’t be going there at all.

"Dude, just. Don't worry about it, okay? Derek's trying really hard. The pack thing? And it's good. Jackson, he’s actually been roughhousing with everyone And getting awesome control of his change. No one thought he had that kind of control over his shift. And I mean, I don't like Jackson, but it was good. You should come. It's not like it was before. Derek's... different..." He trails off before Scott's flaring his nostrils and puffing his cheeks like his head's about to overheat.

"They aren't puppies!" Scott finally explodes. "This is why I won't go. I'm not an animal. Roughhousing? Are they house trained, too, Stiles?"

And Stiles is actually shocked speechless, because no one is saying that, that the pack is nothing but animals. That they aren’t human. Of course they're still human. God, how can Scott not think Stiles gets that? But there is still a part of them that is animal- the wolf and the kanima- and ignoring that seems just as cruel as ignoring their humanity.

“You spend time with Isaac. Derek is Isaac’s alpha. Does Isaac make you think Derek’s treating them like animals?”

“All Derek’s ever cared about is himself and making a pack he can boss around! So he can be stronger!" Scott's so angry that Stiles is pretty sure even he should smell it.

Stiles smacks a hand to his own forehead and stares at Scott, mouth opening and closing.

Finally, he spits out, "They're healing! What don't you get about that? It’s not about treating them like animals, it's about making them equals! Making them family! They don't. I don't." He closes his mouth, shaking his head. “People change,” he says. “Whatever Derek was thinking or doing before it’s not like that now. People... change.”

“Derek doesn’t change,” Scott says stubbornly.

This is what Derek has been talking about whenever Stiles brings up Scott coming to the pack training. And Stiles hates Derek a little bit, in that moment, the way he hasn't hated him since the very beginning. Because why does he have to be right? How many times over the last few weeks as he told Stiles that Scott's not ready to understand, that he’s still refusing to believe he is as much wolf as human, despite all that happened last year.

"I gotta go," Stiles says.

Scott looks furious, and his eyes flash gold. He turns on his heel and storms away.

Once he's out of sight, Stiles slumps against the lockers. He’s never felt so far from Scott, not even after his mom died, or after Scott’s dad left. Not even after Scott had first been bitten. It’s fine when he’s with Derek and the pack. They take his mind off it and it’s impossible to feel alone when they’re around him. They make sure he doesn’t. But here, or at home, when he wants to text Scott to tell him the new shit he’s learned about werewolves and pack mentality but he can’t because Scott doesn’t want to know, it’s harder.

Scott’s caught up in chasing Allison again and Stiles- Stiles hates him for it. And he hates hating him. But how can Scott just act like Allison’s family isn’t the reason Stiles is fucking broken? How can he not care?

He tries to take calming breaths but his chest feels tight. He sucks in desperate gasps that aren’t enough, and he knows this feeling, like drowning. His arms feel numb, his stomach rolls. A panic attack. He wants to laugh. He wants to laugh because it’s so stupid.

His feet slip, and he starts to fall. But doesn’t. Hands grab his arms and yank him up.

He’s completely shocked to see Jackson is the one helping him. He sputters as much, and Jackson shrugs, looking indifferent. Down the hall there's the thundering of running footsteps- oh my god, he thinks, how can they be so loud sometimes. Where’s the werewolf stealth?- and Erica and Isaac careen around the corner, Boyd bringing up a much slower rear.

Stiles wonders how long they've all been this bad. This scared of losing what little they've got, that the slightest whiff of panic does this to them. He wishes he'd been around over the summer, because they look lost and frightened, and so determined to seem strong. They remind him of... himself.

His breath catches hard in his chest again. It's hard to see with, his good eye watering. Maybe his bad eye, too, but he can't tell because a lot of the nerves have been damaged. Which is, you know... what it is.

Nothing anyone can do. It’s not like he needs his vision, right? Not like he had plans, college and dating, and a job, and a life. And this is not the time, not the place, there’s no reason to even be thinking about this. But he’s- and oh god- he can't see, he’s never going to see out of his left eye again! His hand. His face, with that ugly scar. He can't. He can't.

He doesn't realize he's saying it out loud until Isaac starts gently shushing him.

He'd had hundreds of anxiety attack after his mom died, but not a single one since Gerard kidnapped him. He’s managed to hold them back, to manage at least that much control.

Until now. Oh, fuck, until now. The other three move in closer, reaching out to touch Stiles, to touch Jackson. Stiles wonders if Derek's instinct hadn't been spot on when he changed them all. He wishes Scott could see it. But Derek is right. Scott won't see anything if he can't accept the wolf, and the pack, but he’s never going to. And Scott’s supposed to be his best friend. But Gerard changed that, too.

"It's okay. Guys, it's fine. C'mon,” he says, or tries to say. The words come out garbled and breathless. God, his chest hurts. And his head.

Erica whines; Isaac nuzzles against his shoulder. He just stops himself from reaching out to stroke their necks the way he's seen Derek do a hundred times.

"Derek," Boyd says, like an answer to a question.

"No, no. We don't need to call Derek," he barely manages to get the words out because it's starting to feel like his chest is constricting and crushing his ribcage.

"He's here already," Boyd clarifies.

Of course he is, Stiles thinks.

First bell is ringing, and they should all be in class. A hysterical sound makes its way out of Stiles' mouth. There will be hall monitors soon and- oh my god, seriously- the last thing they need is to get caught like this. Stiles having a stupid panic attack and these four being stupid protective.

What if they can't control it? He knows they've been working on it, but god, he's seen how they are if training goes too far. Has seen Erica take a swipe at Isaac when he got too rough with Boyd. Erica's eyes are already flashing, and Jackson's got scales on the hand helping Stiles stay on his feet.

This is not helping, he snarls to himself, you know you're just making it worse! But he can't stop, his mind keeps supplying the worst possible scenarios. Like these four losing control and hurting someone. The Argents getting involved. Killing his pack. His pack.

"Okay, okay. Get me out of here," he gasps out.

Skipping is a hell of a lot easier to explain than these three wolfing out and Jackson turning into a giant lizard. Boyd picks him up and slings him over his shoulder like he weighs nothing at all. Erica pries the nearest hall window open while Isaac keeps lookout.

"Not out the window!" Stiles protests at pretty much the exact moment Boyd does just that.


Then he realizes this is probably the best answer. This is the back of the school, where the gym is, which will be empty this time of day. And an open stretch of field, the lacrosse field to the left, and then woods. Stiles doesn't have werewolf enhanced sight but he thinks he sees Derek at the tree line.

Boyd doesn't put him down, just takes off running for the trees, and Stiles is pretty sure he's going to vomit. Mostly because Boyd's gate is not smooth and seriously, Stiles is hanging upside down.

The panic attack is fading mostly because of how completely ridiculous this is. Did transference of feelings include him? Or had it just been the smell of his anxiety that had set the others off?

Boyd hands him off to Derek. Hands him off. Doesn't put him down, but actually puts Stiles into Derek's arms. Derek tightens his grip when Stiles starts to squirm. Stiles’ bad hand tangles in Derek’s t-shirt in response.

"Go back. I've got him. Come straight to the house after school." Silence meets Derek's command, but Stiles hears Boyd leave.

"Just a... a panic attack." And how to explain that it's not even the panic attack that has him so tired, it's that they're back at all. That the last illusion of control he had is shattering.

"I could feel them getting worked up. They'll be better knowing you're with me. They'd never have left you alone otherwise."

Derek is getting much better at actual sentences these days.

"You can put me down," he says after a while, once the school is out of view. Even though if he’s honest he doesn’t mind that Derek can carry him like he weighs less than cotton balls.

"Faster this way. You're clumsy."


He lifts his head to glare, and wow, is Derek close. Like really close. Close enough that Stiles can see the rings of gold around his pupils and the way his eyes aren’t quite green or blue but sort of grayish and... Derek is very close. Stiles' mouth opens and doesn't shut.

Derek smirks, but doesn’t comment. And that’s more annoying than if he’d just say something sometimes. Stiles shuts his mouth with a loud snap.

After a long moment, Derek says, "You'd be less clumsy if you'd take the bite.” Like that's just a casual thing to offer.

"Are you offering?" Because Derek never has before.

Derek shrugs, which is awkward since he's carrying Stiles. Stiles thinks about it for a long time, so long that the Hale house is visible now.

"Would it fix me?" he asks, finally, and hates the way his voice cracks.

"You aren't broken," Derek responds, which isn't an answer at all.


“I don’t know,” he huffs out.

Stiles doesn’t answer. He leaves it all open-ended. He doesn’t know if he wants the bite. He knows that when Peter Hale was threatening to do it he’d frozen in fear. He didn’t want the bite from someone like that. He hadn’t wanted the bite from someone like Derek, either. But that was the old Derek and not this Derek. This Derek is... very different. And Stiles might not mind the idea of being a werewolf if it meant Derek was his alpha. Of course, he’s already pack. Derek has made that clear. Hell, even Jackson has made that clear.

Would Derek want him to be a werewolf?

Derek puts him on the new couch in the halfway remodeled living room. He leaves him for a little while without comment, but Stiles doesn’t mind. He’s staring at the fireplace, his mind wandering, one hand covering his bad eye. He really, really should wear the eye patch. Like the doctor tells him to, every single time he goes and tells her with honesty that he gets headaches every day.

He covers the right eye and the world goes gray, everything fuzzy and far away, the occasional white light streaking across his vision like a comet.

He snorts to himself. He wishes he could just go blind in that stupid, useless, eye. Maybe he should stab it out? And that’s probably not the place he’s supposed to be taking his thoughts. They’ve already threatened him with drugs and therapy. Gouging out his own eye is only going to encourage them.

Hands on his hips jolt him out of his thoughts. He’s dragged forward to the edge of the couch. Derek nuzzles into his neck and, really, Stiles should be used to it now. It seems to be a thing they do. He reaches up and puts a hand in Derek’s hair.

“I’m fine,” he says, tiredly.

Derek snorts. “You’re heartbeat was racing. You were getting panicked again.”

Derek's hair is softer than he'd have thought and so dark against his pale fingers. Stiles turns his head and breathes in. It smells good, too- like clean sweat, and stream water, and earth. The smell calms him.

"I used to get panic attacks after my mom died," Stiles says. "All the time. My chest would hurt, I'd break out in cold sweats. Got so dizzy I couldn't stand. I was convinced I was having a heart attack. It's stupid. It's like the stupidest thing to have wrong with you. When every rational part of you knows you are just fine, but you can't believe it." He's only ever told his dad about this.

Derek takes another breath against his collarbone, in through the nose, out through his mouth. It's ridiculous how much comfort Stiles takes from it. From the gentle rub of the other man's stubble against his skin. The warmth of him pressed against his front. He wishes they were naked and not for altogether sexual purposes, which is saying something, really, when he thinks about the fact that he’s still a teenager and a virgin.

"The couch is comfortable. You know, the place really looks good. I don’t think I’ve said that. Almost like an actual house. That's gotta be nice. For you. You know, renovating. Starting over."

Derek stays silent, still scenting. His hands grip Stiles' upper arms, thumbs rubbing over the wiry muscle there.

"I want to start over. If only you could renovate your brain, right? Your memories? I mean, you've got to have some you wouldn't mind- I mean, I don't know. I’d like to plaster over every part of my brain that says Gerard Argent took you and tortured you for 24 hours. I’d like to build new walls and paint them a horrible pink and just let the memories of him rot in there."

He can't shut up. He can't stop talking and if he keeps talking it will all come out. Every single thing he's been holding in since Gerard Argent had taken him from a crowded lacrosse field without anyone noticing. Why won't Derek tell him to stop? Derek is always telling him to shut up. He threatens him and shoves him into things and he tells him to shut up.

"Why are you letting me talk? I don't want to talk. You- you usually threaten me by now. Oh, my god, can't you just tell me- tell me to." Tears sting his right eye; he doesn't want to cry. His eyes, his eye, one eye, the other one "-might as well be gone. Couldn't he have just popped it out? I think it would be better if it was just gone. It's like I'm looking into hell every time I try to see out of it. It's just dark and shadows, vague shapes. And who does that to a kid? I was just a fucking kid, Derek, and I'm gonna be- marked, marked by that pyscho for the rest of my life."

He only stops talking because Derek finally raises his head to look at him. His eyes are red, so dark, and his claws scrape against the sensitive underside of Stiles' arms. Then he’s grasping Stiles’ thigh, the denim giving way to his claws, but they just graze his skin. He noses against the side of Stiles’ face, lips ghosting over the scar where it starts at his temple. And like vomit the words begin to come up again.

"I didn't think I was alone until he did that. Not even when my mom died and my dad was quiet for a whole year. Or when Scott met Allison and it was all he cared about. I didn’t feel alone. Until it was just me and him and his knife. And I thought- all I've ever had is Scott and my dad. And I've only ever caused him stress, my dad. Get him fired. Lie to him. And Scott- Scott's so caught up in Allison and he doesn't even, he doesn't even realize that he isn't the only one dealing with this. With the werewolf stuff."

He chokes on his words, stops breathing completely because sobs are hiccupping violently in his chest and he can't- this is why he stopped talking because it's too much. It's too much. And Derek, he's just there, breathing against Stiles' skin, pressing his face against him, making low, rumbling noises that reverberate in Stiles' body.

"Why are you doing this?" he finally cries out, because Derek Hale is not supposed to see him like this.

And yet Derek Hale is the only person Stiles wants anywhere near him right now.


Why. Why, Derek almost laughs, he wants to know why.

Derek is terrible with words, has always been. When you're born into a wolf pack you don't need them, not as much as other people. Even the humans in the pack end up sensitive to things like muscle tics, scent, body language. All the tells that normal people are completely blind to.

So even after his family burned, when it was just he and Laura, they didn't talk about it. They shifted, curled against each other, whimpered and howled. Growled at the world. Laura could smell his guilt, he could smell her sorrow. Words, he thinks with derision. He’d lived the majority of his life somewhere in between the human world and the wolf one, and somehow words hadn’t mattered in either.


Words are an entire language that Derek isn't fluent in.

"After my family died we didn't change back for a month. We could smell it on each other, the loss. We never needed to talk. You smell the same way." And he wants Stiles to understand what he means, to know that the words he's saying aren't what he's trying to tell him. Needs Stiles to, even though it's completely unfair to expect it.

"So I smell like pack," Stiles says quietly, voice rough and broken.

Derek rubs his face on Stiles' hand, the one Gerard broke. “Yes, but... that’s not. I can smell that, and Laura could smell that, but you can’t. You can’t smell it, Stiles,” he says.

"I can’t smell it,” the boy repeats. “But I can talk. I never shut up. So. I need to talk. You’re telling me I need to talk because that’s the only way I can deal with... Derek."

No one has ever said Derek’s name like that, like a benediction, like a prayer. Like something good.

And if Derek were a man who cried he would. But he isn't. He feels himself shift, but he’s so caught up in Stiles he doesn’t stop to think about it. He sets his teeth against Stiles' skin but doesn’t bite down. He howls into the boy's hand. Because Stiles speaks the only language Derek knows when he isn't even a werewolf, because Derek doesn’t need to use words to tell Stiles that he’s mourning with him, that his pain is Derek’s pain, that he can’t keep it in like he has been.

Stiles is shaking. He's falling to pieces. Derek hates it. Hates the acrid smell of fear on the boy when normally Stiles’ scent is more delicate and complicated than that.

Derek suddenly realizes how close he is to biting his hand and throws himself away from Stiles.

"It's okay. It's okay. Derek? Come back. It's okay. I'm fine. You didn't, you know, I mean it looked like you might, but I know you won't. See?” He holds up his hands. “Nothing. So just. Oh my god, look, you didn't bite me. Come over here." His eyes are huge, but Derek can’t smell fear. “Jesus, come here.” A smile, a hand reaching out to Derek. “Please.” He shifts back.

"Sorry," he spits out. It sounds like a curse.

Stiles laughs, he laughs until he's crying, but he motions Derek closer and closer until Derek is near enough to touch again.

He climbs onto the couch and wraps himself around Stiles and puts asides concerns that he's letting this kid too far in, that the last time he'd trusted someone like this it had been Kate and he had lost everything. Because Stiles does smell like pack. And not just this pack, his unruly teenage pack. Stiles smells familiar, like the home Derek used to have.

"Relax," he says gruffly, smelling confusion and worry creep back into Stiles' scent.

"So, we’re cuddling my anxiety away."

It's not really a question, so Derek doesn't answer, just snorts, ruffling Stiles' hair. He doesn’t stop scenting Stiles. Taking in the boy's scent and exhaling his own, rubbing his face against whatever bare skin he can reach. He can hear Stiles’ heartbeat calm, feel his breathing even out. He’s quiet in Derek’s arms, but not the angry, dangerous kind of quiet.

Derek’s mother used to scent his father all the time, mostly when she was rarely even conscious of it. But they had been mates. For two werewolves, mating for life, scenting, marking, wasn't unusual. It wasn’t imperative to their survival, but packs tended to work better with mated alphas instead of just one alpha. Human partners sometimes understood and went along with it, but more often than not, they didn’t. And they were always more likely to leave. After the kids were grown, or they were found by hunters, illness. It was acceptable, sometimes expected.

It happened in big families like the Hales all the time. New blood coming into the fold, not choosing to take the bite, sometimes leaving again. And it was always fifty-fifty if the kids would turn out to be wolves or not, regardless of both or only one parent being a werewolf. His two younger sisters had been human.

Human, and so small, and only their scent had allowed Derek to identify them- he cut himself off from the thought with vicious intent.

Stiles was human and might always choose to be, Derek suspected, which meant Stiles could leave one day. And Derek would have to let him. Stiles stirs when Derek stops rubbing his face, just allows his lips to linger on the long line of Stiles’ neck.

"Like I said, guy could get the wrong idea," he mutters. The smell of his arousal spikes the air.

"Shut up," Derek tells him and goes back to his rubbing.

He doesn’t mean it, though. He’s never wanted to hear Stiles’ voice more.

"No, really. With the feelings, and- and the... the snuggling on the couch, talking, and the... you know... the scenting, with the breathing and the rubbing and-" He breaks off into a surprised moan as Derek bites his neck. "Oh god. Or the right idea. Maybe the right idea."

Derek presses his mouth to the bite, licking and sucking until there's a dark purple mark on Stiles' skin. And that- why did he do that because now he’s never going to want to stop- is perfect. Perfect that Stiles should smell like Derek, and pack, and carry Derek's mark on his skin. He makes another one just a bit below the first, and Stiles just lies there, moaning and pressing back against Derek's body, his neck completely and utterly exposed.

"So this... this is happening? Because... I'm... yeah. Okay."

Derek smiles against his skin, leaves another mark to trail the second. He would cover Stiles' body in love bites, would mark him up completely so that everyone would know he was Derek’s.

He rolls them, lies on top of Stiles so he can watch the boy bite his lower lip as their hard cocks grind against each other through layers of denim.

"Derek," Stiles whines, reaching out to touch him, to put his fingers in his hair.

Derek leans into the touch. Derek reaches down and traces the scar on Stiles' face with his fingertips. He doesn’t say I won't let anyone hurt you again, but he won’t. He won’t let anyone touch Stiles again. Stiles cocks his head to the side, considering. Derek can practically see the wheels spinning.

Stiles says, "Is this a pity thing?" at the same time Derek says, "Don't be an idiot."

And being called an idiot shouldn't make Stiles smile that way, like he's won something important. Derek doesn't deserve that smile, but he wants it enough to take it.

"It wasn't your fault," Stiles tells him, face going serious again.

He isn't lying. Stiles really doesn't think it's Derek's fault. Which is ridiculous, because they'd gone after his pack. Not just Boyd and Erica, Isaac, but Stiles, too. Derek shakes his head to refute Stiles' words. When it comes to how often Derek underestimates the lengths the Argents will go to, how often he’s put his pack in danger, it’s always Derek’s fault. He should be smarter by now. He should have been smarter from the beginning.

"They did this to me. The Argents. Not you."

Derek shudders at the mention of the Argents, his claws coming out without him meaning to.

Stiles gasps as they scrape his skin. "That... what does it say about me that I'm seriously harder than I've ever been before because..." He stops speaking, desperately inhaling as Derek trails trails his claws up under his shirt and runs his claws gently over Stiles’ chest. "Oh god, I think I could come just from that. Do it again."

So Derek does. Stiles shudders.

"What if it's a syndrome?" Stiles asks. "Like... we're just doing this because you saved my life. What if it's not... if it's not... oh god."

Derek bites gently at Stiles' hip before raising his head to look down at him.

"If you had my sense of smell you'd know exactly what this is," Derek tells him.

He leans forward, licking up Stiles' jaw, pressing a kiss to the side of his mouth. Stiles whimpers. Fuck, the noises this kid makes.

"What exactly is this, then?" His voice goes high.

His hands grab at Derek's shirt, to take it off or just to hold on, Derek can't tell from the frantic scrambling of long fingers.

Derek doesn’t answer, instead he nips at Stiles' bottom lip. Kisses him when he gasps, tongue tasting and taking. Derek groans, a loud and entirely human sound. It's been a long time since he's done this. Kissing, touching, caring. He knows he isn't good at it. But Stiles is moaning into his mouth and writhing, scratching Derek with his neat, perfect nails.


Derek grinds down against Stiles.

"Oh, oh, oh my god," Stiles gasps out before desperately seeking Derek's mouth again.

Derek rolls his hips, kisses Stiles harder, he grabs the kid's flailing hands and pins them above his head with one hand. With his free hand Derek pushes Stiles' shirt up, slowly revealing his flat, soft, stomach, his surprisingly defined chest, the dark pink of his nipples.

Derek lets go of his wrists in favor of curving his hands around his waist instead, thumbs resting just below his belly button. Stiles goes very still, watching.

He jumps when Derek lowers his head to press his face against his stomach.

Hands in his hair again, not demanding, just touching. Derek makes a contented noise against Stiles' skin. He can't honestly remember the last time someone touched him this gently. His parents, maybe. Not Laura, especially not after the fire. Never Kate, who had been hard and demanding and violent from start to finish now that Derek looks back. Not his new pack, his pups, because he is alpha and giving comfort is his duty.

"Should I scratch behind your ears?" Stiles asks, laughter in his voice.

Derek nips his stomach in response, and Stiles bucks his hips up. Derek growls, tugging at Stiles' jeans, then his underwear, not caring that they end up tangled around the kid's knees. He's too caught up in the sharp smell of Stiles' cock, leaking pre-come and straining towards Derek's hot breath.

Derek doesn't hesitate to take the entire thing into his mouth, sucking the taste from Stiles' skin. He’s never really wanted to do this, though he has thought about it, but now he can’t stop. He tries to swallow around the head as hits the back of his throat. It's too much, and Derek has never done this. He nearly gags, but stops himself, forces Stiles’ cock deeper as if to prove he can. And because the taste of Stiles on his tongue is thick and strong. He'd gladly choke on Stiles' cock if it meant always having the boy's flavor on his tongue.

There are long moments of desperate sucking, tongue moving over the head, along the underside, fingers digging sharply into Stiles' hips before he realizes Stiles' is speaking.

"Too much, oh my god. You have to breathe. Derek. Breathe. Jesus Christ. Derek."

Hands pull at his hair, trying to pull him off. He growls in protest, or tries to, the sound muffled by the cock in his mouth. He feels light headed and dizzy and... Stiles cock slips from his mouth with a wet pop, and Derek's lungs suck in needed air.

"Oh my god, oh my god, are you okay? What the hell, dude?"

Stiles grasps his head, forcing him to meet his eyes. Stiles is wrecked. There are tears on his cheeks and his face is flushed. He's breathing as if he's the one who'd been choking on a cock.

"Points for enthusiasm. Points deducted for scaring the shit out of me during my first blow job. Can you not try to kill yourself on my dick?"

Derek barks out a rough laugh, but he's honestly distracted because while Stiles’ hard on had been lagging a moment ago, it's raging now. He lowers his head again, licks a long stripe up the warm flesh.

"Oh Jesus- fucking- fine. Yes. Just breathe this time," Stiles gasps out.

Derek does breathe. He breathes in the hot scent of Stiles' orgasm as he wrings it out of him. Because Derek needs this, needs to see, to taste, needs to feel him when he's just on the edge and after he's come down.

And Stiles does not disappoint. He's loud but not talkative. The noises that pour out of his mouth are pornographic. Derek will never get tired of hearing them.

When he comes, his hands tighten in Derek's hair and he gasps out Derek's name. Derek chokes on his come and then licks up whatever he's missed. He keeps licking until Stiles' starts whining and pulling at his hair. And then Derek kisses Stiles, and keeps kissing him, rutting against him without any kind of rhythm until he comes in his jeans.

He only stops kissing Stiles because he's exhausted. A bone deep and contented tired. A clean tired. He pulls and pushes at Stiles, who is absolutely boneless in his hands, until his back is against the sofa and his face is tucked into Derek's chest, Derek's back to the world like a wall that will separate them from it.

Stiles is talking, low murmurs that Derek only half hears, but he smells happy. No, it's stronger than that, joyous. It's ridiculously intoxicating. Derek lowers his head to Stiles' neck and hides his face, taking in as much of the scent as he can.

"... with the sniffing," Stiles says laughingly.

Derek snorts, closes his eyes tighter, and falls asleep.


Stiles wakes up sticky, sweaty, and with his jeans still around his knees. The couch is an awful place to sleep and not nearly big enough for two people. It's not comfortable, but he's dealt with worse. And with worse company.

Stiles blinks, waiting for his vision to focus, and stares at the fuzzy sight of Derek's sleeping face.

Outside of a few times where he was unconscious, Stiles has never seen Derek asleep. Not that he's had cause to before this.

It shouldn't surprise him that even in his sleep the wolf's face is tight, lips turned down at the corners in a frown. But his brow is smooth and he still manages to look years younger.

Stiles tries to check the time, but his phone is somewhere on the floor. By the sunlight, it's still early in the afternoon. Which means Scott, and probably his dad, will start calling in about an hour or so. Oh, god, his dad. He didn’t go home again last night and now he skipped out on school. Shit. Shit. Shit. What time is it?

He gets distracted by Derek’s face again once he realizes he can’t reach his phone, and he’s unwilling to wake Derek up to get it.

"Ten after two," Derek rumbles out, the words vibrating through Stiles' chest.

"I was admiring your sleeping hotness, and it doesn't count unless you're actually asleep."

He wonders if he's allowed to touch. Not the pressed-together-never- letting-you-up crushing of Derek's hold on him. He wants to reach out and touch Derek's stubble with his fingers, he wants to run a finger down that perfect nose, smooth out the unruly eyebrows. He wants to write words on the defined planes of Derek’s chest with his finger. Words like mine, and stay, and please, and always.

"You could just take a picture," Derek says, lip quirking up.

"Oh my- shut up." Stiles feels his face heat with flush. "Stop being perfect and I'll stop staring."

Derek opens his eyes at that. And wow- that, that's just- those eyes this close are... Stiles lacks the proper vocabulary. He sputters, trying to find anything to say, but he's got nothing. He's just going to lay here and die in the oceans that are Derek's eyes.

Derek, the asshole that he is, continues to stare at him, that stupid eyebrow cocked.

"Your phone went off. I texted Scott back to tell him you were here," Derek tells him, obviously bored of being pompous and perfect as he lowers his head to start with the freaking sniffing again.

"You should really stop doing that, then. Because he'll come here and I'll be smelling like you and sex and-”

Possessive hands grasp his hips, pull him in tight, before he can finish the thought.

"And, oh my god, you want me to smell like you and sex! Are you- stop that- are you putting another hickey on me? They're gonna think someone tried to strangle me!"

That's not incentive for Derek to stop, apparently. When he's done, he lifts his head to inspect the new mark, looking intensely satisfied. Stiles isn't really sure what he's done to deserve this- except survive torture, his mind helpfully supplies- but it might actually be the best thing to happen to him. Ever. It's also completely overwhelming. He doesn't even know what to do with his hands. Can he touch?

Derek slots their hips together and grinds down against Stiles. All the blood in his body, every drop, goes straight to his dick, and he gets hard so fast it's dizzying.

"You're going to kill me," he gasps out.

Derek wastes no time. He unzips his jeans to pull his cock free, and grasps both his and Stiles' in one large hand. Fuck. Those hands.

Stiles stares between them, watches Derek work both their cocks together and wonders if he'd be able to tell whose come is whose. Which leads to thinking that Derek could probably totally tell the difference, would be able to smell or taste it. Especially since Derek knows what his dick tastes like.

He remembers Derek's face, flushed and determined, choking down Stiles' cock and refusing to stop.

If Derek sucking on his cock as if it could save his life wasn't enough- it was, it really was, Stiles might have been content with that one blow job for the rest of his life- this is... Oh god, oh god, Stiles is going to die. It will be a perfect death. The kind of death any self-respecting man should hope for.

He must say some of it out loud, it’s so hard to tell what he’s blurting out and what he’s managing to keep in, because Derek is growling again. He fucking growls, like an actual animal, like the wolf he’d turned into before, and Stiles is...

"- never going to be able to hear you growl again without getting a hard on." He sobs the words because Derek's strokes have him just on the edge but don't take him over it.

"Put your mouth on me," Derek demands. And then, softer, "Stiles." And it sounds like please.

"Oh, okay. Yeah."

He pushes up on his elbows, so that they are chest to chest and Derek's hand, their cocks, are trapped.

Stiles presses his mouth to the firm line of Derek's jaw. Derek's skin is rough with stubble, salty with sweat, and Stiles wants to lick every single freaking inch of him. It's unbearable, suddenly, that he's touched so little of Derek when Derek has been sniffing and marking him as he pleases. Without really thinking about what he's doing, he shoves up and against Derek until as much of their bodies are touching as possible.

They land of the floor with a thump that echoes through the half-finished room. Derek's actually blinking up at him like he's surprised. And Stiles is completely flabbergasted because he's just shoved them both to the floor and Derek let him, was too distracted to stop him.

"Oh my god, I seriously need you to fuck me,” is not exactly what Stiles plans on saying when he opens his mouth.

Derek snarls, lifts his hips, tightens his hand and jerks their cocks. Stiles presses his face against Derek's neck, opens his mouth and bites down. Derek jerks like he's been shocked, and then he's coming all over his own hand, and both their cocks, their stomachs. Oh. God. Stiles sucks at the bite mark, without any regard for how hard he's abusing the muscled flesh beneath his lips and comes.

Once he gets his breath back he bites him again, softer this time.

"Derek," Stiles whispers against Derek’s warm skin.

"Don't stop," Derek answers, voice deep and rough. Ruined. He sounds ruined. Stiles isn’t sure if that’s good or bad.

But he does as Derek asks and chases one hickey with another even as they heal and disappear. Derek manages to tug their jeans up, to at least tuck their cocks in, without much concern for the mess they've made of themselves. Of each other.

They get up gradually, in increments, as if they both know Stiles will have to leave once they let each other go. Sitting up on the floor, Stiles settling in Derek's lap, Derek's hands cupping his ass. Then Stiles sitting on the couch, Derek on his knees between his legs just resting his head on Stiles' stomach. He's so quiet, so still, that Stiles wonders if he hasn't fallen asleep. But then Derek looks up at him, chin digging into Stiles' stomach, and smiles. A heartbreakingly beautiful smile. Stiles is so fucked because he's pretty sure he even loves Derek's teeth. But his eyes are sad, secretive. Stiles' heart constricts, and Derek's arms tighten around him.

And of course this is the exact moment that Scott comes barreling through the front door without any kind of warning. And really? Shouldn’t have Derek smelled him, or heard him, or something?

Stiles scrambles to his feet. Derek takes his time, as if he could care less about getting totally busted. But Derek, as soon as he's standing, takes in Scott's disposition and begins making low, threatening noises and actively trying to shove Stiles behind him.

"What the hell did you do to him?" Scott demands.

This is, seriously, the worst time for Scott's assumptions and accusations and for god's sake isn't he ever going to learn?

But this is Scott, who Stiles loves like a brother but who has never been great at catching a clue. And who hates Derek pretty much on principle these days. And who, if Stiles is being fair, Stiles has ditched more than a few times over the last four weeks in favor of Derek and the pack.

Stiles fidgets, trying to find a way to cover his chest without being obvious. He has never felt so naked before, with his bare chest and the marks Derek left along the entire length of his neck, some across his collarbone, his jeans barely hanging on his hips.

His gaze flicks to Derek, who doesn't look much better. There are several hickeys on his shoulder that are very slowly healing, the color bleeding out and fading away. And if Scott weren't there Stiles would already be working on them again, bringing the bruise back up to the surface of Derek's skin. His shirt is hanging off one arm, his jeans are barely managing to hang on his hips- oh god, there’s still come on his stomach, which means there’s come on Stiles’ stomach, too. He’s having an aneurysm. He’s lost all feeling below his eyeballs. If Derek’s jeans slip any lower Scott's going to get an eyeful.

When he looks back to Scott his mouth drops open. Scott has shifted, crouching as if he's about to pounce. And, no. Now is not the time for an aneurysm. Feeling floods back into Stiles’ body and his extremities are tingling. Because no. No.


This is not how this day ends.

He steps in front of Derek without a second thought. Derek's hands grab his hips, pull Stiles tight against him, protective and possessive. Stiles wants to turn and bury his face in his chest. He wants... he wants it to be ten minutes ago when he was coming, and marking Derek, and everything was good. Just for a little while. It hasn't been good in so long.

"Stiles, get out of the way!" Scott hesitates in his half crouch, looking for a way around Stiles.

"Dude, would you calm down? Look at me. Do I look like I'm in need of rescuing? You are totally ruining the day I lost part of my virginity. Go outside. Go. We can, I don't know, talk. Whatever. On the way home."

Scott doesn't look convinced. Derek's claws- not his fingers, his claws- digging into Stiles' hips are probably not helping. Or the fact that he's still growling. Scott's lip curls back, showing his fangs. Stiles feels like he's watching National Geographic. He's got a whole new appreciation for prey.

He pushes away from Derek, turning to face him. Not that he gets far because Derek grabs him back, pulls him flush against him.

Scott growls at that, and Stiles can feel him moving slowly, trying to find a better angle to start this fight. And this is just- this is Stiles' life and it's freaking ridiculous.

"Derek, stop. Derek!" Finally he looks down at Stiles. "Stop. Just... it's Scott. Okay. And he doesn't know. So just stop."

The shift back to human is slow. He can see Derek fighting the wolf back. The hands on his hip gentle, rub soothingly over scratched, abused skin. Stiles leans into him without thinking, arms trapped between them. When he looks up at Derek he purposefully bares his neck. The marked side. Derek's eyes go wide for a moment, and then he leans down, breathing over Stiles' skin.

Stiles can see Scott, human again, staring at him in what Stiles is pretty sure is disbelief. Possibly some disgust thrown in for good measure. Scott catches his eye, his jaw going stiff and stubborn before he storms out of the house.

"You should go," Derek says, once it's just the two of them.

Stiles can hear the guilt in his voice, and the quiet misery that Stiles is just now realizing is so often in Derek’s voice.

"Hey. Don't do that. This was... good is not a strong enough word for this and I... look, I pretty much already need this like breathing. So if you absolutely need to brood about whatever... this, or me, or Scott being a moron, that's fine. But get over it."

Derek gets his things together for him and starts herding him towards the door. He keeps shooting hard to read looks in Stiles’ direction. But he stops Stiles at the door and pulls him close again. He kisses him, softly. When he gives Stiles his bag and his shirt he seems almost reluctant to do so.

Stiles is down the steps, standing in new grown grass he himself had insisted on putting down, when he turns around and looks back at Derek.

His arms are crossed over his bare chest, his face cold and chiseled, like the stranger he used to be.

Stiles can't bring himself to say anything. He can feel the silence creeping back in, bottling everything back up. He opens his mouth but nothing comes out, and then turns away because Derek will be able to smell what he’s feeling anyways, and he’d rather he not let him see his face. It’s all going to fall apart. He was whole for a day, not even the whole day, and now it’s going to fall apart.

He remembers his mom rallying, so alert and alive, and then dead a day later and that’s- that’s what this is starting to feel like. The hurt whining from the porch draws his attention back to Derek, changed wholly into his wolf shape on the porch. His red eyes catch Stiles’, and then he’s tearing away.


The howl that comes back, that isn’t really an answer at all, is utterly human in its sorrow.

Scott shouts for him, impatient and angry.


He runs.

He runs for hours that feel like days.

He runs like he hasn't run since Kate Argent burned his house down with his family inside. Desperately chasing after his sister. Unable to keep up. Falling so many times he lost count.


Except he's the alpha now. He's the one shifting into full wolf form and for the first time he understands. Why she hadn't waited for him, hadn't slowed down so he could catch up. It's a different world in this form.

And the human pain that he's running from feels more like a larger predator chasing him, when he's supposed to be the one giving chase. He howls, and howls, and howls and just keeps running.

He stops only because exhaustion demands it. He has gone so far nothing smells familiar. He collapses against a large tree, and he sleeps, regardless of how unsafe he feels.

When he wakes in the morning he's human and naked. He's covered in cuts that are still healing. He begins the walk home human, too tired to try to shift. He's just lucky he's so far from civilization right now that no one will catch him walking through the woods naked.

Stiles would be laughing at him.

His heart beats double-time just at the thought of him.

Derek never should have... the moment he realized... the moment he realized he felt anything at all for the kid he should have begun pushing him away, not pulling him in. Things that Derek cares about, they die. They die horrible and violent deaths. Even Kate.

But the problem is this: there are two sides to Derek's instincts. Stable werewolves, born into it, almost never feel the fissure between the two, the wolf and the human. For bitten werewolves it's harder. For omegas, for wolves that have lost their packs, it can become impossible.

Derek can remember when the two seemed like one, when he didn't even have to think about one over the other.

Then his family burned.

The human understands that attachments are dangerous, that people you love can and eventually do get used against you. The human understands betrayal and lies. It knows that mate doesn't always mean trustworthy. He knows because he had loved Kate. He'd wanted her as his mate. He had gone blind with wanting her. When he was with her he thought he understood the kind of dedication his parents had had to one another. He would have given her anything.

She took everything.

The human instinct in Derek has learned better than to love or trust.

But the wolf. The wolf instinct believes pack is enough. That pack is everything. Pack is to be trusted and cared for, protected by any means necessary. Never left behind, never pushed away. The wolf doesn't like to be alone, it craves the comfort of other heartbeats, the howl of other wolves. It wants to scent and mark and lay claim to a mate. The wolf, unlike the human, has somehow not learned that mate doesn't always mean safe. The wolf thinks that the only enemies it needs to worry about are the kind that respect the tenets of pack and mate.

It was the wolf instinct that drove him to bite Isaac, and Erica, and Boyd. Human instinct had fucked it up beyond all recognition and nearly lost it all. Again. He'd pushed his betas too hard and the wrong way. He'd kept Scott in the dark when he should have told him everything. He'd thought Stiles and that Lydia girl were safe. He assumed he knew what he was doing, so convinced his way was the only way that the instincts of the wolf didn't challenge him. Stiles did, though; Stiles was always challenging him.

The overwhelming wolf instinct allowed for what happened with Stiles. All of it. Befriending him, trusting him, keeping him safe. Loving him.

Derek's wondering which instincts are worse, the human or the wolf, when he decides it really doesn't matter. It's done now.

The pack is what it is. The pups are coming around. Even Jackson. Scott's always been the wild card, but Derek isn't the one who bit him. Convincing him to come into the pack was always going to be difficult, even with Peter dead. Again. And Stiles. Well, Stiles is Stiles. Only he's quickly become intricate and necessary to the functioning of the pack. To Derek's functioning.

And Derek had run from him. From the scent of grief, of loss, of panic coming off Stiles in a thick, sickening fog. He'd run, because he knew that scent. The same scent that had surrounded he and Laura for months, maybe for years, after the fire.

Derek shifts again, screaming through the pain of it because there's no one to hear. He lopes off easily, covering more ground, knowing he'll get home faster this way. And home is where both the human and the wolf agree he should be.

The closer he gets the more he can feel the pack. Feel their worry, their panic, like a cold touch to his flank, from almost five miles out. He can smell it from two.

He shouldn't have run. He's their alpha. His responsibility is to them.

For a moment he hates it. Fury makes him draw up short, breathing hard, sides heaving. He snarls at nothing, trying to find a release for the anger that's boiling through his system.

Derek was never supposed to be an alpha. He'd grown up a beta, had been perfectly content as a beta. He was never going to be the kind of person who challenged their place in the pack. Even with their family dead, just he and his sister, she'd been his alpha. But when Peter killed her, he'd taken the last of his family, the very last and had left Derek an omega. And omegas die.

Peter had forced on him the only decision he could have made. To kill Peter and become an alpha. To have a chance at a pack.

He's not exactly happy to see them; wishes they had just gone to school like apparently Jackson did. On top of the fact that they can't afford to draw attention to themselves, he has no use for them at the moment and his temper is too sharp.

But of course it's Erica who doesn't pick up on the emotion he's bleeding out, mostly because she has little concept of self-preservation. Isaac cringes and steps back behind Boyd. Boyd remains unmoving, but Derek can see the wheels working. Can see him thinking out every move he'll make if Derek gets out of control.

It makes Derek pause, this implacable calm that is the reason he bit Boyd in the first place.

It might have actually brought Derek back around. But then Erica makes a joking comment about Stiles and a bitch in heat and Derek loses it. He shoves her across the lawn, his claws out, catching flesh. She collapses to the ground, staring up at him.

Boyd growls, not a threat, an appeal. Derek stares at him. Boyd turns his head, exposes his neck, eyes downcast. Isaac mirrors his action. Erica, on hands and knees in fall leaves, does the same.

The rage and resentment leave him in a rush. This is not the kind of alpha he wants to be. He holds out one hand and they slink toward him. He touches their hair, their throats, growls in reassurance. It's his fault they're here. He needs to remember that. Whether he likes being the alpha or not doesn't really matter. He is, and that's that.

"You should be in school. The last thing we need is more attention."

Erica rolls her eyes, clearly having gotten over being thrown around. "You ran so far we couldn't feel you anymore and you expect us to go to school?"

"We were worried," Isaac points out, nervous like he's expecting a blow for speaking.

Derek doesn't say anything. Just stares at all of them.

"Jackson is watching out for Stiles," Erica supplies.

Derek frowns. "Why?"

"Because it smells like mating season in the living room and you ran away? Because Stiles smells like you even more than usual and he was miserable all through first period? Pick one." To Erica's credit she says all this with as much respect as possible.

The words still have Derek's hackles up. "It's none of your business. There's no threat; you don't need to be on alert."

It's like the old Derek has taken over his mouth. He bites down hard on whatever words he might say next. Isaac looks hurt, Erica looks defiant, and Boyd looks knowing. He'd like to tear into all three of them right now.

"Seems like the alpha's mate would affect the pack. And what affects the pack is pack business." Boyd, of course.

Derek growls before he can stop himself.

"Yeah!" And of course Erica would ride that wave without caution. "You're messing with Stiles. You can't do that and expect us not to notice or care."

"It's fine," he says. And at Erica's skeptical expression adds, "It'll be fine. I'll figure it out. Go back to school. And tell Jackson he doesn't need to tail Stiles."

Erica roars with laughter, startling Isaac. Boyd grins wide. Derek realizes what he's said and glares at them.

"Figures. You finally crack a joke and you didn't even mean to. Tail Stiles. Jackson." Erica bursts into loud giggles again.

"Go!" Derek snaps, but their amusement is infectious, it eases the tension of a night spent out in the woods alone. "Go to the station if you need a place to be tonight."

Erica smirks suddenly. "No problem, boss. Privacy for you and mom, we get it."

She shoves Boyd and grabs hold of Isaac dragging them away in a half run that eventually turns into shoving match and then an all-out race through the woods. He watches them until he can no longer see them. Doesn't move until he can no longer hear or smell them.

He needs to talk to Stiles.


The conversation with Scott on the way home from Derek's goes something like this:

"He's dangerous, blah, blah, blah, look at your neck, oh my god are you crazy, blah blah, what happened to him being a fucking psycho, blah, blah, look at your neck! Do you realize he's marking you? Like, as his mate? Blah, blah, blah."

Which Stiles responds to with, "You're an idiot, and you don't know what you are talking about, and I like him claiming me, he can do it all he wants, and you should just shut your stupid mouth so it stops saying stupid things."

And then Scott gets angrier and Stiles really stops understanding what he's shouting about.

Okay, that's not exactly how it goes. There's more arguing and back and forth. And Stiles makes a few comments about Allison he probably shouldn't, and Scott makes a lot of comments about Derek that make Stiles want to hit him. They don't agree to disagree so much as Stiles slams Scott's car door once they get to Stiles' house and screams at him to go away and stay out of it.

He is not- he cannot be- having this conversation with Scott. Because he's completely unstable right now and nothing good will come of it. How Scott, his best freaking friend, can't smell the fact that he's having a nervous breakdown even though he's pretty sure Derek smelled it coming weeks ago, is just beyond him.

He's tired and disgusting- seriously disgusting, so much come on him, and he laughs a little hysterically at that- and he just wants to shower and go to sleep. His leg is killing him, his hand is cramping, his head is throbbing. That he felt fine an hour ago, better than fine, perfect, just makes it all worse.

He's definitely not up for talking to his dad, but it looks like avoiding it is out of the question. At least he's got his hoodie on, and he pulls the hood up over half his head to hide his neck better, thankful his dad does not have a werewolf nose.

His dad is sitting at the kitchen table when he comes in. He's got a cup of coffee and the newspaper, but he isn't paying attention to either.

"Sit," he says as Stiles enters.

And so Stiles does. His leg is grateful for the rest.

"You look awful, and you're limping. Should we get to the doctors?" Concern clearly wins out over anger for a moment.

Stiles shakes his head, blinking away the sting of tears in his eye. "Nothing they could do. Just... hurts. It's fine."

His dad reluctantly takes him at his word. "Talk to me about what happened last night, then. Second time this week. And you weren't in school today. I need you to talk to me, son, so that I don't take that cache of wolf's bane bullets over to the Hale house and start shooting."

Stiles winces, even though he's pretty sure his dad wouldn't. It had been Derek who gave the bullets to his dad in the first place, after Stiles was hurt, talking about how hunters weren't the worst thing to be worried about. That he should be armed properly.

"Last night I just fell asleep." He shrugs, because that's the truth. "Long day of school, the pups were training. Even Jackson-"

"The pups?" His dad's eyebrows are drawn together in agitated confusion.

"Derek's pack. They were, I dunno, bonding, training. I was so tired that I fell asleep."

His dad nods. It's not like Stiles hadn't texted him as much the night before.

"And today? You weren't in school. Scott was throwing a fit." He leans forward on his elbows. "You can't let your grades slip. I know it might seem stupid in the face of... supernatural creatures and life or death emergencies, but you need to be in school." And his face when he says this does a whole lot to communicate just how hard it to accept that this is all real and a part of his life.

Stiles looks down at the table, because this is all his fault. This extra level of worry he's shoved on to his dad's shoulders.

"It was a panic attack. It's been a while, so I freaked, made it worse. I needed space. I couldn't be at school."

"Do you need to see someone, we could-"

"No. No. Look I know you don't like it, but the pack... it's good for all of us to be there, to spend time together. And it helped, they helped, with the panic attack. I mean, I get that it's hard to understand, it's freaking crazy. But it's not like I can go to a therapist and tell them I might be suffering werewolf-hunter-induced PTSD, can I? I mean, I can't explain that I'm a freaking gimp with one good eye because most of my friends are part of a werewolf pack. Because they would lock me up." And maybe he's getting a bit wound up, and maybe that won't help, but he can't do this right now.

His dad stares at him, mouth open. He shuts it with a loud clack and speaks. "It sounds a lot to me like you think you're... part of this pack. Did Derek, son, are you...?"

Stiles flails his arms in denial. "No! No! Still one hundred percent human, right here." He bites his lips, purses them, bites them again. "But there are human members in most packs. That's how they work. They're, like, better that way."

"So you're saying you're a human member of Derek Hale's werewolf pack?"

Stiles wonders what he did in a past life that is making him such a trial on the only parent he has left. He can't even look at his dad right now.

"It's... complicated." Except it's not. Stiles had gotten dragged into this whole werewolf thing, whether he's a werewolf or not, and he can't just walk away.

"Uncomplicate it," his father demands, heat in his voice instead of bone deep weariness.

Stiles looks at him. "I'm involved. I have been since Scott was bitten. I'm a target. I'm always a target. Leaving Beacon Hill isn't likely to change that. Good grades won't change that. Derek can keep me safe. If I'm part of the pack I'm untouchable, you know, mostly, to others of their kind. It's safe." He fingers the left side of his face, over the scar, and shudders. "Safer. It's safer." He huffs out a laugh.

"What about safe from hunters, Stiles? Isn't it better if you just stay out of all this?"

Stiles stares at his father, wide eyed. Since he'd come out of the hospital his father had carefully avoided this particular subject. Half the time he avoided the werewolf subject, too, actually.

"Argent." His dad stops and clears his throat roughly before starting again. "He, uh, he came after you because of the pack, right? So, isn't it more dangerous?"

Stiles doesn't have an answer that will make sense. Definitely not one that will satisfy his dad. He rubs a hand over his head, scratches at his neck, trying to think of something to say. Funny, how he used to always have something to say. Even when it was the wrong thing.

"It's like sports. The team practices, it gets better. They work better the more they know each other's moves. The stuff that happened, then, it happened because they were like a really low ranked team. But they're better now. You know, new uniforms and a new stadium, and like, at least one really expensive player."

And it's a really good thing Stiles is used to that look of confused, yet somehow affectionate almost-but-not-quite-understanding, annoyance because otherwise he'd be heartbroken. All the time. Because his dad is pretty much always looking at him like that.

"I understand. Sort of. As much as I can, I think. But Stiles..." He sounds so tired, like just talking to Stiles is exhausting. Which it probably is.

"Look, I'm fine. It's not a big-"

"Hey." His dad wraps his hand around his wrist. "Don't. Don't do that. We can stop talking for now, I get it, okay. But don't... whatever happened, last night, or today? Do you realize that's the most you've talked about all this since it happened? So just... go to school tomorrow. If you have a panic attack, try to... I don't know, son. Try to work through it. We'll get you through this. Through high school and...just go to school."

Stiles nods, unable to say anything more.

"Scott doesn't like it, does he?" His dad asks, quietly. "Or should I say he doesn't like Derek?" And his voice clearly states that Derek is still not one of his favorite people, either.

Stiles shakes his head, swallowing hard.

"He'll come around," his dad says. Which is amusing, considering the source.

Stiles shrugs, doesn't trust his mouth. Because he's not sure Scott will come around on this. And he'd be content to never find out how his dad would feel about recent developments.

"You hungry? I could cook before I head out," his dad offers.

Stiles shakes his head. "I'll make something. It's okay."

His father stands, his back cracking loudly. Stiles wants to throw himself at him, hide in his chest like he did when he was small. He wants to cry, to beat his fists against the man who has sheltered him his whole life. But that Stiles, the Stiles who could do that, he's not there anymore. He won't be again. The man he's becoming has a pack for that. But he can be grateful.

"Thanks, Dad. For the talk. My grades, they'll be fine. I'm like, a genius."

His dad laughs and clasps his shoulder, shaking him a little. Stiles has a moment of panic wherein he waits for his dad to see his neck, to smell the mess he is. But his dad just lets him go and leaves for work.

Stiles heads to the shower, turning it as hot as he can stand it before he steps in. He stands under the spray, head bowed, until the water begins to turn cold and he starts shivering. It isn't until he steps out of the shower that he catches sight of himself in the mirror. His mouth hangs open, staring at the marks along his neck and across his collarbone. Marked. Well, he's definitely marked. Oh my god. Derek's insane. Insane. Stiles runs his hands over his tender skin and shudders at the memory of Derek's mouth on him.

He's not sure how long he stands there, mesmerized by the sight of his own skin. Mesmerized by the fact that Derek Hale, of all the people in Stiles' life, has done this. Eventually he goes to his room, towel wrapped loosely around his hips.

He collapses onto the bed, not even bothering to get dressed, and sleeps until morning.

He tears his drawers apart looking for a shirt that will cover the marks Derek left.

The best he can do is a button-up, buttoned to the very top. He's tempted to pop the collar, but he draws the line at looking like a douche just to cover up some hickeys.

Okay. A lot of hickeys.

He sees Erica and Isaac before and after first period, but he's too caught up in worrying over Derek and if he is actually having a freak out, to really talk. And do they know? Would they know where Derek was? It's only been twelve hours, he shouldn't be freaking out.

But come fourth period when he hasn't seen them again, he worries. Does that mean Derek isn't back yet? Genuine fear curls uncomfortably in his stomach. He keeps touching his neck.

"Dude, you're drawing attention to them, knock it off," Jackson whispers during fifth period.

"Shut up. I don't know what you're talking about."

Jackson snorts. "You think I can't smell him all over you? He's our alpha."

"I showered!" Stiles yelps, drawing the attention of most of the class.

Jackson sits back, kicking the leg of Stiles' chair. Stiles turns and glares. Jackson smiles, smarmy and knowing. Stiles kicks his foot and gets another kick to the chair for his trouble.

"Mr. Whitmore. Mr. Stilinski, do we need to separate you?"

Stiles puts on his best innocent face and shakes his head. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Scott glaring at him. He throws his hands up when the teacher turns around because really? Really?

The rest of the day goes on in that form.

Jackson is like a shadow. An annoying, dickhead shadow that keeps telling him how he smells.

Jackson drives him home. Jackson.Who is pack, fine, but has still not really... well, Stiles is being ungenerous. Jackson had been the one to keep him upright yesterday. God, just yesterday. Why does yesterday feel like months ago?

He takes another shower once he's home, feeling completely self-conscious about how he smells. He's pulling on sweats, foregoing underwear because he's seriously got to do some laundry, when his window opens.

It's a testament to what his life is that he doesn't particularly worry about who, or even what, it is. He just hangs the towel on his door knob and turns. Scott looks sheepish, but when Stiles finishes turning and his eyes light on the marks Derek has left behind his eyes flash gold.

"Don't," Stiles says, holding a hand up. "I mean it. If you're here to talk, fine. Sit. Talk. But do not wolf out on me and start freaking out. I mean it."

Scott breathes heavily for a few moments before finally calming down and collapsing into Stiles' computer chair.

"I don't get it," he says, looking pained.

Stiles shrugs. He doesn't get it either. It just is. It's happening, and it... makes sense, in some weird way. At least, Stiles thinks it does. It does for him. Though he's worried Derek might come to see it differently and that's causing a rolling wave of nausea that never stops.

"How long?"

"This? I mean, the kissing and the... yeah, that was just... it just started. Yesterday. Like, you basically came in and busted up the afterglow of round two."

Scott holds a hand up to stop him, head hanging so low that Stiles can't see his face. "I don't want to hear it."

"Dude, I had to listen to you wax poetic about Allison for months. Months. And the only thing we've talked about all summer and for the last two weeks are what her silence and/or texts mean."

"I love Allison," Scott cries, head flying up.

And of course that's what he gets out of that whole thing. Stiles' lips press together in irritation, and his cheek ticks. He loves Scott, he reminds himself. Loves him like a stupid, idiotic, self-obsessed brother.

"You're not seriously telling me that you're in love with Derek! Oh my god, is this like Stockholm Syndrome or something? Because he got you away from the Argents?"

Stiles gives him a flat look. "Stockholm Syndrome would be if I were having attachment issues to Gerard Argent."

He doesn't tell Scott that he asked a similar- similar, not exact, because he's not an idiot and he knows what Stockholm Syndrome is- of Derek just yesterday. At the name Scott looks ashamed. Stiles sighs. He hates it when Scott looks like that. Like he's berating himself for not being the one to save Stiles.

"Look, I don't know what it is, but it's good, okay. There's stuff he gets. And it's good for the pack."

Scott's mouth drops open again and his head tilts slightly to the side. "The pack? That's all I've been hearing for weeks now. Why are you worried about the pack?"

"Because it's my pack? Why wouldn't I care?"

And here, then, is the disconnect between them. Stiles has been explaining this for weeks now, pack dynamics, how Derek's bringing them all together, how Scott should totally be there, joining in. How good it is for everyone. And Scott has heard submit yourself to Derek, Allison, Allison, Allison, Derek's not so bad, but Allison, Allison, Allison.

"Your... pack? You're human. Humans don't have packs!" And then the wide eyes go gold again and he's snarling, coming towards Stiles. "Did he bite you?"

And he's sniffing, and no- that is not. No. He throws the glass of water at his bedside into Scott's face. Which is enough to stop the menacing advance. Scott wipes the water from his face.

"He didn't bite me. Humans can be part of the pack. How do you think a family of born werewolves works? Yeah, you don't know. But you would if you would just stop by once in a while. He can't force you to join the pack, he just wants you to want to be part of it."

Scott's mind, it seems, is officially blown. He sits down hard on the edge of Stiles' bed, staring at his hands. He's human again, at least. Shaking his head like he's rattling things around in there.

"He's using you," Scott says finally. "To get to me."

Stiles makes a face. "Thanks, buddy."

"You know what I mean." But Scott has a decency to look guilty for saying it. Then his eyes widen. "So you're saying that's why Erica and Isaac have been acting so funny. Even Jackson, today. The way he was being with you."

Stiles makes a face. "Yeah, Jackson. I don't even... I mean, is the world ending? Should I be watching for gigantic waves, heading for higher ground, trying to find hidden government planes?"

"I don't think it's that dire," Scott says dryly.

There's an awkward silence that Stiles doesn't quite know how to break.

Stiles opens and closes his mouth several times before he finally manages to blurt out, "You said he was marking me like a mate? Yesterday?" And he hates himself for just how high his voice gets on the last word.

Scott shoots him an obnoxious look, like he's the smart one here. "Thought you said it was fine?"

"Well, the hickey giving is fine. If I'm like... imprinting or something I'd like to know beforehand."


"What? Lydia liked it, so I read some. Whatever. Why do you know what that's from?"



"Not something you need to worry anymore, I guess," Scott says wonderingly. "Does this mean you're gay?"

Stiles shrugs. "Gonna save the oh-my-god-am-I-gay freak out for when I'm not dealing with the oh-my-god-I-love-a-werewolf freak out. Dude, mate, what it means. Spill."

Scott sighs, looking incredibly reluctant. "Deacon's been teaching me some stuff. More about moon cycles and behaviors. Not, like... pack stuff. One thing mentioned was mating, but it was more, like... two werewolves mating. So it doesn't really apply to you. You could leave. Whenever you wanted. If you were a werewolf all this…" He points vaguely towards Stiles' neck. "All that would mean you were getting ready to mate like... for life."

"But I'm not a werewolf," Stiles says quickly. And he's not sure if he's feeling relieved or disappointed by that.

Scott shrugs.

"You have to be careful, Stiles. You can't trust him."

Stiles falls back on the bed, staring at the ceiling.

"We're gonna have to agree to disagree, dude. I don't know what to say. He's not what you think he is."

"It's what you used to think he was," Scott points out.

And...yeah, he's not wrong. His tongue feels thick in his mouth, but he pushes the next words out.

"There's, like, two parts to my life. Pre-torture. Post-torture. Everything looks a little different through one eye."

Scott makes a sound like a scalded cat, hands fisting on his thighs.

"I was coming to find you."

"It's not about who got there first."

"I had to stop the kanima."

"So did Derek, but it still wasn't a race."

Scott doesn't answer; his jaw ticks in annoyance. Stiles can see the gold beginning to flash in his eyes.

"Agree to disagree with me, Scott. Please. Because we're not going to be okay if we don't, and I need us to be okay because... because."

They're silent for a long time after that. Scott's phone going off makes them both jump. He stands and stares at it.

"Allison," he says apologetically. "She wants to meet."

To his credit he looks genuinely torn.


Scott shakes his head. "I should stay with you. We should keep talking."

Stiles shrugs. "Not really in the mood for talking. But I'll see you tomorrow, okay? Go see Allison. Text me later."

Scott nods, already distracted by the phone in his hand. But as he reaches the door he looks back at Stiles. "Just be careful, man. I don't want to see you get hurt anymore because of this."

"He's not gonna hurt me, Scott."

Scott's jaw tightens, and he looks stubbornly at the wall. Stiles can see all the things he's not saying. And he loves him for not saying them. Because this feels like a fragile truce in a war neither one of them will admit to fighting.

"I won't join his pack. Ever. I don't want a pack at all. I'm... I'm a human, Stiles. I'm a kid and I just want... I just want to go to prom and graduate. And I can't do that if I let this be who I am." He finally looks at Stiles. "You shouldn't let it be who you are either. You're human, you don't even have to be in this. You could walk away."

"Can't really, though." He makes a vague motion towards the scars on his face and his leg.

"You can!"

The silence that follows is charged and lingers longer than Stiles can deal with.

"Listen, um, I don't need a ride tomorrow. But I'll see you fourth period, okay?"

Scott nods, obviously hurt. Obviously angry. And leaves.

Stiles sits on his bed, staring at his hands in his lap. At the curled fingers of his injured hand, specifically. The ones he can't quite straighten, that ache all the time. Some days he wishes Gerard was still alive. Just so he could kill him himself.

It's an ugly thought, one he tries to push away when he has it.

More often he just wishes it hadn't happened, period. Or that he'd been a wolf and could heal. He stares at his door, where Scott left. He feels numb. He's not sure how the small distance between he and Scott became such an uncrossable chasm. How they ended up on opposite sides of the field.


Stiles turns his head so fast his neck hurts.

Derek is hovering just outside of the window. And it's amazing that he even bothered calling out in the first place, because usually he just comes right in.

He looks awful, dirt-smeared and wild-eyed. His hair is flattened on one side, sticking out on all directions on the other. He's also ridiculously beautiful. He looks so young, and so lost, that it breaks Stiles' heart a little, makes it tap out an irregular beat as it constricts with sympathetic pain.

Derek climbs into the window with a grace that is just unfair, like ducking his head and climbing over wood is some kind of dance.

"Did you sleep outside?" There are leaves in his hair. Leaves.

Derek scowls. His hands twitch like he wants to clean himself off, but they remain stubbornly still.

"You totally slept outside. Don't you know it's more socially acceptable to bathe and look your best when, you know, presenting yourself to... I dunno, your whatever I am to you?"

Nothing. Not even a shut up, Stiles. Just the stare. Not the angry one, the one with the puppy eyes, and his stupid almost-pout, and the adorable ears, and the stubble and- sometimes Stiles hates Derek's face. And by hates he means loves, adores, is tempted to write bad rock ballads in honor of.

Derek might like rock ballads. Stiles has never heard him listen to music.

Nothing to do but bring it all up then, because apparently Derek has no intention of speaking. Ever. Or moving, obviously.

"Well, I gotta say, I thought you'd take way longer than that to come around." A horrible thought crosses his mind, slaps the smile off his face. He stares down at his lap. "Unless you're here to say it was a mistake." He forces his face into a look he hopes conveys I'm totally fine with this, whatever you want, it was so very not a big deal that I lost most of my virginity to you yesterday. "Which, I mean, I get. It's okay. It happens. I mean-"

He stops speaking as Derek kneels in front of him, fingers pressing almost painfully over the marks he left on Stiles.

"It wasn't a mistake," Derek says finally, when he's trailed the edges of the last bruise. "And I'm not using you. For Scott, or for any other reason."

And of course Derek had been listening. Derek is sexier than anything else in the world, crazy, and sometimes violent. But first and foremost he's a total fucking creeper. Stiles is realizing that he might love even Derek's creeper-ness.

Stiles swallows hard, shoves a hand into Derek's dark hair and tightens his fingers. He just wants to feel him, to know Derek is here.

"Okay. Okay, good. That's really good."

Derek snorts.

"Not good?" His eyes widen in alarm. "Dude, use your words!"

"If you were a werewolf it would... it would mean something else. More."

"You've seriously got to stop hanging around and being all stalkery like you do. Someone, someday is going to call the cops," Stiles tells him, avoiding the conversation.

"Someone already did." He gives Stiles a pointed look.

Oh. Right. He scrunches up his face and shrugs.

He scoots back when Derek climbs up on the bed, pulling his jacket off and letting it slide to the floor. Derek pushes him down into the mattress, his body covering Stiles'. His hands are cupping Stiles' head, his face his buried in his neck, which is unsurprising by now. Stiles' heartbeat calms, slows. If he pays close attention he thinks he can hear it matching the rhythm of Derek's.

"Hey, hey. Are our hearts actually beating at the same time? 'Cause, dude, that's like the stuff of Disney movies right there. I really am your mate. I'm, like, your soul mate. Your other half. We were meant to be. Holy shit." He's only half joking, but he's curious about Derek's reaction.

Derek's reaction is to bite him. Not with fangs, just with normal, human teeth. But ow.

"So, not your soul mate?" Stiles asks, and is mortified when disappointment bleeds into his voice.

Derek sighs long sufferingly. He turns his head so that it's resting on Stiles' shoulder. He's sprawled completely over Stiles' body like a giant wolf-human blanket. Stiles has no desire to complain.

"He was right about what it means for two werewolves to do what I've been doing to you. The... scent marking. The biting, yesterday. If you were another werewolf the intention would be clear. I'd be claiming you. But you aren't a werewolf."

"Intentions are pretty clear even for a stupid human, buddy."

Derek doesn't even glare. He presses his hand flat over Stiles' heart, and Stiles feels the flutter of his eyelashes against his shoulder as he closes his eyes.

"You're young."

"And you're ancient?" "

Older than you think," Derek replies.

And that does give Stiles a pause. Not because he cares, whatever. Emotionally, Derek is barely past the legal age of consent himself. But because if that's true, then do werewolves...

"Lycanthropy slows the aging process? Dude, by how much? Are you like... fifty? Sixty? I mean, not that I care. No, you can't be that old. The fire was... ten years ago." He hates bringing up the fire, has rarely done it, actually. "And you were sixteen."

"That's what we told people."

Stiles scrunches up his nose and fills his cheeks with air, thinking.

"So, you were older. But how much older?"

"A few years."

Stiles lets out a relieved laugh. "Dude, you're acting like you're geriatric. So you're, what, thirty? Somewhere around that?"

"Somewhere," Derek replies, voice completely lacking in inflection.

"Well, we know you can still get it up, no Viagra needed, so I'm of the opinion that your age, and by extension mine, doesn't mean shit."

"I just meant you're too young to know what mating would mean, even for a human with a werewolf. It doesn't have to be. That."

Stiles rolls his eyes. He knows Derek wouldn't demand a lifetime of commitment from him in exchange for a blowjob. What the hell? And that's not even saying how Stiles might just want a lifetime commitment. Like something better than Derek is going to come along.

"God, you were way less annoying when you were choking on my cock, you know that?"

He shocks even himself by saying it, but his dick takes a serious interest at that. Derek huffs. He's only seventeen, so of course thinking about it is turning him on. He can't help it. Derek laughs against his skin, warm air on his stomach doing nothing to stop his dick from being interested.

"Oh, shut up." Despite his hard on he does hear what Derek's been saying. He purses his lips, thinking.

"So your parents were...?"

Derek grunts in the affirmative. Stiles sighs because they really need to work on Derek's communication.

"And that's forever. When it's two wolves."

It's not really a question, he just wants to be sure. He's brushing a hand through Derek's hair, picking at bits of leaves and branches. He imagines Derek alone in the woods, sleeping off the worst of his panic. Stiles used to run away, after his mom died.

"Till death. Most of the time," Derek finally says, voice cold and distant.

Stiles leaves that alone for now. One issue at a time.

"But humans...?"

Derek raises his head, pressing a desperate, hard kiss to Stiles' lips. He kisses him until neither one has breath left.

"You'll always be able to leave." It sounds like it hurts Derek to say that.

"You or the pack?" He doesn't want to leave. Not the pack, not Derek.

"Either. Both."

"And you think I'll want to." He swallows because what he's about to say is hard, and he doesn't want to hurt Derek. "Worse than that, you think if I choose to stay someone will hurt me."

Derek lifts his face enough to press his lips to the scar on his face. "Someone already did."

Stiles shudders, presses himself tighter against Derek, steals his warmth. For a long while he tries to settle down and actually think about this. He knows Derek won't accept an abrupt answer, and if Stiles tries to just agree Derek will disappear for a week or two or three, to let him sort it out.

He lazily traces the tattoo on Derek's back through his thin t-shirt, kisses his shoulder. Derek rubs his face against Stiles' neck. Fucking scenting.

"Jackson kept telling me I smelled," he complains halfheartedly. He's still thinking

"Jackson's an idiot," Derek says.

Stiles nudges him gently, kisses his shoulder again. "You love him. You don't fool me. Not after... what happened... you know. Then. And the last few weeks. Yesterday. I know you love the pack." He doesn't say, I'm pretty sure you love me, too, even though he thinks it.

Derek kisses him, slow and soft. He brushes the hair off of Stiles' forehead and rubs his cheek against his temple.

"You are seriously just a giant puppy. God, does the rest of the pack know you're like this?"

Derek snorts against his skin and it's less than sexy, but stupidly endearing. Stiles finds himself smiling in spite of the seriousness of their current conversation.

Stiles is seventeen, which is not much older than Derek was when Kate Argent fucked his entire world. He's got to be sensitive about the age difference, about the timing of. Not to mention his mom and dad being mated and then killed. And... yes. Derek is a boatload of unresolved emotional issues. Stiles himself is... not... unfamiliar with the state of being.

Stiles still visits his mom's grave. On her birthday, on the anniversary of her death, at Christmas, on New Year's. He still can't really even talk about her dying. And the torture has brought on a whole new set of issues. And the anxiety attacks are back.

They are a perfect fucked up pair, the two of them.

"You have to know I'm not going anywhere," he says, finally.

"You should."

"Oh my god, shut up, Derek." He kisses him, rolling them over so that he's looking down at Derek against the pale blue of his sheets.

"You'll want to," Derek tells him, sounding so certain.

"Are you hoping I turn you down, here? Because you started this," Stiles tells him, dancing his fingers up his arms, across his chest. "Take this off," he demands suddenly, plucking at Derek's shirt in annoyance.

He's sort of shocked when Derek does exactly that. Shocked that Derek listens. More shocked that apparently this- all this muscle and smooth, scarless skin, so warm under his shaking fingertips- is something he can touch not just when Derek wants, but when Stiles wants to.

"How about this? Listen. Because this is good, might even be brilliant, because let's face it, with Lydia gone I'm the most brilliant person alive. Ever. I'm going to stay right here, in Beacon Hills, doing my high school thing. I'm gonna come over constantly, like every day, because I kind of love my pack, too. And you and I are going to do this," he points between them both. "As much of this, whatever this is or could be, and try to make sure my dad does not find out that I'm boning the older guy I once accused of murder who turned out to be a werewolf."

Derek is looking up at him, one eyebrow raised, his expression clearly saying why are you such an idiot. But Stiles knows him, it's alarming how well he knows him, and he sees the fondness, the affection. The fear and the relief fighting in those eyes.

He leans down, kissing Derek, pushing his hips against him until he shifts and they are slotted together perfectly. His cock, half hard just from being horizontal with Derek, snugged right up next to Derek's with only jeans to separate them.

"And if I go away to college there's always Skype for sex. And you can come to my dorm and roll all over my stuff. But that's a while from now, so we don't even have to, like, really think about it right now."

Derek is hard; his cock jumps when Stiles drags his hand over it. Derek growls, lifting his hips, pressing harder into Stiles' hand.

"But this is the best part. Oh god." Because Derek's pushing his sweats down over his ass, hands grabbing at his cheeks and pulling him so close it almost hurts. "Stop, stop. This is, oh, oh, this is the important part."

He pushes away from Derek's chest but it doesn't create as much distance as he needs to form a complete sentence. Derek's hands are fucking massaging his ass, fingers feathering between his cheeks, brushing over his-

"Oh my god, you. You have to listen."

He collapses against Derek's chest, hand trapped between them over Derek's cock.

Derek's breath is warm against his temple.

"I'm listening," he says.

"I reserve the right to ask for the bite. Any- any time I want to. But not until." His breath stutters, his hips buck, as Derek's warm finger rubs in increasingly small circles over his hole.

"Not until..." Derek encourages, like he's not the reason Stiles can't get this freaking sentence out.

"Not until we're sure, both of us. What this is and- Derek, please, oh god, please-" Derek's finger presses in, barely breaching the tight ring of muscle, but fuck- "And we know what we want, that we want it for, for as long as you said."

"And if you get hurt?" Derek asks.

"I get hurt all the time." Which isn't the thing to say because Derek goes very still underneath him. "I mean, I don't know what you're asking. Derek, you can't, this can't. I'm pack, I'm human. I'm going to get hurt."

Derek flips them over with terrifying speed. Stiles doesn't even know what's happening until he's underneath Derek again, legs spread as wide as his sweats will allow when they're only down to his knees. Derek holds his face in his hands and there's red bleeding into the gray-gold of his eyes.

"If you get hurt," he stops, swallows hard, and continues. "If you get hurt, bad enough that doctors and hospitals won't help, will you let me bite you? Will you let me try?"

Stiles leans up, presses his forehead against Derek's and smiles. "I authorize you to take extreme measures to ensure my continued survival, yes. You have blanket permission, should I be unable to speak for myself at the time. I'll even tell Scott."

Derek's lips press urgently against his own, tongue licking into Stiles' mouth, licking over his teeth, moving against Stiles' own tongue. Stiles manages to kick his sweats the rest of the way, gets his hands between them and unzips Derek's jeans, trying to get them off.

Derek smirks as he pulls back, shoving his pants down.

"About that other part of the whole mating-sex thing," Stiles stutters, as Derek kisses the inside of his knee and begins moving up his leg.

"What about the other part?" Derek asks, looking up at Stiles, mouth barely half a foot from Stiles' leaking cock.

Fuck, fuck, fuck,Derek is terrible at the fake innocence, but the puppy eyes still do things to Stiles' stomach.

"I don't think we should wait to do that part," Stiles breathes out. "The you inside of me part. We should do that, like, now."


Those words, coming from that mouth, are almost enough to make Derek come in his jeans, again. It raises instincts he usually keeps under tight control. Except that yesterday, yesterday, he'd let them go. Just for a little while. And it had been okay. It had been fine. Mostly.

He nuzzles his face in the juncture of Stiles' hip, licking and biting at the hot skin there. The scent of Stiles is almost overwhelmingly strong here, and Derek could stay for hours, could suck Stiles down again, get better at doing that.

Hands in his hair pull his head up.

Stiles looks dazed; his cheeks are flushed.

"No. No. Not that that isn't... that's... amazing. But I want. Derek, I want-"

He doesn't finish the sentence because Derek licks the tip of his cock, just the head, to taste his precome. He growls at the taste, savors it on his tongue.

"God, Derek."

Derek pulls himself off of Stiles' cock, crawls up his body to kiss him deeply, to let him taste himself on Derek's tongue. Stiles whimpers and claws at his back, kissing him with a desperation that Derek can scent and taste. And then he smells Scott, who is not pack, and whose scent is everywhere. And not just Scott, the Sheriff as well. He feels himself shifting, claws coming out, teeth lengthening.

He tears him mouth away.

"Not here," Derek whispers against Stiles' jaw. "Not here. Your father. Scott."

He can't do this here. It has to be his, his scent and Stiles'. He doesn't want Scott's scent. He isn't pack. That's not how this should be. Instinct is screaming at him.

Stiles is shaking his head, pulling him back down again to kiss him. It feels like it's been a lifetime since someone wanted him this much. Not just sex, plenty of people have come on to him despite his grouchy demeanor because of how he looks.

Stiles is the first who might actually want him for his grouchy demeanor.

He wrenches himself away from Stiles, harnessing more control than he would have given himself credit for having at the moment.

"Not. Here." He's breathing heavily, chest heaving.

Stiles looks equal measures fearful and turned on.


Stiles reaches for Derek, and Derek leaves the bed, pulls up his jeans, ducks out of the window. Shoeless and shirtless, but that's not a first. If Stiles touches him, Derek's not sure if he'll fuck him into the mattress without regard for this being his first time or bite him, and neither of those things can happen.

"Come to the house."

And then he's down, running, into the woods, the familiar scent of earth and trees. He doesn't stop until the house is in sight, blissfully empty of teenagers.

He goes up the stairs, collapsing onto his bed, which still smells like Stiles. Like this, with just his scent and Stiles, he can get control of himself. Can keep control of himself. He thinks it will be easier, later, after the first time. He's not sure. His parents hadn't approved of Kate- bitter, bitter hindsight, which is twenty/twenty, of course they hadn't liked her- and hadn't told him anything about mating or what it could mean.

All of his knowledge is hand-me-down stuff Laura taught him before she ran off and was killed and the bits he observed between his parents. It's pure instinct telling him that sleeping with Stiles for the first time anywhere but his own den is a bad idea.

He'd lost his virginity to Kate in the back of a car and it hadn't felt right then, but he hadn't known enough to realize it. Hadn't known anything. And it's not like he's been bed hopping ever since. When the one person you've been with turns out to be a psychotic killer who murders your whole family it makes you a little... gun shy. If he's going to... if this is going to happen with Stiles, he wants it to be right, from the start.

Even if Stiles will leave someday.

It's two hours later, just when Derek's managed convince himself that he's actually driven Stiles away- stupid, the wolf part of him thinks, Stiles is pack, true pack, he won't leave- that he hears the familiar rumble of Jackson's car.

He closes his eyes and shakes his head at himself. He's such an idiot sometimes. Stiles can't drive, and he's not a wolf, he can't run that far.

He waits in the bedroom, not daring to go downstairs on the off chance that Jackson has followed Stiles inside. At the sound of Jackson's car driving away he lets out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. The door downstairs opens and as soon as he's in the house Derek can hear his heart beating. He listens to Stiles making his way up the stairs, can hear how fast he's breathing, smell lust and... something softer than fear. Apprehension, maybe. Not fear though.

And then another smell hits him and he's off the bed, nearly tearing the door off in his haste to open it. Stiles freezes about five feet from the door as it bangs open.

"Lube?" Derek rasps out, panting in a desperate breath. All the blood in his body has gone straight to his cock.

Stiles blinks and then smiles, the barest lift of his lips. "You seemed like patience might be an issue, before. At my house."


Stiles narrows his eyes, considering. And then it seems to click. He smile widens.

"Do you want me to tell you?" he asks, moving again, closing the distance between them. He swallows audibly, giving himself away. But his voice is still steady when he leans up to kiss Derek's jaw and says, "Do you want me to tell you about how I didn't call for a ride until I could get four fingers inside me? I've done it before. Two. Sometimes three. But I know how big you are. Figured three wouldn't be enough."

Derek turns them, crushes Stiles against the wall, hiking his legs around his waist. Stiles' entire body is trembling, head to toe. How can he be so certain and so unsure at the same time?

He looks down at Derek with wide eyes, and in the dim light of the house they glint like burnished gold. When he tilts his head back they change again, liquid amber. Derek gets lost in them for a little while, feels both of their heart beats slow. Stiles' lips are parted, as if to speak or kiss but he's just staring at Derek. He looks at Derek like he's something rare. Derek's beginning to wonder if Stiles really doesn't know that he's the rarity. It's enough to calm Derek down, to want to take his time. The wolf in him and the man in him wanting the same thing at the same time.

"You didn't have to. I would have taken my time with you." Derek kisses underneath Stiles' chin, the side of his jaw, all along that pale, creamy neck. "I would have been careful."

"I know you would have." And he means it, no doubt in his mind that Derek could have controlled the wolf. "You can be, next time."

Stiles' head falls forward against Derek's shoulder, and he rubs his face against Derek's neck, the side of his face. He continues on several minutes, and then he's kissing Derek again.

"I can't mark you, with the freakish healing, but I can definitely scent you," Stiles says against his lips.

Derek gets a good grip around Stiles' thighs and walks them back towards the bedroom. He's careful when he lays Stiles onto the bed, and when he pulls his shirt off and kisses each and every mark he left the day before. Stiles kicks his shoes off and Derek pulls his socks off for him, throws them across the room. It must tickle, because Stiles laughs, and Derek kisses the curve of his smile. He pulls off the sweatpants Stiles is still wearing and is greeted with the sight of Stiles completely and utterly naked.

Derek moans softly. Stiles is long and lean, not all that much shorter than Derek himself, just... smaller. Stretched out. His stomach is flat but soft, his chest is firm and his arms and legs are corded muscle. Moles dot his skin, like markers, leading up and over his muscle. Derek stares and stares, until Stiles starts to squirm and the flush in his cheeks races over the rest of his body. He wedges a knee between Stiles' thighs, presses down gently against the hardness of his cock, just to watch his mouth fall open, his eyes shut. He licks his Adam's apple, bites the side of his neck.

Derek can wrap his entire arm around Stiles' waist, and so he does, pulling the boy up off the mattress and sitting back so that Stiles straddles his thighs. His cock nudges between Stiles' cheeks and Derek has to stop himself from just shoving into his tight heat and taking.

"Tell me yes, tell me you want this."

Stiles looks dazed, drugged. He stares down into Derek's eyes like all the secrets in the known universe will be there. They aren't. The only secrets hiding in Derek's eyes are the dark and heartbreaking ones that he's never shared. The ones Stiles stumbles over and figures out without even trying.

"Derek, seriously? Yes, oh my god, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Okay?" He kisses Derek's face after every word.

Derek reaches with his free hand, the one that's not clutching Stiles to him, and presses a finger into Stiles. He's wet and open, but Derek could open him more. With just his fingers he could stretch him out. Stiles' finger are slim and delicate. Derek's are blunter, wider, thicker.

"Fuck. Yeah. Yes." Stiles presses back against the fingers. "More. You can put more. It's okay."

And Derek does without even thinking, obeys Stiles' wishes and puts another finger in, thrusts it carefully in and out. He adds a third without being told. He's not sure- he's never done this- but he must be doing something right because Stiles is writhing and whining, sweat slicked skin rubbing on Derek's.

"Listen to me," Stiles gasps, holding Derek's face again, forcing eye contact. And that's perfect, looking into Stiles' eyes when they're like this, when part of Derek is inside of him. "It's going to hurt. You are going to smell pain. But I will tell you if I need you to stop." Stiles' eyes are wide, his lips are trembling.

All Derek can smell is lust and overwhelming need.

"You want me to. Now." It's not a question, he knows the answer, but he waits for Stiles to nod anyway.

Derek lines his cock up to Stiles' entrance, just resting it there, and grabs his slim hips. He knows Stiles; if he lets him control this he'll just impale himself without thought. He's worse than the wolf inside of Derek sometimes.

Instead, Derek lowers him bit by bit, watching his face. Smelling pain, like Stiles had said he would, but not strongly. But Stiles keeps his eyes open and on Derek's. Derek couldn't look away if he wanted to.

Stiles' legs tremble, and he curls his arms tighter around Derek's neck. They're forehead to forehead when Derek finally pushes the last of his length in.

Stiles breathes hot air against Derek's lips where they are almost-not-quite kissing. He's shaking, there are tears in the corners of his eyes. Derek wants to pull out, to check him. He doesn't like the smell of pain coming off of Stiles now, more than a moment ago. It smells like smoke, like fire. It's acrid, it burns his lungs.

"It's okay. It's okay. Oh god, it's fine. Derek, just stay with me."

He grabs fistfuls of Derek's hair and pulls his face into his neck.

"Here, smell here. You and me. It's you and me. And it's good. It's a good pain. Fuck. You're just huge." Stiles laughs breathlessly.

Derek breathes in deeply, moving them both as his chest rises and falls. And yes, Stiles is right. Right here, the place where Stiles smells not just like himself but of everything that encompasses his life.

It's not the line of his hip, or the musk of his cock. That's all purely Stiles.

This, this spot smells like Stiles and Derek together, it smells like lacrosse and the Jeep, the woods, Derek's house. It smells like the pack. This place, right behind Stiles' ear, it doesn't smell like pain.

He's not sure how long they stay that way, locked together but not moving. Their hearts stop racing, their breathing slows. Derek can think again. He meets Stiles' gaze and kisses him.

"You can so totally move now," Stiles whispers against his lips.

Derek does move, a careful roll of his hips.

"Tight. Stiles. So... didn't know." He kisses the boy, fucks up into him again, gentle and slow.

They last that way for about five minutes before Derek smells a tendril of pain in the heady midst of pleasure.

"Leg," Stiles says, before he even asks.

But he doesn't slow the up and down movement of his body, doesn't let go of Derek's shoulders or push him off. Derek manhandles him into a different position, which is harder than it should because Stiles is all arms and legs and they are wrapped around Derek and refusing to let go.

He ends up curled behind Stiles, arms wrapped around him, Stiles' good leg up over his hip, as he presses back into him. The angle isn't perfect and his thrusts are shallow. But the pace is slow and calm, the air in the room warm. Stiles makes soft sighing noises, low whimpers. No scent of fear or pain. Derek kisses Stiles' neck, his shoulder blades, his ears, the back of his head. Anywhere his lips can reach.

When he feels the way Stiles' stomach is quivering under his spread out hand he shifts and deepens the angle. He wraps a hand around Stiles' cock, strokes him slow and easy until he's making a never ending stream of moans and whimpers, whispering, "Please, Derek, please."

Derek tightens his grip, jerks with purpose, wanting to feel Stiles come. Needing it more than his own release. And then Stiles is crying out and shooting into Derek's hand. Derek slows the roll of his hips until he stops. Stiles is panting, breathing as if he's been running for miles. Derek's so close to coming he can taste it, but he doesn't want to hurt Stiles. He can pull out and-

And then he realizes Stiles isn't just breathing hard, he's sobbing. Derek tries to pull away but Stiles digs his nails into his skin and he stops. Stiles is sobbing, but it's words. It's, "Come in me, don't stop, please don't stop, I need you to. Derek, please." A wild litany that doesn't stop until Derek starts fucking him again.

Stiles sighs in something like relief and meets every thrust. He kisses Derek's hand, his wrist, the inside of his arm, and when Derek's rhythm stutters and falls apart, when he's coming inside of him, Stiles twists as far as he can and kisses his lips, takes the noises Derek's making into his own mouth.

Afterwards everything seems slow and quiet. Stiles doesn't babble, but Derek's fairly certain this is an okay quiet, not the alarming quiet of before. Derek kisses Stiles shoulders, his neck. Soft and soothing presses of his lips as he pulls out slowly.

He can smell pain on Stiles, but it's a muted scent that could be lost in the bright scent of happiness and post-coital satisfaction.

"Totally not a virgin anymore," Stiles murmurs tiredly.

That hits Derek in the gut in a way he wasn't expecting. He knew, of course he knew, that Stiles was a virgin. But it hadn't occurred to him what it would mean, to take that. What it must mean to Stiles, or what it had meant to him when Kate-

"You're okay?" he manages to ask through the emotion stuck in his throat.

Stiles turns in his arms, looks up at him from the nest of Derek's pillows and blankets. His face is blissful, soft and open. His eyes are dark now, heavy lidded.

"Yeah, of course I am," Stiles answers, and he kisses Derek.

Derek's surprised to realize he's shaking. Just small shivers that race up and down his body. Stiles notices, of course he does.

"Are you okay?"

He doesn't answer, can't answer.

He doesn't want to say Kate's name, doesn't want to ruin this with that. But the comparisons are suddenly blindsiding him. Kate had been older than him, had intimidated him. He'd thought he liked it, at the time. But he remembers feeling uneasy in the back of the car as she put her clothes back on like what they'd just done was nothing.

"Derek?" Stiles, Stiles with his ability to hear what Derek's never willing to say. "It's not like you and her. You know that, right? Whatever... whatever it was with her... it's not this. I would never-" He chokes on the words, sucks in a desperate breath. Derek's arms tighten around him. "And you would never. It's not. It's not. So don't. Okay? Just. Don't." "

"Don't be an idiot," Derek manages to say. "I trust you."

This, more than anything, seems to make Stiles the happiest. It rolls off of him in waves. He smiles slyly at Derek.

"The kids will be so happy. When should we tell them?" Stiles' grin stretches ridiculously wide.

Derek rolls onto his back and smacks a hand over his face.

"Shut up," he growls out.

Stiles bursts into bright laughter, rolling on top of Derek, peppering his hand with kisses until Derek moves it and looks at him.

"We should do it again," Stiles tells him.


"Yes. Now. Oh my god, I want to not even be able to sit tomorrow. Come on, man, you can get it up again, right?" He sits up, hands roaming down Derek's sides. "Because that? That was awesome. And we can really only get better. With practice. A lot of practice."

Derek groans. "Virgins."

Stiles laughs again, laughs until Derek tackles him onto his back and sucks his cock down to the very base. It's good to know how to shut the kid up, if he's going to be so damned talkative again.


Stiles spends the next two weeks in a haze. If he were of a mind to he would totally be understanding Scott's Allison-induced stupidity. Especially when added to Scott's natural tendency to not be the sharpest crayon in the box. Unfortunately, he isn't really of a mind to, and when the thoughts come to him once or twice they're immediately lost again in Derek, sex, school, sex, Derek, pack.

All the things that keep his mind occupied these days.

Derek is still Derek. After the first few days, when he's a little softer and gentler than Stiles could imagine him being, he goes back to being the sourwolf that Stiles loves anyway. Except that he kisses Stiles if he pushes him up against the wall, and when he tells him to shut up, and when he's done yelling at him for putting a hole in the new kitchen wall.

Stiles doesn't really talk to Scott so much for those two weeks. Partially because he doesn't want his not-a-virgin-anymore-fucking-a-hot-guy buzz killed. And Scott is sure to kill it since he won't stop shooting Stiles glances that suggest he smells like dead things.

Which is actually the opposite of how Erica and Jackson- fucking Jackson, an ass no matter the circumstances- react. Which is to say they don't leave him alone unless he's actually with Derek. Or at home.

The first time he catches Jackson with his head down on his desk in fifth period, so close to Stiles his nose is almost touching, he yelps and falls out of his chair. Not his fault. He'd turned around to ask something and looked down to see Jackson practically nuzzling him.

Disconcerting is not the half of it.

The second time it happens he smacks Jackson in the face with his test papers and gets detention.

Erica is just a giant pervert. She licks Stiles' face four times before Derek loses it and puts her in her place. Which makes Stiles feel a little bad, but the licking was a bit much. She settles for nuzzling his shoulder whenever she can instead.

Isaac is just extra cuddly, and Boyd doesn't do much but smile sometimes, when Stiles thinks he's gotten a particularly strong whiff of alpha off of Stiles.

By the time November rolls around things seem to have settled.

Jackson is distracted by rumors that Lydia is coming back after the winter break. Derek's fairly certain that Boyd and Erica have finally hooked up, something he only tells Stiles by accident in bed one night. Scott and Allison seem to be a thing again, but Stiles doesn't know for sure since he and Scott still haven't really talked. There's no animosity, not really. Just... distance.

When he talks to Derek about it he says it's probably instinct, at least on Scott's part. Packs don't necessarily mingle. And Scott's firm on the not being part of Derek's pack thing. Whereas Stiles has obviously fallen heavily on the side of yes, definitely in Derek's pack.

And there's the matter of Allison herself. Stiles gets what grief can do to a person. He even understands her murderous intentions toward Derek. But Derek hadn't mauled her mother. He'd bitten her in self-defense while trying to save Scott's life. And then her grandfather had tortured and scared Stiles for life, so. All things being equal he's content to not really be around her for a while.

So he's missing his best friend, but that's all he can really complain about at the moment, and that's not so bad. He's certain he and Scott will work it out. They'd made it through the great broken batman action figure of fourth grade, after all.

It's the middle of November and it's cold. Stiles is bundled up in four layers and has his hood thrown up over his head. He's been contemplating shaving his head again but between the weather and Derek's tendency to pet his hair out of the bedroom and pull it in the bedroom he hasn't quite gotten around to that.

There's a small, very small- and Derek is forever going into the house to check on it- fire in the house that he could go sit in front of, but the rest of the pack is in the yard and he wants to be with them.

Jackson is impressing everyone with his ability to change single parts of himself at will and acting like he doesn't care if they're impressed or not. Annoying as he is, Stiles is impressed by that level of control. He knows Derek is even though all the alpha offers is a gruff, "That's good."

Everything is perfectly peaceful, Stiles leaning against Derek's chest and soaking up as much warmth as he can get, the pups playing, and then it's not. The wolves and Jackson are suddenly on alert, watching the trail they all drive to get here. Derek pushes Stiles behind him but doesn't let him go. Stiles can feel his claws where his hand is wrapped around his arm.

"What is it? Derek? Hey!"

Isaac pops out of fucking nowhere. Derek let's go of Stiles' arm, and then Isaac is dragging Stiles back towards the house.

"Hey! No! No. You do not get to just manhandle me out of the way."

But Isaac doesn't loosen his grip, he keeps pulling him back. Away from the pack. Away from Derek.

"It's the Argents. We don't know which yet. Just let me take you to the porch where you'll have cover... in case... something happens."

The moment he says Argent Stiles loses the ability to walk or talk properly, legs tripping each other until Isaac is practically carrying him. It's stupid, because if Allison was going to come after him, she would have. Right? They've had nearly three months since school started. Plenty of time where Stiles was alone. An easy mark.

But Derek. There's no reason to assume they won't still be after Derek.

"Derek!" Panic wells up in his chest, his fingers dig into Isaac's arms. "Please don't let them. Isaac!"

Isaac whines, nuzzling his face against Stiles. The pain in his chest eases but doesn't go away.

"We don't know what they want yet. It'll be fine. Derek can handle this now," Isaac says, all soft and soothing tones.

The moment he realizes it's Chris Argent alone and seemingly unarmed, Stiles shakes Isaac off. Isaac lets him step off the porch, getting two steps away before stepping back in front of Stiles. Chris raises his arms, keeping his hands visible. And that's like the universal gesture of I come in peace, right? Right.


Stiles keeps watching the trail for more trucks, the woods for more men, the fucking car for any more doors opening.

"You're trespassing," Derek says. He sounds perfectly calm, if annoyed.

"I know. I," Chris pauses, makes a low sound like a hum and continues. "I just want to know why. For my sake, for my daughter's. Why did you kill my wife?"

"I didn't kill your wife. From all I've heard, you did that."

Chris's jaw tightens and he says, through clenched teeth, "You bit her. Why?"

"Could have asked before you let your batshit crazy father loose!" Stiles screams, the words exploding out of seemingly nowhere.

Isaac looks over his shoulder at him with wide eyes.

"Stiles?" Chris squints, looking past Derek and Isaac.

Stiles pushes Isaac, who looks to Derek briefly before moving out of his way. He stays close, so close that Stiles can still feel his warmth at his back.

"If you had taken two minutes to wonder why a werewolf who'd never tried to kill a human before suddenly tried to, none of this would have happened!"

Chris opens his mouth as if to answer, his eyes angry. He closes it again.

"Your wife tried to kill Scott. For the incredibly ridiculous reason of him loving your daughter! Do you even realize how friggin' messed up that is?" Bitter laughter bubbles out of Stiles. "Because he loved her so stupidly that he never even realized that- that you would never see past what he was. She tried to kill him with wolf's bane and we had to- you know what? We had to let the kanima go so Derek could save him!"

Jackson hisses, a thick, sad sound. Stiles hadn't even noticed him shift. Hadn't noticed him make his winding way over to Stiles to crouch at his feet. His tail whips in agitation behind Stiles.

"We didn't know. No one told us."

Words come up like vomit, violent and sour-sickly. They've been rotting inside Stiles for months. "Oh, fuck off. You didn't care! You didn't give a shit about why! And then you let that psycho get in your daughter's head, like he obviously got into your sister's! You declared war on us without any facts or evidence. Just the word of two people so far gone on hate that they- they- they just wanted to kill..." It's so fucking hard to breathe. "She tried to kill him. Where's that in your code? Huh? Where's killing and torturing wolves who've never spilled blood. Where's the clause in your code that says it's totally okay to torture a human kid? Where is it? Explain it to me!"

He's crying and it's humiliating. Crying like he did when Gerard broke every single finger in his hand.

"I killed him! I killed my own father for that!" Chris shouts, finally pushed beyond shocked silence.

"Yeah? Fat lot of fucking good it did me, huh? Look at me!"

With a start he realizes how close he is to the man, in his face and screaming. Close enough to hit, to kill with his bare hands if he wanted to.

"Look. At. Me," he says again, quieter.

If his anger were a blade every word would cut. They're both breathing hard, chests heaving, and Chris does look at Stiles.

"I didn't know he had you. I would have stopped him sooner," Chris explains.

"That's the problem, isn't it? You never know. Didn't know your sister burnt down a house full of innocent people. Didn't know your wife tried to kill an innocent werewolf, who never hurt anyone. Didn't know your dad had kidnapped a teenager so he could break every finger on his hand and make him half blind."

Stiles can hear Derek talking, low and muted, intended for Jackson and the wolves.

"He broke my ring finger and my pinky in two places. He broke four ribs. Shoved his knife into my thigh nearly to the bone." Stiles laughs again, a twisted, tired sound. "But it's fine. It's okay. You didn't know."

There's complete silence in the yard except for the sound of Jackson's tail whipping low to the ground, hitting dead leaves. Derek's hand lands warm and firm on Stiles' shoulder. He turns him and pulls him up against him. Stiles lets himself be pulled, presses his face against in Derek's neck.

"What do you want?" Derek finally asks.

"I just wanted to see if we could... if we could make a truce. So that we don't repeat the mistakes we've already made," Chris says, and Stiles is viciously happy with how halting and unsure he sounds.

Derek goes tense. "Why don't you try just worrying about honoring your code?"

Chris grunts as if he's been hit, and then he says, "It won't be enough. Other hunters will come, other creatures. If we can establish a way to work together now then we'll be ready for them when they come. And that will keep everyone safe. My daughter. Your pack."

"I'll think about it," Derek answers finally.

"You know where to find me."

Stiles stays where he is until the sound of Chris Argent's car fades. He stays until he hears the rest of the pack move away toward the house. Derek's immovable, holding him tight with one arm. Stiles clutches at his back, fisting his shirt in his hands. When they're alone, he screams silently against Derek's neck.

"You're okay," Derek says finally, when the cold air means the sun has gone down and Stiles is shivering despite the warmth of Derek wrapped around him.

When Stiles doesn't move Derek starts prodding him towards the house. Stiles walks in shuffling steps, stopping occasionally to just lean into Derek.

"They're worried," Stiles mumbles against Derek's arm.

He can feel it, strumming through him like a never ending note on a guitar.

"You can feel them?" Derek doesn't sound particularly surprised.

Stiles nods and moves closer to Derek. He smells good, safe. He always does, but it's stronger right now. Some sort of freakish wolf pheromone.

"You're going to take him up on it, right? He's not wrong. It's the smartest thing. The safest for the pack. I don't like it, but at least if we work with them no one's going to get accidentally killed. Tortured. You know. Yeah. Might be good." His words are slurring together, his entire body feels heavy.

"Shut up, Stiles."

He's shivering. He wasn't cold before but he's freezing now. Even when they get to the house, get inside, he still feels frozen.

"It's the adrenaline, you know that. The anxiety." Derek sounds impatient and frustrated, but Stiles knows it's not directed towards him.

Stiles' anxiety and panic attacks are still an issue, and Derek gets weird about the things that set him off even when those things aren't Chris Argent. Stiles will get them under control; he knows he will, he did before. But it feels more difficult this second time around. As if he used all his energy up in the first fight.

There's whimpering in the living room, and Stiles is surprised when Derek brings him that way.

They're curled up a pile of blankets on the floor. All four of them. Jackson's stretched around one edge like a barrier, with Isaac's hand in his hair and his eyes half closed. Erica is curled up in Boyd's lap and Isaac's head is on Boyd's knee. They look warm and comfortable and safe. Stiles suddenly wants nothing more than to curl up with them. They've left them a spot in the middle and Derek climbs over Jackson and sits. He pulls on Stiles, lays them both down, and wraps himself around Stiles. He presses his hand over Stiles' chest, presses his face against the back of his neck.

He feels a hand brushing over his hair, tangling in it, and recognizes it as Jackson's. Someone nudges their foot under his calf and he's fairly certain it's Boyd. Erica wraps her hand around his and holds on. Isaac's head nudges against his and Derek's.

It's nice, the touches. The nervous strumming in his chest eases. It takes a while, but they finally all settle down. Stiles is half asleep, and Derek begins sucking a lazy mark onto his shoulder where he's pushed Stiles' shirt down.

"Seriously inappropriate, dude," he says quietly.

Erica laughs.

"I'm the one who's gonna have to stare at them on Monday anyways," Jackson sighs. "We need to switch seats. Bad enough you always smell like him."

Derek makes a rumbling noise that may or may not be a growl and starts on another hickey. Stiles shoots Derek a look over his shoulder.

"You want pack cuddles, fine. I'm cool with that. I like a good snuggle as much as the next guy. And this is an attractive pile. But you are not doing this in the middle of the pile."

Derek has the balls to look annoyed at him. Annoyed. At him. Like Stiles is the one venturing them into exhibition territory without asking first.

"He's just marking you," Isaac pipes up.

"Did Stiles just call you hot, Jackson?" Erica says.

Stiles scowls.

"I am hot," Jackson replies, without moving his hand from Stiles' hair.

His life, Stiles realizes, is way more bizarre than he'd ever anticipated it being.

Derek's lips quirks up at the corner in what Stiles now knows is a full blown grin to normal people. He lowers his head, eyes on Stiles, and licks the curve of his shoulder. Tentative, like he never is.

And that is just cheating, as bad as using the puppy eyes.

The upside is that Stiles has got control of his dick at the moment and isn't in danger of causing a pack orgy. Derek makes one more mark and then turns Stiles around, tucking him against his chest.

Derek is particularly insistent on touching and pack-piles whenever Stiles comes close to a panic attack. Not that Stiles minds. Growing up without a mom, no matter how his dad tried, had guaranteed a certain lack of physical comfort. Derek and the pack seem to be trying to make up for the lack a thousand times over.

A log crackles in the fireplace, adjusting. Derek's head whips around to check it.

"Hey," Stiles whispers.

Derek looks at him with wide eyes.

Stiles feels the slight tremor that runs through Derek's body, and then Derek's kissing him. Light, barely there kisses at the corner of his mouth, over his bottom lip, down across his jaw. Derek's hand at the base of skull holds him still as Derek nuzzles behind his ear and licks.

"Derek." He can't help the way it comes out, low and needy.

Derek growls in response, hands tightening on Stiles, mouth pressing firmly to his. And oh, fuck, Stiles really doesn't want a werewolf orgy but if Derek doesn't stop-

But then Derek's getting up, dragging Stiles with him. The pack barely notice, just shift and move until they're pressed together, filling the space Derek and Stiles just left.

"Put the fire out," Derek growls, and Stiles sees Boyd leave the pile to obey the order.

Derek is funny about fire even on a good day.

Stiles leans on his chest and kisses him again, drawing back his attention.

Derek has to practically carry him up the stairs. They stumble, nearly falling when neither one wants to let the other go. Stiles trips up the stairs, does land on his ass, and Derek leans down over him, still kissing and biting, pulling Stiles back up.

In the bedroom, finally, Stiles watches as Derek throws his clothes off as if all that muscle and skin isn't the most impressive thing Stiles has ever seen, as if it's no big deal to bare it like that. Stiles still has trouble believing Derek is real. With his body and his face, his eyes, the wild dark hair. It's too much sometimes. What is Derek, even, looking like that?

"It's not fair," he mutters, as Derek climbs over him.

"What?" he asks, voice muffled by Stiles' hip.

"You. Your stupid face is ridiculous. Who even made you, really? Looking like that."

It all comes out as breathless and drawn out moans as Derek turns him over and licks down Stiles' spine.

"Are you having an existential crisis when I'm about to fuck you?" Derek asks, which is unfair because he licks a broad stripe across Stiles' hole before he has a chance to answer. Stiles cries out, shoves his own face into the pillow to quiet himself.

It's not an existential crisis. He just thinks Derek is inhumanly beautiful. He might say that out loud because Derek pauses for a moment in his licking and nuzzles against Stiles' left cheek instead. It'd be sweet if it weren't his ass Derek was cuddling with.

No. It's still sweet. Derek. Unfair. In all ways.

Derek opens him slowly, agonizingly slowly, with fingers and tongue until Stiles is sobbing incoherently, thrusting his hips back against Derek's tongue. Derek ignores his pleas, though he does soothe a hand down Stiles' spine when he gets too wound up.

Derek has four fingers in him, tongue licking where they disappear into his ass, and Stiles is rutting against the sheets even though it isn't enough.

"Stiles, look at me." Stiles turns his head, looks over his shoulder at the man behind him.

His mind is always blown when Derek looks as wrecked as Stiles feels. Like he shouldn't be able to have this much effect on someone like Derek.

Derek nudges his hip with his head, nipping at him.

Stiles rolls over, legs falling open in invitation.

Derek climbs over him, pulling Stiles' legs up over his hips. He pushes in in one smooth stroke, bottoming out inside of Stiles and resting there. Derek gets his arms wrapped around his waist and shoulders and pulls Stiles' body off the mattress. Stiles makes an abortive move to wrap his arms around Derek's shoulders but, he doesn't have the energy to keep them there so he settles for holding onto Derek's forearms.

He trusts Derek to handle them both. Knows that Derek likes it when Stiles is like this, boneless and passive, letting Derek take whatever he wants.

Stiles likes this, too.

The roll of Derek's hips is slow and purposeful. He hits so deep Stiles shudders with every thrust.

It doesn't register that Derek is speaking until Stiles hears his own name. He's still fucking Stiles with the same steady, maddening rhythm, but his words are choked and broken.

Derek never babbles during sex. It's always Stiles who can't shut up.

Derek's words are broken up with growls and rumbling groans. But Stiles understands what he's trying to say, he has a knack for that.

He knows that having an Argent on Hale land after what they did to his family, to his pack, to Stiles, is testing Derek's control. He knows that in the morning he'll be covered with bruises, from Derek's fingers, his mouth. And it's fine, it's more than fine because being marked makes Stiles' feel safe.

"It's okay," Stiles says, in a surprisingly steady voice. "It's fine. We're okay."

And they are. They really are. Derek's thrusts go from slow and steady to deep and forceful, rough in a way Stiles fucking loves.

Stiles already feels his orgasm coming; he's so easy sometimes. All the time. Since Derek's hands are currently holding him up he reaches his own hand between them. And stops when Derek growls and bites his neck sharply, with thankfully still-human teeth.

But Stiles was right, Derek's control is fragile. He presses his forehead to Derek's shoulder, neck bared, his fingers splayed deliberately on Derek's arms. Derek's teeth leave his neck and he licks apologetically over the mark.

He tightens his arm around Stiles' waist, pulls them tighter together. Stiles' cock is caught between his own soft stomach and Derek's hard muscles and that's good. Perfect. Better than his hand.

He knows he's loud when he comes. Derek usually kisses him through it when the pack is nearby, effectively silencing him. He doesn't now. Stiles is moaning, crying out with every hard thrust and Derek just encourages it, muttering into Stiles' ear to let it out, he wants to hear him, wants everyone to hear him. And fuck, maybe the exhibitionism thing does work for him, fuck, fuck, fuck.

"Stiles, come. Come." Derek's voice is low and dark in his ear.

Stiles shudders and comes, hot and slick between them. Derek drags in a rough breath and slows his thrusts, gentles his hold on Stiles.

"Are you-?" Stiles starts to ask, but Derek kisses him.

"Not until you come again," he answers, when he lets Stiles breath.

Stiles moans and Derek leans back until they're falling carefully onto the bed. It hurts, the shift of Derek's cock inside him, and Derek always seems to go deeper when Stiles' rides him. Derek whines low in his throat, probably catching the faint smell of pain. Derek hates it. He hated it that first time, and Stiles thinks he will probably always hate it no matter how much Stiles loves that brief flair of pain before the pleasure rolls through him.

Stiles falls forward onto his chest, catching himself with his hands on Derek's shoulders.

"Stiles," Derek groans.

His nose is shoved into the space just behind and below Stiles' ear. He shifts his hips, encouraging Stiles to move. Stiles rolls his hips unevenly. It's hard to find the right rhythm when he's already come and his whole body feels shaky and unreliable. But Derek grabs his hips and pushes him into a rhythm that's slow and sweet. He takes enough of Stiles' weight to make sure his leg doesn't start to hurt.

Stiles loves him so much in that moment, looking down into his wide, unfathomable eyes, hearing him whisper Stiles' name over and over. Vulnerable in a way Stiles knows he isn't with anyone else.

He doesn't say it, though. It's too much, what he feels, and he doesn't want Derek to run away.

He's hard again in a ridiculously short amount of time. Derek reaches between them this time, wrapping his rough hand around Stiles' cock and pulling in time with their fucking. It's too much sensation, but it's perfect. Stiles' back goes rigid, his head falling back on his neck as he comes again. Derek tenses underneath him.

"Look at me, Stiles."

Stiles does, eyes locking on Derek's pleasure-twisted features. And then Derek is coming, so fucking hot and perfect and dirty in the best way, inside of Stiles. Sometimes he's not sure if he doesn't prefer the feeling of Derek coming inside of him to his own orgasms. It's more intimate than almost anything else they do.

Maybe because of hundreds of safe sex lectures that are being blatantly ignored because Derek's a fucking werewolf and can't get sick and Stiles was a virgin two months ago. Maybe because he knows Derek loves filling him, is obsessed with how Stiles smells for days afterwards no matter how much he showers.

Derek doesn't pull out immediately. A werewolf thing, Stiles thinks, the desire to keep his come in Stiles as long as possible. Stiles doesn't mind.

Seriously, there is nothing about sex with Derek that is not perfectly okay with him.

When Derek does pull out, he's careful, fingers gently touching, as always, to make sure no damage has been done. Normally Stiles laughs at him, or makes a comment. Tonight he's quiet. After seeing Chris Argent unexpectedly and in their territory... Stiles shudders and lays his head over Derek's madly beating heart.

"I would kill him without a second thought," Derek says.

The words rumble through his chest and in Stiles' ear.

"I know," Stiles answers, kissing the warm skin near his lips.

"I will never let him touch you. Stiles. I mean it. I couldn't- the wolf couldn't-" he stops there.

"I know, I know. You'd huff and puff and blow his house down," Stiles says, knowing Derek hates that joke.

"Rather blow you," is the snarky reply and Stiles laughs.

"Man, I must be rubbing off on you. Look at you, making jokes and everything, like a real boy."

"Pinocchio now?" Derek asks, pulling and twisting until Stiles is half under him, caught up in his arms and his legs.

Stiles shoves his head up and under Derek's chin, wraps his arms around Derek's back, fingers running up the smooth muscle. Their breath is slow and even, catching rhythm and keeping it. Stiles closes his eyes, kisses Derek's neck lightly.

"We'll be okay, sour wolf," he murmurs sleepily.

Derek kisses the side of his face, spreads his hands over Stiles' back so that his hands cover as much skin as they can.

He knows Derek won't sleep tonight, that he will remain like this with his eyes open. The pack will come in and out, silent enough that Stiles won't even wake up. They'll see that Stiles is safe, that Derek is watching over him, and they'll return to their makeshift bed in the living room.

In the morning Derek will check the fireplace, and Stiles will make breakfast. An almost- typical Saturday morning in the Hale house.

But for now, Stiles falls asleep to the sound of Derek's heartbeat in his ear. For now, he rests. It's almost the end of November. He's still a junior in high school. His pack is still mostly made up of obnoxious punks, but he loves them. And this is his life.

And it's good.