The alpha pack was nothing like what Derek expected.
First of all, they had zero interest in fighting Derek for his territory. "I have an infinity pool," Brandon said loftily. "You basically haunt this busted up house and live in an abandoned train car."
"It's easily protected," Derek said defensively.
"From eighty-year-old men with cancer?" Jake said, stretching out on the porch steps. "Admit it, you're a mess."
"You're embarrassing yourself in front of the rest of the community," the last Alpha, Devin, said, picking up a charred piece of wood distastefully. "This is basically an intervention."
Peter found all of this absolutely hysterical, and said so. To Derek's relief, however, the pack didn't seem to find him much more acceptable. Jake had taken to calling him RePeter the Undead, which Peter did not find as funny.
Once Derek absorbed that they weren't out to kill him, he sort of found it a relief to talk with them. They returned Boyd and Erica easily, after having a long, private talk that Derek couldn't bring himself to ask about. Both were more subdued around Derek, but in an apologetic way. Isaac continued to be Isaac, alternating between shadowing Derek and disappearing with Scott. Derek let him be while he focused on learning what he could from the alpha pack.
"Can we take you apartment hunting?" Brandon said, after about a week. "I can't live like this anymore."
"I don't need an apartment," Derek said flatly.
"You definitely do. One with running water, electricity, maybe some tasteful decor," Brandon disagreed vehemently. "A cushiony surface to sit on would be nice."
"Are you a wolf or a spoiled cat?" Derek said, not looking up from his game of chess with Jake.
"Oh, now you have a sense of humor," Brandon said, rolling his eyes. "You--" he started, and then stopped dead, cocking his head. Everyone, in fact, stopped dead, listening intently.
"It's just Stiles," Derek said, recognizing the heartbeat. He stood up, and leapt over a bench to stand at the door and wait.
"Show off," Brandon said, but his eyes didn't leave the door, tracking the moment when Stiles trotted in.
He was soaking wet, shirt plastered to his chest, water dripping into his eyes and onto his flushed cheeks. "Uh," he said, panting. "I know Scott said he wasn't pack, but we could use some help with this thing by the lake?"
"Holy shit," Devin breathed, and Derek whirled to glare at him, before grabbing his jacket.
There was a mad scramble as the rest of the pack dashed to follow them out. If Derek shadowed Stiles a little closer than normal, well, it was only to keep the others at bay.
After pulling Scott out of the grip of a hydra, ("In a freaking lake!" Jake kept saying, as if he hadn't been listening to how hellish Beacon Hills could be), everyone came back to the depot to regroup and apply first aid. Stiles lifted his shirt to wipe at his eyes, then twisted it to squeeze some of the water out, still shivering with cold.
Jake turned to Derek. "Who is that?" he said, incredulous.
"Don't even start," Derek said, and shoved Stiles in the direction of his clean laundry.
Despite Derek's constant protests, he did end up with an apartment. "It's right in the middle of town," Derek said, scowling out of the window.
"Yes," Devin said patiently. "We talked about your need to blend in as a normal member of society, right?"
"Several times," Derek groused.
"Also," Jake said. "This is a party, so stop complaining, and come help me set up these speakers I bought with your credit card."
Derek had nothing to say about that, so he crouched down to help. Boyd, Erica and Isaac arrived, and Brandon took them on a tour, sounding much like a demented real estate agent.
"Are Jackson and Scott coming?" Derek asked Isaac in a low voice, trying to sound unconcerned.
"Last I knew," Isaac said, and he sounded as hopeful as Derek felt. It was his last chance, he knew, to pull this ragtag group of kids together in anything resembling a wolfpack, and while Brandon, Devin and Jake promised they meant no harm, he couldn't help but suspect there'd be consequences should he fail again.
The doorbell rang, and Isaac bounded to the door, letting Scott and Stiles in. Scott seemed wary, but he was here, and some of the tension in Derek's body released. Stiles was holding a covered plate, which he brandished at Derek. "Cupcakes," he announced, and set it on an end table. He pulled the cover off the plate, brushing the edge of one of the frosted white cupcakes with his forearm. "Oops," he said, and licked a line up his wrist, catching the frosting up on his tongue.
There was dead silence from the alpha pack, as they all stared helplessly at Stiles. "Guys," Derek called sharply. "Didn't we say there would be music?" He tugged on Brandon's arm when it looked like the guy was going to advance on Stiles, and the touch seemed to shake him out of it.
"I give you so much more credit now," he said to Derek fervently.
"Thank you," Derek said, and changed the subject.
Derek embracing most of the advice from the Alpha pack seemed to make a difference in Jackson's attitude towards him. Some of it, he suspected, came from Lydia, who seemed to be pushing him to show up to things at Derek’s, and he could smell Jackson on Isaac, Erica and Boyd, which suggested they were around each other at school. Lydia still wouldn't come unless Peter was sworn not to be there, but Derek respected that, and just made sure Jackson knew she was welcome.
Similarly, once he had Stiles on board, Scott turned up more and more. They still didn't talk much, both still smarting from everything that happened, but Scott was there, and the alpha pack didn't seem displeased with the situation.
Stiles, though, was fully committed. Derek had made his pack copies of the key to his apartment, and Stiles turned up there fairly frequently, asking the alpha pack any questions they'd be willing to answer. Jake, in particular, seemed willing to sit for hours with Stiles, letting him take notes on everything supernatural Jake had ever seen. Derek kept an eye on them, but Jake didn’t overtly hit on Stiles, preferring instead to watch him as Stiles bent over a notebook, biting his lip in concentration. It was a scene Derek himself was familiar with getting lost in, so he didn't interfere.
Following up on some conversation he and Jake had, Stiles started experimenting with the wolfsbane bullets he had gotten from Chris Argent. He was replacing the wolfsbane with other things, ideas he had gotten from Dr. Deaton, the alpha pack or books they had loaned him. It wasn't uncommon for Derek to come home to find Stiles bent over his kitchen table, working with strange herbs that made Derek's nose tingle. Derek often found excuses to stay in there with him, taking extra time in putting together dinner, doing dishes, or sweeping the floor until the pattern was in danger of coming off. They talked sometimes, or rather Stiles talked, and Derek listened, contributing when Stiles asked him a point blank question, but it was easy somehow.
The alpha pack circled too, sometimes just blatantly standing in the doorway, licking their lips. Derek usually chased them away, figuring they deserved it for losing all semblance of subtlety.
The tipping point, however, came when Stiles, pleased with the results of one such experiment, came in carrying an old gun. "My dad gave me it," he said defensively, when Derek raised his eyebrow. He settled at the table, and spread out a few cloths and brushes, along with a bottle of oil. All three of the alphas settled on stools at the breakfast bar, barely pretending to have other things to occupy their interest. Derek groaned internally, and tried to focus on the piece of steak he was marinating. He couldn't help but look up after barely a minute, to find Stiles biting his lip in concentration as he slowly and carefully fed the brush into the barrel of the gun. He eased it in, and his long fingers stretched to get the best grip, and Derek heard a whimper come from the direction of the pack.
"Stiles," Brandon said desperately. "I've told you I have a home back in Beverly Hills, right? With a private pool? Where no neighbors can see anything you get up to? And like, a hot tub. I have an awesome hot tub."
"So cool," Stiles said easily. "You must have a pretty nice job."
"My job is way better," Devin cut in, and the three of them were off, and Derek watched in amusement as they loudly competed for who would be able to shower Stiles in more luxury, and Stiles barely looked up.
It stopped being funny when Jake said dangerously, "I have vacation houses where no one would hear you for miles," and his nails lengthened just a tiny bit.
"Hey," Derek said loudly. "Don't you guys have something else to do?"
"No," Devin said immediately, and for the first time since they arrived, Derek readied himself for a fight. Devin's back straightened too, and they glared daggers at each other.
Stiles, unaware, drizzled oil onto a cloth, and began to wipe the barrel down, hands steady and sure. The barrel gleamed under his hands, and his thumb ran up the underside of it, tracing the length.
There was a gust as everyone in the room just deflated, the fight going right out of them. "I have to go," Brandon said miserably, and slunk out of the room, a magazine held in front of him. The others followed, slamming the door viciously as they left the apartment.
Derek bit back a smug grin. "Wimps," he said under his breath, and turned back to the stove.
"Did you say something?" Stiles said, and then, "Wait, where did everyone go?"
When the pack returned, covered in leaves and twigs from a brutal run to blow off steam, Stiles was asleep on the couch. Derek sat in an armchair near him, watching a game on the flat screen TV he hadn't wanted, and now would be taken from him over his dead body.
"Jesus Christ," Devin said, catching sight of Stiles. Stiles's arm was thrown over his head, and the unblemished skin of his wrist and forearm were held tantalizingly on display. His mouth was open just slightly, his lips red and slightly wet. His eyes were closed peacefully, and his eyelashes were a dark contrast to the flush of his cheeks. His tongue darted out, and unconsciously licked at his lips, parting them further.
"We are trying to help you, Derek," Brandon said. "Haven't we been good guests? Haven't we done anything we could to help you clean up your bizarre and tragic life? What have we done to deserve this?"
"You know he doesn't mean it," Derek said gruffly. "He has no idea."
"Bullshit," Jake said. "He has to know. There's no way this isn't on purpose."
"A meaner man would call it a damn tease," Devin said, and stomped off.
Derek sighed. He wanted literally nothing less than he wanted to have a conversation about the situation with Stiles, but he was well aware how stretched the alphas’ control was, especially as they drew nearer to the full moon. He couldn't afford to lose their input and assistance yet, especially not while he was unsure of his uncle, and Gerard Argent's body remained at large.
But he also knew he couldn't deal with losing Stiles, and the kid was dangerously close to being thrown over someone's shoulder and carried off like a heroine from the romance novels his mom used to read. His lips twitched as he pictured it, and Stiles let out a nasally snore as if to voice his opinion on the subject.
Stiles woke up about a half hour later and stretched lazily before clearly realizing he wasn’t in his own bed. “Oh shit,” he said, and his voice was low and scratchy. “Did I pass out on you?”
“Mid-sentence,” Derek mocked, and Stiles gave him the finger. He stood up and stretched, cracking his back, and letting his shirt ride up a few inches above his waist, showing off the dark trail of hair that disappeared down below the button of his fly. Derek sucked in a breath and turned back the TV, and Stiles disappeared into the kitchen.
The game held his attention for a minute, until he absently went to track the heartbeats in the house, and realized that Jake wasn’t beside him anymore, and there were two people in the kitchen. Stiles’s heart was beating slightly faster than normal, and Derek stood up and crept into the kitchen.
Stiles was at the counter, pouring a kettle of steaming hot water into two cups with tea bags hanging out of them, and Jake was behind him, one hand steadying his waist, and one hand helping Stiles pour the water. Derek instantly began to shift, eyes reddening at the sight of Jake’s hand creeping lower and lower on Stiles’s hip.
Jake’s head swiveled to see Derek standing there and he growled, warning Derek off. Derek answered that with a growl of his own, not backing down an inch.
Stiles, back stiffening with tension the second he heard them, ended the confrontation by releasing his grip on the kettle, forcing Jake to catch it by himself. “Thanks, bud,” he said to Jake, cautiously sliding out from under Jake’s grip. He handed one of the cups to Derek. “Full moon’s coming,” he said in a low voice. “He’s going to be so embarrassed later.”
“Humiliated,” Derek said sardonically, and met Jake’s eyes behind Stiles’s back, sending him an absolutely murderous look.
Jake smirked, unrepentant. Derek swallowed the urge to rend and tear his flesh from his body, instead choosing to follow Stiles, who was insistently calling for him, onto the couch. “Big moody babies,” Stiles said, stretching back out on the couch, obnoxiously dumping his feet in Derek’s lap.
Derek gave him a look of pure disdain for form’s sake, but he found himself rubbing them, digging his thumb carefully into the arch of Stiles’s foot. Stiles let out a little noise of satisfaction and relaxed into the cushions. Derek watched the rest of the game like that, and at the end, had no memory who had even been playing.
"There's a baby," Jackson said in an uncharacteristically high-pitched voice. "Baby, baby, there's a baby."
Derek looked up from where he had been gingerly inspecting the remains of a werewolf. Chris Argent had called, told them the rogue hunters who had split off from Chris's group had been hunting someone in the forests right outside Beacon Hills. It hadn't been in Derek's territory, so he hadn't sensed them, but he had raced to the scene as soon as he had gotten the call. It was too late, the hunters had gotten her, although it hadn't happened long ago based on the still warm body. He would bury her with respect, he thought. Then Jackson's words clicked.
Stiles was already across the clearing, scooping the baby into his arms. "Who would do that," he said, obviously upset. "Who would kill someone's mother and just leave a baby alone?" He soothed the crying infant, holding him close to his chest and rocking him carefully.
"Are you fucking kidding me," Devin said flatly.
"If you need to go, go," Derek said, but he couldn't summon the menace, watching Stiles shift the baby to his shoulder, arm curled under to support the baby's weight.
"I don't think I can," Devin said pathetically.
"Hello," Stiles said pointedly. "Can we go? This kid is probably cold and hungry, while you stand around looking bored."
"No one is bored," Jake emphasized, but Stiles didn't seem to hear as he trudged back towards the cars.
He made Derek stop at a store on the way home, and sent him in with a list of things the baby was going to need. "We're not keeping him," Derek warned, as he killed the engine.
"Duh," Stiles said. "I'm seventeen, and you're a lunatic. We have to find his pack."
"You're a lunatic," Derek said childishly, but left and returned, laden with a car seat, diapers, formula, and a fuzzy duck that had been by the registers.
"Sucker," Stiles said, and handed the baby to Derek while he opened the car seat and started strapping it in.
Derek was overwhelmed for a moment by the scent of the baby intertwined with Stiles’s own scent. He held the child in close, and just reveled in the weight on his chest as he watched Stiles struggle with the straps. "This is why Camaros aren't typically family cars," Stiles gritted out, finally snapping it into place.
"Sorry dear," Derek snarked, "I'll get right on buying a minivan."
"Laugh it up, but it'd be way more useful," Stiles shot back, and their forearms brushed as he took the baby back to strap him into the car seat. The hair on Derek's arms stood up, and he stepped back, getting himself back under control.
"You all right?" Stiles asked, genuine concern in his tone.
"Yeah," Derek grunted. "Let's just get out of here."
It took them nearly two weeks to locate the baby's father. In that time, Derek had to kick the alpha pack out of his apartment nearly six times. The first was a result of Stiles singing lullabies, soft and sweet as he crouched over the makeshift crib they had constructed. The last time, Derek had kicked himself out of the apartment as well. They had been returning from a "training exercise" which was really just tag in the woods, when they opened the door to find Stiles standing at the sink, rubbing the baby down with a washcloth. The kid waved his hands and feet wildly, and Stiles caught one of his toes in his mouth, pretending to bite down and the baby shrieked with glee. Stiles’s smile was wide and fond, even when the baby brought his fist down, splashing water all over the counter, floor, and Stiles himself. Stiles groaned, and reached with one hand to yank his shirt up and off.
"Nope," Derek said, turning right around. "Nope, nope, nope, nope." He shoved at Brandon's shoulders, forcing him back towards the door.
"Please," Brandon said. "Please let me get in there. I just need to get right up in there, just a little. Just," and Derek kept shoving them all until they were stumbling, dazedly, back outside.
"He's doing it on purpose," Jake said, and everyone agreed in discontented little murmurs.
Derek was definitely going to have to talk to Stiles. After they returned the baby to its pack. He was doing it, no matter how painful it might be.
"We need to talk," Derek said, sitting down at the table, across from where Stiles was sucking absently on the end of a pen.
"Shoot," Stiles said, putting his notebook away.
"You maybe should be here less," Derek got out haltingly, but stopped when he saw the outrage and hurt combine on Stiles's face.
"Haven't I been helping?" Stiles said, shoving his chair back from the table. "I have been doing nothing but trying to help you, and I know I'm not pack but I thought we were finally getting along, and you gave me a key so--"
"Stiles," Derek said, uncomfortably. "You're pack, of course you're pack."
"You just still hate me," Stiles said flatly, and a little of the fight went out of his eyes, replaced with something like acceptance.
"No," Derek said decisively, hating that look. "I don't, Jesus Stiles. I never hated you."
"Then I don't get it," Stiles said.
"It's not about me, it's about the pack. The alpha pack. They haven't been around you as much, they can't. You're, well, you just." He couldn't find the right words, so he just bit out, "You get them too worked up."
Stiles's eyebrows climbed his forehead. "I what?"
"You get them going, and they start to fight over you, and they can't concentrate," Derek said. "I just need you not to be around them so much, let them build up a resistance."
"A resistance?" Stiles said, and his voice was squeaky.
"You're a big fucking cocktease," Devin said, coming into the room. Derek snarled viciously, and he held up his hands in apology, backing right back out. "Sorry, letting you handle it."
"I'm a what?" Stiles said, and he sank boneless into his chair.
"I wouldn't have said it like that," Derek said. "I know you don't do it on purpose."
"Do what?" Stiles said, incredulously.
"The gun," Brandon yelled from the living room. "The frosting. The fucking walking around soaking wet in a t-shirt. The sleeping. God, the sleeping, everywhere, all stretched out and pretty. "
"With the baby," Jake said. "Please don't leave out the baby."
"Shut up or get out," Derek hollered back, and then rested his forehead on the table, trying to soothe his headache.
"Okay, first of all, this is insane. Second of all, this is blaming the victim," Stiles said.
"I know," Derek said. "Trust me, I know. But they are going to leave soon, and as soon as they do, everything will go back to normal. I can control myself, it's just them, they can't handle--" He realized his mistake at the same time Stiles did.
"You can control yourself?" Stiles said, incredulously. "You agree with them? You're," he hesitated, sounding unsure, "attracted? To me?"
Derek groaned, and wished desperately for the ground to swell up and swallow him whole. “We’re not talking about me. We’re talking about them, they’re alphas and they trend towards certain tastes--”
“Yeah, hotties,” Devin called.
"Oh my God," Stiles said. "This is insane!"
"Please Stiles," Derek said. "Just give them space."
Stiles, for once in his life, did what Derek asked.
Satisfied that Derek's life was so much less tragic and embarrassing, the Alpha pack left after making Derek promise to call if anything he couldn't handle came up.
Brandon left behind an envelope, embossed with what Derek suspected was actual gold, addressed to Stiles and Derek was resolved to never ever give it to him.
Stiles turned up for the first pack meeting after they left, and other than flushing red the first time Derek caught his eye, he made no other sign he remembered their conversation. Secure in his pack for the first time, Derek relaxed and enjoyed a few days of relative peace.
It didn’t last long. During an otherwise completely normal pack meeting, Stiles decided he wouldn't stop touching his own neck. Derek fought to concentrate on whatever Boyd was saying, but he couldn't stop watching the drag of Stiles's thumb up and down the curve of his neck, almost to his shoulder. His eyes were caught helplessly, as Stiles tilted his head to the side, baring even more of his skin. He knew he was projecting enough that the more sensitive members of his pack, namely Isaac and Peter, were going to be picking up what he was throwing down, but he couldn't stop. Sure enough, Isaac leapt up to suggest everyone get outside for a little bit, shooting Derek a dirty look. Everyone filed out except for Stiles, who hung back, packing his bag.
"Are you just fucking with me now?" Derek growled, advancing on Stiles.
"What?" Stiles said, jerking upright. Derek backed him up until Stiles's thighs hit the arm of the couch.
"If you're messing with my head, if you're actually being a--" and he couldn't use the word, "it's not funny, or nice."
"I wasn't even doing anything," Stiles said breathlessly, looking up at him.
Derek raised his hand to trace the same path Stiles's thumb had taken early, stroking from the base of his ear down to his collarbone. "You're still not trying?" he said hoarsely.
Stiles shivered. "I wasn't," he confirmed, but he grabbed Derek's shirt when Derek started to take a resigned step back. "But if I knew how to, I would have."
"Don't," Derek said, shaking his head. "Not if you're not serious. You have no idea what I've wanted to do to you."
"So show me," Stiles said, and looped his arm around Derek's neck, and pulled him forward until his weight crashed into Stiles, sending them both onto the couch.
Derek rolled up, bracing his hand on the arm of the couch, trying to take some of his weight off Stiles Stiles was having none of it, and yanked at Derek’s shoulders, pulling him closer until Derek gave up, and with a huff, sagged flush against Stiles. He felt Stiles open his thighs around him, and he slid neatly into the cradle of Stiles’s hips. “Shit,” he swore and kissed Stiles, pressing him into the cushions.
Stiles gave as good as he got, and Derek had never kissed anyone like this, like it was a game they were both playing. With Kate, he had been scared and trying to hide it, tense and brash in equal turns. With Stiles, he could feel the smile against his lips, and when he ducked to suck a bruise on the underside of Stiles’s jaw, Stiles encouraged him, sincere and enthusiastic and Derek ended up losing the thread and was helpless to do anything but kiss him again, kiss that smile until Stiles pulled away, turning his head to pant. “Not all of us have super werewolf breathing,” he managed, eyes sparkling at Derek.
“Weak,” Derek said, but he couldn’t feel his toes, so he didn’t have much leg to stand on.
"Come on," Stiles said, shoving at him until Derek pushed up again to get some space between them. "Come on, come on, this isn't going to last long as it is," and yanked at Derek’s jeans, tossing his belt somewhere over his shoulder. Derek returned the favor, pulling Stiles's pants open too, and he jerked Stiles, reveling in the sound of Stiles panting, breathing hot and wrecked into his neck. "Come on," Stiles said again, and he got his hand around Derek and they didn't last long, not at all. When he came, he shoved Stiles's shirt up around his armpits and shot deliberately onto Stiles's stomach, rumbling in satisfaction as he rubbed it in, feeling it all the way down his spine.
"Gross," Stiles said, but his voice was sated and content, so Derek didn't bother taking offense.
"I can't believe I'm alpha bait," Stiles said later, when they'd cleaned up and tumbled into Derek's bed. "All this time, and I never knew there was a segment of the population I was killing it with."
"I can't believe you weren't doing it on purpose," Derek said, scratching his fingers through Stiles's short hair. "The gun cleaning was really obscene." Stiles cracked up, laughing helplessly into Derek's chest, and Derek grinned at the ceiling of his bedroom, where he had a roof, a bed, and a Stiles and literally couldn't want for anything else.
Years later, Stiles found the envelope from Brandon. "Oh my God," he said, in the voice of someone, who having faced several more alphas, still didn't really believe everyone was serious. "Do you realize Brandon would have gotten me Kate Middleton's ring? Not one like it, he literally was offering to get me the ring off her finger."
"I should have thrown that out," Derek said, rolling his eyes.
"Derek," Stiles said, scanning the letter further. "He's got box seats at Dodger Stadium. Derek, I'm sorry, but it's over, I'm going to call him," and he laughed when Derek scooped him up and threw him over his shoulder. "You can't compete," he continued, still trying to taunt through his giggles, and Derek felt no remorse about pinching his ass, and carrying him upstairs to show him exactly how Derek was going to compete.