It took him three days to catch on, but in Stiles’s defense - well, okay, there really wasn’t a lot he could say in his own defense. Research. It kind of eats his brain. Also, Derek hanging out in his room wasn’t exactly new. Werewolves in general seemed to have this your-home-is-my-home attitude towards private space, seriously, he needed to have a talk about that with them someday but honestly he kind of liked waking up the morning after full moons with two or three zonked out werewolves all puppy-piled in his bed, so. And Derek hanging around in his room being bossy wasn’t new either, the man was born to boss - or possibly killed to boss, but that was one aspect of the whole Alpha thing that Stiles generally tried to ignore and also hey! Peter was back now! and it totally didn’t count as murder if the guy came back to life.
Where was he - right. It took three days before Stiles caught on, and in hindsight, it should have been more obvious. But finally, when “afternoon” had become “evening” had become “late evening” and finally even Stiles couldn’t really deny the onset of “night” any longer, and Derek looked at the clock and said in a no-arguments-accepted tone of voice, “Start your economics; you can work on this again later, if there’s time,” and Stiles found himself closing the lid on his laptop, on his research, and reaching for his textbook without so much as a second thought - well.
It suddenly occurred to him that he’d done his homework every night since the current crisis du-jour began - on Derek’s prompting, every time. And Derek had been the one setting his bedtimes. And his mealtimes. And waking him up and shoving him out the door on time for class.
Stiles swiveled his chair around to face Derek, a lopsided smile on his face. “You know, I’m a big kid now. We ordinary humans can feed and clothe ourselves just fine without constant werewolf supervision.” There was a pause, as a look of confusion spread slowly over Derek’s face. “Seriously dude, I half expect you to start trying to change my diaper or something. I don’t need babysitting. I’ll get the job done.”
“You’re wearing a diaper,” said Derek.
Stiles rolled his eyes. Of course that was what Derek would fixate on. “Yeah, it’s standard research procedure. Cuts down on trips to the bathroom. Dude, I was being sarcastic!”
Derek’s expression was the one Stiles had mentally labelled, ‘emotions pending; buffering, buffering, buffering...’ The one that said, ‘I am feeling something, and as an emotionally constipated sourwolf I find this very disconcerting.’ Out of respect for, you know, fires and personal tragedy and shit, Stiles gave tall-dark-and-broody some processing time, and kept his mouth shut. Which was a frankly heroic effort given that he was running on - um - actually, thanks to a certain naggy werewolf, this particular research binge had featured a lot more in the way of actual sleep-time than any previous binge.
Distracted as he was by contemplating this, he almost missed it when Derek finally spoke. “You’re pack,” he said, in shouldn’t-this-be-obvious tones.
“I am? I mean, well, yeah, obviously.” Cool. ‘Cause Scott had been saying it for months now, and Lydia just rolled her eyes whenever he fretted about being on the outside, but, you know, not actually a werewolf, and it was cool to hear it right from the alpha’s mouth. Made it all official-like. “What’s that got to do with anything?”
“You’re pack,” said Derek again. “And I’m the alpha.”
Stiles snorted. “Believe me, we know.”
“No.” Derek leaned in, and whoa there went the bubble of personal space. Stiles managed not to lean back. Werewolves, man. He supposed he should really be used to this by now. “You don’t understand,” Derek continued. “You’re pack, and I’m the alpha. That means I have responsibilities.”
“Tell me you don’t mother-hen all your betas like this,” Stiles said. “Somehow I just can’t see Jackson standing for it.”
Derek’s eyes flicked to his left, a quick involuntary movement. Stiles followed his gaze, and found his bottle of adderall sitting on the dresser. Damn. Usually he made sure to hide that stuff, all the websites he’d found were all over how you had to hide it or people would be trying to steal it for, like, performance-enhancing reasons, but he’d gotten a bit lax about that lately what with all his friends being werewolves and also Lydia, none of whom really needed -
- and then the ball dropped, and Stiles felt his stomach drop right alongside it. “Right,” he said flatly. “‘Cause none of your little wolflings are crazy. Not like Stiles.”
He began to rise, to snatch up the pill bottle and hide the damn thing away in the back of his closet or something, somewhere he wouldn’t have to look at it. Instead, he was met with Derek’s hand on his chest, forcing him gently but irresistibly back down.
“What the hell, man,” Stiles snapped, fingers digging into the chair’s seat. “Let me up, I want to- ”
Derek stepped back. “You don’t need supervision,” he said, looking wounded. As if he was the one with a right to be upset. “But I thought maybe you liked it.”
“Well, you thought wr...” Stiles trailed off, and took a moment to actually consider the situation.
Apparently taking his silence for encouragement, Derek said, “You do this thing, sometimes. It’s like all you can see is the one thing you’re throwing yourself at.”
“Hyperfocus,” said Stiles absently. “It’s called hyperfocus.”
“You need to eat. You need to sleep. You need to stand up and walk around, keep up your homework, get to school on time.” Derek shifted his weight from foot to foot, such a small movement that anyone not as awesome as Stiles would probably have missed it. “You’re pack. You obey me, because I’m the alpha. Because you obey me... it’s complicated. This would be easier if you were a wolf. But the important thing is, I need to give the right orders. The ones that are good for you, and for the pack.”
Stiles considered arguing the point - he totally didn’t “obey” Derek, not more than, like seventy, maybe eighty percent of the time. Ninety on the outside. Okay, so, there was a lot of obeying, but also plenty of sass, which he personally thought made up for - wait, he was getting off topic. “So what you’re saying,” he said, tilting his head consideringly, “is that with great power comes great responsibility.”
Derek tilted his head, mirroring him. “Do you want me to stop?”
“Uh.” Stiles’s eyes widened as he mentally backpedalled. So, yeah, it was kind of, you know, comforting to know that someone cared enough to think about things like ‘has Stiles eaten yet today’ and ‘it isn’t actually possible for a human to exist on less than four hours of sleep per night, regardless of what Stiles sometimes thinks’ and ‘maybe it would be better for everyone if our research guy didn’t flunk out of school and get sent to a military academy and leave us with Chris Argent as our primary information source’. Comforting, sure. Heartwarming even. Practical, definitely, he had definitely been known to forget that sleep was a thing he needed to do. On the other hand, did he really want to give Derek Hale, Grouchy McBossypants, blanket permission to order him around? “I mean. You know. Not if you don’t - it’s not like you ever even - I don’t think - you know what? I take the fifth.”
“Do your economics homework,” said Derek, almost kindly.
“Aye-aye, Captain Bossypants,” said Stiles, and turned back to his work.