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Trust Fall

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“They're dangerous. And they're involved with Peter, so...just stay out of it. And don't do anything stupid,” Derek hissed, slipping out of Stiles' window and disappearing like a phantom – a surly, hot, infuriating phantom, wait, wouldn't that make him a poltergeist? Slipped out of his window and disappeared into the black night like a poltergeist.

Stiles was probably the least stupid person Derek knew, that was for sure. Always with the threats and thinly veiled disgust for the easily broken human with that guy. Stiles was getting sick of it. And this time, Derek hadn't come to demand his help in researching something, Derek had just shown up to growl out a warning about something Stiles hadn't even know about until Derek had spilled the beans. Now Stiles did know there was something happening, something on top of the Alpha pack, and it was a new something. Now his interest was piqued. But just because he wanted to find out everything he could immediately didn't mean he would be an idiot about it.

“Don't do anything stupid like I would probably do because I'm an impulsive jerk-wolf,” Stiles mocked under his breath, jumping when a rock flew through the open window, pegging him in the shoulder. “Ow!”

“Stiles! I mean it!”

Freaking asshole attractive poltergeist werewolf douchebag jerkface with perfect aim.

Stiles threw the pebble out of the window – Derek had vanished into the night again – shut his window and locked it, momentarily distracted by how irritating Derek could be instead of focusing on Derek's latest warning about what goes bump in the night and usually into Stiles. Painfully. Freaking witches now? Also, things would be a lot easier if Derek just learned the joys of Google chat. The constant popping into his window that Derek seemed to do all the time now was just...creepy. Then again, Derek wasn't much for technology – which proved his point in his old argument with Erica that Derek was not the goddamn Batman, trust fund, tortured past and crime fighting aside – so maybe he didn't even have a laptop? Or Peter wouldn't let him borrow his.

Yeah, that made more sense.

He knew that he wouldn't be able to focus on his homework tonight, now that he knew that first of all witches were real, and secondly, they were in Beacon Hills, and thirdly, they wanted to do some damage. Great. Stiles was pretty sure after Derek's cryptic explanation that the witches were pissed off at something Peter had done to one of them, so why they had to clean up another of Peter's messes was beyond him.

Derek hadn't wanted to go into too many details – when did he ever? Oh, but maybe he didn't know anything? – but Stiles was picking up what he wasn't putting down. Peter wooed a witch. Witch woo, hah. Peter, being Peter, was mostly likely creepy and weird to said witch, who must have called in reinforcements to retaliate. Super great. Derek had said that he didn't think it would come to anything major, but to stay vigilant and let Scott know what was going on, too.

(Scott still wasn't seeking out Derek's company after the whole “You might be an Alpha, but you're not mine” conversation that Scott had repeated to Stiles at least forty million times by this point, so Stiles still had the delightful job of being a werewolf go-between.)

Well, if he wasn't going to be able to focus on AP World History, then he might as well Google the hell out of witches and the things they got up to. Stiles' life motto was: Knowledge is Power. Or at least more knowledge to share with those who had power. It needed work as far as creeds went.

He had about fourteen tabs opened (and ten more bookmarked) and was just getting into this awesome article about binding spells when he started feeling really weird. Huh. His stomach was rolling unpleasantly. Did he eat dinner? Yeah, he'd grabbed a burger after dropping Scott off from lacrosse practice. He rubbed absentmindedly at his belly as he scrolled through the binding spell article, picking up random bits of Latin that sure sounded like some double, double, toil and trouble-level witchery before a serious ache pierced his gut just under his diaphragm.

His breath punched out of him as he grimaced in pain – it was like his stomach was filled with broken glass and was grinding it to dust – and doubled over at his computer. Shit, there had been those stories about glass in baby food, and maybe that's what was going on? If they put glass in his burger, his dad was going to be so pissed, he thought as he scrambled to his bed. Fuck, it hurt! Now it was like a grappling hook had embedded itself into his ribs and was pulling. Christ that was a sharp pain, and he couldn't breathe and his heart rate was starting to seriously hit the red zone, and just as he thought he couldn't bear it for one second longer, everything went black, the pain stopped as instantly as it had appeared, and he could see.

And what he saw was the roadside speeding past him, because holy shit, he was in a car and when the hell did that happen? How the hell– Why the fuck was he driving right into the greenbelt? He shouted out loud, gripped the steering wheel tightly and slammed on the brakes with both feet, hoping that his Jeep didn't roll and hit the tree he was careening towards.

The loud squeal of tires and the metallic burning that hit his nose were almost overwhelming before he opened one eye and saw that he was at a complete stop. And he was a lot lower than he would have been if he was in his Jeep. He nervously looked around and saw a sleek black leather interior and oh my god, he somehow managed to pass out and steal Derek's Camaro. Derek was going to kill him.

Stiles got his breathing under control, checked the stick shift and rolled his eyes when he realized it was an automatic. Who the hell bought a sports car and got an automatic? He threw it into reverse preferring to twist back in his seat to back up rather than look in a mirror, and was pleased at how tightly the car made a three-point turn before popping it back into drive and speeding forward. Whoops, easy on the gas, because this baby really responded in comparison to his old CJ-5.

(It was the higher center of gravity, something his dad loved to point out was the leading cause of rollovers and death in stupid, lead-footed teenagers.)

He was only a few blocks from his house, which was strange – well, actually, the whole thing was strange because he didn't remember leaving his house in the first place. He pulled up in front of the house, saw his dad's cruiser and the Jeep in the driveway and let out a sigh of relief. At least that was as he left it. He just needed to get inside, call Derek– wait, no. He stole Derek's car. He needed to call Scott and figure out what the hell was going on, and could Scott possibly help him fake a stolen car report so nothing led back to him.

He climbed out of the car, and his body felt weird, like, not as loose as usual, but he was so worried about the fact that he was now living Grand Theft Auto that he just filed away for later the fact that his body felt off and that he was wearing a leather jacket.

Jesus fucking Christ, this just kept getting worse. Not only did he steal Derek's car, but one of his leather jackets, too? There was no way he was going to live to see the end of the night, was there? He lifted the edge of the jacket to his nose to breathe it in – yep, that was Derek's cologne or personal musk or whatever – and flashed on witches, going still. Witches. Witches!

“Yes!” he cried, making a fist and pulling it in at his side while bending his knees. He was totally off the hook. The witches made him do it, he was sure of it. Contrary to what Derek always assumed, Stiles did not actually have a death wish. Sighing, he leaned against the car, remembered as soon as his butt hit the metal that Derek would seriously eviscerate him, witches or not, for touching his Camaro, and Stiles flailed away from it just in time. He needed to get inside and figure out how to let Derek know that there didn't need to be any Stilinski-killing that evening, thanks oh so very much.

He ran up to the front porch and it felt amazing, which was weird, like, his body was all springy and strong, so maybe the witches did something more? Who cared, he needed to get inside and get in his room and call Scott. The front door didn't give when he twisted the lock and pulled his hand back before he twisted the knob right off. Whoa. The witches totally gave him super-strength. Maybe he overpowered Derek and stole the car and jacket?

He moaned, realizing that he was in so much shit.

He found the spare key he and his dad kept hidden under a loose brick on the side of the door and let himself in, holding the door open with his hip as he slipped the key back in its hiding spot. He stepped into the house, letting the door bang shut behind him and barely registered his dad sitting open-mouthed on the sofa inside, staring at him.

“What the...”

“Oh, hey. Just, uh, went outside for a minute to clear my head,” Stiles said in as calm a manner as he could manage, even waving his hands towards his head for emphasis of how foggy his thoughts had been before.

“When were you inside?” his dad asked, which was weird, because he was still looking shocked and very confused and maybe he'd hit the booze and Stiles hadn't realized?

“Uh, most of the night? Up in ye olde bedroom containing yon bed, um.” He rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck, which wasn't something he usually did, but it seemed natural at the moment, and it worked out the tension that had been building since he slammed on the Camaro's brakes. His dad's eyebrows were coming together in a look that meant “danger,” so Stiles took the hint, saying, “Okay, back to it, then, and I won't come out until I'm done,” and turned to go up the stairs, taking them four at a time – okay, this weird strength thing the witches gave him was cool, but this might be freaking his dad out to see him so overly hyper and that thought shut off instantly as he heard the unmistakable click of a gun being cocked while turning to enter his bedroom.

“Get your hands behind your head and turn around slowly.”

His dad was clearly behind him with a gun pointed at him. Wait, was it pointed over his shoulder? Stiles didn't see anyone ahead of him, so there must be a robber or oh shit, what if one of the witches got inside and was standing just behind him? It was good protocol for him to do the same, that way he wouldn't spook the other dude, so he complied as well, turning around slowly. He didn't see anyone next to him witch or otherwise, but he noticed that his dad was reaching towards his back, looking for a set of handcuffs that would have been there had his dad been in uniform.

“There's a pair on your side dresser, remember?” Stiles offered helpfully, still wondering what the hell was going on with the whole gun pointed at the intruder thing.

His dad looked completely shocked for just a moment, just for a flash, and the sight of his dad's face like that did more to panic Stiles than anything. It was almost like his dad was afraid of him. And that his dad didn't like – not one little bit – that Stiles knew where he kept his things.

“Well, I only know that because you've told me before,” he said, his hands still on his head but his posture loosening now that he was talking to his dad. If there was one way to make his dad calm, it was to turn on the ol' goofy Stiles-charm. “I mean,” he scoffed, making a “just joshing” hand motion at his dad, “it's not like I've used them on anyone,” he laughed because please. Kinky sex? Well, Stiles would love to have kinky handcuffy sex, but that would entail him actually having sex, and that hadn't happened. Yet. There were still five more years to his overall plan for romance, though. That sort of thing couldn't be rushed. Apparently.

The door behind Stiles opened, and as he turned to see who the hell was in his room – oh shit, the witch? – he caught sight of someone's reflection in the glass of a picture hanging on the wall, someone who looked very...familiar. Almost like–


No, that wasn't who he–

Stiles,” a voice whispered a little more forcibly, and that's when he let his eyes adjust to the darkened hallway and saw himself standing in his room's doorway. An incredibly grumpy version of himself. Why was he so pissed? Wait, why the hell was he there but not there and he was here but not recognizable and what in the whatment?

Not-him-Stiles widened his eyes in a significant way, tilting his chin like he was trying to communicate something but it was making no sense. Because if he wasn't himself, and someone else was him that meant that who he'd seen in the reflection was–

“Derek,” Not-him said, which was odd. Must be because of the jacket. “I told you not to bother my dad when you came over. Dad?” Not-him stepped out of the doorway and stood stock still – which was weird to see because Stiles was never still. Even when he was brushing his teeth at the bathroom mirror his head was moving to a song stuck in his brain, he was checking his nose hairs for growth and still brushing his teeth. When Not-him stood straight like that, with his arms crossed tightly, you could see that Stiles' shoulders had been filling out, and Not-him had his hands tucked under his biceps which made them look bigger, nice – and Not-him said, “Dad, I asked him to come over and help me with chemistry. He was really good at it in school.”

Okay, Not-him was really bad at being Stiles, that much Stiles knew. He was acting control and calm, and was talking to his dad like they were equals. This was so insane, seeing himself but it wasn't him, and Not-him was just standing stock still and scowling and that reminded him of someone else and oh god, this was all so crazy and whatever was going on, his dad was going to see right through that not being him, regardless of the face looking like him, and he was dangerously close to having a total freak out any minute now.

“Chemistry, huh?” his dad asked. He decocked his gun and put it in his holster, his hand still hovering nearby, Stiles noticed. His dad turned his gaze towards him and asked, “What, you running a meth lab out there in the Preserve?”

And dude, his dad's cop-glare was intense. He thought he'd gotten it in the past, but evidently had only gotten the sanitized Dad-version before because Stiles felt like his tail was tucking between his legs under that steely-blue, withering gaze. “No, what? Meth? Me? Ha!” Stiles couldn't help but laugh a bit at that, because seriously? Making meth? His whole body rocked with his laugh, and sure, he was feeling a little crazed and nervous because what the hell was going on, but it made his dad's eyes narrow at him in a super focused way, and his dad actually pointed with his gun – when did he unholster that again? That was like, Clint Eastwood fast, damn! – towards the living room.

“Public spaces. Move.”

Stiles tried to make himself as small as possible and avoid eye contact completely as he moved past his dad on the stairwell, taking a seat in his normal spot on the end of the sofa.

Rolling his eyes and looking like his patience was wearing thin, his dad said, “Dining table.” His dad was such a hard ass, yeesh.

Not-him followed quickly, grabbed him by the elbow and started dragging him to the kitchen. “Drink of water,” Not-him said over his shoulder to his dad, who merely grunted.

“Okay, what the fuck is going on, because you''re wearing me!” Stiles scream-whispered once the kitchen door shut behind them.

Not-him frowned, and this was so weird seeing his face look like...something familiar. Nope. This was not– nope. Nuh uh. No fucking way.

“Are you serious, Stiles,” Not-him stated. Not a question, a statement.

Oh. Shit.

Stiles walked to the back door where an old wood-framed oval mirror hung – his mom had put that there because it had key rings screwed into the bottom of the frame – and looked at himself. And before he could shout out, “Holy fu–” Not-him's hand clapped over his mouth.

He looked like Derek. He looked like freaking Derek Hale and had Derek's jacket on and had been in Derek's car and holy shit he was wearing Derek Hale like a cheap suit. Okay, a super hot, supernatural super cool suit. What the fuck.

“Stiles, calm down.”

“Calm- Calm down?” Stiles ran his hand over his head but instead of feeling the fuzz of his buzzcut, he was confronted with thick and soft hair. Huh. He always imagined Derek's hair to be stiff or sticky with product but this was lush and almost baby-fine. Weird. He carded his fingers through it.

“Stop playing with my hair,” Not-him, er, Derek said.

Oh, there would be no ordering about right now, not when everything was totally FUBAR. “Looks like it's my hair, buddy.” Just to prove a point, Stiles put both hands in it and yanked a little, rubbing the pads of his fingertips over his scalp and smirking at Derek who seriously had the frowniest, grumpiest face he'd ever seen stuck there on his own face, and this was officially insane. Derek was manipulating Stiles' features into Derek's brooding mask of misery, and it was just weird.

Stiles sighed, rubbing his hand over his face and almost yelping at the sensation of stubble on his palm. Stiles wasn't exactly hirsute and could go a few days without shaving the random soon-to-be-a-mustache hairs that sprouted at the corner of his mouth, so to feel the very rough stubble of Manly Face Hair on his cheeks was a bit of a shock. So he did it again. With both hands. It was...really nice. He thought of that one page in his old Pat The Bunny book where you could feel the dad's unshaved face and laughed a little.

“Stop molesting my body!” Derek said in what was almost a shout, cut back to a stern whisper .

“Your body– Oh, dude. Dude!” Stiles ran a hand over the flat of his chest and where he normally would have felt his own modest pecs and instead felt hard, rounded muscle that filled his hand pleasantly, before trailing down to some seriously ripped abs. He was fucking buff, whoa. He couldn't help it, he couldn't. This was all so weird, and surely it was okay to– Eh, just do it and damn the consequences, he finally thought. After all, none of this was his fault in the first place. He cupped himself between his legs and was surprised by the lack of surprise. They were about the same, huh. Nice.

Derek knocked Stiles' (Derek's?) hand away where Stiles was cupping his right ball – it hung a touch lower than his own – through Derek's ridiculously tight jeans. Derek got right up in Stiles' face. It was insane to see his face actually go into Derek Hale, Angry Alpha mode.

“Stop. Molesting. My body,” Derek spat out, his hand gripping at his leather jacket. Stiles' leather jacket. Okay, this was going to get horribly confusing fast. Everything his was Derek's, and everything Derek's was his. In a manner of speaking. Oh, god, this was a hot mess.

“I'm sorry!” Stiles said, trying to pry Derek's hand off and finding it incredibly easy to do. Oh. Oh! Yes, this was crazy, and yes Stiles was trying to get a grip on the big picture here, but dude. Once in a freaking lifetime opportunity here. Hopefully once. And not forever. Oh god.

Stiles coughed and asked, “Hey, uh, so if I'm you–” Derek grunted and stepped back out of Stiles' face, crossing his arms again. “–and you're me, does that mean I'm Alpha?”

Derek looked terrified for a moment; it was an expression Stiles was used to seeing on his own face but had never really seen it on Derek's, so that made it doubly strange to think that Derek could ever be terrified. Personally, Stiles was still absorbing the fact that this was a thing that was actually happening, and that it had happened with a werewolf, instead of letting true terror override the seriously bizarre coolness of their situation.

Derek moved to sit at the kitchen table, deep in thought and completely still. “This is bad,” he said after a minute. “I...I can't change.”

Stiles collapsed into a chair next to him, running his hands over his hair – actual hair! – and the back of his neck as his mind raced, trying not to freak out. Okay, so witches. They swapped them out, Derek and him. Why the fuck would they? To screw with the Alpha? But Derek sounded like himself, he was acting like himself, all surly and grumpy and bossy. And Stiles still felt like himself. Well, his thoughts and feelings felt normal. He still had the urge to drink Mountain Dew, to see if Scott was down with a Halo 4 marathon over the weekend, to take care of his dad– His dad. Shit.

How the hell was he going to be able to watch over his dad if he wasn't himself? Because the whole “dad putting a gun to the back of the head” thing wasn't making the possibility of him in his present physical state taking care of him a viable option. Great, just great. Way to go, witches, endangering the Sheriff. Holy shit, maybe that was their plan? Hmm, Stiles might be overestimating his own self-importance in the life of his father.

Okay, so in the movies this always got fixed. They'd fix this, right? And he'd get a fun little vacation in a supernatural body until then? Speaking of, his body was definitely feeling different, and he was snapped out of his thoughts for a moment as Derek knocked his hand away from where he'd been cupping his pecs. Derek's pecs. Whatever.

Stiles did a quick mental inventory. He didn't feel all “Grr!” and growly, he felt like himself. He held his hand out, fingers spread, and said, “Claws!”


“Claws, activate!”

Still nothing. Derek ran his hand over his face and sighed. “Oh my fucking god, this is a nightmare.” He looked up at Stiles with a sour expression and said, “It doesn't work like that.”

“Well, it's not like I know how know,” Stiles huffed before making claw hands and a mad face.

“Five minutes, Stiles,” his dad said from the other room, sounding super pissed.

“Okay,” they both said. Derek kept his sour look on his face, and Stiles couldn't help but think it made him look older. Him-him. His-body him, not he-Derek-him, because he-Derek-him was definitely looking older because Derek was older–

Derek slapped Stiles' hand away from the neck of Stiles' tee where he'd been peering down to look at his seriously amazing (borrowed) chest, because Stiles was not physically capable of ever developing muscles like that in his lifetime, come the hell on.

“Cut it out!” Watching Derek as him try to bow up and look intimidating was just hilarious. First of all, he knew that he – when he was himself – was no match for Derek's super-strength. Secondly, it was just cute to see Derek still trying to be Alpha no matter what happened.

“Aww, you're going to be fine,” he said fondly. Derek just looked at him all confused and seriously, this was never going to get old, seeing Derek's gestures like tilting his head and scowling performed by his own body. “You're still in Alpha-mode. That's good.”

Derek looked slightly mollified at that, if not still slightly frantic.

Stiles did a quick mental inventory of movies he'd seen about this sort of thing and how they'd been solved in the end: magical lacrosse game which was a real possibility, fortune cookie to mutual respect thing, but that would end up with one of them becoming Lindsay Lohan, which was a serious negatory.

“So...what do we do?” he asked, hanging his hand off the back of his neck this time, hoping that wouldn't mess up his 'do and piss Derek off even more.

Derek sighed and looked off in the middle distance for a moment, stock still. He turned back to Stiles and said, “You're going to have to go to Peter. Tell him what happened and see if he knows how to reverse this.”

“Your uncle Peter?” Stiles asks, his eyes wide with shock. “The one that wanted to give me the bite? The one that almost ripped Lydia to shreds, and the one that tried to help you kill Jackson and actually killed your sister, that uncle?” He kept his shocked facial expression the same and said apologetically, “Sorry about the sister mention?”

Derek said nothing, just continued to look back.

Stiles stuck his chin out, hands dangling between his legs as he huffed out an exaggerated sigh and rolled his eyes. “Fine.

Stiles didn't move. Derek did that whole significant look, chin tilt thing again. “What?” Stiles asked.

“Now? Go now.”

“Dude, this is my house!”

Derek blinked his eyes slowly like he needed a break from looking at him, which was dumb, because Stiles knew what Derek looked like, and there was no way he wasn't enjoying just sitting there looking at himself all hot and leather-clad and bad ass and where was he?

“You want to explain to your dad why you look like you do right now,” Derek gestured at Stiles and said, “and are sleeping in his son's bedroom?”

Stiles gaped back, dumbfounded for a moment. Crap. “Argh!” he howled, just barely keeping it down to a dull roar so his dad wouldn't come in running. Derek was right: his dad would totally toss him in a cell if he found Derek up in his under-aged son's bedroom late at night. “ just want to sleep in a bed for once! Oh my god,” Stiles whined, slumping in his chair until he was almost sliding off it and covered his face with his hands. “You're still in the damn train depot whoziwhatsit, aren't you?”

Derek didn't say anything, just let a slow grin bloom across his face. It was very Derek-esque and it was on Stiles' face, and that was just disconcerting.

“One minute, Stiles, I mean it,” his dad all but shouted from the living room.

Stiles pushed himself to standing, his shoulders down and a frown on his face. His dad had enough to deal with, and he certainly didn't need to have this...whatever the hell was going on added to his plate. He pointed a finger in Derek's face and said, “This is seriously jacked up, dude, and you better hope that Peter has an answer for how to fix this.”

Derek moved to the back door, unlocking it and pulling it open. He leaned against the doorway, arms crossed, and stared back with a bland look on his face, like he was in control of the situation and already bored with it. Not gonna lie, Stiles thought it made him look a little hot. He'd have to remember that when he got back to normal. Because he would. This was not how things were going to stay.

“Or what? You going to do something?” Derek sneered.

“Oh yeah,” Stiles said, grinning as a thought hit him. “Yeah, I'm going to do a lot about it.” He looked back into the mirror and smirked at Derek over his shoulder. “This gets fixed or I'm going to start looking into unicorn face tattoos. You could use a little light and joy in your expression, don't you think?” he said, turning his face and admiring his – Derek's whatever – cheekbones in the reflection. “Something with rainbows? Maybe a kitty riding it? Also,” he said, pushing past Derek and out into the night. “There's one thing you haven't thought of, Mr. Take My Bed And House And Dad.”

Derek looked like he was still trying to process Stiles as him. Whatever. He asked in a quiet voice, “What's what?”

“You have to go to school for me tomorrow.”

With that, Stiles toodle-oo'd his fingers and pulled the keys to the Camaro out of his jacket pocket and jingled them in the air with glee. “And I think I'll take the long way to the train depot.”

And it was incredibly bizarre to be able to hear Derek grinding his teeth with his new wolfy-senses; he would just learn to deal with it for the time being.

* * *

Derek shut the door and locked it, resting the flat of his hand against the wood as he forced himself to breathe slowly and think.

He'd been in the Camaro, watching over the Stilinski house for about an hour before he decided that they were safe for the night, and had turned the car on to head home. That was when he felt like someone was trying to pull him inside out from his belly; he blacked out and came to at Stiles' computer chair. As Stiles. As a fucking human. He had stood in front of the bathroom mirror for a few minutes trying to control the panic as he saw himself as Stiles. As the loud mouthed human friend of the pack. He was going to kill Peter. He was going to kill the witch, then he was going to kill Peter. Maybe even resurrect him again just to kill him all over.

Seeing the Sheriff almost blow off the back of his – Stiles' – head shortly after hadn't been a picnic, either. He didn't think John was the type to hesitate with a threat, but still. He didn't need to put Stiles' dad in the position to have to choose how to handle things. They were going to have to play this cool. They would have to stay calm and focused. Which is of course why the universe threw him into this situation with someone who physically couldn't be calm and focused. Of course.

He winced at the sound of his Camaro peeling down the asphalt outside. Fucking Stiles.

“That guy...there's something wrong about him,” John called out.

“More true than you know,” Derek mumbled, pushing back through the doorway from the kitchen to go up the stairs.

“Hey, get back over here,” John said. “I want to talk to you. Seriously, though.”

Derek paused with one hand on the banister, trying to remember that he had to be Stiles. Fuck. “Uh, okay, but then I really need to get some sleep.”

John crooked a suspicious eye at him and said, “It's only ten-thirty. Since when do you go to bed before two?”

“Uh, tonight? Big, um, test.”

John shifted on the sofa, patting right next to him. “Then I won't keep you, but we need to have a talk.”

Shit. Derek sank down, keeping his body stiff, ready to move, to protect himself. Old habits died hard, and the bone-deep need to be safe until he was himself again was a steady drumbeat at the front of his thoughts.

“Relax. You're not in trouble.” John leaned back against the sofa and fixed him with a hard stare. “Or are you? Anything you want to tell me?”

“I'm not pregnant,” Derek said, hoping lead the Sheriff off the scent of wrong doing. There was a reason John Stilinski had run unopposed for fifteen years: he was very good at his job.

John smiled a bit and nodded, “Yeah, I guessed that. Need someone to actually do the horizontal tango with in the first place, bud.” He squeezed Derek's knee – what John thought was his son's knee – to show he was teasing. The sensation was so familiar to heart-to-heart talks he'd had with his own father that something in his chest clenched with agony just from remembering what those had been like, turning down the volume to his panic to something almost in the background .

“You okay, kid? Seem a little rattled. I mean, that guy'll do it,” John said, looking at the door thoughtfully for a moment before turning back and giving Derek a look of trust, like Derek really could just unload right then. Except Derek couldn't, because that fatherly “I'm here for you and I always will be” look wasn't for him, it was for Stiles.

He took a deep breath to keep old feelings under lock and key – this was definitely not the time – and gave John what he hoped was a reassuring smile. He'd been told by both Scott and Stiles that his own smile could be intense; came from years of having to throw people off the trail of forming relationships with him. After all, not a single one of his relationships hadn't ended in the other person's death.

Not a single one.

He shuddered briefly, the grief from Laura's murder always close to the surface even in times like this, and tried to answer John in a way to speed this up. “Derek's fine; forget him. I'm just tired.”

John put his arm along the back of the sofa, his hand resting on Derek's shoulder in an affectionate way. “You've been tired a lot; I've noticed.”

Well, that was new. As far as Derek could tell, Stiles was always on the go. He shrugged, not knowing how to respond to that and unable to control the guilt creeping in that he was most likely responsible for any negative changes in Stiles' life lately.

“You know, if you ever want to talk to someone about that fight you got in with those assholes from the other school, and I'm not saying you have to talk to me,” his dad said, bending forward enough to be able to look Derek in the eye. “Hey, I know talking to your old man isn't the first thing that pops into your mind when bad things happen.”

Yes it was. Almost every single day.

John squeezed his shoulder again, leaving his warm hand there. Stiles had his dad's hands: big, strong. On John, though, they looked like they fit; Stiles still looked like he was growing into his limbs.

“Sheila at the department said she has a gal she talks to when things get hard, and if you wanted...” John left it open-ended.

Derek cleared his throat and nodded, his eyes focused on his hands between his knees. He tried not to think about the principal at school coming by the police station the night of the fire and telling him that if he ever needed to talk about his feelings, the school had a counselor that would always be available. Derek never went. Then again, he and Laura left Beacon Hills shortly after the fire, afraid, lost, and desperate to get away from what was their home but had become a smoking graveyard for everyone they'd ever loved.

“I just...I worry about you, kid. I know you goof around and act like you're fine, but you don't have to lie to me, all right?” He tugged Derek into a one-armed hug and clapped his back. The familiarity of the act, while strong, was thankfully overpowered by how different John smelled from his own father. That was a good thing. Derek was already finding that he was having a hard time not slipping back into how it felt to be fifteen, to have his own father checking on him, making sure he was safe and well. Because currently, Derek was neither.

“Just let people in, okay?” John sighed and pushed himself to standing, a hand held out.

Uh. Derek looked up from John's offered hand to his face and saw nothing but kindness and love, and it made something he thought had been burned to embers flare up painfully inside his chest, his breath hitching at the ache of just how much love he lost in one fell swoop, how much love was taken from Laura, and all because of him.

John rolled his eyes, grabbed Derek's hand, and tugged him to standing before wrapping his arms tightly around Derek's torso, forcing Derek's arms around John's shoulders.

He couldn't breathe. John held him for a moment, leaned his rough cheek against Derek's and said brokenly, “We're all we have, okay? You gotta let me in. Or at least let me know that you know I care. I love you, son.”

Derek squeezed his eyes shut, wanting to block out the flood of memories that were taking over his thoughts. Hundreds of tight, protective hugs from his dad, his mom, hundreds of times they'd called out “Love you!” when someone left the house. All the times his parents had put their arms around him when he had been upset over something one of his brothers or sisters had done, and would tell him how to be strong, how not to let people hurt him. And always always would they say that they loved him.

There hadn't enough of it, the love, the hugs, the heart to heart talks. There would never be enough, something he didn't realize until the opportunity for more was violently taken away from him. He wanted hundreds more, and he wasn't going to get any more. All he had was this borrowed hug from Stiles' dad.

He'd take it. Just this one; he knew they weren't for him, not really, but in that moment, he needed it.

“Love you, too,” he mumbled, picturing his own father as he buried his face in John's shirt, trying to not let the emotions push him over the edge.

John clapped him on the back as he pulled away, cupping Derek's head in his hand and shaking it in an affectionate sort of way. Derek couldn't help it, he let out a small laugh at that. It was such a dad thing to do. “Me and you, kid.”

“Yeah.” He wondered if Stiles knew how lucky he was. The fond grin John was giving him made him think that yeah, he knew. This was a house with two people that loved each other, no matter what.

“All right, go on and study for the test you already know the answers to,” John said, sitting back down and hunting among the cushions for the remote.

Derek snorted because that was probably true. For as spazzy as Stiles could be, no one could deny how smart he was. He just wasn't focused enough to stop himself from driving his teachers insane, was Derek's guess. He mumbled a good night to John as he took the stairs, stumbling as he tried to take them four at a time. It wouldn't have been a problem for him as a werewolf; he'd forgotten that he was fully human for a moment.

John snorted. “Try taking them like normal people.”

“Right. Um, 'night.” He fought down the prickly heat climbing up his cheeks before remembering that Stiles stumbled all the time, so maybe him walking around in this body – the one that couldn't do all the things he was used to doing – would help him keep up his disguise until they figured this out and got the witch or her coven to fix this.

The thought of not being strong enough to protect himself hit him like a ton of bricks and for that moment, frozen on the stairs, he felt real terror. He was weak. He was human and weak, unable to protect so much as himself, let alone his pack. Not only was there the abstract threat of an Alpha pack making noise here and there, but now there was a witch hellbent on getting revenge on Peter.

And Derek couldn't do anything about it, wasn't capable of doing anything about it. Fuck.

Gripping the newel post, he forced himself to breathe calmly, not wanting to cause John any alarm downstairs. John was out of sight, though. He let himself think as he tried to control his mounting fear. This house had always smelled of safety. John was a good protector of his family and his home, and while that hadn't really taken into account any supernatural troubles, it still gave off the feeling of being a place that was protected. Plus, anyone that was a resident of the county – which evidently this witch was – would know this was the Sheriff's home, its own sort of ward against evil. Thinking of that calmed Derek immediately.

It was incredibly strange to realize that he was being forced to once again put his life in a human's hands and evidently didn't have a problem with it this time. John's position of authority in the community was reassuring; the man was trained and had proven himself time and again to be more than capable in a fight or dangerous situation. He certainly was the Alpha of his small pack.

The corner of his mouth tugged up in a small grin at the thought of being under an Alpha again, how that was a sort of relief. It reminded him of how it felt to be under Laura's protection as they'd moved across the country after the fire. Even though he'd been afraid – terrified, truthfully – he had put complete faith in his sister, knowing she would do her best to keep him safe.

But then, that had ended with his entire world collapsing, fragile as it had been back in New York.

John shouted something at the TV, watching some game he'd recorded and breaking Derek out of his reverie. He'd be okay here for now, but hopefully he wouldn't have to be here for long. Whatever Stiles couldn't accomplish with Peter, Derek would make up for it tomorrow. This had to be solved, and fast. He didn't want Stiles' father in danger of being caught up in some witch bullshit.

He fumbled to the bathroom, needing to pee, and didn't have any sense of weirdness for a moment until he glanced down. Then he remembered that he was essentially holding Stiles' dick in his hand and shuddered. One thing that had been drilled into his head as a kid: don't touch people without their consent. A lot of that had been to protect humans from werewolf kids that weren't aware of their strength, but when they got older, it was for obvious reasons. No meant no, period. But it wasn't like he had any options here, and clearly Stiles didn't have any issues with handling someone else's body without permission.

God, this was all just a mess. He decided that normal consent issues didn't apply here. It wasn't like he was going to get Stiles' body pierced or tattooed – and Stiles' threat was an empty one, since he didn't know how to combine ink with wolfsbane to make one stick – and he'd have to shower eventually. Seeing someone's naked body was just a part of this whole situation, and it couldn't be helped. It wasn't like he was going to enjoy it. Locker room rules it was, then.

After flushing, he turned to the mirror to look at his face as he washed his hands. Thin, almost hollowed out cheeks, pale skin, big, amber-colored eyes. They almost looked like beta-eyes. He blinked at that, still freaking out a little at doing something and seeing Stiles' face do it back. Stiles' mouth looked strange for a minute, and with a laugh, Derek realized that it was because it was closed.

He searched drawers and the medicine cabinet, finding Stiles' toothbrush and toothpaste and made a mental note to find the Adderall for Stiles, in case he needed it.

...would Derek need it? Did he have ADD because he was in Stiles' body? God, was he going to be bouncing off the walls and rambling about things no one cared about? Or maybe that was just Stiles and not his ADD. Actually, that would be great if that was just a Stiles thing, because Derek might actually go crazy if he started rambling off details about Charlemagne during a battle, or some other inappropriate time. Derek was used to being all focus. His thoughts seemed to be normal, nothing obsessive or random or strange. He didn't feel like arguing with reason, so he must be safe. He'd have to pay attention, though, and see if things changed; he'd have to take the pills, if so.

He spat, rinsed the sink out, and rested his forehead on the mirror, sighing heavily. This fucking sucked. He had never taken medicine before. At least, not human medicine. He really didn't like that this body he was trapped in didn't have the strength to defend or heal itself, not against any real threat.

But then he remembered how Stiles had managed to hold him up in a pool while treading water for over two hours as danger lurked nearby, and even when he'd finally given up, he'd pushed Derek up above the surface of the water before he sank to the bottom, where he expected to be left to drown.

Maybe this body was strong enough to defend itself.

Derek pulled off his shirt and looked at Stiles' torso objectively. There was definitely muscle tone, albeit in a rangy, lean sort of way. A little bulk and strength training would go a long way. Derek smiled at his reflection as a plan for calisthenics came to mind; after all, if there was going to be a battle against dark forces, he should be in top form, right? Plus, Stiles would hate it. Derek smiled wider and shut the light off, retiring to the bedroom.

He spent a few hours reading all of the tabs Stiles had opened regarding witches and jotted down questions he wanted to ask on a little pad of paper on Stiles' desk. It seemed like the biggest problem would be counter spells, and since Derek didn't know the first thing about magic, that seemed to be what they should focus on. There was always the option of turning Peter over to the witch, and letting her do whatever she wanted. The more he read about blood rights, the more he thought turning his uncle over would be the better option. Faster, too. They just had to find her.

After a quick scan of the other tabs – the ones not related to his present situation – Derek closed them, too. Stiles taste in porn was...varied, to say the least. Derek had always wondered about that, given the hungry looks Stiles thought Derek hadn't noticed. Also, there was the whole asking other guys if they found him attractive thing.

Stiles was attractive in his own way. Derek just didn't think of him in that way. Not that Derek thought about anyone in that way; Kate had seen to that. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with Stiles, well, aside from him never shutting his mouth. It was just that he was a human under Derek's protection. Any thoughts about Stiles that had bubbled up unwanted were beyond his control; a person wasn't responsible for what their subconscious spit out while sleeping, after all. But he could control himself and had for six years, now. That part of his life was over, it had to be. It was just easier – safer – if Derek shut that part of himself down, no matter how curious he might get at times.

He rolled his eyes and shut the lid to the laptop, climbing into bed and groaning out in a satisfied way at being able to stretch out completely on a mattress in a safe and secure home after living like a fugitive for so many years. Of course, if a coven wanted to blast through the house, pull his conscious to another place or whatever, they could do it. Theoretically. According to the various websites Stiles had found, at least.

He stared up at the ceiling for a long time, willing himself to go to sleep and to stop thinking. He couldn't turn off the thoughts of not being able to protect his pack, small though they were, about what Peter must have done to bring about this type of retaliation, how the hell they were going to fix it, what on earth Stiles would do with his new found Alpha powers, or especially about how being in this house made him remember how his father had smelled – like the pines and wood smoke and warmth and security and home – and how safe he'd felt when his mother tilted her face, expecting a kiss on the cheek as he headed off to school the day of the fire. How he'd grinned over his shoulder at his aunt as she made the baby wave goodbye.

His thoughts inevitably turned to after, when he'd come home and found everything in his life in flames. The stench in the air. He remembered Kate Argent's voice, whiskey-burned and husky in a way he'd thought was so sexy, urgent in his ear the night before, whispering how good he had been to leave the basement door unlocked so she could sneak in and meet him in his bedroom, whispering all the things she wanted to do to him and to keep quiet so they wouldn't wake up the whole house.

The morning he left his family on the porch, everyone feeling safe and secure, like it was just a normal day, he never given thought it would be the last time he'd ever see any of them again. Never realized it would be the last time he would ever feel safe and loved, like he belonged to something. He could almost hear the wail that broke out of Laura as she skidded to a stop on the leaves, crashing into him as he stood horrified, flames still visible in one corner of the house as the fire crews attempted to control the spread to the woods, already giving up on saving anyone inside.

From that moment on, life had spiraled into chaos and loss and so much guilt it broke him, shattered his heart into pieces. He usually felt that way, no matter how hard he tried to make things right.

Derek swallowed thickly, turning onto his stomach and burying his face in Stiles' pillow, breathing deep to control himself. He closed his eyes and focused on the soft, well-worn cotton against his forehead. He breathed in deeply, right in the center of it, and the lump in his throat began to melt away. Even without his heightened senses, it still smelled of Stiles and like pack. That was good; it blocked out the acrid stench of death that always lingered at the back of his throat, choking him.

He focused on the burgeoning feelings of family and security that the pack he was slowly building gave him and felt the tight fist that usually gripped his heart loosen some, allowing him to relax further.

John evidently snored, and loudly at that. Instead of being irritating, Derek found it to be soothing. His dad had been a snorer, too. He smiled into Stiles' pillow, actually feeling safe for the first time in a long while, wrapped up in scents of family and home.

* * *

Stiles leaned against the Camaro – screw what Derek Hale thought, because Derek had a bed in a safe and peaceful neighborhood with his dad and the train depot was at the ass end of town where, you know, supernatural creatures made their lairs. Literally – and stared at the entrance to the warehouse. He was getting tired after driving around in the Camaro for a few hours (hey, it took corners like it was on freaking rails, and he knew he'd never get the chance again) and singing along to the radio. It turned out that Derek did not have a nice singing voice at all, and Stiles found that to be hilarious.

(He also said a lot of ludicrous things just to hear them coming out of Derek's mouth, things like “Scott, you're a nicer werewolf than me,” and “I am a summa cum laude graduate of the School of Eyebrow Emoting,” and “Stiles, you're definitely right one hundred percent of the time, and not annoying in the slightest. And rather handsome.” Stiles shut that whole thing down when he realized where his thoughts were headed.)

He blew out a sigh that was more of a raspberry and shoved off the car, bweeping the locking mechanism on the key ring before pushing inside the building. Stiles let out a huff of a laugh, because he realized that he could see in the dark. Awesome. He would totally need to test all of his new powers soon and have a Peter Parker moment. So, the warehouse: it wasn't pitch black, but if he'd been his normal self, he definitely would have needed a flashlight. Cool. He briefly wondered if there was such a thing as were-cats, which made him think they'd look like Khajiit, which made him think of Skyrim and wish that Derek had an X-Box Live so if he got bored, he could at least level up, but Derek was deathly allergic to things that were fun, so probably not.

“Well, well, well. This is interesting. Hello, Stiles.”

Stiles came to an abrupt halt. There was a smell that at first made him feel relaxed, then tense, then really irritated. Peter stepped into view and everything made sense. “How did you know it was me?” Stiles asked, looking down at his body on the chance that he'd become himself again without realizing it.

“Your smell, of course. You smell a little like Derek, like his body, but your, hmm, youness is still there. And you definitely aren't someone I'd forget,” Peter said, smiling with his hands clasped behind his back like a damn DC comic villain. Wait, no, Marvel because without the goatee, Peter could totally be Victor Von Doom, Stiles thought. Heh, he used to be Two-Face, though. Oh, that made him feel bad; Peter had been horrifically injured in a fire.

...and he almost killed Lydia by ripping her to shreds, sympathy gone.

“I should want to kill you,” Stiles said, grinding his teeth a little.

“Funny,” Peter said, “Derek said the same thing. But,” Peter said with a little bit of an aw-shucks grin, “he threw in an 'again'.”

“This is all your fault, I assume,” Stiles said, gesturing towards himself.

Peter smiled, slow and wide, and Jesus, was there anything this guy did that wasn't creepy? He probably made petting a kitten look menacing and eerie. “Why would you say that?”

Stiles stared back at him, and after a moment, Peter laughed. “You even scowl like him, this is fantastic!”

“No! This is not fantastic, this is actually the furthest thing from fantastic, and I would really like to be me again ASAP because sleeping here with you–” At the positively feral grin on Peter's face, Stiles cut himself off, shook his head and almost backed away before remembering that he had super strength, too. Screw stepping backwards. He actually advanced a step and pointed at Peter's chest while saying, “Sleeping. Me. Alone. You. Sleeping. Elsewhere not with me because of the previously mentioned alone thing. That's what I meant. And that it is less than ideal.”

“Mm, yes. I agree completely. You. Sleeping. Alone. Me. Sleeping. Elsewhere and not with you because of the previously mentioned alone thing is definitely less than ideal,” Peter purred.

Stiles was abso-fucking-lutely dumbfounded. “Dude. Dude.” He waved his hand in a circle around his face and hissed, “I look like your nephew. Dude,” he finished emphatically. Dude was such a great word. It could mean shock, ew, and seriously fucking ew.

Peter laughed, leaning against a support beam and cleaning his fingernails on one hand with the claws on the other. Stiles watched in fascination as Peter made his index finger's claw longer, then shorter, then longer, and Stiles looked up to see Peter watching him with an odd sort of grin. Well, it was Peter. Everything he did was odd.

“Can know?” Peter asked, extending all the claws on his right hand with a flick of the wrist.

“I don't– ” Stiles concentrated on his right hand and flicked his wrist like Peter had done, but nothing happened.

Peter slowly walked towards him, hands up in a gesture of peace, and stood extremely close to Stiles. Peter's smell was overwhelming, but it wasn't a bad smell. Well, not all of it. There was a strange, earthy smell of rot, but that was mostly overpowered by something that made Stiles think of rainy days with his mom where they'd share a blanket and watch movies. He closed his eyes and sniffed and could picture his dad coming home from work to join them, his tired or sad expression left on the other side of the door because he was finally home, and Stiles and his mom were happy to see him.

Whoa, this smell thing was intense. He only felt a little weird by the whole sniffing thing but figured since these guys did it to him and everyone else all the damn time that Peter probably wasn't bothered by it. In fact, Peter smiled, and it looked like an actual person's smile, not a homicidal maniac's smile. It was surprisingly a good look on him.

“Pack,” Peter said with a shallow nod. “Like family for you, isn't it?”

Stiles sagged his weight back on one leg, needing space because yeah. “Yeah. What's... How– Hey, you aren't my family, so don't go getting ideas.”

Peter looked at him for several moments, head tilted to the side and evidently lost in thought. Or coming up with a lie, Stiles couldn't decide.

“I don't know if I smell like your family because I just smell of pack, and that makes you think of your own, or if I smell like family because I'm going to be family.”

Stiles' jaw dropped. “What with the what-what? Be? Be my family?” He pounded his palm against his chest, almost bursting into laughter at the thought of it. “Shyeah, like my dad would let you– hey now, seriously, what? Uh, I don't swing that way!”

Peter smirked. “Pretty sure that you do.”

Stiles fought back the heat rising in his chest and up his neck. “Pretty sure I'm not into necrophilia, dude.”

Peter laughed, the sound sharp and ringing, and Stiles fought the urge to clap his hands over his ears because damn.

“That's a good one, Stiles,” Peter said, head tilted to the side and positively beaming back at him. Fucking creepy dude. “The jury's still out on if I'm dead or resurrected. Hm, maybe I'm the Messiah?”

Stiles scoffed because of course Peter would think he was werewolf Jesus. He sniffed, just an involuntary habitual sort of thing, and caught the scent of something that smelled really good. Like, he had the urge to roll around in it and okay, the werewolf thing was official wrong and awful and even though he understood that intellectually, he still followed the scent because rolling in something sounded fucking awesome right about then.

When he was super hungry and drove past the burger place off Maple, the smell that hit like a ton of bricks and made him loop around every single time to hit the drive-through? Totally didn't compare. This was like...that times a hundred. And something that made him feel suddenly aggressive, like, if anyone rolled in that before him, he might have to claw a bitch. Witch. But yeah. Claw a witch.

He crossed the expansive space, eyes closed and breathing in through his nose, letting it lead him to the source, still trying to identify what the hell that was. And okay, if he was being honest with himself, it also kind of smelled like jerking off. Which he never thought of as a smell, and hey, sure, his lotion had a smell but he hardly noticed it anymore, and as that was the only sexing that Stiles was getting at the mo', how the hell did he know what sex smelled like?

He ended up in one of the far corners where there was a sort of wall that ended at eight feet in height, jutting out to make a nook. If the warehouse hadn't been Wolf Central, it would have made a nice office. There was a bed, an actual bed back there, sheets and everything, and a dresser. Stiles' heart rate picked up because the smell was really messing with him, and he wanted to take his clothes off and get all up in that bed and it was Derek's, he got that, and oh man, what the fuck.

“I've seen how you look at him,” Peter said in a nonchalant way, like he was mentioning seeing a car pass by outside.

Feeling incredibly defensive, Stiles stood tall, his arms crossed in front of him in what he thought of as Derek's Imposing Alpha Stance. Instead of being intimidated, however, Peter just laughed some more. Ass.

“Hey,” Stiles barked, er, snapped. “He's a good looking guy. Like, not from this planet hot.” He closed his eyes and shook his head one time, hard. “Man, I didn't mean to say that out loud. Attractive, yeah,” Stiles said with a 'no duh' face. “Derek is pleasing to the eye. But that doesn't mean anything other than me having eyes that, you know, work. There's more to liking someone than their looks.” He hoped.

“I see attractive, pleasing to the eye people all the time, but that doesn't make me want to bury my nose in their, shall we say, nethers?”

Stiles made fists, uncrossing his arms and letting them dangle at his side. That smell in his nostrils, fuck, it was fogging up his thoughts it was so intense, and Peter being a dick as per usual was getting him really pissed. Seriously, this was starting to cease to be temporary Spiderman-powers cool and was veering straight into Hulk Smash. Peter just kept laughing, and Stiles wanted to jam his fist down his throat, wanted to rip his throat right the fuck out–

“There it is,” Peter said, smugly. He indicated with a finger for Stiles to look behind him. Stiles jumped, because Derek was suddenly there all wolf-faced and menacing, and that was always good for a momentary freak out and holy shitballs that wasn't Derek in the mirror. Derek didn't flinch when he saw himself, Stiles was pretty sure. Plus the whole body-swap thing and there was just a lot going on and it was just that he forgot he was Derek for a moment, he wasn't suddenly stupid.

His burning rage to tear out Peter's throat (with his teeth) and the need to dry hump Derek's freaking bed subsided to a sort of emotional white noise in the background because dude. Dude! Stiles could wolf out. He could go all “grr!” with the claws and the facial hair and the menace. Sweet.

Now that he saw he could do it, he really wanted to focus on the whole wolfing out thing, because huh. That was...really attractive in a way, and where the hell were his eyebrows? He tried wiggling them, but his forehead was all that moved. When Scott wolfed out he had eyebrows. Maybe it was an Alpha thing? He bared his teeth, unable to resist the urge to touch one of his pointy canines, pulling it back when it pricked his finger, tearing it a little and flooding his mouth with the taste of blood.

And then the most awesome thing ever ever ever happened as he pulled his finger away to look at the damage. It totally healed. Yeah, he'd seen Scott heal like that, but this was him healing, and he could feel it, like tiny little knitters were in his skin weaving it back together with the faintest of pinches and pulls.

He turned to Peter, all smiles, and showed him his finger. “Look! That's so cool!”

“This is going to get old quickly,” Peter mumbled, appearing bored and every bit the uncle forced to praise his nephew's macaroni art.

“What else can I do?” Stiles said, mostly to himself, which was pretty normal for him, and pushed past Peter to the open space of the warehouse, looking for inspiration. “Aha!”

Stiles strode confidently towards a large metal shipping container, open and rusted, and eyed it with his hands on his hips. He squatted down, mentally reminding himself to lift with the knees, and grabbed it underneath, pulling up with all his might. Which turned out to be a lot because whoa, he just flipped a shipping container, like, fifteen feet across the room!

He turned to smile at Peter, a cacophony of metal and glass shattering and crashing at the opposite end of the room. Peter smiled, but it was only perfunctory. Stiles was way familiar with that particular look. But who cared, he was super strong now. For the next five minutes, he busied himself stacking heavy objects, trying to test the limit of how much he could dead lift. He didn't even know why there was an old freezer down there, but loaded up with everything he could cram inside still wasn't too much for him to lift.

That sorted, he then loaded it all into the shipping container because shoving strength was probably different. Different muscles? He'd find out soon enough. He put both hands on a support bar that ran the length of the crate and shoved hard. The whole thing skidded across the room with a harsh metallic scrape along the concrete floor. Fortunately, none of the sparks ignited any of the ever-resent cardboard boxes.

Fucking. Cool. And huh, in comparison, Derek was pretty gentle with him when he had shoved Stiles around. Derek and the word gentle: those weren't two things Stiles had ever imagined would go together.

Stiles laughed softly at the mental image of Derek nuzzling and cooing to a baby bunny in his hands when his face felt tingly, like that finger-knitting sensation, but with pressure. When he touched his face, he had eyebrows again. Huh. So that was de-wolfing. All right, then.

He went stock still for a moment, hearing the sound of an engine approaching outside. That was pretty far away, so he mentally checked his “can hear way beyond 50 yards” box on his super powers checklist. He crouched, like he was going to attack whoever came in, and okay, Stiles did not sign up for bloodshed. And even though he was a lover, not a fighter (theoretically), his instincts still told him to be ready. He closed his eyes and breathed deep. Family.

His eyes snapped open just as Isaac walked in.

Issac went to the corner directly opposite Stiles' where there was another cubby-office-type space. It was a step up from what Stiles had imagined they all slept on, which was dirty clothes piled inside the subway car. Maybe they just used those for naps.

“Hey, Derek.”

“Yeah,” Stiles said, drawing the word out before sucking his teeth. “I'm not Derek. I'm Stiles.”

Completely deadpan, Isaac replied, “Good one.”

Peter stepped around a pillar, and seriously with these Hales and their lurking. “I'm afraid it's true.”

Isaac looked between Stiles and Peter, probably waiting for one of them to crack, but Stiles simply smiled back and shrugged his shoulders. “Witches, dude.”

Isaac blinked. He blinked again. “Witches...are real?” He didn't look like he trusted anyone or anything in that moment.

Stiles threw his hands wide and all but shouted, “I know, right? But then, werewolves and lizard-werewolves are real, so yeah. Sounds like all of our bedtime stories are totally real, which means vampires are real and fuck, I am so sick of vampires, it's like they're everywhere and they're not even cool anymore, they just lay around high schoolers and sparkle.”

Isaac took a step backwards.

“You know, minus the sparkling thing, you could totally call Derek an Edward Cullen what with the constipated look all the time, spending his free time with kids in high school like us–”

“Like us?” Isaac's eyes were round like saucers.

“–and the lurking and creeping, bro, it's like, enough, right? I can't have him hopping in my window at all hours to watch me sleep, or what the hell ever he does.”

“I need someone that isn't him–” Isaac pointed at Stiles. “–to explain what is going on in very short sentences.”

Peter tilted his head towards Stiles with a smarmy grin. “He means me.” Peter cleared his throat and grabbed at his jacket like he was an orator and said, “I had...congress with a lovely witch a few nights ago and didn't return her call.” He turned to Stiles with a hand at the side of his mouth and said conspiratorially, “Clingy.” He looked back at Isaac. “Apparently she was hoping for more, didn't get what she wanted, and decided to take measures.”

Stiles gaped. “Measures?” he asked, moving his hands up and down in front of his body quickly, finishing with both index fingers pointing towards his face.

Peter shrugged, shoved his hands in his pockets and rocked back and forth on his heels.

Stiles flung the back of his hand out to slap against Peter's arm, forgetting that he had super strength. Peter went flying.

Going still, Stiles said, “Oops?”

Peter stood up from the stack of cardboard boxes – and was that a rule for all warehouses, no matter what they...housed? To have boxes randomly stacked? Because it was really convenient for that whole smacking people across the room thing. Not to mention that–

Peter tackled him to the ground and straddled his torso, bringing his fist back to smash into Stiles' – Derek's – face. Instead of cringing, which would have been the correct answer, an unholy rage welled up inside of him, and he fucking roared, completely pissed that Peter would dare hit him.

And...Peter cringed. Peter got off of him. Peter stood and backed away, looking like he didn't want to mess with Stiles. Damn right he didn't.

“God. Dammit.” Isaac dropped his head into his hand, shaking it back and forth. “So you're the fucking Alpha now? Stiles 'ride the bench' Stilinski?”

“Whoa whoa whoa,” Stiles said, his hands out to get Isaac to calm down. Isaac looked pretty calm, but Stiles was betting that he himself did not. In fact, because he was a betting man (theoretically) he would put good money down on him looking the opposite of calm because he was now the Alpha? With the power and the biting and the ungrateful kids he had to look out for? Wait. “Wait, you really know I'm me?”

Isaac rolled his eyes. “Three things: Derek doesn't flail, Derek wouldn't have bitch slapped Peter's arm–” No, he would have bitch-slapped Peter's face, fair enough. “–and he would have let Peter punch him. Once. Guilt for killing him, and all.”

Peter checked the back of his trousers, dusting them off. “It was an agreement we made. We each get one in a day.”

Stiles stared back. He caught Peter's jaw flexing, and his heart rate jumped, so he pointed sharply – because hey, claw – and said with glee, “Ha! You're lying!”

“And suddenly it's fun again,” Peter said, grinning.

“Wait, you smelled me,” Stiles said, pointing to Peter, “but you didn't?” he asked, pointing to Isaac.

Isaac shrugged. “Derek's always getting on me for relying on my eyes and strength more than my nose.”

“Bitten wolves,” Peter said with thinly veiled irritation. “So many natural instincts to be explained, it's tedious, really. I don't know why we bother making them.”

Isaac rolled his eyes and turned to walk to his bedroom. His space. Private area? “Peter has his 'let me teach you' face on, so I'll be in my bunk.”

Stiles snerked a laugh at that, because that meant something totally different than what he imagined Isaac was actually going to be doing. Peter shook his head, still smiling, and brushed one index finger over the other in a “naughty, naughty!” gesture.

Ugh, Peter was such a dick. He didn't even know how to let a guy think a dirty joke in peace. Stiles shoved past Peter – the kind Derek used to do to him which was really controlled, now that he got how strong Derek really was – and was surprised by the growl he felt rumbling in his throat. Something about Peter was just really setting him off. Maybe it was that faint smell of rot. Or the fact that Peter – a known killer – also smelled like family. That was confusing as hell.

“Now, now, you're going to have to learn to control that,” Peter said, rounding on him. “Really. You're going to have to learn to control that.”

Stiles cracked his neck and shook his hands out, trying to rid himself of some of the energy that always buzzed under his skin. Funny, this was the first time he really felt anything like that since the change. Maybe the werewolf body did something to his ADD like it did for Erica's epilepsy? Okay, so was it his brain that moved over in the swap? His mind? And did that mean ADD was only a mental thing, wait, no, that wasn't how it worked. He really could use a consult with Lydia on this, too bad she wasn't speaking to any of them right now.

Jesus, he was dealing with witches and trying to figure out the science behind neurological disorders as they pertained to a fucking body or soul swap? There hadn't been science classes at Hogwarts for a reason: because it didn't make sense.

“We may have handled the Kanima,” Peter said, “but there is a pack of alphas out there with two of our own–” Stiles felt anger and a wave of loneliness wash over him. He shook his arms out and cracked his neck to rid himself of the feeling. “–and tactically we're weak with you in charge.”


Peter closed his eyes and patted Stiles' arm. “Sorry to offend you. But to be fair, you just learned how to partially wolf out a few minutes ago, and how long have you been like this?” Peter gestured towards Derek's body. At what must be Stiles' dumbfounded expression, Peter nodded and continued. “We can't let them know about this. And I need to teach you everything I know about being a good Alpha as fast as possible.”

“You want me to be the Alpha? To actually act – in dangerous situations – as the Alpha?” At Peter's nod, Stiles continued. “You know this is a terrible plan, right?”

“It's the only one we've got,” Peter sighed.

Stiles wouldn't deny that a part of him was really curious to see how Scott and Derek lived, to see what being a werewolf really meant. After all, this was pretty much the only chance he'd have to ever find out. But it also meant that he'd have to be the brawn, and not the brains. And he was really good at being the brains. And bait. Oh, he wouldn't have to be bait anymore....

“So, what, are you going to be my Obi-Wan?” he asked Peter.

With a slow and seriously disturbing grin, Peter replied, “Something like that.”