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He's standing just inside the copse of trees bordering Beacon Hills Memorial's employee parking lot, watching Melissa McCall make her way from her car to the building, when Scott slips in beside him. They wait side by side in semi-companionable silence until the sliding glass doors close behind her, and then Scott sighs.

"Do you think it really helps?"

Derek shrugs. He and Scott have been doing this, keeping watch on Melissa during these vulnerable moments, ever since late May, when Derek told Scott about the alpha pack's presence. He'd never intended for Scott to join him in his nightly rounds, but he should have known that Scott would be proactive about his own mother's safety. And, well, Derek can't exactly say he minds the company, or the sense of pack that thrums through him whenever Scott's close, even if it's a feeling he's not sure he'll ever trust again.

"I don't know what else to do," Derek finally says. The phrase I don't know slips out of his mouth far too easily these days. The alpha pack still hasn't done more than tag Derek's various haunts with their harshly geometric triskele, though he's suspicious of a few more subtle signs, like the way the coffee shop Stiles likes to hang out at sometimes stinks of forest loam, or how the grass on the lacrosse field keeps getting torn up, even though the season ended months ago.

"Dr. Deaton knows about them," Scott says yet again. It's almost a ritual at this point. "He keeps asking me about my day like he's expecting something to happen."

"Of course he does," Derek mutters. "What, exactly, am I supposed to do about that? He doesn't tell me shit, except to trust you, and look how well that turned out."

"I said I was sorry!" Scott huffs out an exasperated breath. "It's not exactly like you've given me a lot of reason to trust you, either."

"I know," Derek grinds out. Sometimes he thinks they're caught in a kind of twisted groundhog day scenario, one where everything else in the world moves forward, all except for him and Scott trapped in this pointless, unhelpful argument until the day they die.

Which probably won't be that far in the future, knowing his luck.

Derek pinches the bridge of his nose, then takes a deep breath and drops his hand. "Look. Let's just focus on the present. Until something changes, all I can do is keep my senses open and hope I'm in the right place at the right time. If you've got some brilliant plan up your sleeve, now's a good time to share it."

Scott's mouth takes on a pissy twist, but then he sighs, the anger that's been radiating off of him cooling as quickly as it flared up. "I don't. You know I don't."

Derek wants to say he doesn't know any such thing after the stunt Scott pulled with Gerard, but anger is his anchor, not his master. "Fine. Then I have other places to be right now."

"You're still keeping an eye on Stiles?"

Derek just arches an eyebrow, because it wasn't really a question anyway. Scott's over at the Stilinski place often enough; if he isn't picking up on Derek's trail, then he might as well hand himself over to a hunter and ask for a wolfsbane cocktail.

Then again, considering Scott's past relationship with the Argents, he's pretty much done exactly that.

"You know he doesn't want you there," Scott says.

Derek rolls his eyes. "Then it's a good thing he doesn't have to know."

"I'm just saying. He wants a break from all this...." Scott waves his hands between the two of them, fluttering and Stiles-like. "This stuff, and I'm doing everything I can to make sure he gets it."

"It's not like he can just ask for a time out," Derek says. "His whole house stinks enough like you to be your own home. He's with you and Isaac at least every other day. You honestly think the alphas won't notice that?"

"No, I know." Scott stuffs his hands into his pits. "I'm not saying don't look out for him. Just, be careful, okay? Stiles can get stubborn if you push him."

Derek snorts. "Pot, kettle."

A grin breaks over Scott's face, boyish and sweet, the kind of grin that makes Derek think of pudgy fists covered in mud and high-pitched giggles. "Yeah, well, why do you think we're such good friends? We're both too bullheaded to ever give up on each other."

That, at least, is a rock-solid certainty that even Derek can trust.

The sheriff is a conundrum.

Derek sits in a tree that arches out over the stream where Matt Daehler drowned, watching as the sheriff stands beside his patrol car, one arm hitched up on the roof while he shoots the shit with one of his deputies.

Of all the parents on Derek's route, Stilinski is the one most capable of taking care of himself if it comes down to a fight. He's also the one most likely to wind up in the middle of a shitstorm, whether he's targeted or not. The one most likely to be overconfident, to get in over his head, because of his faith in the gun at his side and a belief that his badge is big enough to cover every exigency. It's a belief that's probably not as strong as it once was, sure, thanks to the attack on the station, but even a lawman's jaded wariness won't mean shit if he's not packing wolfsbane in his clip.

Derek thinks about it sometimes. Thinks about what it would be like if, one of these nights, while Stiles is off at Scott's trying to burn all the bad things out of his head with videogames and vast amounts of sugar, Derek walked up to the sheriff's house and knocked on the door. There could be so many advantages if the sheriff of Beacon Hills knew what was going on under his nose, if he knew of the kind of cold-blooded hate that turned the seduction of a fifteen-year-old boy into a game of murder.

He thinks about how nice it would be to have the sheriff on his side, but then he remembers that the Argents sell their guns to the department. He remembers that Stiles went home one night this spring with a swollen cheek and a busted lip, all because he stood by his werewolf friend. He remembers that Stiles has had a gun to his head and been paralyzed by the kanima's venom and nearly drowned saving Derek's own life, and so Derek puts his fantasy away in the box where he keeps every other ridiculous dream that tries to tempt him.

The sheriff laughs, slapping the roof of his car, then finally waves to his deputy and climbs inside. Derek waits until the engine turns over before jumping down out of the tree and heading for the running route he's perfected for shadowing Stilinski's journey home.

Derek watches the sheriff get safely inside, then waits through the regular evening conversation he has with Stiles. The floorboards creak as the sheriff makes his ritual circuit of the house, and then the upstairs lights flick on and off, until only a computer-screen glow shines forth from Stiles' room.

Derek lets out a long breath, and considers his options. Erica's mom sometimes goes out about this time if she's had a really tough day at work, seeking solace for an aching heart in a room full of alcohol and karaoke. But Erica's gone, has defiantly declared herself not pack, and his instincts tell him that Mrs. Reyes is not the one the alpha pack is interested in.

The real itch under his skin is the Argents and their ilk. He doesn't need to ask to know that Scott keeps watch over Allison, broken up or not, but he still doesn't trust Scott to pass on any useful information. Or to notice anything beyond whether Allison's changed her shampoo this week, to be honest.

To be fair, Scott's obsession with an Argent hasn't gotten his mother killed yet, so he's still one up on Derek.

Derek would like to keep it that way.

When he gets back to the loft after checking in on the Argents, the Boyds, and Erica's mother, it's well past midnight. Isaac's in his room, breathing deep and even, but Peter cracks an eye open from where he's sacked out on the couch.

"Nothing," Derek says, with enough alpha finality in his tone that Peter rolls his eyes and turns over onto his other side.

It's pathetic how much of a relief that is.

He slops together a quick sandwich, then carries it up to his own bed, already half finished with it by the time he's dropping his keys on his nightstand and pulling his phone out of his pocket to recharge it.

There's a text waiting for him.

Hey, dickwad! You are not as subtle as you think you are, Creepy McCreeperson. Cut it out or I'm going to tell my dad I've got a stalker.

Derek rolls his eyes and deletes the text. If there's one thing Stiles has made abundantly clear, with and without words, it's that he'll do everything in his power to keep his dad as far away from anything remotely connected to the supernatural as possible. Including Derek. Stiles can make his empty threats all day, can insult Derek all he wants. It's no skin off Derek's nose.

It's not.

Despite Stiles' opinion on the matter, Derek is good at hiding himself, when he chooses to be. He knows the teens think otherwise, mainly because there's a difference between letting himself be seen by a chosen few and hiding himself completely. Scott needed the reminder of what he was in those early days, the tenuous anchor that Derek's presence could provide, even if that anchor was nothing more than the fear of what Derek would do to him if he lost control.

They've all seemed to conveniently forget the numerous times they've nearly crapped themselves when Derek's stepped out of the shadows with no warning.

It's a surprise, then, when Stiles pauses with one hand on the door of his Jeep, the other spread wide around a gigantic iced strawberry concoction, and looks straight up at the roof where Derek's been crouched. He rolls his eyes, then gets into the Jeep, shutting the door with an uncharacteristic slam.

Derek's phone buzzes a few seconds later.

Fuck off. I'm serious.

Just for the hell of it, Derek sends back a smiley face, and nothing else.

Stiles slips out the back door of his house the next night and saunters across the patio with his hands in his pockets, whistling tunelessly. He rounds the corner of the house and comes to a stop next to the sad-looking blue hydrangeas.

"I know you're there," he says, staring straight at the shadows that cloak Derek's favorite hiding spot. "Get your ass over here and talk to me, or I swear to God I'll call Chris Argent and have him sic his friends on your ass."

It's the command in his tone more than the ballsy threat itself that has Derek's hackles rising. He's tempted to take off, just to piss Stiles off, or to rush up to him, press him into the side of the house and show him a full-wolf smile, give him something to really run to Chris about, but he hasn't actually talked to Stiles in forever. Not since that night at the sheriff's station, really, which doesn't even seem possible.

Sometimes it's hard to believe he's only known Stiles for a handful of months.

He jumps off the neighbor's roof, landing beside Stiles with a satisfying whoomph that makes Stiles startle and flail. Derek grins as he rises from his crouch. "You rang?"

"I'm shocked you answered," Stiles scoffs. "You never have before."

Derek's watched Stiles for a while now, going back and forth to Scott's, to the lacrosse field, to that damn coffee shop, so he's been vaguely aware of the fact that Stiles has been growing his hair out. But seeing it up close throws Derek off his game, makes him pay far too much attention to the tufting curls, the way the shape frames Stiles' face and matures it. Ages him up by years.

"You haven't said anything worth responding to before," he finally says, several beats too late. "How did you know I was watching you, anyway? Did Scott tell you?"

Stiles' jaw drops. He closes it again so tightly the muscles jump. "No," he says. "No, apparently Scott doesn't tell me crap anymore."

Derek presses his lips together, annoyed at his misstep. It certainly won't win him any points with Scott to get Stiles pissed at him, too. "He did tell you about the alpha pack, right?" Stiles jerks his head for the slightest affirmative. "Because I'm not just sitting around out here with my thumb up my ass."

"Could have fooled me."

"I don't get why you're so angry with me," Derek grinds out. He doesn't. He knows Stiles has been upset, sick with worry and fear. Scott's tiptoed around the subject, but he's said enough for Derek to get the picture. But he thought they'd gotten to an okay place, him and Stiles, where even if they didn't particularly trust each other, or consider themselves friends, they could talk civilly, exchange information without a fight. "I haven't done anything to you."

Stiles huffs dismissively, like it's so obvious, Derek, aren't you smart enough to figure it out? Kate used to say that, all laughing eyes and smiles, but he was never in on the joke. He never did figure it out.

Not until it was too late.

"Scott told me about what Gerard did to you," Derek says, tightening his fists until he can feel the press of claws inside his skin, just waiting to burst forth. He hadn't known what was going on with Stiles that night, hadn't cared that Stiles was missing, too caught up in dealing with Jackson and Peter and goddamned Gerard. Scott had taken a while to put together the pieces, too, but that doesn't lessen the acid slosh Derek gets in his stomach whenever he thinks about Stiles—Erica and Boyd, too, apparently—stowed away in the Argents' basement, playthings for Gerard's amusement when he had the time to spare.

"So Scott's secret keeping only goes one way," Stiles snaps. "Good to know."

"Don't blame Scott. Don't make this out to be something it's not." Derek blows out a breath through his nose. "I'm sorry you got hurt, okay? I'm sorry I wasn't there to stop him. But that's why I'm here. I'm not going to let anything happen to you, or your dad, or anyone else, not if I can help it. Not this time."

"Yeah, well, it's the 'if I can' part that's messing with my head," Stiles says. "Because we all know how good you are at that, don't we?"

Derek almost walks away. He's already moving, the kick to his diaphragm so sharp that he turns with it like it's a physical blow. He stares at the lichens creeping up the wall of the neighbor's house, grinding his teeth as he tries to get himself under control. Of course Stiles doesn't have any faith in Derek's ability to keep him safe. Why would he?

"If you don't care about yourself, fine," he says. "But I thought you'd at least appreciate another set of eyes on your dad."

"My dad? My dad is exactly why I'm so pissed at you!"

Derek spins back around. Stiles' face is spotted with his rage, angry hives of color that travel all the way down his long neck. "What? Why?"

"Are you kidding me? Do you even understand what it was like to see Matt attack my dad? To know there was nothing I could do and it was all my—" Stiles snaps his mouth shut. "No. This is all you. You and Allison and your stupid families with your damn Hatfield-McCoy crap."

Derek wants to rage at him, tell him that it's all on the Argents, all on their fucking hate, but then there's Peter and the horror he wrought.

The blame for Peter, of course, is all on Derek. On Derek's own stupidity.

"Trouble follows you everywhere, Derek," Stiles says softly, words almost gentle, like long, nimble fingers teasing the thought right out of Derek's head. "You keep following my dad around, trouble's going to start paying attention to him, too. And that's just.... No."

Derek clenches his jaw. He doesn't care if what Stiles says is true. "You can't make this go away by just ignoring the issue, Stiles."

"Oh, bullshit! Isn't that exactly what you tried to tell Scott to do after he was first bitten? You wanted him to cut all his ties with Allison because it'd put them both in danger."

"Because she's an Argent!" A dog barks a few houses down, and Derek fists his hands again, reminding himself to keep it under control. A loud argument at night outside the sheriff's house won't go unnoticed for long. "How can you not see the difference?"

"Yeah, fine, I'll give you that one, congratulations. But." Stiles clenches his hands in his hair, fingers sinking deep into the soft waves of it. "I don't even get why you care. I'm not part of your pack, I'm not even a freakin' werewolf. Enlighten me!"

The damning thing about Stiles, the thing that winds Derek up, makes Derek need to turn to him, while at the same time making him want to run as fast and as far away from the kid as he can get, is that he never fails to ask the right (the wrong) questions. The ones that Derek hates to think about. Like why, for instance, he's not only never been able to stop feeling like Scott is part of his pack, but why—and how—this ridiculous, smart-mouthed, too-fragile human boy has wormed his way in there too.

"Whether you're pack or not doesn't matter," he says as calmly as he can manage. If Stiles doesn't recognize himself as pack, then Derek's not going to make that mistake, either. Not out loud, anyway. "You and Scott have been so close for so long you're practically twins. I can't get close to you without smelling him, and vice versa. You reek of each other."

Stiles gapes. "So what, this is some kind of territory thing? You don't like the way we smell like each other because it keeps reminding you we're not under your control?"

"What? No!" Derek looks up to the sky, but the moon isn't offering any wisdom tonight. "Damn it, Stiles, I'm talking about the alpha pack."

Stiles snorts. "Whatever, dude. You're the one who's out here every night. What comes next after stalking—pissing on my bushes? Gonna piss on me? Is that what'll take to make you feel secure?"

Derek doesn't know why that's the line that sends him over the edge. Stiles always makes him so freaking angry, in ways that don't slot neatly in line with the constant fury he feels at himself, at Kate and the Argents and everyone else who's ruined in his life. He's channeled that anger into violence before, shoved Stiles against walls and slammed his forehead into the Jeep's steering wheel. It never helps. It just makes Derek angrier, watching the betrayal and anger cross Stiles' face in response, sensing the fear and courage that pour off of him in waves.

"What if I did," Derek murmurs, crowding in closer, herding Stiles towards the side of his house. "Would you shut your yap then? Would you take me at my word that I have your best interests at heart?"

Stiles snorts. "You wouldn't dare."

Derek can see the exact moment Stiles regrets his own words. His mouth opens, head rolling to the side in negation, but Derek's already moving, sweeping his leg out to trip Stiles to the ground. Stiles lands with an oomph, still no good at breaking a fall even after years of lacrosse. He starts scrambling backwards as soon as he recovers his breath, arms and legs beneath him, crablike, and Derek lets him go.

There's no room for him to escape.

The sound of metal grating against metal is loud in the stillness of the night. Loud even to human ears, judging by the way Stiles' eyes have gone incredibly wide. His gaze drops, down to where Derek is working his dick out of his fly. He opens his mouth again but, incredibly, words don't spill out.

Derek takes aim and lets loose. It's easier than he ever imagined it'd be: no shy bladder, no embarrassment at all. It feels right. Good, even, as his urine spatters and hisses down on the denim that covers Stiles' legs. His own scent splashes back at him, salty and full of his own musk, tinted with the indescribable scent that means Stiles. Even now, with the hot, angry flush rising up his throat and into his cheeks, Stiles smells like arousal, like a want so strong it feels like desperate need, and tonight Derek can't—won't—pretend he doesn't know who it's directed towards.

He takes a step forward, close enough that his ankle is pressed against Stiles', and lifts his cock so his stream hits Stiles in the chest. Right in the middle of that stupid I support single moms T-shirt. He thinks about aiming higher, until he's striping Stiles' cheeks, until it's dripping into Stiles' mouth, but the pressure in his bladder is almost gone and he's not that cruel. Not quite.

The last few drops rain down onto Stiles' shoes, and Derek doesn't try very hard to miss his own. He gives dick a quick shake, then takes his time tucking himself back away.

Stiles hasn't looked away from his cock once the whole time.

Derek supposes he should cut Stiles some slack for the staring, since Derek was the one to whip his cock out in the first place.

"Now," he says, stepping away. "Get back inside. And don't push me again."

Amazingly enough, Stiles does what Derek says, only sparing his clothes a quick look of disgust before he charges for the back door. Derek listens to Stiles stomp up the stairs and on into the main bathroom, waits until he hears the shower turn on, before he sags against the brick wall in front of him and rests his head on his hand. He takes a deep breath. The smell of his piss is the strongest thing in the night, but underneath is the smell of earthy things, grass and leaves and the old concrete of the foundation, and, on top of that, Stiles and the sheriff and Scott.

The smell of pack.

Derek wakes in the middle of the night with his hand on his dick and the smell of Stiles' arousal deep in his nose. His hips are already working, driving his cock up into his fist, the same cock Stiles had stared at with lust so strong it had overridden the anger and embarrassment that had burned across his skin.

He comes after only a few strokes. The jizz splashing across his chest reminds him of the way his piss had spattered when it hit Stiles' shirt earlier tonight. Derek groans through the last strong pulses of his orgasm, the knowledge that Peter and Isaac might hear him not enough to overwhelm his reaction to the memory of his and Stiles' combined scents.

Afterwards, Derek stares up at the black of the ceiling above him, letting himself not think, until his breathing returns to normal and the spunk on his skin has started to dry. He swabs himself off with his T-shirt, then heads to the bathroom, where he huddles under the shower until long after the water's gone cold.

He keeps up his rounds, though he stays several blocks away from the Stilinski house now, only trailing the sheriff until he makes his turn onto his street, letting werewolf hearing take over from there. Peter has decided that the only option available to them—besides sitting on their asses and waiting—is diplomacy, and so he's taken it upon himself to hang out at all the places Derek's noted as suspicious in hopes that one of the alphas might approach him.

Which means Peter, not Derek, is the one keeping an eye on Stiles' daily frappé runs. It's both a relief and another worry. Derek hates himself more every time he goes along with one of Peter's suggestions, but the problem is they always make sense. As long as Deaton is staying mum and Stiles hates Derek, Peter is the only one offering any kind of helpful advice at all. Derek's own instincts certainly aren't to be trusted.

They lead to him peeing on people, after all.

His cell phone reads 2:15 am when Derek wakes with the sudden sense that something's.... No, not wrong, though it's not exactly right, either. He listens for thirty seconds, maybe a minute, stilling his breath to make sure he hasn't missed the presence of an intruder in the loft. Peter's snoring lightly, like he did sometimes in the hospital when his nurse settled him on his back, and Isaac's taking soft, open-mouthed breaths like he always does when he's contentedly asleep.

Whatever woke him, it's not in the loft. Derek slips out of bed as quietly as possible. He drags on his jeans but doesn't bother with anything else before he climbs out a window and down to the alley below.

Stiles is standing in front of the door that leads up to the loft.

At first, Derek thinks Stiles is so still because he's gathering his nerve before he tries to break inside. To do what, Derek has no idea. Murder Derek in his sleep, maybe, though there's no sense of danger radiating from him.

Then his ears catch a purring zzzzt, a sound out of place in the middle of the alley but familiar nonetheless.

The flash of comprehension sends Derek into motion, sends him leaping across the distance between them. He lands with his chest against Stiles' back, one arm barred across Stiles' chest to hold him in place. Before all of his momentum has died away, before Stiles can react, he's sliding his right hand down Stiles' belly, down under Stiles' hand, to take a firm grip around the base of Stiles' bared cock.

"Oh holy God don't rip my dick off please!" Stiles babbles out in one long, panicked stream.

Derek can't help the little snort of breath that escapes him to puff against Stiles' neck. "I can think of one reason, and one reason only, for you to have that out, and I'm telling you right now that reason has nothing to do with piss."

Stiles lets out a long, shuddering breath. The fact that Derek is the one behind him has apparently penetrated his fear response, the certainty that he's not about to be maimed leaving him as malleable as a sleepy kitten in Derek's arms. He laughs weakly. "So I guess I now know for sure that I'm not the kind to piss myself out of fear."

Derek feels the moment Stiles' brain finally starts firing at full speed. He sucks in a breath, his whole body stiffening. "Um. Derek?"

A snarky remark is on his lips, but the cock in his hand twitches, starting to fill, and that's when the synapses in Derek's brain finally clue him in on what he's done.

Stiles clears his throat, but his voice still comes out squeaky. "So, when you said one reason only, you meant...."

Derek hadn't, not really. But he can taste Stiles' rising arousal on the back of his tongue, that musty, watery spunk scent of pre-come, can feel the rush of blood filling Stiles' cock, pushing velvet-softness out against his palm, and Derek has to force himself to let go.

"Oh, no you don't." Stiles' pulse flutters wildly, his scent spiking with enough sour fear for a second to mask the musk. Both are gone just as fast as they came—and then Stiles grabs his hand. "Oh, no, no, no. You break it, you bought it."

"I didn't break anything; that doesn't even make sense," Derek protests, but Stiles is already moving their hands—Derek's hand—back onto Stiles' fully erect penis.

Derek's almost forgotten what it's like to handle a cock not his own. No foreskin, for one thing, though the delicate skin is still silky soft. But having his hand around Stiles sends little zings of sensation into his palm, little tickling impulses into the soft underbelly of his forearm, not unlike the way it feels to drain pain from somebody, only a whole hell of a lot more pleasant.

Stiles swallows loudly. His body goes stiff, the fear stink returning. "I didn't mean— You don't have to," he says, fingers dragging against Derek's wrist once again, slow and fumbling this time like he's trying to convince himself to pull Derek's hand away.

But I want to do it.

Derek doesn't say it. He doesn't say anything at all. Instead, he resettles his hand so more of his palm is cradling Stiles' length as he strokes carefully upwards. It's too dry, awkward without the natural glide of a foreskin, but Stiles jerks in his arms and lets out a breathy, punched-in-the-gut moan. He's leaking pre-come, lots of it. Derek rubs it onto his palm, getting himself as slick as he can, then squeezes the head of Stiles' dick to milk him for more. Stiles flings his arms back, grabbing at Derek's hips, and swallows air like he can't figure out how to breathe anymore.

It occurs to him that Stiles has almost certainly never been touched like this before, not by anyone other than himself. Derek pulls back, but Stiles takes control again, slapping his own hand down and guiding Derek's back to where it was.

"Oh, come on," he groans. "You owe me after that shit you pulled last week."

Part of Derek knows Stiles' reasoning is twisted, not quite right, but it's all the excuse he needs to keep going. He tucks his chin over Stiles' shoulder so that he can see the plump cockhead pop out of his fist with every downstroke.

"God, just like that," Stiles pants out. "Derek, please, I'm so close."

He's hardly even touched Stiles yet, hasn't come anywhere near having his fill of touching him, so Derek slows things down, reaching down to cup Stiles' balls, to pluck at the tightness that speaks to just how close Stiles is. Stiles thrashes and whimpers, sputtering wordlessly. Derek closes his eyes and breathes through his mouth, senses stretching to catch the taste of pre-come on the air, to drag every hint of it into his mouth, where it will linger and tease him for at least the next day.

"So help me, Hale," Stiles whines. "If you don't make me come, I'll...."

"You'll what," Derek whispers, nudging his nose against Stiles' jawline, right where he can hear the thud of Stiles' out-of-control pulse. "What'll you do to me?"

"I don't know, I can't think like this!" Stiles smacks his lips as he swallows raggedly. "Something bad. Awful, even. You know I'm capable of it."

Derek suppresses his laugh and wraps his hand around Stiles' cock again. He sets a fast rhythm, reveling in Stiles' soft cries and the bump of his ass against Derek's own mostly hard dick. God, what it'd be like to have nothing separating them, so he could just slip between Stiles' legs, slide through his sweat dampened thighs, snug his cock up into the heat under his balls.

"Oh, God," Stiles chokes out, and then he's coming, shoving forward hard in Derek's fist. His spunk arcs out into the night; Derek watches a few pulses before he moves his hand up, catching as much of it as he can in his palm.

"Oh, holy fuck," Stiles says at last, sagging against him. Derek rubs his thumb over the head of Stiles' dick until Stiles shivers and shoves weakly at his arm. "No more, please. I am so good now, I promise you."

"Good." His own voice is cracked and dry, like he was the one gasping and begging to come. He takes a step back, then two, putting a safe distance between him and Stiles' warmth. The chill creeps in faster than it should, shocking reality back into him.

He has no fucking clue what just happened.

Stiles zips his jeans, then starts to turn around.

"You should go," Derek says. It comes out sounding more like an order than a suggestion. Which is probably a good thing, since there's no way that Stiles standing around an alley in the middle of the night while a bunch of mysterious alphas lurk around town is anywhere close to smart. "Now."

Stiles freezes. "Yeah," he says. He sucks in a shaky breath. "Yeah, of course you don't want.... Sorry. I'll just, you know, get out of your hair."

Derek watches him climb awkwardly into the Jeep, waits while it starts up and rumbles past several blocks. He should probably follow, if he were truly invested in his guardian role, but the wetness on on his hand is more disorienting than any wolfsbane, more tempting than any drug ever could be. Derek takes a long, heady sniff, then flicks his tongue out for a taste.

That's all it takes. He yanks at his fly with his clean hand, desperate to get his cock out where he can cover it with Stiles' spunk. His grip is almost too slick, too good, but he's so primed it doesn't take him any longer to come than Stiles had. He takes a few seconds to regain his breath, then lifts his hand and licks at the semen smearing his fingers one more time.

They taste good together. Right, in the way pack smells right, in the way Peter still smells wrong.

Derek wipes his hand on his jeans, then tucks his dick back into his pants and zips up. There's a janitorial closet in the basement of the loft building, and he plans on breaking into; he hopes it'll have a hose and some bleach he can use to flush away the evidence in the alley.

If not, he'll find some place that does. He's not going back to the loft tonight, anyway. Not until he's scoured everything, including himself, clean.

He expects the cops to show up, Sheriff Stilinski leading the charge to put him back into cuffs. Or maybe it'll be Scott, full of enough righteous fury to finally put Derek into the ground. Maybe Stiles will do it himself, use wolfsbane and mountain ash so he'll never have to worry about Derek's weak impulse control again.

Except...nothing happens.

Not the next morning, not the next day. Maybe Stiles needs time to work himself up to telling somebody, or to come up with a plan—but nothing keeps on happening. Derek takes a few incautious opportunities to get closer to the sheriff, close enough to see his face, study his scent and demeanor. But his jaw isn't set any more tightly than it usually is, and the ever-present black wells under his eyes haven't deepened.

He doesn't have any clue about what Derek did to his son.

Derek probes at Scott outside the hospital, but though he manages to piss Scott off, there doesn't seem to be anything more behind his response than his usual impatience for everything Derek does.

He even tries Isaac and Peter—separately, because he does have a few kernels of common sense—but while Peter lights up with curiosity, neither responds the way he'd expect if they knew.

What he doesn't see coming at all is the text that arrives a week later.

I'm sorry.

Derek just stares at it at first, uncomprehending. Then he double checks the number it came from, even though STILES is splashed across the top of the screen.

His phone buzzes again. I know an apology doesn't really cut it, but I've been wracking my brain all week, trying to come up with alternative reparations.

The second line comes in while he's still reading the first, the same rapid patter that Stiles speaks with when he's nervous. I considered turning myself in to my dad, but, uh, I figured that might be worse for you. They'll just see the underage thing, which dude, sorry.

Derek finally opens a response window. What the hell are you talking about?

Stiles takes a lot longer to text him back this time. What do you think I'm talking about? What I made you do last weekend.

Derek nearly flings his phone across the room, but then he wouldn't be able to yell at the dumbass on the other end of it. Are you seriously blaming yourself for something I did? I thought you were smarter than that.

Um. Pretty sure I was the one who put your hand where it didn't belong.

"Fuck!" Derek grinds the heels of his hands into his eyes. He's the one who should be marching down to the sheriff's office right now, because fuck if he didn't get a thrill reading that, if his cock didn't twitch with the memory of Stiles' dick in his hand.

He blows out a breath, then picks up his phone again. Let's get this straight right now. I was the one who touched you. I pissed on you. I shouldn't have done either one of those things.

Again, Stiles makes him wait. Not more than a minute, but it feels like more than enough time for a judge and jury to convene. Was that an apology? Because I gotta say, it lacks a little warmth. Unlike your urine.

Derek snorts before he can think better of his reaction. Yes, that's an apology. I'm sorry. I never should have done what I did. Either time.

That text has just been saved for all time. Humanity's future generations will know the depths of your prostration.

Derek rolls his eyes, but he's started breathing for the first time this week.

No, seriously, Stiles sends. The way you always push me around? Totally messed up, man. But, like, there's no need to apologize for getting me off. You have a get out of apologies free card on that.

Unlimited usages, by the way. For future reference.

"You little shit," Derek whispers. The whole breathing thing was nice while it lasted. He licks at his lips, but it doesn't help the dryness.

Aaaaand I've totally made things awkward. Way to go, Stilinski. Look. I was just hoping we could talk. I've been thinking about the alpha pack.

Derek rubs his thumb over the side of the phone, thinking. After what happened the last two times, he has no business being anywhere close to Stiles. But. He wants to see with his own eyes that Stiles is as blithe about what happened as his texts sound.

We can talk, he finally sends. When?

Now's good. My dad's out all day.

Derek doesn't bother to send a confirmation. Just shoves his feet into his shoes and his phone into his pocket and takes off. He wants—needs—to make up for being a grade A jackass. And that's all.

Stiles is already talking by the time Derek has one foot over the threshold. "I'm totally declaring a truce between us, okay, but I just have to get this out while I can or it's just going to fester and cause bad things to happen."

Derek drifts a little farther into the room and stuffs his hands into his pockets, waiting, wary. After a moment he realizes Stiles is holding back the tide, mouth zipped tight until Derek responds, so he nods, hoping that's enough to give Stiles the go ahead.

"Okay, so, I might have overreacted that night outside my house. About you tailing us. I get that it's your whole alpha thing, the gotta-protect-the-pack thing. And somehow Scott and I get grandfathered in on that instinct, even though we're not officially members. Am I right?"

Derek shrugs. "I guess so."

"You guess so?" Stiles waves his hand in a sloppy Z. "That doesn't exactly clarify anything there, bub."

"No, I know."

Stiles is staring at him still, the delicate curve of his eyebrows lifted in expectant curiosity. Derek isn't sure what he thought he'd find when he got here, but it wasn't for Stiles to stand in front of his TV with his arms akimbo and act like the last two encounters never happened.

"It's not always that simple to figure out," Derek finally says. He strokes the pads of his fingers over the hand-knit afghan thrown over the back of the couch. The yarn is a cheap acrylic, but it's soft from hundreds of washes, soaked in the smell of family and love. Everything in the room screams normal, bland Americana, the kind of perfect family that TV shows swear you can trust.

Derek can smell the lingering grief, though, and the gun oil that's spread itself, drop by unseen drop, throughout every inch of the house. Love and loss, trust and violence, hand-in-hand under one roof. The same dichotomy that lives in Stiles, who can flail his arms and crack jokes one minute, and promise death to those who threaten his loved ones in the next breath.

"What's not simple to figure out?" Stiles asks, voice soft. Coaxing. "Who's in the pack?"

Derek shakes his head, because he's not going to discuss that particular question, especially not with Stiles. "Scott thinks of the werewolf as a separate entity."

Stiles starts to nod, then stops in mid-lift of his chin. "Kind of. I think he thinks of it more like a condition he can't get over, like his asthma was. Sometimes it doesn't bother him, if he does all the the right stuff, but he never knows when it's going to bite him in the ass."

Derek frowns. "He can eat all the chicken soup he wants, but nothing's going to help until he accepts that this is who he is now. All of him."

Stiles sighs and drops his arms. "He's getting better at it. But can you blame him? He didn't choose the bite, Derek."

"I know that!" And now he's thinking of Peter, which never leads anywhere good. He squeezes his fists, once, twice, then makes himself stretch his fingers out long. "The point is, I've always been a werewolf. I had to learn how to control the shift like all of us do, but I also had to learn how to walk and swim and ride a bike. It's just what you do."

Stiles nods. "Except for the part where there's screaming pain involved in the shift."

Derek smiles slightly. "Yeah, except for that." He looks down at his hand, where he's managed to twist a few pieces of the afghan's fringe tight around his index finger. He works on carefully unwinding it while he talks. "When I became alpha, it felt like having to learn how to control the shift all over again. The power's all there. The instincts are all there. I'm just not sure what's what all the time."

Stiles lets out a long, slow breath. "So is that why you've been running around with an extra helping of asshole these past few months?"

Derek glares at him. "You know a lot about your dad's job, right?"

Stiles rolls his eyes, which is answer enough.

"So how would you do if you suddenly became sheriff tomorrow? You could handle it since you've had your nose in his back pocket since you were little, right? Only, if you had any questions about the job, you couldn't ask anybody. And the only resources available were all the cop shows that have ever been on TV, plus a few procedure manuals leftover from the sixties."

Stiles stares at him.

Derek huffs and paces a couple steps towards the dining room table. "Never mind. It was a stupid analogy. You'd probably have everything running smoother than it ever has within a day."

"No." Stiles' footsteps are soft as he comes up behind Derek. Barefoot, that's all, not an attempt to be stealthy, to sneak up on him while he's got his back turned.

"No, are you kidding?" Stiles scoffs. "I'd be terrible. I never pay attention to any of the boring crap he talks about, and that's like seventy percent of his job. I'd totally get distracted by the cool stuff, and forget about ordering bullets and toilet paper. Plus, you think anybody there would respect me? Come on. I can't even get Scott to listen to me most of the time."

Derek snorts, turning just enough that he can get eyes on Stiles. "I don't think that says anything about you, actually."

"Hey, no picking on Scott while he's not around to give adorable puppy face in defense." Stiles holds up a hand. "That was not a werewolf joke, I swear."

Derek rolls his eyes. "Yeah, I got that, thanks."

Stiles' lips quirk. Derek's expecting a comeback, something about his intelligence or a real dog joke, but then Stiles' eyes narrow.

"Scott says you two have been keeping an eye on his mom when she goes into work." The way Stiles says it makes it sound like more than a statement. Like he's laying a trap of some kind, but Derek has no clue what response will spring it, so he just nods.

"And when she comes home," he adds after a moment, because if this is a game of truth or dare, he's not going to lose by default. "Those are her predictable movements, even with her working a swing shift. I can't be there every time she goes somewhere, but...."

"But kidnappers go after routines," Stiles says, like the cop kid that he is.

Derek shakes his head. "Not just kidnappers."

"Ugh." Stiles scrubs his hands over his face. It fluffs up the top of his hair. "You haven't been following me this week though, right?"

Derek sighs. "I've been keeping an eye on your dad still. I just haven't come all the way here. I've had...other ways of keeping track of you the past couple weeks."

Stiles mouth tightens at that. "I'm not going to think about that right now." He blows out a breath. "I have something to show you. Come on."

Stiles flings himself down at his desk, hand sweeping his mouse into motion even before Derek is all the way into the room. Derek watches him for a moment, takes in the way his eyelids dip over his darting eyes, his eyelashes brush against his cheeks, before he forces himself to look away, to focus on something—anything—else.

The room is pretty much the same as when Derek was holed up here for almost a day, hiding out from the law, unknowingly wasting the last few hours of sweet ignorance before finding out what Peter had become. The furniture is arranged the same; the same pre-teen artwork decorates the walls. It's a little messier—laundry hamper full almost to the point of overflowing, an open bag of SunChips on the floor—but that just reinforces the fact that this is the bedroom of a teenager. A kid in the middle of summer vacation, enjoying the freedom to be a little lazy with his cleaning habits.

"Okay," Stiles says, and then a staticky voice blares out from the computer speakers, the words garbled and unrecognizable to Derek's ears. "Shit, sorry!"

Derek drifts closer once Stiles has turned the volume down, curious now that his ears aren't being mauled.

"This is a web broadcast for all the Beacon Hills first responder radio traffic," Stiles says, gesturing to the radio bar displayed in the web browser, the red line inside bobbing up and down in time with the voice on the speakers. "Like a police scanner, only I don't have to have special equipment to listen in."

"That's legal?"

Stiles snorts. "Like it'd stop me if it wasn't? But yeah, it is. Police scanners are bread and butter for reporters."

He minimizes the window, then brings up a spreadsheet with several columns, most crowded with notes that make no sense to Derek. "I don't let myself listen in all that often, because I'd pretty much never stop. But when I do, I jot down anything that sounds weird. I mean, weird beyond stuff like the time old Mrs. Lehenbauer's sauerkraut jars exploded and freaked out the neighbors so bad they demanded SWAT go in."

He raises his eyebrows, like that's supposed to mean something, then rolls his eyes when Derek doesn't get it. "Beacon Hills doesn't have a SWAT," he explains. "Just, you know. My dad."

Which is obviously the reason Stiles listens in the first place. "He's okay with this?" Derek asks, because while he doesn't know the sheriff beyond a few uncomfortable confrontations and what he's overheard of the man's conversations from a distance, Derek doesn't think he'd be okay with his son anxiously keeping tabs on him, waiting to hear disaster fall.

"With me listening to the scanner? Oh, hell no." Stiles sighs. "After my mom died, I didn't want to let him out of my sight, you know? I begged him to get me a scanner, a real one, but he refused. And I get why, but." Stiles shakes his head. "It took me a few years before I figured out this was on the internet. He has no idea."

Derek nods. He's surprised that Stiles doesn't press him for a promise not to tell, but maybe things are too messed up between them right now. He has no idea what to say, himself, whether a simple I understand would be appreciated or if it'd just earn him Stiles' scorn all over again.

"You said you were keeping track of weird stuff?" he asks, ignoring everything else. "Werewolf weird?"

"Well, that was the idea," Stiles says, waving at the screen. "But so far everything has turned out to be just regular weird. No supernatural explanation necessary."

Derek nods. "So you're showing me this want me to use it?"

Stiles snorts. "Nah, man. I wouldn't want you to hurt yourself. This is for me, because I don't have super-duper ears and a nose." He taps his fingers on the desk, then looks up at Derek, eyes hard, no trace of amusement left on his face. "I can't have anything happen to my dad, Derek. I can't."

Derek sighs. Laura was his world for six years. It turns out, in the end, it doesn't matter at all how much you hope and pray against the inevitable happening, but there's no way Derek's going to say that to Stiles.

"You could tell him what's going on," Derek offers instead. "That way he at least knows how to protect himself."

He doesn't need to be a werewolf to read the horror flooding Stiles' face. "No," Stiles spits. "I can't. He'd get right in the middle of everything if he finds out, trying to protect me."

The sheriff would, of course, both because it's his job and because of his ingrained need as a parent, but Derek can't make himself argue against Stiles. Not when it was Laura's job to protect Derek, too, and he'd give anything to reverse their positions now.

"I'll do what I can," Derek says. "I know that doesn't mean anything to you, but I don't know what else to say."

"It means something. I'm just scared it won't mean enough."

Me too. He stares down at the desk in front of him, at Stiles' hands fidgeting on his lap, and wonders exactly what the fuck he's supposed to do now.

Stiles huffs out a heavy breath. "Look. I get that you're doing what you can, and that you're going to keep doing it no matter how freaked out I get. So I thought, maybe, you wouldn't mind if I sent you the occasional heads up. You know, if I hear anything weird-weird."

"So I can check it out, you mean?"

Stiles nods fervently. "Yeah. Or, well, I guess it doesn't have to be you. I just figured since you've made it your alpha mission and all, it would be."

"Most likely, yeah," Derek says, gaze flicking over Stiles' face as he thinks it over. He's not stupid enough to have missed that Stiles doesn't always know what 'weird-weird' is, or that he could easily abuse such an agreement by sending Derek out every time the sheriff is in danger of stubbing a toe. He doesn't think Stiles would, though, not unless his dad was in serious danger—and in that case, Derek would be more than willing to help, werewolf matter or no.

"If you send me after him because he's indulging in a burger craving," Derek says, "I'm gonna buy him an extra order of fries and tell him it's a thank you for all the hard work he does."

"That wouldn't make him think you're suspicious at all," Stiles snarks, but there's a relieved grin breaking over his face, one that settles something in Derek. Like hot soup in his stomach on a cold day. "But no, you don't have to worry. I won't cry wolf, I swear."

Derek rolls his eyes. "I should go. Call me if anything happens."

"Wait, not yet." Stiles flails his hand out, like he intends to physically stop Derek from leaving if he has to—even though Derek hasn't moved yet. "I mean. I really need to talk about, uh, what happened in the alley."

Derek jerks his head up and down, forcing himself to nod in agreement. What he did in the alley is about the last thing he wants to talk about that doesn't include the names Hale or Argent in the conversation, but he realizes he has to. That Stiles has to, and that's the important part.

"I've been up and down all week," Stiles says, gaze focused on a point over Derek's shoulder like he's reading the words off a poster on his wall. "I'd remember what it felt like one second and be on the top of the world, and the next I'd remember what I said, how I threatened you when you wanted to stop, and I'd almost throw up."

"I told you, you didn't make me do anything, Stiles." Derek lets red bleed into his eyes. "You couldn't. Alpha werewolf, remember?"

"Yeah, no, that's not how consent works. Believe me, even if I hadn't read a million blogs on the topic, I'd still have all my dad's lectures to fall back on."

Derek frowns. "Don't worry about your part in what happened. I was the one who shouldn't have done what I did."

Stiles huffs. "Okay, I can tell we're just going around in circles here, so here's a list of what is not okay to do to Stiles. Shoving me into walls? Not okay. Although, you were actually kind of gentle compared to everyone else who's done it, so I'll give you a pass as long as you don't do it again."

Derek raises an eyebrow, wondering who else has been shoving Stiles around. Gerard Argent, undoubtedly. Maybe some of the others in his pack; Derek hasn't exactly ever encouraged them to be gentle in what they do, and Stiles has a way of provoking people.

"God, what is with you people and walls?" Stiles makes a sharp slashing motion in the air. "Moving along. Shoving my face into things? Especially hard things like my steering wheel? Not okay."

"Yeah. Got it." He clears his throat, looking past Stiles, towards the extra chair in the room, where Stiles's friend had sat, watching Derek's striptease, while Stiles smirked and manipulated them both. "Just, next time you plan on pimping me out, give me a heads up beforehand."

"Jesus," Stiles says. Derek looks back to see him pressing his palms into his cheeks, like some grown-up version of the Home Alone kid. "No wonder Dad gave me all those lectures," he mutters.

"It just pissed me off because it came out of nowhere," Derek says, frowning, because Stiles is acting like he just realized he'd been torturing kittens or something. "It's not like I haven't used my body to get what I want before."

"And it just gets better and better." Stiles drops his head down, resting his forehead in his hands for a few seconds before he looks up again. "Look. I don't like it when you shove me around, okay? And the whole grabbing my dick out of nowhere definitely goes on the bad touch list. Can we agree on that?"

Derek hesitates. "I'm still going to shove you when you're being stupid. Like with the kanima, at the pool."

"Okay, yes, you get to have a life-saving exemption on the shoving." Stiles rolls his eyes. Then he takes a deep breath and makes an obvious effort to meet Derek's eyes. "Now you. Be honest with me. Yes or no, did you want to jack me off last weekend?"

Blood races into his face. Derek wants to run away, dive for the window or underneath the bed, be anywhere but here, where he has to give Stiles an answer.

He doesn't run. It's his fault that they're in this mess, and for once it's something he can fix. At least to a certain degree.

"Yes," he says, barely audible. "I did it because I wanted to."

Stiles shoulders sag. "Oh, thank God." A second later the smell of his arousal floods through the room, almost as strong as it was in the alley. He peers up under those Bambi eyelashes, coy and innocent and far too tempting. "Do you want to do it again?"

Derek chokes.

Stiles pushes up out of his desk chair and steps closer to Derek. He doesn't try to do anything, but just that narrowing of the distance between them is enough to stir Derek's dick.

"I could touch you this time." Stiles licks his lips, gaze flicking towards Derek's crotch. "I really want to touch you, Derek. If that's something you want, too."

"Stiles, we can't." It's not the right response, he knows that; Stiles doesn't listen to can'ts. Only wants and don't wants. But Derek's so badly thrown by, well, everything, that he's slipped into the natural honesty that's a result of growing up in a werewolf family. "Did you forget the part where you're sixteen?"

"Seventeen, actually." His smile is tight. "Yep, surprise! Don't apologize, I'm sure your card just got lost in the mail."

"It doesn't make any difference," Derek says, ignoring the urge to follow Stiles down the rabbit hole and ask him when exactly his birthday was, why Scott never mentioned it, why he never saw Stiles celebrate. "You're still underage."

"Freakin' California," Stiles mutters. "You know in most of Europe it's sixteen or less? Age is just a number, dude."

"Stiles, you just gave me a lecture on consent! How do you not get that it matters?"

"Sorry." Stiles grimaces and takes a step back. "I wasn't trying to pressure you, I swear. I just thought you wanted to but you were worried about the law. Which, I get, duh. I don't want you to end up in jail either. But it's not like you don't break the law all the time. I mean, you've killed people!"

Derek pinches the bridge of his nose. "To be fair, it's not like it's ever taken."

Stiles snorts. "Oh, man, I shouldn't laugh at that, but it's kind of hysterical how much you actually fail at murdering people."

Derek shrugs. The jury's still out on Peter, but the moment Jackson dragged himself up off the cold concrete of the warehouse floor and opened his eyes to reveal electric blue was the best thing to happen to Derek since before he turned fifteen. He doesn't mind Stiles' amusement though, because it's given him a breather, a chance to back off and find his common sense.

Not that he's ever had all that much of it to find.

"It's not about the law," he says, though hell no does he want to go to jail because of Stiles' underage ass. "I know you don't think so, but you're just too young."

Stiles' mouth twists cruelly. "Oh, that is such bullshit. Practically everyone in my class is having sex. You're not special, Derek. You're not going to warp me because you're a few years older."

It'd be so easy to listen. To pretend that Stiles' logic was indisputable fact. But Derek can still see Erica's face after he pushed her away, the way she tried harder, turned more cruel after he led her on and then rejected her.

Maybe she'd still be part of his pack if he'd done it some other way.

"It does, though." His voice sounds tired. He is tired, in every way. "That difference in experience fucks you up, Stiles. You think you know what you're getting into, that it's just sex, but when you're fifteen you have no idea how to handle the emotions involved."

Stiles' eyes narrow. "I'm seventeen," he says flatly.

Derek's gut goes cold.

"Why do you keep—" Stiles starts, but Derek cuts him off, shuts his scarily brilliant mouth by shoving his own against it.

He's not turned on at all, his intestines still full of ice, crampingly cold, but he kisses Stiles anyway. Stiles flails at first, off balance and mouth uncoordinated, but Derek kisses him until his hands come up to fist in Derek's shirt and his mouth opens, tongue chasing Derek's, jaw stretching wide with need. Derek kisses him until he's almost certain Stiles has forgotten Derek's stupid slip, until his gut has warmed again and the fire has crept lower, into his groin. Then he lets himself back off, just a bit, enough that he can run his mouth down the impossible length of Stiles' neck, nipping with blunt teeth until Stiles is moaning and clutching at Derek's hair.

All his arguments are still true. They just taste like old ink on mildewed paper compared to Stiles' skin.

"What do you want?" he whispers against Stiles' ear. "What do you want me to do to you?"

"Oh, God, everything," Stiles croaks. He drops his hands to Derek's shoulders and opens eyes already glazed with lust. "How do I even— No, wait." He tugs at the hem of Derek's T-shirt. "I want to see you. Please."

It's not a hard request to fulfill. Before Derek even has the shirt all the way up to his shoulders, Stiles' hands are there, fingertips skimming up his sides, over his ribs, drifting down to his belly. Goosebumps spring up on Derek's forearms, matching the chill on his back as he tosses his shirt to the side.

"How much do you have to work out to get this sculpted?" Stiles says, scraping his nails against the sawtooth lines of Derek's serratus muscles. "I mean, you can lift, like, a bus, right? Push ups have to be nothing more than a sneeze for you."

Derek shrugs. "Don't think about it in human terms. The physics doesn't really work the same."

"I knew hotness was part of the whole supernatural package," Stiles says. He looks up from Derek's chest with a speculative glint to his eyes that Derek doesn't trust.

"What?" Derek asks—and then Stiles bobs his head downward, fixing his open mouth right over Derek's areola and flicking the tip of his tongue against his nipple. Derek hisses, clenching his hands into fists.

Stiles lifts his head. "Was that okay?"

"Yes," Derek growls, pulling him back in for a harsh, biting kiss. "Anything you want is okay. I mean it."

"Yeah?" Stiles doesn't wait for confirmation. He splays his hands against Derek's waist, then moves them down, pausing at Derek's belt buckle for a long second, before he finally runs his fingers over the front of Derek's jeans, tracing far too lightly over Derek's erection to give him any satisfaction. He pulls his hand back, but his gaze is locked in place, focused on where Derek's cock is clearly outlined under the denim. "I want you to show it to me again. I want to see what you look like hard."

Derek sucks in a breath. He nods once, then squats down to snatch at his shoestrings, tugging until they're loose enough that he can stand and toe off his shoes and socks before moving on to unbuckle his belt. Stiles makes a soft, wanting noise when Derek opens his fly, but Derek doesn't pause, concentrating instead on stripping his jeans down and off.

He tucks his thumbs under the waistband of his boxer-briefs—then waits, watching Stiles' face. His cheeks are flushed, his lips wet and shiny from where he keeps licking them as he breathes open-mouthed, utterly rapt. Derek rolls the waistband down a few inches, just far enough that the head of his dick pops out.

"Oh, God," Stiles says. "You're a teaser, aren't you? You're teasing me."

Derek snorts. "And that's bad, how?"

"Have you met me?" Stiles whips his hands back and forth between the two of them. "You have no idea how close I am to just stripping those off of you myself."

Derek lifts his hands away, raising them into the air. "What's stopping you?"

Stiles immediately drops to his knees. Derek has to firm his legs to steady himself, but there's no way to steady his breathing when Stiles looks up at him and slips his fingers under the rolled band of elastic. Derek gives a small nod of encouragement. Stiles drops his gaze, licks his lips, and then pulls.

Derek's cock springs free, coming a hairbreadth short of smacking against Stiles' face.

"Pushy," Stiles says, sending puffs of air right over the head. "Why am I not surprised?"

"You have no idea." Derek would love to be pushy right now, would love to just push forward and shove his cock right into Stiles' mouth and see how much Stiles could take on the first go. He clenches his fists again, holds them tight until the urge to howl settles. "You just gonna stare at it all day, or you going to do something with it?"

"Just for that, I might not." Stiles drags Derek's underwear all the way down, then stands up, setting his hand in the middle of Derek's chest, urging him backwards. "Lie down?"

Derek turns, earning himself an appreciative yeaaaaah and another ghost touch over the swell of his ass. The bed is half-made, blankets shoved back at a welcoming diagonal, left like they must have been when Stiles' climbed out from under them this morning. He sets a knee on the mattress and stretches forward to shove the covers the rest of the way off the bed, spreading his legs a bit so Stiles can have a nice, long look. Then he settles in on his back, hands behind his head and one knee up, his cock rising and falling in a slow, hungry beat.

"I wish I could take a picture of you," Stiles says. "I mean, I'm not going to. Obviously, because that would just be asking for trouble. But Jesus, Derek. What are you even?"

"Werewolf," Derek says, flashing a fang. Stiles heartbeat kicks up another notch, but there's no evidence of fear anywhere about him. Derek lets his raised knee fall to the side, displaying himself further. "You gonna get out your sketchbook, or...?"

"Yeah, hang on. I'm just gonna—" Stiles gestures at himself, cheeks pinking with embarrassment rather than arousal, and then he pulls his shirt over his head like he's expecting to have to duck under a freezing cold shower right afterwards. He glances over at Derek again, not quite managing eye contact, then takes a deep breath and pushes down his shorts and underwear in one quick, over-and-done-with move.

"You're gorgeous," Derek rasps. The words aren't like him—or they aren't like the man he is now—but he still remembers the way Kate had smirked that first time he shoved his pants down, the way she'd laughed and said what are you worried about, you big baby, are you really that scared to show me what you've got?

Stiles blushes even more. "I'm not— You don't have to do that."

Derek pushes himself up, frowning. "Do what? Tell you the truth? Isn't that what you're always mad at me for, not telling you what I know?"

"No! I mean, yes, but." Stiles shakes his head. "You don't have to pull out the seduction techniques for me."

"I wasn't planning on it, considering you were the one who seduced me." He sweeps his gaze over Stiles' body, trying to be obvious about it, letting himself dwell on the thick swath of hair arrowing down Stiles' flat belly, on the tight pink nipples rising up on top of surprisingly defined pecs. Stiles' thighs are wide and firm, especially near the top, and his cock is deliciously thick, curving up towards his belly button despite his current uncertainty. "You think I'd be here, with you, in your father's house, if I didn't think it was worth the risk? You think I'd be hard for you if I didn't like the way you look?"

Stiles swallows, gaze flitting around the room before he finally meets Derek's eyes. "I think you said not five minutes ago that you've used your body to get what you want."

"Christ." His first instinct is to jump out of bed and grab his clothes. His second is to lecture Stiles, to tell him this is exactly why this is a bad idea, and then praise him for not being so stupid as to trust Derek just because they're naked together. "Stiles—"

Stiles blows out a breath. "That wasn't fair. Sorry."

Derek swallows, then shakes his head. "It was fair."

"No, really, it wasn't. I mean, what would you have to gain, anyway? You've already got my help, if you just ask for it. You talk to Scott these days as much as I do." Stiles barks out a sad laugh. "It's just hard for me to believe you're here at all."

"Maybe I'm trying to get to your dad through you," he says before he thinks about it. His dick is going soft, so he grabs Stiles' pillow and tucks it over his lap, more because he doesn't want Stiles to make assumptions than out of any sense of modesty. "Maybe I'm trying to fuck you up for the hell of it, just because I'm that twisted."

Stiles' breathing is harsh, unsteady, and not in a good way. His erection has drooped as well, though it's still a plump semi. Teenage hormones have no truck with reason. "Yeah, you weren't kidding when you said you weren't bothering with seduction techniques."

"I shouldn't be here," Derek says. The truth of it makes his mouth taste sour, like night-stale breath and the shame of sneaking back into the apartment he'd shared with Laura, making a halfhearted attempt to keep from waking her up. The only reason he doesn't take off now is ridiculous, really: he can't stand the way he knows Stiles would watch him, eyes full of hurt and betrayal, while he took the time to dress.

And he's not about to run from the sheriff's house naked during the middle of the day.

"You don't have to stay," Stiles says. Derek can tell he's trying to be as emotionless as possible, offer him the out without manipulating him, but he'd sound brittle even to a human's ears. "Not if you don't want to."

"What if I do?" Derek asks. He's not sure where the words come from. Maybe the same place that made him pull his dick out of his pants the first time, the place inside that's deep and dark and utterly wrong. "What if I want you to get down here on the bed with me so I can taste every inch of your skin, so I can bite that little spot right under your jaw, the one that made you moan so hard before? What if I want to stretch you out, spread you like a buffet so I can have you again and again, make you come so many times we're both filthy with it? What if I want—"

Stiles launches himself at Derek. The back of Derek's head smacks against the bookshelf, and their teeth clack together, Stiles' momentum carrying his mouth into Derek's too fast, too hard. None of that matters. Stiles' skin is just as hot as he'd imagined. He's strong, too, for a human, and he writhes against Derek with a passion that makes all of the horrible oughts and maybes in his head disappear. They squirm together, never stopping their kisses, until the pillow Derek had covered his lap with has been kicked off the bed, leaving them completely naked, stretched out against each other.

"I want all of that too," Stiles breathes against his lips. He's on top, thighs nestled between Derek's so their cocks, both fully hard again, brush together with every breath. "I want so much I don't know what to do."

Derek stretches an arm overhead, fumbling for the bottle of lotion he's seen next to Stiles' bed every time he's been in the room. Stiles figures out what he's doing and stretches as well, in the process shoving his body even more firmly against Derek's. Derek closes his eyes, reveling in being surrounded by Stiles, Stiles everywhere, and only opens them again when he feels the first splash of lotion against his palm. Stiles squirts out a few more pumpfuls, then moves back, settling back on top of Derek like he was before.

"Is this okay?" Derek asks as he strokes most of the lotion along Stiles' length before smoothing the rest over himself. He doesn't really need it, but he likes the way it feels, likes the slickness between them as he wraps his hand around both of their cocks. There isn't much room for him to move, but the cramped space just makes it better, tighter and more heated. Safer.

"Stiles?" he asks again. He's not surprised he didn't get an answer the first time, not with the way Stiles has his forehead shoved into Derek's shoulder, mouth generating a windstorm against his skin. "Is this okay? Do you want me to do something else?"

"Faster," Stiles gasps. "Please, Derek. I need it faster."

He can't speed his hand much, not without punching Stiles in the gut, but he can move his hips. After the first few thrusts, Stiles catches on and starts grinding down into him, shoving his cock through Derek's fist. It's so good Derek's not sure how long he's going to last himself, especially when he imagines Stiles' cock sliding into him, how Stiles' face would look as he felt that heat around himself for the first time, how determined he'd be to find the perfect rhythm for his thrusts.

"Derek, God, oh, God, fuck," Stiles chants, and then he's coming, shooting all over Derek's chest, spilling down over his hand and mixing with the lotion. He pants and whines a little; Derek should probably let up, gentle him down, but he can't, not when he's this close, himself.

Stiles bites him. Right on the neck.

Derek comes with a growl that's loud enough to shake the walls.

He's still easing back down from his orgasm, blissed out and unfocused, when Stiles starts laughing.

"That was amazing," he says, rubbing his cheek against Derek's. "You're amazing."

Derek would protest, but Stiles kisses the words right out of his mouth. He needs to say something, make sure Stiles realizes their little tête-à-tête was an indiscretion on his part, that it needs to be a one-time thing—but he has to catch his breath first.

"Oh, don't give me that look," Stiles says, still grinning. "I know you thought it was awesome. I was right there when you came, remember?"

Derek grunts, because yes, it was awesome, and it'd be dumb to try to convince Stiles otherwise.

"Oh, my God, you're totally one of those guys who passes out right afterwards, right?" Stiles clambers off the bed, then grabs onto Derek's hands and pulls with a surprising amount of strength. "Engage some of that werewolf rejuvenation factor, man. I am so not done with you yet."

'Not done' apparently means showering together. Stiles grins as he backs Derek under the hot downpour and then dumps a huge dollop of shower gel into Derek's palm before filling his own. Most of it goes to waste as they run their hands over each other's bodies, but he's pretty sure getting clean isn't the real point. Stiles is clearly enjoying himself, spending ages feeling up Derek's chest before he finally moves on. Derek doesn't really have much choice other than to return his attention, skating his hands over the slim lines of Stiles' torso, admiring the cut of his arms, the slope of his neck.

"Wait, hang on, stay right there," Stiles says, backing up a step or so. He giggles a little, then firms his expression into a comically serious one as he looks at Derek, sharpening his voice into something that sounds more like a bad imitation of R. Lee Ermey's than Derek's own. "I told you, don't push me again."

It's not that much of a surprise when Stiles grabs his soft dick, snickering as he aims it at the drain between Derek's feet. The stream of piss barely catches Derek's toes, some pooling under the arches before it's washed down and away. Derek can smell it, though, a hot, salty musk that's distinctly Stiles, and his cock starts to fill again.

"Didn't anyone ever tell you pee goes in the pot?" he says, pulling Stiles in before he can answer. They jack each other off, lazy kisses turning to gasps and squawking curses when the shower turns cold before they're quite done.

Stiles goes quiet while they're dressing. Derek watches, his own muscles tightening as Stiles' gaze becomes distant, unseeing, as his eyes flit back and forth with thought. Each squeak of the stairs beneath their feet as they descend to the main floor is horror-movie loud; the passage from the dining room to the front door is a gauntlet the length of a football field.

Derek waits with his hands in his pockets as Stiles fiddles with the doorknob, clearly not ready to put an end to the day. He dreads whatever words are about to come out of Stiles' mouth. He shouldn't have let himself be swept away by Stiles' excitement, should have put a stop to it long before they got into the shower, but as always, he was too weak. So very weak.

All Stiles says, though, is, "My dad should be getting off his shift soon."

Derek nods. "I know."

Stiles lets out a heavy sigh. "You're still going to watch out for him?"

"Yes," Derek says firmly. Then he sighs. He's already told Stiles he doesn't really know what he's doing as an alpha. "It's all I can figure out to do right now. But I'm open to suggestions."

Stiles' gaze leaps to his. Then his mouth twitches. "Oh, I have suggestions for you, all right."

Derek rolls his eyes and reaches for the doorknob. Stiles intercepts his hand before it gets there.

"I'm kidding, okay? Yeesh." Stiles twists his wrist and they wind up palm to palm, loosely grasping each other's hand. "I don't have any other ideas right now. But I'll definitely think about it. It'd help if you tell me everything you know about the alpha pack."

"I don't know much more than you do."

Stiles frowns, but thoughtfully, rather than like he's displeased with Derek. "I bet you do, though. You just don't realize it because it's part of werewolf culture and you don't think about it, or it's stuff buried in childhood memories. We should take some time to talk things through, get everything mapped out."

The idea of sitting down and digging through his past with Stiles makes his forgotten lunch reawaken. But. "If you think it'll help," Derek says, and Stiles grins.

He shouldn't lean in; this is not a romance. It's a sexual relationship with an underage kid, fucked up in all kinds of ways. Hell, it's not even a relationship. But Derek wants, so much so it reminds him of the compulsion that tingles under his skin during a full moon.

Stiles' lips are as lush and welcoming as he remembers. Derek nips the bottom one between his teeth, then pulls back, reminding himself he's on a schedule.

"Tomorrow, then?" Stiles asks, his tone far too hopeful for someone just planning on hours of research and brainstorming. Derek should shut him down now.

"Call me first," he says instead. "I'll need to get Peter out of the loft."

"So on board with that plan," Stiles says, and finally opens the door.

Peter looks up when Derek walks in the door, tipping his head to the side like he does when he's just latched onto a thought that interests him.

"You know," he says as Derek walks to the fridge. "If you're that interested in hiding what you're getting up to with Stiles, you should probably think twice about drenching yourself in his body wash."

Derek drowns the things he could say to that in a long wash of orange juice taken straight from the jug; all the ways he knows of covering up a lover's scent from entire family of werewolf noses, all the blame he could lay at Peter's feet for not seeing what was going on right under his too-smart eyes. He swipes the back of his hand over his mouth and caps the jug, setting it on the shelf right where it'll piss Peter off the most when he goes to fix breakfast in the morning.

"I want you to do a full sweep of town tomorrow," he says instead. "If you don't find anything, you can start casing the rest of the county."

Peter's eyebrow is full of suspicion, the slight curl of his lips is too knowing, but Derek finds he really doesn't care. If he had, he would have done exactly what he had last Saturday, scrubbed himself clean until every bit of Stiles was gone.

"As you command, my liege," Peter drawls.

It's good enough. Annoying, but good enough. Derek ignores whatever other probing looks Peter happens to be sending his way, and climbs the stairs to his room. He flops face down onto his bed, shoving his face into his pillow. He just lies there for a moment, but then he brings his hand up, the one carrying the strongest traces of Stiles on it, and stuffs it under his nose.

Stiles is all flushed cheeks and giddy smirks when he charges through Derek's door the next afternoon—until he sees Isaac sitting on the couch. He shoots Derek a betrayed look, then stumbles through an awkward exchange of greetings with Isaac before following Derek up to his room.

"I, uh, thought we were going to be alone," he says, letting his backpack drop to the floor with a heavy thunk.

Derek shrugs. "I'm not going to kick Isaac out of his own home."

Truthfully, his motives aren't so pure. It would have been easy enough to send Isaac with Peter, or funnel him off to Scott's, but he likes the idea of having a chaperone around. He and Stiles can't fall into anything this way, not without him having to make the decision to chase Isaac off first.

Besides. If Stiles' questions cut too deeply, he can always say he doesn't want Isaac to hear. It'd be the truth, anyway.

Stiles sighs. "At least you don't have that compunction with Peter."

"Yeah, well, I actually like Isaac." Derek picks up the backpack, unzipping it just enough so he can see the ends of several books. "What'd you bring?"

"Give me that," Stiles says, grabbing it by the straps. He pulls out a notebook and pen before dropping the rest of the books back down on the floor. "I brought some stuff to run by you, but I think it's all folktale bullshit anyway. Low priority."

Then he flops onto Derek's bed, stomach down, and uncaps the pen with his teeth. "We need to work out what we know," he says, opening the notebook. "Starting with everything you've ever heard or suspected about the alpha pack. Alpha packs? Is it just the one, or are they like an actual thing that happens all the time?"

"Just the one, I think," Derek murmurs absentmindedly. Stiles' long legs are slightly spread, leaving the perfect amount of room for Derek to crawl in between and many things. Run his hands over the curves of Stiles' ass, press the pads of his fingertips to the soft mound in the vee of his jeans where his balls are nestled in the denim, do the best he can to fit his jaw around one buttcheek. Most of all he wants to shove his nose into those private places, suck down the rich scent that's started to haunt him almost as strongly as any of his other ghosts.

"And? Is it like, tradition that there's an alpha pack? Or is—" Stiles cuts off as his heartbeat skips. He's smelled aroused since Derek let him into the loft, but it sharpens, making Derek look up.

Stiles is smirking back at him. "I admire your focus," he says, drawing up one leg in what looks like a clear invitation. "But I think you've gotten off topic."

Derek opens his mouth to remind him that Isaac can hear him, but then he realizes that Stiles didn't really say anything incriminating, that whatever rebuke Derek might come up with would be what made their conversation sound strange.

Stiles, the little shit, knows that. Derek's sure of it.

"What did you want to know?" he asks mildly, like Stiles didn't just catch him fantasizing about his ass. "I want to make sure we fully exhaust the topic before we move on to anything else. Even if it takes all afternoon."

And that's stupid. He shouldn't bait Stiles with the idea that there might be something more between them after they get done discussing the alphas. Derek's only excuse is but he started it, which makes him want to kick himself in the face as soon as the thought enters his head.

Stiles narrows his eyes. "Well, I don't want to make things too hard for you. So why don't we start with simple yes-no questions. Think you can handle that?"

Derek glares, because wow, can Stiles be condescending sometimes, but he lifts his chin in agreement.

"Have you met the alpha pack before?"

Derek shakes his head.

"Right." Stiles bites his lip. The fact that he does it because he's thinking, because he's already forgotten about taunting Derek and has gone back to concentrating on helping him out, makes it even more attractive. "So how big of a pack are we talking? At least two alphas?"

"At least three to make a pack," Derek says. A real pack, anyway, one that'd be recognized by other packs as such. Not like he and Laura had been. Not like he was in danger of becoming now. "It's not just the idea of strength in physical numbers. It's a bond that empowers everyone in the pack, and that doesn't happen until a third joins."

"Huh. I guess that explains why you and Peter both had such hard-ons for Scott." Stiles' distant gaze snaps back, like he's suddenly realized what he said, and he makes a ew face at Derek. "Pretend I didn't say that."

"Forgotten and gone," Derek agrees, because no.

"Great! Moving on." Stiles makes what looks like check marks on his paper, though Derek can't figure out what he's checking off. "Is there a maximum? Like, not just the alpha pack, but for any pack?"

Derek frowns. "Not in theory, I don't think. But usually people grow up, split off, start their own packs. It's kind of self-regulating."

"Which explains why there aren't like, packs the size of L.A. out there." Stiles taps the butt of his pen against his notebook. "I'm assuming, of course."

"You're forgetting about the hunters. They'd never let anything like that happen, even if we wanted it to."

"Can't forget about them," Stiles mutters, and that's when Derek's patience snaps.

"Why are you doing this?" he asks, huffily enough that Stiles rolls onto his side and stares up at him with wide eyes.

"Um, because you have no idea what's going on with anything?" He circles his hand in front of him, like he's trying to encompass all of Beacon Hills. Or perhaps just the mess that is Derek's life. Then he rears back, mouth opening and closing soundlessly a couple times. "Wait. You think this is because—" His eyes flick towards the staircase that leads to the main room below. "Because of yesterday. You think I'm suddenly following you around like a starving puppy, trying to get your attention through research."

Derek rolls his eyes. Of course that's where he went. Give Stiles a speedbump, he'll turn it into a cliff to leap off of. "No. I just don't get why you're suddenly okay with all of this, when two weeks ago you were so angry at me you were ready to hand me over to Chris Argent with a death sentence around my neck."

Stiles looks slapped. "I wouldn't have done that."

Derek shrugs, not bothering to say that he'd known that at the time, that he'd been able to hear the lie that negated the threat. It doesn't change the fact that Stiles said it.

"I wouldn't have."

Derek raises an eyebrow. "Even to protect your dad?"

Stiles laughs, a short, bitter sound. "Oh, I get it. You think you can bring him up whenever you want me to change my mind about something, but it doesn't work that way. I know you'd never hurt him. Not intentionally. Not while he's still the sheriff. It'd bring too much shit down on you and the pack." He shakes his head. "Chris and Allison were right there along with Gerard when the hunters opened fire on the station. You honestly think I'm going to trust them over you?"

Something cracks inside of him. It's not physical, but it feels that way, like a section of his spine popping loose from where it'd been arthritically frozen before.

Derek turns away.

"I'm still freaked out about everything that's happened," Stiles continues quietly. "And I'm still not a huge fan of your stalk-and-see method. But after that night outside my house when you, uh, made your point so eloquently, I started thinking again. And once I start thinking, everything else takes a backseat. I need to figure out what's going on with the alpha pack, Derek. For me and my dad, if no one else."

Stiles probably doesn't have any idea how mercenary he sounds, but it's a motivation Derek can understand. He takes a deep breath, then turns back around.

"The alpha pack was always one of those stories we weren't supposed to talk about," he starts. "Sometimes I'd hear my mom and dad whispering about them, but they'd always shut up as soon as they noticed me listening."

Stiles frowns. "So, they're either something really scary, or really taboo. Or both."

Derek shrugs. "Peter says it's more like a gang than a pack. They're not a family, but there's been a pack of alphas around for longer than he remembers. They must recruit somehow, renew their members rather than having them be born in. Nobody's born an alpha."

Stiles taps his pen against his mouth. "So they what, go around inviting alphas into their little club?"

"I don't know." He sighs. "My older brother always wanted to run off and find them. He thought they'd help him become an alpha."

"Wait," Stiles says, nose wrinkling. "To become an alpha, don't you have to kill someone?"

"That's one way." Some would say the easiest, but Derek's felt his claws rip through a throat, has looked down into expectant eyes, has felt that power ebb out of a dying body and flow up into his. "Usually the old alpha just passes on, and their power is inherited. I've also heard that an alpha can offer up their power without dying, but apparently it's a big ritual, and I don't know what's involved."

"Somehow I don't see an alpha who runs in a pack of alphas doing that."

"Probably not. But who knows?" Derek scrubs his hand over his face. "My brother didn't think he'd have to kill anybody. We're all raised to believe that power is an evolving thing, and so is pack. Anyone can rise to an alpha, and anyone can fall to an omega."

Stiles scritches something down, pen moving rapidly over paper before he looks up again. "You don't just mean that metaphorically, do you? Or, not metaphorically, I can't think of the word." He frowns. "You once called Scott an alpha of his own pack."

Derek nods. "My mother taught us that when there are enough kids in a pack, one will spontaneously develop alpha powers when they get old enough. That's how new packs are supposed to be born. My brother thought it'd happen to him, but it never did. Scott already acts like an alpha. Maybe it'll happen for real, one of these days."

"That's...kind of frightening actually." Stiles flutters his pen against his notebook, a taptaptaptap beat like a giant moth trapped against a window pane. Derek curls his hands so he doesn't strike out and smash it flat. "Okay, so, taking that to an extreme...has anyone ever become an alpha right after they were bitten?"

"It's supposed to be possible." Derek huffs. "I don't.... I've never been around very many bitten werewolves. Most of what I know is just stories, stuff I heard as a kid, stuff I've pieced together from really old books that don't actually say that much."

Stiles rolls over, belly up. The bottom of his shirt rides up, revealing that thick treasure trail and the crest of one hip bone. He's hard, obviously so, the fat line of his cock pushing up tight against the front of his jeans.

"Interesting," he says blandly, but then he smirks, obviously aware of how badly Derek's attention has drifted again. He wriggles around a bit, settling himself on his back, nearly taking up Derek's whole bed with the way he's let his legs vee out. He brings one hand up behind his head, then drops the other down on his thigh, thumb resting against the edge where the denim starts to tent up. "I think it's time to move on. The big question is what's in Beacon Hills that's enticing enough to draw an alpha's interest?"

He strokes his thumb up and down as he says it, close but not quite touching his cock. Derek's nostrils flare uncontrollably, overwhelmed by the lust Stiles' is throwing out into the air around them. He should say something. Put a stop to this right now. Kick Stiles out of the loft. But he's frozen in place, mouth too dry to speak even if he could think of the right words to say—and Stiles looks like he knows it.

"I mean, yeah," Stiles says as he trails the tips of his fingers up his dick, eyes fluttering for a moment before he opens them again, gaze hot and focused laser-bright on Derek. "You're a fine specimen of an alpha, despite all the missteps, but do they even know about you? Do you guys have like a Twitter account or something to announce when a new alpha takes power? Chat rooms, that kind of thing?"

"Smoke signals," Derek says. He has to work spit into his mouth before he can go on. "Like the pope, only with red smoke."

Stiles' eyes widen. Only for a second, though, and then he's laughing, head thrown back and mouth open wide. He's not touching himself any more, too caught up in his own amusement. There should be a break in the tension because of it, a chance for Derek to take a breath and get himself under control, but he's still utterly captivated. Derek's not sure if he's ever seen Stiles laugh like this, wholly caught up in it. Joyous.


Stiles' eyelashes are damp by the time he finally winds down. "I forget sometimes," he says, his wide grin softening into a more relaxed smile.

Derek frowns. "What?"

"That on top of all the." Stiles waves his hand at Derek, swooping it up and down. "All the gloom and doom, all the glares and threats and shit, you're actually really funny."


"Yeah, oh. Granted, we're judging by my standards of funny, here." His smile slips just a bit before it comes back even stronger. "Which I realize not everyone agrees on, but trusting the tastes of the masses just leads to bad things. Like eighties fashion, for one."

"Or Uggs," Derek says, wrinkling his nose.

Stiles barks out a laugh. "I can't believe you even know what Uggs are, man."

"Laura had a pair," he says. "Bright purple. They sparkled."


"I know. But she always said that if she was going to have to deal with snow, then the snow was going to have to damn well deal with her, too."

Stiles chuckles. "Nice. She sounds, uh, I mean. That's a pretty cool attitude."

Derek nods slowly. He doesn't care about Stiles' slip, but it jars him, makes him realize how easily he was talking about Laura just now.

"So, the alpha pack," Stiles says, too brightly. Derek's not sure if something's showing on his face, if maybe he's fallen back into his habitual glower, or if Stiles is just feeling awkward about Laura, but whatever the cause, Stiles closes in on himself. Slowly, in parts: his smile melting away until his lips are an unstrung bow once again; his gaze dipping, his muscles tightening, until he's sitting, knees drawn up, chest curled forward protectively.

He reaches for his pen, and Derek realizes he's given up. That he's not trying to seduce Derek any longer, and that—

That isn't what Derek wants.

"Isaac," he says, softly but with a forceful snap that demands obedience. Stiles' head comes up, brow furrowed in question. "Take the car and go. Somewhere else, I don't care where."

A couple beats pass, then Isaac flicks off the TV and stands up. Derek can hear him cross to the kitchen and pull the extra set of keys out of the cookie jar. "Can I take the credit card, too?"

Derek rolls his eyes. "You can take the twenty I left in there. Be gone a couple hours at least, but call if you're going to be out after dark."

"'K. Don't be surprised if I spend the night at Scott's."

"What's wrong?" Stiles asks as soon as the door closes behind Isaac, but Derek holds up a hand, waiting until he hears the Camaro start.

"You should go, too," Derek says.

"What?" Stiles sits forward, knees splaying wide as he gapes up at Derek. "Okay, if you insist, but at least tell me why. Was it because—"

"You should go if you want to," Derek clarifies. "Because if you stay here, I'm going to have you naked in less than a minute from now."

"Oh, shit." Stiles' face immediately goes red, the scent of his arousal flooding the room a second later. He slowly eases back onto the bed, legs loosening, sliding down so that Derek can see that he's hard once again. "You know, I don't really have anywhere more appealing to be at the moment, so I'm just gonna hang around here."

"Good," Derek says, and strips off his shirt.

When Peter returns, he tips his nose into the air with great exaggeration, then raises an eyebrow. "I guess I should be happy for Stiles' sake that you know what you're doing in one aspect of your life, at least."

Derek lets a slow grin spread across his face, one that could equal Peter's evillest. It's petty, down at Peter's own level, but he can't help but enjoy the way Peter's delight literally turns sour, like vinegar spritzed through the air. He doesn't attempt to say anything; there's too much doubt in his head, too many voices whispering that what he did this afternoon was wrong, for him to pull off a good gloat convincingly.

"Just remember," Peter says. "If you let yourself get distracted by Stiles' tight little ass, then you'll give the alpha pack plenty of opportunity to strike."

"Oh, I don't know," he says, leaning in close so that his size advantage is obvious. "I wouldn't be surprised if the hunters get to us first."

Peter frowns up at him. Derek presses in closer, until Peter finally takes a step back.

"Besides, you're wrong," Derek says, smiling again. "Stiles doesn't have a little anything."

Peter rolls his eyes and throw his hands up in disgust before he stalks off. Derek snorts, then goes back to fixing his sandwich.

Turns out, gloating isn't that hard, after all.

Stiles texts him the next night. My dad's taking the night shift tonight. One of the deputies had a family emergency.

I know, Derek sends back. I heard when I went by at the usual time.

Come over?

Derek drapes the back of his arm over his eyes. Just the thought of slipping through the Stilinski front door, imagining how Stiles would bob his eyebrows faux-seductively before shyly trying to seduce Derek for real, has heat racing to his groin, the muscles of his thighs and ass tightening with anticipation. He breathes through his reaction, forcing himself to think.

No matter what his original intentions were, he can't keep telling himself that this isn't a thing. That he and Stiles aren't going to continue to do this...whatever it is. Stiles would probably say they're fuckbuddies.

Actually, Stiles would probably laugh and makes some rude comment about booty calls.

Which is exactly why Derek needs to be the one remembering to apply the brakes now and then. They don't need to be fucking every day. Even if Stiles is a teenager (especially since Stiles is a teenager) full of hormones driving him crazy with lust, that doesn't mean Derek has to act like one, too. They don't need to get so caught up in the sex they're having that they lose all scraps of common sense.

(Like he did, back with Kate.)

No, he sends back.

No? Derek can practically hear the affront that question mark implies. Just 'no'? What, did you revert to your caveman status? Do I need to come down there and make sure all the fuzzy animals in the vicinity are safe?

He can't help the soft laugh that bubbles up, but he tightens his lips on it right away, sucking it down before it can get out of control. No, I can't come over. Scott's mom has an early shift, so I need sleep so I'm sharp for both her and your dad. Happy?

Not really, no, but thank you for the explanation. Tomorrow, maybe?

Derek lets out a long, slow breath. His thumb hovers over the 'd', but he pulls back, reminding himself that sending a 'definitely' would be almost as bad as rushing out the window right now. Your dad will be home all day, right? he sends instead. And I'm not going to sexile Isaac again.

Seeing you use the word 'sexile' has split my whole world right down the middle. Also, meh. I hate when you're right.

My shock at that statement is overwhelming.

His phone goes silent after that, and for a moment, he indulges himself by imagining that Stiles is laughing so hard at Derek's wit that he's not able to text. But then his thoughts start to drift, thinking about what Stiles will end up doing now that Derek's upset his plans. Jerk off, undoubtedly, probably a few rounds of it between whatever games he plays.

Derek had gotten Stiles to finish his little seduction yesterday, made him demonstrate what he would have done if they hadn't gotten distracted talking about bad fashion and ruined the mood. Stiles was happy to play along, thumb slipping the button on his jeans with practiced ease, his fingers dragging his zipper down cruelly slow. He even worked in a couple questions about the alpha pack, so overloaded with innuendo that Derek would have laughed if Stiles hadn't been busy stroking himself off right in front of Derek's eyes.

He didn't finish, though. Derek had broken when Stiles arched up into his own hand, had crawled up between Stiles' legs to suck him off.

His phone buzzes with an incoming text. It's just that I'm uncomfortable with change. Maybe you should try being right more often and I'll get used to it. Like aversion therapy.

Dick, Derek sends back, because he's just that eloquent.

I know you are but what am I?

"Christ," Derek mutters. This is the guy he's fucking. The teenager who Derek can't stop thinking about. The hell with the alpha pack; Derek might as well just walk himself into a roomful of hunters with a grudge.

Yeah, I'm regretting that one too, Stiles sends a couple seconds later. I totally should have gone with a 'that's what she said,' right?

Derek groans and stuffs his phone under his pillow. He'll still hear it, of course, but having it under there will remind him of his brand new vow to stop checking what Stiles texts.

He pulls it back out a minute later, because he absolutely has to clarify something, or he won't be able to sleep.

The only fuzzy animals around here are rats and possums, and they're not in any danger, so don't worry yourself on their behalf, he sends. Then, a second later, not fighting the smirk on his face, adds, After all, they taste like crap.

The merry chirps of the morning birds are loud, piercing, grating, as Derek leans against his usual tree, waiting for Melissa McCall to walk across the parking lot. He hadn't been lying when he told Stiles he needed sleep last night, but then he went and fucked it all up by exchanging increasingly stupid insults with Stiles until they'd both passed out. (Derek isn't sure which of them had won that race; the last text Stiles had sent was nothing but keysmashed garbage, but on the other hand, Derek can't even remember thinking the last three that he'd texted himself.)

God, he wants a cup of coffee. One of those huge drinks Stiles loves so much, only hot and made of nothing but caffeine and sugar. The smell would be a dead giveaway, though, ruining any chance they had at being even slightly stealthy, so Derek does without.

"I'm starting to think this is one of those watched pot situations," Scott says. "Like, nothing's ever going to happen while we're here."

"That's the entire point," Derek says. Then; "Did you just compare your mother to a tea kettle?"

"What? No. I was talking about the alphas." Scott frowns. "Although, you should hear her shriek when she sees a spider. Supersonic, man."

That makes Derek think of dog whistles, which makes him think of Deaton, and Peter, and too much time spent powerless on floors. He shifts against the tree, letting the bark drag against an itch just under his shoulder blade, while he shoves all that aside and concentrates on what he and Stiles talked about the day before. They hadn't been able to pin down any motivation for the alpha pack, but just tossing ideas back and forth had helped clarify some things in his head.

"I'm going to stop looking in on the Boyds and Erica's mother," he finally says. "I think the only reason the alphas would be interested in them is if I pay them too much attention. If I make them seem important."

It's something he should have thought about before he got involved with Stiles. Hell, it was what Stiles was so upset about to begin with. One lesson Derek's learned well, though, is that what's done is done, and no matter what you do, you can't change the past. You can only try to keep from making the same mistakes all over again.

"Stiles talk you into that?" Scott asks absently, eyes narrowed as he watches his mother stride towards the hospital.

Derek blinks, looking over at Scott before he remembers he's supposed to be keeping an eye out, too. He'd been expecting questions about what he's doing with Stiles, or, more likely, a lot of yelling, but not for Scott to sound proud of his best friend for changing Derek's mind about something. Maybe Scott hasn't figured it out yet. Isaac sniffed out the truth quickly enough, but maybe he hasn't said anything to Scott. Maybe Stiles is trying to hide it, and has been more careful about keeping clean than Derek has.

He's not sure what to think of that possibility.

Scott sighs, tension draining out of him as Melissa disappears into the hospital. He rubs tiredly at his face. "Man, I am so ready for this to be over with. They could be in there, with her, for all we know. Like Peter was."

"I know." Derek echoes Scott's movement, thumbing away a crust of matter from the corner of his own eye. "You think you could get anything more out of Deaton?"

Scott's head comes up, his eyes wide. "Uh, probably not, but I'll definitely try. Maybe he'd say more if you came with me."

Derek blows a long, heavy breath out through his nose. Deaton makes the hair on the back of his neck go stiff, but he has no idea if that's because something about him trips Derek's instincts, or if he's simply uncomfortable facing someone who knew his mother. He needs information, though, and so far nothing's just dropped into his lap.

"You set it up," Derek finally says. "I'll be there."

Scott grins. "Awesome. And hey, even if Dr. Deaton turns out to be no help, Stiles is back in the game now."

Derek nods, because yes, he'll take Stiles' skills over Deaton's, any day of the week.

He wakes from his mid-morning nap to the too-still sensation that tells him that there's somebody nearby, someone who doesn't normally belong in the loft. There's no sense of danger, though, so instead of playing opossum, he simply opens his eyes.

Stiles is sprawled in the chair in the corner, head tipped back, mouth open to let out soft, barely audible snores.

Derek sighs and scrubs sleep off of his face. Fucking Peter. He understands why his uncle hates feeling trapped anywhere, so Derek doesn't argue the point that much whenever he finds the front door unlocked. After all, it's not like even the toughest deadbolt would stop any of their supernatural enemies. It would, however, slow the humans down at least long enough to force them to pick a lock. Or smash the door in. Either way, it'd make enough noise to wake Derek up.

He should call out. Shake Stiles awake, ask him what the hell he thinks he's doing, sneaking into Derek's home like he has a right to do so. But the nest of blankets around Derek is the perfect sleep-warmed temperature, and he's still feeling lethargic, not ready to fully forsake his nap.

The chair Stiles is sitting in is tucked into the corner beside the huge window, so his face is in the shadows, delicate eyelids undisturbed by the bright white light. The sun has started to crawl up his legs, dust motes dancing just beyond the reach of the fingertips draped lazily across Stiles' lap.

He wonders if Stiles would notice his heat if Derek let his hand hover above where the light is tracing, or if he'd just take if for the sun.

Stiles smacks his lips, tongue darting out to moisten them, then rolls his head around like he's trying to figure out how muscles function. He lifts his head, eyes blinking like he's not sure if he's awake or not, and then drops his head back again, letting out a huge, jaw-cracking yawn.

"Wow," he says, fingertips rubbing at the joint. "I so totally fail at the Edward Cullen thing. Do you take classes in that? I guess I understand now why you were so set on getting sleep last night."

"Which I didn't, thanks to you," Derek says mildly.

Stiles jerks and flails until he's sitting upright. "Oh. You're awake."

"Yes, I'm awake. Do you habitually start conversations with people while they're asleep?"

"What? No, I'm just." Stiles scrubs his hands over his face, then his hair, leaving it fuzzed out like a teddy bear's while he lets loose with another giant yawn. "God. Sorry. I'm not entirely here yet. And actually, yes, except it's the other way around, according to my dad and Scott."

Derek snorts. "Of course you talk in your sleep."

"Haha, gosh, I've never heard that before." Stiles frowns. "Did I wake you? With the talking?"

He shakes his head. "No, not with the talking. With the sneaking into my home and watching over me like a creeper, yes."

Stiles aims a pitiful glare at him. "Hey, I learn from the best, okay?"

"The best being Twilight."

Stiles pauses for a moment with his mouth open. "God, I hate my brain sometimes. If I said I'm Team Edward, please don't hold it against me. It's this whole thing with Lydia and how easy it is to get her riled up about the conflict of female-driven narratives versus.... You know what? I'm going to shut up now."

"Finally," Derek grumbles. It's a bit of a shock, hearing Stiles mention Lydia, which makes him realize how little he's heard Stiles talk about her over the summer. Not like he had the first few months Derek had known him, when if Stiles wasn't talking about Scott and his problems, he was talking about the wondrous goddess that is Lydia Martin.

Derek rolls over onto his back, stretching his arms overhead before he starts working his mouth around, cleaning away the taste of stale sleep that had started to build up during his short nap, and tells his brain there's no reason to think about Stiles' obsession with Lydia.

"Why are you here, Stiles?" he finally asks.

"Funny thing, actually. I ran into Uncle Murderwolf at the coffee shop earlier, and he happened to mention he planned on being out all day today."

Derek sits up. "You talked to Peter?"

Stiles snorts. "As if. He talked to me, which I'd like to go on record as being against, one hundred percent. Oh, and when you said you had someone else keeping an eye on me, I didn't realize you meant him. Thanks so much for assigning the fox to the chicken coop. Brilliant logistical planning, there."

"Who else did you think I meant? It's not like I've got the Avengers in my back pocket."

"Uh, Isaac? Who I'm around half the time anyway?"

Derek pinches the bridge of his nose. He feels like he's standing on the edge of a conversational whirlpool, about to be swept away if he makes a single misstep, and going into how Isaac actually has a life Derek is trying to respect would probably be the same as diving for the center of the deep. "Did Peter threaten you?" he tries instead. "Or was he just—?"

"Being Peter? Pretty much." Stiles' nose wrinkles. "He seems far more interested in the status of your sex life than is healthy for a relative, by the way."

"I keep telling myself it's a pack thing," Derek says.

"Yeah, you're not exactly convincing me to buy the Brooklyn Bridge over here."

"Can we not talk about Peter right now?" It comes out sounding horribly petulant, making Stiles' eyebrows rise, so Derek rushes on. "You never actually said why you're here."

Stiles blushes. "Isaac and Scott made plans for a Call of Duty marathon all day today. They invited me too, but, uh, then I ran into Peter this morning and he told me he was going to be out, so I thought...."

The blanket nest is too hot all of a sudden, trapping the heat from the surge of warmth that spreads over his skin. Derek tosses them aside. The cool air prickles his forearms, but Stiles' gaze drops towards his groin, where the air does nothing for how hot and sticky he feels.

"So you thought?" he pushes, because Stiles might look pretty with his skin all flushed, but Derek prefers it when he's brave enough to say what he wants.

Sure enough, Stiles, as always, rises to the challenge put before him. His grin is dirty, even without the ridiculous way he bobs his eyebrows. "I thought I might spend the day playing with your joystick instead."

Derek groans and drops his head back against the wall behind him, closing his eyes.

"Yeah, well, I didn't know if you'd get it if I said I'd rather spend the whole day grinding with you." Stiles sits forward, the leather of the chair creaking tellingly. "Is that a no?"

"You drive me crazy," Derek says, keeping his eyes closed. Being able to smell the rising tide of Stiles' interest is bad enough; he doesn't need to see whatever Stiles decides to do next.

"Crazy good or crazy bad?"

"Crazy as in I haven't been constantly horny like this in—" He cuts himself off, shaking his head. In six years? Or is it closer to seven now, since he first met Kate and couldn't think past what was happening in his pants.

"In what, years?" Stiles supplies. He's practically crowing, obviously pleased by the implied compliment. "Since you were my age?"

"Something like that." Derek opens his eyes and sits up, tired of his own passivity. "Come here."

Stiles swallows. "Yeah, okay." He doesn't obey quickly, though, not like a beta would. It's obvious that he stands because he wants to, not because Derek told him to. He strips his shirt over his head without pretense, followed by his pants and underwear in one quick shuck. Derek's gaze is caught by Stiles' bare feet for a moment; he hadn't noticed before how completely Stiles had made himself at home.

"You're a little behind the curve," Stiles says, nodding at Derek's underwear.

"And you were supposed to be coming over here where I can get my hands on you," Derek shoots back, but he lifts his hips enough to drag his boxer-briefs down and off. "Happy?"

"God, you don't even." Stiles crawls onto the bed, up between Derek's legs, and then sits back on his heels. "Hi."

The smile on Stiles' face is irresistible, tugging up the corners of Derek's own lips. "Hi."

"So." Stiles drags his index finger down Derek's sternum. "I believe you said something about getting your hands on me. And yet, no touchies are happening."

"You always have to bitch about something," Derek says, and curls his hand around Stiles' dick.

The morning sun has moved off, leaving the room bathed in the golden blue glow it takes on in the early afternoon. Derek's starting to get hungry. It's not an urgent thing, but the way Stiles' stomach keeps rumbling makes him more aware of the tightness in his own belly, of the minutes drifting away with the sun.

He can't quite work up the desire to overcome the inertia of the moment, though, to leave the comfortable spot where he's lying between Stiles' legs. Stiles is half sitting up, propped up with pillows under his shoulder, behind his head, his hand stroking lazily through Derek's hair. Derek's nose is pressed into the crease of Stiles' groin, that fragrant, fragile join. Stiles' cock is quiescent, nestled in his bushy pubic hair, but Derek knows that it wouldn't take much to get him hard again, that all he'd have to do is give in to the urge to drift over, open his mouth and suck Stiles inside.

"Are you going to want to fuck me one of these days?" Stiles asks, fingers curling tight, tugging the hair away from Derek's scalp just firmly enough that it feels like a massage in reverse rather than pain.

"We just finished," Derek complains absently. "And I thought you were hungry, anyway."

"I am hungry," Stiles says, giving a hank of hair a firmer tug. "But it doesn't look like we're raiding the kitchen anytime soon, so I just thought I'd put it out there."

Derek answers with a noncommittal hum, then jerks his neck just enough that Stiles lets go of his hair.

Temptation has weight, responds to gravity, and it pulls him down, scoots his body back so he can angle his head just right to suck one of Stiles' balls into his mouth. Stiles whines, his hands flailing at Derek's head, fingertips pitter-patting against his hair like raindrops, and Derek lets him go with a slurp.

"Give me a few more minutes," he says, nudging his nose against Stiles' inner thigh. "I like this part."

"Uh, I wasn't actually angling for sex right at this moment in time," Stiles says, even as he spreads his legs wider. "What I meant was are you going to want to fuck me at some point in the future? And fuck, as in up the ass."

Derek stills. He slowly looks up, needing to see Stiles' face despite the fact he's worried about what shows on his own. He's fucked people since Kate, but never someone he knows well enough to worry about what it'd be like to look into their eyes while he did it. Stiles is watching Derek patiently, though his pale skin is as good as a book sometimes, pinking up slightly as Derek stares back, giving away the fact that he's not as blithe about the question as he's pretending.

"You'd want that?" Derek asks, trying to be as casual as Stiles is managing.

Stiles shrugs. "I've thought about it." He swallows. "I've thought about a lot of things. You might be surprised."

"I told you," Derek says, "whatever you want to try is fine with me."

Stiles sucks in a huge breath and lets it shudder out again. "The thing is, I'm not sure. I mean, it looks awesome in the porn I've seen, and I like fingers down there, but it's kinda big, you know?"

"Thank you," Derek says, hiding his grin by ducking his head down lower, pressing his nose up next to Stiles' ballsack.

Stiles laughs and uses the ball of his foot to slap ineffectively at Derek's ass. "Not what I meant, but yes, I will gladly acknowledge your physical perfection."

Derek ignores the sting as that truth hits home effortlessly. "So what are you worried about, if it's not the size of my dick?"

Stiles shrugs again. "Okay, yes, I am actually a little intimidated by the idea of fitting your cock into my ass. But, um. It's kinda.... You'd be inside me, you know?"

"Yeah." Derek closes his eyes and rubs his stubble against Stiles' thigh, letting the resultant squirm distract him from imagining exactly what Stiles described. "It can be really intense. Intimate. But it can also be just fucking. Just physical sensations. It depends on what position you're in, and how you go at it, and how much you try to make a connection with your partner."

"Huh." Stiles reaches down, brushing the tips of his fingers over Derek's cheek. Derek lifts his head, curious—and then immediately wishes he hadn't. The look in Stiles' eyes is speculative, like he gets when he looks up from a book and drops his pen, his mind weaving together connections nobody else would ever catch.

"Turn over," Derek says roughly, easing back onto his knees.

"Uh, okay, hold up there, Hoss," Stiles says, speculation turning to apprehension.

Derek smirks. "I'm not going to fuck you right now," he says, slapping Stiles lightly, high on the meaty part of his thigh. "But I'm pretty sure you're gonna love this."

Stiles' eyebrows shoot up. Then he rockets into motion, fighting the corner of the sheet twisted around his ankle before he flops forward, legs shooting out to either side of Derek, leaving him perfectly positioned.

"Oh, my God," Stiles breathes. "If you don't mean what I think you mean, I might actually have an aneurysm. Um. Are you sure you want to do that? Because I showered this morning, promise, but still."

"You're fine," Derek murmurs. He slips his hand under Stiles' pelvis, confirming what he thought he saw when Stiles flipped over, that Stiles is already hard and leaking. Derek gives Stiles' cock a few light tugs, until Stiles' hips rise to assist, then lets go and pulls his hand free.

"Have you thought about this?" Derek asks, licking at the crease where Stiles' thigh meets his butt cheek. He's not sure why he gets like this with Stiles, talkative and curious. He's never done it with any other lover, not even Kate, though she did like to taunt him at times, force him to confess things that made his face burn and the wolf retreat to the furthest corners of his mind.

Derek pulls back, frowning. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

Stiles chuckles, lifting his head and craning his neck around so he can shoot Derek a disbelieving stare. "Did you just offer me the option of not talking? Did you forget who you're with, dude?"

"No," Derek growls. He sinks his blunt teeth into Stiles' glute, the resultant sharp peal of laughter exactly the distraction he was going for. Before the little spasms and jerks of Stiles' giggles have completely died away, Derek thumbs his asscheeks apart and dives in.

"Oh, fuck!" Stiles actually lurches up the bed a good six inches, but he immediately reverses direction, shoving his ass back against Derek's face. Derek waits out his wriggling, then presses the flat of his tongue against Stiles' asshole, letting him experience how warm and wet it is.

"That's...oh, man, I don't even," Stiles babbles. Derek starts licking, slow but firm, idly wondering if Stiles' words will speed up to keep pace with his strokes, or if they'll die away completely. "I did think about this, God, a lot."


"Yeaaaah." Stiles has started to rock his hips, not a lot, but enough that it's easier for Derek to switch over to probing jabs for the most part, letting Stiles do half the work as he fucks himself on Derek's tongue. "I mean—wow that's good, fuck. Uh, even before you specifically entered the picture in my head, I thought about everything, and—oh, fuck—this always seemed like the final frontier, you know? Something I'd be lucky to ever get to experience. But then I started thinking about you, about the way Scott doesn't really care anymore if he has to stick his face in a bag of dirty laundry, and oh, God, you're killing me here."

"Mmm," Derek hums against Stiles' asshole, smiling when the vibration makes Stiles's breathing hitch. He rubs his face against Stiles' buttcheek, drying his mouth and teasing Stiles with the scritch of his beard all at the same time. "So you're saying you thought about Scott doing this to you, too?"

"What? God, no. Don't make it weird, dude." He gasps when Derek bites at the firm flesh of his ass. "No, I was just saying that I thought maybe it was a werewolf thing, not being grossed out know. And then I couldn't stop thinking about you, uh, doing what you were just doing."

"You mean this?" He starts licking again, circling the rim. "Or this?" He presses his tongue in deep, then pushes his index finger inside, settling into a slow, firm rhythm that has Stiles groaning and riding his hand. "When you decide you want me to fuck you, I'll get you started this way, eat you out until you're so loose I can just slick myself up and slip right inside."

"Oh, fuck!" Stiles bucks against the bed, two fast, hard thrusts, and then he's groaning, his asshole spasming and fluttering around Derek's finger as he comes. "Oh, fuck with your mouth, fuck!"

Derek nuzzles and licks at him lazily as Stiles finishes coming down from the high, then he pulls his finger out and pushes his hand under Stiles' front, sliding it through the mess Stiles left behind on the sheets. Stiles twitches and sighs as Derek's hand brushes against his softening cock, but he doesn't protest, doesn't move away while Derek gets what he wants.

"Give me a minute," Stiles mumbles, lips and nose distorted by the pillow shoved under his face, obviously sinking into his post-orgasm bliss.

"Don't worry about it." Derek rises up on his knees, slicking his cock with the semen all over his hand. His arousal had been at a low burn, the dull, brick red glow of banked coals, but it flares into full flame as soon as he gets his hand on his dick. Stiles does this to him, the way he's spread out in front of Derek, one eye slitted open and staring back at him, his whole body radiating a happy, well-fucked contentment.

When the first splash lands, Stiles' lips curl lazily, the smile so small it barely creases his cheek. It's harder for Derek to direct his come than it was his piss, the pleasure making him want to curl forward, close his eyes and just give into the feeling, but he manages a wide enough spread: the hollow of Stiles' low back; across both ass cheeks, close enough to the cleft that a few drops roll into it; the sharp jut of his right shoulder blade. As soon as he's done, Derek drops forward, trapping the wet, fragrant warmth between their bodies.

Stiles grunts. "You weigh a ton, you know that, right?"

"You can take it," Derek says, nosing into the soft hairs at the nape of Stiles' neck. "You've done it before."

Stiles goes rigid underneath him. Just for a moment. "Yeah, well," he says, clearing his throat. "I don't mind, as long as sexy times are involved."

Derek tenses with realization. He'd only been thinking of the way they'd rutted together that very first time, but of course Stiles had taken the extra step, had remembered the way he'd supported Derek in the pool, keeping him alive for hours after the kanima attack.

He kisses a thank you to the back of Stiles' neck, then slides off of him, just enough to the side so that Stiles isn't bearing his full weight.

"I didn't actually mean that you had to move, but hey, breathing, it's a nice concept." Stiles lets out a deep, contented sigh, as if he needed to demonstrate the working power of his lungs. "You like that, don't you? Marking me. Is it a scent thing, or a territory thing, or what?"

Derek swallows. Of course Stiles realized what he'd been doing. "Something like that," he finally says, because he can't even really explain it to himself. "It's just...nice."

He expects Stiles to press him on that, or to at least have some snarky comment, probably canine-related, but instead he just snuffles his face against the pillow. "Yeah," he says hazily. "It kinda is."

Derek's walking back towards the loft, cooling down from his attempt to run his frustrations off, when his phone buzzes against his thigh. It probably says too much that he only would have been surprised if Stiles' name hadn't been the one to come up.

Scott told me about your meeting with Deaton. Sucks that he wouldn't give you anything definite on the alpha pack. Gold star, you tried?

Derek snorts, even though Stiles' text just stirs up his irritation, all over again. You mean Scott told you the part where Deaton said absolutely nothing? Good to know the lines of communication are open.

Yeah, well, but I got the impression some of his advice was good? Goals for strengthening the pack and stuff. How to build trust with everybody.

That makes Derek want to curl his fist until his phone is a crumpled mess, but one of the earliest lessons his mother ever taught him was that we don't use our strength to take out our anger on things, sweetie, no matter how much you think it will help.

He walks the rest of the way to the loft before he answers, strips off his sweaty clothes and stretches out on top of his dirty, Stiles-scented sheets before he's calm enough to come up with a response. It's all just more of the same bullshit. How the hell am I supposed to build trust if they never listen to me in the first place?

And, okay, maybe his anger hasn't faded that much, because he's furiously typing out his next message as soon as he hits send on the first. Scott's made it more than clear that he's never going to trust me. He's only working with me because he has to. How the fuck am I supposed to build on that?

Hey, go easy on Scott, man. He's trying. He's got plenty of trust issues of his own, and you and Peter didn't help any.

He's dialing Stiles' phone before he even considers any other option. "Don't fucking compare me to Peter," he snaps. "I didn't kill—" He cuts that off, because he did do what Peter did, just not on purpose. "I tried to help Scott, okay? Yeah, I was in his face at the time, but if I hadn't been, he would have wound up dead!"

"Jesus fuck, calm down," Stiles growls. "I'm sorry! I wasn't putting you in the same category as Peter, I really wasn't, I promise. I just condensed everything down because of texting, okay? I didn't think about what I was implying."

The breath feels hot coming out of his nose, like steam rising from a cartoon bull. He's better, though, the pulse in his temple no longer throbbing. "Okay." His voice cracks a little, probably because he's dehydrated from his run. "Just. Don't do it again."

Stiles doesn't answer immediately, his breath whistling through the phone. "You know, my dad always says trust is a two-way street."

"What the hell does that mean?" Derek's tone is too sharp, but now Stiles is spilling trite adages at him? "Are you trying to sound like Deaton?"

"No, shut up. God. You are the prickliest asshole this side of a cactus patch. I just meant that maybe you should try trusting your pack more. Including Scott. They'll respond to it, even if it's just subconsciously. I mean, it's worked for us, right?"

Is that.... Derek's stomach turns as the implication sinks in. That Stiles opened himself up to Derek in order to—

He pushes the thought down into the deep dark pit where he keeps everything else, because just attempting to verbalize it in his head makes him want to vomit. "Guess it works for you a lot," Derek rasps. "Since your dad's trust means you get to do pretty much whatever you want right under his nose."

"What did you just say?" Stiles hisses. "Did you actually just— No. Fuck you. I'm done."

"Yeah, real fucking mature," Derek snarls as 'Call Ended' flashes up on his screen.

Whatever. He needs to shower anyway.

The light in Stiles' room is on.

The cruiser is parked in the drive, right next to the Jeep. There's a baseball game playing on the TV, one the sheriff recorded, going by the occasional pause of the action in the middle of an inning. Stiles isn't watching it with him, though. Derek can hear him moving around upstairs every now and then, fetching something on the other side of his bedroom before he returns to his computer, or simply moving with restless need.

Fidgeting with anger, maybe.

Derek pulls out his phone. He'd tried to nap away his anger this afternoon, but no matter how he concentrated on getting his body to just shut down and sleep, something would always jerk him back from the edge of oblivion. His own thoughts, usually. The way Stiles' voice had sounded when he said I'm done.

That had been the one that really made him feel sick, even more than his fear that Stiles had been using him somehow, baiting him with the extension of trust. Derek had replayed that line, too, over and over again, telling himself that it meant what he thought it meant, but all he could hear in his head when Stiles said it's worked for us, right? was the shy delight, the emphasis he put on the word 'us'.

I'm a dick, he texts to Stiles. I'm sorry.

Stiles gets up, moves over to his window, unlatches the lock. A couple seconds later his reply comes in on Derek's phone. You know, that apology would have a lot more oomph if you delivered it in person, rather than lurking in my bushes like a great big coward.

I'm not in your bushes, he sends back, but Derek is glad to accept the invitation, even if he isn't exactly eager to face Stiles' wrath. He slips in the window with little trouble, but once in the room he's uncertain, awkward like he used to be at the junior high dances, not sure what to do with his hands or where to stand. Stiles lets him stew in his own juices, not budging an inch from where he's seated in front of his computer.

Derek clears his throat. "I'm a dick. And I'm sorry."

"Yep," Stiles says, popping the P. He's still staring at his computer. "That you are. And I should hope so."

"Okay. I just wanted to say that."

Stiles swings around to face him. "So you're just going to dump your half-assed apology on me like a bag of dirty laundry and go? Smooth, Derek."

"Then what do you want from me?" It comes out far more pleading than he intended, probably because he's not really talking about the apology. Stiles confuses him like nobody he's ever met. Derek had been afraid Stiles would get sucked into some romantic pipedream when they started fucking around, but so far he's shown no signs of that. But it's not just sex between them, either, and if Stiles is actually using him to get something, Derek can't figure out for the life of him what it might be.

Stiles huffs. "God, you're such a pain in the ass. Look. My dad's downstairs. And yeah, even with all the bullshit I pulled this spring, he still trusts me enough that I could probably get away with fucking you right under his nose. I don't actually want to, though."

Derek winces. "Stiles, I know—"

"Just shut up, okay? For all I've ragged on you to be less of a dick in the past, it's kind of painful to watch you try." He stands up and yanks the laptop off of his desk, the power cord snapping free and dropping to the floor. "I'm going to watch a movie. You can join me if you want, or you can go sulk in the bushes some more. Up to you."

He waits, warily, as Stiles settles in on one side of his bed, certain that there's more to come, that Stiles can't possibly have gotten all of his righteous fury out. Sure enough, as soon as he's gotten the movie pulled up on his computer, paused on a blank black screen, he sighs heavily.

"Look," Stiles says quietly. "I'm not trying to trick you into trusting me, okay? I realized that's probably what it sounded like to you, but Jesus, Derek. It's so fucked up to think like that."

"It's not just me." Derek takes a shuffling step forward. "You shouldn't trust me as much as you do, either. I shouldn't have let you."

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Okay, Drama Queen. Get a new soundtrack or take it off repeat. Now are you going to watch this movie with me or not?"

He still doesn't understand what Stiles wants. That doesn't stop Derek from kicking off his shoes and crawling onto the bed beside him, tucking their shoulders together, and settling in close so they can both see the screen.

"So does this count as a trust-building exercise?" Scott asks from his perch in one of the lower branches of Derek's usual tree. Derek doubts that it's any cooler than where he's standing at ground level, deep in the shade, but maybe an extra sigh of breeze makes it in through the leaves, momentarily abating the stifling heat that's settled in over the past few days. "Because Deaton keeps asking me if we've been working on that, and I can tell he doesn't believe me when I say we have."

Derek rolls his eyes. "Maybe if you let yourself fall out of the tree and I agreed to catch you. That's how those things work, right?"

Scott groans. "Man, don't even go there. Coach Finstock totally had us do trust falls the first week of tryouts, freshman year. All the seniors thought it'd be hilarious if they dropped us newbies on our asses."

Derek snorts. It's the kind of story Peter would have told about his basketball glory years, except of course he would have been the one on the pranking end of the equation. "Don't worry. You'll get your turn at hazing freshmen soon enough."

"Nah," Scott says. "Mr. Whittemore threatened to sue the school afterwards, because supposedly Jackson hit his head hard enough to get a concussion. I'm pretty sure it was just his ego that got bruised, but now we're not allowed to do anything like that in practice."

Scott's tone drops at the end, like it's suddenly hitting him that Mr. Whittemore isn't going to be a problem for any of them from now on. Derek doesn't think it's exactly a great idea that the Whittemores have decided to bundle Jackson up and get the hell out of Dodge, considering he's a brand new werewolf and still recovering from his experiences as the kanima, but mostly he's just relieved that Jackson isn't his problem anymore.

"Peter," Scott says.

Derek stiffens, scanning the area around them, stretching his senses as far as he's able with such haphazard warning. His uncle doesn't have any reason to be here, not unless there's trouble of some kind.

"No, not here," Scott says. Derek's pretty sure that tone means he's rolling his eyes. "I was just trying to say that, um, Stiles mentioned some stuff the other day. And I wanted to say that I know you weren't the one who bit me."

He opens his mouth to snark wow, really? when he remembers Stiles' text, how passionately he'd defended Scott, so he swallows the words back down. "Okay?" he offers instead. Maybe it's not the conciliatory words he's supposed to say, but it's the best olive branch he's able to come up with off the top of his head.

Scott sighs loudly. "God, you're just so frustrating sometimes!" There's a light crackle, then Scott hops down out of the tree, landing lightly on his feet beside Derek. "Do you even understand that the reason I blamed you for all of this to begin with is because you let me think you were responsible? Because you never gave me any answers until you had to?"

"Yes, Scott, I get that," Derek parrots back at him. "I'm sorry that I forgot how to be a nice person while I was trying to keep both of us alive and figure out who killed my sister."

"See, that's the thing!" Scott flings both hands up in the air, just like Stiles would. He's not even looking at the hospital any longer. "Peter killed your sister! Peter's the one who did this to me! And he's living in your apartment like you don't remember any of that happened!"

Derek squeezes his fists so he doesn't give in to the need to find out if he can cut down the tree in front of him by flinging Scott through it. "I remember," he grits out through clenched teeth. "Don't think for one second I don't."

Scott huffs. "Right. Well, I remember too. And I guess you've got your own reasons for keeping him around, but it makes it really hard to trust you when you've got the guy who tried to murder all of us sleeping on your couch."

What do you want me to do? Derek doesn't say it. Not because it'd be weak; there's really not any farther he can fall in Scott's opinion, he doesn't think. But because he already knows what the only practical answer to that question is, and he's not ready to hear it. Not yet.

"I'm sorry," he says, and it comes out as a whisper. Stiles is right; he is pathetic whenever he tries to do the right thing.

"Yeah, well." Scott shrugs. Then his mother is coming out of the hospital doors, and they don't have to say anything more.

If you bring me food, I'll blow you.

Derek blinks down at his phone. It's not that the suggestion is anything surprising, or particularly dirty. It's just they've never done that before, put it out there in their texts. It's a step further into dangerous territory, evidence that could be used against him if it ever comes to that. The worst part is, Derek can't find it in himself to give a fuck.

I'm pretty sure you'd do that even if I don't magically turn into your delivery boy.

Deeeerrrrrrreeeeeek. Bring me food. Pleaaaaaaaase?

Which is how he ends up on Stiles' couch, belly full of tacos as some cartoon plays out on the TV. The promise of sex is somewhere on the horizon, distant and hazy like mountains that have just come into view. They'll get there eventually, though they're not sure when, and for the moment they're just enjoying the anticipation.

"I can't remember ever not wanting to help my dad with his job," Stiles says, slumped down against the opposite armrest, legs tangled with Derek's where they meet in the middle. He's got an old book of French folktales spread open, face down across his chest, but he hasn't looked at it once since he picked it up.

"Well, he does have just about the coolest job a little kid's dad could have," Derek says. "Unless he was an astronaut. Astronauts beat everything."

"I'm only agreeing with you on that point because career counselors tend to steer people away from the pirate or ninja option these days," Stiles says. He chuckles to himself. "Okay, so, when I was little I just knew I could figure out stuff other people couldn't."

"You grew out of that, obviously," Derek says, and is rewarded by Stiles sticking out his tongue.

"As I was saying," he says theatrically. "Whenever my mom would take me into the library, we'd pass this old laundromat. You know that one that's been around forever, over on Vine?"

Derek nods. He's used it a few times since his return to Beacon Hills, when he didn't feel like being around too many people. It's not so much that it's run down as that it's in a waning part of town. He's fairly sure the linoleum flooring has asbestos in it, and the washers are ancient enough that their spin cycle is so loud that if enough of them get going at the same time, the whole place sounds like an airport, that jet-engine whine of planes taxiing to take off.

"I'd just learned to read, so I was taking in everything I could. And one day I noticed the sign on the door said Coin Laundry." Stiles grins. "I got so excited I made my mom skip the library and take me to see my dad at the station."

"I think I see where this is going," Derek says, feeling his own lips twitch.

"I'm sorry you have that much understanding of how my brain works," Stiles says, cupping his hand around Derek's ankle and giving it a fond shake. "Anyway. So I march right on up to my dad and say, 'Deputy Stilinski, sir. I'm here to report a crime.'"

Derek's seen the pictures of tiny Stiles, carefully framed and hung around the house, and the image of that small face set in determination is so clear, so ridiculous, that Derek can't suppress his grin.

"Right?" Stiles shakes his head. "I know now that my parents weren't sure whether to be worried or to laugh their asses off, but my dad, he was great. He took me over to his desk, sat me down in the interview chair and started filling out a report. He even had me spell out my own name—which, thinking back, was probably because he can never remember where the second z goes."

"There's a z in your name?" Derek asks, leaning forward, the predator in him sensing a tasty morsel. "More than one?"

"Not important!" Stiles brings his foot up and plants it against Derek's chest, shoving him back. "You gonna let me finish my story?"

"I don't know. I'm considering holding you down and finding out what's on your driver's license instead."

"I'll put Nair in your shampoo, don't think I won't."

Derek snorts. "Go on," he says, stroking his thumb along the arch of Stiles' foot. "Tell me about your great Sherlock Holmes moment."

"Mmm, you can keep doing that," Stiles purrs. Derek pulls his thumb away. Stiles pouts at him, but it doesn't last long before he's smiling and wriggling against the cushions, the conclusion to the story visibly forcing its way out of him. "So my dad gets everything started, then he very seriously asks me what crime I'm there to report. And I tell him." He snickers. "I tell him that I've just discovered a highly illegal money laundering operation."

Laughter peals out of Derek. He laughs so hard he curls forward with it, imagining little Stiles carefully forming the big words he's absorbed without really understanding, imagining how hard his father would work to keep a straight face. He laughs until he's reduced to gasping giggles and there's dampness filming his eyes. He takes a long, much needed breath, then looks over at Stiles.

The wonder on Stiles' face is almost as terrifying as realizing that he's utterly relaxed, the ability to shift so far beyond him in this moment, he might as well be human.

"Can I ask you something?" Stiles asks as he settles in beside Derek, moving in close so his chest presses into Derek's arm and his groin is snugged up against Derek's hip, drawing his leg up so his thigh rests across Derek's.

"I don't know," Derek says. Or mumbles, really; he's still dazed from his orgasm, not quite ready or willing to engage with the world. "Can you?"

"I am in awe of your cutting wit," Stiles snarks back, the soft, petting stroke of his hand across Derek's sternum at odds with his tone. "No, really, I am. Things that produce awe: the Grand Canyon, double rainbows, and Derek Hale's cutting wit."

Derek pinches the back of Stiles' thigh, though not too hard because he doesn't particularly want to get kneed in the balls. "Would you prefer it if I was just lying here totally unaffected?"

"No, no," Stiles responds quickly. "I'm quite happy with my status as Stiles Stilinski, sex god extraordinaire."

"I think 'god extraordinaire' is kind of redundant," Derek says, but he leaves it at that, not really interested in getting into a faux argument when the truth is that Derek is having the best sex of his life. He strokes his hand over Stiles' thigh, just because he wants to, then lets his eyelids drift down close to his cheeks. Just resting his eyes.

"Scott said that when he and Allison first started making out, he kept wolfing out," Stiles says, and Derek's eyelids fly up, so fast he's surprised there's no flap-flap-flap as they retract like broken window shades, just like in the classic cartoons. "Not all the way, so he could hide it, but it really freaked him out."

"I'm sorry, did you just bring up your best friend's sex life?" he asks. "While we're in bed? Naked?"

Stiles props his head up on his hand. "Would you prefer it if I brought it up while we're hanging out with Isaac?"

Derek sighs. "Did you have a point?"

"Kind of? I mean, apparently after he got a hang of everything, it wasn't a problem. Which is a seriously good thing, considering how often those two used to go at it."

Derek blows out a harsh, pointed breath. If Scott's having any problems with control, Derek has to consider it his business, even if Scott doesn't. But he's really not that interested in rehashing Scott's first Your Werewolf Body and You moments, not when the situation's already been dealt with.

Stiles huffs back at him. "I was just wondering, okay? Because I thought it was a control thing. But, uh, you've totally done that shake-the-whole-house-down growl twice now with me. I'd love to credit that to my whole sex-god persona, but you're pretty much the last person I'd ever expect to lose control."

"I'm not going to shift during sex," Derek says, tightening his grip on Stiles' leg in a way that's probably more reassuring to him than it is to Stiles. He makes himself ease back. "I'm not a danger to you in that way. If anything, the bigger issue is whether I'll be able to or not. I mean, if something attacks us and I need to shift."

"That you seriously consider it a possibility that something will attack us while we're having sex says more about my life than I want it to," Stiles says. Derek flinches. Stiles immediately tweaks his nipple. "Hey. Stop it. I'm over the pity party, so you can relax. What I want now is for you to explain what you mean about not being able to shift."

"I thought you figured out all this stuff when you were helping Scott."

Stiles shrugs. "Trial and error works wonders, dude, but that doesn't mean I understand the finer details."

Derek runs his fingers up Stiles' leg, fluffing up the hair, enjoying the satisfying crinkle it makes while he thinks. "You worked on getting him to control his heart rate, even when he was angry, right?"

"Yeah, until we figured out that Allison was the solution to everything." A grin flashes across his face. "Oh, man, you would have loved what I had him do until we got to that point, though. I even tied him up and lobbed lacrosse balls at his face until he couldn't take it anymore."

Derek snorts at the image. "Not exactly the kind of balls I like coming at my face."

Stiles groans. "That was terrible. And distracting. Don't distract me, Derek. Explain."

"The hard part about the shift is learning to do it when you want to," Derek says quietly. "It's not just getting your heart rate up, or else you'd wolf out every time you went for a run. It's finding the right focus, the right emotions. Too much aggression, you can't release the wolf, to the point you become mindless. If you're too calm, too afraid, if you're in too much pain, then you're powerless."


He can hear Stiles thinking, his breath catching and releasing as he puts the pieces together. "You're saying I make you powerless."

It's true, but neither of them wants Derek to say it.

"I use anger as my focus," he confesses. Just thinking it, about why that particular emotion is always in reach, is enough to get him back in control. "It's really hard to stay angry when you've just made me come my brains out."

Stiles blushes. Then he clears his throat. "Am I supposed to feel bad about that, or...?"

"It's my problem, not yours." He clenches his jaw, so tightly it he has to work to relax it enough that he can speak. "I'll figure it out."

"By learning how to be angry when we have sex," Stiles says flatly. "Yeah, that sounds like an awesome solution. Great plan, I'm totally on board."

Derek doesn't say anything. He doesn't know what to say; there's no other solution, not if they want to keep doing this, and Derek's not strong enough to put a stop to it yet.

Stiles sighs. "So if you're not about to go all fangy, what's the deal with the growls?"

"There is no deal with the growl," Derek says, even though his own face is heating, remembering why he'd done it, how Stiles had blown him, worked him into a frenzy, and then tentatively pushed a finger into Derek's ass for the first time. "It just feels good. Like how you cry out when you come."

"So you choose to do it." Stiles smiles smugly. "Because of me."

"Sue me for enjoying myself a little," Derek says gruffly. "You're the first person I've been with who I knew was aware of the existence of werewolves."

"You are so touchy. I wasn't complaining at all." Stiles leans closer, so that his head's right above Derek's and he's looking directly into his eyes. "Also, that was a really strange way of putting it."

Fuck. He shouldn't have said what he did, should have said the only one I've been with who knows what I am, but sex has always made him stupid. More than that, there's something about Stiles that compels the honesty out of him, makes him want to spill all his secrets, share every scrap of knowledge that Stiles so obviously thirsts for.

"You're the one with a silver tongue, not me." Derek shoves Stiles off of him, tumbling him over onto his back so that Derek ends up mostly on top. "Do you want to make me do it again? I bet you could, if you fucked me."

Stiles' eyes go wide. He swallows visibly. "You mean...?"

"Stick your cock up my ass," Derek murmurs, leaning in close so the words puff against Stiles' cheek. "Fuck me until I can't see straight, until I lose my mind and howl."

"But I've never...." Stiles licks his lips. He's fully hard again, digging into Derek's belly, slippery with need already. "You want me to do that?"

"I've wanted it since before that night in the alley," Derek says. "Wanted it even more after I saw your cock."

"Oh, my God." Stiles looks down the length of their bodies. "Right now? Are you sure? You're not even close to hard yet."

"I don't have to be. You want to do it?" He pulls back once he sees Stiles' jerky nod, slides to the side so he can lie face down, cheek resting against the backs of his hands. "Use a condom if you want to. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other."

Stiles sets a hand lightly on the small of Derek's back. His thumb strokes once, twice, then he turns away, leaning over to grope for the lube.

Derek closes his eyes and lets himself take a deep, grateful breath.

One of the books that survived the fire is a tall, thin, hardcover book whose pages are filled with water-stained illustrations. Peter says it's just fairy tales, and not even good ones at that, but Derek can't say for sure that he's telling the truth because the script is one he doesn't know how to read. Cyrillic, maybe, all elegant swoops and stuck-out bits.

He's dithering over whether to take it to Stiles, wondering if maybe he can figure out how to feed the words into Google, when Peter comes up behind him and tucks his chin over Derek's upper arm.

"I like the one with the wolf," Peter says. "The illustrator did an especially good job with the blood dripping from its teeth."

"You do realize you're basically a parody of yourself at this point," Derek says. He thinks about shoving his elbow back into Peter's gut. Sex with Stiles has made Derek a lot less touch-starved than he was, but what they do together isn't family, isn't pack, so even though Peter's warmth makes Derek's skin crawl, he never gets around to pushing him away.

"Hmm." Peter sighs, his breath gusting enough to lift the corner of one page, and then he steps back of his own accord. "You know you could say that about yourself, don't you? You can do all the huffing and puffing you want, but that's not going to make you the Big Bad Wolf."

"Do you have a point, or are you just bored and taking it out on me?"

"A little of both, actually." Peter smiles tightly. "I'm tired of waiting, Derek. Do you actually have a plan for our pathetic little pack? Any plans at all? Surely you have something stashed up those tight sleeves of yours. Somewhere."

"I don't hear any impressive ideas coming from you," Derek snarls. "And you know everything I do."

"Everything, really?" Peter snorts. "What about young Stilinski? I might not be quite right in the head, Derek, but I'm not blind. You can't be spending that much time on him just to get a piece of that ass. Please tell me there's a grand plan."

The only reason he doesn't toss Peter across the room is because he just bought that coffee table, damn it, and he knows Peter would find a way to land on it, rules of physics be damned. Digging his nails into the soft flesh of Peter's throat is just as satisfying, but he knows he's taken it a step too far the second Peter's eyes go wide, right before the skunk-bitter smell of fear pours out of him. Derek lets him go and takes a step back, disgusted with the both of them.

"Figure out some other way to relieve your boredom," he says, snatching the book of fairy tales off the desk. "I've heard masturbation works wonders."

Peter's chuckle follows him all the way to the Camaro, until Derek turns the radio up full blast, but even then he can't chase Peter's words out of his head. Fuck him, he tells himself. What he's doing with Stiles is fine. They haven't exchanged any promises. Derek isn't leading him on, isn't trying to control him in any way, isn't trying to use him for his own means. Peter's words are nothing, just another dig used to get at Derek's head, but Derek's not going to let them mess with him.

He's not.

"Wow," Stiles says for the fifth time since Derek handed him the book. Each time makes Derek preen a little inside, even though Stiles' fascination has fuck all to do with Derek himself. "Man. Look at the way the ink sits on the page. I think this whole thing was done by hand. Like an illuminated manuscript, you know? Not that nearly that old, but still all kinds of cool."

Derek sighs and rearranges the pillow behind him. Preening aside, he's starting to feel a little silly, lounging on Stiles' bed in his underwear while Stiles sits at his desk, shirt off, one sock off, fully engrossed in the book. They'd started out really well, exchanging deep, needy kisses while Stiles attacked Derek's clothes, moaning out a list of things he wanted to do tonight. Right up to the point when he realized Derek had brought him something to look at. Something he classified as 'cool as shit.'

"Oh, wow," Stiles breathes as he turns the page. "Is this supposed to be a werewolf? I mean, it's super cool, but again with the whole monster propaganda bit."

"I think it's just a wolf, but that's why I brought it to you," Derek says. "Do you think you can figure out a translation?"

"Eh, maybe. I'll have to scan it in and then run it through the Google translator. Most of it'll probably come out garbage, but it's worth a shot." He frowns. "Can I show this to Lydia? If she deigns to talk to me, that is. I know this isn't Ancient Latin, but maybe she got bored this summer while she was busy getting over Jackson and picked up something new."

"Is that why you haven't been talking about her much?" Derek asks before he can stop himself. "Because of Jackson?"

"What?" Stiles looks over to him, but his eyes are focused somewhere else. Probably still on the book, maybe considering Lydia's translation genius. "I haven't been talking about Lydia because there isn't anything to talk about. I mean, the avoiding me thing isn't anything new, but there's only so many anvils to the head a guy can take before he either gets the picture or has to check himself in somewhere, if you know what I mean."

Derek grunts. Stiles doesn't seem particularly broken up about the dissolution of his dream, so Derek doesn't feel particularly guilty about being glad he appears to be over her. It's not healthy to be that obsessed with someone; Derek knows that from experience.

"Are you really going to spend the rest of the night looking at some pretty pictures?" he asks. "I'm starting to regret bringing it over."

Stiles finally turns around, grin spreading over his face. The force of his full focus is a heady thing, making Derek want to stretch out and show off, maybe palm his dick until Stiles' mouth drops open and he can't look away. "Awww," he croons. "Is the mighty alpha jealous of a book? That's kind of adorable, dude."

"I'm not jealous," Derek says. "I just thought I'd remind you I don't actually have to be here."

Stiles laughs softly as he stands up. "Oh, I think you do," he says, toeing off his second sock before he pushes his shorts and underwear down, leaving him naked at last. "I think there's nowhere else you'd rather be."

Derek's cheeks start to burn at the truth of that. "Actually, I've got a stack of dirty laundry that's trying to take over the loft, but I'm taking it upon myself to donate a few minutes to your cause."

"Uh-huh." Stiles gives his hardening cock a perfunctory stroke before he drops his hand down further, cupping and rolling his balls. "Sure you can, dude. What if I've decided I'm not really in the mood?"

"I'm not in the mood for teasing," Derek growls. "Get the fuck over here or I'll show you how not in the mood I am."

"Mmm," Stiles says, reaching up to tweak his own nipple. "You know, I'm kind of impressed by the way you make it sound like a threat. 'Oooh, Stiles, if you don't get over here so I can give you the most amazing orgasms of your life, I'm gonna....' What, rip out my throat with your teeth?"

Spit floods Derek's mouth, so fast he has to swallow again and again to keep from vomiting. "It wasn't a threat," he manages to get past the tightness in his throat. "You don't have to do anything, I wouldn't make you, I swear."

"Hey, whoa, relax," Stiles says, holding up both hands in a peace offering. "I didn't think it was. We were just joking around, right? I was teasing you, you were teasing me, it's all good."

Derek nods. Of course it was just a joke, a stupid one.

One he started himself by ordering Stiles to have sex with him.

"Yeah, right, of course." He nods again, but he's lightheaded, his stomach sloshing with every movement of his eyes. He stands up, edging towards the door, not sure where he's going but needing to get there now. "I, uh, need a drink of water. I'll be right back."


He shakes his head and hightails it out the door, down the stairs towards the kitchen. The glasses are on the bottom shelf of the cabinet to the right of the sink, but suddenly the thought of adding more liquid to the mess in his gut makes him turn towards the back door. He slips outside, wanting some fresh night air to clear his head.

The air helps. Not enough, though, and he takes another step forward, then another. Somehow he never manages to slow his feet. He just keeps going, sticking to the shadows enough to hide his bare skin, not stopping until he's all the way home.

Isaac drops his phone in his lap the next day, face giving nothing away, but his scent is full of unsettled things, the rotting onion smell of nervous sweat and the sharp metal scent hungry old people get in the winter. Derek wants to reassure him, but by the time he thinks to get up out of bed in order to give him a quick squeeze on the shoulder, Isaac has given up, heading back down the stairs.

Derek sighs, then picks up the phone and makes himself scroll through the string of messages from Stiles.

Hey. Did you seriously just take off? WTF?

I'm sorry, okay? I really don't think you'd force me to do anything. Not sexually, anyway.

Shit. That probably didn't help. I just meant we've had our rough patches in the past, what with the whole exchanging of threats and stuff, but we're good now, right?

Derek. Please just let me know you're okay. Otherwise I'm gonna call Scott and get him to do the whole St. Bernard routine.

So I'm a complete dumbass. Just found your phone. In your jeans. Which you left on my floor. I'm gonna send this with Isaac based on the assumption you're not actually dead.

Please call me when you get this?

Derek rolls over onto his stomach as he goes through the texts, pressing his face into his pillow until he's only using one eye to read. He types out his response one-handed, a quick I'm fine. Then he shoves his phone in the drawer of the nightstand and stuffs his head under his pillow.

Maybe he'll get lucky and suffocate in his sleep.

"I received a very interesting threat from Stiles just now," Peter says the next afternoon while Derek's in the middle of his third set of pushups. "Apparently if I've 'done' anything to you, he'll tie me down with a wolfsbane rope and see if he can use just a cigarette lighter to burn all the hair off my body before it starts to grow back."

Derek grunts, impressed, as always, by Stiles' inventiveness.

"I'd really prefer if you two left me out of your kinky pain-play fantasies," Peter continues, because of course he goes there. "So could you please let him know you're all right?"

Derek grunts again, but Peter doesn't slink off into the shadows like Derek had hoped. Instead, he simply waits in the corner of the room, holding himself easily in his low crouch, watching while Derek finishes his set.

"Fine," Derek finally snaps, rolling over to his back. "I'll take care of it. Later."

"See that you do," Peter says, forgetting, as he often does, who the alpha in this pack really is, but since he moves off to the kitchen, Derek doesn't call him on it.

Instead, he swipes his hand over his sweaty brow, and thinks about Peter's request. He doesn't doubt Stiles would do something so casually cruel, if the situation demanded it, but this one doesn't. All Stiles has to do is ask Isaac, or even Scott, to find out that Derek's alive and kicking. If he escalates things with Peter, Derek will say something then.

Hopefully, the urge to vomit every time he thinks about asking anything of Stiles will have passed by then.

I get that you're mad. I'm sorry. Could you at least tell me if there's something I can do to fix it?

Derek considers that one for a long time before he finally sends a response. I'm not mad. Don't worry about it.

He's surprised, but relieved, that Stiles doesn't text him again after that. Not for another day. This one hurts, but he's pretty sure it's for the best.

Talk about anvils, right? You're throwing them with both hands right about now. So yeah, going to leave you alone, promise. Just. Be safe, okay? Bye.

The werewolf sneaking up on him isn't being all that sneaky about it, though it does approach from downwind. Derek spares one more glance at the doors of the station, making sure there's still no sign of the sheriff heading out, then crouches down, readying himself for the attack.

The wolf heaves itself over the lip of the building, rolling across the roof before it comes up into a crouch directly in front of Derek, familiar dark curls flopping across his forehead.

"God damn it, Scott." Derek spares him a disgusted glare before he turns back to his watch. "You almost got yourself killed."

"Yeah, well, I wouldn't write me off just yet," Scott snaps. Derek doesn't have to look back at him to feel the anger bleeding out of his aura; he's pissed enough that the emotion raises the hairs on the back of Derek's neck, instincts sending a constant pulse of danger, danger to his body. "I can't believe you. If you're going to break up with Stiles, at least have the balls to actually tell him why."

Derek clenches his jaw. At least that question's answered, although it hardly matters now whether or not Scott knows about them. It's been a week since Derek ran from Stiles' house like the coward he is, three days since Stiles texted him that goodbye message. It's over. Done with.

Hopefully before he managed to completely fuck Stiles up.

"He knows why," Derek says. "It's not— I'm not good for him, okay? I'm sure you've told him that yourself."

Scott sighs. Some of the anger drops away from him, enough that Derek doesn't feel the need to protect himself when Scott moves up next to him at the lip of the building Derek's chosen to camp out on for tonight's watch.

"We fought about it, when he first told me," Scott says quietly. "But Stiles always knows what he wants, and nothing gets in his way when he decides to go after it."

That, in Derek's experience, is nothing but the truth. It doesn't excuse the fact that Derek gave in to Stiles when he should have known better, though.

"Also, you're a complete dumbass if you think Stiles understands why you broke up with him," Scott continues. "Which doesn't really surprise me, but come on. Can't you even try to be less of a butthole than normal?"

Derek swallows. "There's nothing I could say to make it better."

Scott shakes his head so hard Derek's tempted to make a joke about floppy ears and wet dog smell, and that's just another horrible sign that he let Stiles get way too far inside his head. Especially when he can still hear the glee in Kate's voice as she taunted him about Laura's death, the delight she'd taken in coming up with the cruelest dog jokes he'd ever heard.

"You're so wrong," Scott says. "Look. I know you don't like Allison, but hear me out, okay?"

Derek grunts.

"I think I fell in love with Allison the first time I heard her voice," Scott says. Derek rolls his eyes, but he keeps his mouth shut. "Maybe that's crazy, but that's just how I feel. I love her so much it hurts sometimes. When she broke up with me after what happened with Jackson and the others, it felt ten times worse than when Gerard stabbed me in the gut. Like, I could literally feel pain stabbing into my stomach."

"Literally. Really."

"Yes, really, so shut up and listen." Scott huffs. "It hurt me, okay, but I understood why she had to do it. I could see it on her face when she talked to me, how messed up and confused she was about everything that had happened to her. How freaked out she was about everything she'd done. Breaking up wasn't about me, it was about helping her. And I'd do anything to help Allison, because I love her. Even if it means I can never be with her the way I want to again. Do you get that?"

Derek nods slowly. He doesn't want to hear what Scott's saying under all those words, but it's too late. This stupid kid's insight has already crept under his skin.

"Just talk to him, Derek. Please. If he was ever anything more to you than a way to get your rocks off, then you owe it to him."

The light in Stiles' bedroom goes on about an hour after Derek follows the sheriff home. Over the next half hour there's the sound of fingers striking the keyboard, the occasional shuffle of feet against the floor and the creaking of the chair. Other than that, Stiles is quiet. For all of his energy, for all the way he can fill a room with his witty observations and endless store of information, when Stiles is alone he's incredibly self-contained.

It had startled Derek when he first realized it, made him wonder if one of those versions of Stiles was a front, but no, like so many other things about Stiles, that duality is just part of who he is. A constant contradiction that keeps Derek guessing. More than that: keeps Derek fascinated.

All he has to do right now is slip inside the house, like he has so easily before, and tell Stiles it's over, that Derek's sorry but all his worries and reservations were right on the money. Scott was right; he owes Stiles that much.

The thing is, though. Derek never really intended to stop doing whatever it was they were doing. He just needed some space, some time away from the awful realization of that moment. But one day stretched to the next stretched to a week, filled with Stiles' assumptions and his own knowledge that what they were doing was so very wrong....

He needs to turn the accidental end of this into something that's final. He knows that.

Just, maybe. Not tonight.

Isaac gives him a funny look when Derek gets back to the loft, the kind of look that says he knows all about Scott's ambush and is dying to know how it turned out. Derek's been on the wrong end of funny looks plenty of times before and he's sure this time won't be the last, so he just returns it with a blank one of his own, then heads straight up to his bedroom, and the refuge of his bed.

Get down here now.

That's all the text says. Derek frowns, glancing again at Peter's name before it penetrates that's something's wrong. At this time of day Peter should be watching the coffeehouse to make sure—

A second text comes through, an image and nothing else. Derek has to stare at the pale blue mass for a second before it resolves itself into Stiles' Jeep, upside down, driver's side door crumpled in.

Derek doesn't remember making the drive from his loft to the coffee shop. The first thing to penetrate the fog is the sight of the Jeep. He hits the brakes, skidding to a stop along the curb, throws the gear shift into park, and somehow remembers to turn off the engine.

The Jeep is upside down in the ditch across the road from the coffee shop.

Derek suddenly realizes he stopped a full block away from it. All his instincts tell him to run, to get to Stiles' side as fast as he can, but he's stuck in slow motion, one foot stumbling ahead of the other, caught in the same molasses trap he'd foundered into when he first spotted Laura's body.

"I swear by all that's holy that I'm fine," Stiles says, and Derek stops, jerking his head around to zero in on that voice. Stiles is standing in the parking lot on the opposite side of a sloppily parked cruiser, held securely in place by his dad's hands on his shoulders. "I was in the cafe when it happened, I told you that. You can stop freaking out now."

Derek sees the sheriff's shoulders slump, his back heave with relief, but the sigh he hears is his own. He takes a moment to look around, finally noticing the second cruiser and the crowd of people gathered outside the shops. The deputy isn't one he recognizes, but Derek's still thankful she's focused on Stiles instead of looking around at the crowd. He takes a step back, then another, until he's out of her possible line of sight. He knows he should probably get out of here while he can, but his heart is still pounding and he feels a little light-headed. Another minute won't hurt.

Stiles' head comes up, turning just enough to look directly at him. It's only for a second, but his eyes widen and he takes a sharp breath before he turns back to his father.

"No, really, I'll be fine here for a little while," Stiles tells his dad. "I want to stick around until they come for my baby, make sure they treat her right. I'll get a ride home with somebody."

Stiles' eyes flick towards Derek again, and he knows he's caught.

He retreats to the Camaro, taking a moment to repark it in a way that won't earn him a ticket if the sheriff or his deputy notices him. Then he stares at the Jeep, trying to figure out what the hell happened. It looks like something rammed into it, tumbled it clear across the road and into the ditch, but if Stiles had parked like he usually does, angled alongside the other cars in front of the glass window, then that doesn't make much sense. Any vehicle would have had to come from inside the building, somehow manage to avoid touching the car beside the Jeep, and turn the damn thing around before shoving it across the street.

The orange juice in his stomach turns to battery acid. Whatever did this, it wasn't anything that runs off gasoline.

About thirty or forty minutes pass before his passenger door opens and Stiles slips inside. Derek just stares at him. He's wearing the thin red henley that molds to his chest so well, and Derek thinks he's gotten his hair cut recently because it doesn't seem quite as fluffy as Derek remembers. He looks good, except for the dark circles under his eyes.

"Are you okay?" Derek asks before he can stop himself.

Stiles rolls his eyes. "I'm pretty sure you were there when I said I wasn't inside it when he did it." Stiles scrubs his hands over his head, then flings them out, knuckles rapping against the ceiling of the car. "Ugh. I'm plenty pissed, though. Your uncle better cough up the money for the repair bill, or he's going to be eating wolfsbane for every meal until he does."

"What?" Derek asks. "Peter did this?"

"Yes, Peter did this. Hell, he set up a whole scene. Dude. Why are werewolves so dramatic all the time? Does it have something to do with not being able to get your aggression out in bloody ways? Some sort of evolutionary throwback to when you weren't so civilized as a species?"

"Stiles," Derek grits out. "What the hell did Peter do?"

"He came out of nowhere and bought me a strawberry frappé."


"I'm serious!" His hand smacks into Derek's shoulder when he throws his arms out. "I was just sitting there, working my way through the one I'd bought myself, and he comes up and sets another one down in front of me. I told him I didn't want it, and he said 'you can thank me later.' Then next thing I know, he's out the door and my Jeep is flying across the street."

"Damn it, Peter." Derek drops his head back against the headrest, closing his eyes. Peter did this for him. Well. He probably did it because he thought it'd be amusing, in the way his twisted brain thinks all sorts of horrible things are amusing these days, but he undoubtedly justified it to himself by saying he was doing it for Derek, to get Derek to finally do something about Stiles. "Did anybody see him?"

"That's what you're worried about?" Stiles squawks. "Whether there were witnesses?"

"Yes, that's what I'm worried about!" he snaps back. "Can you not grasp how badly the shit would hit the fan if the whole world found out about werewolves? This exactly the kind of stunt that brings hunters down on us! And fuck, who knows what the alpha pack is going to do now. This might just be what gets them to decide we need to be taken down."

"Right, yeah, of course," Stiles says, voice cracking. He turns his head away so he's staring out his window. "And no. It all happened too quick. Nobody reacted until they heard the crash."

"Okay, good." Derek blows out a breath. "Look, Stiles—"

"Yeah, I got it." Stiles triggers the door handle. "I'll walk, okay? Or maybe I'll call Scott. He owes me after all the times I've picked his ass up from the middle of nowhere."

"Stiles, wait." He grabs Stiles' wrist. Stiles' head jerks around, eyebrows rising, eyes flicking from Derek's hand to his face in a I can't believe you're touching me glare that Derek is self-aware enough to realize is a conscious imitation of himself. He lets go, but he can't resist a parting squeeze. "I'm sorry."

Stiles sighs. "Yeah, well, you can't actually watch Peter one hundred percent of the time. Although, have you considered getting a leash? One of those electronic shock collars, maybe?"

"I don't have a yard to bury the lines in," Derek says, and he's rewarded with a quick, surprised grin. "And I wasn't talking about Peter. I'm sorry I've been a dick. I didn't want to hurt you."

"Obviously we don't always get what we want." Stiles sighs heavily. "I'm sorry too, you know. Sorry I ruined it. I really didn't mean what I said the way you took it, but that doesn't fix what's broken, right?"

"You didn't ruin it," Derek rasps. "I did, before it ever started. Jesus, Stiles. I knew I'd fuck this up. Fuck you up."

"Oh, my God, not this again!" Stiles smacks him in the shoulder. "Can you at least allow me to have a tiny little bit of self determination here? Blah blah blah, experience difference, I get it, okay. And maybe you're right, maybe I'm going to be completely fucked in the head by the time I'm thirty because I let you blow me in my childhood bed."


"Shut up, I'm not done." Stiles sucks in a breath. "I don't know about the future. But right now you're the good thing in my life, Derek. You're the thing that makes me want to get up in the morning and helps keep away the bad dreams at night. And I have plenty of bad dreams, yes siree, but they tend to revolve around awful things happening to people I love and also Peter eating my face. Not us having sex."

Stiles is panting by the time he gets to the end of his rant. Derek feels just as winded. Slightly dizzy. Stiles is looking at him with wide eyes, obviously waiting for Derek's response. The right response, except Derek has no clue what that's supposed to be.

"Right," Stiles says after a moment, his whole body sinking inward as he sighs. "I shouldn't have—"

"Scott came to talk to me," Derek rushes out, and Stiles closes his eyes. "To yell at me for breaking up with you."

"Mortification city, here we come," he says, sotto voce. Then he huffs out a breath and opens his eyes, squaring up to face Derek. "So, if you haven't figured it out yet, Scott has the biggest heart in all of Beacon Hills, but sometimes he doesn't know how to apply it in the best way. I'd apologize for whatever he said, but honestly? I kind of love my best friend for sticking up for me."

"Not, that's not—" Derek closes his mouth and decides to start again. "You shouldn't apologize for Scott. It's good that he cares about you. But I didn't...we weren't supposed to be dating in the first place. It was supposed to be just fucking. Nothing to break up."

Stiles turns his head away fast. "Oh," he says, voice cracking. "Yeah. I knew that."

"Fuck, Stiles, you don't get it at all." Derek runs his thumb over a nick in the leather wrap of the steering wheel. "I've done everything wrong from the beginning. I know I never should have let myself take what you offered, but I just wanted you so much. And you just kept giving, and I kept taking, and now I don't know how to stop."

Stiles shifts in the seat, the leather sighing, the denim of his jeans rasping as his legs brush together, but Derek doesn't look up from his inspection of the steering wheel to know whether that means Stiles is turning towards him or getting ready to leave.

"The only taking you've ever done is this past week, when you took yourself away from me." Stiles' hand appears over his own, hovering for a second before he sets it on top of Derek's, fingers curling to stop his restless picking. "I know I'm too young for you. And I'm kind of weird, and I probably drive you crazy ninety-nine percent of the time. But I like you, Derek. I like what we had together."

Derek spreads his fingers, just enough that Stiles slips into the spaces between, and then he tightens his grip. "Peter sent me a picture of the Jeep. I thought." He swallows, a dizzying wave of memory hitting him. "I thought you were inside. I thought—" He shakes his head, not willing to put that horrible possibility out there where the universe might take note of it.

"Yeah, you've really gotta do something about him," Stiles says softly, but he squeezes his fingers tight against Derek's, tighter than Derek thought a human could be capable of.

So tight it feels like he never intends to let go.

Derek feels disconnected from everything as he follows Stiles into his house, like he has to step extra carefully to make sure his feet don't suddenly forget what they're doing and leave him lying flat on his back, wondering how and why gravity went wrong.

"I just want to check in with my dad real quick," Stiles says as he pauses with his hand on the home phone. "He gets extra clingy when shit like this happens."

Derek nods and takes a few steps away, far enough that it gives Stiles the illusion of privacy. He'd have to take a walk down the block for it to be anywhere near truth; his ears always seem to be tuned in to the pitch of Stiles' voice these days, alert for the distinctive cadence of his words. He drags his finger through the strip of dust along the edge of the bookshelf in front of him, wondering how badly Stiles still resents him for being caught up in all the shit like this that Derek seems to have been cursed with for life.

Not enough to let him go, apparently.

"Oh, my God, seriously?" Stiles reaches out and grabs Derek's hand away from the shelf. "I didn't expect the white-gloved inquisition when I asked you in."

"Sorry," Derek says, pulling back instinctively, but Stiles doesn't let go, just adjusts his grip so they're holding hands, and tugs back. Derek follows where he leads, towards the stairs and on up. "Everything good with your dad?"

"Yeah, he's just a little stressed about insurance and stuff." Stiles shrugs it off, but the look he shoots Derek says he knows he doesn't sound convincing.

"I'll make sure you get the money," Derek says, giving his hand a quick squeeze. "I don't know how to arrange it without making your dad suspicious, but I'll figure it out."

"Thanks. That'll help a lot." Stiles gives him a weak smile as he backs through the door to his bedroom. "But I really don't want to think about that whole situation right now, okay?"

"Whatever you want," Derek says, following him to the bed, allowing himself to be drawn down to sit beside Stiles.

"You know, you say that a lot, but I don't think you actually mean it."

"What?" Derek leans back, frowning. "Of course I mean it."

"Sure," Stiles says, nodding. "Except for the part where I do something that totally freaks you out, and you change the subject, or distract me with sex, or run away and don't speak to me for a whole week."

That's not. He doesn't. Stiles doesn't know. Derek forces his fists flat, forces himself to not react. Stiles is just upset with him because of what happened last time they were in his bedroom.

"I shouldn't have left," he says, but Stiles is shaking his head before he gets the shouldn't out.

"Don't do that." Stiles huffs. "I know I'm young and inexperienced, but that doesn't mean I'm stupid. You don't want to look me in the eyes when we fuck and you get closed off anytime the conversation even edges close to your first time. Which, fine, whatever, but I'd really like to stop stomping all over the bits that hurt just because you won't say 'ow.'"

"It's none of your business," Derek manages to grit out between his clenched teeth.

"I'm going to try to not take that personally," Stiles says slowly. "I'm not asking you to tell me why those things bother you. You can tell me, but I'm not asking. Got it?"

Derek gives a sharp, affirmative jerk of his head. "What is it you want from me, then?"

Stiles sighs, tension easing out of his muscles, and he leans in closer to Derek, pressing his knee into Derek's thigh. "I thought maybe we could go over boundaries. You know, what we like, what we don't, what sends us racing off into the night in our underwear?"

Derek snorts despite himself, because yeah, that was a little bit melodramatic.

"Remind me later to give you back your clothes," Stiles says, lips lifting just a little. "They're wadded up under my bed covered with a layer of dirty socks. Dad proofing, you know?"

"I'm so looking forward to getting them back," Derek says dryly, and Stiles laughs softly.

"Hey, beggars and choosers and all that." Stiles' hand creeps closer to his own, index finger nudging his. "So, boundary talk."

He doesn't hate what Stiles is trying to do, especially when there's such sweet earnestness in his face, in the way he's trying to make things better for Derek. But the guilt is curling tighter around his heart, the weight of another layer a squeezing pressure as it piles on top, this one made out of the knowledge that it's not fair to Stiles to allow Derek to go on this way, hiding the truth of what he's done.

"We did that already," Derek says, the only thing he can think of. "Before."

"Yeah, well, that was mostly about the dick things we'd already done to each other." Stiles licks his lips. "I just thought we could check in on stuff now that we're actually, you know, having sex. Like, you seem pretty happy with blowjobs, giving and receiving. Am I right?"

Derek nods slowly, then changes to shaking his head. "This is backwards," he says. "You shouldn't have to do this for me. Be careful, I mean. It's supposed to go the other—"

Stiles tips his head to the side when Derek cuts himself off, eyebrows drawing together curiously, but Derek can only shake his head, willing him silently to not ask.

It's supposed to go the other way around.

"When my mom got sick," Stiles says, so softly that Derek doesn't think he'd be able to hear him with human ears. "She was exhausted all the time, even when she wasn't feeling nauseated or in pain or whatever. So my dad and I had to learn to pitch in around the house, do a lot of the things that she used to do. And she used to tell me how sorry she was, that it wasn't supposed to be my job to do that kind of stuff."

Derek slides his hand over, enclosing Stiles' and giving it a squeeze. Stiles' breath hitches, but then he shakes his head and goes on.

"I kept telling her it was okay, that it didn't bother me, that I wanted to do it. And that was all true, but I don't think it ever made her feel okay about it. But the thing is, Derek, I needed to do it. It was the only way I felt like I was doing anything to help her. Maybe that's horribly selfish, but it's the way my brain works, okay? I have to help the people I, uh." Stiles' sudden blush makes Derek suck in a breath. "Care about."

Kate never said it. Derek did, so many times he can't remember them all, but Kate always said aw, you're so sweet, baby or something similar, then used her body to distract him all over again. He knows now it's because I love you is too straightforward a statement, one too emotionally laden, for him to not have heard the lie, but at the time he'd thought it was because he still had to prove to her that he was grown up enough for her. That he was worthy of her love.

He thinks he could get Stiles to say it, doesn't even think it would be hard if Derek himself said it first. Part of him wants to, so badly, if just to know for sure that there's someone out there who feels that way about him. But he'd rather Stiles grow into it, be sure of himself enough to know that it's real.

"You're good at helping," Derek finally says. "Scott's proof of that."

Stiles snorts, his smile draining the blush and easing away the taut lines of uncertainty on his face. "Yeaaah. Honestly, I'm pretty sure on the grand scale of things I've gotten Scott into more trouble than I've gotten him out of. But my record's been inching upwards."

"Luckily for all of us." Derek takes a quick breath and forces the words out before he can think too much about what he's saying. "I have a hard time looking you in the eyes when we're fucking because I'm afraid of how much you'll see."

Stiles swallows loudly. "I kinda figured that, yeah."

"And I freaked myself out last week. You didn't do it."

"Because you were just being your alpha-y self and didn't realize how it sounded until I said something?"

"Yeah, exactly." Derek lets out a heavy breath. Stiles has always been the wrong person for him to get involved with, in myriad ways. "You're too smart sometimes."

"I know. Believe me, I know." Stiles strokes his thumb over the back of Derek's hand. "And the other thing I mentioned is just gonna be something I know to stay far away from. But, uh, is there anything else? It can be anything. Like, were you really okay with the rimming?"

"Yes," Derek growls, ducking his head so he can mouth at the musky-sweet spot at the base of Stiles' skull, just behind the hard curve of his mastoid. Stiles gasps and clutches at him, fingers digging into his shoulders, and it's so hard to pull away, to force himself back to the heavy conversation they've been having. But he does it.

"Rimming's in the plus column for you, got it," Stiles says breathily. "I can live with that."

Derek snorts. He reaches up, laying his palm against Stiles' cheek, indulging himself by rubbing his thumb over that tempting mouth. "Specific acts don't bother me," he says. "But I can't promise you something else won't."

"That's okay," Stiles says, lipping at Derek's thumb. "We'll just take it as it comes."

"I'll try," Derek says, which is as much of a promise he can make. He wants to leave it there, be finished with this conversation so he can dive in and see how much of a mess he can make of Stiles' mouth. "What about you?" he asks instead. "Is there anything I've done that you didn't like?"

"Mmm, the sex stuff has been great. One-hundred percent." Stiles drags Derek's hand off of his face and kisses the center of his palm. "Just. I really hate it when you shut me out. I get that you don't want to tell me stuff, but it hurt so bad when I thought you hated me."

"Christ, Stiles." He tugs Stiles forward, intending to kiss him, but somehow it turns into a hug, a tight, desperate hug the likes of which he hasn't been part of since Laura was alive. He turns his face into Stiles' neck, taking in his wonderful, warm, safe, pack-like smell, until his muscles ease and Stiles relaxes as well.

When they draw back, they laugh, a little embarrassed, but it's okay.

"No shutting you out," Derek says, trying to keep his tone light, even though it's one of the scariest things he's said today. "And no shoving you around. Or smacking you into things. Or grabbing your dick from out of nowhere. Or pissing on you."

"Glad some things sink in, dude." Stiles flushes so strongly the tips of his ears turn pink. "Except. Um. I never said that last one."

Derek blinks. "You don't mind if I piss on you?"

Stiles squirms in front of him, shoulders dipping, hips shifting against the bed. "I wasn't a big fan of the way you did it," he says, gaze darting away from Derek before he forces it back. "But, uh, there was a certain appeal to the experience that I'd be interested in exploring in a different set of circumstances."

"You'd be interested," Derek says, but it's not as flat as he intends, his rising arousal bleeding into his voice.

"Yeah, maybe." Stiles' eyes drop towards Derek's crotch, then rebound up to his face. "Or, uh, maybe I could do it to you."

"Oh, fuck," Derek moans, because yes, the thought of having Stiles' scent all over him, slightly different than his come but just as intimate, is enough to get him springing to attention so fast he has to reach down and adjust himself in his jeans.

"Wow," Stiles says, staring at Derek's hand. "Okay, yes, we are so going to do that sometime. Soon. But not today, damn it, because my dad's going to be home in an hour or so and I am absolutely not going to rush something like that."

"Tomorrow?" Derek asks, and he doesn't even care how desperate he sounds.

"Yeah," Stiles breathes, and then he's the one leading them into a greedy kiss.

Stiles draws the bottom of the shower curtain over the lip of the tub, so that it's out of their way, the space clear for Derek to settle inside. They're both naked already; Stiles had pleaded morning wood syndrome as soon as Derek got to the house, swearing he wouldn't be able to perform if they didn't take the edge off first. Derek hadn't needed any convincing. The quick exchange of handjobs they'd managed to get in yesterday afternoon wasn't nearly enough to sate his need to touch Stiles, to somehow fill up the hunger created by a week apart, so he'd been more than happy to give Stiles a slow, thorough blowjob, tasting as much of Stiles' body as he could before Stiles finally begged Derek to finish him off.

Derek had turned down his offer to reciprocate, and now he's so hard his belly is a slick mess of pre-come, his balls aching from anticipation.

"So, uh." Stiles scratches nervously at the base of his skull. "I guess get in and sit down? And I'll, um, figure out where to stand after you're comfortable."

"Okay." Derek leans into him first, taking another kiss that does nothing to offset his internal deficit. Stiles gives him a sweet smile when he pulls back. Derek rubs his thumb over that smile, then steps back and into the tub.

The porcelain is ice under his bare skin. Derek grits his teeth, waiting out the discomfort until his body can make up for the heat differential. Stiles had offered to run a bath to make things more comfortable for him, but Derek wants it like this, no water to dilute what's about to happen.

"Okay, I'll just." Stiles steps into the tub, between Derek's thighs, his balance wavering badly for a moment before he gets both feet planted, yellow daisy anti-slip stickers squawking under his heels. He turns so his hips are square to Derek, his soft cock right there in front of Derek's eyes. Stiles brings his right hand up, cupping himself, before he lets go again. "I feel like there should be more to this. Before I just do it, you know?"

Derek shifts a little, trying to get his legs settled in a way that doesn't result in the sides of the tub digging into his bones. "What do you want? I could suck you some more, but I thought we'd agreed that'd be counterproductive."

"So is talking about the things you do with your mouth, oh my God." Stiles pinches at his thighs, and Derek snorts. "I don't know. I want to build up to it, but I don't want to get hard, so traditional foreplay is out. Some kind of speech, maybe?"

"A speech." Derek has the sudden urge to cover himself, like he's gotten caught up in one of those awful naked-at-school dreams he used to have before the fire happened.

"Oh, come on, don't look at me that way. I didn't mean something like the president's speech from Independence Day. And oh, awesome, now I'm thinking about Coach Finstock." Stiles frowns down at himself. "At least I don't have to worry about getting hard."

"Stiles," Derek says softly, waiting for him to look up and meet his eyes before he goes on. "We don't have to do this today."

"No! I want to." Stiles sighs. "It's just a little weird, you know? I'm kind of having to talk myself past the whole social conditioning thing."

Obviously that hadn't been a problem for Derek, but it would have been if he'd stopped to think about what he was doing. Staged like this.... Yeah, he'd be uncomfortable. Maybe even nervous.

"Not a speech," Derek says out loud, the idea coming to him in pieces. "Why don't you talk it out, tell me why you want to do it."

"Yeah, that makes sense. It's never good when I try to keep things inside my head." Stiles' gaze travels the length of Derek's body, down to his ankles before coming back up to rest on his groin. "Okay, so. I was so angry when you pissed on me, you know that, right?"

Derek nods, ashamed enough all over again that the ache in his balls eases some, his cock softening like it wants to hide, too.

"Aw, man, that is so totally not what I meant to happen." Stiles drops down into a squat, laying his hands against Derek's sides, thumbs moving in soft, teasing sweeps. "I said that because I want you to realize I know when something you do is wrong, okay? I'm not going to let you push me around without pushing back."

"Okay," Derek says, reaching up to touch Stiles' cheek. "Go on. Tell me what you're thinking."

"I'm thinking I could spend all day playing with your cock," Stiles says, curling one hand around Derek's dick, the other reaching down to play with his balls. He pets and strokes until Derek is hard again and rocking into his grip, and then he lets go and stands back up. "Squatting in a tub, not so much."

Derek groans a little, reaching down to replace the heat of Stiles' hand with his own. He doesn't stroke, just holds himself, watching Stiles watch him.

"You're so hot," Stiles says. "Anyway. That night, I was angry, but it was almost like background noise once I saw your dick. That's all I was really thinking about at first, that I was getting to see your dick. Not like I wanted, yeah, but it was a hell of a lot closer than I ever thought I'd get."

Derek swallows to make room for the heavy air filling his throat. Maybe it's weird, how much Stiles likes to talk about his dick, almost fetishizes it like it's a thing separate from Derek, but none of his other lovers have ever had the excitement for his penis that Stiles does. They only wanted it to get them off, or to use it to get Derek off. Not just to enjoy touching and playing with, the same way Stiles does with the rest of his body. It makes him want to do everything he can to please Stiles, makes him push his cock forward, showing it off before he drags the foreskin down so Stiles can see how red and wet he is.

"Fuck, yes." Stiles closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before he opens them again. "I gotta do this soon or I'm gonna lose it."

"Then do it," Derek says. He's more than ready, back to aching again. "I'm ready. You know I want it. I want to smell like you, Stiles. In every way possible."

"Jesus. Yeah, okay." He cups his soft dick and aims it at Derek.

Nothing happens.

Stiles lets out a little whimper. "I drank five glasses of water earlier," he says. "Believe me, I have to go. Any second now. Gonna go. Right now."

"You need to relax," Derek says. "Tell me more about that night."

"I can do that." He closes his eyes again, but he doesn't let go of his cock, cradling it protectively to his groin. "It was.... Okay, don't laugh at me."

"I won't."

"I could smell you, and that was weird, I don't know. Not really what did it for me." Stiles cracks one eye open, peering down at Derek. "Not that you're weird for liking it. No judgement, dude."

"I'm a werewolf," Derek says, shrugging. "It's different for us."

"Yeah," Stiles says, both eyes open now. "But, uh, I really liked the implications of it. That you were marking me. Not just claiming me, but." He swallows, the color rising on his cheeks again. "This is totally out there, but it was like you were saying that you were the only one allowed to dirty me up. And once I went up and showered off, it was like...."

"Like?" Derek asks, breathless with the need to know.

"Like all the other bad stuff got washed away, too."

"Jesus, Stiles," Derek says. He grips his cock tight, his own eyes wide as he stares at the sincerity—the trust—in Stiles' eyes. "Please. Please do it. I want you to. I want all that, I want you to mark me as yours, I want—" The rest of it chokes up in his throat, but God, he wants what Stiles said, for Stiles to be the one who's dirtied him, ruined him. Not anyone else.

"Oh, God, here it comes," Stiles says, and then the first burst of piss is shooting out, hitting right across Derek's cock before Stiles takes a breath and readjusts his aim. He starts high, just below the hollow of Derek's throat, and the smell is so strong, so very Stiles, that he can't hold back and just take it. He starts jerking his own cock, fast and ruthless, while the piss streams down Derek's chest, over his belly, catching in the hair around his cock, wetting his hand.

"Oh, wow," Stiles says. His stream has started to slow, so Derek speeds up, needing to come while it's still hot on his skin. "You're mine now. That's how it works, right? I've marked my territory just like a wolf and now you're mine."

Derek arches his hips up off the floor of the tub and comes. Hard. He doesn't know if the words are just a game to Stiles, if they're some kind of roleplay fantasy, but they sound like truth to Derek's ears. His muscles curl tight, straining to force pulse after pulse out of his balls, the pleasure ripping out of him so hard it feels like something breaks inside of his skull. It's a relief once the height of it passes, once he can finally unclench and let himself drop back against the tub, his body shaking slightly in the aftermath.

"Holy shit," Stiles breathes. "That looked like it hurt. Are you okay?"

Derek waves his hand lazily, then sticks his thumb up. "Good, great, fuck, Stiles, give me a minute."

Stiles laughs. "Okay, man. Take your time. I'm just gonna get the water warmed up so nothing shrivels up and drops off when we shower."

"No, wait." Derek pushes himself up to his knees with more energy than he thought he had, catching hold of Stiles' hip just as he's turning away. "Don't. Not yet."

Stiles looks back over his shoulder. "Are you sure? Please tell me you're not going to skip the shower."

Derek rolls his eyes. "It's not going to hurt anything if I wait a couple more minutes to clean up," he says, tugging more firmly this time. Stiles finally turns back around, so that his cock is right there, firming up nicely as Derek stares at it. "Let me take care of you first."

"Uh, okay. If that's what you want, I'm not going to complain."

There are a couple drops of piss still clinging to the head, and Derek licks them off carefully, rolling the salty taste around on his tongue. Stiles sucks in a breath, then his fingers sink into Derek's hair and he pulls him forward, request clear. Derek closes his eyes and dips his head, taking Stiles' cock all the way in, sucking until it fills his mouth and throat, forcing him to pull back to find room to breathe.

"How are you so beautiful?" Stiles says. He strokes his fingers through Derek's hair. "So broken and beautiful, and mine."

Derek lets out a whine and then dives back in, taking Stiles as far down his throat as he can manage. He's wild with his own need to make Stiles feel good, to make him go crazy, and it's not long before Stiles' thighs are quivering with tension, his hips shifting with tiny, aborted thrusts. Derek would grab onto his ass, coax Stiles to give in and fuck his mouth, but there's no time. Stiles is already making those uh-uh-uh sounds that mean he's close, so Derek pulls off, switching to his hand instead.

"Come on, Stiles," Derek says, his voice harsh, overused from the drag of Stiles' dick. "Do it. Finish the job."

Stiles groans loudly, and then he's coming. Derek angles Stiles' cock just right so that the spurts land on his cheek and lips, even the hair at his temples.

"Oh, holy fuck," Stiles says as Derek eases him down. He's staring down at Derek with impossibly wide eyes, the honey gold of his irises nothing more than a luminous ring around the dark pupils. He slowly brings his hand up, and it's shaking slightly as he reaches out, barely touching the tips of his fingers to the wetness on Derek's cheek. "Holy crap, Derek."

"You made a mess of me," Derek says, holding Stiles' gaze. "I'm your mess."

"That you are," Stiles says softly. He hooks his hands under Derek's shoulders, urging him upwards. "Come on, then. Let's get you clean."

Stiles' bed is, as always, too small for two grown men to share with any degree of comfort, but Derek loves the way it forces them together, forces them to hold onto each other as they laze away the intensity of what they did in the shower. Kate never let him have this. There was always some excuse: a call she needed to take, some place she had to be, his curfew edging closer and oh, sweetie, don't you want to get cleaned up before you go home?

At the time, he'd hated the way she never seemed to want to be close to him outside of sex. Now he's intensely grateful, because holding Stiles like this, being held by him, is something that she can't taint. It's something that's theirs alone.

"You okay?" Stiles asks. "Not trying to harsh the mood, but it's just you haven't said anything in like twenty minutes and I want to make sure I didn't actually break anything important."

Derek snorts. "You mean my brain?"

"Well, I was thinking more like your tongue, but yeah, we can go with that, too." His smile crinkles the corners of his eyes. "So was that a yes?"

"Yes, I'm okay." It's true, in a way that makes him want to clench up and start worrying about all the things he needs to worry about—the alpha pack, Peter, the hunters, his relationship with Scott, whether Erica and Boyd and Jackson are okay—but he's wrung out, exhausted and sated and something close to happy. Those things will still be there for him to deal with when he leaves this room, so for the moment, he can indulge himself, take a little time to dip his head and nuzzle under Stiles' jaw.

"Okay, it's good that you're okay." Stiles laughs a little bit, then pushes Derek back. "That tickles."


"Yeah, right. I know you better than that." Stiles taps the end of Derek's nose, sending Derek cross-eyed as he tries to keep track of the offending finger. "You might think you're all stealthy and mysterious, but I'm on to you, bud."

Derek snorts, then nips at the tip of Stiles' finger. Stiles giggles and bats at his face, but they're both too mellow to turn it into anything more energetic. They settle back down on the pillow together, but what Stiles said has him thinking, his brain latching on to the question that's been nagging at him for months now.

"How do you always know when I'm around?" he asks. "At first I thought maybe you had some kind of phone tracking app, so that it'd alert you whenever it got close. But I saw you at the coffeeshop. You were totally focused on your dad, and then all of a sudden you looked right at me."

Stiles' face goes still. Not in a closed off way, but as if he's been surprised by a puzzle and now has to work out the solution before time runs out on the clock. "You're going to think it's weird and really out there."

"Stiles," Derek says. "I'm a werewolf. You've got to stop saying that."

"Point taken." Stiles sighs. "I wasn't even sure it was a real thing at first. I didn't see you for so long after the attack on the station that I thought I was imagining it. Sort of a wish fulfillment kind of thing, you know?"

"Wish fulfillment?" Derek asks, eyebrows rising. "I thought you were pissed off at me that whole time."

"Yeah, well, the human brain is capable of maintaining conflicting feelings at the same time, so shut up." His lips twitch, belying his huffy tone. "Do you want to hear about this or not?"

"I do." Derek curls his hand around the back of Stiles' neck, fingers resting on the thin line of rougher tissue that still hasn't quite faded away. He's not sure if that means the kanima left a permanent scar, or if humans just take that long to heal. "It happened after the attack on the station?"

"Like I said, I didn't really see you much after that so I can't say for certain, but that's the only thing that makes sense." Stiles sucks in a huge breath. "After the Argents attacked, I thought for sure my dad...." He shakes his head. "I had to get to him, okay? Scott left me in the lounge and I still couldn't really move, but somehow I forced myself to do it anyway."

"Because that's what you do," Derek says, stroking his thumb soothingly through Stiles' hair. "You find ways to get things done that nobody else can."

Stiles drops his gaze. "Yeah, well, it didn't really work that time. I made it to lockup, but then Matt hit my dad and I couldn't do anything! I needed, so much, for somebody to get there to save him." He takes another deep breath. "And then you were there."

Derek shakes his head. He'd known at the time that the sheriff and Melissa McCall were both in the line of fire, but his priority had been the kanima. And he hadn't even been able to do anything, not as sluggish as he was from the venom. Scott was the one who'd saved the day.

"Don't shake your head. I know you weren't trying to help him specifically, but that doesn't matter. It was enough." Stiles reaches up and draws Derek's hand down, mouthing at his knuckles. "The point is, I've kinda sorta been able to know when you're close by since then. And, uh, it got stronger after you pissed on me."

"You're sure?" Derek asks, wracking his brain for every legend he's read, every rumor, every story he heard when he was a kid, but nothing really fits. Nothing except what he himself has felt for months now.

"Yes, I'm sure," Stiles says, eyes searching his own. "What are you thinking? Tell me now, or I'm going to freak out."

"It's nothing to freak out about. At least, it wouldn't be for me." Derek frowns. There's a good possibility that Stiles will be pissed about it, reject him the same way that Scott has, over and over again.

"Derek. Now."

He sighs. "It sounds like a pack bond. Not as strong as it is for werewolves, but it never is for human members."

"A pack bond?" Stiles asks, voice rising sharply. "I'm a part of your pack?"

Derek hesitates. "Not if you don't want to be. In the end, it always comes down to conscious choice."

Stiles arches an eyebrow. "Buuuut?"

"But sometimes the magic doesn't listen to the head." Derek looks down to where Stiles is still cradling his hand. "Scott still feels like mine, part of my pack, even though he doesn't want to be. You have for a while, too."

"Oh. Okay, that's kinda...heavy, I guess." Stiles is quiet for a while, long enough that Derek starts to feel frozen as he stares at Stiles' hand, trapped where he is as he awaits the hammerfall of Stiles' judgement.

"You're getting all mopey again," Stiles says finally. He nudges his forehead against Derek's and just generally makes himself annoying until Derek's forced to look up and meet his eyes. "It's not a bad thing. I swear. Just...complicated."

"Because of Scott?"

Stiles nods. "Yeah. I can't turn my back on him, you know? He's my brother."

Derek closes his eyes. "I know."

"Oh, my God, you're so dumb about everything," Stiles snaps. Derek has to open his eyes and see what's on his face. "I can't turn my back on you, either, okay? So don't even think I'm rejecting your bond. Or whatever it is that's going on your head, I can't even with you sometimes."

"You don't have to accept it," Derek says, but his heart is already speeding up, responding to a yes when there hasn't been one. "I won't dump you if you don't."

"Well, that's good, because I haven't bought my Team Derek shirt just yet." Stiles kisses him, so soft and open it feels like a promise of so many more afternoons doing exactly this. "Or, I guess maybe I have. It's just hanging up next to my Team Scott shirt. Is that okay? Can we leave it at that for a while, and not have to make it anything more than what it already is?"

"Whatever you want," Derek says, and means it with all of his heart.