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Strong, Stronger, Strongest

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He holds his broken hand cradled against his equally broken body. Every inhalation of breath is a struggle and every exhale brings the unmistakable wet copper taste of blood. It's inevitable now: Stiles is going to die.

He's never going to hug his dad again. Never joke with Scott again. Never hear Lydia genius it up again. He'll never see the Hale house fully renovated, and he's been looking forward to that since Derek admitted he was working on it.

Derek. He'll never see the grumpy werewolf again. And they were just starting to get along. They're maybe even what some would call friends. At least Stiles doesn't have to worry about embarrassing himself in front of him again with his I-want-to-ride-you pheromones or whatever.

Doesn't matter. He's going to die.

He's past pain now; the Alphas have hurt him so badly that he doesn't even feel it anymore. He's floating, losing his mind and his life at the same time. The Alphas seem to think he'll heal. That he's going to turn from the bite one of the twins gave him.

Stiles knows better. He's read up on this stuff. He knows his way around the supernatural and he read only last week that knowingly rejecting one's Alpha this early in the game causes death, not turning.

"What's wrong with him?" he hears. The voice floats above his head like a balloon and he laughs. Tries to laugh, at least. He thinks he has a punctured lung; it's hard to breathe. Maybe one of his broken ribs caused it.

"He's not turning," comes another voice.

There's a tug on the bond. The bond is ugly and greenish-black in Stiles's mind, and he knowingly pushes it away. He doesn't want it, not like this. Not from him or any of them. Maybe not from anyone. (Though he's thought about it, about asking Derek...)

It doesn't matter, there's no choice left. Only death.

"He's rejecting my bite," says someone close to his side. Stiles tries to turn his head away from the sound.

He's dying. The Alphas seem to know this.

"Leave him."

Soon they scatter, and Stiles is left to die alone in a sticky mess.

Derek smells Stiles before he sees him; the thick scent of blood and pain is heavy in the air. He listens and catches Stiles's heartbeat, slow and weak. "This way," he growls to Isaac.

And then they find him.

"Shit," Isaac says. "Is he...?"

"He has a heartbeat," Derek says. It's the only positive thing about this whole mess. He kneels beside Stiles and watches his labored breathing. "Call Deaton. And … the sheriff." If Stiles is going to die, his father deserves to know.

Isaac obeys, then kneels on Stiles's other side. "Do we just leave him here?"

"I'm afraid to move him," Derek admits. "I don't want to make anything worse." Then he sees the bite on Stiles's shoulder, beneath his torn shirt. Derek swears under his breath.

"Is that a bite?" Isaac asks.

Derek nods.

"Then why isn't he turning and healing?" Isaac asks.

Derek hates to admit it when he doesn't know something. He's supposed to be the Alpha. He just shakes his head.

Stiles opens his one good eye. At first, he seems to have trouble focusing, but then his gaze meets Derek's and he lets out a wheeze that Derek supposes is a laugh.

"Don't," Derek says. He feels helpless. When he feels helpless he only knows how to hurt things, but that doesn't apply to this situation.

Stiles's mouth is moving but he can't seem to speak. Derek feels the wrongness of this fact in his bones. Stiles is a talker, and it's not right that he can't get the words out now when it might be his last chance.

"Deaton's on his way. Your dad, too," Derek says.

Stiles was already having trouble breathing, but now it's worse. It seems to be the only thing he can do to argue.

"He needs to be here. You'd want to be there for him if he was in your place," Derek tells him. He can't believe he's arguing with a kid who's almost dead. He suddenly wants to argue with him for the rest of his life, if it'll just keep him here.

They sit there quietly after that, waiting for help to arrive, the only sound Stiles's ragged breathing.

"He's rejecting his Alpha," comes the voice behind them. It's Peter, though how he found them is a mystery.

But what he says makes sense. If Stiles knew to reject the Alpha who bit him- But that would mean he willingly chose to die rather than become a werewolf. For some reason, that hurts.

"Derek," Peter says, a little sharp, "Would you want to be tied to someone who'd done this to you? The boy's obviously been tortured. I know you. You would have chosen the same."

Derek doesn't have an answer to that because damn him, Peter is right.

Deaton and Scott arrive then, but Peter is already giving Derek a possible solution.

"You could bite him and try to get him to accept you," Peter is saying when Deaton rushes in.

"He doesn't want it," Derek says. "He'd rather die." He watches as Deaton checks Stiles over, catches the sad look on his face.

"He's not exactly in shape to tell us his wishes," Peter says. "Bite him if you want him to live. Give him the opportunity to either reject or accept you."

"Doc?" Derek asks, knowing the man will give him a straight answer.

Deaton sighs. "He's right. If you bite him, there's a chance he'll live. But there will be consequences-" He's cut off by the arrival of Stiles's father.

"Stiles?!" The sheriff rushes to his son's side. "Oh, God. What happened? Why isn't the ambulance here yet?"

Deaton and Derek share a look. Deaton says, "That won't do much good."

Stilinski pulls his radio off his belt, but Derek is there before he can use it, pulling it out of his hand. Derek says, "There's not much time to explain. Your son was attacked by a violent pack of werewolves. I don't know if I can save him, but I'm going to try."

"Are you insane?" Stilinski says. "My son is dying! How dare you-"

"Sir," Derek says firmly, and then lets his eyes bleed red and his fangs elongate.

Stilinski blinks. He looks down at his son, taking in the injuries. "He- These are claw marks on his chest, and that's... that looks like a bite. But this is impossible. You're-"

"Derek, it has to be soon," Deaton says, but Derek doesn't need to be told. He can hear the kid's heart stuttering.

"Stiles," Derek says, looking down at Stiles. He looks so vulnerable, so broken. Impossibly young, too young to have had to face this.

Stiles doesn't open his eyes again. He's too close to death. Derek can't even try to explain what he's doing.

He doesn't think it'll work. Stiles would never accept him as his Alpha, even on a good day. He-

"Derek Hale, if you can do something, do it. You save my son," Stilinski says. "Do whatever it takes." There's an implicit threat behind the words.

Derek sits down with his back against the concrete wall and pulls Stiles into his lap as gently as he can. He thinks Stiles will die like this, in his arms. And it's Derek's fault, for involving Stiles in so much of this supernatural bullshit. For thinking of Stiles — too human, too breakable, a perfect target — as an ally. For showing the Alpha pack a weakness.

"Stiles. Accept me. Please," Derek whispers in his ear, and then pulls the tattered shirt aside to bite down over the bite that's already there, trying to reclaim Stiles as his own.

Near-death experiences are supposed to be pleasant. Beautiful. Full of white light and dead loved ones. But Stiles doesn't see anything but blackness.

He can hear, though. Vaguely. Wait, now he can see. He's floating above his body, watching himself die.

Watching Derek Hale cradle him in his arms like a lover and then bite him. What was it he said? Something too soft for Stiles to hear.

Stiles is going to die. He knows this. But Derek-

There's something else. A long, thin, thread-like glimmer of gold running from his body to his … other body. Wait, no, it's running from Derek.

A bond! Stiles's thoughts are so fuzzy, but he remembers he was rejecting the Alpha twin's bond. He remembers now why he was dying, why he'd chosen that way rather than become a pawn, a virtual slave, to a cruel Alpha.

Just like he rejected Peter when he offered him the bite. Because Peter isn't good, and Stiles knows being connected to an Alpha who's corrupted will kill him inside.

But this. This is Derek. Derek, who despite making the wrong decisions, always seems to be doing it for the right reasons. Stiles knows he isn't a bad guy, that at heart he's basically good. He's gruff and violent but he isn't evil.

Seeing him like this, holding Stiles, rocking him slightly, it does something to Stiles. Stiles is detached from the pain, from his life, and it would be so easy to just let go and die. He sees the light now, and knows without looking that if he followed, it would lead him to a better place. Maybe he'd see his mom there, maybe-

But this bond looks so different from the Alpha twin's bond. Where one was sickly and disgusting, this one is golden and inviting.

He looks and sees his father watching Derek and knows he can't leave him.

Stiles floats closer to his body.

"Please, Stiles," Derek whispers.

Stiles hesitantly touches the bond and puts his belief — magic — into it, knowing that will strengthen it. He thinks, Yes. I choose this.

And then he's back in his body, and everything is pain.

Derek knows, feels, when Stiles decides to live. The bond flares like nothing Derek has ever felt before, and suddenly they are connected.

Connected so closely that Derek can feel Stiles's physical pain and confused emotions. He's never been so close to another person before. The bond goes beyond what he has with his other betas, beyond what he had even with his parents and Laura.

Derek gasps at the feel of it.

"Well?" the sheriff asks anxiously.

"He accepted me," Derek says, and he tries to keep the wonder out of his voice but he doesn't think he succeeds.

"Good," Deaton says.

"I can feel him in the pack," Isaac says suddenly. "Does that mean he'll turn now?"

Derek is busy taking some of Stiles's pain, but he can tell it's not enough. Stiles is still hurting, and traumatized on top of that. "Yeah," he tells Isaac, and goes back to touching Stiles wherever there's unbroken skin. It's instinct and a comfort to make certain Stiles is still there.

"He's not going to heal all at once," Deaton says. "Not with injuries this severe, caused by Alphas. The whole pack is going to have to help."

Derek nods. He needs to call Erica and Boyd home. He needs to get Jackson into the pack. He needs Scott to pull his head out of his ass and join them. These are the things he knows to be true, what the part of him that is all Alpha is telling him. He needs a strong pack in order to heal Stiles.

"Will someone please explain what the hell happened to my son?" the sheriff asks.

Derek looks at Deaton and watches as the man pulls the sheriff to the side and begins to talk. Good. He's probably the best person for the job; Derek never looks good when he tries to explain these things himself.

Peter is standing back, but he looks worried. He murmurs, "We need to get him home now."

Derek hates it when Peter is right.

"What can I do?" Scott asks. Derek had forgotten he was there.

Derek doesn't look at Scott but he answers. "Join my pack and make us stronger."

Scott doesn't say anything. Derek looks up and sees that he's deep in thought.

"The stronger the pack is, the faster Stiles will heal," Derek says.

"So … you don't know where Erica and Boyd are, and Jackson is against the pack thing on principle. So that leaves, who?" Scott says.

Derek feels every failure, he knows he hasn't kept anyone safe like a good Alpha. But he's going to try.

"There's me," Isaac says clearly. "And Peter."

Derek's eyes flick to Peter and sees that his uncle looks surprised at Isaac's declaration. Peter nods to Isaac and Scott makes a snorting noise.

"Great pack," Scott says.

"Your choice," Derek growls. "No one is forcing it on you. Just thought you might want to do something to save your friend."

Stiles makes a noise like a pup: a small, pained whine. Derek's focus narrows to just him and he loses sight of what's going on around him. What feels like much later, Deaton touches his shoulder and tells him to take Stiles home.

"Gather what you can of your pack. You're going to need them," Deaton says.

Stiles whines, his senses overloaded. What's happening? he wants to ask, but he can't speak. He's still afraid. He remembers too much — the beating, the taunting, the over-the-top torture session that came right after Stiles tried to fight back with the little bit of magic he knows.

He's afraid they'll be back.

He hears his father's voice. He doesn't want him to get caught. Get out, before they come back! he wants to scream.

He's so afraid.

But then he feels comfort and safety wrap around him. He blinks his one good eye and looks up at Derek.

My Alpha, his instincts tell him. Safe.

Derek's hand runs over his cheek gently. It's one of the only places on Stiles's body that doesn't hurt. The gesture doesn't make sense, because Derek isn't a gentle person. He doesn't care about Stiles like this. Except that he does and Stiles can feel it through their bond.

Stiles relaxes and examines what he can of the bond. His mind is foggy and scattered, but the bond is like a shining beacon, not confusing at all. It's simple, really. It's there, connecting him to Derek, and when Stiles concentrates he can feel Derek's worry and frustrations through it. Not only that, but his guilt. Stiles looks at that, tries to figure out the cause, but the bond only tells him so much.

There are positive things about the bond as well. Stiles can feel Derek's basic goodness, his care for Stiles — which doesn't seem to be a recent thing, that's confusing — and his deep sense of responsibility. Stiles is suddenly proud that Derek is his Alpha. That Stiles belongs to him. In a way, because of the bond, Derek belongs to Stiles as well. It goes two ways.

There are other bonds that Stiles can sense, but they're nothing like the one he shares with Derek. They are silvery (which he thinks is ironic considering the folktales about silver and werewolves) and flow mostly one way, from Alpha to beta. But they're thin things. Some of them are frayed and close to broken. Stiles realizes the bonds are to the rest of Derek's pack.

Stiles tries to stay focused inwardly, but the pain builds and builds until he's whimpering and Derek is shushing him and touching and trying to take away what he can. Stiles opens his eye and focuses on his Alpha. The fingers of one hand are all broken, but he clutches at Derek's shirt with his other hand, trying to tell him to stay.

"Okay. Not leaving you," Derek says, so low Stiles can barely hear him.

There are other words, spoken by other people. Peter is there, and so is his dad, and Deaton, and Scott and Isaac. He hears home and den and pack.

It hurts to move or be moved, but Derek holds him to his chest protectively and walks him out to someone's car. Derek holds Stiles on his lap as they ride in the back seat. The car hits a bump and it jars something, makes Stiles whimper. Derek growls at the driver to be more careful.

He must fall asleep, because suddenly...

Maybe Derek was a dream.

Maybe the Alphas are the reality. They hurt him, taunt him, threaten him with worse until he's panicking and hyperventilating and the Alphas laugh and never, ever stop.

"He's having a nightmare," Derek says. He's afraid to shake him, doesn't want to hurt him any more than he's been hurt already.

"Touch him," Peter says. "Use the bond to reassure him."

Derek shoots him a look, hating how he knows so much, but he takes Peter's advice. Stiles doesn't wake, but his breath settles to normal and he stops trying to thrash around in Derek's arms. Derek keeps stroking his cheek. The contact soothes him as much as it seems to soothe Stiles.

They pull up outside the Hale house, which is almost complete on the interior. It's the exterior that needs the most help.

"You're taking my son in there? It looks like it's going to fall in on itself," the sheriff says.

"It's solid. And it's his Alpha's den," Peter explains. "It's the best place for him to be right now."

Stilinski narrows his eyes but gives a nod. Derek takes Stiles into the house, not knowing where to set him down. The sofa? Or upstairs?

Deaton comes in behind them. "Strip him down and clean him up as best you can," he says. "Then you'll need to get the pack together. You know what else you need to do." Derek does. He remembers the piles of warm werewolves healing injured packmates. Deaton apparently has an aversion to the word 'cuddle'. Derek doesn't mind it as much as someone might think.

Derek carries Stiles upstairs to his own bathroom.

"I'll help," Stilinski says gruffly. Derek wonders if it's a good idea for Stiles's father to see the extent of his son's injuries. Something must show on his face because Stilinski says, "I can handle it."

"I'll hold him if you'll take his clothes off," Derek says. Together they manage to get Stiles's shirt and jeans off, exposing more blood and bruises.

"Are you sure the hospital can't-" Stilinski starts to say, but Derek cuts him off with a shake of his head.

"He'll heal soon. We'll make sure he does," Derek says.

"And he'll be … a werewolf," Stilinski says, rubbing a hand over his face. "I can hardly believe it."

Together they work to clean Stiles's body as best they can with warm, soapy cloths. Stiles starts shivering and Derek gets one of his own t-shirts to cover him with. He knows the scent of his Alpha will soothe Stiles if Derek can't be with him for one reason or another, although that thought sends a pang through him that's almost physically painful.

The pang takes him by surprise. Derek knows it has something to do with the bond, with how strong it is, but he doesn't understand it fully. It's something to find out about. But later. Right now he has to focus on getting Stiles healed.

"Isaac," Derek calls. Not loudly, he knows the boy will be able to hear him. Reluctantly, he also calls out to Peter.

They come to him just as he's lying down beside Stiles in his bed.

Peter immediately moves to Stiles's other side. Derek hates him, hates that he needs him, but at the same time he feels pathetically grateful for his help.

Isaac looks confused for a moment, but then at Derek's nod, he does as his instincts must be telling him to do and moves onto the bed to help heal his new packmate. He lies down beside Peter and stretches his arm out to touch Stiles's skin.

"This will work?" Stilinski says. Derek gives Deaton a look and then Deaton is gently escorting the sheriff out of the room.

Not long after, Scott comes in. He looks at the small pack, frowning. Derek doesn't care what's going through his head, if he won't help Stiles he needs to just get out.

But Scott surprises him. "I called Jackson and told him what's happening. Lydia got on the phone and I think she's talking him into coming over. I don't know about Erica and Boyd, but … I'm here. I'll be part of your pack."

Derek knows the basics of integrating a new packmate into a pack. It takes time. It takes the whole pack to accept the new wolf, and a lot of scenting and submitting to the Alpha. It goes on over a period of weeks, sometimes months.

Stiles doesn't have that kind of time.

Peter says, "I can help." Derek picks up his head and sees that Peter is looking straight at him.

"How?" Derek asks.

"He was my beta," Peter says with a twist of his lips. Derek wonders if the expression means he misses being Alpha or if he's just remembering Scott like a bad taste.

"And?" Derek asks impatiently.

Peter shrugs. "Pretty sure I can give him over to you still."

They stare at each other for a moment, ignoring Scott's, "Give me over... what?" As one, Peter and Derek move off the bed and toward Scott. Scott looks at them warily. "What are you doing?"

Derek thinks it's better if he doesn't warn him.

Peter holds on to Scott from behind and pushes him forward to Derek. The ritual needs no words. Scott struggles, says, "What the hell?" and Derek growls at him.

"Do you want to be pack or not?" he says.

Scott stills and nods.

Derek lunges forward and bites while Peter holds Scott tightly. Scott lets out a howl of pain. Derek doesn't regret it since it's the only way and he knows Scott will heal.

When he's done, Derek feels through the bond that Stiles is hurting again. He leaves Scott cursing and goes to lie down on the bed again, touching Stiles's wrist and pulling out some of the pain.

"That was harsh, man," Scott says, but he doesn't sound too upset. Derek can feel the magic of the bite at work, the transfer from pack to pack.

Eventually, Peter and Scott join them on the bed again. There's still plenty of room for more; Derek bought a bed with memories of his parents' in his mind. Their bed had been just as huge as this one. With a pack as large as the Hales had been, it had been necessary sometimes.

Derek already feels stronger. He sends some of that strength along the bond to Stiles, hoping he'll be able to use it.

Stiles stirs and opens one eye — the other is still swollen closed. His mouth opens like he's going to speak, and for a moment Derek braces himself for the onslaught. But nothing comes out. No hysterical sarcasm, no fearful babbling. No words at all. Stiles closes his mouth again, probably realizing he can't speak, and his one good hand reaches for Derek.

Derek takes Stiles's hand in his own without thought. "You'll be okay," he says, his voice rough.

Very weakly, Stiles squeezes his hand. Derek thinks of how close to death Stiles was just a few hours ago and breathes a sigh of relief. Stiles is healing. Slowly, but he's healing.

"Go back to sleep," Derek says gruffly, sending warmth and caring down the bond on instinct. Stiles closes his good eye and his breathing eases as he drifts off again.

It's Jackson's voice that wakes Stiles the next time. "I'm here because of Lydia, not him," Jackson says, and boy does that give Stiles the warm fuzzies. "What do I do?"

Stiles wants to say, just to piss him off, c'mere and be my cuddle buddy. But he figures that might make him leave or get him another fist in the face. Derek must pick up on his amusement through the bond.

"How do you feel?" Derek asks Stiles while Peter makes room for Jackson on the bed.

Stiles realizes his broken fingers aren't broken anymore. They're still sore, they feel strained or something, but they aren't broken. "Better," Stiles rasps. He realizes it's the first he's said since this began.

Derek is frowning, but that's a normal look for him. "You're still in a lot of pain."

"Healing," Stiles manages to say. He coughs then because it hurts to talk, it hurts to move, to breathe.

But there are hands on him and he can feel the bonds, not as strong as his bond with Derek but they're there, flowing from Peter and Isaac and Scott and Jackson. He feels like he's part of something, something bigger than himself. It's family. Pack.

He knows something has changed inside him. Something beyond bonds and pain. He knows he's a werewolf now. He just doesn't feel that different. Maybe the werewolfiness hasn't had a chance to sink into him yet. Maybe whatever magic causes the change is gradual. He's weeks away from the full moon, if he remembers correctly. He's not sure. His brain is fuzzy. He tries to remember what it was like for Scott, if Scott realized-

No. Scott hadn't known right away. He hadn't felt that different, not at first.

Stiles relaxes. Derek is holding his hand again, rubbing his thumb over the back of Stiles's healed knuckles. It shouldn't feel right but it does. Derek is his Alpha now, and … more. Somehow. Stiles doesn't examine that thought too carefully. It might lead him to something he doesn't have the energy to face.

"Dad?" Stiles asks Derek.

"He's downstairs. I can get him," Derek says.

"Tell him … I'm okay," Stiles says.

"Isaac can tell him," Derek says, and he shoots Isaac a look over Stiles's shoulder. "Say he's out of the woods and healing." Then, looking back at Stiles, "He can bring him up if you want."

"Not yet," Stiles says weakly. "Gotta … heal s'more."

"He's already seen you at your worst," Derek reminds him. Funny, Stiles doesn't remember that too clearly.

But Stiles doesn't want his dad. He wants to cuddle up closer to Derek and breathe in his scent, because he's safe. He's home.

Vaguely, Stiles realizes that this might be over the top. That the way he feels about Derek right now is more than he should. It's the bond, golden and shining between them. He pushes that out of the way and ignores it, then does what his instincts tell him. He holds on to his Alpha and closes his eyes.

He feels them coming closer and closer to the house before he hears them downstairs. Derek slips out of the bed, leaving Stiles for a moment, giving the others hard looks to convey, 'Stay with Stiles and keep healing.'

He goes downstairs and sees that Boyd and Erica are speaking quietly to Deaton and Stilinski. They shrink back when Derek enters the room.

Derek clenches his jaw. He doesn't like being feared. Hates it, but sometimes it's the only way. This time, though... He wishes he had the chance to really talk to his wayward betas. There's no time, though.

"Are you back for good?" he asks them.

"We felt you call us-," Erica starts to say, then stops. "We didn't mean it. When we left."

Derek sighs. "Yes, you did. But if you're back, you'll be forgiven." He's careful with his words, doesn't say they're clear right off the bat.

"They said Stiles is hurt," Boyd says. "What can we do?"

"What are your instincts telling you?" Derek asks, curious.

"I need to touch him, make sure he's okay," Erica says uncomfortably. Boyd nods slowly; he must feel the same way.

Derek nods and motions them to follow.

Scott looks up when the three of them enter the room. "Is this going to be enough?"

"Can you feel how strong the pack is now?" Derek asks him.

Scott nods. "So it is? Enough?"

Derek rolls his eyes. "Yes. It's good." He takes his place next to Stiles and hides a smile as Stiles instinctively snuggles closer to him.

Boyd and Erica climb onto the bed, both of them laying hands on the others and on Stiles. Isaac makes a small, happy sound when they join in. Derek wishes they'd just give in to their wolves and just go ahead and nuzzle each other. He can feel the strain of them holding back for their human sides' sake. He finds himself thankful again for being born a wolf, for having grown up in an environment that let him be himself. He thinks maybe he should show his betas that it's okay to give in to their instincts.

His own instincts are telling him to touch Stiles some more, so he does, running his hand up under Stiles's shirt to touch his bare back. Peter gives him a look that says he knows something but is keeping it to himself. Derek bares his teeth at him. He feels the childishness of it the minute he does it, but Peter averts his eyes, submitting, and Derek doesn't know what to think.

Stlies opens his eyes and Derek nuzzles his neck, rubbing his scent on him. He still smells too much like the Alpha pack but the others have been unknowingly marking him to smell like pack and it's starting to pull ahead as the predominant scent.

"Tickles," Stiles mumbles. His voice is better than before. "You need to shave."

Derek smiles and then Stiles tilts his head back, exposing his throat. Derek automatically nips him gently and says, "You're healing faster now."

"I can feel it," Stiles says. He picks his head up, though Derek can feel through the bond how much energy it takes for him to do so. Stiles looks at the pack around him and then looks back to Derek, an expression of bafflement on his face. "What's going on?"

Derek gently pushes Stiles's head back down to the pillow and shrugs. "You're pack and you're injured. We're healing you." He can feel so much of Stiles's emotions because of the connection, and he thought he was getting used to it, but now Stiles floods the bond with gratitude and happiness with a sense of belonging so thick that it gets stuck in Derek's throat.

"Thanks," Stiles says. "For saving me, and for all this..."

Derek shakes his head. "You don't have to thank me for that."

Stiles frowns. "I kinda do."

"You're one of mine now," Derek says. It's not exactly what he wants to say. He wants to say he wouldn't have left him to die, and that Stiles is his now in a way none of the others are, and that he'll do whatever he can now to make sure Stiles heals. There might even be more he wants to say, but he clamps down on those thoughts. The bond is stronger than he anticipated.

Stiles must at least feel some of it, because his frown disappears and he smiles tiredly. He pushes an emotion back at Derek, something shy and hesitant and warm.

Derek wants to ask him what it means, but Stiles already has his eyes closed again and his breathing is going slow and steady.

The next time Stiles wakes up, he knows without a doubt that he's a werewolf. It's not that he's furry or fangy or anything like that, but it's like his senses come with a dial, and someone has suddenly turned it up to eleven.

The first thing he notices is scent. He's got his face smashed against Derek's chest and Derek's scent is overwhelmingly amazing. Stiles takes a deep breath in, happy that it doesn't hurt anymore to breathe, and smiles. He could say 'Derek smells like leather' or 'Derek smells like pine' but while those things were true, they were so inadequate. Derek smells like … home. Pack. And something else, something that makes Stiles want to get even closer.

Derek is asleep. So is the rest of the pack, judging by the slowness of their heartbeats. But Stiles has to piss, badly.

He sits up and his head swims, but only for a moment. Then he's fine. No headache, and he can see out of both eyes. He touches his face, looking for sore spots, and finds nothing. He looks down at his body and sees some bruising but nothing major. In fact, the bruises seem to be disappearing as he watches. Cool.

He still has to piss.

Stiles squirms out from between Derek and Isaac, and when he looks at the others, he sees that Peter is awake and watching him. "Bathroom," Stiles whispers, and Peter looks like he might ask if Stiles needs help just to be a creeper. He doesn't, though.

Stiles makes it to the bathroom, gets on with his business, and then steps into the shower. He still feels weak and he might need to hold on to something, but he's got to get the stink of the Alphas off his body. It's probably barely there but it's bad enough, strong enough in his nose to bother him.

He makes the water blisteringly hot and scrubs and scrubs. He thinks of their taunts and torture, of how scared he was. He knows he's close to panicking again, just remembering what happened. He knows, intellectually, that he's safe now. But when he closes his eyes against the spray of the shower all he can see is them.

He sinks to the bottom of the tub and draws his knees up to his chest. The water runs over him and he tries to remember to breathe. It isn't working. Images and words are flashing through his mind, a play by play of everything that happened to him, and he can't turn it off.

"Stiles," someone says, and when Stiles drags his eyes open and away from the nightmare, he sees that it's Derek. "Hey, it's okay." He looks uncomfortable and worried and as if Stiles's panic is hurting him as much as it's hurting Stiles.

Derek turns the water off — it was beginning to run cold anyway — and grabs a towel from the rack. Stiles begins to shake, or maybe he was already shaking.

"Can you stand?" Derek asks, wrapping the towel around Stiles's shoulders awkwardly.

Stiles nods and gets to his feet, then steps out of the slippery tub before he has an accident. Derek starts toweling him off like it's perfectly natural to do so, his movements brisk and yet still gentle. Stiles lets his chin fall to his chest and he sighs. "Sorry." He's embarrassed, and his Alpha shouldn't have to take care of him because he had a stupid panic attack.

Derek touches his skin, lays his hand at the back of Stiles's neck, and suddenly the bond seems bigger and brighter, giving him a sense of well-being and belonging. Derek says, gruff but to the point, "Don't. What you went through isn't easy."

"I'll get over it," Stiles mutters. He leans back against Derek's touch, starved for more. He doesn't know why, if it's because Derek's his Alpha or maybe just because he's Derek. He'll think about that later. Now, he's running on instinct and instinct is telling him to get closer.

It isn't until he's plastered against Derek's side that he notices he's still stark naked. The realization is vague, though, unimportant. What matters at the moment is being close to his Alpha. A sound escapes from behind Stiles's lips, something that isn't entirely human, high and needy. He doesn't know how to describe it other than a whine, like one of the puppies at Deaton's clinic.

Derek seems to understand. He shushes him and wraps his arms around him, rubbing soothing circles on Stiles's bare back. "No one expects you to get over it; some things you just don't get over. But you'll move on."

Stiles feels tears come to his eyes, but he's reluctant to let them fall. But when he squeezes his eyes shut tight against them, all he sees is the Alpha pack.

"Look at me," Derek says. Stiles obeys. Derek wipes his thumbs across Stiles's cheeks, catching tears that must've fallen despite Stiles's determination to keep them in. "Focus on me. On your pack."

Stiles drags a breath in slowly and focuses on the bonds he knows are there. He shouldn't have lost sight of the bond he has with Derek. It's there now at the forefront of his mind, bright and reassuring. Stiles mentally (or magically, he's not quite sure) tugs at it and it floods him with a sense of closeness and belonging. It feels like home. From the bond he gets echoes of what Derek is feeling, his worry and protection and something Stiles doesn't understand but his wolf responds to.

It's weird, this new wolfy side of him. It's not really a separate entity, but rather a new facet to Stiles's personality. It's just easier to think 'my wolf' rather than 'my werewolfy instincts' or 'my hindbrain'. Whatever, it doesn't matter what terminology he uses. He's got something inside him now that is primal.

He does as Derek suggested earlier and focuses on the pack bonds as well. As before, they're silver, but now they seem stronger and brighter. He can separate them out, one from another, and tell who's who if he really concentrates.

Isaac's bond to Derek is the strongest, besides Stiles's. Isaac's bonds to the rest of the pack aren't as defined, but they're there. They're growing, strengthening, as are the rest of the pack bonds. It's good, Stiles thinks. Comforting. He can feel his own bonds to his packmates, new and tentative yet still unmistakably there.

He's glad he's not a part of the Alpha pack. He shivers thinking of them.

"Do I smell like them?" Stiles asks quietly. He can still smell them, the wrongness of Alpha stink is thick in his nose.

"Not anymore," Derek says.

Stiles sighs and nods. His arms slip from around Derek's neck and back down to his sides. "I need clothes." He wants to mention the bond, how strong it is, how different from the others. But Derek hasn't mentioned it yet and Stiles is afraid to bring it up for fear of losing it somehow. Stiles has never been so close to anyone and he never wants to lose the feeling of connectedness. He doesn't care that the bond is to Derek Hale, Mr. Grumpypants himself. With the bond came sudden insight into Derek's mind, his emotions, his heart. Stiles wants to keep it. He's afraid to examine his motivations further.

"Sit," Derek says, and Stiles sits on the closed lid of the toilet. Derek leaves the room and comes back almost immediately with comfy-looking sweats and a tee-shirt. Not only are they comfortable once Stiles puts them on, but they smell like Derek, and that makes him feel like he's surrounded by his Alpha, safe and protected.

"Is my dad still downstairs?" Stiles asks.

"You think anyone could have got him to leave?" Derek asks back.

Stiles shakes his head. "Will you help me down there?"

"We could get him to come up here," Derek says. Through the bond, Stiles can feel his worry and protectiveness, even stronger than before.

"I need to go down," Stiles says, jutting his chin up stubbornly. "He needs to see me better."

"You are better. It's a miracle how well you've healed, werewolf or not," Derek says.

Stiles feels a frisson of fear. What if his dad rejects him as a werewolf? What if he's disgusted? Or freaked out, or afraid of him? "How's he taking the bite part of this?" Stiles asks.

Derek touches his shoulder. "He loves you."

Stiles nods and takes a deep breath, then he and Derek make their way down the stairs.

"I'm not ready to go home," Stiles tells Derek. His voice makes him sound young and insecure. Derek wants to hold him again, but he stops himself. It's the bond, there's no other explanation.

"I can't make your father let you stay," Derek tells him. "If you still needed to heal, I could talk him into it, but you're as good as you're going to get." Physically, at least.

Stiles straightens his shoulders and nods. "Yeah. Thanks, anyway. I know you tried."

Derek's mind keeps telling him things like, It isn't right, he belongs here! but again, he knows it's the bond. They haven't discussed it yet; neither of them have even brought it into a conversation. But it's there on the tips of their tongues and shining between them, something stronger than anything Derek's ever felt. He wants to know why it's so strong and bright, but he knows Stiles doesn't know. The only people who might know are Peter and Alan Deaton, but Derek is hesitant to even mention it to one of them. It's selfish, but he wants to keep it, and if this bond is wrong somehow, he doesn't want to hear about it.

On the other hand, if it's making Stiles feel the same things it's making Derek feel, it's not fair to him. Derek doesn't mind it for himself, even knowing that these emotions aren't entirely natural. But Stiles is young, too young to be tied to someone this way. Too young to know his mind and separate what is the bond and what is real.

Only Derek feels the bond is real. It's the most real thing Derek's felt in his life.

"Hey," Stiles says, breaking into his thoughts. "Are you okay?"

Derek nods shortly. "Are you ready?"

Stiles laughs, soft and bitter. He looks down. "No. I want to stay. It doesn't feel right to be leaving y-" He stops himself from saying it but it doesn't matter.

"I know," Derek says. He leans in and rests his forehead against Stiles's for the space of a few heartbeats, showing Stiles he feels the same way.

Stiles whines and licks the corner of Derek's mouth. It's a wolf thing, Derek knows this, but instead of reacting like an Alpha, Derek reacts like a man.

He finally gives in to the pull of the bond and kisses him.

Immediately, Stiles's arms twine around the back of his neck and he drags him closer. Derek can't help the pleased growl that erupts. Kissing Stiles only makes him want to get closer. The bond flares, burning like wildfire. Nothing matters but Stiles and being close to him and touching him and surrounding himself with his scent. His hands push up under the back of Stiles's shirt as the kiss deepens. Stiles's skin beneath his hands, smooth and hot, just fans the flames.

Stiles lets out a low moan and Derek echoes it.

"What the hell is going on here?" comes a shout.

It's Stilinski. Stiles's father, watching as Derek makes out with his minor son. Stiles's sheriff father.

Stiles and Derek break apart.



"I don't want to hear it," Stilinski says. "Mr. Hale, I'm taking my son — my underage son — and we're going home. I do not want to see you near him anytime soon."

Stiles whimpers and Derek growls.

"He's mine-" Derek starts to say, but Stilinski's frown only deepens. Derek takes a deep breath and says, "I'm his Alpha. We're pack. Keeping us apart would be … detrimental to his health."

Stilinski gives him a hard look. "Then you'll have supervised visits."

"Dad-" Stiles says again.

"I'm not discussing this right now," Stilinski says. "We're going home."

Derek wants to stop this somehow, wants to rip Stiles away from his father and keep him for his own. He's appalled at his thoughts. The bond is fucking with his mind now, making him want to do things that are entirely against his personal codes. Stilinski loves his son, and they're blood. No matter how hard Derek might wish his claim superseded Stilinski's, it doesn't. Not while Stiles is under eighteen, at least.

He can't believe he wants someone so young. It should disgust him, turn him off. It doesn't, though. The age difference doesn't make him want him more, but it hasn't deterred his wandering thoughts.

Again, it's the bond. He needs to learn more about it. He's got to talk to either Peter or Deaton, but both choices are iffy. He doesn't trust either of them. However, at least Deaton hasn't killed any members of Derek's family that he knows of.

He watches as Stiles and his father drive away from the house in Stilinski's patrol car, and takes out his phone to call the vet.

Stiles plays Oblivion for about an hour before giving up and turning the game off. He's jumpy, edgy. Wired. He wants to run. He glances over at the calendar and sees that the full moon is just a week away now, and if he feels this restless this far from it, there's no telling how he'll feel once it comes.

He knows he needs an anchor. It's pretty obvious what — or rather who — it will be. He wonders at that. He was happy when Scott found a way to control himself, but later on he started thinking Allison wasn't the best choice as an anchor. That maybe people in general weren't a good idea. Because people changed, shifted alliances, went crazy and tried to kill you and your friends, whatever. Also because it seemed a little off, the dependency on someone else to keep you sane.

He'd choose his dad, but he's not exactly talking to him right now. Ever since he caught Stiles and Derek during their first and only kiss, Stiles has felt weird toward him. Not because of the kiss-catching, but because of the way his father seemed to think keeping Derek and Stiles apart as much as possible was a good idea. Because it wasn't. It was the worst idea on the face of the earth.

Stiles hasn't seen Derek with his own two eyes in a week now. He's felt him, knows he's close, but he hasn't been able to actually do the things he needs to do. Like smell him and geez, how weird is that? But he's in serious need of some Alpha sniffing. He needs Derek's scent like he needs breath. It's tearing him up inside that he doesn't have it. And touch, yes, he needs that, too. Just the feeling of Derek's hand on his skin would help, maybe at the back of his neck. Stiles touches that place now, right where Derek touched a week before, and aches with the memory.

The thing is this: Stiles has been having nightmares and the panic attacks are back. They're getting worse the longer Stiles is away from Derek. Stiles has been taking his old prescription for Klonopin but it's getting low and the refills have expired. He doesn't want to tell his dad, because in order to get more he'd need to see the psychiatrist again and honestly, Stiles doesn't know what to tell her. I got kidnapped, beaten, tortured, and bitten by an evil pack of Alpha werewolves won't go over well. He'll end up on something a lot stronger than an anti-anxiety med with that one. Besides, it doesn't even tell the whole story.

The doorbell rings and Stiles flinches. He knows the Alpha pack won't come knocking pleasantly, but the thought of seeing someone not pack makes him feel like he might throw up.

He peeks out the spyhole and sees Ms. Morrell. What she is doing there, he can't imagine. He opens the door.

"Hello, Stiles," she says. "May I come in?"

Stiles motions her inside. "Sure."

Ms. Morrell comes in and closes the door behind her. Then she looks at Stiles like she can see something in his face. She nods. "I heard about what happened. I thought you might want someone to talk to."

Stiles blinks. The official story is that Stiles has been sick with the flu, and that's why he's missed so many days of school. Melissa McCall helped with the sick note, and Stiles was planning to start back on Monday. Today is Saturday.

"I've been sick?" Stiles says.

Ms. Morrell gives him a mysterious smile. "Alan Deaton and I are close," she says. "I know, Stiles."

Stiles swallows hard. "Do you wanna sit down or something?"

"Yes, please," she says and takes the chair by the window. "I came to talk to you. About … whatever you want to talk about. It doesn't have to be what you went through, it could be anything."

Stiles sits down on the couch. "So," he says. "I don't know where to start, really."

"You haven't been sleeping," she says.

Stiles laughs. "Are you psychic, too?"

"Just observant," she says. "You have dark circles under your eyes."

"Nightmares," Stiles says.

"Flashbacks? Memories?" she asks.

"Yeah," he answers, looking down at his hands. "Not just that, though. I dream … I dream I hurt people, or that I can't get to Der- my Alpha. Or that he turns me away. Or that the Alpha pack comes back for me, to hurt me more, or hurt my pack, or Dad."

"You have a lot on your mind, I see. A lot to be worried about," she says sympathetically.

"It wouldn't be so bad if I could just see my Alpha," Stiles admits.

"Derek? Why can't you?" Ms. Morrell asks.

"My dad thinks … he thinks he's not good for me, I guess," Stiles says.

"It must be very difficult, especially with your bond," she says.

Stiles almost jumps at that. "What do you know about it?"

Ms. Morrell tilts her head, looking very kind and very understanding. "I know the circumstances of the bond, how it was started, and I know that you're a Spark. Those things together … well, it makes something special."

Blinking in confusion, Stiles opens his mouth to ask about a dozen questions at once. But Ms. Morrell holds up a hand.

"I know Alan hasn't explained, so I will," she says. "A Spark is someone with immeasurable magical potential. Potential. It doesn't mean you're magical or that you can automatically wield magic. It's like having a high IQ, only it's with magic and not intelligence. It means you have the potential to do great things, but you have to work at it in order to make it happen."

"What," Stiles says, trying to take this in and failing. "But what does that have to do with the … the bond?"

"You and Derek chose each other, Stiles," she says. "You rejected one Alpha for another, and he saved you from death. That was enough to make a strong bond. But..." She trails off, looking thoughtful. "But you must have put some of your belief, some of your magic, into the connection. Alan has theorized that it's stronger than a mating bond."

Stiles flushes. "But it's not a mating bond?" Why does he feel this way about Derek, then?

"Mating bonds involve less choice," Ms. Morrell says. "The bond you have with Derek was chosen by both of you."

"But the feelings..."

She nods slowly. "I can only begin to imagine what it's like to be so closely bound to another person."

"Are my feelings real or is it the bond, though?" Stiles asks quietly.

"Both," she answers immediately, as if she expected the question. "Tell me this: If you had been bound to someone with bad intentions, someone like the Alpha who bit you first, would you feel this way?"

Stiles shudders. "No. Never."

"You're responding to something that's already there, something good you found in your Alpha, correct?" she asks.

He nods slowly. The way he feels about Derek is because of the bond, and at the same time it isn't. The bond has revealed things to him he'd otherwise overlook. It makes sense. His feelings are his own. "Thanks," he tells her. "But needing to be near him, or smell him...?"

"That's part of being a werewolf, Stiles," she says gently. "It's just pushed up a few notches because of the intensity of your bond."

Stiles's next question is whether or not Derek feels the same way about him. He can't seem to voice it, though. He's afraid of the answer, afraid this is one-sided. But then again, Derek is the one who kissed him, not the other way around.

"Is there anything I can do for you?" Ms. Morrell asks.

"No," Stiles says, "unless you want to talk to my dad about this, convince him to let me see Derek."

Ms. Morrell looks concerned. "You'll need him for the full moon, that's definite."

"I need him now," Stiles says. It sounds like a whine and he flushes, embarrassed at exposing his weakness.

Ms. Morrell gives him an understanding look. "Have you tried talking to your father about this?"

Stiles shakes his head. "We haven't really talked. Not since … everything."

She looks surprised. "I would have thought you'd want to get everything out in the open now that he knows. You were lying to him before, weren't you?"

Stiles feels guilty. He's still keeping things from his dad, even though he doesn't have to. "I guess it's become a habit. I don't know how to talk to him about this stuff. And the bond? I don't think he'd understand. I don't even think I understand." Besides, the bond belongs to him and Derek. He's uncomfortable talking about it now, even.

"And it's private," she says, like she can read his mind.

"Yeah, it is," Stiles says softly.

"There's more to it, though. You, what you are, it makes the pack stronger," she says.

"Because of the spark?" Stiles asks.

"Because you're a Spark, yes," Ms. Morrell says, and this time Stiles can practically hear the capitalization.

Stiles bites his lip. "So it's good, right? Maybe we'll have a chance against …"

She smiles. "I'd say you have a very good chance."

Derek runs. He runs a lot, trying to rid himself of the excess energy he has. He feels bigger, stronger, faster. He's also still dealing with not being close to Stiles. Sometimes he thinks it's killing him. Other times he thinks it's a good thing, because encouraging the bond isn't healthy for his new beta.

Stiles is too young to be so bonded to another person, even if that person is his Alpha. He deserves a choice.

Derek finds himself running near Stiles's house in the dead of night. The closer he gets, the more he can feel Stiles.

He can tell Stiles isn't sleeping well. He's anxious and afraid. Nightmares, then. Derek growls, wishing he could kill the Alpha pack once and for all.

Derek goes against his better judgement and lets himself through Stiles's bedroom window. He stands over Stiles's bed for a minute, watching him thrash and whimper. Then Derek gives in and slides onto the bed beside him and pulls him close.

Almost immediately, Stiles calms.

Derek feels himself calming, too, the pain of being separated from Stiles slowly easing. He hates it and loves it at the same time.

Stiles opens his eyes. They glow amber in the dark. "Are you really here?" he whispers.

Derek nods and loosens his hold. Stiles whines and tries to bury his face in Derek's neck. He breathes in deep.

"Missed the smell of you," Stiles admits. Derek isn't surprised. He knows how comforting an Alpha's scent is to a beta. He can't imagine how much more it means when you're bonded as much as he and Stiles are.

"I tried to stay away," Derek says, and it's like the words are being pulled out of him. He frowns. "I couldn't. I could feel how much you needed me." Stiles is holding onto him tightly and Derek decides he might as well hold Stiles right back.

Stiles sighs happily, snuffling and sniffing along Derek's collar. He tugs at Derek's shirt and Derek hesitates. He knows Stiles just wants to be close to him, but his behavior is edging toward dangerous territory. It's up to Derek to be the strong one. He's the Alpha. He's in charge. He can't let his beta run all over him, or...

But Stiles is running greedy hands up under Derek's shirt and Derek lets him. Derek even helps Stiles out of his shirt so that he's only wearing a pair of boxers.

"C'mon, Derek," Stiles whines, tugging at Derek's shirt again. Derek sighs and gives in, pulling the shirt off over his head.

Stiles has no idea what he's doing to Derek. He's driving him crazy. Derek can't let what happened last time happen again.

Stiles keeps sniffing, even going so far as to burrowing his nose into Derek's armpit. He doesn't seem to mind the scent, though, if the satisfied sounds are anything to go by.

"Stiles," Derek says, exasperated and shamefully turned on.

"You just smell so good," Stiles says. "Missed you so much."

Derek pets his head and sighs. "Missed you, too," he admits.

"Is this weird?" Stiles asks, picking his head up to look at Derek.

Derek raises an eyebrow. "What?"

"This," Stiles says, and licks Derek's chest. "I just want to see. If you taste as good as you smell." Derek lets him lick until Stiles reaches Derek's navel and starts nosing down the sparse trail of hair.

Derek groans and pulls him back. "Stop."

Stiles whines but obeys. His eyes beg why? but he doesn't ask.

"You're too young," Derek says, his throat tight. Not too young to kiss, to hold... his mind whispers.

Stiles furrows his brow, and it's cute. Derek wants to kiss the wrinkle away. Stiles says, "I'm not that young."

Derek snorts. "Tell that to your father."

"Way to kill the mood, dude," Stiles mutters, flopping onto his back.

"Stiles," Derek says, as gently as he can. "It's the bond. You have to know that. What you're feeling isn't real."

"That's a load of shit," Stiles says angrily. His eyes glow amber. "The bond made us closer, but it doesn't dictate how I feel about you because of it."

Derek frowns. He's not sure how to take that.

"Look, first of all, if it'd been anyone else I wouldn't have accepted it," Stiles says. "So I trusted you, okay? I even wanted you. To be my Alpha. I'd thought about it before, you know? I wanted to ask you for the bite. But I was scared to, 'cause you might have said no. I thought — I thought you'd laugh at me."

"I wouldn't have laughed," Derek says. He doesn't know how he would have reacted, with shock, probably, but not with mockery.

Stiles takes a deep breath. "And I wanted you, too. Don't tell me you never smelled it on me."

Derek shakes his head. "Teenage hormones."

"You are so full of shit. But you believe that, don't you? Your heart's steady," Stiles says. "Listen, it was you. And when we started the bond, when you bit me and I accepted you, it just made what was already there bigger. Augmented it, you know?"

Derek touches his face, but he looks away. "It's not fair to you. I would be taking advantage."

A sound comes from down the hall.

Derek whispers, "Your dad's up."

Stiles looks like he wants to keep arguing, but he sighs and nods. Derek moves to put his shirt back on, but Stiles grabs it and stuffs it under his pillow. Derek smiles a little, then leaves via the window.

Stiles's dad grudgingly lets the pack, including Derek, visit the Stilinski house a few days before the full moon. The object of the meeting is to plan and try to instruct Stiles on what to do in what little time they have.

Stiles has no idea he missed the pack so much until he sees them again in his living room. He hugs Scott, shoves his nose into his neck and breathes in deep.

"Don't get weird on me," Scott says lightly, but Stiles knows he doesn't mean it. The rest of the pack gathers around him loosely, and Stiles reaches out and pulls Isaac close to him and Scott.

Isaac makes a soft, happy noise and nuzzles Stiles's head. Scott stiffens a little and Stiles laughs.

"Dude, embrace the wolf," Stiles says. He looks at the others, smiling excitedly.

"You're not hugging me so don't even think about it," Jackson says. But he reaches out then and grabs Stiles's shoulder for a moment. He lets go almost immediately, but it's enough. He's pack. They'll work it all out eventually.

Erica hugs Stiles then, and Stiles familiarizes himself with her scent. She smells like apples and leather and something tangy. More than that, though, she smells like family.

Boyd reaches out and clasps Stiles's forearm, inviting Stiles to do the same. Stiles wishes he'd give in and just hug him, but he seems wary, like he's still not sure of his place in the pack.

Peter comes forward with a smirk, arms wide open. Like it's a joke. Stiles rolls his eyes and gives him a quick hug, there and gone as fast as a blink. It's long enough to catch Peter's scent, though, pleasing Stiles's wolf. Peter is pack, nothing else seems to matter.

Derek is watching him. Stiles has felt his eyes and his proud pleasure since the pack first arrived. Stiles looks over at his father, who's standing in the open entrance to the living room with a peculiar look on his face, like he isn't quite sure what's going on but he's not sure he likes it.

Stiles doesn't care about his dad right now. His Alpha is right there, close enough to touch, so Stiles does. He wraps his arms around Derek's waist and buries his face in his neck, breathing in deep.

Mine, Stiles thinks as Derek's scent fills his nose.

His father clears his throat pointedly. Stiles whines and clings tighter.

"Shh," Derek whispers. "I'm right here."

Stiles takes another deep breath of him and pulls away, nodding. He looks over at his father again and sees the frown marring his features. Stiles looks away again and turns his attention back to the pack.

"Dude," Scott says, and Stiles nods at the sentiment.

"So," Stiles says with false brightness. "Let's talk about the full moon!"

It's the afternoon before the full moon, and Derek's skin is too tight. Missing Stiles is like a sickness he's never had, that he can't shake. Seeing him two days before worked for a few hours, but then he had to leave again and the yearning set in. He doesn't know how much longer he can go on like this. It's not getting better. If anything, the need to see Stiles, to touch him and claim him, is growing stronger.

Talking to Peter only makes Derek angry most days, so he goes to Deaton for advice.

Deaton says, "Did Stiles tell you he's a Spark?"

Derek shakes his head. He's heard the term before, but not enough to know what a Spark is. "I don't even know what that means, really. What does that have to do with the bond?"

"It means he has the potential to be a very powerful mage," Deaton says. "Or witch, if you prefer."

Derek thinks both sound ridiculous.

"Stiles added power to the bond, so that an already strong connection became even stronger," Deaton explains.

"So what do I do? I can't stand being away from him. And it's getting worse," Derek says.

Deaton frowns. "It sounds as if it's acting like a mating bond." He crosses the room and picks out a book from his shelf.

"But it's not," Derek says. "A mating bond, I mean."

"It's more powerful," Deaton says. "Especially since it was chosen by both of you. But the way it's acting... Ah, here." Deaton passes the open book to Derek and points to a passage.

Derek quickly scans the page. His eyes catch on the words 'consummation' and 'submission'. He shakes his head. "We're not- He's too young," he sputters out.

Deaton gives him a shrewd look. "If he was too young, the bond wouldn't be pushing for this."

"You don't even know that's what it's doing. This is just a theory," Derek says.

"True," Deaton says. But Derek knows he has experience with this sort of thing and is probably right.

"I'll tough it out," Derek says. Maybe he can wait until Stiles is eighteen.

"Is Stiles feeling the same sort of pain?" Deaton asks.

Damn him. "I'm not sure."

"Maybe you should talk to him about it," Deaton suggests.

Derek finds himself nodding. "Not tonight, though."

Deaton smiles. "No, I imagine you'll be busy tonight keeping him in line."

Stiles puts the Jeep in park and looks at the house. It still looks shabby on the outside. Stiles is going to talk to Derek about that.

Stiles can see him at the front door now, waiting for him. He gets out of the Jeep and practically flies into Derek's arms.

"Stiles," Derek breathes, and holds him close. Stiles trembles with relief.

"Being away from you hurts," Stiles says.

Derek pulls back and looks like he's going to say something, but then the rest of the pack is pulling them into the house and there's more hugging and happy sniffing. It's good, so good to be around them, to be part of them.

They've already decided what they're doing tonight. Derek told them all about how much stronger they are now, because of the bond, because of them all getting along and coming together. Because of the magic Stiles brought into the pack.

They're powerful, they can protect themselves, and so it's safe to run in the forest.

"Lucky," Erica tells Stiles. "My first full moon was in the station where I was chained up and in some really painful headgear." Boyd and Isaac nod, and the three of them seem to wince simultaneously at the memory.

Stiles shudders. As much as that sounds unappealing, he's not sure about this running free thing. "What happens if I lose it? I don't want to hurt anyone."

"It's just going to be the pack out there," Derek says. "Don't worry. The moon gets in your blood, but it'll be safe. I'll stay with you."

Stiles nods. He's always safe with Derek.

The others have better control over their wolfy sides now, and don't need constant babysitting. Stiles is glad; this way, he gets Derek to himself.

"C'mon, lets get out there before the moon rises," Derek says.

Stiles's senses are so heightened now, and he's hyper-aware of the pack around him.

The forest seems alive, and Stiles can hear the leaves rustle crisply in the trees and smell the deep, dark earthiness of it. It calls to him.

The rest of the pack is being called by the forest, too, and everyone seems more alert, ready to take off, like runners at the starting line.

And then the moon pulls at him and Stiles is like the tide, rising and changing and becoming something new.

They run.

Stiles hears the pounding of his pack's hearts as one, and he lets out a happy yip. His Alpha is close, ready to herd him in if he strays too far, but that's not going to happen. Stiles wants to be with his pack, to run, to revel in the freedom and wildness of the night.

There's no thinking, only instinct. Stiles pounces on Isaac and they roll, playful and happy, in the leaves. The rolling turns to something else, a bid for dominance, and Stiles's stubborn nature asserts itself. He growls and his sharp teeth snap at air. Isaac growls in return but settles on his back, tilting his head. Stiles rubs his nose against Isaac's exposed throat and then they're both up again like it never happened, running and practically nipping at each other's heels.

Derek laughs, and Stiles feels his happiness flow between them. The whole pack must feel it, because everyone makes a joyful sound at the same time.

There's a sound to the left, and Stiles stops, sniffs the air. He's not sure what it is, but it smells like prey.

Stiles is after the sound like a shot, weaving between trees and bounding over a stream. He doesn't know what he's after, only that he has to give chase. The thing ahead of him is fast, but not as fast as Stiles. He's almost on it when his Alpha bodychecks him and sends him sprawling.

Stiles lets out a confused whine. There's prey, why can't he go after it?

But then he's distracted, because his Alpha is looming over him, smelling like something Stiles wants to roll over for. He whines, caught between the urge to bare his belly and throat and another, even more primal instinct.

Derek says, "What is it?"

Stiles doesn't know what to do, he's beyond speech right now and can barely think in words anyway. He hooks a leg around Derek's, trying to pull him closer. Derek growls and nips at his neck.

"It's okay," Derek murmurs against his skin.

It's not enough, and Stiles lets out a frustrated whine. He tries pulling his Alpha closer again, claws digging into his skin. His cock is hard and needs some kind of friction desperately.

"Shh," Derek says, nosing along his jaw. "You smell... God..."

Stiles looks down at himself, notices that his shirt has been removed or ripped away at some point. He's still wearing pants. He wants them off. His Alpha is wearing clothes, too, and Stiles thinks that's ridiculous. His claws rip through Derek's shirt until his palms can feel smooth skin.

"Don't think you're not paying for that," Derek says, but the words make no sense. "You smell so good, Stiles. Like mine for the taking."

That makes a little more sense. The wolf understands possession and taking. Stiles moans in agreement and tries to turn over to present his ass, but bruising hands on his hips stop him from moving.

"Just... let me," Derek says, and he opens Stiles's pants and pulls them down. The night air caresses his cock and balls, and Stiles needs Derek to touch him.

Derek uses his tongue. It's hot and wet, painting broad stripes up his cock, then down to tease his balls and Stiles can't stop making noise. He hears himself whining like a desperate animal, and his Alpha bites his thigh with sharp fangs, hard, and Stiles cries out even louder. There's the sudden scent of blood mixed with sex in the air now, and that's when Derek swallows him down.

Stiles would thrash in pleasure if he could move, but his Alpha has him pinned down to the ground. All he can do is hold on to Derek's shoulders, his claws piercing the skin. Derek growls in warning and Stiles tries to stop but the feeling of Derek's mouth is overwhelming him.

Stiles looks down and finds his Alpha watching him, his eyes glowing red with lust. Derek growls again and Stiles feels it everywhere. There's no sense in holding back; Stiles is too far gone to even think of that. He cries out when he comes and Derek swallows it all down.

Derek is breathing hard against his thigh, licking at his bitemark there. Stiles feels languid; he wants to curl up with his packmates and sleep now. But the scent of arousal is still strong, and his Alpha needs attention. Stiles whines and wriggles beneath him, but Derek shakes his head.

Then Derek fixes up Stiles's pants and helps him to his feet. He lets Stiles lean against him for a moment, but then he's pulling him along to where Stiles can feel the pack waiting for them.

They run more, but his Alpha doesn't grab him again, doesn't take the way Stiles thinks he should. They catch up with the pack and Stiles plays with Scott and Erica, yipping happily and chasing them in a circle. He thinks, vaguely, that the wolf is stronger in him than in the others.

Near morning they make it back to the house and somehow they all collapse into the Alpha's bed. As the moon is going down and the sun is rising, Stiles slowly comes back to himself. His wolf is still there, but not nearly as strong. He flushes, remembering the night in flashes.

"Go to sleep," Derek says gruffly at the back of his neck. He wraps an arm around Stiles's middle and pulls him close.

Stiles opens his mouth to say something — what, he doesn't know — but Derek squeezes him and he shuts it again. Then he closes his eyes, too, and sighs softly. He can feel that Derek is worried about something, so he sends him a burst of reassurance.

"That's my job," Derek grumbles, but the worry eases just a little.

Stiles is back home and Derek feels his absence as a physical ache. He rubs at his chest but it does nothing to ease the pain.

"We haven't talked about the Alpha pack," Peter says.

Derek grunts. He doesn't want to talk to Peter, but he has a point. They need a plan. "We're strong, almost strong enough to take them on."

"Almost being the key word in that sentence," Peter says. "If you'd do something about the bond I bet we'd get stronger."

"What am I supposed to do?" Derek asks with a growl. "And if you say what I think you want to say, I'll hurt you."

Peter looks more amused than frightened. "There's no reason to tell you when you already know."

"He's not my mate," Derek says.

Peter snorts, obviously amused by what Derek has said.

"What?" Derek growls.

"I think you know," Peter says pointedly.

"It's not a mating bond," Derek says slowly.

"Nephew, what you have with young Stiles is stronger than a mating bond. You should embrace it," Peter says. "It's good for both of you and good for your pack. What's the problem?"

"The problem is that he's still in high school," Derek growls. Also that Stiles is almost alarmingly submissive to him. He wants more. An equal.

"Oh, get over it," Peter says. "The only person who cares about that is the Sheriff, and I'm sure he can be talked around."

Sometimes Peter's immorality is frightening.

Except it's not just Peter. It's Deaton. And the pack, though no one has said anything outright. Derek can feel them all jittering with anticipation. They also seem annoyed at Derek's reluctance.

"What is wrong with everyone?" Derek mumbles to the ceiling.

Peter smirks. "Maybe you're the one who's wrong."

"I'm done talking about this," Derek says, putting force into the words.

"So am I," Peter says, looking more serious now. "Let's talk about the Alpha pack. We need a plan."

"I'm here. For my … lesson," Stiles says.

"Hello, Stiles. Come in," Deaton says, welcoming him into his house. "How do you feel?"

"Achy," Stiles says truthfully. He rubs his chest.

Deaton nods as if he was expecting that. "I talked to Derek about the bond, and let him know what you both need to do to stabilize it."

Stiles blinks. "Derek hasn't said anything. Why would he keep it from me?"

"It's delicate," Deaton says. "But I think you deserve to know."

"Well, yeah!" Stiles says. "It's my life, too. Derek doesn't have any right to hide things, important things from me." His inner wolf whines, though, saying Derek is Alpha and he has every right. Stiles scowls. He doesn't like his wolf very much at the moment.

So Deaton tells him. All of it.

It makes Stiles blush and stammer, but it also makes him angry. Why hasn't Derek shared this with him? Does he like what the bond has been doing, making Stiles more submissive and compliant? Dependent? Stiles doesn't like it one bit. Derek's not around at the moment, so nothing is keeping him from thinking clearly.

"If this was an ordinary mating bond, it would have settled by now," Deaton tells him. "You wouldn't be feeling the need to submit so strongly."

"Because we would have consummated it," Stiles says with a sigh. "But since Derek's holding back on me, we've both got to be in pain, and I've got to feel like doing whatever he wants whenever we're together?"

"That's exactly it," Deaton says.

Stiles sighs. "Right. Well, this isn't me. I want to be me."

"Tell that to Derek," Deaton says.

"Ugh," Stiles says. "Whoever thought being a werewolf would be easy was dead wrong."

Deaton smiles. "Enough about this. How about we work on learning to channel some magic?"

Stiles knows they have to start small as he's just learning, but that doesn't stop him from wishing for something bigger, something to help against the Alpha pack.

Maybe if he learns enough from Deaton, he'll be able to find something on his own.

"Concentrate," Deaton tells him after they've talked over the spell for an hour.

Stiles nods and holds out his hand. All he's got to do is draw the juice out of an apple. "Would it be easier if I held it?"

"Let's try it this way, first," Deaton says.

Stiles concentrates. He wills a change in the fruit, works his belief and magic until-

Until he's covered in tiny pieces of exploded apple and both he and Deaton are looking at the messy room, stunned to silence.

"That... might come in handy," Stiles says.

Derek feels Stiles's anger on the way before he hears the Jeep coming toward the house. He steps outside to wait. It doesn't take long.

Stiles looks thunderous when he slams the Jeep door. Like he's been working himself up as he drove out to see Derek. Maybe he has.

Derek says nothing, waits for Stiles to tell him what's going on. He has an idea, though.

"How long were you planning on letting this go on?" Stiles asks. Derek reaches out and drags him close against his body. Immediately the pain eases, and both of them sigh in relief.

"You talked to Deaton, then?" Derek asks. Stiles smells incredible.

"Derek," Stiles says, practically whines. His anger has all but dissipated. "Answer me."

"I thought- You're so young," Derek says with a sigh.

"The bond wouldn't push for a consummation if I wasn't ready," Stiles says. "Did you know it's making me — actually forcing me — to be submissive to you? I mean, above and beyond the normal dynamic." He huffs and Derek tightens his hold on him. He feels so good. It's difficult to keep from pulling him into the house and just taking him.

"I had an idea; you weren't acting exactly like yourself, but … I thought it was because this is so new," Derek says. He doesn't add And I liked that you needed me, though he's almost positive Stiles knows.

"We need to fuck," Stiles says and goes red. Derek can feel his embarrassment, but also his resolve.

Derek swallows hard. "You only want me because of the bond."

Stiles huffs a laugh. "No, see, you're so wrong about that," he says, mouthing along Derek's jaw. "I wanted you for months before this whole thing happened. I had fantasies. I even dreamed about you, night after night, so this whole 'it's just the bond' excuse doesn't fly." His mouth is hot and his breath feels even hotter.

Derek groans and tightens his hold on Stiles. "You've got to stop or I'll take you right here."

"That is such a good idea," Stiles breathes. "I want you to fuck me. You know you'll be my first, right?"

"Yeah," Derek says. Something primal inside him makes him say, "Your only."

"That should scare the shit out of me but it's just- Good. It's good," Stiles says.

Derek closes his eyes and feels his heart trip up at that.

Stiles is pressing against him even more, kissing his jaw, nipping lightly. His phone buzzes and Derek pulls away.

"You'd better answer it," Derek says.

Stiles nods and looks at his phone. "It's Dad." He sighs and answers, "Hey, Daddy-o. I'm- Yeah. I know I said I'd come straight home but-" He rolls his eyes, smiles at Derek. "Dad, hey, okay. I'm on my way." Stiles frowns. "Yeah, we need to talk. I know."

He ends the call and touches Derek's face. "Soon."

Derek gives in. He leans forward and kisses him gently. "Go home, talk to your dad. I'll call you."

"Where were you?" his dad asks.

Stiles is only halfway through the front door and he's already being interrogated. Great. "I was with Derek."

"I thought I told you no unsupervised visits," his dad says. If he were a werewolf, he'd be growling. "I don't trust him not to take advantage of you."

Stiles sighs and plops down in the living room. His dad remains standing. Psychological warfare, then.

"He's not, is he? You're still underage," his dad says. "If he's pressuring you..."

"God, no," Stiles says. "Derek would never. If anything, I've been pressuring him."

"What?" his father asks, clipped and sharp.

"Sit down, Dad," Stiles says.

"If it's gone beyond that one kiss, I'm going to kill him," his dad mutters, sitting in his recliner.

"Dad, would you just listen? We need to have a talk. About... about werewolves. And magic," Stiles says. "And about how I'm going to need Derek no matter what, but I'm not replacing you. Okay?"

"Magic?" his dad asks.

"Yeah," Stiles says, wiggling his fingers. "I've got this magic potential thing. I'm a Spark. So I've been learning some magic..."

"That sounds dangerous," his dad says. "Just who, exactly, is teaching you?"

"Doctor Deaton."

"I think we'll come back to this subject," his dad says darkly. "Tell me why you 'need' Derek."

"Okay. So, even without magic being a part of everything, and without the bond being sort of a transfer from one werewolf to another, Derek is my Alpha. I need him because he's the leader of my pack. I need to be around him, I need to touch him and be touched by him, I need to smell him. That's just regular old werewolfiness." He's not really embarrassed. It's who he is now.

"And you're saying there's more involved?" his dad asks, incredulous. "What's the bond?"

Stiles bites his lip for a second, then says, "Derek is connected to all his betas, but to me the most. Because of the way my turning went down, and the magic I put into it, the bond between us is super strong." Stiles looks away. "It's almost like a mating bond, but those are involuntary."

"So you're not mating. That's... comforting, at least," his dad says.

Stiles shakes his head. "No, no, it's... our bond? Is stronger. So yeah, there's kind of a natural imperative for us to get together."

"Get to- Absolutely not. You're still too young," his dad says.

Stiles is giving him a look now. "I'm not a kid."

"You're my kid," his dad says. "And Derek Hale is twenty-three. There's no way I'm-"

"Look, I'm not asking for your blessing!" Stiles says. "We have to consummate the bond, for reasons I'm not really comfortable talking about to you right now, but it's going to happen. I don't need your permission. I'm old enough to make my own decisions about sex."

His dad hides his face in his hands and groans.

"I know it's a lot to take in," Stiles says, softer now. "But you've got to trust me."

His dad picks up head up and asks, "And you're sure he isn't pressuring you?"

"No. No way," Stiles says. "Derek would never do anything like that."

"If he hurts you, I'll kill him," his dad says. "I don't know where to buy silver bullets, but I'll figure it out."

"Um, silver doesn't do much to werewolves, sorry," Stiles says. "You'd want wolfsbane."

His dad sighs. "Wolfsbane. Right. Well. Tell your boyfriend I want him to come over for dinner. We need to get to know each other."

Stiles nearly chokes at the word 'boyfriend' but he nods. "Sure thing."

"Good. I'll threaten him then."

The scary thing is that Stiles is sure he's not joking.

The plan is to lure the Alpha pack into the forest and blow them up.

Simple. Messy, but effective.

Of course it goes wrong.

The Alpha pack is wounded, shrapnel and wolfsbane embedded in their skin, keeping them from shifting forms.

They're still strong, though. Strong but outnumbered. Derek motions for his pack to attack, and they do, from all directions. The pack is strong, united. It helps that the confrontation is happening on Hale land, where the pack feels the most territorial. It sharpens their minds, their instincts.

Derek and Peter work together as they face off against the leader. Derek can feel Stiles stalking one of the others.

The leader had been taunting and laughing before they hit them with the 'bombs'. Now he's missing his jaw and can't say much. Peter laughs and together they take him down.

It's a bloody battle, and loud, and Derek feels Stiles's bloodlust rise up with his own.

"Stiles," one of the Alphas says, strolling toward him as if he has all the time in the world. Derek can feel Stiles's panic and Derek suddenly knows this is the one who tortured him, who tried to turn him.

Derek rounds on them, ready for vengeance.

"I'm stronger than you," Stiles says, his eyes directly on the Alpha, not paying any attention to the fighting going on around them.

The Alpha laughs. "Really?"

Stiles holds out his hand toward the Alpha, narrowing his eyes, and whispers inexplicably, "Just an apple."

The Alpha stops in his tracks and brings his hands to his head like he's in great pain, and then there is an explosion that rocks Derek back, an explosion of wet sickly sound and the thick red color of blood.

There is silence. The other Alphas stop fighting, no doubt feeling the loss of another packmate. Derek is the first to press the advantage and he attacks the closest remaining Alpha. He sees another running away and his betas giving chase. He claws out the throat of the one he's fighting, and it's over.

In the distance, he hears the last Alpha go down, his betas tearing him apart.

Stiles howls, blood and gore splattered everywhere. He looks across the clearing at Derek and the bond sings. Stiles watches as Derek stalks toward him, everything fading into the background.

Whatever Stiles could or would have said dies on his tongue when he takes in Derek's appearance. He's bloody and his shirt is gone, torn off in battle. There's a healing gash across his chest, and Stiles wants to lick. Wants to put his mouth everywhere.

Derek growls, his eyes glowing red, and Stiles tilts his head back automatically. He thinks yes, finally, please and then Derek is grabbing him and licking into his mouth.

It should be gross. They're covered in gore. But it doesn't seem to matter, only the heat and the bond and the need matters.

Derek's claws dig into Stiles's biceps and he whimpers from the pain of it, but also the idea of being marked by his Alpha. His own hands are clutching at Derek's shoulders, sharp claws unintentionally digging into the meaty muscle there. Derek growls and pushes him onto the ground.

"Finally," Stiles says, panting lightly, anticipation a tight knot in his gut.

"Last chance to run away," Derek says, and how is he so in control that he can speak?

Stiles shakes his head. He's never running from this, ever. The bond is screaming at him to submit to his Alpha, to let himself be claimed, to roll over and be taken. To consummate the bond and make it permanent, though Stiles is pretty sure it already is.

But besides the bond, Stiles wants this. Wants Derek. There's a part of him that wants something different than the bond does, but it's only a slight difference. For now, he'll play along.

It's not like it's a hardship.

Stiles groans and pulls Derek on top of him, until he's flush against him and will be able to feel just how much Stiles wants him. "Fuck me," Stiles gasps.

Derek growls again, and his eyes haven't stopped glowing since this started. His fangs are long and sharp when he moves in to nose at Stiles's neck, and when he nips his shoulder it hurts, but only in the best of ways.

Between their claws and their burning need for each other, their clothes come off, most everything hastily shredded and tossed aside. Their bare bodies meet and they both moan at the hot contact.

There's no lube and both of them are too clawed to open Stiles up. Derek rolls Stiles over and starts licking at his hole, fucking him with his tongue, until Derek gains a little control over himself and his fingers are normal again. Then he starts stretching Stiles, a slow burn that Stiles can feel everywhere, just this side shy of satisfaction. He whimpers and pushes back against the spit-slick fingers, knowing the fucking is going to hurt but not caring. He even thinks he'll enjoy the pain.

Stiles has his head down, pillowed in his arms, and his ass is up in air. He knows he should be embarrassed at the picture he makes, but again, he's not so much with the caring at the moment.

"Derek," Stiles whines, wanting more, wanting all Derek has to offer. "Please fuck me."

He hears Derek spit a few times into his hand, hears the slick sound of him stroking his cock with it. It makes Stiles's dick throb and spit out a few drops of precome onto the leaf-scattered ground.

Derek presses the tip of his cock at Stiles's entrance, teasing and then pushing in.

It hurts. God, does it hurt. Derek is fucking him open slowly with every shallow thrust, and every movement takes him just a little bit deeper. But Stiles can't get enough of it. He wriggles backwards, trying to get more in his ass.

Derek grunts and pulls back, then slams in, fingers once again clawed and holding tight to Stiles's hips. Stiles howls.

Derek fucks Stiles mercilessly, and Stiles can do nothing. He's helpless, only able to cry out and beg for more. Derek shifts his position and his cock drags over Stiles's prostate, and that's it, Stiles is gone. He loses sight of everything, his vision going gray, all outside sound muting down until all he hears is the steady slap of skin on skin and Derek's low growling moans.

And then Derek leans over him and bites his shoulder, and everything changes.

The bond flares its brightest and then, satisfied, it lets them be. It feels good, amazing, and Derek stops fucking for a moment. It's long enough for Stiles to pull off, turn around, and tackle Derek to the forest floor.

"Wha-?" Derek says, and then Stiles is sinking down on his cock, taking him in again, but riding him this time, totally in control of every movement.

The need to be totally submissive to Derek is gone, leaving only the need to be as close to Derek as he can possibly be, and to make them both come as hard as they can.

Derek looks up at him, a dazed look in his eyes. Stiles grins and rides harder, faster, clenching around Derek's cock so that he lets out a stream of dirty, filthy language that only serves to urge Stiles on.

Derek wraps one hand around Stiles's cock, tight and almost too rough, and Stiles tilts his head up to the sky and howls when he comes.

Derek stiffens when it happens and Stiles clenches around him, fucking himself through his own orgasm, riding Derek until Derek is coming too, yanking Stiles down to him and snarling out his completion against his skin.

Derek covers Stiles (who is passed out from exhaustion and sleeping it off) as best he can with his shredded clothes and then carries him back to the house.

The others look up when he comes into the house, all of them in a dirty pile on the floor, cuddling together in celebration. He can feel their tiredness through the pack bonds, but it doesn't take a bond to notice how smug they look when they take in Stiles's and his appearance. Erica grins and waves him upstairs, then goes back to snuggling up to Peter, of all people.

Peter smirks and nuzzles Erica's hair. Derek rolls his eyes and carries Stiles upstairs. There will be time to talk to everyone about this later. He lets his pride in his pack carry to each of his betas and leaves it there for now.

He strips Stiles again, this time more slowly, and lowers him to the bed. He cleans him off, his warm washcloth taking away the blood and dirt and leaving Stiles only with bruises and scrapes. They'll heal, Derek knows, and even as he watches some of the bruises change colors before his eyes and then sink back into Stiles's natural creamy complexion, disappearing for good.

There's a bite at his shoulder that will take longer to heal. It's a bite with intent, made to claim and possess.

Derek takes a quick three minute shower, just enough to scrub blood and dirt from his body, and then he's back in bed with Stiles, curling around his body protectively. He wants to lick at the claiming bite, to taste it, to feel its texture beneath his tongue. His guilt holds him off.

He doesn't drift off exactly, but he does close his eyes and hold Stiles. The bond is still there, and Derek reaches out and grasps it gently, just another part of Stiles he can touch.

The entire night plays out again behind Derek's eyelids, and he frowns when he realizes how Stiles blew an Alpha werewolf apart with only his will.

But then the fight was over, and Stiles submitted, and Derek took without thought to what either of them really wanted. It was the bond urging them on, the bond that drew them to one another, sealing them together for life. What if Stiles hadn't wanted that? What if, now that the bond has been satisfied, Stiles no longer looks at him the same way?

Except, at the end, Stiles was Stiles, wasn't he? He turned the tables on everything, after the bond settled, after it stopped pushing for his submission.

"You think so loud," Stiles mumbles.

Derek's eyes snap open and he looks over at a smiling Stiles. He looks sleepy still, but he's whole and Derek doesn't have to use the bond to tell he's happy.

Derek says nothing, waits for Stiles to say something. He doesn't wait long.

"If I know you at all, and I like to think I do, I'd say you're feeling guilty over something," Stiles says. "And that's without checking the bond." He turns so that he's facing Derek completely, propping himself up on his arm and looking fond and exasperated at the same time.

"Do you feel different now?" Derek asks slowly.

Stiles stretches and Derek can't help but watch the way his muscles play beneath his smooth skin. Derek's cock twitches and begins to fill. He's never been so grateful for a sheet in his life.

"I feel sore, but amazing," Stiles says. "And I can lie here with you for a moment without my instincts taking over completely." He leans over and kisses Derek's shoulder. "So tell me what the matter is and let me fix it."

"If you'd been in your right mind, you wouldn't have wanted me like that," Derek mumbles.

Stiles snorts. "Excuse me?"

"The bond made you-"

Stiles shuts him up with a kiss. It's open mouthed and dirty, and it makes Derek forget what he was saying.

"I want you. Bond or no bond," Stiles murmurs. "Maybe I don't want to be your bitch..." He gets a thoughtful look on his face. "Maybe I don't always want to be your bitch, but believe me when I say I want you."

"It's forever," Derek says. "There's no getting rid of it."

Stiles smiles and nuzzles Derek's neck, then bites hard on his shoulder with his human teeth. "I don't mind. I kinda like it."

Derek wants to ask, And me? How do you feel about me?

It must come through somehow though, because Stiles presses close and kisses him gently, pushing something along the bond that feels a lot like love.

It's too soon, too much, and Derek doesn't deserve it. He opens his mouth to tell Stiles so, but Stiles kisses him again, hard and reckless, and Derek is moaning and pulling him over so that Stiles is lying on top of him.

Stiles looks down at him, happiness and satisfaction rolled into one. He moves against him and their cocks catch, slide, strain against each other.