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"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Scott asked nervously, as Stiles drew a chalk half-moon on the floor around Derek's bare feet.

"It's a great idea!" Stiles said, carefully setting a porcelain bowl full of various powders inside the half moon. "According to the book, this'll double Derek's power. The alpha pack is going to take one look at him and head for the hills."

They'd managed to drive them out of town five times already, but they just kept coming back. Fighting them off had become an unwelcome summer tradition, but this year the Hale pack would be ready to send them packing for good.

Scott gave Stiles a look that was positively soaked in skepticism before he turned to Derek. "Are you really okay with this?" he asked him, in a way that made it clear he thought Derek had lost his mind if that was the case. He was usually super supportive of Stiles’ plans, but this spell was a lot more complicated than anything they’d done before, and he’d been fretting over it off and on for weeks, every time Stiles talked about it.

Derek shrugged and wrinkled his nose at the box of herbs and rocks and bones he was clutching to his chest. "We’re running out of other options." He was naked, and didn't seem to care. Scott, on the other hand, was determinedly looking only at Derek's face. "Nothing else has worked so far."

The words themselves weren’t exactly loaded with enthusiasm, but Derek gave Stiles a quick, soft smile that said he wasn’t worried.

“See? Derek thinks it’ll work,” Stiles said confidently. “He knows this is a game-changer.”

“Stiles says it’s going to be ‘amazeballs,’” Derek told Scott, complete with audible quotation marks.

"Oh, God, don't say 'amazeballs,'" Stiles groaned. Derek always made it sound so dorky when he said it, like when parents used slang. It was awful, and Derek probably knew it. He said it suspiciously often.

Scott had a pained look on his face, which Stiles chose to believe was because of Derek and not Stiles. “If you’re sure,” Scott said hesitantly, eyes flicking from Stiles to Derek.

"Stop worrying, it'll be fine," Stiles said breezily, right before he lit the two matches and dropped them into the bowl at Derek's feet.

The resulting explosion blew Derek right through what was left of the Hale house dining room wall.

"Oh my God!" Stiles shrieked, or thought he shrieked. His ears were ringing so badly his own voice sounded muffled. The room was filled with blue smoke, even with all the windows and most of the roof missing, and bits of debris were still falling around them as he struggled to sit up, coughing and trying to wipe the dust and ash out of his eyes.

He and Scott had been knocked on their asses, but the chalk half-moon had seemed to focus the majority of the explosion in Derek's direction. Stiles didn't really feel hurt, and Scott was already climbing to his feet, so that was good news, but he couldn't even see Derek.

Scott reached to help Stiles up and they started picking their way across the floor, trying to avoid the pieces of wood that had rusty nails sticking out of them, which seemed like all of them. There was no movement from what had once been the dining room, which meant Derek was probably dead. Stiles had killed his boyfriend, and they hadn't even been together long enough to fight over whose sperm they were eventually going to use to make a baby. (Derek's, obviously. Stiles wanted attractive kids.)

Then a splintered piece of what looked like a scorched china cabinet moved, and Derek's head slowly emerged. First his hair, looking understandably flattened, and then his face, smudged with black soot and squinched in either pain or anger. With Derek it was sometimes hard to tell.

"Oh, thank God," Scott and Stiles said in unison. Stiles’ ears still felt like they were stuffed with cotton, but he could sort of hear.

"Was that supposed to happen?" Derek asked hoarsely, looking adorably befuddled as he blinked up at them. Stiles wanted to kiss him all over his dirty face, but manfully refrained.

"Maybe?" Stiles hedged. Side effects include being blown up! seemed like something that should have been mentioned, but the kind of people who wrote spell books were, unsurprisingly, prone to perpetuating an aura of mystery. Scott gave Stiles a horrified stare, and looked like he was about to yell at him for being so cavalier, but Derek just harrumphed and tried to wiggle a little further out of the wreckage.

They helped dig him out, Scott doing most of the heavy lifting, and once Derek got unsteadily to his feet Stiles handed him his pants. Derek was scratched and covered in grime and had some blood on him, but seemed otherwise okay.

"So? Did it work?" Stiles asked, when he was sure Derek was fine, trying not to sound too eager. It seemed bad form to be too excited so soon after blowing Derek up, even if it had been done with the best of intentions.

"I don't think so," Derek said, eyes going unfocused for a second like he was looking inward, trying to figure out if he felt more powerful, and then they all practically jumped out of their skins when the pile of debris shifted and another Derek climbed out, looking as dirty and naked as the first one, and even more bloody.

All three of them stood frozen in place as the second Derek looked at the first Derek, then at Stiles, then at Scott, and then at the first Derek again. The second Derek tentatively lifted his hand and waved. "Hey, guys."

"Oops," Stiles said.

~*~

"Wow, this is awesome!" Derek Two said, when they explained to him what they'd done and why, with the spell. "We can be alphas together! I mean, who better to have at your back than yourself, right?" He grinned and held his hand up to Derek, waiting for a high five.

Derek stared at him for a beat, expressionless, before he turned to Stiles. "How do we get rid of him?"

~*~

The problem was, Stiles didn't actually know how to get rid of him.

When they'd been in the research phase of this whole endeavor, they hadn't seen anything in the book about how to reverse the spell, so Stiles had assumed it would wear off on its own, or possibly be permanent. Since neither Derek nor Stiles had been able to come up with any downsides to the possibility of Derek being more powerful forever, they'd hand waved right past that detail. That was maybe—possibly--in retrospect--a little careless of them.

But in their defense, they hadn't counted on the spell being quite so literal--Derek was now twice as powerful because there were two of him, and Derek was not willing to hand wave that. He was completely and irrevocably against having Derek Two for even one second longer than necessary, and he wasn't shy about saying so, repeatedly. Derek Two looked a little more crushed by it every time.

After a day and a half of research it was clear there was nothing in the spell book—or anywhere else Stiles could think to look—that explained how to undo it, Deaton was conveniently out of town, and Derek's suggestions were all along the lines of "lock him in the attic" and "give him a hundred bucks and a bus ticket to Toronto." So they did the only thing they could do, which was give him some of Derek's clothes and get him set up in one of the more habitable bedrooms in the Hale house until they could get everyone together and break the news.

"Hey. So. Kind of a funny story," Stiles opened with, once everyone gathered at the house. Since it was summer, everyone was in town, even Jackson and Lydia, who were leaning against each other near the fireplace, looking like they’d rather be anywhere else.

Derek Two stepped around the doorway to the kitchen and said, "There's two of us now!" complete with a little jazz hands flourish. He was wearing a pair of Derek's jeans, a pair of Derek's old tennis shoes, and a pale blue T-shirt with a Care Bear on it that had definitely never been Derek's. He was grinning like he'd just won the lottery, instead of inherited a gig co-parenting a pack of dumb kids who somehow kept lucking into not dying.

"Whoa," Isaac said, at the same time Erica breathed, "Holy fucking shit."

Jackson looked almost as disgusted by this turn of events as Derek did. "This is not a funny story, Stilinski," he said. "Not funny at all."

Emilio and Enrique, two born wolf brothers who had shown up just a few months ago looking for a pack, exchanged a look that clearly said this kind of freaky shit was not what they'd bargained for when they came to Beacon Hills.

Before Stiles could explain further, Derek Two darted back into the kitchen, then reappeared carrying two giant pink pastry boxes. "Who wants cupcakes?" he asked, sounding disturbingly like the host of a children's TV show.

Derek Two was obviously a wily fucker, because everyone immediately clustered around him and started shaking hands and introducing themselves, and exclaiming over the enormous colorful cupcakes in the boxes. "Oooh, carrot cake," Scott said, and then, "Stiles, there's a lemon one!"

Lemon was Stiles' favorite. He ignored the look of betrayal Derek gave him as he elbowed Boyd out of the way and grabbed the one with the bright yellow swirls of frosting on top.

"I'm still the alpha!" Derek said, just so there wasn't any confusion, but everyone was so busy stuffing their faces with sugar Stiles wasn't sure they even heard him. Or cared.

~*~

"I think we should stay away from each other while he's here," Derek said the next day, all shifty eyes and down-turned mouth. They were alone in his sad excuse for a kitchen while everyone else was enjoying an impromptu cookout in the back yard, complete with overly loud music and roasted weenies. Derek Two's idea.

"Are you kidding?" Stiles asked. Why the hell would they do that? "Why the hell would we do that?"

"It's safer that way," Derek said, overdoing the grim determination a little bit. "I don't trust him. The less he knows about us, the better."

Stiles closed his eyes and massaged his temples while he let that sink in. "Let me just make sure I'm understanding this," he said eventually, looking over at Derek, who had his "I'm serious about this, Stiles!" face on. "You're trying to hide the fact that you like me from yourself? That's some messed up shit, even for you." And Stiles had thought they were past this. Everyone knew about them, except Stiles' father, and the world hadn't ended. Stiles wasn't happy with this regression.

"He's not me," Derek said, for probably the hundredth time in less than three days.

"He's basically you," Stiles said, also for the hundredth time in less than three days.

Derek set his jaw and pointed over Stiles' shoulder. When Stiles turned to look, he could see Derek Two through the window--it was impossible to miss the guy in the neon green board shorts waving a speared hot dog over his head and dancing to "Call Me Maybe."

"Okay, so he's not exactly you," Stiles conceded. "He's more like…a twin."

"An evil twin," Derek said darkly, and Stiles very kindly did not point out that in this situation Derek himself was probably the evil twin, not the other way around.

In reality, Stiles wasn't sure at all what Derek Two was. He wasn't a duplicate—he didn't appear to have any of the original Derek's memories—but he didn't actually have any of his own, either, so he wasn't another Derek from an alternate universe. (Which disappointed Stiles greatly—he would have given anything to meet someone from an alternate universe, just once in his life.) Derek Two just kind of…existed. He knew some basic things about the original Derek, but they seemed to be mostly inferred from his own thought processes, and when Stiles had tried to get him to describe what he recalled from before the moment he popped up out of the wreckage of the dining room, he'd just shrugged and said, "Nothing."

He was more like some weird, extreme side of Derek, made flesh and walking around separate from him. Except it was a side of Derek that most of them had rarely seen, even Stiles, who was most familiar with what Derek looked like when he was genuinely happy. In fairness, there hadn’t been a lot to be happy about for a long time. This Derek was happy all the time, about everything.

When Stiles had first met Derek, he’d mostly smiled when he was being a sarcastic asshole, or trying to manipulate someone, but he’d definitely loosened up a bit since then—only to immediately lose almost all the progress he’d made as soon as Derek Two appeared, reverting back to the grim and stoic Derek for years past. Stiles was hoping it was only temporary. He’d kind of forgotten, in the intervening time, what a downer past Derek had been.

"I'm serious, Stiles," Derek said, which his face had already said loud and clear, so Stiles knew that. He moved closer, hooking an arm around Stiles' waist and pulling him close. "He could use it against us."

It was hard to resist Derek when he was sincerely worried, even if it meant their sex life was going to be severely compromised for however long Derek Two was around, so Stiles leaned into him. He sighed heavily, just so Derek would know what a sacrifice this was, and said, "Okay, sure, if that's what you think is best."

"I do," Derek said. He did sound a little regretful, which was nice.

They stuck to that plan for a whole two hours, until right about the time the party moved indoors, and Derek Two leaned against the charred living room wall next to Stiles and smiled at him and handed him a beer. Before Stiles could even bring it all the way up to his mouth, Derek was there, sliding between them, crowding Stiles into his armpit, and deftly plucking the bottle from Stiles' hand.

"He's driving," Derek said reproachfully, glaring at Derek Two.

"It's just one beer!" Stiles protested.

"Ask your dad if that counts," Derek shot back, and Stiles gave that argument up for dead, just like he had every time so far. Derek was tougher than the state of California when it came to blood alcohol limits.

Three years ago, Stiles’ dad had cornered Derek in the power tool aisle at Lowe’s and cheerfully warned him that if he caught Stiles or any of Derek’s other underage friends with booze, he would be beating a path straight to Derek’s door. Derek had lived in paranoia regarding anything having to do with Stiles and alcohol ever since, even after Stiles turned twenty-one. Maybe especially after.

Derek Two flicked an eyebrow at Derek. "Is that the only problem you have with this?" he asked, waving a hand between himself and Stiles, who was now slowly being squished in the steadily shrinking space between Derek and a crooked bookcase. The corner of Derek Two's mouth twitched, and Stiles could tell he already knew about them. So much for hiding it.

"Back off," Derek hissed, and Stiles actually saw his eyes flash red for an instant, and then Derek Two's eyes did the same, and they locked in on each other, teeth bared. Stiles felt more than heard the sub-vocal growl start in Derek's chest and holy shit, two alpha werewolves were about to fight over him. He winced as he was crammed even further into the corner.

"Dude, you're hurting me!" Stiles said, which was cheap and manipulative, and not actually true, but it worked, because both Dereks instantly switched their focus to him, and the fight went out of them like a couple of popped balloons.

Derek Two made an abortive attempt to reach out to Stiles, concern all over his face, and if he'd been a regular human he probably would have lost the arm. Being also a Derek, he got it out of the way in time when Derek lunged at him, snarling, and Derek Two immediately backed off, hands held up like he was surrendering to the police.

The rest of the group had gone silent and a few of them were cautiously edging closer, not eager to get between two alphas, but a little worried nonetheless. One Direction played on in the background, inappropriately bouncy for the tense situation.

Derek moved enough to give Stiles some breathing room, but kept his body between Stiles and the other Derek. He watched, stone-faced, as Derek Two turned and walked out the room. After a few seconds of visible hesitation, Isaac trotted out after him.

"So, I guess we can forget that plan," Stiles said, when Derek finally let him out of the corner. "He already knows."

Derek made an unhappy noise, and he still looked like he was an inch away from committing a homicide, but he gave Stiles' arm a gentle, apologetic squeeze. He was still holding the beer, but didn’t appear to be aware of it.

Stiles' phone trilled at him, a welcome distraction. It was his father, letting him know he was spending the night at Rachel's house. Rachel was his dad's new—first, only—girlfriend. She owned a bakery, and was ranked fourth in the nation in women's skeet shooting; Dad had met her at the shooting range. She was also younger than Stiles' dad, and really pretty. The first time Stiles had met her, he'd had to fight the urge to give his dad a high five.

"The sheriff's dating the donut lady?" Stiles had asked, when his dad told him about her during their weekly phone call. It was Stiles' first week back at college, and he always worried about leaving his dad alone, so it was welcome news, as long as this lady wasn't going to stuff Dad with donuts.

"I'm embracing the stereotype," his dad had said, but he'd sounded pretty happy.

And Stiles had been pretty happy for his dad, and then when he'd come home for the summer he'd realized the added bonus was that Dad mostly stayed at her place, because she had a kid. Stiles' dad not being home meant Derek could be there overnight, instead of them having to constantly sleep in Derek's crumbling castle of despair.

"Let's go to my house," Stiles said to Derek, goosing him a little just to watch him twitch. When Derek didn't immediately jump at the suggestion, Stiles grabbed his ass again, this time in a way that made it really, really clear what he wanted to do once they got to his place, and that finally got Derek moving, digging his car keys out of his jacket pocket.

It was a brilliant plan, actually. Not only would it separate the two Dereks, but there was a guest bedroom with a double bed in it next to Stiles' room; they'd gotten a lot of use out of that bed when Stiles' dad wasn't home. That would definitely cheer Derek up.

~*~

"Do you like him?" Derek asked, a little later, after they'd put the double bed through its paces. Derek seemed…moderately cheered. Stiles was trying not to take it personally.

"Well, yeah," Stiles shrugged. "I mean, I know you don't trust him, but he seems like a really good guy." He'd seen nothing so far that indicated otherwise.

Derek sat up and swung his feet down to the floor, like he was getting out of bed, but he didn't actually stand up. He turned to look at Stiles over his shoulder. "I meant—are you attracted to him?"

It didn't pay to lie to Derek, because he could tell. "I'm not gonna lie, dude. I think he's hot like burning, because I think you're hot like burning and he looks just like you and—" Stiles hesitated a second before his mouth over-ran his brain filter "--would it really be cheating if we had sex?"

"Yes," Derek said, though his mouth didn't move at all. Not even a twitch. It was kind of impressive.

"Really?" Stiles asked, though he wasn't surprised by the answer, given what had happened when Derek Two had tried to give him a beer. So forward of him!

Derek somehow managed to convey that he was scowling without actually moving his face. "Yes."

Stiles worked over that problem for a few seconds before he realized where the communication gap was. "No, I meant what if we had sex with him?"

"Jesus Christ, Stiles," Derek said, in a disgusted tone. He looked genuinely shocked by the suggestion. "No fucking way."

"What? You don't think about it?" Stiles was astounded by this. He'd thought about having a double Derek threesome at least once a day since Derek Two showed up. Five times a day. More if he happened to be in the same place with both of them at the same time.

Derek gave him a skeptical look. "Tell me honestly, if there were suddenly two of you, would you really want to have sex? All three of us togeth--"

"Yes!" Stiles said immediately.

"Oh my God," Derek groaned. He dropped his head into his hands and began slowly rocking back and forth. "Oh my God."

"Though I'll admit I wouldn't be that enthused about having to watch my own orgasm face, which is just ridiculous," Stiles admitted. "I don't know how you can fuck me without cracking up. I look like I touched an electric fence. And there you are, looking like the patron saint of homemade porn. I could make a fortune on the internet selling clips of you taking it in the ass. It's not fair."

Derek's fingers tightened in his hair and he made a pained sound. "Please stop."

"I wish you'd never let me talk you into making that video," Stiles continued. "I'm totally traumatized. Why didn't you stand firm on that?"

"Because I can't stand firm on anything with you," Derek said, head still in his hands, sounding pitiful.

~*~

So, clearly Derek hated himself, which would have been funny if it hadn't been so painfully symbolic.

In Derek's defense, Derek Two was obviously not a true duplicate of the original Derek. Physically, they were indistinguishable, except that Derek Two preferred to be clean-shaven, but personality-wise they were vastly different. Derek Two was really friendly and outgoing, and smiled a lot, and liked to wear bright colors. He was also a hugger.

"Hey, I brought coffee for everyone!" Derek Two said, smiling at all their shocked faces over the top of the little cardboard trays of Starbucks balanced on his hands. The pack was huddled around a beat up table in the Hale house, trying to figure out where the strange white rats they'd been seeing all over town were coming from.

Derek Two whistled cheerfully as he set the trays down and started handing out coffees, and it quickly became apparent that in the two weeks since his sudden appearance, he'd learned exactly how everyone liked their coffee. Even Jackson, who usually referred to the two Dereks as "Dickbag One" and "Dickbag Two." But now Jackson took the steaming paper cup Derek Two offered him, and refrained from insulting him when he did it, which was practically a tongue-kiss when it came to Jackson, so that was impressive.

The others, especially Isaac, had been much more easily won over by Derek Two's easygoing nature and eagerness to make friends. They happily accepted their drinks while Derek stood off to the side and scowled. Stiles took one sip of his and grinned: almost as much milk as coffee, and just the right amount of sugar. Perfection.

"And tea for you," Derek Two said to Boyd, who looked pleased he'd remembered he hated coffee.

Despite the feeling of goodwill in the room, everyone froze when Derek Two finally turned to Derek. "Here you go, buddy," he said, handing him the last cup. "Black like your soul." He punched Derek on the shoulder and grinned at him before he sat down next to Stiles and said, "So, what are we doing?"

"We think we've narrowed it down to this area," Boyd said, tapping the map with his finger, and everyone turned their attention back to him.

"Excellent!" Derek Two said, because he had a positive attitude about everything and praised them all for even the tiniest thing, like a grandpa handing out candy as a reward for simply being a kid and in his vicinity.

Derek sneered and rolled his eyes, but he did drink the coffee.

~*~

"I think everyone likes him better than me," Derek said later, when he and Stiles were on Derek's rickety bed. Derek Two was out skateboarding with Isaac, whose crush was reaching a level that was painful to witness, and also weirding everyone out. The rest of the group had scattered to who knew where. Once they were alone, Derek had been in a hurry to get Stiles upstairs, which was why one of Stiles' shoes was somewhere on the landing, and his shirt was out in the hallway.

"That's not true," Stiles said, patting him on the arm, but it pretty much was. He squirmed around and tried to get some more of the blanket out from under Derek's legs. They'd gotten all sweaty and now he was starting to get cold, because his boyfriend lived in a house with only half a roof. "Wait--are you trying to get us to like you?" he asked. "Because if you are, you’ve been going about it a really strange way."

Derek lifted his butt so Stiles could get the blanket out. "I'm trying to keep everyone alive," he said tersely, and that was what suddenly made Stiles feel bad for him. Derek really was trying to be a good alpha. He just kind of sucked at it sometimes, because he hadn't been brought up to be one, and he had no one to look to for guidance, and he had the added burden of constantly being under siege.

"Hey," Stiles said softly. "I know you are. Come here." He held up his arm so Derek could scoot under it.

"He keeps trying to be my friend," Derek said, lip curling in disgust as he settled against Stiles' side.

"He's trying to be everyone's friend," Stiles pointed out. Derek Two followed everyone on Twitter, even Jackson. No one followed Jackson on Twitter because all he did was post selfies, usually with the Porsche in the background.

"Ugh," Derek said, and closed his eyes. A second later he resentfully flung an arm across Stiles' middle, like he was incredibly put out by his own need to cuddle. Stiles rewarded him by carding his fingers through the hair at the back of his neck, which Derek loved.

What Stiles didn't say was that it was working—Derek Two was becoming friends with everyone, and maybe Derek could take a little bit of a cue from that. It was impossible not to notice that the whole pack seemed happier and more cohesive since Derek Two's sudden appearance. That didn't exactly reflect well on Derek's leadership skills, or his personal ones, either. Stiles couldn't bring himself to point that out.

~*~

When he was home on breaks, Stiles worked at the video game store in town, which wasn't a bad gig, because he got paid to talk about gaming all day, and they were allowed to play if things were slow and they didn't have anything else to do. The owner, Russ, was a pretty cool guy, one of those out-of-shape, aging gamer dudes who would probably die with a controller in his hand. Stiles had no complaints, even when he had to work the closing shift on Saturday nights, when they hosted tournaments and were open until eleven.

Everyone else had already disappeared by the time Stiles shut everything down and locked the door. Nothing else in the strip mall was open this late, so the parking lot was deserted, which was a little creepy, especially knowing the alpha pack would probably show up any day now. But Stiles didn't have to worry, because Derek had insisted on playing chauffeur tonight and was waiting for him, leaning against the side of the Camaro.

When they got in, Derek leaned over and gave him a quick kiss, and then put his hands on the steering wheel and didn't start the car.

"Oh, shit. Now what's wrong?" Stiles asked, the giddiness over seeing his sexy werewolf boyfriend waiting for him going up in a puff of smoke.

"I need to tell you something," Derek said, darting nervous glances in Stiles' direction but not looking directly at him. "And it has to stay a secret."

Stiles dug his fingers into his thighs, willing himself to stay calm, even though that sounded really, really bad. "Did you kill someone?" he asked, hushed.

"What?" Derek asked, whipping his head around to gape at Stiles. "Of course not."

Stiles gaped back. "Why is that such an outrageous suggestion? You kill people—things—all the time! We both do!"

Derek huffed, acknowledging that Stiles had a point, or so Stiles chose to believe. "You're usually there. Or the cause," Derek pointed out, which, yes, true, but Stiles had only been the cause twice. Okay, three times.

"So what is it?" Stiles prompted. He needed to know now.

Derek stared out the windshield again for a moment, obviously putting a lot of effort into working up to saying whatever it was he needed to say. Stiles waited quietly, because he'd learned from experience that trying to prompt him to just say it already would only prolong the process more. Finally, after the dome light had already clicked off and Stiles was regretting not peeing before he locked up the shop, Derek came out with it.

"I can't shift," he said, all in a rush. When he finally glanced over at Stiles again, he looked scared.

"Are you kidding?" Stiles asked, even though he already knew the answer to that, just by the way Derek was acting. Derek swallowed hard and shook his head. "Since when?"

"Since the spell," Derek said, like that should have been obvious.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Stiles screeched, bolting upright so fast he hit his head on the roof of the stupid Camaro. "That was weeks ago! You're just telling me now?!"

Derek, at least, looked sufficiently guilty over withholding this information. "I was hoping it would fix itself," he muttered, practically squirming in his seat.

Stiles thought back, going over the last few weeks. Had he really not seen Derek shift at all? He was so used to it—Derek was Derek was Derek, no matter how many eyebrows or teeth he had—that it barely registered what he looked like anymore.

"Wait," he said, snapping his fingers at Derek. "I saw you shift at your house. When Derek Two gave me that beer."

Derek shook his head. "That was when I realized I couldn't. That was just my eyes." He demonstrated, flashing his red eyes for a second. "I can't do anything else. No fangs, no claws."

"Oh, shit," Stiles said weakly.

He couldn't go into beta shift, was what Derek meant. He still hadn't mastered the alpha shift like Peter had, and Stiles suspected he'd given up hope he ever would. He hadn't tried it, as far as Stiles knew, in months. And he didn't even talk about going full wolf—it was probably impossible.

But losing the beta shift, too? That was bad. That was so, so bad. The alpha pack was coming—they'd already graffitied the house, as usual—and Derek's pack would have to fight them. Every year the alphas' ultimatum to Derek was "join us or die" and every year Derek did neither, but they never gave up, which honestly made Stiles a little embarrassed for them. Like, get a clue, losers. He's just not that into you.

So far, every time they'd shown up Derek's pack managed to pull a Hail Mary out of their asses and drive them off, but they kept coming back over and over again, and Derek's pack was running out of Hail Marys. Something needed to be done permanently—hence their attempt at the spell—but if Derek couldn't shift at all, his pack would be at even more of a disadvantage this year.

Maybe this time, the alpha pack would finally get what they wanted. And since Derek was adamant he was not going to join them ever ever ever, the only other outcome was that Derek would die.

Stiles felt like he might throw up.

"Are you ever going to tell me why you're so against joining them?" he asked Derek. Because, really, if it meant saving Derek's life, Stiles couldn't see the downside to it. How bad could it be? Maybe he could just join for a little while, like a temp or a consultant alpha or something.

"Someday, maybe," Derek hedged. It was the same answer he'd been giving for years, so it didn't give Stiles much hope. And now was not the time to press for more information, when Derek was already looking like his chest was caving in.

"Okay. Well, we'll figure out something," Stiles said. He hated to bring this up, because it was already such a sore topic, but it was kind of important: "Can Derek Two shift?"

Derek's nose wrinkled in disgust. "I don't know. I didn't ask him."

"We need to find out," Stiles said. Derek plainly didn't want to—he really, really didn't want anyone else to know. He'd even hidden it from Stiles. "Derek, come on. We need to find out. You know I'm right."

"Fine," Derek sighed, and started the car.

When they got to the Hale house, Derek Two was in his room, already asleep. Stiles ragged his ass out of bed and got right to the point. Still half asleep, and looking chagrined, Derek Two came clean. He couldn't shift either.

Up until now, Stiles had been operating under the assumption that the appearance of a second Derek was an overly-literal result of the spell, but their inability to shift completely threw what theory right out the window. Instead of one doubly powerful Derek, or two regularly powerful Dereks, they had two not-quite-as-powerful Dereks, and that was absolutely not what the spell had been meant to achieve. Something had gone wrong with it.

They were so screwed.

~*~

Given this terrible development, Stiles had no choice but to go to Deaton the next day and confess what they'd done. He'd been back from his trip for weeks, but Stiles had been avoiding him.

"I was wondering when you were going to finally tell me," Deaton said, the creepy motherfucker.

"Well, I'm telling you now," Stiles said, irked. "And not only did the spell not help, it kind of put us at an even greater disadvantage." He explained about the shift problem.

Before he'd even finished, Deaton was already stacking books in Stiles' arms. "You can start with these," he said. "I've got some other resources I'll consult. I'm sure I don't need to tell you time is of the essence here. With the alpha pack bearing down on us…"

"I know, I know," Stiles said, trying to keep the aggravation out of his voice. This was his fault, he readily admitted that, but he hated being lectured.

"Do not try anything without consulting me first," Deaton said firmly, as he held the door open for Stiles, and Stiles just nodded meekly and scurried toward the Jeep.

He went straight to Derek's place and divided the books up between himself and the two Dereks. "Everyone thinks we're looking for new ways to fight the alpha pack, so they won't think it's strange we're doing tons of research," he said. They'd agreed to keep the shift problem just between themselves and Deaton for now. "Just look for anything related to not being able to shift, especially after being the subject of a spell."

Derek Two was already flipping through one of his books while he munched on a Twizzler. "I can help for a few hours now, but I have a poetry slam tonight," he said. He looked up at Stiles. "You can come if you want."

"Uh. I should probably spend as much time as possible researching," Stiles said, as Derek grumbled under his breath. "But thanks."

"Maybe next time," Derek Two said, smiling.

"Yeah," Stiles said, unenthusiastically. "Maybe next time."

Derek snorted, and stole a Twizzler.

~*~

"Allison called me," Scott said casually, while he and Stiles were dousing a big pile of rat corpses with gas.

"No way," Stiles said, pausing with the gas can in his hand. His eyes were watering from the fumes. He hated burning corpses, which was unfortunate because it seemed like there was always a corpse or twenty to be burned in Beacon Hills. Stiles was considering looking into outsourcing. "What'd she want?"

"She says the hunters are tired of the alpha pack, too, and they're interested in working together."

"Derek will never go for it," Stiles said flatly. He screwed the top back on his gas can and walked over to set it down well away from what was about to be a pretty big fire. "And I'm not inclined to, either."

Stiles wasn't a fan of the Argents in general, after everything that had gone down with that family. Erica and Boyd felt the same, for obvious reasons. Gerard Argent was long gone, Kate Argent dead and buried, but the animosity between the remaining Argents and the Hale pack remained. And Stiles and Scott and all the other younger pack members had had to finish out their high school years with Allison in their class. Talk about awkward.

Allison had a whole new group of friends now, and had for years. Derek's pack and the Argent family gave each other a wide berth, and now that they were all out of high school they almost never saw each other, except by accident. Beacon Hills wasn't that big.

"She seemed sincere," Scott said, setting his can down next to Stiles'. "Maybe we could get rid of the alpha pack for good this time with their help."

"Your optimism is precious," Stiles said.

Scott was undeterred. "What if this is just the start, like, testing the waters? What if we can work out some kind of truce?"

"Maybe," Stiles said doubtfully. "And maybe this is just a ploy to get all the werewolves in Beacon Hills in the same place and kill them in one fell swoop."

The look on Scott's face told Stiles that thought had already crossed his mind. He seemed encouraged despite that, though. "What if I talk to her a little first?" he asked. "In person, I mean. I could tell if she was lying. And if she's telling the truth then we see if we can get Derek to agree."

"Good luck with that," Stiles snorted. He took a lighter and two packets of firecrackers out of his jacket pocket. They'd learned the hard way it was a bad idea to get close to a gasoline-soaked pile of dead stuff with an open flame. This was much safer, and more fun.

"He'll listen to you," Scott said, an adorably hopeful look on his face.

"Oh no," Stiles said immediately. "No. I'm not going near that topic with a ten foot pole."

Derek was already feeling overwhelmed with everything that was going on: the alpha pack, the other Derek, his inability to shift, his ongoing general angst. If Stiles so much as hinted that he wanted to discuss an alliance with the Argents, Derek's head was likely to explode. And Stiles had already blown Derek up once this summer.

"Just think about it," Scott urged, taking a packet of firecrackers when Stiles handed them over. "I'll talk to Allison. There's no harm in seeing her for a few minutes."

"You're not thinking you guys might get back together are you?" Stiles asked, suspicious. He didn't like the way Scott's voice sounded when he talked about her.

"I don't know," Scott shrugged, and Stiles had to at least give him points for honesty. Scott had dated a few other people in the intervening years, and so had Allison, but Stiles had always gotten the feeling that things between them weren't quite finished. He'd been hoping that feeling was wrong. "I guess if things were right…maybe. But we need to get this alpha thing settled first. Just think about it, okay?"

"All right," Stiles said, and flicked the lighter. He held it up, and he and Scott both stuck their firecracker fuses into the flame at the same time.

"All right," Scott nodded, happy enough with Stiles' answer for the time being.

"Kind of ironic we're talking about this while starting a big fire," Stiles mused, and they tossed the lit firecrackers into the pile of gas-soaked bodies.

~*~

Ever since he'd assembled his rag-tag little pack, Derek had—especially in the summer—held what he called "training exercises" where he taught the others how to fight, how to leverage their strength and their senses in battle, and the like. Stiles had attended a few out of curiosity in the beginning, but there honestly wasn't much point in him being there. He didn't have werewolf powers, so he couldn't really participate. It was actually kind of boring.

Unfortunately for Derek, the training exercises weren't really that much more popular among the actual werewolves, according to Scott, and despite his own feelings about Derek, Stiles couldn't blame everyone else for their lack of enthusiasm. Derek was rough with them, and not afraid of pain, and seemed to expect the others to be the same. He got cranky when he felt like they weren't making progress, and irritated when they started goofing off instead of listening to him. Yet another reason Stiles liked to stay far away on training days.

That had all changed with the appearance of Derek Two, who called training days "bootcamp" and always made a lot of food, and handed out prizes to the winners of the sparring matches, like gift cards and boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Derek Two was also everyone's most enthusiastic cheerleader, yelling out encouragements from the sidelines and passing around chilled energy drinks while Derek barked orders and taught them flip kicks and how to best angle their claws, and where all the squishiest internal organs were.

Derek, predictably, grumbled about Derek Two's participation in the training sessions—Stiles didn't dare call it bootcamp in Derek's presence—but no one could deny that attendance was up. Even some of the people who didn't have wolf powers, like Danny and Lydia, had started coming regularly, now that it had morphed into an enjoyable social gathering. After a while, not wanting to be left out, Stiles started going, too.

Today the timing was perfect--by the time he got off work they'd be done with the sparring and the running, and already moved onto the food. Stiles' stomach growled just thinking about it; last time Derek Two had made pulled pork sandwiches.

When he got to Derek's house, Stiles expected to see people milling around on the porch, or perched on the crooked picnic table with plates of food, but when he pulled up there was no one outside. Just everyone's cars, parked haphazardly along the edge of the overgrown lawn. So they were here, but they were all inside. That was…odd.

He heard the raucous cheering as soon as he killed the Jeep's engine, and then he distinctly heard voices yelling assorted versions of, "C'mon! You can beat him!" and "Keep going, you've got this!" and other enthusiastic but ominous-sounding encouragements and none of them were in Derek or Derek Two's voice. Stiles scrambled out his seat belt and bolted up the steps, images of a brutal Fight Club-style Derek vs. Derek throwdown filling his head.

When he flung the door open he saw…something else entirely.

Both Dereks were shirtless, hanging from the exposed beam in the living room doorway, like Stiles had seen Derek do a hundred times, doing pull-ups. Two sweating, grunting, glistening, bulging Dereks, rising and falling in tandem. Stiles stood there for a second, mouth hanging open, momentarily paralyzed by the pure fucking beauty of it. It was a miracle he managed not to drool all over his shoes.

They'd obviously been at it for a while, because Boyd was counting out loud, "…247…248…249…"

"Hey, Stiles. Just in time," Danny said, snapping Stiles out of his X-rated daydream. That was when he noticed Lydia sitting daintily on one of the half-broken couches, fanning a stack of dollar bills.

"You've got to be kidding me," Stiles muttered, and flopped himself down on the couch next to her. "You're taking bets?"

"Pull-up contest!" Scott shouted from where he was sitting on the floor across the room, and Stiles waved and made a face that he hoped conveyed, Yes, clearly, thanks for the tip.

"You know this is a complete waste of time, right?" Stiles asked Isaac, who shushed him, eyes never leaving Derek Two’s pulsing muscles.

"Twenty dollar buy-in," Lydia said crisply. "Put up or shut up."

Stiles shut up.

The view was great, there was no denying that, but after a few minutes the shine started to wear off, at least for Stiles. Yeah, the Dereks looked good, but watching them do pull-up after pull-up got a little mind-numbing after a while. Stiles took out his phone and started sending Scott text messages.

You know this is pointless right?

Did you bet on this? I hope you didn't bet on this.

I know you can hear your phone. Stop pretending you can't.

Scott read the first one, and then pointedly ignored the rest. Some friend he was.

"512…513…514," Boyd droned on. Stiles wished he had brought a book.

The number got higher, and the pull-ups got slower and slower, and the Dereks' arms started to shake, and the grimacing and grunting started to get a little out of hand. Stiles slouched down into the couch and pecked listlessly at his phone. This was stupid and he wanted to eat, and he was so tired of the friction between the two Dereks, which he had no doubt was the motivating factor behind this stunt. He was probably getting some kind of alpha testosterone poisoning just from being in this room.

Not to mention the fact that his chances of getting laid tonight were quickly diminishing. Derek was probably going to be useless after this, even with his werewolf constitution. And for such a dumb reason.

Well aware that he was to blame for Derek Two's existence in the first place, Stiles was trying to be understanding about this whole thing, he really was, but now that they were over a month into it, he was starting to lose patience with Derek's attitude. Despite Derek's dire predictions, Derek Two had been nothing but helpful, and Stiles wished Derek would stop resisting and just admit that his presence was an advantage. So far there'd been no signs of thawing on his end.

The pack was training harder and working together more than they had in all the years before this, and as a result Derek was able to teach them ever more complicated things. But Derek still acted like he was harboring the enemy, even if as far as everyone else was concerned, Derek Two couldn't be nicer. He took them all out for ice cream, and had helped Emilio get a new job, because he'd already befriended the guy who owned the community newspaper. He volunteered at the soup kitchen, and rescued cats from trees. Derek Two brightened everyone's lives just by being around, like some kind of werewolf Mary Poppins.

And that was, Stiles was smart enough to realize, part of the problem.

Of course, Derek Two wasn't totally innocent either. He knew exactly what drove Derek crazy—mainly him paying any attention to Stiles—and yet he persisted. He purposely goaded Derek sometimes, so sweetly and so subtly that Stiles thought he was probably the only one who realized it. The nicer Derek Two was, especially to Stiles, the angrier Derek got, and Derek Two knew that.

Stiles supposed he should be grateful they were duking it out with pull-ups rather than an actual fight, but that was probably only because they were trying to hide the fact that they couldn't shift. And this was still dumb.

Finally, when Boyd's count got somewhere in the upper 800s, Derek struggled through one last painful-looking pull-up and then dropped to the floor with an angry, frustrated yell. He lay there in the dust and bits of plaster, panting, arms twitching like dying eels.

Derek Two was still hanging straight-armed from the beam, chest heaving, his sweat-drenched hair sticking to his forehead.

"That's 882 for both of you," Boyd told him. "All you need is one more."

"One more, one more, c'mon, you can do it!" Isaac yelled.

Derek Two slowly pulled himself up one inch, another inch, but his arms were shaking so badly it was painful to watch. He made it another inch before he groaned through his clenched teeth and dropped back down, hanging from the beam for a second before he let go and hit the floor, too, sprawling on his back next to Derek.

"It's a tie!" Boyd yelled.

"No shit," Stiles muttered.

A collective groan went up from the group, evidently disappointed with the results.

"Everyone gets their money back," Lydia said, and started passing out bills.

"Seriously?" Stiles said, marveling at the fact that everyone but him was completely dense. "Am I the only one who saw that coming? They're the same guy!"

One of the Dereks whimpered in pain. Stiles didn't care which one.

~*~

"Stiles. Nice of you to drop by," Deaton said, when Stiles walked into the clinic well after business hours. He and Scott had been up all night at the fire pit again, and then Stiles had tried to grab a nap before his shift at the store, and ended up almost being late for work. He was finally done at the shop and on his way back home now.

"Sorry, been kind of busy," Stiles said, shrugging off the prickle of guilt. Deaton had sent him a text message two days ago letting him know he had some information about the spell. "So what's up?"

Deaton walked over to his desk and picked up a book with a dull red cover. He opened it to a place he had marked with a Post-It note. "When you did the spell, did part of the ritual require you to write down what Derek intended to do with his doubled strength?"

"Yeah," Stiles said. "On a little piece of paper." It had gone into the box with the bones and herbs, and all of it had been pretty much vaporized during the explosion. "Why?"

Deaton handed Stiles the book and tapped a paragraph near the bottom of the page with his finger. "From what I can tell, there is no way to actually reverse the spell you did. It's supposed to naturally disperse when Derek completes his task."

"So when the alpha pack is defeated," Stiles said, heart sinking. "That could take years!" And was less likely to happen at all if Derek couldn’t beta shift.

He peered at the book, hoping to see an answer he liked better, but it was in a language he didn't recognize. "What about the other problem?" he asked, dropping his voice just in case there were any werewolves hanging around outside. You couldn't be too careful in Beacon Hills. "Does any of this explain why neither of them can shift?"

"No," Deaton said, shaking his head. "Is there any chance you made an error while casting the spell? Or was there a problem with any of the ingredients?"

"No, it was rock solid," Stiles said. He and Derek had gone over the spell numerous times, and triple-checked all the components. They'd done exactly what the book instructed, no short-cuts or substitutions.

"Hmm," Deaton said. "Then if I had to guess, I'd say that particular wrinkle is due to something intrinsic to Derek himself. Magic doesn't work the same on everyone, especially supernatural creatures."

Well, that certainly wasn't something Stiles was going to share with Derek. He already had enough stuff he blamed himself for without adding "can't even get magicked right" to the list.

"I'll keep looking," Deaton said. He took the book back and then clicked off the lamp on his desk, which Stiles took to mean the meeting was over. "You should, too."

"Yeah, I'm still on it," Stiles said, though he wasn't really feeling all that hopeful. "I'm sure we'll find something."

~*~

"I'm thinking about finding another place to live," Derek said while they were cleaning some blood off the seats in the Jeep a few days later.

"Thank God," Stiles said. While it was worth going there to spend time with Derek, the Hale house wasn't exactly a model of comfort and convenience, and Stiles' place wasn't always an option, even with Dad being elsewhere a lot. Stiles hadn't even told his dad about Derek yet, much less broached the topic of Stiles doing Derek in the house while his dad was home. All the sneaking around he did in the name of boning was getting tedious.

Derek frowned at a particularly stubborn spot and scrubbed at it. "Figured it might be more comfortable for you," he said, even though Stiles hadn't asked him why he was suddenly getting the urge to find a real house. Stiles suspected he was trying to be less of a violent hermit, now that Derek Two was hanging around making him look even more violent and hermity by comparison. If Derek wanted to pass it off as something he was doing for Stiles, Stiles was happy to let him.

On moving day, which consisted of Derek tossing his few belongings into trash bags and shoving them in the trunk of his car, Derek Two had a stack of neatly taped boxes on the porch, each one labeled in perfect block letters.

"What the hell is this?" Derek gritted out when he saw them.

"Yeah, where'd you get so much stuff?" Stiles asked. He had just come downstairs with his backpack full of the things he kept at Derek's, which was mainly a toothbrush, a copy of The Stand, and three bottles of Bactine.

Derek gave Stiles an Oscar-worthy bitchface. "I meant where the hell does he think he's taking it," he said in that weirdly clipped way he said stuff when he was super annoyed.

"Right, yeah," Stiles said quickly. "Where the hell are you taking it?"

"Our new house!" Derek Two said cheerfully. "And I even bought a few things for the kitchen." He proudly held up a set of Calphalon cookware, still in the box from the store. Behind him was what looked like a microwave. Where he got money for stuff like that, no one knew. But no one knew where the original Derek got his money, either. Maybe it was secret werewolf money.

"You're not coming with me," Derek said, and Derek Two looked so wounded that Stiles instantly felt sorry for him. He sometimes had an uncontrollable reaction to Derek Two's expressions of woe, because he couldn't help but see his boyfriend in Derek Two's face, and Derek looking sad was the most heartbreaking thing in the universe, even worse than wet kittens. Stiles had done some seriously embarrassing things to avoid that look.

"You can't just leave him here!" Isaac cried, looking even more wounded than Derek Two. Derek shot him a venomous look.

"Hey, Dickbag One. He's your responsibility," Jackson said, as he walked out of the house and dropped a box labeled "FRAGILE!!" onto the porch, paying no attention to the distinct sound of breaking glass that followed.

Even Derek had to admit that if Jackson thought you were being an asshole, you were probably being a really big asshole.

"Fine," Derek bit out. "But the master bedroom is mine." He got into his car and drove away before they even got Derek Two's stuff loaded into Stiles' Jeep.

~*~

The Dereks' new place was actually a good-sized house with a pool in the backyard and a finished basement that Derek Two quickly filled up with fun stuff like a dartboard and a ping pong table. It was also just blocks away from where Isaac lived with his aunt and uncle, and Isaac was ecstatic about it.

"Do not fuck him," Derek told Derek Two, jabbing him in the chest with a finger. He'd just shooed Isaac off their couch and back home for the fourth night in a row.

Derek Two squared his shoulders, and his mouth took on the unhappy slant he only seemed to wear when interacting with Derek. "So only you're allowed to fuck the pack members?" he asked, darting his eyes at Stiles.

"He's not just a pack member," Derek bit out, and took a step closer to Stiles.

"Damn right!" Stiles said. He was the research and magic guy. He was indispensable!

"What if I just fuck him a little?" Derek Two asked, and Stiles risked life and limb by throwing himself between them again when Derek lunged at him.

"Whoa, hey, calm down, it was a joke!" Derek Two said, backing off. "I'm not going to fuck anybody in the pack." His eyes drifted toward Stiles as he said it, then snapped back to Derek when Derek made a low, threatening noise in his throat.

Derek Two fucked a lot of other people, though, and it was hard to miss, because he was doing it just down the hall from Derek's bedroom. Stiles knew this because he'd all but moved in when the Dereks did, encouraged by the way Derek had pointedly left half of the drawers and closet space in his bedroom empty. Stiles hadn't wasted time filling them up.

On the upside, there was a lot of chain reaction sex, where Derek Two would creep home with someone late at night, and the next thing Stiles knew he was being roused from a sound sleep by Derek's mouth on his dick and pretty soon everyone in the house was moaning.

The mornings after could be a little awkward, though.

"This is my brother," Derek Two said to the hot guy standing in the kitchen. That was the explanation they'd all agreed upon, though Stiles had argued in favor of identical cousins. He was a big fan of that old TV show.

Derek Two's guest blinked at Derek and then grinned. "Twins! Cool!" he said as he gave Derek a once-over that Stiles could read loud and clear—he was thinking the same kind of kinky thoughts Stiles usually did when he was in a room with both Dereks. He held his hand out to Derek to shake. "Nice to meet you. I'm Todd."

Derek took Todd's hand with obvious reluctance, and shook it. "Derek," he said.

The guy shot a confused look at Derek Two, who was glaring at Derek. "You guys are both named Derek?"

"It's not that weird," Stiles interjected quickly, before an argument about who the real Derek was broke out in front of a stranger. "George Foreman named all this kids George, even the girls."

"Right," Todd said, suddenly avoiding eye contact with everyone, which Stiles did not blame him for one bit. "Well, nice meeting you."

~*~

"Wow, there are a lot of people in this town who hate your guts," Derek Two said to Derek as he limped through their kitchen. His shirt was covered in fresh grass stains and there was a broken-off arrow sticking out of his left butt cheek. "A lot of people."

~*~

"Hey, dad, watcha doin'?" Stiles asked, surprised to see his father standing in their guest room, hands in his pockets, looking around. It made Stiles a little nervous, because he and Derek had just spent the night in there two days ago. Had they remembered to change the sheets? Put away the lube?

"I'm thinking of doing a little remodel on this room," his dad said. "Paint and whatnot. Make it a nice place." He cut a glance at Stiles. "For Edgar."

Edgar was Rachel's little boy. He was four years old and Dad adored him. "Are they moving in here?" Stiles asked.

Dad took a measuring tape out of his pocket and eyeballed the wall space between the closet door and the window before taking a quick measurement. "Depends on if Rachel says yes."

Holy. Crap. "Are you getting married?"

The measuring tape retracted with a snap. "I hope so." He looked at Stiles. "You okay with that?"

"Who, me?" Stiles asked, like there was anyone else in the room. "Sure. I'm okay with it. I'm better than okay. Super, even." And he really was. He knew his dad was a little lonely here in the house by himself now that Stiles was away at school most of the year. And even when Stiles was in Beacon Hills he wasn't actually at home much. Especially now that Derek had a real place to live.

"You sure? You can be honest with me," Dad said. "Always."

And even though he knew that wasn't what his father had meant, somehow Stiles' mouth opened and he said, "I'm dating Derek Hale," and then he squeezed his eyes shut, and then he clapped his hands over them for good measure. That wasn't how he'd wanted to deliver that news.

"I know," his dad said, sounding like he was trying not to laugh. Stiles peeked at him through his fingers, and he didn't even look mad. He looked like he was enjoying Stiles' mortification. Stiles made himself drop his hands to his sides and look his dad in the eye.

"You know? How do you know? When did you know?"

Dad set the tape measure down on the top of the dresser and then leaned against the edge of it with his elbow, letting Stiles stew for a second. "Someone reported a squatter in that old farmhouse."

Stiles knew immediately where this was going. Last summer, during the annual alpha pack battle, Derek's pack had set up a safehouse on a farm outside of town that had been empty and for sale as long as anyone could remember.

"When I went to check it out there was no one there," his father went on. "But someone had been there, and left in a hurry. So much of a hurry he dropped his cellphone. And that person, whoever he was, had text messages from you. A lot of text messages."

"Oh, God," Stiles said. His face was starting to feel warm.

"The kind of text messages that could scar a father for life," Dad added.

"Oh, God," Stiles said again. His face was now on actual fire

"Yep," Dad said, tapping his fingers against the dresser as he nodded. "I didn't even know what some of that stuff was. I had to Google it."

Stiles had never so desperately wished for some kind of a natural disaster to strike Beacon Hills immediately. "You didn't!"

"No, I didn't," Dad said, finally taking pity on him. Stiles nearly wept with relief. "But tell Derek to be a little more careful with his phone."

"Right. Sure. Got it," Stiles said, when he was sure he wasn't going to swallow his tongue. "Why didn't you tell me that you knew all this time?"

Dad shrugged. "You're technically an adult. And you seemed okay. Plus, if I learned anything from putting in twenty-plus years as your father, it's that nothing will make you do something faster than me telling you not to, so all I could do was just wait for you to decide to tell me about him."

"Oh," Stiles said. “Makes sense.”

"That was last summer, though," Dad said, raising an eyebrow. "So you're still together, then."

"Yeah. It's—it's going pretty well." And it was. All the supernatural weirdness--and Derek's even greater non-supernatural weirdness—aside, it was going absurdly well.

"Good. I'm glad," Dad said.

It was probably time for a hug, Stiles thought. Dad agreed.

~*~

It was a slow night at the shop, and Stiles never went anywhere now without one of Deaton’s books in his messenger bag, so he decided to heroically forgo five hours of video games in favor of research. He skimmed about fifty pages of a musty-smelling book detailing all the different spells you could do with bird bones, and got nowhere. Not only was there nothing that looked like it would help the Dereks, there wasn’t even anything else in it that might come in handy, and he was pretty sure at least three of the “spells” were actually soup recipes.

Stiles had the next day off, and Derek always had the day off, so when his shift was over that night Stiles went straight to Derek's and crawled into bed with him and blew him until he was reduced to a shivering, whimpering puddle of jizz and lube.

"Okay, turn over," Stiles said, slicking himself up with an unsteady hand. "If I don't get my dick in you it's gonna fall off."

"So romantic," Derek mumbled, but he rolled onto his stomach, somewhat lazily. Stiles probably had five minutes before Derek started snoring. That was fine—Stiles was probably only going to need three of those minutes at the most.

When Stiles finally got out of bed the next day everyone was gathered in the kitchen, arguing over the best way to cut a watermelon, and the living room floor was a jumble of coolers and beach chairs. There was a giant inflatable whale on the couch.

"Going to the beach, huh?" Stiles yawned, heading straight for the Keurig. Derek Two had bought it, and then filled the little cup stand with everyone's favorite drinks. Stiles hadn't realized how empty his life had been until he'd been introduced to the wonder of the K-Cup.

"No, we're going skiing," Jackson said, and then unsuccessfully tried to duck out of the way when Scott bopped him on the head with a pool noodle.

"You guys should come with us!" Derek Two said as he shoved a few family-sized bags of chips into a beach bag and handed it off to Erica. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a pair of orange shorts so hideously fluorescent Stiles could barely look at them without squinting. "We've got plenty of food, and a volleyball net, and I’m bringing my guitar."

"Uh," Stiles said, imagining Derek on the beach in his leather jacket and black jeans, glaring daggers at all the little kids in their water wings. Derek Two would probably end up with his guitar shoved up his—

"We've got plans," Derek said curtly, suddenly appearing at Stiles' shoulder and making him drop his precious K-Cup on his foot.

"Jesus, stop that!" Stiles scolded. He wished he had a pool noodle so he could whack Derek with it.

Derek Two bent down to retrieve the K-Cup, and then helpfully put it in the machine for Stiles while Derek gave the inflatable whale a baleful look. "Well," Derek Two said, "If you change your minds—"

"We won't change our minds," Derek said, and then pointedly got his own coffee started in the battered old coffee maker he'd picked up at a garage sale two years ago. He refused to use the Keurig on principle. "We have things to do."

"All right," Derek Two said sunnily. "Let's go!"

With that, everyone left in a whirlwind of squeaky flip-flops and clunking coolers, Isaac struggling out the door with the whale. Stiles watched them go, feeling a little wistful. It was a nice day outside. They didn't often get true beach weather in this part of California.

From behind him, he heard a woeful sigh.

"If you want to go with them, just go," Derek said, sounding resigned.

"No, it's fine," Stiles said quickly, turning toward Derek and smiling at him. "I'd rather hang out with you." Which was…mostly true. Derek had become noticeably less fun to be around ever since Derek Two appeared, and his aversion to Derek Two was having the unwelcome side effect of isolating them both from the rest of the pack. It was making Stiles kind of sad. Not that Stiles didn't love spending time with alone with Derek. But sometimes he felt a little sad. Like right now.

It probably would have been a hard sell to some people in Beacon Hills that Stiles enjoyed hanging out with Derek, but it was true, especially over the last year or so, and not just because he was getting his brains banged loose on the regular. Stiles wasn't a masochist—he and Derek actually had fun together, even when they weren't having sex, and Derek laughed and made dumb jokes and smiled a lot more than most people probably suspected. He still had a tendency to be kind of a dick, especially to strangers, and he was angry a lot of the time about a lot of things, but he had been getting better. He'd let some of it go, Stiles thought.

And in months before the spell, Derek had, it seemed to Stiles, become way less mopey in general. Getting laid regularly—and well, if Stiles did say so himself—seemed to have a lifting effect on his spirits, or maybe Stiles was just wearing him down. It had to be a lot of work to be so gloomy all the time.

Either way, being with Stiles had definitely softened him up and relaxed him a little, and Stiles suspected any lingering stoicism was because he was afraid to let himself believe it would last. Derek had had the rug pulled out from under him too many times, been betrayed by too many people he cared about, to really trust in happiness, or trust in Stiles, completely. All Stiles could do was continue to hang around, and hope Derek eventually stopped waiting for something terrible to happen.

But Stiles knew he wasn’t just imagining it: ever since the spell, Derek had regressed to the Derek of Stiles' sophomore year of high school, who was scowly and snippy and unpleasant a lot of the time, even in private. Now when Stiles went home after spending time with Derek, he often felt like he needed to do something a little more uplifting, like listen to The Smiths, or watch that Humane Society commercial with the Sarah McLachlan song, or think about Attack of the Clones. It was getting out of hand.

But at the same time, it seemed like kind of a dick move to tell someone in Derek's position to just cheer up. Cheering up wasn't going to keep him from getting killed, or fix his shift problem, or make Derek Two go away.

"I’m sorry," Derek mumbled, staring at his coffee maker. "You can—"

"Come here," Stiles said and held up his arm and turned his head so Derek could nudge his nose down by his collarbone. Derek did just that, and Stiles wrapped both arms around his shoulders. "I'd rather be with you. I guess I like you," Stiles said into Derek's hair, which was the closest thing to "I love you" either of them had said yet.

It was what Derek had said the night they first got together, an excruciating, awkward confession that made Derek look like he was having all of his teeth pulled at once. "I guess I like you," Derek had said, and then glared at Stiles' bookshelf, like it was to blame for this unwanted turn of events.

Stiles actually had no problem telling people he loved them, having learned early in life you should do it as often as possible because at some point you might never get the chance again, but he was trying to be considerate and not give Derek a stroke by uttering the words out loud.

Yet.

~*~

"She asked how you're doing," Scott said. He and Stiles were sitting against an old dead tree watching an ogre slowly burn down to nothing in the fire pit. It smelled like they were burning an old tire full of dead fish and dirty diapers, which was what a lot of the stuff they burned smelled like, for some reason.

Scott had been giving Stiles almost a word for word recap of his meeting with Allison, and it was taking forever, but was a welcome distraction from the ogre stench--though the smell did give Stiles plausible deniability when he wrinkled his nose in disgust now and then while Scott talked. He was 99.999% sure Scott and Allison were on their way to getting back together and he couldn't figure how that could end in anything but tears and blood.

"Maybe you and me and her and Derek could meet up sometime," Scott said optimistically.

Oh, crap. "You didn't tell her about me and Derek, did you?" Stiles said, suddenly invested in the conversation again. Derek was paranoid about anyone he considered an enemy knowing about his relationship with Stiles, and when there was an Argent involved, Stiles was a little paranoid, too. Everyone knew Stiles was human, which made him an attractive target, and Derek already angsted over that enough.

"She already knew," Scott snorted. "You guys aren't exactly subtle when you're out in public." He leaned forward and poked the ogre with a long stick they kept here for the express purpose of poking burning things. "I can't believe it took finding Derek's phone for your dad to figure it out."

"We're not that bad," Stiles said, rolling his eyes as he took the stick so he could poke the ogre a little, too. He wasn't sure Scott was poking it right.

Scott gave him the side-eye. "Over spring break when you caught that cashier ogling him you told her 'I just tapped that ass so hard he saw God.'"

"His words!" Stiles said, jabbing a finger into Scott's shoulder. "I was just repeating what he said!"

"Really?" Scott asked, looking impressed.

"Yep," Stiles said proudly.

"Way to go, bro," Scott said, grinning. He held up his hand for a high five. "If I ever have sex with a dude I'm coming to you for tips."

Stiles high-fived, then handed the stick back to Scott and reached around to dig their sandwiches out of his backpack. "Oh, totally. I'll learn you up right," he said, but he actually wasn't so sure about that. Stiles' sex life up until Derek hadn't really been anything to boast about, and Stiles suspected it wasn't so much that he was amazing in the sack as it was that he and Derek were really compatible. Like, insanely compatible.

"Listen," Scott said later, by which time Stiles was dozing against his shoulder. Ogres always took forever to burn. "Allison is telling the truth. They want to help us get rid of the alpha pack. And maybe bury the hatchet for good."

"Yeah, in our backs," Stiles muttered, grimacing as he swiped his tongue over his teeth. His mouth tasted exactly what you'd expect a mouth to taste like if you ate a tuna fish sandwich and then fell asleep.

"I mean it, Stiles," Scott insisted, jostling him a little for emphasis. "Just think about it. This could really help. All I'm asking is for you to think about it."

"I will," Stiles promised, as the ogre's arm fell off, sending a shower of glowing orange embers into the air.

~*~

The summer wore on and neither Stiles nor Deaton came up with a fix for the Dereks' inability to shift. No one else seemed to notice they couldn't, but it was only a matter of time before the secret was out. Stiles tried not to think about it. Scott and Allison continued to meet to "strategize" even though there wasn't anything to strategize about. The alpha pack didn't make a move.

Derek Two continued to act as Derek’s self-appointed second-in-command and nearly everyone adapted easily to that being the new status quo for the Hale pack. The only person who seemed unable to gracefully accept the circumstances was Derek. Who was currently standing in Stiles' backyard while everyone else was inside eating junk food and watching Caddyshack.

"Get in here, you giant weirdo," Stiles said, holding the back door open like he was letting the cat in.

"I'm fine," Derek said stiffly. "Plus I wasn't invited."

"You were invited," Stiles insisted. What he didn't ask was why, if Derek thought he wasn't invited, he was here anyway. "I sent you a text." He pulled out his phone to prove it, and then said, "Oh."

He'd typed it out but apparently had never sent it. It was still sitting there, waiting. "I thought I sent it!" Stiles said. He let the door close behind him and stepped down onto the lawn, holding his phone up so Derek could see. He felt terrible, and wanted Derek to know that he had wanted him here.

"It's fine," Derek said, but it clearly wasn't.

"Right," Stiles said. "Except with you 'fine' is actually code for 'I'm drowning in mental anguish but can't admit it' or 'my lung is collapsed and my leg is broken and I don't want anyone to know.' So you're not fooling me."

"Whatever," Derek said sullenly. Stiles was surprised he didn't actually kick a rock or something.

"Come inside," Stiles said cajolingly. "I missed you."

"I just saw you this morning," Derek said, rolling his eyes like Stiles was the one being unreasonable. "Plus, he's here," he added, barely holding back a sneer. "So." So one Derek was as good as the other, he was apparently implying. And that was just wrong.

"I missed you, Stiles insisted, because he'd obviously put the emphasis on the wrong word last time. "And I don't care if I just saw you this morning. I want to see you all the time. Get your stubborn ass in the house, because I don't feel like sitting out here for the rest of the night." He'd do it, just to prove a point, but he didn't want to.

If he hadn't been a pro at spotting such things, he would probably have missed the whip-quick shadow of a smile that passed over Derek's mouth, but Stiles was a goddamn expert when it came to Derek Hale and his complicated relationship with happiness, so he saw it. This argument was as good as done.

Feeling triumphant, Stiles stepped forward and bumped up against Derek, invading his space until Derek grabbed his hips and kissed him. When they took a break from sucking face, Stiles said, as sexily as he knew how, "I've got a brand new tube of Pringles." Derek had the worst Pringles addiction of anyone Stiles had ever known.

"I have stuff I need to do," Derek hedged, but he actually did smile this time, like he'd finally remembered he had facial muscles and what they were for—he hadn’t smiled much at all since the spell. He didn't resist when Stiles grabbed him by the hand and led him into the house.

Stiles shoved him into his dad's recliner and then climbed into his lap, because they could actually act like they were a couple all the time now that Stiles' dad knew. No one else even blinked an eye. It was old hat to them.

This was their second summer together. During the first one, Stiles had assumed whatever this was that had sprung up between them—hanging out and fucking between supernatural emergencies, mostly--would just die a natural death after he went back to school. Derek didn't seem like the relationship type, and Stiles was going to be several hours away for most of the next eight months, and that all pointed toward them being kaput in weeks.

But after Stiles left, Derek started texting him, and would call him once a week or so, late at night. Even if there were a lot of long pauses and Stiles did most of the talking, and Derek sometimes acted like he'd never learned how to properly have a conversation about anything that didn't involve impending death, he was making an effort. It was more than Stiles had dared hope for, and even more than he’d originally thought he’d wanted. But he did find himself wanting it, once it was happening.

Eventually, Derek even came to visit a few times, staying the weekend in Stiles' cramped room in the house he shared with three roommates, all girls.

"Oh my God, your boyfriend is smoking hot," one of them said the first time she saw him, sounding awed. She'd been lured out of her room by the smell of coffee brewing and had come into the kitchen just as Derek walked through on his way to the shower.

"I know," Stiles grinned as he handed her a mug, and tried not to sound too cocky about it. "And he drove all night to see me." Okay, maybe a little cocky.

That was the first time someone had ever referred to Derek as Stiles' boyfriend, and he kind of liked it, so he decided that was what Derek was, and Derek was just going to have to like it, too.

He planned to bring it up later, during the afterglow, which was when Derek was extremely agreeable and prone to occasionally acknowledging that things like positive emotions existed, but before he could even get to it, Derek said, "Listen, if you don't want me hanging around--"

Stiles didn't even let him finish that sentence. "Stop that. Right now," he said firmly. He was not going to let Derek convince him to break up with him. He'd only officially been his boyfriend for, like, ten hours.

"But—"

"Stop."

Derek huffed, but he pulled Stiles a little closer, and Stiles felt Derek’s mouth on the back of his neck, then his shoulder.

Stiles threaded his fingers through Derek's where they were splayed over Stiles' stomach. "Can't you just let yourself be happy?" he asked, only half joking.

Derek's fingers tightened around his, like he was afraid Stiles was going to let go. "I'm out of practice," he said, hushed against the back of Stiles' arm. "But I'm getting the hang of it."

All these months later, he was still getting the hang of it, Stiles thought, as he fed him another Pringle. And even if Stiles sometimes got frustrated with how big and painstaking a task that seemed, even if it required Stiles to tap into reserves of patience he’d never realized he’d possessed before now, it was worth sticking around for, and better all the time.

~*~

If there was one certainty to life in Beacon Hills, it was that the easy times never lasted. Finally, near the middle of July, the alpha pack decided to quit being coy and start harassing the Hale pack for real. Everyone started traveling in pairs whenever possible after two of the alphas cornered Scott in the Chik-Fil-A parking lot.

"You shouldn't be eating there anyway," Stiles told him, as they sped away in the Camaro. He and Derek had been right in the middle of a nooner when Scott called, looking for some assistance. "They use the profits from their tasty sandwiches to oppress my people. Your lunch is a tool of oppression!"

"I just needed to use the bathroom!" Scott protested, but he stunk suspiciously of waffle fries.

It wasn't Stiles' imagination; Derek's nose was twitching, too. "You smell—" Derek started.

"Don't even go there, dude!" Scott said, starting to get a little shouty. "You guys smell like mating season at the zoo. Glass houses!"

"We need to figure out how to get rid of them for good," Stiles fumed, because this was getting out of hand, and he was sick of dealing with their shit every summer. "We've got two Dereks. We need to use that to our advantage."

For once, Derek didn't immediately protest that the other Derek wasn't an actual Derek, which Stiles decided was a sign of progress. He'd take what he could get.

~*~

Once the alpha pack harassment started in earnest, research kind of fell by the wayside, and the stack of books Deaton had given them sat untouched for days at a time. One afternoon, feeling guilty, Stiles grabbed one on his way out to the pool, and after he'd swum around for a while he got himself set up in a floating lounge chair with a beer and started paging through it.

He was starting to get drowsy, and worrying a little that he'd drop the book in the pool and Deaton would put a whammy on him that shrunk his dick down to the size of a baby carrot or something, when he found an entire section on creating duplicates, and the problems inherent to the practice. Bingo.

It wasn't long before Stiles realized they'd actually gotten lucky when the spell went bad, because there were far, far worse things that could have gone wrong besides losing the ability to shift. There was even a drawing of some poor schmuck who duplicated himself, only to end up with four legs and no arms, while the duplicate had the opposite problem.

The information under the "Solutions" heading was confusingly brief. It said, Hold one another, and be made whole.

"I've got good news and bad news," Stiles said when he came banging back into the house. Derek Two was in the kitchen making a smoothie, and Derek was on the couch watching a show about baby animals. No one else was around, thank God.

"Give me the bad news," Derek said, at the same time Derek Two said, "What's the good news?" It was the most predictable thing to happen to Stiles all day.

"I might have found something," he said. "That's the good news," he clarified, when both Dereks simply stared at him. "The bad news is I think you have to hug it out."

"Oh. Well, that's not a big deal," Derek Two said, already coming around the kitchen island, eyes on Derek. He was smiling.

Derek looked like he'd just been told he needed to eat a live cockroach. "Keep researching," he said to Stiles, and then turned his attention back to the television.

"Derek, c'mon," Stiles urged, walking over and grabbing the remote. He clicked the TV off and nudged Derek with his knee. "We really need to solve this."

"Fine," Derek sighed, and got up, turning to face Derek Two, who was already hovering nearby, looking like he was kind of into the hugging thing. Derek held his arms stiffly away from his body, face grim, tensed like he was waiting to get kicked in the nuts.

"Wait, wait," Stiles said, when Derek Two started to step forward. "Let's do a warm up first." He slipped in between them and hugged Derek, who remained stiff as a board for a few seconds, then slowly relaxed, and wrapped both arms around Stiles' middle.

"Just pretend it's me or something," Stiles whispered in Derek's ear, running his fingers up Derek's hair in the back until he shivered a little.

"That's kind of insulting," Derek Two said.

"And kind of impossible," Derek said sourly, but he let his forehead drop to Stiles' shoulder and sighed out a long breath as Stiles rubbed his back a little.

"Okay. Now you guys," Stiles said, when he felt like Derek was sufficiently drugged on affection to be cooperative. Unsurprisingly, it was Derek Two who did all the work, stepping forward and giving Derek a full-body hug, not even flinching when he plastered himself so close their junk pressed together.

Their junk was totally pressing together, and once Stiles noticed it, he couldn't look away. Derek glared at Stiles over Derek Two's shoulder as Stiles swiftly yanked his thoughts away from that topic. He wasn't thinking about it, he told himself. He wasn't thinking about two Derek dicks pressed against each other, and he definitely wasn't thinking about putting himself in the mid—

"Stiles!" Derek snarled.

"I can't help it!" Stiles protested. Seeing the two Dereks touching each other like that. Well. It was something.

It was something, all right.

~*~

It didn't work.

~*~

Another week passed in which the alpha pack continued to be annoying, and Stiles came up with exactly zero new solutions to the Dereks' shifting problem. One of the alpha twins—no one could tell them apart—ambled into the gelato shop and flirted menacingly with Danny while he was waiting in line for his scoop of stracciatella. Kali and Ennis followed Enrique home from work every night for three days straight. Someone clawed the side of Derek Two's car, though that could actually have been Derek. Stiles very carefully didn't ask.

Three middle-aged women moved into the old farmhouse where Dad had found Derek's phone, and turned it into a hobby farm named Sweet Peas. It was surprisingly prosperous surprisingly quickly, which made everyone wonder. You couldn't be too careful about strangers in Beacon Hills, particularly successful ones.

"Look at this. They've been in town, what, ten days?" Stiles said, as a bunch of Derek's pack stood around the Dereks' kitchen table, staring suspiciously at a pile of produce.

"There's no way they grew this in a just over a week," Derek said.

"Definitely evil," Erica agreed.

"These tomatoes are beautiful, though," Derek Two said, poking one with a finger. "Do you think it's safe to eat them?"

"Why don't you find out?" Derek said.

"Did you really make me drive all the way over here to look at a bunch of vegetables?" Jackson demanded. He was sitting on the kitchen island, flipping his car keys over his finger again and again and again, just in case anyone forgot for thirty seconds that he had a Porsche.

"Evil vegetables," Stiles reminded him. "Maybe." He squatted down until he was eye-to-eye with a yellow pepper and peered at it from several different angles, looking for any sign of shenanigans. The pepper gave away nothing. He sighed and stood back up.

The problem with Beacon Hills was that the influx of fuckery never stopped. The supernatural trouble makers were never courteous and said, "Oh, well, the alpha pack is in town for the summer so lay the fuck off Beacon Hills and let them deal with one thing at a time." That never happened. So Derek's pack had to keep handling shit like this while also trying to outsmart the alpha pack at the same time, and it was kind of exhausting.

"Is this really a priority?" Enrique asked, because he was new and didn't realize that this was how they rolled in Beacon Hills.

"Sadly, yes," Erica said, hopping up to sit on the kitchen island next to Jackson. "Last year we had to perform an exorcism on a haunted bubble machine."

"Oh, yeah! I still have it. It's in my garage," Stiles said.

"You have a bubble machine? You should bring it over here," Derek Two said, eyes lighting up at the thought of bubbles. Then he frowned. "Unless it's still haunted."

"Jesus, I'm outta here," Jackson said, sounding disgusted. No one tried to stop him when he left.

In the end, Derek dispatched Isaac to the Sweet Peas' booth at the farmer's market to ingratiate himself and figure out if they were going to be a problem. It worked like a charm, as always. Isaac looked like a sweet little innocent thing but was far from it, and Derek used that to their advantage constantly—he almost always picked Isaac when they needed someone to go in and charm people with his adorableness and then possibly commit an act of violence against them.

He was perfect for those kinds of jobs, because he had the bruised waif look that made people let their guard down, and he tended to do what Derek wanted with no questions asked, whereas Boyd usually wanted all the facts laid out before he kidnapped someone. Stiles worried sometimes that they were grooming Isaac to be a serial killer, but Derek felt confident that he would know immediately if Isaac ever decided to start coloring outside the lines.

The Sweet Peas turned out to be hedgewitches, which meant—for once—they weren't a threat to anyone in Beacon Hills. Isaac got some free cardamom bread and an invitation to tour the farm, and Derek Two made an awesome batch of marina with the not-evil tomatoes.

"They make their own kombucha, too," Isaac said, when he reported back to the group after his field trip to the farm. He had a stain on his shirt that looked a lot like blueberry jam or pie filling, and Stiles suspected he was holding out on them.

"What flavors?" Danny asked, suddenly interested in the conversation.

"What the hell is kombucha?" Stiles wanted to know.

"It's gross," Jackson said.

"Blueberry, raspberry, ginger peach," Isaac listed for Danny, ticking them off on his fingers. "Um. I think apple cranberry? I forget."

"I could make you some kombucha," Derek Two chimed in, and Isaac immediately beamed at him. Derek Two smiled back. "Whatever flavor you want."

"I'll take some, too," Danny said right away. He looked over at Jackson and said, "It's not gross."

"What the hell is kombucha?" Stiles asked again.

"You guys can talk about that later," Derek said, looking aggravated.

Stiles huffed and took out his phone. Fine. He'd just Google it.

"Hey, where's Scott?" Isaac asked, finally noticing he wasn't there.

Jackson suddenly stopped slouching and looked around the room, like he was double-checking to make sure Scott really wasn't in attendance. "Yeah, how did McCall get out of this boring-ass meeting and I didn't?"

"Focus," Derek said through gritted teeth, which was his way of avoiding the question, because he didn't actually know where Scott was. Stiles did, but he wasn't going to say a word. This was the third or fourth meeting Scott had missed this summer because he was with Allison.

Stiles was going to have to talk to Derek about it soon, because the longer it went on, the harder it got to hide the fact that something was going on. And Derek was bound to get suspicious eventually, and if he found out on his own…well, Stiles had a much better plan for how to break it to him gently.

"Hey," Stiles asked, poking at his phone. "How do you spell 'kombucha?'"

No one answered him, but Google was forgiving, and within minutes he had all the information he needed, which was that kombucha was basically tea with a big booger in it. Fucking hedgewitches, man.

When he tuned back in to the meeting, it was clear this pack strategy session was just as pointless as all the others before it had been, and Stiles was feeling particularly uninterested in rehashing the same useless information again. He nibbled disinterestedly on a piece of pizza while Danny and Lydia argued over the value of hacking into Deucalion's phone. They'd done it before, two years ago, and it had been a waste of time—it was mostly text messages with the other alphas arguing over whose turn it was to pick up dinner.

"Well, let me know if you have any better ideas," Danny said, clearly affronted.

No one else had any better ideas.

Finally, Stiles lost his patience. Every suggested plan so far would only annoy the alpha pack, or inconvenience them. It was time for a big move, but no one was admitting it.

"Okay," Stiles said, tossing his pizza plate on the coffee table. "I'm just going to put the obvious solution out there, since no one else is saying it out loud: what if Derek Two joins the alpha pack? They'll think they've won, they'll go away for good, Derek Two will have his own pack to hang with, and we live the rest of our lives in peace."

"I don't like that solution," Isaac said immediately, to no one's surprise.

"I'm not sure I want to be part of their pack," Derek Two said dubiously.

"I'm sure they're nice," Stiles said, trying to sound as positive and upbeat as possible.

Derek Two narrowed his eyes at Stiles, and suddenly looked so much more like Derek it gave Stiles a moment of mental whiplash. "If they're so nice, why do they keep attacking you guys?" he asked suspiciously.

"It won't work anyway," Derek said, bringing his usual positive mental attitude into the proceedings. He was leaning in the doorway behind the couch and hadn't said much of anything so far.

"Why not?" Stiles asked, craning around to look at him.

"It's not feasible," Derek said flatly.

"But why not?" Stiles pressed, getting a little angry. He was tired of Derek's evasive answers about the alphas, and this was not the time to withhold information.

"Stiles is right," Emilio chimed in. "You need to tell us what you know." Stiles gave him a grateful look, glad to have the support.

"I think it's time you shared all your information with us," Boyd said. His tone wasn't aggressive or threatening, but there was a definite air of not accepting any more bullshit to it.

There was a general murmur of agreement from the room, and Stiles gave Derek a pleading look, on the off chance that would help at all.

When they'd moved into the house, Derek Two had hung a motivational poster on the wall of living room that intoned the value of TEAMWORK. Derek's gaze was fixed on it now as his jaw worked stiffly. Everyone kept quiet, waiting.

"The only way to join the alpha pack," Derek said finally, "is to kill everyone in your own pack." He cut a glance over at Stiles. "Even the humans."

The stunned silence in the room was eventually broken by Derek Two, who clapped his hands on his thighs, stood up, and said, "Then I'm definitely not joining the alpha pack. Who wants pudding?"

~*~

Stiles managed to keep his temper under control until everyone else left to go to Derek Two's poetry slam, but as soon as the last car pulled out of the driveway, he instantly wheeled around and glared at Derek, who was standing in the middle of the living room, ready for it. He knew Stiles was pissed. Justifiably pissed, in Stiles' opinion.

"Why didn't you tell us?" Stiles demanded, instead of calling Derek every horrible word he could think of, which was what he really wanted to do.

Derek was completely unrepentant. He stalked toward Stiles, face contorted with banked anger. "Why would I tell you? You guys barely trust me as it is," he said, voice low and frustrated. "If you knew I was constantly being pressured to kill all of you to save my own skin, would that help?"

There hadn't been many times in his life that Stiles was at a loss for words, and he wasn't now, exactly. Right now he had what felt like the opposite problem: he couldn't decide on one thing to say when so many outraged, angry, devastated things were going through his head all at once. He was choked with words.

He'd thought all this time things had been getting better, that Derek was relaxing, opening up, settling into his role as alpha and big brother and boyfriend. Stiles saw now he'd been fooling himself. Maybe things had looked a little better superficially, but underneath it all, Derek was still holding them all at arm's length. Even him.

Stiles walked over to his shoes, abandoned under the coffee table, and shoved his feet into them without tying them.

When he glanced at Derek again, he looked uneasy, like he knew he'd said something beyond damaging. Stiles was unmoved. He'd had enough.

"Trust is a two way street, Derek," Stiles said, scooping his keys up off the table. "Stop acting like we're all going to abandon you any second, and maybe we'll start feeling like you want us around."

He turned his back on Derek and walked out the door.

~*~

Just his luck, when Stiles got home his dad was there, and so were Rachel and Edgar. Stiles couldn't help but curse the timing. The last thing he felt like doing was smiling and acting like nothing was wrong, but Rachel and Edgar didn't spend time at the house that often, and he didn't want to be a dick. He knew his dad really wanted everyone to like each other.

Dad was surprised to see Stiles home so early—or at all, probably—but he put another plate on the table, and Stiles sat down to eat pork chops with them before he left for his shift at the store. His dad clearly knew something was wrong—he was watching Stiles a little too closely, joking with him a little too heartily--but was kind enough to not ask in front of the others, for which Stiles was grateful.

When he went upstairs to change his shirt, Stiles checked his phone and found it bombarded with text messages from everyone but Derek.

Erica said, I hope you gave him hell, which was just like her. Lydia's text was of a similar tone, while Jackson cut right to the chase with, your boyfriend's a dick.

There was also a message from Derek Two: Call me if you think I can help. Stiles appreciated the offer, but getting him involved was probably the least helpful thing that could happen at this point.

Scott's text said, Hey I heard what happened. You can call me if you need to. Allison understands. Word certainly traveled fast on the old werewolf grapevine.

Stiles replied to everyone but Jackson with gratitude or vague assurances everything would be fine, and Scott, who got the plain, unadulterated truth, communicated via a string of profanity-laden texts.

He was turning into an okay guy for a while there, Scott said, once Stiles' diatribe was over. But ever since DT showed up he's turned back into a butthead.

So Stiles wasn't the only one who had noticed the change—both changes, the previous one for the better, and the recent regression. I know, he replied. Really threw him for a loop.

And it was Stiles' fault, which he was feeling progressively more guilty about. What made it worse was that Derek had never once said that out loud. He'd never blamed Stiles for it, or told him all of this was his fault. Not one time. That didn’t excuse this, though. This was an issue that went way back before Derek Two.

Scott said, I'd invite you over later but I'm pretty sure Derek will be waiting for you when your shift is over.

He better not be, Stiles sent back.

~*~

Derek was sitting on the hood of Stiles' Jeep waiting for him when his shift was over.

"Get off my Jeep or you're paying to fix any dents you leave in it," Stiles said as he walked across the parking lot. Derek didn't move or speak. "I will drive home with you right there, like the world's most infuriating hood ornament," he threatened.

Derek still didn't reply, but when Stiles walked around the front of the Jeep to get to the driver's side, Derek tried to grab his arm. Stiles sidestepped him and kept going.

"I know you're upset—" Derek started to say, finally hopping down.

"Wow, look at you, you're like a detective or something!" Stiles said snidely. He unlocked the door and got in, but before he could close it Derek slipped into the gap and blocked it with his body.

"Stiles, don't do this," Derek said, and his voice had an edge of pleading to it that Stiles had never heard before.

Sighing, Stiles turned sideways so his legs were dangling out the door, and Derek stepped between his knees, nudging them apart so he could get closer.

"I'm not forgiving you this easy," Stiles said stubbornly, but when Derek slid his hands up Stiles' thighs to wrap around his hips, and Stiles gave in and put his arms around Derek's neck. "You can't keep stuff from us like that. Especially big stuff. We've been over this, remember?"

"I know. I'm sorry," Derek said. His face looked like he was being stabbed with rusty scissors but his voice was sincere.

"It really pisses me off that you don't trust me," Stiles told him. He had been patient—very, very patient, and part of the reason why was because he'd thought all along there was progress being made, no matter how slow. "I thought things were different."

Derek blinked in obvious surprise. "Of course I trust you," he said. "More than anyone else." He looked away, through the Jeep's window at the empty parking lot. "But I know even you don't trust me. Not completely."

Stiles didn't know what to say to that, or how to explain it in a way that wouldn't make things worse, because there was a grain of truth there, though probably not in the way Derek thought. Stiles didn't know how to explain that he trusted Derek with his life, he trusted Derek with Scott's life, he trusted Derek to do whatever was necessary to take care of all of them in any way he could, but he didn't trust Derek with himself. He didn't trust Derek to make decisions in his own best interest.

And he wasn't sure anyone else did, either, even if they probably wouldn't have described it that way. But it showed in their actions. What Derek didn't seem to understand was that when the guy who was supposed to be your leader acted like he was the most dispensable one in the whole group, it was hard to let yourself depend on him.

Derek had a self-sacrificing streak ten miles wide, and had done a lot of stupid, heroic things to save every one of them at some point, even Jackson. Stiles had no doubt that if joining the alpha pack didn't involve killing everyone else, Derek would have done it years ago, would have walked away from all of them if it meant keeping them safe, and spent the rest of his life suffering so they could be happy. It made him so angry sometimes, that Derek didn't value himself as much as Stiles valued him. It made him angry that he had to worry about Derek doing something stupid that would take him away from Stiles forever.

"Yeah, well, this kind of crap doesn't help," Stiles said, because now was not the time to delve into all of that. "You're gonna have to grovel a little. Not just to me, but to the pack."

Stiles was only half-serious, but Derek didn't roll with the joke. He took a deep breath, let it out. "I was thinking…maybe I should be the one to leave," he said, still very firmly not looking Stiles in the eye.

"What?" Stiles said, shocked. "That's stupid! You can't leave. You're the alpha!"

Derek shrugged. "He's an alpha, too." His next words were heartbreaking: "And he's a better one than me."

"Hey, look at me," Stiles said, not giving Derek a choice by grabbing his face and making him do it. Derek's eyes were big and sad and ugh Stiles hated that he'd done this to him. "He's not better, he's just different."

The corner of Derek's mouth ticked up in a pitiful attempt at a wry smile. "Stiles, you know that's not true," he said. "He's practically taken over my pack already. They like him better."

God, that hurt. Derek had faults, just like everyone else, but one thing he never did was give up. And Stiles was not going to let him do it now.

"That's because he doesn't actually take any responsibility for the thankless parts of being an alpha," Stiles explained, because apparently Derek was too dumb to see that himself. Derek had put himself in the role of the cheerless parent, the taskmaster, the disciplinarian, which left Derek Two to be the fun dad. Of course they were going to enjoy his company more. "But Derek, you're the one keeping everyone alive."

"Luck," Derek scoffed.

Stiles cuffed him affectionately upside the head and then kissed him. "You don't give yourself enough credit," he said. Derek turned his head and nipped at Stiles' thumb in retaliation, so Stiles dropped his hands down to Derek's shoulders instead, but didn't let go completely, just in case Derek was planning to run away from home right this second. "I'm not joking."

Stiles was probably biased, but he didn't think anyone gave Derek enough credit for everything he'd done as the alpha over the years. Here was a guy not brought up to be a leader, who had made some pretty spectacular mistakes, and was often scared out of his motherfucking mind. Here was a guy faced with trying to make a cohesive pack out of a bunch of dumb kids, some of them resentful, some of them just flat out douchebags. Somehow, despite all the things that were not in his favor, they were still alive and kicking, and the pack was even growing. If Stiles hadn't fucked it all up a few months ago by throwing the monkey wrench of Derek Two into the mix, Derek probably would have continued on his upward climb toward being a really good alpha and a friendly human being.

Derek huffed and rolled his eyes, like Stiles was full of shit, which Stiles did not appreciate. "I could barely get them to come to training until he showed up. They--"

"If it weren't for you, there wouldn't be any training," Stiles interrupted. Derek Two was too easily talked into going for ice cream instead of sparring, and was never brutally honest with the betas when they fucked up like Derek was. For all that Derek worried incessantly about keeping everyone alive, Derek Two seemed to not have a single care in the world, and lived like it. Stiles was certain that if Derek Two had been the alpha, they would have all been dead years ago.

Derek looked like he wanted to believe Stiles, but couldn't quite bring himself to. His hands had slipped under the bottom of Stiles' shirt, like the skin-on-skin contact was reassuring.

"Derek, he gets them here, but you're the one who's teaching them everything," Stiles barreled on. It felt like he was getting somewhere. "He's just the draw, and now that they're focused and actually showing up, they're learning, and they're learning from you."

"I guess you're right," Derek said. His tone was grudging, but his shoulders already felt less tense under Stiles' hands so he must have believed the words a little.

"So here's a crazy idea," Stiles pressed on. "Maybe the pack needs both. Maybe they need someone who bosses them around and teaches them to fight, and someone who takes them out for ice cream and tells them how smart they are and organizes cribbage tournaments. I mean, that's not the weirdest thing you've ever heard, is it?"

Derek's answering grimace was sort of hilarious.

But talking it through with Derek had made it even more clear in Stiles' mind. All along he'd been tossing around the theory that Derek Two was a part of Derek, had been made from him. Kind of like Adam's rib, without all the insulting patriarchal bullshit.

But if that really were the case, and if Derek Two was part of Derek, that meant somewhere inside of Derek was a guy who liked to give hugs and crack jokes. Somewhere inside Derek was a guy who could inspire love and devotion and loyalty from all of them, and give it back in spades.

Stiles knew that guy, intimately, and had for a long time already. Now, everyone else did, too. The problem was, they didn't even realize it.

Stiles also knew that telling Derek he could try being a little more like Derek Two would probably backfire spectacularly, and anyway that wasn't really the root of the problem here. He'd have to come at it from another direction.

"Okay, so if you can't do what he does, and he can't do what you do, then the pack needs both of you, and you need to work together," Stiles said, and then smooshed Derek's cheeks with his hands when Derek tried to grimace again. "Listen to me. Maybe you should treat him like an ally. You know, trust him a little. Let everyone else see that you're accepting him. Maybe then they won't feel like they have to choose a side."

Right now Stiles was pretty much the only one on Derek's side, but neither of them said it.

"Maybe," Derek mumbled through his smooshed face. Then he clammed up, so Stiles figured that was all he was going to get, but that was a lot more encouraging than anything he'd gotten so far, so he was just going to have to be happy with it.

"All right," he said, letting go of Derek's face. They'd both given some ground, there was no point in pushing. He leaned in to give Derek a kiss, and Derek was the one who kept it going, tugging Stiles’ forward so their bodies were flush against each other.

"Come home with me," Derek said against his mouth.

"Give you a ride home, you mean," Stiles said. He wasn't fooled—Derek's car wasn't here.

"That, too," Derek said.

"I want macaroni and cheese. Before the makeup sex," Stiles said. He hadn't eaten much at dinner; he'd been too upset. “You owe me mac n’ cheese.”

"I'll make you mac n’ cheese," Derek said, and kissed the tip of Stiles' nose.

"With ketchup," Stiles pressed, as Derek let go of him and stepped back so he could close the door. Derek hated it when Stiles put ketchup on his mac n' cheese.

"Forget it, I'll walk home," Derek said, but he skirted around to the other side of the Jeep and got in.

~*~

Shortly after Stiles got home from work the following afternoon he heard the Camaro pull into the driveway, and immediately checked his phone to see if he'd missed a text. It wasn't like Derek to just come over without giving Stiles a heads up, and it certainly wasn't like him to park in the driveway, and it…wasn't actually him getting out of the car. It was Derek Two. Stiles knew that as soon as he put one foot out onto the driveway; Derek wouldn't be caught dead in flip-flops.

Stiles was out of the house and across the lawn before Derek Two even closed the car door. "What's wrong? Is he okay? What happened?"

"He's fine! He's fine!" Derek Two said, lifting his hands in a warding gesture. "He sent me to make sure you're okay."

Stiles nearly sagged all the way to the ground in relief. "Oh, thank God," he said, hunching over to brace himself on his knees. His heart felt like it was going to explode from fear. He made himself take a few deep breaths before he straightened up. "Wait. Why wouldn't I be okay? And why do you have his car?" Derek Two drove a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle with a bumper sticker urging the world to coexist. Derek's lip curled every time he laid eyes on it.

"I let Isaac use it. He and a few of the others went down to Six Flags," he said distractedly as he looked around up and down the street, nostrils flaring a little like he was sniffing for nearby alphas. "We should go inside."

"Are they here?" Stiles asked, spinning in a quick circle, but everything looked fine to him.

"No," Derek Two said, but he had already started herding Stiles back toward the front door, which Stiles had left standing open in his panic. "But two of them showed up at our house today." He always referred to it as "our house" while Derek determinedly called it his house. "

"But he's okay?" Stiles asked again, locking the door behind them once they got inside.

"He's fine," Derek Two said, craning his neck to see as much of first floor as he could. "But Penelope saw the fight and called the cops." Penelope lived across the street. Derek Two knew all the neighbors' names and baked them muffins, while Derek was polite but not overly friendly. The entire neighborhood probably thought Derek had some kind of multiple personality thing going on and couldn't make up his mind about his facial hair. "They took off when they heard the sirens, but Derek had to stay and give the cops his statement. He was worried they'd come here next."

"Well. Better safe than sorry and all that, I guess," Stiles said, suddenly feeling awkward now that his panic had receded. He'd never actually been alone with Derek Two before, and it was weirder than he'd thought it would be; Stiles didn't know how to act around him without the others as a buffer. He looked so much like Derek, but he behaved so differently; it was really throwing him for a loop now that they were standing here in Stiles' house staring at each other.

While Derek Two sent Derek a text message letting him know everything was okay, Stiles went in the garage and dug out an old oatmeal carton full of mountain ash. Derek Two trailed along after him, wrinkling his nose when the wind blew the wrong way, as Stiles laid down a ring around the entire house. Luckily, he didn't have to worry about hiding it or explaining it. Years ago he'd told his dad it was a natural way to keep ants away.

"Must really work," Dad had said, patting Stiles on the back. "Haven't seen an ant in the house in years."

Once he got back around to the back door, Stiles brought the container into the house with him, leaving the threshold open so Derek Two could get in and out; he'd seal the circle after he left. He left the carton on top of the fridge where he could get to it quickly, and went to wash his hands while Derek Two patrolled the backyard, walking along the hedge that divided it from the neighbor's property. He was really taking his protection detail duty seriously, almost comically so, but Stiles was happy to let him.

Satisfied everything was okay for the time being, Stiles made a quick trip upstairs to grab his laptop, planning to get settled in the living room with Derek Two until Derek called him off, but when he came back downstairs Dad was walking in the front door, followed by Rachel, who was followed by Edgar. Edgar was carrying a handful of action figures and had picked a really bad time for a visit.

"Oh, shit!" Stiles said, skidding to a halt.

"He swore!" Edgar yelled, and pointed at Stiles. Dad gave Stiles a look like he wanted to strangle him. "That's a quarter!"

"Who's—" Stiles heard Derek Two say, right before he came out of the kitchen and walked right into Stiles' back, making Stiles stumble forward a step before he caught himself.

"Oh, shit," Derek Two said weakly.

"Another swear!" Edgar shouted. "Two quarters!"

"Well. Hi, Derek," Dad said, holding out a hand for Derek Two to shake. His smile was a little grim but his voice was friendly enough. "Good to see you."

"Uh," Stiles said, but before he could come up with anything else to follow that witty opener, Derek Two smoothly stepped around him and shook Dad's hand.

"Nice to see you, too, Sheriff," Derek Two said, and smiled. Then he turned toward Rachel and held his hand out to her, too. "Derek Hale," he said, and turned the watts up on his smile. Stiles could practically see Rachel melting under it.

Rachel introduced herself, and then Edgar, and then there was an awkward pause, probably because Stiles was standing there acting like the world was ending for what appeared to be no reason at all, but he couldn't think of anything else to do. Derek Two busied himself by forking two quarters over to a gloating Edgar.

Meanwhile, Stiles' dad gave Derek Two a once over, taking in the flip-flops and the clean-shaven face and the Iron Man T-shirt. "This is kind of a new look for you," he said. "Last time I saw you, you were more of a leather jacket and manly stubble kind of guy."

Stiles made a choking sound. Derek Two's left eyelid twitched.

It was Edgar who saved the moment by stepping up and stabbing Derek Two in the leg with an action figure.

"Will you play X-Mens with me?" he asked, offering up one of his toys.

Derek Two looked down at him. "Sure," he said, grinning as he took the action figure from him. "Wolverine, huh? Wolverine is cool."

"Wolverine is awesome," Edgar corrected. "But Captain America is awesomer." He eyed Derek Two's shirt. "Iron Man is okay."

"Anyone want a beer?" Dad asked the room at large.

"God yes," Stiles said.

~*~

Derek Two stayed long enough to have a beer with Dad, play lots of X-Mens with Edgar, eat carryout chicken for dinner, and charm Rachel into promising him a batch of maple bacon donuts. He was a bonafide hit with everyone, which should have been a relief, but instead made Stiles kind of sad.

Ever since he'd told his dad about Derek, Stiles had been thinking about including Derek in family stuff, but it always seemed like there was some kind of problem going on and Derek was too busy or too cranky or too blood-covered to make an appearance. Now it had happened, purely by accident, and it wasn't even Derek. All this stuff, the beer and the action figures and the donut promise, should have been Derek's to experience.

Though Stiles had to admit, if it had been the actual Derek here when everyone showed up, there might not have been any action figures or donuts. Stiles was going to have a really hard time explaining the personality change when his Derek finally took his rightful place.

"Thanks for that," Stiles said, as he walked Derek Two out to the car later. Derek had finally given them the all clear via text message half an hour ago, but Derek Two had insisted on helping with the after-dinner clean-up, which had been a trial for Stiles, standing next to Derek Two at the sink, bumping elbows and laughing. Stiles, used to residing in Derek's personal space, had kept drifting toward him without thinking about it, and then feeling guilty about it.

Even worse, it was hard to look at Derek Two, at how open and happy and affectionate he was, and wonder if Derek had ever been like this. Worse, to wonder if this was what Derek would be like now if his family hadn't been killed. If Kate hadn't gotten ahold of him before Stiles did. There was no way to know, but Stiles tortured himself by contemplating it anyway.

"No problem," Derek Two shrugged. "Happy to help."

"All right. See you," Stiles said, lifting a hand to wave, but Derek Two stepped a little closer, smiling, and said, "What, no goodnight kiss?"

Stiles' body tensed pleasantly in anticipation, conditioned to respond to his own Derek, but Stiles shook his head. "Derek would tear you into pieces so small they'd fit through a sieve," he said.

Derek Two lifted a cocky eyebrow. "Might be worth it."

"I’m not that good," Stiles snorted.

"I am," Derek Two said with an exaggerated leer that made Stiles laugh, breaking the tension, and Derek Two laughed as well.

Stiles didn't have much doubt Derek Two was really good—he'd heard the sounds coming from his bedroom, and seen the blissed out looks on the faces of his hook ups in the morning--but tonight had been an eye-opener for Stiles. Derek had said it would be cheating, and at the time Stiles had scoffed at the idea, but now that Derek Two had been here so long, and was clearly so very different from Original Recipe Derek, Stiles had to concede he had a point. As titillating as seeing the two Dereks hugging each other had been, being alone with Derek Two like this felt like cheating. This whole night had felt like cheating.

"Hey," Stiles said, as Derek Two got in the car. "Do me a favor. Don't tell him about tonight. About my dad and stuff."

"I won't," Derek Two said. He paused, hand on the door, and looked up at Stiles. "But I am going to tell him how lucky he is."

~*~

On the night of the full moon, Stiles let Derek pin his arms above his head while Derek slowly jerked him off, and then came all over Stiles' butt afterwards, which was one of Derek's favorite things to do. Stiles enjoyed it, too, but it always took forever, because there was edging and then there was what Derek did, which was like Olympic-level orgasm denial, so it was kind of a time investment.

After they showered and had a snack, Stiles decided this was as good a time as any to bring up Scott and the Argents.

It went about as well as could be expected, which was to say not well at all.

In the morning Derek's feathers were still a little ruffled, so even though they were pressed for time--the pack was supposed to come over for a strategy session--Stiles took Derek out for apology waffles anyway.

They pulled back into driveway right behind Derek Two, who got out of his Beetle carrying two boxes of donuts and a jug of orange juice. It was just past noon, which still qualified as early morning on a Saturday for most of the people in the Hale pack.

Derek Two's face brightened when he saw Derek and Stiles. Derek's face did the complete opposite, as usual.

"Hey," Derek Two said, "You know, I was thinking there's room in the back for a hot tub—"

"Can it," Derek said, shouldering past him. So much for teamwork. Stiles sighed and held the door open for both Dereks, then followed them into the house.

"I brought breakfast!" Derek Two said as the Dereks walked into the living room, his sunny disposition not dented in the slightest by Derek's sour attitude.

"Great, Tigger and Eeyore are finally here," Jackson said impatiently. "Can we start now?"

"Shut up and eat a donut," Danny said as he helped Derek Two open up the boxes.

"I want to talk about the Argents," Scott piped up. He couldn't have picked a worse time to bring it up—even the apology waffles had barely made a dent in Derek's bad mood.

Stiles bugged his eyes out at Scott and made frantic slashing motions across his throat with his hands, hoping he would take the hint and drop it, but it was too late. Derek slowly turned his head until his eyes met Scott's. Scott held his stare squarely and didn't back down.

"Yes, let's talk about the Argents," Derek said, still looking Scott dead in the eye. His tone was overly-calm and there was that sarcastic asshole smile again. It set off every warning bell in Stiles' head. "Let's talk about how you've been meeting with them secretly behind our backs."

There was a collective gasp from the room.

"Oh, fuck," Stiles groaned. Of all the ways this could have come out…

"Scott," Derek Two said disapprovingly. It was the first time Stiles could remember Derek Two scolding anyone.

"Wait a minute. The hunters? You've been meeting with hunters?" Enrique asked. He looked positively stunned, and Stiles didn't blame him.

"Not all of them, just Allison!" Scott protested.

The room briefly erupted in chatter, various versions of "How could you?" and "It's not what you think!" until Derek Two held up a hand and said, "Wait, wait." Everyone fell silent. "Let's listen to Scott's side of the story."

Stiles had to say, Scott handled it like a champ. He calmly laid out the whole situation so far, how he'd been approached by Allison, had begun a tentative communication with her. Scott talked about how the Argents had, over the last few years of being led by Allison, shifted their focus from hunting werewolves to protecting people. They were willing to work with the Hale pack to keep the peace in their town, as long as the pack was willing to do the same.

When Scott finished talking, the room was quiet but not tense. He'd made a good case, and been honest about the rocky history between the Hale pack and the Argent hunters, and the history between Allison and himself. It was clear he wasn't trying to mislead anyone about the circumstances.

"What do you guys think?" Derek asked the room at large. He didn't often ask for a consensus, and Stiles could see how taken aback everyone was by it now.

A few people thought it was worth a try, some people were vehemently against it. Boyd and Erica were understandably unwilling to forgive and forget being tortured. Enrique and Emilio, who had come from a pack that had been nearly wiped out by hunters who exercised the nuclear option on werewolves for the tiniest offense, were also opposed. Everyone else was either in favor of an alliance, or willing to explore the idea more.

"I'll think about it," Derek said, once everyone had had their say. Scott looked disappointed, but Stiles would explain to him later exactly what a big deal this was, after Derek's reaction last night, and he'd probably see it differently.

"So let's talk about our more immediate problem," said Boyd, always the pragmatist.

The immediate problem was that a gang of elves—bunch of annoying, hairy little fuckers on Harleys—had blown into Beacon Hills and tried to claim it as their new base of operations. They hadn't hurt anyone yet, or made a direct challenge to Derek's pack, but there'd been a lot of posturing and asshole behavior, including riding their stupid motorcycles in the Preserve.

"Maybe we should let them have Beacon Hills," Erica joked, after Danny had finished summarizing the situation. "Then the alpha pack is their problem."

"Seconded," Jackson said, flipping through Derek Two's Real Simple magazine. He looked supremely bored, as if none of this actually had an effect on him, even though it certainly did. Stiles sometimes wondered why he even came to these meetings.

"Or we could pretend to let them have it, sit back and watch them fight the alpha pack for us," Stiles said, sort of into the idea now that he thought about it. "Then we swoop in and take it back!"

"I like Stiles' plan," Scott chimed in.

"We're not letting anyone take over Beacon Hills," Derek said, looking annoyed. "Or pretending to, either."

It was too late, though. Several other people were showing interest in the idea. "Can a gang of elves beat an alpha pack?" Emilio asked.

"No," Derek said firmly. "And they're our problem, so we're going to handle them."

Scott and Stiles groaned in unison, but Derek ignored them.

"All right, so we take them on," Lydia asked. She already had her iPad out and was tapping the screen. "Do we need to research this or do you know what to do?" she asked Derek.

"It'll be easier to fight them with magic," he said, which was his way of saying he didn't have a complete answer without actually admitting he didn't have a complete answer.

"Well, we've got that covered!" Derek Two said, giving Stiles a thumbs up.

"Great. We're fucked," Jackson said.

"Hey!" Stiles protested. He really, really wished Jackson would stop coming to the meetings.

"Actually," Derek said, staring thoughtfully up at the ceiling, "There's someone else who might be interested in fighting a bunch of elves with magic." He looked over at Derek Two and said, "I need you and Isaac to do something."

~*~

Elves took even longer to burn than ogres, and it took twice as many firecrackers to get a good fire going. They were small, but dense.

When Stiles finally got back to the Dereks' house, it was really late and Stiles was exhausted. Derek was crashed out on the couch in front of the TV, but he woke up when Stiles climbed on top of him, looping an arm around his neck and holding him close.

"You smell like a burnt tire," Derek grumbled into Stiles' ear.

"Hey, any time you wanna take over the cremation duty, it's all yours," Stiles said huffily, but he didn't have the energy to work up any actual indignation, and he certainly wasn't going to get up.

"I wouldn’t want to deprive you of your 'bro time,'" Derek said, deadpan.

"No, stop, no," Stiles begged, clapping his hands over his ears. “I’m too exhausted to deal with this.” Derek was totally holding back a laugh—Stiles could feel him shaking with the effort.

"Hey, YOLO," Derek said, and then finally couldn't hold it in anymore and started laughing. Stiles squirmed around a little to stay balanced on top of him.

"I'm glad you amuse yourself," Stiles groused, but he actually was glad to see Derek making bad jokes and laughing again. Those things had been in short supply lately, and he hadn’t whipped out the dorky slang at all since the day of the spell.

Derek grinned at him and then opened his mouth, probably to say something else cringe-inducing, so Stiles asked, "What'd the Sweet Peas want?" They'd agreed to help Derek's pack with the elves in exchange for a favor in return, but Stiles hadn't been at the meeting where they'd negotiated the deal. He'd had to work.

The distraction worked, thank God. "No big deal," Derek said, shrugging as best he could while lying down with Stiles on top of him. "We just have to help build a new barn."

"What?" Stiles asked, flabbergasted. How was that no big deal? "An entire barn? Are you kidding me?"

"An entire barn," Derek confirmed. His face was flushed from all the laughing, which looked really good on him, but even that couldn't distract Stiles from this stunning news.

''How?" he asked. "This isn't Witness! We don't know how to build a barn!"

"I guess they do," Derek said, still completely unperturbed by the idea. "We're just the muscle."

"Ugh," Stiles said, and slumped back down onto Derek's chest. He hated doing physical stuff outside. There was always sun or rain or bugs or something. "I don't have werewolf strength, so you probably won't need me," he pointed out hopefully.

"Of course we'll need you," Derek said, patting him on the back like he was comforting a baby. "You can help the womenfolk with the food."

"If I weren't so tired right now I would make you regret that," Stiles told him.

"I know," Derek said, and slipped a hand up the back of Stiles' shirts, which was dirty pool. Stiles couldn't sarcasm effectively when Derek was rubbing soothing little circles into the small of his back. "Might be fun, though, for the pack to build a barn together."

Stiles wasn't so sure Jackson would think so, but no one really cared much what Jackson thought, so that was okay. And it was a welcome change to hear Derek endorsing a non-violent bonding activity—maybe he was finally coming around to incorporating some of Derek Two's leadership style.

"That was a good idea, seeing if the Sweet Peas wanted to help us out," Stiles said, wanting to give credit where credit was due while he was thinking of it. "And it was a good idea to send Derek Two." He'd been waiting for any sign that Derek would act on the things they'd talked about that night in the parking lot, but there'd been nothing until now. "I was starting to wonder if you were going to give him any responsibility."

Derek's hand stopped moving. "I already did," he said, sounding surprised Stiles didn't know. "Right after we talked about it."

Stiles lifted his head to look Derek in the eye, not sure he was being serious. But Derek certainly looked serious—big surprise there. "You did? What? When?" Stiles asked. Derek hadn't mentioned it at all, and Stiles hadn't wanted to push too much.

Derek urged him back down to snuggle. "That day the alpha pack got the jump on me here. I sent him to your house," Derek said. He slid his hand further up Stiles' shirts, until he could press his hand flat between his shoulder blades as he dropped a kiss on Stiles’ forehead. "I trusted him to protect you."

~*~

Perhaps provoked by the small victories Stiles had managed to eke out of the summer so far, the universe promptly set about crapping on him with renewed fervor.

Monday really lived up to its reputation as a bummer when the big ugly alpha, Ennis, got the drop on Stiles as he was getting out of his car and chased him around the house and straight into the Dereks' brand new hot tub, which Stiles had forgotten was there and failed to see in the dark. Scott and Jackson came bellowing out of the house like demon dogs in time to save Stiles' life, but not his phone. Stiles' dad, sick of replacing phones left and right, told Stiles he'd have to pay for this one himself, being a grown-up now and all, which Stiles couldn’t afford to do until he got paid.

Luckily for him, Ariel, one of his video game co-workers, came down with mono, and Stiles promptly volunteered to take her shifts. For the rest of the week he worked long days, sometimes double shifts, sometimes closing the store and then going back again just hours later to open it again. While this was happening, Derek and his pack were being run ragged by the alpha pack, and Stiles barely saw any of them. He slept at home a lot, both because after his run-in with Ennis he was a little concerned about his father's safety, and also because it was closer to the store and Stiles was trying to maximize his sleeping time.

"You've been home a lot lately," Dad said carefully one morning when they crossed paths in the kitchen. He was wearing his Concerned Dad face. "Any particular reason?"

Stiles was tired, and hungry, and un-caffeinated, so it took him a second to catch on to the fact that his dad was gently inquiring about his relationship with Derek.

"Derek and I are fine," Stiles said, cutting to the chase. "It's just closer to come here when I have to go right back, and he's really busy." Too late, he saw the hole in that story—Dad knew Derek didn't work.

"Seems like he is," Dad agreed, to Stiles’ surprise. "I saw him over at the park the other day, coaching the pee-wee soccer team."

Stiles was glad he was turned toward the coffee pot, because then Dad didn't see his face. That was Derek Two he'd seen at the park, obviously.

"It's good to see him getting involved. I always worried about him, living in that old wreck of a house, nothing to fill his time." He clapped Stiles on the shoulder. "He had a rough couple of years there. Nice he's getting his life back on track."

"Sure is," Stiles said, because Dad didn't know he was still having rough years. There was some good stuff going on—and Stiles had a healthy enough ego to consider himself one of the things that was going very right—but Derek's life was overall still a tragedy of epic proportions. He wasn’t even a real werewolf right now.

"You should invite him over for dinner again sometime," Dad suggested as he filled his travel mug with coffee. "I'll have Rachel and Edgar over, too. Edgar would love it—he hasn't stopped talking about Derek since the last time."

"Yeah, absolutely," Stiles said, mustering up a smile from somewhere. It still bothered him that Derek Two had taken that space in Stiles' life that should have been Derek's, but there was nothing he could do about it now, and it was a low priority anyway, when compared to getting Derek's powers back and, oh, staying alive. Also, he was completely avoiding the whole thing out of guilt. "When things calm down a little," Stiles promised, hoping to buy some time.

"Sounds good," Dad said, and left for work, whistling on his way out the door.

That was pretty much the extent of Stiles' interaction with his dad that week, and he didn't see much of anyone else except customers at the store. Scott stopped at the house one night when Stiles happened to be home and awake, but he was on his way to meet Allison and couldn't stay long. Derek came into the shop a few times, looking hilariously uncomfortable while he leaned on the counter and talked to Stiles in between customers. Usually he brought coffee, which was much appreciated. Other than that, Stiles, stuck without a phone, was isolated from the rest of the pack, out of the loop.

Derek must have finally gotten fed up with the situation, because on Friday night Stiles came out of the store and found a brand new phone, still in the box, on the seat of his Jeep. It was too late to go get it activated, but he swung by the Verizon store the next morning on his way back to work—again--and got it taken care of. The phone was beautiful—a newer model than his old one—and he loved it, and he sent Derek a text message telling him so.

While he was at work waiting for the gaming nerds to get their asses out of bed and start shopping, he sent text messages to pretty much everyone he knew letting them know he was back in the twenty-first century. Then he sent Derek a picture of his butt, because it seemed like the thing to do with a new phone.

Amazeballs, bro, Derek replied.

Hey, YOLO, Stiles texted back.

~*~

The giddiness that came with new electronics and copious amounts of coffee could only carry him so far, though, and by the time Stiles finished his final extra shift—a brutal open to close—he was done. Worn out, exhausted, no fuel left in the tank. Tomorrow was his first day off in over a week, and he intended to sleep at Derek's tonight and then screw him silly in the morning. He'd already sent Derek a text message telling him so.

When he got to the Dereks' house the only car in sight was the Camaro, so Derek was home alone. That was kind of a relief—Stiles didn’t feel like playing referee tonight, and was too tired to really enjoy any kind of group hang out time. Once he got inside, he found Derek asleep on the couch again.

It was a welcoming sight, seeing him there in all his stubbled glory, his boots on the couch cushions as usual, leather jacket in a heap on the floor. Stiles kicked off his shoes and got rid of his jeans and hoodie before crawling on top of him, groaning with relief when Derek shifted to welcome him, legs slotting together, arms coming up to hold on. He'd missed this.

“Mmmm,” Stiles sighed, and shoved his hand up Derek's shirt so he could feel his heart beating while he pressed a few little kisses to his jaw. Derek reached up and ruffled Stiles' hair before sighing softly and going back to sleep. He didn't even open his eyes.

A little while later the sound of the garage door opening and closing woke Stiles up--Derek Two was back. Stiles heard him come in the house and drop his keys on the kitchen counter, and he expected him to head straight for his room, so he was a little surprised when he heard footsteps coming closer instead. He cracked an eye, just enough to give him a view of Derek Two's legs next to the couch.

Except those couldn't be Derek Two's legs, because they were covered in black jeans, and that didn't make sense. Stiles opened his eyes a little more and saw Derek Two also had a gray T-shirt and a black leather jacket and stubble and red, red eyes, and holy shit--

"What the hell is going on here?" Derek—Stiles' Derek—asked, voice strained with quiet fury as he glared down at them, and Stiles sat up and scrambled up off the couch---off of Derek Two—so fast he landed on the floor on his butt.

"Holy shit, that's not you," Stiles said, looking from Derek to Derek Two, who was awake now, pushing to sit up.

"Oh, are you a detective now?" Derek asked snottily, and even though this was a really fucking terrible situation Stiles had to admit that was a well-chosen comeback.

"I thought he was you!" Stiles said. He lifted a hand, then helplessly let it fall into his lap. "Obviously. Derek I would never—you know I wouldn't." Derek didn't look convinced, and Stiles wanted to kick himself. He never should have said that stuff about wanting to have a threesome. Stupid stupid stupid. "You know I wouldn't," he said again, though he wasn't so sure Derek did know. "I thought he was you."

Derek turned his glowing red eyes on Derek Two. "What's your excuse?" he asked.

"I was asleep," Derek Two said, but he rubbed the back of his neck with his hand and looked away guiltily.

"Dude! Not cool!" Stiles yelled, pointing at him. "Not cool at all! I did not consent to be cuddled!"

"It's not Stiles' fault," Derek Two said quickly. "He thought I was you. I shouldn't have fallen asleep in your clothes."

"That's right, you shouldn't have!" Stiles yelled. "Wait, why are you in his clothes? And why did you stop shaving?"

"He wanted me to," Derek Two said, and Stiles gave Derek a What the fuck? look.

"I decided to meet with Argent, but I thought it might be a trap, so I sent him," Derek explained tersely.

"You didn't say it was a trap!" Derek Two exclaimed, looking betrayed. "You said you needed my help!"

Derek rolled his eyes. "I needed your help not getting trapped," he said, like that should have been obvious.

"Okay! So! Big misunderstanding, but now everyone's in the know. We got it all sorted out," Stiles said, getting to his feet. The Dereks were still glaring at each other, both of them tensed to fight. This was a little beyond their usual casual antagonism, and Stiles didn't like it. "Whew! Glad that's over!"

It wasn't over.

"Pack your shit and get out," Derek said to Derek Two, voice so cold Stiles involuntarily took a step back. "Go find your own pack, and your own goddamn life. This one is mine."

"How about this," Derek Two said, slowly getting to his feet as his eyes lit red. Dressed like he was, standing there hairy and angry and defiant, he was like a mirror image of Derek. "How about you pack your shit and go?"

"Oh, fuck," Stiles said, as he was suddenly hit with the realization that the only reason this situation hadn't boiled over long ago was because Derek Two hadn't let it. He'd certainly poked at Derek, but never engaged in an outright confrontation with him like this. Now, he wasn't holding back. Months of frustration and resentment were coming to a head and Stiles really, really wished he had his pants on for it.

"That's what you've wanted all along," Derek said accusingly. "You've been trying to steal my life since you got here."

Derek Two smirked at him. "Who said anything about trying?" He waved a hand at Stiles. "I'd say I'm succeeding."

"You did not just—" Stiles managed to get out before Derek lost his temper completely and launched himself at Derek Two.

Derek tackled him like a football player, and they crashed into the couch, which promptly tipped over backwards and spilled them onto the kitchen floor, where they rolled, limbs flailing, snarling. Derek broke away and got to his feet, and promptly took a roundhouse to the face and stumbled into the wall.

Stiles had obviously seen two alphas fight before—every goddamn summer, sadly--but not when both of them were Derek, and not in such a small space. The noise was unbelievable. Just the snarling alone was probably enough to wake up the neighborhood, and that was before they started careening around the room and breaking stuff.

They crashed into a lamp, which hit the floor, and the light bulb died with a flash and a pop. Broken glass scattered across the floor, and they didn't seem to care. They were locked together, roaring in each other's face, throwing each other against every available surface, landing punch after punch that didn't seem to do anything but make them angrier. Another lamp bit the dust.

"Oh, God, not on the PlayStation! Not on the PlayStation!" Stiles yelled, right before they landed on the PlayStation. "Goddammit!"

Stiles was at a loss. There was no way this fight would end in anything other than a draw—the pull-up contest had proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt—and with no claws or fangs there was a limit to how much they could really hurt each other, but at the rate they were going they were going to knock the whole house down. And attract the attention of the neighbors while they were at it, who might call the cops. But there was no way Stiles was getting in between them this time. This was worse than trying to break up a dog fight.

Which gave him an idea. He went in the kitchen and got Derek Two's big plastic pitcher of water out of the fridge—it had slices of lemon and cucumber floating in it, but that didn't matter. Yanking the lid off, he went back into the living room and waited at the edge of the debris, because there was no way he was walking around on broken glass in his socks. When they finally rolled toward him again, Stiles upended the pitcher and emptied it on them.

They broke apart instantly, scrambling away from him and howling at the shock of the icy water. When they got to their feet, they both turned to give Stiles matching indignant looks. There was a cucumber slice stuck to the front of Derek's leather jacket.

"You!" Stiles said, pointing at Derek Two. "Go to your room." He pointed down the hallway.

Derek Two's jaw dropped.

Next Stiles turned his wrath on Derek, who was giving Derek Two a smug look. He dropped it instantly when Stiles pointed at him and said, "And you go to your room. Right now. Everyone gets a time out."

"Are you serious?" Derek asked, gaping at Stiles as water dripped from his wilted hair.

"Yes," Stiles said, in his best bossy tone. "Everyone is going to calm down and then we're going to talk about this. Go."

"Ugh, fine," Derek said, sounding exactly like a sulky teenager. He wiped his wet face on his sleeve and then did as he was told, heading for the hallway, but as he stepped past Derek Two he pushed him aside with his shoulder, and Derek Two shoved him hard with both hands and they were at it again.

"Arrrgh! You're impossible!" Stiles yelled and threw the empty pitcher at them. It bounced off someone's head, and then skidded across the floor. "Destroy the place! See if I care!" he told them, as they thudded against the wall and one of Derek Two's framed motivational posters--LEADERSHIP--came crashing down.

Stiles instantly changed his mind about caring when they barreled into the door of Derek's bedroom, which burst inward. They tumbled through it and disappeared from view.

"Shit shit shit," Stiles said, tiptoeing his way past the edge of the debris field, slipping on a wet piece of lemon. Destroying the rest of the house was one thing, but some of Stiles' stuff was in that room.

He peeked cautiously around the door, which was hanging by one hinge, a huge splinter embedded in the wall behind it. The Dereks were still grappling with each other, swearing and grunting as they each tried to get the upper hand. As Stiles darted into the room and began snatching up all his valuables—his High School Musical DVDs, his Despicable Me snow globe, his collection of dried insects and animal bones—the Dereks tumbled onto the bed, rolled straight off the other side and disappeared. He heard them hit the floor with synchronized grunts.

Arms overflowing, Stiles took two steps toward the door, then hesitated when the Dereks didn't immediately get back up. There were no more sounds of fighting, nothing being smashed to pieces. It was way too quiet for his liking. Had they somehow managed to knock each other unconscious at the same time?

He darted into the master bath and stashed all his stuff in the nearly empty cabinet under the sink, then cautiously approached the bed and knelt on it, peering over the edge. He still couldn’t see anything, so he crawled a little closer and then froze when he finally got a glimpse. There on the floor, wedged between the bed and wall, the two Dereks were making out.

Stiles couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Derek hated Derek Two, he had said so a hundred times, barely tolerated having him around at all, and Derek Two couldn’t seem to stop poking at Derek, trying to get a rise out of him. They'd been aggravating the hell out of each other for months now. And Stiles was so stupid, because wasn't that exactly how he and Derek had started out?

And the Dereks certainly weren't hating each other right now. They were kissing hungrily, and Derek Two was grabbing Derek's ass, and even if they were still kind of snarling at each other as they yanked at each other’s clothes, the way they were aggressively grinding their hips together left no doubt where this was headed, and fast.

"Hey, wait for me! Wait for me!" Stiles said, falling back onto his butt as he frantically tried to get out of his clothes. His dick was already hard, bent uncomfortably down the leg of his underwear, and he winced as he tried to work around it.

One of the Dereks—Stiles couldn’t tell which one now that they were shirtless--popped up over the edge of the bed, panting and wild-eyed, and then the other Derek appeared next to the first one. There was blood on his lip and a set of faint red scratches on his shoulder. They looked at each other, and then back at Stiles, and one of them grinned.

Stiles actually gulped, stuck half in and half out of his underwear, when they climbed up onto the bed, eyes intent, and started crawling toward him. They were already naked and hard, and they looked like they wanted to eat him. His belly started to quiver inside, and an involuntary yelp may have slipped out, but it wasn’t his fault--he was about to have a threesome with two Dereks. The only reason he was still able to think coherently at this point was his steadfast determination to not miss a single second of this.

They were on him in a second, stripping him with scary efficiency, and things got a little confusing for a bit while everyone tried to get their mouths and hands all over everyone else at the same time. Stiles squirmed around in the muddle of limbs, completely unable to settle on a single thing to do when there was some part of some Derek every place he looked or touched—behind him, on top of him, in his mouth, under his hands. And there were dicks everywhere. Everyone had a dick to play with that wasn't his own. It was pretty awesome.

Stiles slithered down the bed to get his mouth on one of those dicks, and almost got poked in the eye by the other one. He sucked one of them down, slowly jerking the other one at the same time, then slurped off and switched. They were a matched set down here, too, unsurprisingly, both of them a nice mouthful, and he went from one to the other a few times, not seriously trying to make anyone come, just appreciating this bounty of beautiful Derek dick that was all his to enjoy.

The Dereks were squirming against each other and against him, and Stiles recognized the restrained twitches Derek’s hips always made when he was in Stiles’ mouth. Someone cupped Stiles’ jaw with their hand, someone’s fingers slid through his hair. Someone—it had to be Derek Two—was pretty noisy about getting his dick sucked, kept talking about Stiles’ mouth and how much he liked it.

“God, come up here,” Derek Two—it had to be him—said after a while, trying to pry Stiles’ hand off his wet cock. “I want to kiss you, come here.”

Derek, always the more direct of the two, reached down and grabbed the back of Stiles’ neck, urging him off his dick and back up the bed, guiding Stiles to lay on his back between them. Stiles thought about complaining—he’d just been getting started—but then Derek Two leaned over him, looking hungry.

“Jesus, your mouth,” Derek Two said appreciatively, running his thumb across Stiles’ lower lip before he pinned him down with one leg thrown over his thighs and kissed him. Stiles flung an arm around his shoulders and kissed him back, falling easily into it--his mouth was familiar, felt the same, tasted the same...

It wasn’t like kissing Derek at all.

There was always a little needy desperation in Derek’s kisses, like he was afraid this might be the last time they kissed at all. Which, given their lives the last few years, was pretty understandable. But Derek Two kissed like he had all the time in the world to enjoy it, and also like he was in a romance novel: deep, soulful kisses punctuated by choked off whispers buried in Stiles’ neck. He kept pausing to gaze into Stiles' eyes before kissing him again, stroking Stiles’ cheek with fingers.

Stiles wasn’t, in theory, opposed to doing some gentle boning, but that wasn’t how he and Derek rolled, and this was kind of unnerving. He felt oddly self-conscious in a way he hadn’t since his first fumbling forays into sexytimes back in high school. He tried to respond with enthusiasm, but it just wasn’t there—he felt weird.

Derek Two slowed the kiss even more, then stopped completely, pulling back to rub his nose against Stiles’. “What’s wrong?” he asked, forehead adorably scrunched in puzzlement.

“Nothing,” Stiles said quickly. Probably too quickly. “I just…” he said, feeling flustered. Derek Two was being so nice, which meant Stiles was kind of a jackass for complaining, right?

His hesitation set off some kind of alarm bell. “Do you want to stop?” Derek Two asked, already backing off. On Stiles’ other side, Derek sat up and moved into Stiles’ line of sight, frowning.

“No, no! It’s fine,” Stiles said quickly, wrapping one leg around Derek Two’s hips to hold him in place. “I just--I wasn’t expecting—uh,” he said. “This to be so. Um.” Sweet? Oh, God, he couldn’t say that. Gross.

"That's not what he likes," Derek said impatiently, then gave Stiles an uncertain look. "Is it?" Derek Two immediately looked crushed.

"I like a lot of different things," Stiles told Derek Two, trying to be diplomatic where Derek was blunt. Apparently it was his lot in life to do that everywhere.

“Well, tell me what you do want,” Derek Two said, rallying. He dropped his head and left a soft kiss on the ball of Stiles’ shoulder. “I’ll do whatever you want. Tell me what you like.”

Stiles’ brain froze at the question, purely from an overabundance of possible responses, but Derek helped out by shoving Derek Two aside enough that he could flip Stiles over onto his belly. That seemed to be enough of a hint for Derek Two, because Stiles heard him say, “Mmmm, yeah,” in a low voice and then he felt two hands on his ass, spreading him open.

Stiles clutched at the pillow, barely able to breathe as he felt what had to be Derek Two’s nose bumping lightly against the curve of his butt, followed by hot breath and a prickle of beard scraping right where things started to get a little sensitive. A slick, hot tongue landed exactly where Stiles wanted it, and he kind of went away for a while after that, moaning into the pillow and not even trying to keep still as Derek Two slowly took him apart with one soft, teasing flick of his tongue after another.

He felt the bed dip as Derek moved, and managed to look over his shoulder and see Derek shuffling on his knees, getting right up next to Stiles’ ass, right up next to where Derek Two was practically making out with Stiles’ ass. Derek was watching, and really getting off on it, idly stroking his dick. Every couple seconds his tongue peeked out to swipe at his bottom lip, and his eyes actually slipped shut for a moment when he took a deep breath through his nose.

Derek,” Stiles said helplessly as Derek Two switched to long licks and open-mouthed kisses, just getting his whole face in there. It sounded obscene.

“Shhh,” Derek said distractedly as he ran a slightly sweaty hand up Stiles’ spine. He couldn’t seem to tear his eyes away from where Derek Two’s mouth met Stiles’ ass. “We’ve got you.” And Stiles knew that, he knew it. That was the problem. He wasn’t sure he could handle seeing Derek like this and feeling Derek Two like that at the same time. It was too much.

He closed his eyes and reached down to touch his own dick, but Derek caught his hand and held it away, ignoring Stiles’ cranky sound of protest. “Someone fuck me,” Stiles pleaded, grinding his hot face into the sheets. He didn’t bottom all that often, mainly because Derek loved it and Stiles loved giving Derek whatever he wanted, but he was dying for it right now. “Please.

“How do you want it?” Derek asked. He reached down and gave Stiles a slow, tight stroke with his fist, not nearly enough to make him come.

Stiles wanted to scream with frustration, and Derek Two well knew it, because he made a soothing noise at his butt that did absolutely nothing to help. “You guys decide. I can’t—oh my God,” Stiles moaned as Derek Two’s tongue split him open again.

And still no one moved. Stiles was about to go all rock paper scissors on this threesome when Derek Two finally lifted his head and said, in a hoarse voice, “Where’s the lube?”

Derek let go of Stiles’ dick, and Stiles sagged back down onto the bed, gasping for air with lungs that felt too small. Derek Two was still holding onto his hips, nipping at his ass and the backs of his thighs, humming happily to himself like a chipper little cartoon character. Derek nearly fell off the bed digging the lube out of the bedside table, but he finally managed to get it out of the drawer and handed down to Derek Two, who wasn’t even trying not to laugh.

Stiles thought it might be another eternity with the prep but apparently even Derek Two had his limits because he slicked himself up and then only took a minute with Stiles, who was already loose and wet and relaxed. He worked two fingers in, then three, while Derek gripped Stiles by the hips and refused to let him squirm against the bed.

The Dereks must have had some kind of freaky doppelganger sex telepathy or something, because without exchanging so much as a single word they moved as one when they helped Stiles turn onto his side. Derek Two spooned him from behind, slipping one arm under Stiles’ body to cradle him close, making soft noises at him, promising him they were almost there, he was going to give Stiles what he needed. The slick ridge of his cock bumped against the back of Stiles’ thighs, then slid up to rest against his balls while Derek crowded against Stiles’ front. The anticipation was killing him.

Finally, Derek hooked a hand under Stiles’ knee and lifted it up, holding him open for Derek Two. Stiles made an enthusiastic sound of approval when he finally felt the head of Derek Two’s cock rub a small circle against his well-prepped ass, but it was mostly lost in Derek’s mouth when he leaned in for a kiss. Derek Two’s arm tightened around Stiles and then he flexed his hips and pressed inside, making Stiles moan at the prickle of that first stretch.

“God, Stiles, you feel amazing,” Derek Two groaned, pausing when he was all the way inside. His voice was the same as Derek’s, but somehow when Derek Two said Stiles’ name, it sounded different, like it carried a secret. It made something kind of hurt inside of Stiles, like finding a bruise you didn’t know was there until you pushed on it. Maybe Derek felt it too, because he made a needy sound in his throat and kissed Stiles harder.

Derek Two pulled out until he was just barely inside, and the first real thrust was slow and deep. Stiles broke away from Derek’s mouth, gasping, and Derek let go of his leg so Stiles could lean back onto Derek Two and open his knee up a little the way he liked when he was getting fucked from behind like this. “Is that good? Right there?” Derek Two asked, rolling his hips again.

“Nnnngh,” Stiles said, and he was actually pretty impressed with his own coherency at that point. He arched into the next thrust as Derek wiggled down the bed.

Derek Two’s next thrust was time almost perfectly with Derek taking Stiles’ cock into his mouth, and Stiles clutched at Derek’s head and let out a shaky cry, then another as they moved in sync again, one filling him up as the other took him deep. His vision swam, and every thought in Stiles’ head dissolved into a staticky fizz of sensation overload.

Stiles had never done anything like this before. Even having fingers in his ass while he was getting his dick sucked—which he loved--didn’t come close to this in intensity, the heavy drag of a thick cock combined with the soft heat of a willing mouth. He wanted more of both, couldn’t figure out which one to move toward, the wet suction or the hot friction. He squirmed futilely, head lolling on Derek Two’s shoulder as he shuddered through another thrust, another sweep of Derek’s mouth.

“There we go,” Derek Two said approvingly, as if Stiles’ going to pieces had been the goal all along. Derek pulled back enough to circle the head of Stiles’ cock with his tongue, and when he went back down he stopped moving, just kept his mouth relaxed and soft, holding Stiles’ dick in his mouth.

Stiles reached down and tangled weak fingers in Derek’s damp hair, not trying to get him to move, just trying to cling to reality as Derek Two filled him up again, hard as a piece of iron. On the next thrust, Derek Two’s hand joined Stiles’, tangling in Derek’s hair.

“Look at him, he loves it,” Derek Two said in Stiles’ ear. Derek Two rubbed his hand down over Derek’s head to cup the back of his neck and hold him gently in place, using his hips to push Stiles’ dick deeper into Derek’s mouth, keeping him there for a moment before he eased back and Derek could take a breath.

“Don’t stop,” Stiles choked out, squeezing his eyes shut as Derek Two rocked into him again, slowly nudging the head of Stiles’ dick into the back of Derek’s throat again.

“I won’t,” Derek Two said, nuzzling Stiles’ ear. “I want to see both of you come. I’ve been listening to you guys fuck for months, I know what it sounds like. Now I want to see it.”

“Oh my God,” Stiles whined, imagining Derek Two in his room, listening to them have sex, maybe jerking off to what he was hearing, or to what he was picturing in his mind while he listened.

Derek Two laughed, low and dirty, and it sent goosebumps down Stiles’ arms. “I know you thought about it, too,” he said, the sound of a smile riding his voice, and Stiles could only nod frantically while the heat of Derek’s mouth tightened around him for a second before relaxing again. Derek was listening. Derek was agreeing.

“I knew you’d come around eventually,” Stiles said to Derek, laughing a little. That much animosity had to have a boner behind it somewhere.

Derek gave an affirmative little hum, blinking up at Stiles with bright eyes as Derek Two let go of his neck. Derek pulled back then, mouth red and used-looking, and slithered back up the bed, biting at Stiles’ belly, his nipples, his collarbone. By the time he got to Stiles’ neck he was gripping Stiles cock, rubbing his thumb in a maddening circle on the underside of the head. Stiles tipped his head back and clutched weakly at the arm around his middle and let himself drift in the pleasure of what they were doing to him.

Derek Two never stopped moving and never stopped talking. Stiles was unaccustomed to that much chatter in bed, but instead of being distracting it seemed to flow as easily as the movement of their bodies, slowly winding Stiles’ insides tighter and tighter, until he was desperate to come. He couldn’t, though, because Derek had circled his fingers around Stiles’ balls and he was tugging on them just enough to keep his orgasm tantalizingly out of reach. Stiles hissed and humped awkwardly backward onto Derek Two’s dick, but that only made his balls ache more.

Derek Two’s next thrust was hard, grinding Stiles against Derek’s body. It got slow and dirty then, Derek Two screwing deep into Stiles’ ass, Derek sucking on the tendon in Stiles’ neck, everyone panting. Stiles could feel the Dereks everywhere, scratchy body hair and sweaty skin catching as they clung to each other, hitching and rubbing; two hearts thudding against his, one from each side.

“I’m going to come. You ready?” Derek Two asked, and Stiles nodded frantically, chin bumping against the top of Derek’s head before he lifted it to nip at Stiles’ open mouth.

Derek Two’s arm reached over Stiles’ shoulder and grabbed Derek’s face, yanking him into a kiss as Derek Two suddenly sped up, fucking fast into Stiles a few times before he went still, coming with a moan that turned into a muffled little laugh at the end. He tucked his face into the back of Stiles’ neck, breathing damp air all over it, as the last of the spasms twitched through him.

Stiles, trembling on the edge of a long-awaited orgasm, tried to push into Derek’s hand, but Derek let go just as Derek Two pulled out, and Stiles whined pitifully, abandoned in his time of need. He felt dangerously close to throwing an actual tantrum. Released from the kiss, Derek got a hand under Stiles’ chin and mashed their mouths together in a frantic kiss that Stiles barely responded to before Derek flipped Stiles over onto his stomach again and got between his knees, hauling his hips up. Stiles’ ass was literally dripping, he could feel it running out of him, hot and wet.

“Jesus, look at you,” Derek said in a throaty voice. Stiles shivered as Derek dragged two fingers up the back of Stiles’ balls, catching it and pushing it back in. The next thing Stiles felt was Derek’s cock, sliding into him with no resistance.

This time it was fast and hard, what Stiles was used to, and he had to brace his hands on the headboard to keep from cracking his head open on it. Derek Two, grinning, knelt next to Stiles and reached under to stroke his dick. His other hand slid down Stiles’ back to tease at Stiles’ rim as Derek fucked him, and Stiles keened, overloaded with sensation. His ass was so sensitive now, every thrust sparking little shivers through him, and Derek Two’s fingers only made it more intense, almost too intense. Stiles’ arms started to shake, and he dropped down to his elbows.

“Feels good, right?” Derek Two said, moving his fingers in a slow sweep across the top that was completely at odds with Derek’s frantic pounding, and Stiles had no idea how Derek Two’s hand wasn’t getting crushed but he never wanted him to stop. “You ready to come?”

“Fuck yes,” Stiles hissed, arching his back, jolting with Derek’s every thrust.

“We’re gonnna make you come so hard, Stiles.” Derek Two kept touching him with one hand, fingers moving in that maddening glide, while he used the other to guide Stiles’ hand to his own dick. Stiles took hold of himself clumsily, too far gone by now to find a good stroke. He couldn’t decide between matching up with Derek’s dick or Derek Two’s fingers, but he wasn’t going to need much.

He didn’t need hardly any, really, when he felt one of Derek Two’s fingers curl down to slip into him alongside Derek’s cock, an electrifying, intense stretch that made Stiles cry out, high-pitched and startled. Derek grunted like he’d been punched in the gut, and his hips stuttered to a halt as his hands tightened on Stiles’ hips.

Derek Two said, low in Stiles’ ear, “You think you could take both of us at the same time?” A second finger eased in next to the first one, and Stiles choked off a whine at the burn of it before his whole body seized up and he came, clawing at the sheets. Behind him, Derek made a strangled sound and fucked into Stiles once, shocking a gasp out of him, before he came with a groan, pulsing into Stiles’ ass.

All the strength went out of Stiles’ limbs and he would have crumpled into a heap on the bed if Derek Two hadn’t caught him with an arm under his middle. He slowly eased his fingers out, leaving Stiles’ ass a little achy, twitching around Derek’s softening cock, but it still felt amazing.

“Oh yeah,” Derek Two said, nipping Stiles’ shoulder affectionately, “This is gonna be awesome.

Derek hummed in agreement, still grinding lazily against Stiles’ butt. He always liked to take his time pulling out. Stiles flapped a hand, let it fall back on the bed. It was gonna be awesome, all right, and they were gonna need way more lube, and a long nap.

~*~

Derek's bed was a queen size, which apparently did not qualify as a one-Stiles-and-two-Dereks size when it came to sleeping, and once they were all fucked out there was a little bit more snarling and grumbling until Stiles crawled between them and told them both to shut up. This was not an afterglow to be missed. Apparently Stiles was insanely compatible in bed with all Dereks.

Derek turned out to be the more cuddly of the two, mashing himself against Stiles like he usually did after sex, while Derek Two was content to sprawl out in all his naked glory with nothing more than a possessive hand on Stiles' thigh. And this was a part Stiles hadn't ahead to, but was almost as good as the sex—he could look his fill at one Derek while still getting all his warm little spoon snuggles from the other Derek at the same time.

What a waste they hadn't been doing this all along. They were gonna have to work overtime on making up for that.

He drifted off to sleep looking forward to scouring Xtube for threesome ideas, and woke up a short time later and turned over in Derek's arms, looking for some kisses. Derek still looked relaxed and sleepy, Stiles thought, which immediately jinxed everything, because at that moment Derek's eyes flew open and he shoved Stiles away as he sat up, clutching the sheets in his fists. His face was contorted in a grimace, his breath hissing through his clenched teeth.

"What is it? What's wrong?" Stiles asked, trying to keep his voice calm, even though he felt anything but. "Derek, are you o—"

"I don’t know," Derek choked out. His eyes flashed, which made Stiles' blood run cold. Derek had such good control—the last time he'd been unable to control his eyes, he’d been dying.

A pained gasp behind him made Stiles look over at Derek Two, who was just waking up, and appeared to be having the same problem, whatever it was.

Derek flung the sheet aside and stumbled to his feet, growling deep in his chest, and on the other side of the bed Derek Two did the same. They stared at each other over Stiles’ head, eyes wide and frantic, while Stiles nervously pulled his knees under him. He felt like he should be doing something to help, but he had no idea what. He wasn’t even sure what the problem was.

"Hey," he said anxiously. "Someone tell me what's happen—"

"I feel like—" Derek interrupted, voice hoarse, before he sucked in a harsh breath.

"Like I need to shift," Derek Two said, and then he did. They both did--fangs and pointy ears and claws and all. Whatever it was they'd broken with the spell, it was finally fixed—and then some, Stiles realized, because they kept going. Right past beta form and into alpha form, the big, hulking, not quite human and not quite wolf nightmare fodder form that Derek had tried so hard to obtain and had never even come close.

Holy crap. They'd been hoping to get the beta shift back, and somehow they'd managed to go beyond that. Stiles was about to let out a joyous whoop when he realized they weren't done. They were still changing, muscles rippling, snarling as their features contorted again.

Stiles knelt on the bed and stared, head swiveling from one to the other and back again as they fell forward onto all fours. Even more hair sprouted everywhere—fur, his brain supplied. Their jaws lengthened into actual muzzles, hands and feet transformed into paws, and a few seconds later Stiles was looking at two enormous black wolves.

"Holy. Shit," Stiles breathed. "You did it. You both did it." His voice cracked embarrassingly and he didn't even care. This was huge.

This was something Derek had never even talked about, aside from mentioning, a little wistfully, that his mother had been able to do it. Stiles knew it was rare, not all werewolves could do it, and he'd understood without being told that not being able to take alpha form took the wolf form completely off the table for Derek.

But not anymore.

Derek and Derek Two, meanwhile—they were so fluffy!—had met at the foot of the bed and were celebrating, barking joyfully and spinning in circles. There were tails and paws and wet black noses everywhere. It was…kind of adorable.

Until they rocked up against the dresser and Derek's piggy bank—a gift from Stiles when he'd been deep in his Three Little Pigs joke phase—came precariously close to falling off the edge. They were wrestling on the floor now, and all Stiles could catch was a bunch of playful yips and growls, and the occasional flash of fur.

"Okay, as much as I enjoy watching you guys re-enact the Puppy Bowl, can you not break stuff?" Stiles said. He'd had enough of that tonight to last a lifetime.

The commotion stopped and a shaggy head popped up at the foot of the bed, followed quickly by another. If Stiles had thought they were hard to tell apart before, now it was impossible. They were completely identical.

The wolf on the right was panting, tongue lolling out of his mouth, and almost looked like he was smiling, so Stiles decided that was probably Derek Two. The other wolf, presumably Derek, had put his front paws up on the bed and was eyeing Stiles with a proud glint in his glowing red eyes.

"We are going to kick the alpha pack's ass," Stiles said gleefully. Forget double the power—this was easily quadruple when you factored in the wolf shift for two Dereks. It had taken a lot of time and a lot of effort—and some pretty great orgasms—but the spell was now more successful than they’d ever dreamed. “They are so fucked and they don’t even know it.”

Derek Two yipped in agreement, and then they both leapt onto the bed, bowling Stiles over as they pounced on him and licked his face with their hot, rough tongues. “Ugh, gross, stop!” Stiles said, but all that did was spur them on. He heard something snap underneath his butt, probably some kind of vital support structure in the bedframe, but he was too busy being slurped half to death to do anything about it.

~*~

When Stiles finally got out of bed and limped out to the kitchen for coffee the next day, it was nearly noon, and he felt slightly battered but also sort of…pampered.

Derek Two definitely fucked different than Derek--he was more playful and lighthearted about it, whereas in Stiles’ experience being fucked by Derek was a little like going to boot camp: you'd come out a lot better for it on the other end, but you needed a lot of endurance and Gatorade. The combination of the two was enough to wear a guy out, but happily.

Stiles was, hilariously, shocked by the state of the living room, having completely forgotten about the brawl in all the excitement and orgasms that came after. Nothing was in one piece. Every bit of furniture was torn or broken, the TV tipped over, and Stiles couldn't even bear to look at the PlayStation. There was still broken glass everywhere, mixed in with dried out pieces of cucumber, so he wasn't going anywhere near it. He hadn't made the mess, and he wasn't going to clean it up.

He put some bread in the toaster, made Keurig cups for himself and Derek Two, and then started the old crappy coffee pot up for Derek. That was when he heard his phone ding, somewhere in the rubble, and realized the flaw in his plan of avoidance.

After walking gingerly around the perimeter of the mess until he spied his sweatshirt half under the smashed coffee table, he got the Swiffer mop—Derek Two owned at least one of everything in the entire Swiffer line--out of the closet and managed to use the handle to snag his sweatshirt and drag it over, thus sparing his bare feet.

There were two voicemails and an email from Deaton on his new phone. Stiles read the email while he ate his toast and jam, and waited for Derek's stupid outdated coffee to brew.

Stiles,

I've been doing some more research on that passage you sent me, and I've found a reference to it in another book. I suspect there was a mistranslation, and the operative word isn't "hold" at all. I think it's actually "embrace."

I don't believe it's meant in literal terms. Based on what you've told me, I agree with your theory that Derek Two is likely a part of Derek given corporeal form, and Derek's immediate and total rejection of Derek Two made the spell go haywire. He needs to embrace (ie accept) that side of himself, as soon as possible. That should fix the problem.

Stiles leaned to look through the open bedroom door at Derek and Derek Two, who were back in human form, tangled together on the bed, and naked as they day they were born.

Oh, he's embraced it, all right, Stiles wrote back, smirking to himself. P.S. It worked.

~*~

Two days later, Derek's pack and Argent's hunters held a summit in a party room at the Chuck E. Cheese's two towns over.

"Really?" Boyd asked, squinting up at the sign as the pack gathered in the parking lot. "We're doing this here?" The air was heavy and humid with pizza fumes.

"It makes perfect sense!" Stiles insisted. "No one's gonna try to kill anyone else with all these kids around." He was a little sensitive to criticism of the plan, because it was his plan.

"It's a great idea," Scott said loyally, slinging his arm around Stiles' neck. He and Stiles had worked tirelessly for the last day and a half on this meeting. Maybe they'd been a little punchy when they got to this part of the decision making process, but it still made perfect sense. Stiles would go to his grave insisting this was so.

"I haven't been to one of these since I was a kid," Emilio said. He jerked a thumb at Enrique. "He was scared of the giant mouse."

"I was three!" Enrique protested, but he looked a little nervous when they walked inside the place.

Okay. So one thing Stiles hadn't taken into consideration was the fact that a place like this would be complete and total sensory overload for werewolves. He knew that part of Derek's bootcamp involved working on fine-turning their senses, and learning how to dial them down for their own comfort and sanity, but right now even the born wolves were looking a little strained as they tried their best to block out the loud music, the flashing lights, and the sugar-fueled screams of a hundred over-stimulated children.

Stiles had a sudden, visceral flashback to being six years old, bloated with soda, shrieking at the top of his lungs in the ball pit. That had been the one and only time his parents had brought him here. He completely understood why.

Another thing Stiles hadn't considered was that it might look a little odd that they didn't have a single kid with them, but an apathetic high-schooler in a stained uniform didn't even give them a second glance before leading them to a smaller room in the back. It was thankfully much quieter, but harbored a creepy, silent animatronic band that promised its own brand of special horror later.

"Yuck, there's pizza grease on everything," Lydia said, arranging a bunch of napkins on the seat of her chair before she sat down. Jackson looked around him with disdain as he settled next to her, but that was his usual facial expression so it meant nothing.

The Dereks sat side by side at the head of the table. Inseparable now, it seemed, which Stiles found slightly hilarious.

Argent's people entered the room looking wary but confident. There were a few double-takes when they spotted Derek Two, despite the fact that they'd been briefed on the situation, but Stiles could sympathize--it had taken him about a week to get over the weirdness of seeing two Dereks wandering around, and one of his favorite hobbies was just watching Derek exist. It was probably even more jarring for people who didn’t spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating the pattern of Derek’s arm hair and other similarly worthy topics.

The one person who didn't seem to even notice Derek Two was Allison. She and Scott had eyes only for each other, sharing small smiles as she took a seat across the table from him. Stiles knew just by looking at them for three seconds that they were already back together, at least unofficially. Oh, boy.

The meeting went off without a hitch. Well, only a slight hitch, when Derek Two laid eyes on one of the hunters at the end of the table and announced she was the one who had shot him while he was jogging in the park.

"Serena?" Argent asked, lifting an eyebrow at her. She was young, probably just out of high school, with pretty blonde hair and bright blue fingernails. "This is the first I'm hearing about this."

"It's a good thing she missed," Derek Two huffed.

"I didn't miss," Serena said, leaning back in her chair. "How's your butt, by the way?"

"It was my leg," Derek Two insisted stubbornly, just as he had the entire time Boyd had been pulling an arrow out of what was definitely his butt. "And I wasn't even doing anything! I was jogging," he said indignantly.

"That's why you got a warning shot," Serena said. She looked so smug even Stiles was impressed, and he'd known Jackson Whittemore for almost fifteen years.

As if on cue, Jackson spoke up. "You were wearing those hideous neon shorts. It was a mercy killing," he said to Derek Two, who looked even more pained than he had with actual arrow sticking out of his butt.

"I think we should get started!" Stiles interjected, while Derek Two glared and Serena smirked and Chris Argent looked like he didn't know what was wrong with kids today.

Behind him, Stiles heard the ominous click and whir of the animatronic band coming to life. He hoped it wasn't an omen.

"Here's what we bring to the table," Allison said, and then, while Pasqually sang "You Spin Me Round," she laid out a list of their resources, which mostly sounded like some kind of weapons dealer convention.

Scott spoke for Derek's pack, summarizing the ongoing problem with the alpha pack, and outlining their idea for how to stop them. Chris Argent looked a little surprised—and a little impressed--to learn they'd already formed an alliance with the Sweet Peas. Derek Two noticed, and jumped in to describe how they'd worked together to get rid of the elves, and that seemed to mollify some of the more reluctant people on the hunter side. Derek's pack was capable of teamwork, and holding up their end of a deal, and was taking the protection of Beacon Hills very seriously. All good selling points.

It only took a few minutes after that to reach a deal, and set up another meeting, this one to hammer out a plan of attack. The Sweet Peas had already agreed to the use of their barn as a temporary headquarters, the closest thing there was to a secluded but neutral meeting place.

"They'll have pie and kombucha," Isaac said. He was the unofficial liaison between Derek’s pack and the Sweet Peas. Jackson never stopped making cougar jokes.

"What the hell is kombucha?" Stiles heard one of the hunters ask, but no one bothered to answer.

The Argent people left first, Chris hanging back while a noticeably reluctant Allison said goodbye to Scott. Everyone else, even Enrique, stuck it out for a while and ate crappy pizza and played arcade games. Stiles was a long-time skeeball wizard, and he won enough prize tickets to get a purple plastic crown for Derek, who gave him a vicious side-eye but left it on his head, even when Erica took a picture and posted it to her Instagram.

Derek's pack walked out of the Chuck E. Cheese's in high spirits, and with good reason. The two Dereks were getting along, there was a tentative truce with the hunters, and it looked like they might finally get rid of the alpha pack for good this year.

Then Stiles went home and got double-dicked by his sexy werewolf boyfriends.

What a time to be alive.

~*~

Every year when they came to town, the alpha pack stayed in a rental somewhere near the Preserve. This year they were living in the lone McMansion standing in an unfinished suburban development that had gone into legal limbo when the recession hit. The yard backed right up to the border of the Preserve, the closest they'd dared to come yet. Derek had been surprisingly sanguine about it, maybe because he was distracted by all the other problems in his life, maybe because he didn't live near the Preserve himself anymore.

The location and seclusion of the alpha house were definitely plusses for the Beacon Hills side, because it meant there was no one around to call the cops when Argent's hunters lobbed canisters of tear gas through the windows. Deucalion was definitely not getting his deposit back.

It took barely a minute for the alphas to come boiling out of the back of the house, where Argent's people were waiting for them, flanking their escape route to keep them moving in the right direction: into the Preserve. Right into the trap that had been built just for them.

What had once been a nice little clearing in the woods was now ringed almost all the way around by a huge wall of vegetation reaching to the tops of the trees surrounding it. It was rock solid, several feet thick, and sprouted right from the ground in an impenetrable weave of sapling trees and sturdy vines and tendrils of wolfsbane. The Sweet Peas had really outdone themselves.

The alpha pack barreled right into the clearing and then came up short when they realized they couldn't go through. Shouting warnings at each other, they wheeled around, but it was too late, the ring was closing, the opening narrowing down until it was barely six feet wide. Still too much for Stiles to defend on his own, but he wasn't worried. He walked up to it and stopped just before stepping into the circle itself.

The alphas were now grouped together in the middle of the circle, Deucalion standing front and center. He tilted his head and flared his eyes at Stiles. The other alphas were shuffling their feet restlessly, breathing heavy and snarling, wound up from their run through the woods, but Deucalion looked like he'd just stepped out of a limo.

"Interesting," he said. "He sent the human. Are you here to do a magic trick for us?" He was just as calm and smirking as always, and Stiles couldn't wait to see him get his ass handed to him on a platter.

"I already did one. Wanna see it?" Stiles said, lifting his hands above his head a little dramatically and then bringing them down in an arc on either side. The glamour hiding Derek's pack immediately blipped out of existence with a tiny popping noise, revealing a half dozen shifted werewolves inside the circle with the alphas, flanking the wall. One of them—Boyd, maybe—growled.

Most of the alphas darted quick glances at each other, but they didn't seem too worried yet. Deucalion himself lifted an eyebrow and tapped his cane idly against the dirt like he was bored.

"We're all very impressed," Kali said, not sounding impressed at all. Ennis looked like he couldn’t wait to start killing people, but what else was new.

"How about now?" Chris Argent said, coming out of the trees to stand next to Stiles. His hunters followed, some filing past to take up spots along the wall with the werewolves until the alphas were completing surrounded. The rest of the hunters gathered in a loose group behind Stiles and Argent, weapons ready.

Kali looked like she was holding back a laugh. "Really? That's your big move?"

"It will take more than a few wolfsbane bullets and some baristas masquerading as werewolves to stop us," Deucalion said. “You should know that by now, Stiles.”

"Hey now, only two of us are baristas," Erica pointed out. She and Enrique worked at the same coffee shop.

"I’m a barista, too," one of the hunters volunteered. Chris silenced him with a dirty look.

"But wait, there's more!" Stiles said, like he was narrating an infomercial. Someone snorted a laugh. Probably Scott—he appreciated Stiles' sense of humor more than anyone.

There was a brief pause where no one said anything or moved, and it went on until it started to get a little awkward.

Stiles looked over his shoulder, eyes straining to make sense of what was just a bunch of darker shapes in the dark woods. "That's your cue!" he hissed.

There was some rustling in the trees followed by murmured conversation, and then the hunters slowly parted to make way for the hedgewitches to take their place directly behind Stiles and Chris. The frizzy-haired one was so terrified she was quaking in her mom jeans, and Stiles wondered for a second if she was going to be able to help at all. Isaac, their designated protection detail and handler for the evening, was looming behind them, eyes glowing as he nudged them forward a little more. The frizzy-haired one needed an extra nudge.

Deucalion nodded at the witches like a king greeting his subjects. That guy was a real piece of work. "I've had several of your pies," he said in that genial-yet-creepy tone he used so often. "They're delicious."

"Thank you," one of the non-frizzy hedgewitches said politely, and then looked abashed when the other two elbowed her.

"Those pies are good. I say we let them live," Ennis chimed in. “They can’t be that dangerous.”

"Maybe they're gonna run us over with their mini-van," one of the twins said snottily. Ethan, maybe? The shorter non-frizzy witch made a gesture, and a vine of wolfsbane snapped away from the wall, quick as a snake, and flicked across the side of his face like a whip. "Ow! Motherfucker!" he yelled, slapping his hand over his cheek, hissing at the pain.

"Parlor tricks," Deucalion sighed dramatically, like this was all so tedious. "I thought perhaps this year you actually had managed something interesting, but I was mistaken," he said.

"Huh. Tough crowd," Stiles said. "I'll have to think of something better." He tapped his finger on his chin, pretending to contemplate, while several of Deucalion's pack rolled their eyes. "Oh! I know! Abracadabra!" He waved a hand with a flourish, and both Dereks, in wolf form, seemed to materialize right out of the darkness. That wasn’t even a magic trick—they were just that cool. They padded their way to the circle’s opening, weaving between Stiles and Chris to stand in front of them.

Now they had the alpha pack's attention.

The Dereks stood shoulder to shoulder, heads held high, eyes glowing red, while the alpha pack collectively shit their pants in fear. There was nothing more powerful than a werewolf in full wolf form--they were nearly impossible to kill. Even Deucalion was no match for even one Derek in wolf shift, and they had two.

"What the hell is this?" Ennis growled.

"Derek's started his own alpha pack," Stiles said. "But the price of admission is a little more doable. I imagine it'll grow pretty quickly."

"He's bluffing," Ethan-or-Aiden said. The one without the wolfsbane mark on his face. "It's a magic trick. It's just an illusion."

"You wanna find out?" Stiles asked. He was practically bouncing on his toes with anticipation.

"We can take them," Kali said to Deucalion, in a fit of either misplaced optimism or outright delusion.

"Are you sure?" Stiles asked her, letting a little skepticism slip into his voice. "We can make a deal. If you leave now and never come back, you get to live. If you stay, you die."

"I'd take the deal," Chris Argent said helpfully, cradling his gun in his arms like a precious baby.

"No one asked you, hunter," Deucalion said. He said the word "hunter" like it was a slur. His eyes flared and he looked at the Dereks. "You'll regret this," he said, voice rising. "Never trust an Argent!" He was already winding up to get really theatrical about it, Stiles could tell. Any second now he was gonna bust out his "I am the demon wolf!" line, which got more ridiculous every year.

"Are we gonna stand here all night and trade quips or are we gonna fight?" Serena asked.

"I say we fight," Isaac said, grinning, and the Dereks snarled in unison and leapt at Deucalion.

~*~

Scott and Stiles got stuck burning the bodies, as usual, but this time Allison and Chris helped. The Dereks hung around in the background in wolf form, fire glinting off their eyes, keeping watch when they weren’t gnawing on each other’s muzzles and play-fighting.

They were out of firecrackers and Stiles had forgotten to buy more, so they lit one of Allison's arrows and she shot it into the fire pit. That looked pretty cool, Stiles had to admit, even if you didn't get the same satisfaction that came from blowing stuff up. If he played his cards right, maybe Stiles could hand his share of the burning duty over to Allison—she and Scott would probably welcome the excuse to spend time together in front of a nice romantic fire.

Chris Argent took off once the flames started to die down, leaving Allison to squeeze into the Jeep with Stiles, Scott, and the two Dereks. It was past midnight when they finally got back to the Dereks' house but everyone else was still there, scrubbing blood out of their clothes and cleaning their claws, so they heated up a bunch of frozen pizzas and started a movie. The TV, which they hadn't had time to replace, had a big diagonal crack in one corner, but still worked fine.

No one commented on Allison's presence, or even looked askance at her. Scott was clearly overjoyed to have her there, and neither of the Dereks seemed to mind that she was in their house. Two weeks ago, Stiles would never have imagined such a scene possible, but a lot of impossible things had happened recently. Stiles had the two identical sets of teeth marks on his butt to prove it.

Speaking of which, neither Derek bothered to shift back to human form when they got home.

“Oh, stop gloating,” Stiles said as he settled on the couch with his slice of pepperoni, but he didn’t really mean it. The full wolf form was such an accomplishment that he was gloating a little over it, too. The looks on the alphas’ faces had been priceless.

“No one in our old pack could do that,” Emilio said, which only made the Dereks preen more.

The conversation hovered around the topic of the full wolf shift for a few minutes, but instead of wallowing in it, the Dereks flopped down in a heap in front of the couch, pawing and licking at each other like puppies, until finally Stiles got tired of the noise and the jostling and told them to knock it off. One of them nipped Stiles on the toe, but it was probably just on principle, because after that they immediately curled up in a big fluffy ball of wolf and fell asleep.

No one seemed inclined to leave, even after the pizza was gone and someone had switched the television to a Two and a Half Men rerun, but eventually Stiles had had enough pack bonding. He got up, yawning, and said, "I’m hitting the sack."

When he headed toward the bedroom, both Dereks immediately got up and padded after him. Stiles very purposely did not make eye contact with anyone else as he closed the bedroom door. That at least they’d found the time to replace, thank God.

Stiles stripped naked on his way to the bathroom, not caring where the clothes fell. Derek's bedroom had a great attached bathroom, with a big glass shower with two shower heads. By the time Stiles got the water adjusted to the temperature he liked, both Dereks were standing behind him, back to human, just as naked as he was.

The shower, while big, wasn't quite big enough for three grown men, but that just meant Stiles, sandwiched as he was between Derek and Derek Two, didn't have to even hold himself up, or wash his hair, or jerk himself off. Pretty sweet deal.

After everyone got to have an orgasm, they collapsed on the bed, for what Stiles thought was going to be a nice solid night’s sleep, but the Dereks had other ideas.

Stiles was sprawled naked on the bed with his arm draped over his eyes when someone’s mouth touched his dick, licking at it softly. He twitched, and felt his bent knee bump against damp hair, but it seemed like too much work to check which Derek it was—and did it really matter? The licking started out soothing and then turned teasing and then turned into sucking and then turned into deep-throating and eventually Stiles was hard again and not sleepy at all.

He finally lifted his arm and saw it was Derek Two—easy to tell now that he’d gone back to shaving. Derek was next to Stiles on the bed, head propped on his hand, watching with hooded eyes. Derek Two was absently stroking Derek's dick with one hand, like he didn't even realize he was doing it, the way you pet a cat without really being aware of it, just because it’s there.

Derek Two slowly dragged his mouth off Stiles’ cock and let it fall against his belly with a wet slap. “So what’s the plan for tonight?” he asked, resting his chin on Stiles' hip bone. He didn’t let go of Derek’s dick.

“Someone else can choose,” Stiles said, not wanting to be greedy. They’d already done a lot of stuff he’d wanted to try.

Derek Two raised an eyebrow at Derek, who said, “Don’t look at me. Stiles is the one with the spreadsheet.”

“I didn’t make a spreadsheet!” Stiles protested. It was just a list. Not even bulleted. “And just for that I’m not telling either of you what’s on it. You’ll just have to come up with something yourselves.”

“All right, roleplay it is,” Derek Two said decisively. “I get to be Gandalf.”

“Ugh, fine!” Stiles huffed, caving immediately under the awful images that invoked. “I want to watch you fuck Derek.” They hadn’t done that yet. So far Stiles had been taking all the dicks, and enjoying himself immensely doing so, but he was dying to see the Dereks together.

Derek managed to maintain a poker face, but his dick didn't--it literally jumped at the chance, twitching in Derek Two's hand. Derek Two's eyebrows snapped upwards.

"You like to bottom?" Derek Two asked Derek, eyes lighting up. He gave Derek’s dick a gentle rub, like he was soothing it.

"Yes," Derek said, looking a little defensive, even with the dick petting going on. He glanced at Stiles. "I like to make him do all the work."

"Hey!" Stiles said, irritated. He flicked Derek's ear. "Don't pull that shit on me. It's okay to like it."

Derek's shoulders drooped and he gave Stiles a guilty look, like a dog caught stealing food off the kitchen counter. "Sorry." He looked back at Derek Two. "I like it," he said, like he was daring him to make something of it.

"Hey, that's cool,” Derek Two said agreeably. “I'll totally fuck you." Derek's dick jumped in his hand again. “You can blow Stiles at the same time.”

Derek made a choked sound and his hips jerked, pushing his cock through Derek Two’s fist.

"Oh my God, I'm gonna cry," Stiles said, overcome. This was the happiest day of his life.

Derek Two grinned and licked a big sloppy stripe across Stiles’ balls as he gave Derek’s dick another stroke. So clearly everyone was on board with this plan.

Derek Two helped Stiles get Derek ready, both of them sliding slicked fingers into him, taking turns tonguing his cock, kissing his mouth, then kissing each other. Derek panted and whined through the whole thing, stomach heaving with harsh breaths until he finally spilled into Derek Two's mouth, his body clamping down hard around their fingers as they slowly curled deep inside, teasing the last shudders out of him. He was still hard when Derek Two urged him up onto his hands and knees and shuffled into position behind him.

“Wait, wait, I wanna see,” Stiles said, and both Dereks obliged by tilting Derek’s hips enough that Stiles, kneeling in front of Derek’s face, could see Derek Two push into Derek’s ass. “Oh my God,” Stiles said, feeling his spine turn to water as Derek Two’s dick slowly disappeared into Derek’s body, inch by beautiful inch.

When Derek Two’s hips met Derek’s ass, they sighed in unison, and then Derek Two and Stiles both laughed at that. Derek didn’t make a sound, and when Stiles looked down he recognized the look on Derek’s face, the way his brow was furrowed and his lip was sucked into his mouth. Stiles had seen that look a hundred times when it was his own dick making it happen.

But this time Stiles was kneeling in front of him instead, and took himself in an unsteady grip and slowly fed his cock into Derek’s mouth, easing the head past his teeth to rest on his tongue and then just holding it there, let him suck on it. Derek’s eyes fluttered closed and he swayed forward a little bit at Derek Two’s first real thrust, and the rest of Stiles’ dick slipped into his mouth.

Everyone froze for a second, Stiles clutching at Derek’s hair, Derek Two clutching Derek’s hips. Derek looked—God, Derek looked amazing, taking them both like this, eyes barely open, the muscles in his back jumping as he squirmed on Derek Two’s hard cock. His breath was already coming fast through his nose, tickling the hair on Stiles’ belly.

Then Derek made an annoyed sound that both Stiles and Derek Two interpreted as Move and things really got started.

Derek liked to have his face fucked slow and deep, and his ass fucked fast and hard, and they were happy to give him both. Stiles held Derek’s head in his hands and rolled his hips, dragging his dick across Derek’s tongue as slowly as he could bear to do it, all the while giving Derek Two short, breathless orders to fuck Derek faster, to really give it to him. Derek made increasingly desperate muffled noises as they worked their dicks in and out of him, fists clutching the blanket.

“You look really good like this,” Stiles said to Derek. The veins in his arms were standing out, his mouth a ripe red O around Stiles’ cock, back arched to practically present his ass to Derek Two for fucking. No one took a dick like Derek. No one took two dicks like Derek.

“Yeah, he does,” Derek Two agreed, humming appreciatively as he pumped in and out. Stiles tore his eyes away from Derek long enough to look up at Derek Two, whose chest was flushed red just like Derek’s always got when they were fucking, the flat muscles in his stomach flexing as his hips moved. His fingers were slotted in the cut of Derek’s hips, just like Derek did when he fucked Stiles.

“Oh my God,” Stiles said weakly, hips stuttering. Watching Derek fuck was second only to watching Derek get fucked—seeing both at the same time was like a lightning bolt straight to his dick.

“Coming,” Stiles managed to grit out just before he shoved forward one more time and then held Derek’s face against his stomach, groaning at the feel of Derek swallowing tightly around him. Stiles’ second orgasms were usually longer and stronger, and this one was like a fist squeezing tight in his belly and then releasing slowly, a series of hard pulses into Derek’s throat. Derek Two went still, watching, encouraging Derek to swallow in a rough voice as his hands slid up Derek’s back and then down and around to close around his hips again.

Derek Two started moving again, and Derek moaned around Stiles’ cock, dragging one final spasm out of him. Stiles, feeling like he’d been hit between the eyes with a two-by-four, pulled out of Derek’s mouth slowly, cradling his jaw in his hands as he dragged his dick down Derek’s lower lip.

Stiles slumped back to sit on his heels, hands still cupping Derek’s face, and leaned down to kiss his swollen mouth. Derek’s chin was wet and his eyes were squeezed shut, but he kissed back. Stiles felt him shift his weight to one arm so he could jerk himself off with the other. Derek Two was really giving it to Derek now, grinning as his hips pumped faster and faster.

“I’m close,” Derek Two warned, sounding a little out of breath but happy. Even moments away from coming he was still chipper and full of smiles, face a picture of pure joy, while Derek usually looked more and more pissed off the closer he got to having an orgasm. Stiles was used to it.

Case in point: Derek’s eyebrows were scrunched down, his jaw clenched as his breath hissed through his bared teeth. “So is he,” Stiles told Derek Two, petting Derek’s face. Derek turned to nuzzle into Stiles’ hand, mouth falling open as he panted harshly against Stiles’ palm.

Derek Two snapped his hips forward again, telling Derek that yeah, that was what he liked, that was what he needed. Stiles slipped two fingers into Derek’s mouth for him to suck and that was how Derek came, hunching his back to get Derek Two’s dick where he wanted it, sucking sloppily on Stiles’ fingers as he spilled into the sheets, whining like he was dying.

Derek Two rode him right down onto the bed, hips still humping, and pulled out to come all over his back and ass.

“Holy shit,” Stiles said shakily, unable to pry his eyes away from the sight of Derek Two straddling Derek’s thighs while his hand teased the last of few drops out. Some of it was pooling in the little hollow above Derek’s butt, trails of it dripping down his side onto the sheets.

“No kidding. I think my brain just came out of my dick,” Derek Two panted as he pitched over to collapse on the bed. Derek grunted in agreement and without lifting his face out of the blankets slapped a hand around, trying to find Stiles. Stiles took pity on him and put his hand in Derek’s.

Derek used it to tug him down, and Derek Two hitched over to make room for Stiles between them. Rumbling happily, Derek moved enough to bury his face in Stiles’ neck, which usually meant he wasn’t getting up anytime soon. They all really needed another shower, Stiles thought. In a minute he’d get everyone up. In a minute...

Stiles fell asleep with four strong arms around him, holding him tight.

~*~

Stiles woke up with two strong arms around him, holding him tight.

~*~

"He's just gone?" Isaac asked, looking devastated by Derek Two's sudden departure. "He just disappeared?"

"Yes!" Stiles said for the fifth time. "We knew this was going to happen!"

"No, we didn't," Isaac said. He threw himself onto the couch like a sulky five-year-old.

"I told you!" Stiles insisted.

"No, you didn't," Isaac said icily.

"Oh. Um. Sorry?" Isaac still looked pissed. "The spell only lasted as long as Derek needed him. And now he doesn't need him so…poof! Gone!" Stiles made explodey hands to illustrate his point. Isaac was not amused.

To be fair, they all missed Derek Two, at least a little. Stiles certainly would have enjoyed a few more days of double Derek action, but he didn't say that to anyone. And he wasn’t so sure Derek Two was actually gone so much as…reintegrated. He was holding off judgment on that until he had more evidence.

A few days after Derek Two disappeared, Derek set to work getting rid of his things. Most of the household stuff they kept, because it was still of use, but the motivational posters came down in a hurry. Derek let the pack members take what they wanted, for the most part, though a few items went to specific people. The guitar was handed off to an excited Scott, and Derek gave the yellow Beetle to Isaac, whose eyes nearly welled with tears over it.

Stiles helped sort through the clothes, and Derek kept a lot more of them than Stiles would have expected, mostly the T-shirts. The flip-flops, though, went right into the donation pile, along with the brightly colored shorts. A lot of Derek Two’s books went into a box, too, along with a collection of ceramic wolf figurines Stiles hadn't even known about, having never set foot in Derek Two's bedroom before this. Stiles thought Derek looked slightly embarrassed as he collected them off the shelf.

Right before they left for Goodwill, Stiles' Jeep filled to bursting, Derek went into the kitchen and grabbed the crappy old coffee pot.

"God, don't even bother donating that," Stiles said when he saw. "Even they won't want that thing. I'm pretty sure it's a fire hazard." It always smelled like hot wires when it was on.

While Derek was busy putting it in the trash bin in the garage, Stiles snuck one of the wolf figurines—the majestic black howling one—out of the box and positioned it prominently on top of Derek's dresser, right between Derek’s piggy bank and Stiles’ Despicable Me snow globe.

~*~

Stiles was busy with extra shifts at work the next two days, and when he finally swung by Derek's house again, he found the whole pack sitting in the living room, eating Rice Krispies treats Derek had made for them. He grabbed two gooey squares and squeezed himself into the big recliner with Derek, who grumbled about it, but shifted to make room for him all the same, and kissed the back of Stiles’ head when they finally got settled.

“So what are we doin’?” Stiles asked, a little afraid to hear the answer. He didn’t know if there was some new problem or…

“Wasting our lives in Beacon Hills,” Jackson said around a wad of marshmallow and cereal.

“Just hangin’,” Scott said, snuggling closer to Allison. There was a game of Risk in progress on the coffee table, and some Super Smash Bros on the television, and a few empty Taco Bell bags scattered around. That totally qualified as just hangin’.

Despite Jackson—and pretty much anything Stiles said about his friends could start with the words "despite Jackson"—the mood in the room was nice and mellow. They weren’t facing down any kind of crisis today. They could just hang.

Derek was nice and mellow right now, too, and had been ever since Derek Two disappeared. Everything about him just seemed softer and more open, and his attitude toward his pack was now tinged with what looked suspiciously like indulgent affection. He was content, and it showed.

Summer was almost over. The new school year was only days away, which for most of them meant leaving Beacon Hills. Last year, Stiles had been a little reluctant to go back to school, assuming that it meant the end of this thing between him and Derek. This year he knew it wasn't the end, but it wasn't any easier to leave. Maybe it was even harder.

After a while everyone else took off, in groups and in pairs, leaving Stiles and Derek alone in the house. Stiles grabbed the last Rice Krispies treat and took the empty pan into the kitchen. Derek came behind him with a bunch of cans and bottles he collected off the new coffee table. Ever since Derek Two's departure it had become glaringly apparent how much tidying up he'd done around the place. Derek was picking up the slack, though a little grudgingly, and his standards of cleanliness weren't quite as high.

"Wanna come over for dinner with my Dad tonight?" Stiles asked, while Derek was yanking the overflowing trash bag out of the can. They were planning to have Chinese food, which Derek loved.

"Sure," Derek said, without looking up. He didn't even hesitate, which Stiles considered a good sign.

"Good. Great," Stiles said. He took a deep breath and willed himself to say it before he lost his nerve. "I need to tell you something. When Derek Two was at the house, my dad was there.” He hesitated, then went for the rip-off-the-Band-Aid approach and said, “And so were Rachel and Edgar."

"So I already met them," Derek said, finally straightening up and looking at Stiles, a neatly tied Hefty bag dangling from his hand.

"I…guess?" Stiles said slowly, thrown by the use of the word "I." All summer Derek had been so adamant that he and Derek Two were not the same person, so it was strange to hear him change his tune so drastically now. "Yeah, you did," Stiles amended promptly. Never let it be said he wasn't capable of taking the easy way out.

Derek nodded, and something tight and uncomfortable Stiles had been carrying around in his chest for weeks melted away--the guilty secret of that afternoon he’d spent with Derek Two.

It didn't feel so much like betrayal now, now that Derek had accepted his other half. And that really was what Derek Two had been, Stiles was certain of it now—part of Derek, made whole, walking around.

The change in Derek since he’d accepted that side of himself was unmistakable, and the most obvious evidence yet that Derek really was putting his terrible past behind him. Derek had watched Derek Two care about people, and nurture them, and nothing terrible had happened. No one had died or betrayed him, and it had even made things better. Maybe it felt safe to do it himself now, after seeing Derek Two pull it off.

And there was no use hiding that side of himself now anyway, when everyone had seen it walking and talking for months, hugging everyone who needed it, drinking wine coolers on the patio, and going to poetry slams. His secret was out: he was a big softie with weird hobbies. Stiles was still really into him anyway.

They puttered around the house a little after that, and eventually wound up clearing out the last of the stuff in Derek Two's room, which was mostly clothing Derek wanted to keep, plus the computer and printer, which Derek was going to give to Erica. The last thing they did was strip the bed and take down a few pictures Derek Two had stuck on a bulletin board behind the door. They were mostly little photo booth pics, him and the other pack members, but there were a few he'd obviously snapped with his phone, and then taken the time to print on photo paper.

One of them was a picture Stiles had taken toward the end, in one of their precious moments of downtime in those final, harried days before their showdown with the alpha pack. It was a shot of both Dereks in full wolf form, lounging together on the grass in the back yard. He handed that one to Derek, who set it carefully atop a stack of socks and underwear and carried it out of the room.

When they were done, Derek Two's bedroom looked like a plain old guest room, no real personal touches in it all. While Derek went over the carpet with Derek Two's Dyson vacuum cleaner, Stiles put clean sheets on the bed, just in case anyone needed to crash here and wanted something more comfortable than the couch.

"Well, you've got more space at least," Stiles pointed out when Derek shut the vacuum off. He shoved the last pillow into its case and propped it against the headboard, thinking maybe Isaac would want to move in, since hiding his werewolfiness from his aunt and uncle was kind of a pain.

Derek beat Stiles to the punch, though. "Maybe you could move in for real now," he said, coming up behind Stiles and settling his hands on his hips.

Stiles straightened up but didn't turn around, feeling Derek's hands warm on him through his clothes, holding on, but not too tightly.

For real, Derek'd said, and the words tumbled around in Stiles' brain. That meant moving out of his dad's house, living here full-time when he wasn’t at school. His dad's house wouldn't be his house anymore, for the first time in Stiles' life--his dad would live in it alone. The thought gave Stiles a little pain right in his heart, but then he remembered the guest room there, newly painted and furnished, with a Wolverine night light already plugged into the wall, waiting. His dad wouldn't be alone, if everything went right.

Behind him, Derek was quiet, and his hands were steady. Even though Stiles practically lived here now, it still felt like a leap, and Derek was waiting patiently for Stiles to decide if he was ready for it.

"I could do that," Stiles said, tilting his head when he felt Derek's mouth press against his neck, his smile curve against Stiles' ear. "I guess I like you."

"I know I love you," Derek said and then squawked in surprise when Stiles immediately spun around and started play-slapping him in the head.

"What the hell?" Derek asked, trying to duck away. "Stop!"

"I can't believe you beat me to it," Stiles hissed, outraged, still batting at Derek's ears. "I was going to say it first."

Derek finally caught his wrists and yanked, pulling Stiles against his chest, hands trapped between them. "Well, tough shit. I did it."

Stiles glared at him. "You're such a jerk."

Derek glared back. "So are you."

"I love you, too," Stiles said testily. "Let's have sex."

"Fine," Derek huffed, and shoved Stiles down onto the bed, clean sheets be damned.

Stiles agreed with the philosophy that it was never too late to learn new things about yourself, and that day he learned he liked doing the gentle bone with Derek just fine. And maybe Derek smiled at him and kissed him softly, and maybe it got a little sweet and gross toward the end, but he liked that, too. He liked it a lot, actually.

~*~

It was a good thing Stiles had already fessed up to Derek Two's evening at the Stilinski house, because when Stiles and Derek got there, they walked into the kitchen and found Dad and Rachel and Edgar at the kitchen table, eating donuts. On Chinese night!

Before Stiles could work up any outrage over the donuts, Dad said, "Just in time! We've got news."

"We're gonna be brothers!" Edgar said excitedly…to Derek. Edgar was apparently a little confused about who was who in his new family.

"Great," Derek said, uncertainly. Rachel was holding up her hand, where the engagement ring sparkled on her finger.

"Holy crap! That's awesome news!" Stiles said.

"Swear word!" Edgar shouted.

Stiles hugged his dad, and then Rachel. In lieu of hugging Edgar, he handed over a quarter. Edgar pocketed it with a satisfied look and then took another bite of his chocolate donut.

"Have a seat, boys," Dad said, steering a wary-looking Derek toward the table. "Anyone want milk?"

"Derek'll have some," Stiles said, shoving Derek into an empty chair before taking one himself. Derek loved milk.

Rachel grabbed a plate and took a donut out of the box and set it in front of Derek. "This one is for you," she said, smiling.

Derek stared down at it. "Oh, maple," he said softly. "I love maple. And it has bacon on it. Thank you."

"Yes, I remembered," Rachel said, looking pleased. "You're welcome."

"Right, of course," Derek said, flicking a glance at Stiles before taking a bite.

"So tell us how it went down," Stiles said, grabbing a jelly donut for himself. The less everyone focused on Derek, the better, at least for now. Derek nudged his knee in silent thanks.

It took a while to tell the story, because Dad and Rachel kept laughing, and interrupting each other, and by the time it was done there was only one donut left in the box but no one could even think of eating it.

Edgar slid down from his chair and then made a beeline straight to Derek, climbing up into his lap like he was invited, while Derek looked like he had no idea what was happening.

"I got a new Wolverine," Edgar said, thrusting the toy at Derek's face. Stiles was ninety-nine percent sure he saw one of Wolverine's claws go straight up Derek's nose, but Derek didn't even flinch.

"Oh, yeah?" Derek said. He gently pried the action figure from Edgar's hand and gave it a thorough examination. "Wolverine's cool."

"Yeah. Wanna play X-Mens with me?" Edgar asked, closing his chocolatey little hand over Derek's bigger one so they were both holding the toy. "You can be Wolverine."

Derek looked over at Stiles, who smiled and made a shooing motion with his hand. "Sure," Derek said. "That sounds fun."

"You boys can go in the living room," Dad said to Derek. "Stiles can clean up."

"What if I wanna play X-Mens?" Stiles protested. Dad handed him a stack of sticky plates and looked pointedly at the sink.

"Fine!" Stiles huffed, while Derek got up from the table with Edgar in his arms and went into the living room, trailed by Dad and Rachel.

By the time Stiles joined everyone else, Dad was sitting on the loveseat with his arm around Rachel, and Derek and Edgar were engaged in an all-out tickle war. Wolverine and the other superheroes were scattered across the carpet, momentarily forgotten.

Stiles made the mistake of sitting down on the floor, and was immediately attacked, which wasn't fair because Derek knew most of the places Stiles was ticklish. And Stiles' dad—the traitor—helpfully called out the ones Derek didn't know about.

"We're the tickle monsters!" Edgar crowed, digging his sticky fingers into Stiles' armpit until Stiles squealed like a piglet. Derek laughed, eyes mischievous and bright, while Dad and Rachel looked on approvingly.

"All right, you boys better stop or you'll regret it," Dad said eventually, with all the weight of a hard-learned lesson in his voice. He'd once made the mistake of tossing kindergarten-era Stiles in the air right after he'd eaten two bowls of Lucky Charms.

Derek, picking up on Dad’s warning, backed off immediately, and distracted Edgar with his toys. Stiles lay on the floor next to them like a limp noodle while he recovered. His shirt was rucked up under his arms and one of his shoes was missing, and Derek was scritching his fingers through Stiles' hair, not tickling at all. He looked down at Stiles and smiled at him, then at Edgar, who had collected Wolverine and was climbing into his mother's lap.

“You know, Derek coaches a pee-wee soccer team,” Dad said, tugging on Edgar’s ear. He lifted a questioning eyebrow at Rachel. “Sunday afternoons at Cooper Gulch, if you’re interested.”

Stiles froze. Derek Two was the soccer coach, not Derek, and that job was one of the few loose ends that hadn’t been tied up yet. It had rained last Sunday, buying Derek an extra week in which to come up with an excuse for quitting.

Edgar had the opposite reaction to Stiles: pure, unadulterated excitement. “I have a soccer ball!” he exclaimed. He tugged on Rachel’s shirt sleeve, asking “Mom, can I play?”

“He’s only played with other kids in the neighborhood,” Rachel said hesitantly, looking at Derek.

“I think you’re overestimating the skill level expected from a league with the word ‘pee-wee’ in its name,” Dad said drily. “The last time I stopped to watch, one of the kids kicked the ball into the wrong net and scored a goal against his own team.”

“That actually sounds like a game I’d love to watch,” Rachel laughed.

“We’ve got room for everyone on the team,” Derek said, and Stiles tried—probably unsuccessfully—to hide his surprise. He glanced up Derek. Derek looked down at him and smiled again, and then helped him tug his shirt back down.

“We’ll come by on Sunday and see if he likes it. Maybe we can all go out for lunch afterwards,” Dad suggested. “The Melthouse is right down the street.”

“That sounds nice,” Rachel said. “We love the Melthouse.”

“Grilled cheese!” Edgar yelled, throwing his arms up in the arm. He turned a truly impressive set of puppy dog eyes up at this mother. “Can I get a shake, too?”

“We’ll see,” Rachel said, showing a greater resistance to puppy dog eyes than Stiles’ father had ever displayed. Poor Edgar.

“Maybe Stiles will share one with you,” Dad suggested. Stiles barely suppressed a snort. The man still had no resistance to puppy dog eyes. “He never finishes his.”

After Stiles got out his phone and checked his work schedule he agreed to come, and to share a shake with Edgar. There was no way he was going to miss a chance to watch Derek Hale deal with thirty little kids. It was probably going to be brutal. Stiles was going to take video.

“Come a little early, and we can go over the rules before everyone else gets there,” Derek offered.

“No hands!” Edgar said firmly. “That’s a rule.”

“That’s right,” Derek said. “No hands. Unless you’re the goalie.”

“Well, I don’t know the rules, so we’ll definitely be there early,” Rachel said. “Thank you.” She smiled at Derek, and then at Dad, who put his arm around her.

Stiles reached up and caught Derek’s hand, still idly rubbing through Stiles’ hair, and kissed the back of it before resting their joined hands on his chest. Derek gave Stiles’ fingers a little squeeze, but he was already deep in a conversation with Edgar about whether or not Wolverine would be allowed to use his claws while playing soccer.

Everything was going to be all right now, Stiles thought. The alpha pack was gone, Derek had come to peace with himself, there was a powerful alliance of hunters and werewolves and hedgewitches protecting Beacon Hills, and the Stilinski family was about to double in size.

More than double, actually, if you counted Derek. Which Stiles certainly intended to do when the time was right.

Everything was going to be just fine.

The End