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Derek didn’t ask to be an Alpha.

In fact, he never wanted to be Alpha.

That was Laura’s birthright...not his.

She was excellent at it...not him.

Sometimes, he would visit Laura’s grave and ask her why she had to die, leaving him not only the title of Alpha, but the pack she had started to create.

He knew it wasn’t her fault that she had died. Like their mother, Laura had tried to make peace with other packs as well as hunters. And it got her lured into a trap…resulting in her being hacked in half by their own uncle. Who, to add insult to injury, dear old Uncle Peter had the very woman that had manipulated Derek when he was younger, burned down their family, and had done an abundance of other awful things at side as a partner.

It hurt like hell to think that Laura would still be alive, that his family (including his traitorous uncle) would still be alive, if Derek hadn’t been a stupid teenager. And then this whole Alpha woes thing would not be hammering down on top of all his other woes.

He was not Alpha material. Just...wasn’t.

He was too bristly. Hard to approach. He swears that Laura’s Betas were scared of him. Even the few pack members that weren’t werewolves showed some form of fear towards him. And that just...wasn’t him.

Underneath all the emotionally constipation and anger and hurt…Derek was a big teddy bear.

A huge ol’ softie.

He loved visiting the animal shelters, playing with the cats (especially the kittens) and the dogs (especially the big ones). He adored kids and secretly hoped he could either find a nice girl that loved him for real and have kids with her, or meet a nice guy that loved him for real and they adopt since the orphanages for supernaturals were never short of kids in need of homes. He enjoyed reading Jane Austin (as well as Poe and that usually was what he purposely read around his pack so there weren’t stares). His favorite movie was Pride and Prejudice for Christ’s sake! (The Keira Knightly version for various reasons.)

Hell, the man listened to classical music when he baked or cooked for pack nights!

The fact that it was his own fault that the pack he watched his older sister build be skittish of him hurt just as much as his overwhelming guilt.

However, there was one pack member, even though he could smell her wariness of his presence, that never failed to confidently approach him and speak her mind.

Lydia was a Banshee, which she didn’t know about till a year ago. Like the rest of the pack, she was still in high school. (Though Derek could see her being able to graduate early and attend an ivy league college because she was just that smart. ) While the others would either cower or argue loudly or just glare back at him, Lydia would full on sass him and give him these looks that made him want to kneel before her and give her the title of Alpha.

Lydia was like a sister to him. Reminded him so much of Laura. That may be why when she snapped at him and he listened. Begrudgingly, but still listened.

He respected her above all else. A newbie in her own supernatural skin and handling it like a trooper. And having the balls to stand up to an Alpha despite being a little spooked by him. She was his right hand when it came to a lot of things. Mostly advice and translation for Latin texts (they came across that shit more than he’d like to admit).

Like right now.

Days, maybe weeks ago, the Hale pack found themselves face to face with a group of rogue hunters.

Derek had enlisted in the help of Chris Argent, brother of the woman that had used him when he was a vulnerable child. Thank god Chris was likable. Actually, Derek and Chris had become pretty close friends. An unofficial pack member, as he called it.

Anyways, he went to Chris for help and…and the pack lost Erica.

She was so young, and the only Beta Derek himself turned.

Scott, Laura's first Beta, had brought her in with Boyd, Laura's third Beta, and begged Derek to turn her. She was having a seizure. A bad one. She was likely not going to make it, or at least felt that way. It hurt Derek to the core to see so much suffering in someone who had so much personality to like (Boyd talked about her nonstop and admitted to Derek that he might be in love with her), and so much life to live. So Derek gave in and turned her.

Losing her before Chris could even track the rogue hunters’ hideout was devastating. Derek had walked out of the heavily fortified bunker with her corpse in his arms, tears threatening to fall down his face. The pack, even Jackson (still a mystery why Laura ever turned the brat in the first place) and Chris, were in deep mourning. They poured out condolences to Erica’s parents, who had just learned about the supernatural two weeks prior, and Derek offered to pay all of their funeral expenses. Fortunately they allowed that and said they didn’t blame Derek for her death. In fact, they thanked him for making her so happy until she died.

They may have not blamed him…but he did.

Like he always did.

And after the funeral, he hunkered himself down in the new Hale house that he constructed with Laura.

He barely responded to phone calls or texts. He told his packmates to inform him if something serious happened, but other than that to focus on school and being teenagers. They deserved time off from pack meetings and training. From feeling like they were going to die.

It was after some time of this that Derek sought Lydia out. Asked her to come over so they could talk.

“Hey, Derek.” she said quietly to announce her presence.

She didn’t need to do that. Derek could hear her pull up in her car and turn the key in the lock. But he was thankful that she was one of the few people that did that. Even with his hearing…he was still a slightly jumpy person.

“How are you?” she asked, still being soft and careful, as she sat next to him on the couch.

Derek shrugged. He looked like hell. He knew that. He had actually allowed himself to cry while he was alone in the huge house. Cried a lot. His eyes were puffy as a result and he was pretty sure his beard needed to be trimmed. As well as his hair needed to be washed. Lord, he probably stank. He should’ve showered before she got there.

Lydia smiled sadly, reaching out and cautiously patted his shoulder. He wasn’t big on touch. Not since… But he was thankful Lydia did that. He seemed to wake him up a bit and he glanced over at her with shame.

“What should I do?” he questioned meekly, his voice hoarse from the lack of talking and amount of loud sobbing.

Lydia tilted her head, looking curious. “About what?”

Derek motioned his hands towards himself, huffing. “Myself. I’m failing all of you. I should be be with you guys during this. Instead, I’m here…in this house…making myself feel worse…”

“Everyone grieves in their own way, Derek. You’re doing fine.”

He snorted. Fine? Yeah right. He was far from fine. He was a poor excuse of an Alpha…a leader…a mentor…a friend. He was failing at everything. Like he always did.

“I don’t even know how to look at Boyd now…”

“Boyd’s doing okay. He’s visiting the Reyes often. They are like family to him now. And it certainly is helping him cope by talking to them about their daughter and how much he cared for her. How sorry he is. Think they’re teaching him that secret recipe of Erica’s that she wouldn’t share with anyone.”

Lydia clicked her tongue, awkwardly patting his shoulder again before continuing on.

“We’re fine, Derek. Actually…we’re more worried about you. It’s always in the back of our minds. We always talk to each other, asking if you had said anything yet. I personally think Isaac is going through withdrawals. He loved pack nights more than anyone. And I know you think we’re all scared of you, which we are, don’t get me wrong, but we know you’re damaged goods and it’ll take a while for you to recover. We’re just waiting on that time. We still care and we miss you. Even Jackson, dare I say, misses you. Erica was the first Beta you personally ever made – the loss of her is going to tear you up. But…you shouldn’t torture yourself because you feel like you failed in some way. Instead…go for a jog. Go shopping. Get yourself out of this house and have some fresh air. It’ll do you a lot of good.”

Derek gaped at her in awe. Seriously, for someone who could make the ground beneath her figuratively quiver…she was a ray of sunshine right now.

“With that being said…” Lydia stood up, biting on her lower lip and looking a bit too happy to excuse herself. “I’m going to go out with Allison. I know, she’s an Argent. But she’s kind of like pack now. Her and her dad. And Allison, despite feeling jealous of her for all of five seconds, liked Erica a lot.” She started walking away from the couch before whipping around and pointing at him with her keys. “I mean it, Derek Spencer Hale. Get out of your house and have some air.”

The Alpha slumped on the couch, trying to hide his blush though she was long gone for it to matter. He hated it that she knew his full name. Oh the horrors of having Laura very pissed off at him that day. Luckily it was only Lydia that had walked in while Laura was screaming at him and no one else. Still hated it though. Hated even more that, once again, she was right. He needed to get out of this house.

But first…a shower.

He was starting to believe that he smelled like death.

~+~

The jog was doing wonders for him.

He should’ve known that a simple jog through the woods would be exactly what he needed.

It was clearing his mind…making him think more rationally.

He was mapping out plans on how to keep his territory more safe. His pack more safe. Hopefully without causalities. (Scott was big on protecting every single person whether pack or not.) It was going to be tough. Mostly because Derek wasn’t the greatest at plans and his pack wasn’t always the greatest at execution of said plans. But they were going to do this. They had to. He couldn’t bear losing anyone else. If he did...he would...

No! No negative thoughts!

That was Laura’s biggest pet peeve when she was alive. She used to swat him over the head with a rolled up newspaper whenever she’d catch him being negative. She did it later on with the other pack members in hopes of getting them out of the habit. But she mostly did it with Derek.

The memory made him chuckle softly and roll his eyes. Now that he thought about it, his big sis was a little weird. Maybe that was why she was so likable? It made sense. And if she was here…she’d be so proud that her baby bro was at least trying his best.

Even if his best sucked.

(If ghosts existed and Laura was one…hopefully ghostly rolled up newspapers didn’t exist.)

Suddenly, there was a shriek echoing within the trees.

Derek skidded to a halt, startled and instantly on edge. There went his peace. Down in a pile of wolfed out alarm. He stood there, sniffing out the air and keeping his ears peeled for the sound again.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The werewolf huffed, shifting back. Of course he couldn’t stand one moment without being paranoid. Why did he think he could?

Then, as sudden as before, it happened again. The shriek. Louder this time.

Derek wrinkled his nose and listened. It wasn’t human. Definitely an animal. A fox, to be exact. Weird…foxes didn’t come into these woods because they sensed the supernatural species that lived around or in them (aka werewolves). Foxes and wolves don’t get along, either. At all. Unless it was Kira. She got along with just about anyone. But normal foxes? They hated wolves.

So how did one wind up in the woods of Beacon Hills?

Better yet…why did it sound distressed?

He should ignore it. Wasn’t his problem. Wasn’t his issue to deal with. But the more those distressed shrieks echoed, the more a massive pit surfaced in his stomach. It was in so much pain and suffering…he couldn’t leave it.

He broke off into a sprint, following the shrieks.

However that fox got in here, it was in here pretty deep. The very center of these woods.

There was a sinking feeling that it got stuck in a trap. Advent animal hunters hunted and set traps out this far in. Talia Hale had made it that way on purpose. If this wandering fox happened to wander into a trap…

Derek bolted. Having been stuck in a trap before, he knew how it hurt: like a bitch. He wouldn’t wish that even upon his worse enemy. (That was a downright lie. He would wish that upon his worst enemy. He sincerely hoped that Laura was not a ghost with a ghostly rolled up newspaper that could read his mind…)

The Alpha weaved in and out of the trees, feeling his chest tighten with how fast he was going. That hadn’t happened in a while. Then again, he hadn’t been this focused on a goal that he had to run to in a while.

His senses smacked him, causing him to skid to a halt. Good thing, too. Tumbling down into a muddy ravine was not his idea of fun.

But that’s where the shrieks were coming from.

All the way down there. Struggling relentlessly. The mysterious fox.

It was small, not a baby but not an adult. And it was certainly not the typical red fox species native to California. No…this one was black with a sliver peppered face and white coloring at the end of the tail as if dipped in paint. There was something else strange about it. Something about the shrieking that seemed off now that Derek was close enough.

There was an undertone of human in the distressed noises.

Oh no…it was a shapeshifter of some sort. Had to be. Got stuck in a shift, and now stuck in a trap. Rare occurrence, but not impossible. Mind must’ve gone into shock mode and was now not thinking about the consequences of thrashing around in a trap that had its jaws on the back left foot. If it kept going…that foot was going to pop clean off and there would be blood. A lot of it.

Cursing under his breath, Derek rushed it down the ravine. Thank god it wasn’t steep or else he would’ve face planted it and rolled all the way down. No need to scare the fox-shapeshifter with that.

He made it to the bottom, heaving loud breaths. It caught the shapeshifter’s attention, thankfully stopping them from trying to fight their way out of the trap. Derek slowly started his approach with hands raised in a type of surrender. There was no time to catch his breath. He needed to get them out of the trap. Now.

But he only took a few steps towards the shapeshifter before they curled up around the trap and…growled. If that’s what you’d call it. Still, no matter how ridiculous in sounded, Derek stopped his approach and held his breath.

Okay…Plan B.

Derek slowly got onto his knees, hands still raised in surrender. This still didn’t calm the shapeshifter. They continued to growl and the fur started to bristle. Derek scowled and huffed. If he wasn’t so adamant on stopping this dumbass’ pain, he would just leave and let them suffer.

Hoping that the knowledge of making himself smaller would work, he reluctantly laid himself flat on his stomach and held his heaving breaths. If this didn’t work, he would have to use his Alpha abilities to render this shapeshifter to whimpering. Not his favorite thing in the world. Fortunately, the shapeshifter stopped the growls and went with lying there with a humanesque glare.

“You’re the one that got caught in the trap…” mumbled Derek sourly.

The shapeshifter snorted, resting their head on their front legs. Derek rolled his eyes and snorted back. He started to army crawl – eyes focused on the shapeshifter. They did nothing, staring right back at him. It was…unnerving. Like they were peering into his soul. Reading every dark corner like an open book. The werewolf brushed it aside, pushing himself forward with his goal on the forefront of his mind.

It wasn’t long before they were mere inches from each others’ noses, sharing the same breath. The shapeshifter closed the gap between them, bopping their noses together. Their eyes glowed violet willingly, as if inviting Derek to do the same. Wanting to keep the peace between them, Derek allowed his hazels to glow fire red. Doing that revealed a frightened and confused young man hidden away in the fox body. He was screaming for help. Begging to not be hurt anymore. Derek flinched, knowing those types of screams all too well.

“Don’t move, okay? I’ll get you out.” the Alpha whispered. “I’ll get you out.”

He reached out shakily, hoping that he wouldn’t be bitten. Keeping the Alpha eyes seemed to help him with that. The shapeshifter raised his head into the wolf’s hand, whimpering and shaking.

“I got you. I got you.” Derek reached out his other hand towards the trap while the first was combing through the fur. “You’ll have to hold still.”

That got him a snort and a lowering of the head. Well…guess that wasn’t too bad of a reaction. Could’ve been worse.

Derek slowly raised himself over the fox's shape, gripping carefully at the sides of the steel trap. His fellow shifter whined beneath him, nuzzling at his torso. He stiffened, not used to this type of touch. Been years since this type of touch. Felt...weird...

“It’s okay. I’ll get you out with your foot still intact.”

The shapeshifter whined, finding his way under Derek’s shirt, making him grunt and growl. This was seriously distracting. He was trying to pry open these metal jaws of death without taking out his fingers or the caught foot! The least this guy could do was leave him to his work!

He rolled his eyes, cautiously prying open the trap. It was taking longer than necessary. Mostly due to fox snout rubbing all across his stomach. He was even licked and it made him giggle. Giggle! This guy was ridiculous…

Finally, the trap snapped open. Breaking and never would have the ability to close on anyone or anything again.

Derek frantically wrapped an arm around the shapeshifter’s stomach and hoisted him up before scooting away from the trap as fast as he could. He knew it wouldn’t hurt them, but one could never be too careful. With the fox shape in his arms, he fell onto his back to take a deep breath of relief. Well that was over…but what now? The shapeshifter started whining loudly and wriggled lazily in his hold. With a sigh, the Alpha sat up and stared into the eyes.

“Not a word to anyone.”

The eyes narrowed and he just…sneezed. A large one. So large that it made Derek jump. This seemed to amuse the shapeshifter because it was making some type of laughing sound.

This was going to be a big pain in the ass, wasn’t it?

~+~

It was no surprise that the first member of the pack to show up was Scott.

Derek could lie and send a text saying a puppy was drowning to get Scott to come over, and the kid would be over in five seconds flat.

Luckily, Derek didn’t have to lie. He just simply texted Scott, and everyone else, that he had found a shapeshifter stuck in the form of a fox that was injured and he needed help.

Lydia didn’t answer, but Allison did. Said she would drag the Banshee away from the mall, and come over with a kit that would show whether or not the shapeshifter was tortured by hunters to go into this form. Jackson didn’t respond – no surprise. Boyd and Isaac said they’d be over as soon as they could. Kira responded with that the shapeshifter wasn’t a Kitsune because they don't shift and that she was going to be there asap.

Now Scott didn’t answer the text. Just barged into the house while Derek was in the upstairs bathroom with the shapeshifter, trying to get him from to hop out of the tub.

“Derek?!”

The Alpha heaved a sigh, pointing at the shapeshifter as if to say “Don’t you dare move with my back turned”, and left the bathroom. He walked down the hall to meet Scott at the stairs to scold him. He already had one freaked out person in his home – he didn’t need another. But, having heard him, Scott booked it up the stairs with heavy pants. Nearly collided into his Alpha.

“Where is it? Is it okay? Are you going to try to reverse the shift? What is it? A Kitsune? Will it be part of our pack? Did it heal? Oh my god, is it a girl? A boy?” Scott asked a million miles per second, barely taking a breath between words.

Derek scowled. He didn’t appreciate the slew of questions. So he reached out and swatted the back of Scott’s head. The younger werewolf yelped, jumping back and looking like a puppy was just murdered before him.

“You need to calm down.” growled Derek lowly. “He’s already skittish because I just tried to reverse the shift. He sees you like this...it’s going to make him worse. Do you understand?”

Scott nodded, still looking like a puppy was murdered. Derek rolled his eyes, heading back to the bathroom without checking if the Beta was following him. He needed to make sure the shapeshifter was still in the tub, and if he was then Derek would need to get him out and check on that injury again.

It was strange. That injury should be healing. All shapeshifters had the ability to heal. Maybe his wasn’t as strong and quick as a werewolf’s?

The moment he was in the doorway of the bathroom…he froze. Barely even grunted when Scott basically slammed into his back.

There wasn’t a fox in the tub anymore.

In its place was a naked, pale and lean boy who was about the age as the rest of the pack. He was curled up in the farthest corner he could get in with doe-like, whiskey colored eyes wide in terror. There was dried blood dotted all over his body, almost as much as the constellations of moles he had, that hadn’t been visible in his fox form. His hair looked like it had been dyed black with all the crusty dry blood in it. His lips were parted, releasing quiet and panicked bursts of air. He was shivering and was likely on the verge of tears with the amount of salt smells coming off of him.

Derek gawked, unsure of what to do. With the amount of fighting and cowering that this kid had done…he didn’t think his attempts to reverse the shift had worked. Seeing that it did shocked him more than if it didn’t. And seeing that raw fear that stabbed into his soul, smelling that raw fear that sank into his nostrils…

He felt kindred with this poor boy…

“Oh my god! Stiles?!”

Derek jerked to the side, startled close to heart failure. When in the hell did Scott get into the bathroom?! The young wolf bolted to the tub, dropping to his knees and leaned in closer to the terrified kid.

“Stiles! It’s me! Scott McCall! From school!” he cried out. “Oh my god, where have you been?! What happened to you?!”

With each loud, close to excited, outcry that came from Scott…the more the boy, Stiles, curled into himself. He started to whimper and cover his ears. As if the sound was too much. The scent of panic was rising more and more. Derek lunged forward, grabbing Scott by the back of his shirt and forcefully yanked him away. Scott landed on his ass with a yelp, snapping up at Derek and was about to ask what the hell. If the glare wasn’t enough, Derek started hissing as lowly as he could:

“I told you to be calm! You are scaring him!”

Scott barked out a nervous laugh, pulling away. “I’m scaring him?! How do you know you’re not the one scaring him?!”

Derek gritted his teeth, getting into Scott’s personal space. “Because I’m not in his face!”

The argument would have continued, since Scott was gearing up to retaliate, if it wasn’t for protesting whimpers coming from the tub. The werewolves looked up, confused by the sound. The boy, Stiles, was staring at them with guilt, like it was his fault they were barking at each other. His hands were twitching with uncertainty and he had his cheeks puffed up like he was attempting to pout, attempting to hide the guilt his stare reflected.

And he was standing.

Derek leaped over Scott, swiping the towel off the rack. He quickly wrapped it around the waist to hide everything. But it was far too late. He had seen it and it was stuck in his memory. How he wished there was mind bleach…

Stiles squeaked in his throat, confused and curious as to what Derek was doing. His hands reached down and tugged at the towel, blinking and tilting his head to the side. Derek grabbed at his wrists and held them above his head.

“Don’t touch that, okay?” said Derek softly. (Soft voices and soft touches for the not all there person, Derek. Softness was key.) “You can’t touch that. You understand? We aren’t touching this. Okay?”

Stiles huffed, rolling his eyes and easily leaned against the wall. He slipped his wrists away and started to fixate himself with picking the dried blood out of his hair. Derek sighed with relief, glad that he didn’t get flashed again. Intentional or not. Though, judging by how Stiles was acting, Derek was inevitably going to see Stiles’ junk again regardless.

He sighed again, rubbing his hands down his face. Not just because he was now realizing what he was getting in to (and that was babysitting a teenager that was mildly feral), but also to hide that pesky blush forming on his face.

He heard a throat clearing seconds later and had to suppress a groan. Right. Scott was there. Great. He cleared his own throat and dropped his hands down to face the Beta. Scott nodded, keeping a wary eye on the individual behind them (who was squeaking and touching everything).

“You said his name was Stiles?”

(Yes. He was acting like they both didn’t just see Stiles’ dick. There was no need to bring that up. Ever.)

Scott nodded, thankfully deterred from the subject of Stiles' flashing for the moment. “Yeah. Stiles Stilinski.”

Stilinski?

Oh no.

Derek was wrong .

He had absolutely no clue what he had gotten himself in to by saving Stiles and bringing him to his home.

The only Stilinski in Beacon Hills was the sheriff. He vaguely remembered seeing missing persons posters all over town for over half a month. He hadn't put together till now. That the kid on the missing persons posters was the same one in his tub covered in dry blood.

“Sheriff’s kid?”

“Yeah. He’s in my chem class. Plays lacrosse with me, Boyd, and Isaac too.”

Come to think of it…Derek remembered this almost scrawny looking kid on the bench during the lacrosse games he went to, to show support for the Betas, with the name Stilinski on the back. Number twenty-four. He would sometimes get the chance to play if someone was hurt.

Wasn’t half bad. Actually was pretty good. And whenever he scored, he would get overwhelmingly excited and fist bump Scott. Derek even remembered the first time Stiles scored the winning goal. Kid got so excited that he threw off his helmet. Drenched with sweat and eyes wide with the euphoria of being hailed the hero of the night didn't change the fact that he wasn’t too bad of a looker, either.

Had locked eyes with Derek that game. Seemed to freeze for a split second before grinning ear to ear and disappeared into the crowd of celebrating peers. The sheriff had weaseled his way into the crowd to give his son a huge hug, expressing how proud he was. Stiles told his father thanks (Derek was eavesdropping shamelessly, okay?) and stole another glance at Derek when he was able to get the chance. He smiled wide again and waved. Stunned, Derek waved back and strained a smile.

Derek glanced behind him. At the Stiles he had in his house now.

Stiles had been traumatized by something, there was no doubt about that. Between the shift he was stuck in when he was found, the head to toe dry blood crusted onto his skin, and the fact that he was acting like an innocent and curious little child…

Whoever did this was going to pay.

But that would have to come later.

The Alpha bowed his head, sucking on his teeth and cracking his fingers. He turned to Scott again, inhaling sharply and grunting, “Listen to me carefully. I need you to go to the sheriff’s station, ask to speak to the sheriff directly and in private, and when you have him alone…tell him that Derek Hale found his son and is taking care of him. Tell him that he isn’t all there and seems skittish to interact with much of anyone. If he wants to see him, he’s invited. Just warn him that his son might not recognize him. After that, I want you to go to Deaton -”

“But you hate Deaton.” interrupted Scott.

“I know. But I can’t pinpoint if Stiles still has any harmful drugs in his system. I don’t want to trigger a healing process if there is something in him that is making it slow.”

He pointed at the foot that had been caught in the trap when Stiles was a fox. It was still freely bleeding and it was apparent that Stiles was babying it.

“That still hasn’t healed. I don’t know if this is normal for him, or if it is result of being tortured, or whatever happened to him. Point is, I need to know what is or isn’t in his system. What has and hasn’t been in his system. Deaton is the only person that can tell me. He also might be able to tell me what Stiles is.”

“Wait...you don’t know?”

He rolled his eyes, sighing in exasperation. “No, Scott. I don’t know. Kira said he isn’t a Kitsune because they don’t shift into actual foxes. Which I already knew. Kitsune wasn’t even on my mind.” He folded his arms, again focusing his line of sight on Stiles (currently twisting the handle but not turning on the faucet). “While you’re at it…text the pack. Tell them when they come to wait in the living room and not make any sudden noises. Also tell them it’s Stiles.” He glanced sideways at Scott, giving him a disgruntled expression. “Got all that?”

“Text the pack. Tell them to not make sudden noises and to stay in the living room. Tell them it’s Stiles. Go to the sheriff, speak directly and privately to him, and tell him you have Stiles. Tell him he can come over if he wants but that Stiles may not recognize him. Go to Deaton and have him come over to see what is or isn’t, what has or hasn’t been in Stiles’ system. Got it.”

“While you’re at it, maybe sneak some clothes out of Stiles’ room. Find sweats, shirts, underwear, socks – comfortable clothing. Not sure how long Stiles will be here. I don’t even know if the sheriff will allow Stiles to stay or if he knows about us. But if he does -”

“Derek.” Scott reached out and gripped his shoulder. Tightly. “I got this. Just take care of Stiles.”

As if on cue, there was a loud thump and both wolves jumped. Turns out that Stiles was trying to play with the shower curtains and fell over in the tub, taking the curtain with him. He looked up at them with a dumbfounded expression, not sure if he should be upset or laugh. Derek closed his eyes and leaned his head back. Again, he had no clue what he had gotten himself in to. Scott sighed, massaging his temples.

“I’ll try to hurry.”

“That would be ideal.”

And that was it. Not another word was needed.

Scott left and Derek was once again alone with Stiles.

Who was lying there in the tub. Spread eagle. Sort of. Shower curtain skewed across him.

He made a noise in his throat and tilted his head again, seemingly gauging Derek. In the end, he smiled wide and squeaked, running the curtain through his fingers with intrigue. As cute as this was…it was also sad. And it was going to suck. Intensely.

Derek approached, being cautious. Didn’t want to spook him. There was no need for it.

However, instead of being spooked, Stiles eagerly scrambled up, chirping and flailing around, and made grabby hands at the Alpha. Derek froze – stuck in awe at this reaction. No one had been…excited…to see Derek. Not in a long time. Not since Laura. Not since his mother…

He broke out of his melancholy trance when a hand tugged at his arm. Stiles was leaning over, making disproving grunts and used some substantial strength to make Derek come closer while he was spacing out. Now he wanted Derek either in the tub, or to pay attention to him. Derek rolled his eyes for what felt like the millionth time within the past few minutes. Needy one. Joyous.

“What?”

Stiles tugged more at the arm, making those noises more loudly and with more energy. Derek pinched Stiles’ arm, causing the younger man to yelp and release him. He chuckled to himself, proud of what he did. He picked up the shower curtain, along with the rod that must’ve been under Stiles when he was down, and started to set off on fixing that.

Stiles made inquisitory hums, tilting his head for the third time and watched intensely. Now, normally, Derek would just grunt and huff and scowl instead of answer. But something about the way Stiles was watching him made him want to talk.

“I’m fixing the shower rod you bent and the curtain you knocked over.” He noticed a tear, sighing and held it up under Stiles’ nose. “See that? I have to get a new curtain. I don’t even know where this curtain came from.”

As a response, Stiles snorted and leaned against the wall. Derek shot him an ‘oh really’ face. Mildly feral or not, this kid had an attitude. Derek didn’t like attitude.

“My sister bought this. If you weren’t vacant right now, I’d smash your head into this wall.” He exhaled deeply, running fingers over the tear in the curtain. He humphed a quiet laugh and managed a sad smile. “Laura wanted this curtain so bad that she searched high and low for it. Said it was something dad would’ve bought.” His smile faltered, replaced with a sense of mourning. “Maybe I’ll ask Allison to sew it. Not on the best terms with her but…”

Stiles interrupted him. His face was pressed against the wolf's shoulder, nuzzling it. There was a scent of shame vibrating from him. Derek stiffened and just…watched. Mildly feral was a more than correct term. Despite having no vocal ability or knowledge of what anything was, he appeared to have a strong understanding of other things. If Stiles was this intelligent now…Derek couldn’t even imagine how intelligent he was before whatever happened to him happened.

Derek patted his head, grimacing at the touch of crusty hair. “You’re sorry. I get it.” He stepped away, resuming setting up the shower rod and curtain again. “You need to be more careful. No need for another injury.” He glanced down at the foot, brow creasing deeply. “That’s going to get infected…”

Stiles blinked, looking down at his foot. His face scrunched up and he hissed in the most comical way.

 

(Derek absolutely did not snicker at the ridiculous sound.)

The wolf finished resetting the rod and curtain, sighing for what felt like the hundredth time. Once that was over, he took a step back and peeled off his shirt. He was certain that Stiles wouldn’t know how to clean himself, so he would have to do it.

It was going to feel incredibly weird. Incredibly awkward. But it wasn’t like Derek hadn’t done this before. It was just…more willing. And there was intimacy involved. And it was a relationship.

He was praying that once Stiles came to his bearings that he would forget all this.

“I’m going to turn on the water now. Okay?” Derek pointed up at the shower head. “See that? Water. I’m turning it on. Okay?”

Stiles hummed, brows furrowing in disgruntlement. Maybe it would’ve been better to just turn on the water without the warning and embrace the frightened attack that would follow. Derek leaned in, turning the faucet on. He placed his hand under the water to check the temp, making sure it wasn’t too cold or too hot. While doing so, he heard Stiles cry out in surprise and continued to make the sound for a few seconds before crouching down and staring in awe.

It would be cute if the poor kid wasn’t out of his mind.

Happy with the temperature the water was at, Derek moved over to pull off the towel wrapped around Stiles. He closed his eyes tight as he removed the cloth, wanting to give Stiles respect. Stiles didn’t seem to mind this. There was faint splashing and happy squeaks, actually.

Derek stepped away to hang up the towel and nab a second one for himself. He undressed the rest of the way, his entire being flushing with sudden self-conscious thoughts. He wasn’t bad looking. He knew he was quite the catch. His body was not the issue. The issue was he felt like he was in some way taking advantage of Stiles for doing this.

“Don’t remember this…” he muttered under his breath, dragging hands down his face. “Don’t remember this and don’t have me arrested…”

He exhaled loudly, turning to face Stiles again. Still was splashing faintly and squeaking happily. This managed to bring out a smile on the wolf’s lips. Again, this would be cute if Stiles wasn’t out of his mind.

Derek stepped into the tub, closing the curtain. Careful to not startle Stiles, he leaned over and turned on the shower head with closed eyes. He half expected to be attacked and even prepared for it. When it didn’t come…he cracked his eyes open to see if Stiles was all right.

Stiles was more than all right.

He was back to standing upright, eyes wide with wonder. He looked around to see where this magical water was coming from. He saw the shower head and gasped so loudly that Derek tensed. His stare fell on Derek with an eye crinkling grin and a giggle. It was…heart breaking. To be driven to a point where you’re no longer you. It hurt to watch.

At least he was no longer in pain.

No longer in fear.

Derek bit back a smile, knowing that this was all bittersweet. Whoever did this to Stiles was eventually going to pay. But for now…it was shower time.

He bent down, picking up the pouf he had left in the corner from last time. Stiles was now watching him again, making excited chirps with a large grin split across his face. It was not helping with how much Derek was already feeling self-conscious. His cheeks, ears, neck – all on fire as he poured the body soap on the pouf. He cleared his throat, crouching down and definitely not paying any mind to the junk near his face.

“I’m going to clean your wound.” he said as calm as he could.

Hopefully Stiles couldn’t hear the quiver in his voice like he could...

The Alpha cautiously started to scrub at the wound, twitching at every flinch and whine Stiles emanated. And the more he cleaned, the more he saw that just how deep this wound went. He was certain that he could see white bone under all the blood and skin. Thank god he kept peroxide around just in case Lydia or the Argents got hurt.

He kept cleaning it, brows knitted together in concentration. Once he thought it was good enough, he rinsed off the pouf, added more soap, and then started cleaning the rest of the boy. Stiles was surprisingly cooperative after the cleaning of the wound, not moving a single inch with each scrub. Soon, all the gunk that caked the pale skin was gone, making him paler and that much more naked.

“Not a word of this to the others…” huffed Derek, very aware how red he likely was.

Stiles hummed in response, closing his eyes and leaned his head back so his face was getting the brunt of the falling water. He looked absolutely stupid. But he was happy stupid. Derek ducked his head, sucking on his teeth and shook his head. Embarrassing nakedness aside…this wasn’t so bad. That is, until Stiles grabbed Derek and pressed himself against the werewolf in a full body nuzzle.

Then it was horrendously bad.

In more ways than one.

~+~

Getting Stiles dressed, after the near disaster of cleaning the wound and wrapping it, proved to be an easier task than expected. He was all too eager to try on the pieces of fabric that he had seen Derek put on himself. Nearly took off the jeans Derek had thrown on so he could put them on instead. Derek had to swat at his hand and sternly tell him not yet. After slipping on a shirt, Derek discovered that Stiles was trying to put on the sweatpants laid out…on top of his head.

“That’s not where they go…” he huffed, disguising his urge to laugh.

Stiles made a confused hum before attempting to take off the sweats. Derek helped him out with that, shaking his head and biting the inside of his cheek to keep the laugh back. He set the towel around Stiles’ hip onto the bed, sat Stiles down, and started to carefully (and with tinted cheeks) slip on boxers that had been in a package since Christmas.

This made Stiles seemingly tense, but he eased up when the sweats and an old shirt were being put on.

Derek’s clothes were a bit bigger on the kid, but at least it was clothes until Scott came back with some. And Stiles seemed to like them. He was pulling the collar of the shirt to his nose and sniffing it, blinking up innocently at the wolf and pointed at him before smiling and running fingers through any bits of fabric that he could.

By then, everyone but Scott was in the living room of the Hale home. When Derek emerged downstairs with a curious and excited Stiles, there were a few gasps and wide eyes.

“Oh my god…it is Stiles…” Kira whispered, hand over her mouth.

Isaac approached carefully, gawking in horror. “I was in one of the searching crews when he disappeared. We searched days for him in the woods…”

“He must’ve been hidden well. Or outside of our jurisdiction.” Lydia said plainly, though her face clearly expressed sadness.

“He used to give me rides to school before I was turned…” Boyd stated softly, like a far off memory.

“You all sound so sentimental.” scoffed Jackson. “This jackass was the bane of my existence. Always glared at me for no reason at all.”

“You sure about that? If anyone needs constant glaring at, it’s you, Jackson.” humphed Lydia with an eye roll.

Jackson about argued with her over that statement, something he constantly did, but quickly silenced himself when he caught the scowl and glowing eyes of his Alpha. The entire time, Stiles was looking at each newcomer with curiosity and tugged at Derek’s arm with quick, sharp yelping sounds.

Well, minus with Jackson.

He hissed at that one.

Especially when Jackson appeared ready to challenge Derek.

“Looks like someone still doesn’t like you.” Allison snickered, reaching into her bag. She pulled out a small flashlight and glanced up at Derek with it. “Can I check something? It won’t hurt Stiles. My dad just wanted me to do a little experiment to see whether or not it was hunters that rendered him to…” She motioned to all of Stiles. “This.”

Derek hesitated. He didn’t want anything to spook Stiles in this fragile state. Even if it was harmless. He knew Allison wouldn’t hurt Stiles. Allison didn’t really like hurting anyone unless they had hurt someone she cared about or planned to hurt someone she cared about. Still…Derek was worried that something small like a flashlight could spook the chipper behavior Stiles had been exhibiting since the shower.

But they did need to know who exactly hurt Stiles, and Deaton wasn’t here yet…

Derek motioned for the boys on the couch to move, using grunts instead of words. Boyd and Isaac willing moved without incident. Jackson, on the other hand, had to be hauled off.

“Hey! I was sitting there!” he protested.

He was ignored, his usual whining being put beneath the importance of sitting Stiles down on the couch. Stiles breathed in loudly, like a surprised child on Christmas. He bounced himself slightly on the cushions – giggling and staring at the others in hopes that they would join him or something.

“You’re kidding me. You threw me off the couch for this lunatic?”

“I could throw you into the wall, if you’d like.” Derek retorted coldly.

Thank god that shut Jackson up.

Allison carefully approached, hands held up in surrender. She made sure to smile and show that she was no threat to Stiles. Stiles smiled back and tilted his head to the side while watching her. She crouched down, smiling even more and twisted the bottom of the flashlight. The light turned on…and that’s when things went south.

Stiles blinked, staring down at the flashlight with wide eyes. Before she could even lift it up, Stiles screamed and threw himself down on the couch in the fetal position. Allison hurriedly backed off, frantically turning off the flashlight. Derek lunged forward, getting down on his knees and grabbing at the flailing and screaming boy.

“Stiles! Stiles! Shhh! It’s okay! It’s okay!” he said in panic, at a complete loss at what to do. “You’re okay, you’re okay! See? She turned off the light. No light. It’s gone.”

Then, to everyone’s shock, Stiles sat up and clung to Derek, sobbing and making other distressed sounds. Derek froze, looking back at the pack in hopes that they would have an idea at what to do. Lydia made urging motions and mouthing to hold the upset young man. So, as awkwardly as possible, Derek pulled Stiles off the couch and onto his lap, rocking him and shushing him loudly.

“I-I’m sorry! I…I didn’t know he’d react like that!” Allison apologized with a choked voice.

“S'not your fault.” Derek grunted, struggling with calming Stiles down.

“So that meant what? He has a fear of flashlights?” Jackson said in a smart ass tone.

Derek didn’t see what happened, but he knew the result.

Jackson was flat on his ass with Boyd hovering over him, claws and fangs out and ready to go. Isaac was next to him, tense and ready to pounce if Jackson even dared to retaliate. Lydia appeared amused while Kira was full blown laughing. It was too much going on apparently since Stiles burrowed himself under Derek’s shirt and whined.

This was not ideal in any way, shape, or form.

God…where the hell was Scott?! He should be here helping keep the peace right now!

“Would you all calm down?!” the Alpha snarled, now struggling to get Stiles out of his shirt. “You’re scaring him!”

Jackson snorted, which resulted in Boyd stuffing him into the empty fireplace before bowing his head in apology to the Alpha. Everyone else tensed, warily looking at him.

It took what felt like hours to get Stiles out of his shirt (he eventually had Kira and Lydia help sooth him out), and get him back onto the couch. He had Isaac grab a couple blankets from the coat closet and Allison sit next to Stiles to make peace. Stiles fidgeted but relaxed and even started examining the curls in her hair once he was satisfied that she wasn’t going to bring out the flashlight again.

By the time the front door opened, Isaac had the covers wrapped around Stiles and Allison was now Stiles’ new best friend.

Scott came bounding into the room with a duffle bag, panting as if he had ran a marathon. He dropped the bag and came around the couch to see Stiles. Stiles chirped and poked at Scott’s arm with amusement. Seconds after Scott had entered the room, Deaton wandered in, that stupid smug face of his fixed into what Derek called 'I’m going to experiment on you and you have no say, I’m sorry’ expression. He gladly made himself at home in Isaac’s armchair, ruffling through his bag. Seconds after him came Chris, who looked grim and so serious that is made Derek’s skin crawled.

Then came the sheriff.

He was heaving heavy pants – eyes wide and heart thundering. Derek stood up, meeting up with him as he started running towards the couch.

“Don’t.” Derek breathed.

The sheriff gaped at Derek like the wolf just confessed that he was the one that hurt his child. “Don’t? Don’t? That’s my son over there! He’s been missing for half a month!”

“I know. But he’s…not all there.”

“You think I don’t know that? Scott explained it to me. I just want to see him.”

“Sir…I think I should tell you -”

“He was found in the shape of a fox. I know that, too.”

“And you believe it?”

“Considering that my son was exhibiting abilities no ordinary human could do, had told me to allow the Hale pack to take care of certain things, and was coming to meet with you the day he disappeared…yes. I believe it. Kind of don’t have a choice.”

Derek stared, gobsmacked at that point, not expecting any of that. And to learn that Stiles went missing on his way to come see him…that certainly didn’t make him feel good about himself. But how did Stiles already know about the pack when they worked hard to keep everything on the down low?

Stiles was smarter than anyone gave him credit for, wasn't he?

Bowing his head, Derek stepped out of the sheriff’s way.

The man deserved to see his son. There or not.

The sheriff didn’t wait for verbal permission. He fast walked over to the couch and quickly whipped down onto his knees.

The amount of relief and devastation in his eyes…no soul should have that kind of look…

Stiles blinked in confusion, head tilted and curious chirps vibrating in his throat. There was a brief flicker of recognition…but that’s all it was. Brief. Brief and depressing.

The sheriff reached out, his hand visibly shaking. When he touched Stiles…it looked like a surge of electricity coursed through them both. Small for the sheriff - medium for Stiles. But there was still an innocent and blank expression in Stiles. No other form of recognition like before.

How did it feel seeing your family not remember you? Derek knew he would’ve died of heartbreak. How close was the sheriff in doing that? How was he keeping a weak smile on his lips and nodding solemnly? How was he not bursting into tears out of relief or grief?

“If you don’t mind, Sheriff Stilinski, I think I should run tests now.”

Oh the amount of glares given to Deaton that very second.

Even Scott ,who worked for the guy at the vet office, glared. Even Jackson glared.

The sheriff was the only one that wasn’t giving Deaton dirty looks. Too busy drinking in that, whereas he was basically like a mute child at this point, Stiles was alive and well.

“Give him a few more minutes, Alan.” Chris stated coldly. “His son has been missing for half a month.”

The sheriff waved that off, standing and grunting. “I’m okay. I’d like to find out what happened to my son. And find out what he is, since that’s why he was coming to see you, Derek.”

“What made him think that I would’ve known?” asked Derek, his voice soft enough to have his entire pack give him concerned expressions.

“I never got the chance to ask.”

That was another punch in the gut.

Derek nodded, adverting his gaze. He didn’t need a cop to tell him he was suffocating himself in guilt. Not when his pack was already giving him that look of knowing.

“Okay.” Deaton cautiously approached Stiles as the sheriff was stepping away. He got down on one knee with his stethoscope in hand. “This will be cold. You understand? Cold?”

The sheriff flinched, now looking sour. In one quick motion, the Alpha was right beside the older man and staring right at Stiles. He could smell the anxiety building up in the young boy. Now standing there, he could see the wide eyed stare. He had a feeling this would not be good. But the very second Stiles caught Derek in his line of sight…he calmed. He calmed and chirped in his throat.

Eyes fell on Derek. All ten sets of them. He swallowed, focusing hard on Stiles so that he could ignore the stares.

Deaton shrugged, muttering to himself about something being interesting. “Okay, Stiles. I’m going to stick this under your shirt. Okay?”

He decided to get the end of his tool under the shirt by going through the collar. Stiles stiffened, humphing in discomfort. Fortunately that took only seconds before Deaton stuffed the stethoscope away in his bag and hummed. More relief left Stiles and he looked at Derek with excitement. Like…like he was saying, “Look look! I did good! Are you proud of me?!”

God, how much hurt was Derek going to be in for today?

“Okay, Stiles. Onto the next hurdle.” came Deaton’s voice.

The tense air of the room became thick enough to cut with a knife. They knew they had to figure out if there was anything left in his system and they knew that there had to be a drainage if there was. They knew that they had to figure out what happened to Stiles and they knew that it would need to be fixed. But if Stiles snapped at the Druid…

(Not like it would be a bad thing. Derek might enjoy it.)

(No…correction…he would enjoy it.)

The next tool Deaton pulled out was…a needle. A rather large needle. Made even the hunters and the sheriff wince.

“I don’t want to know what that’s normally used for…” Isaac quivered.

“Oh, I do.” Jackson smirked.

(Thank god for Lydia, because that smack to the back of the head had enough force to knock Jackson's ass to the floor. Saved Derek the energy of doing it himself.)

As Deaton got the needle ready, Stiles stared blankly. Like he had gone into a trance. Something seemed to be clicking and churning deep within his damaged mind. And that something was not good.

Stiles’ head bobbed, and there were deep, guttural growls trembling within his chest. It certainly made the wolves in the room became apprehensive. As well as the hunters. Kira and Lydia backed away, getting clear of whatever was going to happen. The sheriff twitched his hand instinctively towards his gun, but quickly pulled that away and backed up with Lydia and Kira.

The only one not affected seemed to be Deaton. He just gave Stiles a once over before resuming his preparation. There was nothing indicating that he was the least bit worried. Nothing new, but still highly worrisome.

Especially when Stiles’ appearance seemed to change…

These strange, dark veins that looked like cracking skin trickled up his right cheek with popping sounds. Between those veins formed a melted gold color that spread itself from under the jawline, all the way up to the bridge of his nose. The veins and golden patches started hissing and whistling, now making the wolves all back away as far as they could.

Stiles’ right eye slowly shifted into a different color – away from the whiskey it was before. It was more of an opal and clouded gold that consumed all but the whites of the eye…and it started makings its way to the left eye once it finished with the right. The veins and gold patches began forming on the left side of his face, connecting at the nose bridge and crawled onto the corner of his lips.

The hissing and whistling stopped. So did the growls Stiles was making...only to result in something else.

Deaton gripped tightly onto the boy’s arm, ignoring the changes upon the face, and brought the needle close. That’s when Stiles broke from the trance. His strange eyes widened in terror and he thrashed about against the Druid. Deaton fought with him, determined to get that needle into the arm. During the struggle, the needled brushed against the skin but didn’t go in.

But that didn’t matter. Not to Stiles.

The very second he felt that cold metal, he unleashed a bloodcurdling scream. Finally, it clicked for the Druid that something was wrong.

“That’s not possible…” he whispered, frozen where he was. Just…staring at Stiles like he was some newly discovered species.

Stiles thrashed around, screaming louder and louder as well as swatting at something invisible. Then, he bolted straight up on the couch with eyes the size of tennis balls, getting right into Deaton’s face. He opened his mouth wide, almost unhinging, as he screamed like…like…

A Banshee.

The force of the scream flung Deaton across the room, slamming him against the wall right next to the fireplace. And Stiles kept screaming and screaming and screaming! Isaac, Boyd, Scott, and Jackson were starting to fall to their knees as they covered their sensitive ears. Allison, Lydia, and Kira huddled together in shock, gawking in disbelief. Chris had to hold the sheriff back from rushing to Stiles, shouting that they didn’t know what would happen if he got caught in that scream.

Derek was the only one that decided to sacrifice himself to try and stop Stiles.

The Alpha ran right over, making sure to come at the side. He launched himself onto the couch and wrapped his arms around Stiles, who started to claw at his arms to escape. And he kept screaming.

“Stiles! Stop! It’s me! It’s me!”

That seemed to trigger something in Stiles. His scream turned into a hoarse croak. He blinked, eyes and face returning to normal. He looked up at Derek, whimpering and experimentally poking at the scruff. When he was certain that this was Derek and he wasn’t going to hurt him, Stiles relaxed and started crying, clinging onto the werewolf for dear life. He sounded so hoarse and weak that it broke Derek from the inside again.

“What in the hell is going on?!” the sheriff barked, tearing away from Chris and rearing his head towards Deaton. “What the hell just happened to my son?!”

“Sir…please…” Scott said meekly, quickly standing beside the angry father. “Getting angry about it isn’t going to help anything.”

“You want an answer? Here’s one: your son is a freak.” huffed Jackson, still shaking from the sound of the scream.

“Now is not the time for you to be a jerk, Jackson!” snapped Kira (something rare because Kira was the queen of nice).

“I could put you back in the fireplace…” Boyd grumbled, glancing at Derek for approval.

“I second that notion.” Lydia hummed, throwing Jackson a dirty look.

“No one is doing anything.” hissed Derek, growing more and more agitated with every little thing as time went by.

The room fell silent. The only real sound was the tiny sobs and jumbled whimpers Stiles was making. Which were joined by Deaton, who was groaning and crawling to his feet. He sighed, limping back over to his bag and placing the needle back inside. When he straightened back up, he gave this look that made Derek faintly worried.

“Well…to answer all the questions…what we have here is what is known as an Aos Sí, or Aes Sídhe. They are a group of supernatural races in Irish and Scottish mythology. A Banshee is in that group.” Deaton explained matter-of-factly. “What Stiles is specifically is what is known as Ghillie Dhu. They are described as a lone fairy male that has dark hair and lives in wooded areas. They are benevolent, but can be wild, and have a strange loyalty to little children. They also wear leaves and such for clothing supposedly.”

“That’s not possible. A Ghillie Dhu hasn’t been seen since the 1920’s.” Chris interjected skeptically.

“Hence why I said 'that’s not possible’ when I got a good look at his face. And the fact that he is in the Aos Sí family means he could easily mimic other abilities from other Aos Sí members. Such as the Banshee scream. And the shapeshifting. Many in the Aos Sí family know how to shapeshift, though none of them shift into foxes specifically. Also, there is not much known about the Ghillie Dhu other than what I have told you, which is basically a wikipedia definition. So a lot of it is still a mystery as to what he can do and what appearances he can have.”

“So we have an illusive fae folk on our hands, is what you’re saying.” Allison concluded, fingering her necklace with a pensive expression.

“Exactly. And I think whoever took him knew something. Had to have been possibly tracking his movements.” Deaton turned his attention to the sheriff. “Has Stiles complained about feeling like someone was watching him or that he caught someone following him before his disappearance?”

The sheriff shook his head thoughtfully. “No. He was…actually reclusive before he disappeared. Constantly on his laptop. Constantly printing out something from his computer. Constantly highlighting and scribbling down notes on those papers. He seemed obsessed with something. Last thing he said to me was that he was coming here to talk to Derek.”

“Do you have any idea why he would want to talk to Derek?”

“Probably looking for answers.”

Derek cleared his throat, wincing at all the eyes focusing on him. “I think I might know why he wanted to talk to me.”

“Do you mind sharing, then?”

“Well…if this was the right time frame…we did just fight off a bunch of fairies trying to invade the territory and flush out anyone or anything that lived in Beacon Hills.”

“That’s right…” muttered Boyd.

“Do you think he knew about that and figured that we may have information on more fae folk?” Isaac asked with skepticism and interest.

“I would say he already knew that you did.” Chris mused. “See…werewolf clans like the Hales keep records of hundreds, if not thousands, of supernatural creatures like hunters do. And Derek here has that whole thing memorized.”

“Mostly.” huffed Derek, face growing warm.

“But how would my son know that?” the sheriff inquired, brows furrowed.

“Same way he knew about us, I guess. We are good at faking just how normal we are. Made sure of it. Somehow Stiles saw through that and knew.”

“See? Freak.” scoffed Jackson.

(Boyd stuffed him back in the fireplace, naturally. Isaac helped.)

“Is that also why he’s so attached to you? Because he knew?” Scott pointed out as it would appear that Stiles had fallen asleep on the Alpha.

“No, that’s not it. It could be that Derek was the one that found him, saved him, and took care of him that Stiles is most comfortable around him. It’s like he imprinted on him. Which is strange for a Ghillie Dhu. They usually like children more. Then again, Derek didn’t try to hurt him, so Stiles’ inner instinct could perceive Derek like a child.” hypothesized Deaton with an even tone. “Which means until Stiles is fully back in his head…he’ll have to stay with Derek.”

Deaton turned to Sheriff Stilinski as the man started to form an argument. “It’s for the safety of everyone. Right now, Stiles only recognizes Derek as an ally. The rest of us are anomalies to him. We don’t know what else he could be capable of if he is in a place he no longer recognizes. And I don’t think anyone else wants to feel his version of a Banshee’s scream. It wasn’t pleasant for me to experience.”

He picked up his bag then, sighing with content and exhaustion. “And if he can pull off a scream like that that can launch a full grown man into a wall…I’d say all the toxins from whatever was put in him has flushed out. He would’ve been sluggish if not. Just keep an eye on his wounds and if you have any questions – don’t hesitate to call. He needs sleep, food, and all other basic needs to live. You might need to attempt triggering him out of his state of mind, but do it in a positive way. Such as put on children’s movies for him, or read to him. Teach him how to get dressed, wash himself, read, properly eat – all the while being gentle and positive to him. One negative reaction will cause him to likely pull away and sink deeper into himself. In the meantime, I think a certain few of you should be looking out for whoever captured and harmed him. They might not like the idea of losing their golden ticket so willingly.”

And with that, Deaton left.

Just…left.

His words hanging like death in the air.

Some seemed wary about the whole thing. Others seemed excited and ready to do this. Derek was in the middle. Mostly because he felt horrible for not allowing Stiles’ father to take his son home after not seeing him for half a month.

“Can I come visit him?” Sheriff Stilinski asked solemnly, staring at his sleeping child.

Derek nodded immediately. Who was he to deny a father the right to see his child?

Satisfied, the sheriff smiled weakly before excusing himself and mentioning he would keep search teams away from the Hale property. Jackson took this as he cue to leave, mumbling about wanting nothing to with any of this. Chris excused himself shortly after and offered to start tracking down whoever it was that harmed Stiles. Everyone else stayed put – awaiting orders or something of the like.

But Derek didn’t have anything else to tell the pack because he didn’t know what to say. They had an illusive creature in their midst and they (mostly Derek) had to care for said creature. And they would have to do it blindly.

Well…wouldn’t be the first time Derek had done something blind.

Wouldn’t be the last either.

~+~

Stiles slept for hours after passing out in Derek’s arms. Didn’t so much as twitch when Derek had set him down on the couch and moved away.

Everyone else left after trying to come up with plans and care shifts. In the end, Derek said it would be best if he was the one that visibly cared for Stiles, but if anyone else wanted to make Stiles food or help encourage Stiles’ learning then they were welcome to do so. He was wary of some them joining Allison and her father in tracking down Stiles’ abusers. But since he couldn’t do it himself...

While Stiles was snoring away on the couch (drooling last time Derek checked), Derek went to the kitchen. Deaton said to feed the kid so that was what he was going to do. And if Stiles didn’t like it? Too bad.

For once, being called Pack Mama because of this attitude seemed more truthful than a teasing statement.

Potato soup sounded nice. His mother used to make him this delicious potato soup whenever he felt like shit. Even if it was a hundred degrees outside, if her baby boy was feeling like shit, then by god he was getting potato soup! And, well, Stiles might not be outwardly feeling like shit ,but he could be inwardly.

So...potato soup it was.

While making it, he figured that some music would be nice. Signal where Derek was should Stiles wake up and start panicking. Lindsey Sterling should do nicely. One of the only artists that surprisingly didn’t hurt his ears. And he wasn’t sure how sensitive Stiles’ ears would be either. If her music didn’t hurt his ears then it should hopefully not hurt Stiles’ either.

Win-win.

The Alpha absorbed himself in his cooking, feeling at peace with the world. There was no pack. There was no grief. There was no Stiles in a mildly feral state. There was just him and the cooking. At least for a while. He knew eventually the world would come back, and it would hurt all over again.

“Dare-ick?”

Derek paused, straining his hearing. Did he just…did someone just say his name? And in a child-like voice that was learning how to say his name?

When nothing happened, he went back to the cooking. Shrugged it off as the usual spurt of faulty hearing werewolves could have.

“Dare-ick?”

Okay…no…that was a voice.

Someone was saying his name.

Derek stepped away from the stove, moving quickly towards the voice. He was prepared to launch an attack if needed because no. He was not going to be snuck up on in his own home! He barely made it to the kitchen archway when Stiles nearly bumped into him. The fae’s hair was tousled from sleep and his eyes looked a little glossed. But the very second he saw Derek…his entire being lit up.

“Dare-ick!”

It took everything in Derek’s power to not fall over out of shock. He ungracefully stumbled against a nearby counter, gawking at the boy. Did Stiles just…did Stiles just sat his name?

“Wha?” was all Derek could say.

Stiles, proud of this reaction, bounced up and down while clapping his hands. “Dare-ick! Dare-ick! Found you!”

A heart attack was so warranted.

This was a far cry from the little sounds made what felt like just a minute ago!

Now…now Stiles was talking like a little three year old just learning words and how to put them together. Granted, the way he said Derek was a bit off but…Stiles was talking. He was fucking talking!

Derek gathered himself and gripped Stiles’ shoulders, not even remotely trying to hide the fact that he was purely excited for this moment. “What’s my name? What’s my name, Stiles?”

Stiles beamed, biting his lip playfully and holding his balled up fists on his chin. “Dare-ick!”

“Good job, Stiles! What’s your name?”

That took a bit to get through. His brows furrowed in concentration. The chirps and whines came back as he was trying to think what his name was. Derek was about to stop him, feeling like maybe that was too much for Stiles to do all at once. The little bit already said would do. But as he opened his mouth to tell Stiles that it was okay and to not worry about it -

“M-M-M-Mści…Mścis…Mścisław.” The frustration left his face, replaced by excitement. He flailed his arms around, patting Derek’s shoulders hard. “Mścisław! Stiles!”

Good lord…no wonder the poor kid went by Stiles. That name was a handful for anyone. Fully there or not. Still, it was impressive that Stiles fought to say both his real name and his nickname. Derek smiled fondly at him, nodding in approval.

“Good job!” he said cheerfully (which honestly sounded weird coming out of him). “You’re doing such a good job!”

Stiles chirped happily, bumping his head against Derek’s neck. Which made Derek stiffen and make this odd sound in his throat. That was a bit too…intimate for him.

He carefully pulled away from Stiles, nodding again with a faltering smile. “I’m making food. Are you hungry?”

The fae bounced, eyes glistening with eagerness. “Dare-ick! Dare-ick! Noms!”

If this wasn’t so sad and had such a terrible back story…this would’ve been goddamn cute!

Story of his life right now...

~+~

It was crazy how quick Stiles was learning in such short spans of time.

He was either being taught three words a day, or just spewing out eight of them at random.

He knew the names of everyone in the pack and even strained himself to get to that point. In the end, they were like Derek's name: said oddly and sometimes clipped.

There was Buh-oidfor Boyd. Lih-dee-uhfor Lydia. St-cott for Scott. Isa-ickfor Isaac. Ku-reesfor Chris. Ass for Jackson (even made Chris die of laughter). Al-lee-sunfor Allison. And Key-ruh for Kira.

When the sheriff came over for a visit, Stiles immediately cried 'Papa’ and waved enthusiastically.

He figured out how to reuse a spoon and fork easily, though a knife was still a rough battle (usually ended in a tantrum and a broken plate). He was a bit sloppy when drinking from a bottle or a cup, but if Derek even so much as grabbed a sippy cup lid (the girls had been kind enough to do some toddler friendly shopping) there was hell to pay. Amazing amounts of hell.

He refused to have a child’s book read to him unless it was Dr. Suess. He would whine until Derek would cave. Even pouted if Derek didn't read the damned thing at the right speed.

He found an intense love for Avatar The Last Airbender (the show of course – the movie was not to be spoken of in Derek’s home), Scooby-Doo (the original – the newer junk was also not to be spoken in Derek’s home), and the How To Train Your Dragon movies. He taught himself, and Derek, how to say what he wanted to watch. If it was Avatar, he would squeal ’Yip-yip’. If it was Scooby, he would cry out 'Zoinks’. If it was How To Train Your Dragon, he would hum 'Tootless-Tootless’.

He knew when he was tired and would tug at Derek’s shirt until the werewolf carried him to the guest room right next to the Alpha's room. And he would stay in bed all night – not leaving till morning.

He figured out how to work the television and he almost got the dressing himself down to the tee. It was those damned pants that still got him. He still needed help with washing, but he was getting there.

And if his healing wound hurt, he would tap Derek’s shoulder and whimper 'ow’ while pointing at the bandaged ankle.

It was amazing and Derek did everything in his power to make sure Stiles knew how proud he was. And when Stiles knew that Derek was happy with him…suffocating hugs all around.

He wasn’t stupid either. Derek already knew that. But for the others it was a bit hard for them to treat him like he wasn’t a small child. Stiles would make deadpanned faces if something ridiculous was said, he would glare at Jackson whenever he entered the room and sometimes launch him into the fireplace if Jackson made him angry, and if Deaton swung by for a check-up…

Stiles’ nose would flare, deep growls would rumble in his chest, and his face would shift.

When Chris came by, he would look sad and tried to drag off someone to another room with him (usually Scott or Lydia) while Derek spoke with the hunter. If there was no one, he would turn up the TV and pretend not to listen in on the conversation.

Three weeks had gone by with little to no hint on who captured Stiles.

The most Chris and Allison were able to find was a bunker deep in the woods, way out of the Hale territory line, that were full of torture devices. There were cages, whips, chains, dirty needles…and clothes. The clothes were all that they brought back for obvious reasons. When Stiles saw them…he flipped. His eyes blew open wide and he covered his ears, thrashing about on the couch and screamed 'no’ repeatedly. Luckily, Scott and Isaac were there that day and they leaped into action to help stable Stiles.

Needless to say that was all they needed to know. That those were Stiles’ clothes…and that the bunker was where Stiles had been tortured.

“It’s a hunter set-up.” Chris told them solemnly. “Which means our theory of Stiles having been captured by hunters was right.”

“Do we know who it was?” Derek asked firmly after the Betas left with a sobbing Stiles. (Who might have been begging for Derek…)

“No. Just that they were rogues. Likely wanted to get information about your pack from him. Then, unfortunately, discovered that the human they caught wasn’t so human.”

“How can we find them?”

“I think I can find traces of where they could’ve gone. It might take me a while, but I’ll find them. Don’t worry.”

And that was the last update that Derek had on the search.

The last significant update.

Still, life went on and Derek continued to help Stiles relearn as much as he could.

It started to become a routine. A comfortable routine.

It was softening Derek and he found himself not only smiling more, but talking to Stiles about things he never talked about.

He talked about how in high school he was a basketball star and how he sometimes played on the baseball team. Talked about his family and how much he loved them, how much he missed them. Talked about Laura and what a good sister and Alpha she was, and how much he missed her and wished she was still the Alpha instead of him.

Talked about how much he hated that he allowed himself to trust Kate, the woman who had manipulated him, and how much he wished he never met her. Talked about how much he detested his uncle for betraying Laura with Kate, and how much it hurt to know that becoming an Alpha was more important than the life of Laura. Talked about how he was scared of being an Alpha and how felt that he was failing at every turn.

He poured his heart and soul out to this kid, who probably didn’t even fully understand him. But he was proven that Stiles indeed understood. When he started to surprisingly cry, Stiles wrapped him up in a warm hug, proceeding to force Derek to lie on his lap. Lanky fingers combed through thick, dark hair as a tune was hummed. Derek found himself falling asleep on the fae’s lap, waking up hours later with the pack there and all of them (with the unsurprising exception of Jackson) smiling warmly at them.

The routine went on as they waited for information and for Stiles to break free from his locked mind. Derek was getting closer to his pack, even became good friends with Sheriff Stilinski. And, though it was wrong in so many ways, Derek was finding himself falling for the fae.

He wished he knew Stiles in his true form, his true personification, so he could discover if it was this version he was falling for…or if it was Stiles altogether.

Either way, he was not acting on it.

Had to protect Stiles – help Stiles.

Not take advantage of him…

As the fourth week started to roll around, Derek crawled into his bed with a heavy sigh. Chris had called and said that he may have found something connected to Stiles that morning, so hopes were high. But just an hour ago, Chris called back. Said that it was a group of rogue hunters he found all right…but rogue hunters that were a bunch of kids and knew nothing about the Hale pack.

It was a crushing blow that ruined Derek’s mood for the rest of the day.

He snapped at anyone that came near him. Including Stiles.

When he finally went to bed, he wasn’t surprised that Stiles had stayed in the living room with the TV on. He felt immensely guilty for snapping at everybody. More specifically Stiles. He would have to do something tomorrow to make it up to the pack and the fae. Something huge. Maybe bake for them. But what to bake…?

Hours of sleep passed by before Derek’s hearing caught the sound of his door opening.

This wasn’t anything new. Stiles sometimes would do this in the middle of the night. For what reason Derek didn't, but he didn’t mind. Probably was a comfort practice.

However, this time was different. He heard feet cross the wood, not even bothering to be silent. A body mass hung over Derek, which was extremely unsettling to say the least. And it just…stayed there. Stayed there for ages. Hanging in silence before…

“Kochanie?”

The different voice spooked Derek. He bolted up, fangs at the ready and eyes glowing. Imagine his surprise when he saw Stiles there, looking sleepy and disgruntled. Derek gaped at him, stunned that the sweet, childish voice he was used to hadn’t been used. Instead, something deeper and faintly raspy had taken its place. Not like it was bad. It was soothing, in fact. It was just strange to hear it coming from Stiles. What was even more strange was the fact that instead of Dare-ick…he was called kochaniedarling.

Stiles crawled into the bed without prompt, huffing and puffing as he took the empty space on the left side. Derek continued to gape at him, brain trying to find a reason for all this. He soon got his answer after Stiles wrapped himself in the covers and laid there with eyes fixated on the wolf.

“I remember everything.”

The statement knocked the wind out of Derek. Remembered everything? Did that mean Stiles was finally awake from the darkness he had been in?

Before that could be asked, Stiles fell fast asleep in a comfortable ball beside the werewolf mass as if he belonged there. Derek’s heart thundered in his chest and he tried to get himself back to sleep once he laid back down. Questions were swimming around that, sadly, would have to wait until they both were awake the next day.

~+~

When Derek woke up, Stiles was upright in the bed staring at the wall. He seemed to notice that Derek was awake because he rambled off the answers to the questions hanging on the tip of the tongue before they could even get out.

Stiles had parked on the outskirts of the reserve that Derek owned, deciding to walk the rest of the way so he could think of what he could ask the Alpha. That’s why his car had been found in the woods (which Derek had no knowledge of until now). On his way over, he was attacked by some hunters, beaten unconscious.

When he woke, he was in the bunker, hung on the wall by chains. The hunters started to scream questions at him, demanding answers of what he knew of the Hale pack and how to destroy them. Surprisingly, Stiles knew a lot more than he had ever let on. But he didn’t let those bastards know that. He told them to fuck off and that he didn’t know shit. (“My exact words.” he noted with a smirk.) Of course they didn’t like that and started to torture him.

That’s when they noticed his slow, yet highly quick healing.

Once they discovered that, they performed tests and demanded to know what he was. Stiles didn’t know at the time, so he kept saying that. They didn’t believe him. They whipped him, electrocuted him, branded him with hot irons, injected him with god knows what. If he passed out…they would shine a flashlight in his eyes before beating him with it. He was nearly starved to death at one point and they had to feed him from then on so that their toy didn’t die.

Eventually, their leader showed up and somehow found the way to reveal what Stiles was when his lackeys tried everything in the book. So he knew, before Deaton even said it, that he was the illusive Ghillie Dhu. Or at least was one of those. This proved to be better than eliminating the Hale pack and they were prepared to move their precious cargo to show off to other hunters with liked minds.

That’s when Stiles managed to shut down – crawl into the very void of his mind and escape.

“The leader was named Gerard…and he wanted you guys gone to avenge Kate.”

Derek’s stomach sank and he almost puked. But despite that, he called Chris the very second Stiles said he had nothing else to say and relayed everything. Chris informed him that he would gather some of his fellow hunters gone good and the police.

Hours went by with nothing.

The pack gathered around, being a support group for what seemed like a half dead Stiles. He wasn’t social and appeared deep in thought. But if Derek left the room…he was right behind him. He kept muttering his thank you’s and how sorry he was for being a royal pain in the ass. Derek shrugged, grunting over and over that it wasn’t a big deal.

“It is to me, kochanie…” Stiles would reply softly every time, somehow knowing that the word made Derek twitch in good ways.

Finally, Chris called. Gerard and his men were found in an abandoned bank in the industrial district, plotting the recapture of Stiles and the destruction of the pack. They were all in custody and a case was easily being built up against them.

Minutes after the call, Sheriff Stilinski showed up.

The reunion left the room in tears. All with a single, tight hug. It was clear how much father and son loved – needed – each other.

Stiles went home after that. As he should have. He belonged with his father. With his family.

So then why did Derek ache so much when he found himself in an empty house?

Correction…house empty of Stiles.

He knew that he couldn’t act on his feelings towards Stiles. He wasn’t even sure if it was just the mildly feral Stiles he had fallen for. If he could be able to stand Stiles when he was fully recovered and feel the same.

It was better to not find out. So, begrudgingly, he went through life the same as he had before.

Except he had some changes.

He was more open with the pack – more willing to act like a big brother or father figure to all of them. He enjoyed his Tuesday nights with the girls, baking and watching sappy movies, sometimes sparring. He enjoyed his Wednesdays with the boys, running through the woods and playing video games. (Scott finally got his wish of game systems in the Hale house.)

He enjoyed the movie night sleepover he decided to have on his Fridays, and then go out for breakfast or brunch on Saturdays. He was starting to feel like a real Alpha now. He could feel that his pack had started to view him as someone they could confide in instead of being slightly scared of him. It felt good – great.

Derek was finally  feeling whole.

That is…until a month had gone by and a familiar face had popped by.

Derek had been out shopping, and when he came back an unfamiliar Jeep was parked outside the house. He grabbed the groceries, cautiously going inside. There, on the couch, watching Avatar, was Stiles.

The Alpha tensed, heart in his throat. He had worked for a whole month on forgetting that he developed any form of anything towards the fae. Infuriated would be too tame of a word to express how he felt right about now. And it wasn’t towards Stiles. It was towards himself.

“What are you doing here?” he growled, glaring daggers into the back of that tousled haired head.

Stiles didn’t respond immediately. But when he did…it was by a scoff and a series of flailing motions until he was on his feet and in front of Derek. The expression he wore was so different than what Derek had been used to. There was slyness popular with most fae folk glistening in his eyes. His lips were curved in a crooked grin. And the air around him was…healthy. 

 

“Awww. Are you trying to say you didn’t miss me, sour wolf?” teased Stiles, his head moving along with his words.

Well shit…Derek was screwed. Why? Because he already was liking this Stiles, too.

The teasing persona lessened, easing into a softer form. He playfully punched Derek’s shoulder without much force behind it, a low hum following.

“I, uh, stopped by to say, again, thanks for dealing with me when I was…you know…feral and a serial flasher.”

He shrugged, sighing a little too heavily. "You don't need to keep saying thanks."

Stiles threw his hands up, looking insulted only a little. “Well..what if I want to, furball?!”

Derek raised his brows, giving him that same look he had given him all that time ago. This made Stiles chuckle, and he playfully punched Derek again, as if his constant thanking was a little joke. Then, his face softened more. It became…fond. He licked his lips nervously and refused to make eye contact. But his fist remained where it was…and it was quivering.

“You know…it’s still weird not having you in the shower with me. I, uh…half expect you to suddenly be there…offering to wash me up. Hoping for it, actually…”

While Stiles laughed that off anxiously, Derek stared wide eyed. He would be lying if he had said he didn’t miss their showers. Hell, Derek missed all interactions. And he did his best to hide that in all the new pack activities he did.

To hear that Stiles missed it too…

“I know that I’m not exactly the same anymore from when you knew me…” Stiles continued, fiddling now with the strings of his worn down Beacon Hills High Lacrosse hoodie. “But…I was wondering if, you know, if you, um, didn’t mind…if…if we could…you know…er…fuck this…”

He grabbed Derek’s face with a firm grip and…and kissed him.

It wasn’t sloppy, but wasn’t all clean either. There was a form of shyness and desperation in it that couldn’t be placed. And oh god it was doing things to Derek.

Before he could drop the groceries, Stiles parted and quickly backed away. Which, after Derek could gather his bearings, was not acceptable. He set the bags down carefully (no need to break the glass he had in them), and lunged forward. He may have been a bit too rough in his approach since he knocked them both into the couch, followed by them falling onto it because Stiles stumbled backwards and took Derek with him. Stiles was in the middle of barking at Derek his 'what the hell’ set of words before being silenced by Derek kissing him with a needy hunger.

The noises Stiles made should be illegal. So very illegal.

Stiles ended the kiss again, smirking as he peppered Derek’s neck with nose nuzzles and kissing pecks. Now it was Derek’s turn to make noise. He could say he was not happy about it…but that would be a poorly written lie.

“So…can I take that as a yes?” Stiles hummed, combing lanky fingers in the dark hair of the Alpha.

Derek rolled his eyes, starting to push himself up. “You can take it as an invite to a joint shower…after we put away the groceries.”

The bright smile Stiles displayed was a surprising reminder of how all this happened in the first place. “Yes, sir, Alpha, sir!”